Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another ex Gitmo detainee hits the big time. Named Capo.

From Long War Journal

Two new Taliban promotions due to missile strikage:

Mullah Abdul Qayum Zakir and Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansur have been named by Omar to replace Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a Taliban operative named Abu Zabihullah told Newsweek.

Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Mansur served as the Minister of Civil Aviation and Transportation during Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001. He is known to be active in the narcotics trade in Khost, Paktika, and Paktia provinces, according to Interpol. In March 2007, Mansur was appointed the Taliban's shadow governor of Kandahar, one of the top Taliban leadership positions.

Zakir is a former detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility who was released by the US in December 2007 and sent to Afghanistan, where he was subsequently released by the Afghan government. Zakir, whose real name is Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, quickly rejoined the Taliban and took over operations in the strategic Afghan South.

The Taliban welcomed Zakir back into the fold, and he was appointed the leader of the Gerdi Jangal Regional Military Shura, a regional military command that oversees operations in Helmand and Nimroz provinces.

The Taliban designated Zakir as their “surge commander”; he has been assigned the task of countering the Coalition and Afghan surge of forces and change of strategy to deny the Taliban safe haven in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar. Zakir is considered
to be one of the Afghan Taliban’s fiercest and most committed commanders.

The long and short of it. The Crime Family is losing under bosses and capos like nobody's business. They are even having to promote the Taliban equivalent of...REMFs??

Yes! Well. Maybe:

Mansur "is known be a key rear-echelon logistics man, helping to move financing, arms, and other equipment from Pakistan into the field and assisting in the evacuation of the wounded," Newsweek reported. "He also has important contacts with financial sources in the oil-rich Persian Gulf nations."

Look before you leap

In the heat of a campaign season, promising to take the allegedly higher moral ground by closing Gitmo, and using civilian trials where possible, granting habeas rights..it all sounds well and good, and is bound to find favor with various ACLU types, but it does bring with it a host of bad LUC* problems.

*Law of Unintended Consequences

Case in point, two items of news today:

U.S. may expand use of its prison in Afghanistan

If you close Gitmo, you have to either release detainees on U.S. soil, release to countries that agree to take them, or keep them imprisoned, just somewhere else than sunny Cuba.

Well, some countries that agree to take detainees astonishingly lose track of them, and they somehow or another find their ways back into business, killing Americans and allies, and/or terrorizing civilians. Yemini remember that?

Other countries simply don't want anything to do with the ex-detainees. So, when you (or our federal judges) do decide to release such pleasant individuals as Mohamedou Ould Salahi there is the slight problem of figuring out what to do with them. There is no modern Botany Bay with which to send them on their merry ways. [Oops. I meant Botany Bay to send them TO.] So, what better than to open up something like Gitmo East? Just ship 'em off to indefinite detention in Bagram Afghanistan. Right?


From the LAT story:

That the option of detaining suspects captured outside Afghanistan at Bagram is being contemplated reflects a recognition by the Obama administration that it has few other places to hold and interrogate foreign prisoners without giving them access to the U.S. court system, the officials said.

Without a location outside the United States for sending prisoners, the administration must resort to turning the suspects over to foreign governments, bringing them to the U.S. or even killing them.

Bringing them to the U.S. brings with it the attendant risk that legal firms that are eager to help the Jihadis, and equally as eager to aid their communications, and give them contact with the outside world, will have a much easier time gaining access to them. Bagram has the advantage of being very far away, even farther than Gitmo. So not so many worries that direction, maybe even less.

Yet, even so, detainees at Gitmo or Bagram have the right to file habeas claims, or very well could if the administration's appeal of a recent decision doesn't take. Once again, from LAT:

In April 2009, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates ruled that detainees captured outside Afghanistan and shipped to Bagram could seek court review of their detention, like prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Bates' ruling allowed the detainees to file habeas corpus petitions seeking their freedom.

Bates put his ruling on hold after the administration filed an appeal, to the chagrin of human rights groups who said it conflicted with Obama's pledge to overhaul George W. Bush-era detention policies. If the original ruling is upheld, it would undermine a key legal justification for using Bagram.

What is more, General McCrystal is planning on handing Bagram over to the Afghans in January, and he doesn't want to set off any PR nightmares in Afghanistan by delaying that handover, given that the prison, like Abu Graib, was the site of some alleged prisoner abuses early in the Afghan war. In any case, no sensible U.S. President would hand over a person like Salahi in the circumstance of the prison being in Afghan control.

So, what do you do if you're Obama? There is little choice but to eliminate the necessity of making such choices. Kill instead of capture:

Without a location outside the United States for sending prisoners, the administration must resort to turning the suspects over to foreign governments, bringing them to the U.S. or even killing them.

In one case last year, U.S. special operations forces killed an Al Qaeda-linked suspect named Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan in a helicopter attack in southern Somalia rather than trying to capture him, a U.S. official said. Officials had debated trying to take him alive but decided against doing so in part because of uncertainty over where to hold him, the official added.

That would seem to be the choice of the administration when dealing with Al Qaeda in other parts of the world (Pakistan in particular, whose secretive Islamists are seeing a veritable downpour of lethal weaponry from the skies.)

As a general strategy, kill-the-bastards certainly has its attractive elements, but one crucial negative element is that dead Jihadis are not particularly rich sources of intelligence.

Consider a counterfactual March 1 of 2003, with the present legal/moral/political atmosphere surrounding AQ enemy combatants. Assume we had KSM in our sites, but had to choose to capture or kill, in that environment. What would we have done?

Well, thinking it out, assume we capture, we would likely choose not to use EIT against him, nor to farm out the interrogations. Nor would we be so sure where to park his rather large butt. He might have ended up in Gitmo, maybe Bagram or some equivalent, maybe even Illinois. And what of habeas worries? Would it be worth years of such wrangling to take him? Maybe, but in that circumstance we would have been very careful with him, and it is likely that he would not have coughed up the amount of intelligence we now know he did cough up.

Knowing all this, we would probably have chosen to kill the bastard, just as was done in the case of Nabhan.

Los Angeles Library Tower.

AIPAC 2010 Clinton, then Netanyahu

Each is in multiple parts. The Netenyahu video is buggy, but well worth the effort of watching. A spirited defense of Israel.

The sun at a wavelength of 6562.8 angstroms. Stunning

Bad day for one popular veggie greenie argument.

What with the popularity of the AGW scare of late, one of the most proffered arguments against consumption of meat is that animal husbandry creates more greenhouse gasses than would be the case if humans went vegan. Those who advocate we should stop eating tasty animals have latched on to this avenue of argumentation as a leading wedge. In fact at one time I recall a proposal to tax methane emissions from farms. Yep, cow fart taxes.

Well, maybe not..

Eating less meat and dairy products won’t have major impact on global warming

Key graph:

The focus of confronting climate change, he said, should be on smarter farming, not less farming. "The developed world should focus on increasing efficient meat production in developing countries where growing populations need more nutritious food. In developing countries, we should adopt more efficient, Western-style farming practices to make more food with less greenhouse gas production,” Mitloehner said.

Like it or not, factory farming is efficient, and provides a food source to which the human race is physiologically adapted. We are omnivores, not herbivores. Dentition, and digestive tract bear that out.

What is more, we see that a UN study, the 2006 United Nations report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” employed some creative book keeping in order to make its case that livestock account for 18% of world CO2 emissions. Seems the august body counted any and all CO2 produced during every stage of the process of meat provision, including growing of feed, transport, processing meat and milk into food, while when it tallied CO2 from the transportation sector it only counted emissions from folks driving cars, trucks, etc.. What about emissions created in the process of manufacturing cars, or extraction and shipping of raw materials? How about emissions caused by the process of dispensing with old beaters? Nah. That isn't important.

Massaging of data by a U.N. study related to global warming? Say it ain't so Joe.

Tuesday Blues: Corey Harris, Taj Mahal, Sittin' on top of the World