31 August 2006

Giving some definition to Islamofascism to help out Senator Reed

Islamofascism... mention it in politics and one is labeled as 'racist' or 'misguided' or 'inaccurate'. Yes, inaccurate!

That is what Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) thinks as he stated in this transfer of information from Kathryn Jennifer Lopez at National Review giving us the Senator's good words from a 30 AUG 2006 telephone interview via Congressional Quarterly (also Charles Schumer):

QUESTION: Senator, I was wondering if you could respond to the earlier note of the use of the phrase Islamo-fascism, if you think that is an accurate term for what's going on.

REED: Well, I'll just say I don't think it's particularly accurate. You know, I think if one carefully has looked at the history of fascism, which was a political movement in western Europe that actually, in the two principal cases, came to power through democratic elections — at least in Germany it did — I think the analogy is very, very weak.

And what they're looking for is a kind of a connection, a symbolic connection, between the struggle against Nazism and fascism in Italy. And I think, again, it misperceives the nature of the threats we face today.

This is not a nationalistic organization that is trying to seize control of a particular government. It is a religious movement. It is motivated by apocalyptic visions. It is something that is distributed. Most of these terrorist cells seem to be evolving through imitation, rather than being organized.

And again, I think it goes to the point of that their first response is, you know, come up with a catchy slogan, and then they forget to do the hard work of digging into the facts and coming up with a strategy and resources that will counter the actual threats we face.

And so, you know, I think it's imprecise. It's meant, I think, more for political consumption in the United States than to adequately describe what's going on in the world.

SCHUMER: I basically agree with Jack on that. There are extreme religious fanatics — Islamic religious fanatics who want to hurt us, and we have to fight them. But you got to have a real policy to do it.
Now, lets take a look at this.

Definitionally what is fascism? Well, everyone loves dictionaries and scaring up a few of those online is pretty easy, so lets look at the fascist end of this first.

From Fast-Times and their political dictionary on fascism:
fascism - a nationalistic, authoritarian, anti-communist movement founded by Benito Mussolini in Italy in 1919. Fascism was a response to the economic hardship and social disorder that ensued after the end of World War I. The main elements of fascism were pride in the nation, anti-Marxism, the complete rejection of parliamentary democracy, the cultivation of military virtues, strong government, and loyalty to a strong leader. Fascists wore a uniform of a black shirt and and used a greeting derived from ancient Rome of the outstretched arm. Mussolini's Black Shirts (as they were known) seized power in 1922. A movement modeled on fascism, Germany's National Socialism (Nazism) also began its rise in the 1920s. In 1936 in Spain, General Francisco Franco's fascists seized power and precipitated a three-year civil war, with Franco victorious. Italian fascism collapsed with the death of Mussolini and the end of World War II. Although since then there have been South American military regimes that have adopted some of the terminology and concepts of fascism, fascism in its classic form is considered to have died with Mussolini. Sometimes the term is used now as a term of abuse, triggered by any real or imagined outbreak of authoritarian thought or behavior.
A good start and thorough thumbnail. But that may be misleading, so lets check a couple of other sources, like the Political Glossary at the Thomson Nelson site:
An extreme form of nationalism that played on fears of communism and rejected individual freedom, liberal individualism, democracy, and limitations on the state.
Less filling, tastes great! Maybe a bit too boiled down, however. Perhaps the Free Dictionary can help here:
1. often Fascism
a. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.

b. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.

2. Oppressive, dictatorial control.
A bit better between the two. Now for a final site called Black Crayon and even though they have a relatively garish site, but it looks like a workable definition:
An authoritarian form of statism that advocates

1. private property
2. State-centralized economy
3. militarism
4. nationalism

(Notice that between the first 2 criteria, fascism promotes political capitalism without any pretense of a free market.)

Socialists and left-liberals often refer to any form of fervent conservatism as fascism, but they are incorrect in doing so.

Many people use the term to refer to any form of authoritarianism. This usage is less incorrect, but strictly speaking, fascism requires all 4 of the above criteria.
A few workable criteria, and a good gloss on the basics.

Thus we can start to derive the nuggets of this thing called fascism.

First of is that it is Nationalistic or adheres to a Nation or National concept. The two typific cases, however, had a broad view of that both with the Italian attempts to re-establish the Roman Empire, at least in words although they did head to the outposts and put threats and military as far south as Ethiopia, and in the German conception of 'lebensraum' in which Germany would expand through Europe to give the German People living space and put the lesser breeds of man to work as slaves or servants. Although Fascist-based regimes in Spain and Latin America took on martial trappings, they did not get to the establishment of a high class military nor into the overly expansionist mode, although some few did have nasty fights with neighbors that looked expansionistic.

Nationalism is seen, then, as 'expansionist' Nationalism to impose the Nation upon other Nations. Excuses to Empire are given, but it is a Nation-based Imperialistic concept.

Second, State Centralized economy. As fascism rejects the Communist 'workers owning the means of production' and 'dictatorship of the proletarian' conception, this means that State ownership is by the rulers of the Nation. That rulership is typified as anti-democratic or not adhering to democratic ideals nor to Communist ideals. This conception, then, is authoritarian in its outlook and dictatorial in its practice as seen by all fascistic governments from the typific Italy and Germany to the Spanish and Latin American variants.

State Centralization for the economy extends *from* its perceptual basis of being anti-democratic so that rights are granted *from* government.

Third is Militarism of the State and imposed military authority upon the population. This ranges from the typific of Italy and Germany strong centralized military downwards through the Spanish and Latin American fascistic States using the military in a similar means as a control mechanism over the State. The anti-democratic ruler or rulers of the State impose dictatorial rule and oppression via the military. Controls over such things as freedom and liberty and their uses is achieved via military methods of repression and terror.

Militarism for State control, repression, terrorism and expansion.

Fourth and finally, fascism is anti-liberal, as in the old school, 19th Century rights of man, liberal. By controlling the sources of information, personal liberties and enforcing structure from the rulers downwards, fascism negates all Western liberalism and ends it so that the State may have sole control over all aspects of individual life.

This definitional sphere nowhere mentions religion as that is controlled by the State and, as all else, dictated to by the rulers upon the people of the State. Fascism as a conception, therefore, is not antithetical to religion as Communism is. Fascism may, indeed, embrace a form of religion that preaches *for* the State and be in continuity *with* the State.

These were more than 'political movements' from the outset as each fascist political organization armed itself illegally and used such arms to enforce their will upon people. From the start fascist organizations have not been shy about imposing their will upon people at gunpoint. When democratic government decays to the point of allowing such things, the State monopoly on lawful use of violence is broken. In a society of representational democracy laws are put in place that govern what is and is not lawful use of arms, and organizations that, indeed, use arms to threaten society are unlawful.

Thus I find Senator Reed's understanding of fascism to be problematical at best and disingenuous at worst. The two typific cases point to systems where democracy had already been undermined to the point of non-legitimacy of the government itself, in no small measure to armed political parties roaming the streets. Civil War in Italy and the open fighting in the streets between fascists and communists in Weimar Germany points to failure of the Nation State to keep itself legitimate by law enforcement. Due process was replaced by the rule of the strong and power hungry over the populace. Elections are just one methodology to be used in gaining power and outright subversion and open conflict with the State is another. Fascism does not determine pre-set modes and methods to come to power, although the means are usually violent.

On top of that the conception of radical Islam or Islamic terrorists, is that of enforcing an Imperial view upon the world which distinguishes between peoples not based on ethnicity but upon religion. Trot out phrases of your choice on the Koran and footsteps and such, but the conception being pushed is that of an Imperial set-up based on religious coherency and Theocracy. Here again the good Senator misses the point that Nationalist conceptions need not be restricted to ethnicity, language, skin color or other such things and may use another definitional term, in this case religion, to define itself.

Now comes the Islamic part which will be less than entertaining. For the melding of Islam and fascism is an interesting admixture that *can* go together but not necessarily cohere as a structure. The most cited thing that Iran and al Qaeda and other extremists in Islam are aiming for is the Caliphate: the rule from a central figure over all Islamic lands wherever they may be. So a couple of definitions ensue.

From wikipedia (which is a fluid structure and liable to change at a moment's notice) on Caliph:
Caliph is the term or title for the Islamic leader of the Ummah, or community of Islam. It is a romanized version of the Arabic word Khalīfah which means "successor" or "representative". Some of the early leaders of the Muslim community following the prophet Muhammad's (570–632) death called themselves "Khalifat Allah", meaning representative of God, but the alternative title of "Khalifat rasul Allah", meaning the successor to the prophet of God, eventually became the standard title. Some academics prefer to transliterate the term as Khalīf.

Caliphs were often also referred to as Amīr al-Mu'minīn "Commander of the Faithful" , or, more colloquially, leader of the Muslims. This title has been shortened and romanized to "emir". It is also found as a personal name in some countries (Amir or Aamir).


The authority of the caliph

Who should succeed Muhammad was not the only issue that faced the early Muslims; they also had to clarify the extent of the leader's powers. Muhammad, during his lifetime, was not only the Muslim leader, but the Muslim prophet and the Muslim judge. All law and spiritual practice proceeded from Muhammad. Was his successor to have the same status?

None of the early caliphs claimed to receive divine revelations, as did Muhammad; since Muhammad is the last divine messenger, none of them claimed to be a nabī, "a prophet" or a "rasul" or divine messenger. Muhammad's revelations were soon codified and written down as the Qur'an, which was accepted as a supreme authority, limiting what a caliph could legitimately command.

However, there is some evidence that the early caliphs did believe that they had authority to rule in matters not specified in the Qur'an. They believed themselves to be the spiritual and temporal leaders of Islam, and insisted that implicit obedience to the caliph in all things was the hallmark of the good Muslim. The modern scholars Patricia Crone and Martin Hinds, in their book God's Caliph, outline the evidence for an early, expansive view of the caliph's importance and authority. They argue that this view of the caliphate was eventually nullified (in Sunni Islam, at least) by the rising power of the ulema, or Islamic scholars, clerics, and religious specialists. The ulema insisted on their right to determine what was legal and orthodox. The proper Muslim leader, in the ulema's opinion, was the leader who enforced the rulings of the ulema, rather than making rulings of his own. Conflict between caliph and ulema was a recurring theme in early Islamic history, and ended in the victory of the ulema. The caliph was henceforth limited to temporal rule. He would be considered a righteous caliph if he were guided by the ulema. Crone and Hinds argue that Shi'a Muslims, with their expansive view of the powers of the imamate, have preserved some of the beliefs of early Islam. Crone and Hinds' thesis is not accepted by all scholars.

Most Sunni Muslims now believe that the caliph has always been a merely temporal ruler, and that the ulema has always been responsible for adjudicating orthodoxy and Islamic law (shari'a). The first four caliphs are called the Rashidun, the Rightly Guided Caliphs, because they are believe to have followed the Qur'an and the way or sunnah of Muhammad in all things. This formulation itself presumes the Sunni ulema's view of history.
A fair round-up of the view of the Caliph, descent from the Prophet and the purpose of the Caliphate... as far as it goes. Another good definition comes from Bartleby, of all places:

(kl´ft´´, -ft), the rulership of Islam; caliph (kl´f´´) , the spiritual head and temporal ruler of the Islamic state. In principle, Islam is theocratic: when Muhammad the Prophet died, a caliph [Arab.,=successor] was chosen to rule in his place. The caliph had temporal and spiritual authority but was not permitted prophetic power; this was reserved for Muhammad. The caliph could not, therefore, exercise authority in matters of religious doctrine.
The two have a high definitional similarity as do ALL definitions of Caliphate. The Caliphate then has defining characteristics which are as follows.

First, there is an Islamic State that is, in conception, theocratic in rulership viewpoint and it includes all that practice Islam. The Caliph is the ruler of the community of Islam in the temporal realm, but does *not* have prophetic powers nor is given sole authority over religion. Now this Sunni vision, which is the form al Qaeda is looking to, is at odds with the vision being seen in Iran where Theocrats have the power to over-rule the temporal leader and, indeed, all temporal goings-on in the State. Neither sect sees the Caliph as the head of Islam, but final view of what is allowable for the Islamic State can be over-ruled in the Iranian version, but not the al Qaeda version. So similar and yet so different and Christianity went through many permutations of this on a faster and wider scale in Europe, with large wars fought time and again based on variations on belief systems and which was *correct*. And, over time, the bloodiest religious wars are not *between* religions, but between sects within a religion.

The Caliph, then, is temporal leader of the Islamic State, but should adhere to the scholars on what laws actually *are* and how they should be administered, with variations on scholars over-ruling or not as the sects vary.

Second the conception of the Caliphate is anti-liberal in the extreme: while other religions may or may not be tolerated, depending upon the variance of the scholars, rights are handed down from the State to individuals and not being Islamic gets you short-changed. The power structure flows down from the top, be it the religious scholars behind the scene or the Caliph over them, and that is enforced as law throughout the community of Islam. Of course that is the old formulation of Caliphate, the type being given, particularly by Iran but, also by al Qaeda, sees little use for the dhimmi or non-muslims. Their view on what the dhimmi gets is minimal and, by the actions we have seen in Iran and by al Qaeda, most likely to be fatal. Lives of dhimmi as PRACTICED (do not bother me with the Koran here, their actions speak more volumes than that holy book) are expendable and expended as needed.

The Caliphate has a class basis with the top two positions held by the Caliph and scholarly elite, the ummah which are the regular Islamic worshipers and the dhimmi.

Thirdly, and most interesting, is that little mention is made of economic control in this structure, although adherence to Islamic law is fundamental. Making profit by lending is not allowed to the ummah, but, in practice, this varies quite a bit, and 'mark up of resales' and other techniques are used to circumvent the direct charging of interest. Using debt, charging re-sale markup and otherwise dancing around the usury injunctions is a hard one for Islam to cope with in the non-Caliphate based world and this is made worse by economies dependent upon natural resources. The money from those resources flow to a limited few and wealth is a top down affair with very little trickle-down to the general economy. Industrialization is very haphazard and, as a whole, the entire Middle East lags behind the rest of the Islamic peoples in the Far East. But *their* conception is not that of Caliphate while those in the Middle East *are* just that. For a meaningful Islamic State to be run under the conception of a Caliphate the question of who controls industrial production is a key one and, to this day, none of the adherents want to clearly and unequivocally address it. Iran, however, still has much in the way of State owned enterprises and central economic planning, even though it does have a private sector, too. This mixed economy is turning in mixed results and points to a clear doctrinal flaw in pushing the Caliphate.

Economically the backers of the Caliphate are 'unclear on the concept' : a dictatorial or authoritarian ruled economy, mixed public/private, or mostly private.

Fourth is the use of jihadism as the foundational support for the new Caliphate. All the Islamic terrorist groups backing the return to Caliphate support the distributed military means of terrorism to do so. Terrorist organizations may or may not have State based sponsorship, directive and/or control. Hezbollah and the Mahdi Army of al Sadr in Iraq are funded, supported and trained via Iran and given some directivity by Iran, also. Iran is using both as Foreign Legions 'once removed' so as to give them the ability to show how good and noble they are in supporting them, but that no blame for bad activities should fall upon Iran because of those activities. al Qaeda and various other groups are private sponsored organizations, with a bit of State funding kicked in here and there either through ransoms, extortions or outright coercion. That said, these organizations are *not* beholden to a State and do their own thing, and often cooperate on operations when such meet the interim goals of both. When established *before* taking power, this is considered to be an illegitimate form of military and should be anathema to all Nation States. When such organizations have gotten to power, they do not give up the use of military force against those they took power *from* and, in point of fact, incorporate that into their ruling structure concept.

Militarism to intimidate and control populations is seen as valid and terrorism controlled by the State is the means by which al Qaeda and Iran both wish to enforce their rule, thus it is primary to the Caliphate.

The points of coincidence between the Caliphate and fascistic outlook:

1) Both use the State as basis for functioning. In secular fascism this is based such things as ethnicity, language, race, and elite class. In Islam this is the use of religion as defining the position of individuals within the State itself, with a ruling set of Elites at the top.

2) Both conceptions put an individual up as the ruling authority.

3) Both conceptions are anti-liberal and restrict the rights of individuals.

4) Both depend upon the use of force and military backing to gain power through the use of intimidation, terror and murder. In Germany the forces there were in de facto control of many neighborhoods before elections and the 'force on the streets' made the issue of who to put in as the head of government a moot point: either put in the force or face rebellion. Italy went through a Civil War on this. And the modern terrorist organizations start out with the military and adorn that with politics. Military force is primary to both conceptions.

5) Both depend upon authoritarian rule done via a sole leader, either with or without backing from an organization that has set strictures on what that rule is, the conception is authoritarian in whole.

The points of difference between the concept of Caliphate as radical Islamists want it and fascism are there, but difficult to find:

1) Fascists have sole economic control with very little unstructured private economy. Public and private both fall under the plans of the State. This falls in line with other parts of the Caliphate, but no clear doctrine has been given. One suspects that as all temporal things are controlled by the Caliph, that the economy also comes under that direct control.

2) Ultimate power invested in the sole leader. Fascism degenerates to that quickly, but only for temporal, not religious matters. In the Caliph as the temporal ruler but unable to do much with the religious side, in the past has deteriorated to decadence based on things temporal on the basis of 'anything not restricted is allowed' and 'anything that can be argued two ways comes out in favor of the Caliph'.

Now, on Senator Reed's other points, this looks to undermine *those*:

That the movement to Caliphate is *not* Nationalistic and not restricted to a Nation State ignores the end goal of creating an umbrella State containing all that practice Islam. Beyond merely National, this is the dream of Empire via Nation which has high identity with the typific fascist regimes of Europe. They are *not* using the means and methods that Italian and Germans, amongst many others, have used, but that does not stop the dreams of the Caliphate as a State and then Global Empire.

Senator Reed does have a fair point about the distributed quality of Islamic Terrorism to establish the Caliphate. Fascists, however, would cooperate amongst themselves, even when they had differing goals. The ultimate goal of conquest could be fought after immediate rivals were eliminated. Indeed fascist factions were supported in foreign lands by both Germany and Italy, and after the war a distribution of fascism happened. That they do *not* cooperate demonstrates the secular goals of their movements, a more universalist and encompassing form of fascism would likely use a distributed format to its own ends. The Senator's point is self-undermining, and not a reasonable position to take on a definitional space as *no* expansionist, nationalist movement aiming for global domination as arisen in a distributed fashion. If one *did* it would look very much like the modern Islamic based terrorist organizations, although with a bit higher death toll and better doctrinal adherence

Perhaps the good Senator can dig into some facts? And Mr. Schumer, too.

They seem to think that a bit of religion or a bit of politics makes all the differences and do not bother to examine operational goals and methods to achieve them.

30 August 2006

More than just two sides

Wretchard at The Belmont Club gives us this post on Both Sides Now, going through the 'two sides' on Iraq.

Well, I am not going to take up fine space and time there when I should be wasting it here with a somewhat more robust statement.

First and foremost: there are *not* two sides to this. This is one of the few things I have been pounding at for my time online and my life before that. Everyone seems to get this wonderful idea of there being two and ONLY two sides to any conceptional problem space. Sorry, even coins are three dimensional. To anyone who has read my works you will know that I offer a different perspective on many things where there have been set two-sidedness or no one, and I do mean no one, is willing to think that there may be another approach to a problem space that is valid.

One example from me is this strange 'abortion question'. I have written on this a couple of times, first in my post on Freedom, Rights and the People. Now what I say may be absolutely and totally off-base to so many that it will, indeed, engender the Dumb Looks payment, but I do insist that it is a reasonable view of the Constitution and the SCOTUS ruling as set out, and *no* the judges may *not* try to limit their ruling to that case and that case only nor only to that area of human endeavor. Courts adjudicate the law, invalidate laws but do *not* make up the law. I reduce the SCOTUS argument to its final and basic underpinning which is *not* the mother's right to choose but the People's Right to declare Citizenship at the age of viability of the fetus. I then stop on that ground thoroughly in When do your rights start?

It is a thoroughly reasonable question to ask of the Constitution and the Roe v Wade ruling now gives us a due process precedent for making that decision. Once the question is reformulated into one of Citizenship via birth from Citizens within States, that is a States Rights matter. The SCOTUS ruling prohibits the stopping of abortions before viability, so they are thoroughly allowable until that time under due process of law. What this does, however, is make individuals responsible for recording their sexual activities and partners, else society may be stuck having to use a 'best guess' from experts on the actual viability of the fetus. That, in and of itself, could take weeks and when finished the fetus may not have been viable at the start but is by the time the process is done. Sorry, thems the breaks for not keeping track of your partners and times of sexual activity. And the reason you *want* to keep such? Because abortion at or after viability is murder. Those things are clear evidence to use to clear oneself of those charges. So, the right to have an abortion is *not* denied, but responsibility over personal activities *is* enforced.

In this formulation *both* sides win: the 'pro-choice' folks get their immediate win and can quit whining. The 'pro-life' side now has a completely valid way to enforce sexual accountability AND by funding RESEARCH and NOT PROTESTS, they can push the age of viability ever downwards. The 'pro-life' does *not* get the moral win by asserting something, but they do get the ethical responsibility placed upon individuals to know what they are doing with their bodies and the opportunity to fund research that *helps* all of mankind. And the Public gets some damn tranquility about this issue. If this solution had been taken within a few months after the ruling we would *have* a different society now.

A second example of how I approach things is using Amendment II and casting it *together* with the explicit State Right to Defend itself in Article I, Section 10. I go over my original formulation here, and it is a pretty simple concept. The States have the explicit, in black and white, right to defend themselves absent the Federal Government. This is *not* the National Guard: that is explicit via other language in Article I. No, this is either seeking help from Foreign Nations *or* using the Armed People of the State to protect the State during times of 'invasion or Danger'. This is *not* the militia that falls under Federal purview as Article I, Section 10 makes clear this is for when Federal response is not forthcoming. If this viewpoint is correct, then the States have a direct way of making the Federal Government accountable and may directly and completely call the President and Congress on the carpet when Federal aid and troops are not readily available in times of invasion or Danger. This is a class of law that I term State Survival Law.

Here the States may set up emergency terms for their Armed Citizenry and let all of those who arm themselves for other things, like hunting, target shooting, self-defense and so on, that they have a further obligation to their State in times of invasion or Danger *and* regular State and Federal forces are NOT around to do anything. This may NOT be a standing force, nor train as one, although sportsmen or those using unique or combined arms for recreational purposes may train as a unit, that unit is self-constructed and maintained, although the State will probably need to kick in some money for ammunition. This is a Public Service Responsibility that *anyone* learning the use of deadly force would pick up, acknowledge and demonstrate that they are safe in the use of such. That, too, is a self-regulated system, so the State only need keeps minimal records and ensure that individuals who have such Arms know how to use them, recognize their responsibility and will help out if the State gets invaded or undergoes Danger and law breaks down. I go over the basic outlays of responsibility here.

These are *not* paramilitary nor police, although both functions will need to be acknowledged and Citizens operate within Emergency Law as set up by the State. Citizens stand down when regular forces arrive and transfer over authority and immediately return to their Civilian life, unless *asked* to stay on by the incoming forces.

States *may* do this if they want, that is up to their Citizenry to decide via their elected Governments. As an added bonus, these are the Armed Citizenry are the *perfect* folks to hold the equivalent the equivalent of a 'show cause' court martial when Arms are used in the commission of crimes or used for purposes other than recreation, self-defense or hunting. Threaten lethal force in ANY FORM and your PEERS will decide your fate. Perhaps dueling would return via this route so that threats, insults and slurs, finally need be backed up with force. Might bring some civility back to the world that way... actually have to stand by your words instead of just shout them.

A third example of how there are *not* two sides to things are how I see the changing military via casting scenarios using their *full capability* as seen in Afghanistan and Iraq, and come up with a totally different cast on Iran and, really, anywhere US Armed Forces can be deployed. I call this NetWar and use a First Look and Second Look at how using multiple networks to go after combat effectiveness can be worked out. Here the problems faced on military operations is no longer that of Leadership from the Executive nor of the 'boots on the ground' being disheartened and disenchanted via Vietnam Syndrome. The largest problem and most deadly to the Republic are the mid-level echelon of officers in the Pentagon who neither train as hard as their troops, understand the full capability of their troops and cannot forecast operations and force structures based on these capabilities. These Generals, once they leave, bring out their sour grapes and I find that this makes poor whine. Amazing how a problem becomes *obvious* once they leave the active forces. Or, even worse, is that they see problems and are 'stifled by the command structure' and do not report THAT to Congress. These are not field commanders but high stature individuals of high rank: this is their JOB. Complaining once you have left without working DAMN HARD first to get something BETTER in place is an abdication of responsibility and duty to the Nation. For all the whining I have yet to hear ONE suggestion from any of these fine retirees of what should be done to make things BETTER. They complain that the way they know is going away... 'shock of the new' is stunning them and it shows.

Be that as it may, the Armed Forces are explicitly made and to serve function to protect the Nation and to fight against OTHER NATIONS. They can train for counter-insurgency and such, but that is not their design goal as given in the Constitution. If it is less than Foreign Nations attacking or threatening the United States then it is up to We the People to defend the Nation. This is done through things like law enforcement, trade barriers, and the such like. A whole panoply of Departments in the Government get involved: Justice, State, Treasury, and Commerce. Each of these has policing and diplomatic functions that vary in mixture from Agency to Agency. But that is not the WHOLE of what the People can do via their Government. For those things LESS than full National conflict, but MORE than what these Agencies can handle there is an entire War Making Power handed to Congress via the Letters of Marque and Reprisal language.

I started out looking at this with the simple proposition that Congress, to gain some electability in this era of porkritude would establish that they would use earmark funds to, instead, be put into a Bounty Fund, and establish a Warrant system and use the State Department list of those individuals, groups, and NGOs that are a threat to the Nation, and then pay off HANDSOMELY for those Citizens that bring in prohibited commerce with these threats, and the threats themselves. Pork is for Terrorists. The modern day Congress, unlike their late 18th and early 19th Century counterparts, are weak-kneed folks with no ability to name an Enemy as they are. They no longer even recognize a Power granted them by the People as stated in Black and White in the Constitution. I have gone on about this for multiple postings and at more places than I care to talk about.

This basically boils down in the answer I sent to Tigerhawk when he was trying to figure out how to mobilize the West. Here it is in short, sweet and simple language: US Armed Forces go after Nations, We the People take on EVERY OTHER DAMN THREAT.

Now some of you may just be wondering where this silly notion comes from that Citizens are actually responsible for such things. It is Our agreement as a People amongst Ourselves in this compact known as the Constitution. Where is it stated? In the very first sentence in which We the People declare what We shall do to make this Nation. That first sentence as Preamble to the Constitution has no part, whatsoever in the outlay of responsibilities in the Federal Government that the rest of that document lays out. We put this Constitution together and swear to uphold it as Citizens: We come together to take on the responsibilities of BEING A NATION. We put forth limited Government so that We may be Free and have liberty, justice, safety and due process of law. The Government is an instantiation of a method to do these things, but it is NOT responsible for them. We the People are responsible. The first sentence is Our Responsibilities that We take up as Citizens. Which, you may be shocked to find out, *includes* providing for the common defense. If no one else is around and you can slow up or even stop a threat to the Nation by sacrificing your life... then guess what? We thank You for Your sacrifice.

So, three examples to demonstrate that I do think along a different set of pathways when approaching events, actions and activities. When I opine that there are *not* two sides to any problem, that is because We the People reserve, to Ourselves, the entire spectrum of capability and possibilities of which black and white are mere slivers out at the end points and even then things extend beyond them into the non-visible areas. We get THOSE TOO. People are *shocked* and *amazed* and *surprised* that there exist other castings of events that are not only wholly different than what they are told, but also wholly valid in their perception and conception spaces.

There are *not* two sides to the problems in Iraq. I go over this looking at the question of a Civil War in Iraq, multiple times. First here, in which I show there are *not* two sides in Iraq. Then I look at what is going on and demonstrate that, no, there are other ways to fight there if we wanted to use them. But that mid-echelon command structure is in the way now, isn't it? Can't fight a new war in a new way... send them to the Maginot Line for a tour. And for everyone saying that what is going on is a Civil War, I point out that the number of automatic weapons in such a thing would give us truly horrific body counts. Show me the bodies in their hundreds and thousands every day and THEN I will believe you.

Even worse is that I offer a different methodology to use there ,while fighting is still going on, that is a bolster to the CIVIL side of Iraq. Not that anyone ever thinks about *that* little problem overmuch. Complain about Iraqi's and corruption? Guess what. So do they! It is easy to predict Civil War in Iraq, and those doing so join the chorus of Fisk and Monbiot and Michael Moore: you are in good company of you like those folks. I look at it definitionally and see something different going on. What do I see? A myriad of faultlines being exposed throughout the Middle East and throughout Islam. These cross along lines that are both understandable and complex and are NOT amenable to saying the intersection of events represents a this or that concept. And, no, it is not simply Shia/Sunni: there are more sects and more intrasect rivalries than anyone, even the folks who live there, can keep track of. And that is ONLY for religion not even touching tribal, ethnic and old culture problems. And those, also, split along many different lines. Also the provincialism and 'our people are better at this than yours' folks... and that is not even touching upon which town has the wiser Imam or tribal Elder!

Civil War? We should be so LUCKY as to get that!

Now, secondly, to you folks who think that a three-way partition of Iraq will 'naturally' separate out into Kurd/Sunni/Shia: I invite you to look at the Balkans. Divide up Iraq and it will sub-divide... and splinter... you will end up with something far, far worse than just three states... you will end up with an incohesive mass to the South of Kurds. This will spread a generalized war into Iran as ethnic, tribal and racial bonds do *not* discriminate at borders. and once you give folks the fine idea that borders are up for grabs, the whole things falls apart. Yugoslavia was not an enlightened State by any means and used brute force to keep the thing together. What happened when that went away? Did we see just two or three States appear? Ever hear of FYROM? A State that can't call itself by its proper name and goes by: Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Greeks are getting worried at Macedonian Nationalism. Why? Alexander was a Macedonian. Belisarius came from Thrace.

Now imagine *that* happening first to Iraq, then spreading into Iran, Jordan, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey. Is this *really* what you want to start? Explain to me how stable Iran is... or Jordan... or Syria... or Pakistan and tell me how they will all be able to stop this fracturing as it spreads. You think things are a mess *now*? Tell me about it.

Number three on my list of fun things in Iraq and why pulling out or trying to do something *different* like dividing the entire Middle East into tiny States is a bad idea, is this: there is just barely enough organizational structure in Iraq that if the US just *left* it would undergo a coup and be taken over by the Iranian backed Shia. Instead of being ruled by Iraqi backed Shia. Got that? Little different cast to things, isn't that? You would be pulling the *exact* same stunt that the US did in South Viet Nam and leaving a People that We have extended a helping hand to and then say: 'Oh, its taking to long, time for you to fall into the pit now.'

I am amazed that the United States lasted as long as it did fighting the Barbary Pirates... the young Republic stood up for itself and bled horrifically for decades, and the Barbary Wars were very, very short compared to some conflicts the US has been in. But those fine folks made decisions for themselves, and didn't grant their 'elites' the time of day and felt that a Free People should work things out without being told what their limits were by 'elites'. You want to run? No stomach for fighting? Or is it that you think your neighbor wants us to go? Or maybe just no good conception of how to express your frustration except to just throw up your hands and give up. That is what the 'elites' believe of you. And those 'elites' lie through omission, commission and giving a nice, thing gloss to things that are rough and will take no gloss yet.

That gets me to point four on this 'two-sided' view... oh, my! Guess it isn't two sided, is it? This one is relatively simple and straightforward if you bother to think about it for a moment. Well, as simple as I get, at least, which, I am told, resembles a Rubik's cube twisting through Escher spaces. And that is, as if you hadn't guessed it, Iraq is the frontline of a war. Not the physical, bleeding kind of war, but a war that started with the Peace of Westphalia and gave us Nation States as Sovereigns that could do whatever they liked within their borders. The will to *keep* that as a concept is being attacked. Iraq is the fulcrum and turning point on this and is critical to the long term survival of the Nation State concept. The force lines going from Iran and from the Wahabbi construction of the world is to put us back on the long road to Empires.

To get a lasting and just Peace in the Middle East, the very foundations of Imperial thought and their support structures must go and Nation States be seen as the ONLY legitimate actors on the Global stage between Peoples. The UN and 'NGO's and 'charitable front groups' and 'armed political parties' are all destroying the Nation State and Our respect for it. All of those things must go. Preaching that there will only be one religion by *force* must go along with the spread of such virulent doctrine. Terrorism must be absolutely delegitimized and fought... fought very, very hard, until it is given up and seen as barbaric.

And since no one else has the guts to put out what to do on THAT front, either, I did so with my Goals in the Global War on Terror. Not timetables. Not schedules. Goals: things to work towards. Since I got into the conceptual mode I started my own Political Party of One to address these things and more. And the Foreign Policy is short, sweet and to the point: stand with Friends and Allies and strengthen THEM with free trade, put tariffs on the rest, and exclude enemies and hunt them down and kill them. A direct approach without this trying to cast things into a moral equivalence space of either/or, pro/con, Liberal/Conservative, Left/Right. Because what is being fought is Barbarism and it is coalescing before Our eyes.

Our ancestors would have stood up to fight no matter the time, blood, money and sacrifice involved.

Because Freedom and Liberty are Priceless and must be paid for in the coin that is asked for it: Our Lives.

We can pay a little now and secure it for Ourselves and extend it forward as other generations before Ours have done.

Or We will all pay under the beheading sword because it is not worth fighting for and lose the dream of Freedom We have worked so hard to earn.

And that First Sentence that Preambles the Constitution tells you Who pays.

Pay now as a society, or pay later with Your life.

Either way works, but only one keeps Liberty and Freedom so that it may be passed on.

29 August 2006

Things I have been tracking down, but not much fun - WIP

Looking over at Alabama Liberation Front on the State Dept. Official and the Tanzanite trade. I am finding much smoke and, well, much smoke. Original article of note from al-Reuters via Washington Post:

U.S. diplomat charged with taking bribes for visas
Friday, August 25, 2006; 5:27 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. diplomat was charged on Friday with accepting trips with exotic dancers, jewelry and entertainment in exchange for issuing visas to 21 people linked to an international jewel distributor.

U.S. Foreign Service officer Michael O'Keefe, 59, and international jeweler Sunil Agrawal were indicted by a grand jury in Washington on three counts of conspiracy and bribery

The indictment said between 2004 and 2006 Agrawal gave round-trip airline tickets to O'Keefe and two exotic dancers to travel to New York and Las Vegas. Agrawal paid for hotels, expensive meals and entertainment during the trips.

Agrawal also gave O'Keefe jewelry, other gifts and a job reference, the indictment said. In exchange, O'Keefe helped expedite visa requests for employees of Agrawal's company, STS Jewels Inc. He issued visas to 21 people sponsored by Agrawal.
This leads to this issue of the Gem Forecaster vol.20, No.1:

The tanzanite market is suffering due to "bad press" and an oversupply of material. Prices were already weak before the Wall Street Journal and ABC News stories. Tanzanites at this year's show were being offered at a 30-50% discount from last year. It is too early to tell if this price drop is permanent or temporary. The US Department of State, following a summit at the show, declared there is no present link between tanzanite and terrorism. In response to past allegations that the tanzanite trade benefits terrorist organizations, the Tucson Tanzanite Protocol was formed in Tucson on February 9. The steps outlined in this proposal include implementing a system of downstream warranties for traders who buy, sell, cut, polish, set or otherwise trade tanzanite. An analysis of the tanzanite market will be conducted to determine what improvements can be made to prevent abuse, and a mandate will be issued requiring traders only to accept tanzanite that is accompanied by a written warranty. The purpose is to implement actions aimed at protecting the legitimacy of tanzanite.

In more bad news for this gemstone, a wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by wives of Cantor Fitzgerald employees, a New York police officer and the father of a New York firefighter against dealers of tanzanite. The suit alleges ties between the trade of the gemstone and Osama Bin Laden. Filed in federal court in Manhattan on February 14, it seeks an injunction banning New York dealer STS Jewelers, Inc. from selling tanzanite and forcing the company to donate past tanzanite proceeds to a September 11 relief fund. The suit also seeks $1 billion in compensatory damages from several other defendants, including the Tanzanite Mineral Dealers Association (TAMIDA).
As seen at the original Alabama link. Now a bit of digging leads to this Gem Forecaster vol. 23, No. 4 article:

The Tanzanite Foundation
An Interview with Sarah Cort
by Robert Genis

Although we do not recommend Tanzanite as a collector gemstone due to the fact it is heated, we admire the marketing prowess TanzaniteOne, the biggest player in the tanzanite market. Their marketing arm is the Tanzanite Foundation. The marketing strategy is politically correct branding and jewelers should consider this product. We spoke to Sarah Cort of Global Operations, regarding their plans.

Gemstone Forecaster: What do you mean by Ethical Mining?

Sarah Cort: The Tanzanite Foundation is founded on The Tucson Tanzanite Protocols, which outline best practice principles for trading and mining of tanzanite. These protocols detail and promote that tanzanite must follow a legitimate and transparent route to market with a traceable chain of warranties. The Tucson Tanzanite Protocols were drawn up in 2002 as in response to an alleged link between tanzanite and terrorism. Following this allegation, the US State department conducted a full investigation into the tanzanite industry, repudiated these allegations and gave tanzanite and its industry a “clean bill of health”.

The Tanzanite Foundation promotes ethical mining which means that we endorse that correct safety precautions are taken when mining, that best employment practices are adhered to and that due consideration is given to the environment when mining. Therefore, exports follow a legitimate route and that the correct taxes and duties are paid on all exports to the Tanzanian government. We aim to protect tanzanite’s integrity and preserve its reputation.
So, act getting cleaned up, somewhat. Thus time to follow this lead to the Jewlers Circular Keystone magazine 19 FEB 2002:

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, Feb. 15 that three lawyers have filed a suit on behalf of Sept. 11 victims that names dealers of tanzanite and targets alleged ties between the tanzanite trade and Osama bin Laden.

The wrongful death action reportedly filed in federal court in New York City seeks an injunction banning STS Jewels Inc., a large New York City tanzanite dealer, from selling the gem and forcing the company to contribute all past tanzanite-sale proceeds to a court-supervised Sept. 11 victims relief fund.

The suit also reportedly seeks $1 billion in damages from the other defendants, including the Tanzanite Mineral Dealers Association (TAMIDA). The lawsuit alleges that the defendants knew their tanzanite sales helped support bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network. Because bin Laden masterminded the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the suit also contends the tanzanite dealers are also liable for the attacks.

This is despite the fact that U.S. State Department officer of East African Affairs, Mike O'Keefe stated that while there is no doubt that there was an Al Qaeda operative selling tanzanite to finance the embassy bombing in 1998, there is absolutely no new connection between the tanzanite trade and smuggling in support of the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
"We have seen no evidence that Al Qaeda or any other terrorist group is currently using tanzanite sales to finance its efforts to launder money, " O'Keefe said to an audience at the AGTA Gem Fair, Feb. 8. When asked by reporters about the Wall Street Journal's article (that allegedly linked tanzanite to the terrorist network and which the newspaper cited as the inspiration for the law suit), O'Keefe suggested that while all of WSJ research seemed correct, the State Department and U.S. intelligence came to a much different conclusion. "And we have considerably more investigative power than the Wall Street Journal."

In addition, representatives of the Tanzanite community vehemently denied any connection between their industry and al Qaeda, the newspaper reported.

Despite these statements, lawyers for the plaintiffs told the newspaper that their investigation shows otherwise.

The suit also names as defendants, bin Laden, the former Taliban government of Afghanistan, the Iraqi government, and accused Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.

The suit was brought on behalf of the wives of a Cantor Fitzgerald LP broker and a New York police officer, and the father of a New York firefighter, the newspaper reported. The plaintiffs are currently anonymous but will probably have to disclose their identities if the case continues.

The lawyers for the plaintiffs are Paul Hanly of New York, a corporate defense lawyer who has defended asbestos clients, Mark Lanier of Texas, well-known for winning large judgments against the asbestos industry, and Ed Hayes, described in the newspaper article as a celebrity criminal and media lawyer who represents Robert DeNiro, had a cameo role in the movie "GoodFellas," and was the inspiration for a defense lawyer in the Tom Wolfe novel, "Bonfire of Vanities."
So, much on that pre-trial.

A bit of further searching on my part led to this Google Cache from Africa Gems:
Update Feb 6th, 2002

Recent Wall Street Journal article links Tanzanite Trade to Osama Bin Laden terrorist network
On November 16 the Wall Street Journal published a report accusing dealers at the source of supporting the terrorist network.

According to the article, ". . . Muslim extremists loyal to Mr. bin Laden buy stones from miners and middlemen, smuggling them out of Tanzania to free-trade havens such as Dubai and Hong Kong." The authors point to a local mosque as the center of both anti-American sentiment and gem trading: "After prayers, the mosque's courtyard becomes an open-air gem-dealing space, where [imam] Sheik Omari and other mosque leaders trade Tanzanite with small-time miners. In between haggling, the elders preach the virtues of suicide attacks as a way to defend their faith."

The Tanzanian Mineral Dealers Association (TAMIDA) issued a press release refuting the Wall Street Journal charges. "Upon investigation of the radical mosque described in the story, TAMIDA has found it staffed by a young cleric, 27 years of age, called Mudir Omar Suleiman of the Ansari sect of Sunni Muslims. He denies having talked to any American or South African reporter, period," read the release. " . . . 'Sheik' Omari, as described in the article, is in fact not a Sheik, and Aman Mustapha, also so described, appears to be an alias because three days of intense investigation has failed to uncover anyone by this name. Mudir Omar also does not know of this individual and is definitely not a teacher at the mosque. Further, the mosque described in the story is not under construction, but rather a completed shack of corrugated sheets and discarded timber. Mudir Omar asks people to look at this humble mosque, which barely holds 30 people, and states that if he were dealing in Tanzanite, the mosque would not be in this condition."

As for whether or not there are bin Laden supporters among the Tanzanite miners of Merelani: "In any crowd, anywhere in the world, it is not unusual to find either pro-bin Laden or anti-American sentiments, or vice versa. This does not mean that people in Merelani's Tanzanite trade are for bin Laden, or are forced to sell to Muslim extremists," as the Wall Street Journal article claimed.
A bit of local reporting does go a long way!

Now time to take at the American Gem Trade Association and we get this document on the status of the Tucson Protocols for the Tanzanite trade, from which I excerpt:
(p5 or 7 of 20)

The State Department requested intelligence reports from all services in preparation for the Summit. The State Department spokesman assured the participants that all intelligence sources agreed that there was no evidence of that al-Qaida was currently involved in the tanzanite trade. A private New York jeweler took the initiative to obtain the trial records of an al-Qaida operative named Wadih el- Hage, who was convicted in the bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. He is the only link ever mentioned as being associated with tanzanite. The trial records, including the defendant’s private diaries, allowed dealers to satisfy themselves that el-Hage had not ever succeeded in penetrating the trade, although it was clear that he had tried to do so from Nairobi in 1995. El- Hage’s lawyer confirmed that his client had attempted to enter the tanzanite trade as a small broker between 1995 and 1997, but had never succeeded in becoming a factor in the market.1 Trial records and the diaries show that el-Hage first attempted to earn a living by starting a refugee relief organization. When that failed he tried marketing anything that could be exported from East Africa, including hides, sesame seed, meat, etc.

(10 or 12 of 20)

Both Kenya and Tanzania suffered from al- Qaida terrorism when the U.S. Embassies in those countries were bombed in 1998. Most of the more than 250 deaths were Kenyans and Tanzanians. The two governments tracked down the perpetrators, with U.S. assistance, and both have continued to keep a close watch on suspected al-Qaida sympathizers.
So the State Dept. is saying not much going on. Digging a bit further on the trade portion of this leads to Professional Jewlers Magazine archive and this 02 MAY 2002 entry, which I excerpt this:
An online article in a jewelry trade publication quoted the Federation of Small Scale Miners Association of Tanzania saying “recent investigations have indeed uncovered businesses and businesspeople with alleged ties to terrorist groups.” This differed from denials issued previously by other Tanzanian dealer groups, including TAMIDA, which represents 90% of the country’s tanzanite dealers. The online article quoted Lorraine Braden, who identified herself as the small-scale miners’ emissary in the U.S., saying “many of those so involved [with terrorist groups] have been detained and questioned by the relevant Tanzanian law enforcement authorities and others, including the FBI.” The good news, she said, was “they are by no means in the majority.”

On Nov. 28, 2001, a follow-up article in The Wall Street Journal quoted Braden and the online story. In Tanzania, however, Braden drew fire for her comments. “She is basically a self-appointed individual who does not speak with any authority for miners, dealers or the Tanzanian government,” says TAMIDA Chairman Sammy Mollel. “Her comments should be completely disregarded.”

But the damage had already been done. “The perception in the trade that spokespersons for Tanzania admitted links to al Qaeda was probably the first news to cause damage within the industry,” says Suleman. Television retailer QVC responded by suspending tanzanite sales.

In mid-December, an ABC News segment aired on the reported tanzanite/terrorist link. It showed pages from an al Qaeda operative’s notepad that included numbers – possibly leading viewers to think the scribbled figures represented large tanzanite sales. ABC News suggested U.S. retailers were selling a tainted product. By then, Tiffany & Co, which in the late 1960s named the African gem, had pulled the product from its showcases. Later, Zale Corp. dropped tanzanite too. Avram says his sales of tanzanite plummeted 35% as other jewelers shunned the gem.


Among the evidence Avram compiled were several notepads written by el Hage (Editor’s Note: Court documents refer to them as notepads while WSJ calls them a diary). The notepads mention tanzanite and other gems. Gems were mentioned during the trial, mostly in relation to a business partner in the mid-1990s, a Kenyan named Mohamed Ali Oudeh. Ali Oudeh, who still brokers gems and other consumer products, is not connected to al Qaeda.

An FBI exhibit said el Hage had trouble making ends meet while living in Kenya and tried to enter the tanzanite business. Court transcripts and interviews with Ali Oudeh, who was called as a witness for the defense, back up el Hage’s lack of capital. In fact, his attempts to sell tanzanite in Europe and the U.S. were so dismal he had to borrow 70 British pounds just to complete his trip. “The transcripts and exhibits never show any evidence of tanzanite being sold, especially not to finance al Qaeda,” says Avram.

A lawyer for el Hage confirmed the gem dealer’s assessment. “There was not any evidence offered that any money Mr. el Hage may have received as payment for tanzanite was ever used or transferred for the purpose of use for terrorist or illegal activity,” says Joshua L. Dratel, el Hage’s attorney, in a letter to Avram. In fact, discussion of gems was a relatively small part of trial documents, says Avram. Prosecutors were trying to establish how el Hage aided the terrorist cell that bombed the U.S. Embassies in East Africa, but U.S. investigators and trial lawyers said tanzanite was not determined to have been a financial vehicle for the cell.

As the pieces began to fall into place, Avram recalled the ABC News broadcast: “Hadn’t they shown actual figures of tanzanite sold?” He reviewed a tape of the broadcast, locating the section that showed the figures from el Hage’s notepad and finding that page from the court documents. “The page listed numbers all right, but they were not dollar figures, as viewers were led to believe,” says Avram. “They were telephone and fax numbers. The words ‘fax’ and ‘office’ [which el Hage had scribbled alongside the numbers] were covered over by other documents during filming.”

“It was a final part of the mystery solved,” says Avram. “I understood there never was proof of a connection, and my instincts that tanzanite has too low a relative value to be of interest to al Qaeda proved true.” In February, the U.S. State Department agreed, clearing tanzanite of any current connection with al Qaeda or of any ties to the events of Sept. 11. Nevertheless, the industry formed a Tanzanite Task Force to create a system of warranties – from the mine to the retailer – so consumers can be assured tanzanite is protected from infiltration by terrorists.

Because some retailers still appear reluctant to put tanzanite back into their inventories until the system of warranties is in place, the gem’s future remains unresolved. Avram says the gem clearly needs and deserves the support of retailers who were so quick to drop it. “Tanzanite sales need to continue to help deserving Africans who mine it, provide a living for those who trade in it and delight those who wear it,” he says. “Tanzanite should not be listed as another innocent victim of al Qaeda.”
Again, looking at lots of smoke and accusations, but little heat nor fire. But, Tanzanite being a low volume trade is probably not a great way to fund terrorism. If you are using a globally distributed network for financing with low overhead it is on the very fringes of *that*, but overhead is a killer and unless the dollar figures are large, which is not indicated, then there is no real good reason for terrorists to spend money *here* when charitable giving gets them money for *free*.

I consider Walid el-Hage to be a ne'er-do-well sort of guy, as backed up by this Fronline look at his career. He came from a catholic family in Lebanon which didn't like his conversion to Islam... and he then took on the 'terrorist tour' of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, heading back to Pakistan with his wife and mother-in-law to help Afghan refugees, was part of a conspiracy to kill the leader of a Tucson mosque in 1990, served as an intermediary for those looking to get weapons agains Meir Kahane, implicated in the death of an Afghan Refugee Center leader in 1991, became involved with the 1993 WTC bombers two of whom he had been involved with for a couple of years, moved to Sudan in 1992 to be Osama bin Laden's secretary and had many business transactions under his purview... the list is long and extensive and includes Tanzania and Kenya before the al Qaeda bombings there and may have been part or operated with the 'East African Cell' that pulled off the bombings...

So his contacts are diverse within the terrorist community, stretching to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Kenya, Lebanon, Kuwait... and involved with people who had conspired to kill others in Tucson, Brooklyn... and finally part of al Qaeda.

Terrorist Central gives a roundup of him with a short bio here.

Not a nice man, but the tracking of his contacts and groups now is something difficult to do because of time. Although the Tanzanite trade looks dry, there are other gemstones from places that al Qaeda has or does operate. But tracking down laundry lists of possibilities is a long time in searching and coming up with something and I am not up to that task.

The other thing I have been working on is the NOLA engineering, its failures and some of the reasoning behind them. Below are my working notes, not edited:
Mississippi river depth, length, width at NOLA vital.

Pascal's Law

pressure = density of fluid (fresh water is 1000 kg/m^3) x force of gravity (9.8 m/s^2) x h (in meters)

this would be pressure acting down by the fluid above in Pascals (Pa)

Flow rate is equal to that pressure minus the resistivity of the pipe (kPa)

Bernoulli's Law

(v^2)/2 + gravitational potential energy per unit mass + fluid enthalpy per unit mass = constant

Physical characteristics of water!

And lets take a typical summer's day in NOLA: 90 degress F or 32 degrees celsius

Temp: 32.00 degrees C

Pressure (Pa) = 101325

Saturation vapor pressure (Pa) = 4754

Density (kg/m3) = 995.09

Specific enthalpy (kj/kg) = 134.11

Specific enthalpy (kcal/kg) = 32.03

Specific heat (kj/kg) = 4.178

Specific heat (kcal/kg) = 0.998

Volume heat capacity (kj/m3) = 4157.73

Dynamic viscosity (kg/m.s.) = 0.000765

Pressure along the column is depth dependent and final bottom force is equal to total above, sides vary by depth as water column changes pressure.

Some Mississippi factoids

Speed Mississippi is typically 1.2 mph (0.536 448 meter/second)

Depth (NOLA) between Algiers point and Gov. Nicholls Wharf it is 200' ( aprox 61 m.)

Sediment load average is 436,000 tons/day (395,532,547 kilograms/day or 4,578 kg/second)

Flow rate NOLA: 600,000 cu.ft./s (16,990 cu.m./s)

One cubic foot of water weighs 62.4 pounds.

Mass at NOLA for flow rate: 16,982,498 kg/s

Size of shipping channel: 45' (13.716 m)

8 m/pixel on map

Short width 1120 m

Long width 1224 m

Length at bend 11,760m

So, time to plug in numbers!

Now the deep part of the river is 61 m. call that the center 2/6

Shipping channel is the majority at 13.716 m. call that 3/6

Near shore, maybe 10 m.? 1/6

Average call it 30 m. for round numbers

Stoke's Law

settling velocity = 2 (density sediment-density fluid)*gravity*radius of particle^2/9*dynamic viscosity of fluid

v=(2*density sediment- 2*density fluid)*gravity*radius^2/9*viscosity

((velocity * 9 *viscosity)/g *(2*density sediment - 2*density fluid))^1/2 = radius

Lake Pontchartrain depth ~ 4m
Now I have plugged in the numbers and gotten some interesting results.

The turbid flow and discharge raises the water density from the previously stated
995.09 kg/m^3 to 999.56 kg/m^3 using the above flow output given for the Mississippi and flow rate. Yes a measly few tenths of a percent, about 0.45%, but that does increase pressure a bit... necessary for determining things.

So, as they say, I leave it up to the student to do the math from there... I suggest a spreadsheet.

That's it for now... you do not want to *know* the hours I have put into this stuff....

27 August 2006

Once and for all, who 'outed' Valerie Plame?

Yes, I wrote on this once and my contention still stands.

Valerie Plame was in the socialite circles enough to mingle with and meet high-flying Ambassador Joe Wilson.

In 1998, she married him.

You cannot be both a covert agent and do that thing.

That is an abdication of your responsibility as a covert agent.

You can only do that after a 5 year waiting period to clean up your tracks.

By all accounts in the Intel Community Valerie Plame was outed in 1991 and 1992.

She waited 5 years.

She married a high-flying Ambassador.

Who outed Valerie Plame?

The answer, in chorus, please:


26 August 2006

Separating stories, news, analysis and facts in the Media

I have previously spent time looking at the means and methods the MSM and factual reporting media, be they traditional (print/publication), electronic (CD distribution, physical media of electronic storage) or online, to actually make their 'first cut' edits of history available to the public. Initially I laid this out in an overview some have called the 'photojournalist code of ethics', but what I think of as the means and methodology to ensure that factual reporting is *not* distorted by manipulation of images.

A follow up on that is how to institute a review board or distributed community of reviewers to then examine images of an event, place them in geospatial context and then derive timelines of events with defined levels of uncertainty. Within the digital media capture systems available today, and for some number of years, metadata indicating camera type, shutter speed, focal length, flash or ambient lighting and many other pieces of information are captured at the instant of the photo itself. It is easy to manipulate the metadata, but difficult to do that enmass and retain a coherent timeline in regards to others that do *not* manipulate their metadata. Further, images captured by known arrays of silicon have definite hard physical data capture attributes within the color spectrum and in good old resolution. It is the former that becomes more difficult to simulate although it is possible to set up an alternate color space for image manipulation and then work on images within that color space. Doing that, in combination with manipulating metadata is not easy and demonstrates malice aforethought when they are done. Once fully acceptable images are verified a full recounting of events using geospace objects (buildings, roads, items in the images) and time setting (both from metadata and from physical characteristics of the background lighting) can then put error bounds on place, position, direction and time that an image can be taken. To get this done for multiple cameras for multiple reporters is difficult unless the fact based reporting industry is open and honest about their work and make their archives available. Closing archives and not making them available must now be seen as not having faith in the images taken, the editorial review/oversight upon them and is indicative of blatant hiding behind a wall of 'we didn't have to do that yesterday!' mentality. Times change, storage is cheap, network access is cheap and copyrights can *still* be honored as using archival and non-used images for forensic analysis is 'fair use' by all definitions of that term. Profit is not going to be *made* from such, but careers will be made and ended based on the transparency and honesty of those who do make their work available. As a side-light some number of these images will most likely get *bought* for publication or 'for profit' use, thus adding a low stream of income from purely archived and unused material.

The reason to do this *now* is that computer storage, processing and rendition capability are moving much more sophisticated tools from the realm of hollywood studios to the desktop. Creating realistic characters and, indeed, entire photorealistic movies is now within the realm of possibility as seen in the recent Final Fantasy film, and various other films that rely heavily on computer graphics animation. Thus the ability to stage entire scenes, using animated actors and give it a verisimilitude is closing in upon the masses. And the temptation to fraudulently stage an entire scenes via desktop computer graphics will be pressing hard upon the bounds of depictions of 'reality'. Without these things are not unknown in the graphic arts and media industries and have been hot topics for a decade. The reaction of: 'we didn't think this was possible' or 'no one thought to look for this' is an absolute fiction and direct lie. No one who *works* in the factual reporting and graphics industry thinks that these things would *not* be a problem. And to address these problems newer means and methods *beyond* the editorial desk are necessary to establish just who is and is not an honest broker of image captures of reality.

The purely text-based media *also* has its problems of misreporting, misrepresenting and outright fabrication of events. One does not have to dig back years, but mere weeks to find such things and find that they are ongoing and continuous. The Washington Post was called to task on its misreporting of the reconstruction effort in Iraq. In that article the reporters lied by omission (by not telling of ongoing work in lieu of past work) and lied by misrepresenting past Inspector General reports from three years ago as ongoing problems. They also lied by not properly casting the work being done within the bounds of the Federal Budgetary cycle, which is a huge gaff for ANY newspaper that is based in the home town of the Federal Government. By not reporting that and the necessary background on HOW Federal contracting works, the reporters also lied by commission by neglecting to put current work into context. They report the figures and say how bad they are when, in point of fact and actual knowledge of the Federal Budget cycle, the figures are *wonderful*. They were taken to task on this misreporting, misrepresentation and set of falsifications by the General in charge of the the suite of reconstruction efforts in IRAQ.

A more direct affront to the public is the lack of contextual information for ongoing events, and here, again, I will use the fighting in Iraq as it is a prime example of what one is told and not told via the media. We are bombarded by 'how ineffectual the Iraqis are' and 'how they are not up to the fight' and that the US 'still is protecting their Nation and they are unwilling to help'. You can find these things on multiple news and commentary sites via the MSM. In point of fact, just the opposite is true. I reviewed the actual state of affairs as the MNF transferred full and complete responsibility for over 50% of the territory of Iraq to the Iraqi Army. Not only are Iraqis willing to take up the fight, as seen by their increasing casualty rates, but they are now operating autonomously in these provinces that are under their complete control.

The other thing used by the MSM is the 'death toll' on either the US Forces, MNF, Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police or Iraqi Civilians. Each bombing or shooting is given as a 'drumbeat of failure' and we have heard *that* from politicians on the Right and Left. Many have called this *police blotter* reporting. So, I took a look at the entire police blotter equivalent for the goings-on in Iraq, which is freely available to anyone on the net. I do leave out the 'drumbeat' stuff as it is mere punctuation against an ongoing roar... firm, continuous and not stopping... that roar is the daily capture of weapons caches, finding insurgents/terrorists/sectarian militias, rounding them up or killing them in firefights, their movement into the Iraqi judicial system and their convictions by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq. A number of them are getting *life* sentences and being taken off the streets *permanently*. The entire 'police blotter' gives that, while the 'drumbeat' event here and event there do NOT.

By not reporting context the entire text and speech/visuals based media system misrepresents events and plays *up* blood on the streets and plays *down* ongoing and advancing work. It is difficult to report on 'peaceful areas with everyday life going on'. Much easier to use the equivalent of the drum heard once a day and claim it is the symphony entire. This set of 'facts' then plays into an ideological community that is looking for partisan 'bad news' to use as ammunition against their opposition and they incredulously take in these pre-digested 'facts' and then respout them in a method and manner to imply much worse things going on. I do a quick analysis of a part of one of these here, and find that I had to spend up so much time chasing down factual information that had been buried by misreporting and poor analysis that it is no *wonder* that folks might see this as *complicated*. When one has to spend two or three hours to find out what the actual facts are behind a glossy sentence indicting things, you find that the MSM, in feeding out misrepresentations now allows an entire ecology to feed on falsehoods.

If anyone looking to move to your town or city just used the front page of the local newspaper and scanned that, and only that, for a few months, I would dare say that the level of crime, deaths, fires, incompetent government, poor schools, bad libraries, fraud, ineptitude and ungrateful public would make someone want to look elsewhere... until they realized that they saw the exact same thing everywhere. At that point you either have to conclude that the entire world is rotten and nothing will fix it... or that those putting out headlines are doing so to grab attention and sales. Headlines only tell a story when they are about major, earthshattering events that change the course of history: The Constitution, Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Fiery Sinking of the USS Maine, Sinking of the Lusitania, Attack on Pearl Harbor, 9/11 Attacks. If large and nasty things are *not* put on the front page, then they would be filled with lots of tiny stories, small pictures and no visually appealing 'headline'. Which is why people like to actually *visit* the neighborhood or town they will be moving to and check it out... because NOTHING is as bad as the media reports.

When David D. Perlmutter wrote a piece on fraudulent images and such for Editor & Publisher I was, frankly, quite astonished at the lack of veracity being given to the problem and wrote them about this and the need to address this from an institutional and profession-based standpoint by those professionals actually working with these things as their stock and trade. And gave similar commentary here. Instead they gave a platform to someone who decided 'to defend war reporters'. And here, again, I find the individual in question to take a purely partisan position that we should trust the media, itself, and then brings up something to show why this is so, but, instead, illustrates my very FIRST point on this problem EXACTLY:

Just this morning, a blogger emailed me his latest "scoop." Remember those photos a few days ago showing "Made in USA" signs posted here and there amid the rubble of South Beirut? This fellow is convinced that an AP photog wrote the signs, in a certain font, on his computer -- and pasted them into his image.

One problem with the theory: E&P happens to have photos taken by others that show exactly the same thing – but the blogger will no doubt now claim that all of these highly competitive photogs conspired on this.
That is *not* a problem with 'theory' it is the ENTIRE PROBLEM encapsulated. News organizations are NOT TRANSPARENT and have no reason to give assertion that what they are saying is truthful, accurate and verifiable. This is not a glowing example of how truthful the media is, but an example of how, by not showing transparency for their reporting and coverage, they give rise to questions about their ability TO report truthfully. If this individual wants to *end* conspiracy theories, then he would SUPPORT full and open transparency by the media in all of its forms. He then goes on to cite an example by the NYT that was uncovered by individuals DOING multiple image analysis across multiple media sources who pointed out the misapplication of coverage by the NYT... and cites this as if it was the media correcting ITSELF and not the outsiders who were doing the correcting. That is pure fabrication and insulting to the intelligence of anyone following these stories. His following example of a dead child being put up for multiple picture examples is purely missing the point:
Another photog, Stuart Isett, asked, referring to rescuers displaying the body of one child over and over: "How are the pictures misleading? The child is dead and the subject was showing this to the cameras -- that's how any intelligent reader would view these images. The man in the image has every right to show this dead child to the world -- this happens all the time in terrible situations.
It is not about the child being dead. It is about the totally heartless way that partisans in a conflict are displaying dead bodies, including those of children, for media photo ops and continuing to do so long after the body should have been in an ambulance to a morgue. Strange how all of these photographers can get there quickly, dead bodies displayed for HOURS, the photographers LEAVE and *then* the bodies taken away. That is pure partisan display of the dead for propaganda purposes. If the reporters never ask themselves: 'how could I get here and leave so quickly and yet they could find NO vehicles to transport their dead away?' then anything reported from that site is NOT news. It is pure reporting for propaganda purposes and entirely without context of basis of showing ANY respect for the dead.

In his second look at the photo coverage in Lebanon, this same individual is given further space by E&P to continue his assertions that ethical coverage is going on. And lots of fine quotations from individual photographers are given and summed up with: 'The best we can do is our best to give ethical coverage', and gets an 'Amen to that' by that writer. What is lacking, in whole, is that reporting on set-up, staged and other such events without reporting the context of the events is UNETHICAL in and of itself. It is a lie by omission of surrounding circumstances and facts. It is a complete and thorough abdication of the responsibilities of an ethical reporter to tell those circumstances instead of trying to get 'the story'. If one is being presented with a fabricated scene, then the reporting on the context of that scene IS the story. By reporting the scene one is reporting propaganda and not labeling it as such. That is allowing a purely partisan viewpoint to be purported as 'reality' and abhorrent to the concept of 'ethical reporting'.

Yes, photographers take images, but they also have eyes, ears and a mind to use them and MUST, as ethical journalists, report on the REST of their sensory apparatus and thoughts. They are the proxy for the public and by presenting images we are being denied the full input of that proxy for us. They are abdicating their responsibility to the public, their profession and, finally, themselves, for behaving in an unethical manner when they do not report these things.

I find it interesting that this individual, himself, has wholly fabricated a story early in his career (hattip: Protein Wisdom)and saw fit to 'come clean' about it... then not bother to have THAT mentioned when he talks about the veracity of OTHER reporters. There, again, he seems to be oblivious to the purely corrosive nature of the problems that factual misrepresentation and absolute fabrication have upon the public trust of the media. A month into his career and he had already seen fit to fabricate a story:
Since the press seems to be in full-disclosure mode these days, I want to finally come clean. Back when I worked for the Niagara Falls (N.Y.) Gazette (now the Niagara Gazette), our city editor asked me to find out what tourists thought about an amazing local event: Engineers had literally “turned off” the famous cataracts, diverting water so they could shore up the crumbling rock face. Were visitors disappointed to find a trickle rather than a roar? Or thrilled about witnessing this once-in-a-lifetime stunt?

I never found out. Oh, I went down to the falls, all right, but when I got there, I discovered that I just could not wander up to strangers (even dorky ones wearing funny hats and knee socks) and ask them for their personal opinions, however innocuous. It was a puffball assignment, but that wasn’t why I rebelled. I just could not bring myself to do it.

So I sat on a park bench and scribbled out a few fake notes and then went back to the office and wrote my fake story, no doubt quoting someone like Jane Smith from Seattle, honeymooning with her husband Oscar, saying something like, “Gosh, I never knew there was so much rock under there!”
So, puff pieces have no basis in reality nor in fact, I guess. Does he see 'puff piece' journalism as 'unworthy' journalism and not to adhere to ethical standards? And how hard can it be to interview TOURISTS? Now, granted, quite a few of them are from Japan and festooned with cameras, but their tour guide should be able to do a quick translation for you... I know, I lived in the WNY area and got to see the tourist population quite a bit. And beyond the 'puff' part of it, the hard and factual ENGINEERING could have gotten a bit of examination BEFOREHAND and then used as a 'did you know?' question to elicit responses to THAT work. Suddenly a little 'puff piece' turns into an understanding of hydrodynamic engineering and public perception of it. Neat stuff, if you were a journalist that took your responsibilities AS a journalist seriously. A little bit of puff can turn into something of mild interest with a bit of context.

I end where I began. The lack of context for reporting is killing the trust and faith of the public to have reporters be our proxy for news coverage. Stories are drowning out facts, pathos going over to become bathos... all because those doing the 'first cut of history' want to hide their work and give you 'finished product' instead of factual reporting separated from analysis. For the image capture world this is easy. For the text and speech world, this requires stepping back into the reportorial role and away from the analytical role and story coverage concept.

Tell us the facts so that they can speak for themselves.

24 August 2006

A Universe Away: Star Trek, a scene before chaos

So, let us cast our minds back to the original series... a time when you had enemies, you had means and yet did not want to touch of a Galactic War. And the Romulan Heavy Cruiser Actium, suddenly has its cloaking device go bad while it is deep in Gorn space on an intelligence mission. Discovered by a Gorn Frigate pack of six frigates small ships compared to the Actium but together more than a match. The Actium moves off at top sustainable speed, and its engines are slowly degrading even with 'sustainable'. The Gorns face a similar problem and their engines will go out proportionately faster due to their smaller size....

Commander Toksa: "Centurion, how long to the border?"

Centurion Bareth: "Commander, at this speed it will be three days to the border, and ship rescue by the fleet another day past that."

Toksa: "Engines?"

Bareth: "They will hold for three days, possibly four, Commander"

Toksa: "The Enemy? Will they hold that long?"

Bareth: "No, Commander. They only have two days at this speed, they cannot hold out to the border."

Toksa: "Those odds are better than a fight."

Bareth: "Yes, Commander. We would need slow, turn, charge weapons and attack, while they would overhaul us, pass us and then turn and do the same. We might take out one ship on passing and two more in combat."

Toksa: "Very good, Centurion. Keep me notified. All non-essential systems are to be shut down, keep speed."

Bareth: "Yes, Commander. This shall be done."

The Actium and the Gorn ships haul through space, a vast emptiness until the border region days away... but there will not be days left for the Actium. Two hours later...

Bareth: "Commander, the Enemy is gaining."

Toksa: "They have increased speed?"

Bareth: "No, Commander their ships stay within the speed envelope, their configuration has changed."

Toksa: "On display."

Toksa sees the rendition of the ships with the far scanner. They are in a line, not spread out... as he watches one ship shifts out, darts forward to the front of the line. As it takes its place the last ship also does the same. And this repeats over... and over... and over.

Toksa: "What is this? I have never heard of this before."

Bareth: "It is very unusual, Commander. Each ship goes at maximum velocity for a short period and then reduces speed once it is in lead position."

Toksa: "Lieutenant Adra, analysis."

Lt. Adra: "Sir. They are using these short bursts to gain on us and not over strain their engines. They have also reconfigured their warp envelopes."

Toksa, looking puzzled: "Explain?"

Lt. Adra: "Sir. They share common warp fields when in-line. The stress on the engines of each ship is reduced in proportion to the number in line."

Toksa, eyes slowly widening: "Tactical."

Bareth stands next to the tactical officer: "Commander, they are trickle charging their weapons."

Toksa blinks... sits back in his command chair: "How long until they are charged fully?"

Bareth squints at the tactical display, looks at Lt. Adra: "Sir. Their energy profile shows all phasers charged, plasma weapons at quarter charge and building."

Toksa: "Can we do similar, Centurion? Go on and off high speed like that?"

Bareth looks to his Commander: "Not and make the border, Commander. Our engines will not take that cycling due to heat stress. Their ships can as they are smaller and rid heat faster. And we would still not outrun them, they gain ship lengths too quickly."

Toksa, squinting his eyes at the line of ships gaining slowly: "If we turn to fight, they will overwhelm us. How long until they are within their main weapon's range?"

Bareth looks to Lt. Arda, who checks his station: "Sir. One hour to maximum effective range of known weapons for that class of ship."

Toksa: "Very clever."

Bareth, checking the tactical station, then looking across the bridge at the silent officers, staring into their work stations: "I had never heard of anything like this by anyone, Commander."

Toksa: "Spare energy to send a signal home, it does not matter now."

Bareth, looking to the communications officer and nods: "What do we do, Commander?"

Inside the Gorn ship Sting, the soft murmur of hissing was continuous. Gorns had always had a mass mind of individuals... alone they were quite reduced to savagery. Together they formed a web of thought that was unique in the Universe. The sussurus went through the ship... and communicated to one individual part of that massed, communicative structure...

'Tell us more about this ancient thing you learned of from the Federation Archives... this 'Indian Run'...'

And the engines whined with a sudden burst of speed and then went back to normal... heat discharging quickly via the radiation system... soon all Gorns would know this... and things would change...