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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

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Hubris Sonic: Juan Cole - "Iran EFP Story A New 'Yellowcake' Scandal?"

Here we go again

Thanks to Hubris Sonic who saw this over at Juan Cole's Informed Comment - THANKS HS!

An informed reader writes:

Your reference to the Drew Brown McClatchy wire service report carried by the Mercury News about possible Sunni involvement in the IEDs and EFPs that have allegedly killed upwards of 170 Americans could be the tendrils of the new "Yellowcake" scandal of the Administration's ramp up to attacking Iran.

As we all know, several weeks ago, a military intelligence briefing occurred in Iraq where several officials, including Brigadier General Caldwell, the mouthpiece for the American Occupation Forces, and several intelligence analysts, claimed that not only was Iran responsible for the use and manufacture of EFPs, which they said had killed upwards of 170 Americans -- but that the orders for their use, manufacture, and supply to "insurgents" came from "the highest levels of the Iranian Government." The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, quickly said that while there were aspects to the briefing he agreed with, he could not state, unequivocally, that the orders for the use and manufacture of these EFPs had come down from on high. This was when the American people, indeed, the people of the world, were told that the nefarious "Quds Brigade" were the operatives who had carried out these tasks for high Iranian officials.

Checking through various books I've read about the Shia, I learned that the Quds Brigade, besides being a counter intelligence and intelligence unit for the Supreme Leader, ali Khamenai, has considerable expertise and probably HAD supplied training to insurgents in Iraq on how to build these massive and powerful weapons. Once I saw some of the photos of Abrams M1 tanks completely destroyed, or flipped, it became clear that yes, the insurgents had a new, more powerful weapon.

Several things hadn't jelled with me, though, about this briefing. First, no one ever, even to this day, said that the briefing was blessed by General Odierno, General Petraeus's second in command. Nor have they ever indicated whether Petraeus had blessed the briefing. Having worked for the U.S. Air Force for 20 years, I would say that that constitutes poor reporting. To NOT have been given the blessing to conduct the briefing, by one or both of those officers, would constitute such gross negligence, that they ought to be recalled immediately. The civilian intelligence analyst who speculated that the highest type officials of the Iranian government had blessed the use of these devices probably is shoveling poop in Alaska now, if he even has a job. But General Caldwell, you can believe, reports to Odinero or Petraeus. If either of them had signed off on the briefing, then why no action for them? The charges, after all, led to a serious reversal by even the White House.

The Mercury News article goes over the details in a way that more media reporters should have taken. They sorted out how many EFPs and IED attacks have occurred in 2005 and 2006. There isn't much difference ... about 40 killed from the former year to the latter. But the EFPs have clearly become an almost certain death sentence for our troops. But the details bear out what I thought from having read the casualty reports that come out daily from The greatest % of fatalities connected with those devices is in Sunni or Mixed areas.

So, nix the so called solid intelligence the Administration has once again claimed to warrant severe scrutiny of the Iranians and Iranian leadership. Essentially, they can't prove it, or, if they can, they're not going to compromise their intelligence sources (most likely signals intelligence of some kind derived from NSA monitoring). Additionally, what about the eight choppers shot down or brought down due to the use of SA-7s, 14s, and 17s? All Soviet weapons. And, again, according to's glossary of weapons information, at least two Sunni dominated nations -- Egypt and Pakistan -- had all of these weapons, plus the heavy machine guns that have also been used in downing these 8 choppers. Is it possible that rouge intelligence or military agents from those two nations, among other Sunni nations which might have some reason to see the Americans humiliated, have migrated to Iraq? And taught insurgents -- Sunni insurgents -- how to use those weapons in coordination with RPGs, heavy automatic weapons fire, as well as other diversions, to cause chopper problems for the Americans?

That would be serious. It would embarrass perhaps Saudi Arabia, or Egypt, or Pakistan. And speaking of Pakistan: today we were told by Brian Ross, on ABC Evening News, that the very day Cheney read the riot act to Musharraf, the Pakistanis found the #3 of the Taliban and arrested him. Or is it more likely that Cheney delivered, personally, intelligence that showed Musharraf exactly WHERE this man was. And that Cheney told him: either you get him or we will. Today. And then Cheney leaves, and goes to Baghram Airport. Where, oddly enough, he is forced to stay overnight, due to weather.

And oddly enough, the Taliban blow up a suicider at the main gate. Surely, not to get Cheney, American officials proudly proclaim. There's no way to get Cheney! No, but the Taliban said they wanted Cheney to know we knew you were staying there. And perhaps that info came from a Pakistani ISI source? Was all of this a ruse to smoke out, for Musharraf, a very high placed spy for the Taliban and al-Qaeda? Or was the bombing at Bagram, more a signal to Cheney: WE got YOUR message! YOU told Musharraf where our #3 guy was, and YOU were sending US a message. Now, here is OUR message to YOU, Mr. Cheney! WE knew you were there. We KNEW your movements. Think about THAT! Maybe next time you come around our part of the world, we'll get YOU!

I suspect Musharraf is walking a razor blade. I suspect that since the squandered opportunities in the War in Afghanistan, and especially since the U.S.- India nuclear deal, elements of the Pakistani Army and ISI have once again begun to assist the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Cheney and Bush are blowing all kinds of intelligence to let the Pakistanis know that we know what they're up to. But will it really do Musharraf much good? Will he suddenly be able to swoop down on rogues in his Army and ISI, and quell yet another possible coup? How long can he last, when he sucks up more and more to the Americans?

And, of course, the Brits are very unhappy with Musharraf and Pakistan. The British Pakistanis are the ones causing Great Britain real concern, as they show up in plot after plot to kill British citizens.

Finally, why in the world would Ahmadinejad make a trip to Saudi Arabia? What deals could he convey to the Saudis? Is a deal in the works to soft pedal any criticism the Iranians have made against the Saudis, in exchange for the same from the Saudis against the Iranians? Are the Iranians going pull a rabbit out of their hat at the upcoming diplomats conference in Iraq? Or, do the Iranians have intelligence which will seriously implicate Saudi rogues in the transition of EFP training to the insurgents? Are the Iranians about to expose that? And embarrass the Saudis AND, the Americans?

Could it be that the rampant Bushista rant against Iran is the new "yellowcake" incident of this potential war? Because why in the world would the Americans NOT cite ANY Sunni nations as transferring not only IED and EFP technology and training to Sunni insurgents, but also, why would they not even mention the implications of Sunni experts from some Sunni nation, assisting insurgents in shooting down choppers? And possibly, the chlorine gas IEDs, as well. For there being 170 Americans killed and nearly 700 wounded by EFPs, it's remarkable that nothing's been said to Sunni nations when it is Sunni insurgents doing the killing. Rather, without naming Sunnis as the killers using these devices, the Bush Administration makes it appear that the deaths are caused by IRANIAN weapons and trainers.

There are roughly 15 of the 30 outposts now located in Baghdad. There are only two ways to resupply them: over the road and by chopper. If the Americans suddenly see a chopper shot down every day, that will make chopper supply more tenuous for those isolated outposts. Supplying them by ground will be even more dangerous. Are we about to see a massive chain reaction ambush, using IEDs, snipers, EFPs, counter chopper equipment and techniques (Manpad shoulder fired missiles), heavy machine gun and automatic weapons fire, as well as chlorine gas releases near American outposts?

And who will be behind such coordinated attacks? Quds Brigade or Sunnni dominated nations' rogue elements, assisting their brethren, in the fight on the ground. Vali Nasr makes it very clear that the Iraqi Shia will NOT allow themselves to be dominated ever again by Sunnis. Nor will Iran allow Iraqi Shias to be wiped out. Saudi Arabia recently said that they would never allow their Sunni brethren be slaughtered in Iraq. Have the Saudis, through so-called "rogues," already begun to fight the Shias on the ground, in Iraq?

Is the Administration willing to ignore that, so that they can once again, build up a phony case for attacking not a Sunni nation, but colluding with the Sunnis, who are killing Americans right and left ... to squash the Shiites?

Imagine the implications of THAT kind of secret game. In essence, claiming Shias are responsible for Americans being killed by EFPs, when, in fact, we KNOW it's Sunni inspired insurgents doing the killing. That would shake the very foundations of this country. It would be dejå vu all over again.

I hope Brown and McClatchy can push this further, and I hope Informed Comment can scour the news, to see what the Pakistani press says about the arrest of the #3 Taliban leader. And what they say about the bombing in Baghram. And what they say about Ahmadinejad's trip to Saudi Arabia. The Bush Administration is definitely the darkest regime we have EVER seen in America. Frankly, I wouldn't doubt that if they could push American opinion to accept the Iranians are behind all the evil in Iraq, they'd be willing to sacrifice some Americans to perpetuate that myth. It is heinous to think that, but this regime is heinous.

There is a golden award of some kind for the first reporter to bring this level of scrutiny to the national media's attention. They are lazy, asleep, and still gullible when it comes to trusting military or intelligence community briefings. Thank God there are a few real reporters left in the American media.

- posted by Hubris Sonic