December 22, 2011, midday

It's official -- Pakistani government does not control the army or ISI.

On Wednesday, December 21, 2011, the Pakistan Ministry of Defense told the Supreme Court that it had no operational control over the armed forces and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). President Asif Ali Zardari has chosen to remain silent regarding the issue before the Supreme Court. Zardari wrote a letter delivered to Admiral Michael Mullen, in which he apparently requested US military aid in ousting the Pakistani military leadership, promising to replace them with more pro-US officials. This letter was delivered to Mullen, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by a Pakistani-American businessman, days after Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Special Forces in Abbottabad.

Who is running Pakistan? Apparently, the civilian government has lost control. Perhaps part of the mission to kill bin Laden was to be paid for by some special U.S. support for Zardari against Pakistan’s Army and ISI.  Now, it appears Zardari is now dangling in a cold breeze.  Obama has stopped the drone program over Pakistan and apparently has abandoned Zardari.

The U.S. is out of Iraq only a few days, and civil war is virtually erupting.

On Wednesday, December 21, 2011, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rejected reconciliation with factions splitting within his coalition, insisting that anyone who withdraws from his coalition must also “withdraw permanently from the state an all its institutions.”

On December 19, Maliki ordered the arrest of Vice President Tareq Hashemi as a “terrorist” for allegedly employing assassination squads against public leaders, in the form of his bodyguards. Hashemi went into hiding in Kurdistan. Kurdish sections withdrew from Maliki’s collation to protest the attempted arrest. Maliki’s collation in parliament has failed, therefore new elections should be called, until a new majority is formed. Malki is not doing this; instead, he is centralizing control over the military and national police. 

The Iraqiy party beat Maliki’s State of Law Party in the last elections and is now trying to get a majority with Kurdish support to take over parliament. The last election was so uncertain it lead to months of “interim government”, and no bloc formed a majority. The U.S. and Iranian officials pressed that Maliki be kept in power as a compromise. Now, Iraqiya has called the National Alliance, the other Shi’ite political bloc to nominate a replacement for Maliki. Iraqiy’s leader Ayad Allawi asserts that Maliki is trying be a dictator. Given Hashemi's arrest, it is likely that anyone who opposes Maliki also faces arrest.  Maliki is demanding that the Kurdistan Regional government turn over Hashemi, but the KRG has its own armed forces and will not do so. If Maliki fights them with troops, civil war may ensue.

Now that the U.S. has pulled out of Iraq, it has the problem of ensuring the safety of 11,000 people working in the embassy and consulates. In charge of security of diplomats are the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) and the CIA’s Office of Security (OS) regarding its officers, The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is a 104-acre compound in Baghdad’s Green Zone. The size of the compound provides significant standoff distance from the perimeter to the interior buildings. It was constructed in accordance with security specifications set forth in the US. State Department’s Standard Embassy Design program, established by the Inman Commission in 1985, in response to the U.S. Embassy bombings in Beirut.

5,000 security contractors also work in the embassy. Most of these are third-country nationals who provide perimeter security for the embassy and consulates. 500 to 700 contract security guards, many of whom are Americans, provide personal security to diplomats, aid workers and other embassy or consulate personnel when they leave the compound. A team of OS contract security officers, funded by the CIA, protects CIA officers when they leave the compound.

200 DSS special agents now oversee U.S. security operations at the embassy. Inside the outside walls of the chancery building there is an additional ring of physical security measures called the “hardline,” protected by a company of U.S. Marines, to protect the most sensitive area, and provide a safe haven fallback defensive position for embassy personnel.

The biggest threat to American personnel is when they travel out of the compound. The worst threat to the compound is mob violence. If the mob is big enough and violent enough, using sledgehammers or incendiary devices, hardly any facility can withstand prolonged assault.

In November 1979, a mob stormed the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and lit a fire that almost burned the staff alive as they hid in the safe haven area.

Ultimately, the key to safety of the U.S. Embassy rests in the power of the Iraqi government. However, in Kuwait, the Brigade Combat Team from the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division and the Marine Expeditionary Unit are stationed for the foreseeable future. The U.S. still maintains a secret area at the Baghdad airport. Rescue of 16,000 embassy personnel by U.S. troops is possible but would take precious time.

On Thursday, December 22, 2011, 14 bombs exploded across Baghdad. 63 people were killed and 185 injured. Obviously, U.S. forces left Iraq on Sunday leaving a security vacuum.

The U.S. and Iraq cobbled together a political settlement after Saddam Hussein’s downfall. Shia Iraqis, 60% of the population, got the prime minister position. The Presidency went to a Kurd. The speakership of parliament and vice-presidency went to a Sunni Arab. Maliki is now breaking this settlement down and trying for dictatorship only days after U.S. troops left. He wants a Shia government. But the Sunni Arabs comprise 20 per cent of the population and fueled the insurgency after Saddam fell. Only when Sunnis were included in the government did the violence begin to end. Sunnis could return to violent attacks to assert themselves. Sunni ministers have pledged to boycott cabinet meetings. Several Sunni provinces have now claimed autonomy. The bombers who just destabilized the country, reached all corners of Baghdad, bypassing the checkpoints manned by Iraqi police.  Maliki's police are ineffective.

On Thursday, Maliki met with U. S. Army chief of staff, General Ray Odierno.  Previously he spoke with CIA Director David Petraeus.  Maliki told the media that the bombers are Sunnis still seeking power.  The Sunnis no longer control towns and cities.

Manning's attorney abandons the innocent man defense, and pleads for 30 years max. 
Gender identity is at issue regarding mitigation.

Pfc. Bradley Manning’s defense counsel David Coombs put aside his client's claim of innocence on the last day of his Section 32 hearing at Fort Meade and argued that Manning was overcharged to pressure him into a guilty plea.

Coombs urged the investigating officer Lt. Col. Paul Almanza to recommend dismissing the aiding the enemy charge and to combine the other 21 charges into only three that would carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. Each of the charges against Manning carries a 10 year maximum punishment and if convicted of all of these Manning would face 150 years in prison. Coombs asked for the dismissal of all the Article 92 offenses which involve breaking the information assurance rules. Because Manning’s unit did not enforce a standard regarding unauthorized downloading of software to his work computers, Combs stated that charging him with violating these rules “smacks in the face of justice.”

Combs argued, “Provide the United States Government with something that it needs and that is a reality check. Make a recommendation that tells them that they have overcharged in this case. The government has overcharged in this case and it appears they have done so in order to strong arm a plea from my client.”

Coombs is at this point, working to avoid life without parole. He said, “Thirty years is more than sufficient as a maximum punishment in this case…30 years ago, my client was not even born.”

Coombs also argued that the prosecution exaggerated the harm from the trove of cables and reports leaked to WikiLeaks and that Manning was emotionally troubled, as a result of gender identity disorder and the military failed to supervise him.

“The evidence in this case is overwhelming,” prosecutor Capt. Ashden Fein said. “Pfc. Manning had actual knowledge that what he gave to WikiLeaks would end up in the hands of the enemy.” To prove his point, he played video issued in June in which American Adam Gadahn, from Sahab, an Al Qaeda media outlet, showed an image of the WikiLeaks site, stating, “In the West, you’ve got a lot at your disposal.”

The prosecution, however, threw its hardest punches. asserting at the allegation of aiding the enemy, which carries a sentence of life without parole, is justified because information Manning leaked is already in the possession of Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and other terrorist groups.

“Pfc. Manning was a U.S. Army intelligence analyst who we trained and trusted,” Fein argued. “He used that training to defy our trust and disseminate and systematically harvest over 700,000 documents from SIPRNET.”

Fein showed 15 pages of chats allegedly between the Army intelligence analyst and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He also showed three chat logs onscreen allegedly between Manning and Assange discussing uploading JTF-GITMO documents — classified assessment reports about Guantanamo Bay detainees. The chats referred to two U.S. State Department cables about Reykjavik, Iceland, and included Manning’s request for help to crack a password so he could long onto his work SIPRNET computer anonymously. Manning asked “Frank” aka Assange, if he had experience cracking IM NT hashes (a misspelling – Manning probably meant NTLM for the Microsoft NT LAN Manager). “Frank” replied yes, that they had “rainbow tables” for doing that. Manning then sent him back looked like a hash.

Fein added that the State Department server logs showed Manning’s classified work computer accessed the State Department server 794,000 times in order to steal more than 250,000 cables that WikiLeaks subsequently published. The government, Fein said, had minute-to-minute records of Manning’s searches of the Pentagon’s classified intranet SIPRNET, and had direct evidence he uploaded documents to WikiLeaks.

Authorities say that on March 8, 2010 at 1:42am while Manning was working the nightshift in the SCIF, he burned the JTF-GITMO documents to a CD and immediately thereafter began uploading them to WikiLeaks.

In a chat with “Nathaniel Frank,” an alias the prosecution says Manning gave to Julian Assange, Manning, as “Nobody” wrote:

Nobody: Anyway I’m throwing everything I got on JTF-FTMO at you know . . . should take a while to get up thought

Nathaniel Frank: Ok great

Nobody: Uploaded about 36 pct

Nathaniel Frank: ETA?

Nobody: 11-12 hours, guessing since it’s been going 6 already.

Almanz will make his recommendation about whether Manning should face a general court marital, special court martial or some lesser punishment by June 16. The commander of the Military District of Washington, Maj. Gen. Michael Linnington, will make the final decision.

Matt Williams of the UK Guardian covered Manning’s emotional issues raised during Coombs final argument:

Coombs highlighted Manning’s suffering from gender identity disorder. He said the term is an “unfortunate term” because it is “not a disorder.” “When a person looks in the mirror and they do not feel that the person they are looking at is the gender they are, that’s not a disorder. That’s reality.”

A heart wrenching and profound email to Sgt. Paul Adkins from Manning was read. “This is my problem. I’ve had signs of it for a very long time. I’ve been trying very, very hard to get rid of it.” It is not going away. It is haunting me more and more as I get older. Now the consequences are getting harder. “I am not sure what to do with it. It’s destroying my ties with family. It is preventing me from developing as a person. . . . It’s the cause of my pain and confusion, and it turns the most basic things in my life to be very difficult.” He said the only help that seems available is severe punishment. “I have a fear of getting caught” and have gone to “great lengths to conceal my disorder.”

The email continued, it is difficult to sleep and impossible to have conversations. It makes “my entire life feel like a bad dream that won’t end. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what will happen to me. But at this point I feel like I am not here anymore. Signed, Bradley Manning.”

“That’s the letter Adkins received and did nothing in response to it,” Coombs said.

Coombs highlighted a journal of Manning’s with a simple entry that included the statement, “I may have gender identity issues.” He discussed several articles Manning downloaded, one of them being “Transexuals in the Military: Flight into Hypermasculinity,” written in 1988 by a captain in the US Air Force. He read an excerpt indicating soldiers would join the service to “become a real man.” And, “I joined the military as a cover. In a uniform, my masculinity would never be questioned.”

His virtual identity—Breanna Manning—was alluded to once more, as Coombs said, “If only life were so simple, that you could press a button and solve your problems.”

“He struggled in isolation but he did not struggle in silence. We have multiple locations where the struggle that he was enduring came to the surface,” Coombs explained. “It is the military’s lack of response to that which also smacks in the face of justice, as NCOs are the backbone of the US Army.”

Citing his fourteen years of service with the military, he said NCOs are to be “enforcers of the standards” and this is one thing that makes the US Army different from any army in the world. Yet, from the highest ranking officer on down to the most junior officer, nothing was done.

Coombs then read off quotes from three memos Adkins wrote on Manning’s “mental instability” and emotional problems. In one of the memos from 2009, he wrote Manning was “salvageable” if he participated in psychiatric therapy, took medication and received treatment. Another memo described finding Manning sitting upright with his knees tucked toward his chin by a folding chair with cut marks. Etched in the seat by a knife were the words, “I want.”

Coombs explained Manning was not in immediate danger of hurting himself. He felt that he was not there, and not a person. He said the person . . . He also drew the analogy of his personality being “layers of an onion.”

Again, Adkins did nothing.

“What was the result of these leaks?” Coombs asked. It would be possible to know if the original classification authorities (OCAs) had been in court to testify. They were not. They instead submitted “unsworn statements” indicating “relevant information could cause harm.”

“Why are we considering whether this could cause harm” when it is out in public? It hasn’t caused harm, Coombs said. Why would the OCAs continue to say they could cause harm? Because they are reinforcing the “chicken little response of the US government.”

In the beginning it was [Pentagon spokesperson] Geoff Morrell going around with a Chicken Little response that “the sky is falling, the sky is falling. It was reinforced last week with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying the sky is falling, the sky is falling.

“The sky is not falling and the sky will not fall,” declared Coombs.

“If the OCAs or Secretary Clinton wish to insist so, let them come in under the penalties of perjury and say so.” He added he would enjoy that cross-examination.

Finally, he concluded with a poetic summation of what has been said of his client. He was young and he was idealistic.

“He was a young man with a strong moral compass. And obviously in your early twenties, you believe you can change the world,” Coombs said. “In your early twenties, you believe you can make a difference and that’s a good thing. In your early twenties, when your president says, ‘Yes We Can,’ you actually believe that.”

Coombs mentioned the government’s overreaction, insisting there is “extreme harm.” Saying Manning must pay with this life, is “definitely overreacting.”

He concluded, a “hallmark of our democracy is the ability of our government to be open with its public.” He said “sunlight has always been the best disinfectant.”

“History will ultimately judge my client,” Coombs declared. He then read a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. uttered forty-eight years ago: “An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

Pausing for a moment, Coombs ended, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

He turned away from the podium and went to sit down. The prosecution then approached to begin their closing argument.………………..

N. Korea's nuke export business and the babysitters of the son, Kim Jong Un.

Will the son Kim Jong Un continue N. Korea’s nuclear weapons export business?

It is believed that N. Korea exported nuclear technology to Syria, Iran and possible elsewhere. Syria’s Al-Kibar nuclear reactor, bombed by Israeli warplanes in 2007, resembled a N. Korean facility used to produce plutonium for bombs. It is rumored that N. Korean technicians were killed in that bombing.

N. Korea has been sharing missile technology with Iran. It is unknown whether N. Korea is assisting Iran’s nuclear program. N. Korea has no ideological commitment to Iran and Syria, but is profit-driven.

The trading situation may be that N. Korean state trading companies set up branch offices in mainland China, which then contract private Chinese firms to send purchase order to European companies to obtain sell dual-use technology such as industrial tool and dye equipment. The Chinese firms then transport these goods back into N. Korea. Private Chinese firms can also move goods through Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and onward to Middle East clients. The huge volume of China trade makes it virtually impossible for the Chinese government to control all of N. Korea's moves.

The Proliferation Security Initiative, launched in 2003 by a voluntary group of nations cooperating to prevent the shipment of nukes, has been effective against N. Korea. Several N. Korean shipments of missile and WMD components on a Belize-flagged N. Korean vessel were turned around by the U.S. Navy in June.

The key man to watch in N. Korea now is Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho, chief of the General Staff in Pyongyang and, like Kim Jong Un, also a chairman of the Central Military Committee, the key military policymaking body in the country. According to Time Magazine, December 22, 2011:

Ri, 69, is a third-generation elite who over the years established a close relationship with Kim Jong Il, and over the past two years was photographed at various public events seated alongside the late Dear Leader. He is also said to be close to Kim's sister as well as his brother-in-law Chang Sung Taek, the man who some believe is now Kim Jong Un's "regent," the power behind the throne who will be calling the shots. Ri is also a graduate of the Kim Il Sung Military Academy, as is Kim Jong Un. Diplomats and intelligence analysts believe there is no scenario under which the young Kim could have been elevated to the position of successor over the past two years without the brass's approval. "He's there because the military officials believe they can control him, at least for several years, and there's no other institution that can hold the place together," says an East Asia–based intelligence official. On Thursday, in fact, Reuters — quoting an unnamed official with "close ties" to Beijing and Pyongyang — reported that a "collective leadership'' arrangement has already been agreed to by Kim Jong Un and top military officials. (TIME has been unable to confirm this.) "The military has pledged its allegiance to Kim Jong Un," Reuters quoted its source as saying.

Most likely, that is vice versa. The military's powerful position in North Korean society can hardly be overestimated. Not only is it the overseer of the country's nuclear program — the ultimate guarantor of Pyongyang's security — but it is also its largest employer. There are over 1.1 million soldiers in the KPA's five branches, or nearly 20% of the male population between the ages of 17 and 54. It is also, therefore, the country's most powerful economic entity, the largest consumer of goods in the country as well as an exporter of missiles and nuclear technology via the shadowy Second Economic Committee, run by a man about whom little is known in the outside word — Park Se Bong — except for his reputed close ties with the ruling Kim clan. "Again, the boy would not be in this position if people like Park had strenuously objected," says the intelligence source. "People are reacting too much to the so-called suddenness of Kim Jong Il's death. This is a guy who had a severe stroke three years ago. For a while there, he looked like death warmed over. The idea that the regime didn't have its ducks in a row, that everyone assumed the Dear Leader was going to be around for another decade or more, doesn't withstand scrutiny. And the regime very much includes the military."

China is hacking into U.S. drone technology.

It appears the Sykipot computer virus infiltrated the U.S. drone fleet. This malware may have originated in China. Mathew J. Schwartz of Information Week reports the virus was designed with the sole purpose of sealing UAV data using a “zero-day” vulnerability in Adobe Reader. A zero-day attack occurs when a vulnerability is unknown to a software developer and it is somehow shared among attackers who exploit the vulnerability before the developer puts a patch in place. The Sykipot virus was inserted into military's network using infected PDF files. It targeted information on the Boeing X-45 unmanned combat air system and the Boeing X-37 orbital vehicle. The most recent Sykipot attack began in August 2011.A variant of the same virus attack occurred in 2006, using clouded script files, taking advantage of an Internet Explorer vulnerability. Both versions of Sykipot used Netbox servers, 80 percent of which are located in China. Error messages were in Mandarin.

Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day?
William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date
Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometimes declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

                                                    Vallotton, The Pianist