Target Centermass

9/5/2006

Danish Antiterror Police Seize 9 Men, Mostly Young Muslims

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:58 pm

Although it seems progress that the New York Times even included a mention of the suspects’ religion — you know, that peaceful one — in its headline, one must admit puzzlement at their “mostly” qualifier. Are they using it to draw a line on young or on Muslim? After all, the story that follows quickly points out the age range and religion of all the arrested men [emphasis added].

The Danish security police arrested nine suspects on Tuesday on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack after surveillance showed that several of the men had collected bomb-making material, Justice Minister Lene Espersen said.

An antiterror squad carried out a raid in Vollsmose, a poor immigrant district in Odense, at 2 a.m. The suspects appeared at a closed hearing on Tuesday, where two were released and the others were charged with plotting acts of terrorism.

No details of a plot were released. Investigators said it was too early to know how far the suspects’ plans had progressed. “With the general terror situation, the Danish Security Intelligence Service didn’t want to run any unnecessary risk,” said Lars Findsen, the service’s director general.

Ms. Espersen said that nearly all nine were Danish citizens, and that Denmark was their likely target.

“This is what is most alarming: these are Danish citizens living in Denmark that have been plotting a terror attack in Denmark,” she said. Danish intelligence officials said the men were between 18 and 35 and were Muslims who appeared to have been recently radicalized. Nearly all lived in Vollsmose, which has 10,000 residents representing more than a dozen nationalities, and has grappled with youth violence, high unemployment and difficulties integrating its large Muslim community.

Politiken, a leading Danish newspaper, reported that of the nine arrested, five are of Palestinian origin, one is of Kurdish origin, one is a Danish convert to Islam and two are natives of Iraq.

Many young Muslims here were alienated by the publication in a Danish newspaper of caricatures lampooning the Prophet Muhammad. In response, Danish embassies were set ablaze in Muslim countries and Danish goods were boycotted.

Anti-Muslim sentiment has grown, as well, with the rise of the anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party, which holds 13 percent of the seats in Parliament. Its members have compared Muslims to “cancer cells.”

Imam Abu Bashar, a Muslim cleric in Odense, told The Associated Press that he feared Denmark might become a terrorist target because Osama bin Laden said he would punish the countries that have troops in Iraq.

“Denmark is on the list,” Imam Bashar said. “I am afraid of the message of Osama bin Laden, that he will do something against Denmark.”

Of course Denmark is on the target list for the radical Islamist. As a tip to the reader, the list reads as follows: the Earth.

As to the misleading headline, it may be a matter of a story evolving faster than a headline, or a case of sloppy headline writing that will soon be corrected. In any case, I elected to go ahead and grab a screen cap for kicks (click for larger version).

Mostly(?) Young Muslims

9/2/2006

DMN to Rumsfeld: Do As We Say

Filed under: — Gunner @ 8:48 pm

… not as we do.

The lead editorial in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News was a scathing admonition to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld which accused him of playing politics with the war in Iraq.

Trying to put wind into the flagging sails of their Iraq policy, President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld played good cop-bad cop in speeches to the American Legion convention this week. Yesterday Mr. Bush said of war critics, “Many of these folks are sincere and they’re patriotic, but they could not be more wrong.” But two days before, Mr. Rumsfeld portrayed journalists as fifth columnists and compared the administration’s opponents to appeasers of Adolf Hitler.

Given how badly the war is going and how even some leading conservatives are publicly questioning our mission in Iraq, the president has no choice but to go on the rhetorical offensive. But the defense secretary’s crude speech was, to put it with extreme delicacy, not helpful to the cause.

Invoking Hitler is designed not to invite understanding but to obscure it for the sake of manipulation. If it really is 1938 all over again, then there’s only one thing we can do: Go to war with all we’ve got. The Hitler analogy is not necessarily wrong, but it is so freighted with historical memory that it compels the war conclusion. It puts those who invoke it in the Churchill position, and portrays those who disagree as jelly-spined Chamberlains.

Mr. Rumsfeld also deployed a phalanx of straw men and allegations in an effort to discredit critics. Aside from the Cindy Sheehan crowd, who in this country is advocating that we should appease terrorists? What serious person is arguing that “America, not the enemy … is the source of the world’s troubles”?

The secretary also accused the news media of being more interested in dividing America than in uniting it, accusing journalists of having a “Blame America First” attitude. Singling out the messenger is an old and often successful strategy, but the dismal facts on the ground are really responsible for a majority of Americans losing faith in the Iraq war.

Mr. Bush is certainly correct that success in Iraq is vital to U.S. national security. Given the seriousness of the stakes, it is deeply dismaying to see the defense secretary playing partisan politics with a cause so critical.

America really does need unity of purpose to do right by Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld’s simple-minded rhetoric surely will stoke the shrinking pro-war base, but it will do nothing to help win this war.

Never mind that the DMN editorial staff appears to be working from the Associated Press’ version of Rumsfeld’s speech.

Never mind that the editorial does not bother to support its claim about how “badly the war in Iraq is going,” assuming that the reader must agree because the DMN’s coverage would give no reason to believe otherwise. After all, the paper did not tell its readers about progress in Iraq involving local assumption of responsibility for the Iraqi NCO academy, the large extent to which Iraqi forces now lead the security situations, or the recent and dramatic reduction in civilian deaths.

No, never mind all of that. Let’s just take a look at the editorial’s headline:

Keep Politics Out of Iraq

What a great idea. It’s too bad that hypocrites at the DMN cannot keep up this standard. In fact, in the print edition, they couldn’t keep it up for one freakin’ inch as not even that far away from the headline was the following political cartoon by Tom Toles of the Washington Post.

Toles' Attack on Rummy

That is most assuredly a political attack on Rumsfeld based on the perception of Iraq that the media has created. And it most assuredly less than an inch from the headline telling Rumsfeld to leave politics out of Iraq.

Less than an inch — that’s about how far the Dallas Morning News editorial board can be trusted to avoid hypocrisy.

8/31/2006

Public Perceptions and Reality

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:51 pm

These days, the American public is pelted by story after story from “our” media about lack of progress, quagmire, pending doom and outright tragedy. Unsurprisingly, polls show that American attitudes have been negatively affected in several areas, but do these effects match reality or merely the impression that the media is spoonfeeding?

Here are four postings I’d invite the reader to examine:

All are good reads that present evidence that the predominant feelings of the American public are not grounded in reality or, in the global warming case, not based on solid scientific procedures.

How can I explain any discrepancy between perception and reality? Well, that’s quite simple: the mainstream media, our information gatekeepers, are generally failing to bring us all the news thats fit to print, opting instead for all the news that fits their agenda or their mindset.

Without alternative means to get information, I have to wonder how many times in the past that the will and attitude of the American people were shaped by shoddy reporting, misinformation, selective coverage and outright bias. Tet, of course, springs to mind — a huge victory that was painted as defeat and eventually was the trigger of our ultimate demise in Viet Nam.

8/24/2006

Recruiting, Back-door Drafts and “Our” Media

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:43 pm

During a period in which all active-duty components of the U.S. military have reached their recruiting goals for fourteen consecutive months, two of my favorite MilBloggers, Matt at Blackfive and John at Op-For, take issue with a some news stories that try to imply severe manpower issues.

Media Still Doesn’t Understand Recruiting…or Do They?

Yellow Journalism Makes a Comeback

Go read them both. I would like to chip in that I feel Matt’s second linked story about a gang member and murder suspect that tried to enlist to be beyond piss-poor journalism and, instead, leaves no doubt about negative intentions against the military by the journalist involved.

8/15/2006

Ralph Peters: Lessons So Far

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:45 am

Ralph Peters looks at Israel’s current campaign in Lebanon against Hezbollah, the most recent engagement against expansionist and radical Islamic terrorists, and his outlook ain’t cheery.

Israel’s war against the Middle East’s first true terrorist army provides tough military and strategic lessons – old, new, and all too often disheartening. Israel’s been winning on the ground. And still losing the war.

This bitter conflict – in which most casualties on both sides of the border are civilians – raises troubling questions, too. Some are identical to those confronting us in Iraq. Many have troubling answers. Others have no real answers at all.

The elementary fact – which far too many in the West deny – is that our civilization has been forced into a defensive war to the death with fanatical strains of Islam – both Shi’a and Sunni. We may be on the offensive militarily, but we did not start this war – and it’s all one war, from 9/11’s Ground Zero, through Lebanon and Iraq, and on to Afghanistan.

Until that ugly fact gains wide acceptance, we’ll continue to make little decisive progress. American or Israeli, our troops are trying. But the truth is that we’re really just holding the line.

We have not yet begun to fight. And many among us still dream of avoiding this war altogether.

It can’t be done.

Mr. Peters goes on to state and expound upon seven lessons to be taken to heart from the current Israeli-Hezbollah affair.

  • 1. You can win every tactical engagement and still lose at the strategic level.
  • 2. The global media can overturn the verdict of the battlefield.
  • 3. If you start off on the wrong foot in war, you may never recover your balance.
  • 4. Technology alone can’t win 21st-century wars.
  • 5. Never underestimate your enemy.
  • 6. In war, take the pain up front, and the overall suffering will be far less.
  • 7. Terrorism is no longer a limited, diffuse, disorganized threat.

[hat tip to Chap, who lists the above seven lessons before adding his own thoughts]

Mr. Peters follows these lessons by asking and answering two key questions, the second of which is the one which could devour many depressing hours of meditation — “Can we win “Eastern” wars with Western values?” I must concur with Mr. Peters answer to his own question:

I doubt it.

This question is going to eat at our consciences for years to come – even as we learn to do what must be done.

[…]

The wars of the future will be won by those with the greater strength of will.

The emphasis in the last quote was added by me and I want to expand a little on that quote. This is not only true of the wars of the future but also of wars of the past and present and essentially any war that is fought to be won. At some point in time after World War II, Western Civilization took up the notion that wars can be fought in a civilized manner. Actually, that has been a periodic historic flirtation, with such short-lived traditions in the past as not targeting officers, agreed-upon truces to clear casualties from battlefields, etc. Still, after WWII, when the West last took the gloves off to a large degree, we have yet again to pursue war so fully, even though our advances in technical lethality have repeatedly been faced by uncivilized barbarity, cruelty and bloody sacrifice by our enemies. It should be noted that our enemies have happily utilized advances in technology also, but have shown no restraint in their employment against targets from which the West has refrained. And yet, we continue to find our troops facing such foes on the battlefield, foes that would just as well kill our troops, slaughter our civilians or manipulate our seemingly-willing media.

Western Civilization must stop hitting the snooze button and finally wake up to the threat. It is global. It is primeval. It is not going away via impotent United Nations resolutions and cease-fires.

[Regarding Mr. Peters, as I’ve said before, I’ll always happily link his work, as previously done here, here, here and here. I’ll also happily plug my introduction to Peters, which was his somewhat-prescient novel, The War in 2020. I first cracked that entertaining adventure in the gunner’s seat of an M1 while waiting on a gunnery range at Ft. Hood, travelling in the way-back machine to May of ’93.]

8/9/2006

Israel-Hezbollah: Media and Psych Op

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:40 pm

Not much tonight again, but I did want to point y’all towards a couple of interesting looks at the propaganda fight around the actual conflict in Lebanon.

First, the Jawa Report‘s Dr. Rusty takes a look at Yahoo!News and does some photo counting. It seems that the mainstream media are quite content to carry the propaganda water for Hezbollah’s “Oh! The (Lebanese only) humanity!” theme.

Meanwhile, Debbie at In the Bullpen points out an interesting psych op that Israel is employing in region — the seizure of Hezbollah’s own airwaves twice daily to counter Hezbollah’s message. Chad Evans chimes in on the post with video.

It’s like SNL’s old Weekend Update Point-Counterpoint, only missing Dan Aykroyd’s exclamation of “Hassan, you ignorant slut.”

8/7/2006

Houla: Forty to One

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:38 pm

Forty to one are not good odds, though they are better than James “Buster” Douglas faced in his epic upset of Mike Tyson.

Forty to one is a great reduction, however, when it refers to a correction in civilian deaths. Confederate Yankee‘s Bob Owens has the coverage of the pre- and post-reduction story of today’s “massacre” at Houla (special kudos to his post title).

In this case, for once I find that I cannot fault the media … necessarily. It seems to me that they were a victim of the ’round-the-clock, 24-hour news cycle. They printed what was put out by a government official and then corrected it. I cannot fault them for that, but can point that we have all become potential victims of poor information or slanted sources in this age of instant information. Basically, Houla is the small-scale, time-compressed equivalent of the Jenin “massacre.”

Reuters Withdraws All Photos by Lebanese Freelance

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:14 pm

First, it was forged documents that I’d Rather not write about right now.

Yesterday and today, the story was poorly modified pictures.

Reuters withdrew all 920 photographs by a freelance Lebanese photographer from its database on Monday after an urgent review of his work showed he had altered two images from the conflict between Israel and the armed group Hizbollah.

Note: please realize that should read as two confirmed modifications. We wouldn’t want to imply that the other 918 are all legit.

Global Picture Editor Tom Szlukovenyi called the measure precautionary but said the fact that two of the images by photographer Adnan Hajj had been manipulated undermined trust in his entire body of work.

Again, see earlier note. Also, there seems to be legitimate questions of staged photos and deceitful captioning by Hajj. Feel free to follow up on this aspect by reading the excellent blogs I link to later in this post.

“There is no graver breach of Reuters standards for our photographers than the deliberate manipulation of an image,” Szlukovenyi said in a statement.

“Reuters has zero tolerance for any doctoring of pictures and constantly reminds its photographers, both staff and freelance, of this strict and unalterable policy.”

The news and information agency announced the decision in an advisory note to its photo service subscribers. The note also said Reuters had tightened editing procedures for photographs from the conflict and apologised for the case.

Removing the images from the Reuters database excludes them from future sale.

Reuters ended its relationship with Hajj on Sunday after it found that a photograph he had taken of the aftermath of an Israeli air strike on suburban Beirut had been manipulated using Photoshop software to show more and darker smoke rising from buildings.

Credit for this initial takedown goes to Little Green Footballs.

An immediate enquiry began into Hajj’s other work.

It established on Monday that a photograph of an Israeli F-16 fighter over Nabatiyeh, southern Lebanon and dated Aug 2, had also been doctored to increase the number of flares dropped by the plane from one to three.

Dr. Rusty at The Jawa Report nailed this one and goes to the trouble of summarizing his related posts for his readers.

Hajj was not in Beirut on Monday and was not responding to calls. He told Reuters on Sunday that the image of the Israeli air strike on Beirut had dust marks which he had wanted to remove.

Questions about the accuracy of the photograph arose after it appeared on news Web sites on Saturday.

Several blogs, including a number which accuse the media of distorted coverage of the Middle East conflict, said the photograph had been doctored.

Folks, large portions of the mainstream media are being manipulated, sometimes seemingly willingly, by our enemies. “Our” media have become a weapon to be wielded against our civilization — we have no way of knowing what portion of this manipulation is actually discovered. As just a small piece of evidence of bias, I point to the Reuters piece actually acknowledging distorted coverage of the Middle East conflict, whether by shoddy practices or blinders caused by mindset, which is wrapped up with an almost snide description of a “number” of blogs which “accuse the media of distorted coverage.” Who cares if those blogs are right? Well, you should. At that point, accusation becomes pointing out fact.

A belated hat tip, as I first read about it yesterday as the story was developing, to Ace and his oft-updated coverage.

8/3/2006

Releases from CENTCOM

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:51 pm
First Dance

As I’ve pointed out many times, it is my opinion that the mainstream media has had a tremendous downward effect on public support for our military’s efforts in the Iraqi and Afghan theaters. The problem stems from an old journalism adage that a building that does not burn is not news. Okay, there have been many instances of misrepresentations, of usage of stringers far too friendly to the terrorists, and of negatively spinning positives when they are actually reported. The real problem, however, has been the willingness to repeatedly bang the drum of bad news while selectively cherry-picking or completely ignoring any stories of progress.

It’s not that the military hasn’t tried to put out news of progress — indeed, U.S. Central Command has issued press release after press release that has been ignored by the media. So desperate is CENTCOM to get out the good word that several months ago they began contacting bloggers asking for links and offering press releases. Well, I gave them the link in my sidebar, but now it is time to help them spread the word of their successes. Don’t worry, I won’t publish every one, but I will be far more receptive to their accomplishments than the New York Times.

Today’s stories are as follows:

Iraqi Army captures four terrorists, weapons

MultiNational Division, Baghdad captures four suspected kidnappers

Hooah!

8/2/2006

Iraqi Cadre to Begin Training Enlisted

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:22 pm

There’s been a remarkable step in the development of the self-sustainability of Iraq’s new security forces — the Iraqis have taken over the training of their NCOs.

The latest cycle of Iraqi troops graduated from the Iraqi Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy here, about 45 miles south of Mosul on July 25.

The class was the last of a series taught by U.S. instructors from the 11th Field Artillery Regiment.

The latest Iraqi NCOs will now return to their units as trained leaders, while Iraqi cadre at the academy prepare to take full responsibility for future training here.

“The (Iraqi) cadre … are charged with training Iraqi NCOs in the new millennium and beyond,” said Staff Sgt. Edwin R. Sanchez, who has taught at the Academy with his fellow Soldiers for the past year.

The instructors, including four Iraqi cadre members, taught a three-week leadership development course which included traffic control point procedures, clearing buildings, drill and ceremony, physical fitness training, hand-to-hand combat, ethics and other skills similar to what American Soldiers learn in their courses.

Sgt. Maj. Walter Murrell, a member of the U.S. training team, gave his last graduation remarks as commandant of the NCO Academy.

“Teamwork is fundamental to what this country is trying hard to achieve,” he told the graduates.

Murrell asked the Iraqi Soldiers to remember and apply what they learned, especially when leading a team of Iraqi Soldiers into a dangerous area.

“You are the lifeblood of your nation, and you must never forget that,” said Murrell.

“It was an honor to serve side by side with you. When the history books are written, you will be the heroes of the republic.”

Sgt. Maj. Farhan, the new Iraqi commandant with the 2nd Iraqi Army Division, said the graduates will be the foundation from which to protect Iraq’s democracy and freedom. He also thanked the academy’s instructors for their work.

“The role of the instructors is clear as sunshine … By doing a great job to train these Soldiers, the instructors deserve to be known as the heroes of the academy,” said Farhan.

Hat tip to CDR Salamander, who chimes in with the following:

You want a sign of success and hope? This is it. A professional NCO corps is the bedrock to any successful military. Even more than solid Senior Officers, without professional NCOs, you have nothing.

Yes, this truly is a good signal of progress. In the past, I have been one of many who have complained that the good news from Iraq and Afghanistan gets ignored by the mainstream media while any bad news is heralded with a clarion call and then drilled into the public with a repeated dirge of failure. One cannot really blame the military, as they try to get the news out to the world. This should be a big story — ’tis a shame once again that, to date, the media have collectively elected to ignore it.

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