>> JOHN BURNS ON IRANIAN INFLUENCE...
US Fights Sunni Militants and Shiite Insurgents listen
In Sunni and Shiite cities across Iraq, US forces are now engaged in the kind of urban warfare they've tried to avoid for the past year. House-to-house fighting, helicopter gun-ships and 500-pound bombs are producing high casualties on both sides. There's concern that angry moderates will join militants in an anti-American "jihad, raising uncertainty whether the Coalition has the forces it needs to provide security in Iraq in time for the transfer of power scheduled for June 30. Joining Warren Olney for an overview of the fighting and an eyewitness account of what Muqtada al-Sadr's "Mahdi Army" is really like are reporters in Iraq for the Christian Science Monitor, New York Times and Los Angeles Times. A Middle East expert and defense analyst assess the prospect for military success, and we get some insight into the political impact on the ongoing presidential campaign from journalists with Congressional Quarterly and National Journal.
Will air Wednesday, April 7, 2004.
Les myst?res du programme nucl?aire iranien
LE MONDE | 07.04.04 | 14h06
L'iran a-t-il d?finitivement renonc? ? se doter de la bombe atomique, en ?change d'une coop?ration accrue des Occidentaux ? Ou se r?serve-t-il malgr? tout cette possibilit?, pour acc?der co?te que co?te au statut de puissance r?gionale, au risque de provoquer une crise g?n?ralis?e du trait? de non-prolif?ration nucl?aire (TNP), d?j? mal en point au Moyen-Orient et en Asie ? Alors qu'en octobre 2003 le r?gime islamique paraissait avoir tranch? en faveur de la premi?re option, gr?ce aux efforts conjugu?s de l'Allemagne, de la Grande-Bretagne et de la France, les signes d'un raidissement iranien se sont multipli?s. C'est sur fond de m?fiance mutuelle que le directeur de l'Agence internationale de l'?nergie atomique (AIEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, est retourn? ? T?h?ran, mardi 6 avril, dans l'espoir de remettre sur les rails le processus amorc? en 2003. Une semaine auparavant, la tro?ka europ?enne avait appel? les autorit?s iraniennes ? "s'expliquer".
Furieuses de la r?solution adopt?e le 13 mars par le conseil des gouverneurs de l'Agence, qui soulignait les lacunes de leur coop?ration, les autorit?s iraniennes ont repouss? ? la mi-avril la premi?re mission d'inspection des experts onusiens au titre du protocole additionnel ? l'accord de garantie du TNP, qu'elles avaient pourtant sign? fin d?cembre. Elles ont aussi annonc? fin mars, par la voix du vice-pr?sident iranien et chef de la commission ? l'?nergie atomique, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, la mise en route ? Ispahan d'une unit? de conversion d'uranium en gaz, premi?re ?tape vers la fabrication de mat?riaux fissiles.
H?SITATION ? WASHINGTON
Cette annonce a alarm? le si?ge de l'AIEA, ? Vienne, comme les chancelleries occidentales. Car elle s'ajoute ? d'autres indices de mauvaise volont? : le refus de T?h?ran de d?livrer aux inspecteurs des visas d'un an ? entr?es multiples (ce qui limite le caract?re "inopin?" de leurs visites sur les sites), ou encore le fait que les experts onusiens n'aient pas ?t? autoris?s ? utiliser leurs propres appareils pour photographier ou prendre des mesures ?lectroniques dans les ateliers - souvent situ?s dans des bases militaires - o? ?taient mont?es les centrifugeuses destin?es ? enrichir l'uranium. Le dialogue avec les Europ?ens pi?tine, T?h?ran leur r?clamant des ?quipements - avions ou construction de centrales nucl?aires -, alors que ses interlocuteurs pensent qu'il faut d'abord reconstruire un rapport de confiance min? par vingt ans de cachotteries.
Enfin, l'Iran n'a toujours pas donn? d'explication convaincante ? la d?couverte, au printemps 2003, dans des ateliers longtemps tenus secrets ? T?h?ran, de traces d'uranium hautement enrichi : ? 36 % (un taux caract?ristique des r?acteurs de recherche russes), mais aussi ? plus de 80 %, donc tr?s proche d'une qualit? militaire.
Les responsables iraniens ont beau assurer que les "exp?riences"de conversion ne remettent pas en cause leur engagement envers les Europ?ens de cesser toute activit? d'enrichissement, leur d?cision a ?t? critiqu?e comme un "mauvais signal" ? Paris, ? Berlin et ? Londres : "L'Iran doit expliquer ses intentions", ont exig? les trois capitales dans un communiqu? publi? le 31 mars. La veille, ? Washington, le sous-secr?taire d'Etat am?ricain charg? du contr?le des armements, John Bolton, avait ?t? plus direct : "L'Iran semble d?termin? ? poursuivre son programme nucl?aire militaire de fa?on discr?te et clandestine, afin d'obtenir plus ais?ment les technologies-cl?s dont il a besoin."
Pour lui comme pour les autres faucons de l'administration Bush, la cause est entendue : si elle veut pr?server sa cr?dibilit?, l'AIEA sera contrainte t?t ou tard de d?f?rer le dossier iranien devant le Conseil de s?curit? de l'ONU.
Jusqu'? pr?sent, les Europ?ens ont r?sist? aux pressions am?ricaines, jugeant qu'un dialogue avec T?h?ran, m?me insatisfaisant, vaut mieux que de pousser le r?gime islamique ? la rupture. L'exemple de la Cor?e du Nord, qui est sortie d?but 2003 du TNP, apr?s que son cas eut ?t? port? devant l'ex?cutif onusien ? New York, et qui se livre depuis ? un chantage ? la bombe pour arracher des concessions ? la communaut? internationale, incite les Occidentaux et leurs alli?s asiatiques ? la prudence. L'administration am?ricaine est elle-m?me h?sitante sur la conduite ? tenir ? l'?gard de T?h?ran. Si les faucons pr?nent une strat?gie offensive, visant ? terme ? faire tomber le r?gime des mollahs, les bataillons de diplomates investis dans la transition en Irak per?oivent de fa?on aigu? ? quel point ils ont besoin de l'Iran, qui peut user de son influence pour stabiliser la communaut? chiite - ou, au contraire, la dresser contre les arm?es ?trang?res. Il sera de toute fa?on difficile ? Washington d'arr?ter sa strat?gie iranienne avant l'?lection pr?sidentielle - de fait, avant le d?but de 2005. Fins joueurs d'?checs, les Iraniens veulent-ils mettre ? profit cette ann?e de r?pit non seulement pour pousser leurs pions sur la sc?ne g?opolitique, mais aussi pour passer dans la cat?gorie redout?e de puissance nucl?aire r?gionale, marchant ainsi sur les traces de l'Inde, du Pakistan et d'Isra?l - trois pays qui se sont cependant bien gard?s d'adh?rer au TNP ?
"LE CHOIX DU PIRE"
"On ne peut pas exclure, poursuit un diplomate proche de l'Agence, qu'un clan ? T?h?ran ait fait le choix du pire, avec l'argument que seule l'arme nucl?aire permettra de se faire respecter par les Occidentaux." Le fait que M. Aghazadeh, qui avait d?fendu en mai 2003, devant les gouverneurs de l'AIEA, une version tr?s peu cr?dible du programme nucl?aire iranien, soit revenu sur le devant de la sc?ne au d?triment de Hassan Rohani, un conservateur en qui les Europ?ens voyaient un interlocuteur fiable, laisse craindre que les ultranationalistes ne l'aient emport? sur les pragmatiques. Comme le soulignait ? l'automne un rap-port de l'International Crisis Group, jamais T?h?ran ne s'est senti aussi menac? : "Id?ologiquement hostile ? Isra?l mais culturellement en porte- ?-faux avec le monde arabe, convaincu qu'il n'a pas de v?ritable alli? mais beaucoup d'adversaires potentiels, entour? de gouvernements amis des Etats-Unis ou qui abritent d'importantes forces militaires am?ricaines, voire les deux ? la fois", l'Iran - qui convoitait d?j? la bombe au temps du chah - pourrait essayer de franchir ? marche forc?e les ?tapes qui le s?parent encore de la ma?trise compl?te du cycle nucl?aire.
Le difficile pari des Europ?ens consiste ? montrer aux Iraniens qu'ils ont beaucoup ? gagner s'ils coop?rent, et trop ? perdre dans la confrontation. Un Iran nucl?aris? inciterait la Turquie et l'Arabie saoudite ? suivre la m?me pente. L'axe construit depuis quelques ann?es entre Riyad et T?h?ran, notam-ment au sein de l'Organisation des pays exportateurs de p?trole, qui s'assure ainsi une meilleure ma?trise des prix, n'y survivrait pas longtemps. Pas plus que le TNP, dont la conf?rence de mise ? jour, ? Gen?ve en 2005, promet d?j? d'?tre houleuse. L'avenir du r?gime de non-prolif?ration nucl?aire, affaibli par la d?fection nord-cor?enne et les r?v?lations sur la fili?re pakistanaise, se joue sans doute, au cours des prochains mois, sur l'?chiquier iranien.
* ARTICLE PARU DANS L'EDITION DU 08.04.04
L'Iran va construire un r?acteur ? eau lourde
LEMONDE.FR | 07.04.04 | 19h33
Pour les Iraniens, le r?acteur d'Arak doit servir ? la recherche et ? des fins m?dicales et industrielles, mais les instances de l'ONU craignent qu'il ne servent ? produire du plutonium ? usage militaire.
L'Iran doit commencer en juin ? construire un r?acteur ? eau lourde qui pourrait servir ? la production de plutonium ? usage militaire, ont affirm? mercredi 7 avril des diplomates ? Vienne, au lendemain de promesses iraniennes de coop?ration faites au directeur g?n?ral de l'Agence internationale de l'?nergie atomique (AIEA), Mohamed ElBaradei.
T?h?ran avait signal? en automne vouloir lancer un tel chantier, mais le passage ? l'acte ne peut que pr?occuper la communaut? internationale, qui craint que l'Iran cherche ? se doter de l'arme atomique sous couvert de nucl?aire civil, selon ces sources.
"L'Iran doit annoncer prochainement qu'il va commencer en juin ? travailler sur un r?acteur de recherche ? l'eau lourde ? Arak", ? 200 km au sud-ouest de T?h?ran, a d?clar? un diplomate proche de l'AIEA. Mardi, ? T?h?ran, l'Iran avait promis au directeur g?n?ral de l'AIEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, d'intensifier sa coop?ration et de r?pondre rapidement aux questions en suspens pour dissiper les doutes sur son programme nucl?aire.
Le r?acteur d'Arak, d'apr?s cette source, ne serait pas en violation des garanties du trait? de non-prolif?ration nucl?aire (TNP), mais sa construction adresserait ? nouveau un signal politique n?gatif ? la communaut? internationale, qui demande aux Iraniens de prouver qu'ils ne sont pas en train de fabriquer la bombe atomique.
D?j?, l'Iran avait annonc? fin mars qu'il voulait commencer ? convertir de l'uranium, une ?tape pr?alable ? l'enrichissement, dans le complexe d'Ispahan. Mardi, les Iraniens ont refus? ? M. ElBaradei de reporter ces activit?s de conversion. "Ce n'est pas par hasard" si le chantier d'Arak doit commencer en juin, le mois m?me o? le conseil des gouverneurs de l'AIEA tiendra une nouvelle session, selon ce diplomate.
D'apr?s lui en effet, T?h?ran, qui clame son bon droit, veut affirmer son ind?pendance et apaiser les durs du r?gime islamique qui vivent mal les inspections obtenues par l'AIEA.
POSSIBILIT? DE PRODUIRE DU PLUTONIUM
Pour les Iraniens, le r?acteur doit servir ? la recherche et ? la production de radio-isotopes ? des fins m?dicales et industrielles. Cependant, il pourrait in fine servir ? produire du plutonium ? usage militaire, a not? le diplomate.
En novembre, l'Iran avait indiqu? dans un rapport soumis ? l'agence nucl?aire de l'ONU que pour remplacer son r?acteur de recherche vieux de trente ans et obsol?te, pr?s de la capitale, il avait tent? d'acqu?rir un r?acteur ? l'?tranger, mais en avait ?t? emp?ch? ? cause des sanctions occidentales.
Il convient d'emp?cher les Iraniens de commencer le chantier, car sinon "'il y aura un fait accompli", selon un diplomate. D'apr?s lui, "on peut toujours r?gler ?a en installant un r?acteur d'un autre type ? Arak et en donnant du combustible nucl?aire" ? usage civil aux Iraniens. Encore faut-il, selon lui, que l'AIEA re?oive des r?ponses satisfaisantes aux questions qu'elle se pose sur les programmes iraniens.
L'Iran avait remis ? l'agence onusienne, en octobre 2003, une d?claration pr?sent?e comme compl?te sur ses activit?s nucl?aires. Mais T?h?ran a ensuite ?t? condamn? par l'agence de s?ret? nucl?aire de l'ONU pour avoir cach? des activit?s sensibles notamment un projet de fabrication de centrifugeuses P2 capables d'enrichir de l'uranium. L'Iran s'est engag? mardi ? fournir des informations ? ce sujet.
T?h?ran a sign? en 2003 le protocole additionnel au TNP, qui autorise des inspections surprises de ses sites, et s'est engag? ? l'appliquer avant m?me sa ratification par le Parlement.
Iran Plans Reactor That Can Make Weapons-Grade Plutonium
Wednesday, April 7, 2004
VIENNA, Austria - Iran will start building a nuclear reactor in June that can produce weapons-grade plutonium, diplomats said Wednesday. Although Tehran insists the heavy-water facility is for research, the decision heightens concern about its nuclear ambitions.
One diplomat said the planned 40-megawatt reactor could produce enough plutonium for a nuclear weapon each year, an amount experts commonly say is 8.8 pounds.
The diplomats told The Associated Press that Iran informed the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency last year of its plans to build a reactor, and Iranian officials have previously suggested the reactor was already being built.
But the diplomats said construction had not yet begun and that Iranian officials announced the June start date for the first time during talks Tuesday in Tehran with Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.
With Iran open about its desire to build the facility, the diplomats said the Iranian decision to go ahead with the plan was not an overt example of Tehran backtracking on pledges to dispel suspicions it is pursuing nuclear weapons.
Still, it "sends a bad signal at a time all eyes are on Iran," one of the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
International scrutiny of Iran's nuclear program has been growing since the IAEA discovered last year that Tehran had not disclosed large-scale efforts to enrich uranium, which can be used in nuclear warheads.
Traces of weapons-grade uranium found by inspectors and evidence of suspicious experiments led to a series of critical resolutions by the IAEA's board of governors.
The resolutions stopped short of forcing Iran to go before the U.N. Security Council, as demanded by the United States. But if ElBaradei gives a negative progress report on Iran when the IAEA board of governors meets in June, just as construction of the reactor is getting under way, Tehran could face action by the security council.
Iran argues that it needs the reactor to produce radioisotopes for medical research. But spent fuel rods from the planned reactor can be reprocessed to produce plutonium, also used for nuclear warheads, although the facility would be subject to IAEA inspections and other controls intended to make sure no plutonium is created.
Still, the United States and other countries might seize on Iran's plans as further evidence that the Islamic republic is not serious about quelling suspicions about its intentions.
"We feel strongly that there is no need for indigenous heavy water in Iran," said a Western diplomat, also speaking on condition of anonymity. "It's not necessary and highly suspicious."
The reactor site is at Arak, next to a heavy-water production plant. It is to replace a reactor using non-weapons-grade enriched uranium that the Iranians mothballed, saying it was outmoded and lacked fuel.
Because enrichment can be used to generate power and to make nuclear warheads, Iran has said it has suspended all enrichment to prove its peaceful intentions. It cannot buy enriched fuel on legal markets because of international suspicions about its intentions.
Seeking to counter accusations of continued deceit, Iran on Tuesday pledged to deliver a complete dossier to the IAEA detailing all its present and future nuclear activities by the end of April, ElBaradei said.
"We have agreed on an action plan with a timetable with how to move forward on the major outstanding issues," he said after meeting with Hasan Rowhani, secretary of Iran's powerful National Security Council.
Critics say Iran reneged on commitments to win international trust as IAEA inspectors discovered evidence of past experiments that could be used to develop weapons.
Adding to the skepticism was Iran's announcement last month that it inaugurated a uranium conversion facility in Isfahan, 155 miles south of Tehran, to process uranium ore into gas, a crucial step before uranium enrichment.
Iran insists the move does not contradict its pledge to suspend enrichment. But Britain, France and Germany, which have stymied past U.S. attempts to castigate Iran, said the plant sent the wrong signal.
Last year, the three secured Iran's agreement to suspend enrichment and cooperate with the IAEA in exchange for promised access to Western technology.
? 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Chirac Shuffle May Spell Long-Term U.S. Bashing
by John Gizzi
Posted Apr 7, 2004
Reeling from the setback his government got in regional elections last week, French President Jacques Chirac dramatically reshuffled his government. The likeliest long-term impact of the Chirac shuffle, Paris watchers in Washington said last week, is more strained relations with the U.S. after Chirac's term is up in '07 and the French elect a new president.
Although Chirac retained Jean-Pierre Raffarin as prime minister, he turned his Cabinet upside down. The most dramatic changes were the naming of Foreign Minister (and long-assumed Chirac heir apparent for president) Dominique de Villepin as Interior Minister and shifting the present Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy (who is not close to Chirac and makes no secret of his desire to succeed him) as finance minister.
While the titles and power therein may not sound significant to most Americans, they have a profound impact on France and Europe. Translated from French, de Villepin--even more notorious than Chirac at the U.S. State Department and on the Washington diplomatic cocktail circuit for his relentless criticism of U.S. action in Iraq and support of a French-dominated European Union--now gets the domestic clout to lay the groundwork for a presidential campaign when Chirac steps down in '07--overseeing security from local to the national level, homeland security, immigration. Machiavelli admirer de Villepin also now controls the all-powerful counterintelligence service.
In contrast, the 49-year-old Sarkovzy was given what is tantamount to a demotion among Frenchmen: put in charge of launching a recovery of what is now the most stagnant and moribund among European economies. Unemployment in France is now a striking 9.6% and finances are at their lowest ebb since the oil shock of 1973.
In a country where statism seems a required religion for most office-holders, Sarkozy is an admirer of Margaret Thatcher-esque economics and, as the equivalent of Office of Management and Budget chief in the '90's, he was a vigorous advocate of reducing taxes. The man Frenchmen call "Sarko" is also no Chirac clone; his mentor was former Premier and Finance Minister Eduard Balladur, the French pol admired by American conservatives such as economist Paul Craig Roberts, and Chirac has reportedly never forgiven Sarkozy for campaigning for Balladur against him in the 1995 election.
So what the Chirac shuffle means is that, if "Le Grand Jacques" is unelectable himself in '07, he wants the next best thing in de Villepin.
Copyright ? 2003 HUMAN EVENTS. All Rights Reserved.
Secret Taiwan missile program aims at Mainland targets
Taiwan is planning to develop surface-to-surface missiles capable of hitting key targets on the Mainland as China continues its own missile buildup. East-Asia-Intel.com has learned that Taiwan is involved in a secret program, dubbed Tiching, to develop both a short-range (SRBM) and medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM). Taiwan is attempting to develop a surface-to-surface missile (SSM) capable of hitting Shanghai and Hong Kong...
Czech selling advanced stealth-detecting radar to China over Western objections...
US lacked a clear, cohesive policy on Iraq, says Perle
By Peter Spiegel in Washington
Published: April 7 2004 20:58 | Last Updated: April 7 2004 20:58
It has suddenly become the season of the tell-all tome. First, there was Paul O'Neill, the former Treasury secretary who told of a Bush administration obsessed by Iraq from day one. Most recently came Richard Clarke, the ex-counterterrorism chief who alleges the White House ignored al-Qaeda until it was too late.
Sandwiched in between, however, and given far less notice, was another book highly critical of those around President George W. Bush, but from a much more surprising source: Richard Perle, the former Pentagon adviser often regarded as the intellectual godfather of the administration's aggressive foreign policy.
Unlike the other books, An End to Evil - co-written by yet another administration ?migr?, David Frum, a former speechwriter - is careful to steer clear of Mr Bush himself as well as Mr Perle's patron, Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary.
But Mr Perle's book takes aim at almost everyone else in the senior reaches of the Bush foreign policy team and accuses many of them of significant failures in the run-up to, and the aftermath of, the war in Iraq.
On the armed forces: "Much of the planning for, and debate about, the Iraq campaign exposed the grip of the dead hand of military tradition." On the State department: "Seldom has the foreign policy bureaucracy inflicted such shameful damage on American interests than in its opposition to working with Saddam's Iraqi opponents." On the CIA: "George Tenet has been the director of central intelligence since 1997, time enough to have changed the agency's culture. He has failed. He should go."
Mr Perle acknowledges that part of the reason he quit the Defence Advisory Board, the Pentagon panel he used to chair, in February was to give full voice to such criticisms.
"I say a number of things in the book that are critical of a number of government departments," he says. "Often, administrations feel compelled to defend their agencies."
Indeed, in a hour-long interview, Mr Perle is even more critical of those agencies than in the book, arguing that the administration failed in its policymaking both before the war - he would have trained Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress as a government-in-exile months before the war started - and after.
"There were a lot of divisions about how we prepare for the postwar period, and some of those divisions prevented the emergence of a clear, cohesive, orderly policy," he muses. "I think you need a much more disciplined approach to the activities of separate institutions, who all have a role in a situation like that. I think the CIA was often at cross-purposes with national policy. The military often made their own more-or-less independent judgments about what was highest priority."
Asked whether such criticisms are an attack on Condoleezza Rice, whose job as national security adviser includes such policy co-ordination, Mr Perle demurs: "All I'm prepared to say is that there was not sufficient co-ordination. I don't want to assign blame."
And such criticisms do not extend to the war itself, of course. "We should have done it sooner, we should have done it differently in my view, but we did it and I'm glad we did it," he says.
Mr Perle has never been a shrinking violet, and while he complains repeatedly that his views are frequently twisted by political opponents, he clearly relishes his role as provocateur. But his views are also far more nuanced than critics on the right or left give him credit for. Patrick Buchanan, the conservative commentator, argued recently that Mr Perle's book called for "no end to war" but perhaps surprisingly, Mr Perle readily acknowledges democracy at the point of a gun is virtually impossible.
"I don't believe democracy can be imposed from outside. . . I certainly prefer change from within to military action from the outside," he says. "They make it sound as though we're proposing war with Syria, war with Iran. It's not true. I don't propose war with anyone. Libya is an example of what I and some others hope will result from a more robust American policy."
By more robust, Mr Perle means constant, almost harassing diplomatic pressure. Stopping the flow of oil from Iraq to Syria. Smuggling communications equipment to Iranian dissidents. Backing independence for Saudi Arabia's oil-producing Eastern Provinces.
It sounds like a recipe for destabilising an entire region, one that is home to one of the US's most important interests - oil - and its most dangerous enemy, Islamic fundamentalism.
Press him about whether that truly is his vision for the Middle East, and it suddenly becomes hard to pin Mr Perle down. At times, it appears the threats he advocates are just that: threats to be used to twist arms, rather than to be actually carried out.
"We're asking the governments to do certain things, and they're well aware that it is in within our power to do things that would destabilise their situation," he says elliptically. "They don't want that, so is it wrong for us to say we can make life very difficult for you if you don't want to do it?"
And what of signs that some of the region's regimes are softening, such as Iran's nascent moves towards openness on its nuclear programme? Should they not be rewarded? "I'm not against carrots," he says. "But it's stick first, and then the carrots."
>> KOFI WATCH...
Senators condemn UN's oil-for-food programme
By Salamander Davoudi in Washington and Claudio Gatti and Mark Turner in New York
Published: April 7 2004 21:56 | Last Updated: April 7 2004 21:56
Leading Democratic and Republican figures on Wednesday united in condemnation of the United Nation's oil-for-food programme in Iraq through which Saddam Hussein's regime diverted billions of dollars despite international supervision.
Speaking at a hearing of the US Senate foreign relations committee, Richard Lugar, the Republican chairman, said there was "no doubt that the billions of dollars that should have been spent on humanitarian needs in Iraq were siphoned off".
Mr Hussein depended on "members of the UN Security Council who were willing to be complicit in his activities, and he required UN officials and contractors who were dishonest, inattentive or [willing] to make damaging compromises", he said.
The criticisms come amid growing controversy about the UN's policing of the oil-for-food programme.
Fresh insights into how the system was manipulated are revealed in Thursday's Financial Times, in a joint investigation with Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian business daily.
The US General Accounting Office, a congressional investigatory body, estimates Mr Hussein earned $10.1bn (?8.37bn) in illegal revenues. Of this, $5.7bn came from oil smuggled out of Iraq and $4.4bn in illicit surcharges on oil sales and procurement deals.
Several senators urged the publication of the names of companies and individuals that did business with Saddam's regime.
Oil sales contracts, the committee heard, were drawn up on a forward-cost basis, so the Iraqis could take the difference between the sale price and the market price. After the US and Britain advocated a retroactive pricing system, where the price was set at a later date, the scope for kickbacks was "substantially reduced", John Negroponte, US ambassador to the UN, said.
Lawmakers Seek Probe of U.N. Oil-for-Food Program
Thursday, Apr. 08, 2004
U.S. lawmakers are calling on the United Nations to conduct a thorough investigation of alleged corruption in its oil-for-food program in Iraq. They say such a probe is crucial if the world body is to maintain credibility as it prepares to play a role in the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq in late June.
Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday criticized the United Nations for corruption and graft in Iraq's oil-for-food program.
Congress' investigative arm, the General Accounting Office, estimates the regime of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein siphoned billions of dollars in illegal revenue from the program between 1997 and 2002.
The program allowed Iraq to make some humanitarian purchases through limited oil sales at a time when Baghdad was under international sanctions for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee suggested the United Nations' failure to adequately monitor the program calls into question its ability to help Iraq make a transition to a sovereign government June 30.
"There are serious allegations about mismanagement and corruption that must be addressed," said Delaware Senator Joe Biden, the panel's top Democrat. "Not only to hold accountable those who are guilty of corruption, but to make sure we get it right in the future, because we are going to lose credibility, the institution will lose credibility and the ability in the future to act is going to be seriously damaged.
Committee chairman, Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, agreed. "The credibility of the United Nations in attempting to referee, supervise, or help to transform Iraq in this situation is really at stake," he said.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for an independent probe into the corruption allegations.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, told the Foreign Relations Committee that he is urging the secretary general to appoint experienced investigators who will handle the process in a viable and transparent way.
"I think it is important that he [Secretary General Annan] choose very high caliber people of outstanding reputation to lead this panel. I understand he intends to name the panel members in the near future," he said.
Some senators blamed Russia, France and China for blocking past U.S. efforts to investigate the corruption allegations. Those nations played a key role in the oil-for-food program.
Senator Lugar suggested those countries may have opposed the U.S.-led coalition's decision to use force to topple Saddam Hussein because ousting the regime would expose corruption in the oil-for-food program.
U.N. investigations focus on process, not substance.
By Claudia Rosett
"Cover-up" may sound farfetched, given the number of hearings and investigations now zeroing in on the United Nations Oil-for-Food scandal. The Iraq Governing Council began its own inquiry back in March. The U.S. Congress has scheduled three hearings this month, the first of them taking place today (Wednesday) before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. At the U.N. itself, where more than 100 audits over the course of the seven-year program apparently managed to miss more than $10 billion in smuggling and graft, Secretary-General Kofi Annan finally gave in last month to demands for an independent inquiry, and is now convening a team of investigators.
But when it comes to Oil-for-Food, there seem to be a lot of inquiring minds that don't want to know. Nor is the itch for ignorance confined to those most directly in the line of fire: the vast number of U.N.-approved contractors who paid kickbacks to Saddam Hussein; the U.N. staff who will now be investigated; the executive director of Oil-for-Food, Benon Sevan, alleged to have had his hand in the pot; or even the U.N. auditors -- whatever they did with their time.
No, the bigger problem is the prevailing notion -- and it seems to prevail all the way up to the White House -- that the U.N.'s image must somehow be kept pure enough so that it can soon (June 30) replace the Coalition Provisional Authority in post-Saddam Iraq as the primary outsider involved in Iraqi daily affairs. The fear, in New York and Washington, repeated by many a source speaking strictly on background, is that if we ever get to the bottom of this U.N.-funneled geyser of graft, it might discredit the U.N. too badly to allow it yet another influential role in Iraq.
Since Annan's epiphany last month, that "It is highly possible that there has been quite a lot of wrongdoing," the whitewashing has begun. The chief vehicle for this effort looks likely to be the U.N.'s own investigation, which will now be carried out under terms devised by none other than Kofi Annan himself -- the same Kofi Annan who presided over this cornucopia of corruption in the first place.
On the face of it, the impending U.N. investigation sounds satisfactory. According to the "terms of reference" -- meaning the ground rules proposed last month by Annan and welcomed by the Security Council -- the investigators are to have "unrestricted access to all relevant United Nations records and information" and to all U.N. personnel, "regardless of their seniority." They will check into such matters as whether U.N. staff or contractors took bribes "in the carrying out of their respective roles in relation to the Programme," and determine whether the accounts were kept "in accordance with the relevant Financial Regulations and Rules of the United Nations."
All that's left to do is wait for Annan to name the members of the panel. Within three months, they will then submit to Annan, in quintuplicate, a summary and underlying report. These materials he will share with the public, up to a point -- that point involving various judgments about "the rights of staff members" at the U.N., as well as anything the investigators might decide to keep confidential.
That's interesting, as far as it goes. In the event that any U.N. employees did happen to pocket the office paper clips, take bribes strictly through official U.N. channels, or leave the commas off some of the thousands of U.N.-processed contracts through which Saddam Hussein skimmed billions out of the Oil-for-Food program, Annan's ground rules may quite possibly nail a few wrongdoers.
But when the entire investigation is done, even if brilliantly performed under these guidelines, there will still be no accounting for the gross failures that allowed the U.N. to devise, implement, approve, and expand this monstrosity of a program until the transition had been made from food-for-children to palaces,-sports-stadiums,-smuggling,-and-kickbacks-for-Saddam-and-his-worldwide-network-of-cronies. When Annan sifts through the underlying report (in quintuplicate) there will still be no explanation of why top U.N. officials (including Annan himself) -- charged not with cleaning the copy machines, but with protecting the integrity of the institution and serving the public interest -- chose instead to shrug, gloss over Saddam's gross abuses, blame others, deny, stonewall, and finally come up with an investigation focused mainly on paper clips.
In a letter last week to Annan, Rep. Henry Hyde (R., Ill.), who will preside at an Oil-for-Food hearing later this month, wrote that the program "represents a scandal without precedent in U.N. history." Hyde's suggestion to Annan was: "Your response to these allegations must be equally unprecedented."
Hyde is onto something big. Oil-for-Food is important not simply as a stellar story of fraud, but for what it highlights about pervasive flaws in the structure and habits of the U.N. There is first the problem of responsibility: When something goes wrong, as we are now witnessing, the Security Council blames the Secretariat, and the Secretariat blames the Security Council. If something goes very badly wrong, then there is finally an investigation, maybe one or two people get fired, but there is no change of paradigm. Perhaps that's the only arrangement by which the U.N. can hold together. If so, we need to absorb the message that the U.N. is an institution that should never be trusted to carry out missions requiring integrity or responsibility. (Engendering a free society in Iraq, for instance.)
Then there's the U.N. custom of secrecy, usually explained by U.N. officials as a matter of deference to the "sensitivities" of member nations. How convenient. Chronic secrecy is a policy best geared to serve those who have the most to hide: the tyrants, the crooks, and the cheats (which, not coincidentally, turned out to be precisely the stew served up by Oil-for-Food). In setting up Oil-for-Food, the U.N. deferred greatly to the sensitivities of Saddam, protecting the privacy of his totalitarian regime and his business partners -- which included the commission-collecting U.N. itself. Had the details of the contracts been made public all along, had the accounts and the famous 100-and-then-some audits been released, often, there would have been at least a better chance of keeping Oil-for-Food honest.
None of this will be addressed by the independent U.N. investigation. Instead, once Annan has sorted through the findings and sifted out whatever is judged by U.N. standards to violate the "rights of staff members," we are all too likely to emerge with a U.N. just as irresponsible, unaccountable, and secretive as when it spawned Oil-for-Food, back in the mid-1990s. (Though the paperwork may, for a while, be kept in better order.)
Hope must turn, then, to the congressional hearings, and the investigation of the Iraq Governing Council. On the congressional front, staffers have been struggling to get a grip on Oil-for-Food, a program that was simply so vast, so complicated, and for so long so busily confidential, that it will be miraculous if they are able to piece it together thoroughly enough to lever any motion toward real reform at the U.N. The only serious point of leverage, actually, is U.S. funding, which provides about 22 percent of Annan's core budget. In the case of Iraq, the U.N. in return for this delivered a decade of busted sanctions, culminating in financial collaboration with a murderous tyrant, topped off by a knockdown fight in the Security Council pitting the U.S. and the U.K. against Saddam's U.N.-approved clientele, all topped off by Oil-for-Food. And, oh yes, now we have the U.N.'s offer to return to Iraq -- to confer legitimacy.
Quite likely, the best chance of a report that is both fully informed and frank lies with the investigation, in Baghdad, under the authority of the Iraq Governing Council. Early on, the Iraqis understood the need to look into Oil-for-Food -- while Annan, who for almost seven years ran the program, was still professing his doubts that anything might have been wrong. But in the current climate of complicated worries about discrediting the U.N., it should come as no surprise that the Iraqi investigation recently hit a bump. The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, in its own version of U.N.-style procedure, at this late date suddenly required the IGC-hired investigating team to drop their work in order to write a proposal, bidding for the right to carry out the investigation already well underway. In response, an adviser to the IGC, Claude Hankes-Drielsma, sent a letter to the CPA, noting: "I would certainly hope that the independent report commissioned and approved by the Iraq Governing Council will not become a political football either through confusion or interference." It seems the IGC investigation will now be able to go forward. That would be a very good thing, especially in the way of helping the Iraqi people decide just how much legitimacy they themselves would like to confer upon the U.N.
-- Claudia Rosett is a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and an adjunct fellow with the Hudson Institute.
>> BUNDES AHEM...
Bundesbank head suspended after accepting ?5,000 stay at hotel
Thursday April 8, 2004
An embarrassed Bundesbank was forced to send its president, Ernst Welteke, on gardening leave yesterday following the revelation that the country's most
senior financial official had accepted four nights' accommodation for himself and his family at a luxury Berlin hotel paid for by a private bank.
In a statement following an all-day emergency meeting of its board, the Bundesbank said there were not sufficient grounds to fire Mr Welteke, who has apologised and offered to repay half the ?8,000 (?5,000) cost of his stay.
Despite the lukewarm backing of the board, his future was looking uncertain last night. On Monday Frankfurt prosecutors launched a formal investigation into the scandal.
Dresdner Bank, which paid Mr Welteke's bill for the four-day stay in January 2001 during the launch of the euro's new notes and coins, is regulated by the Bundesbank. Prosecutors will examine whether Mr Welteke broke laws governing the conduct of public officials by accepting the company's hospitality.
The affair has enraged politicians at a time when the German economy is struggling to shrug off three years of economic stagnation. The government is reported to have privately asked Mr Welteke to resign and yesterday urged the fiercely independent central bank to make a quick decision about his future.
"It would be in the interest of the Bundesbank, which is a very special institution and in Germany's history enjoys a particularly high reputation ... that one reaches a quick decision," government spokesman Thomas Steg said ahead of the meeting.
Public opinion has been inflamed by the story of Mr Welteke's lavish lifestyle at a time when Germans are being told to accept painful economic reforms. The central bank has been particularly critical of the government's fiscal laxity, an irony not lost Mr Welteke's enemies.
Mr Welteke has not ruled out resigning to limit the damage to the bank's reputation. Names of possible candidates to succeed him are already floating in government circles, with deputy finance minister Caio Koch-Weser and Bundesbank vice-president J?rgen Stark seen as front runners.
The Bundesbank declined to spell out how long Mr Welteke's leave would last but added that Mr Stark would in the meantime take over Mr Welteke's seat on the European Central Bank's policy-making council.
Mr Steg made it clear that Berlin would prefer to see Mr Welteke go.
Given public criticism it was "understandable and justified if Welteke publicly asks himself the question whether he can put family, himself, his office and the institution of the Bundesbank through this" the spokesman said.
Bundesbank chief to "temporarily" step down
By Patrick Jenkins in Frankfurt
Published: April 6 2004 18:14 | Last Updated: April 8 2004 0:34
The board of the German Bundesbank Wednesday night asked Ernst Welteke, the central bank's president, to take an indefinite leave of absence following his involvement in a row over corporate hospitality.
The decision, after a seven-hour board meeting, gives Mr Welteke the chance to resume his position if he is found innocent of wrongdoing by an ongoing investigation into the affair by the Frankfurt state prosecutor.
However, the prosecutor said the probe could take "weeks or months" to determine whether Dresdner Bank sought to gain advantage when it paid a ?7,661 ($8,965) hotel bill for Mr Welteke and his family two years ago.
In a statement last night, the Bundesbank board said: "The president of a national central bank can only be sacked if he has committed a serious misdemeanour." J?rgen Stark, the Bundesbank's vice-president, will take charge during Mr Welteke's leave of absence.
The decision ignored urging from the government for a "swift clarification". The affair has been an embarrassment for the government of Gerhard Schr?der, the chancellor, as the controversy surrounding Mr Welteke hit the Bundesbank's reputation.
The Bundesbank is one of the bodies responsible for regulating Germany's banking sector.
In an interview with ZDF television on Wednesday, Mr Welteke said: "I don't believe I've ever done anything to compromise my independence. But if the board and the Frankfurt public prosecutor see things differently, then clearly one has to consider resignation."
Bundesbank is losing last of its mystique
By Bertrand Benoit
Published: April 8 2004 0:52 | Last Updated: April 8 2004 0:52
"Not all Germans believe in God," Jacques Delors, the former French finance minister and European Commission president, once remarked. "But they all believe in the Bundesbank."
That may have been true, once. Since the German central bank surrendered the tools of monetary policy to the European Central Bank five years ago, however, the halo has all but disappeared.
Against such a backdrop, this week's hospitality scandal involving Ernst Welteke, the bank's president, looks like the latest milestone on the institution's slow road towards insignificance.
"The myth of the Bundesbank has taken another blow," said J?rgen Michels, economist at Citigroup. "At stake here is no longer its influence, but its reputation in the mind of Germans and Europeans."
Up to the late 1990s, the bank's low-rise concrete headquarters in the Frankfurt suburb of Ginnheim was arguably the beating heart of monetary Europe, where short-term interest rates for the entire continent were, de facto, set.
That changed in 1999 with the creation of the euro and transfer of monetary policy across town to the Eurotower, the Frankfurt home of the European Central Bank, which sets rates for the eurozone.
The head of the "Buba", today has no more say in the continent's monetary affairs than the 11 other central bank presidents and six ECB executive council members who sit on the ECB's governing council.
The bank's other prerogatives have also been gradually eroded. Mr Welteke, for instance, failed to persuade Hans Eichel, finance minister and fellow Social Democrat, to give it the lead in supervising Germany's banking sector.
Remaining are secondary activities as operator of a payment system for financial institutions, collector of economic statistics and custodian of Germany's gold and currency reserves.
The concrete fortress on the river Main could still have put its statistical resources and independence from government to good use, by turning itself into a prime economic think-tank. Yet even there, it has been found wanting.
Bankers say Mr Welteke, a former finance minister in the state of Hesse and a political appointee in his current position, has demonstrated none of the intellectual brilliance of Karl Blessing, Karl Otto P?hl, or Hans Tietmeyer, his predecessors.
Gerhard Schr?der, German chancellor, had already finalised "Agenda 2010" on structural reforms when "Ways out of the crisis", the Bundesbank's contribution, came out in March 2003.
Having lost authority, the bank also shrank physically.
Under Mr Welteke, its payroll of 14,589 was due to be cut by a quarter by 2007.
Seventy-three of its 118 regional branches have been earmarked for closure.
Yet the news that Mr Welteke had Dresdner Bank pay ?7,661.20 ($9,330, ?5,070) for a luxury hotel for him and his family three years ago, while he was attending an event it sponsored, still matters, bankers say, as it could rob the Bundesbank of one of its few remaining attributes: its moral authority.
In a country where financial journalists routinely accept lavish hospitality from the companies they report on, it was less the hotel that shocked than Mr Welteke's initial reaction to the revelations in the Spiegel news magazine.
"When I attend somebody else's event, I assume the costs will be covered," he told journalists last Sunday.
He then paused, frowned and rhetorically added: "Should I pay for it myself?"
German government asks federal bank chief to resign
www.chinaview.cn 2004-04-08 09:31:35
BERLIN, April 7 (Xinhuanet) -- The German government on Wednesday asked German central bank chief Ernst Welteke to resign immediately for his so-called "hotel scandal."
Earlier in the day, Welteke, president of the Bundes bank, decided to step aside from his duties temporarily at a recommendation of the bank's board of directors.
But a statement from the German Finance Ministry said that to step aside on a temporary basis was not enough and "we expect this matter to be clarified immediately."
Welteke and his family members spent a couple of nights at a luxury five-star hotel in Berlin at the expenditure of a private bank during celebrations marking the circulation of euro on January 1, 2001.
German prosecutors have launched an investigation on whether Welteke violated laws by accepting favors from the private bank. Enditem
SPIEGEL ONLINE - 07. April 2004, 20:03
Kritik an Vorstands-Beschluss
Bundesregierung dr?ngt Welteke zum R?cktritt
Bundesbankpr?sident Ernst Welteke wird sein Amt ruhen lassen, bis die Vorw?rfe im Zusammenhang mit einem Luxus-Aufenthalt im Berliner Adlon-Hotel gekl?rt sind. Dies gab der Vorstand der Notenbank nach einer fast achtst?ndigen Krisensitzung bekannt. Die Bundesregierung dr?ngt derweil auf einen R?cktritt des Beh?rdenchefs.
Bundesbankchef Welteke: Abwarten, bis die Luxus-Vorw?rfe gekl?rt sind
Frankfurt am Main/Berlin - "Die Bundesregierung geht davon aus, dass der Bundesbankpr?sident in seiner Verantwortung vor dem Amt und der Institution Bundesbank die notwendigen Konsequenzen ziehen wird", erkl?rte das Bundesfinanzministerium am Mittwochabend in Berlin.
Die Entscheidung des Bundesbankvorstands gegen eine Entlassung Weltekes wegen der Hotelkostenaff?re kritisierte das Ministerium als unangemessen. "Die Bundesregierung ist der Auffassung, dass sowohl das Amt des Bundesbankpr?sidenten als auch die Bundesbank als Institution vor weiterem Schaden bewahrt werden m?ssen", hie? es in der Erkl?rung. "Dies gebietet ihre Stellung gegen?ber den Finanzm?rkten als auch die Mitgliedschaft im Rat der EZB."
Der Vorstand der Notenbank hatte zuvor entschieden, dass Vizepr?sident J?rgen Stark die Gesch?fte kommissarisch f?hren soll, hie? es in einer schriftlichen Erkl?rung. Stark ?bernehme auch vorl?ufig Weltekes Amt als Mitglied im Rat der Europ?ischen Zentralbank (EZB).
Die Entscheidung im Bundesbank-Vorstand sei sehr schwierig gewesen. "Die Bewertung des Sachverhalts auf der Grundlage des Europ?ischen Systems der Zentralbanken-Status, des Bundesbankgesetzes und des Anstellungsvertrages von Herrn Welteke bietet dem Vorstand keinen hinreichenden Grund, einen Antrag auf Abberufung des Bundesbank-Pr?sidenten aus seinem Amt zu stellen", hie? es in der schriftlichen Mitteilung des Vorstands. "Der Pr?sident einer nationalen Zentralbank kann nach Art.14 Absatz 2 des ESZB-Status nur entlassen werden, wenn er eine schwere Verfehlung begangen hat."
Der Bundesbankvorstand habe Welteke im Hinblick auf die staatsanwaltschaftlichen Ermittlungen empfohlen, seine Amtsgesch?fte ruhen zu lassen. Welteke habe dem entsprochen. Mit der Entscheidung, dass er sein Amt zun?chst nur ruhen l?sst, solle ihm erm?glicht werden, sein Gesicht zu wahren.
Interimspr?sident Stark: Sitz im Rat der EZB
W?hrend der Vorstand der Zentralbank in Frankfurt die Vorw?rfe gegen den Pr?sidenten pr?fte, dr?ngte die Bundesregierung auf eine rasche Entscheidung. Die Beratungen des siebenk?pfigen Gremiums ?ber den umstrittenen Hotel-Aufenthalt hatten mittags begonnen, gegen 19.10 Uhr war die Sitzung beendet. Vorstandsmitglied Franz-Christoph Zeitler war per Telefon zugeschaltet. Welteke, der an den Beratungen nicht teilnahm, war kurz vor 18 Uhr dazu gesto?en und verlie? den Raum kurze Zeit sp?ter wieder.
Der Bundesbank-Pr?sident hatte noch am Nachmittag in einem ZDF-Interview erkl?rt, er halte an seinem Posten fest. Wenn jedoch der Vorstand Verfehlungen feststelle und ihn die Ermittlungen der Staatsanwaltschaft belasteten, "dann muss man nat?rlich ?ber R?cktritt nachdenken".
Eine z?gige Kl?rung w?re f?r ihre "weitere Funktionsf?higkeit" und angesichts ihrer Rolle als eine "ganz besondere Institution" im Interesse der Bundesbank, sagte der stellvertretende Regierungssprecher Thomas Steg, w?hrend der Bundesbank-Vorstand tagte. Falls es nach einer Entscheidung des Gremiums notwendig werde, sei die Bundesregierung ihrerseits sofort in der Lage, die notwendigen Personalentscheidungen zu treffen, betonten sowohl Steg als auch der Sprecher des Bundesfinanzministeriums, J?rg M?ller, ohne sich auf Personalspekulationen einzulassen.
Im Laufe des Tages hatte sich der Staatssekret?r im Bundesfinanzministerium, Caio Koch-Weser, 59, als Favorit der Bundesregierung f?r die Nachfolge Weltekes herauskristallisiert. Neben ihm wurden auch Bundesbank-Vize Stark, 55, und die SPD-Finanzpolitikerin Ingrid Matth?us-Maier, 58, die im Vorstand der ehemaligen Kreditanstalt f?r Wiederaufbau (heute KfW-Bankengruppe) sitzt, als Kandidaten f?r die Nachfolge gehandelt.
Welteke hatte zu Silvester 2001 an einer Feier zur Euro-Bargeldeinf?hrung in Berlin teilgenommen. Die Kosten f?r den Aufenthalt von Welteke, der vom 29. Dezember bis zum 2. Januar im Nobelhotel "Adlon" wohnte, hatte die Dresdner Bank ?bernommen. ?berdies kam die Bank auch noch f?r die Kosten von Weltekes Frau, seines Sohnes und dessen Freundin auf. Insgesamt wurden Kosten in H?he von 7661,20 Euro ?bernommen.
? SPIEGEL ONLINE 2004
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D O K U M E N T A T I O N
Die Erkl?rung des Bundesbank-Vorstands
Die Adlon-Aff?re des Bundesbank-Pr?sidenten Ernst Welteke hat einen Konflikt zwischen Bundesbank und Bundesregierung ausgel?st. F?r eine Abberufung sah das Pr?sidium der Zentralbank keinen hinreichenden Grund. manager-magazin.de dokumentiert die Erkl?rung im Wortlaut.
Frankfurt am Main/Hamburg - Das Leitungsgremium der Deutschen Bundesbank hat am Mittwoch knapp acht Stunden lang ?ber die so genannten Adlon-Aff?re beraten. Auf einen Antrag, Welteke deswegen abzuberufen, verzichtete der Bundesbank-Vorstand jedoch. Seine Erkl?rung im Wortlaut:
"Frankfurt am Main, 7. April 2004 - Der Vorstand der Deutschen Bundesbank hat in seiner heutigen Sitzung die gegen Pr?sident Welteke im Zusammenhang mit einer Veranstaltung zur Einf?hrung des Euro-Bargeldes in Berlin zum Jahreswechsel 2001/2002 erhobenen Vorw?rfe gepr?ft. Pr?sident Welteke wurde zum Sachverhalt angeh?rt.
Der Vorstand best?tigt seine am Montag, den 5. April 2004, getroffene Entscheidung, dass die Kosten f?r die Teilnahme von Herrn Welteke an der Veranstaltung f?r zwei Tage von der Deutschen Bundesbank ?bernommen und dar?ber hinausgehende Kosten privater Natur von Herrn Welteke getragen werden.
Die Bewertung des Sachverhalts auf der Grundlage des ESZB-Statuts, des Bundesbankgesetzes und des Anstellungsvertrages von Herrn Welteke bietet dem Vorstand keinen hinreichenden Grund, einen Antrag auf Abberufung des Bundesbankpr?sidenten aus seinem Amt zu stellen. Der Pr?sident einer nationalen Zentralbank kann nach Art. 14 Absatz 2 des ESZB-Statuts nur entlassen werden, wenn er eine schwere Verfehlung begangen hat.
Der Vorstand der Deutschen Bundesbank hat Herrn Pr?sident Welteke im Hinblick auf die gestern wegen eines Anfangsverdachts auf Vorteilsannahme aufgenommenen staatsanwaltschaftlichen Ermittlungen empfohlen, seine Amtsgesch?fte mit dem heutigen Tage ruhen zu lassen. Pr?sident Welteke hat dem entsprochen. Vizepr?sident Dr. Stark wurde mit der Wahrnehmung der Aufgaben als Mitglied des EZB-Rats betraut."
Kerry bezeichnet US-Besatzung im Irak als "Chaos"
Washington (APA/ag.) - Der demokratische Pr?sidentschaftskandidat John Kerry hat die US-Besatzung im Irak als "Chaos" bezeichnet. Die US-F?hrung gehe "ungeschickt" mit der Lage um, sagte Kerry gegen?ber CNN. Es sei an der Zeit, dass Pr?sident Bush die Probleme eingestehe und eine andere Politik einschlage. Verteidigungsminister Rumsfeld betonte indes, die USA h?tten die Kontrolle im Irak nicht verloren.
Kerry erkl?rte in dem TV-Interview weiter, es sei ein Fehler gewesen, Kriegsgegner vom Wiederaufbau des Irak auszuschlie?en. "Das ist eine f?rchterliche Botschaft an die Staaten", sagte er. Bush m?sse den Wiederaufbau und die Einsetzung einer ?bergangsregierung "einer legitimierten internationalen Einheit" ?berlassen. Rumsfeld betonte angesichts der anhaltenden Gewalt, dass die USA die Kontrolle im Irak nicht verloren h?tten. Die Zahl der Angreifer sei gering, sagte der Verteidigungsminister am Mittwoch in Washington. Zugleich r?umte Rumsfeld jedoch ein, dass die Stadt Najaf nicht mehr der Kontrolle der US-gef?hrten Besatzungstruppen unterliegt. Die Koalition habe sich auf Bitten der Iraker aus der Schiiten-Hochburg zur?ckgezogen, weil zurzeit sowohl zahlreiche Pilger als auch Milizen in der Stadt seien, sagte Rumsfeld. In Najaf waren am Sonntag bei K?mpfen zwischen Schiiten und den Besatzungstruppen 20 Iraker get?tet und etwa 200 verletzt worden. Die Stadt geh?rt zu den heiligsten St?tten der Schiiten. Angesichts der schweren Unruhen wollen die USA ihre Truppen im Irak l?nger im Einsatz lassen als geplant. Rumsfeld deutete an, dass das Milit?r den derzeit laufenden Truppenwechsel so weit hinausz?gern wird, dass "die fronterfahrenen Soldaten die aktuelle Situation durchfechten" k?nnten. Nach Angaben des Pentagons sind derzeit 135.000 US-Soldaten im Irak, ihre Zahl soll nach den Rotationen wieder auf 115.000 absinken.
APA 3:17 8.04.2004
Communists Infiltrated Kerry's Anti-War Group, Historian Says
by Marc Morano
Posted Apr 6, 2004
The 1970s anti-war group that included John Kerry was "heavily infiltrate[d]" by individuals dedicated to the teachings of Chinese communist leader Mao Tse-Tung and to the use of violence, if necessary to achieve their goals, according to a historian friendly to Kerry.
"The RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party) was already beginning to heavily infiltrate the [Vietnam Veterans Against the War in 1971]. They eventually took it over around '73 and basically pushed out all the real veterans and brought in all the RCP functionaries and destroyed the organization," Gerald Nicosia, author of Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans' Movement and a Kerry supporter, told CNSNews.com.
"Even in 1971, there was an RCP presence ... [RCP is] a crackpot organization, very violent, extremely violent, far left Maoist organization," led by a man named Bob Avakian, Nicosia said.
"[In 1971] they were trying to take over and eventually did take over VVAW," he added.
Nicosia said Kerry was aware of communism's increasing presence in the VVAW operations and it was one of the factors that led to his resignation as one of the leaders of the group in November 1971.
But even though Kerry resigned from the group's leadership in November 1971, several published news accounts cite Kerry as a representative of VVAW into 1972.
The RCP's efforts to control VVAW came to a head in 1978, when the communist factions split off to form their own group called Vietnam Veterans Against the War - Anti-Imperialist (VVAW-AI.) This group still exists today and refers to the U.S. as "AmeriKKKa" on its website.
Other radical factions influenced VVAW, according to Nicosia.
"There were guys that were not Maoist, but guys who were like Scott Camil," Nicosia said, referring to the man who allegedly advocated the possible assassination of U.S. senators still supportive of the U.S. war effort in Vietnam. "They were veterans and still believed in the U.S and still saluted the flag, but believed this government was all wet and wanted to get rid of it," Nicosia said.
"There was Al Hubbard, who was a Black Panther who was also pushing the organization toward violent confrontation," Nicosia added. Hubbard, who had appeared at Kerry's side in April of 1971 on NBC's "Meet the Press," was later shown to have lied about his military record.
Current VVAW member David Cline dismissed the communist presence in VVAW during the time Kerry served as the group's spokesman.
"Some people had philosophies of varying types. There [were] people who were driven by religious views ... there was one guy who was involved in Veterans for [the George] McGovern campaign. So there [were] people coming from different areas," Cline told CNSNews.com . "Anytime you are going to get a big organization, you are going to get a lot of different views."
Cline, who joined VVAW in 1970 and today serves as a national coordinator for the group, said the veterans were not concerned with the political views of their fellow members.
"We were coming from having been in war, so we were coming from, in a lot of ways, gut level knowledge and feelings, and high blown political philosophies weren't really the main thing people were concerned about," Cline explained.
VVAW reached out to radical individuals and groups in part to achieve racial harmony, he said.
"VVAW -- it was interracial, but it was more white soldiers in general. A lot of Vietnam Veterans joined the Black Panthers and the American Indian movement and groups of that nature and we were trying to build bonds with our fellow veterans of different nationalities and races," Cline said.
"In [those] days there [were] a lot of radical ideas in the air -- a lot of s*** was going down back then," he added.
Cline said he recalls avowed communists being a part of the VVAW in the early 1970s, but dismissed their importance. "Mainly I thought they were just people just trying to sell their papers," he said.
John Zutz, a current VVAW national coordinator, confirmed the Maoist communist influence in his group.
"That in fact did happen. The RCP was attempting to take over [VVAW]," Zutz told CNSNews.com. And the group's influence grew even larger in 1973, he said.
"The war was basically over, so the membership in VVAW started dropping, which gave the RCP a chance to try to take it over," Zutz said.
The RCP communists were hard workers and eventually obtained leadership roles in VVAW, he added. "They were veterans and they were active and they became leaders. Because they were active and they were willing to do the work, they started working themselves up the leadership ladder," he said.
Cline believes that much of the recent scrutiny of Kerry's anti-war activism has originated from a "far right segment" of veterans trying to influence the election.
"I think that there is a segment of the veteran's community, a far right segment. They are working to try and whip this up," Cline said.
Copyright ? 2003 HUMAN EVENTS. All Rights Reserved.
B.G. Burkett: Navy Commanders to Cast Doubt on Kerry's War Record
Several Navy officers who supervised Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry when he commanded a swift boat in Vietnam are preparing to publicly question his war record - including the circumstances under which he was awarded three Purple Hearts - a noted Vietnam War historian revealed on Sunday.
Burkett, whose book, "Stolen Valor," is considered to be the definitive history of of falsified Vietnam War claims, told WABC Radio's Steve Malzberg that Kerry's former commanders would allege that the top Democrat's Purple Hearts were awarded for "self-reported injuries that were virtually nonexistent."
"He never got a day of treatment, he never spent a day in a medical facility," Burkett said. "These were all self-reported wounds, which you're going to hear from some swift boat guys in the future as to the nature of those wounds."
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Burkett said he had personally spoken to the Navy commanders who were preparing to go public about Kerry's decorations.
"You're going to get quite a showing [of those speaking out]," Burkett told Malzberg. "I don't know [the number] yet. They're trying to get it to be unanimous of every swift boat guy who ever served."
As to the timetable for the upcoming revelations, Burkett said that Kerry's superior officers "were still discussing that."
Burkett's book was the first to expose Kerry's false claims made in the early 1970s about U.S. war atrocities, as well as Kerry's claim -- later found to be untrue -- that he trashed his war medals.
"You've got some major rallys being planned against John Kerry by Vietnam veterans on the mall, at the convention - this type of thing," he said. "And we're going to make America aware of John Kerry's military record."
Kerry: Terrorist Shiite Al-Sadr 'a Legitimate Voice'
In an interview broadcast Wednesday morning, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry defended terrorist Shiite imam Muqtada al-Sadr as a "legitimate voice" in Iraq, despite that fact that he's led an uprising that has killed nearly 20 American GIs in the last two days.
Speaking of al-Sadr's newspaper, which was shut down by coalition forces last week after it urged violence against U.S. troops, Kerry complained to National Public Radio, "They shut a newspaper that belongs to a legitimate voice in Iraq."
In the next breath, however, the White House hopeful caught himself and quickly changed direction. "Well, let me ... change the term 'legitimate.' It belongs to a voice -- because he has clearly taken on a far more radical tone in recent days and aligned himself with both Hamas and Hezbollah, which is a sort of terrorist alignment."
But Kerry again seemed to voice sympathy for the Shiite terrorist when asked whether he supported al-Sadr's arrest. "Not if it's an isolated act without the other kinds of steps necessary to change the dynamics on the ground in Iraq," Kerry told NPR, in quotes first reported by the New York Sun.
"If all we do is make war against the Iraqi people and continue an American occupation, fundamentally, without a clarity as to who and how sovereignty is being turned over, we have a very serious problem for the long run here," Kerry added. "And I think this administration is just walking dead center down into that trap."
On March 28, the U.S.-led coalition authorities closed al-Sadr's newspaper, al-Hawza, for 60 days, the Sun reported. L. Paul Bremer, the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq, charged that the newspaper had published false stories blaming the coalition forces for local acts of terrorism.
>> SHELL SAGA CONTINUED...
Oman's Oil Yield Long in Decline, Shell Data Show
By JEFF GERTH and STEPHEN LABATON
The Royal Dutch/Shell Group's oil production in Oman has been declining for years, belying the company's optimistic reports and raising doubts about a vital question in the Middle East: whether new technology can extend the life of huge but mature oil fields.
Internal company documents and technical papers show that the Yibal field, Oman's largest, began to decline rapidly in 1997. Yet Sir Philip Watts, Shell's former chairman, said in an upbeat public report in 2000 that "major advances in drilling" were enabling the company "to extract more from such mature fields." The internal Shell documents suggest that the figure for proven oil reserves in Oman was mistakenly increased in 2000, resulting in a 40 percent overstatement.
The company's falling production and reduced reserves in Oman are part of a broader problem facing Shell, the British-Dutch oil giant that earlier this year lowered its estimate of worldwide reserves, a crucial financial indicator, by 20 percent, or 3.9 billion barrels.
Documents show that senior executives were told the calculations of reserves were too high in 2002, at least two years before the company downgraded its estimate this January.
While Oman represents a small part of Shell's reserves, oil industry experts say the company's experience there highlights broader questions about the future role of Western oil companies and their technology in the Persian Gulf, which has most of the world's oil reserves.
In the case of the Yibal field, for example, Shell and Omani oil engineers and auditors have expressed concerns that a technique Sir Philip said would recover more oil not only did not do so, but also increased the amount of water in the extracted oil to as much as 90 percent of the total volume, increasing production costs.
"In Oman, Shell seems to have fumbled on technology," said Ali Morteza Samsam Bakhtiari, a senior official with the National Iranian Oil Company.
Perhaps more ominously for the world's oil outlook, he added that the failure of Shell's horizontal drilling technology in Oman suggested that even advanced extraction techniques "won't bring back the good old days."
In the last 10 years, horizontal drilling has become one of the most important innovations in the oil production business and is widely used around the world. If properly managed, it can extract more oil from some fields, and can pump it out sooner and more efficiently than traditional vertical drilling.
Shell helped pioneer the technique, and it did accelerate production in Yibal, documents show. But a Shell document last fall did oes not project the technique to increase the amount of oil that will ultimately be recovered from the field, and it resulted in additional water being mixed in with the oil, increasing production costs. That suggests that although it may work in some places, horizontal drilling may not always be the answer to declining production rates in the mature fields of the Middle East.
Sir Philip made his optimistic assessment of the Oman field in May 2000, when he was the company's head of exploration and development. He was named chairman a year later. The board dismissed him and Walter van de Vijver, chief executive of the exploration and production business in early March, about two months after Shell reduced its reserves estimate.
Regulators in Europe and Washington, as well prosecutors at the United States Justice Department are investigating whether Shell's disclosures about its reserves complied with securities laws. The company says it is cooperating with the investigations and expects to announce the results of an internal review in the next few weeks.
"Shell has been open about the production shortfall in Oman, most recently in the presentation to analysts on Feb. 5," Simon Buerk, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail message responding to questions. Mr. Buerk said that production targets were met in 2003. Pending investigations limited the company's ability to comment on Sir Philip's statements, he said.
Shell has been involved in Oman since the 1930's, when oil was first discovered there. It owns 34 percent of Petroleum Development Oman, the dominant oil and gas exploration company. The Omani government owns 60 percent of the joint venture, which accounts for 90 percent of the sultanate's oil production and virtually all of its natural gas production. The rest is owned by other European companies.
Oman's oil problems are relatively recent. Annual production rose from 1980 to 1997, when the 35-year-old Yibal field began to decline.
Two engineering papers written last year by Petroleum Development Oman officials show that production in Yibal has fallen at an annual rate of about 12 percent for six years; that is more than twice the normal rate of 5 percent in the region. Moreover, Shell overstated its proven oil reserves in Oman, a December 2003 Shell report found, primarily because the company had failed to trim the figures back "in light of recent downturns in oil production rates."
This sober internal analysis differs from optimistic public statements by Shell that continued even after news of production difficulties began to circulate outside the company. When an analyst asked in 2002 about problems in Oman, for example, Sir Philip likened them to "a bit of hiccup."
Joseph I. Goldstein, Sir Philip's lawyer in Washington, did not return a phone call.
Nasser bin Khamis al-Jashmi, an under secretary at Oman's Ministry of Oil and Gas and a member of the board of Petroleum Development Oman, declined to speak publicly about the matter this week. "I will not be able to answer your questions as we are still discussing the whole issue with our partners," he said.
But some insight into Oman's views are contained in remarks made a few years ago by its minister of oil and gas and another director of Petroleum Development Oman. The remarks were published in the venture's newsletter and posted on Shell's Web site. "We have been too preoccupied with trying to get that extra barrel" now, said the minister, Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhy, "rather than formulating a plan for the long term."
Countries like Oman seek to husband their oil and gas to extend their income over the long run, but Shell, aiming to increase value for its shareholders, has a shorter time horizon: its license in Oman expires in 2012, so it has emphasized pumping more oil sooner.
A Dec. 8, 2003, report to Shell's top managers about the impending restatement of reserves criticized the operation in Oman. The cause of the problems, the report said, was "the extreme focus on short-term development opportunities (`keep the rigs busy to keep the oil rate up') to the detriment of defining long-term projects."
Oil experts say the situation in which Shell and Oman, which form one of the few government-company alliances in the region, find themselves may portend problems for the West's quest for energy security. Major energy companies that had run oil operations in the Persian Gulf before they were nationalized decades ago are looking to return to the region and obtain concessions like the one Shell has in Oman.
"There is considerable ambivalence about foreign oil companies in the Persian Gulf," said Valerie Marcel, an expert on oil and the Middle East at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. "Persian Gulf producers would like to see their reservoirs handled with velvet gloves -- and that means a longer and flatter production curve."
Mr. Buerk of Shell said that his company was supporting efforts of the joint venture to "maximize long-term oil production," and that Shell and the Omani government had "a close and strong relationship spanning more than six decades."
But the arrangement can also be "extremely sensitive," according to the internal Shell report of last December, which recommended that the lowered amount of Oman's proven reserves be kept confidential. (Shell officials have said that the revision in Oman accounts for no more than 10 percent of the worldwide restatement, or 390 million barrels.)
The sensitive matter, according to the report, involves negotiations over bonuses that the company can win for increasing reserves. The basis for the bonus is a less rigorous standard -- called expectation reserves -- than the proven-reserves yardstick that the company is required by American rules to list in periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The report said "the expectation reserves may be overstated."
The declines in the Yibal field are spelled out by officials of the joint venture in two papers that were published last year by the Society of Petroleum Engineers. The papers have different numbers: both say production peaked in 1997, but one said it declined to its current rate of 88,057 barrels a day by 2000 from a peak of 251,592, while the other said it fell to 95,000 barrels from 225,000. A spokeswoman for the society said she could not explain the difference.
Both papers say that about 90 percent of the liquid coming out of the ground is water and 10 percent is oil. The high volume of water, one paper said, comes in part from the water that Shell injects into the ground as part of its horizontal drilling technique, which it introduced to Oman in the early 1990's. The relatively high volume of water being pumped up adds considerably to the costs of extracting the oil.
While the field was declining, Sir Philip described it as a marvel of "advances in well technology" that had, in four years, produced additional production and "substantial additional reserves," according to an account of remarks he made on March 9, 1999, that is posted on Shell's Web site.
The next year, Shell officials advised the joint venture "to make an upward correction to proved reserves" based on steady production rates for all of Oman over the next eight years, according to Shell's senior management report dated last December.
The reserve estimate was increased even as overall production began to decline. Nonetheless, Sir Philip, in his remarks on May 29, 2000, continued to talk positively about the effect of horizontal drilling and other technologies on Yibal, saying it was "still the country's most important producer three decades after coming on-stream."
Last December's Shell report said, "With hindsight, it might have been more appropriate to correct the expectation estimate down rather than the proved estimate upwards." The report said that it was understood at the time when the reserve estimate was increased that a more detailed assessment would follow.
But it was not until 2003, four years after the previous audit, that Shell did an audit of proven reserves of its operations in Oman. The audit found that "proved total reserves are currently overstated by some 40 percent."
Exxon Mobil, a competitor of Shell, says that it audits its proven reserves annually.
The lack of a timely assessment of Oman by Shell's auditors, the internal December report explained, was "due to the attention required by serious production decline problems."
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
From the Institute of Advanced Hindsight...
Winston Churchill said famously, "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." That was 1945. Today, lies are capable of circling the globe at the speed of light -- especially when a Leftmedia outlet like CBS's "60 Minutes" hosts "The Dick Clarke Show."
Richard Clarke, a leftover from the Clinton regime, seems to have confused George W. Bush for William J. Clinton. Errantly, Clarke claims President Bush ignored the al-Qa'ida threat and implies culpability for the attack on our countrymen 11 September 2001, eight months after Mr. Bush took office. That attack, you'll recall, was orchestrated by Osama bin Laden, the Islamist terrorist whom Bill Clinton ignored for eight years.
Why is Clarke stepping forward now? Politics and publicity.
George Bush's military record as Commander-in-Chief is far more impressive than anything John Kerry has been able to conjure up. Thus, Kerry and company are determined to undermine President Bush's credibility as CiC by accusing him of dereliction of duty with regard to 9/11 and the war against Jihadi terrorists. To that end, a few weeks back, Kerry's operatives rallied a small group of family members of 9/11 victims against the Bush administration in a shameless exploitation of 3,000 dead Americans. And now they have enlisted Clarke to further erode the perception of the President's CiC performance.
As for Clarke's accusation that President Bush "ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11," it doesn't hold up to even the most fundamental scrutiny.
Contrary to Clarke's "recollection," long before 9/11 President Bush told his National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice that he was "tired of swatting flies," as had been the policy of the Clinton Administration. Instead, the U.S. would need to take the fight to al-Qa'ida. After all, under Clinton's watch, al-Qa'ida operatives had already bombed the World Trade Center, plotted to bomb simultaneously a dozen U.S. trans-Pacific flights, successfully bombed U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, attempted to bomb Los Angeles International Airport, and bombed the USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen. Did we mention the bombing of Khobar Towers?
In effect, Osama bin Laden and his al-Qa'ida terrorist network had operated with impunity since 1993.
To support President Bush's directive, spending for covert action against al-Qa'ida was increased 400%, while the administration's National Security Council deputies began to develop an operations plan to destroy al-Qa'ida. During that time, the Counterterrorism Security Group, the government's interagency counterterrorism crisis-management forum chaired by Dick Clarke, met on a near-daily basis prior to 9/11 out of concern for a potential al-Qa'ida attack. The new plan, a complete departure from the previous administration's policy of appeasement, was on the President's desk by 4 September 2001. Tragically, this wasn't soon enough to prevent the actions of al-Qa'ida one week later -- actions that were planned two years before President Bush took office.
Clarke, testifying before the commission investigating intelligence failures prior to 9/11, should have spent less time peddling books and more time preparing his story. Indeed, when asked by former Sen. Slade Gorton if there was "the remotest chance" the events of 9/11 could have been avoided if the Bush administration had adopted ALL of Clarke's recommendations for dealing with al-Qa'ida, Clarke answered, "No."
Additionally, Clarke's big adventure into the realm of Clinton-sized prevarication was not solely a politically-motivated assault on the President's integrity, but timed to give maximum exposure by the Leftmedia to his new book, which is little more than a Leftist diatribe against the Bush doctrine of preemption. To that end, it is worth noting that the parent company of CBS (Clarke's principal promoter) is Viacom -- which also happens to be the parent company of Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Clarke's dubious new book, "Against All Enemies." (Recall that in January, CBS and Viacom orchestrated the same "60 Minutes" book promotion for another Bush-bashing tome -- that of fired former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill.)
Quote of the week...
"You can't walk away from this challenge. You can't say it isn't going to affect me. You can't say let's not take any actions that a terrorist might not like, like say, participating in the Coalition in Iraq or doing other things ... because you are afraid of what the terrorist reaction might be. This is the time to fight terrorism, not to walk away or be terrified by terrorism." --Secretary of State Colin Powell
"For us, today, the hearings and frantic finger-pointing about September 11 are as silly and pointless as they are inevitable. The emergence of Islamist terrorism has been a good half century in the making -- from the theoretical writings by Egyptian intellectuals at the middle of the last century to September 11 and beyond. The clash between our civilization and that force was probably inevitable. If the events of September 11 had failed for any reason, there would have been another day and another disaster." --Tony Blankley
"...Wednesday, Clarke ... testified before the 9/11 commission. Was his testimony helpful to those seriously attempting to craft an effective policy to defeat terrorism? Or was he selling books and giving a job interview? You ... make the call." --Clifford D. May
The BIG lie...
"In the march to war, the president exaggerated the threat. It was not nuanced. It was pure, unadulterated fear-mongering, based on a devious strategy to convince the American people that Saddam's ability to provide nuclear weapons to Al-Qa'ida justified immediate war. Why would the administration go to such lengths to go to war? Was it trying to change the subject from its failed economic policy, the corporate scandals, and its failed effort to capture Osama bin Laden? The only imminent threat was the November congressional election. The politics of the election trumped the stubborn facts. What happened was not merely a failure of intelligence, but the result of manipulation and distortion of intelligence and the selective use of unreliable intelligence to justify a decision to go to war. The administration had made up its mind and would not let stubborn facts stand in the way." --Teddy Kennedy (D-Lirious)
On the Warfront with Jihadistan...
While John Kerry and his band of malcontents continued to undermine U.S. resolve in the war against Jihadistan ("aiding and abetting the enemy," it's called), four American civilians and seven American military personnel were murdered by al-Qa'ida wannabes in the Sunni Triangle around Baghdad. "The insurgents in Fallujah are testing us," says USMC Captain Chris Logan. "They're testing our resolve. But it's not like we're going to leave."
Despite these attacks, there was additional evidence that the U.S. presence in Iraq is having the desired effect on Iran and Syria. Syria has asked U.S. ally Australia for help in repairing its relations with the U.S. Australia, you'll recall, helped "negotiate the peace" between the U.S. and Libya earlier this year. Seems that Syria's Baathists are running scared....
From the Department of military readiness...
All those Lefties suggesting the U.S. has a "hollow military" will be sad to learn this week that the five Army divisions that have units deployed in the Middle East for the past 12 months have met virtually every re-enlistment goal. Retention targets for enlisted soldiers -- the 416,000 privates, corporals and sergeants of the Army's 490,000 active force, are standing firm. The all-volunteer force remains strong despite the stress of frequent deployments and hazardous duty. "This tends to rebut armchair critics who said the sky is falling and the vultures are circling and the Army is gong to lose all its troops," said Lt. Col. Franklin Childress. "This is not true. The soldiers get it." Hooah!
Don't even think about ending your week without arming yourself with The Federalist's comprehensive, conservative digest of the week's most important news, policy and opinion.
Who Lost Osama?
From the April 12 / April 19, 2004 issue: Richard Clarke is far tougher on the Clinton failures than advertised.
by Daniel C. Twining
04/12/2004, Volume 009, Issue 30
Against All Enemies
Inside America's War on Terror
by Richard Clarke
Free Press, 304 pp., $27
"THIS IS THE STORY, from my perspective, of how al Qaeda developed and attacked the United States on September 11," Richard Clarke begins Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, his new book that has been widely ballyhooed as the bomb that will destroy President Bush's reelection campaign.
In fact, only in his preface and the book's final sixty-five pages does Clarke's partisanship boil over into the invective, vitriol, and spite that have transformed this career national-security hawk into the anti-Bush Democrats' American Idol. The rest of the book, Clarke's unwitting indictment of the Clinton administration's terrorism policy, ought to make the whole of the nation vote for four more years of Bush.
After a warm-up chapter that offers a readable account of the first twenty-four hours of the White House's response to the attacks, a nonpartisan chapter on how America transformed its strategic posture in the Middle East during the 1980s, and a sensible chapter on the first Gulf War, the subsequent one hundred and fifty pages of Against All Enemies chronicle the formation and rise of al Qaeda--and the American government's failure to prevent it from metastasizing into the existential threat it had become by the time Clinton left office.
Clarke explains al Qaeda's rise, from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing through subsequent foiled and successful terrorist attacks in Mogadishu in 1993, the Philippines in 1995, Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996, Africa in 1998, and Yemen in 2000, as well as the foiled Millennium Plot--all of which is required reading for those who want to understand what the government knew about al Qaeda on President Clinton's watch (a lot) and what it did about it (considerably less than it should have).
Although critical of the failure to retaliate against Iran for the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, Clarke credits President Reagan with transforming the United States' strategic posture in the Middle East. When Reagan took office, the Central Command, now arguably our most important command, was a backwater; the United States had no bases in the Persian Gulf; and events in Iran had left the United States vulnerable to the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and another wave of devastating oil shocks.
Clarke admiringly recalls how Reagan moved the United States closer to Israel, instituting joint exercises and extensive military-to-military cooperation. Reagan also built new military relationships with Egypt, Oman, and Bahrain, and established the headquarters of the Navy's Fifth Fleet in Bahrain to patrol the Persian Gulf. According to Clarke, Reagan "checkmated the Iranians by strengthening Saddam Hussein." Reagan's support of the Afghan opposition brought about the Soviet Union's withdrawal from Afghanistan, a significant strategic defeat. Reagan's policies not only transformed America's position in the wider Middle East but enabled the military response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
CLARKE'S REVIEW of the diplomacy preceding the first Gulf War is also interesting. Traveling with Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney to Riyadh, Clarke was at the pivotal meeting in which the king of Saudi Arabia agreed to the stationing of American forces in his country, even as his intelligence chief, Prince Turki, was secretly asking Osama bin Laden to assemble Afghan volunteers to defend the kingdom from Saddam's army. Clarke recalls the breathless pace at which American officials flew from one capital to another around the Gulf. He dissects the famous judgment to stop General Barry McCaffrey's forces from finishing off Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard as they retreated from Kuwait, and the flawed American decision "to stand by and let the Republican Guard mass murder the Shia and Kurds."
The failure of Bush's father to end Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq segued into the first test of the Clinton administration's determination to act against terrorism. Clarke helped plan the initial use of force in the Clinton administration, to retaliate against Iraq for its plot to assassinate George H.W. Bush in Kuwait. The strike was an early indicator of the schizophrenia that characterized Clinton's national security policy: a laudable willingness to use military force strangely matched with a fierce determination that it cause the least possible pain to our enemies. In Clarke's rendition, Secretary of State Warren Christopher "argued strongly on legal grounds that the list [of targets] be limited to one facility, the Iraqi intelligence headquarters. He also wanted it hit on Saturday night, to minimize casualties. Christopher won."
In addition to ending, purportedly, Iraqi terrorism against the United States by bombing Iraq's empty intelligence headquarters, Clarke also claims credit for ending Iranian terrorism against the United States after the Khobar Towers attack. Today's proponents of rapprochement with Tehran should pay close attention. Clarke has no doubt the Iranian government sponsored the Khobar bombing, which killed nineteen Americans: "The larger attack in Saudi Arabia at Khobar was conducted by Saudi Hezbollah under the close supervision of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Qods Force," he writes. At the time, the CIA judged that "further Iranian-sponsored terrorism against the United States was likely."
This should have been grounds for war, and we learn in Against All Enemies the White House considered it, examining options including a full-scale invasion, attacking Iranian-sponsored terrorist camps in Lebanon, persuading our allies to impose a multilateral economic boycott, and conducting an unspecified "intelligence operation."
Inevitably, the Clinton administration chose the lesser option of a covert operation against Iran, underscoring another theme of the Clinton years: hawkish instincts ("Clinton told us that if it came to using force against Iran, 'I don't want any piss-ant half measures'") that invariably devolved into a policy that did not accomplish the objective but gave the illusion of having acted decisively.
Clarke unwittingly highlights the Clinton administration's lack of credibility by linking Saudi Arabia's failure to cooperate on the Khobar Towers investigation to Saudi skepticism about Clinton's backbone: "Some in the Saudi royal family . . . reportedly welcomed the possibility of a U.S. war with Iran, if America could remove the Tehran regime. [Saudi Ambassador Prince] Bandar . . . suggested that all that was stopping the Saudis from implicating Iran was the fear that American retaliation would be halfhearted. If the U.S. could promise a full-scale fight to the finish, then the kingdom would probably tell all that it knew about the Iranian role in the Khobar attack."
Of course, Clinton did not take such measures, and Saudi Arabia never told us what it knew about the Khobar bombing. Clarke contradicts his own claim that the covert operation against Iran ended Iranian terrorism by acknowledging that "the Iranian security services continued to support escalating terrorism against Israel and allowed al Qaeda safe passage and other support"--including, I would add, after September 11, 2001.
BY FAR THE MOST FASCINATING PART of Against All Enemies, and the bulk of the book, chronicles the rise of al Qaeda as seen by the Clinton White House. As with Iraq and Iran, the best of intentions and initially sound instincts achieved brief tactical goals without defining a strategic course for victory. In sketching an image of an engaged president who, in his own words, believed that the United States was at war with al Qaeda, but who failed to weaken the organization, Clarke paints a portrait of Clinton in some ways more devastating than the caricature created by his political opponents.
The critique comes down to this fact: President Clinton, who commanded the world's most powerful military and presided over nearly a decade of peace between the world's great powers, knew al Qaeda was operating in fifty countries, running agents and sleeper cells inside the United States, seeking weapons of mass destruction, churning out terrorists from its Afghan training camps, attacking targets around the world, and planning major terrorist offensives against the United States.
Full awareness of al Qaeda was not some slow awakening that came only late in the Clinton presidency. Clarke explains that "because of the many known terrorism events of 1993, the Clinton team, from the president down, was seized with the issue by 1994." Presidential Decision Directive 39, the "United States Policy on Counterterrorism" issued in 1994, called for both offensive and defensive actions to "reduce terrorist capabilities" and minimize the nation's vulnerabilities. It stated that U.S. policy would have "no greater priority than preventing the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction" by terrorists.
By 1995, the Clinton administration had witnessed the World Trade Center bombing, for which it had "a lot of evidence" pointing to bin Laden's organization. It had discovered Ramzi Yousef's plots to assassinate President Clinton and Pope John Paul II. It had learned of Yousef's plot to blow up eleven American airliners over the Pacific. It had witnessed a terrorist assassination attempt against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. And it had seen the hand of al Qaeda at work in Bosnia, which Clarke calls "a guidebook to the bin Laden network, though we didn't recognize it as such at the time." According to Clarke, "There were signs in 1995 of [bin Laden's] money and support in Bosnia, Chechnya, the Philippines, Egypt, Morocco, and in Europe. Rumors connected him to attacks in New York, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen."
SO, ACCORDING TO CLARKE, "Clinton talked incessantly about what it would be like if terrorists used a weapon of mass destruction to attack a United States city." Between late 1995 and April 1996, Clinton gave a series of speeches about the terrorist threat. Equating the threat to that we faced in World War II and the Cold War, the president said, "Terrorism is the enemy of our generation, and we must prevail." In 1996, the work of a newly created bin Laden station at the CIA revealed a "widespread and active" al Qaeda organization with bin Laden as its "mastermind." In 1996, Clarke's Counterterrorism Security Group was already developing plans for a covert operation to snatch bin Laden from Afghanistan.
This is where things stood at the end of Bill Clinton's first term as president. Clarke succeeds in demonstrating that, by 1996, the administration was deeply aware of the threat al Qaeda posed, and that Clinton himself was "seized with" the issue. The administration was putting in place a domestic program to respond rapidly in the event of a terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction. The administration had conducted covert operations against suspected terrorists and was discussing an operation to snatch Osama bin Laden himself. In short, Clarke successfully makes the case that the administration was fully engaged and ready to take the offensive against al Qaeda--by the end of Clinton's first term.
So what happened? It is true that the bureaucracy failed Clinton in some ways, but the more complete answer is that the president was unable to impose his will on a reluctant government, including his senior cabinet officials responsible for national security affairs. Unlike their successors in the Bush administration, they were not willing to risk other American interests, and public and world opinion, for the sake of defeating al Qaeda--and unlike President Bush, President Clinton was unwilling to force the issue. In November 2001, after he left office, Clinton said, "I tried to take bin Laden out . . . the last four years I was in office." He must be judged by the fact that he failed.
CLARKE BLAMES in particular the CIA's professed doubts about their authorization to use lethal force against the terrorists. In Clarke's words, "I still to this day do not understand why it was impossible for the United States to find a competent group of Afghans, Americans, third-country nationals, or some combination who could locate bin Laden in Afghanistan and kill him. . . . The president's intent was very clear: kill bin Laden. I believe that those in the CIA who claim the authorizations were insufficient or unclear are throwing up that claim as an excuse to cover the fact that they were pathetically unable to accomplish the mission."
Yet the president and his national security cabinet made accomplishing the mission difficult. As Clarke explains, "In three meetings during 1998 and 1999, the [Counterterrorism Security Group] requested emergency meetings of the principals to recommend to the president a cruise missile strike on the facility in which bin Laden was believed to be at the time." The missiles were never fired. CIA Director George Tenet later confirmed that bin Laden was present at the suspected site on one of those occasions; yet each time fear of collateral damage or considerations of subsidiary American interests prevented the administration from pulling the trigger.
Again and again, Clarke proposed attacking bin Laden's training camps, whether or not the terrorist mastermind was confirmed to be there, telling his colleagues, "We have to stop this conveyor belt, this production line. Blow them up every once in a while and recruits won't want to go there." But the principals objected--for reasons as diverse as wasting million-dollar missiles, undermining U.S. credibility with Pakistan, burdening a stretched military, and reinforcing a perception abroad of the United States as a "Mad Bomber." The administration ruled out an assault on bin Laden's farm in Afghanistan, for fear the CIA's Afghan assets could be killed in the attempt.
CLARKE WANTS TO GIVE the Clinton administration credit for trying. It did recognize the threat, he insists; it did engage in serious strategic planning to counter it; the threat did consume the president and his senior staff. "Listen," Clarke quotes Clinton as telling his national security staff after the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa, "retaliating for these attacks is all well and good, but we gotta get rid of these guys once and for all. You understand what I'm telling you?"
And yet, somehow, little came of all this. The Clinton administration failed to coerce the weak and failing states of Sudan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to capture bin Laden. Without elaborating, Clarke calls reports that Sudan was prepared to hand bin Laden over to the United States for the right price "a fable" invented by "Americans friendly to the Sudan regime." He also tells us that it was impracticable to seize bin Laden in Sudan, where the administration knew his whereabouts. National Security Advisor Tony Lake ruled out a proposed Special Forces operation against al Qaeda facilities in Sudan on the grounds that, in Lake's words, "This is going to war with Sudan." According to Clarke, the CIA "had no capability to stage significant operations against al Qaeda in Sudan." On Clarke's watch as counterterrorism czar, the United States apparently never acquired that capability.
Later, Clarke tells us that the State Department was "hard at work trying to put pressure on the Taliban" to close terrorist camps and hand over bin Laden. "Unfortunately, we had little leverage with the Taliban." The mullahs wouldn't cooperate, and the Clinton administration threatened them with nothing more than negotiations. On Pakistan, Clarke observes, "I believed that if Pakistan's [Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate] wanted to capture bin Laden or tell us where he was, they could have done so with little effort." Did the United States, under Clinton's leadership, have so little leverage over other nations on an issue it had identified as a top national priority? President Bush demonstrated otherwise--in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.
Clinton was committed to defeating terrorism, Clarke insists. But his administration could not or would not deliver. "Whether it was catching war criminals in Yugoslavia or terrorists in Africa and the Middle East, it was the same story," Clarke adds. "The White House wanted action. The senior military did not and made it almost impossible for the president to overcome their objections." An attempt to catch September 11-mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Qatar in 1997 failed because the administration felt obliged to inform officials in Doha, one of whom promptly warned Mohammed to flee. An attack on an al Qaeda meeting at which bin Laden was present failed when, as Clarke himself had predicted, Navy destroyers positioning to fire their cruise missiles were detected by Pakistan, which may have warned bin Laden to clear the area before the strike.
CLARKE BLAMES most of this on the failure of the CIA, FBI, and the Pentagon to cooperate with the Clinton administration. Clinton "identified terrorism as the major post-Cold War threat," but "could not get the CIA, Pentagon, and FBI to act sufficiently to deal with this threat."
Is he right? During his long years as the nation's counterterrorism czar, working for both Clinton and Bush, Clarke never put in place a workable system to screen airline passenger manifests--yet was shocked to learn, on September 11, that known terrorists had freely boarded American airlines. After al Qaeda attacked the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, killing seventeen American sailors, Clarke proposed the United States bomb every al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. "There was no support for bombing [within Clinton's national security cabinet]. . . . The principals had decided to do nothing, to wait for proof of who committed the attack." Clarke quotes his colleague, Mike Sheehan, as asking, "What's it gonna take, Dick? Who the sh--t do they think attacked the Cole, f--in' Martians? The Pentagon brass won't even let the Air Force carpet-bomb the place. Does al Qaeda have to attack the Pentagon to get their attention?"
THE ANSWER would appear to be yes. Clarke reports actually seeing Osama bin Laden in Afghan training camps on three occasions in real time as he watched live video from a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle hovering over the sites. Each time, U.S. military assets were not in a position to fire on bin Laden, and the Predator was not armed with missiles to conduct an offensive strike, as it would be during the Bush administration.
Clarke later criticizes the Bush administration for failing to push aggressively for deployment of Predator drones armed with Hellfire missiles before September 11. Yet he also quotes a report that the head of the CIA's directorate of operations opposed use of the armed Predator against bin Laden on the grounds that it would "endanger the lives of CIA operatives around the world." And in a White House meeting one week before September 11, Clarke cites a source quoting CIA director Tenet as saying, "It would be a terrible mistake for the [Deputy of Central Intelligence] to fire a weapon like this."
So who is at fault? In 1998, al Qaeda issued a statement declaring war on the United States Clarke writes, "It did not come as a shock to us. We had considered ourselves at war with al Qaeda even before we knew its name or its reach."
Yet despite the continuing string of attacks, and intelligence warning of more to come, Clarke doesn't blame Clinton. Says Clarke,
Because of the intensity of the political opposition that Clinton engendered, he had been heavily criticized for bombing al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, for engaging in 'Wag the Dog' tactics. . . . For similar reasons, he could not fire the recalcitrant FBI director who had failed to fix the bureau or uncover terrorists in the United States. He had given the CIA unprecedented authority to go after Osama bin Laden personally and al Qaeda, but had not taken steps when they did little or nothing. Because Clinton was criticized as a Vietnam War opponent without a military record, he was limited in his ability to direct the military to engage in anti-terrorist commando operations they did not want to conduct. . . . In the absence of a bigger provocation from al Qaeda to silence his critics, Clinton thought he could do no more.
Clarke lost his access to the president when the Bush administration came to power. His principal complaint is that the Bush team's focus on Iraq after September 11 diverted America from the war against al Qaeda. Yet it was Clarke who, by his own admission, authored the founding document of Clinton counterterrorism policy in 1994 underlining the threat of terrorists' acquiring weapons of mass destruction and stating that the United States had "no greater priority" than preventing it--an argument the Bush administration employed in its decision to go to war against Iraq nearly a decade later, at a time when terrorists had demonstrated their ability to attack the United States and were actively seeking weapons of mass destruction, which Iraq had a demonstrated record of producing and using.
GIVEN WHAT EVERY SERIOUS intelligence service in the West believed it knew about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction capabilities, the Bush administration's decision to go to war was a prudent response to what, by Clarke's own standard, constituted a credible threat to the United States in an age of catastrophic terrorism.
Clarke's argument that the Bush administration did not accord the terrorist threat sufficient priority before September 11 is not wholly fair. The Clinton administration had eight years to deal with the threat; the Bush administration eight months. It is by this gap that the Bush administration's early counterterrorism policy must be judged.
The challenges facing any new administration--appointing and confirming senior staff, conducting broad-ranging policy reviews, and generally getting its sea legs--as well as the Bush administration's determination to set a course in foreign policy radically different from that of its predecessor, may have hindered a clear assessment of the threat al Qaeda posed to the United States. During their first months in office, officials who had been out of office for eight years may not have had the same sense of urgency about terrorism as Clarke, who had spent every day of those same eight years watching the terrorist threat spread. Unquestionably, the Bush administration, once it fully grasped the threat, acted decisively to end it. The Clinton administration did not.
Clarke himself points out that a memo he prepared for the incoming Bush administration listed key antiterrorist initiatives that the Clinton administration had not agreed to take. "The [Clinton] principals had asked me to update the pol-mil plan for the transition, flagging the issues where there was not a consensus, where decisions had not been agreed." By Clarke's own admission, the Clinton administration had not done these things. Had they, the Bush administration may have found themselves confronting a significantly reduced terrorist threat. As it happens, Republican officials were putting in place these very policies when the terrorists struck on September 11.
In the final chapter of Against All Enemies, Clarke suggests that Clinton, were he still in office after September 11, would have tried to "understand" the phenomenon of terrorism; tried to build a "world consensus" to address its root causes; tried "one more time" to forge an Israeli-Palestinian settlement; gone to Saudi Arabia to "address the Muslim people" in "a moving appeal for religious tolerance"; promoted peace between India and Pakistan; and worked to stabilize Pakistan. Hearing Clarke's wish list for American policy at a time when hardened terrorists are killing innocents from Madrid to Bali makes one glad that Clarke has given up his day job.
CLARKE'S DECISION to write what he means to be an indictment of the Bush administration's counterterrorism policy, at a time when the president he served is still in office--and, particularly, to record the president's conversations with him on sensitive matters of national security--is unprecedented. By his act, Clarke has made it difficult, if not impossible, for future presidents to retain senior national security staff members from previous administrations. In Against All Enemies, Clarke laments that political appointees often move aside career national security officials who possess valuable institutional knowledge on national security matters. Clarke's decision to release his memoirs in an election year, and to do so in a way that violates confidentiality and transparently benefits the political opponent of the last president he served, makes it more likely that future administrations will not retain people like Dick Clarke.
The tragedy of recent American politics is not that President Bush acted to end the threat of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction from rogue states like Iraq, at the cost of angering allies and subordinating secondary American interests. The tragedy is that President Clinton, knowing al Qaeda was at war with us and understanding both its global reach and its plans to kill Americans, did not act in a similarly bold manner.
Against All Enemies is too serious to be called a farce, for it highlights the tragedy of American foreign policy in this age of terrorism. Clarke's deep anger with the current administration notwithstanding, he has performed a service by reminding America of how the Clinton administration failed to protect us from the terrorist threat.
Daniel C. Twining, a former adviser to Senator John McCain, is director of foreign policy, United States, at the German Marshall Fund. The views expressed here are his own.
? Copyright 2004, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.
>> FOGGY BOTTOM BLUES...1
Crunch Time in Baghdad
Bush must prove he's determined to win.
Tuesday, April 6, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT
The next few days in Iraq may be the most critical since President Bush ordered the invasion a year ago. Millions of Iraqis, and millions of Americans, are waiting to see if the U.S. is still fighting in Iraq to win.
Marines were digging in around Fallujah yesterday, in anticipation of a military response to last week's mutilation of four U.S. civilians in that part of the Sunni Triangle. Meanwhile, the coalition announced that an Iraqi judge had issued a murder arrest warrant for the Shiite Muslim cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, who ordered the riots on Sunday that resulted in the deaths of eight Americans and a Salvadoran. If Mr. Bush fails to show that there is a price to pay for killing Americans, he might as well bring everyone home today.
Americans will support their President in war--far more than liberal elites appreciate. But they won't support a President who isn't fighting with enough force and the right strategy to prevail. Unlike Mr. Bush's determination to topple Saddam Hussein, the transition back to Iraqi rule has been marked in recent months by drift and indecision. Especially in the runup to the transfer of power on June 30, the worst Iraqis are rushing in to exploit this uncertainty.
What's needed now is a reassertion of U.S. resolve, notably on security but also on the transition to Iraqi sovereignty, and even if it means no drawdown of American forces any time soon. The coalition had hoped to turn over more of this task to Iraqis, and this remains both desirable and inevitable. But they clearly aren't yet up to that task in the face of well-armed insurgents or private militias.
Partly this is America's fault for not arming Iraqis on our side with enough firepower soon enough. The State Department (rather than the Pentagon) is responsible for disbursing the small arms that are now available, while Congress's desire to micromanage Defense procurement has delayed contracts from being let for more and better equipment. If Senate soundbite kibbitzers Richard Lugar and Joe Biden want to be constructive, this is a problem they could work on. In the meantime, U.S. forces will have to re-enter such cities and towns as Fallujah and work with Iraqis friendly to the coalition to restore order and kill or arrest those who target Americans.
This has to include Mr. Sadr. The young cleric has been stirring trouble for months, but with Sunday's riots he has crossed a line that makes him an urgent threat to the coalition and any new Iraqi government. Yesterday's judicial warrant implicates him in the mob slaying of another Shiite leader, the moderate Abdel-Majid al-Khoei, shortly after he had returned to Najaf from exile in London in April 2003.
Unlike Grand Ayatollah Sistani, Mr. Sadr never mentions the word "democracy" in his fatwas and talks openly of creating an Iranian-style Islamic Republic in Iraq. Mr. Sadr has visited Tehran since the fall of Saddam, and his Mahdi militia is almost certainly financed and trained by Iranians. Revolutionary Guards may be instigating some of the current unrest. As recently as last Friday, Mr. Sadr declared that "I am the beating arm for Hezbollah and Hamas here in Iraq." Hezbollah has been financed by Iran for years.
Having let Mr. Sadr's militia grow, the coalition now has no choice but to break it up. It should also warn the Dawa Islamic political party that its dealings with Iran won't be tolerated. As for Tehran, we would hope the Sadr uprising puts to rest the illusion that the mullahs can be appeased. As Bernard Lewis teaches, Middle Eastern leaders interpret American restraint as weakness. Iran's mullahs fear a Muslim democracy in Iraq because it is a direct threat to their own rule. If warnings to Tehran from Washington don't impress them, perhaps some cruise missiles aimed at the Bushehr nuclear site will concentrate their minds.
Proof of U.S. resolve is especially important as the transfer of sovereignty on June 30 nears. Millions of Iraqis are grateful for their liberation from Saddam and are willing to help us finish the job. But too many Iraqis already suspect that June 30 has more to do with our elections than with theirs. If they now see the U.S. failing to respond forcefully to the past week's unrest, they will conclude that the Americans are preparing to leave. Then the mayhem and jockeying for power will only get worse.
Yesterday, Mr. Bush reiterated his support for the June 30 transfer. But the timing is less important than the fact that the U.S. still has no plan for what will happen on that date. The current non-plan is for U.S. regent L. Paul Bremer to toss the ball to U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and hope he can figure it out.
With elections put off for some months anyway, the default transfer plan will probably involve retaining the Iraqi Governing Council in some form. The coalition is better off doing this on its own and leaving the U.N. out of it. It isn't as if Kofi Annan is offering any troops, and Mr. Brahimi--a Sunni Arab nationalist close to nations that coddled Saddam--makes Shiites nervous. This latest Bush Administration dance with the U.N. is just one more signal to many Iraqis that the U.S. is eager to get out.
While we're at it, Mr. Bush can send an important signal with his choice of who should succeed Mr. Bremer as U.S. ambassador to Iraq. The worst choice would be a career diplomat. We'd recommend Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy Defense secretary, who has his own reputational stake in Iraq's success and would be seen by Iraqis as someone committed for the long haul. He also wouldn't need on-the-job training. Rudy Giuliani would also be a serious choice.
We trust that Mr. Bush knows that his reaction to Fallujah and Mr. Sadr matters far more to his re-election prospects than does Richard Clarke's book tour. Americans realize that the current 20-20 Beltway hindsight over 9/11 is mostly political. But they also know that Iraq was Mr. Bush's undertaking, and they will hold him responsible for any failure of will.
>> CREATURE OF FOGGY BOTTOM BLUES...2
The Essential Bremer
From the April 12 / April 19, 2004 issue: What the American administrator in Iraq has accomplished.
by Fred Barnes
04/12/2004, Volume 009, Issue 30
IN THE BEGINNING, no American funds were to be used for the reconstruction of Iraq. It would be paid for, gradually, out of Iraqi oil revenues. Two months after Saddam Hussein was toppled, the American administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, concluded the oil plan wouldn't work. He asked for $5 billion to $7 billion to rebuild Iraq's crumbling and looted infrastructure. The White House was shocked and said this was too much. Take another look at what's needed, Bremer was told. He did and came back with a request for $22 billion. Bremer had a strong ally on his side, President Bush. So the White House swallowed hard and cut the request to $20 billion. Congress trimmed it to $18.4 billion. The reconstruction money begins flowing into Iraq this spring, with the promise of one million to two million new jobs for Iraqis and a jump-started economy.
That episode demonstrates Bremer's clout. More than anyone in Washington, including Bush or Pentagon officials, he shapes policy in Iraq. And it is an ambitious policy--the creation, in Bremer's phrase, of a "new Iraq." The president's confidence seems to have emboldened Bremer. Ask about Bush and Bremer and every White House aide gives the same answer: "The president likes Bremer." On reconstruction funding, Bremer insisted that none of it be a loan saddling a democratic Iraqi government with more debt. The White House was persuaded, fought against a loan, and won. Bremer, 62, usually gets what he wants from Washington.
But there are limits to getting what he wants from Iraqis. A year after Saddam was ousted, Bremer follows a simple game plan: strategic clarity, tactical flexibility. The prize in this game is a free and democratic Iraq at peace at home and with its neighbors. Exactly how Iraq arrives there is less important than getting there in a timely fashion without jeopardizing the goal itself. Bremer has retreated when necessary. He backed down from demanding Iraqis draft a permanent constitution before the Coalition Provisional Authority, which he heads, hands over sovereignty. But he refused pleas to keep the Iraqi army intact and use it as a police and security force. Despite terrorist attacks, Bremer has no regrets about that decision.
One measure of Bremer's extraordinary success is that his selection has numerous fathers. State Department officials claim he was their pick. In truth, Bremer's name was suggested to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld by his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz. Rumsfeld sold it to Bush, who didn't know Bremer, and to others in the administration. Bremer was a well-known terrorism expert who'd worked for Henry Kissinger both in government and as a director of Kissinger Associates. What wasn't known was Bremer's political skill. He has the ideal qualities. He's relentlessly cheerful and upbeat, but serious and tough at the same time.
The best way to judge Bremer is to look at his most significant decisions. Here are a half-dozen of them:
* DE-BAATHIFICATION. This was a no-brainer. Barred from serving in the new government was anyone in the top three layers of the Baath party or the top four layers of a ministry in Saddam's regime, roughly 1.5 million Iraqis. In Iraq, this has been Bremer's most popular decision. The Baathists were Stalinists responsible for the disappearance of well over one million of their fellow Iraqis. Now Iraq has "an Adenauer problem." In postwar Germany, Konrad Adenauer quickly emerged as a national leader. No strong leader has stepped forward in Iraq. Exiles like Ahmad Chalabi have no political base. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq had no king or Hamid Karzai to tap for leadership. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the Shia leader, has political influence but doesn't want direct political power.
* DISBANDING SADDAM'S ARMY. This was Bremer's most controversial decision. Despite an $80 to $120 monthly stipend depending on their rank, some former soldiers joined what the press euphemistically calls the "insurgency" against the United States. But Bremer was right to dismiss them. For one thing, the army had spontaneously dispersed in the face of the American invasion. To reconstitute it, the officers, many of them Sunnis aligned with Saddam, would have had to be called back. Besides, this was the army that had brutally oppressed the majority Shia and the minority Kurds, who would have rebelled against its return. Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani told Bremer disbanding the army was as important as the capture of Saddam. Indeed it was.
* THE NOVEMBER 15 AGREEMENT. This is the best example of Bremer's tactical flexibility. He dropped his plan for provincial caucuses to elect an interim government that would write a permanent constitution, to be followed by the turnover of sovereignty and a democratic election. Bremer yielded to political reality. Both Sistani and the appointed Iraqi Governing Council wanted sovereignty sooner. Bremer traveled to Washington and met one-on-one with the president before approving a new plan with transfer of sovereignty on June 30. The election of a new government will be held sometime before next January 31. Iraqis may not be ready to rush to democracy. Certainly Falluja isn't. But Bremer and Bush believe delay could be worse.
* SAYING NO TO PRIVATIZATION. This may be Bremer's worst (though understandable) decision. The privatization of Iraq's oil industry was always off the table, if only for fear that Washington would be accused of going to war for oil. Bremer believes, however, that oil production could be doubled if the new Iraqi government seeks help from private companies. Also for political reasons, dollarizing the currency was rejected in favor of issuing a new currency without Saddam's picture on the bills. And to avoid worsening unemployment, the 200 or so nationalized enterprises with 500,000 employees haven't been cut loose. Nor have the massive subsidies for gasoline, food, and energy been eliminated. Bremer intends to trim the subsidies by June 30, when he leaves. But privatization has essentially been left to the government elected next year. So the prospects for full privatization are uncertain.
* THE INTERIM CONSTITUTION. This was a political breakthrough engineered by Bremer. He stood firm on minority rights and no Islamic law while overseeing the drafting of the constitution. When Sistani complained and five of the 25 members of the Iraqi Governing Council balked, Bremer left it to the council to reach agreement. They finally did. Sistani, by the way, doesn't meet with Bremer or other coalition officials. But Bremer has effectively communicated with him since last May through intermediaries. On the constitution, it was Sistani who backed down.
* THE UNITED NATIONS. Bush and Bremer favor a U.N. role in Iraq for the specific purposes of organizing the election and giving the new government legitimacy. But Sistani and other Shia opposed a U.N. role after U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi concluded a few months ago that a quickie election was impossible. Bremer wanted Brahimi to return and help establish an election process. Security Council approval would bestow legitimacy. Robert Blackwill, a senior National Security Council official at the White House, was dispatched to backstop Bremer, but it was Bremer who persuaded the governing council and Sistani to go along. His cleverest argument was that Iraq would need the U.N. later. Barring it now would put U.N. aid to independent Iraq at risk.
No American official of recent vintage has taken on a task on the scale of Bremer's. It amounts to the creation not just of a government and an economy but of a country. Douglas MacArthur had seven years to achieve in Japan what Bremer is trying to do in less than 15 months. Rich Galen, an American press officer in Baghdad, calls it "MacArthur on steroids." Bremer has won the support of many but not all Iraqis. When an Iraqi journalist told him he was loved by Iraqis, Bremer responded, "Except for those who want to kill me." He's regarded by security officials as more threatened by assassins than even Bush. That hasn't impeded him or the impressive staff of volunteers who've joined him in Iraq. They are rushing to put in place before they leave on June 30 as many elements of a democracy--a securities and exchange commission, a stock market, a public broadcasting system--as they can. Then the future of Iraq will be left to Iraqis. For all the obstacles, I think democracy will prevail. If it does, Bremer will rightly be deemed the father of free Iraq.
Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.
? Copyright 2004, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.
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