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Wednesday, 7 April 2004

In the Red
Draining the Sunni Triangle swamp.

It is less than 90 days before we are scheduled to turn Iraq over to an interim government, and neither is the nation ready for the government, nor is the government ready for the nation. We're finally taking action -- after months of diplo-dithering -- to drain the Sunni Triangle swamp. As Monday dawned, American Marines, accompanied by about two battalions of Iraqi security forces, cordoned off the city of Fallujah to hunt for the soulless barbarians who ambushed, killed, and mutilated four American civilians last week. They are accompanied by units with loudspeakers who are driving through Fallujah telling the Iraqis to abide by the new curfew, and not to worry: the Coalition is in town to capture or kill the terrorists. An arrest warrant (issued months ago) for 30-year old radical Shiite mullah Moqtadar Sadr is now being enforced as a result of Sadr ordering his Iranian-funded militia to attack Coalition forces.
For many months, Ambassador Paul Bremer has been far too soft and indecisive in dealing with those inciting violence. He brought in Gen. John Abizaid -- our highest-ranking officer of Arab descent -- to speak with Ali al-Sistani and the other principal religious leaders and obtain their cooperation in pacifying Iraq. They made comforting noises but ignored Abizaid's admonitions. As one Iraqi source e-mailed me Monday, "Look what is happening now to Al Sadr and his radical followers. Why [was] Al Sadr was not arrested from day one? He killed Abdul Majid Al-Khoie [a leading Shiite cleric who favored peace] in Najaf, established his own courts, intimidated even Al Sistani, and [yet was] left alone.... As if, if you leave bad guys alone they will leave you alone."
Our policy toward the radical mullahs has to be consistent and firm. Those who plan and organize terrorism, like Sadr, must be arrested and imprisoned. The only real difference between Sadr and Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani -- the most prominent Shia cleric -- is that al-Sistani hasn't openly called for violence. If he crosses that line, he should have a cell next to Sadr's. Because you call yourself a cleric doesn't give you immunity from capture and punishment if you're organizing violence. Just as the Israelis were right in killing Yassin, the "spiritual leader" of Hamas, we have not only the right but the obligation to arrest and silence those Iraqi "spiritual leaders" who are organizing and inciting murder.
The Sunni Triangle is a war zone. You need only to look at the pictures of the Fallujah incident to see the proof. If you want to see the inhumanity of the enemy -- and I don't recommend it -- you can see the atrocity, and the faces of some of the barbarians who perpetrated it at It's as bad as anything I've ever seen, including the pictures of American soldiers murdered by Iraqi troops during last year's campaign.
Because we haven't destroyed the terrorist networks in the Sunni Triangle and elsewhere, it is almost impossible to see how we can turn Iraqi sovereignty over on the schedule we so foolishly announced. The president unwisely reaffirmed his commitment to the June 30 date Monday. Of the many lessons Vietnam taught us -- or should have -- one of the most important is that if you establish a schedule, it's not just yours: It's the enemy's as well. It's no accident that the violence is escalating as our "deadline" approaches. The enemy is preparing the battlefield for their fight against any democratic Iraqi government. We must also prepare the battlefield to ensure that when a new government is ready, it can function with authority and credibility.
The occupation force has been drawn down to less than 150,000. We may need to add more troops temporarily, but the issue is not how many troops we have there, but what we're ordering them to do. If we had started cleaning out the Sunni Triangle six months ago -- and used the forces we have there effectively -- the area would be far quieter today. And we have not done nearly enough to end the outside interference from Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis and the Syrian Baathists keep the Sunni Triangle ablaze while the Iranians are sending everything from money to silk Persian rugs to pay mullahs like Sadr to stir up violence. There will be no real peace in Iraq until we force these nations to end their interference.
The Fallujah incident illustrates all too vividly the difference between what we have been doing and what we should have been doing. I've gotten an earful about Fallujah from the spec-ops community. The problem, they say, is not only with the mullahs and terrorists there. It is also with some of the "PMCs" -- private military companies -- we have hired to support the Coalition.
Under contract with the CIA, these men are tasked with protecting dignitaries, making sure that Coalition installations are safe from terrorist attacks, and performing any other mission the "customer" imposes. Most of these men are former Navy SEALs, Army special forces, Marine Recon, or Air Force PJs. When they join the civilian companies, they have the skills they need to seize ships, rescue hostages, and the other things the spec-ops guys do so well. But, as one of the former operators who worked for a PMC in Afghanistan told me, their skill sets and trained mental attitude aren't what's needed on the streets of Iraq.
One man I spoke to was sent to Afghanistan with hardly any training. The PCM planned a patently inadequate three days of preparation to test basic skills and make an operator ready for the Afghan streets. There was apparently no training in small-unit tactics designed to create cohesion among the operators. This operator told me that the pressure to get men in the field overcame the contractor's already too-low training standards, and people were sent out long before they were ready.
It's almost certain that we'll never know just what the four men killed last week were doing driving around Fallujah. It's just as certain that some or all of them would have been killed even if their training had been different. But their training and alertness should have enabled them to avoid the ambush in the first place. Apparently, they were neither "switched on" nor "in the red," meaning that they weren't acting like they were in a war zone, at the highest state of alert in every waking moment. They hadn't been trained in avoiding ambushes like the Fallujah attack, or in the escape-and-evasion tactics necessary to any chance of escaping it.
One of the other puzzles is why the $18 billion in reconstruction money appropriated last fall still isn't being spent. The reason: The political gurus don't want another "Halliburton" campaign issue, and are trying to award the contracts as they would in peacetime, and it's taking far too long. Thousands of Iraqis who could be employed building their nation now are unemployed. They have nothing better to do than sit around and listen to the mullahs preaching violence against Americans. Bremer's contracting shop is too politically sensitive to get this under way, and someone needs to light a fire under them right now. (There are other problems in that shop. One source investigating the U.N. oil-for-food scam told me that while Bremer and his immediate staff appear perfectly honest, there is corruption in contract award and administration.)
In the next 90 days, the anti-Coalition violence in Iraq will continue to escalate, aimed at preventing the new government from establishing itself. Regardless of the progress made in building Iraqi security forces, it's obvious that the Iraqis aren't going to be able to defeat the terrorists or end the mullahs' incitement any time soon. Which means everyone from Bremer on down needs to be "in the red" and "switched on" from now on. And it also means that we have to delay turnover until several milestones are reached.
First, security has to be established in each of the major population centers. Without it, nothing else can succeed. Second, the Iraqis need to have basic services, such as water and electricity, reliably available. Third, we have to push the construction contracts through, and get as many Iraqis as possible working to build their nation, taking the audience away from the radical clerics. Fourth, the Iraqis have to establish their constitution and courts and begin trying criminals such as Saddam.
Functioning courts, reliable basic services, and ongoing construction of Iraq's infrastructure would be important evidence that the government is real and working. It is only after the Iraqis can manage to meet these goals that the turnover of sovereignty can occur. If we force it before those goals are met, Iraq may end up like Vietnam.

-- Jed Babbin, an NRO contributor, is author of the forthcoming book, Inside the Asylum: Why the U.N. and Old Europe are Worse than You Think.
Sadr Signs
The sky is not falling.
By Michael Rubin
Eight American troops died in Baghdad, as fighting erupted between Coalition troops and followers of Muqtada al-Sadr. Hearing the news, Senator Edward Kennedy (D., Mass.) declared Iraq to be "George Bush's Vietnam." Evening-news anchors question whether this weekend's violence marked the start of a Shii revolt. Quite the contrary.
Far from rebelling, the majority of Shia are breathing sighs of relief. Iraqis consider action to rein in Muqtada al-Sadr long overdue. An Iraqi judge issued a warrant for Muqtada's arrest last summer, charging him with instigating the April 10, 2003, murder of respected cleric Majid al-Khoie, hacked to death in Najaf's holiest shrine. American hand wringing and delay has allowed Muqtada al-Sadr's operation to metasticize into a more lethal network.
In Najaf, Baghdad, and Basra, followers of the 30-year-old firebrand cleric have terrorized the local population. Since liberation, Iraqis have had the freedom to watch satellite television stations, except in Najaf, where Muqtada al-Sadr's militia members invade homes and smash satellite dishes in a scene more reminiscent of the Taliban's Afghanistan than of Iraq. In Baghdad and Basra, Muqtada's vigilantes beat and harass women. Doctors, lawyers, tribal leaders, and shopkeepers repeatedly ask visiting Americans why the Coalition has failed to rein in Muqtada al-Sadr.
Muqtada al-Sadr does not represent Iraq's Shia community. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the leading Shii religious figure in Iraq, will have nothing to do with him, nor will the myriad of lesser ayatollahs or the large, secular Shia community. Even in Sadr City, a large Shia slum on the outskirts of Baghdad (named not after Muqtada but rather the late Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr), Muqtada's support is weak. Since his power peaked shortly after Baghdad's liberation, Muqtada has steadily lost his Sadr City constituents to Ibrahim Jaafari of Dawa and Abdulaziz Hakim of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
Muqtada al-Sadr's real symbolism is not as the personification of Shia struggle, but rather in his challenge to rule of law. On March 8, Governing Council members representing Iraq's major political trends agreed to an interim constitution. Salma al-Khufaji, whom Governing Council colleagues identify as Muqtada al-Sadr's de facto proxy, signed off on the document. Most members I spoke with acknowledged the transitional law was a political compromise ideal to none, but fair to all. Some pundits may say that the Coalition Provisional Authority imposed the TAL on a rubberstamp Governing Council. Such a charge is not only false (negotiations and drafting occurred absent the presence of Coalition officials), but also racist in its assumption that Iraqis are not sophisticated enough to operate independently.
While President Bush hailed the signing of the Iraq's interim constitution "as a historic milestone in the Iraqi people's long journey from tyranny and violence to liberty and peace," Iraqis are cynical. The Baath party has long ignored legal and constitutional guarantees. Constitutions are not worth the paper upon which they are printed if they are not enforced. Shia in Najaf and Nasriyah as well as Kufa and Kut, watched as Muqtada al-Sadr's 3,000-member militia, the Jaysh al-Mahdi, kidnapped people off the street, tried them before ad hoc courts, and meted out medieval punishment. In recent days, Muqtada al-Sadr has increased the virulence of his rhetoric and threats. On April 2, Muqtada announced "solidarity" with Hezbollah and Hamas. "Let them consider me their striking hand in Iraq when the need arises," he declared in his sermon. On April 4, the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network reported Sadr's call to commence armed operations.
Most Iraqis recognize that Muqtada al-Sadr is not a true grassroots figure. He receives money through Ayatollah Kazim al-Husayni al-Haeri, an Iraqi cleric based in Iran who himself is a close confidant of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In a brazen power grab deemed illegitimate by Iraq's entire Shia hierarchy, on April 7, 2003, Haeri sent a handwritten note to the houzeh declaring Muqtada al-Sadr his representative in Najaf. "His position is our position," Haeri declared. Muqtada, not educated enough to write his own sermons, relies on supporters in Iran. He has made several trips to Qom to pick-up instructions and money. Much of his violence has been directed not against "occupation forces," but against tolerant, traditional clerics like al-Khoie, who in challenge to Khamenei, favored separation of mosque and state. While pundits and ivy-tower academics speak of Muqtada's appeal to the poor and downtrodden, they fail to question where he gets the money to charter hundreds of buses each weak to transport followers the two hours from Baghdad to Kufa, where they listen to his sermon and enjoy a free meal.
The sky is not falling. The decision to confront the Muqtada al-Sadr's challenge to rule-of-law and liberty will cause a short-term spike in violence, but lead to long-term improvement. Iraqis see any failure to defend rule-of-law as Coalition weakness. How could the United States be serious about democracy, Iraqis ask, when we left such a challenge to rule-of-law go unchallenged? Thankfully, Iraqis now know that we will meet challenges head-on. It is a lesson that should also be understood in Syria and Iran.

-- Michael Rubin, a former CPA political officer -- the only one who lived outside the American security bubble -- is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
US pushing arms, reforming export controls
By John Feffer
WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Colin Powell okayed the arms deal with a tap of a finger, unveiling the State Department's new D-Trade, a fast, paperless process for granting licenses to US military contractors for arms sales. After joking that State had only recently junked its last vintage Wang computer, Powell pushed one button to approve the sale of a pair of night-vision goggles to the United Kingdom. US government oversight of the arms trade had officially entered the virtual age.
The electronic licensing of D-Trade is only one of a range of pending reforms that would substantially recast and expedite the way the US government handles arms exports, from lowly and innocuous spare parts to the latest unmanned aerial vehicles. The implications for Asia are significant. The United States hopes to facilitate arms sales to such allies as Australia and South Korea, but also to expand new relationships with Pakistan and Indonesia. Taiwan was the world's largest arms importer in the late 1990s, and the US wants a bigger piece of this market. The Europeans, contemplating a lifting of the arms embargo against China, are eyeing an equally lucrative market.
The global arms market is fiercely competitive, and sellers are always looking for an edge. Although the US is the world's largest arms exporter, controlling nearly half of the international market of about US$30 billion a year, both the government and industry have been pushing for the better part of a decade to increase this market share. One way of boosting exports is to make it easier for sellers to get licenses. Every year, the US government processes more than 50,000 export licenses for military goods. Defense contractors frequently complain about bureaucratic delays, which they argue make the US less competitive against other high-ranking exporters such as Russia and France.
But what looks like a delay to one person is a justifiable concern about national security or proliferation to another. In streamlining the process of exporting arms and equipment, skeptics question whether the administration of President George W Bush is seizing market share at the expense of national security.
"Since the late 1990s, industry has been pushing the State Department to remove what they perceive are barriers to defense trade cooperation and US competitiveness in the international arms market," says Matt Schroeder, an arms-trade specialist with the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). "The problem is that many of these barriers help to prevent military technologies from ending up in the wrong hands."
Cutting red tape on innocuous items
Joel Johnson of the Aerospace Industries Association disagrees. He lists various components - steering wheels, air conditioners, hydraulic hoses - that have been only very slightly modified from their commercial versions to serve military functions and yet require separate licenses. "There's still an awful lot in the system that shouldn't be there," he says. "Just give me an 'officer of common sense' - I'd hold [these components] up to him and he'd said, 'Nah, we're not interested in that, that's not what we have in mind.'"
The push for arms-export reform originated in the administration of former president Bill Clinton. As part of its geo-economic philosophy, his administration urged the defense industry to become more competitive, enter new markets such as Eastern Europe and Latin America, and ink global co-production agreements for the latest high-tech bomber, the Joint Strike Fighter. The Bush administration enthusiastically embraced this policy. After September 11, 2001, the administration used the "war on terrorism" to boost military aid to countries such as the Philippines and India and to provide anti-terrorism funding for the first time to such countries as Tajikistan and Indonesia.
Last month, the administration designated Pakistan a "major non-NATO ally". Once a pariah state because of its nuclear program with potential military uses, Pakistan now has access to a wide range of US military goods, even though it remains under a cloud for selling advanced military technology to such countries as North Korea and Libya.
The Bush administration also wants systemic change in the arms export system. For instance, the administration hopes to expedite sales to the UK and Australia by granting them exemptions from the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The US provided an ITAR exemption to Canada but narrowed it in 1999 after the discovery of several cases of unauthorized re-export of US military goods.
The arms-control community is concerned that something similar will happen with the UK and Australia. Rachel Stohl of the Center for Defense Information cites a high-profile cases of arms-trade violations in the UK, including the 1998 Sandline scandal in which the British government broke a United Nations arms embargo by supplying weapons to Sierra Leone. She also worries that US weapons, such as small arms bound for Australia, will end up in places such as Indonesia and the Philippines, which are fighting insurgencies and separatist movements that some label as terrorist. "I lose more sleep over the United Kingdom than Australia," Stohl says, "but because of the geographic position of Australia, we have to be concerned there as well."
Export of C-130 transports might be expedited
Also up for its rolling quadrennial review is the US Munitions List (USML). One possible item to be removed, according to a source in the arms-control community, is the C-130 transport plane, which Pakistan has been offered through a foreign military financing grant and which China also would like to acquire. The China military market, which the United States has not supplied since the 1980s, is particularly controversial.
"Changes to the Munitions List thus far have been modest and demonstrate an acute awareness of the security threats posed by decontrol of US defense articles," says Schroeder, the FAS arms-trade specialist. "We hope that changes to the remaining USML categories will reflect similar thinking and priorities."
The European Union, meanwhile, is debating lifting the arms embargo on China imposed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. According to Ian Anthony, a researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, "The embargo was never intended to be a permanent policy, and there does not seem to be a large volume of trade with China in those items of defense equipment that are not subject to the current embargo. The statements from the European and Chinese sides are that they do not anticipate any sudden increase in arms sales - rather the removal of a political impediment to improved EU-China relations." A 1998 code of conduct restricts EU arms sales to China that could be used for waging war or suppressing internal dissent.
The US sees this policy debate very differently. A State Department official confirmed that lifting the EU ban "cannot help but have a very negative impact" on winning congressional approval for facilitating arms trade with allies such as the UK, "even if the European Union views this only as a symbolic step".
The Bush administration has further assailed the EU on this issue by pointing to continued Chinese violations of human rights. Rachel Stohl of the Center for Defense Information says the human-rights argument is a red herring. "We can't underestimate the power of competition behind these [US arms export] reforms," she points out. "Markets are very tight. The United States wants to make sure it has access to these new markets."
All-or-nothing controls make poor policy
Joel Johnson of the Aerospace Industries Association proposes a compromise on exports to China. "All-or-nothing controls are probably poor policy," he says. "We should be sitting down with our European brethren to talk about the high-end things we don't want exported to China."
The Bush administration was expected to push arms-trade reforms through more than a year ago. But a string of more critical events - September 11, the war in Afghanistan, and the invasion of Iraq - have delayed the unveiling of plans to overhaul defense-trade relations with allies. According to one State Department official, "We're hoping to have it rolled out soon. It has not yet gone to the president."
The delays involve not only war but politics. The administration "might have gotten tripped up on its own rhetoric of 'you're either with us or against us'," says William Hartung, arms-trade expert and author of the recent book How Much Are You Making on the War, Daddy? Isolationists within the Republican Party are not happy with the idea of facilitating arms transfers to allies that may not always support US policy. As Hartung summarizes this argument, "If you can't trust them, it doesn't make sense to sell them everything on an open basis."
Although D-Trade is now up and running, the other elements of the reforms may wait until after the US elections in November. The State Department is optimistic. But Hartung predicts that if the Bush administration were smart, "it would wait until after the elections - to avoid being accused of loosening restrictions on the merchants of death". Joel Johnson also expects further delays. "We'll have to wait until after the elections. Congress will be sidetracked, the executive branch will be sidetracked. In the next administration, whether Bush or [Democratic presidential contender John] Kerry, lots of people will change and you'll have another shot at finding someone who thinks export controls need to be changed."
John Feffer ( is the author, most recently, of North Korea, South Korea: US Policy at a Time of Crisis.
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)

EU turns to India's arms market
By Stephen Blank
Much diplomatic and journalistic ink has flowed recently concerning China's efforts to get the European Union to terminate its sanctions and resume arms sales to it. France and Germany, too, have each expressed the desire to persuade the European Commission, the EU's governing authority, to lift the sanctions. On the other hand, Washington weighed in strongly against this move, creating substantial pressure on the EU. Therefore it is not surprising that at its meeting on March 25-26, the commission said nothing publicly about the entire issue.
However, the EU has already decided conclusively to move in a big way into the Asian arms market, and not only with China, at least for now. Instead, its flagship arms company, the European Aeronautical Defense and Space Company (EADS) is pushing joint ventures with India, China's main continental rival in Asia.
The EU's motives are quite obvious. EADS executives predict that 20 percent of its arms sales will come from the Asia-Pacific by 2009, and 30 percent by 2015, and that does not necessarily include China or the Chinese defense market. Since current sales account for 7 percent of its revenues, this means a tripling and then quadrupling of current sales within a decade.
Moreover, India is increasingly viewed as a promising market for all kinds of high-tech ventures. Its economy is expected to grow nearly 10 percent this year, and Indians hope that this means the breakthrough to sustained long-term development, like China's trajectory in the past decade. But even if the Indian economy grows at about 6 percent annually, as it has over the past decade, this opens up substantial opportunities for foreign arms companies, especially as India has recently undertaken a vast modernization of its weapons systems, and is also trying to overhaul its dysfunctional defense industry.
Although EADS concluded an agreement in 2003 with China's state-owned AVIC II aircraft manufacturing group, the sanctions still in place inhibit military sales to China. No such barrier exists regarding India. And it is highly unlikely that Washington, which is itself expanding its defense sales to India, will object on the same grounds to EADS or the EU's presence in India, although the commercial rivalry between them may cause tensions. EADS' civilian center of gravity is the Airbus to deal with an expected increase of Asian passenger traffic, which will be considerably fueled by India and China. But its defense sales to India are equally, if not more interesting. The EU, like other sellers to India: Russia, Israel and the United States, will move away from "sub-contracting helicopters or selling missiles" to a more elaborate system. As reported by Aviation Week and Space Technology, this system entails long-term partnerships with both state and privately owned Indian defense firms.
This development is in line with India's program for reforming its indigenous defense industry through privatization and opening it up to foreign competition so that it will be forced to become more competitive and allow India to become a major weapons exporter in its own right.
Thus Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, (HAL), India's major defense company, will become a global supplier for EADS of parts, components and assemblies. In other words, EADS and HAL will become partners in designing, developing and producing specific versions of helicopters, and this relationship might then spread to other weapons plants. In this respect, the development of EU relations with India's defense industry will resemble the Indo-Russian agreement to design, develop and produce a fifth-generation fighter aircraft.
So this kind of relationship is now becoming a common one in international defense relationships. Similarly, other EU members' firms are now submitting proposals to India's Ministry of Defense to build engines and air-to-air, air defense and anti-tank missiles. Undoubtedly, such partnerships will spread to other weapons systems and create a network that goes beyond leasing and sub-contracting to encompass joint design, development, production and marketing for a whole range of weapons. This goes far beyond anything now possible with China.
And it certainly accords with the growing diversification of India's foreign weapons purchases, a process that has led to major contracts with France, Israel, Great Britain and Italy, not to mention the US and Russia. Indeed, Indian analysts suspect that India will further Westernize its purchases due to the high price and relatively low quality of Russian weapons, parts and servicing compared to European, Israeli, and American systems. While this does not mean suspension of purchases from Russia, it does raise disturbing trends for the Russian defense industry. Both official and expert commentaries have expressed growing resentment and concern over India's excessive dependence on Russian arms, high prices, poor quality and service, and the slow pace of negotiations with Russia. For example, the negotiations for the Gorshkov aircraft carrier lasted for 10 years, almost as long as it would take to build one, and India ultimately had to pay dearly for the retrofitting of the carrier's Mig-29 fighters, which are no longer state of the art.
If India turns away from Russia it will represent a major blow to Russia's struggling defense industry, which gets 40 percent of its foreign sales revenues from exports to India, its largest customer. It will become even harder for that industry to compete globally or to become a reliable supplier to Russia's armed forces, a condition which it has yet to achieve. In turn, this could seriously set back Russia's industrial, defense industrial and overall military modernization.
EU sales to China, if they do materialize, will similarly affect Russian defense manufacturers, who now sell about 30 percent of their annual exports to China. Though China now buys between US$2 billion and $2.5 billion annually from them, increasingly it is buying technology and know-how rather than new weapons. Certainly, China, too, would prefer, all things being equal, to buy high quality foreign systems that it could then indigenize as India is now trying to do. Its track record with Russian purchases suggests as much to foreign observers. Thus if the EU lifts sanctions, not only will that seriously affect its relations with Washington and US ties to major EU producers like France and Germany, that decision will also seriously hurt Russian interests.
Though the Russian angle has not been explored publicly in the diplomatic moves and countermoves now under way, one can rest assured that the Kremlin fully understands what is at stake. Its efforts to obtain or at least retain market share in these two countries will necessarily increase, making the international arms market even more of a buyers' market, where India and China can make demands of sellers that would hitherto have been unthinkable.
Moreover, if the Asian-Pacific market becomes so much more competitive, we can expect a renewed push by Russia elsewhere: Southeast Asia, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and South America in particular. But it is by no means clear that these areas can make up for what the Russian defense industry might lose if these projects go through and if sanctions are lifted. Nevertheless, the growth of Asian-Pacific economies clearly coincides with growth in their overall technological, and especially defense technological, and defense capabilities. And these growing capabilities may well come at the further expense of Russia's already fragile economic and strategic position in Asia.
Stephen Blank is an independent security affairs analyst residing in Harrisburg, PA.
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)


France 'sought secret UN deal' in bid to avert row
Blair told of US plans in 2001, says report
Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor
Monday April 5, 2004
The Guardian
The French government offered a surprise compromise to the US president, George Bush, in the run-up to the war in Iraq, according to a detailed investigation published in Vanity Fair this week.
The report undermines the public perception of France standing resolutely against the US and Britain in the United Nations security council as the two countries tried to win a second resolution in support of war.
According to a 25,000-word investigation into the diplomatic wranglings in that pre-war period, the French government was offering to cut a behind-the-scenes deal with the US government.
At a lunch in the White House on January 13 last year, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, an adviser to the president, Jacques Chirac, and Jean-David Levitte, the French ambassador in Washington, put the deal to Condoleezza Rice, the US national security adviser.
In an effort to avoid a bitter US-French row, the French officials suggested that if the US was intent on war, it should not seek the second resolution, according to highly placed US sources cited by Vanity Fair.
Instead, the two said that the first resolution on Iraq, 1441, passed the previous year, provided enough legal cover for war and that France would keep quiet if the US went to war on that basis.
The deal would suit the French by maintaining its "good cop" status in the Arab world and safeguarding Franco-US relations.
But the deal died when Tony Blair led a doomed attempt to secure a second resolution to try to satisfy Labour MPs and government lawyers who questioned the legitimacy of the war. France ultimately vetoed the resolution.
The investigation also claims that Mr Blair and Mr Bush discussed war against Iraq only nine days after the attack on New York on September 11 2001, even though Mr Blair was insisting up until just before the Iraq war began on March 20 last year that no decision had been taken.
Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British ambassador to Washington, is quoted in Vanity Fair as saying Mr Blair told Mr Bush over dinner that the US president should not be distracted by Iraq from the war against al-Qaida.
But Mr Bush replied: "I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq."
Sir Christopher said it was clear "that when we did come back to Iraq, it wouldn't be to discuss smarter sanctions". The government line is that war was never inevitable because Mr Blair and his foreign secretary, Jack Straw, successfully pressed the US to go down the UN route, which it did, and that Iraq could have avoided war by complying with UN demands.
In another twist, the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, admitted over the weekend that his claim at a UN security council meeting before the war about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction might have been incorrect. He told US reporters that his allegation that Iraq had mobile laboratories for preparing WMD might not have been based, as he claimed at the time, on solid evidence.
Mr Powell said: "I'm not the intelligence community, but I probed and I made sure, as I said in my presentation, these are multi-sourced. Now, if the sources fell apart we need to find out how we've gotten ourselves in that position."

Never say inevitable
An Islamist terrorist cell is surrounded and blows itself up in Spain; eight terror suspects are arrested in greater London; a plot to gas the tube is apparently foiled. We shouldn't be surprised, says intelligence expert Crispin Black - we have all the resources we need to overcome this terrorist threat
Wednesday April 7, 2004
The Guardian
In his recent evidence to the 9/11 Commission, Richard Armitage, George Bush's deputy secretary of state, said: "I don't think we had the imagination required to envisage such an attack." I sympathised, because the same thing had happened to me - as it has, I suspect, happened to most intelligence analysts at some time or other. My own imagination failed in the run-up to the fall of the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995, when I was the head of the Yugoslav crisis cell in the defence intelligence staff. I expected Mladic, the Serb commander, to shoot any Bosnian Muslim fighters who fell into his hands, but it never occurred to me that he would murder all the men and boys in the city. I never made the same mistake again. In the current war against Islamist terrorists, we must ensure that we are never again taken by surprise as we were on September 11 2001.
So how are we doing so far? In many ways, the news is good. The raids in the home counties on March 30, and the rumours of the thwarting of a chemical attack that emerged yesterday, suggest that our security services are able to acquire actionable intelligence on which to act. Source information is rightly highly classified, but the March 30 swoops, which netted not only men but bomb-making material, indicate either good signals intelligence (better than the "chatter" we so often hear about), or a very good human source.
To an extent this is hardly surprising. The US and UK, in concert with other English-speaking allies, operate the most powerful interception system on the planet. Codenamed Echelon, this system of listening stations and computers is able to "sniff" millions of messages a day for hints of terrorists communicating with each other. We should remember that the majority of the UK's Islamic community is just like everyone else - they condemn terrorism and would alert the authorities to suspicious groups or individuals. And there will always be men prepared to keep their eyes and ears open in return for money or the promise of a helping hand with the immigration or welfare authorities.
So we should be encouraged by our recent successes against terrorists. We can also take some reassurance from a good general counter-terrorism record stretching back nearly 60 years. Most recently, our record against the IRA has been good. After a steep learning curve in the early years, the army and the intelligence services managed to squeeze the IRA, primarily through surveillance. IRA teams never knew when their operations had been compromised. This kind of life is wearing and diverts the energies of terrorists away from attacks and towards their own security. To some extent this kind of atmosphere can deter even suicide terrorists - the last thing they want is Parkhurst rather than Paradise.
So how do Islamist terrorists plan and mount their attacks - and how can intelligence help to thwart them? Although most such groups attempt to maintain a low profile, we already have one inestimable advantage in our battle against them: we know where to look. This kind of terrorism has a kind of epidemiology that tends to lead back to various forms of extremist preaching or mentoring. It is generally practised by young men in their 20s - the individuals arrested in the UK on March 30 are between 17 and 32.
They do not attack out of nowhere. Nearly all attacks are a long time in gestation, and even a suicide terrorist is invariably the final link in a long organisational chain involving others who have no intention of killing themselves. Remember, it is only the finished-product suicide bomber who is supposedly undeterred by death. Everyone else within the chain or in support roles falls within the usual rules.
For example, target selection, the first stage of a terrorist operation, usually requires some reconnaissance. The Spanish authorities will probably discover in time that the Madrid terrorists took the appropriate trains more than once, and probably held a dress rehearsal for the operation. Secondly, the terrorists have to be recruited. Suicide terrorists usually require some form of brainwashing, or "grooming". In addition, terrorists have to get hold of explosives: in Madrid they appear to have bartered hashish in return for explosives used in the mining industry, while in London the March 30 plotters appear to have stolen a large quantity of fertiliser from a farm in Abergavenny. All these activities are difficult to mount without attracting attention.
Sometimes the intelligence is not specific. Usually this means that electronic intelligence alludes to the possibility of an attack - this is what is meant by "chatter". Or it may be that a human source has picked up a rumour of an attack, but is unable to pin down details. This is probably what lay behind the cancelling of BA flights to Washington and Riyadh earlier this year and the alert at Heathrow in 2003.
This kind of warning is difficult for the authorities to handle. If they put in place extra security measures, they are accused of over-reacting. But if you are a GCHQ officer at Cheltenham monitoring email traffic between Islamist extremists and you start to pick up vague messages that might suggest Heathrow is being targeted, you have little choice but to act. In the days when the IRA was our principal problem, it was easier: a slight increase in security and vigilance around Heathrow could well deter an IRA operation.
The Madrid bombings on March 11 also give us some pointers in how to uncover terrorist plots. Far from being a daring and brilliant attack, it looks, on deeper examination, to have been a ruthless but bog-standard terrorist operation which could have been revealed at any stage if the authorities had enjoyed a little more luck. The mobile phones used to set off the bombs were bought from a dealer already under observation by the Spanish police. A stolen car carrying the terrorists and their payload was stopped for a routine traffic check in February. A further attack on the high-speed Madrid - Seville railway line on Friday April 2 appears to have been thwarted by basic security checks.
The mechanics of the plot became apparent soon after the attacks. A number of arrests were made quickly, and most of the remainder of the gang, including the ringleader, were tracked down to a flat in the Madrid suburb of Leganes on the Saturday night, where they blew themselves up. Two further members of the gang may be still on the run, but within three weeks of the outrages this cell appears to be neutralised: a significant post-attack success for the Spaniards. All of which suggests that despite the organisation behind the original bombings on March 11, the terrorists' own security plans were not that sophisticated.
Will it happen here? Certainly, public alertness in this country has increased over the past few weeks, but preaching the "inevitability" of an attack, as the Metropolitan police commissioner did on March 16, is a dangerous message. It suggests that we cannot so arrange our security affairs as to stand a good chance of thwarting catastrophic attacks. This is a bad idea, as any general or football manager will explain. Assigning inevitability to Islamist terror attacks risks aggrandising the terrorist in his own mind as well as that of the public. The home secretary has rightly now modified the message.
My guess is that both our political and security force leaders are going to have to raise their game in the years ahead. European countries must ensure that they improve cooperation with each other. It may also be necessary to consider restricting free movement throughout the EU, which may be giving terrorists too much operational freedom. (Interestingly, the Spanish authorities intend to suspend the Schengen agreement temporarily prior to the wedding of the heir to the Spanish throne in May.)
But tightening existing procedures may not be enough. We need to think imaginatively about how we will combat Islamist terrorism in the medium to long term. I have two suggestions which I believe will help us win this war. First, the English-speaking intelligence world, so often dismissive of European agencies, should learn from their European counterparts, especially the French. Both the American and British models have come to rely too much on technical intelligence, monitoring of electronic bits and pieces which rarely present a coherent picture. The French arrange things differently, basing their work on the human intelligence acquired by the Renseignements G?n?raux, a section of the French police based in Paris. France's president and prime minister receive a daily report on the mood of the capital, which frequently concentrates on the mood within France's five million-strong Islamic community. Although it will report unfolding operational developments rapidly up the chain of command, it is principally interested in moods and intentions. This system is manpower-intensive and expensive, but it provides France with a better understanding of the sources of Islamist terror within its own population than any other European government.
Second, we should widen the recruiting base of our intelligence services. Currently, we have highly effective and professional "doers". What we need now is "thinkers", men and women who can steal a conceptual and intellectual march on Islamist terror. Somehow we need to entice our best analytical brains into the intelligence services. After all, the great triumphs of British intelligence in the second world war were largely the responsibility of talented individuals imported from the private sector at short notice. Some of the most outstanding analysts at Bletchley Park were recruited through a crossword competition held by the Daily Telegraph in November 1941.
Islamist terror is not as great a threat to our way of life as nazism, but the dangers are sufficient, and will persist for long enough, for us to look imaginatively at who we should employ in the intelligence war that will underpin our safety in the decades to come.

? Crispin Black was a government intelligence analyst until 2002.

Jingle trucks don't pass without OK from the `J-Team'

By Christian Lowe
Times staff writer
PFC Justin Payne, from Burlington Iowa, climbs down after inspecting a "jingle truck." The decorated trucks, driven by local drivers, are used to ferry supplies to forward operating bases in Afghanistan. -- Steve Elfers / Military Times
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SOLERNO, Afghanistan -- They call themselves the "J-Team." Judging from the seriousness of their gaze, these warriors clearly aren't going to break under pressure.
Their job is crucial and they know it. And it doesn't look like there's any way they're going to be jawed into bending their will.
Desperate Afghan drivers are begging them anyway, hoping these stern soldiers will let them pass so they can drop off their cargo and be on their way.
Rather than ship supplies to this base 100 miles from Bagram on secured Army convoys, the soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment who occupy this base contract out trucking to local drivers who brave the sometimes-treacherous byways of Afghanistan for the daylong trip.
Each day, dozens of trucks wait to enter the base. They are required to wait outside the wire for a few days -- a quarantine intended to set off any timed explosives they might be hiding or to force away a would-be terrorist on a tight schedule.
"If they start getting edgy or acting strange, we'll know they've got something bad in there," said Capt. Dave Butler, a native of Long Island, N.Y., and the unit's logistics officer.
Rows of colorful trucks parked end to end waited to enter camp, their innocuous cargoes enlivened by intricate paintings and dangly accents festooned above their cabs. The soldiers here call them "jingle trucks," and their entry into this base is at the mercy of the four-man J-Team.
They've been doing this mission nearly their whole deployment here, and these airborne infantrymen relish the power.
"No way, man. Tell him if he keeps up with this he's not going to get in for a week!" one of the J-Team said to an interpreter. The crowd backed off, kicking up a fine dust that clung to their tattered sandals.
The four soldiers with Headquarters Company, Support Platoon certainly would rather be humping it in these rugged mountains looking for bad guys -- what are colloquially called "anti-coalition members," or ACMs. But they're keeping busy with their job and finding time to have a little fun, too.
As PFC Matthew Carstensen checks the truck cabs for weapons, Spc. David Farnsworth peers beneath the undercarriage for hidden bombs with a mirror at the end of a pole. They shuffle through the crowd, pulling drivers toward the trucks that will make it in today, sweeping a metal detecting wand around them for one final check.
But sometimes, as on this day, something stops them in their tracks.
"They say that truck won't start and needs to be pushed," the Afghan interpreter, Wazir Jan, said, pointing to a road-weary rig just a few feet away.
"You think these things will start with a key," Farnsworth jibed, "you gotta be kidding me!"
The drivers looked at the soldiers, their eyes expectant.
"They got all these guys here, tell them to push it themselves," team leader, Sgt. Luke Bunner, said.
After Jan translated Bunner's answer, the crowd erupted in what sounded like an argument over responsibility. Then they all moved over to the broken down truck, and with a heave, the engine turned and it was soon in line to enter the base.
With that, the soldiers bundled up their interpreter and mounted back into their Humvee, escorting the Afghan trucks to the logistics areas one more time.
They'll do this again tomorrow and the next day, each time another argument with the truckers, more stalled vehicles and lousy excuses, until they leave this arid land for their home base in Alaska.
Troops in Korea take part in urban-warfare anti-terror drill
By Hans Greimel
Associated Press
SEOUL, South Korea -- Soldiers are training this week for possible urban warfare with terrorists or communist commandos in South Korea, practicing house-to-house combat against a fictitious North Korean platoon leader dubbed "Kim Murderman."
Sweeping through a model city outside the capital, Seoul, about 160 military police are taking part in the drills -- shooting down pop-up targets, raiding mock apartment blocks and clearing buildings of "opposition forces," said Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, a spokesman for the 8th Army.
The drills, which end April 8, are part of regular training for U.S. troops on the divided Korean peninsula -- where North Korea operates the world's largest special forces, with more than 100,000 commandos.
But the training also comes amid stepped up anti-terrorism security in South Korea after the Spain train bombings that killed more than 200 people, and new threats against allies of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.
Seoul plans to send 3,600 troops to Iraq, making it the biggest coalition partner after the United States and Britain.
This week's training scenarios include one in which a platoon of North Korean terrorists, led by "Kim Murderman," seizes an apartment block and must be captured or killed.
Kim is a common Korean surname -- and also that of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, whose country is on the State Department's list of terrorism-sponsoring nations.
"It's a made-up scenario that is close enough to what you might consider realism to give them something to train toward," Boylan said.
Col. Peter Champagne, chief of the 8th Military Police Brigade drilling this week, told the U.S. military newspaper Stars & Stripes that preparation would be key if war breaks out with communist North Korea.
"We see what our soldiers are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan in urban environments," Champagne said. "Korea has a lot of cities too, and if we ever get into a conflict with North Korea, one of our missions is to defeat North Korean special forces in urban environments."
The United States keeps 37,000 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.
Combined with about 600,000 South Korean soldiers, they stare off across the world's most heavily fortified border at North Korea's army of 1.1 million troops, the world's fifth largest.
If war occurs, North Korea's special operations forces are expected to try opening a "second front" in the South by infiltrating and attacking air bases and communications nodes, and by interrupting the flow of U.S. reinforcements, the U.S. Forces Korea predicted in a background paper on North Korean capabilities.
Washington branded North Korea a terrorism-sponsoring country after linking it to the 1987 bombing of a South Korean jet near Myanmar that killed 115 people.
The isolated country is currently engaged in a standoff with its neighboring nations and the United States over the development of nuclear weapons. Washington believes North Korea already has one or two atomic bombs and could quickly make more.


Stryker Brigade draws praise for Iraq work
By Matthew Cox
Times staff writer
Most know the soldiers from 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (SBCT) as the Army's first Stryker Brigade Combat Team. But in some parts of Iraq, they're known as the "Ghost Soldiers."
That's what came out of reporters round-table meeting at the Pentagon Monday, where Army acquisitions officials praised the performance of the first Stryker brigade in Iraq.
"The 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division is performing extremely effectively in combat in Iraq. The SBCT has effectively used speed and situational understanding to kill and capture dozens of enemy fighters, said Col. Nick Justice, acting assistant deputy for acquisition and systems management for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisitions, Logistics and Technology.
Most of the meeting dealt with the Army's plan for fielding five additional Stryker brigades.
But officials pointed out that the senior leadership is pleased with the Fort Lewis, Wash.-based 3-2's ability to launch its infantry forces on short notice into areas such as Samarra in December during a combined operation with the 4th Infantry Division to clean out former regime loyalists and other troublemakers.
"They have earned the nickname of the "Ghost Soldiers," as the non-compliant forces have great difficulty detecting their arrival," Justice said.
Before 3-2 deployed to the Iraqi theater in November, a key concern among observers was whether the Stryker vehicles would provide enough protection against rocket-propelled grenade attacks.
Justice said that the slat armor installed on the Strykers in Kuwait had performed well so far.
"The [Stryker] system has proven survivable as advertised," he said. "There have been five separate documented attacks with improvised explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenades. The most serious injury as a result of those attacks has been a broken ankle."
However, three soldiers from 3-2's 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment troops died Dec. 8 when a road embankment at Duluiyah apparently collapsed under two Stryker vehicles, causing them to roll over into the canal upside down. The Army Safety Center is still investigating the accident.
Overall though, Justice and other Army officials maintain that the Stryker program is a success, since it started out as a concept just four years ago.
"From concept, to acquisition, to fielding of systems, to testing, evaluation, training and employment of the first brigade took only four years, Justice said. "That is precedent-setting. It historically takes the Army about 10 years to acquire, test, and field a major system to the force."

Saddam being held in Qatar: report
Tue Apr 6, 7:19 PM ET Add Mideast - AFP to My Yahoo!

LONDON (AFP) - Deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) is being held at a US military base in Qatar, rather than in Iraq (news - web sites).
Following his capture by US forces in December last year, Saddam was first moved to a US aircraft carrier in the Gulf for interrogation, a British newspaper reported, without citing its sources.
He was then -- at a time not specified by the report -- transferred to Qatar under great secrecy, with even the state's royal family not informed of his presence.
Major violence in Iraq over recent days which has seen more than 100 Iraqis killed as well as 20 coalition troops, meant Qatar was now seen as a far safer place to keep the ousted leader, the paper added.
In December, Qatar's government dismissed earlier news reports that Saddam had been moved to the emirate, while Iraq's interim Governing Council insisted that he was still being held in Baghdad.
At the end of the last month, Saddam's wife left Syria for Qatar, according to a Jordanian lawyer who says she retained him to represent her husband.


Mrs. Clinton Pens Afterword for Paperback
Tue Apr 6, 4:22 PM ET

By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer
NEW YORK - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (news - web sites) says that she's still not quite sure why her memoirs, "Living History," sold so well.
In a four-page afterword to the paperback edition, which comes out April 19, the former first lady lists a few possibilities.
"I knew that some readers just wanted to see how I would explain the personal challenges I had faced," she writes. "Apparently, a few wanted a signed copy to sell on eBay. Others were eager to see me in the flesh and decide for themselves whether or not I was a normal human being."
Clinton received $8 million from Simon & Schuster to write "Living History" and didn't take long to earn back her advance. Nearly 1.7 million copies of the hardcover are in print and a 525,000 first printing is planned for the paperback.
Her afterword is both earnest and lighthearted, an author's reflections and a politician's commentary.
She accuses the Bush administration of hostility to the middle class, and says that efforts to get along with her opponents, "including a few who led the charge for my husband's impeachment," have often been defeated by "ideology and partisanship."
Clinton toured five countries for the book and signed copies until her hands became swollen, leading to a "newfound appreciation for ice packs and hand braces." By tour's end, her signature resembled "the tracks of a confused chicken."
She became convinced that her "life, though lived in the spotlight and blessed with greater opportunities, echoed the experiences of millions of other Americans." Some readers, however, had other agendas.
Clinton writes of being approached by two long-haired, bearded men, "looking like characters from `Lord of the Rings,'" who wanted her to join their campaign to "let men look as God intended." She recalls a man who handed her a business card with the handwritten inscription, "If you're ever single, give me a call."
Lines were long and one young fan entertained the crowd by playing the violin. Another time, Clinton looked up and saw her grinning daughter, Chelsea, waiting her turn for a signed book.
At one stop, "Living History" was upstaged by an even greater publishing phenomenon. Clinton describes a night last summer when she was signing copies, only to have hundreds of kids rush into the store, "not to see me, but to camp out until midnight to snatch up the first copies of the new Harry Potter (news - web sites)."

Posted by maximpost at 2:56 AM EDT
Tuesday, 6 April 2004


Israel's House Divided
From the April 12 / April 19, 2004 issue: Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, and identity politics.
by Peter Berkowitz
04/12/2004, Volume 009, Issue 30
FENCES LOCK OUT. In the process, they lock in. So it is perfectly foreseeable that Israel's decision to keep out terrorists by constructing a security fence separating itself from 3 million West Bank Palestinian Arabs will also work to keep in 1.2 million Arab citizens of Israel and tie their fate more closely to that of the Jewish state. Less foreseeable are the precise consequences for the Arab minority, now almost 20 percent of the population and growing, and for Israel's character as a state that is both Jewish and democratic.
A new report of the International Crisis Group--an influential NGO with headquarters in Brussels that conducts "field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict"--argues that the real issue is Israel's lamentable history of discrimination against its Arab minority. Entitled "Identity Crisis: Israel and its Arab Citizens," the report calls for massive investment by the government in Arab communities. And it recommends an extensive array of programs to promote mutual understanding between Israeli Jews and Arabs, because "mutual perceptions typically have been characterized at best by indifference, at worst by total misunderstanding and mistrust."
On a mid-March trip to Israel, I had an opportunity to discuss the condition of Israel's Arab minority with Israeli Jews and Arabs. Contrary to the International Crisis Group report, the deeper problem seems to lie in the conflicting opinions Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs have about Israel's guiding principles and core promise.
The collapse of Oslo at Camp David in the summer of 2000 and the violent demonstrations by Israeli Arabs in October 2000 in which Israeli police killed 13 marked a watershed in the two communities' relationship. Long pent-up grievances among Israeli Arabs were brought out into the open, and doubts among Israeli Jews about the loyalty to the state of their fellow citizens were crystallized. But if there was a single turning point in Jewish perceptions, it came long before--in 1947, when the Arabs in Palestine emphatically rejected the option of a Jewish state and indeed any option other than an Arab state in all of Mandatory Palestine. Israelis were compelled to conclude that the Arabs were not interested in coexistence. The conclusion was fortified by the war launched by five Arab states on the fledgling Jewish state--which spurred the exodus of hundred of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from their homes and resulted in an Israel more than 50 percent larger than contemplated by the U.N. partition plan.
Even after 1966, when Israel lifted the martial law it had imposed on Arab communities after the 1949 Armistice agreement, Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs continued to live separate lives. While one could and still can find small towns where Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs mingle in markets and caf?s, the two peoples have mainly coexisted by attending different schools, shopping at different stores, and socializing in different circles. Most Israeli Jews have never really ceased to regard Israeli Arabs as a potential fifth column. And most Israeli Arabs are at best unmoved by and generally estranged from Israel's Jewish symbols and public culture.
It can't be emphasized enough that Israeli law promises all citizens full civil and political rights--and because of Israel's commitment to this promise its Arab citizens remain far and away the freest Arabs in the Middle East. It should also be stressed, as Knesset member Amnon Rubenstein pointed out in a recent article, that the Israeli welfare state has significantly reduced the tremendous gaps between Jews and Arabs--in education, health, and social and economic well-being--that Israel inherited from British Mandatory Palestine. Yet it must also be said, as a substantial majority of Israelis now recognize, that Israel failed--out of fear, out of indifference, out of bigotry--to allocate to Arab communities a fair share of state resources for roads, hospitals, and schools, and to fully integrate their fellow citizens into the nation's social and political life.
The 1993 Oslo accords seemed to many to herald a new era, starting with mutual recognition between Israel and the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank and promising something approaching social and economic integration. Oslo was both welcomed and feared by Israeli Arabs. While feeling a sense of liberation from the dilemma of having to choose between Israel and the Palestinian cause, they were also apprehensive that once a final agreement was reached, they would find themselves marginalized in both states. The collapse of Oslo and Arafat's launching of the second Intifada reinstated, and intensified, the old dilemma.
What do Arab citizens of Israel ask from the state today? One demand, espoused by an increasing number of relatively moderate Arabs, is to turn Israel into what Knesset member Azmi Bishara calls "a state of all its citizens." Head of the National Democratic Assembly party (Balad), which holds 3 of the 120 seats in the Knesset and has a growing Arab following, Bishara has outraged Israeli Jews by his friendly visit with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and by his warm words for the Palestinians' "national liberation struggle." But it is his party's political program that is genuinely radical. For by the anodyne slogan "a state of all its citizens," Bishara, former head of the philosophy department at Bir Zeit University, means a secular, democratic, and most emphatically non-Jewish state. In contrast to American minorities, which have traditionally demanded to fully share in the state's founding principles, Israel's Arab minority increasingly demands that Israel revise its founding principles by ceasing to be a Jewish state.
For their part, Israeli Jews today are more likely than not to forthrightly acknowledge Israel's history of discrimination against its Arab minority. They are quick to add that making good on the promise of civic equality, written into Israel's Declaration of Independence and Basic Laws, is indispensable, both as a moral imperative and as a strategic necessity. But for an overwhelming majority, the "red-line," the point beyond which they will not go in accommodating Arab demands, is abandoning the idea that Israel is by right and must remain a state that is both Jewish and democratic.
Sitting in the Tel Aviv University faculty club, Likudnik and three-time former defense minister Moshe Arens gets right to the point. "For 55 years, Israeli Arabs have suffered from total neglect." The only solution, says Arens, who regards himself as an old-fashioned liberal, is to integrate the Arab population fully into Israeli society. Reform, for him, involves two essentials. Beyond providing equal resources to Arab communities, Israel also must, Arens believes, insist that Arabs--who at present are exempted--serve in the army. Arens takes obvious pride in his role in forming the army's first Bedouin brigade, which, he notes beaming like a father, serves today with distinction in the Gaza Strip. And he adds that the small community of non-Jewish and also non-Arab Druze in Israel have demonstrated valor as soldiers and officers. In his view, no proposals for alternative forms of national service will do. "If you create the impression that an Arab young man who does national service as a laboratory assistant in Umm Al-Fahm [an Arab village] is doing the same thing for Israel as a young man who goes into the infantry, that is not the case. It is not true. You are only going to push the two communities farther apart."
I ask Arens about what is controversially referred to as the "demographic threat," the fear that high birth rates will someday produce an Arab majority in Israel. He scowls. The old-fashioned liberal in him is offended. "I don't talk about the demographic threat. I don't like that phrase. I don't even like to allow it to pass my lips. I can easily see where the Arab population feels insulted." Arens does think that Israel should work to reduce the birth rate of Israeli Arabs, which, among the 90 percent who are Muslim, is among the highest in the world. Not, he explains, because of demographic considerations, but because lowering the birth rate and increasing literacy will improve the quality of their lives.
In Jerusalem, over breakfast at the guest house at Mishkenot Sha'ananim, just a few hundred yards from the great stone walls of the Old City, I discuss this delicate subject with Ruth Gavison. Slight in build and fearsome in intellect, Gavison is a widely respected professor of constitutional law whose natural political home is on the left, but who increasingly finds herself at odds with her longtime political allies for her willingness to find the fault on both sides, not just the Israeli.
While she is adamant about protecting the civil and political rights of Arab citizens of Israel, and stresses that Israel must immediately invest in infrastructure in Arab communities, Gavison believes that solving the conflict with the Palestinians beyond the Green Line is the indispensable precondition to tempering tensions with Arab citizens in Israel: "It is very hard to separate the question of the Israeli Arabs from the question of the political situation of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The two issues are totally intertwined. Because, without a two-state solution, it is very difficult for Israel to say credibly to the Arabs in Israel, you have to choose between being proud citizens of a Palestinian nation-state or loyal citizens of the Jewish state. If there is no two-state solution, you really don't give Arab citizens of Israel an adequate response to their claim that they too want to have a place where their culture and where their language are dominant. However, if you give them their own nation-state, it is possible to ask them to remain a minority in the Jewish nation-state."
Nevertheless, Gavison is worried about the readiness of Israel's Arab citizens to live with a state whose symbols and public culture reflect the national aspirations of the Jewish people. She tells me that the younger generation is more radical, that its sense of Palestinian identity is much stronger, as is its determination to have that identity affirmed by the state. "You see it in their writings," she said. "I do quite a lot of reading in their texts. They talk a lot about human rights and they talk about cultural and national identity, but they don't give much weight to duties of citizenship. On the one hand, they enjoy, and they invoke, and they use the rights of citizenship very effectively. On the other hand, they don't give the responsibilities of citizenship any moral weight whatsoever."
I ask her about Azmi Bishara's party. She is skeptical. "They invoke the ideal of a secular democratic state. But they don't really want a neutral state. They don't want to assimilate. They don't want to integrate. They want their autonomy, they want equal status for their language. They want a national existence. They want recognition as a national minority. They want institutions. They say it is a provisional condition that they are a minority here. They want Israel to stop being Jewish but they insist that there will be an Arab Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. They want Palestinian self-determination without conceding that Jews too are entitled to it."
Indeed, if there was a common thread running through the conversations I had with a variety of Arab citizens--including a star student at the Tel Aviv University Law School, a bureaucrat in the ministry of higher education, a high school teacher from the Galilee, and an editor for Israel's Arabic language broadcasts--it was the necessity of Israel's abandoning the Jewish character of the state in the name of its democratic character. Nobody put it more pointedly than Awatef Shiekh and Rim Alhatib, staff assistants respectively to Jamal Zahalka and Wasil Taha, the other two Knesset members of Bishara's National Democratic Assembly.
I interview them, in English with a smattering of Hebrew, in Shiekh's Knesset office. In dress, in demeanor, in facility at multitasking, in confident command of the issues, and in political passion, these twentysomething women could pass for Capitol Hill staffers. I told them it appeared that the heart of the matter was whether Israel, as a Jewish and democratic state, can respect the rights of its Arab minority. Her voice rising with indignation, Alhatib responded, "If Israel is both Jewish and democratic, it does not separate between religion and state. So therefore it can't be a democracy. A liberal democracy. Because one of the defining features of a democracy is to separate these things." Moreover, according to Alhatib, a state that is both Jewish and democratic imposes a cruel requirement on its non-Jewish minority: "If you want me to act like a Jewish citizen, it's like asking me to act against myself. Because if I want to stay Arab or Palestinian, I erase myself." She goes on to explain her party's mission in the Knesset: "What is very, very important for us, the most important thing that we do here, is to ask for equality in the civic area. But also to try to conserve our culture and our Palestinian identity." I follow up: In the end, though, are you saying that Israel cannot be "a state of all its citizens" so long as it remains both Jewish and democratic? "For sure," replies Awatef Shiekh.
Their sense of grievance is intense. I tell them that Israeli Jews to whom I have spoken insist on the urgent need to invest in their communities and to achieve civic equality. They scoff that talk is cheap. I ask them about alternative forms of national service. They distrust the idea of any form of national service because they think it will be used by the government as propaganda to distract from the question of their rights. They think that any appeal to Israel's security predicament in the effort to understand Israel's mistakes in the treatment of its Arab citizens is "just an excuse." Their presence at the Knesset, their freedom to make harsh criticism of the government, indeed the ability of their representatives to demand publicly that Israel renounce its Jewish character, is in their judgment not a credit to democracy in Israel but the least that the state owes them. Awatef Shiekh sums up the work of her party: "Balad is putting the government in front of a mirror and saying you are a cripple. You are not a democracy."
Later that day, I sit in the lobby of the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem with Sheerin Alaraj. She is a Palestinian woman in her early thirties who wears a head scarf and is a member of Fatah. She holds an Israeli identity card, but lives in a village near Jerusalem on the Palestinian side of the Green Line and cannot vote in national elections. I ask her to what extent Arab citizens of Israel are caught between two worlds. First she lets me know, in excellent English, that she prefers to speak of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Then she proceeds: "I'll tell you my problem with them. I think they are actually loyal to two conflicting sides. This creates serious problems. At the same time, it has lots of advantages. They are sort of standing in a liminal position. It is very convenient for them living in the state of Israel. At the same time, they are seen by Israeli Jews as joining the other side, joining the enemies of the state."
Are the perceptions of Israeli Jews accurate? "I do ask [Palestinian citizens of Israel] to be loyal to the Palestinian goals," Sheerin declares. You do? "Yes. And I have a problem with those who identify themselves as Israelis." Really? "Oh, I have a serious problem with them. It happened with me once in my life. Only once. We were in a group of Jews and Arabs, Palestinians from Israel, Jordanians, Egyptians, Lebanese, and Syrians. It was an international gathering and we decided to deal with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And they asked us to go into groups. Arabic-speaking and Hebrew-speaking. And one of the Palestinians from Israel decided that he is an Israeli and that he would join the Israeli side. That was it. I never spoke to him again."
The crux of the problem for Alaraj is Israel's determination to be both Jewish and democratic. "That contradicts itself," she says as if it were self-evident. "It can't be democratic and Jewish at the same time. It is either democratic or it is Jewish." How should Arab citizens of Israel live in the face of this contradiction? "The first thing," explains Sheerin, "is not to serve in the army. This is the minimum I expect from them." But she wants more, including protest and demonstration. And she maintains hope: "By the time the Israelis give up this Jewish state thing, peace will emerge."
IS THERE IN THE END a fatal contradiction between Israel's Jewish character and its democratic form of government? Only if you accept the idea--rooted in Rousseau, promulgated for more than a century by Marxists, and embraced by left-leaning intellectuals throughout the Western world--that the aim of democracy is to reflect in its institutional forms peoples' highest hopes, overcome individual alienation, and make all its citizens whole in heart and soul. But there is a more reasonable understanding of liberal democracy, one more in keeping with its first principles and classical formulations and less bound up with utopian hopes and Communist nightmares.
In this understanding, majorities are given wide latitude to legislate, circumscribed principally by energetic protection of the individual rights that belong to all citizens. In this understanding, states do not have an obligation to affirm equally the grandest aspirations of all citizens, but they do have an obligation to ensure that all are equal before the law and that none falls below minimum or basic requirements for education, health, and material well-being. And in this understanding, there is no reason in principle why a Jewish state--one which is open to Jews throughout the world, and gives expression in its public culture to Jewish history, Jewish hopes, and Jewish ideals--cannot protect the political rights and civil liberties, including religious freedom, of all its citizens, provide them with equal opportunities, and require that they take their fair share of responsibility for maintaining the state. And there is every reason, grounded in both democratic and Jewish imperatives, why Israel ought to do precisely that.

Peter Berkowitz teaches at George Mason University School of Law and is a fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution.

? Copyright 2004, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

AP: Terror Group Trained in Indonesia

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -

Indonesian Islamic militants taught dozens of Abu Sayyaf recruits how to make cell phone-triggered bombs and other terror skills while dodging helicopters and troops in a jungle camp last year, one of several former hostages told The Associated Press.
About 40 men completed the bomb-making course and 60 were taught sniping and combat techniques from late 2002 to the middle of 2003 by two unidentified Indonesians, who officials believe were members of the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah network, the ex-hostage said.
The eyewitness accounts by Rolando Ulah and several other Filipinos once held by Abu Sayyaf provide a glimpse into clandestine terror training by suspected militants with ties to al-Qaida and to rebels in the southern Philippines, home to this mostly Roman Catholic nation's Muslim minority.
Philippine authorities have long suspected that Jemaah Islamiyah, the Indonesia-based al-Qaida ally, has links with the brutal Abu Sayyaf and the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a Muslim separatist group accused of providing sanctuary and training grounds to foreign militants.
Jemaah Islamiyah has been blamed for numerous attacks and plots across Southeast Asia, including the Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people. Jemaah Islamiyah seeks to establish a hard-line Islamic caliphate comprising Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the southern Philippines.
The Abu Sayyaf, known for kidnap-for-ransom schemes, has been blamed for bombings in the Philippines, including an attack in 2002 outside an army camp in southern Zamboanga city that killed an American Green Beret and two Filipino civilians. It has claimed responsibility for an explosion and fire on a ferry a month ago that killed more than 100 people.
According to the former hostage accounts, training started with a dawn jog and was capped at night by an Arabic reading of the Quran, the Muslim holy book and prayers led by the Indonesians, who spoke a smattering of Tagalog, English and Arabic. Their yells of "Allahu Akbar," or God is Great, echoed through the jungle as they trained, Ulah told AP.
"They were taught sniping, combat, tae kwon do and dismantling bombs and making bombs that could be set off using cell phones and alarm clocks," said Ulah, who escaped from the Abu Sayyaf last June after more than three years of captivity on southern Jolo island.
The Indonesians taught the young guerrillas, mostly recruits from Jolo and the nearby island of Basilan, how to safely open mortar rounds or unexploded bombs dropped by Philippine air force planes and picked up by villagers, who sold them to the rebels. The explosives could be rigged as timed bombs or their powder could be used to make separate bombs, he said.
Breaking into smaller groups, the recruits were taught to make bombs that could be remotely detonated using mobile phones or alarm clocks. Such bombs, made using soldering irons and other electrical equipment, were detonated in explosive tests in the jungle, he said. Ulah said the homemade bombs he saw were made from mortar rounds and unexploded bombs dropped by twin-propeller OV-10 Bronco attack planes.
The recruits also were taught to use the locally available M16 and M14 rifles as well as the grenade-firing M203, aiming at red targets on trees, he said. The training occasionally was disrupted by troops.
"Sometimes a Sikorsky (helicopter) would fly over and everybody would run for cover to avoid being seen. After it passed, they would resume training again," Ulah said.
The training, mostly at temporary encampments on Mount Buod Bagsak, in Jolo's coastal town of Patikul, was witnessed by three other former captives, including a sailor who escaped last year and told military interrogators the trainers were fellow Indonesians.
Ulah, 44, and four other hostages surfaced Monday when they were called by authorities to identify some of six alleged Abu Sayyaf guerrillas who reportedly were planning Madrid-style bombings in Manila. They sat down with AP on Monday for interviews.
Abu Sayyaf chief Khaddafy Janjalani left Jolo aboard boats with the two Indonesians and about 40 of the newly trained guerrillas a month before he escaped in June, Ulah said. The military, sometimes helped by U.S. surveillance planes, has been hunting Janjalani since.
Former hostages also disclosed seeing two Arab nationals who met Janjalani and stayed with the guerrillas for about a month in 2001 on southern Basilan island, where the rebels had a strong presence until they were crippled and displaced by U.S.-backed assaults. Basilan is near Jolo and Abu Sayyaf guerrillas are active in both impoverished islands.
Ulah was kidnapped in April 2000 with 20 Western tourists and Asian workers from Malaysia's Sipadan resort, where he was a handyman. The other hostages were ransomed off. Now under a government witness protection program, Ulah said he was helping the government prosecute the guerrillas so they would not be able to destroy innocent people's lives.


Interior accused of shortchanging Indians


WASHINGTON -- A court-appointed investigator has resigned from the multibillion-dollar lawsuit by American Indians against the Interior Department, contending the government wanted him off the case after he found evidence that energy companies got special treatment at the expense of impoverished Indians.
Alan Balaran, the special master in the case, contends his findings could have cost the companies millions of dollars and that department officials with ties to the industry "could not let this happen."
"Justice has been much too long in coming for the hundreds of thousands of Native Americans. ... Billions of dollars are at stake," according to the resignation letter made public Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth.
Balaran, who submitted his resignation on Monday, said his continued involvement in the case would only be a distraction.
The department had not seen the letter and declined comment Tuesday.
Balaran reported in August that private landowners near the Navajo Nation got as much as 20 times more money than Indian landowners from gas pipeline companies for rights to cross their land.
He also found holes in the department's Internet security that could put hundreds of millions of dollars in Indian royalties at risk from computer hackers. As a result, the department's Internet connections have been shut down three different times.
Keith Harper, a lawyer for the Indians, praised Balaran's work.
"Now we see what they do when you go and investigate something that touches their sacred cow, which is energy companies," Harper said.
The class-action suit, filed in 1996, on behalf of more than 300,000 Indians, alleges that for more than a century the government had mismanaged, misplaced or stolen billions of dollars in oil, gas, timber and grazing royalties that the department, by law and treaty, was assigned to manage on the Indians' behalf.
In 1999, Lamberth found that the department had breached its trust responsibility. He ordered the department to tally what the Indians were owed.
In a positive development, the parties had agreed late Friday to name two mediators - Charles Byron Renfrew, a former federal judge and Chevron Oil executive, and John G. Bickerman, a Washington lawyer and professional mediator - to conduct nonbinding settlement negotiations.
It was the first time in nearly three years that the sides held talks and the first time they agreed to mediators.
Brazil says its nuke program is peaceful

Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim talks to the media during a luncheon at the American Chamber of Commerce in Rio de Janeiro, Monday, April 5, 2004. In an apparent bid to defuse possible tensions over international inspections of Brazil's nuclear facilities, Amorim reaffirmed the country's commitment to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the peaceful objectives of its nuclear program. (AP Photo/Renzo Gostoli)
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Brazil's nuclear program is peaceful and the country remains committed to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said Monday, in an effort to defuse tensions over international inspections.
Amorim's comments came as the Science and Technology Ministry confirmed that U.N. nuclear inspectors were denied access in February and March to uranium-enrichment centrifuges at a facility that is being built in Resende, near Rio de Janeiro.
The report of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors' being denied access was first reported Sunday by the Washington Post.
Amorim said Brazil's nuclear program is exclusively aimed at the production of cheap energy and that the "country must have the right to protect its own technology."
"Brazil is complying with all its international obligations" pertaining to its nuclear program and reports indicating otherwise are "groundless," Amorim told reporters.
He said the world's nuclear powers should make a concerted effort toward nuclear disarmament instead of focusing their attention on countries like Brazil that do not have nuclear weapons.
Science and Technology Minister Eduardo Campos said the inspectors had access to uranium that would be sent to Canada for enrichment "but we are not obliged to show the technology that took us years to develop."
Campos told the O Globo newspaper that Brazil had already invested close to $1 billion and years of research to develop its own technology to enrich uranium to be used in power plants.
Repeated calls to the IAEA in Vienna were not returned Monday.
Brazil has the world's sixth largest uranium reserve. The country has had the capacity to enrich uranium since the 1980s, but has so far only done so for research purposes. The country signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1997.
Brazil's ambassador of the United States, Roberto Abdenur, also defended the decision to deny inspectors access.
"Brazil has legitimate industrial and technological reasons for not allowing the inspectors to see the centrifuges," Abdenur told the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper.
One of Brazil's top nuclear scientists, however, accused government officials of "abusing the concept of national sovereignty."
"Centrifuges are being used by many countries around the world and even if Brazil's has some kind of new technology, I am sure that technology is not earthshaking enough to hide," Jose Goldemberg told The Associated Press.
Refusing access to IAEA inspectors could lead to "suspicions that it indeed has something to hide and thus create a certain tension or impasse with the agency and the United States," Goldemberg said.
Uranium mined from the ground is run through centrifuges where it is enriched for use in either in nuclear power plants for electricity generation or in atomic weapons.
Brazilian officials hope to be enriching enough uranium by 2014 to run its only two nuclear power plants - called Angra 1 and Angra - plus a third that is expected to come on line that year. The country also expects to have a surplus of enriched uranium by then, which could be exported.
Brazil has also refused to sign on to another clause in the nuclear treaty, which would allow the IAEA to conduct spot inspections of Brasilia nuclear facilities.
Abdenur reiterated Brazil's long-held view against signing the additional protocol, saying some industrial countries, especially the United States, have unfairly made signing it a condition for obtaining new nuclear technology.

Associated Press writer Harold Olmos contributed to this report from Rio de Janeiro.



22 March 2004
ICG Asia Report N?77

ICG Asia Report N?77 22 March 2004
Pakistan's military government launched a campaign for political devolution in 2000 that it said was aimed at transferring administrative and financial power to local governments. The scheme was to strengthen local control and accountability and, according to President Pervez Musharraf, "empower the impoverished". In practice, however, it has undercut established political parties and drained power away from the provinces while doing little to minimise corruption or establish clear accountability at a local level. The reforms, far from enhancing democracy, have strengthened military rule and may actually raise the risks of internal conflict. Under the Devolution of Power Plan announced in August 2000, local governments were to be elected on a non-party basis in phased voting between December 2000 and July 2001. District and sub-district governments have since been installed in 101 districts, including four cities. Operating under its respective provincial Local Government Ordinance 2001, each has its Nazim and Naib Nazim (mayor and deputy mayor), elected council and administration. Like previous local government plans, Musharraf's called for re-establishing elected local councils at district and sub-district levels. It promised substantial autonomy for elected local officials and, most notably, placed an elected official as overall head of district administration, management and development, reversing a century-old system that subordinated elected politicians to bureaucrats. Musharraf's scheme ostensibly aimed at establishing the foundations of genuine local democracy. However, the main rationale for devolution was and remains regime legitimacy and survival. Aside from the widespread allegations of rigging and manipulation that have shadowed them, the nonpartisan nature of the local elections has exacerbated ethnic, caste and tribal divisions and undermined the organisational coherence of political parties. Devolution, in fact, has proved little more than a cover for further centralised control over the lower levels of government. Despite the rhetoric from Islamabad of empowerment, local governments have only nominal powers. Devolution from the centre directly to the local levels, moreover, negates the normal concept of decentralisation since Pakistan's principal federal units, its four provinces, have been bypassed. The misuse of local government officials during the April 2002 presidential referendum and the October 2002 general elections has left little doubt that these governments were primarily instituted to create a pliant political elite that could help root the military's power in local politics and displace its traditional civilian adversaries. Friction is growing between various levels of government, especially since the military transferred power, at least formally, to the central and provincial governments that were formed after the 2002 elections. These tensions are partly the result of the manner in which the devolution plan was devised and implemented in the absence of elected officials and against the strong opposition of the major political parties, civil society and media. Despite its lack of domestic legitimacy, the devolution plan has considerable support from donors, who mistakenly believe it is advancing democracy and building down military rule. For now, the military's backing as well as this external support works in its favour. But low domestic acceptance undermines its long-term prospects, and the military's political engineering that accompanies it is widening divisions at the local and provincial levels. Some of these could well lead to greater domestic violence and instability.
Devolution in Pakistan: Reform or Regression?
ICG Asia Report N?77, 22 March 2004 Page ii
To the Government of Pakistan:
1. Demonstrate a commitment to real political
devolution by:
(a) placing the Local Government Ordinance (LGO) before each provincial government for review to create the necessary political acceptance of the scheme;
(b) holding local government elections on a party basis, with direct polls for district officials; and
(c) refraining from imposing political discipline on local officials and misusing them for political ends such as partisan electioneering.
2. Take steps toward decentralisation from federal to provincial levels by:
(a) reducing the number of federal ministries involved in and hence capable of exercising control over local government; and
(b) allowing the representation and participation of provincial and national assembly legislators in key local government bodies such as the district development advisory committees.
3. Devolve administrative and fiscal powers to local units, in particular by:
(a) giving district governments greater control over budgetary resources and increasing allocations for development, especially in poorer districts; and
(b) linking provincial population-based fiscal transfers to each district's level of poverty, fiscal and development needs.
4. Improve the delivery of justice in local government through security sector reform, notably by:
(a) expediting the formation and operationalisation of district, provincial and national safety commissions and police complaints authorities; and
(b) allocating more resources and staff to the
district police. To UNDP, the international financial institutions and key donor governments, including the U.S.:
5. Encourage the Pakistan government strongly to devolve political, administrative and financial responsibilities to the provinces.
6. Re-evaluate and reorder devolution program assistance in order to emphasise sustained help for wider institutional reforms that address the longstanding problems of poverty, economic growth, public sector corruption and inefficiency.
7. Link support for devolution to progress on police reforms and provide budgetary support and other assistance to improve service incentives and conditions and build capacity for investigation and prosecution functions.
Islamabad/Brussels, 22 March 2004
ICG Asia Report N?77 22 March 2004
On 14 August 2000, President Musharraf unveiled his government's Local Government Plan, intended to build genuine democratic institutions and empower the people at the grassroots.1 The main stated objectives are political devolution, administrative decentralisation, and the redistribution of resources to local governments. In his words: The basic issue is to empower the impoverished and make the people the master of their own destiny. We want to introduce essence of democracy and not sham democracy, which promotes the privileged. Devolution will bring far-reaching consequences and will change [the] fate of the country.2 In reviving local governments,3 Musharraf was following in the footsteps of his predecessors. Successive military rulers have typically instituted lower tiers of government as a substitute for democratisation at the provincial and national levels.
1 The Local Government Plan was approved in a joint meeting of the National Security Council and the Federal Cabinet on 5 August 2000. Bureau Report, "NSC, Cabinet Approve Devolution Plan", Dawn, 6 August 2000.
2 M. Ziauddin, "Musharraf Announces Partyless Local Bodies Polls", Dawn, 16 August 2000.
3 Pakistan has four provinces: Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP). There are three levels of local government: district, tehsil and union, each with a nazim and naib nazim, elected bodies (zila tehsil and union councils) and administrative structures (district, tehsil/town municipal and union). There are 92 districts, of which 33 are in Punjab, fifteen in Sindh, 21 in Baluchistan, and 23 in NWFP. Each province has one city district. There are 307 tehsils, of which 116 are in Punjab, 86 in Sindh, 71 in Baluchistan, and 34 in NWFP. There are 30 city/towns, of which six are in Punjab, eighteen in Sindh, two in Baluchistan, and four in NWFP. Source: Aazar Ayaz, "Decentralisation in Pakistan: An Approach to Poverty Reduction and Protection of Human Rights", The Researchers, Islamabad, October 2003. Local governments have mainly been used to: (1) depoliticise governance; (2) create a new political elite to challenge and undermine the political opposition; (3) demonstrate the democratic credentials of a regime to domestic and external audiences; and (4) undermine federalism by circumventing constitutional provisions for provincial political, administrative, and fiscal autonomy. Like his predecessors, Musharraf quickly seized upon local government. Within a month of his coup, he set up a National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) under a retired general to develop a scheme for devolution. Drafted with technical assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the "Local Government Plan 2000" (LG Plan 2000) called for reestablishment of elected councils at the sub-district and district levels just like President and Field Marshal Ayub's Basic Democracy and President and General Zia-ul-Haq's local bodies. But unlike previous systems, Musharraf's plan promised to vest extensive political and administrative authority in district and subdistrict governments by providing for matching federal and provincial grants to help them fulfil their new responsibilities.
Each level was to have an elected nazim and naib nazim (mayor and deputy mayor), elected councils and administration. For the first time in Pakistan's history, elected officials were to be placed at the apex of district government, with executive powers and responsibilities for law and order to "ensure the supremacy of the political leadership over the administration".4 While the ostensible aim of Musharraf's devolution scheme may be the transfer of administrative, political and financial authority to the lower tiers of 4 "Local Government (Proposed Plan): Devolution of Power and Responsibility Establishing the Foundations for Genuine Democracy" [hereafter LGP], Government of Pakistan, National Reconstruction Bureau, Islamabad, May 2000, p. 36.
Devolution in Pakistan: Reform or Regression?
ICG Asia Report N?77, 22 March 2004 Page 2
government, the reality is starkly different. Local governments in fact exercise only nominal autonomy with respect to administrative and financial matters in their respective jurisdictions. Sweeping as it looks, the new system's telltale mandate is in the requirement that all local elections must be partyless.5 Local governments have proved to be key instruments in the military's manipulation of the Pakistani polity to ensure regime survival. District nazims (mayors) used public funds and other state resources to stage pro-Musharraf rallies during the April 2002 presidential referendum and to support the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-i-Azam) (PMLQ)' s parliamentary candidates in the 2002 national polls. Local governments have also had significant utility for the military's divide-and rule tactics. By juxtaposing more than 100 new local governments between it and the provinces, the centre, where the military continues to maintain its grip on the levers of state power, has been strengthened at the cost of Pakistan's four federating units.
If Pakistan's chequered political history is any barometer, the question of devolution cannot be addressed in isolation from the larger issue of provincial autonomy. Devolution of power, authority and resources is central to the viability of any multiethnic, multi-regional state. Although the federal principle is enshrined in the 1973 constitution, Pakistan's civil-military ruling elite has been averse to devolving powers to the provincial level. Instead, it has often used the administrative and coercive powers at its disposal to extend the centre's control over the provinces. Since military-inspired devolution is directed to local levels, it enhances tensions between the centre and the provinces. Such schemes undermine the very concept of federalism and increase ethno-regional rifts.
This centralisation of power and authority led to Pakistan's break-up in 1971, when the East wing rebelled against the centre's political control and fiscal exploitation. In present-day Pakistan, ethnic tensions, fuelled by bitter resentment against a Punjabi-dominated military, are rising in the smaller 5 There are many circumstances and contexts in which nonpartisan local elections operate as an effective part of the democratic process, of course. The criticism of the concept in this report relates to the specific circumstances of today's Pakistan in which the concept has been used to help bypass political parties and thereby strengthen an undemocratic military government.
federal units of Sindh, Baluchistan and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). In the Punjab itself, Pakistan's largest province, the military has bargained opportunistically along biradari (caste, tribal, subregional) lines and unleashed equally divisive forces by deliberately suppressing party politics. This report examines President Musharraf's devolution scheme in relation to its stated political, administrative, financial, and law enforcement objectives and assesses the impact on political stability, federal-provincial relations, and ethnoregional relations.
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ICG Asia Report N?77, 22 March 2004 Page 3
II. BACKGROUND A. GENERAL AYUB KHAN'S BASIC DEMOCRACY While rudimentary forms had existed in parts of British India, the colonial state's need for centralised, authoritarian rule mitigated against the development of any real elected system of local government. Pakistan inherited the British system in which the deputy commissioner (DC) (administrative head of the district) virtually controlled all facets of district government: administration, development, revenue and criminal justice. Upon assuming power in 1958, Pakistan's first military ruler, General Ayub Khan, opted for an elaborate, though nominally empowered, local bodies scheme. Having suspended the constitution, the regime needed for its survival to create at least a semblance of democratic representation at some level. In 1959, Ayub formally introduced his "Basic Democracy" (BD) plan, declaring that the nation was not yet ready for full democracy. "The scheme of Basic Democracies", he said, "has been evolved after a careful study of the experience of other countries and of the special conditions prevailing in our land".6 Under Basic Democracy, the country was divided into 80,000 wards (single member constituencies of 1,000 to 1,200 people each) to elect a "Basic Democrat" on a non-party basis. Local councils were created at the district and sub-district levels of union, tehsil (West Pakistan) and thana (East Pakistan). Roughly half the members of local councils were officially nominated, not directly elected.7 While these councils received state funds to perform municipal and civic functions, the district administrative bureaucracy retained virtually total authority over them, including the powers to overrule council decisions and suspend the execution of their orders.
Besides serving on the local councils, Basic Democrats constituted the Electoral College that selected the president. In 1960, Ayub used this new institution to have himself confirmed as president for five years through a referendum that gave him a 95.6
6 Ayub's Speech of 2 September 1959 on Basic Democracies,
cited in Hamid Khan, Constitutional and Political History of Pakistan (Karachi, 2001), p. 219.
7 The process of nomination was later abandoned. per cent vote. Having abrogated the 1956 constitution, Ayub promulgated a new one in March 1962. Federal in principle, it established a unitary, presidential government.
As president, Ayub arrogated to himself unchallenged executive powers and the authority to dismiss the national and provincial legislatures. Provincial autonomy was circumscribed further through the appointment of governors, answerable to the centre. Basic Democrats were retained as the Electoral College for both the President and members of the National Assembly and provincial legislatures. In creating these local bodies, Ayub's intent was not to decentralise or democratise authority but to extend centralised control over the federal units through a new grass roots political base. The scheme was remarkably well orchestrated for extending direct patronage to, and manipulation of local power structures. Controlling access to the state's resources, the district bureaucracy was able to penetrate and manipulate local politics by dealing directly with the new elite, bypassing politicians and political parties and thus isolating them from the general electorate. In this way, governance was depoliticised and localised under the control of centrally appointed bureaucrats.8
At the end of his presidential tenure in 1965, Ayub sought re-election in a contested poll. While he defeated his principal civilian opponent, Fatima Jinnah, allegations of electoral rigging and manipulation from the opposition further weakened the declining credibility of his local government system.
The denial of provincial autonomy and systematic suppression of political views fuelled domestic dissent and, combined with skewed economic policies that mostly benefited a small industrial elite, exacerbated polarisation along regional, class and ethnic lines. In East Pakistan, resentment over denial of economic and political autonomy by a Punjabi-dominated civil-military establishment galvanised a popular movement for provincial autonomy under Sheikh Mujibur Rehman's Awami League. In the western wing, lack of opportunity for political participation and coercive authoritarian rule bred alienation and frustration among ethno-regional groups, urban intelligentsia, students and labour unions.
8 See Mohammad Waseem, Politics and the State in Pakistan (Islamabad, 1994).
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ICG Asia Report N?77, 22 March 2004 Page 4
By 1969, violent protests and countrywide strikes crippled Ayub's authority. As it declined, the military high command withdrew its support and handed power to his army chief, General Yahya Khan. One of Yahya's first steps was to scrap "Basic Democracy". Lacking legitimacy and public sanction, Ayub's discredited system did not survive its creator. But Ayub's political engineering, aimed at legitimising the military's control over politics at every level, undermined federalism, exacerbated regional frictions and culminated in civil war and dismemberment of the Pakistani state.
B. GENERAL ZIA-UL-HAQ'S LOCAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM In July 1977, the army under General Zia-ul-Haq deposed the elected Pakistan People's Party (PPP) government of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Ironically, local government had remained defunct during the brief democratic interlude from 1972 to 1977. Although the PPP government promulgated a People's Local Government Ordinance in 1975, the elections were never held.9 Like Ayub, Zia saw merit in instituting local bodies in order to cloak a highly centralised, authoritarian system of government under the garb of decentralisation. In September 1979, he revived local governments through provincial ordinances.10 Unlike with Ayub's BDs, some functions of provincial governments were delegated to local bodies but they were to operate under provincial control. Zia established three tiers of local government in rural areas: union councils (consisting of villages), tehsil (sub-district) committees and zila (district) councils. In urban areas, town committees were established for towns with populations between 5,000 and 30,000; municipal committees for towns with a population up to 250,000, and municipal/metropolitan corporations for major cities (Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi) with populations in excess of 250,000.
9 Akbar Zaidi, "Pakistan: Country Paper", in Local Government in Asia and the Pacific: A Comparative Study, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia Pacific (UNESCAP), at country/pakistan/ pakistan.html.
10 Baluchistan's Local Government Ordinance was promulgated in 1980.
Elections to union councils/town committees were held in 1979, 1983, and 1987 on a non-party basis,11 with 80 per cent of members elected by universal adult suffrage and 20 per cent reserved for peasants, workers, tenants, and women. Councillors served as the electoral college for choosing the heads (chairmen and vice chairmen) of zila and tehsil councils.12
The main responsibility of the local councils was to manage small-scale public welfare and development activities (water supply, sanitation, maintenance and management of hospitals and schools) in their jurisdictions. The list of council functions was extensive but the revenue base was limited despite the delegation of some taxation powers by provincial governments.13 The bulk of their funds came as federal transfers and to a lesser extent allocations from provincial Annual Development Programs (ADP).
Similar to the BD scheme, Zia's local councils were not entrusted with general administration, law and order or policing, which were retained by civil bureaucrats (commissioners and deputy commissioners) who also served as ex officio, nonvoting, members of these councils. Unlike the BD system, Zia's local government officials did not form an electoral college for provincial or national assemblies or the presidency. In the first local bodies elections, in September 1979, the Awam Dost (Friends of the People) group, a cover name for the Pakistan People's Party, secured significant representation. Their success was a rude shock to the military government. To forestall their victory, Zia postponed indefinitely national elections scheduled for 17 and 20 November 1979.
The primary motivations for Zia to create local bodies was to legitimise the military government, broaden its support base beyond the military, and use the newly created and pliable local elite to undermine its political opponents. In essence, the local bodies provided the "civilian base of his
11 Zaidi, op.cit.
12 Ibid.
13 These included tax (octroi) on the import of goods and animals, tax on the annual rental value of buildings and roads, and tax on the transfer of immovable property. The main revenue source - over 50 per cent - for urban councils was octroi.
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military government, supporting it in return for economic and political benefits".14 Gradually, these local governments became a vast mechanism for extending state patronage to promilitary politicians, providing the military government with ample scope for staging favourable, non-partisan elections. In due course, the new local elites formed the core of Zia's rubber stamp parliament, elected in non-party national elections in 1985. But these local bodies could not assuage popular demands for participation or bestow any lasting legitimacy on the military government. Eventually, a revolt within the parliament triggered by the military's refusal to share any meaningful authority with elected politicians led to dissolution of the democratic fa?ade it had so assiduously manufactured. 15
Tainted by its association with a military dictator, Zia's local government scheme was allowed to decay under elected governments in the 1990s. Local bodies were dissolved in the NWFP in 1991, in Sindh in 1992 and a year later in the Punjab province.16 While corruption and mismanagement were often cited, the primary reason for scrapping these local bodies was almost always political. Wary of the electoral influence of local officials, elected governments preferred to run local councils through appointed administrators, regular federal and/orprovincially appointed civil servants. "Unfortunately, elected governments were at loggerheads with local bodies", says a senior PPP politician, "because they wanted to keep local politics under control for fear of losing out to their rivals". 17
14 ICG Asia Report N?40, Pakistan: Transition to Democracy,
3 October 2002, p. 7.
15 Ibid, p. 15
16 Local bodies were later restored in the NWFP and Punjab.
17 ICG interview, Karachi, June 2003.
On 12 October 1999, Pakistan's military deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's elected government. Accusing Sharif of destabilising the army and creating dissension within its ranks, Army Chief, General Pervez Musharraf claimed that the armed forces had "no intention to stay in charge any longer than is absolutely necessary to pave the way for true democracy to flourish in the country".18 Primarily driven by the need to legitimise the coup, Musharraf quickly announced a seven- point democratic reform agenda to address Pakistan's institutional decay. This included rebuilding national confidence and morale; strengthening the federation while removing inter-provincial disharmony; reviving and restoring investor confidence; ensuring law and order and dispensing speedy justice; reconstructing and depoliticising state institutions; ensuring swift across-the-board accountability; and devolving power to the grass roots level.
Like his military predecessors Musharraf quickly seized upon the idea of using local government to advance regime survival and consolidation. Creating a National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) under retired General Tanvir Naqvi in November 1999, he made devolution and diffusion of power a main policy priority of his military government. While the NRB had a broad national reconstruction agenda, Naqvi and his team of mainly donorfinanced consultants concentrated on this. The Bureau produced a broad local government blue print that Musharraf announced on 23 March 2000.19 He claimed devolution was "the beginning of a constructive, democratic, dynamic revolution whose sole objective is to place in [the] hands of the people the power to shape their own unprecedented transfer of power will take place from the elites to the vast majority".20 In "devolving
18 General Musharraf's televised address to the nation, BBC News Online, 17 October 1999,
19 23 March is celebrated every year to commemorate the passing of the Pakistan Resolution by the All India Muslim League in 1940.
20 "CE Announces Holding of Local Government Elections", Associated Press of Pakistan, 24 March 2000.
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powers", Musharraf was actually replicating the attempts of his predecessors to circumvent popular aspirations for representative rule. He and his fellow generals faced special constraints, however, in the context of the October 1999 coup.
Pakistan's military rulers have traditionally relied on U.S. diplomatic and economic support to prolong and consolidate their power but both Ayub and Zia had taken over when external conditions were conducive to military rule. Having deposed an elected government in a post cold-war environment where electoral democracy has emerged as the preferred form of government, Musharraf's need to dispel international apprehensions was far more acute. Says an analyst, "the military's decision to devolve substantial powers to local levels was informed in no small part by the need to assuage international concerns about political democracy, which could no longer be satisfied merely by creating nominal local bodies".21 Despite reservations over misrule and corruption, the international community had opposed the October 1999 military takeover, and the U.S., EU and Japan imposed trade and economic sanctions. Keen to end its isolation, the military government's strategies included the ostensible devolution of power to civilians at the local level even as it maintained control of the real levers of state power, those at provincial and national levels. Local governments were intended to establish the military's democratic credentials and confirm its intent eventually to restore civilian rule. Announcing his local bodies plan on the eve of U.S. President Clinton's visit, Musharraf declared, "Democracy starts here at the district and local governments, from here we will move up step by step to provincial and federal (elections) in due course".22 The devolution decision was also aimed at coopting domestic and external constituencies that favour decentralisation and local empowerment. Since donors as well as influential sections of civil society such as the media and NGOs have long blamed bureaucratic corruption and centralisation for Pakistan's political and administrative malaise, Musharraf distanced his government from the discredited machinery.23 In his 23 March speech, he
21 ICG interview, Islamabad, May 2003.
22 "Clinton Tours Indian Village, Pakistan Announces Local Elections", CNN online, 24 March 2000.
23 ICG interview, May 2003.
stressed that "the entire administration system has been distorted, and interference by the Federal Government in local affairs has been extreme".24 Another key motivation was to create new elites so as to undermine and marginalise political adversaries. Ruling through non-partisan local bodies is a time-tested strategy employed by Pakistan's military rulers. Echoing the military's traditional distrust of party politics, Musharraf made it clear in August 2000 that local elections would be non-partisan, ostensibly to discourage petty political rivalries at district level.25 A multitude of scattered local power centres dependent on patronage are easier for the military to deal with than four, relatively more cohesive provincial governments. By creating a democratic fa?ade at local levels, Musharraf hoped to circumvent constitutional provisions for provincial political, administrative, and fiscal autonomy. Under the 1973 constitution, Pakistan is a federation, and local government is a provincial responsibility. The leaders of Pakistan's mainstream parties, including the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), say Musharraf, like others before him, has employed devolution merely to extend military control over the provinces. "Real devolution", a PPP leader said, "would entail transfer of powers from the centre to the provinces, resulting in substantive provincial autonomy".26 PML-N's Ahsan Iqbal, former head of the Federal Planning Commission, agreed: "The provinces are already weak with the centre usurping many of their powers under the concurrent legislative list, and local governments will be one more step in this direction".27
The NRB presented its full draft Devolution of Power Plan in May 2000.28 The plan revived Zia's three-tiered system of local governance at the union, tehsil and zila levels, but envisaged unprecedented
24 "CE Announces Holding of Local Bodies Elections", Associated Press of Pakistan, 24 March 2000.
25 Zaffar Abbas, "Musharraf Unveils Local Election Plan", BBC News Online, 14 August 2000.
26 ICG interview, Karachi, June 2003.
27 ICG interview, Islamabad, April 2003.
28 LGP, op. cit.
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administrative and developmental functions for elected officials. One of the most radical measures was subordination of the district administration and police to the elected chief mayor.29 District governments were also to be vested with significant financial resources through federal and provincial grants and tax powers.
The plan envisaged a district assembly comprising chairmen of all union councils in a district.30 The assembly was made responsible for approving bylaws, taxes, annual development plans and budgets. To improve service delivery and monitor citizen rights, it would oversee governmental departments through its monitoring committees. A tehsil council, comprising union councillors from the tehsil, would perform functions at its level.31 The lowest tier, the union council, would have its own chairman and 26 councillors.32 Members of the union council were to be elected directly by adult franchise and would also act as the electoral college for reserved seats. The main function of the union councils was to undertake local development projects and monitor "citizens' rights, security and services".33 The plan expanded the franchise by reducing the voting age from 21 to eighteen, while 50 per cent of the seats in union councils were reserved for women. Joint electorates were proposed for minorities in order to address long-standing demands from women and minority rights' groups.
1. Administrative Decentralisation
The plan proposed to abolish the posts of deputy commissioner and assistant commissioner, who traditionally controlled executive, judicial and revenue functions in a district, and establish a new administrative structure led by a district coordination officer (DCO). Magisterial and legal powers were transferred to the district and sessions judge and police oversight powers to the nazim. The divisional tier of administration headed by the commissioner was abolished, and the nazim received the power to
29 The designations for chief mayor and deputy chief mayor were later changed to "nazim" and "naib nazim".
30 The district assembly was renamed "zila council".
31 Union naib nazims are now ex-officio members of the tehsil council.
32 The seats on the union council were allocated as follows: sixteen general seats, eight seats for peasants/workers, and two for minority communities. Half the seats in each of the three categories were reserved for women.
33 LGP, op. cit., p. 32.
appoint and remove the DCO, albeit with the approval of the district assembly. Justifying this restructuring, the NRB claimed that concentration of authority, particularly in the office of the deputy commissioner, creates the potential for "arbitrariness, incessant delays, management and corruption in government operations".34 But critics say its most significant change was designed to weaken the civil service's elite district management group (DMG), which had virtually controlled district administration, as well as top tier posts in the provincial and federal governments. The military's decision to dilute its authority also resulted partly from strong opposition to the DMG among senior police and income tax officials, who occupied key posts in Musharraf's secretariat. Targeting the DMG was also an attempt to capitalise on divisions within the civilian bureaucracy in order to expand direct military control over administration.35 This was reflected in an NRB document:
The civil service is effectively controlled by the DMG. The group has close relations with international donors...Other groups in the public administration chafe under the control of one group and would welcome a democratisation of civil service structure as a basic element of civil service reform. The end of the domination of the bureaucracy by one group is a necessary pre-condition for the attainment of administrative power by the Army and the creation of conditions for national reconstruction (emphasis added).36 The restructuring included devolution of provincial line departments to district level and creation of new departments of law, literacy and information technology. Each district department was placed under a district officer, assisted by a deputy (DDO) at sub-district levels.37
34 LGP, op. cit., p. 27.
35 "An urgent task facing Musharraf was to swiftly consolidate the army's authority over the administrative and political structures of the state", said a retired army general. ICG interview, Islamabad, June 2003.
36 "Structural Analysis of National Reconstruction", National Reconstruction Bureau, 27 May 2000.
37 Each district department is now headed by an executive district officer (EDO).
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The tehsil (sub-district) government was to have overall responsibility for basic municipal services. Under Zia's local bodies system, rural and urban areas were separate political entities, divided into union and zila councils for the former and town committees, municipal and metropolitan corporations for the urban areas. With the ostensible aim of mitigating this rural-urban divide, the devolution plan proposed that tehsils (towns in city districts) would include the rural as well as urban union councils. In the words of the plan, "the integrated tehsil government will mitigate the prevailing rural-urban frictions by providing opportunities for representation in proportion to the population and taxation in proportion to the services".38 To involve people in community development, the plan also called for creation of citizen community boards (CCBs) in both urban and rural areas.39 Also planned were village (and neighbourhood) Councils for changing popular attitudes from a "reactive to a proactive mindset".40 A zila mohtasib (district ombudsman) was to give the public an independent mechanism for addressing complaints against local government officials.
Acknowledging in principle the different administrative, policing and municipal needs of large cities, the plan also envisaged creating city district governments.
2. Fiscal Decentralisation
Pakistan has a highly centralised fiscal system with the federal government raising some 90 per cent of tax revenues. Provincial governments rely overwhelmingly on federal transfers, which are some 80 per cent of their revenues. Under the proposed Local Government Plan, local governments would receive revenue through formula-based provincial transfers and the decentralisation of specified taxation powers.41
While the plan remained vague on the exact modalities of fiscal decentralisation, it proposed a provincial finance commission (PFC) for the transfers, and envisaged that district and tehsil
38 LGP, op. cit., p. 52.
39 Ibid, p. 34.
40 Ibid, p. 33.
41Ibid, p. 60.
Councils would have legislative authority to levy specific taxes.
3. Law Enforcement
Under the Police Act of 1861, the district superintendent of police was subject to the operational control of the deputy commissioner in addition to the provincial police hierarchy.42 With the proposed abolition of the office of deputy commissioner, the district police chief was made responsible to the elected chief mayor. While the province remained the designated level for "raising, training and equipping" police, the plan called for revising law enforcement functions. District (and provincial/national) safety commissions were proposed to monitor police performance and redress public grievances. Watch and ward functions were separated from investigation. An independent prosecution service and a provincial police complaints authority were also envisaged.
Following the 1999 coup, the military swiftly put its own people into key civil service institutions in the name of reducing corruption, introducing accountability, and monitoring government.43 This insertion of 3,500 military people into civilian bodies at the national, provincial, divisional and district levels as "army monitoring teams" promoted official abuse and belied the official rhetoric of citizen empowerment and devolution of power.44 The spirit of devolution was also negated in a far more significant way. The local government plan was to be applied to the four provinces, but not to
42 Under paragraph 2, section 4 of the act, "the administration of the police throughout the local jurisdiction of the magistrate of the district shall, under the general control and direction of such magistrate, be vested in a district superintendent and such assistant district superintendents as the Provincial Government shall consider necessary".
43 The system of appointing serving and retired military personnel to civil service posts, institutionalised under General Zia, was greatly expanded under Musharraf in violation of rules and quotas.
44 Annex III: Monitoring Teams, "Report on the Work of the Government: 12 October 1999 to January 2000", Directorate General Films and Publications, Ministry of Information and Media Development, Islamabad, Government of Pakistan, 2000. "Reform or Repression: Post-Coup Abuses in Pakistan", Human Rights Watch, October 2000.
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some 41 largely civilian populated cantonments (military garrisons) in towns and major cities, which would remain under the control of military station commanders.45 The issue of integrating cantonments with elected local governments was left to the future since "local government already exists in the cantonments in the form of cantonment boards".46 That is simply untrue. Cantonments are run under the Cantonment Act of 1924, which vests statutory control to the army. Under the act, the army station commander is, ex officio, President of the Cantonment Board, which has a nominal elected component but can be dismissed by the president.47 Dating back to colonial times, this act mainly concerns the orderly administration of military lands and garrisons. Says a former elected member of the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board, "the devolution plan only reinforces the non-elected nature of governance in cantonments where civilians have little or no voice or representation".48 Even freedom of movement is often severely restricted in cantonments by military checkpoints.
Official sources confirmed to ICG that the initial decision to include cantonments in the plan met with stiff resistance from army corps commanders, who justified their opposition on national security grounds.49 According to a federal official, "the army is loath to abdicate control over the cantonments, which contain lucrative army real estate and installations under its exclusive administrative control since independence".50 Exclusion of the cantonments meant that the station commander could continue to exercise colonialstyle control over civilian populations while the entire district administrative structure was being abolished, ostensibly to empower citizens.51 The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) was also not included in the devolution system, although this was left open for future review. Opposition from tribal leaders was cited as the main reason but critics say the federal government's traditional aversion to public participation in the
45 Cantonments exist in large cities like Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar, large garrisons like Kharian and Gujranwala, and small garrisons like Bannu and Kohat.
46 LGP, op. cit.
47 Cantonment Act 1924.
48 ICG interview, Rawalpindi, June 2003.
49 ICG interview, June 2003.
50 ICG interview, Islamabad, June 2003.
51 ICG countrywide interviews, June 2003.
strategic border region played a part. The Federal Capital Territory (Islamabad) was likewise left out.52
Major political parties, independent human rights groups, the media and analysts opposed the draft devolution plan. Most political parties believed the military's scheme was little more than a ploy to ensure regime survival. Another aim, according to the opposition, was to deflect international attention from the need to restore democracy even as the centre extended its direct control over local politics and administration. Said an opposition politician, "with generals controlling state authority from the top, the devolution plan is an attempt to cover up and postpone the main issue of transferring power to elected representatives".53
Party leaders from across the political divide shared this view. "The federal government encroaches on a number of provincial subjects which it controls through central ministries", said the PML-N's Ahsan Iqbal. "Devolution from the centre to the district will further undermine the principles of federalism and provincial autonomy".54 According to the PPP's Senator Raza Rabbani, "the NRB's devolution system completely bypasses provinces to create over 100 districts that could be directly controlled and manipulated from Islamabad. Provinces have been made redundant".55 The fiercest opposition came from ethno-regional groups in Baluchistan, Sindh and the NWFP, who have traditionally demanded the provincial autonomy guaranteed to Pakistan's federal units by the 1973 constitution.56 In Baluchistan, where the centre's usurpation of provincial political and economic rights had resulted in an armed insurgency in the mid-1970s and opposition to the Punjabi-dominated military is strong, the plan was suspected to be a cover for army efforts to consolidate control over provincial affairs. "The already limited powers of the provinces are being forcefully transferred to the district. The real 52 The NRB has been unwilling or unable to hold elections though it has prepared a draft Islamabad Capital Territory
Local Government Ordinance 2002.
53 ICG interview, Lahore, May 2003.
54 ICG interview, Islamabad, May 2003.
55 ICG interview, Karachi, June 2003.
56 See "PONAM opposes District Government Plan", Dawn,
29 March 2000.
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aim is to undermine provinces, fragment political power and ensure direct control of the military over governance", warned Abdul Hayee Baloch of the Baluchistan National Movement (BNM).57 In the NWFP, where demands for political and fiscal autonomy have also been traditionally suppressed, the Pashtun-dominated Awami National Party (ANP) rejected the plan and compared it to earlier failed military experiments. "The fact that the federal government is taking the decision to hold local elections", said ANP leader Asfandyar Wali Khan, "is indicative of further centralisation of powers and negates the concept of local governance".58 These critiques remain relevant. In 1971, centralisation of power and authoritarian government resulted in bloody civil war and Pakistan's dismemberment. In 2004, the military's propensity to concentrate all power in its hands and its aversion to democratic governance are exacerbating regional divisions and promoting internal tensions. Instead of empowering citizens, the devolution scheme has exacerbated the Pakistan state's institutional crisis by rooting the military in local politics. The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has rejected the military's devolution plan on the ground that its main aim is to "depoliticise governance and to earn a lease of life for the (military) government behind a sort of democratic facade".59 The Commission has also called upon the military-led government "to develop a consensus with political parties on a strategy for its own withdrawal and the country's return to democratic rule".60
57 ICG interview, Quetta, May 2003.
58 Marianna Babar, "ANP Rejects Government's Devolution Program", The News, 4 April 2000.
59 "HRCP Rejects Devolution Plan of CE", Dawn, 25 March 2000.
60 Ibid.
Some of the more radical reforms envisaged in the draft Local Government Plan were diluted in the final version released in August 2000. The nazim lost the crucial powers to appoint and remove the district coordinating officer, the district's most senior civil bureaucrat, for instance. While government sources cited "institutional stability" concerns for this, the military was clearly reluctant to forgo the option of using the civil bureaucracy to control elected officials,61 particularly potential opponents. "The military would have been left with no levers to control the districts in case of political surprises", says a senior government official privy to NRB policy meetings.62 NRB advisors recommended to Musharraf and his corps commanders that the centre control civil service transfers and postings, and thus retain power over local decisions. The initial scheme had also envisaged repeal of the separate electoral system for minorities63 but the final version retained it, with five per cent of seats reserved. It also reduced reserved seats for women from 50 per cent to 33 per cent. Both steps, analysts say, were to accommodate the religious right, traditional allies of the military.64 At the same time, academic qualifications of not less than a secondary school certificate or equivalent were made mandatory for all nazims and naib nazims, ostensibly to create a "more educated and well informed" elected leadership.65 The Final Local Government Plan 2000 also introduced a far-reaching change to the election method for the zila and tehsil nazims and naib nazims. The draft plan had recommended direct elections for both offices on a joint ticket. However, army corps commanders overruled the NRB, and the
61 Others believe that successful lobbying by the bureaucracy was responsible for this change. ICG interviews, Islamabad and Lahore, May-June 2003.
62 ICG interview, Lahore, July 2003.
63 "EC suggests joint electorate to ensure proper representation", Associated Press of Pakistan, 3 March 2000. Widely seen as an attempt to marginalise non-Muslim minorities, the separate electoral system introduced by General Zia reserved a limited number of parliamentary seats for each minority community and restricted the franchise of non-Muslim voters to these seats.
64 ICG countrywide interviews, June 2003.
65 ICG interview, Islamabad, May 2003. Devolution in Pakistan: Reform or Regression? ICG Asia Report N?77, 22 March 2004 Page 11 final plan replaced this with indirect elections whereby directly elected union councillors would choose the nazim and naib nazim.66 The official justification given was that as the district in many cases was much larger than a National Assembly constituency, direct elections could produce complications when national elections were held.67 Otherwise, the crux of the reforms remained more or less intact. The district administration remained answerable to the nazim; provincial line departments were devolved to districts (including education and health); and the divisional tier of administration was abolished. As a result of the new delimitation of administrative boundaries, 97 districts and four city districts, one in each provincial capital, were created.
The government's actual motivation for indirect elections was soon revealed by the local government elections. Indirect choices lend themselves better to rigging. Simply put, it was far easier for the military government to manipulate a constituency of a few hundred union councillors than face the unpredictable vote of over 1 million voters (the mean number in a district).
Political parties were formally banned from the elections. However, most fielded candidates unofficially to take advantage of the partial electoral opening68 and retain a degree of leverage through the nazims in case the military decided to use them as an electoral college for the national presidency.69 Army corps commanders knew full well the risks of a direct election in light of the PPP's largely intact strength. In fact, the direct elections for union nazims
66 ICG interview, Islamabad, June 2003.
67 ICG interview with an NRB official, Islamabad, June 2003.
68 Unlike most parties, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which represents Urdu-speaking migrants and their descendents in urban Sindh, boycotted the local elections, calling them a "legal cover to an unconstitutional government". The MQM opposed the re-demarcation of electoral constituencies and the division of Karachi into eighteen town councils under the devolution plan, which it saw as an attempt by the military government to undermine its voter base. According to Dr. Farooq Sattar of the MQM, "we refuse to be part of a process that usurps the rights of the smaller provinces and divides Karachi along ethnic and linguistic lines". Interview in Herald, June 2001.
69 ICG countrywide interviews with PML-N, PPP and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) leaders, May-June 2003. and councillors, held from December 2000 to July 2001, proved their worst fears. PPP-backed candidates were returned in large numbers to union and tehsil councils across the Punjab and Sindh and even the NWFP. According to a former NRB consultant, "Opting for indirect polls was a calculated move to prevent the PPP (and PML-N) sweeping the district nazim polls in their traditional strongholds".70 The local elections were held in five phases, over almost nine months. This allowed careful monitoring of each phase so that "surprises" could be managed accordingly.71
Opposition parties say the indirect elections were selectively rigged to install pro-military nazims, especially in the Punjab. Rigging took both direct and indirect forms. First, the military manipulated official electoral mechanisms. Since local government is a provincial responsibility under the 1973 constitution, provincial authorities traditionally conduct local bodies elections. However, the Local Government Elections Order 2000 bypassed the provinces, entrusting the task to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which operates, for practical purposes, under federal control. On the eve of the elections, it threatened to disqualify candidates with party affiliations in what was widely seen as a politically motivated move to strengthen militarybacked candidates.72
The military also used coercion and cooption. On 6 July 2001, for example, senior leaders of the promilitary PML-Q were reportedly summoned to the Presidency to help identify suitable zila nazim candidates for key Punjab districts. Instructions were then issued to corps commanders and heads of military and civil intelligence agencies to ensure their victories.73
In Rawalpindi, home to Army Headquarters, pro-PPP or PML-N candidates for district and tehsil nazim were pressured to withdraw and support military-backed candidates. Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, then a PML-N leader and now Federal Information Minister in the PML-Q cabinet, withdrew citing his inability to win under the "circumstances".74 In
70 Ibid.
71 ICG interview, Islamabad, May 2003.
72 ICG countrywide interviews, May-June 2003.
73 Mubashir Zaidi and Ali Hasan, "Old Habits Die Hard", Herald, August 2001.
74 Ibid.
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Jhelum district, the elected nazim was "motivated" to switch to the PML-Q. In Gujarat district, the brother of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, now PML-Q parliamentary leader, was chosen nazim despite a clear PPP majority among the elected union councillors. In Lahore, Punjab's provincial capital, pro-PML-Q candidates openly solicited votes on the basis of support from the military. District administration officers were changed to influence the outcome in PPP Punjabi strongholds. Deputy commissioners and police superintendents were instructed to "encourage" union councillors "to vote for the party committed to General Musharraf's agenda of national reconstruction", a clear euphemism for the PML-Q.75 Similar tactics were deployed in Sindh, the NWFP and Baluchistan. As a consequence, rather than creating the conditions conducive for electing a credible local leadership, the military made further incursions into civil society and undermined the rule of law. Its bid to sideline party politics through non-partisan elections also encouraged the politics of patronage based on tribal, ethnic and sectarian affiliations or even just monetary considerations.
An official reports that, "a curious process of political realignment took place at the district level with party loyalties subordinated to the goal of winning the elections".76 According to Ahmed Rashid, "the nonpartisan nature of the elections and the military's manipulation of the process has exacerbated caste and biradari divisions, further undermining already weak political parties and their representation at the lower levels".77 Since these elections bypassed political parties and weakened party loyalties, electoral competition took place along caste lines. With caste-based candidates pitted against each other, the elections reinforced traditional hostilities at the local level.
Another political commentator said, "the non-party elections for district councils have destroyed the organisational credibility and institutional ethos of political parties. Compromised candidates of expedient multi-party alliances will neither represent
75 ICG countrywide interviews, May-June 2003.
76 ICG interview with a senior field officer, Lahore, June 2003.
77 ICG interview, Khushab, May 2003.
policies nor issues nor ideologies".78 "The flawed local electoral process", according to Nasim Ahir, PPP politician and former federal Interior Minister, "has created new divisions in Pakistani society. The military had left no doubt in anyone's mind that only abiding loyalty to the establishment can pay off politically".79
President Musharraf's oft-repeated pledge to create a new, more credible leadership notwithstanding, his government relied on established but pro-military politicians to win the district nazim elections. A vast majority of the district and tehsil/town nazims elected in the Punjab and Sindh were party activists or belonged to well-known political families.80 Once the military government created the PML-Q as an alternative to the PPP and PML-N, local elections became merely "a spring board for creating an avowedly party-less elite that could be politicised as and when the military needed its support".81
78 Mohammad Waseem, "Elections without a Mandate", Dawn, 5 August 2001.
79 ICG interview, May 2003.
80 Azmat Abbass, "A Punjabi Risotto", Herald, August 2001, pp. 38-40. See also Ali Hassan, "Waderas Take All", ibid, February 2001, pp. 49-51.
81 ICG interview with Adnan Adil, BBC Urdu analyst and correspondent, Lahore, April 2003.
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On 13 August 2001, all four provincial governments issued local government ordinances to operationalise the devolution plan. The irony was not lost on critics of the plan that the "Local Government Ordinance 2001 was prepared by the federal government but each province was directed to notify it as its own law".82
On 14 August, Pakistan's independence day, elected local governments were formed in 97 provincial districts and the four city districts of Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta. Its internal contradictions leave Local Government Ordinance 2001 (LGO) open to varying interpretations and make its implementation difficult. No clear lines of authority delineate the relationship between the nazim and the bureaucratic head of a district, the DCO, who represents the centre. The LGO designates the zila nazim as the head of the district government to be assisted by the DCO83 but many zila nazims complained to ICG that DCOs often ignore them in administrative matters since there is no provision in the LGO to ensure their compliance with local government directives.84 Section 20 makes nazims personally responsible for financial losses and unlawful expenditures.85 Several nazims complain this creates "responsibility without authority" and leaves them vulnerable.86 The manner of implementation suggests that the military government is far more interested in political manipulation than political devolution. The political use of the scheme is best demonstrated by the April 2002 referendum that extended President Musharraf's term by five years with 97.5 per cent approval. The military used the newly installed nazims to help ensure a favourable outcome. They were persuaded or coerced to mobilise their constituents for a pro- Musharraf vote. Many organised and funded rallies in return for economic and political rewards.
82 Kunwar Idris, "From Politicians to the People", Dawn, 3 August 2003.
83 SBNP Local Government Ordinance 2001.
84 ICG countrywide interviews with nazims, May-June 2003.
85 SBNP, Local Government Ordinance 2001.
86 ICG countrywide interviews with nazims, May-June 2003.
According to some reports, union councillors were funded by local governments to campaign on Musharraf's behalf.87 Others were warned of the withdrawal of government support and termination of development projects in their areas if they did not cooperate. Those who refused were also threatened with prosecution for corruption.88 Shah Mehmood Qureshi, then Multan District nazim and a PPP leader, said: "The provincial government wanted me to release money from the district budget for Musharraf's referendum. I refused since I could not transgress my authority".89 This resulted in the provincial government prosecuting him for misuse of public resources.90 Nafisa Shah, nazim of Khairpur district in upper Sindh, refused to attend Musharraf's referendum rally, branding it a political gimmick.91 Since then, district officials are transferred without her knowledge, and development funds are frequently withheld.92 From the start, the military has carefully controlled the pace and direction of devolution. Military personnel have remained intimately involved in the day-to-day affairs of local bodies. District transition teams, formed to facilitate the start of the new structures, were headed by military officers who called the administrative and financial shots. With the structures in place, the military has continued to oversee administration as well as the disbursement of development funds. Several nazims in the Punjab say they have received direct orders from senior officers to undertake certain "visible development projects that could later be cited as achievements of the military government".93
Field officers, as well as union council nazims
interviewed by ICG, say that the elected local
87 Massoud Ansari, "How the Referendum Was Won", Newsline, May 2003.
88 ICG countrywide interviews, May-June 2003.
89 ICG interview, Islamabad, April 2003.
90 The charges were later dropped. Ibid.
91 ICG interview, Khairpur, June 2003.
92 In January 2004, a charge of water-theft was filed against Nafisa Shah. In her statement before the Sindh High Court, she said that pro-PPP nazims, naib nazims and councillors were being pressured to change their political loyalties by threats of false charges would be brought against them. The court directed the Khairpur district police officer to discontinue the practice. "SHC asks DPO not to book councillors in fake cases", The News, 10 December 2003; "Khairpur court grants bail to three Nazims", The News, 16 January 2004.
93 ICG interviews, May-June 2003.
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governments have been empowered only in name and do not enjoy any meaningful administrative or financial autonomy. Of special concern is the imbalance of powers between the directly elected union councillors and the indirectly elected zila nazims. "The actual intent was to consolidate the military's power at the district level through zila nazims", says a union councillor from Quetta. "Below that level, we mostly do what previous councils did: register marriages, deaths and births".94 It was with this primary objective in mind, critics say, that the military's devolution plan has tilted power in local structures in favour of district and tehsil nazims. Elected councils retain only residual functions. "Devolution has stopped at the level of the district nazim", says a Baluchistan district naib nazim. "The [directly elected] district council is a rubber stamp".95
Given the indirect nature of their elections, district nazims are answerable to a narrow "electoral college" of union councillors. "Under the new local government scheme", says one in the Punjab, "the allocation of limited development funds is the central pivot around which political loyalties revolve".96 In several districts ICG visited, councillors claimed that their union councils are neglected in development projects because of their opposition to the nazim.97 The nazim's need to reward supporters "has resulted in a lopsided situation where some union councils are richer and more developed than others".98 Hence the local government scheme has created its own promilitary elite, with strong political and financial stakes in the military-created system. As a zila nazim from the Punjab told ICG, "our loyalties should lie not with a political party or government but with General Musharraf who has really empowered the people at the grassroots".99 Contrary to official claims that the devolution scheme has successfully increased representation of women in government, it has done little to guarantee legal, administrative or financial responsibility for them other than the reservation of 33 per cent of local council seats. "When the local councils are powerless as a whole", asks a woman councillor
94 ICG interview, Quetta, May 2003.
95 ICG interview, Quetta, May 2003.
96 ICG interview, May 2003.
97 ICG countrywide interviews, June 2003.
98 ICG interview with an official in the ministry of local government, Punjab, Lahore, June 2003.
99 ICG interview, Lahore, June 2003.
from Baluchistan, "Can you imagine the extent of our influence on local affairs"?100 Most women councillors interviewed agree. Says one from the NWFP, "We don't get anything. We have no vote. We have no voice".101 Says another from Sindh, "we are mere rubber stamps. The zila council approves schemes and we are asked to vote for them".102 The facts speak for themselves. In the 101 districts, only two nazims are women and both come from traditionally dominant political families in Sindh. Male councillors say that since they have nominated women councillors, these are "unequal".103 "If the military government was really serious about giving women powers rather than appeasing donors", says a woman councillor, "it would have reserved a share of nazim slots at the district and tehsil levels".104 Women councillors complain that the government and NGOs raised their hopes unrealistically. Most say they have received no special training to familiarise them with the provisions of the LGO or the functioning of the local government system. Their participation in Council meetings is made even more difficult in the absence of adequate pay, though male counterparts frequently cite this problem also.105
1. Restructuring Administration
With the promulgation of the four provincial LGOs, the previous system of administration ceased to exist. But while elected governments took the oath of office on 14 August 2001, decentralisation of the administration took far longer. The entire divisional tier that acted both as a coordination link between the district and the province, as well as the appellate authority in the district system, was abolished.106 A new bureaucratic structure, with the district coordination officer (DCO) at the top and executive district officers (EDOs) heading each district department, was put in place. The administrative,
financial and appellate powers of divisional officers
100 ICG interview, Quetta, June 2003.
101 ICG interview, Kohat, March 2003.
102 ICG interview, Sukkur, March 2003.
103 ICG interviews in NWFP and Sindh, March-May 2003.
104 ICG interview, Islamabad, May 2003.
105 ICG country-wide interviews, May-June 2003.
106 The closure of the divisional, regional and zonal offices
commenced on 14 August 2001, with the provision that such
offices would cease to exist by 31 December 2001.
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were devolved to this restructured district administration. Staff from older local councils and municipal bodies was transferred to the district and tehsil levels. Provincial line departments such as education, health, and works were devolved to those levels and new departments, including information technology, law, and literacy, were created. The new system was flawed since it was installed in haste, reflecting the military government's need to meet its own arbitrary independence day target.107 Not enough preparation was devoted to implementation details. The perception within the NRB was that once the system was in place, the military's backing would ensure smooth operation. While transition modalities were worked out on paper and provincial transition mechanisms put in place, little attention was given to the actual dynamics of replacing a well-entrenched system with an unfamiliar, untested one. Even less was paid to the weak administrative capacity at local levels.
Not unsurprisingly, the initial weeks were marked by confusion within the official machinery and among the public. While teething problems were gradually removed, structural problems remain. Many administrative powers previously exercised by the district commissioner remained unspecified in the new system. Poorly defined enforcement mechanisms are another problem. While the tehsil administration enjoys quasi-judicial powers such as imposing fines, its officials find it nearly impossible to enforce their writ without the enforcement powers previously exercised by executive magistrates backed by the police. According to a Baluchistan minister, "in the previous system, the DC had executive magistrates at his disposal who could effectively check prices, food quality and encroachments. There is a vacuum now, and the writ of the state has been weakened".108 The NRB is critical of the "the absence of horizontal integration and the consequent inadequacy of functional co-ordination between the line departments at the division, district, and tehsil levels which lead to inefficiency and corruption, and are the root causes of the crisis of governance at the grass root level".109 Coordination has grown worse. There are no hierarchical linkages between the various levels of local government, and each practically operates in isolation. "Lack of vertical linkages and
107 ICG countrywide interviews, May-June 2001.
108 ICG interview, Quetta, June 2003.
109 LGP, op.cit.
coordination between tehsil and district often lead to jurisdictional conflicts", says Ahmed Wassan, a Lahore town nazim.110 A former Karachi DCO adds, "intra-local government coordination is zero", thus reducing the NRB's "goals of coordinated planning and coherent administration to a practical joke".111 The stand-alone nature of administrative changes at district level is another shortcoming.112 Absent wider civil service reforms at provincial and national levels that address the broader problems of poor skills, low incentives, weak capacity and widespread corruption, the ambitious changes sought by the plan have little chance.
Officers of the District Management Group, who continue to run district and tehsil-level administrations, feel unfairly targeted, not least because they were completely ignored during the process that led to adoption of the devolution plan. And despite NRB claims,113 the district coordination officer and his deputies enjoy wider administrative and financial powers than the former DC, however reduced the new administration's law enforcement and judicial authority may be.
In addition, the current form of administrative decentralisation cannot address the issue of corruption and misuse of office unless there are corresponding changes in the lower structures of land revenue management, that is, at the level of the tehsildar/patwari (pre-independence revenue officials). Says a former federal secretary, "merely re-orienting the upper links in the chain of
exploitation and corruption will only bring cosmetic
changes...the common man still has to deal with the
110 ICG interview, Lahore, June 2003.
111 ICG interview, Karachi, June 2003. The only coordinating mechanism between district and tehsil levels is the Mushawrat (consultation) Committee comprising zila nazims, naib nazims and tehsil nazims. Under the LGO, it can "co-ordinate inter-tehsil development plans and resolve intradistrict disputes". However, it is largely dysfunctional since it is hostage to the political relationship between district and tehsil nazims.
112 "Devolution in Pakistan: Preparing for Service Delivery Improvement", Asian Development Bank, June 2003, at
113 In the proposed LGP, the NRB had planned to induct personnel from other civil service occupational groups and even the private sector.
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horrifying reality of bribing the patwari or the local policeman to get things done".114 Provincial line departments were to be devolved and new ones created at the district level. Aided by a bureaucracy unaccustomed to change, however, provincial governments adopted a go-slow approach in devolving line ministries and relinquishing administrative controls over their staff in the districts. In some districts, several departments remained under provincial control for over a year. "There is need for the real devolution of departments of the provincial government such as health and education", says Malik Asad, district nazim of Kohat in the NWFP. "So long as the provincial government retains control, there will only be surface devolution".115 The precarious position of the city district government of Karachi is a case in point. Under section 182 (3) (a) of the LGO, "the control of the development authorities, water and sanitation agencies and solid waste management bodies was to be vested in a city district government".116 Nevertheless, citizens continue to face serious water and sanitation problems, and the Karachi Sewerage and Water Supply Board (KSWSB), the civic agency delivering water and sanitation services, remains outside the operational control of district authorities. In several poor localities of the city, water shortages have led angry residents to demonstrate outside town council offices.117 Elected officials fear water riots if problems persist. Says Muslim Pervez, a senior presiding officer of the city district council, "people bring their complaints to us, and we have no powers over the water board. I am afraid things could easily spiral out of control". 118 District authorities in Gwadar, a remote coastal district in Baluchistan, face similar problems. The provincial chief minister heads the governing body that controls the Gwadar Development Authority, and a provincially appointed director general acts as head of administration.119 The provincial government also retains control over the works and services department while staff salaries are deducted from the
114 ICG interview, Islamabad, June 2003.
115 ICG interview, Kohat, March 2003.
116 SBNP, Local Government Ordinance of 13 August 2001, Government of Pakistan.
117 "Water Shortage May Cause Riots in Orangi", Dawn, 28 March 2003.
118 ICG interview, Karachi, 23 May 2003.
119 Amanullah Kasi, "Gwadar Development Authority Bill Passed", Dawn, 29 July 2003.
account of the district government. Says Babu Gulab, a zila nazim, "for the last two years, I have felt powerless in the face of the continued provincial control over the district's affairs".120
2. Devolving Corruption?
Another key problem with the devolution scheme is the lack of checks and balances between and across the various levels of district government. There is a virtual absence of accountability of district nazims. The provincial Local Government Commission can initiate special audits and inspections of district governments121 but these can be at best sporadic and are not a viable substitute to permanent, institutionalised checks and balances at district level. Technically, the zila council can be an effective check on the nazim, and through its monitoring committees on the district government as a whole. By law, the council approves by-laws, taxation proposals, annual development plans and the district budget. The extensive range of financial controls and their effective exercise, however, remain contingent on the political relationship between nazims and the council headed by the naib nazim. Since the nazim and naib nazim are elected on a joint ticket, the former can wield enormous influence over the council without enduring corresponding legislative checks on his authority.122
The joint ticket was conceived with the ostensible goal that the naib nazim would be the link between the nazim and the council. But this interface is under severe strain because of the gross imbalance of powers between the two offices. "The naib nazim is a show piece who can't even sign a legal document", says one of those officials.123 In districts where the relationship is antagonistic, the naib nazim can simply refuse to summon the council when required by the nazim. In such cases, the nazim, as executive head of the district, often runs the government without consulting the council, which can at best censure his actions through non-binding resolutions. Under the LGO, the district coordination officer is the principal accounting officer of the district
120 ICG interview, Gwadar, May 2003.
121 The commission is headed by the provincial minister for local government and can initiate annual and special inspections and audits of local governments.
122 ICG interview, Islamabad, June 2003.
123 ICG interview with a naib nazim, Lahore, July 2003.
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government. He is, however, responsible to the public accounts committee of the provincial assembly in financial matters, not to the nazim or the zila council. He also heads the district development committee (DDC),124 which can approve development schemes up to Rs.5 million (U.S.$90,000) "The new DCO is the financial kingpin of the district", says a provincial minister in the Punjab, "with access to a larger financial pie than the former district commissioner but without any substantial changes in contracting or other financial procedures".125 Consequently, corruption opportunities have increased. "The checks and balances system envisaged under devolution is practically absent or operationally ineffective", says an EDO (Finance), in the Punjab. "This has increased the already rampant and unchecked corruption" in the province.126
Under the LGO, elected monitoring committees of zila, tehsil and union councils are responsible for reporting administrative malpractice and corruption in local governments to the nazim for appropriate action. But these committees exist mostly on paper. While many have been elected, there are no financial or administration provisions for their functioning. The head of a district education monitoring committee in Punjab's Khushab district told ICG, "We have no resources or capacity to monitor governmental functions. Besides, there are no official rules of business that govern our operations". Elected councillors interviewed in Baluchistan, the NWFP and Sindh cited bureaucratic resistance as a key stumbling block: "Executive district officers who are supposed to furnish us with information rarely respond to our queries since they know we have no powers over them".127
The tehsil is the designated level at which most local municipal services such as water, sanitation, and sewerage are delivered. The tehsil municipal administration (TMA) is also responsible for awarding contracts for signboards and advertisements, an area prone to opportunities for rent seeking. Since there are virtually no financial checks on the tehsil administration, and it can assign or contract out any of its functions to private and public sector
124 In the NWFP, district development committees were initially headed by nazims but are now under district coordination officers.
125 ICG interview, Lahore, June 2003.
126 ICG interview, Lahore, June 2003.
127 ICG interview with a zila council member, Peshawar, May 2003.
organisations, allegations of corruption in contracts are rife. In theory, the zila nazim can initiate inspections of tehsil and municipal administrations but in practice, they have neither the time nor the enforcement machinery. According to a senior official in the Sindh Ministry of Local Government, "corruption is up with a new mafia of nazims, tehsil officers and contractors emerging under the devolution plan that works in unchecked collusion with respect to awards of public contracts".128 Access to information can enhance transparency and accountability by creating pressure on the government to take into account citizen preferences when reaching decisions. While the devolution plan claimed commitment to "information empowerment", public and media access to information about the actions and performance of government is still subject to tight controls exercised by government. "Devolution will remain meaningless without an effective Freedom of Information Act", says a newspaper editor in Baluchistan. "The presence of legal obstructions like the Official Secrets Act practically preclude the possibility of access to any information unless explicitly declared public by the government of the day".129 The LGO envisages "transparent, automated information systems at all levels in each district", but little provision has been made for the lack of local information technology capacity, infrastructure and resources.
3. Development and Service Delivery
The devolution plan emphasised community involvement in development through creation of citizen community boards (CCBs). Nevertheless, the NRB took almost two years to frame by-laws. While many districts in the Punjab and some in Sindh have registered many CCBs, they can receive project-based cost sharing support from local governments only up to 80 per cent. "In rural districts," says a zila nazim from Punjab, "it is impossible to generate the remaining 20 per cent funds from communities who can barely make ends meet".130
The cost sharing provision, many officials and analysts believe, effectively works against the official LGO policy of "energizing the local communities through voluntary, proactive and self-help
128 ICG interview, Karachi, May 2003.
129 ICG interview, Quetta, May 2003.
130 ICG interview, May 2003.
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initiatives".131 An observer says that, "it seems that the concept of CCBs is more a function of the flowery rhetoric of the writers of the devolution plan aimed mostly at international donor agencies and the domestic NGO community than ground realities or real intent".132
Most nazims interviewed by ICG, however, argue that elected local councils have improved public access to official business. Devolution has certainly reduced the gap between state and citizen since local councillors and elected nazims are easily accessible, unlike a district commissioner. This could facilitate the local solution of day-to-day problems that were previously managed by bureaucrats in provincial capitals. In addition, budgets, prepared at district level, can reflect local priorities. Development schemes (roads, sanitation, water supply) can be locally planned and executed, thus eliminating delays involved in getting approvals from provincial or federal authorities.
Yet, many senior federal and provincial as well as local government officials told ICG that the system is not working, citing as evidence the steady deterioration in delivery of basic social services like education and health. According to one federal health official, "nazims tend to focus on quick impact projects like sanitation and sewerage rather than longer term investments in education or health". 133 Says a critic:
the plan may have facilitated the creation of new facilities and infrastructure but so did Ayub's Basic Democracy system. The real test is visible improvements in the basic living standards and services of the people. There is no evidence of that happening anytime soon.134 Others point out that municipal infrastructure, especially in urban areas, has come under enormous pressure as tehsil administrations try to cope with the expansion of their functions to rural areas. "Mitigating the rural-urban divide is a good idea in the long run. But at the moment, it has undermined service delivery", believes a tehsil nazim in Sindh province. Many nazims typically blame the shortage
131 ICG countrywide interviews, May-June 2003.
132 ICG interview, Karachi, June 2003. Both the devolution plan and the LGO also envisage village and neighborhood councils that are yet to be defined or created.
133 ICG interview, Islamabad, July 2003.
134 ICG interview, Karachi, June 2003.
of development funds and the lack of staff capacity. "Whatever development funds we get", says Amjad Noon, zila nazim of Sargodha in the Punjab, "flow mostly through federally or provincially funded schemes, leaving districts little leeway over the planning, implementation and budgeting".135 Shortage of funds is a serious problem with many district and tehsil administrations struggling to pay the monthly salaries of employees. In the absence of any reliable national data, it is hard to reach definitive conclusions on the impact of devolution on service delivery but the widespread perception remains that it has done no better, if not worse, than the system it replaced.136
The bulk of local government resources come as fiscal transfers from provincially appointed provincial finance commissions (PFC) -- 98 per cent in some cases. Provinces transfer some 40 per cent of their total receipts to local governments, fuelling already widespread perceptions of encroachment on provincial autonomy.
District governments, however, have limited discretion over their budgetary resources. Over 80 per cent of the money transferred is for salaries and cannot be used for any other purposes. Except in Punjab, salaries are still paid from provincial accounts.137 Only the non-salary component (utilities and other recurring costs), a fraction of the total expenditure, is transferred to district-controlled accounts. 138
By and large, transfers are population rather than needs-based.139 Population estimates remain problematic in light of the controversial nature of the census the army conducted in 1998. In Baluchistan, for instance, the Pashtun Khwa Milli Awami Party called for a boycott of the census. Rahim Kakar, the
135 ICG interview, Sargodha, May 2003.
136 ICG countrywide interviews, May-June 2003.
137 Nick Manning et al., "Devolution in Pakistan: Preparing for Service Delivery Improvements", draft working paper prepared for the Forum on Inter-governmental Relations in Pakistan, 27-29 June 2003, p. 33.
138 Ibid.
139 In Sindh, 40 per cent of the transfers in 2002 were based
on a backwardness index that factored in population, underdevelopment,
fiscal effort, revenue generation capacity, and
expenditure requirements.
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Quetta City district nazim, said, "this resulted in an unfair PFC award for Quetta since the census grossly underestimated the city's actual population".140 Under the LGO, local governments can raise additional revenues through specified taxes. Previously the main source of taxation revenue for local councils was the octroi (urban) and zila tax (in rural areas) on the movement of goods in and out of the territorial jurisdiction of the council. Under IMF directives, the federal government abolished this in 1998 to remove tax distortions. To make up for the revenue loss, 2.5 per cent of the revenue generated by the centre from the new general sales tax is now allocated to provinces. Provinces transfer this directly to the tehsil administrations. Without an octroi tax, however, the taxation base of local governments (especially urban councils) is severely circumscribed. Says an economist in the Federal Planning Commission, "The LGO does not significantly increase the tax base of the district governments, without which meaningful devolution will remain elusive".141 The tehsil administration can collect the more lucrative urban immovable property tax (UIPT) and transfer of property tax.142 Any proposal for new taxation, however, requires approval of the relevant provincial authority.143 "Previous councils were more financially autonomous as they could raise substantive taxes", says a former chairman of the zila council and now a town nazim in the Punjab. "This is devolution with a centralised financial system".144 Financially starved, many districts are centralising taxation powers. In Karachi, for instance, the city district government collects the fee on advertisement billboards and posters, otherwise a tehsil fee.
In August 2002, President Musharraf promulgated Police Order 2002,145 under which the district police officer (DPO) is responsible to the zila nazim for
140 ICG interview, Quetta, May 2203
141 ICG interview, Islamabad, June 2003.
142 The UIPT is collected by the district government on behalf of the tehsil for a 10 per cent fee.
143 In the Punjab, this provincial check was introduced after a plethora of overlapping toll fees and user charges were imposed by union and tehsil administrations.
144 ICG interview, Lahore, June 2003.
145 Interim changes in the district police set up as envisaged in LGP 2000 were implemented through the Police (Amendment) Order 2001 of 14 August 2001.
police functions "other than administration of the district police, investigation of criminal cases and police functions relating to prosecution".146 The nazim writes an annual performance report on the DPO. Emulating the Japanese National Safety Commission system, the Police Order calls for establishment of oversight bodies with both elected and appointed members at district, provincial and national levels. It also creates an independent prosecution service to act as an additional check and balance on the police, who have investigation as a separate responsibility. But the Japanese police system has been implanted in Pakistan without account being taken of the political and administrative differences between the countries. The Japanese system is predicated on institutional mechanisms that shield the police from political pressure and ensure civilian control. In Pakistan, the police are highly politicised, inefficient and corrupt. Despite provisions for police autonomy on assignments, these remain centrally or provincially controlled. Law and order is a provincial responsibility, and the new federally enacted police order has understandably engendered apprehension and resistance among provincial authorities. More importantly, since assuming power in October 1999, the Musharraf government has given no practical indication that it intends to reform the police. On the contrary, like its military predecessors, it has deployed police for regime ends. This includes using law-enforcement agencies to obtain favourable results in local elections and the presidential referendum as well as to harass political opponents. The military's failure to implement police reforms is evidence of its unwillingness to hand over law enforcement to public representatives. According to a police official, "while much was made of the purportedly historic nature of police reforms, there appears to be no enthusiasm within the senior military echelons to back police reforms in substance".147 Provincial reservations were cited as reasons for delay in implementation of reforms but the military has conveniently transferred responsibility for enacting those reforms to a powerless elected government. Sections of Police Order 2002 that grant powers to the police have indeed been enforced but areas that
146 Police Order 2002.
147 ICG interview, Islamabad, June 2002.
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prescribe accountability remain poorly implemented. While the district commissioner's lateral control has been removed, the district police officer remains only tangentially responsible to the nazim for law and order. Previously, the DC had been positioned to intervene on behalf of the public to redress grievances. "Though the DC's operational check on the police had been diluted over the years", says a former police official, "periodic visits to the police station did bring relief for those in unlawful detention".148
Technically, the district nazim can inspect police stations to check illegal detentions but except for districts in which individual police officers have personally established a good working relationship with the nazim, district police authorities are widely accused of running a parallel government. Says Khairpur nazim Nafisa Shah, "I have no information about the activities of the police. Unless a cooperative police officer comes along, I fear the police will continue to operate without any check or accountability".149
The viability of police reforms depends largely on how the planned safety commission system evolves. Initial signs are discouraging. While provincial governments have notified the creation of district safety commissions,150 few are properly constituted, fewer still operational.151 These latter, including the one in Quetta, owe their success mainly to the personal involvement of individual police officers.152 Provincial safety commissions and the police complaints authorities are yet to be created. Since the promulgation of the Police Order, a corrupt and violence-prone force has been allowed a free hand without external accountability. In fact, selective implementation of the order in an overall environment of the absence of rule of law has
148 ICG interview, Lahore, July 2003.
149 ICG interview, Khairpur, May 2003.
150 According to the Police Order 2002, the provincial government is to establish a public safety commission in each district with eight, ten or twelve members depending upon size and population. The zila council is to elect half the members. The other half (independent members) are to be appointed by the governor from a list recommended by the district selection panel. One third of both elected and appointed members are to be women.
151 ICG interviews, Hyderabad and Hala, January 2004.
152 Shoaib Suddle, the current chief of police in Baluchistan, was a leading member of both the federal interior ministry's focus group on police reforms and the NRB's police reforms think tank.
resulted in a sharp rise in reported police excesses, crimes, and deteriorating law and order.153 Even if the safety commissions were constituted as envisaged, questions would remain about their effectiveness. The Police Order gives the commissions vague powers to approve policing plans and encourage public-police cooperation. A commission can only ask the district police officer "in writing" to remedy of public complaints. It has no independent enforcement mechanisms or powers of inspection.154 The federally appointed provincial governor selects half the commission's members. More importantly, the governor can remove members "on his own volition" on several grounds, including "involvement in activities prejudicial to the ideology, interest, security, unity, solidarity, peace and integrity of Pakistan", a euphemism for arbitrary removal. Police officers as well as many district nazims interviewed by ICG still support the new reforms. Nazims pointed out that nazim-police coordination helped keep relative calm in the wake of countrywide protests against the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan. "During the violenceprone month of Muharram when Sunni-Shia tensions are running high", said Amjad Noon, nazim of Sargodha district in Punjab "the police and district government worked hand in hand to avert any untoward incidents".155
Police officials say that DMG officers who remain unwilling to shed their colonial powers are maligning the Police Order. There is no doubt that the previous system was outdated and contrary to all principles of 153 Noting that torture was widespread, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan documented several cases in 2003 and added that, to its knowledge, no police official was punished. In a written statement submitted to the UN Commission on Human Rights, the South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre claimed that citizens were arbitrarily arrested and detained; torture and harassment in custody were common, and at least 100 persons died from police torture annually. Ope23/02/2004.
154 The commission can direct the district police officer in writing to ensure registration of a first information report on receiving complaint of any unjustified delay by the head of a police station and report in 48 hours on the action taken by him. On receiving a public complaint against a police officer, it can ask the district officer to act within a specified time. It can also form a team to ascertain the facts and recommend action to the district police officer.
155 ICG interview, Sargodha, May 2003.
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modern policing. "The Police Order has removed the colonial system of administrative controls over the police", said the senior superintendent of police in Quetta. "Investigation has been separated; we can now work more efficiently if given the resources and political backing".156 There is, in fact, a consensus among senior law enforcement officials interviewed by ICG on the need to see the Police Order implemented in letter and spirit. At the same time, they express doubts about its legitimacy and viability given its association with a military regime. According to a former police service interior secretary, "for the police to function effectively, the society has to ensure that the Constitution is honoured by all. With the military in control, the government is no longer accountable to the people. This creates a precarious situation, particularly for the agency which is responsible for law enforcement".157
156 ICG interview, Quetta, May 2003.
157 I.M. Mohsin, "Police Reforms Delayed", Daily Times, 31 March 2003.
When the military took power on 12 October 1999, Pakistan was nearly bankrupt. The U.S. had imposed military and economic sanctions as a result of Pakistan's pursuit of nuclear weapons. After a series of nuclear tests in May 1998, new loans from the IMF and World Bank were suspended, and Japan, its largest bilateral donor, also froze aid and made resumption contingent on accession to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The coup itself triggered further "democracy sanctions".158 Confirming that the UK had frozen all direct development assistance, Secretary for International Development Clare Short said:
Pakistan needs a democratic government, which is transparent and accountable....obviously, we cannot provide development assistance to the military authorities in Pakistan. No new funds for programs linked to governmental institutions will be made available, and all our specialists who have been advising the Government have stopped work.159
The military required urgent and immediate access to the international financial system for its overall corporate interests and regime survival. As international pressure for return to civilian rule mounted, the Musharraf government pledged a series of devolution reforms both to "distract the international community from its coercive actions and to appease donor agencies that favour decentralisation".160
Well aware of the hostile international environment, the military government appropriated the donorfriendly lexicon of "good governance", "devolution", "grassroots empowerment", and "bottom-up reforms". In this it had the support of a politically vocal coalition of local NGO leaders. It was also more than coincidental that the modes, methods and
158 U.S. nuclear proliferation sanctions were imposed under the Pressler and Glenn Amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act, 1961. U.S. democracy sanctions were imposed under the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, Section 508, which bars Washington from providing militaryor economic assistance to non-elected governments.
159 BBC, "UK Halts Aid to Pakistan," 15 October 1999
160 James Manor, "The Political Economy of Democratic Decentralisation", Washington, D.C, The World Bank, 1999, p. 39.
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rhetoric of the Musharraf devolution plan closely resembled decentralisation reforms advocated by some donor agencies.161
Long before the 1999 coup, donors had led the debate on the need for decentralisation.162 The World Bank's "Framework for Civil Service Reforms in Pakistan" had strongly recommended "devolution of substantive authority" to lower tiers of government. The Bank had also strongly emphasised the need for "re-examining the roles of District Commissioners and their Deputies" and for "safeguards to prevent their encroachment on local governments and intervention in their affairs".163
In February 1998, the Planning Commission's good governance group (G3) had conducted four provincial seminars on local government with UNDP assistance. Legislators, civil servants, NGO leaders and aid officials held extensive discussions. The World Bank urged the government to draw on this "consensus building process" and another of its reports, "Supporting Fiscal Decentralisation in Pakistan", to "make early strategic decisions on devolution".164 Soon after the 1999 coup, the UNDP, sensing an opportunity, approached the military government with generous offers of technical assistance.165 Donor officials based in Pakistan sought to redirect their pre-coup earmarked funds to Musharrraf's "democratic reforms" agenda. With little else on which to base its external legitimacy and anxious to co-opt donors, the military government made calculated overtures to enlist support for its "bottom up" reconstruction of Pakistan.
161 Indeed, the NRB devolution plan virtually mirrored the latest development policy discourse in calling for "devolution of political power, decentralisation of administrative authority, de-concentration of functions, redistribution of resources and enhanced representation". LGP, op. cit.
162 The new consensus in donor policy on good governance includes decentralisation as a key component. It is seen as a means of shifting power and authority from the centralised state to local levels and civil society, increasing governmental transparency and accountability, and making delivery of social services more efficient. Manor, op cit.
163 World Bank, "Framework for Civil Service Reforms in Pakistan", 1998, p. 54.
164 Ibid., p. 53.
165 Aid officials ICG interviewed in Islamabad made no effort to hide their frustration with Pakistan's elected government in the 1990s, which they saw as corrupt and inefficient.
166 Other short-term international consultants, and inputs, including information and communication technology support, were also provided, 15 April 2003.at
At a crucial meeting held soon after the coup, in November 1999, the National Reconstruction Bureau chairman, Lt. General Tanvir Naqvi, requested UNDP to coordinate support to the government's "national reconstruction reform process" from other UN programs, as well as multilateral and bilateral partners. Thereafter the military government relocated the G3 group to the NRB and made it the focal point for external assistance to the devolution plan. UNDP re-activated its U.S.$1.89 million support to the G3 project, providing national consultants as well as a senior international governance advisor for NRB's devolution think tank.166 UNDP advisors were given unprecedented access to high-powered NRB policy planning meetings. They drafted background papers, policy briefs and substantial parts of the original devolution plan. Through the Institutional Development Task Force, an inter-aid agency body on governance issues (renamed the Governance Group), UNDP also provided the main platform for donor coordination and discussion on the devolution plan.167
As General Musharraf consolidated his grip on the state, initial scepticism in some aid agencies over support to a military government gave way to heightened enthusiasm over the opportunity to reshape and redefine Pakistani governmental structures. Donors like the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) committed their "democratic governance programs" to the military's devolution project.168 In due course, multilateral financial institutions like the Asian Development Bank dedicated substantial resources for "the government's far-reaching Political Devolution and Administrative
167 In addition to support from its regular country programs, UNDP has spearheaded an inter-donor advocacy campaign to establish a U.S.$300 million Devolution Trust for Community Empowerment to "activate the community participation elements of devolution".
168 For instance, CIDA's Democratic Governance Program supports almost exclusively "the devolution of power, the decentralisation of administration, and the participation of citizens in local governance", which is expected to lead to "improved local governance policies and policy implementation, effective local democratic institutions and practices, and effective citizens' voice in setting local priorities and delivering social services". Canadian International Development Agency website, at
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Decentralisation Plan, among the boldest governance reforms ever undertaken by a developing country".169 As these and other donors re-routed their governance resources to build Pakistani democracy from below, the military government was dismantling it from the top. With General Musharraf simultaneously occupying the offices of chief executive (and later president), chief of army staff, chairman joint chiefs of staff and defence minister, military officers were appointed to top civilian posts in the federal and provincial governments. Political rallies were banned; parliament remained dissolved, and the constitution was put in abeyance. On 26 January 2000, the chief justice and half the bench of the Supreme Court were arbitrarily removed when they refused to take an oath under the military government's provisional constitution.
This destruction of the independence of the courts and the separation of powers did not change donor policy. In fact, donors continued to support Musharraf's devolution of power scheme even after the military resorted to coercive tactics in the elections for nazims. After 11 September 2001, even the international community's rhetorical emphasis on a return to democracy in Pakistan was put on the back burner as the Musharraf government joined the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Emboldened by his international acceptance, Musharraf used the newly created local governments to manipulate the run up to the national elections of October 2002.
Despite extensive "pre-poll rigging" that led international observers to censure the 2002 electoral process as "seriously flawed",170 UNDP, DFID,CIDA and the Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation (NORAD), continued to back a U.S.$5 million umbrella project on "Supporting Democratic Electoral Processes in Pakistan (SDEPP)" to provide "the basis for coordinated international donor
169 Asian Development Bank, Press Release. "Helping Pakistan's Devolution Program Improve Delivery of Social Services", Manila, 21 November 2002, at The ADB funds a U.S.$300 million "Support to Devolution Program" that mainly provides budgetary support to the Pakistan government.
170 See the report of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) at
community support for the preparation of truly democratic elections".171
Donor agencies such as UNDP also supported the NRB's proposed constitutional amendments to "provide constitutional coverage to and ensure stability of the devolution initiatives".172 Actually, only a small fraction of the constitutional amendments package, the August 2002 Legal Framework Order (LFO), relates to devolution. Many features of that package, now enshrined in the constitution through the 17th amendment, are widely seen as an attempt to retain direct military rule. Donors have not been ignorant of the military's intentions. A senior governance advisor of a multilateral bank says, "we knew that regime security was primary to devolution; it was obvious to us that the military was circumventing provinces to create new constituencies for local support while reaping the added benefit of donor support".173 Another aid official says, "we did and still have serious reservations about the local government plan but we could either equivocate and risk reform failure, or put our money behind [the military government] to gain a voice".174
Many other donors gave their support apparently more enthusiastically and are much more sanguine about the military's reformist zeal. According to a senior DFID official, "mass empowerment was the real motivation behind devolution. Colonialism and centralisation, twin evils of Pakistan's bureaucratic institutions, can't be abolished overnight -- 101 elected districts are the answer".175 This unquestioning acceptance by some donors of Musharraf's "readiness to confront issues that eluded the country since independence",176 has led many to violate even their own declared goals of "local ownership" and "stakeholder consultations". While the overall objective of the UNDP Governance Program in Pakistan, for instance, is "to create an enabling environment within which the people of Pakistan can influence the direction and conduct of
171 For a project synopsis see
172 UNDP "Governance and Gender Unit Quarterly Progress
Report: April -June 2002", at, 2 April
173 ICG interview, Islamabad, June 2003.
174 ICG interview, Islamabad, June 2003.
175 ICG Interview, Islamabad, June 2003.
176 Asian Development Bank, " Pakistan: Country Strategy
and Program 2002-2006", at
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their governing institutions",177 political parties, civil society organisations, professional associations, and even the civilian bureaucracy were largely bypassed in the policy planning process that eventually led to adoption of the devolution plan.178 Throughout the formulation, design, dissemination and implementation of that plan, UNDP even overlooked existing institutional arrangements, including the ministry of local government, opting instead to support the NRB.179
This experience is a cautionary tale that in extreme situations, reforms carried out according to donor specifications can reinforce authoritarian regimes and undermine democracy.180 In the specific example of Musharraf's devolution, donor acceptance of the official rhetoric of good governance has, as a practical matter, undermined the democratic transition.
Although criticised by most Pakistani political parties and independent human rights groups, donor acceptance and ownership of the devolution plan has certainly endowed the military's local government system with its own momentum and an otherwise missing semblance of legitimacy. With low levels of internal accountability, donor funding not only contradicts declared objectives of supporting democratic governance but also wastes scarce resources. The lack of domestic legitimacy means there are high risks of failure and adverse political impact. No matter how unintended, by supporting the regime's devolution plan, donors have reinforced the military's hold on power.
177 UNDP Governance Unit, at
178 Funded by the Asia Foundation, the only visible attempt to solicit public views was a series of "People's Assemblies" held under the auspices of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
179 UNDP continues to support the devolution concept: "The devolution project is one of the fundamental projects in Pakistan in alleviating poverty. The UNDP stands behind it 100 per cent and will continue to support the initiative". ICG interview, Farhan Sabi, head of the UNDP governance unit in Islamabad, 22 March 2004.
180 Carrie Meyer, "The Irony of Donor Efforts to Build Institutions: A Case Study From the Dominican Republic", Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, No. 148, 1992, pp.628-44.
To protect the devolution scheme from interference by elected governments, Musharraf's LFO placed the four provincial Local Government Ordinances in that part of the 1973 constitution (the Sixth Schedule) that can only be amended with consent of the president.181 It was also required that provincial governments "shall, by law, establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected local representatives".182 This provision creates the false impression that devolution remains within a provincial framework but its protected constitutional status effectively precludes provinces from amending the LGO.
With this constitutional cover, the military government could rely on its local clients ensure a favourable outcome in the October 2002 national elections. In the Punjab, where a majority of district and tehsil nazims could be counted on to support military-backed candidates for the national and provincial assemblies, they were encouraged to mobilise support openly for the pro-Musharraf PML-Q in return for generous developmental funds. Elsewhere, nazims were threatened and intimidated to support PML-Q candidates. In parts of Sindh and Baluchistan, wholesale transfers of district officers were ordered to blunt the authority of "hostile" nazims.183 Local governments proved instrumental in the military government's manipulation of these general elections, which international human rights and election observer groups termed "seriously flawed".184 With the military's backing, the PML-Q obtained the most seats in the National Assembly and the Punjab Provincial Assembly. "The blatant political use of
181 Under Article 268 (2) of the 1973 Constitution, the laws specified in the sixth schedule may not be altered, repealed or amended without the previous sanction of the president.
182 Legal Framework Order 2002, Chief Executive's Secretariat, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad, August 2002.
183 ICG interviews, May-June 2002.
184 See the final report of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) to Pakistan, at Also see Human Rights Watch Background Briefing, "Pakistan: Entire
Election Process Deeply Flawed", 9 October 2002, at Devolution in Pakistan: Reform or Regression? ICG Asia Report N?77, 22 March 2004 Page 25
elected councils in the general elections has proved beyond any doubt that the local bodies had been primarily created for that very purpose", said Afrasiab Khattak, then Chairman of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.185
With the transfer of power to the elected national and provincial governments in November 2002, there are growing frictions between elected officials and local governments, which are perceived as tainted by their association with the military government and its political machinations. Elected politicians see in local bodies an alternative power structure that undercuts their authority. They have just cause since the power dynamics have been radically altered by the military's politically motivated delimitation of both provincial and national electoral constituencies (especially in the Punjab) and the installation of nazims. In Lahore, for instance, the area under the control of one town nazim includes several provincial and national electoral districts. Members of provincial assemblies (MPAs) and the National Assembly (MNAs) also feel that nazims have usurped their legitimate right to oversee development projects in their constituencies.186 In interviews with ICG, many legislators stress that their access to development projects is essential because Pakistani voters expect their representatives to deliver patronage and resolve their day-to-day problems. According to a pro-military PML-Q MNA from the NWFP, "If I tell my constituents that sanitation, water supply or police matters are now the responsibility of local governments, they turn around and say: we voted for you, not the nazim".187 An MNA of the same party and from a northern Punjab district asks, "if I don't deliver on public demands, what is my political future?"188
185 ICG telephone interview, November 2002.
186 The involvement of legislators in local development schemes dates back to General Zia's time, when state funds were disbursed to loyal "non-partisan" parliamentarians to create a political clientele for the military ruler. Systematic suppression of partisan loyalties and state patronage of corruption under authoritarian rule have gradually replaced issue-based political competition with easier to manage, personality-based patronage politics.
187 ICG interview, June 2003.
188 ICG interview, July 2003.
Opposition legislators from the PPP and PML-N agree, adding that President Musharraf had reserved many public policy areas such devolution under the LFO. The President retains his control over the devolution scheme after its inclusion in the Sixth schedule of the constitution. This seriously limits the policy making options of politicians and encourages them to focus on local as opposed to regional or national issues.
To assuage their demands for participation in local development schemes, the PML-Q central government decided in late November 2002 to allocate special funds to provincial and national legislators that would enable them to undertake development projects in their own constituencies. This reinforced the public perception that legislators remain the appropriate address for resolving local problems, not nazims. While they can only identify electrification, gas and telecommunication projects, the official reintroduction of their developmental role has spurred local authorities to match them project for project.189 In many districts where the political relationship between nazims and legislators is less than friendly, energies are consumed by the need to build independent political capital, often through parallel and hence wasteful developmental schemes. In the Punjab, Sindh and NWFP, rivalries between nazims and legislators often cut across party lines. In many districts of the Punjab, for instance, even nazims and provincial or national legislators from the ruling and pro-Musharraf PML-Q are at loggerheads since the military either deliberately supported, or at least acquiesced in, the victories of mutually hostile candidates at the different tiers of government. According to a PML-Q national legislator, "I sense a deliberate strategy on the part of the federal government to keep MNAs embroiled in a competition with the nazim, lest they begin to challenge the military's role at the centre".190 An analyst agrees: "Since divide-and-rule tactics are a favourite with the military, creating the district government as a rival power centre was part of a deliberate strategy to keep politicians and nazims at each other's throats and thus take pressures off the centre where the generals rule".191
Wary of these growing tensions, Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali instructed the NRB in
189 ICG interviews, June 2003.
190 ICG interview, Islamabad, July 2003.
191 ICG interview, July 2003.
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February 2003 to work out a mutually acceptable mechanism for coordination between elected members of the local governments and parliamentarians. Several proposals are on the table (including participation of elected members in district development committee meetings), but the tussle between different tiers of government shows no signs of abating in the absence of any effective mechanisms for dispute resolution.192
Provincial and local governments were on collision course from the start. Most opposition politicians see devolution as Islamabad's infringement on an already reduced sphere of provincial autonomy. "Devolution was bulldozed over the provinces by a military regime without taking political parties into confidence", says Shah Mehmood Qureshi of the largest opposition party, the PPP. "It was only a matter of time before the various tiers of government locked horns with each other".193 Most elected provincial governments, including those controlled by the ruling PML-Q, also view devolution with varying degrees of suspicion.
Provincial demands range from amendments to abolition of the Local Government Ordinance. "The LGO is silent on many issues and requires adjustments", notes Raja Basharat, Punjab Minister for Local Government."194 A minister in Baluchistan from the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA, the sixparty religious alliance) says, "Islamabad has usurped the administrative, legislative and financial powers of the provinces in the name of devolution which should be abolished".195
Above all, there is consensus across the political spectrum that the local government scheme cannot work without adjusting it to Pakistan's federal parliamentary system. Even in the Punjab where a majority of district nazims remain loyal to the ruling PML-Q, Chief Minister Pervez Elahi concedes that "certain changes would have be made in the local government law to create linkages between the
provincial and the district governments".196 In
192 ICG interviews, Hyderabad, January 2004.
193 ICG interview, Islamabad, April 2003.
194 ICG interview, Lahore, June 2003.
195 ICG interview, Quetta, June 2003.
196 "Devolution plan to be strengthened: Pervez", Dawn, 17
December 2002.
February 2003, the Punjab government created a devolution committee to address these problems and suggest reforms. Headed by the provincial minister for local government, the body includes provincial legislators and nazims.
Such ad hoc measures can hardly rectify the distortions that have resulted from the military's manipulation of the political process. By purportedly depoliticising governance, for instance, the military has reinforced loyalties along the lines of biradari (caste, tribe, sub-region), thus actually aggravating social and political divisions in society. Centralised control, the absence of the rule of law, and patronage-based politics are promoting corruption and have increased the potential for confrontation and conflict between the federal units and the centre and within the provinces.
In provinces where nazims and elected governments come from different political parties, the problems are predictably more severe. Notes an analyst, "no sooner had elected governments assumed office than political rivalries, forced underground by authoritarian manipulation, resurfaced with a vengeance".197 In the NWFP, the MMA government is dominated by the Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI), which had boycotted the local government elections. Ever since, zila nazims say, the MMA government has attempted to reassert control over local bodies by gradually usurping their already limited powers. "Release of development funds has been stalled and district nazims are ignored in almost all the important administrative matters".198
While tensions had been brewing for some time, they came to a head in late May 2003 when the MMA government introduced resolutions in the provincial assembly to remove the district nazims of Kohistan and Bannu for misuse of power and corruption. The assembly speaker formed a special committee to deal with the cases. The threat of prosecution prompted all 24 NWFP district nazims to tender their resignations, citing "undue interference" from the provincial government. The resignations came against the backdrop of the military's stalled negotiations with the MMA to gain its support in the national parliament for Musharraf's Legal Framework Order.199 Analysts believe they were meant to
197 ICG interview, Lahore, June 2003.
198 ICG interview, August 2003.
199 Relations between the centre and the NWFP government also deteriorated when the MMA tabled a bill on shari'a
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pressure the MMA to support the LFO. The signal to the MMA government was "fall in line or face the consequences".200
According to federal government sources, it was not surprising that the nazims, whether sensing a favourable political climate or heeding Islamabad's directive, deliberately bypassed provincial authorities and tendered their resignations directly to President Musharraf.201 A district nazim who spearheaded the revolt against the provincial government confirmed to ICG, "while most nazims had legitimate grievances against the MMA government, we had been bypassed since 14 August 2001, so this was a golden opportunity to make our voices heard".202 Demonstrating an indifference to provincial autonomy, President Musharraf intervened, refusing the resignations and directing the MMA government to restore powers delegated to the nazims under the LGO within ten days.203 The NRB subsequently drafted new rules in consultation with the provincial government and the nazims but little has changed on the ground. The tussle between nazims and provincial governments is far from over. The military's political use of its devolution scheme is further illustrated by President Musharraf's benign neglect of -- some say blessing for -- the Punjab government's plans to pressure and remove nazims with links to opposition parties.204 In Lahore city, for instance, it reportedly colluded in ousting Ahmed Hassan, the pro PML-N nazim of Data Gunj Bakhsh Town, through a no-confidence motion. 205 "I have been a victim of a conspiracy hatched by the (Islamic) law in late May 2003, causing much embarrassment to President Musharraf on the eve of his trip to the U.S., France, Germany and the UK. Vigilante action by the youth wing of the Jamaat-i-Islami, a key member of the MMA, which included the defacing of billboards across the provincial capital, Peshawar, prompted Islamabad to threaten administrative action. "Shariat Bill tabled in NWFP's provincial assembly", Dawn, 28 May 2003.
200 ICG interview, Islamabad, July 2003.
201 "District Nazims in NWFP Resign", Dawn, 2 June 2003.
202 ICG interview, August 2003.
203 Senior officials in the MMA government say that Musharraf had given them a green light for action against corrupt nazims. Quoted in Mubashir Zaidi and Ali Hasan, op.cit.
204 ICG Punjab-wide interviews, June 2003.
205 Ali Lahori, "Councillors on Sale in Lahore", The Independent, 4-10 September 2003, p. 4.
Councillors were reportedly bribed to vote against Hassan. provincial PML-Q authorities", he claimed.206 Several PPP and PML-N tehsil and district nazims told ICG they are under intense official pressure to join the PML-Q.207
In provinces where the ruling PML-Q has formed coalition governments, the devolution scheme has fared no better. In Baluchistan, nazims have appealed to the courts to stop provincial interference in district affairs. Rahim Kakar, the district nazim of Quetta City, says, "I have had to approach the High Court to stop provincial intrusions in the affairs of the city district government".208 The roots of local opposition to devolution run much deeper in this province than battles over political turf. The scheme is widely seen by the Baluch as yet another attempt by a Punjabi-dominated military to usurp their political and economic rights. While they accept decentralisation to district levels in principle, Baluch leaders and academics are quick to point out that the administrative and financial autonomy guaranteed to the federal units in the 1973 constitution has been undermined by continued military rule. History warns that central intrusions into provincial affairs can seriously exacerbate ethno-regional tensions. In the 1970s, the dismissal of the provincial National Awami Party-JUI government in Baluchistan culminated in a bloody insurgency against the central government. Several thousand Baluch were killed in the military's counter-insurgency operations. Worryingly, the deepening sense of Baluch alienation from centralised military rule is already manifesting itself in periodic attacks on oil and gas installations. In Sindh, local rivalries aggravated by the military's political manipulation mar provincial-local government relations. The military's decision to cobble together a fractious coalition that includes the PML-Q, the MQM and the Sindh Democratic Alliance rather than allow the PPP, which has the most seats in the assembly, to form the provincial government is largely responsible for heightened ethnic, regional and factional infighting. As pro-PPP district nazims pay the price for their political affiliation, Sindhi resentment against the Punjabi-dominated military is on the rise. With memories of the execution of a Sindhi Prime
206 ICG telephone interview, September 2003. Hassan has appealed to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
207 ICG interviews, Punjab, May-June 2003.
208 ICG interview, Quetta, June 2003.
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Minister by a military ruler still fresh, the Sindhis have little faith in the legitimacy of the state and its institutions, least of all in the local government scheme.209
In the Muhajir-dominated urban centres of Sindh, which have repeatedly witnessed violent ethnic conflict, local rivalries are already assuming a dangerous shape. The MQM, which boycotted local elections, opposes control of the city district and several town governments by its archrival, the Jamaat-i-Islami. Senior MQM leaders, who hold important posts in the provincial government, including that of governor, say it is only a matter of time before they bring no-confidence motions against JI nazims. According to JI city district council members, "the provincial governor and the local government minister have left no stone unturned to undermine the city nazim by blocking the devolution of municipal bodies, slashing budgets and transferring officials".210
While the federal government has acted to ease tensions by removing the local government minister, informed observers fear that the JI-MQM dispute could intensify to engulf Karachi in yet another cycle of violence and instability.211 Armed clashes between activists have already claimed several lives. Growing tensions between the centre and the smaller provinces are also prominent in the increasingly strident criticism of the devolution scheme by Baluch, Sindhi and Pashtun ethno-regional parties. Rejecting the military's involvement in politics in general, and demanding more independence for the federal units, parties such as the NWFP-basedAwami National Party, the Pashtun-dominated Pakhtoonkhawa Milli Awami Party, the Baluchistan National Party and Baluchistan National Movement, the Sindhi Taraqi Pasand Party and the Jeay Sindh Mahaz, among others, believe that the devolution scheme is yet another means for the Punjabi-
209 Criticising the Punjabi-dominated military for usurping power at the cost of the smaller federal units, a Sindhi political activist said, "We might not be capable of fighting the military but we will never accept military rule". ICG interview, Hyderabad, January 2004. Former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was removed from office in 1978 by General Zia's military government and executed the following year.
210 ICG interview, Karachi, June 2003.
211 "MQM Minister Replaced", Dawn, 24 August 2003. dominated military to undermine provincial rights.
212 This growing resentment might not translate into armed conflict, given the military's power. If left to fester, however, it could, as in the past, still turn violent.213 Resentment of the devolution plan might well prove the catalyst.
212 On 23 February 2004, the police booked 25 leaders of PONM parties, including members of both houses of parliament, in Islamabad for preaching provincial and ethnic prejudice after they held a seminar on the 17th amendment and its infringement of provincial rights.
213 Commenting on the government's action against the PONM leaders, The News editorialised that, "the issue of provincial autonomy" requires "immediate attention if the country's unity is to be strengthened. The example of East Pakistan inevitably emerges as a nightmare of what can happen if again those same errors are committed". "Hear these voices", The News, 24 February 2004.
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While the NRB claims it is too early to know whether the new administrative arrangements are working, most officials in the field and nazims told ICG that law enforcement has emerged as a particularly serious problem. According to an official of the federal ministry of interior, "the poor performance of the local governments in relation to the enforcement of rule of law could force all four provincial governments to reconsider the whole devolution scheme".214 In Sindh, Baluchistan and the NWFP, provincial authorities complain that nazims are constrained by political affiliations in controlling law and order. In February 2003, the Punjab government gave district revenue officers power to try offences under the local and special laws for three months.215 This partial return of magisterial powers to executive officers is a serious blow to the devolution plan and has fuelled speculation that it will not last long.216
Although President Musharraf and Prime Minister Jamali have ordered the provinces to implement Police Order 2002 by 14 August 2004, it is unlikely they will comply.217 And with demands for restructuring of the LGO echoing in provincial and central legislatures by government ministers and opposition politicians alike, doubts about its survival continue to grow.
For those with stakes in the system, including the nazims, President Musharraf's backing remains the mainstay of their hopes for political survival. The
214 ICG interview, Islamabad, June 2003.
215 ICG interviews, Lahore, June 2003. Section 144 allows the government to take preventive measures if it perceives danger to public order. These can include a ban on meetings and processions of five or more persons, carrying of firearms, and preventive detention of any person likely to disturb public order. A senior local government ministry official said, "the provincial government was facing serious difficulties in implementing its policies which compelled us to confer magisterial powers on the executive magistrates". ICG interview, Lahore, 2003.
216 According to an NRB official, "the return of the magistracy puts a question mark on the Bureau's main objective of de-concentrating the executive and judicial powers of the DMG". ICG interview, Islamabad, May 2003. The DMG group in the federal bureaucracy, which had previously exercised magisterial powers, still controls strategic positions at provincial and federal levels.
217 "Police Order that no one wants", Daily Times, 29 January 2004.
devolution scheme is also still backed by a number of donors in the belief that "new pro-devolution constituencies" will ensure the viability of the system.218 This optimism, however, is not widely shared.
"Lacking internal legitimacy", says Ahmed Rashid, "the devolution plan faces the political and legal ambiguities common to projects in which authoritarian means are deployed to achieve democratic goals".219
Since key stakeholders were bypassed in the process, it is not surprising that devolution remains controversial with political parties, provincial governments and the bureaucracy. Without their support, it is vulnerable, especially because of its association with the military.
A Sindh nazim says, "you can't legitimise a system of government by putting it in a glass case. Legislators and parties will have to be taken into confidence if the system is to last".220 According to Senator Sanaullah Baluch of the Baluchistan National Party, "A system devoid of legitimacy and propped on military crutches can hardly be expected to outlive its creator".221
There is indeed pressing need for the devolution of political, administrative and economic power in Pakistan but any scheme has to take into account the legitimate concerns of elected politicians and provincial governments.
Party-based, direct elections for posts in any local government scheme are crucial if there is to be electoral accountability of local officials and the divisive impact of non-partisan elections on political affiliations is to be curtailed. Provincial grievances will have to be addressed through meaningful step towards decentralisation of administrative and financial powers. Provinces must also be consulted and involved in the timely implementation of police reforms.
To make devolution viable, the financial autonomy of local units of government will have to be enhanced with provisions for raising additional revenue through
218 ICG interview, Islamabad, July 2003.
219 ICG interview, Khushab, May 2003.
220 ICG interview, Karachi, June 2003.
221 ICG interview, Islamabad, July 2003.
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taxation. And provincial transfers to local tiers of government must be adjusted to reflect local fiscal needs, underdevelopment and poverty levels. Given the paucity of local resources, international assistance is also essential to successful devolution. However, the international community should link financial and technical assistance to time-bound progress on federal-provincial devolution, fiscal decentralisation and police reforms. In its present form, the Musharraf local government scheme has failed to give any lasting legitimacy to military rule. But the political engineering that accompanies it has strained a fragile polity by exacerbating sub-national divisions and fanning provincial grievances over reduced financial and administrative autonomy.222
Now that the military and MMA have reached a deal on the LFO, there is speculation that Musharraf could choose to reshape the devolution scheme in the NWFP and Baluchistan to assuage the concerns of the religious alliance.223 In Punjab, devolution is likely to be retained with no more than minor adjustments. In Sindh, political rivalries between nazims and provincial ministers (especially in Karachi) will continue to mar the prospects of any meaningful devolution and increase the potential for conflict, particularly in the provincial capital. For now, the coercive powers at the military's disposal, combined with international support, favour the present devolution scheme. But centralisation of powers, denial of provincial autonomy and the absence of any meaningful public participation in government will almost inevitably cause it to unravel. In the final analysis, the fate of President Musharraf's devolution plan remains linked to his own.
Islamabad/Brussels 22 March 2004
222 ICG interview, Islamabad, May 2003.
223 ICG countrywide interviews, July-August 2003.
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Devolution in Pakistan: Reform or Regression?
ICG Asia Report N?77, 22 March 2004

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Monday, 5 April 2004

The Intelligence Mess: How It Happened, What to Do About It

Andrew C. McCarthy

Intelligence-gathering is something of a square peg in the round hole of contemporary political morality. It is about unearthing that which is willfully concealed, an enterprise that necessarily calls for invading privacy and inducing betrayal--discomfiting acts in an age that exalts the individual and his liberties above community and country. It is about assuming and preparing for the worst in an era that sees "bad" as an outmoded adjective for "different," another dash of enlivening spice in a rich social stew. Intelligence is gimlet eyes in a world of rose-colored glasses.

Now, however, that foreign pathologies long denied have visited their excesses upon us, many among the benignly tolerant have turned overnight into the equivalent of ambulance-chasers. In particular, they have confidently laid at the door of America's intelligence apparatus the success of America's enemies on September 11, 2001. Even as investigators in the CIA and FBI were unable to "connect the dots," it is said, nineteen al-Qaeda hijackers cavorted for months in this country before carrying out the atrocities of that day. Nor was this catastrophe--"by definition, the worst intelligence failure in our country's history," in the words of the Reagan-era intelligence expert Herbert Meyer--a singular phenomenon. Less than a year earlier, a billion-dollar battle ship, the U.S.S. Cole, had been bombed and nearly sunk, causing the deaths of seventeen servicemen, because we unwittingly berthed it in the al-Qaeda-infested port of Aden, Yemen. This, after our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were turned to rubble in August 1998 by the very same al Qaeda, which had already attacked numerous times previously, and which no less often had expressly declared war on the United States.

Nor is that all. Thanks to our failed intelligence services (the indictment continues), the Bush administration grossly overestimated the stockpiles and production capacity of chemical, bacteriological, radiological, and nuclear weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq. In the meantime, in North Korea, construction of nuclear weapons seems to have ensued for years right under our noses. And Pyongyang's mischief marked only a single strand in a web of proliferation woven by our ally Pakistan, a web that may have spread into as many as seven nations, including Iran, where the mullahs now harbor the remnants of al Qaeda's leadership.

How did this wide wreckage in our intelligence capacities come about? One incisive answer has been given by Mark Riebling in his gripping history, Wedge: How the Secret War between the FBI and CIA Has Endangered National Security (1994, re-issued in 2002 with a new epilogue). Riebling's thesis is that the problem is longstanding, that it has a single "root cause," and that this root cause is institutional. In his telling, a full half-century's worth of national disasters--from Pearl Harbor through the Bay of Pigs, the Kennedy assassination, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11--can be traced directly to intelligence failures, and those failures were proximately caused by turf-battling between our two great rival agencies.

This has now become conventional wisdom, accepted on all sides. And one can see the apparent sense in it. A ramified system of multiple agencies having similar missions and chasing the same budget dollars will inevitably produce rivalry; rivalry begets pettiness, and pettiness begets failure. Such, indeed, is the reasoning behind virtually all of the proposals now under consideration by no fewer than seven assorted congressional committees, internal evaluators, and blue-ribbon panels charged with remedying the situation.

One proposed fix, supported by, among others, Senator John Edwards and James B. Steinberg, a deputy national security adviser in the Clinton administration, would create a new entity, analogous to Britain's MI-5, to assume the FBI's domestic-intelligence mission. Decoupling that agency's information-gathering from its law-enforcement duties would allegedly result in a specialist agency that would more resemble, and be less likely to rumble with, its foreign-intelligence counterpart, the CIA. These hoped-for efficiencies would, it is (naively) supposed, compensate for the loss of the FBI's critical power to leverage intelligence-gathering with the ready hammer of prosecution.

Steinberg and Senator Dianne Feinstein are also among those who would solve the pitfalls of conflicting bureaucracies by . . . adding another bureaucracy. This new National Intelligence Directorate would oversee the full spectrum of relevant entities, compelling the likes of the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and the State Department's intelligence branch to play nice with each other. Presumably it would also render obsolete the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, another new entity (under CIA direction) created by President Bush a year ago to promote harmony.


But is it true that inter-agency rivalry is the problem everyone claims it is?

That rivalry exists is indisputable; likewise, that its effects can be pernicious. One of my first encounters with the CIA a decade ago occurred when I and other prosecutors preparing the conspiracy case against the organization responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center (WTC) bombing asked the agency for a much-needed briefing. The CIA was perfectly willing to come to New York for that purpose--but not if our FBI case agents were going to be in the same room.

Nevertheless, like many facts that appall at first blush, internecine warfare is only, at best, half the story. For one thing, intelligence professionals are correct (if occasionally disingenuous) when they complain that the public has a skewed perception of their operations: while catastrophic lapses are always notorious, intelligence successes are more numerous. These, however, must typically be kept secret in order to preserve sources of information and methods of gathering it. The unfortunate result is a portrait of ceaseless "failure" that, aside from giving intelligence-gathering an undeserved bad name, also obscures other verities.

First, day-to-day cooperation among agencies, and particularly between the FBI and CIA, is actually far better than people have been led to believe. In terrorism cases, in the decade after the 1993 WTC bombing, teamwork improved in leaps and bounds. To be sure, there are occasional breakdowns, usually due to personality conflicts. But this is an unavoidable function of the human condition--which no legislation on earth can repeal--and it is just as frequently a factor in intra-agency disputes as in those between agencies. Today, agents who fail to compare notes are generally acting in violation of information-sharing protocols; it is hard to imagine additional directives improving the situation.

Second, intelligence-gathering is not monolithic. Domestic intelligence is radically different from the foreign variety, and both differ critically from the needs of the military. So polysemous an imperative requires a variety of skills to meet widely divergent situations and assumptions. As both a practical and a political matter, it is inconceivable that the task could be accomplished by a single agency, and proposals that suggest otherwise are certain only to reshuffle, rather than eradicate, natural rivalries while damaging the quality and quantity of information collection.

Third, and most misunderstood, rivalry--overall--is a virtue. In the government's vast monopoly, it is essential. Naturally, the seamy side of competition being a perennial best-seller, the public record is replete with hair-raising anecdotes of sharp-elbowed investigators pursuing the same quarry to the benefit of criminals, enemies, and traitors. On a macro level, however, the throat-cutting is statistically insignificant. As a rule, competition impels agents to test their premises and press for better information; it results in the generation of more leads and the collection and refinement of more intelligence. In a world where the Supreme Court cannot decide a case without amicus briefs from innumerable interested observers, where Congress declines to pass legislation without the input of scores of experts, do we really want the President, in matters of national security, reduced to a single stream of intelligence-collection and analysis?

If turf-battling is not an enormous obstacle, does that mean there are no obstacles? Hardly. The real problems, though, are not bureaucratic but structural and philosophical. They have taken over 40 years to metastasize, and they would take a lot more than cosmetic surgery to reverse, even assuming the national will to do it.


As with much else in our national life, the bacillus now grown to plague America's intelligence apparatus took root in the unrest of Vietnam and the upheaval of Watergate. The perception of national security became intertwined in those years with an increasingly unpopular war that ended badly. For a generation of activists soon to take up positions of influence in politics, academia, and the media, the antiwar movement inculcated a lasting aversion not only to the exercise of American military power but to the agencies tasked with assessing threats to our national security, not to mention the real-world grunt work of intelligence.

Watergate deepened the aversion. For one thing, the burglars included former intelligence officers. For another, President Richard Nixon enlisted the CIA to obstruct the FBI's investigation of the break-in. For a third, his White House "enemies" operation featured spying against domestic political adversaries. Hot on the heels of these misdeeds, the CIA became enmeshed in other domestic spying scandals that were subjected to high-profile probes, first by a commission appointed by President Ford and, in 1976, by the celebrated Senate Select Committee chaired by Frank Church.

Perhaps the first consequence of this chain of events was a long-term decline in the authority of the executive branch of government. The decline stemmed from an illogic that often bedevils the aftermath of scandal: the tendency to confound the sins of a corrupt actor (in this case, Nixon) with a structural weakness in the system itself. In the mid-1970, the new operating premise was that, since robust presidential power was likely to be corrupted, it must therefore be scrutinized and shackled in every respect.

From this there followed a second consequence: a shift of national-security functions, prominently including intelligence-gathering, from the ambit of broad executive discretion to the area where executive action is regulated by Congress and the federal courts. Compared with the "intelligence failures" decried by journalists and politicians today, this shift engendered a continuing calamity.

In the constitutional license given to executive action, a gaping chasm exists between the realms of law enforcement and national security. In law enforcement, as former U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr explained in congressional testimony last October, government seeks to discipline an errant member of the body politic who has allegedly violated its rules. That member, who may be a citizen, an immigrant with lawful status, or even, in certain situations, an illegal alien, is vested with rights and protections under the U.S. Constitution. Courts are imposed as a bulwark against suspect executive action; presumptions exist in favor of privacy and innocence; and defendants and other subjects of investigation enjoy the assistance of counsel, whose basic job is to thwart government efforts to obtain information. The line drawn here is that it is preferable for the government to fail than for an innocent person to be wrongly convicted or otherwise deprived of his rights.

Not so the realm of national security, where government confronts a host of sovereign states and sub-national entities (particularly terrorist organizations) claiming the right to use force. Here the executive is not enforcing American law against a suspected criminal but exercising national-defense powers to protect against external threats. Foreign hostile operatives acting from without and within are not vested with rights under the American Constitution. The galvanizing national concern in this realm is to defeat the enemy, and as Barr puts it, "preserve the very foundation of all our civil liberties." The line drawn here is that government cannot be permitted to fail.

For these reasons, prior to the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate revolution, executive-branch authority in matters of national security had been almost plenary. The constitutional checks held by Congress were largely trifles. The power to declare war was already nearly an anachronism--during the Civil War, the Supreme Court had ruled that, regardless of whether Congress acts, Article II of the Constitution actually obliges the President to respond with all necessary force to put down attacks against the United States. Even Congress's power of the purse lacked much practical muscle, given the inherent political risk for a legislator who dared to withhold funds the President said were vital to national security.

In line with this, the executive branch had wide latitude to gather intelligence against potential threats. True, the CIA's charter did not permit it to conduct domestic intelligence-gathering--that task being left to the FBI--but this affected only which arms of the executive branch could spy on our enemies in which venues. It did not, at least in theory, affect the substance of the information to be gathered.


But cataclysmic changes were ahead, and their harbinger was President Jimmy Carter's acquiescence in the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Here, for the first time, Congress and the courts undertook to regulate the gathering of national intelligence, particularly by electronic eavesdropping, against agents of hostile foreign powers. In the Nixonian afterclap, it was adjudged that the executive could not be trusted unilaterally to wield this power, which might secretly be used against political opponents.

Of course, such wiretapping was already illegal, and the Nixon experience had amply demonstrated the political price to be paid for engaging in it. No matter. Henceforth, the executive branch would not be allowed to use whatever tactics it, as the branch with the most expertise and information, determined were necessary to protect the nation. Rather, it would be compelled to go to a federal FISA court newly created for the purpose, and, as with the procedure for criminal wiretaps, it would need to establish probable cause that the target was an agent of a foreign power. Electronic surveillance would be permitted only if the judges approved.

The impact on intelligence collection was serious. Previously, it would have been laughable to suggest that foreign enemy operatives had a right to conduct their perfidies in privacy--the Fourth Amendment prohibits only "unreasonable" searches, and there is nothing unreasonable about searching or recording people who threaten national security. (The federal courts have often recognized that the Constitution is not a suicide pact.) Now, such operatives became the beneficiaries of precisely such protection. Placing so severe a roadblock in the way of a crucial investigative technique necessarily meant both that the technique would be used less frequently (thereby reducing the quantity and quality of valuable intelligence) and that investigative resources would have to be diverted from intelligence-collection to the rigors of compliance with judicial procedures (which are cumbersome).

This was only the start of the debacle. Courts and the organized defense bar soon began to ply the FISA statute with hypothetical governmental abuses. What if, they worried, a national-security wiretap yielded evidence of an ordinary crime--not an unlikely event, given that terrorists tend to commit lots of ordinary crimes, including money laundering, identity fraud, etc. This was no problem under FISA as written: intelligence agents could simply pass the information to agents of the criminal law, who could then use the damning conversations in court. But what if such law-enforcement agents, for their part, were to try to use FISA as a pretext to investigate crimes for which they themselves lacked probable cause to secure a regular criminal wiretap?

In one sense, the suggestion was not out of line--wiretap conversations are devastating evidence, and defense lawyers routinely strain to have them suppressed. But the notion was logically absurd. If a criminal investigator was going to act corruptly, it would be far easier for him to fabricate evidence showing probable cause for a regular wiretap (by pretending, for example, to have an anonymous source who had bought illegal drugs from the target) than to trump up a national-security angle necessitating an additional set of internal approvals. Nor was there any indication that such chicanery was actually afoot. But reality is rarely an obstacle for those who see life as an ongoing law-school seminar. Gradually, courts rewrote FISA, grafting onto it a so-called "primary purpose" test requiring the government to establish not only probable cause that it was targeting operatives of a foreign power but also that its real reason for seeking surveillance was counterintelligence, not criminal prosecution.

As one would expect, this created among many prosecutors a grave apprehension about "the appearance of impropriety"--a hidebound concept governing lawyer ethics that is perfectly nonsensical in the life-and-death context of national security. Even as militant Islam began its terrorist war against the United States with the 1993 WTC bombing and the 1994-95 "Bojenka" plot to blow a dozen American airliners out of the sky over the Pacific, the Justice Department was worrying that agents and prosecutors might be perceived to be using intelligence-gathering authority to build criminal prosecutions. Often, the result was weeks or more of delay, during which identified terrorists who happened also to be committing quotidian crimes went unmonitored while the government dithered over whether to employ FISA or the criminal wiretap law. The insanity reached its apex in 1995 with the "primary purpose" guidelines drafted by the Clinton administration: henceforth, a firewall would be placed between criminal and national-security agents, generally barring them even from communicating with one another.

The damage from the firewall and the impediments to FISA has been incalculable. It took ten years to make the racketeering case against Sami al-Arian, the professor accused of helping run the murderous Palestinian Islamic Jihad from the campus of South Florida University, because the wealth of information collected by intelligence agents was withheld from their criminal counterparts. And that was a pittance compared with what happened in the waning weeks before the September 11 attacks. Zacarias Moussaoui, who had paid cash for pilot training (and was reported to authorities when his bizarre behavior--including intense interest in how cabin and cockpit doors worked--could no longer be ignored), was detained by the immigration service. Worried FBI intelligence agents were desperate to search his computer, but were turned down by supervisors who decided there was insufficient evidence to go to the FISA court. His al-Qaeda membership and numerous connections to the hijackers were not uncovered until after the attacks.

And the Moussaoui travesty itself pales in comparison to the story of Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, excruciatingly recounted in Slate by Stewart Baker, general counsel of the National Security Agency during the early Clinton administration. The pair, who had trained to pilot planes, lived in California. In August 2001, an astute FBI intelligence agent was trying to find them, and asked the criminal division for help. But FBI headquarters stepped in and insisted that the firewall not be breached: criminal agents were to stay out of the intelligence effort. A few weeks later, al-Midhar and al-Hazmi plunged Flight 77 into the Pentagon, their manifold ties to Mohammed Atta and the other hijackers kept safely under wraps.


In attempting to "connect the dots" on how branches of our government erected barricades against efficient information-sharing, one cannot avoid addressing the most basic blunder of all. In the years after World War II, the designers of the CIA conceived of it as, in one sense, an analogue to the American military. Just as the armed forces are generally precluded by law from domestic policing (which is left to the FBI and other federal, state, and local agencies), so the CIA could not conduct its operations within U.S. territory.

The CIA, then, is confined to foreign intelligence and counterintelligence activities. When leads cross into U.S. territory, the FBI takes over--mainly through its foreign-counterintelligence division, which is separate from its law-enforcement side. This division of labor, and not simple rivalry, is the salient reason for the inter-agency warfare of the last half-century.

Turf aside, however, the structure is not analogous to the military doctrine of posse comitatus, which bars the armed forces from domestic policing. For if the United States were invaded by a foreign army, our military would respond; that would be a national-defense function, not policing. Similarly, hostile foreign operatives within the U.S.--plotting, recruiting, providing funding and material support to their principals--fit the mold of an invading foreign army far better than that of a criminal collaborator.

Yet U.S. law and tradition (strenuously supported by many of the same politicians who today bluster about the CIA's lack of dot-connecting skills) rig intelligence as if it were Russian roulette: the agency whose raison d'?tre is to counter foreign threats to our national security is precluded from participating in investigations once they cross into our nation, while the agency that is expected to pick up the ball and run with it from there does so without the CIA's depth of knowledge and expertise.

The ill-conception of this arrangement has become increasingly patent. With the info-tech revolution, al-Qaeda operatives seamlessly share information across borders with the click of a mouse, enabling them instantly to construct a complete picture of their prey. By contrast, the forces charged with keeping us safe from them are expected to complete awkward hand-offs as persons and information roam in and out of the country. The windfall beneficiary is, ironically, the terrorist operative who happens also to be an American citizen. Such an operative is not only protected by the full panoply of constitutional rights wherever in the world he travels but is radioactive to the CIA, which is no less fearful of the perception that it is spying on Americans than the Justice Department was about the appearance of misusing FISA.


It is bad enough that, prior to 9/11, terrorists could easily survive in the lacunae of our domestic intelligence apparatus. Worse, they positively thrived on the way it operated.

Throughout the eight years of the Clinton administration, as militant Islam's jihad against America escalated, the federal courts became the linchpin of counterterror strategy. This began understandably enough. The 1993 WTC bombing was viewed as a domestic crime. Although, years later, investigators and journalists would link the bombing to al Qaeda, and al Qaeda in turn to prior terrorist acts against the U.S., at the time not much was known about Osama bin Laden, his network, and his national support systems in Afghanistan and Sudan. No one credibly could fault President Clinton for handling the matter as a court case or for not responding militarily. As the murder and mayhem grew, however, and as it became clearer that indictments were a pusillanimous response to suicide bombers geared to obliterate American embassies and naval destroyers, Clinton stayed the self-defeating course.

As Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has observed, weakness is provocative. The fecklessness of meeting terrorist attacks with court proceedings--trials that take years to prepare and months to present, and that, even when successful, neutralize only an infinitesimal percentage of the actual terrorist population--emboldened bin Laden. But just as hurtful was the government's promotion of terrorism trials in the first place. They were a useful vehicle if the strategic object was to orchestrate an appearance of justice being done. As a national-security strategy, they were suicidal, providing terrorists with a banquet of information they could never have dreamed of acquiring on their own.

Under discovery rules that apply to American criminal proceedings, the government is required to provide to accused persons any information in its possession that can be deemed "material to the preparation of the defense" or that is even arguably exculpatory. The more broadly indictments are drawn (and terrorism indictments tend to be among the broadest), the greater the trove of revelation. In addition, the government must disclose all prior statements made by witnesses it calls (and, often, witnesses it does not call).

This is a staggering quantum of information, certain to illuminate not only what the government knows about terrorist organizations but the intelligence agencies' methods and sources for obtaining that information. When, moreover, there is any dispute about whether a sensitive piece of information needs to be disclosed, the decision ends up being made by a judge on the basis of what a fair trial dictates, rather than by the executive branch on the basis of what public safety demands.

It is true that this mountain of intelligence is routinely surrendered along with appropriate judicial warnings: defendants may use it only in preparing for trial, and may not disseminate it for other purposes. Unfortunately, people who commit mass murder tend not to be terribly concerned about violating court orders (or, for that matter, about being hauled into court at all).

In 1995, just before trying the blind sheik (Omar Abdel Rahman) and eleven others, I duly complied with discovery law by writing a letter to the defense counsel listing 200 names of people who might be alleged as unindicted co-conspirators--i.e., people who were on the government's radar screen but whom there was insufficient evidence to charge. Six years later, my letter turned up as evidence in the trial of those who bombed our embassies in Africa. It seems that, within days of my having sent it, the letter had found its way to Sudan and was in the hands of bin Laden (who was on the list), having been fetched for him by an al-Qaeda operative who had gotten it from one of his associates.

Intelligence is dynamic. Over time, foreign terrorists and spies inevitably learn our tactics and adapt: consequently, we must refine and change those tactics. When we purposely tell them what we know--for what is blithely assumed to be the greater good of ensuring they get the same kind of fair trials as insider traders and tax cheats--we enable them not only to close the knowledge gap but to gain immense insight into our technological capacities, how our agencies think, and what our future moves are likely to be.

In considering the asserted "intelligence failures" of September 11 and beyond, it is worth bearing in mind this information bounty, which our government consciously decided to provide from 1993 through 2001 even as it was increasingly manifest that the enemy was growing more proficient, its attacks more deadly.


Although I have thus far been concentrating on the collection and analysis of intelligence here at home, a similar and complementary history can be constructed for what happened to our capabilities overseas. There, too, our intelligence apparatus was thoroughly compromised.

In particular, the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990's dovetailed with a severe economic recession that ultimately cost George H. W. Bush his presidency. For the CIA, this constellation of circumstances had two major, detrimental consequences.

First, desperate to cut spending wherever politically palatable, the federal government declared a "peace dividend." This was a fantasy. Although the fall of Soviet tyranny was an enormous blessing, it also presaged a more challenging international environment, filled with threats diffuse, unconventional, and less predictable. Nevertheless, at the urging of many of the same elected officials now complaining about failure, including Senator John F. Kerry, intelligence spending was repeatedly slashed.

The second nightmare for the CIA was President Clinton. For the first President Bush, himself a former CIA director, intelligence had been a priority. For Clinton, it was a nettlesome chore--and one he largely avoided. Clinton had no time even for James Woolsey, his own chosen director of Central Intelligence, declining to hold a single one-on-one meeting during Woolsey's maddening two-year tenure. This freeze-out had the predictable effects: agency morale plummeted, officers abandoned ship, and Congress's funding door slammed shut.

Human intelligence also fell into disrepair, having already fallen into disrepute. It is worth considering that almost all the terrorism prosecutions of the 1990's took place after successful attacks. We managed to stop exactly two such attacks: the 1994 Bojenka plot against the airliners, and a 1993 conspiracy to bomb New York City landmarks. The former success was due to sheer luck (a fire, started by inept chemical mixing on the part of two terrorists, was detected by an alert Manila police officer), combined with a Pakistani informant who was induced to turn in the ringleader. The latter happened because an informant penetrated the blind sheik's terror organization, recorded scores of conspiratorial conversations, and permitted agents to catch the plotters in flagrante delicto, stirring explosives. Sadly, that informant had actually infiltrated the group in 1991 but had been deactivated seven months before the 1993 WTC bombing (after which he was reinstated).

One cannot develop the necessary global network of intelligence informants without CIA case officers. As George Tenet, the current director, attested in a recent speech, by the time he took the helm in the fifth year of the Clinton administration the graduating class of case officers was at a historic nadir. As for the agency's clandestine-services program, Tenet elaborated, that was in such a shambles that it will take until 2009 before it is functioning at an acceptable level.

Meanwhile, abjuring clandestine operatives, Clinton-era intelligence went hi-tech, making extensive use of satellite surveillance and other advances in remote eavesdropping. But with fewer agents to translate and analyze what was gathered, or to follow leads, the effort was ineffectual. Consider: the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa, carried out by an organization we had been focusing on for five years, took several months to plan; ditto the 2000 strike on the U.S.S. Cole (which would have happened eight months earlier, to the U.S.S. The Sullivans, had not the terrorists' attack boat sunk from the heft of explosives). The attacks of September 11, 2001 were plotted on four continents for well over a year. We did not sniff out any of them.

As the CIA stumbled, the FBI was ascendant, opening a host of new legal-attach? offices around the world. Generally speaking, this was a positive development: just as the terrorist threat was exploding, so too was the spread and sophistication of criminal syndicates, making it imperative for law-enforcement agencies to cooperate internationally. But timing is everything. The FBI was spreading its wings just as its most significant cases involved not ordinary crimes but national security.

Some of our best information is obtained from foreign intelligence services. Naturally, those services are much less forthcoming if they think that what they tell us will have to be revealed in court because of U.S. legal rules. Historically, that was not much of a problem when dealing with the CIA; it is, however, always a concern for a country weighing whether to share some sensitive or potentially embarrassing information with the FBI. The Saudis' infamous obstruction of the FBI's efforts to investigate the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing is an exquisite example.

In the Clinton years, no matter how many times we were attacked, all the world knew that our approach was to have the FBI build criminal cases. Indeed, Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 39, issued in June 1995, announced that prosecuting terrorists and extraditing indicted terrorists held overseas were signature priorities of the administration. Nearly three years later, after several other attacks and public declarations of war by bin Laden, Clinton issued a press release that both trumpeted as a ringing success his strategy of having terrorists "apprehended, tried, and given severe prison sentences" and announced a new directive, PDD 62. This purported to "reinforce the mission of the many U.S. agencies charged with roles in defeating terrorism,"including by means of the "apprehension and prosecution of terrorists." The embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed less than three months later.


The mantra that "9/11 changed everything" is omnipresent. But is it true? It is certainly true in one crucial sense: our national anti-terrorism strategy is no longer to fight bombs and militias with indictments and press releases. The military has reemerged as the spearhead, with law enforcement in an important but subordinate role. The ramifications have already been positive: simply by responding with force to our enemies, we have not just eliminated thousands of terrorists but accumulated volumes of vital intelligence.

But much still needs to change, and the prognosis is not hopeful. For one thing, we speak of intelligence "failures" as if they were current lapses, to be laid at the feet of the poor saps left without a chair just as the music stopped. And we speak about "fixes" without coming to terms with the nature of the problem; until we do, any such fixes will at best be palliatives, and will more likely make things worse.

Take Iraq's missing weapons of mass destruction. It may yet turn out that these will be found in Iraq itself, or that they were moved or hidden outside the country in the many months between when we first told Saddam Hussein we were coming and when at last we arrived to depose him. Still, for the moment the stubborn fact remains that the government said the WMD were there and they have not been located. Whose intelligence failure is that? Did our intelligence agencies "fail" in 2003, when, according to David Kay, even Saddam's Republican Guard believed Iraq possessed the weapons? Or did they "fail" in the 1990's when the government of the United States regarded the CIA, and spying, and human intelligence, and Iraq as one big pain that should just go away?

Hizballah killed well over 200 servicemen in the two Lebanon attacks of 1983. The blind sheik, and bin Laden after him, promised their adherents that a reprise or two of such "operations" would surely induce the Americans to cut and run from the Persian Gulf. Although we did not cut and run, we did stand by as Saddam Hussein put down a revolt we had incited with the materiel we let him keep. When Saddam tried to assassinate the first President Bush and when he expelled the UN inspectors, we lobbed a few missiles at useless targets--just as we did when bin Laden obliterated our embassies in Africa. In response to the Cole bombing, we did nothing.

Bin Laden struck us repeatedly in the eight years leading up to September 11. From the thousands in al Qaeda's swelling international ranks, we plucked about 40 and indicted them, bathing them in all the rights of American defendants, and arming them with information from our intelligence files to prepare their defenses. One of these, Mohammed Daoud al-`Owhali, had killed nearly 250 people by helping to drive a car bomb to the entrance of our embassy in Nairobi, and later confessed. Al-`Owhali was a soldier in a war on America, probably among the most effective ever. He was held not as a prisoner of war but as a criminal defendant, questioned not by the CIA but by FBI agents, who actually tried to give him Miranda warnings. When he was given a civilian trial, a U.S. judge initially ordered his confession suppressed--which would nearly have guaranteed his acquittal--because he had not been advised of his right to have an American defense lawyer present: a right that, since he was in the custody of Kenya, he did not have. The judge later relented, but only after issuing an opinion holding that foreign terrorists who attack America overseas should be accorded the benefits of the constitutional system it is their mission to destroy.

Was September 11 the worst intelligence failure in our country's history? Or was it, rather, a national failure, the failure of a country that allowed its sense of decency to overwhelm its instinct for survival and that effectively convinced its enemies that they could strike with impunity?

The problem with our intelligence apparatus, to repeat, is that we went on a national nap for over two decades. If an entity is systematically warped and mismanaged for 20 or 30 years--not by a single agency director or American President, but by a philosophy--it cannot be fixed overnight. You cannot wake up on Monday and say, "We need more informants," and expect to have them embedded and reporting by the close of the business day. If those lobbying for quick fixes to the intelligence mess do not appear to understand this, might it be because they do not want anyone to start probing whose mess it actually is?


This is not to say that the U.S. intelligence apparatus needs fundamental restructuring. In my opinion, it does not. Instead, its primary needs are, first, time to reverse a quarter-century of sloth, and, second, adequate resources to build a new human-intelligence network. Beyond that, a few other things need to happen, but it is here especially that pessimism sets in.

Although there is no need to restructure the CIA and FBI, the division of labor between them must take account of new realities. Without losing the benefits of rivalry, it is imperative to eliminate the structural barriers that, assuming they ever made sense, make none now. In particular, in a national-security investigation, the overriding assumption must be that we are dealing not with potential criminals presumed innocent but with foreign enemies who must be brought to heel. This means that the CIA must be able to follow the trail of its intelligence into the U.S.

In short, I am proposing that the CIA be permitted to work in the United States against those who have been colorably associated with foreign powers, including terrorist groups. A number of safeguards can be put in place to assure Americans that we have not authorized Big Brother to run amok. In addition to requiring that the FBI be given notice and periodic updates, we could mandate that the CIA obtain authorization within 72 hours of the start of domestic surveillance.

My own preference is that this approval come from a responsible executive-branch official rather than from the courts. The FISA model, in my view, violates the principle of separation of powers, gets courts (which have no institutional expertise in, or ready access to, intelligence) into the business of micro-managing national security, discourages agents from pursuing investigations essential to public welfare, and confers upon enemy operatives benefits they should not have. Still, given that FISA is not going away, I would rather have a requirement to obtain FISA court authorization than a continuation of the outdated system in which, while al Qaeda can freely cruise from Peshawar to Peoria, the CIA gets turned away at the border.

Complementing this change, the FBI and the CIA should continue their increasingly effective cooperation outside the United States, with two caveats. The first is that the CIA (and the Defense Department) should be in the lead, the FBI in a secondary role except when the executive branch determines it is in our national interest to extradite to our criminal-justice system a terrorist held by a foreign sovereign. The second is that, the targets in this war being enemy combatants and not criminal suspects, they should not get Miranda warnings, American constitutional protections (except minimal due process, which our government must always accord), or lavish access to our sensitive files. Instead, they should be captured, held for however long active hostilities last, squeezed (humanely) for information, and, if they have violated the laws of war, given military tribunals.

Other commonsense steps to promote competent intelligence-collection were incorporated in the Patriot Act, enacted six weeks after the September 11 attacks. This act, however, has come under blistering assault; so vicious has the campaign been that sensible Democrats like Senator Feinstein and Senator Joseph Biden have been moved to join their voices to those of President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft in the act's defense. But it may be too little, too late: there are now more than a half-dozen proposals making their way through Congress seeking rollbacks or repeal.

The Patriot Act's intelligence improvements were vital, and nowhere more so than in the area of information-sharing. It dismantled the pernicious FISA firewall that prevented agents from pooling information. It authorized intelligence agents who were conducting FISA surveillance to "consult with federal law-enforcement officers to coordinate efforts to investigate or protect against" terrorism and other hostile acts. In addition, the act made it easier to obtain surveillance authorization, scotching the requirement that agents show that foreign counterintelligence was the "primary purpose" for their application in favor of the less burdensome certification that it was a "significant purpose."

But it is these crucial improvements that have come under greatest fire. First, in 2002, the FISA court itself took umbrage at Congress's demolition of the firewall and the (judicially invented) "primary purpose" test. Fortunately, the court's attempt to reestablish the suicidal status quo ante was blocked. Next, however, an amalgam of libertarian Republicans and anti-Bush Democrats has promised to limit the term of the bill's crucial provisions to December 31, 2005, when they are currently scheduled to "sunset" unless extended or made permanent by new legislation.

This bipartisan Senate cabal (led by Democrats Patrick Leahy, Richard Durbin, and Harry Reid and Republicans Larry Craig and John Sununu) wants not only to terminate the FISA sharing provisions but to end the sharing of grand-jury information; to restrict the information that intelligence agencies may obtain from communications-service providers (the same kind of information long available to criminal investigators probing health-care fraud and gambling); and effectively to destroy the valuable "sneak-and-peak" search warrant (another longstanding tool in ordinary criminal investigations) that allows agents, with court approval, to search a location for intelligence purposes but not to seize anything, thus keeping the targets unaware. No doubt, the next time something goes boom, these Senators and their myriad sympathizers will be among the first to wail about unconnected dots.

A political class that appreciated the stakes involved would not indulge in this sort of recklessness. It would not hasten to dub every episodic setback an intelligence failure without asking searchingly whether we have set our agencies up to fail. It would have the necessary perseverance, through the inevitable torrent of catcalling, to retrace a quarter-century of missteps. And it would construct its remedies on the basis of a correct diagnosis of the disease. Right now, when we need it most, this is not the political class we have.

Andrew C. McCarthy, a former chief assistant U.S. attorney in New York, led the 1995 terrorism prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman in connection with the first World Trade Center bombing. His reviews and essays have appeared in COMMENTARY, National Review Online, and other publications.

Reform Overdue for Central Intelligence
Posted April 5, 2004
By Jamie Dettmer

George Tenet remains a stout defender of his CIA, but there is a growing consensus in Washington that far-reaching reforms are necessary.

George Tenet has been on the offensive all winter, defending the CIA's recent record as more details emerge of his agency's failures from overstating Saddam Hussein's weapons-of-mass-destruction programs to not fully appreciating the extent of the work undertaken by Libya and Iran to develop nuclear weapons. In speeches and in congressional testimony, the U.S. Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) has sought cautiously to shift blame elsewhere, suggesting that high administration officials may have ignored equivocations in intelligence reports concerning Iraq and elected to highlight worst-case scenarios. The New York Times' interpretation of Tenet's testimony, quickly denied in official circles, is that at least three times he had to advise Vice President Dick Cheney to restrain himself when making the public case for war against Saddam and urged him to soften his claims about the immediacy of an Iraqi threat.

Tenet hardly has shifted his ground since the terror attacks struck New York City and Washington on 9/11. In the wake of the attacks he insisted, "Failure means no focus, no attention, no discipline - and those were not present in what either we or the FBI did here and around the world." Subsequently, he has admitted to a mistake here or there, and he has acknowledged that CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., needs to improve its skills when "connecting the dots." But he still won't concede that Sept. 11 represented a massive failure on the part of the agency he heads.

Despite Tenet's spirited defense, grave questions remain about the CIA, its recent performance and what is to be done to improve it. A report due soon by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on 9/11 intelligence failures, currently undergoing a final edit, reportedly delivers a devastating verdict on the CIA performance. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan said of the report: "It's shocking," and added, "There has to be accountability."

The report is bound to fuel calls for reform and to intensify the Washington debate about reform. For critics outside Langley it is difficult to get a full picture of the CIA, as intelligence successes have to remain cloaked, whereas dramatic failures stumble into the public light, often as a result of efforts by the stumblers to avoid blame. Even so, while Tenet remains a stout defender of his agency, there is a growing consensus in Washington that reform is necessary, although there is often little agreement about what reforms are needed or the scale of the change that may be required.

Most lawmakers and intelligence insiders accept that the CIA has to do a better job of collecting intelligence and analyzing the information that is gathered. But many larger institutional questions remain unresolved, such as how to achieve greater coordination between U.S. intelligence agencies and whether there should be a unification of national-level collection and analytic agencies under the CIA director to give him maximum control of the whole intelligence apparatus - a move that would be fought tooth-and-nail by the Pentagon, which commands the lion's share of the intelligence budget.

And it isn't clear that Congress is capable of biting the reform bullet. Though there have been angry exchanges in recent months between the congressional panels - most notably last September over a report by the chief investigator for the House and Senate Joint Inquiry Committee on the Sept. 11 attacks accusing agency officials of withholding vital information from committee staff - the panels are reluctant to take on the intelligence community. Former and current CIA officials say that, on the whole, the panels traditionally are supine, don't ask enough questions about ongoing everyday matters and give the agency the benefit of the doubt.

And the panels are fearful of rocking the boat when it comes to major reform. Many lawmakers who serve on the oversight panels enjoy a cozy relationship with the community and are loath to risk endangering their good ties. "That has become more obvious with the current intelligence committees," says an intelligence source with experience on Capitol Hill. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence saw Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas replace Democratic Sen. Bob Graham of Florida as chairman, and congressional insiders say that has helped Tenet mount his arguments for the status quo. Roberts is a strong defender of Tenet, unlike Graham, who was critical.

The panel also lost the CIA director's most uncompromising critic, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who had to leave because of an eight-year time limit for service on the committee. Shelby placed many of the problems at the CIA firmly at Tenet's door, claiming that the DCI's leadership was weak. On the House side, the intelligence chairman, Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.), is a former CIA officer. As an intelligence insider, Capitol Hill aides claim, he tends to pull his punches.

Reform has been held back in the past and congressional oversight blunted because of the CIA's tendency to co-opt lawmakers and Hill aides and to turn them in effect into agents of influence in Congress for the agency. In the mid-1990s, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania rebuked the CIA for doing this, saying, "The CIA's Directorate of Operations would be better advised to improve its reputation and standing by real performance, instead of attempting to rely on factors like personal, school or family ties."

But if there were real impetus behind reform, what changes should be made? Former and current intelligence agents say that Tenet has made one post-9/11 change that will pay dividends. Recently, the Directorate of Operations (DO) was instructed to inform analysts in the Directorate of Intelligence of the identities and track records of sources for raw reports, thereby allowing analysts a better chance of evaluating the information being provided. Previously, analysts were not told about DO sources and assets and therefore often were unable to distinguish the value of the information they received in DO reports. Some of the inaccuracies in the agency's assessments of the weapons programs in Iraq were the result of analysts' lack of knowledge about sources, say CIA insiders.

That reform doesn't satisfy Tenet critics such as Shelby; he believes change requires a much bigger shake-up. He sees Sept. 11 as "part of a pattern of intelligence failures" that resulted in the bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa and the successful attack on the USS Cole. Shelby also questions whether Tenet has the determination or ability to reform the CIA and to bring order to the Byzantine organization of America's $30 billion intelligence community.

Former senior Reagan Pentagon official Frank Gaffney, now president of the Center for Security Policy, agrees with the Shelby line, arguing that "A man who does not understand what is wrong with his organization is unlikely to be able to fix it." As he wrote recently: "Tenet has insisted in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks that there was no failure of intelligence. Such a stance has become increasingly untenable, as more and more evidence emerges that neither the CIA nor the FBI properly handled information about threats of deadly aircraft-delivered attacks by Islamist operatives against U.S. government facilities and/or other prominent sites."

Failure in leadership has been a common complaint of assorted intelligence aides covering their own failures stretching back decades. In the early 1990s, former veteran analyst John Gentry argued in a long and detailed reform paper that the culture of the agency needed to be altered, with the agency ridding itself of deadwood and bringing in agents of change. "The president [Bill Clinton] and Congress must understand the culture - the disease - before they can prescribe remedial medicine," he wrote. "Reorganizational Band-Aids will only briefly ameliorate symptoms. They must also understand the disease-causing agents - the senior responsible executives - and remove them from the organs of intelligence agencies to prevent reinfection." Several former CIA directors when taking up their posts at Langley noted the need for a cultural change but failed to bring it about. John Deutch noted the importance of changing the culture in his confirmation hearing but failed to unleash the bloodletting that was needed to do that.

Aside from cultural problems, Gaffney believes a root cause for recent intelligence mishaps rests with the agency's "failure to invest adequately in the traditional espionage techniques known as human intelligence, or 'HUMINT.'" He says this "problem has its roots in the deliberate emasculation of the agency's HUMINT assets and capabilities when Jimmy Carter turned the CIA over to Adm. Stansfield Turner. But it has persisted and metastasized during the years since - especially during the Clinton presidency." The CIA needs to stop being overreliant on electronic means of intelligence collection, he argues.

Former and current CIA officials concur with Gaffney. They add that the agency also needs to widen the type of operatives and assets it hires, and former State Department and CIA counterterrorism official Larry Johnson cites the lack of ability of the agency to hire foreign nationalities. "We need to be like Russia - hire the nationalities that can blend in and don't worry about getting soiled by hiring thugs if that's what it takes," he told United Press International, Insight's sister wire service. "Either you are willing to soil your hands a bit for the sake of the information, or you're going to think well of yourself and get blindsided the way we did on Sept. 11."

The CIA's analytical setup is the focus of many of the reform calls. Former and current intelligence officials argue that the system is cumbersome and is top heavy with managers. Reports, they say, are overedited and there is little communication between analysts and the higher reaches of the agency. Further, analysts often are inexperienced and assignment transfers are frequent, preventing analysts from developing real expertise. The average assignment is about two years. Veterans say transfers should be kept to a minimum and the average length of assignment should be at least five years and maybe longer.

Analysts' morale is low. Many feel they are at the bottom of the pile and that their promotion opportunities to management levels are few. Fast-track promotion opportunities should be instituted and those with analyst backgrounds should be welcome in the higher echelons of the agency, say some intelligence insiders.

Critics also worry that the DI welcomes and rewards those who subscribe to prevailing orthodoxies and punishes analysts who buck conventional wisdom and think out of the box. "Loyalty to individual bosses has assumed a great role within the directorate," complains a current CIA analyst. "Your career can be ruined if you take on the prevailing opinion of senior managers." Again, this is an old problem, and Gentry in the 1990s was lamenting it, claiming analysis was "tailored to gain personal and institutional kudos - one that DCIs [William] Casey, [William] Webster, [Robert] Gates and [James] Woolsey showed no inclination to alter."

Gentry also urged major bloodletting in the DI, arguing that "The CIA's problem managers have prospered for so long that they are ubiquitous in senior executive suites and common throughout middle management as well." He called for widespread sackings. "The upheaval would be considerable, but it would be relatively short-lived. Some temporary disruption is far preferable to the ongoing malaise that has plagued the DI for a decade." That malaise could continue if Congress doesn't insist something be done.

Away from change at the CIA, many reformers maintain that the role and power of the DCI need to be strengthened. Writing several years ago, Victor Marchetti noted that Richard Helms frequently would rage at his limited powers when it came to trying to coordinate the intelligence community as a whole, observing "to his staff that while he, the DCI, was theoretically responsible for 100 percent of the nation's intelligence activities, he in fact controlled less than 15 percent of the community's assets - and most of the other 85 percent belonged to the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff."

Without a central figure knocking the heads of the myriad agencies that go to make up the U.S. intelligence community, interagency rivalry has been allowed to thrive. There is tremendous duplication, and confusion is sown among consumers of the intelligence product. Some reformers maintain that larger chunks of the intelligence community should come directly under the sway of the DCI and that he should have control of more of the budget. Such a move, though, would trigger a major turf war between Langley and the Pentagon, and any efforts to bring the National Security Agency under the CIA's control likely would bring the reform process to a shuddering halt with a lobbying fight being waged on Capitol Hill, insiders say.

Still, to overcome the ravages of poor leadership in the past and the dysfunction among the different parts of the intelligence community today will require tough remedial action and upheaval, but without boldness there can be no major improvement. The question is whether Congress and the White House are ready to grasp the nettle.

Jamie Dettmer is a senior editor for Insight.

Hamas invested in U.S. real estate with Gulf money
Monday, April 5, 2004
Hamas has invested up to $25 million in housing projects throughout the United States.
U.S. officials said the investment was believed to have stemmed from Saudi and other Gulf Arab sources as part of an effort to finance Hamas insurgency operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They said the funding pointed to the close links between Hamas and Gulf Arab supporters.
[In Nablus, Israeli special operations forces arrested 26 senior Hamas insurgents, Middle East Newsline reported. Israeli officials said this comprised the Hamas military command in the northern West Bank city.]
Hamas investments in the United States began in the early 1990s through Mussa Abu Marzouk, a member of Hamas's political bureau, officials said. The investments were handled mostly through a firm founded by an Egyptian national sentenced in January 2004 to one year in prison for relaying millions of dollars to Al Qaida as well as other Islamic insurgency groups.
In February, a U.S. federal court in Rhode Island ruled that Hamas must pay $116 million to the parents and children of an Israeli couple killed in a Palestinian attack in 1996. On Thursday, the same court ruled that the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority must also each pay similar damages to the plaintiffs.
FBI officials have provided evidence of Hamas investments during the investigation of Soliman Biheiri, alleged to have been a key conduit of Saudi and Gulf funding to Al Qaida and Hamas. The investigation of Biheiri, sentenced to one year in jail, was conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and included numerous Saudi-sponsored groups in the Washington D.C. area.
Hamas invested in the construction of hundreds of apartment units, many of them in the suburban Washington area, officials said. In Prince George County, Md., Hamas was said to have financed the construction of 57 homes in a project called Oxon Hill, which contains numerous Muslim immigrants.
Abu Marzouk, expelled by the United States in the late 1990s, was a principal investor in Oxon Hill. He was also cited as a principal of a Biheiri company, BMI, a subsidiary of which financed a development called Barnaby Knolls in Maryland.
Outlawed for 41 Years-Now Legal Again
THIS INVESTMENT launched the largest family fortune the world has ever seen -- and could return 665% in the next 12 months. Most Americans know almost nothing about this vehicle, which has been used by the world's wealthiest families (like the Rothschilds, DuPonts, and Morgans) to protect and grow their dynasties.

The investigation into Hamas investments stemmed from a federal raid of 14 Saudi-aligned businesses in Virginia in 2002 meant to uncover the ties between BMI and a Herndon, Va. corporation, Sana-Bell Inc. Sana-Bell was alleged to have laundered millions of dollars for the Saudi-sponsored International Islamic Relief Organization, believed connected to Hamas and the Egyptian Gamiat Islamiya.
A declaration of sentencing of Biheiri released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] detailed the Hamas investments. In the declaration, ICE senior agent David Kane said BMI employed investment schemes to launder large amounts of money to and from Hamas organizations and businesses. Kane said these organizations included 100 bogus charities, most of which operated in Virginia.
The declaration also traced the flow of money to Hamas for investment in the United States. It said money was flowing from Hamas charities through banks in Virginia and New Jersey to the port of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The ICE said a significant amount of revenues that stemmed from Hamas investments were employed "in furtherance of Hamas terrorist operations."
The key investor in BMI was identified as a Saudi national, Yasin Qadi. Qadi has been placed on a U.S. Treasury Department list of financiers of Al Qaida.
Copyright ? 2004 East West Services, Inc.


Saudis agree to detain transferred Guantanamo inmates
Monday, April 5, 2004
Saudi Arabia has agreed to detain several Al Qaida insurgents transferred by the United States.
U.S. officials said the Saudi detention was a condition for the release of several Saudi nationals in U.S. custody since early 2002. The nationals had been held for nearly two years at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Officials said many of the Guantanamo detainees managed to conceal their activities in Taliban and Al Qaida camps in Afghanistan. They said that in the past, at least one instance a freed Guantanamo detainee rejoined Al Qaida and its war against the West.
The Saudi nationals were identified as low-level operatives of Al Qaida, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said four Saudis had been transferred to Riyad for continued detention.
The Defense Department has begun releasing or transferring detainees from Guantanamo. So far, 146 detainees left the facility, most of them for freedom. About 30 others were transferred for continued detention in their native countries.
Currently, there are 595 detainees at Guantanamo. On Friday, the Pentagon said it transferred for release 15 detainees, including those from Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Yemen.
"The decision to transfer or release a detainee is based on many factors, including whether the detainee is of further intelligence value to the United States and whether he is believed to pose a threat to the United States," a Pentagon statement said.
The Al Qaida detainees transferred to Jordan arrived as the kingdom seized a truck filled with explosives and searched for two other vehicles believed sent by Al Qaida. The official A-Rai daily reported on Friday that authorities have been questioning suspects under the command of Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi, regarded as the most lethal Islamic insurgent in Iraq.
Copyright ? 2004 East West Services, Inc

The Saudi Fifth Column On Our Nation's Campuses

By Lee Kaplan | April 5, 2004

From Riyadh to Ramallah to the Ivy League, the Saudi Wahhabi lobby and money machine is funding the goals of radical Islam and undermining America's efforts to prosecute the War On Terror.

The press recently reported new closures by the Department of Justice of Saudi "charitable" fronts like the Muslim World League, the Al-Haramain Foundation, the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), and others which raised money for Al Qaeda, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.[1] But the government has so far ignored an even larger network of Saudi front groups working toward parallel ends.

This network is embedded deep within our system of higher education, including many of our most prestigious universities. The Saudis have steadily infiltrated American educational institutions, using vast infusions of money to turn the American educational system against US support for Israel and in favor of the Saudi vision of a global Muslim state in which not only Jews but Christians and all infidels will have subordinate status to the followers of the "true faith." At the same time they look to affect American policy in the Middle East and public opinion in the US in a way to aid their Wahhabist goals.[3]

Saudi Wahhabism fuels a particular hatred for the West and its liberalism regarding religious tolerance and human rights. It views attempts by the West to promote democratic reforms in the medieval Arab monarchy of the Saudi royal family as an affront to Islam. In other words, it shares the religious and political views of its wayward-but not forgotten- son, Osama Bin Laden.

Accordingly, the Saudi royal family has been waging its own quiet jihad of ideas and disinformation to advance its goals. It has also financed terrorist activities of Al Qaeda and Palestinian radicals. The US Senate Judiciary Committee recently heard testimony from fellow senators and terrorism experts that the Bush administration has failed to recognize the dangers of Saudi influence, having left the Kingdom in control of most of the Muslim organizations in the United States. For instance, 80% of the mortgages on mosques in the US are paid for by the Wahhabist Saudis.

Over the last 30 years the Saudi Royal Family has contributed upwards of 70 billion US dollars to infiltrate worldwide institutions with propaganda against the West and Israel. This sum, it has been observed, makes the one billion dollars per annum spent by the Soviet Union during the Cold War for Communist propaganda pale by comparison. [4] The Saudis see donations to our universities as a way of promoting their political and religious propaganda. To quote their English language daily, Ain Al Yaqueen: "The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz has positively shouldered responsibility and played a promising role in order to raise the banner of Islam all over the globe and raise the Islamic call either inside or outside the kingdom."[5]

The new head of Middle East Studies at UC Santa Barbara, Stephen Humphreys, holds a chair named after Aziz himself. The head of the Muslim American Society , W. Deen Muhammed, has stated that Saudi gifts require the receiver to prefer the Saudi "school of thought." While Humphreys denies there are strings attached, one wonders how likely a thesis on Saudi misogyny or their educational system teaching hatred of Americans, Jews and Christians would go over in Saudi funded departments if someone hoped to advance or be tenured.[6]

One wonders why a theocratic totalitarian regime where 30% of the population is illiterate and where PhDs teach that Jews use the blood of gentile children to make matzoh[8] would take such interest in the American educational system instead of their own.[9]Yet the money the Saudis are pouring into our universities and colleges as gifts and endowments is alarming: King Fahd donated $20 million dollars to set up a Middle East Studies Center at the University of Arkansas; $5 million was donated to UC Berkeley's Center For Mideast Studies from two Saudi sheiks linked to funding Al Qaeda; [10] $2.5 million dollars to Harvard; $8.1 million dollars to Georgetown including a $500,000 scholarship in the name of President Bush; $11 million dollars to Cornell; $1.5 million dollars to Texas A&M; $5 million dollars to MIT; $1 million dollars to Princeton; Rutgers received $5 million dollars to endow a chair as did Columbia which tried to hide where the money came from.[11] Saudi largesse included UC Santa Barbara; Johns Hopkins; Rice University; American University in Washington, D.C.; University of Chicago; Syracuse University; USC; UCLA; Duke University; and Howard University among many others.[12]

Saudi infiltration works on several levels. By creating new Middle East Studies Centers and such endowed chairs on campuses across the US, the Saudis are able to influence the curriculum taught to the next generation of American students about the Middle East situation as taught at Saudi-funded madrassas both here and abroad. That curriculum is decidedly anti-Western and full of incitement against Christians and Jews.[13] Based not on truth as much as the agenda of the totalitarian regime in power, it "molds" the next generation to hate Israel and to hate America as an "imperialist" or "racist" nation.[14]

For example, according to Middle East historian Martin Kramer, Columbia University has become the "Bir Zeit (University) on -the- Hudson"[15]. Bir Zeit is a university built for the Palestinians by Israel in the West Bank. Instead of its being a source for educational prosperity and peace, it is a breeding ground for totalitarian terrorist ideologues and their ilk. Faculty write scholarly works about Middle East history against the US and Israel as a matter of course. At Columbia, Palestinians dominate the teaching of the modern Middle East and do not encourage a diversity of approaches in doing so. [16] When a chair is endowed by Saudi money it is filled by academics known for their Palestinian or Saudi activism less than for their scholarship.

Thus Columbia's new chair was given to Rashid Khalidi, a University of Chicago historian and Palestinian activist. Khalidi took over the "Edward Said Chair Of Arab Studies." Said, who died recently, and who was raised in Egypt, was a member of the Palestine National Council and anti-Israel activitist thought the Oslo peace process was a "sellout." [17] He was an English literature professor, whose expertise was Jane Austen, yet his anti-American and anti-Israel writings dominate the perspectives of Middle East Studies departments across the nation.

Khalidi is on record defending the killing of Israeli soldiers: "Killing civilians is a war crime, whoever does it, but resistance to occupation is legitimate in international law". [18] Khalidi is an obsessive Israel basher and has stated Americans are "brainwashed" by the Middle East's only democracy. He also considered US popular support for overthrowing Saddam Hussein an "idiots' consensus". [19]

Another Palestinian professor in Columbia's Middle East Studies program is Joseph Massad, who also rails against the US and Israel. Massad likes to denigrate American democracy by alluding to early 19th century history when slavery was a worldwide institution, and accuses America of nuclear genocide for using the atomic bomb to end World WarII. He has also characterized Israel as an "imperialist" and "colonial" concoction of the Europeans. [20]

With Khalidi's appointment as chair and Massad as the main teacher of politics and history of the Middle East at Columbia, what students will be exposed to with no alternative views isn't hard to imagine. Even Lisa Anderson, head of International Studies at Columbia has conceded publicly that Middle East Studies at Columbia are not balanced, nor are they at other Middle East Studies centers nationwide.[21] What is more telling is that Columbia tried to conceal where the money came from to fund Khalidi's chair until pressure from outside academics and even the state of New York required it.[22] Daniel Pipes has remarked that choosing Khalidi for the Columbia chair is "particularly egregious because he is one of a team of Palestinian falsifiers who are all giving us this propagandist, non-scholarly interpretation of the Middle East" and that Columbia's cover-up of the donors "doesn't smell right". Steve Emerson, who reports to Congress frequently on terrorism issues, has stated publicly that "Khalidi's statements raise serious questions about his attitudes on violence" [23]

But Columbia is not alone. Such departments and professors are now found in Middle East Studies programs nationwide.

UC Berkeley's Center For Middle East Studies website boasts of receiving a $5 million dollar grant courtesy of Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Sheikh Salahudin Yusef Hamza Abdeljawad, another major donor. Both are linked to Islamic charities which the US government says are front groups for funding Al Qaeda and both are now part of a $1 trillion dollar lawsuit by the families of the victims of 9/11.

Their contributions link through a labyrinth of front banks and charitable institutions which ultimately finance terrorism against the West. Al-Saud gives generously to the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, the Muslim League and World Assembly of Muslim Youth--all established fronts for terrorist funding named by the US State Department. And Abdeljawad is linked to the Saudi Dar-Al_Maal-Islami Bank founded by Osama Bin Laden and managed by Osama Bin Laden's brother that is known by the State Department to also fund terrorism as well. Did the Sultan Al-Saud give money knowingly to charity that made its way to Bin Laden? [24]

A visit to the Sultan's foundation website in Saudi Arabia tells much more. It lists a "Higher Council" or board of directors which includes one Abdulrahman bin Ali Jeraisy who has been openly funding Al Qaeda according to a report to Congress.[25] UC Berkeley's Saudi funded academics have more than satisfied Saudi goals of using US campuses to teach hate for America and Israel. The Israel divestment petition was begun at UC Berkeley and has been promoted by faculty there. [26] A Jewish student who complained to her Arabic instructor about the anti-semitic Protocols Of the Elders Zion was told that the ficitious "protocols" were indeed written by Jews. She was then attacked by the instructor's supervisor, who openly called her a liar and threatened her with a libel suit. He even lied to the press claiming an investigation had been conducted of the student's claims when the student was never interviewed. The instructor held so firm to his comment about Jews being authors of the forgeries that the campus newspaper believed afterward that the "protocols: were actually written by Jews. [27]

Saudi endowed chairs and departments have produced faculty at the college level in America who spout the propaganda provided to 8th graders in Saudi Arabian schools, where textbooks claim that Jews "are people of treachery and betrayal." At Connecticut State University, Norton Mezvinsky, has declared Judaism a religion of "racism" whose followers believe that "the blood of non-Jews has no intrinsic value" and that the killing of non-Jews does "not constitute murder according to the Jewish religion" and that Judaism teaches "the killing of innocent Arabs for revenge is a Jewish virtue." While textbooks in Saudi Arabia claim "the Zionist Jews are the enemies of Islam and supporters of the modern Crusaders" Joel Beinin, Middle East Studies professor at Stanford and former head of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), rails against America's "Zionist lobby" that controls the US government by blocking democracy and economic development in the Arab world" and uses power "to make and unmake regimes". [29]

The University of Arkansas Middle East Studies department, set up under King Fahd, offers an Arabic language program. A sample newsletter published by the department contains a full-page poem translated by some of the studnet body's Arabic language students entitled "A Letter To A Faraway Friend (from inside the occupied territory)". The poem subtly demeans Israel and praises martyrdom and death. [30] The sole guest lecturer to the department mentioned on its site is Joel Beinin.[31]

Examples abound on campuses all over the country. Harvard received a $2 million dollar grant from Sheik Khalid Al Turki. For its graduation ceremony it chose a student, Zayed Yasin, for commencement speaker. His speech? "My American Jihad." Yasin has voiced his support for Hamas and says suicide bombers should be paid. He also has raised money for the Holy Land Foundation, one of the Islamic charities shut down by the Bush administration as a front for Al-Qaeda.[32] Prince Alaweed Bin Talal recently donated $500,000 to Georgetown University for a scholarship program in President Bush's name. Alaweed also recently donated $27 million dollars to Hamas. Martin Kramer's book "Ivory Towers On Sand: The Failure Of Middle East Studies" illustrates many other similar situations on US campuses to show how pervasive this has become. [33]

Saudi money sets up these academic departments with anti-American and anti-Israel agendas, but U.S. taxpayers underwrite the programs themselves. This is done through Title VI funding mandated by Congress. Originated in the late 1950's during the Cold War, Title VI received an additional $86 million dollars after 9/11 as part of the Education Act. This allowed the creation of 118 Middle East Resource Centers at US colleges and universities where Arabic would be taught and security analysis developed in the War On Terror. Yet the program has been seriously abused. The idea was that the universities would provide an understanding of the Middle East and Arab language experts for the military and intelligence services. But most Middle East Studies departments let their students slide by with minimal Arabic instruction. The focus is on research articles which serve the worldwide cause of jihad when they have any contemporary relevance.[34] It goes also for "outreach" programs to secondary schools which are little more than propaganda efforts against Israel and the United States.

At Georgetown University such an outreach program is provided for teachers from kindergarten level through the 12th grade. Seminars are packed with Arab anti-war activists opposed to the removal of Saddam Hussein by the US military. One of these "academics" was in fact once a public relations consultant for Saddam Hussein and blamed the oppression of Iraq's people by Saddam Hussein on the United States. No opposing views were presented.[35]

Once the Saudi endowments are complete, matching funds are then provided by the US taxpayer, who refreshes the Saudi investment with matching funds through Title VI. One "scholar" who lobbied for the continuation of such funding to the State Department recently was Hussein Ibish, a non-academic and leader of the radical American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. [36]

Besides paying the salaries of academics who advance the Saudi "point of view", Title VI money goes to what could be considered the Saudis' "foot soldiers" on campus, activists who will spread the word beyond the scholarly community. Co-mingled funding for Middle East centers goes into stipends, scholarships and fellowships for Arab students to support them in their work as activists spearheading Muslim and Palestinian groups on campus. While handpicked Arab professors and sympathizers "reeducate" the student body to the proper "point of view," these student activist groups carry it forward, creating an atmosphere that permeates campuses with anti-American and anti-Israeli propaganda. A tour of any major campus will reveal the prevalance of professionally produced flyers posted against Israel and "Zionists" (the new euphemism for Jews) or against American policy in Iraq, and "film festivals" and lectures devoted to crude attacks on alleged Israeli "massacres" and other alleged atrocities.

All this is made possible by the Title VI funding of stipends to Middle East Studies students. Arab students may train overseas during the summer in "activism" then return to campus to ply their skills. As a result, anti-Semitic attacks are on the increase on our college campuses. Not long ago Jewish students at San Francisco State needed to be escorted to safety by off-campus city police during a pro-Israel rally, causing one professor to remark it was like Germany in the 1930's. At Concordia University, 1,500 "students" showed up to create a riot and prevent former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from speaking about terrorism on that campus and ticket holders needed a police escort off campus as well.

This tide of abuse needs to be addressed. Academic departments with political agendas is a new phenomenon on American campuses and directly violates the principles of Academic Freedom established by the American Association of University Professors and long recognized by accrediting institutions. Congress has recently taken a needed step to oversee the way it provides Title VI needs to take a hard look at the way it provides money to underwrite these programs. University trustees and administrators need to do likewise.












[12] Source: US Dept. of Education (figures may be higher due to more current donations).












[24] also:








[32] also:




[36] also: (note discussion of American-Arab Anti-discrimination Committee touring Saudi information minister) also: also:





Lee Kaplan is a contributing editor to

Boycotting Israel at NYU?

By Martin Kramer | April 5, 2004

The habitual academic petition-signers against Israel are out in force, in a letter to Hebrew University president Menachem Magidor. They charge that Israel "makes it difficult or impossible for Palestinian teachers and students to reach their universities," and that Israeli troops are responsible for "harassment, arrests, random shootings and assaults" on Palestinian campuses. The occupation itself, they write, "disrupts the necessary framework for any successful educational structure." The signatories of the letter call themselves "defenders of Palestinian academic freedom and supporters of the academic boycott against Israel." And they ask "the Israeli academic leadership where it stands on the issue of current Israeli policy, and to share with us what Israeli academic institutions are doing to challenge the behavior of your government." (For more, see this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.)

Now I don't speak for anyone else, but I know where I would lay the blame for the plight of Palestinian academic institutions. (By the way, there wasn't even one such institution in the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, and every one of them was established under the Israeli occupation.) I would lay the blame on the Palestinian Authority for choosing war, and on the violent militias that use campuses as recruitment stations for terrorists.

Nevertheless, Israeli academics have never boycotted Palestinian professors, even in the worst days of terror. To the contrary: if you're organizing a conference in Israel, it's almost obligatory to have a Palestinian professor on the podium. Free exchange is what academic freedom means, and Israeli universities have done an admirable job of upholding it in trying times. In contrast, the academic boycott against Israel is itself a gross violation of academic freedom, because it explicitly imposes a political litmus test on Israeli scholars. It's radical-style McCarthyism.

Among the American signatories, there are a handful of Middle East academics. Only one stands out: Professor Zachary Lockman, who identifies himself as director of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at New York University. He stands out because he's the only signatory with any academic clout. In fact, not only did he become director of NYU's Middle East center last fall. His center simultaneously became a self-standing Title VI National Resource Center for the Middle East. Its activities enjoy a federal subsidy of around $400,000 a year.

Now that Lockman has announced himself as a "supporter of the academic boycott against Israel," the question for New York University and the U.S. Department of Education is a simple one. Is it Lockman's intention to implement the boycott that he supports, in the National Resource Center that he administers? If the answer is yes, then New York University's provost should insist he step down. It's unthinkable that a comprehensive center for Middle Eastern studies would boycott Israeli academics. (Tell the provost yourself if you agree.) And it's unthinkable that the U.S. government would subsidize such a center. If Lockman is going to walk the boycott walk at the Kevorkian Center, its federal subsidy should be revoked immediately.

Now it may be that Lockman supports the boycott only in principle, and has no intention of acting on his principle. But having signed the petition as the director of the Kevorkian Center, and not simply as an NYU professor (which would have sufficed for identification purposes), he has to clarify that point. Specifically, he must reassure New York University and the U.S. Department of Education that no boycott, in any form whatsoever, open or tacit, will be implemented at the Kevorkian Center. Anything less than an explicit reassurance will leave a cloud of suspicion hanging over the place.

When I was a center director, in the 1990s, I was careful to stay clear of political controversy, so as not to drag my colleagues down my own alley. Professor Lockman seems to feel no comparable obligation. His colleagues might ask themselves whether they can afford this sort of academic "leadership." They should affirm that Lockman doesn't speak for them or the Kevorkian Center, whose name he has deliberately put on a political statement. If they feel otherwise, they should announce that as well. (Professor Timothy Mitchell, previous director, also signed the boycott letter.) So Lockman wants to know where every academic in Israel stands? Let's first find out where every member and affiliate of the Kevorkian Center stands.

Update: I'm pleased to report that Professor Lockman has clarified his position to the provost of NYU, repudiating the boycott. "Neither I nor NYU's Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, which I direct, advocate or implement such a boycott," Lockman writes in a letter dated April 2. And he adds:

I signed the letter as a supporter of academic freedom for Palestinian scholars and academic institutions, not as a supporter of a boycott against Israel. However, the wording of the letter was such that it could have led people to construe my support for the defense of the academic freedom of Palestinians as an endorsement of a boycott of Israeli scholars and academic institutions, which is not the case. In reality, neither the Kevorkian Center, nor I as an individual, advocates or practices a boycott of Israeli scholars or academic institutions. In fact, the Center regularly hosts visiting scholars and professors from Israel and maintains ongoing relations with Israeli academic institutions, and issues related to Israel are part of the Center's program.
NYU provost David McLaughlin has accepted Lockman's assurances. The boycott letter that Lockman signed, McLaughlin adds, "was poorly constructed, its wording inadequately precise, and so his signing of it unclear as to his intentions." Actually, I thought it was pretty straightforward. And as Lockman says he signed the letter via the Internet, I wonder how he failed to notice that the web address of the letter is, and the title of the webpage is "Boycott Israeli Academic and Research Institutions: Open Letter." That's not exactly subtle. Even so, I will not dispute the assurances he's now given.

The main thing, however, is that the provost has added his own assurances:

The University's position on calls for a boycott is clear. It stands firm against any such boycott, which by its very nature runs counter to the essence of the University, and to the values to which New York University in particular is committed. Our view is that the University is a space that encourages open, free and continuous dialogue free from fear of recrimination.
That's an important statement by the university's leading academic official, it binds the entire university, and I'm delighted to have elicited it.

If there is a lesson here, it is that academics, who make their livelihood by the crafting of written and spoken words, should be discriminating in what they sign. I'll continue to keep a sharp eye on the doings of the Kevorkian Center and its director. But from my point of view, Lockman has done the right thing. I hope the other signatories will follow suit.

George Galloway: It's not easy being Gorgeous
George Galloway is embroiled in the mother of all libel battles. But the cigar-chomping rebel MP laughs in the face of disaster. Deborah Ross takes a ride in his Mercedes to hear why
05 April 2004

I meet George Galloway - also known as Gorgeous George, of course, as well as Britain's biggest champion of the Arab world - at his office in the House of Commons. I'm not sure why, but by the time I arrive, which is mid-afternoon-ish, George and the photographer are engaged in a conversation about beards not being fashionable any more. "A hundred years ago every MP had one," George is saying. David Blunkett still has one, I say. "Yes, but he probably doesn't know he has one," George says.

George does not have a beard, but he does have a little silver moustache. "Emma Nicholson once told me," he says, "that kissing a man without a moustache is like eating an egg without salt." Everyone else in the room - myself, the photographer, two of Galloway's staff, Yasmin and Rima - freezes in horror, largely because, I think, we had always hoped to get though life without ever having to hear "egg" and "moustache" in the same sentence. Who hasn't?

George isn't fazed, though. I don't think much ever fazes George. "I thought it might have been a come-on," he continues, "so I beat a hasty retreat." He'd quite like to be thought of as a bit of a sexy beast, I think. His favourite actor, it turns out, is Jack Nicholson, and there is this sense that he might model himself on Jack, a little.

Certainly, he chomps on his fat cigars in a very Hollywood sort of way. He is chomping on one now, but while this cigar, he says, is all very well, it's not as juicily fat as his favourite, "the Montecristo No 2; they're like torpedoes". But he's suspended his Montecristo habit for the time being. They're expensive, he says, and what with his upcoming libel battle against The Daily Telegraph, "I have to put money into my legal pot. My bill is already a quarter of a million pounds. Luckily, my lawyers have faith in me. They're not asking for it up front."

We're off to Walsall, where George is due to speak at 7.30pm at a meeting of Respect, the new lefty anti-war party he founded to contest the European elections. Rima - thirty-ish, Manchester-born, of Lebanese/ Syrian descent - is coming too. She's a rubbish map-reader, it turns out, but is very beautiful with glossy black corkscrew curls. "You should meet her mother," says George later. "Wow, what a looker!"

We walk down the corridor. Mike Gapes, the pro-Israel MP, is a near neighbour. Do they pass the time of day? "No," George replies. I try to work out who his mates are in the anti-war lot. Glenda Jackson? "A cold fish," he says, shiveringly. "To me, her finest role was in A Touch of Class. She was very loveable in that." So if she can act loveable, she should be able to act warm? "Exactly. I do admire her Joan of Arc-like integrity, though." Ken Livingstone? "I admire and respect him, but he's not an easy person to like." Robin Cook? "Of course, while we must welcome any sinner that repents, he prepared the ground for all that happened."

His best friends include Alan Milburn, Barbara Roche, John Reid and Margaret Hodge. OK, maybe not. "I used to regard them as Trots! Margaret was always known as Enver Hoxha, after the Albanian dictator: now she's like a member of the Royal Family, lecturing patronisingly all over the place." I suppose that, whatever you might think about George, you do have to admire him for not shifting when the wind did. However, he did once have ministerial ambitions: "I would have loved to have been Foreign Secretary." So maybe there is some frustration and bitterness here. Perhaps, even, it's not so much that he loves Iraq, or found good in Saddam - more that he hates New Labour so much that any enemy of theirs has to be a friend of his.

Out to his car, now, which is parked in the forecourt. It's a big navy Mercedes. But it's not new, he stresses, and "I've done 108,000 miles in it since September 11". So many speaking engagements, he's had time for little else. Not even Sex and the City. "My staff encouraged me to watch and I did begin to feel I knew the characters." Who did he fancy most? "Well, you'd want to marry Charlotte and you'd want to sleep with Samantha, wouldn't you?"

In your dreams, pal, I want to say, but of course I'm much too polite. "Nice car," I do say. "I always pay for my own petrol," he says. His combined salary as an MP and columnist for the Scottish edition of The Mail on Sunday amounts to ?150,000 a year. He once, famously, interviewed Saddam for The Mail on Sunday. Saddam offered him a Quality Street, which he did not accept. "I'm not really a chocolate man. I'm more cakes and puddings. I like banoffee pie."

His other cars, by the way, include a Range Rover in Portugal, where he has a second home, and "a soft-top vintage Mercedes, which I bought with my libel winnings from Robert Maxwell. All my cars are third-hand. The only new car I've ever owned was a Lada. It was good. Never broke down once. Soviet engineering!"

Rima offers to drive, but George won't hear of it. "I don't feel as manly, somehow, being driven." George, 50, is not a big man. He's surprisingly small, in fact, but stockily powerful with stockily powerful thighs, now splayed on the driving seat. (That's another image you didn't want, I bet.) His jeans strain at the seams. They used to be black but are so old they're that strange green that old black things go. His jacket is positively shiny with age. I'm shocked. What happened to Gorgeous George of the chi-chi Kenzo suits? "I used to be much better dressed because I used to have more time to shop," he says. "I like Selfridges. I used to go there a couple of times a year, but for the last couple of years, with the war and the run-up to the war, I really haven't had time." Rima offers George a small white pillow. "Piles?" I ask, sympathetically. "My back," he replies, firmly.

The car comes to life with a soft purr. We move off, past the Houses of Parliament. "I like the House of Commons. I like it late at night. It's got a certain majesty about it. But at the same time I could turn my back on it easily enough." George was expelled from the Labour Party (he is now the independent MP for Glasgow Kelvin) last October for his extreme anti-war rhetoric.

Would he return, if invited? No, he says. "If the Labour Party were to undergo some convulsive change, then obviously I'd have to think about that. But just swapping Blair for Brown wouldn't be a convulsive change." How did it feel, I ask, to be expelled? "I wasn't surprised, but I was shocked. When they said the words, I did feel a stab. But I'm over it." Does anything ever faze him? "Calamity has hardened me and turned my mind to steel," he says. Poetic, I say. "Ho Chi Minh," he says.

George and calamity. Everywhere George goes, trouble follows, as sure as eggs are eggs (which is fine; just don't bring moustaches into it). The classic case was at War on Want, which he raised from an unknown outfit to a major charity. At the same time, he was accused of fiddling his expenses and philandering. While an independent auditor cleared him of dishonesty, he admitted to coming away from a business trip to Greece with "carnal knowledge" of another woman, despite being married at the time. Not a happy marriage, then? "I wouldn't have been having an affair if it had been a happy marriage." Pause. "Rima, are we taking the M6?"

He is always being libelled, too. "I've won - if that's the word - a quarter of a million pounds in libel damages over the years, but I can honestly tell you I'd rather the libels hadn't happened. I hate being hated, lashed, traduced." Why are you libelled so often? "That's what my lawyers would like to know." Most recently, he won ?30,000 from The Times (for a Julie Burchill column that confused him with another MP altogether) and substantial undisclosed damages from the The Christian Science Monitor over a claim, based on what turned out to be forged documents, that he was paid ?10m by Saddam to oppose the conflict in Iraq.

The forgeries, he says, are evidence of a dirty-tricks campaign. "If you'd been at any of the anti-war demonstrations you'd know that I'm the main speaker, am always the final speaker and always get the best response." That's modest of you, George. "Those are facts." His libel case against the Telegraph involving another set of documents - this time purporting to show that he had been receiving ?375,000 a year from the Iraqi government - is due in court in November. He is impenetrably confident - but what, I ask, if it does go against him? He'll be finished, politically and financially. "If the worst comes to the worst," he says, "I'll go up a hill and read a book. I know I've done nothing to be ashamed of."

We're purring up the Edgware Road now... Born and brought up in Dundee, his father worked in an engineering factory. I ask if he still feels working-class, with his Merc and his salary and his houses - which he now shares with his second wife, a Palestinian scientist. "I'm absolutely working-class. It's how you relate to other people, how awkward you feel when you kiss them... do you kiss them on one cheek or two? Are you absolutely confident about what to do with all that cutlery? Do you switch over when the opera comes on? Have you ever been to ballet?"

I say that a good test is having a cleaner. Middle-class people are good at underpaying and bossing them, but working-class people aren't, no matter how wealthy they might have become. He agrees: "I can't bear the thought of somebody being given orders to clean things in my house." Yes, he does have a cleaner, but he also has a solution. "I try to be out when she comes."

I ask George to describe his politics in one word. "Socialist. Although I'm not as left wing as you think." Surprise me, George. "I'm strongly against abortion. I believe life begins at conception, and therefore unborn babies have rights. I think abortion is immoral." You can't be pro-choice? "Who is choosing for the child?"

Well, I say, better the unborn unwanted child than the born unwanted one. "I can't accept that, because I believe in God. I have to believe that the collection of cells has a soul." No, he says, his faith in God cannot be shaken, and, yes, he hopes to go to Heaven. "I believe the souls of the departed will be there, and that I will see the good people I have known again." What would Hell be? A two-up, two-down shared with Tony Blair, Charles Moore, Julie Burchill and a cleaner who demands a lot of direction? "That would be hell," he confirms.

We stop at a motorway services. Cheese toasties all round. George's treat. I have to say, if he did ever earn ?375,000 a year from the Hussein regime, he's not spending it on snacks. Then it's back on the road, arriving in Walsall at seven-ish, but then, alas, Rima's map-reading skills being what they are, we drive round and round the same one-way system 78 times. George tries not to lose it. "The air in this car would be very blue if you weren't in it," he tells me.

Eventually, we do make the venue. "Anywhere to park, brother?" George asks the chap outside. "No, brother, but if you drive up to the roundabout and take the first left..." George passes the keys to Rima. "She'll do it," he says. He does not add: "Would you mind, sister?" He might be quite good at bossing staff about, after all.

George is the last speaker and, yes, the best. Then it's home on the last train to London. The day hasn't been so bad. I've quite enjoyed it, actually. I like George. I've no idea if the Telegraph's allegations against him are true or not. But I do hope not. Then, maybe I'm just assuming that any enemy of New Labour has to be a friend of mine. It may take me a while to forgive the egg-and-moustache thing, though. Obviously.
5 April 2004 22:46

? 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd


U.S. sanctions Gulf firm for helping Iran's missile program

Monday, April 5, 2004
The United States has sanctioned a firm from the United Arab Emirates for providing help to Iran's cruise missile program.

It was the first time the United States has sanctioned a company from the UAE, regarded as an ally of Washington. Previously, U.S. sanctions regarding missile assistance to Iran included China, North Korea, Russia and former East Bloc states.

Officials did not immediately identify the UAE firm, Middle East Newsline reported. But they said the Bush administration has discussed with the UAE the need to tighten export controls to prevent the transfer of components and technology for missile and weapons of mass destruction programs.

On Friday, the State Department announced sanctions on 13 companies that provided missile components to Iran. The companies included five Chinese firms, two from Macedonia, two from Russia, one from Belarus, North Korea, Taiwan and the UAE.
State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said the sanctions were in accordance to the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000. Ereli said sanctions were not imposed on any of the countries where the companies were based.
"The penalties were imposed pursuant to the Act," Ereli said, "because there was credible information indicating that these companies had transferred to Iran, since Jan. 1, 1999, either equipment and technology on the export -- multilateral export control lists or items such as those on the list but falling below control list parameters or other items with the potential of making a material contribution to proscribed programs."
So far, 23 entities have come under U.S. sanctions since the legislation, which bans any dealings by the U.S. government with these companies. In 2003, four entities were sanctioned.
On March 23, the State Department lifted sanctions from six Russian entities. Officials said the six were found to have no longer supplied missile assistance to Iran.
On Sunday, UAE officials disclosed that the Central Bank has frozen $3.1 million in funds linked to what they termed terrorist groups as well as SMB Computers, the Dubai-based company employed by the Pakistani nuclear network of scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. Officials said Dubai authorities were briefed by U.S. officials on SMB's role in processing and shipping nuclear weapons components to Iran and Libya. In mid-March, they said, SMB was shut down.
"The UAE Central Bank has frozen all accounts related to SMB Computer Co. as part of the investigation," Central Bank governor Sultan Bin Nasser Al Suwaidi said. "The investigating committee has made significant progress.
The Dubai public prosecutor will soon announce the results of the probe."
Copyright ? 2004 East West Services, Inc
Kharrazi to visit Moscow Monday
Friday, April 02, 2004 - ?2004
Tehran, April 2 (IranMania) -- According to Iran's State News Agency (IRNA) Iran's Foreign Minister Dr Kamal Kharrazi is to arrive in Moscow on Monday to take part in a meeting of foreign ministers of the Caspian Sea littoral states.
The meeting, to open Tuesday, will be attended by Foreign Ministers of the sea`s five littoral states--Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.
According to the Russian president`s special envoy for Caspian Sea affairs, Viktor Kalyuzni, the foreign ministers will tackle issues such as the military activities of states in the sea, an equitable manner of dividing the sea and determination of fishing areas.
The meeting will also make preliminary arrangements for a meeting of heads of the sea`s littoral countries to be held in Tehran this year.


Monday, April 5, 2004 1:53 p.m. EDT

Soldiers as Victims

Our item Friday on blogger Markos Zuniga's post about the four Blackwater Security Consulting contractors murdered in Fallujah, Iraq, last week--"They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them," Zuniga said--brought this response from reader Josh Waxman:
It would be "fair and balanced" if you also mentioned that Markos explained that the reason he was angry was because the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq got second billing to the deaths of these individuals.
But that might not please your master, would it? It's really nice when facts are things you can use as you wish, and discard when they're inconvenient.
We don't want to get into any trouble, so if you see our master, please don't tell him we published Waxman's letter. Anyway, we're not sure how Zuniga's professed sympathy for soldiers is a mitigating factor. "Screw them," he said of four men who had been lynched. Is such an attitude less despicable because there are other people whose lynching Zuniga would object to?
The distinction between soldiers and civilian contractors seems like mere hairsplitting when you consider that all four of the Fallujah dead were retired U.S. military special forces officers. Reader Ray Gardner puts things in perspective:
Blackwater and security firms like them are a place where former Marines, special forces soldiers and other high-speed types from the U.S. military go upon leaving active duty.
Going back in the Marines myself is just not feasible at my age but I have considered going to work for such a security firm since 9/11. Such employment for me would be the next best thing to going back to active duty.
Others go into such work for a variety of reasons, but one thing is common among them; they are hardworking Americans, mostly military veterans, who have given their lives to defending this country.
To speak out against Blackwater's employees is to speak against veterans one and all. When they were active duty, these guys were the 5% that did all of the dirty work.
Zuniga's rationalization is interesting, though, for what it tells us about the way the left views the U.S. military. Back in the Vietnam era, the antiwar movement vilified American servicemen; as we noted in February, when John Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971, he charged his fellow veterans with all manner of war crimes.
Somewhere along the line, it became politically incorrect on the liberal left (as distinct from the radical left) to disparage members of the military. The operative principle became: We support the troops, though we oppose their mission. Members of the military thereby achieved the status of accredited victims, entitled to liberal "compassion." And in a February interview with CNN's Judy Woodruff, Kerry reinterpreted his 1971 views to absolve soldiers of any guilt: "I was accusing American leaders of abandoning the troops. . . . It's the leaders who are responsible, not the soldiers. . . . I've always fought for the soldiers."
The San Francisco Chronicle has a revealing profile of Susan Galleymore, a 48-year-old Alameda, Calif., antiwar activist whose son, Nick, is an Army Ranger serving in Iraq. Galleymore doesn't approve of Nick's chosen career, and she's written about it:
In one essay, Galleymore asked for others to appreciate that the soldiers are in a dilemma, "caught in a military culture that encourages the numbing of most emotions but anger. Whip up enough anger in young men emotionally isolated, denied friends, family, lovers, even civilians [sic] clothes, physically exhaust them, nourish them inadequately, expose them to extreme temperatures and violent behavior, confine them to base and portray everyone else as murderous and you create impossible stress."
Nick told his mother that wasn't his experience.
Indeed. The idea of soldier-as-victim might have made some sense in 1971, when the draft was on and some soldiers were in Vietnam against their will. But today's military has not a single conscript; everyone fighting in Iraq and elsewhere is a professional who has voluntarily chosen a hazardous line of work. They deserve our gratitude and respect, not our pity.
Very Awkward Facts
Richard Clarke's denials of Iraq's terror ties don't ring true.

Saturday, April 3, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST

The credibility of Clinton counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke has come under withering fire. He has been caught in error after error, omission after omission. I can attest to one error more: a highly revealing error that tells us a great deal about who Richard Clarke really is.
Mr. Clarke singles me out for special criticism in his book, "Against All Enemies." This is not surprising. He believes that Islamic terrorism is the work of a few individual criminals, many of them relatives. I have for years gathered the evidence that shows that terrorism is something more than a mom-and-pop operation: that it is supported by powerful states, very much including Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
Mr. Clarke is a man famously intolerant of those who disagree with him. When he cannot win the argument, he cheats. And that is what he has done again in the pages of his book. In order to explain why he opposed the war with Iraq, Mr. Clarke mischaracterizes the arguments of those of us who favored it. The key mischaracterization turns on an important intelligence debate about the identity of the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. This mastermind goes by the name of "Ramzi Yousef." But who was "Ramzi Yousef"?
The evidence suggests that "Ramzi Yousef" had close connections to the Iraqi security services. This evidence has impressed, among others, former CIA chief James Woolsey, and Richard Perle, former head of the Defense Policy Board. Mr. Clarke calls the Yousef-Saddam connection an "utterly discredited" theory, unworthy of serious debate. He likes the phrase so much, he even uses it on the dust jacket of his book. But let's review the facts:
* Fact No. 1: "Ramzi Yousef" entered the U.S. in September 1992 on an Iraqi passport, with stamps showing a journey beginning in Baghdad. This fact is attested by the inspector who admitted Yousef into the U.S. Yet Mr. Clarke contends that Yousef entered the U.S. without a passport.

* Fact No. 2: The sole remaining fugitive from the 1993 bombing, Abdul Rahman Yasin, is an Iraqi. After the attack, Yasin fled to Iraq. The Iraqi regime rewarded Yasin with a house and monthly stipend. Yet Mr. Clarke claims, incredibly, that the Iraqis jailed Yasin.

* Fact No. 3: Seven men were indicted in the 1993 attack. Two of the seven, Yousef and Yasin, have Iraqi connections. Yet Mr. Clarke inflates the number of participants to 12, so as to create the impression that the presence of one or two men with Iraqi connections was no big deal.

* Fact No. 4: The truth is, we don't really know much about the prisoner bearing the name "Ramzi Yousef." Judge Kevin Duffy, who presided over Yousef's two trials, observed at sentencing: "We don't even know what your real name is." Yet Mr. Clarke claims to know what the judge did not: Yousef, he writes, "was born Abdul Basit in Pakistan and grew up in Kuwait where his father worked."
To reach this conclusion, Mr. Clarke has to ignore a forest of awkward facts. In late 1992, according to court documents, Yousef went to the Pakistani consulate in New York with photocopies of the 1984 and 1988 passports of Abdul Basit Karim (those documents have Karim born in Kuwait). Yousef claimed to be Karim, saying he had lost his passport and needed a new one to return home. He received a temporary passport, in the name of Abdul Basit Karim, which he used to flee New York the night of the Trade Center bombing.
Karim was, indeed, a real person, a Pakistani reared in Kuwait. After completing high school in Kuwait, Karim studied for three years in Britain. He graduated from the Swansea Institute in June 1989 and returned home, where he got a job in Kuwait's Planning Ministry. He was there a year later, when Iraq invaded.
Kuwait maintained an alien resident file on Karim. That file appears to have been altered to create a false identity or "legend" for the terrorist Yousef. Above all, the file contains a fingerprint card bearing Yousef's prints. But Yousef is not Karim--as Judge Duffy implied--for many reasons, including the fact that Yousef is 6 feet tall, while Karim was significantly shorter, according to his teachers at Swansea. They do not believe their student is the terrorist mastermind. Indeed, according to Britain's Guardian newspaper, latent fingerprints lifted from material Mr. Karim left at Swansea bear "no resemblance" to Yousef's prints. They are two different people.
The fingerprint card in Mr. Karim's file had to have been switched. The original card bearing his prints was replaced with one bearing Yousef's. The only party that reasonably could have done so is Iraq, while it occupied Kuwait, for the evident purpose of creating a "legend" for one of its terrorist agents.
The debate over Yousef's identity has enormous implications for the 9/11 strikes. U.S. authorities now understand that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed masterminded those attacks. But Mohammed's identity, too, is based on Kuwaiti documents that predate Kuwait's liberation from Iraq. According to these documents, Mohammed is Ramzi Yousef's "uncle," and two other al Qaeda masterminds are Yousef's "brothers."
A former deputy chief of Israeli Military Intelligence, Amos Gilboa, has observed that "it's obvious" that these identities are fabricated. A family is not at the core of the most ambitious, most lethal series of terrorist assaults in U.S. history. These are Iraqi agents, given "legends," on the basis of Kuwait's files, while Iraq occupied the country.
When Mr. Clarke reported, six days after the 9/11 strikes, that no evidence existed linking them to Iraq, or Iraq to al Qaeda, he was reiterating the position he and others had taken throughout the Clinton years. They systematically turned a blind eye to such evidence and failed to pursue leads that might result in a conclusion of Iraqi culpability. These officials were charged with defending us "against all enemies." Their own prejudices blinded them to at least one of our enemies and left the nation vulnerable.
Ms. Mylroie, an advisor on Iraq to the 1992 Clinton campaign, is author of "The War Against America" (HarperCollins, 2001).


Media-savvy saviour of Iraqis or a defiant, dangerous hothead
By Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor
06 April 2004
For Paul Bremer, the American proconsul in Iraq, and for many Shia, the cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is a dangerous hothead.
But to his young, radical followers, the 30-year old Shia firebrand is an inspired leader who has dared to challenge the American occupation.
Mr Sadr is the only surviving son of the Muslim cleric, Ayatollah Mohamed Sadeq al-Sadr, who was assassinated by Saddam's agents in 1999 along with two sons for his defiant stand against the regime.
Baghdad's Shia district, Saddam City, was renamed Sadr City after the overthrow of the Iraqi dictator. The slum in northeastern Baghdad has become Mr Sadr's power base, patrolled by his militia, the Mehdi army.
Sadr junior, who was last night under threat of arrest by the US military and branded an outlaw, took up a bellicose position from the moment the American occupation began.
In his Friday sermons in Kufa, he dons a white shroud as a symbol of mourning. In every sermon, participants repeat after him: "No, No to Israel, No, No to America, No, No to terrorism."
The media-savvy leader is aware of the benefits of his father's image, which is brandished at every protest rally. His positions were given wider currency through his ownership of the weekly newspaper al-Hawza al-Natiqa, which recently accused Mr Bremer of following Saddam by persecuting the Shia majority.
But Mr Sadr's views in his paper were not representative of the Shia community. The most influential cleric is the elderly Grand Ayatollah Sistani, a cautious leader of the conservative mainstream, and whose low political profile has angered radicals.
Mr Sadr's supporters were accused of mounting a siege of Ayatollah Sistani's home in Najaf, only days after the killing of a moderate Shia leader, Ayatollah Abdel-Majid al-Khoei, who had just returned from exile in Britain in April last year. The cleric was hacked to death at a meeting with Sistani on whether to co-operate with the invaders.
Mr Bremer may have unwittingly played into Mr Sadr's hands last week, by ordering his newspaper to be temporarily closed, on the grounds that it was inciting violence against coalition forces.
The protests by Mr Sadr's supporters turned violent at the weekend, and left 52 people dead.

Face to face with mastermind of Jerusalem suicide bombs
Abdul Rahman Makdad planned attacks this year on two Israeli buses. Nineteen were killed. He tells Donald Macintyre why he prefers civilian targets - and why he did not carry out the operations himself
06 April 2004

He sat in the middle of the room, a few feet away from the Shin Bet interrogator he had got to know so well since he was arrested just under a month ago. With his well-kept beard, and dressed in a beige zip-up jacket over a white T-shirt, dark trousers, his feet sockless under brown lace-up shoes without laces, Abdul Rahman Makdad looked relaxed, perhaps even a little truculent.

As he began to speak, in a clear, unhesitant voice, it required effort, here in the heart of the Russian Compound prison, to conjure the full enormity of the mission Makdad was describing in such calm, matter-of-fact terms. On Saturday 21 February, just six weeks ago, he had sent his wife and infant son away to his parents-in-law, leaving him free to concentrate on the work ahead.

At 4pm Mohammed Za'ul, at 23 five years younger than Makdad, arrived at Makdad's home in Bethlehem so that the older man could give the younger one final instructions and spend the night meticulously preparing the explosives before packing them into the blue rucksack Za'ul would be wearing when he boarded the number 14 bus in Jewish West Jerusalem the following morning.

Neither man had slept that night; Makdad took the customary video of Za'ul's last testament as a man who had volunteered for martydom. Makdad saw to it that Za'ul was wearing clothes suitable for the Jerusalem weather that morning - jeans, jacket and a nondescript hat. The object, he explained, was to make Za'ul as unobtrusive - and as Jewish looking - as possible. "In general he wasn't frightened," said Makdad. "But I told him not to look at any police and security people and not to be frightened." Za'ul did not speak any Hebrew; so he had been under a standing instruction to detonate the bomb if he was spoken to by the bus driver. "But this is a rare situation."

Although only religious, by his own account, "in a general way, not an extreme one", Makdad had joined Za'ul in his last prayers. The two men ate breakfast together before Za'ul left at 6pm, to be guided by a construction worker carefully chosen for his local knowledge through the security cordon dividing Bethlehem from Jerusalem and on to the centre of the city. It was after 8.30am that Makdad got the news that the bomb had detonated as a bus headed north along Kind David Street in rush hour, killing eight Israeli civilians and wounding more than 60. "I heard it on the radio," he said. "And I was happy."

If Makdad had somehow been broken by his interrogation he showed no sign of it. Asked early on in this rare hour-long interview whether he accepted the principal Israeli accusation that he had organised the February bomb on the number 14 bus and the one just a month earlier which had killed 11 people on a number 19 Jerusalem bus, he answered coolly: "I was responsible for the last two operations. I don't recall the numbers of the buses."

He showed impatience - turning to his unnamed Shin Bet interrogator, an Arabic speaker in his 30s dressed in jeans and a check shirt, to enjoy a joke with him at the expense of the sheer "Westernness" of our questions - when he was asked repeatedly exactly how the two men had spent the last 14 hours before Za'ul left on his mission. What had they eaten for breakfast? Did it matter? Maybe a little humus; he couldn't really remember. Why were we so obsessed with food? Were we hungry?

What had they spoken about when Makdad wasn't working on the explosives? "Ordinary conversation. There was no need at all to convince this man to carry out the operation. He himself chose to be a martyr." Indeed "the easiest thing [about such operations] is to find a martyr. In our nation we have thousands of people who want to be martyrs."

Makdad's journey to the leadership of a cell of four men, according to Makdad - which was part of a larger, interlocking, 20-strong Bethlehem-based cell according to the Israelis - had been a relatively long one. He was born in Egypt. His family had fled there as refugees after 1948 from near Ashkelon. Makdad lived there until he was 14, moving on to Libya, where he joined Fatah's Palestinian Liberation Army and took a commando course.

But with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the wake of the Oslo accords he came to Gaza and then to Jenin, where he served in the Palestinian Security Services. At this point, he said: "I believed in peace. I served with the police force." But then, as he put it: "I noticed that Israel didn't want peace."

The manifestations of the occupation remained in place - including what Makdad described as "Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people." He was transferred to Bethlehem, where he became a bodyguard to the PA governor, Mohammed Madami, and then to the man who took over the governate from Madami five months ago, Zuhair Manasra. He was in that job until he was arrested; indeed, as Makdad confirmed, his family continue to receive his salary now he is in detention. To Makdad this is entirely natural, despite the Authority's stated opposition to suicide bombings. "They treat me as a political prisoner not as a criminal. If I had been found out as a collaborator, they would have stopped my salary."

The Israeli charge sheet against Makdad is lengthy, going back to shooting attacks in 2001. In 2003, the Israelis say, he took instructions from Ahmed Mugrabi, whom Makdad had first met in Libya. Makdad managed to stay in contact with Mugrabi after his detention for his part in a 2002 suicide bombing in Beit Yisrael.

As late as last month, just a week after dispatching the second bus bomber to Jerusalem, Makdad is accused of planning a spectacular but foiled hijacking of an Israeli bus. Two suicide bombers would have driven the bus to Bethlehem, forcing it and its passengers into the Church of the Nativity to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners in return for the passengers' lives. If anything had gone wrong, the bombers would have blown up the bus.

So why had he agreed to talk to us, five reporters from European and American newspapers, invited to the Russian Compound by his Israeli enemies? "The main purpose of this meeting is to give a clear picture of our strategy, which is reacting to killing by killing." He used this last phrase several times, justifying the killing of innocent civilians as a response to the deaths caused by Israeli targeted assassinations and incursions into the occupied territories. Makdad told us: "We prefer to do the explosions in a bus. Sometimes it has to be in Jerusalem in a crowded area. But the main thing is to create more casualties."

What had the tactic, internationally reviled as it was, achieved for the Palestinian cause? If the Israelis continued to kill Palestinians, this would eventually help to achieve the Palestinian goals "in the long term and in the future".

If we had asked about his interrogation, the Israeli officials supervising the interview would have ended it immediately. Although officials admit privately that prisoners like Makdad sometimes give information because they are allowed to believe falsely that their wife and children are under threat of detention, this prohibition was not, they insisted, because he might reveal maltreatment at the hands of his captors. Five years ago, after repeated and well-documented accusations that the Israelis had regularly tortured prisoners, the Supreme Court ruled against any physical abuse of prisoners.

But in any case, what had been the gain in this, at times surreal, meeting for the Israeli authorities themselves? Occasionally, perhaps, a prisoner may give information in such circumstances that he will withhold from his interrogators. Explaining that his cell was a freelance one, beholden to none of the well-known armed factions, Makdad disclosed, apparently for the first time, that the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade had been allowed to claim responsibility for the bombing in return for providing 3,000 shekels (?400) through Makdad's brother, Maher. The "credit" for the operation had, in effect, been sold.

But the other, more potent factor may well have been Makdad's role as an employee of the PA, particularly in Bethlehem where from 2002 until two months ago the Authority was in theory left in charge of security. According to the Israelis, this allowed the militant factions to establish themselves in the town.

Makdad himself insisted that if the PA - or the Bethlehem Governor - had known about his activities he would have been arrested. Seven miles away in his office in Bethlehem, Governor Manasra indeed said he had been "astonished" at Makdad's arrest and subsequent confession. "All I ask of my bodyguards is that they are polite to people and balanced in their behaviour. He was both these things." But while adamant that he opposed attacks on innocent civilians he warned that incursions, checkpoints and seizure of land to accommodate the route of the security barrier which were stopping "patients getting to their doctors, children to their schools, students to their universities" and devastating the local economy created a feeling of hopelessness among Palestinian youth. "Give me one day in 2003 or 2004 in which the Israelis did not kill a Palestinian," he added. "What the Israelis do is going to make more and more Palestinians radical and violent. They leave no way for a reasonable or pragmatic way of doing things."

He claimed that even though the Israelis had not backed a security plan to transfer known militants to Jericho, the PA was "every day stopping actions [by militants] because we think that to kill civilians is to escalate the conflict". He had been obliged in January to release a dozen prisoners held in Bethlehem only when the Israeli Army had raided the city and demanded they be handed over to them.

Back in Jerusalem, awaiting what is likely to be life sentence, an unrepentant Makdad insisted he "had no regrets. I have done nothing wrong" Two more questions. Why, if he was strong believer in martyrdom, had he not carried out of the bombings himself? If he went on such a mission, he would no longer be able to organise others to do so. But he had been ready to do the February bombing himself if it had been necessary because no martyr could be found. And was his career of organising attacks on Israelis over? Well, prisoner swaps are a feature of the conflict. "No I don't think it is over."
5 April 2004 22:50

? 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

U.S. may move vs. Pakistan terror areas
Pakistani tribal elders leave Governor House after their meeting with officials, Monday, April 5, 2004 in Peshawar, Pakistan. Senior government official warned more than 100 elders from two tribal regions that have been the focus of a recent hunt for al-Qaida suspects that they face punitive action if they fail to evict or hand over foreign terrorist in their areas. (AP Photo/M. Sajjad)
WASHINGTON -- Pakistan must eliminate terrorist sanctuaries or this country will step in and do its part in obliterating them, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said Monday.
Unless the issue of sanctuaries is solved, it will be difficult to fully abolish security problems in the southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan, he said.
"We cannot allow this problem to fester indefinitely," Khalilzad told about 100 people at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.
"We have told the Pakistani leadership that either they must solve this problem or we will have to do it for ourselves."
About 2 1/2 years after the Taliban-led government was toppled in a U.S.-led bombing campaign, Khalilzad gave a status report. He said "Afghanistan is succeeding."
However, he cautioned, "to consolidate the victory over extremism and terrorism in Afghanistan will take a sustained commitment of at least five years by the United States and its partners."
One of the greatest worries remains over the Taliban and other hostile groups that continue to be able to base, train and operate from Pakistani territory, he said.
The U.S. military has stepped up patrols along the rugged Pakistani border in an attempt to crush militants linked to the Taliban, al-Qaida or Afghan anti-government guerrilla leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Khalilzad said the United States prefers that Pakistan take responsibility and the Pakistani government agrees.
"We are prepared to help President (Gen. Pervez) Musharraf. However, one way or the other, this problem will have to be dealt with."
Progress is evident in rebuffing the Taliban and other terrorists who aim to destabilize Afghanistan, the ambassador said.
The number of security incidents has remained roughly constant during the past year; the attacks consist of terrorist actions or small, uncoordinated military activities.
"They are too weak to threaten the new government and the coalition," Khalilzad said.
He said the most immediate challenge are presidential and parliamentary elections, scheduled for September. The challenge is logistical and operational, not security-related, he said.
The United Nations, which has lead responsibility for the elections, has registered 1.5 million of the estimated 10 million Afghans eligible to vote, Khalilzad said.
The Afghan National Army consists of about 8,000 troops. It will reach about 20,000 by the end of the year, he said, and roughly 30,000 police officers will have been trained and equipped by then.
Khalilzad is a U.S.-educated member of Afghanistan's ethnic Pashtun group, now representing America in the country of his birth.

Posted by maximpost at 11:32 PM EDT

Reliable Source
White-House officials may have known much more than they're letting on. An FBI staffer tells what really happened before 9/11.
By Michael Tomasky
Web Exclusive: 04.04.04

I remember hearing the warnings in December 1999 about the imminent possibility of millennial terrorist attacks on American soil. And I remember, as most Americans who think back probably would, giving the warnings about eight seconds' thought.

Fortunately for all of us, I wasn't one of the people being paid to think about such things. And, fortunately, the people who were being paid to think about such things were thinking about them pretty obsessively. It's interesting today to read back over the coverage that December of the arrest of Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian national who was arrested by U.S. border guards as he tried to enter Washington state from Canada with a trunkful of explosives.

The press took the matter seriously -- The New York Times ran more than two dozen stories in December about Ressam's arrest and the potential for attacks. And so did the Clinton administration. As Richard Clarke tells the tale in Against All Enemies, Ressam's arrest was a pivotal moment in the administration's successful thwarting of at least one and possibly several planned terrorist attacks for New Year's Eve. The State Department issued two separate warnings.

Jordan arrested 13 men who might have been involved in planning potential attacks. And most of all, as we know from Clarke, once the warnings from intelligence sources became more frequent and more ominous, the administration's highest-level Cabinet and counter-terrorism officials met on a daily basis, which meant that every day, they had to show up in front of Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, and report on what new steps they'd taken in the past 24 hours.

All of which is to say: The government acted. The scope of what it prevented, we may not know for a long time, until the day that related documents are leaked or declassified. It must have been painful to Clinton at the time as it would have been to any pol, knowing that his administration had quite possibly averted a national tragedy but aware that he couldn't brag about it for security reasons. But all those who spent years whining about how Clinton put p.r. ahead of substance should note that his administration did its job.

December 1999 is starkly relevant as Condoleezza Rice gets set to testify to the 9-11 panel this week. Because the central question she needs to be asked is this: When the Bush administration started hearing more intelligence noises in June and July of 2001, why didn't it -- and Rice specifically, since this was her bailiwick -- convene the same kind of daily meetings the Clinton administration had when it heard similar noise? The obvious answer, whatever she chooses to say Thursday, is that it wasn't a high priority and that facts could not make it so. And a model existed, then not even two years old, for how to avert catastrophe.

A quick data-retrieval search helps prove the point. Clarke and others have asserted that the administration was far more consumed with missile defense than with counter-terrorism. Type in "Condoleezza Rice" and "missile defense," and you'll find 56 citations in The New York Times for stories containing those two phrases between January 20 and September 11 of 2001. Do the same for "Condoleezza Rice" and "terrorism" and you'll turn up 14 Times citations. Seven of those are about the Israelis and the Palestinians, a couple others about India and Pakistan, and one about Moammar Qadafi. Since newspapers (especially the newspaper of record) tend to write about what a sitting administration is talking about, this is pretty fair indication of where the Bush administration ranked al-Qaeda as a priority.

Then there are Rice's own inconsistencies in her public statements, the transcripts of which are a gold mine of contradiction and pettifoggery. Did Clarke give the administration a counter-terrorism plan in January or not? One Condi says yes, the other says no. Did that plan include military options? Again, yes and no. Was the plan the administration finally drafted substantially different from what Clarke recommended, or about the same? On all these questions, Rice has contradicted either herself or explanations given by other administration officials. Whether Rice is asked to explain these inconsistencies, and to account for why the administration didn't kick into gear as their Clinton predecessors had done, will depend largely on 9-11 commission members Tim Roemer and Richard Ben-Veniste, who thus far have been the toughest Democratic questioners. Rice is usually a cool cucumber, and such are the ways of Washington that she'll probably receive more deference than she deserves.

The very definition of the commission's mandate is at issue here. Bush people always signal through their rhetoric that the commission's job is to see what we can do to make sure such attacks don't happen again. That should be the main thrust. But if the people we voted into -- I mean, if the people who held office at the time of the attacks were uniquely negligent, I'd think most Americans would want to know that in a big way.

Meanwhile, remember two words: Sibel Edmonds. On March 30, Salon's excellent Eric Boehlert interviewed this former FBI translator, who told him that she had told the 9-11 commission in closed testimony that clear warnings were received throughout the spring and summer of 2001 (Bush's watch, not Clinton's) that a terrorist attack involving airplanes was being plotted. Her name has not yet crept its way into the major American newspapers (with the interesting exception of The Washington Times). But there are many mentions in the international press, so the Washington bureaus should wake up eventually.

If Edmonds's testimony is credible -- and Republican Senator Charles Grassley has described her with exactly that word -- it's one more piece of a puzzle that Richard Clarke began to solve for us two weeks ago. Somehow, his story just keeps being corroborated. Funny thing.

Michael Tomasky is the Prospect's executive editor. His column about politics appears each week in the Prospect's online edition.

Copyright ? 2004 by The American Prospect, Inc. Preferred Citation: Michael Tomasky, "Reliable Source", The American Prospect Online, Apr 4, 2004. This article may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author. Direct questions about permissions to

>> AHEM...

So Much for Spinning the Positive
By Al Kamen

Monday, April 5, 2004; Page A15

The Bush administration has been fuming for many months that the media keep getting things wrong about Iraq, that reporters just refuse to cover the really great things going on over there. So back in the fall, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld asked his Cabinet pals to help out.

There is all sorts of progress in Iraq, he wrote, thanks to many people, "including some of your staff members. . . . Unfortunately, the American people don't know much about the progress being made -- because the media has focused on the difficulty and challenges, not the successes."

He enclosed a six-page memo with suggestions for each Cabinet member who would be "taking along their respective press corps, who may be less jaded, and more open to good news, than those who regularly cover Iraq."

For Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, we find:

"MESSAGE: Crime is down in Baghdad and other cities. . . . Iraqi courts are operating again. . . . More than 30,000 Iraqi police are trained, armed and are conducting joint patrols with Coalition forces.


* Watch a police training session. . . .

* Go on a joint patrol (in a permissive neighborhood) with Iraqi police. . . .

"PRESS CORPS INVITED: Justice/legal correspondents of major news organizations."

And so it went for each agency. A LexisNexis search by our colleague Lucy Shackelford shows that since late September, five of the 12 members invited have been to Iraq: Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans, Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao, Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson.

It is not clear whether they took their own press corps. Some, such as Mineta, did not get much coverage. Others, such as Veneman and Chao, received excellent press. Sometimes the coverage was a mix of good news and bad news.

For example, Evans told reporters on a visit to Iraq Oct. 14 that his own presence showed Iraq is safe. "But just moments before," the Associated Press reported, "U.S. soldiers delivered the bad news: They'd found a roadside bomb on the route. The bus would be diverted."

Some Cabinet types could improve their skill in staying on message. For example, Thompson, who has demonstrated a willingness to travel overseas regularly if that is what it takes to improve the health of all Americans, visited in February.

He toured a Baghdad hospital, as Rumsfeld's missive suggested, but it was filthy. "If they just washed their hands and cleaned the crap off the walls," Associated Press reporter Mark Sherman quoted him as saying, things would improve.

"No one bothered to mop up a puddle near one girl's bed when Thompson walked through the cancer ward Sunday," the story continued. "Two decades of war and international sanctions have rendered Iraqi hospitals decrepit and doctors woefully behind the times in terms of training. Looting after the U.S.-led invasion stripped many hospitals and clinics bare."

Oh, well.

No Skimpy Trip

Speaking of Thompson, his one-week AIDS delegation to five African nations in December cost about a half-million dollars, according to documents obtained by Science magazine. It would have been a lot more, but several dozen folks, including those from faith-based groups and industry leaders, who were hit up to contribute to anti-AIDS programs, paid their own way, ponying up nearly $100,000.

The $477,000 figure uncovered by Science magazine (after a little recalculation) includes $11,000 for cell phone charges, $10,000 for a PR firm and nearly $400,000 for a chartered plane. It does not include the cost of flying everyone to Frankfurt, Germany, where the trip started.

Asked about the cell phones, Health and Human Services spokesman Tony Jewell said international cell phone charges were expensive as staff put together a "logistically challenging trip. They weren't offering free nights and weekends to everyone."

In all, Thompson's trip included three dozen government employees, or about $14,000 per employee.

Your Shipping Papers, Please

The Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection office in Norfolk was concerned last fall that shipments of goods to China from various ports were being permitted without the requisite paperwork. So the port director issued "Information Bulletin #1295" to ensure "uniformity among the ports" when shipments are to go to certain "proscribed countries." Shippers sending goods to such countries, deemed to be bad guys, need to have detailed cargo information cleared and fulfill other requirements.

"The proscribed countries" listed include hardy perennials such as Cuba, Libya, North Korea and Iran. They also include new NATO allies Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Rumania, and other NATO allies and members of the Coalition of the Willing, Poland and Hungary. And then we have the nonexistent U.S.S.R and the German Democratic Republic. (There won't be any shipments to those places.) Ditto the "Soviet Zone sector of Berlin."

Shortlist for Iraq Ambassador

Speaking of Iraq, White House officials last week were said to have narrowed the search for a new ambassador to Iraq to a shortlist, said to include National Security Council Iraq troubleshooter and former ambassador to India Robert D. Blackwill and U.N. ambassador and veteran diplomat John D. Negroponte. An announcement is expected this week, possibly as early as today.

? 2004 The Washington Post Company

Corruption charges threaten valuable U.N. role in Iraq
Mon Apr 5, 6:38 AM ET

For all of Iraq (news - web sites)'s current problems, at least the oil-rich country now can trade with the outside world. That wasn't the case in the mid-1990s. In fact, after the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites), Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s refusal to prove he had rid his country of weapons of mass destruction was punished with United Nations (news - web sites) sanctions that barred other countries from doing business with Iraq. But ordinary Iraqis would have suffered even more without a U.N. program that, starting in 1996, let Iraq sell $65 billion of oil for food and other essentials.

Today, evidence suggests U.N. officials abused the program, enriching themselves, Saddam and favored foreign companies. The Iraqi Governing Council has hired accountants and lawyers to investigate Iraqi documents it says provide proof of corruption and fraud in the oil-for-food program.

Iraq's media have cited at least 270 suspects, including French and Russian firms, a senior U.N. official and a company linked to the son of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites). Last month, a U.S. congressional investigation estimated that Saddam siphoned $10 billion or more from the program in kickbacks and bribes.

The charges could be shrugged off as the unfortunate but all-too-typical type of corruption that defines both dictators and international aid programs, except for one thing: The scandal tars an organization that could play a crucial supporting role in U.S. efforts to turn Iraq into a stable democracy.

The oil-for-food corruption scandal raises serious questions about how the U.N. would handle that daunting job. And it focuses attention on the potential for abuse in any massive government reconstruction program. Indeed, charges have surfaced in Iraq that some members of the governing council are profiting from rebuilding contracts.

As the U.S. considers ways it can rely on the U.N. to help Iraq after it gains self-rule June 30, the fraud alleged in the oil-for-food program provides a microcosm of the problems that also could plague Iraq's rebuilding:

Lax accounting. Proper oversight could have caught abuses in the oil-for-food program. The Iraqi Governing Council's investigation shows the way to prevent future problems: Hire credible auditors to monitor the U.N. as they would private businesses.

Bloated bureaucracy. The oil-for-food program - involving nine separate agencies, projects and funds - was a classic example of the bureaucratic jumble that has been a U.N. hallmark. Two rounds of U.S.-pushed reforms in 1997 and 2002 to streamline the U.N. have made limited progress.

Poor policing. Saddam was allowed to choose the companies and countries the oil-for-food program did business with - a clear invitation to pick those open to bribery. Yet a U.N. spokesman said the organization had no responsibility to investigate allegations of corruption. In fact, though charges swirled for more than a year, the U.N. started a credible investigation only after the Iraqi Governing Council recently began its probe.

U.N. officials say they are determined to get to the bottom of the scandal that overshadows the success of a program responsible for feeding 60% of Iraq's 27 million people for seven years. Even if they do, unmasking corrupt players falls short of the need to address the systemic U.N. failures that allowed it to happen in the first place.

As the U.N. considers taking on a bigger job in Iraq, its success depends on learning from this embarrassing episode.

Saudis Say They Killed Wanted Militant

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabian police killed a wanted militant and injured a second in a shootout Monday in a suburb of the capital, Riyadh, security officials said.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said police patrolling the affluent suburb of Roda, east of Riyadh, fired at a car that refused their order to stop.

The officials told The Associated Press that police fired at two "wanted militants" who were in the car, killing one and wounding a second.

Eyewitnesses said the militants fired first. Officials said the ensuing gun battle injured three other people, but it was not immediately clear if they were police or bystanders.

Police have cornered the wounded militant inside a villa in the area, which has been cordoned off and surrounded by security forces and several armored vehicles. Ambulances have arrived.

It was not immediately clear what the militants were wanted for, but Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden (news - web sites), has been on high alert since terrorists carried out several attacks aimed at destabilizing the U.S.-allied Gulf state and home to Islam's two holiest shrines.

Saudi authorities released a list of 26 most wanted terrorists after a series of bombings in Riyadh on May 12, 2003, that killed 26 people. On Nov. 8, another suicide attack on a Riyadh housing compound killed 17 people.

Three of Saudi's most wanted list are dead and hundreds of suspected extremists have been rounded up in raids to seize weapons and Islamic militants.

Paper: Arafat OK With Hamas in New Group
Mon Apr 5,12:13 PM ET

RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (news - web sites) is prepared to include the militant Hamas group in a new Palestinian leadership organization that would function alongside the Palestinian Authority (news - web sites), a Palestinian newspaper reported Monday.

The Al Ayyam daily, which is close to Arafat's Fatah (news - web sites) faction, said Arafat was willing to include Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another militant organization, in a unified leadership group, though it did not specify what the group's function would be.

In the past Palestinian Authority officials have said they would be willing to cooperate with Hamas if it recognized the authority's leadership. Hamas has so far not responded to the proposals.

Al Ayyam quoted Fatah Central Committee member Hani al-Hassan as saying the new leadership group could easily coexist alongside the existing leadership structure.

"Forming a unified Palestinian leadership does not contradict the Palestinian Authority as it is an internal Palestinian factional issue," it quoted him as saying.

Arafat's critics have accused him of being an autocratic leader, unwilling to share power with his prime minister and refusing to groom a successor.

Over the past several days, the Palestinian Authority has been holding meetings with Palestinian militant groups on how to run the Gaza Strip (news - web sites) after a possible Israeli withdrawal. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (news - web sites)'s Likud Party says he is committed to a complete withdrawal.

Hamas has so far not agreed to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority in running Gaza.


UAE Working on Terror Financing Law
Mon Apr 5, 7:24 AM ET

By RAWYA RAGEH, Associated Press Writer

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - A new law to combat terror financing is in the works, the Central Bank governor said Monday, a day after announcing the freezing of assets of a Sri Lankan businessman accused by Washington of brokering black-market deals for nuclear technology.

Sultan bin Nasser al-Suweidi said a draft law is in the final stages of review by the legislative committee in the Cabinet and is expected to be passed soon. He did not elaborate.

U.S. and Western investigators have warned Dubai's banking, trade and visa regulations could be easily abused for money laundering and illicit trade. About half the $250,000 spent on the Sept. 11 attacks was wired to al-Qaida terrorists in the United States from Dubai banks. Al-Qaida money in Dubai banks also has been linked to the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

Al-Suweidi announced Sunday that authorities have frozen the accounts of SMB Computers, a company founded by Sri Lankan businessman Buhary Abu Syed Tahir. He said an investigation is under way involving the Central Bank, the Dubai Prosecutor General's office and other agencies.

"The UAE Central Bank has frozen all accounts related to SMB Computers Co. as part of the investigation," he told reporters on the sidelines of a conference held in the capital, Abu Dhabi, to regulate an informal system of money transfer known as hawala.

SMB is a Dubai-based company established by Tahir and his brother, Syed Ibrahim Buhary, that President Bush (news - web sites) alleged Tahir used as a front for clandestine movement of parts for nuclear centrifuges. The company is part of a small-business empire with interests in Pakistan, Iran and Libya, key countries linked to the clandestine nuclear weapons network.

Al-Suweidi said results of the investigation will be revealed soon. Authorities also shut down the company's operations in Dubai, The Gulf News daily reported Monday.

Dubai's public prosecutor would not comment on the investigation.

Tahir, who is married to a Malaysian, is believed to be living in Malaysia, where he has been questioned by police and kept under surveillance, but is not in custody.

Al-Suweidi said earlier that authorities also have confiscated $3 million in terror-related funds and frozen 14 accounts of companies and individuals named on lists by the United Nations (news - web sites) and the United States.

On Monday, he told The Associated Press that among the frozen accounts were ones belonging to Al-Hisawi Co., owned by Saudi native Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi, a suspected financier of the Sept. 11 hijackers; and al-Barakat Group, a Somali company allegedly linked to al-Qaida.

Researcher Is Found Guilty of Espionage
46 minutes ago

By JIM HEINTZ, Associated Press Writer

MOSCOW - Researcher Igor Sutyagin was found guilty of espionage Monday, Russian news agencies reported, in a case that raised fears of a resurgence of Soviet-style tactics and alarmed the scientific community.

Sutyagin, a scholar at Moscow's respected USA and Canada Institute, was jailed in October 1999 on charges he sold information on nuclear submarines and missile warning systems to a British company that Russian investigators claim was a CIA (news - web sites) cover.

Sutyagin maintained the analyses he wrote were based on open sources and that he had no reason to believe the British company was an intelligence cover.

He faces up to 20 years on the conviction, but a sentence was not immediately announced and officials at the Moscow City Court could not be reached for comment

The Interfax news agency quoted Sutyagin's lawyer, Boris Kuznetsov, as saying only four of the 12 jury members recommended mercy when the judge determines the sentence.

Kuznetsov said he would appeal and that the judge gave the jury incorrect instructions by asking them to determine whether Sutyagin had passed along the information -- which the defendant did not deny -- rather than whether he had passed state secrets.

The judge "was manipulating the jury's opinion and the main manipulation was that the questions raised by her did not reflect the essence of the charge," he said in comments shown on the NTV television channel.

Human rights advocates say the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the KGB's main successor, is deeply suspicious of Russian scientists' contacts with foreigners. They say that its agents have been emboldened by the rise of ex-KGB agent and FSB director Vladimir Putin (news - web sites) to the presidency.

In only a few cases have courts challenged such cases. In December, a jury acquitted Valentin Danilov, a professor at Krasnoyarsk Technical University in Siberia, who had been charged with selling classified information on space technology to China and misappropriating university funds.

Russia's constitution provides for jury trials, but until recently they existed only on an experimental basis.

A court had been expected to deliver a verdict in the case in 2001, but instead instructed prosecutors to continue investigating and left Sutyagin in jail. Russian courts, including the Supreme Court, have repeatedly denied his request to await trial out of jail.

Other high-profile spying cases involving open sources in recent years included the arrest of former navy Capt. Alexander Nikitin, charged with divulging state secrets after co-authoring a report on environmental dangers posed by Russia's northern submarine fleet. He said the information he used had been published before, but spent 11 months in jail. He was later acquitted.

In 2000, U.S. businessman Edmund Pope was convicted of espionage for trying to purchase plans for an underwater propulsion system, which his supporters said had already been sold openly. He was later pardoned by Putin.

The 2001 arrest and conviction of U.S. Fulbright Scholar John Tobin on marijuana charges attracted wide attention after officials alleged he was a spy in training. He was later released.

Six Held for Taking Ukraine Nuke Equipment
Mon Apr 5, 9:27 AM ET

KIEV, Ukraine - Authorities detained six men on suspicion of stealing equipment from the Rivne nuclear plant in western Ukraine to sell as scrap metal, a prosecutor said Monday.

Police arrested the plant's security officer and five workers on suspicion of stealing the reactor's evaporator heating chamber, said Mykola Tomylovich, a local deputy prosecutor, according to the Interfax news agency.

The piece of equipment was from a batch of unused spare parts and was not radioactive, a spokesman for the state-run Energoatom told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said the nuclear plant was not affected and was operating normally.

The suspects apparently tried to sell the equipment, worth more than $150,000, to scrap metal dealers for $280, Tomylovich said.

Ukraine was the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster in April 1986, with an explosion and fire at a reactor in the Chernobyl nuclear plant. Chernobyl was closed in 2000.


In a First, Chirac Visits Top-Secret Titov Center

Combined Reports
Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

Chirac speaking at a news conference at the Titov space control center Saturday.

French President Jacques Chirac became the first Western leader to visit the top-secret Titov space control center, touring the site Saturday as part of Russian efforts to court the lucrative European satellite-launching business.

The center, which operates under tight security, is the control point for all of Russia's satellites, including its military satellites.

After greeting Chirac, President Vladimir Putin handed over the floor to the center's chief, Lieutenant General Nikolai Kolesnikov, to outline its work and future plans.

The space center, located in the city of Krasnoznamensk outside Moscow, also is involved in launches of Russia's intercontinental ballistic missiles and is working on a plan that would improve the use of space satellites for defensive early warning systems.

"All our efforts to ensure our security are not aggressive and are not targeted against anyone," Putin said after talks with Chirac.

He said his decision to invite Chirac to the site should "point to Russia's transparency and openness in security matters."

There was also a clear commercial desire, with Putin emphasizing Russia's "vast space exploration potential."

Russia's space program has worked closely with the European Space Agency in recent years, launching ESA satellites and carrying ESA astronauts on research missions to the international space station.

In February, the ESA reached an agreement with Russia to launch Russian Soyuz rockets from France's Kourou launch pad in French Guyana. The launches are expected to begin in about three years.

France-based aircraft maker Airbus also signed a deal last year with Russia's Sokol, which will produce fuselage parts for Airbus A320 planes, Interfax reported.

Later, the fight against terrorism topped the agenda of one-on-one talks between the two leaders. Putin called on the international community to develop a joint system for eliminating terrorism, Interfax reported. Chirac called for efforts to remove "the fertile ground in which terrorism develops. This includes unresolved conflicts, misery, famine, poverty and the humiliation which people are justified in feeling."

Other topics on the agenda included the situation in Iraq, the continuing violence in the Middle East, Kosovo, and the European Union's expansion next month. "France views relations between the European Union and Russia as an essential element, essential for Russia, essential for Europe and even more importantly, essential for the balance and stability of tomorrow's world," Chirac said.

Meanwhile, Chirac said Putin accepted his invitation to participate in this year's 60th anniversary commemorations of the D-Day invasion in France.

"This invitation is completely logical as the very turning points in World War Two took place in Moscow, Kursk and Stalingrad," Chirac said.

(AP, Reuters)

Saudis Eye Asian Price War With Russia

By Nesa Subrahmaniyan

Ronald Zak / AP

Al-Naimi, center, talking with other delegates at last week's OPEC meeting in Vienna.

SINGAPORE -- Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al- Naimi, who oversees the world's biggest oil reserves, may offer to cut prices to buyers in China, South Korea and Japan in the face of growing competition from Russia, traders said Friday.

Al-Naimi, who travels to Seoul and Tokyo from Beijing this week, may discount prices for Asian buyers, traders said.

Russian plans to build more than $20 billion of oil and gas pipelines supplying China, South Korea and Japan may help Asian refiners cut oil bills that are as much as $10 billion a year more than they would pay in Europe or the U.S.

"They may look into giving price concessions," said Dennis Ang, president of Statoil Asia Pacific, a unit of Norway's biggest oil producer. "The Russian pipeline offers a challenge and they have to accept diversification of sources. They at least want to maintain market share or even grow it."

Russia is vying with Saudi Arabia, the largest oil producer, to supply to China and Japan, the world's No.2 and No.3 consumers. Russian output grew 12 percent in the first two months of this year to 8.9 million barrels a day against the Saudis' 8.4 million. Saudi Arabia can produce as much as 10 million barrels a day, with more than 40 percent of output going to Asian buyers.

China, South Korea and Japan, which import four-fifths of their oil from the Middle East, want to diversify sources of oil.

Al-Naimi "will try to persuade Japan to continue buying Saudi's oil," said Hiro Katsumata, a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore. "Over the last decade, Japan has diversified its source of energy -- in relative terms. One thing is that it has become relatively easier for any country to purchase oil in the international market."

Russia and other non-OPEC producers such as Kazakhstan have been taking market share from members of the oil group as it cuts output. Kazakhstan's oil production has risen 10 percent to 965,000 barrels a day.

Japan is competing with China, Asia's fastest-growing economy, to secure oil and gas supplies from Russia. Both are vying for supply from Russia's far eastern fields. PetroChina, China's largest oil producer, and Yukos proposed a $2.8 billion pipeline to transport Siberian oil to Daqing in northeast China.

Japan has offered to help pay the $5.8 billion cost of an alternative line to Russia's Pacific coast port of Nakhodka so that the oil can be exported to Japan.

Russia has yet to decide which plan to support.

"Saudi Arabia is feeling threatened by the Russian oil pipeline project," said Jang Ji Hak, a crude oil trader at Hyundai Oilbank, South Korea's fourth-biggest refiner. "South Korean companies will be better positioned to negotiate prices and in efforts to settle the issue of Asian premiums."

Hyundai Oilbank said in December it would stop buying crude oil from Saudi Arabia from this year, increasing supplies from Iran. Hyundai Oilbank dropped a contract with Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest oil company, for 20,000 barrels per day and increase purchases from National Iranian Oil Co.

Saudi Aramco's crude oil prices are determined by destination, with prices for its Asian customers expressed as a differential against the average of Oman and Dubai grades, the two Arabian Gulf benchmarks used by Asian oil traders.

China, which last year overtook Japan as an oil consumer, may boost crude imports by more than 9.8 percent this year to ease domestic fuel shortages, the government said on March 24.

? Copyright 2002, The Moscow Times. All Rights Reserved.

>> REALLY...?

By David Donnelly, Director, Campaign Money Watch

Special Interest Spotlight 2.5
March 24, 2004

Six weeks after Cintas Corp. Chairman Richard T. Farmer co-hosted a $1.7 million fundraiser for George W. Bush in Cincinnati, Bush's Environmental Protection Agency proposed exempting industrial laundries like Cintas from rules that protect workers from handling poisonous materials. The EPA says the rules could "save affected facilities over $30 million per year."

On November 20, 2003, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new draft regulations that, if adopted, will weaken federal safeguards for employees who handle poison-soaked "shop" towels. The new rule would exempt industrial laundries like Cintas "from federal hazardous and solid waste requirements for shop towels contaminated with toxic chemicals." [1]

It is not a small exemption. Each year, 3.8 billion industrial shop towels, which are used to clean up toxic materials or spills in the work place, or to `wipe-down' machinery, are sent to be cleaned.[2]

Cintas has been found to have repeatedly violated worker safety and environmental protection standards. "We were never told about all the chemicals we were forced to handle, and never really warned about the toxic dangers from these chemicals. The towels were often in plastic bags dripping with solvent. Our supervisors knew all about this," said Mark Fragola, of New Haven, CT, a former driver for Cintas Corp.[3]

The EPA predicts "this proposal would... save affected facilities over $30 million per year."[4]

For the record, Cintas and Farmer are already doing quite well. Cintas made $249.3 million in profits in fiscal year 2003 and Farmer is ranked by Forbes as the 140th wealthiest man in America with a net worth of $1.5 billion.[5]

Farmer: "All I want is decent government."

The EPA proposal was released just weeks after Farmer co-hosted a $1.7 million fundraiser for President Bush on September 30, 2003.[6]

Farmer is a "Ranger," meaning that he has personally raised more than $200,000 for the President's re-election campaign.[7] In addition, Farmer was instrumental George W. Bush's 2000 campaign. Not only was he was a "Pioneer" in 2000 (having pledged to raise $100,000),[8] Farmer and his wife gave the second most of any family to the Republican Party in 2000.[9]

Since the 2000 election cycle, Cintas and its employees have given almost $2.2 million to federal candidates and parties, with 100 percent of that money going to Republicans. So far this election cycle, in addition to Farmer, 15 Cintas executives have contributed to Bush, with eight of them giving the maximum $2,000 contribution.[10]

Of course, Farmer sees nothing wrong. He told the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1997, "I don't expect any special treatment when I give my money. All I want is decent government."[11]

Bush Administration Gives Cintas "Decent Government"

Read more or take action.
The EPA is receiving public comments on the draft rule that will benefit Cintas and hurt workers through April 9. Click here for more info.
From Cintas Corp.'s point of view, decent government is one that rewrites environmental law to increase their profits, and one that gives them big government contracts. In addition to the EPA draft regulation, Cintas, as the nation's largest launderer, would likely to have been in line to receive a contract for laundry services from the Department of Veterans Affairs, if the VA had proceeded with plans to privatize laundry services at facilities around the U.S. But the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 600,000 federal workers, sent a `cease and desist' letter telling the VA that contracting out the services would be in violation of federal law.[12]

Farmer wasn't an innocent by-stander. He served on Bush's Veterans Affairs transition team.

Will Cintas get its way? The have a long history of bullying and silencing their opponents. They have sued UNITE, a labor union, for defamation,[13] and sued a shareholder activist to silence his efforts to bring forth shareholder resolutions about Cintas' labor conditions.[14]

This Special Interest Spotlight is the third in a series of short reports on President Bush's fundraising in Ohio. The state has become one of the President's most reliable sources of campaign contributions.


The Special Interest Spotlight is a regular report on money in politics. It is published by Campaign Money Watch, a nonprofit campaign finance reform group that holds candidates accountable for the special favors they do for their contributors and for opposing comprehensive reform.

Please pass this along to other interested people. If you have received this, and haven't already signed up for regular updates, and you want to, sign up by clicking here.


[1] UNITE and Sierra Club joint press release, March 9, 2004
[2] Sierra Club website
[3] UNITE and Sierra Club joint press release, March 9, 2004
[4] Joseph Straw, "DeLauro, union dueling with Cintas over shop rags," New Haven Register, March 15, 2004.
[5] Forbes magazine website
[6] website
[7] Bush/Cheney 04 Inc. website
[8] website
[9] Center for Responsive Politics website
[10] Ibid.
[11] Mother Jones, MoJo 400, March 5, 2001
[12] Letter from Bobby Harnage, president of AFGE, to Anthony Principi, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, July 30, 2003.
[13] Cintas Corp. press release, February 24, 2004
[14] press release, February 11, 2004

>> REALLY 2...

Taking Care of His Own?

Bush, FirstEnergy, Hundreds of Millions in Fines,
& Kids With Asthma


FirstEnergy Corporation and other big utilities lobbied the Bush Administration to rewrite and weaken the Clean Air Act.

Lobbyists from the oil, coal, and electric utility industries used the Vice President's energy task force as a way to revisit pending enforcement actions against polluters, in effect getting the White House to do something they couldn't get Congress to do. The enforcement actions were against polluters who upgraded dirty power plants without installing new pollution control equipment. This prompted one environmental organization to ask President Bush for relief:
"Industry lobbyists sought legislative relief from these enforcement cases in 1999, which Congress appropriately rejected; now they are turning to officials in your White House to help block the government's attempt to enforce the law." Letter from NRDC President John H. Adams, May 7, 2001 to President George W. Bush,

Individuals and their companies that were listed as taking part in the Cheney's energy task force secret meetings had contributed significantly to politicians and political parties. In total, these corporations and organizations, their employees and their employees' spouses, and their PACs gave $85.7 million in contributions to federal candidates and political parties from 1999 to 2002. Of that, 65% when to Republicans and 35% went to Democrats. See
Bush's "Clear Skies" initiative will cause more air pollution emitted by utilities like FirstEnergy's coal-burning plants, which will lead to more asthma attacks in children.

According to public health groups, Ohio children will be harmed by the new policy:
There are 27 power plants in Ohio, and another 46 within 30 miles of the state border, that will be allowed to pollute the air more under Bush's new policy.

There are 2,487,909 children in Ohio that live within 30 miles of these plants.

There are 176,271 children with asthma in Ohio.

There are 7,017 schools in Ohio within 30 miles of one of these plants.

See "Children at Risk," a joint report by Clear the Air, and Physicians for Social Responsibility, which can be found at

John L. Kirkwood, the President and CEO of the American Lung Association, made the impact of the Bush policy very clear:
"The Bush administration's air pollution legislation, inaccurately known as `Clear Skies,' will gut the landmark Clean Air Act and severely weaken U.S. efforts to curb dirty air. The administration plan would hurt public health and help big polluters by delaying and diluting cuts in power plant emissions of sulfur, nitrogen and mercury. ...

"Meanwhile, millions of Americans - including children with lung diseases like asthma and seniors with chronic lung and heart problems - continue to breathe dirty air, especially on the high pollution days we see during the summer months.

" The administration's approach to the problem will not clear the skies. It will not move us forward and it fails to protect public health."

The Natural Resources Defense Council also provides an analysis of the new policy, finding that it will "delay deadlines for meeting public health standards, allowing violations of soot and smog health standards to continue until 2015 or later." See
The new rules would exempt roughly 17,000 older power plants, oil refineries and factories across the country from having to install pollution controls when they replace equipment - even if the upgrade increases pollution. See
Before Bush was elected, the EPA and the Department of Justice sued the corporate owners of 51 power plants for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, including FirstEnergy Corp.-owned Sammis plant in Akron, and several others in Ohio.

For a Department of Justice press release on November 3, 1999, announcing the legal actions, see
For the court documents on the FirstEnergy, see,
complaint.pdf, and
Other coal-fired plants facing legal action include an American Electric Power-owned facility in Columbus and a Cinergy-owned plant in Cincinnati. For the entire list, see
Anthony Alexander, FirstEnergy's president, and H. Peter Burg, its chief executive and chairman, are both major fundraisers for Bush.

The Bush/Cheney '04 Inc. committee raised $600,000 at an Akron, Ohio fundraising event on June 30th, according to news reports. The event was co-hosted by Alexander and Burg. See "Cheney raises $40,000 a minute during speech in NE Ohio," Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 7/1/03, and "Cheney Cashes in for GOP at Fund-Raiser," Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio), 7/1/03. See also
Anthony Alexander was a Bush "Pioneer" in 2000, meaning that he raised more than $100,000 for the president's campaign. See
According to Bush/Cheney '04 Inc., Alexander has already raised at least $100,000 for the Bush campaign this year. See
Electric utilities that would benefit from these regulatory changes had given $4.8 million in 2000, including more than $2.2 million from electric utilities that faced E.P.A. enforcement.

Utility companies, utilities' employees and their spouses, and utilities' political action committees gave more than $4.8 million in the 2000 and 2002 election cycles to President George W. Bush's campaign efforts and to Republican party committees, according to a February 2003 Campaign Money Watch analysis of data downloaded from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (
Of the $4.8 million, $1.85 million came from the four electric utilities facing the biggest lawsuits, as well as the leading industry trade association. Five other electric utilities facing legal action gave $424,700. See
The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reports that Bush has already raised $1.7 million from the energy sector this election cycle. See
Just weeks after a federal judge determined that FirstEnergy had violated the Clean Air Act 11 times, the E.P.A. rewrote the Clean Air Act and threw the future of all the legal actions against utilities into question.

The E.P.A. published its much-awaited rollbacks on August 26th. See for a news story on the issue. See for the actual rule change.
The new guidelines were accompanied by a General Accounting Office report that the rules were written with only "anecdotal evidence" provided by industry insiders, rather than hard science, according to a August 26, 2003 Associated Press report. The GAO report stated, "Because it lacked comprehensive data, EPA relied on anecdotes from the four industries it believes are most affected." See
For the finding that FirstEnergy had violated the Clean Air Act, see the decision of Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr., from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, August 7, 2003, at
"Environmental groups said the decision may be a short-lived victory because the White House aims to weaken pollution laws. `The Bush administration is rewriting Clean Air Act rules in a way that will allow companies to avoid cleaning up their pollution,' said David McIntosh, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. `If the Bush administration gets its way, the pollution that the court found illegal today would be legal tomorrow.'" See
This was predicted by former E.P.A. Administrator Christie Whitman. In May 2001, Whitman wrote an internal memo to Vice President Dick Cheney in which she argued that proposing changes to the rules regarding installing mandatory pollution controls would lead to "settlements [of lawsuits against utility corporations] will likely slow down or stop." Moreover, Whitman wrote, "It will be hard to refute the charge that we are deciding not to enforce the Clean Air Act." See "Committee Approves E.P.A. Nominee, Setting Up Floor Fight," New York Times, 10/16/03.
The judge in the FirstEnergy case had already "condemned" the E.P.A. for being "unwilling to enforce a clear statutory mandate set for in an act of Congress."

Judge Sargus wrote: "It is also evident from the record in this case that various electric utilities and industry organizations have sought within legal bounds to influence the conduct of the EPA. What should be unexpected and condemned, however, is an agency unwilling to enforce a clear statutory mandate set forth in an act of Congress." See the decision at
See also story, "FirstEnergy plant violated Clean Air Act-judge," August 7, 2003, at
Reports also point to E.P.A. officials misleading Congress on the impact of the new regulations, specifically on whether the new rules hurt the pending legal cases against polluting corporations.

Jeffrey Holmstead, E.P.A.'s assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, testified to the a joint hearing of U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary and U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, on July 16, 2002, that the E.P.A. did "not believe that these [regulations] will have a negative impact on the enforcement cases," even as internal debate at the E.P.A. was unclear as to that statements truth. See
"The new NSR rule impairs the ability of the government to obtain favorable settlements or judgments against companies that have violated the rules in the past. Already, the new rule has been cited by electric utilities defending themselves in lawsuits in Ohio and Indiana. And Acting EPA Administrator Marianne Horinko has said the government is unlikely to bring new compliance suits based on violations of the previous NSR rule." Emphasis added. See
In addition, according to a October 13, 2003 press release from Public Citizen, "the Department of Justice filed a September 2003 brief in an Illinois case in which it abandoned its previous argument that the court must apply a narrow interpretation of the New Source Review language in the Clean Air Act; experts say this kind of concession could jeopardize New Source Review lawsuits."
The size of the fines for all the enforcement actions is described as in the "multi-billions."

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, in the hearing mentioned above with E.P.A. assistant administrator Jeffrey Holmstead, asked "On these multi-billion cases that have been filed, your understanding from [Department of Justice] is that [the new regulations] would not have any effect?" See
Settlements have been above $1 billion for several utility companies that wanted to avoid the courtroom. See
Still, estimates are hard to determine for these potential fines. The statute calls for a maximum fine of $25,000 per day per violation of the Clean Air Act for every day leading up to January 30, 1997, and $27,500 per day per violation after January 30, 1997. Should these 51 plants all be found to have one violation starting from the time the legal actions commenced (November 3, 1999), the fines could easily total more than $2 billion. Many of these plants have more than one alleged violation stemming from upgrades dating back into the mid-1980s. On the size of the penalty, see complaint filed on FirstEnergy at
In the one case that has gone through trial - the FirstEnergy Sammis plant in Akron - the judge has set the penalty phase of the case for March 2004. FirstEnergy was found to have eleven violations, dating back to as early at 1988. The potential fine is at least in hundreds of millions of dollars. See decision at

The September 11th Sourcebooks
Volume VII: The Taliban File

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 97

Edited by Sajit Gandhi

September 11, 2003
Washington, D.C., September 11, 2003 - Marking the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the National Security Archive at George Washington University today posted on the Web a new collection of recently declassified U.S. documents covering the controversial rise to power of Osama bin Laden's former hosts in Afghanistan, the Taliban. This murky history has particular relevance today, as the Taliban fighters regroup in Afghanistan, and key Taliban leaders remain at large.

Today's posting, "The Taliban File," is the seventh volume in the Archive's September 11th Sourcebook series, recognized by the National Journal in December 2001 as one of the top five sites on the Web for terrorism information. The collection of 32 documents obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act by Archive research associate Sajit Gandhi details the rise of the Taliban from its meager start in Kandahar to a full fledged military force and ultimate control of the country. The documents discuss Pakistan's support for the Taliban, U.S. dealings with the Taliban, post 9/11 thinking on military strategy in the War on Terror, and the relationship between the assassination of the Northern Alliance Commander Ahmad Shah Masoud and the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Highlights of the Briefing Book include:

A November 1994 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad which mentions one of the first kidnappings conducted by Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the self-confessed mastermind of the kidnapping of slain American reporter Daniel Pearl. Sheikh, who in 1994 went by the moniker Rohit Sharma, kidnapped one American-Bella Josef Nuss--and three British citizens. The document indicates that Sheikh (Sharma), "holds a British Passport, attended the London School of Economics, and spent time in Bosnia where the abuse of Muslim women apparently radicalized his views." In January of 2002, eight years after the 1994 kidnapping, the Bush administration finally asked Pakistan to arrest Saeed Sheikh[2].
A February 1995 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad which offers a detailed biographic sketch of the secretive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Amir-ul-Momineen (leader of the faithful), from his origins in the Mujahideen to his rise as the leader of the Taliban. [8]
A December 1997 Department of State cable summarizing a meeting between Taliban officials in the US as part of a Unocal delegation and Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Karl Inderfurth. When the Taliban are questioned by Inderfurth over their allowing Osama Bin Laden refuge, a Taliban representative responds by saying that if they expelled Bin Laden he would go to Iran and cause more trouble. Another representative notes that the Taliban did not invite Bin Laden into Afghanistan, but that he was already inside Afghanistan, "as a guest of the previous regime when they took over." The Taliban representative claims that they had stopped allowing Bin Laden to give public interviews, and "had frustrated Iranian and Iraqi attempts to get in contact with him." [24]
DIA cables from October 2001 which discuss the role of Pakistan in the rise of the Taliban and questions about Pakistan's and the ISI's connection with Bin Laden. "Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network was able to expand under the safe sanctuary extended by Taliban following Pakistan Directives." [Documents 28 and 29]
A November 2001 DIA cable that discusses the relationship between the assassination of Northern Alliance Commander Ahmad Shah Masoud and the terrorist attacks of September 11. The cable indicates that Masoud had gained limited knowledge "regarding the intentions of the Saudi millionaire Usama (bin Ladin) (UBL), and his terrorist organization, al-Qaida, to perform a terrorist act against the U.S. on a scale larger than the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania." Could Masood's knowledge of an attack, and subsequent warning to the US government have led to his assassination? [31]
Formed in 1994, the Taliban began with only a few followers, mostly religious students who fought with the Mujahideen in the war against the Soviets and who were schooled in Islamic seminaries (madrasahs) in Pakistan. These students, or seekers, as they are referred to in the documents, wanted to rid Afghanistan of the instability, violence, and warlordism that had been plaguing the country since the defeat and withdrawal of the Soviets in 1989.

The departure of the Soviets, while welcomed by Afghans and the United States, left a political vacuum in Afghanistan. The resulting chaos and civil war led to the involvement of the United Nations which tried unsuccessfully to bring about political transition through the mission led by Special Representative Mahmoud Mestiri. Despite the UN's efforts, and those of the international community, the various factions, as well as the Kabul government led by Barnahuddin Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Masoud, in addition to other outside parties, made a definitive peaceful or military solution difficult.

As a result, the civil war continued with Rabbani and Masoud attempting to fill the government role, while the other warlord remnants of the Afghan resistance, such as the Uzbek commander Abdul Rashid Dostum, Pakistani-backed Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and Ismail Khan, remained unwilling to cede any power or make concessions that could have resulted in a peaceful solution.

Consequently, outside forces saw instability in Afghanistan as an opportunity to press their own security and political agendas. Among them were terrorist groups such as Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network and states such as Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and India. Pakistan, for example, saw an unstable Afghanistan as a boon for its internal security, allowing it a strategic depth against India. Initially, [See document 25] the Pakistanis supported the Pashtun-Islamicist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an incompetent commander from the Mujahideen days, in order to have influence over the Afghan political landscape. When Hekmatyar failed to deliver for Pakistan, the administration began to support a new movement of religious students known as the Taliban.

The first document dates from November 1994, one month after the Taliban took the strategic post of Spin Boldak on the Afghan-Pakistan border, allegedly with cover fire provided by Pakistani Frontier Corps (see document 5). With that victory, the Taliban, who were being championed by a fellow Pashtun, Pakistani Interior Minister Nasrullah Babar (see document 4), began to make a name for themselves, and also gained a significant amount of military supplies. Pakistan supported the Taliban, not just to restore order to Afghan roads, which would open the way for a possible Trans-Afghan gas pipeline (TAP), but because they also saw the Taliban as a faction that they might have considerable influence over, and who might provide in Afghanistan, a strategic lever for Pakistan against India.

As the documents and history show, Pakistani authorities discovered they had made a blunder. The Taliban were not only uncontrollable, but unpredictable as well. In certain instances the Taliban would declare their desire for peace, willingness to work with the UN, and desire for a non-military solution for Afghanistan, then state that "anyone who gets in our way will be crushed."

The documents also show that the U.S. made tremendous efforts to obtain a political solution for Afghanistan, not just because of the desire for American companies to take advantage of business opportunities (see document 16) with the TAP, but also due to other key concerns: human rights, narcotics, and terrorism (see document 17). In many instances, American officials pressed the Taliban on their counternarcotics strategy, their treatment of women, and on allowing Afghanistan to be used as a base for terrorist operations and home for Osama Bin Laden.

The cable traffic shows the difficulty the U.S. had negotiating with Taliban representatives in all these areas. Cultural and political miscommunication was rampant (see document 18). In one meeting, Ambassador Thomas W. Simons Jr., the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan -who also had responsibility for Afghanistan- attempted to find common ground with Taliban Foreign Minister Mullah Ghaus, explaining that "Americans are the most religious people in the Western world."

It soon became clear that Taliban rule was detrimental to Afghan and international security, as evidenced by their sanctioning of continuing narcotics production -despite its un-Islamic quality- and shelter for al-Qaeda and other terrorists. Acting Secretary Strobe Talbott described the danger of the Taliban in a February 1996 meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Assef Ali when he drew an analogy between Pakistani support for the Taliban in Afghanistan and the militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Talbott stated that while such support was undertaken to serve Pakistani interests, there were unintended consequences contrary to Pakistan's and the region's larger interests. These consequences became shockingly clear two years ago, on September 11, 2001.


Note: The following documents are in PDF format.
You will need to download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.
Document 1
U.S. Consulate (Peshawar) Cable, "New Fighting and New Forces in Kandahar," November 3, 1994, Confidential, 13 pp. Excised.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

While Consular officials inform Washington of a stranded Pakistani convoy delivering aid supplies to Afghanistan and the Newly Independent States (NIS), they report that fighting has broken out between Afghan factions in Kandahar province. One of the parties involved was a new movement known as "The Taliban ("Seekers")," which had recently taken over the Afghan border town of Spin Boldak, and hailed from the Madrasas (religious schools) of Quetta and Peshawar. Speculation is rife about who the Mullah Mohammed Omar-led Taliban actually support and where their support comes from, but suggests that the Taliban may represent a new phenomenon independent from the party politics and violence plaguing Afghanistan since the end of the war against the Soviets. The document displays the contrasting information available on the Taliban movement as the label suggests the Taliban was anti-Wahhabi, while simultaneously being Pakistani tools and anti-Pakistan.
Document 2
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Weekly South Asia Activity Report," November 4, 1994, Confidential, 13 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This activity report discusses various developments occurring in South Asia including the rising tide of Afghan refugees fleeing Kabul for outerlying areas, progress of the UN (Mestiri) Commission in Afghanistan, the battle for the stranded Pakistan convoy headed towards Central Asia, and most interestingly, mentions the debriefing of British kidnapping victims who identified their captor as "Rohit Sharma." Mr. Sharma, the note states, holds a British passport, attended the London School of Economics, and spent time in Bosnia where the abuse of Muslim women radicalized his views. This 1994 document is significant because Rohit Sharma is also known as Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the self-confessed mastermind of the kidnapping of slain American reporter, Daniel Pearl. In January of 2002, eight years after the kidnapping, the Bush administration finally asked Pakistan to arrest Omar Saeed Sheikh in connection with the 1994 incident discussed above.
Document 3
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "The Taliban - Who Knows What the Movement Means?" November 28, 1994, Confidential, 14 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable discusses the suspected origins, goals, and sponsors of the Taliban movement, a group that at this point, controls most of Kandahar province. Delving into the various deals that the Taliban was conducting to get into power, it indicates that the Afghan government, led by President Barnahuddin Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Masoud, is worried by the rapid growth and popularity of the Taliban. The Taliban hold "out hope for war-weary Afghans disgusted with the failure of national-level leaders to compromise and the failure of local commanders to establish local security."
Document 4
U.S. Department of State, Memorandum, "Developments in Afghanistan," December 5, 1994, Classification Unknown, 1 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This memo to the State Department's Afghanistan Desk shows concern over the Government of Pakistan's now-notorious Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate's (ISI) involvement in the Taliban's recent takeover of Kandahar. At the bottom of the memo, a handwritten note states, "This AM I've heard that General Babar is running this Taliban op." General Nasrullah Babar was the Pakistani Interior Minister, and also a Pashtun.
Document 5
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "[Excised]Believe Pakistan is Backing Taliban," December 6, 1994, Secret, 3pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable conveys the observations of a source who believes that the Taliban are being directly supported by Pakistan, the principal patron being none other than General Babar. According to this source, Pakistani frontier corps provided artillery cover for the Taliban's September seizure of the Spin Boldak arms dump.
Document 6
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "The Taliban: What We've Heard," January 26, 1995, Secret, 10 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

Relaying the observations of recent visitors to Kandahar, this cable suggests that the Taliban are well armed, militarily proficient, and eager to expand their influence in order to end the banditry of small militias and to invoke Sharia law. According to the cable, this Taliban influence has resulted in women being ordered to stay in the home, and prohibiting male doctors from treating female patients.
Document 7
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Meeting with the Taliban in Kandahar: More Questions than Answers," February 15, 1995, Confidential, 7 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad reports on the Taliban's plan for the future. They want to take over Kabul, disarm rival commanders, and install one government across Afghanistan. This document also shows the beginnings of the Taliban double-talk with Western governments. In one instance, the Taliban indicate their desire to bring peace back to Afghanistan, but also say that "anyone who gets in our way will be crushed." Financial support to the Taliban and drug policy are also discussed.
Document 8
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Finally, A Talkative Talib: Origins and Membership of the Religious Students' Movement," February 20, 1995, Confidential, 15 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable, relying on a Talib source, offers an in-depth sketch of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Taliban, as well as the creation and organization of the Taliban. The source attempts to dispel the notion that the Taliban is backed by a foreign patron, interestingly noting that the "movement sought good relations with the Islamic countries, but did not like Saudi Arabia's efforts to interfere in Afghan religious matters. Similarly, the Pakistan Government's desire to interfere in internal affairs, and the efforts of ISI to treat Afghanistan like another province are not appreciated." The source noted at the close of the conversation that, "like the lease of Hong Kong," the Durand Accord is about to expire amid renewed calls for an independent Pashtunistan.
Document 9
U.S. Embassy (Dushanbe), Cable, "Rabbani Emissary States Rabbani Will Not Surrender Power to Interim Council Until Taliban Join," February 21, 1995, Confidential, 9 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

During a meeting between Embassy officials and Afghan President Rabbani's Economic Advisor, Ashraf Shah, the latter summarizes events in Afghanistan, including the Taliban's taking-over of Charasiab, Maydan Shahr, and Chowk-i-Wardak, as well as the Ghazni-Kabul Road. Shah wanted U.S. advice but stated that the Government would probably not surrender power to an Interim Council until the Taliban agreed to join the council.
Document 10
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Afghanistan: Taliban Take Shindand Air Base; Herat Threatened - Will Iran Intervene," September 4, 1995, Confidential, 6 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan closely monitored development in the continuing Afghan civil war. The cable reports that the Taliban have seized the strategic Shindand Air Base, previously controlled by Ismail Khan, and are now moving towards the city of Herat. It also discusses possible Iranian reactions to the Taliban threat.
Document 11
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Afghanistan: Heavy fighting Rages West of Kabul; Herat Calm After Taliban Take-Over," September 6, 1995, Confidential, 6 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This document captures the Taliban's drive to victory as well as sentiments about their impending rule. The Taliban have taken over Herat forcing Ismail Khan along with 300-600 of his followers into Iran. Hekmatyar's forces are continuing to be attacked by Masoud and government troops. The cable also alerts Washington to news that an angry crowd of demonstrators has recently converged upon and set fire to the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul, allegedly in response to Pakistan's support for the Taliban and its role in the fall of Herat.
Document 12
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Eyewitness to the Fall of Herat Says Taliban are Winning Hearts and Minds - For Now," February 18, 1995, Confidential, 11 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This document describes the ongoing civil war in Afghanistan through the observations of an American citizen who witnessed the fall of Herat. The American, while faulting Ismail Khan for his political and military ineptitude, states that "the Taliban, in contrast, were extremely well organized, well-financed, and exhibited strong discipline."
Document 13
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Senator Brown and Congressman Wilson Discuss Afghanistan with Pakistani Officials," February 18, 1995, Confidential, 4 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

On February 18, 1995, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto met with Senator Hank Brown (R-CO) and Congressman Charlie Wilson (D-TX). Bhutto stressed the need for the Trans-Afghan gas pipeline in order to meet the "growing Pakistani demand for oil/gas, provide an outlet for the Central Asian Republics (CAR) other than via Iran and Russia, and encourage efforts towards [Afghan] national reconciliation." She also takes this opportunity to tell the Americans that the perception that "her government was backing the Taliban was simply untrue."

Document 14
"U.S. Department of State, Cable, Pak Foreign Minister Asks U.S. Cooperation on Afghanistan," February 21, 1996, Confidential, 6 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

During meetings with Pakistani Foreign Minister Assef Ali, Acting Secretary of State Strobe Talbott argues that Pakistani support for the "Islamicist Taliban movement" is forcing Moscow and Tehran to continue providing aid to Rabbani and Masoud. While sharing concern over increased outside interference, Afghan instability, drugs, and export of terrorism, Talbott suggests that Pakistan reestablish a more visible policy of neutrality before the two governments can act together in Afghanistan.

In a significant closing, Talbott "drew an analogy between Pakistani support for the Taliban in Afghanistan and the militants in Indian controlled Kashmir. While such support was undertaken to serve Pakistani interests, there were unintended consequences contrary to Pakistan's and the region's larger interests. Ultimately such groups could not be controlled and indulged in actions such as the kidnapping of foreigners in Kashmir."

Document 15
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "A/S Raphel Discusses Afghanistan," April 22, 1996 Confidential, 7 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robin Raphel travels to the region for discussions with representatives of the Government of Pakistan, the Kabul government, and Taliban officials.

The record of one meeting suggests that the top Pakistani leadership recognizes that its support for the Taliban has backfired. Pakistani General Jehangir Karamat refers to the Taliban as "A millstone around our necks," while Prime Minister Bhutto emphasizes that Pakistan is not providing military support to the Taliban and insisted that only minimal, non-lethal aid was being provided. Raphel's meetings with Kabul officials emphasized Rabbani and Masood's perception of themselves as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. They blame Pakistan and the Taliban for all of their problems, and Masoud goes as far as to say that, "Pakistan is as much to blame for the destruction of Afghanistan as the Soviets." Taliban officials take a soft approach, asking Raphel to help improve their image on human rights, while indicating their desire for the UN process to work stating that, "If the U.N. fails, then we have failed." The cable closes with commentary suggesting that growing insecurity within the Taliban and the Kabul regime, complemented by Pakistan's apparent willingness to engage more positively, has created an opportunity for a reinvigorated U.N. mission to move toward Afghan reconciliation

Document 16
U.S. Embassy (Moscow), Cable, "A/S Raphel Consultations with Deputy FM Chernyshev," May 13, 1996, Confidential, 6 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable describes Raphel's meets with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Albert Chernyshev which are devoted mostly to Afghanistan. Raphel indicates a growing desire in Washington to resolve the Afghan conflict. "In addition to our traditional concerns - restoring regional political stability, interdicting narcotics, and relieving human suffering -- the USG now hopes that peace in the region will facilitate U.S. business interests like the proposed Unocal Gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan." Raphel proposes an arms embargo to Afghanistan, and the Russians, while emphasizing their continued support for the Mestiri (U.N.) Mission, deny they are giving arms to any faction.

Document 17
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Dealing with the Taliban in Kabul," September 28, 1996, Confidential, 6 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

Following the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban, the State Department instructed the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan to gather information on the Taliban as well as send messages to the organization. This cable indicates that the U.S. wishes to "engage the new Taliban interim government at an early stage to: Demonstrate USG willingness to deal with them as the new authorities in Kabul, seek information about their plans, programs and policies, and express USG views on areas of key concern to US stability, human rights, narcotics, and terrorism." Some of these talking points show the desire of the U.S to locate "ex-Saudi financier and radical Islamist Osama Bin Laden."

Document 18
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Afghanistan: Taliban Official Says that Relations with Russia and Iran "Tense," September 29, 1997, Confidential, 10 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

Following the Taliban takeover of Kabul, Mullah Abdul Jalil indicates in a conversation with a U.S. Embassy political officer that relations with Russia and Iran are tense. Jalil also indicates that the Taliban have no idea of the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden, or any other "Arabs" flushed from terrorist training camps during the Taliban takeover, but that they are seeking Commander Masoud.

Document 19
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Ambassador Meets Taliban: We are the People," November 12, 1996, Confidential, 17 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable describes a meeting between U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Thomas W. Simons Jr. and the Taliban's "Acting Foreign Minister," Mullah Ghaus, on 11 November. Their discussions of the Afghan conflict began with Mullah Ghaus stating that "Thanks to God and help from its friends -including the United States-the Afghan resistance was able to defeat the Soviet Union and its allies." Ghaus continued by stating that peace that was to occur after the removal of the Soviets never arrived because of a "conspiracy of the communists, selfishness of resistance leaders, and foreign interference," blaming "interference by Russia, Iran, and India" in the affairs of Afghanistan as the main cause of the ongoing war. Ambassador Simons, in efforts to stop the tide of miscommunication and start on an equal footing with the pious Talib, attempted to explain American religiosity by stating that Americans are "the most religious people in the western world," and at the same time "have learned that it is very hard to discern the will of God." While the two men agree that a negotiated settlement is best, this document reveals some of difficultites in communication that existed between the USG and the Taliban.
Document 20
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Afghanistan: Taliban Rep Won't Seek UN Seat For Now," December 13, 1996, Confidential, 6 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

American officials met with a Taliban representative who suggested that the Taliban and Afghanistan want USG influence and encouragement, instead of the Iranian, Pakistani, or Russian influence and money that is being pressed upon them. One of the U.S. officials responds that the US has "neither funds nor the inclination to back any group," and that it does not want to distort the political process. According to the source, the Taliban were divided internally into three groups, "Pashtun chauvinists," "religious ones who believe that Allah will deliver the entire country to them," and "the moderates who understand the Taliban needs to reach out to the other ethnic/religious groups." The source also indicated that Pakistani support for the Taliban was extensive, coming mainly from the ISI, and included cash, supplies, on the ground military/intelligence advisers, and even the drafting of letters for the Taliban.

Document 21
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Scenesetter for Your Visit to Islamabad: Afghan Angle," January 16, 1997, Confidential, 6 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

Ambassador Simons assessed the situation in Afghanistan for Assistant Secretary Raphel, prior to her visit to the region. He praised the Taliban for their ability to restore order to Kandahar, where the Taliban are almost revered, but tells Raphel that the Taliban are viewed as occupiers in Herat and Kabul. Simons tells Raphel that the Taliban feel slighted by the U.N. and International NGO's and also that Pakistani assistance for the Taliban is pushing Iran, and probably Russia and India are aiding Masoud and Rabbani. The Scenesetter ends with bullet points outlining U.S. policy interests ranging from a peace process, counterterrorism including the request to "give up or expel Usama Bin Ladin," counternarcotics, humanitarian issues, and gas and oil pipelines.
Document 22
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Afghanistan: GOP denies Pakistani Involvement in Fighting; Taliban Reportedly Enlisting Supporters in Frontier Areas," June 4, 1997, Confidential, 4 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable summarizes a conversation between an American political officer in Islamabad and Pakistani Afghan Desk Officer Naeem Khan, and another conversation wtih Abdul Wahab, the First Secretary at the Taliban-controlled Afghan Embassy in Islamabad. During their conversation, Khan insisted that Pakistan does not militarily aid the Taliban, while admitting to giving the Taliban only diplomatic support. Wahab too denied official Pakistani support, yet admitted that the Taliban does receive support (manpower) from the tribal areas in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.
Document 23
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Afghanistan: Observers Report Uptick in Support for Anti-Taliban Factions by Iran," July 7, 1997, Confidential, 10 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable relays information about Iranian military and political support for anti-Taliban factions. State Department source believes Iran's moves are a strategic reaction to the Taliban's efforts to gain control of the north, while Pakistani representatives see Iran's moves as purely aggressive.

Document 24
Department of State, Cable, "Afghanistan: Meeting with the Taliban," December 11, 1997, Confidential, 13 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

On December 8, 1997 Taliban officials, who were in the US under the auspices of Unocal, met with Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Karl Inderfurth in Washington D.C. The Taliban officials seek improved relations and American assistance to fund crop substitution programs. Inderfurth welcomes cooperation in this area and also queries the Taliban on their gender policies and terrorism. Taliban officials replied that their gender policies reflect Afghan tradition, and pledged to prevent terrorists from using Afghanistan to launch attacks on others. While arguing that the Taliban did not invite Bin Laden into Afghanistan, Taliban officials claim they stopped allowing him to give public interviews and "frustrated Iranian and Iraqi attempts to get in contact with him."
Document 25
U.S. Consulate (Peshawar), Cable, "Afghanistan: A Report of Pakistani Military Assistance to the Taliban," March 24, 1998, Confidential, 3pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable relays a recent incident of alleged Pakistani military assistance to the Taliban. The incident, while not confirmed, involved 25 large Mercedes Benz trucks full of Pakistani fighters being delivered to Kabul airport for transport to Kunduz in order to assist the Taliban.
Document 26
Department of State (Washington), Cable, "Afghanistan: Taliban Convene Ulema, Iran and Bin Ladin on the Agenda," September 25, 1998, Confidential, 5 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

According to State Department information, the upcoming Ulema, or meeting of religious scholars, to be conducted by the Taliban will discuss Iran and Osama Bin Laden's presence in Afghanistan. The Department's source sees a divide in Taliban ranks over Bin Laden's presence in Afghanistan, but also suggests the Ulema will only reiterate what Mullah Omar has already said on Bin Laden, that he is a guest of the Taliban, and that he has not been proved to be involved in any bombings.
Document 27
Defense Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Assessment, "Usama Bin Ladin/ Al-Qaida Information Operations," September 1999, Top Secret, 15 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This heavily excised Intelligence Assessment shows small portions of a document that will hopefully one day be released in full. The released portions discuss among other things, callback services for people residing in a foreign country, the INMARSAT-M Telephone, the Taliban website, the Islamic Gateway Organization, and a Bin Laden chronology.

Document 28
Defense Intelligence Agency, Cable, "IIR [Excised]/Veteran Afghanistan Traveler's Analysis of Al Qaeda and Taliban Exploitable Weaknesses," October 2, 2001, Secret, 10 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This DIA report discusses the current status of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and strategy for the impending American-led war against them. The source believes that forces must learn to think outside of the box, rid themselves of the Western mindset, and focus on human intelligence. The cable elucidates the ISI's connection with Bin Laden by noting that "Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network was able to expand under the safe sanctuary extended by Taliban following Pakistan Directives."
Document 29
Defense Intelligence Agency, Cable, "IIR [Excised]/Veteran Afghanistan Traveler's Analysis of Al Qaeda and Taliban Military, Political and Cultural Landscape and its Weaknesses," October 2, 2001, Secret, 7 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This summary details recent events in Afghanistan and the role of Pakistan in supporting the Taliban movement. It describes how Pakistan preferred to groom incompetent commanders such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar for leadership positions in Afghanistan who would then be reliant upon Pakistan. The failure of supporting Hekmatyar, which "effectively saw the lebanonization of Afghanistan," caused the Pakistanis to introduce the Taliban. The account notes that "Pakistan has lost every war it has ever fought." The cable also notes that "it must be a deeply troubling period for General (Musharraf) in Pakistan, who is asked to help hunt down the culprits that he helped to establish," and ends with a summary of the al-Qaeda agenda, the Pakistani agenda, and the death of Ahmad Shah Masoud in the context of the downing of the twin towers.
Document 30
Department of Defense, Cable, [Title Excised,] October 4, 2001, Confidential, 5 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

Reflecting the change in Pakistan's policy after 9/11, a DIA source discusses Pakistan and Musharraf's support for the international fight against terrorism. The source suggests that assisting the U.S. "serves Pakistan's self interests," and that Pakistan would like to be recognized and assisted by the U.S. and the rest of the international community for its commitment to the struggle.
Document 31
Defense Intelligence Agency, Cable, "IIR [Excised]/The Assassination of Massoud Related to 11 September 2001 Attack," November 21, 2001, Secret, 5 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

DIA asseses the relationship between the assassination of Northern Alliance Commander Ahmad Shah Masoud and the terrorist attacks of September 11. Apparently Masoud had gained limited knowledge "regarding the intentions of the Saudi millionaire Usama (bin Ladin) (UBL), and his terrorist organization, al-Qaida, to perform a terrorist act against the U.S., on a scale larger than the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania."
Document 32
Defense Intelligence Agency, Cable, "IIR [Excised] Pakistani Political, Military Situation, and Terrorism Issues," January 9, 2002, Secret, 5 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable discusses the political and military situation in Pakistan, including government stability, armed forces capabilities, and terrorism issues in light of the post-September 11 climate.

New Document: State Department Report, "U.S. Engagement with the Taliban on Usama Bin Laden," Secret, Circa July 16, 2001, 9 pp.


For useful background on terrorism and the Taliban see:

Byrne, Malcolm and Jeffrey Richelson eds. "Terrorism and U.S. Policy, 1968-2002: From the Dawn of Modern Terrorism to the Hunt for Bin Laden " Chadwyck-Healey/Proquest, 2002.

Cogan, Charles. "Partners in Time: The CIA and Afghanistan since 1979." World Policy Journal. Summer 1993.

Kux, Dennis. "The United States and Pakistan: Disenchanted Allies," Woodrow Wilson Press, Washington D.C., 2000.

Maley, William ed. "Fundamentalism Reborn?: Afghanistan and the Taliban." New York University Press: New York,1998.

Rashid, Ahmed. "Taliban: Militant Oil, Islam, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia.". Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 2000.

Stern, Jessica. "Pakistan's Jihad Culture." Foreign Affairs. November/December 2000.

Weinbaum, Marvin. "Pakistan and Afghanistan: Resistance and Reconstruction." Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1994.

Posted by maximpost at 5:31 PM EDT

First Terrorist Bomb-Belts Reach Europe

DEBKAfile Special Report

4 April:
Serhane ben Abdelmajid Farkhet, 35, alias "The Tunisian", suspected ringleader of the Madrid train bombings, was one of the terrorists who blew themselves up Saturday night in the southwestern Madrid suburb of Leganes when Spanish police closed in on their hideout. Spanish interior minister Angel Acebes said it is impossible to establish how many al Qaeda suspects were holed up in the building. They began shooting from a window at police approaching the apartment building. Special police agents prepared to storm the building when the terrorists set off a powerful explosion with several bomb belts shouting God is great in Arabic. One policeman was killed and 15 injured. Some of the suspects may have escaped under cover of the blast or before the police closed the net around the building.
Also found in the damaged apartment building were additional explosive devices and 200 detonators.
Forty apartments were evacuated and the area sealed off. Three of the terror suspects who committed suicide have been identified, but the possibility of more having taken part in the group suicide has not been ruled out. Spanish radio reported Jamal Ahmidan, 33, was among the dead. He was named in one of the six arrest warrants issued in the March 11 train bombings investigation.
This was the first time terrorists are known to have used bomb belts in Europe, also the first battle with al Qaeda to take place on the continent.
Spanish police are already holding 15 suspects in connection with the attack on the commuter trains last month. Six have been charged with mass murder and nine with collaborating with a terrorist organization. Eleven are members of the al Qaeda-linked Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group.
Friday, April 2, Spain went on terror alert after a bomb was found on the Madrid-Seville high speed rail track near Toledo 10 km south of capital. The device was connected to a detonator with a 130 m cable. The Spanish army and helicopters are now guarding Spanish railway lines.

1,500-Mile Oil Pipeline Fading Fast For China
Japan Offers Russia An Alternate Route
By Peter S. Goodman
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, April 5, 2004; Page A01
BEIJING -- Last May, China's president, Hu Jintao, flew to Moscow to sign what was billed as a historic declaration of cooperation with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. A day later came what seemed a tangible outgrowth of the new relationship -- the inking of a $150 billion deal that was to see the two neighbors jointly erect a 1,500-mile-long pipeline to carry crude oil from Siberia to China.
The pipeline deal was key to China's increasingly desperate need for energy to fuel its torrid industrial expansion. It underscored how the Communist Party government, once isolated and obsessed with self-sufficiency, is now increasingly engaged with the outside world, refashioning relations with previously bitter enemies in pursuit of its economic needs.
Yet since the signing ceremony, almost nothing has gone according to the Chinese plan. The Russian signatory to the deal, Yukos Oil Co., has fallen into disarray following the jailing of its chief shareholder on fraud charges. Japan, with its own need for oil, has pressed a competing proposal for a pipeline that would bypass China. Japan has extended as much as $6 billion to finance its construction, and billions of dollars more via private companies for oil exploration in eastern Siberia, according to senior government officials in Tokyo who have participated in talks with the Russian side.
Japan's largesse now appears to have captured the project, according to officials in Beijing, Tokyo and Moscow.
For China, the Siberian pipeline has disintegrated from a model of Beijing's new internationalism to a painful lesson in the complexities of the global oil market. It has reinforced how energy remains a zero-sum game: For China and Japan, whose historic enmity has lately been muted by growing trade links, the scramble for oil has sharpened a natural rivalry for resources.
In a recent interview in Beijing, Zhai Guangming, a top official at China National Petroleum Co., which signed the deal with Yukos, acknowledged that the Siberian pipeline was a fading dream.
"The plan is not happening now," he said. "The Japanese are more practical and business-oriented. That's why they can use more money to grab gas and oil. But for China, we just started the market system. It's hard for China to jump out and say we're going to pay such an enormous sum of money."
Japan's government continues to assess Russian claims about Siberian reserves, and officials stress they have yet to irrevocably commit to anything. Russia continues to study proposed routes for the pipeline and has yet to render a final decision. But several officials said Moscow has agreed in principle to build a pipeline from oilfields in eastern Siberia to the Russian port of Nakhodka, on the Sea of Japan, and not, at least not anytime soon, to the Chinese city of Daqing, as Yukos promised.
"Russia is determined to set up a pipeline route to the Asian market, and their preference seems to be clear: the Nakhodka route," said a senior Japanese official who has participated in talks with Russia.
"We are going to do something with the Russians," said Kuninori Matsuda, director of the Russian Division of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "We have told them we are ready to cooperate, including financial and technical."
In an interview with several journalists in Moscow in February, then-energy minister Igor Yusufov called the Nakhodka route "of greater strategic importance for us," adding that the proposed line to China "didn't address the problems of resource development in eastern Siberia."
Zhai, who recently briefed Premier Wen Jiabao on China's long-term energy security, said Beijing was now focused on tapping oil and gas fields in neighboring Kazakhstan to compensate for the likely loss of the Siberian crude.
The pipeline to Siberia was to have been a crucial infusion of oil -- 20 million tons of crude a year by 2010 -- at a time when China's burgeoning factories and cars are straining the supply. It would have run from Siberian fields near Angarsk, traversing country south of the giant Lake Baikal, and on to Daqing, an industrial city in northeastern China that was the birthplace of the modern Chinese oil industry. Only a decade ago, China was an oil exporter. Now, it is the third-largest importer after the United States and Japan. Beijing reckons it will need to import up to 600 million tons of oil a year by 2020, more than triple its anticipated domestic production.
The Siberian link was aimed at diminishing China's dependence on oil from the volatile Middle East, the source of more than half the country's imports. China has become uneasy that the lifeblood of its economy is increasingly tied to the policing of international shipping lanes by the United States.
The Siberian pipeline idea was laden with history: Back when Beijing's relations with Moscow were defined by Communist solidarity, Moscow dispatched engineers to help develop China's oil industry. But when the two powers broke off relations in the mid-1950s, the Soviet engineers abandoned Daqing and derided the Chinese on the way out, telling them they would never manage alone. Chairman Mao Tse-tung then made the success of the project a kind of national crusade. When the work went on and the oil flowed, Daqing became a monument to China's resilience and an oft-touted source of Communist Party pride, along with a cautionary tale about reliance on its neighbor to the north.
The deal with Yukos was supposed to bury this unpleasant history. As the world's biggest oil producer, Russia has a natural interest in finding buyers nearby. Russia and China have mutual interest in improved relations to diminish the need for substantial military presence along their shared border.
But long before the Yukos deal's signing, the pipeline was plagued by fundamental problems that were apparently not fully evident to the Chinese side. Under the aggressive leadership of chief shareholder Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Yukos became for a time Russia's largest producer and tested the limits of Moscow's authority. In Russia, only the state-owned Transneft has the authority to build pipelines, and its patrons in government resented Yukos trying to usurp that monopoly. Yukos executives long regarded China as a lucrative market for its eastern Siberian oil fields and hoped to spur the government to follow their company's lead.
In Moscow, the pipeline deal with China cemented the sense that Yukos was effectively conducting its own foreign policy. Perhaps more important, Russian government officials had misgivings about the Yukos proposal because it effectively tied sales of Siberian oil to a single buyer, China, giving Beijing excessive leverage over price. If a pipeline could instead reach the Pacific, running about 2,500 miles, it would allow Russia to sell crude to Japan as well as South Korea, China and perhaps refineries on the West Coast of the United States.
With this vision in mind, Russian officials had already opened a channel with Japan to discuss a pipeline to Nakhodka, an ice-free deep-water port. In February 2002, at a Tokyo conference, an official from Transneft made a speech in which he proposed such a link.
Japan, which imports virtually all its oil, was warm to the idea. Japan figured it could ship oil from Nakhodka to refineries on the Sea of Japan for less than a third of the $1.50 per barrel it costs to ship oil from the Middle East, the source of 90 percent of its present supply.
A joint Russian-Japanese pipeline project could also fulfill a broader objective for the two countries: More than a half-century after the end of World War II, Japan and Russia have yet to sign a peace treaty formally ending hostilities. They continue to squabble over competing claims to a chain of islands, the Kurils. A multibillion-dollar commercial tie-up could be used as a pretext to settle longstanding issues.
Japan's Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry began studying the project. In May 2002, Igor Yusufov, Russia's energy minister at the time, met Takeo Hiranuma, Japan's then-minister for economy and trade, at an energy conclave in Detroit and discussed the outlines of a pipeline project. That October, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi traveled to Russia and declared Japan's willingness to participate.
The landmark came in January 2003, when at a Moscow summit Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi officially agreed that the pipeline "would greatly contribute to regional development, the stabilization of the international energy markets, and enhancement of energy security in the Asia-Pacific region." Sources said Koizumi offered no financial commitments, but signaled a willingness to make capital available.
The details emerged as a series of high-level Japanese delegations traveled to Moscow: The government-led Japan Bank for International Cooperation would supply low-interest loans for the pipeline. Japanese firms influenced heavily by the government could be relied upon to explore untapped areas of eastern Siberia, key to Russia's future development plans.
China responded to the competition from Japan by emphasizing the shorter route to Daqing. But on May 30, 2003, just two days after Yukos signed the deal with CNPC to build the Daqing pipeline, President Putin shot down that argument. "Some people say that a China route would be built more quickly and cheaply," Putin said. "But it is important to develop untapped resources in Siberia."
Environmental concerns surrounding the vast Lake Baikal also argued against the route to China, Russian sources said.
Last August, Japan and Russia convened the first of five meetings in Moscow of a working group designed to finalize plans for the project. The group is composed of officials from Japan's ministries of economy and foreign affairs and their Russian counterparts, as well as representatives from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and Japanese oil companies.
For Japan, the key remaining issue is establishing that Siberia holds sufficient reserves to justify the pipeline. Japan seeks 1 million barrels of crude a day delivered to Nakhodka. Russia has said that eastern Siberia now holds proven reserves sufficient to satisfy about 80 percent of that. "Before we decide to make an investment, we have to be confident," said a Japanese official involved in the talks.
Throughout the jockeying for the pipeline, Japan has sought to play down the notion that its gain is China's loss, stressing that oil will be sold at the market price to any buyer in Nakhodka. "Of course, we expect a substantial proportion of the crude reaching Nakhodka will reach Japan, but we do not intend to monopolize it," the official said.
Yukos recently agreed to increase shipments of crude to Daqing by rail. Japanese officials say Russia is still officially studying whether it could build a spur to Daqing off the main pipeline. But officials and analysts doubt enough oil could be pumped in eastern Siberia to make such a scenario feasible. "The explored deposits are not large enough," former energy minister Yusufov said. Even if it were possible, it would not happen anytime soon, leaving China where it began -- scouring the globe for alternatives.
"It could take 10 years to produce enough oil to fill the other pipeline," said Kaname Nakano, deputy director general of Energy and Natural Resources Finance Department at the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. "That is why it is such a delicate matter."
Staff writer Peter Baker contributed to this report from Moscow. Special correspondent Akiko Kashiwagi contributed from Tokyo.

? 2004 The Washington Post Company


Some Bush Initiatives Languish In Congress
Follow-Up Missing, Lawmakers Say

By Charles Babington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 5, 2004; Page A01
Some of President Bush's splashiest proposals are languishing in Congress even though his party controls both chambers. The main reason is not Democratic obstruction but a lack of vigorous follow-through by the administration once the initial hoopla died down, according to some Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
Proposals to bar gay marriage, rewrite immigration laws, protect Americans from anthrax bacteria and send astronauts to the moon and Mars are progressing slowly -- or not at all -- even though Bush initially endorsed them at high-visibility events.
The administration's low-energy approach to these issues contrasts sharply with its promotion of unquestioned priorities such as tax cuts and educational accountability, for which the president and his staff relentlessly marshaled public and congressional support to overcome opposition.
A White House spokesman and some Republicans defended the administration's approach, saying the president is waiting for the appropriate time to press for action on some of his initiatives, while recognizing that others may have to wait for a second term.
Bush endorsed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, said White House spokesman Trent Duffy, and now it is time to "let the American people, through their elected officials, decide."
"This president has a very impressive record of accomplishments," Duffy added.
Democrats say the president wants to score political points on matters he knows even a Republican-controlled Congress won't pass. Republicans say that's not the White House's motive, but even some GOP senators recently chastised the administration for providing virtually no legislative follow-up to its big immigration proposal. House Republicans agree that the immigration plan, along with some other major Bush initiatives, faces heavy odds.
Immigration reform "is considered by all a divisive issue," and "it's not going to pass this year," said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.). As for Bush's motives in proposing to overhaul immigration rules in January, Davis said, "I don't know what he thought."
Regarding Bush's proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, which faces stiff resistance in Congress, Davis said, "The president doesn't vote on constitutional amendments. . . . He's entitled to his opinion, and some people are scratching their heads over why he did it."
Davis added, however, that some of the stalled issues "may well be second-term items" if Bush wins reelection this fall.
Some independent analysts warn that proposing big programs, but not truly fighting for their enactment, can cut both ways politically.
"Some of these are transparently political things that the president states and doesn't follow through on," said James Thurber, director of American University's Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. Although Bush may score initial points with targeted groups, the strategy "has the potential to backfire" if voters believe there is not a sincere effort to deliver, Thurber said.
Whatever the White House's calculations, some GOP and Democratic lawmakers express puzzlement at what they consider half-hearted efforts to advance certain initiatives. Several senators, for example, chided the administration at a March 23 Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Bush's ambitious but not yet detailed plan to make 8 million undocumented immigrants eligible for temporary legal status, for at least six years, as long as they are employed.
"It is going to require intense presidential leadership," Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) told an administration representative. "And so my question would be, what is the administration doing? . . . I'm at a loss to see where your intensity of debate is up here."
Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) praised Bush for raising the issue of immigration reform but added, "Frankly, the president's proposal was met with all sorts of criticism from all over the political spectrum for its inadequacy or its lack of focus on one factor or another to the point that I would now say the president fell back."
"I've been around long enough to know . . . when the administration really wants something, any administration, and when they're kind of lukewarm," said Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.). "I'm being polite by calling it lukewarm at this point. I don't get any sense at all about real energy behind this."
Eduardo Aguirre, immigration services director at the Department of Homeland Security, told the senators: "I think the president's serious about the issue and I think the president is looking to the Congress to frame the legislation that can be brought to the administration. . . . Whether or not it's going to pass the Senate and the House, I'll leave it to you." Aguirre said the president has spoken publicly about the immigration initiative a dozen times since it was first announced, but some lawmakers and aides say Bush hasn't done enough to get the plan moving.
Bush announced his immigration plan on Jan. 7 in a White House speech before 200 Latino supporters. Although some business groups and Latino advocates hailed the initiative, a number of conservatives said it would reward those who break the law by entering the United States illegally.
Seven weeks after his immigration speech, Bush embraced an even more contentious proposal, long sought by many social conservatives: amending the constitution to bar same-sex marriages.
But the daunting campaign to achieve the amendment -- which requires a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate, then ratification by 38 states -- shows little evidence of White House involvement. Republicans and Democrats in both houses have said they see virtually no chance of passage, yet the administration has made no overt move to jump-start the effort.
Duffy said in an interview Friday, "Congress is holding hearings, and it's moving forward." Some advocates of the constitutional amendment are giving the administration a pass for now, but are serving notice that Bush can't stay on the sidelines indefinitely. "As we get closer to a vote" in Congress, possibly by late summer, "we are hoping and expecting the president to use his persuasive abilities to get it passed," said Gary Bauer, president of the group American Values.
Another White House initiative, Project BioShield, has languished for 14 months, since Bush proposed it in his 2003 State of the Union address.
The 10-year, $6 billion program is supposed to develop vaccines and medicines to help Americans survive a bioterror attack involving agents such as anthrax bacteria.
The House overwhelmingly approved the plan, but it bogged down in the Senate, to the frustration of companies developing drugs they say show promise. A few senators have objected to various provisions, including expedited federal contracting procedures and disclosure guidelines for military personnel being vaccinated. Most of the objections have been resolved, however, and the remaining ones are minor, say Senate staffers.
Although Bush urged movement on Project BioShield in speeches in June and last month, some of its advocates question why it hasn't been enacted by a party that controls the House, Senate and White House.
The chief need is for the government to agree to buy stockpiles of an anti-anthrax drug, which is the only way to justify the cost of continuing to test and develop, said Asha M. George, managing director of the Anser Institute for Homeland Security, an Arlington think tank.
"If the administration really wants to do this, then the administration is going to have to agree to buy it," she said. Rockville-based Human Genome Sciences Inc. has tested a promising anti-anthrax drug called Abthrax but repeatedly has implored Congress or the administration to fund Project BioShield or some other plan to make the drug's development feasible.
White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said, "We're still very committed" to the project.
Another Bush initiative that drew big headlines -- his Jan. 14 call for manned missions to the moon and Mars -- fell quiet so quickly that many were left wondering how plausible it might be. Six days after the announcement, Bush delivered his 2004 State of the Union address, in which he did not mention the moon-Mars proposal.
Healy said there was no need to cite the plan in the State of the Union talk because Bush "had just given a major policy speech on it." Some Democrats see a more partisan explanation.
"There are a lot of instances where they make a political point when they don't want to push it legislatively," said House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.). For example, he said, Bush looks "compassionate" by calling for extending unemployment benefits, but he doesn't press Congress to actually authorize the funding for it, so he can claim a "conservative" budget.

Staff researcher Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.

? 2004 The Washington Post Company

Pyongyang Willing to Abandon Nuclear Program
A possible change in North Korea's stance has been detected as Pyongyang says it is willing to give up all of its nuclear facilities including those for peaceful purposes. North Korea is willing to abandon its peaceful nuclear programs to produce energy if it is offered "appropriate corresponding measures" at six-party nuclear talks. Officials in Seoul say this change in stance was reportedly disclosed by North Korea during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing in Pyongyang late last month.
In previous negotiations with South Korea, the United States, China, Japan, and Russia, North Korea had said it would only consider scrapping its nuclear weapons ambitions. Earlier this week, South Korean foreign minister Ban Ki-moon back from a trip to Beijing had said North Korean officials had indicated their intention to resolve the nuclear standoff and expressed interest in compensation measures and a security guarantee for its regime.

Ban also said Pyongyang had agreed to participate in working-level discussions and another round of six-party negotiations on the nuclear issue. According to officials here, South Korea and China are working to put together a working group meeting as soon as possible but are at the same time concerned that the talks may not happen within this month as Washington has yet to show any response to this latest development.

Arirang TV

Arms Control Today April 2004

Seven Lessons for Dealing With Today's North Korea Nuclear Crisis
Excerpted from Going Critical: The First North Korean Nuclear Crisis

Joel S. Wit, Daniel Poneman, and Robert Gallucci

As the United States and North Korea prepare for a fourth round of talks to resolve an 18-month old crisis over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs, the two countries find themselves fighting over many of the same issues they fought over during the last nuclear crisis in 1993 and 1994. During that showdown, North Korea similarly announced its withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and threatened to take steps (including the production of plutonium) toward building nuclear weapons. The crisis ended with an agreement by North Korea to freeze its nuclear program and provide a full accounting of its past actions in return for a U.S. commitment to meet Pyongyang's energy needs and begin the process of normalizing bilateral relations. In the following excerpts , U.S. negotiators Wit, Poneman, and Gallucci argue that the previous set of talks hold important lessons for their counterparts today in the Bush administration. Going Critical: The First North Korean Nuclear Crisis is to be released by Brookings Institution Press later this month.

What lessons do the crises of 1993 and 1994 hold for the impasse of today? Now, as then, the critical issue is North Korean access to bomb material, this time highly enriched uranium as well as plutonium. Now, as then, the consequences of failure would be grave: an untethered North Korea would be able to churn out bomb-making material each year for use in threatening its neighbors--or for export to terrorists or others. (The fastest route to Al Qaeda would seem to run through Pakistan, North Korea's active trading partner in illicit arms and the likely source of the technology North Korea used to enrich uranium.) Now, as then, a difficult relationship with a newly elected South Korean president further complicates an already daunting diplomatic mission. Now, as then, the other regional powers--South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia--have important roles to play in resolving the crisis.
Mark Twain once observed that by sitting on a hot stove, his cat learned not to sit on a hot stove again. But the cat also learned not to sit on a cold stove. Even if one considered the Agreed Framework a hot stove, the question is whether the government could design a cold stove that could support a lasting and effective diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear challenge. To do so, it would have to consider what kind of agreement would advance U.S. interests and how the United States should go about negotiating such an arrangement. The 1994 crisis has relevance for today on both counts.
Lesson 1. Set strategic priorities, then stick to them. It may seem too obvious to dwell on this lesson, but setting and maintaining priorities is easier said than done. During the first North Korean crisis, the Clinton administration placed the highest strategic priority on blocking North Korean access to additional stocks of separated plutonium. Clarity on that point enabled decision-makers to resist pressures inside the administration to press other (admittedly important) objectives--curbing Pyongyang's ballistic missile program and its threatening conventional force posture--to the point where they would jeopardize the resolution of the nuclear crisis.
Failure to set priorities quickly leads to stalemate. For example, the Bush administration proposed a comprehensive approach in dealing with North Korea, a "bold initiative" that would offer energy and other carrots if North Korea verifiably dismantled its nuclear program and satisfied other U.S. security concerns.31 Such an approach runs the risk of failure because it seeks full North Korean performance on all U.S. demands before offering significant U.S. performance on any North Korean demands. There was never any chance North Korea would accede to such a position, especially since time played in Pyongyang's favor as each passing day it enhanced its own nuclear capabilities. Since the president has made clear that the United States seeks a diplomatic resolution to the current crisis, some parallelism in performance will need to be negotiated if the parties are to achieve agreement on the core issues.
Lesson 2. Integrate carrots and sticks into a strategy of coercive diplomacy. If offered only carrots, the North Koreans will conclude that the other side is more desperate for a deal than they are and will likely continue on a path of defiance and increasing negotiating demands. Offering only sticks will tell the North Koreans that there is no benefit from complying with international demands, except avoidance of pain. They might as well continue down a dangerous path of defiance until their acts become so threatening that the international community will have to respond, by which time Pyongyang may have substantially strengthened its bargaining leverage. That is essentially what occurred after Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly challenged the North Koreans in October 2002 regarding their secret enrichment program.
The Clinton administration relied on both carrots and sticks to try to resolve the 1994 crisis, integrating them into a negotiating position that presented a clear choice.32 If Pyongyang returned to full compliance with international nonproliferation norms, then the international community would respond favorably, reassuring North Korea that compliance would enhance its national security, and even prosperity. It was easier to define the acceptable end-state than to define a viable diplomatic path to reach it. Once the North Koreans were prepared to back down and comply with their nonproliferation obligations, they still sought a face-saving way to do so. This was the "escape valve" that President Clinton kept prodding his advisers to embed into the U.S. negotiating position and, deus ex machina, finally appeared in the form of Jimmy Carter.
At the same time, Pyongyang had to know that if it passed up the face-saving exit and continued to defy the international community, it would experience increasing isolation and hardship. In 1994 this coercive side of diplomacy came to the fore through a gradual military buildup on the peninsula and efforts to seek global support for economic sanctions. Ominous signals from Beijing at the time must have undermined the North Koreans' confidence that China would intervene to insulate North Korea from the effect of UN Security Council sanctions. These efforts put pressure on North Korea to back down when the crisis crested in June 1994. Arriving in Pyongyang at the critical moment, former President Jimmy Carter gave the North Koreans a face-saving way out. They took it.
Lesson 3. Use multilateral institutions and forums to reinforce U.S. diplomacy. Each of North Korea's neighbors has unique equities and assets that must be brought into the settlement. South Korea is the most directly affected, sharing the peninsula and innumerable ties of blood, culture, and history. The United States--a neighbor by virtue of the 37,000 American troops deployed across the Demilitarized Zone--has an unshakable security commitment to South Korea and broader political and economic interests in the region. Japan shares a complex history with Korea--including its occupation of the peninsula ending with Tokyo's defeat in World War II, the painful issues of Japanese abducted by the North Korean regime, and ties between ethnic Koreans living in Japan and their relatives in the North. It also has the economic resources likely to be an essential part of any settlement with North Korea.
China--traditionally as close to North Korea as "lips and teeth"--has loosened its ties but remains more closely involved with Pyongyang than any other regional player. It also retains the most leverage of any outsider, as the provider of the majority of North Korea's fuel and food, without which Pyongyang's economy could not survive. While Russia does not approximate that degree of influence, it is bound to the North by treaty and historical ties dating back to Josef Stalin. It can still contribute significantly to a diplomatic settlement of North Korea's differences with the world.
The Clinton administration worked closely with all of the other regional players in the quest for a solution to the nuclear crisis. It also made full use of all available multilateral institutions to bring pressure to bear upon North Korea in the effort to persuade it to comply with international nonproliferation norms. When the Clinton administration engaged in bilateral discussions with North Korea, it did so with multilateral backing--encouraged initially by South Korea and China, authorized by the UN Security Council. These bilateral talks in no way detracted from the administration effort to secure broad multilateral support for a negotiated solution if possible, and for the use of coercive measures if necessary. To the contrary, the showing of its good-faith bilateral efforts helped the United States make its case in multilateral forums.
Lesson 4. Use bilateral talks to probe diplomatic alternatives. While multilateral diplomacy is indispensable, involving more governments--with varying motives, interests, and objectives--at best complicates and at worst dilutes or even undermines U.S. efforts. The United States should therefore use multilateral diplomacy but not be locked into it exclusively. As a sovereign nation, the United States must be free to use any mechanism--including bilateral talks--to advance its unique interests and objectives. In that sense, bilateral talks are not merely a "gift" to be conferred on other governments, but a vector to convey U.S. perspectives unalloyed and undiluted by multilateral involvement.
American negotiators sometimes envisaged outcomes that would satisfy its multilateral partners' needs, even if the partners were unwilling or unable (because of their negotiating constraints or domestic political factors) to approve certain negotiating positions in advance. Of course, the trade-off is that although reducing the number of parties in direct negotiations can facilitate reaching a deal, it can complicate implementation to the degree that the arrangement does not adequately address the concerns of the governments whose cooperation is essential to success.
Today the Bush administration faces the same dilemma. It has relied almost entirely on multilateral talks, rejecting any but fleeting bilateral contacts with Pyongyang. This approach may give the key governments a greater stake in ensuring that an agreement is fully implemented, create greater pressure on Pyongyang by presenting a unified front, and provide an avenue for others to bring carrots or sticks to bear in the service of the collective diplomatic effort. The disadvantages include an inevitable muffling of U.S. positions in relation to Pyongyang, while also subjecting Washington to greater pressure to modify its own positions.
Most important, placing so much weight on the multilateral format of the discussions with North Korea allows Pyongyang to dictate the pace of the crisis. Pyongyang already makes the decisions on its own nuclear activities. Letting it off the hook of "confronting its accusers" also gives it the upper hand in deciding the pace of the diplomatic effort. Rigid insistence on specific formats or conditions (as opposed to an "anytime, anywhere" offer for talks) permits the North Koreans--now liberated from the cameras, seals, and inspectors of the [International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)] that they ejected in 2002--to continue their pursuit of nuclear weapons while sidestepping international pressure. Since time is on North Korea's side, the United States and its allies should seek to force the issue by reasserting control over the pacing of the crisis.
In the Civil War, it was not enough for Abraham Lincoln to refuse to recognize the Confederate States of America. He had to take affirmative action to interfere with the Confederacy, which would have realized its strategic aims simply by carrying on its activities independently from--and unmolested by--the Union. Similarly, North Korea can realize its strategic objectives simply by continuing its current path until someone stops it. The longer real negotiations are delayed, the greater the nuclear capability--and bargaining leverage--the North will have accumulated. So whether a particular round of talks with North Korea is bilateral or multilateral is less important than that they occur sooner rather than later. (This is where setting priorities correctly comes into play.)
Lesson 5. South Korean support is crucial to any lasting solution of the North Korean nuclear problem. The role of South Korea is as complex as it is central to resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis. Seoul's support is critical, since any action or solution, whatever form it takes, will be on its peninsula. To that end, in 1993 and 1994 the United States and South Korea spent enormous amounts of time and energy working together to forge a common strategy. Contrary to popular belief in South Korea, time after time Washington deferred to Seoul or explicitly took its views into account. The record shows that South Korea had a remarkable degree of influence, even though its positions frequently changed.
Some South Koreans have complained about being harnessed to an ally ready to sacrifice their interests on the altar of nuclear nonproliferation. The most notable example is President Kim's recent claim that he stopped President Clinton from starting a second Korean War.34 In fact, there were no eleventh-hour phone calls to the White House. President Kim was solidly behind the American drive for sanctions, and his government was well informed about the gradual military buildup on the peninsula as well as the more extensive deployments that were about to be considered. Seoul did not know about American consideration of a preemptive strike against Yongbyon, but it is clear from the record of the Principals Committee meetings that Washington would never have authorized an attack without prior consultation with Seoul. That consultation never became necessary after the June breakthrough that returned the nuclear issue to the negotiating table.
In important respects, the challenge of maintaining U.S.-South Korean solidarity is more difficult today than it was a decade ago. Then the majority of South Koreans, and their government, had personal memories of the Korean War and its aftermath as well as serious doubts about Pyongyang's intentions. Now a younger generation has taken the reins of power, after years of a Sunshine Policy that has left many South Koreans feeling greater sympathy toward their brethren in the North and greater concern that their peace is more likely to be disturbed by Americans than North Koreans. For Americans, the deference once accorded to Seoul as facing the more imminent threat from the North has since September 11 been displaced by its own sense of vulnerability to the export of nuclear technology to adversaries and, to some, the prospect of North Korean ballistic missiles ranging the continental United States.
Lesson 6. Take full advantage of China's continuing sway over North Korea. As the driving force behind the six-party talks in 2003, China assumed a much higher profile as a diplomatic player on the world stage. Its importance in addressing the North Korean nuclear crisis was already apparent in 1994. The first crisis broke during China's transition from unalloyed dedication to its alliance with Pyongyang to a more evenhanded relationship between the two Koreas. That timing left China more open to work cooperatively with Seoul, while giving Pyongyang greater reason to fear abandonment by its prime benefactor. Beijing understood both its own leverage as well as the grave consequences of a North Korean nuclear program and repeatedly, but quietly, nudged Pyongyang toward compliance with its nonproliferation commitments. Beijing's most important effort unfolded in the spring of 1994, when it tried its hand at mediation after North Korea's unloading of the fuel rods from the 5-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon and appeared to signal that Pyongyang could not count on China blocking the imposition of UN sanctions against North Korea.
Although Chinese officials have traditionally sought to downplay their influence in Pyongyang, they clearly retain greater leverage over the Kim Jong Il regime than any other player. Fortunately, China and the United States agree on two key objectives: (1) the Korean Peninsula should remain stable and secure, and (2) it should be free of nuclear weapons.
But this convergence of views between Washington and Beijing has limits. Specifically, China has a strong interest in avoiding political disruption in North Korea, which argues in favor of seeking a negotiated solution to the nuclear challenge and against taking steps that could induce regime change in North Korea. By 2003, however, some U.S. officials had apparently concluded that the North Koreans were inveterate cheaters with whom no agreement could be reached that would protect American interests. Under this view, agreements should therefore be eschewed in favor of the only practical way to head off North Korean possession of a growing nuclear weapon stockpile: regime change. Whether this would occur by force or by inducing a social collapse through encouraging massive refugee flows out of the North, the bottom line is that pursuit of this objective would drive a wedge between China and the United States.
Lesson 7. Negotiated arrangements can advance U.S. interests even if the other party engages in cheating. Of course, it is possible to construct a deal that would leave the United States in a worse position if the other side cheated. An example would be an agreement that left the other side well positioned to break out of a treaty in a manner that would put the United States at an instant military disadvantage. Nazi Germany's rearmament in violation of the Versailles Treaty, combined with Europe's failure to respond, comes to mind. But it is also possible to construct a treaty that leaves the United States better off every day that the other party is compliant, and not significantly disadvantaged if the other party cheats.
U.S. negotiators will always need to make hard choices. It would be desirable if any new deal includes comprehensive limits on North Korea's nuclear program, extending beyond known plutonium production facilities to encompass not only uranium-enrichment activities but also any nuclear weapons Pyongyang may have already built or obtained, as well as its research and development efforts. Such a commitment would be impossible to verify with confidence, even with "anytime, anywhere" inspections in North Korea. It is just too easy to cheat.
Should U.S. negotiators pass up stronger commitments if they cannot be confidently verified? What if a new deal imposes greater restrictions on Pyongyang with more extensive inspections than the 1994 accord but still leaves uncertainties? Would such a deal serve U.S. interests? Similar questions confronted the United States in 1994, when the president had to decide whether to seek more immediate limits on North Korea's threatening plutonium production program in lieu of immediate special inspections.
One way to try to avoid falling into a situation in which the president faces only extreme options is to set "red lines" for North Korea. Initially, the Bush administration seemed leery to do that on the assumption that "if you draw it, they will cross it." There is always a danger that Pyongyang will cross these lines, either deliberately or through miscalculation. In the spring of 1994, North Korea did cross a red line by unloading the 5-megawatt reactor and destroying important historical information contained in the spent fuel rods, triggering the march toward confrontation. But one month later, Pyongyang did not expel the IAEA inspectors monitoring the Yongbyon facility, perhaps in part because of Jimmy Carter's trip but also because it knew that could trigger an American preemptive attack. In short, picking a clear boundary for acceptable behavior can prove a successful deterrent, but only if it is backed by the credible threat of force. The United States should not be bluffing, and it must be clear that it is not.
For four decades, the greatest threat of nuclear conflict emerged from the superpower rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. The fall of the Berlin Wall set events in train that ended with the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The first major nuclear proliferation threat--of seeing four nuclear-weapon states emerge full-blown at the end of the Cold War--was averted when U.S. negotiators persuaded the newly formed nations of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus to relinquish all of their nuclear weapons to Russia. The second threat--that Russia would become a source of nuclear weapons proliferation from the diversion of weapon scientists and fissile materials to hostile forces--spawned a series of U.S. initiatives under the seminal Nunn-Lugar legislation aimed at promoting the safe and secure dismantlement of the former Soviet nuclear arsenal.
North Korea posed the third great nuclear threat. Addressing that threat as a matter of national urgency led to the concerted effort described in these pages. The urgency was dictated not only by the dire consequences that unbounded North Korean plutonium production could have produced but also by the impending review and extension conference for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT], the cornerstone of global efforts to combat the spread of nuclear weapons. Had the United States failed to contain the North Korean threat in time, it would have torn a hole in the regime just at the moment when the nations of the world were gathering in New York to decide whether to extend the treaty indefinitely, or to let it lapse.
The Agreed Framework permitted the NPT conference to proceed with a North Korea that had reaffirmed its commitment to the treaty, accepted IAEA monitoring to ensure the continuation of the nuclear freeze, and promised ultimate North Korean acceptance of inspections to clarify remaining questions about its past nuclear activities. The accord earned the support of the IAEA, and the NPT was successfully extended indefinitely and without condition, by consensus, in May 1995.35
The response of the United States to the North Korean nuclear challenge was pragmatic, guided by the overarching objective to stop Pyongyang's access to more separated plutonium. It was principled, gaining support of the world community through the UN Security Council, the IAEA, and other forums to support U.S. efforts to persuade Pyongyang to curtail and accept international limits on its nuclear activities. It was complex, involving constant scrutiny of U.S. interests and the effects of shifting events, continual consultations with friends and allies, and a difficult and protracted negotiation with the North Koreans.
Above all, the U.S. response was guided by a determination to prevent the nightmare of nuclear destruction threatened by the North Korean program. The U.S. officials involved in negotiating the Agreed Framework shared a fundamental commitment to advancing the nation's security. None would have advocated support for any accord that did not meet a simple test: would Americans be safer with the Agreed Framework than without it? As public servants, a decade ago we answered that question in favor of the Agreed Framework. As authors today, we reach the same conclusion.
That the same question--will Americans be safer or not?--should guide the evaluation of any proposed U.S. response to the renewed nuclear threat in Korea. If grounded in a policy that forces North Korea to choose between a path of compliance with--or defiance of--the global norm against nuclear weapons proliferation, that question can bring the world to a safer future. North Korea will only be forced to make that choice if the path of defiance inexorably brings pressure that threatens the continued viability of the Kim Jong Il regime, while the path of compliance offers the regime the security assurances and improved relations with the international community that it seeks. We wish those entrusted with our national security well as they make the fateful choices that will shape the outcome of the current crisis. The stakes could not be higher.

Joel S. Wit, a senior fellow in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, served as the State Department coordinator for the 1994 U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework. Daniel Poneman, a principal at the Scowcroft Group, was a member of the National Security Council from 1990-1996, including three years (1993-1996) as senior director for Nonproliferation and Export Controls. Robert Gallucci, currently dean of Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, was the lead U.S. negotiator with North Korea in 1993 and 1994. From 1998-2001, Ambassador Gallucci held the position of special envoy to deal with the threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

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U.S. Mulled Nuclear Strikes On NK Army in 1978
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Nautilus Institute in California reported Friday that in March 1978, during the Carter administration, the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA), an affiliated organization of the U.S. National Defense Ministry, was examining how to use tactical nuclear weapons to coerce North Korea on the battlefield.
The institute announced a study by Science Applications Inc. concluding that the use of tactical nuclear weapons would be most effective against DPRK armored units attacking south of the DMZ.

The study suggested that at least 30 airburst nuclear weapons would be used in an area only nine miles from Seoul and some 15 miles south of the DMZ. The Nautilus Institute indicated that around the time the DNA was looking into the use of tactical nuclear weapons, the Carter administration was struggling with its withdrawal policy for U.S. forces in Korea.

(Joo Yong-jung, )

Closing Pandora's Box: Pakistan's Role in Nuclear Proliferation

Sharon Squassoni

On February 4, 2004, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, self-styled father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb, appeared on Pakistani television to apologize to his nation. Revealing few details, Khan stated that a government investigation, which followed "disturbing disclosures and evidence by some countries to international agencies" (read "Iran and Libya to the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA]"), confirmed "alleged proliferation activities by certain Pakistanis and foreigners over the last two decades." Khan admitted the allegations were true and said "there was never ever any kind of authorization for these activities by any government official." Pakistani officials a few days earlier claimed that Khan provided technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea.[1]

On February 5, Khan was pardoned by Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, with no mention of confiscating the millions of dollars he had acquired in more than 20 years of nuclear moonlighting. When asked about Khan's pardon, U.S. Department of State spokesperson Richard Boucher replied, "I don't think it's a matter for the United States to sit in judgment on."

In fact, it is critically important for the United States to judge whether Pakistan has adequately addressed Khan's proliferation behavior. The administration's failure to do so may be symptomatic of a deeper problem in its nonproliferation strategy. By focusing on "hostile states and terrorists"[2] as the main proliferation threat, the Bush strategy ignores friendly countries, such as Pakistan, that host terrorists, place insufficient controls on weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and are threatened with political destabilization. Ironically, the threat of terrorist access to weapons of mass destruction is probably greater in Pakistan than in Iraq, Libya, North Korea, or Iran--all targets of Bush counterproliferation policy. Even more, Pakistan has remained locked in a nuclear confrontation with India, which has several times escalated to the point of all-out war.

The Khan case illustrates a practical reality: separating "good guys" and "bad guys" in this fashion will not work over the long term. The reason is the phenomenon of secondary proliferation. Whereas 20 years ago we worried about single states acquiring the bomb, Khan has raised the stakes. Although some may argue that Khan acted independently and that his role is unlikely ever to be replicated, Pakistan's continuing struggle with Islamic fundamentalism makes the prospect of rogue nuclear-weapon scientists even more problematic than government-directed proliferation. If Khan is not unique, how effective is the Bush administration's targeted counterproliferation policy? Can tweaking supplier controls, as President George W. Bush recently suggested, stop this kind of proliferation? What practical routes are left for slowing nuclear proliferation?

Is Khan's Role Unique?

The press has focused on the sexier aspects of Khan's story: money launderers in Dubai, Swiss and British intermediaries, plants in Kuala Lumpur, and shipments intercepted in Mediterranean ports. Yet, nuclear proliferation is no stranger to intrigue, spies, and foreign travel. What may be most shocking about the unfolding tale of Khan's nuclear weapons marketing is how utterly familiar it sounds. To be sure, leaks of high technology used to emanate mostly from North America, Europe, and Russia.[3] Sources now have expanded to Asia and Eurasia, despite attempts to strengthen supplier controls and nuclear safeguards in the wake of Iraq's embarrassing nuclear shopping spree before the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

If the modes of covert nuclear commerce appear to have changed little, what is particularly egregious about the Khan case? One answer may lie in Khan and his associates' apparent ability to provide "one-stop shopping."[4] Khan sold blueprints; components; full centrifuge assemblies; uranium hexafluoride feedstock; and, from some accounts, a nuclear-weapon design.[5] If he had desired, Khan also could have provided some missile technology because Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) developed missiles in collaboration with North Korea.[6] Was Khan able to provide this one-stop shopping because of his unique position within the Pakistani nuclear weapons program and heroic popular image or because the Pakistani government helped?

Khan's assistance to Iran in centrifuge uranium-enrichment apparently began in the late 1980s and continued at least until the mid-1990s.[7] Assistance to Libya began in the early 1990s and may have continued into 2002. Beyond blueprints, components, full assemblies of centrifuges, and low-enriched uranium, Libya also received--startlingly--a nuclear weapons design.[8] In both cases, it is clear that Khan provided technology for an advanced centrifuge design (the P-2).[9] There is no confirmation that the nuclear-weapon design Libya received in 2001 or 2002 is from Pakistan, but some sources have reported that the design contained Chinese text and step-by-step instructions for assembling a vintage 1960s, highly enriched uranium (HEU) implosion device, which could indicate that Khan passed on a design that Pakistan is long rumored to have received from China.[10]

Whether Khan gave North Korea nuclear-weapon-related technology or equipment is still disputed. U.S. officials and sources close to Khan have said he did; the Pakistani and North Korean governments have denied any technology transfers.[11] One popular theory is that Pakistan bartered uranium-enrichment technology for missile technology from North Korea, but Musharraf has stated that "whatever we bought from North Korea is with money."[12] A Pakistani official involved in Khan's investigation reportedly said North Korea ordered P-1 centrifuge components from 1997 to 2000.[13] Separately, other evidence points to Pakistani nuclear assistance. As far back as 1991, a German intelligence investigation concluded that Iraq, and possibly Iran and North Korea, obtained uranium-melting information from Pakistan in the late 1980s.[14]

Investigating Khan

The Pakistani government began to investigate allegations of nuclear transfers in 2000.[15] The Inter Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) raided a plane chartered by Khan bound for North Korea but found nothing. Further, although Musharraf admitted that he "forcibly retired" Khan from the KRL in 2001 to prevent him from transferring more nuclear secrets, Khan ultimately was undone not by his government, but by his clients. Forced to prove to the IAEA that it had not enriched uranium to HEU levels, Iran revealed the existence of foreign suppliers in October 2003. Iran had held back information on the procurement network for months. Apparently, Khan had written letters to Iranian clients, urging them to destroy some of their facilities and tell the IAEA that their Pakistani contacts were dead.[16] Libya's decision to give up its WMD programs voluntarily, however, unleashed a torrent of information about Pakistani assistance, forcing the Pakistani government to conduct a two-month investigation.

The Pakistani government has been slow to admit that there were nuclear transfers and quick to deny any official complicity. Initially, official Pakistani responses ranged from "our nuclear weapons are secure" to "there is no smoking gun."[17] In December 2003, the Foreign Ministry spokesman claimed that Pakistan never authorized transfers but that individuals may have been involved in transfers to Iran. On January 6, 2004, when asked about transfers to Libya, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said "This is total madness." An interview in February 2004 with Musharraf noted that Pakistan's investigation had not uncovered evidence of transfers to countries other than Iran and Libya."[18]

The structure of the nuclear establishment in Pakistan and the key role of the military, as well as long-standing ties between Pakistan and all three countries, raise doubts that Khan acted completely without government knowledge. Pakistan's military is widely believed to control the Pakistani nuclear weapons program. Musharraf has taken pains to clarify that Pakistan established civilian control of the nuclear weapons program (embodied in himself) under the National Command Authority, but until Musharraf steps down as army chief of staff, this distinction may be irrelevant. Moreover, a key feature of Pakistan's export control regulations allows for an explicit exemption for Ministry of Defense agencies, which suggests that weapons programs under military leadership could skirt domestic export control laws.[19]

Khan has alleged that military officials, including former Chiefs of Army Staff (COAS), knew of the transfers. One account claims that equipment to Iran was transferred at the request of the late General Imtiaz Ali between 1988 and 1990.[20] Another states that Musharraf was aware of aid to North Korea, that General Mirzla Aslam Beg knew about aid to Iran, and that two other COAS (Generals Jehangir Karamat and Abdul Waheed) knew of aid to North Korea.[21] General Beg long has had a reputation for being an Islamist and an admirer of the Iranian revolution. Beg officially denied knowledge of aid to Iran, although former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto said she was approached several times from 1988 to 1990 (the period when Beg was COAS) by military officials and scientists who wanted to export nuclear technology. According to Bhutto, "it certainly was their (scientists') belief that they could earn tons of money if they did this." But Bhutto had established a policy in December 1988 not to export nuclear technology.[22] Bhutto also said that "no Pakistani thought Mr. Khan was acting alone."[23]

Reports of extensive official cooperation between Pakistan and the three countries lend credence to claims that Pakistan's government might have known of transfers. Pakistan reportedly signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with Iran in 1986, although the terms of that agreement are unknown, and Iranian scientists received training in Pakistan in 1988. Libyan funding of the Pakistani nuclear weapons program in the early years long has been alleged.[24] Pakistan's well-documented missile cooperation with North Korea beginning in the early 1990s may have provided either a convenient excuse for rogue nuclear scientists to ply their trade or sparked the plan for a barter arrangement as Pakistani foreign currency reserves fell dangerously low in 1996.[25]

Khan reportedly made more than $100 million from selling nuclear technology to Libya alone.[26] Musharraf has stressed the role of greed, but Khan reportedly told investigators he hoped to deflect attention from Pakistan's nuclear program and support other Muslim countries (i.e., Iran and Libya) by providing nuclear assistance.[27] In the late 1980s, when cooperation with Iran allegedly began, the argument for deflecting attention from Pakistan could have been plausible, particularly as pressure from the United States grew with each new revelation of Pakistan's nuclear progress.

U.S. Policy Toward Pakistan

For 30 years, the U.S. government has tried to restrain Pakistan from acquiring nuclear weapons using such tools as diplomacy, aid, and interdiction. When those failed, sanctions were developed specifically against Pakistan to slow its nuclear program (see sidebar). U.S. policy implementation, however, has been inconsistent, particularly when other U.S. national security interests at times have taken precedence. Less than six months after cutting off aid in 1979 to Pakistan for its uranium-enrichment activities, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and negotiations to resume aid to Islamabad began. In 1990, after the Soviets pulled out, President George H.W. Bush determined he could not certify that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear device, and so aid was cut off again, this time for several years. In 1998, aid was cut off following Pakistan's nuclear tests, but this lasted less than a year. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress passed legislation allowing Pakistan to circumvent the remaining restrictions on aid (related then to its foreign debt arrears and 1999 military coup).

Over time, the U.S. threshold of proliferation tolerance has risen from Pakistan's acquisition of technology to its possession of a nuclear device and then to nuclear testing (in 1998). Has the threshold now risen to the point where the United States is seeking to sidestep laws aimed at penalizing states that supply nuclear technologies, rather than those that receive such aid? This could explain why the United States has not strenuously pursued the question of potential Pakistani government cooperation in Khan's activities. The State Department concluded in a letter to key members of Congress on March 12, 2003, that "the administration carefully reviewed the facts relating to the possible transfer of nuclear technology from Pakistan to North Korea, and decided that they do not warrant the imposition of sanctions under applicable U.S. laws." Given administration statements alleging such nuclear transfers, the United States appears to have accepted Islamabad's explanation that it had no role.

Pinning the blame on individuals is a time-tested and obvious circumvention (? la the 1996 provision of Chinese ring magnets to Pakistan, which was not deemed a sanctionable offense). Although individuals engaging in proliferation are barred under U.S. law from receiving U.S. government contracts, there are few other ways for the United States to punish them. Nonetheless, a determination that Libya and Iran received such equipment, even from an individual, might not relieve Bush of an obligation to make a determination and then perhaps waive sanctions. In particular, receiving a nuclear weapons design is a trigger for cutting off aid under Section 102 of the Arms Export Control Act. In the case of both Libya and Iran, new sanctions would add little to the broader burden already imposed on them by virtue of their status as a state sponsors of terrorism. With respect to Pakistan, draft Senate authorizing legislation on the foreign affairs budget (S. 2144) currently contains a waiver of sanctions (including those for proliferation) previously in force.

The line in the sand appears to be drawn now at the transfer of nuclear weapons technology to terrorists. Unfortunately, such activities are incredibly difficult to deter, detect, identify, and stop. The 2002 U.S. National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction identifies this problem as "one of the most difficult challenges we face." Whether the threat of terrorists acquiring and using nuclear weapons is greater now than before is unclear, but the ability to influence terrorists in this regard, in contrast to states, remains extremely limited.

U.S. officials have intimated they knew about Khan's network for several years, and the U.S. government seems to have been quietly working with the Pakistani government to limit the damage from Khan's nuclear network.[28] Shortly after Khan's dismissal in 2001, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage reportedly stated that "people who were employed by the nuclear agency and have retired" could be spreading nuclear technology to other states, including North Korea.[29] Nonetheless, after U.S. intelligence officials leaked the news in 2002 that Pakistani enrichment technology was transferred to North Korea, Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed that "President Musharraf gave me his assurance, as he has previously, that Pakistan is not doing anything of that nature....The past is the past."[30] But Powell put Musharraf on notice: "I have made clear to him that any, any sort of contact between Pakistan and North Korea we believe would be improper, inappropriate, and would have consequences."[31]

Clearly, another key factor here is the priority of counterterrorism over counterproliferation policy in the Bush administration. In 2002, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked whether countries that provided assistance to North Korea on the enrichment program would risk being cut off from U.S. assistance and he responded that "September 11th changed the world." Two months later, the United States decided to impose sanctions on North Korea for sending Scud missiles to Yemen, yet waived sanctions against Yemen for receiving them. The reason: According to State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, "because of the commitments that they [Yemen] had made and in consideration of their support for the war on terrorism."

Missiles to Yemen may be one thing, but tacitly condoning past nuclear weapons cooperation with three state sponsors of terrorism is counterproductive. Secretary of State Powell's announcement on March 18th that Pakistan would be designated a "major non-NATO ally," a step that facilitates military cooperation and assistance, reinforces the impression that for the Bush administration, counterterrorism trumps counterproliferation cooperation.

Next Steps

There is no telling how much information Khan's 12-page confession contains, whether it is accurate or complete, or how much will be revealed either to the IAEA or other states. So far, Musharraf has denied the need for an international investigation or any international inspections of Pakistani nuclear facilities.[32] He has said he will share some information with the IAEA, and U.S. officials apparently are content with that approach.[33]

The main U.S. response so far has been to focus on closing down Khan's covert nuclear network. On February 11, 2004, Bush unveiled new efforts aimed partly to accomplish this.[34] Briefly, Bush proposes to expand interdiction efforts (under the Proliferation Security Initiative) to "shut down labs, to seize their materials, to freeze their assets;" criminalize proliferation through a new U.S.-sponsored UN Security Council resolution; expand cooperative threat reduction measures to states such as Libya; ban enrichment and reprocessing capabilities beyond those states that already have them; make the Additional Protocol (to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT]) a prerequisite for nuclear-related imports; and create a special committee at the IAEA to investigate compliance.

Strengthening export controls is laudable and necessary, but these measures, even taken together, are unlikely to prevent another Khan affair. Above all, supplier controls rely on the fundamental premise that slowing the leakage of technology (which itself is inevitable) buys time for the world community to persuade states not to acquire nuclear weapons. This premise is undone by the emergence of a supplier who can supply it all. In one sense, Khan's success is the natural result of a well-known NPT loophole: states outside the treaty that have acquired nuclear weapons. Pakistan, India, Israel, and possibly North Korea are likely to remain outside the NPT and therefore are not bound by the treaty's prohibitions on sharing nuclear weapons technology.

Despite this, the United States and other supplier countries have their own means to impose penalties for actions that undermine the NPT (see sidebar), as well as ample carrots to offer Pakistan. The Bush administration has proposed a $3 billion aid package to Pakistan over the next five years. At a minimum, the United States should condition this aid on requiring Pakistan to give the United States full access to Khan, as well as to improve transparency, export controls, and personnel reliability in its nuclear program.


By treating Libya, the "axis of evil" countries, and Pakistan as separate and distinct problems, the United States is missing an opportunity to develop a common and consistent nuclear nonproliferation policy.

Events in Iraq, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, and North Korea all point to the lesson that nothing can substitute for on-site inspection of suspicious activities. Inspections in Iraq failed to come up with evidence of a reconstituted nuclear program, whether conducted by the IAEA and the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) or the Iraq Survey Group. Inspections in Iran have slowly revealed capabilities Iran had been loathe to admit and which were not revealed by overhead imagery alone. Inspections in Libya surprised some with revelations of centrifuge and weapons design procurement but basically confirmed long-held views that Libya's nuclear weapons program did not amount to much. Finally, the lack of inspections in North Korea has left the United States guessing about North Korean enrichment capabilities.

Although Pakistan has rejected the NPT and any kind of international inspections into Khan's activities, there may be ways of introducing more transparency into its nuclear program. Serious discussions with Pakistan on export control only began in 2003 and the Bush administration has asked for just $1 million in the FY05 State Department budget for export control assistance, a tiny fraction of the $700 million in assistance to Pakistan for next year. U.S. export control assistance should be expanded, with a particular focus on eliminating exemptions for Pakistani defense agencies and assisting Pakistan to adhere to Nuclear Suppliers' Group guidelines. The United States could also offer specific assistance in physical protection of nuclear material and personnel security under the auspices of a cooperative threat reduction program. Nonetheless, even if Pakistan accepted this offer, this may not produce adequate transparency. [35]

Ultimately, it would be far better to get international inspections at Pakistani facilities and to draw Pakistan into a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT). U.S. policy has supported such a treaty since 1993, but little diplomatic capital has been expended on it. Pakistan has said it will support an FMCT. At a minimum, a cutoff agreement would place all enrichment and reprocessing worldwide (given universal adherence) under inspection. In this way, it would require inspections at facilities that have operated covertly for many years, opening them up to international scrutiny and making it more difficult for covert supplier networks to flourish. A treaty also could go further and close down unneeded production capacity or incorporate international management or control of fissile material.

Finally, although Pakistan's current importance to the war on terrorism makes U.S. sanctions unlikely, the United States needs to make clear that there will be severe consequences for further transgressions, regardless of the counterterrorism issue. U.S. policymakers also need to reevaluate their tepid support for multilateral nonproliferation approaches. If anything, the globalization of the black nuclear market should provide a warning that one country cannot halt this problem alone.

Retracing Khan's Path

Abdul Qadeer Khan's unlikely route to nuclear stardom began in 1972. As a trained metallurgist subcontracted to the fledgling URENCO consortium, he was asked to translate classified documents on centrifuge technology from their original German into Dutch. Khan's access, as well as overt Pakistani procurement attempts, began to attract notice from Dutch authorities in late 1975. Transferred to a less sensitive position, Khan fled Holland for his native Pakistan in December 1975. His intimate knowledge of suppliers and a weak international export control regime allowed him to build a centrifuge enrichment plant at Sihala in just a few years.[1] The construction and operation of the Kahuta enrichment facility, known then as the Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL), followed. Khan's hard work was rewarded in 1981 when President Muhammed Zia ul-Haq renamed the ERL as the Khan Research Laboratory (KRL).[2] According to some reports, a competition was encouraged between the KRL and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) to develop two routes to the bomb--HEU and plutonium. Khan himself has described his activities as supporting the PAEC's reactor development program, enriching uranium to use as fuel in the Chasma nuclear reactor.

By many accounts, the KRL and Khan were given remarkable autonomy. This independence only grew after the uranium-enrichment program, once thought of as a fallback in case the French reprocessing plant at Chasma fell through (which it did in 1978 under strong U.S. pressure), became the cornerstone of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.[3] One aide close to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf stated, "Khan had a complete blank check. He could do anything. He could go anywhere. He could buy anything at any price."[4] Musharraf himself has noted that "there was a covert program for maybe 30 years, and there was a lot of autonomy given to the organization and individuals running the program. There was a lot of chance for leakages."[5]

A critical question is why the Pakistani government permitted this autonomy. Politics likely played a key role. After taking power in 1999, Musharraf began to receive reports of corruption (skimming government contracts and nepotism) at Kahuta.[6] Khan's lavish lifestyle, despite his modest salary, was "the worst-kept secret in town," said one Pakistani official.[7] Still, Musharraf did not remove him as KRL head until 2001, allegedly under considerable pressure from the United States. Even then, he was appointed special adviser to Musharraf. After Khan's confession, Musharraf called him a personal hero and a hero to the nation.[8] Musharraf declared that, "since [Khan] had acquired a larger-than-life figure for himself, one had to pardon him to satisfy the public."[9]

Khan further cemented his importance to the entire nuclear weapons program through KRL development of missiles in the 1980s. Reportedly, a competition was encouraged between the plutonium team (PAEC), working toward Chinese-derived nuclear-capable missiles, and the HEU team (KRL), collaborating with North Korea on a Scud derivative.[10] Khan's frequent trips abroad for "legitimate" missile cooperation with North Korea might have provided cover for his nuclear deals.

The nuclear program prior to 1998, according to Pakistani officials, was handled by just a few people at the top.[11] Despite Pakistan's claims to have tightened controls by creating the National Command Authority (NCA) in February 2000, high-level officials still seem to be exempt. Reportedly, key people in the Pakistani nuclear weapons program are screened every two years (since 2000) by the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI), Military Intelligence, the Intelligence Bureau, and the Strategic Plan Division of the NCA. However, "top-level people (including scientists) are controlled by their organizations and not psychologically screened."[12] Musharraf has suggested in interviews that it is virtually impossible to stop security breaches by institution leaders. Referring to himself, he stated, "If there was a security problem here and if I myself am involved in the breach, do you think anyone is going to check me?"[13] This analogy might reflect the unique status of Khan, a fundamental flaw in Pakistani nuclear security procedures, or both. Moreover, it is yet to be established that some or all of these exchanges were not matters of national policy.


1. For an excellent account, see Steve Weissman and Herbert Krosney, The Islamic Bomb (New York: Times Books, 1981).

2. Simon Henderson, "We Can Do It Ourselves," Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (September 1993), p. 27.

3. The KRL began to produce enriched uranium in 1984 and, by some estimates, HEU by 1986, whereas plutonium for weapons did not become available until after the 1998 nuclear tests. See Leonard Spector, The Undeclared Bomb (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment, 1988), p. 143.

4. "A Tale of Nuclear Proliferation: How Pakistani Built His Network," The New York Times, February 12, 2004.

5. "Q&A: Pervez Musharraf; Confronting the Nuclear Underworld," The Washington Post, January 25, 2004.

6. "Delicate Dance for Musharraf in Nuclear Case," The New York Times, February 8, 2004.

7. "Musharraf Named in Nuclear Probe," The Washington Post, February 3, 2004.

8. "General Defiant in Face of Scandal Over Scientist's Nuclear Secrets," Financial Times, February 18, 2004.

9. "Pakistani Leader Suspected Moves by Atomic Expert," The New York Times, February 10, 2004.

10. Simon Henderson, "Pakistan's Nuclear Proliferation and U.S. Policy," PolicyWatch, no. 826, January 12, 2004.

11. See report from a visit to Pakistan by Paolo Cotta-Ramusino and Maurizio Martellini in 2001, "Nuclear safety, nuclear stability and nuclear strategy in Pakistan: A concise report of a visit by Landau Network-Centro Volta."

12. Ibid.

13. General Defiant in Face of Scandal Over Scientist's Nuclear Secrets," Financial Times, February 18, 2004.

Retracing Khan's Path

During the past three decades, the United States has imposed and lifted sanctions on Pakistan many times. The changes have reflected modifications in U.S. foreign policy priorities as much as shifts in Pakistan's nonproliferation behavior.

1976 Congress amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA) to bar aid to countries that transfer uranium-enrichment or reprocessing equipment, materials, or technology in violation of specified conditions (Symington amendment, Sec. 669, FAA).

1977 Congress amends FAA to bar aid for countries that detonate a nuclear explosive (Glenn amendment, Sec. 670, FAA, which also covers reprocessing transfers). Aid suspended in September

1977 because Pakistan is found to be seeking reprocessing technology from French companies.

1978 Aid resumed in October 1978 after France cancels reprocessing deal.

1979 Aid cut off in April 1979 because of Pakistan's enrichment activities (Symington invoked).

1980 Negotiations to resume aid begin after Soviets invade Afghanistan.

1981 Aid resumed (Symington waived by Congress (Sec. 620E, FAA) of Sec. 669) for Pakistan but restrictions added for transfers of nuclear weapons and design information.

1985 Solarz amendment (amends Sec. 670, FAA) bars aid for illegal export from the United States of any material, equipment, or technology that would contribute significantly to the ability of a country to build a nuclear explosive device. Pressler amendment (Sec. 620E(e), FAA) prohibits the transfer of military equipment or technology to Pakistan specifically unless the president certifies to the Congress that Pakistan does not possess a nuclear explosive device and that the proposed U.S. aid program would reduce significantly the risk that Pakistan will possess such a device.

1987 Symington waiver expires; renewed for 30 months.

1990 Aid suspended under Pressler amendment. Symington waiver expires.

1995 Brown amendment relaxes cut-off so that only military aid and transfers barred.

1998 May: aid suspended after nuclear tests. July: Congress provides waiver for wheat purchases. Aid resumes for one year, except military assistance, dual-use exports, and military sales (India-Pakistan Relief Act of 1998 (Brownback I).

1999 Aid resumes permanently (Brownback II gives president permanent waiver authority for proliferation sanctions). However, foreign debt arrears and military coup bar aid to Pakistan.

2001 Presidential executive order lifts remaining restrictions.


1. David Rohde and David E. Sanger, "Key Pakistani Is Said to Admit Atom Transfers," The New York Times, February 2, 2004.

2. National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction (December 2002), p. 1.

3. A 1982 Senate Foreign Relations Committee report, Analysis of Six Issues About Nuclear Capabilities of India, Iraq, Libya, and Pakistan, concluded that from 1978 to 1981 India acquired technology from France, the United States, and the United Kingdom; Iraq from Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, Niger, Norway, Portugal and Russia; Libya from Argentina, Finland, India, Niger, the United States, and Russia; and Pakistan from Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Russia. By the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland were also found to have supplied Iraq with nuclear technologies. See "Who Armed Iraq?" The New York Times, July 18, 1993.

4. Pakistan's investigation also included Mohammed Farooq, who supervised the KRL's contacts with foreign suppliers; Yasin Chohan, a KRL metallurgist; Major Islam ul-Haq, a personal staff officer; Nazeer Ahmed, a KRL director; and Saeed Ahmed, head of centrifuge design. Between 11 and 25 KRL employees were questioned, as well as the generals in charge of KRL security, Generals Beg and Karamat. Simon Henderson, "Link Leaks," National Review Online, January 19, 2004.

5. See Karen Yourish and Delano D'Souza, "Father of Pakistani Bomb Sold Nuclear Secrets," Arms Control Today, March 2004, p. 22.

6. In fact, U.S. sanctions were imposed in early 2003 on the KRL for receiving MTCR Category I missiles from North Korea.

7. Iran told the IAEA its centrifuge enrichment program began in 1987; Lieutenant General Khalid Kidwai, who briefed journalists on February 1, 2004, on Khan's confession, reportedly stated that cooperation began in 1989 and Khan transferred technology from 1989 to 1991. "Key Pakistani Is Said to Admit Atom Transfers," The New York Times, February 2, 2004. An IAEA report states that Iran received P-2 drawings from "foreign sources" in 1994. IAEA, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran," GOV/2004/11, February 24, 2004, p. 8 (hereinafter GOV/2004/11 report).

8. An IAEA report states that in 1997 foreign manufacturers provided 20 pre-assembled L-1 (equivalent to P-1) centrifuges and components for an additional 200 L-1 centrifuges, including process gas feeding and withdrawal systems, UF6 cylinders, and frequency converters. IAEA, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya," GOV/2004/12, February 20, 2004 (hereinafter GOV/2004/12 report).

9. Libya received two of the P-2-type centrifuges in 2000 and placed an order for 10,000 more. Iran has claimed that it received P-2 plans, but no centrifuge components, and tried to develop a carbon-composite rotor on its own, with no success. GOV/2004/11 report and GOV/2004/12 report.

10. William J. Broad and David E. Sanger, "Warhead Blueprints Link Libya Project to Pakistan Figure," The New York Times, February 4, 2004; Joby Warrick and Peter Slevin, "Libyan Arms Designs Traced Back to China," The Washington Post, February 15, 2004.

11. Asked by Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) what the United States knows about Pakistan's involvement in helping North Korea, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage replied that "[w]e know it's both ways and we know a good bit about a North Korean-Pakistan relationship." Richard Armitage, testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, February 4, 2003.

12. Farhan Bokhari, Steven Fidler, and Edward Luce, "Pakistan Rejects Nuclear Inspection," Financial Times, February 18, 2004. For additional evidence related to a barter arrangement, see Sharon Squassoni, "Weapons of Mass Destruction: Trade Between North Korea and Pakistan," CRS Report for Congress, RL 31900, March 11, 2004.

13. Mubashir Zaidi, "Scientist Claimed Nuclear Equipment Was Old, Official Says," The Los Angeles Times, February 10, 2004.

14. Mark Hibbs, "Agencies Trace Some Iraqi URENCO Know-How to Pakistan Re-Export," Nucleonics Week, November 28, 1991, pp. 1, 7-8. See also Mark Hibbs, "CIA Assessment on DPRK Presumes Massive Outside Help on Centrifuges," Nuclear Fuel, November 25, 2002.

15. "Pakistan Informed U.S. of `Personal' Nuclear Technology Transfer: Report," Agence France-Presse, December 25, 2003. According to this report, the United States asked the Pakistani government to look into alleged nuclear transfers to North Korea, and Pakistani officials concluded from the deposit of large sums of money in Kahuta scientists' bank accounts that nuclear technology had indeed been transferred on an individual basis.

16. Ibid.

17. Glenn Kessler, "Pakistan's N. Korea Deals Stir Scrutiny; Aid to Nuclear Arms Bid May Be Recent," The Washington Post, November 13, 2002. Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, reportedly stated that "[n]o material, no technology ever has been exported to North Korea "and "[n]obody can tell us if there is evidence, no one is challenging our word. There is no smoking gun."

18. Bokhari, Fidler, and Luce, "Pakistan Rejects Nuclear Inspection," Financial Times, February 18, 2004.

19. Anupam Srivastava and Seema Gahlaut, "Curbing Proliferation from Emerging Suppliers: Export Controls in India and Pakistan," Arms Control Today, September 2003, pp. 12-16.

20. "Nuke Leak May Cost Pak $3b," The Times of India Online, February 5, 2004.

21. John Lancaster and Kamran Khan, "Musharraf Named in Nuclear Probe," The Washington Post, February 3, 2004.

22. See David Rohde, "General Denies Letting Secrets of A-Bomb Out of Pakistan," The New York Times, January 27, 2004; Steven Fidler, "Bhutto `Rejected Request to Sell N-Technology,'" Financial Times, February 24, 2004.

23. On the other hand, Bhutto stated she did not think it probable that centrifuge parts were exported from Pakistan to Iran from 1994 to 1995 (while she was prime minister), despite revelations of exactly that in a Malaysian police report connected to the Iran investigation.

24. Steve Weissman and Herbert Krosney, The Islamic Bomb (New York: Times Books, 1981).

25. Daniel A. Pinkston, "When Did WMD Deals between Pyongyang and Islamabad Begin?"

26. David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, "Pakistani's Nuclear Earnings: $100 Million," The New York Times, March 16, 2004.

27. John Lancaster and Kamran Khan, "Musharraf Named in Nuclear Probe," The Washington Post, February 3, 2004.

28. CIA director George Tenet stated that U.S. intelligence had penetrated Khan's network, including its subsidiaries, scientists, front companies, agents, finances, and manufacturing plants, in a February 5, 2004, speech he gave at Georgetown University, available at

29. Steven Fidler and Edward Luce "U.S. Fears North Korea Could Gain Nuclear Capability through Pakistan," Financial Times, June 1, 2001.

30. Carla Anne Robbins, "North Korea Got a Little Help from Neighbors--Secret Nuclear Program Tapped Russian Suppliers and Pakistani Know-How," Wall Street Journal Europe, October 21, 2002; ABC's This Week, October 20, 2002 (transcript).

31. Ahmed Rashid, "US Grows Unhappier with Pakistan--Despite Official Friendship, Three Areas of Contention Are Straining the Alliance," The Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2002.

32. Bokhari, Fidler, and Luce, "Pakistan Rejects Nuclear Inspection," Financial Times, February 18, 2004.

33. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher stated in the daily press briefing on February 17, 2004, that "we look forward to hearing from the Pakistani government about the facts as they have developed them during the course of their investigation."

34. Available at See also Wade Boese, "Bush Outlines Proposals to Stem Proliferation," Arms Control Today, March 2004, pp. 24-25.

35. For specific impediments to providing cooperative threat reduction assistance to Pakistan and India, see Sharon Squassoni, "Nuclear Threat Reduction Measures for India and Pakistan," CRS Report for Congress, RL 31589.

Sharon Squassoni is a specialist in national defense issues with the Congressional Research Service. The views presented here are the author's own and do not reflect those of the Congressional Research Service or the Library of Congress.

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US prods UN for a nuclear export rule
Measure sought to halt the spread of weapons data
By Farah Stockman, Globe Staff, 4/4/2004

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is pressing for a UN resolution demanding that all countries pass strict laws on nuclear exports, according to a draft of the resolution being circulated to the Security Council.

The initiative is taking shape as US officials acknowledge that no members of an international nuclear-smuggling network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist, have been brought to justice. Some members, the officials said, are free to continue operating their businesses months after being exposed. In many cases, inadequate laws do not even make their activities illegal.

At least four of nine suspects identified as part of Khan's network had prior connections to illicit sales, but none are facing prosecution, according to interviews with authorities and information from documents around the world. Some details came from a Malaysian police report that identifies business executives who worked with Khan on Libya's nuclear weapons program.

Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear program, confessed in February to selling nuclear secrets to Libya, North Korea, and Iran. He was pardoned by Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf.

In Washington, US officials touting the proposed UN resolution say outdated domestic laws and lax attitudes toward proliferation in parts of Asia and Europe have frustrated efforts to bring Khan's network to justice.

They say the passage of the UN resolution would close a loophole in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which addresses the actions of states, not of individuals.

US officials began working on the resolution in September, as President Bush made a speech at the United Nations calling for stricter nuclear export laws. At the time, Khan's network was not publicly known, but it was known to the president and it bolstered his decision to push the resolution, according to a Washington-based administration official who said it was his office's policy to request that his name be withheld.

Another Washington-based US official, who also asked not to be identified, said the resolution was part of a push to persuade countries to tighten export laws in part because of what had been learned in the Khan case.

"There are a number of countries that recognize that laws that might have been appropriate a decade or two decades ago aren't going to work in the 21st century," the official said.

The resolution, which directs countries to pass domestic laws criminalizing the export and manufacture of nuclear components and other weapons of mass destruction, could have considerable teeth: The draft cites Chapter VII of the UN charter, which gives the power to invoke sanctions and the use of force to require countries to comply, although such measures are not stated explicitly.

Security Council diplomats said they expected the resolution to pass, perhaps with modifications that might weaken it.

Specialists said the move did not tackle the most abused loophole in the Non-Proliferation Treaty -- that countries are given access to nuclear technology if they promise to use it for peaceful purposes. But some said the resolution was unexpectedly sweeping.

"Strange as it may seem, there is no international prohibition today against having a group of terrorists move into a country and set up shop to make nuclear bombs, nor is there a prohibition against a group of entrepreneurs doing the same thing to make money," said Arthur Shulman, a research associate at the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control.

A look at the evidence against the businessmen who allegedly worked with Khan reflects the uphill battle that investigators face.

Buhary Seyed Abu Tahir, a Sri Lankan businessman whom Bush identified as Khan's "chief financial officer and money launderer" set up a factory in Malaysia to produce components for nuclear centrifuges to be shipped to Libya.

When US and British intelligence officials brought the case to the Malaysian special branch in November, Tahir was questioned by Malaysian police, who compiled an extensive report.

But police released him, concluding that his actions did not violate Malaysian law.

Malaysia is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which regulates the government's activities in the nuclear field. But the country's export laws do not regulate a private individual's manufacture of technology such as the nuclear centrifuge components that Tahir was selling, according to the report, which Malaysian authorities released.

Tahir, who became friends with Khan in the 1980s while selling air-conditioning parts to Khan's laboratory in Pakistan, had been suspected in 1999 for involvement in the sale of nuclear technology to Khan. He was never arrested.

Urs Tinner, a Swiss consultant, was also identified by the Malaysian police report, which indicates that Tinner allegedly set up the factory in Malaysia and outfitted it with imported machine tools. Tinner is being investigated by Swiss authorities for possible violations of a 1998 law that prevents Swiss citizens from aiding in the production of a nuclear weapon, according to Othmar Wyss, head of export control at the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

Tinner will not be prosecuted unless Swiss authorities can prove he knew what was being produced at the factory. He has denied knowing anything.

"It is very difficult for us to prove that he knew," Wyss said in a telephone interview.

Tinner was investigated in 1991 when valves he sent to Singapore were routed to Iraq, but Swiss authorities could not prove he knew their final destination, Wyss said.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal Europe, Tinner said he did not know that the factory he helped set up was meant to make centrifuge parts for Libya's nuclear weapons program. "I had no idea what was going on," he was quoted as saying. "If I had been working in the final production, where one could see the final product, then I would be guilty. But I didn't know what we were making."

Gotthard Lerch, a German man identified in the police report as having tried to supply pipes to the Libyan nuclear program, had served time for proliferation, according to an official at the German Embassy. It was unclear if Lerch's jail sentence was a result of the activities mentioned in the Malaysian report. No telephone number for Lerch could be found.

Two Turkish nationals who also allegedly supplied Libya's nuclear program are being scrutinized by investigators, but have not been arrested, according to Tolga Ucak, an attache at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkey.

Peter Griffin, a British businessman, allegedly supplied a furnace and a floor plan to Libya's nuclear weapons program, according to the police report. It said he was active as late as 2001, supplying a lathe machine and arranging for Libyan technicians to travel to Spain to learn how to use it.

Griffin, former owner of Gulf Technical Industries in Dubai, has not been arrested, according to a British official in Washington, D. C., who declined to comment further on his case. Attempts to reach him at the business were unsuccessful. Griffin's son, Paul, who took over the company, told the newspaper The Guardian, "We have been framed."

But Shulman, a research associate at the Wisconsin Project, which tracks more than 3,700 companies and individuals suspected of involvement in proliferation, said Griffin was exposed in the 1980s, so long ago that the group stopped sending out warnings about him, thinking he had been forced into retirement.

"Our impression was that known people like Griffin would have been put out of commission a long time ago," Shulman said. "We certainly didn't think that they were still out there doing this. If they are still involved, it's alarming, and it should a wake-up call to these governments."

Farah Stockman can be reached at

? Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.
Nuclear Necessity in Putin's Russia

Rose Gottemoeller

What purpose do nuclear weapons serve in today's Russia? More than a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russians still deploy more than 5,000 warheads on strategic nuclear-weapon systems. Additionally, they might deploy more than 3,000 nonstrategic warheads, and there are as many as 18,000 warheads either in reserve or in a queue awaiting dismantlement.[1] This enormous capability is available to Kremlin leaders, but it is a very good question what they can do with it.

Clearly, Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to see some political and diplomatic benefit to the weapons. It was no accident that in February--only one month before Putin successfully won re-election--the Russian military staged an all-out nuclear exercise that harkened back to the Cold War. Much of the short-term political payoff was lost, of course, when, with Putin in ceremonial attendance and cameras rolling, the navy twice failed to launch ballistic missiles from its strategic strike submarine. Still, the Russian president also announced plans for a new strategic weapon system, one that, from the evidence of media reports, involves maneuvering warheads that were first developed in response to President Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" missile defense system in the 1980s.

By overseeing the exercise, Putin was able to look presidential, recalling the days of Soviet power for at least the portion of his electorate nostalgic for it. Also, he was able to say to the U.S. administration recently critical of him, "You cannot ignore Russia." Finally, he was able to highlight for the Russian armed forces that he was paying attention, celebrating their stature as a national institution. Even with the missteps, the exercise thus was a political boon to Putin--not that he needed it in his landslide election victory. Still, Russia's dilemmas about its nuclear arsenal extend well beyond the ramifications of these election-year events.

During much of his first term, Putin and his military and foreign policy advisers struggled with what to make of the Cold War-sized nuclear arsenal they inherited. Like Putin's predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, they pondered whether this arsenal could offer security benefits in a world where the Kremlin's most likely adversaries were no longer another nuclear weapons superpower, but terrorists and separatists. They tested whether Moscow could leverage these weapons to diplomatic advantage and "throw its nuclear weight around." They probed whether it was possible to redirect the resources of the nuclear arsenal to other purposes.

As Putin begins his second term, however, many of these questions appear to have been at least partially answered. A combination of military necessity and domestic political benefits have combined with the demise of certain constraints, specifically START II, to convince Putin and his top aides that Russia should continue to depend on nuclear weapons. In fact, the Kremlin has drawn this conclusion even though Russian officials implicitly acknowledge such weaponry will do little to counter the main threats to their security.

To illustrate this point: the recent exercise mimicked one last seen in 1982, when the Soviet Union was at the height of its efforts to achieve nuclear war-fighting prowess and bolster its deterrent against the United States. Russia's official comment, however, placed the 2004 exercise in a context quite different from Cold War deterrence. According to official sources, the exercises were planned to counter the threat of terrorism.[2]

Given the massive display of nuclear capability and the evident focus on the United States, this explanation at best seemed far-fetched: would the United States somehow be involved in a terrorist attack and have to be punished for pursuing that course? More likely, the Russian military was simply reaching for its default option, a well-known threat scenario and, at least in the old days, a well-practiced response.

A Missed Opportunity

It did not have to turn out this way. Beginning in the late 1990s, the role of strategic nuclear weapons in Russian national security was at the center of a bureaucratic battle over post-Cold War military reforms--a debate that could have turned out very differently. The battle featured two key players, Marshal Igor Sergeyev, a former commander-in-chief of the Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF) who was named minister of defense in May 1997, and Chief of the General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin, putatively his senior deputy. Sergeyev favored a strong role for strategic nuclear weapons in Russia's military policy. Kvashnin wanted the Kremlin to put its emphasis on strengthening the conventional armed forces for regional conflicts such as the war in Chechnya.

Under Yelstin, Sergeyev got his way, seeking and gaining approval from the Security Council to create a Strategic Deterrence Force. This force would combine the strategic nuclear capabilities in the SRF with those of the navy and air force, together with certain other early warning and command and control assets, including Russian reconnaissance satellites in space.[3] In this way, it would form an integrated strategic command similar to the Strategic Command being formed during a similar period in the United States.

This "victory" for the strategic forces was short-lived. By April 2000, the fierce debate between Sergeyev and Kvashnin had broken into the open. Kvashnin apparently went around Sergeyev to suggest to Putin, who had only recently ascended to the presidency, that the SRF should be downgraded as a separate service and folded into the air force. Sergeyev responded sharply and openly to this proposal, angrily insisting that it be withdrawn.[4] Only three months after being sworn in, Putin was faced with the unprecedented task of rebuking his two top military men for their public disagreement.

By August, however, Putin seemed to be deciding in Kvashnin's favor. Through the summer, he fired several generals who were seen as allies of Sergeyev. Then, at a Security Council meeting in August, he gave lip service to the continued need for strong nuclear forces but otherwise placed emphasis squarely on strengthening the conventional forces. The notion of a Strategic Deterrence Force was officially dead; indeed the SRF were to be subordinated to the air force.

This outcome to the debate seemed to foretell a permanent victory for Kvashnin. Russian military policy seemed to be heading in the direction of a profound and unprecedented "denuclearization." A keystone of Kvashnin's concept was that the Russian Federation no longer needed to maintain nuclear parity with the United States but could succeed at deterring U.S. aggression with a minimal nuclear force. Kvashnin proposed, for example, to move from 756 land-based ICBMs to 150 by 2003.[5] Although Western analysts called this idea "strategic decoupling," Russian experts such as Vladimir Dvorkin, a retired SRF general and eminent modeler of the strategic forces, called it "a gross strategic mistake."[6]

Repercussions of U.S. Policy

Within two years, a U.S. policy decision helped restore the status of the strategic nuclear forces. In December 2001, the United States announced its intention to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The Russian Federation responded with restraint, officially calling the withdrawal a "mistake" but not reacting with immediate political or military countermoves. The Kremlin did, however, what it had long warned it would do: it stated that it would not implement the START II treaty cutting the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. By doing so, Russian officials said they would have the flexibility to counter future U.S. missile defenses that might impact the effectiveness of their strategic arsenal.

In deciding not to implement START II, which had never concluded its ratification process and had not entered into force, Russian officials were able to opt out of that treaty's ban on multiple-warhead land-based missiles (so-called MIRVed ICBMs). Instead of retiring such missiles, the Kremlin decided that it would continue deploying them for at least a decade.[7]

In this new strategic landscape, Russian experts began talking increasingly about strategic modernization "on the cheap," looking for ways to sustain a modern strategic nuclear force and still accomplish urgently needed improvements to the conventional forces. Dvorkin, for example, spoke about putting multiple warheads on the Topol-M, the new Russian ICBM that had been designed with a single warhead to conform with START II.[8] Yet even without such measures, the failure of START II meant that the Kremlin no longer had an urgent requirement to modernize their strategic forces, because they could maintain the deployment of earlier generations of multiple warhead missiles. The Russian nuclear arsenal was very far indeed from Kvashnin's stated goal of 150 land-based ICBMs by 2003--Sergeyev seemed to have been vindicated.

Putin and his top advisers made the shift plain in October 2003. At a meeting with top-ranking military leaders, Putin seemed to be saying that the time for upheaval was over when he announced, "We are moving from radical reforms to deliberate, future-oriented development of the armed forces."[9] Sergei Ivanov, a Putin ally and civilian who had been sworn in as defense minister in April 2001, also seemed to call a halt to the roller-coaster debate over defense reform, asserting that the Russian army had already adapted to new realities. No longer, Ivanov said, would the Russian army have to consider global nuclear war or a large-scale conventional war as the most likely contingencies. Therefore, nuclear and conventional forces had already been trimmed substantially.[10]

Accompanying these statements was a reconfirmation that Russia was taking steps to maintain the capability of its strategic nuclear arsenal. Ivanov underscored the fact that the strategic nuclear forces would retain essentially the same composition as they had had during the Cold War years. "Russia retains a significant number of land-based strategic missiles....I am speaking here about the most menacing missiles, of which we have dozens, with hundreds of warheads," he said.[11]

Whether October 2003 represented an accurate time to declare the reform of the Russian armed forces complete seems doubtful. Even by the evidence that Putin and Ivanov presented in their public comments, reform still was a work in progress. Nevertheless, it is possible to point to a "settling out" of the relationship between the nuclear forces and the conventional forces. Neither Kvashnin, in his insistence on a "denuclearization" of the Russian armed forces, nor Sergeyev, with his emphasis on strong strategic nuclear forces and investment to match, had been precisely right. Each, however, had been to some measure correct.

The compromise path, as noted above, was engineered through the demise of START II. Relieved of START II constraints, the Russian Federation found a way to retain strategic nuclear weapons "on the cheap," thus freeing up funding for conventional force modernization. With the competition resolved, perhaps progress on reforming conventional forces could accelerate.

Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons

This resolution, at least for the time being, of the debate about the relationship and primacy of strategic nuclear and conventional forces does not address the place of nonstrategic nuclear weapons in Russian military doctrine. One of the oddest aspects of the Sergeyev-Kvashnin debate was that both of those military leaders as well as other Russian military experts shared and continue to share a theoretical consensus on the utility of nonstrategic nuclear weapons to counter Russian conventional weakness.

In April 2000, a new version of Russian military doctrine was issued, consistent with earlier versions except in its emphasis on the importance of using nuclear weapons to deter and counter attacks on Russian territory. This doctrine had been preceded, in January 2000, by a new National Security Concept that emphasized the same point. In describing the concept, Ivanov, who was then secretary of the Security Council, spoke about the nuclear issue: "Russia never said and is not saying now that it will be the first to use nuclear weapons, but at the same time, Russia is not saying that it will not use nuclear weapons if it is exposed to a full-scale aggression which leads to an immediate threat of a break-up and [to] Russia's existence in general."[12]

The doctrine stressed that even a conventional attack on targets that the Russians considered of strategic importance on their own territory could bring forth a nuclear counterattack anywhere in the theater of military operations. The exercise Zapad-99 showed exactly the type of scenario that underpinned this doctrine. Enemy forces (and NATO was heavily implied, in alliance with regional opponents of Russia) were beginning to overrun Russian territory. At the same time, they were using high-precision conventional weapons to attack strategic targets, such as nuclear power plants, on Russian territory. In response, Russia launched bombers armed with nuclear air-launched cruise missiles against enemy territory.

The greatest innovation of the January 2000 National Security Concept was the suggestion that nonstrategic nuclear weapons might be used in a limited way to counter a conventional attack, without spurring a major escalation to all-out nuclear use. The concept essentially restated long-standing policy, renewing the mission of the nuclear forces to deter any attack--nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional--against the territory of the Russian Federation.[13]

The notion that a limited nuclear response could be used to de-escalate conflict was a departure from long-standing Soviet era doctrine, which tended to stress the inevitability of rapid escalation as a counter to the U.S. position. During that era, the United States stated that it might have to use nuclear weapons in a limited way to counter an overwhelming Soviet conventional attack on Western Europe. The arrival of this idea in Russian nuclear policy seems to indicate that the shoe was now on the other foot: it was now Russia that might have to contemplate the limited use of nuclear weapons to compensate for its weakness against a determined and overwhelming regional aggressor.

Thus, a major new trend was emerging in Russian nuclear security policy: Nuclear weapons would not only be used in a large-scale coalition war involving exchanges with a major power such as the United States. They might also be used in conflicts on Russia's periphery if the Russians decided that they had no other option to counter a weapon of mass destruction attack involving chemical or biological weapons. They might also be used to counter attacks by small-scale but capable conventional forces impacting targets that Russia considers to be of strategic importance.

This latter use, it is worth stressing, had earlier antecedents. As early as the mid-1980s, the Soviets were becoming concerned about what they termed "strategic conventional attacks" against Soviet territory. In that era, they worried about the new U.S. long-range land-attack cruise missiles that were capable of carrying either conventional or nuclear warheads. The Soviets complained at the time that they would not be able to distinguish between a nuclear and conventional attack and would therefore either have to treat the attack as nuclear or lose their opportunity to launch on tactical warning. In this way, "strategic" conventional weapons might deprive them of their options to limit damage from a nuclear attack.[14]

At the time, the Soviets were not stressing the "de-escalatory" nature of limited nuclear response options. In fact, they tended to threaten that a cruise missile attack on Soviet territory, even if it turned out to be conventional, could lead to all-out nuclear war. They did claim, however, that such response options would be consistent with Soviet no-first-use policy because they would be responding on warning of what appeared to be a nuclear attack; once their opponent had launched such an attack, they were justified to respond. Even if the cruise missile turned out to be conventionally armed, they would have been responding to "nuclear" warning.

Thus, when the Russians talk about using their nuclear forces against "terrorists," they are falling back on some established traditions but also on the military reality that their conventional forces are not yet ready to confront new threats to the Russian Federation. Yet, it not likely that terrorist decision-makers will be deterred by nuclear weapons.[15] Rather than bolstering Russian defenses against terrorism, the ineffectual nature of nuclear forces for this mission only highlights the continued weakness of the Russian armed forces overall.

Future Directions

The Russians seem to be drawing a measure of security from their nuclear capability and are doing it "on the cheap." One problem will arise if that security becomes synonymous with the current high numbers of nuclear weapons and the Russian government decides it will no longer work to reduce its vast holdings of nuclear weapons and materials. At the moment, Russia seems to be taking seriously its commitments under the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) to reduce operational deployments of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,700-2,200 by 2012. For example, despite their decision to maintain some older systems, they are eliminating SS-18s at the rate of two to three regiments a year, blowing up silos so that the reductions are irreversible. As long as the Russians remain committed to reductions, their continuing dependence on nuclear forces is not a problem.

A problem will arise if the Russians decide that they must begin to modernize their nuclear capability, developing and building new nuclear warheads and possibly testing them. This direction looked possible in 2003 as high-level officials made obscure references to the need for new "strategic weapons." Putin, for example, remarked approvingly about new strategic capabilities in his "State of the Union" address in May, but it was unclear whether he was talking about new advanced conventional weapons or new nuclear weapons.[16]

U.S. policy may have had some impact on these decisions. For example, Putin announced a new strategic system in February 2004, the resurrection of a Soviet-era maneuvering warhead project that had been originally designed to counter the U.S. Star Wars program. With the United States moving toward deployment of a national missile defense system, Putin perhaps wanted to reassure his military that important technological countermeasures were "in the works."

Yet, U.S. plans to deploy missile defenses, and research and potentially deploy new nuclear weapons, have also prompted assertions from some Russian officials that they will not seek to match U.S. efforts. Russian officials have stated clearly, "We will not chase after you." They seem to believe that existing Russian nuclear deployments could counter any new U.S. capabilities, offensive or defensive, for the foreseeable future. No need for panic, they convey, we will not be surprised or overwhelmed by new developments in the United States.[17]

Thus, Russian nuclear policy looking into the future is an interesting admixture. It combines military necessity--an insurance policy against conventional weakness--with a political expression of national pride. The celebration of the nuclear forces has also served a reassurance function, conveying that the leadership, and particularly Putin, value the military's contribution to Russia's future.

A key question for the international community, and indeed for the United States, is whether Russia's nuclear capabilities and emotional investment in such weapons might be tapped for larger purposes than Russian domestic politics. It is often said that nuclear weapons give Russia a seat at the diplomatic table. Indeed, Russia's status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council is linked to its status as a nuclear-weapon state under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

To be sure, Russia's nuclear weapons give it a stronger role on the world stage than its economy or political heft would otherwise warrant, and Russia's pride in this role should be harnessed to accomplish larger international goals. For example, the Russians might be asked to use their nuclear expertise more fully in the fight against proliferation. Recently, they have shown a willingness to take a firmer hand with Iran over the supply of fuel to the Bushehr reactor project. Can such firmness be extended both with Iran and to other proliferation tough cases? Can Russia in fact become a full partner to the United States in the fight against proliferation?[18]

Consider the example of North Korea. Having provided nuclear research reactors and power technology to North Korea in the first place, Russia has significant first-hand knowledge of the foundations of the North Korean program. Moreover, Russia has indicated an interest in serving as an international repository for spent nuclear fuel. If North Korea has not reprocessed all of its 8,000 nuclear fuel rods, it might be convinced to hand them over for storage at an international site, along with whatever plutonium has been produced. Because of its involvement with the North Korean program and its geographic proximity, Russia could provide the site for these materials.

The Russians, with the help of the United States, could also lead by example. For example, the Russian Federation could accelerate reductions in its nuclear arsenal and the nuclear materials that underpin it. Although the current U.S. administration does not seem interested in reductions beyond those enshrined in the SORT, there are good reasons to pursue them. In particular, controlling and eliminating nuclear assets is the best way to keep them out of the hands of terrorists and regimes inimical to the international order. This goal is particularly relevant to nonstrategic or tactical nuclear weapons. Up to this point, such weapons have not been subject to formal arms control agreements, but they are likely to be among the nuclear assets most attractive and accessible to terrorists.

Even if the United States and Russia do not immediately turn their attention to new nuclear arms reductions, they could reinvigorate joint efforts to protect, control, and account for nuclear materials. An early joint effort, called the Trilateral Initiative because of the involvement of the International Atomic Energy Agency along with the United States and Russia, made some progress on joint nuclear material protection in the 1990s but then stalled over implementation costs and related issues. Russia and the United States could quickly reinvigorate this initiative, thus providing some important impetus to international efforts to control nuclear materials.

Likewise, the United States and Russia promised each other, at the time the SORT was signed in May 2002, that they would examine new measures of transparency that would facilitate implementation of the treaty. Some of the most important of such measures could relate to monitoring warheads in storage. Both Russian and U.S. experts have spent considerable time jointly developing the technologies and procedures that would be necessary to monitor warhead storage, and this agenda could quickly be developed. These steps could apply equally to strategic and nonstrategic nuclear warheads if the two countries should decide to pursue joint measures that would control and account for both types.

The United States will have to make some effort to allow Russia to assume the role of a more equal partner on nonproliferation policy. Washington is accustomed, for example, to thinking of Russia more as a proliferation problem than part of the solution. Indeed, Russia's insistence on selling nuclear reactors to unpalatable customers such as Iran and Libya has meant that it has been continually under suspicion as a proliferator itself. Nevertheless, the center of the proliferation sales network seems to have been in Pakistan rather than Russia. Thus, if the United States is willing to continue the difficult work of improving Russian export control laws and other regulations, Russia could develop into a reliable nonproliferation partner.

Likewise, on the arms control front, Russian weakness and distraction have often meant that the United States has taken the lead in advancing new initiatives. The SORT, for example, was based on a U.S. concept, although the Kremlin insisted that it be signed as a legally binding treaty rather than a political commitment. In the future, Washington may find itself as the only partner volunteering new ideas, such as further reductions in strategic nuclear forces or a withdrawal of nonstrategic nuclear weapons from NATO Europe. Even if such initiatives are advanced on a voluntary basis rather than in the context of a negotiation, they can be designed to draw forth a positive response from the Russian side.

The United States and Russian Federation have a long history of working together to solve nuclear problems, particularly in the realm of nuclear arms reductions. For the time being, Russian nuclear weapons must compensate in part for its weakness. However, Russia's nuclear capabilities also mean that it can be somewhat self-confident in the international arena, turning its knowledge, expertise, and resources to serve the country's larger goals. With sufficient U.S. cooperation and encouragement, Putin might be able to provide a new and positive answer to the question of what purpose nuclear weapons serve in today's Russia.


1. According to information published by the Arms Control Association, as of July 31, 2003, strategic nuclear forces of the former Soviet Union totaled 5,286 nuclear warheads (2,922 ICBMs, 1,732 SLBMs, and 632 bombers). This information is based on the Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and the Russian Federation of July 31, 2003. Arms Control Association, "Current Strategic Nuclear Forces of the Former Soviet Union," February 2004, available at See also Natural Resources Defense Council, "Table of USSR/Russian Nuclear Warheads," November 25, 2002,

2. Ivan Safronov, "Russia Will Play Out a Nuclear Game With Itself," Kommersant, January 30, 2004.

3. The inception of the Strategic Deterrence Forces is described in Jacob W. Kipp, "Russia's Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons," Military Review, May-June 2001, available at

4. David Hoffmann, "Putin Tries to Stop Feuding in the Military," The Washington Post, July 15, 2000, p. 14. A good summation of Russian commentary on the debate is contained in Nikolai Sokov, "`Denuclearization' of Russia's Defense Policy?" July 17, 2000, available at Another good precis of the debate is Philipp C. Bleek, "Russia Ready to Reduce to 1,500 Warheads, Addressing Dispute Over Strategic Forces' Fate," Arms Control Today, September 2000.

5. For a good review of Russian sources on this point, see Sokov, "'Denuclearization' of Russia's Defense Policy?"

6. Vladimir Dvorkin, "Russia Needs a Transparent Development Programme for Its Strategic Nuclear Forces," Vremya Novostei, No. 1, January 2003, translated in the CDI Russia Weekly, No. 240, Center for Defense Information, Washington, DC.

7. According to some analysts, SS-18s and SS-19s could be refurbished and maintained well beyond their guaranteed life span, perhaps until 2020 or even beyond. General Yury Kirillov, chief of the SRF Military Academy, said that, "[c]onsidering Russia's economic capabilities, the preservation of Russia's nuclear potential requires a maximum possible extension of the service life of the RS-20 and RS-18 MIRVed missile complexes." (The NATO designators for these missiles are the SS-18 and SS-19.) Interview with Colonel General Yury Kirillov, "Possibly It's Time to Advance the Idea of a Nuclear Deterrence Safeguards Treaty," Yadernyy Kontrol, November-December 2002, translated in FBIS-SOV-2003-0114, October 5, 2002.

8. Discussion among Aleksandr Golts, Sergey Parkhomenko, and Vladimir Dvorkin, Ekho Moskvy Radio, May 21, 2002, available at

9. Lenta.RU, available at

10. Viktor Litovkin, "Security is Best Achieved Through Coalition: Russia's New Military Doctrine Highlights Community of Goals with the World,"

11. Simon Saradzhyan, "Putin Beefs Up ICBM Capacity," The Moscow Times, October 3, 2003. See also Jeremy Bransten, "Russia: Putin Talks Up Power of Nuclear Arsenal," RFE/RL, available at

12. "Security Council Chief Says New Concept `Unique,'" ITAR-TASS, February 24, 2000, in FBIS-SOV-2000-0224. The doctrine may be found at "Voyennaya doktrina Rossiiskoi Federatsii," Nezavisimaya gazeta, April 22, 2000, available at

13. For a useful commentary on the link between Zapad-99 and the Security Concept, see Nikolai Sokov, "Russia's New National Security Concept: The Nuclear Angle," CNS Reports, January 19, 2000, available at

14. For a discussion of this period in Soviet doctrine, see Rose Gottemoeller, "Land-Attack Cruise Missiles," Adelphi Paper, No. 226 (Winter 1987/88): 18-19.

15 It should be noted that, when the Russian government refers to "terrorists," it often is describing separatists from the breakaway republic of Chechnya, who may or may not be engaging in nonstate terrorist activities. To the extent that Chechen politicians ascribe to the responsibilities of government leadership, they might be subject to some aspects of deterrence, especially of a nuclear kind.

16. President Vladimir Putin's Annual Address to the Federal Assembly, May 16, 2003. Then-Deputy Prime Minister Alyoshin asserted after the president's speech that Putin was talking about a new strategic command and control system to allow "the use of in-depth space, air and earth systems," not new nuclear weapons. See Natalia Slavina, "Deputy Premier Says Russia Government to Pursue Tasks of Putin's Address," ITAR-TASS, May 16, 2003, transcribed in FBIS-SOV-2003-0516. See also "Russian Deputy Premier Calls for Developing IT-Intensive Weapon Systems," Moscow Interfax, May 16, 2003, in FBIS-SOV-2003-0516.

17. Conversations with author, Moscow, January 2004.

18. This idea was advanced by Russian participants in a joint project of the U.S. National Academy of Scientists and the Russian Academy of Sciences on the future of nonproliferation coo=peration. See National Research Council of the National Academies, "Overcoming Impediments to U.S.-Russian Cooperation on Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Report of a Workshop," February 2004, pp. 1-10.

Rose Gottemoeller is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she holds a joint appointment with the Russian and Eurasian Program and the Global Policy Program. Before joining Carnegie in October 2000, Gottemoeller was deputy undersecretary for defense nuclear nonproliferation in the Department of Energy.

RUSSIE Le pr?sident fran?ais a salu? la brillante r??lection de son homologue et le progr?s des r?formes
Chirac, partenaire inconditionnel de Poutine
Le pr?sident Jacques Chirac a annonc? que le pr?sident russe avait confirm? sa pr?sence en Normandie lors des c?r?monies marquant le 60e anniversaire du d?barquement alli? en France.
Krasnoznamensk : de notre envoy?e sp?ciale Laure Mandeville
[05 avril 2004]

L'arriv?e hier de Jacques Chirac et de quelques minibus remplis de journalistes dans la ville ferm?e de Krasnoznamensk, lieu d'une base militaire et spatiale russe qui ne figura longtemps sur aucune carte d'URSS, n'a pas sembl? susciter d'?motion particuli?re de la part des 25 000 habitants qui y vivent toujours en vase clos, ? 45 kilom?tres de Moscou.

On aurait pu se croire ?back in the USSR? dans ce d?cor tr?s sovi?tique de barres d'immeubles d?cr?pis d?pendant du minist?re de la D?fense. A l'entr?e de la ville secr?te, d?limit?e par de hautes grilles et un poste de contr?le, un L?nine de bronze, le bras lev?, regardait vers l'horizon, tandis que des ?babouchkas? faisaient tranquillement leurs courses.

C'?tait pourtant la premi?re fois qu'un chef d'Etat ?tranger p?n?trait dans le principal centre de commande des satellites militaires russes. Une symbolique destin?e ? donner un lustre tout particulier ? la visite de quelques heures de Jacques Chirac ; et ? montrer l'importance que la Russie accorde ? la relation avec la France. ?Ce geste r?v?le le niveau de transparence et de confiance auquel nous sommes arriv?s?, a d'ailleurs soulign? le pr?sident Poutine, qui s'est r?joui ?des perspectives de coop?ration ouvertes par Paris et Moscou? dans le domaine du spatial et de l'a?ronautique.

Le pr?sident Jacques Chirac affichant, malgr? une mine soucieuse, des dispositions d'esprit tout aussi excellentes que son partenaire russe, la journ?e a ?t? l'occasion d'un festival de congratulations mutuelles. ?Je suis tr?s heureux de pouvoir f?liciter le pr?sident Poutine pour sa brillante r??lection ? la t?te de la Russie?, a lanc? le pr?sident fran?ais ? son h?te, sans ?mettre de r?serve sur le verrouillage m?diatique et politique spectaculaire qui a pr?sid? ? la victoire du pr?sident russe. ?Il y a un lien spontan? et naturel entre nos deux pays, a-t-il poursuivi, d'autant que la Russie s'est engag?e avec beaucoup de succ?s sur la voie des r?formes et de la d?mocratie.?

A l'int?rieur d'un b?timent fleurant bon le neuf, le chef de l'Etat fran?ais venait d'assister ? une sorte de d?monstration du travail qu'effectue le centre de commande de Krasnoznamensk, pour contr?ler la bonne marche des satellites russes et des missiles intercontinentaux. Dans une grande salle aux allures de Futuroscope, il avait pu regarder un grand tableau de bord surmont? d'une carte de Russie, o? s'affichaient les caract?ristiques des satellites en orbite, tandis que le nouveau commandant des forces spatiales russes, tout juste nomm?, commentait un diaporama anim?.

Si l'Irak, le Moyen-Orient, l'Otan et le Kosovo ont ?t? ?voqu?s lors des entretiens r?v?lant ?une totale convergence de vue?, c'est ?? 80%? sur le bilat?ral que se sont concentr?s les deux hommes. ?Nous avons augment? nos ?changes ?conomiques de 25% en un an, un joli succ?s, a lanc? Poutine, rappelant que la relation commerciale et le dialogue ?nerg?tique avec la Russie pourraient avoir des retomb?es ?tr?s concr?tes? pour les Fran?ais, ?en termes de cr?ation d'emplois ou de baisse du prix de l'essence?.

Les deux hommes ont discut? des cons?quences de l'?largissement de l'Union europ?enne pour la Russie, un sujet qui a provoqu? de fortes tensions r?cemment entre Bruxelles et Moscou, qui s'estime l?s? par l'extension des r?gles communautaires ? ses anciens partenaires du Comecon.

Le pr?sident Chirac a rappel? que ?la relation entre l'UE et la Russie est essentielle ? l'?quilibre et la stabilit? du monde de demain? et annonc? des propositions fran?aises et allemandes sur ce th?me pour le prochain sommet Russie-UE, dans un mois ? Moscou. Lors d'un r?cent voyage ? Budapest, Jacques Chirac avait appel? les nouveaux adh?rents de l'Est ? faire preuve de ?compr?hension vis-?-vis de la Russie?. Ces pays, inquiets des d?rives n?o-imp?riales qui s'affirment ? Moscou sont persuad?s que Paris, aveugl? par une vision ?romantique? de la Russie, ne condamne pas avec assez de vigueur les ?carts russes.

Il est vrai que le pr?sident Chirac ne s'est pas ?tendu sur les sujets qui f?chaient, ne mentionnant la guerre de Tch?tch?nie qu'? la demande d'une journaliste, et associant ce conflit directement ? la ?lutte contre le terrorisme?, comme le font syst?matiquement les Russes.


Why Bush's Afghanistan problem won't go away.
Issue of 2004-04-12
Posted 2004-04-05
In December, 2002, a year after the Taliban had been driven from power in Afghanistan, Donald Rumsfeld gave an upbeat assessment of the country's future to CNN's Larry King. "They have elected a government. . . . The Taliban are gone. The Al Qaeda are gone. The country is not a perfectly stable place, and it needs a great deal of reconstruction funds," Rumsfeld said. "There are people who are throwing hand grenades and shooting off rockets and trying to kill people, but there are people who are trying to kill people in New York or San Francisco. So it's not going to be a perfectly tidy place." Nonetheless, he said, "I'm hopeful, I'm encouraged." And he added, "I wish them well."

A year and a half later, the Taliban are still a force in many parts of Afghanistan, and the country continues to provide safe haven for members of Al Qaeda. American troops, more than ten thousand of whom remain, are heavily deployed in the mountainous areas near Pakistan, still hunting for Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader. Hamid Karzai, the U.S.-backed President, exercises little political control outside Kabul and is struggling to undercut the authority of local warlords, who effectively control the provinces. Heroin production is soaring, and, outside of Kabul and a few other cities, people are terrorized by violence and crime. A new report by the United Nations Development Program, made public on the eve of last week's international conference, in Berlin, on aid to Afghanistan, stated that the nation is in danger of once again becoming a "terrorist breeding ground" unless there is a significant increase in development aid.

The turmoil in Afghanistan has become a political issue for the Bush Administration, whose general conduct of the war on terrorism is being publicly challenged by Richard A. Clarke, the former National Security Council terrorism adviser, in a memoir, "Against All Enemies," and in contentious hearings before the September 11th Commission. The Bush Administration has consistently invoked Afghanistan as a success story--an example of the President's determination. However, it is making this claim in the face of renewed warnings, from international organizations, from allies, and from within its own military--notably a Pentagon-commissioned report that was left in bureaucratic limbo when its conclusions proved negative--that the situation there is deteriorating rapidly.

In his book, Clarke depicts the victory in Afghanistan as far less decisive than the Administration has portrayed it, and he sharply criticizes the Pentagon's tactics, especially the decision to rely on airpower, and not U.S. troops on the ground, in the early weeks. The war began on October 7, 2001, but, he wrote, not until seven weeks later did the United States "insert a ground force unit (Marines) to take and hold a former al Qaeda and Taliban facility. . . . The late-November operation did not include any effort by U.S. forces to seal the border with Pakistan, snatch the al Qaeda leadership, or cut off the al Qaeda escape."

Clarke told me in an interview last week that the Administration viewed Afghanistan as a military and political backwater--a detour along the road to Iraq, the war that mattered most to the President. Clarke and some of his colleagues, he said, had repeatedly warned the national-security leadership that, as he put it, "you can't win the war in Afghanistan with such a small effort." Clarke continued, "There were more cops in New York City than soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan. We had to have a security presence coupled with a development program in every region and stay there for several months."

In retrospect, Clarke said, he believes that the President and his men did not respond for three reasons: "One, they did not want to get involved in Afghanistan like Russia did. Two, they were saving forces for the war in Iraq. And, three, Rumsfeld wanted to have a laboratory to prove his theory about the ability of small numbers of ground troops, coupled with airpower, to win decisive battles." As of today, Clarke said, "the U.S. has succeeded in stabilizing only two or three cities. The President of Afghanistan is just the mayor of Kabul."

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Joseph Collins, a Pentagon expert on Afghanistan, acknowledged that it was only in the past several months that "significant money began to flow" into Afghanistan for reconstruction and security. "We found in the security area we were doing the right thing, but not fast enough," he told me. The resurgence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, Collins said, did not begin until early last year. "They began to realize at the end of 2003 that the key is not to fight our soldiers but U.N. officials and aid workers." In the long run, Collins added, "these tactics are self-defeating--in Afghanistan and in Iraq."

Clarke's view of what went wrong was buttressed by an internal military analysis of the Afghanistan war that was completed last winter. In late 2002, the Defense Department's office of Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (solic) asked retired Army Colonel Hy Rothstein, a leading military expert in unconventional warfare, to examine the planning and execution of the war in Afghanistan, with an understanding that he would focus on Special Forces. As part of his research, Rothstein travelled to Afghanistan and interviewed many senior military officers, in both Special Forces and regular units. He also talked to dozens of junior Special Forces officers and enlisted men who fought there. His report was a devastating critique of the Administration's strategy. He wrote that the bombing campaign was not the best way to hunt down Osama bin Laden and the rest of the Al Qaeda leadership, and that there was a failure to translate early tactical successes into strategic victory. In fact, he wrote, the victory in Afghanistan was not, in the long run, a victory at all.

Last month, I visited Rothstein in his office at the Naval Postgraduate School, in Monterey, California, where he is a senior lecturer in defense analysis. A fit, broad-shouldered man in his early fifties, he served more than twenty years in the Army Special Forces, including three years as the director of plans and exercises for the Joint Special Operations Command, at Fort Bragg, before retiring, in 1999. His associates depicted him as anything but a dissident. "He puts boots on the ground," Robert Andrews, a former head of solic, told me, referring to Rothstein's missions in Central America, for which he earned a decoration for valor, and in the former Yugoslavia. Rothstein agreed to speak to me, with some reluctance, only after I had obtained his report independently, and he would not go into details about his research. "They asked me to do this," he said of the Pentagon, "and my purpose was to make some things better. All I want people to do is to look at the paper and not at me. I'll tell you the good and the bad."

The report describes a wide gap between how Donald Rumsfeld represented the war and what was actually taking place. Rumsfeld had told reporters at the start of the Afghanistan bombing campaign, Rothstein wrote, that "you don't fight terrorists with conventional capabilities. You do it with unconventional capabilities." In December, the Taliban and Al Qaeda retreated into the countryside as the armies of the Northern Alliance, supported by American airpower and Special Forces troops, moved into the capital. There were many press accounts of America's new way of waging war, including well-publicized reports of American Special Forces on horseback and of new technologies, like the Predator drones. Nonetheless, Rothstein wrote, the United States continued to emphasize bombing and conventional warfare while "the war became increasingly unconventional," with Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters "operating in small cells, emerging only to lay land mines and launch nighttime rocket attacks before disappearing once again." Rothstein added:

What was needed after December 2001 was a greater emphasis on U.S. special operations troops, supported by light infantry, conducting counterinsurgency operations. Aerial bombardment should have become a rare thing. . . . The failure to adjust U.S. operations in line with the post-Taliban change in theater conditions cost the United States some of the fruits of victory and imposed additional, avoidable humanitarian and stability costs on Afghanistan. . . . Indeed, the war's inadvertent effects may be more significant than we think.

By the end of 2001, the Afghan war had essentially become a counterinsurgency. At this point, it was important to turn to a specific kind of unconventional warfare: "The Special Forces were created to deal with precisely this kind of enemy," Rothstein wrote. "Unorthodox thinking, drawing on a thorough understanding of war, demography, human nature, culture and technology are part of this mental approach. . . . Unconventional warfare prescribes that Special Forces soldiers must be diplomats, doctors, spies, cultural anthropologists, and good friends--all before their primary work comes into play."

Instead, Rothstein said, "the command arrangement evolved into a large and complex structure that could not (or would not) respond to the new unconventional setting." The result has been "a campaign in Afghanistan that effectively destroyed the Taliban but has been significantly less successful at being able to achieve the primary policy goal of ensuring that al Qaeda could no longer operate in Afghanistan."

Rothstein wrote that Rumsfeld routinely responded to criticism about civilian casualties by stating that "some amount" of collateral damage "is inevitable in war." It is estimated that more than a thousand Afghan civilians were killed by bombing and other means in the early stages of the war. Rothstein suggested that these numbers could have been lower, and that further incidents might have been avoided if Special Forces had been allowed to wage a truly unconventional war that reduced the reliance on massive firepower.

The Administration's decision to treat the Taliban as though all its members identified with, and would fight for, Al Qaeda was also a crucial early mistake. "There were deep divisions within the Taliban that could have been exploited through a political-military effort which is the essence of unconventional warfare," Rothstein said. "A few months of intensive diplomatic, intelligence and military preparations between Special Forces and anti-Taliban forces would have made a significant difference."

Instead, Rothstein wrote, the American military campaign left a power vacuum. The conditions under which the post-Taliban government came to power gave "warlordism, banditry and opium production a new lease on life." He concluded, "Defeating an enemy on the battlefield and winning a war are rarely synonymous. Winning a war calls for more than defeating one's enemy in battle." He recalled that, in 1975, when Harry G. Summers, an Army colonel who later wrote a history of the Vietnam War, told a North Vietnamese colonel, "You never defeated us on the battlefield," the colonel replied, "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."

Rothstein delivered his report in January. It was returned to him, with the message that he had to cut it drastically and soften his conclusions. He has heard nothing further. "It's a threatening paper," one military consultant told me. The Pentagon, asked for comment, confirmed that Rothstein was told "we did not support all of his conclusions," and said that he would soon be sent notes. In addition, Joseph Collins told me, "There may be a kernel of truth in there, but our experts found the study rambling and not terribly informative." In interviews, however, a number of past and present Bush Administration officials have endorsed Rothstein's key assertions. "It wasn't like he made it up," a former senior intelligence officer said. "The reason they're petrified is that it's true, and they didn't want to see it in writing."

The high point of the American involvement in Afghanistan came in December of 2001, at a conference of various Afghan factions held in Bonn, when the Administration's candidate, Hamid Karzai, was named chairman of the interim government. (His appointment as President was confirmed six months later at a carefully orchestrated Afghan tribal council, known as a Loya Jirga.) It was a significant achievement, but there were major flaws in the broader accord. There was no agreement on establishing an international police force, no procedures for collecting taxes, no strategy for disarming either the many militias or individual Afghans, and no resolution with the Taliban.

Then came Iraq. In interviews with academics, aid workers, and non-governmental-organization officials, I was repeatedly told that, within a few months of the Bonn conference, as the United States began its buildup in the Gulf, security and political conditions throughout Afghanistan eroded. In the early summer of 2002, a military consultant, reflecting the views of several American Special Forces commanders in the field, provided the Pentagon with a briefing warning that the Taliban and Al Qaeda were adapting quickly to American tactics. "His decision loop has tightened, ours has widened," the briefing said, referring to the Taliban. "He can see us, but increasingly we no longer see him." Only a very few high-level generals listened, and the briefing, like Rothstein's report, changed nothing. By then, some of the most highly skilled Americans were being diverted from Afghanistan. Richard Clarke noted in his memoir, "The U.S. Special Forces who were trained to speak Arabic, the language of al Qaeda, had been pulled out of Afghanistan and sent to Iraq." Some C.I.A. paramilitary teams were also transferred to Iraq.

Meanwhile, the United States continued to pay off and work closely with local warlords, many of whom were involved in heroin and opium trafficking. Their loyalty was not for sale but for rent. Warlords like Hazrat Ali in eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border, and Mohammed Fahim had been essential to America's initial military success, and, at first, they had promised to accept Karzai. Hazrat Ali would be one of several commanders later accused of double-crossing American troops in an early, unsuccessful sweep for Al Qaeda, in 2002. Fahim, now the defense minister, is deeply involved in a number of illicit enterprises.

The Bush Administration, facing a major war in Iraq, seemed eager to put the war in Afghanistan behind it. In January of 2003, Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, made a fifteen-hour visit to Kabul and announced, "We're clearly moving into a different phase, where our priority in Afghanistan is increasingly going to be stability and reconstruction. There's no way to go too fast. Faster is better." There was talk of improving security and rebuilding the Afghan National Army in time for Presidential and parliamentary elections, but little effort to provide the military and economic resources. "I don't think the Administration understood about winning hearts and minds," a former Administration official told me.

The results of the postwar neglect are stark. A leading scholar on Afghanistan, Barnett R. Rubin, wrote, in this month's Current History, that Afghanistan today "does not have functioning state institutions. It has no genuine army or effective police. Its ramshackle provincial administration is barely in contact with, let alone obedient to, the central government. Most of the country's meager tax revenue has been illegally taken over by local officials who are little more than warlords with official titles." The goal of American policy in Afghanistan "was not to set up a better regime for the Afghan people," Rubin wrote. "The goal instead was to get rid of the terrorist threat against America." The United States enlisted the warlords in its war against terrorism, and "the result was an Afghan government created at Bonn that rested on a power base of warlords."

One military consultant with extensive experience in Afghanistan told me last year, "The real action is at the village level, but we're not there. And we need to be there 24/7. Now we are effectively operating above the conflict. It's the same old story as in Vietnam. We can't hit what we can't see." He added, "From January, 2002, on, we were in the process of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory."

Last summer, a coalition of seventy-nine human-rights and relief organizations wrote an open letter to the international community calling for better security in Afghanistan and warning that the Presidential elections there, now scheduled for September, were imperilled. The letter noted, "For the majority of the Afghan people, security is precarious and controlled by regional warlords, drug traffickers or groups with terrorist associations. The situation is getting worse, and there is no comprehensive plan in place to halt the spiral of violence." Statistics compiled by care International showed that eleven aid workers were murdered in four incidents during a three-week period ending early last month, and the rate of physical assaults on aid workers in Afghanistan more than doubled in January and February compared with the same period in the previous year. Such attacks, a care policy statement suggested, inevitably led to cutbacks in Afghan humanitarian and reconstruction programs. In early 2003, for example, according to the Chicago Tribune, there were twenty-six humanitarian agencies at work in Kandahar, the main Afghan city in the south. By early this year, there were fewer than five.

Even one of the most publicized achievements of the post-Taliban government, the improvements in the lives of women, has been called into question. Judy Benjamin, who served as the gender adviser to the U.S. Agency for International Development mission in Kabul in 2002 and 2003, told me, "The legal opportunities have improved, but the day-to-day life for women, even in Kabul, isn't any better. Girls are now legally permitted to go to school and work, but when it comes to the actual family practice, people are afraid to let them go out without burkas." Conditions outside Kabul are far worse, she said. "Families do not allow females to travel--to go to jobs or to school. You cannot go on many roads without being held up by bandits. People are saying they were safer under the Taliban system, which is why the Taliban are getting more support--the lack of safety."

Nancy Lindborg, the executive vice-president of Mercy Corps, one of the major N.G.O.s at work in Afghanistan, had a similar view. Outside of Kabul, she said, "everywhere I go, from Kunduz to Kandahar, I see no change for most women, and security for everybody has fallen apart since November of 2002." The Pentagon's announcements of increased commitments to security and reconstruction were increasingly seen "as a big charade," Lindborg said. "The United States has left Afghanistan to fester for two years."

The humanitarian community is not alone in its concern. In February, Vice-Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, acknowledged during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that the growing Taliban insurgency was targeting humanitarian and reconstruction organizations. Over all, he said, Taliban attacks had "reached their highest levels since the collapse of the Taliban government."

Heroin is among the most immediate--and the most intractable--social, economic, and political problems. "The problem is too huge for us to be able to face alone," Hamid Karzai declared last week in Berlin, as he appealed for more aid. "Drugs in Afghanistan are threatening the very existence of the Afghan state." Drug dealing and associated criminal activity produced about $2.3 billion in revenue last year, according to an annual survey by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, a sum that was equivalent to half of Afghanistan's legitimate gross domestic product. "Terrorists take a cut as well," the U.N. report noted, adding that "the longer this happens, the greater the threat to security within the country."

The U.N. report, published last fall, found that opium production, which, following a ban imposed by the Taliban, had fallen to a hundred and eighty-five metric tons in 2001, soared last year to three thousand six hundred tons--a twentyfold increase. The report declared the nation to be "at a crossroads: either (i) energetic interdiction measures are taken now . . . or (ii) the drug cancer in Afghanistan will keep spreading and metastasise into corruption, violence and terrorism--within and beyond the country's borders." Afghanistan was once again, the U.N. said, producing three-quarters of the world's illicit opium, with no evidence of a cutback in sight, even though there has been a steady stream of reports from Washington about drug interdictions. The report said that poppy cultivation had continued to spread, and was now reported in twenty-eight of the nation's thirty-two provinces.

Most alarmingly, according to a U.N. survey, nearly seventy per cent of farmers intend to increase their poppy crops in 2004, most of them by more than half. Only a small percentage of farmers were planning any reduction, despite years of international pressure. Many of the areas that the U.N. report identified as likely to see increased production are in regions where the United States has a major military presence.

Despite such statistics, the American military has, for the most part, looked the other way, essentially because of the belief that the warlords can deliver the Taliban and Al Qaeda. One senior N.G.O. official told me, "Everybody knows that the U.S. military has the drug lords on the payroll. We've put them back in power. It's gone so terribly wrong." (The Pentagon's Joseph Collins told me, "Counter-narcotics in Afghanistan has been a failure." Collins said that this year's crop was estimated to be the second largest on record. He added, however, that the Afghan government is planning to "redouble" its efforts on narcotics control, and that the Pentagon is "now putting more money into it for the first time"--seventy-three million dollars.)

The easy availability of heroin also represents a threat to the well-being of American troops. Since the fall of 2002, a number of active-duty and retired military and C.I.A. officials have told me about increasing reports of heroin use by American military personnel in Afghanistan, many of whom have been there for months, with few distractions. A former high-level intelligence officer told me that the problem wasn't the Special Forces or Army combat units who were active in the field but "the logistical guys"--the truck drivers and the food and maintenance workers who are stationed at the military's large base at Bagram, near Kabul. However, I was also told that there were concerns about heroin use within the Marines. The G.I.s assigned to Bagram are nominally confined to the base, for security reasons, but the drugs, the former intelligence officer said, were relayed to the users by local Afghans hired to handle menial duties. The Pentagon's senior leadership has a "head-in-the-sand attitude," he said. "There's no desire to expose it and get enforcement involved. This is hard shit," he added, speaking of heroin. The Pentagon, asked for comment, denied that there was concern about drug use at Bagram, but went on to acknowledge that "disciplinary proceedings were initiated against some U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan for suspected drug use." Asked separately about the allegations against marines, the Pentagon said that some marines had been removed from Afghanistan to face disciplinary proceedings, but blamed alcohol and marijuana rather than heroin.

The drug lords traditionally processed only hashish inside the Afghan borders, and shipped poppies to heroin-production plants in northern Pakistan and elsewhere. A senior U.N. narcotics official told me that in the past two years "most of the heroin has been processed in Afghanistan, as part of a plan to keep profits in-country." Only a fraction of what is produced in Afghanistan is used there, the officer said. Nonetheless, a U.S. government-relief official told me, the "biggest worry" is that the growth in local production will increase the risk of addiction among G.I.s. A former C.I.A. officer who served in Afghanistan also said that the agency's narcotics officials have been independently investigating military drug use.

Afghanistan is regaining the Bush Administration's attention, in part because the worsening situation in Iraq has increased the need for a foreign-policy success. State Department and intelligence officials who have worked in Kabul said that it is widely understood that Afghanistan's Presidential and parliamentary elections, which had already been rescheduled, must be held before the American Presidential elections, on November 2nd. The upside to the political timetable has been a new commitment of American reconstruction funds--more than two billion dollars, a fourfold increase over the previous year--for schools, clinics, and road construction in Afghanistan. Richard Clarke wrote in his memoir that initially the aid funds were "inadequate and slowly delivered," and far below the thirteen hundred and ninety dollars per capita that was spent in the first years of the rebuilding effort in Bosnia and the nearly twenty billion dollars now earmarked for Iraq. At one point in 2002, American aid funds for Afghanistan came to only fifty-two dollars per person. "Why are we getting aid money now?" the U.S. government-relief official said to me, with a laugh. "We've been asking for two years and no one in their right mind thought about getting all this."

In insisting on holding elections by the fall, the Administration is overriding the advice of many of its allies and continuing to bank heavily on Hamid Karzai. (As of this spring, an estimated ten per cent of eligible voters were registered.) Last week, the international conference in Berlin bolstered Karzai's regime, and his election prospects, by promising to provide more than four billion dollars in aid and low-cost loans in the next year--although that figure includes more than a billion dollars previously pledged. Half of the contributions came from the Bush Administration. Secretary of State Colin Powell praised Karzai for having turned Afghanistan from "a failed state, ruled by extremists and terrorists, to a free country with a growing economy and emerging democracy."

Nonetheless, in interviews for this article, Hamid Karzai was consistently depicted by others as unsure of himself and totally dependent on the United States for security and finances. One of Karzai's many antagonists is his own defense minister, Mohammed Fahim. Last year, the Bush Administration was privately given a memorandum by an Afghan official and American ally, warning that Fahim was working to undermine Karzai and would use his control over money from illegal businesses and customs revenue to do so. Fahim was also said to have recruited at least eighty thousand men into new militias.

The United States' continuing toleration of warlords such as Fahim and General Abdul Rashid Dostum--an alleged war criminal and gunrunner who, after being offered millions of dollars by Washington, helped defeat the Taliban in the fall of 2001--mystifies many who have long experience in Afghanistan. "Fahim and Dostum are part of the problem, and not the solution," said Milt Bearden, who ran the C.I.A.'s Afghan operations during the war with the Soviet Union. "These people have the clever gene and they can get us to do their fighting for them. They just lead us down the path," Bearden said. "How wonderful for them to have us knock off their opposition with American airplanes and Special Forces."

The wild card in the election planning may be the Taliban. The former Taliban foreign minister, Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, who spent months in American custody, has repeatedly offered to open a channel to the Taliban leadership for extended talks. "But the Administration only wants to get help in finding Osama bin Laden," a Democratic Senate aide said. "Its only concern is tactical information." Meanwhile, the Taliban's influence has grown throughout the south and east of Afghanistan, in defiance of--or, perhaps, because of--continued American air and ground assaults, which inevitably result in civilian casualties.

In an effort to strengthen Karzai, the American military command has tried to reduce its own reliance on some regional warlords. The most recent target was Ismail Khan, the popular independent governor of Herat, a large province in western Afghanistan, adjacent to Iran. Khan, a bitter enemy of the Taliban, supported the initial American invasion of Afghanistan after September 11th. He has since defied the central government and refuses to hand over to Kabul most of the tax and customs revenue. (Herat is an ancient trade center.) Kahn personifies how difficult it is for the U.S. to separate its enemies from its allies in Afghanistan. "If Mohammed Fahim is a government minister and Ismail Khan is a warlord," one American official told me, "you're abusing the language." The official's point was that Khan has provided better security and more stability for the local population than is found in other Afghan provinces, and international observers believe that he would probably win a provincial election. But he treats Herat as a private fiefdom, and has alarmed many in the Bush Administration with his vocal support of Iran; last fall, he was quoted as calling it "the best model of an Islamic country in the world."

One regional expert told me that Karzai--who was always apprehensive about Ismail Khan--raised the question of how to remove him last spring, during a brief visit by Donald Rumsfeld to Kabul. "He asked Rumsfeld for his support," the expert recalled. "Rumsfeld wished him good luck but said the United States could not get involved. So Karzai got cold feet." The issue was revisited again in February, a former C.I.A. consultant told me, by the American military command at Bagram. Sometime that month, the American command put out a request to its intelligence components for a new operational plan for Khan. The former C.I.A. consultant learned from within the intelligence community that there was agreement that Khan had to be neutralized. Asked what that meant, he said that he was told "Khan had to be eliminated--we've got to end his influence." (The Pentagon denied that there was such a plan.)

On March 21st, an armed conflict erupted in Herat between Khan's forces and those loyal to the central government. Accounts of what happened vary widely; it was not immediately clear who started what. According to an account by U.N. workers in Afghanistan, filed to headquarters in New York, tensions had been mounting between Khan and one of his bitter rivals, General Abdul Zaher Naibzadah, over control of the Afghan military's Herat garrison. Khan's son heard reports that there had been an assassination attempt on his father, and drove to the General's house, where Naibzadah's bodyguards gunned him down, along with others. According to the U.N. dispatch, Ismail Khan took violent revenge on his attackers, burning down the local headquarters of the Afghan militia and killing scores. Some press accounts put the death toll of the subsequent daylong battle at a hundred or more; other accounts, emanating from Kabul, said that fewer than two dozen were killed. The U.N. account included reports that a personal phone call from Karzai to Khan was necessary to defuse the situation. In the next days, a division of the Afghan National Army, sent by the central government, moved into Herat to restore order.

There is no evidence that the American commanders were involved in any attempt on Khan's life, the former C.I.A. consultant told me. But, according to some officials, Americans were attached to Afghan military units that were present in Herat. "We clearly had embedded American trainers and advisers with the Afghan troops," the consultant said. "They knew what was going on." The result, the U.N. reported, was that Khan "may become even more intractable in his dealing with the central government." The American-endorsed plan to challenge Khan's leadership and strengthen Karzai's national standing inside Afghanistan, it seemed, had served to make Khan a more determined enemy.

The U.S. government-relief official told me of spending weeks last year travelling through Afghanistan--including the south and the east, areas with few ties to the central government in Kabul. "They'd say, `We don't like the Taliban, but they did bring us security you haven't been able to give us,'" the official said. "They perceived that we were allied with the bad guys--the warlords--because of our war on terrorism." The official recalled being asked constantly about the American war in Iraq. "They were concerned about Iraq, and wanted to know, `Are you going to stay?' They remembered how we left"--after the American-sponsored defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. "They'd say, `You guys are going to leave us, like you did in 1992. If we had confidence in the staying power of America, we'd deal with you.'" The official concluded, "Iraq, in their mind, meant that America had bigger priorities."

One U.N. worker who is helping to prepare for elections in Afghanistan told me that American aid funds now headed into Afghanistan, whatever the Administration's motives, are essential for the country's future. "We've got a golden window of opportunity that will close on November 2nd." It's a cynical process, he added. "A key factor in holding the election will be the non-interference of the various drug-dealing warlords around the nation, and stemming the drug trade will not be a priority." The message he's getting from the warlords, the U.N. worker said, was that if the U.S. attempted a "hard and heavy" poppy-eradication program, the warlords would disrupt the elections.

The U.N. worker said that President Karzai was perceived as "a weak leader with very little street credibility." He told me that, again and again, when he met with village elders, as part of his work, "the old people say, `Hamid is a good man. He doesn't kill people. He doesn't steal things. He doesn't sell drugs. How could you possibly think he could be a leader of Afghanistan?'"

Posted by maximpost at 2:26 AM EDT
Saturday, 3 April 2004

Inquiry at Bank Looks at Accounts of Diplomats
As the F.B.I., banking regulators and a Congressional committee look more deeply into Saudi Arabian transactions at a Washington bank used widely by diplomats, a host of accounts controlled by representatives of several Mideast countries have also come under scrutiny, according to a person briefed on the investigations.
Investigators have been examining cash transactions in foreign accounts at the bank, Riggs National, especially those for Saudi Arabia, for possible connections to terrorist groups or money-laundering activities. Accounts controlled by diplomats from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman have been included in the inquiry as well, this person said. Saudi representatives said that investigators had told them that their Riggs accounts were not tainted.
In addition to the Middle Eastern accounts, a corporate account controlled by the president of the West African nation of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasago, is also being examined. Millions of dollars in money that regulators and the bank have identified as questionable have flowed through that account. It was opened under the name of a corporation called Otong, and money began moving through it as early as 1999, according to a regulatory report dated Jan. 30 that Riggs filed with federal regulators.
Although Riggs closed all of its Equatorial Guinean accounts in February, activity in accounts before then has drawn attention because Exxon Mobil, the oil giant, deposited about $300 million into Mr. Mbasago's personal Riggs accounts. Although Equatorial Guinea has struggled with poverty, its economy has grown sharply in recent years because of the discovery of large oil reserves there. Exxon Mobil is one of the country's biggest oil producers.
It is not clear whether money from Exxon Mobil found its way into the Otong account. Exxon Mobil and Equatorial Guinean officials could not be reached for comment.
Seven transactions in the Otong account from September 1999 to April 2002 that totaled about $11.5 million have drawn special scrutiny. A Riggs compliance officer told Riggs's own investigators last September that money in the Otong account came from overseas accounts that Mr. Mbasago had closed - an explanation that federal investigators have found unsatisfactory. Federal officials are looking into the possibility that money in the Otong account was used to bribe employees of American companies or involved the proceeds of political graft, according to an individual with direct knowledge of the investigation.
The role played by Equatorial Guinea's ambassador to the United States, Teodoro Biyogo Nsue, in the transfers is also being investigated.
Riggs has been cooperating with the F.B.I. investigation and regulatory examinations since the fall of 2002 and said it had not "willfully" violated any laws. "Riggs always cooperates with regulators and law enforcement officials, but Riggs has no indication that we are or ever were the target of an F.B.I. investigation," Adam Weiner, a spokesman for the bank, said.
The investigation was touched off by an examination of transactions at Riggs by Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and his wife, Princess Haifa, in 2002. At the time, F.B.I. officials were investigating whether money from the princess's accounts wound up in the pockets of two of the people involved in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The New York Times reported in late 2002 that the F.B.I. found no evidence that the money went to the hijackers. F.B.I. officials could not be reached for comment last night.
Saudi Arabia's possible financial sponsorship of terrorist groups has drawn close attention from law enforcement officials since the Sept. 11 attacks and the Riggs accounts initially drew attention as part of that inquiry, according to one federal investigator briefed on the inquiry.
A spokesman for the Saudi Arabian Embassy said that the "F.B.I. has repeatedly and as recently as a week ago informed the embassy that there were no concerns" now that the Saudi accounts at Riggs involved terrorist funds or the proceeds of money laundering.
Riggs closed all of its Saudi accounts in early March after it became concerned that the Saudis were not complying with tighter supervisory guidelines the bank imposed on all of its diplomatic accounts a year ago. A person briefed on the matter said that although activity in the accounts had quieted down last summer and fall, largely because Prince Bandar was in Saudi Arabia and Britain most of that time, unusual spikes in banking transactions began occurring again last winter, prompting the bank's action.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that regulators were examining $50 million in Saudi withdrawals from Riggs accounts, some in increments exceeding $1 million.
In addition to the F.B.I. investigation, Riggs is also being investigated by the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Governmental Affairs and by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the banking regulator for the Treasury Department.
In March of last year, the comptroller's office identified several areas where Riggs had fallen short in terms of complying with federal guidelines to combat money laundering. Its examiners were in the bank almost daily from last March until July. During that time, and since, the bank began instituting what it considered to be more stringent controls to combat money laundering at the bank, including the hiring of extra employees and specialists in fraud supervision, according to a long list of measures provided by Riggs.
Last July, the comptroller's office took the unusual step of imposing a strongly worded "consent order" on Riggs. The order, a public document, outlined the steps the bank needed to take to comply more fully with standards on laundering. But the comptroller's office continued to be disappointed by the steps Riggs was taking to tighten standards.
In March, the comptroller's office told the bank that it planned to designate it as a "troubled" institution, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents Riggs filed about two weeks ago. The bank may also face substantial fines. Designation as a troubled institution means that Riggs, a midsize concern with about $7 billion in assets, would no longer be able to appoint senior officials to manage its affairs without first securing regulatory approval.
Though there has been speculation on Wall Street that Riggs's woes may result in a forced sale of the bank, it is unlikely that regulators would push for such a sale. Regulators force the sale of a bank only when it is insolvent, has serious liquidity problems, or is designated as a criminal enterprise - conditions that do not apply to Riggs at this point.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
Not A Diversion
From the April 12 / April 19, 2004 issue: The war in Iraq has advanced the campaign against bin Ladenism.
by Reuel Marc Gerecht
04/12/2004, Volume 009, Issue 30
"I DON'T FAULT George Bush for doing too much in the war on terror, as some do. I believe that he's done too little and done some things that he didn't have to. When the focus of the war on terror was appropriately in Afghanistan and on breaking al Qaeda, President Bush shifted his focus to Iraq and to Saddam Hussein. He pushed away our allies at a time when we needed them the most. He hasn't pursued a strategy to win the hearts and minds of people around the world, and win the war of ideas against the radical ideology of Osama bin Laden."
So spoke Senator John Kerry on March 15. This could, of course, have been Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism chief, or Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, the former national security advisers who often do tandem "realist" critiques. Or it could have been Al Franken, the liberal comedian-turned-less-witty-broadcaster, or Patrick Buchanan, the standard-bearer of conservative blue-collar America. From the far left to the far right, a common theme has developed among those who opposed the Iraq war: The campaign against Saddam Hussein diverted us from the battle against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and beyond. Indeed, the invasion and occupation of Iraq has made, to quote Clarke, "America less secure and strengthen[ed] the broader radical Islamic-terrorist movement."
Of course, this view did not occur to all of the above before March 2003--if John Kerry actually believed back then that the war would imperil America's national security, then his vote for it was inexcusably reckless (Howard Dean's logic was at least impeccable). But retrospective clairvoyance, fortified by a good sense for the jugular, has won the day. If you can collapse the central pillar of the Bush war presidency, the odds are good that you can win in November. Politics aside, do these folks have a point? There are always unintended, adverse consequences to any military action. Could those from the Iraq war be the very ones that Clarke, the "realists," and the antiwar Democrats envision?
Not likely. Point by point, their case actually inverts the reality, often the history, of what has happened in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the rest of the Muslim Middle East. Let us start with the war in Afghanistan, before we get diverted by President Bush's preemptive campaign against Saddam Hussein.
THERE ARE CERTAINLY LEGITIMATE CRITICISMS of the way the administration fought the war in Afghanistan. This magazine made a few, with which the White House took issue. It shouldn't be that hard to see now--it really wasn't that hard to see then--that the Pentagon moved too slowly south, that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's fascination with "new-age" warfare, where very small deployments of special forces, reinforced with awesome air power and what the British used to call "tribal levies," slowed the campaign at critical points. The real issue was never whether the United States was going to get bogged down in an Afghan quagmire, as did the Soviets in the 1980s and the British (briefly) in 1842. Victory for America, once President Bush made the decision to invade and destroy the Taliban state, was never in doubt. The issue was whether we would rapidly fracture Taliban power in Kandahar and possibly catch al Qaeda in disarray. The military brass chose not to throw much manpower at southeastern Afghanistan, the area bin Laden knew best, and to which, it strongly appears, he withdrew. Doing so surely would have cost many U.S. soldiers their lives, but it probably would have increased the odds of catching Osama bin Laden, his number two, Ayman al Zawahiri, and their inner circle and families. It is impossible to say, however, by how much the odds would have improved. With the possible exception of the deep jungles of the Amazon, the southeastern border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan is the worst area imaginable to play a lethal version of hide and seek. You could pour tens of thousands of troops into that terrain and only marginally improve the chances of finding your target.
Which brings us to Iraq. The tactics used in Afghanistan were not predicated on an ensuing war in Mesopotamia. Rightly or wrongly, Rumsfeld likes "new-age" warfare, regardless of the locale. There simply is no serious argument that the actions of the first campaign were diminished by the planning, logistics, and execution of the second a year later.
There is a pretty good case to be made that in 2001-02 the Bush administration didn't seriously pressure Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf to understand the urgent need to move aggressively against the unpatrolled tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. But again, that had nothing to do with Iraq, and everything to do with internal Pakistani politics. And America's second Gulf War certainly did not discourage Musharraf from becoming more aggressive against domestic and foreign holy warriors in 2003-04. It beggars the imagination to believe that al Qaeda's foreign holy warriors and their Pakistani sympathizers want to kill Musharraf for the war in Iraq more than they want to kill him for the war in Afghanistan and his current efforts to extinguish them and their Pakistani base of operations.
It is certainly true, as Clarke and others have charged, that the Bush administration should have done, and still should do, a lot more in reconstructing Afghanistan and in aiding those who want to reform, and eventually end, the warlord system that prevails outside of the capital, Kabul. The holy-warrior camps in Afghanistan that General Musharraf and his predecessors developed for the battle against India in Kashmir--the camps that starting in 1996 came under the control of bin Laden--could come back, particularly if there were a change of heart in Islamabad. If the Bush administration allowed this to develop--and this scenario remains hypothetical--then it would deserve to be damned for shortsightedness and gross negligence. But in the Pentagon, at the State Department, and in the National Security Council, they are well aware of the dangers. It is very hard to see this administration, any administration after 9/11, not doing the minimum necessary to keep Afghanistan from experiencing a Taliban renaissance where jihadist camps could operate.
Let's be honest: It was perfectly clear that the Bush administration was not going to invest massively in Afghanistan way before the White House made the decision to fight in Iraq (it strongly appears that former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill actually doesn't know anybody at Defense, for if he did, he would know, as we did, that the decision to fight in Iraq was neither quick nor easy nor foreordained). As Olivier Roy, the renowned French scholar of Afghanistan and Islamic militancy, has pointed out, the average Afghan certainly wanted us to play the khan, the overlord who takes care of the family. But this runs against the American grain, be it liberal or conservative. Wipe the Iraq war from history, and it remains hard to imagine Secretary Rumsfeld, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State Colin Powell, or President Al Gore if he were in power, putting tens of thousands of troops and tens of billions of dollars into a country that is, in virtually every way, nondeveloped. It is easy, and maybe wise, to throw large amounts of money and manpower at a developed or even developing country after it's been blown to bits by years of war and civil strife. It is much more difficult, and far less wise, to invest too quickly and too massively in a place like Afghanistan.
Baseline point: The Americans aren't going to run away from Afghanistan--odds are we will be in that country for far longer than we will be, in any force, in Iraq. With a little luck, a bit more money and manpower, and a willingness to play hardball with Pakistan in case it returns to its former ways, Afghanistan will muddle through. Certainly, we won't want to use it as an ideal case study at a Harvard seminar on American-led postwar reconstruction in the third world. But it will do. And by the time we leave, it will be perfectly clear to both Democrats and Republicans that neither the time nor the money the United States spent in Afghanistan had much to do at all with George Bush's decision to invade and occupy Iraq.
NEXT CRITICISM: What about our allies, the ones critical to our war on terror, whom we've angered and dissed? Have we not, as General Scowcroft predicted in August 2002 and as Senator Kerry regularly reminds us from the stump, just shot to hell the international system? As Scowcroft wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "And make no mistake, we simply cannot win that war [against bin Laden] without enthusiastic international cooperation, especially on intelligence." According to the Washington Post, Rand Beers, who was President Bush's senior director for counterterrorism, resigned just before the Iraq war because he thought the president's decision to invade had, among other things, "created fissures in the United States' counterterrorism alliances."
Okay, name an important intelligence service in the Middle East that doesn't have a stronger liaison relationship with the United States today than it had on, say, the day after Kandahar fell? Though the Central Intelligence Agency likes to think of itself as an airtight shop, we all know, given what's happened since the end of the Iraq war, that unhappy employees who don't get the foreign policies they prefer leak. And the senior grades of the Clandestine Service in particular love to leak, especially via their retired friends, when they are upset. Can anybody recall, even in the vaguest way, a planted story about anti-al Qaeda operations getting aborted because an Arab service didn't want to touch us?
Anybody hear about the French DST (internal security) or the DGSE (foreign intelligence) turning off a spigot of information about Islamic extremists? According to a senior French intelligence officer, the first and principal exchange point for the United States and continental European security services is Paris. Does this sound like the French elite (which really would like to see George Bush get demolished in Iraq and John Kerry elected) has a problem with intelligence cooperation? Anybody heard of any problems with the Spanish, who just got scorched, so the theory goes, because of their alliance with us in Iraq? How about the Russians, Pakistanis, Uzbeks, or Chinese?
A pretty good argument could be made that we would be better off if the CIA didn't have such friendly relationships with its counterparts in Tashkent, Cairo, Islamabad, or Algiers; that the short-term gain from these relationships, though undoubtedly vital at times of great urgency, fundamentally compromises us in the long-term and ultimately more important task of opening up these societies so that domestically generated Islamic extremism doesn't attack us. In any case, our intelligence and security liaison relationships have never been better. For our Middle Eastern "allies" in particular, it's as if they'd died and gone to heaven. The CIA, often more accurately addressed as Sugar Daddy, has never before come calling with so many gifts. Egypt's president-for-life Hosni Mubarak, who would strongly prefer that the United States not create a functioning democracy in Iraq, knows that his intelligence-liaison relationship with the United States is an ace in the hole. That fraternal tie will certainly stay warm as long as Mubarak thinks there's a chance that President Bush might be serious about transforming the dictatorial politics of the Middle East.
NEXT CRITICISM: George Bush's war in Iraq has inflamed Islamic opinion, radicalized more Muslim youth, and created a new legion of anti-American holy warriors. This is probably the most damning, if the most ethereal, of the charges against President Bush. Odds are, this will be the charge that Senator Kerry and his minions hurl most often at the president (the possible exception being the gravamen that George W. has neglected homeland defense).
Now, the first thing that ought to be said is that we really don't know how many jihadists got born during the first Bush presidency and the eight years of Bill Clinton. Al Qaeda slowly evolved from the Maktab al-Khadamat ("The Office of Services"), an organization started during the Soviet-Afghan War to transport Muslims, primarily Arabs, to Pakistan to join the battle against the Red Army. We really don't know how many Muslims went. If one tracks down the figures for the Maktab, all one can say for sure is that the sources on the numbers are all Pakistani and that Pakistani sources are notoriously unreliable. We have no firm idea how many of the Muslims who did go actually ever crossed into Afghanistan and fought, or how many of them stayed in Pakistan, living lives often more comfortable than those they'd had at home. (This was particularly true when it came to having wives. The cult of the Afghan woman--and there were hundreds of thousands of Afghan women in distress in Pakistan during the war--was very popular among the "jihadists.") And it is difficult to say precisely when al Qaeda became an independent, self-conscious organization developing anti-American holy warriors. This may have happened as early as 1989, or it could have been only two or three years later that a real organization developed with a clear raison d'?tre and a full-time staff.
The afterword of Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon's The Age of Sacred Terror, which is easily the best book about the rise of bin Ladenism and the Clinton administration's response to it, tells us the following: "U.S. officials have spoken of 'tens of thousands' of individuals who were trained in the camps of Afghanistan, and Germany's intelligence chief put the number at seventy thousand, though many were trained as soldiers to fight alongside the Taliban, not as terrorists. Still the number of operatives at large is probably multiples greater than that on any other terrorist group in memory."
Benjamin and Simon were once the director and senior director for counterterrorism in the Clinton administration's National Security Council, and they, too, are highly critical of the Bush administration. I strongly suspect the numbers above are grossly exaggerated. When I visited Ahmed Shah Massoud, the legendary Tajik leader of the Northern Alliance, in the fall of 1999, he told me that he was then facing around 700 Arab Afghans. This figure fluctuated a bit, perhaps, but the Taliban never deployed more than 1,000 Arab Afghans against him.
But, for the sake of argument, let's accept the numbers suggested by Benjamin and Simon. In other words, during the eight years of Bill Clinton's presidency, when the United States studiously avoided invading Iraq, the number of Islamic holy warriors fully formed in the Afghan training camps skyrocketed. Let us recall these were the glory years of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, when the president often worked night and day to bring conciliation and settlement to the two sides. These were the years, too, when the Americans went to the rescue of the Bosnian Muslims. And these were the times when President Clinton tried to make nice-nice with President Mohammad Khatami of Iran (of course, Sunni Muslim holy warriors might not care for this too much; but since bin Laden knew he hadn't blown up the American barracks at Khobar Towers in 1996, and since his contacts inside the Saudi royal family were pretty good, he might have drawn the right conclusion when the Clinton administration didn't retaliate against the real perpetrator of the Khobar bombing, the regime in Tehran--to wit, Clinton wasn't tough).
So, during the best of years--or at least, according to Clarke and Kerry, vastly better years than what followed--al Qaeda grew from scratch to an umbrella organization, drawing into its apocalyptic designs holy warriors from the Middle East, America, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and the Orient. These were the years when bin Laden promised the faithful that they, not the Americans, were the "stronger horse."
And now, according to the "realists" and antiwar Democrats, the Bush administration has made things worse. It's theoretically possible, of course. It's possible the Clinton years were less energizing to the enemy than the Bush years, when the Taliban were destroyed, bin Laden was put to chase, and al Qaeda as an organization was badly battered. It is possible that America's invasion and (temporary) occupation of Iraq will galvanize holy warriors as did the first Gulf War for an earlier generation. Professor Bernard Lewis's textual analysis showing that bin Laden used the first Gulf War as a clarion call for holy war is undeniable. (And was not the first Gulf War worth angering Islamic militants?)
But we should be enormously cautious in suggesting, as Bush's critics eagerly do, that apocalyptic holy warriors come into being primarily because of specific American actions. We know this is certainly not true for the deadliest of the Wahhabi jihadists--the highly Westernized ones reared or educated in Western Europe. These men are born from their troubled assimilation into Europe's secularized societies. And killer Sunni fundamentalism predates the first Gulf War by decades. Its evolution is attached to no specific Western event--certainly not to the creation of Israel, which in fundamentalist literature is just one more proof, a particularly painful proof since Jews are among the weakest of people in Islamic history, that civilization has gone to hell. But the primary culprits for this fall are not Europeans or Americans--"Christendom," to the fundamentalists. Christendom has been there, in one shape or another, since the beginning of the Islamic era. The real villains, according to the first few generations of fundamentalists, are the Muslims who ape Western ways. The new breed of Muslim activists, the killer elite of bin Laden's deracinated young men who know not love of country or father, have elevated the old disgust at the despotic Westernizing rulers of the Middle East--the men many "realists" still see as our friends--into a global hatred of the West and its cutting edge, the United States. These young men were coming for us, regardless of whether the Bush administration invaded Iraq. Or whether the Clinton administration quarantined and bombed Iraq for eight years. They live to kill. The most devout live to die. It is not surprising at all that Americans, particularly those who work in Washington, who are mostly good secular sorts, view so mundanely the causes of holy war.
On the biggest of issues, Benjamin and Simon are definitely right: "Democratization, however hazardous and unpredictable the process may be, is the key to eliminating sacred terror over the long term." Which is why, of course, the war in Iraq--the attempt to build a democracy on the ruins of the Middle East's most despicable regime--has been worth the blood and treasure. There were many reasons to go to war; as Robert Kagan and William Kristol recently pointed out in these pages, President Clinton and his national security adviser Sandy Berger did a very convincing job of enumerating them in their finest speeches. But a compelling reason, even if it is not one that many in the Bush administration fully understand, was bin Ladenism itself and the need to strike boldly to give us, and Muslims in the Middle East, a way out.
We should be skeptical of those voices who tell us that success in Iraq won't have serious repercussions for the rest of the Middle East (the same voices that are usually quick to point out the adverse effects of failure). The trial of Saddam Hussein, in whom many Muslims of the Middle East will see the image of their own rulers, will make gripping television, even on the anti-American Al Jazeera satellite channel. Iraq's coming great debates, for all the country's enormous problems and attendant violence, will echo through the region on television and radio. The Sunni Arabs of the region will watch Shiite Arabs, long cursed creatures, moving forward, however fitfully and slowly, toward more democracy than they themselves have ever imagined. The shame could be unbearably provocative. The now famous letter to al Qaeda from Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian holy warrior operating in Iraq, tells, we can hope, the future of the entire region. Jihadism cannot survive people power. When the common Muslim man is responsible for his own fate, human decency and civility will win out.
The liberal Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl, who writes often on the Arab world, recently provided the most honest description of what George W. Bush has wrought in the Middle East:
The most underreported and encouraging story in the Middle East in the past year has been the emergence in public of homegrown civic movements demanding political change. Two years ago they were nonexistent or in jail. Now they are out in the open even in the most politically backward places in the region: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. They are made up not only of intellectuals but of businessmen, women, students, teachers, and journalists. Unlike their governments--and the old school of U.S. and European Arabists--they don't believe that change should be gradual, and they reject the dictators' claim that democracy would only empower Islamic extremists. It is the delay of change, they say, that is increasingly dangerous.
These people weren't created by George W. Bush. They are the homegrown answer to a decadent political order, and they ride a powerful historical current. But they will tell you frankly: The new U.S. democratization policy, far from being an unwanted imposition, has given them a voice, an audience and at least a partial shield against repression--three things they didn't have one year ago.
These words are the best retort to Richard Clarke and John Kerry. But we have no time to waste. Under any circumstances, building democracy in the Muslim Middle East will be slow. And bin Ladenism is a resilient, captivating disease. We should pray, however, that it will not take generations. It certainly won't happen at all if the Bush administration pulls back from its "forward strategy of freedom." Voluntary change in the Middle East is no change at all. But we are off to a good beginning. The war on terror had, thank God, a second act. We will all have to wait until after November to see if there will be a third. Everyone in the Middle East, but especially the holy warriors, will be watching.
Reuel Marc Gerecht is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.

? Copyright 2004, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.
No Longer a 'Problem'
Clarke, Condi and the wars of September 11.
Friday, April 2, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST
From the moment the September 11 commission was authorized, the only important question was when it would propitiate the media gods. That moment has arrived. We have finally reduced the entire story of September 11, as always, to heroes and villains, winners and losers.
Richard Clarke divined how our system elevates its heroes. He extruded his long, honorable career through layers of major media--Simon & Schuster, CBS and then the Barnum & Bailey big-top of televised hearings. For a week, he became the man of the moment.
Now in another propitiation, Condoleezza Rice will go before the commission in the role the gods have ordained: Prove in public that neither she nor her colleagues in the Bush presidency are knaves who make policy in cynical disregard of truth or evidence. When this exercise is over, we will know very little important about September 11 that we didn't know on September 12.
Recall the famous phrase, "September 11 changed everything." What that meant is that September 11 changed the American mind about terror. That day, though awful, was of a piece with the radicalized Arab policy of annihilating civilians that began at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Across three decades, the West has "lived with" terror. Every now and then, some people died. However willing old Europe was to endure this occasional cost, Americans as of September 2001 were not. After September 11 the president of the United States declared war on terror. He then established the fact of war, not merely the sentiment of war, by defeating the Taliban and Saddam Hussein with armies.
What we had before September 11 was not a war. It was a problem. Wars have common goals and many offensive acts. Problems are open to constant debate, reducing acts. This distinction is crucial to understanding what many think is the September 11 commission's stated mandate: Why did the nation's security bureaucracies "fail" to prevent the attack?
All of the agencies under the commission's microscope--the CIA, the FBI, Defense, State Department and the NSC--are, no matter how elevated their titles, public bureaucracies. If you read the commission's already published papers--on diplomacy, the military, intelligence policy and national policy coordination--the shape of what happened becomes clear.
These are smart fiefdoms. They have their own opinions, all the time, about a host of factors--legal, political, operational--bearing on their work. It is always difficult outside the context of a war to sustain on-point bureaucratic compliance with a goal. The problem is not that these bureaucracies are incompetent. They are unfocused because they answer to several authorities--the president, Congress, their budget, the bureaucracy itself, their boss down the hall.
Read the commission's paper on national security coordination and the Clinton team's anti-terror planning that was led by Richard Clarke. It sounds well-intended and aware of the threat from al Qaeda. But consider just the authors' description of the hierarchy of advisory bodies to the NSC.
There is the National Security Council, "the formal statutory body," chaired by the president. Then "the Principals Committee, with cabinet-level representatives from agencies. . . . Next is the Deputies Committee, where the deputy agency heads meet under the chairmanship of the deputy national security advisor. Lower ranking officials meet in many other working groups or coordinating committees, reporting to the deputies, and, through them, to the principals."
The staff documents are replete with examples of bureaucratic concern and argument. There is nothing insidious in this. It is the nature of large, modern organizations. Agencies execute policy subject to myriad constraints imposed on any public bureaucracy. Amid the rubble and death of a September 11, it is everyone's instinct to say these agencies should have been focused on the problem laserlike and 24/7. That has never been and never will be--short of war.
Richard Clarke, for all his reputation as a bull in the bureaucracy's china shop, clearly thinks Mr. Bush's declared war was a mistake. He and others would let the world's security bureaucracies "work the problem." But over 30 years, an entire industry had grown up to work the terrorism problem. Abu Nidal and Carlos the Jackal were household names. And still the destruction of embassies, hotels, ships and finally skyscrapers continued.
After Mr. Bush's September declaration of war, the bureaucracies focused and functioned magnificently from Afghanistan to Baghdad. Policy moved out of the agency mists, Mr. Clarke's world, and was now in the realm of public and political consensus. It had the backing of the American people. Even bureaucracies understand esprit.
But that run from Kabul to Baghdad was a brief, shining moment. The future is less clear. Successful wars require national unity, in part to energize and focus the bureaucracies. The U.S., however, is at a point in its history when no subject--nothing--is immune to partisan disunity. What existed after September 11 is broken.
Unbending partisanship may be an American entitlement now, and Howard Dean exercised it this week in the wake of Fallujah and U.S. casualties in Iraq. "That is the legacy of this president," Mr. Dean told a dinner for the hopefully named 21st Century Democrats, "who did not tell the truth to the American people." But if we are as concerned as we say about preventing another September 11, we should understand the price of our indulgences. In a world in which the know-how to produce missile delivery systems and nuclear and biological weapons will soon be commoditized, you should want your bureaucratic warriors to be on a war-like footing. Assuming that they always are is foolish. Like the Supreme Court, bureaucracies follow the election returns. Their attention can revert to the norm.
This is not an argument against dissent and disagreement. It is an argument that George Bush's declaration of war on terror, including Iraq, is more right than it is wrong. The more we step down from that war, the closer we and our bureaucracies will return to the vulnerabilities that led to September 11.
Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Fridays in the Journal and on

April 3, 2004 -- WE sometimes assume 9/11 inaugurated a brand new foreign- policy debate. If we see any precedents at all, we find them in the Cold War, the last time the United States faced a mortal threat and national security defined the two parties. The 1990s, by contrast, seem like a lull between two storms, an interlude whose relatively trivial foreign policy concerns were rendered obsolete when the World Trade Center fell.
But this isn't really true. In the '90s, both parties crafted visions of the world that 9/11 ratified. In many ways, Democrats and Republicans are engaged in the same debate today as they were a decade ago. All that has changed are the stakes.
When the Cold War ended, some Republicans decided the United States should turn inward. But isolationism, while prevalent at the GOP grassroots, never captured the party leadership. Pat Buchanan challenged George H.W. Bush in 1992 and Bob Dole in 1996, but control of the party remained in the hands of relative internationalists like Dole, Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott and, ultimately, George W. Bush.
These men believed the job of U.S. foreign policy was to figure out which states would threaten the United States in the future and to head them off - a job from which Bill Clinton's humanitarian adventures distracted. Sometimes GOP leaders imagined China as the new threat; sometimes they imagined "rogue" states like Iran, Iraq, Syria and North Korea. In either case, the Cold War was the template - America's relationship with hostile regimes would define the new era.
As a result, when Islamic terrorists began striking the United States in the '90s, Republicans talked about them not as an independent force, but as the outgrowth of hostile regimes. "Terrorist states have made a comeback during Bill Clinton's administration," claimed the 1996 GOP platform.
In January 2000, when Condoleezza Rice outlined the Bush campaign's international agenda for Foreign Affairs, she mentioned "the threat of rogue regimes and hostile powers, which is increasingly taking the forms of the potential for terrorism." In "Against All Enemies," Richard Clarke recounts telling Rice and her deputy, Steve Hadley, that his anti- terrorism office dealt with "post-Cold War security, not focused just on nation-state threats." It was a portfolio, he remembers, that they seemed to consider "strange."
In the Democratic Party, however, the '90s brought a different perspective. If "the economy, stupid" began as a statement about domestic policy, it gradually became a prism for international affairs.
Clinton identified globalization-the increased economic, technological, and cultural integration of the world - as his administration's central challenge. And, as he knew from his struggles to please the international bond market, globalization made governments weaker than ever before.
When terrorism hit the United States in the '90s, it became the foremost example of globalization's "dark side." In a 1999 interview with The New York Times, Clinton argued that terrorism was a threat not only distinct from rogue states, but greater than them.
In the Democratic rejoinder to Rice, in the March 2000 issue of Foreign Affairs, former Clinton officials W. Bowman Cutter, Joan Spero and Laura D'Andrea Tyson argued that "traditional security threats" were giving way to "nonterritorial" problems "like international terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking and environmental degradation." For his part, John Kerry in 1997 authored "The New War," in which he argued the United States should "lead the world in the fight against 'private' criminal enterprises just as we led the world in the fight against 'public' criminal governments."
By 9/11, in other words, both parties had already assimilated terrorism into a broader view of the world. Two weeks after the attacks, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote that "the overriding aim of the war on terrorism is changing regimes."
In his first post-9/11 State of the Union, in a clear echo of Ronald Reagan's reference to the "evil empire," Bush spoke of an "axis of evil" comprising Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
Democrats saw things differently. They supported the war in Afghanistan. But they considered it a war against a terrorist organization that had hijacked a state, not against a government using terrorism as a means of state power. And, in their broader statements, party leaders made it clear they still regarded terrorism as largely independent of governments, not the expression of them - which predisposed them to see Iraq as a diversion. As Kerry put it in February, "The agents of terrorism work and lurk in the shadows of sixty nations."
Republicans say the difference between the two parties is that the GOP wants to wage a war, while Democrats simply want to run police operations. But that's not quite right. Kerry, and many other Democrats, urged the Bush administration to use force more aggressively to destroy al Qaeda remnants in the final days of the Afghan war.
The Bush team, by contrast, seemed to grow militarily complacent after the Taliban was overthrown. Relieved that Afghanistan was no longer a rogue state, the Bushies seemed relatively untroubled that it was no longer much of a state at all.
The distinction between the two parties isn't over military force per se; it's over whether to use military force - and every other tool of U.S. power - primarily against terrorist-supporting states or against terrorists operating independently of states.
For the GOP, the war on terrorism will be won - in an echo of 1989 - by toppling regimes. Not all the regimes will fall to U.S. tanks, but the Iraqi demonstration effect, combined with moral clarity and political pressure, will eventually bring the dominoes down.
I hope they're right. But, even if they are, their model won't win the war on terrorism. As we're learning in Iraq (and, for that matter, in parts of the former Soviet Union like Uzbekistan and Chechnya), toppling dictatorships doesn't necessarily usher in democracy and, thus, doesn't necessarily stop terrorism.
Ironically, the more success Republicans have in overthrowing rogue regimes, the more terrorism will become the nongovernmental force Democrats say it is. And the more the United States will have to focus on globalization's "dark side": anarchic states plagued by ethnic conflict, economic dysfunction, loose weapons and al Qaeda - in other words, pretty much what we're facing in Iraq.
Far from being irrelevant, the '90s are likely to be with us for a very long time.
Peter Beinart is editor of The New Republic. From the April 12 & 19 double issue

Al Qaeda-Hizballah Bomb Team on Amman Revenge Mission for Hamas
DEBKAfile Special Report
April 2, 2004, 6:31 PM (GMT+02:00)
Meridien-Amman - targeted for terror
The building in the picture, the five-star Le Meridien Hotel, in the Shmeisani district of Amman, walking distance from the Hussein sports center and the Palace of Culture, was projected for reduction to charred rubble Friday, April 2 by a joint Hizballah-al Qaeda bomb team. This is revealed by DEBKAfile's exclusive counter-terror sources. But part of that team was captured by Jordanian forces as it entered the kingdom from Syria at the Rahmtha crossing Wednesday, March 31, driving a suspicious looking pickup truck found on examination to be loaded with hundreds of kilos of explosives. The four detainees, questioned at Jordanian army security headquarters in Amman, soon gave them game away. They also disclosed that another one or two explosives-laden trucks with the rest of the terror team had managed to slip into Jordan before them and was at large - whereupon the royal security forces shot into pursuit mode and placed armed guards on the palaces, the US and Israeli embassies and strategic sites.
Amid the hue and cry, King Abdullah put in calls to the United States and Israel to report the captured terrorists had also divulged they were on their way to carry out a mega-strike against at least two hotels and a large Amman shopping mall to avenge Israel's killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in the Gaza Strip on March 22.
The al Qaeda-Hizballah terrorist plot would have left several hundreds of people dead in Amman - a catastrophe several times greater than the Madrid train bombings. According to our Jordanian sources, the captured terrorists claimed that because the Hamas, Hizballah and al Qaeda were prevented thus far from carrying out a mass-casualty attack in any Israeli city by its heavy security build-up, they opted from the Jordanian capital as target. Initial input from the Jordanian inquiry has been relayed to Washington and Jerusalem.
The terrorists driving the missing truck or trucks were to have rendezvoused at an unknown location with a second team of fellow al Qaeda operatives who were to have collected the explosives and used them for suicide car bombings inside Amman. The truck seized at the border was to have blown up Le Meridien.
DEBKAfile's military sources add: the Jordanian army, police and security services have been on high alert for three days, special units reinforcing security at the royal palaces and for heads of government and economy. Royal Air Force craft are swooping up and down the kingdom hoping to spot the missing bomb vehicles and terrorists before they gain access to any Jordanian town. First thing Thursday, April 1, when they had still not been located, the king telephoned Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah in Riyadh and Hosni Mubarak in Sharm el Sheikh with bitter recriminations against Syrian President Bashar Assad for failing to avert the attempted assault on his capital city. He said the trucks could not have been packed with explosives on the outskirts of Damascus and then set off for the Jordanian frontier without the knowledge of Syrian military intelligence. Indeed, the captured terrorists admitted they had been assured they would not be bothered at the Syrian border crossing because the border guards had been told not to search the trucks.
Then and there, to avoid the embarrassment of shaking hands with the accused Syrian leader, the Egyptian president ordered their meeting later that morning to be cancelled. In case Assad turned up anyway, Mubarak took to the air and flew out of the Sinai resort to Cairo.
Had the Le Meridien Hotel hit been achieved on behalf of Hamas, DEBKAfile's counter-terror sources sketch the resulting scenario:

1. Hamas would have claimed its vow to avenge its dead leader vindicated with the help of forces outside the country.

2. The pick-up truck or trucks still loose might still strike an Israeli target such as the Israeli embassy in Amman or an Israeli-Jordanian factory in the kingdom.

3. Jordan would carry the brand of the most loyal ally of America and Israel in the Middle East.

4. Even though the Hamas had no direct role in the operation, its leaders would claim that its reach had crossed national Palestinian borders and the movement was now part of the al Qaeda-Hizballah terrorist network in the Middle East and beyond.

Jordanian media named the notorious al Qaeda operative Musab Zarqawi as the suspected mastermind of the attempted al Qaeda-Hizballah Hamas mega-strike in Amman. DEBKAfile's terror experts note that the familiar al Qaeda names bandied about after every terrorist action belong to the fundamentalist network's command level current until the end of 2002. They are yesterday's men. A new generation has meanwhile risen from the middle ranks whose names are unknown. Their anonymity has become the biggest obstacle facing Western intelligence in fighting or predicting al Qaeda actions. Zarqawi is a Jordanian himself and still active, but it is hardly credible that one man is capable of wreaking devastation over a short period in Baghdad, Karbala, Irbil, Madrid, Amman, Istanbul and every other world site targeted for terror.


lookout by Naomi Klein

Let's Make Enemies
[from the April 19, 2004 issue]

QUOT-Do you have any rooms?" we ask the hotelier.

She looks us over, dwelling on my travel partner's bald, white head.

"No," she replies.

We try not to notice that there are sixty room keys in pigeonholes behind her desk--the place is empty.

"Will you have a room soon? Maybe next week?"

She hesitates. "Ahh... No."

We return to our current hotel--the one we want to leave because there are bets on when it is going to get hit--and flick on the TV: The BBC is showing footage of Richard Clarke's testimony before the September 11 Commission, and a couple of pundits are arguing about whether invading Iraq has made America safer.
They should try finding a hotel room in this city, where the US occupation has unleashed a wave of anti-American rage so intense that it now extends not only to US troops, occupation officials and their contractors but also to foreign journalists, aid workers, their translators and pretty much anyone else associated with the Americans. Which is why we couldn't begrudge the hotelier her decision: If you want to survive in Iraq, it's wise to stay the hell away from people who look like us. (We thought about explaining that we were Canadians, but all the American reporters are sporting the maple leaf--that is, when they aren't trying to disappear behind their newly purchased headscarves.)
US occupation chief Paul Bremer hasn't started wearing a hijab yet, and is instead tackling the rise of anti-Americanism with his usual foresight. Baghdad is blanketed with inept psy-ops organs like Baghdad Now, filled with fawning articles about how Americans are teaching Iraqis about press freedom. "I never thought before that the Coalition could do a great thing for the Iraqi people," one trainee is quoted saying. "Now I can see it on my eyes what they are doing good things for my country and the accomplishment they made. I wish my people can see that, the way I see it."
Unfortunately, the Iraqi people recently saw another version of press freedom when Bremer ordered US troops to shut down a newspaper run by supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr. The militant Shiite cleric has been preaching that Americans are behind the attacks on Iraqi civilians and condemning the interim constitution as a "terrorist law." So far, al-Sadr has refrained from calling on his supporters to join the armed resistance, but many here are predicting that the closing down of the newspaper--a nonviolent means of resisting the occupation--was just the push he needed. But then, recruiting for the resistance has always been a specialty of the Presidential Envoy to Iraq: Bremer's first act after being tapped by Bush was to fire 400,000 Iraqi soldiers, refuse to give them their rightful pensions but allow them to hold on to their weapons--in case they needed them later.
While US soldiers were padlocking the door of the newspaper's office, I found myself at what I thought would be an oasis of pro-Americanism, the Baghdad Soft Drinks Company. On May 1 this bottling plant will start producing one of the most powerful icons of American culture: Pepsi-Cola. I figured that if there was anyone left in Baghdad willing to defend the Americans, it would be Hamid Jassim Khamis, the Baghdad Soft Drinks Company's managing director. I was wrong.
"All the trouble in Iraq is because of Bremer," Khamis told me, flanked by a line-up of thirty Pepsi and 7-Up bottles. "He didn't listen to Iraqis. He doesn't know anything about Iraq. He destroyed the country and tried to rebuild it again, and now we are in chaos."
These are words you would expect to hear from religious extremists or Saddam loyalists, but hardly from the likes of Khamis. It's not just that his Pepsi deal is the highest-profile investment by a US multinational in Iraq's new "free market." It's also that few Iraqis supported the war more staunchly than Khamis. And no wonder: Saddam executed both of his brothers and Khamis was forced to resign as managing director of the bottling plant in 1999 after Saddam's son Uday threatened his life. When the Americans overthrew Saddam, "You can't imagine how much relief we felt," he says.
After the Baathist plant manager was forced out, Khamis returned to his old job. "There is a risk doing business with the Americans," he says. Several months ago, two detonators were discovered in front of the factory gates. And Khamis is still shaken from an attempted assassination three weeks ago. He was on his way to work when he was carjacked and shot at, and there was no doubt that this was a targeted attack; one of the assailants was heard asking another, "Did you kill the manager?"
Khamis used to be happy to defend his pro-US position, even if it meant arguing with friends. But one year after the invasion, many of his neighbors in the industrial park have gone out of business. "I don't know what to say to my friends anymore," he says. "It's chaos."
His list of grievances against the occupation is long: corruption in the awarding of reconstruction contracts, the failure to stop the looting, the failure to secure Iraq's borders--both from foreign terrorists and from unregulated foreign imports. Iraqi companies, still suffering from the sanctions and the looting, have been unable to compete.
Most of all, Khamis is worried about how these policies have fed the country's unemployment crisis, creating far too many desperate people. He also notes that Iraqi police officers are paid less than half what he pays his assembly line workers, "which is not enough to survive." The normally soft-spoken Khamis becomes enraged when talking about the man in charge of "rebuilding" Iraq. "Paul Bremer has caused more damage than the war, because the bombs can damage a building but if you damage people there is no hope."
I have gone to the mosques and street demonstrations and listened to Muqtada al-Sadr's supporters shout "Death to America, Death to the Jews," and it is indeed chilling. But it is the profound sense of betrayal expressed by a pro-US businessman running a Pepsi plant that attests to the depths of the US-created disaster here. "I'm disappointed, not because I hate the Americans," Khamis tells me, "but because I like them. And when you love someone and they hurt you, it hurts even more."
When we leave the bottling plant in late afternoon, the streets of US-occupied Baghdad are filled with al-Sadr supporters vowing bloody revenge for the attack on their newspaper. A spokesperson for Bremer is defending the decision on the grounds that the paper "was making people think we were out to get them."
A growing number of Iraqis are certainly under that impression, but it has far less to do with an inflammatory newspaper than with the inflammatory actions of the US occupation authority. As the June 30 "handover" approaches, Paul Bremer has unveiled a slew of new tricks to hold on to power long after "sovereignty" has been declared.
Some recent highlights: At the end of March, building on his Order 39 of last September, Bremer passed yet another law further opening up Iraq's economy to foreign ownership, a law that Iraq's next government is prohibited from changing under the terms of the interim constitution. Bremer also announced the establishment of several independent regulators, which will drastically reduce the power of Iraqi government ministries. For instance, the Financial Times reports that "officials of the Coalition Provisional Authority said the regulator would prevent communications minister Haider al-Abadi, a thorn in the side of the coalition, from carrying out his threat to cancel licenses the coalition awarded to foreign-managed consortia to operate three mobile networks and the national broadcaster."
The CPA has also confirmed that after June 30, the $18.4 billion the US government is spending on reconstruction will be administered by the US Embassy in Iraq. The money will be spent over five years and will fundamentally redesign Iraq's most basic infrastructure, including its electricity, water, oil and communications sectors, as well as its courts and police. Iraq's future governments will have no say in the construction of these core sectors of Iraqi society. Retired Rear Adm. David Nash, who heads the Project Management Office, which administers the funds, describes the $18.4 billion as "a gift from the American people to the people of Iraq." He appears to have forgotten the part about gifts being something you actually give up. And in the same eventful week, US engineers began construction on fourteen "enduring bases" in Iraq, capable of housing the 110,000 soldiers who will be posted here for at least two more years. Even though the bases are being built with no mandate from an Iraqi government, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy chief of operations in Iraq, called them "a blueprint for how we could operate in the Middle East."
The US occupation authority has also found a sneaky way to maintain control over Iraq's armed forces. Bremer has issued an executive order stating that even after the interim Iraqi government has been established, the Iraqi army will answer to US commander Lieut. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. In order to pull this off, Washington is relying on a legalistic reading of a clause in UN Security Council Resolution 1511, which puts US forces in charge of Iraq's security until "the completion of the political process" in Iraq. Since the "political process" in Iraq is never-ending, so, it seems, is US military control.
In the same flurry of activity, the CPA announced that it would put further constraints on the Iraqi military by appointing a national security adviser for Iraq. This US appointee would have powers equivalent to those held by Condoleezza Rice and will stay in office for a five-year term, long after Iraq is scheduled to have made the transition to a democratically elected government.
There is one piece of this country, though, that the US government is happy to cede to the people of Iraq: the hospitals. On March 27 Bremer announced that he had withdrawn the senior US advisers from Iraq's Health Ministry, making it the first sector to achieve "full authority" in the US occupation.
Taken together, these latest measures paint a telling picture of what a "free Iraq" will look like: The United States will maintain its military and corporate presence through fourteen enduring military bases and the largest US Embassy in the world. It will hold on to authority over Iraq's armed forces, its security and economic policy and the design of its core infrastructure--but the Iraqis can deal with their decrepit hospitals all by themselves, complete with their chronic drug shortages and lack of the most basic sanitation capacity. (US Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson revealed just how low a priority this was when he commented that Iraq's hospitals would be fixed if the Iraqis "just washed their hands and cleaned the crap off the walls.")
On nights when there are no nearby explosions, we hang out at the hotel, jumping at the sound of car doors slamming. Sometimes we flick on the news and eavesdrop on a faraway debate about whether invading Iraq has made Americans safer. Few seem interested in the question of whether the invasion has made Iraqis feel safer, which is too bad because the questions are intimately related. As Khamis says, "It's not the war that caused the hatred. It's what they did after. What they are doing now."
Petraeus to Get Key Job in Iraq
101st Airborne Chief to Take Charge of Developing Iraqi Military
By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 3, 2004; Page A20
Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, who spent most of the past year in Iraq as commander of the 101st Airborne Division, is being sent back to that country to oversee the organization and training of all Iraqi military and security forces, Pentagon insiders said yesterday.
The selection of Petraeus, which has not yet been announced, is "all part of the thinking about the transition" to Iraqi sovereignty in 90 days, said a spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld who confirmed the choice but declined to be identified.
Essentially, Petraeus is being given charge of a major component of the U.S. exit strategy for Iraq -- developing Iraqi forces strong enough to maintain security and thereby permit the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Despite the behind-the-scenes moves being made to prepare for the transition of power, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz sought yesterday to play down the military significance of the changeover.
"There's not going to be any difference in our military posture on July 1st from what it is on June 30th, except that we will be there then at the invitation of a sovereign Iraqi government, which I am quite sure will want us to stay there until killers like the ones who perpetrated these atrocities in Fallujah are brought under control," he told reporters on Capitol Hill after he briefed members of Congress on the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As chief of an expanded Office of Military Cooperation, Petraeus is expected to take over many of the internal security functions currently overseen by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority. Petraeus, whose command of the 101st during last spring's war in Iraq was recently the subject of a two-part series in The Washington Post, almost certainly will be nominated by Rumsfeld for a third star as part of the assignment, the Pentagon insiders said.
Petraeus's new position will be especially sensitive in the coming months because it will make him the point man for integrating various Kurdish and Shiite Muslim militias into the Iraqi security structure, or for eliminating them somehow. His experience over the past year in northern Iraq has allowed him to develop close relationships with several Kurdish leaders, whose pesh merga has 50,000 members, making the militia larger than many nations' armies.
Senior U.S. officials in Iraq say that breaking up the armed groups there is essential to the country's transition to democracy, and that the demobilization of the Kurdish and Shiite militias is the first step toward that goal.
Even so, having Petraeus in a top slot in Baghdad overseeing the distribution of weapons to Iraqi forces would be good news for the Kurds. It would likely be more problematic for the Shiite militias, especially the Mahdi Army, a force organized last year by Moqtada Sadr, a militant young Shiite cleric.
Petraeus is believed to favor a hard line against insurgents in the Sunni Triangle, north and west of Baghdad. He is said to favor a strategy of flooding especially hostile enclaves, such as Fallujah, with forces and slugging it out, accompanied by a policy of engagement that turns on heavy spending to boost local employment.
Petraeus is close to Army Gen. John Abizaid, chief of the U.S. Central Command, the U.S. military headquarters for the Middle East. Abizaid is said to have specifically asked the Army for Petraeus.
The Army said he will be succeeded as commander of the 101st Airborne, which is based in Fort Campbell, Ky., by Maj. Gen. Thomas R. Turner II, who currently commands the Army's Italy-based Southern European Task Force.

? 2004 The Washington Post Company

After Falluja
From the April 12 / April 19, 2004 issue: We cannot permit the outrages in Mogadishu and Falluja to have similar effects.
by William Kristol
04/12/2004, Volume 009, Issue 30
THE SIMILARITY struck everyone right away: Mogadishu, October 3, 1993--Falluja, March 31, 2004. But we cannot permit these two outrages to be similar in their effect. At this key moment, the Bush administration has to ensure that the reactions to Falluja and Mogadishu go down in the history books as studies in contrast, not in similarity.
Mogadishu triggered, in a few months, the withdrawal of American troops from Somalia, and victory for those who killed our soldiers. Slaughter in Rwanda followed in a few months--a slaughter the Economist this week (on the 10th anniversary) called "the purest genocide since 1945, and perhaps the single greatest act of evil since Pol Pot turned Cambodia into a killing field." The Economist further noted that the "West's reluctance to get involved was largely a consequence of America's shambolic intervention in Somalia the previous year." Or more precisely: a consequence of America's humiliating retreat from Somalia.
Mogadishu encouraged Osama bin Laden in his judgment that America was a "weak horse," a nation that could not take casualties. Mogadishu therefore deserves a place of dishonor at the head of a decade of failures to respond seriously to attacks against our soldiers, diplomats, and citizens. From Mogadishu to the Khobar Towers, the African embassies, and the USS Cole, American passivity helped Osama bin Laden make the case to prospective jihadists that their cause would prevail. Then came 9/11, and a decisive response.
And now Falluja. The New York Times last week warned, to its credit, against "a panicky, casualty-driven withdrawal" from Iraq. But then, to its discredit, it lapsed into worry that the "emotions" generated by "pictures of burned Americans hanging from a bridge" in Falluja might lead to "overwhelming reprisals." If only.
It would be unfair to dwell on the lame comment by one American commander on the day of the atrocity: "Should we have sent in a tank so we could have gotten, with all due respect, four dead bodies back? What good would that have done? A mob is a mob. We would have just provoked them. The smart play was to let this thing fade out." Really? Unprovoked by the sight of a tank, terrorists in the Falluja area continued in the following days their assaults against U.S. troops and Iraqis working with Americans. In any case, the alternative to inaction on March 31 did not have to be a single tank. We could have sent many tanks, along with air support, to disperse the mob, kill those who didn't disperse, intimidate onlookers, and recover the bodies of the dead Americans. And we could immediately have put a price on the head of the killers and those who desecrated the bodies.
Still, since that first day, the responses of the Bush administration and of American commanders have been commendable: assurances that we will not cut and run, and commitments to punish those involved, and to reenter and "pacify" Falluja. We expect a strong--even "overwhelming"--military response along those lines in the coming days.
It has been the great achievement of President Bush, since September 11, to break the bad habits of the 1990s. The president's critics now claim that any president would have done the same after the attacks on New York and Washington. This is by no means clear. The pattern of passivity ran deep. The temptations of accommodation and wishful thinking are still strong. Indeed, they are so strong that the administration arguably hasn't broken as sharply with the failed policies of the past decade as it should have. The size of the military has not been increased; there was a reluctance to send ground troops into Afghanistan in November-December 2001 and to commit enough ground troops to Iraq; there seems to be an unwillingness to hold Iran accountable for sheltering al Qaeda leaders; there is an aversion to pressuring Saudi Arabia.
Still, the Bush administration has shown real strength and impressive decisiveness in taking on terrorist groups and states. We trust that U.S. troops will soon move to uproot what seems to have become a kind of terrorist sanctuary in Falluja, and to ensure that those who seek to drive us from Iraq are thwarted and indeed routed. If the atrocities in Falluja lead to a deepening of the U.S. commitment to victory in Iraq, and to a sharpening of the Bush administration's sword in the war on terror, then we will have properly honored the sacrifice of those who died March 31 in Falluja--and a decade earlier in Mogadishu as well.

--William Kristol

Brazil Shielding Uranium Facility
Nation Seeks to Keep Its Proprietary Data From U.N. Inspectors

By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 4, 2004; Page A01
The Brazilian government has refused to allow U.N. nuclear inspectors to examine a facility for enriching uranium under construction near Rio de Janeiro, according to Brazilian officials and diplomats in Vienna, home of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The IAEA and Brazil are at an impasse over the inspections, the diplomats said. Brazil maintains that the facility will produce low-enriched uranium for use in power plants, not the highly enriched material used in nuclear weapons. Nonetheless, Brazil refuses to let IAEA inspectors see equipment in the plant, citing a need to protect proprietary information.
The diplomatic standoff plays into fears that a new type of nuclear race is underway, marked not by the bold pursuit of atomic weapons but by the quiet and lawful development of sophisticated technology for nuclear energy production, which can be quickly converted into a weapons program.
Brazil's project also poses a conundrum for President Bush, who has called for tighter restrictions on enrichment of uranium, even for nuclear power, as part of a new strategy to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
Nonproliferation specialists also say that if the United States and the United Nations do not act to curtail Brazil's program, or at least insist on inspections, it could undermine White House calls for Iran and North Korea to halt their efforts to enrich uranium.
"If we don't want these kinds of facilities in Iran or North Korea, we shouldn't want them in Brazil," said former U.S. nuclear negotiator James E. Goodby. "You have to apply the same rules to adversaries as you do to friends. I do not see that happening in Brazil."
Brazil's shrouded technology at the plant in Resende belongs to a program considered legal under international treaties, but it remains subject to U.N. inspections, aimed at making sure it is not used for producing weapons-grade material for itself or customers.
The IAEA has dispatched inspectors to Resende in recent months, only to find significant portions of the facility and its contents shielded from view, diplomats said. Walls have been built and coverings are draped over the equipment, according to reports from specialists who have visited the plant, which is in the early stages of construction.
Brazilian officials maintain that the facility falls within rules allowing countries to develop the nuclear fuel cycle for peaceful uses. They say intrusive IAEA inspections are unnecessary because Brazil, which formally forswore nuclear weapons in the 1990s, is seeking a secure and inexpensive source of nuclear power, and has no lingering atomic weapons ambitions.
"We feel deeply bothered, almost offended, when suspicions are raised about Brazil," a senior Brazilian diplomat said.
The Brazilian official acknowledged that inspectors are not permitted to see all the equipment at the Resende plant, but he said the IAEA is free to conduct sensitive tests on the surroundings, as well as uranium fed into the centrifuges and exiting the other end.
The coverings are "necessary to protect our technological breakthroughs," said the diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He said the IAEA is "politically motivated to insist on visual access. We say that visual access is not indispensable.
"This is a natural process of negotiation," the official added, "which ought not to be the object of any fuss."
There has been no suggestion that the White House plans to prevent Brazil from perfecting its enrichment facility, although U.S. emissaries expect to push this month in Brasilia for better cooperation with the IAEA inspectors.
"We hope that Brazil will be part of the solution. We're not trying to describe them as part of the problem," said a senior State Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "We understand they're going to establish an enrichment capability [for nuclear energy]. It will be safeguarded."
A series of Brazilian statements about nuclear matters raised worries in Washington and Vienna about Brazil's intentions, however. During his winning campaign, leftist Workers' Party presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticized the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty as unfair. "If someone asks me to disarm and keep a slingshot while he comes at me with a cannon, what good does that do?" da Silva asked in a speech. He later said Brazil has no intention to develop nuclear arms.
Suspicions rose anew after da Silva's science and technology minister, Roberto Amaral, said Brazil would not renounce its knowledge of nuclear fission, the principle behind the atomic bomb. Brazilian officials quickly said Amaral was out of line, and he later resigned.
The da Silva government announced it will expand its uranium enrichment capability not only for its own power plants but also to sell low-enriched uranium for use in energy production in other countries. The program is to begin this year. Only half a dozen countries now have such a capability.
Enrichment technology is not new to Brazil. The government, working with West Germany, developed a rudimentary ability to enrich uranium in the 1970s as part of an ambitious strategy to supplement hydroelectric power and natural gas. Two nuclear reactors, Angra-1 and Angra-2, now operate in the country's industrial belt.
Brazilian officials, who oversee one of the largest uranium deposits in the world, currently pay to ship the raw metal to Canada and on to Britain, where it is enriched for use in the power plants. If Brazil mastered the complete fuel cycle, it would save $10 million to $12 million per year, the government estimates, while laying the groundwork to sell to others.
"It is a very rich market that runs into the billions each year," the Brazilian diplomat said.
IAEA inspectors want to inspect for two reasons: to make sure Brazil is not making weapons-grade material; and as part of their investigation of global nuclear supply networks, including the one established by Pakistani scientist Adbul Qadeer Khan. Diplomats and nuclear experts said IAEA wants to learn more about the origin of the program in Brazil and its sources of supply.
"If you have an enrichment facility, you want to make sure that the material isn't being enriched to a level that would cause concern," a Vienna-based diplomat said. "There are just a lot of questions at this moment which are unresolved. There's an impasse."
The IAEA is expected to report in June on Brazil's performance. Agency officials working on the Brazil project declined to comment for this story.
A separate issue facing Bush is where to draw the line on Brazil and other countries seeking a uranium enrichment capability. Such projects are permitted under the Non-Proliferation Treaty when the purposes are peaceful, but Bush has proposed a change.
Under his plan, announced in a Feb. 11 speech, countries that do not already produce uranium would not be allowed to do so. Rather, they would be provided nuclear fuel at a reasonable cost -- and only if they also agreed to rigorous IAEA inspections.
For governments that already considered the treaty unfair, Bush's proposal seemed only to reaffirm the bias in favor of countries that already possessed atomic technology when the treaty was crafted in the 1960s. Three countries that later built nuclear weapons -- India, Pakistan and Israel -- did not sign.
"We don't like treaties that are discriminatory in their intent," said the Brazilian official, who described Bush's nuclear fuel proposal as "unacceptable to Brazil, precisely because we see ourselves as so strictly committed to nonproliferation, to disarmament, to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy."
Iran has made similar statements, as has North Korea, which U.S. intelligence experts believe has built one or two nuclear weapons. Iran and North Korea had secret enrichment programs, with Iran's hidden for 18 years. North Korea evicted U.N. inspectors and withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In Brazil, by contrast, one U.S. official said that "we don't have any reason to think there are problems." A diplomat in Vienna said, "It's not Iran, it's just not."
Yet permitting Brazil to proceed with the kind of enrichment program that Bush wants to limit, several analysts said, threatens to weaken efforts to make common rules. Lawrence Scheinman of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies said, "Brazil going forward could give cause to countries like Iran to do the same."
"It makes mincemeat of the president's speech," said Henry Sokolski, director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, a Washington think tank. He noted that Bush said countries must agree to rigorous IAEA inspection to get international help. "It sets a hell of a precedent if they go through with an enrichment facility."

? 2004 The Washington Post Company
Papers on 1964 Brazil Coup Declassified
Sat Apr 3, 4:44 AM ET

By TOM MURPHY, Associated Press Writer
SAO PAULO, Brazil - Newly declassified U.S. documents show the extent of American willingness to provide aid to Brazil's generals during the 1964 coup that ushered in 21 years of often bloody military rule.
* 40th Anniversary of Brazil Military Coup (Nat'l Security Archive)
The National Security Archive, a non-governmental Washington-based research group, posted the documents on its Web site this week to coincide with Wednesday's 40th anniversary of the coup.
Figuring prominently in the records is Lincoln Gordon, the U.S. ambassador to Brazil at the time and now a resident expert in Latin American affairs at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
"We were working at a frenzied pace in those days to get Washington ready for whatever might happen," Gordon, 90, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "It was the height of the Cold War and Brazil was a major country in Latin America."
The documents show members of Lyndon B. Johnson's administration actively preparing to aid the coup plotters.
In a March 27, 1964, cable to the State Department, Gordon requested a naval task force and deliveries of fuel and arms to the coup plotters "to help avert a major disaster here."
Gordon said in the cable that Brazil could fall under the spell of a communist-style regime led by President Joao Goulart, "which might make Brazil the China of the 1960s." Mainland China turned communist in 1949 under Mao Zedong.
The documents also reveal what some experts say was a major miscalculation by the CIA (news - web sites).
A CIA cable from Brazil, dated March 30, predicted a military coup "within the next few days." It added, "The revolution will not be resolved quickly and will be bloody."
In fact, the coup was put in motion the next day, March 31, and was over by April 4, when Goulart fled to exile in Uruguay. The entire episode was bloodless.
"The CIA was probably harking back to events in 1961, when the military was deeply divided over the issue of Goulart assuming power," said American political scientist David Fleischer, who teaches at the University of Brasilia. "But, just as there was no violence in 1961, there was none in 1964. It was a CIA miscalculation, not for the first time and not for the last."
A Brazilian historian, Gaudenico Torquato of the University of Sao Paulo, said, "They (the CIA) got it wrong. At that time, the U.S. was involved in the feverish competition against communism known as the Cold War. That colored their judgment."
In a March 31 reply to Gordon, Secretary of State Dean Rusk said the administration had decided to "immediately mobilize" a naval task force. He also promised fuel, ammunition and tear gas shipments to the Brazilian military.
"These new documents serve to reinforce what is now a well-known tale," said Fleischer. "The U.S. organized its support for the coup in an operation called Brother Sam. The task force ended up steaming toward the South Atlantic, but the aid was never needed. The coup ended quickly and without bloodshed."
Gordon said Rusk made it clear that the U.S. would only intervene under certain circumstances. "He wanted to make sure there was broad political support in Brazil for the military before advising any intervention."
The documents show President Johnson was keenly following events in Brazil. In one instance, Johnson instructs aides "to take every step that we can" to aid Brazilian military forces opposed to Goulart.
The audiotape presents a briefing between Johnson and national security aides. In it, Johnson says, "I'd get right on top of it and stick my neck out a little."
But Gordon said: "People like Rusk were cautious. I think they were influenced by the Bay of Pigs and didn't want a repeat of that experience."
In 1961, anti-Castro rebels, supported and armed by the U.S., were defeated by Castro when they attempted to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.
From 1964 to 1985, Brazil was ruled by a string of five colorless military presidents chosen by their fellow officers. The dictatorship ended in 1985 when a democracy movement swept the country.
On the Net:
National Security Archive:

Probe eyes key concept of physics
By Beth Daley, Globe Staff, 4/3/2004

It took more than 44 years to build, was canceled seven times, and is considered by some scientists to be the most technically difficult mission NASA has ever undertaken.
Yesterday, the space agency announced that Gravity Probe B is finally ready for launch on April 17. Its goal is to help prove one of the most confounding concepts in physics: the strange twist in space-time predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity.
Despite the modest name, Gravity Probe B carries a payload of superlatives. It has taken longer to finish than any other project at NASA. It is armed with some of the most precise instruments ever built. And in a space agency known for its delays and cost overruns, the $700 million project remains singular in its ballooning schedule and budget, some observers say.
"Gravity Probe B has been 5 years away from launch for the 25 years I've been involved in space programs," said Keith Cowing, editor of, a group that monitors NASA.
Since the project was conceived by three scientists after a naked midday swim at Stanford University's pool, more than 1,000 people have worked on the satellite. Two of its founders are dead. More than 90 people have earned their doctorates working on the project. Gravity Probe B has been on the chopping block so many times that its bespectacled lead scientist has become a fixture on Capitol Hill for his successful lobbying to keep it funded.
Inside the satellite are four gyroscopes whose movement could confirm the theoretical underpinnings of modern physics -- or turn them on their head.
"The expectation is we are going to see [the movement]," said Robert Reasenberg, associate director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, in Cambridge, which is helping calculate key astronomical measurements for the project. "If we don't see it, it is an astounding result. It will turn physics upside down."
In 1916, Einstein shocked the world of physics by introducing a new description of gravity, one that is caused by massive objects curving the fabric of space and time. Large objects like the earth can "warp" space-time, the way a basketball placed on a taut rubber sheet warps the sheet and causes other nearby objects to roll toward it. At the same time, if the basketball is turning, its motion will twist the sheet slightly -- a phenomenon known as "frame dragging."
Ever since it was proposed, scientists have wanted to test Einstein's general relativity theory using the earth itself. But the earth's "warping" effect on space and time is tiny -- more of a marble than a bowling ball -- and no precise measuring tools were available.
Now, the scientific supporters of Gravity Probe B say the extraordinary predictions made by general relativity can finally be tested. Thanks to dramatic, and expensive, advances by the project team, the probe will be able to measure once-undetectable changes in the gyroscope's spin related to a distant star.
The project has been hailed as a marvel for its work with cryogenics and engineering. The gyroscopes' four spherical rotors, each the size of a ping-pong ball, are considered the roundest manmade objects in the world. Scientists can also detect a change of angle equal to the width of a human hair as seen from 10 miles away. To ensure the experiment's success, scientists had to create almost unheard-of conditions inside the satellite, where the instruments will be kept chilled at minus 455 degrees Fahrenheit with liquid helium.
The probe can even boast its own spinoff technologies. Graduate students who worked on the project helped develop better GPS systems that are now used in aircraft landings. They also created a type of superglue that can stand up to the pressures of space.
Still, the project is not without its critics, who complain that its rising costs have sucked money from more worthy missions. Others say that the project has lost much of its value since it was first planned, because other experiments have been conducted that appear to prove Einstein's theory.
"When it was first conceived it would have taught us something new about gravity theory . . . but not now," said Kenneth Nordtvedt, a gravity specialist and retired physics professor at Montana State University.
The project's scientists, however, say the probe will provide the most accurate test yet -- and will be the first experiment to test the frame dragging effect.
They note that every time the project has been on the budgetary chopping block, it has been upheld by a review panel of researchers or by Congress.
"The thing that drives Gravity Probe B is the measurement accuracy," said Rex Geveden, program manager.
Now, as the launch date approaches at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, invitations have been sent out to the scientists, engineers, and students that have in some way helped create it.
Few are as excited as Robert H. Cannon Jr., the lone surviving scientist who started the project and went on to be the Air Force's chief scientist and a US assistant secretary of transportation. When he first imagined the project with the physicists Leonard Schiff and William Fairbanks, the latter physicist said it might take 10 years to test. Cannon thought it would be more like 20 years.
That was 1959.
"It's been a long wait," Cannon said this week. "Bill Fairbanks was off by four and I was off by two. But I'll be there [at the launch]. My whole family will be there."
Beth Daley can be reached at

? Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.

Odd Sound Startles Space Station Crew Again

Associated Press
Saturday, April 3, 2004; Page A24
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The two men aboard the international space station heard a strange metallic sound again Friday, four months after being startled by it the first time.
Cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri was talking to flight controllers in Moscow when he heard a loud, drumlike noise coming from the instrument panel of the station's Russian-built living quarters.
Kaleri and astronaut Michael Foale first heard the noise -- described as sounding like a flapping sheet of metal -- in late November. Neither the crewmen nor flight controllers were ever able to identify the source of the sound, although engineers suspected space junk may have damaged something on the exterior.
Kaleri said Friday morning's noise came from about the same place as before and sounded the same.
"I had the headset on, so I didn't hear it very clearly. But it sounded sort of like a drum. It sounds sort of like a sheet of something being bent," the cosmonaut reported.
Russian flight controllers told Kaleri that they would try to figure out where the noise was coming from, and speculated that perhaps one of the systems inside the station was the source of the problem, not something on the outside.
NASA officials, however, said all systems appeared to be operating properly.
"It's very strange," Russian Mission Control said. "I doubt that it would be a coincidence that you're hearing the same thing coming from the same place."
During a spacewalk in February, Kaleri and Foale were supposed to check the exterior of the space station where the noise originated last November. But Kaleri's spacesuit overheated and became damp, and the spacewalk had to be cut short, so the men did not have time to inspect the area.
Kaleri and Foale's six-month mission is almost over. A new crew is due to arrive in 21/2 weeks.

? 2004 The Washington Post Company
Putin Gives Chirac Tour of Space Center
By MARA D. BELLABY, Associated Press Writer

MOSCOW - French President Jacques Chirac became the first western leader to visit Russia's top secret Titov space control center, touring the site Saturday as part of Russian efforts to court the lucrative European satellite-launching business.
AP Photo
The center, which operates under tight security, is the control point for all of Russia's satellites, including its military satellites. After greeting Chirac, Russian President Vladimir Putin (news - web sites) handed over the floor to the center's chief, Lt. Gen. Nikolai Kolesnikov to outline its work and future plans.
Russia's cash-strapped space program has worked closely with the European Space Agency in recent years, launching ESA satellites and carrying ESA astronauts on research missions to the International Space Station (news - web sites). The Titov space control center is in Krasnoznamensk, about 25 miles southwest of Moscow.
In February, the ESA reached an agreement with Russia to launch Russian Soyuz rockets from France's Kourou launch pad in French Guyana. The launches are expected to begin in about three years.
France-based aircraft maker Airbus also signed a deal last year with Russia's Sokol, which will produce fuselage parts for Airbus A320 planes, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.
"These steps open good prospects for the development of industrial cooperation in the high-tech sectors of the economy," the Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified Kremlin official as saying.
Putin and Chirac were later expected to hold private talks about issues including Iraq (news - web sites). Moscow and Paris opposed the war, and both have called for the United Nations (news - web sites) to play a strong role.
Putin and Chirac are also expected to discuss European Union (news - web sites) expansion that will include eight countries that were either part of or allied with the Soviet Union.
The continuing violence in the Middle East and the international fight against terrorism are also likely to be on the agenda. The Kremlin said that Putin would also raise the issue of making it easier for Russians to receive visas to travel to France and other EU member states.
A French newspaper also reported that Chirac will invite Putin to attend this year's 60th anniversary commemorations of the D-Day invasion in France.

White House Opposes Bill on Fannie Mae
Fri Apr 2, 7:59 PM ET
By MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration came out Friday in opposition to Republican-written legislation that would tighten regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because it would let Congress overrule a decision by regulators to take over either of the mortgage giants in a financial failure.
Treasury Secretary John Snow and Alphonso Jackson, new head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (news - web sites), said the bill approved Thursday by the Senate Banking Committee "would have been a substantial step forward" except for the provision giving Congress that override authority.
Snow and Jackson said in a statement the provision "would significantly weaken one of the core powers needed for a strong regulator (and) ... could reinforce a false impression that the American taxpayer provides an implicit guarantee" to the government-sponsored institutions.
The bill would tighten the reins on the two companies and create a new federal regulatory body to oversee them. It cleared the Banking Committee on a 12-9 vote, mostly along party lines as the panel's Republican majority prevailed. The slim margin means Democrats probably could use the Senate's procedural rules to block eventual passage.
The House has not acted on similar legislation.
The Senate bill would allow the new regulatory agency to put Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac into receivership should they become insolvent and to sell off their assets, favored by the White House. An amendment written by Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, curbed the regulators' power, however, by giving Congress the right to review such a move and up to 45 days to override it.
The debate over receivership was kindled in February when Federal Reserve (news - web sites) Chairman Alan Greenspan (news - web sites) warned that Fannie Mae and smaller rival Freddie Mac could pose a threat to the U.S. financial system should their ability to assume new debt continued unrestrained.
Political pressure for restraints on the companies' operations already had been building after a $5 billion accounting scandal last year at Freddie Mac.
On the Net:
Fannie Mae:
Freddie Mac:

Pakistan Army Seeks Help Hunting al-Qaida
1 hour, 53 minutes ago
By AHSANULLAH WAZIR, Associated Press Writer
WANA, Pakistan - A Pakistan army helicopter dropped leaflets in a remote tribal region near the border with Afghanistan (news - web sites), urging tribesmen to help capture suspected al-Qaida fugitives, residents and officials said on Saturday.
The leaflets, in both Urdu and Pashto language, were dropped Friday in South Waziristan, the scene of a major military operation last month against al-Qaida holdouts and tribal sympathizers that left more than 120 people dead.
"Tribesmen are great friends of the Pakistan army," read the leaflet. "These foreigners are misusing your hospitality. They are not your friends ... they are terrorists. You should help your army to flush them out."
The fact the leaflets were dropped by air demonstrated the security forces' reluctance to travel in the area.
Many locals resent the presence of the army in this semiautonomous region, where dozens of homes of people suspected of harboring foreign terrorists were demolished and other properties were damaged in the two-week military operation -- Pakistan's largest since it became an ally in the U.S.-led war on terror in late 2001.
At least a dozen civilians were killed in the fighting, near the main South Waziristan town of Wana -- about 190 miles southwest of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad -- along with 63 foreign and local militants and at least 48 Pakistani troops and government officials.
Some 163 suspects were captured, but hundreds more militants escaped. An Uzbek militant leader, Tahir Yuldash, believed injured, was among those who escaped the military's net.
Uzbekistan has requested "detailed information" about Uzbeks captured during the operation, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said Saturday, adding that Pakistan's government is considering the request and has yet to respond.
Pakistan has not specified the nationalities of the foreigners, saying they were under interrogation and in the process of being identified, but they are believed to include Uzbeks, Chechens and Arabs.
Uzbekistan -- like Pakistan a U.S. ally in its war on terror -- is reeling from bombings and attacks by suspected Islamic militants this week that killed at least 47 people.
A top Uzbek anti-terror official has told The Associated Press the militants were linked to the Wahhabi sect of Islam -- a term authorities here have also used to refer to the IMU, a group allied with al-Qaida that battled U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Government officials on Saturday were meeting with the tribal elders of the Yargul Khel and Zali Khel tribes, which have been accused of harboring foreign militants. Both tribes said they would not allow any foreigners to hide in their areas in the future, officials said.
However, Rahmatullah Wazir, a government official in Wana, threatened the "toughest action" against tribesmen if they did not expel foreign terrorists from their areas before a Thursday deadline.
"We have received assurances from tribal elders, but we will see how they act," he told The Associated Press. He gave no more details of what action the tribesmen would face.
After the end of the military operation on March 28, Pakistan withdrew its troops from a target area near Wana, but retained thousands of forces in South Waziristan, which a military spokesman said remain "combat ready."

U.S. looking at Aristide's possible role in drug trade

Deposed Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is now the subject of a U.S. drug investigation, law enforcement sources say, and his record is also under scrutiny in Haiti.
U.S. prosecutors in Miami are investigating whether former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide pocketed millions of dollars from drug traffickers who moved tons of cocaine through the poor nation, federal sources familiar with the inquiry said Friday.
''It's in the early stages,'' one law enforcement source told The Herald. ``It's a bit premature to say we've got anything yet. But you're not wrong if you say that's where we're going.''
Several officials in South Florida and Washington also said investigators have been briefed on reports that relatives of Aristide and his wife, Mildred, hold nearly $250 million in European banks. The officials added, however, that there is no indication yet whether the funds actually exist.
Haitian Justice Minister Bernard Gousse meanwhile said Friday he will establish a commission next week to investigate allegations against Aristide -- everything from misuse of government funds to human-rights abuses.
''It will look at what he was up to during his presidency, and the scope will be very broad,'' Gousse told The Herald.
Ira Kurzban, Aristide's Miami lawyer, attributed the probe to politics: ``After kidnapping President Aristide, the Bush administration is not content to simply end democracy in Haiti -- they need to politically assassinate Aristide.''
Spokesmen for the U.S. attorney's office and the Drug Enforcement Administration in Miami, and the Justice Department in Washington, declined to comment on the investigation, first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Several of the South Florida sources said U.S. officials in Washington, who had refused to support a criminal case against Aristide when he was still president, changed their tune in recent weeks.
The political will shifted, they said, after Aristide started alleging that U.S. officials forced him to resign and go into exile. Washington has denied the accusations.
U.S. officials have long complained that Aristide was at least turning a blind eye to drug traffickers who used Haiti to transship Colombian cocaine to U.S. streets.
Ironically, his increased cooperation with DEA and U.S. Embassy personnel in the waning months of his tenure greatly accelerated the case now being built against him.
The Herald has learned that the Aristide government expelled to the United States four prominent drug trafficking suspects between June and October -- three of whom have pleaded guilty and are now cooperating with the DEA in the investigation against the former president.
Traffickers such as Beaudoin ''Jacques'' Ketant, under a 1997 indictment in Miami accusing him of moving 15 tons of cocaine through Haiti, had avoided deportation earlier because Haitian law enforcement and the judiciary were easily corrupted.
But last May, Ketant's thugs allegedly roughed up an administrator at the Union School in Port-au-Prince. Livid U.S. Embassy officials, whose children attended the school along with one of Ketant's children, demanded that Aristide give him up.
Believing he was being summoned to a meeting at the presidential palace, Ketant was taken by Haitian police on June 18 to waiting DEA agents who flew him to South Florida.
He has since told U.S. officials that he paid Aristide and the head of his palace security, Oriel Jean, up to $500,000 a month to let him land small planes loaded with cocaine on National Route 9, according to sources familiar with the case. Ketant also claims to have made massive payoffs to Aristide's political party and to one of his social-work foundations.
Over the three months after Ketant's expulsion to the United States, DEA operatives and embassy personnel in Haiti pushed Aristide to expel three other trafficking suspects: Eliobert Jasme, Carlos Ovalle and Eddy Aurelien.
Ovalle, a Colombian who lived in Haiti for more than a decade and acted as the transshipment coordinator, was expelled in September.
Aurelien, a former Miami resident and music promoter charged with distributing crack cocaine, turned up in Haiti shortly after he skipped bond in 1997. Aurelien was returned in handcuffs in August.
Ovalle and Aurelien immediately pleaded guilty and started giving extensive briefings to federal prosecutors and DEA and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents. Jasme, who was brought to the United States in September, is not cooperating.
The investigation into Aristide's possible links to traffickers accelerated last month when Oriel Jean was detained in Canada on a U.S. drug-trafficking charge. Jean had been booted as chief of security in June, within days of Ketant's expulsion.
U.S. prosecutors and agents are leaning on Jean to cooperate, the law enforcement sources said. But Jean's Miami attorney, David Raben, said Friday his client intends to fight the charges vigorously.
The sources acknowledged that they may have trouble using several of the traffickers -- plus an unnamed Haitian policeman who informed on Jean -- as witnesses against Aristide because they may also have been working for the CIA.
''Some of these guys will have been working for the guys whose initials we shall not speak,'' one of the sources said. ``But it's so early in this, we will have to see.''
Herald staff writers Jacqueline Charles, Juan O. Tamayo and Nancy San Martin contributed to this report.


Afghanistan: Hekmatyar changes color again
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - With the Afghan resistance poised for a do-or-die spring offensive against occupying forces in the country, already torn by instability, details are emerging of a breakthrough agreement that could see the implementation of a truce, at least in the troubled east of the country.
Steady behind-the-scenes efforts on the part of Washington, Islamabad and Kabul to find a political solution to Afghanistan's woes appear to have finally borne some fruit. Asia Times Online has learned that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) - the engine of the resistance in the east of the country - has provisionally agreed to call a ceasefire in resistance fighting in return for his party being allowed to contest September's general elections.
Such a move, though, is hinged on the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) setting a date for the withdrawal of the more than 13,000 US-led forces in the country.
Asia Times Online reported in February that Hekmatyar had been offered a truce by the US and a role in the future political mainstream, but the veteran fighter did not respond. (Afghanistan: Now it's all-out war Feb 24)
News of a possible breakthrough could not have come at a better time for Afghanistan. Donor nations on Thursday concluded a meeting in Berlin with pledges of US$8 billion for Afghanistan over the next three years.
According to quarters in Pakistan close to Hekmatyar, a delegation comprising the top HIA leadership, including Khalid Farooqui, Dr Qasim Hamat, Dr Jan Mohammed Hamkar and Engineer Tariq will visit Kabul at the invitation of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to start a new round of dialogue. On the government side, representatives of the ruling factions will include former president Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, Professor Abdul Rab Rasool Sayyaf and Qasim Fahim, the defense minister and first vice president.
The agenda of the talks will center on a ceasefire and the HIA's role in Afghan politics. The HIA has agreed to establish political offices in Kabul pending agreement on a ceasefire, which, the HIA stresses, is entirely subject to a deadline being set for the withdrawal of foreign forces.
Pakistan's role
Pakistan's initial plan to fill the vacuum left by the demise of the Taliban regime in late 2001 was to cultivate "moderate" Taliban, flushing out the hardline Taliban leadership, with the consent of local Afghan commanders. This third tier of Taliban leadership, such as Jalaluddin Haqqani, would be acceptable to the international community. However, these efforts were aborted at an early stage as few Taliban were prepared to betray 39-year-old Mullah Omar's leadership.
Subsequently, Pakistan initiated another move to persuade even lower-level Taliban leaders to establish their own parties, such as the Jamiat-i-Khudamul Koran (or Furqan) and the Jaishul Muslemeen. But this backfired as the Jamiat-i-Khudamul Koran - which was heavily funded by both the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) - ditched Islamabad and joined the Taliban's resistance movement against the US. Other parties, such as the Jaishul Muslemeen, could not elevate themselves beyond issuing statements to the local media.
Meanwhile, the ISI began to actively promote the HIA as a major force as a safeguard for Islamabad's interests in Afghanistan as it felt it was losing ground to the Northern Alliance, which India backed. The ISI, using the contacts it forged in the Afghan resistance to the Soviets in the 1980s, also helped reestablish local mujahideen commanders to counter the influence of the Northern Alliance. However, Pakistan's real motive was lost as many HIA commanders joined the resistance movement against the US.
However, both the ISI and the CIA retained their old connections with HIA leaders based in Peshawar in Pakistan. Additional pressure was exerted by the US when HIA spokesperson, political affairs leader in Islamabad and son-in-law of Hekmatyar, Dr Ghairat Bahair, was apprehended by the ISI and passed on to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Background and significance
Elections had been scheduled for Afghanistan in June, but these have been put back to September. The United Nations had imposed the condition that the voters' list should contain at least 10 million names, but to date hardly 15 percent of this enrollment target has been achieved. A vast belt of Pashtun regions in the east, including Kandahar, Kunhar, Nooristan, Nagarhar and Oruzgan, are inaccessible for the registration of voters due to the law and order situation.
The Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan was the largest fighting faction during the Afghan resistance against the Soviet invasion in the 1980s. At the same time, the HIA had vast political influence on Afghan campuses, in Islamic seminaries and in Afghan urban centers as it was also the most organized political force in the country.
But with the success of the Taliban, the HIA became the prime victim. Hekmatyar, who was prime minister in 1996 when the Taliban seized power, went into exile in Iran. Many HIA commanders surrendered to the Taliban, while those political leaders with Uzbek or Tajik origins either fled, joined the Northern Alliance or became politically neutral and chose to operate businesses in Pakistan and European countries such as Cyprus, France and England.
At present, interestingly, the Afghan bureaucracy in Kabul, Jalalabad, Khost and Kandahar is largely run by former HIA officials, even though their loyalties are viewed with some suspicion.
A part of Hekmatyar's strategy has been to restore communication with his former mujahideen friends from the war against the Soviets who are now a part of the US-sponsored Karzai administration. These include Ismail Khan from Herat, Uzbek warlord General Rashid Dostum and Sayyaf.
Hekmatyar has regrouped several thousand of his old fighters under a number of loyal commanders and he figures prominently in eastern Afghanistan in the fight against US forces in Afghanistan.
The million-dollar question, though, is whether Hekmatyar will retain his present clout if he betrays Mullah Omar and the Afghan resistance?
A possible answer to this can be drawn from the past.
The Jamiat-i-Islami of Rabbani and the late Ahmed Shah Masoud and Hekmatyar's HIA are ideologically the legacy of the Muslim Brotherhood in Afghanistan. However, they fell out over political differences that resulted in a bloody battle for the takeover of Kabul in the early 1990s. But the arch rivals immediately shook hands when the Taliban first emerged and began, without bloodshed, to take over major Afghan cities. Hekmatyar accepted the position of prime minister, and Rabbani became president in what turned out to be a doomed marriage of convenience to stave off the Taliban threat.
This political compromise for the first time caused serious differences within the HIA. Hekmatyar held a meeting with all his major commanders and party leaders in Peshawar, and tried to justify his alliance with Masoud. When he failed to convince his party, he tried to use his last card - his personal charisma gained as a fearsome mujahideen and leader of men. He placed his turban (a symbol of respect in Afghan tribal society) on the ground and asked those party leaders who did not want to support him to walk over his turban (in other words, over his honor). Most of the party members stood up and walked over the turban. It was at this point that Hekmatyar realized that he had lost ground against the newly emerging Taliban student militia, and he announced that he would not obstruct the way of the Taliban, and chose exile in Tehran.
Hekmatyar's withdrawal from the resistance at this stage would certainly be a setback in eastern areas such as Kunhar, and many of the plans of the Afghan resistance would face delays. But there is the possibility that - like before - most of his commanders would not follow him and would chose to melt with the Taliban instead.
Hekmatyar is not a man afraid to switch sides to satisfy his political ambitions, and ever since the Taliban took over Kabul he has been looking for a role in the country.
However, in the present global scenario, where the Afghan resistance has a global perspective as the International Islamic Front has special plans to use the resistance as a world-wide rallying call for anti-US activity, Hekmatyar will have to weigh his options with a lot of care as any hasty decision could leave him completely in the wilderness with no role to play on either side.
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)

France Lied to U.S. During Iraq Crisis
Posted April 2, 2004
By Kenneth R. Timmerman

Protesters in France demonstrate against the war in Iraq.

The following article is excerpted from Kenneth R. Timmerman's new book, The French Betrayal of America (Crown Forum, New York, $25). All rights reserved.

For Secretary of State Colin Powell, the U.S.-French divorce began on Jan. 20, 2003, when French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin blindsided him during a press conference outside the U.N.

After a special session of the Security Council devoted to the war on terror, held at de Villepin's personal request, Powell had driven over to the French U.N. ambassador's official Park Avenue residence, where de Villepin was to host him to an exclusive lunch.

Instead, de Villepin stayed behind at the U.N. and announced to the world that France would never support a U.S.-led military intervention against Saddam Hussein. As Powell saw the man he thought was his friend appear on the video monitors in the French ambassador's residence his jaws dropped, says his deputy and confidant, Richard Armitage. "He was very unamused," Armitage recalls. "When he's unamused, he gets pretty cold. He puts the eyes on you and there is no doubt when his jaws are jacked. It's not a pretty sight."

During the session, de Villepin "preened and postured," recalled a deputy to U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte. After a tepid homage to the victims of 9/11, de Villepin urged the United Nations to take over the global fight against terror by sending international bureaucrats to Third World nations that were harboring or sponsoring terrorist groups. He wanted the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to get involved, and proposed a new international arms-control treaty to track the commercial use and shipment of radioactive materials, surely a move that would prove as useful in preventing nuclear terrorism as the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty has been in preventing nations such as Israel, Pakistan, India and North Korea from going nuclear.

"Let us look at things with lucidity," the Frenchman said finally, his voice quivering with compassion. "Terrorism feeds on injustice. So an equitable model of development is therefore necessary to definitely eradicate terrorism."

After briefly summarizing these proposals, which no one took seriously, de Villepin told the news cameras that he now wanted to say "a few words" about Iraq. That caught Powell's ear.

Just the evening before, over a private dinner at the Waldorf Astoria, the two men had discussed possible wording the French government could accept in a new U.N. resolution (the 18th, in fact) that would authorize the use of force against Iraq. Powell would say later that he had thought they were close to an agreement. Diplomats at the U.N. were actually laying bets - at 100-to-1 odds - that the U.S. would get the votes for the resolution. None of them was prepared for what the Frenchman said next.

"If war is the only means of resolving the problem, then we have reached a dead end," de Villepin said. "A unilateral military intervention will be the victory of might makes right, an attack on the primacy of international law and morality." The U.N. should wait until the U.N. inspectors made their next report, scheduled for January 27, before deciding on any further action, he said. At that point, "Iraq must understand that it is time for it to cooperate actively."

To Powell and his advisers, it was clear that de Villepin was trying to run out the clock so Saddam could finish hiding his weapons and prepare for war.

Later, in the reconstruction of the day's events he and other top French officials gave to reporters, de Villepin denied he had tried to ambush Powell, or that he had disguised an intention to use the ministerial session of the U.N. Security Council on terrorism as a platform to attack the United States on Iraq. "There was no ambush," he said. "I did not mention the word 'Iraq' once in my speech. It was only at a press conference afterward that I discussed Iraq in reply to a very aggressive question."

I read that account to a U.S. official who knew de Villepin and had watched the tape of that press conference many times. "That's just a lie," he said.

Indeed, the written record of de Villepin's press conference, provided to me by the French foreign ministry, shows on the contrary that it was de Villepin who shifted directly to Iraq at the very beginning of his press conference, and made a lengthy condemnation of the United States well before the questions began. "We will not associate ourselves with military intervention that is not supported by the international community," he said finally. "Military intervention would be the worst solution." Even the Washington Post, which highlighted international opposition to the Bush administration's position on Iraq, called de Villepin's performance "theatrical."

When de Villepin finally showed up for the luncheon, it got worse. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer berated Powell and President [George W.] Bush for having decided to move forward with military action, and claimed that Iraq "has complied fully with all relevant resolutions and cooperated very closely with the U.N. team on the ground," certainly an Alice-in-Wonderland version of the facts even as they were presented by the well-heeled U.N. chief inspector, Hans Blix.

Finally, Powell had heard enough. "He got an edge to his voice - something Powell prides himself at not doing - and said, 'You said the same thing before Panama and we went in and three days later, everyone forgot.'" The scales fell from Powell's eyes that day, an aide said. "He suddenly realized this was a game of hardball politics and that he had let himself be used and abused."

From that moment on, the relationship between the two men turned to ice. No more letters from de Villepin addressed, "Cher Colin." No more cozy lunches. Communications became stiff and formal, while the top leaders traded broadsides across the Atlantic.

Standing side by side with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Paris on Jan. 22, [French] President Jacques Chirac hurled another cannonball. "War is always an admission of defeat," he said, "the worst of solutions. Hence everything must be done to avoid it."

Some French officials suggested to me privately that Chirac had been "set up" by Schroeder, whose harsh criticism of the United States went way beyond the prepared speech he had given Chirac's advisers beforehand. Indeed, so thorough was the deception being played out by Chirac and de Villepin that many senior members of Chirac's own ruling party believed that Chirac still intended to join the U.S. and British-led war effort at the last minute, after squeezing from the U.S. a maximum of commercial concessions in postwar Iraq.

The next morning, writing in the New York Times, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice chastised the French and other critics who wanted to give Iraq more time to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors. "Has Saddam Hussein finally decided to voluntarily disarm?" she asked. "Unfortunately, the answer is a clear and resounding no. There is no mystery to voluntary disarmament. Countries that decide to disarm lead inspectors to weapons and production sites, answer questions before they are asked, state publicly and often the intention to disarm and urge their citizens to cooperate. The world knows from examples set by South Africa, Ukraine and Kazakhstan what it looks like when a government decides that it will cooperatively give up its weapons of mass destruction."

Iraq's behavior did not fit the bill. "By both its actions and its inactions," she concluded, "Iraq is proving not that it is a nation bent on disarmament, but that it is a nation with something to hide."

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz gave a more detailed presentation on the same theme to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "It is not the job of inspectors to disarm Iraq; it is Iraq's job to disarm itself," he said. "Think about it for a moment. When an auditor discovers discrepancies in the books, it is not the auditor's obligation to prove where the embezzler has stashed his money. It is up to the person or institution being audited to explain the discrepancy. It is quite unreasonable to expect a few hundred inspectors to search every potential hiding place in a country the size of France, even if nothing were being moved."

For 12 years Iraq had played a game of "rope-a-dope in the desert" with U.N. inspectors. That game was about to end because of renegade Saudi Osama bin Laden. "As terrible as the attacks of September 11 were, however, we now know that the terrorists are plotting still more and greater catastrophes," Wolfowitz said. "Iraq's weapons of mass terror and the terror networks to which the Iraqi regime are linked are not two separate themes - not two separate threats. They are part of the same threat."

French officials say they never bought into the U.S. argument of a "convergence" between Iraq, weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and terrorism. "The U.S. argument was highly speculative," a senior adviser to de Villepin told me in Paris. "If there was going to be convergence between terrorists and WMD, it would happen with renegade scientists from Biopreparat in Russia, who decide to go to work for al-Qaeda. It would happen in Pakistan, but not in Iraq. Saddam Hussein's regime was not known for spontaneous behavior. He had no objection to using terrorism, but he would never give weapons to groups that were not thoroughly under his control, who could act autonomously in ways that could pose a threat to his regime."

But of course, that was precisely what the U.S. contended when it cited Saddam's use of al-Qaeda offshoot Al Ansar al-Islam, which was operating with the support and protection of Saddam's intelligence arm, the dreaded mukhabarat. The U.S. presented evidence that Al Ansar was training with biological and chemical weapons, but the French remained unconvinced.

On Oct. 27, 2003, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith sent a classified memo to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee detailing no fewer than 50 separate credible intelligence reports on contacts between top al-Qaeda members and Iraqi intelligence. It's simply inconceivable that the French, for all their close ties to Saddam, had seen none of it.

Powell and de Villepin continued to duke it out in Davos, Switzerland, during the World Economic Forum that weekend. De Villepin again warned that France would veto any U.S.-backed resolution at the U.N. to authorize the use of force, and said his European colleagues agreed with him that the U.N. inspections should be extended by "several weeks, or for several months."

Powell reminded the Frenchman of the bonds of blood tying America to France and the sacrifices Americans had made to free Europe from tyranny. "We've put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives," he said. "We've asked for nothing but enough land to bury them in." Now, things appeared to have changed. "One or two of our friends, we have been in marriage counseling with for 225 years nonstop," he said, indicating France. He didn't utter the word "divorce," but it was clear that the marriage counseling had reached an impasse.

The French never fully appreciated the dramatic changes in American thinking that followed 9/11, a top de Villepin adviser admitted. They found it inconceivable that the United States could feel threatened by the possibility of a nuclear-armed Saddam Hussein. But when I asked how French national security would have been threatened by acquiescing to U.S. war plans - what was so important to French vital interests to require them actively to oppose the U.S. - de Villepin's adviser sank into a stunned silence that lasted nearly a minute.

In the end, he uttered a mush about hurting the feelings of the Arabs. "Nations don't always act from self-interest, but also from conviction," he said finally. "We believed someone had to speak up to express the objections of a large majority of the international community who disagreed with the American policy and who had no spokesman. We were like the Roman tribune."

In fact, there was "very little debate" within the Foreign Ministry or elsewhere about opposing America during the crisis, another top official told me in Paris. "The policy was driven by de Villepin and by Chirac personally. Only five or six senior advisers dared to raise questions about how de Villepin was handling himself."

The naysayers were in a distinct minority at the Quai d'Orsay, and nonexistent at the presidential palace; indeed, they keep a low profile these days. "There was never any misunderstanding between us and the Americans," this official said. "Both sides knew each other's positions very well. It was a fundamental difference in viewpoints. We simply didn't share the U.S. perception of the threat and actively tried to block the U.S. from preventive military action it considered to be an act of legitimate self-defense."

A U.S. diplomat involved in the exchanges agreed - up to a point. "The French knew exactly what our thinking was. But until Jan. 20, we had thought they were totally with us."

There was good reason for the Bush administration's confidence, as I can reveal here for the first time. Until Jan. 20, I learned in interviews with a half-dozen administration officials directly involved in the negotiations, the French had gone out of their way privately to assure the president, the secretary of state and U.S. diplomats working the issue that they backed the U.S. in the showdown with Saddam, even if it included the use of force.

When the Iraqis stonewalled United Nations arms inspectors in late October 2002, Chirac picked up the phone and called President Bush in the Oval Office to reiterate French support for a strong United Nations resolution that would include the option of using force.

In early December, he sent a top French military official to CENTCOM [United States Central Command] headquarters in Tampa, Fla., to negotiate the specifics of the French participation in the war.

"Chirac personally told the president he would be with us," one senior U.S. administration official told me. "We didn't know until the ambush that France would not go to war with us. We thought they might complain, or abstain, or not vote - but not that they would actually veto." Added another, who was privy to the Oval Office conversation, "Chirac's assurances are what gave the president the confidence to keep sending Colin Powell back to the U.N. They also explain why the administration has been going after the French so aggressively ever since. They lied."

Back in Washington, Pentagon adviser Richard Perle said publicly some of the things Powell was too polite to utter even in private.

A former undersecretary of defense in the Reagan administration, Perle now headed the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board and was close friends with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and Powell's deputy, Richard Armitage. Far from being an automatic France-basher, Perle was a dedicated Francophile who owned a vacation home in France and for two decades had maintained close personal ties to many top figures in the French defense and security establishment.

The French government, he told Fox News Sunday, was acting not on principle as it claimed, but on behalf of its commercial interests. "It's ironic that people accuse the United States of being interested in oil," he said. "If you want to see who's interested in oil, look at French policy. It is entirely self-concerned, and it has to do with oil contracts and very little else."

At a conference on Iraq in Washington the day before Powell's Feb. 5 presentation to the U.N. on Iraqi WMD, he suggested that France by its behavior was demonstrating that it had parted company with the United States. "France is no longer the ally it once was. I think it is reasonable to ask whether this country should now or on any other occasion subordinate its most fundamental national-security interests to a show of hands that happens to include governments whose interests are different from our own. Deep in the soul of Jacques Chirac, he believes that Saddam Hussein is preferable to the alternative that is likely to emerge when Iraq is liberated."

Throughout the crisis, the French press painted a picture of the diplomatic tug of war that showed the United States as isolated and France as the voice of reason whose proposals to prolong the U.N. inspection regime "have been particularly well received." The arms inspectors had just reported that "the verification of Iraq's disarmament is now within reach," Le Figaro gushed, in a modern-day version of the infamous "peace in our time" comment by British prime minister Neville Chamberlain after he and his French counterpart had ceded Czechoslovakia to Hitler in Munich in 1938.

Foreign Minister de Villepin was an international celebrity, wrote Le Figaro, "whose speech [at the U.N.] received a standing ovation from the gallery reserved for the public and the press." Others were less flattering, and referred to de Villepin as the "Energizer bunny of diplomacy," or took to calling him "Zorro," and "Nero."

More significant, however, was de Villepin's adoration of two historical figures: Napoleon, whose slogan was "victory or death, but glory whatever happens," and Machiavelli, who perfected the art of the diplomatic lie.

"The problem with you Americans," de Villepin hectored a visiting United States senator in Paris last December, "is that you don't read Machiavelli." His meaning, the senator's aide told me, was crystal clear. De Villepin and Chirac had lied to the United States during the Iraq crisis, and if we didn't like it, we should get over it. That's how the "big boys" played politics.

Kenneth R. Timmerman is a senior writer for Insight magazine.

Energy Independence Is a Pipeline Dream in Ukraine
Post April 2, 2004
By Ilan Berman

In Eastern Europe a new chapter has opened in the quiet battle over a pivotal pipeline. That route is Odessa-Brody, and its fate will help shape the political and economic future of much of the "post-Soviet space."

When initiated by Ukraine back in 1993, Odessa-Brody was envisioned as a much-needed independent energy conduit for the Caspian region, one capable of linking Central Asian producers with European markets. The resulting 674-kilometer pipeline, stretching northwest from the Black Sea port of Odessa to Brody in western Ukraine, has the capacity to carry up to 14.5 million tons of oil a year. But since its completion in 2001 it has remained mostly idle, a casualty of the region's post-Cold War energy politics.

All that has begun to change, however. In mid-January, Warsaw and Kiev came to terms on a pivotal deal to extend Odessa-Brody into Poland. Under the agreement a new Polish-Ukrainian conglomerate will extend the pipeline 500 kilometers to the Polish port city of Gdansk during the next two to three years. Once operational, the route would be used to supply tankers bound for Western and Northern Europe with Caspian crude.

The deal represents a substantial blow to Russian plans. For years Moscow has intensively lobbied Kiev for a "reversal" of the pipeline. Under the scheme proposed by the Kremlin, the currently dormant Odessa-Brody route - intended for westward flows - would instead be used to ferry Russian oil south to the Black Sea, from where it would be shipped via tanker to world markets.

The reason for this intention is clear. Kremlin officials understand full well that Odessa-Brody has the potential to deal a fatal blow to Russia's current near monopoly on Caspian energy. Extended to Gdansk, the pipeline would be an important alternative to the Bosphorus Straits (already suffering from chronic tanker congestion) for bringing Central Asian oil westward. Worse still, from Russia's perspective, the resulting European and U.S. economic attention would all but cement Kiev's westward trajectory.

Poland is also an important factor in the Kremlin's thinking. Over the last year ties between Warsaw and Washington have seen an unprecedented political and military expansion, a result of plans now under way at the Pentagon to redeploy U.S. troops currently stationed in Europe to new bases farther east. Now the Odessa-Brody extension deal has positioned Poland to be a major energy hub for new, non-OPEC and non-Russian crude from Central Asia, as well.

Russian officials similarly understand that an Odessa-Brody reversal would eliminate many of these worries. Such a move would do more than simply tighten Moscow's grip over Ukraine's energy infrastructure, which would be dedicated in large part to the transportation of Urals crude to the Black Sea. It would also profoundly affect Kiev's political future, dampening Western investment and making the Ukrainian government increasingly dependent on Moscow's tender mercies. Not least, it would effectively isolate Poland from the emerging Caspian energy scene.

The Kremlin has, therefore, refused a more logical, eastern route for Russian crude through russified eastern Ukraine. That pipeline, dubbed "Kremenchuk-Sniherivka," boasts nearly double the capacity of Odessa-Brody. And at $3 less per ton than its western counterpart, shipment of oil through Kremenchuk-Sniherivka makes sound fiscal sense for Moscow. But since the Odessa-Brody issue has less to do with output than with controlling Ukraine's economic and political independence, Russia has continued to press for reversal.

Now the signing of the Odessa-Gdansk extension agreement has breathed new life into Ukraine's dreams of energy independence. Working with international investors and its neighbor to the northwest, Kiev has the opportunity to reverse its accelerating slide of the last several years into the Kremlin's orbit - the result of costly energy, political and economic concessions made to Russia.

Furthermore, Ukrainian officials appear to be seizing this opportunity. In consultations with Washington, they have made clear their intention to press forward with Odessa-Brody's European direction. And the Ukrainian Cabinet officially has given its blessing to such a plan, formally voting in early February to reject reversal.

Odessa-Brody, however, still can be derailed by power politics. With Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma again under fire politically - this time as a result of a series of controversial constitutional amendments aimed at manipulating the electoral process - the current administration in Kiev may find it tempting to turn once again to the Kremlin to broker its continued legitimacy. And with the Gdansk extension as yet unbuilt, Moscow still has reason to hope that Kiev could be coaxed into adopting reversal, ostensibly as an interim measure.

Nevertheless, Ukraine has taken a major step toward cementing its Westward orientation. The United States and its allies in Europe should do everything in their power to ensure that it stays the course.

Ilan Berman is vice president for policy at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington. Contact Berman at
U.S. Slaps Sanctions Over Alleged Iran Nuke Supplies
Prague, 3 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The United States has imposed sanctions on 13 foreign companies because they are suspected of selling equipment to Iran that could be used to build nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

The companies will be banned from exporting goods to U.S. government agencies and U.S. firms will be barred from doing business with them for two years.

U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the companies affected are from seven countries.

"Pursuant to the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000, the United States imposed penalties on 13 companies that engaged in providing prohibited items to Iran. Those companies include five Chinese, two Macedonian, two Russian and one of -- one from Belarus, one from North Korea, one from Taiwan, and one from the United Arab Emirates," he said.

Ereli did not name the companies concerned, except for the one in North Korea, a state-run company named Changgwang Sinyong Corp.

Ereli said the penalties apply only to the companies, but not to their respective governments.

"The penalties were imposed pursuant to the Act because there was credible information indicating that these companies had transferred to Iran, since January 1st, 1999, either equipment and technology on the export -- multilateral export control lists or items such as those on the list but falling below control list parameters or other items with the potential of making a material contribution to proscribed programs," he said.

Ereli said that 23 entities have been subject to sanctions since the law took effect.

Earlier this week sanctions were lifted on six Russian companies after U.S. authorities determined that the companies had stopped the activity for which they were originally sanctioned.

Ereli said U.S. officials regularly discussed the issue of exports to Iran with the governments of China and Russia, and are in the process of informing officials in the remaining countries.

"There is always, I think, more that we can all do, in terms of enforcement of regulations and making the regulatory environment more strict and implementing export control, existing export-control mechanisms. But it is, to put it simply, an important subject of ongoing discussion with the host countries, and it's something that we really engage on very, very consistently," Ereli said.

Undersecretary of State John Bolton last month accused Iran of concealing a nuclear weapons program and vowed to
maintain international pressure on Tehran to reveal its efforts.


Posted by maximpost at 11:47 PM EST
Friday, 2 April 2004


April 2, 2004 -- Is the clock ticking on Secretary General Kofi Annan's merry pranks at the United Nations?
Could be.
The rank corruption of the body's Iraqi Oil-for-Food program is bubbling slowly to the surface - promising to ensnare scores of European politicians and businessmen, as well as a gaggle of Annan's Turtle Bay colleagues.
An upcoming audit being prepared by a firm that successfully traced stolen Holocaust-era assets is expected to confirm the names of some 200 people and companies around the world who allegedly were bribed by Saddam's regime.
The list, found in Iraq's Oil Ministry, was first cited by an Iraqi newspaper, al Mada, at the end of January.
Meanwhile, the General Accounting Office estimates that Saddam Hussein skimmed as much as $10.1 billion from the $47 billion program - originally established in 1996 to buy humanitarian supplies for ordinary Iraqis.
Among those expected to be named are the head of the U.N. program, the Russian Communist Party, the PLO and "a French businessman close to President Jacques Chirac."
This, of course, may help explain Chirac's implacable opposition to the dispossession of Saddam a year ago.
And Kofi Annan's longtime pro-Saddam bent, as well.
As Andrew Apostolou notes on the preceeding page, Annan's immortal words - "I think I can do business" with Saddam - take on an entirely new meaning.
This much is clear: Saddam was able to turn the program into a mystery- shrouded tool for sanctions-busting, bribery and international influence-peddling.
The fog began to clear in February after the name of Benon Sevan - the U.N.-appointed executive director of the Oil-for-Food program - appeared on the al Mada list.
According to al Mada, individuals, corporations and political parties on the list received cash-convertible oil vouchers from Saddam.
Sevan apparently was given vouchers for at least 11 million barrels of oil, worth some $3.5 billion. No wonder the program he ran:
* Knowingly collaborated with Saddam's massive violations of the U.N.'s own sanctions.
* Said and did nothing about the Saddam regime's use of Oil-for-Food income to build presidential palaces.
* Ignored huge kickbacks, thereby making itself complicit in Saddam's bribery of foreign leaders, opinion-makers and companies.
* Permitted the regime to cheat Kurds in northern Iraq of billions - money, by the way, that is still unaccounted for.
This much, too, is clear: The vast profits for foreign companies made possible by abuses of the Oil-for-Food program helped buy foreign support for the Baghdad regime.
Saddam made a point of throwing Oil-for-Food business and oil-voucher bribes at contractors from key countries, especially those with vetoes on the Security Council, like France and Russia:
* Forty-six recipients of illegal allocations of oil were Russian companies or individuals - many with links to President Vladimir Putin.
* French interests were so deeply involved in corrupt Oil-for-Food dealings that France opposed the ending of sanctions even after Saddam had fallen.
And the scheme seems to have worked: France, Russia and Germany were all hostile to military action to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
Is it any wonder that Russia and France now oppose independent inquiries into the scam, although Secretary General Kofi Annan - under extreme pressure - has nominally agreed to the idea?
The Iraqi Governing Council has been probing the scam since al Mada first revealed it. The audit, prepared for the council by KPMG and the law firm Freshfield Bruckhaus Deringer, is due in May.
Complicating the effort, however, is the refusal of the BNP Paribas Bank of France to make available critical Oil-for-Food program records.
And U.N. officials in New York have declined to send necessary statements for months.
Yes, the U.N. says an "internal inquiry" is under way.
But, given that Kofi Annan's son Kojo is linked to the scandal, it's not hard to imagine how hard that effort will be pressed.
And though the elder Annan has admitted to the need for an outside inquiry, there's no reason to believe that he - or anyone else at the U.N. - will be even slightly helpful when it counts.
Remember, folks as high-ranking as the president of Indonesia, former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua and pro-Saddam British politician George Galloway are implicated.
These are, after all, people with substantial influence at Turtle Bay.
And there are others - many others - who are similarly situated.
Plus, it has now become undeniable that the folks Kofi Annan had running the program were fully aware of the graft they were enabling.
Indeed, for Kofi Annan to say - as he did last week - that he was agreeing to an investigation "because I don't think we need to have our reputation impugned" is simply laughable.
His own son is part of it.
Here's the bottom line:
A U.N. program that was supposed to help the Iraqi people instead stole from them - and, worse, collaborated with their oppressor.
Those responsible for this colossal theft are international criminals - and the same goes for those who covered for them at the U.N. Secretariat.
The United Nations itself stands bereft of moral authority when it comes to Iraq, and to America's heroic effort to reclaim that tortured nation for its people.
Kofi Annan needs to disappear, and to take his son with him.
Neither Jacques Chirac nor Vladimir Putin possess a shred of decency, so nothing can be expected from them.
But none of them - not Annan, not Chirac, not Putin - has any standing in the debate over Iraq's future.
The same goes for the entire United Nations, as well.



April 2, 2004 -- ALMOST a year after the fall of Baghdad, everybody knows that Saddam Hussein stole billions from the Iraqi people. What is now emerging is that the United Nations was his partner in crime - aiding and abetting him during the eight-year Oil-for-Food program.
Initially an attempt to alleviate the hardship of U.N. sanctions on Iraqis, Oil-for-Food raises troubling questions not only about the United Nations' competence, but its role in propping up Saddam's tyrannical regime.
The program was theoretically designed to take Iraq's oil revenues out of Saddam's hands and use them for the benefit of the Iraqi people. The United Nations was to supervise the sale of Iraqi oil and then ensure that the oil money went for food and medicine, not tanks and mustard gas.
But Saddam - with U.N. compliance, if not connivance - subverted all of those aims. His grip on Iraq was tightened, not loosened, while his monstrous sons rolled in U.N.-provided riches.
Uday, the older son, even got U.N. funds for his Iraqi National Olympic Committee. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan agreed on June 13, 2002 to hand over $20 million to build an Iraqi Olympic arena, part of Uday's absurd bid for the 2012 Olympics. A renowned rapist, Uday used to torture Iraqi athletes if they failed to win international competitions.
His father? Saddam built new palaces throughout the eight years of the program. Gen. Tommy Franks got it right when he reached Baghdad in April 2003: The Iraqi dictator's rule was an "Oil for Palace" program.
Although the United Nations supposedly kept an eye on the price at which Saddam sold Iraqi oil, in reality the Iraqi strongman set the prices and forced his customers to pay him kickbacks. The Iraqi regime then used this money to bribe and buy influence abroad.
One recipient of that largesse was Shakir al-Khafaji, a Detroit businessman who stumped up $400,000 for former U.N. arms inspector Scott Ritter to make "In Shifting Sands," an anti-sanctions film. Meanwhile, back in Iraq, Saddam's secret police punished hundreds of thousands of Shi'a Iraqis by taking away their U.N. ration cards, forcing them into the very poverty from which the U.N. program was supposed to protect them.
Another group of Iraqis that never received their fair share of oil revenues, thanks to U.N. collaboration, was the Kurds. The oil revenues were supposed to be divided up in such a way as to protect Iraq's Kurds, whose regions Saddam had devastated with a genocidal campaign of village destruction and executions in the late '80s. Oil-for-Food theoretically guaranteed the Kurds their fair share of Iraq's national wealth - 13 percent of all Iraqi oil revenues - for the first time in their history.
Difficulties arose almost from the first day because of the way that Annan organized the program. Rejecting advice from experienced U.N. staff, he decided against having one U.N. agency oversee the whole scheme. Instead, Annan created an Oil-for-Food program office in New York to oversee the work of nine U.N. agencies which in turn dealt with the Iraqis, introducing a pointless and costly layer of bureaucracy.
Many of these U.N. agencies used their Middle East offices to implement Oil-for-Food. Staffed mostly with Sunni Arabs, they proved sympathetic to Saddam's Arab nationalism and uninterested in the welfare of Iraqis - especially Iraqi Kurds.
The Iraqi government was quick to exploit this bias for its own political ends. The Cairo office of the U.N.'s World Health Organization managed to stall the building of a new general hospital for the Kurdish city of Sulaimani, even though the funds were available in 1998.
Over the life of Oil-for-Food, the Kurds barely got half of the $8.4 billion allocated to them - they are still owed some $4 billion. Who owes it to them? Well, the United Nations was supposed to pay them, out of accounts entrusted to it. But the status of any funds remaining in those accounts is in dispute - and the U.N. is balking at efforts to clarify things. It won't even let anyone else examine its books.
Saddam didn't just use Oil-for-Food to give preferential treatment to Iraqis: He rewarded foreign friends, too. He favored Russian and French contractors, even insisting that all Iraqi oil earnings be paid into just one bank, BNP Paribas in Paris.
One of the largest shareholders in the bank as of 2000 was Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi Sunni who was involved in Saddam's 1959 assassination attempt on Iraq's then head of state, Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Qassem.
Auchi was the sort of business partner that Saddam liked. Auchi was convicted in a French court in November 2003 of accepting illegal payments in a major corruption scandal at a French state-owned oil company. (He got a 15-month suspended prison sentence and a $2.4 million fine.)
After Saddam and his cronies, the main beneficiary of Oil-for-Food was the U.N. payroll. To make the program self-financing, the United Nations took its cut off the top - 2.2 percent of Iraqi oil sales for its administrative costs, plus 0.8 percent to pay for weapons inspections (in four of Oil-for-Food's eight years), allowing the United Nations to walk away with $1.9 billion of Iraqi oil money. U.N. staff employed by the Oil-for-Food program ballooned to 3,000, the largest single U.N. program in the world.
No wonder that when Kofi Annan met Saddam Hussein in February 1998, he said that the Iraqi dictator was a man that "I can do business with."
Andrew Apostolou is director of research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He has just returned from Iraq.


Chicago, L.A. towers were next targets
By Paul Martin
LONDON -- Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, al Qaeda's purported operations chief, has told U.S. interrogators that the group had been planning attacks on the Library Tower in Los Angeles and the Sears Tower in Chicago on the heels of the September 11, 2001, terror strikes.
Those plans were aborted mainly because of the decisive U.S. response to the New York and Washington attacks, which disrupted the terrorist organization's plans so thoroughly that it could not proceed, according to transcripts of his conversations with interrogators.
Mohammed told interrogators that he and Ramzi Yousuf, his nephew who was behind an earlier attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, had leafed through almanacs of American skyscrapers when planning the first operation.
"We were looking for symbols of economic might," he told his captors.
He specifically mentioned as potential targets the Library Tower in Los Angeles, which was "blown up" in the film "Independence Day," and the Sears Tower in Chicago.
A British newspaper over the weekend published a detailed account that it said was taken from transcripts of the interrogation of Mohammed, who was captured last year in Pakistan.
The transcripts are prefaced with a warning that Mohammed, the most senior al Qaeda member yet to be caught, "has been known to withhold information or deliberately mislead."
According to the transcript, Mohammed has maintained that Zacarias Moussaoui, the French-Moroccan facing trial in the United States as the "20th hijacker," had been sent to a flight school in Minnesota to train for a West Coast attack.
That would buttress Moussaoui's contention that he is improperly charged with participation in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, because he was preparing for a different al Qaeda operation.
The new transcripts confirm an earlier report by the Associated Press that al Qaeda originally had planned to crash hijacked airliners into targets on both coasts.
The London Sunday Times said the transcripts covered interrogations conducted during a period of four months after a bleary-eyed Mohammed was captured in a pre-dawn raid a little more than a year ago.
The confessions reveal that planning for the September 11 attacks started much earlier and was more elaborate than previously thought.
"The original plan was for a two-pronged attack with five targets on the East Coast of America and five on the West Coast," he told interrogators, according to the transcript.
"We talked about hitting California as it was America's richest state, and [al Qaeda leader Osama] bin Laden had talked about economic targets."
He is reported to have said that bin Laden, who like Mohammed had studied engineering, vetoed simultaneous coast-to-coast attacks, arguing that "it would be too difficult to synchronize."
Mohammed then decided to conduct two waves of attacks, hitting the East Coast first and following up with a second series of attacks.
"Osama had said the second wave should focus on the West Coast," he reportedly said.
But the terrorists seem to have been surprised by the strength of the American reaction to the September 11 attacks.
"Afterwards, we never got time to catch our breath, we were immediately on the run," Mohammed is quoted as saying.
Al Qaeda's communications network was severely disrupted, he said. Operatives could no longer use satellite phones and had to rely on couriers, although they continued to use Internet chat rooms.
"Before September 11, we could dispatch operatives with the expectation of follow-up contact, but after October 7 [when U.S. bombing started in Afghanistan], that changed 180 degrees. There was no longer a war room ... and operatives had more autonomy."
Mohammed told interrogators that he remained in Pakistan for 10 days after September 11, 2001, then went to Afghanistan to find bin Laden.
When he was captured in March last year in the home of a microbiologist in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, the 37-year-old was unshaven and wearing a baggy vest.
The interrogation reports also indicate that Mohammed had introduced bin Laden to Hambali, the Indonesian militant accused in the terror attack that killed more than 200 people in Bali, Indonesia, in October 2002.
Mohammed was running a hostel filtering al Qaeda recruits in Peshawar, Pakistan, when he scouted Hambali, whose real name is Riduan Ismuddin and who ran the Islamist group Jemaah Islamiyah in Asia.
Later, Mohammed moved to Karachi, Pakistan. There, posing as a businessman importing holy water from Mecca, Saudi Arabia, he acted as a fund-raiser and intermediary between militants and sponsors in the Gulf.
His first planned anti-American attack was Operation Bojinka (Serbo-Croatian for "big bang") -- a plot to blow up 12 U.S. airliners over the Pacific.
Yousuf and Hambali were involved in the scheme, which failed when the conspirators' Manila bomb factory caught fire. The men fled to Pakistan, where Yousuf was arrested.


Chalabi's road to victory?
By Arnaud de Borchgrave
With only three months to go before L. Paul Bremer trades in his Iraqi proconsul baton for beach ware and a hard-earned vacation, the country's most controversial politician is already well positioned to become prime minister.
Ahmad Chalabi, the Pentagon's heartthrob and the State Department's and CIA's heartbreak, has taken the lead in a yearlong political marathon. Temporary constitutional arrangements are structured to give the prime minister more power than the president. The role of the president will be limited because his decisions will have to be ratified by two deputy presidents, or vice presidents. Key ministries, such as Defense and Interior, will take orders from the PM.
Mr. Chalabi holds the ultimate weapons -- several dozen tons of documents and individual files seized by his Iraqi National Congress (INC) from Saddam Hussein's secret security apparatus. Coupled with his position as head of the de-Ba'athification commission, Mr. Chalabi, barely a year since he returned to his homeland after 45 years of exile, has emerged as the power behind a vacant throne.
He also appears to have impressive amounts of cash at his disposal and a say in which companies get the nod for some of the $18.4 billion earmarked for reconstruction.
One company executive who asked that both his and the company's name be withheld said, "The commission was steep even by Middle Eastern standards."
Mr. Chalabi is still on the Defense Intelligence Agency's budget for a secret $340,000 monthly stipend. The $40 million the INC received since 1994 from the U.S. also covered the expenses of Iraqi military defectors' stories about weapons of mass destruction and the Iraqi regime's links with al Qaeda -- which provided President Bush a casus belli for the war on Iraq.
When Mr. Chalabi established the Petra Bank in Amman, Jordan, in the 1980s, he favored small loans to military officers, noncommissioned officers, royal guards and intelligence officers. He developed a close rapport with then Crown Price Hassan who borrowed a total of $20 million.
After Petra went belly up with a loss of $300 million at the decade's end, Mr. Chalabi escaped to Syria in a car supplied by Hassan -- minutes ahead of the officers who had come to arrest him for embezzling his own bank. The Petra fiasco debacle left him sufficient funds to launch INC a few days later.
Today, the mathematician, trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says he has the documents that will prove he was framed by two Husseins -- Saddam and the late king of Jordan -- who wanted to end his anti-Iraqi activities. Jordan used to get most of its oil needs from Iraq free or heavily discounted, which explains why King Hussein declined to join the anti-Iraq coalition in the first Gulf war.
Sentenced in Jordan, in absentia, to 22 years hard labor for massive bank fraud, Mr. Chalabi hints he also has incriminating evidence of a close "subsidiary" relationship between Jordan's King Abdullah and Saddam's depraved, sadistic elder son Uday, killed last year in a shootout with U.S. troops.
Potentially embarrassing for prominent U.S. citizens, Mr. Chalabi's aides hint his treasure trove of Mukhabarat documents includes names of American "agents of influence" on Saddam's payroll, as well as a number of Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV news reporters who worked for Iraqi intelligence.
The final selection for prime minister will need the assent of the president and his two deputies -- representing the country's three principal ethnic and religious groupings. Standard bearer for Iraq's 60 percent Shi'ite majority and free Iraq's first president will be Abdulaziz Hakim. He is the brother of Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, killed last year with 90 worshippers when a car bomb rocked the country's holiest Shiite shrine in Najaf. With an Islamic green light from Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Ayatollah Hakim will almost certainly opt for fellow Shi'ite Mr. Chalabi as prime minister.
Slated for one of the two vice presidencies is Adnan Pachachi, a Sunni octogenarian with a secular liberal outlook. He was foreign minister and ambassador to the U.N. before the Ba'athists seized power in a 1968 military coup. Mr. Pachachi's nod may also go to Mr. Chalabi.
For the third leg of the troika, rival Kurdish parties have agreed to unite behind Jalal Talibani, chief of the Kurdistani National Federation, His vote, now believed favorable, would make it 3 out of 3 for Mr. Chalabi.
Referring to Mr. Chalabi, a former U.S. ambassador recently back from an extended trip to Iraq, said: "Anyone who can get the U.S. to invade Iraq must be a very clever politician. As for the people his INC coached in London to disinform the U.S. intelligence community about Saddam's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, you've got to hand it to the guy. Don't blame him. Blame the Pentagon for not seeing through him."
If Mr. Chalabi's fast track to power is not derailed and he becomes prime minister in July, the president won't be able to fire him unless his two deputies agree.
The provisional constitution seems tailor-made for Mr. Chalabi to call the shots into 2005. As head of the Governing Council's economic and finance committee, Mr. Chalabi already has maneuvered loyalists into key Cabinet positions in the provisional authority -- finance, oil and trade. The Central Bank governor, the head of the trade bank and the managing director of the largest commercial bank also owe their positions to Mr. Chalabi's influence.
While in London exile, he cultivated close contacts with Israeli officials. He has also visited Iran a number of times to confer with leading ayatollahs in a bid for their support. He was given permission to open an INC office in Tehran. His strongest backers in the U.S. are Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and neo-conservative theoretician ("An End to Evil") Richard Perle.
All the bases are loaded for a home run by MVP Chalabi. If successful, it will be an additional campaign issue President Bush could have done without.
Good riddance to sick sadist Saddam. But was Mr. Chalabi a worthy democratic trade? And how will voters react when they become convinced the U.S. taxpayers funded Mr. Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress to train defectors on how best to convince the Bush administration that Iraq was a clear and present danger? Two hundred billion dollars later, the mind reels.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International.

Untested Islamic Militants Emerging, U.S. Official Says
By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 2, 2004; Page A20
A new cadre of untested Islamic militants is emerging to take the place of leaders in Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, which is now under "catastrophic stress" as a result of international operations over the past 30 months, the senior State Department counterterrorism official told a House International Relations subcommittee yesterday.
At least 70 percent of al Qaeda's senior leadership has been detained or killed since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks triggered a worldwide offensive against the network, and the remaining 30 percent is largely on the run, State Department counterterrorism coordinator J. Cofer Black testified. The movement has been "deeply wounded" by the elimination or arrest of more than 3,400 lower-level members and allies, forcing it "to evolve in ways not entirely by its own choosing," he said.
As a result, several newer and smaller groups, made up predominantly of Sunni Muslims, are moving in to take the lead in the jihadist holy war agenda against the United States and its allies, which has complicated the task of stamping out the threat from Islamic militants, said Black, a former CIA counterterrorism official.
"As al Qaeda's known senior leadership, planners, facilitators and operators are brought to justice, a new cadre of leaders is being forced to step up. These individuals are increasingly no longer drawn from the old guard, no longer the seasoned veteran al Qaeda trainers from Afghanistan's camps or close associates of al Qaeda's founding members," Black told the House subcommittee. "These relatively untested terrorists are assuming far greater responsibilities."
In another ominous sign, Black said, al Qaeda's ideology and its virulent anti-U.S. rhetoric are also spreading well beyond traditional strongholds, inspiring scores of Muslim groups. They include Ansar al-Islam in Iraq, the network of cells created by Jordanian Abu Musab Zarqawi; the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan; the Salafist Group for Call and Combat in North Africa; and the Salifia Jihadia in Morocco, which claimed credit for the 2003 bombings in Casablanca.
"Identifying and acting against the leadership, capabilities and operational plans of these groups poses a serious challenge now and for years to come," Black said.
Beyond the groups is the further problem represented by thousands of militants -- from conflicts such as Chechnya, Kashmir and Kosovo -- who migrate to other conflicts, Black told the subcommittee. The jihadists are a "ready source of recruits" for al Qaeda and its affiliates. And Iraq is a "focal point" for jihadists who are linking up with Sunnis opposed to the occupation.
But crackdowns by the United States and others have had an extensive impact on the al Qaeda network, disrupting the leadership, hampering coordination, isolating cells and eliminating potential sanctuaries or training bases, including facilities in Afghanistan where members were working on chemical and biological weapons programs, he said.
As a result, he said, al Qaeda and its allies have been forced to delay operations and have made mistakes, such as the 2003 attack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, at a housing complex for foreigners who turned out to be mainly Muslims. "The decisionmaking process, the ability to process operational activity is increasingly difficult for them," Black said. "It is a challenge for them to conduct this type of [major] attack."

? 2004 The Washington Post Company


Group Linked to Al Qaeda Suspected in Uzbek Unrest
By Peter Baker
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, April 2, 2004; Page A17
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, April 1 -- The explosions and gunfire that have shaken this Central Asian nation this week appear to signal the return of a once crippled radical group closely affiliated with al Qaeda that is devoted to toppling the secular government, Uzbek security officials and foreign diplomats said Thursday.
Although President Islam Karimov initially attributed the unrest to Hizb ut-Tahrir, or Party of Liberation, an extreme but avowedly nonviolent Islamic organization, investigators have backed away from that theory. Instead, they increasingly are focusing on the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan or IMU, a paramilitary force that fought alongside the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan in 2001 only to be devastated by a U.S. bombing campaign that killed its military commander, Juma Namangani.
If the IMU did orchestrate this week's attacks, it would indicate the group has managed to reconstitute itself into a dangerous force, despite initial claims by Karimov and U.S. officials that it had been destroyed. A non-American diplomat in Tashkent estimated Thursday that the IMU has 800 active members in Uzbekistan enlisted from the ranks of Muslims bristling at the repression of Karimov's authoritarian government. About 7,000 Muslims in the country have been jailed for their religious or political beliefs, according to human rights groups, and many have been subjected to torture.
"I'm almost certain it's the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan," said the diplomat, who declined to be identified to avoid offending the government. "They're regrouping and restrengthening. They have a lot of young male recruits who weren't part of the organization at the time of Afghanistan. And the recruiting ground is the people who have been tortured and abused."
The wave of violence that has left at least 44 people dead extended to a fifth day Thursday when a female bomber killed one person in the ancient city of Bukhara. Attackers, many of them women, have largely concentrated on police rather than civilian or foreign targets.
Uzbek security officials said they believe the militants had been preparing for the assaults for six months or longer, but their plan was put in motion prematurely when they accidentally set off a bomb in a hide-out in Bukhara on Sunday, killing at least eight members of their cell and an infant.
The government has arrested about 30 people on terrorism charges for supporting the insurgents and has identified several of the bodies of the dead, all of them Uzbek, according to the security officials. Authorities also found aluminum powder, fertilizer and detonators that resembled the materials allegedly used by the IMU in a series of bombings in Tashkent in 1999, leading them to suspect the group now.
"They used the same explosives they used in '99," said one security official who declined to be named out of concern for his safety. "They haven't invented anything new."
What is new is the use of suicide bombings. "It's the first time this has happened in Central Asia," said a terrorism investigator at Uzbekistan's National Security Service who also spoke on condition of anonymity. Such tactics, he noted, were previously restricted to such places as Israel and Russia. "Now we face it."
And never in modern times has this former Soviet republic and newly minted U.S. ally experienced a week quite like this one. No sooner was the blood washed away from one scene of carnage than ambulances were rushing to another.
"Absolutely innocent people died there," Narmat Karayev,58, a retired aviation police officer, said outside the Children's World store in Tashkent, where a suicide bomber killed herself and two police officers Monday. "What they've done here, I consider it fascism."
The IMU was formed in the early 1990s with the aim of ousting Karimov and setting up an Islamic state, but it eventually moved to Afghanistan and became a wing of Osama bin Laden's forces. Namangani, the IMU's military commander, took over as head of a legion of al Qaeda's foreign allies, but he was killed during a U.S. airstrike. His fighters were crushed, and those who survived scattered.
Remnants of the IMU turned up last month in the tribal areas of Pakistan as government troops there battled militants. The group's political leader, Tahir Yuldash, was reported to have been wounded during the fighting, although that remains unconfirmed. Uzbek officials said they saw no direct link between the events in Pakistan and the violence here this week, adding that the regenerating IMU retains its base either in Pakistan or Afghanistan.
The diplomat said it appeared the IMU might be trying to kindle a revolution. Asked if Tashkent were akin to Iran's capital just before the 1979 Islamic revolution, he said, "No, but we might be in Tehran 1977."
Unlike in Iran, Islam in Uzbekistan after seven decades of Communist rule has largely been a moderate force. Few women in cities wear head scarves, mosques do not broadcast the call to prayer, beards are rare and alcohol is plentiful. But discontent has spread in this land of 25 million people along with economic hardship. Some specialists estimate that urban unemployment exceeds 40 percent, and possibly 60 percent among city dwellers under 30.
The Chorsu bazaar near Children's World offers a tableau of the hardscrabble life endured by many Uzbeks. Every day women spread sheets and sit on the asphalt trying to sell disparate goods -- toothpaste, shoes, bras, razors, eggs, pens and a laundry detergent called Barf. "You need to study our economy to understand the place," grumbled one trader who would not give her name. "See how people live?"
The adversity has muted public anger at the terrorist acts, with some Uzbeks suggesting the government had it coming. "Karimov himself is guilty of the whole thing," said Vladimir, 28, who makes $70 a month working in two factories. "He led the country to this point." Uzbeks, Vladimir added, regard the police "with disgust" because "for a little thing they can put you in jail."
The suicide bomber outside Children's World on Monday morning apparently targeted patrolling police officers during a shift change. Nilufar Yusumetova and other store clerks were sweeping the sidewalk when the blast occurred a couple of yards away. The sight left her shocked a few days later. "The leg was right there," she said, pointing. "Her head was over there. Her body was here."
Nasiba Djamalova was inside fixing a window display when the glass shattered and something hit her leg. She thought it was a brick. Only later, she said, did she learn that she had been struck by the charred and decapitated head of the suicide bomber. "If I'd known," Djamalova said, "I would have fainted."
Across town, at an apartment complex in Yalangacha few miles from Karimov's residence on the city's outskirts, residents said militants who battled police on Tuesday made a point of trying not to target civilians.
One resident said a female militant followed her into the apartment building but did not try to chase her into her flat, choosing instead to blow herself up. "She didn't mean harm to the people," said the woman, who like other tenants declined to give her name after police told them to stop speaking to visiting journalists. "She didn't try to open the doors. She didn't do anything to us."
But the militants did kill one resident, possibly by accident, a death that the government has not acknowledged. Shakir Muslimov, 34, wearing a new suit, emerged from his door at the wrong moment and was shot to death by a pistol-wielding militant who might have mistaken him for a police officer, according to his brother Shavkat. "He ran right into them," Shavkat said. "He just came out by accident."
Several other women blew themselves up over the course of the next seven or eight hours, neighbors said, while male militants were shot by police. By day's end, 20 suspected militants and three police officers had been killed, the Uzbek Interior Ministry said.
"They were shooting back at the military," said a 30-year-old woman wearing a frayed blue robe and worn pink plastic sandals. "This was a real war."

? 2004 The Washington Post Company

Slain Contractors Were in Iraq Working Security Detail
By Dana Priest and Mary Pat Flaherty
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, April 2, 2004; Page A16
The four men brutally slain Wednesday in Fallujah were among the most elite commandos working in Iraq to guard employees of U.S. corporations and were hired by the U.S. government to protect bureaucrats, soldiers and intelligence officers.
The men, all employees of Blackwater Security Consulting, were in the dangerous Sunni Triangle area operating under more hazardous conditions -- unarmored cars with no apparent backup -- than the U.S. military or the CIA permit.
U.S. government officials said yesterday that they suspect that the men were not victims of a random ambush but were set up as targets, which one defense official said suggested "a higher degree of organization and sophistication" among insurgents. "This is certainly cause for concern."
A Blackwater spokesman said the men were guarding a convoy on its way to deliver food to troops under a subcontract to a company named Regency Hotel and Hospitality. Three of those killed were identified by their families or a family spokesman yesterday as Jerry Zovko, 32, an Army veteran from Willoughby, Ohio; Michael Teague, 38, from Clarksville, Tenn.; and Scott Helvenston, 38. The other Blackwater employee was a former SEAL, the Navy's elite counterterrorism force.
The bodies of the four men were dragged through the streets by jubilant crowds.
Blackwater issued a statement saying it did not intend to release the victims' names. "Coalition forces and civilian contractors and administrators work side by side every day with the Iraqi people," the statement said. "Our tasks are dangerous and while we feel sadness for our fallen colleagues, we also feel pride and satisfaction that we are making a difference for the people of Iraq."
The Fallujah killings this week resonated heavily among the dozens of companies providing security services in Iraq.
"No one is retreating," said Mike Baker, chief executive of Diligence LLC, a Washington security firm with hundreds of employees in Iraq. "No one is calling saying we ought to pull our guys out. I don't think it's stopping anyone from going in. They are fully aware of the security situation."
But Baker, a former CIA case officer, added that how the military is "responding is going to be very important. If there's not a harsh, well-thought-out response, they will take that as a complete sign of weakness and they will become emboldened."
Blackwater has about 400 employees in Iraq, said one government official briefed by the company. Its armed commandos earn an average of about $1,000 a day.
Although most of their work is to act as bodyguards for corporate, humanitarian or government employees, they sometimes perform more precarious jobs that are inherently riskier -- escorting VIPs, doing reconnaissance for visits by government officials to particular locations.
Employees of security companies such as Blackwater frequently come under fire from insurgents. When they do, they fire back.
"Nobody wants to be seen as a cowboy, but the truth is that if someone pops a weapon up, you respond," Baker said. ". . . This is a very difficult environment. There is always a potential for a problem."
Blackwater, security experts said, is among the most professional of the dozens of multinational security firms in Iraq, most of them there to protect U.S. government employees, private firms, Iraqi facilities and oil pipelines.
The firm also protects officials of the Coalition Provisional Authority, including the U.S. governor in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer. It has contracts as well with the departments of Defense, State and Transportation.
The company also did work in Afghanistan during the war there, said people who have worked with company employees.
Blackwater is in Moyock, N.C., just across the Virginia border, and U.S. law enforcement and military personnel frequently use its 6,000-acre site for weapons training.
Government contracting records show Blackwater Training was paid $13 million between April 2002 and June 2003 for security training of Navy personnel.
The firm's president and training director, and Blackwater Security Consulting's director, are veteran Navy SEALs. The name Blackwater alludes to covert missions undertaken by elite divers at night.
Government officials who have been briefed by the company said Blackwater carefully vets its employees, the vast majority of whom are former military personnel, and puts them through rigorous training requiring the same skill levels as those possessed by U.S. Special Operations troops.
Blackwater Security Consulting was formed a year ago and is one of five private companies within Blackwater USA. The training center was started in 1996, and according to the company's promotional material was formed in response to "the anticipated demand for government outsourcing" of firearms and security training. In January, it reported sales of nearly $14 million.
Staff writer Jackie Spinner contributed to this report.

? 2004 The Washington Post Company
Energy Task Force Data Not Private
Agencies Ordered to Release Papers
By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 2, 2004; Page A23
A federal judge yesterday ordered several federal government agencies to release documents concerning their work on Vice President Cheney's energy task force or provide a legal reason for withholding them.
U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman rejected arguments by Bush administration lawyers that employees from the Department of the Interior and Department of Energy can claim special confidentiality privileges for the period when they worked for the task force, which held private meetings with energy industry representatives as it crafted a national energy policy.
Ruling that those employees were not engaged in a deliberative process and were not temporary employees of the White House, Friedman said the agencies must search for and produce records of their employees' task force assignments.
The judge's order, which requires release of documents by June 1, could potentially open a new window into the workings of Cheney's task force. In a related 2001 case, the Justice Department has four times appealed federal court rulings that the vice president release task force records. That case, in which Cheney claims his office has executive privilege, is now pending before the Supreme Court.
In this case, however, Friedman's decision means that the records of even the task force's director, Energy Department employee Andrew Lundquist, should generally be made public.
The National Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, and Judicial Watch, a government watchdog organization, have been trying for three years to obtain the records. The organizations claim the documents will show the extent to which the task force staff met secretly with industry executives to craft the Bush administration's energy policies, such as drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and weakening power plant pollution regulations.
Justice Department officials did not respond yesterday to inquiries about whether they will appeal Friedman's orders.
"The court's ruling is a wake-up call to the Bush administration: It's time to come clean about how it is doing the public's business," said NRDC senior attorney Sharon Buccino. "Once Congress and the American people finally get the details about what happened at the task force's closed-door meetings, the administration's energy plan will be revealed for what it is -- a payback to corporate polluters."
Friedman held a six-hour hearing on Jan. 26 on the issue of whether agency documents could be withheld after consolidating three lawsuits filed by NRDC and Judicial Watch that sought task force records.
After an order from the same federal court in 2002, the administration turned over tens of thousands of records. However, the administration had cited several privileges to avoid releasing the records of Lundquist and other federal agency employees who worked at the task force under him.
Buccino said the White House opposition is based on political considerations. "These records are going to show the top of the food chain -- who had direct access to the task force and what different industry representatives were asking the Bush administration for."
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton called the judge's order "a brushback to the government. . . . I read it to mean we will finally get documents from the heart of the energy task force."

? 2004 The Washington Post Company

L'administration Bush souhaite "bon vent" ? M. de Villepin
LE MONDE | 01.04.04 | 13h10 * MIS A JOUR LE 01.04.04 | 13h49
Dominique de Villepin quitte le Quai d'Orsay, ? la faveur du remaniement du gouvernement annonc? mercredi 31 mars. Nomm? ministre de l'int?rieur, il est remplac? par Michel Barnier, jusqu'alors commissaire europ?en. M. de Villepin avait incarn? jusqu'? l'extr?me la nouvelle politique ?trang?re de la France. Ses plaidoyers pour un "monde multipolaire" exasp?raient ? Washington. Le secr?taire d'Etat am?ricain, Colin Powell, a d?clar? "regretter de ne plus travailler avec lui". Les deux hommes s'?taient oppos?s, en particulier au Conseil de s?curit? de l'ONU, sur l'Irak. D'un temp?rament diff?rent, son successeur Michel Barnier devrait entretenir une relation plus calme avec l'administration Bush. Depuis quelques mois, Paris et Washington s'efforcent d'expliquer que les d?saccords appartiennent au pass?.
Washington de notre correspondant
La diplomatie am?ricaine a r?agi avec un soin particulier, mercredi 31 mars, au d?part de Dominique de Villepin du minist?re des affaires ?trang?res et ? son remplacement par Michel Barnier. Le d?partement d'Etat a indiqu? au Monde que Colin Powell, qui participait, ? Berlin, ? la conf?rence sur l'aide ? l'Afghanistan, avait t?l?phon? ? M. de Villepin, pour lui dire qu'il allait "regretter de ne plus travailler avec lui", pour le f?liciter de sa nomination au minist?re de l'int?rieur et pour lui souhaiter plein succ?s.
Le secr?taire d'Etat a aussi adress? ses f?licitations ? M. Barnier et lui a dit qu'il esp?rait le rencontrer bient?t. Selon un responsable du d?partement d'Etat, M. Powell a ?t? le premier ministre ?tranger qui ait appel? le nouvel occupant du Quai d'Orsay. Il est probable que le secr?taire d'Etat et M. Barnier auront l'occasion de faire connaissance lors de la r?union des ministres des affaires ?trang?res de l'OTAN, vendredi, ? Bruxelles, mais aucun entretien particulier n'est pr?vu ? cette occasion.
L'attention mise par Washington ? d?montrer sa consid?ration pour la France confine au formalisme. Les gestes accomplis le sont de fa?on si appuy?e qu'ils en viennent presque ? signifier le contraire de ce qu'ils semblent dire. "Les relations avec la France sont excellentes", a d?clar? Adam Ereli, porte-parole adjoint du d?partement d'Etat, au cours de son point de presse, avant que la composition du nouveau gouvernement ait ?t? rendue officielle ? Paris. Cette phrase est devenue une sorte de paravent, destin? ? cacher des d?saccords dont, de part et d'autre, on pr?f?re ne pas parler pour le moment.
Les rapports entre les Etats-Unis et l'Allemagne, sortis de ce que les responsables allemands appellent "l'?re glaciaire" de la p?riode 2002-2003, sont maintenant plus d?tendus. Le chancelier Gerhard Schr?der a ?t? re?u par George Bush, ? la Maison Blanche, fin f?vrier, et M. Powell ?tait ? Berlin mercredi. Certes, le pr?sident am?ricain a fini par accepter l'invitation de Jacques Chirac ? venir ? Paris, le 5 juin, puis en Normandie, le lendemain, pour c?l?brer le 60e anniversaire du d?barquement, mais la crispation reste perceptible.
Dans ce contexte, le changement d'affectation de M. de Villepin est consid?r? avec circonspection ? Washington. Sur le ministre lui-m?me et sur son r?le dans la crise des relations franco-am?ricaines, le commentaire de la Maison Blanche ?tait, mercredi, minimaliste. "C'?tait un avocat vigoureux de la France et de ses vues. Nous lui souhaitons bon vent", a d?clar? au Monde un responsable de la pr?sidence, qui a refus? d'en dire davantage. Le propos ?tait poli, voire sportif, mais d'une bri?vet? ?loquente. On se montrait plus chaleureux au d?partement d'Etat, o? M. de Villepin ?tait qualifi? de "coll?gue estim? et respect?".
Sur le fond, les Am?ricains maintiennent qu'au sujet de l'Irak la France n'a pas respect? son alliance avec les Etats-Unis, mais ils ajoutent que cet ?pisode appartient au pass? et que la coop?ration entre les deux pays est active. "Il n'y a pas lieu de parler de rapprochement, dit un responsable du d?partement d'Etat. Le gouvernement fran?ais agit dans l'int?r?t de la France. Il estime, aujourd'hui, que le partenariat et l'alliance avec les Etats-Unis sont conformes ? cet int?r?t." De son c?t?, M. Bush, pour des raisons ?lectorales, a besoin d'une "tr?ve" avec les Europ?ens qui se sont oppos?s ? sa politique, analyse Simon Serfaty, qui dirige le programme europ?en du Centre de recherches strat?giques et internationales (CRSI), un des grands instituts politiques de Washington.
La pr?paration des rencontres internationales de juin - sommet du G8 aux Etats-Unis, sommet de l'OTAN ? Istanbul, sommet Etats-Unis/Union europ?enne en Irlande - n'a pas donn? lieu, jusqu'? maintenant, ? des oppositions sp?cifiques entre Paris et Washington. Il n'y a pas de sujet ? propos duquel seraient apparues, avec M. de Villepin, des difficult?s que le changement de ministre pourrait aider ? aplanir. Sur le plan bilat?ral, les deux pays agissent en concertation en C?te d'Ivoire et ont fait cause commune en Ha?ti. Le fait que la France ait ?t? la premi?re ? prendre position pour le d?part de Jean-Bertrand Aristide est apparu, ? Washington, comme une bonne mani?re, qui a aid? M. Bush et M. Powell ? faire accepter cette politique, malgr? les critiques des d?mocrates.
Pris pour cible par la droite r?publicaine et, particuli?rement, par les n?oconservateurs, M. de Villepin, bizarrement qualifi? d'"ol?agineux", a ?t? parfois d?crit, dans la presse, comme le type m?me du dirigeant fran?ais arrogant et p?dant, auquel on ne peut pas se fier. Il a ?t? populaire, ? l'inverse, dans une partie du mouvement antiguerre, sensible ? sa d?fense de l'ONU. Pour l'essentiel, il ?tait consid?r? comme l'interpr?te - enthousiaste - des d?cisions de M. Chirac, plut?t que comme leur inspirateur.

Patrick Jarreau


Jacques Chirac : des Fran?ais en Irak ?
Jacques Chirac serait favorable ? un engagement de l'OTAN en Irak avec un mandat de l'ONU, et ne serait pas oppos? ? une participation de forces militaires fran?aises, a indiqu?, mercredi 31 mars, le s?nateur d?mocrate am?ricain Joseph Biden. "Chirac soutiendrait un engagement de l'OTAN en Irak et serait pr?t ? envoyer des militaires fran?ais", a affirm? M. Biden en citant "une conversation de deux heures" avec le pr?sident fran?ais sans pr?ciser quand et o? cet entretien a eu lieu. M. Biden, num?ro deux de la commission des affaires ?trang?res du S?nat, a aussi indiqu? que M. Chirac lui a dit que le feu vert des cinq membres du Conseil de s?curit? pour un engagement de l'OTAN "serait suffisant". Il a fait ces d?clarations lors d'une audition de la sous-commission des affaires ?trang?res du S?nat sur l'Europe consacr?e ? l'impact des attentats de Madrid. - (AFP.)


SPIEGEL ONLINE - 02. April 2004, 17:41
Neues Qaida-Strategiepapier
Masterplan f?r Terroranschl?ge in ganz Europa
Das Terrornetzwerk al-Qaida plant nach neuen Erkenntnissen Bombenanschl?ge quer durch Europa. In einem neuen Strategiepapier werden die Anh?nger der Organisation aufgefordert "unter Vernachl?ssigung aller geographischen Grenzen, die L?nder der Gottesl?steter in Kriegszonen zu verwandeln".
Mainz - In dem 50-seitigen Schriftst?ck, das dem ZDF vorliegt, wird eine "milit?rische Diplomatie" skizziert - "geschrieben mit Blut und dekoriert mit K?rperteilen".
Als Ziele k?nftiger Anschl?ge in Europa werden an erster Stelle "Juden" genannt, zitierte das ZDF aus der Schrift. An zweiter Stelle folgen "Christen", bei denen zun?chst Amerikaner, dann Briten, Spanier, Australier, Kanadier, Italiener und weitere Nationalit?ten aufgez?hlt werden. Der Autor nimmt au?erdem Bezug auf die Terroranschl?ge von Madrid und fordert ?hnliche Attacken gegen wirtschaftliche Ziele im Westen.
"Als Ergebnis der gesegneten Schl?ge von Madrid hat die gesamte europ?ische Wirtschaft gelitten. Das war ein Doppelschlag gegen die Wirtschaft und die Regierungen der Kreuzfahrer, Juden und Gottlosen", hei?t es laut ZDF in dem Papier weiter.
Als weitere Ziele werden Anschl?ge auf "Gesch?ftsleute, Diplomaten, Politiker, Intellektuelle, Wissenschaftler, Rabbiner, Missionare und Touristen" propagiert. Unterzeichnet ist das Papier, das im Internet verbreitet wird, von Abdulaziz al-Mukrin, dem neuen Anf?hrer der al-Qaida im arabischen Raum. Amerikanische und deutsche Sicherheitsbeh?rden halten nach den ZDF-Angaben die Erkl?rung f?r authentisch. Derzeit werde das Papier von europ?ischen Sicherheitsbeh?rden analysiert.



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SPIEGEL ONLINE - 02. April 2004, 15:27
Motassadeq-Anwalt rechnet mit Einstellung des Verfahrens
Der Anwalt von Mounir al-Motassadeq erwartet, dass das Hamburger Oberlandesgericht das Verfahren gegen den Marokkaner einstellen wird. Das Gericht habe der Bundesanwaltschaft vorgeschlagen, die Einstellung des Verfahrens zu erw?gen, weil wichtige Beweismittel in den USA zur?ckgehalten w?rden.
Motassadeq: Angeblich entlastende Beweise aufgetaucht
Hamburg - "Das Gericht hat vorgeschlagen, dass das Verfahren eingestellt wird, weil der Fairness-Grundsatz nicht mehr gewahrt wird. Ich denke, es sieht gut aus f?r Herrn Motassadeq", sagte der Anwalt Josef Gr??le-M?nscher heute im Anschluss an zweist?ndige Beratungen des Oberlandesgerichts. "Wir kriegen eine schriftliche Entscheidung des Gerichts am Montag."
Der Vierte Strafsenat des Oberlandesgerichts hatte heute auf Antrag der Verteidigung ?ber die Aufhebung des Haftbefehls gegen Motassadeq beraten. Angaben zum Stand machte die Gerichtspressestelle zun?chst nicht.
Motassadeq war im Februar 2003 von dem gleichen Gericht wegen Beihilfe zum Mord in 3066 F?llen und Mitgliedschaft in einer terroristischen Vereinigung zu 15 Jahren Haftstrafe verurteilt worden. Der Bundesgerichtshof hob jedoch das Urteil auf und wies den Fall zur Neuverhandlung an das Hanseatische Oberlandesgericht zur?ck.
Bahaji-Fahndungsfotos mit und ohne Bart: Den Freund per Brief entlastet
Gleichzeitig legte die Bundesanwaltschaft nach Angaben der Verteidiger heute neue Beweise vor. Es handelt sich demnach um einen abgefangenen Brief und ein mitgeschnittenes Telefonat des seit 2001 fl?chtigen Terrorverd?chtigen Said Bahaji. Darin finden sich laut Gr??le-M?nscher jeweils ?u?erungen, die Motassadeq nach seiner Einsch?tzung vom Vorwurf entlasten, der Hamburger Terrorzelle angeh?rt zu haben. "In beiden Dokumenten sind entlastende Angaben", sagte der Anwalt. "In dem Brief ist Motassadeq w?rtlich erw?hnt. 'Mounir wusste nichts', hei?t es da", sagte Gr??le-M?nscher.
Das Telefonat wurde im vergangenen Jahr abgeh?rt. Damals hatte sich Bahaji bei seinen Eltern im marokkanischen Meknes gemeldet. Der Vater Bahajis erkl?rte sp?ter, sein Sohn habe nur kurz gesagt, dass es ihm gut gehe. Es werde sich bald alles aufkl?ren, er sei in guten H?nden.


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German Judge: Sept. 11 Retrial May Not Fly
22 minutes ago
By DAVID RISING, Associated Press Writer
HAMBURG, Germany - A German judge said Friday the case against the only Sept. 11 suspect ever convicted may collapse if it goes to a retrial, adding that he will decide next week whether to free Mounir el Motassadeq. At a hearing to rule on the Moroccan's request to be released from jail, Judge Ernst-Rainer Schudt pointed to a March appeals court ruling that the suspect failed to get a fair trial the first time.
AP Photo
AP Photo
Slideshow: September 11
Consequently, Schudt said that "in the further course of the proceedings it may have to be considered that ... the question of closing the case will arise," the Hamburg state court said.
It was the first time the court has publicly raised such doubts about the government's case.
Prosecutor Walter Hemberger said the government has no intention of dropping the charges.
El Motassadeq, 29, won a retrial after appeals judges ruled he was unfairly denied testimony from Ramzi Binalshibh, a Yemeni in secret U.S. custody who is believed to have been the Hamburg cell's key contact with al-Qaida.
The Hamburg court heard el Motassadeq's plea for freedom in a closed hearing Friday. It said it would deliberate and issue a ruling next week.
New evidence emerged at the hearing that bolstered the Moroccan's argument that he knew nothing about the plot, the lawyer said.
Graessle-Muenscher said prosecutors on Friday introduced an intercepted letter that suspected cell member Said Bahaji wrote to his mother in 2002.
"In the letter, Bahaji says Mounir didn't know anything," the lawyer said.
German authorities say Bahaji, left Germany shortly before the Sept. 11 attacks and remains on the run.
Hemberger refused to comment on the evidence introduced Friday.
"We made our arguments, they made theirs and now it's up to the court to decide," he said.
El Motassadeq's retrial is scheduled to start June 16.
He was convicted in February 2003 of more than 3,000 counts of accessory to murder and membership in a terrorist organization, and sentenced to the maximum 15 years in prison.
Prosecutors allege he handled financial transactions for cell members to help keep up appearances of a normal student life as they plotted the attacks.
El Motassadeq has acknowledged knowing the cell members but denies any knowledge of the Sept. 11 plot.
U.S. authorities refused to allow Binalshibh to testify at el Motassadeq's trial or to allow German intelligence services to turn over copies of interrogation reports the United States had provided them.
The absence of Binalshibh's testimony also helped bring about the acquittal of el Motassadeq's friend and fellow Moroccan, Abdelghani Mzoudi, on the same charges in February.
Mzoudi's case took a turn toward acquittal when the Hamburg court heard a statement from an unnamed source that only Binalshibh and the suicide hijackers knew of the Sept. 11 plot -- an assertion that could exonerate el Motassadeq. The court said it believed the source was Binalshibh himself.

US officials knew Al-Qaeda planned plane attacks: whistle-blower
Fri Apr 2, 3:50 AM ET
LONDON (AFP) - US officials knew months before September 11, 2001 that Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s Al-Qaeda network was planning to use aircraft to carry out a terrorist attack, a former FBI (news - web sites) translator has alleged.
AFP/File Photo
AP Photo
Slideshow: September 11
Sibel Edmonds told the Independent newspaper, in an interview published Friday, that a claim by US President George W. Bush (news - web sites)'s national security advisor Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites) that there had been no such warnings was "an outrageous lie".
The former translator with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation said that she had discussed her claims during a three-hour closed-door session with a US commission looking into the September 11 attacks.
"There was general information about the time frame, about methods to be used -- but not specifically about how they would be used -- and about people being in place and who was ordering these sorts of terror attacks," Edmonds said.
"There were other cities that were mentioned. Major cities -- with skyscrapers."
The 33-year-old Turkish-American translator said that, based on documents she had seen during her time with the FBI, after September 11, it was "impossible" that US intelligence officials had no forewarning of the attacks.
In a significant about-face, Bush agreed Tuesday to let Rice testify before the independent bipartisan commission looking into September 11 attacks, in which three airliners were hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon (news - web sites) in Washington.
A fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania.
The Independent reported that the White House had sought to silence Edmonds and had obtained a gagging order from a court.
Edmonds emerged as a whistle-blower in July last year when, on the CBS television network, she alleged that FBI officials deliberately slowed down the translation of September 11-related documents to make it appear that the department was sorely understaffed.
Edmonds was among many language experts who had responded to appeals for translators in the days following September 11. She was tasked with translating documents and recordings from FBI wire taps.
From the documents she saw, she told The Independent, it was clear that there was sufficient information in spring and summer of 2001 to indicate that an attack was being planned.
"President Bush said they had no specific information about September 11 and that is accurate but only because he said September 11," Edmonds told the Independent.
There was, however, general information about the use of airplanes and that an attack was just months away.
The most damning criticism of the Bush administration has come from former White House anti-terrorism czar Richard Clarke, who has alleged that it failed to give the Al-Qaeda threat enough priority.
Clarke, who left the White House last year, testified before the September 11 commission, shortly after the publication of his memoirs which were highly critical of the Bush administration's counter-terrorist efforts.


Bush Aides Block Clinton's Papers From 9/11 Panel
WASHINGTON, April 1 -- The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks said on Thursday that it was pressing the White House to explain why the Bush administration had blocked thousands of pages of classified foreign policy and counterterrorism documents from former President Bill Clinton's White House files from being turned over to the panel's investigators.
The White House confirmed on Thursday that it had withheld a variety of classified documents from Mr. Clinton's files that had been gathered by the National Archives over the last two years in response to requests from the commission, which is investigating intelligence and law enforcement failures before the attacks.
Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said some Clinton administration documents had been withheld because they were "duplicative or unrelated," while others were withheld because they were "highly sensitive" and the information in them could be relayed to the commission in other ways. "We are providing the commission with access to all the information they need to do their job," Mr. McClellan said.
The commission and the White House were reacting to public complaints from former aides to Mr. Clinton, who said they had been surprised to learn in recent months that three-quarters of the nearly 11,000 pages of files the former president was ready to offer the commission had been withheld by the Bush administration. The former aides said the files contained highly classified documents about the Clinton administration's efforts against Al Qaeda.
The commission said it was awaiting a full answer from the White House on why any documents were withheld.
"We need to be satisfied that we have everything we have asked to see," Al Felzenberg, a spokesman for the bipartisan 10-member commission, said. "We have voiced the concern to the White House that not all of the material the Clinton library has made available to us has made its way to the commission."
The general counsel of Mr. Clinton's presidential foundation, Bruce Lindsey, who was his deputy White House counsel, said in an interview that he was concerned that the Bush administration had applied a "very legalistic approach to the documents" and might have blocked the release of material that would be valuable to the commission.
Mr. Lindsey said he first complained to the commission in February after learning from the archives that the Bush administration had withheld so many documents.
"I voiced a concern that the commission was making a judgment on an incomplete record," he said. "I want to know why there is a 75 percent difference between what we were ready to produce and what was being produced to the commission."
The debate over the Clinton files was disclosed as the commission announced that it had reached agreement with the White House to schedule a public hearing for next Thursday at which Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser, will testify under oath for two and a half hours.
It also came as the White House, in an effort to bolster Ms. Rice's credibility before the hearing, released some of the language of a presidential directive awaiting Mr. Bush's signature on Sept. 11, 2001. It instructed the Pentagon to plan action against Qaeda terrorists and their Taliban sponsors in Afghanistan, "including leadership, command-control-communication, training and logistics facilities."
White House officials said the language showed that the Bush administration had a tougher, more comprehensive plan than the Clinton administration had for dealing with Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and the Taliban. Ms. Rice has cited the directive in recent interviews in trying to undermine the credibility of Richard A. Clarke, Mr. Bush's former counterterrorism director, who has accused the Bush administration of largely ignoring terrorist threats before Sept. 11.
The disclosure that many Clinton administration files had been withheld took several of the members of the panel by surprise on Thursday.
"If it did happen, it's an unintentional mistake or it's another intentional act of the White House that will backfire," said Bob Kerrey, a former senator from Nebraska who is a Democratic member of the commission.
Another Democrat on the panel, Timothy J. Roemer, a former House member from Indiana, said he learned only on Thursday that so many documents had been withheld. "There could be some innocent explanation for it," he said. "I am assured that our staff will be looking into it."
Mr. Lindsey said that President Clinton and his foundation, which is based in Little Rock, Ark., had given authorization to the National Archives to gather evidence from Mr. Clinton's files that was sought by the independent commission, which was created by Congress in late 2002. But the Bush administration, he said, had final authority to decide what would be turned over.
Mr. Lindsey, who is Mr. Clinton's liaison to the National Archives, said he was surprised to discover from the archives in later months that the Bush administration, after reviewing the Clinton documents gathered by researchers there, had decided not to turn over most of the material.
He said he had read through many of the 10,800 pages that were collected and believed them to be valuable to the work of the panel.
"They involved all of the issues -- Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, terrorism, all of the areas with the commission's jurisdiction," he said. He made his first public complaints about the handling of the documents in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday.
In February, Mr. Lindsey said, he complained to the commission's staff director, Philip D. Zelikow. He said he renewed his complaint in a meeting with Mr. Zelikow last month.
Mr. Felzenberg, the commission's spokesman, said that after the meeting, Mr. Zelikow and other staff members began pressing the White House for an explanation of what had happened. "The commission has voiced Mr. Lindsey's concern to the White House," he said. "We made the concerns known and we are awaiting a definitive answer."
The White House decision to release some of the wording of the classified September 2001 presidential directive on Al Qaeda and the Taliban was an opening volley in what is expected to be an aggressive public relations campaign on behalf of Ms. Rice in the days before her testimony next Thursday.
Mr. Bush bowed to political pressure this week and agreed to allow Ms. Rice to testify to the commission after insisting for weeks that public testimony by such an important White House aide would erode his constitutional authority.
The so-called National Security Presidential Directive envisioned the military action as the last step of a three-to-five year plan. It called for two earlier steps -- a diplomatic mission to the Taliban and covert action -- and envisioned military strikes only as a last resort.
The actual language in the directive could be interpreted in two very different ways when Ms. Rice testifies. On the one hand, she will undoubtedly use it to build her case that the administration took the Qaeda threat seriously.
But because the policy was supposed to unfold over three to five years, it suggests that the threat posed by Al Qaeda and its Taliban hosts in Afghanistan was not considered an urgent one by the White House, bolstering Mr. Clarke's accusations.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

More Bomb-Grade Uranium Found in Iran-Diplomats
Fri Apr 2, 8:26 AM ET
By Louis Charbonneau
VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. atomic watchdog has found traces of bomb-grade uranium in Iran at sites other than the two already named, but diplomats said on Friday it was unclear if this boosted U.S. claims that Tehran wants an atom bomb.
"They found highly-enriched uranium at more sites than Kalaye and Natanz," a Western diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The diplomat did not specify how many sites, where they were or when the traces were found.
Last year, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported finding traces of uranium that had been enriched to a point where it contained about 90 percent of the fissile uranium atom U-235 at the Natanz enrichment plant and a workshop at the Kalaye Electric Company.
Uranium with such a high concentration of U-235 has few civilian uses but is the ideal purity level for a nuclear bomb.
Vienna-based sources who follow the IAEA's work confirmed the U.N. watchdog had discovered traces at other sites, but the agency would not comment.
Tehran has said the traces at Natanz and Kalaye came from contaminated centrifuge components purchased abroad. The new traces could still support this explanation.
"One would expect to find traces of uranium everywhere these components were moved or stored," a second diplomat said.
But several diplomats said the further discoveries raised the question of whether Tehran has been engaging in more undeclared nuclear activities at sites it has been hiding from the IAEA.
Under fire over U.S. allegations that its atomic energy program is a front to build nuclear weapons, Tehran promised France, Germany and Britain last October it would suspend uranium enrichment and accept tougher inspections by the U.N. watchdog in exchange for peaceful nuclear technology.
Iran says its atomic ambitions are limited to the generation of electricity.
Last month, the IAEA passed a resolution deploring Iran's failure to declare potentially arms-related nuclear activities to the agency.
Tehran told the U.N. body the contaminated centrifuge components originally came from Pakistan. The IAEA has asked Pakistan to let it take samples of Pakistani HEU in order to verify Tehran's explanation.
But Pakistan's government, which recently pardoned its top nuclear scientist for leaking secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea (news - web sites), has refused.


Iran's nuclear facility erodes diplomatic victory
Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor
Thursday April 1, 2004
The Guardian
The British government made a tacit admission for the first time yesterday that its much-trumpeted diplomatic initiative to try to prevent Iran securing a nuclear weapon may be in trouble.
The Foreign Office expressed unhappiness with an Iranian government announcement on Saturday that it had inaugurated at Isfahan a uranium conversion facility, a necessary first step in the creation of a nuclear bomb.
In October last year the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, and his German and French counterparts, Joschka Fischer and Dominique de Villepin, flew to Tehran to persuade the Iranian government to avoid confrontation with the US by agreeing to spot checks of its nuclear facilities. The resultant agreement was hailed as a triumph for European diplomacy.
But the Foreign Office statement yesterday registered the disappointment of the three countries. By diplomatic standards, the language was strong and unequivocal.
It said the announcement sent "the wrong signal about Iranian willingness to implement a suspension of nuclear enrichment-related activities".
Parallel statements were issued in Berlin and Paris.
The British, German and French governments are to make another joint approach to the Iranian government.
The US, which expressed scepticism at the time the agreement was secured, has called on Iran to suspend all uranium-related activity.
Iran has repeatedly claimed it is merely interested in using nuclear technology for civilian purposes, and insists that it is sticking to the October agreement.
But a Foreign Office source said the steps being taken by Iran at Isfahan were incompatible with the promise to suspend its uranium enrichment programme.
Gholam-Reza Aghazadeh, the head of the Iranian nuclear programme, said the Isfahan facility would continue the process of turning uranium ore into gas.
He said it would produce uranium hexofloride, metallic uranium and uranium oxide. Hexofloride is used for uranium enrichment.


Europeans Criticize Iran's Plan to Start Up Enrichment Plant
BERLIN, March 31 - The foreign ministries of Germany, France and Britain Wednesday criticized Iran's decision, announced last week, to start up a uranium conversion plant in Isfahan.
"This announcement sends the wrong signal regarding Iran's readiness to implement a suspension of its activities relating to uranium enrichment," the German Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "It will make it more difficult for Iran to restore international confidence in its activities. Iran must explain its announcement and its intentions."
The German Foreign Ministry said identical statements were issued Wednesday in Britain and France.
The move comes after a much-heralded diplomatic initiative by the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Britain that resulted last October in a promise by Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities and to allow more intrusive international inspections of its nuclear program.
The agreement was widely viewed as an Iranian response to intense pressure by the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency to curtail activities aimed at making nuclear weapons. It was also welcomed by many people in Europe as a result of a successful European-American synergy in dealing with international crises.
Diplomats here referred to it as a good-cop, bad-cop approach, in which the Americans applied pressure on Iran and the Europeans offered a diplomatic way out.
But after the agreement in October and a round of international inspections, Iran admitted that it had concealed aspects of its nuclear development program for some 18 years. At one point earlier this year, after the international agency criticized Iran for failing to disclose aspects of its nuclear program, Iran banned further inspections.
The statements Wednesday by the foreign ministers of Europe's three major countries seemed an unmistakable sign of annoyance at Iran for its failure to cooperate fully with inspections or to stop its enrichment program definitively.
Reuters reported Wednesday on an internal report obtained by the news agency in Vienna concluding that Iran had "managed'' some of the agency's inspections. Reuters also cited unnamed Western diplomats as saying that Tehran had not stopped enriching uranium but had moved enrichment activities away from a known plant at Natanz to smaller sites that are part of a parallel program as yet undiscovered by inspectors.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company |


Britain, France, Germany condemn Iran's work on nuclear fuel cycle
Wed Mar 31, 1:17 PM ET
LONDON (AFP) - Britain, France and Germany united to condemn Iran's decision to resume work on a key nuclear programme in apparent breach of a deal with the United Nation's nuclear watchdog.
Their criticism came after Iran's atomic energy chief Gholam Reza Aghazadeh said Sunday that work had resumed at the Isfahan installation in the centre of the country.
"This announcement sends the wrong signal about Iranian willingness to implement a suspension of nuclear enrichment-related activities," said a Foreign Office spokesman in London.
"It will make it more difficult for Iran to re-establish international confidence in her undertakings," he said, in a statement identical to ones issued in Paris and Berlin.
In a deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) brokered by Britain, France and Germany last year, Tehran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and related activities while UN inspectors delved into suspicions Iran was using atomic energy as a cover for developing nuclear weapons.
Iran, under massive international pressure to maintain the suspension, has consistently emphasised its right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to produce nuclear fuel for what it insists are strictly peaceful purposes.
"The uranium processing plant in Isfahan will produce all raw materials for the fuel cycle," Aghazadeh said on Sunday.
Britain, France and Germany have for the past seven months been working together in an effort to resolve international concerns about Iran's nuclear programme.
Foreign ministers from the three countries visited Tehran last October.
"Iran must explain her statement and her intentions," the Foreign Office statement said. "We reaffirm our firm support for the IAEA's ongoing work on this matter."
IAEA inspectors arrived in Iran on Saturday for a visit which Tehran had delayed earlier this month after the body condemned Iran for failing to report that it had designs for sophisticated P2 centrifuges for enriching uranium to levels that could be weapon-grade.
The IAEA has been investigating since February 2003 whether Iran's nuclear programme is peaceful, or devoted to secretly developing atomic weapons, as the United States alleges.
The body is to report its findings at a meeting in Vienna in June.
An IAEA ruling that Iran is in non-compliance with the NPT would send the issue to the UN Security Council, which could then impose sanctions on the Islamic republic.


More lies from Tehran
As it has for the past nine months, the radical Islamic regime in Iran continues to cheat the U.N.-affiliated International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the world when confronted about its nuclear weapons programs. Since March 13, when the United States joined with France, Germany and Great Britain to pass a tough resolution at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting criticizing Iran's nuclear proliferation, Tehran has continued to respond in an erratic, defiant manner.
On March 13, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, denounced the IAEA resolution as "unfair and deceitful," and declared that his government was canceling IAEA inspections indefinitely -- a move that would effectively freeze continued inspections of the country's nuclear facilities. Three days later, Iran agreed that the IAEA could resume inspections on March 27. The inspections have resumed for the time being, and Iran asserted Monday that it had suspended the production of components and technology for uranium enrichment.
But a careful look at Iran's pattern of behavior suggests that it is only a matter of time until it tosses aside even the pretext of cooperation. In June, the IAEA issued a report confirming longstanding U.S. charges that Iran was secretly attempting to develop nuclear weapons. For the next few months, the agency lobbied unsuccessfully to persuade Iran to permit the agency's inspectors to make surprise visits to the country's nuclear facilities. By early September, even IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei (who had been resisting pressure from Washington to declare Tehran in noncompliance with regulations governing the handling of nuclear materials) had finally lost patience. Mr. ElBaradei noted that, along with Iraq and North Korea, Iran "has been giving the international community the runaround." On Sept. 12, the IAEA gave Iran an Oct. 31 deadline to disprove the mounting body of evidence that it is developing nuclear weapons. Then, just days before the deadline, Tehran reached agreement with Britain, France and Germany to suspend uranium enrichment in exchange for promises from European countries to help it obtain nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
In November, the IAEA issued a 30-page report documenting Iran's deceptions about its nuclear program going back to the mid-1980s. Washington insisted that Iran's behavior be condemned and that the matter be referred to the U.N. Security Council. But Iran declared that it would not cooperate with the IAEA if this took place, and the IAEA backed down.
In January, Iran brazenly announced it was building centrifuges in violation of its commitments to the Europeans. Then last month, IAEA inspectors announced that they had found traces of polonium, a radioactive substance that can help trigger a nuclear chain reaction. It was yet another item that Iran had failed to declare. Inspectors also discovered high-tech enrichment equipment on an Iranian military base -- the first known link between the nuclear program and the Iranian military. More ominously, there have been reports that Tehran has been helping North Korea with its atomic weapons development efforts.
In sum, when it comes to nuclear weapons, Iran's current behavior seems to be little more than a continuation of its policy over the last two decades: sustained cheating, occasionally interrupted by tactical retreats. These calculated cycles are inducing international inaction -- as the day of decisive action grows closer.


The democrat
Iran's leading reformist intellectual tries to reconcile religious duties and human rights
By Laura Secor, 3/14/2004
IF IRAN'S DEMOCRATIC REFORM movement has a house intellectual, it's Abdolkarim Soroush. A small, soft-spoken philosopher with fiercely expressive eyebrows, Soroush specializes in mysticism, Sufi poetry, Islamic theology, chemistry, pharmacology, and the philosophy of science. Although he once worked for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's revolutionary government, he now advances a powerful argument for democracy and human rights -- and he does so drawing not only on John Stuart Mill and John Rawls, but also on the deepest intellectual traditions of Shi'ite Islam. Religion must remain aloof from governance, he is fond of saying, not because religion is false and would corrupt politics, but because religion is true and politics corrupts it.
Soroush's work is heady, abstract stuff. And yet, its hold on throngs of young Iranians -- hundreds of students show up to the typical Soroush lecture -- is so strong that Iran's ruling mullahs consider him a threat, and pro-clerical militias regularly harass and beat him when he speaks in his native land. That's why these days, he makes his home at Princeton University, where he teaches a seminar of fewer than 10 graduate students and passes all but unnoticed through the halls of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy.
That is where I met Soroush on Feb. 23, the day the dismal results of the latest Iranian parliamentary election began trickling out. The Guardian Council, a body of clerics with far-reaching powers, had disqualified some 2,000 candidates, mostly reformists, from so much as running for parliament. Unsurprisingly, though the level of voter turnout and hence the strength of the new parliament's mandate is disputed, the election results were clear: Pro-clerical conservatives packed 156 of the parliament's 290 seats, with 50 still left to be decided.
But the success of the reform movement, says Soroush, will be measured not in parliamentary seats but in attitudinal shifts, as Iran's educated youth embrace such notions as "freedom, justice, political participation, and the rights of man."
"The reform movement actually had two dimensions, if you like, two sides," he explains as we sit in his bare visiting professor's office. "One side was the political. Some of the reformists were part of the establishment, of the government. Now they've lost their power. But on the other hand, the most important part of the reform movement was intellectual, theoretical, educational."
That intellectual reform movement finds expression in Soroush's own work, which attempts to reconcile revelation and reason, religious duties and human rights. Whether or not such a reconciliation is possible is the subject of much debate and experimentation in the Muslim world today. But perhaps no one has attempted to develop so ambitious and unique a philosophical framework for that project as Abdolkarim Soroush.
ran's 1979 Islamic revolution seemed to herald a new era for the Muslim world. In place of the secular, corrupt, repressive government of the American-backed Shah, Iranians imagined they would create something entirely new: a regime that would promote social justice and spiritual fulfillment, and one that would draw on indigenous cultural traditions and the theory of the state embedded in the country's overwhelmingly dominant faith, Islam.
The charismatic Ayatollah Khomeini, who had suffered prison and exile under the Shah, would replace a crass, alien capitalism with a dignified, indigenous spiritualism that rejected worldly motives. As Khomeini admonished the people, the purpose of the revolution was not "to have less expensive melons" but to lead a more elevated life.
In the end, however, Khomeini saddled Iran with something not all his supporters bargained for: the doctrine of velayat-i-faqi, or the rule of the jurist. This doctrine effectively delivered autocratic executive powers to Iran's clerics, and particularly to the ayatollah deemed wisest by his peers -- in the first instance, Khomeini himself.
Initially, Soroush believed in the democratic and spiritual promise of the revolution. Born Husayn Haj Farajullah Dabbagh to a lower-middle-class, religious family in Tehran in 1945, Soroush studied religion and science side by side. He went to Britain in 1973 to pursue an advanced degree in analytical chemistry, followed by a course of study on the history and philosophy of science. During this time, he began publishing philosophical papers in Iran under the pen name Abdolkarim Soroush.
In 1980, scant months after revolutionary forces had closed Iran's universities, Khomeini invited Soroush to return to Iran as a member of a committee of seven scholars who would revise the country's higher education curriculum. At first Soroush was enthusiastic, working with his colleagues to develop courses that would educate students about their Islamic heritage and traditions. But as the revolutionary government exerted increasingly dogmatic control over the committee's work, Soroush soured on the project. He didn't approve of separating men and women in the classroom, forcing rituals on students, restricting the subjects professors could teach, or marginalizing the sciences or social sciences.
"I was a little bit more liberal-minded than some of the others," Soroush tells me. Feeling isolated -- "There were no ears to listen to me," he says -- he resigned in 1983, never again to work for the government. Instead, he would become its critic. "Undemocratic things were growing in the whole country," Soroush says of the post-revolutionary period.
In `92, Soroush established the Faculty of History and Philosophy of Science. It was Iran's first program of its kind. At the same time, his philosophical writings on Islam and democracy began to circulate through an eclectic intellectual journal called Kiyan. In these writings, Soroush directly challenged the political power of the clerics, even advocating that they cease working for pay so that they would no longer be corrupted by worldly interests. "They must remain lovers rather than dealers of religion," he explains in an e-mail. With these and other writings, Soroush became a professor with a following.
As Soroush's influence grew, so too did the influence of the defining figure of the reform movement's political wing: Mohammad Khatami, minister of Islamic Guidance for 10 years after the Revolution. Advocating constitutional law over strict religious law and parliamentary rule over clerical rule, Khatami won the presidency in a landslide in `97.
Soroush, who considers Khatami a friend, believes the president squandered the hopes reformists had vested in him. "I think he lost some of the best opportunities for reform in our society," Soroush says. "He was a very, very powerful man because he had more than 20 million votes." But Khatami was a cautious ruler, refraining even from criticizing such obvious abuses as the beating of students and closing down of newspapers, Soroush laments.
In July 2003, Soroush issued an open letter to Khatami in which he pulled no punches. "The present generation as well as generations to come must never forget this ominous message of religious despotism," he wrote. "That in Iran today, the best newspaper is the one that is closed, the best pen is the one that is broken and the best thinker is the one that is nonexistent."
The slide toward despotism had advanced past the point where Khatami could stop it, though he might have done so earlier, in Soroush's view. Nevertheless, when clerics manipulated the recent elections and Khatami again failed to take a resolute stand, many of the president's supporters came to think that he "betrayed the whole cause of reform," says Soroush.
But the intellectual reform movement, of which Soroush is an integral part, lives on. "If people think that even in theory the reformists have failed," he observes, "that will be the real death of this movement. But I think that will not happen, because I think the reform movement in theory is much more advanced and much richer than its rival."
he day I attend Soroush's Princeton seminar, the class is discussing a group of eighth-century rationalist Islamic philosophers called the Mu'tazilites, whom Soroush sees as among the precursors of the Iranian reform movement.
The Mu'tazilites, who drew on ancient Greek philosophical sources, believed that the Qu'ran was a created text, rather than an eternal one -- meaning that it was situated in the moment of its historical creation and could conceivably have been different, had external circumstances been different. Most intriguingly, the Mu'tazilites believed justice did not derive from God but guided God's actions. Therefore an action was not good or bad because God commanded or forbade it; God commanded or forbade it because it was good or bad. What this meant was that morality stood independent of God and in fact inhered in the actions themselves. It could be apprehended with reason, even by someone ignorant of God's injunctions. Soroush calls this vision of justice "moral secularism."
Though the Mu'tazilites produced the official doctrine of the Baghdad caliphate from 765 through 848, they were unpopular elitists who resorted to violent repression. When they were displaced by the orthodox Ash'arites, who held reason to be subservient to revelation, the Mu'tazilites went into near-permanent eclipse. Sunni Muslims embraced the Ash'arite view and came to see Mu'tazilite ideas as heretical. But the often subterranean Mu'tazilate influence became woven into the theology of the Persian Shi'ites and the Yemeni Zaydis.
Soroush's philosophical views owe much to the Mu'tazilite insights he explains to his graduate seminar, in particular the notion that reason can allow us to distinguish between good and evil, quite apart from divine revelation. From this notion of moral secularism follows Soroush's belief that "you can have a democratic debate about good and bad in politics" -- something implicitly denied by those who advocate rule by clerics or by the letter of the scriptures.
But while Soroush makes a business of separating the rational from the divine, he is everywhere clear that his aim is not to diminish the divine but to protect it. In his seminal Kiyan essay, "The Expansion and Contraction of Religious Knowledge," Soroush argued that the essence of religion, which is immutable, eternal, and sacred, can be separated from religious knowledge, which is mutable, relative, and historical. The implications of this simple theory were far-reaching. The interpretive work of the clergy, therefore, was not itself divine; rather, the pursuit of religious knowledge was human and historically situated. Religious ideology, like religious knowledge, also stood apart from religion itself as something ephemeral and, in Soroush's view, dispensable.
As Daniel Brumberg writes in "Reinventing Khomeini: The Struggle for Reform in Iran," it is precisely in separating religious knowledge from the core of religion that Soroush makes it possible to engage with Western ideas without invoking the Muslim bugbears of "cultural surrender, cultural superiority, or mechanistic `borrowing.' " Rather, one can apprehend justice, say, through reason, and reason can wield tools of worldly -- even of Western -- provenance. In any case, Soroush argues, contemporary Iran draws on three cultural wellsprings: Persian, Islamic, and Western.
Soroush believes that religious institutions and political ones should be kept separate. Doing so will allow religious life to truly flourish, because it will be chosen rather than imposed. But if this sounds like Western-style liberal secularism, it isn't. Rather, Soroush envisions what he calls a democratic religious society. Its goal is the freedom of believers to practice and live by their faith without compulsion -- but also without the "profanity" that pervades Western secular life.
Shari'ah law provides the Islamic framework for moral living, and Soroush does not seem prepared to do away with it, although he is clear that scripture should never form the sole basis of legislation. Indeed, Soroush sees Shari'ah as a form of religious knowledge rather than an article of religious faith. And so, in his view, it should be subject to rational discussion and adjustment.
It is here that my discussion with Soroush becomes most tangled and most intriguing. Shari'ah law is flexible, he tells me. It can be reinterpreted by religious scholars who may not feel that its actual provisions -- the stoning of adulterers, say -- still perform the functions God intended.
But is this not antidemocratic? Unelected, unaccountable jurists are left to make political decisions based on their interpretation of the divine intent, and the social expediency, of Qu'ranic injunctions. And what about human rights? I ask Soroush. The idea of human rights is still alien to Iranian jurists, he tells me, but when they are better educated that will change: "I am 100 percent sure that if our clerics become familiar with the ideas of human rights, not superficially but deeply, philosophically, that definitely this will influence their interpretation of Shari'ah."
What Soroush would like, then, is for Islamic thought to engage and adapt secular notions of rights. What he doesn't want, however, is for rights claims to take precedence over traditional religious morality. He certainly doesn't wish to see Iranian society become as permissive as American society, where he believes that human rights claims have unduly silenced religious believers. He says, "Like even the omnipotent god whose actions are conditioned by the concept of justice, human rights, though they are universal, must be conditioned by the idea of morality. I think human rights nowadays has been carried away." While those who advocate human rights may favor gay rights, for instance, Soroush believes homosexuality is simply immoral.
It is hard to discern exactly what Soroush means here by morality, but it certainly doesn't sound like moral secularism. For if, as the Mu'tazilites claimed, morality is rational, why shouldn't rights be a component of morality, subject to negotiation but not to unexplained moral censure of certain groups of rights-seekers? The idea of universality, I come away thinking, is an uncompromising one, whether it's the secular world's universal human rights or the religious world's universal power of God. Can there really be an independent idea of justice that conditions them both, and isn't ultimately founded on the conviction of one's supremacy over the other?
Certainly, it's a tension that runs through our own society, even if in the end we resolve it in a manner exactly opposite to Iran. That tension is not lost on Soroush, an Iranian liberal who laments the lack of power of American religious conservatives: "I don't have the statistic, but roughly 70 percent of American people are religious -- they go to church, they are regular churchgoers and things like that as far as I know. But they do not have the power in order to say something about homosexuality in this society. Their voice is virtually unheeded."

Laura Secor, a writer living in New York, is the former staff writer for Ideas.

? Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.

China Releases Kin of Tiananmen Victims
2 hours, 37 minutes ago
By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press Writer
SHANGHAI, China - China said Friday it has released a woman who lost her husband and two who lost their sons in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests after detaining them over "illegal activities sponsored by overseas forces."
Retired professor Ding Zilin, a leading spokeswoman for the Tiananmen Mothers group, Zhang Xianling and Huang Jinping were "released by police after being admonished and showing repentance," according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
It said Ding confessed to having "conspired with overseas forces" to evade Chinese customs and state security laws.
Ding's and Zhang's sons were killed when Chinese soldiers attacked the pro-democracy protesters. Huang lost her husband.
Ding's release could not be independently confirmed. However, earlier Friday, a veteran political activist said Zhang and Huang had been allowed to return to their Beijing homes after being detained at an undisclosed location for five days.
The women were taken from their homes in Beijing by police on Sunday. Ding was taken from her home in the eastern city of Wuxi.
"Ding Zilin and others have been detained based on evidence that they have participated in illegal activities sponsored by overseas forces," Xinhua said. It didn't say what the women had been accused of trying to import, or with whom they had allegedly colluded.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the bloody June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, prompting stepped-up measures to prevent commemorations.
The detentions came as Beijing faced renewed criticism from the United States over its human rights record. The U.S. State Department complained Wednesday that the detentions undermined China's claims that its human rights record is improving.
Last week, China suspended a human rights meeting with Washington after U.S. officials said they planned to seek a U.N. Human Rights Commission resolution criticizing China. The United States says China has failed to keep promises made during talks in 2002.
New York-based Human Rights in China said agents who detained the women also seized from their homes letters and T-shirts marking the anniversary of the crackdown, in which hundreds -- possibly thousands -- of people were killed.
Communist authorities labeled the nonviolent protests an anti-government riot and have never offered a full accounting of casualties. The party suppresses all efforts to commemorate the deaths or gather information about the protests.
The Tiananmen Mothers group has called on the Chinese government to exonerate victims and reverse its verdict on the protests.

U.N.: Angola's Decision May Disrupt Aid
Mon Mar 29,11:32 PM ET
By ALEXANDRA ZAVIS, Associated Press Writer
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - A surprise decision by Angola to reject genetically modified food aid threatens to disrupt distributions to hundreds of thousands of people -- many of them newly returned after the country's two-decade civil war -- the U.N. food agency said Monday.
AP Photo
The decision, announced by Angola's Council of Ministers on March 17, comes at a time when the World Food Program is already battling funding shortfalls for its program in the oil-rich southern African country.
U.N. officials are currently in discussions with Angolan authorities to determine the implications for a 19,000-ton shipment of U.S. corn that had been earmarked for the country. If there is no clarity by Wednesday, the United States could redirect the corn to another country, officials said.
Angola, a nation of about 14 million people, was ruined by the war pitting the government against UNITA rebels. Up to a half-million Angolans fled their country before it ended in 2002. The fighting also drove some 4 million people from their homes.
Some 3.8 million have now returned to their rural homes, but about 1.5 million remain dependent on food aid, according to WFP figures.
Despite pressing needs, Angola is struggling to compete for funds with other aid-dependent countries.
Donors have privately questioned the government's commitment to resolving humanitarian problems in a country where one in every four dollars in oil earnings is unaccounted for, according to anti-corruption activists.
So far, WFP has only been able to raise 24 percent of the $143 million it needs for the year beginning April 1, the agency's regional director, Mike Sackett, said in Johannesburg.
Next month, it will be forced to reduce its cereal rations by 30 percent, he said. If no new donors are found by June, they will be cut again to 50 percent.
Details of the ban, which does not apply to milled grain, remain unclear, and the decision has not yet been officially implemented.
But it could have major implications for Angola, which receives up to 77 percent of its food aid from the United States. American biotech companies have been at the forefront of promoting genetically modified food, or GMOs, which can be made to resist insects or disease.
African countries such as Zambia and Zimbabwe have also rejected biotech food aid.

Human Rights Group Blasts Sudan Gov't
Fri Apr 2, 7:01 AM ET
By MATTHEW ROSENBERG, Associated Press Writer
NAIROBI, Kenya - Sudanese forces are killing, raping and forcing civilians from their homes in an effort to suppress an insurgency in western Sudan, an international human rights group said Friday, accusing the government of "crimes against humanity."
While government troops have participated in the fighting in the western Darfur region, allied Arab militia have carried out the bulk of the attacks against the region's inhabitants, Muslims of African descent, Human Rights Watch said in a report.
The insurgents draw most of their fighters from Darfur's African tribes and the government is "seeking to destroy any potential support base for the rebels," the New York-based group said.
Rebel and Sudanese officials were not immediately available for comment. But the Sudanese government has repeatedly denied its forces are intentionally attacking civilians.
The report, titled "Darfur in Flames: Atrocities in Western Sudan," also noted the rebels have at times attacked civilians and are reportedly using children for fighters.
But "the government of Sudan and allied Arab militia ... are implementing a strategy of ethnic-based murder, rape and forcible displacement of civilians," said the report, based on interviews with Sudanese refugees who have fled to neighboring Chad.
"The Sudanese government is complicit in these abuses and holds the highest degree of responsibility for pursuing a military policy that has resulted in the commission of crimes against humanity," the report said.
As fighting in Darfur has intensified in recent months, so have accusations that the government is targeting civilians.
On March 19, the U.N. resident coordinator for Sudan, Mukesh Kapila, said that attacks against civilians in Darfur by the Arab militia were "close to the definition of ethnic cleansing."
The United States, United Nations (news - web sites) and international aid groups have said the fighting has created a humanitarian catastrophe, and aid agencies, which have had only limited access to the region, estimate that more than 800,000 civilians have been displaced.
"The militias are not only killing individuals, they are decimating the livelihoods of tens of thousands of families," Georgette Gagnon, deputy director of the Africa division of Human Rights Watch, said Friday. "The people being targeted are the farmers of the region, and unless these abuses are stopped and people receive humanitarian relief, we could see famine in a few months' time."
Peace talks between the government and rebels faltered last year, and the latest round of indirect negotiations got off to a rocky start this week with the rebels and government disagreeing over the agenda.
The conflict began in February 2003, when two rebel groups -- the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement -- took up arms, saying they were fighting for a share of the power and wealth in Africa's largest country.
The insurgency in Darfur has intensified as peace talks between the government and southern rebels fighting a 21-year-long civil war have inched toward their conclusion. Those talks are being held in Kenya.


On the Net:


Trafficking on rise in prescription drugs
By Christopher Rowland, Globe Staff, 4/2/2004
FORT LEE, N.J. -- Police staked out a Dunkin' Donuts parking lot, secretly watched an illicit rendezvous, then trailed suspects to a nearby condominium. But when they swooped in, parallels to a routine drug raid vanished.
In the back of a green Jeep Cherokee, investigators found not heroin or cocaine but Zocor, 30 cases of the popular prescription anticholesterol drug manufactured by Merck & Co. Inside the condominium they discovered a cardboard box containing $500,000, the alleged payment for the stolen medicine.
Last month's seizures and arrests capped a six-month investigation, a counterattack on what authorities said is a growing underground market for pilfered pharmaceuticals that threatens to undermine consumer confidence in the safety of prescription medicine. By the time they were done, Bergen County and federal investigators working over two days had arrested 11 members of an alleged ring that they said stole millions of dollars worth of cholesterol medicine, blood-pressure pills, and Viagra from large US manufacturers.
Authorities also seized $1.2 million in cash, 29 guns, luxury cars, and a plasma TV. Without offering specifics, the local authorities said they have identified both traditional Mafia and Russian organized crime connections involved in the flourishing trade.
The reasons for a growing illicit prescription-drug trade are simple, say local law enforcement officials: the lure of easy money, a lack of serious criminal penalties for trafficking, and reluctance among manufacturers to report missing drugs to the police.
"These are very desirable commodities to steal," said Michael P. Peskoe, a former pharmaceutical industry executive and lawyer for the Food and Drug Administration who now practices in Boston. "They are light; they are quite expensive; and there's an opportunity to make large sums of money."
Last year the FDA identified "diversion" and "illegal redirection" of prescription drugs as a major problem because there is no easy way to distinguish legitimate drugs from ones that have been illegally sold into a so-called gray market in which unauthorized dealers peddle pills. Once drugs enter the gray market, they are difficult to track.
As a result, gray market drugs can end up on pharmacy shelves. That means consumers could be buying medicines that have been improperly stored, adulterated, or distributed after their expiration dates.
Sometimes, stolen drugs are peddled to consumers over the Internet.
Drug companies that were allegedly victimized by the thieves would not discuss details of the case. But collectively, New Jersey's drug manufacturers are worried about the problem, said Hollie Gilroy, spokeswoman for the Healthcare Institute of New Jersey, the state's trade group for pharmaceutical companies. "Our concern is the safety of patients," she said. "When you've got these other actors in the marketplace, it makes it a lot more difficult to ensure patient safety, and that's the overwhelming concern."
The 11 defendants, including five truck drivers, have made initial court appearances and been released on bail, but they have not yet entered pleas in court. Each has been charged with racketeering, theft, and conspiracy. A key figure in the case, David Pinski, 65, whose Fort Lee condominium was the scene of the March 18 police raid, has been charged with an additional count of money laundering.
Pinski's lawyer, Samuel R. DeLuca Jr., of Jersey City, said his client plans to plead not guilty. He said Pinski is a legitimate businessman, the owner of a retail T-shirt shop in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.
Authorities say the ring's leaders had been honing their methods for several years, enlisting freight truck drivers who traversed New Jersey's industrial parks and interstate highways while stealing select boxes of drugs from their trailers.
Besides Zocor, Bergen County officials said, the ring stole Diovan and Lotrel, two drugs made by Novartis AG to treat high blood pressure. Novartis lost at least $2 million through the thefts, authorities said. The ring also allegedly stole the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, manufactured by Pfizer Inc. Stolen Viagra was shipped to Florida to be sold at nightclubs in tandem with doses of the illegal narcotic Ecstasy, police said.
Truck drivers involved in the racket rolled into deserted sections of industrial parks and opened up the backs of their trailers for middlemen, who would help them select particular drugs to steal, said Chief Michael Mordaga, the lead investigator for the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.
As they trace the ring's activities, he said, detectives are following a trail through self-storage units throughout New Jersey. Authorities expect to eventually disrupt one or more of New Jersey's 900 licensed wholesalers, he said.
"We have been able to track down $3 million in thefts to these individuals, and we know there are millions more," he said. "A case of Viagra is the size of a telephone book, and the price on that is about $14,000."
Bergen County investigators last year disrupted illegal traffic in Serostim, a hormone manufactured by Rockland-based Serono Inc. that is used to prevent wasting syndrome in AIDS patients. It is a drug that also happens to be popular with bodybuilders.
Black marketeers were buying the drug from AIDS patients in New York and New Jersey and shipping it via overnight express to gyms in California. Express packages full of cash were sent back in return. Florida state investigators arrested 19 people last year after targeting a counterfeiting ring that shipped phony and diluted cancer drugs.
Pfizer disagreed with the characterization that it does not take action. "If appropriate, we report it to law enforcement," said Pfizer spokesman Bryant Haskins. "We don't ignore it. We try to find out how the theft occurred and by whom."
Christopher Rowland can be reached at

? Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.
GOP Rails at Kerry's 'Unprecedented Criminal Enterprise'
Republicans are usually too wimpy to speak up when Democrats commit massive vote fraud and other crimes, but not this time. The charges filed against Sen. John Kerry's campaign condemn his "unprecedented criminal enterprise."
The New York Post reported today that the papers filed by top Republicans with the Federal Election Commission also charge the Kerry camp and allied organizations with an "illegal conspiracy."
"Simply put, the Kerry campaign and the Democratic Party have been unable to fund-raise to a level of hard dollars that they think is necessary for their campaign efforts," the GOP complaint says.
"Instead, they have chosen to rely on an illegal conspiracy of donors and shadowy groups to defeat President Bush."
The complaint says the supposedly "independent" groups, which include and Media Fund, headed by former Kerry campaign manager Jim Jordan, amount to an illegal "slush fund for John Kerry's campaign."
"Taken together, they constitute an unprecedented criminal enterprise designed to impermissibly affect a presidential election," the complaint says.
So much for campaign finance "reform."


Kerry, Candidate and Catholic, Creates Uneasiness for Church
Published April 02. 2004 8:30AM
New York Times
Senator John Kerry's support for abortion rights and stem cell research has prompted discussions among Roman Catholic bishops and Vatican officials over how to respond to a presidential candidate who professes Catholicism while taking stands contrary to church teaching.
The issue has been a topic in the Vatican this week as bishops from Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina hold long-scheduled meetings with the pope and Vatican officials on a variety of issues.
"They are basically struggling with this, as we are," said one visiting American, Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, the chairman of a task force expected to produce guidelines for American bishops on relations with Catholic politicians.
Most recently, Bishop Ricard said, the bishops were troubled by Mr. Kerry's vote against a bill that makes it a crime to harm a fetus during an assault on a pregnant woman. President Bush signed the legislation on Thursday, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops immediately issued a news release applauding him.
Bishop Ricard said in Rome: "Of course we were disappointed with Kerry's voting against it. We were disappointed with others who voted against it, but as Catholic lawmakers we hold them to a higher standard."
The task force Bishop Ricard heads was formed last year after the Vatican released a forceful "doctrinal note" on Catholics in public life, which said, "A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals."
The bishops are unlikely to make overt endorsements, and consistently say that they favor neither Democrats nor Republicans. But if some influential prelates choose to publicly embrace Mr. Kerry or to snub him by refusing to offer him communion, withholding an honorary degree or canceling an event at a Catholic institution it could have an impact on some Catholic voters.
In February, Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis admonished Mr. Kerry not to take communion if he attended Mass there. Archbishop Burke, until recently the bishop of the diocese of LaCrosse, Wis., caused a furor when he issued the same threat to politicians there last year. Few of his fellow bishops followed suit.
Catholics make up 27 percent of the electorate and belong to the largest church in the country, with about 65 million members. Many live in states with large blocs of electoral votes. Exit polls in states that have already held their Democratic primaries showed that Mr. Kerry did very well among Catholics.
The Democrats began losing their lock on the Catholic vote about 30 years ago, and now it is very much up for grabs. No presidential candidate since at least 1980 has won the Catholic vote and lost the White House, with the exception of Al Gore in 2000.
Mr. Kerry is the first Roman Catholic to run for president on a major party ticket in 44 years, but the obstacles for Catholic politicians have turned inside out since 1960, when John F. Kennedy became the first Catholic to win the White House.
President Kennedy had to overcome accusations from non-Catholics that he would follow the bidding of the pope. Now, Mr. Kerry faces accusations from some within his own church that he is not following the pope's bidding closely enough.
"Kennedy settled the problem that a Catholic couldn't become president," said the Rev. Robert F. Drinan, a Catholic priest and former Democratic congressman from Massachusetts.
"That's not an issue now," said Father Drinan, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, who described Mr. Kerry as a friend and a strong Catholic. "The issue with Kerry will be, is he good enough as a Catholic."
Like many American Catholics, Mr. Kerry does not adhere to some church positions yet describes himself as, in his words, "a believing and practicing Catholic." He is a former altar boy who says he learned only last year that his paternal grandfather was a Czech Jew named Fritz Kohn, who changed his name and converted to Catholicism before emigrating to Boston.
Mr. Kerry sought an annulment from the church when he was divorced from his first wife. He later married Teresa Heinz, who is Catholic, and together they regularly attend Sunday Mass and take communion, a sacrament reserved for those in the church's good graces.
The senator is aligned with his church on many social justice issues, including immigration, poverty, health care and the death penalty. But he diverges on the litmus issues, like abortion and stem cell research, that animate church conservatives and many in the hierarchy.
Mr. Kerry has responded to questions about his adherence to church teachings by proclaiming his belief in the separation of church and state, just as President Kennedy did in a speech that largely laid to rest suspicions about his allegiances, said David Wade, a Kerry spokesman.
"Senator Kerry is a person of faith, he's a practicing Catholic, and his religion is an important part of his life and of Teresa Heinz Kerry's life," Mr. Wade said. "And they've always recognized that separation between the public and the private."
Mr. Wade said the senator had no concerns about being confronted or snubbed by Catholic leaders.
"It's not once been an issue the campaign has run into in almost two years on the campaign trail," he said. "He's given speeches at Georgetown, he's given speeches at Boston College, he's a graduate of Boston College Law School, and he has a long history speaking in Catholic institutions."
Some conservative Catholic groups have been urging bishops to penalize Catholic politicians who do not vote with the church.
The Rev. John McCloskey, the director of the Catholic Information Center in Washington and a member of the conservative organization Opus Dei, said, "Senator Kerry considers himself a Catholic, but on issues that are fundamental in terms of Catholic morality, he appears to be off the reservation."
However, Father McCloskey said, American bishops are "in a quandary" over just what to do about Catholic politicians who fail to uphold church doctrine on issues like abortion. Punitive measures like denying Mr. Kerry communion could backfire, he said.
Few bishops followed the example of Archbishop Burke in St. Louis, and two who did were far less direct. A Catholic official familiar with the bishops' thinking, who did not want to be identified, said after Archbishop Burke's sanction: "Notice the resounding silence. I think many people would not consider that a pastoral way to approach somebody."
Bishop Joseph A. Galante of the diocese of Camden, N.J. who served briefly on the task force on Catholics in politics, said that bishops must, in their roles as teachers, assert church doctrine and continue to call Catholic politicians to account to prevent them from leading other Catholics astray.
"When someone who is public and identifies as a Catholic takes public positions opposed to church teaching," Bishop Galante said, "if it's just ignored, then the question arises among other Catholic people, who say, `Well, I guess it's all right to hold these positions.' "


Kerry blasts Treasury analysis of tax plans
By Paul Farhi, Washington Post, 4/2/2004
WASHINGTON -- The Treasury Department seemed to weigh in on the ongoing fight between President Bush and Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry over taxes when it issued a news release detailing how much the Massachusetts senator's proposals might cost.
The release did not name Kerry, but it described in detail how much his programs would cost "hard-working individuals and married couples." Its estimates ranged from $201 billion to $476 billion, depending on what would be changed.
The Kerry campaign blasted the release, calling it a violation of the Hatch Act, which bars most government employees from participating in partisan politics while on the job.
"Whether it's using Treasury officials to analyze John Kerry's plan to create 10 million jobs or CIA officials to help smear Richard Clarke, this White House is the most political White House the nation has ever seen," spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said in a statement.
"They will say and do anything to get reelected."
Rob Nichols, a spokesman for the agency, defended the analysis, saying that it was requested by House majority leader Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, and that the department often scores legislative proposals. "This is so that policy makers, as they engage in a debate on changes in the tax code, will have facts at their disposal," he said.
Nevertheless, Senator Frank Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, asked the Treasury's inspector general yesterday to look into the matter.
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, said she had another idea. She wants the Treasury Department to do an analysis of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, which that Democrats have been requesting for months.
? Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.
Choose to Lose
By Shawn Macomber
Published 4/2/2004 12:08:54 AM
Even after watching John Kerry stumble through the Democratic debates last fall, I still expected him to be able to hold his own with Generation X. Alas, the would be leader of the free world proved in his recent sit-down with MTV's Gideon Yago that, as Ma the sheep once told a young pig in the film Babe, "we shouldn't hope for too much."
Even the simplest questions provoked agonized hedging by Kerry. Consider the following answer to one student's query as to whether Kerry was "cool."
"Well, if I were cool and told you I was cool, I wouldn't be cool," he replied, adjusting his horrendous pink and blue polka-dotted tie. "It's up to you and other people to judge if anything I do today is cool. My daughter would probably tell you I'm a freak at times."
Luckily, the crack team at MTV News tracked down Vanessa Kerry to clarify her father's actual level of coolness. Kerry, his daughter said, is "the guy who comes out in a full-piece wetsuit and Hawaiian shorts in the summer and thinks he's cool," which she initially blanched at. However, the odd ensemble eventually grew on her and overwhelmed any residual fashion sense.
The 26-year-old told Yago she went to work for her father's campaign because she was "pissed off" at George W. Bush and wanted to "go kick some ass." Perhaps she was the adviser who suggested he drop the F-bomb in the now infamous Rolling Stone interview a few months back.
IT ONLY GOT WORSE. Kerry confided to Yago that he was "never into heavy metal" but was "fascinated" by the "poetry," "anger," and "social energy" of rap and hip hop. As with everything else, Kerry then took the other side of the issue, leaving people with the impression that you should and should not listen to violent gangster rap.
"I think when you start talking about killing cops or something like that, it bothers me," Kerry said. "But understand, I'm still listening, because I know it's a reflection of the street and it's a reflection of life."
Occasionally a real issue came up. Kerry defended his vote on the Iraq resolution, saying the Bush Administration had tricked him with intelligence that was "not real." After considering for a moment whether he had admitted he could be tricked by a Texas cowboy, Kerry added, "You are not duped when somebody misleads you and in effect lies to you or doesn't tell you the truth."
MTV'S "CHOOSE OR LOSE" threatens to "mobilize more than 20 million young adults aged 18 to 30 to vote in the 2004 election." Ostensibly, this is a non-partisan effort, but a glance at the groups partnering with MTV to "educate" the youth vote suggests otherwise. The Hip-Hop Team Vote, the National Council of La Raza, the Black Youth Vote, the NAACP, and Harvard University's Institute of Politics are among the chief partners listed.
"Everyday our government makes all kinds of decisions that affect me," one young man says in a recent "Choose or Lose" commercial. "They decide if my older brother goes to war. They decide how much my grandmother gets in her Social Security check. They even decide who I'm allowed to marry."
Watching the "Choose or Lose" special, I wanted to feel like the network was giving kids the short shrift. The program, with sporadic exceptions, was devoid of any sort of substance. But then none of the potential voters interviewed for the program seemed to mind.
Over and over interviewees praised Kerry's charisma (???) and damned the national press for "distorting" the truth about him. And if the film crews were able to find a single college student with a positive view of Republicans, he was left on the cutting room floor. Yago thrice praised the junior senator from Massachusetts as a "war hero."
That Kerry came off as a meandering dud in this love fest shows just how much work he's going to have to do if he wants to win over the votes of the adult voters who make up the electorate. Kerry should ask his new pal Howie Dean how reliable the MTV generation is.
Shawn Macomber is a reporter for The American Spectator. He runs the website Return of the Primitive.

Kerry Island
Jay Gatsby runs for president.

Naushon Island, off the Massachusetts coast, has been known as the home of pirates, who confiscated the hard-earned wealth of merchants and businessmen; sheep, obedient creatures who demonstrate no independence; ticks and flies, droning annoying pests; and is rumored to be haunted by frightening, ghostly pale, gaunt figures. It is also a family home of John Kerry; readers can decide for themselves whether he constitutes a redundant addition to that list.
Seven miles long and about 5,000 acres, Naushon is the largest and most unspoiled in the Elizabeth Islands chain, just northwest of Martha's Vineyard and Chappaquiddick. The only year-round settlement in the chain is the town of Gosnold, on the outermost and lone public island, Cuttyhunk.
In its history, Naushon has been owned by only three families; the family of the first governor of Massachusetts colony, the Winthrops, the Bowdoins, and the Forbeses for the most recent 148 years.
The Forbes family maintains about 30 homes on Naushon, and hundreds of Forbeses and their guests vacation there in the summer. The public can boat near it, but not land. Today, a mounted groundskeeper patrols the shores, and politely asks trespassers to leave -- though some trespassers are allowed to finish their walk and urged to get permission before landing again.
"In order to preserve the owners' privacy and maintain the islands in the face of campers, litterers, thieves, arsonists, hunters, and others, they are all strictly no trespassing," wrote Naushon Shareholder David Gregg in a letter to a kayaker in the mid-1990s. (Arsonists?)
Only caretakers and sheepherders live on the island year-round. Employment with the Forbes does not appear to be a road to wealth: According to 2001 state Division of Employment and Training figures, the entire 2001 total payroll for Gosnard was $782,801 at eight establishments with a total of 51 employees, for an average income of $15,349.
In a policy that would make Al Gore proud, no vehicles are allowed on Naushon, and residents and guests travel by foot or by horseback or via antique horse-drawn carriages.
Periodically, Kerry talks about his ties to the island, his memories of family gatherings during his childhood, more recent experiences windsurfing off its coasts, or asserting his brotherhood with sportsmen by recalling adventures with his cousins shooting deer there. Kerry took Joe Klein for a speedboat ride off the island during the summer of 2002, perhaps the perfect interview backdrop for the senator's glowing profile in The New Yorker.
One can picture the lanky teen Kerry, wandering the steep, grassy hills that observers compare to Scottish highlands, contemplating deep thoughts while standing atop a high cliff overlooking rocky beaches and crashing surf. Between the mansions of wealth and class behind him, and the stark landscape before him, the atmosphere must have felt like a Charlotte Bronte novel.
In Kerry's 1990 Senate campaign, his opponent Jim Rappaport charged that the senator's "family trust" was receiving a tax abatement because the island is used for agricultural purposes, allowing the trust to pay $300 in annual taxes instead of $12,000. Kerry's spokesman responded that the island was owned by a trust set up by distant relatives on the Forbes side of his family, and that the senator is not a beneficiary of that trust. Kerry insisted that the island was just a family vacation home, not a formally owned property.
The Forbes of Naushon made their fortune in transoceanic trade in the 19th-century, including exchanging opium from Turkey for Chinese tea and silk. (The late financier Malcolm Forbes and his son, former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, are not related to this Forbes family.)
Although Kerry and Teresa Heinz enjoy the island privileges, neither he nor many other of the Forbes of his generation inherited vast wealth from their forebears.
Kerry's mother, Rosemary, was one of those Forbes of moderate means; his father Richard was a foreign-service officer stationed in Paris, Oslo, and Berlin. The wealthier relatives helped pay for Kerry's boarding school in Switzerland and later helped the family pay for Kerry's tuition at St. Paul's in New Hampshire, a prestigious classic jacket-and-tie New England private school.
Kerry's ties to the Forbes side of his family make for fascinating speculation. His upbringing was far from impoverished, but he was constantly surrounded by old money and pureblood Brahmin aristocracy. His family had a 52-foot-sailboat; the other kids had yachts. He was a Democratic Catholic; the campus of St. Paul's was almost entirely Republican Episcopalians. Kerry's peers reportedly perceived him as being "too ambitious" for a Forbes.
One wonders how Kerry was affected by being identified as a mere half-Forbes in the part of the country that put the most emphasis on inane aristocratic concepts of 'good breeding.'
"It used to be said that, socially speaking, Philadelphia asked who a person is, New York how much is he worth, and Boston what does he know," wrote Cleveland Amory wrote in his 1947 book , The Proper Bostonians. "Nationally it has now become generally recognized that Boston Society has long cared even more than Philadelphia about the first point and has refined the asking of who a person is to the point of demanding to know who he was. Philadelphia asks about a man's parents; Boston wants to know about his grandparents."
At school, Kerry faced a reception more complicated than racism or snobbery, according to Douglas Brinkley in his gushing review of Kerry's time in Vietnam, Tour of Duty.
"His fate would have been simpler in fact, if he were born an African-American from Atlanta or an Okie from Tulsa," Brinkley wrote. "Such clear anomalies at St. Paul's would have been accepted as legitimate outsiders, intelligent flukes of nature trying against ungodly odds to join the Eastern Establishment."
Rather than living the simple life of a black Atlantan in 1958, Kerry soldiered on as the poor outsider among the Brahmins, eventually dating Jacqueline Kennedy's half-sister, Janet Auchincloss. Through her, he was invited to go boating with President and the First Lady in 1962.
"If you look at those pictures of him with JFK on the boat, he looks kind of uncomfortable," says Howie Carr, Boston radio-show host and the Godfather of Bay State Kerry-watchers. "It's not like Clinton shaking hands with Kennedy at the White House, looking like, 'Hey, baby, this is where I belong.'"
Perhaps the weekends spent at Hammersmith Farm in Rhode Island, which was serving as the summer White House, seemed too much like the family gatherings at Naushon -- Jay Gatsby, masquerading among the privileged classes.
Regardless, Kerry eventually made peace with the world of wealth and lineage. He hosted two visits by the Clintons to Naushon in 1993 and 1994, with the president contributing a White House baseball cap to the informal "Presidential Hat Museum" that the Forbes family maintains in the main mansion on the island. Local lore claims the mansion is haunted by "ghosts of former Massachusetts governors."
There is no word on whether any of the ghosts have been glimpsed driving a phantom tank in pre-production Kerry for President campaign commercials.


Putin says Russia does not fear NATO
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder shake hands during a meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Friday, April 2, 2004. Schroeder and Putin are expected to focus on economic and security issues in talks during Schroeder's one-day visit on Friday. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
MOSCOW -- President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia does not fear the expansion of NATO or the European Union, but acknowledged that Moscow has disputes with the EU and warned that NATO's eastward march won't improve international security.
Speaking after a meeting with German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Putin said that because more than half of Russia's trade will be with the expanded EU, "We have spoken about how relations between the Russian Federation and the expanding European Union should be built."
"None of us wants modern Europe to be divided by new, and this case virtual, Berlin walls," Putin said. "The question of how to find the path to this cooperation is not simple. We really did have - and still have - certain concerns. But dialogue is developing quite constructively at the moment."
He said he had discussed the problems with Schroeder.
"We have never expressed concern about the expansion of the European Union. Never," he said.
Putin stressed that Russia's relations with NATO "are developing positively." While he said that Russia has "no concerns about the expansion of NATO in terms of the security of the Russian Federation," he warned that "today's threats are such that the expansion of NATO will not remove them."
Moscow is bracing for possible trade and travel obstacles as the EU expands to welcome 10 new members, including eight former Soviet republics or satellites, on May 1.
Schroeder's visit came on a day when soldiers from seven Eastern European countries raised their national flags outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, marking the Western alliance's expansion into the former Soviet Union.

Kharrazi to visit Moscow Monday
Friday, April 02, 2004 - ?2004
Tehran, April 2 (IranMania) -- According to Iran's State News Agency (IRNA) Iran's Foreign Minister Dr Kamal Kharrazi is to arrive in Moscow on Monday to take part in a meeting of foreign ministers of the Caspian Sea littoral states.
The meeting, to open Tuesday, will be attended by Foreign Ministers of the sea`s five littoral states--Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.
According to the Russian president`s special envoy for Caspian Sea affairs, Viktor Kalyuzni, the foreign ministers will tackle issues such as the military activities of states in the sea, an equitable manner of dividing the sea and determination of fishing areas.
The meeting will also make preliminary arrangements for a meeting of heads of the sea`s littoral countries to be held in Tehran this year.

Ch?vez tapping nation's rainy-day funds
Venezuelan President Ch?vez, scrounging for cash to pay for social welfare programs, is looking to tap the country's central bank.
CARACAS - Trying to pay for a social spending spree in the face of a possible recall vote, President Hugo Ch?vez has been seeking and using billions of dollars from government accounts previously off-limits to the executive branch.
Most recently, Ch?vez has renewed his effort to withdraw at least $1 billion from the autonomous central bank, which holds $23 billion in foreign reserves, most collected from oil export revenue. Ch?vez says the bank has $8 billion more than it really needs.
``That money doesnt belong to the central bank, or even to the government, the leftist populist Ch?vez said in a national television address Sunday. ``It belongs to all the people of Venezuela.''
The president says he is trying to help Venezuelas impoverished majority benefit from the countrys vast oil wealth. But critics who allege he is trying to impose an authoritarian regime say he is using money from rainy-day funds and the state-run oil monopoly, known as PDVSA, for political gain.
In the past year, Ch?vezs government has been on a spending spree -- building low-cost housing, digging water wells, launching healthcare and educational initiatives, including the creation of two universities -- that has swelled the national budget.
The boom in social spending comes as the opposition presses to oust Ch?vez with a recall referendum. Elected in 1998 with about 80 percent of the vote, Ch?vezs support has dwindled to the mid-30s, according to some polls.
Venezuela is the third- or fourth-largest oil supplier to the United States and sits on the largest crude reserves outside the Middle East. But decades of public corruption and mismanagement have left most of its people poor, a problem aggravated by recent political upheavals.
To pay for many of the new programs, analysts say, Ch?vez has looked outside the government's $26 billion budget for extra money. Hes found some of it at PDVSA, which, in a break from its past, is directly financing some of his large-scale social projects instead of channeling its profits through the official government budget.
Economists say the oil companys direct contribution to the social programs has topped $1 billion since early 2003, when Ch?vez fired nearly half of PDVSA's workers who had led a crippling national strike designed to force him from power.
PDVSA would not confirm the $1 billion figure, but a spokesman said the company ''supports'' social programs, among them, medical and infrastructure projects, which the company calls ``missions.''
Since the strike, PDVSA has shared its downtown Caracas headquarters with the countrys Ministry of Energy and Mines, underscoring the blurring of the line between the government and the once relatively independent oil company.
Ch?vezs move on the central bank, which he launched late last year with a demand for $1 billion and had apparently put aside until last week, has also been derided by critics who say it is another example of his undermining of the countrys independent institutions.
``This is not just a money grab, this is a power grab, said Orlando Ochoa, a professor of economics at the Catholic University in Caracas. ``It gives you power if you can use money to help people who can vote for you. His main goal is to stay in power . . . This is short-term happiness to get votes and medium-term economic disaster.''
Ironically, the central banks autonomous status is protected by a 1999 constitution that Ch?vez backed strongly. In his speech Sunday, he used soccer language to describe that protection as a mistake, a ``self-goal.
One of the banks directors, Armando Le?n, reaffirmed the banks autonomy on Monday, and instead suggested that Ch?vez replenish a national rainy-day fund that his government has already depleted, from $7 billion to $700 million since 2001.
The government is supposed to deposit money into the fund when oil prices are high and withdraw when they are low, so swings in oil prices dont drastically affect Venezuelas national budget.
But although oil prices are now high, Ch?vezs government has suspended deposits into that fund, partly to make up for revenue lost because of last years strike at PDVSA.
Meanwhile, some of the presidents supporters in Congress, who hold a slim majority, this week said they will draft laws allowing Ch?vez access to the central banks reserves.
``The economy has suffered because of the way the opposition took immense amounts of dollars out of the country and destroyed capitalism during the strikes, said Juan Barreto, a Ch?vez ally in Congress. ``To recuperate, the economy needs investment, particularly in the agricultural sector. It will allow us to compete in other markets and compete in the world.''
Several economists say the presidents proposal regarding the central bank would be devastating for the economy, arguing that it will undermine foreign investor confidence and cause inflation to soar.
''Im convinced that several members of his Cabinet know this is very dangerous, that this is playing with fire,'' said Pedro Palma, a professor of economics at Venezuelas IESA business school.


Gov't Warns of Summer Bomb Plots in U.S.
Apr 2, 1:41 PM (ET)
WASHINGTON (AP) - Terrorists might try to bomb buses and rail lines in major U.S. cities this summer, according to a government bulletin issued to law enforcement officials nationwide.
The FBI and Homeland Security Department sent a bulletin Thursday night saying terrorists could attempt to conceal explosives in luggage and carry-on bags, such as duffel bags and backpacks.
The bulletin cites uncorroborated intelligence as indicating that such bombs could be made of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and diesel fuel, similar to what was used to blow up the Oklahoma City federal building in April 1995.
A senior federal law enforcement official, speaking Friday on condition of anonymity, said recent intelligence, coupled with the deadly March 11 commuter train bombings in Madrid, has increased the level of concern about a potential attack in the United States.
The bulletin did not specify a particular city that might be targeted.
Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups have "demonstrated the intent and capability" to attack public transportation with a variety of bombs, including suicide bombers, the bulletin says. Such attacks have occurred in Israel, Greece, Turkey, Spain and elsewhere.
In Spain on Friday, police found a bomb connected to a detonator with a 450-foot cable under the tracks of a high-speed train railway between Madrid and Seville. Bomb disposal exports disarmed the device and no train was in the vicinity when it was discovered, Spanish officials said.
The U.S. bulletin says that a "viable" explosive constructed of ammonium nitrate and diesel "could be concealed in standard luggage."
British authorities earlier this week arrested eight people on suspicion of being involved in a possible terrorist plot that included the discovery of 1,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate.
The warning follows by one day an FBI bulletin to state and local law enforcement agencies raising concern that terrorists might try to use cultural, artistic or athletic visas to slip into the United States undetected.
The new bulletin lists a number of suggestions for city transportation systems to enhance security. These include close monitoring of parking lots, removal of trash receptacles, limiting access points, improving lighting and beefing up overall law enforcement presence.
Barriers should be deployed at key points to prevent terrorists from parking a bomb-laden vehicle, possibly disguised as a delivery truck, close to entrances and exits.
"Question drivers and direct them to move immediately," the bulletin says.
In addition, the bulletin recommends passenger screening steps such as random security sweeps, positive matches of bags and cargo to passengers, and reminding passengers to immediately report any unattended bags or suspicious behavior.

Malaysian Terrorists: Osama Inspired Us
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Admitting they were part of an Islamic terrorist group, four jailed Malaysians said Friday that a string of attacks against churches and other targets in Southeast Asia - including bombings in Bali that killed 202 people - was inspired by Osama bin Laden.
The claims, made in televised interviews, supported assertions that the Jemaah Islamiyah group is tied into al-Qaida. But comments by the suspects were denied by the accused leader of Jemaah Islamiyah and drew fire from human rights groups that warned the confessions may have been coerced.
Jemaah Islamiyah is thought to have been behind Christmas Eve church bombings in nine Indonesian cities in 2000 that killed 19 people, the nightclub blasts on the resort island of Bali and an August 2003 car bomb at a Jakarta hotel that killed 12 people.
Mohamed Nasir Abbas, one of the four men interviewed by Malaysia's TV3, said the bombings were inspired by religious edicts, known as fatwas, attributed to bin Laden.
"People who believed in the fatwa carried out bombings," Nasir said. "Therefore they bombed churches. The bombing in Bali was based on a policy to take revenge against America."
According to the edict, Muslims were told to kill "Americans wherever they are, irrespective of whether they are armed or not, whether they are soldiers or civilians or women, elderly people or children," Nasir said.
Another detainee, Amran Mansor, identified himself as a Jemaah Islamiyah fund-raiser and said he had transported explosives to Pekan Baru, the site of one of the church bombings.
Nasir and the other three men interviewed said they received military training in Afghanistan. They now renounce Jemaah Islamiyah, they said, because it killed Muslims and other innocent people.
They are being held in Indonesia on terror-related suspicions but it remains unclear whether authorities will press charges and how long they will be held.
"The likelihood that they may have been tortured and coerced into making false statements or confessions under interrogation is high," said Syed Ibrahim, head of a Malaysian human rights group devoted to improving prisoner conditions.
In the interview, Nasir identified Abu Bakar Bashir, an Indonesian Muslim cleric, as Jemaah Islamiyah's spiritual leader and said that Bashir and a man known as Hambali passed along bin Laden's wishes.
Bashir, who is being held in a Jakarta jail but is set to be released at the end of the month, despite U.S. pressure to keep him in custody, denies being the group's leader.
In a telephone interview from jail, Bashir told The Associated Press he suspected the latest claims against him were coerced by Indonesian and Malaysian officials eager to please the United States.
"Both the Indonesian and Malaysian police are working for American interests," Bashir said. "Now the United States is trying to arrange for my arrest to be extended."
Indonesian police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar said authorities were gathering evidence to determine whether charges could be filed against Bashir.
Nasir said he took orders from Bashir as head of Jemaah Islamiyah's cell covering the islands of Borneo, Mindanao and parts of Sulawesi.
He said he smuggled explosives to Indonesia for the 2000 church bombings and ran several Jemaah Islamiyah training camps in the southern Philippines.
The Jemaah Islamiyah leader known as Hambali, who is now in U.S. custody, was thought "to be in communication with Osama bin Laden," Nasir said. "Whether this meant there was an official link between Jemaah islamiyah and al-Qaida, or it was just a personal relationship, I did not understand."
Mansor said during the interview that Hambali had picked some of Jemaah Islamiyah's targets.


Posted by maximpost at 2:56 PM EST
Thursday, 1 April 2004


Oppression reaches a milestone in Iran.
By Michael Rubin
Twenty-five years ago today, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini stood triumphant in the holy city of Qom. For two days, millions of Iranians had flocked to the polls to vote in a referendum. The question was simple: "Do you want an Islamic Republic?" According to revolutionary authorities, 98.2 percent said yes.
Khomeini claimed victory. "By casting a decisive vote in favor of the Islamic Republic," he told enthusiastic crowds, "you have established a government of divine justice, a government in which all segments of the population shall enjoy equal consideration, [and] the light of divine justice shall shine uniformly on all...."
So began a quarter century of tyranny. In the weeks that followed, Iranians would awake to see pictures splashed across the front page of the official daily Ettelaat of government officials, intellectuals, and liberals before and after execution. Khomeini gave vigilantes tacit approval to sack the U.S. embassy, even while distancing himself from their actions. Looking back on her experience as a revolutionary, one elementary-school teacher told me during my first trip to Iran, "Khomeini promised us Islamic democracy, so we voted yes. By the time we realized we got another dictator, it was too late."
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the key issue is not degree of reform, but rather fundamental ideology. Iran's leadership uses the rhetoric of democracy to bestow respectability to one of the region's most brutal regimes. President Muhammad Khatami may call for democratic reforms, but he has never believed in universal suffrage. Writing in the official daily Keyhan while still a deputy in the Majlis [parliament], Khatami argued that ordinary people cannot comprehend God's will, and so the full privileges of democracy should only extend to those with clerical education. He has never repudiated his view.
Far from being on the path of reform and moderation, as is claimed by many European governments, access-seeking pundits, oil-company lobbyists, and Senator Arlen Specter (R., Penn.), the Islamic Republic continues to erode the basic human rights of its citizenry. Khatami, now more than halfway through his second term, has failed to implement a single substantive reform. On March 17, 2004, he quietly announced that he would no longer seek to push fundamental reform through the Majlis. No amount of negotiation with Khatami, even if he were sincere, would change the fact that he has neither the will nor the power to implement meaningful change.
Over the last five years, Iranian authorities have closed more than 50 newspapers. According to Reporters Sans Frontiers, the Islamic Republic has the second-greatest number of imprisoned journalists in the world. On July 11, 2003, Iranian authorities murdered Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi while she was in detention. Nevertheless, with Iranian state television tightly controlled and satellite access limited, it was possible on March 30, 2004, for Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi to claim with a straight face, "No country enjoys freedom, democracy, and the press freedom that currently exists in our country."
The fight against capital punishment is among the European Left's most popular causes. When it comes to Iran, however, there is only the silence of hypocrisy. Executions in Iran have risen proportionally to European trade. During the Khatami administration, application of the death penalty has ballooned. Iranian newspapers regularly document executions. For example, on February 14, 2004, Jomhuri Islami announced the public hangings of several youths, some less than 18 years old, in an orchard in the southwestern town of Mahshahr. Four days later, Sharq reported public hangings in Bandar-e Gaz's main square. On February 25, Jomhuri Islami announced the public hanging of Mohammad Ali Firouzi, only after he received 173 lashes.
Iranian women today mark a quarter century of oppression. While the American media applauds the struggle of women to win new rights throughout much of the Middle East, correspondents often fail to mention that in Iran, women fight for the restoration of basic rights taken away by the Islamic Republic. Human-rights groups may march against the French government's decision to ban the veil in French public schools, but they remain conspicuously silent about the Islamic Republic's enforcement of mandatory veiling.
The Islamic Republic's constitution does guarantee limited rights, but Iranian authorities use vigilante gangs to sidestep even these. Police fail to respond to calls as vigilantes break up crowded lectures in Tehran, Isfahan, and Shiraz. In the late 1990s, Fedayin-e Islam, a shadowy group linked to Iran's intelligence ministry, assassinated a series of writers and intellectuals, a crime as yet unsolved, which has cast a pale over the reform movement. In 1999, armed vigilantes from Ansar-e Hezbollah attacked a student dormitory, setting off widespread protests. Authorities used the unrest as reason to crackdown on freedom of expression. Scores of students and dissidents arrested in the aftermath of the crisis still languish in Tehran's Evin Prison.
Iranians have lost faith in the Islamic Republic. Recent telephone polls indicate that 85 percent of Tehran's residents seek fundamental change. According to the Iran-based Organization of Combatant Youth, voter turnout in recent polls was just 14 percent. Iranians visiting Iraq last month reported that in rural districts (to which Western journalists are forbidden access), turnout hovered near seven percent. According to Majlis deputy Fatimah Haqiqatju, as quoted in the [New Jersey] Star-Ledger, "It has gotten to the point where it is impossible to accomplish political reform within the system. The fate of the country will be either dictatorship or collapse, although they [the clerics] should remember that the outcome of a dictatorship is also collapse."
Twenty-five years after Khomeini declared the Islamic Republic, nearly 70 million Iranians struggle to be free. It's imperative that we do not abandon them.

-- Michael Rubin is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Washington Rebuffs Offer by Chief U.N. Nuclear Inspector to Act as Go-Between With Iran
By George Jahn Associated Press Writer
Published: Apr 1, 2004
VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Indications of continued nuclear cover-ups by Iran are nudging previously reluctant U.S. allies closer to Washington's view that Tehran should be penalized, European diplomats said Thursday.
The diplomats spoke to The Associated Press just days before chief U.N. nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei flies to Tehran. His mission could be jeopardized by a U.S. refusal to have him act as an intermediary with Iran.
The U.S. refusal appeared to be part of a strategy to wait and hope that new revelations in the coming weeks about Iran's nuclear program by ElBaradei's International Atomic Energy Agency would swing international sentiment behind Washington.
IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming disputed a U.S. assertion that ElBaradei's offer was spurned, saying senior State Department officials "made note" of his efforts.
ElBaradei's one-day Tehran visit begins Tuesday. His offer to mediate "wasn't taken seriously" during last month's talks in Washington with President Bush, an American official said.
The U.S. official and others said Washington felt there was nothing to discuss as long as suspicions remain about Iran's nuclear program, which America insists is geared toward making weapons.
Iran's nuclear ambitions first came under international scrutiny last year, when the IAEA discovered that Tehran had not disclosed large-scale efforts to enrich uranium, which can be used to generate power or in nuclear warheads. Finds of traces of weapons-grade uranium and evidence of suspicious experiments heightened concerns.
Critics say that Iran has since reneged on commitments to win international trust - such as a promise to suspend enrichment - as IAEA inspectors have discovered new evidence of past experiments that could be used to develop weapons.
Iran argues that it is honoring its suspension and all other pledges. In an allusion to the United States, Pirooz Hosseini, the chief Iranian delegate to the IAEA, told AP that criticism of his country's nuclear record was "propaganda ... coming from certain circles."
But Vienna-based diplomats said evidence continues to accumulate against Iran.
One cited intelligence from the United States and an unnamed country suggesting that within the past year, Iran had moved nuclear enrichment programs to smaller, easily hidden sites.
Another said IAEA inspectors had complained that they were forced to use Iranian equipment instead of their own cameras and devices to test for traces of enriched uranium at one site in February.
The Iranians "don't want the photos leaving the country, so the Iranians will in certain cases ... keep the photos and the cameras," one of the diplomats said.
Adding to the skepticism was Iran's weekend announcement 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 contravene its pledge to suspend enrichment. But Britain, France and Germany - who have blunted past U.S. attempts to come down hard on Iran - on Wednesday were critical. They said the Isfahan plant sent the wrong signal.
The Germans, French and British now think that "things are not going well," said a diplomat.
Last year, the three secured Iran's agreement to suspend enrichment and cooperate with the IAEA in exchange for promised access to western technology. They have stymied U.S. attempts to have Tehran brought before the U.N. Security Council for allegedly violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation treaty.
The diplomats said willingness to believe Iran was fading. One said Iran's "cat and mouse tactics" boosted sympathy for the U.S. position.
Even if no "smoking gun" is found, Iran's past record could be reviewed and declared in violation of the Nonproliferation treaty, said another diplomat. That would open the way for Security Council involvement.
AP-ES-04-01-04 1412EST

Iran signs $20bn gas deal with China
Iran has agreed in principle to sell $20 billion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to China over the next 25 years.
Ignoring US energy sanctions on Tehran, the two countries have signed a memorandum of understanding to begin shipping LNG supplies in 2008, reported Middle East Newsline.
The Beijing-based Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp., a spin-off of China's defense and missile contractor, China North Industries Corp. - the target of US sanctions amid missile sales to Iran - would get an annual 2.5 million metric tons of Iranian LNG.
China is already a major oil customer of Iran.


Saudi royal replaced as investment chief
Saudi Arabia changed the head of its investment authority on Monday, replacing Prince Abdullah Bin Faisal Bin Turki with prominent businessman Amr Dabbagh.
Although Bin Faisal, a member of the Saudi royal family, had openly criticized the slow pace of privatization and the failure to open up major sectors in the oil-rich kingdom to foreign investors, he said that he was bowing out for purely personal reasons.
Dabbagh chairs the Jeddah Marketing Board, and is president and chief executive officer of the Jeddah-based Dabbagh Group of Companies, which comprises 28 firms operating in various businesses in 30 countries.
The outgoing investment chief insisted that although he had been "transparent about our problems and issues" during his tenure, this is not why he was stepping down.
"I have spent 29 years in public service and I wanted to take time off to look after my family," said Bin Faisal, a former chairman of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu.
In interviews with
AFP in the past few months, Bin Faisal complained about the failure to open up major sectors to foreign investors and said government departments had to eliminate red tape and make way for privatization and reform.
With Bin Faisal in the helm, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) has, since its establishment in April 2000, licensed some 2,000 projects worth more than 52 billion Saudi riyals ($14 billion), in which the share of foreign investors totals 85 percent. But Bin Faisal argued this was by no means satisfactory in a market the size of Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi government endorsed a plan to open up 20 vital sectors to local and foreign private investors 18 months ago, in a bid to generate tens of billions of dollars to pay for a staggering public debt, improve services, and create more jobs for nationals.
The plan opened up telecommunications, water desalination, air transport, airport services, construction and management of highways, seaport services, and local oil refineries to the private sector.
But sectors such as oil exploration, security, retail and wholesale, education, and land and sea transport are among activities still barred to foreign investors.
Chalabi `will be cleared'
The Iraqi National Congress (INC) has issued a statement claiming that its leader, Governing Council member Ahmed Chalabi, will soon be cleared of alleged wrongdoing in the bankruptcy of a Jordanian bank.
"New information, never released before, about the bankruptcy of Jordan's Petra Bank will soon emerge and demonstrate that the bank's hardships were tailor-made by... senior Jordanian officials," INC spokesman Entifad Qanbar told reporters.
He charged that these officials, whom he did not identify, were in the pay of ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and allegedly worked hand in hand with members of the ousted regime to bring about the bank's collapse.
Chalabi, a secular member of Iraq's majority Shia community and a key US ally in post-Saddam Iraq, has been convicted in absentia by a Jordanian court of fraud and embezzling $288 million from Petra Bank into Swiss bank accounts. But Chalabi has always maintained that his conviction was the result of a plot by the Saddam regime to frame him.
Qanbar dismissed the case against Chalabi as a "farce" and said the new information that would be made public soon "will convince the world that the whole issue was planned," adding that "internationally known legal experts will reveal this scandal."
Secret bunkers held chemical weapons, says Iraqi exile
April 1, 2004
A scientist describes Saddam's weapons and stealth technology programs, reports Russell Skelton.
For seven years, before he was tortured and sentenced to death, Rashid (not his real name) worked at the top of Iraq's scientific establishment. He says he regularly met Saddam Hussein and his cousin and strongman deputy prime minister Abdul Tawab Huweish. After the Gulf War he was put in charge of a taskforce code named "Al Babel" to develop stealth technology to make aircraft and missiles undetectable on radar.
Rashid, who now lives in Melbourne, also claims to have had access as a trusted insider to secret underground bunkers where chemical weapons were stored. "Saddam gave me access to everything, he was so desperate to perfect the stealth technology," he says.
Now Rashid's great fear is that Saddam loyalists still active in postwar Iraq may get to the chemicals and weapons he saw hidden away before fleeing for his life.
"If those weapons still exist, the worry is that they will be used against the Iraqi people, the US forces or even sold off to al-Qaeda. Maybe those weapons no longer exist, but I find it hard to believe they could disappear so easily," he says.
Rashid's days of working at the top came to an abrupt end in 1998 when he was arrested with a group of other scientists and army officers on charges of plotting to remove Saddam. He was taken to a high-security jail in the centre of Baghdad, run by the Mukhabarat (secret police), where he was tortured for three weeks, suffering severe spinal injuries.
Rashid was then transferred to the Abu Ghraib jail outside Baghdad for execution. "Each morning prisoners were executed. Some were shot and some were hung. I could see the executions from my cell window. You lived in a constant state of terror because you never knew who was next."
Rashid says he escaped when a high-ranking military officer and close friend bribed the guards to swap his file with that of an executed prisoner. "On visiting day I just walked out. Everything had been arranged; I had false travel documents that got me and my family across the border to Syria," he says.
Rashid's problems did not end there. The Iraqi secret police came looking for him at Damascus University where he taught physics part time, and he fled to Melbourne on an Emirates flight. He says he left his wife and family behind because the family had money to buy only a single ticket and at that stage he was the one whose life was in immediate danger.
Rashid has told The Age he knows of five secret storage bunkers around Baghdad, Basra and Tikrit, three of which he visited regularly as a top scientist and senior employee of Iraq's now defunct Atomic Energy Commission.
One, he says, was under an island in the Tigris River near Saddam University. Another was beneath the house of one of Saddam's cousins, and reached by a tunnel with a hidden entrance 800 metres away.
He described the bunkers as being built 15 metres underground, of reinforced concrete, and multi-storeyed. "Between these layers, pipes would rise up, through the building above to provide access for ventilation.
"The lethal chemicals were stored in drums and the bunkers were air-conditioned. But there were also artillery shells and 122-millimetre rockets armed with chemicals."
He says the sites had been built using foreign construction companies, including a company from China, and that nobody was allowed to approach without authorisation and extensive ID checks by the Special Republican Guard.
Rashid says meeting Saddam was always a bizarre experience. "Suddenly his people would appear unannounced. They would take you to a location and examine you carefully: mouth, hands, eyes and ears. Then you would be taken to another place and checked again. This could happen up to three times. Finally he would come into the room."
Rashid says Saddam was moody but was always on top of what was discussed, and read all scientific reports sent to him. "Nothing ever happened unless he approved it. That included the purchase of special equipment, sending people overseas to be trained. If you told him a project would take six months to complete, he would want it in four months."
After arriving in Australia, Rashid was issued with a temporary protection visa.
Even though Rashid's wife and four children have been processed and found to be refugees by the UNHCR in Syria, they remain stranded there. Australia's immigration laws prevent TPV holders access to family reunion and they have not been issued with a visa.
Although Rashid is known to authorities in Australia, he asked that his real name not be published, to protect him and his family from Saddam loyalists still active in Iraqi communities in and outside Australia.
"It's still too dangerous for us to speak out; I don't know who to trust. There are former army officers living in Australia who were close to Saddam," he says.

Kerry can't recall being at '71 parley
By Michael Kranish, Globe Staff, 4/1/2004
Senator John F. Kerry said through a spokesman this week that he has no recollection of attending a November 1971 meeting of Vietnam Veterans Against the War at which some activists discussed a plot to kill some US senators who backed the war.
"Senator Kerry does not remember attending the Kansas City meeting," Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan said in a statement to the Globe in response to written questions about the matter. "Kerry does not remember any discussions that you referred to," the statement added, referring to the assassination plot.
In the past couple of weeks, some media and Internet reports have raised questions about whether Kerry was at the meeting and, if he heard about the assassination plot, whether he alerted authorities.
Kerry has long been portrayed as not being at the Kansas City, Mo., meeting because Kerry recalled quitting the organization at an acrimonious July 1971 session, four months before the November meeting at which the assassination plot was discussed.
But last week, the Kerry campaign seemed to leave open the possibility that he had attended the November session, after historian Gerald Nicosia said he had found an FBI document that he said indicated that Kerry was there. As a result of Nicosia's assertion, Kerry's campaign said in a statement that while Kerry did not remember being at the meeting, "If there are valid FBI surveillance reports from credible sources that place some of those disagreements in Kansas City, we accept that historical footnote in the account of his work to end the difficult and divisive war."
The assassination plot was suggested by antiwar activist Scott Camil. Camil and Kerry knew each other well; the two were together during the April 1971 protests on the Mall in Washington. In a telephone interview from his Florida home, Camil confirmed historical reports that he had suggested a vague plot aimed at prowar senators, but he said he has no recollection of seeing Kerry at the meeting.
"He had nothing to do with this," Camil said. "I don't remember seeing him there."
Another person at the Kansas City session, Larry Rottmann, also said he does not remember seeing Kerry there. A third key player, Randy Barnes, who headed the Kansas City chapter that hosted the meeting, has been quoted in the media as saying Kerry was there. But in a telephone interview, Barnes said he may have confused that session with an earlier one in St. Louis and now is unsure whether Kerry attended the Kansas City function.
"Quite honestly, I am not absolutely certain that John Kerry was at that meeting," Barnes said about the Kansas City session. "A meeting occurred in St. Louis and one occurred in Kansas City. I thought the Kansas City meeting was first."
But Barnes said he now realizes that "the St. Louis meeting was first. What I had thought was a certain thing, I am absolutely not sure now."
In any case, Barnes said, the plot suggested by Camil was never taken seriously and was quickly shouted down. As for Kerry, Barnes said, "John constantly gave an impassioned plea to be nonviolent, work within the system."
Many members of the organization agreed with Barnes that Kerry sought to moderate the group and that he quit the organization in 1971 when he could not come to terms with some of the more radical members the group.
Nicosia's history of the antiwar movement, "Home to War," says that Kerry resigned from Vietnam Veterans Against the War at a St. Louis meeting in July 1971 after a shouting match with another member. That reinforced the belief that Kerry was not in Kansas City in November 1971.
But two weeks ago, Nicosia said he examined some FBI reports that he had obtained during research for his book but had not reviewed. One report said Kerry was at the November meeting in Kansas City. The report, from an unnamed confidential source, said "John Kerry, a national VVAW leader, appeared at the meeting and announced to those present he was resigning from the executive committee for personal reasons; however, he would be available to speak for VVAW." The report does not mention discussion of a plot to kill senators; instead, it mentions that the group planned activities such as "a fast, a vigil, and guerrilla theater."
But another FBI report from the same period adds that an informant at the Kansas City meeting heard a "vastly more militant posture," prompting an FBI official to add this cautionary note: "Some information reports by various informants is at variance and considering extreme importance of developments in this matter and intense interest of other government agencies, it is essential that full details of meeting be ascertained accurately and immediately." The reports indicate that the FBI information about Kerry came not from FBI agents but from informants who fed information to the government. Thus, the reliability of the reports is difficult to verify.
Moreover, Nicosia has made public only about 50 of the 20,000 pages of FBI files as a result of an 11-year effort under the Freedom of Information Act. The FBI has not authorized a separate release of the files, although it is studying pending requests. Separately, Nicosia said Sunday that someone had broken into his home and stolen some of the files, and the case is under investigation.
Michael Kranish can be reached at

? Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.

Kerry Author: Stolen FBI Files Were 'Very Explosive'
FBI files documenting Sen. John Kerry's anti-war activities that were reported stolen over the weekend could have damaged the likely Democratic nominee's presidential bid, the San Francisco author who obtained the records said Monday.
Asked about the missing files, Vietnam War historian Gerald Nicosia told CNN: "This stuff is very explosive. It's an enormous amount of information."
"The police say it was a neat and professional burglary," he explained, noting that 3,000 to 4,000 pages were missing out of a total of 20,000 pages. Burglars ignored other valuables in the house, raising questions about whether the break-in had anything to do with political damage control on behalf of the Kerry campaign.
A Kerry spokesman had no comment on the apparent theft when asked by the New York Sun over the weekend. But Nicosia said he suspects political foul play, telling the Los Angeles Times for Tuesday's edition that he is a product of the Watergate era who understands the allure of political sabotage.
While researching his book "Home to War," Nicosia obtained Kerry's FBI files in 1999. The records have already proven problematic for the Kerry campaign, forcing the candidate to reverse earlier denials that he attended a November 1971 meeting of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War where a plot to assassinate pro-war U.S. senators was discussed.
Nicosia told the Sun that the intruders likely wanted more than the three file boxes that were removed, since other boxes appear to have been rifled. He speculated that the file thieves were interrupted, perhaps scared off by a neighbor's barking dog.
Since the break-in he has trouble sleeping, he told the Times, adding, "My kids were really spooked by the burglary."

Treasury Analyzes Kerry's Tax Proposals
NewsMax Wires
Thursday, Apr. 01, 2004
WASHINGTON -- The Treasury Department directed career employees to analyze tax ideas proposed by presidential candidate John Kerry and other Democrats after a request from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, officials said Wednesday.
The Republican National Committee posted an interactive feature on its Web site that attaches the largest of those cost estimates to Kerry's plan to raise taxes paid by the wealthiest taxpayers.
Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said he was unaware of anyone at the White House approving the Treasury's decision to analyze Kerry's tax plan.
Although federal law prohibits civil servants from working on political campaigns while on duty, Treasury Department attorneys concluded the work was appropriate, Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols said.
"That's a core functionality of the department," Nichols said. "Doing the analysis is proper, it's prudent, it's appropriate. It's our obligation to do it."
The Treasury Department posted the analysis on its Web site March 22, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
DeLay requested the cost analysis to better counter Democratic attempts to amend budget and tax legislation with tax increases on higher-income taxpayers, DeLay spokesman Stuart Roy said. A group of Republicans had also considered using the results to assemble a "Kerry budget" for debate during last week's budget deliberations, he said.
"If you get a specific number on what those proposals actually bring in, then you can hold the Democrats accountable for their spending," Roy said.
Dems Say Foul
Democrats said the Treasury Department used their civil servants inappropriately.
"The Bush administration has an ugly habit of using the federal government for its political agenda," said Kerry spokesman Chad Clanton.
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said, "It was coercion. If they had refused to do it and they were made to do it, it's illegal."
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., asked the agency's inspector general to determine whether laws were violated.
The Office of Special Counsel advises that federal employees cannot "use official authority or influence to interfere with an election" or "engage in political activity while on duty." The office is an independent agency charged with investigating and prosecuting violations of federal personnel laws.
The Treasury Department analyzed the effect of three tax increases on individuals and couples who earn $200,000 or more. Kerry has pledged to roll back President Bush's tax cuts for those earning $200,000 or more.
The first would repeal a tax cut that reduced the top marginal income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 36 percent. The second would repeal dividend and capital gains tax cuts for taxpayers earning $200,000 or more. The third would prevent taxpayers earning $200,000 or more from claiming full personal exemptions and itemized deductions.
The analysis concluded that "hardworking individuals and married couples could have their taxes raised" by amounts that ranged from $201 billion to $477 billion.
The RNC's "John Kerry Spendometer" states on its Web site: "Tax Plan: $658 billion over 10 years! Raising taxes on the top income bracket: $477 billion over 10 years."

? 2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Strange Tales
Herein lie stories of coincidence and chance: What do the Final Four, the Rule of 14, and middle names have to do with the 2004 presidential elections?
by Bill Whalen
03/30/2004 12:00:00 AM
SPRING HAS SPRUNG, which politically means it isn't pollen season but instead the pallid period between the primaries and the conventions. For scribes and pundits, that means open season for all sorts of crackpot thinking.
A warning: a few of these conspiracy theories, even Oliver Stone might dismiss. But hopefully it's enough to keep you entertained until there's real campaign news to report . . . or John Kerry's next round of extreme sports . . . or another "tell-all" book by a disgruntled bureaucrat.
To wit:
"Height makes might" ain't always right. From 1904 to 1984, the taller presidential candidate won 80 percent of the time. But not so in the 2000 election: George W. Bush bested the taller Al Gore, who earlier had dismissed the less vertically challenged Bill Bradley. Note to the Bush campaign: the moment the lanky Kerry starts calling himself a "New Age Rail Splitter," remind voters that Teddy Roosevelt was only 5'8".
The presidential "Rule of 14." For the party out of power, the dream candidate makes a 14-year climb to the White House. It's true of Ronald Reagan (elected governor of California in 1966; president in 1980); Bill Clinton (elected governor of Arkansas in 1978; president in 1992); Jimmy Carter (first ran for office in 1962; won the presidency in 1976); and John F. Kennedy (first elected to the U.S. House in 1946; elected president in 1960). Under this rule, Kerry should scratch his first Senate term from his r?sum? and reset his political clock to 1990 (which would also eliminate some now-regrettable votes).
What's in a name? In the 19th Century, gentlemen-candidates who publicly sported a middle name tended not to be two-term presidents: John Quincy Adams, William Henry Harrison, James Knox Polk, James Abram Garfield. It may partially explain why Grover Cleveland dropped his first name, Stephen, from his political persona (that, and his family's habit of addressing each other by their middle names). If the election remains tight after Labor Day, will the New York Times suddenly change its style rule to "George Walker Bush"?
"4" Factor. Since the advent of the two-party system, only once has the party that won in a "0" year election lost it in the subsequent "4" year contest. That was 1884, when one-and-out Republican Chester Alan Arthur (there's that pesky middle name again) chose not to run. Two differences between then and now: Arthur inherited the presidency after Garfield's assassination; and the GOP had controlled the White House for the previous 24 years (whereas the White House changed party hands four times in the 24 years from 1976 to 2000).
Hoop dreams? . . . From 1940 to 1972, the home state of the NCAA men's basketball champ also voted for the winning presidential candidate (the lone exception: 1960, when Ohio State won it all and Nixon didn't). Since 1988, the tournament has alternated from winner to loser, this year being the winning candidate's turn to carry the champ's state. The advantage here: Bush. Three of the teams in next weekend's "Final Four"--Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech and Duke--come from Republican "red" states. If you're a Democrat, the Connecticut Huskies are your team.
. . . Or field of dreams? Here's an oddity that might interest our baseball-loving president. Five times over the past century--the elections of 1912, 1932, 1960, 1976, and 1992--a Democrat has replaced a Republican in the White House. In each of those years, the winning Democrat also carried the home states of the two teams that played in the previous month's World Series. For Kerry, it's one more reason to pull for a Cubs-Red Sox series, with Massachusetts and Illinois safe Democratic bets. Then again, all bets are off if that occurs, as Hell will have frozen over.
Fair warning. Yale economist Ray Fair has a model for predicting the outcome of two-party votes, based on economic variables such as inflation and GDP growth. In early February, he predicted 58.7 percent of the two-party vote for Bush (up from 58.3 percent in October). It's bad news for Kerry. Since he started this voting forecast back in 1978, Fair has never misgauged the incumbent party's vote by more than 1.9 percent.
State(s) uncertain. Call it the "something's-got-to-give" election. If Bush wins, odds are he becomes the first president to be elected and reelected without once carrying California. Kerry, meanwhile, could be the first Democrat to win despite going 0-for-the-Confederacy (13 southern and border states, including Missouri). The last president to win with no help whatsoever from the South: William Howard Taft, in 1908. Like Kerry (and Bush), Taft was a Yalie--albeit more interested in snow cones than snowboarding.
UNFORTUNATELY, there are two "x" factors still to be determined. They're the ones that matter most--and we won't know them until sometime in November: how many votes will Bush receive, and how many states will he carry?
No president has ever been reelected without receiving a net-gain in votes over his first election. That's true for both two-time landslide winners (Reagan's vote total went up 25 percent in 1984; Eisenhower's 21.6 percent in 1956) as well as two-time plurality winners (Clinton received a 5.5 percent boost in 1996). Bush is the first president since Benjamin Harrison, in 1888, to win the presidency despite losing the popular vote. Harrison received 4.6 percent fewer votes in his reelection campaign, resulting in a net loss of four states and no second term.
As for states, Bush carried 30 of them in 2000, the lowest winning total in a 50-state election since Carter racked up a mere 23 states in 1976 (in a reversal of today's red-blue divide, Carter carried all of the Confederate states, save Virginia, plus Republican mainstay Ohio). Can Bush suffer a net loss and still win a second term? With a cushion of eight electoral votes among the red states, he can drop New Hampshire, or West Virginia, or Nevada--but not any combination of two or more of those states he won in 2000.
But there's another reason why Bush can't afford to regress, and it has to do with the president's predecessor. Bill Clinton won 31 states in 1996, one fewer than in 1992. While Clinton cruised to reelection with 379 electoral votes (9 more than in 1992), he left anything but fertile ground for Al Gore. Clinton carried Arizona and Colorado in 1992, then surrendered them back to the GOP in 1996--and they stayed "red" for Bush. In 2000, Tennessee and Arkansas--Clinton and Gore's home states, which voted Democratic in 1992 and 1996--also went Republican. So much for an Electoral-College bridge to the 21st Century.
For Republicans already thinking beyond this November, it's not enough for Bush to win. He has to build a cushion for the next GOP nominee who comes along in 2008, lest that candidate suffer the same indignity as Gore.
Which means adding one more adage to the list: in presidential elections, winning is everything--but size also matters.
Bill Whalen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he follows California and national politics.

? Copyright 2004, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

Posted by maximpost at 5:52 PM EST
Wednesday, 31 March 2004


North Korea chooses guns over butter
By Aidan Foster-Carter

(Published with permission of
March's big event in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was the budget. As usual, the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA), the rubber-stamp parliament, met for just a single day last Thursday, March 25. It heard - and unanimously approved - reports by the finance minister, Mun Il-bong, on the budget, and by the prime minister, Pak Pong-ju, on the wider economy. Each of these looked both forward and back, summing up last year and setting tasks for 2004. (The calendar year is also the financial year in North Korea, which otherwise uses its own unique calendar, starting from the birth in 1912 of the late great leader Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994; thus 2004 is Juche 93, 2003 is Juche 92, and so forth.)
Nor is this the only idiosyncrasy. Despite the rare treat (eagerly anticipated by DPRK-watchers) of an official number or two, as so often in Pyongyang, the Star Trek mantra applies. This was a budget speech - but not as we know it. As reported by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Mun Il-bong did not actually reveal a single solid number. With due prudence, he reported underspending: expenditure was only 98.2 percent of the planned figure (who lost out is not revealed), while revenue exceeded the plan at 100.9 percent.
Until last year, such percentages could be plotted against known past figures to derive the real numbers. On that basis, North Korea's recent budget history is startling. After years, indeed decades, of reported steady annual increases on both sides of the ledger, by 1994 income and spending alike had reached 41.5 billion won (just under US$20 billion at the rate of exchange then). Then Kim Il-sung died, and for four years the SPA did not meet: supposedly as a sign of mourning, but this was also the worst period of famine.
When in 1999 the SPA finally reconvened, the then-finance minister, Yun Ki-jong (a rare woman among Pyongyang's top elite), revealed, but did not try to explain, figures of barely 20 billion won for 1998 - meaning both income and spending had plunged by half in just four years. After this shock, the pattern of slow annual rises resumed, reaching 22.2 billion won in 2002. But that year's economic reforms, involving manifold increases in most prices and wages, created a new problem from 2003: namely what exchange rate to use, as between what can in effect be called old and new won. No doubt Pyongyang bureaucrats have their own multiplier for this, but they are not letting on what it is.
So we are stuck with percentages and bitty ones at that. Besides aggregate income and spending, Mun Il-bong gave a partial breakdown. Last year 15.7 percent of the budget went for defense, 23.3 percent on the national economy, and 40.5 percent to "various popular policies for the promotion of the people's welfare" (social services in normal parlance). Where the remaining 20.5 percent went was not revealed, nor any further breakdown. Of last year's main innovation - North Korea's first government bonds in half a century, intended to flush out foreign currency and other savings kept under the proverbial mattress - Mun just said that "a large revenue" was added and "not a small amount of funds" donated.
Taxing free markets
He was hardly more forthcoming on targets for this year. Total revenue is set to rise by 5.7 percent, with a planned 16.5 percent increase in state enterprise profits - while "those of cooperative organizations and others are envisaged to markedly swell". The "others" refers to North Korea's new and burgeoning private sector, whose relationship to the old planned economy - which the budget report presupposes as the norm - is far from clear. Defeated in trying to crush free markets, the state is doubtless keen to tax them.
Otherwise it was targetry as usual. Total spending is slated to rise by 8.6 percent, suggesting either a deficit or more bond issues. Defense gets 15.5 percent; in so militarized a society the true figure must be much higher. Interestingly, defense tasks include "stepping up ... informationalization" (sic): a rare admission that North Korea's obsession with information technology (IT) has a military dimension. (South Korean defense planners, skeptical of sunshine, have added cyberwar to the long list of threats they might confront from across the Demilitarized Zone.) Overall spending on science and technology is set to rise by a massive 60 percent, whereas education - surely not unconnected - and health get just 9.5 percent and 5.9 percent respectively.
Apart from an opaque mention of an extra 8.1 percent for unspecified "additional measures" these were the only numbers given by the finance minister. Otherwise, his old-style priorities could have been declaimed at any time in the past half-century: "In order to re-energize the nation's economy as a whole this year the government will allocate huge funds for the fields of the national economy so as to keep the production in the mining, machine-building, chemical and building materials industries and forestry going at a steady rate and effect a new productive upswing in the light industry and the rural economy while channeling main efforts into the power, coal and metal industries and the railway transport." But if everything is a priority, then nothing is.
Fortunately the prime minister's speech, at the same SPA session, was a little more forthcoming. This was Pak Pong-ju's first annual report since his appointment last September. A year before that, as chemicals minister, he took part in an economic study tour of South Korea; where his practical grasp and eagerness to learn - touring the plants of Samsung et al, he yearned for several extra pairs of eyes to take it all in - impressed his hosts. Hence high hopes are riding on him, as the latest incarnation of a longstanding adventism - waiting for Godot, so far - which pines for the day when Pyongyang's technocrats will finally take over, and economic rationality will reign.
No technocrats yet at the helm
Not yet, alas. Wishful thinking abounds, especially in Seoul these days. The Financial Times, in an upbeat account of Pak's speech to the SPA, quoted Park Suhk-sam (chief North Korea researcher at the Bank of Korea, the South's central bank), as concluding that reform-minded technocrats appear to have firm control over economic policy in Pyongyang: "Market concepts such as profitability are becoming entrenched."
Yet a close reading of Pak's full speech (summary at - hardly supports such optimism. The premier patently has drive, and a grasp of detail. But it is quite clear that he is constrained by political, meaning military, priorities. He added a few figures to those given by Mun Il-bong. Last year gross industrial output value rose 10 percent, electricity 21 percent, lead and zinc 76 percent, iron ore 46 percent, and cement 27 percent.
That sounds impressive, if true. But repeated references to the need to "normalize" production suggest North Korea is still struggling merely to recover ground lost in the 1990s, when a series of shocks - the abrupt end of Soviet aid, floods, and famine - all but wiped out the already-creaking old industrial base. The northeast, where much of this was located, remains a rust belt, with few plants emitting smoke or other signs of life. Many have been cannibalized for scrap metal, sold across the border in China. A leading Seoul daily, the Chosun Ilbo, claimed on March 10 that workers at the crucial Musan mine, praised by the prime minister for its efforts last year, are selling iron ore to China to buy food instead of sending it as per plan to the Kim Chaek steel mill.
While of course Pak Pong-ju mentioned none of this, one can and must read between the lines. Thus he demanded "an efficient use of electricity by minimizing the loss of electricity in transmission, establishing a strict centralized discipline over the power supply and widely introducing meters". There is no point producing 21 percent more power, only for it to be dissipated either in dilapidated transmission lines or wasteful usage.
Similarly, Pak's calls to "put production on a normal track", in areas ranging from chemicals to foodstuffs, imply an economy still in recovery mode. As such, the few specific targets he mentioned appear unrealistically high - unless the prior baseline is alarmingly low. He wants fabric output to rise by 73 percent, and footwear by 53 percent. Even more striking, he called for production of 2.3 times more iron ore, 2.5 times more pig iron, and five times more rolled steel than last year. Unless this means restarting or repairing plants that had closed, such rates of increase sound absurd and unattainable.
The army gets the lion's share
And what is all this steel for? "To supply ... national defense industry on a preferential basis." Similarly, more coal - "tunneling should be kept ahead of coal mining", which sounds obvious but suggests problems opening up fresh seams - is essential to "meet the need for coal in munitions industry and key domains of the national economy".
This gives the game away. Kim Jong-il's Songun (military-first) policy, to which Pak duly genuflected, is both a direct and indirect barrier to economic recovery, let alone reform. Steel going to tanks and missiles is lost to more productive uses: for civilian factories or tractors, say. True, arms sales can earn foreign exchange; but this is risky business now, thanks to the United States-backed Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), which has already intercepted several military cargoes heading to and from North Korea.
Not only is Songun unproductive, its priorities are reactionary, putting as they do back at center stage the old Stalinist heavy industry behemoths: coal, iron, steel. This is not where a 21st-century North Korea should be focussing. Its comparative advantage lies in manufacturing for export: as in the planned Kaesong special zone for South Korean firms, Pyongyang's best business hope, which the premier did not see fit to mention. At home, the heavy-industry fetish reduces light industry and agriculture, lip service aside, to being forever the bridesmaids, never the bride. (Then again, as US expert Marcus Noland of the Institute for International Economics has noted, in a rational world mountainous North Korea - the South too - would not grow food but import it.)
The military aspect aside, tensions between old and new thinking in Pak Pong-ju's speech are palpable. Thus officials - still in control - are now charged with not only "economic guidance" but also "business management", which they must carry out "on the socialist principle and the principle of ensuring profitability". As if being capitalist and socialist at once is not hard enough, they must be militarist too: "actively learning from the fighting trait and working method created by the People's Army".
Squaring so many circles inevitably undermines Pak's call for "a leaping advance on the front of economy and science", itself intended to "bring about a decisive turn in improving the standard of the people's living". Notable too, and sadly typical, was the silence on production relations as opposed to productive forces (as Karl Marx would put it). Ironically, to outside observers North Korea today is a classic Marxian case. The main obstacles to development are not technical but social: to wit the dead weight of a regime and system that still willfully misdirect resources on a monstrous scale.
No mention of market reforms
Ominously, not once did Pak Pong-ju explicitly mention the cautious yet far-reaching market reforms that North Korea has implemented since July 2002. A reform that dares not speak its name must by definition be limited. Yet the day before, the visiting Chinese foreign minister was proudly shown Pyongyang's new Tongil private market, and KCNA reported this. With similar ambivalence, The Economist's correspondent was taken to Tongil - but forbidden to photograph it. Similarly, that stony statistical silence speaks volumes about the limits of reform so far. Foreign investors, not least, will not come unless given numbers to crunch - nor while the nuclear crisis remains unsettled, yet another way in which Songun impedes North Korea's economic growth.
On a brighter note, Pak Pong-ju evidently wants to open the economy. Yet his call to build modern export production bases for the extractive industries has an oddly old-fashioned ring. True, North Korea has a range of minerals that it can, indeed does, process and sell. Moreover commodity prices are high, unlike in the 1970s when an earlier outward foray landed Pyongyang with debts that it could not, or would not, repay to this day. Yet after half a century of socialism, is this classic Third World raw-materials syndrome really the best that a self-styled "people's paradise" can do? And how can it do even this without vast investment, which can only come from outside? North Korea has been trying to flog its mines for years, but has had almost no takers.
At one point, for once almost speaking the same language as the rest of the world, Pak says that "the quality of major commodities in great demand which mainly depend on locally available rich raw materials should be raised to the world's level for their high competitive edge on the international market". Yet to make exports world-class will, again, require finance and technology that North Korea simply does not possess.
In the most striking section of his report, Pak in effect calls on North Korea to become one big export zone: "All domains and units of the national economy should wage a mass movement to build their own strong export bases, expand and develop foreign trade in a multifaceted manner and encourage equity and contractual joint ventures on an extensive scale in the direction of introducing advanced science and technology. They should conduct substantial cooperation for economic development with various international organizations in keeping with the changed environment and conditions."
Amen to that. Yet again, this is not wholly new - and it all depends who does what, why, and how. In fact for many years enterprises have been told to maximize foreign-exchange earnings - but to show loyalty to the Dear Leader (who often pockets the proceeds, as cash or "gifts"), rather than to boost the economy as such. The premium here is on one-off deals that turn a quick buck, rather than building stable long-term relationships. Nor is Pyongyang picky about partners or products: witness the Pong Su, a ship caught last year dropping heroin in Australia for Malaysian gangsters (see Hand in the cookie jar, April 29, 2003). This year the State Department accused North Korea of drug trafficking at state level. The obverse of expanding legitimate trade has to be a complete halt to criminal enterprise.
Or again trade may be an act of desperation. The Chosun Ilbo story quoted above also claims that even public security officials - hitherto privileged, for obvious reasons - were recently told to start trading, simply to obtain food; and that corruption among hungry officials is spreading. The shopworn slogan of juche (self-reliance), when not simply a lie - North Korea has never been in any sense a self-contained economy, but has always depended on outside subventions - is now given a new twist. Ever since the famine of the mid-1990s, entire regions, sectors, or households have in effect been told to expect nothing from the state: you are on your own now, so fend for yourself.
Yet this same regime, despite defaulting on its side of the social contract in failing to guarantee even the most rudimentary of human needs - food to eat, for sheer physical survival - still has the gall to claim monopoly rights over its long-suffering citizens' bodies and minds. The contradiction is acute; one wonders how long it can last before people start demanding, as the song has it: "What have you done for me, lately?"
At the macroeconomic level, Kim Jong-il cannot put off forever a choice between, literally, guns or butter: a military-first policy, or a viable economy. He cannot have both; and Pak Pong-ju cannot deliver economic progress while shackled by Songun.
Aidan Foster-Carter is honorary senior research fellow in sociology and modern Korea, Leeds University, UK. This article was first written for and published by, and is reproduced by kind permission.

Pakistan to play a pivotal role
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - As the Pakistan military establishment's pro-United States policies continue to receive harsh criticism domestically, Washington is now pressuring Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf to undertake yet another operation against foreign militants and their proteges in Pakistan's tribal regions of South and North Waziristan near the Afghanistan border.
The most recent operation in South Waziristan kicked off two weeks ago and failed miserably, with the official figure listing about 50 of the Pakistan Army's officers and soldiers killed and no "prize targets" captured. Asia Times Online sources maintain the casualty figure is actually much higher. Now, Musharraf has been pushed back under the microscope. Through many reshuffles in the Pakistan army, Musharraf has managed to maintain his writ as chief of army staff, while holding onto his position as president of Pakistan - however this issue is reemerging as a source of contention in Pakistan. There is also intense debate in the armed forces hierarchy following the failed operation in Wana, the headquarters of South Waziristan agency, that the two offices should be separated to keep the army out of politics.
Such calls for the division of military and state come in the wake of several "high value target" myths established over the duration of the operation. At the start of the fighting, it was implied that al-Qaeda number two, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, was hiding out in the region, an allegation later dismissed by the army. More recently, it was suggested that two high-level al-Qaeda members, Tahir Yuldevish and "Abdullah", were seriously wounded and killed - in that order. Yuldevish is the leading commander of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, meanwhile Abdullah's story would have ridiculed the army had the world known his background, given that Pakistan's Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) department initially branded him to be a key al-Qaeda member.
Yuldashev and "Abdullah" are two of the most famous characters among the Pakistani jihadis - each featured in movies that are in circulation all over the country. Yuldashev can be seen addressing the Islamic cause in which he justifies their fight against the US by providing various glimpses of brutalities in Israel and in Chechnya. "Abdullah" is a Chechan guerilla who is known among the jihadis for his classic guerilla fights. He is shown in the movies killing Russian soldiers.
US bombings in Afghanistan forced Yuldevish to leave northern Afghanistan some time ago, his whereabouts are currently unknown, however, he was last believed to have been hiding out in Khost. Pakistani authorities took the lead from there and established their own guess that Yuldevish was hiding out in the Shawal mountains - a no-man's land on the Pakistan-Afghan border - and even claimed that he was wounded. Given the popularity of Abdullah in Pakistan, it was presumed that he should also be in Afghanistan, and his status was elevated by the ISPR to that of chief spy master of al-Qaeda. Soon after, however, it was recognized that there was no evidence of his presence in Afghanistan. He was eventually presumed dead, but it was later stated by the ISPR that he is not the chief spy master, but rather an ordinary spy: "an Egyptian" whose body had not yet been recovered.
These attempts to "glorify" the Wana operation were unable to cover up its failure and repercussions. The Pakistan army is split on an ethnic basis. Before the operation started in South Waziristan, Musharraf prematurely retired Corps Commander Peshawar Ali Jan Orakzai, a Pashtun, and installed Lieutenant-General Safdar Hussain - a Punjabi. The development was seen as anti-Pashtun among the Pashtun officers who are the second largest majority after Punjabi officers. These feelings of tension were clearly reflected during the operation, from both sides. Several soldiers and a few officers of Pashtun origin refused to participate in actions taken against the Pashtun tribals.
The way in which Pashtun tribals dealt with hostages is also a reflection of this split. The tribals that held Pashtun paramilitary force members hostage are said to have treated them with respect, later releasing them after a deal with Pakistani authorities. However, the soldiers that were of Punjab descent were killed and their bodies mutilated.
High-level sources tell Asia Times Online that in the face of these failures, Musharraf now faces two immediate challenges.
Firstly, the US military high command has been regularly been visiting Pakistan and is stressing the need for a complete crackdown on foreign fighters along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area, starting from Khyber Agency to South Waziristan. They emphasized that the mission can only be successful if both US and Pakistani forces conduct joint operations in the area. The aim of this operation is once again to destroy the base of jihadi fighters believed to be in the Shawal mountains. Thus another operation in South and North Waziristan is inevitable, despite the public outcry sure to ensue.
The second challenge Musharraf is up against comes from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). IAEA inspectors are now in Iran and aim to come Pakistan to verify the Iranian centrifuge facility with Pakistan - which means they will be paying a visit to Pakistan's nuclear installations, another issue sensitive to the Pakistani public.
Non-compliance with these two challenges is difficult for Pakistan, as the country is under heavy US pressure. But, on the other hand, compliance means giving Islamic radicals the chance to wreak further havoc. They are already seeking out this opportunity - under broader designs chalked out by the International Islamic Front - in which the success of the Afghan resistance can only be ensured once it takes control of Pakistan's backyard. This is only possible if the country falls into the hands of Islamic radicals or deep into anarchy and chaos.
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)


Afghanistan: Return of the jihadis
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - With the onset of summer and the ice now melting in the mountains of Afghanistan, the most organized global struggle yet of the International Islamic Front partners has begun to defeat the United States and coalition forces at their hub in Afghanistan.
The early manifestations of this can already be seen in Uzbekistan, where a series of terror attacks over the past few days have left more than 40 people dead, and in the foiled terror attacks in Britain and the Philippines. But the real battlefield is Afghanistan, where Pakistan, already the world's backyard of radical Islam, will play an important role.
The Uzbek struggle
Events in Uzbekistan, including suicide attacks and culminating in a shootout on Tuesday, are the bloodiest wave of violence to hit the former Soviet republic since it enlisted as a key US ally in the "war on terrorism" soon after the 2001 September 11 attacks. A US air base there proved an important strategic asset in the US aerial attacks on Afghanistan.
Some reports have blamed the Hizb ut-Tahrir, but this is unlikely to be the case, as this group, although committed to the overthrow of existing political regimes and their replacement with a caliphate, has traditionally been non-violent.
Rather, the violence in Uzbekistan is much more likely to be linked to Afghanistan and the struggle that is to be played out there in the coming months.
Pakistan's Central Asia connection
In the development of Islamic radicalism in Uzbekistan, the "Naqshband" circle of Sufis emerged as an underground network during Soviet rule in opposition to the Soviet system. These Sufis believed in militancy against "tyrant" rulers. The network's first contact with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) came when the Sufis began resistance operations against the Soviets after the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
In collaboration with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the ISI actively assisted the militants, and also devised a strategy to take the struggle back to USSR soil, apart from Afghanistan.
The go-between for this was the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA), led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is now once again spearheading operations in Afghanistan. The HIA helped spread the revolutionary literature of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Central Asian republics. The aim was not to convert ordinary Muslims, but to recruit revolutionaries who would attack the Soviet system from within their own regions, including Uzbekistan. These operations were launched in the mid and late 1980s, and over the years a whole new generation has evolved committed to underground operations. They are not an isolated community, like the Pakistani tribals, who are easily identified with their links to militants. This new generation of militants is part and parcel of Central Asian urban culture, and like any secret agents, they are not easily identifiable.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan army established a special intelligence cell within the HIA for which Pakistanis and Afghans were trained. All of the Pakistanis were ISI operators. However, after 1989, at the end of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the HIA began to work independently and it absorbed many Arabs into the intelligence cell, as well as Central Asian youths. These were sent to training camps in Afghanistan, where they were drilled by Arab instructors. The Central Asian recruits, therefore, forged good ties with many Arabs.
In the early 1980s Afghanistan also served as a testing ground for Pakistani dictator Zia ul-Haq's vision, along with his chief spy master, then Lieutenant-General Akhtar Abdul Rehman (later a full general), for an international Islamic brigade. This matured into Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front, a loose umbrella front for organizations that include al-Qaeda and independent cells in Central Asia comprising militants nurtured by the CIA-ISI nexus and trained in the HIA's Afghanistan camps.
In this context, the terror in Uzbekistan, which borders Afghanistan, cannot be seen in isolation, rather as the beginning of a new jihad in Afghanistan that will tap into resources, especially those in Central Asia, developed over many years.
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Posted by maximpost at 10:22 PM EST

DER SPIEGEL 36/2003 - 01. September 2003
Cover Story

"End the Occupation"

Interview with Shiite leader Muktada al-Sadr, on the conflict with the Americans.
SPIEGEL: You have demanded the speedy withdrawal of the "American occupiers." Won't this only worsen the already chaotic situation in Iraq?
Sadr: Any occupation is abominable. The longer occupiers remain in a country, the more severe are the consequences. The Americans must leave. Otherwise, the wave of violence will become overwhelming. Out with the Americans, and better today than tomorrow!
SPIEGEL: Isn't precisely the reverse the case? If the Americans were not in the country, a war would break out among rival gangs that would overshadow everything that has happened to date.
Sadr: The Americans are the ones who are driving things to a head. They appear to be neither capable nor willing to reestablish general security, as the attack on the UN headquarters building in Baghdad has shown. The assassinations of Shiite clerics here in Najaf also demonstrate what we can expect from George Bush' soldiers.
SPIEGEL: You cannot hold the Americans responsible for the attack on UN headquarters or the terrorist assassinations.
Sadr: If the occupiers had pursued a credible security policy, something like this would not have been possible. Both friends and enemies say this.
SPIEGEL: There are no Americans patrolling Najaf. The city is responsible for security. The assassination of the Ayatollah was obviously planned by rivals or by supporters of Saddam.
Sadr: I condemn this crime in the strongest possible terms!
SPIEGEL: There are many indications that Bin Laden's Al Qaeda has gained a foothold in Iraq.
Sadr: That would serve as additional evidence of the incapacity of the Americans and of the need to act quickly and not to waste any more time. However, we must not allow anything to deter us from our main objective, which is to end the occupation.
SPIEGEL: With force? After all, you have a highly well-armed militia at your disposal ...
Sadr: ... No, no. I don't issue any orders to shoot. The Americans should be driven from the country with peaceful means.
SPIEGEL: How will that work?
Sadr: Peaceful appeals, mass protests, political pressure - oh, there are many methods and means.
SPIEGEL: Many of your religious brethren believe it is more advisable to allow the Americans to remain in the country until a democratic political platform materializes.
Sadr: A "democratic platform" as a gift from the Americans? That's ridiculous. The soldiers of Mr. Bush have not set up camp here in order to honor us with their American democracy.
SPIEGEL: Why are they here?
Sadr: Washington planned the invasion of Iraq long ago. The Americans are interested in highly self-serving objectives, which is why they will not leave our country until the day they have achieved their goals.
SPIEGEL: Do you accuse the Americans of pursuing a colonial policy in Iraq?
Sadr: I do. And I am not the only one who believes this.
SPIEGEL: You fear a lengthy occupation period, and yet you are not in favor of violent resistance. Based on this reasoning, do you also condemn the attacks on the US army, which are increasing from one day to the next?
Sadr: The supporters of the deposed regime of terror are criminals, and every Iraqi should stand up to them. Anyone who takes up arms to allow the Saddam era to return is an enemy of the people.
SPIEGEL: The newly convened "Governing Council" is attempting to lay the groundwork for a democratic future ...
Sadr: ... What a sorry bunch! Those 25 people, who were arbitrarily appointed by US governor Paul Bremer, are by no means representative of Iraq.
SPIEGEL: Several well-known Muslims, including some of your fellow Shiites, are members of this new council.
Sadr: Which does not change the fact that they do not have the mandate of the people. In addition, they do not answer to the people. Instead, they report to Bremer and must obey him.
SPIEGEL: What would be the political alternative?
Sadr: The occupation force must hold elections within the immediate future. Allowing the people to decide on the political structure desired by the Iraqis could represent a start. But this must happen now and not at some point in the future. I think it is telling that the Americans express themselves vaguely in this regard and do not mention a specific date, so as not to allow themselves to be pinned down.
SPIEGEL: The governing council you so despise is preparing for elections.
Sadr: Yes, yes, yes. All empty talk. Don't you realize that the composition of the "Council" is already unacceptable to any reasonable Iraqi?
SPIEGEL: The Shiites are well-represented with 13 of the council's 25 members.
Sadr: That's not the point. I object to the appointment of the council's members by the chief of the occupying power and the lack of qualification of many members. Not a single cleric from Najaf is represented, which makes a mockery of human reason. No, the council is worthless. We will boycott it. In our minds, it does not exist.
SPIEGEL: In that case, who should hold the elections you demand?
Sadr: Politicians elected by the people.
SPIEGEL: What if the Americans were to have the council members ratified by the people?
Sadr: The people should not bestow its blessing on US dictates. It should nominate its own candidates and then vote. It would all be a farce and an abuse of the concept of democracy.
SPIEGEL: Even if things were to progress the way you would like, the new Iraq would run the risk of a conflict with the Kurds. This could destroy all the political negotiations in Baghdad.
Sadr: Blood has already been shed, unfortunately. I am aware of that. But if we have a true democracy, rather than a falsely democratic occupation regime, we and our Kurdish fellow citizens will arrive at a solution acceptable to both sides. After all, the Kurds are also Muslims.

Translated by Christopher Sultan

? DER SPIEGEL 36/2003
Alle Rechte vorbehalten


The Clinton administration's conduct during the Rwandan genocide was one of the more shameful episodes in recent American history, and Dick Clarke was in the middle of it--playing politics, at least according to this passage from Samantha Power's excellent book A Problem from Hell:
"At the NSC the person who managed Rwanda policy was not [Tony] Lake but Richard Clarke, who oversaw peacekeeping policy and for whom the news from Rwanda only confirmed a deep skepticism about the viability of UN deployments. Clarke believed that another UN failure could doom relations between Congress and the United Nations. He also sought to shield the president from congressional and public criticism. Donald Steinberg managed the Africa portfolio at the NSC and tried to look out for the dying Rwandans, but he was not an experienced in-fighter, and, colleagues say, he `never won a single argument' with Clarke."
Posted at 04:51 PM

CLINTON KNEW... [Rich Lowry]
... about the Rwandan genocide, at least according to this story in the Guardian:

Papers prove US knew of genocide in Rwanda
By Rory Carroll
April 1, 2004
US president Bill Clinton's administration knew Rwanda was being engulfed by genocide in April 1994 but buried the information to justify its inaction, classified documents made available for the first time reveal.
Senior officials privately used the word genocide within 16 days of the start of the killings, but chose not to do so publicly because the president had already decided not to intervene.
Intelligence reports obtained using the US Freedom of Information Act show the cabinet and almost certainly the president knew of a planned "final solution to eliminate all Tutsis" before the slaughter reached its peak.
It took Hutu death squads three months from April 6 to murder about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus and at each stage accurate, detailed reports were reaching Washington policymakers.
The documents undermine claims by Mr Clinton and his officials that they did not fully appreciate the scale and speed of the killings.
"It's powerful proof that they knew," said Alison des Forges, a Human Rights Watch researcher and authority on the genocide.
Posted at 04:22 PM

Papers prove US knew of genocide in Rwanda
By Rory Carroll
April 1, 2004
US president Bill Clinton's administration knew Rwanda was being engulfed by genocide in April 1994 but buried the information to justify its inaction, classified documents made available for the first time reveal.
Senior officials privately used the word genocide within 16 days of the start of the killings, but chose not to do so publicly because the president had already decided not to intervene.
Intelligence reports obtained using the US Freedom of Information Act show the cabinet and almost certainly the president knew of a planned "final solution to eliminate all Tutsis" before the slaughter reached its peak.
It took Hutu death squads three months from April 6 to murder about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus and at each stage accurate, detailed reports were reaching Washington policymakers.
The documents undermine claims by Mr Clinton and his officials that they did not fully appreciate the scale and speed of the killings.
"It's powerful proof that they knew," said Alison des Forges, a Human Rights Watch researcher and authority on the genocide.
The National Security Archive, an independent non-governmental research institute based in Washington, went to court to obtain the material.
It discovered that a secret CIA briefing circulated to Mr Clinton, his vice-president, Al Gore, and hundreds of officials included almost daily reports on Rwanda. One, dated April 23, 1994, said rebels would continue fighting to "stop the genocide, which . . . is spreading south".
Three days later the secretary of state, Warren Christopher, and other officials were told of "genocide and partition" and of declarations of a "final solution to eliminate all Tutsis".
However, the administration did not publicly use the word genocide until May 25 and even then diluted its impact by saying "acts of genocide".
Ms des Forges said: "They feared this word would generate public opinion which would demand some sort of action and they didn't want to act."
The administration did not want to repeat the fiasco of intervention in Somalia, where US troops became sucked into fighting. It also felt the US had no interests in Rwanda, a small central African country with no minerals or strategic value.
Many analysts and historians fault Washington and other Western countries not just for failing to support the token force of overwhelmed United Nations peacekeepers but also for failing to speak out more forcefully during the slaughter.
Mr Clinton has apologised for those failures but the declassified documents undermine his defence of ignorance.
On a visit to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, in 1998 Mr Clinton apologised for not acting quickly enough or immediately calling the crimes genocide.
The Guardian
Texas scandal throws doubt on anti-drug task forces
Wed Mar 31, 6:53 AM ET
By Laura Parker, USA TODAY
A 16-year-old federal program that has poured about $500 million a year into more than 750 regional anti-drug task forces is under fire from critics who say that a lack of oversight has led to wrongful convictions of citizens and theft, perjury and misuse of public funds by law enforcement officers.
The focus of many of the complaints from groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (news - web sites) has been the scandal in Tulia, Texas, where more than 40 residents - most of them black - were sent to jail after an officer allegedly lied in court about selling them drugs during a sting operation in 1999.
No drugs were ever recovered during raids in the Tulia case, and the investigator, Tom Coleman, produced no physical evidence to back up his testimony. Doubts surrounding the convictions eventually led Texas Gov. Rick Perry to pardon nearly all of the defendants last year. This month, the defendants reached a $5 million settlement with officials in nearby Amarillo, the hub for the task force operations.
Under the agreement, the Panhandle Regional Narcotics Trafficking Task Force, a multiagency unit that covered 26 counties, was disbanded. The task force's downfall - along with local officials' acknowledgement that it lacked leadership - cast a spotlight on problems in other federally funded task forces.
Investigations into possible misconduct by members of such task forces are underway in nine states. In some cases, criminal charges against people arrested in drug stings have been dismissed; in other cases, convictions have been overturned.
The situation has led the ACLU and other groups to call on Congress to either overhaul the federal grant program that provides most of the funding for the anti-drug task forces, or to eliminate the program. The critics say multicounty task forces are too easily corrupted and have become ineffective.
The chief complaint against the anti-drug units - which often involve more than two dozen law enforcement agencies - is that no one