The new JROTC Uniform – the Hijab

Editor’s Note – Once again our nation is being subjected to the whims and wills of a people who cannot even understand their own so-called religion. CAIR, in its constant effort to infiltrate its desires of the subjugation of all peoples to the will of Allah under Sharyia Law has proven this point again.

In no way shape or form can it be construed, that Muslim women must wear a Hijab to cover their head, not as dictated by Islam, neither in the Qu’ran, nor by any other diktat.

It is only when an individual Muslim Imam or other Islamic scholars or proselytizers dictate a different interpretation, usually in a wildly twisted and grossly out of context manner, mandate that anyone professing Muslim affiliation be required to cover the head. To better understand, one need only read from their own words as follows (From Islampeace.com):

A Muslim student at Ravenwood High School in Tennessee and the JROTC

Six Criteria for Hijab

According to the Qur’an and Sunnah, there are basically six criteria for observing hijab:

  1. It is obligatory for males to cover at least from the navel to the knees. For women, it is obligatory to cover the complete body except the face and the hands up to the wrist. If they wish to, they can cover even these parts of the body. Some scholars insist that the face and the hands are part of the obligatory extent of hijab, especially if temptation (fitna) is feared in times and places where Islamic rules are not prevalent or if security is scarce. All the remaining five criteria are the same for men and women:
  2. The clothes should be loose and should not reveal the figure.
  3. The clothes should not be transparent or see-through.
  4. The clothes should not be so glamorous as to attract attention.
  5. The clothes should not resemble those of the opposite sex.
  6. The clothes should not resemble those of the unbelievers, that is, clothes that identify or are symbols of the unbelievers’ religions.

Any Muslim can cover more, and even if the argument is made that the Muslim woman is in a place “where Islamic rules are not prevalent or if security is scarce” she must avoid being a temptation, can be construed to mean anything. But in no way is it mandated. These are the words of but one of many widely respected scholars of Islam. So why did the Army capitulate? Fear of reprisal from the litigious group CAIR, who loses all legal battles but constantly foists them upon us is why. Again, another erroneous argument.

But further research into what the JROTC is designed to do is worth reading as well, notice in particular the highlighted section:

“To Motivate Young People to Be Better Citizens”

Our Vision:

Providing a quality citizenship, character, and leadership development program, while fostering partnerships with communities and educational institutions.

Why Join Army Junior ROTC:

  • To appreciate the ethical values and principles that underlie good citizenship.
  • To develop leadership potential, while living and working cooperatively with others.
  • To be able to think logically and to communicate effectively with others, both orally and in writing.
  • To appreciate the importance of physical fitness in maintaining good health.
  • To understand the importance of high school graduation for a successful future, and learn about college and other advanced educational and employment opportunities.
  • To develop mental management abilities.
  • To become familiar with military history as it relates to America’s culture, and understand the history, purpose, and structure of military services.
  • To develop the skills necessary to work effectively as a member of a team.

JROTC is about American Culture, by their own definition at the United States Army Junior ROTC. America is a culture, one that is quickly being changed for non-American reasons. Beware the use of the term religion, because Islam is an ideology of control that poses as a religion, meant for the subjugation of all, this includes you! If you doubt this passage, read theirs: (From Islampeace.com)

Meaning of the Arabic Word Islam and How Muslims Regard Islamic Rules

Islam means total submission to Allah—in mind, heart, body, and soul—total acceptance of His laws and rules without doubts or arguments, total obedience to Him and His Messenger, and total refusal of shirk (associating anyone with Allah) in all its forms. The [Qur’an states what means]:

{It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plain error} (Al-Ahzab 33:36).

Muslims should not argue the commands, rules, or laws of Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him). They do not need proof from Allah for everything He asks of them. Their obedience is the mark of their true faith. In addition, Islam is a complete way of life that should be wholly adhered to by its followers. Thus, Muslims are not supposed to worship selectively, picking out whatever rules or rituals appeal to them and leaving the rest. Denying a basic Islamic rule or ritual is a serious sin.

And now we have this…

Defense department agrees to allow Muslim cadets to wear hijabs

By Jeff Kunerth

Orlando Sentinel

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced today that the Department of Defense will begin allowing Muslim and Sikh students who wear an Islamic head scarf (hijab) or a turban to participate in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC).

“We welcome the fact that Muslim and Sikh students nationwide will now be able to participate fully in JROTC leadership activities while maintaining their religious beliefs and practices,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

In October, the Washington-based Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization wrote to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta after a 14-year-old Muslim student at Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, Tenn., was forced to transfer out of a JROTC class when her commanding officers told her she could not wear hijab while marching in the September homecoming parade.

CAIR requested constitutionally-protected religious accommodations for the girl and for future Muslim JROTC participants.

In a Dec. 19 letter sent to CAIR, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Larry Stubblefield wrote:

“I have been asked to respond on behalf of the Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta to your October 13, 2011 letter concerning Miss Demin Zawity’s request to wear a religious head covering (hijab) while participating in an Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) event at Ravenwood High School.”

“Based on your concerns, the Army has reviewed its JROTC uniform policy and will develop appropriate procedures to provide Cadets the opportunity to request the wear of religious head dress, such as the turban and hijab. This change will allow Miss Zawity and other students the chance to fully participate in the JROTC program. Additionally, a representative from the U.S. Army Cadet Command will contact Miss Zawity and provide her the opportunity to rejoin the Ravenwood High School JROTC unit.”

“The Army prides itself in being a diverse organization, comprised of individuals from many faiths and religions. We appreciate you bringing this matter to our attention.”

‘Anonymous’ hits Stratfor

Editor’s Note – SUA is familiar with the hacking activities of ‘Anonymous’ as we too were part of an earlier breech through a service provider, so our sentiments go out to our friends at Stratfor. Like all security services, one cannot control all access points, and central points of failure are the target of people who have nothing but time on their hands for such devious deeds. Also, every breech that gets sealed is a learning experience, but we know as one hole is repaired, more will be found.

SUA has been constantly monitoring the newest war zone, Cyber-space, not only from the hackers who entertain themselves with these Robin Hood style attacks, but more importantly, attacks from our enemies like the Chinese military, intellectual property theft, and SCADA damage.

Stratfor Targeted by Hacking Group Anonymous

Hackers posted what they claimed to be personal details of the company’s clients on the information-sharing site Pastebin.

By: Nathan Eddy

The loosely-associated band of hackers known as Anonymous claims to have targeted the global intelligence think tank Strategic Forecasting, known as Stratfor, boasting on the microblogging site Twitter that personal information, including credit card numbers, belonging to Stratfor clients had been stolen. As of Monday morning, Stratfor’s Website was down, with a placeholder page saying the site was undergoing maintenance and asking visitors to “check back soon.”

Following the breach, hackers posted the details of the information on the information-sharing site Pastebin. In an email obtained by Reuters Sunday, Stratfor acknowledged an unauthorized breach. “As a result of this incident, the operation of Stratfor’s servers and email have been suspended,” the company wrote. Stratfor also issued an email to its members, which was obtained by the Associated Press, warning that some names and personal information would wind up on other sites.

“We are diligently investigating the extent to which subscriber information may have been obtained,” read the letter, signed by company CEO George Friedman. “Stratfor’s relationship with its members and, in particular, the confidentiality of their subscriber information, are very important to Stratfor and me.”

Anonymous has defaced and shut down Websites belonging to the music industry, companies that severed ties with WikiLeaks and various government agencies. The FBI and international law-enforcement agencies have been investigating the attacks and making arrests for the past few months. The Department of Homeland Security has begun to take Anonymous and other non-professional cyber-attackers more seriously as it issued warnings about potential attacks earlier this year.

In September, Obama administration officials spoke about the need for increased penalties for computer crimes in light of increased data breaches and hacking activity. The increase in computer crime, including Anonymous-led distributed denial-of-service attacks, Website attacks where data is stolen and general online mayhem, has led the White House to call for an increase in criminal penalties for computer crimes.

Online attacks have become more serious as attackers target sensitive personal data and corporate secrets and undermine infrastructure security. However, the penalties under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act don’t match the seriousness or complexity of cyber-crime, Associate Deputy Attorney General James Baker and Secret Service Deputy Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Investigative Division, Pablo Martinez said Sept. 7 in a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The proposal was based on the White House’s cyber-security plan unveiled in May.

From Geekhat:

Whitehat security firm Stratfor underwent a massive hack by Anonymous hackers on eve of Christmas or should we tell ‘LulzXmas’ as the Anonymous would call it. STRATFOR provides intelligence to a range of commercial and government customers, and has been beefing up its coverage of cyber, and specifically of Anonymous. Official website of Stratfor stratfor.com went offline after the attack but those interested can view a mirror of the deface.

Anonymous hackers posted this youtube video at the top of the defaced page:

The Iranian Threat – Cargo Containers in Transit

By Nitzan Nuriel & Adam Wolfson

By Brig. Gen. (Res.) Nitzan Nuriel, Director Counter Terrorism Bureau, Israel

Mr. Adam Wolfson. Legal Department, National Security Council, Israel

ICT (Institute for Counter-Terrorism)

Preface

Iran has been transferring in recent years large amounts of weapons to well-known terrorist groups in Lebanon and Gaza by various means. One of the ways Iran has found to be very effective is using maritime containers which ship through intermediate ports on their way to their final destinations. Iran exploits the fact that those containers, which are also known as “transit containers,” almost never have their content screened at the intermediate ports. In this article we propose a global solution for the problem, one that will increase substantially local authorities’ chances of apprehending Iranian weapons at the intermediate ports before they reach terrorist organizations.

The Iranian Threat

The global economy is greatly influenced by its trade and transportation capacity. A large percentage of international commerce depends on container transportation. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the most critical component of global trade today is transportation of goods by containers through seaports around the world: almost 90 percent of the world’s manufactured goods move by container (about 40 percent arrive by ship), and each year, about 108 million cargo containers are transported through seaports.

However, the threat to global trade posed by the potential terrorist use of a maritime container has not been sufficiently addressed in many countries around the world. The same applies to the usage of maritime containers by states that sponsor terrorism, such as Iran, to transfer weapons to terrorist organizations.

Even though the threat is very real, as will be shown below, authorities around the world are finding it increasingly hard – due to budget and other constraints – to screen every container passing through their ports. This is especially true with transit containers.

The Francop affair sheds light on the convoluted path Iranian weapons take on their way to terrorists groups, such as Hezbollah. In November 2009, Iran loaded at one of its local ports 36 containers of weapons onto a ship which sailed to Egypt. There, the containers were transferred, without any inspection or screening, to the cargo vessel Francop, which is German owned, but was leased at the time to a Cypriot freight delivery company, and Antiguan flagged. Francop was supposed to dock at a second intermediate port in Cyprus on its way to its final destination in Syria. From Syria the weapons were intended to be transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Fortunately, the ship was intercepted by Israeli naval forces before arriving in Cyprus.

Prior intelligence about Francop helped the Israeli Authorities to stop the transferring of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah. However that will not always be the case. Therefore, state sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran, have been trying relentlessly in past years to exploit this vulnerability to smuggle weapons – using maritime transit containers – to well-known terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. These attempts to transfer weapons to terrorist groups are in direct violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1835, 1803, 1747 and 1737 that strictly forbid Iran from exporting or trading any forms of weapons.

The Iranian system of transferring weapons by maritime containers, as was shown above, and how it exploits the system works as follows: the “illegal” containers (those with weapons) are usually loaded onto a ship at one of Iran’s local ports, and then shipped with other legitimate containers to one of the many intermediate ports around the world. The intermediate ports are unaware of the real cargo because the shipping documents typically are falsified. After unloading the containers at the intermediate ports, they are bundled with another new set of “clean” containers – which have the same final destination tags as those of the illegal cargo – waiting to be picked up at a later date. Then, a different ship, which will almost always be owned by another country (never by Iran) flying a different flag loads the containers – both the legal and illegal – and sails to its final destination, usually Egypt or Syria. From there the containers carrying the weapons go to the terrorist groups who reside in Lebanon and Gaza. The crews that pick up the containers at the intermediate ports have no knowledge of their cargo – whether legal or illegal – since they are not authorized to screen it. Therefore, unbeknownst to the shipping companies, they constitute a part of the Iranian technique to smuggle weapons to terrorist organizations by maritime containers. The purpose of this intricate Iranian operation, in all of its stages, is to cover any Iranian connection to the illegal cargo by exploiting the lack of sufficient security measures, especially in the intermediate ports.

Transit containers pose an especially significant security risk for every state that has a port due to the fact that these containers are almost never screened for weapons or other illegal goods without prior intelligence. The authorities prefer to allocate their resources to screening containers which are actually entering their country, rather than screening containers in transit, which have not officially entered the country, and which are then shipped elsewhere.

Furthermore, transit containers are sometimes left at the transit port for days and weeks at a time – often unchecked – until they are uploaded onto a ship to their final destination, Iran’s entire operation of smuggling weapons by means of maritime containers is based on the assumption that the illegal containers, which are in transit, will not be checked at the intermediate ports by the local authorities.

In addition to the Francop affair, a number of past incidents demonstrate Iranian efforts to smuggle weapons to terrorist groups in Lebanon and Gaza using maritime containers in transit.

The incidents

Victoria

In March 2011 Israeli naval commandos boarded and seized a German owned cargo vessel, Victoria, which was flying a Liberian flag, but operated by a French shipping company. Victoria was on its way from Turkey to Egypt, unknowingly concealing 39 containers of weapons intended to reach Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza. Turkey, which had no ties to the incident, constituted an intermediate port for the cargo’s travel route from Syria to Egypt. According to Israeli officials, the weapons shipment originated in Iran. One month before the interception, two Iranian warships visited the same Syrian port from which the intercepted vessel departed.

Photo: Israel Government Press Office Iranian Weapons seized on the Victoria ship.

Nigeria

In October 2010 Nigerian security agents discovered at the port of Lagos 13 containers of Iranian weapons. Three months earlier Iran had shipped those containers to a port in Nigeria with instructions to leave the cargo at the port for pick-up by a different ship at a later date. As in the Victoria incident, the Nigerian port was supposed to act as an intermediate port for the cargo on its way to its final destination, Gaza. Indeed, after the cargo was left at the port untouched for some time, Iran issued a request for the containers to be loaded on to a ship headed for Namibia with the intention of transferring the weapons through land routes in Africa to Hamas in Gaza. After receiving intelligence about the content of the cargo, Nigerian security forces were able to confiscate the containers, thus thwarting the Iranian operation before it was completed.

Monchegorsk

In January 2009 the Cypriot authorities intercepted the Russian owned cargo vessel’ Monchegorsk – which was flying a Cypriot flag, but was leased by an Iranian shipping company – en route from Iran to Syria. The authorities found 98 containers of arms. The containers were subsequently unloaded from the ship and were placed under supervision at a local naval base. In July 2011, an explosion originating from the confiscated cargo occurred at the naval base, killing the commander of the Cyprus navy and 11 other men; dozens more were injured. In addition, many cars, houses and government facilities in the vicinity of base were severely damaged, including a major power station, causing blackouts to some areas of the country. The incident had immediate and significant political ramifications – the defense minister and the country’s top military official resigned from their posts.

Photo: AFP The Explosion damages in Cyprus. Iranian Containers that have been stopped and delayed by the Cypriot authorities.
Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit Iranian containers that were seized on the Francop ship. The containers spent three weeks in transit in Port Said.

Possible Solutions to the Iranian Threat

As was illustrated above, a container explosion could have an enormous negative impact not only in terms of loss of live and damage to the port and its surrounding areas, but also to the nation’s economy as a whole. Further incidents like the one that occurred in Cyprus could paralyze the global economy and severely undermine freedom of movement (as has occurred in the past with air travel). In addition, we have seen that intermediate ports have been used as unwitting hosts for the transfer of weapons from Iran to terrorist organizations in Lebanon and Gaza.

Therefore, we suggest that containers shipped by states, like Iran, that in the past have been caught undermining the system by falsifying documents and smuggling weapons to terrorist organizations, be subjected to a 100% inspection regime. As a result, each state will take the steps necessary to protect its own ports, economy and citizens. The intermediate ports would no longer act as unwitting hosts for the transfer of weapons from Iran to terrorist organizations because every container originally shipped from Iran to their ports would be screened. Not only would such a regime increase port safety and security, but Iran will have one less way to transfer weapons to terrorist organizations.

We recognize that budget and other constraints pose a challenge to the authorities responsible for checking all incoming container shipments from states like Iran. For that reason, the cost of inspection should be borne by the shipping country; this would be the cost of Iran’s repeated exploitation and deception of host ports.

If our proposals were implemented during the time the aforementioned incidents occurred, it would have obviated the Israeli naval operations on the high seas that ended the Francop and Victoria affairs, since the illegal cargo would have been screened and subsequently confiscated at the intermediate port. The same applies with the Nigerian case. The local Nigerian security forces would have seized the illegal cargo soon after the Iranian shipment arrived.

We must recognize that sometimes intelligence about illegal cargo shipments does not arrive in time for it to be used by the security forces, as were the cases during the Francop and the Victoria affairs. Our proposal will virtually guarantee that containers loaded with weapons which were shipped from Iran and arrive at intermediate ports will be caught – regardless of prior intelligence – due to the 100% inspection regime.

In conclusion, the threat posed by the potential terrorist use of a maritime container and the smuggling of weapons by the same means is a global concern affecting all nations since – as the DHS put it – all trading nations depend on containerized shipping for the transportation of manufactured goods. We will not be able to achieve effective deterrence, take essential security steps, or close the gaps in the system without full international cooperation.

Local Cops Ready for War With DHS Security-Funded Military Weapons

A decade of billions in spending in the name of homeland security has armed local police departments with military-style equipment and a new commando mentality. But has it gone too far? Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz of the Center for Investigative Reporting report.

From the Daily Beast

Nestled amid plains so flat the locals joke you can watch your dog run away for miles, Fargo treasures its placid lifestyle, seldom pierced by the mayhem and violence common in other urban communities. North Dakota’s largest city has averaged fewer than two homicides a year since 2005, and there’s not been a single international terrorism prosecution in the last decade.

But that hasn’t stopped authorities in Fargo and its surrounding county from going on an $8 million buying spree to arm police officers with the sort of gear once reserved only for soldiers fighting foreign wars.

Every city squad car is equipped today with a military-style assault rifle, and officers can don Kevlar helmets able to withstand incoming fire from battlefield-grade ammunition. And for that epic confrontation—if it ever occurs—officers can now summon a new $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. For now, though, the menacing truck is used mostly for training and appearances at the annual city picnic, where it’s been parked near the children’s bounce house.

Atlanta Police S.W.A.T. members searched a building for a shooting suspect in July of 2010., John Bazemore

“Most people are so fascinated by it, because nothing happens here,” says Carol Archbold, a Fargo resident and criminal justice professor at North Dakota State University. “There’s no terrorism here.”

Like Fargo, thousands of other local police departments nationwide have been amassing stockpiles of military-style equipment in the name of homeland security, aided by more than $34 billion in federal grants since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a Daily Beast investigation conducted by the Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

The buying spree has transformed local police departments into small, army-like forces, and put intimidating equipment into the hands of civilian officers. And that is raising questions about whether the strategy has gone too far, creating a culture and capability that jeopardizes public safety and civil rights while creating an expensive false sense of security.

“The argument for up-armoring is always based on the least likely of terrorist scenarios,” says Mark Randol, a former terrorism expert at the Congressional Research Service, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress. “Anyone can get a gun and shoot up stuff. No amount of SWAT equipment can stop that.”

Local police bristle at the suggestion that they’ve become “militarized,” arguing the upgrade in firepower and other equipment is necessary to combat criminals with more lethal capabilities. They point to the 1997 Los Angeles-area bank robbers who pinned police for hours with assault weapons, the gun-wielding student who perpetrated the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, and the terrorists who waged abloody rampage in Mumbai, India, that left 164 people dead and 300 wounded in 2008.

The new weaponry and battle gear, they insist, helps save lives in the face of such threats. “I don’t see us as militarizing police; I see us as keeping abreast with society,” former Los Angeles Police chief William Bratton says. “And we are a gun-crazy society.”

Adds Fargo Police Lt. Ross Renner, who commands the regional SWAT team: “It’s foolish to not be cognizant of the threats out there, whether it’s New York, Los Angeles, or Fargo. Our residents have the right to be protected. We don’t have everyday threats here when it comes to terrorism, but we are asked to be prepared.”

The skepticism about the Homeland spending spree is less severe for Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York, which are presumed to be likelier targets. But questions persist about whether money was handed out elsewhere with any regard for risk assessment or need. And the gap in accounting for the decade-long spending spree is undeniable. The U.S. Homeland Security Department says it doesn’t closely track what’s been bought with its tax dollars or how the equipment is used. State and local governments don’t maintain uniform records either.

To assess the changes in law enforcement for The Daily Beast, the Center for Investigative Reporting conducted interviews and reviewed grant spending records obtained through open records requests in 41 states. The probe found stockpiles of weaponry and military-style protective equipment worthy of a defense contractor’s sales catalog.

In Montgomery County, Texas, the sheriff’s department owns a $300,000 pilotless surveillance drone, like those used to hunt down al Qaeda terrorists in the remote tribal regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Augusta, Maine, with fewer than 20,000 people and where an officer hasn’t died from gunfire in the line of duty in more than 125 years, police bought eight $1,500 tactical vests. Police in Des Moines, Iowa, bought two $180,000 bomb-disarming robots, while an Arizona sheriff is now the proud owner of a surplus Army tank.

The flood of money opened to local police after 9/11, but slowed slightly in recent years. Still, the Department of Homeland Security awarded more than $2 billion in grants to local police in 2011, and President Obama’s 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contributed an additional half-billion dollars.

Law enforcement officials say the armored vehicles, assault weapons, and combat uniforms used by their officers provide a public safety benefit beyond their advertised capabilities, creating a sort of “shock and awe” experience they hope will encourage suspects to surrender more quickly.

“The only time I hear the complaint of ‘God, you guys look scary’ is if the incident turns out to be nothing,” says West Hartford, Conn., Police Lt. Jeremy Clark, who organizes an annual SWAT competition.

A grainy YouTube video from one of Clark’s recent competitions shows just how far the police transformation has come, displaying officers in battle fatigues, helmets, and multi-pocketed vests storming a hostile scene. One with a pistol strapped to his hip swings a battering ram into a door. A colleague lobs a flash-bang grenade into a field. Another officer, holding a pistol and wearing a rifle strapped to his back, peeks cautiously inside a bus.

The images unfold to the pulsing, ominous soundtrack of a popular videogame,Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Though resembling soldiers in a far-flung war zone, the stars of this video are Massachusetts State Police troopers.

The number of SWAT teams participating in Clark’s event doubled to 40 between 2004 and 2009 as Homeland’s police funding swelled. The competition provides real-life scenarios for training, and Clark believes it is essential, because he fears many SWAT teams are falling below the 16 hours of minimum monthly training recommended by the National Tactical Officers Association.

“Luck is not for cops. Luck is for drunks and fools,” Clark said, explaining his devotion to training.

One beneficiary of Homeland’s largesse are military contractors, who have found a new market for their wares and sponsor training events like the one Clark oversees in Connecticut or a similar Urban Shield event held in California.

Special ops supplier Blackhawk Industries, founded by a former Navy SEAL, was among several Urban Shield sponsors this year. Other sponsors for such training peddle wares like ThunderSledge breaching tools for smashing open locked or chained doors, Lenco Armored Vehicles bulletproof box trucks, and KDH Defense Systems’s body armor.

“As criminal organizations are increasingly armed with military-style weapons, law enforcement operations require the same level of field-tested and combat-proven protection used by soldiers and Marines in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other high-risk locations,” boasts an Oshkosh Corp. brochure at a recent police seminar, where the company pitched its “tactical protector vehicle.”

The trend shows no sign of abating. The homeland security market for state and local agencies is projected to reach $19.2 billion by 2014, up from an estimated $15.8 billion in fiscal 2009, according to the Homeland Security Research Corp.

The rise of equipment purchases has paralleled an apparent increase in local SWAT teams, but reliable numbers are hard to come by. The National Tactical Officers Association, which provides training and develops SWAT standards, says it currently has about 1,650 team memberships, up from 1,026 in 2000.

Many of America’s newly armed officers are ex-military veterans from the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Charles Ramsey, who was police chief in Washington, D.C., on 9/11, upgraded the weaponry when he moved to Philadelphia in 2008. Today, some 1,500 Philly beat cops are trained to use AR-15 assault rifles.

“We have a lot of people here, like most departments, who are ex-military,” Ramsey says. “Some people are very much into guns and so forth. So it wasn’t hard to find volunteers.”

Some real-life episodes, however, are sparking a debate about whether all that gear also creates a more militarized mind-set for local police that exceeds their mission or risks public safety.

In one case, dozens of officers in combat-style gear raided a youth rave in Utah as a police helicopter buzzed overhead. An online video shows the battle-ready team wearing masks and brandishing rifles as they holler for the music to be shut off and pin partygoers to the ground.

And Arizona tactical officers this year sprayed the home of ex-Marine Jose Guerena with gunfire as he stood in a hallway with a rifle that he did not fire. He was hit 22 times and died. Police had targeted the man’s older brother in a narcotics-trafficking probe, but nothing illegal was found in the younger Guerena’s home, and no related arrests had been made months after the raid.

In Maryland, officials finally began collecting data on tactical raids after police in 2008 burst into the home of a local mayor and killed his two dogs in a case in which the mayor’s home was used as a dropoff for drug deal. The mayor’s family had nothing to do with criminal activity.

Such episodes and the sheer magnitude of the expenditures over the last decade raise legitimate questions about whether taxpayers have gotten their money’s worth and whether police might have assumed more might and capability than is necessary for civilian forces.

“With local law enforcement, their mission is to solve crimes after they’ve happened, and to ensure that people’s constitutional rights are protected in the process,” says Jesselyn McCurdy, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The military obviously has a mission where they are fighting an enemy. When you use military tactics in the context of law enforcement, the missions don’t match, and that’s when you see trouble with the overmilitarization of police.”

The upgrading of local police nonetheless continues. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaionow claims to operate his own air armada of private pilots—dubbed Operation Desert Sky—to monitor illegal border crossings, and he recently added a full-size surplus Army tank. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly boasted this fall he had a secret capability to shoot down an airliner if one threatened the city again. And the city of Ogden, Utah, is launching a 54-foot, remote-controlled “crime-fighting blimp” with a powerful surveillance camera.

Back in Fargo, nearby corn and soybean farmer Tim Kozojed supports the local police but questions whether the Homeland grants have been spent wisely. ”I’m very reluctant to get anxious about a terrorist attack in North Dakota,” Kozojed, 31, said. “Why would they bother?”

Syrian Civil War – Calling it by its name

Editor’s Note – Syria is in a civil war yet no one is admitting such. It is important to understand the factions of the Middle East and the transnational guerilla fighters claim no loyalty except to a paycheck and meeting a quota adds to the increase in pay via commissions. Assad has used the Soviet model of propaganda and the media is using it with vigor.

Syrian Army defector: We were given killing quotas by Assad regime

Two new human rights reports detail abuses by the Assad regime, but also show a growing use of violence by the opposition.

By Arthur Bright

CS Monitor

The violence in Syria appears to be worsening, as Syrian troops renewed their attacks on protesters in the key opposition city of Homs and military defectors launched one of the largest attacks yet on government forces. And a new report provides evidence from defectors that Syrian forces are being ordered to use deadly force against unarmed civilian protesters.

In this image from TV made available by a group called Ugarit News Thursday, amateur footage showing what appears to be a Syrian tank on fire, in Homs, Syria, as gunfire rings out and the tank then apparently explodes, Wednesday. AP

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based watchdog with a network of contacts in Syria, says that Syrian forces opened fire on protesters, killing one, after traditional Friday prayers today in the city of Homs, writes the Associated Press. The group says that 200,000 people took to the streets in Homs to protest the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. AP notes that it could not confirm the report, due to Syria’s ban on foreign journalists.

But the opposition has also stepped up violence, as the number of military defectors increases. The New York Times reports that, according to the Observatory,defectors killed 27 Syrian troops around the city of Daraa, in an apparently coordinated assault on sites inside and outside the city. If true, the Thursday morning attack would be one of the largest and most sophisticated yet by the opposition against Syrian forces.

The Observatory did not give any information about the defectors’ casualties in the attack. The Times adds that residents living in the city have confirmed fighting between armed groups in the area, with the Syrian forces suffering casualties. The Observatory has reported four attacks against government forces this week, including an attack on Wednesday that left eight Syrian troops dead.

The attacks come the same week that the UN revised its estimates of the death toll in the Syrian conflict upwards to 5,000. UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said that she recommends that the UN Security Council refer Syria to the International Criminal Court to investigate the regime for war crimes.

In addition, Human Right Watch released a new report Thursday, “By All Means Necessary.” Based on interviews with Syrian military defectors, it detailed orders they were given to use deadly force and torture against Syrian unarmed protesters. HRW found that “military commanders and officials in the intelligence agencies gave both direct and standing orders to use lethal force against the protesters,” citing 20 specific instances in the report, and said senior Syrian officials, including President Assad, bear responsibility for the abuses committed by their subordinates.

HRW writes that all the defectors reported being under standing orders to “stop the protests at any cost” and “by all means necessary,” and often were explicitly ordered to use lethal force against protesters. A soldier recounted one such incident in which troops were told to shoot at protesters:

On August 27 we were near a police hospital in Harasta. About 1,500 protesters came there. They requested the release of an injured protester who was inside the hospital. They held olive branches. They had no arms. There were 35 army soldiers and about 50mukhabarat [intelligence] personnel at the checkpoint. We also had a jeep with a mounted machine-gun. When the protesters were less than 100 meters away, we opened fire. We had previously received the orders to do so from [Brigadier General Talal Makhlouf]. Five protesters were hit, and I believe two of them died.

A sniper deployed in May near the key opposition city of Homs said that soldiers were given quotas of casualties they should inflict. “During the protests, the commanders gave us a specific number, or a percentage, of protesters who should be liquidated. For 5,000 protesters, for example, the target would be 15-20 people,” he said.

Another defector, a soldier sent to suppress protests in Douma in April, said “At one point we killed eight people in 15 minutes. The protesters were unarmed. They didn’t even have rocks! That’s when I decided to defect.”

The report is based on interviews HRW conducted with 63 defectors from Syrian military and intelligence agencies between May and November 2011.  Interviewees included troops deployed all over the country, including the flashpoints of Damascus, Daraa, and Homs, and their positions ranged from conscripted soldier to lieutenant colonel.