I mentioned yesterday that I noticed a bunch of military helicopters flying over downtown Denver on Monday night, and wondered what the heck was going on. Turns out I wasn’t alone. The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News report that the city police department received numerous calls from members of the public concerned about the aerial activity. Not to worry, folks were told: this was simply “routine” training related to the war on terror, not a response to, or preparation for, any particular threat or crisis.
Here’s some video of the choppers doing their thing:
More detail from the Rocky Mountain News:
The exercise by special ops troops, supported by Denver police SWAT teams and firefighters, is intended to prepare for any terrorism threat in a “realistic urban environment,” said Lt. Steve Ruh, a spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. …
“It’s all in preparation for anything that could possibly happen with the global war on terrorism,” said Ruh, whose command coordinates all the military branches’ crack commando units - from Army Rangers to Navy SEALS.
The Special Operations Command calls itself the “Tip of the Spear” against the nation’s gravest threats.
Ruh noted that the exercises are conducted in major cities in the U.S., usually at the invitation of the cities, but that doesn’t mean those cities are necessarily possible targets for terrorism.
There was apparently conflicting information at first about whether the location of the training is related to the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August, but the official line appears to be that it is not. Meanwhile, there was some controversy about whether the proper notifications were made:
“The federal agencies sponsoring the ongoing multi-agency training in Denver agreed to make the proper notifications regarding the exercises to prevent surprise and inconvenience to Denver residents,” [Mayor John] Hickenlooper wrote. “There seems to have been a misunderstanding about the reach and scope of these notifications, and they did not occur in the manner expected by the City.
“Although these exercises are in no way connected to the upcoming Democratic National Convention, Denver officials were well aware that there would be heightened sensitivity to an exercise such as this because of its proximity to the Convention,” the mayor continued. “Denver recognizes that these are our federal partners, and we are fortunate that they have chosen Denver for their training exercises. Should there ever be an emergency here that would require federal assistance, they will be familiar with our City and how best to navigate it.” …
“Advance notice was given to the (Denver) civil authorities. We were here as guests,” Ruh said. “It would be up to (local authorities) to send it out.”
[Denver police Lt. Ron] Saunier said that Defense Department officials asked police to “respond to inquiry only.” So he provided a “very generic statement” Monday to police dispatchers in case the public called.
But the official statements were not enough to satisfy some commenters on the Rocky Mountain News website, where the phrase “martial law” appears repeatedly. For example:
This is done to make citizens accustomed to military hardware, and martial law easier to accept. Don’t accept it, Posse Commititus puts citizen protection under police authority. Blending police and military is what tin pot dictators do to control their population. …
just wait until the convention starts, the military, and the local police will be trying out all kinds of toys on the protestors. personally, I cant wait to watch it all unfold on CNN. …
The military is for wars, domestic protection is up to the police. Bringing the military onto our soil to do the cops’ job is martial law, AKA lost liberty …
This is just great…we now accept the military in our cities…the more we accept this the easier it will be for our government to imprison anyone it deems a “terrorist.” We need to fight back NOW …
[T]he Constitution deems a standing military a threat to freedom…what we need in this country is a militia and for everyone to own a gun…I dont need protection from the big bad terrorists and I don’t need blackhawk helicopters flying over our cities…let everyone in this country own a gun with absolutely no restrictions and then we don’t need any protection from anybody …
[T]he first Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed in September 2001 declaring the War on Terror as a war on American soil, the PATRIOT ACT, The Military Authorizations Act, all written to erode our Bill of Rights. These all pave the road to Martial law and suspension of our government. We stand today one national emergency from this possibility. Why do we accept this? …
The oath of the military is to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I just hope impending martial law triggers memory of this oath among the current servicemen. I love my country and our constitution, loyal to that document and the people, I work to better it by denouncing the current direction we are headed. …
Are you ready for martial law? … We are opening a Pandora’s box here. It’s fun to play with the hardware…but actually using it domestically is another thing…
We are prepping you for MARTIAL LAW. What are you doing reading anyways, you should be watching the sports games like all the other mindless sheeple who have given up their liberty and freedom for a FALSE Security and who revel in being lied to. Franklin said that YOU deserve neither. So go and vote, doesnt matter to us in the CFR and bildaberg group who OWN both political parties! None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. Go back to sleep sheeple and dont google CFR or Bildaberg group, its better not to know who controls/owns you! If a nation expects to be ignorant and free it expects what never was and never will be!
Et cetera, et cetera.
(Hat tip: Marty.)
Sorry for the lack of posts the last couple of days. I haven’t moved up the date of my blog retirement, I promise. :) I’ve just been super-busy in Denver. And speaking of Denver, here’s a cool photo of the D&F clock tower and the Moon last night:
During a previous trip to Denver, it became something of a running joke among Becky, the SHA girls and myself that I was constantly taking pictures of the clock tower. But I think that one’s actually pretty neat!
The Moon and clouds weren’t the only things in the sky over Denver last night. All evening long, a pair of military helicopters was circling over downtown. They were making a lot of noise, but at some points their lights appeared to be off, as if they were operating in some sort of (admittedly rather ineffective) stealth mode. I have no idea what that was all about ("we’re being invaded by Utah," I hypothesized at one point), but it was a little creepy.
Oh, and speaking of, uh, security and stuff: I’m now at the airport waiting for my flight back to Phoenix. This will be my third of four flights in less than a week (Nashville to Phoenix, Phoenix to Denver, Denver to Phoenix, Phoenix to Nashville). So I’ve been spending a lot of time in airports, and I have a question. It’s now been almost two years since the implementation of the "new" security measures involving liquids and gels. Yet all the signs and announcements still talk about these as temporary steps, due to "increased" security. At what point will we end this charade, and acknowledge that these measures are here to stay permanently, or at least indefinitely?
So it turns out, despite what the Bush administration and their supporters would have you believe, that many of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay had little or no ties to terrorism. In fact, some were working FOR the U.S. Certainly makes me feel safer knowing the government is locking up our allies for years without a chance to defend themselves.
In dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House, the most
senior Bush administration officials discussed and approved specific
details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by
the Central Intelligence Agency, sources tell ABC News. …
The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation
techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the
interrogation sessions were almost choreographed — down to the number
of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic. …
At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney,
former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA
Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.
As the national security adviser, Rice chaired the meetings,
which took place in the White House Situation Room and were typically
attended by most of the principals or their deputies. …
[After the leak of the 2002 "torture memo,"] CIA officials … returned to the Principals Committee for
approval to continue using certain "enhanced interrogation techniques."
Then-National Security Advisor Rice, sources said, was
decisive. Despite growing policy concerns — shared by Powell — that
the program was harming the image of the United States abroad, sources
say she did not back down, telling the CIA: "This is your baby. Go do
Of course, the officials involved would dispute my headline, as they regard these "enhanced interrogation techniques" as "not torture." Duly noted.
A small improvised explosive device exploded in Times Square this morning, blowing a hole through the door of the Army recruiting station there, but causing no injuries, thank goodness. Excerpt:
Members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the large Police
Department and F.B.I. unit that investigates terrorism, were at the
scene of the blast, supporting the Police DepartmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Bomb Squad,
which along with other police detectives likely will take the lead role
in investigating the incident, an F.B.I. official said. The official
said that in todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s attack, a man in a gray hooded sweatshirt was seen
leaving the scene on a bicycle.
The authorities were looking into whether the explosion was
connected to two earlier blasts that were similar in method and timing,
the official said. At about 3:40 a.m. on Oct. 26, 2007, two dummy hand
grenades that had been fashioned into crude bombs exploded
outside the Mexican Consulate at 27 East 39th Street in Murray Hill,
shattering windows. The building was not occupied and no one was hurt.
At 3:55 a.m. on May 5, 2005, two crude but powerful explosive devices detonated outside the British Consulate at 845 Third Avenue in East Midtown, shattering windows and damaging a planter.
Confederate Yankee has pictures, and says, "This was an act of domestic terrorism." He adds:
I do not, however, feel comfortable blaming any specific anti-war
group for this act, or even pinning this as an anti-war act at this
point in time.
Anti-war groups, in general, are non-violent in nature, and those
that lean towards the anarchist fringe that are violence prone tend
towards vandalism, and generally, don’t have the technical expertise to
manufacture even such a simple device.
Whoever built this bomb may have sympathies towards the anti-war
movement and/or anti-military feelings, but I would be surprised to
find them affiliated officially with any specific anti-war or
anti-military group, and would be even more surprised if anyone inside
one of these groups had advance knowledge of the attack.
(Hat tip: InstaPundit.)
The eco-terrorist whack-jobs of the Earth Liberation Front are the likely culprits behind an arson attack which burned down three homes and damaged a fourth in a suburb of Seattle earlier this morning. Whoever set the fires left behind graffiti with the initials ELF which slammed the houses, built as part of the Street of Dreams last year. The multi-million dollar homes were certified green homes, one of them achieving the highest possible rating. All the homes included recycled materials in their construction, water conservation, and other green techniques. Fortunately none of the homes were as yet occupied and no one was harmed.
The eco-morons from the ELF have been responsible for other such attacks in the Pacific Northwest, including setting fire to a horticulture lab at the University of Washington in 2001.
No CNN Breaking News alert for this?
Police in Las Vegas, Nevada, are investigating the discovery of what they said is the deadly poison ricin in a hotel room.
Preliminary tests show the substance is ricin, authorities said, but other tests to confirm it are under way. …
Authorities were called to an Extended Stay America hotel around 3
p.m. PT Thursday after a man brought a bag with a small container to
the manager’s office. The man said he found it while retrieving items
from a hotel room.
The substance is "100 percent ricin," [police captain Joe] Lombardo said.
The FBI says it sees no link to terrorism. I love how they always say that, even before anyone has any idea what’s going on. "We don’t know who did this, or why, in fact we have no clue what’s going on, but we see no link to terrorism." Not that I’m suggesting it is linked to terrorism, I just think sometimes the denials are premature. (Then again, it doesn’t help that the media asks the question about everything. "Excuse me, Mr. FBI Spokesman? Joan Smith’s house in Paducah, Kentucky just burned down. Do you suspect a link to terrorism?")
Ex-Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has died, according to media reports.
UPDATE BY BRENDAN: To be more specific, she was assassinated by terrorists in a suicide bombing that also killed at least 20 others.
UPDATE 3: Andrew Sullivan:
It seems to me to be hard to understand the implications of the Bhutto assassination until we know who actually murdered her. Al Qaeda is taking responsibility and they have every reason to hate her, but a little skepticism is always in order, when it comes to their pronouncements. The assassin was a suicide bomber, but he shot her first, and shot her in the neck. If you were part of the military or ISI, it would be in your interest to shoot Bhutto to ensure she was killed and then blow yourself up both to associate the murder with Jihadists outside the military and to destroy the evidence.
Until we know more, it seems to me that al Qaeda’s responsibility is actually the more optimistic scenario. If Islamists within the military or ISI did this, then we have the possibility that this is the beginning of something more ominous than the surface event. The collapse of Pakistan into a Jihadist nuclear power is the great nightmare. Here’s hoping that however grim this news, the worst isn’t yet to come.
The latest uncorroborated, non-imminent, possibly unreliable, probably-a-load-of-crap-but-they-gotta-cover-their-asses-and-warn-us terrorist threat is a possible al Qaeda plot against shopping malls in L.A. and Chicago during the holiday season. Err, Christmas season. (Because if we call it the “holiday season,” the terrorists have already won. Right, Bill O’Reilly?)
Glenn Reynolds suspects a conspiracy by Amazon.com stock-pumpers who want Americans to cower fearfully at home… and shop online. Heh.
Drudge has a siren up declaring: "SCARE AT LARGEST U.S. NUKE PLANT." He elaborates: "Security at the Palo Verde Nuclear power plant 50 miles west of Phoenix, Arizona stopped a worker from driving onto the grounds with a small explosive device, according to officials… Developing…"
Becky and I have driven past that nuke plant (it’s a bit south of I-10 heading west to L.A.) many times, and when we lived in the Phoenix area, we were acutely aware of its presence off to our west. I won’t say we lost sleep over it, but it was one reason (among many) that we were glad to be in the East Valley. :)
Anyway, I don’t know if this will turn out to be anything real, or just a false alarm of some kind, but it certainly startled me.
UPDATE: What Drudge calls a "small explosive device," KPHO calls "a small capped pipe that contained suspicious residue." The latter is much more susceptible to an innocent explanation. I’m guessing false alarm.
UPDATE 2: On the other hand, the Arizona Republic says "a suspicious item seized Friday morning from the truck of a contract
worker at Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station turned out to be an
apparent pipe bomb, plant operator Arizona Public Service Co. said." Note the use of the word "apparent." Still, maybe not a false alarm, then. Though I wonder what size pipe bomb. Drudge says it was "small." Could a small pipe bomb blow up a nuclear plant, or cause any sort of serious damage?
FEMA: the federal agency so ridicluous, you can’t really satirize it. Their latest stunt? A fake news conference:
The U.S. government’s main disaster-response agency apologized on Friday for having its employees pose as reporters in a hastily called news conference on California’s wildfires that no news organizations attended.
FEMA “issued the apology after The Washington Post published details of the Tuesday briefing.” Shocking! Somebody noticed! Who’d have thunk it? Jeez, these people can’t even be incompetent competently.
“We can and must do better, and apologize for this error in judgment,” FEMA deputy administrator Harvey Johnson, who conducted the briefing, said in a statement. “Our intent was to provide useful information and be responsive to the many questions we have received.”
“Error in judgment”? LOL! In what conceivable universe could anyone have thought that this was the correct judgment, so as to make such an “error” possible?
No actual reporter attended the news conference in person, agency spokesman Aaron Walker said.
A spokeswoman for Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who has authority over FEMA, called the incident “inexcusable and offensive to the secretary.”
“We have made it clear that stunts such as this will not be tolerated or repeated,” spokeswoman Laura Keehner said. She said the department was looking at the possibility of reprimanding those responsible.
Oh, that’s good. Better yet, why don’t you set up a committee to study the issue of whether a reprimand would be appropriate. And then create a panel to read that committee’s report. And then ignore it and give the offending parties the Congressional Medal of Freedom instead.
God bless America.
A bomb attack in Pakistan aimed at former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, hated by Islamists because she supports the war on terror, failed to injure Bhutto but killed at least 108 others tonight.
(This post will stay on top all day; new posts will appear below.)
So says ABC News and the AP: “Terror mastermind Osama bin Laden plans a new video addressing the American people regarding the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, terror monitoring groups said Thursday.”
Also, it seems that Bin Laden has dyed his beard.
Numerous overlapping investigations :> are being (you should pardon the expression) Launched concerning exactly how it came to pass that (emphases mine; internal links the WashPost’s) ~
An Air Force B-52 bomber flew across the central United States last week with six cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads that were mistakenly attached to the airplane’s wing…
The Stratofortress bomber, based at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, was transporting a dozen Advanced Cruise Missiles to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana on Aug. 30. But crews inadvertently loaded half of them with nuclear warheads attached.
Air Force officials said the warheads were not activated and at no time posed a threat to the public. But a timeline of the episode supplied by the Air Force yesterday to House and Senate lawmakers indicated that the missiles in question sat on a runway in Louisiana for nearly 10 hours before workers noticed that the nuclear warheads were inside.
Military officials also said they were concerned that the warheads were unaccounted for several hours while the missiles were in transit. The missiles never left Air Force control, they said.
Well, it’s reassuring to learn that the Boomers weren’t actually "activated" (though I think we might Know it if they Were ~ well, Some of us might, anyway…) and that their Control wasn’t inadvertently transferred to the Shriners or somebody. :| But to resume:
Two defense officials said it is unclear how stringent safeguards for the handling of nuclear weapons were skirted…Air Force officials said the mistake was a serious breach of rules and that an investigation began immediately.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the panel’s ranking Republican…requested an investigation of the incident by the Pentagon’s inspector general.
The aircraft’s pilots and other crew members were unaware that they were carrying nuclear warheads, officials said. "Essentially, this is an issue of a departure from our very exacting standards," said Lt. Col. Edward Thomas, an Air Force spokesman at the Pentagon, who declined to confirm that nuclear warheads were involved. "The Air Force maintains the highest standards of safety and precision, so any deviation from these well-established munitions procedures is very serious, and we are responding swiftly."
(Continues after the
Drop Jump :)