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Archive for November 17th, 2008

Somali pirates seize Saudi tanker

Posted by Charles II on November 17, 2008

The situation in Somalia continues to deteriorate, and has now entered a very serious realm. Andrew England and Robert Wright, FT:

Pirates operating off the coast of east Africa have hijacked a Saudi supertanker fully laden with an estimated 2m barrels of oil in an attack that marks a significant escalation in the scope of banditry in the region.

The pirates, believed to be from lawless Somalia, seized control of the Sirius Star, which is owned by Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, on Saturday, 450 nautical miles south-east of the Kenyan Indian Ocean port of Mombasa.

It is estimated that the tanker was holding more than a quarter of the daily exports from Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter. The oil would have been worth about $100m (€79m, £66.5m) at Monday’s market price but is probably of little interest to the pirates….

The tanker is about three times the tonnage of a US aircraft carrier, making it the largest vessel ever seized by pirates.

Posted in Africa, BushCo malfeasance, Oil, terrorism | 1 Comment »

Worst substitute host ever?

Posted by Charles II on November 17, 2008

Arianna Huffington in for Rachel.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Now HERE’S a cheery headline

Posted by Charles II on November 17, 2008

Ex-CIA Officials Tied to Rendition Program and Faulty Iraq Intel Tapped to Head Obama’s Intelligence Transition Team

It’s from a DemocracyNow! interview of CIA analyst Melvin Goodman and CCR head Michael Ratner.

AMY GOODMAN:No appointees have been named as yet, but questions are already being raised about the people heading Obama’s transition efforts on intelligence policy. John Brennan and Jami Miscik, both former intelligence officials under George Tenet, are leading the review of intelligence agencies and helping make recommendations to the new administration. …

MELVIN GOODMAN: OK. John Brennan was deputy executive secretary to George Tenet during the worst violations during the CIA period in the run-up to the Iraq war, so he sat there at Tenet’s knee when they passed judgment on torture and abuse, on extraordinary renditions, on black sites, on secret prisons. He was part of all of that decision making.

Jami Miscik was the Deputy Director for Intelligence during the run-up to the Iraq war. So she went along with the phony intelligence estimate of October 2002, the phony white paper that was prepared by Paul Pillar in October 2002. She helped with the drafting of the speech that Colin Powell gave to the United Nations—[inaudible] 2003, which made the phony case for war to the international community.

So, when George Tenet said, “slam dunk, we can provide all the intelligence you need,” [inaudible] to the President in December of 2002, it was people like Jami Miscik and John Brennan who were part of the team who provided that phony intelligence. So what I think people at the CIA are worried about—and I’ve talked to many of them over the weekend—is that there will never be any accountability …

I am not surprised. Let’s just hope that whistleblowers will still come forward and tell the truth, even if they face a less than optimal leadership at the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

Posted in Barack Obama, Guantanamo, NSA eavesdropping, Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

Defense Experts To Obama: Don’t Let The Brass Roll You

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 17, 2008

As Spencer Ackerman states:

During his July trip to Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama met with a man who represents both an opportunity and an obstacle to his presidency: Army Gen. David H. Petraeus. Petraeus, a hero to many Americans for his management of the war in Iraq, argued in a private briefing that military commanders should be given wide latitude in handing the future course of the war — though Obama was running for president on a platform calling for a withdrawal of combat troops in 16 months.


“If I were in his shoes, I’d probably feel the same way” about preserving flexibility for military operations, Obama said of Petraeus after the meeting ended. “But my job as a candidate for president and a potential commander in chief extends beyond Iraq.”To Peter Feaver, one of the leading scholars of civil-military relations, that comment was auspicious. “Obama had it pitch-perfect,” said Feaver, a professor of political science at Duke University and a national-security staffer for both Clinton and George W. Bush. “Obama was right to signal to the military, ‘I want your military advice, and I will factor it into my strategic decisions, where military advice is one of my concerns.’”

Whether a Commander-in-Chief Obama can continue the tone that Candidate Obama sounded in July remains to be seen. According to interviews with active and retired military officers, Obama and the military can have a productive relationship, provided that Obama operates along some simple principles. Consult, don’t steamroll — and don’t capitulate. Be honest about disagreements, and emphasize areas of agreement. Make Petraeus a partner, not an adversary.

Similarly, the uniformed military will have to keep certain principles in mind as well. There’s only one commander in chief, and you’re not him. Don’t substitute military judgment for strategic judgment.

The dangers of a POTUS letting the brass roll him or her were shown by Bill Clinton’s being cowed by the Pentagon on the issue of gays serving openly in the military: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 2008, Barack Obama, military | 1 Comment »

Good News (and Maybe Not So Good) for Internet Users

Posted by MEC on November 17, 2008

When I saw this CNET article about the people selected for President-Elect Obama’s FCC review team, I immediately did a Google search to find out whether they’d taken positions on Net Neutrality.

The team’s two leaders, Professor Susan Crawford of the University of Michigan Law School and former FCC staffer Kevin Werbach, are long-time Net Neutrality advocates.

Professor Crawford believes Internet access is a utility, “like water, electricity, sewage systems”. I foresee some policy changes, and some unhappy telecom executives when those policies give universal, affordable access priority over corporate profits.

Now for the “maybe not so good”. The Wired article that gave me the good news for Net Neutrality listed members of other tech-related review teams. The review team for Justice and Civil Rights includes Tom Perelli, a partner in the D.C. office of the Jenner & Block law firm. Jenner & Block are the Recording Industry Association of America’s lawyers. That would be the RIAA that has had such a repressive effect on copyright legislation, protecting the profits of big corporations at the expense of consumers and artists. The Obama Administration needs to include defenders of fair usage and the free flow of ideas, not just allies of the corporations on this issue.

Posted in copyright, net neutrality, Obama Administration | 1 Comment »

Why We Can’t Let the Big 3 Fail

Posted by MEC on November 17, 2008

The Great Lakes IT Report, from Detroit’s WWJ radio station, provides an essay from “the experts at Automotive News” that spells out the consequences of not providing financial help for America’s automakers.

The alternative to government cash for GM is not a dreamy Chapter 11 filing, a reorganization that puts dealers and the UAW in their place, ensuring future success.

No, even if GM could get debtor-in-possession financing to keep the lights on (which it can’t), Chapter 11 means a collapse of sales and a spiral into a Chapter 7 liquidation.

GM’s 100,000 American jobs will die. Health care for a million Americans will be lost or at risk. Hundreds of GM’s 1,300 suppliers will die. Their collapse could take down Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC, perhaps even North American transplants. Dealers in every county of America will close.

The government will face greater unemployment, more Americans without health insurance and greater pension liabilities.


The Detroit 3 CEOs and UAW President Ron Gettelfinger had better tell two critical Congressional hearings next week what sacrifices they are prepared to make.

But the stark fact remains: Absent a bailout, GM dies, and with it much of manufacturing in America.

It’s not just the jobs at GM. It’s the jobs at the the parts suppliers and the dealerships (who’s going to buy a car if there’s no guarantee it can be repaired when needed?), the restaurants and other businesses whose customers are the auto-plant workers, the financial institutions that hold mortgages and other loans from the auto workers, the cities and school systems that depend on taxes paid by those workers… In short, it’s our entire economy.

That’s the bottom line. America cannot survive if the only available jobs involve saying, “Do you want fries with that?”

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

Oh, That Liberal Media

Posted by MEC on November 17, 2008

The 60 Minutes report on George W. Bush’s National Guard service (or lack thereof) may seem to be irrelevant now that Bush is almost out the door. But Dan Rather’s lawsuit against CBS for breach of contract in the aftermath of that report is going forward, and the lawsuit it turning up evidence that the CBS colluded with the GOP in its investigation of the report.

From the CBS memoranda turned over the Rather’s lawyers, one might get the impression that CBS was more concerned with mollifying rightwingers than with getting at the truth.

Gosh, what a surprise.

Posted in Dan Rather, GOP/Media Complex | Comments Off on Oh, That Liberal Media

More good news from the front: Somalia

Posted by Charles II on November 17, 2008

The bad news is that it’s good news only for Al Qaeda.

Xan Rice, The Guardian:

President Abdullahi Yusuf of Somalia has admitted that his government is on the verge of collapse and that Islamist groups now control most of the country.

In a speech to Somali MPs gathered in the Kenyan capital Nairobi at the weekend, Yusuf said that the government only had a presence in the capital Mogadishu and in Baidoa, “and people are being killed there every day. Islamists have taken over everywhere else.”…

Al-Shabaab, the most extreme and effective of the Islamist insurgent groups, took control of Elasha, nine miles from the capital, on Saturday. Al-Shabaab fighters had already captured the strategic ports towns of Merka and Barawe without firing a shot….

Though they already control many of Mogadishu’s battered suburbs, a heavy Ethiopian presence is likely to stop al-Shabaab taking over the entire city. But if the government does collapse, the mission of the 3,000 African Union peacekeepers and Ethiopian troops will be redundant with no state institutions to protect. …

Apart from al-Shabaab, the Jabhad al-Islamiya movement, believed to be associated with the cleric Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, and the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, led by Sheik Sharif Ahmed, also control territory. The two groups’ ideology is more nationalist than al-Shabaab, said Schiemsky.

“For now the three groups are united against the common enemy of Ethiopia, but when Ethiopia withdraws there will be complete fragmentation and chaos. The nightmare in Somalia is still to come.”

So, the West is getting kicked out of an African nation with a strong Muslim heritage, the end result will probably be chaos and mass suffering, and the one good piece of news is that the focus of some of the Islamists is on local issues rather than signing on with Al Qaeda.

Is there anything that Bushco hasn’t screwed up?

Posted in Africa, terrorism | 1 Comment »

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