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©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

How the White House Embraced Disputed Arms Intelligence
New York Times

In 2002, at a crucial juncture on the path to war, senior members of the Bush administration gave a series of speeches and interviews in which they asserted that Saddam Hussein was rebuilding his nuclear weapons program. Speaking to a group of Wyoming Republicans in September, Vice President Dick Cheney said the United States now had "irrefutable evidence" - thousands of tubes made of high-strength aluminum, tubes that the Bush administration said were destined for clandestine Iraqi uranium centrifuges, before some were seized at the behest of the United States.

Those tubes became a critical exhibit in the administration's brief against Iraq. As the only physical evidence the United States could brandish of Mr. Hussein's revived nuclear ambitions, they gave credibility to the apocalyptic imagery invoked by President Bush and his advisers. The tubes were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs," Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, explained on CNN on Sept. 8, 2002. "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

But almost a year before, Ms. Rice's staff had been told that the government's foremost nuclear experts seriously doubted that the tubes were for nuclear weapons, according to four officials at the Central Intelligence Agency and two senior administration officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity. The experts, at the Energy Department, believed the tubes were likely intended for small artillery rockets.

The White House, though, embraced the disputed theory that the tubes were for nuclear centrifuges, an idea first championed in April 2001 by a junior analyst at the C.I.A.

Comment: this "junior analyst" seems to be the ONLY guy in the CIA who was responsible for a "failure of intelligence".

Senior nuclear scientists considered that notion implausible, yet in the months after 9/11, as the administration built a case for confronting Iraq, the centrifuge theory gained currency as it rose to the top of the government.

Senior administration officials repeatedly failed to fully disclose the contrary views of America's leading nuclear scientists, an examination by The New York Times has found. They sometimes overstated even the most dire intelligence assessments of the tubes, yet minimized or rejected the strong doubts of nuclear experts. They worried privately that the nuclear case was weak, but expressed sober certitude in public.

One result was a largely one-sided presentation to the public that did not convey the depth of evidence and argument against the administration's most tangible proof of a revived nuclear weapons program in Iraq.

Today, 18 months after the invasion of Iraq, investigators there have found no evidence of hidden centrifuges or a revived nuclear weapons program. The absence of unconventional weapons in Iraq is now widely seen as evidence of a profound intelligence failure, of an intelligence community blinded by "group think," false assumptions and unreliable human sources.

Yet the tale of the tubes, pieced together through records and interviews with senior intelligence officers, nuclear experts, administration officials and Congressional investigators, reveals a different failure.

Far from "group think," American nuclear and intelligence experts argued bitterly over the tubes. A "holy war" is how one Congressional investigator described it. But if the opinions of the nuclear experts were seemingly disregarded at every turn, an overwhelming momentum gathered behind the C.I.A. assessment. It was a momentum built on a pattern of haste, secrecy, ambiguity, bureaucratic maneuver and a persistent failure in the Bush administration and among both Republicans and Democrats in Congress to ask hard questions.

Comment: Again, notice that the only CIA analyst cited as being an advocate of the tubes being evidence has now morphed into "momentum gathered behind the CIA assessment..."

Precisely how knowledge of the intelligence dispute traveled through the upper reaches of the administration is unclear. Ms. Rice knew about the debate before her Sept. 2002 CNN appearance, but only learned of the alternative rocket theory of the tubes soon afterward, according to two senior administration officials. President Bush learned of the debate at roughly the same time, a senior administration official said.

Last week, when asked about the tubes, administration officials said they relied on repeated assurances by George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, that the tubes were in fact for centrifuges. They also noted that the intelligence community, including the Energy Department, largely agreed that Mr. Hussein had revived his nuclear program.

"These judgments sometimes require members of the intelligence community to make tough assessments about competing interpretations of facts," said Sean McCormack, a spokesman for the president.

Mr. Tenet declined to be interviewed. But in a statement, he said he "made it clear" to the White House "that the case for a possible nuclear program in Iraq was weaker than that for chemical and biological weapons." Regarding the tubes, Mr. Tenet said "alternative views were shared" with the administration after the intelligence community drafted a new National Intelligence Estimate in late September 2002.

Comment: So, Tenet declined to be interviewed but did manage to say "alternative views were shared..." Yet, above, based on a junior analyst's ideas, we are told that "momentum gathered behind the CIA assessment..."

The tubes episode is a case study of the intersection between the politics of pre-emption and the inherent ambiguity of intelligence. The tubes represented a scientific puzzle and rival camps of experts clashed over the tiniest technical details in secure rooms in Washington, London and Vienna. The stakes were high, and they knew it. [...]

Throughout the 1990's, United States intelligence agencies were deeply preoccupied with the status of Iraq's nuclear weapons program, and with good reason.

After the Persian Gulf war in 1991, arms inspectors discovered that Iraq had been far closer to building an atomic bomb than even the worst-case estimates had envisioned. And no one believed that Saddam Hussein had abandoned his nuclear ambitions. To the contrary, in one secret assessment after another, the agencies concluded that Iraq was conducting low-level theoretical research and quietly plotting to resume work on nuclear weapons.

But at the start of the Bush administration, the intelligence agencies also agreed that Iraq had not in fact resumed its nuclear weapons program. Iraq's nuclear infrastructure, they concluded, had been dismantled by sanctions and inspections. In short, Mr. Hussein's nuclear ambitions appeared to have been contained.

Comment: NOW we learn that the intelligence agencies agreed that Iraq had NOT resumed its nuclear weapons program." How come momentum didn't gather behind THIS "intelligence assessment?"

According to a 511-page report on flawed prewar intelligence by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the agencies learned in early 2001 of a plan by Iraq to buy 60,000 high-strength aluminum tubes from Hong Kong.

Comment: And where, we might ask, did this "intelligence" come from? Chalabi? Israel?

[This was] why a new C.I.A. analyst named Joe quickly sounded the alarm.

Comment: Ah, we get closer to the truth... that "junior analyst" again...

At the C.I.A.'s request, The Times agreed to use only Joe's first name; the agency said publishing his full name could hinder his ability to operate overseas.

Joe graduated from the University of Kentucky in the late 1970's with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, then joined the Goodyear Atomic Corporation, which dispatched him to Oak Ridge, Tenn., a federal complex that specializes in uranium and national security research. [...]

But when the project was canceled in 1985, Joe spent the next decade performing hazard analyses for nuclear reactors, gaseous diffusion plants and oil refineries.

In 1997, Joe transferred to a national security complex at Oak Ridge known as Y- 12, his entry into intelligence work. His assignment was to track global sales of material used in nuclear arms. He retired after two years, taking a buyout with hundreds of others at Oak Ridge, and moved to the C.I.A. [...]

Suddenly, Joe's work was ending up in classified intelligence reports being read in the White House. Indeed, his analysis was the primary basis for one of the agency's first reports on the tubes, which went to senior members of the Bush administration on April 10, 2001. The tubes, the report asserted, "have little use other than for a uranium enrichment program."

This alarming assessment was immediately challenged by the Energy Department, which builds centrifuges and runs the government's nuclear weapons complex.

The next day, Energy Department officials ticked off a long list of reasons why the tubes did not appear well suited for centrifuges. Simply put, the analysis concluded that the tubes were the wrong size - too narrow, too heavy, too long - to be of much practical use in a centrifuge.

What was more, the analysis reasoned, if the tubes were part of a secret, high- risk venture to build a nuclear bomb, why were the Iraqis haggling over prices with suppliers all around the world? And why weren't they shopping for all the other sensitive equipment needed for centrifuges?

All fine questions. But if the tubes were not for a centrifuge, what were they for?

Within weeks, the Energy Department experts had an answer.

It turned out, they reported, that Iraq had for years used high-strength aluminum tubes to make combustion chambers for slim rockets fired from launcher pods. Back in 1996, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency had even examined some of those tubes, also made of 7075-T6 aluminum, at a military complex, the Nasser metal fabrication plant in Baghdad, where the Iraqis acknowledged making rockets. According to the international agency, the rocket tubes, some 66,000 of them, were 900 millimeters in length, with a diameter of 81 millimeters and walls 3.3 millimeters thick.

The tubes now sought by Iraq had precisely the same dimensions - a perfect match.

That finding was published May 9, 2001, in the Daily Intelligence Highlight, a secret Energy Department newsletter published on Intelink, a Web site for the intelligence community and the White House.

Joe and his Winpac colleagues at the C.I.A. were not persuaded. [...]

Thus, well before Sept. 11, 2001, the debate within the intelligence community was already neatly framed: Were the tubes for rockets or centrifuges? [...]

The intelligence community embarked on an ambitious international operation to intercept the tubes before they could get to Iraq. The big break came in June 2001: a shipment was seized in Jordan.

At the Energy Department, those examining the tubes included scientists who had spent decades designing and working on centrifuges, and intelligence officers steeped in the tricky business of tracking the nuclear ambitions of America's enemies. They included Dr. Jon A. Kreykes, head of Oak Ridge's national security advanced technology group; Dr. Duane F. Starr, an expert on nuclear proliferation threats; and Dr. Edward Von Halle, a retired Oak Ridge nuclear expert. Dr. Houston G. Wood III, a professor of engineering at the University of Virginia who had helped design the 40-foot American centrifuge, advised the team and consulted with Dr. Zippe.

On questions about nuclear centrifuges, this was unambiguously the A-Team of the intelligence community, many experts say.

On Aug. 17, 2001, weeks before the twin towers fell, the team published a secret Technical Intelligence Note, a detailed analysis that laid out its doubts about the tubes' suitability for centrifuges. [...]

In fact, the team could find no centrifuge machines "deployed in a production environment" that used such narrow tubes. Their walls were three times too thick for "favorable use" in a centrifuge, the team wrote. They were also anodized, meaning they had a special coating to protect them from weather. Anodized tubes, the team pointed out, are "not consistent" with a uranium centrifuge because the coating can produce bad reactions with uranium gas. [...]

Similar conclusions were being reached by Britain's intelligence service and experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations body.

Unlike Joe, experts at the international agency had worked with Zippe centrifuges, and they spent hours with him explaining why they believed his analysis was flawed. They pointed out errors in his calculations. They noted design discrepancies. They also sent reports challenging the centrifuge claim to American government experts through the embassy in Vienna, a senior official said.

Likewise, Britain's experts believed the tubes would need "substantial re- engineering" to work in centrifuges, according to Britain's review of its prewar intelligence. Their experts found it "paradoxical" that Iraq would order such finely crafted tubes only to radically rebuild each one for a centrifuge. Yes, it was theoretically possible, but as an Energy Department analyst later told Senate investigators, it was also theoretically possible to "turn your new Yugo into a Cadillac."

In late 2001, intelligence analysts at the State Department also took issue with Joe's work in reports prepared for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. Joe was "very convinced, but not very convincing," recalled Greg Thielmann, then director of strategic, proliferation and military affairs in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

By year's end, Energy Department analysts published a classified report that even more firmly rejected the theory that the tubes could work as rotors in a 1950's Zippe centrifuge. [...]

The Energy Department team concluded it was "unlikely that anyone" could build a centrifuge site capable of producing significant amounts of enriched uranium "based on these tubes." One analyst summed it up this way: the tubes were so poorly suited for centrifuges, he told Senate investigators, that if Iraq truly wanted to use them this way, "we should just give them the tubes."

Enter Cheney

In the months after Sept. 11, 2001, as the Bush administration devised a strategy to fight Al Qaeda, Vice President Cheney immersed himself in the world of top-secret threat assessments. Bob Woodward, in his book "Plan of Attack," described Mr. Cheney as the administration's new "self-appointed special examiner of worst-case scenarios," and it was a role that fit. [...]

With the Taliban routed in Afghanistan after Sept. 11, Mr. Cheney and his aides began to focus on intelligence assessments of Saddam Hussein. Mr. Cheney had long argued for more forceful action to topple Mr. Hussein. But in January 2002, according to Mr. Woodward's book, the C.I.A. told Mr. Cheney that Mr. Hussein could not be removed with covert action alone. His ouster, the agency said, would take an invasion, which would require persuading the public that Iraq posed a threat to the United States.

The evidence for that case was buried in classified intelligence files. Mr. Cheney and his aides began to meet repeatedly with analysts who specialized in Iraq and unconventional weapons. They wanted to know about any Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda and Baghdad's ability to make unconventional weapons. [...]

Mr. Cheney, for example, read a Feb. 12, 2002, report from the Defense Intelligence Agency about Iraq's reported attempts to buy 500 tons of yellowcake, a uranium concentrate, from Niger, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee report. Many American intelligence analysts did not put much stock in the Niger report. Mr. Cheney pressed for more information.

Comment: Note particularly that "Many American intelligence analysts did not put much stock in the Niger report." Why didn't momentum build behind this opinion and not behind the opinion of a junior analyst who's ideas have already been shot down by the experts?

At the same time, a senior intelligence official said, the agency was fielding repeated requests from Mr. Cheney's office for intelligence about the tubes, including updates on Iraq's continuing efforts to procure thousands more after the seizure in Jordan.

"Remember," Dr. David A. Kay, the chief American arms inspector after the war, said in an interview, "the tubes were the only piece of physical evidence about the Iraqi weapons programs that they had."

In March 2002, Mr. Cheney traveled to Europe and the Middle East to build support for a confrontation with Iraq. It is not known whether he mentioned Niger or the tubes in his meetings. But on his return, he made it clear that he had repeatedly discussed Mr. Hussein and the nuclear threat.

"He is actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time," Mr. Cheney asserted on CNN.

At the time, the C.I.A. had not reached so firm a conclusion. But on March 12, the day Mr. Cheney landed in the Middle East, he and other senior administration officials had been sent two C.I.A. reports about the tubes. Each cited the tubes as evidence that "Iraq currently may be trying to reconstitute its gas centrifuge program."

Neither report, however, mentioned that leading centrifuge experts at the Energy Department strongly disagreed, according to Congressional officials who have read the reports.

Comment: Cheney is obviously the eminence grise behind the whole "Weapons of Mass Destruction hysteria." Repeatedly we see that the "intelligence" in question is low level, cooked, and even demolished by experts and senior analysts. But Cheney was, obviously, the "momentum" behind this "failure of intelligence."

What White House Is Told

As the Senate Intelligence Committee report made clear, the American intelligence community "is not a level playing field when it comes to the competition of ideas in intelligence analysis."

The C.I.A. has a distinct edge: "unique access to policy makers and unique control of intelligence reporting," the report found. The Presidential Daily Briefs, for example, are prepared and presented by agency analysts; the agency's director is the president's principal intelligence adviser. This allows agency analysts to control the presentation of information to policy makers "without having to explain dissenting views or defend their analysis from potential challenges," the committee's report said.

This problem, the report said, was "particularly evident" with the C.I.A.'s analysis of the tubes, when agency analysts "lost objectivity and in several cases took action that improperly excluded useful expertise from the intelligence debate." In interviews, Senate investigators said the agency's written assessments did a poor job of describing the debate over the intelligence.

From April 2001 to September 2002, the agency wrote at least 15 reports on the tubes. Many were sent only to high-level policy makers, including President Bush, and did not circulate to other intelligence agencies. None have been released, though some were described in the Senate's report.

Comment: None have been released? Why? One doesn't hide information that proves one's point. Again we note that George Tenet remarked briefly that "alternative views were shared..." How many alternative views? What was the nature of these views? Are these "alternative views" in the reports that have never been released? Is the Senate report a cover-up, a whitewash of the administration that points the finger at a "failure of intelligence?"

Several senior C.I.A. officials insisted that those reports did describe at least in general terms the intelligence debate. "You don't go into all that detail but you do try to evince it when you write your current product," one agency official said.

Comment: Aha! So, the reports that have never been released might very well demonstrate that there was NO failure of intelligence... that the whole failure was Cheney's cooking and concealing of intelligence.

But several Congressional and intelligence officials with access to the 15 assessments said not one of them informed senior policy makers of the Energy Department's dissent. [...]

Comment: Then why can't we see them?

"They never lay out the other case," one Congressional official said of those C.I.A. assessments.

The Senate report provides only a partial picture of the agency's communications with the White House. In an arrangement endorsed by both parties, the Intelligence Committee agreed to delay an examination of whether White House descriptions of Iraq's military capabilities were "substantiated by intelligence information." As a result, Senate investigators were not permitted to interview White House officials about what they knew of the tubes debate and when they knew it.

Comment: Let's get this straight here: "In an arrangement endorsed by both parties, the Intelligence Committee agreed to delay an examination of whether White House descriptions of Iraq's military capabilities were "substantiated by intelligence information." As a result, Senate investigators were not permitted to interview White House officials about what they knew of the tubes debate and when they knew it." WHAT???? Are they saying what I think they are saying: that this committee has, a priori, agreed to a "cover-up" for the administration so as to better point the finger of blame at the intelligence community?

But in interviews, C.I.A. and administration officials disclosed that the dissenting views were repeatedly discussed in meetings and telephone calls.

One senior official at the agency said its "fundamental approach" was to tell policy makers about dissenting views. Another senior official acknowledged that some of their agency's reports "weren't as well caveated as, in retrospect, they should have been." But he added, "There was certainly nothing that was hidden."

Four agency officials insisted that Winpac analysts repeatedly explained the contrasting assessments during briefings with senior National Security Council officials who dealt with nuclear proliferation issues. "We think we were reasonably clear about this," a senior C.I.A. official said.

A senior administration official confirmed that Winpac was indeed candid about the differing views. The official, who recalled at least a half dozen C.I.A. briefings on tubes, said he knew by late 2001 that there were differing views on the tubes. "To the best of my knowledge, he never hid anything from me," the official said of his counterpart at Winpac.

This official said he also spoke to senior officials at the Department of Energy about the tubes, and a spokeswoman for the department said in a written statement that the agency "strongly conveyed its viewpoint to senior policy makers." [...]

Comment: Again we see that the whole story is being cooked and manipulated. There was NO failure of intelligence. The whole report by the committee is a whitewash, finger pointing, to confuse the public and keep the attention off the guilty parties at the highest levels of the Bush administration.

Over the summer of 2002, the White House secretly refined plans to invade Iraq and debated whether to seek more United Nations inspections. At the same time, in response to a White House request in May, C.I.A. officials were quietly working on a report that would lay out for the public declassified evidence of Iraq's reported unconventional weapons and ties to terror groups.

That same summer the tubes debate continued to rage. The primary antagonists were the C.I.A. and the Energy Department, with other intelligence agencies drawn in on either side.

Much of the strife centered on Joe. At first glance, he seemed an unlikely target. He held a relatively junior position, and according to the C.I.A. he did not write the vast majority of the agency's reports on the tubes. He has never met Mr. Cheney. His one trip to the White House was to take his family on the public tour.

But he was, as one staff member on the Senate Intelligence Committee put it, "the ringleader" of a small group of Winpac analysts who were convinced that the tubes were destined for centrifuges. His views carried special force within the agency because he was the only Winpac analyst with experience operating uranium centrifuges. In meetings with other intelligence agencies, he often took the lead in arguing the technical basis for the agency's conclusions. [...]

Without identifying him, the Senate Intelligence Committee's report repeatedly questioned Joe's competence and integrity. It portrayed him as so determined to prove his theory that he twisted test results, ignored factual discrepancies and excluded dissenting views. [...]

There was a mechanism, however, to resolve the dispute. It was called the Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee, a secret body of experts drawn from across the federal government. For a half century, Jaeic (pronounced jake) has been called on to resolve disputes and give authoritative assessments about nuclear intelligence. The committee had specifically assessed the Iraqi nuclear threat in 1989, 1997 and 1999. An Energy Department expert was the committee's chairman in 2002, and some department officials say the C.I.A. opposed calling in Jaeic to mediate the tubes fight.

Comment: Wonder who those "department officials" are who say the CIA opposed calling in other experts?

Not so, agency officials said. In July 2002, they insist, they were the first intelligence agency to seek Jaeic's intervention. "I personally was concerned about the extent of the community's disagreement on this and the fact that we weren't getting very far," a senior agency official recalled.

Comment: Hmm... this is getting more interesting. Seems that there is a big problem here with the administration saying one thing and the CIA folks saying the opposite... And of course, we don't get to see the reports because the ADMINISTRATION has classified them... Does that fact suggest who might be lying here?

The committee held a formal session in early August to discuss the debate, with more than a dozen experts on both sides in attendance. A second meeting was scheduled for later in August but was postponed. A third meeting was set for early September; it never happened either. [...]

White House Makes a Move

"The case of Saddam Hussein, a sworn enemy of our country, requires a candid appraisal of the facts," Mr. Cheney said on Aug. 26, 2002, at the outset of an address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Nashville.

Warning against "wishful thinking or willful blindness," Mr. Cheney used the speech to lay out a rationale for pre-emptive action against Iraq. Simply resuming United Nations inspections, he argued, could give "false comfort" that Mr. Hussein was contained.

"We now know Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons," he declared, words that quickly made headlines worldwide. "Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon. Just how soon, we cannot really gauge. Intelligence is an uncertain business, even in the best of circumstances."

But the world, Mr. Cheney warned, could ill afford to once again underestimate Iraq's progress.

"Armed with an arsenal of these weapons of terror, and seated atop 10 percent of the world's oil reserves, Saddam Hussein could then be expected to seek domination of the entire Middle East, take control of a great portion of the world's energy supplies, directly threaten America's friends throughout the region, and subject the United States or any other nation to nuclear blackmail."

A week later President Bush announced that he would ask Congress for authorization to oust Mr. Hussein. He also met that day with senior members of the House and Senate, some of whom expressed concern that the administration had yet to show the American people tangible evidence of an imminent threat. The fact that Mr. Hussein gassed his own people in the 1980's, they argued, was not sufficient evidence of a threat to the United States in 2002.

President Bush got the message. He directed Mr. Cheney to give the public and Congress a more complete picture of the latest intelligence on Iraq.

In his Nashville speech, Mr. Cheney had not mentioned the aluminum tubes or any other fresh intelligence when he said, "We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons." The one specific source he did cite was Hussein Kamel al-Majid, a son-in-law of Mr. Hussein's who defected in 1994 after running Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. But Mr. Majid told American intelligence officials in 1995 that Iraq's nuclear program had been dismantled. What's more, Mr. Majid could not have had any insight into Mr. Hussein's current nuclear activities: he was assassinated in 1996 on his return to Iraq.

Comment: So typical of Cheney to cite a source and lie about what the source said...

The day after President Bush announced he was seeking Congressional authorization, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, traveled to Capitol Hill to brief the four top Congressional leaders. After the 90-minute session, J. Dennis Hastert, the House speaker, told Fox News that Mr. Cheney had provided new information about unconventional weapons, and Fox went on to report that one source said the new intelligence described "just how dangerously close Saddam Hussein has come to developing a nuclear bomb."

Tom Daschle, the South Dakota Democrat and Senate majority leader, was more cautious. "What has changed over the course of the last 10 years, that brings this country to the belief that it has to act in a pre-emptive fashion in invading Iraq?" he asked.

A few days later, on Sept. 8., the lead article on Page 1 of The New York Times gave the first detailed account of the aluminum tubes. The article cited unidentified senior administration officials who insisted that the dimensions, specifications and numbers of tubes sought showed that they were intended for a nuclear weapons program.

"The closer he gets to a nuclear capability, the more credible is his threat to use chemical and biological weapons," a senior administration official was quoted as saying. "Nuclear weapons are his hole card."

The article gave no hint of a debate over the tubes.

The White House did much to increase the impact of The Times' article. The morning it was published, Mr. Cheney went on the NBC News program "Meet the Press" and confirmed when asked that the tubes were the most alarming evidence behind the administration's view that Iraq had resumed its nuclear weapons program. The tubes, he said, had "raised our level of concern." Ms. Rice, the national security adviser, went on CNN and said the tubes "are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs."

Neither official mentioned that the nation's top nuclear design experts believed overwhelmingly that the tubes were poorly suited for centrifuges.

Mr. Cheney, who has a history of criticizing officials who disclose sensitive information, typically refuses to comment when asked about secret intelligence. Yet on this day, with a Gallup poll showing that 58 percent of Americans did not believe President Bush had done enough to explain why the United States should act against Iraq, Mr. Cheney spoke openly about one of the closest held secrets regarding Iraq. Not only did Mr. Cheney draw attention to the tubes; he did so with a certitude that could not be found in even the C.I.A.'s assessments. On "Meet the Press," Mr. Cheney said he knew "for sure" and "in fact" and "with absolute certainty" that Mr. Hussein was buying equipment to build a nuclear weapon.

"He has reconstituted his nuclear program," Mr. Cheney said flatly.

But in the C.I.A. reports, evidence "suggested" or "could mean" or "indicates" - a word used in a report issued just weeks earlier. Little if anything was asserted with absolute certainty. The intelligence community had not yet concluded that Iraq had indeed reconstituted its nuclear program.

"The vice president's public statements have reflected the evolving judgment of the intelligence community," Kevin Kellems, Mr. Cheney's spokesman, said in a written statement. [...]

The administration's talk of clandestine centrifuges, nuclear blackmail and mushroom clouds had a powerful political effect, particularly on senators who were facing fall election campaigns. [...]

Even so, it did not take long for questions to surface over the administration's claims about Mr. Hussein's nuclear capabilities. As it happened, Senator Dianne Feinstein, another Democratic member of the Intelligence Committee, had visited the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna in August 2002. Officials there, she later recalled, told her they saw no signs of a revived nuclear weapons program in Iraq.

At that point, the tubes debate was in its 16th month. Yet Mr. Tenet, of the C.I.A., the man most responsible for briefing President Bush on intelligence, told the committee that he was unaware until that September of the profound disagreement over critical evidence that Mr. Bush was citing to world leaders as justification for war.

Even now, committee members from both parties express baffled anger at this possibility. How could he not know? "I don't even understand it," Olympia Snowe, a Republican senator from Maine, said in an interview. "I cannot comprehend the failures in judgment or breakdowns in communication."

Mr. Tenet told Senate investigators that he did not expect to learn of dissenting opinions "until the issue gets joined" at the highest levels of the intelligence community. But if Mr. Tenet's lack of knowledge meant the president was given incomplete information about the tubes, there was still plenty of time for the White House to become fully informed.

Yet so far, Senate investigators say, they have found little evidence the White House tried to find out why so many experts disputed the C.I.A. tubes theory. If anything, administration officials minimized the divide.

Comment: So now, the blame falls squarely on George Tenet who refused to give an interview, who stated only that "alternative views were shared..." and has retired and wants to stay alive. And still, those pesky reports that would clear up the whole thing are not released...

On Sept. 13, The Times made the first public mention of the tubes debate in the sixth paragraph of an article on Page A13. In it an unidentified senior administration official dismissed the debate as a "footnote, not a split." Citing another unidentified administration official, the story reported that the "best technical experts and nuclear scientists at laboratories like Oak Ridge supported the C.I.A. assessments."

As a senior Oak Ridge official pointed out to the Intelligence Committee, "the vast majority of scientists and nuclear experts" in the Energy Department's laboratories in fact disagreed with the agency. But on Sept. 13, the day the article appeared, the Energy Department sent a directive forbidding employees from discussing the subject with reporters.

Comment: Well, how about that? The gang that could have cleared up the matter was silenced right away. Wonder why?

The Energy Department, in a written statement, said that it was "completely appropriate" to remind employees of the need to protect nuclear secrets and that it had made no effort "to quash dissent."

In closed hearings that month, though, Congress began to hear testimony about the debate. Several Democrats said in interviews that secrecy rules had prevented them from speaking out about the gap between the administration's view of the tubes and the more benign explanations described in classified testimony.

Comment: Again and again we see that "secrecy rules" are at the root of the problem. Yet, George and the gang want even MORE secrecy; and we still can't read those intell reports that the administration doesn't want us to see that might prove that there was NO failure of intelligence - merely a fascist grab for power by the Bushistas.

One senior C.I.A. official recalled cautioning members of Congress in a closed session not to speak publicly about the possibility that the tubes were for rockets. "If people start talking about that and the Iraqis see that people are saying rocket bodies, that will automatically become their explanation whenever anyone goes to Iraq," the official said in an interview.

So while administration officials spoke freely about the agency's theory, the evidence that best challenged this view remained almost entirely off limits for public debate.

In late September, the C.I.A. sent policymakers its most detailed classified report on the tubes. For the first time, an agency report acknowledged that "some in the intelligence community" believed rockets were "more likely end uses" for the tubes, according to officials who have seen the report.

Comment: "According to officials who have seen the report..." Why can't we see ALL the reports with just technical information removed?

Meanwhile, at the Energy Department, scientists were startled to find senior White House officials embracing a view of the tubes they considered thoroughly discredited. "I was really shocked in 2002 when I saw it was still there," Dr. Wood, the Oak Ridge adviser, said of the centrifuge claim. "I thought it had been put to bed."

Members of the Energy Department team took a highly unusual step: They began working quietly with a Washington arms-control group, the Institute for Science and International Security, to help the group inform the public about the debate, said one team member and the group's president, David Albright.

On Sept. 23, the institute issued the first in series of lengthy reports that repeated some of the Energy Department's arguments against the C.I.A. analysis, though no classified ones. Still, after more than 16 months of secret debate, it was the first public airing of facts that undermined the most alarming suggestions about Iraq's nuclear threat.

The reports got little attention, partly because reporters did not realize they had been done with the cooperation of top Energy Department experts. The Washington Post ran a brief article about the findings on Page A18. Many major newspapers, including The Times, ran nothing at all.

Comment: Hmm... wonder why nobody noticed? Who's in charge of the media? Who is making sure their bread is buttered?

Scrambling for an 'Estimate'

Soon after Mr. Cheney's appearance on "Meet the Press," Democratic senators began pressing for a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, terrorism and unconventional weapons. A National Intelligence Estimate is a classified document that is supposed to reflect the combined judgment of the entire intelligence community. The last such estimate had been done in 2000.

Most estimates take months to complete. But this one had to be done in days, in time for an October vote on a war resolution. There was little time for review or reflection, and no time for Jaeic, the joint committee, to reconcile deep analytical differences.

This was a potentially thorny obstacle for those writing the nuclear section: What do you do when the nation's nuclear experts strongly doubt the linchpin evidence behind the C.I.A.'s claims that Iraq was rebuilding its nuclear weapons program?

The Energy Department helped solve the problem. In meetings on the estimate, senior department intelligence officials said that while they still did not believe the tubes were for centrifuges, they nonetheless could agree that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons capability.

Several senior scientists inside the department said they were stunned by that stance; they saw no compelling evidence of a revived nuclear program.

Comment: Now we see that the real culprit here is the Energy Department. Hmm... wonder who is in charge of that gang and what their agenda is?

Some laboratory officials blamed time pressure and inexperience. Thomas S. Ryder, the department's representative at the meetings, had been acting director of the department's intelligence unit for only five months. "A heck of a nice guy but not savvy on technical issues," is the way one senior nuclear official described Mr. Ryder, who declined comment.

Comment: Again we see that it might not have been a failure of intelligence by the CIA at all... And, just as shocking as the "failure of intelligence" and lack of action by the current administration on the day of 9-11, we see an equal failure of intelligence on the part of the administration in getting a National Intelligence Estimate put together.

Mr. Ryder's position was more alarming than prior assessments from the Energy Department. In an August 2001 intelligence paper, department analysts warned of suspicious activities in Iraq that "could be preliminary steps" toward reviving a centrifuge program. In July 2002 an Energy Department report, "Nuclear Reconstitution Efforts Underway?", noted that several developments, including Iraq's suspected bid to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger, suggested Baghdad was "seeking to reconstitute" a nuclear weapons program.

According to intelligence officials who took part in the meetings, Mr. Ryder justified his department's now firm position on nuclear reconstitution in large part by citing the Niger reports. Many C.I.A. analysts considered that intelligence suspect, as did analysts at the State Department.

Nevertheless, the estimate's authors seized on the Energy Department's position to avoid the entire tubes debate, with written dissents relegated to a 10-page annex. The estimate would instead emphasize that the C.I.A. and the Energy Department both agreed that Mr. Hussein was rebuilding his nuclear weapons program. Only the closest reader would see that each agency was basing its assessment in large measure on evidence the other considered suspect.

Comment: What a comment: "Only the closest reader would see that each agency was basing its assessment in large measure on evidence the other considered suspect." Again, the "failure of intelligence" rests with the administration.

On Oct. 2, nine days before the Senate vote on the war resolution, the new National Intelligence Estimate was delivered to the Intelligence Committee. The most significant change from past estimates dealt with nuclear weapons; the new one agreed with Mr. Cheney that Iraq was in aggressive pursuit of the atomic bomb.

Asked when Mr. Cheney became aware of the disagreements over the tubes, Mr. Kellems, his spokesman, said, "The vice president knew about the debate at about the time of the National Intelligence Estimate."

Today, the Intelligence Committee's report makes clear, that 93-page estimate stands as one of the most flawed documents in the history of American intelligence. The committee concluded unanimously that most of the major findings in the estimate were wrong, unfounded or overblown.

Comment: "Flawed?!" How about out and out lies!

This was especially true of the nuclear section. [...]

And the tubes were the leading and most detailed evidence cited in the body of the report.

According to the committee, the passages on the tubes, which adopted much of the C.I.A. analysis, were misleading and riddled with factual errors. [...]

Comment: Keep in mind that this opinion came from a junior analyst who was not, apparently, backed by senior analysts in the CIA or among other nuclear experts. Also keep in mind that this difference in opinion was well known to Cheney and gang. Don't forget that the reports that could clear up this whole matter are still classified by the ADMINISTRATION that seems to have a lot to hide in this "failure of intelligence" debate.

Beyond tubes, the estimate cited several other "key judgments" that supported its assessment. The committee found that intelligence just as flawed. [...]

Such "key judgments" are supposed to reflect the very best American intelligence. (The Niger intelligence, for example, was considered too shaky to be included as a key judgment.) Yet as they studied raw intelligence reports, those involved in the Senate investigation came to a sickening realization. "We kept looking at the intelligence and saying, 'My God, there's nothing here,' " one official recalled.

Comment: And we realize with sickening certainty, that the "momentum" behind this nonsense that got us all into the current mess we are in, was Dick Cheney at the behest of George W. Bush. There was no failure of intelligence, there was MANIPULATION of intelligence.

The Vote for War

Soon after the National Intelligence Estimate was completed, Mr. Bush delivered a speech in Cincinnati in which he described the "grave threat" that Iraq and its "arsenal of terror" posed to the United States. He dwelled longest on nuclear weapons, reviewing much of the evidence outlined in the estimate. The C.I.A. had warned him away from mentioning Niger.

"Facing clear evidence of peril," the president concluded, "we cannot wait for the final proof - the smoking gun - that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

Four days later, on Oct. 11, the Senate voted 77-23 to give Mr. Bush broad authority to invade Iraq. The resolution stated that Iraq posed "a continuing threat" to the United States by, among other things, "actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability."

Many senators who voted for the resolution emphasized the nuclear threat.

"The great danger is a nuclear one," Senator Feinstein, the California Democrat, said on the Senate floor.

But Senator Bob Graham, then chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said he voted against the resolution in part because of doubts about the tubes. "It reinforced in my mind pre-existing questions I had about the unreliability of the intelligence community, especially the C.I.A.," Mr. Graham, a Florida Democrat, said in an interview.

Comment: Yeah, right. What a hypocrite! Mr. Graham is just another shill for the "failure of intelligence" horse hockey. As it happens, Graham was having breakfast meetings with Pakistan's ISI chief on the morning of 9-11 - Mahmoud Ahmad - the guy who was passing money to alleged terrorist Mohammed Atta - the pork-chop loving "Islamic Fundamentalist."

At the Democratic convention in Boston this summer, Senator John Kerry pledged that should he be elected president, "I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence." But in October 2002, when the Senate voted on Iraq, Mr. Kerry had not read the National Intelligence Estimate, but instead had relied on a briefing from Mr. Tenet, a spokeswoman said. "According to the C.I.A.'s report, all U.S. intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons," Mr. Kerry said then, explaining his vote. "There is little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop nuclear weapons."

The report cited by Mr. Kerry, an unclassified white paper, said nothing about the tubes debate except that "some" analysts believed the tubes were "probably intended" for conventional arms.

"It is common knowledge that Congress does not have the same access as the executive branch," Brooke Anderson, a Kerry spokeswoman, said yesterday.

Mr. Kerry's running mate, Senator John Edwards, served on the Intelligence Committee, which gave him ample opportunity to ask hard questions. But in voting to authorize war, Mr. Edwards expressed no uncertainty about the principal evidence of Mr. Hussein's alleged nuclear program.

"We know that he is doing everything he can to build nuclear weapons," Mr. Edwards said then. [...]

Comment: Well, there it is folks. Even if Kerry beats Bush (hardly likely unless they just want to take the heat off the Bush Crime Syndicate and are putting another of their men in place), it just amounts to "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss..."

The inspectors found no trace of a clandestine centrifuge program. On Jan. 10, 2003, The Times reported that the international agency was challenging "the key piece of evidence" behind "the primary rationale for going to war." [...]

The C.I.A. theory was in trouble, and senior members of the Bush administration seemed to know it.

Comment: Whoa Pardner! Now, wait a minute here! "The CIA Theory was in trouble"?! What?! We don't even know for certain that the CIA had a theory that can be called a "failure of intelligence." All the evidence of this analysis simply suggests that a junior analyst became the poster boy for Iraqi WMD's and that just about everybody else who was qualified to make a judgment didn't buy that story. Sure, the Energy Department was onboard with the Bushista's, but that doesn't say anything about a "failure of intelligence" that can be resoundingly laid at the door of the CIA.

The "failure of intelligence," if you want to call it that, was the manipulation, utilization, and cooking of "intelligence" by Cheney and gang. Let's keep things clear here. This is quite a jump to suddenly announce that the CIA had a theory that was "in trouble!" Hmm... could it be a "failure of intelligence by the writer of this analysis?! After all, what's up with the New Yuck Times and their promotion of the Bush War anyway? Sure, they acted like they came clean and regretted their deplorable role in cranking on the propaganda machine, but that's just for show. We see here that they are just up to their same old dirty tricks.

Also that January, White House officials who were helping to draft what would become Secretary Powell's speech to the Security Council sent word to the intelligence community that they believed "the nuclear case was weak," the Senate report said. In an interview, a senior administration official said it was widely understood all along at the White House that the evidence of a nuclear threat was piecemeal and weaker than that for other unconventional arms.

Comment: Oh, well... Are we admitting now that it was the White House after all that suffered the "failure of intelligence?" Not so fast - more to come.

But rather than withdraw the nuclear card - a step that could have undermined United States credibility just as tens of thousands of troops were being airlifted to the region - the White House cast about for new arguments and evidence to support it.

Comment: Whoops - your nose is growing! How could admitting the truth undermine United States' credibility? Well, sure, they were cooking a lie to begin with and it might undermine the Administration's credibility. But the whole United States? Hardly likely. What HAS resulted from all of the mess that has ensued is that the whole United States, by supporting the deceitful maneuvers of Bush and Gang, have lost not only credibility, but respect and amity throughout the rest of the world! We are certainly worse off now than if our administration had tried to do the right thing, eat a little crow, and back off from committing War Crimes.

Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked the intelligence agencies for more evidence beyond the tubes to bolster the nuclear case. Winpac analysts redoubled efforts to prove that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Africa. When rocket engineers at the Defense Department were approached by the C.I.A. and asked to compare the Iraqi tubes with American ones, the engineers said the tubes "were perfectly usable for rockets." The agency analysts did not appear pleased. One rocket engineer complained to Senate investigators that the analysts had "an agenda" and were trying "to bias us" into agreeing that the Iraqi tubes were not fit for rockets. In interviews, agency officials denied any such effort.

Comment: Why aren't these analysts named? Is it possible that it was just one analyst named "Joe?" And, by the way, why hasn't this guy been canned for his lousy intell? His "failure of intelligence?"

According to the Intelligence Committee report, the agency also sought to undermine the I.A.E.A.'s work with secret intelligence assessments distributed only to senior policy makers. Nonetheless, on Jan. 22, in a meeting first reported by The Washington Post, the ubiquitous Joe flew to Vienna in a last- ditch attempt to bring the international experts around to his point of view.

Comment: Ah, here he is! Now we see that the "CIA analysts" in the paragraph above this last one probably were just ONE analyst - named Joe. I'd really like to know more about this guy. He seems like a one man walking disaster.

The session was a disaster.

"Everybody was embarrassed when he came and made this presentation, embarrassed and disgusted," one participant said. "We were going insane, thinking, 'Where is he coming from?' "

Comment: May we suggest an answer? How about Israel? But we can't know that for sure since we don't even really know who the guy is. Clever to plant him in the CIA so he can act as the lightning rod for the blame of "failure of intelligence."

On Jan. 27, the international agency rendered its judgment: it told the Security Council that it had found no evidence of a revived nuclear weapons program in Iraq. "From our analysis to date," the agency reported, "it appears that the aluminum tubes would be consistent with the purpose stated by Iraq and, unless modified, would not be suitable for manufacturing centrifuges."

The Powell Presentation

The next night, during his State of the Union address, President Bush cited I.A.E.A. findings from years past that confirmed that Mr. Hussein had had an "advanced" nuclear weapons program in the 1990's. He did not mention the agency's finding from the day before.

Comment: And yet, we are still blaming the problem on the CIA? Huh?!

He did, though, repeat the claim that Mr. Hussein was trying to buy tubes "suitable for nuclear weapons production." Mr. Bush also cited British intelligence that Mr. Hussein had recently sought "significant quantities" of uranium from Africa - a reference in 16 words that the White House later said should have been stricken, though the British government now insists the information was credible.

"Saddam Hussein," Mr. Bush said that night, "has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide. The dictator of Iraq is not disarming."

Comment: Psychopaths always blame their victims of what they themselves are guilty. Indeed, Mr. Bush "has not credibly explained" his activities and he "clearly has much to hide."

A senior administration official involved in vetting the address said Mr. Bush did not cite the I.A.E.A. conclusion of Jan. 27 because the White House believed the agency was analyzing old Iraqi tubes, not the newer ones seized in Jordan. But senior officials in Vienna and Washington said the international group's analysis covered both types of tubes.

Comment: Yeah, right! Believe that and we have a nice bridge in Brooklyn to sell you!

The senior administration official also said the president's words were carefully chosen to reflect the doubts at the Energy Department. The crucial phrase was "suitable for nuclear weapons production." The phrase stopped short of asserting that the tubes were actually being used in centrifuges. And it was accurate in the sense that Energy Department officials always left open the possibility that the tubes could be modified for use in a centrifuge.

Comment: Isn't this what is called "Straining at gnats and swallowing camels?" Typical of this administration, though. It's like Cheney splitting hairs over whether or not it was torture or abuse in the Iraqi prisons.

"There were differences," the official said, "and we had to address those differences."

In his address, the president announced that Mr. Powell would go before the Security Council on Feb. 5 and lay out the intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs. The purpose was to win international backing for an invasion, and so the administration spent weeks drafting and redrafting the presentation, with heavy input from the C.I.A., the National Security Council and I. Lewis Libby, Mr. Cheney's chief of staff.

Comment: What is unbelievable at this point is that they just kept on going with this, knowing that everything they were doing was based on lies, lies, and more lies. NOT a "failure of intelligence." It is clear that the administration knew the truth of the entire matter all along!

The Intelligence Committee said some drafts prepared for Mr. Powell contained language on the tubes that was patently incorrect. The C.I.A. wanted Mr. Powell to say, for example, that Iraq's specifications for roundness were so exacting "that the tubes would be rejected as defective if I rolled one under my hand on this table, because the mere pressure of my hand would deform it."

Intelligence analysts at the State Department waged a quiet battle against much of the proposed language on tubes. A year before, they had sent Mr. Powell a report explaining why they believed the tubes were more likely for rockets.

Comment: Hmm... here we get a peek at one of those classified reports that, apparently, were not a "failure of intelligence."

The National Intelligence Estimate included their dissent - that they saw no compelling evidence of a comprehensive effort to revive a nuclear weapons program. Now, in the days before the Security Council speech, they sent the secretary detailed memos warning him away from a long list of assertions in the drafts, the intelligence committee found. The language on the tubes, they said, contained "egregious errors" and "highly misleading" claims. Changes were made, language softened. The line about "the mere pressure of my hand" was removed.

"My colleagues," Mr. Powell assured the Security Council, "every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions."

Comment: Lord, how his nose grew that day!

He made his way to the subject of Mr. Hussein's current nuclear capabilities.

"By now," he said, "just about everyone has heard of these tubes, and we all know there are differences of opinion. There is controversy about what these tubes are for. Most U.S. experts think they are intended to serve as rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Other experts and the Iraqis themselves argue that they are really to produce the rocket bodies for a conventional weapon, a multiple rocket launcher."

But Mr. Powell did not acknowledge that those "other experts" included many of the nation's most authoritative nuclear experts, some of whom said in interviews that they were offended to find themselves now lumped in with a reviled government.

In making the case that the tubes were for centrifuges, Mr. Powell made claims that his own intelligence experts had told him were not accurate. Mr. Powell, for example, asserted to the Security Council that the tubes were manufactured to a tolerance "that far exceeds U.S. requirements for comparable rockets."

Comment: And the nose continues to grow...

Yet in a memo written two days earlier, Mr. Powell's intelligence experts had specifically cautioned him about those very same words. "In fact," they explained, "the most comparable U.S. system is a tactical rocket - the U.S. Mark 66 air-launched 70-millimeter rocket - that uses the same, high-grade (7075-T6) aluminum, and that has specifications with similar tolerances."

In the end, Mr. Powell put his personal prestige and reputation behind the C.I.A.'s tube theory.

Comment: Wonder what kind of blackmail they used on Powell to get him to stand up and lie knowing that he was lying?

"When we came to the aluminum tubes," Richard A. Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said in an interview, "the secretary listened to the discussion of the various views among intelligence agencies, and reflected those issues in his presentation. Since his task at the U.N. was to present the views of the United States, he went with the overall judgment of the intelligence community as reflected by the director of central intelligence."

As Mr. Powell summed it up for the United Nations, "People will continue to debate this issue, but there is no doubt in my mind these illicit procurement efforts show that Saddam Hussein is very much focused on putting in place the key missing piece from his nuclear weapons program: the ability to produce fissile material."

Six weeks later, the war began.

This article was reported by David Barstow, William J. Broad and Jeff Gerth, and was written by Mr. Barstow.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times

Comment: While we are appreciative of this timeline, we note that it is little more than more of the horse hockey about the "failure of intelligence". How many people will actually read this piece carefully and realize what it is really saying? Tenet's statement that both sides of the issue were presented to the administration is glossed over quickly, and the author repeats time and again that it was a "failure of intelligence" of the CIA, rather than the truth: it was a deliberate deception of the American people perpetrated by the Bush Administration, including George W. Bush himself.

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Doubts raised on Saddam theory in 2001

Oliver Burkeman in New York and Rory McCarthy in Baghdad
The Guardian
Monday October 4, 2004

The Bush administration knew as early as mid-2001 that a central plank of its argument about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction was regarded by its own nuclear experts as probably untrue, it was reported yesterday.

The energy department experts said thousands of aluminium tubes purchased by Iraq, and cited by the vice-president, Dick Cheney, as "irrefutable evidence" of Saddam's nuclear ambitions, were more likely destined for small-arms manufacture, according to the New York Times.

The experts conveyed their doubts to the administration in an intelligence memo dated August 17 2001, but were disregarded in favour of a junior CIA analyst who championed the idea that the tubes were to be used in uranium enrichment, the report said.

The experts conveyed their doubts to the administration in an intelligence memo dated August 17 2001, but were disregarded in favour of a junior CIA analyst who championed the idea that the tubes were to be used in uranium enrichment, the report said.

The tubes, some of which were intercepted, became the basis for the claim by Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, that pre-emptive action was justified because "we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud". Unnamed administration officials said Ms Rice and Mr Bush did not know of the doubts until after Ms Rice had made that statement in September 2002.

Comment: For those readers unskilled in the art of reading between the lines of media doublespeak, "Doubts raised on Saddam theory in 2001" means, "Bush and Co fabricated evidence to convince the world that Saddam was a threat".

But fear not, if that is too much of a shock for you, Condi is prepared to continue to lie to your face about it and perhaps convince you that she and the rest of the decaying bunch of Zombies in the White House are in fact righteous dudes...

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Rice: Saddam Posed Nuclear Threat to U.S.

Yahoo News
Oct 4 2004

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice on Sunday defended her characterization of Saddam Hussein's nuclear capabilities in the months before the Iraq invasion, even as a published report said government experts had cast doubt at the time.

In the run-up to the March 2003 war, Rice said in a television interview in 2002 that the Iraqi president was trying to obtain high-strength aluminum tubes to rebuild his nuclear weapons program. The tubes, she said, were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs." On Sunday, Rice acknowledged she was aware of a debate within the U.S. intelligence community about whether the tubes were intended for nuclear weapons.

"I knew that there was a dispute. I actually didn't really know the nature of the dispute," Rice told ABC's "This Week" program.

Comment: Excuuuse us?! So Condi is saying that "she knew there was a debate about whether the tubes were intended for nuclear weapons" but at the same time she "did not know the nature of the dispute"??

Well, perhaps we should help her out. You see, Condi, if there is a dispute about whether aluminium tubes are going to be used for the manufacture of nuclear weapons, then the nature of that dispute is whether or not aluminium tubes are going to be used for the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Is that clear enough?

Sheesh! It brings back memories of the embarrassing and fumbling Bush on debate night as we were all forced to watch as he tried ever so hard to to compose a single coherent sentence.

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Saddam 'bought UN allies' with oil
Oct 4 2004

A LEAKED report has exposed the extent of alleged corruption in the United Nations' oil-for-food scheme in Iraq, identifying up to 200 individuals and companies that made profits running into hundreds of millions of pounds from it.

The report largely implicates France and Russia, whom Saddam Hussein targeted as he sought support on the UN Security Council before the Iraq war. Both countries were influential voices against UN-backed action. A senior UN official responsible for the scheme is identified as a major beneficiary.

The report, marked "highly confidential", also finds that the private office of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, profited from the cheap oil. Saddam's regime awarded this oil during the run-up to the war when military action was being discussed at the UN.

The report was drawn up on behalf of the interim Iraqi government in preparation for a! possible legal action against those who may have illicitly profited under Saddam. The Iraqis hired the London-based accountants KPMG and lawyers Freshfields to advise on future action.

Comment: We would like to propose a different and slightly longer title for this story which we feel would get the point across much more clearly:

"Under the guise of an elaborate scheme called the "UN oil for food program" US and European politicians and industrialists in co-operation with Saddam Hussein, sought to rob the Iraqi people of billions of dollars derived from oil revenue which would otherwise have been used to provide them with basic health and hygiene necessities. This action resulted in the deaths of up to 1.5 million Iraqi children over the 12 years period that the scheme was in place. At the same time, the cover of the "oil for food program" allowed these politicians and industrialists to project to the world an image of righteousness and justice, and also lay the groundwork for the current Iraq invasion by maintaining the image of Saddam as a tyrant."

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War on terror used as pretext for tyrannical erosion of fundamental freedoms in the UK

Cape Times
Tareq Ali

We HAVE seen over the last few years, and indeed stretching back more than 30 years, a policy of the erosion of so-called democracy in the United Kingdom as a reaction to alleged, and of late rarely real, terrorist activity on the mainland.

The responses by the British government to Irish terror tactics, at face value in support of the liberation of Ireland, were legislative measures - such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1973. A review of these and later legislative measures reveals the extent to which these measures have become accepted and integrated into the fabric of British society, its institutions and its outlook.

The current government's response to the attacks on the World Trade Centre has been yet another serious attack on civil liberties and a significant accumulation of power by the executive. In the long run! , the accumulation of power by the state over the individual is as serious a threat, if not greater, than the terrorist activity the response is purported to protect the individual from.

Much of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act of 2001, the government's main legislative response, went far beyond a genuine attempt to deal with terrorism. It is instead the speeding-up of a long-running trend whereby the fundamental freedoms and protections from arbitrary state power in Britain are being progressively dismantled.

From the 1980s onwards, legislation has been brought into force which increases state power over the individual and communities. One can see a pattern emerging which attacks the right to silence, the right to a fair trial, freedom of association, freedom of movement, freedom of speech, the right to protest and the presumption of innocence.

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Bush Retreats Into A Substitute Reality

By Sidney Blumenthal
The Guardian - UK

By touching on Bush's ambivalent relations with his father, Kerry exposed his delusions about Iraq.

After months of flawless execution in a well-orchestrated campaign, President Bush had to stand alone in an unpredictable debate. He had travelled the country, appearing before adoring pre-selected crowds, delivered a carefully crafted acceptance speech before his convention, and approved tens of millions of dollars in TV commercials to belittle his opponent. In the lead, Bush believed he had only to assert his superiority to end the contest once and for all.

But onstage the president ran out of talking points. Unable to explain the logic for his policies, or think on his feet, he was thrown back on the raw elements of his personality and leadership style.

Every time he was confronted with ambivalence, his impulse was to sweep it aside. He claimed he must be followed because he is the leader. Fate, in the form of September 11, had placed authority in his hands as a man of destiny. Scepticism, pragmatism and empiricism are enemies. Absolute faith prevails over open-ended reason, subjectivity over fact. Belief in belief is the ultimate sacrament of his political legitimacy.

In the split TV screen, how Bush felt was written all over his face. His grimaces exposed his irritation and anger at being challenged. Lacking intellectual stamina and repeating points as though on a feedback loop, he tried to close argument by assertion. With no one interrupting him, he protested, "Let me finish" - a phrase he occasionally deploys to great effect before the cowed White House press corps.

John Kerry was set up beforehand as Bush's foil: long-winded, dour, dull. But the Kerry who showed up was crisp, nimble and formidable. His thrusts brought out Bush's rigidity and stubbornness. The more Bush pleaded his own decisiveness, the more he appeared reactive.

Time and again, as he tried to halt Kerry, he accused him of "mixed signals" and "inconsistency." For Bush, certainty equals strength. Kerry responded with a devastating deconstruction of Bush's epistemology. Nothing like this critique of pure reason has ever been heard in a presidential debate. "It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong," said Kerry.

Kerry's analysis of Bush's "colossal error of judgment" in Iraq was systematic, factual and historical. The coup de grace was the citation of the president's father's actions in the Gulf war. "You know," said Kerry, "the president's father did not go into Iraq, into Baghdad, beyond Basra. And the reason he didn't is, he said - he wrote in his book - because there was no viable exit strategy. And he said our troops would be occupiers in a bitterly hostile land. That's exactly where we find ourselves today." With that, Kerry touched on Bush's most ambivalent relationship, the father he recently called "the wrong father," compared to the "Higher Father".

In flustered response, Bush simply insisted on his authority. "I just know how this world works ... there must be certainty from the US president." He reverted to his claim that September 11 justified the invasion of Iraq because "the enemy" - Saddam Hussein - "attacked us." A stunned but swift-footed Kerry observed: "The president just said something extraordinarily revealing and frankly very important ... he just said, 'The enemy attacked us'. Saddam Hussein didn't attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us." In his effort to banish all doubt, Bush had retreated into a substitute reality, a delusional version of Iraq, ultimately faith-based.

Bush's attack lines on Kerry did not describe the surprising man standing opposite him. They had been effective last week, but were suddenly shopworn. But Bush couldn't adjust. The greater his frustration in the debate, the more frequently he spoke of his difficulties in coping with "my job." Ten times he spoke of his "hard work": listening to intelligence briefings, talking to allies, having to comfort a bereaved mother whose son was killed in Iraq.

Near the end, Kerry praised Bush for his public service, and his wife, and his daughters. "I'm trying to put a leash on them," Bush said. That was hard work, too. "Well, I don't know," replied Kerry, who also has daughters. "I've learned not to do that, Mr President." Even in the banter, Kerry gained the upper-hand.

But Bush lost more than control in the first debate. He has lost the plot.

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Bush/Kerry Debate - The entire spectacle was an exercise in fakery and chicanery

Wing TV
October 2004

Before you start arguing about who won the "debate," don't lose sight of the fact that John Kerry and George Bush are on the same team, they're Skull & Bones blood-brothers, they work for the same masters, and they ultimately seek the same New World Order goals. In addition, this event was choreographed with such precision that there was no possibility that either of the actors would ruin the illusion which has been so carefully crafted for the American public.

What we were witnessing, then, was nothing more than a form of magic where every participant – the candidates, moderator, pundits, "pollsters," and the media at large – partook in a grand deception which was staged to maintain their status quo stranglehold on the "un-reality" of our existence.

Don't you get it? The entire spectacle was an exercise in fakery and chicanery … a charade and a masquerade --- all played-off as if it was real. And believe me; a great deal of effort has been (and will continue to be) exerted to preserve this mirage.

Now, this isn't to say that John Kerry doesn't want to be president, for once one sells their soul; they do seek what they view as their just material rewards. So, yes, even though Kerry covets the Oval Office's immortal legacy, he would also unquestioningly fall on the sword if his elitist handlers required him to do so (i.e. the overall mission undoubtedly takes precedence over the individual players). On the other hand, I don't think George Bush would object in the least if he were "replaced" in our upcoming (s)election. He could retire to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, collect a pension, and never be heard from again (which would suit him fine)

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Fox New Channel admits reporter posted fake story about Kerry
Sun Oct 3, 2004

WASHINGTON - An official at Fox News Channel said that one of its political reporters has been disciplined for posting a fake news item on its website about Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

Paul Schur, a spokesman for the network, said Fox's chief political
correspondent Carl Cameron had been disciplined for posting an item on that included several made-up quotes attributed to Kerry.

"Carl has been reprimanded," Schur said Sunday, defining further comment.

The article alleged to cover a post-debate rally by Kerry at which the
Massachusetts senator was purported to gush over his "metrosexual" appearance.

"Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" the article by the Cameron read, purportedly quoting Kerry after the event.

"Women should like me! I do manicures," the story also quotes Kerry as telling the crowd.

The article also has the Democratic candidate contrasting himself to US President George W. Bush.

"I'm metrosexual -- he's a cowboy," Cameron quoted Kerry as saying.

Officials for Fox, which has been criticized for being biased towards Bush's Republican party, decline to explain how the spoof article ended up on the network's website.

A statement by Fox on the website Sunday apologized for the article, saying it was a joke.

" erred ... on Friday, posting an item purporting to contain quotes attributable to Kerry," the statement read.

"The item was based on a reporters partial script that had been written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast. also regrets that error, which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice."

US media quoted a statement by the Kerry campaign's spokesman, Phil Singer, saying Fox was right to own up to the gaffe.

"Fox is doing the right thing by admitting its mistake and correcting the record," Singer told the New York Times in an article published Sunday.

"George Bush would be well-served to heed the lesson and admit to his own mistakes," Singer said.

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Arab League calls for UN intervention

Aljazeera - Monday 04 October 2004

The Arab League wants the UN to save the Palestinians

The Arab League has decided to appeal to the United Nations to halt Israel's deadly military offensive in the northern Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians are faced with "a serious humanitarian situation", Arab League representatives said on Sunday and called for aid organisations to provide emergency relief.

The five-day Israeli military onslaught has claimed the lives of more than 65 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians.

After talks at its Cairo headquarters, the League asked Arab representatives in New York "to make an urgent appeal to the General Assembly and/or Security Council to halt Israel's continued war of extermination against the Palestinian people".

They will also call for international protection of the Palestinians "in line with the Geneva accords [on people living under occupation] and international laws".

Permanent representatives of the Arab League also urged the Middle East peace quartet - a grouping of the United Nations, Washington, Moscow and the European Union - "to live up to its responsibility and move rapidly to take a decisive stand to end the Israeli aggression".

The Israeli army launched an operation in northern Gaza late on 29 September that escalated a day later after a Palestinian rocket attack killed two children in the southern Israeli town of Sderot.

Comment: "Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are". By it's support of the genocide that Israel is committing against a defenceless Palestinian people, members of the US government should themselves be tried for crimes against humanity. America is truly the "great satan", quite possibly the most barbarous and bloodthirsty nation that has ever existed.

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Eight killed in Gaza as Israel warns onslaught could last weeks


JABALIYA, Gaza Strip (AFP) - Eight Palestinians, including a child and a teenage girl, were killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip as the army warned its massive offensive could last for weeks.

Since Israel unleashed its military might six days ago, 73 Palestinians have been killed in the deadliest incursion into the northern Gaza Strip since the start of the intifada, or uprising, four years ago.

Israeli chief of staff General Moshe Yaalon warned that the onslaught, aimed at establishing a buffer zone to prevent rocket firings on Israel, could last for weeks.

"Our forces are ready to operate not just for days but for weeks," Yaalon told army radio on Monday.

"In the war on terror, one does not resolve the problem in a single operation but by a series of operations and we will continue for as long as it

Comment: The excuse for this most recent attack on innocent civilians is that it is designed to prevent the firing of rockets by Palestinian "militants" from Gaza into Israel. That excuse is 100% BS. Sharon is simply acclimatising the world to the butchering of Palestinian civilians, so that, when the time comes for him to do it "en masse", he hopes no one will bat an eyelid.

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Half an hour later, people were still collecting body parts

By Amira Hass
October 01, 2004

At 10 A.M., B. arrived at his family's house in the Jabalya refugee camp to try and persuade his parents, uncles and sisters to leave the danger zone and spend a few days at his house in Gaza City. Since Tuesday night, the camp has been under incessant fire, from missiles, tank and helicopter guns and snipers. Bulldozers destroyed houses and uprooted orchards. The electricity was cut, fixed and cut again. In many houses, the water was running out: Bulldozers and tanks had damaged the wells and pipes. B. pleaded with his family until 12:30 P.M. But his parents, both in their 70s, refused to leave their home.

At 4:30 P.M. (3:30 Israel time), a tank shell exploded 20 or 30 meters from their house on Madaras Street. B.'s sister A., a 30-year-old lawyer, heard the explosion, which shook the whole house, and afterward, "like rain," pieces of metal falling on the roof, and then the shouts and groans, which penetrated the house along with the smoke and dust. In a telephone conversation, she said she assumed it was a flechette shell, which emits nail-like darts when it explodes - particularly after she saw the lacerated bodies and limbs in the street. Many of the wounded were children, she said.

Half an hour later, people were still collecting body parts. The tank remained where it was. But that explosion convinced the street's residents to leave. B's family went by back streets to the taxi station, and then to Gaza City.

A. guessed the tank was stationed in the courtyard of one of the street's three schools, a few meters from the people, mainly children, who were hurt. The courtyard wall separated the tank from the people in the street. On Wednesday night, a bulldozer and a tank uprooted an orchard at the eastern end of Madaras Street. The next morning, a tank entered one of the schools. A few hours later, A. saw that tank leave and another tank approach, crushing fences and house walls in its path. Behind it came a bulldozer. Their progress was accompanied by gunfire. The two armored vehicles stood in the street for about 15 minutes, then entered the school courtyard. Then the residents heard an explosion from the courtyard and concluded that a bomb had blown up under the tank or the bulldozer. Black smoke arose. A. saw armed men enter the school courtyard, then she heard shots: Israeli snipers located in the Abu Sultan home on the corner of Madaras St. The wounded cried out, and two people who tried to rescue them were shot and wounded in turn. Only on the third try did the rescuers succeed.

Children gathered in the street, as is their wont, staring at the smoke rising from the tank. The ambulances remained in the vicinity. Soon afterward, they would evacuate some 20 casualties of the tank shell. At first, the media reported nine dead and nine seriously wounded. By 8 P.M., they were already reporting 12 dead. Most were children, her neighbors, said A.

The tank shell explosion shook many houses in the crowded Jabalya camp. The children of O., who lives some 300 meters from the site of the explosion, hugged their father in fear. For two days, they have been unable to sleep because of the incessant shooting. But O.'s family also refused to evacuate to a safer place, even though the tanks surrounded their neighborhood. During a telephone conversation with O., the firing could be heard clearly.

O. fought against the IDF in Lebanon in 1982. In his view, the fighting in Jabalya is "one-sided." The Palestinian resistance, he said, is very weak. He can tell this from the type of shooting and its frequency. The soldiers, he said, do not leave their tanks and bulldozers. What can gunmen do against them?

Comment: "One sided" indeed, or better said, a massacre. There is no Palestinian resistance to speak of. They have guns and extremely primitive unreliable home-made rockets, what use are they against state-of-the-art US and Israeli-made tanks?

The Palestinians are being set-up, Sharon is fighting his war on both sides. Hamas and various other Palestinian militant groups are a creation of and protected and funded by Israel. How else do you explain the fact that, as thousands of Israeli troops, tanks, helicopters and armored vehicles amassed in the refugee camp of Jebaliya, members of "Izzedine al Qassam" were holding a press conference in a mosque nearby?

How convenient for Sharon that this group would choose to provide him with this very public justification for the brutal incursion and murder of Palestinian children in the name of rooting out the "terrorists".

How lucky these militants are to get away with staging their conference right under the nose of the the IDF as it rumbled past outside. One would almost think that they had some form of assurance that they would not be interfered with.

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"Palestinian Militants" Stage press Conference

Yahoo News

Palestinian masked militants from Izzedine al Qassam, the militant wing of Hamas, stand in front of various weapons at a news conference in a mosque in the Jebaliya refugee camp, nothern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2004. In their first-ever news conference, members of the secretive Hamas military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, threatened Saturday to fire rockets at the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon, which is 15 kilometers (10 miles) north of Gaza and has so far been out of reach of the rockets.

Comment: It really isn't that hard to lie to the public, especially when you know what the public expects to see and hear. But what of the suicide bombers? Isn't there enough evidence that Palestinians have blown themselves up on buses etc? Well, no, not really. What we have is the official story from the Israeli army and press. If they say that a suicide bomber was on a bus, does that make it so? What if it was a Palestinian who was duped into carrying a package that contained a bomb that was then detonated by remote control? Sound too far fetched? See here, and open your eyes to reality. Deception is the name of the game.

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Gaza Residents Run Out Space to Bury Dead

Fri Sep 17
Translated from "El Sureño"

Hemmed into their small Gaza town by an Israeli army blockade while their young men exchange fire with soldiers, the people of Beit Lahiya are running out of space to bury their dead.

Normally, Beit Lahiya uses the graveyard at the nearby Jebaliya refugee camp. But since Israeli tanks and infantry surrounded the town Wednesday in a mission to stop Palestinian rocket fire, even the dead have nowhere to go.

Troops destroyed homes, demolished factories and even a kindergarten.

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Israel to soothe trauma with marijuana
By Corinne Heller
Sunday October 3, 9:23 AM

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli soldiers traumatised by battle with the Palestinians have a new, unconventional weapon to exorcise their nightmares -- marijuana.

Under an experimental programme, Delta-9 tetrohydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient found in the cannabis plant, will be administered to 15 soldiers over the next several months in an effort to fight post-traumatic stress disorder.

Raphael Mechoulam of Jerusalem's Hebrew University, the chief researcher behind a project he described as a world-first, said the chemical could trick the brain into suppressing unwanted memories.

For soldiers haunted by flashbacks of traumatic battle experiences, he said, the drug, administered in liquid form, could be the answer to hundreds of sleepless nights.

"It helps them sleep better, for one thing. These people often wake up from nightmares, and experience sweating or hallucinations," Mechoulam told Reuters.

The army said civilian and military committees had approved the experiment.

Millions of people, mainly war veterans, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychiatric condition that can develop after experiencing life-threatening events.


Doctors already use so-called medical marijuana to treat nausea among cancer patients, appetite loss among AIDS sufferers and neurological disorders such as Tourette's Syndrome, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

However, Mechoulam said this is the first time THC would be used to treat post-traumatic stress.

Some of the soldiers slated to take part in the experiment came down with the disorder after experiences confronting a Palestinian uprising which began in 2000. Others are veterans of past Israeli-Arab wars.

Symptoms can be eased by painkillers and psychological treatment but THC could speed up the process, or at least reduce the number of traumatic episodes, said Mechoulam. He was among a group of researchers that first isolated THC in 1964.

"If given two or three times a day, it lasts about six hours at a time," Mechoulam said at his office in the university's School of Pharmacy.

The effects of THC on stress were first discovered by Germany's Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in 2002. Scientists tested it on mice and found THC lessened their fear of electric shocks, because it suppressed their memory of them.


Israel's army usually frowns on cannabis and soldiers caught smoking it can expect to be stripped of their ranks or thrown into military jail. Special government authorisation was needed for the experiment.

"A medical permit is needed for what is called 'compassionate use' of marijuana, which means it's used to treat illnesses ... when nothing else seems to work," Mechoulam said.

Smoking marijuana, as an estimated eight percent of Israelis aged 18-40 do, does not act as a medicine on its own, he said.

"The drug is only approved for medical use, and its active curing ingredient, THC, must be isolated and used in medical treatment," he said.

Instead of smoking the drug, soldiers will drink THC dissolved in olive oil.

"We prefer to give it under the tongue rather than through a pill because it's more effective. I hope (the drug) will help at least part of the time, so they can sleep better more often," Mechoulam said.

If successful, the treatment could be tried elsewhere.

The U.S. National Centre for Mental Health says that 30 percent of Americans who spent time in war zones have experienced the disorder, dubbed "shell shock" by veterans of World War One.

Surveys conducted by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington in 2003 found that nearly a fifth of U.S. soldiers returning from the war in Iraq may suffer from the disorder.

A million Vietnam War veterans are believed to have developed it as well.

A New York Academy of Medicine poll found that levels of post-traumatic stress disorder doubled among New York City residents a few weeks after the September 11 attacks.

Comment: US and Israeli soldiers have already committed some of the worst war crimes ever seen. Now, just imagine what they will be capable of if they have THC to ease their pain. If a soldier isn't already a psychopath, THC will make him act like one! Do you get the feeling that Nazi Germany will look like a picnic compared to what the US and Israel are unleashing?

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At least 12 dead in twin car bombings in Baghdad
Mon Oct 4, 7:29 AM ET

BAGHDAD (AFP) - At least 10 people were killed when a car bomb ripped through the entrance of an Iraqi army recruitment centre in Baghdad, while a second bomb exploded near a hotel used by foreign workers killing at least two people.

Adding to the carnage, a top official at Iraq's science and technology ministry was shot dead along with a female civil servant by unknown attackers, an official said.

Desperate to crush a deadly insurgency that has raged since soon after last year's US-led invasion, US warplanes bombed suspected rebel positions in the insurgent enclave of Fallujah, killing nine people.

At the army recruitment centre in Baghdad, hundreds of young men, some already signed up to join the army and others hoping to enlist, had been waiting inside when the car bomb detonated.

"It was a car bomb that went off at the entrance of the recruitment centre," said Iraqi army Lieutenant Mohamed Abdallah at the scene of the carnage.

Blood was splattered on the ground at the nearby Yarmuk hospital where cars and trucks sped in and out, ferrying the casualties from the blast site, which had been quickly cordoned off by Iraqi security forces.

Doctor Firas al-Amin said at least 10 people died and 76 were wounded but he warned the figures could rise significantly.

"Our wards are working at full capacity. We are trying to cope with the situation, but it is really horrible," he said.

Inside, young men, some with horrific wounds, were screaming in agony and grief.

"I came here with 109 of my colleagues from Najaf, we were told to bring relevant papers to sign up to a new special force in the army," said Wafi Mohamed, 32, slapping his head as he waited outside the emergency room.

"Oh my God where are my friends?" asked the young man from the holy city south of Baghdad, which had been the scene of heavy fighting in August between US troops and rebel fighters loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr.

Another young man, Mohamed Jassem, 25, lay wailing, his legs fractured.

"I was blown away by the impact of the blast," Jassem yelled as a group of friends tried to comfort him. [...]

A second car bomb rocked the centre of Baghdad at about 9:30 am (0630 GMT), sending a thick column of smoke into the sky.

The blast, which struck 100 metres (yards) away from the Baghdad Hotel -- a place often used by Westerners -- ripped through several nearby vehicles, including an all-terrain vehicle of the sort used by many expatriates here, an AFP correspondent on the scene said.

Iraqi police and US soldiers immediately blocked off the surrounding area, as American helicopters buzzed overhead. [...]

US and Iraqi officials blame the Jordanian-born militant Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi for some of the deadliest attacks.

In a bid to flush out his network of supporters, US warplanes mounted two pre-dawn raids on Fallujah, a town west of Baghdad that has been a no-go zone for ground troops since April, targeting what US commanders said were Zarqawi safehouses.

Doctor Adel Khamis of Fallujah general hospital said that the second of the two strikes killed nine people, three of them women and two children.

But a military statement said US forces "conducted a precision strike against a building where approximately 25 Anti-Iraqi Forces network members (US terminology for insurgents) were moving weapons on the outskirts of Fallujah."

In a second raid, "Multi-National Force-Iraq once again struck members of the Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi terrorist network operating in central Fallujah," the military said.

The bombings mirrored three similar attacks on the Sunni Arab rebel bastion since Friday night.

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Taser Receives First Municipal Lease For Its X26 Energy Weapons

Fri Sep 17
Translated from "El Sureño"

Taser's conducted energy weapons utilize compressed nitrogen to shoot two small probes up to 15 or 21 feet. These probes are connected to the weapon by high-voltage insulated wire. When the probes make contact, the Taser energy weapon transmits powerful electrical pulses along the wires and into the body of the target. Taser announced Wednesday that it received its first municipal lease order for 324 Taser X26 conducted energy weapons and accessories from the Indianapolis Police Department in Indiana.

Indianapolis Police utilized this lease program to supplement the 100 units currently deployed by the department. "We are very excited to offer our tax-exempt municipal lease financing through Koch Financial Corporation, a renowned leader in municipal financing and trade, to assist law enforcement agencies, like the Indianapolis Police Department," said Tom Sm! ith, President and co-founder of Taser International. "This lease program allows agencies to obtain life saving Taser technology while staying within tightening budgetary limits,"

"We provide agencies with an extremely competitive and user-friendly program. Our new tax-exempt municipal lease financing program offers many benefits such as flexible repayment terms, up to 100% financing with no down payment, very competitive rates, and terms of up to five years for payment," continued Mr. Smith.

Comment: Coming to a neighborhood near you!!

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Exxon Abandons Flagship Azeri Well
October 4, 2004

BAKU - U.S. oil major ExxonMobil's hopes of a big oil strike on its flagship Azeri offshore field faded on Monday after it said it had shut down the first ultradeep well there after failing to find commercial deposits.

"We discovered that the first well on Zafar-Mashal does not contain commercial hydrocarbon reserves and we decided to shut it down," Exxon's spokeswoman Leila Rzakuliyeva told Reuters.

"It's premature to talk about drilling new wells on the field," she added.

At 7,087 meters, the well was the deepest in the Caspian and Azeri geologists have said it was the most expensive too, costing Exxon more than $100 million.

The results of drilling on the Zafar-Mashal field had been expected to give a big clue as to whether the Caspian country's shelf contained more significant reserves or whether its potential has been overestimated.

Exxon's block is currently the only active new exploration project on the Azeri shelf, despite the existence of over 20 production-sharing agreements between Baku and multinationals.

The Azeri oil boom was fueled by the "contract of the century," when a BP-led group agreed 10 years ago to develop three mammoth offshore fields, known as Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli (ACG), set to become a major source of crude for a pipeline to Turkey.

Oil will start flowing next year with shipments gradually rising to over one million barrels per day.

The confirmation of ACG's reserves prompted many experts and Azeri officials to forecast further multi-billion barrel discoveries. But investors have found only one big offshore gas field in the past decade, Shakh-Deniz, while a number of projects were shut down after having failed to strike oil.

Many investors have postponed tapping their blocks, partly due to the scarcity of drilling equipment on the land-locked sea. Further gas discoveries will also raise questions about the import capacity of the only potentially attractive neighboring market, Turkey.

Exxon leads the $3 billion Zafar-Mashal (Victory Torch) project with a 30 percent interest. State Azeri firm SOCAR holds 50 percent and U.S. ConocoPhillips owns the remaining 20 percent. The block is 100 km (62.14 miles) offshore from Baku.

Exxon is involved in four Azeri projects and has already invested around $1.5 billion.

One of the projects is a 50/50 PSA with SOCAR on the neighboring Nakhichevan field, where the first well discovered only gas several years ago.

Zafar-Mashal is the only Azeri block which was supposed to produce major exploration news this year.

After having completed drilling on Zafar-Mashal, Exxon will send a $250-million newly-built Lider platform to Russian oil major LUKOIL, which will operate it closer to the Russian border, with exploration expected to last at least six months.

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Vaccinating against Vice

The bell rings and Bobby rushes outside to meet his friends in the field behind the school. When he gets there some older boys are smoking. One of them smiles at Bobby and hands him a cigarette. "Wanna drag?" he asks. At 13, Bobby has never smoked before. Not wanting to look like a geek, he takes the cigarette. He inhales, sputters and coughs. The smoke burns his throat and makes his eyes water. He tries again. He doesn't cough, but the cigarette tastes horrible.

Over time, other children become addicted but not Bobby. When he was younger, his parents vaccinated him against nicotine as part of a government-sanctioned program. He can't feel nicotine's pleasurable effects, so doesn't get addicted to cigarettes.

Far-fetched? Not at all. Successful trials with nicotine and cocaine-specific vaccines could make Bobby's story a reality soon. And it was widely reported this summer that the British government could soon be considering a program to vaccinate children against addiction to nicotine, cocaine and other drugs. So the technology and political interest are there.

Comment: We wonder, does it work on adults and is there one for cocaine, alcohol and compulsive lying? It's just that there is a guy down in Texas we think could do with some of this stuff.

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New bird flu outbreak hits Indonesia
Monday October 4, 2:39 PM

Hundreds of chickens at a farm in Indonesia have died of a strain of bird flu that is potentially deadly to humans.

An official said lab tests showed that 350 chickens at the farm at Kranggan Harjo on the central island of Java have died of the H5N1 virus, a lethal strain, which has killed at least 30 people in Southeast Asia this year.

"The bird flu virus was of the H5N1 strain," the local head of the animal husbandry office, Gembong Murdowo, was quoted by the Jakarta Post daily.

There was no immediate confirmation from officials.

Murdowo said the carcasses of the dead chickens had been burned to prevent the virus from spreading.

At least 30 people have died of bird flu in Vietnam and Thailand since the start of a major outbreak late last year. No Indonesians are known to have been infected by the virus.

Indonesia in July launched a major vaccination programme to eradicate bird flu which was lingering in some districts.

Officials said the virus had resurfaced because some farmers had neglected procedures by using illegal vaccines and restocking their poultry too early. Thai officials last week confirmed its first probable case of human-to-human infection of bird flu following the deaths of a mother and daughter.

A variation of bird flu was blamed for the deaths of as many as 40 million people worldwide in 1918.

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