Monday, February 2002 Updates
Britain Joins US in Nuke Experiment
By KEN RITTER
.c The Associated Press
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Government scientists from the United States and Britain successfully exploded a small amount of nuclear material underground in a joint subcritical experiment, an official with the National Nuclear Security Administration said Friday.
No nuclear reaction was triggered by Thursday's experiment, said administration spokesman Darwin Morgan. The explosion was 960 feet beneath the surface at the Nevada Test site, about 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
``It doesn't shake the ground,'' Morgan said. ``There's nothing you can see, nothing you can feel.''
Morgan said data from such experiments helps scientists create computer models to chart the reliability of the nation's aging nuclear weapons stockpile. The United States has conducted 16 subcritical tests since July 1997.
The experiment was the first time Britain has taken part in a subcritical nuclear experiment at the Nevada Test Site, Morgan said. The British had taken part in 24 underground nuclear weapons tests before full-scale nuclear testing was put on hold indefinitely by the United States in 1992.
The British joined in the experiment under the terms of a 1958 Mutual Defense Agreement. Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and Britain's Atomic Weapons Establishment were involved.
Anti-nuclear groups have criticized subcritical nuclear tests as counter to the spirit of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty on nuclear arms. The U.S. Energy Department says the tests do not violate the treaty because no critical mass is formed and no full-scale nuclear explosion.
The United States government is currently conducting a series of "subcritical" nuclear weapons experiments underground at the Nevada Test Site, 85 miles northwest of Las Vegas. A subcritical experiment is a nuclear weapons experiment in which chemical high explosives blow up special nuclear materials -- including plutonium-239, a main ingredient of nuclear weapons -- ostensibly so scientists can better understand how nuclear weapons age.
Subcritical nuclear experiments differ from traditional nuclear weapons tests in that they are designed to not reach criticality, in other words to not sustain a nuclear chain reaction. Because of this, subcriticals are not explicitly banned under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the international agreement which would prohibit all nuclear explosions with yields greater than zero.
The subcriticals are one component of the "Stockpile Stewardship" program, a $60 billion (over 13 years) program initiated by the U.S. Department of Energy to upgrade old nuclear weapons facilities and build new ones for the purpose of maintaining the "safety" and Areliability" of the enduring nuclear stockpile in the absence of underground nuclear testing. Each subcritical experiment costs about $20 million in direct costs, plus the additional cost of maintaining the Nevada Test Site.
PSR concludes that the stated rationale for undertaking the subcritical nuclear experiments is not justified. The Department of Energy has not demonstrated that the subcriticals are essential for stockpile safety and reliability. Nor has the U.S. government thoroughly evaluated the impact of the subcriticals on nuclear arms control and proliferation. PSR recommends that the subcriticals be canceled and the Nevada Test Site closed to further nuclear weapons-related activities.
In October 1995, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced its original plan to conduct a series of six subcritical nuclear underground explosions in 1996 and 1997. The subcritical tests were originally scheduled to take place before negotiations on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty were concluded, but the experiments were postponed to allow further environmental impact analysis, and out of concern that they would impede Treaty negotiations.
The first two subcritical nuclear weapons experiments were conducted in 1997. The first, code-named "Rebound," was conducted on July 2. In it, chemical explosives blew up 3.3 pounds of plutonium. The second, code-named "Holog," was conducted on September 18 and involved two simultaneous explosions, the first with 77 grams of plutonium and 50 grams of high explosives, and the second with 50 grams of plutonium and 50 grams of high explosives. Both tests took place in an underground facility at the Nevada Test Site.
According to the DOE, the first two tests provided additional data on the behavior of plutonium in a "strongly-shocked" state -- data that is said to be needed for improving supercomputer modeling of nuclear weapon performance and assessing changes in weapon remanufacture techniques and materials. The first two subcritical experiments did not involve nuclear warheads, warhead prototypes, or "weapons configurations," but DOE officials have not ruled out the possibility of conducting experiments involving "weapons configurations," which could result in "hydronuclear" explosions. In the past, such "hydronuclear" tests resulted in barely critical configurations that released a small amount of fission energy.
Four more subcriticals are scheduled for 1998, and more in later years. DOE has announed that the next subcritical test, code-named "Stagecoach," will be conducted on March 25, 1998. It will take place at the Nevada Test Site's U1a Complex, an underground laboratory approximately 960 feet beneath the surface. According to the DOE, Stagecoach is a Los Alamos National Laboratory-sponsored experiment whose primary objective will be to obtain physics information on plutonium samples of varying ages. Stagecoach will be comprised of 5 simultaneous blasts involving 255 pounds of chemical high explosives which will generate high pressures applied to 2 pounds 2 ounces of weapons plutonium.
Rationale for Experiments Unjustified
The DOE has been directed by the President and Congress -- through documents such as the 1994 Nuclear Posture Review, the National Defense Authorization Act of 1994, and several publicly announced Presidential Decision Directives -- to maintain the safety and reliability of U.S. nuclear arsenal in the absence of nuclear testing and without new-design weapon production.
The DOE claims that the "Stockpile Stewardship" (SS) program is needed to meet these directives, and that the subcritical experiments would specifically be used to: (1) improve the knowledge of the dynamic properties of aged nuclear materials (e.g., plutonium) in order to assess the effects of new manufacturing techniques on weapons performance; (2) help maintain the capabilities of the Nevada Test Site and support nuclear test "readiness"; and (3) provide data to support the "Stockpile Stewardship" program.
However, the DOE is extending its directives beyond what is technically required. To illustrate:
* The DOE has not established that there is a need to conduct the subcritical experiments. There has been no independent technical review in support of their scientific importance, conduct, timing or site selection. In June 1997, DOE commissioned the JASONs, an independent group of scientists, to confirm that the first two tests were designed to be Asubcritical." The group confirmed that, but also added that Athere is no claim that the data from these experiments are needed immediately as part of the Science Based Stockpile Stewardship Program in order to retain confidence in the reliability and performance of the U.S. stockpile..." The JASONs report also recommended that Aan independent review process should also address the scientific importance and cost-effectiveness of proposed subcritical experiments." No such review has been undertaken to date.
* The DOE has not shown that the subcritical experiments are required to maintain a reliable and safe nuclear stockpile. There is no evidence to date to suggest that plutonium aging has degraded the expected performance of the weapons designs used in the current U.S. nuclear arsenal. In fact, in May 1996, the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research released a report which showed that there has not been a single aging-related nuclear safety problem in the U.S. arsenal and that nuclear safety problems arose in the context of warhead design, not aging.
* The true purpose of the SS program is questionable. A once-classified document known as the DOE AGreen Book," obtained in 1997 through the discovery process of NRDC v. Pena, indicates that the real purpose of the SS program is the design and development of new weapons, rather than the maintenance of the current weapons stockpile. Not only is this against U.S. policy, but focusing the program on designing and developing new weapons is likely to actually decrease confidence in the reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
* The U.S. government has not thoroughly evaluated the nuclear arms control and non-proliferation impacts of conducting subcritical nuclear experiments. By moving forward with the subcriticals, the U.S. is likely increasing the risk of proliferation by condoning/encouraging such experiments by other countries and by usurping resources from programs and activities better able to maintain a truly safe nuclear arsenal.
* U.S. lawmakers are raising concerns about the subcriticals and the SS program. In June 1997, 44 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, sent a letter to President Clinton urging him to cancel the subcritical experiments. In addition, last month 33 members, led by Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California, urged the President to support cuts to the DOE weapons program budget and to help move the U.S. toward a more sensible approach to nuclear weapons stewardship.
Negative Impacts on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and Non-Proliferation
It is generally acknowledged that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which prohibits "any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion," does not prohibit subcritical nuclear experiments because the experiments are not designed to produce a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. However, conducting the subcritical experiments could have a serious negative impact on U.S. nuclear non-proliferation goals, make verification of the nuclear test ban treaty difficult, and complicate the test ban treaty's entry-into-force. Consider these points:
* Because the CTBT's verification and on-site inspection system is not yet fully in place, subcritical experiments complicate the ability to verify violations of the CTBT. In other words, until the CTBT's verification system is in place, it will be difficult to determine if such experiments are truly Asubcritical." This point is illustrated by the August 1997 Russian seismic event which generated great suspicion in the U.S. and elsewhere about whether the event was a nuclear test, subcritical experiment or a small earthquake. Weeks later, the U.S. government determined it to be the latter.
* By conducting the subcriticals, the U.S. could set back the CTBT's formal entry-into-force, which requires ratification by 44 named, nuclear weapons-capable states, including India, Pakistan and North Korea which have not yet signed the treaty. India, reacting to the first subcritical test, stated that its opposition to the CTBT was due to its Aloopholes ... exploited by some countries to continue their testing activity, using more sophisticated and advance techniques." Continuing the subcriticals is hardening the position of several states that are concerned that the U.S. (and other declared weapons states) will continue nuclear weapons development through laboratory-based programs and activities such as subcritical experiments.
* International opposition to the subcriticals is mounting. Governments which have publicly expressed opposition to the subcritical experiments include those of China, India, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, and Norway. Last month, the European Parliament passed a resolution which calls upon the U.S. government to Ahalt the series of sub-critical tests and [for] all governments to refrain from carrying out such tests." The resolution also calls for increased transparency at the test sites and an official declaration from the U.S. government stating that the subcriticals are in no way part of a new nuclear weapons design program.
* Continuing nuclear testing operations at underground test sites contravenes the spirit of the CTBT which Aseeks to achieve the discontinuance of all nuclear weapon test explosions and all other nuclear explosions for all time," and the hope of the vast majority of nations and citizens worldwide that the nuclear test sites will be closed. The subcriticals instead serve to reinforce concerns, domestically and internationally, that the U.S. is not only interested in maintaining existing arsenals but also wants to maintain an active Nevada Test Site for resuming nuclear tests and the capacity for new weapons design and development.
The U.S. can maintain the nuclear arsenal's safety and reliability without subcritical nuclear weapons experiments and the elaborate AStockpile Stewardship" program. Retired U.S. nuclear weapons designer Ray Kidder advocates that the DOE instead undertake a Apassive curatorship" program which is less expensive and of much smaller dimensions, and which supports U.S. goals of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear arms reduction. This alternative would involve monitoring, replacement and remanufacture of warhead components according to the original designs. Plutonium pits would be replaced with existing pits in storage and parts would be remanufactured according to the original designs at far less cost.
The U.S. should immediately discontinue the subcritical nuclear experiments. The experiments send a message to the world that the U.S. is more interested in advancing nuclear weapons expertise than in advancing non-proliferation and disarmament goals. The U.S. should lead the world in ending all nuclear testing and seek an agreement with Russia and China to permanently close the remaining nuclear testing sites.
Should the U.S. refuse to immediately abandon the ill-conceived subcritical experiments, it should at least: a) arrange for a thorough, independent, public review to determine whether the subcritical experiments are technically necessary to address warhead safety and reliability problems known to exist in the current arsenal; b) conduct a thorough, public evaluation of the non-proliferation and treaty implications of conducting such activities, particularly CTBT entry-into-force; and c) develop a transparency or verification plan that is capable of demonstrating to the international community that the U.S. is not violating its legal obligations as a CTBT signatory. Because subcritical experiments are setting a new and destabilizing precedent that other nations might choose to emulate, it is in the U.S. national security interest to ensure that any such verification plan can be applied to other states that might be capable of conducting low-yield nuclear weapons experiments.
Based on "Subcritical Experiments After the Test Ban Treaty" by Daryl Kimball, February 3, 1997.
For more information, contact:
Physicians for Social Responsibility 1101 14th St. NW, Suite 700 $ Washington DC 20005
tel. 202-898-0150 fax 202-898-0172
CHAMAN, Pakistan, Feb 14 (Reuters) - U.S. aircraft over southern Afghanistan have scattered $100 bills tucked into envelopes bearing a picture of President George W. Bush, witnesses said on Thursday.
Some of the envelopes were carried by the wind and fluttered to earth over the Pakistan border town of Chaman, sending people scrambling for the cash.
"C-130 planes dropped white-coloured paper envelopes with a photo of President Bush and two bills of $100 each," said Abdul Hadi, a resident of Chaman on the border with southern Afghanistan.
"They are actually dropping these over areas across the border but a few were carried away by the wind to this side," Hadi said. "People pushed and fought with each other to get their hands on the envelopes."
The envelopes bore no message, the witnesses said.
The U.S. aircraft first dropped the envelopes on Wednesday afternoon and made a second run to drop their paper payloads on Thursday morning.
Southern Afghanistan used to be a stronghold of the vanquished Taliban government.
The money was the latest message from the sky sent by U.S. forces hunting fugitive Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden and his main Taliban protector, the group's leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.
In recent weeks U.S. aircraft have dropped leaflets over the same area depicting Mullah Omar as a dog, held on a leash by bin Laden.
Another crude cartoon dropped by U.S. forces showed Taliban leaders as pawns in the hands of bin Laden, playing on a chequered chessboard map of Afghanistan.
Some of the earlier leaflets carried messages in the Pashto and Dari languages such as, "Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda are terrorists, they should not be given shelter, those providing shelter to them will meet a horrible end."
The whereabouts of both bin Laden, leader of the shadowy al Qaeda militant network and prime suspect in the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, and Mullah Omar are a mystery.
U.S. planes rain dollars -2@
PARIS (Reuters) - France urged the United States Thursday to consult its allies over its dealings with Iraq and said military action was not a solution.
Speaking as President Bush considered ways to oust President Saddam Hussein amid speculation Iraq could become the next target in the U.S.-led war on terrorism, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Washington should not act alone.
"We would like the United States to confer with its allies and partners, particularly with members of the United Nations Security Council," the spokesman told journalists at a daily briefing when asked about France's position on Iraq.
Earlier this month, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine slammed what he called Washington's "simplistic" approach to foreign policy and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin urged Bush to resist the lure of unilateralism.
Defense Minister Alain Richard told French television Thursday that the United Nations must keep up pressure on Iraq to accept weapon inspection teams, but although sanctions were not working, military action was no solution.
"We must keep up pressure on this country. We think the (U.N.) embargo which affects the whole population is no longer the best solution and we have tried to move the U.N. on from this," Richard told LCI television.
"But neither is a military offensive a solution," he added.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman said France shared the United States' aim of ensuring Iraq, which invaded Kuwait in 1990, did not again threaten regional security.
Bush, who said Iraq along with Iran and North Korea formed an "axis of evil" backing terrorism, has said Iraq should let U.N. inspectors resume checks on whether it produced nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, or face the consequences.
U.S. media has said Washington was finalizing plans for a military strike on Iraq.
Richard stressed France and its European Union partners did not back Bush's view of Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
"We do not share this strategic priority," Richard said, echoing comments made by senior EU representatives.
PAKISTAN/AFGHANISTAN: The Pakistani President, Gen Pervez Musharraf,
and the Afghan interim leader, Mr Hamid Karzai, agreed yesterday that their
two countries should develop "mutual brotherly relations" and co-operate
"in all spheres of activity" - including a proposed gas pipeline
from Central Asia to Pakistan via Afghanistan.
"We have agreed unanimously ... on working together to develop strong brotherly co-operation, brotherly relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan in all spheres of activity," Gen Musharraf said after their talks.
Gen Musharraf said Pakistan will provide $10 million to the Afghan interim government to pay for government outlays. About 200,000 employees of the Afghan government have not been paid a salary for over six months by the ousted Taliban, and the interim Afghan government has maintained that paying them was the most urgent government priority.
Mr Karzai, who arrived in Islamabad earlier yesterday for a one-day visit, said he and Gen Musharraf discussed the proposed Central Asian gas pipeline project "and agreed that it was in the interest of both countries". Pakistan and several multinational companies, including the California-based Unocal Corp and Bridas S.A. of Argentina, have been toying with
the idea of constructing a 1,600-km pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to growing natural gas markets in Pakistan and, potentially, India. But the project has failed to materialise because of the civil war in Afghanistan and the reluctance of the financial institutions to finance it.
Gen Musharraf said he told Mr Karzai that Pakistan and Afghanistan are bound together by common geography,
faith, history and culture. "Pakistan is extremely interested in having a peaceful, stable, united, progressive Afghanistan as
its brotherly neighbour because it does not only serve the purpose of peace in the region but it also serves the economic interest of this entire region," he said.
Mr Karzai said he and Gen Musharraf "look forward to a tremendously good future. That future can be made certain by respecting each other's territorial integrity and freedom," he said, adding that he was grateful to Gen Musharraf "for wishing the Afghan people the unity, the independence, the progress that Afghans so badly need."
The two leaders also discussed the repatriation of over two million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Mr Karzai thanked Pakistan for having given "a tremendous welcome" to Afghan refugees. "But they have a home to go to, and that home is Afghanistan. "We would be grateful if our brothers in Pakistan allowed us time to prepare for that, so that our refugees can return home in tranquillity and dignity," he said.
Meanwhile police hunting a former English public schoolboy suspected of kidnapping an American reporter have recovered e-mails from another suspect's computer.
Investigators had hoped to rescue Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl before Gen Musharraf left last night for talks with President Bush in Washington.
Uncertain Toll in the Fog of War: Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan
February 10, 2002
By BARRY BEARAK
In an age of eavesdropping warplanes and satellite-guided bombs, the Pentagon finds itself accused of sometimes relying on faulty intelligence in Afghanistan, leading to an unnecessary toll of civilian deaths.
Scrutiny has grown since a pre dawn raid on Jan. 24, when U.S. commandos killed at least 15 men presumed to be Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters. Officials in the interim Afghan government have since joined grieving survivors in calling the at tack a tragic mistake, with some surmising the Americans were duped with false information by a scheming local warlord.
A full-fledged investigation by the Pentagon's Central Command is under way, which is unusual. Despite scores of credible reports about possibly misdirected airstrikes and sizable civilian losses - accounts from the United Nations, aid agencies and journalists - the military has made detailed inquiries into but a few cases, like the bombing of Red Cross warehouses in Kabul twice within 10 days in October.
Most often, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and military spokesmen have dismissed accusations of mistakes as enemy propaganda. They express confidence in their targeting and regret any "collateral damage." They maintain that extraordinary efforts have been taken to minimize civilian losses, something that even most critics of the war effort would not dispute.
Nevertheless, certainly hundreds and perhaps thousands of innocent Afghans have lost their lives during American attacks, a scattering of bodies extraordinarily difficult to tabulate.
Many mournful Afghan families demand a reckoning.
"Tell me why our homes were destroyed and 55 people - even little children - are dead?" asked an angry young man named Gul Nabi, standing in December among the 15 obliterated houses of a village named Madoo. "There were no Arabs here," he said, referring to Al Qaeda fighters. "There were only farmers who lived a good life and prayed to Allah for peace."
The American military routinely reviews the effectiveness of its air raids, but by its own admission it has faced insurmountable difficulty in tracking the toll of civilian deaths. Mr. Rumsfeld has called the task "next to impossible," citing a lack of ground access to bombed targets.
That leaves much unknown. American weaponry, according to a statement Mr. Rumsfeld made in October, is "probably 85-90 percent reliable."
Assessing the Damage
For the Afghanistan campaign, the Air Force created a special assessment team at its air operations center outside Riyadh to look at cases of possible civilian losses and other unintended damage. Pilot reports, targeting data and aerial reconnaissance photos are examined. The team has reviewed "several scores" of reports and acknowledged a handful of bomb malfunctions that have led to unintended casualties.
Mistakes caused by bad intelligence are harder to investigate. Credible reports about such instances are referred to Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla. Field investigations are necessary. Customarily, none have been assigned because of the difficulty of getting troops to the sites.
The military ordered its investigation of the Jan. 24 commando raid only after Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's pro-American interim president, personally complained to Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander of the operation in Afghanistan.
"The military knows they'll get pummeled about issues relating to civilian casualties, and they don't have a clue how to address it in a nonpropagandistic way," said William H. Arkin, a former army intelligence analyst who is a military adviser to Human Rights Watch. "The subject ties them in knots. It's an irritant, and they avoid it."
For a war that has so riveted the world's attention, there are tremendous
gaps in knowledge about what has occurred.
Some of this was deliberate. For months, the Taliban excluded any foreign observers. Much of what they claimed about civilian casualties has proven to be false.
But now, even with the Taliban gone, truth remains hard to come by. The sites of past air raids are often in remote locations that are only reachable on unsafe roads. Memory, as always, can be a chameleon. In the Muslim tradition, bodies are buried soon after death. Some answers disappear in the turned earth.
"What we were challenged with each and every time, particularly in the early weeks of the war, was that we did not have people on the ground to check," said Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley, senior spokesman for the Central Command.
Now, about 4,000 American troops are in Afghanistan. But most investigations
would be unreliable because of the
amount of time that has passed, the admiral said. Some of the damage has been repaired, many of the witnesses have
"You just don't find much," he said.
If that is true, many mysteries will remain unresolved.
What happened at the village of Karam in Nangahar Province on Oct. 11?
The Taliban claimed 200 civilians were killed
in an air raid. Some survivors put the death count at 50, some 100, some higher. Reporters, visiting the scene days
later, found a hamlet of demolished mud huts and interviewed devastated family members. Mr. Rumsfeld called
the claims of a high death toll "ridiculous" and said secondary explosions proved that a major arms dump had been
What happened on Dec. 1 when bombs leveled several villages near Tora Bora,
the cave complex where Osama bin Laden was thought to be hiding? America's
anti-Taliban allies in the region said the bombs killed at least 115 civilians
called for the raids to stop. Doctors Without Borders, the aid organization, said they transported 72 dead, including women and children, and left many more bodies behind. The Pentagon said its planes had hit only its intended targets.
What happened on Dec. 20 when American planes attacked a convoy in Paktia
Province, killing as many as 50 to 60
people on the road and in surrounding villages? The Pentagon said that Taliban leaders were in the vehicles and that the enemy fired first, using antiaircraft missiles. Survivors claimed the convoy was bringing tribal elders to Kabul for the inauguration of the interim president.
What happened on Dec. 29 in an air raid on Niazi Qala, a village in Paktia? Some survivors said more than 100 civilians were killed. The Pentagon claimed it had hit a Taliban ammunition depot, and journalists later found a huge cache of tank rounds and mortar shells. Villagers, however, said anti-Taliban forces had earlier taken control of the munitions and that many of the people killed, including women and children, had congregated for a wedding.
"We've got about 300 incidents in our database, and I'd say about
a third involve some civilian casualties that would
be worth taking a second look at," said Mr. Arkin, the Human Rights Watch adviser, who is also an adjunct professor at the U.S. Air Force's School of Advanced Airpower Studies.
Human Rights Accounting
The rights group is making plans to send researchers to Afghanistan in March to estimate the number of civilians killed and to investigate those attacks that might have arisen from an illegitimate use of force.
America's use of cluster bombs will be studied. Each one sprays a huge area with more than 200 soda- can-size armor-piercing bomblets. Some fail to detonate on contact.
"The duds in effect become land mines that explode when touched," said Joost Hiltermann, executive director of the Human Rights Watch arms division.
By some calculations, he said, the American bombing campaign may have left
36,000 unexploded canisters strewn
across Afghanistan's rugged landscape, an estimate that Admiral Quigley said was too high. He declined to provide a
Rights groups often take the lead in counting civilian deaths, and some experts believe it would in the Pentagon's interest to provide its own numbers.
"It hasn't been a major focus of attention for the military, which may well be a mistake.' said Eliot A. Cohen, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who directed the Air Force's definitive study of the 1991 Persian Gulf war. "Frequently, the human rights community will, in the absence of good numbers, put out bad numbers."
A few researchers have already done some arithmetic, basing their calculations on various news reports. Prof. Marc W.
Herold, an economist at the University of New Hampshire, added up at least 3,767 civilian casualties from Oct. 7 to Dec. 6. Carl Conetta, co-director of the Project on Defense Alternatives, used a more stringent distillation of media accounts and concluded that a better guess would be 1,000 to 1,300 deaths.
Whatever the total, the Pentagon would likely continue to insist that it is a bare, if inevitable, minimum. "There is no question but from time to time, innocent people, noncombatants, undoubtedly are killed and that is always unfortunate," Mr. Rumsfeld has said repeatedly.
Military officials describe a rigorous process of picking targets. In Afghanistan, the Pentagon has used multiple sources of intelligence, including local Afghans, U-2 spy planes, reconnaissance satellites, unpiloted Predator drones and RC-135 Rivet Joint planes that collect electronic transmissions. Sources are crosschecked for accuracy.
Commanders then determine which aircraft to dispatch, the type and size
of bomb, and even the best approach route to
minimize the threat to civilians. Lawyers review the targets, also evaluating the risk to civilians.
"This has been the most accurate war ever fought in this nation's history," General Franks told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week.
About 60 percent of the 18,000 bombs, missiles and other ordnance used
since the air campaign began on Oct. 7 were
precision-guided, up from fewer than 10 percent of munitions in the Persian Gulf war, military officials said.
A Raid Gone Awry
But word-of-mouth, rather than faulty high-tech gear, is the main suspect in the seemingly misbegotten Jan. 24 raid. In the pitch of night, relying on surprise, American soldiers and some commandos from an allied country burst into two compounds in the town of Oruzgan, more than 100 miles northeast of Kandahar. They were expecting to find secreted members of the Al Qaeda or Taliban leadership. And they were hoping to catch them napping.
Nayaz Muhammad, 27, said he was asleep in a school when he was awakened
by a blast. Most of the 11 other men in the
room died almost immediately in a barrage of gunfire. He escaped by diving out a window. The attackers were bathing the building in light. He managed to flee to a barn.
"I didn't know why they were shooting," Mr. Muhammad recalled days later.
Neither did Muhammad Yunas, a former district government chief, who had
been sleeping in the other compound. He saw
the charging Americans.
"I told my men, `Don't shoot, they're our people, they'll come to
talk,' " he said. "We were amazed. Why would the
Americans come to attack us?"
In the morning light, 21 lay dead, villagers said. Nineteen had been pulled from the school by neighbors. Two of the corpses had their hands bound behind their backs with white tape, witnesses said. The others were burned beyond recognition.
Hours later, back in Washington, a victory was being announced. The commandos had destroyed a large cache of weapons, it was reported. Twenty-seven prisoners were taken. They were being questioned. Some might be high-level Taliban.
But within two weeks, the raiders themselves were on the defensive. Mr.
Rumsfeld conceded that friends might well have been mistaken for foes. Villagers
insisted the weapons cache was merely a storehouse for confiscated arms.
prisoners were released to Afghan authorities.
Meanwhile, the military investigation began. Was the raid legitimate? If not, where had the American military gotten the false intelligence? General Franks said that at least some of the detainees were criminals, if not enemy warriors.
Many Afghan officials from the area say the Americans listened to lies and were drawn into a feud between factions fighting to control the town. They wonder why the military did not go to Oruzgan and ask around.
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the president's brother, is based in Kandahar. He said he had tried to settle the dispute. Instead, people are needlessly dead.
"I hope that the Americans are brave enough to name the person who gave them that information," he said.
"Finance is the art of passing currency from hand to hand until it finally disappears." -Robert W. Sarnoff
When George W. Bush presented his $2.16 Trillion budget for the period
of October 1, 2002 through September 30, 2003, he did so with a flourish
and much pomp and circumstance. He wrapped his "budget" in a United
States flag and presented it to Congress. He did this to attempt to dissuade
any dissenters and to give the illusion that this was a patriotic act. Well,
friends, this was nothing less than the lowest scheme to steal from our country and line his own pockets. In this "budget" there appears to be a disproportionate amount of money being earmarked for some very interesting items. $12 Billion for three new jet fighter programs, 42-ton Crusader artillery system and heavy destroyers (all of which were designed to attack Soviet forces that are no longer in existence). He also antes up for the unworkable discredited missile defense program to the tune of $7.8 Billion. Altogether, there is a $48 Billion increase in military spending. These dollars are not for servicemen/women, but for equipment. The kind of equipment that a certain sector of the economy makes a handy profit from supplying to our government. One of the companies that is most heavily vested in this industry is The Carlyle Group.
The following is a chart of the top 15 Defense Contractors for the United States in 1998:
Rank - 1
Contract/Equipment - 4,847,559,000
Other Services - 2,883,348,000
Supplies - 4,608,033,000
Total - 12,338,940,000
Contract/Equipment - 2,092,767,000
Other Services - 1,657,024,000
Supplies - 7,115,603,000
Total - 10,865,394,000
Contract/Equipment - 1,115,590,000
Other Services - 1,779,191,000
Supplies - 2,763,650,000
Total - 5,658,431,000
Contract/Equipment - 757,692,000
Other Services - 290,561,000
Supplies - 2,631,567,000
Total - 3,679,820,000
Contract/Equipment - 981,396,000
Other Services - 643,428,000
Supplies - 1,063,198,000
Total - 2,688,022,000
Contract/Equipment - 341,366,000
Other Services - 73,632,000
Supplies - 1,567,969,000
Total - 1,982,967,000
Contract/Equipment - 494,208,000
Other Services - 24,058,000
Supplies - 1,316,885,000
Total - 1,835,151,000
Contract/Equipment - 89,994,000
Other Services - 320,609,000
Supplies - 1,232,884,000
Total - 1,643,487,000
Newport News Shipbuilding
Contract/Equipment - 1,324,000
Other Services - 1,427,297,000
Supplies - 118,012,000
Total - 1,546,633,000
Contract/Equipment - 592,707,000
Other Services - 687,505,000
Supplies - 63,841,000
Total - 1,344,053,000
Contract/Equipment - 382,761,000
Other Services - 416,363,000
Supplies - 529,694,000
Total - 1,328,818,000
Contract/Equipment - 349,446,000
Other Services - 822,306,000
Supplies - 52,148,000
Total - 1,223,900,000
Contract/Equipment - 152,885,000
Other Services - 122,585,000
Supplies - 885,706,000
Total - 1,161,176,000
Contract/Equipment - 0
Other Services - 867,453,000
Supplies - 885,706,000
Total - 1,753,159,000
Contract/Equipment - 68,252,000
Other Services - 449,216,000
Supplies - 269,065,000
Total - 786,533,000
The number eleven on this list is The Carlyle Group. The Carlyle Group is comprised of private investors and its senior directors are such notable figures as George H. W. Bush (US President from 1988 - 1992, also the father of George W. Bush), James A. Baker III (Secretary of State under GHWB), Frank Carlucci (Secretary of Defense, Reagan Admin and college roommate of Donald Rumsfeld) and John Major (former UK Prime Minister).
One of the corporations owned and directed by The Carlyle Group is United Defense, which went public on December 14, 2001. United Defense is the maker of the Crusader, a 42-ton, self-propelled howitzer. This equipment has been in the sights of Pentagon budget cutters for years with the argument that it is a relic of the cold war era, too slow and heavy for today's warfare.
Last week, the Pentagon's own auditors admitted the military could not
account for some $2.3 trillion in transactions. Jim Minnery of the Defense
Finance and Accounting Service said "We know it's gone. But we don't
know what they spent it on." That $2.3 Trillion equals $8,000 for every
man, woman and child in America. This amount is just somewhat smaller than
one-half of the United States current debt. It is beyond comprehension that an entity could misplace such an amount and yet still our numerically challenged Chief Executive feels the need to increase the spending for 2003 by another $48 Billion.
It stands to reason that if The Carlyle Group makes money it will enrich
its owners. Each of us knows the conflict of dealing with family. We know
that if a family member approaches us with a favor that can be done, we
attempt to do it. Has George W. Bush answered to his father in helping to
keep the Crusader in a budget that is bloated and over-reaching? If GHW
Bush has a larger estate to pass to his children, made larger not only by the cessation of the estate tax under his son, George Walker Bush, but larger because of governmental contracts, our country needs to know.
George W. Bush has been busy trying to make presidential records secret. It is becoming the hallmark of his administration. If there were not conflicts in these dealings, why would George do this?
Is George W. Bush busy changing our money into his own?
Bridget Gibson is a contributing writer for Liberal Slant