Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
nyt jen preston
Preston to me: Lee [stranahan] trying to screw me
"Chill" says Jen Preston
Sent: Thursday, June 30, 2011 10:10 PM
Ron, I just got an email. Don't know if it is from you. Why I am responding here. I will talk to you in the morning. I have been trying to help you even as you stab me in the back and share private conversations. I know you are really smart, well intentioned and a good person. My advice is to be quiet..advice I gave you a few days ago. There is a lot of shit going on now. Innocent people, like Mike Stack is getting screwed. And you tweeted my DM to you about Neal R. Was trying to warn you because I thought of you as a friend. I will talk to you in the morning. Go to bed. Watch a movie. Read a book. Chill.
Despite everything you have done, and you have caused a lot of damage, I don't believe that you meant to do harm to me or anyone else. Jennifer
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
WikiLeaks Gitmo doc: 'Possible al- Qaida anthrax operative residing in New York'
He peers out from the photo in the classified file through heavy-framed spectacles, an owlish face with a graying beard and a half-smile. Saifullah Paracha, a successful businessman and for years a New York travel agent, appears to be the oldest of the 172 prisoners still held at the Guantánamo Bay prison. His dossier is among the most chilling.
While the rest of the world focuses on the lack of hard evidence, The New York Times continues to push the threats and alleged plots obtained via torture and unverified accounts from countries such as Pakistan.
You need to read seven paragraphs by Shane and Benjamin Weiser (and with the White House seal of approval) before they note, "The newly revealed assessments, obtained last year by the group WikiLeaks and provided by another source to The Times, have revived the dispute, nearly as old as the prison, over whether mistreatment of some prisoners there and the prison’s operation outside the criminal justice system invalidate the government’s conclusions about the detainees."
Hina Shamsi, director of the national security project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the assessments “are rife with uncorroborated evidence, information obtained through torture, speculation, errors and allegations that have been proven false.”
Anyway, this is what The New York Times missed from that same Gitmo document, and I don't believe this has ever been reported, and who knows if the New York Police Department were ever even notified about this:
The diary contained contact information for Najmut Tariq, a possible al- Qaida anthrax operative residing in New York. The name Tariq also appeared in a document recovered from an al-Qaida safe house in Pakistan along with a notation for the anthrax vaccine. Another al-Qaida associate identified Tariq as a businessman in the pharmaceutical industry.UPDATE
Detainee stated he has known Tariq since 1969, prior to detainee’s travels to the US. Tariq lived in Nazimabad, PK, detainee’s village, and they both attended the Mahmoomadin Mosque. Detainee stated he last spoke with Tariq in Karachi, PK, in early July 2003.39 Detainee added Tariq is a member of Jamiat Islami and is a pharmacist in the US with stores in Boston and New York City. Tariq was also close to Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the leader of Jamiat Islami.
Information linking Tariq to anthrax and biological weapons was found on a calendar belonging to Arif Qasmani, a Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT) member and associate of senior al-Qaida facilitator Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, aka (Abu Zubaydah), ISN US9GZ-010016DP (GZ-10016).
I'm searching through old articles and documents looking for any other related stories.
Not related, but interesting to recall:
"In the immediate aftermath of the 2001 anthrax attacks, White House officials repeatedly pressed FBI Director Robert Mueller to prove it was a second-wave assault by Al Qaeda, but investigators ruled that out, the Daily News has learned," Former NY Daily News reporter James Gordon Meek wrote in August of 2008.
After the Oct. 5, 2001, death from anthrax exposure of Sun photo editor Robert Stevens, Mueller was "beaten up" during President Bush's morning intelligence briefings for not producing proof the killer spores were the handiwork of terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden, according to a former aide.
"They really wanted to blame somebody in the Middle East," the retired senior FBI official told The News.
On October 15, 2001, President Bush said, "There may be some possible link" to Bin Laden, adding, "I wouldn't put it past him." Vice President Cheney also said Bin Laden's henchmen were trained "how to deploy and use these kinds of substances, so you start to piece it all together."
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
BBC ignores questions on why Raymond Davis story yanked for a day & edited
Since the story had a lot of minor grammar edits - along with the mysterious changes I asked the BBC about - if I was forced to wager I would venture that the story was yanked due to internal editorial concerns and not external US State Dept. pressure, but we'll probably never know.
I'm running this letter for two reasons: 1). To make up for not finishing the article 2). Because the BBC ignored my questions but my sitemeter tells me that someone paid a visit the other day.
Dear BBC News,
Around one half-hour after publishing "Behind the scenes of Pakistan Raymond Davis 'spy' saga" by M Ilyas Khan on Monday morning it was yanked from the net...until it resurfaced a day later - with no explanation - at a different link, with some minor editing but at least four key edits which I hope can be explained as I am writing an article about the changes.
Did the US State Dept. or anyone else from the White House or Pentagon or lobbying for Raymond Davis contact you on Monday morning and ask you to hold the story or change something?
The Associated Press, Washington Post and New York Times have all admitted that they held back reporting on Raymond Davis so I hope the BBC will come clean if they did anything similar.
At first I thought the article was pulled because the BBC was the first major media organization to refer to the alleged attack on the uncle of the suicide victim. But the final version of the article included that, though it had nothing about allegations that the attackers were related to the recruiting by Raymond Davis, as Pakistan and Indian papers have alleged.
The key changes to the article seems to be softening details about the attack involving Raymond Davis.
1) The phrase "self-defence theory" was removed, perhaps due to objections from State Dept.?
2) "two guns found on the boys" was changed to "none of the guns found on the men had been cocked" which turned "boys" to "men" and doesn't specify how many guns were found with the victims.
In addition, there are two changes to the story which I hope you can shed some light on, since they may have been made to protect sources, and if so, I won't dwell on the changes.
1). "___[Note: I'm leaving out name]'s house" was removed from the photo description, perhaps an attempt to protect him, though he's named in story.
I only mention that because the next change might be related to trying to protect source...or it could be something far more problematic.
2) "According to the police report placed before the court, a copy of which is available with BBC" was changed to "According to the police report placed before the court, a copy of which the BBC has seen"
Unlike all of the other edits, this change is of a completely factual nature. Since your reporter first wrote that the BBC had the police report, it seems unlikely that he was lying or mistaken.
But the change to "BBC has seen" might have been made to protect a Punjab police source.
The only two other explanations I can think of is that it was a lie and that an editor should make sure that the report confirms this or if the article is just referring to other newspaper accounts. Or the BBC took it out because they were afraid Pakistan would raise issue with the British government about procuring police documents or something like that.
Please get back to me as soon as possible, I'd like to publish my story in 24 hours. I wrote Mr. Khan on Monday but my email bounced back because I guess I had the wrong address.
thanks, Ron Brynaert
Monday, February 28, 2011
BBC appears to have yanked Raymond Davis Pakistan 'spy' story
Update at bottom: Article runs day later, key line edited, but mystery behind yanking remainsAround one half-hour after publishing an article entitled "Behind the scenes of Pakistan Raymond Davis 'spy' saga", the BBC appears to have yanked it.
The Washington Post, the Associated Press and The New York Times have all admitted to killing stories about Raymond Davis, who was apprehended in Pakistan after he confessed to shooting two motorcyclists who he claimed tried to rob him, allegedly because the US State Dept. feared for his safety. But at least one of the cyclists was shot in the back, and a third Pakistani was killed when either a US embassy car sped over to pick Davis up or - as Pakistan papers have reported - a car accompanying Davis sped off after the shootings and ran him over.
Above is a jpeg of the yanked BBC article, and below is the only line that I've been able to decipher so far:
"The shooting of two Pakistani men by a US official has ignited a bitter diplomatic row. Amid rumours of blood money and CIA spies, the BBC's M Ilyas Khan went to Lahore to find the victims' case has been adopted by hardline religious and political groups"
This is the link where the article was originally published: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12594416. The article headline can still be found in Google News, but disappeared from the BBC internal search engine almost before my eyes seconds after I tweeted it.
Some more text I found from Google search engine:
"On January 27 2011, an American man shot dead two Pakistani men. That much we know." "His name is Raymond Davis - but many in Pakistan question whether that is his real name. The US says he is an embassy official; other sources claim he is a CIA contractor. The two men he shot were 18-year-old Mohammad Faheem and Faizan Haider, 23. Mr Davis says the men, who were riding a motorbike, pulled over at his side at a traffic light and pointed a gun at him."
I'm not sure where this line fits, but so far I haven't found anything new in this article, yet.
"Anonymous member of militant group. In a statement before her death, she said she wanted to kill herself because she did not expect the government to bring Raymond Davis to justice."
"I was ushered into a room where some men of the family were sitting quietly, listening to two visitors who introduced themselves as members of a well-known militant group based in Punjab"
"Since both boys were armed with pistols, Mr Davis' plea of self-defence sounded credible at first. But the Punjab police in their subsequent investigation focused on evidence that contradicted Mr Davis' self-defence theory."
"He says a section of the media has also joined these forces "in an attempt to expose what they describe as the slavish mentality of the Pakistani government."
(That last line appears to be a reference to an essay written by Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi, an independent political and defense analyst who was once a Visiting Professor of Pakistan Studies at Columbia University''s School of International and Public affairs, called "Power games and such": link.
From Dr. Rizvi's essay published Feb. 23 in Pakistan Today:
The Raymond Davis issue is a bilateral problem between Pakistan and the United States. Similar problems of immunities of the embassy officials arise between the states from time to time and the states address these issues at the official level. However, as a host of Pakistani political groups and leaders view foreign policy from their purely partisan domestic agendas, the Raymond Davis issue has become an issue of power struggle between the PPP-led federal government and the opposition parties, especially the Islamic parties and groups. A section of the media has also joined them in an attempt to expose what they describe as the slavish mentality of the Pakistani government.
The Raymond Davis issue is no longer a foreign policy question. It has become part of domestic power game. The private sector electronic media and the print media have initiated the trial and the Islamic groups and parties are passing the judgment on the issue through street protests and threatening the federal government with massive street agitation if Raymond Davis is not tried and convicted in Pakistan.
Such a domestic context makes it extremely difficult for the federal government to manage the Raymond David case as a purely foreign policy issue. Its problems have been multiplied because of the defiant posture of Shah Mahmood Qureshi on this issue after losing his position as foreign minister. Another factor is the reluctant cooperation by the Punjab Government. The Punjab Law Minister, Rana Sanaullah, has made statements on the Raymond Davis issue that lean heavily towards the Islamists perspective. The PML(N), knowing the mood in the streets of the Punjab, is not willing to help out the federal government.
The current emotionalism and anti-America hysteria manifesting mainly in the Punjab may prove to be more decisive in shaping Pakistan’s disposition. The US policy of exerting pressure in public or threatening to take some punitive action adds to the problems of the Pakistan government. It limits the prospects for a quick and amicable resolution of the problem.)
More to come...
"The man in question was Mohammad Sarwar, the uncle of Shumaila Kanwal, the widow of one of the men shot by Raymond Davis."
"Soon after her husband's death, Ms Kanwal went to live at her uncle's house in the city of Faisalabad. Shortly afterwards she committed suicide by swallowing rat poison. In a statement before her death, she said she wanted to kill herself because she did not expect the government to bring Raymond Davis to justice."
"in Faisalabad were considering an offer of blood money to pardon Raymond Davis"
POSSIBLE EXPLANATION FOR BBC YANKING ARTICLE
On February 24, Ahmad Jamal Nizam at Pakistan's Nawa-i-Waqt newspaper reported, "Three armed men forcibly gave poisonous pills to Muhammad Sarwar, the uncle of Shumaila Kanwal, the widow of Fahim shot dead by Raymond Davis, after barging into his house in Rasool Nagar, Chak Jhumra." But only Pakistan and India news services have even mentioned this report, until the BBC for a half-hour this morning.
Sarwar was rushed to Allied Hospital in critical condition where doctors were trying to save his life till early Thursday morning. The brother of Muhammad Sarwar told The Nation that three armed men forced their entry into the house after breaking the windowpane of one of the rooms. When they broke the glass, Muhammad Sarwar came out. The outlaws started beating him up.
The other family members, including women and children, coming out for his rescue, were taken hostage and beaten up. The three outlaws then took everyone hostage at gunpoint and forced poisonous pills down Sarwar’s throat.
“One of the pills was thrown out by Sarwar while he was forced to sallow the others,” family members said. The family members said the gunmen were demanding a patch-up with Raymond Davis, but when “all the family refused, they started torturing us”.
Nizami's article ends with this ominous paragraph, "It merits mentioning that when this scribe with Nawa-i-Waqt team was walking through the village of Shumaila Kanwal the other day, Muhammad Sarwar told this scribe that two armed foreigners tortured him and threatened to kill him and all his family members. He also alleged that the foreigners threatened to bomb all the village if “we didn’t cooperating to get Raymond Davis released”.
As David Lindorff recently reported, "Pakistani and Indian newspapers are reporting that Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor in jail in Lahore facing murder charges for the execution-slayings of two young men believed to be Pakistani intelligence operatives, was actually involved in organizing terrorist activities in Pakistan."
As the Express Tribune, an English-language daily that is linked to the International Herald Tribune, reported on Feb. 22:Earlier today, Dawn.com reported that "law enforcement agencies arrested 45 individuals for staying in constant contact with Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who shot dead two Pakistanis in Lahore last month."
“The Lahore killings were a blessing in disguise for our security agencies who suspected that Davis was masterminding terrorist activities in Lahore and other parts of Punjab,” a senior official in the Punjab Police claimed.
“His close ties with the TTP [the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan] were revealed during the investigations,” he added. “Davis was instrumental in recruiting young people from Punjab for the Taliban to fuel the bloody insurgency.” Call records of the cellphones recovered from Davis have established his links with 33 Pakistanis, including 27 militants from the TTP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi sectarian outfit, sources said.
The individuals had been arrested from Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar and their contact information was taken from Davis’ mobile phone. Investigations were underway.
Update: Article runs day later, key line edited, but mystery behind yanking remainsThe BBC story is now live, so this blog post is mostly irrelevant since I don't see anything missing that I can tell. If the US pressured BBC to hold for a day, it's a story we'll have to wait and see on, but it might just have needed more research.
Here's the part that I focused late yesterday on:
But the latest development was buried deep in the Pakistani newspapers last week. It was a report about a man taken to hospital after intruders tried to force poison down his throat.
Some of the other sources for the uncle's attack story implied that the attackers could be connected to Raymond Davis, who has been accused of recruiting an army of militants to attack Pakistan government in order to prove unrest, but I'm not sure the BBC article ever said that.
Okay, I take that back. A very key line has been edited that may indicate US State Dept. pressure. Check Bradblog later tonight for a more readable version of this article and new developments.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The Fight For the District Kingdoms
In establishing Legislative district boundaries: (1) No apportionment plan or district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent; and districts shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice; and districts shall consist of contiguous territory. (2) Unless compliance with the standards in this subsection conflicts with the standards in subsection (1) or with federal law, districts shall be as nearly equal in population as is practicable; districts shall be compact; and districts shall, where feasible, utilize existing political and geographical boundaries. (3) The order in which the standards within sub-sections (1) and (2) of this section are set forth shall not be read to establish any priority of one standard over the other within that subsection.Amendment 6
In establishing Congressional district boundaries: (1) No apportionment plan or individual district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent; and districts shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice; and districts shall consist of contiguous territory. (2) Unless compliance with the standards in this subsection conflicts with the standards in subsection (1) or with federal law, districts shall be as nearly equal in population as is practicable; districts shall be compact; and districts shall, where feasible, utilize existing political and geographical boundaries. (3) The order in which the standards within sub-sectionsChanging the redistricting process as been a longtime goal for Florida progressives. Newly elected Florida Democratic Party chairman Rod Smith said the he will fight to legally make sure districts are drawn under the voter approved constitutional guidelines. Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos snidely remarked, "I call it the full employment for lawyers' bill." The voter approved amendments were not a "bill." It makes me wonder if the new Florida Senate leader understands the legislative process. Senate Democrat Gary Siplin has voiced his disapproval of Amendment 5 and Amendment 6. Siplin has been known to vote with Republicans. The only thing Siplin is concerned about his his own Senate district. Siplin and Rep. Corrine Brown said the new redistricting guidelines will not protect African-American voters. The amendments are written to protect minority voters. What likely concerns Siplin and Brown is that computers will be used to redraw districts. Sen. Haridopolos planned on using computers before the approval of the amendments. The amendments require that the districts be drawn in a reasonable square and contoured manner. Siplin's and Brown's districts bear closer resemblance to Jackson Pollock paintings than anything with right angles. The same can be said for every member of the Florida legislature and the Congressional delegation. Brown and Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart have filed a lawsuit against the new redistricting law. BROWN: "I was extremely disappointed in the passage of amendments 5 and 6. Congressman Diaz-Balart and I introduced a lawsuit this morning, and will continue our fight against these misguided, deceptive amendments in the federal courts. I am absolutely convinced that if they are carried out as prescribed, our state will immediately revert to the time period prior to 1992, when Florida was devoid of African American or Hispanic representation." The ACLU has filed a motion against Brown. The ACLU is a defendant in the case. The ACLU called pre-approved Amendment 5 and Amendment 6 districting process a "rigged and broken system." The Florida Supreme court approved the ballot language of Amendment 5 and Amendment 6. It is doubtful Brown's and Diaz-Balart's lawsuit will go far. Now that the new districting system is in the Florida constitution what does it mean to Democrats? Unfortunately. The success of Amendment 5 and Amendment 6 becoming law alone will not change the fortunes of Florida Democrats. Republicans have filibuster-proof majorities in the Florida House and Senate. There are only a handful of Democrats that will be working on redrawing districts on a federal and state level. It is hard for Democrats to change the rules of the game when they do not have enough elected officials to field a team. Haridopolos, Marco Rubio, Ray Sansom, and David Rivera have been involved in various corruption scandals related to they service in the Florida legislature. Hoping for Republicans to draw up districts that will take away their dominance is pure fantasy. The Republican Party of Florida and legislative GOP members will mount a fierce campaign against fair district changes. The Florida Democratic Party is broken. Democrats are putting their faith in a new chairman who has lost two statewide races and most famous moment is the much mocked helicopter ad. It is doubtful Smith is going to significantly increase Democrats chances of getting elected to the Florida legislature any time in the foreseeable future. Haridopolos' prediction of lawsuits looks increasingly likely. The redistricting fight will get uglier as Florida again becomes a presidential battleground state.
"For he that holds his kingdom holds the law."William Shakespeare, King John, 3.1 The people that make laws in Tallahassee have every intention of keeping their kingdom.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Obama's State Dept. jokes about Osama but is serious about WikiLeaks
With Julian Assange in jail, the State Department steps up its WikiLeaks counteroffensive. Howard Kurtz talks to State brass about his motive and why he should be considered dangerous.All seriousness now, Mr. Crowley is not in a joke-telling mood. Unfortunately, when the subject matter is al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden, the State Department flack believes it's his duty to turn into Robin Williams (of the unfunny Patch Adams variety). On March 29, 2010 at a State Dept. press conference a reporter and Crowley had the following exchange after President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan:
As Julian Assange steps up his rhetoric and his releases of sensitive material, the State Department is becoming increasingly undiplomatic.
“Mr. Assange is not seemingly worried about real lives and real careers which can be put at risk of being intimidated, jailed or killed,” Assistant Secretary P.J. Crowley told The Daily Beast. His most recent statements “really unmasked him.”
Hours after WikiLeaks published a secret memo listing more than 100 factories, labs, and underseas cables that the United States considers critical for world security, Crowley said: “In releasing that kind of information, Mr. Assange is giving a group like al Qaeda a potential targeting list.”
QUESTION: I hope you have some Osama bin Laden soon.In May, Crowley's joking on bin Laden attracted a bit more attention. AFP reported,
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: I hope you have Osama bin Laden coming soon.
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.) We all hope for that day.
The US State Department, after hearing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad say Osama bin Laden was in Washington, joked Wednesday it found no trace of him despite a thorough search.Just a few weeks ago, on November 16, Crowley again elicited laughs when asked about Osama bin Laden, although the transcript seems to be missing the punchline:
"We've done an intensive search here at the Department of State -- every nook and cranny, every rock -- and we can safely report that Osama bin Laden is not here," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said.
"You mean Greater Washington, or you just looked at the State Department?" a reporter asked as he played along with the joke from Crowley, the spokesman for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"Just the confines of the State Department, but it was reported by the president of Iran that he's here in Washington. That's news to us," Crowley said before turning to the news of the day.
"And thank you for laughing," he said, smiling broadly.
Q And -- but just to follow up, should we wait for later in the day? Because the second is that bin Laden is still at large because the U.S. Army has not caught him, you know. So --The funny thing is, years ago, when Crowley worked for the progressive Center for American Progress, he was more serious about Osama bin Laden. The blog Jihad Watch reported in June of 2007,
MR. CROWLEY: I'm not sure. Is there a question there?
Q He says it is because we haven't caught him. Bin Laden is still out there.
MR. CROWLEY: (Laughs.) That would be true. (Laughs.)
Q So is it -- how do you take it? Like is it that you know where he is and you are just letting him around?
Q (Tell us ?).
MR. CROWLEY: Look, we continue our hunt for and interest in capturing Mr. bin Laden.
P.J. Crowley, a military analyst at the Center for American Progress and a former national security aide to President Clinton, said the Iraq war has diverted assets that could be used to find bin Laden.But after being tapped to Obama's State Department in May of 2009, Crowley began to dismiss bin Laden's relevance. From an Associated Press article in January shortly after the failed underwear bomb attempt,
"Now that he is in the tribal areas, I doubt that a bounty of any number will be helpful," Crowley said "Given tribal relationships, they will protect him."
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said that while bin Laden remains a "catalyst" for terrorist activities by groups affiliated with his organization, there is no indication that he or his lieutenants have a direct hand in ordering attacks.This October 15, 2001 interview of Crowley, when he was vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, is very revealing in a post-WikiLeaks sense.
"They offer strategic guidance and rely on their affiliates to carry out that strategic guidance," Crowley said in an interview. The audio tape made public Sunday offers no evidence that bin Laden's relationship with affiliates such as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen, has changed, Crowley said.
"He's trying to continue to appear relevant" by talking up an attempted attack by an affiliate, Crowley added.
TERENCE SMITH: Colonel Crowley, Dr. Rice told reporters today that analysts were still studying the messages to see if there was any imbedded message to al-Qaida's followers in it but had not yet detected any. Do you feel it was a legitimate request to limit the exposure of these?"It could well be that it's putting television at a slight reportorial disadvantage but television, on many occasions agrees to restrictions in return for access," Crowley said in October of 2001.
P.J. CROWLEY: I think it is unusual but not necessarily unprecedented. In every crisis there's always going to be times where the news media is in possession of information that, as you evaluate the national interest, it's better that they not broadcast right away or not broadcast at all. This is a little bit unusual in the nature of the delivery system where al-Qaida will pass a videotape to al Jazeera and then from there to the networks, but, you know, bin Laden is not the President of the United States. He should not be able to have unfettered access to our airwaves any time one of those tapes gets past.
I do agree with Bob that this is something where we need to have the administration make its case. If they have concerns that there are codes being passed, they need to be able to substantiate that. I also agree that over time these guys don't wear well. As we saw, for example, in the crisis in Kosovo, the more we heard from Slobodan Milosevic, the stronger the international resolve was to defeat him. I think that could be well the case in this instance, but I think early on where we have this kind of very strong emotion and unprecedented kind of situation caution is appropriate.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
I'm Back And I Still Got A Sledgehammer Break!
Obama's 'Spikes of Activity'
Five-and-a-half years ago I published "'Spikes of Activity' In The DSM." My blog was so widely read and linked then, that according to Google, it still trumps the amazing Michael Smith's original Pulitzer-worthy article that I based all my work on in the first place. Among other things, the major two findings I made were locating the charts referenced by the Ministry of Defense and tying the pre-war "spikes" the US unleashed in Iraq to a September 16th, 2002 briefing given by former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Two Raw Story articles I worked on developed and more succinctly stated my findings, and our work was referenced in "The Constitution in Crisis The High Crimes of the Bush Administration and a Blueprint for Impeachment" report, compiled by House Democratic Judiciary Committtee staff members under the commission of Representative John Conyers of Michigan.
The Iraq war actually started in the late summer of 2002, but the media still doesn't acknowledge that.
What is the difference between Bush's "spikes of activity" and Obama's "spikes of activity"?
Bush's "spikes of activity" did not start before being sworn in as president. Obama's "spikes of activity" started almost immediately after he won election.
In November and December of 2008, as lame duck Bush administration members were cleaning out their desks -- well, the ones that left anyway; not the ones who were absorbed with the promised "change" -- Obama's war began.
Much, much more on this to come. Stay tuned.
Until then, here's a reprint of my July of 2005 article:
'Spikes of Activity' in the DSM
(Downing Street Minutes to Hit House Floor: "Congressman John Conyers, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee are asking their colleagues in the House of Representatives to join them on the evening of June 28 to discuss the Downing Street Minutes on the floor of the House. Speeches will be posted within 15 mins at DEMBloggers.com and linked to from AfterDowningStreet.org.)
(The Raw Story reports that the Democrats' speeches on the Downing Street Memos have been postponed until Thursday. The Congressional members "were forced to delay their plans after the Republican leadership scheduled several late-night votes, Conyers press secretary Dena Graziano told RAW STORY. They now plan speeches Thursday evening, though they could be thwarted again if votes are scheduled or Congress is adjourned.")
Last Thursday, Michael Smith, the reporter for The Sunday Times who broke the Downing Street minutes story, wrote a must-read op-ed for the L.A. Times ("The Real News in the Downing Street Memos") which relates to an overlooked part of the memos and provides some more background on the "deep throats" who leaked the top secret documents:
"It is now nine months since I obtained the first of the "Downing Street memos," thrust into my hand by someone who asked me to meet him in a quiet watering hole in London for what I imagined would just be a friendly drink. At the time, I was defense correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph, and a staunch supporter of the decision to oust Saddam Hussein. The source was a friend. He'd given me a few stories before but nothing nearly as interesting as this."
Real Republicans take note of this:
"The six leaked documents I took away with me that night were to change completely my opinion of the decision to go to war and the honesty of Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush."
And the real news as Michael Smith sees it:
"American media coverage of the Downing Street memo has largely focused on the assertion by Sir Richard Dearlove, head of British foreign intelligence, that war was seen as inevitable in Washington, where "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. But another part of the memo is arguably more important. It quotes British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon as saying that "the U.S. had already begun 'spikes of activity' to put pressure on the regime." This we now realize was Plan B."
"Put simply, U.S. aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone were dropping a lot more bombs in the hope of provoking a reaction that would give the allies an excuse to carry out a full-scale bombing campaign, an air war, the first stage of the conflict."
"In other words, Bush and Blair began their war not in March 2003, as everyone believed, but at the end of August 2002, six weeks before Congress approved military action against Iraq."
In his autobiography, American Soldier, retired General Tommy Franks, who led the 2003 (I should say...2002) invasion of Iraq, employed the phrase "spikes of activity" a few times (link):
"I'm thinking in terms of spikes, Mr. Secretary-spurts of activity followed by periods of inactivity. We want the Iraqis to become accustomed to military expansion, and then apparent contraction."
"As Phase I is completed, we could flow steadily for the next sixty days, while continuing spikes of activity to lend credence to our deception. During the sixty days we would increase kinetic strikes in the no-fly zones to weaken Iraq's integrated air defenses."
On November 27th in 2002, in response to a question asked by the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, Sir Menzies Campbell, the Ministry of Defense released the information "on how many occasions (a) coalition aircraft and (b) UK aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone in Iraq have (i) detected violations of the no-fly zones, (ii) detected a direct threat to a coalition aircraft and (iii) released ordnance in each month since March, stating for each month the tonnage released" (House of Commons Hansard) included in these charts:
(i) No-fly zone (NFZ) violations are detected in several ways. I am withholding details of detection methods in accordance with Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. The number of violations recorded, by month, in the southern No Fly Zone, is as follows:
Number of violations recorded
(ii) Coalition aircraft recorded threats on a total of 143 occasions, as follows:
Coalition aircraft recorded threats
We do not hold separate threat figures for individual nations' aircraft.
(iii) (a) Coalition aircraft in the southern NFZ responded in self defence against Iraqi Air Defence targets on 41 occasions in the period from 1 March to 13 November, and released 126.4 tons of ordnance.
Responses conducted in self defence
Tonnage of ordnance released
(iii) (b) Of these totals, UK aircraft responded on 17 occasions and released 46 tons of ordnance:
27 Nov 2002 : Column 331W
Responses conducted in self defence
Tonnage of ordnance released
This LA Times op-ed is the first time that this essential part of the Downing Street Memo story has appeared in the mainstream American press, even though Michael Smith wrote about it in relation to the DSM on May 29th ("RAF bombing raids tried to goad Saddam into war").
But that's not the first time Michael Smith reported on the airstrikes launched by the Bush and Blair Administrations before the President officially went to Congress or the United Nations to seek approval for the war.
On September 6th, 2002, Michael Smith reported:
"About 100 American and British aircraft took part in an attack on Iraq's major western air defence installation yesterday in the biggest single operation over the country for four years. The raid appeared to be a prelude to the type of special forces operations that would have to begin weeks before a possible American-led war. It was launched two days before a war summit between President George W Bush and Tony Blair in America."
On September 13th, 2002, Michael Smith reported:
"Advance parties will begin deploying to Kuwait within two weeks in preparation for an attack on Iraq which could involve up to 30,000 British troops, defence sources said yesterday. At the same time, attacks on Iraq by aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones will be stepped up with the intention of piling the pressure on Saddam Hussein to agree to give up his weapons of mass destruction."
On September 17th, 2002, Michael Smith reported:
"America admitted last night that British and US aircraft enforcing no-fly zones in Iraq had changed tactics to extend the damage being caused to Iraq's air defences. Despite recent official denials, Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, said he ordered the change in tactics last month because US and British pilots were coming under more effective fire from Iraqi gunners. The US air force is now concentrating on buildings and other fixed targets, rather than mobile targets such as radars and surface-to-air missile launchers, in an effort to cause more lasting damage."
When will the American press notice?
When will the American press care?
When will this illegal pre-invasion become news?
On Sunday, Michael Smith's latest article on the DSM appeared in The Sunday Times: "How the leaked documents questioning war emerged from 'Britain's Deep Throat'."
Smith presents more details about his meetings with the two "deep throats" and gives tons of credit to the blogosphere for helping this story reach the American press (I'm going to excerpt from Michael Smith's article a little more than I usually do...but please take the time to follow the link to read the rest of it):
"After reporting these secret memos, which revealed the dubious manoeuverings of government, I expected the US press to react. Surely there would be a storm of anger over the way in which the American public had been deceived into going to war? But still there was no interest. Then slowly something astonishing happened. People power took over."
"The Sunday Times website was inundated with ordinary US citizens wanting to read the minutes of the July meeting. Bloggers set to work passing the word."
"Six ordinary, patriotic citizens with no political axe to grind were so outraged to discover the truth about the path to war that they set up their own website, naming it after the minutes, which had become known as the Downing Street memo."
"Another website called AfterDowningStreet followed. People got together to lobby their local newspapers and radio and television stations to demand to know why they weren’t being told about the memo. There were even T-shirts made with the slogan: “Have you read the memo?” With anger over the war growing, Washington politicians finally acted. More than 120 congressmen wrote to Bush, demanding to know whether the memo was true. They held their own hearings to try to draw attention to it. The issue was forced into the mainstream media."
"Last week one US blogger, Larisa Alexandrovna of RawStory.com, unearthed more unsettling evidence. It was an overlooked interview with Lieutenant-General T Michael Moseley, the allied air commander in Iraq, in which he appears to admit that the “spikes of activity” were part of a covert air war."
"From June 2002 until March 20, when the ground war began, the allies flew 21,736 sorties over southern Iraq, attacking 349 carefully selected targets. The attacks, Moseley said, “laid the foundations” for the invasion, allowing allied commanders to begin the ground war."
"The bloggers may have found their own smoking gun."
Michael R. Gordon wrote an article for The New York Times on July 19, 2003 entitled "U.S. Attacked Iraqi Defenses Starting in 2002" which includes an interview with Lt. Gen. T. Michael Moseley, the chief allied war commander, who is referenced in Michael Smith's article:
"American air war commanders carried out a comprehensive plan to disrupt Iraq's military command and control system before the Iraq war, according to an internal briefing on the conflict by the senior allied air war commander."
"Known as Southern Focus, the plan called for attacks on the network of fiber-optic cable that Saddam Hussein's government used to transmit military communications, as well as airstrikes on key command centers, radars and other important military assets."
"The strikes, which were conducted from mid-2002 into the first few months of 2003, were justified publicly at the time as a reaction to Iraqi violations of a no-flight zone that the United States and Britain established in southern Iraq. But Lt. Gen. T. Michael Moseley, the chief allied war commander, said the attacks also laid the foundations for the military campaign against the Baghdad government."
"We were able to figure out that we were getting ahead of this guy and we were breaking them up faster than he could fix them," General Moseley said of the fiber-optic cables. "So then we were able to push it up a little bit and effectively break up the fiber-optic backbone from Baghdad to the south."
"But General Moseley said it was possible that the Iraqi attacks increased because allied planes had stepped up their patrols over Iraq. "We became a little more aggressive based on them shooting more at us, which allowed us to respond more," he said. "Then the question is whether they were shooting at us because we were up there more. So there is a chicken and egg thing here."
"As full-scale war approached, the air war commanders had five goals. They wanted to neutralize the ability of the Iraqi government to command its forces; to establish control of the airspace over Iraq; to provide air support for Special Operations forces, as well as for the Army and Marine forces that would advance toward Baghdad; and to neutralize Iraq's force of surface-to-surface missiles and suspected caches of biological and chemical weapons."
On May 15th, 2005, not long after the Downing Street minutes were leaked, President Bush nominated "Gen. T. Michael Moseley, the No. 2 officer in the Air Force, to succeed the current chief, Gen. John Jumper." (link). It almost makes you wonder if that was some sort of attempt to invoke the Bush Administratin policy of pre-emptive warfare in order to rein Moseley in.
Perhaps, over one year later and after the release of the Downing Street minutes and other documents, the American press and some of the Congressional leaders - Democrats and Republicans who are disenchanted with the ongoing war in Iraq - will be more interested in what General Moseley has to say about the "war before the war."
John Byrne and Larisa Alexandrovna's article at The Raw Story has more on Moseley, and also a fantastic interview with GlobalSecurity.org director John Pike, who reveals how the Bush/Blair Administrations "explicitly altered the rules of engagement."
On September 16th, 2002, the Department of Defense held a press briefing with Gen. Peter Pace, Vice-Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld from September 16th, 2002. Shockingly (or not so shockingly), Rumsfeld made light of the "war before the war" and many members of the press laughed about it with him. (defenselink.mil):
After a few more questions, the "war before the war" was brought up again:
Q: "General, we've been noting the continued strikes in Iraq in both the Northern and Southern no-fly zone. Military -- Pentagon officials have been portraying these as essentially routine. But the toll continues to mount as we look at the targets that have struck in the South. Can you still say that this is a routine level of activity, or has there been an increase in the U.S. response, understanding that just about every time the United States or its allies fly in the no-fly zones, Iraq provides some kind of provocation by shooting at the planes. But still, you decide when you're going to respond and how you're going to respond, and has there been an escalation?"
Pace: "I would certainly not use the term "routine." Any time we have folks getting airplanes flying over territory where they're being shot at every time they do is not a routine mission, and the response is not routine. And what has changed, I think, and what perhaps you may be referring to, is the number of events, as you look back over the last several years, is about on par with what has happened in the last couple of years. What has changed a little bit is the tactics that are being employed in response to that so that the air defense network in Iraq, which includes the radars and the buildings that have the command nodes in them and the airfields themselves, the response to that by the commanders on the ground has been to go after more of the targets like communications buildings, that are not easily moved, and striking those. So instead of going at the specific radar that was involved, which can easily be moved between the time the missile was fired and the time we're able to counter-strike, they're picking on targets that are still part of that continuum of air defense but that are not going to be (easily/able to be ?) moved and can be struck readily and provide appropriate level of response to that kind of provocation."
Q: "Did the recent strikes in the last weeks and months -- have you succeeded in degrading Iraq's air defenses because of that? And does that, in fact, lay the groundwork if there's potential military action against Iraq in the future?"
Pace: "The recent strikes have degraded the air defense capabilities."
Rumsfeld: "Oh, wait -- there's two aspects to that question. One is, have they degraded them on a relative basis, and have they degraded them on an absolute basis, net? Because they are constantly trying to improve them. They have been putting in fiber optic, and they have been doing a whole series of things -- developing queuing techniques."
"And I am not in a position to know if they have been net degraded. There is no question but that when a response option is executed, that some of the time but not all of the time, the battle- damage reports indicate that what you intended to do was some percentage accomplished. So you could say that's degrading. Whether it is degrading it faster than it is being improved no one not on the ground is in a position to respond to that."
Q: "General --"
Pace: "That's what the general meant to say." (Laughter.)
Q: "General Pace, you didn't really answer whether -- is that laying the groundwork for an Iraqi strike? In other words, why the change on this? Some might say this was just laying the groundwork"
Rumsfeld: "Well, it can't hurt. I directed it."
Q: "Why did you direct it?"
Rumsfeld: "Because it seemed right at the time. The -- I don't like the idea of our planes being shot at. We're there implementing U.N. resolutions. The -- it's not just the United States. It's the British, the coalition forces involved. And the idea that our planes go out and get shot at with impunity bothers me."
Q: "Can you --"
Q: "When did you direct the change?"
Rumsfeld: "And I don't like it. I don't like it. And so what we are doing is we are attempting to, in an orderly way, as the general indicated, arrange our response options in a way that we think -- hope -- we hope will be net harmful to their capabilities on the ground. We can't know for sure if it has been net harmful, but our intention is to make it net harmful."
Q: "But is this laying the groundwork for Iraq? That's the question."
Rumsfeld: "The President hasn't made a decision with respect to Iraq. Didn't I say that earlier? I thought I said that."
Q: "When did you order the change?"
Q: "When did you order this? When did this change take place, Mr. Secretary?"
Q: "Now?" (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: "Less than a year -- less than a year and more than a week." (Laughter.) I think less than six months and more than a month."
Rumsfeld: "But I can't remember. I don't keep track of all -- I don't keep notes."
Q: "Can you take my question, please?"
Q: "Could someone take that question and get back to us?"
Q: "General, do you remember?"
Pace: "I remember it happening since I've been here, which was 1 October last year."
Pace: "Which is almost a year now. But I don't remember."
Q: "Will you take that question?"
Rumsfeld: "If you want to take the rhythm of what happened, what happened was that after I came, which is the extent of my knowledge -- or recollection, there had been a pattern of responses that had been relatively only marginally effective, both in the North and the South. And we were flying patterns that were getting us shot at. And our responses being what they were, at some point -- and I don't remember, I think it was this year -- at some point -- maybe it was, like, last year -- we decided, after a good deal of talk, General Pace, General Myers, others in the National Security Council, that it really did not make an awful lot of sense to be flying patterns that we were being shot at if in response, we were not doing any real damage that would make it worth putting pilots at risk. So we modified some of our flights to that they were then flying in areas that were less likely to put them at risk and more in keeping with the value of what we were achieving by doing it."
"You look at a cost-benefit ratio and you say, all right, you're willing to take that much of a risk because the benefit's this. So we modified it slightly. At some point, after we were able to review it over a period of time, it became pretty clear that there was a way to make the cost-benefit ratio make more sense, and at that stage we then changed it to go back to a set of flight patterns, but attached to those flight patterns, response options that we felt would give us a benefit that would merit the risks that were undertaken. That is kind of what the rhythm over time has been."
(To General Pace) "Is that your recollection, roughly?"
Pace: "Sir, that's correct."
Rumsfeld: "Now, what I'd like -- did that answer that question?"
Q: "Yes, a little bit. Could you explain tactically -- when I went over with your predecessor, they were -- the folks at Incirlik were actually really kind of excited about the work that they were doing, because by taking out these little tactical assets, there was going to be less shooting at them, and these are the things that are so hard to find, if indeed a war comes, whereas the buildings, as you said, can't be moved, and so they're easily targeted, if you need to do that."
"So can you explain tactically why going after a stationary target is of more value to the military than taking out the things that are actually targeting them?"
Rumsfeld: "I wouldn't say it's more valuable. I think both can be valuable. And one of the problems is that over time, the capabilities on the ground change. And, for example, as fiber optic was put in, and as queuing ability was developed and enhanced, what target would cause us the least grief in terms of risk to our pilots changed. And as you work your way through fixed targets, then they're gone -- unless they're replaced. As you attack moveable targets and get them, the question is can you get them faster than they can replace them through the relative porous borders they have with at least three countries on their periphery. So we ought not to think of it as a static situation."
Q: "On Iraqi air --"
Rumsfeld: "This is the last question."
Q: "On Iraqi air defenses, could the strikes against them have the effect, inadvertent or not, of degrading them in a way that would have -- lay the groundwork if we -- if the President went ahead and made the decision to attack? I mean --"
Rumsfeld: "Well, I think that goes back to the earlier question that General Pace and I both responded to. And there's no question but that to the extent they keep shooting at our airplanes and to the extent we keep engaging in response options and to the extent that those response options are harmful to their air defense, which they are, that that's good. Whether they're going to be net stronger or weaker in the event anything were to occur in the future, again, is a function of what kind -- how fast they're able to rebuild and replace and replenish that capability. So I don't know how one could answer it any more skillfully than the general did."
"Thank you. Good to see you all."
Although I've linked to it before, I'd like to draw attention again to NYU Journalism Chair Jay Rosen's pretty comprehensive accounting of the MSM's coverage of the Downing Street minutes since Michael Smith first broke the story on May 1st. Since I last linked to it, a week ago, Rosen has updated his post and there is a great ongoing discussion taking place in the comments section: "The Downing Street Memo and the Court of Appeal in News Judgment."
Rosen also added a link to an article that Arianna Huffington wrote at The Huffington Post which compared coverage of the DSM to reports about Michael Jackson and Natalee Holloway on the major network television newscasts from May 1st to June 20th: "Just Say Noruba."
Also, in an ongoing series, the PSoTD blog has been keeping track of the news articles about the DSM gathered from Google News as compared to the blog postings according to Technorati. On June 1st, PSoTD found 254 news articles and 1504 blog posts. In his latest progress report on June 25th, those numbers jumped to 2090 news articles and 9005 blog posts, which gives a rough idea how much the blogosphere has led this story and the effect that it's had on the mainstream media.
US Bombing Watch has a compilation of articles that appeared in the mainstream media which detail all the airstrikes in 2002, and other years (hat tip to Shockwave, a Daily Kos diarist for providing the link).
Another great resource is a Website started by yet another Daily Kos diarist named Timbuk3 called What We Knew, What We Were Told (The Stories That Led Us to War). It includes links to archived articles from the MSM ranging from March of 2002 to January of 2004 that can be viewed in a new light since the release of the Downing Street Memo.
Dissent From The Left
When I first read Michael Smith's May 29th Sunday Times article - linked to in a DKos diary by Welshman - which touched on the "spikes of activity" I was more than a little bit unimpressed. Right away, I noticed a mistake in the article and I posted a diary about it at Daily Kos that same night: "Time Out On The Sunday Times Story." I wrote:
"I don't want to get burnt because of crappy reporting but the numbers in the Sunday Times article that everyone is writing about do not compute."
Another Daily Kos diarist, leckavrea, agreed that there was "definitely something amiss."
But I've since learned that it was a misprint made by the Webmaster for Timesonline.com (which is responsible for posting The Sunday Times' articles) and not the fault of Michael Smith.
The phrase "a month" was accidently added to this sentence by the Timesonline Webmaster:
"However, between May 2002 and the second week in November, when the UN Security Council passed resolution 1441, which Goldsmith said made the war legal, British aircraft dropped 46 tons of bombs a month out of a total of 126.1 tons, or 36%."
According to a source, a correction should be made very shortly to the Website.
But I had other misgivings, as well. In the Daily Kos diary, I wrote:
"But the fact of the matter is that the bombings were going on for years...and that President Clinton did more than his share of bombing."
At the time, I hadn't found the House of Commons link to confirm Michael Smith's numbers and couldn't find a way to verify how many tons of bombs were dropped during President Clinton's last years in office. Again, from my Dkos diary:
"The best I could find was this article by Tariq Ali from October of 2000 in which he remarks on a statement by British Defence Minister Geoff Hoon which reads "Between 20 December 1998 and 17 May 2000, UK aircraft released 78 tons of ordnance over the southern no-fly zone, at an average of 5 tons per month."
"Tariq notes "In other words, over the past eighteen months the United States and United Kingdom have rained down some 400 tons of bombs and missiles on Iraq." But that is inaccurate, as well. The statement only referred to the southern no-fly zone: Operation Southern Watch. So if one assumes that the same amount of bombs were dropped in the northern no-fly zone, Operation Northern Watch, that would mean 800 tons of bombs were dropped in that 18 month period."
"Any way you figure it...there's no doubt that the number of bombings increased at the end of 2002, but I think it's wrong to run with this Sunday Times story since it's not very specific."
"I think this article is important in regards to Britain's escalation...but not ours."
(Since I wrote this diary, I've done some extensive research, and could pretty much assuredly say that I was way off on my guesstimation on how many tons were dropped in the northern no-fly zone.)
Downing Street Memo's georgia10 wrote a diary at Daily Kos on Sunday night in reaction to some similiar criticism: "In Response to "Who Cares"? - PreWar Bombing, etc." It was specifically directed at a comment left by Daily Kos diarist space on another DSM thread. Space mentioned four caveats that were ably countered by georgia10, and which I'm providing further evidence to back up.
First, space argued:
"Clinton was conducting similar bombing on a smaller scale. If this is the "smoking gun" then Clinton is guilt of war crimes as well, even if his smoking gun is of a smaller caliber."
"Clinton did NOT conduct similar bombing. The bombing conducted by the Bush adminstration was essentially unprovoked (subsequent self-defense by Iraq aside)."
One of the last significant military actions authorized by President George Herbert Walker Bush was a 100 airplane coalition assault, composed of American, British and French aircraft, "against Iraqi fixed air-defense and mobile missiles sites in southern Iraq" on January 13, 2003 (link). At a press briefing, U.S. Marine Corps General Joseph Hoar, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command, told the press that "the mission was prompted by Iraq's rebuff of a January 6 demarche by Russia, France, the United Kingdom and the United States to remove its surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites from below the 32nd parallel and to stop violating the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq." Over the next seven days, smaller strikes followed.
Until U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 was passed on November 6th, 2002, the phrase "no-fly zone" never was explicitly mentioned in any of the prior resolutions that pertained to Iraq. But the last three Administrations have looked to resolutions 687 and 688 as giving them proper authorization.
This is taken from the summer 1994 Joint Force Quarterly magazine (pdf link):
"Joint Task Force Southwest Asia (JTF–SWA) was formed in August 1992 to conduct Operation Southern Watch in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolutions 687 and 688. JTF–SWA is often associated with enforcing the no-fly zone below the 32 d parallel in Iraq under resolution 688 which calls for the fair treatment of Iraqi minorities, including Shias in the marshes, and a no-fly zone to monitor Iraq’s compliance. But equally significant has been resolution 687 with its provisions on weapons of mass destruction, where JTF–SWA planned and, if directed, would conduct a campaign against Iraqi targets as a means of compelling compliance."
Not long after, the French dropped out of the coalition in disagreement with the legality of the no-fly zones.
The first significant airstrikes executed at the command of President Clinton occured in June of 1993; a direct retaliation in response to an attempted plot to kill former President George Herbert Walker Bush in April of that same year. From GlobalSecurity.org:
"Commencing at approximately 4:22 p.m. (EST) on 26 June 1993 US naval forces launched a Tomahawk cruise missile strike on the Iraqi Intelligence Service's (IIS) principal command and control complex in Baghdad. This facility is the headquarters for the IIS, which planned the failed attempt to assassinate former President Bush during his visit to Kuwait in April 1993. This US military action was completed upon impact of the missiles on target at approximately 6 p.m. (EST)."
Georgia10 also linked to a press briefing given by President Clinton three days later on June 29, 1993, in which he explained:
"I would remind you that the action I took was in response to an operation that involved a bomb that, had it exploded in downtown Kuwait City, had a 400-yard radius of lethal destruction. So, I think it was the appropriate thing to do."
Except for a military buildup in October of 1994 when Iraq seemed set to assault Kuwait before withdrawing its forces, it wasn't until September 6, 1996 that Clinton ordered another significant airstrike. Operation Desert Strike was launched after "elements of the Iraqi army attacked and captured the town of Irbil in the Kurdish autonomous region of northern Iraq" seven days earlier (link). 44 Tomahawks and 12 cruise missiles were launched against Iraqi military targets and, afterwards, the southern no-fly zone was extended from the 32nd to the 33rd parallel and it now included parts of southern Baghdad.
Aside from some continued controversy surrounding the legality of the no-fly zones, there really isn't question that the major bombing raids that took place during Clinton's first five years in office were undertaken as defensive measures, as opposed to the more offensive attacks that President George W. Bush later ordered.
But in 1998, the case wan't so clear-cut.
In an interview with Michael Smith published on June 27th, the Downing Street Memo bloggers asked him about the difference between the bombings under Bush and Clinton (link):
"Q: Some are equating the Bush administration's bombing in 2002 with the air strikes launched against Iraq under the Clinton administration. Is there any real difference? If so, what makes one more legal (or illegal) than the other?"
"A: The Desert Fox operation was launched by Clinton and Blair in December 1998 to punish Iraq for forcing out the weapons inspectors. Thereafter Iraqi air defences were attacked whenever the allies came under attack. The legality of this is disputed but the Foreign Office legal advice makes clear that both Britain and the US believed it to be legal. The period between December 1998 and May 2002 saw more bombs dropped than had been dropped before Desert Fox but nowhere near as many bombs as were dropped from May 2002 to the start of the war, or should I say the official start of the war. While what was going on between December 1998 and May 2002 was borderline legal. Spikes of activity to put pressure on the regime is illegal plain and simple. They were there to protect the ethnic minorities by preventing Iraqi aircraft overflying the areas inhabited by those minorities under UNSCR 688. That was not an Article VII resolution, which is the only type of UN resolution that allows for the use of military force to enforce it and the no-fly zones were certainly not put there to put pressure on the regime, for which read provoking the regime into giving the allies an excuse for war."
more to come...developing, as they say...
(hat tip to luke of wotisitgood4 for alerting me to the LA Times op-ed yesterday)
(Acknowledgements: Thanks to David Anderson of ISOU, Peter Daou of The Daou Report, After Downing Street's David Swanson here and here, Ryan Fenno at The Liberal Avenger, tcf at ThatColoredFellasweblog, The Heretik, Tas at Loaded Mouth, Roxanne Cooper at Rox Populi, Jude Nagurney Camwell at Iddybud , Shakespeare's Sister, Agitprop, Jay Rosen at Press Think, Luke at wotisitgood4, ~A! at Watching The Watchers, and Greg Beato at Wonkette for linking to this story. Also, Apian has a wonderful diary at Daily Kos which also links to this post - MSM WTF? dKos & RAWSTORY on "SPIKES OF ACTIVITY" - and is crossposted at The Booman Tribune. Thanks to Buzzflash, too, for linking to me under the title: "The Importance of the Downing Street Memo Reconfirmed.")
(If you have a blog...I'd appreciate a link...but if not...please, at least, go to the House of Commons Website linked above and post the charts that I did. This story needs to come out.)