Monthly Archives: June 2008

pentagon ready to go into pakistan

Amid Policy Disputes, Qaeda Grows in Pakistan
Mark Mazzetti, David Rohde, NYT, Jun 30, 2008

Late last year, top Bush administration officials decided to take a step they had long resisted. They drafted a secret plan to make it easer for the Pentagon’s Special Operations forces to launch missions into the snow-capped mountains of Pakistan to capture or kill top leaders of Al Qaeda. Intelligence reports for more than a year had been streaming in about Osama bin Laden’s terrorism network rebuilding in the Pakistani tribal areas, a problem that had been exacerbated by years of missteps in Washington and the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, sharp policy disagreements, and turf battles between American counterterrorism agencies. The new plan, outlined in a highly classified Pentagon order, was intended to eliminate some of those battles. And it was meant to pave a smoother path into the tribal areas for American commandos, who for years have bristled at what they see as Washington’s risk-averse attitude toward Special Operations missions inside Pakistan. They also argue that catching Mr. bin Laden will come only by capturing some of his senior lieutenants alive. But more than six months later, the Special Operations forces are still waiting for the green light. The plan has been held up in Washington by the very disagreements it was meant to eliminate. A senior Defense Department official said there was “mounting frustration” in the Pentagon at the continued delay.

[…]

But the fact that the order remains unsigned reflects the infighting that persists. Administration lawyers and State Department officials are concerned about any new authorities that would allow military missions to be launched without the approval of the American ambassador in Islamabad. With Qaeda operatives now described in intelligence reports as deeply entrenched in the tribal areas and immersed in the civilian population, there is also a view among some military and C.I.A. officials that the opportunity for decisive American action against the militants may have been lost. Pakistani military officials, meanwhile, express growing frustration with the American pressure, and point out that Pakistan has lost more than 1,000 members of its security forces in the tribal areas since 2001, nearly double the number of Americans killed in Afghanistan […] Leading terrorism experts have warned that it is only a matter of time before a major terrorist attack planned in the mountains of Pakistan is carried out on American soil. “The United States faces a threat from Al Qaeda today that is comparable to what it faced on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Seth Jones, a Pentagon consultant and a terrorism expert at the RAND Corporation. “The base of operations has moved only a short distance, roughly the difference from New York to Philadelphia.”

hurray, i always loathed netiva’s show

… to keep beloved radio programs on air
Greer Fay Cashman, JPost, Jun 29, 2008

[…] Broadcasters whose late night programs are in danger of disappearing or—at best—being rescheduled for daytime broadcasts, include Jo Jo Abutbul, Yoav Katz, Netiva Ben-Yehuda, Amnon Pe’er, Moshik Timor and Benny Dudkevitch. Ben-Yehuda has a faithful following which is willing to do almost anything to keep her on air. A writer and historian who fought in the Palmah in the War of Independence, Ben-Yehuda is a writer and historian who has produced dictionaries, poems and stories of her own and other people’s experiences before and in the immediate aftermath of the creation of the State. Ben-Yehuda had a strict rule that all the songs played on her program had to have been composed before the state of Israel was founded. Many young people became avid fans of her program and occasionally called in, and their voices have also been heard among the protests that have reached the IBA since it was announced that her program might be cancelled. Some of them are creating a Web site that will be based on songs that have been aired on the program.

lieberman lies about maliki

Lieberman: Al Qaeda, Iran would control Iraq under Obama plan
David Edwards, RawStory, June 29, 2008
(with embedded video from CBS’s Face the Nation, broadcast June 29, 2008, at the link – RB)

CBS’ Bob Schieffer talked with Sen. Joe Lieberman about the Iraq policies offered by Barack Obama and John McCain. Lieberman said that if Obama’s plan had been followed then Iran and Al Qaeda would now be in control of Iraq. Lieberman said, “If we had done what Senator Obama asked us to do, for the last couple of years, today Iran and Al Qaeda would be in control of Iraq.” Partial Transcript:

SCHIEFFER: If he’s ready to be president, do you believe Barack Obama is not ready.
LIEBERMAN: Let me put it affirmatively which is what I really mean. We rarely make a choice between perfect and terrible. John McCain is more ready to be president on foreign and domestic policy because of his extraordinary experience. It’s good experience. It’s experience where he’s had the guts to do what’s right for his country including in Iraq where he opposed the administration policy for a long time. The surge was implemented by president bush. It’s now working. Senator Obama unfortunately like a lot of the Democatic leadership continues to tyke a position that we ought to withdraw which to me is retreat. Accept defeat. Even though the new policy is working. I hope Barack Obama goes to Iraq and frankly I hope he changes his position because if we had done what Senator Obama asked us to do, for the last couple of years, today Iran and Al Qaeda would be in control of Iraq. It would be a terrible defeat for us and our allies in the middle east and throughout the world. Instead, we’ve got a country that’s defending itself, that’s growing economically. Where there’s been genuine political reconciliation and where Iran and Al Qaeda are on the run. That’s the way it ought to be.
SCHIEFFER: You’re saying if we had done a drawdown, as Senator Obama had suggested, that Iran would now be in control of Iraq?
LIEBERMAN: Yeah. Here’s what I mean. It’s the leadership of the Democatic party on this issue I respectfully but deeply disagree. Because they were saying a year ago, two years ago, Iraq was lost. They were saying, they were proposing amendments that would have ordered a withdrawal, a retreat of our forces to begin and end rather rapidly. If that had happened in Iraq today there wouldn’t be an Iraqi government. There would be chaos. There would probably be genocide, definitely civil war and the main beneficiaries of that would be Iran and Al Qaeda. Instead, Al Qaeda is on the run, on the verge of a terrible defeat or one of our most significant victories over them since 9/11. Maybe the most significant. Iran is being pushed back. Just a couple of weeks ago, prime minister maliki of Iraq went to Tehran and Ahmadinejad and the supreme leader Hamanai pleaded with Maliki, “don’t enter into a long-term strategic agreement with america.” he said, sorry, folks, I want to have good neighborly relations with you but the americans are our friends. We appreciate what they’ve done for us and we’re sticking with them.
SCHIEFFER
: Let’s say that John McCain is not elected and in fact Barack Obama is elected. He is talking about withdrawing over a period of a year-and-a-half. What would be the result of that in your view? is the country strong enough to be able to tolerate that now?
LIEBERMAN: Here’s my objection to the continued commitment of Senator Obama to order a withdrawAl according to a time schedule. It does not, as far as i’ve heard, depend on what’s happening on the ground. Things are really going well in Iraq today. But what if there’s a crisis of some kind? what if Iran takes some bold and aggressive action? What if there’s a terrible act taken against the leader of Iraq? do you want to continue to withdraw? As we withdraw, which we’re doing now, where Senator McCain has wanted us to do and because the surge is working we’re bringing our troops out. I think general Petraeus is going to announce this summer that we can continue to bring our troops out with victory, with honor and success. But if you just say, as Senator Obama continues the say, no matter what’s happening, i’m taking the troops out, that’s an invitation to real trouble. Churchill once said to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and to accepteding a very uncertain signal to our allies, arab and israeli in the middle east and frankly to our allies all around the world who want us to be strong. They depend on it. John McCain knows that. That’s why they have such confidence in Senator McCain’s leadership.
SCHIEFFER: Charlie black who is the main advisor running the campaign said last week that a terrorist attack on this country would actually help John McCain. A lot of people were kind of… Took a deep breath on that one.
LIEBERMAN: Well, I did too. So did John McCain. You know, charlie is a real pro. Sometimes even the best of them say things that are not what they intended to say. Certainly the implications there I know were not what charlie intended. He apologized for it. Senator McCain said he didn’t agree. Of course I feel the same way. But here’s the point. We’re in a war against islamist extremists who attacked us on 9/11. They’ve been trying to attack us in many many ways since then. We’ve been very fortunate as a result of 9/11 reform legislation which Senator McCain championed, a lot of good work by people who work for our country that that hasn’t happened. But we need a president who is ready to be commander in chief on day one. Senator McCain, incidentally Senator clinton said that over and over again. She’s right. She was ready to be president on day one. Why? because our enemies will test the new president early. Remember that the truck bombing of the world trade center happened in the first year of the clinton administration. 9/11 happened in the first year of the bush administration. John McCain is ready to take the reins on January 20, 2009. He doesn’t need any training.

zionist charm school

Israelis Assault Award-Winning Journalist
Mel Frykberg, IPS via AntiWar.com, June 30, 2008

GAZA CITY – Mohammed Omer, Gaza correspondent for Inter Press Service (IPS) and joint winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, was strip-searched at gunpoint, assaulted and abused by Israeli security officials at the Allenby border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank on Thursday as he tried to return home to Gaza. Omer, a resident of Rafah in the south of Gaza and recipient of the New America Media’s Best Youth Voice award several years ago, was returning from London, where he had just collected his Gellhorn Prize, and several European capitals where he had speaking engagements, including a meeting with Greek parliamentarians. Omer’s trip was sponsored by the Washington Report, and the Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv was responsible for coordinating with Israeli officials on Omer’s travel plans and his security permit to leave Gaza. Israel controls the borders of Gaza and severely restricts the entrance and exit of Gazans, allegedly on grounds of security. Human rights organizations accuse the Israelis of using security as a pretext to apply collective punishment indiscriminately.

While waiting in Amman on his way back, Omer eventually received the requisite coordination and security clearance from the Israelis to return to Gaza after this had initially been delayed by several days, he told IPS. Accompanied by Dutch diplomats, Omer passed through the Jordanian side of the border without incident. However, after arrival on the Israeli side, trouble began. He informed a female soldier that he was returning home to Gaza. He was repeatedly asked where Gaza was and told that he had neither a permit nor any coordination to cross. Omer explained that he did indeed have permission and coordination but was nevertheless taken to a room by Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, Shin Bet, where he was isolated for an hour and a half without explanation. Omer said

Eventually I was asked whether I had a knife or gun on me, even though I had already passed through the X-ray machine, had my luggage searched, and was in the company of Dutch diplomats.

His luggage was again searched, and security then proceeded to go through every document and paper he had on him, taking down the names and numbers of the European parliamentary officials he had met. The Shin Bet officials then started to make fun of the European parliamentarians and mocked Omer for being “the prize-winning journalist.” The Gazan journalist was repeatedly asked why he was returning to “the hell of Gaza after we allowed you to leave.” To this he responded that he wanted to be a voice for the voiceless. He was told he was a “troublemaker.” The security men also demanded he show all the money he had on him, and particular attention was paid to the British pounds he was carrying. His Gellhorn Prize money had been awarded in British pounds, but he was not carrying the entire sum on his person, something the investigators refused to believe.

After being unable to produce the prize money, he was ordered to strip naked. “At first I refused, but then I had an M-16 pointed in my face and my clothes were forcibly removed, even my underwear,” Omer said. At this point Omer broke down and pleaded for an end to such treatment. He said he was told “you haven’t seen anything yet.” Every cavity of his body was searched as one of the investigators pinned him down on the floor, placing his boot on Omer’s neck. Omer began vomiting, then fainted. When he came to, his eyelids were being forcibly opened and his eardrums probed by an Israeli military doctor, who was also armed. He was then dragged along the floor by his feet by the Shin Bet officials, with his head repeatedly banging on the floor, to a Palestinian ambulance which had been called. “I eventually woke up in a Palestinian hospital with the doctors trying to reassure me,” Omer told IPS.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry at the Hague told IPS that Foreign Minister Maxime Zerhagen spoke to the Israeli ambassador to The Netherlands and demanded an explanation. The Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv has also raised the issue with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which in turn has promised to investigate the incident and get back to the Dutch officials. Ahmed Dadou, spokesman for the Dutch Foreign Ministry at the Hague, told IPS,

We are taking this whole incident very seriously, as we don’t believe the behavior of the Israeli officials is in accordance with a modern democracy. We are further concerned about the mistreatment of an internationally renowned journalist trying to go about his daily business.

A spokeswoman at the Israeli Foreign Press Association said she was unaware of the incident. Lisa Dvir from the Israeli Airport Authority (IAA), the body responsible for controlling Israel’s borders, told IPS that the IAA was neither aware of Omer’s journalist credentials nor of his coordination.

We would like to know who Omer spoke to in regard to receiving coordination to pass through Allenby. We offer journalists a special service when passing through our border crossings, and had we known about his arrival this would not have happened. I’m not aware of the events that followed his detention, and we are not responsible for the behavior of the Shin Bet.

In the meantime, Omer is still traumatized and in pain. “I’m struggling to breathe and have pain in my head and stomach, and will be going back to hospital for further medical examinations,” he said.

enquiry into the jun 10 pakistan air raid

Laser bombs dropped in Mohmand attack
Qudssia Akhlaque, Pakistan Daily News, Jun 29, 2008

ISLAMABAD: The US-led coalition forces based in Afghanistan dropped laser-guided bombs inside Pakistan territory in the course of the June 10 air strike in the Mohmand Agency where American F-15 fighter jets conducted three sorties, defence sources revealed in background interviews. The June 10 air strike on a Pakistani security check post at Gora Prai in the Mohmand Agency resulted in the killing of 11 Pakistani soldiers, including one officer, and around a dozen civilians. The impact of repeated aerial attacks by the US-led Nato-ISAF forces was so severe that seven of the nine bunkers at the Gora Prai check post were destroyed, military sources say, adding that coordinates of the Pakistan military post were available with the coalition forces. The joint investigation into the deadly attack is currently underway at the US airbase in Bagram, the main base of the US-led coalition troops and the Nato-Isaf forces in Afghanistan. A Pakistani team headed by Director Military Operations reached Bagram on Tuesday for the probe after both sides agreed on the terms of reference and mechanism for the joint investigation. The team comprises senior officials and experts from the GHQ.

The commander of the US Central Command directed the conduct of an investigation into this incident last week and offered the Pakistan Army to participate in this probe after a strong protest was lodged by Islamabad at the top diplomatic, military and political level. The probe is being conducted under the Tripartite Commission mechanism with senior military representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Coalition forces in Afghanistan and the Nato-ISAF. A joint report of the two teams, which is based on a visit to the site of the incident, transcripts of wireless communication between security forces and a video footage of the incident by coalition forces in Afghanistan, is said to be nearing completion. However, it is not clear whether the contents of the report will be made public. When the military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas was asked about it, he said it would essentially be a political decision. On the other hand, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior Rahman Malik told the National Assembly last week that the findings of the joint probe would be shared with the house. On Thursday, when the Foreign Office spokesman was asked at a weekly news briefing if the findings of the joint investigation into the Mohmand Agency attack will be binding on both sides, his response was: “The findings of the joint investigation team will be implemented.”

Pakistan and US military officials maintain divergent positions on the June 10 strike. Pakistan says it was an “unprovoked attack” but the US side insists it was “legitimate” and it acted in “self-defence” after the coalition forces were ambushed by the militants, who fled towards Pakistan side. Pakistan, however, contests this claim, pointing to the scale of the air power deployed by the coalition forces, which caused heavy casualties on the Pakistan side. Also, military sources strongly reject the notion that it was in any way a retaliatory attack or an accident. Meanwhile, alarming signals from Washington are that this may be the beginning of more deadly air strikes by the US-led coalition forces in Pakistan’s troubled tribal zone to prevent militant incursions into Afghanistan. Reportedly, senior US military officials in Pentagon hinted last week that the June 10 strike was not a knee-jerk reaction but a planned operation, which may be repeated whenever militants attempt to cross over to Afghanistan.

ritter on albright

The Nuclear Expert Who Never Was (extracts)
Scott Ritter, TruthDig, Jun 26, 2008

[…] David Albright is the president of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS, an institute which he himself founded), and has for some time now dominated the news as the “go-to” guy for the U.S. mainstream media when they need “expert opinion” on news pertaining to nuclear issues. Most recently, Albright could be seen commenting on a report he authored, released by ISIS on June 16, in which he discusses the alleged existence of a computer owned by Swiss-based businessmen who were involved in the A.Q. Khan nuclear black market ring. According to Albright, this computer contained sensitive design drawings of a small, sophisticated nuclear warhead which, he speculates, could fit on a missile delivery system such as that possessed by Iran.

[…] David Albright has a track record of making half-baked analyses derived from questionable sources seem mainstream. He breathes false legitimacy into these factually challenged stories by cloaking himself in a résumé which is disingenuous in the extreme. Eventually, one must begin to question the motives of Albright and ISIS. No self-respecting think tank would allow itself to be used in such an egregious manner. The fact that ISIS is a creation of Albright himself, and as such operates as a mirror image of its founder and president, only underscores the concerns raised when an individual lacking in any demonstrable foundation of expertise has installed himself into the mainstream media in a manner that corrupts the public discourse and debate by propagating factually incorrect, illogical and misleading information.

In his résumé Albright prominently advertises himself as a “former U.N. weapons inspector.” Indeed, this is the first thing that is mentioned when he describes himself to the public. Witness an Op-Ed piece in The Washington Post which he jointly authored with Jacqueline Shire in January 2008, wherein he is described as such: “David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector, is president of the Institute for Science and International Security.” His erstwhile U.N. credentials appear before his actual job title. Now, this is not uncommon. I do the same thing when describing myself, noting that I was a former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998. I feel comfortable doing this, because it’s true and because my résumé is relevant to my writing. In his official ISIS biography, Albright details his “U.N. inspector” experience as such: “Albright cooperated actively with the IAEA Action Team from 1992 until 1997, focusing on analyses of Iraqi documents and past procurement activities. In June 1996, he was the first non-governmental inspector of the Iraqi nuclear program. On this inspection mission, Albright questioned members of Iraq’s former uranium enrichment programs about their statements in Iraq’s draft Full, Final, and Complete Declaration.”

[…] In 1992, when Albright states he began his “active cooperation” with the IAEA, he was serving as a “Senior Staff Scientist” with the Federation of American Scientists. That same year Albright, in collaboration with Frans Berkhout of Sussex University and William Walker of the University of St. Andrews, published “World Inventory of Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium,” 1992 (SIPRI and Oxford University Press). From March 1991 until July 1992, Albright, together with Mark Hibbs, wrote a series of seven articles on the Iraqi nuclear weapons programs for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The final three articles of this series, entitled “Iraq’s Bomb: Blueprints and Artifacts,” “Iraq: It’s all over at Al Atheer” and “Iraq’s shop-till-you-drop nuclear program,” were in part based upon information provided to Albright and Hibbs by the IAEA in response to questions posed by the two authors. So far as I can tell, this is the true nature of David Albright’s “active cooperation.” Far from being a subject-matter expert brought in by the IAEA to review Iraqi documents, Albright was simply an outsider with questions.

In the November/December 1995 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Albright wrote an article, co-authored with Robert Kelley, titled “Has Iraq come clean at last?” I know Bob Kelley. In August 1992, it was Kelley, then deputy to Action Team leader Maurizio Zifferero, who helped me and other UNSCOM inspectors gain access to the Iraqi documents under IAEA control. Kelley was, and is, a great safeguards inspector, and among his many accomplishments is his leading role in directing the IAEA’s investigation into South Africa’s unilaterally dismantled nuclear weapons program in the mid-1990s. Bob Kelley had served as David Albright’s “in” at the IAEA since 1992, when he started providing Albright with access to some of the IAEA’s information on Iraq’s nuclear program. The decision to jointly author an article on Iraq was a big step toward legitimizing what had been, up until that time, an informal relationship.

The joint article with Kelley gave Albright a legitimacy within the IAEA, to the extent that there were no objections when Kelley recommended inviting Albright to participate in a surge of inspections. It was during the aftermath of the defection of Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamal, in August 1995, and the subsequent turning over of a massive quantity of previously hidden documents, including those pertaining to nuclear issues. These activities served as the framework around which Albright and Kelley wrote their article. The June 1996 inspection Albright participated in was his one and only foray into Iraq as a weapons inspector. He was not a chief inspector, nor a deputy chief inspector, nor an operations officer. He was a minor member of the team, Bob Kelley’s bag boy, who for the most part was there to observe. In a round-table discussion with Iraqi nuclear scientists, attended by all of the inspectors, Albright was able to ask a few questions, not from the standpoint of an IAEA expert, but more as an informed tourist.

[…] Not only did he lack any experience in the nuclear weapons field (being an outsider with only secondhand insight into limited aspects of the Iraqi program), he had no credibility with the Iraqi nuclear scientists, and his questions, void of any connectivity with the considerable record of interaction between the IAEA and Iraq, were not taken seriously by either side. Albright left Iraq in June 1996, and was never again invited back. This is the reality of the relationship between Albright and the IAEA, and the singular event in his life which he uses as the justification for prominently promoting himself as a “former U.N. inspector.” While not outright fraud, Albright’s self-promoted relationship with the IAEA, and his status as a “former U.N. inspector,” is at best disingenuous, all the more so since he exploits this misleading biographical data in his ongoing effort to insert himself into the public eye as a nuclear weapons expert, a title not supported by anything in his life experience.

I can’t say for certain when Albright became “Doctor” Albright. A self-described “physicist,” he allows the term to linger, as he does the title “former U.N. inspector,” in order to create the impression that he possesses a certain gravitas. David Albright holds a master of science degree in physics from Indiana University and a master of science in mathematics from Wright State University. I imagine that this résumé permits him to assign himself the title physicist, but not in the Robert Oppenheimer/Edward Teller sense of the word. Whatever physics work Albright may or may not have done in his life, one thing is certain: He has never worked as a nuclear physicist on any program dedicated to the design and/or manufacture of nuclear weapons. He has never designed nuclear weapons and never conducted mathematical calculations in support of testing nuclear weapons, nor has he ever worked in a facility or with an organization dedicated to either.

At best, Albright is an observer of things nuclear. But to associate his sub-par physics pedigree with genuine nuclear weapons-related work is, like his self-promotion as a “former U.N. weapons inspector,” disingenuous in the extreme. His lack of any advanced educational training as a nuclear physicist, combined with his dearth of practical experience with things nuclear, is further exacerbated by his astounding assumption of the title Doctor. In 2007 Albright received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Wright State University. This honorary award is a recognition that should never be belittled, but it in no way elevates Albright to the status of one who has undergone the formal educational training and has actually earned a doctorate, especially in the demanding field of nuclear physics. While I cannot find any evidence of Albright promoting his honorary title in a manner that indicates direct fraud on his part (i.e., falsely claiming to be a Ph.D. in physics), there are far too many instances where he is referred to by those who interview him as being both “Dr. Albright” and a “physicist” that the uninformed reader might be misled into believing that the two were somehow connected.

[…] There is a reason mainstream media do not turn to bloggers when seeking out expert opinion. And yet, when they turn to “Dr. Albright, former U.N. weapons inspector,” they are getting little more than a well-funded, well-connected blogger. If one takes a closer look at the ISIS Report published by Albright on June 16 and widely quoted in the press since then, one will realize that there simply isn’t any substance to the allegations. Albright’s sole source seems to be a single, unnamed IAEA official, bringing to mind Bob Kelley and his role in facilitating Albright’s “access” to the IAEA in the 1990s. The remainder of the report comprises information already available to the general public, or sheer speculation.

This is, of course, the problem when someone who is not an expert on a given subject attempts to portray himself as just that. Lacking in the foundation of knowledge and experience which generally is expected of a genuine expert, the false “expert” commits error after error, not only of the factual sort but also in judgment. Had Albright in fact been a true nuclear expert, especially one fortified with firsthand experience as a former U.N. weapons inspector, he would not have had any association with Khidir Hamza, the disgraced Iraqi defector who claimed to have firsthand knowledge of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program. A true nuclear expert would have recognized the technical impossibilities and inconsistencies in Hamza’s fabrications. And a genuine former U.N. weapons inspector would have known that Hamza had been fingered as a fraud by the IAEA and UNSCOM. David Albright instead employed Hamza as an analyst with ISIS from 1997 until 1999.

Albright likewise facilitated the story of former Iraqi nuclear scientist Mahdi Obeidi being told to the world. As a “former U.N. weapons inspector,” Albright had a passing knowledge of Obeidi; the Iraqi was among the scientists that the IAEA team Albright served on questioned in June 1996 (Albright himself claims to have personally questioned Obeidi). Albright helped sell Obeidi’s story about buried uranium centrifuge parts to the media, even though a true nuclear expert would have known that what Obeidi claims to have hidden possessed absolutely no value in the field of nuclear enrichment, and any former U.N. weapons inspector worth his or her salt would have recognized the inconsistencies and improbabilities in the Obeidi story.

David Albright has a history of being used by those who seek to gain media attention for their respective claims. In addition to the Hamza and Obeidi fiascos, Albright and his organization, ISIS, have served as the conduit for other agencies gaining publicity about the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program, the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor, and most recently the alleged Swiss computer containing sensitive nuclear design information. On each occasion, Albright is fed sensitive information from a third party, and then packages it in a manner that is consumable by the media. The media, engrossed with Albright’s misleading résumé (“former U.N. weapons inspector,” “Doctor,” “physicist” and “nuclear expert”), give Albright a full hearing, during which time the particulars the third-party source wanted made public are broadcast or printed for all the world to see. More often than not, it turns out that the core of the story pushed by Albright is, in fact, wrong.

While Iran did indeed possess uranium enrichment capability at Natanz and a heavy water plant (under construction) at Arak (as reported by Albright thanks to information provided by the Iranian opposition group MEK, most probably with the help of Israeli intelligence), Albright’s wild speculation about weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium proved to be wrong. There was indeed a building in Syria that was bombed by Israel. But Albright’s expert opinion, derived from his interpretation of photographs, consists of nothing more than simplistic observation (“The tall building in the image may house a reactor under construction and the pump station along the river may have been intended to supply cooling water to the reactor”) combined with unfocused questions that assumed much, but were in fact based on little (“How far along was the reactor construction project when it was bombed? What was the extent of nuclear assistance from North Korea? Which reactor components did Syria obtain from North Korea or elsewhere, and where are they now?”). And, most recently, we have Albright commenting about the contents of a computer he hasn’t even laid eyes on, though he feels confident enough to raise the specter of global nuclear catastrophe (“How will authorities learn if Iran, North Korea, or even terrorists bought these designs?” Albright asks when referring to the contents of the Swiss computer).

Nowhere in his résumé does Albright cite any formal training as a photographic interpreter; in any case, one would have to have an intimate knowledge of nuclear facilities in order to know what one was looking at when examining an aerial image. A genuine nuclear weapons expert would have been able to discern the technical faults in the logic of the stories being peddled by Albright. And a genuine former U.N. weapons inspector, well versed in preparing airtight investigations based upon verified intelligence information, would have balked at the shabby nature of the evidence provided. Again, because Albright is neither, he and ISIS play the role of patsy, the middleman peddling misinformation to a media too lazy to conduct their own due diligence before running with a story.

Albright, operating under the guise of his creation, ISIS, has a track record of inserting hype and speculation about matters of great sensitivity in a manner which skews the debate toward the worst-case scenario. Over time Albright often moderates his position, but the original sensationalism still remains, serving the purpose of imprinting a negative image in the psyche of public opinion. This must stop. It is high time the mainstream media began dealing with David Albright for what he is (a third-rate reporter and analyst), and what he isn’t (a former U.N. weapons inspector, doctor, nuclear physicist or nuclear expert). It is time for David Albright, the accidental inspector, to exit stage right. Issues pertaining to nuclear weapons and their potential proliferation are simply too serious to be handled by amateurs and dilettantes.

pepe escobar on obama’s national security team

Part One

Part Two

lieberman must go!

heinonen: await soil sample results

UN inspector: Syria probe ‘inconclusive’
AP via JPost, Jun 26 2008

Syria’s vice president said Wednesday his country allowed UN nuclear inspectors to visit a site in the remote eastern desert destroyed by IAF jets last year to prove that US allegations of a covert Syrian nuclear program were false. Farouk al-Sharaa said however that the IAEA inspectors would not be allowed to probe beyond the Al Kibar site, despite a UN request to visit three other suspect locations. His comments in an interview with the Hizbullah-owned Al Manar TV station were the first from Syria on the four-day visit by the IAEA team, which ended Wednesday.

A senior UN atomic inspector told reporters Wednesday upon his return to Vienna, Austria, the site of IAEA headquarters, that his team’s initial probe of US allegations was inconclusive and required further checks. Olli Heinonen, a deputy director general of the agency said he was satisfied with what was achieved on his three-day trip but “there is still work that needs to be done” in following up on the claims that Syria was hiding elements of a potential nuclear arms program. He met in the Syrian capital with officials in charge of the nation’s nuclear program and senior generals to discuss Syrian claims that the building flattened by the IAF was a non-nuclear military facility.

With Syrian authorities imposing a virtual news blackout on his trip, few details of the visit had surfaced beyond the fact that Syrian authorities had allowed the three-man inspecting team to visit the Al Kibar site targeted in September. “They (inspectors) have rights to visit only the concerned site,” al-Sharaa said in the interview Wednesday. He said Syria agreed to the inspection “to prove that their (US) allegations are false and untrue.” He suggested, however, that even confidence in Syria’s innocence may not be enough to head off a prolonged inspection process because of “the experience of other countries.” He was apparently referring to the UN agency’s protracted probe during former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s rule, which did not turn up any evidence of Iraq having had weapons of mass destruction as the US alleged.

Al-Sharaa said Syria wants the Middle East to be a nuclear-free region on condition that Israel also be subjected to monitoring and international inspections. He said Syria would employ certain “political and diplomatic” methods at the UN Security Council and with the IAEA in case the agency insists on a prolonged nuclear probe and visiting more sites. He did not elaborate or say what they were. Damascus strongly denies US allegations that it is involved in any nuclear activities and fears the accusations could be used by Washington to rally international pressure against it.

The IAEA visit is billed as a fact-finding mission, but if inspectors uncover evidence of a nascent nuclear program, it could mark the start of a massive investigation similar to the agency’s five-year probe into Iran’s activities. It could also draw in countries such as North Korea, which Washington claims helped Damascus and Iran. The IAEA has little formal inspection rights in Syria, which has declared only a rudimentary nuclear program using a small 27-kilowatt reactor for research and the production of isotopes for medical and agricultural uses.

Heinonen declined to tip his cards on what he and his team had been able to see and do beyond acknowledging that they were able to take environmental samples in the area designed to capture traces of material that were likely spread over a large area by Israeli ordinance. “We achieved what we wanted on this first trip,” he said. “We continue our discussions, we took the samples we need to take and now it’s time to analyze them and also look at the information we got from Syria. We will see in the days and weeks what will happen next.”

let’s declare war while no one is looking

Iran War Resolution May Be Passed Next Week
Eric Garris, AntiWar.com Blog, June 23, 2008

Introduced less than a month ago, Resolution 362, also known as the Iran War Resolution, could be passed by the House as early as next week. The bill is the chief legislative priority of AIPAC. On its Web site, AIPAC endorses the resolutions as a way to ”Stop Iran’s Nuclear Program” and tells readers to lobby Congress to pass the bill. In the Senate, a sister resolution, Resolution 580, has gained co-sponsors with similar speed. The Senate measure was introduced by Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh on June 2. It has since gained 19 co-sponsors. The bill’s key section

demands that the president initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, inter alia, prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran’s nuclear program.

“Imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran” can be read to mean that the president should initiate a naval blockade of Iran. A unilateral naval blockade without UN sanction is an act of war.

Resolution 362 has already gained 170 co-sponsors, or nearly 40 percent of the House. It has been referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee, which has 49 members, 24 of whom, including the ranking Republican, are co-sponsors. The Iran Nuclear Watch Web site writes,

According to the House leadership, this resolution is going to ‘pass like a hot knife through butter’ before the end of June on what is called suspension – meaning no amendments can be introduced during the 20-minute maximum debate. It also means it is assumed the bill will pass by a 2/3 majority and is non-controversial.

Our national legislators deem it non-controversial to recommend to a president known for his recklessness and bad judgment that he consider engaging in an act of war against Iran. Those of you who consider this issue controversial can go to the Just Foreign Policy Web site and tell your representative to oppose this resolution. Thanks to Geoffrey V. Gray for this submission.