Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category

The US-Iran sound bite showdown

May 20, 2008

By Pepe Escobar

They just can’t keep from going at each other’s throats.

Just in time for President George W Bush’s special guest appearance at the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel, his ultimate nemesis, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, unleashed another rhetorical shot across the bow as his own way of “celebrating” the anniversary.

And once again the substance of what Ahmadinejad actually said risks being lost in (mis)translation.

According to Agence France Presse (AFP), quoting the Fars news agency, Ahmadinejad, speaking in the Iranian northern province of Golestan in one of his popular provincial tours, said, “They [Israel] must know that the nations of the region hate this

counterfeit regime. And if there is the slightest chance, they will uproot this counterfeit regime.”

Reuters had a much more bellicose take. According to its translation, “They [Israel] should know that regional nations hate this fake and criminal regime and if the smallest and briefest chance is given to regional nations they will destroy it.”

It is hardly a secret that for a substantial majority of Arab populations in the Middle East – but not for their unrepresentative regimes – an Israel driven by Zionism should not have a place in the region. Thus Israel would qualify as a “counterfeit” regime that should be “uprooted”. But this does not mean that Arabs – or Persians – are in favor of the actual physical destruction of Israel.

The Associated Press’s (AP) version of the quote is even more apocalyptic. It reads: “The criminals assume that by holding celebrations … they can save the sinister Zionist regime from death and destruction.” The AP copy notes, “Ahmadinejad used an Arabic word, ismihlal, than can also be translated as destruction, death and collapse.” An Arabic expert contacted by Asia Times Online said ismihlal means basically “to break down in smaller parts”. That’s not exactly nuclear annihilation.

We are back to the situation of Ahmadinejad’s 2005 alleged threat to “wipe Israel off the map”. What he actually said then, quoting his personal icon, the leader of the Islamic revolution in 1979, ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, was that the “regime occupying Jerusalem should vanish from the pages of time”. Yes, this means regime change – as much as the Bush administration always wanted regime change in Tehran. It does not mean a call for a nuclear holocaust.

Now, the fact remains that the Reuters translation – distributed to countless newspapers all over the world – will inevitably be seized by the Bush administration and assorted armchair neo-conservative warriors as yet more evidence that Iran wants to “destroy” Israel – muscling up the case in Washington for a preemptive US attack on Iran.

This week, Philip Giraldi published a groundbreaking story on the American Conservative, according to which the US National Security Council (NSC) has agreed – in principle – on a cruise missile strike against an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force training camp near Tehran. This would be a sort of “warning” to the Iranian leadership. The only NSC member to urge for a delay was allegedly Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Giraldi carefully noted that Bush “will still have to give the order to launch after all preparations are made”. But the decision to attack seems to have been made.

Annihilation a-go-go
Juicy extras are inevitable when it comes to Ahmadinejad’s runaway tongue at ease in cozy provincial settings. What AFP translates as “the Zionist regime is on the verge of dying … throwing a birthday party for this regime is like having a birthday party for a dead person”, Reuters prefers to package as “the Zionist regime is dying. The criminals imagine that by holding celebrations … they can save the Zionist regime from death”.

But in this case it was up to APTN, the video arm of AP, to provide the meatier translation: “The criminals wrongly suppose that by holding celebrations, coming to the occupied lands of Palestine and supporting these criminals, they can save the resented Zionist regime from death, annihilation and from the claws of Palestinian fighters.”

This is as contextual as what Ahmadinejad had said a day before, in a press conference in Tehran. According to the Deutsche Presse Agentur, the German news agency, he said, “This terrorist and criminal state is backed by foreign powers, but this regime would soon be swept away by the Palestinians.” And he added, “As far as the regional countries are concerned, this regime does not exist.” This is better in terms of framing the anger expressed by Ahmadinejad – as well as the theocratic leadership in Tehran, and most of the Arab world for that matter – towards Israel as a direct consequence of Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians.

It is interesting to note that for the Iranian press, the references to Israel were not even on the map. Press TV, for instance, went with the headline “Ahmadinejad: Tyranny falling from grace”, stressing other parts of the president’s speech, for instance when he said that “tyrannical powers have fallen from grace and the sound of their cracking bones can be heard”.

Whatever Ahmadinejad said, Bush, for his part, totally stuck to script. Even before his arrival in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Bush commented that “the message to Iran is that your desire to have a nuclear weapon, coupled with your statements about the destruction of our close ally, have made it abundantly clear to everybody that we have got to work together to stop you from having a nuclear weapon. To me the single-biggest threat to peace in the Middle East is the Iranian regime.” Once again, a call for regime change.

To add fuel to the fire, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal – in synch with Washington – started accusing Iran of backing a Hezbollah coup in Lebanon. That is predictable, considering that the Hariri clan in Beirut is a Saudi client. But nothing could be further from the truth. Last week, Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah was blunt: “Had we wanted a coup, they [government leaders] would have woken up to find themselves in jail, or [thrown) in the sea.”

Nasrallah was cunning enough to see it would be politically impossible for Hezbollah to control Beirut – even though they proved they could do it, on the ground with weapons, in less than 24 hours. Nasrallah also said last week, “If they told us to come and take over, we would say ‘no thank you’.”

There is no evidence the celebrity sound bite showdown will abate any time soon. Bush appears to want war – to bolster his “legacy”. Ahmadinejad, too, might want war to bolster his faltering administration. American and world public opinion can only hope the clock does not run out before a possibly upcoming changing of the guard in the White House.

Just as the rhetoric between Tehran and Washington was once again at red alert levels, former Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Edwards stepped into the ring to announce his endorsement of Democratic Senator Barack Obama in the US presidential race – sucking out the hate waves. “Walls” inside and outside the US may soon come tumbling down, as Edwards hinted in his speech. But the fact remains that the hardline faction in the Bush administration centered around Vice President Dick Cheney still has over five months to fulfill its agenda of regime change in Iran. And the danger is Ahmadinejad will do absolutely nothing to dissuade them.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

This war on terrorism is bogus

March 6, 2008

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The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure its global domination

This article appeared in the Guardian on Saturday September 06 2003 . It was last updated at 12:15 on December 04 2003.

Massive attention has now been given – and rightly so – to the reasons why Britain went to war against Iraq. But far too little attention has focused on why the US went to war, and that throws light on British motives too. The conventional explanation is that after the Twin Towers were hit, retaliation against al-Qaida bases in Afghanistan was a natural first step in launching a global war against terrorism. Then, because Saddam Hussein was alleged by the US and UK governments to retain weapons of mass destruction, the war could be extended to Iraq as well. However this theory does not fit all the facts. The truth may be a great deal murkier.

We now know that a blueprint for the creation of a global Pax Americana was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice-president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld’s deputy), Jeb Bush (George Bush’s younger brother) and Lewis Libby (Cheney’s chief of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America’s Defences, was written in September 2000 by the neoconservative think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

The plan shows Bush’s cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says “while the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”

The PNAC blueprint supports an earlier document attributed to Wolfowitz and Libby which said the US must “discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role”. It refers to key allies such as the UK as “the most effective and efficient means of exercising American global leadership”. It describes peacekeeping missions as “demanding American political leadership rather than that of the UN”. It says “even should Saddam pass from the scene”, US bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will remain permanently… as “Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests as Iraq has”. It spotlights China for “regime change”, saying “it is time to increase the presence of American forces in SE Asia”.

The document also calls for the creation of “US space forces” to dominate space, and the total control of cyberspace to prevent “enemies” using the internet against the US. It also hints that the US may consider developing biological weapons “that can target specific genotypes [and] may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool”.

Finally – written a year before 9/11 – it pinpoints North Korea, Syria and Iran as dangerous regimes, and says their existence justifies the creation of a “worldwide command and control system”. This is a blueprint for US world domination. But before it is dismissed as an agenda for rightwing fantasists, it is clear it provides a much better explanation of what actually happened before, during and after 9/11 than the global war on terrorism thesis. This can be seen in several ways.

First, it is clear the US authorities did little or nothing to pre-empt the events of 9/11. It is known that at least 11 countries provided advance warning to the US of the 9/11 attacks. Two senior Mossad experts were sent to Washington in August 2001 to alert the CIA and FBI to a cell of 200 terrorists said to be preparing a big operation (Daily Telegraph, September 16 2001). The list they provided included the names of four of the 9/11 hijackers, none of whom was arrested.

It had been known as early as 1996 that there were plans to hit Washington targets with aeroplanes. Then in 1999 a US national intelligence council report noted that “al-Qaida suicide bombers could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House”.

Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers obtained their visas in Saudi Arabia. Michael Springman, the former head of the American visa bureau in Jeddah, has stated that since 1987 the CIA had been illicitly issuing visas to unqualified applicants from the Middle East and bringing them to the US for training in terrorism for the Afghan war in collaboration with Bin Laden (BBC, November 6 2001). It seems this operation continued after the Afghan war for other purposes. It is also reported that five of the hijackers received training at secure US military installations in the 1990s (Newsweek, September 15 2001).

Instructive leads prior to 9/11 were not followed up. French Moroccan flight student Zacarias Moussaoui (now thought to be the 20th hijacker) was arrested in August 2001 after an instructor reported he showed a suspicious interest in learning how to steer large airliners. When US agents learned from French intelligence he had radical Islamist ties, they sought a warrant to search his computer, which contained clues to the September 11 mission (Times, November 3 2001). But they were turned down by the FBI. One agent wrote, a month before 9/11, that Moussaoui might be planning to crash into the Twin Towers (Newsweek, May 20 2002).

All of this makes it all the more astonishing – on the war on terrorism perspective – that there was such slow reaction on September 11 itself. The first hijacking was suspected at not later than 8.20am, and the last hijacked aircraft crashed in Pennsylvania at 10.06am. Not a single fighter plane was scrambled to investigate from the US Andrews airforce base, just 10 miles from Washington DC, until after the third plane had hit the Pentagon at 9.38 am. Why not? There were standard FAA intercept procedures for hijacked aircraft before 9/11. Between September 2000 and June 2001 the US military launched fighter aircraft on 67 occasions to chase suspicious aircraft (AP, August 13 2002). It is a US legal requirement that once an aircraft has moved significantly off its flight plan, fighter planes are sent up to investigate.

Was this inaction simply the result of key people disregarding, or being ignorant of, the evidence? Or could US air security operations have been deliberately stood down on September 11? If so, why, and on whose authority? The former US federal crimes prosecutor, John Loftus, has said: “The information provided by European intelligence services prior to 9/11 was so extensive that it is no longer possible for either the CIA or FBI to assert a defence of incompetence.”

Nor is the US response after 9/11 any better. No serious attempt has ever been made to catch Bin Laden. In late September and early October 2001, leaders of Pakistan’s two Islamist parties negotiated Bin Laden’s extradition to Pakistan to stand trial for 9/11. However, a US official said, significantly, that “casting our objectives too narrowly” risked “a premature collapse of the international effort if by some lucky chance Mr Bin Laden was captured”. The US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Myers, went so far as to say that “the goal has never been to get Bin Laden” (AP, April 5 2002). The whistleblowing FBI agent Robert Wright told ABC News (December 19 2002) that FBI headquarters wanted no arrests. And in November 2001 the US airforce complained it had had al-Qaida and Taliban leaders in its sights as many as 10 times over the previous six weeks, but had been unable to attack because they did not receive permission quickly enough (Time Magazine, May 13 2002). None of this assembled evidence, all of which comes from sources already in the public domain, is compatible with the idea of a real, determined war on terrorism.

The catalogue of evidence does, however, fall into place when set against the PNAC blueprint. From this it seems that the so-called “war on terrorism” is being used largely as bogus cover for achieving wider US strategic geopolitical objectives. Indeed Tony Blair himself hinted at this when he said to the Commons liaison committee: “To be truthful about it, there was no way we could have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11” (Times, July 17 2002). Similarly Rumsfeld was so determined to obtain a rationale for an attack on Iraq that on 10 separate occasions he asked the CIA to find evidence linking Iraq to 9/11; the CIA repeatedly came back empty-handed (Time Magazine, May 13 2002).

In fact, 9/11 offered an extremely convenient pretext to put the PNAC plan into action. The evidence again is quite clear that plans for military action against Afghanistan and Iraq were in hand well before 9/11. A report prepared for the US government from the Baker Institute of Public Policy stated in April 2001 that “the US remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma. Iraq remains a destabilising influence to… the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East”. Submitted to Vice-President Cheney’s energy task group, the report recommended that because this was an unacceptable risk to the US, “military intervention” was necessary (Sunday Herald, October 6 2002).

Similar evidence exists in regard to Afghanistan. The BBC reported (September 18 2001) that Niaz Niak, a former Pakistan foreign secretary, was told by senior American officials at a meeting in Berlin in mid-July 2001 that “military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October”. Until July 2001 the US government saw the Taliban regime as a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of hydrocarbon pipelines from the oil and gas fields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean. But, confronted with the Taliban’s refusal to accept US conditions, the US representatives told them “either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs” (Inter Press Service, November 15 2001).

Given this background, it is not surprising that some have seen the US failure to avert the 9/11 attacks as creating an invaluable pretext for attacking Afghanistan in a war that had clearly already been well planned in advance. There is a possible precedent for this. The US national archives reveal that President Roosevelt used exactly this approach in relation to Pearl Harbor on December 7 1941. Some advance warning of the attacks was received, but the information never reached the US fleet. The ensuing national outrage persuaded a reluctant US public to join the second world war. Similarly the PNAC blueprint of September 2000 states that the process of transforming the US into “tomorrow’s dominant force” is likely to be a long one in the absence of “some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor”. The 9/11 attacks allowed the US to press the “go” button for a strategy in accordance with the PNAC agenda which it would otherwise have been politically impossible to implement.

The overriding motivation for this political smokescreen is that the US and the UK are beginning to run out of secure hydrocarbon energy supplies. By 2010 the Muslim world will control as much as 60% of the world’s oil production and, even more importantly, 95% of remaining global oil export capacity. As demand is increasing, so supply is decreasing, continually since the 1960s.

This is leading to increasing dependence on foreign oil supplies for both the US and the UK. The US, which in 1990 produced domestically 57% of its total energy demand, is predicted to produce only 39% of its needs by 2010. A DTI minister has admitted that the UK could be facing “severe” gas shortages by 2005. The UK government has confirmed that 70% of our electricity will come from gas by 2020, and 90% of that will be imported. In that context it should be noted that Iraq has 110 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in addition to its oil.

A report from the commission on America’s national interests in July 2000 noted that the most promising new source of world supplies was the Caspian region, and this would relieve US dependence on Saudi Arabia. To diversify supply routes from the Caspian, one pipeline would run westward via Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Another would extend eastwards through Afghanistan and Pakistan and terminate near the Indian border. This would rescue Enron’s beleaguered power plant at Dabhol on India’s west coast, in which Enron had sunk $3bn investment and whose economic survival was dependent on access to cheap gas.

Nor has the UK been disinterested in this scramble for the remaining world supplies of hydrocarbons, and this may partly explain British participation in US military actions. Lord Browne, chief executive of BP, warned Washington not to carve up Iraq for its own oil companies in the aftermath of war (Guardian, October 30 2002). And when a British foreign minister met Gadaffi in his desert tent in August 2002, it was said that “the UK does not want to lose out to other European nations already jostling for advantage when it comes to potentially lucrative oil contracts” with Libya (BBC Online, August 10 2002).

The conclusion of all this analysis must surely be that the “global war on terrorism” has the hallmarks of a political myth propagated to pave the way for a wholly different agenda – the US goal of world hegemony, built around securing by force command over the oil supplies required to drive the whole project. Is collusion in this myth and junior participation in this project really a proper aspiration for British foreign policy? If there was ever need to justify a more objective British stance, driven by our own independent goals, this whole depressing saga surely provides all the evidence needed for a radical change of course.

· Michael Meacher MP was environment minister from May 1997 to June 2003

The Gulf of Tonkin and the Strait of Hormuz

January 9, 2008

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By ROBERT FANTINA

As the U.S. government continues to demonstrate its inability to learn from history, an alarming report from the Strait of Hormuz was broadcast to the world on January 7. The Associated Press reported the following: “In what U.S. officials called a serious provocation, Iranian boats harassed and provoked three U.S. Navy ships in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, threatening to explode the American vessels.” These Iranian ships are believed to part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s navy, the organization that the U.S. Congress officially decreed a ‘terrorist’ organization.

Those either old enough to remember, or cognizant enough to understand history, will immediately be reminded of the infamous ‘Gulf of Tonkin’ incident, reported on August 2, 1964. On that day, the U.S. destroyer Maddox, on an espionage mission in the Gulf of Tonkin off the Vietnam coast, reported being fired on by North Vietnamese torpedo patrol boats. In response the Maddox fired back, sinking one boat. Tensions in the area were already growing, and now the world watched and waited.

On August 4 of that same year, the Maddox and the C. Turner Joy, another destroyer, were again patrolling the Gulf of Tonkin. Instruments on the Maddox indicated that it was either attacked or was under attack, and both the Maddox and the C. Turner Joy began firing back, with assistance from U.S. air power.

It was less than 24 hours later when the captain concluded that there might not have been an attack; why the instruments indicated otherwise was not clearly explained. The pilot of a Crusader jet, James B. Stockdale, undertook a reconnaissance flight over the gulf that evening. He was asked if he saw any North Vietnamese attack vessels. Mr. Stockdale did not equivocate in his response. Said he: “Not a one. No boats, no wakes, no ricochets off boats, no boat impacts, no torpedo wakes–nothing but black sea and American firepower.”

Yet this non-event, either misinterpreted or fabricated altogether, was seen by an hysterical U.S. Congress, ever willing to protect America from its enemies, real or imagined, as aggression against the U.S. It also provided members of that august body with some additional ‘I’m-strong- on-Communism’ credentials, which were ever in demand from the end of World War II until the dawn of the world’s newest bugaboo, ‘terrorism.’ Congress quickly passed the so-called ‘Gulf of Tonkin Resolution,’ which empowered President Lyndon Johnson to take all measures he deemed necessary to repel aggression. While this was not the start of the Vietnam War, it represented the first major escalation that did not end for over a decade, and cost the lives of over 50,000 U.S. soldiers, and between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 Vietnamese citizens. It caused havoc with the U.S. economy, brought near-revolution to American streets and campuses and drew hostility towards the U.S. from most of the world.

Today, an unidentified Pentagon official called this ‘incident’ in the Strait of Hormuz “a serious provocation.” Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman referred to it as a “serious incident.” Mr. Gordon Johndore, National Security Council spokesman said the United States urges the Iranians “to refrain from such provocative actions that could lead to a dangerous incident in the future.”

It must be remembered that it was just a month ago that the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) determined that Iran ceased its nuclear weapons program four years ago. As President Bush was busy rattling his saber, and apparently itching to start yet another war, the NIE took the wind out of his bloody sails. He huffed and puffed and said, inexplicably, that the NIE report proved that Iran was still a great threat to the U.S., but it seemed that no one took him too seriously. Now, however, we have an ‘incident.’ Obviously, we are told, like in the Gulf of Tonkin 44 years ago, the U.S. has been the victim of ‘aggression.’

It is, of course, unimportant to consider that Iran might understandably be a little trigger-happy when it sees U.S. naval vessels approaching. Just because Iran’s next-door neighbor was invaded by the U.S. without provocation, and now is in the midst of a deadly occupation, should not in any way justify Iran’s wariness. The fact that it was only a year ago that Mr. Bush sent a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf for no other reason than to intimidate Iran, and to participate in ‘war games’ (an oxymoron if ever there was one) in clear sight of one of the members of Mr. Bush’s ‘axis of evil,’ should simply be ignored by Iran. The fact that the U.S. has a long and violent history of invading countries that displease it in some way (perhaps they have a democratically elected government that does not bow and scrape to the occupant of the White House throne) should not alarm Iran. Mr. Bush and his spokesman have not said that they plan to invade Iran; they simply said no options are off the table.

One waits in anxious impatience to see how Congress will react. Surely the slowly-dwindling multitudes seeking the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations will race each other to the microphone to denounce Iranian aggression, thus shining their patriotic credentials. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), who last fall voted to name Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, can gloat and glow with jingoistic satisfaction that that organization has now proven her right and her critics wrong, at least in her own mind. Perhaps former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, stumbling along on the path if not towards the Republican nomination, at least in its general direction, will endorse whatever Mr. Bush proclaims; after all, Mr. Romney has stated that it is Mr. Bush who has kept America safe (save for one or two unfortunate incidents in September of 2001). Will former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who never tires of reminding the voters that he and he alone was mayor of New York on September 11 2001 (whatever that may be worth), now raise the specter of Iranian terrorism in the U.S?

One could sit back and laugh at the nonsense proclaimed by the men and women who seek to lead the United States if their actions were not so dangerous. In 1964 an incident not unlike the one that allegedly took place in the Strait of Hormuz on January 8 of this year caused Congress to officially embark on America’s most deadly imperial disaster. ‘Flawed intelligence,’ at best, and outright lies at worst paved the way for the current imperial mess which has the potential to dwarf America’s Vietnam catastrophe. And now, with a lame duck president seeking to salvage his disgraced reputation, one wonders if this reported incident from Iran will have the same effect as the non-incident in the Gulf of Tonkin 44 years ago.

Mr. Bush & Co. have never been particularly interested in facts. They have not had any desire to listen to opposing opinions. They have happily ignored the wishes of the U.S. citizens. They apparently have been very interested in enriching themselves and their cronies, and have focused their desire for riches on oil, at the expense of the blood of their own, and Iraq’s, citizens. They have used fear to get Congress to support their crimes. There is nothing to cause one to think things will be different now. Congress has proved its spinelessness over and over, and we all know that there is no reason for statesmanship when interesting, pander-to-the-fear-of-the-moment sound bytes are so much easier.

Whether or not this current situation leads Congress to justify an invasion of Iran, or other actions that will lead to an invasion, remains to be seen. But the U.S. has not learned from its own history, and another repeat of an unneeded and catastrophic war is not, unfortunately, unthinkable. That the president will not stop it is not surprising; that Congress will be complicit once again is unspeakable.

Robert Fantina is author of ‘Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776–2006.

Analyze This

December 8, 2007

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Inside the one spy agency that got pre-war intelligence on Iraq–and much else–right. By Justin Rood


In August 1998, North Korea’s military caught Western intelligence off-guard when it announced it had successfully tested a ballistic missile called the Taepo-Dong 1, considered a precursor to the kind of intercontinental weaponry that could threaten America’s Pacific coast. Conservatives in Congress condemned the CIA for being caught with its pants down. Brandishing a report by a committee headed by the once and future Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, which called rogue states with missiles the biggest threat to American security, these same conservatives pressed the Clinton administration to set aside money for a missile shield. In an effort to play catch-up, the CIA put a team of its best analysts on the case, sorting through satellite photos, tips from defectors, and electronic intercepts to determine how close North Korea was to possessing intercontinental missiles. Six months later, Director George Tenet delivered the CIA’s conclusion in testimony before the Senate: Contrary to its own earlier analysis, the CIA now believed that North Korea would test an intercontinental missile in the “near future.” In response to this new threat, the Clinton administration earmarked $6.6 billion over five years to develop a missile-defense system.CIA analysts weren’t the only ones poring over the data, however. Throughout the government, other intelligence agencies were looking at the same material, and one of these shops came to a markedly different conclusion. Over at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), analysts argued that the North Koreans were much farther off than the CIA believed. North Korea could potentially threaten the United States within a decade “only if it abandons its current moratorium on long-range missile flight testing,” Tom Fingar, then-acting principal deputy assistant secretary of INR, testified before Congress in February 2001. Although the White House and Congress accepted the CIA’s analysis, INR ultimately proved to be correct. In the five years since Tenet’s testimony, North Korea has yet to test an intercontinental ballistic missile.This wasn’t just a case of dumb luck for INR. Over the last decade, INR has frequently arrived at more prescient conclusions than the CIA and other intelligence agencies about the nature of threats to the United States. In 2001, when U.S. intelligence agents intercepted a shipment of aluminum tubes bound for Iraq, CIA analysts concluded they were for uranium enrichment, proof that Saddam Hussein was building a secret nuclear-weapons program. The INR, working from the same body of intelligence, concluded (rightly, it turned out) that the tubes were more likely intended for conventional, not nuclear, weaponry.

Indeed, on the whole question of Iraq’s nuclear capabilities, INR came consistently closer to the truth than did other agencies. The intelligence community’s collective analysis on this issue was assembled by CIA Director Tenet in a 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, a document that contains the consensus of all the government’s intelligence agencies: the CIA, FBI, NSA, and intelligence groups at State, Energy, and Defense, among others. The 2002 estimate included the crux of the case that the Bush administration would present to the American public and the world in arguing for war. And the document’s conclusion–that Iraq was three to five years away from being capable of building nuclear weapons–convinced many Democrats and other skeptics that a war in Iraq might be justified. But when INR received a draft of the estimate, it balked, believing that other intelligence agencies had vastly overestimated the status and capability of Iraq’s nuclear program. INR thought the whole report was flawed; rather than including minor objections to specific statements, it took its name off of the estimate and detailed its objections in one long endnote. Of course, when American soldiers and U.N. inspectors combed through Iraq in the wake of the U.S. military conquest, what they found–and didn’t find–confirmed INR’s suspicions. The rest of the intelligence community had gotten it wrong again.

INR hasn’t always called it right. The agency joined the rest of the intelligence community in greatly overestimating Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons capability. And there have been some matters which the CIA has gotten right and INR wrong. INR dissented when the CIA concluded that China was selling M-11 missiles to Pakistan in the 1990s, though it turned out that the sales actually were taking place. Still, INR’s overall record has been impressive. Richard Clarke, a former counterterrorism advisor to three presidents and a former senior INR official, called INR “the intelligence-analysis organization with the best track record for accuracy.”

In the wake of Congress’ restructuring of the U.S. intelligence establishment, the new national intelligence czar faces a mountainous task: compelling the CIA’s cowed and moribund intelligence collectors to get out into the field, coordinating disparate and warring bureaucracies, and coping with an ever more shadowy and cunning terrorist threat. Perhaps the new czar’s most critical job will be improving the performance of analysts at the nation’s intelligence agencies–the people who look at the material, connect the dots, and decide what it means. Thankfully, INR provides a terrific model for how the analytic shops at different agencies should operate. The new czar need only learn its secrets: that its performance derives from its analysts’ high quality and depth of experience, from their facility with foreign languages, from their human contacts within the regions they study, and, most importantly, from an institutional culture that does not just tolerate dissent–but actually encourages it.

No plans to grow

It may be one of the smallest and least-noticed intelligence agencies, but INR developed a track record early on in its history of getting the big questions right. The office was cleaved off from the World War II Office of Special Services (OSS): OSS’ operations department became the CIA. But its analysts were moved into a new agency under the auspices of the State Department: INR. From the beginning, its mission was to provide the secretary of state with independent analysis of the intelligence gathered by Foreign Service officers and other agencies on the primary threats of the day. And though the CIA, NSA, and other agencies grew into mammoth structures during the Cold War, some adding analytic divisions to their operations forces while vastly expanding their collection capacities (spies, satellites), INR stuck to analysis. Interpreting data other people collect isn’t terribly glamorous, but INR developed a reputation in spy circles for its accuracy and judgment.

In the 1950s, the bureau’s assessments of Soviet military capability were more accurate than the often-inflated opinions coming from the CIA and the Pentagon, says John Prados, an intelligence expert and historian at the National Security Archives. “State Department intelligence,” he writes, “helped to hold projections made by the military services within some sort of bounds.” And during the 1960s, INR held fast to its belief–later proven true–that the Russians were not testing missiles with multiple, independently-targetable nuclear warheads, despite the Pentagon’s insistence to the contrary, and the CIA’s willingness to bow to that hawkish view. During the Vietnam War, INR analysts looked at the military’s own data on the number of enemy prisoners captured, enemy attacks, and weapons confiscated, and concluded that the war was not going as well as defense officials were claiming. It was a heady moment for the civilian analysts at INR, taking on the military establishment on a military topic using the military’s own data. The Pentagon was outraged, says Prados, but again INR turned out to be right.

Today, while the CIA operates out of a gleaming campus on the Potomac, and the NSA inhabits a similarly futuristic enclave in Fort Meade, Md., INR has a set of grad-student-like digs in Foggy Bottom. The nondescript offices in the State Department’s headquarters sport repainted ceiling tiles that buckle at the seams, linoleum floors, and narrow hallways.

I went there recently to interview the agency’s head, Tom Fingar, a tall man with hair more salt than pepper, round glasses, and a pensive demeanor. The office, spacious and wood-paneled as a dean’s redoubt, matches the personality of its occupant, a former academic and China scholar. Today, INR is still small and obscure. At $50 million, its budget is “decimal dust,” Fingar said, when compared to the estimated $40 billion spent by the rest of the intelligence community. Experts estimate the CIA has between 4,000 and 7,500 analysts, and are under presidential orders to increase that number by 50 percent; INR has approximately 160 analysts with no plans to grow.

Knowing the mad scramble for billions now underway as government agencies compete for funds that Congress can’t seem to give away fast enough, I pressed Fingar about whether his agency could use more money. The director considered the question before answering. “Does it matter for our people to ride coach instead of first class? I don’t think so. Would I like more? Yeah, a little more. I don’t know what I’d do with more than a 10 percent increase,” he concluded. “I could use more flexible money to let someone travel to get their language skills back. But we’re in good shape.” “It’s weird,” former CIA officer Robert Baer told me a couple of days later, after praising INR’s work. “But not having money in Washington seems to help.”

My buddy Vladimir Putin

Funding might or might not have anything to do with INR’s success. But when I asked dozens of intelligence operators worldwide why the office has been so successful, I got several consistent answers.

The first reason seems to be that INR analysts simply have more years on the job, focused on the same country or region, than do their counterparts elsewhere. The average tenure of an INR analyst is 15 years, whereas at the CIA, where analysts typically change beats as a way of advancing their careers, the average tenure is more like five years, according to sources. “The difference,” former INR director Carl W. Ford, who previously spent years at the CIA, explained to me, “is having one experienced person looking at material versus 25 inexperienced people.”

Second, INR gets a different kind of analyst. The CIA, under the gun to staff up mightily after its ranks were thinned by budget cuts in the 1970s and 1990s, tends to recruit kids right out of college and train them in their new “specialties.” (All new CIA hires must be under 35 years of age, although that requirement is occasionally waived.) And while the CIA’s young analysts occasionally travel to their countries of responsibility and bone up by reading at their desk, they have little first-hand experience of their regions. INR couldn’t be more different. Among the civil servants who make up two-thirds of its staff are many scholars lured out of the academy who come with years of knowledge. Fingar is one of them: He spent a decade-and-a-half as a scholar at Stanford’s U.S.-China relations program, speaks fluent Mandarin, and has traveled widely in China. The other third of INR’s staff are Foreign Service officers rotating through who usually have spent several diplomatic tours in the country or region they are focusing on at INR, and who thus have both a reservoir of knowledge about its personalities and history, and a deep well of personal contacts.

Typical is John Evans, who was a senior analyst at INR’s Russia desk before taking his current post as ambassador to Armenia. During the early 1990s, Evans worked at the U.S. consulate in Leningrad, where he spoke on occasion with the city’s mayor, Anatoly Sobchak. His usual contact, however, was Sobchak’s deputy, Vladimir Putin. “Imagine the CIA,” says Greg Thielmann, a former strategic director of INR, “with a whole stable of bright young college grads in their twenties looking at all the evidence about Putin–and, over at State, you’ve got a guy who’s worked regularly with him.”

The third reason INR tends to get it right is that because many of its analysts have been in the field as Foreign Service officers, they have a better sense of how intelligence is collected. Consequently, they know when it should be looked at critically in a way that CIA analysts–few of whom come over from CIA field jobs–don’t. In most embassies, Foreign Service officers work down the hall from CIA case officers and in many cases do similar kinds of work: collecting information, sometimes from the same sources. “The difference between the State Department and the CIA is that the CIA pays for information, and State doesn’t,” explained former CIA officer Baer, and the reliability of paid-for information is often questionable. Moreover, to protect the identity of sources, CIA field reports are typically written with little explanation of where or from whom information came. INR analysts, who from experience have learned to be suspicious of some sources–for example, exiles–tend to give the CIA’s more selectively sourced intelligence less credence. As a result, Thielmann said, he was more skeptical of human intelligence that came from the CIA, and he thought that was true of other Foreign Service officers he worked with at INR. Although, Thielmann noted, everyone at INR was pretty skeptical. “I was surrounded by civil service analysts with the same skepticism, which came from watching bad reports out of Iraq and elsewhere. We took a jaundiced eye towards this stuff.”

The fourth and most important reason for INR’s success is that the agency has a culture that tolerates dissent. The lasting criticism of the CIA that the 9/11 Commission produced was of the Agency’s tendency to shoehorn evidence to fit the results that the higher-ups desired. The commission criticized the CIA for having a culture of compliance, not disagreement. If anything, INR displays the opposite impulse: One INR official told me that the office is a “small band of curmudgeons.”

There’s no better example than the case of the aluminum tubes. When American intelligence operatives seized a shipment of these tubes headed for Iraq in late 2002, one CIA analyst with some professional experience of working with centrifuges concluded that the tubes were destined for use in uranium enriching facilities. Most of the rest of the intelligence community, working in an environment in which the president and his top appointees were demanding evidence of Iraq’s continuing WMD programs, signed on with this view. But analysts at the Department of Energy’s intelligence shop, whose expertise on these technical matters dwarfed that of the CIA, were skeptical, arguing that the tubes were far more likely intended for use in building conventional rockets since the Iraqis had used the same kinds of tubes to that purpose in the past. Though this wasn’t the politically popular answer, INR agreed to DOE’s analysis, the only other agency to dispute the CIA’s line.

It is hard to overstate the importance of the aluminum tube issue. It was supposedly the smoking gun, the piece of the administration’s case for war against Iraq that made all the other pieces fall together. “Remember,” David Kay, the chief American arms inspector after the war, told The New York Times, “the tubes were the only piece of physical evidence about the Iraqi weapons programs that they had.” In his speech to the United Nations making the case for war with Iraq, Secretary of State Powell split the difference, acknowledging that there was a debate over the tubes, but arguing strongly that they had been intended for uranium enrichment, a view his own analytic shop thought wrong. Other senior administration officials were even less circumspect.

A culture of dissent must be nurtured and protected if it is to thrive–and State has usually given INR the requisite political insulation. After Powell mentioned the CIA’s conclusions about the aluminum tubes in his speech at the United Nations, retired INR analyst Greg Thielmann criticized Powell publicly, telling “60 Minutes II” that the speech was “probably one of the low points in [Powell’s] long, distinguished service to the nation.” But far from shunning Thielmann, the State Department kept him in its good graces: Last September, when Fingar followed Powell into State’s grand, eighth-floor Benjamin Franklin Room to be sworn in as assistant secretary of State, one of the people invited to watch was Thielmann. For analysts, the symbolic embrace of Thielmann affirmed something they’d always been told INR believed: Productive dissent was encouraged. That’s unique in intelligence circles. Every ex-Langley hand I interviewed agreed with former CIA operations officer Melissa Boyle Mayle, who said her agency would never be as forgiving towards one of its internal critics. “If you’re out [at the CIA], you’re out,” she told me. “You’re one of ‘them.'”

Part of the reason that INR enjoys this level of protection is institutional. The State Department’s staffers, by virtue of their responsibilities, simply must be open to the points of view of the countries with which they conduct daily diplomacy. There is an inherent tension within the State Department between cooperating with the White House and coordinating with the rest of the world. That tension creates a market within the department for objective analysis, a need for an honest broker. “This building understands we’re useless if we’re not objective,” Fingar told me. “If you want an echo, close your door. Or sing in the shower.”

Another part of the reason for INR’s insulation has to do with the kind of people who have led it. INR analysts give former INR director Ford, for instance, tremendous credit for shielding the bureau from political pressure. “Carl earned the respect of people in the bureau for standing up for the work of the bureau,” Thielmann told me. “He even stood up to the CIA.”

Even secretaries of state have understood how valuable INR can be when it is protected. When the Bush administration asked Powell to deliver its case for war to the United Nations in January 2003, it turns out it already had prepared the speech for Powell to give. The CIA had been working on it since December 2002. Before he did, Powell secretly passed the text to INR analysts for a thorough going-over, cutting the more egregious claims in the speech. Keeping the transaction private protected INR.

In the company of wolves

Not everyone in Washington is a fan of INR. Many neoconservatives especially see the agency as a threat to the more vigorous military project they advocate. In The Washington Times in August 2003, former Reagan White House official Frank Gaffney Jr. lamented the purported bias of INR’s career civil servant experts. “This bureau’s intelligence products have tended to reflect the policy predilections of State’s permanent bureaucracy, rather than the facts.” But there’s a simple bottom-line test for intelligence: Who called it right most often? And on the big questions, INR has consistently gotten right what other agencies have gotten wrong.

That’s certainly the conclusion the 9/11 Commission came to. While the commission recommended that the CIA, DIA, and most other intelligence agencies be gathered together under the office of a new intelligence czar, it also urged that INR be kept away from the czar’s jurisdiction because its independent analysis had worked so well. Congress agreed. When it passed legislation in December creating the Office of National Intelligence, INR was one of the few intelligence agencies left out of the reorganization.

Congress also concurred on another commission recommendation: that the new czar should try to foster in all intel agencies the same culture of dissent that thrives at INR. The new law specifies a checklist of procedures the czar must implement to encourage openness and criticism, from mandatory reviews to see if analytic judgements match the underlying intelligence data, to a government-wide ombudsman to handle any complaints by analysts of political pressure from higher-ups.

But in the end, the intelligence czar answers to the president, and will promote a culture of questioning only to the extent he is ordered to, and thus far, President Bush has not been known for his encouragement of dissenting views. Similarly, INR can continue to thrive as Washington’s most prescient intel shop only if its independence is promoted and defended by the secretary of state. Already, rumors are rampant at Foggy Bottom that Condoleezza Rice, the president’s choice to replace Powell, has orders to enforce more policy and message discipline at State, and plans to oust dissidents, including top officials at INR. On the eve of Bush’s second term, then, the big question is this: Will the rest of the intelligence community end up looking like INR, or will INR end up looking like the rest of the intelligence community?

Justin Rood is a staff writer at Congressional Quarterly.

To Pick the Winning Team, You Have to Know Who The Players Are

November 10, 2007

by George Washington

http://georgewashington.blogspot.com/2007/11/911-roster.html
You have to know who the players are before you can pick the winning team, right?

So take a look at what the top military leaders, intelligence professionals, scientists, structural engineers, architects, members of Congress, 9/11 Commissioners, legal scholars, heroic first responders, family members of 9/11 victims and psychiatrists say before you make up your mind about who’s on the winning side of the 9/11 debate:

MILITARY LEADERS

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan (Col. Ronald D. Ray) said that the official story of 9/11 is “the dog that doesn’t hunt” (bio)

Director of the U.S. “Star Wars” space defense program in both Republican and Democratic administrations, who was a senior air force colonel who flew 101 combat missions (Col. Robert Bowman) stated that 9/11 was an inside job. He also said:

If our government had merely [done] nothing, and I say that as an old interceptor pilot—I know the drill, I know what it takes, I know how long it takes, I know what the procedures are, I know what they were, and I know what they’ve changed them to—if our government had merely done nothing, and allowed normal procedures to happen on that morning of 9/11, the Twin Towers would still be standing and thousands of dead Americans would still be alive. [T]hat is treason!

U.S. Army Air Defense Officer and NORAD Tac Director, decorated with the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Soldiers Medal (Capt. Daniel Davis) stated:

“there is no way that an aircraft . . . would not be intercepted when they deviate from their flight plan, turn off their transponders, or stop communication with Air Traffic Control … Attempts to obscure facts by calling them a ‘conspiracy Theory’ does not change the truth. It seems, ‘Something is rotten in the State.’ “

President of the U.S. Air Force Accident Investigation Board, who also served as Pentagon Weapons Requirement Officer and as a member of the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, and who was awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses for Heroism, four Air Medals, four Meritorious Service Medals, and nine Aerial Achievement Medals (Lt. Col. Jeff Latas) is a member of a group which doubts the government’s version of 9/11

U.S. General, Commanding General of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, decorated with the Bronze Star, Silver Star, and Purple Heart (General Wesley Clark) said “We’ve never finished the investigation of 9/11 and whether the administration actually misused the intelligence information it had. The evidence seems pretty clear to me. I’ve seen that for a long time.”

Air Force Colonel and key Pentagon official (Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski) finds various aspects of 9/11 suspicious

Lieutenant colonel, 24-year Air Force career, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the Defense Language Institute (Lt. Colonel Steve Butler) said “Of course Bush knew about the impending attacks on America. He did nothing to warn the American people because he needed this war on terrorism.”

Two-Star general (Major General Albert Stubbelbine) questions the attack on the Pentagon

U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, former instructor at the USAF Fighter Weapons School and NATO’s Tactical Leadership Program, with a 20-year Air Force career (Lt. Colonel Guy S. Razer) said the following:

“I am 100% convinced that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were planned, organized, and committed by treasonous perpetrators that have infiltrated the highest levels of our government ….

Those of us in the military took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”. Just because we have retired does not make that oath invalid, so it is not just our responsibility, it is our duty to expose the real perpetrators of 9/11 and bring them to justice, no matter how hard it is, how long it takes, or how much we have to suffer to do it.

We owe it to those who have gone before us who executed that same oath, and who are doing the same thing in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. Those of us who joined the military and faithfully executed orders that were given us had to trust our leaders. The violation and abuse of that trust is not only heinous, but ultimately the most accurate definition of treason!”

U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, a fighter pilot with over 300 combat missions flown and a 21-year Marine Corps career (Lt. Colonel Shelton F. Lankford) believes that 9/11 was an inside job, and said:

“This isn’t about party, it isn’t about Bush Bashing. It’s about our country, our constitution, and our future. …

Your countrymen have been murdered and the more you delve into it the more it looks as though they were murdered by our government, who used it as an excuse to murder other people thousands of miles away.

If you ridicule others who have sincere doubts and who know factual information that directly contradicts the official report and who want explanations from those who hold the keys to our government, and have motive, means, and opportunity to pull off a 9/11, but you are too lazy or fearful, or … to check into the facts yourself, what does that make you? ….

Are you afraid that you will learn the truth and you can’t handle it? …”

U.S. Navy ‘Top Gun’ pilot (Commander Ralph Kolstad) who questions the official account of 9/11 and is calling for a new investigation, says “When one starts using his own mind, and not what one was told, there is very little to believe in the official story”.

The Group Director on matters of national security in the U.S. Government Accountability Office said that President Bush did not respond to unprecedented warnings of the 9/11 disaster and conducted a massive cover-up instead of accepting responsibility

Additionally, numerous military leaders from allied governments have questioned 9/11, such as:

Canadian Minister of Defense, the top military leader of Canada (Paul Hellyer)

Assistant German Defense Minister (Andreas Von Bulow)

Commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy (Anatoli Kornukov)

Chief of staff of the Russian armed forces (General Leonid Ivashov)

INTELLIGENCE PROFESSIONALS

A 27-year CIA veteran, who chaired National Intelligence Estimates and personally delivered intelligence briefings to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, their Vice Presidents, Secretaries of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many other senior government officials (Raymond McGovern) said “I think at simplest terms, there’s a cover-up. The 9/11 Report is a joke”, and is open to the possibility that 9/11 was an inside job.

A 29-year CIA veteran, former National Intelligence Officer (NIO) and former Director of the CIA’s Office of Regional and Political Analysis (William Bill Christison) said “I now think there is persuasive evidence that the events of September did not unfold as the Bush administration and the 9/11 Commission would have us believe. … All three [buildings that were destroyed in the World Trade Center] were most probably destroyed by controlled demolition charges placed in the buildings before 9/11.” (and see this).

20-year Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer, the second-ranking civilian in U.S. Marine Corps Intelligence, and former CIA clandestine services case officer (David Steele) stated that “9/11 was at a minimum allowed to happen as a pretext for war”, and it was probably an inside job (see Customer Review dated October 7, 2006).

A decorated 20-year CIA veteran, whose Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh called “perhaps the best on-the-ground field officer in the Middle East”, and astounding career formed the script for the Academy Award winning motion picture Syriana (Robert Baer) said that“the evidence points at” 9/11 having had aspects of being an inside job .

The Division Chief of the CIA’s Office of Soviet Affairs, who served as Senior Analyst from 1966 – 1990. He also served as Professor of International Security at the National War College from 1986 – 2004 (Melvin Goodman) said “The final [9/11 Commission] report is ultimately a coverup.”

Professor of History and International Relations, University of Maryland. Former Executive Assistant to the Director of the National Security Agency. Former military attaché in China. 21-year career in U.S. Army Intelligence (Major John M. Newman, PhD, U.S. Army)
questions the government’s version of the events of 9/11.

The head of all U.S. intelligence, the Director of National Intelligence (Mike McConnel) said “9/11 should have and could have been prevented”

9/11 COMMISSIONERS

The 9/11 Commissioners knew that military officials lied to the Commission, and considered recommending criminal charges for such false statements, yet didn’t bother to tell the American people (free subscription required).

Indeed, the co-chairs of the Commission (Thomas Keane and Lee Hamilton) now admit that the Commission largely operated based upon political considerations.

9/11 Commission co-chair Lee Hamilton says “I don’t believe for a minute we got everything right”, that the Commission was set up to fail, that people should keep asking questions about 9/11, that the 9/11 debate should continue, and that the 9/11 Commission report was only “the first draft” of history.

9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey said that “There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version . . . We didn’t have access . . . .”

9/11 Commissioner Timothy Roemer said “We were extremely frustrated with the false statements we were getting”

Former 9/11 Commissioner Max Cleland resigned from the Commission, stating: “It is a national scandal”; “This investigation is now compromised”; and “One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up”.

The Senior Counsel to the 9/11 Commission (John Farmer) who led the 9/11 staff’s inquiry, said “I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described …. The tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years…. This is not spin. This is not true.”

SCIENTISTS

A prominent physicist with 33 years of service for the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC (Dr. David L. Griscom) said that the official theory for why the Twin Towers and world trade center building 7 collapsed “does not match the available facts” and supports the theory that the buildings were brought down by controlled demolition
A world-renowned scientist, recipient of the National Medal of Science, America’s highest honor for scientific achievement (Dr. Lynn Margulis) said:

I suggest that those of us aware and concerned demand that the glaringly erroneous official account of 9/11 be dismissed as a fraud and a new, thorough, and impartial investigation be undertaken.

The former head of the Fire Science Division of the government agency which claims that the World Trade Centers collapsed due to fire (the National Institute of Standards and Technology), who is a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, with more than 25 years experience in fire research and its applications, and is a professor in the Department of Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland (Dr. James Quintiere), called for an independent review of the World Trade Center Twin Tower collapse investigation. “I wish that there would be a peer review of this,” he said, referring to the NIST investigation. “I think all the records that NIST has assembled should be archived. I would really like to see someone else take a look at what they’ve done; both structurally and from a fire point of view. … I think the official conclusion that NIST arrived at is questionable.”
Former Director for Research, Director for Aeronautical Projects, and Flight Research Program Manager for NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, who holds masters degrees in both physics and engineering (Dwain A. Deets) says:

The many visual images (massive structural members being hurled horizontally, huge pyroclastic clouds, etc.) leave no doubt in my mind explosives were involved [in the destruction of the World Trade Centers on 9/11].”

A prominent physicist, former U.S. professor of physics from a top university, and a former principal investigator for the U.S. Department of Energy, Division of Advanced Energy Projects (Dr. Steven E. Jones) stated that the world trade centers were brought down by controlled demolition

A U.S. physics professor who teaches at several universities (Dr. Crockett Grabbe) believes that the World Trade Centers were brought down by controlled demolition

An expert on demolition (Bent Lund) said that the trade centers were brought down with explosives (in Danish)

A Dutch demolition expert (Danny Jowenko) stated that WTC 7 was imploded

A safety engineer and accident analyst for the Finnish National Safety Technology Authority (Dr. Heikki Kurttila) stated regarding WTC 7 that “The great speed of the collapse and the low value of the resistance factor strongly suggest controlled demolition.”A 13-year professor of metallurgical engineering at a U.S. university, with a PhD in materials engineering, a former Congressional Office of Technology Assessment Senior Staff Member (Dr. Joel S. Hirschhorn), is calling for a new investigation of 9/11

A Danish professor of chemistry (Dr. Niels Harrit) said, in a mainstream Danish newspaper, “WTC7 collapsed exactly like a house of cards. If the fires or damage in one corner had played a decisive role, the building would have fallen in that direction. You don’t have to be a woodcutter to grasp this” (translated)

A former guidance systems engineer for Polaris and Trident missiles and professor emeritus, mathematics and computer science at a university concluded (Dr. Bruce R. Henry) that the Twin Towers “were brought down by planted explosives.”
A professor of mathematics (Gary Welz) said “The official explanation that I’ve heard doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t explain why I heard and felt an explosion before the South Tower fell and why the concrete was pulverized”

STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS AND ARCHITECTS
A prominent engineer with 55 years experience, in charge of the design of hundreds of major building projects including high rise offices, former member of the California Seismic Safety Commission and former member of the National Institute of Sciences Building Safety Council (Marx Ayres) believes that the World Trade Centers were brought down by controlled demolition (see also this)

Two professors of structural engineering at a prestigious Swiss university (Dr. Joerg Schneider and Dr. Hugo Bachmann) said that, on 9/11, World Trade Center 7 was brought down by controlled demolition (translation here)

Charles Pegelow, structural engineer, of Houston, Texas (and see this)

Dennis Kollar, structural engineer, of West Bend, Wisconsin

Doyle Winterton, structural engineer (retired)

Haluk Akol, Structural Engineer and architect (ret.)

William Rice, P.E., structural engineer, former professor of Vermont Technical College

An architect, member of the American Institute of Architects, who has been a practicing architect for 20 years and has been responsible for the production of construction documents for numerous steel-framed and fire-protected buildings for uses in many different areas, including education, civic, rapid transit and industrial use (Richard Gage) disputes the claim that fire and airplane damage brought down the World Trade Centers and believes there is strong evidence of controlled demolition (many other architects who question 9/11 are listed here)

LEGAL SCHOLARS

Former Federal Prosecutor, Office of Special Investigations, U.S. Department of Justice under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan; former U.S. Army Intelligence officer, and currently a widely-sought media commentator on terrorism and intelligence services (John Loftus) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Former Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation; former Professor of Aviation, Dept. of Aerospace Engineering and Aviation and Professor of Public Policy, Ohio State University (Mary Schiavo) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois, Champaign; a leading practitioner and advocate of international law; responsible for drafting the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, the American implementing legislation for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention; served on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International (1988-1992), and represented Bosnia- Herzegovina at the World Court, with a Doctor of Law Magna Cum Laude as well as a Ph.D. in Political Science, both from Harvard University (Dr.
Francis Boyle) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Former prosecutor in the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the U.S. Justice Department and a key member of Attorney General Bobby Kennedy’s anti-corruption task force; former assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois (J. Terrence “Terry” Brunner) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Professor Emeritus, International Law, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University; in 2001 served on the three-person UN Commission on Human Rights for the Palestine Territories, and previously, on the Independent International Commission on Kosovo (Richard Falk) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Bessie Dutton Murray Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus and Director, Center for Human Rights, University of Iowa; Fellow, World Academy of Art and Science. Honorary Editor, Board of Editors, American Journal of International Law (Burns H. Weston) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Former president of the National Lawyers Guild (C. Peter Erlinder), who signed a petition calling for a real investigation into 9/11. And see petition.

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Troy University; associate General Counsel, National Association of Federal Agents; Retired Agent in Charge, Internal Affairs, U.S. Customs, responsible for the internal integrity and security for areas encompassing nine states and two foreign locations; former Federal Sky Marshall; 27-year U.S. Customs career (Mark Conrad) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Professor of Law, University of Freiburg; former Minister of Justice of West Germany (Horst Ehmke) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Director of Academic Programs, Institute for Policy and Economic Development, University of Texas, El Paso, specializing in executive branch secrecy policy, governmental abuse, and law and bureaucracy; former U.S. Army Signals Intelligence officer; author of several books on law and political theory (Dr. William G. Weaver) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Famed trial attorney (Gerry Spence) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Former Instructor of Criminal Trial Practice, Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley 11-year teaching career. Retired Chief Assistant Public Defender, Contra Costa County, California 31-year career (William Veale) said:

“When you grow up in the United States, there are some bedrock principles that require concerted effort to discard. One is the simplest: that our leaders are good and decent people whose efforts may occasionally warrant criticism but never because of malice or venality… But one grows up. … And with the lawyer’s training comes the reliance on evidence and the facts that persuade… After a lot of reading, thought, study, and commiseration, I have come to the conclusion that the attacks of 9/11 were, in their essence, an inside job perpetrated at the highest levels of the U S government.”

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

Current U.S. Senator (Patrick Leahy) states “The two questions that the congress will not ask . . . is why did 9/11 happen on George Bush’s watch when he had clear warnings that it was going to happen? Why did they allow it to happen?”

Current Republican Congressman (Ron Paul) states that “we see the [9/11] investigations that have been done so far as more or less cover-up and no real explanation of what went on”

Current Democratic Congressman (Dennis Kucinich) hints that we aren’t being told the truth about 9/11

Former Democratic Senator (Mike Gravel) states that he supports a new 9/11 investigation and that we don’t know the truth about 9/11

Former U.S. Republican Congressman and senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, and who served six years as the Chairman of the Military Research and Development Subcommittee (Curt Weldon) has shown that the U.S. tracked hijackers before 9/11, is open to hearing information about explosives in the Twin Towers, and is open to the possibility that 9/11 was an inside job

FAMILY MEMBERS AND HEROIC FIRST RESPONDERS

A common criticism of those who question 9/11 is that they are being “disrespectful to the victims and their families”.

However, half of the victim’s families believe that 9/11 was an inside job (according to the head of the largest 9/11 family group, Bill Doyle) (and listen to this interview). Many family and friends of victims not only support the search for 9/11 truth, but they demand it (please ignore the partisan tone). See also this interview.

Indeed, it has now become so clear that the 9/11 Commission was a whitewash that the same 9/11 widows who called for the creation of the 9/11 Commission are now demanding a NEW investigation (see also this video).

And dying heroes, soon-to-be victims themselves, the first responders who worked tirelessly to save lives on and after 9/11, say that controlled demolition brought down the Twin Towers and that a real investigation is necessary.

PSYCHIATRISTS AND PSYCHOLOGISTS

Finally, those who attack people who question the government’s version of 9/11 as “crazy” may wish to review the list of mental health professionals who have concluded that the official version of 9/11 is false:

Psychiatrist Carol S. Wolman, MD

Psychiatrist E. Martin Schotz

Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, as well as Radiology, at Duke University Medical Center D. Lawrence Burk, Jr., MD

Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean of the Graduate School at Ruters University Barry R. Komisaruk

Professor of Psychology at University of New Hampshire William Woodward

Professor of Psychology at University of Essex Philip Cozzolino

Professor of Psychology at Goddard College Catherine Lowther

Professor Emeritus of Psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies Ralph Metzner

Professor of Psychology at Rhodes University Mike Earl-Taylor

Retired Professor of Psychology at Oxford University Graham Harris

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Nebraska and licensed Psychologist Ronald Feintech

Ph.D. Clinical Neuropsychologist Richard Welser

THOUSANDS OF OTHERS

The roster above is only a sample. There are too many Ph.D. scientists and engineers, architects, military and intelligence officials, politicians, legal scholars and other highly-credible people who question 9/11 — literally thousands — to list in one place. Here are a few additional people to consider:

The former director of the FBI (Louis Freeh) says there was a cover up by the 9/11 Commission

Former air traffic controller, who knows the flight corridor which the two planes which hit the Twin Towers flew “like the back of my hand” and who handled two actual hijackings (Robin Hordon) says that 9/11 could not have occurred as the government says, and that planes can be tracked on radar even when their transponders are turned off (also, listen to this interview)

Former Deputy Secretary for Intelligence and Warning under Nixon, Ford, and Carter (Morton Goulder), former former Deputy Director to the White House Task Force on Terrorism (Edward L. Peck), and former US Department of State Foreign Service Officer (J. Michael Springmann), as well as a who’s who of liberals and independents) jointly call for a new investigation into 9/11

Former FBI agent (Robert Wright) says “The FBI, rather than trying to prevent a terrorist attack, was merely gathering intelligence so they would know who to arrest when a terrorist attack occurred.”

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said that some of the claims concerning government involvement in 9/11 are credible, that “very serious questions have been raised about what they [U.S. government officials] knew beforehand and how much involvement there might have been”, that engineering 9/11 would not be humanly or psychologically beyond the scope of the current administration, and that there’s enough evidence to justify a new, “hard-hitting” investigation into 9/11 with subpoenas and testimony taken under oath

Former FBI translator, who the Department of Justice’s Inspector General and several senators have called extremely credible (free subscription required) (Sibel Edmonds), said “If they were to do real investigations we would see several significant high level criminal prosecutions in this country. And that is something that they are not going to let out. And, believe me; they will do everything to cover this up”. She also is leaning towards the conclusion that 9/11 was an inside job

Given the unbelievable strength and depth of the roster of people who question 9/11, now who do you think the winning team is?

If you are a reporter, news editor or publisher, and you do not cover the strength of the team questioning 9/11, then you are part of the cover-up and no longer a part of a free, democratic press.

His Name Was Wellstone, we need Al Gore to replace him

November 2, 2007

by William Rivers Pitt 

“If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them.”
— Paul Wellstone

Five years ago, Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minnesota) died when his plane went down in the woods of northern Minnesota. The crash also took the lives of his wife Sheila, his daughter Marcia, campaign staffers Will McLaughlin, Tom Lapic and Mary McEvoy, along with pilots Michael Guess and Richard Conry.

This grim remembrance is a marker for the Democratic majority in Congress, a moment for unblinking self-assessment, a chance to compare and contrast the vast gulf between who Wellstone was in life and what his party has become since his death.

Wellstone’s political life was dominated by his efforts to improve economic and social conditions for millions of Americans. He began as a community organizer during the 1970’s, advocating on behalf of working families and the poor for better health care, affordable housing, better public education, day care and other essential programs and policies. Through these activities, he created a powerful network of activists, union members, farmers and other newly involved citizens.

The effectiveness of this network made the difference in his long-shot 1990 campaign for US Senate against Rudy Boschwitz, an entrenched incumbent with far greater financial resources. Over the next twelve years, Senator Wellstone served as a tireless advocate for environmental protections, labor rights, victims of domestic violence, veterans, campaign finance reform and sensible US foreign policy.

Wellstone’s Senate career began, and tragically ended, in remarkably similar fashion. His first months in office were defined by his opposition to President George H. W. Bush’s 1991 “Gulf War” against Iraq, and some twelve years later, his last weeks in office were defined by his vote against another Bush administration, and against another push for war in Iraq. On October 11, 2002, Wellstone was one of only twenty-three senators to cast a vote against the fateful Iraq War Resolution.

The week before, on October 3, Wellstone addressed the proposed attack upon and occupation of Iraq in a speech given from the floor of the Senate. “The United States could send tens of thousands of US troops to fight in Iraq,” he said, “and in so doing, we could risk countless lives of US soldiers and innocent Iraqis.”

“The United States could face soaring oil prices,” he said, “and could spend billions, both on a war and on a years-long effort to stabilize Iraq after an invasion.”

“Authorizing the pre-emptive, go-it-alone use of force now,” he said, “right in the midst of continuing efforts to enlist the world community to back a tough new disarmament resolution on Iraq, could be a costly mistake for our country.”

A week and a day later, the IWR passed in the Senate. Five days after that vote, it was signed into law by George W. Bush. Nine days after that signature, five years ago, Paul Wellstone was gone. His words from October 3, 2002, however, still remain. No other floor statement given by any senator before the IWR vote echoes with such prescience. Wellstone was right, and voted accordingly. He was a beacon in the darkness that has spread and spread until, five years later, this nation and the world entire have become almost completely cloaked in shadow.

After Wellstone’s death, his staff released a transcript of his last 2002 midterm election campaign commercial, which had been slated for airing just before the November vote. “I don’t represent the big oil companies,” said Wellstone in the ad; “I don’t represent the big pharmaceutical companies, I don’t represent the Enrons of this world. But you know what, they already have great representation in Washington. It’s the rest of the people that need it. I represent the people of Minnesota.” Little else needs to be said; his own words are more than enough.

What can be said, on the other hand, about the Senate he served so well? What about the Democrats who now enjoy majority control but flee the very thought of representing the will of the American people? They called Wellstone “The conscience of the Senate,” and that honorable title seems more true today than ever. Since that conscience died, the Democrats – time after time after time again – have performed unconscionable acts of cowardice, ambivalence and betrayal.

“Every now and then, we are tempted to double-check that the Democrats actually won control of Congress last year,” read a recent editorial from The New York Times. “It was bad enough having a one-party government when Republicans controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. But the Democrats took over, and still the one-party system continues.”

Indeed.

As reported by The New York Times on October 14, 2007: “The phone company Qwest Communications refused a proposal from the National Security Agency that the company’s lawyers considered illegal in February 2001, nearly seven months before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 … documents unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Denver, first reported in The Rocky Mountain News on Thursday, claim for the first time that pressure on the company to participate in activities it saw as improper came as early as February (2001), nearly seven months before the terrorist attacks.”

So.

The Bush administration was trying to spy on Americans back when 9-1-1 was only the telephone number for the police. Since the September 11 attacks, the administration has folded, spindled and mutilated the Constitution and Bill of Rights in a rampage of unchecked anti-American activities, ranging from illegal domestic surveillance, to legislative “signing statements” that gut the meaning from duly passed laws, to brazen defiance of legally served subpoenas, to wild-eyed arguments against gossamer FISA-court oversight of their cloak-and-dagger actions.

The tempo of this behavior appears poised to increase. A Washington Post article titled “To Implement Policy, Bush to Turn to Administrative Orders,” appropriately published on Halloween, reported that “White House aides say the only way Bush seems to be able to influence the process is by vetoing legislation or by issuing administrative orders, as he has in recent weeks on veterans’ health care, air-traffic congestion, protecting endangered fish and immigration. They say they expect Bush to issue more of such orders in the next several months, even as he speaks out on the need to limit spending and resist any tax increases.”

And yet this Democratic Senate majority, with a slim few notable exceptions, fully intends to immunize the telecom companies who aided in the illegal and warrantless surveillance of Americans by Bush’s big ears at NSA, thus derailing the last and best way to determine, via lawsuits and investigations, exactly how dirty the Bush administration is regarding this illegal spying program. The Democratic senators pushing hardest for telecom immunity also enjoy the financial largess of that very same industry.

And the Democrats may not stop there.

And that was just last week, the very week Paul Wellstone died five years before.

Some days after Wellstone’s death, his friend Tom Schraw penned an essay for The Oregonian titled “When Your Conscience Dies.” In it, he wrote, “When Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota died in a plane crash last week, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle described him as “the soul of the Senate.” United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan described him as “a profoundly decent man, a man of principle, a man of conscience.” Which leads to the question: What do you do when your soul dies, and your conscience goes away?”

What do you do?

According to the Democratic majority in Congress, what you do is nothing. You talk a good game and then wither away. You fold. You retreat. You whistle past the graveyard and cross your fingers. You betray the Constitution you swore to uphold. You betray the American people. You do not, under any circumstances, defy The President.

The conscience of the Senate died five years ago. His name was Paul Wellstone. His colleagues cannot have forgotten him so soon. Let them remember.

Let them act.

Researchers suggest Iraq war was centrally motivated from an Extraterrestrial inspired religion

November 2, 2007

by Peter Tremblay

  Nazis and UFOs
 

Historical allegations suggest Nazi Germany was able to develop, so relatively fast, because of support from self-described “Aryan” Extraterrestrials.
Graphic reference credit: UFOcasebook.com.

Scholarly testimony which includes historical research, suggests that the U.S. pre-emptive war against Iraq could be an attempt to re-start Adolf Hitler’s original agenda of eventual military expansion into the Middle East, toward World Conquest. Indeed, Adolf Hitler sought to build alliances with Arab interests, as the Bush administration has similarly sought to build alliances with rich Arab elites, toward sought Middle East power consolidation. Hitler’s Nazi programme specifically stipulated, “The Arabian Freedom Movement in the Middle East is our natural ally… In this connection special importance is attached to the liberation of Iraq.” LINK

It appears that Iraq and Iran are viewed by the human elites of this Extraterrestrial-oriented religious group, to be their ancient religious homeland (like for example, how Jews revere Israel), and that the current Muslim groups there, are little more than “squatters”.

Dr. Michael Salla also cites numerous reports of alien spacecraft in the Iraq and Iran areas as evidence that region is a “vast energy portal that was strategically chosen for this reason, as the home base for extraterrestrials”, during an ancient era. LINK

Apparently, the original “colonizing” of Iraq as the cradle of human civilization, (and of other ancient civilizations in the Middle East like Egypt) was done with the assistance of authoritarian-minded “Aryans”, as apparent inter-dimensional human looking “beings from the sky”. Aryans, were also apparently “beings from the sky” that in turn inspired Adolf Hitler’s racist ideology. Indeed, Dr. Salla further states that the pre-emptive war against Iraq, was inspired by religious reasons to “prepare for an impending series of events corresponding to the ‘prophesied return’ of an advanced race of Extraterrestrials. LINK

Dr. Michael Salla, in “An Exopolitical Perspective on the Preemptive War against Iraq”, that was published on February 3, 2003, documents, that, “The strongest available evidence for an historical ET presence in Iraq comes from cuneiform tablets directly recording the beliefs and activities of the ancient Sumerians whose civilization began almost overnight in 3800 BC.” Dr. Salla elaborates that “Most of these cuneiform tablets relate stories of the Sumerians, interacting with their ‘gods’.

Most archaeologists, initially accepted that these were merely myths and attached little importance to them other than giving insight into the mytho-religious beliefs of the ancient Sumerians. That viewpoint received a major challenge in 1976, when the Sumerian scholar, Zecharia Sitchin, published the first of a series of books on his translations of thousands of Sumerian tablets.

Sitchin’s translations of Sumerian cuneiform tablets revealed precise information on a range of topics that he argues could not have been possible for a civilization at the initial stages of its development with no obvious predecessor civilization to borrow from.

According to Sitchin, Dr. Salla further documents, the Sumerians had detailed knowledge of all the planets in the solar system, understood the precession of the equinoxes, and also had an understanding of complex medical procedures. As to where they could have gained this detailed knowledge, Sitchin’s translations suggest that the Sumerians provided a clear answer for its ultimate source. They revealed in their tablets that all their knowledge came from a race of extraterrestrial visitors.

A plan for a New World Order under demonic rule?

According to investigative scholars, the pre-emptive attack against Iraq was part of a timetable to fully establish a “New World Order” by no later than the year 2012, with the expected formal return of “Aryans” as “inspirers” of the New World Order timetable. Investigative scholars argue that, the false allegation of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, or even oil, was not the main reason for invading Iraq. If this is the case, no amount of persuasion will get the elite supporters of an apparent “cult religion” to back down from their eventual sought goal. According to Canada’s scholarly Centre for Research on Globalization, U.S. elites have already consolidated a military build-up in the Persian Gulf, toward a reportedly sought pre-emptive war against Iran, that would also reportedly use “tactical” nuclear weapons. In the apparent view of the prevailing U.S. elites, the prospects of global nuclear war, is a necessary step to reclaim their Extraterrestrial-inspired religious-political “homeland” centred on Iraq and Iran, as the prospective centre of a New World Order. U.S. Secretary of Sate Condoleeza Rice notably says “Iran is the single challenge facing U.S. foreign policy.” LINK.

U.S. elites appear determined to consolidate their power in Iraq, and to pursue conquest again Iran, irrespective of accounts from United Nations affiliated international inspectors, that there is no evidence that Iran is seeking to build a nuclear bomb. The widely circulated representation that Iran is supplying a network of military “insurgents” in Iraq appears to be another Nazi style deception strategy.

The Great Pyramids as a religious symbol of “Aryan” Extraterrestrial influenced ambitions for a New World Order

 

More http://www.agoracosmopolitan.com/home/Frontpage/2007/10/26/01917.htm

The Democrats who enable Bush

October 9, 2007

bush_bombardier.jpg

By HELEN THOMAS
HEARST NEWSPAPERS

WASHINGTON — President Bush has no better friends than the spineless Democratic congressional leadership and the party’s leading presidential candidates when it comes to his failing Iraq policy.

Those Democrats seem to have forgotten that the American people want U.S. troops out of Iraq, especially since Bush still cannot give a credible reason for attacking Iraq after nearly five years of war.

Last week at a debate in Hanover, N.H., the leading Democratic presidential candidates sang from the same songbook: Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York, and Barack Obama of Illinois and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards refused to promise to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by 2013, at the end of the first term of their hypothetical presidencies. Can you believe it?

When the question was put to Clinton, she reverted to her usual cautious equivocation, saying: “It is very difficult to know what we’re going to be inheriting.”

Obama dodged, too: “I think it would be irresponsible” to say what he would do as president.

Edwards, on whom hopes were riding to show some independence, replied to the question: “I cannot make that commitment.”

They have left the voters little choice with those answers.

Some supporters were outraged at the obfuscation by the Democratic front-runners.

On the other hand, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., are more definitive in their calls for quick troop withdrawals.

But Biden wants to break up Iraq into three provinces along religious and ethnic lines. In other words, Balkanize Iraq.

To have major Democratic backing to stay the course in Iraq added up to good news for Bush.

Now comes a surprising Clinton fan.

President Bush told Bill Sammon — Washington Examiner correspondent and author of a new book titled “The Evangelical President” — that Clinton will beat Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination because she is a “formidable candidate” and better known.

Sammon says Bush revealed that he has been sending messages to Clinton to urge her to “maintain some political wiggle room in your campaign rhetoric about Iraq.”

The author said Bush contends that whoever inherits the White House will be faced with a potential vacuum in Iraq and “will begin to understand the need to continue to support the young democracy.”

Bush ought to know about campaign rhetoric. Remember how he ridiculed “nation building” in the 2000 presidential campaign? Now he claims he is trying to spread democracy throughout the Middle East.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is another Democratic leader who has empowered Bush’s war.

Pelosi removed a provision from the most recent war-funding bill that would have required Bush to seek the permission of Congress before launching any attack on Iran. Her spokesman gave the lame excuse that she didn’t like the wording of the provision. More likely, she bowed to political pressure.

Is it any wonder the Democrats are faring lower than the president in a Washington Post ABC approval poll? Bush came in at 33 percent and Congress at 29 percent.

Members of Congress seem to have forgotten their constitutional prerogative to declare war; World War II was the last time Congress formally declared war.

Presidents have found other ways to make end runs around the law, mainly by obtaining congressional authorization “to do whatever is necessary” in a crisis involving use of the military. That’s the way we got into the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

So what are the leading Democratic White House hopefuls offering? It seems nothing but more war. So where do the voters go who are sick of the Iraqi debacle?

Helen Thomas is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. E-mail: helent@hearstdc.com. Copyright 2007 Hearst Newspapers. On Nov. 3 Thomas will be the guest speaker at the ACLU of Washington’s Bill of Rights Celebration Dinner; for details, contact aclu-wa.org.

Nuke transportation story has explosive implications

October 9, 2007

Special to the Star-Telegram

http://www.star-telegram.com/245/story/259201.html

Last month, six W80-1 nuclear-armed AGM-129 advanced cruise missiles were flown from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana and sat on the tarmac for 10 hours undetected.

Press reports initially cited the Air Force mistake of flying nuclear weapons over the United States in violation of Air Force standing orders and international treaties, while completely missing the more important major issues, such as how six nuclear cruise missiles got loose to begin with.

Opinion columns and editorials appeared in America’s newspapers, some blasting the Air Force for flying nukes over the U.S. and some defending the Air Force procedure. None of the news reports focused on the real questions of our nuclear security.

Let me be very clear here: We are not talking about paintball cartridges or pellet gun ammo. We are talking nuclear weapons.

There is a strict chain of custody for all such weapons. Nuclear weapons handling is spelled out in great detail in Air Force regulations, to the credit of that service. Every person who orders the movement of these weapons, handles them, breaks seals or moves any nuclear weapon must sign off for tracking purposes.

Two armed munitions specialists are required to work as a team with all nuclear weapons. All individuals working with nuclear weapons must meet very strict security standards and be tested for loyalty — this is known as a “Personnel Reliability Program.” They work in restricted areas within eyeshot of one another and are reviewed constantly.

All security forces assigned are authorized to use deadly force to protect the weapons from any threat. Nor does anyone quickly move a 1-ton cruise missile — or forget about six of them, as reported by some news outlets, especially cruise missiles loaded with high explosives.

The United States also does not transport nuclear weapons meant for elimination attached to their launch vehicles under the wings of a combat aircraft. The procedure is to separate the warhead from the missile, encase the warhead and transport it by military cargo aircraft to a repository — not an operational bomber base that just happens to be the staging area for Middle Eastern operations.

Yes, we still do fly nuclear warheads over the United States today. We also drive them over land as well. That’s not the point.

This is about how six nuclear advanced cruise missiles got out of their bunkers and onto a combat aircraft without notice of the wing commander, squadron commander, munitions maintenance squadron (MMS), the B-52H’s crew chief and command pilot and onto another Air Force base tarmac without notice of that air base’s chain of command — for 10 hours.

It is time that we got to the bottom of it through a comprehensive investigation.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has asked Larry Welch, a former Air Force chief of staff, to lead an independent inquiry into the implications of the incident. That is in addition to the existing Air Force investigation headed by Maj. Gen. Douglas Raaberg, director of air and space operations at Air Combat Command, which is responsible for all Air Force bombers and fighters.

The questions that must be answered:

1 Why, and for what ostensible purpose, were these nuclear weapons taken to Barksdale?

2 How long was it before the error was discovered?

3 How many mistakes and errors were made, and how many needed to be made, for this to happen?

4 How many and which security protocols were overlooked?

5 How many and which safety procedures were bypassed or ignored?

6 How many other nuclear command and control non-observations of procedure have there been?

7 What is Congress going to do to better oversee U.S. nuclear command and control?

8 How does this incident relate to concern for reliability of control over nuclear weapons and nuclear materials in Russia, Pakistan and elsewhere?

9 Does the Bush administration, as some news reports suggest, have plans to attack Iran with nuclear weapons?

10 If this was an accident, have we degraded our military to a point where we are now making critical mistakes with our nuclear arsenal? If so, how do we correct this?

Yes, heads must roll and careers will end. But let’s make sure that this includes the ranks from general officers to noncommissioned ones.

Or is this to be the Air Force version of the Abu Ghraib investigation?

Robert Stormer of Chicago is a retired lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserve, serving with the Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage, and was a specialist in weapons retrieval. He is a marine engineer and marine salvage specialist.

The southern axis of evil

October 6, 2007

324330.jpg

By Pepe Escobar

“Hitler” did New York and was received like, well, the new Adolf Hitler. Then he flew south and was received like a revolutionary hero. Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has seen the face of two radically different Americas. Call it a practical lesson in the new multipolar world order.

After the sparring at Columbia University and his speech at the United Nations, the Iranian president visited Bolivian President

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Evo Morales in La Paz and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Merida. Both countries are rich in natural resources, against the George W Bush administration’s hegemonic designs, and supportive of the Iranian civilian nuclear program. As such, they are configured as Iran’s key strategic allies in South America. From the point of view of the Islamic Republic, this is regarded as nothing short than a key geopolitical victory.

Ahmadinejad arrived in La Paz on a Venezuelan government plane. Iran and Bolivia swiftly established diplomatic relations and immediately agreed on a five-year, US$1 billion industrial cooperation plan, plus a $100 million plan to boost technology and trade. According to the Bolivians, the Iranians are very much interested in exploiting lithium and uranium in South America.

Then Ahmadinejad flew to Venezuela for a new flurry of bilateral agreements on joint projects in both countries. The rhetoric was epic. Ahmadinejad greeted Chavez as “one of the greatest anti-imperialist fighters”. Chavez answered in kind: “An imperial spokesman tried to disrespect you, calling you a cruel little tyrant. You responded with the greatness of a revolutionary. We felt like you were our representative.”

Ahmadinejad and Chavez have already met six times, in both Iran and Venezuela. Their economic and energy deals – on oil refineries, petrochemicals, the auto industry – amount to $17 billion, and counting. Iranian diplomats were ecstatic. Chavez’ tacit support for the “peaceful use of nuclear energy” is considered “very important” – a counterpunch to the heavy pressure of the US and the European Union. The overwhelming majority of Latin American governments – including President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil, who has very good relations with the Bush administration – regard Iran’s nuclear program as a totally legitimate path to generate electricity.

Naturally the Iran/Venezuela strategic partnership was widely denounced by the medieval Bolivian landowning oligarchy – which strictly follows White House cue cards and swears Iran is a terrorist state that wants a nuclear bomb. And there is nothing like “revolutionary nations” getting together to make the US industrial/military complex go nuts – with the usual ensuing apocalyptic rhetoric of an imminent communist-style “back yard” cross-border invasion.

This is especially so when someone like Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera regards Ahmadinejad’s visit as a “political project”. Morales’ and Linera’s MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo, the party in power) sees it as consolidating an anti-neo-liberal, anti-US-hegemony “alternative bloc”, even if Bolivia, Venezuela and Iran do not exactly share the same political ideology. What they do share is a lot of precious natural resources, between Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries members Iran and Venezuela, and Bolivia’s second-largest gas reserves in Latin America.

Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and eternal US nemesis Fidel Castro of Cuba also qualify for the “alternative bloc”. On Sunday, Correa, a US-trained socialist economist, captured a huge victory at the polls, with a new, truly representative batch of parliamentary members expected to follow the current corrupt, right-wing-controlled House and perform as a true constituent assembly.

The big picture
One does not need to be the invaluable Immanuel Wallerstein, professor emeritus at Yale and director of the Fernand Braudel Center in New York, to read the writing on the wall. Wallerstein argues that the Bush administration’s endless-war ethos has not only exposed all the limits of US bombs-and-bullets power but has also laid bare to the world US political impotence.

This is the real talk of the town in western Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa: US hegemony coming to an irreversible end, revealing, Wallerstein would say, “multiple poles of geopolitical power”. We are entering “a situation of structural crisis towards the construction of a new world system” – with no hegemonic power.

The multiple poles include the US, western Europe, Russia, China, Japan, India, South Africa, Iran, Brazil and the southern cone and, Wallerstein would add, “maybe South America as a regional bloc”.

South America already boasts a powerful regional economic bloc, Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay as full members; Venezuela to be ratified soon). Mercosur could eventually gobble up the Andean Pact nations as well (Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia). Internal tensions are rife – even if most are now under leftist/progressive governments. But every actor now knows the name of the game is to push toward true geopolitical autonomy.

On one side it’s possible to follow major steps toward regional integration – such as Brazil and Venezuela discussing the implementation of a gigantic southern gas pipeline. On the other side it’s possible to detect familiar seeds of discord – the US doing all it can to keep Colombia as a client state.

In a recent interview to Venezuelan/American lawyer and essayist Eva Golinger, US author Noam Chomsky very much put it all in perspective for those not familiar with the extraordinary egalitarian push now at work in South America:

For the first time since the Spanish invasion, the countries are beginning to face some of the internal problems in Latin America. One of the problems is just disintegration. The countries have very little relationship to one another. They typically were related to the outside imperial power, not to each other. You can even see it in the transportation systems.

But there is also internal disintegration, tremendous inequality, the worst in the world; small elites and huge [numbers of] massively impoverished people, and the elites were Europe-oriented or US-oriented later – that’s where their second homes were, that’s where their capital went to, that’s where their children went to school. They didn’t have anything to do with the population. The elites in Latin America had very little responsibility for the countries. And these two forms of disintegration are slowly being overcome.

So there is more, there is a pretty close correlation between wealth and whiteness all over the continent. It’s one of the reasons for the antagonism to Chavez, it’s because he doesn’t look white.

Now it’s conceded that there is a move to the left, but there are the good leftists and the bad leftists. The bad leftists are Chavez and Morales, maybe [Argentine President Nestor] Kirchner, maybe Correa in Ecuador – they haven’t decided yet, but those are the bad leftists. The good ones are Brazil, maybe Chile and so on. In order to maintain that picture, it’s been necessary to do some pretty careful control of historical facts. For example, when Lula the good leftist was re-elected, his first act was to go to Caracas, where he and Chavez built a joint bridge over the Orinoco … it wasn’t even reported here [in the US], because you can’t report things like that, it contradicts the party line – the good guys and the bad guys.

Well, it’s not about good guys and bad guys. Most of all it’s about the old, arrogant, corrupt, sub-imperialist order, and the desire for a more just, equitable, continentally integrated order. Iran has seen which way the wind is blowing – and it’s rather toward Caracas and La Paz than toward the bright lights, the big city.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007). He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.