Military and defense

US Space Dominance

U.S. ‘negation’ policy in space raises concerns abroad:

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — While much of the talk around the Pentagon these days focuses on “transformation” of the military, some of the United States’ closest allies worry about another buzzword being used in subtler ways at the National Reconnaissance Office: “negation.”

    The nation’s largest intelligence agency by budget and in control of all U.S. spy satellites, NRO is talking openly with the U.S. Air Force Space Command about actively denying the use of space for intelligence purposes to any other nation at any time—not just adversaries, but even longtime allies, according to NRO director Peter Teets.

    At the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs in early April, Teets proposed that U.S. resources from military, civilian and commercial satellites be combined to provide “persistence in total situational awareness, for the benefit of this nation’s war fighters.” If allies don’t like the new paradigm of space dominance, said Air Force secretary James Roche, they’ll just have to learn to accept it. The allies, he told the symposium, will have “no veto power.”

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Death Camps

The Courier Mail: US plans death camp:

    THE US has floated plans to turn Guantanamo Bay into a death camp, with its own death row and execution chamber. Prisoners would be tried, convicted and executed without leaving its boundaries, without a jury and without right of appeal, The Mail on Sunday newspaper reported yesterday. The plans were revealed by Major-General Geoffrey Miller, who is in charge of 680 suspects from 43 countries, including two Australians. The suspects have been held at Camp Delta on Cuba without charge for 18 months. General Miller said building a death row was one plan. Another was to have a permanent jail, with possibly an execution chamber.

U.S. troops under fire again

U.S. troops under fire again in Iraq, two killed:

    The casualties from the attack with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms in Falluja were the heaviest suffered by U.S. forces in a single incident since President George W. Bush declared major combat over on May 1.

    It brought to four the number of fatalities in 24 hours from ”hostile actions.” …

    It was the second attack on U.S. troops reported from Falluja in recent days. Last Wednesday, U.S. soldiers killed two people in retaliatory fire.

    Some Falluja residents interviewed by Reuters in recent weeks have expressed nostalgia for the days of Saddam. In two incidents late last month, U.S. forces opened fire on angry crowds, killing at least 15 people, according to witnesses.

    Two American soldiers were killed and four wounded in two ambushes on Monday, one in Baghdad and one north of the capital.

The New Cold War

The New Cold War: India and China are picking up where the US and Soviet Union left off:

    China has openly declared its desire to colonize the moon. The world’s most populous nation is unlikely to build lunar settlements, but that’s not the point. China’s motive lies not in constructing a lunar Hong Kong, but rather in luring India into a loud public competition. Later this year, if all goes as planned, China will become the third country to send a citizen into space. An orbiting taikonaut will be even more impressive if American shuttles are stuck in their hangars while the misnamed International Space Station limps along with a skeleton crew.

    As Russia once did, China has a strong technical advantage. It already owns a chunk of the commercial space-launch business. But India has a decent shot at victory as well. It doesn’t have China’s manufacturing know-how, but it’s rapidly becoming the world’s software back office.

    Who will become top dog in South Asia? That’s an open question, and there aren’t many good ways to answer short of a useless massacre. A space race offers a good solution. It’s a symbolic tournament that tests competing political and economic systems to their limit.

    A decade after the end of the Cold War, good old-fashioned space programs still matter. Not for exploration’s sake, but to settle new cold wars. If you doubt it, imagine this scenario: It’s 2029, and a lunar mission lands at Tranquillity Base. A crew of heroic young Indians – or Chinese – quietly folds and puts away America’s 60-year-old flag. If the world saw that on television, wouldn’t the gesture be worth tens of billions of rupees or yuan? Of course it would.

Squashing lies

Iraq – Did Portugal have all the facts?:

    The Portugal News has received a full transcript of a report by a former CIA senior political analyst that states that Iran was responsible for the mass murder of 5,000 Kurds by chemicals at the Iraqi township of Halabja in 1988.

    The Halabja massacre was one of the pretexts put forward by the US Government for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Some political commentators, including Matthew Norman of the UK Guardian newspaper, are saying that if the report had been made public before the build up to the present conflict in Iraq, Portugal and Spain might well have had second thoughts about supporting the US and British invasion.

    The author of the report, Mr. C. Pelletiere, who was responsible for investigating the incident on behalf of the US Government, states that the gassing took place during a battle between Iraqi and Iranian forces. Immediately after the battle the United States Defence Intelligence Agency produced a classified report, which clearly illustrated that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds.

    A team of investigators, under the direction of Pelletierre, discovered that the condition of the Kurds’ bodies indicated they had been killed by a cyanide-based gas, which the Iranians had been known to use. At that time the Iraqis were using mustard gas and there is no record that they possessed the cyanide based blood agent gas.

    Pelletiere, who worked as a CIA agent during the Iraq – Iran war and was also a professor at the US Army War College from 1988 to 2000, was privy to much of the classified material that flowed through Washington regarding the Persian Gulf. He headed a 1991 Army investigation into how the Iraqis would fight a war against the US.

    Part of his report on the Halabja massacre was published by the New York Times last January but was ignored by other major newspapers and TV stations.

    But Pelletiere’s report is not the only example of political spin doctoring concerning the drumming up of support for a war against Iraq. A claim by the British Government that it was in possession of documents showing that Iraq had attempted to buy 500 tons of uranium from Africa has been shown to be false. Copies of the documents were handed to General Mohamed ElBaradei, Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In a presentation to the United Nations Security Council ElBaradei has proved that the documents were forgeries. His testimony was backed up by the United Nations’ weapons inspectors. Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, has called for an investigation into what he describes as a campaign to deceive the public.

Still Another WMD False Alarm: ‘Mobile Bio-Labs’ Test Negative

Still no weapons of mass destruction. They lie, they lie.

    Tests rule out suspect bio-labs

    The 11 cargo containers were filled with new laboratory equipment apparently intended to make conventional weapons, said team leader Chief Warrant Officer 2 Monte Gonzalez.

    “Based on what we’ve seen, the containers are full of millions of dollars worth of high-tech equipment,” he said. “It possibly has a dual use. But it does not appear to be weapons of mass destruction.”

U.S. also denies Iraqi oil

  • U.S. also denies Iraqi oil to Lebanon: Oil as a tool of policy. It starts.
  • US starts military-build along Iraq’s border with Syria
  • U.S. Troops Seize Iraqi Trophies for Fun and Profit

  • Iraq, iraq, iraq

    Some interesting things for today, this from Al Jazeera:

      Republican Guard commander cut deal with US forces

      The mystery of what happened to the Iraqi Republican Guard defending Baghdad appears to have been solved if a report in today’s Le Monde is to be believed.

      The French daily reports that Maher Sufyan, Commander of the Republican Guard reached an agreement with American forces in which he ordered his forces to surrender in exchange for his transfer via an American Apache helicopter to an undisclosed safe haven.

      Quoting anonymous sources, Le Monde’s correspondent in Baghdad said that Sufyan ordered all Republican Guard forces to lay down their arms and go home. Shortly thereafter an Apache helicopter escorted Sufyan from the Al Rashid camp, east of Baghdad, to an unknown location.

      Maher Sufyan is not included on the infamous “deck of cards” created by US defence officials to highlight the most wanted individuals from the Saddam Hussein government. Iraq’s popular Information Minister, Mohammed Saeed Al Sahaf, Naji Sabri, Iraq’s Foreign Minister and Oumid Medhat Mubarak, the minister of health are also not included on the list.

    The US is not publicizing this for obvious reasons as it shows the Machiavellian politiking at work.

    Understanding the ‘evildoer’

    From the Wash. Post via Cryptome, Likely Suicide Bombers Include Profiles You’d Never Suspect by Sharon Begley:

      If individuals are capable of terrible things under the right circumstances, that suggests “it is not possible to ‘profile’ suicide terrorists: They are just like us,” says Prof. Atran.

      Surely, not entirely. A crucial distinction may be that to a terrorist, his cell is everything: kin, friends, neighbors, teachers. Psychological manipulation causes recruits to view the group as a fictive family for whom they are as willing to die as a mother for her child. Such manipulation, says Prof. Atran, “can trump individual personality and psychology to produce apparently extreme behaviors in ordinary people.”

      Terrorists promote small-group cohesion much as the military does. Says Maj. Gen. Stewart, “If you ask a soldier why he is willing to fight and die, he’ll tell you it’s for his buddies.”

      So with terrorists. Some may be lured by the promise of riches to their survivors, or by the feeling that life offers them nothing else but, perhaps, a moment of glory. “Terrorists kill for the same reasons that groups have killed for centuries,” says Prof. McCauley: “For cause and for comrades. We all know we are going to die. Every normal person believes in something more important than life.”

      Suicide terrorism is as old as the Zealots, who 2,000 years ago mounted suicide attacks in Roman-occupied Judea, and as new as human bombs in the West Bank. It may reflect a deep-rooted survival mechanism that allows us to act “in otherwise paralyzing circumstances,” suggests Prof. Atran in the journal Science. As researchers probe the genesis of suicide terrorists, it’s clear that it will be some time before we disprove Dostoevsky’s sad observation: “While nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer, nothing is more difficult than to understand him.”

  • Genesis of Suicide Terrorism by Scott Atran

  • No weapons of mass destruction found….still

    Top Iraqi Scientist Surrenders To U.S.: A Valuable Source On Weapons Program:

      “He would know Iraq’s chemical weapons program, since he lived with it,” said Hans Blix, the chief U.N. inspector, in a telephone interview yesterday. As late as March 19, the day before the war against Iraq started, Blix said, he received a letter from Saadi saying Iraq had destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons.

      “I was telling the truth, always telling the truth, never told anything but the truth, and time will bear me out, you will see,” Saadi told ZDF. “There will be no difference after this war.”

      Three days after the Iraqi government collapsed and after more than three weeks of war, U.S. military and intelligence forces have yet to report any discoveries of banned weapons or weapons systems.