Monthly Archives: August 2010

What Obama Didn’t Say About Afghanistan

Ray McGovern
September 1, 2010

My Fellow Americans,

… so much for Iraq. Turning now to Afghanistan, let me be clear. My learning curve has been steep, as the New York Times noted last weekend. The curve has also been jagged as I have tried to assimilate the not-always-consistent advice the four-star generals have given me.

Iraqis watch Obama’s televised speech in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010. Photo: Karim Kadim.

It’s been more than a little confusing. When I took office, Gen. David McKiernan was running the war in Afghanistan. He had expressed himself openly and strongly against an Iraq-style “surge” of forces, emphasizing that Afghanistan is “a far more complex environment than I ever found in Iraq,” where he had led U.S. ground forces.

“The word I don’t use for Afghanistan is ‘surge,’” McKiernan told a news conference on Oct. 1, 2008, singling out for mention the country’s rural population and mountainous terrain, which deepen the nation’s tribal divisions and weaken national cohesion.

As I was campaigning for president, McKiernan also warned that we could not do Afghanistan on the cheap. Rather, what would be needed was a “sustained commitment” that could last many more years.

At the time there were 33,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan (as compared with close to 100,000 now). McKiernan wanted no more, unless he could count on having them for the longer term with the objective being clear.

So, let me tell you how things changed from then to now. Gen. David Petraeus said he had a better idea, so I let him persuade me to cashier McKiernan after less than a year in Afghanistan and replace him with Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

Backed by Gen. Petraeus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Gen. McChrystal pushed for a major escalation in Afghanistan. He wanted 40,000 more troops on top of the 21,000 that I had sent in response to an urgent request just after I became president.

If you remember, in fall 2009, I was facing political pressure from the Pentagon and from former Vice President Dick Cheney who accused me of “dithering” while I conducted an Afghan policy review. So, as a compromise of sorts, I agreed to expand the force by 30,000 more soldiers but I said they would start coming home by July 2011.

On the ground, however, Gen. McChrystal made little headway. He could not tame the rural area of Marja even though he sent thousands of Marines there in what was supposed to be a warm-up for a more ambitious campaign to “stabilize “ Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest city and a Taliban stronghold.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen recently shared with me what he told columnist David Ignatius two months ago; namely, that his generals “underestimated the challenges” in Marja, and now they don’t quite know what to do about Kandahar.

They weren’t even sure how much progress they might or might not be making. “It’s going to take until the end of the year to know where we are” there, Admiral Mullen said.

Let me be clear, again. I must tell you that I have increasing doubts that the four-stars who brief me really know what they’re doing in Afghanistan. Gen. McChrystal even found a curious way to exit Afghanistan, when he and his top aides were quoted in Rolling Stone magazine disparaging me and the civilian leadership. I then replaced McChrystal with Petraeus.

In an unconventional attempt to climb more quickly up the learning curve, I also traveled incognito to the Army infantry school at Fort Benning, to listen to what the lieutenants and captains are learning about strategy and tactics. It was an eye opener!

Can’t Get There From Here

One key teaching point was the importance of what the Army calls the LOC — the line of communication along which supplies and forces can move between a base and troops in the field.

The instructors at Benning insisted that competent commanders never commit large numbers of troops to battle without having established secure LOCs. They then winced when they displayed a relief map of Afghanistan and neighboring countries, showing the deployment of U.S. forces.

The instructors pointed out that Napoleon had to learn the hard way the importance of LOCs, even though he himself coined the expression “an army travels on its stomach” — meaning that keeping it supplied with fuel, food and ammunition is prerequisite to success. (For Napoleon, a chance to grab Russia was just too tempting.)

The good news, they said, was that in Iraq the highly vulnerable hundreds-of-miles-long land supply line between Kuwait and Baghdad had not been cut – although many brave soldiers were killed along the highway from roadside bombs. But the worse news for Afghanistan is that it would be sheer folly to count on having similar success, given the country’s terrain and remoteness.

As Gen. McKiernan knew first hand, Iraq has relatively flat topography and an extensive highway network. Afghanistan, on the other hand, has formidable mountains and mostly dirt or gravel roads. Blogger Ben Gilbert put it succinctly in a recent article:

“Moving all the things 100,000 troops need to fight and survive in a hostile foreign land is never an easy task. In a landlocked, mountainous country the size of Texas, with few paved roads, it is even harder.”

Thousands of trucks pick up most of the needed supplies — including drinking water — after they arrive in the Pakistani port of Karachi. Then the trucks wend their way through dangerous parts of Pakistan and the Kyber Pass (a 33-mile passage through the Hindu Kush) into Afghanistan.

The transport is incredibly expensive, especially by the time the warlords and bandits are paid protection money to let the supplies through. And the trucks don’t get many miles to the gallon.

A congressional report issued in June, titled “Warlord, Inc.: Extortion and Corruption along the U.S. Supply Chain,” found that U.S. military contractors pay millions of dollars in protection money to Afghan warlords, and that some of that money finds its way to those fighting our own troops.

The Pentagon had been largely blind to the strategic vulnerabilities of its supply chain contracting, the report added.

I was told that neither the Pentagon nor our forces in Afghanistan have much visibility into what happens to the trucks carrying U.S. supplies between the time the trucks leave Karachi until they reach their destinations.

And one can only imagine what additional disruptions to the supply lines have been caused by the widespread flooding in Pakistan.

There is resupply by air, but that too is a risky and expensive proposition and cannot handle most of the necessary armaments and supplies.

As for other available supply routes, any commander who would be comfortable depending on the good will of Russia and the various “-stans” located between Russia and Afghanistan, has not taken the basic course at Fort Benning.

It is a mess, but perhaps not as bad as it may seem. As the Commander in Chief of your military, I must admit that I just don’t know the answer.

So, I asked my staff to brief me on whether the Marines trying to subdue and secure the Afghan rural area around Marja were having problems with resupply.

Turns out that Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus was in Afghanistan in early June, and in a speech at the Naval War College on June 9, he had high praise for the Marines engaged in resupply, though his comments were a bit alarming. This is part of what he said:

“Just think about what it takes to get a gallon of gas to a frontline unit in Afghanistan. I visited a bunch of forward operating bases last week. To get a gallon of gas to one of those units you’ve got to take it across the Pacific, put it on trucks, take it across the Hindu Kush and all the way down to one of those forward operating bases. Only then do you get to put it in the tank of a vehicle or generator.

“Every step of the process, you add money and every step of the process you take Marines away from combat, engagement, and development to guard that gasoline. And for every 25 trucks we send into Afghanistan we lose a Marine, killed or wounded.”

Now let me be clear, again. Ray Mabus, bless his heart, was trying to show he understands the extra burden that resupply puts on the Marines in Afghanistan. But I thought to myself, “Gosh, that’s probably why it costs $400 to get a gallon of gas into a Marine tank there.”

Mabus didn’t mention the pay-offs for graft and protection. But, still, his remarks left me persuaded that the LOC problem may in the end amount to a case of “you can’t get there from here” — at least not without spending inordinate sums of taxpayer money, some of which goes to those fighting against our troops.

Other Basic Learnings

There were other strategic/tactical fundamentals presented by the instructors at Fort Benning — fundamentals that seem to have escaped our senior generals. At least they have not told me much about them: Terrain, for example.

While Gen. McKiernan clearly saw those rugged mountains as an impediment, neither Petraeus nor McChrystal briefed me on the terrain, nor on the fact that those mountains have been the nemesis of invaders/occupiers for 2,337 years, ever since Alexander the Great made a try at subduing Afghanistan.

As brilliant a commander as Alexander was, he ended up having to yield to the wishes of his whittled-down, worn-out troops to head back to Asia Minor. However, Gen. Petraeus with his can-do spirit apparently feels he can do better than Alexander the Great.

Another fundamental factor the Fort Benning instructors homed in on was weather. They say it gets really cold in those Afghan mountains for half the year, shrinking the fighting season and giving strong advantage to our indigenous opponents.

Last, but by no means least, the Benning instructors kept insisting that any commanders worth their salt would do their level best to estimate enemy strength; that is, the number of forces they face, before starting an offensive of any kind.

Now let me be clear once more. As I hope you are aware, I am a Christian, not a Muslim, and I have studied my Bible closely. So that advice rang some bells:

“If a ruler is about to do battle with another country, will he not sit down first and consider whether, with ten thousand men, he can withstand an enemy coming against him with twenty thousand. If he cannot, he will send a delegation while the enemy is still at a distance, asking for terms of peace.” Luke 14:31-32

A sensible approach, don’t you agree? And it reminded me that I can never seem to get a straight answer from my advisers as to how many enemy forces are arrayed against us in Afghanistan, how many are al-Qaeda terrorists wanting to attack the United States and how many are Afghans who simply want to drive out what they see as a foreign occupation army.

And this is not an academic question. It goes to the heart of what I have been saying since I’ve been in the White House. For instance, in March 2009, I said this:

“I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.”

But what’s particularly embarrassing is that CIA Director Leon Panetta goes on TV and says, with no apparent awkwardness, that there are only 50, “maybe less,” al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan.

I know; I know; seems a little much to have 100,000 troops chasing 50 of them, but then Panetta reminds me not to forget about the Taliban, the hardliners who were groomed by our Pakistani allies to take over Afghanistan in the 1990s. The Taliban then gave al-Qaeda a safe haven.

How many Taliban are there, I ask? But Panetta doesn’t know.

Then, in July I read in the Washington Post that the recently resigned Afghan intelligence chief, a gentleman named Amarullah Saleh, claims he knows. Saleh told the Post that the Taliban leadership numbers about 200 but many of those are in Karachi, Pakistan.

The second ring of Taliban leadership (about 1,700 field commanders) oversee a fighting force of 10,000 to 30,000, depending on the season, said Saleh, adding that the Taliban commanders captured or killed during Gen. McChrystal’s tenure have been replaced by a “new crop.”

I am aware of suggestions that one needs to regard most of the 33 million people in Afghanistan as “insurgents” or — perhaps more accurately — resistance, because they don’t want us there.

On top of that, thanks to WikiLeaks, the whole world is now aware of the double game being played by the Pakistani intelligence service in taking our money and then arming (and sometimes leading) Taliban fighters against our own soldiers and Marines.

At this point, I am thinking maybe Gen. McKiernan may have been right after all. It’s all so very awkward; sometimes I think the whole world is laughing at us. Even the nice kids at Sidwell Friends are giving Malia and Sasha a hard time about it. And I don’t like it — not one bit.

But the buck stops here. So let me be clear again. What I have experienced with the generals over the past year – and what I’ve learned during my recent surreptitious instruction at Fort Benning – have convinced me to do what Ambassador Eikenberry strongly urged me to do last November.

Instead of simply caving in to complaints from Cheney about my “dithering”– and giving Petraeus and McChrystal nearly all the troops they asked for – I should have applied the full resources of the U.S. intelligence community to get a handle on the real prospects for Afghanistan.

So, I have now asked Ambassador Eikenberry to return to Washington to chair a fast-track, multidisciplinary National Intelligence Estimate on the conflict in Afghanistan. The fully coordinated NIE, with any dissents duly recorded, will be given to me no later than Nov. 15.

I want a fresh look at the entire complex of issues. I will expect members of the team that advised me last fall to become involved in critiquing the final Estimate after it is finished, but not to influence its findings beforehand.

I also have conferred by telephone with former President George W. Bush about all this. He heard me out, but then kept insisting that we cannot allow so many of our troops to have died in vain.

I told him, as gently as I could, that he might have thought of that at the outset; that I intended to be candid with the American people and not sugarcoat the hard reality that so many, on both sides, had indeed died in vain; and that our task now is to end the violence in as rapid and constructive a way as possible.

Fellow Americans, I can understand your impatience — and, for some of you, your grieving and your anger. Rest assured, I share the impatience and sympathize deeply with those who have lost loved ones.

But I promise you that this time around we are going to get it right, and my new decision on Afghanistan will be informed as much by the NIE and the lessons from Fort Benning, as by the four-star generals.

God bless America — and God bless the rest of the world, too. Good night.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served as an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then as a CIA analyst for a total of 30 years. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).


Canadian Lighthouse VS USS Missouri

  • Feb. 14th, 2004 at 6:44 PM


You can just see it happening…

This is a transcript of a radio conversation between a US Naval ship and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland. I understand that there’s actually a full transcript of this conversation lurking about somewhere. If anyone has is, send it to me!

US SHIP: Please divert your course 0.5 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

CANADIAN REPLY: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

US SHIP: This is the Captain of the US Navy Ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

CANADIAN REPLY: No, I say again, divert YOUR course!


CANADIAN REPLY: This is a lighthouse. Your call.

Obama’s Speech on Iraq, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

– It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office. – H L Menken

“Wars no longer end with surrender ceremonies and ticker-tape parades. They end in a fog of ambiguity, and it’s easier to discern what’s been sacrificed than what’s been gained.” – Eugene Robinson

Members of the US Army’s Old Guard carry team lift the remains of US Army Specialist Israel Candelaria Mejias from San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, as his body is returned on a C-17 to the US from Iraq April 7, 2009 at Dover Air Force Base, in Delaware. Specialist Candelaria Mejias, 28 yrs old, was killed April 5, 2009 near Baghdad as he attempted to disarm an IED. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

A member of the U.S. Air Force stands watch over a K loader holding five flag-draped transfer cases holding the remains of US soldiers during a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base, April 12, 2009 in Dover, Delaware. Five US soldiers, US Army Private Second Class Bryce E. Gautier of Cypress, Ca., US Army Corporal Jason G. Pautsch of Davenport, Ia., US Army Sergeant Edward W. Forrest, Jr. St. Louis, Mo., US Army Staff Sergeant Gary L. Woods, Jr. of Lebanon, Ky., and US Army Staff Sergeant Bryan E. Hall of Elk Grove, Ca., were killed on April 10th in Mosul, Iraq when their military vehicle was stuck by a suicide vehicle loaded with explosives. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images) #

A carry team salutes after moving the transfer case containing the body of Marine Lance Corporal Blaise A. Oleski at Dover Air Force Base, April 9, 2009. (REUTERS/Tim Shaffer) #

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

– Dylan Thomas

FACT CHECK: Is Iraq combat really over for U.S.?

U.S. Army 1st. Sgt. Buddy Hartlaub, of the 1st Battalion 320th Alpha Battery, 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, aims a sniper rifle on insurgent positions at Combat Outpost Nolen, in the volatile Arghandab Valley, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Thursday, July 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

WASHINGTON – Despite President Barack Obama’s declaration Tuesday of an end to the combat mission in Iraq, combat almost certainly lies ahead.

And in asserting the U.S. has met its responsibilities in Iraq, the president opened the door wide to a debate about the meaning of success in the muddle that most — but not all — American troops are leaving behind.

A look at some of the statements Obama made in his Oval Office speech and how they compare with the facts:

OBAMA: “Tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended.”

THE FACTS: Peril remains for the tens of thousands of U.S. troops still in Iraq, who are likely if not certain to engage violent foes. Counterterrorism is chief among their continuing missions, pitting them against a lethal enemy. Several thousand special operations forces, including Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs, will continue to hunt and attempt to kill al-Qaida and other terrorist fighters — working closely with Iraqi forces. Obama said, “Of course, violence will not end with our combat mission,” while stopping short of a full accounting of the hazards ahead for U.S. troops.


OBAMA: “We have met our responsibility.”

THE FACTS: That depends entirely on how the U.S. responsibility is defined.

Sectarian division — the danger that Obama said as a presidential candidate had to be addressed before Iraq could succeed — continues to deprive the country of a fully functioning government. U.S. goals for reconstruction are unmet. And although the U.S. says Iraqi forces can handle the insurgency largely on their own, Iraq is expected to need U.S. air power and other military support for years to control its own air space and to deter a possible attack by a neighboring state.

It was the U.S. that invaded Iraq, overthrew its government, disbanded its security forces and failed in the early phases of the conflict to understand the depth of Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divisions and its political paralysis. The U.S. in some minds is responsible for putting Iraq back together again, yet today Iraq has no permanent government and its security forces arguably are not fully prepared to defend the country’s skies and borders.

In inheriting a war he opposed from the start, Obama did not accept U.S. responsibilities so broadly.

It will take time to see if his more limited view of success bears out. In May, he said: “This is what success looks like: an Iraq that provides no haven to terrorists; a democratic Iraq that is sovereign and stable and self-reliant.”

Al-Qaida terrorists are “not gone” from Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday. But he hailed “an important victory against transnational terror” because “al-Qaida in Iraq has been largely cut from its masters abroad.”


OBAMA: “Unfortunately, over the last decade, we have not done what is necessary to shore up the foundation of our own prosperity. We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has shortchanged investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits.”

THE FACTS: This is partly true. For sure, the costly Iraq and Afghanistan wars have contributed to the nation’s budget deficit — but not by as much as Obama suggests. The current annual deficit is now an estimated $1.5 trillion. But as recently as 2007, the budget deficit was just $161.5 billion. And that was years after war expenses were in place for both the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

Most of the current deficit is due to the longest recession since the 1930s. It has seriously depressed tax revenues while increasing costs to the government — including social safety-net programs such as unemployment insurance and spending by both the outgoing Bush and incoming Obama administrations on stimulus programs and on bailouts of banks and automakers.


OBAMA: “This was my pledge to the American people as a candidate for this office.”

THE FACTS: At one stage of the presidential campaign, Obama spoke of an earlier departure of troops than he ultimately achieved. “I have put forward a plan that will get our troops out by the end of 2009,” he said in a January 2008 Democratic candidates debate. But his pledge for most of the campaign was to withdraw combat troops within 16 months, a promise essentially kept.this office.”

THE FACTS: At one stage of the presidential campaign, Obama spoke of an earlier departure of troops than he ultimately achieved. “I have put forward a plan that will get our troops out by the end of 2009,” he said in a January 2008 Democratic candidates debate. But his pledge for most of the campaign was to withdraw combat troops within 16 months, a target missed just by a few months.


OBAMA: “Our dedicated civilians — diplomats, aid workers, and advisers — are moving into the lead to support Iraq as it strengthens its government, resolves political disputes, resettles those displaced by war, and builds ties with the region and the world.”

THE FACTS: Although Obama said the U.S. commitment to Iraq’s future does not end with the combat mission, he made no mention of an emerging debate in Congress over paying for the diplomatic mission the State Department says is necessary. Plans for U.S. diplomatic posts in Iraq already are being scaled back as Congress sees the winding down of the war as a signal to invest elsewhere.


OBAMA: “Within Afghanistan, I have ordered the deployment of additional troops who — under the command of General David Petraeus — are fighting to break the Taliban’s momentum. As with the surge in Iraq, these forces will be in place for a limited time to provide space for the Afghans to build their capacity and secure their own future.”

THE FACTS: Obama is reciting almost the exact language of the Bush administration’s rationale for the Iraq surge: to buy time and space for the Iraqis to reach political accommodations and to strengthen their own security forces. That’s quite a change from Obama’s stand as a presidential candidate, when he criticized it. Obama seems to be embracing the troop surge logic now, even though it’s clear that the Iraqis have yet to achieve the necessary level of reconciliation to form an enduring government.

Sen. Murkowski’s defeat marks major tea party win

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Backed by the Tea Party Express and Sarah Palin, a little-known conservative lawyer from Alaska became the latest newcomer to the national political stage to take down an incumbent in 2010.

In arguably the biggest political upset of the year, Joe Miller claimed the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate when incumbent GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski conceded Tuesday evening.

Miller’s win was a major victory for the tea party movement and marked the first time it had defeated a sitting senator in a primary.

Tea partiers had knocked off Utah Sen. Bob Bennett at a state convention in May, and emboldened organizers now have their sights set on Delaware, where they are backing Christine O’Donnell against the more moderate Rep. Mike Castle in the GOP Senate primary.

Miller, 43, told The Associated Press by phone late Tuesday that he’ll campaign this fall on transferring power and control over resources from the federal government to Alaska and the other 49 states.

The state has long been heavily reliant on federal money to run — a legacy largely carved out by former Sen. Ted Stevens before his death in an August plane crash.

But the government’s impending financial crisis will eventually force a reduction in funding to the state, Miller said by phone from Fairbanks.

“We have to be prepared for that, and the way to do it, of course, is to progressionally transfer holdings of the federal government to us,” he said. “And of course, also by reducing federal regulatory burdens over the lands that we do control so that we can develop them more freely and more economically.”

Murkowski is the third senator to lose this year amid deep dissatisfaction with the Washington establishment. Bennett and Arlen Specter, D-Pa., were the others.

She trailed Miller — an Ivy League-educated lawyer, West Point graduate and decorated Gulf War veteran — by 1,668 votes after the Aug. 24 primary.

Election officials began counting absentee and outstanding ballots Tuesday, and Murkowski made slight gains. But after more than 15,000 ballots were counted, she remained 1,630 votes behind.

“We all know that this has been a long week, a terribly long week,” she said at campaign headquarters while conceding.

She said that while there were still outstanding votes, “I don’t see a scenario where the primary will turn out in my favor, and that is a reality that is before me at this point in time.”

“And for that reason, and for the good of the state of Alaska … I am now conceding the race for the Republican nomination.”

The stunning result was a huge validation of the political power of Palin as the former Alaska governor has been playing kingmaker in midterm elections ahead of a potential 2012 White House run.

Miller cast Murkowski as too liberal and part of the problem in an out-of-control Washington. It is a campaign strategy that has helped oust other incumbents this year and that Republicans will employ again in November as they look to take back Congress.

Miller will face Democrat Scott McAdams, a small town mayor, in the November general election. The former commercial fisherman was given little chance against Murkowski, and as of June 30 had raised less than $10,000.

But Democrats figure his chances are better against Miller, and they plan to present him as a moderate, rational alternative.

“Lisa Murkowski is a class act who always put Alaska first,” McAdams said in a statement late Tuesday. “By contrast, lawyer Joe Miller ran an unfair, nasty campaign that didn’t extend to Lisa Murkowski the respect she deserves.”

After keeping a low profile for much of the race, Palin recorded a robocall for Miller in the campaign’s final days and touted him as a “man of the people” on her Facebook page. She also repeated a claim that Murkowski had waffled on her position on repealing the federal health care overhaul — claims the senator has called false.

Aside from a failed legislative bid in 2004, the Kansas-raised Miller had no experience running in political races before jumping into the race to take on Murkowski. He is friends with Sarah and Todd Palin, and they both endorsed him.

Miller also had the blessing from within the tea party crowd. The California-based Tea Party Express said it spent nearly $600,000 to help Miller — most of that in the race’s final weeks, when Miller’s camp said it sensed momentum was on its side and that Miller would win.

Investors Spooked As Glitch Sends Gold To $3400

Paul Joseph Watson
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Investors were briefly panicked yesterday when the Yahoo Finance website indicated that gold had soared to over $3400 dollars an ounce, an instant jump of 175 per cent. Possible reasons for the shocking spike ranged from a simple mistake to a secret signal being communicated to insiders as to where the commodity was really heading.

Just after 11am eastern time, the Yahoo Finance website gold graph indicated that the precious metal had jumped from $1235.60 an ounce to a whopping $3401.50 an ounce in the space of minutes. The commodity then quickly returned to its previous level almost immediately.

The only event that could precede such a massive and instantaneous jump in gold would have to be something on the scale of a nuclear war or a sudden and total collapse of the U.S. dollar.

Since the apparent glitch was only registered on the Yahoo website, many have attributed it to an in-house error. But that didn’t stop financial forums raging with speculation as to whether the snafu wasn’t some kind of hidden message being put out to insiders as to when gold will really hit such a level.

“This is one of those secret messages to traders in the know that tell the brokers when gold will be at a certain level,” claimed a Kitco forum member.

Indeed, numerous investment analysts speculated last year that gold was heading towards the $3500 range as a result of a deflationary collapse of the U.S. economy.

“Did it really do that, and I wonder if someone knew and cashed in bigtime only to re-invest it after it dropped back down. If they did, they made some major moola!,” commented a poster at

Was this a ‘tell’ to let insiders know that gold is about to soar? Or was it nothing more meaningful than a technical glitch?

Baby deaths at army base under scrutiny

Mysterious deaths of two infants have brought investigators into the Fort Bragg Army base in North Carolina.

The deaths, which occurred at the same home within three months of each other, have prompted the probe.

According to base officials, the house where the two deaths occurred is now vacant, and will not be occupied again until the causes are determined.

Eight other unexplained infant deaths since January 2007 are also being investigated at the vast base which is home to the U.S. Army Airborne and Special Forces.

About 45,000 people live on the base, including about 6,200 families.

Military leaders have said they don’t suspect foul play in any of the deaths, but still want to conduct tests on the air quality and other elements at the housing area where the deaths occurred.

Ceremony marks anniversary of Till’s death

August 30, 2010

BY BOB RAKOW, Correspondent
Ollie Gordon stood at Emmett Till’s gravesite Sunday afternoon and pleaded for an end to violence in the black community.

“I was 8 years old when Emmett was taken, and I still remember the grief and the pain,” said Gordon, one of Till’s cousins

“We know why Emmett died. Why are our children and young men dying in the streets? Not only are they killing each other, we’re losing our babies. Enough is enough.”

Gordon was one of several people who spoke at Sunday’s ceremony, which commemorated the 55th anniversary of Till’s death.

Some 35 family members and admirers of Till and his mother, Mamie, gathered at Burr Oak Cemetery near Alsip.

The ceremony began with a prayer and the laying of a wreath at Mamie Till’s grave, which is located near the entrance of the cemetery, 4400 W. 127th St.

Participants then walked the short distance to Emmett Till’s grave, where a similar service was held.

Till was beaten, tortured and murdered on Aug. 28, 1955, a few days after he reportedly whistled at a white woman in Mississippi.

Mamie Till insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket with the intent of showing the world the brutality of the killing: Till’s eye was gouged out during the beating, and he was ultimately shot in the head.

Mamie Till’s decision is widely viewed as a key moment is the American Civil Right movement.

Tatiana Jamison said she admired Mamie Till’s courage.

“I want to be like that,” Jamison said during the ceremony. “I want to be a leader like that. These two inspired me to be a better person and a better black woman.”

Airickea Gordon Taylor, also one of Emmett Till’s cousins, lived with Mamie Till in Chicago during parts of her childhood.

“For me, Mamie was like a second mother. She was a remarkable woman who did great things,” she said. “I love her dearly. As long as I’m alive, I’m going to keep her memory going,” Gordon Taylor said.

Mamie Till died in 2003. She was 81.


Ron Paul Calls for Audit of U.S. Gold Reserves

In an exclusive interview with Kitco News, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) revealed that next year at the start of the newly inaugurated 112th United States Congress, he would introduce a new bill to audit the U.S. gold reserves, which are reportedly stored at the New York Federal Reserve and Fort Knox.

The reason behind this bill is that in the event “we ever get around to deciding we should use gold in relationship to our currency, we ought to know how much is there,” Paul told Kitco.

“Our Federal Reserve admits to nothing, and they should prove all the gold is there. There is a reason to be suspicious, and even if you are not suspicious, why wouldn’t you have an audit?” said Paul.

This is not the first time Rep. Ron Paul has suggested that there be a full audit of the county’s gold reserves. Paul recalled that “In the early 1980s when I was on the gold commission, I asked to recommend to Congress that they audit the gold reserves — we had 17 members of the commission and 15 voted not to [recommend] the audit.”

The two votes in favor of an audit came from the two gold advocates who pushed for the creation of the commission in the first place — Senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and Rep. Ron Paul.

At the time, Sen. Helms and Rep. Paul were the leaders of Congress’s gold coalition, which included Republicans Sen. James McClure of Idaho, Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona, Rep. Philip Crane of Illinois, Rep. James Collins of Texas, Rep. Steven Symms of Idaho, and Democratic Rep. Larry McDonald of Georgia, the latter of whom was at the time also a National Council member of the John Birch Society.

In fact, Rep. McDonald introduced a similar bill to that of Ron Paul’s newly proposed 2011 gold reserve audit bill. In 1979, Rep. McDonald sponsored H.R. 555, entitled: “A bill to require the Comptroller General of the United States to audit annually the gold held by the United States on the first day of each fiscal year and to report his findings to Congress.” McDonald presented the same bill again the next year, this time as H.R.555, and was unable to garner any cosponsors.

A few years earlier, on August 8, 1974, Rep. Phillip Crane introduced H.R. 16345, entitled, “A bill to provide for an audit by the General Accounting Office of all gold owned by the United States.” He too was unable to gain support for his gold reserve audit bill.

Although McDonald and Crane’s respected gold reserve audit bills received no cosponsors at the time, Ron Paul hopes to ride the wave of his recent landmark Federal Reserve Audit bill that passed the House this past year, but was eventually gutted in the Senate by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

If Paul’s Federal Reserve audit were able to pass the House and make strong headway in the Senate, despite Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, then come January, with a potential newly-elected “Tea Party” Congress, Paul’s bill to audit U.S. gold reserves might make headway. It would be fundamentally important to any future plans to return to a pure gold standard.

The last and only time that an audit was performed on the gold held in Fort Knox was issued within hours of President Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration on January 20, 1953. After 20 years of Democratic rule in the White House and President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 6102 of April 3, 1933, in which private ownership of gold was outlawed, the American people had become worried whether all of the gold that FDR and the federal government confiscated was still in storage.

Ron Paul cited this audit of over 50 years ago as the “only one decent audit done”; however, Chris Weber from summarized the various problems with that audit as follows:

1.��� Representatives of the audited group were allowed to make the rules governing the audit. No outside private experts were allowed.
2.��� Those government bureaucrats involved were inexperienced in their tasks, by their own admission.
3.��� The entire audit of the largest gold hoard ever concentrated in history lasted only seven days.
4.��� Only a fraction of the gold was actually tested for purity. Later, the officials put this fraction at just 5 percent.
5.��� Based on that fraction, the official committee reported that, in their opinion, all the holdings would have matched their records if they’d all been tested.
6.��� If the audit was accurate, the fact remains that almost 80 percent of the gold went overseas in the coming years. If the audit was not accurate, the amount of gold lost could have been even more.

Although that audit may have satisfied the American public of 1953, which “was still used to accepting official government statements at face value,” Weber writes, in the decade since then Americans “have lost much of their respect and belief in the words of their government,” as a result of scandals and lies ranging from President Lyndon Johnson’s Gulf of Tonkin incident, the sinking of the USS Liberty, Richard Nixon’s Watergate fiasco, Bill Clinton’s lying under oath about his sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky to President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell’s false “irrefutable” evidence that Saddam Hussein was building “weapons of mass destruction” and possessed direct links to the September 11 attacks.

With a great many Americans having lost faith in their government, any audit of U.S. gold reserves will not come without scrutiny, but 50 years since there was an actual full audit, one wonders if the gold is still there. After all, as Alex Newman pointed out in The New American, the United States government has been using the gold to keep the price of gold low against the dollar so that Americans don’t become aware of the amount of inflation that has been occurring owing to the government’s and Federal Reserve’s money policies.

When asked if he thought “there is any truth to claims that there is no gold in Fort Knox or the New York Federal Reserve,” Paul replied, “I think it is a possibility.”

That possibility alone is one reason why Paul says there should be an audit, and as he said before, “even if you are not suspicious, why wouldn’t you have an audit?”

In the interview Paul expressed discontent over the new tax burdens for selling gold in transactions of $600 or over that was passed in Section 9006 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare. In regard to this Paul said, “For every transaction of over $600, gold dealers have to fill out a form; it is a lot of paperwork.”

As for whether he would run for President in 2012, Ron Paul remained elusive, offering his usual response that it was still too early to tell. If Paul does run and win, he would be the first President since Ronald Reagan seriously to consider returning to a gold standard, and hopefully the first President since William McKinley actually to have such a proposal enacted, such as the Gold Standard Act of 1900.

In Ron Paul’s office is a portrait of President Grover Cleveland, who like Rep. Larry McDonald was a hard-money constitutionalist Democrat. Regardless of Paul’s political willingness to run or not for the presidency, one thing is sure: come January 2011, he will push for an audit of the United States’ gold reserves in his effort to restore sound economic policies consistent with the U.S. Constitution.