Our friends at the Tony Snow Show write:
On Today's Tony Snow Show on Fox News Radio, Senate Majority Leader Frist acknowledges that he "will use the constitutional option" if needed and that "Yes, Yes" he believes he has the votes to pass it! He also says that anyone who attempts to use the filibuster will "pay a price."
SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Tony, this fellow, Judge Alito -- and I've been with him all morning. I've been with his family, and he just left here a few minutes ago. He's got a proven record. He's a proven nominee that absolutely meets the highest standards of excellence in the United States of America.
I think the political posturing from the other side is absurd. I think it is disrespectful of the nominee, who wants America -- and my colleagues, more importantly the latter. But once America sees who he is, they're going to stand back and say, "He is smart, he's intelligent, a man of integrity. A powerhouse, a powerhouse in the legal profession." So I look up on all these comments from my colleagues as premature and political posturing. And, you know, if they continue it along the way, I think they're going to pay a price?
SNOW: How so?
FRIST: Well, first of all -- and I said this to the judge, and I said it to my colleagues. We have got to work together as a Senate to give this qualified nominee a dignified hearing and a fair up-or-down vote. If they want to throw the word "filibuster" around before, they have had hearings before, they have had the opportunity to go back and look at his records.
And if they are going to prejudge the outcome, it's going to be a fight. And we are all ready for it. Listen, I hope there's no filibuster. I stood on principle all along on the other hand, in spite of the Gang of 14, in spite of deals being cut, on that principle that these nominees deserve an up-or-down vote. And I haven't cut deals in the past.
Obstructing judicial nominees should be a thing of the past. If the Democrats want to obstruct a nominee and not give us our constitutional right of advice and consent, an up-or-down vote, we'll take it to the mat. If a filibuster comes back, I'm not going to hesitate to employ the constitutional option to get an up-or-down vote.
SNOW: In other words, you will say to Democrats, "OK, we've been playing Mr. Nice Guy, but we're going to go ahead and vote on something that says, for the purposes of voting in the United States Senate, the Constitution requires only a majority vote. And therefore, filibusters will henceforth not be in order when it comes to judicial nominees for the federal bench by the president.
FRIST: That is correct, because the tyranny of the minority should not offend and take advantage of a system that clearly, clearly lays out in the Constitution advice and consent, meaning an up-or-down, fair, dignified up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate.
SNOW: Do you believe you have the votes to pass the constitutional option?
FRIST: Yes, yes. You know, and why do I say that so quickly? It's because this is a proven nominee. He meets the highest standards of excellence in this country. And I have enough respect in this body, the United States Senate, the upper legislative body of the greatest country in the world, to act accordingly. And that is vote them up, vote them down. You can decide how you want to, but give this proven nominee with those highest standards of excellence a vote.
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Right-click HERE and select "Save Target As" to download the Podcast directly to your computer in MP3 format.James Glassman: Energy prices have been rising sharply, partly because of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. We decided to talk to probably America's number one expert on energy to try to separate some of the hysteria and the myths from the truth.
As you can see, Dan Yergin is separating the myths from the reality. The political overreaction could actually be counterproductive when it comes to trying to solve the problems of energy. In fact, it's fairly straightforward -- the best way to get energy prices down is by increasing supply, to some extent reducing demand, which happens anyway in response to higher prices. But how do we increase supply? Not by political intervention. That disrupts capital markets, makes investors think, well, maybe putting money into energy companies is not the best use if there's going to be political repercussions to doing that. So, perhaps Speaker Hastert, Senator Lieberman, Senator Dorgan, and others who are responding in an earnest, and heartfelt way to the complaints of their constituents about higher oil and gas prices, are really doing exactly the wrong thing. We need to make markets work. That is Dan Yergin's advice. Sounds sound to me.
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Today's New York Sun (live link) editorial advocates a presidential pardon for Lewis Libby. This editorial does not get everything right, but on some points it swats the ball out of the park. Here are a few of them in the space of one paragraph:
If Ms. Plame didn't want her identity out, she shouldn't have gotten her husband a secret mission and then allowed him to wage a public campaign against the president's foreign policy. The leading prevaricator in this case is Mr. Wilson himself. He has accused Mr. Bush of falsely leading America to war. Mr. Bush had claimed "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Mr. Wilson drank tea in Niger for a week and said that Mr. Bush's claim was not true. But even after Mr. Wilson's objection, the July 2004 report by the British government's Butler Commission found that Mr. Bush's comment was "well-founded." In a July 2004 report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senators Roberts, Hatch, and Bond said of Mr. Wilson, "The former Ambassador, either by design or through ignorance, gave the American people and, for that matter, the world a version of events that was inaccurate, unsubstantiated, and misleading."
The White House, the CIA, and the Wilsons
Some very compelling arguments.
The Untold Story: Joseph Wilson, Judith Miller and the CIA
By Cliff Kincaid
The savage left-wing attack on Judith Miller from inside and outside of the New York Times completely misses the point. She is under attack for being a lackey of the Bush Administration when she failed to do the administration and the public a big favor. She could have done a potential Pulitzer Prize-winning story that could have broken the Joseph Wilson case wide open. It is a story exposing the Wilson mission to Africa as a CIA operation designed to undermine President Bush.
For 85 days in jail, Miller protected her source, Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, but the fact remains that she never used the explosive information Libby gave her. Now we know, according to Miller's account, that Libby told her about a CIA war with the Bush Administration over Iraq intelligence and that he vociferously complained to her about CIA leaks to the press. But Miller decided that what Libby told her was not newsworthy. Why?
We were critical of Miller from the start because she went to jail rather than testify under oath and tell the truth before a grand jury. Eventually, she did testify, under questionable and mysterious circumstances. She claims she insisted that her testimony be restricted to her conversations with Libby. Clearly, Miller had a relationship with Libby as a source. On that matter, she is "guilty" as charged. But the media attacks on Miller really show her critics do not regard Libby as a source worth protecting. Libby, according to columnist Frank Rich, is a "neocon" who misled the nation to get us into the Iraq War. On the other hand, Wilson is supposed to be a hero and whistleblower. He came back from Africa, after investigating the Iraq-uranium link, and concluded that the Bush Administration was lying. His wife, CIA employee Valerie Plame, had her identity revealed by conservative columnist Robert Novak because Bush officials were upset that her husband had told the truth. At least this is their version of the facts.
But if Miller was too cozy with the White House, why didn't she rush into print with Libby's version of events and use him as an anonymous source? Miller couldn't even be counted on to do a story based on high-level information provided to her by the vice president's top aide. It was information that was not only true but explosive. Libby was letting Miller in on the real story of the Wilson affair--that the CIA was out to get the President, and that the agency was using Wilson to get Bush.
The fact that she didn't write a story has been cited many times, supposedly to prove that Miller should never have been called by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald before the grand jury. If she didn't write a story, we were told, she shouldn't have to be ordered to talk about her sources. Fitzgerald obviously believed the information she had about her sources was relevant to the case. And it was. But Miller didn't write any of this up at the time. That's mighty strange behavior for a pawn of the administration.
In my recent special report on this matter, former prosecutor Joseph diGenova called the Wilson mission a CIA "covert operation" against Bush. Like the Novak column, a Miller story about this matter could have raised questions about the purpose of the trip and who was behind it. But if Miller had done such a story for the Times, the impact could have been enormous. After all, the Times was the chosen vessel for Wilson to write his column claiming there was no Iraq uranium deal with Niger.
Miller could have revealed that Wilson was recommended for the mission by his own wife, a CIA employee. His wife's role was critically important because a truly undercover CIA operative would not recommend her husband for an overseas trip and then expect to maintain her "secret" identity as he proceeded to write an article for the New York Times and become a public spectacle because of it. Her role in the trip means that she was not undercover in any real sense of the word.
As I have noted previously, Herbert Romerstein, a former professional staff member of the House Intelligence Committee, says that Plame's involvement in sending her husband on the CIA mission to Africa meant that when Wilson went public about it, foreign intelligence services would investigate all of his family members for possible CIA connections. Those intelligence services would not simply assume that he went on the mission because he was a former diplomat. They would investigate his wife. And that would inevitably lead to unraveling the facts about Valerie Wilson, or Valerie Plame, and her involvement with the CIA. Romerstein says that Plame's role in arranging the mission for her husband is solid proof that she was not concerned about having her "cover" blown because she was not truly under cover.
By any account, she was hardly a James Bond-type. Plame's "cover," a company called "Brewster-Jennings & Associates," was so flimsy that she used it as her affiliation when she made a 1999 contribution to Al Gore for president. She identified herself as "Valerie Wilson" in this case. The same Federal Election Commission records showing her contribution to Gore also reveal a $372 contribution to America Coming Together, when the group was organizing to defeat Bush.
If Miller had done some extra digging, she would have discovered that, contrary to what Wilson said publicly in the Times, his findings were interpreted by many officials as additional evidence of an Iraqi interest in obtaining uranium. This kind of story, if it had been published in the New York Times, could have completely undermined Wilson's credibility. It would have made it ridiculous for the Times to subsequently demand the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the Bush White House. The Times went ahead and made that editorial demand, only to have it backfire on the paper when Fitzgerald demanded Miller's testimony.
The CIA obviously knew the facts of the case. Nevertheless, with Wilson and the media, led by the Times, generating a feeding frenzy over the publication of his wife's name and affiliation, the agency pushed for a Justice Department investigation, on the false premise that revealing her identity was a crime. This is what started it all. It was the perfect way to divert attention from a much-needed investigation of the CIA, the ultimate source of the questionable intelligence that the administration used to make the case for the Iraq War.
Eventually, some members of the press caught up with some parts of the truth. Susan Schmidt of the Washington Post was honest enough to admit, when the evidence came out, that Wilson had misrepresented his wife's role. Schmidt reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee report found that he was specifically recommended for the mission by his wife, "contrary to what he has said publicly." By then, however, the media feeding frenzy was well underway and the facts of the case were being buried or shunted aside. And this takes us to where we are today--wondering whether Fitzgerald will indict Bush officials for making conflicting statements about the facts of the case. If the investigation was a real desire for truth and justice, Fitzgerald would drop the case and accuse the CIA of pursuing the matter for an illegitimate political reason. It's the CIA--not the White House--that should be under investigation.
If Miller deserves criticism, it is for failing to write the story when Libby handed it to her on a silver platter. She had the perfect opportunity to set the record straight about some misinformation that had already appeared in her own paper. After all, it was Times columnist Nicholas Kristof who had asserted, in a May 6, 2003, column, that "I'm told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president's office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger." We now know that Wilson was the source of this information, and that it was false. He whitewashed the nature of the CIA role in the trip because he wanted to protect his wife. Wilson wanted people to think that the Vice President's office was somehow behind his mission.
We also know, because of Miller's account of her testimony under oath, that it was because of this misinformation that Libby talked to Miller and wanted to get out the other side of the story. The Vice President's office, said by the liberal press to be at the center of the CIA leak "conspiracy," was justifiably outraged over Wilson going public with misleading information about his mission and blasting the administration in the process. Miller also testified that she thought Plame's CIA connection "potentially newsworthy." You bet it was. But she didn't write the story. This is where Miller failed her paper and the public.
Consider the record of the Times in this case. Editorially, the Times called for the investigation but didn't want to cooperate with it. The paper also published the misleading Wilson and Kristof columns. And yet Miller, who didn't write anything, is the Times journalist under fire in the press because she wrote stories about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs before the war and later talked to Libby about how the CIA had gotten the facts wrong! Miller has become a target even though it's her colleagues who put the misleading Wilson column into the paper, published Kristof's erroneous account, and called for the probe that resulted in Miller serving jail time.
Miller's WMD stories are said by the hard left to be evidence of her reliance on the Bush Administration for information. In fact, it shows her dependence on the same sources that told the administration that Iraq had WMD. Those sources included CIA director George Tenet, a Clinton holdover, who told Bush that finding WMD in Iraq was a "slam dunk."
We are still left with the mystery of why Miller didn't write anything based on what Libby told her. She says she proposed a story. Miller and/or her editors may have been persuaded to drop it by other sources, who may have been in the CIA. It makes perfect sense. The CIA had been behind the Wilson trip from the beginning and, as Libby told Miller, had been trying to undercut the administration's Iraq policy and divert attention from the agency's poor performance on Iraqi WMD. The CIA did not want the full extent of its role uncovered and decided that the best way to divert attention from its own shabby performance was to accuse Bush officials of violating the law against identifying covert agents. This was one covert operation by the CIA on top of another. Miller watched the whole thing play out and refused to tell her own paper and the public what was really happening.
Miller says that she only talked to the grand jury about her conversations with Libby. She said she wanted to protect other sources she used on other stories. Miller's 2001 book, Germs, on "Biological weapons and America's secret war," has several references to her other sources. Some are unnamed "analysts" at the CIA.
My own recent special report on this matter struck a chord with readers, one of whom said it is a case of"the CIA undermining and eliminating a president." But Bush is still hanging on, dismissing the stream of stories on the case as "background noise." Staying above the fray, when he has come under assault by America's premier intelligence service, Bush is letting CIA director Porter Goss do the necessary job of cleaning house at this corrupt agency.
If some of Bush's aides now go down on dubious charges of having faulty or inconsistent memories about the case, they could try to blow the whistle on the CIA in court. The CIA would most likely try to censor the proceedings on grounds of "national security" and protecting agency "operations." For the sake of maintaining our democratic form of government and reigning in rogue elements at the CIA, the truth must come out.
ON JUNE12, 2003, when he first published a story about the matter, Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus became the second journalist to have been used by Ambassador Joseph Wilson to peddle bogus information about his February 2002 trip to Niger.
Wilson told Pincus that he had debunked Bush administration claims that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger. He was specific and apparently seemed credible. And Pincus bought it all.
Armed with information purportedly showing that Iraqi officials had been seeking to buy uranium in Niger one or two years earlier, the CIA in early February 2002 dispatched a retired U.S. ambassador to the country to investigate the claims, according to the senior U.S. officials and the former government official, who is familiar with the event. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity and on condition that the name of the former ambassador not be disclosed.
During his trip, the CIA's envoy spoke with the president of Niger and other Niger officials mentioned as being involved in the Iraqi effort, some of whose signatures purportedly appeared on the documents.
After returning to the United States, the envoy reported to the CIA that the uranium-purchase story was false, the sources said. Among the envoy's conclusions was that the documents may have been forged because the "dates were wrong and the names were wrong," the former U.S. government official said.
There is one problem with this: It's wrong. Wilson lied and lied repeatedly. His central contention--that he had seen documents about the alleged sale and determined that they were forgeries--was a fabrication. We know this because Wilson took his trip in February 2002 and the U.S. government did not receive those documents until October 2002. It could not have happened the way Wilson described it to Pincus.
Wilson was later confronted about his misrepresentations. He told investigators from the Senate Intelligence Committee that he may have "misspoken." CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Wilson specifically about these obvious discrepancies, citing Pincus's June 12, 2003, Washington Post story. Wilson decided to share the blame. He pointed the finger squarely at Walter Pincus:
Yes, I am male, I'm over 50. By definition, I can misspeak. I have gone back and taken a look at this particular article. It refers to an unidentified former government official. If it is referring to me, it is a misattribution, of facts that were already in the public domain and had been so since March. My first public statement on this, in my own words, was on July 6." [emphasis added]
The following day, Wilson was confronted again, this time by CNN's Paula Zahn. This time he played dumb before once again blamed the reporters who retold his phony story.
Zahn: I want you to respond to that very specific allegation in the addendum to the Senate report, which basically says that your public comments not only are incorrect, but have no basis in fact.
Wilson: Well, I'm not exactly sure what public comments they're referring to. If they're referring to leaks or sources, unidentified government sources in articles that appeared before my article in the New York Times [July 6, 2003] appeared, those are either misquotes or misattributions if they're attributed to me.
It was a stunning reversal. Wilson had turned on the very people who had given him prominence and had trusted that his story was accurate.
All of which brings us to the very bizarre story in today's Washington Post. The article is a rather transparent attempt to rehabilitate Joseph Wilson, casting the current debate about his credibilityas a battle between Wilson's antiwar supporters and his pro-war critics. It fails.
IT FAILS BECAUSE outside of the pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times, there is no real debate over Joseph Wilson's credibility. He doesn't have any. It is something that Walter Pincus should understand well, having been one of the earliest peddlers of Wilson's fabrications. And one might think that Pincus would be angry at Wilson after the former ambassador accused him of sloppy reporting to cover up Wilson's own misrepresentations.
But one would be wrong. Pincus is the co-author--along with Dana Milbank--of this morning's amusing attempt to reframe the Wilson story.
"To his backers, Joseph C. Wilson IV is a brave whistle-blower wronged by the Bush administration," claim Pincus and Milbank. "To his critics, he is a partisan who spouts unreliable information."
And why has Wilson's credibility become an issue? A reasonable outside observer might think that Wilson's credibility is an issue because, well, he lied about his findings. That doesn't work for the Post reporters. Wilson's claims are once again at issue because "Republicans [are] preparing a defense of the administration."
The Post report continues:"Wilson's central assertion--disputing President Bush's 2003 State of the Union claim that Iraq was seeking nuclear material in Niger--has been validated by postwar weapons inspections. And his charge that the administration exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq has proved potent."
It is the 60 Minutes defense all over again: Fake, but accurate. Yet there are two problems with these claims.
First, it is far from clear that Bush's claim has been invalidated by postwar inspections. Weapons inspections in 2003 and 2004 have little bearing on whether Iraq sought uranium in 1999. And the British review of prewar intelligence (known as the Butler report) concluded that the claim was--and remains--solid. Even Wilson's own reporting about a 1999 meeting between Nigerien government officials and an Iraqi delegation seemed to corroborate earlier reports, dating back to October 2001, that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger.
More problematic: Wilson's "central assertion" was not a soft, subjective claim that Bush's statement was incorrect. His central assertion was that he had seen the documents that proved the Bush administration had lied. Wilson's story was compelling not because he had simply come to a different conclusion than the Bush administration, but because he alone could demonstrate that the administration's claim was built on a lie.
So how does the Post deal with Wilson's fabrications? Very politely. Wilson "armed his critics by misstating some aspects of the Niger affair" and when later confronted with his misrepresentations "had to admit he had misspoken." But none of this was important, according to the Post. "That inaccuracy wasnot central to Wilson's claims about Niger, but his critics have used it to cast doubt on his veracity about more important questions, such as whether his wife recommended him for the 2002 trip . . . "
Come again? The fact that he misrepresented his findings and invented a story about evidence he had never seen is "not central to his claims about Niger?"
IN ANY CASE, Pincus hasn't always believed that the involvement of Wilson's wife was a "more important question." On August 8, 2005, he wrote an article with this headline: "Side Issue in the Plame Case: Who Sent Her Spouse to Africa?"
And what about Wilson's claims that his wife had nothing to do with sending him? When Time magazine interviewed Wilson for an article published July 17, 2003, the Time reporters confronted him with those allegations. Wilson, according to Time, "angrily said that his wife had nothing to do with his trip to Africa." Said Wilson: "That is bull----. That is absolutely not the case."
Today's Post article once again plays this as an ambiguity: The reporters note a Senate report that suggests she was involved, but also cite anonymous CIA officials who "have always said" that "Plame's superiors chose Wilson for the Niger trip and she only relayed their decision."
Two points: By the CIA's own account, Mrs. Wilson was "involved" in sending her husband to Niger. So his denial is, again, false. Furthermore, the Senate Intelligence Committee report makes clear that Mrs. Wilson was instrumental in facilitating her husband's trip to Niger. She suggested him for the job, even writing a memo to her superiors detailing his qualifications for the mission. She introduced him at the subsequent meeting about the trip. And, upon his return, she was present for his debriefing, which was conducted by two CIA officials in their home.
The Post piece closes by citing "another item of dispute": The claim that Wilson was dispatched to Niger by Vice President Dick Cheney. In a recent interview with the Post, Wilson claims: "I never said the vice president sent me or ordered me sent."
But in his May 6, 2003, column in the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof wrote: "I'm told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president's office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged." Was that Wilson? We cannot be certain. But both Kristof and Wilson have acknowledged that he was a primary source for the piece.
Wilson further claimed that Cheney had received Wilson's report--allegedly debunking the claim--and had chosen to ignore it. From the New Republic, June 30, 2003: "The CIA circulated the ambassador's report to the vice president's office, the ambassador confirms to TNR." Wilson added: "They knew the Niger story was a flatout lie."
TODAY'S Post story is one in a long stream of news reports in both the Post and the New York Times which have given credence to Wilson's bogus claims. For more than a year--from May 2003 until the release ofthe Senate Intelligence Committee report on July 7, 2004--the mainstream press regurgitated Wilson's fraudulent narrative as if it was true.
Here was Pincus on July 6, 2003, the first on-the-record interview with Wilson about his Niger trip. "Joseph C. Wilson, the retired United States ambassador whose CIA-directed mission to Niger in early 2002 helped debunk claims that Iraq had tried to obtain uranium there for nuclear weapons, has said for the first time publicly that U.S. and British officials ignored his findings and exaggerated the public case for invading Iraq.
Wilson, whose 23-year career included senior positions in Africa and Iraq, where he was acting ambassador in 1991, said the false allegations that Iraq was trying to buy uranium oxide from Niger about three years ago were used by President Bush and senior administration officials as a central piece of evidence to support their assertions that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program."
The New York Times, too, assumed that Wilson's version of events was true: "The agent is the wife of Joseph C. Wilson 4th, a former ambassador to Gabon. It was Mr. Wilson who, more than a year and a half ago, concluded in a report to the CIA that there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein tried to buy uranium ore in Niger in an effort to build nuclear arms. But his report was ignored, and Ambassador Wilson has been highly critical of how the administration handled intelligence claims regarding Iraq's nuclear weapons programs, suggesting that Mr. Bush's aides and Vice President Dick Cheney's office tried to inflate the threat."
More troubling, though, is the credulous reporting that came after the Senate Intelligence Committee report had discredited Wilson. The New York Times, in an editorial on July 19, 2005, argues as if the Senate report had never been issued:
"In July 2003, Mr. Wilson wrote an Op-Ed article in The Times that described how he had been sent by the C.I.A. to investigate a report that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger. He said he had found no evidence to support the claim of a uranium purchase, or even a serious attempt to negotiate one, and that he had reported this to Washington. That is entirely accurate."
Or, more recently, the July 27, 2005, Washington Post: "In a 2002 trip to Niger at the request of the CIA, Wilson found no evidence to support allegations that Iraq was seeking uranium from that African country and reported back to the agency in February 2002. But nearly a year later, Bush asserted in his State of the Union speech that Iraq had sought uranium from Africa, attributing it to British, not U.S., intelligence."
But those were not Wilson' findings. And he wasn't sent by Vice President Cheney. And he was recommended by his wife. And he never did see the forgeries. And his report never was circulated to senior Bush administration policymakers. And on and on it goes.
The only debate about Joseph Wilson's credibility is the one apparently taking place at the Washington Post and the New York Times.
France was enjoying Saddam's Oil For Food" payola "so go figure.
Agent behind fake uranium documents worked for France
By Bruce Johnston in Rome
The Italian businessman at the centre of a furious row between France and Italy over whose intelligence service was to blame for bogus documents suggesting Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy material for nuclear bombs has admitted that he was in the pay of France.
The man, identified by an Italian news agency as Rocco Martino, was the subject of a Telegraph article earlier this month in which he was referred to by his intelligence codename, "Giacomo".
His admission to investigating magistrates in Rome on Friday apparently confirms suggestions that - by commissioning "Giacomo" to procure and circulate documents - France was responsible for some of the information later used by Britain and the United States to promote the case for war with Iraq.
Italian diplomats have claimed that, by disseminating bogus documents stating that Iraq was trying to buy low-grade "yellowcake" uranium from Niger, France was trying to "set up" Britain and America in the hope that when the mistake was revealed it would undermine the case for war, which it wanted to prevent.
Italian judicial officials confirmed yesterday that Mr Martino had previously been sought for questioning by Rome. Investigating magistrates in the city have opened an inquiry into claims he made previously in the international press that Italy's secret services had been behind the dissemination of false documents, to bolster the US case for war.
According to Ansa, the Italian news agency, which said privately that it had obtained its information from "judicial and other sources", Mr Martino was questioned by an investigating magistrate, Franco Ionta, for two hours. Ansa said Mr Martino told the magistrate that Italy's military intelligence, Sismi, had no role in the procuring or dissemination of the Niger documents.
He was also said to have claimed that he had obtained the documents from an employee at the Niger embassy in Rome, before passing these to French intelligence, on whose payroll he had been since at least 2000.
However, he reportedly also added that he had believed that the documents in question were genuine, and to have never suspected that they had been forged. "Martino has clarified his position and offered to deliver to the magistrates the documents which confirm his declarations," his lawyer, Giuseppe Placidi, told Ansa.
It was not possible to contact Mr Martino through his lawyer yesterday. Contacted by The Telegraph, Mr Ionta politely declined to comment, but did not deny that the questioning had taken place. The Interior Ministry in Rome, which had also expressed keen interest in the Telegraph article, refused to comment on the matter.
Mr Martino is said by diplomats to have come forward of his own accord and contacted authorities in the Italian capital following the earlier article in the Telegraph. They said he had written a letter of resignation to the French DGSE intelligence service last week.
According to an Italian newspaper report yesterday, members of the Digos, Italy's anti-terrorist police, removed documents from Mr Martino's home in a northern suburb of Rome on Friday afternoon.
"After being exposed in the international press, French intelligence can hardly be amused or happy with him," one western diplomat said. "Martino may have thought the safest thing was to hand himself over to the Italians." Investigators in Rome suspect that Mr Martino was first engaged by the French secret services five years ago, when he was asked to investigate rumours of illicit trafficking in uranium from Niger. He is thought to have then been retained the following year to collect more information. It was then that he is suspected of having assembled a dossier containing both real and bogus documents from Niger, the latter apparently forged by a diplomat.
In September 2002 Tony Blair accused Saddam of seeking "significant quantities" of uranium from an undisclosed African country - in fact, Niger. US President George W Bush made a similar claim in his State of the Union address to Congress four months later, using information supplied by MI6.
The International Atomic Energy Agency expressed doubts over some of the documents' authenticity, however, and declared them false in March 2003.
In July, the White House withdrew the president's claim, admitting that it was based on inaccurate information. British officials still say that their intelligence about Iraqi uranium purchases was supported by a second, independent source."
Scandal: While the Bush administration hunkers down on indictment watch, Congress should take a look at political — and possibly illegal — activity by agenda-driven intelligence operatives.
Whatever fate befalls White House adviser Karl Rove, Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Lewis Libby and any other administration official caught up in the prosecution over the leaked name of a CIA officer, there's a back story to this case that should not be ignored.
It's about the CIA itself.
This is a story that most of the media will be trying hard not to cover. They share former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's stated desire to see Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald "frog-march" Rove out of the White House in handcuffs.
So Congress should leave the media no choice. Hold hearings. Put the CIA on the spot and blow the lid off any politically motivated funny business. Bring some transparency to what has become a very murky issue.
We believe that someone needs to answer the questions raised recently by Joseph F. DiGenova, a former federal prosecutor and independent counsel:
Was there a covert operation against the president?
If so, who was behind it?
These aren't the musings of the tinfoil-hat brigade. A sober-minded case can be made that at least some people in the CIA may have acted inappropriately to discredit the administration as a way of salvaging their own reputations after the intelligence debacles of 9-11 and Iraqi WMD.
DiGenova, in a conversation with columnist Cliff Kincaid of the conservative group Accuracy in Media, pointed to the oddness of the event that got the current scandal rolling: The recommendation from now-unmasked CIA agent Valerie Plame that her husband, ex-diplomat Joseph Wilson, be sent on a trip to Africa to check out reports that Iraq was trying to buy uranium for its nuclear weapons program from the country of Niger.
"It seems to me somewhat strange, in terms of CIA tradecraft," DiGenova said, "that if you were really attempting to protect the identity of a covert officer, why would you send her husband overseas on a mission without a confidentiality agreement, and then allow him when he came back to the United States to write an op-ed piece in The New York Times about it."
Another angle worth investigating is the CIA's own possible use of leaks. When columnist Robert Novak revealed Plame's identity, someone leaked the news that the CIA sent a referral to the Justice Department seeking an investigation. The referral was classified, writes Stephen Hayes in The Weekly Standard, and anyone who divulged it would have been breaking the law.
So who leaked the referral, and why doesn't the CIA refer this matter to Justice, as it did the Plame matter?
Hayes raises the possibility that the leak came from within the CIA and that the CIA's lawyers "are reluctant to call for an investigation for fear of what such an investigation might reveal."
The CIA, of course, is supposed to be above politics. But it is increasingly viewed with suspicion by conservatives (such as Hayes, DiGenova and Kincaid) and with real affection by the Left.
Here's what Robert Dreyfuss, a columnist for the liberal American Prospect, has to say:
"For liberals and leftists accustomed to viewing the CIA as a rogue agency prone to unaccountable covert actions abroad, it is ironic that since 9-11, the CIA has emerged as a bastion of opposition to George W. Bush's imperial foreign policy."
As long as that's just an outsider's opinion, no problem. But if people within the CIA now see their role in that light, then the country is headed for real trouble.
"Clinton Legacy: The Cost of Real Corruption
From the moment of Tom Delay’s indictment, liberal grandstanding has been relentless. Its most notable mouthpieces, led by the ever-shrill House Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, characterized the indictment as solid proof of a “culture of corruption” among the Republicans.
Similar Democrat caterwauling greets each new suggestion that some high-ranking Republican might have “outed” Valerie Plame as a covert CIA operative. The left virtually salivates at the possibility that Presidential adviser Karl Rove could be the “fall guy,” despite the inarguable fact that Plame was neither covert, nor was her CIA status a secret at the time her name was disclosed.
Not wanting to end up on the wrong side of these controversies, conservatives are reserving judgment on Delay and Rove, awaiting the official outcome of the judicial charades that must now follow. Unfortunately, their reluctance to directly confront such deception will only be perceived as weakness.
Such restrained behavior may once again do more harm than good in a political climate where the law is increasingly invoked, not as a guardian of justice, but as a weapon by which the powerful can dominate the weak.
For more than a decade, political posturing and “spin,” long a means of supplanting uncomfortable facts with glib soundbites, has become the primary tactic of the political left. To date nobody has engaged in such behavior more perniciously than former President Bill Clinton, abetted (and perhaps driven) by his wife Hillary.
In a newly released book “My FBI,” former director Louis Freeh outlines the incessant sleaze and scandal that ensued from the moment the Clintons ascended to power. Yet even Freeh’s accounts, despicable though they are, pale in comparison to the worst betrayals of the country by the Clinton Administration.
Some international events of this past week, if taken in their proper context, reveal the frightening truth of just how egregiously America’s security, and indeed its very future, was deliberately compromised by the Clintons.
For the second time in two years, China launched a manned space vehicle, this time carrying two Chinese astronauts, into space and retrieved it safely on the plains of Mongolia. This mission would have been impossible for the Chinese, had crucial technology not been given to them by such corporations as Loral Space Systems, with the blessing and enabling of the Clinton White House.
Predictably, the Chinese space program is thoroughly politicized and ambitious, with stated goals of a Chinese space station and manned moon landing by 2010. Whether or not the date slips, China clearly poses a far greater technological threat than it otherwise would have, without the collaboration of the Clintons.
China is fighting a new “Cold War,” borne up by American dollars, which it fully intends to win. This time however, the administration of President Bill Clinton played the same role as did the Rosenbergs in the last one.
Just as the infamous couple delivered critical nuclear technology to the Soviets in the late 1940’s, the Clintons sold critical missile technology to the Communist Chinese in return for campaign contributions, the dubious nature of which vastly eclipses any accusation against Delay from even his most wild-eyed critics.
Counting on the technical ignorance of the “X-Box” generation, Clinton dismissed the horrendous technology transfers as merely benefiting “commercial satellite technology.” But as any marginally savvy space enthusiast knows, the technology required to orbit a satellite is identical to that necessary to hurl a Chinese nuclear warhead into the American heartland.
It is unclear whether America should return to the moon and thus reestablish space supremacy, or simply pursue technology on the home front and, in regards to space feats, rest on its laurels from the 1960’s. In any case, the only unacceptable course is to return the country to those leftists who originally fomented the crisis.
In the wake of September 11, Clinton’s treacherous dealings with the Communist Chinese were shoved from the limelight. But even in the aftermath of that horrendous event, the sordid fingerprints of the Clintons were once again apparent, thwarting efforts to truly understand how such a thing could have transpired.
With Jamie Gorelick working from the “inside” and Sandy Berger on the “outside,” the 9-11 commission was capably prevented from identifying the culpability of the Clinton White House in leaving America vulnerable to attack.
More than four years after leaving office, the Clinton political machine continues to seriously endanger the interests of the nation. Yet Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats remain steadfastly unaware of any “culture of corruption” here.
And America has only begun to pay the price.
"A START against terrorism
The Baltimore Sun
"Criminologist Gary LaFree is huddled over a new computer, exercising part of his database for the first time. The global maps he's manipulating document the spread of terrorism over time. There's hope that the information stored here can help scholars learn about the nature of terrorism — and eventually help rid the world of it.
For now, though, there are many unanswered questions to ponder: What do Palestinian terrorists have in common with members of the IRA? Or Shining Path? Or abortion-clinic bombers? How is the Mafia different from al-Qaida? How do terrorist groups form? How do they sustain themselves? Why do some disappear?
Before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, LaFree studied international homicide statistics. Now, he is one of the newest warriors to join the battle against al-Qaida, director of the National Center for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, or START, at the University of Maryland.
It is the first U.S. program funded by the government to study terrorist behavior.
As chief organizer, LaFree is contacting scholars throughout the world on collaborative projects.
Officials at the Department of Homeland Security hold great hopes that START's "rapid-response team" of academics can use LaFree's database of more than 70,000 terrorist events to begin finding answers to some of terrorism's fundamental questions.
"The Maryland START Center will help strengthen the nation's ability to understand the root causes behind acts of terror and the motivations of terrorists and those who enable them," Charles McQueary, DHS undersecretary for science and technology, said last month.
"So much of the research so far has been just on people who have actually engaged in terrorism," LaFree says. "We argue that to understand terrorism, you've got to know not only about the relatively small number of people that engage in it but all the people who could have. And about the people who support the goals of the terrorists, strongly or even weakly. You've got to understand the communication going on between this relatively small group and the larger society."
LaFree also hopes that the center will persuade students to make careers in the study of terrorism and counterterrorism — a field with room for many disciplines. The UM center has connected psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, geographers, criminologists, demographers and economists.
The 54-year-old LaFree already has accomplished much since January, when Homeland Security awarded $12 million to fund the three-year program that he and his colleagues proposed.
Although START is a consortium of scholars from five universities, it now has a physical location in a third-floor suite of rooms in Symons Hall on the Maryland campus. It will publish a pioneering study on airplane hijackings. It has organized conferences, and research teams are surveying people in Pakistan, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, asking such questions as: Are you more likely to justify terrorism against the United States when it is doing things in foreign policy you don't agree with?
"The famous phrase is that one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter," LaFree says. "The reason it's so complicated to tell whether something is 'terrorist' is, in large part, because terrorism really isn't a person, it's a technique. Different groups sometimes use the technique, and sometimes they don't."
In his definition, terrorism involves a "sub-state" agent, violence or the threat of it, and goals that are political, religious or social.
"I would count the Mafia's killing of a judge because they don't like his ruling, or a government official because they're trying to get more favorable policies, as terrorism," LaFree says.
As a criminologist, he sees similarities between terrorist cells and street gangs.
"People often think in terms of how difficult it is to wipe gangs out, but the reverse is also true: It's really quite remarkable how people without money or great organizational skills can keep their followers interested, day after day.
"Gangs have a lot of work to do just to keep gangs going. It's the same with terrorists. How do you get people to commit to a level where they will live on next to nothing, have terrible living conditions, abandon their families and perhaps even give their lives? That requires a lot of social and psychological work. What a lot of terrorist groups are about is just maintaining their own existence over time."
As a graduate student at Indiana University, he read Susan Brownmiller's "Against Our Will" and realized that rape was an "under-studied example of people using violence to get what they want." For his book, "Rape and Criminal Justice: The Social Construction of Sexual Assault," LaFree consulted court records in Indianapolis for 1,000 rape cases. He tracked how the definition of rape and the way it was treated changed over a decade, from the days when a member of the rape squad tried to make victims "admit" they were lying to a time when the culture was beginning to acknowledge the existence of date rape.
12-year crime spike
Later he studied crime in the United States between 1963 and 1975, a time when robberies tripled and burglaries quadrupled. Along with spurring the creation of federal bureaucracies and fueling flight to the suburbs, this 12-year crime period permanently changed how Americans live, he writes in "Losing Legitimacy: Street Crime and the Decline of Institutions in America."
"I'm sort of an archaeologist," he says. "I like to study things that get left behind, in records and other things. Health records, for instance, tell us a lot about homicides, and court records tell us a lot about violent crimes."
Eventually he discovered what he says may be the world's most comprehensive "open" record of terrorist events: a treasury of information from 1970 to 1997 collected by Pinkerton Global Intelligence Service.
"The State Department had only considered international acts, missing such events as the Oklahoma City bombing or the sarin gas attacks in Japan," he says. "As a private money-making concern, Pinkerton didn't have all the political pressure that the State Department does. Were the contras involved in terrorism or not? Was Israel involved in terrorism or just protecting itself? Pinkerton tended to err on the side of inclusiveness."
"Center of excellence"
He persuaded Pinkerton to let the University of Maryland computerize the records. Then he needed to find an army of students — and the money to pay them — to enter the data, which Pinkerton researchers had merely stored in shoeboxes.
When his initial project grants were exhausted, his funding search led him and colleagues to draft a proposal to become an academically based "center of excellence" funded by the Department of Homeland Security. (Other centers concentrate on the economic consequences of terrorism and on protecting livestock, and the harvested food supply, from bioterrorism.)
"Ironically, I ended up getting this award because I had been turned down for others," LaFree says.
Now that the Pinkerton data are computerized, researchers around the globe are feeding the database with new examples of terrorism small and large, successful and failed.
The START database includes descriptions of domestic and international events collected since 1970 from news accounts and embassies.
LaFree considers a third of the roughly 3,000 terrorist groups identified through the database to be "fairly serious." With several other principal investigators and scores of researchers around the world, he hopes to analyze information about these groups in a way that can help keep terrorist networks from forming — and recognize which groups pose the greatest threats.
"You could already make a good case that we have a lot more to worry about from right- and left-wing groups inside the United States than we do from al-Qaida," he says. "Before 9/11, the biggest attack was the Oklahoma City bombing. By far the largest number of attacks have been domestic — domestic outnumber international by 7-to-1."
Another major area of research at START concerns the public dimensions of terrorism — how Americans perceive the threat, how they are likely to prepare for it and react to it.
Since Hurricane Katrina, such questions as 'How can the government effectively communicate risk?' and 'What's the best way to evacuate people after a terrorist strike?' seem even more pressing.
Almost a third of the center's 60 researchers are natural-hazards specialists led by Kathleen Tierney, director of the National Hazards Center of the University of Colorado.
"I think we were ahead of the curve on this one," LaFree says. "We saw the connection between hazard response and terrorism response very clearly when we organized this new center."
Other groups are looking at such issues as whether U.S. prisons serve as breeding grounds for terrorists, whether terrorists who act for religious reasons are more apt to use weapons of mass destruction, and how terrorist organizations have used the Sept. 11 attacks to attract new followers.
START scholars are also part of a project in Northern Ireland that examines how British responses to terrorism have affected subsequent attacks.
"If they [the British] respond in a very harsh fashion, it tends to increase the strikes," LaFree says.
"With 9/11, al-Qaida, in part, was trying to provoke the United States to kill a bunch of innocent people in order to drive a wedge between the Islamic world and the United States.
"If we want to understand our adversaries, we better take into account that sometimes whacking the other side is playing into their hands. It may be exactly what they want." "
"They used to make pickles, squashes, jams, curry powders, and canned pineapples. And banana jam (illegally) after the FPO (Food Products Organization) banned it because according to their specification it was neither jam nor jelly. Too thin for jelly and too thick for jam. An ambiguous, unclassifiable consistency, they said."
If you think this sort of absurdity belongs in the exclusive province of fiction, think again. With the world's fourth biggest proportion of the population making less than $2 a day, and $430 GNI per capita, Mauritania is one of the world's poorest countries. Featuring mostly camels and sand dunes, it has almost no non-oil natural resources. Yet meager resources inspire greater entrepreneurial ingenuity, and a few years ago a German company figured out a method by which to produce cheese from camel milk. A miracle for the unfortunate people of Mauritania? Not quite. The European Commission did not approve the new product. The reason: there were no regulations in place for camel-based products.
There was a time when regulation was an institution whose purpose was to put limits on an otherwise boundless liberty. Basically, as long as there was no regulation forbidding you to do something, it was allowed. In the absence of regulation, there was no question whether something was permitted or not. The absence of regulation just meant that the thing was permitted.
What the European Commission's ruling betrays is a worrying movement toward reversal of that natural order. In the minds of many, especially in continental Europe, regulation has slowly become the default state of affairs. To this way of seeing things, the absence of regulation does not amount to freedom, but to moral and legal limbo: we are to await the regulating bodies' decision whether or not to grant us the freedom in question.
When the state of default regulation obtains, the institution of regulation doesn't function merely as a stop sign for liberties. It is cast as creator of liberties. There are no liberties other than the ones bestowed by the regulator. In its hands, the regulator holds a fund of liberties, which it is its burden to distribute to us according to whatever standards it sees fit.
There is an even bigger issue here, and it concerns nothing less than the essence of liberty. It is best brought out by considering the distinction, originally due to the British philosopher Isaiah Berlin, between negative and positive freedoms. A negative freedom is a freedom from, whereas a positive freedom is a freedom to. For instance, freedom from being forced to get your neighbor ice cream is a negative freedom; freedom to get your neighbor ice cream is a positive freedom.
In the liberal-political tradition, the essence of liberty consists in an open-ended horizon of negative freedoms. Man is deemed free to do as he pleases as long as he does not infringe on the (equally valued) liberty of others. By contrast, in the socialist tradition, a man's liberty is conceived as essentially a bundle of positive freedoms. We are free to do whatever the government allows us to do. The government may make generous allowances, but unless it does, we have no freedoms we can rightfully call our own.
It is by this piece of conceptual trickery that the notion of liberty could so readily be perverted by Marx and Lenin that they could claim to promote people's freedom: under their regime, they promised, the guy on the street would be free to go get ice cream instead of going to work.
The positive conception of liberty always had a stronger footing on the European continent than in the Anglo-Saxon world. Thankfully, the negative conception of liberty is deeply entrenched in the American political culture. It is effectively set in stone in the United States Constitution. From the very opening sentence of the Constitution, it is clear that its framers were of the opinion that freedoms were not created out of thin air by governments' decrees, but existed prior to -- and independently of -- governments themselves.
All is not safe in America, however. Justice Stephen Breyer's recent book, Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution, attempts to make the patently implausible argument that the Constitution was actually framed with positive liberty in mind. This proposition is belied, if by nothing else, by the simple text of the Ninth Amendment:
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
Justice Breyer's book has been celebrated on the left as the long overdue counterweight to the sort of sustained, systematic legal philosophy that Justice Antonin Scalia brought with him to the court. And at some places, it does press Scalia's originalist position, such as on the point that the originalist dictum is not itself enshrined in the Constitution. But how it could accommodate even this slim yet straightforward bit of text remains something of a mystery.
More deeply, the book is written in the tradition, hailing chiefly from the legal thought of John Hart Ely, that undermines the negative conception of liberty upon which our Founding Fathers wisely and soundly framed the US Constitution. It embodies the outlook under which banana puree must remain illegal as long as the government cannot determine whether it is jam or jelly. Still thankfully, however, America's political culture doesn't yet seem to have place for such fanciful absurdities."
NEW YORK — The scandal engulfing the United Nations Procurement Department (search) now appears to be bottomless. It also shows signs of growing more sinister, especially where it involves a mysterious private company called IHC Services (search), which did big business with the procurement department until it was removed from U.N. rosters in June.
New details of how dark the scandal could prove to be have emerged from the private sale of IHC on June 3, 2005, just as the procurement scandal was about to break. It now appears that while doing business with the U.N., IHC had links both to Saddam Hussein’s old sanctions-busting networks, and to a Liechtenstein-based businessman, Engelbert Schreiber, Jr., known among other things for his ties to a figure designated by the U.N. itself as a financier of Al Qaeda (search).
Registered in New York State, with offices in New York City and Milan, IHC has been involved in possibly hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of business with the U.N. since the mid-1990s, serving both as a direct supplier and as a go-between for a wide variety of other contractors. This work has included IHC’s signing or helping to broker contracts for supplies ranging from portable generators to rations for U.N. peacekeeping troops in such trouble spots as West Africa and the Middle East.
IHC came under public scrutiny this summer, after FOX News broke the story on June 20 that IHC had maintained especially close ties with Alexander Yakovlev (search), a Russian official in the U.N. procurement department, who while handling an IHC contract with the U.N. had obtained a job for his son with the company, and had also been channeling funds to a secret offshore bank account.
Yakovlev resigned two days after the story broke. On August 8, he was accused by Paul Volcker’s U.N.-authorized probe into the Oil-for-Food scandal of taking more than $950,000 in bribes on $79 million worth of U.N. contracts. Yakovlev pleaded guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to charges of corruption, and he became a cooperating witness in the continuing federal investigation that last month led to the indictment of Vladimir Kuznetsov, head of the U.N. budget oversight committee. Kuznetsov says he is innocent.
Amid all this, one of the big mysteries has been: Who were the people who owned IHC? The answer still lies hidden behind a maze of front companies and affiliations that zig-zag from New York to Milan to the financial havens of Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. But from documents finalizing the sale of IHC on June 3, 2005, some further details can be gleaned.
Corporate board minutes of IHC, obtained by FOX News, had mentioned a “sole shareholder” of IHC. The sole shareholder, according to the June sales documents on IHC, turns out to have been an even more mysterious company called Torno S.A.H. (search), based in the financial haven of Luxembourg. And Torno, in turn, had two major shareholders who approved the sale of Torno’s 100% interest in IHC. One of these shareholders was a Milan-based businessman, Dario Fischer (search), a director of IHC since at least 1996, who at the time of the sale was chairman of the board.
The other shareholder in Torno S.A.H., who gave his proxy to Fischer to approve the sale, was a man named Engelbert Schreiber, Jr. (search) He has been linked, either directly or through father-son family business, to a number of Liechtenstein enterprises affiliated at various times from the 1970s through at least the year 2000 with Ahmed Idris Nasreddin (search), a man designated as a terrorist financier by the U.S. and U.N. shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.
A naturalized Italian citizen, Nasreddin operated for decades out of Milan and Lugano, Switzerland, both as a businessman and a member of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood, some elements of which morphed into Al Qaeda. In 2002, Nasreddin, along with a number of his enterprises, landed on the U.N.’s list of individuals or entities “belonging to or affiliated with Al Qaeda.” He is now believed to be in Morocco.
The Schreiber father-son connections with Nasreddin are labyrinthine, but they are a subject familiar to trackers of terrorist money. Engelbert Schreiber, Sr. (search), served from the 1970s through the 1990s in a variety of legal capacities on a number of Nasreddin-related enterprises registered in Liechtenstein. The name of Schreiber Jr., -- who cast his proxy this June in the sale of IHC -- appeared in the year 2000 on Liechtenstein registry documents of the Wahda Charitable Foundation, which had Nasreddin on its board of directors, and in 1993 on the Liechtenstein registry documents of the Nasreddin Charitable Foundation. In both cases, Schreiber Jr. was named as liquidator, which in Liechtenstein tends to entail significant discretionary powers.
Both Schreibers, father and son, have been named among the defendants in a 9/11 lawsuit brought in 2003 by the estate of former FBI counter-terrorism expert John O’Neill, who died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The lawsuit alleges that, according to Liechstenstein official documents, one of Schreiber’s businesses, Schreiber and Zindel, was “a legal entity involved in money laundering activities on behalf of Al Qaeda.” That suit is now pending a motion to dismiss.
In a sworn declaration pertaining to this lawsuit, signed May 20, 2005, Schreiber Jr. attested that while he visited the U.S. on a number of occasions between 1988 and 1998, he has never done business either directly or through an agent in the U.S. IHC sales documents show that two days earlier, on May 18, he had given his proxy to Fischer, in Milan, to approve Torno’s sale of New York-registered IHC.
Schreiber also had a link to the U.N. Oil-for-Food program in Iraq, as a legal representative of a Liechtenstein-based company called Napex, which was among those approved by the U.N. to buy oil from Saddam’s regime under the 1996-2003 relief program. A report released last year by CIA chief weapons inspector Charles Duelfer alleged that Saddam’s regime allocated oil to be sold to Napex in 2002, shortly before Saddam's government fell. There is no public evidence that this oil was actually shipped.
IHC itself turns out to have a connection with Saddam’s former networks by way of a shipping company based in Jordan, Petra Navigation Group (search), which advertises itself on its Web site as IHC’s agent in the Middle East, and has also been a registered vendor to the U.N. since mid-2003. That’s a big change from Petra Navigation’s earlier history; from 1991 to 1994, the U.S. Treasury placed Petra Navigation on the blacklist of firms blocked from doing business with the U.S. on grounds of sanctions-busting activities related to Iraq.
In 1994, Treasury lifted the block on Petra Navigation’s offices in Egypt and Jordan, but Petra Navigation’s office in Baghdad is still on Treasury’s blacklist “on account of claims involving Iraq,” according to the Treasury order maintaining the designation. Asked repeatedly by FOX News to explain these connections and circumstances, Petra Navigation did not respond.
The timing of Petra Navigation’s arrival on the U.N. Procurement Department vendor list raises questions about whether IHC might have been involved in Petra’s approach to the U.N. Petra Navigation was registered on the U.N.’s list of approved vendors on June 27, 2003. Less than a month later, on July 10, 2003, Petra signed an agreement to act as IHC’s “exclusive” agent in the Middle East, according to a notice posted as recently as this week on Petra Navigation’s English-language web site.
Both IHC and another of its business partners, Eurest Support Services (search), both now the subject of various probes, have recently disappeared from the U.N. registered vendor list. Petra Navigation is still on it.
What exactly these connections amount to, or how IHC came to occupy its special niche with the U.N. procurement department, is not clear. But it seems IHC changed character following an earlier change of ownership in the late 1980s. The company was founded in the U.S. in 1944 under the name of International Manufacturing and Equipment Company (search), or IMECO, as a small business dealing mainly in spare parts for construction and mining. In 1988, IMECO, merged with another U.S. company, Hofortech (search), to become IHC.
According to the then-owner, Ernest Ulrich, interviewed by phone recently in New York, IHC soon after the 1988 merger was bought out by a big construction company that Ulrich remembers as based in Milan. Ulrich says that under his ownership, IHC had done no business with the U.N. He says he continued working for the company for a few years after he sold it, then left in the early 1990s and has had nothing to do with it since. Ulrich does not recall any entity such as the Torno SAH in Luxembourg that had evidently acquired control by the time of this year’s sale of IHC.
There is a large international construction firm in Milan with a strikingly similar name to that of Torno S.A.H. – the Milanese company being Torno S.P.A (search). FOX News has not found any direct connection between the Torno SPA in Milan and the Torno SAH in Luxembourg. Torno S.P.A. in Milan did not respond to repeated queries, nor did IHC’s current chief executive officer, Ezio Testa, who has worked in IHC’s New York office for years.
FOX News has, however, come across one indirect link between Torno S.P.A. in Milan and IHC – via the name Angelo Simontacchi (search), a man who served in 1996 on IHC’s board of directors, according to IHC board minutes. According to another set of documents obtained by FOX News, there was an Angelo Simontacchi who, on behalf of Torno S.P.A. in Milan, signed a contract in 1984 enlisting the consulting services of another firm, Dumyntha Co. Inc, based in Lugano, Switzerland, to help bid on work for Saddam Hussein’s Ministry of Trade, related to a Baghdad trade fair in pre-sanctions Iraq. Queries to Torno SPA about Simontacchi also went unanswered.
By 1997, Simontacchi had left the IHC board, but another man with ties to Iraq had signed on as an IHC director. He was Giandomenico “Gianni” Picco (search), a veteran of many years on the U.N. staff, but at that time working in the private sector. Picco, who hails from Milan, had worked for the U.N. from 1973-1992, helping in the late 1980s to negotiate an end to the Iran-Iraq war. In 1992, just before leaving the U.N., Picco had also led a round of the early negotiations with Saddam’s regime over setting up the U.N. Oil-for-Food program in Iraq.
Later that same year, Picco left the U.N. and founded his own private consulting business, New York-based GDP Associates. According to a report by U.S. Senate investigators, Picco on a number of occasions from 1997-2003 was consulted by an American oilman doing business under Oil-for-Food, David Chalmers — who was indicted in April for allegedly paying kickbacks to Saddam’s regime. Chalmers has pleaded not guilty.
Picco’s arrival on IHC’s board came at roughly the same time that IHC appears to have first established ties to the U.N. On Dec. 22, 1996, according to the U.N., the company was registered on the U.N. Procurement Department’s list of approved vendors. That was the same month that the U.N. Oil-for-Food program began operation in Iraq.
From 1998 until at least February, 2000, Picco went on to serve as chairman of the board of IHC Services. During that time, in August 1999, he accepted an overlapping appointment by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to serve as a U.N. undersecretary-general and personal representative for Annan, starting in August, 1999, working on a project called the Dialogue of Civilizations. That project has ended, but Picco is currently a special adviser to Annan, with a contract in force until 2006.
In June of this year, as the procurement scandal broke, and shortly after IHC was sold, the U.N. quietly suspended IHC from its list of approved vendors. But that has only drawn another curtain of secrecy over the issue.
Behind this maze the question still looms: Who during IHC’s seven years doing business with the U.N. was the real beneficial owner of this mysterious company? Liechtenstein figures such as Engelbert Schreiber, Jr. make most of their living by serving as stand-ins for others in one of the world’s most important centers of false-front corporate affairs. In an attempt to discover the real owner, FOX News has queried, among others, various former and current officers of IHC, including Picco, as well as Schreiber and Petra Navigation. None of these has responded.
At the U.N. itself, a spokesman says, “Current practice is that the names of beneficial owners of companies are not requested.” That practice, adds the spokesman, “is now under review.”
The media version of the CIA leak case is that the White House illegally revealed a CIA employee’s identity because her husband, Joseph Wilson, was an administration critic.
But former prosecutor Joseph E. diGenova says the real story is that the CIA “launched a covert operation” against the President when it sent Wilson on the mission to Africa to investigate the Iraq-uranium link. DiGenova, a former Independent Counsel who prosecuted several high-profile cases and has extensive experience on Capitol Hill, including as counsel to several Senate committees, is optimistic that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will figure it all out.
DiGenova tells this columnist, “It seems to me somewhat strange, in terms of CIA tradecraft, that if you were really attempting to protect the identity of a covert officer, why would you send her husband overseas on a mission, without a confidentiality agreement, and then allow him when he came back to the United States to write an op-ed piece in the New York Times about it.”
That mission, he explained, leads naturally to the questions: Who is this guy? And how did he get this assignment? “That’s not the way you protect the identity of a covert officer,” he said. “If it is, then [CIA director] Porter Goss is doing the right thing in cleaning house” at the agency.
If the CIA is the real villain in the case, then almost everything we have been told about the scandal by the media is wrong. What’s more, it means that the CIA, perhaps the most powerful intelligence agency in the U.S. Government, was deliberately trying to undermine the Bush Administration’s Iraq War policy. The liberals who are anxious for indictments of Bush Administration officials in this case should start paying attention to this aspect of the scandal. They may be opposed to the Iraq War, but since when is the CIA allowed to run covert operations against an elected president of the U.S.?
DiGenova first made his astounding comments about the Wilson affair being a covert operation against the President on the Imus in the Morning Show, carried nationally on radio and MSNBC-TV. I wondered whether these serious charges would be refuted or probed by the media. Imus, a shock jock who has spent several days grieving and joking about the death of his cat, didn’t grasp their significance. But the mainstream press didn’t seem interested, either.
DiGenova told me he believes there has been a “war between the White House and the CIA over intelligence” and that the agency, in the Wilson affair, “was using the sort of tactics it uses in covert actions overseas.” One has to consider the implications of this statement. It means that the CIA was using Wilson for the purpose of undermining the Bush Administration’s Iraq policy.
If this is the case, then one has to conclude that the CIA’s covert operation against the President was successful to a point. It generated an investigation of the White House after officials began trying to set the record straight to the press about the Wilson mission. At this point, it’s still not clear what if anything Fitzgerald has on these officials. If they’re indicted for making inconsistent statements about their discussions with one another or the press, that would seem to be a pathetically weak case. And it would not get to the heart of the issue—the CIA’s war against Bush.
One of those apparently threatened with indictment, as Times reporter Judith Miller’s account of her grand jury testimony revealed, is an agency critic named Lewis Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Miller said that Libby was frustrated and angry about “selective leaking” by the CIA and other agencies to “distance themselves from what he recalled as their unequivocal prewar intelligence assessments.” Miller said Libby believed the “selective leaks” from the CIA were an attempt to “shift blame to the White House” and were part of a “perverted war” over the war in Iraq.
Wilson was clearly part of that war. He came back from Niger in Africa and wrote the New York Times column insisting there was no Iraqi deal to purchase uranium for a nuclear weapons program. In fact, however, Wlson had misrepresented his own findings, and the Senate Intelligence Committee found there was additional evidence of Iraqi attempts to buy uranium.
DiGenova raises serious questions about the CIA role not only in the Wilson mission but in the referral to the Justice Department that culminated in the appointment of a special prosecutor. At this point in the media feeding frenzy over the story, the issue of how the investigation started has almost been completely lost. The answer is that it came from the CIA. Acting independently and with great secrecy, the CIA contacted the Justice Department with “concern” about articles in the press that included the “disclosure” of “the identity of an employee operating under cover.” The CIA informed the Justice Department that the disclosure was “a possible violation of criminal law.” This started the chain of events that is the subject of speculative news articles almost every day.
The CIA’s version of its contacts with the Justice Department was contained in a 4-paragraph letter to Rep. John Conyers, ranking Democratic Member of the House Judiciary Committee. Conyers and other liberal Democrats had been clamoring for the probe.
DiGenova doubts that the CIA had a case to begin with. He says he would like to see what sworn information was provided to the Justice Department about the status of Wilson’s CIA wife, Valerie Plame, and what “active measures” the CIA was taking to protect her identity. The implication is that her status was not classified or protected and that the agency simply used the stories about her identity to create the scandal that seems to occupy so much attention these days.
But if the purpose was not only to undermine the Iraq War policy but to stop the administration from reforming the agency, it hasn’t completely worked. Indeed, the Washington Post ran a long story by Dafna Linzer on October 19 about the “turmoil” in the agency as personnel either quit or are forced out by CIA Director Goss. Like so many stories about the CIA leak case, this story reflected the views of CIA bureaucrats who despise what Goss is doing and resist supervision or reform of their operations.
Members of the press do not want to be seen as too close to the Bush Administration, but acting as scribblers for the CIA bureaucracy, which failed America on 9/11, is perfectly acceptable.
DiGenova’s comments might be dismissed as just the view of an administration defender. But his comments reflect the facts about the case that emerged when the Senate Intelligence Committee conducted an independent investigation. Wilson, who became an adviser to the Kerry for President campaign, had claimed his CIA wife had no role in recommending him for the trip, but the committee determined that was not true. Why would Wilson misrepresent the truth about her if the purpose were not to conceal the curious nature of the CIA role and its hidden agenda in his controversial mission? And who in the CIA besides his wife was behind it?
In this regard, Miller’s account of her testimony to the grand jury disclosed that Fitzgerald had asked whether Libby had complained about nepotism behind the Wilson trip, a reference to the role played by Plame. This is the line of inquiry that could lead, if Fitzgerald pursues it, to unraveling the CIA “covert operation” behind the Wilson affair. There may be rogue elements at the agency who are conducting their own foreign policy, in contravention of the official foreign policy of the U.S. Government elected by the American people. Like it or not, Bush is the President and he is supposed to run the CIA, not the other way around.
Fitzgerald has the opportunity to break this case wide open. Or else he can take the politically correct approach, which is popular with the press, and go after administration officials.
One irony of the case is that Miller is under strong attack by the left as an administration lackey when she didn’t even write an article at the time noting Libby’s criticisms of the CIA and the Wilson trip. Did her “other sources,” perhaps in the CIA, persuade her to drop the story? We may never know because she claims that she got Fitzgerald to agree not to question her about them. But what she did eventually report, after spending 85 days in jail, amounts to an exoneration of the Bush Administration. Libby, Karl Rove and others obviously believed they could not take on the CIA directly but had to get their story out indirectly through the press. They got burned by Miller and other journalists.
Goss’s CIA house-cleaning, of course, has come too late to save the administration from being victimized in the Wilson/Plame affair. Some officials could get indicted because of faulty or inconsistent memories. It is also obvious that liberal journalists are so excited over possible indictments of Bush officials that they are willing to overlook the agency’s manipulation of public policy and the press. But if the CIA has been out-of-control, subverting the democratic process and undermining the president, the American people have a right to know. If Fitzgerald doesn’t blow the whistle on this, the Congress should hold public hearings and do so.
Cliff Kincaid is Editor of the AIM Report."
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Ryan Mauro, the 19-year-old author of Death to America: The Unreported Battle of Iraq and the youngest hired geopolitical analyst in the country. He is an analyst for Tactical Defense Concepts and Northeast Intelligence Network and is the owner of WorldThreats.com. He will be speaking at the 2006 Intelligence Summit on his work in open-source intelligence.
Mauro: Thank you for having me.
FP: You are quite a young fellow. It is quite exceptional for a 19-year-old to be an expert in geopolitical affairs. What got you involved in your work?
Mauro: Due to a visual disability of mine, I couldn't play sports as a kid. So with my time I read a lot and then around age 11 or 12, I got my first computer, which was around the time of the bombing of Iraq in December 1998. It started my interest in geopolitical affairs, even though my parents were not political. I can remember in 2000 not knowing the candidates involved in the race, but knowing the locations of all the Middle Eastern countries.
FP: I want to talk to you today about what your sources reveal about the Saddam-Al Qaeda connection, WMDs in Iraq under Saddam, and the Syrian-Iranian connection to the terrorism in Iraq. But first, let’s talk about the referendum in Iraq the other day and the high-voter turnout. This is quite a devastating blow to the terrorists isn’t it?
Mauro: This is a disaster for the terrorists. Lots of critics in the mainstream media pointed to the delays in writing the constitution and bickering, but no where else in the Arab world can such bickering occur. And you can bet that the Iraqis and the region as a whole noticed that.
Despite the mainstream media trying to make it seem like the Sunnis voted en bloc to oppose the referendum, that simply isn't the case. The constitution almost certainly passed by a fair margin in at least two Sunni-dominated provinces.
The mainstream media is overly negative and pessimistic, but even they can't hide the fact that the Sunnis are now greatly divided -- with a large portion recognizing they need to trade in their weapons for a voting ballot. In my book, I show how the mainstream media's reports immediately after World War Two, during the reconstruction of Germany, mirrors today's reporting about Iraq. Unstoppable guerrilla war, the Germans are turning towards anti-American ideologies, widespread looting, the Germans and Europeans as a whole have turned on us, etc. I think the similarities are incredible.
FP: OK, tell us what your intelligence sources are saying about the terrorist activity in Iraq.
Mauro: From open-source information and my own sources, it's clear that the survival of the insurgency depends on Syrian and Iranian support. The commanders for the Baathists, particularly Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, operate from Syria and train operatives in Aleppo. The insurgents, even if most are Iraqis, rely upon these state sponsors.
While pro-Iran elements like Moqtada al-Sadr take headlines, most Shiites do not want a theocratic state. Even Iranian-backed elements like the Badr Brigades (although some members may participate in the insurgency) and the Dawa Party, which Ibrahim Jafaari is part of, do not seem to be stifling democracy. At least, if that is their intent, they aren't doing a very good job as the referendum on the constitution has just shown.
FP: What do you know about Saddam’s pre-war ties to Al-Qaeda?
Mauro: My book compiles all the evidence available that demonstrates Iraq worked with Al-Qaeda on all levels.
In the 1980s, Saddam regularly sponsored Palestinian groups and Iraqi intelligence even poisoned Israeli oranges that they exported to Europe, an obvious economic assault. After the Gulf War, Hasan al-Turabi, the spiritual leader of Sudan, helped bring all sorts of Islamic groups together--this included the Iraqis and Osama Bin Laden. It was a time of great reconciliation. Iraq and Iran began burying the hatchet, and Sudan became a base for cooperation.
The Iraqi Intelligence Service deputy director Farouq Hijazi met with Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of Egyptian Islamic Jihad who would eventually become the second-in-command and "brains" of Al-Qaeda. According to Iraqi intelligence documents, Bin Laden "also requested joint operations against foreign forces." It should also be mentioned that a group now closely tied to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi began cooperation with the Iraqis at this time.
Cooperation from the mid-1990s up until the war steadily increased, eventually culminating in Iraqi training of Al-Qaeda members in document forgery, bomb production, WMD development, and other activity. On more than one occasion, the Iraqis would go on alert and then an Al-Qaeda terrorist attack would be attempted. Iraq would also actively work with Al-Qaeda (and Syrian intelligence) to prepare the guerrilla war we're facing today.
I'm aware of new evidence that Iran played a direct role in 9/11 and sponsoring Al-Qaeda and this is not contradictory. In fact, documents brought to light by Ken Timmerman show that Imad Mughniyah of Hezbollah, high-level Iranian officials, high-level Iraqi intelligence officials and high-level Al-Qaeda operatives met in Iran in October 2001. So Bin Laden relied on several avenues of support, which made sense, as this meant he couldn't be held down by one state's interests.
FP: Your book also shows how Saddam moved his WMDs into other countries. Can you give us a summary of the evidence?
Mauro: Saddam passed his WMDs into other countries long before Operation Iraqi Freedom began. Iraq's WMDs have long been, all the way back to the 1990s, connected to other state's WMD programs. By the late 1990s, a great part of Iraq's nuclear program was based in Libya as a joint project. Iraqi WMD would be routinely moved in and out of Syria to avoid inspections.
So the fact that Syrian defectors, Iraqi scientists and foreign intelligence sources indicate the WMD was moved to Syria, Lebanon, Libya and Iran is not surprising at all. American satellites saw traffic moving from Iraq into Syria between January 2003 and the war's beginning, and at this time the Iraqi border guards were replaced with Iraqi intelligence. Iran has even taken in some Iraqi chemical and biological weapons equipment, just like they took in Iraqi aircraft in 1991.
FP: How would you rate the intelligence community's performance before and during the War on Terror?
Mauro: I will be speaking at the 2006 Intelligence Summit on open-source intelligence. I believe that open-source intelligence has been ignored and that intelligence analysts tend to live in a bubble of classified information, ignoring media reports. There seems to be some hostility to civilian input. I am a volunteer for the Northeast Intelligence Network and in one incident, we were passing some great information along to a CIA contact that we gathered from some online communication by self-proclaimed jihadists. The CIA contact refused to pass the information along, saying that he'd then be expected from then on to provide such high-quality information.
We haven't been attacked in a major way on our soil for four years. To that end, we need to give our intelligence community some credit. However, at the same time, there is one other issue that bothers me. Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, the intelligence community abandoned the idea that terrorism was state-sponsored. And they also adopted this notion that terrorists of different types won't cooperate. Common sense shows this isn't true--in Iraq we see Zarqawi working with Baathists, Shiite Iran is harboring Wahhabist Al-Qaeda, Shiite Hezbollah works with Sunni Hamas, Athiest North Korea works with radical Islamic Iran. It's basically like saying that, and I'm not trying to put them on the same level as terrorists, that Catholics and Protestants won't unite to fight gay marriage or abortion.
FP: How about the cleavages between the terrorists? How can we help drive a deeper wedge between them and fragment their cause? The Zawahiri letter told us a lot in this department, what is your angle on it?
Mauro: The Zawahiri letter is just another pessimistic letter in the latest stream. Even back in February 2004, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was sending desperate letters that were blatantly pessimistic and the situation for us in Iraq was enormously worse back then.
I don't think we need to do anything to fragment their cause, their doing a fine job themselves. By attacking other Muslims, Zarqawi is angering Zawahiri, who points to the fact that Iran is holding many Al-Qaeda members and he must consider that before launching some attacks. By focusing attacks on Iraqis, the terrorists are making the Iraqis more and more hateful of them. Al-Qaeda is making us more and more friends, and I'm not even sure if they realize it. When the insurgents don't have an alternate platform, they're exposed for what they really are---illogical mass murderers that will never stop.
Yes, the Iraqis have animosity towards Coalition forces because a) we're occupying their country which never can feel good and b) we're unable to stop the insurgency. I've had several Iraqis tell me this exact question: "You've put a man on the moon, but why can't you get my electricity working? You're a superpower but how come you won't crush these insurgents?"
FP: You have done some impressive scholarship on Russia's "hidden hand" in Iraq. Can you give us a glimpse into this reality?
Mauro: Look, on the one hand, it is clear that we can cooperate with the Russians on some levels, but we need to be very wary. Don’t fool yourself, they are the ones arming Syria, Iran, and China. In my book, I chronicle how deeply involved Russia was in helping Saddam Hussein on many levels. The Russians, as part of their geopolitical strategy and because of the oil they got from Iraq, helped him at every end.
FP: Overall, how would you characterize this terror war? What is it really about?
Mauro: I disagree with the notion that this is simple an ideological war or an unwinnable war against an immoral tactic of terrorism. I see countries as being responsible for allowing the terrorist threat to live, and these countries need to be dealt with, which can be done with various methods. Terrorists can't operate if their ideology isn't bankrolled by Saudi Arabia or other host countries. They can't operate if they aren't given safe haven. They can't operate without training. The best way to win the ideological part of the war is by having democracy win in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only way to win the more military end of the war is by cutting off support from the remaining state sponsors and there's several ways to do that, short of war, that we aren't doing.
FP: So what must the U.S. do to win this terror war?
Iraqi WMD expertise and hundreds of officials are in Syria, and even some are in Iran.
The head of Saddam's long-range ballistic missile program is believed to be in Iran and Syrian defectors and opposition sources have identified sites where Iraqi scientists are at work inside Syria. They not only imported Iraqi regime elements but actively use them to fight against Middle Eastern democracy.
Iran is even cooperating with Sunnis and Baathists. I describe in my book several examples where Iranian intelligence worked alongside Baathist insurgents or even recruited Baathists to conduct attacks. Hezbollah militants have been arrested for participating in attacks not only on Americans but on Spanish soldiers as well. Iranian intelligence is even involved in attacks on Shiites. The insurgency though, is led by Baathists and they operate from Syria. Few people seem to recall when in spring 2003, the Bush Administration publicly condemned Syria for harboring these figures. After intense pressure, suddenly Coalition forces began capturing dozens of Iraqi officials on their way out of Syria. Even Qusay and Uday, and quite possibly Saddam, all stayed in Syria for a period of time after the war began.
Our allies in this War on Terror may not always have capitols or have borders. Our allies are going to be the people oppressed by the supporters of terrorism and there's no people more ready for change than the Iranians. The Bush Administration seems to be backing sanctions on Iran. There's two school of thoughts here. Either this will cause enough pain in Iran to disable the regime and provoke a popular uprising or the mullahs will have a tight enough hold to stay in power and leave their people suffering (and possibly angry at the West for implementing the sanctions instead of helping them directly).
It is not uncommon to hear Iraqis ask why we won't stop Syria and Iran. Because we just sit by, many question our intentions. Just like in 1991 when we let the Iraqis get massacred after encouraging them to revolt, we're standing by when they accurately feel we could do more.
FP: Ryan Mauro, it was a pleasure speaking with you today. Thank you for all the wisdom you have bestowed here today.
Mauro: Thank you Jamie, my pleasure.
A friend sent this. All who are interested please complete the survey .... they can't read your mind on the issue and need input.
______________________Take the "Secure America's Borders" Survey
Please take a moment now, to complete the SECURITY AND IMMIGRATION SURVEY.
We face a crisis on our southern border.
• Over 330 million non-citizens—tourists, students, workers, and others—cross the border each year.
• We cannot track them all nearly as well as we need to.
• Over 10 million people now live in the United States without proper legal documentation.
• The unprecedented flow of illegal immigrants across our southern border endangers national security and challenges our compassion, but also presents an opportunity to define the future of our country.
Our insecure borders threaten America’s national security.
• Most migrants simply seek better lives for their families.
• But there are those who cross our borders to deal drugs and engage in human trafficking. Some may have links to terrorist groups.
• Without a certain way of keeping track of visitors, we cannot be safe from terrorists.
Stemming the flow of illegal immigration requires better enforcement.
• Unless we have an effective means to enforce immigration laws, reform will do little good.
• If potential border violators know that we will catch them, we can stem the flow of illegal immigrants.
• We must work to improve the personnel, the technology, and the infrastructure which defends our frontiers.
-- We should add 2,000 more patrol agents, investigators, and detention/deportation officers to give us a total of nearly 41,000 people devoted to protecting our border.
-- We need to equip these men and women with better technology: they need more aircraft, better systems for tracking visitors, and more cameras.
-- Finally, we need to build more fences, walls and barriers to stop people from entering the country illegally and more detention beds to hold those who have criminal records.
Immigrants have enriched our culture and we should welcome them. But we also must ensure they absorb America’s values and unique culture.
• We are a nation of immigrants.
• Neither skin color, nor background, nor the language one speaks at home determines a person’s status as an American.
• Instead, our nation is founded on ideals.
• Our adherence to those ideals will define the future of our nation.
• We should respect immigrants’ language of origin, but also ensure they have the opportunity to learn English.
• They should come to preserve and protect the values all Americans hold dear.
• A heritage of liberty is the most valuable gift any nation can bestow upon its new arrivals.
The crisis on our borders challenges our sense of compassion.
• Last year, several hundred people died in the deserts and mountains that separate the Untied States from Mexico.
• Most of those who died perished from exposure and accidents.
• But a significant number—at least 20 on the Arizona border alone—appear to have been intentionally killed by bullets, hanging, or blunt-force trauma.
• We should call for the GAO to investigate border deaths with an eye towards taking action against those who commit these murders.
Iraq will have its new constitution. The transforming intervention led by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair will succeed. The global sweep of bourgeois revolution will continue, centering on Iraq's neighbors: monarchical Saudi Arabia, statist Syria, and theocratic Iran.
But how long will the Western media get the post-9/11 story wrong before they understand that they, the MSM, are a major part of the problem?
For many months, the MSM and their assorted political allies have indoctrinated the world in despicable lies:
· That the Wahhabi terror in Iraq, financed by and recruited among radical Saudis, was an "insurgency" or "resistance" caused by the actions of President Bush.
· That the Sunni Arabs in Iraq backed the alleged insurgency, were uniformly opposed to the constitutional process, and would prevent its completion.
· That anti-Shia blandishments by Saudi and other Sunni rulers would seal Sunni opposition to the new reality in Iraq.
In recent weeks heightened discussion in Washington, and in centers of Islamic debate I visited, such as Jakarta, focused on these claims. Muslims knew the Sunnis would prefer to take advantage of their new right to vote, and would favor a constitutional order in Iraq rather than continued violence. The meddling of the Saudis was considered gross and embarrassing. Muslim leaders I met were more interested in the future of the "Shia-con" phenomenon, i.e. of Iraqi Shias aligned with the U.S. neoconservatives.
What does it mean to be a "Shia-con?" Nothing very different from what it means to be an ordinary neoconservative: bedrock belief in governmental and personal accountability, entrepreneurship, popular sovereignty, and a place for religion in public life. Sunni intellectuals with whom I met pointed out that "neocon" has become a term of abuse in the Muslim world no less than in the West. But when exposed to the foundations of neoconservative thought, they expressed approval.
Nonetheless, moderate Sunni Muslims who tried to tell Western media and government the facts about the probable outcome in the Iraqi constitutional election were ignored. Instead, numerous MSM reporters applied the practice they have pursued since the Sandinista era in Nicaragua: they found radicals and marginal, anonymous grumblers, and presented their clichés as the voice of all Iraqi Sunnis.
Egregious, incorrigible examples of the Stalinist dialectic in the MSM continue even after the Iraq vote. The London Guardian, on Sunday, October 16, published a "news salad," tossed and retossed with vinegar and oil: a sequence of paragraphs seeking to perpetuate the Sunni issue as the sole topic of interest in Iraq. It tried to portray the Sunni vote for the constitution as contributing to further violence in Iraq. The argument, as convoluted as a tantric Yoga exercise, went like this: Sunnis voted, but against the constitution (actually, only some of them voted that way); although they voted in a process to accept the constitution they will not accept it; supposedly, all Sunnis are aggrieved about the share-out of petroleum revenues… blah, blah, blah. A "news salad" is the journalistic equivalent of "word salad:" according to a dictionary, "a jumble of extremely incoherent speech as sometimes observed in schizophrenia."
The pattern is no different from the nonsense reported about Nicaragua, which was supposed to vote for Sandinismo in 1990 but didn't; about Milosevic and his Serbian thugs, who purportedly would fight to the end if confronted by NATO forces, but also didn't; about Saudi women, who supposedly are happy not to drive cars, but aren't.
Regarding the Saudi/Wahhabi utopia, the kingdom south of Iraq still harbors hundreds of clerics inciting violence on the northern side of the border. The sermons of these clerics are posted on websites daily. Some are made public by Western-based Saudi dissidents. But they are mainly ignored by the MSM.
To put it more bluntly, how long will the devotion to disinformation of the MSM continue? Will MSM "journalists" ever be called to account for their consistent misrepresentations?
In dealing with the constitutional process in Iraq, and many other aspects of the present global crisis, Western reporters and commentators should moderate their tendencies towards complicated predictions, especially when they know so little about the religion and culture with which they are dealing. Islam and the Islamic world are much simpler than they think:
· Muslims have middle-class values. Even those who are refugees because of war and terror maintain such attitudes.
· Those who are frustrated in their middle-class ambitions, in such countries as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, may turn to radicalism.
· Most, however, will repudiate extremism in the interest of personal security, which happens to be a fundamental principle of Islamic governance.
These are the lessons of the Iraqi constitutional vote. Now let's have some reporters and commentators put aside their prejudices and start with such simple matters, and learn what they can about them. The result would be no news for Muslims, but might be Pulitzer Prize material in the West. "
Given that the US has suffered under the effects of 9-11 (Clinton turned down extraditing bin Laden - see previous posts) , major business bankruptcies (due to Clinton signing law in 1994 which allowed businesses to overstate assets), three devastating hurricanes, a global war on terror that's been brewing 30 years (which Clinton did NOTHING because it wasn't popular) .... the US has done amazingly well economically under the Bush economic policies.
BTW Clinton didn't balance the budget or create a budget surplus .... the debt ceiling was raised so he perpetuated yet another lie.
"U.S. deficit falls to $319 billion
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Citing a surge in tax revenues, the federal government on Friday posted a deficit of $319 billion in fiscal 2005, down $94 billion from the previous year's record.
Administration officials said the new Treasury figures vindicated President Bush's economic policies.
"Lower taxes and pro-growth economic policies have created millions of jobs and a growing economy has swelled tax revenues over the last year," said Treasury Secretary John Snow, in a printed statement. "While deficits are never welcome, the fact that we finished [fiscal] 2005 with a much lower-than-expected deficit is encouraging news."
Fiscal 2005 ended on Sept. 30.
Critics noted that deficits are expected to persist for years to come and that spending related to Hurricane Katrina is likely to drive up red ink significantly in the current fiscal year.
The deficit was the third-highest on record in dollar terms. As a proportion of the economy, which most economists say is the most relevant measure, the Treasury Department noted that the gap was equal to 2.6% of gross domestic product, slightly above the 40-year average of 2.3%. The 2004 deficit was equal to 3.6% of GDP in fiscal 2004, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The data showed that receipts in fiscal 2005 totaled $2.154 trillion, up from $1.880 trillion the previous year. Spending also rose, with outlays totaling $2.473 trillion in fiscal 2005. Spending totaled $2.293 trillion in 2004. Read the Treasury report.
A Treasury official said the fiscal 2005 budget figures included around $4 billion in hurricane-related spending, a small chunk of the more than $60 billion approved by Congress in the immediate wake of Hurricane Katrina. Most of that spending is expected to take place in fiscal 2006.
The White House's Office of Management and Budget early this year projected the fiscal 2005 deficit would total $427 billion, which would have been a new record in dollar terms. In its last estimate, in July, OMB projected a deficit of $333 billion.
Total 2005 revenues came in $15 billion higher than the OMB's mid-session update in July, with almost $13 billion attributed to higher-than-estimated corporate income tax receipts, the Treasury Department said.
Individual income taxes were $927 billion, around $2 billion less than estimated in the mid-session report.
The size of the federal tab for the post-hurricane cleanup and rebuilding effort is yet to be determined. Some lawmakers have estimated the total bill could top $200 billion, while others have argued it's unlikely to be that high.
Regardless, analysts say the deficit is already likely to climb in fiscal 2006.
Analysts at Credit Suisse First Boston on Friday upped their estimate of the fiscal 2006 deficit by $30 billion, to $395 billion. They now see fiscal 2007 posting a deficit of $477 billion.
Lawmakers return Monday from a weeklong recess. The Senate and House are both scheduled this month to push legislation designed to wring around $35 billion in cuts in mandatory spending programs over the next five years.
The White House repeated it would seek additional cuts.
"We must also redouble our efforts to reduce unnecessary spending elsewhere in the budget to help offset recovery costs and keep us on track of meeting the president's gal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009," said Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua B. Bolten, in a written statement.
Top Republicans have also said they will press ahead with measures designed to extend some of Bush's first-term tax cuts, which would reduce revenues by around $70 billion over the same period.
Economist Kathleen Stephansen of Credit Suisse First Boston argued in a research note that any savings wrung out of mandatory spending programs may be outstripped by larger-than-expected costs of measures already in the pipeline, such as the Medicare prescription-drug benefit that will be fully implemented in 2006.
The Bush administration the deficit will be reduced to $260 billion by fiscal 2009, fulfilling Bush's pledge to halve the gap from the White House's preliminary estimate of a $521 billion deficit in fiscal 2004. The White House's long-term projections, however, don't account for the ongoing costs of military operations in Iraq or Afghanistan and don't estimate total hurricane-related spending.
In September, the government ran a monthly budget surplus of $35.76 billion, up 45% from the same month in 2005 and in line with the forecast from the Congressional Budget Office of $36 billion."
Seems we may be taking the softness of our bathroom tissue for granted.
Publix chain of grocery stores in the southeast sells their own brand of bathroom tissue which has the following printed on the package ...... "Introduced to the US in the mid-19th century, bathroom tissue became accepted when indoor plumbing was introduced. As late as the 1930's it was still being advertised as "splinter-free" - so much for the "good old days."
Splinter free...... Don't even want to go there!!
The charges against Jean-Bernard Merimee (search) are part of France's investigation into the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food investigation. Merimee, who was taken into custody on Monday, is suspected of having received kickbacks in the form of oil allocations from the regime of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein (search), judicial officials said.
Merimee is now the second senior former French diplomat under investigation. A former secretary-general for the French Foreign Ministry, Serge Boidevaix (search), was placed under investigation last month for suspected influence trafficking and corruption in connection with the case.
The United Nations is backing the French investigation.
"We have made it clear that we support the efforts of national authorities who wish to pursue the activies of their own nationals who may or may not have been in involved in the Oil-for-Food program," said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
Magistrate Philippe Courroye, who is leading the French probe, began his work in 2002. In all, 10 French officials and business leaders are suspected of having received oil allocations as kickbacks from Saddam's regime.
Merimee spent Tuesday night in custody, officials said.
Merimee, 68, served as a special adviser to Annan from 1999 to 2002, as ambassador to Italy from 1995-98, and as France's permanent representative to the U.N. from 1991-95.
France's Foreign Ministry distanced itself Wednesday from the former diplomats.
Spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said the probe has "to do with their private activities, begun after their retirement."
He said the ministry reminded them in September 2001 that as former diplomats, they bore "particular responsibilities." The letters also asked them "to make sure that their private activities concerned themselves — and in no case the government."
Merimee and Boidevaix expressed their "full agreement," Mattei said, declining to comment further on the judicial investigation.
The spokesman said he saw "no link" between French diplomats' alleged contacts with Saddam's regime and France's decision not to support the U.S.-led war in 2003 that topped the Iraqi dictator.
"The reasons for which France decided not to participate in the Iraq war were based on our conception of international law, and were amply explained by French political authorities at the time," Mattei said.
French media said alleged French links to the Oil-for-Food (search) affair could harm the country's international reputation.
"France, and its diplomacy, and thus its image, are in the firing line in the great hunt for crooks in the Oil-for-Food scandal," said the left-leaning daily Liberation in an editorial.
The Oil-for-Food program was established in 1996 to provide food, medical supplies and other humanitarian goods for millions of Iraqis trying to cope with U.N. sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The program ended with the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Saddam manipulated the program by essentially selling oil at a reduced rate to favored buyers, who could then turn around and sell the oil at a hefty profit."
In fact, the biggest gainers in last month's election were the new Left party, made up of SPD dissenters and remnants of the former East Germany's communist party. Its main campaign platform was to vigorously defend a decaying social model that makes growth in Germany nearly impossible. That result had a spillover effect in France, where various factions welcomed the success of Germany's hard left. Indeed, failure of the CDU to win a mandate for economic reform has boosted the standing of all Europeans who did not want to push through similar policies. It makes the task for economic reformers throughout the European Union much harder.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who currently holds the rotating EU presidency, hoped that a strong Merkel administration with a sizeable majority could push through unpopular reforms in the Budestag and Bundesrat. Likewise, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who has staked his reputation on reinvigorating the European economy over the next four years, looks increasingly forlorn when announcing new initiatives. He too must have fervently been wishing for a decisive Merkel victory.
One sign of the re-invigoration of the opponents of economic growth came when Commissioner Günter Verheugen, who is in charge of industrial policy, proposed ridding the EU books of a significant number of anti-business laws. He was immediately blocked by the European Parliament. MEPs argued that it was up to them to withdraw proposals and not the Commission. Just as under the Louis XIV of France and the last Chinese emperors, a bureaucrat class is in place that more than anything is interested in preserving its privileges.
Malaise in both Berlin and Brussels can have nothing but an enervating effect on prospects for the European economy. Already suffering from low growth in the 1990s, the central economies of the eurozone have done no better recently than flirt with recession. France is now performing above its recent poor levels, but Germany -- despite being the world's biggest exporter -- lags behind and Italy lurches from crisis to crisis.
Further adding to the sense of gloom is that 2006 will not be a good year for global growth, as oil price rises take their toll on industrial production and expansion in the US slides. There are even new worries that China's massive economic gains will soon slow, thus affecting demand further. This, too, will have a knock-on effect in hurting those economies in Europe that are still performing relatively well.
At a time when Europe needs to find ways to reinvigorate itself, its leaders and electorates have retreated into a fearful cavern, not sure which way to tread in the increasing gloom. And it seems that the last few remaining candles are losing their luster.
THREE SEPARATE FORCES are attacking Congressman Tom DeLay. Outwardly, these forces seem independent. On closer inspection, however, we find that all three have something in common. All have significant links to leftwing billionaire, Democrat kingmaker and convicted insider trader George Soros. (1)
The first of these attackers is Texas prosecutor Ronald Earle, who has indicted DeLay for alleged violations of state campaign finance laws. The second attacker is Republican Senator John McCain, whose Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is probing certain of DeLay's associates for their dealings with Indian casino interests. (2) The third attacker is a network of bogus "ethics watchdog" groups, activist organizations, fundraising groups and paid media hatchet-men, all working together in tight coordination to fan the flames of anti-DeLay hysteria. DeLay calls this network a "leftwing syndicate", but the term "Soros Noise Machine" may describe it more precisely.(3)
All three of DeLay's leading foes have ties to Soros and to his political machine — ties of sufficient strength as to cast doubt on their motivations.
Travis County prosecutor Ronnie Earle has a long history of abusing prosecutorial power in the service of political patrons. (4) His best-known patron is former Texas governor Ann Richards. (5) The Richards family is tightly bound to the Soros machine. Governor Richards was an early champion of Soros' campaign finance reform movement. Her daughter, Cecile Richards, heads America Votes, an umbrella group of leftwing get-out-the-vote organizations which the Soros machine launched and funded in 2003.(6)
Senator John McCain is allied even more closely with Soros. In 1994, Soros and a cabal of leftwing foundations undertook a $140-million crusade to pressure Congress into passing what is now known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) or, more popularly, the McCain-Feingold Act.(7)
McCain rode Soros’ coattails to media celebrity. Campaign finance reform made him the darling of Washington’s press corps. Carrying Soros’ water also brought financial benefits. Soros’ Open Society Institute has donated generously to McCain’s Reform Institute for Campaign and Election Issues. (8)
The Soros Noise Machine
Tom DeLay’s most dangerous and persistent foe is the network of "public interest" non-profit groups and corrupt media hacks which together constitute the Soros Noise Machine. Ronnie Earle and John McCain may or may not succeed in making their charges against DeLay stick. But, as long as Soros and his donor network keep pouring money into the Soros Noise Machine, it will continue pounding DeLay, year after year, with a ceaseless drumbeat of accusations, in the form of books, films, press releases, push polls and TV ad campaigns.
DeLay's most vocal accusers include a cluster of self-styled "ethics watchdog" groups, among which Common Cause, Democracy 21, Public Citizen, Public Campaign and The Campaign Legal Center have special prominence.(9)
All of the above-named groups have received large contributions from Soros' Open Society Institute. Common Cause has received $650,000; Democracy 21, $300,000; Public Citizen, $275,000; and Public Campaign, $1.3 million.(10) The Campaign Legal Center acknowledges on its Web site that it too has received "generous financial support" from the Open Society Institute as well as from other leftwing foundations.
In March of this year, the activist group Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) joined forces with the Public Campaign Action Fund to launch a $75,000 TV ad campaign in targeted Congressional districts, portraying Tom DeLay as corrupt.
Both partners in the anti-DeLay ad campaign have received heavy funding from Soros. CAF — a subsidiary of the Institute for America's Future (IAF) — has received more than $300,000 from Soros’ Open Society Institute. The other partner, the Public Campaign Action Fund, is an affiliate of the afore-mentioned Public Campaign, which has received $1.3 million from Soros.(11)
The propaganda din from Soros-sponsored "watchdog" groups helps feed the ever-hungry media with anti-Delay stories.
The Soros Book Machine
The Soros Noise Machine also struck through an investigative book called The Hammer: God, Money and the Rise of the Republican Congress, written by two Texas journalists named Lou Dubose and Jan Reid.
Co-author Dubose appears as a commentator in the still-unfinished documentary film The Big Buy, in which leftwing filmmakers Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck chronicle Ronnie Earle’s pursuit of Tom DeLay.(12)
Dubose's and Reid's book The Hammer was published in October 2004 by Public Affairs Books of New York, an imprint of The Perseus Books Group, which in turn is owned by Perseus LLC, a merchant bank and fund management company, with offices in New York and Washington, DC.
The chairman and CEO of Perseus LLC, Frank H. Pearl, also happens to be the founder and chairman of Perseus Books. More to the point, Mr. Pearl and Mr. Soros are business partners, whose collaborations include such ventures as Perseus-Soros Management LLC, Perseus-Soros Partners LLC and Perseus-Soros Biopharmaceutical Fund.
Given the close partnership between these two men, we should hardly be surprised to learn that Mr. Pearl's Public Affairs book imprint — the same imprint which published the anti-DeLay title The Hammer — also happens to have published many books by George Soros, including The Crisis of Global Capitalism, Underwriting Democracy, George Soros on Globalization, The Bubble of American Supremacy and the forthcoming George Soros on Freedom.
The money trail strongly suggests that George Soros is implicated in the plot to frame Tom DeLay.
Before we allow a crooked county prosecutor to unseat one of America's valued leaders, it behooves us to investigate further. We must demand of Mr. Soros what he and his hired retainers have long demanded of Tom DeLay — transparency and accountability.
No longer can we allow wealthy puppeteers to manipulate our government from the shadows. It is time to flood those shadows with light.
Older article with precise timeline of bin Laden being offered to Clinton and his turning down the offer.
By Paul L. Williams
© 2005 WorldNetDaily.com
The next terrorist attack on the United States – a "nuclear hell storm" planned for seven major cities – is set to occur this month.
That's the word from al-Qaida.
In a communiqué to Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the top al-Qaida lieutenant in Iraq, mentions the "Great Ramadan Offensive" that will create a "fateful confrontation" with the United States and Israel.
"I think that the plans for the next stage of the jihad has reached you or will reach you in a few days," Zarqawi writes in the letter. "O God, make the plans of Osama come to fruition!"
The communiqué, dated May 30, was intercepted by CIA officials and remains on the Global Information System database that is accessible only to government officials with high-security clearance.
Most U. S. intelligence officials dismissed Zarqawi's letter as wishful thinking until Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's second in command, appeared on al-Jazeera, the official television network of Saudi Arabia, to deliver a message to the American people.
In the message, which was broadcast Aug. 8, al-Zawahiri said: "What you have seen, O Americans, in New York and Washington and the losses you are having in Afghanistan and Iraq, in spite of the blackouts by your media, are only the losses of the initial clashes. ... You will soon experience horrors that will make you forget the horrors you have encountered in Vietnam."
The al-Qaida chieftain went on to say: "Jihadist forces have been established in all of Western Europe to defend the powerless within the nation. For the crimes that the Crusaders have committed against the Muslims will be reaped by Christians and Jews throughout the Western world."
Zawahiri's video messages are viewed by intelligence officials as telling signs that a terrorist attack is imminent. His televised message Sept. 6, 2004, took place before the December 6, 2004, bombing of the U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, while his message of June 17, 2005, preceded the London bombings.
Concerns about an October attack were heightened even more by reports that the radical Islamic community viewed the ravages of hurricanes Katrina and Rita as signs that Allah was pleased with the plans for "the American Hiroshima."
"Allah has punished America with winds and water," one imam is quoted in the GIS report as saying. Another imam reportedly quipped that America, as evidenced by the natural disasters, is "under the curse of the Jews."
Christopher Brown, research associate with the Hudson Institute's Transitions to Democracy project, maintains that the hurricanes have presented al-Qaida with a unique strategic opportunity.
"If this attack is launched soon," Brown said, "the devastation to the American economy alone could easily far exceed that of the September 11 attacks and could be equivalent to the detonation of a small nuclear device on American soil."
Ramadan represents the ninth month of the Islamic year, the month in which the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. According to Muslim tradition, the actual revelation occurred on the night between the 26th and 27th days of the month. On this "Night of Determination," Allah determines the fate of the world for the coming year.
The fate of the world for the next Islamic year, if bin Laden has his way, will include the nuclear destruction of the United States.
Bin Laden has been amassing nuclear weapons and materials since 1992, when he was in the Sudan. This was substantiated by the testimony of al-Qaida officials in federal court during the hearings of "The U.S. v. Osama bin Laden."
When he returned to Afghanistan, bin Laden purchased tactical nuclear weapons from the Chechen Mafia. News of the sale was confirmed by Saudi, Israeli, British, Saudi and Russian intelligence and reported in The Times of London, the Jerusalem Report, Al Watan al-Arabi, Muslim Magazine, Al-Majallah (London's Saudi weekly) and by the BBC.
In 1997, bin Laden made additional small nuclear weapons from materials bought not only from the Chechens but also black market sources in Russia, China, Kazakhstan and the Ukraine.
In 1998, he purchased large quantities of highly enriched uranium from Simeon Mogilevich, a Ukrainian arms dealer. For one delivery of fifteen kilos of uranium-236, Mogilevich was paid $70 million. Bin Laden also purchased several bars of enriched uranium-138 from Ibrahim Abd, an Egyptian arms dealer and several Congolese opposition soldiers.
From 1999 to 2001, bin Laden hired scientists and technicians from the A.Q. Khan Research Facility in Pakistan not only to build new nukes from the highly enriched uranium and plutonium but also to maintain, upgrade, reconfigure, and redesign his "off-the shelf" nukes, including nuclear mines, so that they could be packed into lightweight (less than eight pounds) suitcases and backpacks or molded into warheads that could be launched from 120 or 155 millimeter recoilless rifles.
Upon the arrests of Dr. Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood and Dr. Chaudry Abdul Majid, two top officials from the Khan facility, the CIA discovered that several of bin Laden's tactical nukes had been forward-deployed to the United States from Karachi.
More information concerning al-Qaida's nukes came with the arrest in Pakistan of Sharif al-Masri, a key al-Qaida operative. Al Masri, an Egyptian national with close ties to al-Zawahiri, operative, informed CIA and ISI (Pakistani intelligence) officials that several tactical nukes for use in the American Hiroshima had been forward deployed to Mexico for transportation across the border by members of Mara Salvatrucha ("MS-13"), a Salvadoran street gang.
These developments caused both President Bush and Sen. John Kerry to speak of nuclear terrorism in the 2004 presidential campaign as "the single greatest danger facing the American people," and for Vice President Cheney to say that a nuclear attack from al-Qaeda appears "imminent."
The seven cities targeted by al-Qaida for nuclear destruction are New York, Washington D.C., Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Chicago."
"U.S. Snags Al Qaeda No. 2's Letter to Zarqawi
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