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When purple things are pulsating on your mind, I'm the one whose clock you want to clean. Aiding is Sparky, the Astral Plane Zen Pup Dog from his mountain stronghold on the Northernmost Island of the Happy Ninja Island chain, this blog will also act as a journal to my wacky antics at an entertainment company and the progress of my self published comic book, The Deposit Man which only appears when I damn well feel like it. Real Soon Now.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Sparky: Some briefs but no babes - we're taking a break this 'Black Friday'

Bush backtracks over legal status of alleged "Dirty Bomber" Jose Padilla

November 23, 2005

José Padilla's Florida driver's license photo
José Padilla's Florida driver's license photo

President George W. Bush ordered Jose Padilla, detained by the US Military as an alleged terrorist, to be transferred out of military custody in order to face trial in a federal criminal court. He is charged with conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, aiding terrorist groups and other acts against US nationals outside the United States. These actions come six days ahead of a decision by the US Supreme Court on whether it should review the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal's ruling that the president is authorised to hold Padilla as an "Enemy Combatant" without charge.

Jose Padilla, a US citizen born in Brooklyn, has been held without charge in a military brig at a US Navy detention facility in South Carolina for the three-and-a-half years since his arrest in 2002. The administration had at the time alleged that Padilla was plotting to detonate a Radioactive "dirty" bomb in the US and later, Deputy Attorney General James Comey alleged that he was involved in plots to blow up Hotels and high-rise buildings[1]. The present indictment does not include any charges over these allegations. Instead, Padiall is charged with travelling abroad to train in "violent Jihad", providing material support to terrorists by sending money, physical assets, and new recruits to Jihadi groups, and conspiring to murder individuals overseas[2].

The change in custody restores to Padilla a number of rights he had been denied when the administration designated him as an "Enemy Combatant", including the right to access federal courts and be defended by an attorney. That constitutionality of detaining suspects without charge under this designation has been challenged in court, on behalf of Padilla and in September, a 3-judge panel of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the government's powers to detain Padilla. The Supreme Court was set to decide on whether it will review that decision next week. Padilla's status, for the purpose of this trial, is that of an ordinary criminal indictee, possessing the legal rights conferred on him by the US Bill of Rights.

Constitutionality of Padilla's Detention

The existence of the classification of "enemy combatant" has no precedent in either US or international law, and allows detention without reference to the customary judicial protections for criminal defendants in the US, and also without reference to the acts of congress and the agreements made in the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war.

Several precedents exist for the habeas petition put forth by Padilla's attorney, Donna Newman. In June 2004, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Yaser Hamdi that enemy combatants captured on foreign battlefields were entitled to some due process determination of their status. Hamdi was released on condition that he remain in his parent's homeland Saudi Arabia. Hamdi is a US citizen who had been captured among Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and who was similarly classified as an enemy combatant. In a case decided around the same time, the high court ruled that prisoners at Guantánamo could seek habeas relief in US courts. It, however, avoided ruling on Padilla’s petition and voted 5-4 that Padilla's initial appeal should have been in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was being held, rather than in New York, where he was first held as a material witness.

Padilla’s attorney, Donna Newman, filed a new habeas petition in South Carolina, where United States District Judge Henry F. Floyd ruled that Padilla was required to be charged with a crime or released. Floyd wrote of the Bush administration’s position that “were ever adopted by the courts, it would totally eviscerate the limits placed on presidential authority to protect the citizenry’s individual liberties”. Floyd is one of the justices appointed by President Bush. Floyd’s decision was reversed in September of 2005 by a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, led by Michael J. Luttig. Luttig claimed that Padilla served as a guard for the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan during the period that US troops were engaged in combat against those organizations, and that he then “traveled to the United States for the avowed purpose of further prosecuting that war on American soil, against American citizens and targets”.

Padilla filed a second petition last month with the Supreme Court that was aimed at appealing Luttig’s ruling. Padilla’s lawyers intend to continue to proceed in the Supreme Court after the release of their client from military custody. Andrew Patel, Newman’s co-counsel, said on the radio show Democracy Now! that “the threat posed by the Bush administration’s invocation of the "enemy combatant" doctrine still exists". Patel further stated in opposition to the claim by Gonzales claim during the Tuesday indictment announcement that the case is moot, "We will ask the Court to consider this very important issue. Not only is it not moot as to Mr. Padilla—for example, suppose he was acquitted of this charge or the case was somehow dismissed, and the government decided that, 'Well, we don’t want him out,' and they just declare him to be an enemy combatant and send him back to the brig again. Until the Supreme Court rules that the president does not have that power, that's an authority, as Justice Jackson said in his dissent to Korematsu [the World War II Japanese-American internment case], that lies around like a loaded gun ready to be used or abused at any time."

Padilla's detension and present Indictment

The development of this case began with Padilla's arrest at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in May of 2002. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft announced in June of the same year that a plot to explode a radioactive dirty bomb in America had been stopped; and described as a goal of several Al Qaeda operatives, including Padilla. On this basis, President Bush declared Padilla to be an “enemy combatant,” and authorized his transfer to a Naval brig, with the requisite limitations on his developing of a defense thus imposed by the classification. By June 2004, court reverses allowed Padilla to meet with legal council. Additional charges of plotting to destroy hotels and apartment buildings were claimed against Padilla by the Justice Department. These charges, however, were not included in the indictment released Tuesday.

This indictment focused on conspiracy charges against Padilla, particularly that he conspired with Adham Amin Hassoun, Kifah Wael Jayyousi, Mohammed Hesham Youssef and Kassem Daher to send funds, physical assets and recruits intended to continue fighting in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bosnia, Chechnya, Lebanon, Libya and Somalia. Further, it is charged that this was done through multiple front groups, including the American Islamic Group, the Islamic Center of the Americas, and Save Bosnia Now. The support for this conspiracy is claimed to have begun in 1993 and continue until November 2001 and consists of conversations obtained by wiretaps including alleged code words including "friends,” “football,” “tourism,” “fresh air,” and “picnics,”. The indictment further includes various payments of ranges from 1,000 to 5,000 USD. Padilla is mentioned as a "recruit" who had traveled to Egypt and Afghanistan where he completed a “Mujahideen Data Form”. He is not alleged to have engaged in any violent activities.

Gonzales also alleged that the conspiracy advocated "acts of physical violence such as murder, maiming, kidnapping and hostage-taking against innocent civilians," but this was not included in the Tuesday indictment.


M4 Carbine

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US M4 Carbine
Technical Summary
Caliber: 5.56 mm NATO
Firearm action: Gas-actuated Rotating bolt
Designed by: Derived from Eugene Stoner's AR-15 design
Barrel Length: 14.5 in (368.3 mm)
Overall Length: 33.5 in (850.9 mm)
Magazine capacity:
  • 30 round detachable box
  • 100 round detachable C-Mag
Effective Range: 360 m
Maximum Range: 3,600 m
Cyclic ROF: 700-950 round/min
Muzzle velocity: 2,970 ft/s (905 m/s)
Mass w/o Magazine: 6.5 lb (2.94 kg)
Mass w/ Magazine: 7.5 lb (3.4 kg)

The M4 Carbine is a shorter and lighter version of the M16A2 assault rifle, achieving 80% parts commonality with the M16A2. The M4 has select fire options including semi-automatic and three-round burst (like the M16A2), while the M4A1 has a full auto option in place of the three-round burst. The M4A1 also has a heavier profile barrel to withstand heat from sustained fully automatic fire. Both the M4 and M4A1 Carbine fire 5.56mm NATO and are gas-operated, air cooled, magazine-fed, selective fire firearms with a collapsible stock.

As with many carbines, the M4 is handy and more convenient to carry than a full-length rifle. While this makes it a candidate for non-infantry troops (vehicle crews, clerks and staff officers) it has also been used by United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and others seeking a compact weapon for close quarters combat (CQB). It is the preferred weapon of the U.S Special Forces.

The M4 was developed and produced for the United States government by Colt Firearms, which has an exclusive contract to produce the M4 family of weapons through 2009; however, a number of other manufacturers offer M4-like firearms. The M4 has mostly replaced M16 and M16A2 firearms; the Air Force, for example, plans to transition completely to the M4A1 Carbine. The M4 has also replaced the M3A1 submachine guns that remained in service (mostly with tank crews). The M4 is similar to much earlier compact M16 versions, such as the 1960s era XM177 and Colt Commando family, though unlike them it is not intended to fire the earlier M193/6 ball.

History and variants

The M4A1 carbine, an improvement upon the M4 carbine intended for Special Operations use, features a fully-automatic fire mode, a flattop NATO M1913-specification rail on top of the receiver (for attachment of optics and other devices), and a detachable rail-mounted carrying handle. The M4A1 can be found in use in many US military units, including the U.S. Army Rangers, Delta Force, U.S. Navy SEALs, and the United States Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance companies.

As of 2001, both the M4 and M4A1 classifications represent carbines with detachable carry handles allowing for optics to be more easily mounted. The current government standards are the Colt Model 920 (M4) and 921 (M4A1). The major difference now is that the M4 is S-1-3, while the M4A1 is S-1-F. Also, in the last few years M4A1 carbines have been being refit or received straight from factory with barrels with a thicker profile under the handguard, for a variety of reasons such as heat dissipation during full-auto and accuracy as a product of barrel weight. These weapons, Colt Model 921HB (for Heavy Barrel), have also been designated M4A1, and as far as the government is concerned there the M4A1 represents both the 921 and 921HB.

Variants of the carbine built by different manufacturers are also in service with many other foreign special forces units, most notably the UK's Special Air Service (SAS) and Australia's Special Air Service Regiment (SASR). While the Australian SASR uses weapons of essentially the same pattern built by Colt for export (Colt uses different models to separate weapons for the US military and those for commercial/export purposes), the British SAS uses a variant on the basic theme, the SFW built by Diemaco of Canada. Ironically, this distinction is now essentially redundant with the purchase of Diemaco by Colt.

The M4A1 Carbine is specially favored by counter-terrorist and special forces units because of its compactness and firepower that the rifle offers for close quarters combat. It is very useful in urban warfare. Although the M4 does not have as far an effective range as the longer M16, many military analysts consider engagement with a non-specialized small arm above a range of 300 m to be unnecessary. It is extremely effective at 150 m or less.

Colt Model 925 carbines were tested fitted with the KAC M4 RAS under the designation M4E2, but this designation appears to have been scrapped in favor of mounting this system to existing carbines without changing the designation. The US Army Field Manual specifies for the Army that adding the RIS (this has probably expanded now to include the KAC M4 RAS as well) turns the weapon into the M4/A1 MWS or Modular Weapon System.


The Special Operations Peculiar Modification (SOPMOD) I M4A1 Kit was developed by USSOCOM for use with units under its jurisdiction. The kit features an M4A1 rifle, a Rail Interface System (RIS) handguard system developed by Knight's Armament Company (KAC), a shortened quick-detachable M203 grenade launcher and leaf sight, a KAC silencer, KAC rear back-up sight, an Insight Technologies AN/PEQ-2A visible laser/infrared designator, along with Trijicon Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight Reflex optics and a night vision sight. This kit was designed to be configurable (modular) for various missions and the kit is in service right now with Special Operations units (though many soldiers have changed the Trijicon Reflex sight for M68 Aimpoint red dot sights and EOTech holographic sights).


AR-15 related firearm articles.

AR-10, AR-15
M16, M16A1
M16A2, A3, A4
M4/M4A1 Carbine
Diemaco C7/C8
Colt Commando
Colt M231 FPW
Mark 11 'SWS'
Mark 12 'SPR'
SEAL Recon Rifle
Mark 18 'CQBR'
Ares Shrike
La France M16K

A 2nd generation SOPMOD (now known as SOPMOD II) is currently under development, with many different manufacturers competing for a contract. Notable manufacturers include Knight's Armament Company and their URX II, ARMS and their Selective Integrated Rail (SIR) system, along with Lewis Machine & Tool's Monolithic Rail Platform (MRP).

As mentioned, the M4 replaced the M3A1 submachine guns that remained in service—this was mainly with tank crews. They had previously had M3s, but this was changed to two M4s and two M9 pistols.


The M4/M4A1 5.56 mm Carbine is a gas operated, air cooled, magazine fed, selective fire, shoulder fired weapon with a collapsible stock. A shortened variant of the M16A2 rifle with a 36 cm barrel, the M4A1 provides the individual soldier operating in close quarters the capability to engage targets at extended range with accurate, lethal fire. The original M4 Carbine had semi-automatic and three round burst fire modes, while the M4A1 has "semi" and "auto" but no three-round burst. The M4A1 Carbine achieves over 80% commonality with the M16A2 Rifle and was intended to replace M3 .45 ACP submachine guns and selected M9 pistols and M16 rifle series (though this plan may be changed with the development of the XM29 OICW and the XM8 carbine with most Army units.) It is capable of mounting the M203 grenade launcher.

Some features compared to a full length M16A2 rifle include:

  • Compact size
  • Shorter barrel
  • Collapsible butt-stock
  • Higher rate of fire
  • Selective full-automatic rather than three shot bursts (M4A1)

However, there have been some criticisms of the carbine, such as lower bullet velocities and louder report due to the shorter barrel, additional stress on parts because of the shorter gas system, and a tendency to overheat faster than the M16A2.


M4 with M203 attached

M4 with M203 attached

Like all the variants of the M16 assault rifle, the M4 Carbine and the M4A1 Carbine can be fitted with many accessories such as night vision devices, laser pointers, telescopic sights, bipods, the M203 grenade launcher and the XM26 LSS shotgun.

Other common accessories include the AN/PEQ-2, Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG), and M68 Aimpoint.

Lessons learned reports

An April 2002 presentation by the Natick Soldier Center presented by LTC Charlie Dean and SFC Sam Newland reported on lessons learned from M4A1 use in Afghanistan (such as use during Operation Anaconda):

  • 34% of soldiers reported that their M4's handguards rattle and become excessively hot when firing.
  • 15% reported that they had troubles zeroing the M68 Reflex Sight.
  • 35% added barber brushes and 24% added dental picks to their cleaning kits.
  • Soldiers reported the following malfunctions:
    • 20% reported double feeding
    • 15% reported feeding jams
    • 13% reported that feeding problems were due to magazines.
  • 89% of soldiers reported confidence in the weapon.
  • 20% were dissatisfied with its ease of maintenance.




The operating drills for the M4 are identical to those of the M16.

Safety Precaution (no magazine fitted)

Safety precautions should be performed when taking possession of the weapon from another user, or any time the state of the weapon is unknown or in doubt. As with all firearms, always assume for safety purposes that such a weapon has a round in the chamber, ready to fire. Point the weapon in a safe direction, pull the cocking handle to the rear (a round may be ejected) and hold it there, examine the chamber to ensure it is clear, allow the action to go forward under control, push the forward assist plunger, fire the action, and close the ejection port cover.

Safety Precaution (magazine fitted)

Perform an "unload". If the above safety precaution is used with a charged magazine fitted a round will be chambered and fired.


Insert a charged (loaded) magazine into the magazine well/housing. There is a slight audible click when the magazine is properly inserted. The secureness of the magazine can be tested by gently trying to remove the magazine by pulling on it.


Pull the charging handle all the way to the rear and release (do not ride the handle forward). Push the forward assist to ensure the bolt is forward and locked. If the weapon is not to be fired immediately then put the fire selector to "SAFE" and close the ejection port cover.


An M4 just after firing, with an ejected case in mid-air

An M4 just after firing, with an ejected case in mid-air

Marksmanship is a complex and subtle art and is beyond the scope of this article. However, in general the weapon is fired by putting the fire selector on either "SEMI" or "BURST" ("AUTO" on the M4A1), resting the butt plate against the shoulder, aligning the eye of the firer, aperture of the rear sight, tip of the foresight, and aim to the target, take a breath, and at the end of the breath, squeezing the trigger as smoothly as possible.


Attempt to put the fire selector on "SAFE" (the selector will only go on "SAFE" if the hammer is depressed, i.e.: the weapon is cocked). Remove the magazine by pressing the magazine release with the trigger hand while grasping the magazine with the other hand. Tilt the weapon to the right and cock the weapon (a round may be ejected). Pull the cocking handle to the rear again and hold it. Tilt the weapon to the left and ensure the chamber is empty. Allow the action to go forward, push the forward assist plunger, put the fire selector to "SEMI" and squeeze the trigger. Close the ejection port cover and recover the ejected round.

See also

External links

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We'll be back later in the week. - Sparks