Archive for 2011

67 Years Ago: Battle Off Samar

October 25th, 2011 by xformed


USS HEERMANN (DD-532) at the Battle off Samar (click for the larger image)

It is the last great sea battle to be fought. It demonstrated much of humanity, the determination of both sides in a massive world war, the individual bravery of men on small ships who charged head long into death, so that those they were tasked with escorting could complete their mission. The Japanese bravely pushed to wipe General MacArthur’s “I Have Returned” landing at Leyte Gulf back into the sea, using the remaining surface forces of battleships and cruisers, only to be defeated by a ambushes the night before in the inland seas of the Philippine Islands, and on the morning of this day, 67 years ago, the likes of CDR Evans, CDR Hathaway, LCDR Copeland and their crews, while aircraft from the escorted CVEs made runs from above, many without bombs and some without even gun ammunition.

Rather than rewrite the story today, I will refer you to the work I produced in 2004, on the 60th Anniversary of this battle.

As I studied this battle more, I came across two other famous battles in history. I discussed them here, as they all have a common thread and a common day.

Side note: I found someone who, as s tribute to a friend, built an 8′ replica of the HEERMANN out of legos! That’s some kind of dedication.

Category: History, Leadership, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy | 1 Comment »

Flt 93 Blogburst: How come the design meeting minutes have been “lost?”

September 24th, 2011 by xformed

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Alec Rawls, who has been working with Tom Burnett Sr. to stop the Crescent of Embrace memorial to Flight 93, explains the circumstances (related by Mr. Burnett in 2008, but not published until now).

Mr. Burnett had been telling his fellow design competition jurors that the crescent is a well known Islamic symbol. In addition to the giant central crescent (now called a broken circle) Tom also objected to the minaret-like Tower of Voices. “I made a point at that meeting,” says Mr. Burnett, “to tell people that we have an Islamist design here that can’t go forward, please, stay with me.”

One of the left-wing design professionals on the jury, Tom Sokolowski (then director of Pittsburg’s Andy Warhol Museum) thought that objecting to the crescent shape, just because it happens to be used by Muslims, was anti-Muslim bigotry. In a rude attempt to shut down criticism, Sokolowski actually called Mr. Burnett “asinine” for objecting to the huge Islamic-shaped Crescent. (Sokolowski would later repeat this performance to the press, calling a local preacher “asinine,” “small minded,” “bigoted,” “repellant,” and “disgusting” for protesting the Crescent design.)

It was in this atmosphere, charged with universal awareness amongst the jurors that the giant crescent was indeed a well-known Islamic symbol shape, but also charged with uncertainty as to whether people would be allowed to mention this fact, that another family member, Sandra Felt, started to explain what she liked about the Crescent design. She liked the “embracing” nature of it, says Mr. Burnett. She liked the way it “reached out…”

At which point another family member “lost it” (Mr. Burnett’s description), screaming in agony: “I don’t want to reach out to those people! THEY MURDERED MY DAUGHTER!”

The Park Service claims it “lost” the minutes

This extreme level of conflict on the jury over perceived Islamic symbolism should have come out years ago. The jury included a designated, non-voting, minutes taker. This was not supposed to be a private deliberation. These were volunteer citizens, doing the people’s business, and the jury minutes were supposed to be made available to the public.

The Memorial Project and the Park Service claim that the minutes were “lost.” No doubt, but that doesn’t mean the loss was accidental, and defenders of the Crescent design had good reason to make the minutes go away. Any faithful record would have been explosive, revealing these fierce objections from multiple Flight 93 family members to the blatant Islamic symbolism in the Crescent design.

The ballot wasn’t supposed to be secret either, but the Park Service refuses to account for what they claim was a 9 to 6 tally in favor of the Crescent design. What does 9 to 6 even mean on what was a ranked vote amongst three designs? Did every ballot that did not rank the Crescent last get counted as a vote in favor?

The whole thing is fishy, and there is one most obvious reason why the defenders of the Crescent might want to keep the vote details hidden. The seven family members on the jury were outnumbered by eight academics and design professionals. Thus all six of the votes against the Crescent could have come from the kin, with only Sandra Felt voting for it. This is more than just possible. It is likely.

Another mother of the murdered said only that she agreed with Mr. Burnett, and he thought that the other two men amongst the family members (Gerald Bingham and Ed Root) were on his side as well, though both have since spoken out against his ongoing effort to rescind the chosen design. Bingham and Root are angry at the anguish that the families are still being put through over the memorial design, but could such men have voted for the Crescent in the first place, in the face of that mother’s anguished cry?

A vicious left-wing ideologue like Sokolowski, yes, but it seems almost inconceivable that family members could vote for a design that other family members saw as a tribute to the terrorists, or at the very least, as reaching out to Islam. Since Bingham and Root are willing to speak out, can they please tell us whether they voted for the Crescent? If they didn’t, then the vote amongst the family members was at least 5 to 2 against.

In support of Powerline’s John Hinderaker

The immediate impetus for making these revelations public now is to support John Hinderaker’s 10th anniversary 9/11 post:

You may remember that there was considerable controversy when the design for the Flight 93 memorial was unveiled. It was called “Crescent of Embrace.” The crescent is, of course, the central symbol of Islam, and the design apparently was intended to symbolize some sort of rapprochement with that religion. The winning design was chosen by a jury, and some members of the jury, including Thomas Burnett, whose son was one of the heroes who brought down the airplane, vigorously opposed it. As I understand it, no one on the jury questioned the Muslim reference inherent in the crescent, but a majority believed that it would somehow be “healing” for the memorial to be, in part at least, a sort of tribute to Islam.

That was John’s response to Tom Sr.’s revelations, and his statement is fully supportable, but for people to know why, the supporting information has to be available to everyone. Now it is.

Given the conflict between Mr. Burnett and Tom Sokolowski, there could not have been any doubt in any juror’s mind that the Crescent was an Islamic symbol shape. Indeed, the jury made a specific request, not honored by the Park Service or by architect Paul Murdoch, that:

The crescent should be referred to as ‘the circle or arc,’ or other words that are not tied to specific religious iconography.

The only question was whether the use of this Islamic symbol shape should be seen as bad, and for a majority to favor the crescent design, a majority just have decided that it wasn’t bad, even in the face of family members who found it horrific.

Maybe these left-wing design professionals actually wanted to torture the families, but the generous interpretation is the one John gives: that they saw the Crescent design as symbolizing “some sort of rapprochement” with Islam. Certainly that seems to have been Sandra Felt’s idea, and at least one family member not on the jury thought it obvious that this must have been the intent of everyone who voted for the Crescent design. Mark Bingham’s mother, Alice Hoglan, just wished that the outreach to Islam had been made explicit:

The Flight 93 Memorial selection committee has admitted to misgivings about the word ‘crescent.’ I almost wish that instead they could claim they deliberately chose the crescent design as a gesture of peace and unity with the Islamic world. If they were to make that claim, I would not object. I would welcome such a compassionate gesture.

Unfortunately, regardless of the intentions of the jurors, architect Paul Murdoch did not have a compassionate gesture in mind.

A terrorist memorial mosque

Mr. Hinderaker’s anniversary post does not investigate whether the giant crescent actually does point to Mecca (allowing it to serve as an Islamic mihrab), or whether the Tower of Voices really is a year-round-accurate Islamic prayer-time sundial. Perfectly understandable, as these claims take some work to check and John had only just learned that the memorial controversy is still aboil, after thinking that it had been resolved in 2005.

But he does provide links to the evidence, and notes that some of it is accessible just by looking. Like why in the world does the Tower of Voices have an Islamic-shaped crescent on top?

UpTowerMid-toneContrast 40,size60%
The minaret-like Tower of Voices is formed in the shape of a crescent and is cut at an angle at the top so that its crescent arms reach up to the sky, as seen on mosque minarets across most of the Islamic world.

Literally dangling down below these symbolic Islamic heavens are the symbolic lives of the 40 heroes. This symbolic damnation is repeated over and over in Murdoch’s design. The memorial is not just any mosque, it is an al Qaeda victory mosque.

So much for trying to reach out to Islam without bothering to vet what part of Islam is being reached out to. Nothing could be worse for the decent people of the Islamic world than to hand a great victory to the very worst in the Islamic world. That is the problem with doing this Muslim-outreach thing on the sly.

Knowing the American people would never go along with intentional Islamic outreach, the Memorial Project had to cover up what actually went on in the jury room, and once they got into cover-up mode, they just kept covering up revelation after revelation about what is actually contained in Murdoch’s design.

Sokolowski’s own vile cover-up: attributing the Crescent choice to the families, after vilifying family members who opposed the Crescent design

Here is how the Post-Gazette reported on local preacher Ron McRae, who believed that architect Paul Murdoch had intended the Crescent as a tribute to Islam:

It’s a memorial to the terrorists,” McRae said. “It’s not a memorial to the innocent Americans who died there.”

But Tom Sokolowski, the director of the Andy Warhol Museum, and one of the Stage II jury members, said that claim is “asinine.”

“If the families of the 40 people who were killed felt this was an appropriate symbol to honor their loved ones, then I think he is delusional,” he said. “To take this small-minded, bigoted view is disgusting and repellent.”

Sokolowski knew that family members on the jury had taken that exact same “disgusting and repellent” view because he had said as much to their faces, and now here he was pretending that it was McRae, not himself, who was vilifying the families. Absolute moral trash of the highest order, even if he is just a feckless little worm. By intent, he is as evil as Murdoch.

Gordon Felt’s defense of the Crescent design is also belied by what transpired on the jury:

Gordon Felt, whose brother, Edward, died in the crash, called the focus on the crescent an “unfortunate distraction,” from the fourth anniversary memorial service tomorrow at the crash site.

Still, he continued, “It would be silly of us to have some sort of symbolism [in the memorial] that would be offensive to people.”

This from the man whose own sister in law had spoken in favor of the “reaching out” symbolism of the Crescent, symbolism that was seen by other family members as intending to reach out to Islam, inspiring the most dreadful offense. All this is FACT, and Gordon Felt waves off any thought of it as “silly.”

Did Gerald Bingham lie in his letter to the Memorial Project?

Mr. Bingham’s letter to the Memorial Project (p. 21 here) was timed to counter Mr. Burnett’s appearance at the 2008 Project meeting. It in-effect calls Mr. Burnett a liar, denying that Tom Sr. had ever raised any protest about Islamic symbolism when they served on the jury together:

Attention: Joanne Hanley
RE: Mr. Tom Burnett’s disapproval of the Memorial scheduled to be built honoring those on United Flight 93

Please read the following letter into the minutes of the Flight 93 board meeting scheduled for August 2, 2008.

I served on the Jury to select the final design for the Flight 93 Memorial along with Mr. Burnett. As I recall, Tom liked the design with a line of rocks along a 2 ½ mile walking trail. He indicated in his discussion with me that when it came to final vote that this would be the design of his choice. After the vote was taken and his design was not chosen he was very upset. Not once during these discussions did he mention that the design chosen by a majority vote of the committee had anything to do with a “symbol to the terrorist” as he is now saying.

The final design was chosen because its’ layout fit the landscape where the plane crashed and kept with the surrounding area.

I believe that Mr. Burnett has forgotten that this memorial is for 40 individual people who were on a flight taken over by terrorists and that all 40 of those people became heroes that day. All he is accomplishing at this point is causing other families aggravation and needless controversy.

We need to forge ahead with the plans as voted upon and join together as one just like our loved-ones did on United Flight 93, September 11, 2001.

Respectfully,
Gerald Bingham
Father of Mark Bingham

Mr. Bingham’s denial that Tom Sr. said anything about Islamic symbolism is contradicted by numerous data points, starting with the fact that Mr. Burnett spoke out to the press immediately after Crescent design was unveiled in 2005:

Tom Burnett Sr., whose son died in the crash, said he made an impassioned speech to his fellow jurors about what he felt the crescent represented.

“I explained this goes back centuries as an old-time Islamic symbol,” Burnett said. “I told them we’d be a laughing stock if we did this.”

But his fellow jurors — and it turns out, many of the other family members — disagree with his interpretation.

“I got blown off.”

But not entirely. The jurors, in their final report, suggested the name of Murdoch’s design be changed from crescent to something with less religious significance, like an arc or circle.

This is corroborated by Helene Fried, who helped to manage the design competition:

Fried said the connection was raised by some history buffs on the jury during three days of deliberations last month.

Compare “old time Islamic symbol,” with “history buffs.” And if the Jury’s statement that the Crescent name is “tied to specific religious iconography” was not in response to Mr. Burnett’s protests, where did it come from? Is Bingham saying that others on the jury were more vehement than Mr. Burnett in pointing out and objecting to this tie?

Then there is Mr. Burnett’s account of Tom Sokolowski calling him “asinine” for objecting to the Islamic symbolism of the crescent. This is corroborated by the fact that Sokolowski used the exact same language to condemn Pastor Ron McRae. Altogether, the evidence is overwhelming that it is Gerald Bingham who is lying when he accuses Mr. Burnett of lying.

For the sake of the families

Bingham makes his motivation clear. He opposes Mr. Burnett because:

All he is accomplishing at this point is causing other families aggravation and needless controversy.

But notice what Bingham doesn’t say. He is willing to discuss how Mr. Burnett voted, but he keeps his own vote secret. (Gerald Bingham has been divorced from Mark Bingham’s mother Alice Hoglan since the 1970’s, so her stated approval of Muslim-outreach in the Flight 93 Memorial should not be linked to him.)

If Bingham voted for the Crescent, his secrecy about his vote would make no sense. Everyone from Sokolowski on up appeals to the will of the families. Bingham himself does this. These appeals obviously turn on whether the nine votes for the Crescent design came from family members or from the cadre of left-wing design professionals who outnumbered the families 8 to 7.

For Bingham’s objective of ending the controversy, the most weighty thing he could say is that he voted for it, but he doesn’t. And how could he have voted for the Crescent? This is a man who is so keen to avoid pain for the families that he is even willing to tell slanderous lies about the one family member he blames for dragging out the controversy. Surely such a man would never have voted in the first place for a design that was already causing the most extreme anguish to multiple family members.

Ed Root is also loud in his condemnations but mum about his vote

Jury member Ed Root also attacks Mr. Burnett and Mr. Rawls for continuing to oppose the Crescent design (p. 22 here):

Those who oppose this Memorial, for whatever misplaced reasons, have voiced their belief on numerous occasions. That is a striking example of the democracy we hold dear. When those unfounded beliefs turn to a zealotry that attempts to overthrow the very democratic process that selected the winning design it does a terrible disservice to those who worked long and diligently during the design process and, to me, it mocks those very 40 that we long to honor. Our nation is one of laws and due process. To let a few destroy what many have built is not democracy, but tyranny.

Yet Root too keeps his vote secret. It could just be embarrassment, not wanting to admit that he voted for such an obvious perversion, crammed to the gills with Islamic-shaped crescents. Or it could be that he was better than that, and despite the magnificence of Murdoch’s Crescent, was unwilling to vote for as design that other family members found so appallingly offensive.

Mr. Burnett says he liked Mr. Root, and it is easy to see why. They both believe the passengers and crew were fighting, not just to stop the terrorist attack, but to get back to their families:

“The people of Flight 93 wanted to live,” Root said while visiting “Father Al” and the chapel in July. “There’s no doubt in my mind, they didn’t want to die.”

That distinguishes the passengers and crew from the hijackers, in Root’s eyes.

“[The passengers and flight attendants] wanted to try to get control of the plane and, if possible, to survive,” he said. “But they knew from all of the phone calls that if they didn’t do something, it would be far worse. So it really is this comparison of philosophies of a free society versus a terrorist society. One is, their cause is death; the other is, their cause is life. And that’s what makes this worthy of a national memorial. That’s what makes this worth being remembered.

Maybe he can join with Mr. Burnett in demanding an explanation for Memorial Superintendent Keith Newlin’s claim that it was the passengers and crew who crashed the airplane: “They are the one’s who brought the plane down,” says Newlin. This is his way of avoiding the implication that the circle-breaking crescent-creating theme of the memorial can only be depicting the actions of the terrorists. “[The terrorists] TRIED to break the peace,” says Newlin, “but they failed.” Surely Root would disagree.

But Root is wrong about who is refusing to respect democratic principles. Their 15 person jury does not take precedence over the will of the nation, clearly expressed in the national uproar over the original Crescent of Embrace design. The Memorial Project promised to remove the offensive features—the Islamic symbol shapes—but they never did. They just disguised them.

“The difference is at best a subtle one”

Thanks to Powerline for exposing this as well:

Crescent and Bowl side by side
Crescent of Embrace, left. Circle of Embrace, right.

They call it a broken circle now, but the unbroken part of the circle, what symbolically remains standing in the wake of 9/11, is just the original Crescent of Embrace. All they did was recolor the graphics, then add an extra arc of trees, placed to the rear of a person facing into the giant crescent, that explicitly represents a broken off part of the circle. As a result, Murdoch’s circle-breaking crescent-creating theme is now even more explicit, and so are its obvious terrorist-memorializing implications.

Will other front-line conservative blogs and publications take notice?

John Hinderaker is a top lawyer, a lifelong expert at evaluating evidence. When he announces that there is serious substance to the Flight 93 controversy, serious people ought to listen.

Everybody understands the difficulty. With multiple Flight 93 family members crying their anguish against anyone who prolongs the controversy, people need to actually look at the facts before taking a position. So take a look! MANY of the facts are perfectly straightforward and utterly damning. Not everyone can be as brave as Pamela Geller, but no one should let the whiff of danger stop them from examining this most important issue.

We’re talking no less than the re-hijacking of Flight 93 by an actual al Qaeda sympathizing architect. Think 9/11 folks. The whiff of danger should be an attractant, a chance to tackle a hijacker. Those lied-to and in some cases lying family members need to have their fat pulled out of the fire. Ride to the sound of the guns.

Category: Geo-Political, History, INternational Relations, Leadership | Comments Off on Flt 93 Blogburst: How come the design meeting minutes have been “lost?”

9/11 – Ten Years Later – My Reflections

September 11th, 2011 by xformed

That day I was retired from the Navy, way in the rear, without any gear of helpfulness to those on the front lines. So, where I was, suffice it to say, I remember, but it wasn’t off significance to the big picture.

That day/event shattered a major belief structure I had held since the summer of 1988: Major, large scale wars have no place in the post Cold War World…think about it: The issues are no longer taking over crop land, but the economic might of the “competing” nations. To go for the scortced earth, have an artillery division take 3 feet of dirt off a sqaure mile does nothing to preserve the economic resources you’re coveting.

After 9 months at War College, reading much more history, to add to the many tomes already ingested, I was thinking we’d be more in the “staring each other down” mode in the future. Prepared to fight, but not doing it in a big way. Bad outcomes on both sides, but then, I didn’t give guerilla forces much of a place in my thinking.

Then came September 11th, and the face of war in the modern era (meaning when I’m living), took a radical turn: A religiously based, ideologially driven, small group of people, not aligned with any one nation, and certainly not organized to meet the definition of the armed force of a soverign nation, without the direct or monetary support from and established nation-state, arrived on the scene, outdoing even the Japanese Naval Forces of 12/7/41, and then stood up to take a bow. Thus Al-Queda became part of the lexicon.

The “Laws of War” were not written to primarly handle this type of conflict. They were designed to “manage” the conflict between nation states, with easily identified military forces, loyal to one flag or another. Guerillas were but a side show. Certainly not without impact, but still a side show, until 9/11/01 arrived.

There went my construct on how conflict would happen in the now definitely post-BiPolar Supwer Power era.

Other things changed. How those combatants, illegal as they were, were to be handled. We got Guantanamo Bay, a place I had frequented as a training base during my time in uniform, converted into a holding facility for those we captured on the battle field. Why? By all I can rekon is we didn’t want to “go there” and handle the illegal combatants (those who were armed and attacking US troops, yet without an identified national uniform or affiliation), and summarily execute them where they were captured. It’s allowed, but, by being compassionate (I’m all in on this one), we then ended up with a situation on our hands as how to ensure justice was done. You know the history of that discussion, which still isn’t completed (despite a pledge to handle this from the current Commander-in-Chief).

We now, as an entire society, began looking over our shoulders, and eyeing suspicious acts of any one around us. Top it off with pre-suspecting every single air passenger as a real possibility of being a hijacker not wanting cash, like D.B. Cooper. On top of the untold billions invested in equipment to clearly show we trusted no one citizen of our nation, the tremendous loss of productivity we have suffered, which I suspect will never be calculated, but it is clearly a cost we have incurred by having to arrive earlier, sit longer, just to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Along the way, we developed an extreme phobia of telling someone else something that might hurt their feelings, such as “If you’re willing to consider killing us for your ideology, we’re willing to try to kill you first to prevent it.”

The phobia then extended to ensure we didn’t inflame those who, by their deeds, had already shown they were upset by us.

And, along the way, it has become acceptable to determine something that happened in the name of Christianity in the 2nd millenia AD, was a workable rationale to give a pass to those who began mass killings in the name of Allah, like the modern world, was still in the Middle East doing something other than run of the mill economic trade and business.

On top of that, while trying to shut out Chritianity as the root cause of the attacker’s anger, therefore justified (in some circles), we have been told to even think someone who subscribes to a faith that clearly has scriptures detailing the destruction of the “infidels,” is Islamophobic and is a crime of hate.

Excuse me, but slaughtering just anyone in their way, Christians, Hindus, Buddists, atheists and Muslims alike is a hate crime to me, but I’m being “intolerant” of saying killing for killings sake is a hateful thing.

Enough of that, so onto a set of rhetorical issues befuddle me:

I’m really missing the point of those who say we “over reacted” or, as on man put it a about a month ago, “we went to war for no reason.” Getting on board with those, like President Clinton, and the early version of President Obama (and I disagree with this, but it helps address the people who think war was not the answer): I’d like to ask them how they have reacted when they are told that a serial murderer is on the loose in their area. I know, as we see this all the time, from both sides of the aisle politically, they demand the law enforcement not rest until the person responsible is found and brought to justice. They want dragnets and sweeps and police to protect them from the threat of being next, and have no problem “judging” the murderer without a trial. So my question would be: What if 2996 people were murdered and that person announced that they had done it and they would do it again, and again, until they had their way with all of you? I think I know the reaction, but the craziness here is they somehow think the 2996 lives lost on 9/11 was no call to action to find those who did it and remove the capability for it to happen anymore, particularly in of the continued statements of future attacks, let alone having seen the actual carnage all over the world, in Europe, India, the Middle East, Malasia, and more places. What kind of a society would we be, saying we are a nation of laws, who turned our backs on that tragedy of 9/11 and said “we can’t respond, we had it coming to us.”?

Anyhow, much has changed. Politicians are fearful of making waves, because we can’t hurt feelings. Small organizations get people to belive they have a big voice, then proceed to peddle disinformation, and we are told they are the experts and do not question tham (side note: We somehow hate corporate lobbyists doing the same thing, but once again, when it’s from an outside force, we must now bow and scape in their general direction, so they don’t do it again…but wait: They tell us they will and then we still cower).

On top of that, it has become fashionable to ask the person on the street their opinion, on complex matters, and honor their answers. We’re not getting any smarter, as seen by standardized tesing, and revisionist history, yet somehow we have to hear from those who lack even a modicum of understanding, as if they are all expert scholars on the subject.

And my last item before stopping rambling: I heard it this morning. On the about to be dedicated “Peace Pole,” the message of “peace on earth” was done in four languages, and particularly in English, as “we need to hera it the most.” I may have missed it, but Arabic native speakers attacked us on 9/11, and have done so for many more years, thankfully overseas, and “we” need to hear it most inplies very strongly we were the cause. And, by the way, the other three languages didn’t include Arabic. At the services, the same leader read a letter from a very close friend who has very recently served in Afghanistan about his year’s tour. The Army Captain was obviously in Civial Affairs, as he was in charge of getting wells put in for the people. In his letter he mentioned, how during his tour, he was amazed at the massive out pouring of help from people all over the US, mostly strnagers to him, to all him to deliver school supplies and so much more to the chldren of Afghanistan. The majority of the letter reiterated how he couldn’t fully comprehend this help sent to a far away US population to people they didn’t even know, just because it was a gift….and “we” who speak English need to hear about “peace on earth” more.

When was the last time the Taliban send school supplies to the mid-West after the tornados, or the mid-Atlantic and North Eastern States in the awake of the hurricane?

So, yes, things have changed. And some people have still not bothered to fully understand we didn’t attack because we “over reacted,” we did it beacuse 2996 people are no longer there to continue conducting “peace on Earth” operations, as they were doing that morning, ten years ago.

Category: 2996 Tribute, Geo-Political, History, INternational Relations, Leadership, Military, Military History, Political, Stream of Consciousness | 1 Comment »

Project 2996: CAPT Gerald DeConto, USN

September 9th, 2011 by xformed

I didn’t know him, yet our service times crossed, and career paths were the same: Surface Warfare Officers.

He died on 9/11/2001 in the Pentagon. He had made his way up the ranks from his graduation from the Naval Academy in 1979, to having had command of the USS SIMPSON (FFG-56).

When he died that day, ten years ago, he already was taking action as a result of the attack on the US. As reported in the Washington Post:

As director of the current operations and plans branch of the Navy Command Center, Capt. Gerald F. DeConto, 44, was organizing the Navy’s response to the World Trade Center attack when he died in the crash at the Pentagon.

In the aggregate of the comments in an online guest book for the victims of 9/11, I’d say this: He respected and was respected by those who served with him and he would go out of his way to help a shipmate move ahead in life.

I see he was the Executive Officer of the USS LAKE EIRE (CG-70), not just any old Executive Officer’s job. I was in a pre-commissioning crew as a division officer, and I had had my fill of the non-naval duties required in such an assignment. CAPT DeConto obviously was up to that challenge, and a commenter in the guest book indicated he did well.

That had to be a quite an assignment, but he had several challenging ones, beginning with his assignment to the mine sweeper USS EXCEL (MSO-439) right out of the Academy. Those are small ships, and the crew is as well, but all the duties of a large ship happen on a small shop, too. The junior officers on small ships learn a lot fast.

A native of Sandwich, MA, he had been blessed to have spent the weekend prior to 9/11/2001 with his mother. That, given the naval life, was quite a blessing from my view.

CAPT DeConto, thank you for your service and sacrifice.

Category: 2996 Tribute, History, Leadership, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy | 3 Comments »

Flt 93 Blogburst: Muslim Consultants LIED to Park Service

September 7th, 2011 by xformed

Photobucket

The Park Service enlisted three outside consultants to assess whether the Crescent of Embrace memorial to Flight 93 really can be seen as a giant mihrab: the Mecca-direction indicator around which every mosque is built. All three consultants, including two Islamic scholars, were blatantly and provably dishonest.

Consultant #1 (details below) confirmed to the Park Service that the giant crescent (now called a broken circle) does indeed point almost exactly at Mecca, then when asked about it by the press, denied that there is any such thing as the direction to Mecca (insisting that “you can face any direction to face Mecca”).

Consultant #2, a professor of Islamic architecture at MIT, lied about one of the most familiar of all Islamic doctrines, claiming that a legitimate mihrab must point exactly at Mecca. (The original Crescent of Embrace pointed less than 2° north of Mecca. The broken-circle “redesign” points less than 3° south of Mecca. Both highly accurate by Islamic standards.)

Consultant #3, a professor of sharia law at Indiana University (!), came up with an almost comically dishonest rationale for dismissing concern about the giant Mecca-oriented crescent: don’t worry, no one has ever seen a mihrab anywhere near this BIG before. Not so funny is the Park Service’s eagerness to embrace such a transparently ludicrous excuse.

The details are documented in a large advertisement that Alec Rawls and Tom Burnett Sr. are running this week in Somerset Pennsylvania as President Obama and the national press arrive in town for the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

The press has so far been unwilling to check even the most basic facts about the memorial, like whether the giant crescent really does point to Mecca (takes about 2 minutes). Maybe charges that the Park Service and its consultants are telling easily verifiable lies will be more up their alley.

That’s the hope, but a strong push might also make the difference. If you want to help, here are email addresses for the new Park Superintendent Keith Newlin and for a few Pennsylvania newspapers. You can write your own letter, or just copy the first four paragraphs above, and tell them that you want these charges checked!

Keith_Newlin@nps.gov, alec@rawls.org, swischnowski@phillynews.com, chepp@phillynews.com, ajohns@tribdem.com, cminemyer@tribdem.com, news@dailyamerican.com, skalson@post-gazette.com, TBirdsong@post-gazette.com, mcollier@sfchronicle.com, newsdesk@kpix.com

Ad copy, with links to documentation

After a brief primer on the giant Islamic crescent-and-star flag that the Park Service is building on the Flight 93 crash site, the ad exposes the three blatantly dishonest consultants that the Park Service invited to please pull the wool over their eyes:

Academic charlatan calculates the direction to Mecca, then tells the press that there is no such thing as the direction to Mecca

Here’s a novel way to deny that the giant crescent points to Mecca. Just deny that there is any such thing as the direction to Mecca. This from the Park Service’s first consultant, as reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Daniel Griffith, a geospatial information sciences professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, said anything can point toward Mecca, because the earth is round.

That is not an errant paraphrase. Griffith said the same thing to Tribune Democrat reporter Kirk Swauger:

He said you can face anywhere to face Mecca.

So when Muslims face Mecca for prayer, they are just deluding themselves? They could actually face any old direction and still be facing Mecca? Is there really no such thing as a direction on planet earth?

Griffith was lying of course, and the Park Service knew it, because the first thing Griffith’s report on the orientation of the Crescent of Embrace does is calculate the direction from Shanksville to Mecca:

I computed an azimuth value from the Flight 93 crater site to Mecca of roughly 55.20°.

“Azimuth” means direction, in degrees clockwise from north. Muslims calculate the direction to Mecca by the “great circle” or “shortest distance” method (“as the crow flies,” curving only in the over-the-horizon direction), and this is the method Griffith used. He also accepted that the Crescent in the original design drawings points a mere .62° away from Mecca (about a degree closer than it actually points, but no matter).

In short, Griffith confirmed the Mecca-orientation of the giant crescent, then denied it to the public, but the Park Service knew the truth, because they had Griffith’s actual report. Thus when the Park Service repeated Griffith’s denials that the giant crescent points to Mecca, they too were knowingly hiding the truth from the public. One example is the previous Park Superintendent Joanne Hanley. Asked directly whether the giant crescent points to Mecca she denied it, telling the Post Gazette that:

The only thing that orients the memorial is the crash site.

The Mecca-orientation of the giant crescent is clear evidence of an enemy plot to re-hijack Flight 93. The American people need to know the facts, while these public figures have worked desperately to keep the facts from them.

Muslim consultant from MIT lied about one of the most familiar of all Islamic doctrines, claiming Mecca-orientation must be exact

After Griffith verified that the crescent/broken-circle does indeed point almost exactly at Mecca, the Park Service asked two Islamic scholars whether there was any Islamic significance to this giant Mecca-oriented crescent. Could it by any chance be seen as a giant mihrab? After all, the archetypical mihrab IS crescent shaped.

The Park Service’s second consultant, a professor of Islamic and mosque architecture at M.I.T. named Nasser Rabbat, assured the Park Service that because the crescent does not point exactly at Mecca it cannot be seen as a mihrab:

Mihrab orientation is either correct or not. It cannot be off by some degrees.

That is a bald lie, and every practicing Muslim knows it. For most of Islam’s 1400 year history far-flung Muslims had no accurate way to determine the direction to Mecca. Thus it developed as a matter of religious principle that what matters is intent to face Mecca, with no requirement for precision in actually facing Mecca. Two or three degrees off is highly precise by Islamic standards. Many of the world’s most famous mihrabs face 20, 30, 40 or more degrees away from Mecca and it matters not one whit.

Every practicing Muslim knows that they only need to face very roughly towards Mecca for prayer because they are constantly availing themselves of this allowance when, five times a day, they seek out walls that they can pray towards that will leave them facing roughly towards Mecca. Not having to face exactly at Mecca for prayer is one of the most familiar of all Islamic doctrines.

Saudi religious authorities confirm: mihrab orientation does NOT have to be
exact

The mihrab-orientation issue came up in 2009 when the denizens of Mecca itself realized that even their local mosques only face very roughly towards the Kaaba. is is an unusual case because the people who built these mosques couldn’t say they didn’t know the actual direction to the Kaaba. They could see it. No problem, according to the Saudi Islamic Affairs Ministry, which assured worshippers that, “it does not affect the prayers.”

Nobody would know this better than Nasser Rabbat, who actually teaches mosque design. Indeed, he would know the full basis for the primacy of intent: that intent is given preeminence throughout Islamic teaching, not just in Mecca-orientation. For instance, Islam’s first instruction to converts is that they are supposed to lie about their religion (Tabari 8.23):

en Nu’aym came to the Prophet. ‘I’ve become a Muslim, but my tribe does not know of my Islam; so command me whatever you will.’ Muhammad said, ‘Make them abandon each other if you can so that they will leave us; for war is deception.’

What matters in Islam is not whether Muslims tell the truth, but whether their intent is to advance Islamic conquest.

Of course we made sure the Park Service saw the proof from the Saudi Islamic A airs Ministry that their Muslim consultant had lied to them about the Mecca-orientation of a mihrab needing to be exact. That was a couple of years ago now. If they had any integrity they would re-open their investigation, but then if they had any integrity they would never have handed their watchdog role over to a pair of Muslim consultants in the first place.

Islamic scholar from Indiana University says don’t worry, no one has ever seen a mihrab anywhere near this BIG before

Kevin Jaques, a professor of Islamic sharia law at Indiana University, does not say whether he is Muslim (remember Tabari 8.23: converts who live amongst the infidels are supposed to hide their religion), but he did write an article right after 9/11 urging that any U.S. response should be based on the principles of sharia law, so he pretty much has to be Muslim. He is definitely an Islamophile.

Professor Jaques’ report to the Park Service acknowledges that the crescent is geometrically similar to the Mecca-direction indicator around which every mosque is built, but dismisses any concern about Islamic symbolism on the grounds that no one has ever seen a mihrab anywhere near this BIG before:

… most mihrabs are small, rarely larger than the figure of a man, although some of the more ornamental ones can be larger, but nothing as large as the crescent found in the site design. It is unlikely that most Muslims would walk into the area of the circle/crescent and see a mihrab because it is well beyond their limit of experience. Again, just because it is similar does not make it the same.

You know, like no one can recognize Abe Lincoln’s likeness on Mount Rushmore. It’s just too darn big for ordinary folks to get their tiny little minds around, and the Flight 93 crescent is much bigger than that. It’s actually big enough to be easily visible from airliners like Flight 93 passing overhead. The scale would be epic beyond belief so … don’t believe it!

[Jaques full comment was left anonymously on this radical fruitcake left-wing blog (scroll to the last comment at the bottom). It can be identified as Jaques’ because a chunk of the text is identical to what the Memorial Project released a few months later, naming Jaques as the source. Notice that the Park Service did not release the revealing part of Jaques’ statement, where he acknowledges that the giant crescent IS similar to a mihrab, but is too big to worry about.]

Too big to worry about is not technically a lie perhaps, but it is a transparently dishonest excuse. That it was good enough for the Park Service shows how badly they wanted to be deceived. It would even be funny if the issue were not so deadly serious. Muslims are not allowed to deceive for just any reason. Orthodox doctrine tells them to deceive when by doing so they can advance the cause of Islamic conquest, and one of the oldest traditions of Islamic conquest is the building of victory mosques on the sites of their attacks.

To be completely certain that the memorial is actually intended to be a mosque one has to work through Murdoch’s endless proofs of intent: his elaborate repetition of the Mecca-orientations, the year-round accurate Islamic prayer-time sundial (tomorrow’s ad), the 38 instead of 40 Memorial Groves (Thursday’s ad), etcetera. But the Park Service’s extensive lying to the public about the most basic facts of the design should by itself be a clarion call to everyone to insist on an independent investigation. The Service’s own internal investigation was nothing but proven lies from beginning to end. That is not acceptable!

Neither is the news media’s consistent refusal to check and report the facts. News-people all know that Muslims face Mecca for prayer, yet the Post-Gazette did not question Griffith’s claim that “anything can point to Mecca, because the earth is round.” They too are complicit in foisting this lie on the public. Every reporter who reads this ad and does not try to fact-check our easy-to-verify claims is part of the problem.

What this means, people, is that you have to stand up on your own. Your opinion leaders have abandoned you to this Islamic assault, but if you do stand up to your supposed betters, if you check the facts for yourselves and demand that the press and the government conduct proper investigations, then Murdoch’s plot can still be undone. The hijacker can still be ousted from the cockpit. Now that would be a fitting memorial to Flight 93.

Alec Rawls and Tom Burnett Sr.

Category: Geo-Political, History, Leadership, Political, Public Service | Comments Off on Flt 93 Blogburst: Muslim Consultants LIED to Park Service

It’s VALOur-IT Time Again!

July 1st, 2011 by xformed

The fund drive will run from today through the 14th of July. Don’t know what VALOur-IT is? Click the link.

The reader’s digest version: For those wounded with sight or mobility issues keeping them from using a computer like most people do, Soldier’s Angels has a project to provide new laptop computers with Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software to them. Their to keep, to help them get re-connected with family and friends and battle buddies, and for the future, it’s good work skill development.

So…spread the word, beat the bushes, spam your email list, beg at the local Starbucks for help for this wonderful program that has provided now in excess of 6000+ laptops!

Donate to Soldier’s Angels Project Valour-IT

Soldier's Angels Team Navy

Chip in…it’s well worth the money and it is changed/has changed lives.

Category: Air Force, Army, Blogging, Charities, Coast Guard, Jointness, Marines, Military, Military History, Navy, Public Service, Supporting the Troops, Valour-IT | Comments Off on It’s VALOur-IT Time Again!

Back in (partial) battery

June 17th, 2011 by xformed

Been a bit of a slog. Lots of real world work and family time, and will have to cobble together all the changes I was so used to in this theme I’ve used for 4 years. It broke and wouldn’t let me get to the blog, or the dashboard of WordPress. Had to use some “old school” muck around in the database and MySQL password arena to get it to this stage, now will try to ship the edited theme files back over, hopefully without serious interruption….

So…on with the show over the next week, to get ready to 2011 VALOur-IT…Yeah…get out your plastic and get ready to donate…

Category: Blogging | Comments Off on Back in (partial) battery

Close Air Support for Special Operations: Buy American or foriegn?

April 8th, 2011 by xformed

Considering the economics of keeping jobs at home, if you will, but there is a larger issue: Keeping the capability to fully control the construction and support for military equipment operated by our Military.

As was the case of the recent replacement air refueling tanker, we are heading for another major acquisition for the Military, this time for small, capable turbo prop aircraft to be used in the type of combat we have seen for longer than the decade of the GWOT/”Foreign Contingency” we have been engaged in since the Korean Conflict.. These aircraft are to used in very forward areas in support of the Special Operations teams (Green Berets and SEALs most specifically), where large, modern aircraft, designed to also be superior air combat fighters are:

1) Too fast
2) Too expensive to operate
3) Need too much support
4) and generally need really long runways.

I received an email with a guest post discussing this matter, where the competitors for the contract are Hawker-Beechcraft (US firm) and Embraer (Brazilian firm) for the USAF Light Air Support Aircraft work.

Pragmatically, Hawker-Beechcraft are already producing the AT-6 Texan II, which is in use as an Air Force trainer. Logistically, the USAF has parts, procedures and trained ground crews, not to mention pilots in this airframe. What’s not to like from a bean counter stand point with that, let alone a serious warfighter, who knows it’s the logistics that count after the first load of ammo is expended?

So, here’s something from Emily to chew on regarding this issue:

The most basic respect our country can give to Americans bravely serving in the Armed Forces is providing them with the proper tools so they can be prepared and equipped to handle any combat situation. In the past, supplying this need has always been met through American ingenuity. We design, build, and sell the equipment that is used the world over. America has always set the trends in the defense industry.

However, recent actions by other countries are in danger of circumventing this competitive defensive advantage that America has held. By subsidizing private companies, foreign competitors have an unfair advantage over American ones. These actions undermine fair competition in the marketplace and put American manufacturing at a disadvantage.

We have seen this trend played out over the last several years as the American icon, Boeing competed with EADS, it’s European competitor to replace the Eisenhower-era refueling tankers for the Air Force. After much public outcry, the Pentagon made the right decision and awarded the contract to Boeing.

Today, we have another, very similar competition. Hawker Beechcraft, headquartered in the heart of Kansas, is competing with a Brazilian company, Embrear, to build planes that will be utilized in combat zones like Afghanistan. Embrear, like EADS, receives substantial support from the Brazilian government, allowing them to offer an artificially low price for their planes. What is especially troubling is that the Brazilian government has publicly opposed the War on Terror and American efforts against Iran and Venezuela, but now seeks to profit from that same U.S. commitment to military strength.

Recently Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) sent a letter to the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee requesting an investigation of the global competitiveness of the U.S. business jet industry. Jenkins remarked:

“In a down economy, which has been particularly hard on the aviation industry, it is very concerning that foreign government backed companies have launched new product lines into the business aviation market. It is important that we know whether these foreign companies are receiving illegal governmental subsidies to alter the playing field. The aviation industry is important to both the Kansas and the American economy and we must ensure their competitive edge is not being unfairly diminished.”

We need to ask ourselves – where should our defense spending go? To middle America, to states who are struggling to recover from the recession that has rocked our country? Or to South America, namely a country who calls itself an ally but has shown no support in our efforts to fight terrorism?

Boeing won their fight, let’s make sure Hawker Beechcraft does too.

Our special operations teams need this capability. In Vietnam, the SEALs and units like VAL-4 worked closely on operations in mutual support.

Call to action: Make a decision on what’s right for our Military and let your Congressmen know.

Category: Air Force, History, Marines, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy, Political, Supporting the Troops | 1 Comment »

Do You Have Any Pensacola Fight Training Stories?

March 16th, 2011 by xformed

If so, are you willing to share? Yes, you have your opportunity now to relive those days and share them in print!

Via the WRAP Pac crew, I was asked if I could get the word out that published author Bob Taylor (“A Few Good Memories”) has embarked on a second writing project to collect and edit your stories.

He has a site up: Getting Your Wings to allow for easy input, but his email address is roarta at hotmail.com.

Time to ante up and share your personal history, high and low jinks with the rest of the world. Just remember, it’s all for the sake of history.

For those reading this, with and without your personal experience in Pensacola, please pass it along to your shipmates and family members and friends who may be connected with those who would like to participate.

Category: Blogging, History, Marines, Maritime Matters, Military, Navy, Public Service | Comments Off on Do You Have Any Pensacola Fight Training Stories?

2/25/2011 “WRAP Pack” CNA and Birthday Celebration

March 11th, 2011 by xformed

As is the manner of it is to gather every other Saturday AM, last time we met, we celebrated the birthday of two of our members (2 USMC (Ret) Colonels), as well a recognition of the Centennial of Naval Aviation (CNA).

If you have an excellent eye for history, there is some of them in the video…..

The creator of the document that became known to me as the “EDORM” (Engineering Department Regulation and Organizational Manual) is present,

along with the high time and most traps pilot in the Vought F7U Cutlass. A RA-5C NFO, several P2V/P-3 pilots, three “‘Shoes,” two Army types from the Vietnam Era, a A-1 pilot with VA-196, and a Navy Cross recipient are all around the table, as well as the two senior Marines, who both flew in WWII.

Category: Army, History, Marines, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy | Comments Off on 2/25/2011 “WRAP Pack” CNA and Birthday Celebration

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