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Watching the Petraeus report, I was dismayed by the insolence of the leading republican on the committee from California.

He brought up every negative he could find to lay out in front of Petraeus’s  on national TV.  Hat’s off to Petraeus.  Only his eyes showed his outrage at being dis’d by this representative of the  republican party.

Such top shelf Republicans have no morals.

There is a time an place for everything.  But going to extreme efforts, to dig up someone’s septic tank, transport his shit, and dump it at his feet in the sanctity of the halls of Congress, oversteps the line.

Republicans are a disease upon America’s values.  Of course shit happens.  But good taste decries that one does not play with it in public.

Daily Kos and Tommywonk featured excerpts from Dr. Goldsmiths upcoming book, The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration.

Defender of the Constitution Despite Cheney's Tirades!!!

Before Goldsmiths arrival, things were much shadier. “Goldsmith claims that Addington (Vice President’s Legal Counsel) and other top officials treated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act the same way they handled other laws they objected to: “They blew through them in secret based on flimsy legal opinions that they guarded closely so no one could question the legal basis for the operations,” he writes. Goldsmith’s first experienced this extraordinary concealment, or “strict compartmentalization,” in late 2003 when, he recalls, Addington angrily denied a request by the N.S.A.’s inspector general to see a copy of the Office of Legal Counsel’s legal analysis supporting the secret surveillance program. “Before I arrived in O.L.C., not even N.S.A. lawyers were allowed to see the Justice Department’s legal analysis of what N.S.A. was doing,” Goldsmith writes.

“By shielding its legal theories under a cloak of secrecy, the Administration hoped to insulate their radical positions from any form of review. Just as the Administration is attempting to use the ‘state secret privilege’ to stop any court from reviewing or ruling upon its domestic surveillance, it used “strict compartmentalization” to prevent internal review. The reason is simple, if Machiavellian: If one can prevent dissenters from access to the legal theories, it is that much easier to dismiss their concerns. If one can stop courts from ruling, there’s no one to say you were wrong.”
(Expect the book out on September 17th. It is a fitting day…..being the last day Gonzales is in office………)

This is the process of closed government in action, proving that there needs to be more transparency in all branches of government. Power corrupts absolutely, unless of course, everybody is watching. Power independent of party ideology will continue to function the same as long as secrecy is allowed.

It doesn’t matter if the party is democrat or republican. It matters not whether it is in the highest reaches of government, or in our levy courts and county councils. FOIA needs to be applied to all government agencies to prevent abuses such as the above.

Government in this nation is a function of its people. It is nothing but a tool. How many of us would trust a plumber who charged us $3000 to work with tools we could not see?

You can harp on this administration, if you want, but the real issue is more than symptomatic. The real issue is that our Constitution has been hijacked by both Dick Cheney and Thurman Adams…………..

Transparency is the key.

During a symposium exploring the new wiretapping and surveillance policies, the members on the panel kept saying how the issue was so new, and that they were waiting for the executive branch to “set up the ground rules, outline the parameters, and define the issues”. This panel included congressional staffers who wondered aloud what the president would allow them to discuss.

Sitting on the panel was a old, cankerous former congressmen, who had served during the late seventies. He interrupted the conversation- going- nowhere, with this: “First of all, I would like to make this quite plain:………that under the Constitution, Congress does not require the president’s permission to do anything……”

That comment struck me like a bolt of wisdom. Because currently the opposite seems to be true…….and in a nutshell,…….. that explains what’s been wrong with Congress under both parties’ control.

The president is only the chief of state;  he is not the chief of government.

color enhanced copy of b/w picture in released documents

“This surveillance system lets FBI agents play back recordings even as they are being captured (like TiVo), create master wiretap files, send digital recordings to translators, track the rough location of targets in real time using cell-tower information, and even stream intercepts outward to mobile surveillance vans.

FBI wiretapping rooms in field offices and undercover locations around the country are connected through a private, encrypted backbone that is separated from the internet. Sprint runs it on the government’s behalf.”

Documents recently released to the EFF’s FOIA, suggest that the FBI’s wiretapping engineers have succeeded in tapping into our standard digital communication’s systems. As Randy Single writes in Wired, the FBI has quietly built a sophisticated, point-and-click surveillance system that performs instant wiretaps on almost any communications device, according to nearly a thousand pages of restricted documents newly released under the Freedom of Information Act. The redacted documentation leaves many questions, however. In particular, it’s unclear what role the carriers have in opening up a tap, and how that process is secured.

“The real question is the switch architecture on cell networks,” said Matt Blaze, a security researcher at the University of Pennsylvania . “What’s the carrier side look like?

Randy Cadenhead, the privacy counsel for Cox Communications, which offers VOIP phone service and internet access, says the FBI has no independent access to his company’s switches.

“Nothing ever gets connected or disconnected until I say so, based upon a court order in our hands,” Cadenhead says. “We run the interception process off of my desk, and we track them coming in. We give instructions to relevant field people who allow for interconnection and to make verbal connections with technical representatives at the FBI.”

The nation’s largest cell-phone providers — whose customers are targeted in the majority of wiretaps — were less forthcoming. AT&T politely declined to comment, while Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon simply ignored requests for comment.

FBI Agent DiClemente, however, seconded Cadenhead’s description.

“The carriers have complete control. That’s consistent with CALEA,” DiClemente said. “The carriers have legal teams to read the order, and they have procedures in place to review the court orders, and they also verify the information and that the target is one of their subscribers.”

Despite its ease of use, the new technology is proving more expensive than a traditional wiretap. Telecoms charge the government an average of $2,200 for a 30-day CALEA wiretap, while a traditional intercept costs only $250, according to the Justice Department inspector general. A federal wiretap order in 2006 cost taxpayers $67,000 on average, according to the most recent U.S. Court wiretap report.

To security experts, though, the biggest concern over DCSNet isn’t the cost: It’s the possibility that push-button wiretapping opens new security holes in the telecommunications network.

Documents show that an internal 2003 audit uncovered numerous security vulnerabilities in DCSNet. In this internal audit, (pg 61/112pdf), commenced after discovering that no security audit had been concluded for four years, pointed out some very basic security breeches. Some were the direct results of budget cuts, such as limiting technical staff. Others were the result of putting high tech toys in front of those too green to understand the full implications…..The security assessment titled Operation Mayday, uncovered this nugget. Problem:

“Zipdrive attached to FBINet machine.


Recommended Action: Complete Trilogy User training. Remind users not to attach unauthorized devices to network. Remind users not to install unauthorized software. Treat future instances as security violations and report through appropriate channels with increasingly severe penalties for
repeat violations.

Remember, this accesses all your bank documents as well as your deepest, intimate conversations…..which due to lack of oversight over the past four years, if cached, is now open forever to the world……Other samples of Katrina-like misconduct or ineptitude: Problem:

Outdated or no disk encryption on laptop
computers.


Recommended Action: Install PointSec on all machines unless excepted. Provide written justification to SecD for consideration of any exceptions.


Problem-: Baton Rouge RA, CART laptop has no disk encryption.

Also in the report:

1. There is no anti-viral software loaded on the DCS-3000 machines. If malicious
code, viruses, and/or executables are introduced, there will be potential for risk to the system or compromise of data, thereby compromising evidence contained therein.


Current Status:
• Verified Closed: McAfee 4.5.1 installed with Virus updated 05/05/2006

Current Status:
• Verified Closed: Passwords require eight characters, complex etc.

3. Successive failed logon attempt lockout is not enabled. Without a lockout policy,
an unauthorized user would have infinite attempts to gain access to the system.


Current Status:
• Verified Closed: Accounts lock out after three attempts and must be reset by
admin.

5. Workstations associated with the system do not enforce adequate user permissions. Improperly configured machines do not adhere to the least privilege principle. This practice could potentially give a user access and rights not warranted for by their position.

In particular, the DCS-3000 machines lacked adequate logging, had insufficient password management, were missing antivirus software, allowed unlimited numbers of incorrect passwords without locking the machine, and used shared logins rather than individual accounts.

The system also required that DCS-3000’s user accounts have administrative privileges in Windows, which would allow a hacker who got into the machine to gain complete control.

WTF?

The flaws are appalling and show that the FBI fails to appreciate the risk from insiders. The system is insecure, essentially because the people who designed it and run it have an insecure attitude about the nature of threats to the system. Outsiders may be stopped by VPNs, firewalls, etc., but insiders may wander around the system nearly at will. Not so different from the situation that set up the Vodaphone/Greece fiasco.

As Steve Bellovin from Columbia points out:

“Instead of personal userids, the FBI relies on log sheets. This may provide sufficient accountability if everyone follows the rules. It provides no protection against rule-breakers. It is worth noting that Robert Hanssen obtained much of the information he sold to the Soviets by exploiting weak permission mechanisms in the FBI’s Automated Case System. The DCS-3000 system doesn’t have proper password security mechanisms, either, which brings up another point: why does a high-security system use passwords at all? We’ve know for years how weak they are. Why not use smart cards for authentication?”

Any wiretap system faces a slew of risks, such as surveillance targets discovering a tap, or an outsider or corrupt insider setting up unauthorized taps. Moreover, the architectural changes to accommodate easy surveillance on phone switches and the internet can in itself, introduce new and frightfully dangerous security and privacy holes.

So where does our safety lie? In a bill of goods sold to us and to Congress in order to protect us from “phantom” terrorists, we have allowed anyone and everyone to compromise our personal privacy. Most particularly, those very ones we trusted to defend us from our enemies………

WTF?photo by SUCHAT PEDERSON, News Journal

Occasionally something that you looked at many times, but have never seen, suddenly jumps out and changes your whole perspective. For example, I had always thought that as far as the Revolutionary War went, Delaware’s only claim to fame was that the new flag was first flown in battle on Delaware’s soil…….

Not so! Two hundred thirty years ago today, things were really jumping in these parts. It may seem like a long time ago to most of us, but in reality it is only a string of three ten year olds who each knew someone who was ninety. In the vernacular, that means that most of us know someone, who themselves knew someone who actually had spoken to someone, who was alive during the Revolutionary War!…… Whoa…….

August 25, 1777 close to 300 ships sailed up the Chesapeake Bay, anchored off off Elk Neck, Maryland, and began disembarking. That has been called the largest fleet ever assembled off any of the America’s coasts. To put that number into perspective, the famous Spanish Armada, consisted of a meager 130 Spanish ships. The most-oft talked about Battle of Trafalger, consisted of a combined total of some 60 ships. Modern historians can get a perspective by comparing those 300 ships to the 700 off of Dunkirk or the 900 off of Normandy…….

It must have been quite a sight to stand on the top Iron Hill and see over 300 tall masts sailing to defeat you. And on board those ships, were 15,000 solders disembarking to begin marching towards your capital city….Thats the total number of women estimated to be in Newark in 1998.

Were we living 230 years ago, we would all be on edge. Anticipating a major battle on Delaware soil, 11,000 continental troops were moved into Delaware and bivouacked at what used to be known as Red Mill Neck, and now is near the Marshalltown bridge over top of Red Clay Creek.

The British moved in steps, out of Elkton to Gray’s hill, then up the road to Newark. One account said their line stretched from Glasgow to the bridge across the Christiana, where the I 95 and 896 interchange is today. They marched through the village of Newark, and then advanced parallel to today’s Kirkwood highway and camped at Milltown, just two miles from the American Camp in Newport. For one day, they stared each other down. The potential existed for a pitched battle to have occurred on Delaware soil. When no attempt was made by the British, Washington got scared that he was to be flanked to the north. Had General Howe chosen to do so, Washington and the Continental Army would have suffered a catastrophic defeat. At 2 am, the Continentals forced marched north to Chadd’s Ford, thereby occupying the high ground, and then on the following day, occurred the Battle of the Brandywine, the second to last major battle to be fought by Washington until Yorktown, four years latter.

Just a small footnote:  it was in Delaware  where General Pulaski, from Poland, met Washington while in Wilmington and was placed in charge of developing the calvary.

Although only a small skirmish actually occurred in this small state, with just a few things happening differently, a major conflagration could have happened that could have ended the war for the Americans.

Needless to say, it was relatively scary “in these parts” just 11 score and ten years ago.

Gestapo Dick in Charge of Intelligence

Cheney allowed civilian wiretaps before 9/11. What? Wasn’t that illegal? Apparently that was overridden by the Vice President.

Wait a minute. Didn’t the NSA have apparatus that listened for various words such as “Jihad” or “terrorist”? Yes, it did, but as soon as that was discovered to be coming from an American, the tap was dropped and the name of the person was expunged. The NSA was following the letter of the law…….

In fact, as the Bush administration was coming in, the Clinton administration, in their freshman orientation guide for incoming republicans, said in their packet Transition 2001. “Warning to the incoming administration: the agency in its quest to compete on a technological level with terrorists who have access to state-of-the-art equipment, some American citizens would get caught up in the NSA’s surveillance activities. However, in those instances, the identities of the Americans who made telephone calls overseas would be “minimized,” one former NSA official said, in order to conceal the identity of the American citizen picked up on a wiretap.”

Or so was the intent. “What we were supposed to do, was delete the name of the person,” says a former NSA encryption analyst. “Even during the Clinton years, the computers would accidentally pick up some of the key words said by Americans.” The analyst deleted those name in the reports he sent the senior analysts.

That changed in 2001. Under orders by Cheney the names were included. Furthermore, Cheney sent back orders that those persons were to continue to be surveilled 24/7. What disturbed this analyst was that some or most of these terrorists he was ordered to listen to, worked in the White House or State Department.

In a revealing statement, another analyst says: “There was a real feeling or paranoia emanating from the Vice President’s Office, and I don’t think it had to do with anything with the threat of terrorism……”

According to James Bamford, author of the best selling books The Puzzle Palace and The Body of Secrets, before 9/11 the agency was not poking as hard among regular citizens as it does now. That all changed after 9/11. However a strong case for selective spying on government officials, seems to be the focus of the Vice President during the summer before 9/11.

If you remember it was that summer(2001) that the NSA took the unprecedented step or opening its doors to reporters. The director even said on Nightline : ”

“We’re a foreign intelligence agency. We try to collect information that is of value to American decision-makers, to protect American values, America–and American lives.”

American values? Isn’t that one of the code words used by the neo-cons? American values such as the destruction of the social net, establishment of an untouchable rich caste, and the wearing down of our Armed Services through unnecessary deployments?

But in answer to that question: he continues:

“We aren’t off the leash, so to speak, guarding ourselves. We have a body of oversight within the executive branch, in the Department of Defense, in the president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, which is comprised of both government and nongovernmental officials. You’ve got both houses of Congress with–with very active–in some cases, aggressive–intelligence oversight committees with staff members who have an access badge to NSA just like mine.”

(Hasn’t that all changed, as of August 11th?)

Today that spokesperson is head of the CIA.

So while the official voice who I believe is still today trustworthy and genuine, was speaking still on the Clinton platform of government within the law, his superior. the VP, was going behind his back to wiretap illegally.

Final thought: remember when Paul O’Neil left the administration fuming and 24 hour later 180’d and clammed up? Inner beltway speculation was that they got to him somehow.

We now know how…………………

Bottom line, before there was a war……there was an illegal act instigated by the Vice President…….Are we safer than we were under Clinton?

“I see nothing…….nothing!….”A White House Staffers Most Oft Repeated Phrase

Frank Church Quotes
“At the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such [is] the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.

“If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology…

“I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

Where’s a real patriot when you need one?

This was resurrected in part due to this article from the Wall Street Journal

In brief, the decision, made three months ago by Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell, places for the first time some of the U.S.’s most powerful intelligence-gathering tools at the disposal of domestic security officials. The move was authorized in a May 25 memo sent to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff asking his department to facilitate access to the spy network on behalf of civilian agencies and law enforcement.The U.S.’s top intelligence official has greatly expanded the range of federal and local authorities who can get access to information from the nation’s vast network of spy satellites in the U.S.

In recent years, some military experts have questioned whether domestic use of such satellites would violate the Posse Comitatus Act. The act bars the military from engaging in law-enforcement activity inside the U.S., and the satellites were predominantly built for and owned by the Defense Department.

Access to the satellite surveillance will be controlled by a new Homeland Security branch — the National Applications Office — which will be up and running in October.

“You are talking about enormous power,” said Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel and director of the Project on Freedom, Security and Technology for the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit group advocating privacy rights in the digital age. “Not only is the surveillance they are contemplating intrusive and omnipresent, it’s also invisible. And that’s what makes this so dangerous.”

Whether coincidental or happenstance, the local blog scene has become mysteriously quiet since the signing of the wiretap law just before last weekend. Only Jason has defied the danger, and out of professional courtesy, I do not think he should face MR. CHENEY alone.

In one of my comments on another forum, I was (politely) told that I did not know what I was talking about when I was discussing wiretapping. Although I knew a lot from sources close to the business, after my weekend research on today’s methods (post internet), I came to the conclusion that they were right. I really did not know what was going on………..

No one is talking facts, making it doubly hard to investigate. Based on information culled strictly from the public domain, here is what I could find so far.

Granted the old wiretapping descriptions were out of date. As fiber optics invaded America, switches were placed at all network hubs, allowing for the passing of all information through the government’s hands during it’s journey en route from sender to recipient. These hubs were all on American soil, and therefore, under the old laws, required some type of oversight by FISA or another court, to issue a “wiretap” or other intelligence gathering device.

Had we suspected that a Saudi Arabian national, withdrawing money from an ATM in South Portland, Maine, just up the street from the Mobil station right there at the exit off 95, was about to commit a dastardly act that would change the future of this country forever, getting court approval in real time, would be difficult, if not impossible.

As Bonner “leaked” on national television, (where’s the outrage? Oh, he’s republican) a federal judge had declared such practices illegal. Why? Was he too, one of “them” liberals? No he just decided that the propensity for the system’s misuse, far outweighed it’s gain to society.

What could be more important than saving American lives?

That is a good question and needs a lengthy answer…. American lives are important…..In fact, the primary reason that most Americans are against Cheney’s Trillion $ war going on today, is that they feel it is squandering lives……American lives. But whenever lives are being sacrificed for a real purpose, Americans feel much differently, as polls taken during the Afghanistan campaign readily show…….

So there must be something hidden that is so controversial or so big, that Americans place a higher value on it, than they do saving lives. One questions, what could that be?

William Wallace says it best in “Braveheart“: Freedom!

I can see everyones eyebrows raise. Are we jumping the gun here? What reasonable person could expect an elected official of the United States government to spy on, control, and imprison their own citizens?

Apparently that is the fear that most Americans share. It is for that reason alone why everything must be kept secret and hidden from public scrutiny. For within this administration, everyone is scared to death that the public will someday find out……..

If you are hearing this for the first time, as I did last Saturday, it shows that their clamp on this intelligence and information about this story is working. But across the web and in various newspapers, are enough leads that put this picture in perspective.

Here is what we know. The technology out there is equal to what is available on most PC’s today. It is just the size and scale that blows everyone’s mind. Apparently everything that is ever said, written, posted, e-mailed, filmed, in the entire world, is being saved. Most of this will never be touched. We know this capacity exists: for how often has a commercial enterprise solicited us due to a pattern detected based on our personal trends? And how often have we football watchers been correctly told, based on probability, just where the quarterback is going to throw the ball, and guess where he then throws it to?

This coupling of voice recognition, the entire library of data, and a massive scale of sorting computer software all together under one roof, leads to a profile on every single American citizen at the touch of a button.

If we elected saints as our political saviors, we wouldn’t care. Sure, find the bad guys; just leave the good guys alone. But unfortunately instead of saints, we chose to elect republicans who we have found can be trusted far less than God, as our coins and old bank building in Millsboro, so declare is our intention. Our founding fathers were quite lividly adamant that any government should NOT have unlimited powers of search and seizure. So with today’s technology, our family jewels are safe within our home, but our private thoughts and conversations are not……..

So what is wrong with listening in on private conversations…….I do nothing wrong……and I’ve got nothing to hide……listen all you want, damn it….. That is the defense we hear from right wing nuts whenever they defend this invasion of anyone’s privacy. To stupid people that may make sense. But it only takes a small amount of intelligence to realize how readily that ability can be abused.

Tom Carper, along with many democrats voted for the unlimited use of this technology, done legally at the discretion of the Executive branch itself with no one watching…..This is the same guy who once took great effort to dress up as Commodore McDonough and speak to little school kids about the greatness of this country……Can anyone reasonably expect that such a cognitive switch which jumps away from America’s true ideals to those of a totalitarian state, was NOT coerced by some type of blackmail?

What dirt do they know on Tom Carper? He should count his blessings…..for he is one of the lucky ones. Were he squeaky clean, he could have shared the same fate as Tim Johnson…..or Jon Corzine…..or Paul Wellstone. Speculation to be sure, but it goes to show to those who implicitly trust their leaders, just what can happen when government is given the free hand to spy on their citizens.

But let’s take a more realistic example. One that occurs worldwide today. Over at Delaware Liberal there is a lot of anger focused on the current administration. That blog has become a better source of news than delawareonline, or its printed companion, the News Journal. Of course if you want obituaries, you should still buy the paper. But major news stories are broken day’s ahead of the controlled media, and create firestorms of public opinion that are detrimental to the establishment of the Cheney ideals, which are even occasionally sponsored in part by the republican party.

So how to stop it? This might work. An anon post describing some to the conversations that took place last February could just be enough. It would take a strong Hillary at one’s side to say that did not create any problems. And where would those conversations come from? Apparently they are stored, right now, along with those of every reader, pulled at will with a couple of keystrokes next to your name………..

Yes this technology can corral terrorists…..but it can also be used to know what Biden will say in the next debate, who sold Obama his cocaine when he was young, and whether Hillary is or is not returning the favor her husband gave her during the previous scandal. It can be used to silence witnesses: find and expose whistle blowers, thereby killing them. It can be used to publicize a politician’s health problems, say erectile dysfunction, or blackmail those who don’t ask, and don’t tell.

It can be used to find which of an opponents supporters are “still on the fence” and get to them first. Why do you think Karl Rove resigned the first business day just after the law was passed? Being good for six months, this ability to eavesdrop on each and every Democratic or republican candidate will, unlike Watergate, be legal to well after all the big primaries have all been settled.

Lawsuits against reporters who won’t reveal their sources? A thing of the past, for this law now makes all those irrelevant. There are going to be a lot of dead people turning up soon.

This power can be used in political appointments to insure that only a “yes sir…as you wish sir”…mentality becomes firmly entrenched within the decision making process of our executive branch, and all previously conflicting conversations that have so far kept our country from driving over a cliff, become no more…..

It can also make average citizen afraid to write criticisms such as this…..never to be heard again. Based on what I have seen so far, Jason turned out to be the only one with a “Bravehart” enough to continue….. (my apologies if I missed someone). Yeah…..it affected me. (Call me Robert Bruce.) But like Nathan Hale, before me, I too now decide to walk up to the gallows, put the noose around my neck, and plainly speak my words of wisdom, which hopefully will far outweigh anything I could have done to help this nation, had I cowered and remained silent…………………..

Beauty in the Beast
While our focus has been on impeachment, the US is gearing up for what may be the beginning of the final war of Armageddon. Despite sounding like a generous dish of hyperbole, there are some reported points of view that this administration is hell bent on maintaining control over its Evangelical base by orchestrating a WWIII that originates in the Middle East. Not only will it originate in the Middle East, mind you, but in the very location of the Garden of Eden itself. That should provide a convenient full circle…………

We should be concerned because no one talks about it, for just in its concept, it is way too bizarre of a belief to be taken seriously. Historically it can be compared to the outlandish inner sanctum whispers in and around the Third Reich during the late 30’s, “psst…..there are rumors that he plans to exterminate every one of them that is alive today in Europe.”

For if the above ridiculous assertion were to be proven true, then perhaps we could then have at least some motive as to why the middle administration officials are stymied and blocked from making real progress, while the captains of the Titanic, retire to their quarters after ordering a “full steam ahead.”

The Titanic actually provides a very good metaphor for this administration. Everyone on deck can see a collision is eminent. Meanwhile those unconcerned drink and dance in the staterooms below. Those in charge, the senior officials under the sway of the republican mantra, prance around completely unworried about real events even as their administration unravels around them?

So how does the end of the world pan out? It starts with our support for Turkey’s elimination of the PKK, the Kurdish terrorist organization that has been responsible for 35,000 Turkish deaths since its beginning in 1984.

Common knowledge says that Green Berets, CIA, or both have already been inserted into the Kurdistan region and are now actively pursuing “intel” on the 3500 of the estimated PKK guerrillas living near the Turkish-Iranian border region.

The first question to pop up is this: why would we invest more time and money to suppress the Kurds who were the most supportive of our Iraqi adventure, and who controlled the most stable of those three regions of Iraq? Why?

First, for the Cheney opponents, the regional Kurdish government has NOT been supportive of the Bush/Cheney Oil grab. They have independently made two oil deals themselves(with Norway and Turkey even) that have NOT been sanctioned by the US provisional government’s Iraqi parliament. Kurdistan will stand to make a much larger percentage off of the profits from each well, then would any of other provinces if the Iraqi HydroCarbons Act, the Oil bill, ever gets passed.

By bringing hostilities into an area previously tame by comparison to say, the Sunni province, we are effectively using the military to put a hold on any oil deal previously made, even if we were ineffective in stopping it politically. As long as there are hostilities occurring in that region, no oil company can capitalize on its contract,and rush in and invest, no matter how lucrative the oil revenues might be………

Armageddon in the Garden of Eden

Another difficulty for the US position, is that the Kurds tend to provide the most reliable units in the reformed Iraqi national army. The Kurdish section of the local police bureau has taken part in recent counter-terrorism operations in Baghdad and other parts of the country that are dominated by Sunni or Shiite political factions. To have the US either sponsor or carry out attacks on Kurds within the Kurd’s homeland, could alienate our staunchest domestic ally, right there in Iraq.

Another interesting development is the new alignment occurring as we speak within the Middle East that is occurring as a direct result of US military involvement in Iraq. Turkey as alway been considered as one of our staunchest allies ever since the advent of the cold war……Iran has been considered one of our most vilified enemies ever since the fall of the Shah. But currently Turkey and Iran are working together to eliminate the PKK in the US controlled northern Iraq.

What? Screech. Halt. Bang. Crash………

Turkey and Iran have quietly worked out a reciprocal security arrangement, whereby Iran’s military will engage Kurdish separatists whenever encountered, in exchange for Turkey’s cooperation against the Iranian Mujahideen-e-Khalq movement (MEK), a well-armed and cult-like opposition group that previously found refuge in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Both Iranian officials and Turkey’s prime minister have alluded to “mechanisms” (likely to involve intelligence-sharing) already in place to deal with security issues of mutual interest. Neither Turkey nor Iran has any desire to see an independent Kurdish state established in northern Iraq. For the moment, Turkey’s cooperation with Iran is achieving better results than its frustrating inability to persuade the United States to help eliminate a designated terrorist group in northern Iraq.

Stock footage of a future war zone?

In a recent interview, Erdogan vowed that Turkey would not allow attacks on its neighbors from its territory, adding, in an obvious allusion to Iran, that all countries had a right to pursue the development of a peaceful nuclear energy program (Milliyet, March 12).

One can remember the reports that Israel and the U.S. Department of Defense were providing clandestine support to Kurdish PJAK “terrorists,” operating in the northwestern Iranian border region, questioning the usefulness of such a policy in countering Iran’s nuclear ambitions or destabilizing the country in advance of a military strike. Since then, there have been further allegations that the CIA is using its classified budget to support terrorist operations by disaffected members of Iran’s ethnic minorities, including Azeris, Baloch, Kurds and Arabs (Sunday Telegraph, February 25).

Iran may be expected to continue aggressive military operations against Kurdish militants to keep its border region secure in a politically volatile period, while continuing to demonstrate to Turkey its usefulness as a security partner in contrast to U.S. reluctance to undertake anti-Kurdish military activities. U.S. intervention in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region could create a new wave of destabilization in Iraq, as well as diverting U.S. resources from a confrontation with Iran (a result no doubt desired by Tehran).

A Turkish incursion will likely have limited scope and objectives, although it will likely include at least two divisions (20,000 men each) with support units. The last major cross-border operation 10 years ago involved 40,000 Turkish troops. With the greater distance to PKK bases at Mount Qandil from the Turkish border, a first wave of helicopter-borne assault troops might follow strikes by the Turkish Air Force. An assault on Mount Qandil will prove difficult even without opposition from Iraqi Kurdish forces. More ambitious plans are likely to have been drawn up by Turkish staff planners for a major multi-division offensive as far south as Kirkuk if such an operation is deemed necessary.

A Turkish newspaper has reported that General Ralston has already negotiated a deal with the KRG to permit a Turkish attack on Mount Qandil in April (Zaman, March 25).

Conclusion

While tensions peak on the border, the time has in many ways never been better for a resolution to the Turkish-Kurdish conflict. From captivity, Abdullah Ocalan appears ready to concede Turkey’s territorial unity in exchange for stronger local governments. He recently stated, “The problems of Turkey’s Kurds can only be solved under a unitary structure. This is why Turkey’s Kurds should look to Ankara and nowhere else for a solution” (Zaman, March 26). Turkish investment in northern Iraq is far preferable to having Turkish tanks and artillery massed menacingly along the border. If the KRG was intending to keep the PKK as a card to use in coercing Turkish support for Kurdish autonomy, it may be time to play it. PKK morale is low and prolonged inactivity under the aging leadership will ultimately send many fighters back to their villages. The movement is hardly in a position to mount an effective offensive. Without state sponsorship, the PKK is poorly armed and supplied. The KRG’s limited hospitality is hardly a replacement for Syrian patronage. Massoud Barzani has urged face-to-face talks on the PKK problem with Turkish leaders, who have also recently indicated openness to discussion (NTV, February 26). Turkey’s continuing conflict with the Kurds in turn,jeopardizes its candidacy for European Union membership. With the possibility of full-scale Turkish military operations beginning in northern Iraq in the coming weeks, both U.S. and Turkish strategists must realize that any clash between the Turkish military and U.S.-supported Iraqi Kurds who back their PKK brethren, is a political disaster in waiting.

Whereas common sense says to stand down, and wait for possible provocation, the Cheney arm of the Bush administration has pushed for a full steam ahead affront on the Kurdish guerrillas. The Turkish troops are there, at least in Cheney’s eyes, to intimidate the Kurds to support the Hydrocarbon Oil deal.

“Look you Kurds. If you don’t stand behind my oil bill you won’t have an semiautonomous region to call your home. You will be under Turkish control! Got it?”

Why the flames are being fanned, and why the administration stands by with cans of gasoline, they are not saying. However to most rational people, this oil piece of the puzzle offers some sincere motive behind the otherwise insane mechanizations of this administration.

To others; those whose defections most worry this administration, these actions double as proving that the Armageddon’s scenario is taking shape.