Thursday, March 31, 2011

CIA Doesn't Wear Boots

The Guardian headline read "Robert Gates:  No U.S. boots on ground."  Apparently, the CIA doesn't wear boots.  Does Khalifa Hifter, who lived for twenty years within walking distance of CIA's Langley operation?  What is proper footwear for fighting on the ground in Libya? 

Meanwhile, a Chinese newspaper gave Gadhafi a chance to be heard:  He offered an "oil threat" to nations involved in military action.  Gadhafi is apparently unaware, the West always gets its oil.  Look for NATO to level the fighting field for rebels, which requires people on the ground. 

I'm sure they'll find a way to warn Gadhafi, giving him a chance to escape the country and war crimes prosecution.  Does anyone have Gadhafi's shoe-phone number?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Libyan Chalabi?

Three weeks before bombs fell over Libya, Iraq's Ahmad Chalabi opined in the WSJ:

The news from Libya is an all-too-chilling reminder of those dark days in Iraq. (Up to 330,000 Iraqi civilians were killed by Saddam's brutal tactics, which included using helicopter gunships to strafe neighborhoods and tanks to blast schools, hospitals and places of worship.)  It is no coincidence that Gadhafi often mentions Iraq in his tirades. He knows how Saddam clung to power by sheer brute force while playing on the West's fear of instability.

The Libyan regime has already used aircraft against unarmed protesters, among other atrocities. That's why it is imperative for the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over the most populous areas of Libya.

Two days before President Obama and allies implemented the Libyan "no fly zone", I wrote the following to a friend:

The U.S. had people in Afghanistan the day after 9-11, well before any UN resolutions.  If we wanted to help Libya's freedom fighters, the CIA long had methods for doing so. 

Once the no fly zone is established, it should take little time to decimate Libya's woeful air power, assuming Uncle Sam isn't lying.

The U.S. assessment of Libya's air capabilities:

"Only a small number of aircraft were actually flying. A Pentagon analysis of Libya's air capabilities shows the overall readiness of Libyan aircraft is poor by western standards and most aircraft are now dated or obsolete in terms of avionics or upgrades. Eighty percent of the air force is judged to be "non-operational and "overhaul and combat repair capability is also limited."

So what's next?  U.S. et al control air space over part of a country with a heinous dictator.  The global economy squeezes Gadhafi financially forcing his people to suffer, another humanitarian crisis.  Ask Madeline Albright about 500,000 Iraqi children, who died due to lack of medicines and/or safe drinking water.. 

The U.S. might have credibility under human rights if it didn't summarily execute thousands of people via drone fired missiles or systematically torture prisoners of war (renamed enemy combatants), renditioning them to countries known for torture, like our ally Egypt.

Libya is a terrible situation.  Gadhafi has long been nuts.  It just looks like an early Iraq and we know how that turned out.  I'd like to see the whole U.S. plan on Libya, not just the "humanitarian aid" marketing spiel. 
Fitting the early Iraq analogy, the U.S. sent the Libyan version of Ahmed Chalabi to help Libyan rebels. Khalifa Hifter, a former Libyan military leader, spent the last twenty years living in a D.C. suburb.  Newspaper reports make no mention of Hifter's work in the U.S.  Did the CIA have Hifter on its payroll, like Chalabi?  Did Hifter help the opposition set up a Libyan Oil Company and Central Bank two days after the UN Resolution?

WaPo reported:

Officials said Wednesday that President Obama has issued a secret finding that would authorize the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and other support to Libyan opposition groups.
NYT reported CIA operatives are on the ground in Libya, like they were in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Central Intelligence Agency has inserted clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and to contact and vet the beleaguered rebels battling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces, according to American officials.
AlJazeeraEnglish discounts the West's ability to influence Libyan rebel leaders:

NATO's nurturing of the Libyan opposition means only one of two: Afghanistan's Karzai or Iraq's Chalabi.
 It looks more Chalabish at this point.  Violence causes more violence.  Military intervention kills, as do economic sanctions and no fly zones.  The score for Iraq pre-2003, Saddam killed 330,000 Iraqi civilians, the West 500,000 Iraqi children.  Secretary of State Madeline Albright found that an acceptable price to pay.  I'm still waiting for the whole U.S. plan on Libya.  It trickles out day by day.

Update 1-30-12:  Obama created a humanitarian crisis, as predicted.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Arming Unknown Libyan Rebels

The Guardian reported:

The US and Britain have raised the prospect of arming Libya's rebels if air strikes fail to force Muammar Gaddafi from power.

At the end of a conference on Libya in London, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said for the first time that she believed arming rebel groups was legal under UN security council resolution 1973, passed two weeks ago, which also provided the legal justification for air strikes.

America's envoy to the UN, Susan Rice, said earlier the US had "not ruled out" channelling arms to the rebels.

The British foreign secretary, William Hague, agreed that the resolution made it legal "to give people aid in order to defend themselves in particular circumstances".

The west's main Arab ally, Qatar, also said providing weapons to Gaddafi's opponents should be considered if air strikes failed to dislodge him. The Gulf state's prime minister, Sheikh Hamad Al-Thani, said the effect of air strikes would have to be evaluated in a few days, but added: "We cannot let the people suffer for too long."
Yet, the Pentagon said the unknown opposition may have Al Qaeda and Hezbollah elements.  Are we back to "the enemy of my enemy is my friend?"  That didn't work so well in Afghanistan.  Who will the world arm to get rid of Gadhafi?  That's if Gadhafi doesn't take the offer to leave, avoiding a war crimes trial.

Update:  Libya's oil money can pay for rebel weapons, now that Treasury approved opposition oil sales.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Supporting Unknown Libyan Rebels (with an Oil Company & Central Bank)

CSPAN reported:

When asked at the Defense Department briefing about who the opposition rebels are, Vice Admiral William Gortney told the press that he did not know.  "We would like a much better understanding of the opposition but we don't have it," Gortney said. He said they are providing neither direct support nor is the U.S. "consulting" with those fighting Col. Gadhafi's forces.
So the U.S. Military doesn't know who is behind the new Libyan Oil Company and Central Bank? The U.S. Treasury is negotiating with the group. The President said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would meet with the Libyan opposition.  He went on to say:

We will safeguard the more than $33 billion that was frozen from the Qaddafi regime so that it’s available to rebuild Libya.  After all, the money doesn’t belong to Qaddafi or to us -- it belongs to the Libyan people.  And we’ll make sure they receive it.

They established a new oil company and monetary authority a mere two days after the United Nations Resolution.  Our Secretary of State clearly knows who "they" is, but the Pentagon doesn't?  Bizarre.  It's one heck of a conundrum.   

Update 8-25-11:  The U.S. plans to release $1.5 billion in seized Libyan assets to "relevant authorities."   

Update 8-28-11:  Libya's Rebel rulers promised to honor all legal oil deals.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Egyptian Revolution 1.0

"We can see a national dialogue begin, where the government of Egypt must take concrete steps for democratic and economic reform."--Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 1-30-11

AhramOnline reported Egypt's scales tipped away from democratic freedom::

The Egyptian cabinet today approved a decree-law that criminalizes protests, demonstrations and sit-ins that interrupt private or state owned businesses or affect the economy in any way.

The decree-law also assigns severe punishment to those who call for or incite sit-ins, with the maximum sentence one year in prison and fines of up to half a million pounds.

“This law would only be implemented during times of emergency law and those draft laws would be presented to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to issue a decree,” Magdy Rady, spokesman for the cabinet told Ahram Online.
This rings of "economic freedom," not personal liberty.  All an oppressive regime needs is a threatened state owned business to take away citizens' free speech rights.

Another loss of freedom is implied in the law, the monitoring of citizen communications.  Otherwise, how would the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces know who called for or incited a sit-in?

The Egyptian Revolution will remain at 1.0, with no upgrades in sight.

(Thanks to EPJ for the lead)

Update 3-28-11:  President Obama remarked in his speech on Libya. "There are places, like Egypt, where this change will inspire us and raise our hopes."  Harkens back to "Hope & Change"...

Monday, March 21, 2011

War with Libya: A British View

Interview with George Galloway.  A long line of Western leaders courted Gadhafi over the last five years.  They don't like being made the fool.

Raising questions about who benefits from U.S. policy is a longstanding American tradition.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Where's Congress in War with Libya?

The U.S. military struck Libya, alongside allied nations.  They sent over 100 cruise missiles on the basis of Arab League and United Nations resolutions.. That foundation is already fracturing.  WaPo reported:

The Arab League secretary general, Amr Moussa, deplored the broad scope of the U.S.-European bombing campaign in Libya on Sunday and said he would call a new league meeting to reconsider Arab approval of the Western military intervention.

Doesn't the Congress declare war under the U.S. Constitution?  The Guardian reported the U.S. position:

Admiral Mike Mullen, who we reported talking earlier to NBC, has made more comments now to CBS on what the outcome could be in Libya to CBS.

He says it's a possibility the situation could end up in a stalemate with Gaddafi clinging on to power. Mullen said the air mission in Libya was "clear and limited in scope" but said the future was "very uncertain".

The chair of the joint chief of staffs, said on NBC's Meet the Press that he recognised the possibility that Gaddafi could stay on, adding "It's very uncertain on how this ends."

He later told CNN's State of the Union programme that the operation "isn't about seeing him [Gaddafi] go".

Mullen acknowledged he didn't have a definitive answer on the political situation but said Gaddafi was more isolated than after the no-fly zone and an arms embargo were enforced. He said Gaddafi was "going to have to make some choices about his own future."

An interesting aside, the following nations were identified as hostile to the U.S. by the Project for the New American Century:  North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria. Obama has one PNAC adviser, Dennis Ross.

What are America's criteria for intervening in the Middle East-North Africa, given numerous dictatorial regimes with spotty human rights records?   Once intervention is decided, what's the aim, from a militarily, political, economic and human rights standpoint?  How can those be achieved while minimizing death and suffering caused by war and internal conflict?  Maybe, Congress will answer these questions, when they get around to approving the war.

Update 3-22-11:  The Constitutional question over authority to declare war is the subject of a NYT piece.

Update 1-10-16:  While Congress was left out of the war declaration process, Tony Blair and Hillary Clinton were in the know. The West wanted Gadhafi's gold and to stop his plans for an African union with a dinar based currency, backed by gold.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Libya: Game On

AP reported:

U.S. and British ships and submarines launched the first phase of a missile assault on Libyan air defenses, firing 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles Saturday at more than 20 coastal targets to clear the way for air patrols to ground Libya's air force.
America in effect declared war on Libya.  Did Congress approve Operation Odyssey Dawn?

Once the no fly zone is established, it should take little time to decimate Libya's woeful air power, assuming Uncle Sam isn't lying in its assessment of Libya's air capabilities:

"only a small number of aircraft were actually flying. A Pentagon analysis of Libya's air capabilities shows the overall readiness of Libyan aircraft is poor by western standards and most aircraft are now dated or obsolete in terms of avionics or upgrades. Eighty percent of the air force is judged to be "non-operational and "overhaul and combat repair capability is also limited."

So what's next?  U.S. et al control air space over part of a country with a heinous dictator.  The global economy squeezes Gadhafi financially, forcing his people to suffer another humanitarian crisis.  Ask Madeline Albright about 500,000 Iraqi children.

The U.S. might have credibility under human rights if it didn't summarily execute thousands of people via drone fired missiles or systematically torture prisoners of war (renamed enemy combatants), renditioning them to countries known for torture, like our ally Egypt.

Libya is a terrible situation.  Gadhafi has long been nuts.  It just looks like an early Iraq and we know how that turned out.  I'd like to see the whole U.S. plan on Libya, not just the "humanitarian aid" marketing spiel.  What's the aim?  By what method?

In addition to having a nutjob for a leader and a son who runs with the Bilderberg crowd, Libya has three unique conditions.  One, American branded global corporations courted the Ghadafi's, striking many deals. Two, oil comes out of the ground for $1 per barrel.  And three, most of Libya's sovereign wealth sits in domestic banks.

As for Madeline Albright, she knows about the use of power.  Temporary use could maker her alot of money. My guess is she's not alone.

The AP story spoke of the precision of cruise missiles, however past conflicts show they have a margin of error.  How many citizens might be killed from wayward cruise missiles, in the assault to protect Libyan citizens?  Surely, the Pentagon did the math.

The first missiles struck at 9:00 am Tripoli time.  What are people doing in coastal cities on Saturday morning?  Downing a plateful of "shock and awe"?

Other countries using a heavy hand on citizens are Yemen, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.  It remains to be seen what the U.S. does in that regard.

Update 7-1-11:  African Union leaders are divided over the Libyan situation.

Update 8-28-11:  Rebels declared victory over Gadhafi's forces and claim they rule the country.   Their ruling skills will determine if Libya ends up like Iraq

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Texas' Gun ExPerryment on College Campuses

The Texas legislature moved two gun bills forward.  One allows concealed weapons in buildings on college campuses, while the other gives licensed carriers the right to carry their gun in their car at their workplace.

While Texas enjoys gun loving Governor Rick Perry, most college administrators find "campus carry" a terrible idea:

In Oklahoma, all 25 public college and university presidents declared their opposition to a concealed carry proposal.

University of Texas President William Powers has opposed concealed handguns on campus, saying the mix of students, guns and campus parties is too volatile.
What about Texas Tech or Angelo State University?  Did they take a position and share it with Senator Duncan or Rep. Drew Darby?

Silence.  One might take a hint from Texas Tech's student government.

However, the official position remains a secret: 

Joseph Rallo, ASU's president, declined to offer his personal position on the issue at this point, noting that it was an "evolving process."

"Every campus in Texas is basically asking the same question, and that is 'What is the student perspective?'"
Dr. Rallo is the President of a 6,000 student university.  It's much more than a personal position.  At least his Campus Police Chief is on record (multiple times) declaring the law a bad idea.

A majority of ASU students opposed the law.  However, the first poll wasn't enough, given a response rate of 11%.  Funny, 7% of voting age Texans amended the state constitution to ban gay marriages.

Concealed carry is now the subject of an ASU on-campus debate, after which a second poll will be taken.  That one will be sent to Rep. Darby.

Meanwhile, others took a stand:

The Texas Association of Community Colleges opposes the measure.
Eventually Dr. Rallo and Rep. Darby will take a stand.  How many polls will the ASU student body take to get the answer they wish to forward?  The bill may pass before they officially weigh in.

Update 4-9-11:  In the third poll on the issue, 67.4 percent of ASU students chose to not allow concealed handguns on campus.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Beck Changes Japan Sign: From Soros to God

Glenn Beck blamed the overreaction to the Japanese radiation scare on George Soros.  A day later Beck called the quake and tsunami a possible "message from God."  Fox took down video of Beck's impromptu sermon.

CNBC's Larry Kudlow offered:

'The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that."
Rapper 50 Cent tweeted offensive jokes to four million Twitter followers after the quake.  Meanwhile, Gilbert Gottfried lost his AFLAC gig for tweeting offensive Japan jokes.  Gov. Haley Barbour's press secretary resigned for an e-mail with Japan tsunami/Janet Reno sex jokes.

In some ways our society seems brittle, where the slightest transgression is met with a guillotine.  The aforementioned 50 Cent donated proceeds from a 2005 gig to charity because it was associated with Muammar Gadhafi's clan.   The London School of Economics sacrificed Howard Davies while the media skewered The Monitor Group for their Libyan ties.

In others areas, society is completely elastic.  A slew of political and corporate bigwigs did business with Gadhafi, suffering no apparent consequence.  Wisconsin, Michigan, Mississippi and Texas governors and legislators can take away rights and essential services with nary a care.  Mississippi Governor Barbour disavowed any prior knowledge of his staffer's offensive e-mail and said he didn’t know of the controversy until he was asked. 

Once Barbour gets a little distance from the Japan quake, he may weigh in, like he did on the Civil Rights movement:.

"I just don't remember it as being that bad," Barbour said of the struggles of the Civil Rights movement. Of the Citizens Council, a prominent pro-segregation group, Barbour said: "Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders".
The Becks, Barbours, Bakers and Blairs of the world are elastic.   Their sponsors ensure it.  I don't see God in their money changing game.

Update 3-15-11:  Rush Limbaugh joined the Tomfoolery.  Of course, that is his job.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Freedom to Be Confused in the Middle East

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal confirmed Saudi Arabia will "cut off any finger" raised against it.  Prince Faisal referenced Iranian foreign interference in Shiite citizen protests, according to Asharq Al-Awsat

U.S. President Obama, encouraged citizen protests in Iran.  Prince Faisal had this to say about Iranian protests:

"As for Iran, we hope that it deals with the demonstrations that are taking place in its own country." He added "In Saudi Arabia we don’t have any demonstrations such as those in Iran, and I reiterate what I said before, we will not tolerate any interference in our internal affairs by any foreign party…and if we find any foreign interference, we will deal with this decisively." 
Iran perpetrates violence on demonstrators, as does Saudi Arabia, which opened fire to disperse a protest.  The Prince stressed "reform does not come via protests and [the clerics] have forbidden such protests since they violate the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet."

"Change comes via the citizens of this country, not in accordance with the dictates of foreign parties" stressing that "our people have been living in this country since the time of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and they know their interests and requirements and how to reach their objectives. We aim to protect their independence and interests." 

How does change come via citizens in Saudi's monarchy, especially if they have no right to be heard?   Longtime Middle East tamperer Ryan Crocker weighed in on the protests, using a medical analogy:

“I think every country in the region has had or will have demonstrations.  It’s like hay fever; it’s everywhere, it’s pervasive.”
Speaking out against heavy handed, corrupt rulers is like hay fever?  Ryan Crocke should know.  His career in the Bush administration focused on delivering medicine in the form of business to politically connected Western companies.  The Obama team continued Bush's "economic freedom" mantra, sending Treasury's Neal Wolin scampering across the Middle East.

Prince Faisal offered a domestic version of "economic freedom" to quell the masses.  However, the Saudi carrot comes with a stick:

Last month, the ultra-conservative government announced an unprecedented economic package worth an estimated $36 billion that will give Saudis interest-free home loans, unemployment assistance and debt forgiveness. It also has reiterated that demonstrations are forbidden in the kingdom because they contradict Islamic laws and society's values and said security forces were authorized to act against anyone violating the ban.

Aren't Iran and Libya Islamic?  Why would the Saudi's, guardians of Mecca, act like demonstrations elsewhere are OK?  Here's Prince Faisal's take on Egypt:

"The relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Egypt is a close and strategic one, [it is] a fraternal relationship, and therefore the internal [political] developments in Egypt will not affect our relations. We will stand by and engage with any leadership selected by the Egyptian people, and we will continue our strong relationship with Egypt which is in the interests of both of our countries and peoples, as well as in the best interests of the region and the Arab and Islamic world."

On Libyan unrest and the call for a no-fly zone:

The Saudi Foreign Minister said that this issue will be decided by the Arab League. He added that the most important thing is "to stem the bloodshed" in Libya and protect the country's unity. 
How will the Arab League handle leaders who fire on their citizens?  They have a long list in their midst.  The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) may provide a clue.  It recently weighed stability aid to Bahrain and Oman. Disturbing video from Bahrian (added 3-17-11):

Did Neal Wolin push the GCC to offer money instead of freedoms?

It's clear economic freedom has the upper hand amongst Middle Eastern leaders.  Who wants access to Libya's cheap oil, which CNBC reported costs $1 per barrel to produce?  With oil over $100 a barrel, that's one Golden Goose.  We're back to square one, enrichment of leaders and corporations, the very thing that incensed the populace.  

Manipulating forces remain and they'll say or do anything to get their way.  It can be as maddening and obfuscating as the official Saudi or U.S. government line.  

Update 3-12-11:  The Arab League asked the United Nations to impose a no fly zone over Libya.  President Obama hailed the request.