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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

This is not how police work should be done

Police carry out a necessary function of society. We are there to maintain order in a screwed up world. However, we cannot hold our arguably greatest power behind a cloak. We rarely have the use deadly force in our duties but once the legal process has gone through (police investigation, DA investigation, grand jury, etc) the people who authorize these police forces have a right to see why someone got shot. I can't agree with the way things in Fairfax are happening.

From my friend Darren at RotLC

Police Blackout: Law enforcement agencies in Northern Virginia say you have no right to know what they’re doing.
Radley Balko from the July 2010 issue

Last November a police officer shot and killed David Masters, an unarmed motorist, as he sat in the driver’s seat of his car on the side of Richmond Highway, a major thoroughfare in Fairfax County, Virginia. ...In January of this year, Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney Raymond Morrogh announced through a press release that he would not be filing any charges against the officer who shot Masters. The shooting, Morrogh found, was justified due to a “furtive gesture” that suggested Masters had a weapon. The only eyewitness to this gesture was the police officer who pulled the trigger.

There exists dash-camera video of Masters’ shooting. There are also police interviews of other witnesses, and there is the police report itself. But the public and the press are unlikely to see those, or even to learn the officer’s name. ...Michael Pope, a reporter who covers Northern Virginia for the Connection Newspapers chain and for WAMU-FM, filed a series of open records requests related to the Masters shooting with the Fairfax County Police Department. All were denied. In March, Pope asked Fairfax County Police Public Information Officer Mary Ann Jennings why her department won’t at least release the incident report on Masters’ death, given the concerns that some have raised about the shooting. “Let us hear that concern,” Jennings shot back. “We are not hearing it from anybody except the media, except individual reporters.”

Except the media? That’s exactly who you would expect to file most open records requests. Asked why her department won’t even release the name of the officer who shot Masters, Jennings got more obtuse. “What does the name of an officer give the public in terms of information and disclosure?” Jennings asked. “I’d be curious to know why they want the name of an officer.”

Well, for starters, because he’s a government employee, paid by taxpayers and entrusted with the power to arrest, detain, coerce, and kill. And he recently used the most serious of those powers on an unarmed man. Releasing the name would allow reporters to see if the officer has been involved in other shootings or if there have been prior disciplinary measures or citizen complaints against him. It would allow the media to assess whether the Fairfax County Police Department has done an adequate job of training him in the use of lethal force.

Then again, journalists can’t get that other information either. The default position of the Fairfax County Police Department, Pope says, is to decline all requests for information. And not just from the media. When a member of the county SWAT team shot and killed 38-year-old optometrist Sal Culosi Jr. in 2006, it took nearly a year, plus legal action, to get the department to release information about its investigation of the shooting to Culosi’s family. Culosi, who had been suspected of wagering on football games with friends, was also unarmed when he was killed.

...Fairfax County hasn’t charged a police officer for an on-duty shooting in 70 years. Perhaps that’s because no officer there has deserved to be charged. But perhaps local police and prosecutors have too cozy a relationship. The point is, we don’t know. And northern Virginia’s cops have made it almost impossible to find out.

I am no fan of Reason magazine but this time the writer is putting some light on legitimate problem. Government power is from the people who authorize it. If there are questions, being open about it would be the best policy.

Now Reason will you show a similar interest in the personal finances of Chris Dodd and Barney Frank or where the Stimulus Bill is going?

STRATFOR: Above the Tearline: Subway Security

Security expert Fred Burton describes the counterterrorism techniques of the New York Police Department’s Hercules Unit and its adoption by Washington D.C.’s subway police.

STRATFOR: Geopolitical Weekly : The 30-Year War in Afghanistan

By George Friedman

The Afghan War is the longest war in U.S. history. It began in 1980 and continues to rage. It began under Democrats but has been fought under both Republican and Democratic administrations, making it truly a bipartisan war. The conflict is an odd obsession of U.S. foreign policy, one that never goes away and never seems to end. As the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal reminds us, the Afghan War is now in its fourth phase.

The Afghan War’s First Three Phases

The first phase of the Afghan War began with the Soviet invasion in December 1979, when the United States, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, organized and sustained Afghan resistance to the Soviets. This resistance was built around mujahideen, fighters motivated by Islam. Washington’s purpose had little to do with Afghanistan and everything to do with U.S.-Soviet competition. The United States wanted to block the Soviets from using Afghanistan as a base for further expansion and wanted to bog the Soviets down in a debilitating guerrilla war. The United States did not so much fight the war as facilitate it. The strategy worked. The Soviets were blocked and bogged down. This phase lasted until 1989, when Soviet troops were withdrawn.

The second phase lasted from 1989 until 2001. The forces the United States and its allies had trained and armed now fought each other in complex coalitions for control of Afghanistan. Though the United States did not take part in this war directly, it did not lose all interest in Afghanistan. Rather, it was prepared to exert its influence through allies, particularly Pakistan. Most important, it was prepared to accept that the Islamic fighters it had organized against the Soviets would govern Afghanistan. There were many factions, but with Pakistani support, a coalition called the Taliban took power in 1996. The Taliban in turn provided sanctuary for a group of international jihadists called al Qaeda, and this led to increased tensions with the Taliban following jihadist attacks on U.S. facilities abroad by al Qaeda.

The third phase began on Sept. 11, 2001, when al Qaeda launched attacks on the mainland United States. Given al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan, the United States launched operations designed to destroy or disrupt al Qaeda and dislodge the Taliban. The United States commenced operations barely 30 days after Sept. 11, which was not enough time to mount an invasion using U.S. troops as the primary instrument. Rather, the United States made arrangements with factions that were opposed to the Taliban (and defeated in the Afghan civil war). This included organizations such as the Northern Alliance, which had remained close to the Russians; Shiite groups in the west that were close to the Iranians and India; and other groups or subgroups in other regions. These groups supported the United States out of hostility to the Taliban and/or due to substantial bribes paid by the United States.

The overwhelming majority of ground forces opposing the Taliban in 2001 were Afghan. The United States did, however, insert special operations forces teams to work with these groups and to identify targets for U.S. airpower, the primary American contribution to the war. The use of U.S. B-52s against Taliban forces massed around cities in the north caused the Taliban to abandon any thought of resisting the Northern Alliance and others, even though the Taliban had defeated them in the civil war.

Unable to hold fixed positions against airstrikes, the Taliban withdrew from the cities and dispersed. The Taliban were not defeated, however; they merely declined to fight on U.S. terms. Instead, they redefined the war, preserving their forces and regrouping. The Taliban understood that the cities were not the key to Afghanistan. Instead, the countryside would ultimately provide control of the cities. From the Taliban point of view, the battle would be waged in the countryside, while the cities increasingly would be isolated.

The United States simply did not have sufficient force to identify, engage and destroy the Taliban as a whole. The United States did succeed in damaging and dislodging al Qaeda, with the jihadist group’s command cell becoming isolated in northwestern Pakistan. But as with the Taliban, the United States did not defeat al Qaeda because the United States lacked significant forces on the ground. Even so, al Qaeda prime, the original command cell, was no longer in a position to mount 9/11-style attacks.

During the Bush administration, U.S. goals for Afghanistan were modest. First, the Americans intended to keep al Qaeda bottled up and to impose as much damage as possible on the group. Second, they intended to establish an Afghan government, regardless of how ineffective it might be, to serve as a symbolic core. Third, they planned very limited operations against the Taliban, which had regrouped and increasingly controlled the countryside. The Bush administration was basically in a holding operation in Afghanistan. It accepted that U.S. forces were neither going to be able to impose a political solution on Afghanistan nor create a coalition large enough control the country. U.S. strategy was extremely modest under Bush: to harass al Qaeda from bases in Afghanistan, maintain control of cities and logistics routes, and accept the limits of U.S. interests and power.

The three phases of American involvement in Afghanistan had a common point: All three were heavily dependent on non-U.S. forces to do the heavy lifting. In the first phase, the mujahideen performed this task. In the second phase, the United States relied on Pakistan to manage Afghanistan’s civil war. In the third phase, especially in the beginning, the United States depended on Afghan forces to fight the Taliban. Later, when greater numbers of American and allied forces arrived, the United States had limited objectives beyond preserving the Afghan government and engaging al Qaeda wherever it might be found (and in any event, by 2003, Iraq had taken priority over Afghanistan). In no case did the Americans use their main force to achieve their goals.

The Fourth Phase of the Afghan War

The fourth phase of the war began in 2009, when U.S. President Barack Obama decided to pursue a more aggressive strategy in Afghanistan. Though the Bush administration had toyed with this idea, it was Obama who implemented it fully. During the 2008 election campaign, Obama asserted that he would pay greater attention to Afghanistan. The Obama administration began with the premise that while the Iraq War was a mistake, the Afghan War had to be prosecuted. It reasoned that unlike Iraq, which had a tenuous connection to al Qaeda at best, Afghanistan was the group’s original base. He argued that Afghanistan therefore should be the focus of U.S. military operations. In doing so, he shifted a strategy that had been in place for 30 years by making U.S. forces the main combatants in the war.

Though Obama’s goals were not altogether clear, they might be stated as follows:

1. Deny al Qaeda a base in Afghanistan.

2. Create an exit strategy from Afghanistan similar to the one in Iraq by creating the conditions for negotiating with the Taliban; make denying al Qaeda a base a condition for the resulting ruling coalition.

3. Begin withdrawal by 2011.

To do this, there would be three steps:

1. Increase the number and aggressiveness of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

2. Create Afghan security forces under the current government to take over from the Americans.

3. Increase pressure on the Taliban by driving a wedge between them and the population and creating intra-insurgent rifts via effective counterinsurgency tactics.

In analyzing this strategy, there is an obvious issue: While al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan in 2001, Afghanistan is no longer its primary base of operations. The group has shifted to Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other countries. As al Qaeda is thus not dependent on any one country for its operational base, denying it bases in Afghanistan does not address the reality of its dispersion. Securing Afghanistan, in other words, is no longer the solution to al Qaeda.

Obviously, Obama’s planners fully understood this. Therefore, sanctuary denial for al Qaeda had to be, at best, a secondary strategic goal. The primary strategic goal was to create an exit strategy for the United States based on a negotiated settlement with the Taliban and a resulting coalition government. The al Qaeda issue depended on this settlement, but could never be guaranteed. In fact, neither the long-term survival of a coalition government nor the Taliban policing al Qaeda could be guaranteed.

The exit of U.S. forces represents a bid to reinstate the American strategy of the past 30 years, namely, having Afghan forces reassume the primary burden of fighting. The creation of an Afghan military is not the key to this strategy. Afghans fight for their clans and ethnic groups. The United States is trying to invent a national army where no nation exists, a task that assumes the primary loyalty of Afghans will shift from their clans to a national government, an unlikely proposition.

The Real U.S. Strategy

Rather than trying to strengthen the Karzai government, the real strategy is to return to the historical principles of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan: alliance with indigenous forces. These indigenous forces would pursue strategies in the American interest for their own reasons, or because they are paid, and would be strong enough to stand up to the Taliban in a coalition. As CIA Director Leon Panetta put it this weekend, however, this is proving harder to do than expected.
The American strategy is, therefore, to maintain a sufficient force to shape the political evolution on the ground, and to use that force to motivate and intimidate while also using economic incentives to draw together a coalition in the countryside. Operations like those in Helmand province — where even Washington acknowledges that progress has been elusive and slower than anticipated — clearly are designed to try to draw regional forces into regional coalitions that eventually can enter a coalition with the Taliban without immediately being overwhelmed. If this strategy proceeds, the Taliban in theory will be spurred to negotiate out of concern that this process eventually could leave it marginalized.

There is an anomaly in this strategy, however. Where the United States previously had devolved operational responsibility to allied groups, or simply hunkered down, this strategy tries to return to devolved responsibilities by first surging U.S. operations. The fourth phase actually increases U.S. operational responsibility in order to reduce it.

From the grand strategic point of view, the United States needs to withdraw from Afghanistan, a landlocked country where U.S. forces are dependent on tortuous supply lines. Whatever Afghanistan’s vast mineral riches, mining them in the midst of war is not going to happen. More important, the United States is overcommitted in the region and lacks a strategic reserve of ground forces. Afghanistan ultimately is not strategically essential, and this is why the United States has not historically used its own forces there.

Obama’s attempt to return to that track after first increasing U.S. forces to set the stage for the political settlement that will allow a U.S. withdrawal is hampered by the need to begin terminating the operation by 2011 (although there is no fixed termination date). It will be difficult to draw coalition partners into local structures when the foundation — U.S. protection — is withdrawing. Strengthening local forces by 2011 will be difficult. Moreover, the Taliban’s motivation to enter into talks is limited by the early withdrawal. At the same time, with no ground combat strategic reserve, the United States is vulnerable elsewhere in the world, and the longer the Afghan drawdown takes, the more vulnerable it becomes (hence the 2011 deadline in Obama’s war plan).

In sum, this is the quandary inherent in the strategy: It is necessary to withdraw as early as possible, but early withdrawal undermines both coalition building and negotiations. The recruitment and use of indigenous Afghan forces must move extremely rapidly to hit the deadline (though officially on track quantitatively, there are serious questions about qualitative measures) — hence, the aggressive operations that have been mounted over recent months. But the correlation of forces is such that the United States probably will not be able to impose an acceptable political reality in the time frame available. Thus, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is said to be opening channels directly to the Taliban, while the Pakistanis are increasing their presence. Where a vacuum is created, regardless of how much activity there is, someone will fill it.

Therefore, the problem is to define how important Afghanistan is to American global strategy, bearing in mind that the forces absorbed in Iraq and Afghanistan have left the United States vulnerable elsewhere in the world. The current strategy defines the Islamic world as the focus of all U.S. military attention. But the world has rarely been so considerate as to wait until the United States is finished with one war before starting another. Though unknowns remain unknowable, a principle of warfare is to never commit all of your reserves in a battle — one should always maintain a reserve for the unexpected. Strategically, it is imperative that the United States begin to free up forces and re-establish its ground reserves.

Given the time frame the Obama administration’s grand strategy imposes, and given
the capabilities of the Taliban, it is difficult to see how it will all work out. But the ultimate question is about the American obsession with Afghanistan. For 30 years, the United States has been involved in a country that is virtually inaccessible for the United States. Washington has allied itself with radical Islamists, fought against radical Islamists or tried to negotiate with radical Islamists. What the United States has never tried to do is impose a political solution through the direct application of American force. This is a new and radically different phase of America’s Afghan obsession. The questions are whether it will work and whether it is even worth it.

This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR

STRATFOR: Mexico Security Memo: June 28, 2010

The Mexico Security Memo tracks and summarizes key incidents over the past week

STRATFOR : Iran, US, Israel

Analyst Reva Bhalla examines rumors of U.S. and Israeli military maneuvers at a critical juncture in U.S.-Iranian dealings.

STRATFOR: Agenda: With George Friedman 100628

STRATFOR CEO George Friedman says the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan must now include a framework where it withdraws its forces.

STRATFOR : U.S. arrests of alleged Russian spies

Security expert Fred Burton analyzes the U.S. arrests of alleged Russian spies and discusses the interconnected nature of espionage cases.

Monday, June 28, 2010

McDonald vs City of Chicago Concurring Opinion

Justice John Paul Stevens, one of the worst justices on the court is retiring thank God. Justice Scalia, my favorite justice on the court, is going after his ass for his decent in McDonald v City of Chicago. I love Scalia...I think this concurring opinion is showing some previously held tension between the two men. The good thing is Scalia is going to be on the bench for many more moons!

I'm putting only the first and last paragragphs on this post. The actual opinion is a bit long and these full wordks say it well.

The full opinion is here, Justice Scalia's concurring opinion is on page 52 and runs 14 pages. The entire document is over 200 pages so this will take a bit to read through.


JUSTICE SCALIA, concurring.

I join the Court’s opinion…

I write separately only to respond to some aspects of JUSTICE STEVENS’ dissent. Not that aspect which disagrees with the majority’s application of our precedents to this case, which is fully covered by the Court’s opinion. But much of what JUSTICE STEVENS writes is a broad condemnation of the theory of interpretation which underlies the Court’s opinion, a theory that makes the traditions of our people paramount. He proposes a different theory, which he claims is more “cautiou[s]” and respectful of proper limits on the judicial role. It is that claim I wish to address.....

And the Court’s approach intrudes less upon the democratic process because the rights it acknowledges are those established by a constitutional history formed by democratic decisions; and the rights it fails to acknowledge are left to be democratically adopted or rejected by the people, with the assurance that their decision is not subject to judicial revision. JUSTICE STEVENS’ approach, on the other hand, deprives the people of that power, since whatever the Constitution and laws may say, the list of protected rights will be whatever courts wish it to be. After all, he notes, the people have been wrong before, and courts may conclude they are wrong in the future. JUSTICE STEVENS abhors a system in which “majorities or powerful interest groups always get their way,” but replaces it with a system in which unelected and life tenured judges always get their way. That such usurpation is effected unabashedly, with “the judge’s cards . . . laid on the table,” ibid.—makes it even worse. In a vibrant democracy, usurpation should have to be accomplished in the dark. It is JUSTICE STEVENS’ approach, not the Court’s, that puts democracy in peril.

Gun Prohibition, R.I.P.

A great post on todays release Supreme Court ruling striking down the Chicago gun ban. This is great...but the Scalia concurring opinion in McDonald v. City of Chicago (see above) is fantastic:

David Rittgers
Gun Prohibition, R.I.P.

Gun Prohibition, R.I.P. - David Rittgers on National Review Online">The Supreme Court’s new Second Amendment decision is the end of an era.

The Supreme Court’s rejection of Chicago’s handgun ban in McDonald v. City of Chicago is more than a recognition that the Second Amendment applies to the states as well as the federal government. The McDonald decision is a harbinger for the end of gun prohibition as an idea. The simple, undeniable truth is that gun control does not work.

McDonald brings the law up to speed with reality, where advocates of gun control have been wrong since the issue became a national discussion.

Strict gun-control policies have failed to deliver on their essential promise: that denying law-abiding citizens access to the means of self-defense will somehow make them safer. This should come as no surprise, since gun control has always been about control, not guns.

I've mentioned before how I was not concerned when Texas changed it's laws to allow people to carry a pistol in their car without a concealed carry permit. A friend of the force said this would make the streets more dangerous and my response was along the words of "the bad guys are already not obeying the law, they are carrying in their cars and on their persons....that's why they are the bad guys...."

Racism created gun control in America. Confronted with the prospect of armed freedmen who could stand up for their rights, states across the South instituted gun-control regimes that took away the ability of blacks to defend themselves against the depravity of the Klan....

Gee, liberals being racist???? I don't belive it.

...Since the Heller case invalidated the District of Columbia’s handgun ban two years ago, Chicago has served as the gun-control capital of the United States. Not coincidentally, Chicago is a dangerous place to live. Two weekends ago, 52 people were shot, eight fatally. Local politicians frequently ponder calling out the National Guard to patrol Chicago’s streets.

Three times in the last month, Chicago residents have defended their homes or businesses with “illegal” guns. In the first, an 80-year-old Navy veteran killed a felon who broke into his home. In the second, a man shot and wounded a fugitive who burst into the man’s home while running from the police. In the third, the owner of a pawn shop killed one of three robbers in self-defense, sending the other two running.

The Illinois legislature, confronted with clearly justified shootings like these before, created an affirmative defense for those who violate local gun bans when unregistered guns are used in self-defense. Then–state senator Barack Obama voted against this law, which passed by an overwhelming majority and over then-governor Rod Blagojevich’s veto.

You mean B Hussein Obama doesn't like it when people defend themselves against the bad guys...or just the fact his buddy lawyers couldn't sue afterwards?

In passing this exception, Illinois recognized the basic injustice of the Chicago gun ban. Otherwise law-abiding citizens are victimized at a high rate. Chicagoans cannot depend on the police to defend them, cannot sue the city because the law protects officials from liability for failure to protect them, and are barred from effective means of self-defense.

And a right no man can take from another man...the right of self defense. I won't question there are legitimate restrictions for a "well regulated militia", e.g. limits on the ownership of fully automatic weapons, but telling someone he can't have a 45cal or 12gauge in his house is a threat to the liberty of free men everywhere. But to make another point. To every pusher of gun control...I'll start taking you more seriousely when you don't have armed security watching you. Obama, the Clintons, the Kennedy's like to talk about taking guns from the American people but not themselves. I mean, if the gun is the problem wouldn't they want their guards disarmed for their safety?


Sunday, June 27, 2010

You want to get rid of marijuana

A good friend of mine sent me the book Freakonomics a few years ago and one of the chapters was on why drug pushers often still live with moma. Because the business doesn't make much money. Now we have legal week...you think you had a problem making a buck now!

When Capitalism Meets Cannabis

At the Farmacy in Boulder, Colo., medical marijuana is sold in a boutiquelike atmosphere. State law lets sellers profit as much as they can, as long as they stay within a labyrinth of rules.

ANYONE who thinks it would be easy to get rich selling marijuana in a state where it’s legal should spend an hour with Ravi Respeto, manager of the Farmacy, an upscale dispensary here that offers Strawberry Haze, Hawaiian Skunk and other strains of Cannabis sativa at up to $16 a gram.

She will harsh your mellow.

“No M.B.A. program could have prepared me for this experience,” she says, wearing a cream-colored smock made of hemp. “People have this misconception that you just jump into it and start making money hand over fist, and that is not the case.”

Since this place opened in January, it’s been one nerve-fraying problem after another. Pot growers, used to cash-only transactions, are shocked to be paid with checks and asked for receipts. And there are a lot of unhappy surprises, like one not long ago when the Farmacy learned that its line of pot-infused beverages could not be sold nearby in Denver. Officials there had decided that any marijuana-tinged consumables had to be produced in a kitchen in the city.

“You’d never see a law that says, ‘If you want to sell Nike shoes in San Francisco, the shoes have to be made in San Francisco,’ ” says Ms. Respeto, sitting in a tiny office on the second floor of the Farmacy. “But in this industry you get stuff like that all the time.”

One of the odder experiments in the recent history of American capitalism is unfolding here in the Rockies: the country’s first attempt at fully regulating, licensing and taxing a for-profit marijuana trade. In California, medical marijuana dispensary owners work in nonprofit collectives, but the cannabis pioneers of Colorado are free to pocket as much as they can — as long as they stay within the rules.

The catch is that there are a ton of rules, and more are coming in the next few months. The authorities here were initially caught off guard when dispensary mania began last year, after President Obama announced that federal law enforcement officials wouldn’t trouble users and suppliers as long as they complied with state law. In Colorado, where a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana was passed in 2000, hundreds of dispensaries popped up and a startling number of residents turned out to be in “severe pain,” the most popular of eight conditions that can be treated legally with the once-demonized weed.

More than 80,000 people here now have medical marijuana certificates, which are essentially prescriptions, and for months new enrollees have signed up at a rate of roughly 1,000 a day.

As supply met demand, politicians decided that a body of regulations was overdue. The state’s Department of Revenue has spent months conceiving rules for this new industry, ending the reefer-madness phase here in favor of buzz-killing specifics about cultivation, distribution, storage and every other part of the business.

Whether and how this works will be carefully watched far beyond Colorado. The rules here could be a blueprint for the 13 states, as well as the District of Columbia, that have medical marijuana laws. That is particularly the case in Rhode Island, New Jersey, the District of Columbia and Maine, which are poised to roll out programs of their own.....

I love that quote "politicians decided that a body of regulations was overdue."....when do they not decide a body of regulations is overdue? I've often said you want to end drug use in this country, let the feds handle distribution. The bureaucracy would spend 20 billion on how to handle sales/distribution of a couple of bags of weed.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I am shocked, shocked there is gambling going on in here

You mean he wasn't the top of his class, ready to graduate with honors, wanting to become a doctor or engineer? I don't believe it!
Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereka was among El Paso's most wanted juveniles with at least four arrests since 2008

EL PASO, Texas — A 15-year-old Mexican boy shot and killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent was among El Paso's most wanted juvenile immigrant smugglers, according to federal arrest records reviewed by The Associated Press.

The records show Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereka had been arrested at least four times since 2008 and twice in the same week in February 2009 on suspicion of smuggling illegal immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border. Hernandez was repeatedly arrested along the U.S. side of the border near downtown El Paso, not far from where he was killed, but was never charged with a crime by federal prosecutors.

A Border Patrol agent shot and killed Hernandez June 7 while trying to arrest illegal immigrants crossing the muddy bed of the Rio Grande. ...

...The records also show that in one case, federal prosecutors declined to charge Hernandez because there were no "extenuating circumstances or endangerment."...

...Mexican authorities have called the killing a murder and some demanded that the agent be extradited to Mexico to face criminal charges. U.S. officials have said that is highly unlikely.

What is most astonishing about this article....that fact AP actually told people this punk was a crook. But again we need amnesty, err comprehensive immigration reform.

Friday, June 25, 2010

What's going on in the World Today 100625




Poland, U.S.: Second Round Of Patriots Expected

June 24, 2010

The first contingent of American troops and patriot missiles stationed in northern Poland returned to base in Germany, with the second round scheduled to be in Poland in late June or early July, according to a Defense Ministry spokesman, TheNews.pl reported June 24. Further training of Polish troops stationed at the base in northern Poland will resume in the coming days when the second battery of missiles arrives.


Iran: Naval Guards Transfer HQ To Bandar Abbas

June 24, 2010

Iran’s naval guards will transfer the headquarters from Tehran to Bandar Abbas within a month, according to the navy commander, IRNA reported June 24. The Persian Gulf is the center and most sensitive point of the world, the commander stated, adding that America cannot survive without the Persian Gulf and Iran can exert as much pressure as it wants at any time. If America and its allies act in accordance with their “illegitimate and illegal” resolution, Iran would be in the Persian Gulf and at the Strait of Hormuz to react with “a very special and very appropriate move,” he stated.




Israel: Warplanes Launch Raids On Gaza

June 25, 2010

Israeli warplanes flew three raids against the Gaza Strip overnight wounding one person, according to witnesses and Palestinian medical officials, Dawn News reported June 25. The planes attacked the town of Rafah, with raids on the former airport and the town of Beit Hanun. An Israeli military spokesman confirmed the raids to AFP, stating that planes attacked an armory in the north of the Gaza Strip and two tunnels in the south used for gun running from Egypt. The raids are a reaction to Gaza’s shelling of the western sector of the Negev desert in southern Israel, the spokesman added.


Afghanistan: Taliban Vow To Fight Despite NATO Commander Switch

June 24, 2010

The Taliban will continue its insurgency in Afghanistan regardless of a switch in NATO command after the White House sacked Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a spokesman said, The News International reported June 24. The Taliban does not care whether it is McChrystal or Petraeus, Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi stated by telephone. The Taliban position is clear, he said, to fight the invading forces until they leave. Shame on Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the “puppet president” who shamelessly asked U.S. President Barack Obama to keep McChrystal in the job, Ahmadi added.


Russia: New Technologies Would Open Access

June 24, 2010

Russia is trying to become an open country for investment, trade, joint projects, and economics, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said during a speech at Stanford University, the last stop on his U.S. visit, AP reported June 24. Russia has money, he said, but it does not have Silicon Valley. Medvedev listed 10 points he believes will pave the way for Russia’s success, including reforming health care and education systems, and creating a more reliable court system and stronger financial system. Medvedev held a private meeting that included former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Condoleezza Rice, and Cisco CEO John Chambers.

Belarus: Russia Must Pay Debt Or Face Transit Shutdown

June 25, 2010

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said Russia had 24 hours to pay off its gas transit debt or Minsk would restrict oil and gas transit through its territory, RIA Novosti reported June 25. Belarus said Russia’s Gazprom owed it $260 million for the transit of gas via its territory. Gazprom insists it paid $228 million in accordance with the current contract. Lukashenko warned that Gazprom’s failure to pay in full for the services provided will result in the suspension of services for Russia’s oil and gas transportation.


Venezuela: Seeks To Nationalize Helmerich & Payne Rigs

June 23, 2010

Venezuela’s state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), is seeking to nationalize 11 oil drilling rigs in Anzoategui state that are owned by Helmerich & Payne Inc., which the oil company accuses of trying to slow oil production in the country, Bloomberg reported June 23, citing Oil Minister and PDVSA President Rafael Ramirez. He said Helmerich & Payne has refused to discuss payment rates for services and hidden rigs for a year. Ramirez added that Venezuela will not allow the company to sabotage PDVSA operations.

U.S.: Venezuela Must Compensate Oil Rig Owners - State

June 24, 2010

A U.S. State Department spokesman said Venezuela must compensate Helmerich & Payne, the owner of 11 oil rigs that the Venezuelan government has threatened to nationalize, El Nacional reported June 24. The spokesman said nationalization of the assets could have a negative effect on the national investment climate.

Guatemala: New National Police Director Named

June 24, 2010

Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom named Jaime Otzin to be director of the National Civil Police, El Periodico reported June 24. Otzin was formerly deputy chief of operations for the police. Additionally, Guatemalan Interior Minister Carlos Menocal announced the removal of nine police commissioners.

Venezuela: Drug Suspect Wanted By U.S. Captured

June 24, 2010

Venezuela has captured Luis Frank Tello Candelo, a suspected Colombian drug smuggler who is wanted on cocaine charges in the United States and who has allegedly collaborated with Mexico’s Zetas drug gang, AP reported June 24, citing Venezuelan Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami. No details were provided regarding Tello Candelo’s purported ties to the Zetas.

Venezuela: U.S. Oil Assets To Be Nationalized

June 24, 2010

Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA is seeking the nationalization of 11 oil drilling rigs owned by U.S. company Helmerich & Payne, which is accused of trying to slow oil production, Bloomberg reported June 24. PDVSA will seek National Assembly approval to seize the 11 rigs in Anzoategui state, Rafael Ramirez, oil minister and president of PDVSA, said. The rig owner refused to discuss payment rates for services and preferred to hide the rigs for a year, Ramirez said, adding that Venezuela will not allow the company to “sabotage operations.”

Mexico: Firefight, Roadblocks Reported In Nuevo Leon

June 24, 2010

Unidentified gunmen blocked several roads using stolen vehicles in the municipalities of Apodaca, San Nicolas de los Garza and Escobedo in Mexico’s Nuevo Leon state, La Cronica de Hoy reported June 24. The roadblocks began after a firefight in the municipality of Apodaca.

Argentina: Deal Reached With China On Soybean Oil Ministry

June 25, 2010

Argentina has reached a deal with China over Beijings freeze of soybean oil imports from Argentina, an agriculture ministry spokesman told Reuters on June 25.

Colombia: FARC To Radicalize Political Struggle

June 24, 2010

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) warned it would radicalize its political struggle following Juan Manuel Santos’ presidential election victory, according to a communique released through ANNCOL news agency on June 24. The communique said the Colombian government used fraudulent methods to ensure the election of Santos.


Pakistan: 5 U.S. Citizens Convicted Of Terrorism Charges

June 24, 2010

Five U.S. citizens were convicted June 24 by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan, Xinhua reported. They were convicted of a 10-year jail term and a five-year term, to run concurrently, for links to terrorist groups. They were also fined 70,000 rupees (about $820). The five had been arrested in Sargodha city, Punjab, Pakistan, in December 2009.

South Korea, U.S.: Wartime Command Transfer Reconsidered

June 24, 2010

North Korea’s nuclear test last year prompted Seoul and Washington to rethink their agreement on South Korea retaking the wartime operational command over its troops from the United States in 2012, according to Seoul’s Foreign Minister Yu Myung Hwan, Yonhap reported June 24. The perception of changes in the situation began with North Korea’s second nuclear test after U.S. President Barack Obama took office, Yu stated. Reflecting the situation around the Korean Peninsula is important in carrying out the command transfer plan, he said.

Kyrgyzstan: Ex-Leader's Nephew Admits Involvement In Riots - Police

June 25, 2010

Ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s nephew, Sanjar Bakiyev, has admitted his involvement in organizing the seizure of state buildings and instigating interethnic clashes in the town of Dzhalal-Abad, the first deputy Kyrgyz interior minister, Melis Turgunbayev, said on June 25, 24.kg reported. Turgunbayev said the nephew was detained during an operation in the Shatyrak area in Suzak region’s Kyzyl-Tuu village on June 25. Another four members of his group were also detained in the operation, according to an unnamed officer of the Kyrgyz State National Security Service.

Pakistan: Civil War Feared In 13 Areas

June 25, 2010

Pakistani agencies sent a warning report to the president and the prime minister that there is a danger of eruption of civil war in 13 areas of Pakistan because of economic deterioration, The News International reported June 25. Referring to increasing suicides due to poverty, the report said the situation is turning extremely critical due to poverty in the interior areas of Sindh and Punjab where “practical steps are needed on a war footing.”

South Korea, U.S.: Troops Brace For North Korean Provocations

June 24, 2010

South Korean and U.S. troops will decisively respond to any future provocations by North Korea, according to U.S. Army Gen. Walter Sharp, even with outright war, Yonhap reported June 24. Realistic training and exercises enable troops to decisively engage across the entire range of military conflicts from cyberterrorism to North Korean provocations and aggressions, Sharp said at a ceremony held at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul. Constant vigilance is exercised on land, sea and in the air, he stated at an inauguration ceremony for Gen. Jung Seung Jo, the new vice commander of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command.


Dispatch: Russian Strategy on Iran | STRATFOR

Dispatch: The Periphery's Role in Modernizing Russia's Core | STRATFOR

Analyst Marko Papic discusses the challenge facing Russia in attracting Western investments while consolidating its sphere of influence.

County Supervisor Who Supports Boycott Doesn't Know Arizona Borders Mexico

From the Wall Street Journal Morning Jolt, the idiot Democratic doesn't know Mexico and Arizona border each other.

Democratic county supervisor Peggy West of Milwaukee -- an ardent advocate for the City of Milwaukee to boycott Arizona over SB1070, argues that she would have to look twice at Arizona's new immigration enforcement law if Arizona shared a border with Mexico, but that their position is unreasonable because it is "a ways removed from the border."

Laura W., writing at Ace of Spades: "Somebody gave this young lady a passing grade, or two, or fifteen, that she did not earn. It's not bad enough that she doesn't know her geography; unfortunately, lots of Americans fail miserably in that regard. What makes it worse is that she was so confident about her ignorance (probably placing Arizona, I don't know, somewhere North of Texas) that she didn't even bother checking a [expletive] atlas before she opened her cakehole in front of the public and her obvious betters."

Allahpundit, writing at Hot Air: "Does this person really think that having a token force of National Guardsmen at the border somehow solves Arizona's problem, particularly when they're not authorized to stop illegals? And what's the business near the end about Jan Brewer having a direct pipeline to Obama? When she first asked to meet with him, he turned her down; then, when he did meet with her, he made a pledge of new resources that he evidently has no intention of keeping. Exit question: Did West read anything about this issue before pushing for a boycott?"

The eternal question: Is she as smart as a box of bricks or as dumb as a box of bricks?

Off-duty cops in Az. border city told to carry guns

Off-duty cops in Az. border city told to carry guns

Smugglers threatened two off-duty officers after they stopped a vehicle filled with 400 pounds of marijuana

PHOENIX — Police in the Arizona border city of Nogales have been told to carry guns when they aren't at work after smugglers threatened to retaliate against two off-duty officers who stopped a vehicle carrying 400 pounds of marijuana.

But we need amnesty, err comprehensive immigration reform...and we don’t need to secure the borders

Security Weekly : Criminal Intent and Militant Funding

By Scott Stewart

STRATFOR is currently putting the finishing touches on a detailed assessment of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the al Qaeda-inspired jihadist franchise in that country. As we got deeper into that project, one of the things we noticed was the group’s increasing reliance on criminal activity to fund its operations. In recent months, in addition to kidnappings for ransom and extortion of businessmen — which have been endemic in Iraq for many years — the ISI appears to have become increasingly involved in armed robbery directed against banks, currency exchanges, gold markets and jewelry shops.

This increase in criminal activity highlights how the ISI has fallen on hard times since its heyday in 2006-2007, when it was flush with cash from overseas donors and when its wealth led the apex leadership of al Qaeda in Pakistan to ask its Iraqi franchise for financial assistance. But when considered in a larger context, the ISI’s shift to criminal activity is certainly not surprising and, in fact, follows the pattern of many other ideologically motivated terrorist or insurgent groups that have been forced to resort to crime to support themselves.

The Cost of Doing Business

Whether we are talking about a small urban terrorist cell or a large-scale rural insurgency, it takes money to maintain a militant organization. It costs money to conduct even a rudimentary terrorist attack, and while there are a lot of variables in calculating the costs of a single attack, in order to simplify things, we’ll make a ballpark estimate of not more than $100 for an attack that involves a single operative detonating an improvised explosive device or using a firearm. (It certainly is possible to construct a lethal device for less, and many grassroots plots have cost far more, but we think $100 is a fair general estimate.) While that amount may seem quite modest by Western standards, it is important to remember that in the places where militant groups tend to thrive, like Somalia and Pakistan, the population is very poor. The typical Somali earns approximately $600 a year, and the typical Pakistani living in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas makes around $660. For many individuals living in such areas, the vehicle used in an attack deploying a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) is a luxury that they can never aspire to own for personal use, much less afford to buy only to destroy it in an attack. Indeed, even the $100 it may cost to conduct a basic terrorist attack is far more than they can afford.

To be sure, the expense of an individual terrorist attack can be marginal for a group like the ISI or the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). However, for such a group, the expenses required to operate are far more than just the amount required to conduct attacks — whether small roadside bombs or large VBIEDs. Such groups also need to establish and maintain the infrastructure required to operate a militant organization over a long period of time, not just during attacks but also between attacks. Setting up and operating such an infrastructure is far more costly than just paying for individual attacks.

In addition to the purchasing the materials required to conduct specific terrorist attacks, a militant organization also needs to pay wages to its fighters and provide food and lodging. Many also give stipends to the widows and families their fighters leave behind. In addition to the cost of personnel, the organization also needs to purchase safe-houses, modes of transportation (e.g., pickup trucks or motorcycles), communications equipment, weapons, munitions and facilities and equipment for training. If the militant organization hopes to use advanced weapons, like man-portable air defense systems, the costs can go even higher.

There are other costs involved in maintaining a large, professional militant group, such as travel, fraudulent identification documents (or legitimate documents obtained through fraud), payment for intelligence assets to monitor the activities of government forces, and even the direct bribery of security, border and other government officials. In some places, militant groups such as Hezbollah also pay for social services such as health care and education for the local population as a means of establishing and maintaining local support for the cause.

When added together, these various expenses amount to a substantial financial commitment, and operations are even more expensive in an environment where the local population is hostile to the militant organization and the government is persistently trying to cut off the group’s funding. In such an environment, the local people are less willing to provide support to the militants in the way of food, shelter and cash, and the militants are also forced to spend more money on operational security. Information about the government must also be purchased or coerced, and more “hush money” must be paid to keep people from telling the government about militant operations. In an environment where the local population is friendly, they will shelter militants and volunteer information about government forces and will not inform on militants to the government.


One way to offset the steep cost of operating a large militant organization is by having a state sponsor. Indeed, funding rebel or insurgent groups to cause problems for a rival is an age-old tool of statecraft, and one that was exercised frequently during the Cold War. During that period, the United States worked to counter communist governments around the globe, and the Soviet Union and its partners operated a broad global array of proxy militant groups. In terms of geopolitical struggles, funding proxy groups is far less expensive than engaging in direct warfare in terms of both money and battlefield losses. Using proxies also provides benefits in terms of deniability for both domestic and international purposes.

For the militant group, the addition of a state sponsor can provide an array of modern weaponry and a great deal of useful training. For example, the FIM-92 Stinger missiles that the United States gave to Afghan militants fighting Soviet forces greatly enhanced the militants’ ability to counter the Soviets’ use of air power. The training provided by the Soviet KGB and its allies, the Cuban DGI and the East German Stasi, revolutionized the use of improvised explosive devices in terrorist attacks. Members of the groups these intelligence services trained at camps in Libya, Lebanon and Yemen, such as the German Red Brigades, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), the Japanese Red Army and various Palestinian militant groups (among others), all became quite adept at using explosives in terrorist attacks.

The prevalence of Marxist terrorist groups during the Cold War led some observers to believe that the phenomenon of modern terrorism would die with the fall of the Soviet Union. Indeed, many militant groups, from urban Marxist organizations like the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in Peru to rural based insurgents like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), fell on hard financial times after the fall of the Soviet Union. While some of these groups withered away with their dwindling financial support (like the MRTA), others were more resourceful and found alternative ways to support their movement and continue their operations. The FARC, for example, was able to use its rural power in Colombia to offer protection to narcotics traffickers. In an ironic twist, elements of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a right-wing death squad set up to defend rich landowners against the FARC, have also gone on to play an important role in the Colombian Norte del Valle cartel and in various “bacrim” smuggling groups. Groups such as the PIRA and its splinters were able to fund themselves through robbery, extortion and “tiger kidnapping”.

In some places, the Marxist revolutionaries sought to keep the ideology of their cause separate from the criminal activities required to fund it following the loss of Soviet support. In the Philippines, for example, the New People’s Army formed what it termed “dirty job intelligence groups,” which were tasked with conducting kidnappings for ransom and robbing banks and armored cars. The groups also participated in a widespread campaign to shake down businesses for extortion payments, which it referred to as “revolutionary taxes.” In Central America, the Salvadoran Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) established a finance and logistics operation based out of Managua, Nicaragua, that conducted a string of kidnappings of wealthy industrialists in places like Mexico and Brazil. By targeting wealthy capitalists, the group sought to cast a Robin Hood-like light on this criminal activity. To further distance itself from the activity, the group used American and Canadian citizens to do much of its pre-operational surveillance and employed hired muscle from disbanded South American Marxist organizations to conduct the kidnappings and guard the hostages. The FMLN’s financial problems helped lead to the peace accords signed in 1992, and the FMLN has since become one of the main political parties in El Salvador. Its candidate, Mauricio Funes, was elected president of El Salvador in 2009.

Beyond the COMINTERN

The fall of the Soviet Union clearly did not end terrorism. Although Marxist militants funded themselves in Colombia, the Philippines and elsewhere through crime, Marxism was not the only flavor of terrorism on the planet. There are all sorts of motivations for terrorism as a militant tactic, from white supremacy to animal rights. But one of the most significant forces that arose in the 1980s as the Soviet Union was falling was militant Islamism. In addition to the ideals of the Iranian Revolution, which led to the creation of Hezbollah and other Iranian-sponsored groups, the Islamist fervor that was used to drum up support for the militants fighting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan eventually gave birth to al Qaeda and its jihadist spawn.

Although Hezbollah has always been funded by the governments of Iran and Syria, it has also become quite an entrepreneurial organization. Hezbollah has established a fundraising network that stretches across the globe and encompasses both legitimate businesses and criminal enterprises. In terms of its criminal operations, Hezbollah has a well-known presence in the tri-border region of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, where the U.S. government estimates it has earned tens of millions of dollars from selling electronic goods, counterfeit luxury items and pirated software, movies and music. It also has an even more profitable network in West Africa that deals in “blood diamonds” from places like Sierra Leone and the Republic of the Congo. Cells in Asia procure and ship much of the counterfeit material sold elsewhere; nodes in North America deal in smuggled cigarettes, baby formula and counterfeit designer goods, among other things. In the United States, Hezbollah also has been involved in smuggling pseudoephedrine and selling counterfeit Viagra, and it has played a significant role in the production and worldwide propagation of counterfeit currencies. The business empire of the Shiite organization also extends into the narcotics trade, and Hezbollah earns large percentages of the estimated $1 billion in drug money flowing each year out of Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.

On the jihadist side of militant Islamism, jihadist groups have been conducting criminal activity to fund their movement since the 1990s. The jihadist cell that conducted the March 2004 Madrid Train Bombings was self-funded by selling illegal drugs, and jihadists have been involved in a number of criminal schemes ranging from welfare fraud to interstate transportation of stolen property.

In addition, many wealthy Muslims in Saudi Arabia the Persian Gulf states and elsewhere saw the jihadist groups as a way to export their conservative Wahhabi/Salafi strain of Islam, and many considered their gifts to jihadist groups to be their way of satisfying the Muslim religious obligation to give to charity. The governments of Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Pakistan saw jihadism as a foreign policy tool, and in some cases the jihadists were also seen as a tool to be used against domestic rivals. Pakistan was one of the most active countries playing the jihadist card, and it used it to influence its regional neighbors by supporting the growth of the Taliban in Afghanistan as well as Kashmiri militant groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for use against its archrival, India.

After 2003, however, when the al Qaeda franchise in Saudi Arabia declared war on the Saudi government (and the oil industry that funds it), sentiment in that country began to change and the donations sent by wealthy Saudis to al Qaeda or al Qaeda-related charities began to decline markedly. By 2006, the al Qaeda core leadership — and the larger jihadist movement — was experiencing significant financial difficulties. Today, with Pakistan also experiencing a backlash from supporting jihadists who have turned against the state, and with the Sunni sheikhs in Iraq turning against the ISI there, funding and sanctuary are becoming increasingly difficult for jihadists to find.

In recent years, the United States and the international community have taken a number of steps to monitor the international transfer of money, track charitable donations and scrutinize charities. These measures have begun to have an effect — not just in the case of the jihadist groups but for all major militant organizations. These systems are not foolproof, and there are still gaps that can be exploited, but overall, the legislation, procedures and tools now in place make financing from abroad much more difficult than it was prior to September 2001.

The Need to Survive

And this brings us where we are today regarding terrorism and funding. While countries like Venezuela and Nicaragua play around with supporting the export of Marxism through Latin America, the funding for Marxist movements in the Western Hemisphere is far below what it was before the fall of the Soviet Union. Indeed, transnational drug cartels and their allied street gangs pose a far greater threat to the stability of countries in the region today.

Groups that cannot find state sponsorship, such as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in Nigeria, will be left to fund themselves through ransoms for kidnapped oil workers, selling stolen oil and from protection money. (It is worth noting, however, that MEND also has some powerful patrons inside Nigeria’s political structure.) And groups that still receive state funding, like Iranian proxies Hezbollah and Hamas as well as Shiite militant groups in Iraq and the Persian Gulf region, will continue to get that support. (There are frequent rumors that Iran is supporting jihadist groups in places like Iraq and Afghanistan as a way to cause pain to the United States.)

Overall, state sponsorship of jihadist groups has been declining since supporting countries realized they were being attacked by militant groups of their own creation. Some countries, like Syria and Pakistan, still keep their fingers in the jihadist pie, but as time progresses more countries are coming to see the jihadists as threats rather than useful tools. For the past few years, we have seen groups like al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb resort to narcotics smuggling and the kidnapping of foreigners to fund their operations and that trend will likely increase. For one thing, the jump from militant attacks to criminal activity is relatively easy to make. Criminal activity (whether it’s robbing a bank or extorting business owners for “taxes”) requires the same physical force — or at least the threat of physical force — that militant groups perfect over years of carrying out insurgent or terrorist attacks.

While such criminal activity does allow a militant group to survive, it comes with a number of risks. First is the risk that members of the organization could become overly enamored with the criminal activity and the money it brings and abandon the cause — and the austere life of an ideological fighter — to pursue a more lucrative criminal career. (In many cases, they will attempt to retain some ideological facade for recruitment or legitimacy purposes. On the other hand, some jihadist groups believe that criminal activities allow them to emulate the actions of the Prophet Mohammed, who raided the caravans of his enemies to fund his movement and allowed his men to take booty.) Criminal activity can also cause ideological splits between the more pragmatic members of a militant organization and those who believe that criminal behavior tarnishes the image of their cause. And criminal activity can turn the local population against the militants — especially the population being targeted for crimes — while providing law enforcement with opportunities to arrest militant operatives on charges that are in many cases easier to prove than conspiring to conduct terrorist attacks. Lastly, reliance on criminal activity for funding a militant group requires a serious commitment of resources — men and guns — that cannot be allocated to other activities when they are being used to commit crimes.

As efforts to combat terrorism continue, militant leaders will increasingly be forced to choose between abandoning their cause or possibly tarnishing its public image. When faced with such a choice, many militant leaders — like those of the ISI — will follow the examples of groups like the FARC and the PIRA and choose to pursue criminal means to continue their struggle.

This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR

This is Obama, pure and simple

This one picture puts B Hussein Obama in context, better than any newspaper article, magazine profile or book. Thanks to my friend Claude!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hey, whiskey for me, beer for my horse

Come on, the horse was thirsty!

Tampa policeman on horse rides through hookah bar

Police officers on horseback have become a familiar sight in Tampa's Ybor City, but
recently someone snapped a video clip of one officer walking the beat not around a local business but right through it.

TPD didn't seem to give a second thought to the officer hoofing it - right through Habibi's Hookah Bar and Cafe in Ybor City.

"They're a great way to deter crime because obviously they have a very strong presence," Tampa Police Spokesperson Laura McElroy said.

The department says the horse seen in the video was actually invited into the bar by the cafe's owner, and it's not the first time.

Hey, the horse heard the bar was officer friendly and wanted his free drink!

Whether He Likes It or Not, Obama Must Command - Michael Barone - National Review Online

The title puts it well. B Hussein Obama is a man-child, he was never ready to be in the center seat by knowledge or experience. Now he must show himself capable to command.

I have my doubts.

Whether He Likes It or Not, Obama Must Command - Michael Barone - National Review Online

Obama must set a course to produce victory in Afghanistan.

We didn’t need this. By “we,” I mean the large majority of citizens who want America to succeed in Afghanistan. By “this,” I mean the Rolling Stone article that quoted Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his aides saying uncomplimentary things about Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and other civilian officials.

...It surely must have been an excruciating decision for President Obama. He installed McChrystal in his post after removing his predecessor, and he largely agreed to his strategy last December after a three-month review — though he added a July 2011 deadline for the start of troop withdrawals.

Like most American presidents, and like all presidents during the last 50 years, Obama came to office with little preparation for being commander-in-chief....

...Unfortunately, there’s not much correlation between the skill set needed to win the Iowa caucuses and the Super Tuesday primaries and that needed to decide on military strategies and to select the appropriate commanders for different military operations.

Something about experience and knowledge...or at least having good people having around you to assist you. Good people. Joe "Assassination Insurance" Biden. Rham "Dead Fish" Emanuel.

Obama’s decision-making on Afghanistan so far could be characterized as splitting the difference. He added troops early on and opted for McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy while propitiating his party’s left with something in the nature of a deadline for withdrawal.

In other words, he didn't made a decision. Welcome to being in the center seat man-child.

....And it may be time for Obama to embrace a word he has been reluctant to utter: “victory.” His duty is to set a course that will produce success, to install the people who can achieve that goal, and to give them the backing they need.

We didn’t need this, and Barack Obama didn’t, either. But he wanted the job, and now he must command.

He wanted the job, he wanted to be president and be cheered and powerful. But he has shown himself unable to handle the requirements of the job. Hopefully he hasn't damaged the country too much.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

STRATFOR:The Flotilla Route from Iran

The Flotilla Route from Iran | STRATFOR

STRATFOR: U.S.: The Afghanistan Strategy After McChrystal

...Meanwhile, a U.S. program to farm out more than 70 percent of logistics to Afghan trucking companies appears to be funding both warlord militias independent of the Afghan security forces and the Taliban itself. As STRATFOR has discussed, this may be a valuable expedient allowing U.S. combat forces to be massed for other purposes, but it also risks undermining the very attempts at establishing good governance and civil authority that are central to the ultimate success of the U.S. exit strategy — not to mention running counter to the effort to starve the Taliban of at least some of its resources and bases of support....

U.S.: The Afghanistan Strategy After McChrystal | STRATFOR

STRATFOR: Above the Tearline: Intelligence Calculations

Above the Tearline: Intelligence Calculations

STRATFOR : Germany and Russia Move Closer

June 22, 2010

By George Friedman

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle will brief French and Polish officials on a joint proposal for Russian-European “cooperation on security,” according to a statement from Westerwelle’s spokesman on Monday. The proposal emerged out of talks between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev earlier in June and is based on a draft Russia drew up in 2008. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will be present at the meeting. Peschke said, “We want to further elaborate and discuss it within the triangle [i.e., France, Germany and Poland] in the presence of the Russian foreign minister.”

On the surface, the proposal developed by Merkel and Medvedev appears primarily structural. It raises security discussions about specific trouble spots to the ministerial level rather than the ambassadorial level, with a committee being formed consisting of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Russia’s foreign minister.

All of this seems rather mild until we consider three things. First, proposals for deepening the relationship between Russia and the European Union have been on the table for several years without much progress. Second, the Germans have taken this initiative at a time when German foreign policy is in a state of flux. And third, the decision to take this deal to France and Poland indicates that the Germans are extremely sensitive to the geopolitical issues involved, which are significant and complex.

Reconsidering Basic Strategy

The economic crisis in Europe has caused the Germans, among others, to reconsider their basic strategy. Ever since World War II, the Germans have pursued two national imperatives. The first was to maintain close relations with the French — along with the rest of Europe — to eliminate the threat of war. Germany had fought three wars with France since 1870, and its primary goal was not fighting another one. Its second goal was prosperity. Germany’s memory of the Great Depression plus its desire to avoid militarism made it obsessed with economic development and creating a society focused on prosperity. It saw the creation of an integrated economic structure in Europe as achieving both ends, tying Germany into an unbreakable relationship with France and at the same time creating a trading bloc that would ensure prosperity.

Events since the financial crisis of 2008 have shaken German confidence in the European Union as an instrument of prosperity, however. Until 2008, Europe had undergone an extraordinary period of prosperity, in which West Germany could simultaneously integrate with East Germany and maintain its long-term economic growth. The European Union appeared to be a miraculous machine that automatically generated prosperity and political stability alongside it.

After 2008, this perception changed, and the sense of insecurity accelerated with the current crisis in Greece and among the Mediterranean members of the European Union. The Germans found themselves underwriting what they regarded as Greek profligacy to protect the euro and the European economy. This not only generated significant opposition among the German public, it raised questions in the German government. The purpose of the European Union was to ensure German prosperity. If the future of Europe was Germany shoring up Europe — in other words, transferring wealth from Germany to Europe — then the rationale for European integration became problematic.

The Germans were certainly not prepared to abandon European integration, which had given Germany 65 years of peace. At the same time, the Germans were prepared to consider adjustments to the framework in which Europe was operating, particular from an economic standpoint. A Europe in which German prosperity is at risk from the budgeting practices of Greece needed adjustment.

The Pull of Russia

In looking at their real economic interests, the Germans were inevitably drawn to their relationship with Russia. Russia supplies Germany with nearly 40 percent of the natural gas Germany uses. Without Russian energy, Germany’s economy is in trouble. At the same time, Russia needs technology and expertise to develop its economy away from being simply an exporter of primary commodities. Moreover, the Germans already have thousands of enterprises that have invested in Russia. Finally, in the long run, Germany’s population is declining below the level needed to maintain its economy. It does not want to increase immigration into Germany because of fears of social instability. Russia’s population is also falling, but it still has surplus population relative to its economic needs and will continue to have one for quite a while. German investment in Russia allows Germany to get the labor it needs without resorting to immigration by moving production facilities east to Russia.

The Germans have been developing economic relations with Russia since before the Soviet collapse, but the Greek crisis forced them to reconsider their relationship with Russia. If the European Union was becoming a trap in which Germany was going to consistently subsidize the rest of Europe, and a self-contained economy is impossible, then another strategy would be needed. This consisted of two parts. The first was insisting on a restructuring of the European Union to protect Germany from the domestic policies of other countries. Second, if Europe was heading toward a long period of stagnation, then Germany, heavily dependent on exports and needing labor, needed to find an additional partner — if not a new one.

At the same time, a German-Russian alignment is a security issue as well as an economic issue. Between 1871 and 1941 there was a three-player game in continental Europe — France, Germany and Russia. The three shifted alliances with each other, with each shift increasing the chance of war. In 1871, Prussia was allied with Russia when it attacked France. In 1914, The French and Russians were allied against Germany. In 1940, Germany was allied with Russia when it attacked France. The three-player game played itself out in various ways with a constant outcome: war.

The last thing Berlin wants is to return to that dynamic. Instead, its hope is to integrate Russia into the European security system, or at least give it a sufficient stake in the European economic system that Russia does not seek to challenge the European security system. This immediately affects French relations with Russia. For Paris, partnership with Germany is the foundation of France’s security policy and economy. If Germany moves into a close security and economic relationship with Russia, France must calculate the effect this will have on France. There has never been a time when a tripartite alliance of France, Germany and Russia has worked because it has always left France as the junior partner. Therefore, it is vital for the Germans to present this not as a three-way relationship but as the inclusion of Russia into Europe, and to focus on security measures rather than economic measures. Nevertheless, the Germans have to be enormously careful in managing their
relationship with France.

Even more delicate is the question of Poland. Poland is caught between Russia and Germany. Its history has been that of division between these two countries or conquest by one. This is a burning issue in the Polish psyche. A closer relationship between Germany and Russia inevitably will generate primordial fears of disaster in Poland.

Therefore, Wednesday’s meeting with the so-called triangular group is essential. Both the French and the Poles, and the Poles with great intensity, must understand what is happening. The issue is partly the extent to which this affects German commitments to the European Union, and the other part — crucial to Poland —is what this does to Germany’s NATO commitments.

The NATO Angle

It is noteworthy the Russians emphasized that what is happening poses no threat to NATO. Russia is trying to calm not only Poland, but also the United States. The problem, however, is this: If Germany and Europe have a security relationship that requires prior consultation and cooperation, then Russia inevitably has a hand in NATO. If the Russians oppose a NATO action, Germany and other European states will be faced with a choice between Russia and NATO.

To put it more bluntly, if Germany enters into a cooperative security arrangement with Russia (forgetting the rest of Europe for the moment), then how does it handle its relationship with the United States when the Russians and Americans are at loggerheads in countries like Georgia? The Germans and Russians both view the United States as constantly and inconveniently pressuring them both to take risks in areas where they feel they have no interest. NATO may not be functional in any real sense, but U.S. pressure is ever-present. The Germans and Russians acting together would be in a better position to deflect this pressure than standing alone.

Intriguingly, part of the German-Russian talks relate to a specific security matter — the issue of Moldova and Transdniestria. Moldova is a region between Romania and Ukraine (which adjoins Russia and has re-entered the Russian sphere of influence) that at various times has been part of both. It became independent after the collapse of communism, but Moldova’s eastern region, Transdniestria, broke away from Moldova under Russian sponsorship. Following a change in government in 2009, Moldova sees itself as pro-Western while Transdniestria is pro-Russian. The Russians have supported Transdniestria’s status as a breakaway area (and have troops stationed there), while Moldova has insisted on its return.

The memorandum between Merkel and Medvedev specifically pointed to the impact a joint security relationship might have on this dispute. The kind of solution that may be considered is unclear, but if the issue goes forward, the outcome will give the first indication of what a German-Russian security relationship will look like. The Poles will be particularly interested, as any effort in Moldova will automatically impact both Romania and Ukraine — two states key to determining Russian strength in the region. Whatever way the solution tilts will define the power relationship among the three.

It should be remembered that the Germans are proposing a Russian security relationship with Europe, not a Russian security relationship with Germany alone. At the same time, it should be remembered that it is the Germans taking the initiative to open the talks by unilaterally negotiating with the Russians and taking their agreements to other European countries. It is also important to note that they have not taken this to all the European countries but to France and Poland first — with French President Nicolas Sarkozy voicing his initial approval on June 19 — and equally important, that they have not publicly brought it to the United States. Nor is it clear what the Germans might do if the French and Poles reject the relationship, which is not inconceivable.

The Germans do not want to lose the European concept. At the same time, they are trying to redefine it more to their advantage. From the German point of view, bringing Russia into the relationship would help achieve this. But the Germans still have to explain what their relationship is with the rest of Europe, particularly their financial obligation to troubled economies in the eurozone. They also have to define their relationship to NATO, and more important, to the United States.

Like any country, Germany can have many things, but it can’t have everything. The idea that it will meld the European Union, NATO and Russia into one system of relationships without alienating at least some of their partners — some intensely — is naive. The Germans are not naive. They know that the Poles will be terrified and the French uneasy. The southern Europeans will feel increasingly abandoned as Germany focuses on the North European Plain. And the United States, watching Germany and Russia draw closer, will be seeing an alliance of enormous weight developing that might threaten its global interests.

With this proposal, the Germans are looking to change the game significantly. They are moving slowly and with plenty of room for retreat, but they are moving. It will be interesting to hear what the Poles and French say on Wednesday. Their public support should not be taken for anything more than not wanting to alienate the Germans or Russians until they have talked to the Americans. It will also be interesting to see what the Obama administration has to say about this.

This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR

What's going on in the World Today 100623


U.S.: Predator Drones To Monitor Texas-Mexico Border

June 23, 2010

The United States intends to deploy two Predator drones along the Texas-Mexico border, U.S. Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano said June 23, AFP reported. The deployment is part of a new effort to reduce illegal immigration and organized crime. Currently, four drones patrol the border with Mexico in Arizona, and one patrols the U.S.-Canadian border in North Dakota. The Predators in Texas will patrol the border and nearby areas in the Gulf of Mexico.


Germany: Police Raid Homes, Cafe In Fundraising Case

June 23, 2010

German police moved in on homes and a cafe in Hamburg, Hanover and Frankfurt the week of June 21 as part of an inquiry into alleged fundraisers for militant group the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, prosecutors said June 23, DPA reported. One man is believed to have had weapons training at a camp along the Afghan-Pakistani border; others were reportedly involved in handling money transactions.


Russia: Black Sea Fleet Reinforced By 2020

June 23, 2010

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet will be reinforced with 15 new combat ships and diesel-electric submarines by 2020, the commander of the Russian navy Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky announced, RIA Novosti reported June 23. The Russian navy command is considering dispatching two Baltic Fleet frigates to the Black Sea Fleet. The possible transfer of the Neustrashimy and Yaroslav Mudry frigates to the Black Sea naval base is connected with combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden, the admiral said, which is much closer to Sevastopol than Baltiisk. The decision has not yet been made, he said.


Iran: Supreme Leader Calls For Unity

June 23, 2010

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for unity among Iran’s citizens while addressing student in the Basij and faculty members from various universities on June 23, Iranian radio reported. The address came after Basij students held a protest June 22 against the decision made by Iranian parliament members which favored the endowment of Azad University property to the public. Khamenei said any act that leads to division, even with honest intentions, would be harmful to Iran and the Islamic system.

Iran: 20 Percent Uranium Produced

June 23, 2010

Iran produced a 17 kg stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium and can produce up to 5 kg of the fuel per month, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi announced, ISNA reported June 23. The job continues at an appropriate pace so that the fuel plate plant is equipped, he said, stating that it is Iran’s legal right. Iran is also enriching uranium by 3.5 percent and building the Arak heavy water reactor, he said, adding that testing is completed on the third generation of centrifuges and construction of a fourth generation is planned in Esfahan.




June 23, 2010

Israeli forces on the morning of June 23, local time, started to build and fortify a site on a hill overlooking the towns of Kfar Kila and Fatima Gates near the border and Israeli farmlands in Misgav Am settlement, a Lebanese security source said, Petra reported.

Israel: IDF Draws Up New Gaza War Doctrine

June 23, 2010

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) drew up plans to evacuate entire Palestinian villages and refugee camps from areas of conflict in the event of an Israeli incursion, The Jerusalem Post reported June 23. Ahead of an invasion of the Jabalya refugee camp in a large-scale operation, for example, IDF would give prior notification to residents and designate an amount of time they would be given to leave. IDF would also enter potential conflict zones more slowly to permit residents to evacuate the area. Current assessments in the military are that Hamas is not interested in instigating a new conflict with Israel.

Turkey: Israeli Decision To Ease Gaza Blockade 'Not Enough'

June 22, 2010

A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman on June 22 called the Israeli decision to ease the Gaza blockade a “positive step but not enough,” Anatolia news agency reported. Burak Ozugergin said the blockade threatened peace and stability in the region and should be lifted entirely. Turkey will continue to monitor developments on the blockade and will work toward normalizing living conditions in the Gaza Strip, Ozugergin added.

Israel: Turkish Military To Test Heron Drones

June 22, 2010

A Turkish military delegation arrived in Tel Aviv to conclude test-runs in the delivery of four Israeli-made drones, the remaining lot in a 10-UAV deal between Turkey and Israel, Anatolia news reported June 22. The Turkish delegation will stay in Tel Aviv for nearly two-weeks to test the Heron UAVs, the electronic equipment and spare parts.

Sweden: Dock Workers Block Israeli Cargo In Protest

June 23, 2010

The Swedish Dock Workers Union on June 23 established a weeklong blockade of cargo to and from Israel in protest of the Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in late May, AFP reported, citing a union representative. The dock workers’ protest was due to occur in all unionized Swedish ports, and ends at midnight local time on June 29.




Mexico: Inmates Riot In San Luis Potosi Prison

June 22, 2010

Inmates believed to be linked to Mexican drug-trafficking cartels Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel rioted June 22 at La Pila prison in San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosi state, setting fire to a dormitory area, Proceso reported. Unconfirmed reports said one person was killed and that the head of the prison’s guards had been severely injured.

Mexico: Camps Raided, Marijuana Seized

June 23, 2010

Mexican security forces destroyed eight camps belonging to suspected drug traffickers and seized approximately 2 tons of marijuana in the municipality of Santiago Papasquiaro, Durango state, El Universal reported June 23, citing a statement from the state attorney general’s office. The statement did not specify when the operation took place

Mexico: 3 Dead, 1 Ton Of Marijuana Seized

June 23, 2010

Three people were killed, five injured and 17 others were arrested after an anonymous tip led the Mexican military to raid a house in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state, in the early morning hours of June 23, local time, El Universal reported. Upon arriving at the location, the soldiers were fired upon by occupants of the house. After the situation was brought under control, soldiers discovered the house was being used as a marijuana stash house and seized more than 1 ton of the drug.

Brazil: Iran Must Decide On Nuclear Fuel Deal

June 23, 2010

Iran appears to be willing to restart discussions on a nuclear fuel swap proposal, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said June 23, Reuters reported. Amorim said the positive reaction by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s suggestion that talks continue indicated that Tehran was in agreement. Iran is responsible for addressing Western concerns about the deal, Amorim said, adding that Brazil would participate in mediation efforts if Iran and the Vienna Group supported it.


Kyrgyzstan: Will Supply Fuel To U.S. Air Base Directly

June 22, 2010

The interim Kyrgyz government announced on June 22 plans to form a state-owned company that will provide the U.S. air base at Manas with fuel, AP reported. Interim Kyrgyz leader Roza Otunbayeva signed a decree ordering that the company be formed within 10 days, replacing the private intermediary firms created under the former regime.

Kyrgyzstan: OSCE Discusses Sending International Police

June 23, 2010

An Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) official said June 23 that an international police force may be necessary to restore stability in Kyrgyzstan’s south, Reuters reported. The OSCE and EU foreign ministers are discussing using international police to provide crisis management support in Kyrgyzstan, a special envoy for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly said. The EU has no immediate plans to dispatch police. Collective Security Treaty Organization Secretary-General Nikolai Bordyuzha will visit Kyrgyzstan on June 25.


U.S.: The Afghanistan Strategy After McChrystal | STRATFOR">A great quote from this article:
Meanwhile, a U.S. program to farm out more than 70 percent of logistics to Afghan trucking companies appears to be funding both warlord militias independent of the Afghan security forces and the Taliban itself. As STRATFOR has discussed, this may be a valuable expedient allowing U.S. combat forces to be massed for other purposes, but it also risks undermining the very attempts at establishing good governance and civil authority that are central to the ultimate success of the U.S. exit strategy — not to mention running counter to the effort to starve the Taliban of at least some of its resources and bases of support.

The Flotilla Route from Iran | STRATFOR

Dispatch: Medvedev's U.S. Visit | STRATFOR

Above the Tearline: Intelligence Calculations | STRATFOR

I thought ALGORE was asexual

The thought of sex and ALGORE....excuse me while I take a shot of bourbon!

Prosecutor: Al Gore was focus of sex crime inquiry in Portland

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office confirmed today that a woman who alleged unwanted sexual contact by Al Gore reported it to police in 2006, and the prosecutor’s office was briefed by the Portland Police Bureau in late 2006 and January 2007....

At the time, according to a Portland police 2007 report, the woman reported the encounter several weeks after the incident. Portland Detective Cheryl Waddell said the woman cancelled interview appointments three times, and declined police investigation, saying a civil case would be pursued.

Portland police Sgt. Rich Austria said the woman's lawyer had contacted the U.S. Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Oregon State Police "in an attempt to have a larger law enforcement agency investigate this case. All above agencies declined and referred him to the agency of jurisdiction where the alleged crime occurred,'' Waddell wrote in her report.

Waddell was assigned the case Dec. 19, 2006. By 2007, the woman or her attorney told police the case was going to be handled civilly...

Randall Vogt, a Pearl District attorney specialized in sexual misconduct cases, said he represented the masseuse in 2006 after she claimed Vice-President Al Gore sexually attacked her during a massage.

He declined to identify the woman and said they had not been in touch since her original claim was investigated by Portland Police.

"That file was closed and put to bed and forgotten," Vogt said. "She and I parted on friendly terms as best I can recall."

Vogt said he was not aware that his former client reactivated her claims against Gore last year, prompting police to reinvestigate the allegations....

In January 2009, the woman returned to Portland police and said she wanted to give a statement. Detective Molly Daul and a victim advocate from the sexual assault unit met with the woman. She reported that she was repeatedly subjected to unwanted sexual touching while in his presence....

After interviewing the woman, the Police Bureau provided additional counseling services through its victim advocate program. The case was not investigated further "because detectives concluded there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations.

In June 2010, the woman called police, asked for a copy of her statement, and asked if she could edit it. She also advised the bureau she was going to take the case to the media...

Now that I've had a drink I have a question. Where are the women's groups screaming from their hind legs about sexual harassment? After all, women never lie about this, that's what they said about Anita Hill. Anyone? Anyone?