May 5, 2017

Jeffrey Sterling, Persecuted as Whistleblower by Obama Administration


Americans, you need to support your patriots, defending your country from domestic enemies - This man is suffering because he upheld his oath of allegiance, IMHO. But what do I know, I'm Canadian. 

via the 'Sane Progressive' YouTube channel here: https://goo.gl/ZlqaQV


PLEASE SUPPORT THE STERLINGS:

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Links Below, Sources: Click SHOW MORE: 
Jeffrey Sterling was targeted by the Obama administration for persecution for his role as a whistle blower and sent to prison without being allowed to provide for his defense without any objective/tangible evidence to prove the 'case'. Jeffrey currently remains in prison where the punitive retaliation appears to be continuing to this day. 
LInks:
I know, I know, Democracy Now, but this is a good synopsis:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfAE4...
Letter from CIA Veterans for Sanity contrasting Sterling's treatment w Clinton (demanding real action on Clinton Email case as well):
http://beforeitsnews.com/military/201...
On Jeffrey's denial of medical care in prison:
http://www.mintpressnews.com/cia-whis...
Brother West's speech on Jeffrey Sterling:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpOzp...
Holly's Open Letter to Obama pleading on Obama's Deaf ears:
http://rootsaction.org/news-a-views/1...
Roots Action Site that Holly mentioned in interview:
http://rootsaction.org/news-a-views/1...

Apr 30, 2017

Mattis ‘No Doubt’ Stance on Alleged Syrian CW Smacks of Politicized Intelligence

AN OPEN MEMORANDUM FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
From: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
Subject: Mattis ‘No Doubt’ Stance on Alleged Syrian CW Smacks of Politicized Intelligence
Donald Trump’s new Secretary of Defense, retired Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, during a recent trip to Israel, commented on the issue of Syria’s retention and use of chemical weapons in violation of its obligations to dispose of the totality of its declared chemical weapons capability in accordance with the provisions of both the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman hold a news conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 21, 2017. (U.S. Embassy photo by Matty Stern)
“There can be no doubt,” Secretary Mattis said during a April 21, 2017 joint news conference with his Israeli counterpart, Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman, “in the international community’s mind that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of its agreement and its statement that it had removed them all.” To the contrary, Mattis noted, “I can say authoritatively they have retained some.”
Lieberman joined Mattis in his assessment, noting that Israel had “100 percent information that [the] Assad regime used chemical weapons against [Syrian] rebels.”
Both Mattis and Lieberman seemed to be channeling assessments offered to reporters two days prior, on April 19, 2017, by anonymous Israeli defense officials that the April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack on the Syrian village of Khan Shaykhun was ordered by Syrian military commanders, with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s personal knowledge, and that Syria retained a stock of “between one and three tons” of chemical weapons.
The Israeli intelligence followed on the heels of an April 13, 2017 speech given by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that, once information had come in about a chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun, the CIA had been able to “develop several hypothesis around that, and then to begin to develop fact patterns which either supported or suggested that the hypothesis wasn’t right.” The CIA, Pompeo said, was “in relatively short order able to deliver to [President Trump] a high-confidence assessment that, in fact, it was the Syrian regime that had launched chemical strikes against its own people in [Khan Shaykhun.]”
The speed in which this assessment was made is of some concern. Both Director Pompeo, during his CSIS remarks, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, during comments to the press on April 6, 2017, note that President Trump turned to the intelligence community early on in the crisis to understand better “the circumstances of the attack and who was responsible.” McMaster indicated that the U.S. Intelligence Community, working with allied partners, was able to determine with “a very high degree of confidence” where the attack originated.
Mike Pompeo, now CIA director, speaking at the 2012 CPAC in Washington, D.C. February 2012. (Flickr Gage Skidmore)
Both McMaster and Pompeo spoke of the importance of open source imagery in confirming that a chemical attack had taken place, along with evidence collected from the victims themselves – presumably blood samples – that confirmed the type of agent that was used in the attack. This initial assessment drove the decision to use military force – McMaster goes on to discuss a series of National Security Council meetings where military options were discussed and decided upon; the discussion about the intelligence underpinning the decision to strike Syria was over.
The danger of this rush toward an intelligence decision by Director Pompeo and National Security Advisor McMaster is that once the President and his top national security advisors have endorsed an intelligence-based conclusion, and authorized military action based upon that conclusion, it becomes virtually impossible for that conclusion to change. Intelligence assessments from that point forward will embrace facts that sustain this conclusion, and reject those that don’t; it is the definition of politicized intelligence, even if those involved disagree.
A similar “no doubt” moment had occurred nearly 15 years ago when, in August 2002, Vice President Cheney delivered a speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” Cheney declared. “There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.” The message Cheney was sending to the Intelligence Community was clear: Saddam Hussein had WMD; there was no need to answer that question anymore.
The CIA vehemently denies that either Vice President Cheney or anyone at the White House put pressure on its analysts to alter their assessments. This may very well be true, but if it is, then the record of certainty – and arrogance – that existed in the mindset of senior intelligence managers and analysts only further erodes public confidence in the assessments produced by the CIA, especially when, as is the case with Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction – the agency was found so lacking. Stuart Cohen, a veteran CIA intelligence analyst who served as the acting Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, oversaw the production of the 2002 Iraq National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that was used to make case for Iraq possessing WMD that was used to justify war.
According to Mr. Cohen, he had four National Intelligence Officers with “over 100 years’ collective work experience on weapons of mass destruction issues” backed up by hundreds of analysts with “thousands of man-years invested in studying these issues.”
On the basis of this commitment of talent alone, Mr. Cohen assessed that “no reasonable person could have viewed the totality of the information that the Intelligence Community had at its disposal … and reached any conclusion or alternative views that were profoundly different from those that we reached,” namely that – judged with high confidence – “Iraq had chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of the 150 kilometer limit imposed by the UN Security Council.”
Two facts emerge from this expression of intellectual hubris. First, the U.S. Intelligence Community was, in fact, wrong in its estimate on Iraq’s WMD capability, throwing into question the standards used to assign “high confidence” ratings to official assessments. Second, the “reasonable person” standard cited by Cohen must be reassessed, perhaps based upon a benchmark derived from a history of analytical accuracy rather than time spent behind a desk.
Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations on Feb. 5. 2003, citing satellite photos and other “intelligence” which supposedly proved that Iraq had WMD, but the evidence proved bogus.
The major lesson learned here, however, is that the U.S. Intelligence Community, and in particular the CIA, more often than not hides behind self-generated platitudes (“high confidence”, “reasonable person”) to disguise a process of intelligence analysis that has long ago been subordinated to domestic politics.
It is important to point out the fact that Israel, too, was wrong about Iraq’s WMD. According to Shlomo Brom, a retired Israeli Intelligence Officer, Israeli intelligence seriously overplayed the threat posed by Iraqi WMD in the lead up to the 2003 Iraq War, including a 2002 briefing to NATO provided by Efraim Halevy, who at the time headed the Israeli Mossad, or intelligence service, that Israel had “clear indications” that Iraq had reconstituted its WMD programs after U.N. weapons inspectors left Iraq in 1998.
The Israeli intelligence assessments on Iraq, Mr. Brom concluded, were most likely colored by political considerations, such as the desire for regime change in Iraq. In this light, neither the presence of Avigdor Leiberman, nor the anonymous background briefings provided by Israel about Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities, should be used to provide any credence to Secretary Mattis’s embrace of the “no doubt” standard when it comes to Syria’s alleged possession of chemical weapons.
The intelligence data that has been used to back up the allegations of Syrian chemical weapons use has been far from conclusive. Allusions to intercepted Syrian communications have been offered as “proof”, but the Iraq experience – in particular former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s unfortunate experience before the U.N. Security Council – show how easily such intelligence can be misunderstood and misused.
Inconsistencies in the publicly available imagery which the White House (and CIA) have so heavily relied upon have raised legitimate questions about the veracity of any conclusions drawn from these sources (and begs the question as to where the CIA’s own Open Source Intelligence Center was in this episode.) The blood samples used to back up claims of the presence of nerve agent among the victims was collected void of any verifiable chain of custody, making their sourcing impossible to verify, and as such invalidates any conclusions based upon their analysis.
In the end, the conclusions CIA Director Pompeo provided to the President was driven by a fundamental rethinking of the CIA’s analysts when it came to Syria and chemical weapons that took place in 2014. Initial CIA assessments in the aftermath of the disarmament of Syria’s chemical weapons seemed to support the Syrian government’s stance that it had declared the totality of its holding of chemical weapons, and had turned everything over to the OPCW for disposal. However, in 2014, OPCW inspectors had detected traces of Sarin and VX nerve agent precursors at sites where the Syrians had indicated no chemical weapons activity had taken place; other samples showed the presence of weaponized Sarin nerve agent.
The Syrian explanation that the samples detected were caused by cross-contamination brought on by the emergency evacuation of chemical precursors and equipment used to handle chemical weapons necessitated by the ongoing Civil War was not accepted by the inspectors, and this doubt made its way into the minds of the CIA analysts, who closely followed the work of the OPCW inspectors in Syria.
One would think that the CIA would operate using the adage of “once bitten, twice shy” when assessing inspector-driven doubt; U.N. inspectors in Iraq, driven by a combination of the positive sampling combined with unverifiable Iraqi explanations, created an atmosphere of doubt about the veracity of Iraqi declarations that all chemical weapons had been destroyed. The CIA embraced the U.N. inspectors’ conclusions, and discounted the Iraqi version of events; as it turned out, Iraq was telling the truth.
While the jury is still out about whether or not Syria is, like Iraq, telling the truth, or whether the suspicions of inspectors are well founded, one thing is clear: a reasonable person would do well to withhold final judgment until all the facts are in. (Note: The U.S. proclivity for endorsing the findings of U.N. inspectors appears not to include the Khan Shaykhun attack; while both Syria and Russia have asked the OPCW to conduct a thorough investigation of the April 4, 2017 incident, the OPCW has been blocked from doing so by the United States and its allies.)
Photograph of men in Khan Sheikdoun in Syria, allegedly inside a crater where a sarin-gas bomb landed on April 4, 2017.
CIA Director Pompeo’s job is not to make policy – the intelligence his agency provides simply informs policy. It is not known if the U.S. Intelligence Community will be producing a formal National Intelligence Estimate addressing the Syrian chemical weapons issue, although the fact that the United States has undertaken military action under the premise that these weapons exist more than underscores the need for such a document, especially in light of repeated threats made by the Trump administration that follow-on strikes might be necessary.
Making policy is, however, the job of Secretary of Defense Mattis. At the end of the day, Secretary of Defense Mattis will need to make his own mind up as to the veracity of any intelligence used to justify military action. Mattis’s new job requires that he does more than simply advise the President on military options; he needs to ensure that the employment of these options is justified by the facts.
In the case of Syria, the “no doubt” standard Mattis has employed does not meet the “reasonable man” standard. Given the consequences that are attached to his every word, Secretary Mattis would be well advised not to commit to a “no doubt” standard until there is, literally, no doubt.
For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
  • William Binney, Technical Director, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)
  • Marshall Carter-Tripp, Foreign Service Officer (ret) and former Office Division Director in the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research
  • Thomas Drake, former Senior Executive, NSA
  • Bogdan Dzakovic, Former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security, (ret.) (associate VIPS)
  • Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
  • Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)
  • Larry C Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)
  • Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF (Ret.); ex-Master SERE Instructor for Strategic Reconnaissance Operations (NSA/DIA) and Special Mission Units (JSOC)
  • Brady Kiesling, former U.S. Foreign Service Officer, ret. (Associate VIPS)
  • Karen Kwiatkowski, former Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.), at Office of Secretary of Defense watching the manufacture of lies on Iraq, 2001-2003
  • Lisa Ling, TSgt USAF (ret.)
  • Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret.) (associate VIPS)
  • Edward Loomis, NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)
  • David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
  • Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Near East, CIA and National Intelligence Council (ret.)
  • Torin Nelson, former Intelligence Officer/Interrogator (GG-12) HQ, Department of the Army
  • Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)
  • Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)
  • Scott Ritter, former MAJ., USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq
  • Peter Van Buren, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)
  • Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA
  • Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel (USA, ret.), Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of William and Mary (associate VIPS)
  • Sarah G. Wilton, Intelligence Officer, DIA (ret.); Commander, US Naval Reserve (ret.)
  • Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer (associate VIPS)

Apr 28, 2017

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Warns of Increasing Pressure on North Korea

Translation as follows:

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang criticised the West for putting pressure on China to solve the North Korean nuclear issue alone, when speaking in Beijing, Friday.

Geng Shuang, Foreign Ministry spokesperson (Mandarin): "In this critical moment, UN Security Council is holding Ministerial Open Conference. All the sides should fully discuss how to relieve this tension, how to maintain peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, how to carry the propose of denuclearization in Peninsula forward and how to finally solve the 'nuclear issue' in the Peninsula. If these talks only focus on further sanctions and stepping up pressure, I think we will lose a great opportunity and it will aggravate the opposition of different sides and ideas. It probably will break all previous efforts of promoting peace."

Geng Shuang, Foreign Ministry spokesperson (Mandarin): "I want to emphasise once again: China is not at the centre of the North Korea's nuclear issue. China is not the pusher for further tensions in the Korean Peninsula. China doesn’t hold the key to solve North Korea's nuclear issue at present. Solving the North Korea's nuclear issue has to rely on collective intelligence and joint effort from all sides. China hopes relevant parties will play proper roles and take their responsibilities. We need to work together to maintain peace in the Korean Peninsula and Asia." 

Geng Shuang, Foreign Ministry spokesperson (Mandarin): "In North Korea's nuclear issue, China and Russia have similar standpoint. Our perspective and opinion are similar as well. I think Russia has played a positive role in solving the nuclear issue in long term. In next stage, we will increase the communication and cooperation with Russia and other relevant parties. We wish nuclear issue in north Korea will be solved via talk and negotiation in a peaceful way."

Links for April 21-27 via ISHM

Key Takeaways:

  • Turkish Warplanes Strike Targets in Sinjar, Drawing Condemnation - Between April 21 and 25, Turkish airstrikes hit targets in Dohuk and Ninewa Provinces. Turkey has been targeting Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) camps in northern Iraq since at least late 2015, despite protests from the Iraqi government. The most significant incident occurred on April 25, when Turkish aircraft hit targets on Mount Sinjar, killing five Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers. While Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s office expressed disappointment at Turkish actions, the Turkish government has defended its airstrikes as a necessary measure to prevent PKK weapons and fighters from reaching Turkey. Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga officials have asked PKK fighters to withdraw from Sinjar as tensions between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and PKK continue to grow. One day after the Turkish airstrikes in Sinjar, U.S.-led international coalition spokesman Col. John Dorrian stated that the Turkish government had given less than an hour’s notice to Iraqi and coalition forces before launching operations over Iraqi airspace. The same day, Kurdish protection units called for a no-fly zone to be established in Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Iraq and Syria to prevent future incidents like this one.  more...
  • Reconstruction and Returns Increase in Eastern Mosul Despite Insecurity; U.S. Development Funding in Jeopardy - On April 24, several Mosul residents expressed desire to return to their homes despite the absence of basic services such as electricity and running water in much of the city. However, some reports have indicated that life is returning to normal in liberated areas of eastern Mosul. One day earlier, the Ministry of Displacement and Migration reported that 122,137 IDPs have returned to their homes in Ninewa Province since the operation to clear Mosul started on October 17, 2016, although 336,288 remain displaced as of April 27. The push for civilian returns is partly due to overcrowding at existing displacement facilities. On April 23, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that all IDP camps south of Mosul, except Haj Ali camp, are at full capacity, with 600 families arriving to the Haj Ali, Qayyarah Jadah 5, and Qayyarah Airstrip camps in the last three days. The UNHCR estimates that it needs US$ 212 million in 2017 to continue to support IDPs displaced from Mosul, and requested US$ 578 million to support IDPs across the country in 2017, of which, only 18% has been funded. Yet, the UNHCR reported on April 25 that the number of departures from IDP camps has started to surpass the number of arrivals. While Iraq’s IDP crisis continues, and the country faces the daunting task of reconstruction, an April 24 Foreign Policy report indicated that the Trump Administration plans to merge the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and drastically cut assistance programs for developing countries. USAID estimates that Trump’s 2018 budget proposal will require it to cut up to 35 of its field missions, as well as cut its regional bureaus by 65%. It remains unclear how these cuts will impact Iraq.  more...
  • Operations Continue into Western Mosul as Violence Continues in Tal Afar - Iraqi Federal Police and Counter-Terror Service (CTS) forces have made slow advances into ISIS-held western Mosul. As of April 27, Federal Police maintained positions within 300 meters of the al-Nouri Mosque, where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the creation of the “caliphate” in 2014. As fighting continues inside Mosul, Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) liberated the archeological site of Hatra, and cleared 12 villages in the al-Hathr district of Ninewa Province, 110 and 65 kilometers south of Mosul, respectively. Meanwhile, unknown gunmen in Tal Afar, 75 kilometers west of Mosul, assassinated the son of the ISIS “Grand Mufti” in the town, following a string of anonymous high-profile killings of ISIS members there over the past few weeks.  more...
  • Security Forces Launch New Offensives Against ISIS in Anbar and Diyala. - On April 22, Diyala Security forces, accompanied by PMU fighters, performed a security sweep of three valleys (Thelb, Hadidi, and Qzla) 80 kilometers northeast of Baquba in Diyala Province. Four days later, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and PMUs launched a four-axis offensive to clear the Mutibija region on the borders of Diyala and Salah ad-Din provinces, following months of demands from local politicians and residents for action against this hotbed for terrorist activity. On April 27, the Mayor of Khalis, 15 kilometers north of Baquba, stated that the offensive would allow thousands of displaced families to return to their homes. Meanwhile, operations to clear ISIS militants from parts of Anbar Province also intensified over the past week. On April 23, U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes killed 21 ISIS militants near Rawa, 230 kilometers west of Ramadi. The same day, an ISIS attack in Rutba killed 10 ISF soldiers and wounded an additional 20. Clashes worsened in the areas around Rutba between 23-27 April, and the head of the Anbar Security Council has called on the U.S.-led international coalition to intensify its airstrikes against ISIS in western Anbar, referencing recent attacks on roads and security points near Rutba.  more...
  • Sadrists Meet with PUK in Iraqi Kurdistan as Electoral Commission Head is Ousted - On April 23, representatives from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Sadrist movement met in Erbil to discuss political reform. During the meeting, the Sadrist delegation reportedly called on Kurds to assist in building a more cohesive Iraq rather than push for independence, and proposed holding new elections across Iraq after the current head of the Independent Electoral Commission is replaced. One day later, the Iraqi Parliament announced that it had decided to oust Serbest Mustafa, the current head of the Electoral Commission due to corruption.  more...
    Derived from firsthand accounts and Iraq-based Arabic and Kurdish news sources, the Iraq Security and Humanitarian Monitor is a free publication of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center.

Apr 16, 2017

What is the #MOAB Bomb?

English: The guided bomb unit-43/B Massive Ord...
English: The guided bomb unit-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb prototype is shown moments before impact. The detonation created a mushroom cloud that could be seen 20 miles away. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Good writeup from JustSecurity, part of which is included here.

The Massive Ordnance Air Blast Weapon (MOAB, known informally as the “Mother of All Bombs” and formally as the Guided Bomb Unit, or GBU, 43/B) has attracted a great deal of attention since it was dropped on ISIS fighters in eastern Afghanistan on 13 April.  Unfortunately, discussion of the attack has been hobbled by a lack of understanding as to the nature of the weapon and the uses for which it was designed, as well as the tendency to discuss it by reference to nuclear weapons.  In this article, we hope to add some needed granularity to the analysis of the attack by describing the MOAB and its purpose.  We conclude by highlighting the international humanitarian law issues implicated by the attack.
Developed in a relatively short time during 2003 with a view to use in Iraq, the MOAB was never employed in that conflict.  The intent was to use it against large formations of troops or hardened above-ground bunkers.  It was also intended for “psychological operations” targeting enemy morale, both by virtue of the size and extent of the resulting blast and the fact that it creates a large mushroom cloud resembling that of a nuclear detonation.  Thus, it was seen as a particularly useful weapon for “shock and awe” type tactics.
The MOAB is huge by conventional bomb standards. Weighing in at approximately 11 tons, it contains 18,700 lbs. of H-6 explosive, which was originally developed for underwater explosions due to its low sensitivity to shock and stable storage characteristics.  This is the largest quantity of explosive in any non-nuclear weapon in the US inventory (although there are larger weapons by weight, they contain less explosive due to having heavier casings designed to penetrate targets).  By way of comparison, the frequently-used Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) comes in at launch weights of between roughly 500 lbs. and 2000 lbs.
Although the military has recounted “kicking it out of the back door” of the MC-130 aircraft, which suggests a “barrel-bomb” approach to employment, the MOAB actually is a guided munition. After leaving the aircraft, a parachute attached to the MOAB deploys.  The weapon subsequently detaches and is guided to a pre-determined target by GPS (satellite) and onboard avionics.  Thus, it differs from its predecessor, the obsolete BLU-82 “Daisy Cutter” bombs developed for use in Vietnam.  Daisy cutters were unguided “dumb” bombs that created large blasts areas in order to clear sites that could subsequently be used for helicopter landing zones. They saw some limited use in both Iraq and Afghanistan, including against cave complexes, until 2008.
The MOAB must be distinguished from the class of volumetric weapons, such as thermobaric weapons and fuel-air explosive weapons that have been used against fighters within cave complexes in Afghanistan.  Those use various means to create a cloud of burning particles with a wide blast radius and intense fireball.  When employed in a confined area, such as caves, thermobaric weapons can create a powerful vacuum as a secondary effect that adds to their lethality.
The MOAB is a conventional explosive weapon.  It results in an initial fireball from the explosion and a subsequent pressure wave caused by the creation of large quantities of gases at high temperatures. The MOAB is an air burst weapon, that is, it detonates above the ground.  This allows its destructive energy to dissipate over the widest possible surface area rather than being absorbed by the ground impact or reflected upwards. It can be used both to demolish surface targets and as an anti-personnel weapon. The effects are similar to any standard high explosive weapon, but the size of the blast radius (reported to be approximately 1 mile) is what marks the MOAB apart from smaller munitions.
Read rest of story 

Apr 9, 2017

I'm Getting Nervous About Conflict Between the Two Superpowers

Map of Syria with Idlib highlighted
Map of Syria with Idlib highlighted (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Great post over at Antiwar.com from Gilbert Doctorow - Gilbert Doctorow is a Brussels-based political analyst. His latest book Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.
My days as apologist for Donald Trump’s backsliding on his electoral campaign promise of a new direction in foreign policy are over. From being the solution, he has become an integral part of the problem. And with his bigger than life ego, petulance and stubbornness, Commander-in-Chief Trump is potentially a greater threat to world peace than the weak-willed Barack Obama whom he replaced. 
Trump has ignored Russian calls for an investigation into the alleged chemical gas attack in Idlib province before issuing conclusions on culpability, as happened within hours of the event. He has accepted a narrative that is very possibly a false flag produced by anti-government rebels in Syria, disseminated by the White Helmets and other phony NGO’s paid from Washington and London. He ordered the firing of 50 or more Tomahawk missiles against a Syrian Government air base in Homs province, thereby crossing all Russian “red lines” in Syria. 
Until this point, the Kremlin has chosen not to react to all signs coming from Washington that Trump’s determination to change course on Russia and global hegemony was failing.
The wait-and-see posture antedated Trump’s accession to power when Putin overruled the dictates of protocol and did not respond to Obama’s final salvo, the seizure of Russian diplomatic property in the U.S. and the eviction of Russian diplomats. The Russians also looked the other way when the new administration continued the same Neocon rhetoric from the tribune of the UN Security Council and during the visits of Vice President Pence, Pentagon boss Mattis and Secretary of State Tillerson to Europe.
However, the missile attack in Syria is a game changer. The pressure on Vladmir Vladimirovich Putin to respond in kind is now enormous.
Read entire post at Antiwar.com

Apr 7, 2017

Iraqi Security & Human Update Ending April 06 2017

Jared Kushner of the New York Observer.
Jared Kushner of the New York Observer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    From ISHM a brief synopsis - Follow the link to their website for the entire story. Link at bottom of this post.

  • ISIS Militants Launch Surprise Attack in Tikrit, Killing 30 - On April 4, at least 10 ISIS militants dressed as police officers attacked a police checkpoint in Tikrit, targeting security forces and civilians in the area. The fighting extended into the morning of April 5, resulting in 30 fatalities, including five of the attackers. One day after the incident, 250 members of the Badr Organization PMU deployed to the center of Tikrit to boost security. Local officials have stated that, after this force augmentation, the security situation in Tikrit is stable. The attack in Tikrit comes after a week of operations across Salah ad-Din Province in an attempt to restore security to that area. 
  • Iraqi Security Forces Establish Evacuation Corridors for Civilians in Western Mosul; Civilian Casualties, Atrocities Continue - In a significant departure from previous shelter-in-place policies in both western and eastern Mosul, the Iraqi Federal Police announced on April 3 that it established an evacuation corridor for civilians in Mosul’s Old City. This route is reportedly designed to allow civilians to leave the area before Iraqi Security Forces advance toward the al-Nouri Mosque. A sharp rise in the number of civilian casualties during operations to clear western Mosul may prompt local residents to use the new corridor. However, ISIS militants have executed civilians who attempt to flee; on April 3 Qayyarah South Hospital received the bodies of 20 women and children who were killed while trying to reach ISF positions. Further adding to this confusion, the Iraqi Air Force dropped thousands of leaflets over ISIS-controlled areas in western Mosul, Anbar Province, and Hawija on April 5, urging civilians to stay in their homes. These actions come after the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) reported on April 1 that 543 civilians were killed in Iraq during the month of March, the vast majority of which were in Ninewa Province. The same day, the U.S.-led international coalition revealed that coalition airstrikes unintentionally killed at least 229 civilians in Iraq and Syria since August 2014, although this figure does not include civilian casualties from the March 17 incident in western Mosul (previously reported in ISHM). 
  • Operations in Western Mosul Progress Slowly; ISIS Bombards Eastern Mosul - As Iraqi Security Forces continue their operations to clear western Mosul of ISIS, militants have responded by firing indiscriminately into previously cleared areas in both eastern and western Mosul. On April 6, ISIS shot down an Iraqi helicopter, killing the two pilots. Elsewhere in Ninewa Province, airstrikes against ISIS positions continue, primarily in the areas surrounding Tal Afar and Baaj, southwest of Mosul. 
  • Security Forces Restart Offensive in Anbar as IDPs Flee Toward Qa’im - On April 2, approximately 10,000 civilians fleeing ISIS-held areas reached Qa’im, 20 kilometers from the Syrian border in western Anbar Province. As of December 2016, there were 14,000 IDPs in Qa’im, and the recent arrivals have strained the town’s humanitarian capacity. One day later, Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition warplanes struck ISIS positions in areas around Qa’im. On April 4, a large contingent of tribal fighters, supported by the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, launched an operation to clear a 40 kilometer area in western Anbar, marking the relaunch of combat ground operations to clear militants from the province.  
  • Local Officials Raise Kurdish Flag Over Kirkuk, Sparking Row with Ankara - On April 3, Kirkuk Governor Najmaddin Karim met with a delegation from the Kurdish Ministry on Martyrs and Anfal Affairs, one week after reaching an agreement to raise the Kurdish flag alongside the Iraqi flag over Kirkuk’s government buildings. Immediately following this week’s meeting, the Kirkuk Provincial Council voted to demand a referendum on Kirkuk joining the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq. On April 4, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s Chief of Public Relations met with UNHCR coordinator for Kurdistan, Monica Noro, to obtain a UN endorsement for Kirkuk’s flag-raising decision. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan weighed in on the issue, stating that the cost of maintaining the Kurdish flag in Kirkuk would be “high” and that Turkey would “cut off” relations with Iraqi Kurdistan if the flag is not lowered. 
  • Jared Kushner Visits Iraq with Gen. Joseph Dunford - On April 3, Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor and son-in-law to U.S. President Donald Trump, met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to discuss the fight against ISIS and post-ISIS U.S. troop levels in Iraq. He accompanied the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford. 
READ MORE