Noted Author Tom Clancy Dies at 66

splinter-cell-conviction-2-more-tom-clancy-games-in-development-2011

Tom Clancy, the brilliant and irascible author of an incredible series of fiction and non-fiction works that include The Hunt for Red October, Red Storm RisingThe Sum of All Fears, and many others, has died at the age of 66.  His work was also inspiration for a generation of military-based first person shooter video games.

Clancy’s work was revolutionary, and his technical research exquisite.  I remember the hubbub of the release of Red October, and the speculation that someone had leaked him classified information that allowed him to portray so accurately the then-hidden world of US and Soviet submarine operations.

Clancy was a brilliant storyteller who revolutionized his genre, which was accurately described as “military/espionage/thriller”.  He will be missed.

Syria’s Chemical Weapons Stockpile: Iraqi Fingerprints

I have made the assertion before, but here is another excellent article outlining the migration of Saddam Hussein’s remaining chemical weapons stockpile into Syria, where it is now at the center of the world stage.  Take it away, policymic:

The earliest account of Hussein having hidden his WMDs in Syria came in January of 2004. Nizar Nayouf, an award-winning Syrian journalist who was granted political asylum in France, said in a letter to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf not only that he knew Iraq’s WMDs were being hidden inside Syria, but that he could pinpoint precisely where they were being kept. According to Nayouf’s witness, described as a senior source inside Syrian military intelligence he had known for two years, Iraq’s WMDs were in tunnels dug under the town of al-Baida near the city of Hama in northern Syria, in the village of Tal Snan, north of the town of Salamija, and in the city of Sjinsjar on the Syrian border with the Lebanon, south of the city of Homs. Nayouf claimed that the transfer of Iraqi WMDs to Syria was organized by the commanders of Hussein’s Iraqi Republican Guard with the help of General Dhu al-Himma Shalish and Assef Shawkat, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s cousin and brother-in-law, respectively.

We know for a fact that Shalish had a working relationship with Hussein long before the war in Iraq. The Syrian government awarded Shalish and his company, SES International Corporation, exclusive rights on

contracts to supply the Iraqi market with goods from construction materials to detergent. According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Shalish and SES helped the former Ba’athist regime access weapons systems by issuing false end-user certificates to foreign suppliers that listed Syria as the final country of destination.

But wait, there is more.   Not just a Syrian journalist.  And not just General Sada.  But also that of the Iraq Survey Group, and Israeli intelligence.

When two sources from the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) — a 1,400-member team organized by the Pentagon and CIA — spoke with the Washington Times in August 2004, they reported that Hussein periodically removed guards on the Syrian border and replaced them with his own intelligence agents who supervised the movement of banned materials between the two countries. The shift was followed by the movement of trucks in and out of Syria suspected of carrying materials banned by UN sanctions. Once the shipments were made, the agents would leave and the regular border guards would resume their posts.

A similar claim was made by Lieutenant General Moshe Ya’alon in December of 2005, a former Israeli military officer who served as chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces from July 2002 to June 2005. “(Hussein) transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria” six weeks before Operation Iraqi Freedom started, according to Ya’alon. “No one went to Syria to find it.”

General Sada’s claim of numerous truck convoys crossing the border in the months leading up to the US invasion also squares with countless eyewitness accounts from Iraqis living in Al Anbar Province.    In addition, the words of General al-Tikriti ring much more sensibly than those who claim that Saddam was merely bluffing, and possessed no chemical stockpile, but instead allowed his government to be toppled and his own death to result from playing out of that bluff.

After Saddam denied he had such weapons why would he use them or leave them readily available to be found?

The author is correct, in that absolute proof will be difficult.   You can bet the farm that any Iraqi complicity, and Russian complicity for that matter, in supplying Syria and the Assad Regime with chemical weapons, particularly VX, is being wiped clean as you read this.

Links and Stuff

Busy, busy. Who knew wrangling kids could suck up valuable blogging time?

The utter unseriousness of Obama Administration political appointees.

Indeed, I always wondered how Bob Work was nominated in the first place.

—–

Roamy launches an Amphibian Holocaust.

—–

Personally, I’d pay good money to see Aggie in parachute pants.

—–

First, kill all the lawyers fire all the generals.

—–

The partisan in me is almost bemused at just how awful the Obama regime is at foreign policy, but mostly I’m embarrassed to see Russia running rings around us diplomatically.  Putin and Assad keep pulling away the football from Obama every single time.

Oh, and don’t forget, the day after Putin’s Russia so helpfully offered to secure Syrian chemical weapons stocks (under conditions to be announced later… onerous conditions), Russia also announced it will effect delivery of the sophisticated S-300 Surface to Air Missile system to Iran. Nope, no coincidence there!

—–

—-

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldjvvDVtSHA&w=448&h=252&hd=1]

Colorado Legislators Recalled over Gun Control Votes

That, when any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it…

Two Democrat Legislators, Senate President John Morse and State Senator Angela Giron, both lost their jobs as angry Colorado voters removed them from office in a recall election yesterday.  The issue was draconian gun control legislation passed in the wake of Newtown and Aurora, which punished law-abiding people and curtailed their rights because of the criminal acts of two sociopaths.  As expected, the massive donations to this election came not from supporters of the Second Amendment, but from the gun-grabber liberal elite.

Reported contributions to Morse and Giron totaled about $3 million, dwarfing the amount raised by gun activists who petitioned for the recall, though some independent groups didn’t have to report spending. Both the NRA and Bloomberg contributed more than $300,000 to the pro- and anti-recall campaigns.

Giron’s district was heavily Democratic, too, and she got clobbered.

Telling, however, is the reactions of the two sides.

The authors of the recall:

“Coloradans … sent a clear message that politicians who blatantly ignore their constituents will be held accountable,”..”Perhaps this will serve as a lesson that one-party rule in Denver doesn’t give the majority license to take things to extremes or run roughshod over the values and rights of Coloradans who just happen, for the moment, to be in the minority.”

The remarks of the ousted Giron?

“We will win in the end, because we are on the right side.”

If that is not a microcosm of how the far-left liberal elite treats us, the unwashed, I don’t know what is.   The voters disapproved of the gun-control measures, in some cases overwhelmingly, and expressed their displeasure to their representatives, warning them not to enact such laws.  Morse and Giron did it anyway, against the express will of the voters.   Does Giron get the message even after being trounced in a recall election and shown the door?

Nope.  Gun control is her agenda, and she and people like her are going to push it irrespective of the voters.

That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;

Bra-VO to the Colorado voters who insisted that their representatives comply or go home.

The Obama-Kerry Syria Narrative Unravels Completely

AP_barack_obama_syria_press_conference_thg_130831_16x9_992

There have been many, myself included, who viewed with more than a little skepticism the Obama Administration’s instant and unequivocal claim of proof that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons on 21 August, allegedly killing more than 1,400.  Whatever the number of killed, the video of dead children and contaminated victims occupied every network lead news story for more than a week.

Yet, the assertion didn’t make sense.  Why would the Assad regime use chemical weapons and take the chance of being even more of a pariah and losing support of its greatest benefactor, Russia?  Especially when the regime had the initiative almost everywhere and the crisis of the preceding months had passed?  For no tactical advantage?  There was a chance, of course, that the Assad regime had miscalculated in the wake of Obama’s non-response to the “red line” violation in March of 2013.  Or a chance that a field commander used such weapons without regime authorization.  But, especially after Obama’s foolish threat of a “red line” that “changes the calculus” (for which he apparently has little stomach to make good on that threat), use by one of the various Islamist extremist/Al Qaeda-affiliated “rebel” groups seemed every bit as likely.

An opinion piece by Ken Timmerman in The Daily Caller last week went unnoticed by many, but it makes some pretty damning statements regarding the Obama-Kerry casus belli for military action against Syria.

The Obama administration has selectively used intelligence to justify military strikes on Syria, former military officers with access to the original intelligence reports say, in a manner that goes far beyond what critics charged the Bush administration of doing in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war.

The intercepts of communications that were alluded to by the US media and the White House, which supposedly spelled out regime elements as being responsible for the attack, were not quite as advertised, according to Timmerman.

According to the doctored report, the chemical attack was carried out by the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armored Division of the Syrian Army, an elite unit commanded by Maher al-Assad, the president’s brother.

However, the original communication intercepted by Unit 8200 between a major in command of the rocket troops assigned to the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armored Division, and the general staff, shows just the opposite.

According to the transcript of the original Unit 8200 report, the major “hotly denied firing any of his missiles” and invited the general staff to come and verify that all his weapons were present.

An international version of the selective editing of the Zimmerman police calls, NBC-style, as it were.  Not surprisingly, the Russians were highly skeptical, and then outright dismissive, of the Obama Administration claims.  But there is more, information that has not been presented to the American public by either Obama or any of his foreign policy or intelligence personnel.    This bit of evidence, if it is indeed true, is even more troubling than the intentional doctoring of Israeli communications intercepts to build a false case.

…evidence known to the U.S. intelligence community, and presumably, to Congress.

An Egyptian intelligence report describes a meeting in Turkey between military intelligence officials from Turkey and Qatar and Syrian rebels. One of the participants states, “there will be a game changing event on August 21st” that will “bring the U.S. into a bombing campaign” against the Syrian regime.

The chemical weapons strike on Moudhamiya, an area under rebel control, took place on August 21. “Egyptian military intelligence insists it was a combined Turkish/Qatar/rebel false flag operation,” said a source familiar with the report.

This, of course, would not be the first time that the Obama Administration and its officials in the State Department have made public statements they knew not to be true, in order to deflect blame and obfuscate an ugly truth.   The attack on the Benghazi consulate, a year ago this coming Wednesday, was attributed to the actions of a spontaneous demonstration by Libyan protesters when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and now-SecState Susan Rice (then-UN Ambassador) knew good and well what they were saying to the American people and the world was simply not true.
Now, Obama finds himself painted into a corner by his own ill-considered rhetoric and the emphatic assertions of his Vice President (“no doubt” about Assad regime use of chemical weapons) and his Secretary of State.   Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle should recognize the titanic blunder committed by President Obama, and stop doubling down on his incompetence and that of his foreign policy team in a vain attempt to maintain “credibility”.
Worse for Obama than the Assad regime not being credibly linked to a chemical weapons release is the alternative, is that “rebel” groups may have gotten their hands on some of the Syrian stockpile and have used those weapons themselves, doing so in order to bring the US and other Western nations into the Syrian Civil War to overthrow Assad and allow them to establish yet another anti-Western Islamist regime in a strategic country in the Middle East.   One has to wonder if the harsh and uncompromising words used to describe the Assad regime will be employed to describe the anti-regime forces whose hands may be very dirty, as dirty at least as the regime’s, in this civil war.
The entire of the Obama Administration’s case for military action against Syria is collapsing.   What we were told was true, likely wasn’t.   Obama and Kerry both also likely knew that.   I will say it again.  Our foreign policy is in shambles.
H/T to Fran D!

Prosecutorial Reachback

Back in 2008, Congress passed a law that allows federal prosecutors to  pursue cases against discharged servicemen who are alleged to have committed crimes under the UCMJ, and yet were discharged before any proceedings.

There’s some sound reasoning behind this. Let’s say a notional service member committed an offense while deployed, say murder of a foreign national, and yet managed to escape detection until he was beyond the reaches of military law. Absent an ability to try him in federal court, it’s conceivable he could get away with murder.

But here we have a case where a Marine either negligently discharged his weapon, or purposefully shot another American.

When the gun went off inside the trailer at a Marine outpost in Iraq in 2008, the bullet pierced the left temple of a Navy hospital corpsman who was seated on his cot, rupturing his left eye and exiting though his right cheek. He survived, but was left partly blind.

Wilfredo Santiago

A Marine corporal who was present, Wilfredo Santiago, then 23, first told the authorities that he had heard a shot but not that it came from his own gun. About a week later, he admitted to a Navy investigator that while unloading his weapon, it accidentally discharged, copies of his statements show.

“I froze for a moment,” Corporal Santiago said, adding that he looked at the corpsman and “saw blood begin to form on the left side of his face.”

Corporal Santiago said that the corpsman, who acted as a medic for their team of Marines, which was stationed at Camp Echo and periodically rotated to the outpost, had been a close friend, and that he “would never do anything to intentionally hurt him.” He regretted not coming forward sooner with the truth, he said, adding, “I was afraid, and did not know what to do.”

The military took no action against Corporal Santiago, who was honorably discharged some months later and now lives with his wife and child in the Bronx. But last January, federal prosecutors in Manhattan had him indicted on charges of assault resulting in serious bodily injury and of lying to military investigators, all stemming from the Jan. 26, 2008, shooting of the corpsman, Michael Carpeso.

At the time of his discharge,  no punitive measures were taken under the UCMJ, neither judicial nor non-judicial.*

I tend to believe the prosecution’s assertion that an administrative error lead to Santiago’s discharge without any punitive actions.  In my experience, a negligent discharge of any type is grounds for some adverse action, and certainly one which sees a fellow servicemember**  severely wounded and disabled.  My own negligent discharge of a blank round on a training mission lead to a Summarized Article 15 (5 days extra duty, in my case). And a friend who negligently discharged 7 rounds from an M249 SAW badly wounded two other soldiers. He was sent before a General Court Martial, and sentenced to 18 months, reduction to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a dishonorable discharge.***

But here’s the thing. The government had its shot at Santiago. It is not his fault that the Marines dropped the ball on flagging his records (preventing him from being discharged while under investigation) or otherwise meting out some punishment to him. It isn’t like the Marines didn’t know the incident had taken place.  The 2008 act by Congress was clearly not meant as a way for the state to get a second bite at the apple.

Further, a delay of five years from the incident certainly seems extreme.  The government has vast resources with which to locate and interview witnesses for the prosecution, but the defense rarely has more than the barest assets with which to merely review the government’s case, let alone locate and depose witnesses for the defense. Especially, in this case, when the unit interpreter, an Iraqi national, will likely prove quite difficult to locate, let alone bring to trial as a witness.

I’m all for the vigorous prosecution of wrongdoing. That’s a keystone of a stable democratic society. But I’m even more for the concept of a fair trial, in which the vast powers of the state are constrained, and laws intended for one purpose are not imaginatively applied by zealous prosecutors for entirely different reasons (RICCO, anyone?).

What say you?

*Punishment under Article 15 of the UCMJ is handled by the unit commander, and is non-judicial in nature. That is, while it has adverse administrative effects and is often the basis for separation from the service, it does not count as a conviction, unlike a court martial.

**The Navy provides medical services to the Marines, including attaching Hospitalmen to the Fleet Marine Forces as combat corpsmen. They wear Marine uniforms, and are generally accepted by the Marines in a way no other sailors are.

***Upon review by the convening authority, his sentence was commuted to 6 months, reduction in grade to E-1, and forfeiture of pay and allowances. I forget the exact nature of his discharge, but I do recall it wasn’t a Dishonorable.

Paralysis by Analysis

Robert Kozlowski, writing at the US Naval Institute’s USNIBlog has a good post that shows a startling graphic.

http://i1.wp.com/blog.usni.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/DARPA-SLIDE.png

Open the graphic in a new tab to see the whole thing.

I’m curious what happened to the acquisition process in 1975 that lead to such a sharp increase in the time needed to field a weapon system.

But the key thing is, time is money. Lots and lots of money. Now, you’ll say, XBrad, the items like the B-2 and the F-22 are pretty cutting edge technology. And so they are. But so were things like the B-58, and the F-111. Notice also, the F-117, a cutting edge technology, had minimal oversight, and yet it reached IOC well below the trendline.

I’d expect to see some increase in the trendline of development times. But I’d expect to see something more like that commercial aircraft timeline, or even a little steeper. But clearly, something in the process of acquisition has changed. And Kozlowski argues that it is the intense oversight. I’m agree. And I’ll note that the purpose of the oversight was to ensure money spent was well spent. Oddly, the oversight, both within DoD and from outside, be it the GAO or Congress or whomever, has stretched the timelines to untenable lengths. We’ve already seen programs such as the RAH-66 Comanche that ran so long in development that they were obsolete before they were even ordered into production.  And I’d argue that the drawn out development and oversight costs more than simply mismanaging programs in the first place would have.