Vice President Dick Cheney, lashing out at Democrats for the first time since the felony conviction of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, his former top deputy, resumed his controversial claims Monday that the war in Iraq is the central front in the worldwide U.S. response to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Cheney linked Iraq and al Qaeda even though post-invasion reports by the Senate Intelligence Committee and the presidential Commission on Intelligence Capabilities found no link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda before the U.S.-led invasion on March 19, 2003.
In remarks to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, Cheney contended that U.S. Marines face al Qaeda operatives in Anbar province, that the U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown has unmasked al Qaeda car bomb operations in Baghdad and that Osama bin Laden has promised to make Baghdad the capital of a radical Islamic empire reaching from Indonesia to Spain.
“As we get farther away from 9/11, I believe there is a temptation to forget the urgency of the task that came to us that day, and the comprehensive approach that’s required to protect this country against an enemy that moves and acts on multiple fronts,” Cheney told the annual conference of the pro-Israel group, which interrupted his speech at least 27 times with applause.
“I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts,” Gen Pace told the Chicago Tribune. “As an individual, I would not want [acceptance of gay behaviour] to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else’s wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behaviour,” he said.
Marine General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he backed the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding homosexuality. The policy bans homosexual acts between members of the military.
A gay rights group called the comments “a slap in the face to gay men and women serving with honour and bravery”.
Joe Solomonese, president of Human Rights Campaign, said: “What is immoral is to weaken our national security because of personal prejudices.”
The Iraqi defector known as Curveball, whose fabricated stories of “mobile biological weapons labs” helped lead the U.S. to war four years ago, is still being protected by the German intelligence service, an ABC News investigation has found.
Intelligence sources, who provided ABCNews.com with the first known photo of the man, say he has been resettled in a small town near the Munich headquarters of the German service, which has continued to honor its original commitment made when he fled Iraq in 1999.
Curveball’s false tales became the centerpiece of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech before the United Nations in February 2003, even though he was considered an “unstable, immature and unreliable” source by some senior officials at the CIA.
The Chairman of the House’s Oversight and Government Reform Committee today demanded that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice respond to 11 outstanding requests for information sent by his office since 2003. The letters primarily concerned claims, later proved erroneous, on the threat posed to the United States by Saddam Hussein’s government in the run up to the Iraq War.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) warned Dr. Rice that a failure to respond to his committee’s inquiries would undermine Constitutional governance.
“Refusing to allow officials to testify before Congress…or ignoring congressional requests for information, as you apparently ignored my inquiries, are not consistent with our constitutional system of government,” said the Committee’s Chairman in a letter released today.
Meet BLACKWATER USA, the world’s most secretive and powerful mercenary firm. Based in the wilderness of North Carolina, it is the fastest-growing private army on the planet with forces capable of carrying out regime change throughout the world. Blackwater protects the top US officials in Iraq and yet we know almost nothing about the firm’s quasi-military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and inside the US. Blackwater was founded by an extreme right-wing fundamentalist Christian mega-millionaire ex- Navy Seal named Erik Prince, the scion of a wealthy conservative family that bankrolls far-right-wing causes.
A former Iranian deputy defense minister who once commanded the Revolutionary Guard has left his country and is cooperating with Western intelligence agencies, providing information on Hezbollah and Iran’s ties to the organization, according to a senior U.S. official.
Ali Rez Asgari disappeared last month during a visit to Turkey. Iranian officials suggested yesterday that he may have been kidnapped by Israel or the United States. The U.S. official said Asgari is willingly cooperating. He did not divulge Asgari’s whereabouts or specify who is questioning him, but made clear that the information Asgari is offering is fully available to U.S. intelligence.
Asgari served in the Iranian government until early 2005 under then-President Mohammad Khatami. Asgari’s background suggests that he would have deep knowledge of Iran’s national security infrastructure, conventional weapons arsenal and ties to Hezbollah in south Lebanon. Iranian officials said he was not involved in the country’s nuclear program, and the senior U.S. official said Asgari is not being questioned about it. Former officers with Israel’s Mossad spy agency said yesterday that Asgari had been instrumental in the founding of Hezbollah in the 1980s, around the time of the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut.
WASHINGTON â€” House Democratic leaders vowed Thursday to pass legislation setting a deadline of Sept. 1, 2008, for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq, a challenge to President Bush’s war policy that drew a blunt veto threat in return.
“It would unnecessarily handcuff our generals on the ground, and it’s safe to say it’s a nonstarter for the president,” said White House spokesman Dan Bartlett.
Little more than two months after Democrats took control of the House and Senate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said the bill would set “dates certain for the first time in the Congress for the redeployment of our troops out of Iraq.”
Government scientists and military contractors have proposed all kinds of tricks to protect passenger planes from shoulder-fired missiles since 2002, when an Israeli 757 was attacked in Kenya. Laser dazzlers, microwave blasters, even chemical-powered ray guns have all made the list. According to the DD story (sorry folks, subscription only), Homeland Security’s plan involves placing a drone is a perpetual orbit over airports. It’s part of a broader science and technology effort called “Project Chloe.”
Under Chloe, the UAS [unammned aerial system] would loiter for a day at around 65,000 feet above an airport. At that altitude an unmanned aircraft would be above the National Airspace and not conflict with routine aircraft traffic managed by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The system would be equipped with a missile warning system and a DIRCM ["Directional InfraRed Counter-Measures," which use missile-confusing laser beams] to detect and defeat shoulder-fired missile threats, Cohen said. A higher powered laser would likely be needed than what is envisioned for commercial aircraft because of the high altitude, he said. Cohen also suggested that instead of blinding the missile’s seeker, a laser could be used to decoy it to a higher altitude where it would eventually run out of fuel.
Israel has issued a worldwide security alert to its embassies in the wake of reports it may have kidnapped a top Iranian general in Turkey, a senior Israeli official tells ABC News.
“This could be a reason for the Iranians to respond against us,” said the official who said he had no information on the fate of the general. Israel has denied involvement in the disappearance of the general, according to press reports.
General Ali Reza Asgari disappeared in Istanbul in early February. He is thought to have direct knowledge of Iran’s nuclear program and its ties to terror groups operating in Lebanon and Iraq.
A Russian reporter who died after falling out of a window was investigating sales of weapons by Russia to Syria and Iran, his newspaper Kommersant said Tuesday.
Ivan Safronov had told his newspaper that he had “received information” about the sale of Sukhoi-34 fighter jets to Syria and S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran via Belarus.
The business daily said the arms were being sold “via Belarus to avoid the west accusing Russia of arming rogue states”. Safronov, a former colonel, specialised in writing about the army and space.
Russian prosecutors on Monday opened an investigation into the “incitement to suicide” of Safronov.
The less-lethal weapon was one of many novelties described in an invitation to the “Navy’s 07 ‘Opportunity Forum” for small businesses.
Invocon, Inc., one of dozens of companies expected to showcase their wares at the forum, says it’ll be there to display its “non-lethal, stand-off weapon for military and law enforcement personnel that could ultimately work through walls and other non-metallic structures.”
They’ve even got a Navy contract to develop the thing.Â I looked up Invocon’s contract in the Navy’s Small Business Innovative Research database and found this slightly more detailed description of the work:
IVC proposes to investigate the use of beamed RF [radio frequency] energy to excite and interrupt the normal process of human hearing and equilibrium. The focus will be in two areas. (1) Interruption of the mechanical transduction process by which sound and position (relative to gravity) are converted to messages that are processed by the brain. (2) Interruption of the chemical engine which sustains the proper operation of the nerve cells that respond to the mechanical transduction mechanisms referenced in item (1). Interruption of either or both of these processes has been clinically shown to produce complete disorientation and confusion.
Interview with General Wesley Clark on DemocracyNow:
â€œThis is a memo that describes how weâ€™re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.â€ I said, â€œIs it classified?â€ He said, â€œYes, sir.â€ I said, â€œWell, donâ€™t show it to me.â€ And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, â€œYou remember that?â€ He said, â€œSir, I didnâ€™t show you that memo! I didnâ€™t show it to you!â€
“I think Congress should take a strong stand to get the strategy changed. I don’t think that if you cut off funding for the war, itâ€™s in the — right now that’s not in the United States’ interest. What is in the United Statesâ€™ interest is to change the strategy in the war. You cannot succeed by simply stopping the funding and saying, ‘You’ve got six months to get the Americans out.’ That’s not going to end the misery in Iraq. It’s not going to restore the lives that have been lost. And it’s not going to give us the power in the region to prevent later threats.”
“But when you leave, the Saudis have got to find someone to fight the Shias. Who are they going to find? Al-Qaeda, because the groups of Sunnis who would be extremists and willing to fight would probably be the groups connected to al-Qaeda. So one of the weird inconsistencies in this is that were we to get out early, weâ€™d be intensifying the threat against us of a super powerful Sunni extremist group, which was now legitimated by overt Saudi funding in an effort to hang onto a toehold inside Iraq and block Iranian expansionism.”
The U.S.-backed Iraqi cabinet approved a new oil law Monday that is set to give foreign companies the long-term contracts and safe legal framework they have been waiting for, but which has rattled labour unions and international campaigners who say oil production should remain in the hands of Iraqis.
Independent analysts and labour groups have also criticised the process of drafting the law and warned that that the bill is so skewed in favour of foreign firms that it could end up heightening political tensions in the Arab nation and spreading instability.
For example, it specifies that up to two-thirds of Iraq’s known reserves would be developed by multinationals, under contracts lasting for 15 to 20 years.
This policy would represent a u-turn for Iraq’s oil industry, which has been in the public sector for more than three decades, and would break from normal practice in the Middle East.
According to local labour leaders, transferring ownership to the foreign companies would give a further pretext to continue the U.S. occupation on the grounds that those companies will need protection.
Stories in Thursday’s New York Times and Washington Post quote senior U.S. intelligence officials saying that North Korea might not have an enriched-uranium program after all…
“The revelation is stunning on two levels.
First, it suggests that the Bush administration could have struck a deal to halt the North Koreans’ nuclear-weapons program five years agoâ€”before they reprocessed 8,000 nuclear fuel rods into plutonium, before they tested a nuclear bomb for the first time, before they officially became a “nuclear-weapons state.”
Second (and this is the reason for the “no-confidence” stamp), it shows that Bush and his people will say anything, no matter whether it’s true, in order to shore up a political point. It means that U.S. intelligence has become completely corrupted.
It would be nice to know whether Iran is supplying Iraqi insurgents with particularly deadly explosives. It would be nice to know how far along the Iranians are coming with their (quite real) enriched-uranium program. It would be nice to know lots of things about this dangerous world. Or it would, at least, be nice to have a true sense of how much our intelligence agencies know about such things.
But we don’t know how much these agencies know, because we can have no confidence in what the Bush administration tells us they know.”
Sometime this spring or summer, barring an unexpected turnaround by Tehran, President Bush is likely to go on national television and announce that he has ordered American ships and aircraft to strike at military targets inside Iran. We must still sit through several months of soap opera at the United Nations in New York and assorted foreign capitals before this comes to pass, and it is always possible that a diplomatic breakthrough will occur – let it be so! – but I am convinced that Bush has already decided an attack is his only option and the rest is a charade he must go through to satisfy his European allies. The proof of this, I believe, lies half-hidden in recent public statements of his, which, if pieced together, provide a casus belli, or formal list of justifications, for going to war.
Three of his statements, in particular, contained the essence of this justification: his January 10 televised speech on his plan for a troop “surge” in Iraq, his State of the Union Address of January 23, and his first televised press conference of the year on February 14. None of these was primarily focused on Iran, but the President used each of them to warn of the extraordinary dangers that country poses to the United States and to hint at severe U.S. reprisals if the Iranians did not desist from “harming U.S. troops.” In each, moreover, he laid out various parts of the overall argument he will certainly use to justify an attack on Iran. String these together in one place and you can almost anticipate what Bush’s speechwriters will concoct before he addresses the American people from the Oval Office sometime later this year. Think of them as talking points for the next war.