Sunday, June 29, 2008

Trendlines, those pesky trendlines

The following is a white paper for The Jacksonian Party.

Now, I will point out that I do get wrong predictions, but I don't mind being wrong in some instances if things head in the general way expected.  So, while the New Iraqi Army did not get a hold of the situation by the end of 2006 as I expected, it was beyond predicting the sort of incident that could set off a last and largest wave of post-war bloodshed in that country.  The trendlines, however, pulled together with the Anbari tribes getting disgusted of al Qaeda and banding together with Coalition support to start ousting them there.

That said a bit of analysis later is one that I have stuck to in the overall term of things:

In Iraq the trend-lines have been going solidly in our favor since the standing up of the New Iraqi Army, and there is not a single trend-line pointing to defeat. Failure by lack of political will is possible, but as the trends continue, it will be harder and harder to justify leaving Iraq to fall into chaos. And the naysayers should be warned, the Jacksonians just *left* the political scene after the betrayal of Vietnam... this will bring them back with fire in their eye as treachery will be seen.

And the trend lines in the US Population is demonstrating this as the MSM falls further and further downwards and both political parties hover in the Used Car Salesman area of trustworthiness. Like any supersaturated solution, it looks extremely stable until just one minor thing happens... and then there is a sudden change of state as a new form crystallizes nearly instantly.

THAT is where the electorate stands today.

Just one little thing.

It doesn't take much to change the state of a supersaturated solution to one of crystalline with the water being forced out of it, or from solute to a sudden gelatinous state completely with just one minor disturbance.  Dust, vibration, the smallest change in temperature that is just a bit too rapid and you go from something liquid to something definitely not liquid.

Trendline analysis is a very useful tool, so long as you don't fetishize on a single trend.  The global warming crowd seem to fetishize on carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, ignoring the overall point that the planet is in one of the lowest points for that in its entire history.  And when pointing at a miniscule century of temperatures, they ignore the 800 million year climate record found by geologists over decades.  Concentrating on the wrong scope, wrong numbers, wrong time-frame and, finally, ignoring that the data, itself, is being undercut by processing errors and instrumentation errors doesn't help.  When you want to analyze trendlines, like say Iran's oil production and its capacity to export, you not only have to ask yourself 'what do the trends signify?' but then ask yourself 'what are the things pushing these trends?'.  From Roger Stern's article released online at 26 DEC 2006 on The Iranian petroleum crisis:

You don't get the capability to leave things out, but as the idea of how to get oil out of the ground, transport it, refine it, sell it, and then look at marginal expansion are *all* far more than a century old (and since the oil industry is an offshoot of mining, that puts those concepts back thousands of years to the first human mining experiences) you do not get to wave your hands around claiming much and citing little.  A process of under-investment, over-utilization and subsidies on refined products all leads in one direction for energy use and the ability to export: the variables are known, the trendlines obvious and the ability to counter them requires years if not more than a decade.

When talking about a larger society, however, the trendlines are not in any one place: society covers a wide gamut of human interactions and trying to see if a suite of them has any sort of defining impact is difficult.  So, when looking at the trends of the US starting in the Vietnam era and onwards, I take a broader sweep of things, due to the inability to actually *measure* these trends in any objective way.  There is no thermometer reading for foreign policy or nationalism amongst a population, no wind-force scale for popular opinion to compare across eras, and no Richter scale to measure the impact of events on a society as a whole.  If there *were* I would use *them*.  So the empirical and 'high water mark' sort of evidence is necessary:

The death toll that accrued to America's unwillingness to stand for her values, stick by an Ally and retreat with mere scratches when entire societies were threatened was enormous. The media conveniently under-reported such things and so retreat was seen as a 'low cost option' against military aggression in far off lands. Mind you, the mightiest economy of the planet was expending less than 10% of its economy and more on the order of 8% to deal with this, continue a build up of thermonuclear weapons, heavily increase its industrial capacity, raise its standard of living by leaps and bounds, put a new era of agriculture in place that would further reduce the manpower needed to feed the Nation, and put forth new science and technology at a phenomenal rate. The USSR, meanwhile, was spending 15-25% of its economy on war material, creating substandard housing, inventing very little, and repressing its people continuously through secret police, gulags and imprisonment without fair trial for stating 'political dissent'. The layer of 'Mutual Assured Destruction' was used to cement the 'balance of power' in place and KEEP IT THERE. Those who had put forth that Foreign Policy had so inculcated the power structure of the West to it, that there was no other option ever put forth that got a hearing on trying to do something different. Grand Strategy had, indeed, become based on fantasy and those holding wonderful reports from the CIA in the late 1980's about how the USSR would be around at least until 2010 and most likely 2030-50 should have been seen as *frauds*: they had so weakened the Nation to respond to *any* attack and counter threats to the Friends and Allies of the United States that the US was no longer seen as a reliable power of any sort.

The loss of identity of the American People to its Foreign Policy strategy is not new. It is traced directly back to Korea and Vietnam where the disenchantment of the American People with supporting dictators, appeasing aggressors and, generally, giving up the ideals of Liberty and Freedom to a 'balance of power' that they started to walk out on the system ITSELF. By the late 1970's the mass movement of the American People was no longer along standard political and ideological axes, but was a growing disenchantment with the political system that would *support* the deterioration of National Sovereignty and the Preceptual belief in the Declaration and the limitation of Government seen in the Constitution. The end of the Cold War did not start this trend which was in full swing by that point in time. The American People believed that the Nation should stand up for some things and the political class was telling it that those things were not worth standing up *for* or doing anything to *continue* them. To have a sense of the lost security on the Global Scale one must first *start* with that sense which America has not had since the middle of the Cold War.

After Vietnam, the destruction of Cambodia, Laos, and the reprisals taken against South Vietnam were huge with death tolls as a result of American cowardice rising into the tens of millions. The USSR saw this as a vital way to undermine the West and the very conception of Western Liberty because their sympathizers in the West had shown an ability to redirect outlook away from Preceptual basis to one of 'no blood now for any reason, ever'. This was not helped by the US non-response to the overthrow of Iran by Islamic Fundamentalists, the botched hostage rescue attempt, the Embassy bombing in Beirut, the Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut, the Second Embassy bombing in Beirut, the Pan Am Lockerbie bombing, the Berlin Disco bombing... The continuous hit parade against the US and its Allies by foes both Communist backed, like the various 'Red' factions/legions and the Pan-Arab to Islamist groups led to further deterioration in the concept that the US would actually address anything outside of herself. The retaking of Kuwait was seen as a validation *of* that because the US would no longer dare to act *alone* in her own interests. And promises given to people wanting to over throw a dictator were not fulfilled and so 300,000 Shia Arabs died due to Saddam Hussein because they actually had this strange belief that the US would actually stand FOR anything it said.

Those are the trendlines of disenchantment of the American people with its government, political class, foreign policy institutions and, in the end, self-alienation from the concept of a Nation supporting liberty and freedom both at home and abroad.

A fertile place to examine how trends can be seen is via 'alternate history' or 'counter-factual history' which both utilize things that did not happen and then look and see what the ongoing trends across societies and nations were and how they would be effected by them.  This I did in my piece looking at how Azar Gat postulated a slightly different outcome to world affairs if North America was not that rich in resources or in any given subset of them (say fresh water or iron ore or fertile land).  A United States with the natural resources at lesser degrees or far harder to get and support would not have been able to sustain the industrial output necessary to fight two World Wars. 

Going a bit further, as I am an alt-history fan, I postulate an even smaller change to Germany pre-WWI that would have long-term and large scale ramifications globally... actually a trivial change historically speaking.  The overall analysis, however, is that of 'contingent effects' being predominant in history: things that are unrelated to societal trends, say natural resources or transportation lines, can impact a wide swath of peoples and the course of nations.  This goes against Marxist views of 'mass-movement historical trends' because those very same mass movements are based upon contingent effects.  Without the basis to get those masses, the movements either don't show up or they show up in a scattered way and exert little overall force.

With any consequential petroleum resources held by Germany and threat to take more of same, plus a stalemate in the Euoropean theater, President Wilson would be forced to put the economic needs of the US aside and join the Allies or to fully fight *all* of the Allies of Germany. There would even be the case made that supporting Germany so as to *influence* it and its allies was in the US interest for the long-term spread of democracy and liberalization of those regimes. That was a case hard to put forth with Germany relatively isolated, but a Germany with more resources and active in the Middle East then puts Germany combat expertise in support of the Ottoman Empire.

World War I was not foreordained to be the US coming in to save the Alliance bacon and then fouling up its handling of the Middle East for 90 years thereafter. With one relatively simple shift in outlook, one that the Kaiser could easily have taken umbrage to, the entire geo-strategic basis for World War I would have changed and harshly. If the Aussies had problems at Gallipoli with Ottoman Turks there, imagine the problems they would have with Germany supported Ottoman troops with more modern weapons and tactics. And securing victory against the Ottomans by the British from the south would have to be concentrated on attempting to regain natural resources and be faced with German troops attempting to isolate Persia and threaten Arabian oil supplies and other Middle Eastern natural resources. Not to speak of the Suez Canal.

One minor rail line that was discontinued but near completion just before the war, could have changed the entire history of WWI with the pre-war plans adjusted to that economic parameter: Germany was very capable of doing that.  The trends of war, in that case, would not be 'mass movement' affairs predicted by socialists, but highly variable affairs based on tiny accidents of history.  Some broader sweeps do happen, say the shift to agricultural societies, but the final forms of those societies winding up into anything like our modern world are not pre-ordained.  If the volcanic island of Thera had not exploded for an additional century, the movement of that early civilization based on Crete and Thera would have been able to thwart Mycenaean attempts to overcome them.  Without that you get no Trojan War.  Indeed, a more highly coherent multi-island society becomes a palpable force with time to spread and the entire history we know after the dawn of the Bronze Age would not have happened as it would shift Egypt and Babylon, too, via trade and intellectual discourse.  Given a century, that early civilization with hot and cold running water to individual homes, indoor siphon based plumbing and other things that would have to wait until Roman times, would have spread faster.  Greater public health via good sanitation saves countless lives daily, and is a simple thing to do.  With agriculture, sanitation and time to build up trade, our world would not be here as we know it... probably we all would be speaking some form of Greek.

That is a contingent effect having a mass movement outcome: it is a necessary mental tool for trendline analysis to be able to postulate a minor change (a change in outcome that is randomly distributed) so that a wider spectrum of subsidiary changes can be examined using our knowledge of how such changes have impacted other societies.  With that being said, when large scale trends do start moving societies, then they continue moving until something else acts upon them.  That is part of the supersaturation concept.  And my best trendlines are actually measurements, although they are direct, like the declining export capability of Iran, they are a bit darker because of what they are showing:

The above taken from US Census datasets.

Voting requires that one be over 18, a citizen of the US and not otherwise stopped from voting via previous convictions for crimes.  We have concepts, in a representative democracy, that include words with attendant ideas:

Majority - the majority of the voting population.

Plurality - a large segment of the voting population that is sub-majority, but not minority.

Minority - generally sub-plurality, to the point where it is non-competitive with a plurality, generally placed under 40% and usually under 30%.

For representative democracy, starting in 1964 for Presidential cycles, the Majority came out to vote in numbers that would allow the winners to claim Plurality status.  In the years between 1976 and 1992 the ability to claim a Majority voting is still in effect, but the resultant government could no longer claim Plurality status and can be considered a Minority with Majority voting.  These are given considering non-'landslide' elections where contests are in the 52% winner and 48% loser arena.  Most elections have been closer to 50/50 with the Nixon and Reagan 'landslides' the exceptions.  The historical trendline for Presidential election years has been downwards with a spike in 1992 and an upward trend between 1996 to 2004, but with 2004 being a high water mark for absolute turnout though a relatively low turn-out considering the 1964 high in that area. We have not had anyone who can even claim to be a Plurality President since 1972 with the sole exception of President Clinton barely clearing that in 1992 and then falling into Minority status in the next election cycle.

If all underlying societal circumstances remain the same over this period for commitment to representative democracy, then the overall trend can be said to indicate a drifting from utilization of the franchise right by a minority, at first, and then by a Plurality.  With the exception of 1992, the Plurality of Americans who can vote have voted with their feet and non-exercise of their franchise as a demonstration of their commitment to representative democracy.  Or in this case non-commitment to that concept.  That underlying trend, if it has no mitigating factors would then trend for the next Presidential election cycle to 'regress towards the mean' or average indicated by the ongoing trend downwards.  I examine that concept of how a mean or average trend via a slope in a graph depicting such things as batting averages, average temperatures and other things has a powerful mathematical backing to it.

Here the interim Congressional election cycles demonstrate the operative slope clearly, with the 1966 high water mark for Congressional turnouts being in 1966 with a slight fall-off in 1970, allowing Congress to claim Majority turnout but to be Minority in representation with close elections as an operative concept.  Starting in 1974 and with every subsequent interim election, there has been a Plurality turnout with Congress moving into pure Minority status for representation.  Dropping below 45% in 1998 and subsequently has cemented that Minority representation and would indicate a decided lack of support from the American voting population.  A slope on the Congressional graph, only done by eye and pure estimation, sees a 12% drop over 9 interim elections after the start of the graph or a general 1.3% drop per interim election cycle election cycle on the Congressional side.  A similar slope dropping approximately 20%, again done by eye, over 10 Presidential election cycles after the start of the graph yields a general 2% voter turnout decline per cycle.  Not having the 2006 turnout information handy for Congress I can't say if that holds up, but as there was no indication of a massive spike in voting that would draw inordinate media attention, the norm may have held.  For the next Presidential cycle that slope would indicate a 54%-56% turnout to return the turnout rate to its declining slope to its mean.

That latter is worrying as, to truly get back in synch with the slope, the amount of area covered by the variation would have to be made up by actually going under 54%.  If the mean has a draw to it then that would seem to be indicated, giving the highly spikey turnout changes in Presidential election years.  For that to happen, both parties would need to nominate individuals that would depress their own voter turnout and the turnout of 'independents'.  A 2% total percentage drop-off would be a minimum expected with a mean drawing the percentage back to historical turnout declines, while a 4% would be the average drop off (thus to just over 54%) and 6% would start to bring the overall trend back into line for a slight recover in 2012.  What happens at 6%, however, is that nearing the 50% turnout line starts to dance with the turnout rate changing from Majority to large Plurality.  A drop to between 50% to 52% starts to be a test of the actual adherence of the American voting age population to representative democracy.  For a representative democracy to claim any legitimacy under majoritarian standards, then a Majority must turn out for elections to be considered as 'representative'.  A slight drop to Plurality turnout then calls into question the actual validity of a representative democracy as representing the 'will of the people' when their will has been demonstrated by not voting. 

There is no 'out' in that function: if you believe in the concept of representative democracy, then there is no plea to 'only the interested vote' or the 'smarter people voting represent those who don't'.  That is patently not the case as the former is actually citing that representative democracy is not working and the latter is suggesting some form of authoritarian outlook by a Minority to rule the Majority.  The glib answers like that must end when representative democracy founders with such low turnouts.  If there is no interest in common government, then government is no longer able to serve the common man and must guess at what that common man wants.  And do notice that every social program, every educational program, every pork barrel project, every enticement, every bribe, every payoff to the people with their own money has not brought out more people to actually *support it*.

The longer term artifacts of this have been showing up in other, derivative data sets based on Congressional votes.  Looking at that in Running the numbers: Polarized America, I found the following:

What is more troubling than that, and being witnessed this election season, is the two parties fielding presumptive candidates that are, inherently, starting to cause party faithful to waiver. If candidates in both parties cause a minor drop in their own base participation, say 10%, then the percentage voting drops very close to 50%, just nudging over it by a bit. At 15% it drops just below 50% turnout. At that point representative democracy goes from plurality government to true minority government, representing a sub-part of plurality. Even with minority government status being reached de facto for many years, the absolute shift where true plurality of the voting age assent is given is no longer in hand.

Gridlock is actually not a problem but the solution being given by the political center in the US: it is the only ready means at hand to keep the two parties in mutual check so that they can not run an activist government. The ability to actually be wealthy and not have that pathway to wealth put in danger is a sub-marking point of the larger demographic shift by the center. As government is a user of wealth, not a creator of it, the political center is now saying to both parties that what they created during the Depression to mid-1970's is not what is wanted by them, and they are willing to let the two parties drift hard apart from each other by not participating in representative democracy. We hear much from the two party activists, but the quiet and dead silence from the middle is attempting to marginalize both parties into ineffectual stalemate.

For all the activism being seen, those very same activists ignore the fact that more and more people are no longer voting.  If said activist views towards government 'helping people' were correct, turnout would have been on the rise for the last four decades, and yet just the opposite has happened.  That growing Plurality is using its right NOT to vote as a negating power by pitting activists against each other into 'gridlock'.  If that Plurality had wanted *either side* to dominate, it would dominate, and yet we have 'gridlock'.  That 'gridlock' indicates a bankrupt outlook by the two parties that has gotten worse and continues to do so, on average, for every election since 1964.  There is also no support for 'bipartisanship' as the polarizing process has driven that out of the political arena: it has not served a purpose to this growing plurality and so it is nearly gone from politics.  Bipartisanship has not yielded something useful to the non-voting Plurality and so they continue to grow in numbers as more and more are turned off by 'bipartisanship' and party 'activism' for 'causes'.

As I said way back when: things in Iraq have good trendlines and have seen those increasing since 2006, while things in the US have been going downwards for decades heading into troubled waters.  You start to see this effect now being cited by a few others, like Ralph Peters in an article at the NY SUN on 28 JUN 2008, looking at the lies told by the political elite and the media about Iraq, terrorism and the condition of things in the US and globally:

Every single significant indicator, from Iraqi government progress through the performance of Iraqi security forces to the plummeting level of violence, has changed for the better - remarkably so.

If current trend-lines continue, it may not be long before Baghdad is safer for Iraqi citizens than the Washington-Baltimore metroplex is for US citizens. Iraq's government is working, its economy is booming - and its military has driven the concentrations of terrorists and militia from every one of Iraq's major cities.

While the US is trying to ignore a growing insurgency problem south of the US border.

Not that either of the two parties will address that, nor the spillovers that are now happening in the US because of it.  The first teams of hitmen roaming the Southwestern US have already started to arrive.  But 'activist' candidates won't address that.

Which is a symptom of failing democracy in the United States.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Fall of the Prince of Marbella

I damn well hope its his fall, anyway... prefer to see him locked up at Gitmo, but he has played his cards rather well throughout life and I expect him to do the same now.

Who the hell am I talking about?

Why, my favorite individual to point to about the connectivity of transnational terrorism, international organized crime and money laundering:  Monzer al-Kassar.

Ok, my background articles contain the details, so you get a listing of those, now:

  1. A do to connect dots with: Monzer al-Kassar
  2. More on dots heading outwards with Monzer al-Kassar
  3. Monzer al-Kassar and Transnational Terrorism
  4. A dot listing for those in need of reference
  5. At least they weren't professional terrorists
  6. Internetworking and the role it plays
  7. But making it legal was supposed to solve it!
  8. It is Four Degrees of Monzer al-Kassar time!
  9. The killers ask for a better chance to kill
  10. An easy terror incident to pin on... astoundingly *not* Monzer al-Kassar!
  11. What don't you know, and why won't they tell you?
  12. Red Mafia and its connectivity - The Brainy Don of Marbella
  13. And now the view on the other side - Yeah, I gots problems with R and D folks in power
  14. Of Clinton and Kosovo
  15. Syria's credible threats - Syria threatening the US and Spain, did it go too far?
  16. Ending Mugniyah and missing the point
  17. After the fall of Trans World Commodities and its fallout
  18. The Pattern of Pursuit
  19. The madness in my method
  20. Same old hope and change
  21. From FARC to Venezuela to...
  22. The FARC Contacts

Yeah, a couple of articles either directly or tangentially about one man, Monzer al-Kassar.  Who is he, then?  That one is hard to define, as he has been involved in so much over the decades that no single phrase describes it.  Take his background, as a reliable source or two points out, his family has been involved in the Bekaa valley drug trade since the late 1950's, at minimum.  While not necessarily the 'movers and shakers' of it, their support has been necessary to the Assad family having a steady source of income for Syria.  That trade, only in the few billions of dollars at source, has allowed Syria to take the 'middleman's cut' and parlay that into a decent, steady and small income stream as these things go for Nations.  Still, per weight, it is beating inflation rather handily while ramping up in market size.

So Monzer al-Kassar, eldest son of his generation, started getting involved in the late 1960's to 1970's with drug dealings across the UK, France, Italy and Spain.  Actually convicted in the UK for a few months and in Algeria (by one account), Monzer shifted into the next phase of his work in the late 1970's: arms dealing.  Starting with the Italian/Sicilian Mafia groups, he expanded very quickly to become someone of note for the French to approach in the early 1980's once Hezbollah came into being...

Now if *that* isn't a coincidence, having Hezbollah well supplied with arms and munitions and using the Bekaa valley for training, I don't know what *is*.  The deal with the French, however, is surprising as he had a murder charge in France pending against him, and yet he skated *that* by gaining diplomatic status with another Nation.  He was the 'go to guy', walking the streets of Paris after charged with murder there and, yes, got the hostages taken by Hezbollah freed.  You can make up your mind if *that* is pure coincidence or having a lot of good connections, but my feelings tend towards the latter as he is soon to be the most well connected man in that dark realm of narcotics, arms trafficking, money laundering and terrorism.  He started out that way early, and it went on from there.

After working with the French he got tapped by someone in the know to help out a trio of guys from the US:  Ollie North, Albert Hakim and Richard Secord.  Remember Iran/Contra?  Monzer al-Kassar worked one of the arms deals in that, which would include Polish arms transiting through the Netherlands, meeting up with a couple of the principles of Iran/Contra, and then trans-shipped via Portugal to central America.  There are indications that he was also involved with a Chinese arms shipment routed through another venue.  This would lead to the Reagan Administration being confronted with the fact that arms made their way *back* to Iran for US hostages in Lebanon.  That is *why* Monzer al-Kassar becomes important in the deal:  he had done the same for France.  The man who apparently connected the North group to al-Kassar was Jackson Stephens, who would show up in that, BCCI and as an early employer of Johnny Hwang for the Clintons.

Getting the idea here?

The way that the money was worked in the deal was through BCCI, making Monzer al-Kassar one of the large group of nefarious characters, like Saddam Hussein, Bert Lance, and Nadhmi Auchi... along with just about every crook and arms dealer in the world... who did business through BCCI.  Like John Keating.  What is interesting, and missed by most, is that Saddam Hussein and Nadhmi Auchi had already set up one of the largest money launding and illegal arms trade systems on the planet, the Al Mahdi, to supply Saddam with weapons in his war with Iran.  That system used BCCI, but was not a part *of* BCCI, just using it as a funds transfer system.  The question is: did Monzer al-Kassar know about and utilize the Al Mahdi system?  Considering that this system had ties to PLO, HAMAS, Hezbollah and the Italian/Sicilian Mafias, it is hard to see how he *didn't* know.  And as al-Kassar's speciality was spiriting Eastern European arms out to Bosnia, Kozovo and Yemen... there are only some few indicators that he may have used an exterior system, like the Audi Bank of Switzerland (Source: PBS Frontline documentary on al-Kassar), to move funds.  Actually, that is most likely the Audi Bank of Lebanon, Geneva office.  Also involved in all of this is Die Erste Bank of Austria (with some background on that organization here) and Arab Bank in Geneva which was Yasser Arafat's bank of choice as his widow would use that and BNP Bank (Source: BBC, 11 FEB 2004), and that ties Auchi to Arafat directly.  About the only other major figure he is tied to is that of Abu Nidal, as part of the BCCI-London Office work and moving arms via that with his brother, Ghassan, past various arms embargos and to terror organizations.  Plus his connection to the supernote trade in the Bekaa valley, which most point to Iran as an early starter, but the quality of the bills point to North Korea as the expected source, with Iran being an intermediary.

The Audi Bank would also show up in the next large scale move by Monzer al-Kassar, and that would be into Argentina.  Here the question is not so much *why* al-Kassar, but as to *who* made the connections.  The man to make connections with in the late 1980's was Carlos Menem, Argentine politician whose parents were from Syria.  With that original connection, be it from al-Kassar's deals via Iran/Contra or via Menem's connections via Syria or (most likely) needing connections and al-Kassar already had the contacts, it doesn't really matter as Hafez Assad and Carlos Menem came to an agreement whereby Assad would fund Menem's Presidential bid in return for nuclear and missile technology that Argentina had been previously working on with Egypt and Iraq - Condor II.  From that Monzer al-Kassar would get many benefits, like an exchange deal with the Colombian drug cartels of heroin for cocaine, introduce Hezbollah to the Tri-Border Area of South America, work Arms shipments from Argentina to Croatia, Bosnia and Yemen, put his own network of agents into place (even into the head spot of the Buenos Aires international airport inspections department), set up his own trade bank, and punish Argentina with the help of Imad Mugniyah and Iran for Menem bowing to US pressure *not* to give advanced missile and nuclear technology to Syria. 

From approximately 1988 to 1994, Monzer al-Kassar was a very busy man, bribing his way into oblivion by having Carlos Menem destroy all records of him and his transactions there, and undermine the court system via bribery.  We know that as a judge sitting on the case admitted to being bribed by him.  Still the Audi Bank proved a real boon in the money laundering, bribery and general mayhem that was going on around Monzer al-Kassar.  Even to the point where the Swiss would freeze his account and investigate him for a few years.  Of interest is it is that Swiss judge (not the bribed Argentine judge) that would start investigating the Bank of NY scandal way back on 10 JUN 2000.  So, while direct connections with Auchi cannot be confirmed, the confluence of events before the BoNY scandal hit, and how money was transferred for arms deals is of a lot of interest.

Outside of the Israeli Embassy and AMIA Center bombings, Hezbollah had a couple of preparatory bombings going on before that, in 1991, and was setting up their own 'charity' in the area, as part of Mugniyah's External Security Operations.  This was not Monzer al-Kassar's first dabblings in terrorism, as seen by his previous work in the early 1980's getting Hezbollah to release hostages via Iran for France and the US (Iran/Contra).  He was also involved with the Achille Lauro hijacking by PLF leader Abu Abbas, and would be tried on that in Spain... only to have one witness get drunk and fall off his apartment balcony to his death, another witness have his family kidnapped by a Colombian drug cartel and a third witness in jail in Italy recant his testimony.   And that is how a man charged with Piracy walks in the modern world. Strange how that happens, isn't it?  The upshot of that, having cover credentials from Yemen and other Nations and, generally being well connected, is that his bank accounts in Switzerland were unfrozen and he walked free of the Piracy charges.

If you include the death tolls by Hezbollah against the US Embassy and Marine Barracks, along with French military, the Israeli Embassy bombing, AMIA cultural center bombing, Achille Lauro hijacking and such you are coming up with a man sponsoring or taking part in the deaths of hundreds, piracy and general terrorism above and beyond his ability to launder money, get arms to places under UN interdiction and somehow transform fruit into military hardware at sea.  And that is *before* we get to the 21st century!  Just look at that list and the backers behind it:  Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, PLO, Red Mafia, Iraq, China.   Not to mention the individuals involved, like Imad Mugniyah or Semion Mogilevich the 'Brainy Don' of the Red Mafia.  Tying Arafat to Auchi and the same banks starts to tie al-Kassar into that entire system of funds transfers that would start to smell very rotten due to the BoNY penetration by the Red Mafia... with the judge just a few months before discovering *that* working on al-Kassar's case.

Heading into 2001 he would try to work out his deal with Menem for a gold mine in Tucuman, Argentina via Imperial Consolidated, but that deal would face problems and he would put forward charges that Imperial was working with Osama bin Laden... that *before* 9/11.  The status of the gold mine is not clear at this point in time, but the fall of Imperial (already having financial problems) and their counter-assertion that it was al-Kassar bringing bin Laden to *them* makes for an interesting case as bin Laden had an agent die on the way to Marbella, Spain in a plane crash.  It is speculated that the agent was to meet with either with al-Kassar or Mogilevich (who kept a residence there) or *both*.  Fascinating stuff happening just before 9/11!

After 9/11 we come to the Madrid Bombings of 3/11 as looked at by Joe Aguilar at Winds of Change and Barcepundit who translated an article about an undercover officer who was working on al-Kassar's case and, actually, *for* him and traces the phones used in the bombings to a company owned by Kassar.  That and a number of connections to Algerian terror organizations, which look to be the perpetrators of the plot... but someone supplied the technology and know-how for them to pull it off.  That gets us up to Monzer al-Kassar's arrest in Spain in 2007 as the US was looking to extradite him on a FARC sting operation and his finally arriving in the US a few days ago.


The above is the 'bare-bones' sketch of what Monzer al-Kassar has been dealing in, and does not look at a number of suppositions put out by others on things like the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie bombing or some of Kassar's other work in Iraq, where he was (at least up until last year) the #1 wanted man there for getting arms to insurgents.  That without having set foot inside of Iraq, mind you.

While the charges on the DEA case are pertinent, they also point to the unraveling of FARC and the penetration of the FARC arms network.  That is the integrated drug/arms/money exchange system by FARC and reaches pretty much worldwide to Russia, Central Asia, Oceania, Middle East, Africa and Europe, as well as to drug cartels in Mexico.  As more comes out from that, the deeper connections with past goings-on are coming to the forefront, and the opportunity to clear up some long-standing problems of the late Cold War and post-Cold War period. 

One of the central figures in that is Monzer al-Kassar.

This then puts the question of his ties to those in power in various Nations in question - the Four Degrees of Monzer al-Kassar game is no joke as he is one of the most highly connected individuals between the dark world of crime and terrorism and the gray world of political expediency.  The central charges of conspiracy to terrorism and such ignore the greater problem that such corrupting influences that he represents have spread far and wide.  You do not get Colombian drug Cartels kidnapping people to help out such an individual by *chance*.  That points to a deep connection to the criminal world, reaching into jails across the globe.  Not only does he have those connections and the higher ones to politicians, but the lateral ones to banking and finance: his work to launder money from the Bekaa valley drug trade, arms deals and various other black world projects points to a deep and long term problem uncovered by the BoNY scandal.

At heart Monzer al-Kassar is one of the prime movers in the realm of illegal war and private war, seeking to undermine the US, in particular, and the West in general.  He is skilled enough to have been untouchable for decades, not only was it hard to pin anything on him, but once in court cases tended to evaporate out from under prosecutors.  By using that organized crime and terrorism *reach* he could *touch* nearly anyone with threats or simple death.  And that brings up a very troubling part of the DEA work:  beyond the agents involved in the 'sting'... no, hold on a second... *including* them, just who does this case depend upon?  Anyone with connections to arms dealing, narcotics trafficking or having contacts with the Red Mafia or the combined Kassar/Auchi contacts group may have a hard time staying alive.

Even in a supermax.

Having seen a couple of Spanish, Argentine, and Swiss cases just fall to pieces around him, there is no guarantee that even with iron-clad proof of wrong-doing that he will not walk away from the charges.  He is the master of technicality, and knows how to operate so as to have ample fall-backs and back-ups in the legal realm.  Two or three charges might not be enough to do it, and even those that gain a conviction have tended to be overturned on further review.  Given a year of preparation, which he has *had*, getting any case to stand up against him in Federal Court is going to be a problem.  If he was hit with every possible sanction, starting from the Hezbollah bombings and Iran/Contra all the way to the present, including at least one episode of piracy and another of aiding and abetting it, there might be a possibility to get *something* to stick.

The best possible world would have the Piracy charges with Abu Abbas be confirmed, they are damned simple and need to show simple collusion.  With that the entire network of Kassar contacts could be brought in on the aiding, abetting, working with, giving material aid to Pirates.  Those are, by far, the simplest federal charges in the world to make stick as they were aimed directly at those waging private war against any Nation.  Absent that, you are stuck in the mush of the terrorism laws, RICO and various other conspiracy laws highly limited by the US territorially.

And then there is the final problem:  the next President.

That Four Degrees game?

He is connected to Obama (via Auchi and Alsammarae), Clinton (via Marc Rich or Jackson Stephens) and McCain (via Depriposka if not Keating or Stephens), and there will be heavy pressure on each of them to *not* keep Monzer al-Kassar in jail due to *his* knowledge of various US Presidential Administrations and Congressmen.  He is a bi-partisan threat, and one of the nastiest to have been seen in decades if not longer.  I don't expect that even a supermax will hinder al-Kassar's operations and that of his family: they have been in the business far longer than the current crop of politicians have. 

I expect him to walk unless he actually can exploit federal hospitality, of course...

To the Candidates for President:  If you want my vote you will appoint a fully independent investigation inside the FBI, CIA, Treasury, and DoD to gather evidence of ALL wrongdoing by this guy and then follow each and every one of them up and if it leads to *you* step down from the Office of President.

Everyone who has bitched, moaned, complained about the war, FISA, 'civil liberties' and 'terrorism is just a tactic':  this is the Civil side of going after terrorism and it will lead to your favorite policial party, backers, organizers, and possibly some of your friends.

If Monzer al-Kassar has Piracy charges *stick* against him, then every contact, supplier, friend, confidante... EVERYONE who knows him and has helped him can be brought up on federal charges of showing that help to a Pirate and be slammed away for a decade.  Everyone that al-Kassar reaches out *to* can be brought *in* and put out of circulation.

No exceptions.

None for political party.

None for office.

None for Nation of origin.

None for who they back.

No one.

That will lead to the organizations of al Qaeda, HAMAS, PLO, Hezbollah, FARC - everyone in those organizations can be brought in as they support that ORGANIZATION.  And a few of them, like Hezbollah and al Qaeda, should really be brought up on Piracy charges for their attacks on the USS Cole and the unarmed merchant vessel attacked by Hezbollah in 2006.  Plus parts of the PLO have done sea born attacks and invasions of Israel, which is, yes, Piracy when done by non Nations.

You want the Civil side of confronting terrorism?

Now it the time to start.

That is if you *care* about curbing this form of private war and making it very unattractive to those doing it or those looking to do it.

These people have cast all civil rights aside and put themselves above all Nations as final arbiter of life and death.

The charges are very, very simple to figure out.

They chose this path to go down.

Now we can show them the error of their ways... if we have the guts to stand for anything and demonstrate that there is a place for the rule of law amongst men and Nations.  It is nasty, it is rough, it is hard, it is not nice.

No one said being civilized was any of those things.

It is, however, necessary to uphold it so you can treat those who abide by being civilized in a civil fashion.

And those who don't?

Outside the law of civilization and adhering to the Law of Nature.

They want that.

And it is what they should get in full and complete measure.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Where Angels fear to tread

All the rights secured to the citizens under the Constitution are worth nothing, and a mere bubble, except guaranteed to them by an independent and virtuous Judiciary.

- Andrew Jackson Attribution: Andrew Jackson (1767–1845), U.S. president. Letter, July 5, 1822, to Andrew Jackson Donelson, Donelson Papers, Library of Congress.

To secure our rights via law is set the courts, with the Supreme Court set by the Constitution and lesser courts given by Congress.  The ability of citizens to have safety as citizens rests within what their Nation is: the Sovereign State that ensures that those who are members of it, the citizenry, are ensured of safety from those who are not citizens.  In the creation of that Nation to ensure the safety of the State, mankind in that act of creation agrees to set aside some of the liberties that are had under the Law of Nature and give them to the State, lest they be used unwisely by individuals to involve others in things that are not of their business as a whole.  Those who have sought to do otherwise have gained reputation by various names throughout history to describe their actions:  thieves, cut-throats, pirates, brigands, corsairs, warlords, and barbarians.

The line of civil safety from that harsh world is demarcated by the State and ensured by the National institutions that allow Nations to regularize intercourse amongst themselves so as to gain mutual protection even when there is internecine animosity.  By handing over some of those negative liberties of punishment, restriction and warfare to the Nation, we seek to live in greater liberty and to restrict the National power so as to allow each individual the greatest acceptable display within society of what makes the Nation an establishment.  This is true of all Nations, be they tiny islands of some few hundred souls or great and sprawling places covering large portions of the planetary surface: from smallest to largest the formulation of intercourse between them is made acceptable as the alternative is too ghastly and horrific to contemplate.

Consider as far back at the Trojan War, and its estimable causes were that sparked on by trade competition amongst a loose confederation of City States against a more tightly controlled Hittite realm with a number of affiliated City States, of which Troy was one.  When affront was given during a diplomatic mission by a young aristocrat from that Trojan realm made off with or eloped with Queen Helen of a second rank King in the Confederation, that King who was brother to the most influential King in the Confederation and brought pleading for help that went out to all of those who had agreed to protect Helen.  While not the most noble of causes, this excuse to war, the other causes of trade, changing crop conditions, and opportunity for self-aggrandizement could not be passed up.  Even with that diplomatic emissaries went between these City States to seek redress of grievances between them and avoid war.  When that did not work the various treaties and agreements between City States came into play, putting the Confederation of Achaean Greeks to test for a long decade of vicious war against Trojan Allies and supporters was waged.  Even in that time and place, we see that trade, agreements and diplomacy were at the heart of these City States and that waging war without giving the cause and reason, and allowing recompense to be made were vital to survivals of peoples in their States.

What happened afterwards, however, was the total collapse of the civilizations involved as the great Palaces of Greece went down into ruin as well as the Hittite realm and Troy, itself, was brought low and barely survived as a city for a time, and then a town, a village and then a hill of rubble for centuries.  Athens would survive, but barely, with the help of nearby islands and peoples.  From that destruction we can hear the faint echoes of the messages sent then:

"'My father, behold, the enemy's ships came (here); my cities(?) were burned, and they did evil things in my country. Does not my father know that all my troops and chariots(?) are in the Hittite country, and all my ships are in the land of Lukka? . . . Thus, the country is abandoned to itself. May my father know it: the seven ships of the enemy that came here inflicted much damage upon us.'" - Letter of Ammurapi to Suppululiuma II of the Hittites telling of the Sea People.

The countries -- --, the [Northerners] in their isles were disturbed, taken away in the [fray] -- at one time. Not one stood before their hands, from Kheta, Kode, Carchemish, Arvad, Alashia, they were wasted. {The}y {[set up]} a camp in one place in Amor. They desolated his people and his land like that which is not. They came with fire prepared before them, forward to Egypt. Their main support was Peleset, Tjekker, Shekelesh, Denyen, and Weshesh. (These) lands were united, and they laid their hands upon the land as far as the Circle of the Earth. Their hearts were confident, full of their plans. (Medinet Habu, Year 8 inscription.) - Inscription by Ramases III at Medinet Habu.

Thus the watchers are guarding the coasts : command of Maleus at Owitono... 50 men of Owitono to go to Oikhalia, command of Nedwatas.... 20 men of Kyparssia at Aruwote, 10 Kyparissia men at Aithalewes.... command of Tros at Ro'owa: Kadasijo a shareholder, performing feudal service.... 110 men from Oikhalia to Aratuwa. - Clay tablet found at Pylos.

These are the ravagers - not just pirates as many would come to try and settle once a foothold was garnered in the lands they had attacked.  That is how the Philistines came to Palestine, and those from Sherden went to Sicily and perhaps points west.  The more familiar litany of Huns, Goths, Vandals, Franks, and Mongols follows this same pattern of stepping in when civilization decays and crumbles.  From the Lukka, Shekesh, Dananu to Huns, Goths, Vandals to those we know of by names such as Josephus, Grace O'Malley, Bartholomew Roberts, Joaquin Murrieta, and the Soviets fighting a 'bandit army' using paratroops for the first time ever, the list of worldwide banditti is long and bloody.  We romanticize them because we are safe and insulated from their harsh and brutal times, and place their deeds higher because our civilization is so comfortable.  And yet each were confronted by States and Nations, be they Egypt under Ramses II or the Byzantine Empire or the British Navy or even simple settlers forming up towns and establishing laws to finally put an end to those outside the law living by the Law of Nature.

We came to recognize that those living by the Law of Nature and waging war on their own are accountable to the brutality of war when confronted by the forces of States and Nations, and that their crimes of being out-law are punishable in the severest way when captured by civil forces.  These ones who rule by force, by terror, by coercion and abide by no civilized norms to impose their will upon others have gotten the harshest treatment when caught as they have chosen to step outside of society on their own, without being forced to by any other person.  By doing so they may still talk, think and reason, but they are man in the state of Nature not in the state of Civilization.

This view has been passed down to the United States by the Common Law of England as seen in Blackstone's Commentaries:

LASTLY, the crime of piracy, or robbery and depredation upon the high seas, is an offense against the universal law of society; a pirate being, according to Sir Edward Coke,10 hostis humani generis [enemy to mankind]. As therefore he has renounced all the benefits of society and government, and has reduced himself afresh to the savage state of nature, by declaring war against all mankind, all mankind must declare war against him: so that every community has a right, by the rule of self-defense, to inflict that punishment upon him, which every individual would in a state of nature have been otherwise entitled to do, any invasion of his person or personal property.

BY the ancient common law, piracy, if committed by a subject, was held to be a species of treason, being contrary to his natural allegiance; and by an alien to be felony only: but now, since the statute of treasons, 25 Edw. III. c. 2. it is held to be only felony in a subject.11 Formerly it was only cognizable by the admiralty courts, which proceed by the rule of the civil law.12 But, it being inconsistent with the liberties of the nation, that any man's life should be taken away, unless by the judgment of his peers, or the common law of the land, the statute 28 Hen. VIII. c. 15. established a new jurisdiction for this purpose; which proceeds according to the course of the common law, and of which we shall say more hereafter.

It is, indeed, ancient law as hostis humani generis comes from the Roman Law on how to deal with such individuals, which would include bandit armies.  As Blackstone would note, the Law of Nations is deducible by natural reason and established by universal consent of those who are civilized.  If you have a Nation to protect your State and the people therein, you get the Law of Nations as a result.  Time does not matter as even the Brozne Age civilizations found that when they had City States they had created a system of interaction that is definable, even if they never clearly defined it for themselves, it had come into being.  Thus the written Law of Nations by Emmerich de Vattel should come as no surprise to anyone who thinks about what Nations are and why they interact the way they do.  Which is why the following should not be a surprise from Book III:

§ 1. Definition of war.(136)

WAR is that state in which we prosecute our right by force. We also understand, by this term, the act itself, or the manner of prosecuting our right by force: but it is more conformable to general usage, and more proper in a treatise on the law of war, to understand this term in the sense we have annexed to it.

§ 2. Public war.(136)

Public war is that which takes place between nations or sovereigns, and which is carried on in the name of the public power, and by its order. This is the war we are here to consider: — private war, or that which is carried on between private individuals, belongs to the law of nature properly so called.


§ 4. It belongs only to the sovereign power.(137)

As nature has given men no right to employ force, unless when it becomes necessary for self defence and the preservation of their rights (Book II. § 49, &c.), the inference is manifest, that, since the establishment of political societies, a right, so dangerous in its exercise, no longer remains with private persons except in those encounters where society cannot protect or defend them. In the bosom of society, the public authority decides all the disputes of the citizens, represses violence, and checks every attempt to do ourselves justice with our own hands. If a private person intends to prosecute his right against the subject of a foreign power, he may apply to the sovereign of his adversary, or to the magistrates invested with the public authority: and if he is denied justice by them, he must have recourse to his own sovereign, who is obliged to protect him. It would be too dangerous to allow every citizen the liberty of doing himself justice against foreigners; as, in that case, there would not be a single member of the state who might not involve it in war. And how could peace be preserved between nations, if it were in the power of every private individual to disturb it? A right of so momentous a nature, — the right of judging whether the nation has real grounds of complaint, whether she is authorized to employ force, and justifiable in taking up arms, whether prudence will admit of such a step, and whether the welfare of the state requires it, — that right, I say, can belong only to the body of the nation, or to the sovereign, her representative. It is doubtless one of those rights, without which there can be no salutary government, and which are therefore called rights of majesty (Book I. § 45).

Thus the sovereign power alone is possessed of authority to make war. But, as the different rights which constitute this power, originally resident in the body of the nation, may be separated or limited according to the will of the nation (Book I. § 31 and 45), it is from the particular constitution of each state, that we are to learn where the power resides, that is authorized to make war in the name of the society at large. The kings of England, whose power is in other respects so limited, have the right of making war and peace.1 Those of Sweden have lost it. The brilliant but ruinous exploits of Charles XII. sufficiently warranted the states of that kingdom to reserve to themselves a right of such importance to their safety.

This is not 'top-down reasoning' but reasoning from something which exists and can be defined by reason, thus it is reasonable.  We create States and Nations for a reason, and that is to live in community without the fear of barbaric war between those of us inside the community.  By having laws that are known between us, as individuals, and abiding by them, that thing called government is created to ensure that such laws are carried out and, by that agreement between us as citizens, we agree to those laws.  Beyond regularizing commerce, trade, and other means of social intercourse, the largest liberty given up is this negative one called 'making war': as individuals we agree that it is so toxic, so highly negative that only the thing we create called the State should have say over it.

And as citizens we also agree that Nations that are the safeguards of our States should also have the means of say over those who do NOT abide by that agreement.  Even more, is that if those individuals who wage private war should fall into the hands of citizens, there is little save pleading for mercy that those individuals can do.  Especially once attacked, and having shown NO MERCY to the civil population, they may get NO MERCY in return as they have returned to the Law of Nature and fully know that this is what they will get in RETURN for their actions when caught as that *is* the Law they live under.  In Book III this is made abundantly clear:

§ 67. It is to be distinguished from informal and unlawful war.

Legitimate and formal warfare must be carefully distinguished from those illegitimate and informal wars, or rather predatory expeditions, undertaken either without lawful authority or without apparent cause, as likewise without the usual formalities, and solely with a view to plunder. Grotius relates several instances of the latter.5 Such were the enterprises of the grandes compagnies which had assembled in France during the wars with the English, — armies of banditti, who ranged about Europe, purely for spoil and plunder: such were the cruises of the buccaneers, without commission, and in time of peace; and such in general are the depredations of pirates. To the same class belong almost all the expeditions of the Barbary corsairs: though authorized by a sovereign, they are undertaken without any apparent cause, and from no other motive than the lust of plunder. These two species of war, I say, — the lawful and the illegitimate, — are to be carefully distinguished, as the effects and the rights arising from each are very different.

§ 68. Grounds of this distinction.

In order fully to conceive the grounds of this distinction, it is necessary to recollect the nature and object of lawful war. It is only as the last remedy against obstinate injustice that the law of nature allows of war. Hence arise the rights which it gives, as we shall explain in the sequel: hence, likewise, the rules to be observed in it. Since it is equally possible that either of the parties may have right on his side, — and since, in consequence of the independence of nations, that point is not to be decided by others (§ 40), — the condition of the two enemies is the same, while the war lasts. Thus, when a nation, or a sovereign, has declared war against another sovereign on account of a difference arisen between them, their war is what among nations is called a lawful and formal war; and its effects are, by the voluntary law of nations, the same on both sides, independently of the justice of the cause, as we shall more fully show in the sequel.6 Nothing of this kind is the case in an informal and illegitimate war, which is more properly called depredation. Undertaken without any right, without even an apparent cause, it can be productive of no lawful effect, nor give any right to the author of it. A nation attacked by such sort of enemies is not under any obligation to observe towards them the rules prescribed in formal warfare. She may treat them as robbers,(146a) The inhabitants of Geneva, after defeating the famous attempt to take their city by escalade,7 caused all the prisoners whom they took from the Savoyards on that occasion to be hanged up as robbers, who had come to attack them without cause and without a declaration of war. Nor were the Genevese censured for this proceeding, which would have been detested in a formal war.

Note the city used as an example:  Geneva, Switzerland.  The place that would become home and synonymous with the rules of warfare known as the Geneva Conventions.  It would be very strange for such a place not to know the differences between public and private war having been subject to the latter in their history.  Also of interest is that de Vattel is Swiss, and it is by no means an accident that he utilizes that background to demonstrate the more general point about those who wage war for their own ends outside of Sovereignty and Nations.

What Blackstone mentions is that the trial of those who are caught as pirates moves to the civil courts in England, but only in the period after which the US SCOTUS has defined the original power of the Nation:  while England changed her laws under Henry VIII, the United States derives its Admiralty power from before that time for jurisdiction.  That said the US still embodies the jurisdiction in the civil courts for those declared as pirates and captured via civil means.  Because of the original jurisdiction and power of the United States for the Admiralty stemming before that period, however, the US embodies that power on the military side in the Commander in Chief operating under the military laws made by Congress that is given sole right to define these laws.

Here are the parts of the US Constitution dealing with these powers, first with Congress in Article I, Section 8:

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

In the ability to define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high seas, Congress is to make laws to cover the maritime or Admiralty areas of the United States: all US flag vessels operating within reach of the high seas.  That is how a Captain of a vessel is allowed to marry individuals under the Sovereign flag of their Nation and also enforces the law of that Nation on-board ship until they have fully passed beyond the reach of the high seas within a Nation.  Traditionally that was marked by the furthest high tide in the Thames, but has been reduced to having obstructions of land between a current position and the high seas, such as passing the headlands of a large river like the Mississippi.  Simple bays are not enough, nor are ports, as the land based portion has the law of that Nation while each ship has the law of its flag Nation still operable upon it.  Ships, in that sense, operate as extensions of the Nation under the flag they fly.

Offences against the Law of Nations, and capitalized to show its importance, means that all other acts that can be considered injurious to the US on a Nation-to-Nation jurisdictional basis, say that of recruiting Americans for a foreign Army without the consent of the President, may have laws levied against them.  It is this view and the permission of regular citizens to travel overseas under treaty agreements that have been regularized, that allows the US to extend its protection to its citizenry while overseas.  While a citizen is liable for all laws of the host Nation, the citizen is, in return, protected by wanton assaults via warlike means against them via the laws of Congress.

Even further, however, is that Congress has, by its powers, the ability to discriminate between civil and military law for activities and address both with regard to the Law of Nations.  By Congressional power to promulgate regulations and inferior tribunals, does it get the power to set the course for those captured by civil means and by martial means, and even to determine if captures in one are liable to the other!  It is a huge power of Congress and, exercised well, will give any foe of the United States great pause in warlike assaults upon its citizens.

Congress has, in the past, with regards to those waging private war, done just that in the past, as seen in INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE FIELD, Prepared by Francis Lieber, promulgated as General Orders No. 100 by President Lincoln, 24 April 1863 via the Avalon Project:

Art. 82.

Men, or squads of men, who commit hostilities, whether by fighting, or inroads for destruction or plunder, or by raids of any kind, without commission, without being part and portion of the organized hostile army, and without sharing continuously in the war, but who do so with intermitting returns to their homes and avocations, or with the occasional assumption of the semblance of peaceful pursuits, divesting themselves of the character or appearance of soldiers - such men, or squads of men, are not public enemies, and, therefore, if captured, are not entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war, but shall be treated summarily as highway robbers or pirates.

This is the definition of what we would call 'terrorism', and those committing during times of military conflict are judged, summarily, as either highway robbers or pirates.  The activity, in this case, sets the punishment as not being public enemies, they are given no privileges of being a prisoner of war, but receive the summary wartime treatment of those crimes.  Those orders and that outlook lasted until the drafting of the Hague Conventions, and yet those Conventions did not contravene these orders in any way, as private war was not and could not be addressed by international law as it was a high crime against all Nations.  How those in Geneva treated those that attacked them via private war and how peoples through the ages have done so was still in effect:  mankind makes a distinction between the public waging of war, and the wholly illegitimate private war.

It is for these reasons that the Boumediene decision by the Supreme Court is more than troubling: it is stepping away not only from the Constitutional division of powers, the traditional decisions given during wartime, but also it is stepping away from Common Law and, indeed, all law that the US draws upon as its sources, including the Black Book of the Admiralty which laws it enumerates themselves coming from Roman Law.  The Supreme Court attempts to place civil law where Congress places Combatant Status Review Tribunals done by the military to determine of individuals are engaging in private war.  It should be noted that private war is not limited to al Qaeda or Taliban, but is practiced by many groups and individuals who see fit to divest themselves of civil society and agreement to wage war to their own ends.

The CSRT organizations fit wholly within the Article I, Section 8 power given to Congress as it, and only it, has the power and authority to determine how crimes against the Law of Nations are to be addressed.  By stepping in any other direction, to assert that the summary nature of decisions, as is traditional upon military law practiced by the armed forces of the United States since at least 1863, and truly before the founding of the Nation itself as English military law had similar views, the Supreme Court has attempted to set itself up as the arbiter of what is or is not military or civil law.  At no time up to the modern has any individual waging private war been given such things in a military venue as they are practicing something wholly anathema to civil society by taking up arms to fight their own war outside of any Sovereign commission.  By inserting itself into this procedure set by Congress and accepted by the Executive, and that is wholly in keeping with previous law and rulings in this realm, the Supreme Court is violating its own views of letting precedent set the tone and tenor of cases.

It should also be noted that while other laws have replaced and refined General Orders No. 100 from 1863, that no law has been put in its place to address such individuals who are not public enemies, but waging private war.  While newer orders are considered operable, in areas where no new orders have been set down the older are considered to be operative: in that Congress has been trying to find a way to regularize Article 82 for the modern age, but the Supreme Court has constantly been hampering that process.

I personally beg to differ with the Supreme Court on Held 2b:

(b) A diligent search of founding-era precedents and legal commentaries reveals no certain conclusions. None of the cases the parties cite reveal whether a common-law court would have granted, or refused to hear for lack of jurisdiction, a habeas petition by a prisoner deemed an enemy combatant, under a standard like the Defense Department’s in these cases, and when held in a territory, like Guantanamo,over which the Government has total military and civil control.

If the 'diligent search' of precedents has NOT uncovered General Order No.100 from 1863, then perhaps the Court has had a predetermined decision in mind.  It is difficult to find, but not impossible via a public search via this thing known as a 'search engine'.

And as Sir William Blackstone had written his commentaries in 1765-1769, a mere 8 years before the Revolutionary war and his writings and scholarship were known to Jefferson, Madison and others, it is difficult to understand how his vies on private war could not be known to the SCOTUS.  Indeed, his works are cited by the early Supreme Court to help garner direction of rulings and to cite when Congress has changed direction from the Common Law.

As Emerich de Vattel wrote Law of Nations in 1758 and it was widely cited and commented upon throughout the founding era and during the 1787-89 commentaries of both Federalists and Anti-Federalists and how the new Nation would embody the views of it, there is little reason to suspect that the founding generation did not know about it as they specifically capitalize the law and work in the Constitution.  The private war addressing powers are given to Congress along with all other Law of Nations crimes to be addressed, plus the division of law between the civil and military side which is a specific feature of our Republic.  While Admiralty courts gave way to civil courts in England, the early Supreme Court cases differed from Common Law and sought the widest possible reach of sovereign power for the new Nation and specifically and categorically struck down any attempt by Congress to limit that scope of power.  As piracy is one of the problems addressed by those laws, and the fact that it has a civil and military side to it, those Courts clearly understood the differences BETWEEN civil and military law.

Anyone caught by the armed forces committing acts of war who does not conform to the rules of warfare as signed upon by treaty and enforced by Congress gets the *punishment* for not doing so.  Congress and President Lincoln were quite and succinctly clear on that: all trials are summary in nature.  The reason that is so is because those best suited to determine who is and is not a soldier are those in the armed forces operating under the military laws of the United States and who have been trained and taught to respect and understand those laws.  That is why we give military law to them to operate upon:  war is hell and they are the only ones who can make sense of it and still conform to international and national standards simultaneously.

There is a reason that the writ of habeas petition does not apply to those captured by the armed forces and judged to be fighting private war:  they have dropped all pretense of holding to any civil law by their conduct and are fighting outside the norms of all laws.  If they wish to get treatment by the civil courts they can give themselves up TO civil authorities.  This is why the judicial power of the Supreme Court ITSELF extends to this part of the law under Article III, Section 2:

--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;

Note that this jurisdiction is the civil jurisdiction to which the judicial Power is extended, to take place in the area of the admiralty and maritime, that is aboard ships at sea.  And when civil controversies involve the Nation, then judicial Power is also enacted.  Beyond that the Supreme Court is the court of last appeal in the United States.  From all of that, however, it does NOT get to set the division between military and civil law.  The former is expressly made for the conduct of the US armed forces wherever they may go and to bring regularity and order to their operations even when operating overseas.  Unless it has been missed, the US has held other military tribunals overseas during previous conflicts and has every power to do due to the nature of overseas military conflicts:  they are overseas against non-citizens of the United States and conducted under the agreed upon treaties making up the laws of war plus any other restrictions Congress wishes to place in their regulatory role.

In a short instance I have come up with multiple areas that distinctly demonstrate that the type of conflict and operations against those waging private war were known to the founding era:  Law of Nations, Blackstone's Commentaries, the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers.   Further the SCOTUS could check all admiralty decisions of the early Courts from stand-up to the 1870's to see the type of views used by those Courts to examine admiralty cases.  Beyond that Congress and President Lincoln put into place a set of General Orders for the army and navy starting in 1863 and lasting for over 30 years that dealt with this very problem of those fighting private war against the US.  Finally an examination of the idea of the US conducting military tribunals overseas should yield up numerous examples of the armed forces doing so, probably since the first extra-territorial work of the armed forces starting with President Jefferson who acted under the Law of Nations in going against the Barbary Pirates as that is what a Commander of the Navies *does* when also acting as Head of State and Head of Government.

As it stands this is one of the least thought-out, most ill-conceived decisions of many the Supreme Court has handed down, including Plessy v Ferguson.  Here they are attempting to say that those fighting in a barbaric mode under the Law of Nature are due all the pleasantries of civil law when captured by the armed forces.  That has NEVER been the case save where a Sovereign has specifically directed for individuals that otherwise should be done and reasons given on a case-by-case basis.  When Captain Henry Morgan appealed to the civil courts when charged with Piracy it was to clear his good name.  He gave himself up willingly on that agreement for civil hearing and demonstrated there was no way he could know of the Treaty signed between England and Spain.

That is why we *have* civil courts and civilization: to demonstrate the ability to act in a civilized manner.

Which is most specifically NOT practicing private war.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Hard Part

The following is a personal position paper of The Jacksonian Party, first presented at Dumb Looks Still Free.

The reports from Iraq show promise and much of it, while those of Afghanistan are turning upwards, the ability to get a stable government and State that rejects the Taliban is also going forward, though much more slowly. These are both cause for optimism, by and large, although the underlying problems of both Iraq and Afghanistan are only partly due to the extremists within each Nation: the source of the problem lies elsewhere in the world and it is those places where extremism can find easy home that are of the gravest concern. Taking out the prestige and visibility of these organizations, al Qaeda, Jaish al-Mahdi & Iranian Qods/Secret Cells is not the end of the process, nor even close to it. The fangs of these groups have been filed down, but the venom of them and the other organizations that have gone unaddressed as they are only our Private enemies who have killed our people and threatened our Nation.

But then, so are al Qaeda and JaM, and Iran has been an enemy since its invasion of our embassy in Tehran, twice, in 1979.

Of these groups a few are ready stand-outs: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's group that spans across central Asia and has even performed terror attacks in China and Europe, Hezbollah acting as the Foreign Legion of Iran and stretching from central Asia through Europe and even into the Americas, Muslim Brotherhood the base organization of HAMAS and supporter of Islamic extremists in Sudan, Somalia, Algeria, Albania, and into South America. Hezbollah, collecting any profit off of the Syrian Bekaa Valley drug trade can easily pull in hundreds of millions of dollars and can likewise garner tens of millions more downstream via threats, extortion and 'terror taxation'. Just from the narcotics trade alone, that may nearly be as much as FARC, close to $1 billion/year. Similarly Hekmatyar's group is set up for a like-size amount from the Golden Triangle traffic under its control in parts of Pakistan, Kashmir, China, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, probably in partnership with the Mogilevich Red Mafia group

On the non-Islamic side of things, the IRA has worn itself down to criminal status and finding it hard to compete with the Red Mafia. FARC has been an enemy of the US for decades: capturing our citizens for ransom or just killing them, attack US government officials, and even trying to assassinate a sitting President on state visit to Colombia. Of all the non-Islamic groups FARC is arguably the worse and most connected having a long-term vehemence against personal liberty and freedom, and moving into the drug trade in place of the cartels as they fell. Still the profit from the drug trade, alone, is estimated at a minimum of $1 billion/year. Because of the nature of the narcotics trade, even taking FARC out of the equation will just shift export production elsewhere: Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Bolivia... you have choices and, of course, a broken up FARC will still have its contacts base and ability to shift some operations for some sub-portions of the organization. Also there would be the expectation of transatlantic trade picking up both from the Middle East, via Europe, and Africa via S. America and the Caribbean. Beyond that the Golden Triangle trade could re-expand as most of that is in some of the vast, lawless territory stretching from Western China into Central Asia. Plus the Magic Kingdom of Mr. Kim in North Korea has demonstrated capability to refine narcotics to something far better than even the Yakuza can do: N. Korea is becoming a prime supplier of the West Asian illicit drug trade, including knock-off above-manufacturers standards pharmaceuticals.

From S. America there is Hezbollah, HAMAS and al Qaeda, along with Shining Path and a few other smaller terror organizations, currently living in the shadow of the FARC drug trade and the emerald gangs. In the Far East the Hekmatyar organization would be a prime one to benefit from increased narco-trafficking, but so would Abu Sayyaf and al Qaeda directly. From Africa it would be GIA, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, HAMAS. If you are getting the feeling that the narcotics trade is merging with terrorism, then you have the right feeling. On the other side the Red Mafia is far more brutal in its commercial operations than mere terrorists could ever be: the Red Mafia doesn't want limelight, just cash. No need for a jihad when just killing you solves the problem... the commercial and capitalist end of organized crime needs to up its ante to compete with the brutality of terrorists, and since organized crime has no ethics or compunctions about their operations, they are actually colder than any hot blooded jihadi blowing himself up: the mobster expects to live and hone his trade. That is terror to intimidate and work one's ends, just as terrorism has just the same though different ends.

So, beyond narcotics, where is the money coming from? Oil and natural gas. Saudi Arabia and Iran both export billions in cash to their favorite terror groups, and while Iran concentrates on Hezbollah and less on HAMAS, the Saudi oil families concentrate on the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda, HAMAS and various lesser groups across the Far East and Pakistan. Organized crime in the old USSR bloc is also benefiting from this with billions in cash transactions used to hide illegal monetary gains in the vast flux of oil and natural gas from Central Asia to Europe. The fund transactions necessary to facilitate the energy movement also goes to hide the other funds not part of that movement. Regularized large accounts shifting funds between 'known' and 'legitimate' institutions that undergo 'scrutiny' can, by having such large transaction types, hide the other sort of funds shifts. The post-9/11 world where banking has, in theory, 'tightened up' the banking system via a 'know your customer' concept falls apart when that bank knows that customer and doesn't care about that customer's other connections. If you want to fund terrorism and organized crime and filter the profits from it, there is nothing like large cash transactions in other venues bundled along with 'transaction fees' to third parties to help slide that money around. As I went through previously, the idea of 'legalizing narcotics' when those in control of the trade, now at its BASE, makes little difference as the profits might go down, but the steadiness of them becomes an assured income platform.

I will get to banking in a bit, but what other venues beyond human trafficking, white slavery, narcotics trafficking, and outright oil profits funding terrorism are there? One of the highest profits, lowest risk criminal activities is cigarette smuggling to avoid State or National taxes, and this proves to be a very lucrative business on a global scale. Cigarette manufacturers based in Nations with minimal oversight and legal overhead farm out work to smaller production plants. Those plants, having an 'in' to the supply system of the brands they work for can then order more paper, wrappers and packaging material, buy low-grade tobacco and stuff that material into said wrappers and sell them on the gray market'. While this does 'impact brand name' it doesn't do it at a high amount as everyone knows they are gray market' and not 'up to snuff', which some folks took up instead. So while brand name and marketing overhead, distribution and other costs are 'piggybacked' by these 'gray market' smokes, the actual cost of production gets to set the price of initial purchase and then the entire supply chain avoids tax stamps and import duties and such via various means. That then winds up in a host nation and distributed via those same 'gray market' networks that, also, support organized crime and terrorism. The big windfall, though, is on the LEGAL cigarettes coming in post-import duty, and then grabbed up by 'wholesalers' who then are supposed to follow National legal codes for taxation and distribution. Instead those on the criminal support side ship these and sell them as 'gray market' goods, but the 'real deal' and not a knock-off, and pocket the sub-tax cost they charge as profit. See that tax cost on a pack of cigarettes? Would you pay the cost, non-tax, to get them? Many do, and that funding stream, while illegal, is difficult to stop. A single Hezbollah cell in the US working between Toronto, Canada, North Carolina and Detroit was able to send back a minimum of $10 million per year on just this alone. Not bad for 6 or 7 guys, really, and they did account for all their costs in what they took, so the $10 million/year is their PROFIT.

Hezbollah, actually, is becoming the quintessential institutionalized terror organization stretching from extortion via terrorism in Lebanon, absurd oil profit pay outs from Iran, getting 'a piece of the action' on the Syrian, S. American, African, Caribbean, N. American and Middle Eastern narcotics trade, melding with Albanian organized crime and Algerian terrorists to sponsor criminal rings in the West stretching from Europe to the Americas of which the auto-theft rings are the most well known of the Albanians, whatever their overseas mosques can get in 'charitable donations for Lebanon', and gray market goods rings that reach as far as Los Angeles hawking knock-offs from the Far East in designer clothing, cigarettes and anything else they can get their hands on. All of these are money making institutions for Hezbollah, and while the oil pay outs may account for 1/3 to 1/2 of their income, the *rest* of it comes from a diverse source base including the Iranian sponsored beef packing facilities that show up wherever Hezbollah roams, like in Colombia. Iran, BTW, is a net exporter of beef globally due to this arrangement, too. Said beef slaughterhouses and packaging companies serve as excellent places to train terrorists, what with the open spaces, loud noises and blood everywhere. To facilitate this Hezbollah has branched out into intellectual property theft via gray market software distribution, with one hacker in Brazil making $100,000 on just one line of products in a year. If that is starting to hit a bit closer to home, to those in the software community, the fact that it was a major brand name probably soothes some. What may be less soothing is that one could purchase those goods at a shopping mall in Ecuador one-half owned by Hezbollah. HAMAS, on a smaller scale, performs many of these same operations, seeking to utilize multi-source funding bases to keep operations going.

When we hear about individuals all hopped up on 'jihad' and being somewhat witless about 'how to do it' being 'amateur terrorists', we should take little solace due to the fact that the more 'professional ones' are widespread and relatively easy to find (as these things go). Really, most suicide-bombers blowing themselves up in Israeli restaurants, Baghdad ice cream shops, or gatherings in Pakistan are NOT professionals: they are one use munitions for their cause. It is the 'professionals' that walk between organized crime and black market goods to gray market goods to terrorism to money laundering that have a real impact on these networks. If a few thugs in Florida want to do jihad on their own, they are snickered at by the absent minded, and declaimed as 'not a threat' while, in fact, they are one decent drug purchase away from that network of sustainment. And as Islam spreads into the US prison system, those coming out already have their contact base for outside work and means to support jihad if they so desire it. So what was a simple and quite clueless 'thug' can get an 'education' in prison and be well on his way to a 'professional career' of transnational terrorism. Clueless today and in 5 or 10 years a possible *real* threat to society.

The link at the low level back to the high level becomes complete with the other end of banking: person to person banking. This is the exact opposite end of the scale spectrum from hiding money in large transfers and then siphoning off 'transaction' and 'payments & processing' fees to third parties. P2P banking is indigenous via culture and community and relies on family, tribe, clan and other localized trust associations that then span the world as people migrate. The most cited is the hawala concept in the Middle East which was typified as 'small cash amounts' continuously on the move. Get under the 'banking scrutiny' sieve by being too small, and no one pays any attention to the transactions. Some banking institutions noted oddities, but for sub-$3,000 transactions it is not worth deploying more than a letter of inquiry. In theory you can move it so every transaction down to the sub-penny is tracked, traced, and verified, but then you run into the 'front companies' and financial institutions that don't really care about their customers. Even that, however, has been worked around ahead of time via the Black Market Peso Exchange system where all transactions are 'white world' and yet black market funds are laundered. How is that done? Small purchases of *goods* that are then shipped/smuggled to areas where they have high overhead and then sold at a profit with that profit pocketed by those in the system (usually the smugglers and a small kickback to the 'banker') and the rest of the funds then go to its intended recipient which then verifies, via local contact to the originator contact that the funds, in full, have arrived. This system is absolutely ingenious and can even work with absolute and fully 'white market' transactions, just by shipping low cost for procurement goods to areas with degrees of restriction that inflate its cost. Cigarettes come to mind.

This low-level integration is one that no law enforcement system on the planet can stop. How do we know this? It is culturally affinitive, requiring cultural contacts at both ends of the exchange system to be analyzed (or even found) and the problem of 'white market purchases' makes the originator Nation unlikely or unwilling to even investigate 'small crimes' if, indeed, there is a crime involved with, on the purchase end, there isn't. The transaction, from start to finish, is illegal, but the transaction method and mode is not: to get the criminal activity the entire chain of transfers must be brought in at one time to demonstrate the money transfer, which goes from original customer, originating 'banker', wholesale purchase, shipment (via legal or illegal means), receipt of goods, sale of goods, payment of goods to destination recipient. That is at least 7 chain parts to pick up and more if multiple shipment/sales are involved, and the individuals in-between can each claim that they did NOTHING WRONG. Again, if $10 million per year from one small cell in the US can get funds to Hezbollah in Lebanon via a route like this (when not outright using fraudulent transaction methods in banking) then just *how* can you de-fund terrorism? The world can't even crack down on the organized crime base for this work, so getting terrorists via it is an even dicier prospect.

How about the high level integration, then, is that amenable to being stopped via banking regulation?

The answer is: no. Why? It is too late to do that.

Consider the friend of 'Tony' Rezko and Barack Obama: Saddam Hussein's cousin, Nadhmi Auchi. In 1968 Saddam Hussein started a system of fraudulent bank accounts, paper financial groups and paper industries, with the sheets of paper being the only 'real' holdings of these groups. During the 1970's the Al Mahdi system stretched from Baghdad to Zurich, Switzerland and from there throughout Europe and to the US. This growing system facilitated the growth of BCCI and profited from it via utilizing it as a 'holding system' for money and money laundering of Saddam's accounts in the Al Mahdi system. Nadhmi Auchi was put in charge of this just prior to Saddam seizing power and killing off some of his extended family, but Nadhmi was fine with *that*. Utilizing BCCI and, later, helping BNL transfer agricultural funds to Saddam, this system grew and would extend down to the Cardoen industries in South America from which Saddam would purchase US cluster bomb technology and manufacturing licensed by the US to Cardoen. From those humble beginnings, the Al Mahdi system would work with HAMAS and its partner Citibank, and reach out to the Al Taqwa banking system set up by bin Laden and Zawahiri to ensure funds distribution to their terrorists overseas.

Luckily, by then BCCI had gone under.

Unluckily the next large scale bank penetration would join with this joint system of Saddam, Auchi, Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda and a few others, plus have its own bank in the way of BNP. What would serve in its place came from the Red Mafia and is a problem that cannot be pulled apart to this day, nearly 9 years after its discovery: the Bank of New York penetration. In one of the least looked at and hardest to understand bank frauds, the BoNY system penetration would encompass financial institutions stretching from the West Coast of the US all the way to Europe and from there the Far East and then cross the Pacific to link up as a global funds transfer network for organized crime and terrorism. At least three Red Mafia groups worked on this and very few of the individuals involved, save for those staging the penetration in NY, have seen any jail time. The system was the 'mass cash transfer hiding illegal funds' system, that depended on the 'Heavy Metals' Oligarchs taking over the production of aluminum, steel, and other products in Russia. The TransWorld Commodities group would become, for a time, the third largest aluminum producer behind Alcoa and Alcan. This would start to unravel, somewhat, after a few killings in the US by a Red Mafia crime boss and the defrauding of stock and securities exchanges of hundreds of millions of dollars by another, but the magnitude only started to set in during late 1999 and early 2000 that this compromise was not limited in scope nor extent. Consider that the fall of BCCI effected banks from Hong Kong, Switzerland, Abu Dhabi, UK, France, Germany, US, and France (amongst its largest placements with smaller banks scattered all over the place). One regulator put BCCI *below* the scale of the BoNY scandal. And the reason for that is that the European clearinghouse for financial transactions, in charge of the SWIFT system, Clearstream had been penetrated by the Red Mafia to launder its funds from the BoNY system.

It is at this point that Nadhmi Auchi becomes involved in Clearstream scandals under Oil For Food, BNP purchases Paribas bank as it is privatized, then BNL and then, because a minor criminal indictment under OFF is no deterrent to crime, Nadhmi Auchi went on to procure a controlling interest in Clearstream.

Yes, one of the largest verification systems for funds transfers is owned by an individual who has used it for money laundering in the past.

The reason that more cannot be pinned on Clearstream is that the BoNY system of transactions for money laundering staggers the imagination. In London a man by the name of Simon Reubens instituted a system whereby paper companies of all sorts were started up in the Bahamas, Grand Caymen Islands, Cyprus, Switzerland, Monaco... well, you name it, there is probably a sheet of paper with a company there that is part of this systems. The one estimate given by MI5 and FBI is that 200 people controlled 300 companies and no one knew them all save for Simon Reubens. And he disdained computers. It was all kept track of in his head. Any man willing to start three companies to pay his rent has got something going for him, and that virtual web of systems includes things like Highrock Holdings run by Mogilevich for his procurement of oil and gas resources in Central Asia to augment his Golden Triangle trade. Although TransWorld Commodities would fall, Oleg Depripaska helped by Auchi and a group of banks that tend to align with BNP-Paribas, has slowly pieced it back together and Rusal is now looking at the #2 spot in global aluminum production. And Mogilevich would leverage a commercial empire based on natural gas through his associate Dmitri Firtash. Together they have caused Russia to fall for the exact, same industrial swindle three times, under different names, and each time there is a stipend paid to the intermediary company that ranges in the $10 billion range per year. That is above and beyond cost of operation or any other profit.

You cannot get a banking system that is 'secure' with folks like this running around and Nations like China sponsoring Huawei, which has its own terrorist and criminal dealings, in any way, shape or form. When a notable venture capitalist who ran for President, Gov. Mitt Romney, can't understand the role that off-shore banking and financial institutions play in his OWN commercial empire, then how can we expect BUREAUCRATS to do so? They aren't making the money that Gov. Romney does nor have the incentive to shut down such things and even if they could CONGRESS created the loopholes that organized crime and terrorism are exploiting via the tax code.

Iraq and Afghanistan? Dead easy compared to this!

Complain about the pittance being spent on those ventures and not one, single, solitary CENT being spent on tightening up our financial institutional structure that makes US money 'easy pickings' to support terrorism and you get an idea of what is involved in scale differences. Put up those lovely counters of the money spent on those ventures, but the moment you look at the tens of billions going into the undermining our own banking and financial system via Congressional votes, and the actual idea of what the cost of fixing *that* will be starts to come into focus. Every 'special privilege' or 'tax benefit' or 'trade subsidy' that the US encourages makes organized crime and terrorism able to expand its networks deeper into the legitimate institutions of the West. Consider that in 2000 the drug trade from the Bekaa valley to Europe was on the order of $40 billion/year, or about 10% of global drug trafficking, all of which is supporting this entire system to undermine Western culture, values and finances. Now that this has only gone in one direction, cost wise, those relatively small amounts, perhaps only 10% being skimmed by terrorists or even less, ends up at billions per year not just on bombs and guns, but for 'outreach' and sustainment. Add in the tens of billions from oil profits from the Saudis and Iran, and you get Hezbollah having missiles costing tens of millions of dollars apiece and having a 6,000 or so. Some of that does go through the old gas pump, yes, but even if oil dried up as a commodity and the entire world went 'green' on energy tomorrow, the residual problem would still be very close to what the US spends on Iraq and Afghanistan per year.

Notice the problem? All of these terrorist organizations don't have government overhead or infrastructure to take care of, and in the case of Iran they don't bother taking care of theirs, anyway. With all the heavy weapons Hezbollah gets, the fact that the small arms, bombs, and generally more normal terror organization underneath it would still exist based on its other sources of incomes, makes taking Iran out and expecting Hezbollah to crumble a non-starter. Hezbollah's heavy weapons would need maintenance from Syria, which would be paid for via the drug trade, thus putting Hezbollah in a 'use it or lose it' for the high cost overhead items. They would want to expend all of those to get back to the sustainable organization, which would *not* go away. While taking Iran out of the picture would lower the long-term threat problem, the short term gets very nasty without addressing Syria and Hezbollah, too.

Then there is Pakistan, heart of multiple Islamic terror groups and having two native populations, Baluchs and Pashtuns, really feeling that they got a raw deal as becoming part of Pakistan. The top money maker in Pakistan is its *own* transnational terror group run by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar out of a 'refugee camp' that is now devoted towards his organization. Stretching from the semi-precious stone smuggling in the East to narcotics in the North and West, then stretching terror arms out to Europe and China, this organization escapes Western sight as it is not al Qaeda or the Taliban. When the Taliban needed weapons it went to Hekmatyar's group to get illegal arms dealer Victor Bout to start supplying them. And as Semion Mogilevich has an airline under his control in the Far East, the contacts to the Red Mafia for Golden Triangle trade in opium are already in place. Clearing Afghanistan of its support for terrorism will only come via the end of the opium trade there and an inter-tribal accommodation on not starting it up again. This would deprive the Taliban and Mehsud organizations of funding, while leaving the other crop areas under Hekmatyar as the only viable source of those funds. Needless to say all of these organizations, to one degree or another, emulate Hezbollah's lead in diversification beyond the committed base of fighters. And many of these groups are, indeed, Private or Personal armies: that is the definition of Lashkar.

What routes can be utilized to curb this problem? And notice it is 'curb' not 'end' or 'eradicate' it?

On the Nation State side the US would have to take a very, very, very hard turn in its foreign policy away from its current, bland multicultural view towards religion. The one thing that the Peace of Westphalia did establish was the separation of the Secular State from Religious Institutions, and that single, sole view is one that has been lost on the US by so many bemoaning the 'separation of church and state'. Not doing so led to the 30 years war and between 15-20% of Europe dead as a result of it. Our current policy of not enforcing the Peace of Westphalia via Foreign Policy is leading to a likewise end on a global scale. But as so many intellectual elites want to end the Westphalian State and put religion as a guiding precept of International Affairs... what?

You say they want only Secular States?

Ok, prove it.

The net effect of not supporting Westphalia has been to encourage the most venomous of religious institutions backed by tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars to radicalize Islamic populations globally. Westphalian States would prohibit that amongst themselves and put those States not doing so under careful scrutiny and possible ban as not upholding Westphalia ends up with lots of people killed over religion. The Transnational Progressive Left does not believe that religion has a role to play in the affairs of Nations and yet will refuse to do anything to stop Transnational establishment of State sponsored religious organizations overseas. The Tranzi Left, instead, equalizes all religions with blandness, thus making, for example, Inuit cultural beliefs the exact same as Islamic terrorists blowing folks up in shopping malls. By equalizing all religions, and not differentiating between them, the Tranzi Multiculti Left upholds nothing and encourages death by destructive religion and will do nothing to stop it. It is unfortunate that the US State Dept takes similar views about not wanting to 'offend' those using Islam as a reason to kill by NOT doing a damned thing to stop the spread of Wahhabi Madrassas and Schools *anywhere* on Rock 3. Mind you, no President has, either, which is why I can find 'al Qaeda High School' as we call it locally, within a few miles of where I am sitting.

The Tranzi Right, likewise, wants no part in anything that upholds cultural identity or gets in the way of economic efficiency. This concept flies in the face of Transnationalism and points out that by not sustaining National culture you lose the ability to get sustainment of Transnational institutions. Without those Transnationalism falls apart as the world goes into chaos because the replacement concepts being put in place by those following strict Islamic Totalitarianism are non-profit seeking and very backwards on personal liberty: you can't be a multiculturalist or a capitalist profit seeker under that formulation as it gets you killed.

Westphalia has a point and a hard one: religion is personal and each individual has freedom to worship inside their Nation. The Nation can have an overall religion but may not ENFORCE IT upon anyone. And as Nations should enjoy survival, keeping external State Sponsored religious institutions OUT of one's Nation should be a goal of Foreign Policy as well as discouraging non-locals from using cash from those exterior States from doing so.

That is a tough nut to sell in the US, as the left would get anaphylactic shock from mere exposure to it. Actually *keeping* to ideals on religious freedom of worship via Foreign Policy is a great big non-starter in the Land of Liberty: can't put forward that human liberty is worth any sacrifice in dollars or comfort now, can we?

That is not going anywhere, I'm afraid, so we must look to other options as a Nation and recognize that venomous religion as sponsored by Nations to undermine and dissolve other Nations is a fact of what is going on. If, say, Turkey tried to manipulate the fast food market by putting in a mega falafel chain that would offer good products at lower prices to gain market share, we would have some heartburn. If they subsidized it to operate at a loss so they could drive competitors OUT, we would seek to end trade with Turkey in this area. If they shifted and opened up a value chain of TurkMart stores, using goods made by low cost labor in Central Asia to compete with US stores and gain market share, we would continue with heartburn. Operated at a loss to drive out competitors? Soon the Foreign Policy wheels would be in motion and things would deteriorate as we would want to know *why* the Turks were doing this. And if they responded, 'to undermine your domestic economy and take it over' we would laugh, of course, but take the threat seriously.

So, why not do this with Saudi Arabia?

Yeah, oil? So?

Yet, in the case of religious intrusion to utilize domestic means to undermine the US legal system, the Left in America is more than willing to roll over, whimper and expose its neck and say 'please don't kill me'.

To put our money where our anti-terror desires are requires the US to utilize both Foreign and Domestic policy to end the threat and seek to our own internal accord and safety. Externally, however, the US has an opportunity that no other Western Nation has had for decades: start to teach something a slight bit different in one of the oldest capitals of Islamic knowledge on the planet. We also have a native population that may just be willing to listen to us and hear us out on the subject of human liberty and accountability, what with all the killing of their people by religious fanatics propagated by the Saudi's and Iranians. If the Saudi and Iranian threat is to use culture and religion to undermine Nations wherever their followers go, it would be a fair fight to start setting down academies to teach Western economics, jurisprudence, culture and traditions and *why* we can live with those who adhere to ideas of human liberty and freedom and having common government that respects those things. In Michael Oren's Power, Faith and Fantasy, we get a rare glimpse into the successes that early US church based schools and teaching hospitals had on the Middle East in a very limited way. Those were private institutions set up to teach the private values of how Americans see their faith and common government as a single whole, and when the earliest explorers brought along books like Tom Paine's Common Sense, and those that heard it from the banks of the Nile to the interior of the area we think of as Kudish it was seen as, indeed, having some common sense to it.

For those on the Left and Right who see the Middle East from Northern Africa to as far out as Afghanistan as still being relatively backwards and primitive culturally, would not teaching the most revolutionary of ideas for human liberty from their source allow the US to make its case that Islam can and indeed MUST adapt to the modern world so as to avoid a global bloodbath on the scale of the 30 years war but without borders? We already have some of the finest of our Citizens demonstrating that this can work and give a culture that is at peace with its beliefs and yet can still advance in material ways in common accord, while allowing each man his say on his own life. These respected Citizens who show and demonstrate respect can also demonstrate how this works, perhaps with the help of the Poles, and give a new context for Islam that allows each to take it up or not as the case may be.

The Hard Part of Iraq and Afghanistan hasn't even started yet.

It is the part where we either demonstrate the courage of our beliefs in how we make our world better by giving each man his due and not threatening him with death if he believes differently, or where we demonstrate an inability to understand that All Men Are Created Equal even on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates.

Cash? Damned easy to come by.

Belief in ourselves?

That is the Hard Part.