Tuesday, January 25, 2005

INTELLIGENCE: Pentagon Sends Its Spies to Join Fight on Terror

The New York Times
January 24, 2005

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 - The Pentagon has created battlefield intelligence units that for the first time have been assigned to work directly with Special Operations forces on secret counterterrorism missions, tasks that had been largely the province of the Central Intelligence Agency, senior Defense Department officials said Sunday.

The small clandestine teams, drawn from specialists within the Defense Intelligence Agency, provide the military's elite Special Operations units with battlefield intelligence using advanced technology, recruit spies in foreign countries, and scout potential targets, the officials said.

The teams, which officials say have been operating in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries for about two years, represent a prime example of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's desire to expand the Pentagon's ability to collect human intelligence - information gathered by spies rather than by technological means - both within the military services and the Defense Intelligence Agency, whose focus is on intelligence used on the battlefield.

To read the full text, see The New York Times

Monday, January 24, 2005

Fear Shrouds Iraq's Elections in Secrecy, Confusion

By Lin Noueihed
Jan 24, 2005

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Election centers have been bombed, candidates and electoral officials threatened and even killed. With only a week to go, intimidation is turning Iraq (news - web sites)'s landmark polls into a new kind of secret ballot.

Some Iraqis don't know who to vote for as most candidates keep their identities hidden, fearing for their lives.

Those who've made up their minds don't know where to cast their ballots, since the location of polling stations is being hushed up until the last minute to thwart election day attacks.

To read the full text, see Yahoo! News

Sunday, January 23, 2005

News Item: China Will Not Allow Protest March

ABC Radio Australia
Sunday, January 23, 2005

Blog editor's note: Just days after President Bush's inauguration speech proclaiming a U.S. drive to end tyranny in the world, the news item below appears. Considering that according to Freedom House, three-fifths of the world's people who live without liberty are in China, it raises the logical question of what exactly Bush intends toward other powers that, while not yet exactly 'super,' are hardly second or third rate. If in her opening statement at her confirmation hearing as secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice's statement is any evidence, the President may mean one thing for Iran, say, but something quite different for China. According to Rice, "We are building a candid, cooperative and constructive relationship with China that embraces our common interests but still recognizes our considerable differences about values." Hmmmm.


Beijing police have reportedly detained the organiser of a planned 5,000-strong protest march to mourn China's deposed Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang.

Security has been on alert since Zhao's death on Monday.

Zhao was toppled as party chief in 1989 for opposing the army crackdown on the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, and lived under house arrest for more than 15 years.

A former student, Zhao Xin, who was jailed for a year without trial for his role in the Tiananmen protests reportedly submitted an application to police to stage a march this weekend.

His wife says he has been arrested.

Bush Doctrine Is Expected to Get Chilly Reception

By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 23, 2005; Page A01

When President Bush flew to Canada in his first international trip following his reelection, the White House portrayed it as the beginning of a fence-mending tour to bring allies back into the fold after a tense first term. But after Bush left, the Canadians were more furious than before.

They were stunned when Bush leaned across a table in a private meeting and lectured Prime Minister Paul Martin about opposing the U.S. missile defense system. And they were later taken aback by a speech filled with what they considered the same "old Bush" foreign policy pronouncements that opened the divide with the allies in the first place.

"If he's going to take that speech to Europe," said a top Canadian official who attended the meeting between Bush and Martin, "he's not going to get a good reception."

For all the talk of fresh diplomacy and rebuilding frayed alliances, Bush heads into his second term still demanding that the rest of the world meet him on his terms -- and now he has redefined those terms to an even more provocative degree with an inaugural address articulating a grand vision for spreading democracy and "ending tyranny" in "every nation." With his eye on history, Bush wants to change the world. The rest of the world is not necessarily so eager to be changed.

To read the full text, see Washington Post.com

Secret Unit Expands Rumsfeld's Domain
New Espionage Branch Delving Into CIA Territory

By Barton Gellman
Washington Post Staff Writer

January 23, 2005; Page A01

The Pentagon, expanding into the CIA's historic bailiwick, has created a new espionage arm and is reinterpreting U.S. law to give Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld broad authority over clandestine operations abroad, according to interviews with participants and documents obtained by The Washington Post.

The previously undisclosed organization, called the Strategic Support Branch, arose from Rumsfeld's written order to end his "near total dependence on CIA" for what is known as human intelligence. Designed to operate without detection and under the defense secretary's direct control, the Strategic Support Branch deploys small teams of case officers, linguists, interrogators and technical specialists alongside newly empowered special operations forces.

To read the full text, see Washington Post.com

Knight Ridder Analysis Speaks Frankly: U.S. Losing in Iraq

By E&P Staff
January 22, 2005

NEW YORK In a startling new analysis, Knight Ridder reporters Tom Lasseter and Jonathan S. Landay, who have done some of the best reporting on Iraq during the past two years, declare that unless something “dramatic” changes, “the United States is heading toward losing the war in Iraq.”

The lengthy article, distributed Saturday, is based on what the reporters call an analysis of U.S. government statistics, which show the U.S. military “steadily losing ground to the predominantly Sunni Muslim insurgency in Iraq.

"The analysis suggests that, short of a newfound will by Iraqis to reject the insurgency or a large escalation of U.S. troop strength, the United States won't win the war.”

To read the full text, see E&P.com

'Washington Post' Reconsiders 'Postwar' Label

By E&P Staff
December 05, 2004

Blog editor's note: I'm playing catchup after the holidays and at the beginning of a new semester, thus the late posting of some items from last year. Editor and Publisher is the "bible" of the American newspaper industry. You will need to complete a free registration to view this site's stories.

NEW YORK Mop-up operation or a raging war? Occupation or liberation? The press has long been divided on what to call the current conflict in Iraq. The Washington Post, for one, is re-considering its most prominent label: postwar.

In his Sunday column, Post ombudsman Michael Getler observed that last Saturday the paper published a letter on its Free For All page from a reader objecting to the label that editors has used for many months at the top of pages carrying news about the war in Iraq. The label reads "Postwar Iraq."

Getler noted that "the reader called attention to the 'stupidity' of such a label over stories with headlines such as, 'In Fallujah, Marines Feel Shock of War.'"

To read the full text, see E&P.com

Europe vs. America

By Tony Judt
New York Review of Books
Issue of Feb. 10, 2005

Blog editor's note: Judt has written a essay-review of a series of recent books of foreign policy interest: The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy by T.R. Reid; The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream by Jeremy Rifkin, and Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West by Timothy Garton Ash. Judt's essay is well worth your time.

Consider a mug of American coffee. It is found everywhere. It can be made by anyone. It is cheap—and refills are free. Being largely without flavor it can be diluted to taste. What it lacks in allure it makes up in size. It is the most democratic method ever devised for introducing caffeine into human beings. Now take a cup of Italian espresso. It requires expensive equipment. Price-to-volume ratio is outrageous, suggesting indifference to the consumer and ignorance of the market. The aesthetic satisfaction accessory to the beverage far outweighs its metabolic impact. It is not a drink; it is an artifact.

This contrast can stand for the differences between America and Europe —differences nowadays asserted with increased frequency and not a little acrimony on both sides of the Atlantic. The mutual criticisms are familiar. To American commentators Europe is "stagnant." Its workers, employers, and regulations lack the flexibility and adaptability of their US counterparts. The costs of European social welfare payments and public services are "unsustainable." Europe's aging and "cosseted" populations are underproductive and self-satisfied. In a globalized world, the "European social model" is a doomed mirage. This conclusion is typically drawn even by "liberal" American observers, who differ from conservative (and neoconservative) critics only in deriving no pleasure from it.

To a growing number of Europeans, however, it is America that is in trouble and the "American way of life" that cannot be sustained. The American pursuit of wealth, size, and abundance —as material surrogates for happiness —is aesthetically unpleasing and ecologically catastrophic. The American economy is built on sand (or, more precisely, other people's money). For many Americans the promise of a better future is a fading hope. Contemporary mass culture in the US is squalid and meretricious. No wonder so many Americans turn to the church for solace.

To read the full text, see Truthout.org

Alternate reality

Molly Ivins
January 21, 2005

AUSTIN -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice helpfully explained it all for us. The problem is that we are living in an alternative reality. What we think we know is not true. We have always had enough troops in Iraq. There are 120,000 trained Iraqi soldiers ready to take over. The president has condemned torture, so what else is there to say? Why torture happened, whose fault it is and why it is still happening at Guantanamo is not a problem because the president has condemned it. Secretary Rice also condemns it, so why raise questions about the fact that she wrote a letter to get an anti-torture clause in the intelligence appropriation bill taken out?

What, do you want to insult her integrity?

Secretary Rice did say that mistakes were made, but she does not know who made them or who should be held accountable. And, of course, as we all learned during the last election, no matter what happens, it is never, ever President Bush's fault.

To read the full text of her editorial, see Freepress.org

House report proposes troop withdrawal plan

By Bryan Bender,
Boston Globe Staff
January 22, 2005

WASHINGTON -- A new congressional report lays out a step-by-step argument for withdrawing ''the vast majority" of American troops from Iraq within 12 to 18 months, adding to a growing chorus of members of both parties for President Bush to abort the occupation.

The report, scheduled to be released Tuesday, was drafted by Representative Martin T. Meehan, a Lowell Democrat and senior member of the oversight panel. The plan calls for reducing the American troop presence in Iraq from 150,000 to as few as 30,000 by the middle of next year.

Such a timetable, if adopted, would make it more urgent for a new Iraqi government to take over most security functions and also send a clear message that the overwhelming US presence -- now seen by many officials and military specialists as counterproductive -- will soon recede, according to the proposal by Meehan, who recently returned from a fact-finding mission to Iraq.

To read the full text, see Boston Globe

Focus on Iran Causes Unease
Reaction in Tehran is stern, but analysts abroad see Cheney's warning of a possible Israeli strike as a way to prod Europe. Bush's speech is criticized

By John Daniszewski
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

January 22, 2005

LONDON — The Bush administration's warning that Iran might face military action from Israel raised the ire of Tehran, but politicians and analysts said Friday that it could bolster European efforts to get the Islamic Republic to end its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Israeli politicians were quick to say they had no imminent plan to attack Iran, even as some commentators elsewhere expressed unease at the sweeping and "messianic" tone in President Bush's inaugural speech marking the start of his second term.

Tehran did not respond directly to Vice President Dick Cheney's comments Thursday about a possible Israeli strike against Iran.

Cheney's remarks brought into focus comments Bush made in his address, in which the president said the United States stood ready to defend itself and protect its friends "by force of arms if necessary."

To read the full text, see Los Angeles Times

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Pentagon's Hersh Rhetoric

Press Clips Extra by Jarrett Murphy
The Village Voice
January 18, 2005

The Pentagon is doing its best to knock down Seymour Hersh's report in the latest New Yorker that covert U.S. teams are already in Iran scouting targets for the next exciting installment of the "global war on terrorism" (or "GWOT," as the boys in brass apparently call it).

But like a failed test of the missile defense system, the DoD's protests notably miss the heart of Hersh's claims.

To read the full text, see Village Voice.com

Monday, January 17, 2005

What the Pentagon can now do in secret.

The New Yorker

Issue of 2005-01-24 and 31

George W. Bush’s reëlection was not his only victory last fall. The President and his national-security advisers hav consolidated control over the military and intelligence communities’ strategic analyses and covert operations to a degre unmatched since the rise of the post-Second World War national-security state. Bush has an aggressive and ambitious agend for using that control—against the mullahs in Iran and against targets in the ongoing war on terrorism—during his secon term. The C.I.A. will continue to be downgraded, and the agency will increasingly serve, as one government consultant wit close ties to the Pentagon put it, as “facilitators” of policy emanating from President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney This process is well under way

Despite the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, the Bush Administration has not reconsidered its basic long-range policy goal in the Middle East: the establishment of democracy throughout the region. Bush’s reëlection is regarded within the Administration as evidence of America’s support for his decision to go to war. It has reaffirmed the position of the neoconservatives in the Pentagon’s civilian leadership who advocated the invasion, including Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Douglas Feith, the Under-secretary for Policy. According to a former high-level intelligence official, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff shortly after the election and told them, in essence, that the naysayers had been heard and the American people did not accept their message. Rumsfeld added that America was committed to staying in Iraq and that there would be no second-guessing.

“This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah—we’ve got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.”

To read the rest of the article, see The New Yorker.com

Sunday, January 16, 2005


Bush Says Election Ratified Iraq Policy
No U.S. Troop Withdrawal Date Is Set

By Jim VandeHei and Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, January 16, 2005; Page A01

President Bush said the public's decision to reelect him was a ratification of his approach toward Iraq and that there was no reason to hold any administration officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgments in prewar planning or managing the violent aftermath.

"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post. "The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me."

With the Iraq elections two weeks away and no signs of the deadly insurgency abating, Bush set no timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops and twice declined to endorse Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's recent statement that the number of Americans serving in Iraq could be reduced by year's end. Bush said he will not ask Congress to expand the size of the National Guard or regular Army, as some lawmakers and military experts have proposed.

To read the rest of this story, see Washington Post.com

Report: U.S. Conducting Secret Missions Inside Iran

Sun Jan 16, 2005

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran to help identify potential nuclear, chemical and missile targets, The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday.

The article, by award-winning reporter Seymour Hersh, said the secret missions have been going on at least since last summer with the goal of identifying target information for three dozen or more suspected sites.

Hersh quotes one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon as saying, "The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible."

One former high-level intelligence official told The New Yorker, "This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign."

To read the rest of this story, see Reuters.com

Friday, January 14, 2005

Iraq New Terror Breeding Ground
War Created Haven, CIA Advisers Report

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
January 14, 2005; Page A01

Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of "professionalized" terrorists, according to a report released yesterday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank.

Iraq provides terrorists with "a training ground, a recruitment ground, the opportunity for enhancing technical skills," said David B. Low, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats. "There is even, under the best scenario, over time, the likelihood that some of the jihadists who are not killed there will, in a sense, go home, wherever home is, and will therefore disperse to various other countries."

To read the rest of the article, see washingtonpost.com