Exclusive: VT at Gaddafi's Capture

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VT Libya Correspondent Leads Gaddafi Capture

The Simple First-Hand Truth…Told for the First Time

 

by Gordon Duff  and  Jim W. Dean,  Editors 

 

Editor’s note:  With all the confusion at Gaddafi’s capture, there was one journalist present.  In this case, he was commanding a unit that had been tracking, had been hunting Gaddafi for weeks.  Below is his story.

"Somewhere ... Down There" - Was Our VT Combat Correspondent, Sirte, Libya

This first hand account of the capture of Colonel Gaddafi, will be not be redacted. 

Our videographer was not there, having been assassinated by Gaddafi agents some weeks before, however there is enough video of this scene for everyone.

I will omit the name of the writer who can make a longer version public when he is ready.

However, he is a well known journalist, born in Libya, who has worked for years in support of human rights projects around the world.  Almost all members of the independent press know this individual well.  Most consider him a friend and trusted colleague, in fact none have ever stated otherwise. 

We asked him to let us share this with you as a salute to all those out there around the planet who have worked to make VT what it is…real sources for real news…for readers that want it, the good, the bad and the ugly.

We took a lot of flack for our Libya coverage from those ignorant of Gaddafi’s deals with Bush, Blair and the Israelis and from those whose assignment it was to make Gaddaf look like a victim of a NATO “holocaust.”

The choice between them and Gaddafi’s “princes and princesses of the ‘hosted press’ who adorned the top hotels passing out press releases without ethics, conscience or discernment, was easy for us.  We were on the ground with the fighters, not filling the hotel lobbies with the phonies and “hangers on.”  We found the flow of disinformation out of the Gaddafi camp and his both official and unofficial “mouthpieces” to be sickening and cowardly.

We have no regrets, as do none of our people, especially our behind the lines combat correspondent.

For you Vets out there, along with our staff,  who have ever done that kind of work, you know how quick things can get nasty and fatal with just one bad move or some bad luck. You can get killed by either side at the drop of the hat.

This is his statement I receive today in response to specific questions our readers had about the capture of Gaddafi:

Gordon,

Game Over - Gaddafi

I can certainly tell you about the day of Gaddafi’s capture because I was right there when he was caught.

First, let me say that after taking part in the capture of Gaddafi’s compound on 23 August I and my hand-picked squad headed straight for Sirte while all attention was on Tripoli and Ban Walid.

We knew Gaddafi was there from communications chatter but took great care not to give the game away.

From 23 August until 20 October we remained in Sirte, all of the time behind enemy lines, as it were, where we caused considerable havoc among his motley crew of thugs and mercenaries. It was by far more challenging than nearly seven years fighting the Israelis in Lebanon in the 1990s. (Contrary to popular myths, the Israelis are predictable, spoilt and cowardly. Without air support, they were worse fighters than Gaddafi’s thugs, and that’s really saying something.)

Fast forward to the day of Gaddafi’s capture. As I said, we constantly tracked the bastard from 23 August onwards. We used our long-range radios only to give false information about our whereabouts — the bastard had quite sophisticated communications tracking equipment and some of the less vigilant rebels paid a heavy price for careless talk over the radio.

We (and three other groups who had nothing to do with us) were on his trail on Thursday morning, 20 October. We intercepted communications from his son Mu’tasim ordering his men to assemble in District No. 2 by 4 a.m. where they would be given further instructions.

However, they were so disorganised they didn’t manage to get together until about 8 a.m. They (about 70 vehicles) then set off heading west — we were appox half a km behind him but in the desert, south of the road they were using.

About 2 km after setting off a French Raphael jet appeared and hit his convoy several times (and nearly took us out in the process). Most of his convoy got burnt but he and about a dozen individuals ran out, away from the road, seemingly not knowing where they were going.

Some hid in shrubs and nearby farms and, in the meantime, about 20 pro-Gaddafi fighters appeared on the scene, also coming from the east (probably another part of Sirte). We managed to evade the late arrivals and, together with other rebel groups, eventually caught up and managed to corner Gaddafi, his son, his driver, the head of his special hoodlums brigade, Mansur Daw al-Gaddafi, and a handful of Mauritanian mercenaries.

Some were in a disused sewage pipe and others were frantically trying to squeeze into it. Others still began firing at us. I engaged the mercenaries outside while one of my comrades grabbed Gaddafi and pulled him out of the sewer and another got his son.

Gaddafi himself and his son were clearly injured when they pulled out of the sewer, and Gaddafi seemed somewhat dazed but alive.

The Star Has Fallen

He was escorted into an ambulance, barely able to walk — ambulances frequently accompany the anti-Gaddafi formations — which headed west to Misrata (this particular ambulance was with other anti-Gaddafi convoys — we always traveled light).

At this point, following one of my golden rules of survival (when your mission is accomplished, never hang about or dwell on things but just simply leave) I bid farewell to some of the fighters and headed for Benghazi. By the time I arrived there I heard that Gaddafi was dead. I have no idea what happened to him exactly and, to be honest, I really don’t care.

One final word. Some will be wondering whether we got a reward or in any way been paid for our troubles. The answer is an emphatic no. We did this out of a sense of duty to our country. For me personally, I lost approximately 12, 500 GBP in lost earnings while I was away fighting (July-October).

Regards,

Thus, when Gaddafi was captured alive and sent away in an ambulance, there was absolutely no NATO involvement of any kind.  No NATO troops were ashore, no NATO planes above.

Oh, for those who forget such things, General Charles De Gaulle, in March 1959, withdrew from NATO and demanded the removal of all NATO personnel from France.

France has not been in NATO for 42 1/2 years, a fact conveniently overlooked by so many conspiracy theorists.

 

 

 

Market pressures challenge rewards-programs profitability.(Special Report: Loyalty)

Cards & Payments January 1, 2007 | Shermach, Kelly Rewards program have become so prevalent that consumers now look for the added value when choosing credit cards. However, the programs, which started as a way to increase activation and usage and to differentiate one brand’s card from others in consumers’ wallets, now represent the biggest expense consuming issuers’ interchange revenue.

Indeed, the challenge for rewards programs no longer is how to block consumer attrition. A growing number of issuers instead are adjusting their rewards programs to meet specific needs. As such, there is little consistency in how the industry is working to make rewards initiatives more efficient.

Diamond Management & Technology Consultants Inc. of Chicago estimates that 44% of interchange lees paid by merchant banks finance rewards programs. With merchants, who ultimately pay interchange to issuers, putting legal pressures on Visa USA and MasterCard Worldwide to reduce interchange rates, pressures similarly are mounting on issuers to find ways to absorb more of the cost.

Issuers rely on rewards programs for their marketing, and the competition for transactions is fierce. “The battle for share of wallet is more intense than ever, and strong rewards and recognition programs drive customers to pull their preferred cards out of their wallet more frequently,” says Kelly Hlavinka, director of Colloquy, a loyalty marketing publisher and consultancy in Milford, Ohio.

Merrill Lynch attempts to do this on its Merrill + credit and debit cards by delivering benefits that increase in number with cardholder spend. Cardholders who spend up to $20,000 annually on the card receive standard perks that include double points on Merrill Cruises, 24-hour concierge service, a transatlantic companion ticket on British Airways, and complimentary spa services and special room rates at hotels and resorts worldwide.

Cardholders whose transactions total from $20,000 to $50,000 per year receive these reward features plus seven others, including an international business-class companion ticket on Delta Air Lines, free nights at leading luxury properties with the purchase of a stay and three free months of Wine.com membership with the purchase of nine additional months. Cardholders spending in excess of $50,000 annually on either the Merrill + credit or debit card receive instant membership in American Airlines or Delta frequent-flyer airport lounge clubs and additional benefits such as a personal 24-hour concierge, free upgrades on British Airways and a free flight hour with a purchase of a Marquis Jet prepaid card. see here delta frequent flyer

Steve Georgeou, president of Geocom Inc., a New York-based consultancy, lauds Merrill’s strategy of differentiation. “The biggest violator of the profitability rule is the credit card that gives the same benefits, service and communication to customers whether they are profitable or unprofitable,” he says. “Card issuers should spend their loyalty dollars against their profitable customers rather than spread equal amounts across all cardholders, including unprofitable ones.” Georgeou says Merrill + accomplishes this because the spend levels bring in more revenue, thereby allowing for more loyalty program expenditures.

EXPENSE CUTTING Even American Express Co. is cutting down on rewards expenses, or is at least shifting their emphasis. This past summer, AmEx eliminated double points for everyday purchases on its green, gold and platinum products. The issuer replaced these rich rewards with the Bonus Points Mall, which includes more than 100 online merchants that present double points-earning opportunities.

While the initiative is significantly slimmer on stickiness than the previous double-points scheme, Georgeou says, AmEx says the intent of the change is to drive activity in a new area rather than to save the issuer Membership Rewards-related money.

When AmEx launched the double-everyday-spend benefits for some charge cards, the goal was to promote spending in everyday locations and help take share of wallet away from debit and cash, says Ralph Andretta, AmEx senior vice president and general manager of Membership Rewards.

“The change in behavior was successful,” he says. “And instead of continuing to increase rewards cost for incenting behavior already exhibited by customers, we wanted to put our dollars into a new bonus program to help incent behavior around online spending.” AmEx’s loyal base of rewards members likely will not balk, Andretta contends. “Rewards are key to our business and drive results,” he says. “Our cardmembers in rewards programs spend five times more than those not enrolled.” The issuer has achieved success on the business side with Membership Rewards in large part because it has built a partner network of aspirational brands and preferred providers of AmEx’s elite core customer, Andretta says.

AmEx’s most popular rewards redemptions continue to be travel rewards, although retail and experiential rewards–such as an hour-long spin as guest DJ at a New York City lounge and zero-gravity flight programs that replicate astronaut training–are growing in popularity. “For the experiential rewards, we work very closely with our partners,… and the loyalty we gain from giving a cardmember a once-in-a-lifetime experience more than pays for itself,” Andretta says.

While some issuers contend cardholder segmentation can be a viable strategy to keep card portfolios profitable, some observers say issuers should broaden their views to include the institution’s overall profitability plans.

“The deeper the product relationship can be in the household, the more unlikely it is that the consumer will attrite,” says Dennis Moroney, senior research analyst at Tower Group, a Needham, Mass-based advisory, research and consulting firm owned by MasterCard Worldwide. “Rewards across products also drive [bank] usage.” Citibank is the purported leader in using this type of strategy. With Thank You Network rewards, Citi doles out points across its retail banking products, presumably spreading funding responsibility for rewards across its lines of business. in our site delta frequent flyer

Through the ThankYou Network, Citi rewards customers each month for having Citi checking, money market or savings accounts; making Citi debit card purchases; investing in Citi certificates of deposit; and choosing Citi for home equity lines of credit, home equity or personal loans, or mortgages.

“Citi is investing in the loyalty and relationships with our customers,” says Terry O’Neil, Citi Cards executive vice president. “We know that consumers have a vast choice when it comes to selecting a credit card or bank, and we want them to select, engage and stay with Citi.” To that end, Citi also offers accelerated point-earning opportunities. Citi Premier Pass distributes points in three ways for flights purchased with Citi’s cards. Cardholders receive points for miles flown, the dollar value of the ticket purchase and frequent-flyer miles from the airline carrier. Citi issues a cobranded card with American Airlines.

The bank also continues to expand the ThankYou Network, which now includes earning rewards when purchasing travel on Expedia. This relationship is the first non-Citi property in the network, but it may signal a new coalition of popular consumer brands.

Ten million consumers already combine ThankYou points through their banking needs. Now they will be able to garner points through Expedia transactions and spend them on Expedia-booked trips, too.

Citi introduced another new wrinkle to rewards in October when the issuer expanded the American Airlines co-brand program to include Private Pass. The new offering grants cardholders access to exclusive concerts and events.

Dave Matthews Band kicked off the Travels through Life concert series that launched Private Pass. By mid-December, Citi AAdvantage cardholders who use their cards to pay through the program could also see Mary J. Blige, Aerosmith and Tony Bennett, receiving VIP parking at the shows and private entrances to the theaters where the artists performed.

CONSUMER DEMAND “Bringing unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences to Citi AAdvantage cardmembers was a natural progression to the program,” O’Neil says.

There are costs involved in creating Private Pass program events, but O’Neil contends that profits are not put at risk. “Citi has the scale and business relationships to manage the costs of experiential rewards offerings,” he says.

Credit card issuers continue rewards and loyalty strategies in part because consumers demand them, says Colloquy’s Hlavinka. “With the considerable presence of rewards-based credit card options, consumers have been trained to look for cards that provide extra value. Additionally, consumers are surrounded with mass advertising messages that emphasize rewards and recognition benefits.” But weakening returns on equity and assets, dismal response to customer-acquisition campaigns and the rising number of inactive accounts signal trouble ahead for the bankcard industry, says Tower Group’s Moroney.

Even Citi has had recent reward troubles. In last year’s fourth quarter, the issuer reported a $545 million pretax reduction in revenue because of an accounting change to account for rewards still outstanding. And in May, Citi announced the closing of its AT&T Universal Cash Rewards credit card. The no-annual-fee card paid rewards of 5% of the sale on everyday purchases and a lower rate for other transactions.

“The card industry is still very, very profitable, but it is struggling with [returns on assets], [returns on equity], declining revolving balances and profitable transaction volume,” Moroney says.

Rewards programs remain important offerings for card programs. The challenge is to make them preferable but also profitable.

Cost Components of Interchange

Other issuer processing 35% costs & profit margin

Network processing 4% Issuer processing 9% Network rewards 1% Network brand 3% Network servicing 4% Issuer Rewards 44%

Source: Diamond Management and Technology Consultants estimates.

Shermach, Kelly


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