Sunday, May 25, 2008

Generation Kill on HBO

HBO will have a seven hour miniseries this July based on Evan Wright’s 2004 Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America and the New Face of American War. Wright was embedded with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It appears Sgt. Rudy Reyes; one of the more memorable Marines from the book will be playing himself in the series….hopefully with his J.Lo goggles.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Q & A: Robert Baer

Bob Baer, a B&L favorite was recently interviewed in Men's Journal:

mj: Can we ever come to an understanding with the Iranians?

rb: Their interests are very clear-cut. They are not like the Takfiris who want to chop our heads off. The most popular TV program in Iran is about an Iranian diplomat who saves Jews during WWII. If we were Machiavellian, we'd quickly pull out of Iraq and draw the Iranians into a nasty civil war. Make them be the ones shooting people. Right now they look like the good guys, talking about the American imperialists. But if they had to impose order, they'd sing a different tune. Give Iran a taste of empire in Iraq and Afghanistan, and send them a Christmas card every year asking, "How are things going?" But if we stay, spend a couple trillion dollars every five years...that's your retirement. That's rebuilding our bridges. Is it really worth it?

mj: You were in Tehran recently. How was it?

rb: It's a big party town. Opium is cheaper there than anywhere. The Iranians are fun, smart people, ironic and forthcoming. Except when it comes to instruments of the police state. They don't really joke about that.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Letters Home From The Garden Of Stone

Everlast's latest song "Letters Home From The Garden Of Stone" is incredibly powerful, it almost chokes me up some.

I think it goes beyond the simple antiwar/prowar dichotomy.

Who you think i should be fighting
Mom are you proud are you ashamed
I really am trying to do the right thing
I hope my government can say the same

cause I won't know the man that kills me
and I don't know these man that I kill
We all wind up on the same side
cause not one of us doing God's will

Similarly, Serj Tankian's song "Empty Walls" is stirring. Falling more on the antiwar side, the power of Empty Walls comes in its video. The use of children to simulate the "global war on terrorism" is incredibly provocative and powerful. The scene with the Marines at the end of the video, while necessary, could have been done in better taste. But then again that was the point of it....the tasteless reality.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

CSIS Smart Power Lecture: Hank Crumpton

Henry “Hank” Crumpton is probably Bourbon and Lawndarts's idol. Crumpton ran the CIA's Afghan program in the wake of September 11, this same program brought the friggin' heat to the Taliban and AQ within weeks of the attacks. Bin Laden's head would be impaled on a fencepost at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue if President Bush had listen to Crumpton when we were angling for the kill at Tora Bora.

Needless to say, when Hank Crumpton speaks, I listen.

He gave a speech at CSIS last week. Check out the transcript, video, or mp3.

Globalization we understand; we read about it all of the time – lots of great examples, but it’s not only globalization; it’s not only at a regional level, in Southeast Asia or Central Asia, or NATO – it’s not only the national level, but importantly it’s at a local level. Late Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil, he said all politics is local. Well, I promise you, all counterterrorism is local. In the future of war, it will increasingly be the case.
Preach brotha...

I met with Ahmed Shah Massoud. He was the late leader of the northern alliance. He was assassinated just a couple of days before 9/11. Al Qaeda knew hew as an important ally with the United States and they wanted to take him out of the picture. But this was a couple of years before that; I had a discussion with him. It was in the
hinterlands of Central Asia – had a long talk about a variety of different things that we were working on together.

At the end of the conversation he asked me a question that I will never forget. He
said, your country – I have great respect for the United States, but I wonder, your country – you care more about al Qaeda and bin Laden, or do you care more about the people of Afghanistan. That was a pretty good question. And I gave him the best answer I could, which was, well, I’m from the CIA and my mission is a singular focus, and you’re talking to no one else in the U.S. government, so we care less about the people of Afghanistan.

And he smiled and nodded a very sad smile, but he knew the answer. He was
going to determine if I had the gumption to tell him the truth. But he was also I think teaching me a lesson, that you got to do both; you’ve got to find the enemy; you have to engage; and you have to engage in some cases without mercy, without hesitation. But if you don’t understand that environment and if you don’t care about the people, the job is not finished. And when we think of conflict in the future, it’s going to be exceedingly complex. It’s going to require that hard power, that critical 10 percent. But all that does is buy us space and time for that 90 percent that has to come in, that whole array of instruments. But how do we think about it? How do we organize ourselves? How do we fund ourselves?
Pearls of wisdom from the Lion of the Panjshir himself!

Your second question regarding the name, the war on – the global war on terrorism. I don’t like that name too much.

Economic Indicators

Think America's economy is in the can? Try buying a round of beers in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia to our Boer readership)! Thanks to Jess for the pic.

Found in Translation

"There is one evil I dread, and that is, their spies.”
- George Washington, March 24, 1776.

Found in Translation: FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds spills her secrets, by Philip Giraldi. The American Conservative, January 28, 2008.

Her allegations are not insignificant. Edmonds claims that Marc Grossman—ambassador to Turkey from 1994-97 and undersecretary of state for political affairs from 2001-05—was a person of interest to the FBI and had his phone tapped by the Bureau in 2001 and 2002. In the third-highest position at State, Grossman wielded considerable power personally and within the Washington bureaucracy. He had access to classified information of the highest sensitivity from the CIA, NSA, and Pentagon, in addition to his own State Department. On one occasion, Grossman was reportedly recorded making arrangements to pick up a cash bribe of $15,000 from an ATC contact. The FBI also intercepted related phone conversations between the Turkish Embassy and the Pakistani Embassy that revealed sensitive U.S. government information was being sold to the highest bidder. Grossman, who emphatically denies Edmonds’s charges, is currently vice chairman of the Cohen Group, founded by Clinton defense secretary William Cohen, where he reportedly earns a seven-figure salary, much of it coming from representing Turkey.

After 9/11, Grossman reportedly intervened with the FBI to halt the interrogation of four Turkish and Pakistani operatives. According to Edmonds, Grossman was called by a Turkish contact who told him that the men had to be released before they told what they knew. Grossman said that he would take care of it and, per Edmonds, the men were released and allowed to leave the country.

Edmonds states that FBI phone taps from late 2001 reveal that Grossman tipped off his Turkish contact regarding the CIA weapons proliferation cover unit Brewster Jennings, which was being used by Valerie Plame, and that the Turk then informed the Pakistani intelligence service representative in Washington. It is to be assumed that the information was then passed on to the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network.

Monday, January 21, 2008

FBI denies file exposing nuclear secrets theft

Follow up to the Sunday Times article from two weeks ago that I posted on:
FBI denies file exposing nuclear secrets theft. The Sunday Times, January 20, 2008.

Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator, listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations while based at the agency’s Washington field office.

She says the FBI was investigating a Turkish and Israeli-run network that paid high-ranking American officials to steal nuclear weapons secrets. These were then sold on the international black market to countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

One of the documents relating to the case was marked 203A-WF-210023. Last week, however, the FBI responded to a freedom of information request for a file of exactly the same number by claiming that it did not exist. But The Sunday Times has obtained a document signed by an FBI official showing the existence of the file.
And then it gets really spicy:

The anonymous letter names a high-level government official who was allegedly secretly recorded speaking to an official at the Turkish embassy between August and December 2001.

It claims the government official warned a Turkish member of the network that they should not deal with a company called Brewster Jennings because it was a CIA front company investigating the nuclear black market. The official’s warning came two years before Brewster Jennings was publicly outed when one of its staff, Valerie Plame, was revealed to be a CIA agent in a case that became a cause célèbre in the US.

The letter also makes reference to wiretaps of Turkish “targets” talking to ISI intelligence agents at the Pakistani embassy in Washington and recordings of “operatives” at the ATC.

Note that Marc Grossman was central in the Libby trial. BTW, guess where Valerie Plame first met her husband Ambassador Joesph Wilson? Big high five if you guessed at an American Turkish Council party.