No, this is not The Onion. No, this is not a rip-off of The Onion. This is not satire. This is the plea from Iraq’s Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior, Minister of Defense and the Minister of National Security Affairs. All of whom happen to be the same person: Nouri al-Maliki.
Iraq is what he describes as a “vibrant democracy” in a New York Times op-ed in anticipation of a visit to the U.S. and a meeting with President Obama this week.
Maliki says he’s fighting terrorism. Al-Qaeda is in Iraq killing the Iraqi people, he explains. “It has been almost two years since American troops withdrew from Iraq. And despite the terrorist threats we face, we are not asking for American boots on the ground,” he writes. “Rather, we urgently want to equip our own forces with the weapons they need to fight terrorism, including helicopters and other military aircraft so that we can secure our borders and protect our people. Hard as it is to believe, Iraq doesn’t have a single fighter jet to protect its airspace.”
Now if arming a Middle Eastern country with a solid history of sectarian violence sounds vaguely familiar and like an acutely bad idea—it’s because we’ve done it before. In Afghanistan in the ‘80s, we armed the Mujahedeen to aid their fight against the Soviets. And when we invaded the country a decade later, we were met with our own weapons. Poetic.
Once you get into the world of intelligence, anything is possible, including the idea that this agent may be lying to divert us from something else.(It doesn't help that British authorities have classified the details of UN weapons expert David Kelly's death for 70 years.) Because of this and so many other unanswered questions about Kelly's death, this is a very interesting development for those of us who believe the evidence for invading Iraq was fabricated:
The mystery over the death of David Kelly took a further twist last night after a former KGB officer said he had evidence that the scientist did not commit suicide.
Boris Karpichkov, who worked as a Russian spy for 15 years before fleeing to Britain, has sent a dossier to Attorney General Dominic Grieve in which he claims to relay information from an ‘MI5 agent’ that Dr Kelly had been ‘exterminated’.
His move comes amid increasing calls from within the Coalition Government for a full, independent investigation into Dr Kelly’s death.
Mr Grieve has indicated that he is ‘concerned’ by the growing scepticism among experts about the official version of events.
Dr Kelly was found dead in woods near his Oxfordshire home in July 2003, after the Government exposed him as the source of a BBC report questioning Tony Blair’s case for war in Iraq.
There was no full coroner’s inquest – instead, Lord Hutton chaired a public inquiry which concluded Dr Kelly died from loss of blood after slashing his left wrist with a blunt garden pruning knife.
A number of doctors have since come forward to say that the incision could not have caused his death.
Mr Karpichkov, who sought political asylum in the UK in 1998 and now has British nationality, says he met the ‘agent’, Peter Everett, on dozens of occasions while carrying out work for Mr Everett’s company Group Global Intelligence Services, which hiredex-MI5 operatives for corporate detective work and infiltration.
In the document sent to Mr Grieve, Mr Karpichkov says that during one of their meetings, two days after Dr Kelly’s body was found, Mr Everett told him that Dr Kelly had been ‘exterminated’ for his ‘reckless behaviour’.
Mr Karpichkov, who says that Mr Everett indicated that he was an ‘active field operative’ for MI5, writes: ‘He told me that it was extremely uncomfortable, inconsistent and unusual for Dr Kelly to slash his arm in the way he did. He would have lost some blood, but it would not have been fatal.
‘He also claimed that it was not a coincidence that Special Branch officers were the ones who first appeared on the scene – they moved Dr Kelly’s body to another location, changed the original position of his corpse and took away incriminating evidence.
‘He added that the scene where Dr Kelly’s body was found was carefully arranged and completely “washed out”, including the destruction of all fingerprints. When I asked who was behind his death, he [Mr Everett] answered indirectly, saying the “competing firm”, which I took to mean MI6.’
RALEIGH, N.C. – The former president of Blackwater Worldwide and four other former officials at the embattled security firm were indicted Friday on federal weapons charges, partially the result of a raid two years ago by agents that rounded up 22 weapons, including AK-47s.
The indictment issued Friday charges Gary Jackson, who left the company last year in a management shakeup, along with four other former workers. The charges against Jackson include a conspiracy to violate firearms laws, false statements and possession of an unregistered firearm.
Also indicted were former general counsel Andrew Howell, former executive vice president Bill Mathews, Ana Bundy, who at one point had oversight of the firm's armory, and Ronald Slezak, who was hired to oversee documents related to the company's status as a firearms dealer.
The charges open a new front of the government's oversight of the sullied security company. Several of the company's contractors have previously been charged with federal crimes for their actions in war zones, but the company's executives have so far weathered a range of investigations.
A committee investigation of the company revealed that contracting personnel acquired hundreds of weapons, including more than 500 AK-47s, from a facility in Kabul that stores arms for use by the Afghan police. The contractors were not authorized to be armed.
Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill says if members of the U.S. military were involved in such actions they would face immediate and serious consequences.
"If one of the Army had gone out there with an AK-47 they were not supposed to have on top of a moving vehicle and shot a guy in the head and paralyzed him something would have happened in that chain of command," said Claire McCaskill.
"And if they had kept somebody on the force that had been using cocaine, that had been drunk, that had been charged with larceny that had done all these things these guys had done, they went out and killed Afghan people in the spring of 2009, something would have happened to them if they were in the military."
Senator McCaskill says most Afghans do not distinguish between private American contractors and members of the U.S. military.
She says reckless behavior by contractors is jeopardizing the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
"And what is killing me about this problem with Blackwater is we have two sets of rules and one image," she said. "And as long as we have two sets of rules and one image we are in trouble on this mission."
SHORTER Bob Kagan: "Obama's being a pussy about confronting China's massive military build-up."
China's defense budget in 2008 was $57 billion, or just under one-tenth of the US defense budget. In 2009, China will spend around $70 billion - or just over one-tenth of the US defense budget. It's a funny thing, Bob - when nation-states have a booming economy and a large geographical area with lots of well-armed neighbors, they tend to buy more weapon systems (the US government being the exception, we buy more weapons whether or not the economy is good). Neocons view this as "threatening" and want to negotiate over the barrel of a gun. Realists understand it as a natural progression of an evolving superpower and want to negotiate as a potential partner.
There have been a number of right wing protesters showing up at Democratic town hall meetings with guns over the past couple of weeks, even at events held by President Obama. Many have made note that countless people were shoved into cages called "free speech zones," or arrested at events held by former president George Bush for merely wearing anti-Bush t-shirts, yet people have been allowed to openly carry loaded weapons while protesting against Obama, for the most part without incident. How many of you have either posted or said aloud something along the lines of the following statement:
Can you imagine what would would have happened if a protester had brought a loaded gun to a Bush event?
Of course, that protester would have been tased, beaten, arrested and labeled a terrorist -- but times have changed:
Armed men seen mixing with protesters outside recent events held by President Obama acted within the law, the White House said Tuesday, attempting to allay fears of a security threat.
Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said people are entitled to carry weapons outside such events if local laws allow it. "There are laws that govern firearms that are done state or locally," he said. "Those laws don't change when the president comes to your state or locality."
Not everyone agrees:
"What Gibbs said is wrong," said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "Individuals carrying loaded weapons at these events require constant attention from police and Secret Service officers. It's crazy to bring a gun to these events. It endangers everybody." Read on...
Personally, I believe it's just a matter of time before one of these gun-toting, Fox News-inspired whackjobs take a shot at the president or a Democratic member of Congress.
A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company's owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."
In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting "illegal" or "unlawful" weapons into the country on Prince's private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.
These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes and other misconduct. Read on...
We've already seen this movie, and it has the same awful ending every time. But since these things tend to benefit the disaster capitalists, we'll see it again and again. Troops will die, corruption will be identified, the public will be outraged, the politicians will hold hearings - and nothing will change. What can you expect, really, when war zones are the ultimate free-market economies?
KABUL - Insurgents in Afghanistan, fighting from some of the poorest and most remote regions on earth, have managed for years to maintain an intensive guerrilla war against materially superior American and Afghan forces.
Arms and ordnance collected from dead insurgents hint at one possible reason: Of 30 rifle magazines recently taken from insurgents’ corpses, at least 17 contained cartridges, or rounds, identical to ammunition the United States had provided to Afghan government forces, according to an examination of ammunition markings by The New York Times and interviews with American officers and arms dealers.
The presence of this ammunition among the dead in the Korangal Valley, an area of often fierce fighting near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan, strongly suggests that munitions procured by the Pentagon have leaked from Afghan forces for use against American troops.
The scope of that diversion remains unknown, and the 30 magazines represented a single sampling of fewer than 1,000 cartridges. But military officials, arms analysts and dealers say it points to a worrisome possibility: With only spotty American and Afghan controls on the vast inventory of weapons and ammunition sent into Afghanistan during an eight-year conflict, poor discipline and outright corruption among Afghan forces may have helped insurgents stay supplied.
Police radio transmissions from Aurora, Colorado, depict the shooting tragedy as it unfolded early Friday morning. The audio is used under a creative common license from Radioreference.com
The following are some of the transmissions, and I caution you that the audio is very disturbing to hear, if you choose to listen, there are graphic descriptions of the scene inside the theater. The dispatcher who handled these calls deserves some sort of award for keeping it together, as do the rescue workers.
"They're saying somebody's shooting in the auditorium."
"They're saying there's just hundreds of people running around."
"Somebody's spraying gas in there, too."
"Need more officers inside theater nine."
"We got another person outside shot in the leg, a female. I got people running out of the theater ..."
"We need gas masks."
"I'm being told that he's in theater nine."
"Get out some damn gas masks for theater nine. We can't get in it."
"I need at least three or four ambulances brought in here."
"We need rescue inside the auditorium. Multiple victims."
"Notify all the hospitals. We have people coming in."
"Everybody inside: realize that behind the screens, those are open ... so you need to check behind those screens also."
Ten people were killed inside the Aurora theater while two others died at area hospitals. By Friday night, the bodies were removed from the theater and authorities started "the agonizing process" of notifying families, according to Police Chief Dan Oates.
The youngest of the injured, a 4-month-old boy, was treated and released from a hospital, the child's mother said.
As of Friday, 30 people remained hospitalized, 11 of them in critical condition, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said.
The wounded were being treated at five medical centers. Hospitals gave these accounts Friday afternoon:
-- University of Colorado Hospital had 23 patients, nine remaining in critical condition. Ten patients were treated and released.
-- Denver Health Medical Center received six patients. Three remained in fair condition and three were released. A patient was transported to the hospital later and was in fair condition.
-- Children's Hospital Colorado said it had six injured, ranging from critical to good condition. One patient had passed away.
-- Swedish Medical Center had three patients in fair condition. A 19-year-old man was treated and released.
-- Parker Adventist Hospital treated and released two patients.
Friday evening, the names of only two people who were killed were confirmed by CBS4. One was a male named Alex Sullivan, 27, of Aurora, and another was a Metro State University of Denver named Jessica Ghawi.
The U.S. Department of Defense says three members of the U.S. Armed Forces were wounded in a movie theater shooting in Colorado and one is unaccounted for.
The agency says a Navy sailor was injured and a male sailor who was at the theater early Friday morning cannot be located. The sailors are part of a Navy Cyber Command unit at Buckley Air Force base in Aurora.
Two Air Force airmen based at Buckley were also wounded, but their specific unit hasn’t been released.
The names of the deceased are expected to be released after their families have been officially notified by authorities.
Classmates: Holmes Was a ‘Loner’
Students at the University of Colorado Denver’s campus in Aurora are describing accused killer James Holmes as “quiet” and “a loner.” Holmes, a Ph.D. student who was studying neuroscience, is suspected of killing 12 and injuring dozens more at a screening of the latest Batman installment, The Dark Knight Rises. His high-school lab partner told reporters he was “a smart kid,” adding, “I never figured he'd do anything like this.” Neighbors in his university-managed building described him as unfriendly and quiet.