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Pentagon Official: ‘Even in the Best-Case Scenario in an Unstable Country We Never Have 100 Percent Accountability’Posted: March 21, 2015
Pentagon Loses Track of $500 Million in Weapons, Equipment Given to Yemen
Craig Whitlock reports: The Pentagon is unable to account for more than $500 million in U.S. military aid given to Yemen, amid fears that the weaponry, aircraft and equipment is at risk of being seized by Iranian-backed rebels or al-Qaeda, according to U.S. officials.
With Yemen in turmoil and its government splintering, the Defense Department has lost its ability to monitor the whereabouts of small arms, ammunition, night-vision goggles, patrol boats, vehicles and other supplies donated by the United States. The situation has grown worse since the United States closed its embassy in Sanaa, the capital, last month and withdrew many of its military advisers.
In recent weeks, members of Congress have held closed-door meetings with U.S. military officials to press for an accounting of the arms and equipment. Pentagon officials have said that they have little information to go on and that there is little they can do at this point to prevent the weapons and gear from falling into the wrong hands.
“We have to assume it’s completely compromised and gone,” said a legislative aide on Capitol Hill who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
U.S. military officials declined to comment for the record. A defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the Pentagon, said there was no hard evidence that U.S. arms or equipment had been looted or confiscated. But the official acknowledged that the Pentagon had lost track of the items.
“Even in the best-case scenario in an unstable country, we never have 100 percent accountability,” the defense official said.
Yemen’s government was toppled in January by Shiite Houthi rebels who receive support from Iran and have strongly criticized U.S. drone strikes in Yemen. The Houthis have taken over many Yemeni military bases in the northern part of the country, including some in Sanaa that were home to U.S.-trained counterterrorism units. Other bases have been overrun by fighters from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
As a result, the Defense Department has halted shipments to Yemen of about $125 million in military hardware that were scheduled for delivery this year, including unarmed ScanEagle drones, other types of aircraft and Jeeps. That equipment will be donated instead to other countries in the Middle East and Africa, the defense official said. Read the rest of this entry »
L.A. City Attorney: 9-Year-Old Boy Finds Gun Under Dog Bed, Takes Gun to School, Leads to Predictable Press Conference, Charges FiledPosted: March 12, 2015
— Robert Holguin (@ABC7Robert) March 12, 2015
— Robert Holguin (@ABC7Robert) March 12, 2015
Beginning with the unrest after the August 2014 shooting of Micheal Brown and that which followed the grand jury verdict in favor of Officer Darren Wilson, as well as the fervor maintained by national hucksters intent on keeping racial tensions aflame, gun sales in Missouri are through the roof.
[Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins]
Brown was shot on August 9 ,and within days gun sales began a sharp rise. On August 13 Breitbart News reported that citizens in and around St. Louis were buying up the firearms they needed to protect their lives and property. Read the rest of this entry »
Philip Bump reports: On Monday afternoon, while the attention of the political media world was focused on events at the United Nations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced that it was dropping plans to reclassify a particular form of ammunition. It was a rare success for a letter-signed-by-most-Republican-senatorsthis week, after Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) got most of his colleagues to sign on to a missive that captured an already-bubbling sentiment among conservatives. (That opponents of gun control measures won a victory, of course, is anything but a rare success.)
If you want the full back story, it’s here. But what we want to focus on is the phenomenon that has frequently resulted when the administration has either threatened new gun control measures or when the public has been worried that it might, as it did in the wake of the ATF’s recent announcement: Firearm sales skyrocket.
As soon as Barack Obama won the 2008 election, gun sales spiked. The number of background checks (a point of data linked to gun sales numbers) increased by 50 percent over the rest of that year in November and December. (December figures are often higher, we’ll note, due to the popularity of giving weapons as Christmas presents.) The Aiken Standard in Aiken, S.C., wrote about spiking sales that December, quoting an employee at a local gun store: “There’s been a definite increase. It’s because a Democrat is in office, in my opinion.” Not quite in office, but you get the point.
To measure how big the Obama Gun Boom has been, we turned to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. It uses data on excise taxes collected by the government on weapon and ammunition sales to estimate the total market for those products. It provided its estimates from 1982 through the third quarter of last year to the Post.
Overall, the estimates look like this. We’ve shaded in the Obama Era as encompassing 2008 through 2014, due to the spike at the end of 2008. (That plays into our projections later, so bear that in mind.) Notice the spike in 1993, as well, the last time a Democrat assumed the presidency. And, of course, backed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which is precisely the sort of thing gun advocates fear. Read the rest of this entry »
Lockheed-Martin‘s prototype laser weapon is called the Advanced Test High Energy Asset, or ATHENA, and this is what it can do. The 30-kilowatt laser fired at this pickup truck from more than a mile away during a recent test.
This was the first full field test of the weapon. Lockheed says the poor pickup was mounted on a platform with its engine running to simulate real-world conditions.
Laser weapons—once pure fantasy, and then a pie-in-the-sky tech that couldn’t perform in the real world—are coming into their own. The U.S. Navy is testing its own 30-kw death laser at sea. Enemy boats, beware the red dot.
Cristina Marcos reports: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has reintroduced legislation to do away with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
“The ATF is a scandal-ridden, largely duplicative agency that lacks a clear mission. Its ‘Framework’ is an affront to the Second Amendment and yet another reason why Congress should pass the ATF Elimination Act.”
– Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, House Judiciary Committee
Sensenbrenner, a senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said the policies under ATF’s jurisdiction could be easily incorporated into other agencies. Moreover, he argued, the ATF has become embroiled in too many controversies in recent years, like the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking operation.
“The ATF is a scandal-ridden, largely duplicative agency that lacks a clear mission. Its ‘Framework’ is an affront to the Second Amendment and yet another reason why Congress should pass the ATF Elimination Act,” Sensenbrenner said in a statement.
The ATF has drawn the ire of Republican lawmakers for its proposed ban on an armor-piercing bullet used in AR-15 rifles. Republicans say that hunters frequently use the bullets. The bureau says it initiated the regulation to help protect law enforcement officers from bullets that can pierce armored vests. Read the rest of this entry »
C. J. CHIVERS and ERIC SCHMITT report: The Central Intelligence Agency, working with American troops during the occupation of Iraq, repeatedly purchased nerve-agent rockets from a secretive Iraqi seller, part of a previously undisclosed effort to ensure that old chemical weapons remaining in Iraq did not fall into the hands of terrorists or militant groups, according to current and former American officials.
[Also see – Laurence H. Silberman: The Dangerous Lie That ‘Bush Lied': ‘Some Journalists Still Peddle This Canard As If It Were Fact’ – punditfromanotherplanet.com]
The extraordinary arms purchase plan, known as Operation Avarice, began in 2005 and continued into 2006, and the American military deemed it a nonproliferation success. It led to the United States’ acquiring and destroying at least 400 Borak rockets, one of the internationally condemned chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government manufactured in the 1980s but that were not accounted for by United Nations inspections mandated after the 1991 Persian Gulf war.
“Without speaking to any specific programs, it is fair to say that together with our coalition partners in Iraq, the U.S. military worked diligently to find and remove weapons that could be used against our troops and the Iraqi people.”
– Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, in a written statement.
The effort was run out of the C.I.A. station in Baghdad in collaboration with the Army’s 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion and teams of chemical-defense and explosive ordnance disposal troops, officials and veterans of the units said. Many rockets were in poor condition and some were empty or held a nonlethal liquid, the officials said. But others contained the nerve agent sarin, which analysis showed to be purer than the intelligence community had expected given the age of the stock.
A New York Times investigation published in October found that the military had recovered thousands of old chemical warheads and shells in Iraq and that Americans and Iraqis had been wounded by them, but the government kept much of this information secret, from the public and troops alike.
These munitions were remnants of an Iraqi special weapons program that was abandoned long before the 2003 invasion, and they turned up sporadically during the American occupation in buried caches, as part of improvised bombs or on black markets.
“If we were aware of these compounds, and as it became clear over the course of the war that our troops had been exposed to them, why wasn’t more done to protect the guys on the ground? It speaks to the broader failure.”
– Aaron Stein, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute
The potency of sarin samples from the purchases, as well as tightly held assessments about risks the munitions posed, buttresses veterans’ claims that during the war the military did not share important intelligence about battlefield perils with those at risk or maintain an adequate medical system for treating victims of chemical exposure.
The purchases were made from a sole Iraqi source who was eager to sell his stock, officials said. The amount of money that the United States paid for the rockets is not publicly known, and neither are the affiliations of the seller.
Most of the officials and veterans who spoke about the program did so anonymously because, they said, the details remain classified. The C.I.A. declined to comment. The Pentagon, citing continuing secrecy about the effort, did not answer written questions and acknowledged its role only obliquely.
“This was a timely and effective initiative by our national intelligence partners that negated the use of these unique munitions.”
– Retired Army Lt. Gen. Richard P. Zahner
“Without speaking to any specific programs, it is fair to say that together with our coalition partners in Iraq, the U.S. military worked diligently to find and remove weapons that could be used against our troops and the Iraqi people,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a written statement.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Richard P. Zahner, the top American military intelligence officer in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, said he did not know of any other intelligence program as successful in reducing the chemical weapons that remained in Iraq after the American-led invasion. Read the rest of this entry »
Russian Bombers More Aggressive Near U.S. Territory
Sam LaGrone reports: While Russian military aircraft have stepped up their activity everywhere from the North Sea to the Baltic to the Black Sea in the last year they have also been spotted more frequently closer to the U.S. territory in the Arctic, the head of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) told USNI News on Tuesday.
In particular – flights of Tupolev Tu-95 Bear ‘H’ Bombers have increased recently NORTHCOM’s Adm. Bill Gortney said.
“They’ve been very aggressive – under my NORAD hat – for us in the Arctic. Aggressive in the amount of flights, not aggressive in how they fly.”
Since the March seizure of the Ukrainian region of Crimea by Russian forces Moscow has significantly stepped up air patrols in Europe, Asia and near the Americas.
The flights extend as far North as the edge of American air space near Alaska and as far South as U.S. holdings in Guam.
In December, two Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornets intercepted a two Bears near the Beaufort Sea entering a U.S. and Canadian Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). Read the rest of this entry »
The Vandenburg Volley Gun
A weapon of questionable value, this large volley gun was manufactured in England and saw limited use in Europe and in the American Civil War. Different models could have anywhere from 85 to 150 barrels that fired all at once. The method of ignition was unique in that the center charge was fired by percussion and ignited the whole volley simultaneously. However, by plugging off the vents, or ignition galleries, in advance, the discharge of the piece could be regulated to fire by clusters or rows of one-sixth, one-third, or one-half of the group. The other sections remained charged, ready to be fired by inserting a new percussion cap, and opening the formerly plugged orifices. The gun was loaded from the breech with the back unscrewing to expose the chambers. A loading machine for facilitating the charging of the many chambers in the breech. The device, when placed on dowels, was in proper position over the holes in the chambers. By manipulating a lever, measured charges of powder were dropped simultaneously into every chamber. This mechanism could be removed quickly, to be replaced by another containing lead balls. When properly positioned, the latter dropped the bullets into place. A ramming device was then put on, and all charges were compressed at once by the action of a lever on the loading plungers. Unfortunately the gun was big, heavy, and hard to move, making in difficult to place in order to achieve maximum effect. Plus the tightly grouped shot pattern of the gun was not large enough to cover a large area, and cannon grapeshot was considered to be a more effective weapon.
Rani Molla reports:
“Concealed carry—you don’t know who’s doing it and it doesn’t cause as much concern as open carry. One is a danger you know, and one is a danger you don’t know.”
– Laura Cutilletta, senior staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Gun-rights advocates see the practice as a way to normalize gun ownership and deter crime, while gun-control activists believe carrying guns in stores and restaurants is disruptive to the public and encourages violence.
Recently, Target, Starbucks and Chipotle have asked their patrons not to bring their guns. After petitions by gun-control groups such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Kroger said it would uphold local and state laws in the 34 states it operates.
Carrying a firearm in a concealed manner is legal in all states, but open carry has more restrictions, especially for handguns.
(Open Carry is way more normal than most people think: http://t.co/cFFC2p2ukK)
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) January 29, 2015
Though federal law doesn’t restrict the open carrying of handguns in public, several states—including California, Florida, Illinois, New York, South Carolina and Texas—ban the practice, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Thirteen states require a special permit or license to open carry. Read the rest of this entry »
Hollywood: Actor Makes Fortune in Vigilante Roles Featuring Spectacular Gun Violence, Complains to Reporter About Gun ViolencePosted: January 14, 2015
A team of camouflage-clad Iraqi soldiers lines up near the door of a one-storey house north of Baghdad with rifles ready, preparing to enter and search it. Duration: 01:18
Daniel Payne writes: My colleague Robert Tracinski recently re-instituted the Democratic Party Death Watch, an alert that signifies the donks are “betting everything on the far-left base while driving away their own blue-collar and middle class constituents.” The modern Democratic Party being a clumsy amalgamation of economic buffoons and social justice warriors, a death watch is an appropriate vigil to keep, although I wouldn’t bet against Elizabeth Warren making fiscal insanity and dimwitted neo-Marxist philosophy a mainstream policy platform. It has been done before.
Nevertheless, the Democratic death watch sounds fine with me, and while we’re at it we can celebrate one of the other victories of the past year, a triumph that is not-coincidentally contemporaneous with the imploding prospects of the Democrats: 2014 was a year in which gun control became more of a liability for the Left than an asset.
To be sure, there are still plenty of politicians out there who are interested in restricting and curtailing gun rights: they will always be there, constantly mumbling about background checks and “loopholes” and 30-clip military-style magazine-rifles. Ignore them. In the main, gun control has become a distasteful subject and a losing prospect for many who seek it. Early in December, Pew released a poll showing that, for the first time in more than two decades, a majority of Americans support gun rights over gun control. Across the board these numbers have risen from just a couple of years ago after the Newtown shootings: the share of Democrats who believe in protecting gun rights rose 6 percent, the same as Republicans generally; among “conservative/moderate Democrats” the jump was a startling 12 percent. Urban, suburban, and rural Americans all increased their support of gun rights over gun control; blacks did too, by a whopping 10 percent.
The Signs of Desperation Abound
This isn’t to say that everyone who sides with gun rights believes in no gun regulations at all, only that the gun controllers have suffered a decisive and, frankly, humiliating defeat: for all the fearmongering, all the nasty and deceitful scare tactics that the Left has used over the past few years to convince more Americans to give up their gun rights, a majority of Americans have largely ignored this advice and even turned against it.