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Wednesday, 14 April 2004


Martin Eichenbaum
Jonas Fisher
Working Paper 10430
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
April 2004
We thank seminar participants at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago for helpful comments. The views
expressed in this paper do not necessarily represent the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago or the
Federal Reserve System. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of
the National Bureau of Economic Research.
?2004 by Martin Eichenbaum and Jonas Fisher. All rights reserved. Short sections of text, not to exceed two
paragraphs, may be quoted without explicit permission provided that full credit, including ? notice, is given
to the source.
Fiscal Policy in the Aftermath of 9/11
Martin Eichenbaum and Jonas Fisher
NBER Working Paper No. 10430
April 2004
JEL No. E1, E6
This paper investigates the nature of U.S. fiscal policy in the aftermath of 9/11. We argue that the
recent dramatic fall in the government surplus and the large fall in tax rates cannot be accounted for
by either the state of the U.S. economy as of 9/11 or as the typical response of fiscal policy to a large
exogenous rise in military expenditures. Our evidence suggests that, had tax rates responded in the
way they `normally' do to large exogenous changes in government spending, aggregate output would
have been lower and the surplus would not have changed by much. The unusually large fall in tax
rates had an expansionary impact on output and was the primary force underlying the large decline
in the surplus. Our results do not bear directly on the question of whether the decline in tax rates and
the decline in the surplus after 9/11 were desirable or not.
Martin Eichenbaum
Department of Economics
Northwestern University
2003 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
and NBER
Jonas Fisher
Research Department
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
230 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
1. Introduction
This paper investigates the nature of U.S. fiscal policy in the aftermath of 9/11.
We focus on the question: Is fiscal policy in the aftermath of 9/11 well explained as
the normal response of the U.S. economy to a large exogenous increase in military
expenditures? In our view, the answer is no. The recent dramatic fall in the
government surplus (i.e. the rise in the deficit) and the large fall in labor and
capital tax rates cannot be accounted for by either the state of the U.S. economy
as of 9/11 or as the typical response of fiscal policy to a large exogenous rise
in military expenditures. The explanation must be sought elsewhere. The most
obvious candidates are recent changes in the U.S. tax code and the slowdown in
economic activity around the onset of the Iraq war. Our results indicate that
changes in the tax code played the primary role. Specifically, we argue that had
tax rates responded in the way they `normally' do to large exogenous changes in
government spending, the government surplus would not have changed by much
and might have actually risen.
To establish the `normal' response of fiscal policy to large shocks, we build
on the approach used by Ramey and Shapiro (1998). These authors identify
three political events, arguably unrelated to developments in the domestic U.S.
economy, that led to large, exogenous increases in military expenditures. These
events, which we refer to as Ramey - Shapiro episodes, coincide roughly with the
onset of the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Carter - Reagan defense
buildup. We identify the normal response of fiscal policy to a large military shock
with our estimate of the dynamic response paths of government purchases, the
government surplus and capital and labor tax rates to a Ramey - Shapiro episode.
To assess whether fiscal policy was unusual after 9/11, we use our estimated
statistical model to generate forecasts of tax rates, output, government consump-
tion, the real interest rate and the surplus conditional on (i) the occurrence of
a fiscal shock in 2001:3, (ii) the state of the economy as of 2001:2 and (iii) the
assumption that fiscal policy responds to 9/11 in the same way that it did in
the three Ramey - Shapiro episodes. We find that the general rise in government
consumption is well explained by the 9/11 shock. So too is the rise in output, although
there is clear evidence of another shock which drove output down in 2002.
However, the responses of the surplus to GDP ratio and tax rates are substantially
less well explained by the 9/11 shock. For example, the declines in average
capital and labor tax rates are much larger than our conditional forecast. Perhaps
even more striking is the difference between the actual and predicted values of the
surplus to GDP ratio. Our statistical model predicts that, had the government
responded to 9/11 as it typically did in the Ramey-Shapiro episodes, then absent
other shocks, the surplus would initially have risen and then slowly declined to the
point where the consolidated budget was balanced. In reality, the surplus suffered
a sharp, ongoing decline. Taken together, these results suggest that fiscal policy
in the aftermath of 9/11 is not well explained as the normal response of policy to
a large exogenous increase in military spending.
This leaves open the question: How would aggregate output and the surplus
to GDP ratio have responded to the post-9/11 rise in government consumption
had the government pursued alternative tax policies? We cannot use our statistical
model to address the impact of systematic changes in policy. A structural
model is required. The particular model that we use is the one developed in Burnside,
Eichenbaum and Fisher (2004). We use this model because it does well at
accounting quantitatively for the consequences of the Ramey - Shapiro episodes.
We consider three possible tax responses to 9/11. In the first, we assume
that tax rates responded the way they normally do after a Ramey - Shapiro
episode. In the second, we assume that tax rates do not change from their pre-
9/11 levels. In the third, we assume that average labor and capital taxes fall by
four percentage points in a very persistent way. This fall roughly corresponds
to the actual decline in average taxes between 2001:2 and 2003:3. In all cases,
we assume that government consumption rises in a way commensurate with what
actually occurred after 9/11.
Our findings can be summarized as follows. With the first and second specifications,
9/11 would have been associated with a small initial rise, followed by
a persistent but small decline, in the surplus to GDP ratio. In contrast and
consistent with the actual post-9/11 data, the third specification implies that the
surplus to GDP ratio would have declined immediately and then stayed well below
its pre-shock level for an extended period of time. To the extent that the Bush tax
cuts are viewed as highly persistent, this result provides a formal interpretation
of the view that the large drop in the surplus to GDP ratio following 9/11 is due
to an atypical reduction in tax rates after a large increase in military spending.
Our structural model also implies that a cut in tax rates leads to a subtantial
rise in output, with the precise magnitude depending on the elasticity of labor
supply. Evaluating the welfare tradeoff between the rise in output and the fall in
the surplus to GDP ratio associated with the cut in tax rates is beyond the scope
of this paper.
The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. Section 2 discusses our
strategy for estimating the effects of a Ramey - Shapiro episode and presents our
results. In that section we also use our statistical model to assess how unusual
fiscal policy was in the aftermath of 9/11. In section three we discuss our economic
model and use it to assess how the surplus and aggregate output would
have behaved under alternative tax responses to 9/11. Finally, section 4 contains
concluding remarks.
2. Evidence on the Effects of a Shock to Fiscal Policy
In this section we describe our strategy for estimating the effects of an exogenous
shock to fiscal policy and present our results. This strategy is very close to the
one used in Burnside, Eichenbaum and Fisher (2004).
2.1. Identifying the Effects of a Fiscal Policy Shock
Ramey and Shapiro (1998) pursue a `narrative approach' to isolate three arguably
exogenous events that led to large military buildups and increases in government
purchases: the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Carter-Reagan defense
buildup following the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. Based on
their reading of history, they date these events at 1950:3, 1965:1 and 1980:1. The
weakness of this approach is that we only have three episodes of exogenous fiscal
policy shocks to work with. In our view, this weakness is more than offset by the
compelling nature of Ramey and Shapiro's assumption that the war episodes are
exogenous. Certainly their assumption seems plausible relative to the assumptions
typically imposed to isolate the exogenous component of statistical innovations in
government purchases and tax rates. See Blanchard and Perotti (1998), Ramey
and Shapiro (1998) and Edelberg, Eichenbaum and Fisher (2004) for discussions
of alternative approaches.
To estimate the impact of exogenous movements in government purchases,
Gt, capital and labor income tax rates, τ kt and τ nt, on the economy, we use the
following procedure. Suppose that Gt, τ kt and τ nt are elements of the vector
stochastic process Zt. Define the three dummy variables Dit, i = 1, 2, 3, where
Dit = ? 1, if t = di
0, otherwise
and di denotes the ith element of
d = ? 1950:3 1965:1 1980:1 ?0 .
We assume that Zt evolves according to:
Zt = A0 + A1t + A2(t ≥ 1973 : 2) + A3(L)Zt−1 +
3 Xi=1
A4(L)ψiDit + ut, (2.1)
where Eut = 0,
Eutu0t−s = ? 0, for all s 6= 0
Σ, for s = 0,
Σ is a positive definite matrix of dimension equal to the number of elements in
Zt, t denotes time, and Aj(L), j = 3, 4 are finite ordered vector polynomials
in nonnegative powers of the lag operator L. As in Ramey and Shapiro (1998)
we allow for a trend break in 1973:2.1 A consistent estimate of the response
of Zit+k, the ith element of Z at time t + k, to the onset of the ith Ramey-
Shapiro episode is given by an estimate of the coefficient on Lk in the expansion
of ψi [I − A3(L)L]−1 A4(L).
The ψi in (2.1) are scalars with ψ1 normalized to unity. The parameters ψ2 and
ψ3 measure the intensity of the second and third Ramey-Shapiro episodes relative
to the first. Based on the observed changes in government purchases, we set ψ2
and ψ3 to 0.30 and 0.10, respectively. These weights were obtained by comparing
the percentage peak rise after the onset of the Vietnam and the Carter-Reagan
defense buildup episodes to the analog rise after the Korea episode. Relation (2.1)
implies that while the fiscal episodes may differ in intensity, their dynamic effects
are the same, up to a scale factor, ψi. While arguable, this assumption is consistent
with the maintained assumptions in Ramey and Shapiro (1998), Burnside,
Eichenbaum and Fisher (2004) and Edelberg, Eichenbaum and Fisher (1999).
It is also consistent with the assumptions in Rotemberg and Woodford (1992)
who identify an exogenous shock to government purchases with the innovation
1In practice we found that our results were robust to not allowing for a break in trend, i.e.
to setting A2 = 0.
to defense purchases estimated from a linear time invariant vector autoregressive
representation of the data.
Our specification of Zt includes the log of time t per-capita real GDP, the log
of per-capita real government consumption, average capital and labor income tax
rates, the real interest rate and the nominal government surplus to GDP ratio.
Our measure of the government surplus is the consolidated federal, state and
local budget surplus' of revenues over expenditure, inclusive of interest payments.
Below, we also consider the primary surplus to GDP ratio.2 The real interest is
the interest rate associated with Moody's Baa corporate bonds that have average
maturity of roughly 20 years minus the consumer price index inflation rate over
the previous year. We assume that Zt depends on six lagged values of itself, i.e.
A3(L) is a sixth order polynomial in L. This lag length was chosen using the
modified likelihood ratio test described in Sims (1980). All estimates are based on
quarterly data from 1947:1 to 2001:2. Note that we purposefully do not include
the data containing 9/11 and its aftermath in this stage of our empirical work.
The Appendix describes the data used in our analysis.
2.2. Empirical Results
In this subsection we present the results of implementing the procedure discussed
2.2.1. The Data
Figure 1 displays the data used in our analysis. Column 1 displays the log of
real military spending, real government consumption and our measure of the real
interest rate. In all cases we include vertical lines at the dates of Ramey-Shapiro
episodes and 2001:3 which encompasses 9/11. Notice that the time series on real
2The response of both surplus to GDP ratio measures to a Ramey - Shapiro epsiode is very
defense expenditures is dominated by three events: the large increases in real
defense expenditures associated with the Korean war, the Vietnam war, and the
Carter-Reagan defense buildup. The Ramey-Shapiro dates essentially mark the
beginning of these episodes. There also appears to be a significant buildup in
real defense expenditures around the period of 9/11. In our economic model, it
is total government consumption, rather than military purchases that is relevant.
As Figure 1 reveals, the Ramey-Shapiro and 9/11 episodes also coincide with rises
in real government consumption. For completeness, Figure 2 displays the data on
the ratio of government consumption to GDP. Notice that ratio rises significantly
in the four episodes of concern.
Turning to the real interest rate, two interesting features are worth noting.
First the real interest rate is consistently higher in the post-1980 period than in
the pre-1980 period. Second, there is not a consistent pattern of a rise in the
real interest rate in the immediate aftermath of the four episodes of exogenous
increases in military spending.
Column 2 displays our measures of labor and capital tax rates as well as the
ratio of nominal primary (dashed line) and total (solid line) government fiscal
surpluses to nominal GDP. Tax rates were constructed using quarterly data from
the national income and products accounts and the method employed by Jones
(2002).3 Note that labor tax rates rise substantially after all three Ramey-Shapiro
dates while capital tax rates rise after the first two episodes. In contrast to the
Ramey - Shapiro episodes, tax rates fall sharply around the 9/11 episode.
Turning to the surplus to GDP ratio, two features are worth noting. Unlike
the Ramey-Shapiro episodes, there is a sharp decline in this ratio in the immediate
aftermath of 9/11. In addition, the real interest rate and the surplus-GDP ratio
3See Burnside, Eichenbaum and Fisher (2004) for a discussion of how these tax rates were
computed and how they relate to other measures used in the literature.
are negatively correlated, with a correlation coefficient of −0.53. While certainly of
interest, this last correlation does not bear directly on the Ricardian Equivalence
hypothesis which, among other things, pertains to the response of real interest
interest to a rise in the surplus, holding government consumption constant.
2.2.2. The Dynamic Response of the Economy to A Fiscal Shock
Recall that we normalize the first episode (Korea) to be of unit intensity and we
set the intensities of the second and third episodes to 0.30 and 0.10, respectively.
Below we report the dynamic response function of various aggregates to an episode
of unit intensity. This simply scales the size of the impulse response functions. In
interpreting these results it is important to recall that we do not include the 9/11
episode in estimating the response of the economy to a fiscal shock.
Elsewhere we have documented the response of private sector aggregates to
the onset of a Ramey - Shapiro episode.4 Here we focus on aggregate output as
a simple summary measure of overall economic activity. In addition we examine
the behavior of the real interest rate since this plays a potentially important role
in determining the size of the overall government surplus.
The first row of Figure 3 reports the dynamic responses of real government
consumption and output to a fiscal shock.5 The solid lines display point estimates
while the dashed lines correspond to 95% confidence interval bands.6 As can be
4See Ramey and Shapiro (1998), Edelberg Eichenbaum and Fisher (1999) and Burnside,
Eichenbaum and Fisher (2003).
5The impulse response functions for output and government consumption are reported as
percentage deviations from a variable's unshocked path. The response functions of labor and
capital tax rates, the real interest rate and the Surplus-GDP ratio are reported as deviations
from their unshocked levels, measured in percentage points.
6These were computed using the bootstrap Monte Carlo procedure described in Edelberg,
Eichenbaum and Fisher (1999). The Monte Carlo methods that we used to quantify the importance
of sampling uncertainty do not convey any information about `date' uncertainty. This
is because they take as given the Ramey and Shapiro dates. One simple way to assess the
importance of date uncertainty is to redo the analysis perturbing the Ramey and Shapiro dates.
seen, the onset of a Ramey-Shapiro episode leads to large, persistent, hump-shaped
rises in government consumption and output. Table 1 summarizes the `multiplier'
effect on output of a fiscal shock. Specifically, we calculate the cumulative change
in output divided by the cumulative change in government consumption at various
horizons. This multiplier is highest at the end of year one and declines thereafter.
In sharp contrast to simple textbook Keynesian models, the multiplier is much
less than one.
Table 1. The Fiscal Multiplier
First Year Second Year Third Year Fourth Year
0.61 0.28 0.21 0.19
Rows 2 and 3 in the first column of Figure 3 display the dynamic response of
capital and labor tax rates to a fiscal policy shock. Four results are worth noting.
First, the labor tax rate rises in a hump-shaped pattern, mirroring the dynamic
response of government purchases, with the peak occurring about two years after
the onset of a Ramey-Shapiro episode. Second, the maximal rise in the labor tax
rate is 2.71 percentage points after nine quarters. This represents a 25 percent
increase in the tax rate relative to its value in 1949. Third, the capital tax rate
also rises in a hump-shaped manner, but the maximal rise occurs before the peak
rises in government purchases and labor tax rates. Fourth, the rise in the capital
tax rates is large, with the maximal rise of 6.83 percentage points occurring after
three quarters.
The second and third rows of the second column of Figure 3 report the responses
of the real interest rate and the surplus to GDP ratio. Notice that the
real interest rate falls while the surplus to GDP rises in the immediate aftermath
Edelberg, Eichenbaum and Fisher (1999) document the robustness of inferences under the assumption
that the different episodes are of equal intensity.
of Ramey Shapiro episode. After 3 quarters, the real interest rate begins to rise
and the surplus to GDP ratio begins to fall. The behavior of the surplus to
GDP ratio reflects that (i) capital tax rates peak prior to the peak in government
consumption and then begin to decline, and (ii) labor tax rates rise along with
government consumption. This pattern of tax rates leads to the result that the
surplus first rises and then, only with a lag, begins to decline.
We now present an alternative way to assess the historical impact of the Ramey
Shapiro fiscal episodes on the economy. Specifically, we used the estimated version
of (2.1) to generate forecasts of Zt conditional on the occurrence of a fiscal shock,
given the state of the economy at the time that the shock occurs. The forecasts for
the impact of the Korean, Vietnam and Carter-Reagan episodes correspond to the
long dashed lines in Figures 4, 5 and 6. These correspond to what the estimated
model says Zt would have been given the fiscal shocks in question, absent any
additional shocks. The short dashed lines in these figures are the forecasts values
of Zt assuming that no shock, fiscal or otherwise, occurred, given the state of the
economy at the time of relevant Ramey- Shapiro episode or afterwards. The solid
lines correspond to the actual values of Zt.
According to Figure 4, given the state of the economy, the fiscal shock associated
with the Korean episode accounts for much of the actual movement in tax
rates, the real interest rate and the surplus to GDP ratio for the first few years
after 1950:3. From the perspective of our statistical model, this is equivalent to
saying that other shocks played only a minor role during this time period. This
is less so for the period after the Vietnam War (Figure 5) and much less so for
the period after the invasion of Afghanistan (Figure 6). For example, the fiscal
shock does little to explain the sharp rise and subsequent fall in the labor tax
during the period 1980 to 1983. It also does not explain the initial rise and subsequent
steep declines in capital tax rates during the Carter - Reagan episode.
This is not a statement that the model is incorrectly specified. It simply says that
other important shocks occurred in the aftermath of the last two Ramey - Shapiro
2.2.3. How Unusual is Post-9/11 Fiscal Policy?
In this subsection we address the question: Is fiscal policy in the aftermath of
9/11 well explained as the normal response of the economy to large exogenous
shocks to government military expenditures? To be clear, by `normal' we mean
our estimates of the response of fiscal policy to the onset of a Ramey - Shapiro
episode. To address this question we proceed as follows. First, we assume that, in
terms of the rise in government consumption, the 9/11 episode is 10% as intense
(in the sense defined above), as the Korean episode. Second, we use the estimated
version of (2.1) to generate forecasts of Zt conditional on the occurrence of a fiscal
shock in 2001:3, given the state of the economy as of 2001:2. This forecast assumes
that fiscal policy responds to 9/11 in the same way that it did in the other three
Ramey - Shapiro episodes. Figure 7 reports the forecasts generated under this
assumption (the long dashed line). As before the solid line displays the realized
values of Zt. The short dashed line denotes the forecasts of Zt given the state of
the economy as of 2001:2, but assuming there was not a fiscal shock in 2001:3.
As can be seen, the general rise in government consumption is well explained
by the 9/11 shock. So is the rise in output although there is clear evidence of
another shock which drove output down in 2002. Other things equal, the decline
in output would reduce tax revenues and the government surplus. The behavior of
the other variables in Zt is substantially less well explained by the 9/11 shock. For
example, the declines in average capital and labor tax rates are much larger than
our conditional forecast. Perhaps even more striking is the difference between
the actual and predicted values of the surplus to GDP ratio. The statistical
model predicts that, had the government responded to 9/11 as it did to the other
Ramey Shapiro shocks, then absent other shocks, the surplus would initially have
risen and then slowly declined to the point where the consolidated budget was
essentially balanced. In fact, the surplus suffered a sharp, ongoing decline. This
reflects that (i) tax rates fell much more sharply than anticipated and (ii) output
grew less quickly
3. The Impact of Alternative Tax Policies
In this section we consider the question: How would have aggregate output and
the surplus responded to the post-9/11 rise in government consumption had the
government pursued alternative tax policies? We cannot answer this question using
purely statistical models of the sort discussed above because the experiments
we wish to contemplate amount to a change in policy. Standard Lucas critique
reasoning says we can only conduct this type of experiment in an economic model.
Burnside, Eichenbaum and Fisher (2004) argue that a particular neoclassical business
cycle model does a good job of accounting for the quantitative impact of a
Ramey-Shapiro episode on aggregate hours worked, after tax real wages, consumption
and investment. So that model provides a useful `laboratory' within which to
examine the impact of alternative fiscal policies. In this section we describe this
model and use it to address our question.
3.1. A Simple Neoclassical Model
In this subsection we discussion the neoclassical model in Burnside, Eichenbaum
and Fisher (2004) that allows for habit formation and adjustment costs in investment.
The latter two perturbations do not affect the qualitative properties of the
model but they improve the model's ability to account for the quantitative affects
of a fiscal shock.
A representative household ranks alternative streams of consumption and
hours worked according to
∞ Xt=0
βt [log(C∗t ) + ηV (1 − nt)] , (3.1)
C∗t = Ct − bCt−1, b≥ 0 (3.2)
V (1 − nt) = ? 1
1−?(1 − nt)1−?, ?≥ 0
ln(1 − nt), ?= 1
. (3.3)
Here E0 is the time 0 conditional expectations operator, β is a subjective discount
factor between 0 and 1, while Ct and nt denote time t consumption and the fraction
of the household's time endowment devoted to work, respectively. When b > 0,
(3.1) allows for habit formation in consumption. Given (3.3), the representative
household's Frisch elasticity of labor supply, evaluated at the steady state level of
hours, n, is equal to (1 − n)/(n?).
The household owns the stock of capital, whose value at the beginning of time t
we denote by Kt. As in Christiano, Eichenbaum and Evans (2001) and Christiano
and Fisher (2003) capital evolves according to according to
Kt+1 = (1 − δ)Kt + F(It, It−1) (3.4)
F(It, It−1) = (1 − S ? It
It−1?)It. (3.5)
The functional form for F in (3.5) penalizes changes in It. Many authors in the
literature adopt specifications which penalize the level of investment. Christiano,
Eichenbaum and Evans (2001) argue that it is difficult to generate hump shaped
responses of investment to shocks with the latter specification. In contrast, hump
shaped responses of investment emerge naturally with specification (3.5). Christiano
and Fisher (2003) argue that these adjustment costs are useful for understanding
the dynamics of stock market and investment good prices.
We restrict the function, S, to satisfy the following properties: S(1) = S0(1) =
0, and s ≡ S00(1) > 0. Under our assumptions, in a nonstochastic steady state
F1 = 1, F2 = 0. The steady state values of the variables are not a function of the
adjustment cost parameter, s. Of course, the dynamics of the model are influenced
by s. When s = 0 the model is equivalent to one without adjustment costs. Given
our solution procedure no other features of the S function need to be specified.
The household rents out capital and supplies labor in perfectly competitive
spot factor markets. We denote the real wage rate per unit of labor by wt and
the real rental rate on capital by rt. The government taxes rental income net of
depreciation, and wage income at the rates τ kt and τ nt, respectively. Consequently,
after-tax real wage and rental rate on capital are given by (1 − τ nt)Wt and (1 −
τ kt)rt + δτ kt, respectively. Therefore, the household's time t budget constraint is
given by
Ct + It ≤ (1 − τ nt)Wtnt + (1 − τ kt)rtKt + δτ ktKt − Φt (3.6)
where Φt denotes lump sum taxes paid by the household.
A perfectly competitive firm produces output, Yt, according to
Yt ≤ Kα
t nt
1−α, 0 < α < 1. (3.7)
The firm sells its output in a perfectly competitive goods market and rents labor
and capital in perfectly competitive spot markets.
The government purchases Gt units of output at time t. For simplicity we
assume the government balances its budget every period. Government purchases
are financed by capital taxes, labor taxes and lump sum taxes, Φt. Consequently
the government's budget constraint is given by
Gt = τ ntWtnt + τ kt(rt − δ)Kt + Φt.
Given our assumptions, Ricardian equivalence holds with respect to the timing of
lump sum taxes.7 So we could allow the government to borrow part or all of the
difference between its expenditures and revenues raised from distortionary taxes,
subject to its intertemporal budget constraint, and it would not affect our results.
The vector ft = [log(Gt), τ kt, τ nt]0 evolves according to
ft = f + hf (L)εt. (3.8)
Here εt is a zero mean, iid scalar random variable that is orthogonal to all model
variables dated time t − 1 and earlier. In addition hf (L) = [h1(L), h2(L), h3(L)]0
where hi(L), i = 1, 2, 3 is a qth ordered polynomial in nonnegative powers of the lag
operator L, and f denotes the steady state value of ft. Note that εt is common to
both government spending and taxes. This formalizes the notion that government
spending and taxes respond simultaneously to a common fiscal shock.
The problem of the representative household is to maximize (3.1) subject to
(3.6), (3.3), (3.4), (3.5), (3.2), (3.8) and a given stochastic process for wage and
rental rates. The maximization is by choice of contingency plans for {Ct,Kt+1,nt}
over the elements of the household's time t information set that includes all model
variables dated time t and earlier.
The firm's problem is to maximize time t profits. Its first order conditions
Wt = (1 − α) (Kt/nt)α and rt = α (nt/Kt)1−α .
We use the log-linearization procedure described by Christiano (1998) to solve
for the competitive equilibrium of this economy. To conserve on notation we ab-
7This assumes the absence of distortionary taxes on government debt.
stracted from growth when presenting our model. However we do allow for growth
when calibrating the model. Specifically we assume that total factor productivity
grows at the constant growth rate γ, so that production is given by Yt = γtKα
t n1−α
t .
This model of growth is inconsistent with the way we treated growth in section
2 where we assume a trend break in 1973:2. To understand the nature of the
approximation involved, note that Christiano's solution procedure involves taking
a log linear approximation about the model's steady state. Suppose that the break
in trend is unanticipated and the model has converged to its stochastic steady
state by the time of the third Ramey Shapiro episode. One way to implement
Christiano's procedure is to compute two log linear equilibrium laws of motion
for the model corresponding to the pre- and post-1973:2 periods. The difference
between the two is that the log linear approximation is computed about two
different steady states of the model corresponding to the pre- and post-1973:2
growth rate of technology. We approximate this procedure by computing one law
of motion around the steady state of the model assuming a growth rate of output,
γ = 1.005. This is equal to the average growth rate of output over the whole
sample period.
3.2. Calibration
In this subsection we briefly describe how we calibrated the model's parameter
values. We assume that a time period in the model corresponds to one quarter
and set β = 1.03−1/4. The parameter η was set to imply that in nonstochastic
steady state the representative consumer spends 24% of his time endowment
working (see, for example, Christiano and Eichenbaum (1992). To evaluate the
dependence of the model's implications on the Frisch labor supply elasticity we
consider three values for ?. The first, ? = 0, corresponds to the Hansen-Rogerson
infinite elasticity case. The second, ? = 1, implies the utility function for leisure is
logarithmic. Combined with our assumption that the representative agent spends
24 percent of his time endowment working, this value corresponds to a Frisch
labor supply elasticity of 3.16. Finally, we consider ? = 10, which corresponds
to a Frisch labor supply elasticity of 0.33, which is similar to the low elasticities
often obtained using microeconomic data. The rate of depreciation on capital δ
was set to 0.021 while α was set to 0.34 (see Christiano and Eichenbaum 1992).
We also set b = 0.8 and s = 2.0. This value of b is close to values used in the
literature (see for example Boldrin, Christiano and Fisher (2001). The value of
s is close to the value estimated by Christiano, Eichenbaum and Evans (2001).
They show that 1/s is the elasticity of investment with respect to a one percent
temporary increase in the price of installed capital. So a value of s equal to two
implies this this elasticity is equal to 0.5. We chose this value because it leads to
a better performance of the model (see Burnside, Eichenbaum and Fisher 2004).
3.3. Accounting for a Ramey-Shapiro Episode
As mentioned above, Burnside, Eichenbaum and Fisher (2004) analyze the ability
of the model to account for the response of hours worked, the after tax real
wage rate, consumption and investment to a Ramey-Shapiro episode. They argue
that the model does well from both a qualitative and a quantitative perspective in
accounting for the dynamics of these variables. Here we briefly discuss the model's
performance with respect to output, the real interest rate and the primary surplus
to GDP ratio to the onset of a Ramey-Shapiro episode. For this exercise we specify
hi(L), i = 1, 2, 3 to correspond to the estimated response of total government
consumption, the capital income tax rate and the labor income tax rate at t + j
to the onset of a Ramey-Shapiro episode at time t.8
Figure 8 displays the dynamic response of output, the real interest rate and the
8In practice we use 50 coefficients in h1(L) and 16 coefficients in h2(L) and h3(L).
surplus to GDP ratio, to a fiscal shock of unit intensity, i.e. a shock correpsonding
to the intensity of the Korean epsiode. Columns 1, 2 and 3 three report results
for ? = {0, 1, 10}, i.e. high, medium and low Frisch labor supply elasticities. In
all cases, the long dashed lines correspond to the model based impulse response
functions. The solid lines are our empirical estimates of the impulse response
functions of output, the real interest rate and the primary surplus. The lines
with the small dashes are 95% confidence intervals around the empirical point
Notice that for all values of ?, the model generates a prolonged rise in output in
response to a positive fiscal policy shock that is within the 95% confidence intervals
of our point estimates. The rise in output reflects the fact that an increase in Gt
raises the present value of the household's taxes and lowers its permanent income.
Since leisure is a normal good, equilibrium hours worked rises. Notice that the
rise in output is largest when labor supply is the most elastic. The basic intuition
for this result is as follows. The larger is ? the more the household wishes to
smooth hours worked. Since hours worked do not change in steady state, as ?
becomes larger, the household finds it optimal to respond to a rise in the present
value of its taxes by reducing private consumption by relatively more and varying
hours worked less.
Not surprisingly, the model does much less well with respect to the real interest
rate. In the model agents' have a strong desire to smooth consumption service
flows. This in turn implies that the real rate moves very little. So this model, like
most neoclassical models, does poorly at matching movements in asset prices.
Now we consider the response of the surplus to GDP ratio. Our model based
measure is the difference between government revenues from distortionary taxes
minus government purchases. It is important to emphasize that our model allows
for lump sum taxation, something clearly at variance with institutional reality. So
we have much more confidence in the model's qualitative predictions rather than
its quantitative predictions for the surplus. That being said, Figure 7 indicates
that all versions of the model succeed in reproducing the qualitative response of
the surplus to GDP ratio, generating an initial rise followed by a fall. Since the
initial rise in output is most pronounced when ? = 0, this version of the model
does the best job of accounting for the initial rise in the surplus. All versions of
the model do a reasonable job of accounting for the quantitative fall in the surplus
to GDP ratio.
3.4. Alternative Tax Policies
Here we consider the model's implications for three alternative tax responses to
9/11 which correspond to three specifications for the jth coefficient in the expansion
of hi(L), i = 1, 2, 3. In the first, which we refer to as the normal specification,
these coefficients are given by 0.10 times the estimated response of real government
purchases, the capital income tax rate and the labor income tax rate at
t + j to the onset of a Ramey-Shapiro episode at time t. This corresponds to our
assumption that the 9/11 shock is 0.10 as `intense' (from an economic point of
view) as the Korean episode.9 In the second case, which we refer to as the no tax
change specification, we retain the specification of h1(L) from the normal specifi-
cation, but set the coefficients in h2(L) and h3(L) equal to zero. This means that
tax rates do not respond to the fiscal shock and remain fixed at their pre-9/11
level. Finally, in the third case, which we refer to as the lower tax specification, we
retain the specification of h1(L) from the normal specification, but reduce average
labor and capital taxes taxes by four percentage points in a very persistent way.10
This roughly corresponds to the actual decline in average taxes between 2001:2
9In practice we use 50 coefficients in h1(L), h2(L) and h3(L).
10Specifically, we assume that tax rates rise after the initial shock by 0.001 percent each year.
and 2003:3 shown in Figures 1 and 6.
Columns 1, 2 and 3 of Figure 9 report our results for the three specifications.11
Throughout the solid line, the dashed line and the dotted line correspond to the
response of the model in the high, medium and low elasticity labor supply case,
respectively. Not surprisingly, the response of output to the increase in government
consumption is inversely related to the response of taxes. For example, the peak
rise in output in the normal specification when ? = 1, is roughly 0.29, whereas
it is 0.42 in the no tax change specification. Indeed a close to permanent drop
in taxes generates an enormous rise in output. Even in the low labor supply
specification, ? = 10, the fiscal shock generates a highly persistent rise in output
that approaches of 1.6% after 4 years.
The normal specification implies that a fiscal shock is associated with a small
rise in the surplus to GDP ratio followed by a persistent but small decline. The
surplus to GDP ratio responds in a similar way under the no tax change specifi-
cation. Finally, consistent with the actual post-9/11 data, the lower tax change
specification implies that the surplus to GDP ratio declines immediately and stays
well below its pre-shock level for an extended period of time. To the extent that
the tax cuts are viewed as highly persistent, this result provides a formal interpretation
of the view that the large drop in the surplus to GDP ratio following
9/11 is due to an atypical reduction in tax rates after a large increase in military
Of course, it is difficult to know whether the tax cuts will turn out to be
permanent or whether agents perceived them as such. To assess the robustness of
our results, we considered the model's implications for a temporary tax cut. This
specification is identical to the lower tax specification except we assume that tax
11Because the intensity of the shock is 0.10, the impulse response functions correspoding to
the normal specification in Figure 9 are one-tenth the size of the corresponding impulse response
functions in Figure 8
rates return to their pre-shock levels after three years. Interestingly, in results
not displayed, we find that the responses of output and the surplus to GDP ratio
in the two tax cut cases are very similar over the first three years. Thereafter,
the responses differ substantially. In the temporary tax cut case, after year three,
output starts declining to its pre-shock level. In contrast, in the permanent tax
cut case, output remains persistently high (see Figure 9). In the temporary tax
cut case, after year three, the surplus to GDP very quickly reverts to its preshock
value. But, in the permanent tax cut case, that ratio remains very low for
an extended period of time (again, see Figure 9). We infer that, at least in our
model, the basic effects of a cut in tax rates do not depend sensitively on how
permanent the cuts are. A cut in tax rates lead to a rise in output and a fall in
the surplus to GDP ratio, for as long as the tax cuts are in effect.
We conclude by considering the relative contributions of the rise in government
purchases and the cut in tax rates to the fall in the surplus to GDP ratio that
occurs in the lower tax specification. Taking as given the rise in government
purchases and output that occurs in that specification, we calculated the dynamic
response of the surplus to GDP ratio assuming that tax rates stayed at their preshock
steady state levels. Figure 10 displays our results in the high, medium and
low elasticity labor supply cases, corresponding to the solid, dashed and dotted
lines, respectively. Note that in the first two cases, the surplus to GDP ratio
actually rises after the increase in government purchases. This reflects the large
rise in output, and tax revenues, when labor supply is relatively elastic. In the
low labor supply elasticity case, the rise in government consumption leads, after
a brief delay, to a decline in the surplus to GDP ratio. But this decline is very
small (roughly 0.5 percentage points) compared to the decline of 3.5% percentage
points that occurs under the lower tax specification. This adds further support
to our claim that the primary factor driving the post-9/11 decline in the surplus
to GDP ratio was the cut in tax rates.
4. Conclusion
In this paper we argued that fiscal policy in the aftermath of 9/11 is not well
explained as the normal response of the U.S. economy to a large exogenous increase
in government consumption. It is difficult to explain the dramatic fall in the
government surplus and the large fall in labor and capital tax rates as reflecting
either the state of the U.S. economy as of 9/11 or as the typical response of fiscal
policy to a large exogenous rise in military expenditures.
We also addressed the question of how aggregate output and the surplus to
GDP ratio would have responded to the post-9/11 rise in government consumption
had the government pursued alternative tax policies. Using the model developed
in Burnside, Eichenbaum and Fisher (2004), we argued that, had government tax
policy responded to 9/11 in the same the way that it responded to other large
exogenous increases in military spending, 9/11 would have been associated with
a small change in aggregate output and the surplus to GDP ratio. Our model
also implies that, given the same path of government spending, a cut in tax rates
similar to those actually observed in the aftermath of 9/11, would have resulted in
a sharp, persistent decline in the government surplus to GDP ratio and a relatively
large rise in aggregate output. This provides additional evidence in favor of the
view that the recent sharp drop in the surplus to GDP ratio reflects ongoing tax
policy developments that are atypical relative to post-WWII U.S. experience after
a large increase in military spending.
We conclude by emphasizing that our results do not bear on the question of
whether the decline in tax rates and the decline in the surplus after 9/11 were
desirable or not.
Data Appendix
All data series are seasonally adjusted except for the population and the real interest
rate. Output is GDP (Haver mnemonic GDPH). Defense spending includes
both consumption and investment spending (GFDH). Government consumption is
defense spending plus Federal, State and Local consumption expenditures (chain
weighted sum of GFDH, GFNEH and GSEH). All real series are in units of 1996
chain-weighted dollars. The surplus is the ratio of the consolidated Federal, State
and Local surplus as measured in the National Income and Product Accounts
(GBAL). The real interest rate is the difference between the Moody's BAA composite
bond rate (FBAA) and consumer price index inflation over the prior four
quarters (CPIU). Our measure of the poplulation is the civilian working age population
[1] Blanchard, O. and R. Perotti, An Empirical Characterization of the Dynamic
Effects of Changes in Government Spending and Taxes on Output, Working
paper, MIT, 1998.
[2] Boldrin, Christiano and Fisher, 2001, Habit Persistence, Asset Returns and
the Business Cycle, American Economic Review 91 (2001), 149 - 166.
[3] Burnside, C., M. Eichenbaum and J.D.M. Fisher (2004), Fiscal Shocks and
Their Consequences, Journal of Economic Theory, Volume 115, Issue 1, Pages
[4] Card, D., Intertemporal Labor Supply: An Assessment, NBER Working Paper
No. 3602, 1991.
[5] Christiano, L.J., Solving Dynamic Equilibrium Models by a Method of Undetermined
Coefficients, NBER Technical Working Paper, No. 225, 1998.
[6] Christiano, L.J. and M. Eichenbaum, Current Real Business Cycle Theories
and Aggregate Labor Market Fluctuations, American Economic Review 82
(1992), 430--50.
[7] Christiano, L.J., M. Eichenbaum and C. Evans, Nominal Rigidities and the
Dynamic Effects of a Shock to Monetary Policy, (2001), forthcoming, Journal
of Political Economy.
[8] Christiano, L.J. and J.D.M. Fisher, Stock Market and Investment Good
Prices: Implications for Macroeconomics, NBER working paper no. 10031.
[9] Edelberg, W., M. Eichenbaum and J. Fisher, Understanding the Effects of
Shocks to Government Purchases." Review of Economics Dynamics 2 (1999),
[10] Hansen, G., Indivisible Labor and the Business Cycle, Journal of Monetary
Economics 16 (1985), 309--28.
[11] Jones, J.B., Has Fiscal Policy Helped Stabilize the Postwar U.S. Economy?,
Journal of Monetary Economics, 49 (2002), 709 - 746.
[12] Pencavel, J., Labor Supply of Men: A Survey. In Ashenfelter, O. and R.
Layard, eds. Handbook of Labor Economics. Volume 1. Amsterdam: North-
Holland, 1986, 3--102.
[13] Ramey, V. and M.D. Shapiro, Costly Capital Reallocation and the Effects
of Government Spending, Carnegie Rochester Conference Series on Public
Policy 48 (1998), 145--94.
[14] Rogerson, R., Indivisible Labor, Lotteries and Equilibrium, Journal of Monetary
Economics 21 (1998), 3--16.
[15] Rotemberg, J. and M. Woodford, Oligopolistic Pricing and the Effects of
Aggregate Demand on Economic Activity, Journal of Political Economy 100
(1992), 1153--297.
[16] Sims, C. Macroeconomics and Reality, Econometrica 48 (1980), 1--48.
Real Defense Spending
1947 1952 1957 1962 1967 1972 1977 1982 1987 1992 1997 2002
4.8 5.0 5.2 5.4 5.6 5.8 6.0 6.2
Per Capita Government Consumption (Incl. Defense)
1947 1952 1957 1962 1967 1972 1977 1982 1987 1992 1997 2002
-5.92 -5.76 -5.60 -5.44 -5.28 -5.12 -4.96
Real Interest Rate
1947 1952 1957 1962 1967 1972 1977 1982 1987 1992 1997 2002
-0.15 -0.10 -0.05 0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15
Average Capital Tax
1947 1952 1957 1962 1967 1972 1977 1982 1987 1992 1997 2002
0.30 0.35 0.40 0.45 0.50 0.55
Average Labor Tax
1947 1952 1957 1962 1967 1972 1977 1982 1987 1992 1997 2002
0.075 0.100 0.125 0.150 0.175 0.200 0.225 0.250 0.275
Surplus and Primary Surplus / GDP
1947 1952 1957 1962 1967 1972 1977 1982 1987 1992 1997 2002
-0.075 -0.050 -0.025 0.000 0.025 0.050 0.075
Figure 1: Data Used in the Analysis
Vertical Lines - Ramey-Shapiro Dates and 9/11
1947 1953 1959 1965 1971 1977 1983 1989 1995 2001
0.125 0.150 0.175 0.200 0.225
Figure 2: Government Consumption as a Fraction of GDP
Vertical Lines - Ramey-Shapiro Dates and 9/11
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
-4 -2 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14
Average Capital Tax
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
-6 -4 -2 0 2 4 6 8 10 12
Average Labor Tax
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
-1.2 -0.6 0.0 0.6 1.2 1.8 2.4 3.0 3.6 4.2
Government Consumption
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
-10 0 10 20 30 4050
Real Interest Rate
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
-7.5 -5.0 -2.5 0.0 2.5 5.0 7.5
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
-6 -4 -2 0 2 4 6
Figure 3: Estimated Responses to Pre-9/11 Episode
Solid Line - Point Estimates, Dashed Lines - 95% Confidence Interval
Government Consumption
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
-5.84 -5.76 -5.68 -5.60 -5.52 -5.44 -5.36 -5.28 -5.20 -5.12
Average Capital Tax
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
0.400 0.425 0.450 0.475 0.500 0.525 0.550
Average Labor Tax
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
0.100 0.105 0.110 0.115 0.120 0.125 0.130 0.135 0.140
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
-4.150 -4.125 -4.100 -4.075 -4.050 -4.025 -4.000 -3.975
Real Interest Rate
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
-0.064 -0.048 -0.032 -0.016 0.000 0.016 0.032 0.048
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
0.000 0.008 0.016 0.024 0.032 0.040 0.048 0.056 0.064
Figure 4: Historical Decomposition of the Korean War Episode
Solid Line - Actual Data, Long Dashed Line - Forecast With Ramey-Shapiro Episode,

Short Dashed Line - Forecast Without Ramey-Shapiro Episode
Government Consumption
1965 1966 1967 1968
-5.275 -5.250 -5.225 -5.200 -5.175 -5.150 -5.125 -5.100 -5.075 -5.050
Average Capital Tax
1965 1966 1967 1968
0.38 0.39 0.40 0.41 0.42 0.43 0.44 0.45
Average Labor Tax
1965 1966 1967 1968
0.14 0.15 0.16 0.17 0.18 0.19 0.20
1965 1966 1967 1968
-3.78 -3.76 -3.74 -3.72 -3.70 -3.68 -3.66 -3.64 -3.62
Real Interest Rate
1965 1966 1967 1968
0.012 0.018 0.024 0.030 0.036 0.042
1965 1966 1967 1968
-0.005 0.000 0.005 0.010 0.015 0.020 0.025
Figure 5: Historical Decomposition of Vietnam War Episode
Solid Line - Actual Data, Long Dashed Line - Forecast With Ramey-Shapiro Episode,

Short Dashed Line - Forecast Without Ramey-Shapiro Episode
Government Consumption
1980 1981 1982 1983
-5.232 -5.224 -5.216 -5.208 -5.200 -5.192 -5.184 -5.176 -5.168 -5.160
Average Capital Tax
1980 1981 1982 1983
0.342 0.351 0.360 0.369 0.378 0.387 0.396 0.405
Average Labor Tax
1980 1981 1982 1983
0.216 0.218 0.220 0.222 0.224 0.226 0.228 0.230 0.232 0.234
1980 1981 1982 1983
-3.575 -3.550 -3.525 -3.500 -3.475
Real Interest Rate
1980 1981 1982 1983
-0.02 0.00 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08 0.10 0.12
1980 1981 1982 1983
-0.0600000 -0.0500000 -0.0400000 -0.0300000 -0.0200000 -0.0100000 0.0000000
Figure 6: Historical Decomposition of Carter-Reagan Buildup Episode
Solid Line - Actual Data, Long Dashed Line - Forecast With Ramey-Shapiro Episode,

Short Dashed Line - Forecast Without Ramey-Shapiro Episode
Government Consumption
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
-5.06 -5.05 -5.04 -5.03-5.02 -5.01 -5.00 -4.99 -4.98 -4.97
Average Capital Tax
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
0.32 0.33 0.34 0.35 0.36 0.37 0.38
Average Labor Tax
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
0.21 0.22 0.23 0.24 0.25 0.260.27
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
-3.16 -3.15 -3.14 -3.13 -3.12 -3.11 -3.10 -3.09 -3.08
Real Interest Rate
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
0.036 0.042 0.048 0.054 0.0600.066 0.072 0.078 0.084
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
-0.042 -0.036 -0.030 -0.024 -0.018 -0.012 -0.006 -0.000 0.006 0.012
Figure 7: Predicted and Actual Dynamics in the Aftermath of 9/11
Solid Line - Actual Data, Long Dashed Line - Forecast Assuming Ramey-Shapiro Episode,

Short Dashed Line - Forecast Without Ramey-Shapiro Episode
High Elasticity Medium Elasticity Low Elasticity
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
-5.0 -2.5 0.0 2.5 5.0 7.5 10.0 12.5 15.0
Real Interest Rate
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
-7.5 -5.0 -2.5 0.0 2.5 5.0 7.5 10.0
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
-8 -6 -4 -2 0 2 4 6
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
-5.0 -2.5 0.0 2.5 5.0 7.5 10.0 12.5 15.0
Real Interest Rate
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
-7.5 -5.0 -2.5 0.0 2.5 5.0 7.5 10.0
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
-8 -6 -4 -2 0 2 4 6
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
-5.0 -2.5 0.0 2.5 5.0 7.5 10.0 12.5 15.0
Real Interest Rate
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
-7.5 -5.0 -2.5 0.0 2.5 5.0 7.5 10.0
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
-8 -6 -4 -2 0 2 4 6
Figure 8: Theoretical Response to Pre-9/11 Ramey-Shapiro Episode
Solid Line - Empirical Response, Short Dashed Line - 95% Confidence Interval,

Long Dashed Line - Theoretical Response
Figure 9: Fiscal Policy Experiments in the Neoclassical Model
Solid Line - High Elasticity, Dashed Line - Medium Elasticity, Dotted Line - Low Elasticity
Figure 10: Response of the Surplus to GDP ratio in the Lower Tax Specification

Assuming Taxes Remain at their Steady State Levels
Solid Line - High Elasticity, Dashed Line - Medium Elasticity, Dotted Line - Low Elasticity

Posted by maximpost at 11:13 PM EDT

Keep the ban on arms for China
Roger Cliff and Evan S. Medeiros IHT
Monday, March 22, 2004

Europe's embargo

WASHINGTON When the European Council meets at the end of March, European leaders may decide to lift the European Union's 15-year-old embargo on weapons transfers to China, which U.S. and European policy makers imposed in 1989 after the Chinese military's violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing.
Lifting the embargo now, however, would send mixed signals to China on human rights and on the Taiwan issue, assist China's rapidly accelerating military modernization program, undermine stability across the Taiwan Strait, and further exacerbate tensions in trans-Atlantic relations.
Momentum for this policy change has been growing over the last year. Beijing has pressed European policy makers to make this change, arguing it is needed for China and the EU to develop fully their newly minted "strategic partnership."
As a result, prominent European leaders have publicly stated a desire to eliminate the ban. During the visit to France by President Hu Jintao of China in late January, the French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, said "the embargo is out of date."
But there are many important reasons for continuing the arms embargo.
European policy makers argue that China's poor human rights situation - the original motivation for the ban - has improved significantly since 1989, and thus the embargo is no longer justified. Yet while living standards have undoubtedly improved in the last decade, China's human rights situation still has a long way to go.
China remains a dictatorship that harshly suppresses any perceived political opposition. Examples abound. The government still hasn't lived up to President Jiang Zemin's 1997 pledge to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross access to Chinese prisons. President Hu's crackdown late last year on high-profile investigative newspapers and magazines is equally worrisome. These and other actions were listed in the European Commission's 2003 report on EU-Chinese relations.
The focus on China's human rights situation, however, misses the real issue at stake - the rapid modernization of China's military and the implications for stability, including the possibility of an outbreak of armed conflict in the Taiwan Strait. Lifting the EU embargo would provide significant and long-lasting assistance to Chinese military modernization at a time when cross-strait stability is fading fast.
Since the early 1990s, the Chinese military has been engaged in a sustained drive to improve its capabilities. For much of the last decade, this has involved buying advanced off-the-shelf weapons systems from Russia. This approach has significantly raised the level of China's warfighting abilities in a relatively short time.
As a result, the People's Liberation Army has rapidly crossed critical modernization thresholds to the extent that it can now leverage new weapons technology imports in ways more militarily significant than in past years.
Access to European weapon technologies, which are nearly as advanced as U.S. capabilities in some areas, would also enable China's defense industries to accelerate their modernization by filling critical technology gaps. European technology transfers before 1989, for example, played a key role in enabling China to develop modern surface-to-air and air-to-air missile systems in the 1980s and 1990s.
These developments would have a direct impact on stability across the Taiwan Strait and on trans-Atlantic relations. China's military modernization is largely aimed at preparing for a potential conflict over Taiwan. One of the central elements of China's effort is to acquire weapons capabilities to prevent and, ultimately, to counter U.S. military intervention in a Taiwan conflict. If the EU ban was lifted and conflict erupted, U.S. forces could conceivably find themselves under attack by Chinese weapons produced with the help of America's NATO allies.
Some observers maintain that lifting the embargo is not so consequential because a EU code of conduct governing military exports would limit arms trade with China. This argument is far from reassuring.
After abandonment of the embargo, the norm against EU arms sales to China would be significantly diminished, sending a strong signal to defense enterprises throughout Europe. The same arguments used to scrap the embargo could be leveraged to overcome the political restraints of the code of conduct.
Furthermore, the code - unlike the embargo - is not legally binding, and some defense companies might be willing to pay the costs of violating its "politically binding" provisions.
Indeed, it is not clear that violations would even matter. Major EU members have already violated, with relative impunity, key provisions of the Maastricht Treaty relating to fiscal responsibility. Even when the European Union expands to the east in May, there are few assurances that the new members would uniformly support continuing the arms embargo. A company in the Czech Republic recently sold an advanced military radar to China.
Regardless of the understandable political motives of EU leaders who want to improve relations with China, abandoning the arms embargo would jeopardize stability in one of the most volatile parts of Asia. Selling arms to China could not only put a NATO ally at risk, it could undermine the integrity of a fraying alliance itself.

Roger Cliff and Evan S. Medeiros are political scientists at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization.

Copyright ? 2002 The International Herald Tribune
Cheney to promote nuke reactors to China

Vice President Dick Cheney, center, shakes hands with Anchorage, Alaska mayor Mark Begich at Elmendorf Air Force Base in

Alaska, Friday, April 9, 2004. Cheney is en route to Asia. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)
WASHINGTON -- On a trip to China next week to talk about high-stakes issues like terrorism and North Korea, Vice President

Dick Cheney will have another task - making a pitch for Westinghouse's U.S. nuclear power technology.
At stake could be billions of dollars in business in coming years and thousands of American jobs. The initial installment of

four reactors, costing $1.5 billion apiece, would also help narrow the huge U.S. trade deficit with China.
China's latest economic plan anticipates more than doubling its electricity output by 2020 and the Chinese government, facing

enormous air pollution problems, is looking to shift some of that away from coal-burning plants. Its plan calls for building

as many as 32 large 1,000-megawatt reactors over the next 16 years.
No one has ordered a new nuclear power reactor in the United States in three decades and the next one, if it comes, is still

years away. So, China is being viewed by the U.S. industry as a potential bonanza.
Cheney's three-day visit to Beijing and Shanghai next week is part of a weeklong trip to Asia that will also include a stop

in Tokyo. He departed Washington on Friday.
A senior administration official, briefing reporters about the trip, said Cheney will not "pitch individual commercial

transactions." But he intends to make clear "we support the efforts of our American companies" and general access to China's

markets, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Some critics are concerned about such technology transfers.
"This pitch could not be more poorly timed," Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education

Center, told a hearing of the House International Relations Committee recently.
Citing recent Chinese plans to help Pakistan build two large reactors that are capable of producing plutonium, he said it is

not the time for China to be rewarded with new reactor technology. U.S. officials said the Chinese have given adequate

assurances that such sales will not pose a proliferation risk.
Bid solicitations for four new reactors are expected to be issued by the Chinese within months.
The leading competitors are U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Co. and a French rival, Areva, which is peddling its next-

generation reactor built by its Framatome subsidiary.
Westinghouse is putting its hopes on its 1,100 megawatt AP1000 reactor, an advanced design that is still waiting approval

from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission before it can be built in the United States. Westinghouse, owned by the British

nuclear firm BNFL, is the only U.S.-based manufacturer of a pressurized water reactor, the type of design China has said it

wants to pursue.
"Clearly the China market is very important to the industry and a supplier like Westinghouse," said Vaughn Gilbert, a

spokesman for the Pittsburgh-based reactor vendor. "The Chinese market is one that we're pursuing."
Each of the AP1000 reactors are expected to cost about $1.5 billion. "We would assume there would be more than one order,"

Gilbert said, since China has indicated it wants a standardized design across its reactor program. A successful bid could

mean 5,000 American jobs, Gilbert said in an interview.
For the nuclear industry, the potential windfall goes beyond building the power plants.
"The opportunity is not just in selling the Chinese a number of reactors, but engaging them for a longer term in a strategic

partnership," says Ron Simard, who deals with future plant development at the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade

group. That could mean future construction contracts as well as plant service business.
The reactor business has been nonexistent in the United States since the 1970s. No American utility has ordered a new reactor

since the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident.
So, vendors like Westinghouse are relying on business elsewhere, especially Asia.
China currently has nine operating reactors, including French, Canadian, Russian, and Japanese designs as well as their own

model, producing 6,450 megawatts of power, or about 1.4 percent total capacity. Chinese officials have estimated that by 2020

the country will need an additional 32,000 megawatts from its nuclear industry, or about 32 additional reactors.
Even with the surge in reactor construction, nuclear power will only account for 8 percent of China's future electricity

needs. Chinese officials said at an energy conference in Washington last year their country must more than double its coal-

fired generation and build more dams, erect windmills and tap natural gas to meet future electricity demands.
Cheney Confers With Chinese Leaders on Iraq, Other Issues

By Tom Raum Associated Press Writer
Published: Apr 14, 2004
BEIJING (AP) - Vice President Dick Cheney conferred Wednesday with China's top leaders and pronounced the U.S.-Chinese relationship to be "in good shape." He brought praises for China's efforts to prod North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions.
But U.S. officials cautioned against expecting breakthroughs on the stalled North Korea nuclear talks. Tensions also remained over Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Cheney met in separate sessions with Chinese President Hu Jintao, his predecessor, Jiang Zemin, and Premier Wen Jiabao.
Cheney conveyed President Bush's greetings to Hu and said that Bush "looks forward to seeing you again in the near future."
Jiang, who still wields power as military committee chairman, told Cheney he had fond recollections of visiting Bush on his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Of U.S.-Chinese ties, Cheney said, "We believe the relationship is in good shape." He had "many issues to discuss" on his trip, the vice president said at a picture-taking session with Jiang.
Earlier, in an unusually blunt appeal, China's vice president asked Cheney during a one-on-one meeting for Washington to stop selling defensive weapons to Taiwan, Chinese state media reported.
Zeng Qinghong's appeal reflected the intensity of China's frustration with U.S. support for self-ruled Taiwan, which the communist mainland claims as part of its territory.
"There is only one China and Taiwan is part of China," an announcer, citing Zeng, said on the state television evening news. "We hope the United States can carry out its commitment and not sell weapons to Taiwan and not send wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces."
The official Xinhua News Agency said Cheney affirmed U.S. policy, which doesn't support formal independence for Taiwan.
Beijing's anxiety over U.S. ties with Taiwan is expected to be a key issue during Cheney's three-day visit.
It is almost unheard of for a senior Chinese leader to deliver such a direct, potentially confrontational message to a visiting foreign leader. The fact that Zeng, a member of the Communist Party's nine member Standing Committee, the center of Chinese power, did so in Cheney's first meeting in Beijing showed China's emphasis on the issue.
Iraq was also high on the agenda in China, as it was in Japan - Cheney's first stop on his weeklong trip to Asia. Before arriving here from Tokyo, Cheney promised Japanese leaders unspecified U.S. help in trying to return to safety three Japanese citizens taken hostage in Iraq.
He praised Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for not bowing to demands from Iraqi militants that he withdraw Japanese forces from Iraq.
"It's important that our governments not be intimidated by threat of violence, that we not allow terrorists to change or influence the policies of our governments," Cheney told a foreign-policy forum in Tokyo before flying to Beijing.
At a dinner in Cheney's honor at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Zeng noted that the vice president had last visited China in 1995, when he headed the oil services Halliburton Co.
"Many changes have taken place in this country" since then, Zeng told Cheney. "We place great importance to your visit."
Cheney told Zeng: "We believe we can do good work together."
All three nations on Cheney's itinerary have had civilians taken as hostages in Iraq, although those from South Korea and China have been released. Relations between the United States and China have improved as the two nations worked together to resolve the North Korean nuclear impasse.
However, differences remain over Taiwan, Hong Kong and human rights.
The Bush administration has been increasingly critical of China for trying to restrict moves toward democracy by Hong Kong, a former British colony now considered a special administrative region of China.
Ahead of Cheney's arrival, China urged the United States to stop adhering to a law that encourages Washington to sell defensive weapons to Taiwan. By doing so, the United States is sending the "wrong message to Taiwan independence forces" and meddling in China's internal affairs, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told the official Xinhua News Agency.
Under the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States is pledged to defend the island off southeastern China if it is attacked from the mainland.
U.S. officials have expressed misgivings, however, about apparent moves on an independence-minded agenda by Taiwan's freshly re-elected president, Chen Shui-bian.
Cheney ended his Japan stay with a visit to Emperor Akihito and other members of the imperial family and with a speech on the 150th anniversary of a U.S.-Japanese peace agreement, a document honored except for the large exception of World War II.
"The unity of America, Japan and like-minded nations saw us through the dark days of the Cold War, and with the same unity we will overcome the trials of today," he told the forum.
Japan has refused to bow to demands that it withdraw its roughly 530 ground troops doing humanitarian missions in Iraq as part of an eventual deployment of 1,100 noncombatant troops.
Cheney said that some headway had been made on the contentious issue of Japan's five-month-old ban on U.S. beef imports that followed the discovery of a holstein in Washington State with mad cow disease.
"I'm pleased to announce the Japanese government has invited U.S. experts for consultations next week," Cheney said. "We hope these consultations will lead to reopening the (Japanese) market to U.S. beef in the near future."
Thus far, Japan has insisted on 100 percent inspections of carcasses, a level the United States has said is excessive.
AP-ES-04-14-04 0131EDT


Pakistan says it's sharing info on nukes

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan said it was sharing with other countries information divulged by disgraced top scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, but refused comment on a report he had visited a secret underground plant in communist North Korea and seen nuclear devices.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, told interrogators he inspected the weapons briefly during a trip to North Korea five years ago. If true, it would be the first time that any foreigner has reported inspecting an actual North Korean nuclear weapon, the newspaper said.
The report cited unnamed Asian and American officials who have been briefed by the Pakistanis.
Khan, long regarded as a national hero for helping Pakistan obtain a nuclear deterrent against rival India, confessed in February to transferring sensitive technology to North Korea, Iran and Libya.
He received a pardon from Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, a key U.S. ally, but remains under house arrest in Islamabad as investigators continue a probe into his illicit nuclear deals.
Jon Wolfsthal, who served as a U.S. government monitor at North Korea's main plutonium site in the 1990s, said Washington has believed for more than a decade that North Korea had enough material for one or two bombs.
Khan is not a credible source, however, Wolfsthal said.
"A.Q. Khan is a liar, and he's doing whatever he feels necessary to protect his own interests and protect the government that has pardoned him," said Wolfsthal, now with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
"One way of doing that is saying, 'It doesn't matter what we sold to North Korea because they had weapons already,'" he said.
Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said Tuesday that Pakistan had shared information arising from its investigations of Khan to other countries, but he did not elaborate.
"We have investigated scientists. We are in touch with the world," he told a press conference in Islamabad.
Pakistani officials have previously said they have offered information on the investigation to China, Japan, South Korea, as well as the United States and the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The Times said that Pakistan has begun to provide classified briefings to nations within reach of North Korea's missiles.
South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that South Korea's basic assessment that the rival North has only enough plutonium for one or two atomic bombs.
The CIA believes that North Korea already has one or two nuclear bombs, although some U.S. intelligence analysts believe it may have more.
A high-level South Korean official confirmed Tuesday its government had received information linked to the Times report from Pakistan and "related countries."
"But we are trying to further confirm it as there are many unclear points about its contents and circumstances," the official said on condition of anonymity in Seoul.
A Japanese Foreign Ministry official, who also did not want to be named, said the government was aware of the report and was cooperating with other countries to gather information about North Korea's nuclear activities. He declined further comment.
The Times reported that Vice President Dick Cheney was briefed on Khan's assertions before he left on a trip to Asia over the weekend.
It said Cheney was expected to cite the intelligence to China's leaders on Tuesday to press the point that six-country talks that have been held in Beijing over disarming North Korea are going too slowly and that the Bush administration may seek stronger action against Pyongyang, including sanctions.
The report said Khan told Pakistani officials that he began dealing with North Korea on the sale of equipment for a uranium-based nuclear weapons program as early as the late 1980s but did not begin major shipments to North Korea until the late 1990s agreed with the United States to a moratorium on its plutonium-based program. North Korea has since renounced that agreement.
Pakistan denies any official involvement in nuclear proliferation, although doubts remain over how top military and government officials remained in the dark for years over Khan's activities.
Pakistani officials said Saturday they've released three men questioned about the nuclear black market led by Khan. Four others - two scientists and two administrators who worked at the same laboratory - are still being held for questioning.


S.Korea nuke assessment of North unchanged

SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea said Wednesday that it was not changing its assessment of North Korea's nuclear capabilities despite a report that a Pakistani scientist had visited a secret underground plant in the communist country and seen nuclear devices.
The United States, Japan and South Korea discussed the information that Pakistan gleaned from investigations of its disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, and agreed that it was too early to draw a conclusion about what Khan saw in North Korea, Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said.
"South Korea, the United States and Japan share the understanding that it is desirable for them to take a more cautious position on this matter," Ban said during a regular briefing.
He said there was no change in South Korea's basic assessment that the rival North has only enough plutonium for one or two atomic bombs. South Korea has stuck to that evaluation for years, citing a lack of new concrete evidence on the North's secretive nuclear weapons programs.
The CIA takes that assessment a step further saying it assumes North Korea has one or two bombs already built.
South Korea has sent questions to the Pakistani government asking for more information about what Khan saw in North Korea, Ban said. But the government in Seoul has not yet heard back.
Pakistan said Tuesday it was sharing with other countries information divulged by Khan, but refused comment on a report that he had seen North Korean nuclear devices.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, told interrogators he inspected the weapons briefly during a trip to North Korea five years ago. If true, it would be the first time that any foreigner has reported inspecting an actual North Korean nuclear weapon, the newspaper said.
Ban said Pakistan shared Khan's information with South Korea "recently."
"It contained many unclear things, and there is ambiguity about the circumstances. Thus we are trying to make additional confirmation," Ban said.
North Korea is currently locked in a regional dispute over its nuclear programs. Since last August, the United States, China, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas have held two rounds of talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions, but those meetings ended without major breakthroughs.
Ban said North Korea should allow nuclear inspections and freeze all its nuclear facilities as a first step toward what the United States and its allies call a "complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling" of its nuclear programs. Only then, he said, will the allies provide economic aid to the impoverished country.
North Korea says it needs a nuclear "deterrent" against the United States. It demands economic aid and security guarantees in return for giving up its nuclear weapons.
The six nations plan to hold a third round of talks before July aiming to defuse tensions.

Impeachment politics may reshape S. Korea

SEOUL, South Korea -- Impeachment politics are fueling a tight parliamentary election race that could shift power toward a small, upstart liberal party, divide South Korea along generational lines and reshape relations with the United States over policies toward Iraq and North Korea.
The hotly contested election Thursday is crucial for President Roh Moo-hyun, who became South Korea's first impeached president in an opposition-backed March 12 National Assembly vote. His executive powers have been frozen pending a final ruling by the Constitutional Court.
Roh, who has preached reconciliation with communist North Korea and greater independence from Washington, has pledged to resign if the pro-government Uri Party fairs poorly. But if Uri wins a majority, it would strengthen Roh's hand and create the first liberal-dominated assembly in decades.
Roh is not a Uri Party member, but has said he plans to join.
Young people in particular are supporting the Uri Party. It's also been drawing broader support from across the nation than its rivals, which traditionally tap regional strongholds.
Analysts say the shift symbolizes a growing national divide between progressives and conservatives, the young and the old. It also could spur new debate about South Korea's commitment to the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, and relations with rival North Korea.
"Most UP (Uri Party) members are considerably more sympathetic and tolerant of North Korea than they appear to be toward Washington," said Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum think tank in Honolulu.
"Without the checks and balances provided by a more conservative National Assembly, it is difficult to predict in which direction Roh will choose to take either relationship."
A backlash against Roh's impeachment - which drew tens of thousands to the streets in protest - initially boosted Uri. Its leader, Chung Dong-young, even predicted Uri would take half the 299 seats up for grabs.
Surveys suggested about seven in 10 South Koreans opposed Roh's impeachment, even though they might not support Roh.
But Uri leader Chung fumbled his lead when he told older South Koreans to "stay home and rest" and let younger voters decide the future. The remarks shocked a deeply Confucian nation that reveres seniority, and prompted Chung to resign as his party's campaign manager and drop out of the race for a seat in Parliament.
After sponsoring the impeachment, the opposition Grand National and Millennium Democratic parties saw their backing plummet. In an attempt to siphon some of Uri's younger support, both reinvented their platforms.
The staunchly anti-communist Grand National Party said it would start pursuing "more flexible and future-oriented North Korean policies" in an apparent riposte the Uri Party's practice of engagement.
GNP leader Park Geun-hye - whose mother was assassinated in 1974 by a North Korean agent unsuccessfully targeting her father, then President Park Chung-hee - pledged to visit the North to foster ties.
The Millennium Democratic Party, meanwhile, has come out against the planned dispatch of 3,600 South Korean troops to Iraq and said it wants to re-examine the plans from scratch in the new assembly.
The National Assembly had approved the mission earlier this year with broad support from all major parties, including the MDP. But flaring violence in Iraq has made the plan unpopular, especially among the young.
Thursday's election had 1,175 candidates vying for 243 district seats. Voters choose both the candidate and the party. An additional 56 seats are distributed to the parties according to their ballot shares.
Uri was projected to have a solid hold on 90 to 100 of the 243 district seats, and the GNP between 80 and 90. That would mark a big improvement for Uri over the 49 seats the party had in the outgoing parliament.


U.S.-S. Korea relations become touchier

WASHINGTON -- It was South Korea's biggest fear not long ago: Faced with a cross-border attack from North Korea, the United States would lack the will to come to the South's defense.
Nowadays, growing numbers of South Koreans worry that any crisis on the peninsula will result from an American provocation rather than aggression by their nuclear-armed neighbor.
The trend in sentiment is clear, and analysts see little chance for a reversal in South Korea's National Assembly elections Thursday.
Indeed, the major party most wary about Bush administration policies toward North Korea is expected to increase its strength in the assembly.
The changing South Korean mind-set was underscored last month in a report by the Rand Corp., a Santa Monica, Calif., think tank.
South Korean uncertainty about the future, the report said, "is heightened by a growing belief that tough U.S. policies toward Pyongyang constitute a threat that rivals the one from the North."
South Koreans, it said, are deeply ambivalent about the 37,000 U.S. forces stationed in South Korea.
"On the one hand, most South Koreans have said that U.S. forces are important to their security," the report said. "But on the other, they believe that the presence of U.S. forces may impede the pace of reunification or adversely affect other goals."
The study was based on South Korean public opinion data and on Rand's participation in two September 2003 opinion polls with the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper of Seoul and the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The study showed that older South Koreans are more pro-U.S. than the younger set, which has no memories of the American sacrifices of the Korean War.
Says Don Oberdorfer, an international studies specialist at Johns Hopkins University who wrote "The Two Koreas," about the peninsula's late 20th century history: "The younger generation has little, if any, fear of North Korea. The main fear is that a dangerous situation will develop not because of North Korea but because of the U.S."
The 1950-53 Korean War, in which more than 36,500 Americans died, began when North Korean troops poured across the 38th parallel dividing the two states. The truce stopped the fighting, but meetings at the truce line to reach a permanent peace continue.
South Koreans demonstrated their leeriness about the United States with the election of the dovish Kim Dae-jung as president in 1998. This drift was accelerated in December of 2002 when voters chose as president Roh Moo Hyun, who vowed not to kowtow to the United States.
The opposition-led National Assembly impeached and suspended Roh in March, which proved to be widely unpopular among voters. The impeachment is now in the courts, and Roh has said he will step down if his Uri Party fares poorly Thursday. Polls indicate that outcome is unlikely.
The United States and South Korea agree that North Korea should eliminate its nuclear weapons, but tactical differences exist on how to deal with the North. Vice President Dick Cheney will raise these issues during a visit Friday to Seoul.
Henry Sokolski, of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, said North Korean propaganda has been influencing South Korean public opinion.
"The North Koreans have been talking about Americans being a source of war and instability on the peninsula," Sokolski said. "A lot of young people read this and believe it."
South Korea pleased the United States by offering to send 3,600 troops to Iraq to do reconstruction work. Officials there say the commitment would be re-evaluated if the troops come under threat. The deployment has become part of the campaign debate.
The reluctant South Korean embrace of the United States these days contrasts with the situation a generation ago. Was the United States so traumatized by the Vietnam War that it would never go to war in Asia again? Seoul was worried.
Oberdorfer says the Washington-Seoul defense alliance has not been the same since a groundbreaking summit meeting in Pyongyang two years ago between the leaders of North and South Korea. Ever since, Seoul has been reaching out to the North's Stalinist leadership, causing dread among many in Washington.
"South Korea is now trying to restrain the U.S. and to find ways to make compromises with the North," Oberdorfer said.

EDITOR'S NOTE - George Gedda has covered foreign affairs for The Associated Press since 1968.
Revolt and Iran: New nukes and old issues
By Ritt Goldstein

With the Iraq revolt finding increasing allies internally, elements within the administration of United States President George W Bush have again attempted to place blame externally, particularly singling out Iran and Hezbollah (an Iranian-backed Lebanese group). Inside "information" was provided to the media, editorials were written, a blame campaign was done. But while Iran's denials were questioned, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld described direct Iranian involvement as "not to my knowledge". And that raises a question as to what the Iranian accusations are really about, with part of the answer appearing nuclear.
On Tuesday, the conservative US media outlet NewsMax headlined that the Wall Street Journal had editorialized on alleged Iranian involvement in the Iraq revolt, urging that: "As for Tehran, we would hope the [Muqtada al-]Sadr uprising puts to rest the illusion that the mullahs [Iranian religious leaders] can be appeased ... If warnings to Tehran from Washington don't impress them, perhaps some cruise missiles aimed at the Busheir nuclear site will." And behind that sentiment, the past few weeks have seen rising concerns that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
While on Wednesday Singapore announced the signing of a free trade agreement with Iran, and on Thursday, Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan met with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Setarifar to pursue furthering trade, the US and Europe have had Iranian nuclear issues on their agenda. And with Iran pressed between two states which are occupied by the US - Iraq and Afghanistan - the fact of the Islamic Republic's inclusion on Bush's "Axis of Evil" does provide incentive for pursuing a nuclear deterrent.
The fate of Iraq vs North Korea has not gone unnoticed by many; though Iran claims it is not pursuing a nuclear weapons program. For well over a year, the US has believed that what Iran is pursuing is a game of nuclear cat-and-mouse, surreptitious progress on the road to a nuclear device ongoing. And within the past two weeks, "Western diplomats" have been quoted in numerous media articles expressing their concern. But while there seems to be a lot of smoke, no one has yet claimed to have seen any fire - no conclusive evidence has been found.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations' mechanism for judging compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has been pursuing allegations of an Iranian weapons program since 2002. And in late March, the Los Angeles Times revealed an intelligence report detailing that an Iranian committee had been established to conceal the country's nuclear program from the IAEA. Notably, Iran has failed to make mandatory reports on the creation and use of uranium enrichment facilities, as well as the pursuit of other activities that are considered nuclear-weapons related.
The IAEA passed a resolution early last month "deploring" Iran's failure to report efforts regarding special centrifuges for obtaining weapons-grade uranium. And the IAEA had previously found traces of weapons-grade uranium during its investigations. Precipitating those investigations was a tip from an Iranian exile group, a group now listed on Washington's so-called "terror-list".
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) did provide accurate information on the previously unknown uranium enrichment facilities. Last month, the former spokesman for NCRI told Reuters of a secret Iranian program to develop a nuclear weapon by 2005, pursuing the necessary uranium enrichment at a large number of small locations. And according to a number of media sources, "Western intelligence" had found evidence suggesting such a possible decentralization of Iran's enrichment program as early as November.
The US and Israel are both particularly concerned as to the potential ramifications of an Iranian nuclear weapon, and the United Kingdom, France and Germany began to show their concern earlier this month. Europe's so-called "big three" reacted to an Iranian announcement that it was initiating the start-up of a uranium conversion operation, the first step before the enrichment process. Since then, Tehran announced a June start for the creation of a reactor generating plutonium, the same material North Korea uses in its nuclear weapons. And it's against this background that the charges of Iranian aid to the Iraq revolt come.
According to the April 8 New York Times, "some intelligence officials believe that the Pentagon has been eager to link Hezbollah to the violence in Iraq in order to link the Iranian regimes more closely to anti-American terrorism." A basis for US action is being sought.
Notably, the same article "contradicts repeated statements by the Bush administration", and highlights that US intelligence officials believe that the Shi'ite insurgency isn't limited to Muqtada, but is rather a "broad-based Shi'ite uprising ... hatred of the US occupation has spread". Also noted is that Sunni insurgents go "far beyond former Ba'athist regime members."
Paradoxically, the Iraqi group to which Iran does have significant and long ties is the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). The SCIRI's leader, Abdel Azziz Hakim, is a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, and the SCIRI's substantive militia, the Badr Group, has been reported as refraining from fighting. But Iraqi Shi'ite leader Grand Ayotollah Ali al-Sistani has reportedly endorsed Muqtada's confrontation, as have others, supposedly including Sunni tribal chiefs.
As a further measure of popular sympathies, there have been numerous reports of Iraqi police and security forces failing to "confront" insurgents. On Thursday, Iraqi civil administrator L Paul Bremer requested the Shi'ite interior minister's resignation, and received it.
At Thursday's Coalition Provisional Authority briefing, the commander of coalition ground forces, Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, attempted to dismiss those resisting the occupation as "a small group of criminals and thugs". But at the same briefing, Sanchez was repeatedly questioned regarding US acts alleged to be in violation of the Geneva Convention regarding the conduct of war.
In a telling moment, Sanchez described a US attack on a Fallujah mosque as probably causing "some minor damage to the physical infrastructure". But the Associated Press reported a count of 40 civilian deaths, including "whole families".
The insurgency gives every indication of being a popular uprising, with links between Sunni and Shi'ite insurgents in the process of evolving.
By further contrast, in a March 7 Pentagon press conference, both Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs chairman General Richard Myers again repeatedly emphasized the "limited" nature of those in revolt. Particularly notable, Rumsfeld mentioned Jordanian-Palestinian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi four times in his opening remarks, but spoke of Muqtada only once, highlighting a continuing administration effort to blame foreign influences instead of American shortcomings.
In a particularly astonishing revelation, Myers acknowledged that the revolt was purposefully provoked by US forces, saying that it was known that coalition actions taken would provoke a response - "it was not unanticipated or unexpected", Myers said.
But every indication points to the fact that the extent of resistance ignited was far from anticipated, or expected. Unlike Operation Iraqi Freedom, the military action appears ill-planned, even hasty, as if driven by events other than military circumstance. An alternative trigger for the operation is suggested.
The day after The Journal's editorial, the Washington Times ran two articles dealing with Iran and Hezbollah. While Shi'ite Hezbollah is a legitimate and powerful Lebanese political party, it's also among the most skilled and deadly of terror groups on the planet. One Washington Times story reported that "military sources" had revealed that Muqtada was "being aided directly by Iran's Revolutionary Guard", and Hezbollah. But that very afternoon, Rumsfeld denied any knowledge of direct aid between Iran and Muqtada. However, the other story was entitled "Tehran's Proxy", reporting Iran's alleged funding of anti-Israeli terror groups through Hezbollah, representing another aspect of the equation.
While recent headlines have run with an assertion that the US "really" invaded Iraq to protect Israel, security analysts view Iran's aid to regional terror groups, coupled with its nuclear ambitions and desires for regional hegemony, as Israel's true Middle East threat. Adding to the issues, and beyond questions of protecting the present watchdog for US area interests, both Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Rumsfeld have unpleasant histories with Hezbollah.
It's alleged Hezbollah was involved in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia which killed 19 US servicepeople, and the early 1980s bombings against US personnel in Lebanon, including the blast which killed 273 US marines. Hezbollah is an organization with many facets and capabilities, and it's believed that they are in Iraq; though, according to the New York Times, Central Intelligence Agency sources claim not in a terrorist or military capacity.
Regardless of Hezbollah actions in Iraq, for reasons of perceived Israeli security, Sharon has recently warned Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah of his potential assassination by Israeli forces. Speculation exists that what is presently transpiring in the Middle East is an attempt to undertake a broad, US-initiated effort to address a number of regional concerns within a limited time-frame, domestic US political circumstance (ie, September 11 political fallout) likely to have influenced the timing of events, such as the initiation of the provocations Myers acknowledged.

Ritt Goldstein is an American investigative political journalist based in Stockholm. His work has appeared in broadsheets such as Australia's Sydney Morning Herald, Spain's El Mundo and Denmark's Politiken, as well as with the Inter Press Service (IPS), a global news agency.

(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)


The experiences of domestic intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Australia can help guide counterterrorism initiatives in the United States, according to a RAND Corporation report issued today.
The domestic intelligence agencies of the four U.S. allies are solely focused on collecting, analyzing and communicating intelligence about terrorism and other criminal activities. Unlike the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States, the domestic intelligence agencies in the four nations studied have no prosecutorial or law enforcement authority.
Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the FBI was criticized for failing to prevent the strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. As a result, subsequent discussions have focused on creating a separate domestic intelligence agency that could concentrate on gathering information, without the added duties of law enforcement and prosecution.
"A key difference between the United States and the four countries we studied is that these countries share a culture of prevention," said Peter Chalk, lead author of the study. "This mindset in a way helps to drive a lot of resources -- financial and otherwise -- to focused intelligence efforts."
The RAND researchers analyzed the similarities and differences between the United States and the four other countries studied to determine what lessons can be learned to develop an American domestic intelligence bureau.
The report, titled "Confronting the Enemy Within: Security Intelligence, the Police, and Counterterrorism in Four Democracies," was produced by RAND Public Safety and Justice. It identifies several strengths shared by the four countries:
Separate domestic intelligence agencies that are independent from law enforcement and solely concerned with collecting, analyzing and disseminating terrorism intelligence.
Institutional structures that coordinate among various levels of government and between law enforcement and intelligence.
Active recruitment of terrorist insiders to act as informants to provide invaluable human intelligence.
Rigorous systems of checks and balances that provide oversight and accountability.
Regular terrorist threat assessments that include both tactical and strategic dimensions.
The availability of recruitment channels that are independent of the domestic policing environment.
In the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Australia, a close coordination between local police and intelligence officials increases the depth and breadth of national surveillance efforts, making security information more open so that citizens can better understand it.
In addition, ongoing checks and balances have created an environment that allows for independent scrutiny of intelligence activities, which has heightened public trust that these activities are being carried out in as effective, efficient and legitimate a manner as possible, the RAND report finds.
The active recruitment of terrorist insiders to act as informants underscores the importance of human intelligence in infiltrating and disrupting terrorist cells, the study says. This accurate, real-time information can better steer strategy, resource allocation and security measures.
Another important aspect of the security agencies outside the United States that were studied is their emphasis on developing regular tactical and strategic terrorist threat assessments that inform government and private industry counterterrorism strategies, the RAND study says. According to the researchers, these analyses are vital to guiding national planning and using scarce financial, technical and human resources.
Finally, freedom from the parameters of the domestic policing environment allows the four countries studied to recruit personnel from a wider and more diverse pool that would normally be drawn to a law enforcement career.
While the study reveals important strengths shared by the British, French, Canadian and Australian models, it also recognizes several shortfalls that can be used to inform the American experience.
The RAND study says domestic intelligence agencies in he United Kingdom, France, Canada and Australia share these three problems:
Occasionally overstepping democratic boundaries and individual rights in pursuit of surveillance and national security efforts.
Frequently failing to disseminate -- and sometimes refusing to share -- terrorism threat information with police, customs, immigration, Coast Guard, transportation, and other law enforcement bureaus and officials that have a role in counterterrorism.
Sometimes ignoring operational jurisdictions when conducting joint counterterrorist missions with the police.
The report notes that while significant cultural, political and historical differences exist between the United States and the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Australia, all of these countries share important defining characteristics: liberal democratic traditions; a common desire to stem threats to national security and stability; and a recognition that counter-terrorism efforts should be balanced with the protection of civil rights.
RAND carried out the study with independent research and development funds provided by the Department of Defense.
A printed copy of " Confronting "the Enemy Within": Security Intelligence, the Police, and Counterterrorism in Four Democracies" (ISBN: 0-8330-3513-4) can be ordered from RAND's Distribution Services ( or call toll-free in the United States 1-877-584-8642).
About the RAND Corporation
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit research organization providing objective analysis and effective solutions that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world.

Posted by maximpost at 3:56 AM EDT
Monday, 12 April 2004


Cheney to promote nuke reactors to China

Vice President Dick Cheney, center, shakes hands with Anchorage, Alaska mayor Mark Begich at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, Friday, April 9, 2004. Cheney is en route to Asia. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)
WASHINGTON -- On a trip to China next week to talk about high-stakes issues like terrorism and North Korea, Vice President Dick Cheney will have another task - making a pitch for Westinghouse's U.S. nuclear power technology.
At stake could be billions of dollars in business in coming years and thousands of American jobs. The initial installment of four reactors, costing $1.5 billion apiece, would also help narrow the huge U.S. trade deficit with China.
China's latest economic plan anticipates more than doubling its electricity output by 2020 and the Chinese government, facing enormous air pollution problems, is looking to shift some of that away from coal-burning plants. Its plan calls for building as many as 32 large 1,000-megawatt reactors over the next 16 years.
No one has ordered a new nuclear power reactor in the United States in three decades and the next one, if it comes, is still years away. So, China is being viewed by the U.S. industry as a potential bonanza.
Cheney's three-day visit to Beijing and Shanghai next week is part of a weeklong trip to Asia that will also include a stop in Tokyo. He departed Washington on Friday.
A senior administration official, briefing reporters about the trip, said Cheney will not "pitch individual commercial transactions." But he intends to make clear "we support the efforts of our American companies" and general access to China's markets, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Some critics are concerned about such technology transfers.
"This pitch could not be more poorly timed," Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, told a hearing of the House International Relations Committee recently.
Citing recent Chinese plans to help Pakistan build two large reactors that are capable of producing plutonium, he said it is not the time for China to be rewarded with new reactor technology. U.S. officials said the Chinese have given adequate assurances that such sales will not pose a proliferation risk.
Bid solicitations for four new reactors are expected to be issued by the Chinese within months.
The leading competitors are U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Co. and a French rival, Areva, which is peddling its next-generation reactor built by its Framatome subsidiary.
Westinghouse is putting its hopes on its 1,100 megawatt AP1000 reactor, an advanced design that is still waiting approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission before it can be built in the United States. Westinghouse, owned by the British nuclear firm BNFL, is the only U.S.-based manufacturer of a pressurized water reactor, the type of design China has said it wants to pursue.
"Clearly the China market is very important to the industry and a supplier like Westinghouse," said Vaughn Gilbert, a spokesman for the Pittsburgh-based reactor vendor. "The Chinese market is one that we're pursuing."
Each of the AP1000 reactors are expected to cost about $1.5 billion. "We would assume there would be more than one order," Gilbert said, since China has indicated it wants a standardized design across its reactor program. A successful bid could mean 5,000 American jobs, Gilbert said in an interview.
For the nuclear industry, the potential windfall goes beyond building the power plants.
"The opportunity is not just in selling the Chinese a number of reactors, but engaging them for a longer term in a strategic partnership," says Ron Simard, who deals with future plant development at the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group. That could mean future construction contracts as well as plant service business.
The reactor business has been nonexistent in the United States since the 1970s. No American utility has ordered a new reactor since the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident.
So, vendors like Westinghouse are relying on business elsewhere, especially Asia.
China currently has nine operating reactors, including French, Canadian, Russian, and Japanese designs as well as their own model, producing 6,450 megawatts of power, or about 1.4 percent total capacity. Chinese officials have estimated that by 2020 the country will need an additional 32,000 megawatts from its nuclear industry, or about 32 additional reactors.
Even with the surge in reactor construction, nuclear power will only account for 8 percent of China's future electricity needs. Chinese officials said at an energy conference in Washington last year their country must more than double its coal-fired generation and build more dams, erect windmills and tap natural gas to meet future electricity demands.

Cheney offers Japan U.S. hostage help
TOKYO -- Vice President Dick Cheney thanked Japan's prime minister Monday for not giving in to Iraqi insurgents and kidnappers who are demanding withdrawal of Japanese troops in exchange for the release of Japanese hostages.
After Tokyo, Cheney was turning his attention to China, the next stop on a tour of Asia that also will take him to South Korea.
Cheney met with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in an atmosphere of rising international tension over increased violence and the holding of foreign captives in Iraq.
"We have consulted closely with the prime minister and his government to make certain we do everything we can to be of assistance," Cheney told reporters.
He was to close his three-day visit to Japan with a visit to Emperor Akihito and later a speech on U.S.-Japanese relations before heading to Beijing.
Ahead of Cheney's arrival, China urged the United States on Monday to stop adhering to a law that requires Washington to sell defensive weapons to Taiwan.
By remaining committed to the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States is sending the "wrong message to Taiwan independence forces," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told the official Xinhua News Agency.
The act has "infringed on China's sovereignty and intervened in China's internal affairs," Kong said.
Under the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States is pledged to defend the island off southeastern China if it is attacked from the mainland. The U.S. officially agrees that only one China exists but wants the dispute to be resolved peacefully by China and Taiwan.
China's nationalist leaders fled to Taiwan at the end of China's civil war 55 years ago, but the Communist Party-controlled mainland still claims the island as its territory. It has threatened war should the Taiwan government begin formal moves toward independence.
On Iraq, Japan has refused to bow to demands that it withdraw its roughly 530 ground troops performing humanitarian missions, part of an eventual deployment of 1,100 noncombat troops.
Kidnappers holding three hostages have threatened to burn them alive unless the Japanese troops leave, but the deadline has passed with no indication the threat has been carried out.
Japan's post-World War II constitution, drafted by the victorious United States, forbids Japanese governments to send forces abroad. Koizumi had to have a special law enacted to send the noncombat forces, and the law specifies they can be sent only to areas that are deemed safe.
"We wholeheartedly support the position the prime minister has taken with respect to the question of the Japanese hostages," Cheney told reporters.
All three nations Cheney is visiting have seen civilians kidnapped in Iraq. Xinhua, the Chinese agency, reported gunmen had kidnapped seven Chinese in central Iraq. Eight South Korean civilians were kidnapped late last week but were released.
"We especially appreciate Japan's role in helping with the global war on terror and their work with us in Afghanistan and Iraq and the fact that they've taken on significant responsibilities in those endeavors," Cheney said.
A senior administration official, briefing reporters on the Cheney-Koizumi meeting on condition of anonymity, said Cheney and Koizumi had extensively discussed the increased violence in Iraq and the holding of foreign hostages.
Cheney told Koizumi he expected countries that make up the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq to come under maximum pressure in the run-up to a planned June 30 turnover of civilian authority to an interim Iraqi government, the official said. The expectation is that anti-U.S. forces would try to torpedo the exchange of power, the official said.
The two leaders also talked about efforts to prod stalled talks to resolve the standoff over North Korea's nuclear program, the U.S. official said.
Cheney and Koizumi did not directly take up the question of Japan's 5-month-old ban on U.S. beef imports implemented after mad-cow disease was diagnosed in a Holstein in the Western United States.
Cheney raised the problem later, however, in a meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, said Cheney spokesman Kevin Kellems.
There were no breakthroughs, but "that conversation continues," Kellems said. Japan is continuing to press for 100 percent inspection of beef carcasses, a requirement the Unites States deems excessive.
Reports of the kidnapped Chinese all but assured that Iraq would also be the top topic of discussion when Cheney meets in Beijing on Tuesday with Chinese leaders.


Survey: NASA workers afraid to speak up
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Many NASA workers feel unappreciated by the agency and are still afraid to speak up about safety concerns, more than a year after the shuttle Columbia was doomed by those very problems, according to a survey released Monday.
The 145-page report includes an assessment of NASA's culture by a behavioral science company in California, and a three-year plan for change.
"Safety is something to which NASA personnel are strongly committed in concept, but NASA has not yet created a culture that is fully supportive of safety," the report says. "Open communication is not yet the norm, and people do not feel fully comfortable raising safety concerns to management."
The report notes that excellence is treasured when it comes to technical work, but is not considered imperative for management skills.
"There appear to be pockets where the management chain (possibly unintentionally) sent signals that the raising of issues is not welcome," the report says. "This is inconsistent with an organization that truly values integrity."
Last summer, Columbia accident investigators condemned NASA's safety culture and put as much blame on poor management as the flyaway piece of foam insulation that tore a hole in the shuttle's left wing at liftoff. The shuttle was destroyed during re-entry on Feb. 1, 2003, killing all seven astronauts aboard.
In February, NASA hired Behavioral Science Technology Inc. of Ojai, Calif., to develop and administer a plan for changing NASA's culture. The company conducted a survey at all NASA locations, including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Only NASA employees, not contract workers, took part.
The two lowest-scoring categories were "Perceived Organizational Support" and "Upward Communication."
On more than one occasion, workers hung back at the end of a group interview session and only then expressed their views, privately, about communication barriers, BST said.
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Venezuela court chamber give recall order
CARACAS, Venezuela -- A chamber of Venezuela's Supreme Court on Monday ordered election authorities to accept more than 870,000 disputed signatures on a petition to recall President Hugo Chavez.
But squabbles within the Supreme Court mean the order by the three-justice electoral chamber may be tough to implement immediately.
Last month, the court's five-justice constitutional chamber ruled the three-justice electoral panel did not have the authority to decide matters concerning the recall.
The electoral chamber has asked the full 20-justice court to settle the dispute. Until then, the National Elections Council is unlikely to implement Monday's decision, electoral chamber president Alberto Martini said.
Venezuela's Supreme Court is divided into chambers that rule on different areas of law. The infighting has left the country in a legal limbo, threatening to dash hopes of bringing its political crisis to a peaceful conclusion.
Chavez supporters accuse the electoral chamber of being loyal to the opposition; the opposition says the constitutional chamber openly favors the government.
Accusing Chavez of becoming increasingly authoritarian, opposition leaders delivered more than 3 million signatures Dec. 19 to demand a referendum on whether he should quit before his six-year term ends in 2007. They needed about 2.4 million.
But the elections council ruled last month that only 1.8 million signatures were valid. The decision triggered several days of violent protests in different cities, killing 10 people in the worst bloodshed since a failed April 2002 coup.

Israel and the Question of the National State

By Ran Hal?vi
Ran Hal?vi is a professor at the Centre de Recherches Politiques Raymond-Aron in Paris. This article originally appeared in the French journal Le Debat, published by Editions Gallimard, and appears here with permission. Translated from the French by Robert Howse.

(Go to Print Friendly Version)

he idea of a binational state has repeatedly reared its head throughout the Arab-Israeli conflict. It was already circulating, in various guises, during the 1920s and 30s among the Brit Shalom ("The Alliance for Peace") group, led by Martin Buber and Gershom Scholem, before falling victim to military confrontation. It surfaced in the wake of the Six-Day War, this time under the auspices of the plo, which demanded the dissolution of the "Zionist entity" for the sake of what the official euphemism called "a secular and democratic Palestinian state" where there would be no place for Jews who arrived in Israel after 1948. It was also embraced by some figures of the American literary left. With the signing of the Oslo Accords, it seemed to have vanished for good. But the second Intifada infused it with new life: The resurrection of the binational project is one of the many consequences of the dramatic fiasco at the Camp David negotiations during the summer of 2000.

Today, however, it is not within the Palestinian camp that the idea is most audible, but in the margins of the political debate in Israel and . . . in the writing of Tony Judt (see "Israel: The Alternative," New York Review of Books, October 22, 2003), who adorns it with the attire of novelty and the noble allure of the "unthinkable." It is odd to see this epithet attached to an idea that is almost a hundred years old and which has never ceased to be "thought," despite never having been applied. Here it is back on the agenda.

Mr. Judt, in any case, is neither the first nor the most inspired of the recent travelers in the realm of the unthinkable. The originality of his article is not in the solution he proposes; it consists in the arguments he musters in defense of his proposal and, even more so, in his way of linking the Israeli question, and more generally the question of the nation-state, to the passions of our time and the air we breathe.

A lesser evil?

everal months before his article appeared, in August 2003, the readers of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz had the binational project explained to them by two respected figures of the Israeli left. One of them, Meron Benvenisti, once deputy mayor of Jerusalem responsible for relations with the local Arab population, is one of the men who has toiled most to bring about a reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. An engaging, passionate personality with deep family roots in the Zionist movement, it isn't as if Benvenisti, at the age of 70, had turned into a furious ideologue who favored the disintegration of Israel.

His reflection proceeded from three fundamental observations. The first is that the development of settlements in the West Bank has created an irreversible trend that precludes a return to the situation before 1967. Mr. Benvenisti has been predicting this since the 1980s. At that time, however, the settlements amounted to barely 20,000 persons; today the estimate is 230,000. And that which to him seemed impossible 20 years ago is all the more so today.

From this observation flows a second one: The irreversible situation produced by the extension of the settlements has already created a binational reality which any political solution should take into account. All the more so, given a third observation: that the debacle at Camp David and the bloody confrontations that almost immediately followed have tragically brought Israelis and Palestinians back to their attitudes of 50 years ago, thus consuming all avenues of compromise which they believed they were so close to achieving: "Both sides have in fact given up their mutual recognition, when we have begun again to consider the Palestinians as a terrorist entity, and they to look at us as aliens." In this respect, Mr. Benvenisti shows himself almost as hard on the Israeli left as on the right: "This whole problem of the Arabs annoys the people on the left, is too complicated for them, exposes them to a moral dilemma and a cultural embarrassment: this is why they want this horrible wall . . . which is a violation of this land, why they flee Jerusalem, why they flee the countryside and the landscape to crowd together in Tel Aviv."

In this disenchanting picture, the dominant, decisive fact that prescribes, so to speak, the future is the demographic element: The entanglement of Jewish and Arab populations on the territory that extends from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean renders literally inapplicable the creation of two distinct national states, says Mr. Benvenisti. "Since Zionism excluded the idea of eliminating the Arabs, its dream has become unrealizable. For this land cannot accommodate two sovereignties within it, and will never be able to do so."

In other words, a binational reality prescribes a binational solution. Between the 3.5 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza, the 1.2 million Israeli Arabs, and the some 5 million Jewish Israelis, it is thus necessary to imagine a new framework of cohabitation. Mr. Benvenisti envisages a structure that is both federal and cantonal -- he speaks of "ethnic cantons" -- where each people could lead an autonomous existence. The plan, he admits, is still embryonic and nebulous, but the general direction seems clear. "What I propose doesn't make me rejoice. . . . I cling to the fragile hope that, perhaps, a common purpose may emerge . . .; that we will learn perhaps to live together; that we will understand perhaps that the other is not the devil."

It is not difficult to enumerate the reasons for which this project appears eminently unrealistic. If the cohabitation of two states is truly doomed, how can one believe that a "cantonal federation" would be more viable? If hatred and mutual distrust have indeed attained such depths, the binational solution seems still more chimerical than any other project of separation. As to the question of whether the situation in the Territories should be considered irreversible, a subject of endless debate in Israel, it is by definition an unresolvable question and will remain so until the day when a peace treaty is concluded between the two sides -- or a unilateral decision to leave the Territories is taken -- impelling the Israeli government to face the obviously formidable challenge of evacuating some of the settlements. This question cannot be answered with anything resembling certainty because a clear majority of Israelis, even today in the midst of the Intifada, remain favorable in principle to such an evacuation; because many of the Israelis living beyond the Green Line, essentially for economic reasons, will leave if the Knesset orders their departure; and finally, because the ideology of Greater Israel has collapsed in the wake of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, except for the most obdurate among the settlers -- who will most probably refuse to leave or even resort to the use of arms. In short, the question of the settlements does not depend, not exclusively, on what happens today on the ground; it depends above all on the dynamic of the future peace or disengagement process -- one needs only to observe the trends of Israeli public opinion from Oslo to Camp David -- and on the political resolve it requires. To dissolve the state of Israel into a vague binational project on the uncertain premise that nothing can be done about the settlements is to confuse the problem with the solution -- at an unfathomable price.

But there exists an ultimate reason, in fact the very first one, that makes such an outcome illusory: No one, or almost no one, wants it, either on one side or the other. Those Palestinians who continue to advocate for dialogue with Israel remain committed to the two-state solution, and the most radical who refuse it do not need any arguments besides their radicalism in order to reject any binational idea. In Israel itself, hostility to this approach is one of the rare subjects of national consensus.

A proposition that provokes such a universal rejection is, by definition, politically unrealistic, even assuming it could be viewed as desirable. If, however, Meron Benvenisti continues to brandish it and to explore its premises, it is not because of some sort of academic doggedness, but because he considers it, wrongly in my view, to be a lesser evil -- and an inevitable lesser evil.

The situation

ut for tony judt, a binational denouement is not only inevitable; it is eminently desirable. Doubtless, in the past, the solution of two states was possible, even just -- Mr. Judt is good enough to admit that; but it seems to him today neither feasible nor above all desirable. And it is not only the situation on the ground that leads him to remit the two-state solution to the catalogue of obsolescences. It is the essence of the state of Israel, of what it has always been in reality: It is its very existence; it is the nature of the Zionist project that Tony Judt considers in hindsight problematic -- historically, morally, politically, culturally.

With regard to the situation on the ground, for the years to come Mr. Judt envisages only two plausible scenarios: either the advent of Greater Israel, rid of the Palestinians through ethnic cleansing, or a binational state. Meron Benvenisti believes the dream of Greater Israel to be definitively compromised not only because reality made it impossible, but because he considers the Israelis morally and practically incapable of expelling 3.5 million Palestinians from their homes and lands. Tony Judt, who apparently knows better, does not exclude such a possibility, "either by forcible expulsion or else by starving [the Palestinians] of land and livelihood, leaving them no option but to go into exile": The history of this last quarter of a century, he speculates, proves that ethnic cleansing of this amplitude is by no means "unthinkable."

The appropriations and expropriations perpetrated by the settlers, or even sometimes by successive Israeli governments, are reprehensible and have been severely condemned in Israel itself. The recent destruction of olive fields gives an ominous foretaste of what the most extremist of the settlers are capable of doing. But to criminalize a priori all Israelis by declaring conceivable or even likely a generalized ethnic cleansing of which they would be, if not the direct perpetrators, at least the accomplices, or the helpless bystanders, is to subordinate uncertain facts to a preconceived opinion.

Mr. Judt's use of facts is often inaccurate and nearly always biased. He describes as "heavily armed" the quarter of a million Israelis who reside beyond the Green Line, which makes improbable in his eyes their eventual consent to leave the Territories; many of them "will die -- and kill -- rather than move." The facts, however, present quite a different picture: One part of these supposed fanatics, some 40,000, live in towns adjacent to Jerusalem, which various peace plans, including the Geneva Accords, envisage remaining under Israeli sovereignty; and if one believes the polls, most of the others, as I said, will abandon the territories that are returned to the Palestinians once the Knesset decides they should. How then should one estimate the number of those who would refuse to leave over their -- and others' -- dead bodies? A few hundred, according to some estimates; a few thousand, suggest others -- which is already too many, but clearly not enough for Mr. Judt, who pins that label of irredentist zealotry on a quarter of a million people, including women, children, and the elderly.

He takes the same liberty with the facts in reproaching the Bush administration for alienating Syria and Iran in order to back the interests of the Israeli government. Here is a curious assertion that espouses the thesis of President Assad of Syria, for whom, equally, everything would be rosy between the United States and Syria were it not for the evil Zionist enemy. But it so happens that the American administration -- and the American press, even those most hostile to the war in Iraq -- do not share this view. They accuse Syria of having let hundreds of fedayeen cross the border in order to attack American troops in Iraq; of seeking for years to produce, acquire, and traffic in unconventional, chemical, and biological weapons, as well as long-range missiles; and of supporting and financing not only the Lebanese Hezbollah, but other international terrorist groups. In any case, the change in attitude of Washington towards Damascus owes much more to the effects of September 11 and to the fallout from the invasion of Iraq than to the manipulations Mr. Judt attributes to the Israelis and their supporters on Capitol Hill.

But the problem for Tony Judt is not in bringing Syria to change its ways or Iran to renounce its nuclear program. It is to explain how and why the state of Israel should make itself disappear for the sake of a binational entity.

On the "how," he proves singularly hasty and still more vague than -- if not as candid as -- Meron Benvenisti. The little he says in this regard is disproved by the picture he paints of the situation in the Territories. If the quarter of a million Israelis who live there are as "heavily armed" and radicalized as he contends, how exactly does he see them cohabiting with their Palestinian neighbors in the same state? And how does he envisage the existence of what would become a Jewish minority in a binational entity extending from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean sea? By what miracle can he imagine that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad will give up Jaffa, Haifa, and Safed and convert to the noble principles of liberal democracy? Turgot explained to Louis xvi that with a good educational system, in less than a decade the French people would all become enlightened philosophers. But Turgot, at least, had a plan. Tony Judt contents himself for his hypothetical binational state with a "brave and relentlessly engaged American leadership," the presence of an international peacekeeping force, and the emergence of a new political class uniting (I suppose) Jews and Arabs in the peaceful management of the affairs of the polity.

That is where his meager proposals end, and the least one can say is that they don't come with a guarantee of success. Mr. Judt, who proclaims himself in American circles a disciple of Raymond Aron and who has made a profession of denouncing the irresponsibility of intellectuals -- especially when they happen to be French -- here turns himself into a promoter of the "literary politics" that Aron, precisely, and Tocqueville before him dismissed with utter scorn. Who could believe that on this land, blood-stained by the alternating rhythm of suicide attacks and implacable reprisals, an international force or an American resolve could bring about or maintain the binational utopia born of his fantasy? Who can imagine that one could impose on two peoples a future that no one or almost no one wants? On the basis of what recent experience could one recommend introducing in the war-torn Middle East a project that has failed regularly in Europe and elsewhere? As Mr. Judt's critics have observed, a state where the Jews will be destined to form a minority will not be binational; it will be a national Palestinian state that Jews will leave en masse, assuming that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad will give them the chance.

"Bad for the Jews"?

ut tony judt sticks to his idea and gives his reasons, on which he proves somewhat more expansive. The first and the most extravagant in this extravagant text is contained in one sentence: "The depressing truth is that Israel today is bad for Jews." The conduct of the Jewish state, he writes, affects the way in which others see the Jews; and the increased incidence of attacks to which Jews are subject in Europe and elsewhere "is primarily attributable to misdirected efforts, often by young Muslims, to get back at Israel."

Here as well Mr. Judt is at odds with the facts. It suffices to consider France, where the largest Jewish community in Europe coexists with the largest Muslim population. The brutality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is obviously not foreign to the wave of anti-Jewish attacks that have taken place on our territory, as well as to the assaults, denunciations, and insults that have become almost everyday occurrences and which seemed unimaginable not too long ago. But it is impossible to isolate these dramatic incidents from two factors noted by all fair-minded observers. These outrages, to begin with, are part of a long history of urban violence, not always particularly anti-Semitic, which is related to the difficulties with integration that confront the Muslim population. This violence does not date from the Intifada and is in danger, alas, of not ending with it, for it is aimed at all the French, Jewish or non-Jewish. The Middle East crises certainly made Jews privileged targets, which gave to these attacks, by the nature of things, a new and all the more troubling significance: that in many cases it is fueled by Arab anti-Semitism taught and encouraged -- hence the second factor -- by professional preachers, often of foreign origin. This new type of anti-Semitism -- for a long time misunderstood and underestimated both in Europe and in Israel -- is widespread throughout the Arab world, backed by autocratic and corrupt regimes as an outlet for popular frustration which is meant to draw attention away from their own failings. One can find its echo as well in many Palestinian textbooks which were published not since the outbreak of the second Intifiada, as one might suspect, but during the euphoric period that followed the Oslo Accords.

The anti-Semitic incidents that have multiplied in France and elsewhere over the past three years are evidently related to the current conflict, but they are equally attributable to frustrations and prejudices that have nothing to do with it and predate it as well. In any case, when one burns down a synagogue or attacks a Jew in the street for sins attributed to other Jews, these are not "misdirected" acts (to employ Mr. Judt's euphemism) but the very essence of anti-Semitism.

Still Mr. Judt doesn't let up: Israel is bad for the Jews. Bad for the Jews? One may hope this little enormity does not haunt him for long. On what basis is this assertion grounded? To which Jews exactly is Mr. Judt referring here? The Argentinean Jews who recently emigrated to Israel? The million Jews who left the former Soviet Union, where they experienced post-communist anti-Semitism totally unconnected to the fate of the Middle East? The mass of Jews expelled from Arab states during the past half-century? American Jews, whose very support of Israel fuels Mr. Judt with vapors of indignation? And, besides, if Israel is bad for the Jews, can Mr. Judt be so sure that its disappearance will be better for them?

The only valid truth that emerges from this allegation is that Israel is bad for at least one Jew. And since this country obviously poses a problem for Tony Judt, rather than work for its "conversion" -- his use of this term is revealing -- to a binational entity, it would be simpler and infinitely less costly for Mr. Judt to cultivate his own disagreement rather than project onto the totality of his fellow Jews his own moral discomfort.

An unjust anachronism?

ut his preference for a binational solution, to be fair, cannot be reduced to the frustrations he seems to suffer from the bickering about Israel in New York, or the arrogance of the neoconservatives, or the sympathy, which he deems blameworthy, of the Bush administration towards the Sharon government. Besides being "bad for the Jews," Mr. Judt explains, Israel represents an historical anachronism, founded, what is more, on an original injustice. Several nation-states rose from the ashes of the old empires on the eve of World War i, and their very first action was "to set about privileging their national, `ethnic' majority . . . at the expense of inconvenient local minorities, who were consigned to second-class status." The creation of the state of Israel not only reproduced this offense, but posed the additional difficulty of having arrived "too late" in a world where borders are open, democracies are pluralist, and there are multiple "elective identities." This late-blooming nation-state thus embodies the double sin, according to Tony Judt, of both injustice and anachronism.

The legitimacy of the Zionist enterprise was, we know, contested from the outset. But when it comes to legitimacy, it is not ideological posturing but history that is the final judge. The history of Israel's creation, which is still being written, has not yet produced its moral balance sheet -- and thus is incommensurate with the experience of nation-states whose security has been established for centuries. Tony Judt does not contest the legitimacy of the French nation on account of the Frankish invasions, or that of England by stigmatizing the armed expedition of William the Conqueror. But he haggles over Israel's legitimacy for its supposedly anachronistic character. As Mark Lilla recently noted, as if replying to Judt in anticipation, "all political foundings, without exception, are morally ambiguous enterprises, and Israel has not escaped these ambiguities. Two kinds of fools or bigots refuse to see this: those who deny or explain away the Palestinian suffering caused by Israel's founding, and those who treat that suffering as the unprecedented consequence of a uniquely sinister ideology."

The sufferings of the Palestinians, which are not all attributable to Israel, and the condition of the Israeli Arabs do not validate a wholesale denial of the Jewish state but rather impose obligations, moral and political, upon any Israeli government, whether of the right or the left, on which it should be judged -- and, if necessary, reprimanded.

The "post-national" perspective

et tony judt proposes to make Israel disappear not only for what its government does or does not do, but for what it apparently is: an anachronistic nation-state in a world where the nation-state is doomed to obsolescence. One could object that Israel is not the only or even the latest nation-state born since the end of World War ii; the United Nations directory is full of them. Why then confer on this particular state the "elective" honor of disappearing first? I suppose the reasons cited above are explanation enough.

But, in fact, what is the source of this odd certitude concerning the anachronism, the obsolescence, of the nation-state? Mr. Judt's American critics have brought to his attention that France, the cradle of the nation-state, is still around and that perhaps one should begin there the undertaking of the nation-state's obliteration. I am astonished that they had to look across the ocean for material proof that the national state still exists. It would have sufficed to invite Tony Judt to look out his own window. If some had doubts about the overwhelming vigor of the American nation-state, the aftermath of September 11 ought to have opened their eyes. Many Americans (and many French) are obsessed by the gripping weight in American culture of multiculturalism, communitarianism, feminism, rights talk, and the soft tyranny of political correctness. But they are much less aware of the intangible reality that circumscribes these phenomena and transcends them without ever bending to their influence: precisely the framework of the nation. The plurality of elective identities, which Mr. Judt takes to be exclusive of the nation-state, can flourish freely in the United States, as in Israel for that matter, precisely because these identities remain strictly subordinate to the sovereignty of the nation-state: They prevent neither America nor Israel from affirming and consolidating blatantly a national identity, from resorting to military force, and from allowing individual and collective differences to unfold. In both countries, all the invocations of rights and all the particular claims end up giving in to political sovereignty, which remains intrinsically superior to any other claim of legitimacy.

In other words more abstract, here are two living examples, America and Israel, where democracy, the nation, and the sovereign state are closely linked. And if so many Europeans today have a hard time acknowledging this "incongruity," and a harder time still putting up with it, this is because they tend increasingly to detach democracy from the nation and to persuade themselves, against all the evidence, that democracy does not need either the nation or the state in order to flourish.

The wars of the twentieth century have fatally brought the nation into disrepute, and this process has only grown further with European integration. We do not cherish the nation anymore, but we are unable to abandon it because we do not know how and with what to adequately replace it. Political philosophy does not provide us with any practical alternative: neither the tribe, nor the empire, nor the city. Even Europe disconcerts us: It has taken only one plenary session of the Council, enlarged to 25 states -- only one! -- to make us discover, belatedly, that the European machine cannot offer an adequate substitute for our disaffection with the nation. But this disaffection remains so deeply rooted that many Europeans are less and less inclined to understand those nation-states which are not afflicted by our doubts, and still less to tolerate the use these states make of their monopoly on legitimate force. The detestation of George W. Bush or of Ariel Sharon does not confine itself to what in their policies could be seen as reprehensible -- and God knows they may be, in certain respects. Rather it is combined with a sentiment of alienation and frustration in the presence of such fully assumed expressions of national sovereignty -- this still-vital constellation of the nation-state and democracy, which so many of us are inclined to disconnect and even to oppose.

Israel offers a mirror, an exemplary case in which we can contemplate and realize vicariously our schizophrenic relationship towards the national question. It is no accident that the more virulent critics, who often happen to be those of the United States as well, are to be found in the ranks of the antiglobalization movement. The type of postnational nihilism they inscribed on their banner contributed to the depoliticization of their approach to politics in general and the Middle East in particular: Israel, in other words, is that nation-state which most immediately vexes their planetary humanism.

Mr. Judt's article provides a more reasoned illustration of the same phenomenon: He wants to put an end to the anachronism of the Israeli nation-state, which offends his sensibility, without putting any practical content into his binational fantasy. He dresses a subjective opinion in the outward form of a political discussion. But I fear that reality will shun his moral ultimatum.

he only political option available to Israel today is dictated neither by divine providence nor by its military superiority, and not even by the good or bad will of the Palestinians, but by the obdurate ruling of demographics: If Israel wishes to remain a Jewish nation-state, it must retreat, unilaterally if necessary, and the sooner the better, from most of the territories occupied since 1967, including certain Jerusalem neighborhoods. In so doing -- and on this, Meron Benvenisti is quite right -- Israel will nevertheless not avoid a certain binational reality, since 20 percent (and soon 25 percent) of those living within the Israeli territory are Arabs. Although they participate formally in democratic life, in electing and being elected to the Knesset -- a privilege their Arab brothers in neighboring countries have not yet savored -- these full citizens -- notionally but not in every respect and always full -- experience all the ambiguities and difficulties of constituting an Arab minority within a Jewish state. When asked, they express at the same time their natural attachment to the Palestinian cause and their refusal to live in the future state of Palestine: too Israeli to be fully Palestinian, too Palestinian to be simply Israeli. It is with them that Israel must urgently renew a dialogue broken three years ago. While there is still time.

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THE IRANIAN PEOPLE have a long and sophisticated tradition of expressing their views and their feelings, whether through art, literature, film, news media or the political process. Today the courageous voices of the Iranian people are being stifled as they call for their rights, beliefs and needs to be respected. In response, the non-elected elements of the Iranian Government hierarchy are rebuffing these calls and attempting to extinguish the voices. Recent experience shows an upswing in repression by the regime, but also a determined resilience by the Iranian people as they struggle to define their own future and exercise all their human rights. For every voice that is silenced, more call out for freedom.DEPARTMENT OF STATE PUBLICATION NUMBER 11140Bureau of Democracy, Human Ritghts, and Laborwith the Bureau of Public AffairsApril 2004Cover: Picture of political prisoner's hand with the word "Freedom" written on it. AP Photo
45 Zahra's death was first deemed natural by Iranian officials, but international outrage, spurred in Canada by Zahra's son, Stephen, helped to bring about an official Iranian investigation into the incident.
The investigation clearly implicated the involvement of government
officials in the death of Kazemi. A junior official in the Ministry of Information has been arrested, but as of publication the trial had not begun. There remain widespread suspicions, voiced inside and outside Iran, that the arrest of this junior official could be part of a cover-up aimed at protecting higher-level government officials. Reporters Without Borders also has expressed concern about the slow pace of the impending trial and the prosecutors' lack of access to materials
concerning the case. "Unfortunately, Mrs. Zahra Kazemi's death was caused by the heedless disregard for Iranian law. When there are individuals or groups who consider themselves above the law, incidents such as this will occur. In the case that we will present, in addition to asking for the punishment of the murderer, in view of the public's knowledge of what happened, I will try to ensure that there will not be another Zahra Kazemi."- Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Attorney representing the Kazemi familyIran's Novel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi, holds a pair of scales during her first press conference
in Tehran after having won the Nobel Peace Prize, October 15, 2003. EPA PhotoA VOICE EXTINGUISHED- Zahra Kazemi"They have broken my nose and my thumb...and they have broken my toes, too." - Zahra Kazemi, as reported in the Washington Post On June 23, 2003, outside the notorious
Evin Prison in Tehran, police took the Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi into custody under suspicion
of espionage. Some three weeks later she died in a Tehran hospital from head injuries suffered from a violent beating, most likely at the hands of her jailers. The circumstances of her death are unclear, but the story that unfolds is one that illustrates the grave human rights situation that exists in Iran today. Although Zahra Kazemi was never charged with a crime, she would spend 77 hours in a police interrogation that included serious physical abuse. According
to a subsequent Iranian investigation, Zahra began complaining of headaches and bleeding from the nose three days after her detention; she then fell into a coma and was transferred to a hospital where she eventually died. Almost two weeks after Zahra had first been detained, her mother,
Ezzet Kazemi, was summoned to Evin Prison and notified that her daughter had suffered a "brain stroke" and was now in a coma. After Zahra died from her injuries, it was agreed by Ezzet and Iranian officials
in the presence of the Canadian ambassador that Zahra's body be repatriated to Canada. But the body did not make it to Canada. Iranian officials pressured Ezzet to change her decision, and Zahra was eventually buried in Shiraz, Iran, thereby preventing an independent
autopsy.On Monday, August 25, 2003, Iran's criminal court finally admitted
that Kasemi's death was "intentional
murder" by two interrogators
from the intelligence service during her custody in the Evin prison in Tehran. EPA Photo
6 7
VOICES PERSECUTED- The Baha'i Faith The Constitution of Iran establishes Islam as the official religion, specifically that of the Ja'fari (Twelver) Shi'ism doctrine. While the Constitution also recognizes other Islamic denominations, as well as Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians, followers of minority religions can be subject to harassment, intimidation and discrimination. The freedom to practice a religion not recognized by the Constitution is actively restricted by the Iranian Government, both in law and in practice. Members of unrecognized minority faiths are subject to varying degrees of officially sanctioned discrimination, particularly in the areas of employment, education and housing. The Baha'is are not recognized as a legitimate religious minority in Iran and, in fact, Iran's Association for Press Freedom spokesman Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, IAPF head Mohsen Kadivar and Human Rights attorney Sayf Zadeh attend a protest gathering of Iranian journalists on August 8, 2003 at the office of IAPF in Tehran. EPA PhotoVOICES SUPPRESSED- Attacks on the Free PressThe independent media in Iran is under constant attack. According to Reporters Without Borders, at least ten journalists were in Iranian prisons at the end of 2003. There is a clear pattern of interference and harassment of the press by government officials with dozens of reporters, editors and publishers arrested and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, harsh physical punishments, excessive fines and suspensions
of journalistic privileges. A number of cases illustrate the types of abuses prevalent in Iran today:v As many as 85 newspapers, including 41 dailies, have been closed since the passage of the 1995 Press Law that established a supervisory board and court that has authority to impose various penalties, including closure and suspension of operating privileges.v In December 2002, Ali-Reza Jabari, a translator and freelance contributor to several independent newspapers, was arrested in his Tehran office by plainclothes policemen and taken to his home for an immediate search of the residence. Jabari was sentenced
to three years in prison and 253 lashes. Before his arrest, Jabari was quoted in a Persian-language newspaper in Canada expressing critical opinions of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.v Taghi Rahmani, a journalist for Omid-e-Zangan, has been imprisoned since June 14, 2003, and has been subjected to extensive periods of time in solitary confinement. According to a Human Rights Watch report released in January 2004, Rahmani has yet to be charged with a crime.v Reza Alijani, editor in chief of Iran-e-Farda, was jailed in June 2003 but has not been charged with a crime. Much of his imprisonment has been spent incommunicado.v Hoda Saber, managing editor of Iran-e-Farda, was arrested in June 2003 but has also been held without charge since his arrest, much of it incommunicado.
8 9
the Baha'i community is periodic arrest and release with charges still pending, so that the Baha'is are subject to re-arrest at any time.v Reports suggest explicit government policies exist to harass and disenfranchise members of the Baha'i faith. One policy issued by the Iranian Ministry of Justice in 2001 directed government officials to restrict the educational opportunities of Baha'is by expelling them from public and private universities and purposely
enrolling members of the Baha'i faith in ideologically stringent schools.v In response to being denied admittance to both public and private universities, members of the Baha'i faith have organized their own educational system. However, the Iranian Government
has used harassment and intimidation to discourage its operation, including raids in 1998 of more than 500 Baha'i homes and offices affiliated with the Baha'i educational system. These raids included the arrest of numerous faculty and staff.v Through discrimination in the employment market and outright
seizure of private property, the economic well-being of the Baha'is is in serious peril.VOICES OF DEMOCRACY- The Political Struggle"Our dream country is one where human rights are respected, where people aren't sent to prison and tortured for their ideas, for their writing, for their work. That's our dream country."- Supporter of imprisoned student leader Amir Fakhravar, anonymously interviewed for a PBS Frontline report. The political situation in Iran is a story of two drastically different
worlds occupying the same reality. Throughout Iran there is now widespread alienation from the corrupt, oppressive policies of the government that have consistently failed to address the Iranian people's yearning for liberty and an accountable, democratic system of government that will pursue policies that improve their daily lives. were defined by the government as a political "sect" with suspicion of counterrevolutionary intentions. But according to a report published jointly by the UN Commission on Human Rights and the Baha'i International Community, the tenets of the Baha'i faith require its members to be obedient to their government and to avoid partisan politics, subversive activities and all forms of violence. Still this community
has been the target of systematic mistreatment by the Iranian Government since 1979 and is denied a majority of the basic human rights afforded others within the society, including other religious minorities.v According to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the U.S., more than 200 members of the Baha'i faith have been killed in Iran since 1979, with 15 additional missing and presumed
dead. As of this time, there are reportedly four Baha'is in prison for practicing their faith, with sentences ranging from four years to life in prison.v The government has continued to keep a small number of Baha'is arbitrarily imprisoned, some at risk of execution, at any given time. Another policy employed to harass and intimidate Farzad Khosein, expatriate violinist and composer and member of the Baha'i faith, left Iran with his family to avoid religious persecution. AP Photo
10 11
8,200 submissions for candidacy, including those of more than 80 reformists currently holding Majlis seats, effectively limiting
the democratic alternatives available to Iranian voters. Despite threats of an election boycott, resignations by some reformist officials and the urgent passage of a law barring undocumented
the Guardian Council only reinstated
a fraction of the disqualified candidates. Conservative candidates did not face a reformist opponent for 132 of 290 seats. The decision of the Guardian Council to silence reformist voices in Parliament was accompanied by the culmination of a four-year campaign against the reformist press. On the eve of the elections, Chief Prosecutor Mortazavi
added the last two reformist newspapers to a list of dozens that his "Press Court" had ordered closed since 2000. In addition, the hard-line judiciary sealed an office belonging to a leading reformist party on the night before the election. In today's Iran, the political aspirations of the public for a greater role in charting the direction of their society are only tolerated when they coincide with the wishes of entrenched conservative interests."Through these massive disqualifications, they (hard-liners) want only their own thinking to control the next parliament. This will be no more an election, but an appointment of the next parliament
by hard-liners."- Mohsen Mirdamadi, Member of Parliament Ebrahim Yazdi, head of Iran's Liberal Freedom Movement, addresses a reformist meeting January 12, 2004. He was one of more than 2,000 candidates nationwide eliminated by Iranian hardliners from running in parliamentary elections February 20. EPA PhotoIn June 1997 and again in 2001, a decisive election victory ushered President Mohammed Khatami into office under the auspices of a reformist agenda. The realization of this reform movement has been actively stifled by hard-line elements within the government, most specifically by the non-elected Guardian Council, a board of clerical leaders and legal scholars. Reformist and dissident voices within the government and society have been repressed and harassed by government
and quasi-government factions under the influence of the hard-line clerics. The Guardian Council has the ability to review and block legislation passed by the Majlis, or parliament. In August 2002, the Guardian Council vetoed two bills passed by the Majlis seeking to enhance the powers of President Khatami. Various paramilitary forces, such as the so-called Basijis, gangs of men known as the Ansar-
e Hezbollah (Helpers of the Party of God), and most recently a "morality force" formed in July 2002, have been employed as tools of repression within Iranian society. These vigilante groups use intimidation,
threats and physical abuse to quell dissent and harass journalists, demonstrators and members of the public who voice opinions that are seen as threatening to the power of the religious elite. Eventually, the reformist movement's inability to realize its agenda contributed to the erosion of the Iranian people's confidence in the government institutions.On February 20, 2004, elections were held for the 290-seat Parliament
in Iran. In a move to diminish pro-reformist re-election chances,
the Guardian Council disqualified approximately one-third of the Wives of dissident reformists protesting against the closed trial of 15 prominent political dissidents outside the court building in Tehran, January 2002. AP Photo/ Hasan Sarbakhshian
12 13
Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi praised Iran's new child custody law and termed it a great victory for women after more than two decades of resistance. AP Photoof dissident opinions and democracy promotion. She has courageously
fought for equitable and just treatment for women in Iranian society, and she has also helped to organize efforts to publicize and alleviate the harsh conditions of "street children" in Iran."Any person who pursues human rights in Iran must live with fear from birth to death, but I have learned to overcome my fear." - Shirin Ebadi Ebadi has shown a noble and inspiring disregard for her own well-being by representing individuals or the families of people who have suffered from violence and repression in Iran. In 2000, she was arrested and accused of distributing a videotape that implicated prominent hard-line leaders of instigating attacks against advocates of reform. She received a suspended sentence and a professional ban. She was then detained after attending a conference in Berlin on the Iranian reform movement.Ebadi provided legal representation for highly politicized and sensitive
cases, like the case of Ezzat Ebrahim-Nejad, one of the students killed during the 1999 Tehran University
protests by vigilante groups operating under the influence of hard-line clerics. She also served as the attorney for the family of Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar, prominent political activists who were stabbed to death in 1998 by "rogue" elements within the Intelligence Ministry. Shirin Ebadi's designation as the recipient of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize recognizes the struggle of Iranian citizens to have a voice in determining their own future."In Iran, the demand for democracy is strong and broad as we saw when thousands gathered to welcome home Shirin Ebadi, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The regime in Tehran must heed the democratic demands of the Iranian people, or lose its last claim to legitimacy." - U.S. President George W. BushNovember 6, 2003A VOICE OF HOPE- Shirin Ebadi"Shirin Ebadi has been a courageous human rights advocate in Iran for many years, and we couldn't be more excited that she has received this extraordinary honor. The Nobel Committee has sent a powerful message to the Iranian Government that serious human
rights violations must end. We hope they hear that message."- Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch"As a lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer and activist, she has spoken out clearly and strongly in her country, Iran and far beyond." - The Norwegian Nobel Committee Shirin Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2003 for her life-long campaign to protect vulnerable and persecuted groups within Iranian society. Since being forced from her position as the president of the city court of Tehran, she has used her legal expertise to promote and protect some of the most basic and necessary human
rights. Most specifically, she has provided legal representation to many activists who are the targets of government harassment because
The intersections of Tehran were jammed with cars honking their
horns in support of the demonstrations. Iranian Government offi cials
reported approximately 4,000 protestors arrested and demonstrations
planned for the following month were banned. No reliable sources
were available on the number of injured, but there were numerous
reports of violent clashes between students and paramilitary groups in
the streets of Tehran.
Youth represents the future of Iran. Yet the regime's vision of the
future clashes with the dreams of young Iranians, who have the most
to gain or lose. Their continued support for reform through whatever
peaceful means available sends a clear message. They will make their
voices heard.
A family on a moped hold up the Iranian fl ag as tens of thousands of people
gather during a rally outside Tehran University, July 1999. AP Photo
"The United States supports the Iranian people's
aspirations to live in freedom, enjoy their God-
given rights, and determine their own destiny."
U.S. President George W. Bush
February 24, 2004
VOICES OF THE FUTURE- The Aspirations of Youth
"We want more freedom... For 25 years we have lived without
any freedom. We want social freedom, economic freedom and
political freedom."
- Mahmoud, protestor quoted in New York Times
Throughout modern history, young people have played a promi-
nent role in the call for democracy. Iran is no different. Students have
mobilized to demand greater freedoms and to support reform ef-
forts by the Khatami Government, the Majlis and individuals willing
to speak the truth. A free media, a fair electoral system and public
debate typically serve as the outlets to express the desires and disap-
pointments of the civic minded. These outlets have been systemati-
cally shut, leaving large student demonstrations in the streets as the
only way to voice frustration and anger in Iran.
In June 2003, a large protest began in Tehran involving university
students in response to a rumor alleging the possible privatization
of the university system and the introduction of a tuition system.
The protests grew as nightly gatherings spread off campus and the
tone of the protests became more political as the students and sym-
pathetic neighbors began to use the public gathering as a forum to
decry the current political situation and demand democratic reforms. An Iranian student chants
slogans at a gathering mark-
ing the annual Student
Day at Tehran University,
December 7, 2003. About
1,500 pro-reform students
rallied, saying freedom was
the biggest demand of Irani-
ans 25 years after the Islamic
revolution that had promised
it. AP Photo

What About Iran?

By Jim Hoagland
Sunday, April 11, 2004; Page B07

Americans can be forgiven for asking of Iraqi Shiites the famous and ill-advised question Sigmund Freud asked about women: What do they want? A year ago this weekend Shiite crowds cheered as U.S. troops drove into Baghdad and toppled statues of Saddam Hussein. This springtime, Shiite gangs in southern Iraq are shooting at their liberators.

That is only part of what would intrigue Dr. Freud. The Shiites are just as justified in asking his question of the Bush administration, which has shown a psychological unwillingness to accept two major policy corollaries of its swift military victory in Baghdad.

The defeat of the Baathists changed much in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. But Washington has not used that victory and the year that has passed to seek a change in relations with -- or regional strategy toward -- Iran. The administration has chosen not to choose when it comes to the nation that is Iraq's most important and most dangerous neighbor, a major supporter of international terrorism and the only country ruled by a Shiite majority.

Change on Iran should have been the first clear policy corollary of regime change in Iraq. But there was either no point or no way to accommodate Tehran's large stakes in post-Saddam Iraq, U.S. policymakers concluded. Neither was it possible to prevent Iran's ruling Shiite clerics from influencing events and attitudes in the large Shiite population centers in Baghdad and southern Iraq.

Instead the administration left U.S. policy on Iran in a steadily deepening limbo: Once a member of the "axis of evil," Iran became the embarrassing, unaddressed missing link in the Bush administration's bold ambitions to transform Iraq and to becalm the world's most volatile and treacherous region. Iran slipped into the "too hard" file.

That is understandable, if unforgivable. No one has a sure-fire policy for dealing with the theocratic state founded on the ruins of the Persian empire. France, Germany and Britain have proved this in trying to talk the ayatollahs out of developing nuclear weapons. Despite clear and repeated Iranian lying to them, the Europeans persevere.

"In the end, we may wind up only slowing them down -- hopefully significantly -- in what they intended to do all along," a European participant in this effort told me recently. "But given the lack of any other workable option, this is worth doing."

U.S.-Iranian discussions on cooperating (or at least on not crossing wires) in Iraq would have been difficult to arrange and carry out. It would not have been as simple as the indirect but useful dialogue American diplomats had with the Iranians on post-Taliban Afghanistan, where Iranian interests and opportunities are substantially less than in Iraq.

But any serious effort in that direction was smothered in its crib by familiar hardliner vs. softliner debates within the administration -- and the less-remarked-on but equally crucial absence of a clear U.S. diplomatic strategy for consolidating and converting American battlefield prowess into sustainable political gains abroad. It is difficult to fit Iran into a strategy if there is no strategy to begin with.

Instead, policy has consisted of occasional growls from senior Pentagon officials warning Iran (and its quasi-surrogate Syria) to halt infiltration into Iraq, followed quickly by public assurances from the State Department that the growls do not represent threats of military action. Even Freud could not explain the Rumsfeldian-Powellian Syndrome that afflicts Bush foreign policy.

The effects of indecision on Iran could have been minimized if the administration had embraced the second corollary of changing regimes and establishing a parliamentary democracy in Iraq: Representatives of the Shiite majority had to become the most important consistent political partners for the United States in the first phases of constructing a new Iraq.

But the Coalition Provisional Authority leadership in Baghdad -- which was deeply suspicious of Tehran -- failed to convince Iraq's Shiites that their bottomless insecurities (stirred greatly by the betrayal of their 1991 anti-Saddam uprising by the first Bush administration) and political aspirations were understood in Washington. This left room for the bloody rabble rousing of Moqtada Sadr and the self-protective mysticism of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to cast doubts on American intentions and commitment.

Washington and the CPA have been running behind the growing radicalization of Iraq's Shiites over the past three months. Iran's ayatollahs and their agents may well have played a role in that deterioration and the current upheaval. It is impossible to know at this point.

One thing is clear: Washington did not enunciate or pursue an Iran policy that would have prevented Tehran from doing its worst or would have encouraged it to do its best. That is the price of limbo.

? 2004 The Washington Post Company

April 11, 2004 -- EXCLUSIVE
Iran's Revolutionary Guards and the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah are secretly providing outlawed Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr with money, training and logistical support for his violent campaign against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, The Post has learned.
U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials said last night there is evidence that Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the security services loyal to Iran's hard-line religious leader Ayatollah al Khameini, have funneled as much as $80 million into Shiite charities established by al-Sadr's influential family that have been diverted to fund his fanatic al-Mahdi militia.
Intelligence sources also said operatives from the Lebanese Hezbollah, a Shiite terror group created by Iran, have trained 800 to 1,200 al-Mahdi fighters in guerrilla warfare and terrorist techniques at three camps in Iran near the Iraq border.
Al-Sadr's group is also believed to have been recently provided with 800 satellite phones and new radio broadcasting equipment by diplomats at the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad, sources told The Post.
Al-Sadr's fanatics, drawn from poor Shiite urban slums in Iraq, have been battling U.S. forces throughout the week and took control of the cities of Kufa, Kut and most of Najaf.
Bush administration officials said the strength of al-Sadr's rag-tag al-Mahdi militia took U.S. military commanders by surprise and that intelligence detailing active support from Iran and Hezbollah for his violent uprising has been a simmering issue within the administration.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an interview with WNIS-AM Tuesday that al-Sadr "is reputed to have connections with Iran."

Iraq: What Will Be Iran's Role In The Future?
By Golnaz Esfandiari

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, Iran has frequently stressed its desire for good ties with Iraq. Iran was one of the first countries in the region last year to recognize the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. But not everyone fully believes Tehran's public pronouncements. The United States, for one, has accused Iran of meddling in Iraq's internal affairs. What are Iran's intentions in Iraq and what role will the country play in Iraq's future?

Prague, 8 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Iran did not mourn the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003 at the hands of a U.S.-led military offensive. Iran is the only country against which Iraq has used chemical weapons.

Iraq's invasion of Iran in the 1980s sparked a near decade-long war that cost millions of lives.

Since the fall of Saddam a year ago, the Iranian government has frequently expressed its readiness to participate in rebuilding Iraq. But U.S. officials repeatedly accuse Iran of interfering in Iraq's affairs.

Speaking yesterday, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said: "We know the Iranians have been meddling [in Iraq] and it is unhelpful to have neighboring countries meddling in the affairs of Iraq, and I think the Iraqi people are not going to want to be dominated by a neighboring country, any neighboring country. No country wants to be dominated by its neighbors."

Analysts have widely differing views on Iran's intentions in Iraq.

Davoud Hermidas Bavand is a professor of international law in Tehran. Bavand sees Iran's influence as largely positive.

"Iran's intention is developing a neighborly relationship with Iraq in different areas in economic and commercial term as well as in political context," Bavand said.

Bavand added that the two countries should settle several open issues relating to the war, such as compensation and border issues.

Michael Rubin, a resident fellow at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, a Washington policy institute, recently returned from eight months in Iraq. He sees things differently.

"I believe the Iranians have bad intentions with regard to Iraq," Rubin said. "Of course, Iran wanted to see Saddam Hussein gone, but they don't want to see a stable democratic country on their border all the more so because if the clerics in Iraq have freedom of speech then [they] can challenge the religious legitimacy not just the political legitimacy of the Iranian hierarchy."

Other observers say Iran does not have a consistent policy toward Iraq. Various groups are said to have different agendas, while the government has pursued closer ties in some specific policy areas.

Alireza Nourizadeh is a London-based journalist and the director of the Center for Arab-Iranian Studies (CAIS). Nourizadeh said, indeed, different factions in Iran have different aims.

"We have to consider the different factions with their own agendas in Iraq -- for instance the so-called conservatives. They do not want to see a secular state in Iraq. The reformers, of course, want the Iraqi experience to end with success because they believe that if there is a democratic government in Iraq at the end of the day it's going to help their status in Iran and it's going to help them to have more influence in the power struggle," Nourizadeh said.

Some observers say Iran is playing a double game in Iraq, being helpful in some areas while causing problems in others. Bavand, however, said ultimately a stable and peaceful Iraq is in Iran's interest.

"That's possible, but I do not think it's the general policy of the government as a whole. There is no doubt in Iran there are different factions which assume different positions regarding Afghanistan and possibly in Iraq, but if we take into consideration the general position or a strategy of a country, I do believe Iran has no choice but to adapt a positive view toward the socio-political situation in Iraq and work out for the better relationship with the future government of Iraq," Bavand said.

The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority -- which heads Iraq's interim government -- appears wary of expanding religious ties between Iraq and Iran. Iran is a Shi'a Muslim state -- the same sect of Islam shared by around 60 percent of Iraq's population. The next government in Baghdad will most probably be controlled by Shi'as.

Added to that, the U.S. is now struggling to contain a deadly Shi'a insurgency in parts of the capital Baghdad, as well as in the south and east of the country.

Some reports have gone so far as to accuse Iran of actively supporting the leader of the insurgency, Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Al-Sadr is a follower of Ayatollah Kazem al-Haeri, a conservative cleric based in Iranian religious center of Qom. Al-Sadr visited Iran in June and was received by Iran's influential former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

The belief that al-Sadr is supported by Iran is shared by many people within and outside of Iraq -- but so far no hard evidence about such support has been made public.

Rubin from the American Enterprise Institute said that, in his personal opinion, Sadr receives more than spiritual support from Iran.

"On 5 April, when the problems broke out with regard to Muqtada al-Sadr and the coalition forces in Iraq, it was Ayatollah al-Haeri who issued threats to the American presence in Iraq. Muqtada al-Sadr doesn't have a lot of grassroots support. He's got some supporters, but I just came back from eight months in Iraq. I watched as Muqtada al-Sadr chartered buses, gave [people] hot meals and such. That takes money, as does Muqtada al-Sadr's radio station and such like this, and they're getting that money through Iran."

The Iranian government has been careful in its comments on the insurgency. While keeping its distance from al-Sadr, Iran expressed strong "regret" [5 April] over the deaths and injuries caused by clashes between al-Sadr's militants and coalition forces.

Some observers point out that Iran has closer ties with one of al-Sadr's rivals, Abdul al-Aziz al-Hakim, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council and head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

One clear area of mutual benefit is in economic and commercial relations. In recent months, Iraqi dignitaries have made several officials visits to Tehran. Both sides have talked about future plans such as the building of a cross-border oil pipeline.

Nourizadeh said better economic ties are strongly in Iran's interest.

"I think if the Iranians pursue a policy of supporting the new government, if they stop intervening in Iraq's internal affairs, then I'm sure we're going to have very good relations and then Iranians can use their influence in order to bring stability to Iraq and prosperity to Iraq's people and they can participate in rebuilding Iraq," Nourizadeh said.
AL-SADR A LONGSTANDING THREAT TO COALITION, IRAQI STABILITY. Power-hungry cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's actions over the past year have been nothing short of schizophrenic, for lack of a better term. After being linked to the assassination of Ayatollah al-Khoi, which some media characterized as a "power struggle" and alternatively, as the "settling of an old score" between the two men, al-Sadr established his Imam Al-Mahdi Army in July to "maintain peace and security in Iraq and protect the leaders and religious authorities [at the Hawzah Al-Ilmiyah Shi'ite seminary] in Al-Najaf and elsewhere."

Al-Sadr frequently referred to himself as an "enemy" of the U.S. but maintained for several months that his army would not resist the U.S. presence in Iraq, contending, "It is only to maintain security." He claimed that the army would not be armed, and would not be funded, but later statements by him and his followers contended that Iraqis would donate money to the army, and will bring their own guns. As recently as one month ago, Shaykh Hasan al-Zarkani, the chief of al-Sadr's Information Office and an aide to the cleric claimed in a statement to London's "Al-Hayat" that the Al-Mahdi Army was not an armed militia, the daily reported on 11 March. "We are an ideological army, not armed militias," he said. "All we have are no more than small guns that do not constitute an army. We have no financial resources, manpower, training camps, or any facilities to build an army."

Last October, al-Sadr declared that he had established an Islamic state in Iraq. He claimed to have established ministries of Awqaf (religious endowments), culture, finance, foreign affairs, information, interior, justice, and the "ministry for the propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice," Al-Jazeera reported on 11 October. His followers subsequently took over two buildings in Al-Najaf for al-Sadr's Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry. Three days later, he told reporters that his government had found "credibility and support" abroad.

A self-described enemy of the United States, the cleric appeared to appeal for better relations between his group and the U.S. in November, when he called on the coalition to "allow me to attend your meetings, seminars, camps, and churches. I am looking forward to this, and I have amicable feelings toward you. The Iraqis only want good for the Americans. Iraq's only enemy is destructive Saddam and his followers," (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 7 November 2003).

More recently, al-Sadr has rejected any role for the United Nations in Iraq. He contended during a Friday-prayer sermon on 23 January that the United Nations is no more qualified than Iraqi religious authorities when it comes to running elections in Iraq, Al-Manar television reported the same day, and called on the religious establishment to oversee national elections there. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

SHI'ITE LEADERS DIVIDED OVER RECENT VIOLENCE. Iraqi Shi'ite leaders have taken a variety of positions in recent days over the evolving confrontation between al-Sadr supporters and coalition forces. Sadr al-Din al-Qabbanji, an official of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), said on 5 April that the religious authorities, the Al-Hawzah Shi'ite seminary, and the Iraqi Governing Council reject a confrontation with the occupation forces. "SCIRI's official stand is that it does not approve of the escalation against the occupation troops. At the same time, SCIRI condemns the occupation troops' provocative actions," al-Qabbanji said.

Iraqi Governing Council member and Iraqi National Accord head Iyad Allawi said on 6 April that al-Sadr's actions were harming the country. "There is a radical force trying to harm the country, and this force has become known to all, it includes Muqtada al-Sadr and the group around him," KUNA quoted Allawi as saying. "We call on Muqtada to remain calm to avoid bloodshed, given that he belongs to an honorable family which offered martyrs," Allawi said, in a reference to al-Sadr's father Iraqi Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr and Muqtada's two brothers who were allegedly murdered in 1999 at the hands of the Hussein regime. Allawi told Al-Arabiyah television one day earlier that the Governing Council had discussed Iraq unrest at length and reached decisions that would "greatly mitigate" the current tension in Iraq. He did not say what those decisions were however.

Meanwhile, Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Taqi al-Mudarrisi issued a statement on his website ( on 4 April blaming the coalition for the surge in violence. "We have repeatedly warned the occupation troops against delaying the elections and against the attempts to impose ready-made laws on Iraq," he said. Muhammad al-Musawi of the Islamic Action Organization in Al-Najaf told Al-Jazeera on 4 April that his group demanded that al-Sadr not be harmed and that all coalition forces withdraw from Al-Najaf. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

TERRORIST LINKED TO AL-QAEDA PURPORTEDLY THREATENS COALITION FORCES. Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist linked to Al-Qaeda who is suspected of carrying out attacks against coalition forces in Iraq, on 5 April vowed more attacks on coalition targets, AFP reported on 6 April.

An unnamed expert reportedly told AFP that the voice on the audiotape is identical to the voice on three previous recordings attributed to al-Zarqawi. The recording appeared on an Islamist website ( and al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the 17 March bombing of the Mount Lebanon hotel in Baghdad (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 19 March 2004).

Al-Zarqawi criticized Iraqi Shi'a Muslims in the audiotape, calling them the "Trojan horse used by the enemies of the nation" to take over the country, AFP reported. He also criticized Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's recent call for calm in Iraq, saying al-Sistani is the "imam of atheism." "The Shi'ite are the allies of the Jews and Americans. They are helping kill Muslims," he said. The United States has not confirmed whether the voice on the audiotape is al-Zarqawi's. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

CPA HEAD NAMES DEFENSE MINISTER, INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR. CPA head Bremer on 4 April announced the appointment of a new Iraqi defense minister and director of intelligence in a press conference broadcast live from Baghdad on Arab and international television stations. Iraqi Trade Minister Ali Abd al-Amir Allawi will now serve as defense minister, while Major General Muhammad al-Shahwani will serve as director of intelligence. Bremer also announced the establishment of the Defense Ministry, the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, and the Ministerial Committee for National Security.

Iraqi Governing Council President for the month of April Mas'ud Barzani also addressed the media, saying that the new Defense Ministry differs from the Saddam Hussein-era one in that its only task is to defend the country. Meanwhile, reported on 3 April that U.S. Major General David Petraeus who led the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq until the division returned to the United States last month, will now oversee the organization and training of all Iraqi military and security forces as head of the Office of Military Cooperation.

New Iraqi Defense Minister Allawi told the same press conference on 4 April that the civil administration of the military establishment will help build democratic institutions in Iraq. He vowed to uphold the rule of law and the constitution in Iraq. "The Iraqi Army will not be a means to threaten or blackmail neighboring countries," he added. Meanwhile, Director of Intelligence al-Shahwani said that his service, unlike the Hussein regime's security apparatus, will not have the power to arrest citizens. Al-Shahwani said he personally suffered at the hands of Hussein's intelligence service, which he said chased him for 19 years and tried to kill him 12 times. He also said that the Hussein regime was responsible for executing his three sons. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

IRAQIS CONTINUE PREPARATIONS FOR WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL. Salem Chalabi, the coordinator of the Iraqi war crimes tribunal established in December to try former members of the Hussein regime, told about the March trip by 10 Iraqi judges and prosecutors to The Hague (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 26 March 2004), the website reported on 7 April. Chalabi said that the Iraqi delegation discussed issues including security for staff and witnesses, modern court equipment, the handling of evidence, and an effective defense for those on trial, the website reported.

Court officials interviewed by said that the Iraqi delegation was cautioned on the experiences of Hague tribunals, such as the trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who is defending himself in the proceedings. The website reports that Milosevic regularly holds the floor for long periods of time during his cross-examination of witnesses, and frequently makes statements encouraging nationalist Serbs while speaking. Chalabi said that Iraqi law, however, prohibits any non-lawyer from defending themselves in court. Hussein is not a lawyer.

Chalabi said that U.S. advisers have suggested that the Iraqi tribunal follow the model of the Sierra Leone court rather than The Hague, which the U.S. does not support. In Sierra Leone, only 15 to 20 defendants were marked for trial. "The U.S. government was suggesting trying the top 20 cases, and Iraqis are talking of hundreds, even thousands, Chalabi said. "I rather think it will be closer to 200 people, a good portion of which can be dealt with through plea-bargaining," he added. He characterized the visit as useful, telling that the visit to the Yugoslav tribunal showed Iraqi judges that much work remains to be done in their preparations to try former regime members. "Seeing the software and the monitors recording testimony in the courtrooms was an extremely powerful message for our judges," he said.

Iraqi judges have already received some support from the U.S. in recent weeks however. A team from the U.S. Justice Department is already in Iraq, and Reuters reported on 6 April that the Bush administration said in a report to Congress on the same day that it would dispatch a special "war crimes" adviser to Iraqi soon. The report added that the administration has begun planning for the tribunal by establishing an evidence storage facility at a former Iraqi army base. Five deputy U.S. marshals have also been sent to Baghdad to help launch investigations into the crimes of former regime members. The administration also plans to develop a computerized system to store and track documents, and will train Iraqi judges and investigators, Reuters reported. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

DIRECTOR OF DE-BA'ATHIFICATION COMMISSION DISCUSSES ITS WORK. Mithal al-Alusi, the director of the Iraqi De-Ba'athification Commission, told the website Ilaf ( in an interview posted on 25 March that the commission is examining the requests of a number of former Ba'ath Party members to be reinstated in their former government positions. Al-Alusi said that some 60,000 Ba'athists were affected by the coalition's de-Ba'athification project.

The director said that the commission, headed by Iraqi National Congress chief and Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi, is made up of 10 Iraqi political parties. The commission is divided into six departments: the legal department, the information department, the educational and cultural department, the secretariat, the financial control department, and the follow-up department. The information department has control of around 1 million files related to Ba'ath Party membership. The documents are used to determine the identity of individuals that occupied the four highest echelons in the party. The Coalition Provisional Authority banned anyone in those positions from holding a job in the new Iraqi government, unless that person received a special dispensation.

Meanwhile, the financial control department is tracking Iraqi funds seized by the former regime and Ba'ath Party members, he said. The educational and cultural department is addressing the "cultural and educational heritage and the harmful deformation of the educational process" in Iraqi curricula. The department is also reportedly researching and studying the heritage of the Ba'ath Party, al-Alusi said.

The legal department's Appeals Section examines appeals submitted by former Ba'athists at or below the "Group Leadership" level who were dismissed from their jobs with pension. "This examination will take into consideration the special humanitarian case [of the appellant], as well as the needs of ministries for some qualified people," he said. Iraqis submitting appeals that held positions in the "Section Leadership" of the Ba'ath Party or higher [i.e. "Branch Leadership" and "Country Leadership"] would not be considered, he added.

Asked about the dismissed individuals, al-Alusi said: "the members on the level of Group Leadership and above...number around 60,000 individuals. Before the commission began its administrative and executive work, around 30,000 people had been dismissed. The commission is now in the process of examining the remaining number...80 percent of this number of people have the right to appeal. This means that we are eventually talking about a small number of those people who are being dismissed completely from sensitive posts in the administrative body of the state." "The new state is in dire need of new is also in dire need of patriotic professional lead the administrative body," al-Alusi said. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER WARNS IRAQ COULD ERUPT INTO CIVIL WAR. Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher said on 7 April that Iraq could be heading toward a civil war, dpa reported. "The situation is very dangerous and the political process there appears to be sliding towards a civil war," Muasher said in Amman. "The dismantling of the [former] Iraqi army and the civil administration has given rise to a security vacuum and we are now witnessing the results," he added. Muasher said that Jordan has tried to caution the United States on the subtleties of Iraqi public opinion. "We have always told the Americans that the Shi'ites' silence does not mean that they are satisfied. It is because they are awaiting the elections to seize power," he said. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

TEHRAN DISCOURAGES TRAVEL TO IRAQ. The Iranian Interior Ministry issued a statement on 6 April urging Iranians not to visit Iraq in light of the current unrest there, IRNA reported. An Iranian pilgrim from Bushehr was shot in Al-Kufah on 4 April, and two other Iranians were wounded. On 6 April in Karbala, meanwhile, Hussein Akbari, the head of the local Iranian Hajj and Pilgrimage Office, announced that office's reopening, IRNA reported. The office was closed after bombings in early March. Explaining his office's function, Akbari said, "All Iranian pilgrimage agencies wishing to sign contracts with Iraqi hotels and transportation companies must organize their activities under the supervision of this office." He said his office will help Iranian pilgrims with any problems they might have in Iraq. "We control the fares that the pilgrims are charged, the quality of services rendered to them and their room and boarding, their food quality, and the other affairs they encounter during their pilgrimage," Akbari added. The office is located at the Baqer Hotel in Karbala. (Bill Samii)

PURPORTED FORMER IRANIAN INTELLIGENCE AGENT SAYS IRAN ENTRENCHED IN IRAQ. A purported former Iranian intelligence officer told London's "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" in an interview published on 3 April that Iran has established a strong security presence in Iraq in all areas from the north to south.

The officer, identified as "Hajj Sayidi," said that Iranian agents entered Iraq through the northern protected Kurdish areas in their hundreds. Iran later took advantage of Iraq's postwar porous borders by sending its best agents disguised as students and clerics, while others apparently traveled with Iraqi Shi'ite militiamen. He further claimed that the Quds [Jerusalem] Corps of the Iranian regime was responsible for the August assassination of Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, the head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Sayidi added that Iranian agents planned on assassinating Iraqi religious leaders Ali al-Sistani and Muhammad Ishaq Fayadh.

Moreover, Sayidi claimed that Iranian intelligence agents have established 18 offices purporting to be charitable foundations in Baghdad, Al-Basrah, Karbala, Al-Kufah, Al-Najaf, and Al-Nasiriyah. The offices recruit spies as they distribute money and aid. He added that the Iranian intelligence apparatus has an extensive plan to turn Iraq into a second Iran. Part of the plan entails recruiting thousands of Shi'ite youths who would mobilize their relatives and acquaintances to vote for the candidates selected by Iranian intelligence. Sayidi claimed that the monthly allocation for Iranian public and secret security offices in Iraq totals more than $70 million. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

UN ADVISER ARRIVES IN IRAQ. United Nations special adviser Lakhdar Brahimi arrived in Iraq on 4 April at the invitation of the Iraqi Governing Council to help plan for the 30 June transfer of power and national elections, expected by the end of the year, the UN News Center ( reported on 4 April. Brahimi met with a number of Iraqi Governing Council members and NGO leaders in his first three days of meetings.

Brahimi hopes to gauge the opinions of all sectors of society on the question of the transition, the form of a transitional administration, how to proceed, and what kind of body should be formed to receive power on 1 July," his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said according to the UN News Center on 7 April. Fawzi added that there is consensus on the 30 June date for the transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis. "What we don't know yet is what body would be acceptable to Iraqis and how it should be selected," he noted.

Shaykh Abd al-Mahdi al-Karbala'i, a representative of Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said on 4 April that the religious authority in Al-Najaf would not take part in any meetings or consultations with the UN team "unless there is a UN Security Council resolution that would not give legitimacy to [the interim constitution] and would leave the matter for the Iraqi people, through their representatives in the [future] national assembly, to choose the mechanism to endorse the permanent constitution and valid laws in the country." According to "The Washington Post" on 4 April, the United States is relying on Brahimi to help design and, perhaps more importantly, legitimize a plan that would facilitate a smooth transfer of power in Iraq. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

SPAIN THREATENED BY AL-QAEDA. The Spanish newspaper ABC reported on 5 April that purported Al-Qaeda terrorists in Europe sent a communique to the newspaper on that day threatening to "declare war" on Spain if it does not withdraw its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, AFP reported on 5 April. The letter warned that Spain would face "hellish consequences if its troops were not withdrawn. "We are announcing the canceling of the truce with effect from midday Sunday 4 April," the communique said. It cautioned that Spain should stop helping "enemies of the Muslim community -- the United States and its allies," adding, "this is our last warning." The letter was reportedly signed by Abu Dujana al-Afghani, a self-described member of Al-Qaeda in Europe.

A man identifying himself as al-Afghani and speaking in Arabic with a Moroccan accent was seen on a videotape found outside a Madrid mosque two days after the 11 March Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people, international media reported on 6 April. Al-Afghani said in that videotape that the 11 March bombings were revenge for Spain's military cooperation with the United States, reported. The Spanish government reportedly gave "a certain credibility" to the authenticity of the communique, quoted Ricardo Ibanez, an Interior Ministry spokesman as saying.

The communique was faxed to ABC hours before five terror suspects blew themselves up in an apartment south of Madrid, in an effort to avoid police capture, reported on 5 April. Spanish authorities said that the suicide blast killed two of the alleged ringleaders of last month's Madrid train bombings, including one known as "the Tunisian," and three other terror suspects. Two or three suspects may have escaped before the blast, according to Spanish police are holding more than 15 suspects in connection to the train bombing, according to international media reports.

The website also reported on 5 April that an unnamed French private investigator has said that Spanish police believe that Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist with links to Al-Qaeda, coordinated the Madrid attacks. Al-Zarqawi is wanted by the United States for the assassination of USAID employee Lawrence Foley in Amman last year, as well as for coordinating a number of terrorist attacks in Iraq. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

COALITION REMAINS WILLING -- FOR THE TIME BEING. Coalition forces have remained committed to keeping troops in Iraq this week despite the surge in violence, according to international media reports.

This week's violence has left coalition allies in a number of southern Iraqi cities in a difficult position, as a number of states committed troops under the condition that they serve only in a peacekeeping or humanitarian capacity. However, many of these countries' troops were thrust into combat roles when coalition bases in central and southern Iraq were targeted in attacks this week by Iraqi insurgents. The insurgents also battled coalition and Iraqi forces while attempting to take over government buildings and police stations in various cities.

Coalition forces in south-central Iraq sustained few casualties in comparison to those sustained by U.S. forces in the Iraqi capital and surrounding areas, but it is likely that those deaths will affect public opinion in their home countries. On 4 April, one Salvadoran soldier was killed when militants attacked a coalition camp in Al-Najaf. Twelve of his compatriots were wounded in the same incident.

A Bulgarian patrol was attacked in Karbala on 6 April just minutes before militants struck the Bulgarian base Camp Kilo in Karbala. Three Bulgarian soldiers were lightly wounded in the first incident, while no casualties were reported in the second incident. In a third incident, a Bulgarian driver was shot dead near Al-Nasiriyah. Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolay Svinarov said on 7 April that Bulgarian soldiers who wish to return home may do so. He also demanded that U.S. and U.K. forces be sent to Karbala to assist in stabilizing the situation. International media reported on 8 April that Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Al-Mahdi Army now controls the city.

One Ukrainian soldier was also killed this week and five others were wounded as the Ukrainian contingent lost control of Al-Kut to Iraqi insurgents. But Ukraine is not considering pulling its peacekeeping contingent out of Iraq, Foreign Ministry spokesman Markiyan Lubkivskyy told ITAR-TASS on 7 April. Meanwhile, Hungarian Defense Minister Ferenc Juhasz said on 7 April that Hungarian troops will not be withdrawn from Iraq because the current threats have not impeded their ability to carry out their mission there, Hungarian media reported. However, Juhasz called for a UN resolution that would pave the way for additional troops to be sent to Iraq, saying that an additional 100,000 troops are needed to restore order.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on 6 April that Italian troops will remain in Iraq. "It is quite unthinkable that we should run away from a mission that we started and that needs to be carried through to the end," Berlusconi said. "We would be leaving the country in chaos," RAI Television quoted him as saying. Eleven Italians troops were reportedly wounded in fighting in Al-Nasiriyah on 7 April.

South Korea apparently remains committed to sending some 3,500 troops to Iraq in the coming weeks, despite the fact that militants loyal to al-Sadr held two South Korean aid workers captive on 5-6 April. "There is no change at all in the principle of our troop dispatch," Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said on 7 April.

Meanwhile, Japanese Self-Defense Forces holed themselves up at their camp in Samawah this week in an effort to avoid being caught up in the violence. Japan committed troops to Iraq to carry out humanitarian operations and has gone to great lengths -- even placing television ads on Arab satellite channels ? to inform Iraqis that the Japanese contingency is not in Iraq to police the country.

Norway appears for the time being to be one of the few coalition partners adamant about withdrawing its contingent from Iraq. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen said on 6 April that he expects Norway to withdraw its forces from Iraq within a few months. Petersen made his comments after meeting with UN officials in New York, Oslo's NRK reported. Petersen reportedly told UN officials that his country's forces would be better placed among NATO operations in Afghanistan and Kosova. Norway has about 150 soldiers in Iraq. Kazakhstan's Defense Minister said on 7 April that the country will not keep its peacekeepers in Iraq after their mandate expires at the end of May. Meanwhile, incoming Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has vowed to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq unless the UN takes over there. Spain currently has some 1,300 troops stationed in Iraq. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

Compiled by Kathleen Ridolfo.
UK struggles to be heard in Iraq
By Paul Reynolds
BBC News Online world affairs correspondent
As Tony Blair prepares to fly to Washington for his meeting with President Bush shortly, questions have arisen as to whether Britain has an adequate say in the decisions being taken in Iraq.
The former foreign secretary Lord Hurd said that Britain was "involved in the consequences and I think we should be involved in the taking of those decisions".
He referred in particular to the decisions to attack Falluja and to act against the Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.
He recommended sending a senior British envoy to Baghdad to put Britain's case and suggested the recently retired Nato Secretary General Lord Robertson.
Implicit in what Lord Hurd said was a belief that Britain would somehow act as restraining influence on the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) which is under the control of the US Administrator Paul Bremer.
British representation in the CPA was somewhat weakened with the departure of Sir Jeremy Greenstock at the end of March.
He was a former British UN ambassador and had a great deal of diplomatic clout having impressed the Americans with his handling of negotiations over UN resolutions on Iraq.
But he kept to his contract under which he stayed for six months and did not extend it until the 30 June handover.
Instead he gave way to his deputy David Richmond, who, although a respected and experienced Iraq hand and an Arabic speaker, does not quite carry the same political weight.
Decision making
The other senior British official in Iraq is Patrick Nixon, who is the representative in Basra.
He, too, is a veteran Arabist who came out of early retirement to take on the job until June.
He is an independent and sceptically-minded diplomat and it is hard to see him approving actions which would lead to serious confrontations. But how much influence he has with Mr Bremer is not known.
The New York Times quoted British officials in London recently as saying that Sir Jeremy had complained to London that Mr Bremer had controlled decision-making "with minimal input from Iraqis and other voices, including Sir Jeremy's".
The officials were quoted as saying that "while they are sympathetic with the daunting management task that Americans have undertaken, they also believe that the Coalition Provisional Authority under Mr. Bremer has become too 'politicized', meaning that events are orchestrated and information controlled with the American political agenda uppermost in mind".
The British unease might be more about tactical than strategic decisions
Publicly however, British ministers are not criticising the decisions in Iraq.
Both the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon were supportive in BBC interviews, though Mr Straw did stress the need for a political as well as military strategy.
There is a political strategy which should see formal sovereignty handed over to an interim Iraqi government on 30 June.
There are doubts however as to whether this government will have much power since the US military will stay on under a four star American general.
The British government appears fully signed up to this political process and Sir Jeremy himself has been praising it over recent weeks in briefings for the media in London.
The British unease therefore might be more about tactical than strategic decisions.
A problem arises however when a tactical decision has a major impact on the wider picture as has happened over the last few days.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/04/10 16:59:14 GMT

FLASHBACK: May 27, 2002
Graham: We Had Same Info as Bush
by David Freddoso
Posted Apr 9, 2004
[Editor's note: This article orginally appeared on the cover of the May 27, 2002, issue of HUMAN EVENTS.]
Sen. Bob Graham (D.-Fla.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told HUMAN EVENTS May 21 that his committee had received all the same terrorism intelligence prior to September 11 as the Bush administration.
"Yes, we had seen all the information," said Graham. "But we didn't see it on a single piece of paper, the way the President did."
Graham added that threats of hijacking in an August 6 memo to President Bush were based on very old intelligence that the committee had seen earlier. "The particular report that was in the President's Daily Briefing that day was about three years old," Graham said. "It was not a contemporary piece of information."
Graham's comments contradicted combative statements made recently by the Democratic congressional leadership, and confirmed White House assertions that the only specific threats of al Qaeda hijackings known to the President before September 11 came from a memo dating back to the Clinton Administration.
'Not Surprised'
A leak to CBS News of some pre-September-11 warnings given to the President in August occasioned fierce political attacks on Bush beginning May 15--even though the basic content of the leaks had long been known. As early as September 18, CNN had already reported that administration officials admitted to being aware of vague threats against U.S. targets before September 11. Also, a publicly available 1995 government report had even warned that terrorists could use airplanes in suicide attacks.
Still, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D.-S.D.) and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D.-Mo.) both made public statements attempting to stoke a scandal on the supposition that Bush withheld vital intelligence from Congress both before and after September 11. Both Democrats strongly implied that Bush sat on information that could possibly have been used to prevent the terrorist attacks of September 11.
"I'm gravely concerned that the President received a warning in August about the threat of hijackers by Osama bin Laden and his organization," said Daschle. "Why was it not provided to us, and why was it not shared with the general public for the last eight months?"
Daschle also asserted that Congress did not have the same information as the White House--implying that the White House alone was to blame for not acting on the information. "I think it is important to emphasize we did not have identical information," he said in a May 16 news conference, in clear contradiction with Graham's statements to HUMAN EVENTS.
On May 22, Daschle again accused Bush of hoarding information, even trying to blame him for the FBI's intelligence failure of September 11. "There is an increasing pattern that I find in this administration that reflects an unwillingness to share information not only with us but within their own administration," he told reporters.
Gephardt also implied that the administration was blameworthy for its handling of the intelligence reports. "The reports are disturbing that we are finding this out now," he said. Invoking language of the Watergate era, he continued, "I think what we have to do now is to find out what the President, what the White House knew about the events leading up to 9-11, when they knew it and, most importantly, what was done about it at that time." Gephardt also stated that Congress had not received the same intelligence as the White House.
Asked by HUMAN EVENTS on May 22 whether Sen. Graham's statement changed his view, Gephardt responded with a simple "No" before retreating into the House chamber. Again, the following day, Kori Bernards, a spokeswoman for Gephardt, declined to comment for the record on Graham's statement.
Other Democrats sensed a political opportunity and went on the attack. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.) addressed the Senate waving a copy of the New York Post with a characteristically large and sensational headline, "Bush Knew." "The President knew what?" she asked.
Others, including Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D.-N.Y.) and Rep. Robert Wexler (D.-Fla.) strongly denounced the President's conduct in public spoken or written statements.
But as early as May 16, it had already emerged that most of the information in Bush's August 6 Presidential Daily Briefing--an official intelligence document--had in fact been given to the congressional committees in the form of the Senior Executive Intelligence Digest (SEID), a more widely published classified document.
"Mr. Gephardt said that we didn't have information," said Rep. Porter Goss (R.-Fla.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on May 16. "In fact we do have it. And it's just apparently that Mr. Gephardt didn't know about it."
At that point, Democrats claimed that Bush's intelligence report had information warning of possible hijackings by Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, and that Congress did not receive that particular information.
But the Democrats' criticism appeared to be further undercut by Graham's confirmation to HUMAN EVENTS that the committee did have the same intelligence. Administration officials had earlier said the hijack warnings in Bush's August 6 briefing were merely an analysis based on old intelligence from 1998.
The committees were indeed aware before September 11 that a major attack could come soon, so much so, that Sen. Graham told CNN's Kate Snow...quot; on the afternoon of September 11...quot; that he was not suprised.
"I was not surprised that there was an attack, was surprised at the specificity of this one," Graham said in the interview, hours after the attacks.
Expected Backlash
As Democrats appeared to back away from the attacks on Bush over the weekend, Republicans went on the offensive to capitalize on an expected backlash. The Republican Study Committee, a group of about 75 conservative Republicans, released a memo detailing House Democrats' overwhelming opposition to intelligence funding since 1996. According to the memo, 154 House Democrats voted to cut the U.S. intelligence budget in 1996, while 158 Democrats did the same in 1997. Although fewer Democrats voted to cut the intelligence budget in 1999 (only 61), almost all opposition to intelligence spending came from Democrats.
The memo also quotes several Democrats opposing intelligence spending, including Rep. Maxine Waters (D.-Calif.), who advocated the abolition of the CIA on the House floor in March 1997.
In addition, a HUMAN EVENTS survey of lawmakers found that few--even among Republicans--would have been willing to act decisively on threats of hijacking by Muslim extremists. Not one Democrat surveyed would countenance the idea that President Bush, upon learning of the al Qaeda hijacking threat, should have suspended the visas of young men visiting from nations that are al Qaeda hotbeds--even though this measure would likely have prevented the attacks of September 11.
Few support that action even now, after September 11, when new warnings of attacks by al Qaeda have been issued by FBI director Robert Mueller and Vice President Cheney.
Copyright ? 2003 HUMAN EVENTS. All Rights Reserved.

FLASHBACK: June 10, 2002
Intelligence Chairmen Confirm HUMAN EVENTS Story
Posted Apr 9, 2004
[Editor's note: This article orginally appeared on the cover of the June 10, 2002, issue of HUMAN EVENTS.]
Tim Russert, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," has committed excellent journalism, again.
The May 26 edition of "Meet the Press" featured as a guest Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D.-S.D.). Russert confronted Daschle with the cover story of the May 27 HUMAN EVENTS in which Senate Intelligence Chairman Bob Graham said that the congressional intelligence committees had the same information prior to September 11 that President Bush had--and that this information included three-year-old intelligence that al Qaeda might try to hijack U.S. airliners.
In light of Graham's statement to HUMAN EVENTS, Daschle utterly failed to justify to Russert his tendentious call for an investigation of what the President knew prior to September 11.
Last Sunday, on the June 2 edition of "Meet the Press," Russert interviewed the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees. He confronted them with the information in the May 27 HUMAN EVENTS cover story--and each of them, including Graham himself--confirmed the story.
Here is what they said:
Tim Russert, Host of NBC's "Meet the Press": Sen. Graham, let me clear something up for the country, if I can. There was a big uproar a few weeks ago that President Bush had received a briefing on August 6 about a potential hijacking by al-Qaeda, and a lot of charges and countercharges back and forth. HUMAN EVENTS reported that you said that we had all seen that information. Not in the same form as the President, but members of Congress had seen the same information. Is that accurate?
Senate Intelligence Chairman Bob Graham (D.-Fla.): First, I have not seen the briefing that the President received in early August. But I have read a summary of that briefing, and if that summary is correct, and I think it is, of what he received was essentially a historic presentation of the development of al Qaeda, what they'd done in the past, and then some speculations about what they might do in the future. The specific reference that related to hijackers was based on a foreign intelligence source that was two or three years old. So I don't think it is fair to expect the President of the United States to see that kind of information and immediately spring into operational mode. Had Congress seen most of that information, if not all of it? Yes, over time, not in a consolidated historic report that was presented to the President.
Russert: Does anyone here disagree with that, that they didn't see that information?
House Intelligence Chairman Porter Goss (R.-Fla.): No, I think it's very clear.
Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R.-Ala.): No, we had it.
Russert: Everyone had it.
Shelby: We had it.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.), Ranking Member, House Intelligence Committee: We had seen it over a period of time. We did not see it in aggregate as the President did that day. That is not to say that it was sufficient information, as the chairman has said, to warrant action on the part of the President, but I think the distinction has to be made that, for some reason, on that early day in August, someone in the intelligence community decided to put all of those events on one piece of paper. Interesting that what we saw in Congress in that same day, in that same 24-hour period, did not have the reporting that referenced hijacking. That was a distinction between what Congress saw and what the White House saw.
Copyright ? 2003 HUMAN EVENTS. All Rights Reserved.

Was Terrorism Really a Top Priority?
by Linda Chavez
Posted Apr 8, 2004
Condoleezza Rice faces not just the 9/11 commission today but the specter of Richard Clarke, the disgruntled former National Security Council terrorism expert who did his best to undermine the credibility of his former boss when he testified before the commission on March 24. The main thrust of Clarke's testimony was that Rice and the entire Bush team were insufficiently attentive to terrorism as an imminent threat because they were focused on other things, especially Iraq. And the media played right along, parroting Clarke's criticism with front-page news stories questioning Rice's pre-9/11 judgment, like this one in The Washington Post: "Top Focus Before 9/11 Wasn't on Terrorism; Rice Speech Cited Missile Defense." Or this in The New York Times: "New to the Job, Rice Focused On More Traditional Threats."
That criticism from Clarke might have been more persuasive had he been equally hard on the Clinton Administration, for which he worked for eight years. But, no, he gave Clinton and the whole national security team high marks, saying, "My impression was that fighting terrorism in general, and fighting al Qaeda in particular, were an extraordinarily high priority in the Clinton Administration, certainly no higher a priority. There were priorities probably of equal importance, such as the Middle East peace process, but I certainly don't know of one that was any higher in the priority of that administration."
Funny, I don't remember the Clinton years that way -- but then maybe my mind is clouded by the disease so common to active partisans, selective memory. So I decided to do a little research to see how the media portrayed the Clinton Administration's priorities at the time.
Using Nexis, the exhaustive data bank of newspaper articles, magazine pieces, and radio and TV transcripts, I looked back over eight years of stories in which Rice's predecessors in the Clinton Administration, Anthony Lake and Samuel Berger, were mentioned in stories that also included references to terrorism or Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda, to see whether they were out sounding the alarm on these threats.
During the entire Clinton Administration's tenure, only 278 stories appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, or Chicago Tribune, which cited these officials in stories that also mentioned either terrorism (271), bin Laden (71), or al Qaeda (4). Most of the mentions of terrorism, however, referred to attacks against Israel or other non-U.S. targets. And few of the stories even suggest that the Clinton Administration made fighting terrorism its top priority.
President Clinton did give a major speech to the United Nations in September 1998, in which he said that fighting terrorism was "at the top of the U.S. agenda." But as The New York Times noted in its coverage, "if he looked preoccupied, which he did, it was because he was in the awkward position of addressing the United Nations at the same time that a videotape of his testimony to a grand jury investigating the Monica Lewinsky matter was playing on television screens and computer monitors around the world. Some television banks here were playing his speech and the videotape at once." Moreover, noted the Times, "Mr. Clinton did not advance American policy against terrorism in any new direction. . . ."
Although several terrorist attacks against Americans occurred during Clinton's tenure -- most notably the first World Trade Center bombing, the bombing of a U.S. military barracks in Saudi Arabia, the bombing of U.S. embassies in East Africa, and the attack on the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen -- the military response was spotty at best, consisting of a few cruise missiles launched at an abandoned training camp in Afghanistan and a chemical plant in Sudan.
But it isn't just that the Clinton Administration didn't do very much to strike back at terrorists, Clinton's National Security advisers weren't all that outspoken on the issue either. In 1996, for example, Anthony Lake gave a major speech to the Chicago Foreign Relations Council, entitled "Laying the Foundation for a Post-Cold War World: National Security in the 21st Century." In it, Lake mentions terrorism, almost in passing, as a modern threat, along with drug trafficking and managing environmental disaster. The foreign policy crises he described as "the most urgent" were "repression in Haiti, the war in Bosnia and the containment of Iraq."
The truth is, no one -- not George W. Bush or Condoleezza Rice, and certainly not Bill Clinton or his advisers -- fully understood how grave a threat al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and other Islamist terrorists posed to America until September 11, 2001. We know now, and the true test of leadership is how our leaders responded once the terrorists struck. And here both Bush and Rice look pretty good compared with their predecessors, Richard Clarke's revisionist history notwithstanding.
Copyright ? 2003 HUMAN EVENTS. All Rights Reserved.

La Maison blanche d?classifie une note du 6 ao?t 2001 sur Al-Qaida
LEMONDE.FR | 11.04.04 | 10h21 * MIS A JOUR LE 11.04.04 | 19h01
Cette note envisageait de possibles d?tournements d'avions. Dimanche le pr?sident Bush a affirm? qu'elle ne disait rien sur d'?ventuelles attaques contre les Etats-Unis.
La Maison blanche a lev?, samedi 10 avril, le secret-d?fense sur une note des services de renseignement am?ricains remise le 6 ao?t 2001 au pr?sident George Bush et exposant des projets d'Al-Qaida de frapper aux Etats-Unis m?me.
A la demande de la commission nationale qui enqu?te sur les attentats du 11 septembre 2001, l'administration Bush a d?classifi? et rendu publique cette note d'une page et demie au titre d?nu? d'ambigu?t? : "Ben Laden r?solu ? frapper en territoire am?ricain".
A trois endroits, des suppressions de mots ont ?t? faites pour prot?ger les noms des gouvernements ?trangers ayant fourni des informations ? la CIA.
Ce m?morandum avait ?t? r?dig? en ao?t 2001 ? la demande de George W. Bush, qui souhaitait conna?tre l'ampleur de la menace d'Al-Qaida sur le territoire am?ricain apr?s avoir pris connaissance de rapports faisant ?tat de menaces de la m?me n?buleuse contre les int?r?ts am?ricains ? l'?tranger, a expliqu? samedi soir un responsable de la Maison blanche. La conseill?re ? la s?curit? de la Maison blanche, Condoleezza Rice, avait ?voqu? cette note lors de sa d?position en public, jeudi, devant la commission. Les d?mocrates qui y si?gent avaient alors demand? ? ce que le secret soit lev? sur ladite note afin de favoriser le cours de l'enqu?te sur les carences ?ventuelles des services de renseignement avant les attentats du 11 septembre.
Des responsables de la Maison blanche se sont empress?s samedi, apr?s la diffusion de la note dans la soir?e, d'assurer que celle-ci, bien que mentionnant la possibilit? de d?tournements d'avions, n'?voquait pas le risque de les voir utilis?s comme missiles contre des b?timents. "Rien, dans ce texte, n'a trait au complot du 11 septembre", a affirm? devant les journalistes un haut responsable de la Maison blanche.
Dimanche le pr?sident Bush a affirm? que le m?morandum du 6 ao?t 2001 ne disait rien sur d'?ventuelles attaques contre les Etats-Unis. "Ce PDB (appel? "rapport pr?sidentiel quotidien", PDB en anglais) ne disait rien d'une attaque contre l'Am?rique. Il parlait d'intentions et du fait que quelqu'un d?testait l'Am?rique. Cela nous le savions d?j?", a dit M. Bush ? la presse lors d'une visite sur la base militaire de Fort Hood (Texas). "Si j'avais su qu'il y allait y avoir une attaque contre l'Am?rique, j'aurais tout fait pour l'emp?cher", a-t-il ajout?."S'ils (les services de renseignement) avaient trouv? quelque chose, ils m'en auraient inform?", a estim? M. Bush, en r?affirmant que la commission d'enqu?te devait enqu?ter sur la fa?on dont les renseignements disponibles avaient ?t? rassembl?s et transmis.
La note risque bien pourtant de relancer, en pleine ann?e ?lectorale, le d?bat sur l'incapacit? des services de renseignement et des autorit?s ? pr?venir les attentats. Dans sa d?position de jeudi, Rice insistait sur le fait que la note contenait essentiellement des renseignements relatifs au pass? et ne signalait pas des pr?paratifs d'attentats sur le territoire am?ricain.
Mais ses paroles pourraient ?tre contredites par la note elle-m?me. Dans cette derni?re, il est inscrit noir sur blanc que des hommes d'Al-Qaida cherchaient ? p?n?trer aux Etats-Unis ou s'y trouvaient d?j?. "Le FBI conduit approximativement 70 enqu?tes sur le terrain, ? travers les Etats-Unis, qui ont trait ? Ben Laden. La CIA et le FBI enqu?tent sur un appel re?u par notre ambassade aux Emirats arabes unis en mai, disant qu'un groupe de partisans de Ben Laden se trouvent aux Etats-Unis o? ils pr?parent des attentats ? l'explosif", lit-on dans la note.
Le document, qui ne mentionne aucune cible pr?cise et ne fait ?tat d'aucune date, se fonde sur un rapport des services secrets ?tabli en mai 2001, laissant penser que des partisans de Ben Laden avaient l'intention d'entrer aux Etats-Unis par le Canada. La note ajoutait que des membres d'Al-Qaida, au nombre desquels des personnes ayant la nationalit? am?ricaine, "s?journent ou se sont rendus aux Etats-Unis, depuis des ann?es, et le groupe semble maintenir une structure logistique qui pourrait contribuer ? des attentats". "Une source clandestine avait dit en 1998 qu'une cellule Ben Laden recrutait ? New York des jeunes Am?ricains musulmans, dans le but de commettre des attentats", lit-on par ailleurs dans la note. "Des informations ?manant de sources clandestines, de gouvernements ?trangers et de m?dias laissent entendre que Ben Laden, depuis 1997, veut commettre des attentats terroristes aux Etats-Unis", stipule aussi le document.
La note informait le pr?sident de ce que le FBI avait d?cel? des activit?s suspectes ?voquant des pr?paratifs de d?tournements et autres types d'attentats, et avait constat? que des immeubles f?d?raux de New York faisaient l'objet d'une surveillance. * La Maison blanche a expliqu? samedi soir, en parall?le ? la publication du m?morandum, que les renseignements relatifs ? une surveillance d'immeubles f?d?raux ? New York concernaient en fait de simples all?es et venues de touristes.
Avec Reuters
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Thomas L. Friedman: Three conversations needed to save Iraq
Thomas L. Friedman NYT
Monday, April 12, 2004
WASHINGTON The U.S. operation in Iraq is hanging by a thread. If it has any hope of surviving this Hobbesian moment, we need three conversations to happen fast: George W. Bush needs to talk to his father, the Arab leaders need to talk to their sons - and daughters - and Americans need to talk to the Iraqi Governing Council.
President Bush, please call home. You need some of your father's wisdom right now. Old man Bush, U.S. president no. 41, may not have had the vision thing, but he did have the prudence thing. He understood that he could not expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait without a real coalition that included Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and other key Arab states, not to mention all the NATO allies and the United Nations. America would not have had the legitimacy to operate in that theater for the length of time required without Arab and European cover.
What was true for expelling Saddam from Kuwait was triply true for expelling Saddam from Iraq and is quadruply true for expelling the die-hard Baathists from Falluja and the Shiite radicals from Najaf. The deeper we Americans try to penetrate Iraqi society, especially with tanks and troops, the more legitimacy we need.
When things were going all right in Baghdad with the political process, America could have its way by buying legitimacy with cash or imposing it with muscle. But when you are talking about killing rebellious Iraqi young men and clerics, you can't buy the legitimacy for that, and you can't compel it. Iraqi moderates are just too frightened to stand up and defend that on their own. Indeed, they will run away from the United States.
Only a real coalition of the United Nations, Arab and Muslim states and Europe - the Bush 41 coalition - might bolster them. It may be too late for that now, but the Bush 43 folks had better try.
We Americans have a staggering legitimacy deficit for the task ahead. I am glad El Salvador is with us, but when Iraqis get satellite dishes, they don't tune in TV El Salvador. They tune in TV Al Jazeera.
If it is America alone against the Iraqi street, we lose. If it is the world against the Iraqi street, we have a chance.
And we need two other conversations. I have nothing but respect for the Kurds of Iraq. They have a democratic soul. But in the debate in the Governing Council over Iraq's interim constitution they overreached, and the Bush team made a big mistake in letting them overreach, by giving the Kurds effective veto power over Iraq's final constitution. I believe the Kurds need and are entitled to some form of protection. I would support any U.S. guarantees for them. But too many moderate Shiites, led by Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, are feeling that the Iraqi interim constitution tilts so far in favor of minority rights that it unfairly limits majority (read Shiite) rights. If the interim constitution has any hope of surviving this fighting, and being accepted by the moderate Shiite majority, it needs to be recalibrated - through a dialogue among Iraq's factional leaders and with us. Otherwise, a stable transfer of power is impossible (if it isn't already).
Arab leaders also have a vital interest in working with the United States to quell the turmoil in Iraq and to re-empower the potentially moderate center. As unpleasant as it may be for them to help the Bush team - and as worrisome as free elections in Iraq might be to unelected leaders of the Arab world - having oil-rich Iraq taken over partly by Baathist radicals happy to work with Al Qaeda and partly by Shiite radicals happy to work with Iran will be even worse. It will empower radicals across the Arab region, and freeze the infant reform process there.
And that's why the Arab leaders need to talk to their sons and daughters. If the Arabs miss yet another decade of reform, because Iraq spins out of control while the world speeds ahead, they will find themselves outside the world system and dealing with plenty of their own Fallujas.
Talk to Arab youth today, and you will find so many of them utterly despondent at the complete drift in their societies. They are stuck in a sandstorm, where opportunities for young people to realize their potential are fading.
What is going on in Iraq today is not only a war between radical Islam and America, it is, more importantly, a war within Islam - between those who want an Islam with a human and progressive face that can meld with the world and those who want an Islam that is exclusivist and hostile to the world. So, yes, we need all the Arab and Muslim support we can get to see Iraq through to some decent outcome. But the Arab-Muslim world needs a decent outcome in Iraq just as much - if not more.
Copyright ? 2002 The International Herald Tribune


Suicide bomb workshop found in Falluja: US military
April 12, 2004 - 8:09AM
Bomb workshop found in Fallujah: US military Iraq Bombers
US marines this week killed one suicide bomber and discovered a suicide bomb workshop in the Sunni Muslim bastion of Fallujah apparently run by Iraqis and foreigners, marines said.
The building, found on Thursday when marines chased a sniper, provided new indication of the growing role of Iraqis in suicide bombings, marines said.
The US marines are entrenched in a near week-long campaign to rid Fallujah of insurgents after four US contractors were killed by a mob and two of them were savagely mutilated on March 31.
Iraqi police and judges have recently expressed alarm about the increasing involvement of Iraqis in suicide bombings, which US officials have previously blamed on foreign fighters thought to be slipping across the border.
Police in the holy city of Karbala charged that some Iraqis are indoctrinated and high on drugs when they are dispatched on suicide missions.
Top US military officials have warned the radical Islamist current in Iraq relies more heavily on Iraqi nationals than foreign elements.
Members of the 1st Battalion 5th (1-5) Marines stumbled on the workshop on Thursday, when they were trying to locate a sniper position.
"There was an open storage area and a living room. There were four belts packed with explosives," said Lance Corporal James Walter, one of the men who discovered the arsenal in Fallujah's southeastern industrial sector.
A box of old US military uniforms were also found, issued by the US Army's 82nd Airborne, said Lieutenant Colonel Brennan Byrne.
Marines said that they believe about 15 to 20 people had been working in the facility.
Also Thursday, marines from the 1-5 battalion shot dead a suicide bomber, captured a second individual without a vest and found a third blood-stained belt.
The vest was identical to those found in the open storage area, said Captain James Smith.
Marines had come under fire and entered a home where they shot and killed the bomber.
The marines lobbed grenades at the body to blow it up due to fears the corpse was booby trapped, said Smith.
Smith showed pictures of the corpse before the marines blew up the body, with the white belt and wiring attached to a bearded man lying on a tile floor.
The belts were fashioned in the style of the radical Palestinian group Hamas that popularised suicide bombings in Iraq, with a hand-held detonator attached to the belt, Byrne added.

Terrorist chemical threat 'worse than suspected'
By Mark Huband, Security Correspondent, in Paris
Published: April 11 2004 18:26 | Last Updated: April 11 2004 18:26
Terrorists plotting to use chemical weapons in Europe have more advanced plans than security services previously suspected, a senior French counter-terrorism official has warned.
Small groups of chemicals experts have been detected in several European countries and have developed ways of communicating with each other that allowed them to avoid being exposed.
"We have underestimated the terrorists' willingness and capacity to develop chemical weapons," the French official told the Financial Times. He said a recent wave of arrests in Britain and France has revealed how far they had developed their plans.
The groups appear to operate separately from other cells planning attacks using ordinary explosives. Several of them are believed to have links to Islamic militants in the breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya. Western intelligence services allege that extremists linked to al-Qaeda have carried out experiments in chemical warfare in Chechnya.
In January French anti-terrorist police arrested five people in the Lyons suburb of Venisseux - three of them from the same family - on suspicion of involvement in planning terrorist attacks. Nicolas Sarkozy, then interior minister, said that one of the detainees, Menad Benchallali, "was trained to produce chemical substances".
Two of the detainees admitted a plan had been devised to attack Russian targets in France using ricin poison and botulinum bacteria. French officials say Mr Benchellali received chemical weapons training in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, a haven for Chechen fighters.
On April 6 British anti- terrorist officers uncovered a possible plot to use osmium tetroxide in an attack. The chemical can cause death or blindness if dispersed in an explosion. UK security officials have refused to comment on the alleged plan, though US officials said it was in its early stages.
The alleged plotters were reported to have been in direct contact with extremists in Pakistan, as the plot was discovered when their telephone calls were monitored by GCHQ, the UK government's electronic surveillance centre.
"The Pakistani element [in developing these weapons] was also totally underestimated, as was the experience developed in Chechnya," said the French official. He added that militants within the Pakistani Islamist group Lashkar-i-Toiba, which has close links to al-Qaeda, had helped develop chemical weapons skills now dispersed to sever al parts of the al-Qaeda network.
"The thing that is most clear is that the people with the knowledge of chemicals are very organised," the French official said. "There are links between the groups that have chemical expertise. These groups are not present everywhere, though Chechnya is where they learned this skill."
The arrests in January in Venisseux led to the discovery of vital clues about the links between alleged extremists with knowledge of chemicals and experts trained in Chechnya and Afghanistan.
"The group arrested in Venisseux has links to Chechnya, but also to Abu Musab al-Zarkawi," the official said.
Al-Zarkawi, a Jordanian thought to be in Iraq, is said by intelligence officals to have run classes in chemical warfare at an al-Qaeda training camp in the Afghan city of Herat in 2000-01. A taped statement attributed to al-Zarkawi was broadcast on an Islamist website this week, in which he said that Iraq's Sunni Muslims should "burn the earth under the [foreign] occupiers' feet" in Iraq.


Contractors put Iraq reconstruction on hold
By Nicolas Pelham in Baghdad
Published: April 11 2004 18:05 | Last Updated: April 11 2004 18:05
Many of Iraq's reconstruction projects are being put on hold after a spate of foreign kidnappings and attacks on convoys in Baghdad grounded foreign and Iraqi contractors.
"We'll give it another week. If it doesn't improve, we'll have to leave," says Trevor Holborn of the Amman-based Shaheen Group, one of hundreds of foreign workers who have suspended their operations and headed for shelter inside the walls of the Green Zone, the heavily fortified enclave where the occupation has its headquarters.
"We still have people in Iraq, but we may not able to work on a day to day basis," said a contractor with a big US energy company. "Right now Iraq is not a safe place to work, and the safety of our staff comes first."
The kidnapping of at least 10 foreigners, and according to some reports as many as 30, has shaken the already fragile confidence of contractors. The hostages included an employee of the Houston-based company, Kellogg, Brown & Root, which handles supplies and logistics for US forces and the occupation administration and is reputed to be one of the best defended companies in the country. Thomas Hamill, 43, of Macon, Mississippi, was captured on Friday during a convoy ambush.
Coalition officials say they have contingency plans for an evacuation of civilians, but remain fully staffed. One said it was a "miracle" that none of the scores of mortars and rockets which have so rocked the enclave have hit their targets.
British diplomats and some contractors are bunkered down in an underground car-park inside the Green zone, dubbed the "Batcave". But many American contractors are housed in trailer accommodation. Their sides have been bolstered with sandbags but the soft-top roofs are singularly vulnerable to mortar attack.
Amid continuing negotiations for a ceasefire, insurgents have continued torching convoys carrying food and fuel to Baghdad.
Coalition authority officials deny the attacks on their supply lines have interrupted the delivery of vital goods, but contractors say Iraqi drivers are shying away from work with the coalition leaving ports clogged with containers.
"Try to lease a truck now, no one will give you one," said Faisal Khudairy, an Iraqi contractor with a large deal to build a military base north of Baghad.
The coalition's Project Management Office (PMO), which oversees $8bn (?4.7bn) of US reconstruction funds, says it remains committed to rebuilding Iraq and is intent on finding Iraqi partners to assist the primary US contractors it named last month. "We've got our prime contractors on the ground. It will not halt reconstruction," said John Procter, an official with the project Management Office in Baghdad.
He said that the reconstruction effort was vital if the coalition was to soak up Iraq's millions of unemployed malcontents who are a breeding ground for the insurgency.
But it was not clear if the coalition would meet its target of employing 50,000 Iraqis by 30 June, when the US governor of Iraq, Paul Bremer, is scheduled to relinquish control of Iraq.
Mr Procter said that Iraq's trade fair, postponed last week because of the risk of attack, was being relocated from Baghdad to Suleimaniya, a city in the former Kurdish haven, and would open on April 30.
Another conference on oil exploration scheduled to take place next week in the British-administered Gulf port of Basra is reported to have been indefinitely postponed. Several foreign companies and aid agencies say they are also providing for the evacuation of non-essential staff.
"We gave our staff the freedom to go home to whoever would like to do so," said Mohammed Moneim, chief operating officer of the Kuwaiti-based Kharafi group, which has over 100 foreign staff in Iraq working in the oil and construction sectors. But Mr Moneim said that the company was also committed to fulfilling its responsibilities to its 1,500 Iraqi staff.
At least two of the three banks that received their licences last January have yet to begin operations inside Iraq. Officials at HSBC, the UK bank, said it was unlikely services would be available until at least the end of the year. Baghdad bank has also temporarily closed three of its 20 branches, said its chief operating officer, Mahmood Muwaffaq. Some contractors complained that their contracts prevented them from pulling out of Iraq.
"Many companies have given control over the evacuation procedure to the US Department of Defence, so we cannot leave even if we want to," said a security company director. He said insurgents are now targeting mercenaries in Iraq, aware that foreign contractors win more headlines than soldiers. But the director stressed that under their contracts, companies would still be compensated in full for any days lost as a result of insecurity.
Seven Chinese were seized in central Iraq on Sunday, China's Xinhua news agency said, Reuters reports. In a separate incident, eight foreign men described as truck drivers who had been held hostage were released, according to a videotape aired by al-Jazeera television on Sunday. The men included three from Pakistan, two Turks, an Indian, a Nepali and one from the Philippines.

Marines Find Traces Of Suicide Squads
25 minutes ago
By Pamela Constable, Washington Post Foreign Service
FALLUJAH, Iraq (news - web sites), April 11 -- When the U.S. troops entered the abandoned factory shed Sunday, they found a hastily abandoned campsite full of jumbled clothing and bedrolls, scattered sneakers and gym bags, broken eggs and dirty cooking pots.
But there were other, less innocent objects half-hidden in the gloom. Sacks full of chemical-coated rocks. Leather belts stuffed with explosive putty, and one smeared with dried blood. Boxes of batteries with wires taped to them. Instructions for making bombs.
"This was a 16-man terrorist cell," pronounced a Marine captain, rifling through the mess. "See? All the bags and sneakers are brand new, all the same make. This took money and planning. Someone sponsored them."
Among the debris were more intimate clues to the identity and motives of the suicide squad that had lived, prayed and made bombs in the shed, preparing to do battle with the 2,500 Marines who entered sections of this turbulent city one week ago.
The evidence -- Islamic books, pamphlets, tapes and farewell letters in Arabic -- suggested that some of the men were not Iraqis from the area, but foreign Sunni Muslims who had traveled to this urban Sunni stronghold to fight and die in a holy war, both against the U.S. forces and the country's Shiite Muslim majority.
"I say goodbye with tears in my eyes and heart, and I ask God for victory," read one letter, which suggested the writer's parents had tried to stop him from leaving home. "Father, don't blame yourself. I am happy to be here," it said. "Mother, don't be weak. Raise your children to be martyrs for the cause."
The urban guerrillas battling Marines since last Monday have put up a fierce and well-organized fight, and Marine officials said early last week that they believed foreign Islamic fighters had joined the local insurgents. On Thursday the Marines shot and killed a sniper who was wearing a suicide belt, and they have since discovered seven suicide bomb devices in various hiding places.
But so far they have not conclusively established that any of the insurgents were foreign infiltrators. Several detained Sudanese nationals turned out to be longtime workers here, and Marine officials said Sunday that they had used grenades and bombs to explode the corpses of two snipers shot while wearing suicide devices, which made them impossible to identify.
But the unearthing of the Islamic documents among the bomb-making materials Sunday, while two foreign journalists and an Arabic interpreter were present, suggested that at least some of the suicide squad members were not from Iraq.
Some letters referred to repaying old debts, patching up quarrels and acquiring false passports. Others read like sermons, and one contained a poem saying that "the blood of martyrs smells sweet." Most were in blank envelopes and some were signed with Islamic noms de guerre such as Abu Ahmed. They were apparently intended to be delivered home by messengers.
In one letter, dated April 4, a man urged a friend to leave behind worldly concerns and come join a "beautiful" war against Shiite "nonbelievers" and Americans. "This is like Iran, there are many Shiites and we need to fight them," he wrote. "We are in another Kandahar, and we will burn the Americans." Kandahar, a city in Afghanistan (news - web sites), was the religious stronghold of the Taliban, the extremist Sunni militia that was toppled by U.S-led forces in 2001.
There were also notebooks with instructions on how to make a bomb and where to launch attacks against American facilities in Baghdad, 35 miles east.
As they listened to the letters being translated, the young Marines looked incredulous. Then someone opened a wallet that contained drawings of U.S. military insignia, evidently meant to pick out important targets. "I see captain and lieutenant, but no warrant officer. Guess I'm safe," said one Marine with a nervous laugh.
The squad examining the shed also inspected several other weapons caches in the abandoned factory zone Sunday, including a freezer full of mortar rounds and a pile of rice sacks from Vietnam that contained machine-gun ammunition. Officers said most of the material would be detonated or destroyed.
After the troops finished their work, they left several riflemen on guard, wishing them a happy Easter, and headed back to their command post in an empty pottery and carpentry workshop. Some rested in dust-covered armchairs; others gathered around a corporal who was being treated for a shrapnel wound in the knee.
"When I saw those [suicide] vests, I thought those people obviously don't value life," said one staff sergeant, shaking his head in bewilderment. A 20-year-old corporal, Philip Dennis, said he had expected to be building schools in Iraq, not dodging mortar shells.
"I'm a humanitarian person, and I don't believe in killing for no reason, but I guess this is the job that needs to be done," he said. On his first day of combat, Dennis recounted, he climbed on a roof and was astonished to see dozens of black-robed insurgents with AK-47 rifles. "I had no idea they had so many people, and I realized this was very big." He paused and added, "We killed a lot of them."
A few minutes later, a Navy chaplain arrived at the command post in a Humvee to hold a brief Easter communion service, which he repeated at two more front-line posts.
"God, we pray that our actions here give some glory back to you," said Navy Chaplain Wayne Hall, 36, who set up his communion vessels on a factory workbench. "We live in grace even here, and we are not afraid of death. . . . None of us wants to die here, but death is the blink of an eye, and you wake up in paradise."
One young corpsman, tending to an injured man in his command post, said he had little time to think about Easter but a great deal to live for. Picking up his helmet, he displayed a snapshot of his baby son glued to the inside.
He also said he was keeping a war diary that he would eventually take home to California. One entry was addressed to his wife, in Spanish and dated April 6 -- two day after the suicide squad member had written to his friend in Arabic, urging him to become a fellow martyr in the "beautiful" war against Shiites and Americans.
"Hello my dear, how is my precious boy?" the Marine's letter began. "We are in the middle of the most dangerous operation in the world. Thousands of Marines are united in this battle to eliminate terrorists from this city. Last night we got in a fierce firefight and I could see the explosions and rockets going up in the sky. Tonight I expect an even more dangerous mission, and I hope I can write you again tomorrow and tell you how it went."

Ambushed while heading home, Blackfoot Company delivers hard counterpunch
By Christian Lowe
Times staff writer
Soldiers from Blackfoot Company, 1st/501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, responded to an ambush in Southeastern Afghanistan. It was the second enemy contact the unit has faced in a 24-hour period. No coalition forces were wounded in the action. -- Steve Elfers / Military Times
KHOST, Afghanistan -- It had been a good week patrolling the restive border region near Khost, near the border with Pakistan. This small band of soldiers had inspected houses for contraband, sipped tea with village elders and waged a firefight after they were ambushed by terrorist forces the day before.
It was time to join their fellow troops with the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment at their forward base at Camp Salerno. Time to get some rest, refit their equipment and take a much-needed shower. They were done; it was all down hill from here.
No such luck.
the convoy of more than a dozen Humvees had reached the mouth of the canyon leading down from their mountaintop position on this Good Friday afternoon when suddenly bullets and rocket-propelled grenades sizzled through the air around them.
Terrorists dug into hilltop positions to the west were trying to kill the soldiers with 3rd Platoon, Blackfoot Company
Soldiers with .50 caliber machineguns wheeled and ripped off some return fire as other troopers scrambled from their vehicles for higher ground. Deadly puffs of smoke rose from the craggy ridges as the Blackfoot soldiers pumped grenades from M203 and Mark19 guns at their attackers.
The convoy was badly exposed, its vehicles strung out for nearly 100 yards on open ground with mountains on either side. It could have been a turkey shoot.
But the Blackfoot troops put up a fierce resistance, setting up a mortar position within minutes and lobbing shells into the enemy's position.
"Birds inbound," one of the soldiers yelled over the deadly, rapid-fire "boom" of the heavy machineguns.
Then two A-10 Thunderbolt attack jets streaked overhead, rapidly followed by a pair of Marine AH-1W Super Cobra gunships. The aircraft swung immediately into the fray, scanning the mountain ridges with wide sweeping orbits looking for the perpetrators of the ambush.
"All I can say is God bless air support," said Spc. Bryan Hanks, of Spokane, Wash., as Cobras chopped low overhead.
The helicopters reported two suspicious caves and scanned them with forward-looking infrared scopes for any sign that the attackers might be hiding inside. But without a positive I.D., the Cobras did not fire. As the sun began to drop over the horizon, the company commander, Capt. Jonathan Chung, ordered his men to mount up and head out for the base. No casualties, no damaged equipment. The enemy had either been killed or, as most suspected, had melted back into the rocky Afghan hills.
"That's cheap shooting," said
Sgt. Cole Roupe, Alpha team leader with 3rd Squad. His second battle in 24 hours, the Orifino, Idaho native was clearly spoiling for more fight.
It was unclear who might have attacked the platoon this time. Just two days before, Blackfoot Company's 1st Platoon had searched a compound nearby and detained two men who held multiple passports, a horde of ammunition and guns and a makeshift radio antenna that the soldiers believed was meant for covert communications.
Maybe today's ambush was revenge for the April 7 raid, or maybe it was a sign of a larger push by al Qaida and its allies to undermine America's occupation here. Whatever the case, that's just how commanders want it; they've been trying for weeks to draw the enemy out, and now it looks like they're finally beginning to pop their heads above the ramparts.
"This is the effect we've been trying to achieve for the past four-to-five weeks," said one battalion leader.
"We had to make ourselves look weak to get them to come down on us."

Town to build barrier to avert pollution from base
Associated Press
ROY, Utah -- Environmental officials plan to build a barrier to speed cleanup of a mile-long groundwater contamination through the southern part of this city.
The effort is intended to remove a contaminant called trichloroethylene, caused by nearby Hill Air Force Base. The Roy plume is one of 12 caused by improper disposal of degreaser and jet fuel at Hill.
The proposed reactive barrier is a key component of the second phase of a cleanup process that could take up to 30 years to complete.
It would include a 650-foot-long trench holding a sand and iron mixture. TCE found in water passing through the barrier would be broken down into harmless components, said Mark Loucks, an environmental engineer.
TCE has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory rats, but hasn't been linked to cancer in humans. It's currently classified as a probable carcinogen.
Traces of the chemical have been detected in 25 of 210 tested homes in the plume area.

Posted by maximpost at 1:20 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 12 April 2004 1:46 AM EDT
Friday, 9 April 2004


Cheney to promote nuke reactors to China


Vice President Dick Cheney, center, shakes hands with Anchorage, Alaska mayor Mark Begich at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, Friday, April 9, 2004. Cheney is en route to Asia. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)
WASHINGTON -- On a trip to China next week to talk about high-stakes issues like terrorism and North Korea, Vice President Dick Cheney will have another task - making a pitch for Westinghouse's U.S. nuclear power technology.
At stake could be billions of dollars in business in coming years and thousands of American jobs. The initial installment of four reactors, costing $1.5 billion apiece, would also help narrow the huge U.S. trade deficit with China.
China's latest economic plan anticipates more than doubling its electricity output by 2020 and the Chinese government, facing enormous air pollution problems, is looking to shift some of that away from coal-burning plants. Its plan calls for building as many as 32 large 1,000-megawatt reactors over the next 16 years.
No one has ordered a new nuclear power reactor in the United States in three decades and the next one, if it comes, is still years away. So, China is being viewed by the U.S. industry as a potential bonanza.
Cheney's three-day visit to Beijing and Shanghai next week is part of a weeklong trip to Asia that will also include a stop in Tokyo. He departed Washington on Friday.
A senior administration official, briefing reporters about the trip, said Cheney will not "pitch individual commercial transactions." But he intends to make clear "we support the efforts of our American companies" and general access to China's markets, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Some critics are concerned about such technology transfers.
"This pitch could not be more poorly timed," Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, told a hearing of the House International Relations Committee recently.
Citing recent Chinese plans to help Pakistan build two large reactors that are capable of producing plutonium, he said it is not the time for China to be rewarded with new reactor technology. U.S. officials said the Chinese have given adequate assurances that such sales will not pose a proliferation risk.
Bid solicitations for four new reactors are expected to be issued by the Chinese within months.
The leading competitors are U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Co. and a French rival, Areva, which is peddling its next-generation reactor built by its Framatome subsidiary.
Westinghouse is putting its hopes on its 1,100 megawatt AP1000 reactor, an advanced design that is still waiting approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission before it can be built in the United States. Westinghouse, owned by the British nuclear firm BNFL, is the only U.S.-based manufacturer of a pressurized water reactor, the type of design China has said it wants to pursue.
"Clearly the China market is very important to the industry and a supplier like Westinghouse," said Vaughn Gilbert, a spokesman for the Pittsburgh-based reactor vendor. "The Chinese market is one that we're pursuing."
Each of the AP1000 reactors are expected to cost about $1.5 billion. "We would assume there would be more than one order," Gilbert said, since China has indicated it wants a standardized design across its reactor program. A successful bid could mean 5,000 American jobs, Gilbert said in an interview.
For the nuclear industry, the potential windfall goes beyond building the power plants.
"The opportunity is not just in selling the Chinese a number of reactors, but engaging them for a longer term in a strategic partnership," says Ron Simard, who deals with future plant development at the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group. That could mean future construction contracts as well as plant service business.
The reactor business has been nonexistent in the United States since the 1970s. No American utility has ordered a new reactor since the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident.
So, vendors like Westinghouse are relying on business elsewhere, especially Asia.
China currently has nine operating reactors, including French, Canadian, Russian, and Japanese designs as well as their own model, producing 6,450 megawatts of power, or about 1.4 percent total capacity. Chinese officials have estimated that by 2020 the country will need an additional 32,000 megawatts from its nuclear industry, or about 32 additional reactors.
Even with the surge in reactor construction, nuclear power will only account for 8 percent of China's future electricity needs. Chinese officials said at an energy conference in Washington last year their country must more than double its coal-fired generation and build more dams, erect windmills and tap natural gas to meet future electricity demands.
Cheney Reaching Out to Asia
Iraq, N. Korea's Nuclear Crisis Top Likely Agenda
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 9, 2004; Page A12

Vice President Cheney departs today on only his third foreign trip since taking office, a week-long tour of Japan, China and South Korea designed to cement ties and press for progress in the North Korea nuclear crisis. But the sudden flare-up of violence in Iraq -- including the seizure of Japanese and South Korean nationals -- could dominate Cheney's talks with key leaders.
A senior administration official, briefing reporters in advance of the trip, said the kidnappings will be "very much on their minds" in Tokyo and Seoul and thus will be a likely topic for discussion. Japan and South Korea each have more than 500 military personnel in Iraq assisting reconstruction, and the possible deployment of 3,000 South Korean troops has become an issue in next Thursday's parliamentary elections.
Seven South Korean missionaries were briefly kidnapped yesterday and later freed unharmed. But an Iraqi group said yesterday that it will burn alive three Japanese hostages -- two aid workers and a journalist -- unless Tokyo withdraws its troops from Iraq within three days. The deadline would be during Cheney's time in Tokyo, the first stop on his tour.
Cheney, who will travel only with his own foreign policy advisers rather than State Department officials or National Security Council staffers, will tell the Asian allies that the Bush administration believes "it is very important to stay on course" and that the United States will stay in Iraq "as long as necessary to get the job done," said the senior official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
"It's a classic case, I think, of those who are opposed to what we're trying to do in Iraq, trying to change the behavior of governments through terror, intimidation, the threat of violence," he said. "It's important that those of us who are working on this overall effort not allow that to happen."
North Korea's nuclear ambitions had been expected to be at the center of the discussions with all three countries, though the official sought to play down expectations of any breakthrough. "We've got to keep working the problem; it's three yards and a cloud of dust," he said. "There is no touchdown pass here, so to speak."
Another administration official said that Beijing, after a meeting between the Chinese foreign minister and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, recently informed a U.S. envoy that the onus was on the United States to show more flexibility. But Cheney is expected to emphasize that the administration is determined to insist that North Korea resolve the impasse over its nuclear programs. The administration has insisted that North Korea irreversibly and verifiably dismantle them.
"It will be useful for the Chinese to hear him say plainly, as he does, that when we say no incentives, we mean no incentives," the official said, also speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The White House has not disclosed precise details of Cheney's trip, but Asian news services have reported that Cheney will arrive in Tokyo tomorrow. He will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and the Japanese emperor. Before leaving for China, Cheney will give a speech celebrating 150 years of U.S.-Japan relations.
In China, Cheney will meet Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan, Premier Wen Jiabao, former president Jiang Zemin and President Hu Jintao in Beijing and give a speech at Fudan University in Shanghai. He will then fly to Seoul to meet with Prime Minister Goh Kun, also South Korea's acting president during the country's impeachment trial of Roh Moo Hyun, and address U.S. troops.
The timing of Cheney's trip -- originally scheduled for a year ago but later scrubbed by the White House -- was dictated by the Senate schedule, the senior official said. Cheney, who in his role as president of the Senate can cast the tie-breaking vote, does not like to leave the country when the Senate is in session.
But traveling next week leaves the vice president vulnerable to possible awkward moments. He is to arrive in Seoul on the day parliamentary elections are held. And he may be in China when the dispute over Taiwan's elections are resolved.

? 2004 The Washington Post Company

North Korea says standoff with US at "brink of nuclear war"
North Korea said Friday the standoff over its atomic ambitions was on the brink of nuclear war as US Vice President Dick Cheney headed to the region for talks with key Asian allies.
The Stalinist state's official news agency accused Washington of "driving the military situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war" with plans for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea.
Cheney is expected in Tokyo on Saturday on the first leg of an Asian tour that also takes him to China and South Korea.
North Korea described six-party talks held in Beijing in February as "fruitless," their harshest assessment so far of the meeting that brought together the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.
"The US demand that the DPRK (North Korea) scrap its nuclear programme first is the main obstacle in the way of solving the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the US," the Korean Central News Agency said in a commentary.
"It is a well-known fact that the second round of the six-way talks held in Beijing last February proved fruitless due to the US demand that the DPRK dismantle its nuclear program first."
Washington is demanding the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantling of North Korea's nuclear prorgammes, both plutonium and enriched uranium schemes, before it will offer concessions to the impoverished state.
Pyongyang denies having a uranium programme and has said it will freeze its plutonium weapons programme in return for simultaneous rewards from Washington.
A new round of six-party talks is expected before the end of June while working parties are supposed to be set up to resolve address contentious issues.
South Korea's foreign ministry said all participating countries were ready for working level talks apart from North korea, which has yet to give the go ahead.
In the commentary the North Korean news agency said Pyongyang had no choice but to boost its nuclear weapons drive in the face of US intransigence and its "moves to put the strategy of pre-emptive nuclear attack into practice."
Cheney's trip to Asia has been overshadowed by the deteriorating security situation in Iraq where insurgents are threatening to kill three Japanese hostages unless Tokyo pulls out troops from the war-torn region.
Seven South Koreans were released earlier Friday after also falling into the hands of insurgents.


Muslim charity asks U.S. for frozen funds
WASHINGTON -- A Muslim charity is seeking permission to have some of its money, which was frozen by the government, released for legitimate aid purposes.
The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development filed a request Friday to the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control to unfreeze $50,000 to be sent to the Palestine Children's Relief Fund, which seeks to provide free medical care for Palestinian children in the Middle East.
The Bush administration in 2001 accused Holy Land, a Texas-based group, of financing the militant Islamic group Hamas and ordered U.S. banks to freeze its assets. Holy Land says it has never donated money or provided services to Hamas, a group the government says is a foreign terrorist organization.
The Treasury Department had no immediate comment on Holy Land's request. Last year, a Treasury official said the general notion of taking frozen charitable assets and releasing them for legitimate aid purposes was a complex matter worth exploring.
Saudis dismiss U.S. oil diversification efforts

Friday, April 9, 2004
Saudi Arabia appears unimpressed with U.S. efforts to diversify its energy suppliers.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al Nueimi predicted that alternatives to Persian Gulf crude oil would diminish over the next decade, Middle East Newsline reported. Al Nueimi said there were no proven oil or natural gas reserves that could compete with those in the Gulf region -- including those in Africa, the North Sea, Caspian Sea or Russia.
"And so eventually it's going to come down, in the next 10 years or so, to the [Persian] Gulf area," Al Nuemi said in an interview with the Oil & Gas Journal. "I know people today are clamoring for diversification of sources of supply and stability in the gulf area. Believe me, in the final analysis, the world will be better off to depend on the Gulf. That's where God has put those reserves."
The Saudi minister dismissed claims by U.S. experts that Saudi oil reserves were depleting. He said the kingdom has proven reserves of 260.4 billion barrels of which half has been developed.
Copyright ? 2004 East West Services, Inc.


Pentagon: Tanker plan needs major changes


WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon should not move forward on a $23.5 billion plan to acquire 100 midair refueling tankers from Boeing Co. until significant changes are made to the deal, the Pentagon's inspector general said Friday.
In a highly critical report, Inspector General Joseph Schmitz said procedural and financial problems with the deal could cause the government to spend up to $4.5 billion more than necessary.
Once the changes are made, however, there is no compelling reason not to complete the deal, the report said.
The long-anticipated report said the Air Force's decision to acquire the tankers as a commercial item put the Pentagon at "high risk for paying excessive prices and profits and precludes good fiduciary responsibility" for Defense Department funds.
It also said senior Air Force officials failed to comply with military contracting laws; accepted insufficient or inaccurate Boeing data during negotiations; and wrongly waived any right to audit the program once it gets started.
The Air Force, in a response included in the report, said it followed procedures outlined by Congress "and reviewed and improved within the (Defense) Department using approved acquisition processes."
The Air Force and Boeing also disputed the report's claim that the Air Force "cannot ensure to the war fighter" that the tankers will meet the military's operational requirements.
In a detailed statement, Boeing said it met 26 key performance standards set out in a November 2001 Air Force document and modified the following March. The company created "a totally compliant design" that meets all Air Force requirements, as well as standards set by senior Pentagon officials, Boeing said.
The Air Force said in its response that the new KC-767s "will be the world's newest and most advanced tanker" and are "critical to the defense of our country."
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a leading supporter of the deal, said the report "confirmed what I have been saying for nearly three years: We need these airplanes, and there is no reason to stop the tanker lease from moving forward."
The planes will be made at Boeing's Everett, Wash., plant, and modified for military use in Wichita, Kan. In the unusual deal, the Defense Department would lease 20 767 tankers and buy another 80 planes.
"The bottom line is that the IG found no reason not to proceed with the tanker deal - and that's good," said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.
Lt. Col. Jennifer Cassidy, an Air Force spokeswoman, said the report demonstrates "fundamental differences in interpretation" between the audit team's experts and Air Force acquisition and legal experts.
"Although this was an admittedly complex and novel proposal to lease commercial aircraft modified to serve as tanker aircraft, the audit team found no compelling reason to not proceed with the leasing arrangement," Cassidy said.
The Air Force believes that language enacted by Congress in late 2001 supports the lease program, and that its terms provide sufficient protection for taxpayers, Cassidy said.
The inspector general has been looking into the deal since last year, after questions arose about ethical issues surrounding the way Boeing pursued the multibillion-dollar contract.
A grand jury in Virginia is investigating potentially illegal actions by Darleen Druyun, a top Air Force official involved in the contract talks who was later hired by Boeing. Druyun was fired last year, after an internal review found improprieties in her hiring.
Boeing also fired its chief financial officer over what it depicted as an attempted cover-up of the hiring procedures. The Pentagon later suspended the contract pending completion of the inspector general's report and separate studies by the Pentagon's general counsel, the Defense Science Board and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
The report released Friday outlines three options for the Pentagon, including delaying the entire project until an analysis of alternatives is completed - which could force officials to reopen the project to new bids.
In the best option for Boeing, the report advises the Pentagon to alter more than a dozen aspects of the deal before moving forward with the existing plan.
Another option calls for the Pentagon to make changes and acquire 100 tankers, and then initiate an analysis of alternatives for any remaining planes.
On the Net:
Boeing Co.:
>> 9/11 UH...

Osama brief 'old intel'
senator stated in 2002
Bob Graham said Aug. 6 memo to president had details his panel had known for 3 years

Posted: April 9, 2004
5:00 p.m. Eastern
? 2004
The Presidential Daily Brief at the heart of contentious exchanges in Condoleezza Rice's 9-11 Commission testimony yesterday contained old information about Osama bin Laden's threat to the United States, according to comments made two years ago by Democratic Sen. Bob Graham of Florida.
The May 21, 2002, interview with Human Events magazine backs up Rice's insistence that an Aug. 6, 2001, memo to President Bush did not warn of specific attacks inside the United States, but rather was "historical information based on old reporting."
In the 2002 interview, Graham said the Senate Intelligence Committee, which he chaired, saw all the information given to the president.
The senator said the threats of hijacking in the Aug. 6 memo were based on very old intelligence the committee had seen earlier.
"The particular report that was in the President's Daily Briefing that day was about three years old," Graham said. "It was not a contemporary piece of information."
Yesterday, however, commission member and Democratic lawyer Richard Ben-Veniste pressed Rice on the memo.
Ben-Veniste: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6th PDB [Presidential Daily Briefing] warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?
Rice: I believe the title was, Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.
Now, the . . .
Ben-Veniste: Thank you.
Rice: No, Mr. Ben-Veniste . . .
Ben-Veniste: I will get into the . . .
Rice: I would like to finish my point here.
Ben-Veniste: I didn't know there was a point.
Rice: Given that - you asked me whether or not it warned of attacks.
Ben-Veniste: I asked you what the title was.
Rice: You said, did it not warn of attacks. It did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting. There was no new threat information. And it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.
Presidential Daily Briefs are a compilation of information from law enforcement and intelligence agencies which normally are seen only by top presidential officials.
The commission already has had access to the Aug. 6, 2001, brief, but chairman Thomas Kean said he wants it released to the public "because we feel it's important that the American people get a chance to see it."
National Security Council spokesman, Sean McCormack said yesterday, "We have every intention to declassify it."

Vox Populi
Rice is tasked to fall on her sword.
Compiled by Kevin Arnovitz
Updated Friday, April 9, 2004, at 1:59 PM PT

Subject: "Rice is Tasked to Fall on Her Sword"
Re: "Condi Lousy: Why Rice is a bad national security adviser."
From: BeverlyMann
Date: Fri Apr 9 1229h
One clear inference can be drawn from Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission this morning: She has been a bad national security adviser--passive, sluggish, and either unable or unwilling to tie the loose strands of the bureaucracy into a sensible vision or policy. In short, she has not done what national security advisers are supposed to do.
Actually, what is clear to me now--after watching Rice's testimony and then reading some of the more astonishing quotes from it last evening in various news reports--is that Rice isn't a national security adviser at all. That is, her job--unlike that of all the others, such as Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, John Poindexter, Anthony Lake and Sandy Berger--was, and is, not to give the president national security advice but instead to carry out orders given by those who actually were devising national security policy: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith.
Rice was simply a glorified supervisory bureaucrat. Her job was to take and carry out orders--or, as she repeatedly put it, to be "tasked"--to carry out this or that bureaucratic aspect of the national security policy set by Cheney and Rumsfeld with the input of Wolfowitz and Feith. Rice was almost as much out of the loop as was Richard Clarke; she was present at these "principles' meetings, but only to receive her marching orders.
Rice didn't get Clarke a meeting with the principles because Rice couldn't get Clarke a meeting with the principles. Rice didn't order the FBI director to "shake the trees" of that agency--nor even to notify the field offices of the stunningly clear indications from al Qaeda intercepts about a very, very, very, very big and imminent terrorist attack possibly within this country, or even inquire whether the field offices that were tracking al Qaeda cells within this country had any information that, viewed in light of the intercepted messages, might help pinpoint any such plot within the U.S.--because Rice lacked the authority to do so on her own.
Nor, apparently, did she even have the authority to decide on her own to demand that the FBI director (and later the acting FBI director) do so. Apparently, she lacked the authority even to notify the FBI director of the threats--excuse me, of the non-threats--about some "unbelievable news in coming weeks," about a "big event" that will cause "a very, very, very, very big uproar," about the announcement that "there will be attacks in the near future".
And she didn't have the authority--or maybe the proper word here is clout--to persuade Bush meet not just with the CIA director but also with the FBI director. In that dramatic exchange between her and Ben-Veniste in which Ben-Veniste demanded a yes-or-no answer to his question whether Rice had told Bush "at any time prior to August 6th, of the existence of al-Qaida cells in the United States" although Rice herself had been told of this in early 2001, she answered, finally, that she didn't recall whether or not she had done so.
Rice wasn't tasked to tell the president of the existence of al Qaeda cells in the United States, and so she didn't. Rice was tasked with furthering Cheney's and Rumsfeld's goals of pushing the missile defense system's funding and development and of toppling Saddam Hussein.
The threat posed by Al Qaeda cells in the U.S. didn't further either of these two goals, and in fact hindered the first of them; a big argument against the obscenely expensive and scientifically unperfected missile system was precisely that with the end of the Cold War, the biggest security threat to the U.S. was the potential for terrorists to wreak havoc simply by infiltrating the country. So Rice, untasked to tell the president of the presence of al Qaeda cells within the U.S., didn't tell the president of the presence of al Qaeda cells within the U.S.
Bizarre though it was, her weirdest statement was not the one in which she that the intercepts about "a very, very, very, very big uproar" that will be caused by "unbelievable news in coming weeks" about "attacks in the near future" were "[t]roubling, yes," but because "they don't tell us when; they don't tell us where; they don't tell us who; and they don't tell us how" they were not quite troubling enough for her to task herself to notify the FBI director and the field offices about them.
No, of all the many bizarre comments Rice made yesterday, the loopiest, in my opinion-- and anyway the most starkly factually inaccurate--was her incessant claim that because of "structural" and legal prohibitions, the CIA director couldn't tell the FBI director that there were certain known al Qaeda operatives who had entered the country.
Is she claiming that at the "battle stations" shake-the-trees meetings that Clarke and others say occurred in late 1999 among the various national security "principles" including the CIA director and the FBI director didn't really occur because of structural problems? Or that those meetings occurred but that the CIA director didn't tell the FBI director any valuable information he had because it would have been illegal to do so? Or that the CIA director did pass along to the FBI director the information he had, and that his doing so violated the law?
Good heavens. What law, pray tell, is she talking about? What law would have prevented George Tenet from giving to the FBI director the pertinent information he had--about the contents of the al Qaeda intercepts and about the few al Qaeda operatives the CIA knew already had entered the country?
"Every day now in the Oval Office in the morning," Rice said in answer to a question about whether the structural problems that hampered communications between the CIA and the FBI had been resolved, "the FBI director and the CIA director sit with the president, sharing information in ways that they would have been prohibited to share that information before." Indeed. And that's precisely what Clarke said transpired during the Clinton administration in the weeks before the millennium, in order to try to thwart any planned terrorist attacks then. And it's exactly what Clarke says he tried to communicate with Bush, via Rice, that he, Bush should do.
Perhaps the most revealing answer Rice gave yesterday was in answer to a question inquiring about the steps, if any, Bush took in response to the information in the Aug. 6 security briefing that said [according to Bob Kerrey and Ben-Veniste] "that the FBI indicates patterns of suspicious activity in the United States consistent with preparations for hijacking." Rice said Bush met every day with the CIA director.
Not with the CIA director and the FBI director. Just with the CIA director. The structural problem that kept the FBI director and the CIA director from communicating the most critical information to each other during the months preceding 9/11 was, in other words, a structural problem of the Bush administration's own making.
That structural problem was, in turn, created by a truly profound one, a thoroughly stunning one--even to me. It's a structural problem revealed most starkly by Bush's failure, upon being told on Aug 6, 2001 that "that the FBI indicates patterns of suspicious activity in the United States consistent with preparations for hijacking" especially in light of George Tenet's warnings to him throughout that summer that al Qaeda intercepts were speaking of a very, very, very big event.
The structural problem is simply this: Bush was the president in name only, a genuine figurehead, with no intellectual decisionmaking capability whatsoever, and that Cheney was the actual president at least with respect to national security matters. The information in the Aug. 6 "PDB"--the presidential daily briefing--wasn't given to the actual president. Nor were Tenet's daily oral and written reports. They were given only to the figurehead president, and not transmitted to the real one, who already had determined the administration's national security agenda and therefore wasn't interested in them.
Thus Rice's constant references to policy rather than to responding to--acting in light of--information being received. Rice wasn't tasked to attempt to learn of the nature and locale of the impending very, very, very big event al Qaeda was planning because the policy regarding invading Afghanistan, and what they thought was the requisite of getting Pakistan on board, wasn't yet in place.
Among the more annoying euphemisms in currently in vogue among the punditry is the one they use to acknowledge that Bush is very seriously lacking in intellectual capacity: they say he is "incurious". But stupid as I recognize him to be, even I wouldn't have suspected that, handed information that the FBI indicates patterns of suspicious activity in the United States consistent with preparations for hijacking, and handed information that al Qaeda was planning an attack it thought would cause a huge uproar, George W. Bush would be so incurious as to not phone the FBI director and ask what exactly were those patterns of suspicious activity in the United States consistent with preparations for hijacking.
But now, thanks to Rice's testimony yesterday, I and all the world know that that wasn't tasked to Bush. It was tasked to Cheney--or rather it would have been, had Cheney rather than Bush been the one to receive the Aug. 6 PDB, and had he been the one to meet daily with Tenet.
I had thought throughout the Clarke controversy, until yesterday, that the real political damage to Bush from would come from the recognition by a majority of the public, finally, that it makes us less rather than more safe--both physically and economically--to have a strong-'n-decisive leader whose strength-'n-decisive leadership amounts to determining policy based purely on ideology and patronage rather than on the actual needs of the county and on facts, and who forces through these polices irrespective of circumstances and evidence about their actual effects on the country.
But I think now that that, even more than that, the political damage Bush will suffer will come from the ultimate epiphany that the most damning caricature of this president is true: He's jaw-droppingly stupid, and so Dick Cheney is the actual president. Cheney isn't obsessively secretive for nothing.
Troubling, yes. Very.
Condi Rice was asked to fall on her sword in order to try to keep this secret from escaping. She obliged and destroyed herself, but didn't succeed in her mission.

>> SLATE 2...

Decoding Rice's self-serving testimony.
By William Saletan
Updated Thursday, April 8, 2004, at 4:16 PM PT

Condi: in her own words

Four years ago, when the Justice Department deposed Al Gore in the Clinton fund-raising scandal, I poked fun at Gore's self-serving, hypocritical redefinitions of everyday words. Today, National Security Adviser Condi Rice resorted to similar tactics in her testimony before the 9/11 commission. Here's a glossary of her terms.

Gathering threats: Unclear perils that previous administrations irresponsibly failed to confront quickly. Example: For more than 20 years, the terrorist threat gathered, and America's response across several administrations of both parties was insufficient. Historically, democratic societies have been slow to react to gathering threats, tending instead to wait to confront threats until they are too dangerous to ignore or until it is too late.

Vague threats: Unclear perils that the Bush administration understandably failed to confront quickly. Example: The threat reporting that we received in the spring and summer of 2001 was not specific as to time, nor place, nor manner of attack. ... The threat reporting was frustratingly vague.

Up-to-date intelligence: The precise, useful information the administration responsibly demanded and got. Example: President Bush revived the practice of meeting with the director of Central Intelligence almost every day. ... At these meetings, the president received up-to-date intelligence. ... From Jan. 20 through Sept. 10, the president received at these daily meetings more than 40 briefing items on al-Qaida.

Specific threat information: The precise, useful information the administration didn't get, thereby absolving it of responsibility. Example: On Aug. 6, 2001, the president's intelligence briefing ... referred to uncorroborated reporting, from 1998, that a terrorist might attempt to hijack a U.S. aircraft in an attempt to blackmail the government into releasing U.S.-held terrorists. ... This briefing item was not prompted by any specific threat information.

Specific warnings: The precise, useful alerts the administration issued based on the information it got. Example: I asked Dick [Clarke] to make sure that domestic agencies were aware of the heightened threat period and were taking appropriate steps to respond. ... The FAA issued at least five civil aviation security information circulars to all U.S. airlines and airport security personnel, including specific warnings about the possibility of hijacking.

Briefing: Addition to a warning, without which the warning is insufficient. Example: To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Chairman, this kind of analysis about the use of airplanes as weapons actually was never briefed to us.

Recommendation: Addition to a briefing, without which the briefing is insufficient. Example: In the memorandum that Dick Clarke sent me on Jan. 25, he mentions sleeper cells. There is no mention or recommendation of anything that needs to be done about them.

Historical: Communications that mentioned the past and were therefore irrelevant to the future. Example: The Aug. 6 PDB [president's daily briefing] ...was not a particular threat report. And there was historical information in there about various aspects of al-Qaida's operations. ... This was not a warning. This was a historic memo.

Analytical: Documents given to the administration that were general and therefore useless. Example: On the Aug. 6 memorandum to the president, this was not threat reporting about what was about to happen. This was an analytic piece. ... Threat reporting is, "We believe that something is going to happen here and at this time, under these circumstances." This was not threat reporting. ... The PDB does not say the United States is going to be attacked. It says Bin Laden would like to attack the United States."

Broad: Documents issued by the administration that were general and therefore effective. Example: Our counterterrorism strategy was a part of a broader package of strategies that addressed the complexities of the region.

Structural: Factors that the administration couldn't influence because they were systematic. Example: The absence of light, so to speak, on what was going on inside the country, the inability to connect the dots, was really structural.

Chance: Factors that the administration couldn't influence because they were non-systematic. Example (answering charges that the administration might have disrupted the 9/11 plot by holding regular Cabinet "principals" meetings on terrorism): You cannot depend on the chance that some principal might find out something in order to prevent an attack. That's why the structural changes that are being talked about here are so important. Synonym: Lucky. Example: I do not believe that it is a good analysis to go back and assume that somehow maybe we would have gotten lucky by "shaking the trees." ... We had a structural problem.

Bureaucratic impediments: Factors that the administration couldn't influence because they involved the administration. Example: We did have a systemic problem, a structural problem. ... It was there because there were legal impediments, as well as bureaucratic impediments.

Set of ideas: Richard Clarke's proposals for fighting al-Qaida, prior to being adopted by Bush. Antonym: Plan. Example: We were not presented with a plan. ... What we were presented on Jan. 25 was a set of ideas.

Strategy: Clarke's proposals for fighting al-Qaida, as adopted by Bush. Example: We decided to take a different track. We decided to put together a strategic approach to this that would get the regional powers. ... But by no means did [Clarke] ask me to act on a plan. He gave us a series of ideas.

Swatting flies: Bill Clinton's weak, partial counterterrorist measures. Example: [Bush] made clear to us that he did not want to respond to al-Qaida one attack at a time. He told me he was tired of swatting flies. ... He felt that what the agency was doing was going after individual terrorists here and there, and that's what he meant by swatting flies.

Disrupting: Bush's strong, partial counterterrorist measures. Example: [Bush] directed the director of Central Intelligence to prepare an aggressive program of covert activities to disrupt al-Qaida.

Law enforcement: Clinton's weak policy of targeting individual terrorists. Example: That's actually where we've had the biggest change. The president doesn't think of this as law enforcement. He thinks of this as war.

Hunting down terrorists one by one: Bush's strong policy of targeting individual terrorists. Example: Under his leadership, the United States and our allies are disrupting terrorist operations, cutting off their funding and hunting down terrorists one by one.

Diplomacy: Clinton's impotent pleas to foreign governments. Example: We were continuing the diplomatic efforts. But we did want to take the time to get in place a policy that was more strategic toward al-Qaida, more robust.

Strong messages: Bush's potent pleas to foreign governments. Example: Within a month of taking office, President Bush sent a strong private message to President Musharraf, urging him to use his influence with the Taliban to bring Bin Laden to justice and to close down al-Qaida training camps.

Deferral: Clinton's irresponsible postponement of counterterrorism ideas. Example: We also made decisions on a number of specific anti-al-Qaida initiatives that had been proposed by Dick Clarke to me in an early memorandum after we had taken office. Many of these ideas had been deferred by the last administration.

Taking time: Bush's prudent postponement of counterterrorism ideas. Example: We did want to take the time to get in place a policy that was more strategic toward al-Qaida, more robust. It takes some time to think about how to reorient your policy toward Pakistan. It takes some time to think about how to have a more effective policy toward Afghanistan.

William Saletan is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War.


Seattle an al-Qaida target? Local security officials left out of loop

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told the nation yesterday -- and apparently for the first time law enforcement in Seattle -- that the CIA warned President Bush that al-Qaida terrorists might try to hijack an airplane and free would-be terrorist bomber Ahmed Ressam.
Ressam, who has become an important government witness in terrorism cases, has spent most of the time since his December 1999 arrest in the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac.
In testimony before the Sept. 11 commission, Rice added that checks had been made on whether a courthouse involving the Ressam case in 2001 was under surveillance and that "the FBI had full field investigations under way."
But the special agent in charge of the FBI's Seattle office at the time said yesterday that he never heard of any such investigations. And retired agent Charles Mandigo added that no one ever informed him of threats to the prison or the courthouse.
Mandigo is not alone:
The chief district judge who presided over Ressam's case said that his courthouse said no one told him his courthouse was under threat.
A deputy U.S. marshal charged with courthouse security said no one informed the Marshal's Service about the danger.
An assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting Ressam said he never heard a thing about it.
A federal anti-terrorism agent said if there was an investigation into threats against the courthouse and the prison, no one told the local joint terrorism task force.
But a White House spokesman defended Rice's testimony as accurate.
"These statements represent what was in the PDB (president's daily brief from the CIA) -- the information presented to the president," said spokesman Frederick Jones.
Asked why information about the threats appears not to have been passed on to federal and local law enforcement in Seattle, Jones said:
"I cannot take at prima facie value that you've contacted the correct FBI agents. I don't know what the ground truth is."
And Jones added that "whether the information (in the CIA briefing) is correct or not" is a matter for the intelligence agencies to address.
Jones urged that publication of a story wait until the White House declassifies the Aug. 6, 2001, briefing. He said it is highly likely that it will be made public today.
Rice's comments came in response to aggressive questioning from Sept. 11 Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste about the content of the intelligence briefing.
Rice responded by saying that:
"The fact is that this August 6th PDB was in response to the president's questions about whether or not something might happen or something might be planned by al-Qaida inside the United States. He asked because all of the threat reporting or the threat reporting that was actionable was about the threats abroad, not about the United States.
"This particular PDB had a long section on what bin Laden had wanted to do -- speculative, much of it -- in '97, '98; that he had, in fact, liked the results of the 1993 bombing.
"It had a number of discussions of -- it had a discussion of whether or not they might use hijacking to try and free a prisoner who was being held in the United States -- Ressam. It reported that the FBI had full field investigations under way.
"And we checked on the issue of whether or not there was something going on with surveillance of buildings, and we were told, I believe, that the issue was the courthouse in which this might take place."
Rice's mention of the 1993 bombing apparently refers to the attack in February of that year on the World Trade Center in New York.
Customs agents arrested Ressam in December 1999 after he arrived in Port Angeles on a ferry from Victoria, B.C. He had explosives in his trunk and had plans to use them at Los Angeles International Airport.
He is awaiting sentencing after striking a deal with the government to testify in other terrorism cases.
Proceedings in the Ressam case took place in two federal courthouses, Seattle and Los Angeles. The case began in Seattle before Chief District Judge John Coughenour, who moved the trial to Los Angeles because of pretrial publicity. Coughenour presided over the case in both cities. Asked yesterday whether he was told about a terrorist surveillance on the courthouse, he said: "No sir. No, I never heard anything about it." Coughenour has a top-secret security clearance.
The U.S. Marshals Service, an agency of the Department of Justice, is responsible for courthouse security. One deputy marshal present during the Ressam proceedings said yesterday: "I never heard it. If I knew they were doing surveillance of our building, we would have done countersurveillance."
A chief deputy marshal at the Los Angeles federal courthouse yesterday refused to comment.
But former Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Gonzalez, a member of the team who prosecuted Ressam, said yesterday that he was not told of any FBI investigations or threats to the courthouse. "I knew nothing of it," said Gonzalez, now a state court judge.
And a member of Ressam's defense team, federal public defender Tom Hillier, said yesterday that no one informed him of such a threat. Hillier said yesterday that security arrangements surrounding Ressam did not hurt the defense team's ability to do its job.
Hillier said Ressam has spent most of his time since he was arrested at the federal detention center in SeaTac.
P-I reporter Paul Shukovsky can be reached at 206-448-8072 or

Side Show
Bush pursued continuity; who knows what the 9/11 Commission is pursuing.
Give Condoleezza Rice credit for candor. Testifying before the 9/11 Commission today, President Bush's national-security adviser acknowledged that the United States "simply was not on a war footing" at the time the terrorist atrocities of 9/11 were committed.
When should the U.S. government have taken the threat of radical, ideological Islamism seriously? Perhaps as far back as 1979, when our embassy in Tehran was seized by Iranian theocrats; perhaps as far back as 1983 when Hezbollah suicide terrorists slaughtered hundreds of U.S. Marines and diplomats in Beirut; certainly as far back as the attacks over Lockerbie, at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa and the USS Cole.
But that's not what happened. Instead, one American administration after another, Democratic and Republican alike, made gestures, sent signals, and mobilized lawyers armed with subpoenas. The terrorists and their masters could only have been amused. Yes, it would have been brilliant had President Bush entered the Oval Office, looked at this pattern and quickly concluded: "From this moment on, defeating terrorism and the ideologies driving terrorism should be seen as America's top priority. I want these networks rolled up ASAP. Use whatever means necessary."
Actually, President Bush came close to saying that. He asked for a policy review and a comprehensive strategy. But even had Dr. Rice -- or counterterrorism "czar" Richard Clarke -- come up with such a plan within 24 hours, President Bush could not have implemented it during his first eight months in office. The U.S. government simply did not have the means at its disposal. Consider:
The FBI's mission and culture stressed solving crimes, not preventing them.
The intelligence community didn't have good enough intelligence -- which led, for example, to Clinton bombing a Sudanese aspirin factory a few years earlier, thinking it was a WMD factory.
The Pentagon didn't know much about terrorists -- the Defense Department's manual on fighting "small wars" was written in 1940.
The Foreign Service hadn't prepared the ground -- Pakistan was still cozy with the Taliban and would not have permitted the U.S. to mount acts of war from their territory. Key foreign-service officers were still supporting what they called "moderate" Taliban elements.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service was too hopeless a muddle to distinguish between tourists eager to see the Statue of Liberty and terrorists eager to mass murder infidels.
And Congress -- Democrats, for sure, but also such Republican mandarins as Senators Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar -- would have been apoplectic had President Bush attempted to take any of the measures necessary to root out the long-established weeds of terrorism. Imagine the uproar had Bush begun assassinating terrorist leaders around the world or preemptively invaded Afghanistan.
Instead, of course, as Condoleezza Rice made clear today, the new Bush administration did the reasonable thing, the responsible thing, the bipartisan thing: It maintained continuity. It sailed the course set by President Clinton, and it even used key members of the Clinton crew.
George Tenet was retained as director of Central Intelligence. Dick Clarke kept his job as White House terrorism adviser. Others who might have expected to receive pink slips were instead given a pat on the back and told to keep up the good work. A Democrat -- Norman Mineta -- was named secretary of transportation, the Cabinet position most responsible for airline safety.
President Roosevelt waited until after World War II to put in place a commission to investigate what mistakes led to Pearl Harbor. That was a wise move, but then Roosevelt did not face the kind of hyper-partisanship that plagues America these days. (Washington Post columnist David Broder recently pointed out that when FDR ran for reelection during World War II, he emphasized his record as a war leader. Broder might have added that FDR's Republican opponent, Thomas Dewey, declined to criticize the president in regard to foreign policy during a time of war. It's almost hard to believe that there was a time when Americans knew the difference between their foreign enemies and their political adversaries.)
Increasingly, it seems the 9/11 Commission is losing its way. Its mission is to learn lessons -- not to lay blame. Its mission is to come up with recommendations for a more effective antiterrorism strategy.
Its mission is not to stage a reality-TV show, not to hold an inquisition, not to promote books (and, no doubt, movie deals), not to scold Rice as though she were a student who claimed her dog had eaten her homework.
But that's what the public is seeing out here in TV-land.
-- Clifford D. May, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, is president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism.
9/11 documents show hijacking warnings


Commission member Richard Ben-Veniste questions National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice during testimoney to the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks Thursday, April 8, 2004, in Washington Commission chairman Thomas Kean watches at left. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
WASHINGTON -- U.S. government agencies issued repeated warnings in the summer of 2001 about potential terrorist plots against the United States masterminded by Osama bin Laden, including a possible plan to hijack commercial aircraft, documents show.
While there were no specific targets mentioned in the United States, there was intelligence indicating al-Qaida might attempt to crash a plane into the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. And other reports said Islamic extremists might try to hijack a plane to gain release of comrades.
The escalating seriousness was reflected in a series of warnings issued by the State Department, Federal Aviation Administration, Defense Department and others detailing a heightened risk of terror attacks targeting Americans.
Whether the Bush administration had enough information to take more aggressive action is at the heart of the dispute over the contents of an Aug. 6, 2001, intelligence briefing the White House was working to declassify at the urging of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks. White House officials said the document would not come out Friday and probably would not be ready for release until early next week.
Several Democrats on the commission claim the memo, called a presidential daily brief, or PDB, included current intelligence indicating a high threat of hijackings. It was titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."
"Something was going to happen very soon and be potentially catastrophic," said one of the Democrats, former Indiana Rep. Timothy Roemer. "I don't understand, given the big threat, why the big principals don't get together."
National security adviser Condoleezza Rice repeatedly told the panel Thursday that the document was a history of al-Qaida threats and contained no new imminent threat information requiring different government action. The possibility of hijackings was being investigated by the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration, she said, adding that most of the summer 2001 threats concerned U.S. interests abroad.
"The country had taken the steps that it could given that there was no threat reporting about what might happen within the United States," Rice said.
Congress already has conducted an investigation into the attacks and its final report includes a detailed timeline of the increasing threats U.S. officials picked up during the summer of 2001. It also includes some of the material from the PDB.
The memo mentioned intelligence that bin Laden wanted to hijack aircraft to gain release of prisoners in the United States. The PDB also contains FBI information about "patterns of activity consistent with preparations for hijackings or other attacks," according to congressional investigators.
A key event occurred on June 21, 2001, when a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., returned a 46-count indictment charging 13 Saudis and one Lebanese with the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers complex in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. service personnel.
Rumors of the coming indictment had been circulating for weeks before that, according to officials familiar with the intelligence, leading to increased worries that terrorists might take some action in connection with the case.
The next day, June 22, the FAA issued a nationwide circular "referring to a possible hijacking plot by Islamic terrorists to secure release of 14 persons incarcerated in the United States" in the Khobar Towers case. In fact, the 14 were still at large, although the circular did not mention that. They remain fugitives to this day.
More terrorism warnings quickly followed, including:
- A worldwide caution issued June 22 by the State Department warning Americans abroad of increased risk of terror attacks.

- Four Defense Department alerts between June 22 and July 20 alerting U.S. military personnel that "bin Laden's network was planning a near-term, anti-U.S. terrorist operation."

- A July 2 bulletin from the FBI to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies describing "increased threat reporting" about bin Laden or groups allied with al-Qaida. The bulletin suggested the greatest risk of an attack was overseas "although the possibility could not be discounted" of an attack inside the United States.

- Intelligence received by U.S. agencies in August about the plot to either bomb the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi from an airplane or crash an aircraft into the building. The report cited two unidentified people who met in October 2000 to discuss this plot on instructions from bin Laden.

A senior law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the FBI issued at least two other bulletins in 2001 about the terror threat intelligence but did not include directives for field offices to take specific actions because there was no imminent threat to the homeland.
There had been numerous earlier reports of bin Laden's interest in using aircraft for terror attacks, including a 1998 plot to fly an explosives-laden plane from a foreign country into the World Trade Center and an April 2000 plot to hijack a Boeing 747 and either fly it to Afghanistan or blow up.
But in December 2000, the FBI and FAA issued a classified threat assessment that played down the possibility of a threat to domestic aviation from terror operatives known to be in the United States.
"Terrorist activity within the U.S. has focused primarily on fund-raising, recruiting new members and disseminating propaganda," that report says. "While international terrorists have conducted attacks on U.S. soil, these acts represent anomalies in their traditional targeting which focuses on U.S. interests overseas."
The congressional intelligence inquiry's report suggests that this mind-set, less than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks, may have contributed to an overall U.S. view that there was a low probability of attacks on American soil, particularly using aircraft as weapons.

On the Net:

Joint intelligence report:

9/11 Commission:


Possible local tie to Al Qaeda probed
Alleged operative and Saudi had same apartment
By Farah Stockman, Globe Staff, 4/9/2004

Newsweek reported yesterday that US investigators tracing wire transfers from the Saudi Arabian government found a possible connection to Al Qaeda in Boston.
According to the magazine, a Pakistani graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is alleged to have been an Al Qaeda operative had the same address as a Saudi national who received $20,000 from the Saudi government in July 2001.
Citing documents it had obtained, the magazine said that a unit at Fleet Bank that traces suspicious wire transfers had tracked $20,000 in transfers from a Saudi Arabian armed forces bank account to the Saudi national, Abdullah Al Reshood, in Boston. Al Reshood listed the same apartment number at the high-rise building at 75 St. Alphonsus Street as Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani MIT graduate who was wanted for questioning by the FBI last year and is alleged to be an Al Qaeda operative, Newsweek reported.
The transfer aroused suspicion, the magazine said, because as soon as Al Reshood received the money, he wrote a check for $20,000 to another Saudi named Hatem Al Dhahri, with whom he lived while he was in Boston. Al Dhahri then wired $17,193 to Saudi Arabia 10 days later to Al Reshood's bank account in Saudi Arabia.
An individual who works for the Saudi government in Washington told the Globe yesterday that there was nothing sinister about the wire transfers from the Saudi government, which routinely supports Saudi citizens seeking degrees and medical treatment in the United States. The money was sent by the Saudi government to pay for liver treatment for Al Reshood's wife, who arrived at Brigham and Women's Hospital, arriving on April 24, 2001, and stayed in Boston for about 10 weeks, according to the person, who asked not to be identified. When Al Reshood returned to Saudia Arabia with his wife, he wrote the check to Al Dhahri because he wanted his friend to settle his bills, according to the person. Al Dhahri did, and sent him the balance. The building where Al Reshood and Al Dhahri stayed is near Brigham and Women's Hospital. The fact that Siddiqui, a microbiologist, had also lived in that building in the same apartment was "a coincidence," the person said, asserting "there is no connection."

Calls from the Globe to Fleet Bank and the FBI were not immediately returned.

? Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.

Tangled Ties
Law-enforcement officials follow the money trail among suspected terrorists straight to the doors of the Saudi Embassy NewsweekApril 7 - Within weeks of the September 11 terror attacks, security officers at the Fleet National Bank in Boston had identified "suspicious" wire transfers from the Saudi Embassy in Washington that eventually led to the discovery of an active Al Qaeda "sleeper cell" that may have been planning follow-up attacks inside the United States, according to documents obtained by NEWSWEEK.


U.S. law-enforcement officials familiar with the matter say there is no evidence that officials at the Saudi Embassy were knowingly financing Al Qaeda activity inside the country. But documents show that while trying to trace a tangled money trail beginning with the Saudi Embassy, investigators soon drew startling connections between a group of Saudi nationals receiving financial support from the embassy and a 34-year-old microbiologist and MIT graduate who officials have since concluded was a U.S. operative for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

The microbiologist, Aafia Siddiqui, a mother of three young children, has since fled the country--most likely to her native Pakistan-and is now wanted for questioning by the FBI. But "suspicious-activity reports" (SARS) filed by Fleet Bank with the U.S. Treasury Department, suggest that Siddiqui and her estranged husband, Dr. Mohammed Amjad Khan, an anesthesiologist, may have been active terror plotters inside the country until as late as the summer of 2002.

The reports show that Fleet Bank investigators discovered that one account used by the Boston-area couple showed repeated debit-card purchases from stores that "specialize in high-tech military equipment and apparel," including Black Hawk Industries in Chesapeake, Va., and Brigade Quartermasters in Georgia. (Black Hawk's Web site, advertises grips, mounts and parts for AK-47s and other military-assault rifles as well as highly specialized combat clothing, including vests designed for bomb disposal.)

Fleet accounts associated with the couple also showed "major purchases" from U.S. airlines and hotels in Pittsburgh and North Carolina as well as an $8,000 international wire transfer on Dec. 21, 2001, to Habib Bank Ltd., a big Pakistani financial institution that has long been scrutinized by U.S. intelligence officials monitoring terrorist money flows.

NEWSWEEK first reported, in a June 23, 2003, cover story, that the FBI had identified Siddiqui and Khan as suspected Al Qaeda agents. Internal FBI documents showed that, after his capture in March 2003, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed told U.S. interrogators that Siddiqui was supposed to support "other AQ operatives as they entered the United States." Agents also found evidence that she had rented a post-office box to help another Baltimore-based Al Qaeda contact who had been assigned by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to blow up underground gasoline-storage tanks. Bureau documents also stated that Khan, Siddiqui's husband, had purchased body armor, night-vision goggles and a variety of military manuals that were supposed to be sent to Pakistan.

The newly obtained SARS documents filed by Fleet shed additional light on the federal government's effort to track Siddiqui and Khan's activities--and raise questions about possible links to other Saudis in the United States. As early as October 2001, long before Khalid Shaik Mohammed's capture, FBI and Treasury Department investigators were alerted to the couple's possible terror links in a series of SARS filed by Fleet. At the time, Fleet's Financial Intelligence Unit was trying to trace $70,000 in wire transfers on the same day, July 10, 2001, to two Saudis in the United States. One, for $50,000 from the Saudi Armed Forces Account at the Riggs Bank in Washington, D.C., went to a Saudi student at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. Two others, totaling $20,000 from the same Saudi military account, went to a Saudi national named Abdullah Al Reshood in Boston.

NEWSWEEK has been unable to locate either Saudi. But a spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington said both wire transfers were consistent with the Saudi government's longstanding practice of providing educational and medical assistance to fellow countrymen living in the United States. The spokesman said the embassy has no reason to believe either Saudi has any connection to terrorist activity.

But Fleet security officers were concerned about the transactions from the start. Immediately after receiving the $20,000 wire from the Saudi Embassy in Washington, Al Reshood wrote a $20,000 check to another Saudi, Hatem Al Dhahri, who five days later wired $17,193 back to an account controlled by Al Reshood at the Al Rahji Bank in Saudi Arabia. "There appears to be no commercial reason nor reasonable explanation for the series of transactions," wrote one Fleet security officer in an Oct. 24, 2001, SARS report. Both Saudis lived at the same address, a high-rise apartment building in Boston's Mission Hill neighborhood that was frequented by Arab nationals. If the purpose of the expenditures was to provide medical expenses for either Al Reshood or Al Dhahri and their families in the United States, as the Saudis claimed, the security officials wanted to know why the money was being wired back to Saudi Arabia. Al Dhahri also listed as his address the same apartment number, 2008, as another Fleet Bank customer--Aafia Siddiqui.

It is still not clear what connection, if any, Al Dhahri had with Siddiqui or whether they shared the apartment at the same time. (The Fleet Bank records suggest that Al Dhahri and Siddiqui's accounts were both active and current in the fall of 2001 and do not indicate a change of address had been filed.) A Saudi Embassy spokesman said that the payments to Al Dhahri were to pay for liver treatments for one of his children in the United States. A Saudi Embassy spokesman said that Al Dhahri has been interrogated by the FBI and has denied any knowledge of the microbiologist.

But the common address prompted Fleet auditors to zero in on Siddiqui, resulting in more "links" that "shocked" the security officers, according to a source familiar with the matter. In addition to the expenditures for high-tech military equipment--items that seemed unusual for a microbiologist--the security officers found that Siddiqui was making regular debit-card payments to one Islamic charity, Benevolence International, that was under active investigation by federal agents for raising funds for terrorist causes. (The charity has since been shut down and its founder jailed.) In addition, Siddiqui was found to be active with the Al-Kifah Refugee Center, another Islamic charity that was ostensibly raising funds for Bosnian orphans but which also was under scrutiny by federal investigators.

A spokeswoman for Fleet, which last week was purchased by Bank of America, declined to comment on the bank's role, noting that it is a violation of federal law to even refer to the existence of a SARS. But investigators noted that Fleet Bank SARS stand in stark contrast to the lack of similar reports from Riggs Bank, where the Saudi Embassy kept its accounts and the wire transfers began. Riggs Bank's failure to alert investigators to a large number of unusual cash transactions by the Saudi Embassy and other foreign bank customers has led to a wide-ranging investigation by Treasury Department regulators that is likely to result in substantial civil fines imposed on the bank in the next few weeks, according to sources familiar with the matter. "Anytime, you have suspicious money movements, and it's not reported as needed, it hurts our overall efforts," a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said about Riggs' failure to file the SARS. Riggs recently terminated the Saudi Embassy as a client and, according to a story in today's Wall Street Journal, may be planning to drop its diplomatic business entirely.)

Riggs officials say they've initiated a program to more vigorously monitor financial accounts. And the bank late last year filed more than two-dozen reports involving Saudi Embassy transactions, including large overseas wire transfers and cash deposits made by Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan; his executive assistant, Ahmed A. Kattan; his chief military aide, Gen. Abdual Rahman Al-Noah, and other embassy officials.

Most of these transactions have no apparent links to terrorism and may simply reflect the Saudis' longstanding habit of mixing government and personal accounts. In one case, Kattan, who carries the rank of ambassador, deposited $6 million in embassy funds into his personal account at Riggs, wired $5.5 million to the agents of a school in Egypt and the remaining $500,000 to his own account in Saudi Arabia. Al-Noah, the military officer, made a total of $1.6 million in cash deposits--most in cash, one of them for $210,000--and then wired the money to pay for the purchase of furniture for a new palace in Saudi Arabia. Bandar himself wired $17 million last year to his construction manager for a new palace in Saudi Arabia. Just last December, one of Bandar's personal aides deposited $3 million in international drafts, converted them to dollars, and then wired substantial sums back overseas--including about $200,000 to a luxury-car dealer in Great Britain. (A Saudi spokesman said that Bandar has substantial business interests overseas, so it is not surprising that he would conduct such transactions.)

But other transactions raised eyebrows at the FBI. The Riggs accounts showed a number of checks to flight schools and flight-school students in the United States as well as 50 separate $1,000 American Express travelers checks issued by Bandar to Saudi employees between July 9, 2001 and Aug. 28, 2001--including seven that were deposited that summer at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. Riggs also reported $19,200 in payments from the Saudi Embassy to Gulshair al-Shukrijumah, a Florida-based imam who once served as an interpreter for the "blind Sheik" Omar Abdul Rahman, who was convicted in 1996 of a plot to blow up New York City landmarks. Gulshair al-Shukrijumah's son, Adnan al-Shukrijumah, also known as "Jaffar the Pilot," is a suspected Al Qaeda operative who is the subject of a worldwide FBI manhunt. (In response to U.S. demands to impose tighter controls, the Saudis have since terminated the payments to Gulshair al-Shukrijumah, along with a number of other clerics who were being supported by the embassy.)

A Saudi Embassy spokesman stressed that the Saudis have been actively cooperating with U.S. officials on all aspects of the war on terrorism and that the embassy has recently been assured by top FBI officials that the bureau "has no concerns" about any of the embassy accounts. But senior law-enforcement officials told NEWSWEEK that Saudi Embassy accounts--including the wire transfers related to Siddiqui--remain under active investigation. Told that the Saudis have been assured the FBI "has no concerns," a law-enforcement official made additional checks and reported back to NEWSWEEK: "That is not the case."

? 2004 Newsweek, Inc.
Syria's Gulag

By Farid N. Ghadry and Nir T. Boms | April 9, 2004

Close to a hundred Kurds were killed during a series of riots that started in the soccer game in the city of Qamoshli last month. Over 1,200 Kurds were arrested for treason, espionage, incitement and the disruption of the public order. This is the story of one of them, a 14 year old boy we will call Ahmed, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We received this email from Syria yesterday. It was a private message but we felt compelled to have it translated and shared with the world. We are not in liberty to share the real names of the people who sent this email or who wrote the memory of that experience since they are very much afraid to be the next in line at the torture chamber. The irony in all of this is that Baschar al-Assad visited the Kurds in 2002 and promised them a better future. The ability of the Syrian government to bring about a better future to the Syrian people should be measured by the eyes of Ahmed and his friends. Democracy in Syria remains the only hope and the only answer.

"I saw with my own eyes what I used to see in horror and scary movies and I heard with my own ears what I used to hear in stories told to me about the various savaged ways of torture" Yes... Yes... Here in my own country, in my own nation Syria, the one that just entered the civilization of the 21st century.

He told me this crying. "oh uncle", --he calls me uncle since he is my nephew, and he is almost 14-years old--"when they took me from the car near a hall with stairs going down, I was met by one agent after the other, counting all five of them, beating me on my back, on my stomach, on my arm, and every inch of my body. They forced me into a basement, then into a dark room full of people with a stench smell of feet and sweat and another smell that reminded me of a butcher shop. I stretched my leg to enter the dark room but instead I hit a body lying on the floor. He emitted a crying sound, so I tried to step away from the body and then I hit another one who sounded even worse than the first and then I froze. I started crying and fear gripped my whole body. I felt like I was in hell, all I could hear were the different sounds of pain coming from the different corners of the dark room. In about half an hour, the door to the room opened and finally I could see a bit of light. Only then, I realized that the room was no bigger than our modest kitchen at home with about 30 to 40 people in it. They were of different ages but the majorities were young, like me. I even recognized two of them who lived in our quarter.

A person shouted my name and I said "Present" as if I was in school. The man said `you are a Kurd, right? Come with me you son of a whore'. Upon exiting the room, trying hard not to bump into any body lying on the ground, I was, once again, met with punches from all sides to all parts of my body and my face. They were swearing and punching at the same time. I lifted my arms to protect myself only to have them brought down followed by more punches and more insults. Two or three held me and asked if my name is so and so, and when I said yes, they started again beating me with their fists coming from all sides and angles. Along the way, I remember them saying my mother became a whore for having had me and that my father was a dog. That is all I remember because the punches were making me weaker and I felt my feet buckle from under me. Several strong arms held me up and the punching continued accompanied by a crescendo of swearing, especially against my mother. They used terms against my sister and mother that I cannot repeat"

"Then they covered my eyes with a black cloth and continued the beating. But this time, I could not see where the punches were coming from. Again, I felt myself weak. I remember screaming and crying for help.

They stopped and started an interrogation. `What is your name? Which quarter do you come from? Why did you burn and throw stones?' Why? Why? Why? A barrage of questions that I could not answer for lack of focus. Then they asked who else was there with me. `Give us names, names, names'. Why were you marching?' I told them that I was not marching. Then someone called to bring me downstairs. I started crying again, uncontrollably. While still blindfolded, one asked to strip me down. They did. Then cold water hit me and I started shivering. The beating restarted but I slipped because of the water and they continued beating me with their feet while still on the ground. Someone stepped on my stomach hard, which I did not expect. All I remember next is that someone saying, place it in his mouth. It was my own feces.

Then they took me to another room, still naked, blindfolded and shivering. I felt them kneeling and attaching something to my toes, then to my fingers. Then, without any warning, I felt being electrocuted, yes uncle, electrocuted and I started crying again, not knowing what else to do. I was electrocuted twice while there for seven days. And each time, I cried like a baby, oh uncle, like a baby.

Each time, they asked do you confess. And each time I said I will confess. To what, I do not know. But I said yes, oh uncle, because I felt these were not humans, these people were not from our planet. While still blindfolded, they lifted my arm and placed my finger on a paper and told me that this was my confession.

They returned me to the room and took away the blindfold. I realized then all the people in that room were naked like me, naked, naked, and all crying and in pain. There were those with broken ribs; I could tell because when you bump into them, their scream is the loudest and it lifts them off the ground. Then, there were those whose blood has turned black and their bruises covered more areas of their body than their normal flesh. Some had salt sprinkled on their opened wounds and we were whispering to each other the pain they felt. One cried that they electrocuted him through his penis and testicles. He felt ashamed and could not stop crying. All young like me, oh uncle, all young like me.

Some had their finger nails removed. Another said that he was beaten with cables aimed at his penis as if it were a target. There was a young man, oh uncle, who stood all the time because he could not sit down or rest against the wall. We took turns, during these seven days, holding his head in our arms and body so that he could get some sleep. What I saw from these killers, I will never forget all my life, oh uncle; and I will never forgive them, never, ever forgive them. Never, oh uncle, Never".

Farid Ghadry is the President of the Syrian Reform Party. Nir Boms is a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the Council for Democracy and Tolerance.



Crime, Politics and Kerry's Missing FBI Files
By Marc Morano Senior Staff Writer
April 09, 2004
( - The author who alleges that three boxes of FBI files dealing with Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's anti-war group were stolen from his home last month, did not allow police officers the opportunity to process the crime scene.
The police report of the incident also neglects to mention that the Kerry campaign dispatched a messenger to the home of author Gerald Nicosia to pick up copies of the FBI files a week before the alleged theft of the documents. has obtained a copy of the police report related to the alleged theft of three of the 14 boxes containing FBI files that Nicosia was keeping in his home. Nicosia is the author of the book Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans' Movement and is a Kerry supporter. In addition to the three boxes, Nicosia alleges that "several file folders have been removed from the remaining 11 boxes," according to the police report.
The March 26, 2004 report from the Twin Cities Police Department in Larkspur, Calif., noted that "there were no signs of forced entry into the residence" and the department confirmed Thursday that there were still no leads or suspects in the case.
Absent from the police report was any mention of the fact that the Kerry campaign had sent an aide to Nicosia's house in Corte Madera, Calif., to review the documents. Kerry's campaign dispatched the aide on the same day reported that the FBI files showed Kerry was in attendance at a controversial 1971 meeting in Kansas City of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW).
That meeting allegedly involved the discussion of possibly trying to assassinate several U.S. senators still committed to the American war effort in Vietnam. Prior to the publication of the article on March 18, Kerry had repeatedly denied being in attendance at the meeting.
Nicosia said he reached out to Kerry's campaign a week before the documents were allegedly stolen.
"Senator Kerry was obviously [at the Kansas City Meeting in 1971]. I called the Kerry office and said, 'You know, I think you folks really should look at these documents before you make any further statements,' Nicosia told Joe Scarborough, the host of MSNBC's Scarborough Country on April 2.
"And ... they immediately sent a messenger to my house, got copies of the documents and that evening Senator Kerry did issue a retraction and said based on the documents, he now believed that he was at that meeting," Nicosia added.
The police report noted that journalists, including those from the Los Angeles Times and CNN had had access to Nicosia's home. The report also indicated that a sliding glass door repairman had been granted access to the home. But there is no mention of the Kerry campaign having sent a representative there.
In a statement Nicosia submitted to the Twin Cities Police Department, which was included in the report on the alleged theft, he stated that, "the [FBI] documents have significant political value in the upcoming Presidential election, as they cast John Kerry in various lights, both good and bad."
Nicosia also did not want the alleged crime "scene processed," according to the police report.
The narrative of the police report filed by officer Theo Mainaris reads: "I checked the residence and I did not locate any signs of forced entry. After talking about that situation with Nicosia, he informed me he did not want the scene processed."
Detective Patrick Eddinger of the Twin Cities Police Department told that Nicosia's refusal to have the scene processed was not "normal."
"It's not usually normal. Normally, we come in and we actually process the scene to see if we can find any fingerprints or anything else," Eddinger explained. "There was no force to anything in the residence -- what we could find -- in order to gain entry," he added.
Nicosia declined to be interviewed for this article.
Despite the lack of any evidence or leads, Nicosia is now publicly speculating that Republican Party operatives may have stolen the FBI documents from his home.
"I would say that the Republicans had the largest motivation," Nicosia told Scarborough last week. Scarborough said the case "almost sounds like a "West Coast version of Watergate, 2004."
When pressed on the issue, Nicosia went further in his accusations. "Oh, I would think it would be the Republicans, not John Kerry. I was cooperating with John Kerry. I'm a Kerry supporter," Nicosia said.
But Eddinger said he has no suspects at the moment. "It's an ongoing investigation. I am still trying to gather information," he said.
The Twin Cities Police department may seek some of that information from the Kerry campaign itself. "There is a couple of other people I need to talk to, including possibly the Kerry campaign," Eddinger said.
According to the police report, Nicosia alleged that the crime occurred on Thursday, March 25 while the house was empty from 2:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Treasury news releases on taxes attacked
WASHINGTON -- The Treasury Department issued a batch of tax-related press releases Friday that each carried a message saying America has a choice between growing the economy and raising taxes that could hurt the recovery.
Democrats immediately denounced the action as an improper use of government resources to subsidize political propaganda.
While the sentiment is a long held position of the Bush administration, it was the first time the department included this message in dark type at the bottom of some its news releases, said Treasury Department spokesman Rob Nichols.
"America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the president's policies are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation," the message on the releases said.
The message, on four of five different releases issued by the department, doesn't mention presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, a critic of President Bush's tax policies, or anyone else by name.
Asked whether the message was referring to Kerry, Nichols said: "No, it is a reference to anyone who suggests that raising taxes is the right thing to do. There have been many who suggest that taxes should be raised. We don't share that view."
Kerry spokesman David Wade said the language appears to be an improper use of official government resources for political purposes.
"Once again, there are questions to be asked about American taxpayers subsidizing political propaganda to distort the debate in our country and to whitewash President Bush's failed economic policies," Wade said.
"Those are questions that should be answered by the government itself, but they certainly don't refer to John Kerry's plan to provide middle-class tax relief and create incentives for American businesses which create good jobs here at home," Wade added.
Nichols said there was nothing improper with including the message on the tax releases. "That is nonsense, baseless and groundless," he said.
Treasury's decision to include the message on the bottom of several "April 15th Tax Day Reminder" releases follows the department's in-house analysis of Kerry's tax proposal last month. The analysis, requested by House Republican Leader Tom DeLay, was posted on the department's Web site March 22.
That ignited criticism from Kerry and other Democrats and prompted the department's inspector general to launch a preliminary inquiry into the matter.
"First the Bush Treasury Department did campaign research on the Kerry tax plan and now they are blatantly putting out Bush campaign statements that masquerade as a news release," said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. "This release has nothing to do with April 15 and everything to do with Nov. 2."
Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Debra DeShong said there should be an investigation to determine whether the language represents a violation of the Hatch Act, which restricts the political activities of government employees.
"For them to say it's not political, you know, it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, it's not a goose," DeShong said.
Democrats protested in 2001 when the Bush administration printed "Tax Relief for America's Workers" on tax refund checks sent to 92 million people. The checks refunded some $38 billion to taxpayers as part of the $1.35 trillion tax cut passed that year.
At the time, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe called the wording a "Republican campaign slogan." The Treasury Department said the line informed taxpayers about the purpose of the check, distinguishing it from other federal payments like Social Security and veterans' benefits.
Associated Press writer Sam Hananel in Washington contributed to this report.

Posted by maximpost at 8:49 PM EDT
Thursday, 8 April 2004


Beijing seeks multilateral Northeast Asian security
By Pang Zhongying
(Used by permission of Pacific Forum CSIS)

BEIJING - It's time to promote the establishment of a Northeast Asian regional security mechanism.

The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is of increasing concern to Northeast Asian countries. The two rounds of six-party North Korea nuclear talks brought together key regional governments: China, Russia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Republic of Korea (ROK), and Japan - as well as the United States. And the discussions have kindled a gleam of hope for the establishment of a multilateral security system in the region.
Many people say that the six-party talks, a special multilateral arrangement aimed at defusing the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, could develop into a general system to ensure security in Northeast Asia, if these meetings were to become a systematic and regular event.
The progress already made in the talks demonstrates that a permanent multilateral regional security system could help solve even the most sensitive security problems.
Northeast Asia should not base its security measures on bilateral frameworks any longer, according to many analysts. A multilateral security arrangement would offer a more effective and complementary guarantee of regional peace and stability. The regional security arrangement could coexist with alliance-oriented bilateral security relations.
Constructing a multilateral security framework in Northeast Asia is not a new idea. Countries such as Russia and Japan suggested setting up a Northeast Asian security mechanism after the end of the Cold War. Countries in the region have also conducted security dialogues at various levels with their neighbors. But a systematized regional security arrangement has remained a distant prospect.
The threat of instability in Northeast Asia is very real. The Korean nuclear issue and the Taiwan question remain unresolved, and these two serious issues, if not properly handled, could cause regionwide instability. The ROK and even Japan are exhibiting strong desires to explore more self-reliant foreign policies, while the influence of the "peaceful rise" of China increasingly is being felt. On the other hand, the US has never veiled its worries about the alleged intention of China to recover its traditional centrality in the region.
With regional security issues unresolved and no long-term development plans established, peaceful development in Northeast Asia cannot be brought about through the wishes of any individual country, according to many observers. Regional peace and stability can only be achieved through the collective and objective actions of countries in the region. In other words, neither self-help (China is a good example) nor military alliances are enough to face a changing security environment in the region.
Many common security concerns, despite differences
In the beginning, a Northeast Asian security framework could serve as a multilateral mechanism based upon the common security interests of member states. Although there are huge differences, regional governments still have many common security concerns that make a regional multilateral security framework worth working for.
However, a multilateral security framework built on common interests cannot be easily achieved, since the interests of all countries involved are continuously changing.
Any regional security arrangement in Northeast Asia that did not have US involvement would be unrealistic and impossible to achieve.
Although many people have criticized the unilateralism of President George W Bush's administration, the US will try multilateralism to deal with regional security challenges, as the six-party talks demonstrated. It is not clear whether the US has any interest in establishing a Northeast Asian security mechanism, but an all-inclusive and permanent arrangement for dealing with Northeast Asian security issues is in the interests of all countries - including the United States. Some Americans support the idea of this type of security mechanism. Others worry that it would contravene Washington's regional bilateral security arrangements.

From a Chinese perspective, a Northeast Asian security mechanism would have the following characteristics:

It would include China, and even a denuclearized North Korea.
It would co-exist with US-led bilateral security relations.
It would be justified or legitimized by ongoing cooperative and constructive China-US relations.
It could help solve other regional security problems, including the Taiwan problem.
It would lay the foundation for a future-oriented regional security community.

The prospect of regularized six-party talks has provided an opportunity to revisit the idea of building a regional security mechanism. Thus the efforts of all parties are needed to ensure success. A regional security mechanism should embrace the concept of mutual security. If North Korea were to participate, its reasonable security concerns should be assured and considered. The transformation of the regional security environment in Northeast Asia needs a successful conclusion of the six-party talks.
China increasingly shows interest in a six-party-talks-based regional security arrangement, so it is not impossible that some China-related security problems, such as the Taiwan issue, could be discussed at the regional level rather than just bilaterally. Proper discussions on most such sensitive issues might not only be helpful for the solution of the issue but also could help promote the building of the regional security mechanism.

Pang Zhongying is a Beijing-based analyst of international affairs and director of the Institute of Global Issues, Nankai University, China. He can be reached at This article was made available by Pacific Forum CSIS.

US: From nation-building to religion-building
By Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - One thing that can be said about United States neo-conservatives is that they do not lack for ambition.
"We need an Islamic reformation," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz confided on the eve of the US invasion of Iraq last year, "and I think there is real hope for one".
Echoing those views one year later, another prominent neo-conservative, Daniel Pipes of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum (MEF), recently declared that the "ultimate goal" of the war on terrorism had to be Islam's modernization, or, as he put it, "religion-building".
Such an effort needs to be waged not only in the Islamic world, geographically speaking, added Pipes, who last year was appointed by President George W Bush to the board of directors of the US Institute for Peace, but also among Muslims in the West, where, in his view, they are too often represented by "Islamist (or militant Islamic)" organizations.
Pipes is currently seeking funding for a new organization, tentatively named the "Islamic Progress Institute" (IPI), which "can articulate a moderate, modern and pro-American viewpoint" on behalf of US Muslims and that, according to a grant proposal by Pipes and two New York-based foundations, obtained by IPS, can "go head-to-head with the established Islamist institutions".
"Through adroit media activity and political efforts", says the proposal, "advocates for a supremacist and totalitarian form of Islam in the United States - such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations [CAIR], the Islamic Society of North America [ISNA] and the Islamic Circle of North America - have effectively established themselves as the spokesmen for all Muslims in the country."
"This situation is fraught with dangers for moderate Muslims as well as for non-Muslims," the proposal continues, adding, "Islam in America must be American Islam or it will not be integrated; there can be no place for an Islam in America that functions as a seditious conspiracy aimed at wiping out American values, undermining American inter-faith civility, and, in effect, dictating the form of Islam that will be followed in America."
Leaders of the three groups named by Pipes strongly deny his characterizations of their views, and stress that they, like Catholic, Protestant and Jewish groups in the US that promote the interests of their members, are neither more nor less radical or chauvinistic in their political or theological views than their non-Muslim counterparts.
"We are non-sectarian," said Sayyid M Syeed, ISNA's secretary general, who added that his group has had leaders from both the Shi'ite and Sunni currents of Islam and whose current vice president is a woman. "If we were Saudi-oriented, we would never have a Shi'ite president or a woman in such a role," he said, adding that his group is also actively engaged in many "inter-faith partnerships".
CAIR's spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper, said his organization strives to represent the views of all US Muslims, and pointed to a new survey of the views of mosque leaders and congregants in Detroit, which has one of the largest Muslim populations in the country, as an example of the fundamental moderation of US Muslims and those of his group.
The survey, carried out by the Michigan-based Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, found that only about eight percent of the leadership and members of Detroit's 33 mosques described themselves as adherents of a fundamentalist, "Salafi" approach to Islam - the kind that is identified with the "Wahhabi", or "Islamist" views of concern to Pipes and other neo-conservatives, who have said that as many as 80 percent of US mosques preach Wahhabism.
The vast majority of both mosque leaders and participants, according to the Detroit survey, were registered to vote and supported active engagement in the political process; wanted to engage in civic and educational activities with people of non-Muslim faiths; and even took part in public school or church events designed to teach others about Islam.
"Detroit mosques are not isolationist ... and very few mosque participants hold Wahhabi views," said Ihsan Bagby, who conducted the survey and teaches Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky.
Pipes, who has written four books on Islam and taught Islamic studies at several leading universities, came to national prominence after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon. While he has long insisted that there is nothing inherently violent about Islam, "moderate Muslims", in his view, have been intimidated by radicals both in the Islamic world and in the US.
"While Muslims in some Muslim-majority countries (like Turkey) have demonstrated a commitment to moderate Islam," he writes in his grant application, "Muslim communities in the United States, Canada and Western Europe are dominated by a leadership identified with Wahhabism and other radical trends, such as the Muslim Brethren and Deobandism ... they seek a privileging of Islam and intimidate their critics."
Within the United States, "all Muslims, unfortunately, are suspect", Pipes wrote in a recent book, which called for the authorities to be especially vigilant towards Muslims with jobs in the military, law enforcement, or diplomacy.
Last year, he cited as evidence of this insight the arrest on suspicion of espionage of Muslim chaplain James Yee at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility that houses hundreds of prisoners from Bush's "war on terrorism". The Yee case later fell apart.
Pipes is also the founder of Campus Watch, a group that monitors university professors of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies and exposes them for alleged anti-American or anti-Zionist views. That effort, which has been denounced by leading Middle East scholars, has become the basis for a far-reaching bill pending in Congress that would provide unprecedented government oversight of regional studies programs in universities.
Pipes has also criticized Bush for meeting with, and thus he argues legitimizing, the leaders of major Islamic organizations, including CAIR and ISNA, which he believes are pursuing radical, if partially hidden, agendas that he attempts tirelessly to expose on his personal website. CAIR has called him "the nation's leading Islamophobe".
Like many of his fellow-neo-conservatives, Pipes has also been an outspoken supporter of positions taken by the governing Likud Party in Israel, to the extent even of opposing the US-backed "road map" designed to lead to an independent Palestinian state.
To encourage "moderation" among Palestinians, he has written, "the Palestinians need to be defeated even more than Israel needs to defeat them".
In his grant proposal, Pipes writes that he is working on launching the Islamic Progress Institute, IPI, with "a group of anti-Islamist Muslims", whom he does not identify. Contacted about the proposal, Pipes told IPS, "I can't confirm anything. MEF doesn't talk about its proposals. We don't talk about projects that have not been announced. We don't talk about internal matters to the press."
In a trip to Cleveland in February, Stephen Schwartz, a writer and former Trotskyite activist who claims to have converted to Islam in the mid-1990s, and Hussein Haqqani, a former Pakistani government official now with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, unveiled plans for a new "Institute for Islamic Progress and Peace", of which Schwartz identified himself as executive director.
Schwartz, who has praised Pipes' work and claims to be personally close to Wolfowitz, has published articles in "The Weekly Standard" and other neo-conservative publications, where Pipes' writings also appear regularly. Schwartz was quoted by the "Cleveland Jewish Press" as saying that the new group would serve as a "platform" for "people who view Islam as a private faith".
"This is a unique chance to change the position of the Muslim community in America," he said. "If we don't do it, no one else will." Schwartz and Haqqani also did not return messages left at their offices.
Muslim leaders say they are not worried their membership will desert them for either new group.
"There's a big difference between organizations that emerge organically from a community in response to the demand of their constituencies and one which is manufactured for political reasons by people who dislike what the consensus views of that community are," said Hussein Ibish of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which has also been a target of Pipes.
"For Mr Pipes to create an organization that purports to represent the community that he makes a living systematically defaming demonstrates an amazing degree of effrontery."
"It's a free country," said Hooper of the Council on Islamic-American Relations. "If Pipes and his friends think they can gain legitimacy in the Islamic community, good luck, but I wouldn't hold my breath."

(Inter Press Service)


Malaysian media try trial by TV
By Anil Netto
PENANG, Malaysia - Malaysian groups as well as a lawyer representing several alleged Jemaah Islamiya (JI) members have slammed a private television station's screening of "confessions" by several suspected Malaysian militants detained by Indonesian police, saying they amounted to trial by media.
Last Friday, the Malaysian station TV3 screened an "interview" with four alleged JI members that was recorded in Jakarta on March 11. TV3, though private, is one of the most pro-government television stations in Malaysia, and the interview was arranged with the help of Malaysian and Indonesian police.
The four suspects, Nasir Abas, Jaafar Anwarul, Samsul Bahari Hussein and Amran Mansor, admitted in the interview that they were JI members and had links to al-Qaeda. They also said they were repentant over their involvement in the group and no longer subscribed to its fanatical ideologies.
But critics said the interview amounted to trial by media and that the "confessions" were flawed as they were not given in a free environment.
The station's decision to televise the "confessions" was sharply criticized by the Abolish ISA Movement, a coalition of 82 civil-society groups seeking to dissolve Malaysia's draconian Internal Security Act (ISA). But some of the strongest remarks came from Edmund Bon, the lawyer representing several other alleged JI members now being held under the ISA, which allows for detention without trial.
"Firstly, TV3 may have committed contempt of court," Bon said. "The issues covered are sub judice," meaning they are still under judicial consideration. He also said 10 ISA detainees in Malaysia, alleged to be JI members, had filed habeas corpus applications in the Malaysian courts. Though their appeals were dismissed recently by the Kuala Lumpur High Court, their appeals to the Federal Court are still pending.
Among the issues covered in these applications are what the alleged terrorist activities of JI are, and whether there is evidence that JI even exists, Bon said. "It is my view that TV3's program of the 'confessions' would tend to influence the Federal Court to decide against the detainees," he added.
Nasir is said to be the regional JI chief in charge of Sabah, Labuan, North and Central Sulawesi, and Mindanao. Arrested by Indonesian police last April, he is alleged to have trained several top JI leaders in military warfare. These include convicted Bali bombers Ali Imron and Imam Samudera, and Saad Fathurrahman Al Ghozi, the alleged mastermind of bombings in the Philippines in 2000 that killed 22 people.
Nasir is also alleged to have trained lecturers Dr Azahari Husin, who is on the run, and Wan Min Wan Mat, detained in Malaysia in October 2002, in guerrilla warfare.
Amran, from Johor, Malaysia, is alleged to have been directly involved in the Christmas Eve church bombings in Batam, Pekan Baru and Medan in 2000. He has expressed regret over the deaths of innocent people and asked for forgiveness from God and the victims' families.
Nasir claimed there was a fatwa (edict) that was passed on to them by Riduan Isamuddin or Hambali, now in US custody, urging Muslims to defend their religion and to attack Americans who had killed many Muslims around the world.
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said the televised confessions proved that terrorists were a major threat in the region. "I hope Malaysians will be able to understand the reality of such a threat after the confessions," he was reported as saying. Abdullah, who is also internal security minister, is responsible for the detentions of some 90 Malaysians under the ISA.
Most of these are alleged militants are said to belong to the Malaysian Militant Group (KMM) and JI. Many of them have already spent more than two years in jail without trial and have had their two-year detention orders extended by another two years. The ISA allows detainees to be held for an initial 60-day interrogation period, and, if they are not released by the end of that period, they can receive renewable two-year detention orders. Most detainees are held in the Kamunting Detention Center in Perak state, north of Kuala Lumpur.
In addition to Abdullah's comments, Defense Minister Najib Razak remarked that although the activities of JI had been crippled, they "can still operate in smaller groups and pose security problems".
Televised "confessions" from detainees are not new in Malaysia. During the communist insurgency, and up until the late 1970s, detainees, including political activists, alleged to be Communist Party members were made to confess on national television and say they had realized the error of their ways.
In the mid-1990s, Ashaari Mohamad, the leader of al-Arqam, a banned "deviationist" Islamic sect with a sizable following, "confessed" on television to spreading deviant religious teachings after a spell in detention.
Regarding the latest "confessions", Bon has made several pertinent observations. "The participants were under the supervision, direction and rule of the police," he said. "There was no escaping. It was a controlled environment."
He said the questions posed were leading, as if the answers were already known. "The answers forthcoming from the participants appear to have been scripted and rehearsed," he said. "They were not full, candid and frank confessions."
Observers are wondering about the timing of the "confessions" as well. "Why this was done is unclear, but one can speculate that the authorities are trying very hard now to justify their allegations of JI terrorist activities and JI's existence," said Bon. "The world knows that they could not do it at the [Abu Bakar] Ba'asyir trial, and he, being the supposed head of JI, is going to be released in April 2004, whereas his poor purported 'followers' in Indonesia, such as the participants and many others in Kamunting [in Malaysia], will linger on in detention."
Even the government-appointed and nominally independent Human Rights Commission of Malaysia has spoken out against the confessions. Its commissioner, Hamdan Adnan, questioned the ethics involved in showing the program and said it amounted to trial by media. "I hope this will not be a trend," he said. "Under what circumstance were they made to confess?" he asked, stressing that people should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and that TV3 should not make a mockery of media ethics.
He also warned that the confessions should not implicate others, especially those detained in Malaysia under the ISA for suspected involvement in the similar alleged activities.

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Indonesia vs Malaysia: The media and democracy
By Ioannis Gatsiounis
KUALA LUMPUR - Neighbors Malaysia and Indonesia are often depicted in opposing lights. Indonesia is the turbulent big brother with deep scars from a brutal dictatorship and a crisis of Islamic militancy on its hands. Malaysia is the rapidly developing "model Islamic democracy", a beacon of hope in the region - a reputation reinforced by the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional's (BN) rout of the Muslim fundamentalist-led opposition in parliamentary general elections last month.
Ironically, though, Indonesia, which just completed what was only its second general election since independence in 1945, has already embraced a more democratic tradition than Malaysia, which purports to have held "free and fair" elections since the 1950s. And the decision of Indonesian president B J Habibie, after the fall of Suharto in 1998, to free up the media is a large reason why.
In Indonesia on Monday, 24 parties contested for parliamentary seats. They may not all have gotten equal media coverage, but there are few if any allegations that a state-organized conspiracy impaired their showing. In Malaysia's elections last month, on the other hand, just two coalitions were represented, and only one received what might be called "fair" coverage.
For those in the BN, the state-controlled media's performance was nothing short of stellar. They not only gave the "moderates" an unfair advantage in the weeks leading up to the election (the leading opposition party's paper cannot publish more than twice a month and distribution is restricted), but in effect, quelled public concern over numerous allegations that the Election Commission and the BN conspired to commit election fraud.
Wong Chun Wai, deputy chief group editor of Malaysia's largest pro-government English-language daily, The Star, bristled at this analysis. He said his paper ran the opposition's advertisements. "The Malaysian media [are] as democratic as [they] can be. There's no need to change [them]." He pointed out that the opposition Chinese-led Democratic Action Party actually gained seats in the March 21 election, and as for other opposition parties that scored poorly, this was because of their stated aims, not because of media coverage.
But others say the power of the media to influence voters, especially during election time, should not be underestimated.
By many accounts the Malaysian media's campaign coverage was slicker and more ambitious than in past elections. At the least, it was unabashed and relentless. One front-page headline called Malaysia's economy "booming" - a description some economists would hardly endorse. Non-disparaging coverage of the opposition was often relegated to the lower corners of inside pages. A frequently run television spot featured Malaysians extolling how tolerant, vibrant and blissful life is in Malaysia. The ad listed no sponsor. But with the BN ruling since the 1950s, the message was implicit enough.
Five months ago there was a twinge of hope that the media situation here in Malaysia might change. That's when Abdullah Badawi was appointed prime minister by his predecessor, the long-ruling strongarm Mahathir Mohamad. Abdullah was seen as the tolerant gentleman determined to stamp out corruption. But optimism waned when Abdullah sacked an editor of an English-language daily for publishing an article that criticized government foreign policy. And it has eroded further, say experts, with the election rout.
With the media's strong showing, "What incentives do [the government] have to open the doors?" asked Eric Paulsen, coordinator of the Voice of People of Malaysia.
One can think of plenty - to develop a knowledge-based economy; to check power and stamp out corruption; to spur public debate on important issues. But getting the government to sign on is a different matter. BN's performance last month was its best since 1955. Why tamper with success?
A number of analysts say mass public mobilization is perhaps the only thing that will pressure the Malaysian government to change. In Indonesia, public protest led to the dictator Suharto's resignation and consequently the repeal of media restrictions. And although the government has since occasionally threatened to curb those freedoms, myriad activists in Indonesia have made clear that the freedoms won't be lifted without a fight.
By contrast, Malaysians historically have shown little affinity for social activism. And times are good for many. The economy is stable; the standard of living here is higher than in Indonesia; Malaysia lacks the sense of desperation that can galvanize action. As well, the government has strict laws preventing public demonstration; the Internal Security Act, which reserves the right to jail offenders without trial, has scared away many would-be activists.
"Barring no meltdown, nothing will change," said Ibrahim Suffian of the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research.
The closest thing to a "meltdown" in Malaysia in recent times came in the late 1990s, when Mahathir jailed his charismatic deputy Anwar Ibrahim on allegations of sodomy and corruption. Public distrust of the government and media, coinciding with the Internet boom, witnessed a proliferation of reformation websites, and thousands taking to the streets.
"Now one or two [reformation] sites - from over a hundred - are left," said Suffian.
During the scandal, the hardline opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) won control of a second state. And while many voters turned to the opposition because they felt betrayed by Mahathir and the BN, the media in no small way helped people and parties mobilize.
Since that election a few credible independent websites have surfaced. (Mahathir promised not to interfere with web-based content.) But generally Malaysians are content taking in the state-controlled press. From food stalls to dentist offices, Malaysians can be found soaking up the state press, even when complimentary copies of international papers are available.
A Merdeka Center poll found that most Malaysians don't believe what they read in the state-controlled press. But then one has to wonder what they're reading "serious" newspapers for if not for "useful" information - to be mindlessly entertained?
Sometimes the public's indifference has led to outright defense of the situation. One hears often enough from Malaysians that they are not mature enough yet for open media, echoing a line left over from the colonial days and milked often by the ruling coalition ever since.
But lawyer Siva Rasa Rasia, a vice president of the opposition Keadilan party, does not blame the public. "It's quite normal not to seek information," Rasia said. "The onus is on us, and we have failed to get to them."
Rasia said that for the opposition to stand any chance in future elections (Malaysia's next parliamentary election isn't until 2009), they will have to rethink how to reach the public. "It's the main obstacle we face," he said. "It's the only way we can break down the [ruling coalition's] blockade.
Opposition leaders say they will tap into the Internet but know it won't be enough. One leader said without irony, "We might have to do what they did in Eastern Europe in the communist era: quietly roam in long coats and sell on street corners."
Indeed, many observers are too pleased with the election results to reflect on its meaning - or simply find the ends justify the means. One editorial writer noted that with this election, "Malaysia demonstrated that the 'green wave' - the tide of political Islam that seems to be engulfing the Muslim world - can be stopped democratically."
M G Pillai, writing on his independent website, sees it differently: "With this general election we have descended firmly into the Third World we had spent years to get out of."
But as long as the state-controlled media are calling the shots, Malaysians will continue to get a more flattering view of themselves. The morning after Indonesia's elections, Malaysia's state-controlled Star newspaper's front-page headline read: "Shortages and confusion over voting card hamper Indonesian elections". That news was hard to find outside Malaysia.
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)


The UN's sinking law of the sea
By Alan Boyd

SYDNEY - A conservative revolt that waylaid Washington's latest attempts to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea has also set back hopes of a more effective disputes mechanism for contested natural resources in Asia.
Continuing a standoff that has existed since the treaty was enacted in 1982, the United States Senate again declined to debate a Foreign Relations Committee resolution, backed by the administration of President George W Bush, that might have led to recognition of the world's most ambitious forum for conflict resolution.
Another bid is expected to be made through one of six alternate committees that have jurisdiction on the issue, but it is unlikely this will happen before the end of the year, even if the White House liberals behind the initiative can still attract Bush's support.
Ratified by 145 of the UN's 195 independent members, the treaty has never been allowed to realize its full potential because a vocal US lobby argues that it would impinge on the right of Americans to decide how to exploit their natural resources.
The chief point of contention is a provision under the treaty for an International Seabed Authority (ISA) that would regulate the offshore marine environment and rule on sovereignty battles through a multinational court. It would be empowered to levy taxes, issue permits for fishing and mining, impose quotas for the exploitation of gas and oil reserves, fix the prices of marine products, and control research and exploration activities.
Conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation, American Policy Center and the Free Congress Foundation are worried that the ISA will operate outside Security Council jurisdiction, which could leave it open to domination by sectoral interests, especially from the Third World.
"The best thing we can do with this treaty is never to sign it - to sink it. Unfortunately, this is a very difficult task given the fact that there is an element within the Bush administration that wants it and, if they do not succeed in getting it, then there is likely to be a push by succeeding administrations," said Paul M Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation.
Former president Ronald Reagan engineered the original US boycott of the treaty in 1982 by simply ensuring that it never went beyond the committee stages. Likewise, Reagan's successor George H W Bush, stonewalled when he was in office.
Bill Clinton's administration put the issue back on the congressional agenda in 1994, though only after winning substantial concessions from the UN that watered down the ISA's mandate while leaving the treaty's basis intact. But his tenure ended before the revamped resolution could reach the Senate.
In stepped Foreign Relations Committee chairman Richard Lugar, a Republican senator with strong White House support who is convinced the US has more to lose from staying aloof from the international community. Bush's own sentiments toward the treaty are not clear.
Whether it is in or out, Washington will decide how effective the treaty can be in policing what is potentially the most volatile area of global security. But ratification might at least remove technical ambiguities and encourage the ISA to cut across political sensitivities.
The UN secretariat complained last month that many countries were wrongly applying the treaty, presumably for their own ends, while warning that mediation efforts would not realize their potential unless there was more consistency.
China has been accused by the US of using some statutes to further its economic interests and advance security objectives. These include a requirement for information sharing on sea exploration that would amount to mandatory technology transfers.
Defense adviser Dr Peter M Leitner, a longtime critic of ratification, testified to a congressional committee in March that Beijing had been able to acquire "sensitive technology vital to our national security" through offshore mining permits. Despite Pentagon protests, the technology, which he alleged could be used to bolster China's capability in submarine warfare, had been handed over by government agencies "so as not to undermine the spirit of the treaty".
Beijing has also challenged the Proliferation Security Initiative, an anti-terrorism operation led by the US and the United Kingdom that includes interdiction measures against vessels suspected of aiding in the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
North Korea, a close ally of China, has been a prime target of the sea blockade. But during a recent committee hearing, none of the White House's senior legal aides were able to confirm whether the US would be liable for retaliatory measures if it allowed a ship to be boarded - even if this happened within the economic zone claimed by the US.
All Asian countries other than Cambodia, North Korea, Thailand and East Timor have ratified the treaty. However, it has had virtually no impact on regional tensions due to the widely differing interpretations adopted by signatories.
This is partly because of hazy legal definitions. While the treaty recognizes innocent passage, transit passage, archipelagic sea-lane passage, and high seas as the four types of navigation rights, the specifics are not spelled out.
There are also numerous let-out clauses that allow signatories and non-signatories alike to set the parameters of treaty provisions, usually successfully.
Hence South Korea has been able to assert control over much of the volatile Cheju Strait by contesting its status as a major navigation route on the grounds that ships can use an alternative route closer to the sea.
Taking this process a step further, Seoul has declared an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles that includes a "security zone" of 150 by 75 nautical miles in which most shipping operations are prohibited.
For its part, North Korea has established a 200-mile EEZ with a 50-mile "military zone" that also has limited access rights. Both zones, as well as a separate EEZ maintained by Japan, intrude into waters in the Sea of Japan that are contested by all four countries and Russia.
Japan, China and South Korea could technically be prosecuted by the ISA for blocking navigational rights. But this is not likely to happen until there have been separate rulings on the various national boundaries, and there is little political will to intervene.
One reason for the free-for-all is the impotency of the US, which is understandably loath to help police the statutes, even for the sake of regional stability, as long as it doesn't accept their legitimacy.
"A most fertile source of dispute may be the question of whether or not a non-ratifying state like the United States may avail itself of the [treaty's] provisions governing the various navigational regimes," said Mark J Valencia, a researcher at the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation.
"The United States argues that these navigational 'rights' are customary international law, and negotiated an agreement with the former Soviet Union declaring these rights and guaranteeing mutual observance thereof.
"However, some ratifiers like China may not agree, and since the United States is not a party to the treaty, it cannot avail itself of the dispute-resolution provisions. This then leaves the resolution of such disputes purely in the political arena."
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)



Part 1: 'Independent' commission
By Pepe Escobar

"The overwhelming bulk of the evidence was that this was an attack that was likely to take place overseas."
- White House National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, May 16, 2002

"Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US." - CIA's August 6, 2001 briefing memo to President George W Bush

"If you invade Iraq you will create a hundred bin Ladens." - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, January 2003

The 9-11 Commission, according to its own website, is "an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W Bush in late 2002". The commission is "chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks".
A key consequence of the political theater/media circus around former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke's revelations - in his testimony to the commission and in his best-selling book Against All Enemies - was to force the White House to "deliver" National Security Advisor Condoleezza ("Condi") Rice. She is due to testify to the commission on Thursday - just as the Iraq occupation is confronted to the ultimate nightmare: Fallujah as the new Gaza in the Sunni triangle, and an uprising by the millions of angry, destitute followers of firebrand Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
But as far as the 9-11 Commission is concerned, and at least for the moment, the White House got what it wanted. President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney will have a private conversation with the commission as a tandem, not under oath, and behind closed doors. This testimony won't be recorded. The commission will hardly have more than two or three hours to ask crucial questions to both, when it could have at least double the time to ask questions to each of them separately. The arrangement of course prevents them from contradicting each other - a basic premise of any criminal investigation. It makes sure that the all-powerful, all-seeing Cheney is the Praetorian Guard capable of preventing any Bush rhetorical disaster.
Andrew Rice, chair of the 9-11 Commission Committee of the September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows organization, is one among millions of terribly frustrated Americans. He believes that as far as this official 9-11 Commission is concerned, the "fix was in" from the beginning. Beverly Eckert, whose husband died on September 11, adds: "We wanted journalists, we wanted academics ... We did not want politicians."
The commission comprises nine men and a woman, five Republicans and five Democrats. They include two former governors, a former navy secretary, a former deputy attorney-general, two former Congressmen, two former senators and a former White House counsel. It's a consummate bunch of establishment arch-insiders, all inter-connected. One wonders how such a body can possibly investigate what's behind the myriad of political, military and intelligence interplay. Even the commission itself has been forced to admit that of the 16 federal agencies covered by its investigation, only the State Department is being "fully cooperative", with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a distant second. This is leading to a growing perception, not only in Washington but in other parts of the world, of a "hidden agenda". "They seem to be interested in putting up a good show as a coverup; and of course they're very worried about damage control," says a diplomat from the European Union.
Independents in conflict
There are devastating cases of conflict of interest in the commission. Chairman Thomas Kean may be the most obvious. The US$1 trillion lawsuit filed in August 2002 by the families of the victims of September 11 includes two of Kean's business partners among the accused: Saudi billionaires Khalid bin Mahfouz (who is Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law, no less), and Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi. They are key financial players behind al-Qaeda: Mahfouz transferred millions of dollars from a Saudi pension fund to bank accounts in London and New York linked with al-Qaeda. He is a former director of BCCI, the bank in the center of a notorious $12 billion bankruptcy scandal during the presidency of Bush senior.
Kean is director and shareholder of Amerada Hess Corporation, an oil giant involved in a joint venture with Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia - which is owned by the clans of Mahfouz and Amoudi - to explore Caspian Sea oilfields. Amerada Hess severed the joint venture only three weeks before Kean was appointed chairman of the 9-11 Commission by his friend George W Bush.
It's unlikely fellow members at the 9-11 Commission will ask Kean to reveal to what extent he was aware of Mahfouz's links to al-Qaeda; or ask Amerada Hess to open its books and reveal what kind of deals it was cooking up with Mahfouz. After all, Bush himself also had a business connection with Mahfouz, owner of various investments in Houston, Texas. As to the 28 pages of the joint congressional committee detailing Saudi support to al-Qaeda, they also seem to have vanished into thin air.
The commission, for instance, also will not investigate the foreign policy that started it all in the late 1970s and early 1980s: the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA's) full support to the hardcore international Islamic brigades which joined the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan - and then turned against the US after the first Gulf War in 1991. This would mean that the commission would have to seriously investigate Secretary of State Colin Powell and his number two, Richard Armitage, key players in those 1980s proceedings.
Former national security adviser to Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, also one of the key members of the Council on Foreign Relations, was the mastermind behind the building of an Islamic network in Afghanistan - as part of a huge, covert CIA operation. To a large extent, the modern Islamic jihad exists thanks to Brzezinski. There are four members of the Council on Foreign Relations in the commission. There's hardly any chance of them investigating their fellow Brzezinski.
The commission's executive director, Philip D Zelikow, is a crucial player. This is the man who directs all the investigative research of the commission. On October 5, 2001 - two days before the beginning of the bombing of Afghanistan - he was appointed as one of the three members of Bush's foreign intelligence advisory board. Zelikow is the ultimate Bush insider.
Andrew Rice says that Zelikow "worked with these people and now he is defending them". Zelikow also worked for Jim Baker, former secretary of state of Bush senior. He spent three years on Bush senior's National Security Council. He is close to Bush junior, and even closer to Condi Rice: they worked together, and he even co-wrote two books with her.
Commissioner Jamie S Gorelick is very close to CIA director George Tenet. No wonder: she works on the CIA's National Security Advisory Panel, as well as on the president's Review of Intelligence. Tenet is one of the masterminds of the Bush administration "war on terror". This means no chance for the commission to investigate dubious covert operations by the CIA which may foment terrorism instead of fighting it.
Commissioner Fred Fielding is a former White House counsel during Reagan's time, at the time of the Iran-Contra scandal. He is very close to all major players in the Bush administration, in fact one of the White House men in the commission alongside Zelikow.
Commissioner John Lehman was navy secretary under Reagan. He served alongside two of the commission's key witnesses: Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former counterterrorism head Richard Clarke. He is close to all major players in the Bush administration and also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, with very close personal ties to Henry Kissinger. Lehman is Kissinger's man in the commission.
Commissioner Timothy J Roemer is a former member of the Intelligence Committee's task force on Homeland Security and Terrorism and the joint inquiry on 9-11 of the Senate and House. He is very close to Congressman Porter Goss and Senator Bob Graham, who co-headed the joint inquiry. Graham and Goss, as we will see on part 2 of this series, have very suspicious links to former Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence director Lieutenant General Mahmoud Ahmad.
If the intellectual masterminds of the "war on terror" in the Council on Foreign Relations won't be investigated, neither will be those members of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). PNAC was prophetic in the sense that even before the Bush administration, in a 2000 white paper, their members were betting on "some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor" so the American people would support their agenda of global politico-military dominance. All neo-conservative superstars - like Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle - are members of PNAC (see Asia Times Online, March 20, 2003, This war is brought to you by ...)
Clarke writes about their obsession on page 30 of his book: "I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq." On page 231, Clarke recalls in vivid detail an April 2001 meeting where Wolfowitz is obsessed with Iraq, while the CIA dismisses the Wolfowitz-peddled notion of Iraqi terrorism and the State Department agrees with Clarke's assessment of al-Qaeda as "a major threat" and "an urgent priority".
Andrew Rice could not but be a serious critic of the commision: "It is not about transparency, it is just there to appease the public. But it won't appease me or many other family members. We need a truly independent commission that is outside the realm of government. The worst case scenario is that I fear this could be a whitewash and a coverup." The final report of the commission won't be published until April 2005 - long after the November presidential election.
Clarke , Condi and the Bush doctrine
Clarke insists that he explicitly warned the Bush administration about al-Qaeda as early as January 25, 2001, five days after the inauguration: "It was very explicit. [Condoleezza] Rice was briefed ... and Zelikow sat in.". Clarke said that he gave Condi Rice a detailed memo on how to fight al-Qaeda, based on CIA briefings and lots of information collected under the Bill Clinton administration. On page 229 of his book, he writes: "... her facial expression gave me the impression she had never heard the term [al-Qaeda] before."
In 2002, the White House had to admit on the record that the August 6, 2001 president daily briefing (PDB) quoted at the start of this article said that al-Qaeda might use hijacked planes in an attack inside the US. A portion of this PDB, written by the CIA, predicted that al-Qaeda would launch an attack "in the coming weeks" and that it "will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against US facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning." So Bush knew: he's supposed to have read the PDB while on holiday in Crawford, Texas. But Bush has claimed executive privilege and the White House has refused to release the full text of the PDB.
In her famous May 16, 2002 press conference, Condi Rice said: "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." Apparently Rumsfeld could have predicted it. Speaking to the 9-11 Commission last month, Rumsfeld said he, personally, didn't know. But he admitted having received "a civil aviation circular that people did know ... They sent it out on June 22, 2001".
Rumsfeld may know much more than he's willing to admit. According to a report on the US army's Internet site, a simulation of a plane crashing on the Pentagon was carried 10 months before September 11. Rumsfeld told the 9-11 Commission, under oath, that "he did not know" about this simulation, which was conducted by the Emergency Management Team at the Pentagon and involved a lot of employees. The simulation could have been just one more in an endless series of coincidences. Or it could be part of the planning for an event the Pentagon - or at least his director - knew was going to happen.
After the outbursts of the Clarke-smearing campaign - brutal even by the standards of the Bush White House - it has emerged that Condi Rice is also contradicted by none other than the all-powerful Dick Cheney. The White House insists that it did know exactly what it was doing before September 11. And Rice said the White House counterterrorism czar was indeed "in the loop". But Cheney said that Clarke was "not in the loop" - the ultimate Washington put-down. So who was outlooped, Clarke or Condi?
Clarke's central accusation is relatively mild. He says that the Bush administration was lost in space as far as al-Qaeda was concerned because of its ideological fixation on Saddam Hussein. This may have generated non-stop character assassination from the Bush camp, but the fact is Clarke has produced no smoking gun. Essentially, the only major difference between Clarke and the neo-cons is that Clarke was obsessed with bin Laden, while the neo-cons were obsessed with Saddam. Both bin Laden and Saddam, as we know, are former CIA assets.
On page 243 of his book, Clarke qualifies as "somewhat off the mark" the critique of Bush as "a dumb, lazy rich kid". But then he crucially adds: "I doubt that anyone ever had the chance to make the case to him that attacking Iraq would actually make America less secure and strengthen the broader radical Islamic terrorist movement. Certainly he did not hear that from the small circle of advisors who alone are the people whose views he respects and trusts." Condi Rice has always been in favor of regime change in Iraq.
In an article she wrote to Foreign Affairs in early 2000, Rice outlined what amounted to be a semi-official Bush foreign policy platform. She lists five key foreign policy priorities. Only the last one made any mention of terrorism. Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Afghanistan, madrassas in Pakistan, al-Qaeda-style financial networks, Islamist sleeper cells in America, Spain and Germany, none of this is even mentioned. Rice only talks about North Korea, Iraq and Iran - which two years later, in early 2002, would graduate to "axis of evil" status. She is in favor of regime change in Iraq. And her top policy recommendation is national missile defense - aimed at rogue states.
Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI wiretap translator, fluent in English, Turkish, Farsi and Azerbaijani and with top-secret security clearance, told Salon news publication that she is nothing but outraged: "Especially after reading Condoleezza Rice where she said, 'we had no specific information whatsoever of domestic threat or that they might use airplanes'. That's an outrageous lie. And documents can prove it's a lie." Edmonds wants the commission to ask real questions to FBI director Robert Mueller when he testifies later this month: "Like, in April 2001, did an FBI field office receive legitimate information indicating the use of airplanes for an attack on major cities? And is it true that through an FBI informant, who'd been used [by the bureau] for 10 years, did you get information about specific terrorist plans and specific cells in this country? He couldn't say no." Edmonds' recent interviews also raise the fascinating possibility that al-Qaeda penetrated internal security both at the Pentagon and at the State Department. In this case, are the moles still in place?
The Bush administration as a whole took over the media to tell everyone how they had identified the al-Qaeda danger long ago - so they could not be accused of passive responsibility on September 11. But the single evidence of these later allegations was the long build up to the post-September 11 war on Afghanistan. What this actually means is that the war on Afghanistan cannot possibly be described any more as an act of legitimate defense. As to the Bush doctrine of preventive war, which was nothing more than a rhetorical artifact in the first place, it has become a significant casualty of the Clarke-White House shouting match. The doctrine has only lasted enough time to allow the Bush administration to attack Iraq.
It is expected that the 9-11 Commission will keep rolling a huge data bank of unconnected "intelligence failures" and instances of lack of dialogue between FBI and CIA. In the end, it's fair to assume there will be a fall guy to be blamed for all these "intelligence failures". It's also fair to assume it won't be one of the big guns.

TOMORROW: Part 2: A real smoking gun in Pakistan

(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)

Part 2: A real smoking gun
By Pepe Escobar

Part 1: 'Independent' commission

If the 9-11 Commission is really looking for a smoking gun, it should look no further than at Lieutenant-General Mahmoud Ahmad, the director of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) at the time.
In early October 2001, Indian intelligence learned that Mahmoud had ordered flamboyant Saeed Sheikh - the convicted mastermind of the kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl - to wire US$100,000 from Dubai to one of hijacker Mohamed Atta's two bank accounts in Florida.
A juicy direct connection was also established between Mahmoud and Republican Congressman Porter Gross and Democratic Senator Bob Graham. They were all in Washington together discussing Osama bin Laden over breakfast when the attacks of September 11, 2001, happened.
Mahmoud's involvement in September 11 might be dismissed as only Indian propaganda. But Indian intelligence swears by it, and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has confirmed the whole story: Indian intelligence even supplied Saeed's cellular-phone numbers. Nobody has bothered to check what really happened. The 9-11 Commission should pose very specific questions about it to FBI director Robert Mueller when he testifies this month.
In December 2002, Graham said he was "surprised at the evidence that there were foreign governments involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the [September 11] terrorists in the United States ... It will become public at some point when it's turned over to the archives, but that's 20 or 30 years from now." He could not but be referring to Pakistan and Mahmoud. If Mahmoud was really involved in September 11, this means the Pakistani ISI -"the state within the state" - knew all about it. And if the intelligence elite in Pakistan knew it, an intelligence elite in Saudi Arabia knew it, as well as an intelligence elite in the US.
Get Osama bin Laden
On August 22, 2001, Asia Times Online reported Get Osama! Now! Or else ...
On September 9, the legendary "Lion of the Panjshir", Ahmed Shah Masoud, the key Northern Alliance commander, was assassinated by two suicide bombers posing as journalists in his base in northern Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance tells Washington that the ISI may be involved. Masoud himself had told this correspondent, two weeks before he was killed, of the incestuous link between bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the ISI. A 2002 Asia Times Online investigation would later establish that Masoud was killed as a gift from al-Qaeda to the Taliban, with heavy involvement by Abdul Sayyaf, an Afghan mujahideen commander very close to the ISI and the Saudis. From Washington's perspective, this was also a gift. Masoud was the crucial Afghan nationalist leader, supported by Russia and Iran; after the Taliban being smashed he would never have accepted a feeble, US-sponsored, Hamid Karzai-style government.
On September 10, the Pakistani daily The News reported that the Mahmoud visit to the United States "triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council". If he'd been to the National Security Council, he had certainly met Rice. Mahmoud did meet with his counterpart, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director George Tenet. Tenet and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage had been in Islamabad in May, when Tenet had "unusually long" meetings with Musharraf. Armitage for his part has countless friends in the Pakistani military and the ISI. Mahmoud also met a number of high officials at the White House and the Pentagon and had a crucial meeting with Marc Grossman, the under secretary of state for political affairs. Rice maintains she did not meet Mahmoud then.
On the morning of September 11, Mahmoud was having a breakfast meeting at the Capitol with Graham and Goss. Goss spent as many as 10 years working on numerous CIA clandestine operations. He is very close to Vice President Dick Cheney. It's interesting to note that two weeks ago Goss suggested to the Justice Department to bring perjury charges against the new Cheney nemesis, Clarke. As it is widely known, Graham and Goss were co-heads of the joint House-Senate investigation that proclaimed there was "no smoking gun" as far as President George W Bush having any advance knowledge of September 11.
According to the Washington Post, and also to sources in Islamabad, the Mahmoud-Graham-Goss meeting lasted until the second plane hit Tower 2 of the World Trade Center. Graham later said they were talking about terrorism coming from Afghanistan, which means they were talking about bin Laden.
Pakistani intelligence sources told Asia Times Online that on the afternoon of September 11 itself, as well as on September 12 and 13, Armitage met with Mahmoud with a stark choice: either Pakistan would help the US against al-Qaeda, or it would be bombed back to the Stone Age. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented an ultimatum in the form of seven US demands. Pakistan accepted all of them. One of the demands was for Musharraf to send Mahmoud to Kandahar again and force the Taliban to extradite bin Laden. Mahmoud knew in advance Mullah Omar would refuse. But when he went to Kandahar the Taliban leader said he would accept, as long as the Americans proved bin Laden was responsible for September 11. There was no proof, and Afghanistan was bombed anyway, a policy already decided well in advance.
It's important to remember than on September 13 Islamabad airport was shut down - allegedly because of threats against Pakistan's strategic assets. On September 14, Islamabad declared total support for the US: the airport was immediately reopened. Mahmoud remained in Washington until September 16 - when the war on Afghanistan was more than programmed, and Pakistan was firmly in the "with us" and not the "against us" column.
Million-dollar questions remain. Did Mahmoud know when and how the attacks of September 11 would happen? Did Musharraf know? Could the Bush administration have prevented September 11? It's hard to believe high echelons of the CIA and FBI were not aware of the direct link between the ISI and alleged chief hijacker Mohammed Atta.
On October 7, Mahmoud was demoted from the ISI. By that time, Washington obviously knew of the connection between Mahmoud, Saeed Sheikh and Mohamed Atta: the FBI knew it. The official version is that Mahmoud was sacrificed because he was too close to the Taliban - which, it is never enough to remind, are a cherished creature of the ISI. Two other ISI big shots, Lieutenant-General Mohammed Aziz Khan and Chief of General Staff Mohammed Yousouf, are also demoted along with Mahmoud. Saeed Sheikh was under orders to Khan.
The fact remains that even with this Musharraf-conducted purge of the ISI elite, the bulk of ISI officers remained, and still are, pro-Taliban. Other former ISI directors living in Pakistan, such as the colorful, outspoken Lieutenant-General Hamid Gul, did not "disappear" and always renew their support for the Taliban. But as Asia Times Online has reported, Mahmoud did disappear. He lives in near seclusion in Rawalpindi. And he is definitely not talking. Graham and Goss may not be interested in talking to him either. Because he may be the ultimate September 11 smoking gun.
The Karl Rove-designed campaign to re-elect Bush is in essence anchored on September 11. The Republican convention in New York will happen in the first week of September. Bush's speech will be on September 2 - to force the connection with the three-year commemoration of September 11.
This whole affair is not about whether Clarke committed "perjury"; whether Rice was really up to her job; or whether George W Bush knew something and then "forgot" about it. The families of September 11 victims, US public opinion, the demonized Islamic world, the whole world for that matter, all everybody wants to know is what really happened on September 11. The only party that does not seem interested in getting to the bottom of it is the Bush administration. The official fable of 19 kamikaze Arabs turning Boeings into missiles with military precision, armed only with box cutters and a few flight lessons and directed from an Afghan cave by a satellite phone-shy bin Laden simply does not hold. The commission is not asking the really hard questions. Here are just a few - and they are far from being the most embarrassing.

1) The "stand down" order: Why, despite more than an hour's warning that an attack was happening, were no F-16s protecting US airspace? Documents easily available online reveal why the Pentagon could not act: because of bureaucracy. Why did the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) claim it took 25 minutes after the transponder was shut down to learn that Flight 11 - which hit World Trade Center Tower 1 - was hijacked? Why did fighters not take off from Andrews Air Force base just outside Washington to protect the Pentagon?

2) The pre-September 11 suspicious stock option trades in American Airlines and United Airlines were never fully investigated. Who profited?

3) What happened to the FBI investigation into flight schools - when it was proved that at least five of the 19 hijackers were trained in US military schools?

4) Why did Bush keep reading a pet-goat story for more than half an hour after the first WTC hit, and 15 minutes after Chief of Staff Andrew Card told him there had been an attack?

5) What really happened to Flight 93? An Associated Press story last August quoting a congressional report said the FBI suspected the plane was crashed on purpose. The FBI has a flight-simulation video of what happened: the video - as well as the black box - remain top secret. And as far as four "indestructible" black boxes are concerned, how come none were found, unlike Mohammed Atta's intact passport lying in the WTC rubble?

6) Why have no scientific experts examined the physical and mathematical evidence that a Boeing 757 could not have possibly "disappeared" without a trace after hitting the Pentagon? For the most exhaustive and practically incontrovertible analysis available on the net, see this report.

7) What remains of the very tight 1980s bin Laden-ISI-CIA connection? How much did the CIA know about what the ISI was up to? And how much did the ISI know about what al-Qaeda was up to?

8) What does Rice really know about the very close relations between Mahmoud and the top echelons of the Bush administration?

The genie - the crucial information - is still in the bottle.

(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)

Posted by maximpost at 10:02 PM EDT

US Fights Sunni Militants and Shiite Insurgents listen
In Sunni and Shiite cities across Iraq, US forces are now engaged in the kind of urban warfare they've tried to avoid for the past year. House-to-house fighting, helicopter gun-ships and 500-pound bombs are producing high casualties on both sides. There's concern that angry moderates will join militants in an anti-American "jihad, raising uncertainty whether the Coalition has the forces it needs to provide security in Iraq in time for the transfer of power scheduled for June 30. Joining Warren Olney for an overview of the fighting and an eyewitness account of what Muqtada al-Sadr's "Mahdi Army" is really like are reporters in Iraq for the Christian Science Monitor, New York Times and Los Angeles Times. A Middle East expert and defense analyst assess the prospect for military success, and we get some insight into the political impact on the ongoing presidential campaign from journalists with Congressional Quarterly and National Journal.
Will air Wednesday, April 7, 2004.

Les myst?res du programme nucl?aire iranien
LE MONDE | 07.04.04 | 14h06
L'iran a-t-il d?finitivement renonc? ? se doter de la bombe atomique, en ?change d'une coop?ration accrue des Occidentaux ? Ou se r?serve-t-il malgr? tout cette possibilit?, pour acc?der co?te que co?te au statut de puissance r?gionale, au risque de provoquer une crise g?n?ralis?e du trait? de non-prolif?ration nucl?aire (TNP), d?j? mal en point au Moyen-Orient et en Asie ? Alors qu'en octobre 2003 le r?gime islamique paraissait avoir tranch? en faveur de la premi?re option, gr?ce aux efforts conjugu?s de l'Allemagne, de la Grande-Bretagne et de la France, les signes d'un raidissement iranien se sont multipli?s. C'est sur fond de m?fiance mutuelle que le directeur de l'Agence internationale de l'?nergie atomique (AIEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, est retourn? ? T?h?ran, mardi 6 avril, dans l'espoir de remettre sur les rails le processus amorc? en 2003. Une semaine auparavant, la tro?ka europ?enne avait appel? les autorit?s iraniennes ? "s'expliquer".
Furieuses de la r?solution adopt?e le 13 mars par le conseil des gouverneurs de l'Agence, qui soulignait les lacunes de leur coop?ration, les autorit?s iraniennes ont repouss? ? la mi-avril la premi?re mission d'inspection des experts onusiens au titre du protocole additionnel ? l'accord de garantie du TNP, qu'elles avaient pourtant sign? fin d?cembre. Elles ont aussi annonc? fin mars, par la voix du vice-pr?sident iranien et chef de la commission ? l'?nergie atomique, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, la mise en route ? Ispahan d'une unit? de conversion d'uranium en gaz, premi?re ?tape vers la fabrication de mat?riaux fissiles.
Cette annonce a alarm? le si?ge de l'AIEA, ? Vienne, comme les chancelleries occidentales. Car elle s'ajoute ? d'autres indices de mauvaise volont? : le refus de T?h?ran de d?livrer aux inspecteurs des visas d'un an ? entr?es multiples (ce qui limite le caract?re "inopin?" de leurs visites sur les sites), ou encore le fait que les experts onusiens n'aient pas ?t? autoris?s ? utiliser leurs propres appareils pour photographier ou prendre des mesures ?lectroniques dans les ateliers - souvent situ?s dans des bases militaires - o? ?taient mont?es les centrifugeuses destin?es ? enrichir l'uranium. Le dialogue avec les Europ?ens pi?tine, T?h?ran leur r?clamant des ?quipements - avions ou construction de centrales nucl?aires -, alors que ses interlocuteurs pensent qu'il faut d'abord reconstruire un rapport de confiance min? par vingt ans de cachotteries.
Enfin, l'Iran n'a toujours pas donn? d'explication convaincante ? la d?couverte, au printemps 2003, dans des ateliers longtemps tenus secrets ? T?h?ran, de traces d'uranium hautement enrichi : ? 36 % (un taux caract?ristique des r?acteurs de recherche russes), mais aussi ? plus de 80 %, donc tr?s proche d'une qualit? militaire.
Les responsables iraniens ont beau assurer que les "exp?riences"de conversion ne remettent pas en cause leur engagement envers les Europ?ens de cesser toute activit? d'enrichissement, leur d?cision a ?t? critiqu?e comme un "mauvais signal" ? Paris, ? Berlin et ? Londres : "L'Iran doit expliquer ses intentions", ont exig? les trois capitales dans un communiqu? publi? le 31 mars. La veille, ? Washington, le sous-secr?taire d'Etat am?ricain charg? du contr?le des armements, John Bolton, avait ?t? plus direct : "L'Iran semble d?termin? ? poursuivre son programme nucl?aire militaire de fa?on discr?te et clandestine, afin d'obtenir plus ais?ment les technologies-cl?s dont il a besoin."
Pour lui comme pour les autres faucons de l'administration Bush, la cause est entendue : si elle veut pr?server sa cr?dibilit?, l'AIEA sera contrainte t?t ou tard de d?f?rer le dossier iranien devant le Conseil de s?curit? de l'ONU.
Jusqu'? pr?sent, les Europ?ens ont r?sist? aux pressions am?ricaines, jugeant qu'un dialogue avec T?h?ran, m?me insatisfaisant, vaut mieux que de pousser le r?gime islamique ? la rupture. L'exemple de la Cor?e du Nord, qui est sortie d?but 2003 du TNP, apr?s que son cas eut ?t? port? devant l'ex?cutif onusien ? New York, et qui se livre depuis ? un chantage ? la bombe pour arracher des concessions ? la communaut? internationale, incite les Occidentaux et leurs alli?s asiatiques ? la prudence. L'administration am?ricaine est elle-m?me h?sitante sur la conduite ? tenir ? l'?gard de T?h?ran. Si les faucons pr?nent une strat?gie offensive, visant ? terme ? faire tomber le r?gime des mollahs, les bataillons de diplomates investis dans la transition en Irak per?oivent de fa?on aigu? ? quel point ils ont besoin de l'Iran, qui peut user de son influence pour stabiliser la communaut? chiite - ou, au contraire, la dresser contre les arm?es ?trang?res. Il sera de toute fa?on difficile ? Washington d'arr?ter sa strat?gie iranienne avant l'?lection pr?sidentielle - de fait, avant le d?but de 2005. Fins joueurs d'?checs, les Iraniens veulent-ils mettre ? profit cette ann?e de r?pit non seulement pour pousser leurs pions sur la sc?ne g?opolitique, mais aussi pour passer dans la cat?gorie redout?e de puissance nucl?aire r?gionale, marchant ainsi sur les traces de l'Inde, du Pakistan et d'Isra?l - trois pays qui se sont cependant bien gard?s d'adh?rer au TNP ?
"On ne peut pas exclure, poursuit un diplomate proche de l'Agence, qu'un clan ? T?h?ran ait fait le choix du pire, avec l'argument que seule l'arme nucl?aire permettra de se faire respecter par les Occidentaux." Le fait que M. Aghazadeh, qui avait d?fendu en mai 2003, devant les gouverneurs de l'AIEA, une version tr?s peu cr?dible du programme nucl?aire iranien, soit revenu sur le devant de la sc?ne au d?triment de Hassan Rohani, un conservateur en qui les Europ?ens voyaient un interlocuteur fiable, laisse craindre que les ultranationalistes ne l'aient emport? sur les pragmatiques. Comme le soulignait ? l'automne un rap-port de l'International Crisis Group, jamais T?h?ran ne s'est senti aussi menac? : "Id?ologiquement hostile ? Isra?l mais culturellement en porte- ?-faux avec le monde arabe, convaincu qu'il n'a pas de v?ritable alli? mais beaucoup d'adversaires potentiels, entour? de gouvernements amis des Etats-Unis ou qui abritent d'importantes forces militaires am?ricaines, voire les deux ? la fois", l'Iran - qui convoitait d?j? la bombe au temps du chah - pourrait essayer de franchir ? marche forc?e les ?tapes qui le s?parent encore de la ma?trise compl?te du cycle nucl?aire.
Le difficile pari des Europ?ens consiste ? montrer aux Iraniens qu'ils ont beaucoup ? gagner s'ils coop?rent, et trop ? perdre dans la confrontation. Un Iran nucl?aris? inciterait la Turquie et l'Arabie saoudite ? suivre la m?me pente. L'axe construit depuis quelques ann?es entre Riyad et T?h?ran, notam-ment au sein de l'Organisation des pays exportateurs de p?trole, qui s'assure ainsi une meilleure ma?trise des prix, n'y survivrait pas longtemps. Pas plus que le TNP, dont la conf?rence de mise ? jour, ? Gen?ve en 2005, promet d?j? d'?tre houleuse. L'avenir du r?gime de non-prolif?ration nucl?aire, affaibli par la d?fection nord-cor?enne et les r?v?lations sur la fili?re pakistanaise, se joue sans doute, au cours des prochains mois, sur l'?chiquier iranien.

Jo?lle Stolz
L'Iran va construire un r?acteur ? eau lourde
LEMONDE.FR | 07.04.04 | 19h33
Pour les Iraniens, le r?acteur d'Arak doit servir ? la recherche et ? des fins m?dicales et industrielles, mais les instances de l'ONU craignent qu'il ne servent ? produire du plutonium ? usage militaire.
L'Iran doit commencer en juin ? construire un r?acteur ? eau lourde qui pourrait servir ? la production de plutonium ? usage militaire, ont affirm? mercredi 7 avril des diplomates ? Vienne, au lendemain de promesses iraniennes de coop?ration faites au directeur g?n?ral de l'Agence internationale de l'?nergie atomique (AIEA), Mohamed ElBaradei.
T?h?ran avait signal? en automne vouloir lancer un tel chantier, mais le passage ? l'acte ne peut que pr?occuper la communaut? internationale, qui craint que l'Iran cherche ? se doter de l'arme atomique sous couvert de nucl?aire civil, selon ces sources.
"L'Iran doit annoncer prochainement qu'il va commencer en juin ? travailler sur un r?acteur de recherche ? l'eau lourde ? Arak", ? 200 km au sud-ouest de T?h?ran, a d?clar? un diplomate proche de l'AIEA. Mardi, ? T?h?ran, l'Iran avait promis au directeur g?n?ral de l'AIEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, d'intensifier sa coop?ration et de r?pondre rapidement aux questions en suspens pour dissiper les doutes sur son programme nucl?aire.
Le r?acteur d'Arak, d'apr?s cette source, ne serait pas en violation des garanties du trait? de non-prolif?ration nucl?aire (TNP), mais sa construction adresserait ? nouveau un signal politique n?gatif ? la communaut? internationale, qui demande aux Iraniens de prouver qu'ils ne sont pas en train de fabriquer la bombe atomique.
D?j?, l'Iran avait annonc? fin mars qu'il voulait commencer ? convertir de l'uranium, une ?tape pr?alable ? l'enrichissement, dans le complexe d'Ispahan. Mardi, les Iraniens ont refus? ? M. ElBaradei de reporter ces activit?s de conversion. "Ce n'est pas par hasard" si le chantier d'Arak doit commencer en juin, le mois m?me o? le conseil des gouverneurs de l'AIEA tiendra une nouvelle session, selon ce diplomate.
D'apr?s lui en effet, T?h?ran, qui clame son bon droit, veut affirmer son ind?pendance et apaiser les durs du r?gime islamique qui vivent mal les inspections obtenues par l'AIEA.
Pour les Iraniens, le r?acteur doit servir ? la recherche et ? la production de radio-isotopes ? des fins m?dicales et industrielles. Cependant, il pourrait in fine servir ? produire du plutonium ? usage militaire, a not? le diplomate.
En novembre, l'Iran avait indiqu? dans un rapport soumis ? l'agence nucl?aire de l'ONU que pour remplacer son r?acteur de recherche vieux de trente ans et obsol?te, pr?s de la capitale, il avait tent? d'acqu?rir un r?acteur ? l'?tranger, mais en avait ?t? emp?ch? ? cause des sanctions occidentales.
Il convient d'emp?cher les Iraniens de commencer le chantier, car sinon "'il y aura un fait accompli", selon un diplomate. D'apr?s lui, "on peut toujours r?gler ?a en installant un r?acteur d'un autre type ? Arak et en donnant du combustible nucl?aire" ? usage civil aux Iraniens. Encore faut-il, selon lui, que l'AIEA re?oive des r?ponses satisfaisantes aux questions qu'elle se pose sur les programmes iraniens.
L'Iran avait remis ? l'agence onusienne, en octobre 2003, une d?claration pr?sent?e comme compl?te sur ses activit?s nucl?aires. Mais T?h?ran a ensuite ?t? condamn? par l'agence de s?ret? nucl?aire de l'ONU pour avoir cach? des activit?s sensibles notamment un projet de fabrication de centrifugeuses P2 capables d'enrichir de l'uranium. L'Iran s'est engag? mardi ? fournir des informations ? ce sujet.
T?h?ran a sign? en 2003 le protocole additionnel au TNP, qui autorise des inspections surprises de ses sites, et s'est engag? ? l'appliquer avant m?me sa ratification par le Parlement.

Avec AFP
Iran Plans Reactor That Can Make Weapons-Grade Plutonium Wires
Wednesday, April 7, 2004
VIENNA, Austria - Iran will start building a nuclear reactor in June that can produce weapons-grade plutonium, diplomats said Wednesday. Although Tehran insists the heavy-water facility is for research, the decision heightens concern about its nuclear ambitions.
One diplomat said the planned 40-megawatt reactor could produce enough plutonium for a nuclear weapon each year, an amount experts commonly say is 8.8 pounds.
The diplomats told The Associated Press that Iran informed the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency last year of its plans to build a reactor, and Iranian officials have previously suggested the reactor was already being built.
But the diplomats said construction had not yet begun and that Iranian officials announced the June start date for the first time during talks Tuesday in Tehran with Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.
With Iran open about its desire to build the facility, the diplomats said the Iranian decision to go ahead with the plan was not an overt example of Tehran backtracking on pledges to dispel suspicions it is pursuing nuclear weapons.
Still, it "sends a bad signal at a time all eyes are on Iran," one of the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
International scrutiny of Iran's nuclear program has been growing since the IAEA discovered last year that Tehran had not disclosed large-scale efforts to enrich uranium, which can be used in nuclear warheads.
Traces of weapons-grade uranium found by inspectors and evidence of suspicious experiments led to a series of critical resolutions by the IAEA's board of governors.
The resolutions stopped short of forcing Iran to go before the U.N. Security Council, as demanded by the United States. But if ElBaradei gives a negative progress report on Iran when the IAEA board of governors meets in June, just as construction of the reactor is getting under way, Tehran could face action by the security council.
Iran argues that it needs the reactor to produce radioisotopes for medical research. But spent fuel rods from the planned reactor can be reprocessed to produce plutonium, also used for nuclear warheads, although the facility would be subject to IAEA inspections and other controls intended to make sure no plutonium is created.
Still, the United States and other countries might seize on Iran's plans as further evidence that the Islamic republic is not serious about quelling suspicions about its intentions.
"We feel strongly that there is no need for indigenous heavy water in Iran," said a Western diplomat, also speaking on condition of anonymity. "It's not necessary and highly suspicious."
The reactor site is at Arak, next to a heavy-water production plant. It is to replace a reactor using non-weapons-grade enriched uranium that the Iranians mothballed, saying it was outmoded and lacked fuel.
Because enrichment can be used to generate power and to make nuclear warheads, Iran has said it has suspended all enrichment to prove its peaceful intentions. It cannot buy enriched fuel on legal markets because of international suspicions about its intentions.
Seeking to counter accusations of continued deceit, Iran on Tuesday pledged to deliver a complete dossier to the IAEA detailing all its present and future nuclear activities by the end of April, ElBaradei said.
"We have agreed on an action plan with a timetable with how to move forward on the major outstanding issues," he said after meeting with Hasan Rowhani, secretary of Iran's powerful National Security Council.
Critics say Iran reneged on commitments to win international trust as IAEA inspectors discovered evidence of past experiments that could be used to develop weapons.
Adding to the skepticism was Iran's announcement last month that it inaugurated a uranium conversion facility in Isfahan, 155 miles south of Tehran, to process uranium ore into gas, a crucial step before uranium enrichment.
Iran insists the move does not contradict its pledge to suspend enrichment. But Britain, France and Germany, which have stymied past U.S. attempts to castigate Iran, said the plant sent the wrong signal.
Last year, the three secured Iran's agreement to suspend enrichment and cooperate with the IAEA in exchange for promised access to Western technology.
? 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Chirac Shuffle May Spell Long-Term U.S. Bashing
by John Gizzi
Posted Apr 7, 2004
Reeling from the setback his government got in regional elections last week, French President Jacques Chirac dramatically reshuffled his government. The likeliest long-term impact of the Chirac shuffle, Paris watchers in Washington said last week, is more strained relations with the U.S. after Chirac's term is up in '07 and the French elect a new president.
Although Chirac retained Jean-Pierre Raffarin as prime minister, he turned his Cabinet upside down. The most dramatic changes were the naming of Foreign Minister (and long-assumed Chirac heir apparent for president) Dominique de Villepin as Interior Minister and shifting the present Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy (who is not close to Chirac and makes no secret of his desire to succeed him) as finance minister.
While the titles and power therein may not sound significant to most Americans, they have a profound impact on France and Europe. Translated from French, de Villepin--even more notorious than Chirac at the U.S. State Department and on the Washington diplomatic cocktail circuit for his relentless criticism of U.S. action in Iraq and support of a French-dominated European Union--now gets the domestic clout to lay the groundwork for a presidential campaign when Chirac steps down in '07--overseeing security from local to the national level, homeland security, immigration. Machiavelli admirer de Villepin also now controls the all-powerful counterintelligence service.
In contrast, the 49-year-old Sarkovzy was given what is tantamount to a demotion among Frenchmen: put in charge of launching a recovery of what is now the most stagnant and moribund among European economies. Unemployment in France is now a striking 9.6% and finances are at their lowest ebb since the oil shock of 1973.
In a country where statism seems a required religion for most office-holders, Sarkozy is an admirer of Margaret Thatcher-esque economics and, as the equivalent of Office of Management and Budget chief in the '90's, he was a vigorous advocate of reducing taxes. The man Frenchmen call "Sarko" is also no Chirac clone; his mentor was former Premier and Finance Minister Eduard Balladur, the French pol admired by American conservatives such as economist Paul Craig Roberts, and Chirac has reportedly never forgiven Sarkozy for campaigning for Balladur against him in the 1995 election.
So what the Chirac shuffle means is that, if "Le Grand Jacques" is unelectable himself in '07, he wants the next best thing in de Villepin.

Copyright ? 2003 HUMAN EVENTS. All Rights Reserved.
Secret Taiwan missile program aims at Mainland targets
Taiwan is planning to develop surface-to-surface missiles capable of hitting key targets on the Mainland as China continues its own missile buildup. has learned that Taiwan is involved in a secret program, dubbed Tiching, to develop both a short-range (SRBM) and medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM). Taiwan is attempting to develop a surface-to-surface missile (SSM) capable of hitting Shanghai and Hong Kong...
Czech selling advanced stealth-detecting radar to China over Western objections...



US lacked a clear, cohesive policy on Iraq, says Perle
By Peter Spiegel in Washington
Published: April 7 2004 20:58 | Last Updated: April 7 2004 20:58

It has suddenly become the season of the tell-all tome. First, there was Paul O'Neill, the former Treasury secretary who told of a Bush administration obsessed by Iraq from day one. Most recently came Richard Clarke, the ex-counterterrorism chief who alleges the White House ignored al-Qaeda until it was too late.
Sandwiched in between, however, and given far less notice, was another book highly critical of those around President George W. Bush, but from a much more surprising source: Richard Perle, the former Pentagon adviser often regarded as the intellectual godfather of the administration's aggressive foreign policy.
Unlike the other books, An End to Evil - co-written by yet another administration ?migr?, David Frum, a former speechwriter - is careful to steer clear of Mr Bush himself as well as Mr Perle's patron, Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary.
But Mr Perle's book takes aim at almost everyone else in the senior reaches of the Bush foreign policy team and accuses many of them of significant failures in the run-up to, and the aftermath of, the war in Iraq.
On the armed forces: "Much of the planning for, and debate about, the Iraq campaign exposed the grip of the dead hand of military tradition." On the State department: "Seldom has the foreign policy bureaucracy inflicted such shameful damage on American interests than in its opposition to working with Saddam's Iraqi opponents." On the CIA: "George Tenet has been the director of central intelligence since 1997, time enough to have changed the agency's culture. He has failed. He should go."
Mr Perle acknowledges that part of the reason he quit the Defence Advisory Board, the Pentagon panel he used to chair, in February was to give full voice to such criticisms.
"I say a number of things in the book that are critical of a number of government departments," he says. "Often, administrations feel compelled to defend their agencies."
Indeed, in a hour-long interview, Mr Perle is even more critical of those agencies than in the book, arguing that the administration failed in its policymaking both before the war - he would have trained Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress as a government-in-exile months before the war started - and after.
"There were a lot of divisions about how we prepare for the postwar period, and some of those divisions prevented the emergence of a clear, cohesive, orderly policy," he muses. "I think you need a much more disciplined approach to the activities of separate institutions, who all have a role in a situation like that. I think the CIA was often at cross-purposes with national policy. The military often made their own more-or-less independent judgments about what was highest priority."
Asked whether such criticisms are an attack on Condoleezza Rice, whose job as national security adviser includes such policy co-ordination, Mr Perle demurs: "All I'm prepared to say is that there was not sufficient co-ordination. I don't want to assign blame."
And such criticisms do not extend to the war itself, of course. "We should have done it sooner, we should have done it differently in my view, but we did it and I'm glad we did it," he says.
Mr Perle has never been a shrinking violet, and while he complains repeatedly that his views are frequently twisted by political opponents, he clearly relishes his role as provocateur. But his views are also far more nuanced than critics on the right or left give him credit for. Patrick Buchanan, the conservative commentator, argued recently that Mr Perle's book called for "no end to war" but perhaps surprisingly, Mr Perle readily acknowledges democracy at the point of a gun is virtually impossible.
"I don't believe democracy can be imposed from outside. . . I certainly prefer change from within to military action from the outside," he says. "They make it sound as though we're proposing war with Syria, war with Iran. It's not true. I don't propose war with anyone. Libya is an example of what I and some others hope will result from a more robust American policy."
By more robust, Mr Perle means constant, almost harassing diplomatic pressure. Stopping the flow of oil from Iraq to Syria. Smuggling communications equipment to Iranian dissidents. Backing independence for Saudi Arabia's oil-producing Eastern Provinces.
It sounds like a recipe for destabilising an entire region, one that is home to one of the US's most important interests - oil - and its most dangerous enemy, Islamic fundamentalism.
Press him about whether that truly is his vision for the Middle East, and it suddenly becomes hard to pin Mr Perle down. At times, it appears the threats he advocates are just that: threats to be used to twist arms, rather than to be actually carried out.
"We're asking the governments to do certain things, and they're well aware that it is in within our power to do things that would destabilise their situation," he says elliptically. "They don't want that, so is it wrong for us to say we can make life very difficult for you if you don't want to do it?"
And what of signs that some of the region's regimes are softening, such as Iran's nascent moves towards openness on its nuclear programme? Should they not be rewarded? "I'm not against carrots," he says. "But it's stick first, and then the carrots."

Senators condemn UN's oil-for-food programme
By Salamander Davoudi in Washington and Claudio Gatti and Mark Turner in New York
Published: April 7 2004 21:56 | Last Updated: April 7 2004 21:56

Leading Democratic and Republican figures on Wednesday united in condemnation of the United Nation's oil-for-food programme in Iraq through which Saddam Hussein's regime diverted billions of dollars despite international supervision.
Speaking at a hearing of the US Senate foreign relations committee, Richard Lugar, the Republican chairman, said there was "no doubt that the billions of dollars that should have been spent on humanitarian needs in Iraq were siphoned off".
Mr Hussein depended on "members of the UN Security Council who were willing to be complicit in his activities, and he required UN officials and contractors who were dishonest, inattentive or [willing] to make damaging compromises", he said.
The criticisms come amid growing controversy about the UN's policing of the oil-for-food programme.
Fresh insights into how the system was manipulated are revealed in Thursday's Financial Times, in a joint investigation with Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian business daily.
The US General Accounting Office, a congressional investigatory body, estimates Mr Hussein earned $10.1bn (?8.37bn) in illegal revenues. Of this, $5.7bn came from oil smuggled out of Iraq and $4.4bn in illicit surcharges on oil sales and procurement deals.
Several senators urged the publication of the names of companies and individuals that did business with Saddam's regime.
Oil sales contracts, the committee heard, were drawn up on a forward-cost basis, so the Iraqis could take the difference between the sale price and the market price. After the US and Britain advocated a retroactive pricing system, where the price was set at a later date, the scope for kickbacks was "substantially reduced", John Negroponte, US ambassador to the UN, said.

Lawmakers Seek Probe of U.N. Oil-for-Food Program
NewsMax Wires
Thursday, Apr. 08, 2004
U.S. lawmakers are calling on the United Nations to conduct a thorough investigation of alleged corruption in its oil-for-food program in Iraq. They say such a probe is crucial if the world body is to maintain credibility as it prepares to play a role in the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq in late June.
Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday criticized the United Nations for corruption and graft in Iraq's oil-for-food program.
Congress' investigative arm, the General Accounting Office, estimates the regime of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein siphoned billions of dollars in illegal revenue from the program between 1997 and 2002.
The program allowed Iraq to make some humanitarian purchases through limited oil sales at a time when Baghdad was under international sanctions for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee suggested the United Nations' failure to adequately monitor the program calls into question its ability to help Iraq make a transition to a sovereign government June 30.
"There are serious allegations about mismanagement and corruption that must be addressed," said Delaware Senator Joe Biden, the panel's top Democrat. "Not only to hold accountable those who are guilty of corruption, but to make sure we get it right in the future, because we are going to lose credibility, the institution will lose credibility and the ability in the future to act is going to be seriously damaged.
Committee chairman, Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, agreed. "The credibility of the United Nations in attempting to referee, supervise, or help to transform Iraq in this situation is really at stake," he said.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for an independent probe into the corruption allegations.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, told the Foreign Relations Committee that he is urging the secretary general to appoint experienced investigators who will handle the process in a viable and transparent way.
"I think it is important that he [Secretary General Annan] choose very high caliber people of outstanding reputation to lead this panel. I understand he intends to name the panel members in the near future," he said.
Some senators blamed Russia, France and China for blocking past U.S. efforts to investigate the corruption allegations. Those nations played a key role in the oil-for-food program.
Senator Lugar suggested those countries may have opposed the U.S.-led coalition's decision to use force to topple Saddam Hussein because ousting the regime would expose corruption in the oil-for-food program.

U.N. investigations focus on process, not substance.

By Claudia Rosett
"Cover-up" may sound farfetched, given the number of hearings and investigations now zeroing in on the United Nations Oil-for-Food scandal. The Iraq Governing Council began its own inquiry back in March. The U.S. Congress has scheduled three hearings this month, the first of them taking place today (Wednesday) before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. At the U.N. itself, where more than 100 audits over the course of the seven-year program apparently managed to miss more than $10 billion in smuggling and graft, Secretary-General Kofi Annan finally gave in last month to demands for an independent inquiry, and is now convening a team of investigators.
But when it comes to Oil-for-Food, there seem to be a lot of inquiring minds that don't want to know. Nor is the itch for ignorance confined to those most directly in the line of fire: the vast number of U.N.-approved contractors who paid kickbacks to Saddam Hussein; the U.N. staff who will now be investigated; the executive director of Oil-for-Food, Benon Sevan, alleged to have had his hand in the pot; or even the U.N. auditors -- whatever they did with their time.
No, the bigger problem is the prevailing notion -- and it seems to prevail all the way up to the White House -- that the U.N.'s image must somehow be kept pure enough so that it can soon (June 30) replace the Coalition Provisional Authority in post-Saddam Iraq as the primary outsider involved in Iraqi daily affairs. The fear, in New York and Washington, repeated by many a source speaking strictly on background, is that if we ever get to the bottom of this U.N.-funneled geyser of graft, it might discredit the U.N. too badly to allow it yet another influential role in Iraq.
Since Annan's epiphany last month, that "It is highly possible that there has been quite a lot of wrongdoing," the whitewashing has begun. The chief vehicle for this effort looks likely to be the U.N.'s own investigation, which will now be carried out under terms devised by none other than Kofi Annan himself -- the same Kofi Annan who presided over this cornucopia of corruption in the first place.
On the face of it, the impending U.N. investigation sounds satisfactory. According to the "terms of reference" -- meaning the ground rules proposed last month by Annan and welcomed by the Security Council -- the investigators are to have "unrestricted access to all relevant United Nations records and information" and to all U.N. personnel, "regardless of their seniority." They will check into such matters as whether U.N. staff or contractors took bribes "in the carrying out of their respective roles in relation to the Programme," and determine whether the accounts were kept "in accordance with the relevant Financial Regulations and Rules of the United Nations."
All that's left to do is wait for Annan to name the members of the panel. Within three months, they will then submit to Annan, in quintuplicate, a summary and underlying report. These materials he will share with the public, up to a point -- that point involving various judgments about "the rights of staff members" at the U.N., as well as anything the investigators might decide to keep confidential.
That's interesting, as far as it goes. In the event that any U.N. employees did happen to pocket the office paper clips, take bribes strictly through official U.N. channels, or leave the commas off some of the thousands of U.N.-processed contracts through which Saddam Hussein skimmed billions out of the Oil-for-Food program, Annan's ground rules may quite possibly nail a few wrongdoers.
But when the entire investigation is done, even if brilliantly performed under these guidelines, there will still be no accounting for the gross failures that allowed the U.N. to devise, implement, approve, and expand this monstrosity of a program until the transition had been made from food-for-children to palaces,-sports-stadiums,-smuggling,-and-kickbacks-for-Saddam-and-his-worldwide-network-of-cronies. When Annan sifts through the underlying report (in quintuplicate) there will still be no explanation of why top U.N. officials (including Annan himself) -- charged not with cleaning the copy machines, but with protecting the integrity of the institution and serving the public interest -- chose instead to shrug, gloss over Saddam's gross abuses, blame others, deny, stonewall, and finally come up with an investigation focused mainly on paper clips.
In a letter last week to Annan, Rep. Henry Hyde (R., Ill.), who will preside at an Oil-for-Food hearing later this month, wrote that the program "represents a scandal without precedent in U.N. history." Hyde's suggestion to Annan was: "Your response to these allegations must be equally unprecedented."
Hyde is onto something big. Oil-for-Food is important not simply as a stellar story of fraud, but for what it highlights about pervasive flaws in the structure and habits of the U.N. There is first the problem of responsibility: When something goes wrong, as we are now witnessing, the Security Council blames the Secretariat, and the Secretariat blames the Security Council. If something goes very badly wrong, then there is finally an investigation, maybe one or two people get fired, but there is no change of paradigm. Perhaps that's the only arrangement by which the U.N. can hold together. If so, we need to absorb the message that the U.N. is an institution that should never be trusted to carry out missions requiring integrity or responsibility. (Engendering a free society in Iraq, for instance.)
Then there's the U.N. custom of secrecy, usually explained by U.N. officials as a matter of deference to the "sensitivities" of member nations. How convenient. Chronic secrecy is a policy best geared to serve those who have the most to hide: the tyrants, the crooks, and the cheats (which, not coincidentally, turned out to be precisely the stew served up by Oil-for-Food). In setting up Oil-for-Food, the U.N. deferred greatly to the sensitivities of Saddam, protecting the privacy of his totalitarian regime and his business partners -- which included the commission-collecting U.N. itself. Had the details of the contracts been made public all along, had the accounts and the famous 100-and-then-some audits been released, often, there would have been at least a better chance of keeping Oil-for-Food honest.
None of this will be addressed by the independent U.N. investigation. Instead, once Annan has sorted through the findings and sifted out whatever is judged by U.N. standards to violate the "rights of staff members," we are all too likely to emerge with a U.N. just as irresponsible, unaccountable, and secretive as when it spawned Oil-for-Food, back in the mid-1990s. (Though the paperwork may, for a while, be kept in better order.)
Hope must turn, then, to the congressional hearings, and the investigation of the Iraq Governing Council. On the congressional front, staffers have been struggling to get a grip on Oil-for-Food, a program that was simply so vast, so complicated, and for so long so busily confidential, that it will be miraculous if they are able to piece it together thoroughly enough to lever any motion toward real reform at the U.N. The only serious point of leverage, actually, is U.S. funding, which provides about 22 percent of Annan's core budget. In the case of Iraq, the U.N. in return for this delivered a decade of busted sanctions, culminating in financial collaboration with a murderous tyrant, topped off by a knockdown fight in the Security Council pitting the U.S. and the U.K. against Saddam's U.N.-approved clientele, all topped off by Oil-for-Food. And, oh yes, now we have the U.N.'s offer to return to Iraq -- to confer legitimacy.
Quite likely, the best chance of a report that is both fully informed and frank lies with the investigation, in Baghdad, under the authority of the Iraq Governing Council. Early on, the Iraqis understood the need to look into Oil-for-Food -- while Annan, who for almost seven years ran the program, was still professing his doubts that anything might have been wrong. But in the current climate of complicated worries about discrediting the U.N., it should come as no surprise that the Iraqi investigation recently hit a bump. The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, in its own version of U.N.-style procedure, at this late date suddenly required the IGC-hired investigating team to drop their work in order to write a proposal, bidding for the right to carry out the investigation already well underway. In response, an adviser to the IGC, Claude Hankes-Drielsma, sent a letter to the CPA, noting: "I would certainly hope that the independent report commissioned and approved by the Iraq Governing Council will not become a political football either through confusion or interference." It seems the IGC investigation will now be able to go forward. That would be a very good thing, especially in the way of helping the Iraqi people decide just how much legitimacy they themselves would like to confer upon the U.N.

-- Claudia Rosett is a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and an adjunct fellow with the Hudson Institute.



Bundesbank head suspended after accepting ?5,000 stay at hotel

Charlotte Denny
Thursday April 8, 2004
The Guardian
An embarrassed Bundesbank was forced to send its president, Ernst Welteke, on gardening leave yesterday following the revelation that the country's most
senior financial official had accepted four nights' accommodation for himself and his family at a luxury Berlin hotel paid for by a private bank.
In a statement following an all-day emergency meeting of its board, the Bundesbank said there were not sufficient grounds to fire Mr Welteke, who has apologised and offered to repay half the ?8,000 (?5,000) cost of his stay.
Despite the lukewarm backing of the board, his future was looking uncertain last night. On Monday Frankfurt prosecutors launched a formal investigation into the scandal.
Dresdner Bank, which paid Mr Welteke's bill for the four-day stay in January 2001 during the launch of the euro's new notes and coins, is regulated by the Bundesbank. Prosecutors will examine whether Mr Welteke broke laws governing the conduct of public officials by accepting the company's hospitality.
The affair has enraged politicians at a time when the German economy is struggling to shrug off three years of economic stagnation. The government is reported to have privately asked Mr Welteke to resign and yesterday urged the fiercely independent central bank to make a quick decision about his future.
"It would be in the interest of the Bundesbank, which is a very special institution and in Germany's history enjoys a particularly high reputation ... that one reaches a quick decision," government spokesman Thomas Steg said ahead of the meeting.
Public opinion has been inflamed by the story of Mr Welteke's lavish lifestyle at a time when Germans are being told to accept painful economic reforms. The central bank has been particularly critical of the government's fiscal laxity, an irony not lost Mr Welteke's enemies.
Mr Welteke has not ruled out resigning to limit the damage to the bank's reputation. Names of possible candidates to succeed him are already floating in government circles, with deputy finance minister Caio Koch-Weser and Bundesbank vice-president J?rgen Stark seen as front runners.
The Bundesbank declined to spell out how long Mr Welteke's leave would last but added that Mr Stark would in the meantime take over Mr Welteke's seat on the European Central Bank's policy-making council.
Mr Steg made it clear that Berlin would prefer to see Mr Welteke go.
Given public criticism it was "understandable and justified if Welteke publicly asks himself the question whether he can put family, himself, his office and the institution of the Bundesbank through this" the spokesman said.


Bundesbank chief to "temporarily" step down
By Patrick Jenkins in Frankfurt
Published: April 6 2004 18:14 | Last Updated: April 8 2004 0:34

The board of the German Bundesbank Wednesday night asked Ernst Welteke, the central bank's president, to take an indefinite leave of absence following his involvement in a row over corporate hospitality.
The decision, after a seven-hour board meeting, gives Mr Welteke the chance to resume his position if he is found innocent of wrongdoing by an ongoing investigation into the affair by the Frankfurt state prosecutor.
However, the prosecutor said the probe could take "weeks or months" to determine whether Dresdner Bank sought to gain advantage when it paid a ?7,661 ($8,965) hotel bill for Mr Welteke and his family two years ago.
In a statement last night, the Bundesbank board said: "The president of a national central bank can only be sacked if he has committed a serious misdemeanour." J?rgen Stark, the Bundesbank's vice-president, will take charge during Mr Welteke's leave of absence.
The decision ignored urging from the government for a "swift clarification". The affair has been an embarrassment for the government of Gerhard Schr?der, the chancellor, as the controversy surrounding Mr Welteke hit the Bundesbank's reputation.
The Bundesbank is one of the bodies responsible for regulating Germany's banking sector.
In an interview with ZDF television on Wednesday, Mr Welteke said: "I don't believe I've ever done anything to compromise my independence. But if the board and the Frankfurt public prosecutor see things differently, then clearly one has to consider resignation."
Bundesbank is losing last of its mystique
By Bertrand Benoit
Published: April 8 2004 0:52 | Last Updated: April 8 2004 0:52
"Not all Germans believe in God," Jacques Delors, the former French finance minister and European Commission president, once remarked. "But they all believe in the Bundesbank."
That may have been true, once. Since the German central bank surrendered the tools of monetary policy to the European Central Bank five years ago, however, the halo has all but disappeared.
Against such a backdrop, this week's hospitality scandal involving Ernst Welteke, the bank's president, looks like the latest milestone on the institution's slow road towards insignificance.
"The myth of the Bundesbank has taken another blow," said J?rgen Michels, economist at Citigroup. "At stake here is no longer its influence, but its reputation in the mind of Germans and Europeans."
Up to the late 1990s, the bank's low-rise concrete headquarters in the Frankfurt suburb of Ginnheim was arguably the beating heart of monetary Europe, where short-term interest rates for the entire continent were, de facto, set.
That changed in 1999 with the creation of the euro and transfer of monetary policy across town to the Eurotower, the Frankfurt home of the European Central Bank, which sets rates for the eurozone.
The head of the "Buba", today has no more say in the continent's monetary affairs than the 11 other central bank presidents and six ECB executive council members who sit on the ECB's governing council.
The bank's other prerogatives have also been gradually eroded. Mr Welteke, for instance, failed to persuade Hans Eichel, finance minister and fellow Social Democrat, to give it the lead in supervising Germany's banking sector.
Remaining are secondary activities as operator of a payment system for financial institutions, collector of economic statistics and custodian of Germany's gold and currency reserves.
The concrete fortress on the river Main could still have put its statistical resources and independence from government to good use, by turning itself into a prime economic think-tank. Yet even there, it has been found wanting.
Bankers say Mr Welteke, a former finance minister in the state of Hesse and a political appointee in his current position, has demonstrated none of the intellectual brilliance of Karl Blessing, Karl Otto P?hl, or Hans Tietmeyer, his predecessors.
Gerhard Schr?der, German chancellor, had already finalised "Agenda 2010" on structural reforms when "Ways out of the crisis", the Bundesbank's contribution, came out in March 2003.
Having lost authority, the bank also shrank physically.
Under Mr Welteke, its payroll of 14,589 was due to be cut by a quarter by 2007.
Seventy-three of its 118 regional branches have been earmarked for closure.
Yet the news that Mr Welteke had Dresdner Bank pay ?7,661.20 ($9,330, ?5,070) for a luxury hotel for him and his family three years ago, while he was attending an event it sponsored, still matters, bankers say, as it could rob the Bundesbank of one of its few remaining attributes: its moral authority.
In a country where financial journalists routinely accept lavish hospitality from the companies they report on, it was less the hotel that shocked than Mr Welteke's initial reaction to the revelations in the Spiegel news magazine.
"When I attend somebody else's event, I assume the costs will be covered," he told journalists last Sunday.
He then paused, frowned and rhetorically added: "Should I pay for it myself?"

German government asks federal bank chief to resign 2004-04-08 09:31:35
BERLIN, April 7 (Xinhuanet) -- The German government on Wednesday asked German central bank chief Ernst Welteke to resign immediately for his so-called "hotel scandal."
Earlier in the day, Welteke, president of the Bundes bank, decided to step aside from his duties temporarily at a recommendation of the bank's board of directors.
But a statement from the German Finance Ministry said that to step aside on a temporary basis was not enough and "we expect this matter to be clarified immediately."
Welteke and his family members spent a couple of nights at a luxury five-star hotel in Berlin at the expenditure of a private bank during celebrations marking the circulation of euro on January 1, 2001.
German prosecutors have launched an investigation on whether Welteke violated laws by accepting favors from the private bank. Enditem


SPIEGEL ONLINE - 07. April 2004, 20:03
Kritik an Vorstands-Beschluss
Bundesregierung dr?ngt Welteke zum R?cktritt
Bundesbankpr?sident Ernst Welteke wird sein Amt ruhen lassen, bis die Vorw?rfe im Zusammenhang mit einem Luxus-Aufenthalt im Berliner Adlon-Hotel gekl?rt sind. Dies gab der Vorstand der Notenbank nach einer fast achtst?ndigen Krisensitzung bekannt. Die Bundesregierung dr?ngt derweil auf einen R?cktritt des Beh?rdenchefs.
Bundesbankchef Welteke: Abwarten, bis die Luxus-Vorw?rfe gekl?rt sind
Frankfurt am Main/Berlin - "Die Bundesregierung geht davon aus, dass der Bundesbankpr?sident in seiner Verantwortung vor dem Amt und der Institution Bundesbank die notwendigen Konsequenzen ziehen wird", erkl?rte das Bundesfinanzministerium am Mittwochabend in Berlin.
Die Entscheidung des Bundesbankvorstands gegen eine Entlassung Weltekes wegen der Hotelkostenaff?re kritisierte das Ministerium als unangemessen. "Die Bundesregierung ist der Auffassung, dass sowohl das Amt des Bundesbankpr?sidenten als auch die Bundesbank als Institution vor weiterem Schaden bewahrt werden m?ssen", hie? es in der Erkl?rung. "Dies gebietet ihre Stellung gegen?ber den Finanzm?rkten als auch die Mitgliedschaft im Rat der EZB."
Der Vorstand der Notenbank hatte zuvor entschieden, dass Vizepr?sident J?rgen Stark die Gesch?fte kommissarisch f?hren soll, hie? es in einer schriftlichen Erkl?rung. Stark ?bernehme auch vorl?ufig Weltekes Amt als Mitglied im Rat der Europ?ischen Zentralbank (EZB).
Die Entscheidung im Bundesbank-Vorstand sei sehr schwierig gewesen. "Die Bewertung des Sachverhalts auf der Grundlage des Europ?ischen Systems der Zentralbanken-Status, des Bundesbankgesetzes und des Anstellungsvertrages von Herrn Welteke bietet dem Vorstand keinen hinreichenden Grund, einen Antrag auf Abberufung des Bundesbank-Pr?sidenten aus seinem Amt zu stellen", hie? es in der schriftlichen Mitteilung des Vorstands. "Der Pr?sident einer nationalen Zentralbank kann nach Art.14 Absatz 2 des ESZB-Status nur entlassen werden, wenn er eine schwere Verfehlung begangen hat."
Der Bundesbankvorstand habe Welteke im Hinblick auf die staatsanwaltschaftlichen Ermittlungen empfohlen, seine Amtsgesch?fte ruhen zu lassen. Welteke habe dem entsprochen. Mit der Entscheidung, dass er sein Amt zun?chst nur ruhen l?sst, solle ihm erm?glicht werden, sein Gesicht zu wahren.
Interimspr?sident Stark: Sitz im Rat der EZB
W?hrend der Vorstand der Zentralbank in Frankfurt die Vorw?rfe gegen den Pr?sidenten pr?fte, dr?ngte die Bundesregierung auf eine rasche Entscheidung. Die Beratungen des siebenk?pfigen Gremiums ?ber den umstrittenen Hotel-Aufenthalt hatten mittags begonnen, gegen 19.10 Uhr war die Sitzung beendet. Vorstandsmitglied Franz-Christoph Zeitler war per Telefon zugeschaltet. Welteke, der an den Beratungen nicht teilnahm, war kurz vor 18 Uhr dazu gesto?en und verlie? den Raum kurze Zeit sp?ter wieder.
Der Bundesbank-Pr?sident hatte noch am Nachmittag in einem ZDF-Interview erkl?rt, er halte an seinem Posten fest. Wenn jedoch der Vorstand Verfehlungen feststelle und ihn die Ermittlungen der Staatsanwaltschaft belasteten, "dann muss man nat?rlich ?ber R?cktritt nachdenken".
Eine z?gige Kl?rung w?re f?r ihre "weitere Funktionsf?higkeit" und angesichts ihrer Rolle als eine "ganz besondere Institution" im Interesse der Bundesbank, sagte der stellvertretende Regierungssprecher Thomas Steg, w?hrend der Bundesbank-Vorstand tagte. Falls es nach einer Entscheidung des Gremiums notwendig werde, sei die Bundesregierung ihrerseits sofort in der Lage, die notwendigen Personalentscheidungen zu treffen, betonten sowohl Steg als auch der Sprecher des Bundesfinanzministeriums, J?rg M?ller, ohne sich auf Personalspekulationen einzulassen.
Im Laufe des Tages hatte sich der Staatssekret?r im Bundesfinanzministerium, Caio Koch-Weser, 59, als Favorit der Bundesregierung f?r die Nachfolge Weltekes herauskristallisiert. Neben ihm wurden auch Bundesbank-Vize Stark, 55, und die SPD-Finanzpolitikerin Ingrid Matth?us-Maier, 58, die im Vorstand der ehemaligen Kreditanstalt f?r Wiederaufbau (heute KfW-Bankengruppe) sitzt, als Kandidaten f?r die Nachfolge gehandelt.
Welteke hatte zu Silvester 2001 an einer Feier zur Euro-Bargeldeinf?hrung in Berlin teilgenommen. Die Kosten f?r den Aufenthalt von Welteke, der vom 29. Dezember bis zum 2. Januar im Nobelhotel "Adlon" wohnte, hatte die Dresdner Bank ?bernommen. ?berdies kam die Bank auch noch f?r die Kosten von Weltekes Frau, seines Sohnes und dessen Freundin auf. Insgesamt wurden Kosten in H?he von 7661,20 Euro ?bernommen.

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Die Erkl?rung des Bundesbank-Vorstands

Die Adlon-Aff?re des Bundesbank-Pr?sidenten Ernst Welteke hat einen Konflikt zwischen Bundesbank und Bundesregierung ausgel?st. F?r eine Abberufung sah das Pr?sidium der Zentralbank keinen hinreichenden Grund. dokumentiert die Erkl?rung im Wortlaut.
Frankfurt am Main/Hamburg - Das Leitungsgremium der Deutschen Bundesbank hat am Mittwoch knapp acht Stunden lang ?ber die so genannten Adlon-Aff?re beraten. Auf einen Antrag, Welteke deswegen abzuberufen, verzichtete der Bundesbank-Vorstand jedoch. Seine Erkl?rung im Wortlaut:
"Frankfurt am Main, 7. April 2004 - Der Vorstand der Deutschen Bundesbank hat in seiner heutigen Sitzung die gegen Pr?sident Welteke im Zusammenhang mit einer Veranstaltung zur Einf?hrung des Euro-Bargeldes in Berlin zum Jahreswechsel 2001/2002 erhobenen Vorw?rfe gepr?ft. Pr?sident Welteke wurde zum Sachverhalt angeh?rt.
Der Vorstand best?tigt seine am Montag, den 5. April 2004, getroffene Entscheidung, dass die Kosten f?r die Teilnahme von Herrn Welteke an der Veranstaltung f?r zwei Tage von der Deutschen Bundesbank ?bernommen und dar?ber hinausgehende Kosten privater Natur von Herrn Welteke getragen werden.
Die Bewertung des Sachverhalts auf der Grundlage des ESZB-Statuts, des Bundesbankgesetzes und des Anstellungsvertrages von Herrn Welteke bietet dem Vorstand keinen hinreichenden Grund, einen Antrag auf Abberufung des Bundesbankpr?sidenten aus seinem Amt zu stellen. Der Pr?sident einer nationalen Zentralbank kann nach Art. 14 Absatz 2 des ESZB-Statuts nur entlassen werden, wenn er eine schwere Verfehlung begangen hat.
Der Vorstand der Deutschen Bundesbank hat Herrn Pr?sident Welteke im Hinblick auf die gestern wegen eines Anfangsverdachts auf Vorteilsannahme aufgenommenen staatsanwaltschaftlichen Ermittlungen empfohlen, seine Amtsgesch?fte mit dem heutigen Tage ruhen zu lassen. Pr?sident Welteke hat dem entsprochen. Vizepr?sident Dr. Stark wurde mit der Wahrnehmung der Aufgaben als Mitglied des EZB-Rats betraut."
Kerry bezeichnet US-Besatzung im Irak als "Chaos"
Washington (APA/ag.) - Der demokratische Pr?sidentschaftskandidat John Kerry hat die US-Besatzung im Irak als "Chaos" bezeichnet. Die US-F?hrung gehe "ungeschickt" mit der Lage um, sagte Kerry gegen?ber CNN. Es sei an der Zeit, dass Pr?sident Bush die Probleme eingestehe und eine andere Politik einschlage. Verteidigungsminister Rumsfeld betonte indes, die USA h?tten die Kontrolle im Irak nicht verloren.
Kerry erkl?rte in dem TV-Interview weiter, es sei ein Fehler gewesen, Kriegsgegner vom Wiederaufbau des Irak auszuschlie?en. "Das ist eine f?rchterliche Botschaft an die Staaten", sagte er. Bush m?sse den Wiederaufbau und die Einsetzung einer ?bergangsregierung "einer legitimierten internationalen Einheit" ?berlassen. Rumsfeld betonte angesichts der anhaltenden Gewalt, dass die USA die Kontrolle im Irak nicht verloren h?tten. Die Zahl der Angreifer sei gering, sagte der Verteidigungsminister am Mittwoch in Washington. Zugleich r?umte Rumsfeld jedoch ein, dass die Stadt Najaf nicht mehr der Kontrolle der US-gef?hrten Besatzungstruppen unterliegt. Die Koalition habe sich auf Bitten der Iraker aus der Schiiten-Hochburg zur?ckgezogen, weil zurzeit sowohl zahlreiche Pilger als auch Milizen in der Stadt seien, sagte Rumsfeld. In Najaf waren am Sonntag bei K?mpfen zwischen Schiiten und den Besatzungstruppen 20 Iraker get?tet und etwa 200 verletzt worden. Die Stadt geh?rt zu den heiligsten St?tten der Schiiten. Angesichts der schweren Unruhen wollen die USA ihre Truppen im Irak l?nger im Einsatz lassen als geplant. Rumsfeld deutete an, dass das Milit?r den derzeit laufenden Truppenwechsel so weit hinausz?gern wird, dass "die fronterfahrenen Soldaten die aktuelle Situation durchfechten" k?nnten. Nach Angaben des Pentagons sind derzeit 135.000 US-Soldaten im Irak, ihre Zahl soll nach den Rotationen wieder auf 115.000 absinken.

APA 3:17 8.04.2004
Communists Infiltrated Kerry's Anti-War Group, Historian Says

by Marc Morano
Posted Apr 6, 2004
The 1970s anti-war group that included John Kerry was "heavily infiltrate[d]" by individuals dedicated to the teachings of Chinese communist leader Mao Tse-Tung and to the use of violence, if necessary to achieve their goals, according to a historian friendly to Kerry.
"The RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party) was already beginning to heavily infiltrate the [Vietnam Veterans Against the War in 1971]. They eventually took it over around '73 and basically pushed out all the real veterans and brought in all the RCP functionaries and destroyed the organization," Gerald Nicosia, author of Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans' Movement and a Kerry supporter, told
"Even in 1971, there was an RCP presence ... [RCP is] a crackpot organization, very violent, extremely violent, far left Maoist organization," led by a man named Bob Avakian, Nicosia said.
"[In 1971] they were trying to take over and eventually did take over VVAW," he added.
Nicosia said Kerry was aware of communism's increasing presence in the VVAW operations and it was one of the factors that led to his resignation as one of the leaders of the group in November 1971.
But even though Kerry resigned from the group's leadership in November 1971, several published news accounts cite Kerry as a representative of VVAW into 1972.
The RCP's efforts to control VVAW came to a head in 1978, when the communist factions split off to form their own group called Vietnam Veterans Against the War - Anti-Imperialist (VVAW-AI.) This group still exists today and refers to the U.S. as "AmeriKKKa" on its website.
Other radical factions influenced VVAW, according to Nicosia.
"There were guys that were not Maoist, but guys who were like Scott Camil," Nicosia said, referring to the man who allegedly advocated the possible assassination of U.S. senators still supportive of the U.S. war effort in Vietnam. "They were veterans and still believed in the U.S and still saluted the flag, but believed this government was all wet and wanted to get rid of it," Nicosia said.
"There was Al Hubbard, who was a Black Panther who was also pushing the organization toward violent confrontation," Nicosia added. Hubbard, who had appeared at Kerry's side in April of 1971 on NBC's "Meet the Press," was later shown to have lied about his military record.
Current VVAW member David Cline dismissed the communist presence in VVAW during the time Kerry served as the group's spokesman.
"Some people had philosophies of varying types. There [were] people who were driven by religious views ... there was one guy who was involved in Veterans for [the George] McGovern campaign. So there [were] people coming from different areas," Cline told . "Anytime you are going to get a big organization, you are going to get a lot of different views."
Cline, who joined VVAW in 1970 and today serves as a national coordinator for the group, said the veterans were not concerned with the political views of their fellow members.
"We were coming from having been in war, so we were coming from, in a lot of ways, gut level knowledge and feelings, and high blown political philosophies weren't really the main thing people were concerned about," Cline explained.
VVAW reached out to radical individuals and groups in part to achieve racial harmony, he said.
"VVAW -- it was interracial, but it was more white soldiers in general. A lot of Vietnam Veterans joined the Black Panthers and the American Indian movement and groups of that nature and we were trying to build bonds with our fellow veterans of different nationalities and races," Cline said.
"In [those] days there [were] a lot of radical ideas in the air -- a lot of s*** was going down back then," he added.
Cline said he recalls avowed communists being a part of the VVAW in the early 1970s, but dismissed their importance. "Mainly I thought they were just people just trying to sell their papers," he said.
John Zutz, a current VVAW national coordinator, confirmed the Maoist communist influence in his group.
"That in fact did happen. The RCP was attempting to take over [VVAW]," Zutz told And the group's influence grew even larger in 1973, he said.
"The war was basically over, so the membership in VVAW started dropping, which gave the RCP a chance to try to take it over," Zutz said.
The RCP communists were hard workers and eventually obtained leadership roles in VVAW, he added. "They were veterans and they were active and they became leaders. Because they were active and they were willing to do the work, they started working themselves up the leadership ladder," he said.
Cline believes that much of the recent scrutiny of Kerry's anti-war activism has originated from a "far right segment" of veterans trying to influence the election.
"I think that there is a segment of the veteran's community, a far right segment. They are working to try and whip this up," Cline said.

Copyright ? 2003 HUMAN EVENTS. All Rights Reserved.
B.G. Burkett: Navy Commanders to Cast Doubt on Kerry's War Record

Several Navy officers who supervised Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry when he commanded a swift boat in Vietnam are preparing to publicly question his war record - including the circumstances under which he was awarded three Purple Hearts - a noted Vietnam War historian revealed on Sunday.
Burkett, whose book, "Stolen Valor," is considered to be the definitive history of of falsified Vietnam War claims, told WABC Radio's Steve Malzberg that Kerry's former commanders would allege that the top Democrat's Purple Hearts were awarded for "self-reported injuries that were virtually nonexistent."
"He never got a day of treatment, he never spent a day in a medical facility," Burkett said. "These were all self-reported wounds, which you're going to hear from some swift boat guys in the future as to the nature of those wounds."
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Burkett said he had personally spoken to the Navy commanders who were preparing to go public about Kerry's decorations.
"You're going to get quite a showing [of those speaking out]," Burkett told Malzberg. "I don't know [the number] yet. They're trying to get it to be unanimous of every swift boat guy who ever served."
As to the timetable for the upcoming revelations, Burkett said that Kerry's superior officers "were still discussing that."
Burkett's book was the first to expose Kerry's false claims made in the early 1970s about U.S. war atrocities, as well as Kerry's claim -- later found to be untrue -- that he trashed his war medals.
"You've got some major rallys being planned against John Kerry by Vietnam veterans on the mall, at the convention - this type of thing," he said. "And we're going to make America aware of John Kerry's military record."

Kerry: Terrorist Shiite Al-Sadr 'a Legitimate Voice'

In an interview broadcast Wednesday morning, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry defended terrorist Shiite imam Muqtada al-Sadr as a "legitimate voice" in Iraq, despite that fact that he's led an uprising that has killed nearly 20 American GIs in the last two days.
Speaking of al-Sadr's newspaper, which was shut down by coalition forces last week after it urged violence against U.S. troops, Kerry complained to National Public Radio, "They shut a newspaper that belongs to a legitimate voice in Iraq."
In the next breath, however, the White House hopeful caught himself and quickly changed direction. "Well, let me ... change the term 'legitimate.' It belongs to a voice -- because he has clearly taken on a far more radical tone in recent days and aligned himself with both Hamas and Hezbollah, which is a sort of terrorist alignment."
But Kerry again seemed to voice sympathy for the Shiite terrorist when asked whether he supported al-Sadr's arrest. "Not if it's an isolated act without the other kinds of steps necessary to change the dynamics on the ground in Iraq," Kerry told NPR, in quotes first reported by the New York Sun.
"If all we do is make war against the Iraqi people and continue an American occupation, fundamentally, without a clarity as to who and how sovereignty is being turned over, we have a very serious problem for the long run here," Kerry added. "And I think this administration is just walking dead center down into that trap."
On March 28, the U.S.-led coalition authorities closed al-Sadr's newspaper, al-Hawza, for 60 days, the Sun reported. L. Paul Bremer, the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq, charged that the newspaper had published false stories blaming the coalition forces for local acts of terrorism.



Oman's Oil Yield Long in Decline, Shell Data Show

The Royal Dutch/Shell Group's oil production in Oman has been declining for years, belying the company's optimistic reports and raising doubts about a vital question in the Middle East: whether new technology can extend the life of huge but mature oil fields.
Internal company documents and technical papers show that the Yibal field, Oman's largest, began to decline rapidly in 1997. Yet Sir Philip Watts, Shell's former chairman, said in an upbeat public report in 2000 that "major advances in drilling" were enabling the company "to extract more from such mature fields." The internal Shell documents suggest that the figure for proven oil reserves in Oman was mistakenly increased in 2000, resulting in a 40 percent overstatement.
The company's falling production and reduced reserves in Oman are part of a broader problem facing Shell, the British-Dutch oil giant that earlier this year lowered its estimate of worldwide reserves, a crucial financial indicator, by 20 percent, or 3.9 billion barrels.
Documents show that senior executives were told the calculations of reserves were too high in 2002, at least two years before the company downgraded its estimate this January.
While Oman represents a small part of Shell's reserves, oil industry experts say the company's experience there highlights broader questions about the future role of Western oil companies and their technology in the Persian Gulf, which has most of the world's oil reserves.
In the case of the Yibal field, for example, Shell and Omani oil engineers and auditors have expressed concerns that a technique Sir Philip said would recover more oil not only did not do so, but also increased the amount of water in the extracted oil to as much as 90 percent of the total volume, increasing production costs.
"In Oman, Shell seems to have fumbled on technology," said Ali Morteza Samsam Bakhtiari, a senior official with the National Iranian Oil Company.
Perhaps more ominously for the world's oil outlook, he added that the failure of Shell's horizontal drilling technology in Oman suggested that even advanced extraction techniques "won't bring back the good old days."
In the last 10 years, horizontal drilling has become one of the most important innovations in the oil production business and is widely used around the world. If properly managed, it can extract more oil from some fields, and can pump it out sooner and more efficiently than traditional vertical drilling.
Shell helped pioneer the technique, and it did accelerate production in Yibal, documents show. But a Shell document last fall did oes not project the technique to increase the amount of oil that will ultimately be recovered from the field, and it resulted in additional water being mixed in with the oil, increasing production costs. That suggests that although it may work in some places, horizontal drilling may not always be the answer to declining production rates in the mature fields of the Middle East.
Sir Philip made his optimistic assessment of the Oman field in May 2000, when he was the company's head of exploration and development. He was named chairman a year later. The board dismissed him and Walter van de Vijver, chief executive of the exploration and production business in early March, about two months after Shell reduced its reserves estimate.
Regulators in Europe and Washington, as well prosecutors at the United States Justice Department are investigating whether Shell's disclosures about its reserves complied with securities laws. The company says it is cooperating with the investigations and expects to announce the results of an internal review in the next few weeks.
"Shell has been open about the production shortfall in Oman, most recently in the presentation to analysts on Feb. 5," Simon Buerk, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail message responding to questions. Mr. Buerk said that production targets were met in 2003. Pending investigations limited the company's ability to comment on Sir Philip's statements, he said.
Shell has been involved in Oman since the 1930's, when oil was first discovered there. It owns 34 percent of Petroleum Development Oman, the dominant oil and gas exploration company. The Omani government owns 60 percent of the joint venture, which accounts for 90 percent of the sultanate's oil production and virtually all of its natural gas production. The rest is owned by other European companies.
Oman's oil problems are relatively recent. Annual production rose from 1980 to 1997, when the 35-year-old Yibal field began to decline.
Two engineering papers written last year by Petroleum Development Oman officials show that production in Yibal has fallen at an annual rate of about 12 percent for six years; that is more than twice the normal rate of 5 percent in the region. Moreover, Shell overstated its proven oil reserves in Oman, a December 2003 Shell report found, primarily because the company had failed to trim the figures back "in light of recent downturns in oil production rates."
This sober internal analysis differs from optimistic public statements by Shell that continued even after news of production difficulties began to circulate outside the company. When an analyst asked in 2002 about problems in Oman, for example, Sir Philip likened them to "a bit of hiccup."
Joseph I. Goldstein, Sir Philip's lawyer in Washington, did not return a phone call.
Nasser bin Khamis al-Jashmi, an under secretary at Oman's Ministry of Oil and Gas and a member of the board of Petroleum Development Oman, declined to speak publicly about the matter this week. "I will not be able to answer your questions as we are still discussing the whole issue with our partners," he said.
But some insight into Oman's views are contained in remarks made a few years ago by its minister of oil and gas and another director of Petroleum Development Oman. The remarks were published in the venture's newsletter and posted on Shell's Web site. "We have been too preoccupied with trying to get that extra barrel" now, said the minister, Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhy, "rather than formulating a plan for the long term."
Countries like Oman seek to husband their oil and gas to extend their income over the long run, but Shell, aiming to increase value for its shareholders, has a shorter time horizon: its license in Oman expires in 2012, so it has emphasized pumping more oil sooner.
A Dec. 8, 2003, report to Shell's top managers about the impending restatement of reserves criticized the operation in Oman. The cause of the problems, the report said, was "the extreme focus on short-term development opportunities (`keep the rigs busy to keep the oil rate up') to the detriment of defining long-term projects."
Oil experts say the situation in which Shell and Oman, which form one of the few government-company alliances in the region, find themselves may portend problems for the West's quest for energy security. Major energy companies that had run oil operations in the Persian Gulf before they were nationalized decades ago are looking to return to the region and obtain concessions like the one Shell has in Oman.
"There is considerable ambivalence about foreign oil companies in the Persian Gulf," said Valerie Marcel, an expert on oil and the Middle East at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. "Persian Gulf producers would like to see their reservoirs handled with velvet gloves -- and that means a longer and flatter production curve."
Mr. Buerk of Shell said that his company was supporting efforts of the joint venture to "maximize long-term oil production," and that Shell and the Omani government had "a close and strong relationship spanning more than six decades."
But the arrangement can also be "extremely sensitive," according to the internal Shell report of last December, which recommended that the lowered amount of Oman's proven reserves be kept confidential. (Shell officials have said that the revision in Oman accounts for no more than 10 percent of the worldwide restatement, or 390 million barrels.)
The sensitive matter, according to the report, involves negotiations over bonuses that the company can win for increasing reserves. The basis for the bonus is a less rigorous standard -- called expectation reserves -- than the proven-reserves yardstick that the company is required by American rules to list in periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The report said "the expectation reserves may be overstated."
The declines in the Yibal field are spelled out by officials of the joint venture in two papers that were published last year by the Society of Petroleum Engineers. The papers have different numbers: both say production peaked in 1997, but one said it declined to its current rate of 88,057 barrels a day by 2000 from a peak of 251,592, while the other said it fell to 95,000 barrels from 225,000. A spokeswoman for the society said she could not explain the difference.
Both papers say that about 90 percent of the liquid coming out of the ground is water and 10 percent is oil. The high volume of water, one paper said, comes in part from the water that Shell injects into the ground as part of its horizontal drilling technique, which it introduced to Oman in the early 1990's. The relatively high volume of water being pumped up adds considerably to the costs of extracting the oil.
While the field was declining, Sir Philip described it as a marvel of "advances in well technology" that had, in four years, produced additional production and "substantial additional reserves," according to an account of remarks he made on March 9, 1999, that is posted on Shell's Web site.
The next year, Shell officials advised the joint venture "to make an upward correction to proved reserves" based on steady production rates for all of Oman over the next eight years, according to Shell's senior management report dated last December.
The reserve estimate was increased even as overall production began to decline. Nonetheless, Sir Philip, in his remarks on May 29, 2000, continued to talk positively about the effect of horizontal drilling and other technologies on Yibal, saying it was "still the country's most important producer three decades after coming on-stream."
Last December's Shell report said, "With hindsight, it might have been more appropriate to correct the expectation estimate down rather than the proved estimate upwards." The report said that it was understood at the time when the reserve estimate was increased that a more detailed assessment would follow.
But it was not until 2003, four years after the previous audit, that Shell did an audit of proven reserves of its operations in Oman. The audit found that "proved total reserves are currently overstated by some 40 percent."
Exxon Mobil, a competitor of Shell, says that it audits its proven reserves annually.
The lack of a timely assessment of Oman by Shell's auditors, the internal December report explained, was "due to the attention required by serious production decline problems."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

From the Institute of Advanced Hindsight...
Winston Churchill said famously, "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." That was 1945. Today, lies are capable of circling the globe at the speed of light -- especially when a Leftmedia outlet like CBS's "60 Minutes" hosts "The Dick Clarke Show."

Richard Clarke, a leftover from the Clinton regime, seems to have confused George W. Bush for William J. Clinton. Errantly, Clarke claims President Bush ignored the al-Qa'ida threat and implies culpability for the attack on our countrymen 11 September 2001, eight months after Mr. Bush took office. That attack, you'll recall, was orchestrated by Osama bin Laden, the Islamist terrorist whom Bill Clinton ignored for eight years.

Why is Clarke stepping forward now? Politics and publicity.

George Bush's military record as Commander-in-Chief is far more impressive than anything John Kerry has been able to conjure up. Thus, Kerry and company are determined to undermine President Bush's credibility as CiC by accusing him of dereliction of duty with regard to 9/11 and the war against Jihadi terrorists. To that end, a few weeks back, Kerry's operatives rallied a small group of family members of 9/11 victims against the Bush administration in a shameless exploitation of 3,000 dead Americans. And now they have enlisted Clarke to further erode the perception of the President's CiC performance.

As for Clarke's accusation that President Bush "ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11," it doesn't hold up to even the most fundamental scrutiny.

Contrary to Clarke's "recollection," long before 9/11 President Bush told his National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice that he was "tired of swatting flies," as had been the policy of the Clinton Administration. Instead, the U.S. would need to take the fight to al-Qa'ida. After all, under Clinton's watch, al-Qa'ida operatives had already bombed the World Trade Center, plotted to bomb simultaneously a dozen U.S. trans-Pacific flights, successfully bombed U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, attempted to bomb Los Angeles International Airport, and bombed the USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen. Did we mention the bombing of Khobar Towers?

In effect, Osama bin Laden and his al-Qa'ida terrorist network had operated with impunity since 1993.

To support President Bush's directive, spending for covert action against al-Qa'ida was increased 400%, while the administration's National Security Council deputies began to develop an operations plan to destroy al-Qa'ida. During that time, the Counterterrorism Security Group, the government's interagency counterterrorism crisis-management forum chaired by Dick Clarke, met on a near-daily basis prior to 9/11 out of concern for a potential al-Qa'ida attack. The new plan, a complete departure from the previous administration's policy of appeasement, was on the President's desk by 4 September 2001. Tragically, this wasn't soon enough to prevent the actions of al-Qa'ida one week later -- actions that were planned two years before President Bush took office.

Clarke, testifying before the commission investigating intelligence failures prior to 9/11, should have spent less time peddling books and more time preparing his story. Indeed, when asked by former Sen. Slade Gorton if there was "the remotest chance" the events of 9/11 could have been avoided if the Bush administration had adopted ALL of Clarke's recommendations for dealing with al-Qa'ida, Clarke answered, "No."

Additionally, Clarke's big adventure into the realm of Clinton-sized prevarication was not solely a politically-motivated assault on the President's integrity, but timed to give maximum exposure by the Leftmedia to his new book, which is little more than a Leftist diatribe against the Bush doctrine of preemption. To that end, it is worth noting that the parent company of CBS (Clarke's principal promoter) is Viacom -- which also happens to be the parent company of Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Clarke's dubious new book, "Against All Enemies." (Recall that in January, CBS and Viacom orchestrated the same "60 Minutes" book promotion for another Bush-bashing tome -- that of fired former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill.)

Quote of the week...

"You can't walk away from this challenge. You can't say it isn't going to affect me. You can't say let's not take any actions that a terrorist might not like, like say, participating in the Coalition in Iraq or doing other things ... because you are afraid of what the terrorist reaction might be. This is the time to fight terrorism, not to walk away or be terrified by terrorism." --Secretary of State Colin Powell

On cross-examination...

"For us, today, the hearings and frantic finger-pointing about September 11 are as silly and pointless as they are inevitable. The emergence of Islamist terrorism has been a good half century in the making -- from the theoretical writings by Egyptian intellectuals at the middle of the last century to September 11 and beyond. The clash between our civilization and that force was probably inevitable. If the events of September 11 had failed for any reason, there would have been another day and another disaster." --Tony Blankley

Open query...

"...Wednesday, Clarke ... testified before the 9/11 commission. Was his testimony helpful to those seriously attempting to craft an effective policy to defeat terrorism? Or was he selling books and giving a job interview? You ... make the call." --Clifford D. May

The BIG lie...

"In the march to war, the president exaggerated the threat. It was not nuanced. It was pure, unadulterated fear-mongering, based on a devious strategy to convince the American people that Saddam's ability to provide nuclear weapons to Al-Qa'ida justified immediate war. Why would the administration go to such lengths to go to war? Was it trying to change the subject from its failed economic policy, the corporate scandals, and its failed effort to capture Osama bin Laden? The only imminent threat was the November congressional election. The politics of the election trumped the stubborn facts. What happened was not merely a failure of intelligence, but the result of manipulation and distortion of intelligence and the selective use of unreliable intelligence to justify a decision to go to war. The administration had made up its mind and would not let stubborn facts stand in the way." --Teddy Kennedy (D-Lirious)

On the Warfront with Jihadistan...

While John Kerry and his band of malcontents continued to undermine U.S. resolve in the war against Jihadistan ("aiding and abetting the enemy," it's called), four American civilians and seven American military personnel were murdered by al-Qa'ida wannabes in the Sunni Triangle around Baghdad. "The insurgents in Fallujah are testing us," says USMC Captain Chris Logan. "They're testing our resolve. But it's not like we're going to leave."

Despite these attacks, there was additional evidence that the U.S. presence in Iraq is having the desired effect on Iran and Syria. Syria has asked U.S. ally Australia for help in repairing its relations with the U.S. Australia, you'll recall, helped "negotiate the peace" between the U.S. and Libya earlier this year. Seems that Syria's Baathists are running scared....

From the Department of military readiness...

All those Lefties suggesting the U.S. has a "hollow military" will be sad to learn this week that the five Army divisions that have units deployed in the Middle East for the past 12 months have met virtually every re-enlistment goal. Retention targets for enlisted soldiers -- the 416,000 privates, corporals and sergeants of the Army's 490,000 active force, are standing firm. The all-volunteer force remains strong despite the stress of frequent deployments and hazardous duty. "This tends to rebut armchair critics who said the sky is falling and the vultures are circling and the Army is gong to lose all its troops," said Lt. Col. Franklin Childress. "This is not true. The soldiers get it." Hooah!

Don't even think about ending your week without arming yourself with The Federalist's comprehensive, conservative digest of the week's most important news, policy and opinion.

>> WHO?

Who Lost Osama?
From the April 12 / April 19, 2004 issue: Richard Clarke is far tougher on the Clinton failures than advertised.
by Daniel C. Twining
04/12/2004, Volume 009, Issue 30

Against All Enemies
Inside America's War on Terror
by Richard Clarke
Free Press, 304 pp., $27
"THIS IS THE STORY, from my perspective, of how al Qaeda developed and attacked the United States on September 11," Richard Clarke begins Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, his new book that has been widely ballyhooed as the bomb that will destroy President Bush's reelection campaign.
In fact, only in his preface and the book's final sixty-five pages does Clarke's partisanship boil over into the invective, vitriol, and spite that have transformed this career national-security hawk into the anti-Bush Democrats' American Idol. The rest of the book, Clarke's unwitting indictment of the Clinton administration's terrorism policy, ought to make the whole of the nation vote for four more years of Bush.
After a warm-up chapter that offers a readable account of the first twenty-four hours of the White House's response to the attacks, a nonpartisan chapter on how America transformed its strategic posture in the Middle East during the 1980s, and a sensible chapter on the first Gulf War, the subsequent one hundred and fifty pages of Against All Enemies chronicle the formation and rise of al Qaeda--and the American government's failure to prevent it from metastasizing into the existential threat it had become by the time Clinton left office.
Clarke explains al Qaeda's rise, from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing through subsequent foiled and successful terrorist attacks in Mogadishu in 1993, the Philippines in 1995, Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996, Africa in 1998, and Yemen in 2000, as well as the foiled Millennium Plot--all of which is required reading for those who want to understand what the government knew about al Qaeda on President Clinton's watch (a lot) and what it did about it (considerably less than it should have).
Although critical of the failure to retaliate against Iran for the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, Clarke credits President Reagan with transforming the United States' strategic posture in the Middle East. When Reagan took office, the Central Command, now arguably our most important command, was a backwater; the United States had no bases in the Persian Gulf; and events in Iran had left the United States vulnerable to the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and another wave of devastating oil shocks.
Clarke admiringly recalls how Reagan moved the United States closer to Israel, instituting joint exercises and extensive military-to-military cooperation. Reagan also built new military relationships with Egypt, Oman, and Bahrain, and established the headquarters of the Navy's Fifth Fleet in Bahrain to patrol the Persian Gulf. According to Clarke, Reagan "checkmated the Iranians by strengthening Saddam Hussein." Reagan's support of the Afghan opposition brought about the Soviet Union's withdrawal from Afghanistan, a significant strategic defeat. Reagan's policies not only transformed America's position in the wider Middle East but enabled the military response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
CLARKE'S REVIEW of the diplomacy preceding the first Gulf War is also interesting. Traveling with Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney to Riyadh, Clarke was at the pivotal meeting in which the king of Saudi Arabia agreed to the stationing of American forces in his country, even as his intelligence chief, Prince Turki, was secretly asking Osama bin Laden to assemble Afghan volunteers to defend the kingdom from Saddam's army. Clarke recalls the breathless pace at which American officials flew from one capital to another around the Gulf. He dissects the famous judgment to stop General Barry McCaffrey's forces from finishing off Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard as they retreated from Kuwait, and the flawed American decision "to stand by and let the Republican Guard mass murder the Shia and Kurds."
The failure of Bush's father to end Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq segued into the first test of the Clinton administration's determination to act against terrorism. Clarke helped plan the initial use of force in the Clinton administration, to retaliate against Iraq for its plot to assassinate George H.W. Bush in Kuwait. The strike was an early indicator of the schizophrenia that characterized Clinton's national security policy: a laudable willingness to use military force strangely matched with a fierce determination that it cause the least possible pain to our enemies. In Clarke's rendition, Secretary of State Warren Christopher "argued strongly on legal grounds that the list [of targets] be limited to one facility, the Iraqi intelligence headquarters. He also wanted it hit on Saturday night, to minimize casualties. Christopher won."
In addition to ending, purportedly, Iraqi terrorism against the United States by bombing Iraq's empty intelligence headquarters, Clarke also claims credit for ending Iranian terrorism against the United States after the Khobar Towers attack. Today's proponents of rapprochement with Tehran should pay close attention. Clarke has no doubt the Iranian government sponsored the Khobar bombing, which killed nineteen Americans: "The larger attack in Saudi Arabia at Khobar was conducted by Saudi Hezbollah under the close supervision of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Qods Force," he writes. At the time, the CIA judged that "further Iranian-sponsored terrorism against the United States was likely."
This should have been grounds for war, and we learn in Against All Enemies the White House considered it, examining options including a full-scale invasion, attacking Iranian-sponsored terrorist camps in Lebanon, persuading our allies to impose a multilateral economic boycott, and conducting an unspecified "intelligence operation."
Inevitably, the Clinton administration chose the lesser option of a covert operation against Iran, underscoring another theme of the Clinton years: hawkish instincts ("Clinton told us that if it came to using force against Iran, 'I don't want any piss-ant half measures'") that invariably devolved into a policy that did not accomplish the objective but gave the illusion of having acted decisively.
Clarke unwittingly highlights the Clinton administration's lack of credibility by linking Saudi Arabia's failure to cooperate on the Khobar Towers investigation to Saudi skepticism about Clinton's backbone: "Some in the Saudi royal family . . . reportedly welcomed the possibility of a U.S. war with Iran, if America could remove the Tehran regime. [Saudi Ambassador Prince] Bandar . . . suggested that all that was stopping the Saudis from implicating Iran was the fear that American retaliation would be halfhearted. If the U.S. could promise a full-scale fight to the finish, then the kingdom would probably tell all that it knew about the Iranian role in the Khobar attack."
Of course, Clinton did not take such measures, and Saudi Arabia never told us what it knew about the Khobar bombing. Clarke contradicts his own claim that the covert operation against Iran ended Iranian terrorism by acknowledging that "the Iranian security services continued to support escalating terrorism against Israel and allowed al Qaeda safe passage and other support"--including, I would add, after September 11, 2001.
BY FAR THE MOST FASCINATING PART of Against All Enemies, and the bulk of the book, chronicles the rise of al Qaeda as seen by the Clinton White House. As with Iraq and Iran, the best of intentions and initially sound instincts achieved brief tactical goals without defining a strategic course for victory. In sketching an image of an engaged president who, in his own words, believed that the United States was at war with al Qaeda, but who failed to weaken the organization, Clarke paints a portrait of Clinton in some ways more devastating than the caricature created by his political opponents.
The critique comes down to this fact: President Clinton, who commanded the world's most powerful military and presided over nearly a decade of peace between the world's great powers, knew al Qaeda was operating in fifty countries, running agents and sleeper cells inside the United States, seeking weapons of mass destruction, churning out terrorists from its Afghan training camps, attacking targets around the world, and planning major terrorist offensives against the United States.
Full awareness of al Qaeda was not some slow awakening that came only late in the Clinton presidency. Clarke explains that "because of the many known terrorism events of 1993, the Clinton team, from the president down, was seized with the issue by 1994." Presidential Decision Directive 39, the "United States Policy on Counterterrorism" issued in 1994, called for both offensive and defensive actions to "reduce terrorist capabilities" and minimize the nation's vulnerabilities. It stated that U.S. policy would have "no greater priority than preventing the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction" by terrorists.
By 1995, the Clinton administration had witnessed the World Trade Center bombing, for which it had "a lot of evidence" pointing to bin Laden's organization. It had discovered Ramzi Yousef's plots to assassinate President Clinton and Pope John Paul II. It had learned of Yousef's plot to blow up eleven American airliners over the Pacific. It had witnessed a terrorist assassination attempt against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. And it had seen the hand of al Qaeda at work in Bosnia, which Clarke calls "a guidebook to the bin Laden network, though we didn't recognize it as such at the time." According to Clarke, "There were signs in 1995 of [bin Laden's] money and support in Bosnia, Chechnya, the Philippines, Egypt, Morocco, and in Europe. Rumors connected him to attacks in New York, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen."
SO, ACCORDING TO CLARKE, "Clinton talked incessantly about what it would be like if terrorists used a weapon of mass destruction to attack a United States city." Between late 1995 and April 1996, Clinton gave a series of speeches about the terrorist threat. Equating the threat to that we faced in World War II and the Cold War, the president said, "Terrorism is the enemy of our generation, and we must prevail." In 1996, the work of a newly created bin Laden station at the CIA revealed a "widespread and active" al Qaeda organization with bin Laden as its "mastermind." In 1996, Clarke's Counterterrorism Security Group was already developing plans for a covert operation to snatch bin Laden from Afghanistan.
This is where things stood at the end of Bill Clinton's first term as president. Clarke succeeds in demonstrating that, by 1996, the administration was deeply aware of the threat al Qaeda posed, and that Clinton himself was "seized with" the issue. The administration was putting in place a domestic program to respond rapidly in the event of a terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction. The administration had conducted covert operations against suspected terrorists and was discussing an operation to snatch Osama bin Laden himself. In short, Clarke successfully makes the case that the administration was fully engaged and ready to take the offensive against al Qaeda--by the end of Clinton's first term.
So what happened? It is true that the bureaucracy failed Clinton in some ways, but the more complete answer is that the president was unable to impose his will on a reluctant government, including his senior cabinet officials responsible for national security affairs. Unlike their successors in the Bush administration, they were not willing to risk other American interests, and public and world opinion, for the sake of defeating al Qaeda--and unlike President Bush, President Clinton was unwilling to force the issue. In November 2001, after he left office, Clinton said, "I tried to take bin Laden out . . . the last four years I was in office." He must be judged by the fact that he failed.
CLARKE BLAMES in particular the CIA's professed doubts about their authorization to use lethal force against the terrorists. In Clarke's words, "I still to this day do not understand why it was impossible for the United States to find a competent group of Afghans, Americans, third-country nationals, or some combination who could locate bin Laden in Afghanistan and kill him. . . . The president's intent was very clear: kill bin Laden. I believe that those in the CIA who claim the authorizations were insufficient or unclear are throwing up that claim as an excuse to cover the fact that they were pathetically unable to accomplish the mission."
Yet the president and his national security cabinet made accomplishing the mission difficult. As Clarke explains, "In three meetings during 1998 and 1999, the [Counterterrorism Security Group] requested emergency meetings of the principals to recommend to the president a cruise missile strike on the facility in which bin Laden was believed to be at the time." The missiles were never fired. CIA Director George Tenet later confirmed that bin Laden was present at the suspected site on one of those occasions; yet each time fear of collateral damage or considerations of subsidiary American interests prevented the administration from pulling the trigger.
Again and again, Clarke proposed attacking bin Laden's training camps, whether or not the terrorist mastermind was confirmed to be there, telling his colleagues, "We have to stop this conveyor belt, this production line. Blow them up every once in a while and recruits won't want to go there." But the principals objected--for reasons as diverse as wasting million-dollar missiles, undermining U.S. credibility with Pakistan, burdening a stretched military, and reinforcing a perception abroad of the United States as a "Mad Bomber." The administration ruled out an assault on bin Laden's farm in Afghanistan, for fear the CIA's Afghan assets could be killed in the attempt.
CLARKE WANTS TO GIVE the Clinton administration credit for trying. It did recognize the threat, he insists; it did engage in serious strategic planning to counter it; the threat did consume the president and his senior staff. "Listen," Clarke quotes Clinton as telling his national security staff after the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa, "retaliating for these attacks is all well and good, but we gotta get rid of these guys once and for all. You understand what I'm telling you?"
And yet, somehow, little came of all this. The Clinton administration failed to coerce the weak and failing states of Sudan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to capture bin Laden. Without elaborating, Clarke calls reports that Sudan was prepared to hand bin Laden over to the United States for the right price "a fable" invented by "Americans friendly to the Sudan regime." He also tells us that it was impracticable to seize bin Laden in Sudan, where the administration knew his whereabouts. National Security Advisor Tony Lake ruled out a proposed Special Forces operation against al Qaeda facilities in Sudan on the grounds that, in Lake's words, "This is going to war with Sudan." According to Clarke, the CIA "had no capability to stage significant operations against al Qaeda in Sudan." On Clarke's watch as counterterrorism czar, the United States apparently never acquired that capability.
Later, Clarke tells us that the State Department was "hard at work trying to put pressure on the Taliban" to close terrorist camps and hand over bin Laden. "Unfortunately, we had little leverage with the Taliban." The mullahs wouldn't cooperate, and the Clinton administration threatened them with nothing more than negotiations. On Pakistan, Clarke observes, "I believed that if Pakistan's [Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate] wanted to capture bin Laden or tell us where he was, they could have done so with little effort." Did the United States, under Clinton's leadership, have so little leverage over other nations on an issue it had identified as a top national priority? President Bush demonstrated otherwise--in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.
Clinton was committed to defeating terrorism, Clarke insists. But his administration could not or would not deliver. "Whether it was catching war criminals in Yugoslavia or terrorists in Africa and the Middle East, it was the same story," Clarke adds. "The White House wanted action. The senior military did not and made it almost impossible for the president to overcome their objections." An attempt to catch September 11-mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Qatar in 1997 failed because the administration felt obliged to inform officials in Doha, one of whom promptly warned Mohammed to flee. An attack on an al Qaeda meeting at which bin Laden was present failed when, as Clarke himself had predicted, Navy destroyers positioning to fire their cruise missiles were detected by Pakistan, which may have warned bin Laden to clear the area before the strike.
CLARKE BLAMES most of this on the failure of the CIA, FBI, and the Pentagon to cooperate with the Clinton administration. Clinton "identified terrorism as the major post-Cold War threat," but "could not get the CIA, Pentagon, and FBI to act sufficiently to deal with this threat."
Is he right? During his long years as the nation's counterterrorism czar, working for both Clinton and Bush, Clarke never put in place a workable system to screen airline passenger manifests--yet was shocked to learn, on September 11, that known terrorists had freely boarded American airlines. After al Qaeda attacked the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, killing seventeen American sailors, Clarke proposed the United States bomb every al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. "There was no support for bombing [within Clinton's national security cabinet]. . . . The principals had decided to do nothing, to wait for proof of who committed the attack." Clarke quotes his colleague, Mike Sheehan, as asking, "What's it gonna take, Dick? Who the sh--t do they think attacked the Cole, f--in' Martians? The Pentagon brass won't even let the Air Force carpet-bomb the place. Does al Qaeda have to attack the Pentagon to get their attention?"
THE ANSWER would appear to be yes. Clarke reports actually seeing Osama bin Laden in Afghan training camps on three occasions in real time as he watched live video from a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle hovering over the sites. Each time, U.S. military assets were not in a position to fire on bin Laden, and the Predator was not armed with missiles to conduct an offensive strike, as it would be during the Bush administration.
Clarke later criticizes the Bush administration for failing to push aggressively for deployment of Predator drones armed with Hellfire missiles before September 11. Yet he also quotes a report that the head of the CIA's directorate of operations opposed use of the armed Predator against bin Laden on the grounds that it would "endanger the lives of CIA operatives around the world." And in a White House meeting one week before September 11, Clarke cites a source quoting CIA director Tenet as saying, "It would be a terrible mistake for the [Deputy of Central Intelligence] to fire a weapon like this."
So who is at fault? In 1998, al Qaeda issued a statement declaring war on the United States Clarke writes, "It did not come as a shock to us. We had considered ourselves at war with al Qaeda even before we knew its name or its reach."
Yet despite the continuing string of attacks, and intelligence warning of more to come, Clarke doesn't blame Clinton. Says Clarke,
Because of the intensity of the political opposition that Clinton engendered, he had been heavily criticized for bombing al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, for engaging in 'Wag the Dog' tactics. . . . For similar reasons, he could not fire the recalcitrant FBI director who had failed to fix the bureau or uncover terrorists in the United States. He had given the CIA unprecedented authority to go after Osama bin Laden personally and al Qaeda, but had not taken steps when they did little or nothing. Because Clinton was criticized as a Vietnam War opponent without a military record, he was limited in his ability to direct the military to engage in anti-terrorist commando operations they did not want to conduct. . . . In the absence of a bigger provocation from al Qaeda to silence his critics, Clinton thought he could do no more.
Clarke lost his access to the president when the Bush administration came to power. His principal complaint is that the Bush team's focus on Iraq after September 11 diverted America from the war against al Qaeda. Yet it was Clarke who, by his own admission, authored the founding document of Clinton counterterrorism policy in 1994 underlining the threat of terrorists' acquiring weapons of mass destruction and stating that the United States had "no greater priority" than preventing it--an argument the Bush administration employed in its decision to go to war against Iraq nearly a decade later, at a time when terrorists had demonstrated their ability to attack the United States and were actively seeking weapons of mass destruction, which Iraq had a demonstrated record of producing and using.
GIVEN WHAT EVERY SERIOUS intelligence service in the West believed it knew about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction capabilities, the Bush administration's decision to go to war was a prudent response to what, by Clarke's own standard, constituted a credible threat to the United States in an age of catastrophic terrorism.
Clarke's argument that the Bush administration did not accord the terrorist threat sufficient priority before September 11 is not wholly fair. The Clinton administration had eight years to deal with the threat; the Bush administration eight months. It is by this gap that the Bush administration's early counterterrorism policy must be judged.
The challenges facing any new administration--appointing and confirming senior staff, conducting broad-ranging policy reviews, and generally getting its sea legs--as well as the Bush administration's determination to set a course in foreign policy radically different from that of its predecessor, may have hindered a clear assessment of the threat al Qaeda posed to the United States. During their first months in office, officials who had been out of office for eight years may not have had the same sense of urgency about terrorism as Clarke, who had spent every day of those same eight years watching the terrorist threat spread. Unquestionably, the Bush administration, once it fully grasped the threat, acted decisively to end it. The Clinton administration did not.
Clarke himself points out that a memo he prepared for the incoming Bush administration listed key antiterrorist initiatives that the Clinton administration had not agreed to take. "The [Clinton] principals had asked me to update the pol-mil plan for the transition, flagging the issues where there was not a consensus, where decisions had not been agreed." By Clarke's own admission, the Clinton administration had not done these things. Had they, the Bush administration may have found themselves confronting a significantly reduced terrorist threat. As it happens, Republican officials were putting in place these very policies when the terrorists struck on September 11.
In the final chapter of Against All Enemies, Clarke suggests that Clinton, were he still in office after September 11, would have tried to "understand" the phenomenon of terrorism; tried to build a "world consensus" to address its root causes; tried "one more time" to forge an Israeli-Palestinian settlement; gone to Saudi Arabia to "address the Muslim people" in "a moving appeal for religious tolerance"; promoted peace between India and Pakistan; and worked to stabilize Pakistan. Hearing Clarke's wish list for American policy at a time when hardened terrorists are killing innocents from Madrid to Bali makes one glad that Clarke has given up his day job.
CLARKE'S DECISION to write what he means to be an indictment of the Bush administration's counterterrorism policy, at a time when the president he served is still in office--and, particularly, to record the president's conversations with him on sensitive matters of national security--is unprecedented. By his act, Clarke has made it difficult, if not impossible, for future presidents to retain senior national security staff members from previous administrations. In Against All Enemies, Clarke laments that political appointees often move aside career national security officials who possess valuable institutional knowledge on national security matters. Clarke's decision to release his memoirs in an election year, and to do so in a way that violates confidentiality and transparently benefits the political opponent of the last president he served, makes it more likely that future administrations will not retain people like Dick Clarke.
The tragedy of recent American politics is not that President Bush acted to end the threat of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction from rogue states like Iraq, at the cost of angering allies and subordinating secondary American interests. The tragedy is that President Clinton, knowing al Qaeda was at war with us and understanding both its global reach and its plans to kill Americans, did not act in a similarly bold manner.
Against All Enemies is too serious to be called a farce, for it highlights the tragedy of American foreign policy in this age of terrorism. Clarke's deep anger with the current administration notwithstanding, he has performed a service by reminding America of how the Clinton administration failed to protect us from the terrorist threat.

Daniel C. Twining, a former adviser to Senator John McCain, is director of foreign policy, United States, at the German Marshall Fund. The views expressed here are his own.

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


Crunch Time in Baghdad
Bush must prove he's determined to win.

Tuesday, April 6, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

The next few days in Iraq may be the most critical since President Bush ordered the invasion a year ago. Millions of Iraqis, and millions of Americans, are waiting to see if the U.S. is still fighting in Iraq to win.

Marines were digging in around Fallujah yesterday, in anticipation of a military response to last week's mutilation of four U.S. civilians in that part of the Sunni Triangle. Meanwhile, the coalition announced that an Iraqi judge had issued a murder arrest warrant for the Shiite Muslim cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, who ordered the riots on Sunday that resulted in the deaths of eight Americans and a Salvadoran. If Mr. Bush fails to show that there is a price to pay for killing Americans, he might as well bring everyone home today.

Americans will support their President in war--far more than liberal elites appreciate. But they won't support a President who isn't fighting with enough force and the right strategy to prevail. Unlike Mr. Bush's determination to topple Saddam Hussein, the transition back to Iraqi rule has been marked in recent months by drift and indecision. Especially in the runup to the transfer of power on June 30, the worst Iraqis are rushing in to exploit this uncertainty.

What's needed now is a reassertion of U.S. resolve, notably on security but also on the transition to Iraqi sovereignty, and even if it means no drawdown of American forces any time soon. The coalition had hoped to turn over more of this task to Iraqis, and this remains both desirable and inevitable. But they clearly aren't yet up to that task in the face of well-armed insurgents or private militias.
Partly this is America's fault for not arming Iraqis on our side with enough firepower soon enough. The State Department (rather than the Pentagon) is responsible for disbursing the small arms that are now available, while Congress's desire to micromanage Defense procurement has delayed contracts from being let for more and better equipment. If Senate soundbite kibbitzers Richard Lugar and Joe Biden want to be constructive, this is a problem they could work on. In the meantime, U.S. forces will have to re-enter such cities and towns as Fallujah and work with Iraqis friendly to the coalition to restore order and kill or arrest those who target Americans.

This has to include Mr. Sadr. The young cleric has been stirring trouble for months, but with Sunday's riots he has crossed a line that makes him an urgent threat to the coalition and any new Iraqi government. Yesterday's judicial warrant implicates him in the mob slaying of another Shiite leader, the moderate Abdel-Majid al-Khoei, shortly after he had returned to Najaf from exile in London in April 2003.

Unlike Grand Ayatollah Sistani, Mr. Sadr never mentions the word "democracy" in his fatwas and talks openly of creating an Iranian-style Islamic Republic in Iraq. Mr. Sadr has visited Tehran since the fall of Saddam, and his Mahdi militia is almost certainly financed and trained by Iranians. Revolutionary Guards may be instigating some of the current unrest. As recently as last Friday, Mr. Sadr declared that "I am the beating arm for Hezbollah and Hamas here in Iraq." Hezbollah has been financed by Iran for years.

Having let Mr. Sadr's militia grow, the coalition now has no choice but to break it up. It should also warn the Dawa Islamic political party that its dealings with Iran won't be tolerated. As for Tehran, we would hope the Sadr uprising puts to rest the illusion that the mullahs can be appeased. As Bernard Lewis teaches, Middle Eastern leaders interpret American restraint as weakness. Iran's mullahs fear a Muslim democracy in Iraq because it is a direct threat to their own rule. If warnings to Tehran from Washington don't impress them, perhaps some cruise missiles aimed at the Bushehr nuclear site will concentrate their minds.

Proof of U.S. resolve is especially important as the transfer of sovereignty on June 30 nears. Millions of Iraqis are grateful for their liberation from Saddam and are willing to help us finish the job. But too many Iraqis already suspect that June 30 has more to do with our elections than with theirs. If they now see the U.S. failing to respond forcefully to the past week's unrest, they will conclude that the Americans are preparing to leave. Then the mayhem and jockeying for power will only get worse.

Yesterday, Mr. Bush reiterated his support for the June 30 transfer. But the timing is less important than the fact that the U.S. still has no plan for what will happen on that date. The current non-plan is for U.S. regent L. Paul Bremer to toss the ball to U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and hope he can figure it out.
With elections put off for some months anyway, the default transfer plan will probably involve retaining the Iraqi Governing Council in some form. The coalition is better off doing this on its own and leaving the U.N. out of it. It isn't as if Kofi Annan is offering any troops, and Mr. Brahimi--a Sunni Arab nationalist close to nations that coddled Saddam--makes Shiites nervous. This latest Bush Administration dance with the U.N. is just one more signal to many Iraqis that the U.S. is eager to get out.

While we're at it, Mr. Bush can send an important signal with his choice of who should succeed Mr. Bremer as U.S. ambassador to Iraq. The worst choice would be a career diplomat. We'd recommend Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy Defense secretary, who has his own reputational stake in Iraq's success and would be seen by Iraqis as someone committed for the long haul. He also wouldn't need on-the-job training. Rudy Giuliani would also be a serious choice.

We trust that Mr. Bush knows that his reaction to Fallujah and Mr. Sadr matters far more to his re-election prospects than does Richard Clarke's book tour. Americans realize that the current 20-20 Beltway hindsight over 9/11 is mostly political. But they also know that Iraq was Mr. Bush's undertaking, and they will hold him responsible for any failure of will.


The Essential Bremer
From the April 12 / April 19, 2004 issue: What the American administrator in Iraq has accomplished.
by Fred Barnes
04/12/2004, Volume 009, Issue 30

IN THE BEGINNING, no American funds were to be used for the reconstruction of Iraq. It would be paid for, gradually, out of Iraqi oil revenues. Two months after Saddam Hussein was toppled, the American administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, concluded the oil plan wouldn't work. He asked for $5 billion to $7 billion to rebuild Iraq's crumbling and looted infrastructure. The White House was shocked and said this was too much. Take another look at what's needed, Bremer was told. He did and came back with a request for $22 billion. Bremer had a strong ally on his side, President Bush. So the White House swallowed hard and cut the request to $20 billion. Congress trimmed it to $18.4 billion. The reconstruction money begins flowing into Iraq this spring, with the promise of one million to two million new jobs for Iraqis and a jump-started economy.

That episode demonstrates Bremer's clout. More than anyone in Washington, including Bush or Pentagon officials, he shapes policy in Iraq. And it is an ambitious policy--the creation, in Bremer's phrase, of a "new Iraq." The president's confidence seems to have emboldened Bremer. Ask about Bush and Bremer and every White House aide gives the same answer: "The president likes Bremer." On reconstruction funding, Bremer insisted that none of it be a loan saddling a democratic Iraqi government with more debt. The White House was persuaded, fought against a loan, and won. Bremer, 62, usually gets what he wants from Washington.

But there are limits to getting what he wants from Iraqis. A year after Saddam was ousted, Bremer follows a simple game plan: strategic clarity, tactical flexibility. The prize in this game is a free and democratic Iraq at peace at home and with its neighbors. Exactly how Iraq arrives there is less important than getting there in a timely fashion without jeopardizing the goal itself. Bremer has retreated when necessary. He backed down from demanding Iraqis draft a permanent constitution before the Coalition Provisional Authority, which he heads, hands over sovereignty. But he refused pleas to keep the Iraqi army intact and use it as a police and security force. Despite terrorist attacks, Bremer has no regrets about that decision.

One measure of Bremer's extraordinary success is that his selection has numerous fathers. State Department officials claim he was their pick. In truth, Bremer's name was suggested to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld by his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz. Rumsfeld sold it to Bush, who didn't know Bremer, and to others in the administration. Bremer was a well-known terrorism expert who'd worked for Henry Kissinger both in government and as a director of Kissinger Associates. What wasn't known was Bremer's political skill. He has the ideal qualities. He's relentlessly cheerful and upbeat, but serious and tough at the same time.

The best way to judge Bremer is to look at his most significant decisions. Here are a half-dozen of them:

* DE-BAATHIFICATION. This was a no-brainer. Barred from serving in the new government was anyone in the top three layers of the Baath party or the top four layers of a ministry in Saddam's regime, roughly 1.5 million Iraqis. In Iraq, this has been Bremer's most popular decision. The Baathists were Stalinists responsible for the disappearance of well over one million of their fellow Iraqis. Now Iraq has "an Adenauer problem." In postwar Germany, Konrad Adenauer quickly emerged as a national leader. No strong leader has stepped forward in Iraq. Exiles like Ahmad Chalabi have no political base. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq had no king or Hamid Karzai to tap for leadership. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the Shia leader, has political influence but doesn't want direct political power.

* DISBANDING SADDAM'S ARMY. This was Bremer's most controversial decision. Despite an $80 to $120 monthly stipend depending on their rank, some former soldiers joined what the press euphemistically calls the "insurgency" against the United States. But Bremer was right to dismiss them. For one thing, the army had spontaneously dispersed in the face of the American invasion. To reconstitute it, the officers, many of them Sunnis aligned with Saddam, would have had to be called back. Besides, this was the army that had brutally oppressed the majority Shia and the minority Kurds, who would have rebelled against its return. Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani told Bremer disbanding the army was as important as the capture of Saddam. Indeed it was.

* THE NOVEMBER 15 AGREEMENT. This is the best example of Bremer's tactical flexibility. He dropped his plan for provincial caucuses to elect an interim government that would write a permanent constitution, to be followed by the turnover of sovereignty and a democratic election. Bremer yielded to political reality. Both Sistani and the appointed Iraqi Governing Council wanted sovereignty sooner. Bremer traveled to Washington and met one-on-one with the president before approving a new plan with transfer of sovereignty on June 30. The election of a new government will be held sometime before next January 31. Iraqis may not be ready to rush to democracy. Certainly Falluja isn't. But Bremer and Bush believe delay could be worse.

* SAYING NO TO PRIVATIZATION. This may be Bremer's worst (though understandable) decision. The privatization of Iraq's oil industry was always off the table, if only for fear that Washington would be accused of going to war for oil. Bremer believes, however, that oil production could be doubled if the new Iraqi government seeks help from private companies. Also for political reasons, dollarizing the currency was rejected in favor of issuing a new currency without Saddam's picture on the bills. And to avoid worsening unemployment, the 200 or so nationalized enterprises with 500,000 employees haven't been cut loose. Nor have the massive subsidies for gasoline, food, and energy been eliminated. Bremer intends to trim the subsidies by June 30, when he leaves. But privatization has essentially been left to the government elected next year. So the prospects for full privatization are uncertain.

* THE INTERIM CONSTITUTION. This was a political breakthrough engineered by Bremer. He stood firm on minority rights and no Islamic law while overseeing the drafting of the constitution. When Sistani complained and five of the 25 members of the Iraqi Governing Council balked, Bremer left it to the council to reach agreement. They finally did. Sistani, by the way, doesn't meet with Bremer or other coalition officials. But Bremer has effectively communicated with him since last May through intermediaries. On the constitution, it was Sistani who backed down.

* THE UNITED NATIONS. Bush and Bremer favor a U.N. role in Iraq for the specific purposes of organizing the election and giving the new government legitimacy. But Sistani and other Shia opposed a U.N. role after U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi concluded a few months ago that a quickie election was impossible. Bremer wanted Brahimi to return and help establish an election process. Security Council approval would bestow legitimacy. Robert Blackwill, a senior National Security Council official at the White House, was dispatched to backstop Bremer, but it was Bremer who persuaded the governing council and Sistani to go along. His cleverest argument was that Iraq would need the U.N. later. Barring it now would put U.N. aid to independent Iraq at risk.

No American official of recent vintage has taken on a task on the scale of Bremer's. It amounts to the creation not just of a government and an economy but of a country. Douglas MacArthur had seven years to achieve in Japan what Bremer is trying to do in less than 15 months. Rich Galen, an American press officer in Baghdad, calls it "MacArthur on steroids." Bremer has won the support of many but not all Iraqis. When an Iraqi journalist told him he was loved by Iraqis, Bremer responded, "Except for those who want to kill me." He's regarded by security officials as more threatened by assassins than even Bush. That hasn't impeded him or the impressive staff of volunteers who've joined him in Iraq. They are rushing to put in place before they leave on June 30 as many elements of a democracy--a securities and exchange commission, a stock market, a public broadcasting system--as they can. Then the future of Iraq will be left to Iraqis. For all the obstacles, I think democracy will prevail. If it does, Bremer will rightly be deemed the father of free Iraq.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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

Posted by maximpost at 12:02 AM EDT
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.

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