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Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday October 3, 2010

Good mornign, all. The one thing in life that is constant is change. Change in my daily routine is going to require that I change how I run the blog. My choices are to stop the blog or to alter what I am doing, I am chosing to alter what I am doing. So, please, keep coming back and reading, leave comments, and I will try to make it back to a point where I can write my summary and my take on what is getting posted. I will continue to find views that are not covered in the news generally.

I hope that you have all had a safe weekend and are going into the best possible Monday. Among the following articles are two questions directly asked. One, is the TSA preying on the sick? I feel that, yes, the TSA is preying on the sick and the weak. My opinion on this is not just the humiliation of the cancer patient, the breaking of  the colostemy bag, forcing a 95 year old woman to take off her adult diapers, but all of the events going back to the incident at Newark airport years ago. That one being forcing a child who required crutches to stand and walk to amble through the scanner. If it were just one event of these I could see it was a mistake or a misunderstanding; however, when women with big hair are getting their locks picked through and multiple women who have already suffered the indignation, pain, and loss of their body parts as well as a shock to their femininity by having one or both breasts removed in order to remove cancer are further humiliated by TSA agents, well I think it is indemic to the organization.

The other question asked is Will Iran Ever Do Right? No, I do not believe that Iran will ever do right.

That is my quick take. Now, please, read on and form your own opinion. Stay safe.

Panetta warns Israel on isolation ... Debate over Awlaki killing continues ... Afghanistan breaks off Taliban talks ... Can the supercommittee get a deal?

By Charles Hoskinson
PANETTA JUMPS INTO THE THORNY Israeli-Palestinian peace process today, with meetings in Israel and the West Bank with senior Israeli and Palestinian leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

PRESS SECRETARY GEORGE LITTLE EMAILS: “This trip comes at a critical time for Israel and the Palestinian people. It's an important opportunity for Secretary Panetta to reaffirm America’s unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security and to helping Israel maintain its qualitative military edge. He will also urge Israeli and Palestinian leaders to renew discussions on a lasting peace, and to meet at the table to work through their differences.”

HIS VISIT ALSO COMES AS ISRAELI LEADERS SAID THEY’RE READY to restart negotiations with the Palestinians. While enroute, Panetta bluntly warned the Israelis that they are becoming increasingly isolated amid changes in the region and risk eroding their nation’s security if they don’t reach out to other countries. “There's not much question in my mind that they maintain that (military) edge,” Panetta told reporters traveling with him. “But the question you have to ask: Is it enough to maintain a military edge if you're isolating yourself in the diplomatic arena? Real security can only be achieved by both a strong diplomatic effort as well as a strong effort to project your military strength.”

FURTHER DETAILS ARE EXPECTED WHEN Panetta and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak face the media later today. Panetta also is scheduled to lay a wreath at Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

HAPPY MONDAY AND WELCOME TO MORNING DEFENSE. Please send feedback and tips to, and follow us on Twitter @morningdefense for updates between briefings.

** A message from Northrop Grumman: The E-8C Joint STARS platform from Northrop Grumman features 70,000 hours of proven combat experience, over 5,300 successful missions, and one very bright future ahead. **

PANETTA’S VISIT TO ISRAEL BEGINS A WEEK-LONG TRIP that will also take him to Egypt and Belgium, where he will attend a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday.

THE SECRETARY ALSO TOLD REPORTERS THAT the recent death of Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen and other top leaders of the Islamist militant group are making it harder for the group to plan and carry out large-scale attacks abroad. Awlaki, a Yemeni-American, was killed Friday by a CIA drone strike along with another U.S. citizen, Samir Khan, who produced the group's English-language Web magazine, Inspire. 

BUT ANALYSTS TELL AFP THAT Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula still remains a serious threat to the United States even after the death of one of its most inspiring leaders, mainly due to continuing instability in Yemen. Read the story here:

MEANWHILE, THE DEBATE CONTINUES over the legality of the Obama administration’s decision to launch an airstrike that targeted a U.S. citizen, even one who had openly declared himself at war with the United States. Former House intelligence committee chairwoman Jane Harman told CNN Sunday that the administration should release the private legal memo justifying the strike. “The debate on the legal grounds for that strategy should be more in the open,” she said.

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY SAYS the administration owes him and other Bush administration figures an apology. He and his daughter Liz told CNN that the killing of Awlaki calls into question Obama’s past criticisms of the Bush administration for using enhanced interrogation techniques. Our story is here:

AFGHANISTAN IS SUSPENDING TALKS WITH THE TALIBAN to focus on cutting a deal with Pakistan. Afghan officials tell the Wall Street Journal that President Hamid Karzai’s government has concluded that the Taliban are essentially instruments of Pakistani policy and cannot deliver a deal on their own. The reassessment comes in the wake of last month’s assassination of peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani, which Kabul blames on a Pakistani. “The peace process which we began is dead,” national security adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta told the WSJ on Saturday. “It's a joke.” The story is here:

A KEY LEADER OF THE HAQQANI NETWORK is denying responsibility for Rabbani’s death, telling the BBC that “We haven't killed Burhanuddin Rabbani and this has been said many times by the spokespersons of the Islamic Emirate.” Siraj Haqqani also denied that his group was linked to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER YOUSAF RAZA GILANI meanwhile confirmed Sunday that his government would enter talks with the group, but left open the possibility of military operations if talks failed.

COALITION AND AFGHAN TROOPS HAVE STEPPED UP THEIR ASSAULTS on the network in Afghanistan. Several insurgents were killed overnight in a search for a Haqqani network leader in Paktia province suspected of facilitating the movement of weapons and the coordination of attacks, ISAF spokesman Lt. Gregory Keeley said.

ISAF REVEALED SATURDAY THAT A RAID on Tuesday netted a senior Haqqani leader, Haji Mali Khan, in Paktia province. He’s the uncle of Siraj and Badruddin Haqqani and the senior Haqqani commander in Afghanistan.

SOME BUDGET NEWS - The debt-reduction supercommittee resumes its deliberations today, with GOP insiders telling lobbyists they don’t expect the panel to reach a “grand bargain,” and saying they do not believe Congress will allow steep defense spending cuts if the panel fails to reach any deal at all. POLITICO’s Manu Raju and John Bresnahan have the details here:

THE HOUSE TUESDAY WILL TAKE UP another Senate-passed continuing resolution to fund the government through Nov. 18 as lawmakers work on a more permanent funding arrangement for fiscal 2012.

WEEKLY PLANNER - HASC will hold a hearing Tuesday on the future of the U.S. military at 10 a.m. in 2118 Rayburn. A HASC panel will continue to explore DOD financial management at 8 a.m. Thursday in 2212 Rayburn.

LIBYA OPS UPDATE - NATO air raids continued Saturday against Qadhafi loyalists, with warplanes conducting 101 sorties, of which 38 were strike sorties. That brings the total to 24,574 sorties and 9,164 strike sorties since March 31.

Raids were conducted near Bani Walid and Sirte, with targets hit including a command and control node, a staging area, a multiple-rocket-launcher firing point and armored vehicles.

Sixteen vessels were hailed and none boarded Saturday in arms embargo enforcement activities. Since March 31, 2,888 vessels have been hailed, 293 boarded and 11 diverted.

CHANGES - Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia is Dempsey’s new senior enlisted adviser. U.S. Iraq commander Austin has been nominated as Army vice chief of staff.

WHO’S WHERE WHEN - Panetta is traveling this week. Dempsey has meetings in the building. Donley and Schwartz attend the funeral of fighter ace Maj. Gen. John Alison at Arlington National Cemetery. Alison, who died June 6 at 98, was famous for his exploits with the 1st Air Commando Group in Burma during World War II. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler speaks at a retirement ceremony for Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Mellinger at Ft. Myer.

TSA watch: Are screeners preying on sick passengers?

October 2, 2011
The latest TSA horror story comes by way of Lori Dorn, a human resources consultant in New York.
Dorn, a breast cancer patient, was flying to San Francisco, when she was pulled aside by a TSA agent and told she would have to undergo a pat-down.
“I told her that I was not comfortable with having my breasts touched and that I had a card in my wallet that explains the type of expanders, serial numbers and my doctor’s information and asked to retrieve it,” she explains on her blog. “This request was denied.”

Instead, a supervisor was called over, who told her a physical exam was required. She explains,

I was again told that I could not retrieve the card and needed to submit to a physical exam in order to be cleared.
She then said, “And if we don’t clear you, you don’t fly” loud enough for other passengers to hear.
And they did. And they stared at the bald woman being yelled at by a TSA Supervisor.
Her post, which being widely covered online, is just the latest in a series of incidents in which TSA screeners appear to target visibly sick people.
As I read Dorn’s troubling account, I couldn’t help but remember the last time I saw someone who was dying of cancer. It was almost exactly a year ago, and I was visiting Hawaii’s Big Island with my family. We stumbled into a coffee shop, badly jetlagging and in desperate need of caffeine, and happened to sit at a table next to someone who was perhaps a few weeks from death.
The first thing I noticed after we sat down was the book he was reading: Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross’ On Death and Dying.
Then I looked up at him and saw all the signs of late-stage disease. He was bald from the chemotherapy and almost skeletal from the weight loss.
He’d come here to die.
I mention this because in many of these TSA incidents, the passenger is as obviously sick as the guy I saw in Hawaii. You don’t need an MD, or to call over a supervisor, to know that the person standing in front of you with no hair really does have a breast cancer, and poses absolutely no security threat — none whatsoever — to the flight she’s about to board.
And there have been many incidents. Too many.
• This summer, TSA screeners gave passenger Lena Reppert a once-over when she tried to board a flight out of Northwest Florida Regional Airport. Reppert was 95, in a wheelchair, and suffering from late-stage leukemia. She was visiting her daughter for what would probably be the last time. Reppert’s daughter said screeners demanded her mother remove her adult diaper. “I ran with her to the bathroom and stripped her down,” she told FOX News. “I got back to the line and just started bawling.”
• Earlier this year, TSA agents in Detroit botched a pat-down of cancer survivor Thomas Sawyer of Lansing, Mich., leaving him covered in his own urine. Sawyer is a bladder cancer survivor who wears a bag which collects his urine from an opening in his abdomen. “Every time I tried to tell them about my medical condition, they said they didn’t need to know about that,” he told MSNBC.
• And in late 2010, during the pat-down craze, Cathy Bossi, a longtime Charlotte, N.C., flight attendant and cancer survivor told a local television station that she was forced to show her prosthetic breast during a pat-down. The TSA screener “put her full hand on my breast and said, ‘What is this?’ “Bossi told the station. “And I said, ‘It’s my prosthesis because I’ve had breast cancer.’ And she said, ‘Well, you’ll need to show me that.’”
None of this should be happening. The TSA’s stated policy on passengers with what it calls hidden disabilities seems pretty reasonable. But apparently its implementation isn’t, in some instances.
I want to give TSA the benefit of the doubt on these incidents. I want to believe they really thought the bald cancer patient wanted to blow up the plane with her breast implants. I want to believe the agents thought the adult diaper contained plastic explosives and that the plastic bag was filled with some kind of combustible liquid.
But I’m having a little trouble with that. Folks, what we probably have here is either a profound lack of common sense or — worst case scenario — TSA agents cynically targeting sick people who fly.

Mideast Peace Impasse May Pose Israel Existential Threat, Brzezinski Says

The deadlock in the Middle East peace process is undermining U.S. influence and may pose an existential threat to America’s key ally Israel, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said.
“If this issue continues to fester, the Middle East will become more anti-American,” Brzezinski said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. “We are in the process of being pushed out” of the role as power broker in the region, he said, and “eventually Israel is going to be fatally threatened” if peace isn’t achieved.
“There is a way out” of the impasse, said Brzezinski, 83, who helped broker the Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt under President Jimmy Carter. The Obama administration, he said, should craft a United Nations resolution that satisfies both Israel and the Palestinians, and saves the administration from vetoing the Palestinians’ bid for statehood recognition at the UN.
An alternative U.S. resolution should welcome “the existence of a democratic Jewish state in Israel, explicitly, at the same time saying the Palestinians are entitled to something similar,” he said.
Negotiations should be resumed on the basis of 1967 borders, Brzezinski proposed. Such a statement, he said, is something the Israelis “could even vote for.”
Brzezinski, who was an early supporter of Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries, said the president has failed to play an active, direct role in the peace process, without which the two sides are incapable of coming to an agreement.

Arab Spring

Brzezinski suggested the so-called Arab Spring uprisings, which have so far ousted authoritarian leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, have altered the ability of the U.S. to exert influence in the strategically critical region.
The Middle East is the world’s largest oil-producing region and holds about two-thirds of proven global oil reserves, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
Polls show that the Israeli-Palestinian issue looms high in the minds of the Arab public, Brzezinski said, and U.S. credibility and authority will continue to wane until that issue is resolved.
“Until recently, we could ignore that because we dealt with the governments and not with the publics,” he said. “But now the publics are becoming more important.”
Brzezinski also criticized the Obama administration’s policy on Pakistan, saying that comments by the top U.S. military officer in congressional testimony last week linking Pakistan’s spy service to an extremist militant group is a dangerous diplomatic strategy.

Mullen Controversy

Admiral Mike Mullen, who retired yesterday as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Sept. 22 that the violent Haqqani network is a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence. Mullen blamed the Haqqani group, based in a tribal area of northern Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan, for the Sept. 13 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and other high- profile attacks in Afghanistan.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sept. 28 said the U.S. government is in the “final, formal” stage of reviewing whether to designate the Haqqani network as a terrorist organization, making it subject to sanctions.
Brzezinski warned that the administration’s public slap- down of Pakistan has “consequences.”
“If we are going to go down the path of publicly condemning them, we’d better think through how we’re going to play that game” to U.S. advantage, he said. “I’m not sure I see much evidence of that.”

Little Leverage

Brzezinski said the U.S. doesn’t “have much leverage” on the Pakistani government to rein in militant groups. “I’m not sure we have much strategy right now” for Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said.
Brzezinski, a native of Poland and a veteran Cold War-era policymaker, said he wasn’t surprised by the announcement that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will likely return to the presidency next year.
“Everybody knew that Putin was the real power” and current President Dmitry Medvedev is “just a front,” he said, adding that Putin’s prospective return eliminates hope for democratic reforms.
The killing yesterday of Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American radical cleric who was a charismatic leader in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was a “significant tactical breakthrough” in the administration’s campaign against the terrorist group, Brzezinski said. The U.S. says al-Awlaki was an inspiration for several attempted terror attacks on the U.S., including the Christmas 2009 attempted underwear bombing and the 2009 shootings at Fort Hood.

Progress on Al-Qaeda

Brzezinski said the U.S. appears to have little influence to compel Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to halt his violent crackdown on protests that begin in January.
“Our position in the Middle East is just declining so rapidly that it’s really appalling,” he said. Fifty years ago, “we had good relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey,” he said, while “we barely have a decent relationship with some of them now.”
“I deplore the fact that we don’t have a policy” toward the Middle East, he said. “As a consequence, we are in the process of being pushed out.”

Mideast Talks

The most urgent concern, he said, is Israeli-Palestinian peace. Given the history and geography of the dispute, “the two sides on their own will never reach agreement,” Brzezinski said. “Each side, of course, will always say the other side is guilty, doesn’t want really to negotiate” when “in fact, they can’t do it” given the complexity of the situation.
Peace talks broke down a year ago when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to renew a partial, 10-month moratorium on new construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says settlement expansion must be halted before talks resume.
Abbas filed a resolution for UN recognition of a Palestinian state on Sept. 23. Israel and the U.S. vehemently opposed the move, and the U.S. vowed to veto the measure, to the consternation of Arab allies who are supporting the Palestinians.
The U.S., the UN, the European Union and Russia -- the so- called Quartet for Middle East Peace -- responded to Abbas’s bid with a statement calling on both sides to return to direct talks within 30 days and come up with a peace deal within a year.
Obama has “not been willing to move up to the plate” and lead the two sides to a brokered agreement, Brzezinski said. Obama’s speech at the UN on Sept. 21 was “extremely limited” and appeared to validate only the Israeli side, he said.
“As a result, I think the issue is going to get worse rather than better,” Brzezinski said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Indira Lakshmanan in Washington at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at in Washington or

Will the Iranian regime ever do right?

The Iranian regime regularly serves reminders of its malevolence: its support for Hezbollah and Hamas terrorism, its killing of American troops in Iraq, its support for Bashar al-Assad's massacres of Syrian dissidents, its brutality to its own citizens during the Green Movement protests, or its persecution of religious minorities such as Bahais, Jews, Zoroastrians, and Christians.
In the latter category is the urgent case of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Christian pastor in the city of Rasht who this week was found guilty of the "crime" of apostasy for his conversion from Islam to Christianity. Under shari'a law apostasy is a capital offense. Knowing this, Pastor Nadarkhani on three consecutive days this week still refused before the court to renounce his Christian faith and return to Islam. Many reports indicate that Pastor Nadarkhani faces the very real possibility of execution.  Even if the court releases him, he would not be spared danger. Religious freedom advocates remember the cases of Iranian pastors such as Mehdi Dibaj (also a convert from Islam), Haik Hovsepian-Mehr, Tateos Michaelian, and Mohammad Bagher Yusefi who were all abducted and murdered in the 1990s, very likely by Iranian intelligence agents.
The White House, State Department, and Speaker of the House Boehner have all issued statements calling on the Iranian Government to spare Pastor Nadarkhani's life, as have other Members of Congress and world leaders such as British Foreign Minister William Hague. These are welcome steps and serve notice to Tehran -- which does care about its international image - that its oppression does not go unnoticed. There are several additional diplomatic measures that can be taken. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice should remonstrate with her Iranian counterpart at Turtle Bay, Mohammad Khazaee. Related, the Obama Administration can demonstrate the utility of America's renewed membership in the U.N. Human Rights Council by pushing in Geneva for an emergency Council resolution condemning Iran's treatment of Pastor Nadarkhani and calling for the preservation of his life and his immediate release. And though the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, the State Department can work to mobilize other nations that do -- such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany -- to issue protests through their embassies in Tehran. Finally, Obama and Clinton can speak out publicly and in person to call for Pastor Nadarkhani's release.
The Iranian Mission to the U.N.'s website rather audaciously proclaims that "as a founding member of the United Nations, Iran believes deeply in the ideals of the organization and the purposes and principles of its Charter." Would that it were so -- especially since Article 18 of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief."
Though he is just one man, Pastor Nadarkhani's case exemplifies the situation faced by many other Iranians of all faiths, who desire only to believe, worship, and live peaceably without the oppression of the state. As the world watches, will the regime in Tehran do right?

Hamas and Hezbollah: Libyan Weapons in Terrorists Hands

Egyptian authorities were just a tad too late to stop Hamas and Hezbollah (the former in Gaza, the latter in Lebanon) from gaining sophisticated Soviet surface to air missiles purchased from Libyan rebel generals looking for quick riches. Empty crates that normally carry the following weapons were found dumped near the border:
  • The SA-24s, which are portable air defense missiles with a range of 5.2 kilometers, and an operational ceiling of 3.5 kilometers with a Mach 2.3 speed.
Depending mainly on visual scanning, they can also be fired at night and are effective against fighter planes, armored helicopters, drones and diverse surface-to surface missiles, including cruise missiles.
  • SA-14 (Strela-3) is a small and very precise solid propellant guided missile with an improved system for overcoming countermeasures. Its range is 4.5 kilometers and operational ceiling 3 kilometers.
  • The SA-7 (Strela-2) has a 3.6 kilometer range, operational ceiling from 15 meters to 1.5 kilometers and Mach 1.75. It is the oldest of the weapons,yet against non-military planes can easily down aircraft.
  • Also found were empty crates that normally carried Russian-made MDM-3 sea mines of the same type Qaddafi scattered around ports to keep NATO vessels at bay in May.
While quantities did not amount to more than 15, the SA-24 can be reused and is comparable to the US Stinger. It only takes a few of them to cause havoc for civilian airliners. It seems that the Middle East may be on the edge of another war.

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