Tag Archives: Pentagon

Never-before-seen pictures inside the White House on September 11, 2001

Taking it in: Then-Vice President Dick Cheney rests his feet on his desk as he watches a live TV news report of the 9/11 attacks on the morning of September 11, 2001. The first plane hit the WTC's North Tower at 8.46am. A second jet struck the South Tower at 9.03am
Taking it in: Then-Vice President Dick Cheney rests his feet on his desk as he watches a live TV news report of the 9/11 attacks on the morning of September 11, 2001. The first plane hit the WTC’s North Tower at 8.46am. A second jet struck the South Tower at 9.03am

In one photo, then-Vice President Dick Cheney rests his feet on his desk as he watches a live TV news report of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Shocked: With his glasses off, Cheney stares to his left after he was frog-marched by agents to a secure basement in the White House
Shocked: With his glasses off, Cheney stares to his left after he was frog-marched by agents to a secure basement in the White House

In another, he sits beside his wife after they were both frog-marched by Secret Service agents to a secure basement in the White House. 

The never-before-seen images capture Cheney's reaction to the attacks, which saw four hijacked passenger planes crash in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001

And in a later shot, he takes his glasses off and clasps his hands together before he and his spouse are flown to an undisclosed location.

Aftermath: Cheney, now 78, leans backward and yawns in one of the photos, released following a Freedom of Information Act request
Aftermath: Cheney, now 78, leans backward and yawns in one of the photos, released following a Freedom of Information Act request

These never-before-seen images capture Cheney’s reaction to the attacks, which saw two hijacked passenger planes crash into the World Trade Center in New York, another jet strike the Pentagon and a fourth crash in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, killing 2,996 people.

The then-Vice President takes a call in the basement
Crisis: : The never-before-seen images capture Cheney’s reaction to the attacks, which saw four hijacked passenger planes crash in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. Above, the then-Vice President holds his head (left) and takes a call (right)

They also show the horror felt by other senior government officials, including then-President George Bush and his wife Laura, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, CIA Director George Tenet, Cheney’s top lawyer, David Addington, and Chief of Staff Andrew Card.

Tense talks: In the images, Bush (far right) looks tense as he confers with Cheney (far left), Chief of Staff Andrew Card (second left), National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (center) and other officials in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC)
Tense talks: In the images, Bush (far right) looks tense as he confers with Cheney (far left), Chief of Staff Andrew Card (second left), National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (center) and other officials in the President’s Emergency Operations Center (PEOC)

In the photos, Bush looks tense and even bites his lip as he confers with officials in the President’s Emergency Operations Center (PEOC), a highly-secure underground bunker below the White House’s East Wing that can withstand nuclear hits and other devastating attacks.

Emergency response: The PEOC is a secure underground bunker below the White House's East Wing that can withstand nuclear hits
Emergency response: The PEOC is a secure underground bunker below the White House’s East Wing that can withstand nuclear hit

The then-President would shortly address the nation about the day’s atrocities, which were aired live on TV screens across the world.

In charge: On the day of the attacks, Cheney was in charge at the White House. The President was visiting a school in Sarasota, Florida
In charge: On the day of the attacks, Cheney was in charge at the White House. The President was visiting a school in Sarasota, Florida

The same evening, Cheney and his wife, Lynne, were flown via Marine Two to a secret destination, revealed in the photos to be Camp David.They were later moved to other undisclosed sites as thousands of rescue workers descended on the wreckage of the WTC towers.

Advice: Cheney holds his hand to chin as his top lawyer, David Addington (seen kneeling), starts to secure the legal authority response
Advice: Cheney holds his hand to chin as his top lawyer, David Addington (seen kneeling), starts to secure the legal authority response

On the day of the attacks, Cheney, now 74, was in charge at the White House, with Bush visiting a school in Sarasota, Florida, at the time.

Looking worried: Rice bites her lip as she sits beside Cheney in the PEOC. While the officials were inside the underground bunker, first built for President Franklin Roosevelt in World War Two, there were reports of more hijacked planes heading toward the White House
Looking worried: Rice bites her lip as she sits beside Cheney in the PEOC. While the officials were inside the underground bunker, first built for President Franklin Roosevelt in World War Two, there were reports of more hijacked planes heading toward the White House

Cheney has since defended the harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA in the wake of the plane attacks, which included the waterboarding of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed a total of 183 times, declaring that he ‘would do it again in a minute’.  

Preparation: Bush speaks to Cheney, Rice and Card as he prepares address the nation about the day's atrocities, seen across the world
Preparation: Bush speaks to Cheney, Rice and Card as he prepares address the nation about the day’s atrocities, seen across the world

The newly-released images of Cheney and other officials’ reactions to 9/11 were captured by Cheny’s staff photographer, according to PBS.

Secure room: Cheney, his wife and then-First Lady Laura Bush (center) all look visibly tense as they stand in the PEOC during the crisis
Secure room: Cheney, his wife and then-First Lady Laura Bush (center) all look visibly tense as they stand in the PEOC during the crisis

 The photos were released by the National Archives following a FOIA request by FRONTLINE filmmaker Colette Neirouz Hanna.

Top officials: Cheney speaks to Bush in the PEOC on the evening of the attacks. Bush arrived at the bunker at around 7pm, it is reported
Top officials: Cheney speaks to Bush in the PEOC on the evening of the attacks. Bush arrived at the bunker at around 7pm, it is reported

Spouse: Cheney’s wife, Lynne (left), was also brought to PEOC for security reasons. She and her husband were later flown to safety

Spouse: Cheney’s wife, Lynne (left), was also brought to PEOC for security reasons. She and her husband were later flown to safety

Never-before-seen: The striking pictures of Cheney and other officials' reactions to 9/11 were captured by Cheny's staff photographer

Never-before-seen: The striking pictures of Cheney and other officials’ reactions to 9/11 were captured by Cheny’s staff photographer

Communications: Cheney (pictured speaking on the phone on the day of the attacks) has defended the harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA in the wake of the attacks, which included the waterboarding of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times

Communications: Cheney (pictured speaking on the phone on the day of the attacks) has defended the harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA in the wake of the attacks, which included the waterboarding of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times

Ready to speak: Bush is pictured clutching a piece of paper as he speaks to Card, Cheney and Rice ahead of his address to the nation

Ready to speak: Bush is pictured clutching a piece of paper as he speaks to Card, Cheney and Rice ahead of his address to the nation

Reassuring the nation: During his address, Bush promised to 'find those responsible and bring them to justice' for committing the 'evil, despicable acts of terror'. Above, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet is pictured watching the speech at around 8:30pm

Reassuring the nation: During his address, Bush promised to ‘find those responsible and bring them to justice’ for committing the ‘evil, despicable acts of terror’. Above, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet is pictured watching the speech at around 8:30pm

Listening: Tenet (left) and FBI Director Robert Mueller were joined by other officials as they watched Bush address millions of citizens

Listening: Tenet (left) and FBI Director Robert Mueller were joined by other officials as they watched Bush address millions of citizens

Flown to safety: That evening, Cheney and his wife, Lynne, were flown via helicopter to a secret destination, revealed in the photos to be Camp David. Above, the couple are pictured (left) being escorted to Marine Two, which shortly took off for Camp David (right)

Bigger plan: Cheney's move was part of a Secret Service plan to maintain the continuity of the leadership of the government, PBS reports

Bigger plan: Cheney’s move was part of a Secret Service plan to maintain the continuity of the leadership of the government, PBS reports

 En-route: Cheney and his wife (seen in the aircraft) were later moved to other undisclosed sites as rescue workers looked for victims

En-route: Cheney and his wife (seen in the aircraft) were later moved to other undisclosed sites as rescue workers looked for victims

Safe place: The then-Vice President is greeted by a sailor at Camp David, situated in wooded hills about 62 miles from Washington, D.C.

Safe place: The then-Vice President is greeted by a sailor at Camp David, situated in wooded hills about 62 miles from Washington, D.C.

Horrified: Cheney (pictured at Camp David) said in the aftermath of the devastating attacks: 'We have to work the dark side, if you will'

Horrified: Cheney (pictured at Camp David) said in the aftermath of the devastating attacks: ‘We have to work the dark side, if you will’

On September 11, 2001, two hijacked passenger planes crashed into two World Trade Center towers (pictured) in New York, another jet struck the Pentagon and a fourth crashed in a Pennsylvania field. The attacks killed a total of 2,996 people, including the 19 hijackers

On September 11, 2001, two hijacked passenger planes crashed into two World Trade Center towers (pictured) in New York, another jet struck the Pentagon and a fourth crashed in a Pennsylvania field. The attacks killed a total of 2,996 people, including the 19 hijackers

Shocking news: This photo, later seen by people across the world, shows the moment Bush was informed of 9/11 by his Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, who whispered in his ear. At the time, the then-President was attending a school reading event in Sarasota, Florida

Shocking news: This photo, later seen by people across the world, shows the moment Bush was informed of 9/11 by his Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, who whispered in his ear. At the time, the then-President was attending a school reading event in Sarasota, Florida

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Russia: We warned the Yanks about Islamic State

A joke making the rounds among Russian officials and hacks who take a keen interest in what is going on in the Middle East these days goes something like this: How will the Yanks deal with the Islamic State group?

They will create “Islamic State 2”, a bigger and better armed group, and let it deal with the original Islamic State group. And what happens when “Islamic State 2” turns against them as it happened with the original Islamic State? They will create “Islamic State 3”, and so on.

But seriously, the rise and spread of the Islamic State group is no laughing matter. Now that the US and its allies have finally woken up to the dangers of the spread of the extremist group, the worry in Moscow is that the hotheads in the Pentagon and at Nato headquarters in Brussels will decide to start hitting Islamic State positions in Syria along with “other targets” there as well – for instance, Syrian army positions.

US President Barack Obama has already announced his plan to deal with the group, promising to lead a “broad coalition” that will “roll back this terrorist threat”. In Moscow, the fear is that the US will seize this opportunity to intervene in Syria.

The Libyan scenario

According to Valeriy Fenenko from the Moscow Centre for International Security, the US can actually use the presence of the Islamic State group in Syria as a pretext to implement the “Libyan scenario”.

“The Americans are bound to try to compensate for their failure last fall,” he says. “At first, it will be air strikes against terrorists and then, in parallel, it may amount to helping the moderate opposition. The US may start a creeping interference, like it happened in Bosnia,” he said.

In any event, Russian diplomatic efforts are in full swing. According to one Russian source, Moscow is trying to prevent possible air strikes in Syria by the US, UK and others, in the same way it did last year when the danger of air strikes was growing by the day.

“Our people in Arab and European capitals were desperately trying to find some sort of solution last year,” he said. “The threat of a regional war that could escalate into a world war was taken very seriously by the Kremlin. And this scenario is in the cards again.”

The feeling in Moscow is that the recent Nato summit in Newport, Wales, missed out on a great opportunity to involve Russia in finding a solution to the spread of the Islamic State group and other militant groups associated with it across Iraq and the Middle East generally. Not to mention, the very real threat of these violent men entering European countries, and even reaching the US.

“The Russians have been warning the Americans ever since the civil war broke out in Syria that it was very dangerous to arm the opposition there,” one former Russian general who was in charge of anti-terrorist operation told me. “There was no chance that the arms destined for the so-called moderate opposition would not end up with the likes of the Islamic State. Not to mention that lots of it was coming as well from ‘liberated’ Libya.”

The same bandits

What worries Russian officials is the stubborn refusal of the Obama administration to talk to President Bashar al-Assad’s government about a possible joint effort in defeating the Islamic State group in Syria.

As Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov said recently, it doesn’t make sense for the West to help the Iraqi government to fight the Islamic State group but deny cooperation to Assad who is fighting “the same bandits”.

Some Russian analysts are saying that the bigger problem of the current crisis is that the Islamic State group runs its recruitment campaigns not just in the Middle East but in Europe as well.

Different figures are cited over the number of Europeans who have joined the ranks of the group in the past several months, but if you consider that the number of fighters has risen – according to Russian estimates, from about 6,000 in June to over 30,000 at present – it can be assumed that we are talking about thousands of young Muslims travelling from Europe to fight in what they believe is a holy war.

The senseless war in Gaza has probably indirectly boosted the Islamic State group’s recruitment campaign, making it easier to claim that the West and Israel are hellbent on wiping out the Muslims in the Middle East. It remains unclear as to why Israel’s armed forces attacked Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and conducted blanket air strikes that were bound to take a heavy toll on the civilian population.

In the opinion of Russian experts, this looked more like a smokescreen for US failures in Iraq and Libya rather than an attempt to wipe out Hamas’ arsenal and top commanders. From a military point of view, Benjamin Netanyahu’s war achieved absolutely nothing, except perhaps giving Hamas a boost in popularity.

The danger for Russia from the Islamic State group is that some of its members come from Chechnya and Dagestan, the two Muslim republics in the south of Russia, and there is a risk that the group can find sympathisers and supporters there and even start to build a network across the Caucasus.

That is why Moscow is now calling on all parties to make a joint effort to destroy the Islamic State group before it becomes truly international.

However, as the president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems Konstantin Sivkov points out, the military option is only part of the solution in tackling the Islamic State group.

He says that air strikes would not be enough and that it’s crucial to also fight its ideology and cut off its finances that are now flowing through perfectly legal banking channels.  The war against the Islamic State group is fraught with dangers. It might get out of control and drag the whole region into a much wider conflict.

Here’s where the Pentagon says that ISIS is dominant in Iraq and Syria

ISIS Control Pentagon Map

ISIS is experiencing a string of setbacks in Iraq.

Since August 2014, the militant group has lost control of somewhere between 5,000 to 6,000 square miles, according to a Pentagon assessment. This amounts to the group no longer being able to freely operate in 25% to 30% of populated Iraqi regions where they were once active.

The following graphic, from the US Department of Defense, highlights the territory ISIS has lost since August in orange.

Most recently, ISIS was expelled from the Sunni city of Tikrit. The birthplace of Saddam Hussein and a hotbed of Sunni sectarianism, the loss of Tikrit to a coalition of Shiite militias and the Iraqi military aided through US airstrikes was a huge tactical loss for the militant group.

The Iraqi government is now launching operations against ISIS in western Anbar province. The heavily Sunni province’s most populous areas are mostly controlled by ISIS and the group has been openly active in Fallujah since at least December 2013.

So far, the Iraqi government’s Anbar offensive has bypassed Fallujah and focused on dislodging ISIS from the contested provincial capital of Ramadi. In response, ISIS has launched a counter offensive against the Iraqi government in both Ramadi and against the Baiji Oil Refinery north of Tikrit.

Although ISIS has been losing ground in Iraq, the Pentagon warns that the group’s total amount of territorial control in Syria has remained unchanged. Although the group has lost territory around Kobane, it has made gains in the south of the country around Damascus and in the Yarmouk refugee camp, which is just miles from the city’s downtown.

U.S. Commander in Korea Leads Secret Strategy Session

Kim Il Sung Square in the center of Pyongyang appears as usual on Jan. 8, 2015, believed to be the 32nd birthday of leader Kim Jong Un

The commander of U.S. military forces in Korea is leading a high-level military strategy meeting this week examining how U.S. forces would respond to North Korea’s new mobile long-range missiles and the use of other weapons and capabilities, according to defense officials.

Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, will direct what the command is calling the Korean Strategy Seminar (KSS) at the U.S. Special Operations Command Wargame Center in Tampa.

A spokesman for U.S. Forces Korea declined to provide details of the seminar but told theWashington Free Beacon that the strategy session will focus on preparing to deal with North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction.

“The KSS brings together key leaders from across the U.S. government to consider how we can proactively support enhancing stability on the Korean peninsula,” said spokesman Andre Kok.

“This includes consideration of the challenge presented by North Korean weapons of mass destruction, as well as how we may potentially enhance our support to the Republic of Korea’s role in maintaining regional stability.”

The current seminar is the second of its type and “is an important step to ensuring interagency coordination and engagement,” he said.

The seminar is being held amid new tensions with North Korea over its role in hacking Sony Pictures Entertainment last November. Intelligence officials have said that the hack was carried out by North Korean government agents.

Defense officials said several North Korean conflict scenarios will be played out in the Tampa session, including efforts to counter North Korea’s new road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, the KN-08, as well as discussion of how to counter Pyongyang’s cyber warfare capabilities.

The KN-08 is a 6,000-mile range road-mobile ICBM that has been observed in North Korea on Chinese-made transporter erector launchers. Engine tests of the missile were carried out last year but a flight test has not been observed.

Additionally, the seminar will examine the use of U.S. special operations forces that in the past have planned and practiced operations to sabotage North Korean weapons of mass destruction facilities and stockpiles inside the country, one of the most regimented totalitarian police and military states in the world.

The war games are also expected to include discussion of how to counteract North Korea’s expected infiltration of large numbers of elite special operations commandos into South Korea during a conflict, considered a key asymmetric military threat.

North Korea is believed to have several nuclear warheads fueled with plutonium. The regime has conducted three underground nuclear tests and the Pyongyang government has made repeated threats to use nuclear missile strikes against the United States in recent years.

Defense officials said the seminar also could be preparation for U.S. retaliation against North Korea for the cyber attacks that damaged Sony’s computer networks, involved the theft of large amounts of proprietary information, and prompted the movie company to delay release of the comedy The Interview, involving a fictional CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

President Obama last month threatened to take unspecified retaliatory action against North Korea for the Sony hacking.

“They caused a lot of damage, and we will respond,” Obama said Dec. 19. “We will respond proportionally, and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.”

Military spokesman declined to provide specifics on the war games.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool said the seminar will include senior officials of the Office of Secretary of Defense who will take part in portions of the classified strategy seminar.

“The reason for hosting the seminar in Florida is the facility is able to accommodate discussions from a large number of participants at a high level of security classification,” he said.

U.S. military officials in recent months have expressed growing worries over the KN-08, a missile with enough range to hit parts of the United States with a nuclear warhead.

North Korea unveiled six KN-08s during a military parade in April 2012.

An additional worry is recent intelligence indicating North Korea is developing a submarine-launched ballistic missile. Satellite photographs revealed the work on a submarine launcher and the disclosure that the North has a submarine capable of firing missiles. The Free Beacon first disclosed the SLBM work in August.

North Korea’s military is large, with 1.02 million troops, 4,200 tanks, 2,200 armored vehicles, and 8,600 artillery pieces.

Scaparrotti is said by defense officials to be very worried about North Korea’s growing military capabilities and the danger of a North Korean military provocation triggering a second Korean War.

The four-star Army general in October told reporters he believes North Korea has the capability of miniaturizing a small warhead and mating it to one of the KN-08 missile.

“I don’t know that they have that capability,” he said Oct. 24 at the Pentagon. “I’m just saying as a commander, I’ve got to assume they have the capabilities to put it together. We’ve not seen it tested at this point. And as you know, for something that’s that complex, without it being tested, the probability of it being effective is pretty darn low.”

Scaparrotti also said North Korea’s cyber attack capabilities are not as formidable as others around the world, but that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “is focused on developing cyber capabilities.”

“We’ve seen where he has had impact, obviously, in South Korea and their business and commercial entities. It’s things like disruption of service, et cetera,” he said.

The Obama administration imposed sanctions on several North Korean entities in response to the Sony hack.

Defense officials said that because North Korea is not heavily reliant on information systems, a U.S. cyber counterattack against the communist state is only one option among many being considered by commanders.

Military options could include covert sabotage or intelligence operations targeting high-value North Korean military or political entities.

David S. Maxwell, a North Korea expert at Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies, said the Korea Strategy Seminar could include an array of scenarios, such as how to deal with North Korean military provocations aimed at gaining political and economic concessions, a catastrophic collapse of the Kim family regime, or a North Korean military strike aimed at reunifying the Korean peninsula under Pyongyang’s control.

Other contingencies that could be explored may include an examination of the North’s global illicit activities, such as currency counterfeiting and illicit drug trafficking, or how to deal with the North’s trafficking in weapons of mass destruction and missile technology.

“I do not know what the focus is on but given the complexity of the security situation, this range of challenges provides a variety of scenarios for an exercise and in particular an interagency exercise,” Maxwell said in an email.

The use of Special Operations Command’s Wargame center also is significant, Maxwell said, as the command provides support for all major combatant commands during war or major military operations.

“What I think is important about this exercise is that it does illustrate the importance of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula and conducting it at USSOCOM allows Gen. Scaparrotti and his team to capitalize on not only a world class gaming and simulation center at the headquarters, but also the fact that USSOCOM is probably the most advanced command in bringing together the interagency [process] outside of Washington to look at U.S. strategic problems.”

The special operations command has developed strong interagency ties that “have tremendous value in any strategic security scenario to include those on the Korean Peninsula,” Maxwell said.

In September, Adm. Samuel Locklear, then-commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, also expressed worries over the new KN-08.

Locklear said North Korea is working to deploy the mobile ICBM and said “road-mobile systems” limit the “amount of time you have to deal with it, particularly if you want to deal with it before they launch it.”

The four-star admiral said it was difficult to assess how close North Korea is to fielding the KN-08.

“So we watch it very, very carefully and it’s kind of just on an upward trajectory of the things that over time can give us concern,” he told Bloomberg News.

Dealing with North Korea is one of the “most dangerous” security challenges, Locklear said, because Pyongyang has produced “pictures of mushroom clouds over New York City and Washington.”

On the overall threat posed by Pyongyang, Scaparrotti said in October: “In recent years, North Korea has focused on development of asymmetric capabilities.

These capabilities include several hundred ballistic missiles, one of the world’s largest chemical weapons stockpiles, a biological weapons research program, and the world’s largest special operations force, as well as an active cyber-warfare capability.”

North Korea in 2013 conducted a third underground nuclear test and stepped up no-notice ballistic missile launches last year, he said.

“We are concerned that such events could start a cycle of action and counteraction, leading to an unintended, uncontrolled escalation,” Scaparrotti said.

Amid concerns over the threat from North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and the United States concluded a new intelligence-sharing agreement.

The command’s Wargame Center, where the KSS is being held, conducts war games, rehearsal of concept drills, senior seminars, and other planning efforts, according to the Special Operations Command website.

The Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on the North Korean military described the KN-08, which the Pentagon calls the Hwasong-13.

“If successfully designed and developed, the Hwasong-13 likely would be capable of reaching much of the continental United States, assuming the missiles displayed are generally representative of missiles that will be fielded,” the report said.

On North Korea’s military cyber warfare capabilities, the report said North Korea “probably has a military offensive cyber operations (OCO) capability.”

“Given North Korea’s bleak economic outlook, [offensive computer operations] may be seen as a cost-effective way to develop asymmetric, deniable military options,” the report said.

“Because of North Korea’s historical isolation from outside communications and influence, it is also likely to use Internet infrastructure from third-party nations. This increases the risk of destabilizing actions and escalation on and beyond the Korean Peninsula.”

North Korea’s large special operations forces (SOF)—some 60,000 commandos—were described in the report as “among the most highly trained, well-equipped, best-fed, and highly motivated forces” in the North Korean military.

“As North Korea’s conventional capabilities decline relative to the ROK and United States, North Korea appears to increasingly regard SOF capabilities as vital for asymmetric coercion,” the report said.

Maxwell, the Georgetown North Korea expert, said the last time he could recall an interagency exercise focusing on Korean security was after President Bill Clinton in 1997 signed Presidential Decision Directive-56 (PDD-56) on managing complex contingency operations.

That directive coincided with fears at the time that the regime in Pyongyang might collapse, creating a catastrophic situation in the region.

“It seems to me that this exercise being conducted by [U.S. Forces Korea] with the support of USSOCOM is the best opportunity for interagency planning since 1997,” he said.

North Korea threatens attack on White House and Pentagon over Sony hack

North Korea warns attack on White House and Pentagon over Sony leaks

North Korea has threatened to attack the White House, Pentagon and the entire US mainland as the war of words between Washington and Pyongyang intensifies.

Following President Barack Obama’s direct accusation of North Korea’s involvement in the Sony Pictures hacking scandal, Pyongyang’s powerful National Defence Commission yet again denied any hand in the attack.

In a dispatch carried by the regime-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the Commission said: “The DPRK [North Korea’s official name] has already launched the toughest counteraction. Nothing is more serious miscalculation than guessing that just a single movie production company is the target of this counteraction. Our target is all the citadels of the US imperialists who earned the bitterest grudge of all Koreans,”

“Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole US mainland, the cesspool of terrorism.”

The North Korean statement added that Obama is “recklessly” spreading rumours that Pyongyang is behind the attack on Sony Pictures.

Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole US mainland, the cesspool of terrorism” – North Korea on US

Even though such belligerence from the reticent nation is frequently used to drum up tensions regularly, the long statement from the Commission also highlights the North’s fragile nature when it comes to mocking its leaders.

Sony Pictures has been forced to suspend the release of the movie The Interview, which revolves around the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Pyongyang’s latest statement has come at a time when Obama is considering whether to place the country back on the terror list.

“We’re going to review those through a process that’s already in place. And we don’t make those judgments just based on the news of the day. We look systematically at what’s been done and based on those facts, we’ll make those determinations in the future,” Obama said in an interview with CNN adding the cyber attack on Sony Pictures does not tantamount to an act of war.

Sun Tzu And The Cost Of War – What if military strategy was timeless?

Sun Tzu was a Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher, and is credited to have written “The Art of War”, a seminal treatise on managing conflict and warfare. It is uncertain when he actually lived, but some traditional historians date his lifetime to 544–496 BC.

The Art of War discusses military strategy within the wider context of public administration, politics and planning. Organized in thirteen chapters, the text outlines theories of battle, but also advocates diplomacy and cultivating relationships with other nations as essential to the health of a state. For centuries, it has been regarded as the definite reading for strategists and warriors of all types.

Sun Tzu’s work remains highly influential to this day. An internet search with his name produces over 10 million hits; in recent years there have been several best-selling translations and books applying the strategies to different fields, including negotiation, leadership and business.

So influential in fact that certain authors claim China’s leaders follow a modern adaptation of his principles as they seek to transform their country into a world superpower in the 21 century. Exactly at a time when the Western Establishment seems to be very busy brushing them aside.

Sun Tzu in Action

Sun Tzu observed, analyzed and distilled what works and what doesn’t at war, and eventually developed an approach which transcended the battlefield.

He emphasized the need to have a strategy planned well in advance of any campaign based on a detailed assessment of both adversaries’ strengths and weaknesses: “If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”

Open warfare should only be pursued as a last resort. In fact, Sun Tzu regarded winning without fighting as the pinnacle of military achievement. However, when there was no other choice, then the fighting should be as swift as possible:

“There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.” That applies to the loser of course but also the victor, which is forced to expend substantial resources and in the end may not get much spoils to show for it, while becoming vulnerable himself to other attacks.

Sun Tzu also warned us against relying too much on technological superiority: “Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.” Such superiority may win battles but not necessarily the war, especially in the presence of asymmetric equalizers. And it is very costly.

His principles remain relevant to this day not only because they were organized during a time of substantial human conflict in an advanced civilization – they are also deeply rooted in natural law. Even the mighty lion chooses its prey carefully, aiming for the weakest of the bunch in the most economical way possible.

The Cost of War

Stephen Daggett, Specialist in Defense Policy and Budgets at the Congressional Research Service (considered to be the Congress’ think tank), authored a report in June 2010 outlining the cost of all the major wars the US has been involved in.

His estimates, as well as a recent update on the cost of all the Post 9/11 wars by Professor Neta C. Crawford at Boston University, are presented in the following table:

(a) US$ billion, in constant 2011 dollars, except for Post 9/11 which is in current dollars.

(b) Union and Confederacy added together.

(c) Includes $1 trillion in future obligations for care of Veterans through 2054.

One important fact stands out from this table. Not only are the Post 9/11 entanglements the longest of any war the US has been involved in, they are also the most expensive – even more than World War II, when the US was fighting on two major fronts against heavily industrialized powers.

Rather than achieving victory quickly as advocated by Sun Tzu, the US has been involved in very costly wars for well over a decade now.

When it comes to ensuring global security it can get lonely at the top. None of the traditional US allies have the military capabilities and even the ambition to project power at the same level. As an example, the US has 19 commissioned aircraft carriers, followed by France at #2 with only four. Russia and China only have one each.

These days US politicians generally endorse this militaristic approach to governing world affairs. This might be understandable as the geopolitical landscape has become incredibly complex and uncertain since 9/11.

However, after years of waging war, conflict is now expanding as opposed to receding, particularly in the all-important Middle East where openly anti-West radical groups are conquering large territories. As such, a material US disentanglement over the foreseeable future looks increasingly less likely.

Sun Tzu had something to say about this: “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” Seen in this light, has the Post 9/11 military strategy made the US a victorious warrior?

While all of this is taking place, the US’ ideological foes can afford the luxury of sitting back and employing a more measured approach: “To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” Indeed, nothing breaks morale more than the prospect of never ending foreign wars.

Meanwhile, the debts keep piling up. The Pentagon’s continued ability to project power might become increasingly dependent not on its brave soldiers but on its creditors. Sun Tzu would agree.

Vomiting Woman At Pentagon Sparks Ebola Alert

Emergency worker in hazmat suit sprays another worker in a Pentagon parking lot after a woman who recently traveled to Africa vomited there, in Washington

The Department of Defense incident comes as Mexican authorities refuse to let a US cruise ship dock amid a passenger ebola scare. 

The Pentagon shut down a building entrance and part of a car park after a woman was sick and told police she was in Liberia two weeks ago.

Hazmat-suited crews from Arlington, Virginia, descended on the scene as the woman was taken to hospital as a possible ebola case. 

She began vomiting after she got off a shuttle bus that was taking guests to a high-level Marine Corps ceremony.

The other passengers were released and advised to take their temperatures twice daily for the next 21 days, which is ebola’s incubation period.

Pentagon spokesman Lt Col Tom Crosson said all pedestrian and vehicle traffic was stopped in the vast car park, out of an abundance of caution.

Department of Defense force protection officers imposed infectious disease protocols.

The scare underlines the heightened state of alert in the US over the haemorrhagic fever, which has now killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa.

The Obama administration has been scrambling to contain ebola since two Dallas nurses caught it after treating the first patient diagnosed with the virus in the US

The White House on Friday picked Ron Klain, a lawyer and former vice-presidential chief of staff, to be its ebola czar.

Meanwhile, a US cruise ship could not get permission to dock in Cozumel, Mexico, because it has a passenger under quarantine in another ebola scare.

A day earlier, Belize refused to allow US officials to evacuate the woman – who is isolated in a cabin with her husband – from the Carnival Magic via a coastal airport.

The Obama administration said the unidentified lab supervisor had handled specimens 19 days ago from a Liberian man who died of the disease in Dallas. 

The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital worker did not have direct contact with Thomas Eric Duncan and was showing no symptoms of ebola, said the State Department.

Carnival Cruise Lines, which operates the vessel, said it was due to return to its home port of Galveston, Texas, on Sunday morning as originally scheduled.

The woman joined the cruise from Galveston last Sunday, before federal health officials updated requirements for active monitoring of anyone exposed to the virus.

She has been self-monitoring with daily temperature checks since 6 October, before she boarded the vessel.

But she has not reported a fever or illness, said the State Department.

Video: Spotting Ebola At Beijing Airport

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