Thursday, August 11, 2005

Rigorous Intuition: Things go sliding (General Kevin P. Byrnes)

Rigorous Intuition: Things go sliding

Things are going to slide in all directions
Won't be nothing you can measure anymore - Leonard Cohen

Is this what it's like when things fly apart?

90 miles an hour down a dead-end street. That's what it feels like I'm doing, just reading the news today. Oh, boy.

There's four-star General Kevin P. Byrnes, near retirement, suddenly relieved as commander of US Army Training and Doctrine Command, headquartered at Fort Monroe, Virgina. The cause was initially vaguely described as "personal conduct," and later refined to "sexual misconduct."

Where's the story? Four-star generals are not relieved for such reasons. Not for any reason, for that matter: "an Army spokeswoman...said no cases in recent history in which a four-star general has been relieved of duty for disciplinary reasons." Listening to Kay Griggs (and though I have problems with some of her analysis, I still find her find-hand testimony convincing and corroborative of what we've learned elsewhere), sexual misconduct would seem to be a common rite of passage up the chain of command in the US military. It's the accusation, and not the practice, which leaves an indelible stain upon a reputation.

So why Byrnes? The Pentagon does not lightly make examples of its officer corp, let alone its four-star generals. As "glooperoo" writes on the RI forum, Byrnes commanded "the military institutions associated with formulating standards of conduct and training soldiers in that conduct." And one of the top military intelligence officers in Iraq when the scandal of Abu Ghraib broke, Major General Barbara G. Fast, recently took command of the US Army Intelligence Center, which operates under the authority of Byrnes' former US Army Training and Doctrine Command.

I don't know what Byrnes' dismissal means, but I know it doesn't mean what it says. And when generals' heads start rolling, it usually means some folks in civvies have gone way beyond nervous.

And if that's not enough, Fort Monroe is holding a little exercise this month:

FORT MONROE, Va. -- Here’s the scenario…A seafaring vessel transporting a 10-kiloton nuclear warhead makes its way into a port off the coast of Charleston, S.C. Terrorists aboard the ship attempt to smuggle the warhead off the ship to detonate it. Is this really a possibility?

Joint Task Force Civil Support (JTF-CS) here is planning its next exercise on the premise that this crisis is indeed plausible.

Sudden Response 05 will take place this August on Fort Monroe and will be carried out as an internal command post exercise.

And there's this modified, limited hang-out with a half-twist: a classified intelligence unit called "Able Danger" identified Mohammed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers as members of an al Qaeda cell in 1999, but "failed to tell law enforcement." Former co-chair of the Kean Commission, Bush family fixer Lee Hamilton, huffs that "had we learned of it obviously it would've been a major focus of our investigation." It always seems too little, and then suddenly, it's too late.

In these perverse times, officially bumping back the date of recognition for Atta et al is viewed as good news for the Bush camp, because hey, 9/11's back, but now it's Bill Clinton's fault. (Clinton's fault, Bush's fault: these aren't serious positions. The fault lies far deeper, beneath the sham spectacle of "partisan politics," and only a few heads, such as Dick Cheney's, ever come bubbling to the surface of public life.) Coincidentally, it was Tommy Franks, mastermind of Osama bin Laden's Tora Bora getaway, who commanded Able Danger, and let Atta take his own powder.

Cascading novelty and truth seepage (the CIA told the Dutch to back off bombmaker Abdul Khan). Crises converging upon a singularity (Iran removes the remaining UN seals on its Isfahan nuclear facility), while a man who really likes the Longhorns is beseiged in his bolt hole by one mother's holy fury.

Is it starting to feel a lot like 2012, or what?

posted by Jeff at 3:00 PM

Anonymous said...

I refer readers to network movie from the 1980s "Special Bulletin" in which exactly the South Carolina scenario is played out - quite terrifying, I wonder if the planners of the maneuvers have seen it?
3:12 PM
Anonymous said...

I don't know if I've been reading too much RI or what, but damn if it doesn't seem we are being prepped for something.
4:04 PM
Anonymous said...

Wayne Madsen ( something about the Byrnes case on his website today:

Sudden resignation of TRADOC Commander, Gen.

There's much more to this story than a "sexual indiscretion." The sudden firing of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine (TRADOC) Commander, four star General and New York City native Kevin P. Byrnes, one of only 11 four star generals in the Army, has much more to do with an anonymous Pentagon-reported case of his involvement in an alleged "extra-marital affair." Although Byrnes has recently been involved in divorce proceedings, Pentagon insiders report that Byrnes was fired for insubordination. Byrnes' firing fits a pattern of neocon demonizing of policy opponents by tossing out unsubstantiated charges from "anonymous source." For example, when Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski was demoted to Colonel over trumped up charges over her role as commander of Iraqi prisons during the time of the prisoner abuse (and after she revealed the presence of Israeli interrogators in Iraqi prisons), the Pentagon spin machine, joined at the hips with neo-con think thanks and media outlets in Washington, cited a dated and totally unsubstantiated shoplifting accusation against her. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, who Donald Rumsfeld hauled out of retirement to head up the Army after Gen. Eric Shinseki was fired and after no other active duty general wanted the job, relieved Byrnes of his command at Fort Monroe, Virginia. Byrnes had previous run-ins with the neo-cons in the Pentagon. In 2002, Byrnes was faced with being retired at Lt. Gen. after he clashed with then-Rumsfeld aide Stephen Cambone over proposed troop strength cuts. Then Army Secretary Thomas White, intervened on behalf of Byrnes and he received his fourth star. White was later fired by the Pentagon neo-cons.

What has not been reported is that recently, one of Byrnes' subordinate commands, Fort Rucker in Alabama, had been told to stand by for an influx of 50,000 military trainees -- a level the base has not seen since the Vietnam War. Byrnes' relief of command came on the heels of the Pentagon announcing that might permit Spanish-language entrance examinations. Byrnes, who was in charge of Army training, would not only face recruits with lower education levels, criminal records, but a lack of proficiency in English. Pentagon insiders report that it was Byrnes' policy disagreements with the Pentagon neo-cons over the new recruitment policies and the potential for calling up Army retirees and reinstating military conscription without adequate TRADOC funding that resulted in his firing. The personal misconduct charges were concocted by the Pentagon to cover up the fact that there are serious disagreements with Bush and Rumsfeld among the flag officer ranks in the military.

Byrnes was also associated with a group of officers who spent time at the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania.

The Army War College has been a center of opposition to the war in Iraq and it is believed that Byrnes was recognized by the neo-cons as one of the unofficial leaders of a group of Army flag rank opponents of Bush's war in Iraq and potential military action against Iran.
4:34 PM
enkidu said...

Kinda odd that on the day of this post, Jeff, one of the "stickies" on the discussion board seems to have broken loose and is drifting downstream--
4:45 PM
Anonymous said...

Two comments:
1) Able Danger is a crock of crap--it's being pushed by Rep. Curt Weldon, who alos touted the "intelligence" of Iran-Contra scamster Menachim Ghobanifar (speeling?. Curtie-poo is also one of the Moonie boys--recall the coronation of the Moon Man in the US Capitol? Weldon was involved in that.
2) TRADOC is much more than merely involved in training and doctrine. A close relative worked for TRADOC as a civilian and prior to that, in its prior incarnation, the Army Security Agency, which was involved in intelligence work--radio intercept to start with, then later as techology developed, all sorts of ELINT and EW. In fact, it's not too much of a stretch to say that one of the reasons that we have reliable and affordable computers is in part due to the Army's need to develop all sorts of reliable battlefield compure equipment.
There could be all sorts of thing going on behind the scenes.
5:03 PM
Anonymous said...

Here's my take on things: given the proclivity for intelligence and 'anti-terror' drills to run coincidentally with major 'terror' attacks, it seems we are being set up for another 9/11 and 7/7 style big Kahuna event. Look for it around Tisha B'av this year to provide a convenient excuse to enact CONPLAN 8022 - the tactical nuclear assault on Iran.

The nuke drill in SC coincides with mainstream media fear mongering about Al-Qaeda suitcase nukes already in the U.S. That a four star general was abruptly relieved of command indicates to me that this level of Operations Northwoods style treason was too much even for that hardened state servant to stomach. Watch out for the service record of that general's successor.
5:38 PM
Steven Lagavulin said...

This strange convergence of seemingly disparate crises has interested me for several years now. And I agree with you completely that things seem to be "speeding up". I really hate to use the term "perfect storm", but...well...there, I just did. That would seem to be what lies in our future. In fact it's this close interconnectedness of all these systems-in-crisis that leads me to believe our problems are not really part of some human "master plan"...they're part of some non-human master plan....

But personally, from my own intuition, while this year has long felt like it was spinning toward an important inflection point, I don't sense a really BIG inflection point before us just yet. As veteran trader Ed Yardini used to say back when CNBC was worth a damn, "we may be going straight to heaven or to hell in a handbasket--but we'll trade our way there!" So in other words, nothing happens in linear fashion--and if we do see a crisis event break upon us soon, my guess is that it will only be a stepping-stone toward something larger, later.

Anyway, my main point in throwing my hat into the ring here is to say that the movement in oil prices lately smells desperate. The term Peak Oil has finally entered the mainstream, and even though the debate in public is pretty glossed-over, traders aren't stupid. I think they're smelling fear...fear fuelled by the realization that the American situation in the Middle-East has reached make-or-break time.

And if that's so then we may see a race to lock-in prices on a dwindling supply of the most important resource in the world. However, on the other hand, our public officials and the media will go into full-scale damage-control mode, so whatever happens...well, we'll trade our way there.

Time will tell.

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