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January 2014

Snowden, the Government & You

I have another post up at my day job about our good friend,well actually enemy, Mr. Snowden and some of the implications of the info he spread around the world.

Edward Snowden is now a pawn in a couple of games much bigger than himself. After the NSA incident, he fled to Hong Kong and provided information about US Intelligence operations to the Chinese press. He then moved on to Russia where he has been granted temporary asylum. Neither of these countries is a friend of the United States, and we don't really know what he may have given or what they may have taken. We will see how much Mr. Snowden likes Russian hospitality once Putin decides he is no longer a useful tool. If we ever get our hands on him, he will join Manning at Leavenworth making little rocks out of big ones.

With Friends Like These...

...well, now, we have more enemies...

USFOR-A condemns ordered release of detainees

KABUL, Afghanistan – U.S. Forces-Afghanistan has learned that under direction of the Afghan government, the Afghan Review Board, led by Abdul Shakoor Dadras, has ordered the release of the first 37 of 88 dangerous individuals under dispute who are legitimate threats to security and for whom there is strong evidence or investigative leads supporting prosecution or further investigation. 

This extra-judicial release of detainees is a major step backward in further developing the rule of law in Afghanistan. The ARB is releasing these individuals without referral to an investigative body or the Afghan justice system despite the fact that the U.S. has disputed these 88 cases. 

The U.S. has exercised its option under the March 2013 Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to dispute the release of these individuals and seek a bilateral exchange of views in all 88 disputed cases. The ARB was established to provide an administrative review of former U.S. Law of Armed Conflict detainees transitioning to the Afghan criminal justice system. 

Of the 88 detainees under dispute, 40 percent have participated in direct attacks wounding or killing 57 Afghan citizens and security force members and 30 percent participated in direct attacks wounding or killing 60 U.S. or coalition force members. 

The U.S. has provided extensive information and evidence on each of the 88 detainees. The disputed cases contain strong evidence of violations of Afghan law or strong investigative leads requiring review by the Saranwal for prosecution or further investigation by the National Directorate of Security. 

The ARB is releasing back to society dangerous insurgents who have Afghan blood on their hands. The 37 being released include 17 who are linked to the production of or attacks using improvised explosive devices; three who participated in or had knowledge of direct attacks wounding or killing 11 ANSF members; and four who participated in or had knowledge of direct attacks wounding or killing 42 U.S. or coalition force members.

Read more: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/119682/usfor-condemns-ordered-release-detainees#.Uufn_BDnZpg#ixzz2riOxgcB4

More commentary over at This Ain't Hell where Jonn points out how well the Taliban are treating the Afghans.

Photo: Man the Rails!

Hires_140119-N-UD469-321cU.S. sailors man the rails aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Stout as the ship prepares for a scheduled port visit in Haifa, Israel, Jan. 19, 2014. The Stout is on a scheduled deployment supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Amanda R. Gray

Book Review - "City of Mirrors"

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the far right side bar.

9781605984681_p0_v1_s260x420Melodie Johnson Howe’s latest serial novel, City of Mirrors, introduces the character Diana Poole.  She is one of those actresses where you recognize the face but cannot place the name.  The mystery is not whether Diana will find work but her discovery of a young actress’ body, Jenny Parson.  This book is a compelling view of Hollywood’s dark side as Diana, along with fixer Leo Heath, must find the killer or risk death.

Diana Poole is trying to put her life together after her husband’s death, and in need of money must find work, something not easy to do for an actress over forty.  She finally lands an acting job after being out of the business for a number of years.  Knowing that people in this business go to dangerous lengths to protect their images Diana realizes her life is in danger since she was the one to discover the murdered actress. She elicits the help of the fixer Heath and together they search out the killer while forming a bond.

The author “Hopes that my readers will like Diana and view her as someone they could sit down and have a cup of coffee with. She is a survivor in a business that many people, especially women, don’t survive.  My intention was to show what Hollywood is really like from a working actress, not a red carpet actress’, point of view.  Because people in this business have giant egos I am able to create an atmosphere of mayhem.”

Through Diana’s eyes readers will discover how the Hollywood rich and famous live. Having been an actress herself Howe knows the ins and outs of the Hollywood scene and magnificently intertwines it in the mystery, making “Hollywood” a supporting character.  Diana is someone witty, intelligent, likeable, and does not take herself too seriously.  Yet, she is also vulnerable, especially as she struggles to understand her relationship with her famous mother, Nora, who has recently died.

Howe noted to blackfive.net, “If you are a creative and driven person as my character Nora Poole was you find that there is a stronger need to be that red carpet actress than to be a loving mother. I think this happens a lot in Hollywood.  I want to explore more, probably in the next book, how it is that Hollywood children have no sense of home. Throughout my novels I write about the mother-daughter relationship.  Even though Diana was ill treated she is attempting to respect her mother.”

The title, City of Mirrors, says it all.  This novel is one reflection after another.  It is a complex tale with a dark and twisting plot.  The author blends humor and suspense to create a very interesting story.

Admiral Mullen addresses CVA and Weekly Standard, receives a healthy dose of skeptism

Commander Salamander has a write up about a recent speech that Admiral (ret) Mullen made to Concerned Veterans of America.  I think most of you will agree with his assessment (not just that the Admiral needs to take a break).

Anyway, at a breakfast hosted by Concerned Veterans for America and The Weekly Standard, Admiral Mullen has put a few thing out there that are a strange mix of being off the track and making a good point...

Go to CDR Salamander's post and read what the Admiral said and Sal's response.


What Richard Sherman Taught Us About America.

This may be a bit afield from normal Blackfive fare, but we are all affected by the issues raised when this occurred.

To quickly recap; at the end of the rather exciting SF 49ers/Seattle Seahawks NFC Championship game, Seatle defensive back Richard Sherman, who made the game ending play, was interviewed by Erin Andrews.  In it, he was rather unkind to the receiver he just defensed and said so.

The subsequent and immediate reaction was quite negative toward Sherman in particular and the Seahawks/football players/and other categories in general.  There were firestorms in both sports and regular media.

What did not occur much was a consideration of the actual person.  And those that did (and were not previously familiar with Sherman) were surprised to learn that he's actually a much more robust personality than perceived. 

Isaac Saul of the Huffington Post wrote a piece on what the incident "taught" America.  It is well done, and worth your time to read.

What Richard Sherman Taught Us About America

For me, the concluding paragraph was spot on:

when Richard Sherman went on his rant to Erin Andrews, most of America thought they were learning about the arrogance of another NFL player. But in reality, what Richard Sherman did was teach us about ourselves. He taught us that we're still a country that isn't ready for lower-class Americans from neighborhoods like Compton to succeed. We're still a country that can't decipher a person's character. But most of all, he taught us that no matter what you overcome in your life, we're still a country that can't accept someone if they're a little louder, a little prouder, or a little different from the people we surround ourselves with.


As an aside, and to lighten the mood a tad:  I am agnostic on this from a fan perspective.  But the first time I saw this video, i became much more of a Richard Sherman fan (and the young fan is adorable).  Richard Sherman Meets Littlest Big Fan

Photo: January 21, 1991 - Behind Enemy Lines

1521270_10152209837231303_1741827755_nThis rescue photo is of the first save of Desert Storm that took place today in 1991. An MH-53J from the 20th Special Operations Squadron, piloted by Capt. Thomas Trask, rescued a downed USN F-14 pilot, Lt. Devon Jones, 130 miles into Iraq. This was the first combat rescue behind enemy lines since Vietnam.  Photo via USAF Special Operations Command.

USAFSOC Facebook page here.

Book Review - "Hunting Shadows" by Charles Todd

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on Books category on the far right side bar.

9780062237118_p0_v7_s260x420Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd, the mother-son writing team, once again has Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge attempting to solve a murder case.  Their books are part historical novels and part gripping thrillers that are always character based. Readers who live in the technology age should find it fascinating how the protagonists must solve the crimes by studying human character and behavior and not with DNA or forensic evidence. 

The plot begins when a sniper shoots a former British captain during a wedding at Ely Cathedral.  As the investigation widens a political candidate is also gunned down, with a witness claiming the shooter a monster.  Because of the double murder, Scotland Yard becomes involved and sends Ian Rutledge to investigate.  This tale becomes very complicated and complex as there are a number of twists regarding the suspects.

As in all Todd novels they explore different issues of the WWI era.  Through the voice of a dead comrade, Corporal Hamish, shell shock, known today as PTSD, is examined along with the attitude towards snipers.  Besides the subject of soldiers scarred by war readers are able to learn how young single women were doomed to spinsterhood due to the large number of men lost in the war.

The Todds told blackfive.net, “We put the quote about snipers, ‘I wasn’t ashamed of what I did. It saved lives, my skill,’ because in pre Viet Nam wars snipers were not looked upon favorably. Many of the British, during WWI, despised snipers, including their own. It wasn’t sporting to kill by sniping. It was not considered gentlemanly, shooting a man from ambush.  The attitude was not like it is today where the sniper skill is recognized as doing a service for their fellow teammates. In fact, in 1920 snipers lied to people on what they did in the war because of the shame.”

The setting takes on an importance as it becomes vital to the plot.  Through the vast descriptions, the reader feels as if they were in Rutledge’s motorcar.  The creaking windmill in the low-lying Fens along with the fog and heavy rain makes the mystery eerier. The authors noted that they do extensive research including “traveling to England at least once a year.  For this book we went to the Cathedral to scope out where the sniper could hide as he killed.  We wanted to find villages that were isolated which would fit into the storyline.  The landscape was very important to the plot.”

They gave blackfive.net a heads up about their next book, due out in the summer.  It will be a Bess Crawford novel, An Unwilling Accomplice. Bess is on leave from her duties in France and is asked to take a wounded soldier to the palace for a medal awards ceremony.  After the ceremony her charge disappears and she is blamed. This leads to her having to prove that she is not in any way involved in the conspiracy leading to his disappearance.

Hunting Shadows is cleverly written.  The reader is led down one path only to find through the many twists that there are other possibilities.  The story is very riveting and informative that will keep people’s attention throughout.

Happy Tenth Birthday to the Jawa Report!

JawaKeggerDr Rusty over at the Jawa Report posted a 10 year anniversary message.  Here's a taste:

...I started this blog with the intent of being a minor nuissance. I think I've done that here. It's a low bar, I know, but this is a blog. A web log. A personal diary of my thoughts and the thoughts of a few of my friends. I never expected it to last 10 years. I never expected to do anything more than amuse myself and maybe a few of my friends. The fact that I've been able to do any good with it and have any impact at all means I've exceeded all of my hopes and expectations for it...

First, welcome to the 10 Year+ Club!

Second, the Jawa Report has taken on terrorism and terrorists head on.  Extreme risks have been taken.  In order to simply fight evil.  Period.  We here at BlackFive salute you guys. 

Happy 10th, Jawa Report!

Check out this new link from Rusty. I agree with the changes to blogging over the last 10+ years...