27 April 2006

“Will Someone Please Give Bush a B--- J-- So We Can Impeach Him?”

I'm not sure how much of this is hype and how much is real. A friend on mine in California told me he had just heard about the following site on the radio. I've also attached some links related to Jefferson's Rules after the intial article and then a rather interesting commentary below that from the Itaca Journal, which is where I got the title for this post.

State legislators in Illinois and California have introduced resolutions (details below) to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

The Jefferson Manual of rules for the U.S. House of Representatives allows state legislatures to initiate impeachment proceedings by submitting charges to Congress.

In Vermont, Representative David Zuckerman plans to introduce a similar resolution this week. In Pennsylvania, State Senator Jim Ferlo is collecting signatures on petitions calling for Congress to launch an impeachment inquiry.

Eleven cities and towns have already passed resolutions calling for impeachment. At 9 a.m. on May 1, Ellen Tenney, a small business owner in Rockingham, VT, will lead a delegation presenting a number of these resolutions to House Speaker Dennis Hastert at his office, 235 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Here are some links:
http://www.inetresults.com/impeach/inquiry.html (this one is the INQUIRY OF IMPEACHMENT for Clinton and is informative)

The White House needs to be disinfected
Dave Rossie / Commentary
One day last week a wire photo found its way into this newsroom as I suspect it did in just about every newsroom in the country. I'm also quite sure it never made it into any newspaper.

The undatelined photo from wherever it was our nominal president happened to be that day showed a woman holding up a sign bearing the following message: “Will Someone Please Give Bush a B--- J-- So We Can Impeach Him?”

The message was a subtle reminder that it was a sexual act that got Bush's predecessor impeached, and a not so subtle reminder that Bush's numerous and far more egregious impeachable acts that have cost America thousands of lost and ruined lives and billions in treasure have so far gone unpunished.

That's what a lockstep, one-party majority in both the Senate and House can do for you. The intensely moral Tom DeLay, and those two adulterous frauds, Henry Hyde and Dan Burton, who pushed the House to impeach Clinton have been silent as the Sphinx on Bush's abuse of his office and the Constitution.

In DeLay's case it may be because God has yet to tell him if lying and spying rise to the level of oral sex. That and the fact that he is busy contemplating the possibility that the next time he and his buddy Jack Abramoff get together it won't be at St. Andrews Royal and Ancient, but a prison exercise yard.

Meanwhile, the damning evidence continues to pile up, not just around the Liar in Chief but every member of this appallingly corrupt administration. They have long gone past being a national embarrassment to the point where they pose a threat to the rest of the world.

When you've got a vice president and a defense secretary who think they can bomb their way to a new world order channeling through a puppet who thinks Armageddon is just around the corner anyway, you've got trouble right here in River City and everywhere else.

Clearly, the issue has gone beyond the point where it can be resolved by a simple impeachment. Impeaching Bush would do nothing more than compel Cheney to come out of the shadows and do publicly what he's been doing for the last five years anyway — running the country from behind the scenes. No, what is needed is a general housecleaning, from the top down.

How to do it? Perhaps with a dose of our own medicine. For more than 40 years, with a couple of intermissions, we've been telling one Third World country after another how to run its business and whom to elect. When they fail to comply we either bomb them, invade them or pay other people to invade them, or if they're too tough to invade, we impose sanctions on them.

What if the other great nations of the world — England, Germany, France, Italy, China, India, Japan , Canada, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Norway — most of which are governed by rational or at least semi-rational leaders, were to present us with an ultimatum: Stop throwing your weight around and putting us at risk of World War III and the nuclear holocaust that would accompany it, or we will show you sanctions such as you've never seen before. If you want to be an international pariah, do it on your own time and in your own backyard and leave the rest of the neighborhood alone.

Who knows? It might work. Nothing else has."


25 April 2006

Holographic Solar

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Holographic Solar
A novel approach to concentrating sunlight could cut solar panel costs.
By Prachi Patel-Predd
The main limitation of solar power right now is cost, because the crystalline silicon used to make most solar photovoltaic (PV) cells is very expensive. One approach to overcoming this cost factor is to concentrate light from the sun using mirrors or lenses, thereby reducing the total area of silicon needed to produce a given amount of electricity. But traditional light concentrators are bulky and unattractive -- less than ideal for use on suburban rooftops.

Now Prism Solar Technologies of Stone Ridge, NY, has developed a proof-of-concept solar module that uses holograms to concentrate light, possibly cutting the cost of solar modules by as much as 75 percent, making them competitive with electricity generated from fossil fuels.

The new technology replaces unsightly concentrators with sleek flat panels laminated with holograms. The panels, says Rick Lewandowski, the company's president and CEO, are a "more elegant solution" to traditional concentrators, and can be installed on rooftops -- or even incorporated into windows and glass doors.

The system needs 25 to 85 percent less silicon than a crystalline silicon panel of comparable wattage, Lewandowski says, because the photovoltaic material need not cover the entire surface of a solar panel. Instead, the PV material is arranged in several rows. A layer of holograms -- laser-created patterns that diffract light -- directs light into a layer of glass where it continues to reflect off the inside surface of the glass until it finds its way to one of the strips of PV silicon. Reducing the PV material needed could bring down costs from about $4 per watt to $1.50 for crystalline silicon panels, he says.

The company is expecting to pull in another $6 million from interested venture capitalists and start manufacturing its first-generation modules by the end of the year, selling them at about $2.40 per watt. Next-generation modules with more advanced technology should bring down the cost further.

In their ability to concentrate light, holograms are not as powerful as conventional concentrators. They can multiply the amount of light falling on the cells only by as much as a factor of 10, whereas lens-based systems can increase light by a factor of 100, and some even up to 1,000.

read the second page at the link above....

Energy Partnership: Pacific Asia and the Middle East

The last line of the last paragraph is informative...

Middle East Economic Survey
No 33
Energy Partnership: Pacific Asia and the Middle East
By Gawdat Bahgat

The following article by Dr Bahgat was written for MEES. Dr Bahgat is Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Department of Political Science, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA.

In January 2005 an unprecedented meeting between major Gulf oil producers and Asian oil consumers was held in the Indian capital, New Delhi. Energy ministers from Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, China, India, Japan, and South Korea discussed different proposals to consolidate oil and gas cooperation between the two sides. These include the development of an Asian petroleum market, mutual investments in upstream and downstream sectors, and building strategic petroleum storages. This gathering underscores a fundamental characteristic of the global oil market – the Gulf states are the major center of gravity on the supply side while Pacific Asian nations have become the major center of gravity on the demand side of the equation. The implications of this growing partnership on global energy markets and strategic ramifications are the main focus of this essay. The framework of the analysis can be summarized as follows:
For the next decade global oil markets will continue to reflect competition between four major producing regions – Russia, the Caspian Sea, West Africa, and the Middle East. On the consuming side the competition is mainly between the Pacific Asia, the US, and Western Europe.

Each of the consuming regions has forged an energy partnership with one or more of the producing areas. Europe receives substantial proportion of its oil and gas supplies from Russia. Since the early 2000s the US has sought to reduce its dependence on oil supplies from the Middle East and sought to increase imports from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, and West Africa. Finally, Pacific Asia’s skyrocketing demand is met, mainly, by supplies from the Gulf.

In the foreseeable future the Middle East, particularly the Gulf producers, will continue to be the driving force to ensure global energy security. The world will grow more dependent on oil supplies from the Middle East. The region has the hydrocarbon resources to meet growing global demand.

World oil market is well-integrated. The competition between various producers and consumers should not be seen in zero-sum terms. The source of oil matters less than the availability of supplies. In other words, in today’s oil market who buys and who sells one barrel of oil has little impact on energy security. Instead, the availability of adequate supplies significantly insures security and stability. Within this context, the developing energy partnership between Asian Pacific nations and Gulf producers should be seen as a positive step. It would enhance energy security for both sides and contribute to global economic stability and prosperity.
The following section examines the concept and implications of “energy security.” This will be followed by a brief analysis of the main characteristics of the energy sector in the Gulf producers and Pacific Asian consumers. Finally, the strategic environment and the geopolitical ramifications of the Asian/Gulf energy partnership will be examined.

Energy Security
Modern society has grown more dependent on energy in almost all human activities. Different forms of energy are essential in residential, industrial, and transportation sectors. Energy is also crucial in carrying out military operations. Indeed, the attempt to control oil resources was a major reason for the Second World War. In short, our increasing reliance on energy has heightened the importance of energy security. The first oil-shock in the aftermath of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war put energy security, and more specifically security of supply, at the heart of the energy policy agenda of most industrialized nations.1 Since then policy-makers and analysts have sought to define the concept “energy security” and its implications.

The European Commission defines energy security as “the ability to ensure that future essential energy needs can be met, both by means of adequate domestic resources worked under economically acceptable conditions or maintained as strategic reserves, and by calling upon accessible and stable external sources supplemented where appropriate by strategic stokcs.”2 Barton, Redgwell, Ronne and Zillman define it as “a condition in which a nation and all, or most, of its citizens and businesses have access to sufficient energy resources at reasonable prices for the foreseeable future free from serious risk of major disruption of service.”3 In short, energy security refers to sustainable and reliable supplies at reasonable prices. In this essay the concept energy security includes the following parameters:
The different threats to energy security include geopolitical, economic, technical, psychological, and environmental ones.

The definition of “security” embodies the element of “price” or achieving a state where the risk of rapid and intense fluctuation of prices is reduced or eliminated. Oil prices vary from country to country depending on several factors including the quality of crude, destination, taxes, exchange rates, and refining capacity, among others. For long time OPEC has played the role of swing producer. This means that when others, such as Russia, the Caspian, or West Africa, increase their production, OPEC reduces its share in order to prevent prices from falling. In addition, since the early 2000s, and until recently, OPEC observed a “price band”, which reflected the organization’s preferred price range.

Prices have a strong impact on the availability of funds to invest in exploration and development of oil resources. Energy security depends on sufficient levels of investment in resource development, generation capacity, and infrastructure to meet demand as it grows. Traditionally, high oil prices have led to accumulation of funds at the hands of national and international oil companies and more investments. Eventually, new investments add more supplies to the market and contribute to lower prices. Systematic under-investment characterized the oil industry in the 1990s due to stable oil prices, at low level since the mid-1980s. This under-investment contributed to shortage of supplies and higher prices since the early 2000s.

Spare capacity has traditionally played a significant role in temporary severe interruptions of oil supplies. Few OPEC producers, particularly Saudi Arabia, have purposefully maintained spare capacity to ensure stability in global markets. Global economic growth, particularly in Pacific Asia, has subjected the oil market to an unexpected demand shock that has practically eliminated spare capacity. Accordingly, the international oil industry has entered a period of fundamental change. In the mid-2000s spare capacity is at one of its lowest recorded levels.

Security of supplies can be enhanced by an overall diversification of supply. Put differently, the more producing regions the more stability in international oil markets. Thus, increasing supplies from Russia, the Caspian Sea, West Africa, and other regions would reduce the vulnerability of over-dependence on one single region. Wars, military operations, and political tension in the Middle East have prompted calls to reduce dependence on supplies from that region. Although the political situation in the Middle East provides many grounds for concern there has not been any major disruption of supplies from the region since the 1973-74 oil shock. Middle Eastern producers realized that imposing an oil embargo for political purposes was unproductive. In the following decades major producers have increased their production to compensate for any shortage resulting from political upheavals around the world.

From the perspective of producers, demand security also merits attention. Major resource holders have voiced their concern regarding long-term security of demand for their oil.4 This concern is based on two grounds. (a) The cyclical growth patterns and policies that dampen the demand for oil and favor other sources of energy. (b) OPEC producers have failed to diversify their economies and continued to be heavily dependent on oil revenues. Thus they are concerned about securing markets for their major source of income. Within this context, the growth of Asia’s oil demand is seen as a welcome development by OPEC producers.
To sum up, the globalization of oil markets suggests that rhetoric regarding the goal of self-sufficiency in energy is obsolete. Energy security is an international issue that requires growing interdependence between major producers and consumers. The skyrocketing demand for oil in Pacific Asia is a case-in-point.

Pacific Asia
A recent report issued by the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) predicts that the 21st century is likely to be the “Asian Century”. It argues that the emergence of China, India, and other Asian powers, is similar to the advent of a united Germany in the 19th century and a powerful US in the early 20th century.5 This rapid rise of Asia is driven by the incredible high and sustained economic growth the region has witnessed since the early 1990s, led by its fastest growing economies – China and India. Together the two nations have more than 2.2bn people, more than one-third of total world population. Finally, both China and India are nuclear powers and their military capabilities, both conventional and non-conventional, are on the rise. In short, Asia has the necessary “ingredient” to become a global power and is on its way to become a prominent player on the international scene.

Several characteristics can be identified in Asia’s energy outlook. First, Asia Pacific nations have very limited oil and natural gas reserves. Indeed, the region holds the lowest oil reserves and the third-lowest natural gas reserves in the world. Second, Pacific Asia has a huge and growing gap between its low oil and gas production and its consumption. Pacific Asia as a region produces only 10.2% of world oil and consumes 28.8%. The figures for natural gas are 11.9% and 13.3% respectively. These gaps are filled by imports from overseas, particularly from the Gulf. Third, like in Europe and the US, a substantial proportion of oil in Pacific Asia is used to meet the region’s rising transportation sector, particularly in China and India. The sustained high economic growth has led to soaring vehicle ownership. The number of vehicles in China in 1980 was less than 2mn. By 2002 it increased tenfold to almost 18mn. In India, vehicles totaled 10.7mn in 2000, an increase of 245 % since 1984.6

To sum up, despite some variation between Asian economies they all share a dominant characteristic – domestic oil and gas reserves are extremely limited and inadequate to meet their current and anticipated economic growth. They compete with each other and with other major consumers over hydrocarbon resources.

The Gulf
Currently energy interdependence between OPEC producers, particularly the Gulf states, and Pacific Asia is strong and is projected to grow further in the next few decades. Pacific Asia’s consumption of oil and natural gas is projected to grow faster than any other region in the world. On the other side of the energy equation, the Gulf region holds the largest oil and natural gas reserves, cheapest cost-production, direct access to global markets, overall well-developed energy infrastructure, and spare capacity. Indeed, the Gulf’s share in global oil production is much lower than its share in world’s oil reserve. In other words, the Gulf region is under-exploited while most other regions, particularly Russia, the North Sea, and the US, are over-exploited. Thus, it is widely projected that oil production from the Gulf will rise and the world will become more dependent on oil supplies from the region. Pacific Asia consumers already import most of their oil needs from the Gulf region.

Given these geological characteristics, Pacific Asia consumers have sought to further consolidate their energy partnership with the Gulf producers. In 1999 the Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited Saudi Arabia and announced the creation of a “strategic oil partnership” between the two nations. In 2004 China’s Sinopec, along with other international oil companies, signed an agreement to explore for natural gas in Saudi Arabia. In the same year Sinopec signed a memorandum of understanding to buy 250mn tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Iran over 30 years. Iran will also export 150,000 b/d of crude oil to China after Sinopec develops the Yadavaran field. Since 1994 Iran, India, and Pakistan have negotiated the construction of a pipeline to export natural gas from Iran to the two large Asian consumers. Japan also is involved in several oil schemes in the Gulf, particularly in Iran and Kuwait.

Energy Security: Lessons and Prospects
Several conclusions can be drawn from the foregoing discussion of energy outlooks in consuming and producing regions. First, the notion that energy security can be improved by reducing dependence on one particular region is unrealistic and misguided. The market for oil (and to a less extent for natural gas) is global and well-integrated. Second, given its geological characteristics, the Gulf region will continue to be the driving force in global oil markets and in ensuring energy security. Third, Pacific Asia’s growing energy needs suggests that its close energy ties with and dependence on the Gulf will further grow in the foreseeable future. Fourth, this growing energy interdependence between the two regions is likely to have political and strategic ramifications. Historically, nations with great energy demand have sought to secure their energy resources by forging close political and military ties with their oil and gas suppliers. Strategically, Asian powers such as China and India share similar stand with Gulf states on issues such as the legitimacy of using nuclear energy for civilian purposes, opposition to economic sanctions, and peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict that would guarantee Palestinian rights. Fifth, there has been growing speculation that China’s growing dependence on energy supplies from the Gulf might prompt Beijing to expand its naval power and a rivalry between the US (the largest oil importer) and China (the second largest oil importer) over the Gulf (the largest oil exporter) might start.

This essay argues against the last conclusion. The thrust of this study is that energy security should not be seen in zero-sum terms. Rather, continued dialogue and mutual understanding of common interests between consumers and producers will offer the appropriate conditions to establish and consolidate energy security. Within this context international organizations such as International Energy Forum (IEF) can play an important role in facilitating this cooperation.7

Why the Strategic Petroleum Reserve should remain intact

I think you might find the following article from 2004 enlightening. It's now almost two years later. The only situation that has changed is that the Saudi Empire is more fragile; the relationship with Venezuela is more tenuous. We are not doing more with the very rich Libyan crude and China, Russian and Iran have now signed a pact on energy while we are embroiled in nuclear threats to Iran. Oh, and Iran is still 20% below prewar production levels. If anything, perhaps we might be considering adding to the reserve. If you know a hurricane is brewing you don't start tearing pieces off your house to throw in the fireplace to burn. Otherwise the whole house gets destroyed IF the hurricane hits... just my ill informed opinion.

Prepared by the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security
July 12, 2004
Contact IAGS: info@iags.org
Why the SPR should remain intact
With oil prices hovering $40 per barrel, demand rising due to unprecedented consumption in China and India and terrorists threatening oil targets in the Middle East, the oil market today is shakier than ever. Were a major supply disruption to occur, most likely as a result of a catastrophic terror attack on a major oil facility in the Persian Gulf, there would be nothing but the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to stop the price of oil from going through the ceiling. Administered by the DOE, the energy security program designed to safeguard the U.S. economy from supply disruptions began collecting oil in 1977 and has the capacity to hold approximately 700 millions barrels. It was created as part of the International Energy Agency (IEA) decision that net oil importing countries are required to hold an emergency reserve equivalent to 90-days of usage.

As of June 2004, the SPR, which has already cost the U.S. $20 billion, held 661 million barrels of oil, about 94 percent of its full capacity. This oil, stored in limestone caves and salt domes in Texas and Louisiana, would cover in case of emergency just about 52 days of oil imports. According to the DOE, oil could be drawn from the SPR at a rate of 4.1 million barrels per day for the first three months, falling progressively after for the next seven months until reaching zero. Alternatively, it could be drawn down at a rate of 1 million barrels per day for a year and a half.

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), which governs the usage of the SPR, allows use of SPR oil for economic reasons. It has provided guidelines for three potential types of drawdown; Full drawdown, Limited drawdown, and Test sale. A full drawdown could be ordered by the president to counter "a severe energy supply interruption." The EPCA clarifies that this an interruption "of an emergency nature," and "of significant scope and duration." A Limited drawdown can be for other circumstances than those above, so long as the situation constitutes "a domestic or international energy supply shortage of significant scope or duration," and a drawdown would significantly assist in preventing or alleviating the impacts of a shortage. A limited drawdown, unlike a full drawdown, also holds the proviso that if there are fewer than 500 million barrels in the reserve, in no case can the drawdown be in excess of 30 million barrels, or for longer than 60 days. Finally a Test sale is just that, a test; that cannot exceed 5 million barrels.

Oil from the SPR has been used for emergency purposes only once, during the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

The IEA has made clear its position that the usage of these emergency stocks is for strategic purposes and "not intended to be deployed as a means to change the commercial terms in a market." But in the U.S, the stocks are at times treated as a tool to reduce petroleum prices when these go too high. In the late 1990s, Former President Clinton gave the order for a limited drawdown in order to alleviate some of the pressure on the economy. Fifteen million barrels were released. Now with gasoline prices in most parts of the nation well over $2 per gallon many argue that if the price of oil is not brought down, the economic recovery will come to a halt, and the U.S, if not the world, will find itself in a recession. Hence they are calling for the Bush administration to ease the market pressure by releasing oil from the SPR. Some like Jay Hakes, who headed the Energy Information Administration during the Clinton administration, think the government can offer some relief to consumers by withdrawing some oil from the SPR when prices are high and replenishing the stockpile when prices decline. Others, like presidential candidate Senator John Kerry, say the U.S should stop adding oil to the reserve while supplies are tight.

But the Bush administration has rejected the idea, saying the impact of suspending shipments to the reserve would be negligible. (The amount of oil going to the reserve has averaged 132,000 barrels a day, equivalent to about 10 minutes of the U.S.' daily appetite for crude.) Furthermore, the administration is concerned about the possibility of major terror attack against oil facilities in the Persian Gulf or even the possibility of seizure of Saudi oil fields by Islamic militants.

Following September 11, President Bush approved filling the reserve to its capacity of 700 million barrels and some members of the administration even propose to expand its capacity to 1 billion barrels. There are other reasons not to draw oil from the SPR at all in order to help the market. As the overall oil demand in China and India increases, it is unlikely that the drawdown of the SPR will bring the price down for long, if at all. In fact, if China and India decide to begin to go in the U.S.' footsteps and fill their own strategic reserves, the strain on the market would offset any benefit caused by a U.S. drawdown.

At times, the government may be forced to sell oil from the SPR at a lower rate, in order to drive the price further down. While this effect is not immediately recognized in the price at the pump, it will be recognized in the nation's deficit. Finally, releasing oil for political purposes would make matters worse by removing the incentive for private companies to carry inventories which could have major ramifications in the future.

Consequently, while the price of oil may be high, and is likely causing strain on the economy, it seems necessary in light of the situation in the Middle East to continue to fill the SPR and bring it to its full capacity. In light of OPEC's announced intent to raise the production ceiling twice over the summer it would be premature to perform a limited drawdown at this point in order to help the market.

At its current capacity, the SPR barely suffices to tide the U.S. economy over in case of a severe disruption of oil supplies. However, were the SPR expanded beyond its current capacity, and were Europe and Asia encouraged to establish similarly large oil banks, the SPR could begin to serve as a liquidity mechanism. While certainly costly in the short term, expanding the U.S., Europe, and Asia's SPR's to one billion barrels of oil each would have the long term benefit of detering OPEC from manipulating supply levels. The primary portion of each of those SPR's would serve as a blood bank to be accessed only in times of emergency, while the secondary reserves held in storage could be released at will to compensate for supply reductions on the part of OPEC. This would send a signal that the oil weapon can no longer be used to coerce oil consuming countries.

Gal Luft and Marcus Koblitz

20 April 2006

Global Dimming

Why the Sun seems to be 'dimming'
By David Sington
Thursday, 13 January 2005, 14:10 GMT
We are all seeing rather less of the Sun, according to scientists who have been looking at five decades of sunlight measurements.

They have reached the disturbing conclusion that the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth's surface has been gradually falling. Paradoxically, the decline in sunlight may mean that global warming is a far greater threat to society than previously thought. The effect was first spotted by Gerry Stanhill, an English scientist working in Israel.

Cloud changes
Comparing Israeli sunlight records from the 1950s with current ones, Dr Stanhill was astonished to find a large fall in solar radiation. "There was a staggering 22% drop in the sunlight, and that really amazed me." Intrigued, he searched records from all around the world, and found the same story almost everywhere he looked. Sunlight was falling by 10% over the USA, nearly 30% in parts of the former Soviet Union, and even by 16% in parts of the British Isles.

Although the effect varied greatly from place to place, overall the decline amounted to one to two per cent globally every decade between the 1950s and the 1990s. Dr Stanhill called it "global dimming", but his research, published in 2001, met a sceptical response from other scientists.

It was only recently, when his conclusions were confirmed by Australian scientists using a completely different method to estimate solar radiation, that climate scientists at last woke up to the reality of global dimming.
Dimming appears to be caused by air pollution. Burning coal, oil and wood, whether in cars, power stations or cooking fires, produces not only invisible carbon dioxide - the principal greenhouse gas responsible for global warming - but also tiny airborne particles of soot, ash, sulphur compounds and other pollutants.

This visible air pollution reflects sunlight back into space, preventing it reaching the surface. But the pollution also changes the optical properties of clouds. Because the particles seed the formation of water droplets, polluted clouds contain a larger number of droplets than unpolluted clouds.

Recent research shows that this makes them more reflective than they would otherwise be, again reflecting the Sun's rays back into space. Scientists are now worried that dimming, by shielding the oceans from the full power of the Sun, may be disrupting the pattern of the world's rainfall.

There are suggestions that dimming was behind the droughts in sub-Saharan Africa which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the 1970s and 80s. There are disturbing hints the same thing may be happening today in Asia, home to half the world's population. "My main concern is global dimming is also having a detrimental impact on the Asian monsoon," says Professor Veerhabhadran Ramanathan, professor of climate and atmospheric sciences at the University of California, San Diego. "We are talking about billions of people."

click the link above for more info...

18 April 2006

Am I being Chicken Little?

This week, U.S.News & World Report is convening its first-ever Health Summit in Washington, D.C., to examine the state of the nation's emergency preparedness. On the agenda: keynote addresses by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt.

At 2PM this afternoon the below panel convened. The discussion can be viewed on CSPAM at various times.

Bernadine Healy, M.D., health editor, U.S. News & World Report (moderator);
William K. Atkinson II, president and CEO, WakeMed (Raleigh, N.C.);
Georges Benjamin, M.D., F.A.C.P., executive director, American Public Health Association;
Arthur Kellermann, M.D., M.P.H., chairman, Dept. of Emergency Medicine, Emory University Hospital;
Thomas V. Inglesby, M.D., chief operating officer and deputy director, Center for Biosecurity, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
click the link above view a bunch of interactive stuff

Let's Talk Turkey
By Bernadine Healy
The greatest worry about the latest bird flu news is not that the H5N1 virus has taken root beyond eastern Asia into multiple provinces of Turkey. No, the real issue is that the deadly H5N1 virus seems to be changing its stripes. What's evident from the Turkish outbreak is that the virus is being more rapidly and efficiently transmitted from birds to humans than has been seen in the past. We don't know why. But preliminary studies of the genetic makeup of samples of the deadly virus last week confirm that the virus is mutating in a way that could make it an even more serious threat to human health...

A Dose of Reality
An eagerly awaited bird flu vaccine comes up short
By Josh Fischman
There is a protective shot against bird flu, researchers reported last week. An occasion for joy and relief? Not quite. The vaccine works only half the time, and it has to be given in such large amounts that there would not be enough to go around. Vaccine makers may be able to produce shots for only 75 million people, but "we'd want to protect close to 200 million" in the United States alone, says Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "We're not going to be ready." At least not with this vaccine version.
The shots were given to 451 healthy adults in the United States, doctors reported in last week's New England Journal of Medicine. They tried several different dose levels. The best results: If people were given two shots at a hefty 90 micrograms each, about half of them developed a strong immune response. By comparison, seasonal flu shots take just one injection at 15 micrograms. "It took 12 times the usual dose to protect half of the people who got it," says infectious disease specialist Gregory Poland, who runs the vaccine research group at the Mayo Clinic. "Clearly this isn't the answer."
But it may be a starting point, he adds, for there are ways to get a bigger bang with a smaller dose. Tests on this vaccine are now underway with adjuvants, added chemicals that can boost the immune response so vaccine makers can shrink the dose size and thus stretch the supply. "We should have answers in about six to 12 months," Poland says. "This is really a race against time."

Spreading Its Wings
It's only a matter of time before Bird flu reaches the United States. Can we stop the killer virus?
By Nancy Shute
Nebraska is on the famed Central Flyway, a route that millions of birds follow each year as they migrate from southern wintering grounds north to Alaska and the Arctic to breed. While there, the birds often mingle with birds from Asia, where H5N1 avian flu, widely regarded as the bug most likely to mutate and spark a human pandemic, is rampant. When the sandhills return in the fall, Hinrichs wonders, "what will they bring back?"

...But in the past year, avian influenza has started to kill wild birds, which had long been able to harbor the disease without getting sick. In April 2005, more than 6,000 bar-headed geese died at Qinghai Lake in central China, a congregating point for migratory fowl. That was a wake-up call to wildlife biologists; the last time avian influenza afflicted large numbers of wildfowl was in 1961. "That's the really surprising part of it, that wild birds are now being killed by this virus as well," says Leslie Dierauf, director of the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis. "It's changed somehow, and we're not sure how."

...In the past three months, the H5N1 virus has gone ballistic, infecting birds in 21 countries in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. It's unclear if the outbreaks are the result of bird migrations, poultry shipments, or other human activities. In some countries, like Nigeria, only poultry has been infected. In others, like Germany, only wild birds are dying. The uncertainty has set off a fierce battle between some wildlife conservationists, who feel that wild birds are being unfairly maligned, and agricultural interests.

What is the Economics of Climate Change?

The following report, complete with graphs can be found at the link above.

What is the Economics of Climate Change?
Discussion Paper
31 January 2006
Technical Annex The science of climate change
Our changing climate
1 We are seeing evidence of the greenhouse effect in practice. Measurements are compiled from thousands of weather stations all over the world – on land, from ships and buoys at sea, from balloon-borne sensors, and most recently from satellites. Together all these sources – now including satellite-derived data for the upper atmosphere1 – support the picture of a warming world.
2 The Earth has warmed by 0.7°C since 1900.2 All ten warmest years on record have occurred since 1994. The rate and scale of 20th century warming has been unprecedented for at least the past 1,000 years.3 The rate of sea level rise has doubled to 2 mm each year over the past 150 years.4 We can see the effects of this warming all around us - widespread retreat of mountain glaciers (very rapid retreats observed recently, e.g. Alaska – 14Km since 1980, Greenland – 5Km per year), decreased snow cover, and the lengthening of growing seasons in northern latitudes.5

You can find out more at the following:

Democratic Congressmen ask Bush about reports of US military operations in Iran

Democratic Congressmen ask Bush about reports of US military operations in Iran
Published: Monday April 17, 2006
Two Democratic Congressmen have written letters to President Bush on the heels of a growing number of news reports that American forces may have already begun military operations in Iran, RAW STORY has found.

Both House members express concern that if the stories are true, then the president may have acted unilaterally without first obtaining proper authorization from Congress.

"Recently, it has been reported that U.S. troops are conducting military operations in Iran," wrote Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) last Friday. Kucinich is the Ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations.

"If true, it appears that you have already made the decision to commit U.S. military forces to a unilateral conflict with Iran, even before direct or indirect negotiations with the government of Iran had been attempted, without UN support and without authorization from the U.S. Congress," Kucinich continued.

Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) intends to introduce a resolution "expressing the sense of the Congress that the President cannot initiate military action against Iran without congressional authorization" soon, and is forwarding his letter to other House members to collect additional signatures.

"We are writing to remind you that you are constitutionally bound to seek congressional authorization before launching any preventive military strikes against Iran," DeFazio writes.

Citing Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution ("The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into actual Service of the United States..."), DeFazio attacks the administration's frequent interpretation of the clause to historically justify unilateral military actions by presidents without authorization of Congress.

"Contrary to your Administration's broad reading, nothing in the history of the "Commander-in-Chief" clause suggests that the authors of the provision intended it to grant the Executive Branch the authority to engage U.S. forces in military action whenever and wherever it sees fit without any prior authorization from Congress," writes DeFazio.

"The founders of our country intended this power to allow the President to repel sudden attacks and immediate threats, not to unilaterally launch, without congressional approval, large-scale preventive military actions against foreign threats that are likely years away from materializing," DeFazio adds.

Text to both letters follow:

Kucinich's letter to President Bush:


Dear President Bush:

Recently, it has been reported that U.S. troops are conducting military operations in Iran. If true, it appears that you have already made the decision to commit U.S. military forces to a unilateral conflict with Iran, even before direct or indirect negotiations with the government of Iran had been attempted, without UN support and without authorization from the U.S. Congress.

The presence of U.S. troops in Iran constitutes a hostile act against that country. At a time when diplomacy is urgently needed, it escalates an international crisis. It undermines any attempt to negotiate with the government of Iran. And it will undermine U.S. diplomatic efforts at the U.N.

Furthermore, it places U.S. troops occupying neighboring Iraq in greater danger. The achievement of stability and a transition to Iraqi security control will be compromised, reversing any progress that has been cited by the Administration.

It would be hard to believe that such an imprudent decision had been taken, but for the number and variety of sources confirming it. In the last week, the national media have reported that you have in fact commenced a military operation in Iran. Today, retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner related on CNN that the Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA, Aliasghar Soltaniyeh, reported to him that the Iranians have captured dissident forces who have confessed to working with U.S. troops in Iran. Earlier in the week, Seymour Hersh reported that a U.S. source had told him that U.S. marines were operating in the Baluchi, Azeri and Kurdish regions of Iran.

Any military deployment to Iran would constitute an urgent matter of national significance. I urge you to report immediately to Congress on all activities involving American forces in Iran. I look forward to a prompt response.

Sincerely, Dennis J. Kucinich Member of Congress


DeFazio's letter to President Bush:


Dear President Bush:

We are concerned by the growing number of stories that your Administration is planning for military action against Iran. We are writing to remind you that you are constitutionally bound to seek congressional authorization before launching any preventive military strikes against Iran.

As you know, Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power "to declare war," to lay and collect taxes to "provide for the common defense" and general welfare of the United States, to "raise and support armies," to "provide and maintain a navy," to "make rules for the regulation for the land and naval forces," to "provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions," to "provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia," and to "make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution...all...powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States." Congress is also given exclusive power over the purse. The Constitution says, "No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law."

By contrast, the sole war powers granted to the Executive Branch through the President can be found in Article II, Section 2, which states, "The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into actual Service of the United States..."

Your Administration has argued that this "Commander-in-Chief" clause grants the President wide latitude to engage U.S. military forces abroad without prior authorization from Congress. You further argue that previous unilateral actions by presidents of both political parties add credence to your interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

Contrary to your Administration's broad reading, nothing in the history of the "Commander-in-Chief" clause suggests that the authors of the provision intended it to grant the Executive Branch the authority to engage U.S. forces in military action whenever and wherever it sees fit without any prior authorization from Congress. The founders of our country intended this power to allow the President to repel sudden attacks and immediate threats, not to unilaterally launch, without congressional approval, large-scale preventive military actions against foreign threats that are likely years away from materializing. With respect to Iran, according to the most definitive U.S. intelligence report, Iran is likely a decade away from developing a nuclear weapon. Even the most pessimistic analysis by outside experts puts the timeline at least three years away, but that's only if everything in Iran's development program proceeds flawlessly, which would defy the history of nuclear programs around the world, including Iran's.

The architects of the U.S. Constitution were well aware of government models, like the monarchy in Great Britain, which vested the power to go to war with the head of state. Instead, the Founding Fathers made a conscious decision to grant the solemn war-making powers to the Legislative Branch. The intent of the authors of the U.S. Constitution is clear.

In the Federalist Paper Number 69, while comparing the lesser war-making power of the U.S. president versus the King of Great Britain, Alexander Hamilton wrote, "...the President is to be commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the King of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war and to raising and regulating of fleets and armies, all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature."

James Madison declared that it is necessary to adhere to the "fundamental doctrine of the Constitution that the power to declare war is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature."

In 1793, President George Washington, when considering how to protect inhabitants of the American frontier, instructed his Administration that "no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after [Congress] have deliberated upon the subject, and authorized such a measure."

In 1801, Thomas Jefferson sent a small squadron of frigates to the Mediterranean to protect against possible attacks by the Barbary powers. He told Congress that he was "unauthorized by the Constitution, without the sanction of Congress, to go beyond the line of defense." He further noted that it was up to Congress to authorize "measures of offense also."

While presidents in the latter half of the 20th Century have initiated military action without prior authorization by Congress, "everybody does it" is not a legitimate defense to ignore the plain words of the U.S. Constitution, the clear intent of the authors of the U.S. Constitution, and more than 150 years of legal precedent.

We also want to go on record that the Authorization of Force Resolution (Public Law 107-40) approved by Congress to go after those responsible for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on our country does not, explicitly or implicitly, extend to authorizing military action against Iran over its nuclear program. The legislation specifically says, "The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations, or persons." There is no evidence that Iran was involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks. Nor is there any evidence that Iran harbored those who were responsible for the attacks.

Further, the Authorization of Force Resolution (Public Law 107-243) approved by Congress to go to war with Iraq does not extend to military action against Iran over its nuclear program. This resolution only authorized you to "(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq." Like P.L. 107-40, there is no explicit or implicit authorization on the part of Congress in P.L. 107-243 that would allow you to attack Iran without first coming to Congress to seek a new authorization.

When asked about reports of your administration planning for war with Iran, you said on April 10, 2006, "It [prevention] doesn't mean force, necessarily. In this case, it means diplomacy." We agree with the focus on diplomacy. But, we want to be clear, should you decide that force is necessary, seeking congressional authority prior to taking military action against Iran is not discretionary. It is legally and constitutionally necessary.

Sincerely, PETER DeFAZIO Member of Congress

The Israel Lobby

Breaking the silence
The overwrought response to John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's brave paper only confirms its thesis.
By Juan Cole

April 18, 2006 | John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government have put their hands into a hornet's nest with their paper in the London Review of Books, titled "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy." (http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/mear01_.html)

As political scientists who routinely analyze U.S. foreign policy, they have gained a reputation for lucid and principled argument, but outside the halls of academia are not exactly household names. In daring to simply describe the well-known operations of the Israel lobby, however, they have made themselves targets of a massive smear campaign. Ironically, this reaction is just what their paper predicted.

Fair and gentlemanly to a fault, and widely respected in their discipline, the two professors are impossible to imagine as fire-breathing racial bigots, devious purveyors of blatant falsehoods or wild-eyed conspiracy theorists prone to ignore obvious evidence, but these are the sort of epithets being hurled at them by their critics.

In "The Israel Lobby," Mearsheimer and Walt argue that U.S. policy toward the Middle East has been dangerously skewed by a powerful pro-Israel lobby, which inhibits free discussion of the issues and has made the pro-Israeli position a political sacred cow. Congress, they point out, virtually never criticizes Israel: It is an untouchable subject. And this taboo has had enormous consequences, which are themselves off limits for discussion. Because America's blank-check support for Israel arouses enormous Arab and Muslim rage, Israel is a strategic liability, not an asset.....

Nor, Mearsheimer and Walt argue, is there any moral reason for America to act against its own interests by supporting Israel come what may. Citing distinguished Israeli historians and journalists, they demythologize Israel's history, demonstrating that the root of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the historical fact that "the creation of Israel entailed a moral crime against the Palestinian people" -- a crime that Israel's founders explicitly acknowledged, and that has never been rectified. They discuss Israel's illegal, almost 40-year-old occupation and colonization of Palestinian land, and its flawed democracy, which explicitly discriminates against Arabs.

In an April 9 Op-Ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette titled "Of Course There Is an Israel Lobby," ambassador Edward Peck wrote, "Knowing the fiercely negative reactions to accurate, detailed reporting of controversies surrounding Israel, the media fail to cover Israel's violations of every principle for which the United States -- and Israel -- loudly proclaim they stand. There is only rare, skimpy coverage of the ongoing Israeli mass punishments, house demolitions, illegal settlements, assassinations, settler brutality, curfews and beatings. On the other hand, the blind Palestinian rage generated by decades of receiving humiliating, savage suppression in their homeland is reported in lurid, bloody detail."....

Anyone who has spent any time in the Arab or Muslim world knows that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and America's support for Israel's unjust treatment of the Palestinians, are the main sources of anger at America and have been for decades. In a recent Zogby poll, one question that was asked of Arab publics was whether their dislike of the United States was because of its values or its policies. Here are the percentages that said it was because of U.S. policies in the region: Jordan, 76; Morocco, 79; Lebanon, 80; Saudi Arabia, 86; United Arab Emirates, 75; Egypt, 90. Another question was why people thought the U.S. invaded and occupied Iraq. Here are the percentages for those who believed it was to "protect Israel": Jordan, 64; Morocco, 82; Lebanon, 82; Saudi Arabia, 44; Egypt, 92. That is, not only are Americans disliked for their invasion of an Arab country, but the Arab public generally attributes the assault to a desire to protect Israel. All those instances when the Americans vetoed U.N. Security Council censures of Israel for its predations against Palestinians or neighbors, all those tens of billions of dollars in aid the U.S. gave Israel, all the times it winked at atrocities such as the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and indiscriminate shelling of Beirut have added up over time.

Arabs and Muslims like Americans and democracy just fine in principle. What they don't like is U.S. foreign policy. Their main grievance before 2003 was of U.S. complicity in the dispossession of the Palestinians. Now they have another major objection, the U.S. occupation of Iraq -- and they clearly see the two as related. I am not arguing that the Arab public is correct, only that critics are blind if they cannot see that it is knee-jerk U.S. support for the worst Israeli policies that has soured Arabs and Muslims on the United States. To avoid accepting this conclusion, we would have to believe that they have consistently lied to pollsters for decades, and we would have to take it upon ourselves to represent the Arabs and Muslims, since they cannot represent themselves.

None of this is hard to understand. The United States is not generally hated by, say, Thais, or Paraguayans, or Cameroonians. This is because we have not done anything to them. We have, however, abetted an epochal wrong against the Palestinian people, with whom Arabs and Muslims feel a similar kinship to that felt by mid-19th century Americans with the Texans trapped at the Alamo. For obvious reasons, an open discussion of the causes and consequences of their anger against us is vital for our national security.

When Ben Franklin exited the Constitutional Convention, he was asked what kind of government the United States would have. "A republic, if you can keep it," he is said to have replied. If we cannot even discuss the shape of U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East without a lynch mob forming, we won't be able to keep it.

The original article is located here:

You might also find the following review useful as it provides some balance:
Is the "Israel lobby" distorting America's Mideast policies?
Two leading academics have tried to break the taboo against criticizing Israel's powerful U.S. lobby. It's a worthy aim, but their clumsy argument may backfire.
By Michelle Goldberg

..."There is virtually no evidence that oil was an important cause of the Iraq war," Mearsheimer says. "It is an intuitively plausible argument, but when you look for evidence that the oil companies were pushing for war, or that Paul Wolfowitz was thinking in terms of oil as a geopolitical weapon, you cannot find it. Instead, you find lots of evidence that the neoconservatives and the leaders of the Lobby were pushing hard for war against Iraq."

In fact, though, such evidence does exist -- it has been compiled by Paul Roberts, author of "The End of Oil," by analysts like James Paul of the Global Policy Forum, and by Kevin Phillips in "American Theocracy." Phillips quotes James Akins, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, saying, "what they [the Bush administration] have in mind is denationalization, and then parceling Iraqi oil out to American oil companies. The American oil companies are going to be the main beneficiaries of this war." In his memoir "The Right Man," David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter and neocon par excellence, wrote that Bush's campaign to bring freedom to the Middle East would also "bring new prosperity to us all, by securing the world's largest pool of oil."

"One could go on and on in this way, listing logical errors and over-generalizations. And that's unfortunate, because it clouds what is valuable in "The Israel Lobby." Walt and Mearsheimer are correct, after all, in arguing that discussion about Israel is hugely circumscribed in mainstream American media and politics. Citing the liberal, pro-Israel journalist Eric Alterman, they write that the public debate among Middle East pundits "is dominated by people who cannot imagine criticizing Israel. [Alterman] lists 61 columnists and commentators who can be counted upon to support Israel reflexively and without qualification. Conversely, Alterman found just five pundits who consistently criticize Israeli behavior or endorse pro-Arab positions. Newspapers occasionally publish guest op-eds challenging Israeli policy, but the balance of opinion clearly favors the other side." A person who got all their information from the American media would have little idea about the ways Jewish settlers continue to appropriate land in the West Bank, harassing local Palestinian farmers and uprooting their crops. Indeed, one can find far more critical coverage of the Israeli occupation in liberal Israeli newspapers like Haaretz than in any American daily."


17 April 2006

Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy

"Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy"
by Bartlett, Bruce
George W. Bush came to the presidency in 2000 claiming to be the heir of Ronald Reagan. But while he did cut taxes, in most other respects he has governed in a way utterly unlike his revered predecessor, expanding the size and scope of government, letting immigration go unchecked, and allowing the federal budget to mushroom out of control.
Despite their strong misgivings, most conservatives remained silent during Bush's first term. But a series of missteps and scandals, culminating in the ill-conceived nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, has brought this hidden rift within the conservative movement crashing to the surface.
Now, in what is sure to be the political book of the season, Bruce Bartlett lays bare the incompetence and profligacy of Bush's economic policies. A highly respected Washington economist--and true-believing Reaganite--Bartlett started out as a supporter of Bush and helped him craft his tax cuts. But he was dismayed by the way they were executed. Reagan combined his tax cuts with fiscal restraint, but Bush has done the opposite. Bartlett thus reluctantly concluded that Bush is not a Reaganite at all, but an unprincipled opportunist who will do whatever he or his advisers think is expedient to buy votes.
In this sober, thorough, and utterly devastating book, Bartlett attacks the Bush Administration's economic performance root and branch, from the "stovepiping" of its policy process to the coercive tactics used to ram its policies through Congress, to the effects of the policies themselves. He is especially hard on Bush's enormous new Medicare entitlement...and predicts that within a few years, Bush's tax cuts and unrestricted spending willproduce an economic crisis that will require a major tax increase, probably in the form of a European-style VAT.
Bartlett has surprisingly kind words for Bill Clinton, whose record on the budget was far better than Bush's. Whatever else one may think of him, Bartlett argues, Clinton cut spending, abolished a federal entitlement program, and left a budget surplus. By contrast, Bush has increased spending, created a massive entitlement program, and produced the biggest deficits in American history.
In fact, Bartlett concludes, Bush is less like Reagan than like Nixon: an arch-conservative Republican, bitterly hated by liberals, who vainly tried to woo moderates by enacting big parts of the liberal program. It didn't work then, and it won't work now--and may have similar harmful effects for the GOP."

I am quite sure that this book will eventually be burned so you better grab it.

oh, and you may want to read the authors comments:

Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries

Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries
Posted May 31, 2005
HUMAN EVENTS asked a panel of 15 conservative scholars and public policy leaders to help us compile a list of the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Each panelist nominated a number of titles and then voted on a ballot including all books nominated. A title received a score of 10 points for being listed No. 1 by one of our panelists, 9 points for being listed No. 2, etc. Appropriately, The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, earned the highest aggregate score and the No. 1 listing.

1. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels
2. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
3. Quotations from Chairman Mao by Mao Zedong
4. The Kinsey Report by Alfred Kinsey
5. Democracy and Education by John Dewey
6. Das Kapital by Karl Marx
7. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
8. The Course of Positive Philosophy by Auguste Comte
9. Beyond Good and Evil by Freidrich Nietzsche
10. General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes

Honorable Mention
The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich
What Is To Be Done by V.I. Lenin
Authoritarian Personality by Theodor Adorno
On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
Beyond Freedom and Dignity by B.F. Skinner
Reflections on Violence by Georges Sorel
The Promise of American Life by Herbert Croly
The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Madness and Civilization by Michel Foucault
Soviet Communism: A New Civilization by Sidney and Beatrice Webb
Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead
Unsafe at Any Speed by Ralph Nader
Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
Prison Notebooks by Antonio Gramsci
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
The Greening of America by Charles Reich
The Limits to Growth by Club of Rome
Descent of Man by Charles Darwin

Just think, you could subscribe to this website and get a free book:
The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America
By: David Horowitz
Bestselling author David Horowitz reveals a shocking and perverse culture of academics who are poisoning the minds of today's college students. The Professors is a wake-up call to all those who assume that a college education is sans hatred of America and the American military and support for America's terrorist enemies.

This is the guy offering money to students who report their professors as being subversive!

Wonder when we're going to hear about the book burnings starting?

FAHRENHEIT 451: The temperature at which paper catches fire and burns.
"How inconvenient! Always before it had been like snuffing a candle. The police went first and adhesive-taped the victim's mouth and bandaged him off into their glittering beetle cars, so when you arrived you found an empty house. You weren't hurting anyone, you were hurting only things! And since things really couldn't be hurt, since things felt nothing, and things don't scream or whimper, as this woman might begin to scream and cry out, there was nothing to tease your conscience later. You were simply cleaning up. Janitorial work, essentially. Everything to its proper place. Quick with the kerosene! Who's got a match!"

Do you think my son is going to be offered money to burn "The Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin? Who are THESE people and what in god's name are they smoking?

16 April 2006


Is it too late for the Administration to correct its course in Iraq?
Issue of 2006-04-10
Posted 2006-04-0

This is just an excerpt of an excellent article. I would seggest reading it in it's original at the link above.


Colonel H. R. McMaster, the commander o the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, is forty-three years old, a small man, thick in th middle, with black eyebrows that are the onl signs of hair on a pale, shaved head. Hi features are deeply furrowed across the bro and along the nose, as if his head had bee shaped from modelling clay; but when he grin mischief creases his face, and it’s easy t imagine him as an undaunted ten-year-old marching around and giving orders in his ow private war. The first time I saw him, he had football in his hands and was throwing har spirals to a few other soldiers next to hi plywood headquarters, on a muddy airfield few miles south of Tal Afar
McMaster and the 3rd A.C.R. had been stationed in Tal Afar for nine months. When they arrived, in the spring of 2005, the city was largely in the hands of hard-core Iraqi and foreign jihadis, who, together with members of the local Sunni population, had destabilized the city with a campaign of intimidation, including beheadings aimed largely at Tal Afar’s Shiite minority. By October, after months of often fierce fighting and painstaking negotiations with local leaders, McMaster’s regiment, working alongside Iraqi Army battalions, had established bases around the city and greatly reduced the violence. When I met McMaster, his unit was about to return home; the men were to be replaced by a brigade of the 1st Armored Division that had no experience in Tal Afar, and no one knew if the city would remain secure. (Within weeks, there were reports that sectarian killings were on the rise.)
The lessons that McMaster and his soldiers applied in Tal Afar were learned during the first two years of an increasingly unpopular war. “When we came to Iraq, we didn’t understand the complexity—what it meant for a society to live under a brutal dictatorship, with ethnic and sectarian divisions,” he said, in his hoarse, energetic voice. “When we first got here, we made a lot of mistakes. We were like a blind man, trying to do the right thing but breaking a lot of things.” Later, he said, “You gotta come in with your ears open. You can’t come in and start talking. You have to really listen to people.”
McMaster is a West Point graduate who earned a Silver Star for battlefield prowess during the 1991 Gulf War: his armored cavalry troop stumbled across an Iraqi mechanized brigade in the middle of a sandstorm and destroyed it. That war was a textbook case of what the military calls “kinetic operations,” or major combat in relatively uncomplicated circumstances; the field of battle was almost easier, some Gulf War veterans say, than the live-fire exercises at the National Training Center, in Fort Irwin, California. After the war, McMaster earned a doctorate in history from the University of North Carolina. His dissertation, based on research in newly declassified archives, was published in 1997, with the title “Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam.” The book assembled a damning case against senior military leaders for failing to speak their minds when, in the early years of the war, they disagreed with Pentagon policies. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, knowing that Johnson and McNamara wanted uncritical support rather than honest advice, and eager to protect their careers, went along with official lies and a split-the-difference strategy of gradual escalation that none of them thought could work. “Dereliction of Duty” won McMaster wide praise, and its candor inspired an ardent following among post-Vietnam officers.

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"Bird flu spreads and becomes a serious threat to poultry operations; Federal gov't orders cull of poultry in designated areas." posted 14 April.

Documents Show Link Between AT&T and Agency in Eavesdropping Case

April 13, 2006
Documents Show Link Between AT&T and Agency in Eavesdropping Case

SAN FRANCISCO, April 12 — Mark Klein was a veteran AT&T technician in 2002 when he began to see what he thought were suspicious connections between that telecommunications giant and the National Security Agency. But he kept quiet about it until news broke late last year that President Bush had approved an N.S.A. program to eavesdrop without court warrants on Americans suspected of ties to Al Qaeda.

Now Mr. Klein and a few company documents he saved have emerged as key elements in a class-action lawsuit filed against AT&T on Jan. 31 by a civil liberties group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The suit accuses the company of helping the security agency invade its customers' privacy. Mr. Klein's account and the documents provide new details about how the agency works with the private sector in intercepting communications for intelligence purposes.

The documents, some of which Mr. Klein had earlier provided to reporters, describe a mysterious room at the AT&T Internet and telephone hub in San Francisco where he worked. The documents, which were examined by four independent telecommunications and computer security experts at the request of The New York Times, describe equipment capable of monitoring a large quantity of e-mail messages, Internet phone calls, and other Internet traffic.

The equipment, which Mr. Klein said was installed by AT&T in 2003, was able to select messages that could be identified by keywords, Internet or e-mail addresses or country of origin and divert copies to another location for further analysis. The security agency began eavesdropping without warrants on international phone calls and e-mail messages of people inside the United States suspected of terrorist links soon after the Sept. 11 attacks.

After disclosing the program last December, The New York Times also reported that the agency had gathered data from phone and e-mail traffic with the cooperation of several major telecommunications companies. The technical experts all said that the documents showed that AT&T had an agreement with the federal government to systematically gather information flowing on the Internet through the company's network.

The gathering of such information, known as data mining, involves the use of sophisticated computer programs to detect patterns or glean useful intelligence from masses of information. "This took expert planning and hundreds of millions of dollars to build," said Brian Reid, director of engineering at the Internet Systems Consortium in Redwood City, Calif. "This is the correct way to do high volume Internet snooping."

Another expert, who had designed large federal and commercial data networks, said that the documents were consistent with administration assertions that the N.S.A. monitored only foreign communications and communications between foreign and United States locations, partly because of the location of the monitoring sites. The network designer was granted anonymity because he believed that commenting on the operation could affect his ability to work as a consultant.

The documents referred to a second location, in Atlanta, and suggested similar rooms might exist at other AT&T switching sites. Mr. Klein said other AT&T technicians had told him of such installations in San Jose, Calif.; Los Angeles; San Diego; and Seattle.

The Internet hubs there carry a significant amount of international traffic. The network designer and other experts said it would be a simple technical matter to reprogram the equipment to intercept purely domestic Internet traffic. The Department of Justice initially asked the Electronic Frontier Foundation not to file Mr. Klein's documents in court, but a review determined that they were not classified and the government dropped its objection. The foundation filed the documents under seal because of concern about releasing proprietary information.

On Monday, AT&T filed a motion with a federal judge in San Francisco asking the court to order the foundation to return the documents because they were proprietary. The documents showed that the room in San Francisco, which Mr. Klein says was off-limits to most employees but serviced by a company technician working with the security agency, contained computerized equipment that could sift through immense volumes of traffic as it passed through the cables of AT&T's WorldNet Internet service.

According to the documents, e-mail messages and other data carried by 16 other commercial Internet providers reached AT&T customers through the San Francisco hub. One piece of filtering equipment described in the documents was manufactured by Narus, based in Mountain View, Calif. The equipment could be programmed to identify and intercept voice or data conversations between e-mail, telephone or Internet addresses, said Steve Bannerman, the company's vice president for marketing.

Buyers included companies trying to comply with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which requires that communications systems have a wiretapping capability built in. Typically, law enforcement interceptions are done on a case by case basis and require warrants.

Mr. Bannerman said he could not comment further because Narus had not announced any sales to the federal government. William P. Crowell, a former deputy director of the N.S.A, is on the Narus board. In an interview, Mr. Klein said he did not have a security clearance but had witnessed interactions between colleagues who did have clearances and the highly secretive N.S.A. "It was strange and sort of suspicious," he said. Mr. Klein said he learned of an agency connection to the mysterious room in 2002 when a company manager told him to expect a visit from an N.S.A. official who wanted to speak with another senior company technician about "a special job." That technician later installed the equipment in the room, he said.

Based on his observations and technical knowledge, Mr. Klein concluded that the equipment permitted "vacuum-cleaner surveillance" of Internet traffic. Mr. Klein, 60, who retired in 2004 after 23 years with AT&T and lives near Oakland, Calif., said he decided to make his observations known because he believed the government's monitoring was violating Americans' civil liberties.

An AT&T spokesman at the company's corporate headquarters in San Antonio declined to comment on Mr. Klein's statements. "AT&T does follow all laws with respect to assistance offered to government agencies," said Walt Sharp, the AT&T spokesman. "However, we are not in a position to comment on matters of national security." Asked to comment, Don Weber, a spokesman for the N.S.A., said, "It would be irresponsible of us to discuss actual or alleged operational issues as it would give those wishing to do harm to the United States the ability to adjust and potentially inflict harm."

John Markoff reported from San Francisco for this article, and Scott Shane from Washington.


Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?
Issue of 2006-04-17
Posted 2006-04-08

The Bush Administration, while publicl advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran fro pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increase clandestine activities inside Iran and intensifie planning for a possible major air attack. Curren and former American military and intelligenc officials said that Air Force planning groups ar drawing up lists of targets, and teams o American combat troops have been ordere into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting dat and to establish contact with anti-governmen ethnic-minority groups. The officials say tha President Bush is determined to deny th Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilo program, planned for this spring, to enric uranium
American and European intelligence agencies, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.), agree that Iran is intent on developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. But there are widely differing estimates of how long that will take, and whether diplomacy, sanctions, or military action is the best way to prevent it. Iran insists that its research is for peaceful use only, in keeping with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that it will not be delayed or deterred.
There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ”
A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”
One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.” He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ”
The rationale for regime change was articulated in early March by Patrick Clawson, an Iran expert who is the deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and who has been a supporter of President Bush. “So long as Iran has an Islamic republic, it will have a nuclear-weapons program, at least clandestinely,” Clawson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 2nd. “The key issue, therefore, is: How long will the present Iranian regime last?”
When I spoke to Clawson, he emphasized that “this Administration is putting a lot of effort into diplomacy.” However, he added, Iran had no choice other than to accede to America’s demands or face a military attack. Clawson said that he fears that Ahmadinejad “sees the West as wimps and thinks we will eventually cave in. We have to be ready to deal with Iran if the crisis escalates.” Clawson said that he would prefer to rely on sabotage and other clandestine activities, such as “industrial accidents.” But, he said, it would be prudent to prepare for a wider war, “given the way the Iranians are acting. This is not like planning to invade Quebec.”
One military planner told me that White House criticisms of Iran and the high tempo of planning and clandestine activities amount to a campaign of “coercion” aimed at Iran. “You have to be ready to go, and we’ll see how they respond,” the officer said. “You have to really show a threat in order to get Ahmadinejad to back down.” He added, “People think Bush has been focussed on Saddam Hussein since 9/11,” but, “in my view, if you had to name one nation that was his focus all the way along, it was Iran.” (In response to detailed requests for comment, the White House said that it would not comment on military planning but added, “As the President has indicated, we are pursuing a diplomatic solution”; the Defense Department also said that Iran was being dealt with through “diplomatic channels” but wouldn’t elaborate on that; the C.I.A. said that there were “inaccuracies” in this account but would not specify them.)
“This is much more than a nuclear issue,” one high-ranking diplomat told me in Vienna. “That’s just a rallying point, and there is still time to fix it. But the Administration believes it cannot be fixed unless they control the hearts and minds of Iran. The real issue is who is going to control the Middle East and its oil in the next ten years.”
A senior Pentagon adviser on the war on terror expressed a similar view. “This White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war,” he said. The danger, he said, was that “it also reinforces the belief inside Iran that the only way to defend the country is to have a nuclear capability.” A military conflict that destabilized the region could also increase the risk of terror: “Hezbollah comes into play,” the adviser said, referring to the terror group that is considered one of the world’s most successful, and which is now a Lebanese political party with strong ties to Iran. “And here comes Al Qaeda.”
In recent weeks, the President has quietly initiated a series of talks on plans for Iran with a few key senators and members of Congress, including at least one Democrat. A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, who did not take part in the meetings but has discussed their content with his colleagues, told me that there had been “no formal briefings,” because “they’re reluctant to brief the minority. They’re doing the Senate, somewhat selectively.”
The House member said that no one in the meetings “is really objecting” to the talk of war. “The people they’re briefing are the same ones who led the charge on Iraq. At most, questions are raised: How are you going to hit all the sites at once? How are you going to get deep enough?” (Iran is building facilities underground.) “There’s no pressure from Congress” not to take military action, the House member added. “The only political pressure is from the guys who want to do it.” Speaking of President Bush, the House member said, “The most worrisome thing is that this guy has a messianic vision.”
Some operations, apparently aimed in part at intimidating Iran, are already under way. American Naval tactical aircraft, operating from carriers in the Arabian Sea, have been flying simulated nuclear-weapons delivery missions—rapid ascending maneuvers known as “over the shoulder” bombing—since last summer, the former official said, within range of Iranian coastal radars.
Last month, in a paper given at a conference on Middle East security in Berlin, Colonel Sam Gardiner, a military analyst who taught at the National War College before retiring from the Air Force, in 1987, provided an estimate of what would be needed to destroy Iran’s nuclear program. Working from satellite photographs of the known facilities, Gardiner estimated that at least four hundred targets would have to be hit. He added:
I don’t think a U.S. military planner would want to stop there. Iran probably has two chemical-production plants. We would hit those. We would want to hit the medium-range ballistic missiles that have just recently been moved closer to Iraq. There are fourteen airfields with sheltered aircraft. . . . We’d want to get rid of that threat. We would want to hit the assets that could be used to threaten Gulf shipping. That means targeting the cruise-missile sites and the Iranian diesel submarines. . . . Some of the facilities may be too difficult to target even with penetrating weapons. The U.S. will have to use Special Operations units.
One of the military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites. One target is Iran’s main centrifuge plant, at Natanz, nearly two hundred miles south of Tehran. Natanz, which is no longer under I.A.E.A. safeguards, reportedly has underground floor space to hold fifty thousand centrifuges, and laboratories and workspaces buried approximately seventy-five feet beneath the surface. That number of centrifuges could provide enough enriched uranium for about twenty nuclear warheads a year. (Iran has acknowledged that it initially kept the existence of its enrichment program hidden from I.A.E.A. inspectors, but claims that none of its current activity is barred by the Non-Proliferation Treaty.) The elimination of Natanz would be a major setback for Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but the conventional weapons in the American arsenal could not insure the destruction of facilities under seventy-five feet of earth and rock, especially if they are reinforced with concrete.
There is a Cold War precedent for targeting deep underground bunkers with nuclear weapons. In the early nineteen-eighties, the American intelligence community watched as the Soviet government began digging a huge underground complex outside Moscow. Analysts concluded that the underground facility was designed for “continuity of government”—for the political and military leadership to survive a nuclear war. (There are similar facilities, in Virginia and Pennsylvania, for the American leadership.) The Soviet facility still exists, and much of what the U.S. knows about it remains classified. “The ‘tell’ ”—the giveaway—“was the ventilator shafts, some of which were disguised,” the former senior intelligence official told me. At the time, he said, it was determined that “only nukes” could destroy the bunker. He added that some American intelligence analysts believe that the Russians helped the Iranians design their underground facility. “We see a similarity of design,” specifically in the ventilator shafts, he said.
A former high-level Defense Department official told me that, in his view, even limited bombing would allow the U.S. to “go in there and do enough damage to slow down the nuclear infrastructure—it’s feasible.” The former defense official said, “The Iranians don’t have friends, and we can tell them that, if necessary, we’ll keep knocking back their infrastructure. The United States should act like we’re ready to go.” He added, “We don’t have to knock down all of their air defenses. Our stealth bombers and standoff missiles really work, and we can blow fixed things up. We can do things on the ground, too, but it’s difficult and very dangerous—put bad stuff in ventilator shafts and put them to sleep.”
But those who are familiar with the Soviet bunker, according to the former senior intelligence official, “say ‘No way.’ You’ve got to know what’s underneath—to know which ventilator feeds people, or diesel generators, or which are false. And there’s a lot that we don’t know.” The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons. “Every other option, in the view of the nuclear weaponeers, would leave a gap,” the former senior intelligence official said. “ ‘Decisive’ is the key word of the Air Force’s planning. It’s a tough decision. But we made it in Japan.”
He went on, “Nuclear planners go through extensive training and learn the technical details of damage and fallout—we’re talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years. This is not an underground nuclear test, where all you see is the earth raised a little bit. These politicians don’t have a clue, and whenever anybody tries to get it out”—remove the nuclear option—“they’re shouted down.”
The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning. Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran—without success, the former intelligence official said. “The White House said, ‘Why are you challenging this? The option came from you.’ ”
The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror confirmed that some in the Administration were looking seriously at this option, which he linked to a resurgence of interest in tactical nuclear weapons among Pentagon civilians and in policy circles. He called it “a juggernaut that has to be stopped.” He also confirmed that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue. “There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries,” the adviser told me. “This goes to high levels.” The matter may soon reach a decisive point, he said, because the Joint Chiefs had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran. “The internal debate on this has hardened in recent weeks,” the adviser said. “And, if senior Pentagon officers express their opposition to the use of offensive nuclear weapons, then it will never happen.”
The adviser added, however, that the idea of using tactical nuclear weapons in such situations has gained support from the Defense Science Board, an advisory panel whose members are selected by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. “They’re telling the Pentagon that we can build the B61 with more blast and less radiation,” he said.
The chairman of the Defense Science Board is William Schneider, Jr., an Under-Secretary of State in the Reagan Administration. In January, 2001, as President Bush prepared to take office, Schneider served on an ad-hoc panel on nuclear forces sponsored by the National Institute for Public Policy, a conservative think tank. The panel’s report recommended treating tactical nuclear weapons as an essential part of the U.S. arsenal and noted their suitability “for those occasions when the certain and prompt destruction of high priority targets is essential and beyond the promise of conventional weapons.” Several signers of the report are now prominent members of the Bush Administration, including Stephen Hadley, the national-security adviser; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; and Robert Joseph, the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.
The Pentagon adviser questioned the value of air strikes. “The Iranians have distributed their nuclear activity very well, and we have no clue where some of the key stuff is. It could even be out of the country,” he said. He warned, as did many others, that bombing Iran could provoke “a chain reaction” of attacks on American facilities and citizens throughout the world: “What will 1.2 billion Muslims think the day we attack Iran?”

With or without the nuclear option, the list o targets may inevitably expand. One recentl retired high-level Bush Administration official who is also an expert on war planning, told m that he would have vigorously argued agains an air attack on Iran, because “Iran is a muc tougher target” than Iraq. But, he added, “I you’re going to do any bombing to stop th nukes, you might as well improve your li across the board. Maybe hit some trainin camps, and clear up a lot of other problems.
The Pentagon adviser said that, in the event of an attack, the Air Force intended to strike many hundreds of targets in Iran but that “ninety-nine per cent of them have nothing to do with proliferation. There are people who believe it’s the way to operate”—that the Administration can achieve its policy goals in Iran with a bombing campaign, an idea that has been supported by neoconservatives.
If the order were to be given for an attack, the American combat troops now operating in Iran would be in position to mark the critical targets with laser beams, to insure bombing accuracy and to minimize civilian casualties. As of early winter, I was told by the government consultant with close ties to civilians in the Pentagon, the units were also working with minority groups in Iran, including the Azeris, in the north, the Baluchis, in the southeast, and the Kurds, in the northeast. The troops “are studying the terrain, and giving away walking-around money to ethnic tribes, and recruiting scouts from local tribes and shepherds,” the consultant said. One goal is to get “eyes on the ground”—quoting a line from “Othello,” he said, “Give me the ocular proof.” The broader aim, the consultant said, is to “encourage ethnic tensions” and undermine the regime.
The new mission for the combat troops is a product of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s long-standing interest in expanding the role of the military in covert operations, which was made official policy in the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, published in February. Such activities, if conducted by C.I.A. operatives, would need a Presidential Finding and would have to be reported to key members of Congress.
“ ‘Force protection’ is the new buzzword,” the former senior intelligence official told me. He was referring to the Pentagon’s position that clandestine activities that can be broadly classified as preparing the battlefield or protecting troops are military, not intelligence, operations, and are therefore not subject to congressional oversight. “The guys in the Joint Chiefs of Staff say there are a lot of uncertainties in Iran,” he said. “We need to have more than what we had in Iraq. Now we have the green light to do everything we want.”

The President’s deep distrust of Ahmadineja has strengthened his determination to confron Iran. This view has been reinforced b allegations that Ahmadinejad, who joined special-forces brigade of the Revolutionar Guards in 1986, may have been involved i terrorist activities in the late eighties. (There ar gaps in Ahmadinejad’s official biography i this period.) Ahmadinejad has reportedly bee connected to Imad Mughniyeh, a terrorist wh has been implicated in the deadly bombings o the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Marine barrack in Beirut, in 1983. Mughniyeh was then th security chief of Hezbollah; he remains on th F.B.I.’s list of most-wanted terrorists
Robert Baer, who was a C.I.A. officer in the Middle East and elsewhere for two decades, told me that Ahmadinejad and his Revolutionary Guard colleagues in the Iranian government “are capable of making a bomb, hiding it, and launching it at Israel. They’re apocalyptic Shiites. If you’re sitting in Tel Aviv and you believe they’ve got nukes and missiles—you’ve got to take them out. These guys are nuts, and there’s no reason to back off.”
Under Ahmadinejad, the Revolutionary Guards have expanded their power base throughout the Iranian bureaucracy; by the end of January, they had replaced thousands of civil servants with their own members. One former senior United Nations official, who has extensive experience with Iran, depicted the turnover as “a white coup,” with ominous implications for the West. “Professionals in the Foreign Ministry are out; others are waiting to be kicked out,” he said. “We may be too late. These guys now believe that they are stronger than ever since the revolution.” He said that, particularly in consideration of China’s emergence as a superpower, Iran’s attitude was “To hell with the West. You can do as much as you like.”
Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, is considered by many experts to be in a stronger position than Ahmadinejad. “Ahmadinejad is not in control,” one European diplomat told me. “Power is diffuse in Iran. The Revolutionary Guards are among the key backers of the nuclear program, but, ultimately, I don’t think they are in charge of it. The Supreme Leader has the casting vote on the nuclear program, and the Guards will not take action without his approval.”
The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror said that “allowing Iran to have the bomb is not on the table. We cannot have nukes being sent downstream to a terror network. It’s just too dangerous.” He added, “The whole internal debate is on which way to go”—in terms of stopping the Iranian program. It is possible, the adviser said, that Iran will unilaterally renounce its nuclear plans—and forestall the American action. “God may smile on us, but I don’t think so. The bottom line is that Iran cannot become a nuclear-weapons state. The problem is that the Iranians realize that only by becoming a nuclear state can they defend themselves against the U.S. Something bad is going to happen.”

While almost no one disputes Iran’s nuclea ambitions, there is intense debate over ho soon it could get the bomb, and what to d about that. Robert Gallucci, a forme government expert on nonproliferation who i now the dean of the School of Foreign Servic at Georgetown, told me, “Based on what know, Iran could be eight to ten years away from developing a deliverable nuclear weapon Gallucci added, “If they had a covert nuclea program and we could prove it, and we coul not stop it by negotiation, diplomacy, or th threat of sanctions, I’d be in favor of taking i out. But if you do it”—bomb Iran—“withou being able to show there’s a secret program you’re in trouble.
Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, told the Knesset last December that “Iran is one to two years away, at the latest, from having enriched uranium. From that point, the completion of their nuclear weapon is simply a technical matter.” In a conversation with me, a senior Israeli intelligence official talked about what he said was Iran’s duplicity: “There are two parallel nuclear programs” inside Iran—the program declared to the I.A.E.A. and a separate operation, run by the military and the Revolutionary Guards. Israeli officials have repeatedly made this argument, but Israel has not produced public evidence to support it. Richard Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State in Bush’s first term, told me, “I think Iran has a secret nuclear-weapons program—I believe it, but I don’t know it.”
In recent months, the Pakistani government has given the U.S. new access to A. Q. Khan, the so-called father of the Pakistani atomic bomb. Khan, who is now living under house arrest in Islamabad, is accused of setting up a black market in nuclear materials; he made at least one clandestine visit to Tehran in the late nineteen-eighties. In the most recent interrogations, Khan has provided information on Iran’s weapons design and its time line for building a bomb. “The picture is of ‘unquestionable danger,’ ” the former senior intelligence official said. (The Pentagon adviser also confirmed that Khan has been “singing like a canary.”) The concern, the former senior official said, is that “Khan has credibility problems. He is suggestible, and he’s telling the neoconservatives what they want to hear”—or what might be useful to Pakistan’s President, Pervez Musharraf, who is under pressure to assist Washington in the war on terror.
“I think Khan’s leading us on,” the former intelligence official said. “I don’t know anybody who says, ‘Here’s the smoking gun.’ But lights are beginning to blink. He’s feeding us information on the time line, and targeting information is coming in from our own sources— sensors and the covert teams. The C.I.A., which was so burned by Iraqi W.M.D., is going to the Pentagon and the Vice-President’s office saying, ‘It’s all new stuff.’ People in the Administration are saying, ‘We’ve got enough.’ ”
The Administration’s case against Iran is compromised by its history of promoting false intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. In a recent essay on the Foreign Policy Web site, entitled “Fool Me Twice,” Joseph Cirincione, the director for nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote, “The unfolding administration strategy appears to be an effort to repeat its successful campaign for the Iraq war.” He noted several parallels:
The vice president of the United States gives a major speech focused on the threat from an oil-rich nation in the Middle East. The U.S. Secretary of State tells Congress that the same nation is our most serious global challenge. The Secretary of Defense calls that nation the leading supporter of global terrorism.
Cirincione called some of the Administration’s claims about Iran “questionable” or lacking in evidence. When I spoke to him, he asked, “What do we know? What is the threat? The question is: How urgent is all this?” The answer, he said, “is in the intelligence community and the I.A.E.A.” (In August, the Washington Post reported that the most recent comprehensive National Intelligence Estimate predicted that Iran was a decade away from being a nuclear power.)
Last year, the Bush Administration briefed I.A.E.A. officials on what it said was new and alarming information about Iran’s weapons program which had been retrieved from an Iranian’s laptop. The new data included more than a thousand pages of technical drawings of weapons systems. The Washington Post reported that there were also designs for a small facility that could be used in the uranium-enrichment process. Leaks about the laptop became the focal point of stories in the Times and elsewhere. The stories were generally careful to note that the materials could have been fabricated, but also quoted senior American officials as saying that they appeared to be legitimate. The headline in the Times’ account read, “RELYING ON COMPUTER, U.S. SEEKS TO PROVE IRAN’S NUCLEAR AIMS.”
I was told in interviews with American and European intelligence officials, however, that the laptop was more suspect and less revelatory than it had been depicted. The Iranian who owned the laptop had initially been recruited by German and American intelligence operatives, working together. The Americans eventually lost interest in him. The Germans kept on, but the Iranian was seized by the Iranian counter-intelligence force. It is not known where he is today. Some family members managed to leave Iran with his laptop and handed it over at a U.S. embassy, apparently in Europe. It was a classic “walk-in.”
A European intelligence official said, “There was some hesitation on our side” about what the materials really proved, “and we are still not convinced.” The drawings were not meticulous, as newspaper accounts suggested, “but had the character of sketches,” the European official said. “It was not a slam-dunk smoking gun.”

The threat of American military action ha created dismay at the headquarters of th I.A.E.A., in Vienna. The agency’s official believe that Iran wants to be able to make nuclear weapon, but “nobody has presented a inch of evidence of a parallel nuclear-weapon program in Iran,” the high-ranking diploma told me. The I.A.E.A.’s best estimate is that th Iranians are five years away from building nuclear bomb. “But, if the United States doe anything militarily, they will make th development of a bomb a matter of Irania national pride,” the diplomat said. “The whol issue is America’s risk assessment of Iran’ future intentions, and they don’t trust th regime. Iran is a menace to American policy.
In Vienna, I was told of an exceedingly testy meeting earlier this year between Mohamed ElBaradei, the I.A.E.A.’s director-general, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, and Robert Joseph, the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control. Joseph’s message was blunt, one diplomat recalled: “We cannot have a single centrifuge spinning in Iran. Iran is a direct threat to the national security of the United States and our allies, and we will not tolerate it. We want you to give us an understanding that you will not say anything publicly that will undermine us. ”
Joseph’s heavy-handedness was unnecessary, the diplomat said, since the I.A.E.A. already had been inclined to take a hard stand against Iran. “All of the inspectors are angry at being misled by the Iranians, and some think the Iranian leadership are nutcases—one hundred per cent totally certified nuts,” the diplomat said. He added that ElBaradei’s overriding concern is that the Iranian leaders “want confrontation, just like the neocons on the other side”—in Washington. “At the end of the day, it will work only if the United States agrees to talk to the Iranians.”
The central question—whether Iran will be able to proceed with its plans to enrich uranium—is now before the United Nations, with the Russians and the Chinese reluctant to impose sanctions on Tehran. A discouraged former I.A.E.A. official told me in late March that, at this point, “there’s nothing the Iranians could do that would result in a positive outcome. American diplomacy does not allow for it. Even if they announce a stoppage of enrichment, nobody will believe them. It’s a dead end.”
Another diplomat in Vienna asked me, “Why would the West take the risk of going to war against that kind of target without giving it to the I.A.E.A. to verify? We’re low-cost, and we can create a program that will force Iran to put its cards on the table.” A Western Ambassador in Vienna expressed similar distress at the White House’s dismissal of the I.A.E.A. He said, “If you don’t believe that the I.A.E.A. can establish an inspection system—if you don’t trust them—you can only bomb.”

There is little sympathy for the I.A.E.A. in th Bush Administration or among its Europea allies. “We’re quite frustrated with the director-general,” the European diplomat told me. “Hi basic approach has been to describe this as dispute between two sides with equal weight It’s not. We’re the good guys! ElBaradei ha been pushing the idea of letting Iran have small nuclear-enrichment program, which i ludicrous. It’s not his job to push ideas that pos a serious proliferation risk.
The Europeans are rattled, however, by their growing perception that President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney believe a bombing campaign will be needed, and that their real goal is regime change. “Everyone is on the same page about the Iranian bomb, but the United States wants regime change,” a European diplomatic adviser told me. He added, “The Europeans have a role to play as long as they don’t have to choose between going along with the Russians and the Chinese or going along with Washington on something they don’t want. Their policy is to keep the Americans engaged in something the Europeans can live with. It may be untenable.”
“The Brits think this is a very bad idea,” Flynt Leverett, a former National Security Council staff member who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center, told me, “but they’re really worried we’re going to do it.” The European diplomatic adviser acknowledged that the British Foreign Office was aware of war planning in Washington but that, “short of a smoking gun, it’s going to be very difficult to line up the Europeans on Iran.” He said that the British “are jumpy about the Americans going full bore on the Iranians, with no compromise.”
The European diplomat said that he was skeptical that Iran, given its record, had admitted to everything it was doing, but “to the best of our knowledge the Iranian capability is not at the point where they could successfully run centrifuges” to enrich uranium in quantity. One reason for pursuing diplomacy was, he said, Iran’s essential pragmatism. “The regime acts in its best interests,” he said. Iran’s leaders “take a hard-line approach on the nuclear issue and they want to call the American bluff,” believing that “the tougher they are the more likely the West will fold.” But, he said, “From what we’ve seen with Iran, they will appear superconfident until the moment they back off.”
The diplomat went on, “You never reward bad behavior, and this is not the time to offer concessions. We need to find ways to impose sufficient costs to bring the regime to its senses. It’s going to be a close call, but I think if there is unity in opposition and the price imposed”—in sanctions—“is sufficient, they may back down. It’s too early to give up on the U.N. route.” He added, “If the diplomatic process doesn’t work, there is no military ‘solution.’ There may be a military option, but the impact could be catastrophic.”
Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, was George Bush’s most dependable ally in the year leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But he and his party have been racked by a series of financial scandals, and his popularity is at a low point. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said last year that military action against Iran was “inconceivable.” Blair has been more circumspect, saying publicly that one should never take options off the table.
Other European officials expressed similar skepticism about the value of an American bombing campaign. “The Iranian economy is in bad shape, and Ahmadinejad is in bad shape politically,” the European intelligence official told me. “He will benefit politically from American bombing. You can do it, but the results will be worse.” An American attack, he said, would alienate ordinary Iranians, including those who might be sympathetic to the U.S. “Iran is no longer living in the Stone Age, and the young people there have access to U.S. movies and books, and they love it,” he said. “If there was a charm offensive with Iran, the mullahs would be in trouble in the long run.”
Another European official told me that he was aware that many in Washington wanted action. “It’s always the same guys,” he said, with a resigned shrug. “There is a belief that diplomacy is doomed to fail. The timetable is short.”
A key ally with an important voice in the debate is Israel, whose leadership has warned for years that it viewed any attempt by Iran to begin enriching uranium as a point of no return. I was told by several officials that the White House’s interest in preventing an Israeli attack on a Muslim country, which would provoke a backlash across the region, was a factor in its decision to begin the current operational planning. In a speech in Cleveland on March 20th, President Bush depicted Ahmadinejad’s hostility toward Israel as a “serious threat. It’s a threat to world peace.” He added, “I made it clear, I’ll make it clear again, that we will use military might to protect our ally Israel.”

Any American bombing attack, Richar Armitage told me, would have to consider th following questions: “What will happen in th other Islamic countries? What ability does Ira have to reach us and touch us globally—that is terrorism? Will Syria and Lebanon up th pressure on Israel? What does the attack do t our already diminished international standing And what does this mean for Russia, China and the U.N. Security Council?
Iran, which now produces nearly four million barrels of oil a day, would not have to cut off production to disrupt the world’s oil markets. It could blockade or mine the Strait of Hormuz, the thirty-four-mile-wide passage through which Middle Eastern oil reaches the Indian Ocean. Nonetheless, the recently retired defense official dismissed the strategic consequences of such actions. He told me that the U.S. Navy could keep shipping open by conducting salvage missions and putting mine- sweepers to work. “It’s impossible to block passage,” he said. The government consultant with ties to the Pentagon also said he believed that the oil problem could be managed, pointing out that the U.S. has enough in its strategic reserves to keep America running for sixty days. However, those in the oil business I spoke to were less optimistic; one industry expert estimated that the price per barrel would immediately spike, to anywhere from ninety to a hundred dollars per barrel, and could go higher, depending on the duration and scope of the conflict.
Michel Samaha, a veteran Lebanese Christian politician and former cabinet minister in Beirut, told me that the Iranian retaliation might be focussed on exposed oil and gas fields in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. “They would be at risk,” he said, “and this could begin the real jihad of Iran versus the West. You will have a messy world.”
Iran could also initiate a wave of terror attacks in Iraq and elsewhere, with the help of Hezbollah. On April 2nd, the Washington Post reported that the planning to counter such attacks “is consuming a lot of time” at U.S. intelligence agencies. “The best terror network in the world has remained neutral in the terror war for the past several years,” the Pentagon adviser on the war on terror said of Hezbollah. “This will mobilize them and put us up against the group that drove Israel out of southern Lebanon. If we move against Iran, Hezbollah will not sit on the sidelines. Unless the Israelis take them out, they will mobilize against us.” (When I asked the government consultant about that possibility, he said that, if Hezbollah fired rockets into northern Israel, “Israel and the new Lebanese government will finish them off.”)
The adviser went on, “If we go, the southern half of Iraq will light up like a candle.” The American, British, and other coalition forces in Iraq would be at greater risk of attack from Iranian troops or from Shiite militias operating on instructions from Iran. (Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, has close ties to the leading Shiite parties in Iraq.) A retired four-star general told me that, despite the eight thousand British troops in the region, “the Iranians could take Basra with ten mullahs and one sound truck.”
“If you attack,” the high-ranking diplomat told me in Vienna, “Ahmadinejad will be the new Saddam Hussein of the Arab world, but with more credibility and more power. You must bite the bullet and sit down with the Iranians.”
The diplomat went on, “There are people in Washington who would be unhappy if we found a solution. They are still banking on isolation and regime change. This is wishful thinking.” He added, “The window of opportunity is now.”