Monday, January 28, 2008

Words to get fired over

FLASH FLASH FLASH: The Pentagon puff piece linked to below has been removed from (thanks for the heads-up Mike) .....but that is ok: that is what googlecache is for. You can find it here. I'll leave the broken link where it is as it makes some very nice "Indications and Warnings" that more is to follow. Check the bottom for a regular update.//



Let's step back again to take a look at the Steve Coughlin (see earlier this month here and here) kerfuffle.

Though good 'ole Steve isn't allowed to talk to anyone about what is going on it seems, we should let his thoughts speak for him. To get an idea what Mr. Islam may have "issues" with, you can read Coughlin's thesis "To Our Great Detriment": Ignoring What Extremists Say About Islam for yourself (I am).

That was going to be the extent of my post until a little birdie sent my way over the weekend an article that makes things much more interesting. Claudia Rosett at National Review Online has been digging....and digging...and the smell gets worse with every shovel full.

One of the major players in all this has been the retired USN CDR now adviser to Gordon England, Mr. Islam. You can read a nice little official Pentagon puff piece on him here (will be ref'd later), from that profile is his pic, above right.

First a double personal caveat. I won't go into specifics, though it is easy to find out, Mr. Islam did serve this nation for 20 years, and his service is being carried on by his children. BZ to both and any opinion you may have now or will have in the future should have zero reflection on his family. Also, I did not start out by going after Mr. Islam - but the investigation by Claudia deserves to be looked at - and if nothing else proves the old story about not throwing rocks in poorly designed houses.
...(the) Pentagon-endorsed profile raises more questions than it answers. ... As told by Islam to the reporter, “The movie would open with Islam as a young boy growing up in Cairo, Egypt, huddling in terror as Israeli bombs came raining down, demolishing much of the building around him and his family.”

There’s one problem with this scene. As far as I have been able to discover, Israel during Hesham Islam’s entire lifetime has never bombed Cairo.
Uh oh.
The profile continues: “Next would be the scene of the teenager who moves to Iraq when his Egyptian naval officer father is transferred to help establish the Arabian Gulf naval academy Islam would later attend.”

That family move to Iraq came as Saddam Hussein was consolidating his Baathist rule, though neither the Pentagon profile nor Hesham Islam’s Pentagon biography any makes mention of that context. In answer to questions, the Pentagon spokesman says Islam’s father was invited to Iraq by Saddam Hussein, but the spokesman doesn’t know when: “It was in 1971-1973 time frame.” Surely with Pentagon background checks, more exact information would be easily available? “It’s available,” says the spokesman, but “I don’t have his C.V. kind of thing.”

The profile goes on to describe young Hesham Islam as a “merchant mariner adrift for three days in the Arabian Sea after an Iranian torpedo sunk his 16,000-ton cargo ship, drowning all but Islam and four of his crewmates.”

That sounds memorable. But after more than a week of my repeated requests made by phone and e-mail, the Pentagon spokesman — despite being presumably in touch with Islam himself — was either unable or unwilling to provide such basic information as the name of the ship, or the date of its sinking. He just kept saying he was “looking into it.” But no answers.
....and the hits keep coming...
Before I began the marathon requests for specific information, the spokesman had speculated earlier, based on conversations with Islam, that the ship might have been called the Ibn Khaldoon, which might have been registered to the Iraqi merchant marine, and might have sunk sometime in 1979. A check with the U.K.-based Lloyd’s Register turns up two cargo ships registered in Iraq during that time and under that name, but no record that either was ever sunk, either in the 1970s, the 1980s, or beyond. One is still in service; the other was broken up — and not by a torpedo — only a few years ago.

As for records of any incident fitting the generic description of a 16,000-ton cargo ship, under any flag, torpedoed by the Iranians and sunk in the Arabian Sea before Islam immigrated to the U.S. sometime in 1980 (the Pentagon spokesman can’t or won’t say exactly when in 1980), after searching news archives, shipping records, and consulting a number of naval historians, I have yet to come across anything that corroborates Islam’s Iranian-torpedo-in-the-Arabian-Sea story. There were ships sunk by the Iranians in 1980, as the Iran-Iraq war broke out — but that was happening in the Gulf, around the Shatt-al-Arab, on the other side of the Straits of Hormuz, hundreds of miles from the Arabian Sea.
Almost too painful to read. Someone find where Mr. Islam can/has/will debunk this article - otherwise, well, it is just sad .... and then raises more questions.

And speaking of Masters Thesis..
So, what qualifies Islam to serve as an adviser to whom Gordon England listens all the time, and whose advice England takes? According to Kevin Wensing, England’s public-affairs aide: “Mr. Islam brings 20 years of experience in the U.S. Navy and international relations to his current assignment.”

This includes an M.A. in national-security affairs, awarded in 1992 at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. For this degree, Islam wrote a 139-page thesis about the Middle East, entitled “Roots of Regional Ambition.” In it, he devoted dozens of pages to lambasting Israel, and the influence of American Jews on U.S. politics. He deplored “Israeli activities which have detrimentally affected U.S. objectives but which have continued with impunity.” He argued that U.S. support for Israel “has negatively affected the attainment of U.S. objectives in the Middle East.” He blamed the influence of American Jews on U.S. policy for a host of ills, ranging from Arab “retaliation” against Americans, to jobs lost overseas, to hampering sales of “defensive arms to friendly Arab states.”
Well, let's get the PDF of the whole thing. Just to get the full context; anyone know if NPS has them available on line anywhere?

Of course, if it is THE JOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSS - then one must wonder a bit.

All that being said, I think one way or another, Mr. Islam has provided a great learning opportunity totally off topic to the Coughlin controversy; be careful where you let people take pictures of you.

Ok folks, click the pic upper-right for a higher resolution (or get it from the profile puff piece) and help me out some. If you used to be Command Security Manager or Information Systems Security Manager - even better - because I want to know where the security classification markings, labels, and serial numbers are on this stack of CDs on his desk. And what is that title on the top? Looks like "Iraq surge ..." something. Anyone good at PhotoShop get a clearer picture of it?

While we are on the subject, he is a man after my heart. He must have been a Staff Weenie at one point; I like his big "Not Policy" on someone else's work.

Another thing, how busy can a man be with this many remote controls on his desk - front and center. What is that, for a TV, DVD/VHS player and stereo? Blue Ray? As a man, I deeply respect what a remote control means, but seriously ... there is work to be done for the taxpayer here. And speaking of security, by Thor's Hammer I know he doesn't work in a SCIF but what is he doing with that (tech geek help me out here, if it ain't and iPhone, I pretend I don't know what it is) BlackBerry/cell phone/PDA thingy next to them? Hasn't he received "the brief" yet? ....and that big-yellow-sticky tickl'n his tummy makes me want to ask; what was on the schedule for "OCT 29?"

So, there you go. Lesson learned here. Be careful what you say about yourself. Be careful what your desk says to the camera. Be careful what fights you pick.

This may get ugly or it may be a great misunderstanding, but one way or another, I hope the frag pattern is small.
UPDATE: Thanks to MidwatchCowboy, we have a link to Mr. Islam's Thesis. You can find it here. I'm trying to find a time wedge to read it, will update later with comments.
UPDATE II Electric Boogaloo: Things are moving fast it seems, my spies are coming out of the woodwork. Via a reader who wished to remain anon, we have some more information on the theoretical torpedo sponge: Mr. Islam - was it this IBN KALDOON?
I recognize the name of the supposedly sunken ship you mentioned the Ibn Khaldoon. If you asked me to “Quick, name an IRAQI Merchant ship”, and gave me a second to answer, I’d probably have come up with that same name. Why? The name Ibn Khaldoon was all over the message traffic during the period right before the start of the ground war in DESERT STORM. Although the Navy did a lot of ship boarding during DESERT SHIELD without getting noticed much outside the Gulf and US military circles, this ship was different because it had the international version of Woman’s Strike for Peace on it. There was a lot of concern at the time that these folks would do something, possibly including faking an atrocity, when and if we boarded it. You can Google for Ibn Khaldoon and DESERT SHIELD or any of the US Navy ship names involved and find most of the story of the incident. A good summary is ... (here), see 26 December entry, and (here). You’ll have to read some contemporary press coverage to get the flavor of this ‘Sean Penn to Iraq’ like incident from the last war. For the folks in the amphibious Task Force, especially the ones diverted to Somalia just afterwards this action on the Dec 26th, and the revisit on 12 Jan was the big effort of the war itself. Otherwise they did not get to assault across the beach, like they might have expected to, so Ibn Khaldoon was it as far as direct support to the war went. Somalia is another story, and most of the Amphibious ships got to go back there multiple times over the years, including up to today with the piracy issues, so it’s not something which would stick in your mind.

The Ibn Khaldoon itself is not important. If you were at sea in the period of the war or after for the UN embargo, Arab ships names targeted for boarding came and went daily. This one would have struck out because it was special. I would be curious to know what ships Mr. Islam served on and when during DESRT SHIELD and STORM. That may answer the question where the Ibn Khaldoon name came from when he was asked to provide a name for a ship that got sunk out from under him.

(Many) who did the Ibn Khaldoon mission and EASTERN EXIT from Somalia, both Navy and Marine. They mostly talk about the “Peace Ship”, in part because of the irony of our having to rescue the over aged hippy lady that had the heart attack. (You can read about it in the NYT here).
It all checks out so far. Mr. Islam; over to you. Refute it and I will post it pronto.
UPDATE III: Oh my. On page 41 of his thesis we have AIPAC. On page 46 we have "Jewish bankers" and B'nai B'rith. The "American Jew" Kissinger on page 47 and so on....then page after page (about 8 or so I think) on AIPAC..again. Nothing shocking, or - yawn - any Sophomore undergrad Poly Sci major could put together. Yawn?

Yes, exactly what I was wondering.

UPDATE IV: DadManly's puzzler is a'puzzl'n.

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