Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Katrina: After The Storm

UPDATE 2 (Wednesday, 11:50pm Central):

Long day spent cleaning up. Not done yet. Thankful that I have something to clean up.

If you want to know more about how DHS and FEMA respond to emergencies/disasters see:

National Response Plan - Base Plan

National Response Plan - Full Plan with Annexes

I think it's a good idea for us to be familiar with the National Response Plan. For example, it helps to know what a Joint Field Office is and what it does and where it is in the chain of command and who it consists of and what you can expect from it. And how a Joint Field Office is different from a Joint Task Force.

The Pentagon is standing up Joint Task Force Katrina. Its HQ is being established at Camp Shelby, Mississippi -- near Hattiesburg. JTF Katrina will be one of the largest military operations on this continent since the Civil War.

I spoke with relatives in Prentiss, Mississippi earlier today (cellphone to landline). They confirmed that Hattiesburg and Laurel are heavily damaged. They have no power in Prentiss and have not seen the images or video of the Gulf Coast -- many Mississippians haven't. My cousins who evacuated from Pascagoula had not heard any details. If you live on the coast, you expect there to be damage when a hurricane hits, but you don't expect there to be nothing left.

There are people in rural areas that are cutting their way out. There are others cutting their way in as friends and family mount their own search and rescue operations. It is slow-going. All the roads are blocked by dozens of downed oak and pecan trees and powerlines.

People outside Mississippi have much more information on Katrina's aftermath. If you have family/friends in Mississippi, they're waiting to hear from you. I have had no success calling out on landline (from Alabama). Calling out on cell to landline takes several tries, but you can probably get through. Cell to cell is better if the person with the other cell has been able to re-charge their batteries with a cigarette lighter adapter or a generator. Let them know that a massive rescue and recovery effort is underway. Tell 'em about JTF Katrina.

If you live in the South, you probably have a gun or two or a dozen. Keep one or two nearby and be vigilant. It's getting pretty hairy in some places. For those outside the South who do not understand, we are generous people, but we tend to shoot thieves/looters/burglars rather than "dialogue" with them. We don't give a fuck about root causes.


UPDATE 1 (Tuesday, 11:15pm Central):

Just a couple of thoughts before I catch up on sleep.

We need to give FEMA, the military, and state and local agencies time to plan -- because they're really still in the planning stages and will be for a couple more days. Some things can't wait for a plan and they will deal with those things as necessary.

There are so many things that need to be done for New Orleans, alone. It will be a major, months-long operation if the city is to be saved. It'll take a Red Adair-type to do it. Red Adair killed over 600 burning Kuwaiti oil wells in just 6 months. I remember thinking that it would take years to cap those wells. I wasn't thinking big enough.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast communities are destroyed. That is clear to anyone who has seen video footage, but the destruction goes well beyond the coast. Hattiesburg, Columbia, and McComb and all the little surrounding towns and communities have suffered extensive, and in many cases, catastrophic damage.

The death toll is going to rise. The misery is going to increase. The rest of the nation is just now waking up to the magnitude of this disaster. This is a national disaster. This is going to impact all sectors of our economy. It's going to impact our national security.

Now could we all please accept that it was a fucking hurricane that brought this destruction. If there's anyone out there who can't accept that, stay the fuck away from my neck of the woods because if you start that "Bush's fault" bullshit, we will hurt you. I mean it. We're not in the mood.


I had some power and puter problems. The power was restored much faster than the puter. Alabama Power & Light workers are the best in the nation. They are bringing power back in record time, plus they are preparing to send help to Mississippi.

We got hit hard here -- harder than Ivan. But that's about all I'm gonna say. It doesn't feel right to be talking about the damage here while just down the road there is Pascagoula, Biloxi, Gulfport, Bay St Louis . . . yes, they're still there -- it's just that they are unrecogizable. I've never seen such destruction.

They were beautiful little places on the Gulf Coast. As a little boy I had dreamed of living in Gulfport or Biloxi. They'll recover, but it won't ever be the same. You can't replace 100-150 year old homes -- not with anything that has the same character.

And then there's New Orleans. As bad as it is, it could have been much worse for New Orleans. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of people could have been killed had Katrina hit them head-on or to their West. Apparently, some of the 100,000 stay-behinds weighed that risk against the opportunity to loot.

A word about looters: shotgun.

This is not even the peak of hurricane season. We have more to come.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Katrina: Category 4 Landfall

UPDATE 10 (Monday, 10:36am Central):

Not surprisingly, we've had a few power hits. Off for 10 minutes or so then back on, lights flickering and such.

The winds are just incredible. Hurricane Force in Mobile and Baldwin counties, worse in Mobile County.

Sustained winds at about 80mph with 100mph gusts in Baldwin County, south of I-10.

Extremely powerful, shocking gusts.

Of course, it's much worse in Pascagoula, Biloxi and Gulfport, but I don't think anyone expected it to be this bad this far to the East.

Conditions continue to deteriorate here and will worsen in next 2-3 hours.


UPDATE 9 (Monday, 8:07am Central):

Blinding rain. Powerful winds. A couple of trees are down in the neighborhood. It looks like a hurricane on the Bay. Keep in mind that I'm blogging from about 140 miles from the center. Katrina is packing an incredibly powerful punch.

I just heard on the radio that Pascagoula, Mississippi is getting hammered by the East Beast. I wonder about Biloxi and Gulfport.

A transformer just blew out --- we won't have power for much longer.

The Bay looks like the ocean... big waves.


UPDATE 8 (Monday, 7:35am Central):

I just let Lizzie out to pee and Doc made a dash for the backyard. I wish I had video of that poor decision on Doc's part. Just about the time he hit the middle of the yard, a strong gust hit and Doc did some kind of 180º cat backflip manuever before bringing his sorry ass back to the house ... all in about 1.5 seconds.

And just like a cat, he is now staring accusingly at me.


UPDATE 7 (Monday, 7:00am Central):

About an hour ago Katrina made landfall at Plaquemines Parish in SE Louisiana.

Mark Sudduth of Hurricanetrack.com is thinking that Katrina will move on a path just East of New Orleans. That would be some good news.

In Baldwin County, south of I-10 and about 140 miles from Katrina's center, we are being pounded by exceptionally powerful Tropical Storm Force winds, with higher gusts. It's gonna get worse between now and about noon.

Heck, she feels like she's coming right up the middle of Baldwin County and if we didn't have the wonders of modern technology and hurricane tracking, I'd swear that Katrina had made a direct hit on the coast of Alabama.

I don't even want to think about what it's like closer to Katrina.

I need more coffee.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Katrina: Potentially Catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane

UPDATE 6 (Monday, 1:00am Central):

Katrina remains a CAT-5. Katrina is 80 miles South of the mouth of the Mississippi River; 140 miles South-Southeast of New Orleans.

Maximum Sustained Winds: still 160mph with higher gusts.

Minimum Central Pressure: 908 MB (a little good news -- higher than previous report; indicates slight weakening.)

Coastal Storm Surge Flooding: expected to be 18 to 22 feet above normal tide levels near and to the east of where the center makes landfall. Locally as high as 28 feet along with large and dangerous battering waves.

Storm surge is going to be a big problem East of the center -- all the way to the Florida Panhandle. Mobile Bay will probably experience 12-15 ft surge.

Hurricane force winds extend out to 105 miles.

Tropical storm force winds extend out to 230 miles.

TSF winds are really starting to blow in Baldwin County south of I-10. It'll be worse by daylight.

Time to catch some Zzzzzzzzs. Back later.


GOOD GUY ALERT (Sunday, 11:19pm Central):

Mark Sudduth of Hurricanetrack.com

Check out his commentary and videos. He is the best tracker out there.

(and this makes up for the Idiot Alert which may have caused you to lose your supper or blow coffee on your monitor and keyboard)


IDIOT ALERT (Sunday, 11:04pm Central):

I think I just saw an idiot who some of us know as H.M. being interviewed by a local New Orleans TV station. For those not familiar with said creature, you don't want to know. Trust me.


UPDATE 5 (Sunday, 10:33pm Central):

"but the Tropical Storm Force winds have stopped as if someone flicked the OFF switch." Well, she turned the switch back ON. Winds are starting to pick up again.


UPDATE 4 (Sunday, 10:00pm Central):

Katrina remains a CAT-5. Expected to make landfall at CAT-5 or CAT-4. Katrina is 105 miles South of the mouth of the Mississippi River; 170 miles South-Southeast of New Orleans.

Maximum Sustained Winds: 160mph with higher gusts

Minimum Central Pressure: 904 MB (again, not good -- an Air Force Reserve unit reconnaissance aircraft will be reaching the center of Katrina very shortly.)

Coastal Storm Surge Flooding: expected to be 18 to 22 feet above normal tide levels near and to the east of where the center makes landfall. Locally as high as 28 feet along with large and dangerous battering waves.

Hurricane force winds extend out to 105 miles.

Tropical storm force winds extend out to 230 miles.

It's gotten very quiet and calm in Baldwin County south of I-10... for what it's worth .. I'm not sure if that means Katrina is in the process of turning more Northwesterly ... but the Tropical Storm Force winds have stopped as if someone flicked the OFF switch.


UPDATE 3 (Sunday, 9:00pm Central):

Katrina is about 110 miles South of the mouth of the Mississippi River, moving at 11mph toward the North-Northwest. A turn to the North is expected over the next 24 hours.

Maximum Sustained Winds: 160mph with higher gusts.

Minimum Central Pressure: 904 MB (not good -- the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm. Pressure has dropped since last report.)

Coastal Storm Surge Flooding: expected to be 18 to 22 feet above normal tide levels near and to the east of where the center makes landfall. Locally as high as 28 feet along with large and dangerous battering waves.

Hurricane force winds extend out to 105 miles.

Tropical storm force winds extend out to 230 miles.

Infrared at 8:15pm CDT -- This is not good for the Big Easy or the nation. Katrina is tracking to hit either head-on or to the west of New Orleans.

Tropical Storm Force winds are now arriving in Baldwin County, south of I-10.

This reminds me of the evening before Ivan hit -- which is pretty incredible considering we're about 145 miles East of New Orleans.

Not sure if we'll have power much longer -- lights flickered for the first time.


UPDATE 2 (Sunday, 2:00pm Central):

Katrina is about 165 miles South-Southeast of New Orleans, moving at 13mph toward the Northwest. A turn toward the North-Northwest is expected over the next 24 hours.

Maximum Sustained Winds: 175mph

Minimum Central Pressure: 906 MB

Coastal Storm Surge Flooding: expected to be 18 to 22 feet above normal tide levels near and to the east of where the center makes landfall. Locally as high as 28 feet along with large and dangerous battering waves.

Hurricane force winds extend out to 105 miles.

Tropical storm force winds extend out to 205 miles.

Infrared at 12:45pm CDT

Category Five Hurricane:

Winds greater than 155 mph (135 kt or 249 km/hr). Storm surge generally greater than 18 ft above normal. Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. All shrubs, trees, and signs blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Severe and extensive window and door damage. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 ft above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles (8-16 km) of the shoreline may be required. Only 3 Category Five Hurricanes have made landfall in the United States since records began: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Hurricane Camille (1969), and Hurricane Andrew in August, 1992. The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane struck the Florida Keys with a minimum pressure of 892 mb--the lowest pressure ever observed in the United States. Hurricane Camille struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast causing a 25-foot storm surge, which inundated Pass Christian. Hurricane Andrew of 1992 made landfall over southern Miami-Dade County, Florida causing 26.5 billion dollars in losses--the costliest hurricane on record. In addition, Hurricane Gilbert of 1988 was a Category Five hurricane at peak intensity and is the strongest Atlantic tropical cyclone on record with a minimum pressure of 888 mb.

At approximately 1:30pm CDT, East-bound traffic on the Bay Way (I-10 over Mobile Bay) was heavy and moving at about 40mph. A lot of Mississippi tags. West of the Wallace Tunnel, East-bound traffic was backed up about 3 miles and moving at about 5mph.

Remember, wherever the center makes landfall, it's the area to the East that is in the most danger. The Beast from the East winds are incredibly destructive. And the storm surge will inundate that area as well.

And another reminder: while Katrina appears headed for New Orleans, anything can happen in the last 2-6 hours. In other words, Katrina could jog back to the Northeast and hit Gulfport head-on which would be very bad for both Gulfport and Biloxi. Katrina could even hit Biloxi head-on. In that case, Moss Point and Pascagoula sustain significant damage -- even Mobile.

And no, I have not ruled out the bitch turning back on Mobile or Baldwin County. Not likely, but a possibility that I just had to throw out to give the locals happy thoughts.

Katrina: Category 4 and Strengthening

UPDATE 1 (Sunday, 8:30am Central):

Katrina is now a CAT-5 Hurricane.

So I come back from walking Lizzie the Legendary Leopard Dog, and see that Housewife has brought us up-to-date. Katrina is a monster.

Unrelated note to you know who you are: Don't make me start calling you "404 Not Found".


Katrina is about 250 miles South-Southeast of New Orleans, moving at 10mph toward the West-Northwest.

Maximum Sustained Winds: 150mph

Hurricane force winds extend to 85 miles
Tropical storm force winds extend to 185 miles

Infrared at 6:15am CDT

Headed right for New Orleans.

This could be one of the worst disasters in our nation's history.

Hurricane Katrina is CAT-4 and gaining strength and growing larger -- approaching the size, strength and reach of Hurricane Ivan before Ivan made landfall. Ivan slowed down to a CAT-3 about two hours before he hit.

Even if Katrina slowed down to CAT-3, it will not be enough to save New Orleans should Katrina continue on her present course. New Orleans, which is below sea level, will be inundated with storm surge as high as 20 feet.

This is a very, very serious situation.

According to The Times-Picayune:

Walter Maestri, Jefferson Parish's emergency management director, gauged the threat in terms that chilled New Orleanians old enough to remember the summers of 1965 and 1969: Katrina was following Hurricane Betsy's track, he said, with the strength of Hurricane Camille.

A computer model run by the LSU Hurricane Center late Saturday confirmed that. It indicated the metropolitan area was poised to see a repeat of Betsy's flooding, or worse, with storm surge of as much as 16 feet moving up the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet and topping levees in Chalmette and eastern New Orleans, and pushing water into the 9th Ward and parts of Mid-City. High water flowing from Lake Pontchartrain through St. Charles Parish also would flood over levees into Kenner, according to the model.

Also flooded would be much of the north shore below Interstate 12, including Slidell, Madisonville, Mandeville and Lacombe, according to the model.

And the model doesn't take into account the 5 to 10-foot waves that would be on top of the surge, which could top levees all along the south shore of the lake.

By mid-afternoon, officials in Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, Lafourche, Terrebonne and Jefferson parishes had called for voluntary or mandatory evacuations.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin followed at 5 p.m., issuing a voluntary evacuation.

Nagin said late Saturday that he's having his legal staff look into whether he can order a mandatory evacuation of the city, a step he's been hesitant to do because of potential liability on the part of the city for closing hotels and other businesses. [Ed. Does this tell you anything about the people who run New Orleans?]

"Come the first break of light in the morning, you may have the first mandatory evacuation of New Orleans," Nagin told WWL-TV.

St. Tammany officials ordered evacuations of the parish's low-lying areas by today at noon.

Contraflow in effect

State Police activated the state's redesigned contraflow plan Saturday at 4 p.m., allowing traffic to use both sides of Interstates 55, 59 and 10 to evacuate New Orleans to the north, east and west after early afternoon traffic left westbound lanes of I-10 backed up bumper-to-bumper for miles in the 93-degree heat. Within hours, however, the contraflow system seemed to have alleviated much of the logjam.

The Crescent City Connection and the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway suspended toll collections to move traffic more quickly.

Those leaving the city by air found Louis Armstrong International Airport busy, but all airlines operated with normal schedules Saturday, airport spokeswoman Michelle Duffourc said.

But would-be passengers expecting to make a last-minute departure today may be hard-pressed to find a flight. Delta Airlines already had suspended all flights today, and United Airlines was planning to suspend its afternoon flights.

Duffourc said other airlines probably will make their decisions based on how quickly the weather deteriorates.

"My guess is most will fly till midday," she said.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Go West, Katrina, Go West

The weather is beautiful here. There was a hint of Autumn in the air for a few minutes earlier this morning. Of course, we have quite a few hot days to go, but the mornings and evenings should start to be a little more pleasant -- unlike the past 3-4 weeks. The humidity was bad this summer, especially about an hour after sundown ... then all night and into the morning. The waterfront and coastal areas usually benefit from Gulf breezes during the summer .. at least enough to make us glad we don't live further inland -- not this year. It was nicer 100 miles inland.

Katrina is out there stirring up trouble. When she hit South Florida, she was a Category 1 hurricane and she reminded everyone that a CAT-1 can be a beeatch. She is now a CAT-3 and could strengthen to a CAT-4.

She's about 350 miles SE of Dauphin Island, moving West at about 7mph and is expected to make a turn to the NW ... striking anywhere between Gulfport, MS and Lake Charles, LA.

New Orleans had best get their ducks in a row. That city has been on its ass with hurricane preparation. Ordering 100,000 body bags from FEMA a few days before Hurricane Ivan is NOT preparing for a hurricane ... that is negligence bordering on criminality. There's little indication that they've made any progress since last year.

I'm gonna go catch up on blog reading.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I Reckon Ya'll Know What This Means

yep, to the swamps ... for awhile.

Aiight, AAH -- I know ya got tired of looking at the gators last time so here's some variety:

Diamondback Rattlesnake

(Click on photo for Close-Up)

And here's something to ponder -- whatever happened with the spiders under Windsor Castle. Ya'll remember that story back in Summer 2001? I don't think the UK press has ever done any follow-ups. Now mind you, I haven't googled recently. Bringing this story back to light just occurred to me about 10 minutes ago as I was thinking: OK, OK ... so they don't like my gators... hmmm... I got sumpin for 'em!

Mystery Spider Discovered At Windsor Castle
June 25, 2001 8:00 CDT

According to a recent report by The Guardian, there is an unknown species of spider on the loose in the bowels of Windsor Castle. These mysterious arachnids are said to be up to three inches long, venomous, with jaws strong enough to puncture human skin.

The spiders were first seen two weeks ago in an underground maintenance tunnel in Windsor Great Park, not far from the Queen Mother's weekend residence, Royal Lodge. An entomologist is now trying to identify them saying they could be either a new, underground-dwelling species or one previously thought extinct.

British Telecom engineers doing maintenance work at Windsor opened a manhole cover and found the rust-red and black spiders swarming all over the place.

"They're large and there are many of them," said a BT spokesman. "Our engineers were not attacked, but we have stopped work until we know exactly what they are."

Graham Smith, of the conservation organization, Project-Ark, has taken samples to study. He described the spiders as an "extremely exciting find".

"The species is certainly venomous, and the jaws are strong enough to penetrate the human skin. It will take a few days to work out how dangerous they are," said Mr. Smith. "There could be literally thousands and thousands of them. It would be no surprise if they are living underneath Windsor Castle itself."

Remotely operated cameras will be deployed in the tunnels around the castle to find out more. Samples of the spiders' webs are also being analyzed.

Residents of the park have been warned not to touch until more is known.

...warned not to touch? As if.

Friday, August 19, 2005

RIP: Jess Nicks

Stevie's dad.

I am a huge fan of Stevie Nicks and have been for about 30 years. What red-blooded American male of my generation is not? She and her family are tight-knit and she had a great relationship with her father.

From The Arizona Republic:

Aug. 17, 2005 12:00 AM

NORTHEAST VALLEY - Jess Nicks, father of Fleetwood Mac singer and Paradise Valley resident Stevie Nicks, died Aug. 10 from heart failure. He was 80 years old.

In addition to Stevie Nicks, he is survived by his wife, Barbara, and son Christopher.

Nicks, a longtime Valley resident, was the owner of the now-defunct concert venue Compton Terrace, which he built in 1979 after retiring as president and chairman of Armour/Greyhound.


A longtime sufferer from heart disease, Nicks, who had undergone three heart operations, was also involved with the Arizona Heart Institute, serving as chairman of the board for three decades.

Despite illness, Nicks appeared July 20 at the groundbreaking of the Arizona Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Research building.

Along with his daughter, he helped raise millions of dollars for the institute. Stevie and Fleetwood Mac performed numerous benefit concerts for the organization, ranging from an intimate private performance in 1996 to a recent concert with Don Henley on Aug. 5 at the Dodge Theatre.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Some great bloggin' goin' on out theah

Jett at All blogged up and nowhere to go gives some tips on mixtapes (she knows how to do it and she tells it funny) and a warning to Horny Little Toadboy. That boy might not understand the concept of "Danger Close", but that's exactly where he stands with Jett "If You Think I'M Bad, Just Piss Off Her Daddy One Good Time" Superior.

AlphaPatriot has written the best post on the Gaza pullout, Israeli Pride; Israeli Angst, that I have seen on the net.

An American Housewife is all over the ACLU. If the ACLU had a tenth of her common sense, we'd all be happier.

Janette and Stacy are showing up in some Google searches that remind us that there are some sick puppies out there on the net.

Susanna at cut on the bias is such a smart writer. I wish I could write like her. Check out her posts on:

a Birmingham, Alabama mother who joined Cindy Sheehan in Crawford, Texas; the local Birmingham media's coverage of it; and Susanna's scathing email critique of said coverage

the consequences of opening marriage to other configurations of sentient beings

Absolute insanity over NYC police recruit salaries

and her thoughts on Alabama Minutemen off to help in Arizona ... heck, just read everything she writes :)

Jo is slamming the ACLU. Man, I tell ya these ACLU blogbursts are great!

Alabamian over at Red State Diaries points out that Birmingham is the 19th most liberal city in the United States ahead of New York, Boston, and Los Angeles. (pssst... they're liberal over there, but I like 'em).

Rightwingsparkle has some news about Cindy Sheehan .. and some good advice.

spacemonkey is a funny dude. I'm addicted to the The Flying Space Monkey Chronicles.

Check this out at Stop The ACLU: The ACLU calls school board members terrorists. They better watch out. The folks in Tangipahoa Parish will serve them up at the next Cochon de Lait.

The 'Grub Street' Plumber talks with his 95 year old grandmother about Hiroshima.

The Gun-Toting Liberal didn't think he knew what to blog about today. He quickly got over his case of blogger's block and got on a ranting roll. Another liberal that I can't help but like :)

Varifrank notes his 1st Anniversary as a blogger. He's one of the best.

Able Danger: Tony Shaffer Talks...and talks and talks and talks

Below is the link to and the text of Standard Form 312 (Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement). It is a document that everyone who works with classified information MUST sign.

Standard Form 312

But first . . .

The more I hear from LTC Tony Shaffer, the more he seems to me to be a loose cannon. I got kinda ill when he informed the nation that he had met with DOD officials and he feels sure they want to get to the bottom of this. My first thought was who the fuck does this guy think he is?! Then he goes on the Michael Savage radio show . . .

Look, I don't know Shaffer, but I know the type after 2 decades of being an intelligence officer.

He is way out of line. The information he is divulging to the world (yes, to include our enemies) is not helping solve whatever intel problems there are.

All those writing about how credible Shaffer sounds are forgetting that he is a military intelligence officer who ain't supposed to be sounding any kind of way unless he is reporting to his chain-of-command or testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence or the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which oh by the way, are the proper channels to air his concerns.

Hell, you shouldn't even know his name. As for all this talk about anonymous sources and the need to come forward -- wouldn't even be an issue, if he had testified before either of the intelligence committees. He would have remained anonymous and the source would have been the Chairman of the committee, IF the committee agreed that this information was for public disclosure. That's the way things are supposed to work. If the American people don't like the way things are supposed to work, then we can call for change.

But Shaffer is hitting every talk show out there. This guy won't shut up. I'm starting to hear the Mighty Mouse theme, "Here I Come To Save The Day", when I listen to Shaffer.

What exactly has the public learned about Mohammed Atta that we didn't know days after 9-11? That he was living in this country? Old news. That the intel community knew about him? Old news (how else do you think the public knew the hijackers' names within days)? That there were information-sharing problems within the intel community? Old News. That Jamie Gorelick's "wall" contributed immeasurably to the failure of information-sharing? Old News. That the 9-11 Commission was more about political theater than problem-solving? Shazaaaam!

And don't get me started about Congress abrogating their duties/responsibilities by appointing commissions and panels. Members of commissions and panels are NOT our elected representatives! 9-11, most especially, was not something to slough off on a commission of people outside our elected government. The absurdity!

No, the only new light that LTC Shaffer has shed on anything is the operational details of a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information program. He's out there telling anyone who will listen.

He's definitely getting his 15 minutes of fame. He also seems to be relishing it. He's too blind to see that most of the people writing and talking about him now will forget his name about 3 seconds into the next big story. And a lot of the talking and writing is about finger-pointing and politics and has not a fucking thing to do with national security and improving our intelligence community.

Do we want our intelligence officers/agents/analysts doing what Shaffer is doing now? Is that what we want? If so, we are collectively losing our minds.

Tell ya something else, Curt Weldon should be ashamed of himself for his political grandstanding. This is stuff that should be discussed in closed hearings before the intelligence committees. I'm sick and tired of these types. They do nothing to help solve problems; in fact, they just create more.

And I can't emphasize enough how important the chain-of-command is. LTC Shaffer is operating way outside that chain and the implication is that he could not trust the Colonels, Brigadier Generals, Major Generals, Lieutenant Generals, Generals, the Secretary of Defense, and his Commander-in-Chief, the President.

Apparently, neither could he trust any member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence or House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

He's out there, waaaaaaaaaaay out there.

Anyway, here's the agreement he signed, that everyone who works with classified information signs:

(All emphases are mine)

AN AGREEMENT BETWEEN (Name of Individual - Printed or typed) AND THE UNITED STATES

1. Intending to be legally bound, I hereby accept the obligations contained in this Agreement in consideration of my being granted access to classified information. As used in this Agreement, classified information is marked or unmarked classified information, including oral communications, that is classified under the standards of Executive Order 12958, or under any other Executive order or statute that prohibits the unauthorized disclosure of information in the interest of national security; and unclassified information that meets the standards for classification and is in the process of a classification determination as provided in Sections 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4(e) of Executive Order 12958, or under any other Executive order or statute that requires protection for such information in the interest of national security. I understand and accept that by being granted access to classified information, special confidence and trust shall be placed in me by the United States Government.

2. I hereby acknowledge that I have received a security indoctrination concerning the nature and protection of classified information, including the procedures to be followed in ascertaining whether other persons to whom I contemplate disclosing this information have been approved for access to it, and that I understand these procedures.

3. I have been advised that the unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized retention, or negligent handling of classified information by me could cause damage or irreparable injury to the United States or could be used to advantage by a foreign nation. I hereby agree that I will never divulge classified information to anyone unless: (a) I have officially verified that the recipient has been properly authorized by the United States Government to receive it; or (b) I have been given prior written notice of authorization from the United States Government Department or Agency (hereinafter Department or Agency) responsible for the classification of the information or last granting me a security clearance that such disclosure is permitted. I understand that if I am uncertain about the classification status of information, I am required to confirm from an authorized official that the information is unclassified before I may disclose it, except to a person as provided in (a) or (b), above. I further understand that I am obligated to comply with laws and regulations that prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of classified information.

4. I have been advised that any breach of this Agreement may result in the termination of any security clearances I hold; removal from any position of special confidence and trust requiring such clearances; or the termination of my employment or other relationships with the Departments or Agencies that granted my security clearance or clearances. In addition, I have been advised that any unauthorized disclosure of classified information by me may constitute a violation, or violations, of United States criminal laws, including the provisions of Sections 641, 793, 794, 798, *952 and 1924, Title 18, United States Code, * the provisions of Section 783(b), Title 50, United States Code, and the provisions of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. I recognize that nothing in this Agreement constitutes a waiver by the United States of the right to prosecute me for any statutory violation.

5. I hereby assign to the United States Government all royalties, remunerations, and emoluments that have resulted, will result or may result from any disclosure, publication, or revelation of classified information not consistent with the terms of this Agreement.

6. I understand that the United States Government may seek any remedy available to it to enforce this Agreement including, but not limited to, application for a court order prohibiting disclosure of information in breach of this Agreement.

7. I understand that all classified information to which I have access or may obtain access by signing this Agreement is now and will remain the property of, or under the control of the United States Government unless and until otherwise determined by an authorized official or final ruling of a court of law. I agree that I shall return all classified materials which have, or may come into my possession or for which I am responsible because of such access: (a) upon demand by an authorized representative of the United States Government; (b) upon the conclusion of my employment or other relationship with the Department or Agency that last granted me a security clearance or that provided me access to classified information; or (c) upon the conclusion of my employment or other relationship that requires access to classified information. If I do not return such materials upon request, I understand that this may be a violation of Section 793 and/or 1924, Title 18, United States Code, a United States criminal law.

8. Unless and until I am released in writing by an authorized representative of the United States Government, I understand that all conditions and obligations imposed upon me by this Agreement apply during the time I am granted access to classified information, and at all times thereafter.

9. Each provision of this Agreement is severable. If a court should find any provision of this Agreement to be unenforceable, all other provisions of this Agreement shall remain in full force and effect.

(Continue on reverse.)

10. These restrictions are consistent with and do not supersede, conflict with or otherwise alter the employee obligations, rights or liabilities created by Executive Order 12958; Section 7211 of Title 5, United States Code (governing disclosures to Congress); Section 1034 of Title 10, United States Code, as amended by the Military Whistleblower Protection Act (governing disclosure to Congress by members of the military): Section 2302(b)(8) of Title 5, United States Code, as amended by the Whistleblower Protection Act (governing disclosures of illegality, waste, fraud, abuse or public health or safety threats); the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 (50 U.S.C. 421 et seq.) (governing disclosures that expose confidential Government agents), and the statutes which protect against disclosure that may compromise the national security, including Sections 641, 793, 794, 798, 952 and 1924 of Title 18, United States Code, and Section 4(b) of the Subversive Activities Act of 1950 (50 U.S.C. Section 783(b)). The definitions, requirements, obligations, rights, sanctions and liabilities created by said Executive Order and listed statutes are incorporated into this Agreement and are controlling.

11. I have read this Agreement carefully and my questions, if any, have been answered. I acknowledge that the briefing officer has made available to me the Executive Order and statutes referenced in this Agreement and its implementing regulation (32 CFR Section 2003.20) so that I may read them at this time, if I so choose.


STANDARD FORM 312 (Rev. 1-00)
Prescribed by NARA/ISOO
32 CFR 2003, E.O. 12958

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Able Danger: There's Something Happening Here

But what it is ain't exactly clear.

I don't know the details of Able Danger. If I did, I certainly would not say so. I don't talk, write, whisper or blog about intelligence operations.

I signed a nondisclosure agreement.

So did LTC Tony Shaffer, the military intelligence officer who is now talking.

A lot of people jumping on this story don't know jackshit about intelligence operations; the people who do know a thing or two about intelligence operations aren't talking -- not in a public way -- except for LTC Shaffer.

I watched the video of his appearance on Fox News. It didn't sit right with me... I don't know if it was the guy's demeanor or just the fact that he's way out on a limb .. I could almost hear it cracking.

He went public? On Fox News? National television? A military intelligence officer talking about a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information program? Outside the chain-of-command? Or are we to understand that he is speaking for the U.S. Intelligence Community and the Secretary of Defense and the President of the United States? I don't think so.

I'm not necessarily questioning what he said, but rather how he went about it. He broke the law for one. Hell yeah, he did. You just don't go on national television and blab about intelligence operations.

There are procedures for disclosing intelligence information. Going on Fox News is not one of them.

Power Line had called for the source of the Able Danger story to be identified saying that the source's credibility could not be established otherwise. Maybe the Power Line lawyers will now represent LTC Shaffer. If so, I recommend that they familiarize themselves with sections 641, 793, 794, 798, 952, and 1924, Title 18, United States Code, and the provisions of Section 783(b), Title 50, United States Code.

This whole thing has the feel of keystone cops. Not the Able Danger unit, but the unauthorized disclosures about the unit.

Again, I'm not commenting on the substance of his remarks. I'm very familiar with the politics involved, the "Gorelick Wall", etc, etc. I'm just saying that something about the way the information is being disclosed is not computing.

I agree with Austin Bay. It's time for President Bush to speak up.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Catching Up

I'm catching up on 10 days of missed blog reading and I reckon I loaded up too many tabs in Firefox -- I had like a hunnert loaded up -- and my puter froze. It probably didn't help that I had about 10 other applications running, not including those that run in the background that I'd kill if they weren't completely necessary. Before the puter froze, the screen displayed some retro-strobelight action. It was pretty cool.

BTW, if you aren't using Firefox, you should be (nevermind what I did above. that was my fault, not the fault of Firefox). You won't go back to Internet Explorer ... or maybe not until Bill Gates decides that Internet Explorer needs to be modernized -- he hasn't updated Internet Explorer in years really except for patches. I have this vision of the IE development team bombarding one another's cubicles with paper airplanes as they surf the net with Firefox.

I'm still catching up. It takes me awhile. I've got a system. It'd help if I'd use it, but I can't help clicking on just about any link that any of ya'll have pointed out and then I follow that to other links that other bloggers have pointed out and before I know it, I'm somewhere I didn't think I'd be and about 2 hours behind where I planned to be ... not that that's bad -- it's kinda how I like to travel when I'm not in a hurry. Take this rural road to the next rural road. The interstate gets ya there, but it's like reading the first and last chapters of a book.

Which makes me think of something else.

When you're traveling somewhere at night, passing through little towns or driving through the countryside, and you see the glowing, curtained windows of a house, do you ever wonder about the people who live there?... what they're doing at that moment? And then do you think about the millions of houses and millions of families and just wonder about it all as you think of Earth as the little blue ball that it is... kinda suspended out there in the diamond-studded black velvet vastness of space .. tilted, rotating, revolving ... just so ... and that if it didn't do what it does just so, there wouldn't be any lit, curtained windows to wonder about?

Aiight, now that I've got that pass-the-dutchie moment behind me, back to reading -- system or not.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Later Gators

I'd often heard that Tennessee has its share of alligators. I was doubtful until I saw this one in a pond just outside Knoxville:

I'm not impressed. Hillbilly gators just don't look as threatening as swamp gators:

... even when swamp gators are sleeping:

He looks dead, but he ain't. Free Advice: Don't kick "dead" alligators or they will eat your Yankee/tourist ass. Swamp gators will, anyway. I'm not sure what a Tennessee Hillbilly Gator would do. Heck, they're probably used to being kicked and other stuff [dueling banjos playing in the background].

. . . back in a few days .. Tuesday probably .. maybe I can find a puter to blog from, but don't hold me to it.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Monk: Jimmy Carter Disgraceful

In response to Carter: Guantanamo Detentions Disgraceful.

Lower Alabama News Department
Monday, August 1, 2005; 12:32 PM

LOWER ALABAMA -- Monk said today that former President Jimmy Carter is an embarrassment and gives extremists an excuse to attack the United States.

Monk also criticized Carter's criticism of the United States as "unnecessary and unjust."

"I think Jimmy "Peanut" Carter is a disgrace to the U.S.A.," he told anyone who would listen. "I wouldn't say he's the cause of terrorism, but he has given impetus and excuses to potential terrorists to lash out at our country and justify their despicable acts."

Monk said, however, that terrorist acts could not be justified, and that while Jimmy Carter "may be an aggravating factor ... he's not the basis of terrorism."

Jimmy Carter has long accused the U.S. government of unjustly detaining terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base on the southeastern tip of Cuba. Hundreds of terrorists have been held indefinitely at the prison and have not been able to kill more Americans.

"What Jimmy Carter thinks about Guantanamo Bay does not represent the views of the American people," Monk said. "I'm embarrassed about him, I think he's wrong. I think he does give terrorists an unwarranted excuse to use the despicable means to hurt innocent people."

Earlier this month, Monk called for Jimmy Carter to shut up, saying he was an embarassment to the United States. He also said that the United States needs to make sure Jimmy Carter stays on his peanut farm in Georgia.

Carter, who won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, has been an embarrassment to the United States for years.

"I thought then, and I think now, that Peanut's criticism of the United States was unnecessary and unjust. And I think the premises on which it was launched were false," Monk said.

Army Morale and Reporters With No Sense Of Irony

About 2 weeks ago, Robert Burns reported that a majority of soldiers in Iraq say morale is low. I meant to blog about it at the time, but didn't get around to it. So here goes.

The Army Medicine report he cites is hardly earth-shaking if you take the time to read the whole thing and consider that the report is mostly talking about combat service support and National Guard and Army Reserve personnel.

It's no surprise to most military folks that morale is highest in the units that are highly trained and that face the most danger. When's the last time you heard about low morale in the Rangers or Special Forces? When's the last time you've read a story about Regular Army infantry soldiers complaining of low morale?

It's also no surprise to most military folks that morale is generally lower in combat support and combat service support units -- or that National Guard and Army Reserve units generally don't share the same level of morale as the Regular Army.

Most news reports about low morale are almost without meaning. "Army morale low" is one-over-the-world-handwave bullshit. It tells us almost nothing. Pretty much standard fare for the mainstream media.

Here are some headlines that would grab my attention:

"82nd Airborne Division Suffering From Low Morale"

"1st Cavalry Division Struggles With Morale Problems"

"Infantry Soldiers Say Low Morale Is Impacting Unit Missions"

Not that the underlying story would be accurate, but if it were I would start being concerned.

So I take media reports of low morale with more than a grain of salt.

Even so, imagine, if you will, living in these conditions:

- Your work place is about 6,000 miles from home, give or take a thousand.

- there's no such thing as an 8-hour day or a 40-hour work week. You rarely if ever get a break from work, except when you're sleeping and even then "work" (such as mortar rounds fluttering in -- they sound just like a covey of quail taking flight) can disrupt that. When your shift ends, you don't go home to the comfort of your house or apartment.

- The outside daytime temperatures reach about 120º -- add about 30º if you're in an armored vehicle.

- You get chilled at night, chilled enough to make your teeth chatter -- even though it might be 75º.

- Sand and dust get in everything -- your weapon, your eyes, your nose, your boots, your uniform, your sleeping bag (there's some break from that if you are lucky enough to sleep in a fixed facility as opposed to a tent or no tent).

- You have little to no time for yourself -- even when doing the 3 S's (shit, shower and shave).

- While you get plenty of food, it is not necessarily what you would choose to eat at home. Delivery is a chow truck. Dining-in is what you do when the chow truck gets there. Dining-out is eating MRE's on top of your vehicle.

- You have very few of the small conveniences that most all civilians take for granted. You can't jump in your car and go for a drive or walk in the park or go to a ballgame or go to the beach or just be lazy and lie in bed all morning reading the Sunday papers.

- You miss your loved ones -- your children, your wife or husband, your parents, your brothers and sisters, your girlfriend or boyfriend. If you have children, imagine being away from them for a year. Imagine what that, alone, is like.

- The younger you are, the more you think you're missing out on things back home and the more susceptible to homesickness you are.

- If you're lucky enough to get internet access from time to time (it really is a new world), you're hard-pressed to find anything good being reported about what you're doing -- unless you read the blogs. The milblogs know and get the word out, but you know most Americans don't even know what a blog is. They get their news from the mainstream media.

- You rarely have doubts about your mission, but you often doubt whether the folks back home really appreciate what you're doing.

- There are people that want to kill you any way that they can. You live with that 24 hours a day -- when you're driving down the road in your HMMV or helping the locals with a problem (maybe supplies for a hospital) or pulling an engine pack on a Bradley (or any of the thousands of ordinary tasks performed by soldiers of different Military Occupational Specialties) or just trying to get some much needed sleep.

- You may have lost buddies. You may have seen them die or even held them as they died. You've seen others wounded. You may have even been wounded yourself.

- You know that if you're lucky enough to make it home, home is days and days; weeks and weeks, months and months away.

Now tell me -- how would your morale be? Piss poor to the point of pitching a fit and telling everyone to go fuck themselves and that you just want to go home?

Or could you overcome all the negatives and have a generally positive outlook?

Sure you could -- if you are trained and well led. Trained to standard on hundreds of common and special tasks that would overwhelm the average civilian; trained to be mentally and physically tough; trained to work as part of a team; trained to accomplish your mission under conditions that most civilians cannot imagine. Led by men who truly lead by example; led by leaders who you trust to smartly lead you through the valley of death.

It's always interesting to look at how Robert Burns and his ilk have reported on Army problems in the past.

I'll tell you when morale and readiness were really a problem across the board in the Army: during the drawdown years of the Clinton Administration. After 8 years of Clinton, the Army was not a happy place.

Did Robert Burns or any MSM reporter write about morale problems when the Army was slashed from 18 to 10 divisions? when over 300,000 soldiers were sent packing? when thousands of mid-grade officers and noncomissioned officers with over 15 years of service, but less than 18 were given the boot without retirement? when political correctness indoctrination nearly paralyzed professional relations between male and female soldiers? when Consideration Of Others Training very nearly trumped combat training? when Army operational tempo (missions) skyrocketed to 300% even as the Army was being cut nearly in half? when young officers were leaving the Army in droves? when 20 out of 22 Army Training Centers were given a C-4 rating (that's an F)?

One reporter did -- Rowan Scarborough of The Washington Times.

Tom Ricks of The Washington Post was handed a huge story on a silver platter and declined to write about it. The same goes for national security/military reporters at every other major daily -- and Mr. Robert Burns, military writer for the Associated Press.

Of course, after Scarborough broke the story (stories, actually), the others started to chime in. Scarborough's work had a direct impact on the 2000 Presidential campaign. Clinton and Gore had been saying everything was rosy. They had slammed then-Governor George W. Bush for suggesting that there were military readiness problems. Rowan Scarborough's reporting took us behind the curtain and got to the truth of the matter. When Scarborough was done, Clinton-Gore didn't have a leg to stand on.

No thanks to irony-free Robert "Low Morale" Burns.