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Dutch MPs and SFIR Troops not Informed about Use Depleted Uranium
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-------- depleted uranium
Dutch MPs and SFIR Troops not Informed about Use Depleted Uranium in South Iraq
21 July 2003
Author: M.H.J. van den Berg
This article contests the Dutch government's claim that "no significant fighting has taken place in the province of Al Muthanna" and, more specifically, its assertion that "no DU [i.e. depleted uranium] ammunition was deployed [in the province]" during the recent conflict. If this assertion is based on information it received from US officials, as the government claims, it has been deceived.
On June 6, the Dutch government decided to send a battalion of marines and supporting personnel to Iraq, pending approval of parliament. As the latter had just closed its investigation of the NATO peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia (where Dutch troops failed to prevent the massacre of 600 Muslims in the UN declared 'safe area' of Srebrenica), MPs were not immediately convinced. They submitted more than 160 questions to the Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs and decided to consult independent experts on the matter. The answers of the Ministers, sent to parliament on June 18, and the hearing of experts held the subsequent day, must have reassured most MPs because a majority of them endorsed the mission on June 17. It is expected thatthe troops will deployed by mid-August.
The troops, 1100 in total, will be stationed in the southern province of Al Muthanna. Although the Dutch unit will operate under British command, formally it is not part of the occupying forces. Instead, it pertains to the so-called "stabilisation force" (SFIR) authorised by UN resolution 1483, which calls upon member-states to contribute to the "stabilisation and security" of Iraq. Apart from the Netherlands, other countries that have agreed to participate in SFIR include Poland and Japan whereas India recently decided not to sent any troops, unless a more explicit UN mandate were to materialize.
Of course, the mission is not without risks. As the ongoing assaults on US troops in and around Baghdad and the recent killing of six British troops indicate, post-Saddam Iraq is all but stable and secure. Nonetheless, the Dutch government assured MPs, "the security situation in the South of Iraq may be described as reasonably stable". Elsewhere (in an article co-authored with Pim van Harten), we have argued that the Dutch government has painted an all too rosy picture of the security situation in Southern Iraq as it did not pay due regard to the political risks involved in the operation.
Here, we take issue with the government's account of the recent war effort in South Iraq and its repercussions for the safety of civilians and army personnel in the area. In particular, we contest the government's claim that "no significant fighting has taken place in the province of Al Muthanna"  and, more specifically, its assertion that "no DU [i.e. depleted uranium ] ammunition was deployed [in the province]" during the recent conflict . We observe that on both accounts the government has misinformed parliament. As a result, we conclude, neither members of parliament nor the troops sent to Iraq have been able to make an adequate judgement on the risks of exposure to DU contamination.
The assertion that no significant fighting took place in the area is so blatantly belied by open sources, that one wonders if any of the Ministers ever reads a newspaper. The capital of the province, As Samawah, is strategically located on the road from Basra to Baghdad, providing access to a bridge over the Euphrates river. Consequently, on its march to Baghdad, the US army anticipated some resistance there. In fact, it would encounter rather fierce resistance both from Iraqi forces, including Saddam Feyadeen paramilitaries and Baath party militias, as well as a group of Syrian volunteers, according to American officers. Reportedly, it took just one day to take the bridge but more than a week before the town and the road were cleared of all 'pockets of resistance'. 112 civilians, most of them inhabitants of As Samawah, were killed in the battle. Even then, violence did not cease: in the first week of April, a suicide squat drove into an American roadblock just outside As Samawah, detonating a load of propane-filled bottles.
Despite such incidents, the Dutch government persists in depicting Al Muthanna as a remote, barely inhabited desert where no noteworthy events have occurred. In fact, the majority of the province's population lives on the banks of the Euphrates river along the road between Najaf and Nassiriya (about 100 kilometers, respectively, to the north and south). Inhabitants of the capital As Samawah maintain close relationships with these citiesand, somewhat farther away, Kerbala and Basra. Thus, As Samawah but also smaller towns such as Al Khidr, directly partake in regional social and economic activities and were, as far as recent military activities are concerned, part and parcel of the 'theatre of operations'.
For that matter, the assertion of the Dutch government that "no DU ammunition was deployed in Al-Muthanna" is also unfounded. If this assertion is based on information it received from US officials, as the government claims, it has been deceived. On the 12th of March, about a week before his troops set foot on Iraqi soil, Major General "Buff" Buford Blount III, commander of the US army 3rd Infantry Division already conveyed in an interview with Le Monde that "if we receive the order to attack, final preparations will only take a few days. We have already began to unwrap our depleted uranium anti-tank shells." That order came shortly, and as the Division advanced to Baghdad along the Euphrates, its Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles (BFVs) did not leave their unwrapped DU-shells sit idle on the way. On March 26, at CENTCOM Headquarters, General Brooks admitted as much, although he stressed that only "a very small portion of our munitions [contain] depleted uranium".
Be that as it may, it is a fact that DU-ammunition has been widely used during operation "Iraqi Freedom", also in Southern Iraq. The province of Al Muthanna is no exception: the usage of DU-ammunition there has been confirmed by US troops and 'embedded' journalists. In a widely distributed field message, Sergeant First Class (SFC) Cooper reports that the weapon systems used by the 3rd Infantry 7th Cavalry en route to As Samawah and on toNajaf, "are performing well, especially the 25mm DU and 7.62". In a letter sent home, E. Pennell, crew member on a BFV of the 1st Infantry Battallion, 41st Infantry regiment, describes how his crew fires a 25 mm DU-round as they encounter seven enemy troops in the town of As Samawah: "We fire five rounds. The first one is a depleted uranium due to standard operating procedures", adding that "DU is designed to penetrate enemy armour".
Such reports suggest that DU ammunition was routinely employed in encounters with armoured enemy vehicles, also in urban environments. What is more, it appears that DU ammunition has not been reserved exclusively for designated armoured targets. A journalist embedded with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment as it approached the city of Najaf, describes how a Bradley gunner made its first enemy contact in the war: "[Sergeant Bryce] Ivings spotted a man moving furtively around a commercial building, about thousand meters away. American tanks opened fire. In support, Ivings fired his 25 mm cannon, equipped with high explosive, depleted uranium shells. 'Wow, look at that' Ivings said, as two basketball-sized holes open up in the building. He fired again, knocking down the wall. 'Whoa, that was awesome'."
In another report, an RFE/RL correspondent embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division describes the horrifying effects of 25-millimeter DU ammunition fired at a Nissan pickup truck with six Iraqi regular-army soldiers that were driving it straight at a US position near Tallil: "These Iraqi regular-army soldiers had RPGs and fired two of these rocket-propelled grenades at the US positions, when a US Bradley troop carrier using this depleted-uranium ammunition opened fire on it from about 30 to 35 meters away. If you can imagine what a human being looks like melting when being hit by this ammunition, there wasn't much left of these people other than the charred remains of their skeletons. One Iraqi soldier who was out of the vehicle at the time about 15 meters back from the vehicle was killed just from the concussion of the blast".
Whereas the deployment DU ammunition on the ground may have been subject to some operational restrictions, airborne DU ordnance has been fired less discriminately. The aircraft of choice for close air support to ground battles has been the A-10 "Wharthog" jet, notorious for its anti-tank missiles and its lethal 30 mm cannons that can fire up to 4200 rounds per minute. Accordingly, the aircraft is designed to carry lots of ammunition, both DU as well as 'conventional', high explosive (HE) rounds, typically fed into its guns in a mix of 5/6 or 5/8 (DU/HE). Data released by the US Air Force recently, establish that the Warthogs have shot 311,597 roundsof 30 mm ordnance during the war, which would suggest that they have delivered at least 194,748 DU rounds. As each cartridge contains just over 300 grams of depleted uranium, this amounts to a minimum release of 58,814 kilograms of DU.
In Southern Iraq the Warthogs have played an important, supporting role in efforts to control strategic locations such as Tallil airbase and the bridges over the Euphrates. In the battle of Samawah, too, Warthogs have been called in to help ground troops mob up resistance and capture the two bridges there. In one of the incidences, vehicles of the 3rd Infantry 7th Cavalry reportedly drew friendly fire from Warthog aircraft, during a strike on a junk yard in town: "The roar of jets grows and A-10 ground attack aircraft fly into view. These slow-moving aircraft carry a devastating 30 mm Gatling gun in the nose as well as Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. Thegun's firing sounds like tearing cloth. The local commander shouts over the radio for the convoy to halt and clear the area...[However,] a number of vehicles fail to hear the warning and continue on through town and are shot as they run a gantlet of fire."
Somewhat farther north along the Euphrates, between As Samawah and Najaf, Lt. Col. Terry Ferrell, commander of the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment summons the Air Force for support when, at dusk on the 24th of March, his troops run into Iraqi positions on the banks of the river. As Sean D. Taylor, a staff writer with the Army Times recalls it: "The night reverberated with the banging of Bradley chain guns pouring 25mm high-explosive shells into the Iraqi positions. A pair of A-10 Warthog ground-attack planes showed up on station within minutes, dropping bombs and then strafing the enemy position with 30mm cannon fire that hit with a series of white phosphorescent explosions".
Since the US government has so far not disclosed any exact numbers, it is yet unknown just how much DU has been used in the war. The British government has been a bit more forthcoming, admitting that British Challenger tanks expended 1.9 tons of DU (approximately twice as much as in the 1990-91 Gulf Conflict). On the basis of the available information, Dan Fahey, an independent DU expert, estimates that 100-200 tons of DU may have been released during combat. If true, this would be significantly less than the total of approximately 290 tons shot in 1991. However, as Mr Fahey and others note, this time a larger share of the expenditure appears to have occurred in or around urban areas and, thus, increasing the potential for civilian exposure to DU.
Indeed, all over Iraq, the remains of spent DU shells and DU-contaminated debris have been found littering the streets in urban areas. Some wrecked vehicles have been towed away, and the most obvious contaminated sites are marked. However, most locations have not even been identified let alone cleaned, even though there is a widely shared consensus that DU contamination can be a potential health hazard.
After all, DU is a radioactive and toxic heavy metal which, like any other metal, is disposed to corrode and may, therefore, end up in the water supply or food chain. However, apart from that, DU ammunition and armourignites on impact, resulting in a very fine, radioactive and toxic dust that can be inhaled or ingested. Once in the body, DU may cause harm due to the exposure of internal organs to its chemical toxicity, radiation or the combined effects of both.
As of yet, though, little is known about the long-term health effects of exposure to DU contamination. To minimize the risk of exposure, US and UK troops have been instructed to stay away from potentially contaminated areas as much as possible or to wear, at least, respiratory protection and gloves when it is inevitable to enter such sites. British safety instructions further provide that troops should not climb on or into vehicles orstructures possibly hit by DU rounds; touch, pick up or retain souvenirs from struck vehicles or DU fragments; and smoke, eat or drink near a target struck by DU. For the rest, troops are advised to keep their dust masksand gloves on until they have a chance to change clothes, and to wash their hands before eating, drinking or smoking.
We may assume that Iraqi civilians stand to bear the same health risks as US or UK troops. However, there is no indication that the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) has properly informed the population about DU contamination. The British Ministry of Defence merely affirms that Iraqi locals have been warned "that they should not go near or touch any debris they find on the battlefield". Perhaps this would have sufficed, were it not for the fact that quite a few battles have been fought in densely populated areas, where it is virtually impossible for residents to avoid all remnants of war. It is thus indispensable that DU contaminated debris is clearly marked, fenced off or, preferably, cleaned up, and that citizens receive proper safety instructions.
Now, at least the British government has agreed to provide details of UK DU firing locations to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and directly to recognised non-government organisations working on location . It has also assumed some responsibility for clean-up and decontamination. In contrast, the US government has so far denied any responsibility for DU clean-up in Iraq. To date, it has also refused to disclose any information about the quantities and locations of DU expenditure or allow a UNEP Post Conflict Assessment Unit to study the environmental impact of DU contamination.
In fact, if we are to believe the Dutch government, the only specific information that the US authorities have disclosed so far is that no DU-ammunition has been used in the province of Al Muthanna. As we have demonstrated, there is ample evidence to the contrary. Consequently, either the Dutch government has deceived parliament or it has been misinformed by US authorities. Either way, the question remains as to how much DU has been fired and where exactly-both in Al Muthanna as well as Iraq at large. As long as such basic issues are not addressed, it is not possible to assess the health risks of DU contamination, let alone claim that these are negligible.
Of course, the lack of reliable information bears, before all, on concerns about the health and safety of the Iraqi population but it also implicates coalition troops and the newly arriving SFIR units. Dutch troops, the Minister of Defence has declared, "will avoid [DU-contaminated] areas and, if they are near such areas, they will take appropriate precautions". Unfortunately, Dutch safety measures do not appear to be as comprehensive as those of the British or the Americans. However, the main problem is that the troops only know of areas contaminated more than ten years ago, during the Gulf War in 1991. About areas that have been contaminated recently, they have received no information.
 Maarten H.J. van den Berg and Pim van Harten "Nederlandse militairen naar Irak: veel risico, weinig analyse", RISQ, 25 June 2003. See: http://www.risq.org/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=118
 Letter of the Minister of Foreign Affairs (NL) to Parliament, 6 June, 2003
 Depleted Uranium (DU) is a radioactive, toxic heavy metal used in armour-piercing (AP) ammunition because of its extreme density. Besides that, it is relatively cheap, as DU is an otherwise useless by-product of the nuclear industry, which is generally offered for free to ammunition manufacturers. DU is also used to armour tanks.
 Letter of the Minister of Foreign Affairs (NL) to Parliament, 18 june 2003, in answer to question 90.
 Ben Arnoldy, "Syrian Fighters Join Battle", Christian Science Monitor, 11 April 2003
 Monte Reel, "The Bridge at Samawah: It was a small thing, the taking of this obscure Iraqi city. Unless you were there", The Washington Post, 4 April 2003. See:http://www.risq.org/modules.php?name=Web_Links&l_op=visit&lid=217
 Associated Press, "Breakdown of AP's Count of Iraqi Deaths", 10 June 2003
 Michael R. Gordon, "Incursion Enables U.S. Forces to Test the Mettle of Their Foe", New York Times, 6 April 2003
 Yves Eudes, "Tout pourrait aller très vite, affirme le commandant en chef de la 3e division de l'US Army", Le Monde, 12 March 2003.
 CENTCOM Operation Iraqi Freedom Briefing, March 26, 2003
 Field Message from SFC Cooper, 28 March 2003. See: http://www.phoenix158.org/iraq/cooper.cfm
 Letter of private Ed Pennell, 1st Infantry Battalion, 41st Infantry regiment, 22-04-2003 as posted by St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lohman, Misouri (church of Mr Pennell's parents). See: http://www.stpaulslutheranlohman.org/EdPennellJournal.pdf
 Chris Tomlinson (embedded with 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division) and Michael Luo, Associated Press, as published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Wednesday, March 26, 2003. See: http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/032603/war_20030326057.shtml
 Ron Synovitz "The View Near Karbala" 2 April 2003
http://www.rferl.org/nca/features/2003/04/02042003150647.asp and (ibid.) "It's Been A Dusty, At Times Scary, Road To Baghdad", 31 March 2003. http://www.rferl.org/nca/features/2003/03/31032003144745.asp
 Dan Fahey, "The Use of Depleted Uranium in the 2003 Iraq War: an initial assessment of information and policies", June 24, 2003. See: http://www.antenna.nl/~wise/uranium/pdf/duiq03.pdf
 US Air Force, CENTAF Assessment and Analysis Division, "Operation Iraqi Freedom by the Numbers", 30 April 2003.
 Dan Fahey, "The Use of Depleted Uranium in the 2003 Iraq War: an initial assessment of information and policies", June 24, 2003, note 29.
 Greg Grant, The Salt Lake Tribune (embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division), 30 March 2003. See: http://www.sltrib.com/2003/Mar/03302003/iraq/43299.asp
 Sean D. Naylor, Army Times, 25-03-2003. http://www.militarycity.com/iraq/1704995.html
 Ministry of Defence (UK), "Depleted Uranium: Middle East 2003". 1 July 2003.http://www.mod.uk/issues/depleted_uranium/middle_east_2003.htm
 Dan Fahey "The Use of Depleted Uranium in the 2003 Iraq War: an initial assessment of information and policies", June 24, 2003, page 5.
 Ibid., see also: Laka Foundation, "Iraq: depleted uranium weapons used in the war", WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor, April 11, 2003. http://www.antenna.nl/wise/585/5503.html
 Scott Peterson, "Remains of toxic bullets litterIraq", Christian Science Monitor,http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0515/p01s02-woiq.htm
 Studies of corrosion rates conducted by UNEP and the Royal Society indicate that the uranium core of DU ammunition may completely disintegrate within five to ten years. Dan Fahey, "Facts, Myths and Propaganda in the Debate over Depleted Uranium Weapons", 12 March 2003, note 34. See: http://www.antenna.nl/wise/uranium/pdf/dumyths.pdf
 The claim that the health risks posed by DU are insignificant, is based on studies that have looked at either one of the effects. However, some researchers are beginning to suspect that radiation and toxicity may work together and, as such, do much more significant harm. "Nobody has taken a hard look at the combined effect of both", says Alexandra Miller, a radiobiologist with the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. "The bottom line is it might contribute to the risk." New Scientist, "Depleted uranium casts shadow over peace in Iraq", 15 April 2003. See:http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993627.
 Both US and UK authorities assert that full chemical warfare gear is generally not necessary, unless prolonged exposure to high concentrations of DU contamination is expected. Hence, the chemical warfare suits worn by British troops when they had to retrieve the body of a dead soldier from a vehicle that had just been struck by A-10 aircraft in a friendly fire accident near Basra. Audrey Gillan, the Guardian (UK), 31 March 2003, cited in Dan Fahey op. cit., note 40. For US Handling Procedures, see: http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/p700_48.pdf. For UK Safety Instructions, see: http://www.mod.uk/issues/depleted_uranium/gulf_safety_instructions.htm . For an excellent, recent article on US policy, see the article "Weapons of Mass Deception" by Frida Berrigan: http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=16272
 Ministry of Defence (UK), "Safety Instructions: Hazard management of depleted uranium on operations", 27 February 2003.
 Ministry of Defence (UK), "Depleted Uranium: Middle East 2003". 1 July 2003.  Ministry of Defence (UK), "Depleted Uranium: Middle East 2003". 1 July 2003.
 Note that the stated commitment is conditional: "Following risk assessment on a case by case basis, clean-up and disposal may be carried out or the vehicles may be collected together and fenced off. Decontamination may be carried out where appropriate". Ministry of Defence (UK), "Depleted Uranium: Middle East 2003". 1 July 2003.
 In fact, there is no indication that Dutch troops have received any specific safety instructions or training. The Minister of Defence has merely stated that, "in case of contact with depleted uranium, [troops] shouldwere a dust mask and gloves" and that "decontamination can be achieved by changing and washing clothes, and by cleaning exposed skin by rinsing it with water or by showering". Minister of Defence (NL), cited in a transcript of the Meeting of the Parliamentary Commissions of Foreign Affairs and Defence, 26 June 2003.
 Note that the troops may have been informed differently on the issue in a classified briefing. If that is the case, the Dutch government has deceived parliament and the wider public.
France insists Saddam has never bought uranium
By Kim Sengupta
21 July 2003
The British Government's claim that Saddam Hussein had sought to buy uranium from Niger has been dismissed by the French ambassador to the central African state.
In another blow to the credibility of the Blair Government over the issue, Denis Vène said it was impossible for uranium to leave the country without French officials knowing.
France has a substantial stake in the two companies that mine, process and export uranium, and its movement is "perfectly controlled". The ambassador told The Sunday Telegraph: "The mining companies check and monitor the amounts that leave Niger all the way from the mines to the ports. If any were to go missing, it would be very obvious and the inspectors would pick it up straight away."
British government sources had claimed that French intelligence supplied London with details of Iraqi uranium purchases. But this has been vehemently denied by Paris.
M. Vène was backed by Rabiou Hassanne Yari, Niger's Minister of Mines, who told The Independent on Sunday that he was "sure and certain" that his country had never sold uranium to Iraq.
Of Mr Blair's claim that 270 tons had been purchased in the 1980s, he said: "It's not true. The Iraqis asked, but there was never any transactions."
He added that the request was not a secret. It was "officially made and officially turned down". He pointed out that Niger's uranium production was subject to scrutiny by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Britain had maintained that the "purchase" of the uranium in the 1980s made it likely that Iraq went back for more.
Israel Accuses Iran of Trying to Make Nuclear Arms
Monday, July 21, 2003
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Israel said on Monday that Iran was "trying to do everything" to build a nuclear weapon and would pose a threat to the whole world unless it was stopped.
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told reporters after a meeting with his counterparts from the European Union that Tehran was enriching uranium and refusing to accept tougher inspections of its nuclear program.
"Iran now is trying to do everything to have a nuclear weapon and that is threatening not only the Middle East, it is threatening Europe, the southern part of Russia," he said.
"And I think the EU should take a key role in the last efforts to prevent them from having this ability."
Iran, branded part of an "axis of evil" by Washington, said on Sunday its Revolutionary Guards had been armed with a new medium-range missile, which analysts say could hit Israel -- a close U.S. ally -- or U.S. bases in the Middle East.
The deployment of the Shahab-3 missile came as Iran faces mounting scrutiny about a nuclear energy program Washington says may be a front for a covert bid to make atomic arms.
Iranian officials have said reports that enriched uranium was found samples taken by U.N. inspectors in Iran were questionable.
Iran insists its nuclear facilities are geared to producing electricity, and diplomats say the presence of enriched uranium in the samples may in fact be the result of contamination.
EU foreign ministers last month demanded that Iran accept tougher inspections of its suspect nuclear program, and linked compliance to progress on a pending trade deal. It was the most serious warning the EU had sent Tehran since they began negotiating a trade and cooperation agreement late last year.
Iran said on Monday it had no intention of pulling out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, despite calls from some hard-liners in the country to do so.
Iran's ballistic missile goes into service
By Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran
July 21 2003
Iran's revolutionary guards were yesterday officially armed with the Shahab-3 ballistic missile, capable of hitting Israel, in a show of military might and defiance of international pressure to stop the programme. Advertisement
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, who has the final say in all state affairs, attended the inaugural ceremony, broadcast on state television, in which at least five Shahab-3 missiles mounted on portable launchers were on display.
The official adoption of Iran's controversial missile programme, after successful tests, is expected to fuel international suspicions that the Islamic republic might seek to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists its missile programme is merely for military deterrence, while denying any efforts to seek nuclear arms.
The first test flight of Shahab-3, with a range of 1,300km and the ability to carry a one tonne warhead, was in July 1998. The missile is reportedly based on North Korea's No-Dong-1 missile but has been improved by Russian technology.
"Today, the Iranian nation and armed forces are ready to stand against the enemy with firm determination anywhere," Ayatollah Khamenei told thousands of revolutionary guards.
He said that Iran's power was not only military but also "spiritual" - as manifested in Lebanon and Palestine, in a clear reference to the resistance by Iranian-backed Islamic groups against Israel. The US accuses Iran of sponsoring terrorism and sabotaging the Middle East peace process.
The Shahab-3 missiles are believed to be held at the moment only by revolutionary guards, who backed the programme.
So far, the army has been denied access.
The revolutionary guards, which function independently of the army and are accountable only to the ayatollah, were also armed yesterday with an undisclosed number of Russian-built Sukhoi-25 aircraft and attack and transport helicopters.
Iran's political structure - which is divided between reformists, who dominate the government and parliament, and conservatives in the non-elected bodies - appears united over the missile programme. "Like all other countries, Iran wants to strengthen its defence might within the framework of international conventions," said Reza Yousefian, a pro-reform member of the parliament's National Security Commission.
The US, European Union and Israel suspect Iran may be seeking to acquire a nuclear weapons capability.
However, Abdullah Ramezanzadeh, the government spokesman, yesterday denied recent reports that Iran might have enriched uranium to make nuclear arms.
Alarm Bells Ring After Iranian Uranium Report
Monday, July 21, 2003
By Louis Charbonneau
VIENNA (Reuters) - Reports that U.N. inspectors found enriched uranium in Iran have set off alarm bells among nuclear disarmament experts.
Diplomats told Reuters last week that U.N. nuclear inspectors found traces of enriched uranium in environmental samples taken during recent inspections in Iran.
Although the enriched uranium might have come from contamination, the diplomats, who declined to be identified, said it might mean Tehran purified uranium without telling the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei neither confirmed nor denied the Reuters report, saying only: "Any media reporting on sample results would be pure speculation."
Jon Wolfsthal, of the U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank, wrote about the Reuters report: "If true, this could be the first hard evidence that Iran has purified uranium... in violation of its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)."
Wolfsthal said in comments on his organization's Web site, however, that Iran acquired some enriched uranium in the 1970s from the United States to fuel two research reactors and it was possible this was what the IAEA found.
"(But) if the samples confirm that Iran has enriched the uranium itself, it would mean that Iran has violated its treaty commitments," he said. "Such a finding would need to be referred by the IAEA to the U.N. Security Council for further action."
Even if it went to the Security Council, an Asian diplomat in Tehran told Reuters the council may find its hands tied.
"The military option is pretty much ruled out, so the only thing is economic sanctions," the diplomat said. "There already are economic sanctions on Iran so it would just have to be more effective implementation of the sanctions."
Leonard S. Spector, a former top non-proliferation official at the U.S. Energy Department and now deputy director of the Monterey Institute of International Studies' Center for Nonproliferation Studies, was also worried about the uranium.
"This would appear to confirm that the Iranian program has advanced to a very serious stage," Spector was quoted as saying in Saturday's Washington Post. "Just as with North Korea, time is running out for us to find a way to slow this process down."
A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
The IAEA board of governors chided Iran last month for failing to report on many aspects of its nuclear program, such as importing natural low-enriched uranium from China and the construction of uranium enrichment plants at Natanz.
The IAEA's June report deepened concerns among many countries -- especially the United States -- that Iran was secretly developing the capacity to make nuclear weapons.
The June report increased pressure from IAEA member countries for Iran to sign the NPT's "Additional Protocol" and permit tighter IAEA inspections. The protocol was created after the 1991 discovery of Iraq's nuclear weapons program.
Tehran says it has a "positive" view of the protocol, but has yet to sign it.
A prominent non-proliferation expert, who asked that he not be identified, told Reuters he saw nothing about Iran's civilian nuclear program that indicated it was seeking weapons.
"None of the eight or nine countries that we know today have nuclear weapons started down the path of getting nuclear weapons using a civilian nuclear program. All had dedicated military programs," he said.
Even if the IAEA were to find a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program in the near future, it would be hidden, separate from the civil projects and run by the defense ministry, he said.
"In every case, the nuclear weapons program has been a dedicated nuclear weapons program, even in India, Pakistan and Israel. The same for North Korea, if it exists," he said.
Unlike Iran, India, Pakistan and Israel have not signed the NPT and are not subject to IAEA inspections. The five NPT members with nuclear weapons are the United States, Britain, Russia, China and France.
North Korea left the NPT earlier this year.
(Additional reporting by Paul Hughes in Tehran)
Pentagon Plan 5030, a new blueprint for facing down North Korea
Upping the ante for Kim Jong Il
By Bruce B. Auster and Kevin Whitelaw With Thomas Omestad
Nation & World
Within the past two months, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has ordered U.S. military commanders to devise a new war plan for a possible conflict with North Korea. Elements of the draft, known as Operations Plan 5030, are so aggressive that they could provoke a war, some senior Bush administration officials tell U.S. News.
Adm. Thomas Fargo, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, and senior Pentagon planners are developing the highly classified plan. The administration insiders, who are critical of the plan, say it blurs the line between war and peace. The plan would give commanders in the region authority to conduct maneuvers--before a war has started--to drain North Korea's limited resources, strain its military, and perhaps sow enough confusion that North Korean generals might turn against the country's leader, Kim Jong Il. "Some of the things [Fargo] is being asked to do," says a senior U.S. official, "are, shall we say, provocative."
There are several war plans for Korea--Plans 5026 and 5027, as well as 5030--that outline the different phases of war and the specific provisions for movements of large numbers of troops, aircraft carriers, and other war-fighting requirements. U.S. News has learned details of the prewar phase of the newest version of Plan 5030. Some officials believe the draft plan amounts to a strategy to topple Kim's regime by destabilizing its military forces. The reason: It is being pushed by many of the same administration hard-liners who advocated regime change in Iraq. The Pentagon only recently began offering details of the plan to top officials at the White House, the State Department, and other agencies. It has not yet been approved. A Pentagon spokesman declined comment.
One scenario in the draft involves flying RC-135 surveillance flights even closer to North Korean airspace, forcing Pyongyang to scramble aircraft and burn scarce jet fuel. Another option: U.S. commanders might stage a weeks-long surprise military exercise, designed to force North Koreans to head for bunkers and deplete valuable stores of food, water, and other resources. The current draft of 5030 also calls for the Pentagon to pursue a range of tactical operations that are not traditionally included in war plans, such as disrupting financial networks and sowing disinformation.
Against the wall. Some administration officials and military experts say they consider these tactics dangerously provocative. What would happen, they ask, if North Korea shot down an RC-135 or lobbed artillery at South Korea? "What the Pentagon is trying to do is balance the risk between ceding the initiative to the enemy or taking steps to influence it," says Andrew Krepinevich of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. "But does war become more likely?"
America's allies in the region--South Korea and Japan--think so. They, along with China, worry that if the Bush administration puts too much pressure on North Korea, Pyongyang could strike back in unpredictable ways. "Once we push them too hard against the wall," says a Japanese official, "we do not know what kind of reaction Kim Jong Il will have."
It is the Pentagon's job to be ready for war--and critics of this war plan admit as much. The Pentagon work on 5030 was triggered by Rumsfeld's desire to reinvent the military in the wake of lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq--and that includes the way the nation plans for war. Says one official, "The secretary wants to make how we plan for conflicts responsive to changing situations."
But if the Pentagon gives commanders more authority to take aggressive actions in peacetime, as contemplated in Plan 5030, it risks tripping over the president's--and Congress's--authority to commit the nation to war, says a senior official. "Who decides when to go to war?" the official asks. "Good question."
Major Theater War - West
OPLAN 5027 is the US-ROK Combined Forces Command basic warplan. Under Operations Plan 5027 (CINCUNC/CFC OPLAN 5027), the United States plans to provide units to reinforce the Republic of Korea in the event of external armed attack. These units and their estimated arrival dates are listed in the Time Phased Force Deployment List (TPFDL), Appendix 6, to Annex A to CINCUNC/CFC OPLAN 5027. The TPFDL is updated biennially through U.S./ROK agreements. CINCUNC/CFC OPLAN 5027 is distributed with a SECRET-U.S./ROK classification.
Pyongyang can credibly threaten the prompt destruction of Seoul with conventional arms alone. The North Korean military could also establish a shallow foothold across the DMZ. However, the DPRK's ability to sustain these offensive operations, or advance its forces further to the south, is questionable. South Korean and American air forces could quickly establish air supremacy and destroy North Korean ground forces. The ensuing buildup of US forces in Korea could reverse any remaining North Korean advances into the South, and unlease offensive operations into the North. North Korea does not require long-range missiles with nuclear, chemical, or biological warheads to devastate Seoul or to make a land grab across the DMZ. Such weapons are needed to deter or defeat an American counteroffensive into North Korea.
North Korea has about 500 long-range artillery tubes within range of Seoul, double the levels of a the mid-1990s. Seoul is within range of the 170mm Koksan gun and two hundred 240mm multiple-rocket launchers. The proximity of these long-range systems to the Demilitarized Zone threatens all of Seoul with devastating attacks. Most of the rest of North Korea's artillery pieces are old and have limited range. North Korea fields an artillery force of over 12,000 self-propelled and towed weapon systems. Without moving any artillery pieces, the North could sustain up to 500,000 rounds an hour against Combined Forces Command defenses for several hours.
North Korea's short-term blitzkrieg strategy envisions a successful surprise attack in the early phase of the war to occupy some or all of South Korea before the arrival of US reinforcements on the Korean Peninsula. North Korean ground forces, totaling some 1 million soldiers, are composed of some 170 divisions and brigades including infantry, artillery, tank, mechanized and special operation forces. Of the total, about 60 divisions and brigades are deployed south of the Pyongyang-Wonsan line. North Korea has deployed more than half of its key forces in forward bases near the border. Seventy percent of their active force, to include 700,000 troops, 8,000 artillery systems, and 2,000 tanks, is garrisoned within 100 miles of the Demilitarized Zone. Much of this force is protected by underground facilities, including over four thousand underground facilities in the forward area alone. From their current locations these forces can attack with minimal preparations. This means a surprise attack on South Korea is possible at any time without a prior redeployment of its units.
The North Korean navy has also deployed 430 surface combatants and about 60 percent of some 90 submarine combat vessels near the front line in forward bases. With about 40 percent of its 790 fighter planes deployed near the front line, the North Korean air force could launch a surprise attack on any part of South Korea within a short period of time.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea possesses larger forces than Iraq, and they are already deployed along South Korea's border. A war could explode after a warning of only a few hours or days, not weeks. Unlike in the Persian Gulf, this attack would be prosecuted along a narrow peninsula on mountainous terrain. It would probably be accompanied by massed artillery fire, commando raids, and chemical weapons. Initially, the primary battlefield would be only about 125 kilometers wide and 100 kilometers deep. The DPRK attack would be conducted against well-prepared ROK forces in fortified positions and against larger US forces than in the Persian Gulf. Most probably, the DPRK attack would aim at seizing nearby Seoul by advancing down the Kaesong-Munsan, Kumwa, and Chorwon corridors. If successful, North Korean forces might also try to conquer the entire peninsula before large US reinforcements arrive.
The South Barrier Fence is the Southern part of the DMZ. The South Koreans have a series of Defensive lines that cross the entire peninsula, but with the exception of the South Barrier Fence, they aren't connected completely across the peninsula. They are designed to withstand an attack and allow a minimum force to hold a line while reinforcement/counter attack forces are assembled and sent to destroy any penetrations.
The basic goal of a North Korean southern offensive is destruction of allied defenses either before South Korea can fully mobilize its national power or before significant reinforcement from the United States can arrive and be deployed. The primary objective of North Korea's military strategy is to reunify the Korean Peninsula under North Korean control within 30 days of beginning hostilities. A secondary objective is the defense of North Korea.
To accomplish these ambitious objectives, North Korea envisions fighting a two-front war. The first front, consisting of conventional forces, is tasked with breaking through defending forces along the DMZ, destroying defending CFC forces, and advancing rapidly down the entire peninsula. This operation will be coordinated closely with the opening of a second front consisting of SOF units conducting raids and disruptive attacks in CFC's rear.
The DPRK offensive against the ROK will consist of three phases. The objective of the first phase will be to breach the defenses along the DMZ and destroy the forward deployed forces. The objective of the second phase will be to isolate Seoul and consolidate gains. The objective of the third phase will be to pursue and destroy remaining forces and occupy the remainder of the peninsula.
Approximately forty percent of the South Korean population resides within 40 miles of Seoul. While the terrain north of Seoul is dominated by rice paddies offering limited off-road mobility, the terrain west of Seoul is a wide coastal plan with the main invasion routes to Seoul. North Korean forces attacking Seoul through the Chorwon or Munsan corridors would have to cross the Han or Imjin rivers (while these rivers freeze in the winter, the ice is not strong enough to support heavy armor). The narrow eastern coastal plain is lightly settled and less heavily defended, though mountains make movement of forces from the east coast difficult.
The US plans are based on the belief that the North Koreans would not be successful in consolidating their gains around Seoul and could be pushed back across the DMZ -- though the plans assume the North may break through the DMZ in places. A critical issue is strategic warning of unambiguous signs that North Korea is preparing an attack. The warning time has reportedly been shortened from about ten days to about three days as North Korea has covered its military activities.
The US-ROK defense plan would be shaped not only by the threat but also by the mountainous terrain. Korea is commonly regarded as rugged infantry terrain that invites neither mobile ground warfare nor heavy air bombardment, but North Korea has assembled large armored forces that are critical to exploiting breakthroughs, and these forces would pass down narrow corridors that are potential killing zones for U.S. airpower. A new Korean War would bear little resemblance to the conflict of 195053.
During Phase 1, US-ROK forces would conduct a vigorous forward defense aimed at protecting Seoul. Their campaign would be dominated by combined-arms ground battles waged with infantry, artillery, and armor. US air and naval forces would conduct close air support, interdiction, and deep strike missions. After Phase 1, US-ROK operations in Phase 2 would probably focus on seizing key terrain, inflicting additional casualties on enemy forces, and rebuffing further attacks. Phase 3, to start when the US ground buildup was complete and ROK forces were replenished, would be a powerful counteroffensive aimed at destroying the DPRK's military power. The war plan envisions amphibious assaults into North Korea by US Army and Marines at the narrow waist of North Korea. The entire resources of the US Marine Corps would flow there to establish a beachead, with substantial Army resources quickly conducting over-the-shore operations. OPLAN 5027-74
The the forward defense strategy in OPLAN 5027 was developed by Combined Forces Commander US General James F. Hollingsworth in 1973 [this discussion is based on "Winning in Korea Without Landmines," by Caleb Rossiter]. Prior to this time, OPLAN 5027 focused primarily on defeating a North Korean invasion. It envisioned the allies staging a 50-mile fighting retreat along the primary armored invasion route from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), and taking up strong positions [the "Hollingsworth Line"] south of the broad Han River where it bisects the South Korean capital of Seoul. There, allied forces would wait for US reinforcements before counter-attacking.
Concerned that the US withdrawal from Vietnam might lead the DPRK to question American commitment to defend South Korea, Hollingsworth altered the focus of OPLAN 50-27 to a forward-based offensive strategy. The goal was to convince North Korea that an invasion could bring an end to its regime. The new posture moved most allied artillery, tanks,and infantry forward toward the Military Control Zone (MCZ), which runs five miles south of the DMZ. General Hollingsworth announced plans to strike north after these forces defeated the invasion. He assigned two brigades of the US 2nd Division to seize the North Korean staging city of Kaesong just across the DMZ, and promised around-the-clock raids on the North by B-52 bombers and a "violent,short war " to capture the capital of Pyongyang.
It was unclear whether Hollingsworth's plans included the use of the US tactical nuclear weapons then on the Korean peninsula if the North Korean invasion forces overwhelmed the allies. At the time, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that without nuclear weapons,the new strategy could result in the initial loss of Seoul. In 1975 Gen. Hollingsworth stated that the US had a '9-day war plan', according to which North Korea would be defeated in a few days in a violent clash with 700-800 air sorties. OPLAN 5027-94
As of 1994 it was reported that a variant OPLAN 5027 under consideration by CINCPAC focused on a scenario under which ROK forces were able to blunt a DPRK offensive and stabilize a defensive line at FEBA Bravo (20-30 miles below the DMZ). Subsequently, US-ROK Combined Forces Command would execute a retaliatory offensive once US reinforcements arrived. A major air campaign against northern forces would be required before the counteroffensive could begin. A US Marine Expeditionary Force (in division strength) and the 82nd Air Assault Division, along with ROK divisions, would launch an overland offensive north toward Wonsan from the east coas. Soon thereafter, a combined US-ROK force would stage an amphibious landing near Wonsan, and advance to Pyongyang. Subsequently, a combined US-ROK force would execute a major counteroffensive from north of Seoul aimed at seizing Pyongyang. This would be achieved either by linking up with the force at Wonsan, or meeting it at Pyongyang.
A favorable outcome for the South depends on two conditions. First, the ROK forces must withstand DPRK forces during the initial 5-15 days of North Koean offensive actions. Second, they must hold the line while US and ROK forces are mobilized for the counteroffensive, which could take another 15-20 days.
The ROK and US war plan included a counteroffensive that would destroy the North Korean regime. South Korean state television reported on 24 March 1994 that Seoul and Washington planned to topple the North Korean government if the Stalinist state attacks the South. The Korean Broadcasting System said that rather than simply driving back the North's troops, the plan provides for a counteroffensive to seize Pyongyang and try to topple the government of Kim Il Sung ["KBS reports plan to topple Kim Il Sung," Washington Times , March 25, 1994, p. 16]. In 1994, the South Korean president, Kim Young-sam, said: "Once a major military confrontation occurs, North Korea will definitely be annihilated" [Ranan R. Lurie, "In a Confrontation, 'North Korea Will Definitely Be Annihilated,'" Los Angeles Times (Washington Edition), March 24, 1994, p. 11].
The battlefield coordination line (BCL) first appeared in MEF operations during Ulchi Focus Lens (UFL) 94. It was employed as a workaround "MEF internal fire support coordination line (FSCL)" since the combatant commander approved theater FSCL was too distant from the Marine close fight to be of any value. The extended placement of the combatant commander's FSCL was due mostly to cultural and programmatic conflicts between the Army and the Air Force (read JFACC or in Korea, the CFACC). The point of contention has always centered on the area between the FSCL and the ground commander's forward boundary. The Air Force has historically demanded that the Army "coordinate" strikes forward of the FSCL with the CFACC prior to execution. The Army doesn't like the idea of having to coordinate (thus delay operations) with another component inside its own assigned area of operation, so to avoid the problem, they push the FSCL out to a point beyond their area of influence, ATACMS soliloquies notwithstanding. In effect, the FSCL became a de facto forward boundary. OPLAN 5027-96
After the nuclear crisis of 1994, OPLAN 5027 was completely overhauled, including a new agreement to ensure Japanese bases are available if the US goes to war with North Korea. The updated Japan-US defense cooperation guidelines, which the Japanese parliament approved 24 May 1999, allow the US to prepare for a Korean war by stationing its military forces in Japan and the Pacific region. OPLAN 5027-98
Further revisions to the concept of operations were elaborated in OPLAN 5027-98, which was adopted in late 1998. Previous versions of OPLAN 5027 had called for stopping a North Korean invasion and pushing them back across the Demilitarized Zone. The new version of the plan was more clearly focused on offensive operations into North Korea. A senior US official was reported to have said: "When we're done, they will not be able to mount any military activity of any kind. We will kill them all." The goal of the revised plan was to "abolish North Korea as a functioning state, end the rule of its leader, Kim Jong Il, and reorganize the country under South Korean control."
New priorities also focused on countering sudden chemical and biological attacks against Seoul. The South Korean military reportedly estimates that 50 missiles carrying nerve gas could kill up to 38 percent of Seoul's 12 million inhabitants. The new plan called for a campaign against North Korean armed forces and government involving "defeating them in detail." The operation would be conducted in four phases: activities prior to a North Korean attack, halting the initial North Korean assault, regrouping for a counter-attack, and finally a full scale invasion of North Korea to seize Pyongyang.
According to reports, the new military plan included preemptive attacks against North Korea's military bases, including long-range artillery and air forces bases, if intellitence detected a hard evidence that North Korea was preparing to wage war. US and South Korean military leaders included pre-emptive strikes in this revised war plan. If the North Koreans showed unmistakable signs of preparing to strike, and the US decided not to wait until South Korea had been attacked, US forces had targets in North Korea already picked out and weapons assigned to destroy them.
Tasks performed during the Destruction Phase of the OPLAN reportedly involve a strategy of maneuver warfare north of the Demilitarized Zone with a goal of terminating the North Korea regime, rather than simply terminating the war by returning North Korean forces to the Truce Line. In this phase operations would include the US invasion of North Korea, the destruction of the Korean People's Army and the North Korean government in Pyongyang. The plan includes the possibility of a Marine amphibious assault into the narrow waist of North Korea to cut the country in two. US troops would occupy north Korea and "Washington and Seoul will then abolish north Korea as a state and 'reorganize' it under South Korean control.
When this new war plan leaked to the press in November 1998, it escalated tensions between the United States and North Korea. North Korea sharply criticized OPLAN 5027-98, charging that it was a war scenario for the invasion of North Korea. Pyongyang blamed Seoul for the revision of OPLAN 5027, and a North Korean Army spokesman stated 02 December 1998 that North Korea had the right to take a containment offensive while holding mass rallies of military units and various social organizations to criticize OPLAN 5027. Such incidents illustrated North Korea's sensitive reaction to the OPLAN 5027.
On 02 December 1998 the General Staff of the North Korean People's Army (KPA) issued a lengthy and authoritative statement warning that the United States was instigating a new war. The statement stressed that the KPA would rise to the challenge. "We neither want nor avoid a war. If a war is imposed, we will never miss the opportunity," the statement read. The unique aspect of Pyongyang's public statements is the preoccupation with "US war-plan # 5027" as an imminent threat. Official Pyongyang is adamant that "war-plan # 5027" is already being implemented, and public statements frequently focus on OPLAN 5027. OPLAN 5027-00
According to the 04 December 2000 South Korean Defense Ministry White Paper, the United States would deploy up to 690,000 troops on the Korean peninsula if a new war breaks out. The United States apparently had considerably increased the number of troops that would be deployed in any new Korean conflict. The figure had risen from 480,000 in plans made in the early 1990s and 630,000 in the mid-1990s. The latest Time Phased Forces Deployment Data for any contingency on the Korean Peninsula is comprised of 690,000 troops, 160 Navy ships and 1,600 aircraft deployed from the U.S. within 90 days.
The South Korean defense ministry described the increase as the result of a new US "win-win strategy," which would require the United States to have the capability to fight two wars simultaneously, such as in the Middle East and East Asia. Along with equipment to counter weapons of mass destruction, the US plan focused on the deployment of aircraft carriers and advanced aircraft to attack enemy artillery units in the early stages of any war.
US augmentation forces, including the army, navy, air force, and the marine corps, are composed of approximately 690,000 troops. The augmented forces comprise army divisions, carrier battle groups with highly advanced fighters, tactical fighter wings, and marine expeditionary forces in Okinawa and on the US mainland. The US augmentation forces have contingency plans for the Korean peninsula to execute the Win-Win Strategy in support of United Nations Command (UNC)/Combined Forces Command (CFC) operation plans.
There are three types of augmentation capability: Flexible Deterrence Options (FDOs), Force Module Packages (FMPs), and the Time-Phased Forces Deployment Data (TPFDD). These are executed through a unit integration process, when the commander of CFC requests them and the US Joint Chiefs of Staff orders them in case of a crisis on the Korean peninsula.
FDOs are ready to be implemented when war is imminent. They can be classified into political, economic, diplomatic, and military options. Approximately 150 deterrence options are ready to be employed.
FMPs are measures that augment combat or combat support units that need the most support in the early phase of the war should war deterrence efforts through FDOs fail. Included in the FMPs are elements such as strong carrier battle groups.
Under TPFDD, in which FDO and FMP are included, the key forces are planned ahead of time to be deployed in case of an outbreak of war. There are three types of forces under TPFDD: in-place forces, or forces currently deployed to the peninsula; pre-planned forces, or forces of time-phased deployment in a contingency; and on-call forces, which could be deployed if needed.
CFC Pub 3-1 (Deep Operations Korea) of 1 May 99 requires pre-planned fire support coordination lines (FSCLs) 26 hours prior to ITO execution, and immediate FSCL changes (inside the ITO cycle) 6 hours from transmittal to implementation with nominal FSCL placement 12 to 20 kilometers from the FLOT. The publication discusses the need to avoid confusion and fratricide via frequent FSCL changes, yet still retain the ability to accommodate rapid maneuver. Ground and amphibious force commanders will recommend placement of the FSCL, but the combatant commander is the approving authority. OPLAN 5027-02
In February 2002 it was reported that the US military was updating OPLAN 5027 in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. This includes a military calculation of the force needed to remove North Korean leader Kim Jung Il.
In mid-2002 a top aide to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld briefed a concept of operations for striking North Korea's weapons of mass destruction. This case study in the application of the Bush administration's new doctrine of pre-emptive military action envisioned a swift attack, carried out without consulting South Korea, America's ally on the peninsula. Soone after word of the briefing spread, administration officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell and Adm. Thomas Fargo, commander of US forces in the Pacific, worked to stifle further discussion of the scheme. OPLAN 5027-04
While Patriot is the only missile defense system deployed by the US military, the Defense Department expects that three "emergency capabilities" for missile defense will begin to emerge in the year 2004. Those capabilities are ground-based midcourse interceptors being installed in Alaska as part of a Pacific test bed; sea-based midcourse interceptors on one or two Navy Aegis ships; and an Airborne Laser prototype. By late 2004 or early 2005 the missile-defense test site at Fort Greely, Alaska could provide an emergency capability against a North Korean missile attack, but it will be extremely limited. Five anti-missile interceptors will be deployed at the site.
Following Operation Iraqi Freedom, USFK held a conference for senior military leaders at Osan Air Force Base to evaluate the air component of OPLAN 5027. The conference was held on May 22-23, 2003 and was to adapt lessons learned from the use of UAVs and ground tactics and to "apply them in plans and strategies for 2003" according to 7th Air Foce commander Lt. General Lance Smith. The Air Boss conference discussed specific targets and the impact of new technologies. According to General Smith, as quoted by Stars and Stripes on May 24, 2003 the battle plan has changed considerably.
In June 2003 US and Republic of Korea officials agreed to a plan to realign American forces stationed in "The Land of the Morning Calm." In June 4-5 meetings held in the South Korean capital city of Seoul, according to a joint U.S.-South Korean statement, it was decided the operation would consist of two phases. During Phase 1 US forces at installations north of the Han River would consolidate in the Camp Casey (Tongduchon) and Camp Red Cloud (Uijongbu) areas. Both bases are north of Seoul and the Han, but well south of the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea. The 14,000-strong U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Division, which provides troops to bases near the DMZ, is headquartered at Camp Red Cloud. During Phase 2 US forces north of the Han River would move to key hubs south of the Han River. U.S. and Korean officials agreed to continue rotational U.S. military training north of the Han even after Phase 2 is completed. The realignment operation would take several years to complete.
Phases of War
# Flexible Deterrent Options (FDO)
# Phase 1 - DPRK Attack
# Phase 2 - ROK Defense
# Phase 3 - US Counter-Attack
- Vigiland Warrior
- Quick Saber
# CFC (KOREA) OPLAN 9518X-XX Protection of US National Security Interests and Support for the Republic of South Korea 29 December 1999
# ROK-US Combined Forces Command Publications 3-2.2, Air-Ground Operations - Korea 15 June 2002 [MSWORD 8 MB]
# Air boss conference discusses war plan AFPN 23 May 2003
# Planning for Major Theater Wars: Examining the Worst Case by Major Gregory A. Pickell, US Army Military Review - January-February 2000
# NORTH KOREA COUNTRY HANDBOOK MCIA-2630-NK-016-97
Marine Corps Intelligence Activity - May 1997
# Secretary of Defense, 2000 Report to Congress; Military Situation on the Korean Peninsula; September 12, 2000.
# HANGING IN THE BALANCE: NORTH-SOUTH KOREAN MILITARY CAPABILITIES - Peter Hayes February 25, 1994
# Military Strength and Augmentation Capabilities of Allied Forces 04 December 2000 - South Korean Defense Ministry White Paper
# Military Options in Korea's End Game Lieutenant General John H. Cushman, U.S. Army (Retired) May 23, 1994
# New Warplan Calls for Invasion of North Korea By Richard Halloran, November 14, 1998
# The Likelihood and Implications of a North Korean Attack on the South Kyongmann Jeon
# Don Oberdorfer, The Two Koreas (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1997), pp. 313-25.
# Michael O'Hanlon, 'Stopping a North Korean Invasion: Why Defending South Korea is Easier than the Pentagon Thinks', International Security', vol. 22, no. 4 (Spring 1998)
# Chemical, Biological Weapon Capabilities on Korean Peninsula : JPRS-UMA-94-045 : 2 November 1994
# Cordesman, Anthony H.; "The Asian Balance of Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Quantitative and Arms Control Analysis." Center for Strategic and International Studies; January 29, 2002; pg. 20.
# "Winning in Korea Without Landmines," by Caleb Rossiter, Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, 2000
# Measuring Interdiction Capabilities in the Presence of Anti-Access Strategies: Exploratory Paul K. Davis, Jimmie McEver, Barry Wilson; RAND; Ch. 5 2002.
Russia Urges N. Korea Talks to Avert 'Hot' Conflict
July 21, 2003
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia urged the United States and North Korea to start talks on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, warning that a standoff between them was boiling over, Interfax news agency said Monday.
``Signals from the main participants, primarily the United States and North Korea, are needed to ease tensions,'' it quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov as saying. Advertisement
``So far this is not happening, which is preventing the start of talks in any form. Meanwhile, the situation continues to deteriorate and is slowly sinking into a state of conflict which could get hot.''
S. Korea Dismisses Report on Nuke Plant
By SANG-HUN CHOE
Associated Press Writer
Jul 21, 2003
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korea's president on Monday dismissed a report that North Korea has secretly built another plutonium production plant and expressed concern that such media accounts could hurt his country's economy.
Meanwhile, a senior South Korean official predicted a possible breakthrough in the nuclear standoff, saying the United States, China and North Korea will hold talks in Beijing "quite soon."
The nations are "in the final stage of arranging a new meeting," said Ra Jong-il, President Roh Moo-hyun's national security adviser.
Quoting unnamed U.S. and Asian officials with access to the latest intelligence on North Korea, the New York Times reported Sunday that strong evidence has emerged in recent weeks that the communist state has built a second, secret plant for plutonium, a key material for nuclear bombs.
Roh was told by aides Monday that the Times report was "low in reliability," said Kim Man-soo, Roh's deputy spokesman.
"The president expressed concern about the phenomenon of unclear and groundless media reports throwing cold water on our economy," Kim said.
South Korean experts said North Korea would find it hard to secretly build another plutonium production plant. Yet they did not rule it out.
"Concluding that North Korea has a new, second plutonium plant is stretching it way too much," Roh's national security adviser said in an interview with Seoul's CBS Radio.
If true, a report that North Korea has built a second plant for producing weapons-grade plutonium could complicate diplomatic efforts to seek the verifiable dismantling of Pyongyang's nuclear facilities. It also poses a dilemma for President Bush if diplomacy fails and he is forced to consider military action.
Even if talks take place to check North Korea's nuclear ambitions, no quick result is expected. On Monday, North Korea said unless Washington "legally committed itself to nonaggression," it would not give up its nuclear programs.
"The nuclear issue between the (North) and the U.S. is a very acute matter of 'who beats whom.' Therefore, there can be no unilateral concession or compromise forced by one side. It can be settled only through negotiations based on the principles of fairness, equality and trust," said Pyongyang's official news agency KCNA.
In the past week, China, a longtime ally and key aid provider for North Korea, has dispatched its Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo to Pyongyang and then to Washington to press for a new round of three-way talks, which will later include South Korea and Japan.
North Korea has demanded one-on-one discussions with the United States, saying the nuclear issue is between it and Washington. The United States says the issue is a regional one and wants to include China, Japan and South Korea in five-way discussions.
In the first three-party meeting China hosted in Beijing in April, North Korea said it already had nuclear weapons but it was willing to give up its nuclear programs in return for economic aid and security guarantees. U.S. officials have ruled out a nonaggression treaty with North Korea but said they could consider less formal guarantees.
U.S. and U.N. officials are watching for signs that Pyongyang has begun producing weapons-grade plutonium, a process that emits a kind of krypton gas that U.S. sensors can detect. The Times reported that American officials confirmed that sensors on the North Korean border have detected elevated levels of krypton 85.
But the gas is apparently not emanating from North Korea's known Yongbyon nuclear site, leading American and Asian officials to believe North Korea has secretly built a second plant for producing plutonium, according to the Times.
A senior State Department official, speaking in Washington on condition of anonymity, said there was no hard evidence to back up the idea that there is a secret plutonium processing plant.
"There are suspicions such exists, but no hard evidence," the official said.
This month, North Korea told U.S. officials that it had reprocessed all of its 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods, a procedure that experts say could yield enough plutonium to make several nuclear bombs within months. U.S. officials are not sure whether North Korea is bluffing.
The nuclear dispute flared in October when U.S. officials said North Korea admitted having a clandestine, uranium-based nuclear program in violation of international agreements.
N.Korea Restates Demand as Nuclear Talks Seen
Monday, July 21, 2003
By Paul Eckert
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea restated on Monday its demand for a non-aggression treaty with the United States, resurrecting the communist state's old terms for resolving its nuclear crisis amid growing expectations of multilateral talks.
"If the United States dropped its hostile policy toward the DPRK (North Korea) and legally committed itself to non-aggression, the latter would be ready to dispel the U.S. concern," said the state-run KCNA news agency.
The KCNA commentary came shortly after a South Korean newspaper reported that nuclear crisis talks between North Korea, the United States and China are likely to be held on September 6 in the Chinese capital, Beijing.
The mainstream Korea Times quoted anonymous sources as saying an announcement would be made this week.
A South Korean government official said Seoul was unaware of any schedule for a second round of nuclear talks following a meeting of U.S., North Korean and Chinese officials in April in Beijing.
But Seoul has been encouraged after a flurry of diplomatic efforts by China, which sent a senior envoy to Moscow, Pyongyang and Washington this month to try to build momentum for talks to defuse northeast Asia's biggest security threat.
China has floated new talks formats to try to bridge the gap between mutually distrustful parties. Pyongyang demands bilateral talks with Washington, while the United States says only multilateral pressure can make a deal with the North stick.
Russia's top Asia expert warned the nuclear standoff between the United States and North Korea "could get hot" and urged the two countries to start talks, in any form, as soon as possible.
Deputy Foreign Ministry Alexander Losyukov, quoted by news agencies on a visit to South Korea, also said orders had been issued to test Russia's civil defense system on its far eastern borders in view of the worsening situation.
"Only talks can make things less acute. Signals from the main participants, primarily the United States and North Korea, are needed to ease tensions," Losyukov told Interfax.
"So far this is not happening, which is preventing the start of talks in any form. Meanwhile, the situation continues to deteriorate and is slowly sinking into a state of conflict which could get hot."
BOTH SIDES TALK TOUGH
The KCNA commentary resurrected the non-aggression pact demand that North Korea first made in October, days after the nuclear row erupted when U.S. officials said the North had acknowledged it had a covert atomic program.
In the earlier, inconclusive Beijing round of talks, North Korea sought the non-aggression pact, diplomatic normalisation and economic help first in exchange for dismantling its nuclear programs later -- a proposal the United States rejected.
KCNA did not mention three-way talks or other formats for negotiations. The Korea Times said an expanded meeting involving South Korea and Japan would follow September's three-way talks.
"The nuclear issue between the DPRK and the U.S. is a very acute matter of 'who beats whom'," it said.
"Therefore, there can be no unilateral concession or compromise forced by one side."
An editorial in Rodong Sinmun, the North's ruling party daily, insisting on the need for a treaty said: "Whether the nuclear issue between the two countries is settled in a peaceful way or by war depends on the U.S. action."
The United States rejects North Korea's portrayal of the nuclear dispute as a bilateral matter, saying Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions threaten neighbors South Korea and Japan and violate several key international arms-control agreements.
A senior U.S. official in Washington said last week that the American position in any future talks would be the same as it has been: an offer of a new relationship "if there is a complete transformation in the way North Korea does business on nuclear, biological, chemical and ballistic missile programs."
Officials with experience of negotiating with North Korea say Pyongyang's reiteration of a proposal that has been rejected reflects a tactic of stiffening demands just before entering talks to make subsequent proposals seem like concessions.
But Lee Jung-hoon, professor of international relations at Seoul's Yonsei University, said the non-aggression pact appeal was an attempt to convince the world that "the peninsula's stability is threatened by the U.S., not by North Korea."
-------- u.s. nuc weapons
[To reply - mailto:OPED@washpost.com ]
Facing A New Nuclear Reality
By Spencer Abraham
Monday, July 21, 2003
The United States took another step toward eliminating the last vestiges of Cold War nuclear weapons production in May when the Department of Energy awarded contracts for construction of fossil fuel power plants to replace three Russian nuclear reactors. These reactors produce not only heat and electricity but also weapons-grade plutonium, enough to build 11/2 nuclear weapons a day. When the new U.S.-financed power plants are constructed and the nuclear reactors shut down, weapons-grade plutonium will no longer be produced in Russia.
President Bush is deeply committed to reducing the number of our nation's strategic nuclear warheads by two-thirds, and to preventing nuclear and radiological materials from falling into the hands of terrorists. This $466 million project is the latest advancement in an aggressive nonproliferation effort that has expanded from $800 million to $1.3 billion per year since the president took office. That's why I was perplexed, during congressional debate on the defense budget by the hysterics over the $21 million that would allow our scientists to contemplate advanced weapons concepts that could be used to protect against 21st-century threats. (In all, some $6.4 billion in the budget is for Department of Energy nuclear weapons programs.)
This funding should not have surprised anyone. It is the logical result of early Bush administration initiatives, endorsed by Congress, to conduct a thorough review of the nation's nuclear weapons policy. That review determined that the 21st-century national security environment differs greatly from that of the past half-century.
Deterrence during the Cold War led to a predictable -- if chilling -- balance of terror that has now largely vanished. Henceforth threats will likely evolve more quickly and less predictably. It is a situation that demands the restoration of our capacity to meet new challenges.
Recently the United States has begun making great strides to rebuild those capabilities. Now, for the first time in more than a decade, we are able to manufacture a plutonium pit -- also known as a trigger -- an essential nuclear warhead component. The lack of this proficiency has seriously constrained our ability to maintain our nuclear stockpile. We have also launched a much-needed facility modernization program. But maintaining our capability to address 21st-century challenges requires more.
Should our scientists decide we cannot certify the reliability of our nuclear stockpile, we must be capable of conducting a nuclear test in a much shorter time frame than the current three years. The capacity to test within 18 months is a critical capability every president must have. We must also give our weapons scientists the resources and authority to explore advanced weapons concepts, including research related to low-yield weapons. Funding constraints and confusing legal prohibitions have stifled most new thinking on these issues. This has, in turn, made us less capable of devising the best responses to emerging threats.
The challenges posed by rogue nations or terrorists possessing weapons of mass destruction are strikingly different from that posed by the Soviet Union. Yet our best thinkers aren't being allowed to fully shift their focus from winning the Cold War to meeting new challenges.
Finally, we must move ahead to address one of the foremost military challenges identified in our recent review -- an enemy using hardened, deeply buried facilities to protect its weapons and other assets. We have just begun to explore whether modified existing warheads might be effective in attacking such targets. Similar analyses of the applicability of conventional weapons to addressing this threat are also being done.
We are not planning to resume testing; nor are we improving test readiness in order to develop new nuclear weapons. In fact, we are not planning to develop any new nuclear weapons at all. Our goal is designed to explore the full range of weapons concepts that could offer a credible deterrence and response to new and emerging threats as well as allow us to continue to assess the reliability of our stockpile without testing.
This is a sensible course that meets our national security requirements by restoring our capabilities and ensuring that we have the flexibility to respond quickly to any potential problems in the current stockpile, or to new threats that require immediate attention. Our policies are designed to strengthen the deterrent value of our nuclear weapons so that they don't ever have to be used.
The writer is U.S. secretary of energy.
-------- us politics
Democrats Start Anti-Bush Ad Campaign
By WILL LESTER
The Associated Press
Monday, July 21, 2003
CRAWFORD, Texas - Democrats are launching a television ad that accuses President Bush of misleading Americans on the nuclear threat from Iraq.
Republicans urged broadcasters not to carry the ad, set to be aired initially Monday in Madison, Wis., then elsewhere; they called it "deliberately false and misleading."
The Democratic National Committee has been raising money through an e-mail campaign that began July 10 to help finance the ad, which sharply questions Bush's veracity on Iraq's weapons.
The ad says: "In his State of the Union address, George W. Bush told us of an imminent threat. ... America took him at his word."
The video shows Bush saying, "Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
The ad continues: "But now we find out it wasn't true.
"A year earlier, that claim was proven false. The CIA knew it. The State Department knew it. The White House knew it.
"But he told us anyway."
Republicans claim the ad improperly quotes Bush because his entire statement was: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
DNC spokesman Tony Welch said: "With the British in there, the president's information is still false and misleading. It is exactly what the president said."
Some Republicans have argued Bush's statement was technically accurate because it attributed the findings about uranium to the British.
"You can say whatever you want in a fund-raiser," Republican spokesman Jim Dyke said, "but it steps over the line when you knowingly mislead people in your advertising."
Welch said the ad would be aired in Madison for about a week at a cost of nearly $20,000.
Efforts to get comment from Madison TV stations were not successful Sunday.
The ad squabble comes at a time when public trust in the president has been eroding, according to results released Sunday from a CNN-Time poll.
The poll found that 47 percent view Bush as a leader they can trust, while 51 percent said they have doubts and reservations. That's down from 56 percent who saw him as a leader they could trust in late March, with 41 percent having doubts.
The poll of 1,004 people taken Wednesday and Thursday had an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Bush must go
Colorado Daily News
July 21, 2003
Letter to Editor
The Bush Administration knowingly misled the nation into war. 10,000 innocent Iraqi civilians have been killed. The Iraqi environment has been contaminated with depleted uranium, and unexploded cluster bombs.
The Administration rained down an unprovoked blitz of over 14,000 Tomahawk missiles alone, at a cost of a million dollars each, on one of the poorest countries in the world the size of California, with a population that is 50% children.
The administration ignored international law. The voices of 40 Nobel Peace prize winners. The pleas of heads of all the world's main religions. The leaders of 90% of the planet's countries. Tens of millions of world citizens who marched against the war. The UN and a roster of prominent international environmental and humanitarian organizations who predicted the quagmire that the US faces today. The administration bragged, "It'll be a cakewalk...."
The Administration has bankrupted the US treasury. Hijacked the US Constitution, the US Bill of Rights, the government "of, for and by the people." While consolidating the "free press" necessary to democracy under control of a few corporations.
The Administration is the ground zero of corruption.
It must go.
San Francisco, CA
Bush welcomes EU president to ranch
Discussion will include weapons proliferation, Middle East conflict
By DAVID JACKSON
The Dallas Morning News
CRAWFORD, Texas - President Bush is giving ranch-style hospitality to a European leader who may be even less popular on the continent than he is.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is also temporary president of the European Union, though the start of his six-month term has solidified his reputation as one of the world's most outspoken - some say outrageous - political leaders.
Even before telling a German legislator he would be "perfect" for a role as a guard in a Nazi prison movie, Mr. Berlusconi faced criticism for a law granting him immunity from prosecution on bribery charges stemming from a 1980s business deal.
The White House, in announcing the Bush-Berlusconi meeting, said the two leaders "will discuss a range of issues, including stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, peace and security in the Middle East region, continuing the fight against terrorism and strengthening trans-atlantic relations."As he arrived at the Bush ranch in Crawford on Sunday afternoon, analysts said Mr. Berlusconi might be a less-than-ideal candidate to bridge the divide between the White House and Europeans who opposed the Iraq war.
"There's an awkwardness to the fact that Berlusconi is the temporary president of the European Union, simply because a cloud follows him around," said Charles Kupchan, an international relations specialist at Georgetown University in Washington.
Mr. Kupchan added that Mr. Bush and Mr. Berlusconi "seem to have pretty strong personal ties, and that certainly does some good at a time of EU-U.S. rivalry."
The agenda items could include international help for rebuilding Iraq, where a rising number of American troops have been killed in by guerrilla-style attacks.
In an interview with Time magazine, Mr. Berlusconi said many of his disagreements with critics boil down to the war on terrorism: "Some Europeans don't understand that the world changed radically after Sept. 11."
His visit to Mr. Bush's ranch, which ends Monday, is also a thank-you gesture. Mr. Berlusconi and another previous guest, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, have been among the staunchest allies of the Bush administration.
Once a lounge singer on a cruise line, Mr. Berlusconi is his nation's richest man, its largest publisher and the owner of three television networks.
Editorialists across Europe denounced Mr. Berlusconi's ascension to the EU presidency as an embarrassment, and it didn't take long for a controversy to erupt.
When a German lawmaker questioned the immunity arrangement, Mr. Berlusconi replied: "Mr. Schulz, I know there is a man in Italy producing a film on the Nazi concentration camps. I would like to suggest you for the role of kapo [guard]. You'd be perfect."
Most members of the European Parliament jeered the comment. Mr. Berlusconi's office later issued a statement of "regret for the fact that somebody might have misunderstood the sense of a joke that was only meant to be ironic."
Liberia Fighting Escalates; Mortar Bomb Hits U.S. Embassy
July 21, 2003
The New York Times
By SOMINI SENGUPTA with KIRK SEMPLE
MONROVIA, Liberia, July 21 - At least one mortar bomb fell on the American embassy in the capital of Liberia during intense fighting between rebels and government troops today as the first members of a contingent of 41 American Marines arrived to bolster security on embassy property.
The mortar round hit the embassy commissary as embassy staff and several dozen reporters were huddled inside a building in the complex, but no injuries were reported.
In the most intense day of fighting since rebels opposed to President Charles G. Taylor began to push into the city three weeks ago, the area around the embassy was subject to intense shelling and another mortar bomb struck a nearby compound owned by the American Embassy, injuring two Liberian security guards.
A reporter for Newsweek suffered minor injuries from shrapnel and was treated by medical personnel at the embassy.
Scenes of carnage and mayhem played out on the city streets, especially in the neighborhood of the American embassy. Screaming, wailing Liberians piled mutilated corpses in front of the embassy's shuttered gates, and a little boy carrying a plastic bag of greens was killed instantly when a piece of shrapnel punctured his head.
During brief interludes in the shelling, injured people hobbled out onto the streets; women clutched babies with head wounds, and others suffered from twisted limbs and fresh body wounds.
Liberian and American officials could not confirm whether the bombs were coming from the rebel side or the government side.
There were no official death counts but initial reports put the toll at about 50. The main city hospital was reported to be secure but the roads leading to and from the building were growing increasingly dangerous.
Shortly after the first team of Marines arrived today, 25 Americans and other Western nationals were evacuated in Pavehawk military helicopters. The group included United Nations officials, aid workers and two journalists.
A spokeswoman for the United States European Central Command in Stuttgart, Germany, said 23 of the people were Americans and included four military personnel and 19 American civilians.
The Marines joined the embassy's regular security force and 15 other Marines that were flown in on July 7 to accompany a humanitarian survey team that has been analyzing how the United States might help to end Liberia's armed conflict.
The arrival of the Marines pushes the number of American troops on the ground in Liberia to "more than 70" though fewer than 100, said Capt. Sarah Kerwin, the spokeswoman for the United States European Command. Captain Kerwin said the contingent's "primary mission is to enhance security," but she said the Marines will be prepared to evacuate the embassy if the State Department gives a formal evacuation order.
"They have the capability should it be needed," she said. "None of those words have been used, but should the need arrive, they can do it."
Captain Kerwin added: "They're taking mortar rounds. You can probably say that's a hairy situation."
Today's shelling was a continuation of fighting that broke out on Sunday as anti-government rebels pushed into the city, the government's last stronghold.
The rebel assault, the third in six weeks, was the fiercest and most sustained of the three.
Reports from witnesses in several neighborhoods suggested that the rebel army, whose only stated goal is to oust President Taylor, tried first to come into the city's center from the north on Sunday, then from the east. The day's fighting wounded dozens of civilians, swelled the temporary camps to bursting and risked a breakout of disease.
As Liberia descended further into chaos, peacekeepers promised by other West African countries had yet to arrive. President Bush, who has offered assistance to those peacekeepers, said last week that he was considering sending in American troops for a mission of limited scope and duration, provided that Mr. Taylor stepped aside. Liberia, which has historic links to the United States, has been unstable for many years.
"We don't see any sign of the fighting stopping," said Prince Jallabah, stranded in his apartment on one side of a bridge leading to the city center. Bursts of gunfire and shelling sent other people dashing through the streets for cover.
Stray bullets punctured the windows of a Roman Catholic school compound that now houses hundreds of displaced Monrovians. "One every half hour," Sister Barbara Brilliant, an American nun who runs the school, said this evening. "That's why we are on the floor."
By Sunday evening, rebels appeared in control of the port, while the government held the airport, on the city's outskirts. Downtown remained in government hands, and on Sunday afternoon, forces loyal to Mr. Taylor took advantage of that by going on a looting spree. Witnesses described armed men, as well as civilians, grabbing prizes: one had a kerosene stove, others had shoes and toys.
Bizarrely, a statement by the rebel group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, said it had no intention of capturing Monrovia. Later, a rebel figure, Kabineh Janeh, said by telephone from Ghana, where both sides said they remained in peace talks, that the advance was simply to stop assaults on rebel positions outside the city. "We are asking our troops to exercise restraint," Mr. Janeh added. "We do not wish to take over Monrovia."
Mr. Taylor, elected in 1997 after waging a guerrilla insurgency lasting eight years, promised to step aside but has refused to leave until peacekeepers arrive. Mr. Taylor, widely denounced for worsening the region's troubles, has been accused of providing aid to rebels in Sierra Leone in exchange for diamonds.
The violence has made most of the city impassable.
The already jam-packed, unhealthy shantytowns of people displaced by the fighting swelled once again, and a dwindling water supply, combined with a dearth of toilets, threatened to send cholera spinning out of control.
"We've got drugs, we've got staff, but if we can't get water in here, it will get really nasty," said Magnus Wolfe Murray, country manager for Merlin, the agency that runs health clinics and builds toilets at Greystone, a jammed United States Embassy-owned compound across from the chancery.
At Greystone, once a storage yard, the population doubled in the last day to more than 20,000, the agency estimates.
COALITION OF DECEIT
Dead UK govt' scientist feared 'Dark actors playing games,' but who are they - and why did they want to drag us into war?
July 21, 2003
by Justin Raimondo
In the moments before he set off on what was to be his final stroll across the hills and copses near his home, British government weapons expert Dr. David Kelly sent a number of emails to friends saying he was being haunted by "many dark actors playing games."
He was found dead, several hours later, an apparent suicide.
The British government is in a crisis, and the waves of panic are reverberating over on this side of the Atlantic, as the spiders' web spun by government spinmeisters comes unraveled. The rationale for war on Iraq turns out to have been woven from lies.
The ongoing controversy over the now infamous "16 words" is just the beginning of a scandal that is fast morphing into a much wider cause celebre. Niger-gate is turning into Fibber-gate.
We were told, by the Americans as well as the British government, that Saddam could launch a chemical or biological attack within 45 minutes of giving the order. That turns out to have been a figment of someone's imagination - but whose?
The President of the United States got up there and told the American people that a fleet of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) possessed by the Iraqis was capable of launching an attack on the continental U.S. and leveling American cities - so where is this sinister armada? And where the heck did Bush get such an outlandishly tall tale?
Dr. Kelly was supposedly the key source for a BBC report that the Blair government had "sexed up" the Iraqi WMD dossier in order to drag an unwilling nation into war. In Blair's England, where the right of free speech is ever more precarious, the government launched an all-out assault on the supposedly independent media organization - which does, after all, rely on government revenues - and Dr. Kelly's name had been deliberately leaked as the BBC's "mole" within the Ministry of Defense. He was dragged before a committee of Parliament, mercilessly grilled, kept holed up in a MoD "safe house," and ultimately found dead a few miles from his home.
Dr. Kelly committed suicide, as far as we know, but it is fair to ask: was he felled, in an important sense, by the "dark actors" he complained about in his final hours?
Shortly before Kelly's death, Julian Borger, writing in the Guardian, brought to light the existence of a network of some very dark actors - a faction of the British and American intelligence agencies that almost certainly was about to be exposed as the source of the disinformation put out by the Bush-Blair coalition of deceit.
In the period leading up to the invasion, as millions marched in the streets hoping to stop the rush to war, Newt Gingrich, the disgraced former Speaker of the House, made at least three trips to CIA headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, to browbeat analysts into projecting a more threatening picture of Iraq's military capabilities. But why, one has to ask, would anyone bother listening to a political has-been and well-known bore? Surely the CIA brass had better things to do.
"Mr Gingrich gained access to the CIA headquarters and was listened to," reports Borger, "because he was seen as a personal emissary of the Pentagon and, in particular, of the OSP."
The key link in an international chain of professional prevaricators, the OSP, or Office of Special Plans, was authorized by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and presided over by a cabal of neoconservative ideologues who "functioned like a shadow government," according to Borger. Bypassing both the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, they "cherry-picked" tidbits of raw intelligence, acting more like lawyers arguing a case than analysts probing for facts, and piped their propaganda directly to the President via Dick Cheney.
This story is nothing new: Seymour Hersh gave us a good look inside this network, and several writers have elaborated on a similar theme, but Borger provides some telling (and disturbing) new details:
"The OSP itself had less than 10 full-time staff, so to help deal with the load, the office hired scores of temporary 'consultants.' They included lawyers, congressional staffers, and policy wonks from the numerous rightwing thinktanks in Washington. Few had experience in intelligence. 'Most of the people they had in that office were off the books, on personal services contracts. At one time, there were over 100 of them,' said an intelligence source. The contracts allow a department to hire individuals, without specifying a job description."
This was, in effect, a welfare program for warmongers. In the great debate leading up to the war, one side was subsidized and succored by our tax dollars, the other was vilified, threatened, and harassed by paid shills and agents of the U.S. government. Over 100 of the pro-war pundits, professional screamers, and crusading "patriots" who make careers out of finding an "Islamofascist" under every bed were on the take.
Who were they? How much did they get? And how many of them are still sucking at the federal teat? The journalists among them surely need a little exposure, in this, the age of Jayson Blair. And what about all those think-tankers who managed to get on the Iraq war gravy train - how many of them were from such bastions of scholarly integrity as the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Security Policy, the Jewish Institute for National Strategic Affairs, and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies?
As U.S. troops took Baghdad, an article in the Financial Times reported on a rollicking party in the nation's capital:
"Billed as a 'black coffee briefing on the war on Iraq,' yesterday's breakfast for the influential hawks of the American Enterprise Institute was more of a victory celebration. With a few words of caution - that the war to oust Saddam Hussein was not yet over - the panel of speakers, part of the Bush administration's ideological vanguard, set out their bold vision of the postwar agenda: radical reform of the UN, regime change in Iran and Syria, and 'containment' of France and Germany."
Rollicking, that is, by neocon standards. The talk was of a measured triumphalism, and a sneering disdain for the defeated peace movement:
"The war was going well, said Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon's Defence Advisory Board. There were more anti-war demonstrators in San Francisco than Iraqis willing to defend their leader. The 'coalition of the willing' was growing."
As Perle, along with his fellow warmongers Michael Ledeen, and Bill Kristol, pontificated to an audience of like-minded Washington war wonks, how many in that room were not on the government payroll? It was, no doubt, a gathering of welfare queens and kings, and they had plenty to celebrate. Not only on account of their ideological victory - albeit a short-lived one - but also because they had personally profited handsomely. Perle has already been demoted for improper profiteering off his position with the Pentagon's Defense Advisory Board, and had to resign his chairmanship. How many of his fellow celebrants have similarly dubious relationships is a matter that needs to be thoroughly investigated.
Remember the "poverty pimps" of the 1960s and 70s, who were riding high on the liberal illusion that the welfare state could uplift the poor, if only we lavished enough dollars on social service bureaucracies and waged a "war on poverty"? Today, in the post-9/11 era, we have the propaganda pimps of the "war on terrorism," who in this age of perpetual war are guaranteed permanent and lucrative employment.
The media and at least two congressional investigations are now busy uncovering the trail of lies that misled us into war. If the scope of the investigation is not limited, and they follow the fibs and outright forgeries back to their original source, they are investigators are likely to discover that the neoconservative network inside the Washington Beltway acted like a conveyor belt feeding fantastic tales of Iraqi WMD directly to the Oval Office. The question then becomes how far the White House will have to distance itself from the resulting embarrassing revelations.
The unsavory concoction fed to the President and his top advisors was disguised as "intelligence" - to make it easier to swallow - and the President is still refusing to take personal responsibility for the fateful 16 words, or much of anything else. In order to maintain that stance, the White House is going to have to fob off the responsibility elsewhere, and there is some indication that this is already beginning to occur, with the President reprimanding National Security advisor Condolezza Rice and even outgoing presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer. Let's hope that the result of the political tornado now sweeping Washington replicates the plot of "The Wizard of Oz," and the house falls directly on the Wicked Witch of the OSP.
The "dark actors" in this tale of disinformation and competing spy agencies are shadowy, elusive creatures who wield enormous power with no compunctions about the consequences. Some are Americans, some British: others are Israelis, as Borger reports:
"The OSP was an open and largely unfiltered conduit to the White House not only for the Iraqi opposition. It also forged close ties to a parallel, ad hoc intelligence operation inside Ariel Sharon's office in Israel specifically to bypass Mossad and provide the Bush administration with more alarmist reports on Saddam's Iraq than Mossad was prepared to authorize. 'None of the Israelis who came were cleared into the Pentagon through normal channels,' said one source familiar with the visits. Instead, they were waved in on Mr. [Douglas] Feith's authority without having to fill in the usual forms."
Bypassing all the normal procedures and regular government agencies, agents of a foreign power - Israel - were admitted into the inner sanctum of the Pentagon, where they proceeded to clog the arteries of U.S. intelligence operations with misinformation.
The War Party, as we see, was hired on as a "consultant" to the U.S. government in the crucial period leading up to the invasion of Iraq. But what other government gave them succor and assistance? We have said all along in this space that the one country that stood to benefit from the war was not the U.S., but Israel. The war in Iraq, as Professor Paul W. Schroeder pointed out in The American Conservative,
"Would represent something to my knowledge unique in history. It is common for great powers to try to fight wars by proxy, getting smaller powers to fight for their interests. This would be the first instance I know where a great power (in fact, a superpower) would do the fighting as the proxy of a small client state."
Surely this is a case of the tail wagging the dog, but the explanation for this strange phenomenon is now coming out in the investigation into Liar-gate. If we look at the Iraq war as an intelligence operation directed by the one nation that stood to benefit, the answer to the question of how did we get into this mess becomes a little clearer.
No wonder the neocons were celebrating at that AEI shindig, lifting their coffee cups in a collective toast to a job well-done and gloating over their victory. No matter what the consequences of the Iraq war for the U.S., Israel's interests were well-served. Let Uncle Sam shell out $3.9 billion per month and let the President take the heat for misleading the nation with bogus information about the imminence of the Iraqi "threat" - the cabal's mission has been accomplished.
-------- chemical weapons
U.N. labor agency says chemical weapons chief was wrongly dismissed
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - The former head of the world's chemical weapons regulatory body was wrongly dismissed last year at the insistence of the U.S. government, according to a ruling at the International Labor Organization in Geneva.
Jose Mauricio Bustani was voted out of office as director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in April 2002, after Washington accused him of mismanagement and rallied other countries in a vote to have him dismissed.
At the time, Bustani's supporters said Washington wanted him removed not because he performed poorly, but because he supported making Iraq a member of the OPCW, which might have interfered with U.S. plans for war in Iraq.
The International Labor Organization, a U.N. body charged with arbitrating labor disputes at the United Nations and other international institutions, said that Bustani was improperly dismissed and awarded him $56,700 in damages to be paid by the organization.
The ruling was issued Wednesday but not publicly released.
In a copy of the July 16 decision obtained by The Associated Press, the court said Bustani was not given a fair opportunity to respond to Washington's charges, which it qualified as "extremely vague." It said the lack of due process in his dismissal was "an unacceptable violation of the principle on which international organizations' activities are founded, by rendering officials vulnerable to pressures and to political change."
It said that while the United States had followed procedures, Bustani should have had a chance to defend himself in a court free of political pressures.
The OPCW is charged with ridding the world of chemical weapon stockpiles and production facilities. It has 153 member countries, including the world's two largest possessors of chemical weapons, the United States and Russia. Member countries are subject to inspections of weapons and chemicals banned under the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.
If OPCW chemical weapons inspectors had gone to Iraq and, like U.N. weapons inspectors, failed to find banned chemical weapons, it could have hurt the Bush Administration's case for war.
Officials at the organization were not immediately available for comment.
Bustani's firing came one year after he was unanimously re-elected by the organization's member countries, including the United States, for a second four-year term. At the time, Secretary of State Colin Powell praised his leadership qualities in a personal letter.
In February 2002, The U.S. government began lobbying to have Bustani removed, saying he had not performed his job properly. However, government representatives declined to detail allegations of mismanagement, abuse of power and "destruction of staff morale." Bustani always denied wrongdoing.
Bustani called the ruling a "great relief," telling The Associated Press that he would donate the damages he won to an international cooperation program at the OPCW, based in The Hague, Netherlands.
Europe Still Studded With WWII Bombs
By WILLIAM J. KOLE
The Associated Press
Monday, July 21, 2003
VIENNA, Austria - They don't tick, but they're still time bombs capable of wreaking death and devastation.
Nearly six decades after the end of World War II, much of Europe remains studded with unexploded ordnance like the U.S. bomb that went off near Salzburg's train station last week, killing two men sent to defuse it.
Experts say it will take decades more to rid the continent of the war's enduring legacy: Nazi and Allied bombs, mines, missiles, grenades and other explosives.
"There are thousands upon thousands of unexploded bombs throughout Europe," said Colin King, a munitions expert with London-based Jane's Information Group, which analyzes defense and military issues.
Old bombs are turning up in surprising places:
- Last month, organizers preparing for a visit to Bosnia by Pope John Paul II unearthed six aerial bombs and a mortar grenade from beneath a platform where the pontiff was to address tens of thousands of pilgrims at a monastery.
- In November, Greek army experts removed a 250-pound World War II bomb at Athens' former international airport, which will become a sports venue for the 2004 Olympics. Work crews found it eight feet underground near a former runway.
- That same month, authorities sealed off streets and evacuated 400 people from their homes before detonating a bomb from World War II found on a building site near the center of Glasgow, Scotland's largest city.
It's not unusual for farmers working their fields in Belgium and France to hit a dud, sometimes with fatal results, or for beachcombers in Normandy to find bombs or shells - some dating to World War I - buried in the sand. Last spring, 9,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the northern French city of Lens so experts could defuse a 660-pound British bomb discovered during construction work near a soccer stadium.
In April, Russian workers defused a bomb that had been attached to a busy railway bridge near the city of Bryansk since World War II - and also discovered wartime mines on the territory of a nuclear power plant.
Salzburg, the quaint cobblestoned birthplace of Mozart, is strewn with at least 122 other bombs that could pack a punch similar to the 550-pound U.S. aircraft bomb that accidentally detonated Thursday, said Wilfried Althuber, the city's environment chief.
Salzburg's railway lines and train station were major targets of Allied bombing during the war, and many bombs from that period remain in the area.
Nationwide, experts say, the Allies dropped more than 120,000 tons of bombs, mines and incendiary devices across Austria, which Hitler had annexed in 1938. Up to 30 percent of those explosives never went off.
In World War II, "bombs penetrated diagonally and deeply into the soil," where they are slow to rust and break down, Althuber said.
In July 1996, one such bomb exploded in a park near a kindergarten, gouging a crater from the ground. No one was injured.
Werner Csidek, in charge of war-era munitions for Austria's national railway, told the Austria Press Agency that experts still must conduct a thorough search of Salzburg. He said U.S. aerial photographs taken after 1944-45 bombardments could help pinpoint the location of unexploded bombs.
The bombs are tricky to defuse because years of exposure to groundwater and frost have made them chemically unstable, Gerhard Proksch, who heads the Austrian Interior Ministry's bomb disposal unit, told Austrian state radio.
Europe isn't the only part of the world still dealing with such bombs.
In June, explosives experts in Singapore uncovered a cache of 843 unexploded bombs at a construction site near a former British military base. The bombs, still in a stable condition, were cleared out and destroyed in controlled explosions.
Nearly 200 bombs and artillery shells dumped offshore by the British military decades ago were removed last year from the site of a Disney theme park being built in Hong Kong. Most posed no danger because they had no fuses.
Deputy defense secretary says weapons issue is now secondary in Iraq
AP Military Writer
Monday, July 21, 2003
Finding the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that President Bush cited as his main justification for going to war is now a secondary issue, says Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.
In an interview Monday night aboard an Air Force jet en route to Washington following a five-day tour of Iraq, Wolfowitz said the task of settling the weapons question is in the hands of U.S. intelligence agencies.
"I'm not concerned about weapons of mass destruction," Wolfowitz told a group of reporters traveling with him. "I'm concerned about getting Iraq on its feet. I didn't come (to Iraq) on a search for weapons of mass destruction."
He also asserted that Iraqis themselves have little concern about the weapons issue.
"If you could get in a relaxed conversation with Iraqis on that subject they'd say why on earth are you Americans fussing so much about this historical issue when we have real problems here, when Baathists are killing us and Baathists are threatening us and we don't have electricity and we don't have jobs. Those are the real issues.
"I'm not saying that getting to the bottom of this WMD issue isn't important. It is important. But it is not of immediate consequence."
The CIA has put David Kay, a former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq, in charge of the search for illegal weapons.
Wolfowitz said Kay told him during a meeting Sunday that U.S. officials were having difficulty getting Iraqi prisoners to tell what they know about Saddam Hussein's chemical, biological or nuclear programs.
The Iraqi government claimed prior to the war that it had destroyed all the weapons of mass destruction it once held, and U.N. inspectors were unable to find evidence of any.
"I pushed him (Kay) a bit on why aren't these people talking. Why don't you, in effect, plea bargain with them," Wolfowitz said. "He said there is no concept of plea bargaining in this place. If you confessed you just got executed faster or tortured less."
Administration officials had hoped, and in some cases expected, to find evidence of chemical or biological weapons on the battlefield in the aftermath of the war, but so far nothing has turned up. Pentagon officials have said they believe the key is getting lower-level Iraqi officials to help.
"The people that we're holding still feel they have much more to fear from their old buddies -- still buddies -- than anything we do to them," he said. "So he (Kay) says it's going to be a painstaking process."
U.S. Is Creating an Iraqi Militia to Relieve G.I.'s
July 21, 2003
New York Times
By ERIC SCHMITT
BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 20 - The United States is creating a new Iraqi civil defense force within the next 45 days that is intended to free up thousands of American troops for antiguerrilla missions and to put an Iraqi face on the occupation's postwar security efforts, two top American generals said today.
The immediate goal is to field about 7,000 American-trained militiamen to protect supply convoys and replace American troops now guarding power plants and ammunition depots.
The new Iraqi Governing Council has strongly supported creating an Iraqi militia, which appears to go well beyond a proposal under consideration at the Pentagon to hire private contractors to provide security at sites around the country.
"Over time, it'll free up an awful lot of American forces," said Gen. John P. Abizaid, who is making his first visit to Iraq as the new head of the United States Central Command.
The persistent violence, two months after President Bush declared an end to major combat, was underscored today when two soldiers were killed and one was wounded in an ambush near Mosul in the north. Also today, an Iraqi driver for a United Nations agency died when his convoy was attacked near Baghdad.
In the southern city of Najaf, United States marines found themselves in a standoff with more than 10,000 mainly Shiite demonstrators, angered by rumors that American troops had harassed a cleric who had condemned the United States-led occupation.
Armed resistance to the American-led occupation is coming from a small number of "professional killers" drawn from "remnants of the old regime regrouping in squad-level attacks," said the United States administrator for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, on "Fox News Sunday."
The attacks pose "no strategic threat to us," Mr. Bremer said, in a guardedly upbeat assessment of conditions in Iraq. He cited as signs of progress the restoration of basic services, economic reforms and the recent establishment of the Governing Council, and he said it was "quite possible" that a constitutional conference, probably to open in September, could write a constitution that would lead to elections and a new government within a year.
Eventually, General Abizaid said, the Iraqi militia may also join American soldiers in joint raids against guerrilla fighters, who he said were waging increasingly sophisticated attacks against American troops.
The plan to establish an Iraqi civil defense force, first reported in The Washington Post, reflects the Pentagon's urgent priority to quell the mounting attacks against American troops and to use an interim Iraqi force to help do that until a larger Iraqi national army is formed in the coming months and years.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, who is nearing the end of a five-day mission in Iraq, has heard repeatedly from tribal and civic leaders that the occupation authority must give Iraqis a greater role in governing and securing their country in order for the American-led effort to have credibility with the Iraqi public.
Today, Mr. Wolfowitz said that recruiting Iraqis for security and intelligence tasks was essential for the rebuilding of Iraq to succeed. Small numbers of Iraqis and Iraqi-Americans have already served as interpreters and scouts for American commandos and regular forces. "We need more of these people," Mr. Wolfowitz said.
Establishing the militia as an interim Iraqi force is an acknowledgment that training and mobilizing an Iraqi national army will take years to accomplish. Bush administration officials in Washington and American commanders here say they cannot afford to wait that long.
Under the American plan, eight battalions with about 850 Iraqi militiamen each will train under and then work with army divisions in various regions around the country, said Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the commander of allied forces in Iraq. After 45 days, the second group of eight battalions, or nearly 7,000 more militiamen, could be recruited and trained, General Sanchez said.
The makeup of each unit would mirror the demographics of that particular region and would probably include both men and women. Previous military service would not be required but any officer who served in the Iraqi Army above the rank of lieutenant colonel would be barred. Local leaders would help identify militia recruits, who would receive basic training in human rights, weapons handling and patrol techniques.
"Probably the most important contribution they will bring will be putting an Iraqi face on the security problems of the country and ensuring that wherever our soldiers are, Iraqis are contributing to that security," General Sanchez said.
Many details still need to be worked out. General Sanchez and his boss, General Abizaid, focused on different aspects of the program.
General Sanchez said the forces would focus on basic duties like convoy protection, at least initially. "These are not forces intended to conduct offensive operations," General Sanchez told reporters during a lunch interview. "They will be on patrol with us. They will be on fixed sites."
Cautioning that he was not necessarily contradicting his subordinate, General Abizaid said the militia could eventually take on more challenging offensive missions but he did not say when that might happen.
"Over time, as confidence increases in working with these guys, we will ask them to do more and more complicated things," General Abizaid said at the lunch. "And it's important we do."
Some allied commanders have on their own already starting training Iraqi civil defense forces. The Army's 101st Airborne Division has trained one company of Iraqi militiamen in Mosul to guard an ammunition depot and is preparing to graduate three more companies. British forces in Basra, in the south, have organized a new Iraqi patrol force. General Abizaid said the American military needed to change its cultural mindset when it came to dealing with indigenous forces, adding that the United States needed to "train them and have them be prepared to conduct a full range of operations with us."
Recruiting for Iraq's new national army started recently, but American officials have said it will take a year to form an initial force of 12,000 soldiers and three years to create a 40,000-soldier force. The new militia could eventually be folded into the army, officials said.
"The important thing about the new Iraqi army is not the number of divisions or the type of equipment they have, but whether or not the officer corps respects the people they protect and serve the government," General Abizaid said.
Even as Mr. Wolfowitz has fielded Iraqi complaints for more security, he has telephoned his boss in Washington, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, at least twice in two days to try to agree on a workable militia plan, aides said.
The Pentagon is hoping that new Iraqi security forces and some 30,000 allied forces that will be arriving this summer will allow the United States to begin sending home many of the nearly 150,000 forces it has here now.
General Abizaid said the size and makeup of the American forces was likely to remain the same for the next few months, but he said he was planning to replace heavy armored forces that were needed in the war with lighter, more mobile troops that could patrol more efficiently in cities and respond quickly to fresh tips on the location of guerrilla fighters.
"A lot of people say if you just throw more troops at it, you're going to solve the problems," General Abizaid said. "But it's not a matter of boots per square meter. It's a matter of focused intelligence, and then troops that are agile enough to carry out missions in a manner that can cause surprise and take down the targets precisely."
Wolfowitz Warns Iraq's Neighbors Not to Interfere
Mon Jul 21, 2003
MOSUL, Iraq - U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz warned foreigners Monday not to interfere in Iraq, in remarks aimed at Iraq's neighbors and suspected foreign fighters who may have arrived in the country.
Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, told a news conference in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul that Washington would, however, welcome outside help.
"I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq," said Wolfowitz, who is touring the country to meet U.S. troops and Iraqi officials.
"Those who want to come and help are welcome," he said. "Those who come to interfere and destroy are not."
"I think our success will have a positive influence not just on Iraq but on the whole region," he said. "Some people are afraid of that influence and they are targeting us."
Washington has several times warned neighboring countries -- - in particular Iran and Syria -- to keep out of Iraq's internal affairs. Tehran hit back, saying Washington was being hypocritical, having invaded the country.
The U.S. military has also said some foreign fighters have been trying to slip into Iraq to mount attacks. During the war, foreign Muslims battled U.S. troops alongside Iraqi militiamen.
U.S. forces have faced a wave of guerrilla attacks since Saddam was deposed. Ambushes have killed 38 U.S. soldiers since May 1 -- including five since Friday.
In Najaf, a Sudden Anti-U.S. Storm
July 21, 2003
New York Times
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR
NAJAF, Iraq, July 20 - The cleric and the lieutenant colonel stood just inches apart under the broiling noon sun today, white turban to camouflage helmet, trading invective about the deployment of American troops in this holy city.
Behind the American officer, a line of about two dozen marines stood vigilant, their bayonets newly fixed to their rifles. Behind the cleric, a sweep of thousands of demonstrators, most of them trucked in from Baghdad, chanting slogans like "No Americans after today" and "No to America, no to colonialism, no to tyranny, no to the Devil!"
So lies the suddenly uneasy state of relations between the United States forces and the younger, more militant clergymen of Iraq's majority Shiite community.
Until now, interactions between the Americans and the Iraqis in Najaf have been calm, free of the random violence rampant in the country's Sunni heartland.
But a sudden storm erupted on Saturday after Moktada al-Sadr, the scion of a clan of beloved clerics and the most vocal supporter of Iranian-style theocracy in Iraq, asserted that American forces were encircling his home. They were bent on arresting him, his aides announced, after an incendiary sermon on Friday in which he rejected the American-appointed Governing Council and called for the formation of an Islamic army.
It was, said Lt. Col. Christopher C. Conlin, the commanding officer here, a deliberate misunderstanding.
There had indeed been Apache helicopters clattering overhead and extra troops on the streets, but that was to provide security for a visit by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, Colonel Conlin said.
The temporary ramping up of the United States presence could not be explained in advance for security reasons, and afterward the American officer relied on members of Najaf's City Council to pass the word. He wished the demonstrators would take their complaints to the new City Council.
The abrupt storm this weekend underscored a point made by a review of the Iraq reconstruction effort released last week by a panel from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. The lack of Iraqis involved in the reconstruction at all levels, widespread unemployment and woefully inadequate means of communicating what is happening to the country's 24 million people have combined to fuel an ever-higher level of frustration and anger about the American presence.
Men like Mr. Sadr and his followers, determined to harness that frustration to wrest a greater say in Iraq's future, are stepping into the void.
"They used to think that they could marginalize the Shiites, that we would accept anything," said Sheik Khalid al-Khatami, an aide to Mr. Sadr, standing on a balcony beneath the gold dome of the tomb of Imam Ali, the founder of the Shiite sect, as the clerics whipped up the crowd. "That is a false impression. Neither the Americans nor any of the foreigners know how strong we are."
Najaf is the home to four respected ayatollahs, the senior Shiite leaders to whom the faithful look for guidance on virtually all aspects of daily life. The ayatollahs and their supporters were conspicuously absent from today's events, because they view Mr. Sadr and his followers as little more than young hotheads determined to make a name for themselves by stirring up violence against the occupation.
Mr. Sadr's father, Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, was an outspoken defender of the Shiites before being gunned down in 1999 in a killing attributed to Saddam Hussein's henchman.
Out of respect for his father and not wanting to increase the younger cleric's allure, the ayatollahs and other Shiite political groups have mostly remained silent in public about the situation.
"Moktada Sadr and his supporters are trying to drag us into this kind of confrontation, this kind of division between Shiites on the street," said a spokesman for the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the most established Shiite group and a participant in the Governing Council.
But even the local Supreme Council office had apparently not gotten word that the American military movements on Saturday were not reacting to Mr. Sadr's Friday sermon. "The American policy should be calmer; they should not react so hastily to what he said," the spokesman added.
He and others say that much of the new militancy in the Shiite community is being pushed by former Baathists, happy to find any channel they can to create unrest.
Support for the demonstrators came from Iran, too. The protest opened with a message of support from Ayatollah Kathim al-Husseini al-Haeri, an Iraqi clergyman in the holy Iranian city of Qum. Members of the Governing Council were all American agents, he said in a message read aloud to the crowd, and the clerics were the legitimate rulers.
Random comments on the street appeared to show little support for the demonstration on Saturday among the people in Najaf itself, and even two clergyman wandering through the shrine were wondering what all the fuss was about.
"What do we need an Islamic army for?" said Riad Abu al-Awady, a 23-year-old Najaf resident. "Many members of my family fought in Saddam's wars and they are all dead. What Iraqis need is water, electricity, security, and we want to work."
Outside the headquarters of the United States forces here, on the old university campus, a young clergyman named Aws al-Khafaji, a member of Mr. Sadr's circle, made fiery speeches against the American military. He said the Americans were ruling through a "sissy" council, despoiling the holy city of Najaf with their presence, and spreading Western corruption.
Then he and a few others walked forward a few times to confront Colonel Conlin, at one point handing over a list of demands - including one that American forces leave the city immediately.
"He is frustrated because this city is peaceful and he has a low support base here," the officer said about Mr. Sadr. "This is the city of ayatollahs, and this is just a young, inexperienced guy."
But the young guy had deployed thousands of angry demonstrators on the Americans' doorstep. Colonel Conlin brought up a loudspeaker system of his own, addressing the crowd through an interpreter. His soldiers did not try to surround Mr. Sadr's house, he said, and they had no interest in arresting him.
The colonel said the unruly demonstrators were blaspheming in the city of Abraham, and he warned that they must disband or be considered a threat to the American forces.
Much of what the officer said was lost in the chanting of the crowd, and some of the translation was poor - the Arabic version suggested that the crowd must show respect or be considered a threat.
But the clergymen, after reluctantly agreeing that both sides would air their viewpoint before the city's most prominent ayatollah, took their supporters home. There would, they said, be another demonstration on Monday.
The wrath of the conquered
July 21, 2003
The New York Times
By GERHARD SPÖRL and BERNHARD ZAND,
America's GIs feel like living targets on Baghdad's streets, while the subjects of the accursed dictator Saddam Hussein complain more and more vocally about the arrogance and incompetence of their conquerors. The star of Gulf war champion George W. Bush is also beginning to fall at home.
56-year-old Chamis Sami al-Abid, a tomato, squash and cucumber farmer, construction machinery and beverage importer, owner of a shipping company, and the richest man in the small city of Faludja on the Euphrates River, has many good reasons to look forward to the arrival of American soldiers.
The small commercial empire he and his two brothers once took over from their father - about 100 employees, many millions of dollars in annual sales, two subsidiaries, one in Amman and the other in Dubai - suffered for years under Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. "Baghdad caused us nothing but trouble," says Abid. "We were just waiting for the end of Saddam."
Now Faludja has been liberated for the past three months, 13,000 US soldiers are camped on the grounds of a former Iraqi army base a few kilometers north of the city, the cadres of the formerly ruling Baath party have been driven away, corrupt officials have been sent home, and all trade restrictions have been lifted. Nevertheless, Abid sits in his city villa and waits bitterly for the first of the nightly US patrols.
"Just as the heat begins to let up, the first tank comes roaring along the street. The entire house vibrates. And this continues hourly until five in the morning." He says that Ahmed Husseini, the son of a neighbor, protested at the garden gate in early June. "The Americans simply shot him. These people don't know what they're doing."
Abid is a graduate of the University of Baghdad, and holds a doctorate in economics. He has travelled throughout Europe and the United States, and his English is good. But he is puzzled as to how the Americans have even managed to alienate such Iraqis as himself. He says: "The problem with the Americans is that they have no respect for us."
The mood in the US army camp on the outskirts of the city is no less dismal. "They told us that the fastest way home went through Baghdad," complains First Sergeant Anthony Joseph of the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division. "We captured the city, and now we're still sitting here."
First Sergeant Joseph is actually a press officer, and his job is to make sure that the image he projects of Camp "Dreamland" is as rosy as possible. But he isn't terribly interested in that. Like his fellow soldiers, he wants to go home.
The situation in the city became too dangerous for his fellow soldiers. With the exception of nightly patrols, the Americans have withdrawn their military presence from this notorious hotbed for resistance fighters 50 kilometers outside Baghdad. They hope that local police officers will be able to maintain order during the day. But there are far too few of them.
Now heat and inaction have paralyzed the GIs at Camp Dreamland. "All I know," says Sergeant Terry Gillmore, "is that morale has gone down; we just hang around and somehow we make it."
Once again, Faludja is listening to such anti-American voices as that of Chalil Daham al-Subeir. Al-Subeir, a sheikh from an influential tribe, has been mourning the death of his son Leith for the past three weeks. He is convinced that the Americans killed him. Since his son's death, he spends every evening sitting on the bank of the Euphrates with some of his most trusted friends, searching for ways to revenge his child. "America," he says, "is poisoning our morals and killing our sons."
Today, says Sheikh Subeir, he would not hesitate for an instant before taking back the deposed dictator, and his men enthusiastically jump up from their chairs. The sheikh tells them to quiet down and calls for his son Mustafa. A seven-year-old boy emerges from the crowd. His father places a hand on Mustafa's head and pulls his son toward him. Then he says, in a voice filled with hate: "I would have this child slaughtered for Saddam!"
Officially, the war ended on May 1, but American soldiers in Iraq are still dying every day. They are ambushed, ripped apart by rocket-launched grenades, picked off by snipers, cut to pieces by mines, or simply shot in the head from behind, like a GI who was in the wrong place at the wrong time - in front of Baghdad University.
The soldiers have a name for these enemies who are so difficult to detect: the "Ali Babas," named after the thieves from the "Thousand and One Nights." From their perspective, they have become moving targets during this post-war war and period of no peace, and this depressing situation could continue for a long time. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has just announced that he will probably send additional troops, most likely reservists from the National Guard, to help the 148,000 soldiers already in Iraq destroy the resistance.
134 US soldiers were killed during the six-week war. 90 have already lost their lives during the twelve-week "peace." Deaths are a daily occurrence, and the murders seem to be increasing instead of decreasing. The occupying power cannot decide whether this is a rebellion against foreign dominance or the work of remnants of the old regime, elite troops of the Republican Guard and the Fedajin Saddam, people who would have no future in a new Iraq.
It's probably a combination of the two, as well as Al Qaeda-inspired terrorists flowing into Iraq from neighboring countries, and common criminals whom Saddam promptly released from the prisons just before the war began. Now they are hunting US soldiers and are supposedly being paid a bounty of 5,000 dollars a head. Their headquarters lie in the central Iraqi "Sunni Triangle" surrounding Baghdad.
These irregulars travel in smaller groups or cells of about 50 men apiece. They communicate with one another with red and green signal rockets, gunshots or whistles, anything to avoid using mobile telephones. They have mortars, anti-tank weapons and SA-7 anti-aircraft rockets. They are organized regionally, and there are signs that something akin to nationwide coordination already exists.
Is this already an Iraqi guerilla force? Is America, in the wake of its unmatched military success, failing during the current occupation period, which is becoming more and more swamp-like?
A war of words has erupted in America, a war surrounding words like "guerilla" and "swamp," words used to conjure up nightmarish images of Vietnam. Last week General John Abizaid, the new Chief of Central Command in charge of all military operations in Iraq, surprisingly admitted that the Americans are facing "classic guerilla-type warfare." It is precisely this historically loaded choice of words that the Pentagon and the White House had thus far taken great pains to avoid.
The victory over Saddam is considered groundbreaking, because it was based on a bold military strategy and because the war ended more quickly and with fewer losses than had been feared. Since then, however, doubts surrounding this victory have become steadily more insistent. The Americans are experiencing how the Blitzkrieg of yesterday is transforming itself into an eternity.
Instead of dying under a hail of bombs, Saddam is still at large and is apparently making his voice heard periodically from wherever he is in hiding. Instead of jubilation over liberation from a dictatorship, a power vacuum has developed. Instead of the quick introduction of democracy in Iraq and the establishment of a model for the entire Middle East, self-government, free elections and a liberal constitution will only become reality after a considerable delay. Instead of pulling out its occupying army by the end of this year, Washington now expects to remain in Iraq for two to three years.
Everything is more difficult, everything takes longer, the superpower's optimism is dissipating quickly, the US government is being forced to legitimize its actions, and Bush' popularity has declined dramatically for the first time since September 11, 2001. According to a "Newsweek" survey, Bush' approval rating has dropped 21 points to its current level of 53 percent, which is about where it was before the attacks on New York and Washington.
Of course, Iraq is still a long way from becoming another Vietnam, at least at this point. Nevertheless, the "L word" ("L" for "Lie") is weighing heavily on the President. Bush is accused of having used false information as justification of the need for war. Of all people, Bush, who so inimitably separates good and evil, manipulated his own country and the world with a grand gesture of truth, all to justify a war that he wanted to wage quickly and under his own terms.
Last week, George W. Bush and his guest Tony Blair attempted to remind the sceptics of the overriding purpose of the war - regime change. The United States had had at its disposal "clear and compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein" represented "a threat to security and peace," said the President.
In referring to the information obtained by his intelligence services, the British prime minister, who received thundering applause in Congress for his fiery justification of the war against Iraq, insisted that "the truth will say that this intelligence was good intelligence. There's no doubt in my mind." But Blair has also become more cautious: "Even if there were no weapons of mass destruction, we removed the tyrant from Iraq."
Soon afterwards, the prime minister was faced with a new crisis: Last Friday, former British UN weapons inspector David Kelly, who had allegedly exposed the falsification of evidence to the media, was found dead.
In America, the wave of patriotism that gripped the country after the terrorist attacks and carried it through two wars gradually seems to be subsiding. When asked whether it was politicians or members of the intelligence community who manipulated the truth, many US citizens now point to the Pentagon and the White House. It was no coincidence that Vice President Dick Cheney made frequent trips to CIA headquarters in Langley before the war, so as to arm himself with the right arguments, nor is his current genteel reticence a coincidence. Rumsfeld, for his part, created a small department at the Pentagon to review CIA analyses he considered overly cautious, and to promptly produce the desired outcome.
For the first time since September 11, 2001, the opposition is making itself heard with open criticism of the president. Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy is at the head of the pack, claiming that Bush' post-war policies "are built on a quicksand of false assumptions, and the result has been chaos for the Iraqi people, and continuing mortal danger for our troops." At the same time, he has urged that the United States move for a UN resolution under which NATO would be asked to assume responsibility for reconstruction in Iraq. The Democratic presidential candidates are also weighing in. "In some respects, this administration has a problem with the truth," said John Edwards, the boyish senator from North Carolina. His colleague from Florida, Bob Graham, has taken this a step further, claiming that the manipulation of the evidence of Saddam's intentions constitutes a sufficiently serious crime to justify impeachment proceedings - just as an apparent lie served as the basis for impeachment proceedings against Bush' predecessor Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, a new television commercial uses a play on the words "leader" and "misleader" to impress upon viewers the idea of Bush the leader, a man who misled his people and the world.
Unlike the case of Tony Blair in England, however, the debate surrounding the legitimacy of the war has yet to undermine the authority of the US president. The alleged weapons of mass destruction do not carry the same significance for the Americans as for the British. In the mind of the American public, the war against Iraq is, for the most part, a second strike in the collective retribution for the attacks of September 11, 2001. For this reason, the daily death toll among US soldiers in Baghdad, Najaf and Faludja is still a greater cause for concern with the American people - as well as the fact that the chaos in Baghdad simply refuses to go away.
Every day, the Americans hand out street maps of the Iraqi capital, on which dangerous neighborhoods are marked in black. So far, the danger zones have not become smaller. Gunfire can also be heard there during the day, and the gunshot wound victims being treated in hospitals still outnumber the victims of traffic accidents. Thick smoke still hangs over some parts of the city, where arson is just as much a part of the daily routine as muggings and car theft. Baghdad's residents who, for the most part, stoically endured even the hail of US bombs, now complain about how unsafe life has become.
There are still daily power failures, a problem partly attributable to attacks on power plants and transformers. However, because there are too few specialists among the 2,000 civilian employees reporting to the 61-year-old American administrator, Paul Bremer, the US military is forced to send out its soldiers to maintain the power supply.
And they're barely able to muddle their way through.
Until recently, the Americans were still talking about Iraq's reconstruction being financed by its immense future oil revenues. But those revenues will be a long time in coming. Although the US civil administration has now been able to sell the first oil pumped after the war, it still has to import gasoline from neighboring countries to avert constant bottlenecks.
The mistrust is mutual. As the Iraqis protest ever more vocally, the occupiers retreat behind their protective walls and into their fortresses whenever possible. Their priority, as the new supreme commander Abizaid has also confirmed, is the hunt for Saddam Hussein.
To that end, special forces of the US army have once again combed through the bomb crater in the upper-class Baghdad neighborhood of Mansur left by remote-controlled precision weapons on April 7. Seventeen truckloads of debris from the apartment building in which Saddam was supposedly hiding were brought to the military airport. From there, the debris was flown to the United States, where scientists will examine it for traces of DNA, using the same methods used to identify victims of the World Trade Center attack.
35 of the 52 protagonists from the Saddam nomenclature the Pentagon had pictured on playing cards have now been captured. The most prominent figure is Abd al-Hamid Hamud, the dictator's security advisor and secretary, who had just returned from Syria with a forged passport and Belorussian identification papers. Could this indicate that Saddam and his trusted circle are really in exile there?
Each new capture raises hopes that it will provide new information on the escape routes of Saddam and his sons. The search for the three men lies in the hands of Task Force 20, a secret military unit whose existence the Pentagon has now officially acknowledged. Its arsenal includes spy satellites, reconnaissance aircraft, and drones armed with Hellfire rockets.
The special unit was deployed again on July 9. Shortly before sunrise, tanks and soldiers surrounded an isolated farm northwest of Baghdad. It belongs to a cousin of Saddam, and locals had seen "many new cars" parked there. Intercepted telephone calls supported the assumption that Saddam and his entourage could have taken refuge there.
Apache helicopers circled over the property while speedboats idled nearby in the Tigris. But the house the soldiers stormed was abandoned. There was fresh bread in the kitchen, and sweat-drenched men's clothing suggested a hasty departure. False documents and pieces of paper with satellite telephone numbers were seized, while a machine gun, antitank rockets and explosives were found in the garden.
By now the Americans believe it is possible that Saddam had already planned his escape underground and the guerilla war prior to his defeat. "Newsweek" has cited an Iraqi secret service document, which allegedly contains the command "to take appropriate action against the American-British-Zionist coalition after the fall of the Iraqi leadership." This included eleven steps, from looting and arson to acts of sabotage against power plants and the murder of mullahs - in short, anything that contributes to chaos.
The as yet unsuccessful hunt for Saddam is fast becoming a myth of the deposed dictator no one is able to catch. Last Thursday, he apparently delivered his third taped message, in which he derides the Iraqi National Council, established last week at the instruction of US administrator Bremer. As long as Saddam remains at large, the guerilla movement will remain active.
Career diplomat Bremer is attempting to fill the power vacuum by making drastic decisions. The 25 members of the National Council closely reflect the ethnic and religious makeup of the country; 13 are Shiiites, who constitute 65 percent of the total population. Although the council is intended as an advisory body for Bremer, it took him by surprise by sending two emissaries to New York, who intend to lay claim to the representation of their country before the UN Security Council on Tuesday. Ahmed Chalabi, a third council member and former exile politician whose position is now severely compromised, refused to make the trip because the Americans were only willing to provide a military transport plane. He wanted an upholstered seat.
Bremer is making a considerable effort to win over unsuspicious portions of the old establishment. 250,000 soldiers of Saddam's army are still being paid a salary of between 50 and 150 dollars, and 1.3 million civil servants have also remained on the payroll. 70,000 police officers will soon be deployed to help bring about law and order, and to facilitate the occupying army's withdrawal from cities and villages. To date, however, not even half of these officers are performing their duties.
America's experience these days is paradoxical: Although it is a vastly superior superpower, its solo efforts have rather narrow limits. It can win wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and, in doing so, take revenge for September 11th. But the actual trophies, Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, remain elusive, diminish the victory, and inspire resistance.
The United States can claim that the UN and NATO have lost their significance, and it can even divide Europe into regions friendly and hostile to America, into a new and an old Europe, but their unilateralism quickly and drastically imposes limits. It is for this reason that, following the capture of Baghdad, a renaissance of international cooperation is taking place, a virtual rebirth of diplomacy.
In dealing with North Korea, America hides its cluelessness behind its request that China, in particular, do its best to exercise its influence over Kim Jong Il.
Multilateralism instead of unilateralism is also the order of the day in dealing with Iran. Russia and the European Union are pressuring the mullah regime to refrain from building nuclear weapons. In contrast, Washington's threats of making Iran or Syria the next targets of regime change have gradually subsided. And the "Road Map" for peace between the Palestinians and Israelis is a joint effort by the EU, the United Nations, Russia, and the United States. Now Washington is even asking for a Security Council resolution to send peacekeepers to Liberia.
The United States has overtaxed its own strength. During the current fiscal year, the Bush administration faces a deficit of 455 billion dollars, one third more than predicted. Stationing 148,000 troops in Iraq costs 3.9 billion dollars a month. Millions of Iraqis are more dependent than ever on the distribution of food and medical aid.
Just how much reconstruction is costing is concealed by a tangle of numbers that even the US Congress has found difficult to decipher. The occupying power still has about seven billion dollars for non-military purposes at its disposal. This includes one billion from development funds, 1.7 billion from frozen Iraqi assets in other countries, and 1.6 billion from oil business concluded before the war.
In the long term, oil will be the only means of refilling the official coffers of the new regime - 15 to 22 billion dollars a year, based on the current oil price, and provided two to three million barrels are drilled each day. But as long as the Iraqi oil industry is dominated by chaos, anarchy and sabotage, this will remain an illusion.
Under the Geneva Convention, the occupying power is responsible for all problems in the occupied country and, therefore, must pay the associated costs. Until now, the Bush administration has viewed other countries' efforts to have a say in the matter as meddling, regardless of whether these efforts have come from Europe or the United Nations. This is beginning to change. During the past few days, there has been talk of distributing the burdens associated with ongoing work in Iraq over the next four years. The 1991 Gulf War is inevitably being used as a model. At that time, Japan, Germany and the Gulf states assumed 52 of the 61 billion dollars in costs. It was the golden age of checkbook diplomacy.
The United Nations have scheduled a donor conference to finance reconstruction in the occupied Iraq for October. 50 interested countries have been invited, as well as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and independent aid organizations.
France, Great Britain and the US have agreed in principle to participating in an international Iraq fund. "As great as the differences of opinion on the war were, we do after all share a common interest in a stable, flourishing and open Iraq," said Chris Patten, the EU Commissioner for External Relations.
But now the Europeans are also insisting on what they were denied immediately after the war - a truly significant role for the United Nations in Iraq. This time the circumstances are more favorable. As the political, monetary and military fiasco in Iraq grows, the Bush administration, bent on attaining dominance, will be all the more forced to be willing to compromise.
In any event, an average of 20 armed assaults on US soldiers in Iraq every day are increasing pressure on Bremer to return more and more responsibility to the Iraqis themselves. He currently anticipates that Saddam's former subjects will be able to go to the polls and vote on a new constitution during the second half of 2004.
To one visitor to Iraq from Washington, things are clearly not moving quickly enough: Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, who was filled with optimism when promoting the war. His ultimate dream is of an imperial America, one that brings peace and freedom to the Middle East. But he too is now faced with Iraq's sobering reality: "I am here to gain a better understanding of what must be done during this period of transition," he says.
Translated by Christopher Sultan
-------- israel / palestine
Tense Meeting of Sharon and Abbas Ends in Stalemate
July 21, 2003
The New York Times
By JAMES BENNET
JERUSALEM, July 20 - The Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers emerged from a tense two-hour meeting here today at loggerheads. Rebuffing Palestinian demands for immediate troop withdrawals and the release of prisoners, Ariel Sharon of Israel said Mahmoud Abbas, his Palestinian counterpart, must first dismantle militant groups.
Both sides indicated some flexibility and a willingness to keep talking. But the essential stalemate in their positions shifted the focus of diplomacy to Washington and to meetings each prime minister plans in the coming days with President Bush, again drawing Mr. Bush into coaxing and judging progress under a new peace plan.
Both sides appear to have adopted a practice of making their concessions in the presence of the Americans, to demonstrate to Washington a willingness to compromise under the plan, called the road map. Mr. Abbas is to meet with Mr. Bush on Friday, and Mr. Sharon is to see him the following Tuesday.
On July 6, the Israeli cabinet voted narrowly to release several hundred Palestinian prisoners. But Israel has not yet taken that step. Senior officials said today that Israel was unlikely to release the prisoners until after the White House meetings.
One Israeli official said a release would help not Mr. Sharon but Mr. Abbas, by giving him "goodies when he comes back from the U.S."
The peace plan does not call for the release of prisoners, but Israel says it regards that step as a good-will gesture to help Mr. Abbas, who remains unpopular among Palestinians. Israel is holding more than 5,800 Palestinian prisoners.
Both sides show signs of new flexibility on this issue. In an interview on Saturday, Mr. Abbas said he did not expect Israel to release the prisoners all at once, but in groups every couple of weeks. He proposed criteria for those to be released first that were similar to those set by Israel on July 6, including youths under 18, women and elderly men.
For their part, Israeli officials say Mr. Sharon is considering expanding his criteria to include members of the militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Israel continues to say it will not free those with "blood on their hands," but Raanan Gissin, Mr. Sharon's spokesman, said, "There are still several thousand that don't have blood on their hands."
But he said Israel could not begin releasing more prisoners until Mr. Abbas took action.
In the interview on Saturday, Mr. Abbas rejected the exception for those with blood on their hands, arguing that both sides committed violence. "We were in war," he said.
In today's meeting, the two sides agreed that Hisham Abdul Razeq, the Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs, would meet soon with Avi Dichter, the chief of Israel's Shin Bet security service, to discuss Israel's criteria for releasing prisoners. Mr. Abdul Razeq is himself a former prisoner, while Mr. Dichter oversees Israel's intelligence operation, including interrogations, in the occupied territories.
This was the fourth bilateral meeting between the prime ministers. It had been scheduled for July 9, but Mr. Abbas postponed it after Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, attacked him as having gained little in exchange for concessions to Israel. The two men have since resolved their dispute, at least temporarily.
While the last meeting between the prime ministers, on July 1, included joint statements and warm handshakes before the television cameras, this one occurred with no such fanfare. Many Palestinian officials criticized Mr. Abbas for that previous appearance, at which he stood behind a lectern decorated with a symbol of the Jewish state. They said he risked looking like an agent of Israel.
On June 29, Israel withdrew from parts of the Gaza Strip and on July 2 from most of Bethlehem in the West Bank, pulling back in accordance with the peace plan from areas that, under the 1993 Oslo accords, it had previously ceded to Palestinian control. Palestinian forces resumed responsibility for policing in those areas.
Israel has refused to withdraw from other areas, which it seized last year in response to a series of suicide bombings, until it determines that Mr. Abbas is dismantling militant groups.
Israeli officials acknowledged that a result of that position was that most West Bank Palestinians had seen little tangible change as yet. They said Israel's defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, would consider easing some checkpoints and other restrictions on Palestinian travel through the West Bank.
In a statement, Mr. Sharon's office said he had told Mr. Abbas "that Israel cannot ignore that terror and incitement have decreased of late, and it is noticeable that the Palestinians are making an effort regarding this." But he said terrorists had been rearming during the lull since late June, when the three main Palestinian factions announced that they were suspending attacks on Israelis.
Mr. Sharon said Mr. Abbas needed to "take immediate and definite action to dismantle the terror organizations." Once that happened, he said, "Israel's ability to answer the needs of the Palestinians will be significantly increased."
For now, Israelis are taking advantage of the Palestinian groups' declared cease-fire. Downtown Jerusalem was crowded late Saturday night with young people thronging to bars and restaurants.
Mr. Abbas said in the interview that the governing Palestinian Authority was also using the cease-fire to rebuild. He said that it would strictly enforce the cease-fire and collect weapons from people carrying them in the streets, but that it would not provoke a civil conflict with Hamas or Islamic Jihad by, for example, searching homes for guns, as Israel demands.
Mr. Bush may ultimately have to resolve that disagreement.
Mr. Abbas also asked in the meeting today that Israel lift its siege on Mr. Arafat, the president of the Palestinian Authority, who has been confined in effect to a compound in Ramallah for more than a year. Mr. Abbas was said to have argued that it would strengthen him politically if Mr. Arafat had freedom to move.
Israeli officials said Mr. Sharon had replied that Mr. Arafat was free to leave, but that he might not be permitted to return.
In what seemed an effort to show that he was backing Mr. Abbas, Mr. Arafat affirmed today a decree he first released in 1998 banning groups that espouse violence.
Curfew's Gone, but Troops Still Hem In Hebron Family
July 21, 2003
The New York Times
By GREG MYRE
HEBRON, West Bank, July 15 - The Palestinian uprising that began three years ago inflicted instant hardship on the Karaki clan. The 70 members of the extended Palestinian family were confined to their large compound in the center of Hebron for days at a stretch under Israeli military curfews.
Today, more than 80 Karakis live in the two large stone homes inside the walled property, roughly half of them children with unlimited reserves of pent-up energy. For the adults, the Middle East peace initiative has brought hope, but no real confidence, that a bit of normalcy might return to their constricted lives.
"When will we be able to move around freely?" said Abdel Wahab Karaki, 57, the oldest of six brothers who live with their six wives and dozens of children and grandchildren. "It's a constant headache with the kids stuck inside and the soldiers right outside. There is no amusement park, no green space to play. I don't think our kids have seen a park in almost three years."
With violence down, Palestinians are demanding that Israel withdraw from Palestinian towns as stipulated by the peace plan, known as the road map, that was initiated more than a month ago. Israel has pulled back forces in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank, but it says further withdrawals depend on the Palestinians' demonstrating a readiness to prevent attacks against Israel.
Hebron, where about 450 Jewish settlers live in a few small enclaves among some 150,000 Palestinians, illustrates how complicated it will be to move forward with the peace plan when mutual suspicion runs so deep.
Under a previous agreement, Israel is permitted to keep troops in the center of Hebron to guard the settlers, even if the soldiers leave other parts of town. This allows the military to maintain strict control over 30,000 Palestinians, including the Karakis, who live in central Hebron.
The army pulled back in the outlying parts of Hebron last fall. But since then, 27 Israeli civilians and security force members have been killed in the area, according to David Wilder, a spokesman for the settlers.
"Any withdrawal of troops is a recipe for disaster," Mr. Wilder said. "Every time the soldiers pull out, Israelis get killed. There's much more Israeli security here today than three years ago. It's unfortunate, but it's absolutely necessary."
Hebron has long stirred Jewish-Arab tensions. Arab rioters killed 67 Jews here in 1929. A Jewish settler, Baruch Goldstein, shot dead 29 Muslim worshipers in 1994 at the town's most important shrine, the Cave of the Patriarchs, which is sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians.
Soldiers now keep the Israeli and Palestinian sides completely separate. Mr. Karaki estimates his neighborhood has been under curfew for close to half of the past 33 months. The men have been able to work only sporadically. Schooling has been disrupted. The market has been closed.
Even when the curfew is lifted, as has been the case for the past three weeks, soldiers still block most roads. The holy site is just a block away, but requires a roundabout journey of several miles to reach.
The family acknowledges a powerful dependency on a satellite dish delivering 347 television channels.
"If we didn't have this, we would explode," said Mr. Karaki, adding that it is usually tuned to Al Jazeera and other Arab news channels. "We have all become expert political analysts, but we are sick of the news."
Eight babies have been born to the clan since the fighting began, and three more are expected by the end of the month. Three weddings have brought young brides into the family.
"We have no work, no entertainment," said Fahmi Karaki, 52, another of the brothers. "There's nothing to do but make babies."
The population boomlet has strained the limits of the compound. "We have reached the point where some people need to live outside," said Abdel Wahab Karaki, a father of 10 and grandfather of 14. "If someone wants to marry, we say, `Look for a house elsewhere.' "
The two homes are spacious, well appointed and shockingly neat considering all the youngsters. The children have few toys and dart around in clusters, entertaining themselves on the blacktop between the homes, each with three levels. Small gardening plots just inside the walls have grapes, figs and lemons.
School is out now, and a curfew is in effect only on Fridays and Saturdays. Still, the children have nowhere to go because soldiers block most streets. Ayman Karaki, 19, who works part time at a metal factory, rolled his eyes when asked if there was anywhere to go in the evenings. "I spend my life here with my cousins," he said. "I used to have friends in other parts of Hebron, and we played soccer or watched matches. Now I can't do anything like that."
Mr. Wilder said Palestinians had only themselves to blame. The army restrictions had eased a bit, but on May 17, a Palestinian suicide bomber, disguised as a religious Jew, made his way into the center of Hebron and killed a Jewish couple.
"That's what happened when there wasn't a curfew," Mr. Wilder said. "If they want to have a more normal life, which I don't object to, then it has to be possible for a Jew to walk down the street without getting stabbed or blown up."
The settlers in Hebron are among the most hard-line and ideological, while the town is also a hotbed for Palestinian militants.
Soldiers have searched the Karaki compound, but have never made any arrests, Abdel Wahab Karaki said. Through such unwanted contact, he has come to know the soldiers. Some are kind, even "sweet," he said. Some soldiers apologize in advance for the searches, others are "aggressive and arrogant."
Mr. Karaki insists that his family members are not involved in the current conflict. This has not always been the case. One nephew, Aladin, now 30, was convicted of involvement in the killing of an Israeli in 1992, and he remains in prison.
"We want a political solution that puts an end to our suffering," Mr. Karaki said. "Do you think a military solution can be achieved?"
SADDAM BELIEVED TO BE OPERATING FROM SYRIA
Mon, 21 Jul 2003
Middle East Newsline
WASHINGTON [MENL] -- The United States is quietly examining the prospect that deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is operating from Syria.
Western intelligence sources said the United States is reviewing evidence that suggests that Saddam and his younger son, Qusay, might have succeeded in escaping to Syria. They said an examination of radio intercepts as well as other circumstantial evidence point to them relaying orders and funds from Syria to Sunni strongholds north of Baghdad.
"At this point, there are only bits and pieces," a senior intelligence source said. "But it has interested some in the U.S. intelligence community to focus on whether Saddam is either living in or operating from Syria."
The sources said the Defense Department and the U.S. military have assessed that Saddam's senior aides, if not the deposed president himself, fled to Syria in April. They said the Iraqis might have received help from Belarus or Russia, close allies to the Saddam regime.
Turkey Says U.S. Wants It to Send Troops to Iraq
July 21, 2003
New York Times
By DEXTER FILKINS
ISTANBUL, July 20 - The Bush administration has asked Turkey's leaders to send troops to Iraq to help stabilize the country, the Turkish prime minister said today.
Such a request, if confirmed, would come during a period of exceptional tension between the two longtime allies. Earlier this month, American soldiers detained 11 Turkish troops in northern Iraq on the suspicion that they were trying to kill an American-backed Iraqi official.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today in a speech that the United States had asked the Turks to send soldiers into Iraq as part of a proposed multinational force to help the Americans maintain order there.
Mr. Erdogan offered few details of the request or whether his government might grant it. Hurriyet, a leading daily newspaper here, said today that the Americans had asked the Turks to send 10,000 troops to Iraq. It cited unidentified sources.
An American official in Ankara, the capital, would not confirm Mr. Erdogan's assertion but said the two countries had discussed the issue during a visit by senior American military officers here last Friday.
The Bush administration has been searching for allies to pick up some of the burden there. Last week, the government of India said it would not send peacekeeping troops to Iraq unless they operated under the auspices of the United Nations. France rejected a similar request.
Relations between the United States and Turkey, which have been NATO allies since 1952, have been through their roughest spell in years. In March, Turkey rejected an American request to allow thousands of troops to use the country as a base from which to launch a northern front against Saddam Hussein.
-------- puerto rico
End of live bombing at Vieques makes base, jobs expendable
July 21, 2003
By James G. Lakely
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Stopping the U.S. Navy from conducting live-fire bombing exercises on the tiny Puerto Rican island of Vieques was a hot cause for leftist activists, Hollywood stars and Democrats in Congress in 2001.
The pressure ultimately led to President Bush deciding to end 60 years of live bombing at Vieques - the final wisps of smoke blew in May - and conduct exercises elsewhere, such as the Florida Keys and the North Carolina coast.
But the victory in the Battle of Vieques came at a steep price to the people of Puerto Rico and created a largely unforeseen consequence, the closing of Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, the island's largest employer.
"If you take the [bombing] mission away from Vieques, you don't need that base anymore," said Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, California Republican. "Sometimes you get what you wish for."
Tucked into the Defense spending bill for 2004 is a provision that will close the base six months after the bill is signed by Mr. Bush. The sprawling base, which once stationed more than 7,000 sailors and employs thousands of Puerto Ricans in support jobs, injects $250 million into the local economy.
"Sure, [Puerto Rico] would like to have the money, but we have other priorities," said Rep. Jerry Lewis, California Republican and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee. "Many of the protesting organizations had an idea" the base could be closed, "but probably not so quickly."
Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat and ranking member of the defense subcommittee, said the Navy insisted that without live bombing exercises on Vieques, the base is not worth keeping.
"The Navy is overly committed all over the world, and they need these 3,000 people in other places," Mr. Murtha said.
Rep. Jose E. Serrano, New York Democrat, is outraged at what he calls the "arrogance" of the Navy. He said the people of Puerto Rico are "panicked" about their future without what is affectionately called "Rosey Roads."
"I think it's punishment" for the protests, Mr. Serrano said. "We are being punished for winning an issue against the federal government. The Navy said, 'Oh yeah. We're going to fix you. We're going to close the base.' "
Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he feels sorry for the people of Puerto Rico but that they were "lied to by their politicians" and the protest movement.
"Puerto Rico used every unethical and illegal means to kick us off that live range," Mr. Inhofe said.
The Senate passed its version of the defense appropriations bill last week. It did not contain language closing the base, but Mr. Inhofe said he expects the base-closing provision to survive in the final version to emerge from conference committee in the coming weeks.
The property containing Roosevelt Roads has been appraised at $1.7 billion. After an environmental cleanup, which could cost around $300 million, the property will be sold with the proceeds going to the Department of Defense.
Mr. Inhofe said not training at Vieques has increased the cost of necessary live-fire exercises elsewhere and has decreased the training's effectiveness because it is harder to integrate the exercises among the services. The Vieques property has been turned over to the Interior Department, which will retain possession.
"There's a huge cost associated with losing that range," Mr. Inhofe said.
Mr. Lewis told Delegate Anibal Acevedo-Vila, Puerto Rico Democrat, that he would "give all the support we possibly can" to replace the economic loss of the base closing. Mr. Murtha said previous base closings have come with $50 million to $100 million aid packages.
Acevedo-Vila spokesman Paul Weiss would not disclose what kind of aid will be sought for Puerto Rico, and still held out hope the Navy would reconsider "rushing away from such a strategic location."
Mr. Cunningham said he would oppose any aid package to make up for Roosevelt Roads.
"They don't want us there," Mr. Cunningham said. "They had a chance to become a state and declined. They don't pay taxes."
Mr. Inhofe said it's now too late to start worrying about the "natural outcome" of the Vieques protests.
"That's their problem," Mr. Inhofe said. "The time for them to be concerned about that was when they were kicking us off our range. I told them this would happen."
-------- russia / chechnya
Suicide bombers' chief revealed
By Tom Parfitt in Moscow
July 21 2003
Sydney Morning Herald
She is known as Black Fatima - the head of a ring of female Chechen suicide bombers who spikes the drinks of new recruits and sends them out to kill and maim. She is the most wanted woman in Russia.
Her chilling role as the alleged mastermind of the bombing campaign terrorising Moscow was revealed last week by Zarema Muzhikhoyeva, the first would-be suicide bomber to be captured alive. Black Fatima was spotted by concertgoers at the Moscow pop festival where 14 music fans were killed by two female suicide bombers a fortnight ago.
Muzhikhoyeva's statements to police have fuelled fears that Chechen gangs plan to send the widows of men killed in the insurgency in the southern Muslim republic on further suicide missions. These female bombers are known as the "black widows", and investigators have given the traditional Muslim name of Fatima to their mysterious mentor.
Muzhikhoyeva, a 22-year-old from Chechnya who was charged on Friday with terrorism, murder and attempted murder, was arrested after a failed attempt to blow herself up in a restaurant in central Moscow on July 9. The young woman had been ripe for recruitment by the militants: her husband and father were both killed fighting Russian troops.
In her confession, she identified a photofit of Black Fatima as "Lyuba". The images show a middle-aged woman wearing dark glasses. Police say that she is aged about 40, about 160 centimetres tall, with dyed blonde hair.
Muzhikhoyeva says that Lyuba met her when she flew in from Ingushetia, a region bordering Chechnya. Lyuba took her to a safe house and gave her orange juice that left her dizzy and confused. Security officials believe the juice was laced with a mind-altering drug intended to break down any inhibitions as she prepared to die. They have sent blood samples for testing.
After a week, Lyuba gave Muzhikhoyeva a bomb in a rucksack and instructed her to blow herself up in the McDonald's restaurant in Pushkin Square. However, the young woman did not know Moscow well and entered a small cafe when she could not find the hamburger restaurant. Her attack was foiled when the TNT in her bag failed to detonate.
"I pressed the button about 20 times but the bomb didn't go off," she told her interrogators. She was arrested after fleeing the restaurant. Georgy Trofimov, a 29-year-old bomb disposal expert, died trying to make the bag safe.
The Telegraph, London
Follow the Yellowcake Road
What began as a minor Italian mystery is now a drama testing Bush's credibility as never before. Inside the Iraqi intel wars
By Michael Isikoff and Evan Thomas
July 21, 2003
Did it start with a break-in? On the morning of Jan. 2, 2001, Italian police discovered that the Niger Embassy in Rome had been ransacked. Not much was reported missing-only a watch and two bottles of perfume-but someone had apparently rifled through embassy papers, leaving them strewn about the floor.
SOME MONTHS AFTER the break-in, the Italian intelligence service-the SISME-obtained a stack of official-looking documents from an African diplomat. Signed by officials of the government of Niger, the papers revealed what purported to be a deal with the Devil. Agents of Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein, it appeared, were angling to purchase from the cash-starved, mineral-rich African nation some 500 tons of yellowcake, the pure uranium that can be used to build nuclear bombs. Excited by their intelligence coup, the Italians quickly notified the CIA and British intelligence.
A bombshell in the war on terrorism? More like an exploding cigar. The documents, a series of letters dated from July to October 2000, were actually crude forgeries. They referred to Niger agencies that no longer existed and bore the signature of a foreign minister who had not served in the post for more than a decade. Italian investigators, who only last week reopened the case, have theorized that the thieves who broke into the Niger Embassy had come looking for letterhead stationery and official seals that could be copied to create bogus documents.
It was the sort of flimsy scam that could have been exposed by a two-hour Google search (and eventually was). Somewhat implausibly, however, the break-in at a small African embassy in Rome has set off a chain reaction that has erupted into a full-fledged Washington summer scandal, serious enough to shake President George W. Bush's poll ratings. Democrats and much of the press are in full cry, accusing the White House of hyping, if not outright fabricating, intelligence in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. With American soldiers dying at the rate of about one a day in Iraq, a growing number of Americans are beginning to wonder if the war was worth the cost.
AWAITING THE FINAL ASSESSMENT
Last week Bush defiantly insisted that the United States would find WMD in Iraq, but privately, according to a White House source, the president was more circumspect with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose own government is wobbling under charges that Blair grossly overstated the Iraqi threat. Bush and Blair are awaiting word from former U.N. arms inspector David Kaye, who has been sent to Iraq to hunt for WMD and is expected to report back in September. As the two world leaders stood on the Truman Balcony last Thursday evening, Bush said to Blair that Kaye's analysis would be the final assessment, as the president guardedly put it, one way or the other.
A break-in, forged documents; in England, even a corpse. Last week David Kelly, a biological-weapons expert, questioned by Parliament for possibly leaking to the BBC, was found dead, his wrist slashed, probably a suicide but sure to be inspiration for endless conspiracy theories. Who was to blame for intelligence on Iraq's WMD that was exaggerated or, as the BBC story put it, "sexed up"? The intrigues and backstabbing at the highest levels have some of the qualities of a John le Carre spy story. For a moment, it looked as if CIA Director George Tenet might have to offer himself as a noble sacrifice in a Greek tragedy. On the other hand, the bungling involved seems more reminiscent of a rerun of "Get Smart."
The White House communications shop, normally a smooth-running operation, made matters worse by initially dismissing the fracas as a passing storm, then offering up confusing and conflicting versions. Finally, last week the Bush administration was forced to reveal declassified excerpts of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, a consensus summary from the nation's various intelligence agencies. The document makes clear that the CIA strongly believed that Iraq "has chemical and biological weapons," and "if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade." British biological weapons expert David Kelly, who had been suspected of leaking information to the BBC, was found dead on Friday
Some old hands at the CIA charged that the hard-liners in the Defense Department and vice president's office had "pressured" agency analysts to paint a dire picture of Saddam's capabilities and intentions. "Crybabies," scoffed one top Defense Department official. In truth, the tension between policymakers and intelligence analysts is built in. Intelligence analysts, dealing with fuzzy scraps of information and guesswork, are naturally reluctant to connect the dots. Policymakers have no choice; they have to decide.
LESS THAN PRECISE
The more serious issue is the quality of intelligence. In an age when American policy is to strike first, before the enemy can strike the American homeland, intelligence needs to be very precise. In real life, it rarely is. Intelligence officials say they are careful to weigh and double-check tips and leads. But the behind-the-scenes story of the handling of the bogus documents about Saddam's attempts to buy uranium in Africa, pieced together by NEWSWEEK, does not present a reassuring picture.
Online MSNBC Poll 7/22/03, 17:50 EDT:
Did President Bush know the uranium claim in the State of the Union was false?
No. The President was a victim of bad intelligence - 19%
Yes. He bent the truth to build his case for war - 75%
I don't know - 6%
Nuke group exposed Niger fraud in 'days'
IAEA quickly spotted errors in letters that escaped U.S. intelligence for months
July 21, 2003
By Paul Sperry
WASHINGTON - The International Atomic Energy Agency was able to figure out in just 10 days something that had escaped U.S. intelligence for months - that documents alleging Iraq recently sought uranium from Africa were forgeries, an IAEA letter to Congress reveals.
With the help of the Internet, IAEA officials quickly spotted crude errors in letters claiming to be signed by officials of Niger in 2000. One is allegedly from a foreign minister who had been out of office for 11 years. Another, allegedly from the president of Niger, bears an obsolete presidential seal on the letterhead.
The Vienna, Austria-based group, which has conducted regular nuclear inspections in Iraq, received the documents from the Bush administration in early February, after first requesting them in December. The State Department, for one, had them since October.
The president delivered his State of the Union speech, which included the uranium charge, on Jan. 28.
The documents included an alleged agreement by Niger for the delivery to Iraq of "two lots of 500 tons each of uranium over two years," said IAEA spokesman Piet de Klerk in a June 20 letter to the House Government Reform Committee.
Shortly after receiving the documents, alarmed officials at the agency's Iraq Nuclear Verification Office asked Baghdad to provide all information regarding contacts with Niger.
But "after approximately 10 days, it became clear that the alleged contract in all likelihood could not have been honored, as the export of uranium from Niger is fully controlled by international companies," de Klerk said.
At that point, the documents were "scrutinized more closely" to confirm their authenticity, he said.
A little research using "open-source information" available on the Internet quickly revealed crude errors in the letters, de Klerk says.
- In an alleged letter dated July, 27, 2000, the president of Niger refers to the central African nation's constitution of May 12, 1965, but the constitution in place in 2000 was dated Aug. 9, 1999.
- A letter allegedly signed by the foreign minister of Niger on Oct. 10, 2000, bears the signature of Allele Elhadj Habibou, who was actually foreign minister in 1988-1989.
- The official letterhead used is obsolete and includes the wrong symbol for the presidency, as well as references to temporary state bodies - such as the Supreme Military Council and the Council for National Reconciliation - which are "incompatible with the dates of the alleged correspondence."
- The date of a Niger "ordonnance" cited in the alleged agreement is off by 26 years.
IAEA concluded the documents were counterfeit, and officially reported the findings to the U.N. Security Council on March 7.
The CIA agreed the letters were fakes, and alerted the British government, which also had accused Iraq of actively seeking uranium from Africa to possibly make nuclear weapons.
The White House, however, did not correct the president's State of the Union statement until July 8 - and only after a British parliamentary committee the previous day had released a report revealing that the CIA had warned the British government about the forgeries.
Intelligence quagmire: How to gauge the new IQ
After rare move to declassify documents, intelligence wars may transform spying.
By Faye Bowers and Peter Grier | Staff writers
July 21, 2003
Christian Science Monitor
Powell / Rumsfeld: http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0721/csmimg/p2a.jpg
WASHINGTON - Washington's debate over what the US and Britain knew about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) - and when they knew it - has become so heated and public that it may affect the nature and usefulness of future intelligence operations.
For one thing, the unveiling of specific data about Iraq and its dissection in the media could make it harder to convince the spy services of other nations to cooperate fully again with US or British counterparts. In the shadowy world of intelligence-sharing, few like uncontrolled publicity. Spies or other human-intelligence "assets" within target countries may become similarly leery.
For another, the administration may now be the White House that cried wolf. Unless convincing evidence of Iraqi WMD surfaces, and soon, critics might charge that intelligence evidence regarding other crises, such as North Korea, is being manipulated for political purposes.
Thus many experts say it's important to get to the bottom of what happened, and fix it, for the sake of US credibility. If nothing else, Bush's new strategy of preemption, based on taking out regimes posing imminent threats, relies more on intelligence than on other tools.
"We need public hearings, even an independent investigation," says Jim Walsh, an international-security expert at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. "The one thing the preemption strategy requires more than any other strategy we've had since World War II is intelligence not only of high quality, but intelligence that is seen as completely credible."
Digging in and digging out
For the past week, that credibility has been the center of a vocal back-and-forth between the CIA and White House. CIA Director George Tenet has accepted responsibility for the most controversial assertion - Bush's claim in his State of the Union speech that Iraq tried to buy uranium for its nuclear program from Africa. But Mr. Tenet's statement, as well as his testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, indicates that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's staff pressured the CIA to include that assertion. It was indeed used, but attributed to British intelligence.
On Friday the White House, in an unusual move, declassified portions of an October National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) - a consensus document of the views of six government agencies - to support its broader case for war and minimize its uranium claim.
The material - eight pages of 90 - provides some justification for administration claims, such as that Iraq was "continuing, and in some areas expanding," WMD programs. "If left unchecked, [Iraq] probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade."
But it also highlights the administration's removal of qualifiers like "probably" and "could," and disputes within government agencies. For example, the NIE includes dissenting views from the State Department's intelligence arm (INR) and the Department of Energy, whose nuclear scientists are responsible for watching foreign nuclear programs. "[T]he claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious."
The newly declassified material - with caveats like "We lack specific information on many key aspects of Iraq's WMD programs" - casts doubt on other administration claims and shows how thin the intelligence was.
Tumult, testimony, and tragedy
For the past year, the administration has battled over a lack of specific intelligence. Vice President Cheney visited the CIA at least four times to question analysts. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld then created his own intelligence unit at the Pentagon. That Office of Special Plans, with its own intelligence collectors and analysts scrutinizing information on Iraq, may have prodded staff to "hype" intelligence for evidence the administration wanted, say officials and experts.
"Separate from the formal intelligence community, it appears as if the Pentagon had contractors and former CIA officials doing private collecting for them," says Sam Gardiner, a retired US Colonel who now does research on intelligence. "The materials seem to have gone directly to the NSC and the White House. The State Department INR certainly did not have an opportunity to footnote their disagreement." [Editor's note: The original version of this article mischaracterized Sam Gardiner's affiliation.]
Now, Sen. Pat Roberts (R) of Kansas, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has decided to "invite" members of Ms. Rice's staff before the committee to address Tenet's claims. It's not clear whether they will testify, or whether the White House will claim executive privilege. But Mr. Roberts said he'll direct hearings as the evidence warrants, and to open them to the public in September.
"It is going to be important to have public sessions as part of this review," agrees Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden (D), also on the Senate Intelligence Committee. "There's nothing like the sunshine you get with open sessions."
A similar investigation into Prime Minister Tony Blair's use of intelligence took a tragic turn this weekend. One of England's most respected experts on Iraq's weapons program, David Kelly, was found dead, apparently a suicide. He testified in a controversial parliamentary hearing last week after having been accused of being the source of a BBC report that criticized the government for "sexing up" Iraq intelligence.
But with each day that passes without evidence to back up either British or US claims - and with the picking off of US soldiers in Iraq - there is growing skepticism about the war's rationale and whether Saddam Hussein posed an "imminent" threat.
"It's both important and worthwhile that we sort this thing out," says former CIA Director Stansfield Turner. "We should be concerned that ... our intelligence is being questioned. That's going to make it more difficult to keep up the program inside Iraq. But it's also going to make it more difficult to persuade other countries to go along with us on other operations around the world."
Israeli military intelligence: Saddam's WMD hidden in Iraq or Syria
By Amos Harel
Monday, July 21, 2003
The Israel Defense Forces' military intelligence division is never in any hurry to join in with international uproar, especially when they are supposed to be at its expense. While the intelligence services of the United States and
Britain are being hauled over the coals in the media and squirming in front of committees of inquiry, on the question of what exactly they knew, what they guessed and what they invested in terms of Iraq's nonconventional capabilities in the run-up to the war, Israel's intelligence service has enjoyed a period of relative calm. The public here has been too wrapped up in the hudna and its consequences to ask its intelligence communities similar questions.
But the honeymoon period is about to end. As the Steinitz Committee - set up by the chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee to investigate intelligence operations in Iraq - reached its critical stage, it raises a series of questions for Israel's top security brass, which has stuck steadfastly to its opening position: the intelligence was accurate; the decisions were right and the weapons of mass destruction developed by the now deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein are still hidden somewhere in the desert.
The IDF, naturally, finds it convenient to highlight its successes in this affair. The questions that were put to the test before the war related not only to WMDs, but also to the U.S. decision to attack, the ultimate timing of the war, the speed with which the regime fell and more. In all of the above, the IDF's top brass has given itself top marks.
Military intelligence gave the State of Israel something known as a "strategic warning": The U.S. will attack, will comprehensively defeat the Iraqis and will fundamentally alter regional affairs. These diagnoses (and the estimated timing of the attack) allowed the home front time to prepare itself for the scenario whereby Iraq used missiles to attack Israel.
But this is where the more problematic part begins. Military intelligence admits it had only very partial information, a fact which made it difficult to completely gauge Iraqi's offensive ability and the level of risk to Israel. A tangible threat was identified in the aerial defense. Several months before the war began, Western intelligence agencies, including those in Israel, identified Iraqi efforts to make the old Soviet-era bombers in their possession serviceable. Suddenly, after almost a six-year hiatus in flights, they were renewed on flight paths of up to 1,000 kilometers.
Based on an analysis of the flight paths, the altitude of the planes and the information that existed on the bombs in Iraqi hands at the end of the first Gulf War, military intelligence in Israel saw the flights as an attempt to prepare an aerial attack - either conventional or not - against Israel.
Military intelligence also determined that Iraq had between two and eight mobile Scud missile launchers, some 50 Scud B missiles and a small number of chemical or biological warheads. In November 2002, the head of military intelligence, Major General Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash, announced he had no information that the launchers had been stationed in Western Iraq (the area from which missiles can reach Israel).
Military intelligence found it increasingly difficult to deal with Saddam's intentions, considering the limitations on its ability to gathering intelligence in Iraq. Much emphasis was placed on analyzing speeches and public announcements by Iraqi leaders, and comparing them to those that preceded the 1991 war. The conclusion was that this time, Israel is not the main focus for Iraqi threats, but the bombers and missiles left over led to the decision not to discount it entirely.
When the war began, on March 20, the IDF waited a few more days before entirely writing off the threat of bombers, until the U.S. forces completely destroyed the Iraqi airfields. Simultaneously, an analysis of aerial photographs suggested several sites were being used as bases for missile launchers. Israel passed the relevant information to the Americans. Only later on was the threat of missiles completely discounted.
How do the learned assessments fit in with the embarrassing fact that, so far, no evidence of WMDs has been uncovered? The IDF merely quotes the U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: "The fact that we haven't found Saddam yet doesn't mean he didn't exist." Military intelligence remains faithful to its assessment that Iraq did possess WMDs, and put forward several possible explanations for the inability to find them: the weapons were sent to Syria before the war broke out (Israel expressed concerns on this in November 2002, and is still looking into it); the launchers and missiles were dismantled and hidden in Iraq; or Saddam decided to destroy his WMDs before the war.
Only recently, say intelligence sources, the Americans found dozens of MIG-21 fighter planes hidden in the Iraqi desert. And just four years after the first Gulf War, after Saddam's son-in-law defected, WMDs were found hidden in a chicken coop. If Saddam had nothing to hide in the run-up to the most recent conflict, claim intelligence agents, why did he choose to challenge the Americans over weapons inspectors, eventually losing his grip on power?
A senior intelligence source told Haaretz that "the weapons exist somewhere. We were amazingly accurate in our assessment of the threat. In retrospect, I would not change a thing. If I could have given exact coordinates for the missile launchers, we would have been done with the whole story. The weapons may have been dismantled, may not be serviceable, may not be operationable - but they will be found eventually. We just have to wait patiently."
Columnist Names CIA Iraq Operative
By Timothy M. Phelps and Knut Royce Washington Bureau,
July 21, 2003
Washington -- The identity of an undercover CIA officer whose husband started the Iraq uranium intelligence controversy has been publicly revealed by a conservative Washington columnist citing "two senior administration officials."
Intelligence officials confirmed to Newsday Monday that Valerie Plame, wife of retired Ambassador Joseph Wilson, works at the agency on weapons of mass destruction issues in an undercover capacity -- at least she was undercover until last week when she was named by columnist Robert Novak.
Wilson, while refusing to confirm his wife's employment, said the release to the press of her relationship to him and even her maiden name was an attempt to intimidate others like him from talking about Bush administration intelligence failures.
"It's a shot across the bow to these people, that if you talk we'll take your family and drag them through the mud as well," he said in an interview.
It was Wilson who started the controversy that has engulfed the Bush administration by writing in the New York Times two weeks ago that he had traveled to Niger last year at the request of the CIA to investigate reports that Iraq was trying to buy uranium there. Though he told the CIA and the State Department there was no basis to the report, the allegation was used anyway by President George W. Bush in his State of the Union speech in January.
Wilson and a retired CIA official said Monday that the "senior administration officials" who named Plame had, if their description of her employment was accurate, violated the law and may have endangered her career and possibly the lives of her contacts in foreign countries. Plame could not be reached for comment.
"When it gets to the point of an administration official acting to do career damage, and possibly actually endanger someone, that's mean, that's petty, it's irresponsible, and it ought to be sanctioned," said Frank Anderson, former CIA Near East Division chief.
A current intelligence official said that blowing the cover of an undercover officer could affect the officer's future assignments and put them and everyone they dealt with overseas in the past at risk.
"If what the two senior administration officials said is true," Wilson said carefully, "they will have compromised an entire career of networks, relationships and operations." What's more, it would mean that "this White House has taken an asset out of the" weapons of mass destruction fight, "not to mention putting at risk any contacts she might have had where the services are hostile."
Deputy White House Press Secretary Claire Buchan referred questions to a National Security Council spokesman who did not return phone calls last night.
"This might be seen as a smear on me and my reputation," Wilson said, "but what it really is is an attempt to keep anybody else from coming forward" to reveal similar intelligence lapses.
Novak, in an interview, said his sources had come to him with the information. "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me," he said. "They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it."
Wilson and others said such a disclosure would be a violation of the law by the officials, not the columnist.
Novak reported that his "two senior administration officials" told him that it was Plame who suggested sending her husband, Wilson, to Niger.
A senior intelligence official confirmed that Plame was a Directorate of Operations undercover officer who worked "alongside" the operations officers who asked her husband to travel to Niger.
But he said she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment. "They [the officers who did ask Wilson to check the uranium story] were aware of who she was married to, which is not surprising," he said. "There are people elsewhere in government who are trying to make her look like she was the one who was cooking this up, for some reason," he said. "I can't figure out what it could be."
"We paid his air fare. But to go to Niger is not exactly a benefit. Most people you'd have to pay big bucks to go there," the senior intelligence official said. Wilson said he was reimbursed only for expenses.
Timothy Phelps is the Washington bureau chief.
Officials Debate Whether to Seek a Bigger Military
July 21, 2003
The New York Times
By THOM SHANKER
WASHINGTON, July 20 - The strains on American ground forces as the Bush administration extends their global missions are prompting new debates on Capitol Hill and within the Pentagon over the question of whether the military needs more troops worldwide.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and senior military officers spent time over the weekend considering how to assign enough soldiers to fill the long-term mission of stabilizing Iraq while simultaneously fulfilling other overseas commitments and providing security against terrorism at home and abroad.
Mr. Rumsfeld has been telling Congress in recent days that before the Pentagon takes the major step of asking for money to enlarge the military, he hopes to cut back on less urgent foreign assignments, to move people in uniform out of administrative tasks and back into combat units and to change the balance of assignments between active-duty forces and those in the National Guard and Reserves.
A senior adviser to the defense secretary said that while it was easy enough to identify how many Army or Marine Corps troops the Pentagon needed for the global campaign against terror and for extended tours of duty on the ground in Iraq, Mr. Rumsfeld made no final decisions over the weekend. He waits for a larger blueprint from the military that would make new troop rotations more predictable.
"We are not fighting in a knife fight here - we're looking out long term," said one Pentagon official involved full time in planning force rotations for Iraq.
But the military is struggling with what another Pentagon planning official called "the tyranny of fixed numbers," which is especially critical for the Army.
Of the Army's 33 active-duty combat brigades, only three are described as free now for a new mission: the Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Lewis, Wash., built around a new, lightly armored vehicle called Stryker; a brigade of the First Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan.; and a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division that returned to Fort Bragg, N.C., from Afghanistan six months ago.
Twenty-one brigades are now assigned overseas - 16 of them in Iraq. Of those not abroad, most are already earmarked as replacement forces for other missions, like the one in Afghanistan, are rebuilding their ranks or are on emergency standby in case of a crisis with North Korea.
Officials said the National Guard and Reserves, which as of Wednesday had 201,099 members on active duty, would probably have to shoulder some of the burden of any additional missions as well.
The Marine Corps could also be asked to share long-term peacekeeping duties, which traditionally have fallen to the Army.
On Capitol Hill, two members of the Senate Armed Services Committee - one a Republican, and one a Democrat - have been driving the debate, and both predicted in interviews last week that Congress would support a request to expand the military's personnel roster, even with the growing budget deficit.
"I was much more comfortable with end-strength during the cold war than I am today," said the Republican, James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma. He said reducing the size of the military after the collapse of communism left America's ground force "in near crisis" as it was stretched to deal with expanding global commitments in the battle against terrorism.
The Democrat, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, said, "I think we need to make a decision very quickly, within weeks, about whether we need to increase the end-strength of the Army."
While he agrees with Mr. Rumsfeld that efficiencies can be found in the "tooth-to-tail ratio" of combat forces to administrative and support functions, Mr. Reed said, "We are going to be committed in Iraq in a way that we did not anticipate," adding that the Afghan mission will require years to complete and the North Korean threat dictates "a continued, forceful military complement."
Some of the steps urged by Mr. Rumsfeld to reduce the long-term strain on the troops were included in a confidential memorandum dated July 9 to the service secretaries and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff requesting that they move to "rebalance" the active and reserve components.
In the memorandum, a copy of which was provided by a senior aide to Mr. Rumsfeld, the defense secretary wrote, "The balance of capabilities in the Active and Reserve components today is not the best for the future."
Describing it as "a matter of the utmost urgency," Mr. Rumsfeld said that by July 31 he expected several proposals. They include how to reduce the need for the involuntary mobilization of the Guard and Reserves, how to restructure the active and reserve forces "to correct imbalances that result in lengthy, repeated or frequent mobilization," and how to make the mobilization and demobilization process more efficient.
Even so, Pentagon officials drafting plans for the long-term Iraq mission said proposals were under review to mobilize two Army National Guard "enhanced separate brigades," which train with the active-duty force and receive the most modern equipment. They would still need extensive training before going to Iraq. Officials said that a nine-month tour would require a yearlong activation and a yearlong deployment would require 15 months of service.
In his most recent testimony this month on Capitol Hill, Mr. Rumsfeld said that if national security required increasing force levels, particularly in the Army or Marine Corps, "Obviously, we would come to Congress and make that request." But "at the moment," he added, "we do not see that that's the case."
Mr. Rumsfeld did not say so expressly, but the concept of increasing troop numbers - and costs - contradicts a basic tenet of his goal for military transformation, which is to rely on new technology and rewrite doctrine to allow smaller forces to attack with greater speed and deadliness.
Before asking for more troops, Mr. Rumsfeld said, the Pentagon is trying to reduce commitments in Bosnia and Kosovo, as well as in Sinai, and may reconfigure the way American forces are assigned in Germany and South Korea.
Pentagon officials who deal with personnel have also identified 300,000 jobs done by people in uniform that could be turned over to civilians, he said.
One Pentagon planner said the Army was also considering whether to fill the needs in Iraq not with traditional brigades under their standard division structures, but to cobble together smaller units - battalions and companies - in new combinations.
The debate is really one about balancing risks - the risk that there will not be enough soldiers to carry out diverse missions or that current troops will not re-enlist after repeated, exhausting assignments that degrade their quality of life and do not leave enough time for training. The risk that money spent on personnel will not be available for important new technology and for modernizing the current arsenal must be weighed against those.
At present, about 370,000 Army troops are deployed in 120 countries, from a total active-duty force of about 491,000, according to Pentagon statistics. Army reservists and National Guard members on active duty this month total 136,835, out of a force of about 550,000.
The Marine Corps has a total force of about 176,000, and about 20,000 of its reservists are now on active duty as well, from a pool of 39,000. About 9,000 marines are now in Iraq.
As of last week, marines were also stationed in Afghanistan, Japan and the Horn of Africa and were conducting exercises in Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Australia, Pentagon officials said.
As Iraq clash drags, more armor, fresh food needed
By Chelsea Emery,
NEW YORK - As hostilities in Iraq drag on, the Pentagon has slapped rush orders on supplies like body armor, air conditioning units and fresh food supplies for U.S. troops, offering a glimpse into the changing role of the armed forces in the problem plagued nation.
"We're going to be there for a long time," said Joel Moskowitz, chief executive at ceramic armor maker Ceradyne. The company on July 17 received a $7.1 million expedited order for more of its small arms protective inserts. "The war, no matter how you define it, is not over."
President Bush declared major hostilities ended on May 1 after the United States and its allies overthrew Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, but about 146,000 U.S. troops remain in the country to help stabilize the nation and build infrastructure.
Many, who had expected to be home by now, have no clear idea of when their tour of duty will end. That means supplies must be replaced or altered to meet new requirements like the coming winter and protection against surprise attacks.
At the same time, shipments of some products like ammunition and transportable food kits have slowed as troops have settled into established bases.
The U.S. Air Force has found it needs more equipment to keep forces comfortable and has asked Engineered Support Systems to speed up production of its environmental control units that heat, cool and filter air. More than 11,000 have been ordered so far.
At the same time, the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, which buys food, clothing, medicine and construction supplies for the military, has accelerated its purchasing of both summer and winter boots, according to spokesman Frank Johnson, who did not give specifics on orders, citing security.
Forces also required more socks, caps and underwear.
"Now we're starting to buy extreme cold weather gear because it looks looks like, from what we're hearing, they're going to be (in Iraq) for a period of three to four years," Johnson said.
The budget for the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia is projected to rise to about $9 billion in 2003, from $7.8 billion the year earlier, Johnson said, adding that some of the increase was earmarked for war supplies, while the rest goes to replenishing stores.
Food requirements, too, have changed. Early in the Iraq war, the center sent about 96 million high-calorie, individually packaged food boxes, called MREs (meals ready to eat) to soldiers on the go. But now that more troops are housed at bases, demand for fresher, cafeteria-style meals has surged.
"The MREs are designed to be high calorie, (so) we don't want our customers eating them longer than necessary," said Jack Hooper, spokesman for the Defense Logistics Agency, which oversees the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia and several other supply organizations.
The DLA provides more than 25,000 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables weekly to Iraqi-based U.S. troops, according to data compiled in June.
The DLA is also making sure troops have enough repair parts for vehicles and planes, as well as fuel.
Even rarely used equipment must be replaced.
While there were no chemical attacks on U.S. and British troops during the Iraq war, and no chemical weapons have been found there, suppliers are still cranking out chemical-warfare suits to replace those that were sent originally, said Johnson.
And while requirements of munitions have dropped with the slowdown of fighting, the DLA is buying stacks of lumber for rebuilding the battered country.
"What you're seeing now is the switch to the kind of building up that will let the U.S. continue to play a role in Iraq," said Jim Lewis, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. "There's a realization that we're going to have to put more into the infrastructure, play more of a role."
-------- war crimes
The Crime and the Cover-Up
By William Rivers Pitt
truthout | Perspective
Monday 21 July 2003
The scandal axiom in Washington states that it is not the crime that destroys you, but the cover-up. Today in Washington you can hear terms like 'Iraqgate' and 'Weaponsgate' bandied about, but such obtuse labels do not provide an explanation for the profound movements that are taking place.
Clearly, there is a scandal brewing over the Iraq war and the Bush administration claims of Iraqi weapons arsenals that led to the shooting. Clearly, there is a cover-up taking place. Yet this instance, the crimes that have led to the cover-up are worse by orders of magnitude than the cover-up itself.
The simple fact is that America went to war in Iraq because George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and virtually every other public face within this administration vowed that Iraq had vast stockpiles of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. America went to war because these people vowed that Iraq had direct connections to al Qaeda, and by inference to the attacks of September 11.
"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised," said Bush on March 17, 2003.
"We know now that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons," said Cheney on August 26, 2002.
"There is no doubt'' that Saddam Hussein ''has chemical weapons stocks,'' said Powell to FOX News on September 8, 2002.
"Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda," said Bush in his State of the Union address. On September 26, 2002, Don Rumsfeld laid the groundwork for Bush's statement by claiming that America had "bulletproof" evidence of Iraqi involvement with al Qaeda.
These public statements, augmented by hundreds more in the same vein, stoked fears within an already shellshocked American populace that Iraqi nuclear weapons and anthrax would come raining out of the sky at any moment, unless something was done. This same information was delivered in dire tones to Congress, which voted for war on Iraq based almost exclusively on the testimony of CIA Director George Tenet.
None of it was true. Not one ounce of chemical, biological or nuclear weaponry has been found in Iraq in the 82 days since "hostilities ceased" on May 1, 2003. Not one ounce of chemical, biological or nuclear weaponry has been found in Iraq in the 124 days since the shooting in Iraq officially started on March 19, 2003. Not one ounce of chemical, biological or nuclear weaponry has been found in Iraq in the 230 days since the UNMOVIC weapons inspections began in Iraq in late November of 2002. No proof whatsoever of Iraqi connections to al Qaeda has been established.
Recently, the scandal over the missing Iraq weapons and the Bush administration claims has focused on whether or not Iraq was trying to procure uranium "yellow cake" from Niger in order to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program. The last two weeks have shown decisively that the Bush administration used manufactured evidence, which had been denounced from virtually all corners of the American intelligence community, to justify their war. The administration's explanation for this has changed by the hour - They weren't told by the CIA, and then they were told but Bush and Cheney never heard about it, but it was only sixteen words in one speech, so everybody calm down.
No one is calming down. When the President of the United States terrifies the American people in his constitutionally-mandated State of the Union speech with nuclear threats based upon evidence that was universally known to be shoddily forged garbage, no one should calm down. When he uses that terror to make war on a nation that was no threat to America, no one should calm down. When over 200 American soldiers and thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians die because of this, no one should calm down. When that grisly body count rises every single day, no one should calm down.
The Niger nuclear forgery scandal is merely an accent in this criminal symphony. It has become all too clear that a small cadre of ultra-conservative hawks within the administration led us to where we are today with absolutely no oversight from the rest of the government. This group managed the run-up to war by creating demonstrably exaggerated interpretations of intelligence reports, and used 'insider data' from people with many good reasons to help lie America into this war.
The Office of Special Plans, or OSP, was created by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld specifically to second-guess and reinterpret intelligence data to justify war in Iraq. The OSP was staffed by rank amateurs, civilians whose ideological pedigree suited Rumsfeld and his cabal of hawks. Though this group was on no government payroll and endured no Congressional oversight, their information and interpretations managed to prevail over the data being provided by the State Department and CIA. This group was able to accomplish this incredible feat due to devoted patronage from high-ranking ultra-conservatives within the administration, including Vice-President Cheney.
The highest levels of the OSP were staffed by heavy-hitters like Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith, and William Luti, a former Navy officer who worked for Cheney before joining the Pentagon. These two men, along with their civilian advisors, worked according to a strategy that they hoped would recreate Iraq into an Israeli ally, destroy a potential threat to Persian Gulf oil trade, and wrap U.S. allies around Iran. The State Department and CIA saw this plan as being badly flawed and based upon profoundly questionable intelligence. The OSP responded to these criticisms by cutting State and CIA completely out of the loop. By the time the war came, nearly all the data used to justify the action to the American people was coming from the OSP. The American intelligence community had been totally usurped.
When the OSP wanted to change or exaggerate evidence of Iraqi weapons capabilities, they sent Vice President Cheney to CIA headquarters on unprecedented visits where he demanded "forward-leaning" interpretations of the evidence. When Cheney was unable to go to the CIA, his chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, went in his place.
On three occasions, former congressman Newt Gingrich visited CIA in his capacity as a "consultant" for ultra-conservative hawk Richard Perle and his Defense Policy Board. According to the accounts of these visits, Gingrich browbeat the analysts to toughen up their assessments of the dangers posed by Hussein. He was allowed access to the CIA and the analysts because he was a known emissary of the OSP.
The main OSP source of data on Iraqi weapons, and on the manner in which the Iraqi people would greet their 'liberators,' was Ahmad Chalabi. Chalabi was the head of the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group seeking since 1997 the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Chalabi had been hand-picked by Don Rumsfeld to be the leader of Iraq after the removal of Saddam Hussein, despite the fact that he had been convicted in 1992 of 32 counts of bank fraud by a Jordanian court and sentenced in absentia to 22 years in prison. It apparently never occurred to Rumsfeld and the OSP that Chalabi had a lot of reasons to lie. It seems they were too enamored of the data he was providing, because that data fully justified the course of action they had been set upon since September 11, 2001.
Chalabi was the main source behind claims that Iraq had connections to al Qaeda. Chalabi was the main source behind claims that Iraq was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. Chalabi was the main source behind claims that the Iraqi people would rise up and embrace their American invaders. Chalabi's claims on this last matter are the main reason post-war Iraq is in complete chaos, because Rumsfeld assumed the logistics for repairing Iraq would be simple - The joyful Iraqis would do it for him.
According to a story entitled "Planners Faulted in Iraq Chaos" by Knight-Ridder reporters Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel, published on July 13, Chalabi proved to be a dangerous wild card. Chalabi's association with and influence over the OSP, however, continued unabated:
"The Chalabi scheme was dealt another major blow in February, a month before the war started, when U.S. intelligence agencies monitored him conferring with hard-line Islamic leaders in Tehran, Iran, a State Department official said. About that time, an Iraqi Shiite militia that was based in Iran and known as the Badr Brigade began moving into northern Iraq, setting off alarm bells in Washington. Cheney, once a strong Chalabi backer, ordered the Pentagon to curb its support for the exiles, the official said. Yet Chalabi continued to receive Pentagon assistance, including backing for a 700-man paramilitary unit. The U.S. military flew Chalabi and his men at the height of the war from the safety of northern Iraq to an air base outside the southern city of Nasiriyah in expectation he would soon take power."
Chalabi never took power. Instead, Paul Bremer was installed as the American proconsul in Iraq, ostensibly with orders to bring stability and liberty to the country. This last aspect is the final lie, the most repugnant crime, perpetrated against the civilians of that ravaged nation.
I spoke last week with a woman named Jodie Evans, long-time peace activist and organizer of a group called the International Occupation Watch Center, or IOWC. The purpose of the IOWC is to stand as watchdogs in Iraq over the corporate contracts being doled out, and to view in person what is happening to the Iraqi people. "I think that if you were against the war, then you need to be there," said Evans, "because there is no one in Iraq who is for the Iraqi people, and the people know it. They know it."
Evans had just returned from Baghdad. Upon her arrival to the city, she saw the demonstrable chaos caused by the war, and by the abject failure to repair the country in the aftermath. "It was 120 degrees, it was dusty, the air had a haze that makes everything gray," said Evans. "The buildings you see on the road are bombed out. In some, you can see the fire coming up. In some, you only see the scaffolding of contorted metal. We got across our bridge and turned right onto the street we know so well, the one we've stayed on, and every building was either boarded up or bombed out, including the United Nations DP. It was all bombed in, the windows were black from the fire."
"Immediately after we arrived," said Evans, "we hear that it is not only worse than before the war. It is worse than during the war. People are upset, people are angry. There were lots of stories about how the Americans are doing this on purpose. A month after the '91 war, which was much worse than this one, everything was back and working. Now, the people live in this chaos they can't even imagine. People can't go outside. Women haven't left their homes. Lots of people haven't come back from Syria or Kuwait or wherever they fled to get away from the bombing, because life in Iraq is unlivable. There is 65% unemployment, and even the doctors and nurses and teachers who are going to work don't get paid, so there's no money."
Evans met a number of Americans in Iraq who are part of the 'rebuilding process.' One such person was in the Compound, a guarded palace that is now home to Bremer's office and staff along with a number of other groups. The overall organization is called the Iraqi Assistance Center, or IAC. The man Evans met was a professor of religion and political theory at a religious college in America. He explained that his job was to collect intelligence for Bremer.
"That professor I spoke to, the one doing intelligence for Bremer, I told him that I had spoken to countless Iraqis and all of them felt this chaos was happening on purpose," said Evans. "He basically said this was true, that chaos was good, and out of chaos comes order. So what the Iraqis were saying - that this madness was all on purpose - this intelligence guy didn't discredit. He said, 'If you keep them hungry, they'll do anything for us.'"
"I met the man who was hired to create a new civil government in Baghdad, to bring Baghdad back to order," said Evans. "His name was Gerald Lawson. I asked him what his background was that allowed him to get this job. He said he was in the Atlanta Police for 30 years. I asked how this gave him the ability to create a stable, civil government. He said he was a manager. I asked him what he knew about Iraqis. He knew nothing, and didn't care to know anything. He didn't know their history, their government, didn't speak a word of Arabic and didn't care to learn. This guy doesn't work for the American government, doesn't work for the State Department, and doesn't work for the CPA. He works for a corporation created by ex-Generals. Their job is to create the new Iraqi government structure."
"We met the man whose job is to make sure the hospitals have what they need," said Evans. "He is a veterinarian. We met a British guy who showed up at the Compound gates one day and said he was a volunteer who wanted to help. The next day he was named the head of rubbish control in Baghdad, which is a huge problem there because there is garbage all over the street. I asked him what he had been doing with his time. He said he'd been hanging out at Odai's palace playing with the lions and the cheetahs. I met the guy in charge of designing the airport, where major jumbo jets are supposed to land. He had never designed an airport before."
"Another man I spoke to associated with this process is named Don Munson," said Evans. "His job is civilian affairs policy. He said to me, 'We are replacing one dictatorship with another.' He's there for two years, and he works in the palace on the first floor."
"Remember," said Evans, "that the first thing America did was to fire 80,000 police officers. These guys weren't associated with the Hussein regime. That's like connecting a cop in LA to the Bush administration. All the people I've talked to over there, the ambassadors and others, said they warned Bremer not to do that. The cops knew who the criminals were, and 80,000 cops are gone. So now there are these little mafias that run neighborhoods. With no other work and no way to survive, people are going to become criminals. The borders are wide open - we didn't even get stopped when we came in - so everything is just flowing into Iraq."
"A friend of mine's husband is an ambassador," said Evans. "I asked him if this was normal operating procedure. He said that, basically, no one will work on this Iraq project who has any respect for their work or career, because it is so clearly a farce. He said that later we will go in after these guys have blown it, but right now with Bremer there it is a farce. Even the press is over there are just shaking their heads and asking, can anyone fail so badly? Can anybody make so many mistakes? You can't imagine they can be so dumb."
"One Iraqi woman I spoke to," said Evans, "said she feels like Iraq is a wounded animal, and everyone is coming in to take their piece of flesh."
The cover-up is one thing, the crime is another. The Bush administration, mainly in the form of Rumsfeld's Office of Special Plans, disregarded any and all intelligence which said Iraq was no threat. They supplanted reliable data with a slew of lies and exaggerations that were fed daily to the American people and Congress, and got their war. In the aftermath, nothing is being done for the millions of Iraqi civilians who suffer daily under their newfound 'liberty.'
American soldiers continue to die. Two more, men from the 101st Airborne, were killed early Sunday when their convoy was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. "You have these young American soldiers sitting in turrets," said Jodie Evans, "just sitting ducks for the rage and frustration and vengeance that is coming out."
This is a crime without peer in the annals of American history. The cover-up currently underway must not be allowed to succeed.
When the American government gets hijacked by extremists like the men staffing the Office of Special Plans, when intelligence data stating flatly that Iraq presents no threat to America is disregarded or exaggerated because the truth does not fit ideological desires, when Congress is lied to, when the American people are lied to, when innocent civilians at the sharp end of these lies are left to rot in the dust and the bomb craters on purpose, when American soldiers are shot down in the street because of these lies, no kind of cover-up can be allowed to succeed.
The time has indeed come for a reckoning. Let it begin, and let it begin soon.
Author's Note: The data surrounding this developing story is voluminous, and seems to change every time an administration representative opens his or her mouth. I have collected below the last few stories I have written on this subject in chronological order. Please utilize this data to further your understanding of this matter.
We Used To Impeach Liars (6/3/03)
The Dog Ate My WMDs (6/13/03)
Interview with 27-Year CIA Veteran Ray McGovern (6/26/03)
The Insiders Are Coming Out (7/8/03)
Mr. Bush, You Are A Liar (7/11/03)
The Dubious Suicide of George Tenet (7/14/03)
William Rivers Pitt is the Managing Editor of truthout.org. He is a New York Times best-selling author of two books - "War On Iraq" available now from Context Books, and "The Greatest Sedition is Silence," now available from Pluto
-------- POLICE / PRISONERS / COURTS / JUSTICE
Saddam's loyalists thwart polygraph tests
July 21, 2003
By Rowan Scarborough
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Captured Saddam Hussein loyalists in Iraq are proving adept at beating lie-detector tests, frustrating attempts to find banned weapons and to learn what happened to Navy Capt. Michael Scott Speicher.
U.S. officials and military officers say trained interrogators in Baghdad have caught Iraqi Ba'ath Party loyalists lying while hooked up to the machine, which showed they were not being deceptive.
Officials attribute the lying to many factors. They say it may have become part of the culture of Saddam's regime to lie routinely. In other cases, the Iraqi intelligence service and Special Security Organization trained operators how to "beat" the machine. And there is the issue that polygraphs, which measure changes in heartbeat, respiration and perspiration, are simply not accurate.
In one incident, an Iraqi involved in a weapons program was shown two pictures. In one, officials cut his image out of a photo of workers at a weapons factory. He agreed that the cut-out image was of him. They then showed him the full photo, with his image restored. This time, he denied that he was in the photo. The polygraph did not catch him in this blatant lie.
"Polygraphs are being used in the interrogation process with mixed results," a military officer in Iraq said. "Many of the suspects being interrogated were formerly part of the Ba'ath Party intelligence apparatus, so they would reasonably understand how the device works."
Asked to comment, a defense official at the Pentagon said, "We do not discuss such matters of intelligence as a matter of policy."
Interrogation teams include personnel from the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and the Army's Criminal Investigative Command.
A defense official said the coalition holds more than 4,000 people, including 34 of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis.
Since Operation Iraqi Freedom began March 20, the coalition has detained more than 11,000 people. Most are Iraqis. Of those, more than 7,000 were released because they were judged to no longer pose a threat.
As sweeps of Sunni-dense towns produce more detainees, detention centers are swelling. U.S. Central Command completed one of those sweeps, called Operation Soda Mountain, on Friday. All told, soldiers executed 141 raids and captured 611 fighters, including 62 Iraqis identified as regime leaders.
The military officer said, "Right now, we're detaining suspects at a much higher rate than we can interview. They're stacking up."
One polygraph issue came to light in the search for Capt. Speicher, whose F-18 Hornet was shot down on the first day of the Gulf War in 1991. He appears to have ejected. The Navy first said he was killed in action but now classifies him as missing/captured.
A secret Pentagon report obtained by The Washington Times shows that the Defense Intelligence Agency is aggressively using polygraphs to determine the Navy pilot's fate.
A defector from Saddam's Special Security Organization said he saw Capt. Speicher alive in 1998. The defector, No. 2314, is said to have passed a polygraph test administered by the Defense Intelligence Agency's prisoner-of-war and missing-in-action cell.
But when agents question people who the defector said could corroborate his story, the witnesses said he was wrong or lying. His superior at the security organization called the defector a "born liar," according to the classified report.
"None of the information provided by 2314 has proven accurate," the report states.
The CIA plans to administer its own polygraph. "Cell has asked CIA to conduct an independent polygraph of 2314," the report states. The military has conducted polygraphs on a number of witnesses identified by 2314.
The Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad is holding 34 of Saddam's top aides, including his deputy and the public face of the regime, Tariq Aziz. Military sources say virtually all the top aides are denying that Baghdad harbored banned weapons of mass destruction and thus are no help in supporting President Bush's main rationale for going to war.
Military sources say no torture is being used. The Bush administration has pledged not to use that technique in questioning suspects in the war on terrorism.
But a military officer said intelligence agents are using sleep deprivation and loud music to rattle detainees. Sleep is allowed as a reward for providing information.
The detainees are given food and water, and are not physically abused, the source said.
A defense official at the Pentagon said, "We treat all detainees in a humane manner, in accordance with international law and the Geneva Convention."
-------- drug war
A New Hard-Liner at the DEA
by Jason Vest
July 14, 2003
Though the Republican Party prides itself on being a champion of state sovereignty, one need only mention phrases like "medical marijuana" or "drug law reform" to see how quickly the Administration of George W. Bush becomes hostile to the notion of the autonomy of states. The latest--and perhaps most egregious--example of this enmity is about to become manifest via a new appointment: that of veteran Justice Department official Karen Tandy, soon to be new chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Already approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee after an all but unnoticed, if not farcical, confirmation hearing late last month, the Administration evidently hopes Tandy's nomination will next clear the full Senate with as little attention or debate as possible. Lost in the shuffle has been any meaningful examination of dubious policy initiatives and prosecutions Tandy has been involved in over the past twenty years.
According to drug-reform activists, the nomination of Tandy--a career Justice Department prosecutor and administrator whose most recent assignments have included busting mail-order bong sellers and those involved in Oregon and California's state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs--is a clear signal from the Administration that it will give no quarter on any aspect of marijuana policy. This view is also echoed by veteran defense attorneys who have tangled with Tandy; they marvel at the lack of scrutiny her nomination has received, both in the press and on Capitol Hill. Though nary a critical question or ill word was uttered to Tandy at her hearing, a preliminary Nation investigation has found numerous instances of prosecutorial overzealousness on Tandy's part that don't lend themselves to a rubber-stamp confirmation:
§ While coordinating the grand jury investigation of major marijuana traffickers Christopher and Robert Reckmeyer in the Eastern District of Virginia in 1984, Tandy and two federal agents were "disqualified and prohibited from directly or indirectly participating" in the investigation by Judge Albert Bryan Jr. because they read documents the court had ruled were protected by attorney-client privilege. On an arcane point of procedure, an appellate court reluctantly reversed Bryan's decision, noting that it was finding for Tandy "with admitted discomfort" that "the government shall have been able to violate both court decrees and adjudicated rights without any accountability in this proceeding."
An April 9, 1985, Washington Post article reported that other underhanded Tandy actions in the Reckmeyer case--like waiting until only three days before trial before giving defense attorneys over 60,000 pages of critical documents, all unindexed--had made the US Attorney's office an object of scorn to the court and the defense bar. Robert Reckmeyer later revealed in an affidavit that after he agreed to aid the government in exchange for a lesser sentence, Tandy afforded him the highly unusual, if not dubious, privilege of lengthy private visits with his wife and family. "There came a time during my debriefings when Karen Tandy complained to me that I was 'not being cooperative,' " he wrote. "I interpreted this to mean that Ms. Tandy was upset because I was not saying what she wanted me to say. She told me that if I was not 'more cooperative' in the future, she would end my visits with my wife."
And even though Tandy's probe turned up no indication that the Reckmeyer brothers' father, William, had been involved in their criminal enterprise, Tandy ordered his property seized as well. "It cost me a lot of money, time and psychic energy in court to get my property back, but I did--the judge implicitly said her witnesses perjured themselves," recalls William Reckmeyer.
§ While negotiating a 1982 plea agreement in the Eastern District of Virginia with Michael Harvey, a first-time drug offender, Tandy changed the agreement's wording--without informing Harvey, his lawyer or the court of the change--in a way that successfully set Harvey up for another arrest, prosecution and conviction in a South Carolina federal court upon completion of his plea-bargained Virginia sentence. An appeals court later vacated Harvey's second sentence, finding Tandy's actions disingenuous; the plea bargain, the court concluded, was "intended to 'put behind him' all of Harvey's potential liability for all offense 'arising from' the general investigation underway, which everyone involved, including Ms. Tandy, knew included activity in South Carolina that was later charged to Harvey."
§ According to material submitted to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in 1988, Tandy failed to turn over exculpatory evidence in the 1987 prosecution for cocaine distribution of Alfredo Arroyo. Though the allegedly withheld materials ultimately proved unnecessary--a jury acquitted Arroyo after concluding that he had been entrapped--defense attorney John Zwerling sent case materials to NACDL's Government Misconduct Committee, asking for advice on what action, if any, might be initiated against Tandy. Failing to receive any guidance from the committee, Zwerling reluctantly let the matter lie.
§ Despite an overall lack of evidence in a 1994 case against John Wheeler, a North Carolina small-businessman, Tandy ordered Wheeler's business and property seized. "It was an outrageous example of the government both overreaching and overcharging, and quite frankly trying to squeeze a legitimate businessman into saying things that weren't true to further cases against others," says Joshua Treem, Wheeler's attorney. "After two years of litigation, the government dismissed all the charges pending against Johnny. They had no evidence whatsoever. It was so bad that when they submitted the dismissal letter, the judge interlineated on the order, dismissing the charges with prejudice."
The Wheeler case and others took place back in the days of the draconian Comprehensive Asset Forfeiture Act [see Eric Blumenson and Eva Nilsen, "The Drug War's Hidden Economic Agenda," March 9, 1998], a Reagan-era initiative that Tandy literally wrote the book on for Justice Department prosecutors. Though some of the more excessive aspects of that law--which radically eroded not only the rights of suspects but of nonsuspects associated with federal investigations--were ameliorated thanks to a late 1990s bipartisan effort spearheaded by Congressman Henry Hyde and signed into law by Bill Clinton, drug-policy observers expect Tandy's DEA to use current asset forfeiture law as expansively as possible.
Though much about Tandy's career has gone unexamined (in addition to her Virginia days, she's done stints as a federal prosecutor in Washington State and asset forfeiture chief at Justice), few senators seem interested in her past or future. So far, only Senator Richard Durbin has gone on record as opposed to Tandy's nomination; in response to his written queries, not only did Tandy demonstrate ignorance of key policy studies but she "didn't back off an inch," as Durbin put it, from the view that the DEA should proceed apace with medical marijuana raids. California Democrat Dianne Feinstein has also expressed misgivings about Tandy, observing that the nominee "doesn't seem amenable to listening" to concerns about federal law enforcement and state-sanctioned medical marijuana.
The Rockefeller Drug Rap
July 21, 2003
The New York Times
The nation has plenty of strange state legislatures, but lately New York's seems to be edging near the head of the pack. How many, for instance, have called on a hip-hop mogul to negotiate one of the most important reforms in their state's history? In Albany, where the three top leaders always meet in private to decide the fate of all major legislation, this year - for the first time anybody could remember - there was a fourth. Besides Gov. George Pataki, Joseph Bruno, the Senate majority leader, and Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker, Russell Simmons of Def Jam records spent seven long hours with the big trio in the sanctum santorum. There they negotiated ways to change the cruel and unusual drug sentencing laws inflicted on New York 30 years ago by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller.
How did a rap mogul gain so much influence over New York's lawmaking? For one thing, Mr. Simmons is very rich and has shown an interest recently in using his money to become a political player. And the three men were undoubtedly so sick of one another that any fresh face was welcome. This Legislature has been trying to repeal or reform these inhumane laws for years without success. Someone apparently figured that if Mr. Simmons can make a deal with Mariah Carey, he should be able to crack a few knuckles in Albany.
Unfortunately, even the founder of Phat Farm fashions hasn't been able to modernize methods in the capital. Reform died once again in the recently concluded legislative session. Then last week Governor Pataki unveiled yet another new plan to cut some of the more draconian mandatory sentences for drug violations. This one drew praise not only from Mr. Simmons but also from the Rev. Al Sharpton.
On the other hand Assembly Democrats, including Mr. Silver and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, the Rockefeller drug law expert who was stuck sitting outside on the steps during that seven-hour marathon with Mr. Simmons, have already expressed strong disappointment in the new proposal.
The Democrats envisioned a two-phase reform that would start with shortening the sentences and providing more drug treatment first, then give judges back the discretion they deserve to decide whether a given defendant is a hapless addict in need of help or a hardened dealer.
That's obviously a better vision than the governor's plan, which just tinkers with the sentencing. But as usual, people hoping for reform out of Albany are trapped with a choice between embracing the possibility for a minimal improvement or continuing to push for something that at least constitutes modest reform.
We're hoping that the legislative leaders are embarrassed enough about the wholesale failure of the last session that they'll go back in September and take up at least a few of the old issues. If they do, they could certainly push drug law reform a little farther than the governor is suggesting. Leaders should consider a pilot program to give judges more leeway in some areas, and they should absolutely make certain that those let out of prison are not dumped on the streets without some rehabilitation. Years of disappointment with Albany make it easy to settle for a very little, but Mr. Simmons at least is a relatively fresh entry to the game, and he ought to push harder while he still has the energy.
DAs try antiterror laws for drug cases
Mon, Jul. 21, 2003
Charlotte Observer (North Carolina)
WINSTON-SALEM - Following the lead of Watauga County, other district attorneys in North Carolina are considering using antiterrorism laws to prosecute accused methamphetamine producers.
Watauga County District Attorney Jerry Wilson last week charged a man accused of running a methamphetamine lab with violating state laws involving the manufacture of nuclear or chemical weapons. The statute, passed in November 2001, was meant to deal with terrorists and carries a stiffer sentence than most drug laws.
"We sat down and began looking for something more that we could use as a weapon against these people, and that's the statute we found," said Wilson, whose county has had 24 meth labs raided this year.
Forsyth County District Attorney Tom Keith said his office's policy now is that "we will put B1 felonies on anyone having anything to do with methamphetamines. These things are very dangerous."
B1 felonies carry prison sentences ranging from 12 years to life.
The first person who will be prosecuted under the antiterrorism laws is Martin Dwayne Miller, 24, of Todd.
Miller, who was arrested July 11, was charged with two counts of manufacturing a nuclear or chemical weapon, in connection with charges relating to methamphetamine production. Even if Miller were convicted of the most serious drug charge against him, he might have served only six months in prison, Wilson said.
To link the drug's production to chemical weapons, prosecutors referred to the toxic and combustible nature of the chemicals involved in methamphetamine production. They said police officers and firefighters who respond to calls involving the drug risk serious injury.
Keith said the use of the antiterrorism law to stop the growth of methamphetamine laboratories is necessary to prevent problems that have plagued other states.
"We're not going to let them get a foothold," Keith said. "If we catch them, we want to take their life away, put them away for as long as we can."
Several defense lawyers reacted to Wilson's decision with a mix of skepticism and concern for the rights of the accused.
"It seems to me to be a real stretch of the imagination, that this would be covered under the antiterrorism law," said Wallace Harrelson, Guilford County's public defender. "It seems to me that the antiterrorism law was designed with a specific purpose in mind, to prosecute people who are threatening to hurt the safety of the general public."
Forsyth County public defender Pete Clary said Wilson might be overstepping his bounds as a prosecutor.
"I think it's up to the legislature to decide whether the law is `woefully insufficient'," Clary said. "The DA is charged with enforcing the laws on the books, not as he wishes they were."
-------- homeland security
At Homeland Security, Doubts Arise Over Intelligence
Unit Is Underpowered, Outmatched in Bureaucratic Struggles With Other Agencies, Critics Say
By John Mintz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 21, 2003
The intelligence unit of the four-month-old Department of Homeland Security is understaffed, unorganized and weak-willed in bureaucratic struggles with other government agencies, diminishing its role in pursuing terrorists, according to some members of Congress and independent national security experts.
The vast majority of the department's intelligence analysts lack computers that are able to receive data classified "top secret" and above. The department has only three experts on biological terrorism, a number that lawmakers said falls far short of expectations, given U.S. officials' grave concern about that kind of attack.
In passing the law establishing the department last year, Congress intended Homeland Security to be the focal point for handling intelligence to protect America from terrorists. The current controversy over its intelligence unit shows how elusive that goal has become since the Bush administration decided in January that the agency should not have the standing of the CIA or FBI in analyzing intelligence about terror threats.
Homeland Security officials acknowledged growing pains in their intelligence wing, citing the difficulty of creating a full-fledged member of the U.S. intelligence community from scratch. They also point out that the head of their intelligence section, retired Marine Lt. Gen. Frank Libutti, was sworn in only on June 26.
Libutti, the undersecretary in charge of the department's information analysis and infrastructure protection unit, said that far from avoiding its key missions, the intelligence wing is "aggressively, crisply" acting on them. Critics of the department in Congress and outside government gave Libutti high marks for moving quickly to address the complaints in his first days on the job.
Frustration over the department's performance in intelligence work boiled over June 5, when Paul Redmond, then the head of Homeland Security's intelligence analysis unit, testified before the House Select Committee on Homeland Security.
Redmond -- a storied 33-year CIA veteran who exposed some of the nation's most notorious traitors -- angered committee members who said he seemed cavalier in describing the department's limited progress in intelligence work.
Redmond testified that his office then had only 26 analysts and lacked the secure communications lines required to receive many classified CIA and FBI reports. Asked when this would change, he replied, "That will depend on us getting larger quarters and things like that."
Committee members said they had hoped the department would have several times that number of analysts by then, or at least a number closer to the several hundred CIA and FBI terrorism analysts.
Committee members from both parties were incensed by what they viewed as the intelligence office's lethargy and lack of focus. "I'm going to be forgiving for a very limited amount of time," Chairman Christopher Cox (R-Calif.) said in an interview.
Rep. Jim Turner (Tex.), the committee's ranking Democrat, told President Bush in a letter last month that "a disturbing hearing . . . revealed that there are serious problems" with the department's intelligence unit. The department, he wrote, "is not remotely close to having the tools it needs to meet its critical mandate."
Redmond resigned three weeks after the hearing, citing his health. Members of Congress passed on their blunt observations to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who is hastening to address them, officials said.
Cox said he was most frustrated that Homeland Security officials have accepted an arrangement in which the CIA, the FBI and the new Terrorist Threat Information Center (TTIC) pass intelligence reports about possible terrorist threats to the department. Homeland Security, in turn, analyzes the information and transmits warnings to state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as U.S. industry.
Cox and a number of other members of Congress, such as Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), said that in last year's Homeland Security Act, which established the department, Congress intended that it would be responsible for sifting through terrorism intelligence and ensuring it was acted upon around the country. But now TTIC does most of that, leaving the department with the smaller job of tightening security on Main Street, USA.
Last year the White House embraced the view of the CIA and the FBI, both of which argued that Homeland Security should not routinely thrust itself into the minutiae of raw intelligence. That position leaves Homeland Security whipsawed between its congressional overseers and the White House.
Libutti, who most recently ran the New York City Police Department's 300-person counterterrorism squad, disputed the notion that his shop is a lightweight undertaking.
"Information analysis and infrastructure protection is the center of gravity of this entire department," Libutti said. He said he does not have the luxury of wishing the White House had settled old intelligence debates differently, adding, "TTIC is a fact on the ground."
Libutti also said he is swiftly recruiting intelligence analysts. Though there were 26 when Redmond testified last month, there are almost 50 now, a total that will double again in about seven months, Libutti said.
One ally of Ridge in the administration said the Cox panel has self-serving reasons to publicize a showdown with the department. Because some House leaders want Cox's temporary committee terminated, the panel is "fighting for relevance," the Ridge ally said.
Some in Congress want Ridge to fight harder for his department. He cultivates an image in the Cabinet as a team player, and insiders said he has not struggled behind closed doors for more clout in intelligence matters.
"The department is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't," said Richard A. Clarke, who was a top White House counterterrorism official in the Clinton and Bush administrations until his recent departure to become a consultant.
"The people in Congress who wrote the legislation creating the department wanted a 'Team B' analytical capability" that would reexamine every piece of terrorism intelligence assembled by the CIA and FBI, he said. But since the White House agreed with the FBI and CIA, he added, "that department is going to get squeezed and victimized."
Ridge has had a hard time recruiting people for the department's intelligence jobs. Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr., who runs the secret U.S. National Imagery and Mapping Agency, initially agreed to be Ridge's undersecretary for intelligence, but reversed himself after concluding the job lacked clout and resources, friends said.
At the same time, the department is competing for intelligence professionals with the higher-profile FBI, CIA and TTIC.
Libutti said he and Ridge are addressing another problem the Cox panel noted: Members of the intelligence team were crammed into offices so crowded they were not allowed to have many classified computer terminals. Offices handling sensitive material require spacious quarters that allow for thick walls and widely spaced computer terminals.
Libutti said that in coming days his unit will move into one of the biggest buildings at the U.S. Navy facility that the Homeland Security Department occupies in Northwest Washington. He said there will be space for 250 analysts and links to secure telecommunications lines.
Homeland Security officials also said they connect well with TTIC. Of TTIC's 75 analysts, seven are from Homeland Security. Ultimately, the department will have 30 analysts there, out of 300. Libutti said they have access to all the classified data they need.
William H. Parrish, a retired Marine colonel who recently was named Redmond's acting successor, said TTIC and Homeland Security meshed well in May, in the hours after al Qaeda suicide bombers attacked several western residential compounds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, killing 34. Soon after the synchronized strikes, in which terrorists rammed security gates, Homeland Security analysts at TTIC prepared warnings about the gate-crashing that were transmitted to state and local authorities, he said.
"It's one of our success stories," Parrish said.
Report on USA Patriot Act Alleges Civil Rights Violations
July 21, 2003
The New York Times
By PHILIP SHENON
WASHINGTON, July 20 - A report by internal investigators at the Justice Department has identified dozens of recent cases in which department employees have been accused of serious civil rights and civil liberties violations involving enforcement of the sweeping federal antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act.
The inspector general's report, which was presented to Congress last week and is awaiting public release, is likely to raise new concern among lawmakers about whether the Justice Department can police itself when its employees are accused of violating the rights of Muslim and Arab immigrants and others swept up in terrorism investigations under the 2001 law.
The report said that in the six-month period that ended on June 15, the inspector general's office had received 34 complaints of civil rights and civil liberties violations by department employees that it considered credible, including accusations that Muslim and Arab immigrants in federal detention centers had been beaten.
The accused workers are employed in several of the agencies that make up the Justice Department, with most of them assigned to the Bureau of Prisons, which oversees federal penitentiaries and detention centers.
The report said that credible accusations were also made against employees of the F.B.I., the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Immigration and Naturalization Service; most of the immigration agency was consolidated earlier this year into the Department of Homeland Security.
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, Barbara Comstock, said tonight that the department "takes its obligations very seriously to protect civil rights and civil liberties, and the small number of credible allegations will be thoroughly investigated."
Ms. Comstock noted that the department was continuing to review accusations made last month in a separate report by the inspector general, Glenn A. Fine, that found broader problems in the department's treatment of hundreds of illegal immigrants rounded up after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
While most of the accusations in the report are still under investigation, the report said a handful had been substantiated, including those against a federal prison doctor who was reprimanded after reportedly telling an inmate during a physical examination that "if I was in charge, I would execute every one of you" because of "the crimes you all did."
The report did not otherwise identify the doctor or name the federal detention center where he worked. The doctor, it said, had "allegedly treated other inmates in a cruel and unprofessional manner."
The report said that the inspector general's office was continuing to investigate a separate case in which about 20 inmates at a federal detention center, which was not identified, had recently accused a corrections officer of abusive behavior, including ordering a Muslim inmate to remove his shirt "so the officer could use it to shine his shoes."
In that case, the report said, the inspector general's office was able to obtain a statement from the officer admitting that he had verbally abused the Muslim inmate and that he had been "less that completely candid" with internal investigators from the Bureau of Prisons. The inspector general's office said it had also obtained a sworn statement from another prison worker confirming the inmates' accusations.
The report did not directly criticize the Bureau of Prisons for its handling of an earlier internal investigation of the officer, but the report noted that the earlier inquiry had been closed - and the accused officer initially cleared - without anyone interviewing the inmates or the officer.
The report is the second in recent weeks from the inspector general to focus on the way the Justice Department is carrying out the broad new surveillance and detention powers it gained under the Patriot Act, which was passed by Congress a month after the 9/11 attacks.
In the first report, which was made public on June 2, Mr. Fine, whose job is to act as the department's internal watchdog, found that hundreds of illegal immigrants had been mistreated after they were detained following the attacks.
That report found that many inmates languished in unduly harsh conditions for months, and that the department had made little effort to distinguish legitimate terrorist suspects from others picked up in roundups of illegal immigrants.
The first report brought widespread, bipartisan criticism of the Justice Department, which defended its conduct at the time, saying that it "made no apologies for finding every legal way possible to protect the American public from further attacks."
Ms. Comstock, the spokeswoman, said tonight that the department had been sensitive to concerns about civil rights and civil liberties after the 9/11 attacks, and that the department had been aggressive in investigating more that 500 cases of complaints of ethnic "hate crimes" linked to backlash from the attacks.
"We've had 13 federal prosecutions of 18 defendants to date, with a 100 percent conviction rate," she said. "We have a very aggressive effort against post-9/11 discrimination."
A copy of the report, which was dated July 17 and provided to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, was made available to The New York Times by the office of Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House panel.
"This report shows that we have only begun to scratch the surface with respect to the Justice Department's disregard of constitutional rights and civil liberties," Mr. Conyers said in a statement. "I commend the inspector general for having the courage and independence to highlight the degree to which the administration's war on terror has misfired and harmed innocent victims with no ties to terror whatsoever.`
The report is Mr. Fine's evaluation of his efforts to enforce provisions of the Patriot Act that require his office to investigate complaints of abuses of civil rights and civil liberties by Justice Department employees. The provision was inserted into the law by members of Congress who said they feared that the Patriot Act might lead to widespread law enforcement abuses.
The report draws no broad conclusions about the extent of abuses by Justice Department employees, although it suggests that the relatively small staff of the inspector general's office has been overwhelmed by accusations of abuse, many filed by Muslim or Arab inmates in federal detention centers.
The inspector general said that from Dec. 16 through June 15, his office received 1,073 complaints "suggesting a Patriot Act-related" abuse of civil rights or civil liberties.
The report suggested that hundreds of the accusations were easily dismissed as not credible or impossible to prove. But of the remainder, 272 were determined to fall within the inspector general's jurisdiction, with 34 raising "credible Patriot Act violations on their face."
In those 34 cases, it said, the accusations "ranged in seriousness from alleged beatings of immigration detainees to B.O.P. correctional officers allegedly verbally abusing inmates."
The report said that two of the cases were referred to internal investigators at the Federal Bureau of Investigation because they involved bureau employees. In one case, the report said, the bureau investigated - and determined to be unsubstantiated - a complaint that an F.B.I. agent had "displayed aggressive, hostile and demeaning behavior while administering a pre-employment polygraph examination."
The report said that the second case involved accusations from a naturalized citizen of Lebanese descent that the F.B.I. had invaded his home based on false information and wrongly accused him of possessing an AK-47 rifle. That case, it said, is still under investigation by the bureau.
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New York Earmarks $14.5 Million for Clean Energy Projects
ALBANY, New York,
July 21, 2003
The Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo is about to install a 200 kilowatt gas powered combined heat and power fuel cell during renovation of the 100 year old Old Lion House. The $1.16 million unit will provide power, hot water, and drive absorption chillers.
The Bronx Zoo project is one of 36 distributed generation and combined heat and power projects worth $14.5 million announced today by Governor George Pataki. The awards will support projects designed to increase clean, efficient generation capacity, and to support the development of improved generation technologies.
When cofunding for the projects is factored in, the 36 New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) projects represent a total investment of $90.5 million in distributed generation and combined heat and power projects.
Combined heat and power applications provide greater overall efficiency than centralized power plants deliver by taking advantage of the waste heat. The overall efficiency of a typical combined heat and power system is close to 75 percent, while the overall efficiency of centralized power plants is about 35 percent due to heat losses at centralized plants, and transmission losses in delivering power from the plant to the customer.
The combined heat and power systems will enable commercial, agricultural, and industrial energy users to generate their own electricity, while using waste heat from the electric generation equipment for space or water heating.
"New York State is committed to promoting advanced technologies such as fuel cells, microturbines and clean generators because they help to protect our environment, improve our energy security and produce positive benefits for our economy," Governor Pataki said. "By supporting these smart initiatives across the state, we can help to reduce costs for energy consumers, while also helping to protect and enhance the quality of New York's environment."
New York University will replace a nearly 30 year old combined heat and power system on their campus with the installation of a $45 million state of the art cogeneration plant that will reduce on-site energy costs, harmful air pollutants including greenhouse gas emissions, improve reliability and reduce peak load on the grid. NYSERDA is contributing $1 million to help the university install the new system.
NYSERDA Acting President Peter Smith said, "Since we initiated this program two years ago, there has been tremendous interest in combined heat and power from energy users throughout the state, because the technology provides greater control over energy costs, while also providing additional reliability and potential economic benefits in today's power market."
As evidence of the interest in combined heat and power, NYSERDA reviewed more than 117 proposals seeking $38 million in funding for $277 million worth of projects.
The 36 projects were selected after a rigorous technical evaluation of each proposal to determine the likelihood of success as well as the economic and environmental benefits associated with the proposed projects.
Va. School Leads Area Into Green Movement
By Griff Witte
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 21, 2003
From the outside, the southeast corner of Lee Highway and Culpeper Street in northern Arlington County bears every resemblance to a typical construction site: the chain-link fence, the temporary trailers, the unfinished facade.
But inside, in the hallways where later this summer students will start their first day of school and senior citizens will meet, Arlington project planner David Alberts arches his shoulders, takes a dramatically deep breath in through his nose and demonstrates why this is no ordinary construction site: "You don't smell much, do you?"
There's not a whiff of paint. Not a trace of that new-building odor. Not even the residue of leftover smoke from workers' cigarettes. The air is . . . clean.
And there's a good reason. As of Sept. 10, this construction site will become a pioneer, perched at the leading edge of the green-building movement. The movement has nothing to do with the color of the building (this one will be red and beige) but everything to do with the environmental impact that buildings have on the people inside them, as well as the surrounding water, air and land.
The idea is for buildings -- hunks of steel, concrete and glass that feast on energy and water -- to tread lightly on the earth beneath them. Design elements such as vegetative roofs, rainwater toilets and low-toxicity paints all help in that task. The green-building movement has gained adherents across the country in the past few years, especially on the West Coast. The Washington area has been slower to catch on.
But Arlington stands as a striking exception. The county celebrates several green-building milestones this summer, the opening in September of the dual-use Langston-Brown School and Community Center being one.
"We'd like it to be standard building procedure in the county and nationwide," said Joan Kelsch, an Arlington environmental planner who, along with Alberts, has helped develop the county's green-building programs. "It just requires a bit of mind-change on the part of developers."
But many developers have been reluctant to change because the initial costs of green-building can be higher and because of a lack of demand.
"Until they get the huge outcry from the consumers, it's tough to tell builders who are going great guns that they have to step back and start doing green-building," said Rich Dooley, who promotes the concept for the National Association of Home Builders Research Center.
Dooley said green-building programs like Arlington's will help. The county requires would-be builders to submit environmental scorecards for their projects and offers rewards to those that score well, according to County Board Chairman Paul Ferguson, a staunch advocate of green-building.
At the corner of Lee Highway and Culpeper, architect Mark West has developed a building that incorporates green features, including two 11,000-gallon water tanks to collect rain from the roof, electric-vehicle recharging stations in the parking lot and floor-to-ceiling windows that help control temperature and add natural light.
When it opens for use as a community center and alternative public high school for students who have had trouble in more traditional schools, it will become one of the first in Virginia -- if not the first -- to pass a rigorous review process and earn green-building certification, according to the U.S. Green Building Council, which awards the honor.
In choosing construction materials, West opted for only paints, fabrics and adhesives that give off low levels of toxins. He also helped enforce a strict ban on smoking, to keep the air circulating inside as pure as possible. Workers who couldn't abide by the rule were thrown off the site.
On either side of the building rest the two mammoth tanks, which will collect storm water and prevent it from becoming runoff that otherwise would erode streams and carry pollutants into the Chesapeake Bay. Instead, the water will irrigate the landscaping around the building, where native plants will grow.
At the new headquarters for the Navy League of the United States, now rising in the Courthouse neighborhood on Wilson Boulevard, rainwater will help people, too. Specifically, it will flush their toilets. The water will drain off the roof into a tank in the basement. When needed, it will be pumped up and into the toilets.
In becoming the first commercial building in the county to go green, the Navy League took advantage of an Arlington incentive program by which commercial developers who meet a certain standard for environmental impact are given the right to build at a higher density.
The county just initiated a similar project for homes: The applications of residential developers who plan to build green will go to the front of the line for review and approval by county officials. Adam Bean, a builder who specializes in green homes, was the first to take advantage of the program. He won approval for two new houses in the Ballston area recently and broke ground last week.
Bean said building green makes sense environmentally and economically. Although the upfront costs can be higher -- Bean estimated 5 percent more -- a homeowner will save in the long run through lower energy bills, he said. And a green home need not look like a space machine.
"The look from the street is no different than the building down the block that's using twice as much energy as mine is," said Bean, who uses high-performance windows and super-efficient heating and cooling systems to cut energy costs. "You don't have to look dramatically different to build green."
A green building won't look dramatically different, that is, unless the plans call for a vegetative roof. One will soon emerge from atop the third floor of the county government building, where moss-like plants known as sedums will take the place of gravel this summer.
The sedums, Kelsch said, are hearty plants that soak up vast amounts of water and cool the area. They're also low-maintenance and low-lying.
"It's not going to be something we have to mow," she said. "And we're not going to have goats on the roof, either."
Peace groups open Baghdad office
'Occupation Watch' may counsel troops on claiming conscientious objector status
By Tom Curry
July 21, 2003
Photo: A soldier, whose company's Iraq deployment has been extended indefinitely, awaits the visit of Third Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Buford Blount to Habbaniyah last week.
WASHINGTON - A coalition of anti-war groups has opened an "Occupation Watch Center" in Baghdad to monitor alleged human rights violations by U.S. troops and the actions of corporations such as Halliburton in rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure. The coalition is also exploring the idea of advising U.S. soldiers in Iraq on how they can claim conscientious objector status so that they could be discharged and shipped home.
"THEY (AMERICAN soldiers) say 'why are we here? The Iraqis hate us. They don't want us here. We don't want to be here,'" said Medea Benjamin, a leading anti-war advocate, who returned from a two-week stay in Baghdad last week.
Benjamin spoke to reporters over the weekend at a gathering of Green Party leaders in Washington. She was the Green Party Senate candidate in California in 2000.
'BRING THEM HOME'
"When the Green Party says, 'Bring them home,' the troops are right on with us," Benjamin said.
She told MSNBC.com that the anti-war coalition United for Peace and Justice is consulting with Quaker groups and with an organization called Veterans for Peace to see what the options are for "counseling the troops."
Benjamin said the Occupation Watch Baghdad office - currently with a staff of four - will "provide information and access to allow (U.S. troops) to make decisions for themselves."
The idea of counseling soldiers on how to claim conscientious objector (CO) status is something that only occurred to her delegation after it had returned from its tour of Iraq on July 14, she said.
"It became obvious that it was something we had to look into because of the low morale," Benjamin told MSNBC.com Sunday.
"If we decide it is important to do, we will test it out on the ground," she added. "How the military reacts to it is something we don't know."
Neither the Defense Department nor the U.S. military command in Iraq had an immediate comment on Benjamin and her group's activities in Baghdad.
CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR STATUS
Under Defense Department rules, military personnel can apply for discharge based on conscientious objection to war. They can also seek reassignment to noncombatant service.
But the threshold to attain CO status is high.
Soldiers must prove they have a "firm, fixed and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or the bearing of arms," based on religious faith or a "deeply held moral or ethical belief."
One can not win CO status based "solely upon considerations of policy, pragmatism, expediency, or political views."
The rules also specify that "an individual who desires to choose the war in which he will participate is not a Conscientious Objector under the law. His objection must be to all wars rather than a specific war."
A soldier applying for CO status must file an application and be interviewed by a chaplain and a military psychiatrist.
An investigating officer conducts a hearing to give the applicant an opportunity to present evidence and witnesses in support of his application. Some U.S. soldiers based in Iraq have been quoted in recent news stories making remarks critical of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and expressing frustration with their deployment in Iraq.
Last week Gen. John Abizaid the new chief of the U.S. Central Command, said remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime were waging "a classical guerrilla-type campaign against us. It's low-intensity conflict... but it's war, however you describe it."
Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee who toured Iraq earlier this month reported that American forces in Iraq were tired and eager to find out when they'll return home, but they were also determined and had good morale.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who was part of the delegation that toured Iraq, said a soldier told her he could accept being in Iraq for another six months, "but I just need to know" when his tour of duty would end.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said U.S. forces in Iraq and elsewhere "are dangerously stretched thin" and has urged the Bush administration to expand the size of armed forces so that some personnel could be rotated out of Iraq.
In addition to possibly counseling U.S. soldiers, Benjamin said, "We will be testing occupation forces in many ways."
The group will keep an eye on the activities of U.S. firms Halliburton, Bechtel and their subcontractors in rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure.
Critics of the Bush administration have complained that both Halliburton and Bechtel have Republican connections. Vice President Dick Cheney is the former chairman of Halliburton, while former Secretary of State George Shultz is the former president of Bechtel and serves on the firm's board of directors.
On its Web site, Occupation Watch said its Baghdad office will "act as a watchdog regarding the military occupation and U.S.-appointed government, including possible violations of human rights, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly."
"I'm wondering where they were when they could have been monitoring Saddam Hussein's human rights violations," said Harald Stavenas, a spokesman for the House Armed Services Committee. "Mass graves continue to be unearthed in Iraq and it is estimated that up to one million corpses will be found. Millions of people have been liberated from that threat. In contrast, this group's efforts seem ludicrous."
Communities shun Patriot Act
July 21, 2003
By Guy Taylor
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
About 165 communities nationwide have passed resolutions condemning the USA Patriot Act. But one little city in northern California has taken its opposition a step further, making it a misdemeanor for city employees to cooperate in enforcing the federal antiterrorism measure.
In March, Arcata officials set down a $57 fine for those who don't "promptly notify the city manager" if federal law-enforcement authorities contact them seeking help in an investigation, interrogation or arrest under the provisions of the act.
But a city fine would be nothing compared with the penalties an Arcata official faces for obstructing a federal probe, a Justice Department spokesman said.
"Obviously, the folks [in Arcata] who voted for this ordinance haven't read the law," said Justice Department spokesman Mark C. Corallo.
"This is not the FBI or the Justice Department acting unilaterally," Mr. Corallo said. "Just like any other criminal investigation, these are tools that are not just legal, but they are constitutional and they are tools that have been available for law-enforcement authorities for decades."
The Patriot Act's most-criticized provision, for so-called roving wiretaps, merely allows investigators to "track a terrorist, instead of having to get multiple warrants for every phone the guy uses," Mr. Corallo explained.
Still, critics say, the reason so many communities are denouncing the Patriot Act is because they believe the measure - passed in the wake of the September 11 attacks - vastly expands the power of federal investigators, not only for investigating terrorism suspects, but also for probing into the lives of ordinary Americans.
Most of the resolutions being signed against the 340-page act - the acronym stands for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism" - condemn its provisions that compel libraries and bookstores to assist federal investigators in monitoring the reading habits of suspects.
Timothy H. Edgar, the legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that a far more frightening provision of the Patriot Act is one that "allows investigators to sneak into your house with a warrant and conduct a search and not notify you until much later, if at all."
Further, according to a report issued earlier this month by the ACLU, the act gives the FBI "access to highly personal 'business records' - including financial, medical, mental health, library and student records - with no meaningful judicial oversight."
The report continues: "Federal officials actually can obtain a court order for records of the books you borrow from libraries or buy from bookstores, without showing probable cause of criminal activity or intent - and the librarian or bookseller cannot even tell you that the government is investigating what you read."
Justice Department officials say such criticisms are arbitrary, noting that investigators still are required to get permission from a federal judge to obtain records about the reading habits of suspects. Mr. Corallo said the wave of objections to the Patriot Act has done little more than illustrate some Americans' "incredible ignorance of federal law."
But Arcata officials aren't second-guessing themselves; they take pride in their city's stance. "A lot of people are becoming more aware of the problems with the Patriot Act," says Arcata Mayor Bob Ornelas.
"We were the first to put it in our municipal code," he said. "It's one thing to have a proclamation; we have an ordinance saying you can't engage in the Patriot Act where it violates people's constitutional rights."
Arcata, a town of about 16,000 nearly 300 miles north of San Francisco, made headlines as a haven of liberalism in the early 1990s when its City Council became first in the country with a Green Party majority. But Mr. Ornales and others point out that liberals aren't the only ones objecting to the Patriot Act.
"From the NAACP to the NRA, people are working together on these resolutions," says ACLU spokesman Damon Moglin, in reference to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Rifle Association. "We see this as being a true grass-roots response."
The ACLU's July 3 report says "more than 16 million people in 26 states have passed resolutions" condemning the Patriot Act, and that among them are some "traditionally conservative locales, such as Oklahoma City ... Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont."
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