- US Coast Guard to escort grain ship as the military is now being used against striking workers. This is the first time since 1970 and Nixon ordered troops during the postal strike. Between that and the indefinite detention, it’s a proud time to be an American!
- Conservative Huttese Gangster Rush Limbaugh defended attacks against Mitt Romney in regards to Bain Capital, but failed to mention that Bain Capital owns Clear Channel Media, and thus is paying Limbaugh $400 million
- The New York Times – Should we check facts occasionally? They’re seriously asking people that, instead of going “Of course we should, we apologize for sucking so much the past 25 years!”
- It turns out having a sign by your pool saying “Whites Only” IS racist!
- SOPA author Lamar Smith steals images
- Don’t like the service of your waitstaff? If you’re a rich bastard like John Castle, just break their finger and call them a schmuck!
- Angry people tweet Michelle Obama
- Cartoon of the Day:
I can never read this guy’s name…
The Obama administration has gone nuts having everyone use twitter accounts, particularly in the State Department. This obviously includes the State Department spokesman, who was fired last month for making a minor criticism of the administration’s treatment of Bradley Manning. It turns out that they didn’t take away his twitter account and has decided to make good use of it since then.
Here are some of my favorite posts that he’s made:
Who can forget everyone’s favorite birther Army man who refused to deploy for the service he signed up for because he was convinced President Obama was some illegitimate undocumented Kenyan-born Muslim Taliban Antichrist? Yes it was only a handful of months ago that Republicans and the Tea Partiers alike, led by Birther Queen Orly Taitz, went on a blind witch hunt to prove that our nation’s first African American president was in fact a scary black man who had used his voodoo magic to usurp the presidency (possibly because the devil made him do it). Clearly this was the most legitimate way to get President Obama impeached.
But who were these brave patriots coming out of the woodworks to condemn our Socialist Marxist president? Most of them were anonymous internet cowards who belonged to communities like Resistnet.com (an organization that’s now running away with its tail between its legs) and questioned the authenticity of the President’s birth certificate from the comfort of their retirement community’s library computer. But still there were others who led the birther charge through the lamestream media, wasting valuable minutes of Anderson Cooper’s time with their indefensibly crazy notion that the president was an actually Indonesian Communist born to a single mother and bred for the American presidency from birth, supported by a 40 year long conspiracy that has now lifted him from poor African street beggar to president of the most powerful country in the world.
Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin was one such coward, an army doctor who had signed up for military duty and trained for his deployment yet refused to participate in his military service because he so strongly believed that President Obama was not American’s legitimate Commander in Chief. Here he is on YouTube espousing his deeply-held yet sudden beliefs:
Who can forget classic television interviews like this one?
Despite losing appeal after appeal, both Orly Taitz and Lt. Col. Lakin were committed to exposing the truth that is President Obama’s illegitimate ruse, no matter that they were making themselves look more and more laughable by the day. Undeterred by official birth certificates or the truth both opponents of the president soldiered on to prove their point and hopefully take down one of the shaddowiest cabals of power out there.
Well, actually, like the sane among us expected, Orly Taitz was laughed out of court (on repeated occasions) and eventually went back to her dental/hairdressing business. And today we find that Lt. Col. Lakin is now pleading in court (or well, a court marshal more specifically) that he was a fool to believe that President Obama is not a natural born citizen. It was wrong of him to be a lying liar so he could avoid deployment, it was cowardly of him to call his COMMANDER IN CHIEF a Kenyan usurper, and it was incalculably retarded for him to have continued to push this issue in the media and in the courts for so long!
Now we hear Lt. Col. Lakin pleading with the Army to dismiss the case against him. He wants to serve his country again he protests! Forgive the fact that he disobeyed his orders for months and months. Forget the fact that for even longer Lt. Col. Lakin made television appearance after television appearance, a man trained by the United State Military now coming on the public airwaves DEFAMING the leader of the very country he signed up to serve and protect. Now after so long and so much losing in court Lakin just wants the military and the president to forget about him and what he did?
No Lt. Col. Lakin you fucking assdouche, that isn’t how this kind of shit works. Are you any sort of a brave responsible human being? You are fucking scum, and your cowardly fucking scum ways gave heed to a very small but vocal minority of people who, because of the fuss you were causing, believed in the batshit retarded rhetoric you and Birther Queen Taitz were spewing on FOX News and Rush Limbaugh. Your actions disgraced the president in the eyes of the country, you disgraced your own boss, and that’s not cool especially when that boss is the PRESIDENT. You took an oath when you became a soldier, hell you even served as a soldier long before Obama was elected, but now that there’s a black man in office you feel some kind of responsibility to stand up and tell him to go fuck himself?
History has already been written Lt. Col. Lakin, and the minstrel part you played on television made you and the Army look like traitors and fools. And now you just want the courts to forgive you. You had a year long lapse in judgement and for some reason you no longer felt it was necessary to honor your military oath. Yeah, like the country should just gloss over how much of a bigot and a coward you made yourself out to be. You face up to 3 1/2 years in military prison for the wretched treason you tried to enact against the president. Hell that is peanuts compared to the kind of time Lt. Bradly Manning is going to be serving for leaking classified documents.
Lt. Col. Lakin if you have even one ounce of fucking self-esteem in your body you will take your slap on the wrist punishment from the Army with your head up. I doubt this is the case given how you’ve sheepishly performed on television the past year, but you don’t ever chose to sign up for something as sterling and patriotic as active military duty only to sully the name and rank of the United States Army by railing against the newly elected president, no matter what his skin color. You’re going to get what’s coming to you and no amount of appeals will save you. Let it live as a lesson to anyone else who wants to act like a moron in the name of “truth”. Merry Christmas traitor.
As for the second attempt:
The last US combat troops have left Iraq, seven-and-a-half years after the US-led invasion, and two weeks ahead of President Obama’s 31 August deadline for withdrawal from the country.
The final troops to leave, 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, rolled in convoy across the border and into Kuwait this morning, officially ending combat operations which began in March 2003.
The Obama administration had pledged to withdraw troops to 50,000 by 31 August. CNN reported that according to the US military there are now 56,000 US troops in Iraq, meaning another 6,000 must leave if the US president is to meet his own deadline.
“By the end of this month, 50,000 troops will be serving in Iraq. As Iraqi security forces take responsibility for securing their country, our troops will move to an advise-and-assist role.
“And, consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi government, all of our troops will be out of Iraq by the end of next year.
Ah, notice that it says combat troops. The agreement being referenced is the 2008 U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, which states:
All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.
KHABARI CROSSING, Kuwait — A line of heavily armored American military vehicles, their headlights twinkling in the pre-dawn desert, lumbered past the barbed wire and metal gates marking the border between Iraq and Kuwait early Thursday and rolled into history.
For the troops of the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, it was a moment of relief fraught with symbolism but lightened by the whoops and cheers of soldiers one step closer to going home. Seven years and five months after the U.S.-led invasion, the last American combat brigade was leaving Iraq, well ahead of President Barack Obama’s Aug. 31 deadline for ending U.S. combat operations there.
Makes for a nice photo-op.
The U.S.-Iraq military pact that came into force in 2009 provides the legal basis for U.S. troops to be in Iraq. Under the agreement, all U.S. troops must be out by 2012. But U.S. negotiators say that even as the pact was being negotiated, it was considered likely it would be quietly revised later to allow a longer-term, although much smaller, force to remain.
There are currently 56,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, down from about 140,000 when Obama took office in January 2009.
With opinion polls showing Americans tired of nearly a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, any decision to extend U.S. military involvement in Iraq would be enormously risky for Obama, who is up for re-election in 2012.
Iraq’s military commander, Lieutenant-General Babakir Zebari, caused consternation last week when he said his troops would not be ready to protect the country until 2020, and that the United States should keep its forces there until then.
And then there’s the contractors:
….the State Department is planning to more than double its private security guards, up to as many as 7,000, according to administration officials who disclosed new details of the plan. Defending five fortified compounds across the country, the security contractors would operate radars to warn of enemy rocket attacks, search for roadside bombs, fly reconnaissance drones and even staff quick reaction forces to aid civilians in distress, the officials said.
This isn’t exactly going to fool the Iraqis, so it’s clear who the intended audience is.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — The United States is lifting a ban of more than a decade on military contact with an elite Indonesian special forces unit implicated in past killings of civilians and other abuses, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced Thursday, after meeting here with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia.
The decision to lift the ban and to take steps toward training the unit, called Kopassus, was reached after intensive internal debate among the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department over whether it had truly left its brutal history behind.
“Training” usually means contractors and this case is no exception as it has already been happening in Indonesia:
Detachment 88 was established after the 2002 Bali bombings carried out by militant network Jemaah Islamiah, which firmly placed Indonesia as a frontline state in the U.S.-led “war on terror.”
But the Western funding of an anti-terrorism unit in the world’s most populous Muslim nation can be sensitive. There have been reports of U.S. intelligence officers in Jakarta helping tap cell phones and reading SMS text messages of Indonesian civilians.
A U.S. embassy spokesman in Jakarta declined to comment, but a U.S. government document showed the unit had received technical support, training and equipment under the State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) program since 2003.
Jeremy Scahill has a post on the situation with Iraq
The State Department is asking Congress to approve funds to more than double the number of private security contractors in Iraq with a State Department official testifying in June at a hearing of the Wartime Contracting Commission that the Department wants “between 6,000 and 7,000 security contractors.” The Department also has asked the Pentagon for twenty-four Blackhawk helicopters, fifty Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles and other military equipment. “After the departure of U.S. Forces [from Iraq], we will continue to have a critical need for logistical and life support of a magnitude and scale of complexity that is unprecedented in the history of the Department of State,” wrote Patrick Kennedy, under secretary of state for management, in an April letter to the Pentagon. “And to keep our people secure, Diplomatic Security requires certain items of equipment that are only available from the military.”
What is unfolding is the face of President Obama’s scaled-down, rebranded mini-occupation of Iraq. Under the terms of the Status of Forces agreement, all US forces are supposed to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Using private forces is a backdoor way of continuing a substantial US presence under the cover of “diplomatic security.” The kind of paramilitary force that Obama and Clinton are trying to build in Iraq is, in large part, a byproduct of the monstrous colonial fortress the United States calls its embassy in Baghdad and other facilities the US will maintain throughout Iraq after the “withdrawal.” The State Department plans to operate five “Enduring Presence Posts” at current US military bases in Basrah, Diyala, Erbil, Kirkuk and Ninewa. The State Department has indicated that more sites may be created in the future, which would increase the demand for private forces. The US embassy in Baghdad is the size of Vatican City, comprised of twenty-one buildings on a 104-acres of land on the Tigris River.
Status of Forces Agreements (SOFAs) are treaties that have been used to keep military bases in countries for decades. When the one with Iraq was signed, a brawl broke out in Parliament:
A session of Iraq’s Parliament collapsed in chaos on Wednesday, as a discussion among lawmakers about a three-year security agreement with the Americans boiled over into shouting and physical confrontation.
The session was dedicated to a second public reading of the agreement, which governs the presence of American troops in Iraq through 2011 and which the Parliament is scheduled to vote on Monday. Even before the session began, legislators were apprehensive.
Not much to say about this other than that it’s surprisingly candid.
The Pentagon is amping up efforts to explain its war strategy in Afghanistan to an increasingly war-weary public.
“We are trying to get back to the Petraeus model that worked so well in Iraq,” said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.
Some creepy excerpts:
A curious line I found skimming through the most recent war supplemental:
For an additional amount for ‘Defense Working Capital Funds’, $1,134,887,000, to remain available until expended.
It sounded a little like one of those shady investment wings that large industrial corporations have been using, or in this context, a slush fund. I looked up some documents and found a few things, starting with this report (pdf) from the DoD comptroller. The stated purpose:
A. Revolving funds were established to satisfy recurring Department of Defense requirements using a businesslike buyer-and-seller approach. The generators of requirements justify the need for funds to the Congress, but are not always the organizations that execute the requirement. In some instances, the ”customers” or “buyers” contract with DoD “provider” or ”seller” organizations that have expertise in the service or product required, and operate under business financial management principles. Unlike profit-oriented commercial businesses, the revolving funds goal is to break even over the long term. Revolving fund selling prices established in the budget are stabilized or fixed during execution to protect customers from unforeseen fluctuations that would impact on their ability to execute the programs approved by the Congress.
Special Operations forces have grown both in number and budget, and are deployed in 75 countries, compared with about 60 at the beginning of last year. In addition to units that have spent years in the Philippines and Colombia, teams are operating in Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.
Commanders are developing plans for increasing the use of such forces in Somalia, where a Special Operations raid last year killed the alleged head of al-Qaeda in East Africa. Plans exist for preemptive or retaliatory strikes in numerous places around the world, meant to be put into action when a plot has been identified, or after an attack linked to a specific group.
This has been making me feel borderline insane for a while now. I’ve been able to find government documents acknowledging the existence of these forces under various special programs such as Section 1206, but I haven’t had a way of finding all of them. Congress is so awful about executive oversight that I’m not sure the extent to which they’re even aware for that matter. The authorization for operations in Pakistan for example are covered by one sentence about a “Pakistan counterinsurgency fund” in the annual defense authorization bill.
The report continues:
Special Operations commanders have also become a far more regular presence at the White House than they were under George W. Bush’s administration, when most briefings on potential future operations were run through the Pentagon chain of command and were conducted by the defense secretary or the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“We have a lot more access,” a second military official said. “They are talking publicly much less but they are acting more. They are willing to get aggressive much more quickly.”
The White House, he said, is “asking for ideas and plans . . . calling us in and saying, ‘Tell me what you can do. Tell me how you do these things.’ ”
The Special Operations capabilities requested by the White House go beyond unilateral strikes and include the training of local counterterrorism forces and joint operations with them. In Yemen, for example, “we are doing all three,” the official said. Officials who spoke about the increased operations were not authorized to discuss them on the record.
At least some of this is likely run by contractors, particularly the “counterinsurgency” training like they’re doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Jeremy Scahill provides additional details:
The expansion of special forces includes both traditional special forces, often used in training missions, and those known for carrying out covert and lethal, “direct actions.” The Nation has learned from well-placed special operations sources that among the countries where elite special forces teams working for the Joint Special Operations Command have been deployed under the Obama administration are: Iran, Georgia, Ukraine, Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Peru, Yemen, Pakistan (including in Balochistan) and the Philippines. These teams have also at times deployed in Turkey, Belgium, France and Spain. JSOC has also supported US Drug Enforcement Agency operations in Colombia and Mexico. The frontline for these forces at the moment, sources say, are Yemen and Somalia. “In both those places, there are ongoing unilateral actions,” said a special operations source. “JSOC does a lot in Pakistan too.” Additionally, these US special forces at times work alongside other nations’ special operations forces in conducting missions in their home countries. A US special operations source described one such action where US forces teamed up with Georgian forces hunting Chechen rebels.
Sources say that much of the most sensitive and lethal operations conducted by JSOC are carried out by Task Force 714, which was once commanded by Gen. McChrystal, the current commander of the war in Afghanistan. Under the Obama administration, according to sources, TF-714 has expanded and recently changed its classified name. The Task Force’s budge has reportedly expanded 40% on the request of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and has added additional forces. “It was at Mullen’s request and they can do more now,” according to a special forces source. “You don’t have to work out of the embassies, you don’t have to play nice with [the State Department], you can just set up anywhere really.”
Further reading on how this stuff works:
Anand Gopal: Afraid of the Dark in Afghanistan
Since long before the Islamist terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, a storefront mosque has been sitting on West Broadway in TriBeCa, a dozen blocks from the World Trade Center. No one seems to have ever minded its being there.
No one is known to have protested the fact that three blocks from ground zero, on Murray Street off West Broadway, there is a strip joint. It prefers to call itself a gentlemen’s club. A man stood on the street corner the other day handing out free passes to willing gentlemen.
On Church Street, around the corner from where Cordoba House would rise, there is a store that sells pornographic videos and an assortment of sex toys. A few doors east of the planned Islamic center, there is an Off-Track Betting office.
So what is all the fuss about? Starting with the mainstream on this, Bret Stephens at the WSJ enlightens us:
Opponents also argue that building the center so close to Ground Zero is an insult to the memory of the victims of 9/11. Germany has spent six decades in conspicuous and mainly sincere atonement for Nazi crimes. But it surely has no plans to showcase the tolerant society it has become by building a cultural center down the road from Auschwitz. Japan is no doubt equally disinclined to finance a Shinto shrine in the vicinity of the Pearl Harbor memorial.
Actually, Auschwitz is in Poland and the Poles turned it into a memorial site in 1947. As for the second example, the US has caused all sorts of problems with military bases on Okinawa since the end of World War II. For what it’s worth, Okinawa is something like a Japanese colony where one of the most horrifying battles in human history took place between the US and Japan, with Okinawans caught in the middle. The Japanese military forced many of them to commit mass suicide with grenades so they wouldn’t be captured.
WSJ readers hold similar opinions:
Which I guess puts one of the columns Bret Stephens cited into perspective:
One only need look at the current situations in Muslim-majority countries today, where non-Muslim minorities suffer human rights violations sanctioned under Shariah law, which dominates the constitutions of those nations. The reality of a supremacist system within Islamic culture should be enough to preclude any dialogue with those who live by the U.S. Constitution and subscribe to the modern culture of New York City.
In Asia, the SOFA is a modern legacy of the nineteenth-century imperialist practice in China of “extraterritoriality”-the “right” of a foreigner charged with a crime to be turned over for trial to his own diplomatic representatives in accordance with his national law, not to a Chinese court in accordance with Chinese law. Extracted from the Chinese at gun point, the practice arose because foreigners claimed that Chinese law was barbaric and “white men” engaged in commerce in China should not be forced to submit to it. Chinese law was indeed concerned more with the social consequences of crime than with establishing the individual guilt or innocence of criminals, particularly those who were uninvited guests in China.
Following the Anglo-Chinese “Opium War” of 1839-42, the United States was the first nation to demand “extrality” for its citizens. All the other European nations then acquired the same rights as the Americans. Except for the Germans, who lost their Chinese colonies in World War I, Americans and Europeans lived an “extraterritorial” life in China until the Japanese ended it in 1941 and Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang stopped it in 1943. But men and women serving overseas in the American armed forces still demand that their government obtain as extensive extraterritorial status for them as possible. In this modern version, extrality takes the form of heavy American pressure on countries like Japan to alter their systems of criminal justice to conform with procedures that exist in the United States, regardless of historical and cultural differences.
Rachel Cornwell and Andrew Wells, two authorities on status of forces agreements, conclude, “Most SOFAs are written so that national courts cannot exercise legal jurisdiction over U.S. military personnel who commit crimes against local people, except in special cases where the U.S. military authorities agree to transfer jurisdiction.” Since service members are also exempt from normal passport and immigration controls, the military has the option of simply flying an accused rapist or murderer out of the country before local authorities can bring him to trial, a contrivance to which commanding officers of Pacific bases have often resorted. At the time of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington in September 2001, the United States had publicly acknowledged SOFAs with ninety-three countries, although some SOFAs are so embarrassing to the host nation that they are kept secret, particularly in the Islamic world. Thus, the true number is not publicly known.
The Red Cross has confirmed the US has a secret prison at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan
28% of Republicans said the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico made them more likely to support drilling off the coast to an equal 28% who said it made them less likely to be supportive. In other news, 28% of Republicans are more likely to eat lead paint.
Teabaggers have hijacked Maine’s GOP platform. No word yet on how the two GOP senators from there feel, but after they get primaried out in 2012 and 2014 by nutballs we’ll welcome the new Democrat senators from Maine with open arms. The best part about the platform is how it randomly namedrops Ron Paul.