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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
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Happened to be reading the chem weapons treaty. Says disputes settled by the UN. Not US obligation

@WeMeantWell: Happened to be reading the chem weapons treaty. Says disputes settled by the UN. Nowhere does it say US' obligation. http://t.co/ny6ZqS4JKB

Article XII. Measures to Redress a Situation and to Ensure Compliance, Including Sanctions

1. The Conference shall take the necessary measures, as set forth in paragraphs 2, 3 and 4, to ensure compliance with this Convention and to redress and remedy any situation which contravenes the provisions of this Convention. In considering action pursuant to this paragraph, the Conference shall take into account all information and recommendations on the issues submitted by the Executive Council.

2. In cases where a State Party has been requested by the Executive Council to take measures to redress a situation raising problems with regard to its compliance, and where the State Party fails to fulfil the request within the specified time, the Conference may, inter alia, upon the recommendation of the Executive Council, restrict or suspend the State Party's rights and privileges under this Convention until it undertakes the necessary action to conform with its obligations under this Convention.

3. In cases where serious damage to the object and purpose of this Convention may result from activities prohibited under this Convention, in particular by Article I, the Conference may recommend collective measures to States Parties in conformity with international law.

4. The Conference shall, in cases of particular gravity, bring the issue, including relevant information and conclusions, to the attention of the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council.


New paper by chemical weapons specialists @DanKaszeta on the alleged attack in Damascus

@Brown_Moses: New paper by chemical weapons specialists @DanKaszeta on the alleged attack in Damascus on August 21st, good read http://t.co/apKq3N8YMk

About the author: Dan Kaszeta is the author of “CBRN and Hazmat Incidents at Major Public Events: Planning and Response” (Wiley, 2012) as well as a number of magazine articles and conference papers. He has 22 years of experience in CBRN, having served as an officer in the US Army Chemical Corps, as CBRN advisor for the White House Military Office, and as a specialist in the US Secret Service. He now runs Strongpoint Security, a London-based CBRN and antiterrorism consultancy and is also a Senior Research Fellow with the International Institute of Nonproliferation Studies. Mr. Kaszeta also contributes to WikiStrat.

Background paper by Dan Kaszeta, [email protected] Twitter: @DanKaszeta Date: 4 September 2013

Introduction. I have many questions about what actually happened in Damascus, and the amount and quality of information that is coming out of Syria has not been conducive to getting to the bottom of the story. There is ongoing controversy as to what actually happened. Many people, including politicians and the media, are getting many details and technicalities muddled. But these details and technicalities matter. This paper is a really just a list of things that are nagging me. Please do not quote this paper without attributing it to me. The following 13 points encapsulate my current thinking about the incident:

1. Was it Sarin? A rush to declare that the agent involved was Sarin seems to have occurred. I can’t definitively rule out that Sarin was used with the same degree of certainty that others seem to have. The various concerns I aired in my previous paper1 have not been alleviated, particularly with the confusing syndrome of signs and symptoms and the various odors reported.

2. Blood testing for Sarin.It is not likely that anyone is going to be able to directly test blood for sarin. It hydrolyzes (reacts with water) very quickly. And blood is mostly water. The US Government’s own manual says:
Analyzing for parent nerve agents from biomedical matrices, such as blood or urine, is not a viable diagnostic technique for retrospective detection of exposure.2

Anyone who says “there was sarin in the blood sample” probably has the facts wrong. What you can detect is the decomposition products of Sarin or other nerve agents. There is a lengthy chapter in Medical Aspects of Chemical Warfare (2008 ed.) that explains the various assays that can be done for nerve agent biomarkers3. Most involve testing for various phosphonic acids. For example, isopropyl methylphosphonic acid (IMPA) is a degradation product of Sarin.

3. We may be dealing with a nerve agent other than Sarin. Everybody is fixated on Sarin (aka GB), but I can’t determine any rational reason why Sarin seems to be the default diagnosis. There are other nerve agents than Sarin. The general Western CBRN defense community largely operates around the assumption that GA, GB, GD, GF, VX, and Vx are all the options available in the family of nerve agents. Unfortunately, this assumes that all research into the area stopped circa 1960 and nothing better has been developed since. There is no reason to
exclude the possibility that Syria has developed another nerve agent in the G or V family that does not behave in the same way as the “normal” members of the nerve agent family. Indeed, there is a great span of difference between GB and VX, for example, so an agent in the same family could have greatly varied

Much more...

If Assad falls, WE will be the ones fighting the Al Qaeda Syrian rebels to control the chem weapons

You want to see boots on the ground? That is when it happens. We will cut our own throats out of righteousness over 200 people confirmed dead.

Our national interest is in keeping chemical weapons away from jihadis. That's not Assad. It's the people fighting against Assad.

Toshiba has invented a quantum cryptography network that even the NSA can’t hack

If you’ve got communications that absolutely cannot be intercepted—whether you’re a NSA whistleblower, the president of Mexico, or Coca-Cola—quantum cryptography is the way to go.
It harnesses the bizarro-world properties of quantum physics to ensure that information sent from point A to point B isn’t intercepted. The laws of physics dictate that nobody—not even the NSA—can measure a quantum system without disrupting it.
The problem, as Edward Snowden could probably tell you, is that quantum cryptography is still in its infancy. It only works over relatively short distances, and the required gear—including lasers and a dedicated fiber optic network—is prohibitively expensive, limiting its use to a handful of research labs, corporations and governments.

“This kind of communication cannot be defeated by future advances in computing power, nor new mathematical algorithms, nor fancy new engineering,” said co-author Andrew Shields, head of the Quantum Information Group of Toshiba Research Europe. “As long as the laws of physics hold true, it will ensure that your communications are fully secured.”
A quantum network uses specially polarized photons to encode an encryption key—a very long series of numbers and letters that can unlock a digital file. The photons are then sent down a fiber optic cable until they reach their destination, a photon detector, which counts them, and delivers the key to the intended recipient. If the photons are interfered with, the individual packets of information are forever altered and the recipient can see the telltale signs of tampering.


Well I guess I'm done with Howard Dean. How disappointing.


The fragmenting FSA (free Syrian army)

The fragmenting FSA
Posted By Kirk H. Sowell Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 4:07 PM Share

As the United States moves closer to taking military action against the Syrian government, the leadership of the mainstream armed opposition force has chosen a curious time to appear to be on the verge of unraveling. Known generically as the Free Syrian Army (FSA), this assortment of mostly secular defecting Sunni Arab officers and mostly Islamist volunteers has attempted several reorganizations. The most recent of these is now seriously threatened by a resignation threat from senior commanders.

The most durable and potentially promising was the formation of the province-by-province military council (MC) system, formed in late 2011 and early 2012, and then the Supreme Military Council (SMC), established in December 2012. The SMC, whose joint staff is headed by General Salim Idriss, included commanders inside the country as well as exiles and was intended to overcome the gap between commanders on the ground who hold real power and the exiled opposition.

On August 22, four of the five front commanders threatened to resign from the SMC, promising to break "red lines" and work "with all forces fighting in Syria," a clear reference to the war's growing Salafist-Jihadist contingent. The statement was read by Colonel Fatih Hasun, who is the commander of the SMC's Homs Front and the deputy chief-of-staff, that is to say, Idriss's deputy and the most senior officer inside the country. Hasun added that rebels would no longer respect demands by outside powers that they not attempt to take over government-controlled chemical weapons sites. In addition to demanding action in response to the government's use of chemical weapons in Damascus, Hasun also demanded better weapons and said they were tiring of the "false promises of those who call themselves Friends of Syria."

While the resignation seemed tentative, Hasun was less equivocal about the other red line -- the opposition's Salafist-Jihadist groups, Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) -- both of which the United States has designated as terrorist entities linked to al Qaeda. Directly behind Hasun on the wall was an Islamic flag, with a pre-Assad Syria FSA flag draped to the side, a nod perhaps to the Salafists. Sitting to his right was a bearded cleric in Salafist garb. He directly stated, "we call upon all" FSA units to work with all others fighting the regime. Adding insult to injury, on August 25 Muhammad Tabnaja, field commander in Latakia for the Ahfad al-Faruq Brigade in Latakia, resigned citing the lack of support from the SMC.


Special report: We all thought Libya had moved on – it has, but into lawlessness and ruin

A little under two years ago, Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, urged British businessmen to begin “packing their suitcases” and to fly to Libya to share in the reconstruction of the country and exploit an anticipated boom in natural resources.

Yet now Libya has almost entirely stopped producing oil as the government loses control of much of the country to militia fighters.

Mutinying security men have taken over oil ports on the Mediterranean and are seeking to sell crude oil on the black market. Ali Zeidan, Libya’s Prime Minister, has threatened to “bomb from the air and the sea” any oil tanker trying to pick up the illicit oil from the oil terminal guards, who are mostly former rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi and have been on strike over low pay and alleged government corruption since July.

As world attention focused on the coup in Egypt and the poison gas attack in Syria over the past two months, Libya has plunged unnoticed into its worst political and economic crisis since the defeat of Gaddafi two years ago. Government authority is disintegrating in all parts of the country putting in doubt claims by American, British and French politicians that Nato’s military action in Libya in 2011 was an outstanding example of a successful foreign military intervention which should be repeated in Syria.


Obama drew the red line for EVERY PLAYER IN THE MIDDLE EAST. What has he gotten us in to?

But today, he made sure to emphasize that all major players in the region have been informed of where his line falls.

"We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that's a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons," he said. "That would change my calculations significantly."


How U.S. Strikes on Syria Help al Qaeda

With the international community pondering a retaliatory strike against Syria as retribution for its reported use of chemical weapons, the opposition is smitten with joy. For more than two years, it has unsuccessfully tried to drag the world powers from their spectators’ seats into the arena. But though America and its allies appear ready to strike, the Syrian opposition will not benefit. For in the cauldron of chaos that Syria has become, it is the jihadists who control the strongest brigades.

Militants from the Qaeda affiliate the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) kidnap Westerners and fighters from other brigades with impunity. They kill leaders from the rebel-led Free Syrian Army (FSA) without the slightest fear of retribution. ISIS controls key roads, dams, and grain silos, with checkpoints everywhere. In the northern provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, and al-Raqqa, the organization is either the most or second-most powerful brigade. ISIS is an A-Team force among FSA units composed of squabbling Gomer Pyles.

ISIS’s success in Syria is nothing new. In every conflict in which jihadists participate, they quickly become the most dominant fighting force. Several factors account for their supremacy in Syria. Experience from other conflicts—including Chechnya, Iraq, and Mali—provides them with an institutional knowledge of fighting that local combatants often lack. They are frequently the most courageous warriors on the battlefield. Their martial spirit attracts the admiration of locals who seek to join their elite band of brothers. Today, American intelligence agencies believe more than 6,000 foreigners are fighting in Syria.

Unlike indigenous rebels, whose dedication to the cause is as fickle as a teenager’s first crush, jihadists fight for ideological reasons. They believe they are performing a sacred deed by engaging in a jihad, or holy war. The concept is much maligned and misunderstood in the West as a fanatical religious war. A much more nuanced characterization is provided by the Prophet Muhammad’s statement that one should fight “in order that the word of Allah reigns supreme.” Such an exertion can range from bringing Muslims closer to the faith to fostering social cohesion.


7/10/13. Al-Qaida in Syria is most serious terrorist threat to UK, says report

Al-Qaida elements fighting with rebels in Syria constitute the most serious terrorist threat to Britain, and if they were to get their hands on Syria's chemical weapons the consequences could be catastrophic, according to British spymasters.

The warnings, in the latest annual report of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee (ISC) published on Wednesday, come amid growing reports that Syrian rebels are trying to acquire chemical weapons.

Russia said on Wednesday it had proof Syrian rebels used the nerve agent sarin in a missile attack on a government-controlled suburb of Aleppo in March. The British prime minister, David Cameron, said last month that al-Qaida-linked elements in the rebel movement had tried to capture chemical weapons for probable use in Syria.

Britain's security and intelligence chiefs "assess that al-Qaida elements and individual jihadists in Syria currently represent the most worrying emerging terrorist threat to the UK and the west," says the ISC.

It adds: "There is a risk of extremist elements in Syria taking advantage of the permissive environment to develop external attack plans, including against western targets. Large numbers of radicalised individuals have been attracted to the country, including significant numbers from the UK and Europe."

They are likely to acquire "expertise and experience which could significantly increase the threat posed when they return home," says the ISC report. Intelligence officials believe about 100 British Muslims have gone to Syria to join rebel groups.

The ISC reports serious concern about the security of what it calls the "vast stockpiles" of chemical weapons held by the Assad regime.



So who is right? The Brits or Kerry?
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