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Dollars

Pentagon spent millions on boats that were never delivered to landlocked Afghanistan

© Courtesy of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction
One of the patrol boats purchased.
Despite being billed a "top priority" for American efforts in Afghanistan, a new government watchdog report found that the United States spent more than $3 million obtaining eight patrol boats that were never used.

Authored by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the report stated the purchases were made back in 2010, but about four years later the boats are still sitting unused in a Virginia warehouse.

What's more, the report is raising questions about why the boats were needed in the first place. After all, Afghanistan is a landlocked country, with no coastline or prominent waters to speak of.

According to the Washington Post, military officials said the boats were originally intended desired as a way to move government supplies along the Amu Darya River near the border of Uzbekistan, as well as to "deter smuggling and illegal entry into Afghanistan."

Additionally, the cost of each boat turned out to be about $375,000 - far more than the $50,000 they usually sell for in the US. As noted by Fox News, the SIGAR report also raised concerns over how the boats would be repaired, since the nearest port would have been 1,000 miles away in Pakistan.

Yet despite authorizing the expenditure of millions of dollars, just nine months later US and NATO officials determined the boats were not needed. Since 80 percent of the money was already spent and the boats were nearly completed, inspector general John Sopko found that "it was decided that the contract should be allowed to proceed to completion."

During his investigation into the matter, Sopko discovered that records related to the purchase and cancellation of the patrol boats are severely lacking, and his questions to the military have not resulted in adequate answers.

"The military has been unable to provide records that would answer the most basic questions surrounding this $3 million purchase," his office told the Post in a statement.

War Whore

Iraqi army collapses against Al-Qaeda spinoff in Mosul


An armored vehicle belonging to Iraqi security forces engulfed in flames in Mosul, Iraq on Tuesday.
The governor of Ninevah province, Athil al-Nujaifi, blames "Maliki and his policies" for the fall of Mosul.

After a long night of shelling between government forces and armed groups in the province of Ninevah in northern Iraq, Ahmed al-Muslawi and his family decided to flee Mosul for Iraqi Kurdistan. When he awoke the next morning, he learned that the city had fallen into the hands of radical organizations, and that the shelling had stopped.

Speaking to Al-Monitor by phone, Muslawi said he didn't expect the city to fall that way. Mosul residents, according to him, expected the course of events in their city to resemble what happened in Anbar province in western Iraq, where government military operations have continued for more than six months.

Muslawi, a clothing store owner, said, "When the militants took control of the city, they knocked on the doors of houses and told residents that they would not be targeted at all ... and that their dispute was with the central government and its army."

According to Muslawi, the militants forced the owners of bakeries and gas stations to return to their jobs.

War Whore

Iraq's terrorists are becoming a full-blown army

© Warrick Page/Getty
The group so extreme it got booted from al Qaeda controls huge swaths of territory. And now ISIS has got the heavy weaponry to back it up.
With the fall of Mosul on Tuesday, Iraq's al Qaeda offshoot has not only seized the country's second-largest city, it appears it also has come into possession of the heavy weapons and vehicles the U.S. military had provided Iraq's military to fight them.

That's terrible news for America's few allies left in Iraq as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) morph from terrorist menace to a military force capable of over-running an army the U.S. military trained for nearly a decade. It also calls into question the American government's decision to withdraw the last of its forces from Iraq in 2011. Three years later that withdrawal now appears premature.

ISIS themselves appear to be pleased with the booty of the Mosul campaign. On Twitter the group posted a photo of a beaming Umar al-Shishani, a senior ISIS commander, examining a captured American-made Humvee, which had already been driven from the Iraqi city to the eastern Syrian town of Deir ez-Zor. "Umar al-Shishani inspects spoils of war...Looks quite pleased," the tweet said.

Stock Down

Congress's Iraq invaders helplessly watch their conquests lost to new conquerors

© SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi families fleeing violence in the northern Nineveh province.
Americans are tired of war. For the 17 members of Congress who served in Iraq, that means watching helplessly as the cities they fought for fall once more to extremists.

Militants believed to be associated with al-Qaida overtook Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, on Tuesday. The group then seized Tikrit, hometown of former President Saddam Hussein, on Wednesday.

Three Republican congressmen who served in Iraq - Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Doug Collins of Georgia, and Brad Wenstrup of Ohio - said it feels like the progress they made has been thrown away.

"Going out across the desert I remember the feelings that you have, wondering if you're going to make it out alive," Perry said. "Right now I wonder what that was all about. What was the point of all of that?"

Comment: Indeed, what was the point? Oil? Israel? The U.S. made this mess, and it should be the one to clean it up. Unfortunately, it's unlikely the U.S. has the intelligence, means, or motivation to do anything about it. When their list of options can be counted on two fingers (military intervention, or do nothing), that should be a sign that the U.S. government is a complete and utter failure. Future historians will be right to look back at the present time and shake their heads at the West's catastrophic arrogance, stupidity, and blind cruelty.


Bizarro Earth

ISIS too hot to handle: American 'contractors' being evacuated from Iraqi air base?

© AFP
Americans are allegedly fleeing Iraq as ISIS militants take power of key Iraqi regions.
Officials say three planeloads of Americans are being evacuated from a major Iraqi air base in Sunni territory north of Baghdad to escape potential threats from a fast-moving insurgency.

A current U.S. official and a former senior Obama administration official say that means the American training mission at the air field in Balad has been grounded indefinitely.

Twelve U.S. personnel who were stationed at Balad were the first to be evacuated. Several hundred American contractors are still waiting to leave.

They have been training Iraqi forces to use fighter jets and surveillance drones.

Other U.S. contractors at a tank training ground in the city of Taji are still continuing for now.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they refused to be named in discussing the sensitive situation.

Comment: After more than a decade of 'war' against Al-Qaeda (CIA brainchild), now an uncontrollable Al-Qaeda offshoot is finally scaring the U.S. out of Iraq. How's that for karma? Unfortunately, Iraq is in chaos, bearing the brunt of the West's myopic insanity and hubris.


Colosseum

Mission accomplished? VP Biden once called Iraq one of Obama's 'great achievements'

As Iraq falls apart, it's worth remembering Vice President Joe Biden hailing that country as one of President Obama's "great achievements" in a 2010 interview with then CNN host Larry King:

"I am very optimistic about -- about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration. You're going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You're going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government," said Biden.

"I spent -- I've been there 17 times now. I go about every two months -- three months. I know every one of the major players in all of the segments of that society. It's impressed me. I've been impressed how they have been deciding to use the political process rather than guns to settle their differences."


Comment: Biden couldn't have been more wrong. And the US (Obama included) has no one to blame but themselves for the chaos currently embroiling Iraq.


Stormtrooper

Isis a cruel goddess: Medieval Sharia law imposed on millions in Nineveh province

© Reuters
Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) patrol on a vehicle in Tikrit, which the group overran.
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (Isis) has imposed a strict set of Sharia laws on the citizens of Nineveh province just days after capturing the provincial capital of Mosul.

In a document circulating on social media attributed to the group, Isis warned tribal leaders and sheikhs not to "work with [the Iraqi] government and be traitors" while proclaiming that women should only go outside if absolutely necessary.

"For women, dress decently and wear wide clothes. Only go out if needed," read the document as translated by Al Aan TV reporter Jenan Moussa.

Further rules included bans on drugs, alcohol and cigarettes while public gatherings, the possession of guns and the carrying of flags not of the Islamic state were outlawed.

Comment: As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said recently, "events that are taking place in Iraq are an illustration of a complete failure of the venture started by the US and the UK that allowed it to spiral out of control completely." We wouldn't necessarily call it a failure. After all, medieval Sharia law meshes quite well with the Western ideal of 'democracy': an empty word masking pathocracy.


Eye 1

Scottish independence campaigner claims MI5 is leading dirty tricks campaign



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Jim Sillars, former deputy leader of the SNP, believes MI5 are conducting a dirty tricks campaign against the Yes Scotland movement
A veteran campaigner for Scottish independence has accused so-called cybernats who subjected author JK Rowling to a tirade of internet abuse of "opening the door" to a possible MI5 dirty tricks campaign to scupper a Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum.

Former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars claimed it was "naïve" to think that the security forces were not involved in seeking to influence the outcome of September's ballot which could see the break-up of the UK.

He told The Independent that he was personally aware of one secret agent having arrived in Glasgow.

Mr Sillars said that those who posted the abusive comments - including one sent from a hacked charity Twitter feed - viciously lambasting Ms Rowling for her £1m donation to pro-union Better Together this week had meant to harm the independence cause. "I don't know who did. Somebody did it that is inimical to the yes campaign," he said.

Comment: Mr. Sillars is most likely correct about the involvement of British intelligence in a 'dirty tricks' campaign to keep Scotland within the union. MI5 is an organisation that is populated, at the highest levels, by dyed-in-the-wool British Imperialists who, ideologically-speaking, are still living at the height of the British Empire some 200 years ago. The case of Northern Ireland, and the dirty tricks that the same imperialists used against the Irish Republican movement, including the same type of covert demonisation and discreditation of the opposition, supports the idea that the covert forces of the British empire are working against Scottish independence.


No Entry

U.S. Supreme Court sez Texas can keep supplier of death penalty drugs secret

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© Reuters/Handout
The US Supreme Court has denied an appeal from a Texas death row prisoner whose lawyers demanded that state officials reveal the source of drugs intended to execute him.

Robert James Campbell, 41, avoided execution on May 13 when his punishment was halted less than three hours before the procedure. His attorneys appealed, claiming that Campbell is mentally retarded and therefore ineligible for the death penalty. The decision on this is pending.

Campbell was sentenced to death for the 1991 abduction, rape and slaying of a 20-year-old Houston bank teller, Alexandra Rendon.

The drug appeal's refusal is largely based on the state's refusal to reveal the drug supplier for the lethal injection.

Top Secret

GCHQ operates secret spy hub in Oman - report

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© Reuters/Kieran Doherty
The location of secret British spy bases in Oman, tapping undersea cables in the Middle East, has up until now remained unpublished because of pressure from the government, according to a new article that reveals those details.

British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has three "above-top-secret" spy bases located in Oman, "where it taps in to various undersea cables passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian/Arabian Gulf," Duncan Campbell reported for the Register, citing leaks by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The bases, codenamed "CIRCUIT" reportedly focus on Iraqi and Yemeni communications.

GCHQ spends tens of million pounds annually to employ two telecom companies, BT (codename "REMEDY") and Vodafone Cable (codename "GERONTIC"), to "run secret teams which install hidden connections which copy customers' data and messages to the spooks' processing centres" and "install optical fibre taps or 'probes' into equipment belonging to other companies without their knowledge or consent." GCHQ calls in engineers from BT whenever it wants to tap into a new international fiber optic cable, Campbell wrote.