Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 
Thursday, March 20, 2003

Iraqi Oil

Fox is reporting that Iraq has set its oil wells on fire.

I've got an idea on how to deal with this in a way to let the world know once and for all that it's not about oil.

Let 'em burn.

The French want the oil; let them deal with the fires. Seems fair to me.

Of course, we'd be more than happy to help them extinguish the blaze, like we did in Kuwait, but we're a little tied up right now. But I'm sure we could work a deal, send them some tech support folks for a few billion dollars or so.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Target of Opportunity

We hit Iraq at about 9:30 EST. According to the Pentagon, we got intelligence about when and where Iraqi leaders were meeting, and took advantage of it.

It remains to be seen whether the strike was successful or not, but it appears to have been aimed at Hussein, his sons, and two other key aides.

This suggests two things to me. Assuming of course that the intel was accurate, either we have human intelligence resources (spies) operating inside Baghdad, possibly even in Hussein's inner circle, or members of Hussein's government are turning on him and providing info to the US. Either possibility increases the chances of a short, relatively bloodless campaign.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Recruitment in California Schools

California schools are urging parents to opt out of a system which notifies the military of the names and phone numbers of high school juniors and seniors eligible for service.
An amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act requires public high schools to give military recruiters the names and phone numbers of juniors and seniors — unless their parents say no. If school officials don’t provide the information, they risk losing millions of federal dollars.

But the San Francisco and Los Angeles school districts are engaged in an active campaign to let parents know they have the right to decline.

"We are complying with the law, but we are also making clear to our parents that … they have the opportunity to opt out of it, to choose not to have private information provided to the military," said Jill Wynns, a San Francisco Board of Education commissioner.


As a conservative and a veteran of the all volunteer Navy, I suppose I should be outraged.

But I'm not.

The decision whether or not to make that information available to local recruiters should be up to the parents first, then the child.

Not the school, and not some legislature.

In fact, I have more trouble with the law itself than with the school system spending money to fully inform parents about the law, and their rights under it.

Posted by Rich
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Serb Prime Minister Assassinated

Actually, I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic -- who spearheaded the revolt that toppled former President Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000 -- was assassinated Wednesday by gunmen who ambushed him outside the government complex, police sources said.

Djindjic, 50, died in a Belgrade hospital after having been shot in the abdomen and back.


This guy had a lot of enemies. He handed over Milosevic to the UN; he targeted organized crime; he was going after Mladic; he supported closer ties with the West over Russia. There were a lot of people who wouldn't mind seeing him dead.

The key question is who got to him.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, March 10, 2003

Crisis resolved

Well, during my brief hiatus, (Yes, the new washer is installed and churning through the back log), I underwent a crisis of conscience, or maybe just pre war cold feet. I kept hearing a small voice asking questions:

"What if war is the wrong answer?" Maybe the US is wrong, and France and Germany are right. Maybe inspections are containing Hussein. Even if he didn't destroy all of his weapons, he hasn't used them, and certainly can't be making new ones. Maybe that's good enough. Maybe we shouldn't invade. It would be nice to believe that we could bring all our boys home, no shots fired, no casualties, and believe that the UN would act to continue this "containment."

Then I read stories like this:
This time, she gave the bribe to the Iraqi officer, but instead of waving her on, he wordlessly took out a knife and slashed open the bag. As kerosene poured over her shoulders, soaking her clothes, a "tall, fat, dark man"–the director of the checkpoint–strode toward her. He did not say anything, and his face was emotionless as he flicked open a cigarette lighter and set her ablaze. "I was screaming with pain and tearing off my clothes because they were on fire, and he was just looking at me, watching me, and he did not do anything," she recounts from her hospital bed.


And this:
"Saddam intends to issue these uniforms to Fedayeen Saddam troops who would wear them when conducting reprisals against the Iraqi people so that they could pass the atrocities off as the work of the United States and the United Kingdom," Wilkinson said.


And I remember stories like this:
American forensic anthropologist Dr Clyde Snow told the UN Commission on Human Rights of his reports showing that 100,000 to 200,000 Kurds have disappeared and are believed murdered by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime. (920304)


And this:
One of the most horrific examples of this is the March 1998 massacre of an estimated 5,000 Iraqi civilians in Halabja by Saddam’s forces, in a brutal chemical weapons attack utilising mustard gas and nerve toxins. "Entire families were wiped out and the streets were littered with the corpses of men, women and children", reported the Washington Post (24/3/88). "Other forms of life in and around the city - horses, house cats, cattle - perished as well."


And I know that Hussein must be removed. These all occurred during inspections and UN sanctions. How can we say containment works, unless we are willing to say that Hussein has the right to torture, maim, and murder with impunity, as long as it is within his borders? I just can't make that argument.

The man is a monster, and must be put down.

But the little voice still wouldn't be quiet. "Is it our job to do it? Isn't that what the UN is for, to reign in rogue nations, and insure international peace?" Yes, it is the UN's job, and they've done it before. They intervened in Bosnia, for a similar cause, to prevent ethnic cleansing, torture, and murder. "Never again," was the battle cry of the UN.

But no longer, it seems. Just today, France said they would veto any new resolution, no matter what.
"Whatever happens, France will vote 'no'," Chirac said on France 2 and TF1 television in his first televised interview on the Iraq crisis.


"There could, effectively, be a majority of nine votes or more for a new resolution, one which would authorize war.

"If that was the case, then France would vote 'no'. France will vote 'no' because she considers tonight that there is no reason to wage a war to reach the goal we set ourselves, that is the disarmament of Iraq," he said in the joint interview.

The good news is that with that statement, Chirac just drove a stake through the heart of the UN vampire. The bad news is that there is no hope of obtaining UN sanction for disarming Iraq thorugh military intervention.

Undaunted, the voice continued. "OK, so the UN refuses to act, but surely the constant monitoring will keep the Iraqis from cooking up any nasty surprises, right?"

Wrong.
International weapons inspectors have stumbled upon a new kind of bomb in Iraq that could be filled with chemical or biological agents and strewn over populated areas, Fox News has confirmed.

Baghdad also may have in its possession a drone aircraft capable of spraying harmful agents over its enemies.

Armed with this new information, U.S. officials are expected to press chief weapons inspector Hans Blix to admit he has found a "smoking gun" -- the irrefutable evidence many countries have been looking for before they agree to wage war against Baghdad -- in a closed-door session of the U.N. Security Council on Monday.[Italics mine]


New weapons? Not old, stockpiled weapons but new ones? So much for containment. The inspection process has now verified beyond all doubt that Hussein is actively developing weapons banned by the UN. Not just passively resisting, or partially co-operating, but actively evading the inspections and breaking the terms of the cease fire.

It gets worse. Blix knew about this stuff when he gave his last report to the UN, saying Iraq was "actively co-operating" with the inspectors.

He lied.

Blix noted that Iraq is now providing inspectors with pro-active cooperation, something he had asked for repeatedly through the winter.


"The destruction undertaken constitutes a substantial measure of disarmament," Blix said. "We are not watching the destruction of toothpicks. Lethal weapons are being destroyed."


Nowhere in his oral presentation to the Security council did he mention these new bombs, or the fact that Iraq continued to manufacture them during, even while under sanctions. Nowhere did he mention the drone, which also violates UN sanctions.

Didn't even mention them. Buried them in the back of his report. Apparently, they weren't all that important to him.

He lied.

So the UN is dead, the inspections are a sick joke, and the inspectors' boss is a liar. I think that about does it for containment.

The voice was weaker, but still struggled to find another way out. "But can we do it on our own? Due to the delays while we tried desperately to ge tthe UN to do their job, Hussein has had months to prepare. We've moved the fight into the summer, which will make it more difficult, particularly since our soldiers will be fighting in their NBC gear, to protect against the chemical/biological weapons Hussein swears he doesn't have. Won't it cost us thousands of lives, and incur more thousands of civilian casualties?"

Apparently not.
TERRIFIED Iraqi soldiers have crossed the Kuwait border and tried to surrender to British forces - because they thought the war had already started.

The motley band of a dozen troops waved the white flag as British paratroopers tested their weapons during a routine exercise.

The stunned Paras from 16 Air Assault Brigade were forced to tell the Iraqis they were not firing at them, and ordered them back to their home country telling them it was too early to surrender.


I guess this answers one of the burning questions facing military planners: "Who can surrender fastest, the Iraqis or the French?"

There will be battles, and we will take casualties, but nothing like the pessimists think. Nobody wants to fight for Saddam. He fears his army more than ours; that's why he keeps them out of Baghdad. Once we attack, we'll see his army surrender, including the vaunted Republican Guard. Any small units which resist will be obliterated. We will control all of Iraq within days, not weeks. Once we control the country, we can take Baghdad, and begin smoking out all of the Ba'ath party, including Hussein. We will be helped by the Iraqi people, who are ready to get rid of Saddam. Then we can begin to help the Iraqis rebuild their government and their nation.

The voice fell silent. There were no more questions. However much we may hate the answers, they are the only ones left.

It needs doing; we're the only ones willing to do it; and we have the capability of doing it.

All that is left is to do it.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Terrorism close to home?

According to the News-Sentinel, two men were caught taking pictures of Norris Dam at 4 AM on Sunday morning.

Clark said the TVA officer conducted "an excellent field interview" of the two men, and tried to run their names through National Crime Information Center, but the computer was down. The officer had no authority to detain them because they were breaking no law, Clark said.

Later, when NCIC was back up, the officer ran their names again, obtained a "hit" on the bogus ID charge, and notified the FBI.


Apparently, they had used false documents to get driver's licenses from Virginia. They've both been caught now, and are in the hands of the FBI. In light of the video tapes from Spain, showing exensive reconnaisance of the WTC, I have to believe that something fishy was going on. Not too many tourists take pictures of dams at 4AM.

A while back, I wrote about the possibility of a terrorist strike taking place here, and said that the cahnces are small. Well, maybe they just got a little smaller.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Just when he thought it couldn’t get worse…

Russia is now giving signals that they won't block a second resolution authorizing force.
Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian Parliament's upper house, defended the need to give weapons inspectors more time, a position France and Germany hold, but he said he doubts the Russian ambassador to the United Nations would cast Russia's veto power in the Security Council.


Also, Blix has flipped again to saying that Iraq is not complying fully with the inspections.
Blix said Saddam hadn't made a "fundamental decision to disarm," though Iraq had made greater efforts to release more documents and data about its weapons program to inspectors.

"I do not think I can say there is evidence of a fundamental decision (to disarm), but there is some evidence of some increased activity," said Blix, who is preparing another Security Council report this week. "There is certainly more activity now."

"Full cooperation or a breakthrough? No. I don't think you can say that," he told reporters. "We have a very long list of disarmament issues and it will require a big effort in order to clarify all of those."


This guy changes direction faster than a weathervane in a tornado. Just yesterday, he was quoted as saying the Iraqis were showing signs of increased co-operation.

Momentum for military intervention is mounting, as the uncommitted voters on the UNSC begin to swing behind the US. Mexico's Vincente fox indicated that his country is leaning away from inspection and supporting the US position, a marked change from just a few days ago.

What does this do to SoDamn Insane? Put it this way; if he were a turnip, he'd be bleeding.

Posted by Rich
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Saudis are on board…

The news keeps getting worse for SoDamn Insane. The Saudis have agreed to allow the US to use the Prince Sultan Air Base as an air command center, as well as a base for certain unidentified US aircraft.
.”
In addition to the use of the air command and control center at Prince Sultan, 70 miles southeast of Riyadh, the Saudi capital, the agreements will allow the United States to fly refueling aircraft, AWACS surveillance planes and JSTARS battlefield radar aircraft from Saudi airfields, the sources said. The United States also will be permitted to use Saudi airfields to base fighter jets that undertake interception missions against Iraqi aircraft and that enforce the “no-fly” zone over southern Iraq.
A source said there also is a tacit agreement that will allow the United States to conduct bombing missions from Saudi Arabia in the days after an initial wave of U.S. air attacks as long as no public announcement was made.


SoDamn is toast, and sooner, rather than later.

Posted by Rich
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Whats a few miles between friends?

One of the anti war movements favorite defenses for Husseins latest violation of the cease fire terms is that the al Samoud 2 rocket only exceeds the limit by a few miles. It isn't really a threat to the US or our allies, so it isn't worth going to war over.

So much for that theory:

THE missile at the centre of the looming showdown between Iraq and the United Nations may be part of an ambitious secret project to develop a much longer-range missile that could hit Tehran or Tel Aviv, UN and independent missile experts believe.
The specifications of the al-Samoud 2 missile appear to have been designed so that it could be fitted with a second engine, making it a much more potent threat than previously realised, the experts have told The Times.


The article goes on to say that not only does the missile exceed the maximum range allowed by the UN, it is also wider than allowed, and uses a rocket engine specifically forbidden by the UN. The wider body would allow the missile to carry two engines, dramatically increasing its range and payload.

Now I uderstand why Blix has been uncharacteristically firm on the matter of the al-Samoud 2 rockets. It isn't just the few extra miles; it's the few extra millimeters, and what they mean.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, February 21, 2003

Turkey allows US forces in

According to Debka, Turkey has agrred to allow US forces to launch from there. There's no word on whether the UIS sweetened the pot or Turkey folded, but according to this article, the troops are already landing.

The report goes on to say some interesting things including this:
As for the urgency of the US-UK second Security Council resolution, its only importance for the US president is as a means of drawing some of the sting from the anti-war backlash preying on such war allies as Tony Blair. Privately, Bush has washed his hands of the world body. When the time comes, he intends to settle scores with the UN as well as with Germany, France and Russia for behavior which he sees as leaving America in the lurch.


This could get very interesting.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Psy war intensifies

We know, and now he knows we know. The question is, what is he going to do about it?
Three giant cargo ships are being tracked by US and British intelligence on suspicion that they might be carrying Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Each with a deadweight of 35,000 to 40,000 tonnes, the ships have been sailing around the world's oceans for the past three months while maintaining radio silence in clear violation of international maritime law, say authoritative shipping industry sources.

The vessels left port in late November, just a few days after UN weapons inspectors led by Hans Blix began their search for the alleged Iraqi arsenal on their return to the country.


Sailing in circles for three months, never pulling in to port, heavily laden with cargo that's never off loaded, maintaining radio silence in violation of law.

Nope, nothing to see here folks.

The question is, "Why has this been leaked now?" Is it to let SoDamn Insane know that we know where his toys are, and that he will not get the chance to use them? Is it to ratchet up the pressure on him another notch, eliminating one more option? Is it to show him that we're two steps ahead of him all the time, and his only recourse is capitulation?

Could be!

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, February 18, 2003

It’s working!

Iraq is beginning to crumble under the pressure. From Debka:
Adib Shaaban, the right hand of Saddam Hussein’s powerful son Uday, has defected.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly reports exclusively that this key member of Saddam Hussein’s administration, who was charged with his son’s most sensitive missions, traveled to Jeddah at the beginning of this week, saying he needed to put through some gold transactions ahead of the war.

From Jeddah, he flew to Beirut and… disappeared.

US intelligence sources report that Shaaban never really went to Beirut. He made his way under cover to Damascus Monday and was picked up by an unmarked plane for an unknown destination.

As Uday’s closest aide, he also managed a chain of official publications, including the authoritative Babel, and was in on the Saddam regime’s deepest secrets.

Uday commands the secret army known as Saddam’s Fedayeen, the backbone of Baghdad’s defenses and custodian of the weapons of mass destruction that were not smuggled out to Lebanon.

Uday is also the chief of the ruling Baath Party’s covert service.

Shaaban must therefore be a veritable treasury of Saddam Hussein’s secrets. In American hands, Uday’s chef de bureau would be even more valuable than the proverbial smoking gun.


This comes after yesterday's news that Saddam's defense minister has been placed under house arrest to foil an attempted coup.

The story goes on:
News of the arrest comes amid indications of a growing sense of apprehension that the Iraqi army, including members of the elite Republican Guard, might desert in the event of a U.S.-led attack on the nation.


Defections, coup attempts at high levels, army desertions...it looks like time is not Hussein's ally like he thought. I guess it's a race to see who crumbles first, Europe or Iraq.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Colin Powell and the UN

Excerpts from his presentation:
  • Iraq's behavior demonstrate that Saddam Hussein and his regime have made no effort — no effort — to disarm as required by the international community. Indeed, the facts and Iraq's behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction.
  • from the first audio:"We evacuated everything. We don't have anything left."

    Note what he says: "We evacuated everything."

    We didn't destroy it. We didn't line it up for inspection. We didn't turn it into the inspectors. We evacuated it to make sure it was not around when the inspectors showed up.
  • Here, you see 15 munitions bunkers in yellow and red outlines. The four that are in red squares represent active chemical munitions bunkers.

    How do I know that? How can I say that? Let me give you a closer look. Look at the image on the left. On the left is a close- up of one of the four chemical bunkers. The two arrows indicate the presence of sure signs that the bunkers are storing chemical munitions. The arrow at the top that says security points to a facility that is the signature item for this kind of bunker. Inside that facility are special guards and special equipment to monitor any leakage that might come out of the bunker.

    The truck you also see is a signature item. It's a decontamination vehicle in case something goes wrong.
  • At this ballistic missile facility, again, two days before inspections began, five large cargo trucks appeared along with the truck-mounted crane to move missiles. We saw this kind of house cleaning at close to 30 sites.

    Days after this activity, the vehicles and the equipment that I've just highlighted disappear and the site returns to patterns of normalcy. We don't know precisely what Iraq was moving, but the inspectors already knew about these sites, so Iraq knew that they would be coming.
  • Saddam Hussein also said that scientists should be told not to agree to leave Iraq; anyone who agreed to be interviewed outside Iraq would be treated as a spy. This violates 1441.
  • Iraq has now placed itself in danger of the serious consequences called for in U.N. Resolution 1441. And this body places itself in danger of irrelevance if it allows Iraq to continue to defy its will without responding effectively and immediately.
  • The Iraqis have never accounted for all of the biological weapons they admitted they had and we know they had. They have never accounted for all the organic material used to make them. And they have not accounted for many of the weapons filled with these agents such as there are 400 bombs. This is evidence, not conjecture. This is true. This is all well-documented.
  • Iraq's record on chemical weapons is replete with lies. It took years for Iraq to finally admit that it had produced four tons of the deadly nerve agent, VX. A single drop of VX on the skin will kill in minutes. Four tons.

    The admission only came out after inspectors collected documentation as a result of the defection of Hussein Kamal, Saddam Hussein's late son-in-law. UNSCOM also gained forensic evidence that Iraq had produced VX and put it into weapons for delivery.

    Yet, to this day, Iraq denies it had ever weaponized VX. And on January 27, UNMOVIC told this council that it has information that conflicts with the Iraqi account of its VX program.
  • In May 2002, our satellites photographed the unusual activity in this picture. Here we see cargo vehicles are again at this transshipment point, and we can see that they are accompanied by a decontamination vehicle associated with biological or chemical weapons activity.

    What makes this picture significant is that we have a human source who has corroborated that movement of chemical weapons occurred at this site at that time. So it's not just the photo, and it's not an individual seeing the photo. It's the photo and then the knowledge of an individual being brought together to make the case.


The case has been made. Iraq has not disarmed, has not cooperated fully with UN resolution 1441, and has no intentions of doing so. Hussein has WMD and will use them as soon as he considers it advantageous

But what about the war on terror? Did Powell make the connection between al Qaida and Iraq?
  • Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, an associated in collaborator of Usama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda lieutenants.

    Zarqawi, a Palestinian born in Jordan, fought in the Afghan war more than a decade ago. Returning to Afghanistan in 2000, he oversaw a terrorist training camp. One of his specialities and one of the specialties of this camp is poisons. When our coalition ousted the Taliban, the Zarqaqi network helped establish another poison and explosive training center camp. And this camp is located in northeastern Iraq.

    You see a picture of this camp.
  • Zarqawi's activities are not confined to this small corner of north east Iraq. He traveled to Baghdad in May 2002 for medical treatment, staying in the capital of Iraq for two months while he recuperated to fight another day.
  • Going back to the early and mid-1990s, when bin Laden was based in Sudan, an Al Qaeda source tells us that Saddam and bin Laden reached an understanding that Al Qaeda would no longer support activities against Baghdad. Early Al Qaeda ties were forged by secret, high-level intelligence service contacts with Al Qaeda, secret Iraqi intelligence high-level contacts with Al Qaeda.
  • His information comes first-hand from his personal involvement at senior levels of Al Qaeda. He says bin Laden and his top deputy in Afghanistan, deceased Al Qaeda leader Muhammad Atif (ph), did not believe that Al Qaeda labs in Afghanistan were capable enough to manufacture these chemical or biological agents. They needed to go somewhere else. They had to look outside of Afghanistan for help. Where did they go? Where did they look? They went to Iraq.


Again there's more, but do we really need it?

The case has been made. Now the UN needs to act or fade into oblivion like the League of Nations before it.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Contaminated blood supplies?

Why isn't this bigger news?
White specks were first found last week in bags of donated blood in the region covering Georgia and northern Florida. The problem appeared limited to about 4,000 bags manufactured by Baxter.

More particles were discovered Sunday in the Tennessee Valley Region. The Red Cross ordered the region, which covers middle Tennessee and parts of Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri, to quarantine 70 percent of its blood supply after the specks were found in 10 bags manufactured by Baxter.


I checked out the News Sentinel on line and they had the story, but it was pretty low on the page. Granted, the Columbia story is big news, but down playing a contaminated blood supply is probably not in the public interest.

According to the article, the contaminant is limited to a certain model of bags from Baxter, who claims that it is a natural blood product. The problem is that if this were a normal occurance, the Red Cross wouldn't quarantine the blood supply.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, January 24, 2003

Reunited

I just found out the Virginia Heinlein died on Saturday, Jan 18.

For those of you who don't know who she was, she was the wife of Robert Heinlein, one of the great American writers of all time. Calpundit has a quick rundown of who she was, and if you need to know who Robert was, go here, or here, or here.

As for me, I have to say that much of my personal and political philosophy is rooted in Heinlein's work. Since Ginny was an integral part of that work, inspiring several of his female characters, I owe as much to her as to him.

Now, after 24 years of being apart, they are together again.

Posted by Rich
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