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Some Perspective on PRISM and Other Spooky Stuff

As many of my close friends know, I have more than a passing acquaintance with the intelligence world. Note that I did not say, the “intelligent” world; I am currently in academia where, as Arthur C. Clark wrote, those in academia too often have had their education far surpass their intellect.  I’m talking about “intelligence” in the sense of one team trying to gain an advantage over an opposite team by learning the plans of the other team and/or when possible disrupting those plans one way or another.

On a geopolitical front, ALL of the teams, large and small, have fielded players in this global and sometimes ugly game because all have a vested interest in sustaining their futures and not being overrun by a surprise action on the part of some other team that would dearly like to see you and your homies wiped off of the face of the earth.

THe current and on-going flap over the espionage and counter-intelligence resulting from those well meaning but useful (to the other teams) idiots Manning and Snowden has roused many who were too busy or too dense to be aware of activities long ago publicized, into a state of righteous indignation even if that is based on nearly terminal ignorance of the geopolitical world.  I’ve shied away from posting about it because it would be too easy to counter that I would simply be self-serving in doing so or too biased to do it more or less objectively.  But those of you who have read this blog for any length of time know that I very much like the private intel fromn groups like STRATFOR and LIGNET, but most especially the former.

What follows, republished by permission from STRATFOR, is a report by their founder, George Friedman, giving some background and, in the end, asking the important questions we need to disxuss as a nation vis-a-vis such activities.  I think it gives the clearest context for the issue I’ve read so here it is.

——— ESSAY ON THE NSA and PRISM by George Friedman ———–

Keeping the NSA in Perspective

In June 1942, the bulk of the Japanese fleet sailed to seize the Island of Midway. Had Midway fallen, Pearl Harbor would have been at risk and U.S. submarines, unable to refuel at Midway, would have been much less effective. Most of all, the Japanese wanted to surprise the Americans and draw them into a naval battle they couldn’t win.

The Japanese fleet was vast. The Americans had two carriers intact in addition to one that was badly damaged. The United States had only one advantage: It had broken Japan’s naval code and thus knew a great deal of the country’s battle plan. In large part because of this cryptologic advantage, a handful of American ships devastated the Japanese fleet and changed the balance of power in the Pacific permanently.

This — and the advantage given to the allies by penetrating German codes — taught the Americans about the centrality of communications code breaking. It is reasonable to argue that World War II would have ended much less satisfactorily for the United States had its military not broken German and Japanese codes. Where the Americans had previously been guided to a great extent by Henry Stimson’s famous principle that “gentlemen do not read each other’s mail,” by the end of World War II they were obsessed with stealing and reading all relevant communications.

The National Security Agency evolved out of various post-war organizations charged with this task. In 1951, all of these disparate efforts were organized under the NSA to capture and decrypt communications of other governments around the world — particularly those of the Soviet Union, which was ruled by Josef Stalin, and of China, which the United States was fighting in 1951. How far the NSA could go in pursuing this was governed only by the extent to which such communications were electronic and the extent to which the NSA could intercept and decrypt them.

The amount of communications other countries sent electronically surged after World War II yet represented only a fraction of their communications. Resources were limited, and given that the primary threat to the United States was posed by nation-states, the NSA focused on state communications. But the principle on which the NSA was founded has remained, and as the world has come to rely more heavily on electronic and digital communication, the scope of the NSA’s commission has expanded.

What drove all of this was Pearl Harbor. The United States knew that the Japanese were going to attack. They did not know where or when. The result was disaster. All American strategic thinking during the Cold War was built around Pearl Harbor — the deep fear that the Soviets would launch a first strike that the United States did not know about. The fear of an unforeseen nuclear attack gave the NSA leave to be as aggressive as possible in penetrating not only Soviet codes but also the codes of other nations. You don’t know what you don’t know, and given the stakes, the United States became obsessed with knowing everything it possibly could.

In order to collect data about nuclear attacks, you must also collect vast amounts of data that have nothing to do with nuclear attacks. The Cold War with the Soviet Union had to do with more than just nuclear exchanges, and the information on what the Soviets were doing — what governments they had penetrated, who was working for them — was a global issue. But you couldn’t judge what was important and what was unimportant until after you read it. Thus the mechanics of assuaging fears about a “nuclear Pearl Harbor” rapidly devolved into a global collection system, whereby vast amounts of information were collected regardless of their pertinence to the Cold War.

There was nothing that was not potentially important, and a highly focused collection strategy could miss vital things. So the focus grew, the technology advanced and the penetration of private communications logically followed. This was not confined to the United States. The Soviet Union, China, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, India and any country with foreign policy interests spent a great deal on collecting electronic information. Much of what was collected on all sides was not read because far more was collected than could possibly be absorbed by the staff. Still, it was collected. It became a vast intrusion mitigated only by inherent inefficiency or the strength of the target’s encryption.

Justified Fear

The Pearl Harbor dread declined with the end of the Cold War — until Sept. 11, 2001. In order to understand 9/11’s impact, a clear memory of our own fears must be recalled. As individuals, Americans were stunned by 9/11 not only because of its size and daring but also because it was unexpected. Terrorist attacks were not uncommon, but this one raised another question: What comes next? Unlike Timothy McVeigh, it appeared that al Qaeda was capable of other, perhaps greater acts of terrorism. Fear gripped the land. It was a justified fear, and while it resonated across the world, it struck the United States particularly hard.

Part of the fear was that U.S. intelligence had failed again to predict the attack.  The public did not know what would come next, nor did it believe that U.S. intelligence had any idea. A federal commission on 9/11 was created to study the defense failure. It charged that the president had ignored warnings. The focus in those days was on intelligence failure. The CIA admitted it lacked the human sources inside al Qaeda. By default the only way to track al Qaeda was via their communications. It was to be the NSA’s job.

As we have written, al Qaeda was a global, sparse and dispersed network. It appeared to be tied together by burying itself in a vast new communications network: the Internet. At one point, al Qaeda had communicated by embedding messages in pictures transmitted via the Internet. They appeared to be using free and anonymous Hotmail accounts. To find Japanese communications, you looked in the electronic ether. To find al Qaeda’s message, you looked on the Internet.

But with a global, sparse and dispersed network you are looking for at most a few hundred men in the midst of billions of people, and a few dozen messages among hundreds of billions. And given the architecture of the Internet, the messages did not have to originate where the sender was located or be read where the reader was located. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. The needle can be found only if you are willing to sift the entire haystack. That led to PRISM and other NSA programs.

The mission was to stop any further al Qaeda attacks. The means was to break into their communications and read their plans and orders. To find their plans and orders, it was necessary to examine all communications. The anonymity of the Internet and the uncertainties built into its system meant that any message could be one of a tiny handful of messages. Nothing could be ruled out. Everything was suspect. This was reality, not paranoia.

It also meant that the NSA could not exclude the communications of American citizens because some al Qaeda members were citizens. This was an attack on the civil rights of Americans, but it was not an unprecedented attack. During World War II, the United States imposed postal censorship on military personnel, and the FBI intercepted selected letters sent in the United States and from overseas. The government created a system of voluntary media censorship that was less than voluntary in many ways. Most famously, the United States abrogated the civil rights of citizens of Japanese origin by seizing property and transporting them to other locations. Members of pro-German organizations were harassed and arrested even prior to Pearl Harbor. Decades earlier, Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War, effectively allowing the arrest and isolation of citizens without due process.

There are two major differences between the war on terror and the aforementioned wars. First, there was a declaration of war in World War II. Second, there is a provision in the Constitution that allows the president to suspend habeas corpus in the event of a rebellion. The declaration of war imbues the president with certain powers as commander in chief — as does rebellion. Neither of these conditions was put in place to justify NSA programs such as PRISM.

Moreover, partly because of the constitutional basis of the actions and partly because of the nature of the conflicts, World War II and the Civil War had a clear end, a point at which civil rights had to be restored or a process had to be created for their restoration. No such terminal point exists for the war on terror. As was witnessed at the Boston Marathon — and in many instances over the past several centuries — the ease with which improvised explosive devices can be assembled makes it possible for simple terrorist acts to be carried out cheaply and effectively. Some plots might be detectable by intercepting all communications, but obviously the Boston Marathon attack could not be predicted.

The problem with the war on terror is that it has no criteria of success that is potentially obtainable. It defines no level of terrorism that is tolerable but has as its goal the elimination of all terrorism, not just from Islamic sources but from all sources. That is simply never going to happen and therefore, PRISM and its attendant programs will never end. These intrusions, unlike all prior ones, have set a condition for success that is unattainable, and therefore the suspension of civil rights is permanent. Without a constitutional amendment, formal declaration of war or declaration of a state of emergency, the executive branch has overridden fundamental limits on its powers and protections for citizens.

Since World War II, the constitutional requirements for waging war have fallen by the wayside. President Harry S. Truman used a U.N resolution to justify the Korean War. President Lyndon Johnson justified an extended large-scale war with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, equating it to a declaration of war. The conceptual chaos of the war on terror left out any declaration, and it also included North Korea in the axis of evil the United States was fighting against. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden is charged with aiding an enemy that has never been legally designated. Anyone who might contemplate terrorism is therefore an enemy. The enemy in this case was clear. It was the organization of al Qaeda but since that was not a rigid nation but an evolving group, the definition spread well beyond them to include any person contemplating an infinite number of actions. After all, how do you define terrorism, and how do you distinguish it from crime?

Three thousand people died in the 9/11 attacks, and we know that al Qaeda wished to kill more because it has said that it intended to do so. Al Qaeda and other jihadist movements — and indeed those unaffiliated with Islamic movements — pose threats. Some of their members are American citizens, others are citizens of foreign nations. Preventing these attacks, rather than prosecuting in the aftermath, is important. I do not know enough about PRISM to even try to guess how useful it is.

At the same time, the threat that PRISM is fighting must be kept in perspective. Some terrorist threats are dangerous, but you simply cannot stop every nut who wants to pop off a pipe bomb for a political cause. So the critical question is whether the danger posed by terrorism is sufficient to justify indifference to the spirit of the Constitution, despite the current state of the law. If it is, then formally declare war or declare a state of emergency. The danger of PRISM and other programs is that the decision to build it was not made after the Congress and the president were required to make a clear finding on war and peace. That was the point where they undermined the Constitution, and the American public is responsible for allowing them to do so.

Defensible Origins, Dangerous Futures

The emergence of programs such as PRISM was not the result of despots seeking to control the world. It had a much more clear, logical and defensible origin in our experiences of war and in legitimate fears of real dangers. The NSA was charged with stopping terrorism, and it devised a plan that was not nearly as secret as some claim. Obviously it was not as effective as hoped, or the Boston Marathon attack wouldn’t have happened. If the program was meant to suppress dissent it has certainly failed, as the polls and the media of the past weeks show.

The revelations about PRISM are far from new or interesting in themselves. The NSA was created with a charter to do these things, and given the state of technology it was inevitable that the NSA would be capturing communications around the world. Many leaks prior to Snowden’s showed that the NSA was doing this. It would have been more newsworthy if the leak revealed the NSA had not been capturing all communications. But this does give us an opportunity to consider what has happened and to consider whether it is tolerable.

The threat posed by PRISM and other programs is not what has been done with them but rather what could happen if they are permitted to survive. But this is not simply about the United States ending this program. The United States certainly is not the only country with such a program. But a reasonable start is for the country that claims to be most dedicated to its Constitution to adhere to it meticulously above and beyond the narrowest interpretation. This is not a path without danger. As Benjamin Franklin said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

———-End of STRATFOR Essay—————

It is so easy to see the world as simply filled with others who all just want what we want and if we would just play nice in the sandbox, so would they.  Jimmy Carter believed that and it led to one of his most important quotes when that nice belief blew up in his face, “I can’t believe the lied to me!”

But we are in a world in which some very capable and scary folks want us dead and removed from the planet.  THey do not want out good or standard of living which they see as decadent at best and blasphemous at worst.  THey just want us GONE so they can establish their theological world empire and see anyone opposing that goal as Godless sinners to be eradicated.  The problem is they are transnational and not constrained to a political state with which we could easily deal.  Their ideology has cost us lots of lives and damage.  Their diffuse organization means a decisive frontal assault is not only unlikely it is, for all practical purposes, impossible to define much less carry out.

So the only remaining question for us, as a country that at least used to be of, by, and for the people (not of, by, and for the government) is how much, if any, of our freedoms are we willing to give to that government to support its efforts to keep us safe from those and other threats and to perserve and defend the Consititution and to faithfully execute the laws passed by Congress, as they swear an oath to do?

Or maybe the more important question is, since we have already allowed that oath to be selectively kept and broken at will, do we even care anymore.  Because of we are OK with the selective breaking of that oath for things we may like, we have no standing to complain when it is also broken for things someone ELSE likes but we don’t.

As I’ve written elsewhere, if we allow the Constitution and its rules to be re-interpreted by any new regime, then it has no meaning, no rules, and though we would not have the nerve to say so, we have de facto scrapped the whole thing on the midden heap of convenience and entitlement.  Is that something we really want?

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Intelligence… Sort Of…

The world of intelligence is usually depicted as a dark, sometimes flashy, dangerous world filled with the likes of James Bond and Jack Ryan.  The U.S. Intel community is divided into three major categories.  The first is the civilian government’s agencies such as CIA and NSA.  These are the ones most often thought of when the term spy is encountered though the vast number of employees are not spies in the normal sense of the word.  In any case, CIA mostly handles “humint,” or human intelligence, i.e. information gathered or provided by human action.  NSA deals with “sigint” or signal intelligence gathered from electronic signal sources.

The second category is the military branch’s internal versions of the same two types.  For example in the army, the whole is under AIS or “Army Intelligence and Security.”  MI, or Military Intelligence, is a rough equivalent to CIA and ASA, or Army Security Agency, is a rough equivalent to NSA.  The navy has one of the best intel groups around.  These are supposed to constrain their activities to intelligence related activities and materials directly impacting their primary military roles but since much military data crosses services they are pretty good at working together.

But government intelligence agencies, both civilian and military suffer the same limitations: their data and often their conclusions are too often filtered through political agendas and action taken on them is too often based on political expediency or other political perspectives and not the real issues.

A third category exists however that is not affiliated with the government or military.  By law they are relegated to gathering what is called “open source” intelligence, meaning from public sources.  But what do you think is the source for most of the other intel if not from observations, contacts, and data that is actually public but often not understood for the value it may have?  These non-governmental intelligence sources usually provide their information for a fee to business and industry.  Because of that, because to make good business decisions you must know the truth of situations, not the political spin, in order to successfully do business and make money.  They do not have political filters attached to them.

Most of them are manned not just by former operatives from the government or military sectors, but also special area experts who can take the raw data and see in it the threads of domestic and geopolitical activities vis-à-vis what is likely to happen and upon which their business clients can rely to inform their decisions.  Frequently therefore, in terms of scoring accuracy, the open source agencies draw unbiased conclusions not only better but which are not subsequently filtered by political desires.

One of the best is a company called STRATFOR.  Its analysis and newsletters are often far better predictors of future events at home and around the world than what you here from the political hacks on the various TV shows.  It’s not that government agencies do not obtain the facts too, it is that those facts are too often spun based on a political decision not a proper strategic or tactical one.

Newer in the field is LIGNET, composed of former intel operatives and area experts like STRATFOR.  Both of these companies have a world wide network of informants and contacts and local area experts and insiders.  Taken together their reviews and conclusions, most especially when they coincide, can generally be taken to the bank.  And they generally directly contradict the baloney coming out of the administration and the congress which is rarely honest or factual.

I’m mentioning these groups because they both published reviews of actiovities and sentiments that would have let anyone foresee the likelihood of the events in the middle east revolving around the 9-11 anniversary.  While our government was asleep at the switch, insisting nothing was afoot (I would guess in defiance of intel reports they were receiving in their briefings) bad folks were watching and plotting.

Both warned of impending attacks; both were seemingly ignored by our leaders.  When I read the first reports of the attacks of our embassies in Libya and Egypt, despite the forewarning from STRATFOR and LIGNET both, I assumed the official story of it being a result of the stupid movie was probably true.  After all, those savage mental midgets over there have gone on killing rampages before for what they perceive as insults to their beliefs.  But now we are beginning to see that things were different; that the private intel groups were far closer to the truth than we were ever told by the government.

We are being told now that this was a coordinated attack by either Al Qaeda groups or other radical jihadists groups as their way of commemorating the 9-11 attacks here at home.  And we are being further told that this was a failure of intelligence.   Although I have no doubt that some operative or director will be told by the administration to fall on their sword over it, I’ll bet the truth is they had told them all along and it did not fit the political agenda. it was not a failure of intelligence gathering but a failure to accept that reality the data indicated.

Today LIGNET had this to say:

“It was reported at first that these attacks were a response to a YouTube video mocking the prophet Mohammed, but it is now becoming clear that the attacks, in which U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was killed, were planned and perpetrated by al-Qaeda. They are a clear sign that the governments that have come to power since the Arab Spring are weak, and unable to control their radicalized Muslim populations that are determined to wage war on the United States.”

That last sentence repeats and reinforces the conclusions both STRATFOR and LIGNET have had for some time about the weaknesses of those new governments and their inability to reign in radical elements… even if they might want to.

I know that most people, and unfortunately most voters, are far too interested in the next American Idol and far too little interested in the truth of what is happening in the world.  I know that most of them are willing to take the pronouncements of their own party flacks as gospel.  But, if you are one of the true 1%, meaning those that really are what is happening and want to know the truth without spin or political bias, then I would encourage you to look into subscribing to those services.  Though both have free trial periods, for the full subscriptions they are not cheap… but neither is the price of freedom.  Freedom can only be based on the truth and that critical commodity is too often withheld from us by our own leaders.

Now, relative to the last post when I too fell for the initial official line that it was the stupid movie trailers on YouTube that was the catalyst for the violence instead of it simply being the cover and excuse for thugs and violent idiots to do their thing,  It looks now like it really was a coordinated attack by radical groups, so I need to amend my comments to include this newer information.  But the conclusions about our leader’s reactions and the message they send to this intractable enemy remain intact and I stand behind them.

Mohammed was a warrior from a warrior society.  His religion now is controlled by people who wish the followers to remain in his original 700s mindset and outlook.  They are told that the only thing that can hold back the Islamic world order is the devil or his minions who are to be killed at every opportunity. THat is why the iranian Ayatollah called us the “Great Satan;” to make us a legitimate target for them.  Specifically mentioned in the Koran are Jews and Christians as those to be converted or killed. Warriors are not impressed with ANY signs of weakness or deference.

It amazes me that when an enemy army, whether a uniformed state army or an ad hoc collection of radical theological mutants, has a published set of guidelines and rules that the other side, their avowed enemies… you … would not be willing to take the time to read it.  But then you probably bought for your bookshelf but did not read Obama’s books which also laid out his dreams and desires for the country flowing from the mentioned mentors of his. You may have fallen for the fearless leader’s ploy of making sure we do not see anything as a “war on terror.”  But if you cannot see that the terrorists have declared war on you and your country and are perfectly willing and able to do something about it, then you deserve, frankly to, as they are directed to do, have your neck smitten and your head separated from your body.  Have you already forgotten Daniel Pearl?

Those books are the ultimate in easy intelligence gathering.  They are akin to finding a normal enemy’s strategic planning papers.  To not take advantage of them, something everyone of you can do, is not a sign of intelligence.  In fact that lack of initiative is a case of intelligence failure of galactic importance.  If you do not avail yourselves of it but still insist on voting and trying to influence the direction of this country, no matter your party partisanship, then you are a fool.  And a country with fools for an electorate is lost.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Isolationism vis-a-vis Afghanistan and Pakistan

San Diego – There is a huge difference between being an “Isolationist” and someone who believes that it is not in our best or lasting interests to keep poking around in business or affairs of other countries.  In this one thing, at least, i tend to agree with the words in King Barrack’s speech yesterday.  That distinction appears to be lost on the media and also on the public for whom labels, especially simplistic ones, are needed to define their views of the world in the face of an utter lack of knowledge sufficient to make an informed and meaningful analysis.

The true isolationist wants to essentially build a wall around the country and become utterly self sufficient and apart from the rest of the world.  Perhaps there was a time when that was possible, whether or not it was wise.  Not even Switzerland, famed for its neutrality and avoidance of foreign entanglements, attempts that sort of isolation.  But to be a good neighbor often means staying out of others’ business even when that business is confusing or abhorrent to you.  Somewhere between true isolationism and wanting to be the policeman of the world is a wiser more sustainable approach.

Whether we like it or not, we are part of a larger world in which global economies and State politics have an impact on our lives and fortunes for good or for ill.  So, inconvenient as it may be for us, we simply cannot pull out of the world as if we all lived on another planet and could simply watch and snicker at the interplay of ego and idiocy happening before us.  Treading that extremely fine line between protecting true national interests and trying to impose our will on others, tracking wisely between an understanding of the needs and sensitivities of other states not as lucky as ours in terms of defense capabilities, and a complete dismissal of those other views seeing them as enemies or potential enemies when they do something we think is counter to our own interests, requires serious leadership and wisdom… neither of which seems to be available to us at the moment.

A major case in point is Pakistan and Afghanistan. One-dimensional pundits on both left and right want us to just get the heck out if we are not willing to fight to win.  Well, to be fair, those in the left want us out period.  And i have argued that we should never engage militarily ANYwhere unless we are willing to go all out to win.  But the bottom line is the same.  And further, many on the right want to somehow punish Pakistan for seeming to work against us in the war against the islamists and the Taliban.  Once again, small minds see only the small picture and can get their minds around only the simplistic answers.  If only the world were that simple and straight forward.

Below are several paragraphs excerpted from an Intel Report from Stratfor on the situation that explains the bind we and the Pakistanis have created for ourselves. (This was presented before the President’s speech on the drawdown.)

“Sept. 11, 2001, posed a profound threat to Pakistan. On one side, Pakistan faced a United States in a state of crisis, demanding Pakistani support against both al Qaeda and the Taliban. On the other side Pakistan had a massive Islamist movement hostile to the United States and intelligence services that had, for a generation, been intimately linked to Afghan Islamists, first with whole-hearted U.S. support, then with its benign indifference. The American demands involved shredding close relationships in Afghanistan, supporting an American occupation in Afghanistan and therefore facing internal resistance and threats in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“The Pakistani solution was the only one it could come up with to placate both the United States and the forces in Pakistan that did not want to cooperate with the United States. The Pakistanis lied. To be more precise and fair, they did as much as they could for the United States without completely destabilizing Pakistan while making it appear that they were being far more cooperative with the Americans and far less cooperative with their public. As in any such strategy, the ISI and Islamabad found themselves engaged in a massive balancing act.

“U.S. and Pakistani national interests widely diverged. The United States wanted to disrupt al Qaeda regardless of the cost. The Pakistanis wanted to avoid the collapse of their regime at any cost. These were not compatible goals. At the same time, the United States and Pakistan needed each other. The United States could not possibly operate in Afghanistan without some Pakistani support, ranging from the use of Karachi and the Karachi-Khyber and Karachi-Chaman lines of supply to at least some collaboration on intelligence sharing, at least on al Qaeda. The Pakistanis badly needed American support against India. If the United States simply became pro-Indian, the Pakistani position would be in severe jeopardy.

“The United States was always aware of the limits of Pakistani assistance. The United States accepted this publicly because it made Pakistan appear to be an ally at a time when the United States was under attack for unilateralism. It accepted it privately as well because it did not want to see Pakistan destabilize. The Pakistanis were aware of the limits of American tolerance, so a game was played out.

“That game is now breaking down, not because the United States raided Pakistan and killed bin Laden but because it is becoming apparent to Pakistan that the United States will, sooner or later, be dramatically drawing down its forces in Afghanistan. This drawdown creates three facts. First, Pakistan will be facing the future on its western border with Afghanistan without an American force to support it. Pakistan does not want to alienate the Taliban, and not just for ideological reasons. It also expects the Taliban to govern Afghanistan in due course. India aside, Pakistan needs to maintain its ties to the Taliban in order to maintain its influence in Afghanistan and guard its western flank. Being cooperative with the United States is less important. Second, Pakistan is aware that as the United States draws down, it will need Pakistan to cover its withdrawal strategically. Afghanistan is not Iraq, and as the U.S. force draws down, it will be in greater danger. The U.S. needs Pakistani influence. Finally, there will be a negotiation with the Taliban, and elements of Pakistan, particularly the ISI, will be the intermediary.

“The Pakistanis are preparing for the American drawdown. Publicly, it is important for them to appears independent and even hostile to the /united States in order to maintain their domestic credibility. Up to now, they have appeared to various factions in Pakistan as American lackeys. If the United States is leaving, the Pakistanis can’t afford to appear that way anymore. There are genuine issues separating the two countries, but in the end, the show is as important as the issues. U.S. accusations that the government has not cooperated with the United States in fighting Islamists are exactly what the Pakistani establishment needs in order to move to the next phase.”

Into this quagmire steps our benighted leader.  True, he did not creat it, the hated Bush Demon created it by allowing the mission to creep beyond simply stopping Afghanistan from allowing Al Qaida and other islamist/jihadists a training ground and base from which to attack us and into a full blown campaign to stabilize a nation ruled by systemic corruption that would make the Mexican Authorities look like choir boys. He leads from a position of experiential ignorance and in opposition to the military’s assessment of what is needed. (The military wanted to at least complete the 2012 fighting season before drawing down but that extends into September and did not give the political impact needed by the President for his campaign.)

The pull out period, due to both the timing and the advanced notice to the enemy will be an extremely dangerous period for our troops and very much unlike Iraq where an agreement was reached with the Sunni insurgents.  Unfortunately no such agreement currently exists with the Taliban.  And without it, Pakistan is an incredibly important piece in the puzzle as the quickest routes of retreat for all of the heavy metal that cannot easily be airlifted out is over the Khyber Pass region and into their country.

This administration has continued and expanded the Bush Demon’s initial goals into ones clearly impossible and now added to the military problems by announcing when we were leaving so the enemy can simply prepare for it and as our force dwindles to some critical mass, pounce and show the world clearly an important symbolic message that (a) the U.S. once again ran with its tail between its legs when the going got touch, (b) they could deliver major blows to this paper tiger, and (c) send a message that no one in history has STILL managed to defeat and control that region.

Just as with our economic problems, the polarized factions in our own government have so muddied the water as to make any clean end-game impossible.  Preferring going to the wall to maintain their own ideological views and seat at the table, no matter how shortsighted or counterproductive, they have been willing to sacrifice the well being of the country. There are no innocent parties here and no good sides to take anymore.  Our dear leaders have sidestepped plans that might, at one point, have solved things with some but minimal pain and reached a point where there are no good solutions left only extremely painful ones for us all, and even the tentative steps being suggested are too often proposed for all the wrong reasons and to make sure it is “them” who suffers and not “us.”  .

In a previous post asking whose side we were on, I provided the math to show what the real impact of this pull out will be on our economy if ALL military budgets now requested for the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan were eliminated.  Bottom line; it will not make even a small dent in the deficit, much less the debt.

We are no longer a country of Chess Players.  indeed we are no longer a country of Checkers Players.  In fact it would seem as if our “brilliant” leaders could not predictably win a game of Old Maid against the nearest potted plant.  The only strategic game our dear leader seems competent at is national Russian Roulette.  Thus far, Stratfor’s assessments have been spot on.  in this instance if they are even close (I encourage you to read it all from the link below) then the speech our Dear Leader gave yesterday was simply delusional especially since his own intel people are telling pretty much the same story as Stratfor.

Here again, ideology trumps reality.  And once again it adds fuel to my ugly conclusions that we are being slowly brought to our knees from within so we can be rebuilt in the Dear One’s image.  He even said as much when he said we should not be Nation Building” elsewhere but needed to do “Nation Building” here.  But we have a nation… oh wait, this is not the worker’s paradise of a nation into which King Barrack openly wishes to transform us.  For that, we must build a NEW nation, right after we effectively destroy this one.  Meantime, does that not run counter to Libya?

John Quincy Adams wrote that,

“… our task is to be the advocate for liberty everywhere, but the defender of ours alone.

Jim Webb, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy and now a Democrat Senator said, relative to the attack against Libya,

“Was our country under attack, or under the threat of imminent attack? Was a clearly vital national interest at stake? Were we invoking the inherent right of self-defense as outlined in the United Nations charter? Were we called upon by treaty commitments to come to the aid of an ally? Were we responding in kind to an attack on our forces elsewhere, as we did in the 1986 raids in Libya after American soldiers had been killed in a disco in Berlin? Were we rescuing Americans in distress, as we did in Grenada in 1983? No, we were not.”

i increasingly think we are under sttack.  But it is not from the middle east!

Here is the link to the complete Stratfor intel report i quoted from above.

U.S. and Pakistan: Afghan Strategies is republished with permission of STRATFOR

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Whatever Happened to a proper Declaration of War?

San Diego – Well I listened to the speech last night from King Barrack.  We may as well call him that since it better narrates his relationship to our republic and constitution than “President” (of course a number of despots were “presidents” too so maybe that term has evolved when i wasn’t looking).  After all he decided on his own that a law passed by congress was unconstitutional so would not be supported; why not decide on his own whether or not to take our country and its military into war?   It was an OK political speech and I understood his rationale even in the midst of a bit of factual fudging and spinning re “leadership” in the events.  I have been opposed to the action, as I was to the action with Iraq, even though I think there was a better case being made there for it, on logistical and leadership vacuum grounds.  The President want to pretend like an even of this magnitude does not set a precedent for down-stream action but he is sufficiently politically savvy to know that is a bit of total nonsense and now everytime something can even marginally be called a humanitarian crisis we will renew the debate.  If ever there was a true humanitarian crisis it was in Darfur but we sat it out; as bad as it is this is far less horrific and the so-called good guys here are  clearly far more a potential problem for us than the poor people of Darfur or even Somalia.  But I do understand the American sense of Nobless Oblige and the idea that if we can avert a slaughter of innocents we should do so.

But that alone is not what we did.  We went to war with the current government of Lybia.  It is clearly a terrible government ruled by a psychotic despot but if we want to overthrow that government because we do not like it or because, as is true, it sponsored actions that killed Americans, then do it but it is hard to call that anything other than an act of war.  We said we only wanted to create a no fly zone, but striking at tanks and ground artillery sure seems like a bit of mission creep to me.  He said we would not put boots on the ground and ignored the fact that it requires boots on the ground in the form of SpecOps and FOs  to laser-paint targets for the air strikes to the ground but it is possible he is so militarily naive he does not know that and believes it is all very aseptic and clean.

Perhaps it really is something we should do; I have no problem with the idea of sending in folks to simply make him cease to exist.  But still, I’ve been very uneasy about it as an overt action.  Finally I read, in far better words than I could muster,  what it is that bothers me — and also bothered me with Iraq and with Vietnam.  We slinked in sideways with a political ploy and loophole that was accepted… but only sort of.  And it has led to some real polarization because it was all political.

Some of you know of my background so it will come as no surprise that i highly value solid intelligence gathering.  Government intel agencies, civilian and military alike, are too often politicized but the business world has a single objective: making money.  That objective needs to know the truth.  “Spinning” the data usually ends up costing money not making it.  One of the very best open Source intelligence agencies on the planet is a group called “Stratfor.”  As a rule they often simply provide data and let policy makers decide what to do with it.   Rarely do they provide opinions except, sometimes, as to conclusions as to where events they are relating may lead.  So it is highly unusual for the head of Stratfor, to provide a document in which he says he “believes” in something or it is his “opinion” about something.  That is to be taken seriously, especially when they are made on constitutional grounds.  In the piece below he does not take sides about the pros or cons of the action in Libya per se, only about the procedures used — or not used — to get us into it and what that means for us as a country and culture.  Like many intel writing, the real message is between the lines, so read it carefully.  But if you have even some vague qualms about how this all went down, do click on the link below and READ IT!

What Happened to the American Declaration of War? is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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