Archive for the ‘Terrorism / Asymmetrical warfare’ Category

Iraq 101: Aftermath – Long-Term Thinking

November 21, 2007

Iraq 101: Aftermath – Long-Term Thinking

March 01 , 2007

   


Has the war in Iraq increased jihadist terrorism? The Bush administration has offered two responses: First, the moths-to-aflame argument, which says that Iraq draws terrorists who would otherwise “be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders,” as President Bush put it in 2005. Second, the hard-to-say position: “Are more terrorists being created in the world?” then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asked at a press conference in September 2006. “We don’t know. The world doesn’t know. There are not good metrics to determine how many people are being trained in a radical madrasa school in some country.”

In fact, as Rumsfeld knew well, there are plenty of publicly available figures on the incidence and gravity of jihadist attacks. But until now, no one has done a serious statistical analysis of whether an “Iraq effect” does exist. We have undertaken such a study, drawing on data in the mipt-rand Terrorism database (terrorismknowledgebase .org), widely considered the best unclassified database on terrorism incidents.

Our study yields one resounding finding: The rate of fatal terrorist attacks around the world by jihadist groups, and the number of people killed in those attacks, increased dramatically after the invasion of Iraq. Globally there was a 607 percent rise in the average yearly incidence of attacks (28.3 attacks per year before and 199.8 after) and a 237 percent rise in the fatality rate (from 501 to 1,689 deaths per year). A large part of this rise occurred in Iraq, the scene of almost half the global total of jihadist terrorist attacks. But even excluding Iraq and Afghanistan—the other current jihadist hot spot—there has been a 35 percent rise in the number of attacks, with a 12 percent rise in fatalities.

Contrary to Bush’s assertion, jihadists have not let the Iraq War distract them from targeting the United States and its allies. The rate of attacks on Western interests and citizens has risen by almost 25 percent, while the yearly fatality rate has increased by 4 percent, a figure that would have been higher had planned attacks, such as the London airline plot, not been prevented.

The globalization of jihad and martyrdom has disquieting implications for American security in the future. Jihadists are already leaving Iraq to operate elsewhere, a “blowback” trend that will greatly increase when the war eventually winds down. Terrorist groups in Iraq, which have learned to raise millions through kidnapping and oil theft, may be in a position to help fund their jihadist brethren elsewhere. Finally, Iraq has increased the popularity of a hardcore takfiri ideology so intolerant that, unlikely as it seems, it makes Osama bin Laden appear relatively moderate.

Though few American civilians have been killed by jihadist terrorists in the past three years, it is naive to assume that this will continue to be the case. We will be living with the consequences of the Iraq debacle for many years.

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Mother Jones’ “Iraq Effect” study was led by Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, research fellows at the Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law.

Read the complete report here.


Iraq’s Newest Export: Refugees

1.6 million Iraqis have been displaced within the country. As many as 1.8 million have left Iraq, with 3,000 fleeing daily. Saudi Arabia is building a 560-mile border fence to keep them out. As many as 700,000 Iraqi refugees now live in Jordan. More than 60,000 live in Sweden. Only 202 were admitted to the United States last year.


Iraq: Before and After

In 2006, 30% of Iraqi children went to school. Before the war, attendance was nearly 100%. A 2006 survey of children in Baghdad found that 47% had recently experienced a major traumatic event; 14% had posttraumatic stress disorder. An American psychiatrist says Iraqis are suffering “epidemic levels of ptsd.” 40% of Iraqi professionals have fled, including 1/3 of all doctors. 2,000 doctors have been murdered since 2003. The number of Iraqis in jail or prison is up 30% since the fall of Saddam Hussein. The president of the Iraqi National Council of Women does not go out without bodyguards. “I started with 6, then I increased to 12, and then to 20 and then 30.” One of the 66 women in the Iraqi Parliament told the UK Observer, “This is the worst time ever in Iraqi women’s lives. In the name of religion and sectarian conflict they are being kidnapped and killed and raped.”

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U.S. Use of Radiological Weapons

August 24, 2007

U.S. Use of Radiological Weapons 

Calls for an International Tribunal

 

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article18242.htm

By Mark H. Gaffney

08/23/07 “ICH” — – In 1991 the US military introduced a new weapon that the people of the world–––with hindsight–––will probably come to view as symbolic of America’s failed leadership after the Cold War. The introduced weapon was a new kind of munition: shells and bullets made from depleted uranium (DU). It turned out to be extremely effective in the first Gulf War against the forces of Saddam Hussein. Unfortunately, the DU weapons also proved nearly as dangerous to our own troops and to Iraqi civilians. The military alliance cobbled together by George Bush Sr. won a decisive victory in that war. But since its conclusion at least 13,000 American veterans have died from DU-related causes, far more than the 148 who died in combat; and of the nearly 700,000 who served in the war at least 250,000 are now (in 2007) permanently disabled; a percentage far higher than in any previous war.[1] Despite this, Pentagon generals continue to insist that DU munitions pose no danger, and  remain committed to their use. Even as I write, the Department of Defense (DoD) moves ahead with research that could lead to the deployment of DU weapons in space.[2]

Yet, a UN Sub-Committee has declared DU weapons illegal, and last November the European Union (EU) issued its fourth call for a DU moratorium. More and more frequently, one hears the charge that America’s use of these weapons in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia was a war crime. In 2004, for example, a citizen’s tribunal in Japan convicted George W. Bush in absentia for crimes against humanity.[3] Is America headed for a showdown with the world over depleted uranium?  

Although hyperbole has muddied the issue, the bare facts are shocking and need no amplification. Depleted Uranium (DU) is primarily U-238, the isotope of uranium that remains after the fissionable isotope, U-235, has been extracted from natural uranium ore. When enriched to 3% the preferred isotope, U-235, is used to fuel nuclear reactors. When further enriched to 90% or more it becomes “weapons grade” and is suitable for use in nuclear weapons. Enrichment thus “depletes” the natural uranium of its isotopic fraction of U-235. Depleted uranium (99.8% pure U-238) is the by-product of this separation process and was long viewed as a waste. Over the years hundreds of thousands of tons of the stuff accumulated on US military reservations. In fact, because of its low-level radioactivity and 4.5 billion-year half-life, DU presents a long-term storage headache.

In the 1970s the US military got serious about utilizing this waste after the Soviets introduced a superior kind of armor. Quite suddenly, the Pentagon found itself in need of a new penetrating weapon. DU offered attractive possibilities because it is extremely dense–––uranium is 1.7 times as heavy as lead. For this reason, tank shells made of U-238 have formidable kinetic energy: they will slice through the heaviest steel armor like the proverbial hot knife through butter. Quite simply, nothing can withstand them.  Although uranium is very soft, when alloyed with titanium it becomes tough enough to retain its shape when fired out of a tank barrel. Today, several companies make DU shells for the US military. These include Starmet Corporation, based in Concord, Massachusetts, and Aerojet, with plants in California and Tennessee. In the 1990s Alliant Techsystems (formerly Honeywell), based in Minneapolis, also produced millions of DU rounds for the US Air Force. In 2006 Alliant also received new orders worth $77 million to produce 120mm tank shells.[4]

In addition to being an extremely effective penetrator, U-238 is pyrophoric, meaning that it ignites at high velocity. When a ten-pound uranium shell slices through a target vehicle it sheds a part of its mass, causing a firestorm of burning and non-burning uranium fragments. These, in turn, cause catastrophic secondary fires and explosions. In war footage of Desert Storm the flaming DU shells can be seen arcing like tracers across the night sky. The slender rounds are solid DU–––no explosive charge is needed. Each has a plastic outer casing known as a sabot, which centers the round in the bore and which falls away after the shell exits the gun tube. The war footage is graphic. It shows that targeted Iraqi vehicles stood no chance. Pity the poor Iraqi soldiers who came under DU attack. Very few lived to tell about it. Within seconds, most were charred beyond recognition in an incendiary fireball. US military jargon even coined a new term, “crispy critters,” to describe the grisly Iraqi corpses of war.

When DU burns it oxidizes, reaching extreme temperatures (i.e., 3,000-5,000 C). On impact, between 40-70% of the depleted uranium is transformed into an aerosol of extremely fine U-238 particles which contaminate the battlefield long after the war. Geiger counter measurements confirm that even years later, burned-out Iraqi tanks were still hot: 1,000-2,000 times as radioactive as background, with the surrounding desert contaminated to a lesser degree.[5] Continuous exposure to this level of irradiation would be like having a chest X-ray every few minutes.[6] U-238 produces high energy gamma and beta radiation (which are electrons). But most of the emission is in the form of alpha particles, which are charged helium nuclei (i.e., He++). The alpha particles cannot penetrate human skin and for this reason the Pentagon claims that DU is harmless. The claim is false, however. As we will see, the dangers have been understated. Artillery and tank crews who handled DU shells were exposed to continuous alpha, beta and gamma radiation over weeks and months. But they probably had less exposure than soldiers who inhaled DU-laden smoke and dust, whether in combat or during clean-up operations after the war. Most US troops were unaware–––no one bothered to inform them–––that the use of DU rounds had spread low-level radioactive waste across the battlefield. After the fighting, tens of thousands of American soldiers frolicked among the burned-out Iraqi tanks, gathering souvenirs and posing for photographs like curious tourists. Others scavenged spare parts from US vehicles contaminated by “friendly fire,” oblivious that they were endangering themselves with every breath. 

The fire at Doha 

The contaminated zones were not limited to Iraq. Large parts of Kuwait were also affected, including the infamous “highway of death” where the US destroyed Saddam’s army as it retreated north out of Kuwait City. Several areas in Saudi Arabia were contaminated before the war during training exercises. There was even a major accidental release after the fighting ended, which I’m going to recount in detail because it illustrates the problems. In July 1991 a fire broke out in a motor-pool at the US base at Doha, north of Kuwait City. The fire started during refueling, and was caused by static electricity. It spread first to parked vehicles and then to a nearby ammunition dump.[7] Witnesses later said that explosions rocked the compound for six hours, scattering unexploded ordnance and debris over much of the 500-acre base. The raging fires destroyed or damaged dozens of buildings and more than 100 vehicles, including several M-1 Abrams tanks fully loaded with DU shells. 

The fire consumed an estimated $14 million in munitions, including 660 120mm DU rounds, about half of which were completely oxidized. A thick fume of black and white smoke reportedly billowed hundreds of feet above the base and drifted east-southeast toward Kuwait City. No warning was ever issued about the toxic danger posed by the DU-laden smoke and ash.[8] After the fire, soldiers worked on the clean up without even face masks or the standard protective clothing required by military regulations.[9]

The scene must have been surreal. Witnesses later reported seeing hundreds of GIs sweeping up the compound with brooms. A team with the equipment used to test for alpha radiation was dispatched to the base, but for reasons that are still unclear no monitoring was ever done. During a December 26, 1999 broadcast of the CBS weekly news show 60 Minutes, Morley Safer reported that CBS had obtained copies of military communications and incident log books which proved that the military was aware of the hazards, yet, failed to follow its own safety protocols. The base remained open despite DU contamination. Many thousands of US soldiers who transited through Doha in the months and years after the fire suffered exposure, as Kuwait’s seasonal wind storms remobilized the DU ash and dust. In fact, the contaminated base remains in operation to this day.

Clean-up? Or Cover-up?

But even if the military had issued respirators at Doha, it’s doubtful they would have protected our soldiers, given the lessons learned during a limited clean-up operation after the war; whose purpose was to dispose of about three-dozen DU-contaminated tanks and vehicles destroyed during “friendly fire” incidents. This limited operation was led by a reservist, Maj. Doug Rokke, a physicist in private life, who says his orders were signed by the field commander, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf.[10]

There were no field manuals. Rokke’s team had to develop the procedures on their own, through trial-and-error. Their first chore was the ticklish one of manually removing the unexploded DU ordnance still on-board the contaminated Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting vehicles. To accomplish this Rokke’s men had to enter and work inside the contaminated vehicles. There was no way to avoid stirring up the DU ash and dust that covered every surface. The men wore standard military-issue face masks, but according to Rokke they were useless. The problem was that the dust came right through the filters. The men lived with the constant metallic taste and smell of uranium oxide. The masks were of the cheapest design, and did not even meet the HEPA standard current in US industry. (HEPA, or High Efficiency Particulate Air filters, remove 99% of dust particles down to .3 microns in size.) Particles of 5 microns or less are breathable. But not even HEPA filters would have afforded full protection because the aerosols produced on impact by DU rounds are loaded with 0.1 micron-sized DU particles, as well as smaller nanoparticles ranging down to .01 microns. No known filter can prevent inhalation of particles of this size. Within 72 hours everyone on Rokke’s team developed skin rashes and began to complain of respiratory problems. 

Although sick, his men persisted. But it took them more than three months just to package 24 contaminated/destroyed vehicles for shipment back to the states. This included 15 Abrams tanks and 9 Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The team left behind a number of more badly contaminated vehicles: buried in a large hole in the desert. The Army spent $4 million to expand a facility in South Carolina for the purpose of decontaminating the returned equipment, but what the Army ended up with was an expensive holding facility: all for a mere 24 vehicles.[11] The US military had no plans at the time, and has no plans today, to clean up the thousands of Iraqi tanks, armored personnel carriers, trucks and other vehicles destroyed in the 1991 war. Later, the Kuwaiti government hired a private contractor, the Halliburton Corporation, to move most of the burned-out hulks in the vicinity of Kuwait City to a dump in the western desert, according to a plan prepared by Rokke and his colleagues. The site became known as the “Bone yard.” Nothing was done for Iraq, however. Untold numbers of contaminated tanks and vehicles still litter the southern part of the country, to this day.

In 1994 Maj. Rokke was named director of the Army’s Depleted Uranium Project, and was tasked to develop a training program to prepare US soldiers to handle DU weapons. Rokke was also assigned to develop environmental clean up procedures. After extensive research, including field trials at the Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) nuclear test site in Nevada, Rokke put together a comprehensive three-tier 40-hour educational program that employed videos and was based on the best available science, including work done by the DoD’s own scientists. Rokke and his team also prepared the reports and documents that became standard Army regulations about how to handle DU.[12] The Pentagon even saw fit to award Rokke two medals for this work. One citation commended him for “meritorious service while assigned as the depleted uranium project leader…Your outstanding achievements have prepared our soldiers for hazards and will have a vast payoff in the health, safety, and protection of all soldiers.”[13]

But the Pentagon never used Rokke’s training program and videos, not even during the run-up to the second Gulf War.[14] Instead, in 1996 Maj. Doug Rokke was fired. Why? Simple: His training program and validating research acknowledged a plain truth that the general staff found politically unacceptable: that once DU is released as an aerosol into the environment it is virtually impossible to clean up. The Pentagon feared and probably still fears that such an admission will fuel opposition to its continued use of DU weapons. As Rokke put it: “They’d wanted ‘proponency’ [sic] for DU weapons, and I was giving them the opposite.”[15]

A notorious 1991 memorandum by Lt. Col. M.V. Ziehmn of the Los Alamos Lab had cautioned the Department of Defense (DoD) that “if no one [i.e., at the Pentagon] makes the case for the effectiveness for DU on the battlefield, DU rounds may become politically unacceptable and thus, be deleted from the arsenal…I believe we should keep this sensitive issue in mind when after-action reports are being written.”[16] Rokke interpreted the memo as an instruction to be less than candid about DU’s health and environmental impact. When he refused, he was terminated.

Rokke and his men paid a heavy price for the service they rendered to the nation trying to clean up the DU mess created during Desert Storm. According to Rokke, almost every member of his 100-man team is now either sick or dead from various diseases, including lymphoma and other cancers.  It’s a charge the Pentagon has denied,[17] but which the affected veterans and their families can easily confirm. Rokke also claims the Veteran’s Administration (VA) refused medical care to his men, even while they were dying; and he further accuses the military of willfully destroying medical records and personnel files to avoid liability. Rokke’s own health was seriously impaired. When the VA finally tested him he learned that he has 5,000 times the permissible level of uranium in his body. Rokke, currently retired/disabled, has endured 18 kidney operations, as well as eye and gastrointestinal surgery, and he continues to have medical problems directly related to his exposure to DU.

The 1999 RAND Study

Even as tens of thousands of veterans became sick after the Gulf War, the Department of Defense stubbornly denied that DU was responsible. Many vets were told they were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The Pentagon took the position that because DU is only 60% as radioactive as natural uranium, it is harmless. After 1999, military spokespersons also frequently cited a study completed that year by the RAND Corporation, which found no evidence of harmful DU exposure during Desert Storm. The RAND team conducted no research of its own. It merely reviewed the peer-reviewed scientific literature on uranium toxicity. As RAND conceded, there were few published DU studies, as most of the early research was driven by the need to establish standards for the uranium milling/mining industry; for which reason most of the literature deals with exposure to natural or enriched uranium. While all uranium is hazardous inside the human body, dust particles of natural unprocessed uranium tend to be less invasive because they are relatively large in size; hence, are not inhaled as easily.[18]  Moreover, the tiny cilia in the bronchial passages are efficient at removing particles of this size during breathing. When swallowed in food or water, natural uranium also tends to pass through the GI tract attached to organic matter without much absorption.[19]

Critics countered that the Pentagon itself funded and even partly staffed the RAND study, for which reason it cannot be regarded as an independent assessment. Critics also pointed out that the RAND report is far from comprehensive. A peace activist named Gretel Munroe identified 70 pertinent scientific papers that RAND failed to consider.[20]

 Some of these were DU studies conducted under contract to various branches of the US military, including a comprehensive DU investigation completed just six months before Desert Storm by none other than the Army itself.[21] This latter study accurately foresaw that the use of DU penetrators in combat would release large amounts of depleted uranium oxides. It noted that DU is a “low-level alpha radiation emitter which is linked to cancer when exposures are internal.” The Army study warned that aerosol exposures to both soldiers and civilians “could be significant with potential radiological and toxicological effects.” It also correctly predicted that exposed soldiers would suffer cancers and kidney problems. The Army’s prescient report acknowledged that “some form of remedial action in a post-combat environment” would be needed after the war, in other words, a clean up. It even warned that the long-term health risks could make the continued use of DU weapons socially and politically unacceptable. How did the Pentagon react to its own study? Simple. By ignoring it; and RAND did likewise. Both also ignored a 1993 study by the US Government Accounting Office (GAO), which concluded that “the health hazards [from DU] occur primarily due to internal exposures. Soluble forms present chemical hazards to the kidneys, while insoluble forms present hazards to the lungs from ionizing radiation, with particle size being an important factor.”[22] Importantly, these studies also acknowledged that exposure to DU particulates is very different from exposure to natural uranium dust, for which reason RAND’s reliance on studies of natural uranium was inappropriate, and its conclusions dubious.

According to the Pentagon, DU is so inert you can eat the stuff without harm. Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Cohen made a statement to this effect in 1996. And while it’s probably true that U-238, if ingested, will pass through the gut like natural uranium, without much absorption, nonetheless, Cohen’s statement ignored the fact that when high-velocity DU shells impact hard objects the DU is transformed into a much more invasive substance. Once aerosolized, DU is loose in the environment and it’s only a matter of time before it finds its way into water and food; in which case, DU particles, due to their small size, are easily absorbable through the intestinal lining. They are even more easily inhaled, and will even pass through the skin, making exposure unavoidable in contaminated areas. Submicron-sized DU particles behave like a gas. They are too small to be removed by the cilia in the bronchioles and have no trouble reaching the tiny alveolar sacs in the lungs. In fact, particles of this size can pass directly into the blood and will cross every blood-barrier in the body. Naomi Harley, one of the authors of the RAND study, demonstrated her ignorance of the serious implications of this size factor in her July 1999 testimony before the Presidential Special Oversight Board, where she stated that DU will not cross the blood-brain barrier.[23] Nonsense. Aerosolized DU particles move with ease into the brain, which, no doubt, explains the many neurological problems reported by Gulf War veterans.[24] DU particles also cross the placenta into the unborn child, which is extremely serious because the fetus is especially vulnerable to both radiological and chemical toxicity. No doubt, this explains the increased level of birth abnormalities reported in the children of Gulf War vets, and the even higher incidence in Iraq, where mothers no longer ask, “Is it a boy, or a girl?, but rather: “Is my baby normal?”[25]

Aerosolized DU is also different from unprocessed natural uranium in another important respect. Under the conditions of extreme temperature and high velocity impact, DU particles are rendered ceramic-like, which makes them insoluble. The body has trouble excreting them, for which reason they tend to persist. This explains why 8-10 years after the war veterans of Desert Storm were still excreting DU in their urine, semen, and even in their sweat.[26] This retention of DU poses serious health risks for a number of reasons: firstly, because radiation, even low-level radiation, is cumulative. In fact, the term “low-level radiation” is a misnomer. It is misleading because it wrongly suggests that low-level radiation is not dangerous. Recent studies show just the opposite: that a low-level alpha source inside the body is even more dangerous per unit of exposure than higher levels of radiation. While it is true that an alpha particle, due to its vastly greater size and mass, does not travel nearly as far as an X-ray, the new research indicates that a single alpha particle can cause 1,000 times as much damage.[27] 

Low-level alpha emission in the lung causes scar tissue and greatly increases the risk of lung cancer. Some of the insoluble DU is also scavenged from the lung into the thoracic lymph nodes, where it damages the immune system and also causes lymphoma and leukemia. Many DU nano-particles are also absorbed into the blood and transported via cholesterol and lipids throughout the body. Some DU is excreted by the kidneys, but not all. Much of it accumulates in organs, tissues and bones, and even in human semen. In fact, DU’s affinity for the sexual organs is an especially serious problem because DU is known to cause chromosomal damage, thus burdening future generations with birth abnormalities. The problem is a double whammy: DU is a mutagen due to its radiological properties, and also due to its chemical properties because it is a heavy metal. It turns out that uranium has a chemical affinity for phosphate. Diane Stearns, a biochemist at Northern Arizona University, recently showed that when living cells are exposed to uranium the uranium binds to the phosphate structure in the DNA and causes mutations from chemical effects, quite apart from the radioactive properties.[28]

Finally, new research indicates that DU’s radiological and chemical effects are not additive, but act in synergy. The combination of the two is much worse than the sum of both. A 2002 paper by Dr. Alexandra C. Miller, a chemist at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (AFRRI), described an in vivo study that found DU to be much more damaging to DNA than would be expected solely on the basis of U-238’s radiolytic properties. Miller attributed this to a synergistic multiplier effect.[29]

 In a 2003 interview she told the Guardian: “you can get more than an eight-fold greater effect than you’d expect.”[30] Miller’s findings are potentially explosive because they flatly contradict the official position of the Department of Defense (her boss) that DU presents no serious dangers. This probably explains why the Pentagon subsequently muzzled one of their top scientists. In 2006 the DoD refused to allow the BBC to interview Dr. Miller.[31] The BBC reported that the Pentagon also turned down Miller’s repeated requests for funding to continue her DU research (in 2004, 2005 and 2006). Obviously, if you don’t look, you won’t discover unpleasant facts. 

Gulf War Sickness: a progressive wasting condition

All of the above helps to explain why Gulf War sickness is not a single malady, but a progressive wasting condition. One physician defined it as “a complex incapacitating multi-organ system disorder.”[32[ The many symptoms and associated conditions read like a litany of horrors: fatigue, shortness of breath, joint pain, bleeding gums and lesions, headaches and neurological problems, memory loss, kidney dysfunction, bloody stools, flu-like symptoms, pneumonia, gynecological infections in female soldiers, unsteady gait, rashes and, ultimately, cancer and premature death. Nor is this a comprehensive list. Put simply: DU trashes the body.

Although nearly 700,000 American soldiers served in the first Gulf War, we still don’t know how many were exposed to DU because the Pentagon refused to screen and test our veterans. Although Army regulations require the testing/treatment for GIs wounded by, or exposed to, radioactive materials, including DU, not even one of the hundreds of thousand of soldiers with known or suspected exposure to DU was tested or treated after the war. The Pentagon obviously shrank from a full accounting because it feared the fiscal liability of caring for so many sick vets. The Veteran’s Administration (VA) even dragged its feet caring for the most obviously affected, i.e., the unfortunate troops exposed to large amounts of DU in so-called “friendly fire” incidents. Seven years after the war the Pentagon was still grossly under-reporting the actual number of US soldiers who had come under DU attack by our own side. Why fudge the numbers? Well, probably because the many self-inflicted casualties were an embarrassment. 

But fiscal liability and public embarrassment were not the only, nor even the primary, reasons why the Pentagon sought to conceal the facts about DU weapons. The main reason is that the generals fully intended to use them again. Certainly the Pentagon was not keen on giving them up. Let us remember: During the 1990s Iraq was a free-fire zone. No doubt, the US military continued using DU weapons through this period, in which case the actual expenditure was much greater than the officially acknowledged 340 tons. During the 1994-95 Bosnian War the US used DU weapons again, some 10 tons, and another 3 tons in Kosovo in 1999. The US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt, nicknamed the “Warthog,” accounted for most of the DU expended in these wars, as in Desert Storm. The attack plane’s main weapon is an advanced Gatling gun, the GAU-8  Avenger, mounted in the nose of the plane. The gun is so enormous that the plane literally had to be designed around it. This accounts for its ungainly appearance, and the nickname. But the Warthog was never designed for good looks. Its rotating cannon is all business, and lays down a devastating barrage of thousands of 30mm DU rounds per minute. 

Horror in Basra

Beginning in 1993, Iraqi doctors reported a disturbing increase in the incidence of malignancies around Basra, in southern Iraq. Basra is Iraq’s second largest city and is located near the battlefields where most of the DU was expended in the first Gulf War. An epidemiological study conducted by Dr. Alim Yacoub, a British-educated trained doctor and dean of the medical school at Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, and his colleague, Dr. Jenan Hassan from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Basra, found that between 1990-2001 all types of malignancies quadrupled. During this same period the number of birth defects increased six-fold. Moreover, the incidence of childhood leukemia jumped from just 2 cases in 1990 to 41 in 2001, a shocking twenty-fold increase. Even more disturbing was a further spike to 53 cases of leukemia in 2002, a 22% increase in a single year; which suggested that an acceleration was underway.[33]

The observed onset in 1993 jibes with the known latency period of leukemia, which can be as short as 2-3 years. The cancer epidemic was exacerbated by the UN embargo, which prevented urgently needed medicines from reaching the victims. Although the Iraqi doctors did not have access to western medical journals, Dr. Thomas Fasy of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine presented their research at a 2003 health conference in New York City. Dr. Fasy had traveled to Basra some months before. Although the Iraqi physicians lacked the necessary scientific equipment to establish a firm link to inhaled or ingested DU, Dr. Hari Sharma, a Canadian radio-chemist, later confirmed the link. When Dr. Sharma examined tissue samples of 38 dead Iraqis from Basra using a supersensitive instrument known as a mass spectrometer, he found DU in the lungs, thoracic lymph nodes and kidneys. Some of the cadavers also had DU in their livers.[34] In a 2003 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle Dr. Yacoub complained that international sanctions prevented the Iraqi doctors from from importing the necessary medical technology.[35]  According to Yacoub, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) refused to approve the equipment on the excuse that Saddam Hussein might divert it for military use.  Once again, the children of Iraq were the principal victims of the US-led embargo.

Most disturbing of all were reports from Basra of extreme birth deformities, as well as a new phenomenon: multiple cancers. By now (in 2007), photos of the Iraqi birth defects have been widely posted around the internet, and the pictures must be seen to be believed.[36] As for the multiple cancers, they were first reported in 2003 at a medical conference in Japan by Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, an oncologist at Basra’s largest hospital. Dr. Al-Ali told the conference: “Two strange phenomena have come about in Basra which I have never seen before. The first is double and triple cancers in one patient: for example, leukemia and cancer of the stomach. The second is the clustering of cancers in families. We have 58 families here with more than one person affected with cancer.”[37] The reports from Basra were alarming, but the Pentagon dismissed them as Iraqi propaganda. The Kuwaiti government did likewise, and even banned Dr. Al-Ali from crossing the border. Other skeptics cast doubt in a different way. They pointed out that southern Iraq suffered contamination by numerous toxic agents during the 1991 war. DU, after all, was only one among many possible causes. In the absence of compelling evidence linking DU to the leukemias and birth defects it was more likely that some other agent was responsible. The cynics even suggested that Saddam Hussein had poisoned his own people by his past use of chemical weapons. 

The skeptics had a point. It’s certainly true that the first Gulf War unleashed numerous toxic substances. The 1991 battlefield was probably the most polluted in history. In addition to DU, soldiers contended with experimental and/or impure vaccines. Soldiers and Iraqis alike breathed acrid black smoke from burning oil wells and were exposed to a wide array of chemical emissions due to the bombing of Iraqi infrastructure. Destroyed factories and industries can spew large amounts of toxic substances. Moreover, after the war US units destroyed at least 100 Iraqi munitions dumps, including an enormous complex at Khamisiyah which according to eyewitnesses included stores of chemical and biological agents (some supplied by the US and other western nations).[38]  It was even reported that the US command ordered the bombing of Iraqi nuclear research reactors.[39] This evidently occurred during the “Shock and Awe” phase of the war. The Pentagon has since released few details, but assuming the reports are correct the order to blow up these sites was incredibly stupid, arguably even insane, as it no doubt had the effect of dispersing dangerous chemicals and possibly radioactive materials across the Iraqi landscape. All of these factors surely increased the level of toxic exposure; and for some years this caveat allowed the US military to deflect some of the criticism regarding its use of DU weapons. 

Transuranic elements and fission by-products

The Pentagon’s case was not helped in 1999 when the Department of Energy (DoE) was forced to admit that America’s DU weapons were not pure U-238, but were laced with small amounts of U-236, plutonium, neptunium, americium, and nearly 200 other unstable transuranic elements and fission by-products, including strontium-90 and Cesium-137.[40] It seems that for many years Union Carbide, Martin Marietta, and Lockheed Martin, the companies that produced the enriched uranium for Uncle Sam, made a practice of recycling spent reactor fuel back into the enrichment process. They did so for purely economic reasons. When the price of U-235 rose enough, it became profitable to recover more of the preferred U-235 fraction in this way. As a result, the DU waste stream became a witches brew of unstable isotopes and daughter products, none of them naturally-occurring. All are created in reactors and every one is thousands of times more radioactive than U-238. 

The Pentagon took pains to emphasize that the presence of plutonium and the other transuranics presented no additional health risk, since the amounts were tiny. Only trace amounts were involved. What the Pentagon failed to mention is that there is no safe level of exposure. For instance, consider plutonium: the most toxic substance known to man. The element was discovered by the chemist Glenn Seaborg, who named it after “Pluto,” the Greek god of death (or hell). And for good reason: unlike uranium, plutonium is not found in Nature. It is produced only in the irradiated bowels of nuclear reactors by neutron bombardment of U-238; and it is 200,000 more radioactive than uranium. In fact, it is so nasty that the tiniest speck in the lung is a death sentence. A pound of plutonium, if uniformly distributed, could wipe out the entire human race. Plutonium is the preferred fissile material for nuclear weapons because so little of it is needed. A mere ten pounds, a lump the size of a grapefruit, is enough to make a hydrogen bomb. 

But the dangers are not limited to nuclear weapons. For many years both the US and Russian governments, as well as the former Soviet regime, utilized one of the isotopes of plutonium, Pu-238, in their space programs. Plutonium-238 is 280 times more radioactive than the more common isotope, plutonium-239, and is used in small reactors to generate electrical power for space probes. Though controversial, the practice has continued in recent years. NASA, for example, powered the 1997 Cassini Saturn probe with a U-238-fueled reactor. This use faced considerable scientific opposition at the time because the lengthy mission required 72 pounds of U-238 fuel, by far the largest amount NASA had ever sent into space. The launch involved a Titan-4 military rocket, an old and unreliable design with a less than reassuring history of 10% failed launches. Fortunately, the Cassini lift-off was successful; but the risks were not limited to the launch phase. After first circling Venus, Cassini returned and made a second dangerous pass around earth to gain the necessary momentum to “slingshot” the probe in the direction of Saturn. Again, we were lucky and there was no disastrous spillage of plutonium. The mission went according to plan; however, other space shots have amply demonstrated the principle that if something can go wrong, it will. Since 1964 several plutonium-powered satellites have crashed to earth, spreading a total of a few pounds of plutonium-238 around the planet. The amount seems trivial, but it was enough, according to Dr. John Gofman, to cause a small but measurable increase in the world-wide rate of lung cancer.[41] This sobering fact gives some idea of plutonium’s extreme toxicity. 

Gofman is a leading authority on radiation. While still a graduate student at UC Berkeley he codiscovered U-233, one of the isotopes of uranium. During World War II Gofman assisted the Manhattan Project at the behest of J. Robert Oppenheimer. He was the first to extract significant amounts of plutonium, then needed for the Bomb program. Many years later, as Biomedical Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Gofman ran afoul of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) when his research on low-level radiation became an inconvenience to the nuclear establishment. In 1969, building on the work of British radiation expert Alice Stewart, as well as the American scientist E.B. Lewis, Gofman, estimated that the cancer risk to the general population from America’s nuclear programs was much greater than most physicists believed at the time.[42]  Gofman charged that the AEC had underestimated the number of cancers by a factor of at least twenty times, which meant an excess of 32,000 cancers. Even though he had provided crucial assistance to the Manhattan Project and was regarded as a nuclear loyalist–––Gofman supported weapons development–––he was sacked because the government disapproved of his conclusions about low-level radiation. Gofman lost his research staff and funding and had to go back to teaching. 

The case is no exception. Other top scientists have endured similar treatment. The list is long, and includes Linus Pauling, the famous chemist whose 1957-58 petition, signed by thousands of scientists world-wide, helped to bring about a moratorium on atmospheric nuclear testing. In 1962 Pauling won a second Nobel Prize for his peace work; but, thereafter, was shunned by the US government, which repeatedly refused Pauling’s requests for federal grant money.[43] This went on for many years. Not even J. Robert Oppenheimer was above attack. Indeed, the former director of the Manhattan Project suffered an even worse fate when he opposed Edward Teller’s H-Bomb program in the 1950s. Oppenheimer became the target of a McCarthy-era witch-hunt, which ended his career, tarnished his reputation, and brought about his early death. It is of interest that Andrei Sakharov, the leading Soviet nuclear scientist, was similarly humiliated by Nikita Khrushchev for speaking out against the arms race. Even after Sakharov won the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize, he was placed under house arrest when he spoke out against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The lesson is clear: East or West, the War Machine brooks no deviation from its central aims. When great scientists speak out or cease to be useful, they are punished and discarded.

But time proved Gofman correct about low-level radiation. Over the years the accepted standards have become more stringent, not less. On three separate occasions the International Commission for Radiation Protection (ICRP), which draws up the rules for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has tightened up the standards. The ICRP did this in 1965, in 1986 (the year of the Chernobyl disaster), and again in 1990, when it cut the maximum safe dose by a factor of five. Incidentally, the US did not accept the latest revision and today, as a result, has a standard five times less stringent than in the rest of the world. But even the international trend toward an increasingly strict “permissible dose” misses the point. In 2005 Gofman was finally vindicated in full when the National Academy of Sciences, after a five-year comprehensive investigation, released a 700-page report that endorsed what he and a few other brave scientists have been saying for many years, namely, that all radiation exposure is cumulative and adds to the risk of cancer.[44] The notion of a safe dose is an oxymoron.

The Standard Risk Model

But what led AEC scientists to seriously underestimate the radiation dangers in the 1950s and 1960s? The question is important because it bears on the depleted uranium issue. At the time there were no studies of the internal effects of low-level radiation. The presumed risk was an extrapolation from studies of the incidence of cancer and leukemia in the atomic survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In both cases the primary source of exposure was assumed to be external: a brief but intense shower of neutrons and gamma radiation. The burst was extremely penetrating and distributed over the human body as a whole, for which reason physicists calculated cancer risk as an average whole-body dose. This approach led them to estimate zero-risk for low-level radiation, i.e., radioactive fallout. Why? Because when a low-level dose is averaged over the body, or even over an organ, the calculated risk is vanishingly small. This is why many scientists in government and industry insist, even today, that something other than leaked radiation must be causing the cancer clusters frequently reported downwind from nuclear plants. The same approach led Frank von Hippel, an authority on nuclear weapons, to conclude that the health risks from depleted uranium are “statistically undetectable,” except in cases of embedded DU shrapnel wounds.[45] 

This standard method of determining radiation risk is flawed, however. In the first place, because the explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unmonitored, the calculated release of radiation was not based on firm numbers, but on estimates; and by 1981 it was clear that the estimates were in error. In fact, physicists had over-estimated the release of neutrons by as much as ten times.[46] This meant that the impact per unit of radiation was actually worse, since a much lower level of radiation had caused the cancers and leukemias. This was not good news for nuclear advocates. Furthermore, the follow-up studies of atomic survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts were not designed to capture information about low-level effects. The sampling was geared to screen for burst effects, hence, was much too limited. One 30-year study, for example, tracked only those survivors who happened to be within 2,000 yards of the epicenter. This guaranteed that many of the subsequent cancers and birth defects due to fallout would go undetected.[47]

The more fundamental problem is that the standard risk model was developed before the discovery of DNA. It’s interesting that in his memoirs Andrei Sakharov mentions the tremendous impact that Watson and Crick’s discovery of the double helix had on him. In the mid-1950s Sakharov began to worry that nuclear fallout was causing genetic damage and killing babies. In 1957 he warned that nuclear testing up to that point had already caused 500,000 deaths from “non-threshold,” i.e., low-level effects, and this was a conservative estimate.[48] Linus Pauling’s estimates were even higher. On this basis Sakharov, Pauling and others began to call for an end to atmospheric testing. This was finally realized in 1963 with the signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty; after which, interestingly, the world infant mortality rate began to drop again, after leveling off from 1950-1963. Indeed, after studying the figures on infant mortality an American scientist, Dr. Ernest Sternglass, shocked the scientific community when he announced in 1968 that atmospheric testing had caused the deaths of 375,000 babies in the US alone, mainly from the effects of  radioactive iodine-131.[49] His estimate triggered a fierce debate that sunk to the level of personal attacks against Sternglass. However, in retrospect, his estimate may well have been correct.

It is a fact of biology, not physics, that living cells are variably sensitive to radiation. This is why continuous emission from a radioactive source within the body, even a low-level source, can have a comparable or even greater impact than a brief burst of high-level radiation. When cells are quiescent, the usual state in an adult, cells are much more resistant to radiation than when undergoing cell division or repair, both of which involve DNA replication. In fact, during DNA replication cells are 600 times more sensitive.[50] This explains why continuous internal low-level radiation caused by nuclear fallout or DU is so serious. It’s no wonder that infants and children are so vulnerable. Their rapidly growing bodies are adding many new cells, hence, are replicating DNA at a much faster rate. Photomicrographs of “hot particles” in lung tissue also illustrate why the standard approach of averaging a low-level dose over the whole body is wrong.[51] In the photos the particles assume a characteristic star pattern. The rays are the many tracks of alpha particles in process of irradiating nearby cells. Compared with x-rays and gamma rays, alpha particles are large and massive, hence, do not travel far in the body. Yet, for this very reason all of their energy is deposited near the point of emission. Over time, the local impact of low-level radiation is more than enough to account for the mutagenic effects of fallout–––and DU.

Leukemia in the Balkans

In 2001, news reports of cancer clusters in the Balkans were not so easily dismissed as nothing but Serbian propaganda; and when twenty-four NATO peacekeepers died from leukemia that same year a wave of concern swept across Europe. Portugal accused NATO of a DU cover-up and pulled its troops out of Kosovo. Italy called for a moratorium on the use of DU weapons; and this was echoed by France, Germany, Norway and Greece.[52]  Some nations began to screen their soldiers for DU exposure. In Kosovo a UN a team sent to investigate found low-level beta radiation at eight of eleven sites where DU weapons had been used. According to Pekka Havisto, the former Finnish minister of the environment who headed up the team, the sites included villages where children were seen playing.[53] In Bosnia-Herzegovina the UN team detected airborne DU particles at two sites, and confirmed DU contamination of a local water supply. They also discovered that spent DU rounds were corroding rapidly in the soil. Seven years after the Bosnian war, the fragments had already lost 25% of their mass. The team estimated that within 25-35 years the shells would disintegrate completely, and thus posed a serious threat to ground water.[54] The UN team prudently recommended that all the fragments be promptly collected and removed. They also urged precautionary measures, such as the monitoring of air and water supplies. In 2003 Britain’s most prestigious scientific body, the Royal Society, repeated their advice when it called on the US and UK to clean up the DU fragments scattered across Iraq during the two Gulf wars.[55]  But Washington refused. During a BBC interview the Pentagon’s spokesperson, Lt. Col. David Lapan, reiterated the by-now familiar position that “there are no long-term effects from DU;” hence, no need for a clean-up.[56]

In August 2001, after many invitations by the Iraqi government, the World Health Organization (WHO) sent a delegation to Baghdad to investigate the reported increase in cancer rates and birth defects.[57] The initial WHO visit prompted discussions at the United Nations, and proposals for continued monitoring and research in order to confirm whether DU was responsible. The result was a UN resolution, which came before the General Assembly in November 2001.[58] However, in the emotionally charged aftermath of the September 11 attack, the US used its considerable influence to defeat the resolution. Soon after, the Bush administration launched a round-the-clock media blitz to persuade the American people that Saddam Hussein was linked to Al Qaeda, hence, to the events of 9/11. This media circus had the unfortunate effect of diverting attention from the growing concerns about the use of DU. Even though the Bush administration offered not a scrap of evidence, only rhetoric and innuendo, by the onset of the second Gulf War in March 2003, polls showed that a majority of Americans stood firmly behind the president. A shocked international community looked on in disbelief, and who can blame them, for the world knew better. The US mass media’s spectacular success in persuading a free society of this blatant lie was a propaganda triumph far beyond the dubious achievements of the Nazi Third Reich. Indeed, the episode is sufficiently horrifying that it should motivate all of us who care about our country to take sober stock of what America has become.

It’s likely that the Bush administration also had a hand in blocking the release of a 2001 World Health Organization (WHO) paper on the effects of DU. The monograph was the work of Dr. Keith Baverstock, the WHO’s top radiation expert for 11 years. In 2004, after his retirement, Baverstock charged that the WHO had suppressed his study. He told the London Sunday Herald that “…the widespread use of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq could pose a unique health hazard to the civilian population. There is increasing scientific evidence that radioactivity and the chemical toxicity of DU causes more damage to human cells than is assumed.”[59] Later, in a BBC interview Baverstock described DU as “a potentially dangerous carcinogen.” He also hinted that political interference had prevented his paper from being released in 2001.[60] The doctor emphasized that his report, had it not been suppressed, would have increased pressure on the US and its UK ally to sharply limit their use of DU weapons in Afghanistan and Iraq.

DU health crisis in Afghanistan?

This begs the question: Just how much DU has the US expended since the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001? The estimates range from 100-200 tons[61] to 2,200 tons, or more.[62] Unfortunately, today the actual amount is unknown because the Pentagon has refused to release this information, no doubt, because of mounting criticism. Yet, there are indications that the upper DU estimates may be closer to the true figure. A medical team dispatched to Afghanistan in May 2002 found “astonishing levels” of uranium in the urine of everyone they tested. 

Dr. Asaf Durakovic, who organized this monitoring effort, is a former professor of medicine at Georgetown University. Years earlier, in 1999, he had reported DU in the urine of US Gulf War veterans. Eight years after Desert Storm the vets were still excreting copious amounts of uranium. However, the level in the samples from Afghanistan was many times higher, in fact, an astounding 100-400 times higher.[63] Durakovic concluded on this basis that the US military used even greater quantities of DU weapons in Afghanistan than during the first Gulf War, perhaps including a new class of DU penetrators. His team gathered the samples in Nangarhar province, a strategically important area that includes Kabul, Jalalabad and also Tora Bora, where the US probably used bunker-buster and seismic shock weapons. A second batch of samples taken in September 2002 confirmed the first survey, and also demonstrated contamination over a “potentially much broader area.” The team found sick Afghanis everywhere US bombing had occurred, and the sick displayed the by-now familiar symptoms of Gulf War illness. Durakovic told the BBC he was “stunned” by the results. He made it clear he believes DU is implicated, since “in Afghanistan there were no oil fires, no pesticides, and nobody had been vaccinated.” Then, he added, “if [the lab’s] Nangarhar findings are corroborated in other communities across Afghanistan, the country faces a severe public health disaster. Every subsequent generation is at risk.”

At the time of the first Gulf War Dr. Durakovic headed up a nuclear medicine program at a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital in Wilmington, Delaware. Then an Army Colonel, Durakovic only learned after the war that DU weapons had been used. “I was horrified,” he said. “I was a soldier, but above all, I am a doctor.”[64] When sick veterans approached him in 1993 Durakovic attempted to care for them, but soon got into trouble with his superiors and lost his job. He says two other doctors, Dr. Burroughs and Dr. Slingerland at a VA facility in Boston, also ran into trouble when they tried to order the medical equipment needed to test for DU in the body.

Durakovic eventually had to leave the United States after warnings that his life was in danger because of his work on behalf of sick veterans. In September 2000 Durakovic told a conference of nuclear scientists in Paris that tens of thousands of American and British soldiers were dying from their exposure to depleted uranium.[65] He presented evidence obtained with a mass spectrometer, documenting the presence of DU in the lungs, bones and other organs of dead veterans.[66] The findings confirmed his suspicion that inhaled particles of DU move throughout the human body. Durakovic has not minced words about DU. He says these are radiological weapons that kill indiscriminately.[67] He also emphasizes that infants and children are the most affected because their developing bodies are especially sensitive to the effects of ionizing radiation. 

An Indiscriminate Weapon?

Recent evidence that aerosolized DU particles can travel long distances supports Durakovic’s assertion that DU has indiscriminate effects. In February 2006 the London Sunday Times reported that within days of the Shock and Awe phase of the second Gulf War radiation detectors in the UK recorded a four-fold spike in air-born uranium.[68]

 Since the 1980s Britain’s Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) has been required to monitor air samples at five nuclear plants (Aldermaston, Green Audit, Castle Cottage, Sea View Place, and Aberystwyth) following the discovery of a child-leukemia cluster near one of the facilities. The samples are regularly collected by special high-volume air filters. After the second Gulf War Dr. Chris Busby, a professor at Liverpool University, sought to obtain the sampling data for analysis, in order to scrutinize the government’s position that depleted uranium used in combat does not travel more than a few tens of meters before falling out of the air. Busby, a well-known government advisor on low-level radiation, eventually did obtain the samples, but only after a lengthy freedom-of-information battle. Although the Halliburton Corporation, which currently manages the UK’s nuclear plants for the British government, refused to release the data, in the end Busby obtained the recordings from a separate government agency. Laboratory analyses of the samples then showed that within nine days of the start of the March 2003 bombing of Iraq all five sites in the UK registered a sudden rise in the level of uranium. On two occasions the levels exceeded the threshold requiring notification of the UK’s Environmental Agency. In March 2006 Busby’s research was published in a European science journal.[69] In his paper Busby and co-author Saoirse Morgan also presented meteorological data supporting their contention that the prevailing winds had carried the DU-laden dust/ash first northward from Iraq, then westward across Europe. 

Their charge that the use of DU shells during the war exposed much of Europe to breathable uranium dust touched a raw political nerve in the UK. Negative reaction was swift. Britain’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) summarily dismissed the charge. A number of experts agreed with the MoD, and insisted that the uranium had to be of local origin. However, no one was able to identify a source in the UK. One of the experts who took issue with Busby’s paper, Brian Spratt, offered a different hypothesis. Spratt, who had chaired a DU study for the Royal Society, conceded that the uranium might have come from Iraq on the wind. He argued, however, that the probable source was not DU but natural uranium from the Iraqi desert: stirred up by the US-UK invasion force.[70] Spratt’s hypothesis was absurd, since Iraq has no significant deposits of natural uranium. Yet, it was typical of the hasty responses occasioned by Busby’s controversial paper, as officials and experts scurried about frantically trying to explain why the highest levels of uranium ever detected in the atmosphere over Britain just happened to coincide with the March 2003 attack on Saddam Hussein. Busby was not the first, however, to present hard evidence that DU dust is highly mobile. Air monitors in Hungary and Greece detected a similar spike in airborne uranium in the 1990s after the NATO bombing of Kosovo and Bosnia; and, like Busby they too concluded it had arrived on the wind, an ill omen.[71] 

Genetic Mutilation?

It is well-known that smoke and dust can travel long distances. Dust from the Gobi desert frequently blows across the Pacific to the American West, and ice cores taken from glaciers and ice sheets provide a historical record of global volcanic activity. Certainly DU particles in the soil can be re-suspended by desert wind-storms, which are common in the Mideast. But re-suspension is not the only concern. According to Leuren Moret, a geologist and former employee of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, DU particles less than a micron in size can remain suspended in the atmosphere for long periods.[72] Moret has studied wind transport systems and she says Busby is quite correct. DU particles can circle the globe within a matter of weeks, hence, are likely to contaminate food and water supplies thousands of miles from the point of origin, just as nuclear fallout did in the era of atmospheric testing.[73]  Moret warns that the long-term consequences of DU dispersal are likely to be similar. The effects may also mimic the Chernobyl disaster, by now well-documented despite a Russian cover-up and continuing efforts by the IAEA to downplay the extent of the tragedy. In Belarus, even districts not in the direct path of the radioactive plume later suffered a disturbing increase in cancers, birth defects, infant mortality, and a drop in IQ scores and life expectancy. Diseases formerly seen only in the elderly are now commonplace in younger age groups. In fact, by every measure the health of the population has declined.[74] Moret calls this “genetic mutilation” and she warns that because of DU’s 4.5 billion year half-life, the impacts will only grow more serious over time. Five-hundred years from now, assuming the human race survives, no one will remember why the first and second Gulf Wars were fought, but depleted uranium will still be wreaking havoc with the human gene pool and in the wider biosphere. Moret points out that shortly after America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted a doubling of world cancer rates by 2020.[75] What prompted the dire prognostication? Did the US military’s expenditure of DU weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan have something to do with it? Moret thinks the timing was not just a coincidence. 

Obviously, the US general staff is blind to the simple truth that nothing, certainly not short-term military expedience, can justify the long-term consequences of using DU weapons. The Pentagon cannot plead ignorance, because, in addition to the sources already mentioned, a leaked official document proves that the general staff was informed about DU’s toxic effects as early as 1943, when three top US scientists sent a report to Brigadier Gen. Leslie R. Groves, director of the Manhattan Project.[76] Their report was titled the “Use of Radioactive Materials as a Military Weapon” and it was signed by Drs. James B. Conant, Arthur. H. Compton, and Harold C. Urey. Dr. Conant chaired the Chemistry department at Harvard and went on to become president of that prestigious university. During World War I he helped to develop mustard gas for the US Army. Compton, even more famous, discovered Compton scattering of electromagnetic radiation by electrons, also known as the Compton effect, for which he won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1927. Harold Urey discovered deuterium, one of the isotopes of hydrogen, and demonstrated the existence of “heavy” water, for which he won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1934. During the Manhattan Project, Urey also helped to develop the gaseous diffusion method of enriching uranium, the preferred method still in use today. In short, all three men were extremely capable scientists, and in their 1943 report to Groves they described how depleted uranium could be made into a gas warfare agent by grinding the substance into particles of microscopic size. Their report explained that DU weapons would be delivered using “ground-fired projectiles” and ”distributed in a dust or smoke form so finely powdered that it will permeate a standard gas mask filter in quantities large enough to be extremely damaging.” The report mentioned that such weapons could be used as a “terrain contaminant,” that is, to deny the enemy access to large areas of territory. It even predicted the kinds of respiratory problems experienced by Doug Rokke’s team. In short, the 1943 report described in chilling detail the very weapon later developed by the US Department of Defense. 

Conclusion

A number of disturbing conclusions follow from all of this. They are unpleasant but must be faced squarely. In recent years, White House spokespersons and national security advisers have repeatedly warned that Islamic terrorists could strike cities in the US with radiological weapons.[77] In recent days we’ve heard these same warnings repeated,  again, this time in especially shrill tones. Based on the above evidence, however, it’s clear that America’s leaders have already done what we’ve accused terrorists of only planning to do. Worse, our leaders have done it on a greater scale. America’s use of DU weapons has already caused the deaths of hundreds of times more Iraqi and Afghani civilians, including women and children, than died in the 9/11 attack. Moreover, it is likely that the DU particles already released into the environment, given their insidious effects and 4.5 billion year half-life, will go on killing innocent people for a very long time, indeed, perhaps for the rest of human history, essentially for all of time. In short, our leaders have permanently fouled our nest, surely the ultimate atrocity. They cannot plead ignorance. As I have shown, the toxic effects of DU were understood even at the time of the Manhattan Project. Our leaders knew the facts, but used the weapons anyway, probably because they just didn’t care–––a breach of trust with the American people so odious it can only be compared with an earlier US government policy of utilizing American GIs as guinea pigs during the period of atmospheric testing. We know that at least 300,000 American soldiers were willfully exposed to high levels of radiation during dozens of nuclear tests; not to mention the millions of American civilians who were also exposed to the fallout.[78]

In short, our leaders are guilty of not merely incompetence, nor even malfeasance, but of outright terrorism. Indeed, if the use of DU weapons is not terrorism, the word has no meaning. No doubt, for this reason, in June 2007, at a conference in Vancouver, BC, a gathering of 9/11 scholars and peace activists called for the creation of an international tribunal to hold America’s leaders accountable for crimes against humanity and the environment. Their brave initiative deserves our support, because it is absurd to think the US government will police itself. Thus far, the US Congress has shown no sign of providing the necessary leadership. What is clear is that if we fail to end the use of these weapons and bring the guilty to justice, the people of the world will hold all Americans collectively responsible; and rightly so. Our leaders’ reckless and immoral use of DU weapons in the name of freedom has seriously undermined not only America’s standing in the world, but also her security. Far from enhancing our security, DU weapons have made us much more vulnerable. When the peoples of the earth learn the terrible truth about what we’ve done, they will hate us more than ever; and if they insist on retribution we will be lucky to escape retaliatory strikes against American cities. 

With regard to 9/11, a further conclusion also appears inescapable. Given that our leaders knowingly used weapons certain to kill, injure and maim tens of thousands of our own soldiers, is it not likely they are also capable of murdering a smaller number of American civilians on 9/11 for similar reasons, i.e., out of political expedience? Given the naked facts, it would be hard to conclude anything else.

Mark H. Gaffney’s latest book, Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes, was a finalist for the 2004 Narcissus Book Award. Mark can be reached for comment at markhgaffney@earthlink.net. Visit his web site at http://www.GnosticSecrets.com

Notes

1 Beyond Treason, a film by William Lewis, American Gulf War Vets. http://www.beyondtreason.com/

2 The DoD program is known as “Rods from God,” and would involve the deployment in earth orbit of 20-foot long DU penetrator rods, which could be fired at targets on earth, reaching 7,000 mph before impact. Helen Caldicott and Craig Eisendrath, War in Heaven, The New Press, New York, 2007, p. 82.

3 Nao Shimoyachi, “Citizens find Bush guilty of Afghan war crimes,” Japan Times, March 14, 2004.  posted at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/member/member.html?nn20040314a5.htm

4 John Byrne, “US signs $38 million deal for depleted uranium tank shells,” The Raw Story, March 2, 3006. posted at http://rawstory.com/news/2006/U.S._signs_38_million_deal_for_0302.html

5 Scott Peterson, “The Monitor finds high levels of radiation left by US armor-piercing shells,” Christian Science Monitor, May 15, 2003.

6 Interview with physicist Michio Kaku, in Poison Dust, a 2005 film by Sara Flounders and Sue Harris, available from the Peoples Rights Fund Poison Dust Project, 212-633-6646, or at www.poisondust.com

7 email from Doug Rokke, July 14, 2007.

8 According to Maj. Doug Rokke, former director of the Army’s Depleted Uranium Project, at the time of the fire the 3rd U.S. Army Materiel Command’s (AMC) DU assessment recovery team was well aware of the hazards. So were the commanding officers on the scene who, unfortunately, failed to implement the safety procedures specified in US Army Technical Bulletin  9-1300-2378. Email from Doug Rokke, July 14, 2007.

9 The pertinent document is U.S. Army Technical Bulletin 9-1300-278, Guidelines for Safe Response to Handling, Storage and Transportation Accidents Involving Army Tank Munitions or Armor Which Contain Depleted Uranium, July 21, 1996.

10 email from Doug Rokke, July 14, 2007.

11 “Health and Environmental Consequences of Depleted Uranium Use in the US Army,” US Army Environmental Policy Institute (AEPI), June, 1995, p. 87.

12 Roke’s team also prepared several reports and documents, including: US Army Regulation 700-48, US Army PAM 700-48, and the DU CTT: Task number: 031-503-1017 “RESPOND TO DEPLETED URANIUM/LOW LEVEL RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS (DULLRAM) HAZARDS”, STP 21-1-SMCT: Soldiers Manual of Common Tasks, Headquarters Department of the Army, Washington, D.C.

13 David Rose, “Weapons of Self-Destruction,” Vanity Fair, November, 2004.

14 David Edwards, “Army made video warning about dangers of depleted uranium but never showed it to troops, February 6, 2007. posted at http://www.rawstory.com/news/2007/CNN_Agent_Orange_tame_compared_to_0206.html

15 David Rose, “Weapons of Self-Destruction,”  Vanity Fair, November, 2004.

16 Lt. Col. M.V. Ziehmn, “The Effectiveness of Depleted Uranium Penetrators,” Los Alamos National Laboratory memorandum, March 1, 1991.

17 In April 2003 Assistant Secretary of Defense William Winkenwerder claimed that only two members of Rokke’s team had died. See his letter “Depleted uranium  poses no risks to troops,” Miami Herald, April 14, 2003.

18 Harley, N., Foulkes, E., Hilborne, L., Hudson, A., Anthony, C.R., “A Review of the Scientific Literature as it Pertains to Gulf War Illnesses: Vol. 7 Depleted Uranium,” National Defense Research Institute (RAND), 1999. Also see Berlin, M., and B. Rudell, “Uranium,” in L. Friberg, G. F. Nordberg, V. B. Vouk, eds., Handbook on the Toxicology of Metals, 2nd ed., New York: Elsevier, 1986, pp. 617-637.

19 Spencer, H. S., D. Osis, I. M. Fisenne, P. Perry, N. H. Harley, “Measured Intake and Excretion Patterns of Naturally Occurring 238U and Calcium in Humans,” Radiation Res, 24, 1990, pp. 90-95. The RAND team conceded, however, that in studies of rats GI absorption was greater in juvenile rats, compared with adults, which suggests that children are more vulnerable than adults. Foulkes, E. C., and D. Bergman, “Inorganic Mercury Absorption and Mature and Immature Rat Jejunum: Transcellular and Intercellular Pathways in Vivo and in Everted Sacs,” Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 120, 1993, pp. 89-95.

20 Gretel Munroe, “Health Effects of Depleted Uranium,” Grassroots Actions for Peace, Military Toxics Project, October 2004.

21 “US Army Kinetic Energy Penetrator Long Term Strategy Study,” AMCCOM, 1990: D(1); also see J.A. Glissmeyer et al., Characterization Of Airborne Uranium From Test Firings Of XM774 Ammunition. This study may be viewed on line at http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/Airborne-Uranium-Glissmeyer1nov79.htm; also see J.A. Glissmeyer, J. Mishima, and J.A. Bamberger, “Prototype Firing Range Air Cleaning System,” 19th DOE Nuclear Airborne Waste Management and Air Cleaning Confer., Baltimore, Maryland 12-16 August, 1984, pp. 846-872.

22 “Army not Adequately Prepared to Deal with Depleted Uranium Contamination,” US General Accounting Office , GAO/NSIAD-93-90, January 1993.

23 Hearing of the Presidential Special Oversight Board, George Washington University, July 13, 1999, posted at http://www.oversight.ncr.gov/xcript_hearing_13jul99.html#rand

24 Pelmar, et al, “Distribution of uranium in rats implanted with depleted uranium fragments,” Toxicological Sciences,  Vol. 49, pp.2-39, 1999; McDiarmid, et al, “Health effects of depleted uranium on exposed Gulf War veterans,” Environmental Research, Vol. 82 (2) February, 2000, pp. 168-80.

25 Elizabeth Neuffer, “Iraqis Trace Surge in Cancer to US Bombings,” Boston Globe, January 26, 2003.

26 Larry Johnson, “Iraqi cancers, birth defects blamed on US depleted uranium,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 12, 2002.

27 This is the work of Dr, Eric Wright, professor of Experimental Haematology at the University of Dundee. For an overview of his work go to http://www.dundee.ac.uk/pathology/ew.htm

28 “When Cells are exposed to uranium they acquire mutations,” Medical News Today, April 9, 2006. Strearn’s research was published in the journals Mutagenesis and Molecular Carcinogenesis.

29 Alexandra C. Miller, et al, “Depleted uranium-catalyzed oxidative DNA damage: absence of significant alpha particle decay,” Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, Vol. 91 (2002), pp. 246-252.

30 Ian Sample and Nic Fleming, “When the dust settles,” The Guardian, April 17, 2003.

31 BBC Press Release: US and UK military continued to use depleted uranium weapons despite cancer warnings, October 10, 2006.

32 Asaf Durakovic, “Undiagnosed Illnesses and Radioactive Warfare,” Croatian Medical Journal, 2003, Vol. 44, pp. 526.

33 Dr Thomas Fasy presented the results of the Basra study on June 14, 2003 at the NPRI conference on “The Health Effects of DU” at the New York Academy of Medicine. Dr. Fasy is an Associate Professor of Pathology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and had traveled to Basra some months before where he met with the Iraqi doctors. The title of his talk was “The Recent Epidemic of Malignancies and Congenital Malformations in Southern Iraq: the biological plausibility of DU as a carcinogen and teratogen.” 

34 Dr. Hari Sharma, “Investigations of Environmental Impacts from the Deployment of Depleted Uranium-Based Munitions, December 2003. The paper is available through the Military Toxics Project at www.miltoxproj.org

35 Robert Collier, “Iraq Links Cancers to Uranium Weapons,” San Francisco Chronicle, January 13, 2003.

36 Some shocking photos are posted at http://www.xs4all.nl/~stgvisie/VISIE/extremedeformities.html

37 Doug Westerman, “Depleted Uranium – Far Worse Than 9/11,” Global Research, May 3, 2006.

38 Beyond Treason, a film by William Lewis, available from Gulf War Vets. http://www.beyondtreason.com/

39 Rick Atkinson and Ann Devroy, “US Claims Iraqi Nuclear Reactors Hit Hard,” Washington Post, January 21, 1991.

40 DoE press release: Past Recycled Uranium Programs Under Review as Energy Department Investigation Continues (provides updated information on Cold War era operations), September 29, 1999. NATO was forced to make a similar admission in 2001 after the UNEP team independently assayed DU fragments from Kosovo. NATO press release, January 18, 2001

41 Karl Grossman, “US Plans to Wage War in Space,” presentation in Toronto, Canada, October, 2000.

42 For an excellent discussion see Harvey Wasserman and Norman Solomon, Killing Our Own, The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation, New York, Delta, 1982, pp. 94-101.

43 Ibid. 

44 Press release: July 7, 2005: Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER). Cancer Risks for Women and Children Due to Radiation Exposure Far HIgher Than for Men. New National Academy of Sciences Report Raises Major Issues for Radiation Protection, Independent Institute Claims. The title of the report: The Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation.

45 Steve Fetter and Frank von Hippel, “After the dust settles,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November-December 1999, pp. 42-45.

46 Eliot Marshall, “New A-Bomb Studies Alter Radiation Estimates,” Science, Vol. 212, May 22, 1981; also see Eliot Marshall, New A-Bomb Data Shown to Experts,” Science, Vol. 212, June 19, 1981.

47 William J Schull et al, “Genetic Effects of the Atomic Bombs: A Reappraisal,” Science, Vol. 213, September, 1981, pp.1220-1227.

48 Andrei Sakharov, Memoirs, New York, Alfred Knopf, 1990, p. 202.

49 Ernest J. Sternglass, “Infant Mortality and Nuclear Tests,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 25, 1969, pp. 26-28.

50 For an excellent discussion see the paper that Dr. Chris  Busby presented to the Royal Society in 2000: Science on Trial, posted at http://www.llrc.org/du/subtopic/durs.htm

51 For an example go to http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/Hot-Particle-Lung-Tissue1997.htm

52 Dr. Ali Ahmed Rind, “Clear and Present Danger: The Balkan Syndrome,” Baltimore Chronicle, December 5, 2001.

53 Helen Caldicott MD., The New Nuclear Danger, The New Press, New York, 2002, p. 159.

54 “Depleted Uranium Contaminates Bosnia-Herzegovina,” ens-newswire, March 25, 2003.

55 Paul Brown, “Scientists urge shell clean-up to protect civilians,” The Guardian, April 17, 2003.

56 Alex Kirby, “US rejects Iraq DU clean-up,” BBC News Online, April 14, 2003. In February 2002 the Pentagon formally appealed to Congress for relief from environmental regulations that it claimed was impeding crucial exercises and combat readiness. The military’s concerns were not limited to relief from protecting endangered habitat and threatened species. Although the request made no mention of DU, its list of complaints included a case on a gunnery range at the Massachusetts Military Reservation on Cape Cod where a live-fire training exercises were terminated after munitions contaminated ground water. Vernon Loeb, “Rules on Environment Concern Pentagon: Military Says Laws Inhibit Training,” Washington Post, January 13, 2002.

57 WHO to probe Depleted Uranium in Iraq, WHO press release, September 5, 2001.

58 Irwin Arieff, “US Wins Defeat of Deleted Uranium Study,” Reuters, November 30, 2001.

59 Rob Edwards, “WHO suppressed scientific study into depleted uranium cancer fears in Iraq,” Sunday Herald, February 22, 2004.

60 BBC Press Release: US and UK military continued to use depleted uranium weapons despite cancer warnings, October 10, 2006.

61 Dan Fahey, “he Use of Depleted Uranium in the 2003 Iraq War: An Initial Assessment of Information and Policies,” June 24, 2003.

62 “The use of Depleted Uranium in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, August 4, 2003.

63 Alex Kirby, “Afghans’ uranium levels spark alert,” BBC News Online, May 22, 2003.

64 Felicity Arbuthnot, “Depleted Uranium – A Way Out? Compensation to those affected by this poisoned legacy,” Global Research, June 3, 2007.

65 Jonathan Carr-Brown and Martin Meissonnier, “Tests show Gulf war victims have uranium poisoning,” London Sunday Times, September 3, 2000.

66 Horan P., Dietz L., and Durakovic A., “The quantitative Analysis of depleted uranium isotopes in British, Canadian, and US Gulf War veterans,” Military Medicine, Vol. 167, 2002, pp. 620-627; also see Mil. Med. Vol. 168, 2003, p. 474.

67 Asaf Durakovic, “Undiagnosed Illnesses and Radioactive Warfare,” Croatian Medical Journal, Vl. 44 (5)2003, pp. 52-523.

68 Mark Gould and Jon Ungoed-Thomas, “UK radiation jump blamed on Iraq shells,” The Sunday Times (London), February 19, 2006.

69 Christopher Busby and Saoirse Morgan, “Did the use of Uranium weapons in Gulf War 2 result in contamination of Europe?”, European Biology and Bioelectromagnetics, March 2006.

70 Mark Gould and Jon Ungoed-Thomas, “UK radiation jump blamed on Iraq shells,” The Sunday Times (London), February 19, 2006.

71  A. Kerekes et. al, “Did NATO Attacks in Yugoslavia Cause a Detectable Environmental Effect in Hungary?”, Health Physics, Vol. 80 (2), February 2001, pp. 177-178.

72 talk by Leuren Moret, “Depleted Uranium: Nuclear Holocaust and The Politics of Radiation, Los Altos, California, sponsored by the Women’s Solidarity Movement, April 21, 2003, posted at http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/2003/DU-Leuren-Moret21apr03.htm

73 conversation with Leuren Moret, January 12, 2007.

74 C.C.Busby and A.V. Yablokov, editors, Chernobyl 20 Years On: Health Effects of the Chernobyl Accident, published on behalf of the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) by Green Audit, Brussels, 2006. For a summary and free download go to http://www.llrc.org/index.html

75 Press release, “Concerted action is the only answer to rising cancer deaths: Two million lives could be saved by 2020 and 6.5 million lives by 2040 according to a new WHO/UICC cancer booklet,” June 3, 2003.

76 Memorandum to Brigadier General L. R. Groves, posted at http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/Groves-Memo-Manhattan30oct43.htm

77 Bill Gertz, “Reports reveal Zarqawi nuclear threat,” The Washington Times, April 20, 2005.

78 Harvey Wasserman and Norman Solomon, Killing Our Own, Dell Publishing, New York, 1981, see especially chapter two, p. 31.

The Pentagon’s latest Big Lie By Mike Whitney

August 10, 2007

The Pentagon’s latest Big Lie By Mike Whitney

By Mike Whitney
08/08/07 “
ICH

The quality of Pentagon-propaganda is really deteriorating.

The War Dept.’s latest fraud appeared in this week’s newspapers under the ominous-sounding headline:

“US Kills Mastermind of Iraq Shrine”

The article is similar to hundreds of other stories we’ve seen in the passed few years boasting of the murder of an “alleged” terrorist kingpin whose evil deeds have prevented democracy from flourishing in Iraq.

Oh, please.

CNN: “Coalition troops killed the al Qaeda terrorist who masterminded the February 2006 attack on Samarra’s al-Askariya mosque and set off continuing violence and reprisal killings between Sunnis and Shiites, the U.S. military said Sunday.” Snip “Haitham Sabah al-Baderi, the al Qaeda emir of greater Samarra, was killed Thursday east of Samarra, said Rear Adm. Mark Fox during a news conference”. snip “Eliminating al-Baderi is another step in breaking the cycle of violence instigated by the attack on the holy shrine in Samarra,” Fox said. “We will continue to hunt down the brutal terrorists who are intent on creating a Taliban-like state in Iraq.” (CNN)

In truth, CNN has no idea who al-Baderi really was or whether he belonged to Al Qaida or not. They just jot down whatever the Pentagon spokesman tells them and then pass it off later as news. It’s the same with the rest of the media. They don’t care. They build their stories on statements from government officials and don’t bother looking for evidence. All they know is that al-Baderi is another unlucky victim in Bush’s war on terror who has been subsumed into the Pentagon’s propaganda war against the American people. That’s it.

So why bother publishing a crazy story like this? It doesn’t change public opinion on the war or convince people that al Qaida is the main enemy in Iraq. So what good is it? It’s just an attempt to show progress in a losing cause by holding up another enemy scalp.

But, that’s not public relations— it’s barbarism. Don’t the Pentagon big-wigs know that? They think the American people relish the idea of assassinating enemy “suspects” without any proof of wrongdoing or judicial oversight. But they’re wrong. People are sickened by it. Can’t they see that?

What is gained by fabricating another goofy story before the dust has even settled on the Tillman fiasco? Why not let the public fully-digest the last “Big Lie” before moving on to the next one?

Remember Tillman—the outspoken NFL star who figured out the war was a fake and started blasting the Bush administration’s lies?

Well, he took three bullets to the head—“gangland style”—in what the Pentagon dubbed “friendly fire”.

What a joke. Is the Pentagon trying to destroy what little credibility it has left?

Apparently.

THIS WEEK’S BIG LIE

I’ve done a lot of research on both bombings of the Golden Dome Mosque and I can tell you that THE MILITARY HAS NEVER CONDUCTED AN INVESTIGATION OF WHAT REALLY HAPPENED. Never. That means the CNN headline is just more empty blather. The few eyewitness accounts that appeared in Iraqi blogs and web sites strongly suggest that US Intelligence agencies and Iraqi troops from the Interior Ministry may have been involved. The theories connecting Al Qaida to the incident are pure speculation with no factual basis.

And yet, here’s what Bush said in a speech just days after the first bombing:

“Al Qaida terrorists and Sunni insurgents… blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam—the Golden Mosque of Samarra—in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq’s Shia population to retaliate. Their strategy worked. Radical Shia elements; some supported by Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today.”

How does Bush know who it was? He never ordered an investigation and he doesn’t have a crystal ball. If there’s proof—show us! Otherwise we should assume that he is just trying to blame someone else for his part in turning Iraq into a charnel house.

Those aren’t Al Qaida’s B-1 Bombers dropping cluster bombs and Daisy Cutters on Iraqi cities. And, that isn’t al-Baderi kicking down doors and dragging off civilians to be tortured in some god-forsaken hell-hole. Those are Bush’s planes and Bush’s troops! He’s the one who’s responsible.

Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote just a few months ago after the last bombing in Samarra:

“Less than 4 hours after the explosion, the Bush public relations team cobbled together a statement that the bombing was the work of Sunni extremists or al Qaida terrorists. But, they’ve never produced a scintilla of evidence to support their claims. It may be that the administration simply saw the bombing as an opportunity to twist the facts to suit their own purposes.

After all, the incident has been a propaganda-bonanza for the Bush team. They’ve used it to support their theory that Iraq is “the central battle in the war on terror” and that “we must fight them there if we don’t want to fight them over here”. It’s been used as one of the main justifications for the occupation; implying that the US military is needed as a referee to keep the warring factions from killing each other. It’s all just nonsense that’s designed to advance the administration’s political agenda.

If there had been an investigation, it would have shown whether or not the perpetrators were experts by the placement of the explosives. They might have found bomb-residue which could have determined the composition of the material used. Forensics experts could have easily ascertained whether the explosives came from Iraqi munitions-dumps (as suggested) or from outside the country (like the USA, perhaps?)

The incident may well have been a “false flag” operation carried out by US intelligence agencies to provoke sectarian violence and, thus, reduce the number of attacks on American troops. (That is what the vast number of Sunnis and Shiites believe)

In any event, as soon as the mosque was destroyed the media swung into action focusing all of its attention on sectarian violence and the prospect of civil war. The media’s incessant “cheerleading” for civil war was suspicious, to say the least.

In the first 30 hours after the blast, more than 1,500 articles appeared on Google News providing the government version of events without deviation and without any corroborating evidence; just fluff that reiterated the Pentagon’s account verbatim and without challenge.

1500! Now that’s a well-oiled propaganda system!

Most of the articles were “cookie cutter-type” stories which used the same buzzwords and talking points as all the others; no interviews, no facts, no second opinions; simple, straightforward stenography – nothing more.

The story was repeated for weeks on end never veering from the same speculative theory. Clearly, there was a push to convince the American people that this was a significant event that would reshape the whole context of the war in Iraq. In fact, the media blitz that followed was bigger than anything since 9-11; a spectacular display of the media’s power to manipulate public opinion.

There were a few articles that didn’t follow the party-line, but they quickly disappeared into a cyber-“black hole” or were dismissed as conspiracy theories. One report in AFP said that the bombing “was the work of specialists” and the “placing of explosives must have taken at least 12 hours”.

Ah-ha!

The article said: “Construction Minister Mohammed Jaafar said, ‘Holes were dug into the mausoleum’s four main pillars and packed with explosives. Then charges were connected together and linked to another charge placed just under the dome. The wires were then linked to another charge placed just under the dome. The wires were then linked to a detonator which was triggered at a distance.”

Of course, what does that prove? Perhaps, al Qaida has skilled explosives experts? But why not investigate? After all, if this was the “catalyzing event” which thrust the country towards civil war; why not have the FBI come in and take a look-around?

A professional team of investigators could have quickly determined whether highly-trained saboteurs were operating in the area. (which meant that American troops would be at greater risk) Isn’t that worth checking out?

Nope. The Pentagon did nothing. There was no effort at all to find out who might have been involved. It was an open and shut case; wrapped up before the dust had even settled in Samarra.

Very strange.

Apparently, there was at least one witness who was interviewed shortly after the bombing. He said that he heard cars running outside the mosque “the whole night until morning” but, he was warned “to stay in your shop and don’t leave until morning”.

At 6:30 AM the next morning, the vehicles outside the mosque left. 10 minutes later the bombs exploded.

None of the people living in the vicinity of the mosque were ever questioned. Likewise, the Construction Minister Mohammed Jaafar has never resurfaced in the news again. I expect that his comments in the newspaper may have had something to do with his sudden disappearance, but then maybe not. (Bush’s War on Perception the bombing of the Golden Mosque, Mike Whitney)

Here’s an excerpt from another article titled “Information Warfare, Psy-ops and the Power of Myth” http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article17078.htm

New Clues in the Bombing

New clues have surfaced in the case of the bombing of the Golden Mosque which suggests that the claims of the Bush administration are false. An article by Marc Santora, (“One Year Later, Golden Mosque still in Ruins”, New York Times) provides eyewitness testimony of what really took place one year ago:

“A caretaker at the shrine described what happened on the day of the attack, insisting on anonymity because he was afraid that talking to an American could get him killed. The general outline of his account was confirmed by American and Iraqi officials.

The night before the explosion, he said, just before the 8 p.m. curfew on Feb. 21, 2006, on the Western calendar, men dressed in commando uniforms like those issued by the Interior Ministry entered the shrine.

The caretaker said he had been beaten, tied up and locked in a room.

Throughout the night, he said, he could hear the sound of drilling as the attackers positioned the explosives, apparently in such a way as to inflict maximum damage on the dome”. (NY Times)

Clearly, if the men were men dressed in “commando uniforms like those issued by the Interior Ministry”, then the logical place to begin an investigation would be the Interior Ministry. But there’s never been an investigation and the caretaker has never been asked to testify about what he saw on the night of the bombing. However, if he is telling the truth, we cannot exclude the possibility that paramilitary contractors (mercenaries) or special-ops (intelligence) agents working out of the Interior Ministry may have destroyed the mosque to create the appearance of a nascent civil war.

Isn’t that what Bush wants—-to divert attention from the occupation and to show that the real conflict is between Shiites and Sunnis?

It’s unlikely that the mosque was destroyed by “Sunni insurgents or Al Qaida” as Bush claims. Samarra is predominantly a Sunni city and the Sunnis have nearly as much respect for the mosque as a cultural icon and sacred shrine as the Shiites.

The Times also adds, “What is clear is that the attack was carefully planned and calculated”.

True again. We can see from the extent of the damage that the job was carried out by demolition experts and not merely “insurgents or terrorists” with explosives. Simple forensic tests and soil samples could easily determine the composition of the explosives and point out the real perpetrators.

The Times even provides a motive for the attack: “Bad people used this incident to divide Iraq on a detestable sectarian basis.”

Bingo! The administration has repeatedly used the incident to highlight divisions, incite hostilities, and prolong the occupation.

The Times also notes the similarities between 9-11 and the bombing of the Golden Mosque: “I can describe what was done as exactly like what happened to the World Trade Center.”(NY Times)

In fact, the bombing of the Golden Mosque is a reenactment of September 11. In both cases an independent investigation was intentionally quashed and carefully-prepared narrative was immediately provided. The administration’s version of events has been critical in creating the rationale for an extended US military occupation of Iraq, but is it true.

Probably not. The so-called “deeply ingrained sectarian animosity between Sunnis and Shiites” has no historical precedent. It is an invention of propagandists in the intelligence services who intend to fragment the Iraqi state so that precious resources can be more easily controlled. “Divide and rule” continues to be the driving force behind America’s aggressive counterinsurgency strategy.

THE SECOND BOMBING OF THE GOLDEN DOME MOSQUE

Here’s excerpt from another article which outlines some of what we know about the second bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque a year later: (The Battle of Gaza, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article17894.htm )

Graham Bowley (“Minarets on Shiites Shrine in Iraq Destroyed in Attack” NY Times) clarifies some of the important details of what took place at the site of the Mosque just prior to the second bombing. He says:

“Since the attack in 2006, the shrine had been under the protection of local — predominantly Sunni — guards. But American military and Iraqi security officials had recently become concerned that the local unit had been infiltrated by Al Qaeda forces in Iraq. A move by the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad over the last few days to bring in a new guard unit — predominantly Shiite — may have been linked to the attack today.”

No reference is made to the sudden and unexplained changing of the guards at the mosque in future accounts in the mainstream press. And, yet, that is the most important point. The minarets were blown up just days after the new guards took charge. They cordoned off the area, placed snipers on the surrounding rooftops, and then blew up the minarets in broad daylight.

The first explosion took place at 9:30 AM. Ten minutes later the second bomb was detonated.

Al Qaeda?

Not likely.

The Golden Dome mosque has been heavily guarded ever since it was blown up in 2006. The four main doors have been bolted shut and not a tile has been moved in over a year. The reason for this is that the Shiites consider it a “crime scene” which they intend to investigate more thoroughly when the violence subsides.

The Shiites never accepted the official US-version of events that “al Qaeda did it”. Many believe that US Special Forces were directly involved and that it was a planned demolition carried out by experts. There is considerable proof to support this theory including eye witness accounts from the scene of the crime as well as holes that were drilled in the floor of the mosque to maximize destruction. This was not a simple al Qaeda-type car-bombing but a technically-demanding demolition operation.

The damning information in the New York Times article has been corroborated in many other publications including an official statement from the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI). According to the AMSI, Prime Minister Nouri al Mailiki replaced the Sunnis who had been guarding the site for over a year with Shiite government forces from the Interior Ministry. Their statement reads:

“Security forces arrived yesterday afternoon from Baghdad Tuesday for the receipt of the task of protecting two tombs instead of the existing force there. Somehow they obtained a scuffle followed by gunfire lasted two hours over control of security forces coming from Baghdad.”

So, the Sunni guards were replaced (after a scuffle) with goons from the Interior Ministry. The next day the minarets blow up.

Coincidence?

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki immediately issued statement where he claimed that the al Qaeda was responsible for the attack. At the same time, however, he arrested all 12 of the guards he sent from the Interior Ministry.

Why? Was he afraid they would talk to the media?

The Association of Muslim Scholars said that “last year’s explosion happened after a severe political crisis between blocs involved in the political process to the occupation. After the elections, the establishment of the government was blocked at that time. It is quite similar to the political crisis faced by the government and parliament today”.

The AMSI is right. The destruction of the Golden Dome Mosque took place soon after the Iraqi parliament rejected the US-plan for dividing Iraq. (“Federalism”) This time, the parliament has voted-down the US-plan to transfer control of Iraq’s vast petroleum reserves to the American oil giants via the “oil laws”.

The AMSI sees the bombing as a desperate attempt by the US occupation to break the logjam in Parliament over the oil laws and to conceal the failures of the “surge” by inciting sectarian violence. The only difference this time is that the Shiite militias have been less responsive to US manipulation. In fact, Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr has tried to stop his Mahdi Army from attacking Sunni areas and he has decried the bombing as another plot by US-Israeli intelligence agents operating in Iraq. He said that the incident reveals “the hidden hand of the occupier.”

He added, “This is what the occupiers brought to Iraq: a disintegration plot and fanning the flames of sectarian violence. Destroying the Askariya shrine goes exactly with the insurgents’ beliefs.”

Among Shiites, there’s nearly unanimous agreement that the US was behind the bombing. Middle East expert Juan Cole reports on his blog-site “Informed Comment, that protests have broken out in India, Pakistan, the Caucasus, Bahrain, Iran and other locations where there are high concentrations of Shiites. The consensus view is that the minarets were blown up as part of a larger US-Israeli strategy for controlling the Middle East.

But why would the Bush administration want to unleash a fresh wave of sectarian violence when they can’t even establish security in Baghdad?

Here’s what the AMSI says:

“Sectarian violence is an effective means to enable the militias to fully impose their control on (Sunni) neighborhoods and cities as it did after the bombings of Samarra….The government is also trying to control the capital of Baghdad; seeking to extend its power over other cities that reject the occupation, especially the cities of Baquba and Samarra”.

This is what is gained by the bombings—further ethnic cleansing of the Sunni neighborhoods and greater control over the public through a campaign of terror. It’s all part of a broader neocon strategy that centers on “creative destruction” rather than the traditional US policy of “regional stability

Final Comment

The bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque is a psychological operation (psy-ops) that evolved from the theories of former Counselor at the State Dept, Philip Zelikow, (Zelikow was also executive director of the 9-11 Commission and author of the National Security Strategy NSS) Zelikow “is an expert in “the creation and maintenance of ‘public myths’ or ‘public presumptions’, which he defines as beliefs thought to be true although not necessarily known to be true with certainty, shared in common with the relevant political community. He has taken a special interest in ‘searing’ or ‘molding’ events that take on ‘transcendent’ importance and, therefore, retain there power even as the experiencing generation passes from the scene”. (“Thinking about Political History” Miller Center report; winter 1999)

“In the Nov-Dec 1998 issue of Foreign Affairs he co-authored an article called ‘Catastrophic Terrorism’ in which he speculated that if the 1993 bombing of the World Trade center had succeeded ‘the resulting horror and chaos would have exceeded our ability to describe it. Such an act of catastrophic terrorism would be a watershed event in American history. ‘It could involve loss of life and property unprecedented in peacetime and undermine America’s fundamental sense of security, as did the Soviet bomb test in 1949. The US might respond with draconian measures scaling back civil liberties, allowing wider surveillance of citizens, detention of suspects and use of deadly force. More violence could follow, either future terrorist attacks or US counterattacks. Belatedly, Americans would judge their leaders negligent for not addressing terrorism more urgently”. (Wikipedia)

Zelikow’s theories help us understand how “catastrophic events” are being used to shape public consciousness and create a narrative that advances the political objectives of the people in power. The actual facts about the bombing of the shrine are have been intentionally suppressed while the prevailing theory—that we are fighting Al Qaida in Iraq—has been meticulously maintained with a solid wall of disinformation. The media has played a central role in this process by disseminating the official storyline from every outlet and newspaper without challenging the government’s “uncorroborated” assertions. This has had a deeply corrosive effect on American democracy.

The extraordinary expansion of state power has been legitimized by the deliberate misreading of “catastrophic events”. History, legal precedent and even cultural tradition have been brushed aside in an effort to rationalize a new order in which state repression, autocratic rule and aggressive war are deemed the requisite components of national security. The entire human experiment—dating back tens of thousands of years–is now conveniently divided into two parts: pre-9-11 and post 9-11.

The bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque has been used the same way as 9-11. A “unifying myth” has been build around a “catastrophic event” in a way that serves the overall goals of the political establishment. As we have seen, the facts don’t matter as long as the illusion that we are fighting terrorists is maintained. (According to Anthony H. Cordesman, an Iraqi specialist at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, al Qaida’s attacks make up only 15 per cent of the total in Iraq though they launch 80-90 per cent of the suicide bombings”. Patrick Cockburn).In reality, the US is engaged in a brutal colonial war that has destroyed a sovereign nation that posed no threat to American national security. That obvious fact never finds its way into America’s “free press”.

The Bush administration and their enablers in the Pentagon’s “Dept. of Strategic Information” will continue to promote their threadbare narrative of “foreign fighters and terrorists” until the Iraq mission collapses and the troops are withdrawn.

Until then, many more lives will be sacrificed to preserve the myth of a war on terror. Haitham Sabah al-Baderi was one such victim. His assassination has helped to conceal the fact that 700,000 Iraqis have been butchered without cause in their own country by Bush’s army.FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

see:

Bush’s War on Perception; the bombing of the Golden Mosque by Mike Whitney

The Battle of Gaza By Mike Whitney

The Black Sites

August 9, 2007

A Reporter at Large

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/08/13/070813fa_fact_mayer?printable=true

The Black Sites

A rare look inside the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program.

by Jane Mayer August 13, 2007

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In the war on terror, one historian says, the C.I.A. “didn’t just bring back the old psychological techniques—they perfected them.”

In the war on terror, one historian says, the C.I.A. “didn’t just bring back the old psychological techniques—they perfected them.”

Keywords
Mohammed, Khalid Sheikh;
Secret Interrogations;
Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.);
Al Qaeda;
Torture;
Pearl, Mariane;
Pearl, Daniel

In March, Mariane Pearl, the widow of the murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, received a phone call from Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General. At the time, Gonzales’s role in the controversial dismissal of eight United States Attorneys had just been exposed, and the story was becoming a scandal in Washington. Gonzales informed Pearl that the Justice Department was about to announce some good news: a terrorist in U.S. custody—Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Al Qaeda leader who was the primary architect of the September 11th attacks—had confessed to killing her husband. (Pearl was abducted and beheaded five and a half years ago in Pakistan, by unidentified Islamic militants.) The Administration planned to release a transcript in which Mohammed boasted, “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl in the city of Karachi, Pakistan. For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head.”

Pearl was taken aback. In 2003, she had received a call from Condoleezza Rice, who was then President Bush’s national-security adviser, informing her of the same news. But Rice’s revelation had been secret. Gonzales’s announcement seemed like a publicity stunt. Pearl asked him if he had proof that Mohammed’s confession was truthful; Gonzales claimed to have corroborating evidence but wouldn’t share it. “It’s not enough for officials to call me and say they believe it,” Pearl said. “You need evidence.” (Gonzales did not respond to requests for comment.)

The circumstances surrounding the confession of Mohammed, whom law-enforcement officials refer to as K.S.M., were perplexing. He had no lawyer. After his capture in Pakistan, in March of 2003, the Central Intelligence Agency had detained him in undisclosed locations for more than two years; last fall, he was transferred to military custody in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. There were no named witnesses to his initial confession, and no solid information about what form of interrogation might have prodded him to talk, although reports had been published, in the Times and elsewhere, suggesting that C.I.A. officers had tortured him. At a hearing held at Guantánamo, Mohammed said that his testimony was freely given, but he also indicated that he had been abused by the C.I.A. (The Pentagon had classified as “top secret” a statement he had written detailing the alleged mistreatment.) And although Mohammed said that there were photographs confirming his guilt, U.S. authorities had found none. Instead, they had a copy of the video that had been released on the Internet, which showed the killer’s arms but offered no other clues to his identity.

Further confusing matters, a Pakistani named Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh had already been convicted of the abduction and murder, in 2002. A British-educated terrorist who had a history of staging kidnappings, he had been sentenced to death in Pakistan for the crime. But the Pakistani government, not known for its leniency, had stayed his execution. Indeed, hearings on the matter had been delayed a remarkable number of times—at least thirty—possibly because of his reported ties to the Pakistani intelligence service, which may have helped free him after he was imprisoned for terrorist activities in India. Mohammed’s confession would delay the execution further, since, under Pakistani law, any new evidence is grounds for appeal.

A surprising number of people close to the case are dubious of Mohammed’s confession. A longtime friend of Pearl’s, the former Journal reporter Asra Nomani, said, “The release of the confession came right in the midst of the U.S. Attorney scandal. There was a drumbeat for Gonzales’s resignation. It seemed like a calculated strategy to change the subject. Why now? They’d had the confession for years.” Mariane and Daniel Pearl were staying in Nomani’s Karachi house at the time of his murder, and Nomani has followed the case meticulously; this fall, she plans to teach a course on the topic at Georgetown University. She said, “I don’t think this confession resolves the case. You can’t have justice from one person’s confession, especially under such unusual circumstances. To me, it’s not convincing.” She added, “I called all the investigators. They weren’t just skeptical—they didn’t believe it.”

Special Agent Randall Bennett, the head of security for the U.S. consulate in Karachi when Pearl was killed—and whose lead role investigating the murder was featured in the recent film “A Mighty Heart”—said that he has interviewed all the convicted accomplices who are now in custody in Pakistan, and that none of them named Mohammed as playing a role. “K.S.M.’s name never came up,” he said. Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. officer, said, “My old colleagues say with one-hundred-per-cent certainty that it was not K.S.M. who killed Pearl.” A government official involved in the case said, “The fear is that K.S.M. is covering up for others, and that these people will be released.” And Judea Pearl, Daniel’s father, said, “Something is fishy. There are a lot of unanswered questions. K.S.M. can say he killed Jesus—he has nothing to lose.”

Mariane Pearl, who is relying on the Bush Administration to bring justice in her husband’s case, spoke carefully about the investigation. “You need a procedure that will get the truth,” she said. “An intelligence agency is not supposed to be above the law.”

Mohammed’s interrogation was part of a secret C.I.A. program, initiated after September 11th, in which terrorist suspects such as Mohammed were detained in “black sites”—secret prisons outside the United States—and subjected to unusually harsh treatment. The program was effectively suspended last fall, when President Bush announced that he was emptying the C.I.A.’s prisons and transferring the detainees to military custody in Guantánamo. This move followed a Supreme Court ruling, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which found that all detainees—including those held by the C.I.A.—had to be treated in a manner consistent with the Geneva Conventions. These treaties, adopted in 1949, bar cruel treatment, degradation, and torture. In late July, the White House issued an executive order promising that the C.I.A. would adjust its methods in order to meet the Geneva standards. At the same time, Bush’s order pointedly did not disavow the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” that would likely be found illegal if used by officials inside the United States. The executive order means that the agency can once again hold foreign terror suspects indefinitely, and without charges, in black sites, without notifying their families or local authorities, or offering access to legal counsel.

The C.I.A.’s director, General Michael Hayden, has said that the program, which is designed to extract intelligence from suspects quickly, is an “irreplaceable” tool for combatting terrorism. And President Bush has said that “this program has given us information that has saved innocent lives, by helping us stop new attacks.” He claims that it has contributed to the disruption of at least ten serious Al Qaeda plots since September 11th, three of them inside the United States.

According to the Bush Administration, Mohammed divulged information of tremendous value during his detention. He is said to have helped point the way to the capture of Hambali, the Indonesian terrorist responsible for the 2002 bombings of night clubs in Bali. He also provided information on an Al Qaeda leader in England. Michael Sheehan, a former counterterrorism official at the State Department, said, “K.S.M. is the poster boy for using tough but legal tactics. He’s the reason these techniques exist. You can save lives with the kind of information he could give up.” Yet Mohammed’s confessions may also have muddled some key investigations. Perhaps under duress, he claimed involvement in thirty-one criminal plots—an improbable number, even for a high-level terrorist. Critics say that Mohammed’s case illustrates the cost of the C.I.A.’s desire for swift intelligence. Colonel Dwight Sullivan, the top defense lawyer at the Pentagon’s Office of Military Commissions, which is expected eventually to try Mohammed for war crimes, called his serial confessions “a textbook example of why we shouldn’t allow coercive methods.”

The Bush Administration has gone to great lengths to keep secret the treatment of the hundred or so “high-value detainees” whom the C.I.A. has confined, at one point or another, since September 11th. The program has been extraordinarily “compartmentalized,” in the nomenclature of the intelligence world. By design, there has been virtually no access for outsiders to the C.I.A.’s prisoners. The utter isolation of these detainees has been described as essential to America’s national security. The Justice Department argued this point explicitly last November, in the case of a Baltimore-area resident named Majid Khan, who was held for more than three years by the C.I.A. Khan, the government said, had to be prohibited from access to a lawyer specifically because he might describe the “alternative interrogation methods” that the agency had used when questioning him. These methods amounted to a state secret, the government argued, and disclosure of them could “reasonably be expected to cause extremely grave damage.” (The case has not yet been decided.)

Given this level of secrecy, the public and all but a few members of Congress who have been sworn to silence have had to take on faith President Bush’s assurances that the C.I.A.’s internment program has been humane and legal, and has yielded crucial intelligence. Representative Alcee Hastings, a Democratic member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, said, “We talk to the authorities about these detainees, but, of course, they’re not going to come out and tell us that they beat the living daylights out of someone.” He recalled learning in 2003 that Mohammed had been captured. “It was good news,” he said. “So I tried to find out: Where is this guy? And how is he being treated?” For more than three years, Hastings said, “I could never pinpoint anything.” Finally, he received some classified briefings on the Mohammed interrogation. Hastings said that he “can’t go into details” about what he found out, but, speaking of Mohammed’s treatment, he said that even if it wasn’t torture, as the Administration claims, “it ain’t right, either. Something went wrong.”

Since the drafting of the Geneva Conventions, the International Committee of the Red Cross has played a special role in safeguarding the rights of prisoners of war. For decades, governments have allowed officials from the organization to report on the treatment of detainees, to insure that standards set by international treaties are being maintained. The Red Cross, however, was unable to get access to the C.I.A.’s prisoners for five years. Finally, last year, Red Cross officials were allowed to interview fifteen detainees, after they had been transferred to Guantánamo. One of the prisoners was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. What the Red Cross learned has been kept from the public. The committee believes that its continued access to prisoners worldwide is contingent upon confidentiality, and therefore it addresses violations privately with the authorities directly responsible for prisoner treatment and detention. For this reason, Simon Schorno, a Red Cross spokesman in Washington, said, “The I.C.R.C. does not comment on its findings publicly. Its work is confidential.”

The public-affairs office at the C.I.A. and officials at the congressional intelligence-oversight committees would not even acknowledge the existence of the report. Among the few people who are believed to have seen it are Condoleezza Rice, now the Secretary of State; Stephen Hadley, the national-security adviser; John Bellinger III, the Secretary of State’s legal adviser; Hayden; and John Rizzo, the agency’s acting general counsel. Some members of the Senate and House intelligence-oversight committees are also believed to have had limited access to the report.

Confidentiality may be particularly stringent in this case. Congressional and other Washington sources familiar with the report said that it harshly criticized the C.I.A.’s practices. One of the sources said that the Red Cross described the agency’s detention and interrogation methods as tantamount to torture, and declared that American officials responsible for the abusive treatment could have committed serious crimes. The source said the report warned that these officials may have committed “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions, and may have violated the U.S. Torture Act, which Congress passed in 1994. The conclusions of the Red Cross, which is known for its credibility and caution, could have potentially devastating legal ramifications.

Concern about the legality of the C.I.A.’s program reached a previously unreported breaking point last week when Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat on the intelligence committee, quietly put a “hold” on the confirmation of John Rizzo, who as acting general counsel was deeply involved in establishing the agency’s interrogation and detention policies. Wyden’s maneuver essentially stops the nomination from going forward. “I question if there’s been adequate legal oversight,” Wyden told me. He said that after studying a classified addendum to President Bush’s new executive order, which specifies permissible treatment of detainees, “I am not convinced that all of these techniques are either effective or legal. I don’t want to see well-intentioned C.I.A. officers breaking the law because of shaky legal guidance.”

A former C.I.A. officer, who supports the agency’s detention and interrogation policies, said he worried that, if the full story of the C.I.A. program ever surfaced, agency personnel could face criminal prosecution. Within the agency, he said, there is a “high level of anxiety about political retribution” for the interrogation program. If congressional hearings begin, he said, “several guys expect to be thrown under the bus.” He noted that a number of C.I.A. officers have taken out professional liability insurance, to help with potential legal fees.

Paul Gimigliano, a spokesman for the C.I.A., denied any legal impropriety, stressing that “the agency’s terrorist-detention program has been implemented lawfully. And torture is illegal under U.S. law. The people who have been part of this important effort are well-trained, seasoned professionals.” This spring, the Associated Press published an article quoting the chairman of the House intelligence committee, Silvestre Reyes, who said that Hayden, the C.I.A. director, “vehemently denied” the Red Cross’s conclusions. A U.S. official dismissed the Red Cross report as a mere compilation of allegations made by terrorists. And Robert Grenier, a former head of the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center, said that “the C.I.A.’s interrogations were nothing like Abu Ghraib or Guantánamo. They were very, very regimented. Very meticulous.” He said, “The program is very careful. It’s completely legal.”

Accurately or not, Bush Administration officials have described the prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo as the unauthorized actions of ill-trained personnel, eleven of whom have been convicted of crimes. By contrast, the treatment of high-value detainees has been directly, and repeatedly, approved by President Bush. The program is monitored closely by C.I.A. lawyers, and supervised by the agency’s director and his subordinates at the Counterterrorism Center. While Mohammed was being held by the agency, detailed dossiers on the treatment of detainees were regularly available to the former C.I.A. director George Tenet, according to informed sources inside and outside the agency. Through a spokesperson, Tenet denied making day-to-day decisions about the treatment of individual detainees. But, according to a former agency official, “Every single plan is drawn up by interrogators, and then submitted for approval to the highest possible level—meaning the director of the C.I.A. Any change in the plan—even if an extra day of a certain treatment was added—was signed off by the C.I.A. director.”

On September 17, 2001, President Bush signed a secret Presidential finding authorizing the C.I.A. to create paramilitary teams to hunt, capture, detain, or kill designated terrorists almost anywhere in the world. Yet the C.I.A. had virtually no trained interrogators. A former C.I.A. officer involved in fighting terrorism said that, at first, the agency was crippled by its lack of expertise. “It began right away, in Afghanistan, on the fly,” he recalled. “They invented the program of interrogation with people who had no understanding of Al Qaeda or the Arab world.” The former officer said that the pressure from the White House, in particular from Vice-President Dick Cheney, was intense: “They were pushing us: ‘Get information! Do not let us get hit again!’ ” In the scramble, he said, he searched the C.I.A.’s archives, to see what interrogation techniques had worked in the past. He was particularly impressed with the Phoenix Program, from the Vietnam War. Critics, including military historians, have described it as a program of state-sanctioned torture and murder. A Pentagon-contract study found that, between 1970 and 1971, ninety-seven per cent of the Vietcong targeted by the Phoenix Program were of negligible importance. But, after September 11th, some C.I.A. officials viewed the program as a useful model. A. B. Krongard, who was the executive director of the C.I.A. from 2001 to 2004, said that the agency turned to “everyone we could, including our friends in Arab cultures,” for interrogation advice, among them those in Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, all of which the State Department regularly criticizes for human-rights abuses.

The C.I.A. knew even less about running prisons than it did about hostile interrogations. Tyler Drumheller, a former chief of European operations at the C.I.A., and the author of a recent book, “On the Brink: How the White House Compromised U.S. Intelligence,” said, “The agency had no experience in detention. Never. But they insisted on arresting and detaining people in this program. It was a mistake, in my opinion. You can’t mix intelligence and police work. But the White House was really pushing. They wanted someone to do it. So the C.I.A. said, ‘We’ll try.’ George Tenet came out of politics, not intelligence. His whole modus operandi was to please the principal. We got stuck with all sorts of things. This is really the legacy of a director who never said no to anybody.”

Many officials inside the C.I.A. had misgivings. “A lot of us knew this would be a can of worms,” the former officer said. “We warned them, It’s going to become an atrocious mess.” The problem from the start, he said, was that no one had thought through what he called “the disposal plan.” He continued, “What are you going to do with these people? The utility of someone like K.S.M. is, at most, six months to a year. You exhaust them. Then what? It would have been better if we had executed them.”

The C.I.A. program’s first important detainee was Abu Zubaydah, a top Al Qaeda operative, who was captured by Pakistani forces in March of 2002. Lacking in-house specialists on interrogation, the agency hired a group of outside contractors, who implemented a regime of techniques that one well-informed former adviser to the American intelligence community described as “a ‘Clockwork Orange’ kind of approach.” The experts were retired military psychologists, and their backgrounds were in training Special Forces soldiers how to survive torture, should they ever be captured by enemy states. The program, known as SERE—an acronym for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape—was created at the end of the Korean War. It subjected trainees to simulated torture, including waterboarding (simulated drowning), sleep deprivation, isolation, exposure to temperature extremes, enclosure in tiny spaces, bombardment with agonizing sounds, and religious and sexual humiliation. The SERE program was designed strictly for defense against torture regimes, but the C.I.A.’s new team used its expertise to help interrogators inflict abuse. “They were very arrogant, and pro-torture,” a European official knowledgeable about the program said. “They sought to render the detainees vulnerable—to break down all of their senses. It takes a psychologist trained in this to understand these rupturing experiences.”

The use of psychologists was also considered a way for C.I.A. officials to skirt measures such as the Convention Against Torture. The former adviser to the intelligence community said, “Clearly, some senior people felt they needed a theory to justify what they were doing. You can’t just say, ‘We want to do what Egypt’s doing.’ When the lawyers asked what their basis was, they could say, ‘We have Ph.D.s who have these theories.’ ” He said that, inside the C.I.A., where a number of scientists work, there was strong internal opposition to the new techniques. “Behavioral scientists said, ‘Don’t even think about this!’ They thought officers could be prosecuted.”

Nevertheless, the SERE experts’ theories were apparently put into practice with Zubaydah’s interrogation. Zubaydah told the Red Cross that he was not only waterboarded, as has been previously reported; he was also kept for a prolonged period in a cage, known as a “dog box,” which was so small that he could not stand. According to an eyewitness, one psychologist advising on the treatment of Zubaydah, James Mitchell, argued that he needed to be reduced to a state of “learned helplessness.” (Mitchell disputes this characterization.)

Steve Kleinman, a reserve Air Force colonel and an experienced interrogator who has known Mitchell professionally for years, said that “learned helplessness was his whole paradigm.” Mitchell, he said, “draws a diagram showing what he says is the whole cycle. It starts with isolation. Then they eliminate the prisoners’ ability to forecast the future—when their next meal is, when they can go to the bathroom. It creates dread and dependency. It was the K.G.B. model. But the K.G.B. used it to get people who had turned against the state to confess falsely. The K.G.B. wasn’t after intelligence.”

As the C.I.A. captured and interrogated other Al Qaeda figures, it established a protocol of psychological coercion. The program tied together many strands of the agency’s secret history of Cold War-era experiments in behavioral science. (In June, the C.I.A. declassified long-held secret documents known as the Family Jewels, which shed light on C.I.A. drug experiments on rats and monkeys, and on the infamous case of Frank R. Olson, an agency employee who leaped to his death from a hotel window in 1953, nine days after he was unwittingly drugged with LSD.) The C.I.A.’s most useful research focussed on the surprisingly powerful effects of psychological manipulations, such as extreme sensory deprivation. According to Alfred McCoy, a history professor at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, who has written a history of the C.I.A.’s experiments in coercing subjects, the agency learned that “if subjects are confined without light, odors, sound, or any fixed references of time and place, very deep breakdowns can be provoked.”

Agency scientists found that in just a few hours some subjects suspended in water tanks—or confined in isolated rooms wearing blacked-out goggles and earmuffs—regressed to semi-psychotic states. Moreover, McCoy said, detainees become so desperate for human interaction that “they bond with the interrogator like a father, or like a drowning man having a lifesaver thrown at him. If you deprive people of all their senses, they’ll turn to you like their daddy.” McCoy added that “after the Cold War we put away those tools. There was bipartisan reform. We backed away from those dark days. Then, under the pressure of the war on terror, they didn’t just bring back the old psychological techniques—they perfected them.”

The C.I.A.’s interrogation program is remarkable for its mechanistic aura. “It’s one of the most sophisticated, refined programs of torture ever,” an outside expert familiar with the protocol said. “At every stage, there was a rigid attention to detail. Procedure was adhered to almost to the letter. There was top-down quality control, and such a set routine that you get to the point where you know what each detainee is going to say, because you’ve heard it before. It was almost automated. People were utterly dehumanized. People fell apart. It was the intentional and systematic infliction of great suffering masquerading as a legal process. It is just chilling.”

The U.S. government first began tracking Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 1993, shortly after his nephew Ramzi Yousef blew a gaping hole in the World Trade Center. Mohammed, officials learned, had transferred money to Yousef. Mohammed, born in either 1964 or 1965, was raised in a religious Sunni Muslim family in Kuwait, where his family had migrated from the Baluchistan region of Pakistan. In the mid-eighties, he was trained as a mechanical engineer in the U.S., attending two colleges in North Carolina.

As a teen-ager, Mohammed had been drawn to militant, and increasingly violent, Muslim causes. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood at the age of sixteen, and, after his graduation from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, in Greensboro—where he was remembered as a class clown, but religious enough to forgo meat when eating at Burger King—he signed on with the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan, receiving military training and establishing ties with Islamist terrorists. By all accounts, his animus toward the U.S. was rooted in a hatred of Israel.

In 1994, Mohammed, who was impressed by Yousef’s notoriety after the first World Trade Center bombing, joined him in scheming to blow up twelve U.S. jumbo jets over two days. The so-called Bojinka plot was disrupted in 1995, when Philippine police broke into an apartment that Yousef and other terrorists were sharing in Manila, which was filled with bomb-making materials. At the time of the raid, Mohammed was working in Doha, Qatar, at a government job. The following year, he narrowly escaped capture by F.B.I. officers and slipped into the global jihadist network, where he eventually joined forces with Osama bin Laden, in Afghanistan. Along the way, he married and had children.

Many journalistic accounts have presented Mohammed as a charismatic, swashbuckling figure: in the Philippines, he was said to have flown a helicopter close enough to a girlfriend’s office window so that she could see him; in Pakistan, he supposedly posed as an anonymous bystander and gave interviews to news reporters about his nephew’s arrest. Neither story is true. But Mohammed did seem to enjoy taunting authorities after the September 11th attacks, which, in his eventual confession, he claimed to have orchestrated “from A to Z.” In April, 2002, Mohammed arranged to be interviewed on Al Jazeera by its London bureau chief, Yosri Fouda, and took personal credit for the atrocities. “I am the head of the Al Qaeda military committee,” he said. “And yes, we did it.” Fouda, who conducted the interview at an Al Qaeda safe house in Karachi, said that he was astounded not only by Mohammed’s boasting but also by his seeming imperviousness to the danger of being caught. Mohammed permitted Al Jazeera to reveal that he was hiding out in the Karachi area. When Fouda left the apartment, Mohammed, apparently unarmed, walked him downstairs and out into the street.

In the early months of 2003, U.S. authorities reportedly paid a twenty-five-million-dollar reward for information that led to Mohammed’s arrest. U.S. officials closed in on him, at 4 A.M. on March 1st, waking him up in a borrowed apartment in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The officials hung back as Pakistani authorities handcuffed and hooded him, and took him to a safe house. Reportedly, for the first two days, Mohammed robotically recited Koranic verses and refused to divulge much more than his name. A videotape obtained by “60 Minutes” shows Mohammed at the end of this episode, complaining of a head cold; an American voice can be heard in the background. This was the last image of Mohammed to be seen by the public. By March 4th, he was in C.I.A. custody.

Captured along with Mohammed, according to some accounts, was a letter from bin Laden, which may have led officials to think that he knew where the Al Qaeda founder was hiding. If Mohammed did have this crucial information, it was time sensitive—bin Laden never stayed in one place for long—and officials needed to extract it quickly. At the time, many American intelligence officials still feared a “second wave” of Al Qaeda attacks, ratcheting the pressure further.

According to George Tenet’s recent memoir, “At the Center of the Storm,” Mohammed told his captors that he wouldn’t talk until he was given a lawyer in New York, where he assumed he would be taken. (He had been indicted there in connection with the Bojinka plot.) Tenet writes, “Had that happened, I am confident that we would have obtained none of the information he had in his head about imminent threats against the American people.” Opponents of the C.I.A.’s approach, however, note that Ramzi Yousef gave a voluminous confession after being read his Miranda rights. “These guys are egomaniacs,” a former federal prosecutor said. “They love to talk!”

A complete picture of Mohammed’s time in secret detention remains elusive. But a partial narrative has emerged through interviews with European and American sources in intelligence, government, and legal circles, as well as with former detainees who have been released from C.I.A. custody. People familiar with Mohammed’s allegations about his interrogation, and interrogations of other high-value detainees, describe the accounts as remarkably consistent.

Soon after Mohammed’s arrest, sources say, his American captors told him, “We’re not going to kill you. But we’re going to take you to the very brink of your death and back.” He was first taken to a secret U.S.-run prison in Afghanistan. According to a Human Rights Watch report released two years ago, there was a C.I.A.-affiliated black site in Afghanistan by 2002: an underground prison near Kabul International Airport. Distinctive for its absolute lack of light, it was referred to by detainees as the Dark Prison. Another detention facility was reportedly a former brick factory, just north of Kabul, known as the Salt Pit. The latter became infamous for the 2002 death of a detainee, reportedly from hypothermia, after prison officials stripped him naked and chained him to the floor of his concrete cell, in freezing temperatures.

In all likelihood, Mohammed was transported from Pakistan to one of the Afghan sites by a team of black-masked commandos attached to the C.I.A.’s paramilitary Special Activities Division. According to a report adopted in June by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, titled “Secret Detentions and Illegal Transfers of Detainees,” detainees were “taken to their cells by strong people who wore black outfits, masks that covered their whole faces, and dark visors over their eyes.” (Some personnel reportedly wore black clothes made from specially woven synthetic fabric that couldn’t be ripped or torn.) A former member of a C.I.A. transport team has described the “takeout” of prisoners as a carefully choreographed twenty-minute routine, during which a suspect was hog-tied, stripped naked, photographed, hooded, sedated with anal suppositories, placed in diapers, and transported by plane to a secret location.

A person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry, referring to cavity searches and the frequent use of suppositories during the takeout of detainees, likened the treatment to “sodomy.” He said, “It was used to absolutely strip the detainee of any dignity. It breaks down someone’s sense of impenetrability. The interrogation became a process not just of getting information but of utterly subordinating the detainee through humiliation.” The former C.I.A. officer confirmed that the agency frequently photographed the prisoners naked, “because it’s demoralizing.” The person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry said that photos were also part of the C.I.A.’s quality-control process. They were passed back to case officers for review.

A secret government document, dated December 10, 2002, detailing “SERE Interrogation Standard Operating Procedure,” outlines the advantages of stripping detainees. “In addition to degradation of the detainee, stripping can be used to demonstrate the omnipotence of the captor or to debilitate the detainee.” The document advises interrogators to “tear clothing from detainees by firmly pulling downward against buttoned buttons and seams. Tearing motions shall be downward to prevent pulling the detainee off balance.” The memo also advocates the “Shoulder Slap,” “Stomach Slap,” “Hooding,” “Manhandling,” “Walling,” and a variety of “Stress Positions,” including one called “Worship the Gods.”

In the process of being transported, C.I.A. detainees such as Mohammed were screened by medical experts, who checked their vital signs, took blood samples, and marked a chart with a diagram of a human body, noting scars, wounds, and other imperfections. As the person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry put it, “It’s like when you hire a motor vehicle, circling where the scratches are on the rearview mirror. Each detainee was continually assessed, physically and psychologically.”

According to sources, Mohammed said that, while in C.I.A. custody, he was placed in his own cell, where he remained naked for several days. He was questioned by an unusual number of female handlers, perhaps as an additional humiliation. He has alleged that he was attached to a dog leash, and yanked in such a way that he was propelled into the walls of his cell. Sources say that he also claimed to have been suspended from the ceiling by his arms, his toes barely touching the ground. The pressure on his wrists evidently became exceedingly painful.

Ramzi Kassem, who teaches at Yale Law School, said that a Yemeni client of his, Sanad al-Kazimi, who is now in Guantánamo, alleged that he had received similar treatment in the Dark Prison, the facility near Kabul. Kazimi claimed to have been suspended by his arms for long periods, causing his legs to swell painfully. “It’s so traumatic, he can barely speak of it,” Kassem said. “He breaks down in tears.” Kazimi also claimed that, while hanging, he was beaten with electric cables.

According to sources familiar with interrogation techniques, the hanging position is designed, in part, to prevent detainees from being able to sleep. The former C.I.A. officer, who is knowledgeable about the interrogation program, explained that “sleep deprivation works. Your electrolyte balance changes. You lose all balance and ability to think rationally. Stuff comes out.” Sleep deprivation has been recognized as an effective form of coercion since the Middle Ages, when it was called tormentum insomniae. It was also recognized for decades in the United States as an illegal form of torture. An American Bar Association report, published in 1930, which was cited in a later U.S. Supreme Court decision, said, “It has been known since 1500 at least that deprivation of sleep is the most effective torture and certain to produce any confession desired.”

Under President Bush’s new executive order, C.I.A. detainees must receive the “basic necessities of life, including adequate food and water, shelter from the elements, necessary clothing, protection from extremes of heat and cold, and essential medical care.” Sleep, according to the order, is not among the basic necessities.

In addition to keeping a prisoner awake, the simple act of remaining upright can over time cause significant pain. McCoy, the historian, noted that “longtime standing” was a common K.G.B. interrogation technique. In his 2006 book, “A Question of Torture,” he writes that the Soviets found that making a victim stand for eighteen to twenty-four hours can produce “excruciating pain, as ankles double in size, skin becomes tense and intensely painful, blisters erupt oozing watery serum, heart rates soar, kidneys shut down, and delusions deepen.”

Mohammed is said to have described being chained naked to a metal ring in his cell wall for prolonged periods in a painful crouch. (Several other detainees who say that they were confined in the Dark Prison have described identical treatment.) He also claimed that he was kept alternately in suffocating heat and in a painfully cold room, where he was doused with ice water. The practice, which can cause hypothermia, violates the Geneva Conventions, and President Bush’s new executive order arguably bans it.

Some detainees held by the C.I.A. claimed that their cells were bombarded with deafening sound twenty-fours hours a day for weeks, and even months. One detainee, Binyam Mohamed, who is now in Guantánamo, told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, that speakers blared music into his cell while he was handcuffed. Detainees recalled the sound as ranging from ghoulish laughter, “like the soundtrack from a horror film,” to ear-splitting rap anthems. Stafford Smith said that his client found the psychological torture more intolerable than the physical abuse that he said he had been previously subjected to in Morocco, where, he said, local intelligence agents had sliced him with a razor blade. “The C.I.A. worked people day and night for months,” Stafford Smith quoted Binyam Mohamed as saying. “Plenty lost their minds. I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and doors, screaming their heads off.”

Professor Kassem said his Yemeni client, Kazimi, had told him that, during his incarceration in the Dark Prison, he attempted suicide three times, by ramming his head into the walls. “He did it until he lost consciousness,” Kassem said. “Then they stitched him back up. So he did it again. The next time, he woke up, he was chained, and they’d given him tranquillizers. He asked to go to the bathroom, and then he did it again.” This last time, Kazimi was given more tranquillizers, and chained in a more confining manner.

The case of Khaled el-Masri, another detainee, has received wide attention. He is the German car salesman whom the C.I.A. captured in 2003 and dispatched to Afghanistan, based on erroneous intelligence; he was released in 2004, and Condoleezza Rice reportedly conceded the mistake to the German chancellor. Masri is considered one of the more credible sources on the black-site program, because Germany has confirmed that he has no connections to terrorism. He has also described inmates bashing their heads against the walls. Much of his account appeared on the front page of the Times. But, during a visit to America last fall, he became tearful as he recalled the plight of a Tanzanian in a neighboring cell. The man seemed “psychologically at the end,” he said. “I could hear him ramming his head against the wall in despair. I tried to calm him down. I asked the doctor, ‘Will you take care of this human being?’ ” But the doctor, whom Masri described as American, refused to help. Masri also said that he was told that guards had “locked the Tanzanian in a suitcase for long periods of time—a foul-smelling suitcase that made him vomit.” (Masri did not witness such abuse.)

Masri described his prison in Afghanistan as a filthy hole, with walls scribbled on in Pashtun and Arabic. He was given no bed, only a coarse blanket on the floor. At night, it was too cold to sleep. He said, “The water was putrid. If you took a sip, you could taste it for hours. You could smell a foul smell from it three metres away.” The Salt Pit, he said, “was managed and run by the Americans. It was not a secret. They introduced themselves as Americans.” He added, “When anything came up, they said they couldn’t make a decision. They said, ‘We will have to pass it on to Washington.’ ” The interrogation room at the Salt Pit, he said, was overseen by a half-dozen English-speaking masked men, who shoved him and shouted at him, saying, “You’re in a country where there’s no rule of law. You might be buried here.”

According to two former C.I.A. officers, an interrogator of Mohammed told them that the Pakistani was kept in a cell over which a sign was placed: “The Proud Murderer of 3,000 Americans.” (Another source calls this apocryphal.) One of these former officers defends the C.I.A.’s program by noting that “there was absolutely nothing done to K.S.M. that wasn’t done to the interrogators themselves”—a reference to SERE-like training. Yet the Red Cross report emphasizes that it was the simultaneous use of several techniques for extended periods that made the treatment “especially abusive.” Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who has been a prominent critic of the Administration’s embrace of harsh interrogation techniques, said that, particularly with sensory deprivation, “there’s a point where it’s torture. You can put someone in a refrigerator and it’s torture. Everything is a matter of degree.”

One day, Mohammed was apparently transferred to a specially designated prison for high-value detainees in Poland. Such transfers were so secretive, according to the report by the Council of Europe, that the C.I.A. filed dummy flight plans, indicating that the planes were heading elsewhere. Once Polish air space was entered, the Polish aviation authority would secretly shepherd the flight, leaving no public documentation. The Council of Europe report notes that the Polish authorities would file a one-way flight plan out of the country, creating a false paper trail. (The Polish government has strongly denied that any black sites were established in the country.)

No more than a dozen high-value detainees were held at the Polish black site, and none have been released from government custody; accordingly, no first-hand accounts of conditions there have emerged. But, according to well-informed sources, it was a far more high-tech facility than the prisons in Afghanistan. The cells had hydraulic doors and air-conditioning. Multiple cameras in each cell provided video surveillance of the detainees. In some ways, the circumstances were better: the detainees were given bottled water. Without confirming the existence of any black sites, Robert Grenier, the former C.I.A. counterterrorism chief, said, “The agency’s techniques became less aggressive as they learned the art of interrogation,” which, he added, “is an art.”

Mohammed was kept in a prolonged state of sensory deprivation, during which every point of reference was erased. The Council on Europe’s report describes a four-month isolation regime as typical. The prisoners had no exposure to natural light, making it impossible for them to tell if it was night or day. They interacted only with masked, silent guards. (A detainee held at what was most likely an Eastern European black site, Mohammed al-Asad, told me that white noise was piped in constantly, although during electrical outages he could hear people crying.) According to a source familiar with the Red Cross report, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed claimed that he was shackled and kept naked, except for a pair of goggles and earmuffs. (Some prisoners were kept naked for as long as forty days.) He had no idea where he was, although, at one point, he apparently glimpsed Polish writing on a water bottle.

In the C.I.A.’s program, meals were delivered sporadically, to insure that the prisoners remained temporally disoriented. The food was largely tasteless, and barely enough to live on. Mohammed, who upon his capture in Rawalpindi was photographed looking flabby and unkempt, was now described as being slim. Experts on the C.I.A. program say that the administering of food is part of its psychological arsenal. Sometimes portions were smaller than the day before, for no apparent reason. “It was all part of the conditioning,” the person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry said. “It’s all calibrated to develop dependency.”

The inquiry source said that most of the Poland detainees were waterboarded, including Mohammed. According to the sources familiar with the Red Cross report, Mohammed claimed to have been waterboarded five times. Two former C.I.A. officers who are friends with one of Mohammed’s interrogators called this bravado, insisting that he was waterboarded only once. According to one of the officers, Mohammed needed only to be shown the drowning equipment again before he “broke.”

“Waterboarding works,” the former officer said. “Drowning is a baseline fear. So is falling. People dream about it. It’s human nature. Suffocation is a very scary thing. When you’re waterboarded, you’re inverted, so it exacerbates the fear. It’s not painful, but it scares the shit out of you.” (The former officer was waterboarded himself in a training course.) Mohammed, he claimed, “didn’t resist. He sang right away. He cracked real quick.” He said, “A lot of them want to talk. Their egos are unimaginable. K.S.M. was just a little doughboy. He couldn’t stand toe to toe and fight it out.”

The former officer said that the C.I.A. kept a doctor standing by during interrogations. He insisted that the method was safe and effective, but said that it could cause lasting psychic damage to the interrogators. During interrogations, the former agency official said, officers worked in teams, watching each other behind two-way mirrors. Even with this group support, the friend said, Mohammed’s interrogator “has horrible nightmares.” He went on, “When you cross over that line of darkness, it’s hard to come back. You lose your soul. You can do your best to justify it, but it’s well outside the norm. You can’t go to that dark a place without it changing you.” He said of his friend, “He’s a good guy. It really haunts him. You are inflicting something really evil and horrible on somebody.”

Among the few C.I.A. officials who knew the details of the detention and interrogation program, there was a tense debate about where to draw the line in terms of treatment. John Brennan, Tenet’s former chief of staff, said, “It all comes down to individual moral barometers.” Waterboarding, in particular, troubled many officials, from both a moral and a legal perspective. Until 2002, when Bush Administration lawyers asserted that waterboarding was a permissible interrogation technique for “enemy combatants,” it was classified as a form of torture, and treated as a serious criminal offense. American soldiers were court-martialled for waterboarding captives as recently as the Vietnam War.

A C.I.A. source said that Mohammed was subjected to waterboarding only after interrogators determined that he was hiding information from them. But Mohammed has apparently said that, even after he started coöperating, he was waterboarded. Footnotes to the 9/11 Commission report indicate that by April 17, 2003—a month and a half after he was captured—Mohammed had already started providing substantial information on Al Qaeda. Nonetheless, according to the person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry, he was kept in isolation for years. During this time, Mohammed supplied intelligence on the history of the September 11th plot, and on the structure and operations of Al Qaeda. He also described plots still in a preliminary phase of development, such as a plan to bomb targets on America’s West Coast.

Ultimately, however, Mohammed claimed responsibility for so many crimes that his testimony became to seem inherently dubious. In addition to confessing to the Pearl murder, he said that he had hatched plans to assassinate President Clinton, President Carter, and Pope John Paul II. Bruce Riedel, who was a C.I.A. analyst for twenty-nine years, and who now works at the Brookings Institution, said, “It’s difficult to give credence to any particular area of this large a charge sheet that he confessed to, considering the situation he found himself in. K.S.M. has no prospect of ever seeing freedom again, so his only gratification in life is to portray himself as the James Bond of jihadism.”

By 2004, there were growing calls within the C.I.A. to transfer to military custody the high-value detainees who had told interrogators what they knew, and to afford them some kind of due process. But Donald Rumsfeld, then the Defense Secretary, who had been heavily criticized for the abusive conditions at military prisons such as Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, refused to take on the agency’s detainees, a former top C.I.A. official said. “Rumsfeld’s attitude was, You’ve got a real problem.” Rumsfeld, the official said, “was the third most powerful person in the U.S. government, but he only looked out for the interests of his department—not the whole Administration.” (A spokesperson for Rumsfeld said that he had no comment.)

C.I.A. officials were stymied until the Supreme Court’s Hamdan ruling, which prompted the Administration to send what it said were its last high-value detainees to Cuba. Robert Grenier, like many people in the C.I.A., was relieved. “There has to be some sense of due process,” he said. “We can’t just make people disappear.” Still, he added, “The most important source of intelligence we had after 9/11 came from the interrogations of high-value detainees.” And he said that Mohammed was “the most valuable of the high-value detainees, because he had operational knowledge.” He went on, “I can respect people who oppose aggressive interrogations, but they should admit that their principles may be putting American lives at risk.”

Yet Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission and later the State Department’s top counsellor, under Rice, is not convinced that eliciting information from detainees justifies “physical torment.” After leaving the government last year, he gave a speech in Houston, in which he said, “The question would not be, Did you get information that proved useful? Instead it would be, Did you get information that could have been usefully gained only from these methods?” He concluded, “My own view is that the cool, carefully considered, methodical, prolonged, and repeated subjection of captives to physical torment, and the accompanying psychological terror, is immoral.”

Without more transparency, the value of the C.I.A.’s interrogation and detention program is impossible to evaluate. Setting aside the moral, ethical, and legal issues, even supporters, such as John Brennan, acknowledge that much of the information that coercion produces is unreliable. As he put it, “All these methods produced useful information, but there was also a lot that was bogus.” When pressed, one former top agency official estimated that “ninety per cent of the information was unreliable.” Cables carrying Mohammed’s interrogation transcripts back to Washington reportedly were prefaced with the warning that “the detainee has been known to withhold information or deliberately mislead.” Mohammed, like virtually all the top Al Qaeda prisoners held by the C.I.A., has claimed that, while under coercion, he lied to please his captors.

In theory, a military commission could sort out which parts of Mohammed’s confession are true and which are lies, and obtain a conviction. Colonel Morris D. Davis, the chief prosecutor at the Office of Military Commissions, said that he expects to bring charges against Mohammed “in a number of months.” He added, “I’d be shocked if the defense didn’t try to make K.S.M.’s treatment a problem for me, but I don’t think it will be insurmountable.”

Critics of the Administration fear that the unorthodox nature of the C.I.A.’s interrogation and detention program will make it impossible to prosecute the entire top echelon of Al Qaeda leaders in captivity. Already, according to the Wall Street Journal, credible allegations of torture have caused a Marine Corps prosecutor reluctantly to decline to bring charges against Mohamedou Ould Slahi, an alleged Al Qaeda leader held in Guantánamo. Bruce Riedel, the former C.I.A. analyst, asked, “What are you going to do with K.S.M. in the long run? It’s a very good question. I don’t think anyone has an answer. If you took him to any real American court, I think any judge would say there is no admissible evidence. It would be thrown out.”

The problems with Mohammed’s coerced confessions are especially glaring in the Daniel Pearl case. It may be that Mohammed killed Pearl, but contradictory evidence and opinion continue to surface. Yosri Fouda, the Al Jazeera reporter who interviewed Mohammed in Karachi, said that although Mohammed handed him a package of propaganda items, including an unedited video of the Pearl murder, he never identified himself as playing a role in the killing, which occurred in the same city just two months earlier. And a federal official involved in Mohammed’s case said, “He has no history of killing with his own hands, although he’s proved happy to commit mass murder from afar.” Al Qaeda’s leadership had increasingly focussed on symbolic political targets. “For him, it’s not personal,” the official said. “It’s business.”

Ordinarily, the U.S. legal system is known for resolving such mysteries with painstaking care. But the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program, Senator Levin said, has undermined the public’s trust in American justice, both here and abroad. “A guy as dangerous as K.S.M. is, and half the world wonders if they can believe him—is that what we want?” he asked. “Statements that can’t be believed, because people think they rely on torture?”

Asra Nomani, the Pearls’ friend, said of the Mohammed confession, “I’m not interested in unfair justice, even for bad people.” She went on, “Danny was such a person of conscience. I don’t think he would have wanted all of this dirty business. I don’t think he would have wanted someone being tortured. He would have been repulsed. This is the kind of story that Danny would have investigated. He really believed in American principles.”

Obama might send troops into Pakistan

August 2, 2007

Obama might send troops into Pakistan

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press WriterWed Aug 1, 8:22 AM ET

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday that he would possibly send troops into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists, an attempt to show strength when his chief rival has described his foreign policy skills as naive.

The Illinois senator warned Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf that he must do more to shut down terrorist operations in his country and evict foreign fighters under an Obama presidency, or Pakistan will risk a U.S. troop invasion and losing hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid.

“Let me make this clear,” Obama said in a speech prepared for delivery at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al-Qaida leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”

The excerpts were provided by the Obama campaign in advance of the speech.

Obama’s speech comes the week after his rivalry with New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton erupted into a public fight over their diplomatic intentions.

Obama said he would be willing to meet leaders of rogue states like Cuba, North Korea and Iran without conditions, an idea that Clinton criticized as irresponsible and naive. Obama responded by using the same words to describe Clinton’s vote to authorize the Iraq war and called her “Bush-Cheney lite.”

The speech was a condemnation of President Bush’s leadership in the war on terror. He said the focus on Iraq has left Americans in more danger than before Sept. 11, 2001, and that Bush has misrepresented the enemy as Iraqis who are fighting a civil war instead of the terrorists responsible for the attacks six years ago.

“He confuses our mission,” Obama said, then he spread responsibility to lawmakers like Clinton who voted for the invasion. “By refusing to end the war in Iraq, President Bush is giving the terrorists what they really want, and what the Congress voted to give them in 2002: a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.”

Obama said that as commander in chief he would remove troops from Iraq and putting them “on the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” He said he would send at least two more brigades to Afghanistan and increase nonmilitary aid to the country by $1 billion.

He also said he would create a three-year, $5 billion program to share intelligence with allies worldwide to take out terrorist networks from Indonesia to Africa.

___

Bush Speechwriter Calls for Attack on Syria By Gary Leupp

July 26, 2007

Bush Speechwriter Calls for Attack on Syria By Gary Leupp


Gerson’s Crusade Against “Low-Hanging Fruit”


By GARY LEUPP
ICH
07/25/07 “Counterpunch

Neocon officials in the Defense Department call them “low-hanging fruit“— as though countries were produce ripe for picking and eating. The term refers to nations targeted for regime change that might be achieved with minimal strain, at least when compared with the effort needed to topple the regime in Iran. Some neocons are beginning to concede that the effort might not be feasible at this time (not that they would be climbing the tree and plucking the fruit; they’d stand below advising on how it should be done). They’re advocating instead that the Bush administration move soon against Syria.

From late 2003 to late 2005 it looked to me as though Syria would be the next “Terror War” target, largely because of Bush’s rhetoric, Israeli aggression against Syria and the Israeli propaganda campaign against Syria (suggesting that the missing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq had been transported over the border into the Arab state). But then the Israeli government and Lobby urged the Bush administration to focus its energies on attacking Iran. (Asked by the administration for suggestions for a new leader in Syria to be installed after the toppling of Bashar al-Assad, the Israelis said they couldn’t think of one. This position has been repeated as recently as March 2007.) In any case the Israeli government sees Iran as the “existential threat” to itself, Syria more of an irritation.

But the advocated Iran attack has been long-delayed. The neocons have lost some influence, although they remain highly dangerous and influential. Rapid Islamophobes like Elliott Abrams, David Wurmser, Eric Edelman and Eliot Cohen retain their posts, while neocon ideologues such as Bill Kristol enjoy access to cable TV audiences and readers of op-ed pieces in the most widely-read newspapers. The latter very often articulate the view of Vice President Cheney’s circle. Cheney is known to be frustrated at the postponement of the planned Iran attack.

In this context, former Bush speechwriter and Christian rightist Michael Gerson published an op-ed in the Washington Post last Friday calling for an attack on Syria to stop its alleged support for the resistance in Iraq. He revives the horticultural metaphor. “Syria. . . . is what one former administration official calls ‘lower-hanging fruit,’” Gerson writes, adding “Syria’s Baathist regime provides a base of operations for its Iraqi Baathist comrades involved in the Sunni insurgency.” He immediately adds, “Suicide bombers from Saudi Arabia and North Africa arrive by plane in Damascus, and, with the help of facilitators, some 50 to 80 cross into Iraq each month. The Syrians say they lack the ability to stop them; what they lack is the intention.” He calls for “forceful action against Syria’s Ho Chi Minh Trail of terrorists.”

Absent here is any indication of a mature understanding of the complexity of the Arab world. We’re to believe that Syrian Baathists (secularists) are helping their “Iraqi Baathist comrades” by facilitating anti-Baathist, Islamist Saudis and North Africans’ passage into Iraq? It doesn’t make sense. Those jihadis, the Los Angeles Times reported last month, include 45% Saudis; 15% are either Syrian or Lebanese, 10% North African, 30% other. U.S. generals on the ground have repeatedly acknowledged that these fighters are a tiny fraction of the forces resisting the U.S. occupation. http://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/05/06/09/168406.html The Saudis are responsible for the bulk of suicide bombings, and through their actions acquire a disproportionate ability to affect the overall political and military situation, but they have become increasingly shunned by the mainstream Iraqi resistance. They certainly feel little camaraderie with Baathists of any nationality!

The Syrian government has repeatedly stated that it is trying to prevent the passage of jihadis over its long border with Iraq into the U.S. occupied country. It (like Iran) enjoys cordial relations with the Iraqi regime brought to power by the U.S. The idea that it would help create a “trail of terrorists” at a time that it’s in the Bush administration’s crosshairs, accused of responsibility for the Hariri assassination and support for Palestinian and Lebanese “terrorism,” is inherently implausible, and the suggestion that the existence of such a trail is a product of Syrian and Iraqi Baathist cooperation is laughable given the composition of the “insurgency.” The Syrian government, concerned about its own survival, has indeed been seeking negotiations with the U.S. to resolve differences between the countries.

The Ho Chi Minh Trail analogy is stupid. That Trail was a well-coordinated logistical system that brought fighters and supplies from one part of Vietnam to another part of Vietnam through Laotian and Cambodian territory controlled by Marxist allies. The Syrian “Ho Chi Minh Trail” to which Gerson alludes is the supply line from the Euphrates (Iraqi) border town of al-Qaim to Baghdad, through which foreign fighters interested in joining the jihad against the U.S. invaders often pass. It is not the production of a state in alliance with a movement seeking national reunification. It’s a route for the movement of international Islamist fighters produced by the power vacuum created by an invasion.

But why should facts matter to Michael Gerson? As Bush’s chief speechwriter from 2001 to June 2006, he may have come up with the “axis of evil” phrase (although some attribute this to David Frum). As a member of the White House Iraq Group, tasked to disseminate frightening disinformation about Iraq preparatory to the attack on Iraq in March 2003, he proposed the “smoking gun turns into a mushroom cloud” metaphor used by Bush, Cheney and Rice in late 2002 to frighten the nation into war. He was selected as on of the top 25 Christian evangelicals in America by Time Magazine in 2005. His is a faith-based notion of geopolitical reality.

Gerson wants to transform the Greater Middle East, that biblical prophecy might be fulfilled and Jesus come back soon. According to the Book of Revelation, there must be a great war surrounding Israel before that happens, involving kings to the east of the Tigris and Euphrates. That implies war with Persia (Iran). So he wants the U.S. to provoke war with Iran, but if that’s not doable just now, he wants an attack on Syria.

I find his orchard imagery interestingly biblical. He wants to pluck the most succulent fruit: the Iranian peach. But if that fruit is out of reach, he urges, let us snatch up the Syrian date! (Date harvest, by the way, is typically in October. And dates are actually higher up than peaches so it might not be so easy.)

I personally see the Devil at work here. The snake telling innocent Eve, “eat of the fruit.” Recall how in the myth that led to disaster.

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.

White House preparing to stage new September 11 – Reagan official

July 22, 2007

White House preparing to stage new September 11 – Reagan official

20/07/2007 13:58 WASHINGTON, July 20 (RIA Novosti) – A former Reagan official has issued a public warning that the Bush administration is preparing to orchestrate a staged terrorist attack in the United States, transform the country into a dictatorship and launch a war with Iran within a year.

Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, blasted Thursday a new Executive Order, released July 17, allowing the White House to seize the assets of anyone who interferes with its Iraq policies and giving the government expanded police powers to exercise control in the country.

Roberts, who spoke on the Thom Hartmann radio program, said: “When Bush exercises this authority [under the new Executive Order], there’s no check to it. So it really is a form of total, absolute, one-man rule.”

“The American people don’t really understand the danger that they face,” Roberts said, adding that the so-called neoconservatives intended to use a renewal of the fight against terrorism to rally the American people around the fading Republican Party.

Old-line Republicans like Roberts have become increasingly disenchanted with the neoconservative politics of the Bush administration, which they see as a betrayal of fundamental conservative values.

According to a July 9-11 survey by Ipsos, an international public opinion research company, President Bush and the Republicans can claim a mere 31 percent approval rating for their handling of the Iraq war and 38 percent for their foreign policy in general, including terrorism.

“The administration figures themselves and prominent Republican propagandists … are preparing us for another 9/11 event or series of events,” he said. “You have to count on the fact that if al Qaeda is not going to do it, it is going to be orchestrated.”

Roberts suggested that in the absence of a massive popular outcry, only the federal bureaucracy and perhaps the military could put constraints on Bush’s current drive for a fully-fledged dictatorship.

“They may have had enough. They may not go along with it,” he said.

The radio interview was a follow-up to Robert’s latest column, in which he warned that “unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the U.S. could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran.”

Roberts, who has been dubbed the “Father of Reaganomics” and has recently gained popularity for his strong opposition to the Bush administration and the Iraq War, regularly contributes articles to Creators Syndicate, an independent distributor of comic strips and syndicated columns for daily newspapers.

The Invisible Government By John Pilger

July 22, 2007

The Invisible Government By John Pilger

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Dandelion Salad

In a speech in Chicago, John Pilger describes how propaganda has become such a potent force in our lives and, in the words of one of its founders, represents ‘an invisible government’.
By John Pilger

07/20/07 “
ICHThe title of this talk is Freedom Next Time, which is the title of my book, and the book is meant as an antidote to the propaganda that is so often disguised as journalism. So I thought I would talk today about journalism, about war by journalism, propaganda, and silence, and how that silence might be broken. Edward Bernays, the so-called father of public relations, wrote about an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. He was referring to journalism, the media. That was almost 80 years ago, not long after corporate journalism was invented. It is a history few journalist talk about or know about, and it began with the arrival of corporate advertising. As the new corporations began taking over the press, something called “professional journalism” was invented. To attract big advertisers, the new corporate press had to appear respectable, pillars of the establishment—objective, impartial, balanced. The first schools of journalism were set up, and a mythology of liberal neutrality was spun around the professional journalist. The right to freedom of expression was associated with the new media and with the great corporations, and the whole thing was, as Robert McChesney put it so well, “entirely bogus”.

For what the public did not know was that in order to be professional, journalists had to ensure that news and opinion were dominated by official sources, and that has not changed. Go through the New York Times on any day, and check the sources of the main political stories—domestic and foreign—you’ll find they’re dominated by government and other established interests. That is the essence of professional journalism. I am not suggesting that independent journalism was or is excluded, but it is more likely to be an honorable exception. Think of the role Judith Miller played in the New York Times in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Yes, her work became a scandal, but only after it played a powerful role in promoting an invasion based on lies. Yet, Miller’s parroting of official sources and vested interests was not all that different from the work of many famous Times reporters, such as the celebrated W.H. Lawrence, who helped cover up the true effects of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in August, 1945. “No Radioactivity in Hiroshima Ruin,” was the headline on his report, and it was false.

Consider how the power of this invisible government has grown. In 1983 the principle global media was owned by 50 corporations, most of them American. In 2002 this had fallen to just 9 corporations. Today it is probably about 5. Rupert Murdoch has predicted that there will be just three global media giants, and his company will be one of them. This concentration of power is not exclusive of course to the United States. The BBC has announced it is expanding its broadcasts to the United States, because it believes Americans want principled, objective, neutral journalism for which the BBC is famous. They have launched BBC America. You may have seen the advertising.

The BBC began in 1922, just before the corporate press began in America. Its founder was Lord John Reith, who believed that impartiality and objectivity were the essence of professionalism. In the same year the British establishment was under siege. The unions had called a general strike and the Tories were terrified that a revolution was on the way. The new BBC came to their rescue. In high secrecy, Lord Reith wrote anti-union speeches for the Tory Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and broadcast them to the nation, while refusing to allow the labor leaders to put their side until the strike was over.

So, a pattern was set. Impartiality was a principle certainly: a principle to be suspended whenever the establishment was under threat. And that principle has been upheld ever since.

Take the invasion of Iraq. There are two studies of the BBC’s reporting. One shows that the BBC gave just 2 percent of its coverage of Iraq to antiwar dissent—2 percent. That is less than the antiwar coverage of ABC, NBC, and CBS. A second study by the University of Wales shows that in the buildup to the invasion, 90 percent of the BBC’s references to weapons of mass destruction suggested that Saddam Hussein actually possessed them, and that by clear implication Bush and Blair were right. We now know that the BBC and other British media were used by the British secret intelligence service MI-6. In what they called Operation Mass Appeal, MI-6 agents planted stories about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, such as weapons hidden in his palaces and in secret underground bunkers. All of these stories were fake. But that’s not the point. The point is that the work of MI-6 was unnecessary, because professional journalism on its own would have produced the same result.

Listen to the BBC’s man in Washington, Matt Frei, shortly after the invasion. “There is not doubt,” he told viewers in the UK and all over the world, “That the desire to bring good, to bring American values to the rest of the world, and especially now in the Middle East, is especially tied up with American military power.” In 2005 the same reporter lauded the architect of the invasion, Paul Wolfowitz, as someone who “believes passionately in the power of democracy and grassroots development.” That was before the little incident at the World Bank.

None of this is unusual. BBC news routinely describes the invasion as a miscalculation. Not Illegal, not unprovoked, not based on lies, but a miscalculation.

The words “mistake” and “blunder” are common BBC news currency, along with “failure”—which at least suggests that if the deliberate, calculated, unprovoked, illegal assault on defenseless Iraq had succeeded, that would have been just fine. Whenever I hear these words I remember Edward Herman’s marvelous essay about normalizing the unthinkable. For that’s what media clichéd language does and is designed to do—it normalizes the unthinkable; of the degradation of war, of severed limbs, of maimed children, all of which I’ve seen. One of my favorite stories about the Cold War concerns a group of Russian journalists who were touring the United States. On the final day of their visit, they were asked by the host for their impressions. “I have to tell you,” said the spokesman, “that we were astonished to find after reading all the newspapers and watching TV day after day that all the opinions on all the vital issues are the same. To get that result in our country we send journalists to the gulag. We even tear out their fingernails. Here you don’t have to do any of that. What is the secret?”

What is the secret? It is a question seldom asked in newsrooms, in media colleges, in journalism journals, and yet the answer to that question is critical to the lives of millions of people. On August 24 last year the New York Times declared this in an editorial: “If we had known then what we know now the invasion if Iraq would have been stopped by a popular outcry.” This amazing admission was saying, in effect, that journalists had betrayed the public by not doing their job and by accepting and amplifying and echoing the lies of Bush and his gang, instead of challenging them and exposing them. What the Times didn’t say was that had that paper and the rest of the media exposed the lies, up to a million people might be alive today. That’s the belief now of a number of senior establishment journalists. Few of them—they’ve spoken to me about it—few of them will say it in public.

Ironically, I began to understand how censorship worked in so-called free societies when I reported from totalitarian societies. During the 1970s I filmed secretly in Czechoslovakia, then a Stalinist dictatorship. I interviewed members of the dissident group Charter 77, including the novelist Zdener Urbanek, and this is what he told me. “In dictatorships we are more fortunate that you in the West in one respect. We believe nothing of what we read in the newspapers and nothing of what we watch on television, because we know its propaganda and lies. I like you in the West. We’ve learned to look behind the propaganda and to read between the lines, and like you, we know that the real truth is always subversive.”

Vandana Shiva has called this subjugated knowledge. The great Irish muckraker Claud Cockburn got it right when he wrote, “Never believe anything until it’s officially denied.”

One of the oldest clichés of war is that truth is the first casualty. No it’s not. Journalism is the first casualty. When the Vietnam War was over, the magazine Encounter published an article by Robert Elegant, a distinguished correspondent who had covered the war. “For the first time in modern history,” he wrote, the outcome of a war was determined not on the battlefield, but on the printed page, and above all on the television screen.” He held journalists responsible for losing the war by opposing it in their reporting. Robert Elegant’s view became the received wisdom in Washington and it still is. In Iraq the Pentagon invented the embedded journalist because it believed that critical reporting had lost Vietnam.

The very opposite was true. On my first day as a young reporter in Saigon, I called at the bureaus of the main newspapers and TV companies. I noticed that some of them had a pinboard on the wall on which were gruesome photographs, mostly of bodies of Vietnamese and of American soldiers holding up severed ears and testicles. In one office was a photograph of a man being tortured; above the torturers head was a stick-on comic balloon with the words, “that’ll teach you to talk to the press.” None of these pictures were ever published or even put on the wire. I asked why. I was told that the public would never accept them. Anyway, to publish them would not be objective or impartial. At first, I accepted the apparent logic of this. I too had grown up on stories of the good war against Germany and Japan, that ethical bath that cleansed the Anglo-American world of all evil. But the longer I stayed in Vietnam, the more I realized that our atrocities were not isolated, nor were they aberrations, but the war itself was an atrocity. That was the big story, and it was seldom news. Yes, the tactics and effectiveness of the military were questioned by some very fine reporters. But the word “invasion” was never used. The anodyne word used was “involved.” America was involved in Vietnam. The fiction of a well-intentioned, blundering giant, stuck in an Asian quagmire, was repeated incessantly. It was left to whistleblowers back home to tell the subversive truth, those like Daniel Ellsberg and Seymour Hersh, with his scoop of the My-Lai massacre. There were 649 reporters in Vietnam on March 16, 1968—the day that the My-Lai massacre happened—and not one of them reported it.

In both Vietnam and Iraq, deliberate policies and strategies have bordered on genocide. In Vietnam, the forced dispossession of millions of people and the creation of free fire zones; In Iraq, an American-enforced embargo that ran through the 1990s like a medieval siege, and killed, according to the United Nations Children’s fund, half a million children under the age of five. In both Vietnam and Iraq, banned weapons were used against civilians as deliberate experiments. Agent Orange changed the genetic and environmental order in Vietnam. The military called this Operation Hades. When Congress found out, it was renamed the friendlier Operation Ranch Hand, and nothing change. That’s pretty much how Congress has reacted to the war in Iraq. The Democrats have damned it, rebranded it, and extended it. The Hollywood movies that followed the Vietnam War were an extension of the journalism, of normalizing the unthinkable. Yes, some of the movies were critical of the military’s tactics, but all of them were careful to concentrate on the angst of the invaders. The first of these movies is now considered a classic. It’s The Deerhunter, whose message was that America had suffered, America was stricken, American boys had done their best against oriental barbarians. The message was all the more pernicious, because the Deerhunter was brilliantly made and acted. I have to admit it’s the only movie that has made me shout out loud in a Cinema in protest. Oliver Stone’s acclaimed movie Platoon was said to be antiwar, and it did show glimpses of the Vietnamese as human beings, but it also promoted above all the American invader as victim.

I wasn’t going to mention The Green Berets when I set down to write this, until I read the other day that John Wayne was the most influential movie who ever lived. I a saw the Green Berets starring John Wayne on a Saturday night in 1968 in Montgomery Alabama. (I was down there to interview the then-infamous governor George Wallace). I had just come back from Vietnam, and I couldn’t believe how absurd this movie was. So I laughed out loud, and I laughed and laughed. And it wasn’t long before the atmosphere around me grew very cold. My companion, who had been a Freedom Rider in the South, said, “Let’s get the hell out of here and run like hell.”

We were chased all the way back to our hotel, but I doubt if any of our pursuers were aware that John Wayne, their hero, had lied so he wouldn’t have to fight in World War II. And yet the phony role model of Wayne sent thousands of Americans to their deaths in Vietnam, with the notable exceptions of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Last year, in his acceptance of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the playwright Harold Pinter made an epoch speech. He asked why, and I quote him, “The systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought in Stalinist Russia were well known in the West, while American state crimes were merely superficially recorded, left alone, documented.” And yet across the world the extinction and suffering of countless human beings could be attributed to rampant American power. “But,” said Pinter, “You wouldn’t know it. It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.” Pinter’s words were more than the surreal. The BBC ignored the speech of Britain’s most famous dramatist.

I’ve made a number of documentaries about Cambodia. The first was Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia. It describes the American bombing that provided the catalyst for the rise of Pol Pot. What Nixon and Kissinger had started, Pol Pot completed—CIA files alone leave no doubt of that. I offered Year Zero to PBS and took it to Washington. The PBS executives who saw it were shocked. They whispered among themselves. They asked me to wait outside. One of them finally emerged and said, “John, we admire your film. But we are disturbed that it says the United States prepared the way for Pol Pot.”

I said, “Do you dispute the evidence?” I had quoted a number of CIA documents. “Oh, no,” he replied. “But we’ve decided to call in a journalistic adjudicator.”

Now the term “journalist adjudicator” might have been invented by George Orwell. In fact they managed to find one of only three journalists who had been invited to Cambodia by Pol Pot. And of course he turned his thumbs down on the film, and I never heard from PBS again. Year Zero was broadcast in some 60 countries and became one of the most watched documentaries in the world. It was never shown in the United States. Of the five films I have made on Cambodia, one of them was shown by WNET, the PBS station in New York. I believe it was shown at about one in the morning. On the basis of this single showing, when most people are asleep, it was awarded an Emmy. What marvelous irony. It was worthy of a prize but not an audience.

Harold Pinter’s subversive truth, I believe, was that he made the connection between imperialism and fascism, and described a battle for history that’s almost never reported. This is the great silence of the media age. And this is the secret heart of propaganda today. A propaganda so vast in scope that I’m always astonished that so many Americans know and understand as much as they do. We are talking about a system, of course, not personalities. And yet, a great many people today think that the problem is George W. Bush and his gang. And yes, the Bush gang are extreme. But my experience is that they are no more than an extreme version of what has gone on before. In my lifetime, more wars have been started by liberal Democrats than by Republicans. Ignoring this truth is a guarantee that the propaganda system and the war-making system will continue. We’ve had a branch of the Democratic party running Britain for the last 10 years. Blair, apparently a liberal, has taken Britain to war more times than any prime minister in the modern era. Yes, his current pal is George Bush, but his first love was Bill Clinton, the most violent president of the late 20th century. Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown is also a devotee of Clinton and Bush. The other day, Brown said, “The days of Britain having to apologize for the British Empire are over. We should celebrate.”

Like Blair, like Clinton, like Bush, Brown believes in the liberal truth that the battle for history has been won; that the millions who died in British-imposed famines in British imperial India will be forgotten—like the millions who have died in the American Empire will be forgotten. And like Blair, his successor is confident that professional journalism is on his side. For most journalists, whether they realize it or not, are groomed to be tribunes of an ideology that regards itself as non-ideological, that presents itself as the natural center, the very fulcrum of modern life. This may very well be the most powerful and dangerous ideology we have ever known because it is open-ended. This is liberalism. I’m not denying the virtues of liberalism—far from it. We are all beneficiaries of them. But if we deny its dangers, its open-ended project, and the all-consuming power of its propaganda, then we deny our right to true democracy, because liberalism and true democracy are not the same. Liberalism began as a preserve of the elite in the 19th century, and true democracy is never handed down by elites. It is always fought for and struggled for.

A senior member of the antiwar coalition, United For Peace and Justice, said recently, and I quote her, “The Democrats are using the politics of reality.” Her liberal historical reference point was Vietnam. She said that President Johnson began withdrawing troops from Vietnam after a Democratic Congress began to vote against the war. That’s not what happened. The troops were withdrawn from Vietnam after four long years. And during that time the United States killed more people in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos with bombs than were killed in all the preceding years. And that’s what’s happening in Iraq. The bombing has doubled since last year, and this is not being reported. And who began this bombing? Bill Clinton began it. During the 1990s Clinton rained bombs on Iraq in what were euphemistically called the “no fly zones.” At the same time he imposed a medieval siege called economic sanctions, killing as I’ve mentioned, perhaps a million people, including a documented 500,000 children. Almost none of this carnage was reported in the so-called mainstream media. Last year a study published by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health found that since the invasion of Iraq 655, 000 Iraqis had died as a direct result of the invasion. Official documents show that the Blair government knew this figure to be credible. In February, Les Roberts, the author of the report, said the figure was equal to the figure for deaths in the Fordham University study of the Rwandan genocide. The media response to Robert’s shocking revelation was silence. What may well be the greatest episode of organized killing for a generation, in Harold Pinter’s words, “Did not happen. It didn’t matter.”

Many people who regard themselves on the left supported Bush’s attack on Afghanistan. That the CIA had supported Osama Bin Laden was ignored, that the Clinton administration had secretly backed the Taliban, even giving them high-level briefings at the CIA, is virtually unknown in the United States. The Taliban were secret partners with the oil giant Unocal in building an oil pipeline across Afghanistan. And when a Clinton official was reminded that the Taliban persecuted women, he said, “We can live with that.” There is compelling evidence that Bush decided to attack the Taliban not as a result of 9-11, but two months earlier, in July of 2001. This is virtually unknown in the United States—publicly. Like the scale of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. To my knowledge only one mainstream reporter, Jonathan Steele of the Guardian in London, has investigated civilian casualties in Afghanistan, and his estimate is 20,000 dead civilians, and that was three years ago.

The enduring tragedy of Palestine is due in great part to the silence and compliance of the so-called liberal left. Hamas is described repeatedly as sworn to the destruction of Israel. The New York Times, the Associated Press, the Boston Globe—take your pick. They all use this line as a standard disclaimer, and it is false. That Hamas has called for a ten-year ceasefire is almost never reported. Even more important, that Hamas has undergone an historic ideological shift in the last few years, which amounts to a recognition of what it calls the reality of Israel, is virtually unknown; and that Israel is sworn to the destruction of Palestine is unspeakable.

There is a pioneering study by Glasgow University on the reporting of Palestine. They interviewed young people who watch TV news in Britain. More than 90 percent thought the illegal settlers were Palestinian. The more they watched, the less they knew—Danny Schecter’s famous phrase.

The current most dangerous silence is over nuclear weapons and the return of the Cold War. The Russians understand clearly that the so-called American defense shield in Eastern Europe is designed to subjugate and humiliate them. Yet the front pages here talk about Putin starting a new Cold War, and there is silence about the development of an entirely new American nuclear system called Reliable Weapons Replacement (RRW), which is designed to blur the distinction between conventional war and nuclear war—a long-held ambition.

In the meantime, Iran is being softened up, with the liberal media playing almost the same role it played before the Iraq invasion. And as for the Democrats, look at how Barak Obama has become the voice of the Council on Foreign Relations, one of the propaganda organs of the old liberal Washington establishment. Obama writes that while he wants the troops home, “We must not rule out military force against long-standing adversaries such as Iran and Syria.” Listen to this from the liberal Obama: “At moment of great peril in the past century our leaders ensured that America, by deed and by example, led and lifted the world, that we stood and fought for the freedom sought by billions of people beyond their borders.”

That is the nub of the propaganda, the brainwashing if you like, that seeps into the lives of every American, and many of us who are not Americans. From right to left, secular to God-fearing, what so few people know is that in the last half century, United States adminstrations have overthrown 50 governments—many of them democracies. In the process, thirty countries have been attacked and bombed, with the loss of countless lives. Bush bashing is all very well—and is justified—but the moment we begin to accept the siren call of the Democrat’s drivel about standing up and fighting for freedom sought by billions, the battle for history is lost, and we ourselves are silenced.

So what should we do? That question often asked in meetings I have addressed, even meetings as informed as those in this conference, is itself interesting. It’s my experience that people in the so-called third world rarely ask the question, because they know what to do. And some have paid with their freedom and their lives, but they knew what to do. It’s a question that many on the democratic left—small “d”—have yet to answer.

Real information, subversive information, remains the most potent power of all—and I believe that we must not fall into the trap of believing that the media speaks for the public. That wasn’t true in Stalinist Czechoslovakia and it isn’t true of the United States.

In all the years I’ve been a journalist, I’ve never know public consciousness to have risen as fast as it’s rising today. Yes, its direction and shape is unclear, partly because people are now deeply suspicious of political alternatives, and because the Democratic Party has succeeded in seducing and dividing the electoral left. And yet this growing critical public awareness is all the more remarkable when you consider the sheer scale of indoctrination, the mythology of a superior way of life, and the current manufactured state of fear.

Why did the New York Times come clean in that editorial last year? Not because it opposes Bush’s wars—look at the coverage of Iran. That editorial was a rare acknowledgement that the public was beginning to see the concealed role of the media, and that people were beginning to read between the lines.

If Iran is attacked, the reaction and the upheaval cannot be predicted. The national security and homeland security presidential directive gives Bush power over all facets of government in an emergency. It is not unlikely the constitution will be suspended—the laws to round of hundreds of thousands of so-called terrorists and enemy combatants are already on the books. I believe that these dangers are understood by the public, who have come along way since 9-11, and a long way since the propaganda that linked Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda. That’s why they voted for the Democrats last November, only to be betrayed. But they need truth, and journalists ought to be agents of truth, not the courtiers of power.

I believe a fifth estate is possible, the product of a people’s movement, that monitors, deconstructs, and counters the corporate media. In every university, in every media college, in every news room, teachers of journalism, journalists themselves need to ask themselves about the part they now play in the bloodshed in the name of a bogus objectivity. Such a movement within the media could herald a perestroika of a kind that we have never known. This is all possible. Silences can be broken. In Britain the National Union of Journalists has undergone a radical change, and has called for a boycott of Israel. The web site Medialens.org has single-handedly called the BBC to account. In the United States wonderfully free rebellious spirits populate the web—I can’t mention them all here—from Tom Feeley’s International Clearing House, to Mike Albert’s ZNet, to Counterpunch online, and the splendid work of FAIR. The best reporting of Iraq appears on the web—Dahr Jamail’s courageous journalism; and citizen reporters like Joe Wilding, who reported the siege of Fallujah from inside the city.

In Venezuela, Greg Wilpert’s investigations turned back much of the virulent propaganda now aimed at Hugo Chávez. Make no mistake, it’s the threat of freedom of speech for the majority in Venezuela that lies behind the campaign in the west on behalf of the corrupt RCTV. The challenge for the rest of us is to lift this subjugated knowledge from out of the underground and take it to ordinary people.

We need to make haste. Liberal Democracy is moving toward a form of corporate dictatorship. This is an historic shift, and the media must not be allowed to be its façade, but itself made into a popular, burning issue, and subjected to direct action. That great whistleblower Tom Paine warned that if the majority of the people were denied the truth and the ideas of truth, it was time to storm what he called the Bastille of words. That time is now.

Speech delivered at the Chicago Socialism 2007 Conference on Saturday June 16 2007

Classified info – The congressman wanted to see government plans for after a terror attack

July 22, 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

From The Oregonian: Original Article HERE

DeFazio asks, but he’s denied access
Classified info – The congressman wanted to see government plans for after a terror attack
Friday, July 20, 2007
JEFF KOSSEFF
The Oregonian Staff

WASHINGTON — Oregonians called Peter DeFazio’s office, worried there was a conspiracy buried in the classified portion of a White House plan for operating the government after a terrorist attack.

As a member of the U.S. House on the Homeland Security Committee, DeFazio, D-Ore., is permitted to enter a secure “bubbleroom” in the Capitol and examine classified material. So he asked the White House to see the secret documents.

On Wednesday, DeFazio got his answer: DENIED.

“I just can’t believe they’re going to deny a member of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government of the United States after a significant terrorist attack,” DeFazio says.

Homeland Security Committee staffers told his office that the White House initially approved his request, but it was later quashed. DeFazio doesn’t know who did it or why.

“We’re talking about the continuity of the government of the United States of America,” DeFazio says. “I would think that would be relevant to any member of Congress, let alone a member of the Homeland Security Committee.”

Bush administration spokesman Trey Bohn declined to say why DeFazio was denied access: “We do not comment through the press on the process that this access entails. It is important to keep in mind that much of the information related to the continuity of government is highly sensitive.”

Norm Ornstein, a legal scholar who studies government continuity at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said he “cannot think of one good reason” to deny access to a member of Congress who serves on the Homeland Security Committee.

“I find it inexplicable and probably reflective of the usual, knee-jerk overextension of executive power that we see from this White House,” Ornstein said.

This is the first time DeFazio has been denied access to documents. DeFazio has asked Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., to help him access the documents.

Maybe the people who think there’s a conspiracy out there are right,” DeFazio said.

Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq

July 21, 2007


http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/07/20070717-3.html

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 17, 2007

Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq

Fact sheet Message to the Congress of the United States Regarding International Emergency Economic Powers Act

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as amended (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)(IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.)(NEA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that, due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, it is in the interests of the United States to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, and expanded in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, and Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004. I hereby order:

Section 1. (a) Except to the extent provided in section 203(b)(1), (3), and (4) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(1), (3), and (4)), or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the date of this order, all property and interests in property of the following persons, that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of United States persons, are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense,

(i) to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of:

(A) threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq; or

(B) undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people;

(ii) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

(iii) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.

(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section include, but are not limited to, (i) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order, and (ii) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

Sec. 2. (a) Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Sec. 3. For purposes of this order:

(a) the term “person” means an individual or entity;

(b) the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization; and

(c) the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.

Sec. 4. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.

Sec. 5. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that, because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1(a) of this order.

Sec. 6. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government, consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order and, where appropriate, to advise the Secretary of the Treasury in a timely manner of the measures taken.

Sec. 7. Nothing in this order is intended to affect the continued effectiveness of any rules, regulations, orders, licenses, or other forms of administrative action issued, taken, or continued in effect heretofore or hereafter under 31 C.F.R. chapter V, except as expressly terminated, modified, or suspended by or pursuant to this order.

Sec. 8. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right, benefit, or privilege, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

GEORGE W. BUSH

THE WHITE HOUSE,

July 17, 2007.