U.S. Military Espionage – Directive for Global Operation

May 30, 2010

By Padmini Arhant

According to the latest news reports obtained from the defense officials and military documents, an extensive clandestine military operation is ordered by the Middle East top U.S. commander to intercept militant groups or threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other African countries.

Courtesy – The New York Times report, May 25, 2010 – By Mark Mazzetti titled:

“U.S. Oks secret war on terror by military – Iran among likely targets of special operations order”

Washington -“The secret directive, signed in September by Gen.David Petraeus authorizes the sending of U.S. special operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces.

Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate.

While the Bush administration had approved some clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, the new order is intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term, officials said.

Its goals are to build networks that could “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” al-Qaida and other militant groups, as well as to “prepare the environment” for future attacks by U.S. or local military forces, the document said. The order, however, does not appear to authorize offensive strikes in any specific countries..

In broadening its secret activities, the U.S. military also has sought in recent years to break its dependence on the CIA and other spy agencies for information in countries without a significant U.S. troop presence.

Petraeus’ order is meant for use of small teams of U.S. troops to fill intelligence gaps about terror organizations and other threats in the Middle East and beyond, especially emerging groups plotting attacks against the United States.

But some Pentagon officials worry that the expanded role carries risks.

The authorized activities could strain relationships with friendly governments like Saudi Arabia or Yemen, or incite the anger of hostile countries like Iran and Syria.

Many in the military also are concerned that as U.S. troops assume roles far from traditional combat, they would be at risk of being treated as spies if captured and denied the Geneva Convention protections afforded military detainees.

The precise operations that the directive authorizes are unclear, and what the military has done to follow through on the order is uncertain.

The document, a copy of which was viewed by The New York Times, provides few details about continuing missions or intelligence-gathering operations.

Several government officials who described the impetus for the order would speak only on condition of anonymity because the document is classified.

Spokesmen for the White House and Pentagon declined to comment.

The Times, responding to concerns about troop safety raised by an official at U.S. Central Command, the military headquarters run by Petraeus, withheld some details about how troops could be deployed in certain countries.

The seven-page directive appears to authorize specific operations in Iran, most likely to gather intelligence about the country’s nuclear program or identify dissident groups that might be useful for a future military offensive.

The Obama administration insists that, for the moment, it is committed to penalizing Iran for its nuclear activities only with diplomatic and economic sanctions.

Nevertheless, the Pentagon has to draw up detailed war plans to be prepared in advance, in the event that, Obama authorized a strike.

“The Defense Department can’t be caught flat-footed,” said one Pentagon official with knowledge of Petraeus’ order.

The directive, the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order, signed Sept. 30, also may have helped lay a foundation for the surge of U.S. military activity in Yemen that began three months later.

Special operations troops began working with Yemen’s military to try to dismantle al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, an affiliate of Osama bin Laden’s terror network based in Yemen.

The Pentagon has carried out missile strikes from Navy ships into suspected militant hideouts and plans to spend more than $155 million equipping Yemeni troops with armored vehicles, helicopters and small arms.

Officials said that many top commanders, Petraeus among them, have advocated an expansive interpretation of the military’s role around the world, arguing that troops need to operate beyond Iraq and Afghanistan to better fight militant groups.”

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant

Save the Nations’ Newspapers – OP-ED

April 9, 2009

Like everything else in this economy, the newspaper industry is on the brink of demise. The reasons according to the publishers are the competition from various sources ranging from the Information Superhighway to electronic gizmos producing data with the touch of a button.

The survival of the newspaper industry is paramount in a democracy. It is appropriate to pledge unequivocal support to print press as someone having grown up knowing the world events and current affairs through newspapers. Personally, the newspaper was a window to the outside world and enabled a better understanding of issues unfolding at home and elsewhere. The newspapers offer knowledge, awareness and critical thinking on different topics.

One might argue why subscribe to a newspaper when the same information is accessible on-line free of charge? Although, it is a valid argument, it still does not match the convenience of a newspaper in hand while traveling or commuting to work on public transport and reading in a relaxed manner at home without Google search and browsing Yahoo/AOL articles. Further, the conventional source relieves common stress caused by prolonged use of computers. It is a healthy diversion in a manner books remain popular over audio and video versions.

Some national as well as local newspapers’ editorials, columns and articles are praiseworthy on many issues concerning life. The investigative and independent journalists deserve special recognition for their contribution to humanity due to risks involved in the exposure of subjects that may or may not be challenged in legal terms and otherwise. Similarly, there are reporters providing vital information from war zones and remote corners of the world by endangering their lives. These veteran newsmakers cannot be isolated in this context.

However, it is essential to bring certain issues to the publishers’ attention that could rescue the dying industry. The lack of objectivity in few columns and news articles is one of them. In an era of idolization of political figures, some journalists traveling with public entities tend to edge over the professional ethics and present conflicting content of the same article from other mass media such as television particularly cable news network, international channels and the potent internet. Unfortunately, the authors of such articles fail to recognize the fact that any information from them is verifiable through other sources for authenticity and to an extent affect their credibility if proven false. When they represent a reputable news organization, the conspicuous flaw reveals the devil in the detail magnified on comparison with live images on-line and television. The general public prefer facts not fiction in a newspaper article related to public figures , government affairs and corporate activities.

Another factor behind the decline of the newspaper industry is the ideology driven concept not barring political affiliations and the pandering to the authorities in government and business rather than a neutral position in the presentation of facts to confirm fair and balanced reporting. The educated and technologically savvy mass justifiably turned off by the extreme views and polarization in the newspaper industry. If the internet sources blamed as the major threat to the print press, perhaps it is time for newspaper publishers to exercise the freedom of press and responsible journalism like their on-line competitors and dedicate service to people more than any others in a democracy.

Whenever the press and television newsmedia regardless of the status as mainstream or not assumes the role of personal talking points to the authorities in power, democracy is in jeopardy forcing majority population to seek alternative sources for reliable information. It defeats the purpose of free press in a democracy that prioritizes politics over people, when the primary focus should be accuracy, transparency and accountabilty in public matter.

As stated earlier in numerous blogposts on this website www.padminiarhant.com industries and government ultimately depend on the main street, as they are the consumers and voters with real power in a functioning democracy.

On that note, a sincere request to all citizens across the nation to salvage the local and favorite newspaper through subscription since the survival of newspaper industry means restoration of voice in a democracy.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant