Police Work, Politics and World Affairs, Football and the ongoing search for great Scotch Whiskey!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Hopefully John Walker gets his correct punishment facing his final Judge

Walker is arguably the worse spy of the 20th Century. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg may top him but they only gave the Soviets something they would have developed in time. Walker spent years spying on America and to his dying day wasn't ashamed that he did it for one reason, the money. As he was being arrested the only thing he tried to do was make a deal to keep him as double agent against the KGB. I think the FBI and CIA were wise in not taking his suggestion.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely and no one thought higher of Walker's abilities than Walker himself. He also tied his older brother and children into his network. The only reason he was not executed was the government wanted to know what he had compromised. From what I've read his disclosures to the Soviets cost us over one billion dollars to correct. It's amazing what a few determined people can do.
John Walker Jr., spy ringleader, dies in prison at 77

Former American sailor convicted of spying for Soviets dies in prison

John Walker Jr., a former American sailor convicted during the Cold War of leading a family spy ring for the Soviet Union, has died in a prison hospital in North Carolina, officials said Friday.

He died Thursday at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke told the Los Angeles Times via email. Prison officials did not release a cause of death, and the North Carolina Medical Examiner's office had no immediate information on the cause of death. He was 77.

Walker was considered the ringleader of a spy ring that authorities at the time said was among the most damaging in U.S. history.

His brother Arthur J. Walker, who made $12,000 for selling classified documents to Soviet agents through John, died in the same federal prison in Butner, N.C., in July. He was 79.

John Walker Jr. was said to have throat cancer. He was set to be released in May, according to federal authorities.

When the family espionage ring was uncovered, John Walker Jr. was cast by authorities as its amoral mastermind, a manipulator who got his son, Michael, his older brother, Arthur, and his best friend, Jerry Whitworth, to join him.

Walker started spying in 1967 during his Naval career and sold the KGB "vital U.S. cryptographic secrets that had allowed Russian agents to decipher approximately one million coded Navy dispatches," wrote Pete Earley, author of "Family of Spies: Inside the John Walker Spy Ring."

His 18-year spying career was uncovered after his ex-wife, Barbara Crowley Walker, alerted the FBI in the midst of a custody battle between her daughter, Laura Walker Snyder, and her son-in-law, Mark Snyder.

Snyder admitted to The Times that he had once threatened to “disclose whatever I knew” about John Walker if his son was taken from him, but denied knowing any specifics about Walker being a spy. Fearing she might not ever see her grandson again, Crowley Walker went to the FBI, she testified.

John Walker Jr. later agreed to a plea deal, cooperating with federal authorities and testifying against Whitworth in exchange for securing a lighter, 25-year sentence for his son, Michael.

Rest in piss Walker. I for one am glad to see you no longer taking my tax dollars you disgrace to the uniform.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Officer Down

Police Officer Scott Patrick
Mendota Heights Minnesota Police Department
End of Watch: Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Age: 47
Tour: 19 years
Badge # 2231

Police Officer Scott Patrick was shot and killed while making a traffic stop near the intersection of Dodd Road and Smith Avenue, in West St. Paul, at 12:20 pm.

Officer Patrick was standing next to his patrol car's door when the subject fired multiple shots, striking him in the head. He was transported to Regions Hospital where he succumbed to the wound.

The subject, who was identified as a fugitive, opened fire on officers who located him in St. Paul approximately seven hours later. He was shot and wounded by the officers before being taken into custody.

Officer Patrick had served with the Mendota Heights Police Department for 19 years. He is survived by his wife and two teenage daughters.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

And this is why I'm giving the man money

The issues that came out of a police shooting in Ferguson have shown why cops needs lawyers as well as other services to make sure they can do their job.

In the days immediately following the shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson the usual suspects (The Justice Brothers) were on the scene riling up the locals. And the out of town rent a mobs were there to raid people's businesses. And finally that "activist" Attorney General Eric Holder stuck his stupid nose into the situation and did his best to inflame the people of Ferguson. I don't recall him going to visit the officer who had his address broadcast on CNN and USA TODAY. Not, not be outdone, the moron senator from Missouri has stuck her nose into it.
New fear: What happens in Ferguson if no charges?

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Conditions calmed this week in Ferguson after nights of sometimes violent unrest stemming from the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer. But a delicate and crucial question lingers: What happens if the grand jury now considering the case doesn't return a charge against the officer?

The fear among some local residents and officials trying to maintain peace in Ferguson is that failure to charge the officer could stoke new anger among a community profoundly mistrustful of the legal system. Many say they just hope the grand jury's decision, whatever it is, has irrefutable facts to back it up.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill told The Associated Press she's pushing for federal and local investigations to be completed around the same time so that all evidence in the case can be made public — a step many consider important should prosecutors decide not to charge the officer. Her office said Friday that the Department of Justice hasn't given a timeline for the federal investigation, which centers on whether a civil rights violation occurred when officer Darren Wilson fatally shot the unarmed Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

McCaskill, a former prosecutor in Missouri, said she's hopeful the physical evidence in the case — including blood spatter patterns, clothing and shell casings — will provide "incontrovertible facts" about what happened during the shooting. She said whatever local prosecutors decide, it will be important to explain the decision by providing that physical evidence, and that won't be possible if the federal investigation is ongoing.

McCaskill said she urged Attorney General Eric Holder during a meeting earlier this week to speed up what is typically a lengthier federal process.

"What we want to avoid is a decision being made without all the information being available to the public also," McCaskill said, adding that not being able to do so could "create more stress and certainly much more fear that we would be back to worrying about people being able to protest safely."

"Obviously all of us are concerned not just about that this process be fair, but what does this next six months look like?" she said.
Why do I smell a railroad here?

Senator, for a former prosecutor you should know justice is a slow and deliberative process, the accused (in this case the officer) has the right to, among other things, the presumption of innocence. Now he has used deadly force and there is a process to evaluate it. The incident is investigated and the facts are presented to a grand jury for initial evaluation. They will decide to charge him or not. Assuming he is charged then he has the right to a public trial, the ability to cross examine witnesses, etc.

But the mob Officer Wilson used to protect have made up their mind, so have the idiot Attorney General, Senator McCaskill and the semi-retired President B Hussein Obama. Last week I got into a heated Facebook discussion with a family member who had already convicted the man, especially with "...all the witnesses out there..." My answer was "Let the process play out, in 16 years on the street one thing I know is a witness, upon being under oath, 'revises' their statement when they realize lying now is a felony." And we are still seeing the template of the officer "shooting the gentle giant Mike Brown on the street" crumble in front of us.

So I will do what I can to help a man and fellow officer. I went to the Go Fund Me site and gave $25.00. He will need legal defense and his family will be staying away from their home for a while. If you can please do, whatever you can spare.

Friday, August 22, 2014

K9 Down

K9 Tracker
Alabama Department of Corrections
End of Watch: Monday, July 7, 2014
Breed: Beagle
Gender: M

K9 Tracker was shot and killed near Skipperville while assisting other agencies during the search of a man wanted for first degree child rape and incest.

Two canine tracking teams from the Alabama Department of Corrections had responded to assist deputies with the Dale County Sheriff's Office in the search for the suspect, who had been hiding in woods near his home for several days. An Alabama Department of Public Safety helicopter had located the subject in an area near County Road 33 and County Road 70 and directed a team of officers, including K9 Tracker, to the location.

The subject started to flee as officers approached, and Tracker began to pursue him. The man opened fire on Tracker and deputies, killing Tracker, before being wounded by return gunfire. He was taken into custody and faces additional charges of attempted murder or a law enforcement officers with charges pending for the death of Tracker.

K9 Tracker was a beagle assigned to the Ventress Correctional Facility.
Rest in Peace Tracker…till our next roll call at the Rainbow Bridge!

In Memory of all Police Dogs

They handled themselves with beauty & grace
And who could ever forget that beautiful face
Whether at work; or at home; whatever the test
They always worked hard; and did their best

They were real champions; at work or at play
But their lives were cut short; suddenly one day
While working on the job with their partner one day
They put themselves out on a limb; out into harms way

They gave the ultimate sacrifice; any dog can give
They gave up their life; so someone could live
The best of their breed; as his partner and anyone would say
Many hearts are now broken; that he had to prove it this way

Now as the trees are blowing in the gentle breeze
The sun is shining; thru the leaves on the trees
The meadows are green; and the grass grows tall
Off in the distance they can see a waterfall

As they look over the falls; down through the creek
The water flows gently; as a rabbit sneaks a peek
Far up above; in the deep blue sky
They see the birds soar high; as they fly by

They see animals playing; at the bridge by a waterfall
Chasing each other; and just having a ball
They play all day; from morning to night
There's no more rain; just warm sunlight

Off in the distance; they hear trumpets blow
Then all the animals look up; and notice a bright glow
The harps would play and the angels would sing
As they know they've come home; they've earned their wings

We remember that they died; in the line of duty
And are now with the Lord; sharing in heaven's beauty
Off to the meadows now; where they can play and roam free
With an occasional rest stop; under a tall oak tree

No more bad guys to chase; or bullets to take
Just a run through the meadow; down to the lake
A quick splash in the water; then back to the shore
Then it's off to the forest; to go play some more

These special dogs are back home; up in heaven above
They're cradled in God's arm's; and covered with His love
We'll light a candle for all of them; in the dark of night
In loving memory of all; these very special knights

By John Quealy

Officer Down

Police Officer Christopher Goodell
Waldwick New Jersey Police Department
End of Watch: Thursday, July 17, 2014
Age: 32
Tour: 5 years

Police Officer Chris Goodell was killed when his patrol car was struck by a tractor trailer on Route 17, near Bergen Avenue, shortly before 1:30 am.

Officer Goodell was parked on the shoulder of Route 17, running radar, when the semi swerved onto to the shoulder and collided with the back of the patrol car. The patrol car was then pushed into a retaining wall.

An off duty deputy from out of state was the first to arrive at the collision and immediately began providing aid to Officer Goodell.

Officer Goodell was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and had served with the Waldwick Police Department for five years. He was survived by his fiancee.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

And I don't think he means Respect my Authoritah!

I sit here in my easy chair, sipping coffee, about the eat breakfast before I mow the lawn. I generally am asleep by this time, but the lawn needs the work.

But Beth gave this to me on my Facebook page and it was interesting. I really like how the man looks at his job.

I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me.

A teenager is fatally shot by a police officer; the police are accused of being bloodthirsty, trigger-happy murderers; riots erupt. This, we are led to believe, is the way of things in America.

It is also a terrible calumny; cops are not murderers. No officer goes out in the field wishing to shoot anyone, armed or unarmed. And while they’re unlikely to defend it quite as loudly during a time of national angst like this one, people who work in law enforcement know they are legally vested with the authority to detain suspects — an authority that must sometimes be enforced. Regardless of what happened with Mike Brown, in the overwhelming majority of cases it is not the cops, but the people they stop, who can prevent detentions from turning into tragedies.

Working the street, I can’t even count how many times I withstood curses, screaming tantrums, aggressive and menacing encroachments on my safety zone, and outright challenges to my authority. In the vast majority of such encounters, I was able to peacefully resolve the situation without using force. Cops deploy their training and their intuition creatively, and I wielded every trick in my arsenal, including verbal judo, humor, warnings and ostentatious displays of the lethal (and nonlethal) hardware resting in my duty belt. One time, for instance, my partner and I faced a belligerent man who had doused his car with gallons of gas and was about to create a firebomb at a busy mall filled with holiday shoppers. The potential for serious harm to the bystanders would have justified deadly force. Instead, I distracted him with a hook about his family and loved ones, and he disengaged without hurting anyone. Every day cops show similar restraint and resolve incidents that could easily end up in serious injuries or worse.

Sometimes, though, no amount of persuasion or warnings work on a belligerent person; that’s when cops have to use force, and the results can be tragic. We are still learning what transpired between Officer Darren Wilson and Brown, but in most cases it’s less ambiguous — and officers are rarely at fault. When they use force, they are defending their, or the public’s, safety.

Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?

I know it is scary for people to be stopped by cops. I also understand the anger and frustration if people believe they have been stopped unjustly or without a reason. I am aware that corrupt and bully cops exist. When it comes to police misconduct, I side with the ACLU: Having worked as an internal affairs investigator, I know that some officers engage in unprofessional and arrogant behavior; sometimes they behave like criminals themselves....

...But if you believe (or know) that the cop stopping you is violating your rights or is acting like a bully, I guarantee that the situation will not become easier if you show your anger and resentment. Worse, initiating a physical confrontation is a sure recipe for getting hurt. Police are legally permitted to use deadly force when they assess a serious threat to their or someone else’s life. Save your anger for later, and channel it appropriately. Do what the officer tells you to and it will end safely for both of you. We have a justice system in which you are presumed innocent; if a cop can do his or her job unmolested, that system can run its course. Later, you can ask for a supervisor, lodge a complaint or contact civil rights organizations if you believe your rights were violated. Feel free to sue the police! Just don’t challenge a cop during a stop.

As I've said to more than a few men in the jail who have complained to me in the jail, "You got an issue with how the cop did his job or if he was justified in pulling you over, fine, call or supervisor or contact Internal Affairs. It doesn't justify you trying to evade detention or resist the officer and his investigation.

...An average person cannot comprehend the risks and has no true understanding of a cop’s job. Hollywood and television stereotypes of the police are cartoons in which fearless super cops singlehandedly defeat dozens of thugs, shooting guns out of their hands. Real life is different. An average cop is always concerned with his or her safety and tries to control every encounter. That is how we are trained. While most citizens are courteous and law abiding, the subset of people we generally interact with everyday are not the genteel types. You don’t know what is in my mind when I stop you. Did I just get a radio call of a shooting moments ago? Am I looking for a murderer or an armed fugitive? For you, this might be a “simple” traffic stop, for me each traffic stop is a potentially dangerous encounter. Show some empathy for an officer’s safety concerns. Don’t make our job more difficult than it already is.

Truer words have never been said. One thing that doesn't exist is a routine traffic stop. You never know what you are dealing with. More times than not it's a person just making a minor infraction. But twice in my career I've pulled over drivers who turned out to be homicide suspects and more than once I've pulled over vehicles not knowing they were stolen. Scary.
Community members deserve courtesy, respect and professionalism from their officers. Every person stopped by a cop should feel safe instead of feeling that their wellbeing is in jeopardy. Shouldn’t the community members extend the same courtesy to their officers and project that the officer’s safety is not threatened by their actions?

Depends on who you pull over and often when you pull them over. There are those who despise cops no matter what, there are those who generally support cops (unless you are stopping them). Most live between those two extremes. And no argument sometimes cops are at their best. However, to all the citizens out there. don't make it worse on all. If you have issue with how cops do their business, call a superior or contact the Internal Affairs office.

Officer Down

Detective Melvin Santiago
Jersey City New Jersey Police Department
End of Watch: Sunday, July 13, 2014
Age: 23
Tour: 6 months
Badge # 2650

Detective Melvin Santiago was shot and killed at 4:09 am when he and his partner responded to a robbery call at a 24-hour pharmacy on the corner of Communipaw Avenue and John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

A male subject had entered the store and assaulted a private security guard. He severely beat the guard and stole his service weapon, then waited for responding officers to arrive with the intention to ambush them.

Detective Santiago and his partner had just pulled into the parking lot as the man exited the building and opened fire on them without warning. Detective Santiago was struck in the head before he was able to exit from the patrol car's passenger seat.

Other responding officers returned fire and killed the subject.

Detective Santiago had graduated from the academy only six months prior to the incident. He was survived by his mother and stepfather.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Security Weekly: The Terrorist Tradecraft Conundrum, August 21, 2014

By Scott Stewart

In last week's Security Weekly, I discussed how the lack of terrorist tradecraft skills has long plagued the jihadist movement. The al Qaeda core has had the most success projecting terrorist power transnationally, but even its operatives have often practiced sloppy terrorist tradecraft. Tradecraft mistakes by al Qaeda operatives have led to plots being detected or botched, including the millennium bomb plots and Operation Bojinka. Sloppy tradecraft also jeopardized successful attacks such as the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing and the 9/11 attacks.

This amateurish level of tradecraft was sufficient in an era such as the early 1990s, when few people were aware of the threat posed by the jihadist movement and few resources were dedicated to countering the threat. However, in the wake of 9/11 the environment became far more hostile to jihadist plotters, and as the focus of every intelligence and law enforcement agency became firmly fixed on the jihadist threat, terrorist operatives' ability to operate transnationally was severely diminished. That is the reason the threat of a spectacular follow-up attack to 9/11 never materialized.

Terrorist threats must be assessed considering two elements: intent and capability. Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups clearly have the intent to attack the U.S. homeland, something that is evident in their rhetoric and their repeated attempts to strike. But what these jihadist groups lack is the capability to fulfill their intent. They do not possess the terrorist tradecraft necessary to bypass the security measures instituted in the wake of the 9/11 attacks or the subsequent enhancements to those measures. Tradecraft is also not quickly or easily learned, and acquiring it through practical experience is difficult for a movement that often uses suicide operatives. These constraints have resulted in terrorist operatives with limited tradecraft capabilities.

Response to Limited Capability

The frustration that jihadists have experienced because of their inability to attack the United States through traditional forms of terrorism -- most notably by sending terrorist operatives to the United States to conduct attacks -- has prompted them to explore alternate approaches. One such strategy has been to attack U.S. aircraft from overseas, circumventing the need to operate inside the United States. This was really a re-emergence of an old tactic, which had previously been employed by Palestinian terrorist groups in various attacks including Pan Am 830, by the Libyans in Pan Am 103 and al Qaeda in the aborted Operation Bojinka (though these past plots did not involve the more recent al Qaeda innovation of suicide operatives.) Since 9/11, we have seen many other plots to attack U.S. aircraft with devices originating from abroad such as the shoe bomb plot, the liquid bomb plot, two underwear bomb plots and the printer bomb plot.

In addition to attempting to directly conduct terrorist attacks themselves, militant ideologues began using their influence to radicalize grassroots jihadists already living in the United States and the West, encouraging those radicalized individuals to conduct terrorist attacks where they live. Initially, this tactic seemed to be successful, producing the Little Rock and Ft. Hood shootings in the United States. Indeed, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula founded their English-language Inspire Magazine in the wake of these two attacks to radicalize grassroots jihadists and to instruct them how to conduct simple attacks. A year later, the al Qaeda core group embraced this approach, releasing a video by Adam Gadahn that encouraged grassroots jihadists to conduct simple attacks where they live.

The Conundrum

Gadahn and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki urged grassroots jihadists to conduct "simple attacks" using knives, firearms or simple explosive devices. "Build a bomb in the kitchen of your mom" and use them against soft targets, they said. Simple attacks are within the reach of untrained grassroots jihadists. They are also very well suited to the skillsets of jihadists who have received basic military training in places like Syria and Iraq. In other words, they are people who know how to handle firearms and who understand the basics of tactical shooting but lack training in sophisticated terrorist tradecraft.

The poor terrorist tradecraft most jihadists possess and the type of training most receive in places such as Iraq, Syria and Yemen have meant that when jihadists have attempted to plan and conduct spectacular bombings, they have almost always been botched or uncovered by the authorities. An example of a botched attack is the May 2010 Times Square attack, in which Faisal Shahzad was able to obtain the materials required to build a car bomb but was unable to properly assemble a functional improvised explosive device. An example of a plot that was uncovered and thwarted by the authorities is the September 2009 plot to bomb the New York subway system that involved Najibullah Zazi.

In 2010, considering the training and capability of most jihadist militant actors and the new emphasis on simple attacks, I concluded we were about to see a shift in jihadist terrorist tactics away from failed bombings and toward armed assaults. However, the attempt by jihadist ideologues to change the mentality of jihadist operatives has been largely unsuccessful, and it did not produce the volume of expected attacks. We have seen a few simple attacks conducted by such people, including shootings in Frankfurt, Germany, in March 2011; in Toulouse, France, in April 2012; and in Brussels, Belgium, in June 2014. The April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing is a case of unsophisticated jihadists using the bomb-making instructions in Inspire Magazine to conduct a simple attack.

Despite the intensive media coverage and hysteria caused by a simple attack like the Boston Marathon bombing, we have yet to see a large percentage of the grassroots jihadist militant world adopt the "simple attack" concept. For every successful simple attack we have seen, there have been multiple would-be militants such as Terry Lowen, Adel Daoud and Quazi Nafis who have aspired to attacks beyond their capabilities and failed.

This is partly because, apparently, most jihadists prefer to fight on the battlefield against foes like the Syrian military rather than attack civilian soft targets. But beyond the jihadist preference to travel to fight rather than to conduct attacks at home, there is another conundrum that puzzles me. Although most jihadists believe that it is permissible to give one's life during an attack, they continue to aspire to spectacular attacks that are beyond their capabilities and that have a very high chance of failure rather than to simple attacks that are certain to succeed. I am not a psychologist, but I speculate that perhaps there is something in the psychological makeup of people drawn to the ideology of jihadism that causes them to gravitate toward the spectacular rather than the obtainable. Perhaps they also believe that in order to justify their suicide, the attack must be spectacular.

I am not the only one puzzled by this tendency. It also appears to confound the al Qaeda ideologues who do not see the "harvest" of attacks they anticipated. Such people are used to seeing their directives carried out on the battlefield, and they surely must be perplexed that grassroots jihadists continue to botch attacks or walk into sting operations rather than conduct simple attacks within their capabilities.

But it does appear that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is attempting to adapt to the situation. In response to the ambition of grassroots jihadists, the group has attempted to equip them to conduct the types of spectacular attacks they aspire to. In the 12th edition of Inspire Magazine, published in March 2014, the Open Source Jihad section was titled "Car Bombs Inside America" and contained instructions for building a vehicle bomb. The group republished the section Aug. 16 along with some other previously published material (including the pressure cooker bomb plans used in the Boston Marathon bombing) in a publication entitled "Palestine Betrayal of the Guilty Conscience."

So far, we have not seen any attacks, attempted attacks or thwarted plots containing these vehicle bomb instructions. Still, the instructional material is out there, and given the number of past plots in which individuals attempted to follow the magazine's pipe bomb and pressure cooker bomb instructions, it may only be a matter of time before we see someone attempt to build and deploy a car bomb using these plans. In the meantime, the directions contained in "Car Bombs Inside America" have given intelligence and law enforcement officers new indicators of bomb making activity to look for.


Officer Down

Patrolman Jeffrey Brady Westerfield
Gary Indiana Police Department
End of Watch: Sunday, July 6, 2014
Bio & Incident Details
Age: 47
Tour: 19 years

Patrolman Jeffery Westerfield was shot and killed from ambush as he sat in his patrol car in the 2600 block of Van Buren Street.

A citizen called 911 at 5:50 am after discovering Patrolman Westerfield suffering from gunshot wounds in his patrol car, with multiple shell casing found outside of the vehicle. The exact circumstances of his death are unknown. He had responded to the same area on a call earlier in the night.

Three subjects were taken into custody in connection with Patrolman Westerfield's murder the following day.

Patrolman Westerfield had served with the Gary Police Department for 19 years. He is survived by his four daughters and fiancee. Patrolman Westerfield was killed on his 47th Birthday.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Geopolitical Weekly: Europe's Malaise: The New Normal?, August 19, 2014

By George Friedman

Russia and Ukraine continue to confront each other along their border. Iraq has splintered, leading to unabated internal warfare. And the situation in Gaza remains dire. These events should be enough to constitute the sum total of our global crises, but they're not. On top of everything, the German economy contracted by 0.2 percent last quarter. Though many will dismiss this contraction outright, the fact that the world's fourth-largest economy (and Europe's largest) has shrunk, even by this small amount, is a matter of global significance.

Europe has been mired in an economic crisis for half a decade now. Germany is the economic engine of Europe, and it is expected that it will at some point pull Europe out of its crisis. There have been constant predictions that Europe may finally be turning an economic corner, but if Germany's economy is contracting (Berlin claims it will rebound this year), it is difficult to believe that any corner is being turned. It is becoming increasingly reasonable to believe that rather than an interlude in European prosperity, what we now see is actually the new normal. The key point is not that Germany's economy has contracted by a trivial amount. The point is that it has come time to raise the possibility that it could be a very long time before Europe returns to its pre-2008 prosperity and to consider what this means.

Faltering Europe

The German economy contracted despite indications that there would be zero economic growth. But the rest of Europe is faltering, too. France had zero growth. Italy declined by 0.2 percent. The only large European economy that grew was the United Kingdom, the country most skeptical of the value of EU membership. Excluding Ireland, which grew at a now-robust rate of 2.5 percent, no EU economy grew more than 1 percent. Together, the European Union scarcely grew at all.

Obviously, growth rate is not the full measure of an economy, and statistics don't always paint the full picture. Growth doesn't measure social reality, and therefore it is important to look at unemployment. And though Europe is fairly stagnant, the unemployment situation is truly disturbing. Spain and Greece both have around 25 percent unemployment, the level the United States reached during the Great Depression. While that's stunning, 15 of the 28 EU members have unemployment rates of more than 10 percent; most have maintained that high rate now for several years. More alarming, these rates are not falling.

Half of all EU residents live in four countries: Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy. The average growth rate for these countries is about 1.25 percent. Excluding the United Kingdom, their economies contracted by 0.1 percent. The unemployment rate in the four countries averages 8.5 percent. But if we drop the United Kingdom, the average is 9.2 percent. Removing Britain from the equation is not arbitrary: It is the only one of the four that is not part of the eurozone, and it is the country most likely to drop out of the European Union. The others aren't going anywhere. Perhaps the United Kingdom isn't either, but that remains to be seen. Germany, France and Italy, by population if nothing else, are the core of the European Union. They are not growing, and unemployment is high. Therefore, Europe as a whole is not growing at all, and unemployment is high.

Five to six years after the global financial crisis, persistent and widespread numbers like this can no longer be considered cyclical, particularly because Germany is running out of gas. It is interesting to consider how Germany has arrived at this point. Exports continue to grow, including exports to the rest of Europe. (That is one reason it has been so difficult for the rest of Europe to recover: Having lost the ability to control access to their markets, other European countries are unable to compete with German exports. It may be free trade, it may even be fair trade, but it is also a trade pattern that fixes failure in place.) Employment remains strong. The German financial system is viable. Yet consumer and corporate confidence is declining. As we look at the situation Germany is facing, confidence should be decreasing. And that in turn becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: German employment has been supported by exports, but there is a limited appetite for Germany's exports amid Europe's long-term weakness and a world doing better but still not well enough to float the German economy.

One of the things that should concern Germans is the banking system. It has been the obsession of the European financial elite, at the cost of massive unemployment, and there is the belief, validated by stress tests, that the financial system is sound. For me, there has been an ongoing mystery about Europe: How could it have such high unemployment rates and not suffer a consumer debt crisis? The climbing rate of unemployment should be hitting banks with defaulted mortgages and unpaid credit card debt. Given the fragility of the European financial system in the past, it seems reasonable that there would be heavy pressure caused by consumer debt.

The known nonperforming debt situation is sufficiently concerning. Four countries have nonperforming loan rates surpassing 20 percent. Six have rates between 10 and 20 percent, including Italy's, which stands at 15.1 percent. The overall EU rate is 7.3 percent. Obviously, the situation in Italy is the most dangerous, but there is the question of whether these numbers capture the entire problem. Spain, with 24 percent unemployment, is reporting only an 8.2 percent nonperforming loan rate. Portugal, with lower unemployment rates, has an 11 percent nonperforming loan rate. France (with more than 10 percent unemployment) is reporting only a 4.3 percent nonperforming loan rate. The devil is in the details, and there may be an explanation for these anomalies. But the definition for a nonperforming loan has been flexible in Europe and other places before, and the simple question remains: How can such long-term high unemployment rates not produce significant problems in consumer debt?

It is simply unclear how Europe untangles this Gordian knot. Considering the length of Europe's economic malaise, a strong argument would be required to say this is a passing phase. Given Europe's unemployment, Germany's need to export to the rest of Europe, and persistent weak growth rates now spreading to Germany, it is simply not obvious what force will reverse this process. Inertia is pointing to a continuation of the current pattern. It is hard to see anything that will help Europe recover its vibrancy.

A Political Question

The question that follows is political. If the economic premise of the European Union -- prosperity -- is cast into doubt, then what holds Europe together? This is particularly relevant as the fault line between Russia and the European Peninsula comes alive and as Europe is measuredly asserting itself in Ukraine. Poland's and Romania's interest in Ukraine is clear. Spain's interest is less obvious. The idea of pursuing common goals to preserve EU prosperity doesn't work when the bloc is economically crippled and when signs of divergence are already evident. These include British threats to withdraw from the European Union and the loss of common interests that united the countries when prosperous.

One of the most important signs of divergence is the emergence of anti-establishment and Euroskeptical parties, which did remarkably well in recent European Parliament elections. This political shift has been dismissed by many as merely the result of a protest vote rather than a harbinger of the future. In my view, protest votes of this breadth and magnitude are significant in and of themselves. They remind us that the most dangerous source of social unrest is not the young and unemployed but rather middle-aged men and women who have suffered unemployment and lost their investments. They live in a world of shattered hopes, convinced that others engineered their misfortune. The young throw rocks and then go home. The middle-aged and middle class, having lost their dreams with no hope of recovery, are at the heart of fascism and are the real threat posed by the new European reality.

Russia is important, and so is radical Islam. But the fate of Europe is a vital force that will shape the world. Russian power grows as Europe fragments. Europe has its own internal confrontation with Islam. With long-term sclerosis of the economy and persistent unemployment, how do the Europeans deal with the immigrants among them? How does the Continent accept open borders? The implications are profound, and it is time to consider that a Europe without growth, with high unemployment and with no way out might be the reality for a much longer time than anyone expected.

Europe's Malaise: The New Normal? is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Now is not the time for peace! I would take that as a threat.

As the attention of the country has been focused in that last week to Ferguson MO, a part of the media template is the rioters are composed of locals rising against years of police oppression. Now anything that draws in The Justice Brothers you know they will ship in "rent-a-mobs". Here is a review of their current operations, a business I think I'll call Terrorism Tourism

'This is not the time for peace.' Chicago protester who traveled to Ferguson

On one corner of a battered stretch of West Florissant Avenue, the epicenter of ongoing protests, young men pull dark scarves up over their mouths and lob molotov cocktails at police from behind makeshift barricades built of bricks and wood planks. They call the gasoline-filled bottles "poor man's bombs."
Gee, a Molotov Cocktail to throw at police, citizens and property. Sounds like the descendants of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement that marched on Washington. .

The young men yell expletives and, with a rebel's bravado, speak about securing justice for Michael Brown, the black teen fatally shot Aug. 9 by a white police officer, "by any means necessary."
Where have we heard that quote before?

They are known here as "the militants" — a faction inhabiting the hard-core end of a spectrum that includes online organizers and opportunistic looters — and their numbers have been growing with the severity of their tactics since the shooting.... 
...But the demonstrators are as diverse as their grievances — and in their methods of addressing them.

Some of the men are from the area -- Ferguson or surrounding towns also defined in part by the gulf separating the mostly white law enforcement agencies from a mistrusting African-American public. Many others -- it is hard to quantify the percentage -- have arrived by bus and by car from Chicago, Detroit, Brooklyn and elsewhere.

They will not give their names. But their leaders say they are ready to fight, some with guns in their hands.

"This is not the time for no peace," said one man, a 27-year-old who made the trip here from Chicago. 
He spoke after a small group of fellow militants held a meeting behind a looted store, sketching out ambitions for the days ahead.

"We are jobless men, and this is our job now -- getting justice," he said. "If that means violence, that's OK by me. They've been doing this to us for years."...
In spite of the double negative, I take it the terrorism tourists mean they will continue with their violent means. I do find his statement of employment interesting, "We are jobless men, and this is our job now-getting justice...They've been doing this for years." OK, your twenty seven, "jobless", but you seem to have the means to travel hundreds of miles and coordinate attacks on civil authorities and civilians while robbing and destroying other people's property. I have to wonder what type of "job" are you qualified for? The term "gang banger"comes to mind.

There is a group of "peaceful protesters" that congregates around the QuikTrip, looted and burned out during the first night of protest. Another gathers near the Ferguson police station. A third more scattered faction organizes, advertises and rallies demonstrators on Twitter, specifically what members of the faction call "black Twitter." "People have been tweeting, 'We are ready to die tonight,' " said Mary Pat Hector, a national youth organizer with the Rev. Al Sharpton's national action network. "It is a trending topic."...
Wait, the supposed reverend Sharpton has followers that are "...ready to die tonight ." Sounds like an invitation to more violence. And Al will be happy. It justified his salary at MSNBC and other revenue sources.

Then there are the looters, leaderless men who under cover of nightly political protest target liquor stores, beauty-supply shops and other businesses with inventories easy to sell and in high demand.

Ferguson police officials would not quantify how many looters have been arrested since the Brown shooting but presented a Washington Post reporter with a stack of roughly 50 arrest reports. While some of those arrested for stealing are from Ferguson, a large number have addresses listed in Illinois or in Texas.

"It's like looting tourism," an officer commented as he showed the reports. He asked not to be named. "It's like they are spending their gas money to come down here and steal."
The officer beat this cop to the term "looting tourism". You got me!

DeAndre Smith, fresh from looting the QuikTrip on a recent night, told reporters: "I'm proud of us. We deserve this, and this is what's supposed to happen when there's injustice in your community. St. Louis — not going take this anymore."...
This is what Martin Luther King and other great men and women died for. A few generations ago black people wanted to sit at a lunch counter, get educatted and employed. Now we have criminals destroying their neighborhoods and she will be shocked when the store doesn't open up again.

..."This was a chance to vent about the national treatment of black men across the country," said Ronnie Natch, a music producer and leader of the "peaceful protesters."

Natch is 30 years old and has a 10-month-old baby. His wife gives out water and fruit to protesters from their base at the burned out QuikTrip.

"We want to show up at the front door every day and say, through words, that this shooting is not going to be swept under the rug," Natch said. "There have just been too many deaths."

..."We can get the same message out without the violence," he said.
No argument Natch, but you're looking at the wrong people. Black men murdered in this country are overwhelming murdered by other black men. It's called inner city gang violence. And nobody sees anything because "Snitches get stitches" or "Snitches. A dying breed." Sorry this lie gives you some justification for committing crimes. BTY Natch, where did you get the "water and fruit"? Was it stolen from the looted stores?

How about this Natch, why don't you get a job, go to work every day, support you family, raise your children, make enough money so you can move out of Da Hood and encourage others to do the same. It really makes you feel better about life when you don't have to worry about your neighbors

Among those who have arrived are self-described young activists, some of whom participated in the Occupy movement. Many of them are white and have been showing protesters how to assemble homemade gas masks — essentially surgical masks fortified with duct tape... 
But the peaceful protesters acknowledge they are probably in the minority as the crowd begins to swell on Ferguson's streets after nightfall.

Dennis Brown, a community activist, described St. Louis and suburbs such as this one as a pot ready to boil over. He said social media has become, in ways similar to its use in recent popular uprisings in the Arab world, an essential organizing tool.

Brown said young people, including many of the "militants," are organized on social media.

"These young people aren't dumb," said Brown, 46. "They are organized. They are smart. They are like computer kings."...
I am taking a class on Homeland Security and one of the recent post I put up was on how criminals and militants use social media to coordinate actions across towns, states or nations. I don't think law enforcement, or the law in general has caught up to technology in this regard. But one thing is certain, the crime and terrorist activity in Missouri is not simply a local event. It would be nice to see if the country's notional "Chief Law Enforcement Officer" would direct the resources of the Justice Department to restore order and then capture and prosecute the offenders. I know that won't happen.

Islamic State setting up its government where it can

While Islamic State is still fighting, it is trying to integrate itself into their conquered lands.

From Electricity to Sewage, U.S. Intelligence Says the Islamic State Is Fast Learning How to Run a Country

The Obama administration's escalating air war against the Islamic State is running up against a dispiriting new reality: The militants are becoming as good at governing territory as they are at conquering it, making it considerably harder to dislodge them from the broad swaths of Syria and Iraq that they now control.

U.S. intelligence officials say the leaders of the Islamic State are adopting methods first pioneered by Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite militia, and are devoting considerable human and financial resources toward keeping essential services like electricity, water, and sewage functioning in their territory. In some areas, they even operate post offices.

The militants have built new court systems to enforce their harsh interpretation of sharia law, which punishes thieves by amputating their hands and has sentenced numerous Christians and other religious minorities to death because of their beliefs, the officials added.

At the same time, the Islamic State has generally allowed the local bureaucrats in charge of hospitals, law enforcement, trash pickup, and other municipal services to stay in their jobs, according to intelligence officials. In some areas, sitting mayors and other top local officeholders are keeping their posts.

Taken together, the moves highlight the fact that the Islamic State, already the best-armed and best-funded terror group in the world, is quickly adapting to the challenges of ruling and governing. That, in turn, dramatically reduces the chances that the extremists will face homegrown opposition in what amounts to the world's newest territory.

"ISIS is the most dangerous terrorist group in the world because they combine the fighting capabilities of al Qaeda with the administrative capabilities of Hezbollah," said David Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency expert who spent several years working as a top aide to Gen. David Petraeus during the height of the Iraq War. "It's clear that they have a state-building agenda and an understanding of the importance of effective governance."

In some areas under their control, the Islamic State is opening hospitals, building new roads, launching bus services, rehabilitating schools (at least for boys), and launching small-business programs designed to juice the local economies. In Syria, where bread is a core staple, the militants focus on managing local wheat mills and bakeries to ensure that supplies remain high enough to feed a population that was in some areas on the edge of starvation.

The group's focus on good governance, at least by militant standards, starts at the top. In his first public comments after conquering Mosul, the Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, called on "scientists, scholars, preachers, judges, doctors, engineers and people with military and administrative expertise" to help govern the land his group controls. Those weren't just words: Shortly after taking control of Mosul, Baghdadi transferred the Islamic State's hospital administrator for the Syrian city of Raqqa to Mosul to take that same job there, Kilcullen said.

In Raqqa, which has been under Islamic State control for months, traffic police remain on the streets and local citizens pay taxes to the militants, who in turn give them receipts stamped with the group's logo. A local goldsmith told the New York Times that the taxes are far cheaper than the bribes residents had to pay when Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad was in control. "I feel like I am dealing with a respected state, not thugs," the goldsmith said. 
The Islamic State also launched a "hearts-and-minds" campaign of sorts. In one of the more jarring examples, the group held a "fun day" in Mosul where the militants passed out soccer balls and held Quran memorization and recitation contests. The Islamic State, Kilcullen said, "is thinking like a state."
They can run basic government services. Hell, send them to Houston and have them talk to our mayor.

Monday, August 18, 2014

An appeal for help for a wronged single mother.

Earlier this month posted on Shaneen Allen's trouble being being taken to court by a New Jersey prosecutor. Oh, the picture of Ms. Allen shows her race, but I think it should be mentioned that the prosecutor is white. God knows this would be mentioned if the Justice Brothers were taking up her case, but it don't fit the template.

Anyway, last week I went on her Go Get Funding page and donated $25.00. Please, go there and make a donation. Whatever you can give, even a buck helps. This is an abuse of power that should have never come to court. Hopefully this is killed off quickly.

Security Weekly: Examining the Elements of Terrorist Tradecraft, August 14, 2014

By Scott Stewart

On several occasions, I have noted the differences in the training required for fighting on an insurgent battlefield versus the training required to conduct terrorist operations in a hostile environment far away from the organization. Most recently, I mentioned them in a conversation I had with my colleague Paul Floyd. In that video, I remarked that most of the militants traveling to fight in the battlefields of places like Syria and Iraq receive training that is very similar to what Paul and I received in U.S. Army basic training. These jihadist recruits are given physical fitness training and are taught to use small arms like AK-47s, hand grenades and basic anti-tank weapons such as the RPG-7. They also receive some training in small unit tactics and then receive additional on-the-job training as they fight on the battlefield.

However, by and large, these types of basic military skills are not very useful to someone who has been tasked with traveling to a distant country to conduct a terrorist attack. Even the highly advanced light infantry skills Paul developed as a U.S. Army Ranger would not in and of themselves equip him to function as a terrorist operative in a hostile environment. This is because, in many ways, the skillset required to be a successful terrorist operative -- what we refer to as terrorist tradecraft -- is really more akin to that of a clandestine intelligence officer than that of a soldier. It is no coincidence that during the Cold War, Marxist terrorist operatives were trained by agencies such as the KGB and the East German Stasi rather than the Soviet Army or the East German National People's Army.

Let's examine some of the specific tradecraft skills required to be a successful transnational terrorist operative and note how they are different from the skills required to be a guerrilla fighter on a battlefield.

Terrorist Tradecraft Elements

"Tradecraft" is an espionage term that refers to techniques and procedures used in the field during an operation, but the term also implies that effectively practicing these techniques and procedures requires a bit of finesse. This is because tradecraft skills tend to be as much art as they are science. As with any other art, one can be taught the fundamental mechanics of the techniques, but it takes time and practice to hone the skills required to become an effective terrorist operative.

One of the first challenges a transnational terrorist operative faces is traveling to the targeted country without being detected. In past decades, this travel was often facilitated by state sponsors who were able to provide genuine travel documents or excellent-quality counterfeits. For example, genuine Yugoslavian passports for alias identities were widely used by Marxist terrorist operatives during the 1970s and 1980s, and the Stasi and KGB also provided high-quality counterfeit documents.

Al Qaeda's state sponsors -- Hassan al-Turabi in Sudan and the Taliban in Afghanistan -- did not have advanced document procurement or counterfeiting capabilities, and Sudanese and Afghan passports were quite limited in their utility. Because of this, travel has presented a vexing problem for jihadist terrorist operations directed against the West since their beginning. Indeed, using a poorly altered Swedish passport caused bombmaker Ahmed Ajaj to be arrested when he attempted to enter the United States through New York's JFK airport in September 1992. Because of the bombmaking manuals and other items in his possession at the time of his detention, his arrest could have doomed the World Trade Center bombing plot and led to the arrest of his co-traveler, bombmaker Abdel Basit Mahmoud Abel Karim. It was only due to critical errors by U.S. government investigators that he was permitted to enter the United States on an Iraqi passport using the alias Ramzi Yousef and build his bomb. Amateurish document fraud mistakes also very nearly derailed the 9/11 attacks.

Post-9/11 changes to visa issuance and asylum procedures have presented additional challenges to jihadists seeking to send terrorist operatives to the United States and Europe. It is one of the reasons jihadist groups have used people with authentic travel documents to attempt attacks from overseas, like would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid and failed underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. This challenge is multiplied when several individuals travel together, a likely explanation for why Reid and Abdulmutallab were dispatched as individual one-off attacks and not as part of a wave of similar attacks like Abel Karim and his uncle Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had envisioned for Operation Bojinka.

Once terrorist operatives are able to travel to the targeted country, they must then conduct their operations in a clandestine manner that will not attract the attention of authorities. If the operation is going to be a major one that requires the operatives to spend time in the targeted country and acquire resources, vehicles and safe houses, the operative must have some way of receiving money to pay for these operational expenses. Such costs are obviously increased if the operation requires a team of individuals. Furthermore, communications between the operative(s) and the group's leadership must be conducted in a secure manner, as must the communication between members of the cell in a multiple man operation.

Once the terrorist operative or attack cell is situated and desires to begin operations connected to the attack, the operative or cell must then perform the various steps of the terrorist attack cycle without drawing the attention of the authorities. This means that the surveillance they will be required to conduct during the target selection and planning phases of the attack cycle must be executed without detection. As we have previously noted, this surveillance phase poses a significant vulnerability to terrorist planners.

To an outside observer, surveillance may appear to be a very simple task, but it is actually very difficult to conduct thorough surveillance without being detected. It requires extensive training and practice, yet most individuals involved in terrorist planning simply do not devote the time necessary to master the art of surveillance. Because of this, they display terrible technique, use sloppy procedures and generally lack finesse in conducting surveillance.

Acquiring weapons clandestinely is another difficult task of the terrorist attack cycle. Many plots have been disrupted when planners attempted to obtain weapons, explosives or the components required to make explosive devices. While people residing in a community may know where to go and who to talk to in order to obtain weapons illegally, it is a big challenge for an outsider to do so with very little local knowledge and few contacts. Developing the contacts needed to obtain weapons or chemicals without being detected takes considerable tact and discernment or a fairly sophisticated local network.

But even if the plotter is able to obtain the chemicals required to construct explosives, building an improvised explosive device in a war zone is much different than doing so in a clandestine manner while operating in a hostile environment.

First of all, in a combat zone, insurgent bomb makers often have ready access to large quantities of military-grade high explosives. These explosives are captured on the battlefield, provided by friendly governments or even recovered from unexploded ordnance. Quite often bomb makers will chain together rocket warheads, artillery shells or mortar rounds as the main charge for their device. They are also frequently able to use military grade or commercial detonators, time fuse, detonation cord and activation devices to construct the firing chains for their bombs.

Such purpose-made explosive components are normally inaccessible to terrorist bombmakers, who are frequently forced to fabricate many if not most of the components for improvised explosive devices -- things including detonators, timers and improvised explosive mixtures such as triacetone triperoxide. In the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, even though bombmaker Abel Karim used a chemical engineer named Nidal Ayyad to order the precursor chemicals he needed to construct that device, he still had to manufacture lead azide for his detonators and nitroglycerin for his booster charges from scratch, as well as mix the urea fertilizer and nitric acid required for the urea nitrate main charge. In another example, Japanese Red Army bombmaker Yu Kikumura traveled throughout a significant portion of the United States as he patiently acquired the components needed to construct the fire extinguisher bombs found in his possession at the time of his arrest in New Jersey in 1988.

The Exceptional Individual

When we examine all of the tradecraft elements required to conduct a spectacular terrorist attack -- such as the ability to travel internationally, to operate in a clandestine manner, to conduct surveillance without detection, and to acquire weapons and build bombs -- it becomes readily obvious how they are different from the skills taught in basic military training. These skills cannot be picked up merely from reading articles on the Internet; they are arts that require practice.

It also becomes easy to see that it is a very rare individual who possesses these capabilities. Past examples of successful transnational terrorist operatives -- including Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (also known as Carlos the Jakal), Ali Hassan Salameh, Yu Kikumura, Abu Ibrahim and jihadists like Abel Karim and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- have been sophisticated, well-educated individuals who were comfortable traveling internationally and mingling with other educated people. Ramirez Sanchez, Salameh, Kikumura and Ibrahim received sophisticated training in terrorist tradecraft from intelligence agencies in camps in places like Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. Abel Karim and Sheikh Mohammed received terrorist tradecraft training in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.

Although all of the various regional jihadist groups have their own training camps where they teach basic military training, most of these groups -- including al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Islamic State -- have not demonstrated that they possess operatives with the type of sophisticated terrorist tradecraft we are discussing. Therefore it is not clear that they can teach those skills to others. These groups have shown the ability to conduct terrorist attacks and insurgent operations in their core areas of operation, but they have struggled to project that capability outside of those areas. Even al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has attempted several transnational attacks, has done so by dispatching operatives equipped with suicide devices from its core area rather than sending operatives to the target country to plan and execute an attack there.

With the number of educated foreign operatives traveling to join jihadist organizations in places like Syria and Yemen, there are very likely some sophisticated and well-educated people in the mix who have the capability to travel to the West. What remains to be seen is if these organizations have the capability to equip their operatives with the tradecraft skills required to conduct complex, major terrorist attacks.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Great news from Los Angeles Police

It's great seeing a disabled officer still able to man The Watch.

A 12-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department who suffered the traumatic effects of an amputation is back on duty following an onerous recovery.

Upon his discovery of a huge, tumor-like mass on the bottom of his left foot, officer Marcial Cruz, 38, paid a visit to the doctor, who broke the grim news that he had a very aggressive cancer and had to have his left foot amputated, according to CBS Los Angeles.

"I get this terrible call from the doctor telling me, 'You know what, I have some really bad news for you: you have cancer. It's very aggressive and I have to amputate your foot," Cruz said.

The amputation took place in January of this year. But Cruz was not going to allow this hurdle to stand in the way of his returning to the LAPD and being back in the field, where he said he belongs. "No. I'm going to do this. I'm going to get back out on patrol."

Following his amputation, Cruz set out on the physically painful six-month process of learning how to walk with a prosthetic foot. He started out walking two miles at a time and told CBS that he got into the best shape of his life in order to prove to himself and to the LAPD that he could, indeed, get back in the field.

But he didn't get the green light to return to duty until he received the blessings of the city doctor who put him "through a set of tests which included bending, kneeling, walking on tip toes, running — for sure a lot of running," Cruz said.

Cruz reportedly was provided with a certificate showing that he had passed the LAPD's physical tests with flying colors, CBS notes. He was reinstated to full duty one month ago and has been a testament to the motto of "mind over matter."

"I think one of the biggest issues with any form of difficulty of this nature is the mental aspect. If I would have been doubtful, fearful of not achieving what I wanted, I think that would have had a significant impact on what I was going to accomplish," Cruz said. "As bad as the situation may be, there's hope. I'm here living the dream again."

You are an inspiration to us all Officer Cruz and best in everything to you!

Friday, August 15, 2014

A vest saves an officer this week.....

A Houston Police officer was shot on Wednesday and fortunately the he was wearing his vest. Arguably this saved his life. And it's another example of why you need to wear the vest every day on the street.

Police say a bullet-proof vest saved the life of a Houston police officer during a shooting in northeast Houston that left the suspect dead. Now we've learned this isn't the first time the officer shot and killed an armed suspect this year.

The shootout happened...after HPD officer John Calhoun and his partner responded to call about a suspicious person.

HPD Spokesman John Cannon says a 911 caller described the suspect in detail, said he was smoking pot and had a gun. When Calhoun and his partner arrived, the suspect quickly grabbed his backpack and walked away. That's when the two got into an argument and wrestled to the ground.

Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland says that's when the shootout erupted.

"Officer Calhoun was immediately shot one time and then was able to return fire -- several shots -- unknown how many shots he fire, but he returned fire, several shots, striking the suspect," McClelland said. "It was later determined that Officer Calhoun then discovered that he had actually been shot himself."

Calhoun, 28, was shot in the left torso, but the bullet struck the ballistics vest. He suffered a deep bruise and was transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital. The Houston Policer Officers' Union says he was released a few hours later.

"We're certainly grateful that officer Calhoun is going to be fine. He's certainly going to be sore, but he has no broken bones, no rib fractures, no bullet penetrations," McClelland said. "Without the vest, it would have penetrated and could have caused catastrophic injury or death."

The suspect, who's been described only as a Hispanic male, was taken to Houston Northwest Medical Center but didn't make it.

McClelland says Calhoun's partner is shaken up but is OK.

This is the image of the results of a shot hitting a vest. Not perfect, but you're walking away, not going to the medical examiner. Be safe out there guys.

This is the end....

Well, it's over. We were supposed to have three vacations this summer. The Blue Knights Rio Grande Conference, which was good but was it hot! Then the yearly vacation in Mississippi, where we meet my brothers and sister, nieces and nephews, their families, but that was over ridden by a family emergency. Finally a few days in Galveston Island with the family. It's been great sleeping in, taking in The Strand, watching the Gulf of Mexico, walking on the beach. But unfortunately life must go on. We have to get going, pack everything up and move back to Houston in the next few hours. Planning on a Blue Knights bike ride tomorrow morning but may get voluntold to help with a protest in the 5th Ward from an Open Carry group. But at least I got this beautiful sunrise this morning.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

I hate to say goodbye to him. Not for the loss of a great comic and actor, but the fact his family and friends will be left with the question "Why did he do it?"

I've personally had family members kill themselves, as well as close friends and I've death with many on the street. The family, even if there is a note, will always have the question. I've listened to many suggested reasons once the last two days. He was broke, he had family issues, legitimate depression issues. etc. Another comic on the iHeart 24/7 Comedy tribute suggested the end of his addiction. The gentlemen suggested that stand up comedy is an addiction, that being able to make people laugh is something you got to have. And when the laughter stops it's life shattering experience for a comic.

He made many trips with the USO and my friend Jason Hippler posted this on Facebook, of Williams at Camp Arifjan Kuwait a few years ago.

And here is a great cartoon this morning's Houston Chronicle.

Rest in Peace Robin Williams. Hopefully you, Andy Kaufman, John Belushi and Richard Pryor are entertaining everyone up there.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Geopolitical Weekly: Turkey's Geographical Ambition, August 12, 2014

Editor's Note: We originally ran this Global Affairs with Robert D. Kaplan column on May 1, 2013. We are republishing it in light of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Aug. 10 election as Turkey's new president.

By Robert D. Kaplan and Reva Bhalla

At a time when Europe and other parts of the world are governed by forgettable mediocrities, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister for a decade now, seethes with ambition. Perhaps the only other leader of a major world nation who emanates such a dynamic force field around him is Russia's Vladimir Putin, with whom the West is also supremely uncomfortable.

Erdogan and Putin are ambitious because they are men who unrepentantly grasp geopolitics. Putin knows that any responsible Russian leader ensures that Russia has buffer zones of some sort in places like Eastern Europe and the Caucasus; Erdogan knows that Turkey must become a substantial power in the Near East in order to give him leverage in Europe. Erdogan's problem is that Turkey's geography between East and West contains as many vulnerabilities as it does benefits. This makes Erdogan at times overreach. But there is a historical and geographical logic to his excesses.

The story begins after World War I.

Because Ottoman Turkey was on the losing side of that war (along with Wilhelmine Germany and Hapsburg Austria), the victorious allies in the Treaty of Sevres of 1920 carved up Turkey and its environs, giving territory and zones of influence to Greece, Armenia, Italy, Britain and France. Turkey's reaction to this humiliation was Kemalism, the philosophy of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (the surname "Ataturk" means "Father of the Turks"), the only undefeated Ottoman general, who would lead a military revolt against the new occupying powers and thus create a sovereign Turkish state throughout the Anatolian heartland. Kemalism willingly ceded away the non-Anatolian parts of the Ottoman Empire but compensated by demanding a uniethnic Turkish state within Anatolia itself. Gone were the "Kurds," for example. They would henceforth be known as "Mountain Turks." Gone, in fact, was the entire multicultural edifice of the Ottoman Empire.

Kemalism not only rejected minorities, it rejected the Arabic script of the Turkish language. Ataturk risked higher illiteracy rates to give the language a Latin script. He abolished the Muslim religious courts and discouraged women from wearing the veil and men from wearing fezzes. Ataturk further recast Turks as Europeans (without giving much thought to whether the Europeans would accept them as such), all in an attempt to reorient Turkey away from the now defunct Ottoman Empire in the Middle East and toward Europe.

Kemalism was a call to arms: the martial Turkish reaction to the Treaty of Sevres, to the same degree that Putin's neo-czarism was the authoritarian reaction to Boris Yeltsin's anarchy of 1990s Russia. For decades the reverence for Ataturk in Turkey went beyond a personality cult: He was more like a stern, benevolent and protective demigod, whose portrait looked down upon every public interior.

The problem was that Ataturk's vision of orienting Turkey so firmly to the West clashed with Turkey's geographic situation, one that straddled both West and East. An adjustment was in order. Turgut Ozal, a religious Turk with Sufi tendencies who was elected prime minister in 1983, provided it.

Ozal's political skill enabled him to gradually wrest control of domestic policy and -- to an impressive degree -- foreign policy away from the staunchly Kemalist Turkish military. Whereas Ataturk and the generations of Turkish officers who followed him thought in terms of a Turkey that was an appendage of Europe, Ozal spoke of a Turkey whose influence stretched from the Aegean to the Great Wall of China. In Ozal's mind, Turkey did not have to choose between East and West. It was geographically enshrined in both and should thus politically embody both worlds. Ozal made Islam publicly respected again in Turkey, even as he enthusiastically supported U.S. President Ronald Reagan during the last phase of the Cold War. By being so pro-American and so adroit in managing the Kemalist establishment, in the West at least Ozal -- more than his predecessors -- was able to get away with being so Islamic.

Ozal used the cultural language of Islam to open the door to an acceptance of the Kurds. Turkey's alienation from Europe following the 1980 military coup d'etat enabled Ozal to develop economic linkages to Turkey's east. He also gradually empowered the devout Muslims of inner Anatolia. Ozal, two decades before Erdogan, saw Turkey as a champion of moderate Islam throughout the Muslim world, defying Ataturk's warning that such a Pan-Islamic policy would sap Turkey's strength and expose the Turks to voracious foreign powers. The term neo-Ottomanism was, in fact, first used in Ozal's last years in power.

Ozal died suddenly in 1993, ushering in a desultory decade of Turkish politics marked by increasing corruption and ineffectuality on the part of Turkey's sleepy secular elite. The stage was set for Erdogan's Islamic followers to win an outright parliamentary majority in 2002. Whereas Ozal came from the center-right Motherland Party, Erdogan came from the more openly Islamist-trending Justice and Development Party, though Erdogan himself and some of his advisers had moderated their views over the years. Of course, there were many permutations in Islamic political thought and politics in Turkey between Ozal and Erdogan, but one thing stands clear: Both Ozal and Erdogan were like two bookends of the period. In any case, unlike any leader today in Europe or the United States, Erdogan actually had a vision similar to Ozal's, a vision that constituted a further distancing from Kemalism.

Rather than Ataturk's emphasis on the military, Erdogan, like Ozal, has stressed the soft power of cultural and economic connections to recreate in a benign and subtle fashion a version of the Ottoman Empire from North Africa to the Iranian plateau and Central Asia. Remember that in the interpretation of one of the West's greatest scholars of Islam, the late Marshall G.S. Hodgson of the University of Chicago, the Islamic faith was originally a merchants' religion, which united followers from oasis to oasis, allowing for ethical dealing. In Islamic history, authentic religious connections across the Middle East and the Indian Ocean world could -- and did -- lead to wholesome business connections and political patronage. Thus is medievalism altogether relevant to the post-modern world.

Erdogan now realizes that projecting Turkey's moderate Muslim power throughout the Middle East is fraught with frustrating complexities. Indeed, it is unclear that Turkey even has the political and military capacity to actualize such a vision. To wit, Turkey may be trying its best to increase trade with its eastern neighbors, but it still does not come close to Turkey's large trade volumes with Europe, now mired in recession. In the Caucasus and Central Asia, Turkey demands influence based on geographic and linguistic affinity. Yet Putin's Russia continues to exert significant influence in the Central Asian states and, through its invasion and subsequent political maneuverings in Georgia, has put Azerbaijan in an extremely uncomfortable position. In Mesopotamia, Turkey's influence is simply unequal to that of far more proximate Iran. In Syria, Erdogan and his foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, thought -- incorrectly, it turns out -- that they could effectively mold a moderate Islamist Sunni opposition to replace President Bashar al Assad's Alawite regime. And while Erdogan has gained points throughout the Islamic world for his rousing opposition to Israel, he has learned that this comes at a price: the warming of relations between Israel and both Greece and the Greek part of Cyprus, which now permits Turkey's adversaries in the Eastern Mediterranean to cooperate in the hydrocarbon field.

The root of the problem is partly geographic. Turkey constitutes a bastion of mountains and plateau, inhabiting the half-island of the Anatolian land bridge between the Balkans and the Middle East. It is plainly not integral to a place like Iraq, for example, in the way that Iran is; and its Turkic language no longer enjoys the benefit of the Arabic script, which might give it more cultural leverage elsewhere in the Levant. But most important, Turkey is itself bedeviled by its own Kurdish population, complicating its attempts to exert leverage in neighboring Middle Eastern states.

Turkey's southeast is demographically dominated by ethnic Kurds, who adjoin vast Kurdish regions in Syria, Iraq and Iran. The ongoing breakup of Syria potentially liberates Kurds there to join with radical Kurds in Anatolia in order to undermine Turkey. The de facto breakup of Iraq has forced Turkey to follow a policy of constructive containment with Iraq's Kurdish north, but that has undermined Turkey's leverage in the rest of Iraq -- thus, in turn, undermining Turkey's attempts to influence Iran. Turkey wants to influence the Middle East, but the problem is that it remains too much a part of the Middle East to extricate itself from the region's complexities.

Erdogan knows that he must partially solve the Kurdish problem at home in order to gain further leverage in the region. He has even mentioned aloud the Arabic word, vilayet, associated with the Ottoman Empire. This word denotes a semi-autonomous province -- a concept that might hold the key for an accommodation with local Kurds but could well reignite his own nationalist rivals within Turkey. Thus, his is a big symbolic step that seeks to fundamentally neutralize the very foundation of Kemalism (with its emphasis on a solidly Turkic Anatolia). But given how he has already emasculated the Turkish military -- something few thought possible a decade ago -- one should be careful about underestimating Erdogan. His sheer ambition is something to behold. While Western elites ineffectually sneer at Putin, Erdogan enthusiastically takes notes when the two of them meet.

Editor's Note: Writing in George Friedman's stead this week are Stratfor's Chief Geopolitical Analyst Robert D. Kaplan and Vice President of Global Analysis Reva Bhalla.
Turkey's Geographical Ambition is republished with permission of Stratfor.

A civilian breaks the law and gets a view from this side of the badge.

An interesting read from this morning's Houston Chronicle.

Filmmaker channels ‘Cops’ experiences Amy Dickerson / New York Times 
Luke Greenfield, director and co-writer of “Let’s Be Cops,” admits he impersonated police officers. 
LOS ANGELES — As if grasping at wisps of a long-forgotten high, Luke Greenfield was trying to remember the first time he did it. Impersonate a police officer, that is.

It was certainly on Halloween, he said, probably in 2000, before the Sept. 11 terror attacks made that sort of stunt even dumber.

Then 28, Greenfield had persuaded a reluctant friend in the movie costume business to lend him a Los Angeles Police Department uniform. According to California Penal Code Section 538d(e)(2), just supplying the outfit is good for a $1,000 fine.

Now, sipping mineral water in a lounge at the Four Seasons, Greenfield, a nerdy, dismissible kind of guy, recalled the rush of his first cop-walk, along Sunset Boulevard.

“All of a sudden, I notice, there’s an energy,” he said. Girls looked interested. Drunken frat boys showed respect.
That is something every rookie cop gets and hopefully learns to use that respect right. In doing the job correctly. The people on the street (and the other cops) respect the badge and uniform. But that only goes go far. The man has to show he earns that respect.
It was, he explained, “like wearing a superhero uniform” — and punishable by a year in county jail, or a $2,000 fine, or both.

But Greenfield, then a struggling University of Southern California film school graduate with no serious credits to his name, did it again. And again. And again.

“Three, four, five times,” he said.

“Maybe five,” he allowed. “It wasn’t like I was doing it every day.”

Greenfield did it in New York City, where he had himself photographed wearing a New York police uniform and flirting with a model, talking to a real cop, flopping down on a park bench next to a couple of kids who were obviously smoking marijuana.

He also did it in Tempe, Ariz., where he was arrested and sentenced to community service. The service experience helped inspire the 2008 comedy “Role Models,” about mentorship gone wrong, of which Greenfield was a producer.
Oh well, nothing good last forever! :<)
On Wednesday, Greenfield’s shenanigans will get another fictionalized airing, this time in a broad comedy from 20th Century Fox. Titled, simply enough, “Let’s Be Cops,” it was directed and co-written, with Nicholas Thomas, by Greenfield — who now has a few films under his belt, including the 2011 Warner Bros. romance “Something Borrowed.”

The new film stars Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. (who can both be seen on the Fox sitcom “New Girl”) as young Los Angeles men whose lives are going nowhere, until they do what Greenfield did: pretend to be police officers.

Then things get worse. Albanian mobsters chase them. Wayans gets his girl, but the girl, played by Nina Dobrev of “The Vampire Diaries,” wises up and gets very, very mad. A corrupt cop, portrayed by Andy Garcia, makes even the Albanian mobsters look sweet.

Along the way, aficionados of Hollywood portrayal of cops — a genre that stretches to “Dragnet” and beyond — will spot the cinematic references.
I loved Joe Friday! He used to say "Just the facts ma'am", I usually say "To the point please!"
Johnson and Garcia square off in a moment that might have been lifted from “Heat.” Johnson and Wayans walk, talk and wear bulletproof vests like the hotshots in “Bad Boys II.”

And their buddy banter in a squad car is an unabashed tribute to “End of Watch,” whose writer and director, David Ayer, was about to become involved with “Let’s Be Cops” — whether as a writer, a producer or, in his word, “a godfather” — when “Watch” suddenly got a green light in 2011.

“There’s definitely wish fulfillment there,” Ayer said. “Who doesn’t wonder what it feels like to be a cop?”
Come on fellow cops out there, who didn't like the Joe Friday's and Bill Gannon's, the Reed's and Malloy's, the Lennie Briscoe's, you all know a Tackleberry, a Barney Miller and a Fish!

Asked whether Greenfield had acknowledged his own police charades, Ayer said: “Yes. Yes. Not good. Funny. Good research. But not good.” (Fox executives were aware of Greenfield’s past adventures.)

In fact, Ayer said, he once briefly toured the streets of Los Angeles in cop drag, while filming “Training Day,” which he wrote and in which he was cast in a bit part as an officer. During a spin through the city in a fake police cruiser, he at first thought the obvious attention from those on the outside was “awesome.”

Then, Ayer said, it hit him.

“We’re a target; we’re a freaking target,” he recalled thinking. “There are a lot of people who don’t like cops.”...
As an old army buddy used to say, "DA!" As a rule, our customers don't like us. We're the guys who tell these people, "No, you can't do that!". Or in the words of End of Watch, "I am the police, and I'm here to arrest you. You've broken the law. I did not write the law. I may even disagree with the law but I will enforce it. No matter how you plead, cajole, beg or attempt to stir my sympathies, nothing you do will stop me from placing you in a steel cage with gray bars. If you run away I will chase you. If you fight me I will fight back. If you shoot at me I will shoot back. By law I am unable to walk away. I am a consequence. I am the unpaid bill. I am fate with a badge and a gun....

Truer words were never told. I think I will check out this movie this month.  Be safe out there my fellow cops.