Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Obama Loses Round One

The four-year term to serve as a US president resembles a four-round boxing match. There is even an annual state of a union message that substitutes for a bell. Obama's first year in power demonstrated he is no Joe Lewis – he cannot throw a punch or take one. He has boobs in his corner as trainers and clumsy cut men; he bleeds every time he is hit and it does not stop. Just check his downwards spiral in the polls; his blood continues to flow.

Obama can score against his opponent if he stopped fighting wars on the enemies' terms and strictly curbed access by lobbyists to his administration. He could fire his kibbutz of hopeless economic advisors and officials whose actions were a major factor in the collapse of the US economy – these guys are at best flat examples of the Groucho Marx Show or if you prefer, unintentionally, the Three Stooges: Geithner, Bernanke and Sommers.

Obama's national security policy so far is not change, but continuity. He continues to keep SecDef Gates who is an I love GWB Republican. Gates was to be kept on as a transition figure for a limited time; however, last week we learned he is to stay on; talk of departure has ended.

Gates has not only eroded any hopes of fighting wars intelligently, with economy of force concepts, but actually enhanced massive deployments to Afghanistan. Gates is fiercely passing out contracts to mercenary firms. He also made Obama look foolish when he prevailed selecting William J. Lynn III as Deputy Secretary Defense; this is a man who is a gold-plated lobbyist. His selection opened the door for more lobbyists to flood his administration and was contrary to his campaign promises.

Packs of lobbyists managed to turn the Health Care bill into a lucrative incentive package for Big Pharma and Big Insurance. Just check their soaring stock prices since Obamacare became a possible reality. Even the progressives are gnashing their teeth over the foul bill.

There is now evidence that defense contractors spent millions lobbying and promoting the expansion of the self-destructive Afghan war. Is it true that what is good for the military/industrial congressional complex is good for the country? It remains a mystery why Obama did not stand his ground.

We have learned that our Vatican-sized embassy in Baghdad is to have its population doubled so our mercenaries can train Iraqi policemen. You mean to tell me the Iraqis cannot train their own police? Do you really need a Miranda act in Iraq? Despite optimistic promises of incipient democracy in Iraq, it is still the law of the club and fang in that country... SAVEUS PETRAEUS!

Racial relations with a black president should provide new approaches. There are proportionately more blacks in high places, but Obama's relationship with the black caucus is rocky, mainly due to failure to be sufficiently liberal from its standpoint. The president tried to over compensate by support of the black professor Gates over the Boston Irish cop Crowley; this was certainly a factor in the loss of the Democratic senate seat in Massachusetts.

His latest effort to rebuild Haiti will fall flat, as the US has its own economic priorities. Some argue racial tensions are worse as Tea Baggers openly attack Obama along racial lines. Personal threats on Obama are at the highest for a US president. None of this stuff is pretty and it tears the country apart.

At best the administration’s policies in the Palestine/Israel fracas, Iran, and North Korea are churning without progress. The Chinese continue to thumb their nose at the US gobbling up international raw material with cheap dollars. Latin America gets more leftist and pro Russia and China. With our Bosnian sniper heroine Hillary, keep your foreign policy expectations low.

When Obama staffed his administration with Clinton retreads and members from the Kibbutz, he was expected to bob and weave; he even missed that lesson as he was hit hard on all fronts. Let us hope we get fresh leadership in round two instead moon dancing with the ghosts of the past. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Baron Samedi Takes Charge in Haiti

Baron Samedi is a Voodoo spirit in Haiti in charge of death. Despite years of Christian missionary efforts to include the Roman Catholic Church, the best to be said is that god-fearing Haitians are apparent on Sundays and during the day. At night many revert to their historical African roots and practice voodoo; they dance to voodoo drums around bon-fires and indulge in blood sacrifices on animals, sometimes accompanying this with wild sexual behavior.

Baron Samedi is pictured as a skeleton dressed in a tall silk hat and tuxedo. Sometimes he has a cigar in his mouth and a glass of rum in hand; his nostrils are filled with cotton as the Haitians prepare their dead for burial – he is the guardian of the grave yards. His job is to insure the dead are buried in the ground to prevent that the unburied be turned into mindless zombies. This may explain what happened to the mindless followers of the Sarah Palin wing of the Republican party.

Haiti was hit recently by a devastating earthquake that destroyed or damaged one third of the structures, to include schools, hospitals and port facilities. Estimates of the number of dead range from 50,000 to a 200,000. You will probably never know the exact number killed; doubt the inept Haitian government ever knew how many Haitians live in the country. What is left of the defunct government is holed up, cringing, at the main airport at Port-au-Prince.

Haiti is the chronic sick man of the Caribbean. Other third-world nations in the area manage to take care of their citizens without dependence on endless charity from other nations. For whatever reason, the USA has taken on paternal responsibly for the enfeebled nation. It periodically invades and occupies the country in stabilization operations. A French minister wanted to know whether current US operation is aid or occupation.

The Monroe Doctrine could explain the reason for this fixation until Jimmy Carter with Republican Senator Luger's help pulled out of the Panama Canal. That move finished off what was left of the Doctrine. One reason is that the US wants to keep the Haitians in Haiti to prevent mass illegal immigration to the US mainland. This project has not worked that well, as we just learned the US suspended the deportation of 30,000 illegal Haitians from the US a few days ago. The most important reason, however, is to protect US investments and interests.

Before the earthquake, the country was stabilized by a large UN presence – that has been derailed. Thirty seven members of the UN delegation have been killed to include the top three members. Three hundred and thirty have been reported missing as of this writing. There are also a reported 10,000 non-governmental do-gooder organizations that worked there uncoordinated. Many are religious organizations there to save souls as well as administer to the impoverished country. Expect this number to grow in the ensuing frenzy.

Ex Presidents Bill Clinton and GWBush have been designated by President Obama to head fund raising to aid rescue and long-term reconstruction. GWB is a curious choice as he fell flat on his face during Katrina as much of New Orleans remains unrestored from flooding and wind damage. As far as Bill's record for fund raising for a tsunami, large sums of the money, though distributed, still remain in non-governmental organizational bank accounts. And of the 6.2 billion pledged an estimated 3.5 billion was never delivered.

Haiti overall is a savage country; nothing ever seems to work: there is no military organization, the police are corrupt, and the education system is dysfunctional. Fifty percent of the people make a dollar a day and another 35% make two dollars a day. They have no enforced building code, hence the damage to concrete buildings built with no rebar or with just minimum amounts. Urban planning is just a fairy tale. Bill Clinton argues that the UN, with the cooperation of the local government, were just doing fine before the earthquake... hmm, are you going to believe our disbarred lawyer Bill or your own eyes? After 5 days the authorities cannot organize themselves sufficiently to pick up dead bodies rotting in the streets.

Apparently large amounts of aid are piling up at the airport, because roads are impassable. As I witnessed Americans recently returned to the US at Homestead AFB by the USAF with stacks of luggage, I wondered how they got out but aid cannot get in. My sense: it is not the roads that are a problem, but the lack of security from the mobs when aid workers deliver food. This is especially true after two Dominican aid workers were shot while they tried to deliver food to the starving mob.

Humanitarian aid is not an endless proposition. The food and water has to replenished daily and someone has to pay for it. The USA with two wars, a broken infrastructure, massive unemployment and the most expensive heath care system in the world, has higher priorities. Let Hillary call on OAS and ask the African and European Unions and our Asiatic pals to do their share.

The US TV coverage of the horror is constant and is driving private sympathetic contributions. This coverage, as in the starvation of children in Somali years ago like Haiti now, also prompted a US intervention; and, that was a big mistake in Somali. Obama and his cohorts are assuring the Haitian people the US will not only come to their immediate aid, but also to support long term rebuilding. From where is the money to come?

There is a pathetic irony when the US Army general reports to the American people on how many bottles of water and meals-on-wheels he delivered in the last 24 hours. Makes you cringe. Is the Army going to issue Delivery Boy medals now?

Whether Obama likes it or not, ultimately, this long term commitment will be viewed by a majority of Americans as a narrow black solidarity policy and, like his support of the black professor over the white cop in Boston, it will backfire. His party has recently lost the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey and now the senator from Mass. It is not just due to the bungling of the health care bill.

Baron Samedi in an interview with THE VOODOO NEWS in Port-au-Prince, when asked his view of post-earthquake Haiti replied: LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Inside the Wire & False Security

Inside the wire in military jargon means that area located within its compound. The implication is that it is protected area, physically guarded and defended by technical security devices. It invokes an image of an area surrounded with razor wire, defended by claymore mines and illuminated at night with perimeter lights and trip flares. This mentality has been stretched to include headquarters of bureaucracies especially those belonging to the CIA and FBI; most likely now to include the orbiting anti-terrorist organizations spinning around Homeland Security.

The non-military entities are usually protected by uniform police, who check photo ID badges on entry and search carry-ins with magnetometers. Despite this scrutiny, both CIA and the FBI had their lunch eaten by the Soviet recruitment of CIA Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen at the FBI. Those two traitors beat the routine lie detectors and security up-dates. Both were at the heart of counter intelligence in their organizations and were high priority targets for the KGB. So you really never know who will inflict damage on the organization.

When the US falls flat on human intelligence collection, it robotically turns to more national technical means to compensate for its failures; that is until the next time it falls flat on its ass, only to order more national technical means; even worse, it creates more intelligence organizations with more layers; this makes it even more difficult to connect the so called dots. Just follow this cause and effect since 9/11.

Defense of commercial aircraft depends on no-fly lists, TSA search of passengers, and a sometime air marshal who wondrously never appears on the aircraft that is in in jeopardy. TSA personnel strike me as involved in a program designed to help to employ the mentally handicapped rather than to protect the flights from terrorist bombers. The most recent crotch bomber snafu was a Homeland Security misstep, not specifically linked to its subordinate TSA.

Whereas this inside the wire mentality is more abstract within the national security bureaucracies, it is stark reality in the military compounds and bases to include those not surrounded by the enemy. The slaughter of 13 soldiers at Ft. Hood, Texas by an indicted Jihadist fellow soldier Major Hasan, is an example of an enemy within the wire. Common sense and command responsibility by the US Army may have prevented the terrorist attack, but all the perimeter defenses in world could not. Before they were killed, the victims believed they were safe within the confines of the guarded military installation with controlled entry.

Another tragic inside the wire bloody incident just occurred at an isolated US installation in eastern Afghanistan at CIA forward base Chapman. Seven were killed, two of them Blackwater mercenaries, by an al Qaeda operative whom the CIA thought it had recruited as an agent.

If you ever worked along with CIA clandestine operators, you will find they all share a cynical careful approach to their work of recruiting spies. I used to joke that they were easy to pick out at diplomatic receptions, because they could not look you in the eye. It takes a strong, confident personality and a bright mind to do their work. So as this breed becomes rarer in government service, you understand why CIA prefers Nintendo games with 9 million dollar lethal drones under its command.

It seems apparent now that the agents who were killed were trying fulfill targeting requirements for its drones with a human intelligence resource. So it always come back to CIA's imbroglio with human intelligent sources. In this case they probably made mistakes under pressure for results. Mistakes in combat zones kill you, but without taking risks not much happens and the enemy gains the initiative. The British commando slogan, WHO DARES WINS is still appropriate, but should be amended with the word SOMETIMES as the last word.

The people killed by the Jihadists at Ft. Hood and Base Chapman, though inside the wire, were killed face-to-face by their murderers. It should be crystal clear by now that the American stalkers of terrorists are now being stalked. It is almost that they are studied by the Jihadists like laboratory rats in a Skinner Box. The attackers are suicidal, so stopping them before they inflict damage is always problematic.

Though considered quaint by the modernists at the CIA, the first line of defense is to penetrate Jihad organizations; this cannot be done sitting behind a console directing lethal attacks by drones. It is a long term proposition to train people in languages and spy-craft – there are no quick results. The Russians used spies i.e. residential agents planted for years in locations, imbedded in societies, paid, and called on only when required. The Soviets picked off the atomic and hydrogen bombs through espionage.

Uncertain today of the personal profiles of clandestine operatives at CIA. During the Cold War they were mostly aggressive, intelligent Ivy leaguers who tried to recruit proletarian/peasants from the USSR and Eastern Bloc. Their record was abysmal; they had a tough time establishing rapport talking tennis, squash and crew racing with people like those M. Gorky described in his book the Lower Depths. So far it does not look as history taught them much, especially since instead of building a stable of covert operators with in-house long term expertise, the Agency now turns almost exclusively to fly-by-night mercenaries for help. NINTENDO ANYONE? Ahmed and Mustafa, you are not answering. WHERE ARE YOU??? Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Answer Man – Blackwater

In the old days on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show he had a routine called The Answer Man. Carson would flash a word on the TV screen and then pop an answer to the word. My favorite was CHICKEN CACCIATORE; answer: A COWARDLY JAPANESE KAMIKAZE PILOT. So let us play the game; the word is BLACKWATER.

Blackwater – a private US mercenary army funded mainly by the US government to reduce the size of US government..

Blackwater – a private US mercenary army established because the US ground forces, i.e. US Army and USMC, could not handle their missions.

Blackwater – a private US mercenary army established because CIA could not handle its mission and was searching for plausible denial.

Blackwater – a private security firm employed by Coalition Government Chief Paul Bremer in occupied Iraq when 9 billion dollars went missing and US ground forces were unable to stop looting.

Blackwater – a private US mercenary army fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan without command and control by US federal military forces... not integrated in unity of command.

Blackwater – a private military army in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan operating outside of Iraq and Afghanistan law and not governed by the United States Courts Martial code.

Blackwater – a private military army whose deaths do not count in the total US killed in action. These are just soldiers of fortune.

Blackwater – one of many private military organizations funded by federal funds that employ those who like to makes things go boom, but eschew military discipline and responsibility. Also it competes with military services and the CIA for talent with more attractive pay scales.

Blackwater is a private military force with guns, ammunition and combat vehicles and aircraft. It has highly skilled personnel and up-to-date lists to mobilize even more. Along with US military forces and decentralized police forces, it is rapidly developing as an internal security force least regulated. It has its own closed and extensive 6000 acre training facilities, large enough to stage troop formations. It has potential for unconstitutional use as an illegal instrument to force political change. To quote Napoleon, " can do anything with bayonets except sit on them."

Blackwater has been embroiled in bloody incidents in Iraq and recently been under investigation for violent crimes, gun running, illegal drugs, prostitution, racketeering and assassination. It has been banned by the Iraqi government from operations in Iraq. Despite its unsavory reputation, there is little question GW Bush and now Obama could execute their military and clandestine operations without them or other private military organization like them. There are roughly 150,000 of the private contractors in Iraq and another 175,000 in Afghanistan.

Erik Prince, a former navy SEAL, is the main founder of Blackwater which emerged 1997. Unlike another former navy SEAL, Jesse the Body Ventura, who parlayed his specialized navy training into buffoon professional wrestling, then to the governor of Minnesota and finally as sometime bobble head on CNN Larry King Show, Erik put his energy into building a private rent-a-soldier corporation.

Erik is a remarkable person. He inherited wealth from his father, but chose to prove himself, enduring rigorous training as a highly skilled elite navy SEAL. A born-and-bred Republican, he served as a HWBUSH White House intern. He was to take advantage of the GWB wars – 90% of his contracts came from the US government; 66% of those were no-bid contracts. He became a living example of Eisenhower's military-industrial complex – this state capitalism is now so imbedded in the US economic system, that it now has to be fed through permanent war.

Another way to look at it is that the corporations now have a skilled, ready and willing organized military strike force that can be hired without complication. Blackwater, though one of the best, is just one of many.

Erik is under heavy pressure from law suits and congressional over-sight committees. He is spending big time on lobbyists, public relation firms and lawyers to protect his empire. Based on his recent interview in VANITY FAIR, he now feels caught holding the bag. He may want to reconsider that contribution to the GWB Presidential library.

Recently 5 Blackwater members who were accused of manslaughter for killing 15 Iraqi in September 2007 had charges dropped by US federal judge because the US Justice Department botched the case. Iraqis are outraged. Some are calling reciprocally for the release from Iraqi prisons those who killed Americans.

Whether his organization survives is a open question. For a new image, Prince even changed the name Blackwater to Xe Services in February 2009. Time will tell whether he is a crook Scooter Libby or, a baggage-burdened hero Dick Cheney. Under any condition, like Scooter, he most likely will be be rewarded Keeper of The Flame Award from the neocon Republicans. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.