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PQQLK9
09-23-2004, 11:25 AM
I read this opinion in today's print edition of the Charlotte Observer and wanted to share.

I could not have said it better myself.


1,000 die in needless war against wrong enemy

Administration wastes troops' lives instead of hunting for bin Laden

DAVID H. JONES

Special to the Observer


To blame the Bush Administration entirely for the Iraq War is like blaming an undisciplined child for being spoiled. Like parents, too afraid or inattentive to confront a willful brat, we have let the administration send 1,000 American servicemen and women to a needless death.

The Sept. 11 hijackers were recruited, trained and financed by al-Qaida, a network of Islamic radicals masterminded by Osama bin Laden. The fundamentalist government in Afghanistan, the Taliban, harbored bin Laden. After Sept. 11, we had no choice but to pursue our attackers and their Afghan state sponsors. We invaded Afghanistan with only 10,000 American troops. We relied heavily on local forces controlled by warlords to do much of the fighting and searching. Although the Taliban government fell quickly and some al-Qaida leaders were captured or killed, many of the Taliban and al-Qaida leaders, including bin Laden, are still at large.

Credible published accounts indicate that, within a few months of our invasion of Afghanistan, the administration shifted its sights to Iraq. We were assured of connections between Iraq and al-Qaida and were told that Iraqi weapons were a threat to our security. Evidence on both counts was largely rhetorical, and much of it came from suspect sources.

Congress, including almost all of the Democrats, failed to demand better proof. The mainstream press failed to note the potentially mixed motives of many sources. We, as citizens, abandoned our responsibility to demand a convincing case before sending our soldiers and sailors to face bombs and guns.

None of the Sept. 11 terrorists were Iraqi. No evidence has been provided that Iraq had ties to al-Qaida that differed from those of any other Arab nation. We have yet to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

How did we allow the administration to push our nation into an unnecessary war against Iraq? As to Congress and the press, it seems they were simply afraid of being called unpatriotic. As to you and me, we were too self-centered to care. Having been told by our leaders that the war would be easy and troop deployment light and with no draft in the offing, we could go to bed knowing that it was someone else's loved one who would catch the bullets. Having been told by our leaders that the war would be cheap, we could go to sleep knowing that our lifestyle would not be affected. No mucking about in victory gardens or keeping up with ration books for us. We even got to keep our tax cut and were given two more.

The administration, like a spoiled child, tries to shift our attention from its crime. Its spokesmen continue to say "9-11" and "Saddam" in the same sentence. When asked about the 1,000 dead American soldiers, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld reminds us about the 3,000 dead from 9-11. Saying that Saddam was a butcher is an irrelevant response to 9-11. The genocidists in Sudan and the North Korea leader are not Boy Scouts, yet we are not unleashing "shock and awe" on them.

One thousand American soldiers, sailors and airmen dead. One thousand sons and daughters and husbands and wives and brothers and sisters dead. It would be tragic if these men and women had lost their lives chasing bin Laden in the mountains of Afghanistan or in fighting his Taliban protectors. They would be just as dead. The difference is that they would have died fighting a just fight against our real enemy.

Even if we needed to expand our Army to 500,000 soldiers in Afghanistan and even if my 20-year-old son got called for service, the cause would be just. I would pray for his safety every night, but at least I would understand why he needed to go and fight. I will never understand the fight we are in now.

One thousand dead American soldiers, sailors, and airmen. Seven thousand wounded. Eleven thousand Iraqi civilians dead and wounded, many of them women, children and old men. Why? Don't tell me it was to fight terror. They are dead and maimed because the Bush Administration preferred a "splendid little war" to fighting the real fight against the real enemy. They are dead and maimed because Congress and the press were afraid of being called "girlie men." They are dead and maimed because we, the people, failed to care enough to pay attention.

It was more thrilling to knock out a second-tier despot than to turn over every rock in Afghanistan looking for bin Laden. It was easier to let our leaders make flawed decisions than to demand logic and clarity of thought. It was better to fight a war where other people's children die and that the next generation will pay for, than to risk being called unpatriotic.

What a shame.

David H.

Jones


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Observer community columnist David H. Jones, a Charlotte lawyer, serves on the board of the Mecklenburg Council on Homelessness Inc. and the Belmont Community Development Corp. Write him c/o The Observer, P.O. Box 30308, Charlotte, NC 28230-0308, or at djones@kennedycovington.com.

Fair_Play
09-23-2004, 11:51 AM
I guess at this point no use crying over spilled milk! All of our troops, their commanders, and the non-existent coalition should immediately leave Iraq, and pursue Bin Laden. Perhaps they could ask Clinton for some hints, and perhaps it would help if they fired all of our intelligence operatives and shut down the CIA, or at least elininate 50% of their funding (hedging bets in case Kerry wins!).

Have you a list of all the agencies that are not looking for Bin Laden? And what countries as well?

I have a nineteen year old son.

In one incident during WWII, while engaged in a pre-invasion training exercise, seven hundred American soldiers perished from one enemy action.
The cost of the "war" in Iraq is not as much as was spent for a two week period in WWII. Not in dollars, not in lives.

I guess the only practical thing to do now, especially since everyone is making mistakes (including Dan Rather), is to have Bush complete six months of National Guard training, while John Kerry goes to Viet Nam and finishes out his tour. Hindsight? Maybe, but it at least is a plan, I see no plan in your post, nor do I see a plan in Kerry's camp, lest it be one already in place with the Right Wing Party.
War is Hell. Do you believe that there actually is a Grand Conspiracy to "Get it Wrong"? Constantly and Consistently?

My nineteen year old son...

Ross
09-23-2004, 12:37 PM
I think this makes the case against this administration very clearly. Thanks for posting it.

Wally_in_Cincy
09-23-2004, 12:47 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Ross:</font><hr> I think this makes the case against this administration very clearly. Thanks for posting it. <hr /></blockquote>

Well, it is an opinion

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote PQQLK9:</font><hr> I read this opinion...<hr /></blockquote>

Leviathan
09-23-2004, 01:25 PM
Good article, Nick. Thanks for posting it.

Alan

Ross
09-23-2004, 02:37 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Wally_in_Cincy:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote Ross:</font><hr> I think this makes the case against this administration very clearly. Thanks for posting it. <hr /></blockquote>

Well, it is an opinion

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote PQQLK9:</font><hr> I read this opinion...<hr /></blockquote> <hr /></blockquote>

Well it is an opinion backed up by reasons for the opinion. That's pretty much what political discussions are, I think.

highsea
09-23-2004, 02:45 PM
While I understand (and share) the author's displeasure with the Iraq situation, imo he is oversimplifying the argument to the point of distraction.

The US military is the best in the world at winning wars. It's winning peace that they are not trained to do. That's what the UN is for, and I suppoose if we just packed up and came home, the UN would have no choice but to get involved.

The US went into Afghanistan with 9,500 troops. Today there are about 20,000. To date there has never been a drawdown in Afghanistan. The thing everyone keeps harping on is the re-deployment of some SOF forces to Iraq. More on this later. By any military standard the operation in Afghanistan has been an amazing success story. The Taliban and al-Qaeda were send into hiding almost overnight, with virtually no US casualties.

Having said that, I will add this: if you think the operation was a law enforcement issue only (arrest OBL), then it has been a complete failure, as he is still on the run. But if anyone thinks that just arresting OBL would stop terrorism against the US, I disagree. The genie doesn't go back into the bottle that easily.

The root cause of 9/11 did not originate in Afghanistan, and neither does the solution lie there. The origins are in the ME. The Iraq war was about addressing the root causes by changing the political dynamics in the ME. The WMD argument was nothing more than a soundbite that the general public could swallow without having to think too hard.

The success in Afghanistan led the Pentagon to try a similar tactic in Iraq. The SOF forces (remember I said I would get back to this?) were sent to work with the Kurds (and other resistance groups) in Iraq, to beef up their capabilities prior to our invasion. We needed indiginous groups in the fight just as we did in Afghanistan.

The enemy is not just OBL or Saddam, but the ideology of radical Islam. Iraq is just a building block towards a new ME that lacks the incentive for Arabs to radicalize. This is not a two or five or ten year effort. It will take at least a generation before any improvements will become evident, and we can't just stop with Iraq and Afghanistan.

We hope that success in Iraq and Afghanistan will be enough to remove the need to use force, and that Arab leaders will be pushed towards reforms by their own people. And we must do everything in our power to insure that success.

But if these reforms do not materialize, we must be prepared to strike against the regimes in Iran and Syria, as well as any other country that encourages the use of terrorism against the US. When coercion fails, force must be applied.

There is another option, of course, and that is to just walk away. Cut off all aid and commerce with the region. Let Russia, Europe, and China fight it out. We don't need the oil, and other sources like Mexico and Canada, as well as our own reserves can easily fill the gap.

This wouldn't really solve anything, because we would then be blamed for not doing anything to help the poor opressed Arabs. In fact, it would make the situation worse in the long run, because it would strengthen the terrorists politically. But at least we would not look like the opressor, we would just look like a bunch of weak cowards.

-CM

pooltchr
09-24-2004, 06:11 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote PQQLK9:</font><hr> I read this opinion in today's print edition of the Charlotte Observer... <hr /></blockquote>

For those of you who don't have ready access to this "newspaper", it makes Dan Rather look conservative!!!!!!!!
During the last election, they gave their endorsement to virtually every democrat that was running. The voters, it turned out, didn't agree.

Qtec
09-24-2004, 06:19 AM
[ QUOTE ]
The WMD argument was nothing more than a soundbite that the general public could swallow without having to think too hard.
<hr /></blockquote>


So you admit that the whole WMD thing was BS?

Q /ccboard/images/graemlins/smirk.gif

highsea
09-24-2004, 08:05 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Qtec:</font><hr> So you admit that the whole WMD thing was BS?

Q /ccboard/images/graemlins/smirk.gif <hr /></blockquote>I guess you didn't read the rest of my post. Oh, well.

Qtec
09-24-2004, 08:32 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote highsea:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote Qtec:</font><hr> So you admit that the whole WMD thing was BS?

Q /ccboard/images/graemlins/smirk.gif <hr /></blockquote>I guess you didn't read the rest of my post. Oh, well. <hr /></blockquote>


Yes I did.

[ QUOTE ]
The Iraq war was about addressing the root causes by changing the political dynamics in the ME . The WMD argument was nothing more than a soundbite that the general public could swallow without having to think too hard.

The enemy is not just OBL or Saddam, but the ideology of radical Islam<hr /></blockquote>

ie, nothing to do with WMDs!

If this is true, then you must admit that the reasons given for the invasion of Iraq were bogus. The Govt lied to the American people and the world.

Q

highsea
09-24-2004, 08:43 AM
Oh, never f-ing mind Q. Just twist my meaning around however you like. Whatever blows your dress up.

The WMD argument was an easy sell. That doesn't mean it was the only rationale for the war.

It means that is was easier for the politicians to focus on WMD's than geopolitics, which the general public probably couldn't grasp as easily. Much like you.

crawdaddio
09-24-2004, 09:34 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote highsea:</font><hr> Oh, never f-ing mind Q. Just twist my meaning around however you like. Whatever blows your dress up.

The WMD argument was an easy sell. That doesn't mean it was the only rationale for the war.

It means that is was easier for the politicians to focus on WMD's than geopolitics, which the general public probably couldn't grasp as easily. Much like you. <hr /></blockquote>

Hence the term, propoganda.
Look at UNSCOM's, and Scott Ritter's, opinion that inspections had overseen the destruction of 90-95% of Iraq's WMD's prior to 2001. Why was it that Colin Powell presented computer generated simulations of Iraqi "mobile chem. weapons labs" instead of photographs to the UN when making our case for invasion? Because we had no hard evidence.
DC

highsea
09-24-2004, 09:48 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote crawdaddio:</font><hr> Why was it that Colin Powell presented computer generated simulations of Iraqi "mobile chem. weapons labs" instead of photographs to the UN when making our case for invasion? <hr /></blockquote>What are you talking about? I saw the sattellite photos that Powell presented. I saw no animations or simulations. Can you prove the photos he presented were faked?

Qtec
09-24-2004, 10:02 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote highsea:</font><hr> Oh, never f-ing mind Q. Just twist my meaning around however you like. Whatever blows your dress up. <font color="blue">Take it easy CM, its just a debate.
No way am I 'twisting your words'. I quoted you exactly and what you say is clear and I agree with you. GW was going to invade Iraq whatever and any excuse would be used. </font color>

The WMD argument was an easy sell. That doesn't mean it was the only rationale for the war. <font color="blue"> I didnt say it wasnt. </font color>

It means that is was easier for the politicians to focus on WMD's than geopolitics, which the general public probably couldn't grasp as easily. Much like you. <hr /></blockquote> <font color="blue"> Well excuse me for being one of the [ too dumb to understand] general public! /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif
So once again you agree that the politicians lied about WMDs in order to gain public support to invade Iraq! </font color>

I dont trust politicians who blatently lie. Do you?

Q

crawdaddio
09-24-2004, 10:14 AM
I saw an interview with Scott Ritter where he showed the pics of supposed chem. wepoons facilities that Powell used. Ritter had investigated that specific site many times and said there was never any chemical wepons or development there. Mr. Ritter identified the trucks as, IIRC, fire trucks- not decontamination vehicles. If the Iraqi's had chem. weapons, they would not have kept or developed them at this site, it was too widely known among UNSCOM inspectors. It would be like housing our warheads in broad daylight on the white house lawn.

We're talking about two different pieces of "evidence" here. The satellite photos that Powell presented were of a facility(mentioned in first paragraph). These were taken by UNSCOM under the order of Ritter using a U2. The computer generated simulations were of "mobile chem. weapons labs" made from semi trailers. These never existed, according to Ritter. I'm sure you saw them on the news at that time, as I did. They were pure speculation.

One more point. Remember that little vial that Powell waved around scaring us into thinking Iraq had anthrax? Well, the last known (Iraqi) batch was created in 1991 with a MAX shelf life of three years. UNSCOM knew Saddam's WMD's and chem. weapons were virtually completely destroyed and this is why they would not authorize the backing of this war.

DC

highsea
09-24-2004, 10:17 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote crawdaddio:</font><hr>Look at UNSCOM's, and Scott Ritter's, opinion that inspections had overseen the destruction of 90-95% of Iraq's WMD's prior to 2001.<hr /></blockquote>Yes, and UNSCOM and Ritter were on Saddam's payroll. Look at the oil for food payoff list.

There had not been inspections since 1998. Nobody could be sure what was there or not. Even Clinton said that. Nobody could be sure whether or not he had reconstituted WMD programs in those 5 years prior to the US invasion or not. He certainly had the ability to do so.

There is proof that he was working on his nuke program up till at least 1998. That took place under the nose of the inspectors. It wasn't discovered until the scientists on the program defected to the west and spilled the beans.

Saddam was given opportunity after opportunity to comply with the UN resolutions. He chose a cat-and-mouse game instead.

One only has to go back and read the statements from politicians, diplomats, the UN, European leaders, the inspectors, etc. These statements date back 13 years before the US invasion, and they are very consistent.

This Bush/Powell conspiracy BS doesn't hold water. Everyone, and I mean every intelligence agency in the west believed he had WMD's.

Putin has said publicly that Russia had warned the CIA several times prior to invasion that Saddam was planning terrorist attacks on the US.

Saddam was a terrorist. He murdered 1.2 million Muslims. He supported terrorist groups in Palestine. He harbored Hamas, Abu Nidal, Zawahari, etc. He had met with OBL's deputies on several occasions. His sons murdered athletes and raped Iraqi women for fun. He killed people in public squares, chopped off limbs, cut out tongues, etc. He invaded 2 of his neighbors.

David, I have a fundamentally different view on how the US should fight terrorism than you and Qtec. I believe the solution goes way beyond waiting for an attack and then arresting the attackers and putting them on trial.

I'm not going to bother explaining why I have my views. It would only fall on deaf ears. I can only pray that the next attack won't take out a whole city.

I will leave you guys with the last word.

logging off now, with a belly-ache. /ccboard/images/graemlins/frown.gif

crawdaddio
09-24-2004, 10:25 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote highsea:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote crawdaddio:</font><hr>Look at UNSCOM's, and Scott Ritter's, opinion that inspections had overseen the destruction of 90-95% of Iraq's WMD's prior to 2001.<hr /></blockquote>Yes, and UNSCOM and Ritter were on Saddam's payroll. Look at the oil for food payoff list.
<hr /></blockquote>

Talk about conspiracies? I just can't believe that. Do you have any proof?

DC

crawdaddio
09-24-2004, 10:44 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote highsea:</font><hr>
I'm not going to bother explaining why I have my views. It would only fall on deaf ears. <hr /></blockquote>

Please don't say that /ccboard/images/graemlins/frown.gif
I have enjoyed many of our debates. Although we disagree on many things, you make alot of sense on some issues. I can tell you do your homework, and I admire that. You have caused me to check into some things, and I appreciate it. So please don't think I'm not listening, 'cause I am.

Peace
DC

eg8r
09-24-2004, 11:21 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote crawdaddio:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote highsea:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote crawdaddio":</font><hr>
Look at UNSCOM's, and Scott Ritter's, opinion that inspections had overseen the destruction of 90-95% of Iraq's WMD's prior to 2001.<hr /></blockquote>

Yes, and UNSCOM and Ritter were on Saddam's payroll. Look at the oil for food payoff list. <hr /></blockquote>

Talk about conspiracies? I just can't believe that. Do you have any proof?

DC <hr /></blockquote> Here is a web page (http://memri.org/bin/opener.cgi?Page=archives&amp;ID=IA16404) that lists the recipients of the Oil-for-Food Program.

Here is Scott Ritter's entry... [ QUOTE ]
United States

Shaker Al-Khaffaji (7 million barrels) advanced $400,000 to Scott Ritter, former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq. Ritter produced a documentary purporting to tell the true story of the weapons inspections, which in his telling were corrupted by sinister U.S. manipulation. [47] (http://slate.msn.com/id/2071502)
<hr /></blockquote> This is the best list I was able to find in a couple minutes of searching.

I was not aware of Ritter's name on the list, I was more worried that Russia and France had their names all over the list. France was in bed with Saddam so much it is scary.

eg8r

Ross
09-24-2004, 11:49 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote highsea:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote crawdaddio:</font><hr>Look at UNSCOM's, and Scott Ritter's, opinion that inspections had overseen the destruction of 90-95% of Iraq's WMD's prior to 2001.<hr /></blockquote>Yes, and UNSCOM and Ritter were on Saddam's payroll. Look at the oil for food payoff list. <hr /></blockquote>

Actually Ritter wasn't on Saddam's payroll or on the oil voucher list. However Ritter was hired to do a documentary on the inspections by a rich Iraq-American businessman who was on the list. Some people think Ritter had a change of heart for the money he got from this businessman, but the facts don't fit this theory very well. For a good discussion of Ritter and his changing stance on the inspections process see

http://slate.msn.com/id/2071502

Ross
09-24-2004, 12:19 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote highsea:</font><hr> I can only pray that the next attack won't take out a whole city. <hr /></blockquote>

This scares me too. And the most likely way it would happen is through the use of a nuclear bomb. The only way the terrorists can get a real nuke (not just a regular bomb with radiation in it or dirty bomb) is to get their hands on the limited amount of processed plutonium that exists around the world. There are many experts arguing that this is what we should be focusing on, and that there is a small window of opportunity to get all of this material accounted for and under lock and key before it is too late, and that this is not happening. This administration (like previous ones) are not taking the leadership necessary to make this happen. As horrible as it is to contemplate, if a real nuke hit one of our major cities, 9/11 would pale in comparison.

The war on terrorism is more than "attack them where they are." Sometimes fighting smart is as important as "fighting hard." Unfortunately, smart is not Bush's strong suit. This administrtion has not made this their highest priority and come up with a real valid comprehensive plan to deal with the number one threat to the US -- weapons grade plutonium being stolen or bought by terrorists.

But at least we kept Cat Stevens out...

Wally_in_Cincy
09-24-2004, 12:35 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Ross:</font><hr>

...There are many experts arguing that this is what we should be focusing on, and that there is a small window of opportunity to get all of this material accounted for and under lock and key before it is too late, and that this is not happening. This administration (like previous ones) are not taking the leadership necessary to make this happen....

...This administrtion has not made this their highest priority and come up with a real valid comprehensive plan to deal with the number one threat to the US -- weapons grade plutonium being stolen or bought by terrorists.
<hr /></blockquote>

How do you know what is going on behind the scenes? Do you really think they are not working on this? This is an intelligence issue and a diplomatic issue, not a military issue.

crawdaddio
09-24-2004, 02:02 PM
Thanks for the info, point taken.

~DC

Qtec
09-24-2004, 02:15 PM
Well it just so happens......

[ QUOTE ]
U.S. Shifts Stance on Nuclear Treaty
White House Resists Inspection Provision
By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 31, 2004; Page A01


In a significant shift in U.S. policy, the Bush administration announced this week that it will oppose provisions for inspections and verification as part of an international treaty that would ban production of nuclear weapons materials.

For several years the United States and other nations have pursued the treaty, which would ban new production by any state of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons. At an arms-control meeting this week in Geneva, the Bush administration told other nations it still supported a treaty, but not verification.

Administration officials, who have showed skepticism in the past about the effectiveness of international weapons inspections, said they made the decision after concluding that such a system would cost too much, would require overly intrusive inspections and would not guarantee compliance with the treaty. They declined, however, to explain in detail how they believed U.S. security would be harmed by creating a plan to monitor the treaty.

Arms-control specialists reacted negatively, saying the change in U.S. position will dramatically weaken any treaty and make it harder to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists. The announcement, they said, also virtually kills a 10-year international effort to lure countries such as Pakistan, India and Israel into accepting some oversight of their nuclear production programs.

The announcement at the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament comes several months after President Bush declared it a top priority of his administration to prevent the production and trafficking in nuclear materials, and as the administration works to blunt criticism by Democrats and others that it has failed to work effectively with the United Nations and other international bodies on such vital global concerns.

"The president has said his priority is to block the spread of nuclear materials to rogue states and terrorists, and a verifiable ban on the production of such materials is an essential part of any such strategy," said Daryl Kimball, director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association. "Which is why it is so surprising and baffling that the administration is not supporting a meaningful treaty."

The U.N. Conference on Disarmament includes 66 countries as members. It had announced its intent to start negotiations this year toward a verifiable international agreement known as the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) that would ban production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons. The two ingredients are used for setting off a chain-reaction nuclear explosion.

<hr /></blockquote>

web page (http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1273078,00.html)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A28806-2004Jul30.html


Does it make sense to you?

Q

Ross
09-24-2004, 03:46 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Wally_in_Cincy:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote Ross:</font><hr>

...There are many experts arguing that this is what we should be focusing on, and that there is a small window of opportunity to get all of this material accounted for and under lock and key before it is too late, and that this is not happening. This administration (like previous ones) are not taking the leadership necessary to make this happen....

...This administrtion has not made this their highest priority and come up with a real valid comprehensive plan to deal with the number one threat to the US -- weapons grade plutonium being stolen or bought by terrorists.
<hr /></blockquote>

How do you know what is going on behind the scenes? Do you really think they are not working on this? This is an intelligence issue and a diplomatic issue, not a military issue. <hr /></blockquote>

I agree totally that this is a diplomatic issue. I'm no expert on this issue, but the guy I heard being interviewed on NPR was arguing that we should be really pressuring Putin (and the rest of the world) to get everything under lock and key quickly, but we aren't. Apparently AFTER the recent terrorist school massacre, the Russians realized that a nearby facility that had weapons grade plutonium was very vulnerable. So as of a month ago or so, a group of armed terrorists would have had a chance to go in, get the material, and get it out to Bin Laden or one of his ilk. Not to mention the possibility of bribery to get access.

What was working this guy up was the fact that this problem IS solvable - we just had to have the will to make it happen. Terrorists cannot make weapons grade plutonium, so it is just a matter of getting all of the nuclear countries working together on this with a sense of urgency.

I don't know what is going on behind the scenes, but if what this guy says is true - then whatever we've been doing isn't working. He cited example after example of vulnerabilities. And he wasn't partisan about it - he was saying that the Clinton administration should have done the same thing.

highsea
09-24-2004, 05:47 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Ross:</font><hr>Some people think Ritter had a change of heart for the money he got from this businessman, but the facts don't fit this theory very well. <hr /></blockquote>Well, turning Ritter was a definitely a propaganda coup for Saddam. And that's something Saddam had a lot of experience in. [ QUOTE ]
Saddam Hussein had a long history of bribing anyone who could help his regime--businessmen, diplomats, politicians, and journalists. Throughout the Iran-Iraq war, which lasted from 1980 to 1988, Saddam lavished Arab leaders with gifts and contracts in exchange for their support. Shortly before his 1990 invasion of Kuwait, he shipped 100 new Mercedes 200 Series cars to top editors in Egypt and Jordan. Two days before the first attack, he offered Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak $50 million in cash, ostensibly for grain. After the invasion, he sought to buy neutrality or at least complacency by promising Mubarak and other Arab leaders that he would forgive all Kuwaiti debts once Iraq annexed the tiny nation as its nineteenth province.

As the (Galloway) affair makes clear, these practices continued throughout the 1990s, despite the increased scrutiny of Iraq's financial dealings by the United Nations. Before the recent conflict, says Tareq al-Mezrem from the Kuwaiti Information Office, the Iraqi regime gave journalists luxury "villas in Jordan, Tunisia, and even Lebanon."

Some of the transactions were straightforward cash payments, often in U.S. dollars, handed out from Iraqi embassies in Arab capitals--luxury cars delivered to top editors, Toyotas for less influential journalists. "This was not secret," says Salama Nimat, a Jordanian journalist who was jailed briefly in 1995 in that nation for highlighting the corruption. "Most of it was done out in the open."

"To lots of people, Saddam Hussein and his regime was a godsend," says a Washington-based columnist for a prominent Arabic-language newspaper. "Only a few journalists [in the Arab world] didn't take money from him."<hr /></blockquote>And al-Khajafi isn't your average "businessman". The Falcon Trading Group, a company that al-Khafaji founded in 1993, had done nearly $70 million of business with Saddam's regime.[ QUOTE ]
Al-Khafaji first came to public notice after revelations that he gave former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter $400,000 to produce a film that criticized the United States for its role in the inspection process. Al-Khafaji, who is listed as a "senior executive producer" of the film, arranged meetings for Ritter with high-level officials in Saddam's government, a feat New York Times magazine writer Barry Bearak found "impressive." Ritter had previously been an outspoken critic of Saddam Hussein, and issued dire warnings about the status of the Iraqi dictator's weapons of mass destruction. <hr /></blockquote>Al-Khajafi was also the guy who sponsored the delegation of US Congressmen to Baghdad prior to the war. [ QUOTE ]
Al-Khafaji arranged travel and financing for the "Baghdad Democrats"--Jim McDermott, Mike Thompson and David Bonior--last fall. Following the trip, al-Khafaji contributed $5,000 to McDermott's Legal Defense Fund.<hr /></blockquote> source (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/605fgcob.asp?pg=1)

Now, McDermott and co. were just dupes, but Ritter wasn't a stupid guy. Overnight he goes from being the most vocal critic of Saddam for 3 years, to his most vocal defender.

He has yet to offer a plausable explanation for this about face. Maybe it was just "Stockholm Syndrome", as the Slate editorial suggests, I don't know. But I do know it's awfully hard to consider him credible after such a dramatic turnaround. Money can be a powerful motivator to some people.

highsea
09-24-2004, 08:57 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Ross:</font><hr>...This administrtion has not made this their highest priority and come up with a real valid comprehensive plan to deal with the number one threat to the US -- weapons grade plutonium being stolen or bought by terrorists.

...but the guy I heard being interviewed on NPR was arguing that we should be really pressuring Putin (and the rest of the world) to get everything under lock and key quickly, but we aren't. Apparently AFTER the recent terrorist school massacre, the Russians realized that a nearby facility that had weapons grade plutonium was very vulnerable. So as of a month ago or so, a group of armed terrorists would have had a chance to go in, get the material, and get it out to Bin Laden or one of his ilk. <hr /></blockquote>Ross, I wouldn't put too much stake in this guy's statement. After the breakup of the USSR, there was a lot of nuke material that was not well secured. The US and Russia worked together to get it under lock and key. The other member states of the CIS turned everything over to Russia. So Georgia, Uzbekestan, Kasakhstan, etc. no longer have any nuclear materials. The stuff in Russia is under pretty tight security. I would have to see this guy's evidence before I got myself too worked up.

A terrorist group could not build a working nuke themselves, even if they had enough fissionables. The designs, while not extremely complicated, are highly technical, and not really that easy to build, no matter what people like to claim.

You need some pretty advanced manufacturing abilities, as well as a trigger, shielding, some HE to start the implosion, etc. If you get too much fissionables together, it goes off before you are ready. If you don't get enough, it never implodes, and all you get is a small boom and some radiation. If you don't have the proper facilities to handle the materials, the guys assembling it will die from the exposure.

Pakistan had to get their design from China, and this was after their best scientists worked on the problem for over 20 years. Same for North Korea and most likely Iran. The Libyan program used this same Chinese design, which they got from Pakistan. India got their design from Russia. Only recently has Pakistan announced they could build a plutonium weapon, which is technically much more complex than a uranium one. It takes some pretty sophisticated computers to design a plutonium bomb. Undoubtedly the design is one of those that China stole from us.

The best al-Qaeda could do on their own is build a dispersion bomb. The greatest (nuclear) threat is that they could acquire a functional bomb from a rogue state like North Korea or Iran, or that Musharraf could be overthrown in Pakistan and hard-liners could take over. Iraq also was capable of building a nuke and passing it on, but that risk is gone.

So the administration is focusing the main efforts where they should be, pressuring Iran and North Korea, and working with Pakistan to secure their arsenal. All nuke designs have fail-safes, so they can't be set off by anyone who is not a trained technician. You can't steal one and "hot-wire" it.

This leaves the terrorists with chemical or biological weapons as their best choice if they have to build them on their own. Now this is a serious threat, imo. All you need is a chemist and a bathtub, practically. Packaging can be crude, and an attack can be carried out in an infinite number of ways.

Contagions like smallpox or anthrax, once let loose, can replicate themselves if the conditions are right. A relatively small amount goes a long way. The downside with them is that they are fairly easy to counter, and fairly difficult to weaponise.

Chemicals like VX and Sarin don't replicate themselves, but they are much more deadly. They are also very simple to manufacture. Labs could be setup right here in the US, and the precursors can be ordered through chemical supply houses. Once you have enough, you can start the attacks. Look at the Japan subway attack. Saddam used helicopters with crop dusting gear when he gassed the Kurds. Very low-tech stuff. Fly over a village and 5,000 people are dead within minutes.

So I think the biggest terrorist WMD threat is a chemical attack. Next on the list would be a biological or dirty bomb, and I would say they are about the same as far as difficulty and effectiveness, i.e., they would cause a big disruption, but not mass casualties, and both would be more difficult to carry off than a chemical attack if you are starting from scratch. Not to be ignored is a conventional attack on a nuclear site. This could disperse a large amount of radiation, and the terrorists would not have to acquire the isotopes themselves, they could use our's against us.

Last on the list of probability, but greatest in damage would be the terrorists getting a bomb from a rogue state and setting it off in a major US city.

But I don't worry one bit that they could build their own nuke.