Thursday, May 31, 2012

The SEAL Deal


Props to Naval History magazine (June 2012) for running Ranger's letter, "Not in the Manuals (p. 9)," in which he criticizes Retired Capt. Dick Couch's use of the phrase "Takedown" when speaking of the bin Laden raid as being non-military (RAW ran it here @ "La Cosa Nostra").

He was being uncharacteristically politic when he referred to the bin Laden assassination as a "military action" (but he knew no USNI publication would run his preferred terminology.) Assassinations are illegal, whatever the means or terminology used
(Beyond The Kill List); whether personality or signature, a targeted kill = assassination.

When a nation revels in successful assassinations
, it has dropped its pretense of being democratic and has crossed over into becoming warriors.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012


When [the interstate highway system] was built in the 1950s,
it was called the national defense highway system

because when you do anything in the United States

you have to call it defense.

That’s the only way you can fool the taxpayer into paying for it.

--Noam Chomsky (on human intelligence

Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid

in comparison with the over-compensations for misery
--Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

Boring damned people. All over the earth.
Propagating more boring damned people.
What a horror show. The earth swarmed with them.

--Charles Bukowski


Advocates of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) tout them as ushering in a new age of warfare, one in which the soldier is kept remote and safe from bodily damage. They say the drones protect us by flying the friendly skies of an unfriendly world.

Pakistani tribesmen carry the coffin of a person
allegedly killed in a 2011 U.S. drone attack.
They claim that innocent civilians died.
Photograph by Thir Khan/AFP/Getty Images

One result of embracing our drone technology is that we define ourselves as a predatory, high-tech nation which will eliminate anyone and anything that seems to array itself against the United States in an unseemly manner. These drones make us appear alert and on the ball, if somewhat to the left of democratic legalisms:

In Pakistan, Mr. Obama had approved not only “personality” strikes aimed at named, high-value terrorists, but “signature” strikes that targeted training camps and suspicious compounds in areas controlled by militants. But some State Department officials have complained to the White House that the criteria used by the C.I.A. for identifying a terrorist “signature” were too lax. The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees “three guys doing jumping jacks,” the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp, said one senior official. Men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers—but they might also be farmers, skeptics argued (Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will.)

The other drones which define our society are the low-tech variety: Those people stuck in daily slave-wage positions without hope of a better life. These tragic drones remain barely sentient of their sentence, hidden below the radar, save for when they don the national colors and participate in fighting our endless wars. Because they may watch reality t.v. and people have yellow ribbon magnets on their cars, they imagine themselves to be fully enfranchised members of the Republic.

The U.S. spends to the point of insolvency to ensure the best military technology while ignoring the needs of the more ubiquitous, human variety drones. Attaining an advanced degree has been the usual way out for most, but the value of the diploma in a nation without jobs is questionable. Statistics reported today show that more student loan borrowers (29%) are dropping out of school sans diploma but still with lots of unpaid debt (Debt But No Degree).

Which drone exemplifies the real America? Which has the ability to enhance the state of the nation? The drone which magnetizes the money is the one we value most.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A COIN is a COIN is a COIN

"Not much"
--Colonel Gian P. Gentile,

on what the U.S. has gained

after two wars in a decade

Mr. Jinx and Miss Lucy,

they jumped in the lake

I'm not that eager

to make a mistake

--Things Have Changed
Bob Dylan


We would like to compare Counterinsurgency policy (COIN) to the conclusions drawn by the Nova program,
"The Great Inca Rebellion". It explores Pizarro's experience with the Incas which also parallels Cortez's experience with the Aztecs, in that both are very similar to the military policy we now call COIN.

COIN did not start with FM 3-24, nor in Vietnam. The Spaniards used COIN practices to destroy both the Inca and the Aztec empires. (The same can be said for the U.S. Army and its destruction of the U.S. Indian tribes.)

The short version of Pizarro and Cortez is that they organized native armies to act as cannon fodder (lance fodder?) in their campaigns. The white European invaders used native allies to overpower their enemies. This template was used in future colonial efforts, and is still the formula of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in our current COIN operations. So after 467 years of solid history, how can anyone say that
everything has changed?

Since the World Trade Center attacks we've been sold a bill of goods by the military industrial complex, with the full concurrence of the political apparatus: Everything changed, and Counterinsurgency (COIN) was the solution. However, some people are noticing that COIN has not been the spectacular solution it was touted to be; whatever appears to be won on the front end, is lost on the back.

Now, West Point is considering COIN may be dead in the water (West Point is Divided on a War Doctrine's Fate.) Even West Point catches up to Ranger. Asymmetrical warfare was the newest thing since sliced bread, and 3rd and 4th generation warfare theorists were a hot commodity. We are told all of the old rules are passe, and we swallow the new, whole.

Ranger has always called these theories garbage, but that is too kind as even garbage serves a purpose. These theories are obstructive and promote reactionary operational imperatives posing as newfangled thinking. In fact, the principles defining warfare -- the Rules of War, International Law, the Geneva Conventions, the Principles of War and the Hague Conventions -- have not changed; we are not Capt. Picard, and saying they have does not make it so.

Nothing has changed since at least the middle 16th century. The idea could also be applied to Alexander, Hannibal and various armies throughout history.

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Post-Memorial Day Cheer

Mazel tov

This is so totally not RangerAgainstWar, but then again ... After the solemnity of Memorial Day, we might say it's time for a L'Chaim (to life).

We cannot stand Glee or flash mobs, but this is the first genuinely charming marriage proposal I've seen out of that ilk (via Slate). A little tidbit to make you smile. Enjoy.

More serious stuff, later.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day 2012

--Sgt. Stubby, WW I Hero Dog

My kids are around pit bulls every day.
In the '70s they blamed Dobermans,
in the '80s they blamed German Shepherds,
in the '90s they blamed Rottweilers.
Now they blame the Pit Bull
--Cesar Milan

The gratitude of every home in our island,
in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world,
except in the abodes of the guilty,
goes out to the British airmen who,
undaunted by odds,
unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger,
are turning the tide of the world war by their prowess
and by their devotion.
Never in the field of human conflict
was so much owed by so many to so few
--fr. Winston Churchill's ("The British Bulldog") salute
to the Royal Air Force (1940)

Happy Memorial Day. We have written nothing on the holiday per se, and ask only that you remember with the solemnity required of the day.

This post is part remembrance of
Sergeant Stubby, the most decorated dog of World War I and the only dog to be promoted to sergeant through combat, and part advert. His heart was legend, and his owner, loving and fiercely loyal to the end. Stubby was an American Bulldog. (Of course, we do not want to give short-shrift to any of the hard-working breeds which have served so faithfully in combat situations.)

"Our spirit shuns this war-like ring;
peace breathes in what we proudly sing"

The group and their site
BadRap.org does a great job of explaining the breed throughout history. Ranger has now fostered his American Bulldog for 10 months, and Tyke has proven to be gentle of spirit, loving and patient with children and eager for a dog friend, which he does not have at the moment.

--Buster Brown and Tige

Due to Ranger's travel schedule and the recent discovery that Tyke has a strong prey instinct (typical per breed, as they are Terrier family) and sees the neighbor's cat as sport, it again becomes imperative that Tyke find a great forever home. So this is another shout-out for any readers in the Southeast region who feel they could give a good home to a loving and stable pet. The only requirement is a fenced yard.

Tyke's online advert can be seen

Tyke the Dog

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Illiterates Are The 20 Percent


An acquaintance, Dr. Alex Lickerman, had some thoughts
on his blog today regarding how our nation's poor educational level adversely affects our democracy. It is stunning to consider 1 of 5 working Americans are functionally illiterate; is it any wonder we get the results we do?:

"Wikipedia lists the rate of functional illiteracy in the U.S. (as measured between 1994-2003), for example, at 20 percent.

"There are a number of reasons this statistic fills me with dread, but I’ll mention only the one I find most troubling: The solutions our political leaders seek for our most pressing problems are largely determined by which are most popular. And which are most popular is largely determined by our population’s ability to understand the problems for which the solutions are being proposed. Which, as far as I can tell, is dismal. Which means the most popular solutions are also the solutions most likely to be wrong. Which means our population’s lack of education is compromising our political leaders’ ability to solve problems. (If enough constituents understood, for example, the true causes of our current economic crisis and demanded real fixes instead of the appearance of real fixes, politicians might actually feel able to implement them without committing political suicide.)

"We all seem too quickly satisfied with the easy answers our politicians spoon feed us. ... [I]f we don’t educate ourselves, if we allow our politicians and pundits to do our thinking for us, we won’t be able to demand of our leaders effective solutions for our problems.

"For the real solutions to our problems aren’t easy to understand. How do you fix healthcare? First by understanding what’s wrong with it. ... [W]ithout first understanding the root causes of the problems it’s trying to solve, how can anyone possibly judge the quality of its solutions?

" ... [O]ur collective opinion has power. If our political leaders seem to be pushing our country toward a cliff, it’s only because we the people are pushing them to do it."

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Terms of Endearment

--Government Gone Wild

who needs answers when you got words

--Plan B

Flash: Secret Service Scandal Not Isolated Event . . . or so went the headline in yesterday's Democrat.

A Senate committee found, among 64 allegations of sexual misconduct by Secret Service employees over five years, "(t)hree cases involved inappropriate relationships with foreign nationals, and one was a complaint of non-consensual sexual intercourse. In addition, a Secret Service agent was fired in 2008 after soliciting an undercover police officer in a prostitution sting."

Isn't "non-consensual sex" rape? Why does it get hidden behind pretty words? No means "no", except not for the Secret Service.

On Thursday's "Fresh Air" on PRI, commentator Terry Gross said of a character in a recent movie, "He had an affair with the wrong woman." Is there a "right woman" with whom one should have an affair? (Certainly Bill Clinton or John Edwards would not be the right men to advise on this topic.)

When an otherwise precise and astute social observer like Gross says something like that, it seems we have had a comedown in our national mores.

--Lisa and Jim

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Enlightened Racism

I thought they'd arrest him,

but when they found a Koran in his house,

they had him executed

--V for Vendetta

We are oft
to blame in this,
-- Tis too much proved
that with devotion's visage and pious action,

we do sugar o'er the devil himself

, Shakespeare


Let me preface this by saying, this topic should not be plastered across the daily news. However, we cannot resist easy armchair quarter-backing and fueling our personal animosities.

We mentioned Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's recent non-trial yesterday.
Legal Web site Justia asked last month if it would be “The Trial of the Century?”, the "it" being the KSM trial. Check out the recent news and that designator seems to have quickly morphed into the emotional deets surrounding the Zimmerman trial in Florida.

One would think matters of State like the
charges that were revived against KSM and four other suspects in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks would concern us, but those things do not allow us the high entertainment value and facile judgements that come with a sordid Southern small town shooting, kitted out with the combustible media overlay of racial profiling (Trial in Martin Case, Filled With High Emotion).

The Daily Kos recently sent me a petition to stop the sale of shooting targets depicting a faceless figure in a hoodie. The site has 1,524 entries to date under the tag, "Trayvon Martin . . . the boy who was carrying a bag of skittles and an iced tea."

Is it tasteless to exploit a tragedy? Sure. But no moreso than the bloody Hadji target we featured recently here; yet inexplicably, Daily Kos has no beef with that blood lust. If one hewed to democratic principles, then the delight in gore would be eschewed regardless of its ethnic guise. Save, for many good liberals, only some topics tickle their sympathies. It is this inconsistency of compassion which makes them hard to take seriously.

It is horrifying and heartbreaking to witness the impassioned partisanship over what should be strictly judicial issues. Before any decision is rendered, we are fighting mad on behalf of whatever dog we affiliate with, for whatever reason. Remember the furor surrounding the Anita Hill - Clarence Thomas hearings, the
Duke Lacrosse (non-) rape case or the O.J. Simpson trial? People were not interested in justice being served, so much as airing their personal proclivities; these trials served as vicarious vendettas for many.

Why are so many liberals assuming the guilt of George Zimmerman? Why are conservatives tending toward his innocence? Whatever side you're on, you are a racial bigot.
The judge should move to seal key evidence in the case from the public until trial.

That a company sees profit in making and a cohort of consumers will buy a suggestive target to shoot speaks of the frustration many feel. We are losing our grip on democratic form when we try people in the public domain.

As an aside, today's WaPo reports, "
Bristol Palin show finally ready to run
-- After being retooled again, the reality show focusing on her life as a single mother will debut in June." Well at least that, right?

It is becoming increasingly hard to believe we are a serious nation.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Iceman Cometh

Army Spc. Sabrina Hartman, 372nd MP Co.,
poses with the body of Iraqi detainee Manadel al-Jamadi

There isn't a more profitable undertaking
for any country than to declare war

on the United States and to be defeated.

--The Mouse That Roared

To hell with the truth!

As the history of the world proves,

the truth has no bearing on anything

--The Iceman Cometh
, Eugene O'Neill


Ranger Observation of the Day:
Terrorism Counteraction is Social Security
provided to the world, sans enrollment cost.
The entitlement is funded by the American taxpayer,
borne upon the backs of American servicemen.
It is socialism on a grand scale,
but nobody calls it what it is

Several recent media events coalesce in Ranger's mind.
Justice is not an easy commodity to find these days.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, alleged mastermind of the 9-11-01 attacks, is on trial but not in a federal court, and evidence of his torture has been ruled inadmissible. It was a destined to be a failed exercise out of the chute.

Why the subterfuge? The defendant knows he was tortured and we know it, so why pretend otherwise? KSM is a criminal and by no stretch a soldier, and he should have been tried as one.

More procedural exemptions when reptilian attorney John Yoo, George W. Bush's best boy, was exonerated by the 4th Federal Circuit court from being held responsible for Jose Padilla's torture complaints because "torture was not defined at the time." When President Obama said this is "a time for
reflection, not retribution," he swept away with a statement any hope for justice against the purveyors of torture.

The photo at the top shows a gleeful U.S. service member posing with Manadel al-Jamadi ("The Iceman"), an Abu Ghraib suspect surely killed as a result of this indefinable thing once known as torture. Torture must be like pornography as defined by Justice Potter Stewart: You can't define it, but you know it when you see it. So even if torture remains undefined, homicide does not, and the Iceman was a homicide. Yet Yoo is off the hook for homicide, too.

But Obama also biased the trial of George Zimmerman when he inappropriately said that Trayvon Martin "could have been my son." Why didn't Obama say that Zimmerman could have been his son, for surely we can imagine an upstanding Obama scion being a neighborhood watchman and finding himself in that terrible situation from the other side, too.

And why isn't Yoo charged exactly the same as is George Zimmerman? Did not Yoo's ruling contribute directly to an unknown number of deaths like that of the iceman? Ah, but Yoo is in the privileged strata of humans, doing the dirty work of politicians everywhere. John Yoo screwed the pooch and he will never account for his crime. He is merely consigned to a life in hippy Berkeley, doing penance teaching legal ethics before the privileged offspring of liberals, his own kind of hell.

Odd days when an alleged child pornographer makes it onto the 10 Most Wanted List and will serve more time in jail than the torturers and murderers who walk amongst us. Zimmerman is losing his witnesses due to darkness and poor eyesight; it is a metaphor for the times. The reality is probably closer to the suggestion of an early NPR report -- intimidation. The witnesses live in Zimmerman's complex; angry people will find them, so they are taking the Schultz way out: I saw NOTHING, this after originally claiming the opposite.

So this is what passes for justice today: Lies, hypocrisy, intimidation, power and privilege, with a healthy dose of bigotry and paranoia. If Zimmerman is not convicted, will we be as quiescent as when Yoo was exonerated? As when O.J. was acquitted of killing his white wife, Nicole Brown?

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Explosive Exit

--Lights by Lane Patterson

I believe that if we had and would
keep our dirty, bloody, dollar-crooked fingers

out of the business of these nations
so full of depressed, exploited people,
they will arrive at a solution of their own.
That they design and want.
That they fight and work for.
[Not one] crammed down their throats by Americans
--General David Monroe Shoup

Success is relative:
It is what we can make of the mess
we have made of things
--The Family Reunion, T. S. Eliot

Failed … like an old hanging bridge

--Marge Piercy

Ranger knows what he knows, and avoids writing about what he doesn't. Although not an expert, he has a good understanding of explosives and their use in terror and military applications.

His training as a Special Forces officer included military demolition techniques necessary in Unconventional Warfare - Guerrilla Warfare scenarios (UW/GW). This included things like blowing bridges, improvising and booby-trapping, exploding shells from 60 mm mortar to 8" artillery rounds as IED's and improvising incendiary devices. One-Zero school added specialized techniques to the suite.

Captain Zach Watson, Ranger's mentor, added Old School advanced techniques to the mix, like blowing engine blocks with with a 35 mm film canister of C-4 and PETN. The explosion was minimal but the hole created was so neat that it wouldn't cut a finger upon examination. SF was not flashy: It aimed for low-visibility success versus the activities of the terrorist, who aims for maximal press coverage.

Ranger had another mentor in the 1980's -- Ron Ball, a Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad expert known as "The Wizard". Ron used to travel on airplanes while habitually carrying ceramic detonators on his person just to demonstrate the absurdist and futile nature of airport security. That was the mid-80's (Ball was killed in 1986
along with Detective Arleigh McCree while attempting to defuse a pipe bomb in Hollywood.)

A simple Google search of "ceramic detonators" gives all the information a specialized bomb maker needs to make a significant device aimed at air traffic. Since we are 10 years into a phony war it is safe to assume that al Qaeda et. al. lack the sophistication to exploit this knowledge; if they could have, they would have.

Ranger also knows, for example, that the bridge in a recently-foiled Cleveland, Ohio, plot could not have been dropped by explosives alone. Several ear muff charges would have been required using large quantities of military-grade explosives properly placed high on the bridge and detonated at precisely the same time, which means that an advanced operative would have needed a lot of det cord to ensure the detonation. Perhaps they could have taken out an old covered bridge (surely an aesthetic crime) but not the Ohio 82 bridge.
A lot of explosives alone does not = bridge destruction.

Like all the dupes and wannabes in the Phony War on Terror (
PWOT ©), they did not know the basics of destruction, to include testing your materiel. Having the intent does not necessarily result in a successful operation.

Further, would scenarios like these or that of the latest underwear (non) bomber ever have reached an execution phase without the presence of Federal agents or informants? These outside agents have often facilitated bringing these non-attacks to non-fruition. Absurd as they are, they fuel the imaginative fires of the true believers, who use them as examples of imagined even bigger and better destructive scenarios which they imagine Feds have staved off and which, for some reason, never did make it into the news cycle.

The argument is one from nothingness: If the little fish were caught, the bigger fish were caught two steps back in secrecy, and so we never hear about them. Mystery systems like religion and the National Security Administration (NSA, or "No Such Agency") allow for this belief on faith alone.

Operationally unsound plans are treated as though successes in the United States, where getting some Front Page qualifies one as winning. The story of two guys with ill-conceived explosive underwear wouldn't even provide the fodder for a lesser Tom Clancy intrigue.

We are not the Israelis and al Qaeda is not Black September. The U.S. has never seen a significant device here in the Homeland. We mistakenly combine these group's bomb-making expertise in-theatre as being relevant to our security here in the States; however, the two capabilities are mutually exclusive. Our security here in the States has no relevance to their abilities in theatre.

As a nation, the U.S. has lost its ability to be objective, rational and realistic. Until we get reality-oriented, we will spend billions to neutralize devices that can be best-described as jokes played on a fearful public being sold a bill of goods by an entrenched security conglomeration which sells fear as the only growth industry on our horizon.

At this point, please reach down and grab your balls and try to remember why they are there and what a man is supposed to do with them.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Howdy, Neighbor!

You call that a preacher? You call that a preacher.
Well you call that a preacher?

He-e, scandalized my name

--negro spiritual


The Golden Rule applies in the North Florida swamps. You know it because there's a Baptist church on very corner , in which passionate debates ensue not so much over liturgy but the tenuous fate of neighboring congregant's eternal souls.

Just in case they don't get The Word, there's always the concealed weapon of last resort, and you can advertise your allegiance to the band of believers with this shirt selling in downtown Tallahassee, on Sunday, should the Spirit move you.

Praise the lord and pass the ammunition.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Can Zombies Join the Priesthood?

London calling to the imitation zone
Forget it, brother, you can go it alone
London calling to the zombies of death
Quit holding out, and draw another breath
--London Calling, The Clash

If you think that I don't know

about the little tricks you play

And never see you when deliberately

you put things in my way

--I Can See For Miles
, The Who

Does the entertainment industry have a responsibility to the public to portray terrorism in a realistic, unemotional manner? Are the concepts entertainment and responsibility mutually-exclusive?
Should they be?

The latest episode of New York City police drama is a case in point.

Three sleeper al Qaeda agents awoke one day and decided to conduct a biological attack on the NYC subway system using a mutated virus. How they got it, moved it, etc. is not addressed. Probably the missing mobile germ units that Saddam hid so cleverly re-surfaced in Schenectaday.
Probably, they were in front of our very eyes operating as Mexican burrito trucks on Broadway!

Who knows, but the story line was pure fantasy, with a Churchillian subplot (Japan's 1995 Sarin attack scabbed onto haji?)

Churchill posed the question: Do we warn the people and compromise the element of surprise, or do we hold a tight grip on the intelligence? He made the decision to allow the German air attacks on London, thereby securing the Enigma machine from German knowledge.

This program was a nice rehash of the old argument (with the fictional twist that it saved the lives of 2 1/2 million people.) The point is, there are a lot of people in never-never land who believe these serials reflect reality, and should there be any balance in the portrayals?

There is no credible way that a group could make, transport and disseminate a biological agent purported to have no antidote or immunization; it was a scenario as fantastic as zombies joining the priesthood. After the terrorists were arrested -- not "captured" -- the NYPD released a cover story reporting that the event was actually a training incident.

In today's world, every self-important government security type would be crawling out of the woodwork trying to grab some credit for thwarting such an attack, no matter how non-viable. The days of discretion and modesty are gone.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Load Bearing Bras

Ranger wearing his Load Bearing Equipment (LBE)

A recent Playtex bra commercial for wide support straps which would spread out the load and not dig into the shoulders made Ranger laugh. It appears that after almost 130 years of the military using web gear as a means of transferring a weight load onto the shoulders, Playtex has figured out how to appropriate the technology into an LBE bra.

One would think with the fascination that soldiers have for excess female cleavage that one of us would have applied the LBE concept to bras a long time ago.

"Saddle Up!" takes on a whole new meaning, now.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Amps in Their Panties, II

My first duty is to France.

I cannot shed French blood in a foreign cause

--Napoleon, in a letter to
Countess Maria Walewski

You keep hearing about these-a these-a terrorists masterminds

that get killed in the middle east.

Terrorists masterminds.

Mastermind is sort of a lofty way to describe

what these guys do, don’t you think?

--Underwear Goes Inside the Pants
, Lazyboy

When the bully, gives a wedgie

Pray that they won’t ever tear

God bless my underwear, my only pair

--God Bless My Underwear
Boy Scout tune


Yesterday Ranger postulated that foreign intelligence is a key weakness in any war project, but especially in the Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) and Counterterrorism (CT) realms.

Let us look at the facts surrounding the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:


  1. The attacks of 9-11-01 were not conducted by Afghanis or Iraqis
  2. Saudi Arabians played a major role in planning, funding and executing those attacks
  3. United States policymakers ignored these inconvenient facts
  4. Saudi Arabia has an economic interest in controlling the price of their major commodity, oil
  5. S.A. acts in the interest of S.A
  6. U.S. intel in S.A. and Yemen is weak at best; faulty, at worst
  7. The Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) keeps the oil market unstable and funnels cash to S.A.
  8. S.A. wishes to remain autonomous S.A.
  9. S.A. intel will favor S.A. interests

Now to the 2nd Underwear Bomber Manque (UBM), so toothsome a story that the Feds were not sure how they wanted to spin it. For the first two days, it was a major foiled plot. Then, it became another undercover coup, the double agent providing most of the wherewithal to make the dastardly plot (not) happen.

The reports agree that "an asset who is a Saudi works for the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Saudi intel presented the U.S. with a compromised model of the and improved 2nd Generation underwear bomb." The
dud bomb is then played up to the extent that it causes as much fear as an Iranian and North Korean missile launch.

Ranger's analysis:

  1. How much did the U.S. pay the agent?
  2. For whom does he work?
  3. To whom does he claim allegiance?
  4. How do we know the origin of the dud device?
  5. Did S.A. intel fabricate this piece to keep the U.S. in Yemen to protect S.A. dominance in the grid square?

These are key questions that need answers prior to the release of any intel claiming to be authentic.
Are we being played like foolish amateurs? It seems a bit strange that the U.S. cannot find one single bomb maker in a place like Yemen.

he question of why the bad guys can't seem to get past airplane bombing attempts is a provocative one; it seems to show a poverty of imagination . . . or could it be something else? The U.S. is routinely played by foreign intel producers -- are we too stupid to even ask ourselves if the product we are consuming is even reality-based? Allies -- like adversaries -- should be constantly evaluated. All is fair in love and war.

Never trust foreign intelligence. This dictum applies to any country standing to benefit from playing us against ourselves.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Amps in Their Panties

A lady removing her scanties,
Heard them crackle electrical chanties.

Said her beau, "Have no fear,

For the reason is clear:

You simply have amps in your panties


There's the way things ought to be,

and the way things are

--Platoon (1986)

Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock,

we blended with the crowd

We got computer, we're tapping phone lines,

I know that ain't allowed

--Life During Wartime,

Talking Heads


This is about the new-and-improved underwear bomb (not) and a brief analysis thereof. Intelligence is the focus, but first, some history.

The major deficiency of U.S. policy and operations since World War II has been intelligence; WWII could be viewed as a failure of strategic intelligence. The intel breakdown in pre-World War II scenarios was not in the collection cycle but in the policy application phase.

It is safe to say that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his Secretary of State Cordell Hull interpreted intelligence to reflect outcomes that were aligned with their goals. In short, the intel was a tool to be bent to their will, much the same as we saw with President G. W. Bush's actions in 2002.

WWII intelligence was largely a U.S. product with input from the British, Dutch and other major players. Historically, however, we realize that the input from other nations was often self-serving, designed to play U.S. policy-makers.

Korean War intel was largely a military product that was sufficient at the Division and Corps Level but broke down at Theatre. This was because the command structure (=MacArthur) totally misread the battlefield reports as they did not fit into his conception of the field forces reality. The problem was not external. The military collected, interpreted and disseminated the product in a correct manner, however, it was largely ignored.

This shows failure may happen at many points along the intel cycle, from gathering through application, and the failure may be one of incorrect input (intentional or not), or one of human bias. [Ranger has discussed Human Intelligence (HUMINT) versus Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) in the past, and one is not preferable to the other, nor may one exist successfully independent of the other. However, bias is always problematic.]

In Vietnam, the U.S. in country depended largely upon reports that were generated by the South Vietnamese government, data that was often faulty and self-serving. Unfortunately, this fact was largely ignored since an ally is always believed to be honest and trustworthy. As a result, projects like Phoenix were based upon faulty and misleading intel provided by a foreign power.

In the 1980's, when U.S. doctrine attempted to assimilate the experience of Vietnam, it failed to recognize this key deficiency in the Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) and Counterterrorism (CT) arenas since the only intel available was often foreign-based and produced.

Which brings us to 2012, and questionable intel is still chewing on our shorts. I will use the case of the second underwear bomber as a template for the problem, beginning with the facts, ending with an analysis. Put on your thinking caps.

Tomorrow: Amps in Their Panties II

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