Meh Culpa

US Navy’s “Covert” Ops in the Gulf of Aden

Israel National News reported today that the US Navy aboard the USS San Antonio has  stopped a ship in the Gulf of Aden and set it on a course for Egypt for further inspection.  The  ship,  possibly flying a false Cypriot flag, was allegedly packed with Iranian munitions headed for Gaza.

The Jerusalem Post’s* source, Professor Raymond Tanter, was quoted as saying that the operation was probably “covert” because stopping a ship flying under the flag of a sovereign nation might provoke legal action against the perpetrator.  INN also claimed concerns in the intelligence community that Iran was using the boat to ship a so-called dirty bomb to Gaza, but which intelligence community the publication was talking about remains unclear.  (I’m betting on the Israelis, but what do I know from intelligence?)

If the Iranian  ship was indeed flying under a false flag, such an act could be considered not only ironic, but a rather tardy payback for the same strategy the CIA used in 1953  to stage a coup  against Iran’s then-democratically elected leader,  Mohammed Mosaddegh, who wanted to nationalize Iran’s oil industry.  (Blood for oil on a smaller scale, perhaps?)   In any event, the Shah returned from exile days later.  He was eventually overthrown in the 1979 Revolution which gave us Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, the predecessor of our current beloved,  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Unhappily–unless they’ve gotten a grip as I type–the US media remains mum.  But why?  This is a big H U G E story.  I don’t know about you, but I’d like to know whether there really are dirty bombs swimming up the Bab el Mandeb (anywhere near Somalia!) through the Red Sea before hitting the Suez Canal.  Is it just that the US media is too consumed with studying its collective navel, or does someone not want us to know?  Even if the intelligence were false–there have been rumors swirling ’round the Internet about a Yom Kippur plot–I’d like to know, thanks.

* Which news org I didn’t bother to check because I’m hackin’ up a lung here.  Pulled back muscles doin’ it, too. (Either that, or the  remaining lung is tunneling out below my left scapula.)

January 25, 2009 Posted by | Defense, Foreign policy, Gaza, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Obama administration, Palestinians, politics, US Navy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bush Administration Lied about Terrorists Returning to Battlefield

I shouldn’t be surprised.  I mean, Bush, Cheney, the Pentagon, lying all these years. What’s new, right?

(Unless you want to see the whole thing, start the video at about 3:26)

Rachel Maddow, who makes me wish I have cable news, says the outgoing administration (with the help of Susan Crawford)  created “a complete if not cogent argument”  for keeping the terrorists we tortured from being released from Guantanamo.  Holding men you can’t convict certainly isn’t quite the cogent argument, in my opinion. It merely smacks of, oh, an authoritarian government like Egypt’s.  Following the rule of law with respect to torture means actually following the rule of law.  I think we should release people we’ve tortured. It might teach us not to torture. *

I looked up Maddow’s guest, Professor Mark Denbeaux–because that’s what I do, I’m curious–and I found rather interesting material:  “REPORT ON GUANTANAMO DETAINEES: A Profile of 517 Detainees through Analysis of Department of Defense Data“: his statement before The Senate Armed Forces Services Committee in April last year (a Word.doc well worth downloading) in which he said,

[Y]ou don’t have to be a combatant to be an enemy combatant, to be the worst of the worst, to be held in Guantanamo. But you also don’t have to be a member of al Qaeda. It turns out that 60 percent of all those detained in Guantanamo are not even accused by the United States government of being fighters for or members of either al Qaeda or the Taliban.”

Denbeaux’s article CAPTURED ON TAPE: Interrogation and Videotaping of Detainees in Guantánamo, a vivid and chilling discussion of the over 24,000 Guantanamo interrogations captured on tape that made my skin crawl.

NationMaster Encyclopedia on the Web also has a whole slew of articles and books by Denbeaux listed on its site as well. I was hoping they’d lead somewhere, but no such luck. There are synopses in case you’re interested, though. Just move your mouse over the link(s).

* Never mind that the number of released detainees tracked by Professor Mark Denbeaux who have gone back to the battlefield is “tiny.”  We just shouldn’t torture.  Ever.  And we should prosecute those among us who have authorized torture.

Update: (Naturally I found another article after I hit “Publish.”) “SETON HALL LAW REPORT: DEPT. OF DEFENSE DATA REVEALS NO RELEASED GUANTÁNAMO DETAINEE EVER ATTACKED ANY AMERICANS: Dept of Defense’s own data rebuts Justice Scalia’s claim that 30 former GTMO detainees ‘returned to the battlefield’

January 21, 2009 Posted by | Armed Services Committee, Bush administration, Congress, Executive branch, Geneva Conventions, Guantanamo, Senate, torture, war crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’d like to say it’s prescient

but still,  the essay is well worth reading: “How Bin Laden Bankrupted America: The Five Ways” by Jon Basil Utley

I can remember writing something to the effect back in 2002-ish after Bin Laden’s “Letter to America” was published– on an old e-list that no longer exists–that Bin Laden was brilliant.*  That he hated Saddam and would never work with him, but would allow us to think so if it would both ruin Saddam and us.

The text of Bin Laden’s letter provides a map of his brain, to some extent.  He lists our shortcomings–our sins and venality and meddling–and advises us that we have compromised our values–although in 2002 most Americans didn’t yet know the half of torture, extraordinary rendition,  and least of all the lies about WMDs in Iraq.  At the very end,  he says what wants to happen (or believes will happen):

If the Americans do not respond, then their fate will be that of the Soviets who fled from Afghanistan to deal with their military defeat, political breakup, ideological downfall, and economic bankruptcy.

In this respect, he’s looking back at history.  The Soviets were defeated.  The British were defeated at Herat in 1880, although it was India that did in the empire.  The Center for Strategic and International Studies has published a plan for winning the Afghan War, but given our current economic circumstances, I don’t think we can afford that war.  We might be able to afford to chase Bin Laden down via covert ops,  but we can’t deal with war on the scale it would take to remedy the connected situations in Pakistan and Afghanistan–unless you treat war as an extended employment opportunity, which I hope you do not.

Just my nickel.

* I think it might be a good idea to fact-check Bin Laden’s claims. You know, see how much is real and how much isn’t. There is truth to some of what he writes, but he does have a warped POV so you have to take that into consideration. Maybe some day if I have time.  (Off to study more medical terminology now…)

January 19, 2009 Posted by | Bush administration, Economy, Foreign policy, India, Iraq, Iraq War, Russia, torture, WMD | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment