Friday, August 31, 2007


Hoffa: Mexican trucks are disaster for U.S.
'This is a conspiracy of big business. They want to erase the borders'

Posted: August 31, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2007

A test program being launched by the Bush Administration to allow what could be thousands of Mexican trucks and their drivers unrestricted access to U.S. highways will be a "disaster," according to the chief of the Teamsters.

James Hoffa, whose union is working in court to halt the scheduled launch of the trucking test program this weekend, told G. Gordon Liddy on his radio talk show that the Mexican trucks and drivers will endanger U.S. lives, damage U.S. jobs, pollute the U.S. environment and benefit no one but big business.

"They want to make it so there's no regulation. You get in your truck in Monterey, Mexico, and drive to Montreal. You'd have to be on speed to do it," Hoffa said.

He said corporate interests have decided, "We're going to run 'em to death so we can make more money."

"That's that this is about," he told Liddy.

WND began reporting on the plan months ago, and has documented the growing opposition to the plan, which many blame on the 2005 Security and Prosperity Partnership signed by President Bush and the leaders of Mexico and Canada.

Supporters say that plan is a way to smooth the regulations so business flows more easily between the nations of North America, opponents consider it another step in a not-so-veiled attempt to set up a merger of the three nations.

Hoffa said right now the unregulated and often-unmonitored trucks from Mexico are contained to a zone along the border where they are allowed to be. The test plan set up by the government would erase that limit.

"All we're asking is that Mexican trucks and truckers meet the same standards as American trucks and drivers," Hoffa said. He cited the requirements in the United States for commercial drivers' licenses, drug screening, physical evaluations, hazmat certifications, etc.

"It's a whole process to make sure he's a safe driver," he said. But in Mexico, there are no databases of drivers with a history of recklessness and arrest, or even drug testing facilities, he said.

"And can you believe they're doing this on Labor Day?" he said, calling it a slap in the face to American workers.

Also significant is the concern over national security, he said. There isn't any way to adequately monitor the individual vehicles that will be representing the 100 Mexican trucking corporations expected to be involved in the program, he said.

"This is kind of a conspiracy of big business," Hoffa warned, to create a scenario where there are no minimum wage limits and no requirements for safety.

"They basically want to erase all the borders. This is big business that wants to be able to run stuff out of Mexico, which is much cheaper, into Canada and into the United States," he said. "All of this is being greased right now by big business."

Joining the Teamsters in the legal challenge to the program were the Sierra Club and Public Citizen.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Has Bush Boxed Himself In?

by Patrick J. Buchanan

As Americans anguish over how to extricate this country from Iraq without a disaster greater than what we now have, and without our friends suffering the fate of our friends in Cambodia and Vietnam, they had best brace themselves. This escalator is going up.

George Bush and his generals are laying out the case for a new war. And there has been no resistance offered either by a vacationing Congress or the major presidential candidates.

On CNN's "Late Edition" Sunday, Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, No. 2 commander in Iraq, said, "It is clear to me that (the Iranians) have been stepping up their support" for enemy fighters in Iraq.

"They do it from providing weapons, ammunition, specifically mortars and explosively formed projectiles. ... They are conducting training within Iran of Iraqi extremists to come back here and fight the United States."

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said his troops were following 50 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who have been crossing the border and training fighters in Iraq. The State Department is about to declare the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.

Earlier in August, President Bush directly charged Tehran with aiding Iraqi insurgents who are killing U.S. soldiers:

"I asked Ambassador Crocker to meet with Iranians inside Iraq ... to send the message that there will be consequences for ... people transporting, delivering EFPs, highly sophisticated IEDs, that kill American troops."

The EFPs are roadside bombs that penetrate Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Abrams tanks. They have taken the lives of scores of U.S. soldiers.

Whether Bush has made the decision to attack the al Quds training camps inside Iran, he has painted himself into a corner.

If he does not strike the camps, he will be mocked by the War Party as a weak commander in chief, too timid to use U.S. power to protect soldiers he sent into battle or to punish those killing them.

Thus, Bush must either announce that his diplomacy has worked, and attacks out of Iran have diminished or been halted, or he will have to explain why the Top Gun of the carrier Lincoln was too wimpish to do his duty by the soldiers he sent to fight.

Who is pushing for attacks on Iran? Israel and its lobby. Vice President Cheney. Sen. Joe Lieberman, who has been calling for air strikes on Al Quds camps for months. And a War Party facing lasting disgrace for having lied the country into an unnecessary war, and for having assured the American people it would be a "cakewalk."

The arguments for war on Iran are both strategic and political.

Israel is terrified Iran will end its nuclear monopoly in the Middle East and wants an all-out U.S. war on Iran to prevent it. The War Party fears Iran may acquire a nuclear weapon, which would inhibit U.S. freedom of action in the Gulf and convince the Arab states that the United States is yesterday and they must appease Iran or go nuclear themselves.

As for Bush and Cheney, if they go home without hitting Iran's nuclear sites, and Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, the Bush Doctrine will have been defied by the Ayatollah as well as Kim Jong-il, and their legacy will be a no-win war in Iraq.

The War Party is thus seeking an excuse to launch air strikes on Iran, as that would trigger Iranian counterstrikes on our forces. Then they will have their long-sought casus belli for U.S. strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities.

First, the al Quds camps, then Natanz, Isfahan and Bushewr.

Initially, Americans might cheer the bombing of Iran, and Congress would head for the tall grass. But as U.S. strikes would be an act of war, rallying the Iranians behind the failing regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and igniting a long war the end of which we cannot see and the troops for which we do not have, there are powerful arguments against a new war.
Iran and the United States would both pay a hellish price, and Iran at least seems to recognize it. Both the Iraqi and Afghan governments say Iran is behaving as a good neighbor. There is evidence Tehran's nuclear program is faltering, or being curbed. Iran is said to be making concessions to U.N. inspectors.

Iran has released an American seized in response to our seizure of five Iranian "diplomats" in Iraq. Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, in a letter to the Washington Post, denies Iran is aiding the Iraqi insurgency and calls on the U.S. government to "proffer evidence" and "provide the list of Iranian agents who it alleges are operating in Iraq."

If there is a rush to war here, it is not on the part of Iran.

As Bush is preparing for war on Iran, if he has not already decided on war, where is Congress, which alone has the constitutional power to authorize a war?

Or has it given Bush and Cheney another blank check?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Study: US preparing 'massive' military attack against Iran

Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane
Published: Tuesday August 28, 2007

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The United States has the capacity for and may be prepared to launch without warning a massive assault on Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, as well as government buildings and infrastructure, using long-range bombers and missiles, according to a new analysis.

The paper, "Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East" – written by well-respected British scholar and arms expert Dr. Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and Martin Butcher, a former Director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and former adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament – was exclusively provided to RAW STORY late Friday under embargo.

"We wrote the report partly as we were surprised that this sort of quite elementary analysis had not been produced by the many well resourced Institutes in the United States," wrote Plesch in an email to Raw Story on Tuesday.

Plesch and Butcher examine "what the military option might involve if it were picked up off the table and put into action" and conclude that based on open source analysis and their own assessments, the US has prepared its military for a "massive" attack against Iran, requiring little contingency planning and without a ground invasion.

The study concludes that the US has made military preparations to destroy Iran’s WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order. The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran’s actions.
  • Any attack is likely to be on a massive multi-front scale but avoiding a ground invasion. Attacks focused on WMD facilities would leave Iran too many retaliatory options, leave President Bush open to the charge of using too little force and leave the regime intact.

  • US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours.

  • US ground, air and marine forces already in the Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan can devastate Iranian forces, the regime and the state at short notice.

  • Some form of low level US and possibly UK military action as well as armed popular resistance appear underway inside the Iranian provinces or ethnic areas of the Azeri, Balujistan, Kurdistan and Khuzestan. Iran was unable to prevent sabotage of its offshore-to-shore crude oil pipelines in 2005.

  • Nuclear weapons are ready, but most unlikely, to be used by the US, the UK and Israel. The human, political and environmental effects would be devastating, while their military value is limited.

  • Israel is determined to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons yet has the conventional military capability only to wound Iran’s WMD programmes.

  • The attitude of the UK is uncertain, with the Brown government and public opinion opposed psychologically to more war, yet, were Brown to support an attack he would probably carry a vote in Parliament. The UK is adamant that Iran must not acquire the bomb.

  • The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran’s actions.

When asked why the paper seems to indicate a certainty of Iranian WMD, Plesch made clear that "our paper is not, repeat not, about what Iran actually has or not." Yet, he added that "Iran certainly has missiles and probably some chemical capability."

Most significantly, Plesch and Butcher dispute conventional wisdom that any US attack on Iran would be confined to its nuclear sites. Instead, they foresee a "full-spectrum approach," designed to either instigate an overthrow of the government or reduce Iran to the status of "a weak or failed state." Although they acknowledge potential risks and impediments that might deter the Bush administration from carrying out such a massive attack, they also emphasize that the administration's National Security Strategy includes as a major goal the elimination of Iran as a regional power. They suggest, therefore, that:

This wider form of air attack would be the most likely to delay the Iranian nuclear program for a sufficiently long period of time to meet the administration’s current counterproliferation goals. It would also be consistent with the possible goal of employing military action is to overthrow the current Iranian government, since it would severely degrade the capability of the Iranian military (in particular revolutionary guards units and other ultra-loyalists) to keep armed opposition and separatist movements under control. It would also achieve the US objective of neutralizing Iran as a power in the region for many years to come.

However, it is the option that contains the greatest risk of increased global tension and hatred of the United States. The US would have few, if any allies for such a mission beyond Israel (and possibly the UK). Once undertaken, the imperatives for success would be enormous.

Butcher says he does not believe the US would use nuclear weapons, with some exceptions.

"My opinion is that [nuclear weapons] wouldn't be used unless there was definite evidence that Iran has them too or is about to acquire them in a matter of days/weeks," notes Butcher. "However, the Natanz facility has been so hardened that to destroy it MAY require nuclear weapons, and once an attack had started it may simply be a matter of following military logic and doctrine to full extent, which would call for the use of nukes if all other means failed."

Military Strategy

The bulk of the paper is devoted to a detailed analysis of specific military strategies for such an attack, of ongoing attempts to destabilize Iran by inciting its ethnic minorities, and of the considerations surrounding the possible employment of nuclear weapons.

In particular, Plesch and Butcher examine what is known as Global Strike – the capability to project military power from the United States to anywhere in the world, which was announced by STRATCOM as having initial operational capability in December 2005. It is the that capacity that could provide strategic bombers and missiles to devastate Iran on just a few hours notice.

Iran has a weak air force and anti aircraft capability, almost all of it is 20-30 years old and it lacks modern integrated communications. Not only will these forces be rapidly destroyed by US air power, but Iranian ground and air forces will have to fight without protection from air attack.

British military sources stated on condition of anonymity, that "the US military switched its whole focus to Iran" from March 2003. It continued this focus even though it had infantry bogged down in fighting the insurgency in Iraq.

Global Strike could be combined with already-existing "regional operational plans for limited war with Iran, such as Oplan 1002-04, for an attack on the western province of Kuzhestan, or Oplan 1019 which deals with preventing Iran from closing the Straits of Hormuz, and therefore keeping open oil lanes vital to the US economy."

The Marines are not all tied down fighting in Iraq. Several Marine forces are assembling in the Gulf, each with its own aircraft carrier. These carrier forces can each conduct a version of the D-Day landings. They come with landing craft, tanks, jump-jets, thousands of troops and hundreds more cruise missiles. Their task is to destroy Iranian forces able to attack oil tankers and to secure oilfields and installations. They have trained for this mission since the Iranian revolution of 1979 as is indicated in this battle map of Hormuz illustrating an advert for combat training software.

Special Forces units – which are believed to already be operating within Iran – would be available to carry out search-and-destroy missions and incite internal uprisings, while US Army units in both Iraq and Afghanistan could mount air and missile attacks on Iranian forces, which are heavily concentrated along the Iran-Iraq border, as well as protecting their own supply lines within Iraq:

A key assessment in any war with Iran concerns Basra province and the Kuwait border. It is likely that Iran and its sympathizers could take control of population centres and interrupt oil supplies, if it was in their interest to do so. However it is unlikely that they could make any sustained effort against Kuwait or interrupt supply lines north from Kuwait to central Iraq. US firepower is simply too great for any Iranian conventional force.

Experts question the report's conclusions

Former CIA analyst and Deputy Director for Transportation Security, Antiterrorism Assistance Training, and Special Operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism, Larry Johnson, does not agree with the report’s findings.

"The report seems to accept without question that US air force and navy bombers could effectively destroy Iran and they seem to ignore the fact that US use of air power in Iraq has failed to destroy all major military, political, economic and transport capabilities," said Johnson late Monday after the embargo on the study had been lifted.

"But at least in their conclusions they still acknowledge that Iran, if attacked, would be able to retaliate. Yet they are vague in terms of detailing the extent of the damage that the Iran is capable of inflicting on the US and fairly assessing what those risks are."

There is also the situation of US soldiers in Iraq and the supply routes that would have to be protected to ensure that US forces had what they needed. Plesch explains that “"firepower is an effective means of securing supply routes during conventional war and in conventional war a higher loss rate is expected."

"However as we say do not assume that the Iraqi Shiia will rally to Tehran – the quietist Shiia tradition favoured by Sistani may regard itself as justified if imploding Iranian power can be argued to reduce US problems in Iraq, not increase them."

John Pike, Director of Global Security, a Washington-based military, intelligence, and security clearinghouse, says that the question of Iraq is the one issue at the center of any questions regarding Iran.

"The situation in Iraq is a wild card, though it may be presumed that Iran would mount attacks on the US at some remove, rather than upsetting the apple-cart in its own front yard," wrote Pike in an email.

Political Considerations

Plesch and Butcher write with concern about the political context within the United States:

This debate is bleeding over into the 2008 Presidential election, with evidence mounting that despite the public unpopularity of the war in Iraq, Iran is emerging as an issue over which Presidential candidates in both major American parties can show their strong national security bona fides. ...

The debate on how to deal with Iran is thus occurring in a political context in the US that is hard for those in Europe or the Middle East to understand. A context that may seem to some to be divorced from reality, but with the US ability to project military power across the globe, the reality of Washington DC is one that matters perhaps above all else. ...

We should not underestimate the Bush administration's ability to convince itself that an "Iran of the regions" will emerge from a post-rubble Iran. So, do not be in the least surprised if the United States attacks Iran. Timing is an open question, but it is hard to find convincing arguments that war will be avoided, or at least ones that are convincing in Washington.

Plesch and Butcher are also interested in the attitudes of the current UK government, which has carefully avoided revealing what its position might be in the case of an attack. They point out, however, "One key caution is that regardless of the realities of Iran’s programme, the British public and elite may simply refuse to participate – almost out of bloody minded revenge for the Iraq deceit."

And they conclude that even "if the attack is 'successful' and the US reasserts its global military dominance and reduces Iran to the status of an oil-rich failed state, then the risks to humanity in general and to the states of the Middle East are grave indeed."



DEBKAfile: Sarkozy is first Western leader to speak out loud about US plan to bomb Iran

August 28, 2007, 12:43 PM (GMT+02:00)

Bombing Iran: Catastrophic but real

Bombing Iran: Catastrophic but real

Addressing 180 French diplomats Monday, Aug. 27, French president Nicolas Sarkozy said a nuclear-armed Iran would be unacceptable and the world must tighten sanctions while offering Tehran incentives to halt weapons development. “This initiative is the only one that can enable us to escape an alternative that I say is catastrophic: the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran,” he said.

Sarkozy thus became the first important Western leader to declare with brutal frankness that Iran stands in peril of an attack on its nuclear installations.

DEBKAfile notes that he spoke out shortly after a long holiday in the United States and a day-long visit to the Bush family estate in Maine. His frank language – he called Iran’s nuclear ambition the world’s most dangerous problem – caused astonishment in diplomatic circles much like the jeans he wore on his visit to the US president.

Sarkozy did not indicate whether France would take part in an American or Israeli attack on Iran, but he did stress French backing for Security Council sanctions over Iran’s refusal to back away from uranium enrichment.

DEBKAfile’s diplomatic sources disclose that Sarkozy’s warning to Tehran was the bluntest but not the only one Tehran received of the Bush administration plans to bomb its nuclear facilities. Iran was discreetly warned by the Kremlin in early spring that an American attack was impending and would be coordinated with an Israeli strike against Syria. All three armies, the Iranian (plus Hizballah), Syrian and Israeli, have been deep in hectic war preparations ever since.

This war fever will be further heated by Sarkozy’s words. They certainly contradict Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak’s smooth assurance to the Knesset foreign affairs and defense committee, also on Monday, that he sees first signs of Syrian military suspense ebbing.

The French president’s reading of the situation was closer to that of the former US ambassador Edward P. Djerejian, whose impressions from talks with Syrian leaders last week were disclosed by DEBKAfile. Djerejian underscored the Syrian president Bashar Assad’s unshakeable commitment to Tehran’s foreign and military policies, even if his relations with Washington do improve.

Like Barak, Mohammed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is trying to pour oil on troubled waters. He sent inspectors to Tehran to collect understandings and so fend off the third round of sanctions promised at the UN Security Council next month.

The IAEA and Iran jointly announced Monday they had “agreed a timeline for implementing a plan to clarify Tehran’s nuclear program.”

Iran took this some steps further, claiming “the IAEA accepted that earlier statements made by Iran (on the issue of plutonium) are consistent with the agency’s findings and thus this matter is resolved.” Tehran also announced cooperation with a nuclear watchdog probe of an “alleged secret uranium processing project linked by U.S. intelligence to a nuclear arms program.”

Washington is not buying this show of Iranian compliance and zeal for cooperation with the world community. The US ambassador to the IAEA in Vienna pointed to “real limitations” in the timeline understanding and accused Tehran of “manipulating the IAEA as a way to avoid harsher sanctions.”

ElBaradei had previously called a military attack on Iran “madness.”

The assessments of Sarkozy and ElBaradei therefore veer dangerously between “catastrophe” and “madness.”

Monday, August 27, 2007


Many Take Army's 'Quick Ship' Bonus

$20,000 Is Lure to Leave Within Days

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 27, 2007; Page A01

More than 90 percent of the Army's new recruits since late July have accepted a $20,000 "quick ship" bonus to leave for basic combat training by the end of September, putting thousands of Americans into uniform almost immediately.

Many recruits who take the bonus -- scoring in many cases the equivalent of more than a year's pay -- leave their homes within days, recruiters said. The initiative is part of an effort by Army officials to meet year-end recruiting goals after a two-month slump earlier this year. With the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the Army hopes the extra cash motivates those interested in joining or entices those just considering enlisting.

The program began on July 25, and in three weeks the Army had enlisted 3,814 recruits using the bonus, according to the U.S. Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Ky. Those recruits accounted for 92 percent of the 4,149 recruits who signed contracts between July 25 and Aug. 13.

The $20,000 bonus is a hefty sum for many of the individuals the Army targets most aggressively: young men and women who have not settled on a career. The Army estimates that soldiers coming out of initial training are paid $17,400 a year on average.

But the effort, experts said, could pose problems for the Army in the coming months, because those who might have helped fill recruiting quotas later this year or in early 2008 are instead joining now.

Bethany Moore, 19, of Jessup, visited a recruiting station Wednesday, knowing that she wanted to sign up in the hopes of building a stable career. A 2006 graduate of Northern High School in Calvert County, Moore had worked a series of "regular jobs" and wanted to make a serious change. "I just wanted to do something better with my life," she said.

Although she expected a six-month waiting period to go to basic training, she learned of the bonus and immediately accepted. She will ship out within a week. "It was a welcome surprise," Moore said. "And it's a lot of money."

Military personnel experts said the signing bonuses are a transparent way for the Army to meet its annual goal of 80,000 recruits amid an increasingly difficult recruiting environment. They also said the rush to get people into uniform might have more to do with meeting numerical targets than with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, though many of those who join the Army face the possibility of deployment to combat soon.

The Army hopes the bonus will increase its recruiting numbers for August, a month whose goals are among the largest of the year. The Army will announce the August numbers in early September.

"The Army is intent on trying to meet its recruitment goals in terms of numbers by the end of the fiscal year, so they're doing just about anything they can to bring those numbers up," said Cindy Williams, an analyst at the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "To me it signals something that we've been seeing already from the Army, a trade-off in terms of quality and quantity. My sense is that right now, they're willing to take anybody who is willing to walk in the door and ship by Sept. 30."

Army officials have lowered standards and increased waivers in recent years to meet their recruiting goals, in part to deal with the strain of the wars and to quickly expand the Army. But the Army has been more concerned with nose-diving public opinion about the war in Iraq and the role of "influencers" -- parents, teachers and coaches -- who have been increasingly unwilling to recommend the military as a career option to young people.

The $20,000 bonus can be enticing, especially to those who lack a steady job, languish in debt or are worried about their future. Staff Sgt. Kevin Gordon, a recruiter in Glen Burnie, said a majority of the people who come into his office have already decided to join the service and then jump at the chance to leave now.

CONTINUED 1 2 Next >

Friday, August 24, 2007


Ammunition Shortage Squeezes Police

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Troops training for and fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are firing more than 1 billion bullets a year, contributing to ammunition shortages hitting police departments nationwide and preventing some officers from training with the weapons they carry on patrol.

An Associated Press review of dozens of police and sheriff's departments found that many are struggling with delays of as long as a year for both handgun and rifle ammunition. And the shortages are resulting in prices as much as double what departments were paying just a year ago.

"There were warehouses full of it. Now, that isn't the case," said Al Aden, police chief in Pierre, S.D.

Departments in all parts of the country reported delays or reductions in training and, in at least one case, a proposal to use paint-ball guns in firing drills as a way to conserve real ammo.

Forgoing proper, repetitive weapons training comes with a price on the streets, police say, in diminished accuracy, quickness on the draw and basic decision-making skills.

"You are not going to be as sharp or as good, especially if an emergency situation comes up," said Sgt. James MacGillis, range master for the Milwaukee police. "The better-trained officer is the one that is less likely to use force."

The pinch is blamed on a skyrocketing demand for ammunition that followed the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, driven by the training needs of a military at war, and, ironically, police departments raising their own practice regiments following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The increasingly voracious demand for copper and lead overseas, especially in China, has also been a factor.

The military is in no danger of running out because it gets the overwhelming majority of its ammunition from a dedicated plant outside Kansas City. But police are at the mercy of commercial manufacturers.

None of the departments surveyed by the AP said they had pulled guns off the street, and many departments reported no problems buying ammunition. But others told the AP they face higher prices and months-long delays.

In Oklahoma City, for example, officers cannot qualify with AR-15 rifles because the department does not have enough .223-caliber ammunition - a round similar to that fired by the military's M-16 and M4 rifles. Last fall, an ammunition shortage forced the department to cancel qualification courses for several different guns.

"We've got to teach the officers how to use the weapon, and they've got to be able to go to the range and qualify with the weapon and show proficiency," said department spokesman Capt. Steve McCool. "And you can't do that unless you have the rounds."

In Milwaukee, supplies of .40-caliber handgun bullets and .223-caliber rifle rounds have gotten so low the department has repeatedly dipped into its ammunition reserves. Some weapons training has already been cut by 30 percent, and lessons on rifles have been altered to conserve bullets.

Unlike troops in an active war zone, patrol officers rarely fire their weapons in the line of duty. Even then, an officer in a firefight isn't likely to shoot more than a dozen rounds, said Asheville, N.C., police training officer Lt. Gary Gudac. That, he said, makes training with live ammunition for real-life situations - such as a vehicle stop - so essential.

"We spend a lot of money and time making sure the officers are able to shoot a moving target or shoot back into a vehicle," Gudac said. "Any time we have a deadly force encounter, one of the first things we pull is the officer's qualification records."

In Trenton, N.J., a lack of available ammunition led the city to give up plans to convert its force to .45-caliber handguns. Last year, the sheriff's department in Bergen County, N.J., had to borrow 26,000 rounds of .40-caliber ammunition to complete twice-a-year training for officers.

"Now we're planning at least a year and a half, even two years in advance," said Bergen County Detective David Macey, a firearms examiner.

In Phoenix, an order for .38-caliber rounds placed a year ago has yet to arrive, meaning no officer can currently qualify with a .38 Special revolver.

"We got creative in how we do in training," said Sgt. Bret Draughn, who supervises the department's ammunition purchases. "We had to cut out extra practice sessions. We cut back in certain areas so we don't have to cut out mandatory training."

In Wyoming, the state leaned on its ammunition suppler earlier this year so every state trooper could qualify on the standard-issue AR-15 rifle, said Capt. Bill Morse. Rifle rounds scheduled to arrive in January did not show up until May, leading to a rush of troopers trying to qualify by the deadline.

"We didn't (initially) have enough ammunition to qualify everybody in the state," Morse said.

In Indianapolis, police spokesman Lt. Jeff Duhamell said the department has enough ammunition for now, but is considering using paint balls during a two-week training course, during which recruits fire normally fire about 1,000 rounds each.

"It's all based on the demands in Iraq," Duhamell said. "A lot of the companies are trying to keep up with the demands of the war and the demands of training police departments. The price increased too - went up 15 to 20 percent - and they were advising us ... to order as much as you can."

Higher prices are common. In Madison, Wis., police Sgt. Lauri Schwartz said the city spent $40,000 on ammunition in 2004, a figure that rose to $53,000 this year. The department is budgeting for prices 22 percent higher in 2008. In Arkansas, Fort Smith police now pay twice as much as they did last year for 500-round cases of .40-caliber ammunition.

"We really don't have a lot of choices," Cpl. Mikeal Bates said. "In our profession, we have to have it."

The Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Mo., directly supplies the military with more than 80 percent of its small-arms ammunition. Production at the factory has more than tripled since 2002, rising from roughly 425 million rounds that year to 1.4 billion rounds in 2006, according to the Joint Munitions Command at the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois.

Most of the rest of the military's small-arms ammunition comes from Falls Church, Va.-based General Dynamics Corp. (GD), which relies partly on subcontractors - some of whom also supply police departments. Right now, their priority is filling the military's orders, said Darren Newsom, general manager of The Hunting Shack in Stevensville, Mont., which ships 250,000 rounds a day as it supplies ammunition to 3,000 police departments nationwide.

"There's just a major shortage on ammo in the U.S. right now," he said, pointing to his current backorder for 2.5 million rounds of .223-caliber ammunition. "It's just terrible."

Police say the .223-caliber rifle round is generally the hardest to find. Even though rounds used by the military are not exactly the same as those sold to police, they are made from the same metals and often using the same equipment.

Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK), which runs the Lake City plant for the Army, also produced more than 5 billion rounds for hunting and police use last year, making the Edina, Minn.-based company the country's largest ammunition manufacturer. Spokesman Bryce Hallowell questioned whether the Iraq war had a direct effect on the ammunition available to police, but said there was no doubt that surging demand was affecting supply.

"We had looked at this and didn't know if it was an anomaly or a long-term trend," Hallowell said. "We started running plants 24/7. Now we think it is long-term, so we're going to build more production capability."

That unrelenting demand for ammunition will continue to put a premium on planning ahead, said Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who so far has kept his department from experiencing any shortage-related problems.

"If we have a problem, I'll go make an issue of it - if I have to go to Washington or the military," Arpaio said. "That is a serious thing ... if you don't have the firepower to protect the public and yourself."


The Coming Urban Terror
John Robb

Systems disruption, networked gangs, and bioweapons

For the first time in history, announced researchers this May, a majority of the world’s population is living in urban environments. Cities—efficient hubs connecting international flows of people, energy, communications, and capital—are thriving in our global economy as never before. However, the same factors that make cities hubs of globalization also make them vulnerable to small-group terror and violence.

Over the last few years, small groups’ ability to conduct terrorism has shown radical improvements in productivity—their capacity to inflict economic, physical, and moral damage. These groups, motivated by everything from gang membership to religious extremism, have taken advantage of easy access to our global superinfrastructure, revenues from growing illicit commercial flows, and ubiquitously available new technologies to cross the threshold necessary to become terrible threats. September 11, 2001, marked their arrival at that threshold.

Unfortunately, the improvements in lethality that we have already seen are just the beginning. The arc of productivity growth that lets small groups terrorize at ever-higher levels of death and disruption stretches as far as the eye can see. Eventually, one man may even be able to wield the destructive power that only nation-states possess today. It is a perverse twist of history that this new threat arrives at the same moment that wars between states are receding into the past. Thanks to global interdependence, state-against-state warfare is far less likely than it used to be, and viable only against disconnected or powerless states. But the underlying processes of globalization have made us exceedingly vulnerable to nonstate enemies. The mechanisms of power and control that states once exerted will continue to weaken as global interconnectivity increases. Small groups of terrorists can already attack deep within any state, riding on the highways of interconnectivity, unconcerned about our porous borders and our nation-state militaries. These terrorists’ likeliest point of origin, and their likeliest destination, is the city.

Cities played a vital defensive role in the last major evolution of conventional state-versus-state warfare. Between the world wars, the refinement of technologies—particularly the combustion engine, when combined with armor—made it possible for armies to move at much higher speeds than in the past, so new methods of warfare emphasized armored motorized maneuver as a way to pierce the opposition’s solid defensive lines and range deep into soft, undefended rear areas. These incursions, the armored thrusts of blitzkrieg, turned an army’s size against itself: even the smallest armored vanguard could easily disrupt the supply of ammunition, fuel, and rations necessary to maintain the huge armies of the twentieth century in the field.

To defend against these thrusts, the theoretician J. F. C. Fuller wrote in the 1930s, cities could be used as anchor or pivot points to engage armored forces in attacks on static positions, bogging down the offensive. Tanks couldn’t move quickly through cities, and if they bypassed them and struck too deeply into enemy territory, their supply lines—in particular, of the gasoline they drank greedily—would become vulnerable. The city, Fuller anticipated, could serve as a vast fortress, requiring the fast new armor to revert to the ancient tactic of the siege. That’s exactly what happened in practice during World War II, when the defenses mounted in Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad played a major role in the Allied victory.

But in the current evolution of warfare, cities are no longer defensive anchors against armored thrusts ranging through the countryside. They have become the main targets of offensive action themselves. Just as the huge militaries of the early twentieth century were vulnerable to supply and communications disruption, cities are now so heavily dependent on a constant flow of services from various centralized systems that even the simplest attacks on those systems can cause massive disruption.

Most of the networks that we rely on for city life—communications, electricity, transportation, water—are overused, interdependent, and extremely complex. They developed organically as what scholars in the emerging field of network science call “scale-free networks,” which contain large hubs with a plethora of connections to smaller and more isolated local clusters. Such networks are economically efficient and resistant to random failure—but they are also extremely vulnerable to intentional disruptions, as Albert-Laszlo Barabasi shows in his important book Linked: The New Science of Networks. In practice, this means that a very small number of attacks on the critical hubs of a scale-free network can collapse the entire network. Such a collapse can occasionally happen by accident, when random failure hits a critical node; think of the huge Northeast blackout of 2003, which caused $6.4 billion in damage.

Further, the networks of our global superinfrastructure are tightly “coupled”—so tightly interconnected, that is, that any change in one has a nearly instantaneous effect on the others. Attacking one network is like knocking over the first domino in a series: it leads to cascades of failure through a variety of connected networks, faster than human managers can respond.

The ongoing attacks on the systems that support Baghdad’s 5 million people illustrate the vulnerability of modern networks. Over the last four years, guerrilla assaults on electrical systems have reduced Baghdad’s power to an average of four or five hours a day. And the insurgents have been busily finding new ways to cut power: no longer do they make simple attacks on single transmission towers. Instead, they destroy multiple towers in series and remove the copper wire for resale to fund the operation; they ambush repair crews in order to slow repairs radically; they attack the natural gas and water pipelines that feed the power plants. In September 2004, one attack on an oil pipeline that fed a power plant quickly led to a cascade of power failures that blacked out electricity throughout Iraq.

Lack of adequate power is a major reason why economic recovery has been nearly impossible in Iraq. No wonder that, in account after account, nearly the first criticism that any Iraqi citizen levels against the government is its inability to keep the lights on. Deprived of services, citizens are forced to turn to local groups—many of them at war with the government—for black-market alternatives. This money, in turn, fuels further violence, and the government loses legitimacy.

Insurgents have directed such disruptive attacks against nearly all the services necessary to get a city of 5 million through the day: water pipes, trucking, and distribution lines for gasoline and kerosene. And because of these networks’ complexity and interconnectivity, even small attacks, costing in the low thousands of dollars to carry out, can cause tens of millions and occasionally hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Iraq is a petri dish for modern conflict, the Spanish Civil War of our times. It’s the place where small groups are learning to fight modern militaries and modern societies and win. As a result, we can expect to see systems disruption used again and again in modern conflict—certainly against megacities in the developing world, and even against those in the developed West, as we have already seen in London, Madrid, and Moscow.

Another growing threat to our cities, commonest so far in the developing world, is gangs challenging government for control. For three sultry July days in 2006, a gang called PCC (Primeiro Comando da Capital, “First Command of the Capital”) held hostage the 20 million inhabitants of the greater São Paulo area through a campaign of violence. Gang members razed police stations, attacked banks, rioted in prisons, and torched dozens of buses, shutting down a transportation system serving 2.9 million people a day.

The previous May, a similar series of attacks had terrified the city. “The attackers moved on foot, and by car and motorbike,” wrote William Langewiesche in Vanity Fair. “They were not rioters, revolutionaries, or the graduates of terrorist camps. They were anonymous young men and women, dressed in ordinary clothes, unidentifiable in advance, and indistinguishable afterward. Wielding pistols, automatic rifles, and firebombs, they emerged from within the city, struck fast, and vanished on the spot. Their acts were criminal, but the attackers did not loot, rob, or steal. They burned buses, banks, and public buildings, and went hard after the forces of order—gunning down the police in their neighborhood posts, in their homes, and on the streets.”

The violence hasn’t been limited to São Paulo. In December 2006, a copycat campaign by an urban gang called the Comando Vermelho (“Red Command”) shut down Rio de Janeiro, too. In both cases, the gangs fomenting the violence didn’t list demands or send ultimatums to the government. Rather, they were flexing their muscles, testing their ability to challenge the government monopoly on violence.

Both gangs had steadily accumulated power for a decade, helped in part by globalization, which simplifies making connections to the multitrillion-dollar global black-market economy. With these new connections, the gangs’ profit horizon became limitless, fueling rapid expansion. New communications technology, particularly cell phones, played a part, too, making it possible for the gangs to thrive as loose associations, and allowing a geographical and organizational dispersion that rendered them nearly invulnerable to attack. The PCC has been particularly successful, growing from a small prison gang in the mid-nineties to a group that today controls nearly half of São Paulo’s slums and its millions of inhabitants. An escalating confrontation between these gangs and the city governments appears inevitable.

The gangs’ rapid rise into challengers to urban authorities is something that we will see again elsewhere. This dynamic is already at work in American cities in the rise of MS-13, a rapidly expanding transnational gang with a loose organizational structure, a propensity for violence, and access to millions in illicit gains. It already has an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 members, dispersed over 31 U.S. states and several Latin American countries, and its proliferation continues unabated, despite close attention from law enforcement. Like the PCC, MS-13 or a similar American gang may eventually find that it has sufficient power to hold a city hostage through disruption.

The final threat that small groups pose to cities is weapons of mass destruction. Though most of the worry over WMDs has focused on nuclear weapons, those aren’t the real long-term problem. Not only is the vast manufacturing capability of a nation-state required to produce the basic nuclear materials, but those materials are difficult to manipulate, transport, and turn into weapons. Nor is it easy to assemble a nuke from parts bought on the black market; if it were, nation-states like Iran, which have far more resources at their disposal than terrorist groups do, would be doing just that instead of resorting to internal production.

It’s also unlikely that a state would give terrorists a nuclear weapon. Sovereignty and national prestige are tightly connected to the production of nukes. Sharing them with terrorists would grant immense power to a group outside the state’s control—the equivalent of giving Osama bin Laden the keys to the presidential palace. If that isn’t deterrent enough, the likelihood of retaliation is, since states, unlike terrorist groups, have targets that can be destroyed. The result of a nuclear explosion in Moscow or New York would very probably be the annihilation of the country that manufactured the bomb, once its identity was determined—as it surely would be, since no plot of that size can remain secret for long.

Even in the very unlikely case that a nuclear weapon did end up in terrorist hands, it would be a single horrible incident, rather than an ongoing threat. The same is true of dirty bombs, which disperse radioactive material through conventional explosives. No, the real long-term danger from small groups is the use of biotechnology to build weapons of mass destruction. In contrast with nuclear technology, biotech’s knowledge and tools are already widely dispersed—and their power is increasing exponentially.

The biotech field is in the middle of a massive improvement in productivity through advances in computing power. In fact, the curves of improvement that we see in biotechnology mirror the rates of improvement in computing dictated by Moore’s Law—the observation, borne out by decades of experience, that the ratio of performance to price of computing power doubles every 24 months. This means that incredible power will soon be in the hands of individuals. University of Washington engineer Robert Carlson observes that if current trends in the rate of improvement in DNA sequencing continue, “within a decade a single person at the lab bench could sequence or synthesize all the DNA describing all the people on the planet many times over in an eight-hour day.” And with ever tinier, cheaper, and more widely available tools, a large and decentralized industrial base that is hiring lab techs at a double-digit growth rate, and the active transfer of knowledge via the Internet (the blueprints of the entire smallpox virus now circulate on the Web), biotech is too widely available for us to contain it.

In less than a decade, then, biotechnology will be ripe for the widespread development of weapons of mass destruction, and it fits the requirements of small-group warfare perfectly. It is small, inexpensive, and easy to manufacture in secret. Also, since dangerous biotechnology is based primarily on the manipulation of information, it will make rapid progress through the same kind of amateur tinkering that currently produces new computer viruses. Terrorists also have a growing advantage in delivering bioweapons. The increasing porousness of national borders, size of global megacities, and volume of air travel all mean that the delivery and percolation of bioweapons will be fast-moving and widespread—potentially on several continents at once.

It is almost certain that we will see repeated, perhaps incessant, attempts to deploy bioweapons with new strains of viruses or bacteria. Picture a Russian biohacker who, a decade from now, designs a new, deadly form of the common flu virus and sells it on the Internet, just as computer viruses and worms get sold today. The terrorist group that buys the design sends it to a recently hired lab tech in Pakistan, who performs the required modifications with widely available tools. The product then ships by mail to London, to the awaiting “suicide vectors”—men who infect themselves and then board airplanes headed to world destinations, infecting passengers on the planes and in crowded terminals. The infection spreads quickly, going global in days—long before anyone detects it.

It’s very possible that many cities will fall in the face of such deadly threats. Megacities in the developing world—which often, because of their rapid growth, widespread corruption, and illegitimate governance, aren’t able to provide security or basic services for their citizens—are particularly vulnerable. However, cities in the developed world that properly appreciate the threats arrayed against them may devise startlingly innovative solutions.

In almost all cases, cities can defend themselves from their new enemies through effective decentralization. To counter systems disruption, decentralized services—the capability of smaller areas within cities to provide backup services, at least on a temporary basis—could radically diminish the harmful consequences of disconnection from the larger global grid. In New York, this would mean storage or limited production capability of backup electricity, water, and fuel, with easy connections to the delivery grid—at the borough level or even smaller. These backups would then provide a means of restoring central services rapidly after a failure.

Similarly, cities may combat networked gangs by decentralizing their own security. Cities have long maintained centralized police forces, but gangs can often overwhelm them. Many governments are responding with militarized police: China is building a million-man paramilitary force, for example; and even in the United States, the use of SWAT teams has increased from 3,000 deployments a year in the 1980s to 50,000 a year in 2006. But militarized police may too easily become an army of occupation, and, if corrupt, as they are in Brazil, they may become enemies of the state along with the gangs.

A better solution involves local security forces, either locally recruited or bought on the marketplace (such as Blackwater), which can be powerful bulwarks against small-group terrorism. Such forces may become a vital component in our defense against bioterrorism, too, since they can enforce local containment—and since large centralized services, like the ones we have today, might actually accelerate the propagation of bioweapons. Still, if improperly established, local forces can also become rogue criminal entities, like the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia and the militias in Rio de Janeiro. Governments need to regulate them carefully.

In the future, we probably won’t know exactly how we will be attacked until it happens. In highly uncertain situations like this, centralized solutions that emphasize uniform responses will often collapse. Heterogeneous systems, by contrast, are unlikely to fail catastrophically. Moreover, local innovation—supplemented by a marketplace in goods and services that improve security, detection, monitoring, and so on—is likely to develop responses to threats quickly and effectively. Other localities will copy those responses that prove successful.

In June 2007, the FBI and local law enforcement halted a plot to blow up the John F. Kennedy International Airport’s fuel tanks and feeder pipelines. This was another great example of how police forces, if used correctly, can defuse threats before they become a menace [see “On the Front Line in the War on Terrorism”]. However, our current level of safety will not last. The selection of the target demonstrated clearly that future attackers will take advantage of our systems’ vulnerability to disruption, which will sharply increase the number of potential targets. It also showed that these threats can emerge spontaneously from small groups unconnected to al-Qaida. More and more attempts will come, with higher and higher rates of success. Our choice is simple: we can rely exclusively on our current security systems to stop the threats—and suffer the consequences when they don’t—or we can take measures to mitigate the impact of these threats by exerting local control over essential services.



Aaron Russo

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


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ProPolymer 4AA LED, 7 WHITE LEDs, Yellow Body

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Detailed Description for Streamlight ProPolymer 4AA LED Flashlight
Streamlight ProPolymer 4AA LED flashlight incorporates 7 white LED's to produce a broad even beam. The push button tail cap switch on the Streamlight 4AA LED ProPolymer makes for simple one handed operation. The Streamlight 4AA LED ProPolymer will operate for up to 155 hours on the included 4 AA batteries with diminished light output over that time. At the 155 hour mark the Streamlight 4AA LED ProPolymer delivers enough light to illuminate a path or read a manual. Streamlight 4AA LED ProPolymer is waterproof.

Features of Streamlight ProPolymer 4AA LED Flashlight:
- seven 100,000 hour LEDs never need replacing
- 67 lumens
- 20 times longer battery life than standard flashlights
- up to 155 hours of run tim on 4 AA alkaline batteries, included
- tough polymer construction
- impact and shock resistant
- convenient push-button tail switch
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- unbreakable polycarbonate lens with scratch resistant coating
- waterproof flashlight (not dive rated)
- optional helmet clamps available
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- safety rating UL Listed Class 1 Div 1 and Div 2, Class 2 Div 2
- assembled in USA
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Battery Type AA
Battery Number 4 AA, Included
Dimensions 6.4" x 1.5" hea dia.
Lamp Type 7 White LED's
Light Output 67 Lumens
Weight w/ Batteries 6.7 oz.
Run Time up to 155 hours
Safety Rating UL Listed Class 1 Div 1 and Div 2, Class 2 Div 2
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