Sunday, July 10, 2005

Iraq Analysis, Loose Lips and Cameras That Never Work When You Need Them

After reading this mornings headlines, I thought about withdrawing part if not all of my post on Iraq missing from the news. But, it hit me that my analysis is not wrong. Iraq was missing from the news for almost three days barring a minute's coverage of the four US casualties on Friday, even sadly, the missing SEAL in Afghanistan only received a few minutes of coverage. Today's news hardly changes the analysis:

AP - 23 Killed in Suicide Attacks: BAGHDAD, Iraq - Suicide bombings struck Iraq on Sunday, killing at least 23 and wounding dozens more in three attacks on an army recruiting center, a police convoy and civilians, authorities said.

Three. Suicide attacks, of course, to show that they are still committed, but the places of attack indicate the nature of the enemy. They were unable to pull of an attack against US and Iraqi military forces directly. All of the attacks were on extremely "soft" targets. Even in the midst of the fourth major operation in rounding up insurgents, a time when forces routinely take higher casualties, they are still not being attacked successfully. This insures that the insurgents continue to have to attack super soft targets since they are operationally unable to do so on any scale against protected forces.

The attack at the recruiting station took place when over 400 civilian would-be-recruits were gathered at the gate. The bomber was not able to make it into the base. The only issue continues to be the inability for local recruiting stations to maintain order and security in a large crowd beyond its gates. One wonders why these facilities have not set up a separate entry point, not the front gate, that consists of narrow, zig zagging corridors only the width of one or two men across and man check points at intervening sections where people queuing can be searched more than once (retro spective of elections and, dare I say, Israeli checkpoints). Particularly in light of the AP note that this base has been atacked at least four times before.

However, that last note does bring some things into perspective. This base and would be recruits have been hit four times and yet men are still lining up to sign up.

The other two targets for Sunday were also equally soft. Civilians on their way to work were ran into by a suicide bomber in a Mercedes Benz. According to authorities, there were no military or other government assetts anywhere close. So, why attack them? Because many of them work at a major hospital that does routinely receive supplies and assistance from Coalition forces.

The last attack was on an Iraqi police convoy carrying a police chief.

One other attack not mentioned here is the report of a family of nine in Sadr city that were murdered in the middle of the night. The entire family. The report went on to say that the Shi'a considered it an attack by Sunni in order to stir up sectarian strife, but it is too early to determine whether this is part of the Sunni and Shi'a contretempts or an internal issue within the Shi'a community itself as Sadr continues to try and keep control of the area.

In any case, while this indicates that the insurgents are still active, it is definitely not "coordinated" attacks and definitely is an indicates their wider ability to do multiple IED, VBIED and Suicide attacks on the same day is being diminished. They will, as I note in the analysis, continue to do some minimal daily attacks in order to show that they are still active even in the midst of these operations, but they are still having a problem doing 30-60 a day.

Fox news was reporting on the ticker this morning that the camera on the red bus in Tavistock Square was not working prior to the blast. Meaning that the one camera that could have given the most information about who, what and how the attacks were done has proven that Orwell's fear of "big brother" can be put to rest now. Big brother may be watching but he is often cheap and lazy when it comes to keeping his apparatuses for oppression up, much less spending time and money memorizing everyone's faces and recording them for a future selected to attend some overly efficient "re-education camp".

Now the British police will have to look at least 50 cameras and hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of footage to try to match riders getting on and off the bus at multiple lodations and determine if any of them were carrying the bag in question when they got on, but they didn't carry it off or if the bag parts are re-assembled enough they can look for the person or persons carrying the bag onto the bus. In either case, the investigation will now be extremely slow unless they get a lucky break and some commuter that is still alive remembers something specific like the terrorist was wearing a name tag, where they got on, what they were carrying and specifically had a conversation with the man where he said, "Hi! My name is Ali and I'm here to blow you away. Can you watch this bag for me while I get off at this stop?"

In essence, time is running out while a good, but controversial tool is proven uselss due to lackedasical management and repair. By the time they get any info, these men will have largely left England and flitted away to any Mediterranean Arab country where they can disappear and blend in with the others.

Terrorists - 1; Big Brother - 0

On another note, someone leaked a classified memo, marked "For British Eyes Only", regarding projected troop draw downs from the Ministry of Defense in Britain. While the MoD spokeswoman continues to point out that there are multiple plans based on different scenarios for troop posturing in Iraq (including those of the US), the AP article gives the explanation a *wink* and a *nod*, presenting this as a fait accompli.

The fact of the matter is, it was leaked from within MoD which means: someone has sold out their position and oath of office for money; the "anti-Iraq war" contingent within the MoD leaked the memo in order to force the government to explain and possibly adhere to this time table by stirring civilian demand and commentary; the Pro-war contingent leaked it in order to stir up controversy and demand to stay the course from other hawks (the least likely scenario, but must be entertained) or, last but not least, the MoD is very bad at OpSec and the memo was either thrown in the trash or passed to unsecure personnel like a clerk.

Mind you, this goes on within our own Pentagon, State Department and Government where oaths of office and allegience to country have a price or are subsumed by allegiance to party and ideas. One wonders how we were ever able to conduct a war against Nazi Germany had this been taking place. Of course, had it taken place, the news paper would have been boycotted out of existense if not had the editors prosecuted and the reporter would have been arrested until they gave up their source within the institution.

What's missing from the AP report is any commentary or from the MoD spokes person, is the inappropriate and frankly illegal act of leaking classified documents. One would think it comes under the heading of "espionage" in any country. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that the MoD or Pentagon would be hard pressed to search out and prosecute these folks, considering the number of people that might have had access and the time and trouble it would take to do so.

On a commentary regarding this leaked memo, it is very likely that the MoD spokes person's explanation of the memo is correct. It's probably one of many plans being done on any given day by any department in charge of military affairs in any country today regarding troop posturing and man power. The memo does state that its a projection for the end of 2006 and does cooberate Mr. Rumsfield's statements that there are benchmarks set in the progress of Iraq that will determine number of troops in the country and President Bush's remarks regarding "standing troops down" as Iraqi troops "stand up".

There are many questions one could ask about such statements including whether this is a signal to the anti-Iraq war camp in the government that they are getting their demand or a conciliatory action. In either case, regardless of not giving a "time line", commentary on troop movements is, as Mr. Rumsfield infamously says, "unhelpful" whether they are true or not.

As a last thought, I give way to the small, Machevillian conspiracy theory person inside of me that wonders if, on the odd chance, this isn't "counter information" leaked by the MoD itself to do just what we've said we don't want to do, give terrorists a timetable in which they can believe that we will withdraw, thus allowing terrorists to believe that they can reduce activities and conserve resources while waiting us out?

Then, the sane side of me takes over and tells me that this would be too Machevillian by far for an MoD and DoD that seems incapable of waging an information war in the media. Not to mention that the end of 2006 is a long way off and any enemy worth his salt would not give up inflicting as many casualties on the troops, infrastructure and civilians on the off chance that it doesn't go down exactly like that. It is what we have done and what we do today. Of course, we had to re-learn that lesson at Tora Bora. I hope.

Oh. I nearly forgot the Tom Clancy novel aspect. Are there enemy agents within the MoD and DoD?

What is likely is that it is a real assessment and projection, that it really was leaked to the "Mail", that the MoD suffers from "infiltration" as much as the DoD does from political dissidents, half baked employees looking for a buck or possibly even enemy agents. The first doesn't believe in war, the second doesn't care about war and the third cares very much about war and is hoping to win it.

Unlike we who will now spend our time discussing whether troop withdrawl is right or wrong and when it should happen rather than discussing and condemning what amounts to espionage, if not outright treason to leak a classified military document.

I don't think I'm overstating the case. The document was classified. The document was not a random choice of 30 such scenarios. They leaked what would be the most likely scenario based on recent comments from the leadership and projections of Iraqi force capability that has been noted to the press. And, they leaked it two days after the London bombing. That is a few too many coincidences.

It is espionage. In this day and age, we've come to accept that every activity can be and will be reported in an open press under the guise of freedom of the press. After recent events regarding first amendment rights for press and other members of the information world (ie, bloggers, radio announcers and campaign finance), it isn't unamazing to see that this little act gets shoved in the line with all the other concepts of a "free speech".

However, this isn't about a government crime, corruption, pork spending or a new bill with extra last minute amendments that are being hidden inside to facilitate fulfilling campaign promises of some Senator or House representative (or, more directly, an MP in Parliament). Even in a free and open society that prides itself on the availability of information, there are some things that should remain secret. Not the least of which is troop strength, operational ability, and plans for troop movements in and out or within a war zone.

Shame on the "Mail" for taking it and printing it.

One would think they would remember that "loose lips sink ships". But, of course they do and that was the point anyway, wasn't it?

No comments: