Sunday, March 27, 2011
Drone Company “Coaches” Colombian War on Drugs, Terror
Sun, March 27, 2011 | link
Secret Cable Raises Questions About U.S. High-tech Mercenaries
(IRIS) -- Under the cover of a remote jungle canopy in Colombia, terrorists quietly get into a truck.
Then, a bomber suddenly swoops in and obliterates all 30 men in a cloud of fire and smoke. Elsewhere in the Colombian jungle,
workers load up two trucks with coca when a helicopter gun ship appears out of nowhere and fills the scene and people with
bullet holes. The survivors flee in all directions, but their escape routs are noted. And a coca-loaded boat speeds down a
twisting brown river right into the hands of a police checkpoint.
These are the anti-terror and drug
missions of the unmanned aerial vehicle or drone “ScanEagle” in Columbia according to a secret diplomatic cable by U.S. Ambassador William
He describes it as a four-foot-wide drone that flies like a spec in the sky, loitering for 15 hours
at a time on just a few gallons of fuel. A guy is on the ground holding a joystick and using the drone to survey people on
the ground in real time. More details about the drone are available at http://www.insitu.com/ according to Wood.
But the Colombians couldn’t do this on their own. They were using a United States corporation to play a key roll in calling the
shots on its domestic war operations.
“Colombian operators still depend on support
from Boeing coaches,” Wood wrote about Boeing, the U.S. aerospace company. “U.S. training will be extended
until the Colombians become capable of operating on their own.”
A video from www.insitu.com shows
how precise an operation it is, with black trucks speeding to the scene and men in black outfits launching these little surveillance
vehicles for “customers.” The drones can even be launched and retrieved by contractors at sea using a hook and
At the time of the secret cable and the Colombian operation there was one
problem: The range of these UAV’s was extremely limited with only a 70-mile transmission distance according to Wood’s
cable. That would mean the U.S. corporate coaches needed to be close by, spending many hours helping to fight terrorists and
Despite the limitations, Wood made the case that the U.S. coaches are having
big success, allowing Colombian high maintenance military assets like helicopters and boats to sit idle until they are needed.
In the Colombian combat operations, the ‘coaches’ from Boeing may qualify as new-age,
high-tech mercenaries under the Geneva Convention.
It depends on who paid them, the U.S. or Colombia and how much.
Under the convention, they would
have to be people who take part in an armed conflict, who are not a national or a party to the Colombian conflict and are
"motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and are paid more than combatants
of similar function in the armed forces of that Party" (Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Convention of
August 1949.) The
cable doesn't specify how much they were paid and by whom.
Regardless, Boeing is a corporation with private financial motivations in all the conflicts where it is
involved. And there are many. This kind of use of UAV’s by military in combat was in aggressive growth in 2006. That
year, for the first time "ScanEagle" logged 10,000 combat flight hours.
Colombian program was in its infancy in 2006 according to the Wood cable, and despite the powerful impacts of the missions,
Boeing’s UAV’s weren’t part of the Colombian military operational commanders’ planning yet. Wood urged
“aggressive” use of the UAV program by the Colombian Military to be effective. He said the Colombian military
was in the process of developing a “joint doctrine” for using the UAV’s. Meanwhile, Boeing would continue
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Clinton Ordered Secret Islamic Society Investigation
Wed, March 23, 2011 | link
(IRIS) -- Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton was keenly interested in how to gain entry to a secret Islamic society known as the Tarikat. Enough
so to launch a secret U.S. State Department investigation into what some Turks consider an extremist group.
In the cable released today by Wikileaks, Clinton asks a source in Ankara for inside information about the “secretive Islamic Tarikat
Tarikat is also known as Tarīqas, and on the surface it looks like an organization to spread Islam but it exists in all corners of the Muslim world, and to
say the least it often exercises a degree of political influence inordinate to their size.
In fact, its
influence runs so deep, it was outlawed and forced underground in Turkey (www.geopolitics.gr/PDF/art-imaz-tur02en.pdf)
The State Department didn’t
want the pending investigation to be widely-known. Clinton’s request was classified as “Secret,” and she
wanted answers as time and “present workload permit.”
There were four sensitive questions.
The first two are mundane and the final two imply interest in infiltrating the organization.
department wanted to know what are the strongest brotherhoods in Turkey in terms of numbers and political strength. Then,
how is the Tarikat connected with political action including voting preferences.
Those are very
mundane questions. Less mundane is question number three in which the State Department wants to know how someone can become
a member of the group. Not only did the department want to know how to become a member, but how outsiders can approach it
to join, if they must be invited by a member and how Tarikats deal with each other and why. That question implies interest
on the part of the State Department to have representatives enter this secret society.
Finally, the State
Department wanted to know if the most prominent members charged with carrying out an agenda.
The fact that
the State Department wanted to know how to enter this powerful underground society in Turkey is interesting enough. However,
what is even more interesting, is that the Department may have been shut out by its informant. The Department made the request
in July, 2009. Since then, there are no responses to the questions released so far by Wikileaks. Finding answers to those
questions may prove harder than anticipated.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Sun, March 13, 2011 | link
(IRIS) -- A couple of friends
of mine recently asked how to visit Las Vegas. One is thinking of living there, the other, Kasey wants tips on kids, to what
to see, how to walk to Thomas and Mack for a concert and how to approach the city over just 3 days. Here is what I wrote back
to Kasey, covering the highlights that I have learned over the past 7 years of living there.
Hi Kasey! Good to hear from you. I would watch your kids for you but we don't live there
anymore. We are in Reno now. So, I really wouldn't recommending bringing your kids at all to Vegas at all. Day care is really
hard to find. I would suggest asking a friend where you live to take care of your kid.
The closest hotel to Thomas
and Mack is the Hard Rock, but that is not on the strip. The closest strip hotel is Tropicana and MGM Grand. Tropicana might
be pretty cheap as well. The Imperial Palace has really really cheap rooms right now too.
Walking from the strip
to the Thomas and mac I think it is two miles at least. I have walked before but it is really boring. Cabs aren't too expensive.
I would take one to get there, and then walk back because the cab line from the Thomas and Mac might be really really really
long (like a 45 min wait). Its safe to walk. Just walk along Tropicana (street).
Thomas and Mac is a good concert
venue. I have been there a bunch. I think the floor is the best because there is no room to move in the stands. The drawback
is that you will probably be far away from the concessions.
If you are looking for things to do, you can call up
Pink Jeep Tours. They take you around to neat places. You can go to Valley of Fire, Hoover Dam and Red Rock.
downtown too and hang around on Fremont street. It's pretty cool. And if you get tired of the strip, go up to Mountain Springs.
There is a neat biker bar there.
to the strip, ride up the Eiffel Tower. Its a really neat view at night. During the day, you will want to go up the
Stratosphere. There is some history and great views of what vegas is really like, just a place in the middle of absolutely
You can see the tigers in MGM Grand too. You will be walking a lot, and it is really easy to get stuck
in just one hotel because you sit and gamble and drink. So try to keep moving. Sign up for player's club cards in the hotels
and you will get free stuff like buffets. Only play the free play that they give you and no more. Look for machines that have
really high visibility and ones with signs that say 98 or 99 percent pay-back. If you sign up for player's club cards in every
hotel you go to, you might just eat for free the entire time. Plus, you will get offers for free rooms in the mail when you
leave. I get offers every month.
As you walk
around, remember that almost all of the architecture and statues in Vegas are made out of foam with stucco on the outside.
Here are some of the real entertainment: I would
also see the show "O" inside the Bellagio. It's great for kids and it will blow your mind. Buy the tickets while
you are there. If you want to make an evening out of "O," eat outside at Monami Gabi across the street where you
can watch the fountains. The food is fantastic and it is one of the only places you can people watch and experience the fountains
while sitting and eating. Eiffel tower restaurant is good for that too. Don't buy your tickets on the Internet. There
is a kiosk on the strip near the Peppermill that sells tickets for half price. If you want a sexier show, check out Zumanity.
Its pretty crazy and neat. Both shows are worth it and you will never forget them.
And one last thing about safety. The strip is very safe. Your biggest danger there is yourself.
Stay out of North Las Vegas (unless it is the far north part) and if you go downtown, don't walk around outside of Fremont
street. You can go down Fremont East a little way, but not too far. There is also the neon boneyard which is a neat place
to see old vegas signs during the day. You can walk down Las Vegas boulevard between downtown and the strip, but its a little
sketchy (very few people and very dark at night).
Try not to use credit cards in small businesses. There is a high
rate of identity theft.
I hope that helps! Let me know how it goes.