Daily Archives: February 25, 2007

UPDATED. who is https://cvn76.surfor.navy.mil/Lists/S…? Ahoy, the USS Ronald Reagan….

[cross posted at dKos]
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One of these guys on the USS Ronald Reagan is an Over the Line, Smokey! reader.

One of the beauties of having your own blog here at WordPress is the availability of all sorts of stats. I look at them every day and try to figure out what they mean. Not being a computer geek, it’s kind of guesswork.

Today was pretty strange. Real big day. While I appreciate the sudden spike of page views at Over the Line, Smokey!, I am uncertain as to what to make of it. Hundreds of hits, with only one comment. Apparently someone has linked to this story on the mysterious mission of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, and to this one, which is also about our navy. The Reagan piece speculated that the aircraft carrier might be headed towards Iran, based on some comments I found on the internet.
So today, in looking at the referrer’s list, I see (in addition to the usual array of referrers), 4 hits from this URL: https://cvn76.surfor.navy.mil/Lists/S…. The URL was cut off there after the “S”.

When I clicked on the URL, I got a rather ominous message about what might be awaiting me if I clicked through. This Department of Defense site https://surfor.navy.mil seems to have some CA-7 certification issues. After a little investigation, (not a geek) I decided not to install the certificate on my Mac, but I clicked through to this (which is password protected), which I could now see in its entirety:

now, SURFOR is obviously the office of the Commander of Surface Forces.

Commander, Naval Surface Forces (SURFOR) ensures surface ships across the fleet are properly trained, maintained and crewed to support military operations with other U.S. Services, and with friendly nations anywhere in the world.

SURFOR includes surface ships, support and maintenance commands and several staffs necessary to coordinate and operate the fighting forces.

Highly trained Sailors and civilians are teamed to constitute the true strength of SURFOR. They operate or support the 73 surface ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet which are based in: San Diego; Pearl Harbor; Everett and Bremerton, Wash.; Yokosuka, and Sasebo, Japan. In addition, SURFOR oversees the 111 surface ships assigned to the U.S. Atlantic Fleet homeported along the east coast from Bath, Maine to Corpus Christi, Texas.


But who is cvn76? civilian #76? Carl Vance Nixon born in 1976? well, I’m not so dumb: CVN76 is the designation for the USS Ronald Reagan.

For proof of concept here is an analogous site for another vessel, the ACU 2; look at the URL. And yes, I did try plugging in cvn76 instead of acu2 and just got a “server not found” message.

So at least four page views came from a password protected part of what used to be, as least, the Reagan’s server. The rest of the the URL prints an emphatic SCUTTLEBUT DO NOT DISCUSS SHIPS MOVEMENT.

Scuttlebut means rumor. Is this the USS Ronald Reagan’s list of rumors, with a caution not to discuss ships movement? Not even with me?

Can anyone help me with this? Is the DoD or SURFOR or the skipper of the Reagan concerned about my posts? does that mean I hit a nerve, or what is going on? should I make tea and cookies, expecting someone from naval intelligence? They do have such nice uniforms. But all I know is what I read in the papers and what comes through the tubes…you know, the internets… so you’re welcome to the cookies, but don’t expect to find anything other than what I wrote.

Y’all come back and see me……you guys on the Reagan, you be careful out there and come home safe. We love ya. I see that you arrived in Sasebo, for five days, but it didn’t say where yer off to next….??? or shouldn’t I ask? oh, could you pick me up a Persian nice rug?

UPDATED:  Some courteous readers informed us that the site in question is one set up for spouses of the sailors on the USS RR. Tip of the hat and best wishes to all you folks.  I hope this crisis passes soon.



Filed under Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Politics

?New US-planted stories of supposed international cooperation against Iran

In the absence of any actual coalition against Iran, the Bush administration is making one up. In this hamhanded, clearly-planted story picked up by Israeli media from an Arab language newspaper in Kuwait, we learn the identities of this coalition of the anonymous:

on Sunday the Kuwaiti daily al-Siyassah reported that the Gulf states of Oman and the UAE would allow Israel to use their airspace should the Jewish state decide to launch preemptive strikes against Iran. The report quoted European and Arab diplomats.

The newspaper also quoted a Pentagon official said saying that Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan would assist Israeli raids on Iran.


Best case, this is Dick Cheney’s idea of diplomacy. Ratchet up the tensions higher and higher with disinformation, use the willing media, and see what happens. The problem obviously is that threats eventually take on a life of their own: people in Iran, the US and abroad start to realize that Bush and Cheney could actually do this, and begin to take appropriate measures. The more real it is made to appear, the more real it becomes. And Bush and Cheney begin to believe that they could actually do it, particularly when and if their bluff is called.

Worst case, obviously, is that Bush and Cheney are indeed planning on doing exactly what these leaks and planted stories suggest.

Either way, we have no way of stopping the conduct of these two power-drunk maniacs.

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Filed under Bill Kristol: is he smarter than you?, Condoleezza Rice: tell me again, what is her job?, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Politics

UPDATED. Israel: what else can we get Bush to give us? more billions?


US and Israeli officials opened talks Thursday on a new multi-year plan for US aid to the Jewish state, which could seek additional funds to meet evolving threats from Iran, Syria and Islamic militants.

The negotiations, announced jointly by the US State Department and Israel’s embassy, aim to replace a 10-year US aid program that runs out in 2008 and saw Israel maintain its position as the biggest recipient of US assistance.

Under that plan, military aid to Israel rose from 1.8 billion dollars to 2.4 billion dollars per year, while civilian aid, which totaled 1.2 billion dollars in 1998, was phased out.


In recent weeks there has been lively discussion in Jerusalem surrounding the question of where these special relations are headed, and whether it is a good idea to ask Bush for a farewell gift. Some believe that since Bush is the best thing to ever happen to Israel, it is important to exploit the remainder of his term to upgrade relations.

But what should be upgraded, and how, is up for debate. Yoram Ben-Zeev, the deputy director for North America at the Foreign Ministry, has led a series of discussions on the creation of a new umbrella agreement that would combine all the memoranda of understanding between the United States and Israel, give them new validity and highlight the special nature of the relations.Former Foreign Ministry director general Ron Prosor offered a different approach. Instead of formulating a large agreement, it would be better if Bush gave a quiet order to the bureaucracy in Washington to support Israel on a number of sensitive issues. Prosor’s approach is that at a time when U.S. opposition to military involvement in the Middle East is surging, Israel can show some consideration. Instead of asking for defense treaties, it should simply say: “Give us the tools and we’ll do the work.”

There are three Israeli upgrade requests in the pipeline, one of which concerns civilian cooperation in the nuclear file – now limited because of Israel’s refusal to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The exemption India received from these restrictions has encouraged the Israel Atomic Energy Commission to try to obtain similar easements, even if they are limited. Other requests concerned access to advanced military technology for quality intelligence – a hint at a possible conflict with Iran.

Senior officials in the defense establishment believe that Israel should strive for the achievement of an increase in American military aid. The current agreement that defines American aid to Israel will expire next year, and with it the civilian economic aid will end as well. Israel wants another $50 million annually in the coming decade to be added to the sum it receives for military aid – which currently stands at $2.4 billion a year. The government has accepted this position and has decided that the increase in aid should be the main focus, that it would be better to put the other upgrade requests on a back burner for now.

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Filed under Bill Kristol: is he smarter than you?, Condoleezza Rice: tell me again, what is her job?, Countdown to attack on Iran, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Politics

Countdown to US attack on Iran: X minus 34 days: the world hopes for a military coup in the US

Several news items became available last night which indicate that the world is in a bit of a panic about Bush and Cheney’s plan to attack Iran; I have posted them here, here, and here. The world should be concerned, because Bush and Cheney are beyond the control of the United States of America. It is truly frightening to consider that the best hope we have at this moment is that the US military will act unanimously to stop the president; that is a military coup, no matter what frosting you slather on it.

Renaud Giraud writes a rather pointless piece entitled “The US Cannot Launch a Military Offensive Against Iran Today.” In fact, he makes it very clear that the US can, in fact, do exactly that. Here are the reasons given by Girard, none of which would seem to have any impact whatsoever on Bush and Cheney, the only two people in the world who matter.

–America does not know the exact location of all the Iranian uranium-enrichment installations. COMMENT: this doesn’t keep Bush from attacking the sites he DOES know about. Giraud assumes the assault has a real purpose. It doesn’t. It’s to show the world that America isn’t weak. How pathetic is that?

–Iran’s withdrawal from adhesion to the NPT ([Nuclear] Non-Proliferation Treaty) and the dismissal of all IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency, based in Vienna) inspectors…COMMENT: remember Iraq? nuff said.

–American strategists must wonder about the following stage…COMMENT: see above; remember Iraq? does Bush care about what comes afterward?

–There is no chance that the UN Security Council today would give such military initiatives its endorsement. COMMENT: see above again; remember Iraq?

–In the United States itself, the idea of a new Bush administration rape of the UN Security Council would be very poorly received. UN founder in 1945, America for the most part still believes in the advantage of keeping the present system of international law intact. COMMENT: Bush, for his own protection, has disavowed or withdrawn the US from the system of international justice; and at any rate, Giraud is here talking about some sort of post hoc disapproval.

With all due respect to Renaud Girard, his article does not raise a single point that tells us why Bush and Cheney can’t attack Iran; rather, in effect, Giraud tells us why they can. The several articles linked above affirm that.

By upbringing, by the way he obtained the presidency and by his experience the last 6 years, George W. Bush is the ultimately spoiled child, who has no idea of consequences for bad behavior. He is totally irrational, and has indicated that he “goes with his gut” and that “God” tells him what to do.

Dick Cheney is a supremely arrogant individual who feels he is smarter and ‘tougher” than even our founding fathers, let alone anyone alive today. He was given the responsibility of choosing someone to run as Vice President with Bush, and decided that he himself was the best candidate. He has carved out some sort of bizarre new office of the Vice-President, responsible to no one. He is totally dismissive of the Congress, the judiciary, and in fact everyone except his sycophants. He and his office have been responsible for the most radical dismantling of the American form of government and individual rights of any man in history. Further, they have systematically abrogated or withdrawn the US from international treaties and courts that might restrain their actions or hold them responsible for misdeeds.

Neither has any combat experience; Bush was handed a guaranteed no combat position in the Texas Air National Guard through family influence, and was likewise able to walk away from it when he found it convenient. Cheney managed multiple deferment. Neither man seems to have any concern for well being of soldiers who go into battle, the civilians who suffer in war, or about world or domestic opinion. They in fact take pride in their insensitivity. Neither seems to have a realistic sense of history or their place in it, nor any ability to anticipate the likely consequences of their actions.

They are out of control; and the first step to doing something about it, IS TO REALIZE IT.

Previous countdown posts:

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Filed under Bill Kristol: is he smarter than you?, Countdown to attack on Iran, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iran

Surging backwards: US resumes aerial bombing of Baghdad

(h/t Juan Cole)

Baghdad – US forces launched air strikes in southeast Baghdad on Saturday, Iraqi officials said, as a series of massive explosions rocked the war-torn city.

“American aircraft are bombarding terrorist targets that have been chosen by US and Iraqi forces, as part of our Baghdad security plan,” said Brigadier-General Qasim al-Mussawi, spokesperson for the operation.

There was no immediate comment from the US, but AFP reporters in downtown Baghdad heard the rumble of more than three dozen powerful blasts in rapid succession at around 22:00pm (19:00 GMT).

Shortly after the first blasts, electricity was cut in part of central Baghdad, but it was not clear if these events were linked.

A senior Iraqi interior ministry official told AFP that the air strikes were aimed at insurgent strongholds in Bo’aitha, a sparsely populated neighbourhood on the west bank of the Tigris, south of the city centre.

While lying within the city limits, Bo’aitha is a district of farms and smallholdings, whose scattered villages are known to house the hideouts of Sunni insurgent gangs linked to al-Qaeda.

Iraqi officials said that the bombardment would run hand-in-hand with sweeps on the ground by US and Iraqi ground forces.

Besides the fact that this may be a war crime, isn’t it reminiscent of “we had to destroy the village in order to save it?”


Filed under Bill Kristol: is he smarter than you?, Condoleezza Rice: tell me again, what is her job?, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, John McCain for president of Del Boca Vista, Middle East, Politics

Movie review: An Inconvenient Truth

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Well, you people who haven’t seen this are just missing something pretty freakin cool. And the Oscars are tomorrow night; if you haven’t seen it, you’re gonna feel pretty stupid at the office on Monday. So for chrissakes, cough up the 5 bucks on pay per view on demand or whatever you have and SEE THIS MOVIE.

In the first place, you will learn a lot about Al Gore the man. A lot. Is he smart? you bet. does he mind showing it? no. Is that so bad? No. Did losing the presidency bother him? of course. Has he done something very important anyway? Way important. And that’s just a part of it….you have to see it.

On to global warming. Very effective presentation, in the form of a sort of college lecture, with good graphics. Makes it look pretty simple and pretty obvious. Then he tears apart the critics. Demolishes them. You have to see it. I won’t give it away.

His challenge to America is terrific. When you think of George Bush in comparison, it is enough to make you laugh or cry.

The film is beautifully written and shot. The editing is good. It has a bit more about Gore than I would have done, but that’s okay.

It’s only an hour or so. I give it an A.

You really, REALLY have to see this. If you really, REALLY can’t find it, there are some pirated clips at YouTube here and here. But you should be ashamed.

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Filed under George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, global warming/environment, Politics

US intel on Iran nuclear program inaccurate, says IAEA

from the LA Times:

Despite growing international concern about Iran’s nuclear program and its regional ambitions, most U.S. intelligence shared with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency has proved inaccurate and none has led to significant discoveries inside Iran, diplomats here said.

The officials said the CIA and other Western spy services have provided sensitive information to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency at least since 2002, when Iran’s long-secret nuclear program was exposed. But none of the tips about supposed secret weapons sites provided clear evidence that the Islamic Republic is developing illicit weapons.

“Since 2002, pretty much all the intelligence that’s come to us has proved to be wrong,” said a senior diplomat at the IAEA. Another official here described the agency’s intelligence stream as “very cold now (because) so little panned out.”

The reliability of U.S. information and assessments on Iran is increasingly at issue as the Bush administration confronts the emerging regional power on multiple fronts: its expanding nuclear effort, its alleged support for insurgents inside Iraq and its backing of Middle East militant groups.

The CIA still faces harsh criticism for its pre-war intelligence errors on Iraq. No one here argues that U.S. intelligence officials have fallen this time for crudely forged documents or pushed shoddy analysis. IAEA officials, who openly challenged U.S. assessments that Saddam Hussein was developing a nuclear bomb, say the Americans are much more cautious in assessing Iran.

American officials privately acknowledge that much of their evidence on Iran’s nuclear plans and programs remains ambiguous, fragmented and difficult to prove.

The IAEA has its own concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, although agency officials concede they have found no proof that nuclear material has been diverted.

Iran’s radical regime began enriching uranium in small amounts last August in a program it insists will provide fuel only for civilian power stations, not nuclear weapons.

On Thursday, the IAEA released a report declaring that Iran had expanded uranium enrichment and defied a Security Council deadline to suspend nuclear activities. In the meantime, the agency is locked in a dispute with Tehran, the Iranian capital, over additional information and access to determine if the program is peaceful.

In November 2005, U.N. inspectors leafing through a box of papers in Tehran discovered a 15-page document that showed how to form highly enriched uranium into the configuration needed for the core of a nuclear bomb. Iran said the paper came from Pakistan, but has rebuffed IAEA requests to let inspectors take or copy it for further analysis.

Diplomats here were less convinced by documents recovered by U.S. intelligence from a laptop computer apparently stolen from Iran. American analysts first briefed senior IAEA officials on the contents of the hard drive at the U.S. mission here in mid-2005.

The documents included detailed designs to upgrade ballistic missiles to carry nuclear warheads, drawings for subterranean testing of high explosives, and two pages describing research into uranium tetrafluoride, known as “green salt,” which is used during uranium enrichment. IAEA officials remain suspicious of the information in part because most of the papers are in English rather than Farsi, the Iranian language.

Iran’s representative to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, dismissed the laptop documents as “fabricated information.” Iran, he said, has produced 170 tons of “green salt” at a uranium conversion facility in Esfahan that is monitored by the IAEA.

“We are not hiding it,” he said in an interview. “We make tons of it. These documents are all nonsense.”

The U.S. government is not required to share intelligence with the IAEA, and relations between Washington, D.C., and the U.N. agency are at times testy. In March 2003, ElBaradei embarrassed the White House when he told the Security Council that documents indicating that Saddam’s regime in Iraq had sought to purchase uranium in Niger were forged. The Bush administration subsequently opposed ElBaradei’s re-appointment as IAEA chief.


Filed under Bill Kristol: is he smarter than you?, Condoleezza Rice: tell me again, what is her job?, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Politics