Category Archives: GWOT

And prepare for a new crusade against Islam


Turns out the Crusades aren’t just a dimly remembered historical era, the Hholy wars launched to seize control of the Middle East and wi the world for Christianity.

They’re very much alive in the minds of the President elect’s National Security Adviser, and he outlines them in a new book, The Field of Fight, penned with Michael Ledeen, a former member of Ted Cruz’s campaign team the man who helped sell the George W. Bush administration on the infamous “yellow cake” forgery used as justification for the invasion of Iraq and the ultimate rise of ISIS.

Ledeen was also the key intermediary in the infamous Iran/Contra Affair that lead to a sale of arms to Iran in return for the promise to free the American Embassy hostages taken after the fall of the corrupt Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, a scandal that would permanently tarnish the Reagan administration. And he wants “regime change” in [read war with] Iran.

Oh, and he’s also alleged to have been a key ally of Italy’s spy services in trying to discredit Bill Clinton during his presidency, and he’s a notorious ally of the zealots in Israel’s Likud Party and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

[For a dissection of this infamous neocon, see this brilliant Vanity Fair dissection by Craig Unger.]

In other words, if you want a hoax to justify a war, Ledeen’s your go-to guy.

On to the story, from the Washington Post:

The next world war is already here. It’s a religious war. And the United States is losing.

Such is the vision of Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the retired Army three-star general who is set to become White House national security adviser after President-elect Trump takes the oath of office. Thus far, Flynn is best known for his fire-breathing speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer. But six days before leading GOP delegates in a frenzy of “USA!” and “Lock her up!” chants, Flynn published a book detailing this new fight — in his telling, a multi-generational and civilizational conflict against radical Islam. “We’re in a world war,” he writes, “but very few Americans recognize it, and fewer still have any idea how to win it.”

>snip<

Though he calls for “destroying the jihadi armies,” Flynn is as focused on ideological warfare as he is on drone strikes or special operators. While Trump has said he’ll pursue a closer relationship with Russia and Vladi-mir Putin, in his book Flynn regards Moscow as part of a worldwide “enemy alliance” against the United States and concludes that the Russian president is an untrustworthy partner in the fight against the Islamic State.

Perhaps most revealing, Flynn seems quite comfortable with the prospect of a religious war. “This kind of war is not at all new. It created our world,” he writes, citing the Protestant Reformation. “The world badly needs an Islamic Reformation, and we should not be surprised if violence is involved. It’s normal.”

In the parlance of the day, one might say Trump’s national security adviser is normalizing holy wars.

Gulliani may be out as AG, but in as Sec. of State?


Holy cap!

Hold on to your hats, folks. We’re in for a really bumpy ride.

From the New York Times:

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, is the leading contender to be secretary of state in the Trump administration, campaign officials said on Tuesday, as Vice President-elect Mike Pence plans to join President-elect Donald J. Trump in New York to accelerate the process of filling out his cabinet.

Mr. Giuliani, a loyal, often ferocious backer of Mr. Trump’s candidacy, would be a startling choice to be the nation’s chief diplomat – a relentless former federal prosecutor who has viewed foreign policy largely through the prism of the Sept. 11 attacks, which turned him into a national figure.

Though that ordeal gave Mr. Giuliani a firm grounding in domestic security issues, his formal diplomatic experience is slim. Like other New York City mayors, he made occasional ventures into foreign policy, on issues like the Middle East peace process or more parochial concerns, like going after foreign diplomats for their unpaid parking tickets.

Mr. Giuliani, who mounted brief bids for the Senate in 2000 and the White House in 2008, is now best known for his full-throated advocacy of his fellow New Yorker, Mr. Trump. He delivered a speech on his behalf at the Republican National Convention in which he condemned President Obama, saying he had failed to protect Americans from “Islamic extremist terrorism.”

Giuliani may be one of the few Republicans ever more frightening tan Trump, a President elect who’s says he’s willing to press the nuclear button.

Trump and Giuliani, two loose cannons. . .

Nuclear cannons.

Another group cheered by Trump’s election: ISIS


Yep, they see him as their best recruiting tool in years.

From Reuters:

A top Islamic State commander has warned how the election of Donald Trump will make it easier to recruit thousands of jihadists to their cause.

Abu Omar Khorasani, a top IS commander in Afghanistan, told Reuters, Mr Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail against Muslims could be used as a propaganda tool to bring new fighters to their battlefields.

Taliban commanders and Islamic State supporters claim Mr Trump’s call for a total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States will aid their recruitment efforts, especially for disaffected youth in the West.

“This guy is a complete maniac,” Khorasani said.

“His utter hate towards Muslims will make our job much easier because we can recruit thousands.”

When ISIS calls a guy a maniac, you know he’s really out there.

Campaign 2016 voting threats & a view from Canada


With just days to go before Campaign 2016 wraps up [?],we present an omnium gatherum roundup of election stories.

Voting machines prove all-too-hackable

We have always opposed voting by anything other than paper ballots. Our reasons are two-fold:

First, the paper ballot provides a permanent physical record of the votes as they were marked by hand by each voter and can be recounted manually to verify each vote cast.

Digital data, as we all know by now, is susceptible to hacking, and voting machines are notably vulnerable, as The Verge reports:

Like most municipally-contracted technology, voting machines are terrible in basically every way. They’re expensive, old, prone to failure, and unpleasant to look at. As you might expect, they’re also not that hard to break into. Computer scientists have been demonstrating that for at least 10 years, generally by physically cracking open the machines and installing election-rigging software. Election boards have been slow to respond, and the demonstrations have just gotten better as the years go by.

Princeton computer scientist Andrew Appel, one of the main figures doing those demos, has argued that no voting machine is entirely immune. “It’s a general principle about computers,” he wrote earlier this year. “They run whatever software is installed at the moment.” That fatalism holds true in the everyday practice of security as well: once your opponent has physical access to your device, the fight is pretty much over.

The important question isn’t “can this machine be hacked?” but “can we verify whether it’s working properly on Election Day?” Voting machines aren’t doing too well on that front either. The key safeguard is a paper trail — either a paper ballot scanned into an optical reader, or a touchscreen interface that prints out a paper receipt when a vote is cast. That record prevents voting tallies from being changed after the fact, allows an audit if the result is disputed, and enables frequent checks to make sure votes are being accurately recorded. But according to a Brennan Center study, a full 20 percent of Americans’ votes this November will be cast on systems without that paper trail, which give election officials few protections if a machine is compromised.

Supremes effectively disenfranchise rural Arizona

A United Press International story covers another kind of election threat, and one that may have a huge impact on a swing state with a large number of poor, rural voters, folks who have more claim to the right to vote than most of the rest of us.

Ironically, this is one case where the highest court in the land has made voting on paper a threat to democracy:

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Republicans and ordered a law in Arizona banning ballot collecting by third party groups can stand in Tuesday’s election.

Republicans in Arizona passed the ballot collection law, making it a felony punishable by up to a year in jail and a $150,000 fine for someone to turn in a ballot that is not their own. Exceptions were included for family members, roommates and caregivers.

Democrats fought the law in court, arguing it would disproportionately affect minorities. Some minority communities and Native Americans in rural parts of the state have come to rely on third party groups to deliver mail-in absentee ballots, then collect them and drop them off at a polling place on Election Day. Many of the most rural Indian reservations do not have reliable mail service.

Republicans argued the practice, which they refer to as ballot “harvesting,” invites voter fraud.

Trumpies, including militia, announce poll-watch plans

UPDATE: You knew this one was coming, via the Guardian:

As opinion polls tightened this week between Trump and Hillary Clinton ahead of Tuesday’s presidential vote, there are concerns of chaos following his claims, without serious evidence, that the election could be “rigged” and his refusal to say if he will accept the outcome.

The Democratic party has launched a series of legal challenges around the country alleging voter intimidation, and on Friday in the battleground state of Ohio a judge issued a temporary restraining order against Trump’s campaign and his unofficial adviser Roger Stone. The ruling said anyone who engaged in intimidation or harassment inside or near Ohio polling places would face contempt of court charges.

Republican leaders in some battleground states are reporting a surge of volunteers signing up to serve as official poll watchers, and in an unprecedented move, the Trump campaign itself has since August been requesting that volunteers sign up as “election observers” to “Help Me Stop Crooked Hillary From Rigging This Election!”. Stone, meanwhile, has said he has helped recruit people to do “exit polls” to tackle voter fraud.

The nation’s most prominent anti-government militia and a neo-Nazi group have also announced plans to send their members to monitor for voter fraud outside the polls.

There’s lots more after the jump, including terrorism threats in New York and the view from the north. . . Continue reading

Charts of the day: A tragic Bush/Obama legacy


Since George W. Bush launched his “Global War on Terror [Terra?]” and Barack Obama expanded it with even greater zeal, the flood of refugees in the Mideast has turned into a raging torrent, with millions fleeing their homes for temporary refuge both in their own and in other countries.

Two charts from a sobering new report from the Pew Research Center illustrates the scope of the problem.

First, the overall rise in refugees throughout the Middle East:

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And then the rise of refugees displaced from their homes and still living in their own countries:

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Yet more email sleaze emerges about Hillary


From BBC News:

A State Department official offered a “quid pro quo” deal if the FBI would change the classification of a Hillary Clinton email, FBI documents indicate.

Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy asked the bureau to unclassify the message so it could be archived, “never to be seen again”.

He made the request in relation to an email about the 2012 attacks on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

But the FBI said it did not change the classification level.

The email in question described reports in November 2012 that Libyan police were arresting suspects in the attack of two months earlier, which left Ambassador Christopher Stephens and three other Americans dead.

‘Shadow Government’

Other interesting revelations from the newly released FBI documents include:

  • A former diplomatic security agent said Mrs Clinton would often “blatantly” disregard security and diplomatic protocols, including her frequent refusal to attend overseas diplomatic functions with local ambassadors, which left envoys “insulted and embarrassed”
  • While secretary of state she ignored security advice by going to a dangerous part of Jakarta, Indonesia, in a move that “placed Clinton, her staff, the media and her security detail in unnecessary danger in order to conduct a photo opportunity for ‘her election campaign'”
  • A group of top State Department officials that some called “The Shadow Government” met weekly to discuss Freedom of Information requests related to Mrs Clinton. They wanted her emails to be released all at once, instead of on a rolling basis, as would normally be the case, according to the FBI summary. But the group did not get its way.
  • Explaining that security and protocol procedures were regularly breached, the report states that early in Mrs Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, “she and her staff were observed removing lamps and furniture from the State Department”, which were brought to her residence in Washington DC. The unnamed source does not know if the government property was ever returned.

Read the rest, including the email.

Chart of the day II: EU asylum seekers increase


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From Eurostat, which reports:

During the second quarter of 2016 (from April to June 2016), 305,700 first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU), up by 6% compared with the first quarter of 2016 (when 287,100 first-time applicants were registered).

With nearly 90,500 first-time applicants between April and June 2016, Syrians remained the main citizenship of people seeking international protection in the EU Member States, ahead of Afghans (50,300 first time applicants) and Iraqis (34,300).

These quarterly data on asylum in the EU come from a report issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

They represent the three main citizenships of first-time asylum applicants in the EU Member States over the second quarter 2016, accounting for almost 60% of all first time applicants.

Six in ten applied for asylum in Germany

During the second quarter 2016, the highest number of first-time applicants was registered in Germany (with almost 187,000 first time applicants, or 61% of total first time applicants in the EU Member States), followed by Italy (27,000, or 9%), France (17,800, or 6%), Hungary (14,900, or 5%) and Greece (12,000, or 4%).

Among those Member States with high numbers of asylum seekers, numbers of first time applicants in the second quarter 2016 more than doubled compared with the previous quarter in Greece (+132 %) as well as in Hungary (+118%), and rose notably in Poland (+65%) and Spain (+37%). In contrast, decreases were recorded in particular in the Nordic Member States — Denmark (-59%), Finland (-53%) and Sweden (-42%) — as well as in the Netherlands (-47%), Belgium (-44%) and Austria (-22%).