CIA, Qatari, Saudi Conspiracy To Violate United Nations Mandates and International Treaties

[Qatar and Saudi Arabia are running a joint foreign policy for the CIA, which is in direct opposition to the will of the US Congress and a clear violation of the UN Charter.  Qatar and the Saudis are bankrolling a major CIA operation to overthrow the legitimate government of the Syrian Republic.   They are running guns and advanced heavy weaponry into Syria, without the authority of the Congress, or the UN, and placing them into the hands of mercenaries, criminals and terrorists in obvious violations of United Nations arms control treaties, treaties against human trafficking, and purchasing agreements made with the manufacturers of those weapons, promising to use them for legal, defensive purposes only.

 The “Fat Pig of Qatar and the royal pains from Riyadh have crossed so many lines creating their anti-UN foreign policy, that even the worst American Republican war hawk, John McCain wants an investigation into CIA operations in Benghazi, which serviced the Saud/Qatari needs for Libyan and Somali fighters to enlist in the Syrian cause.  Reports slipping past the Internet censors are slowly painting a picture of the Benghazi operation, which amounted to the agency’s “underground railroad” in reverse, sending veteran terrorists from all over Africa and Afghanistan to Syria, along with the new trainees from places like Lebanon, where billions of Qatari and Saudi “bucks” have changed hands in the training and the employment of international terrorists.  Maybe it’s time to make McCain a hero again, by giving him such support in his call for an investigation that he has to actually follow through to the obvious conclusions–that the CIA creates terrorists, arms them, gives them cash, transports and supports them to overthrow governments, bypassing the will of the US Congress, as well as the United Nations.  This is a replay of the CIA anti-Soviet Afghan campaign and the anti-Sandinista Contra campaign, which were financed secretly and illegally by the Saudis, who were knowingly helping the Republicans bypass Congress.  This is the place where we can undo the coup d’etat which overthrew the American government so many decades ago, if we would only rise-up together and demand the truth about Libya.]  

Qatar’s Petro Dollars Spent to Recruit, Train Terrorists in Lebanon to Join War on Syria

TEHRAN (FNA)- Reports from Lebanon said that the Qatari government has provided huge financial backup for Salafi leaders and Syrian dissidents to help them recruit and train terrorists in Lebanon for the war on President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

According to Syria’s al-Baath newspaper, Qatar’s measure has created tumult in Lebanon, specially after Doha voiced support for Hassan Qaterchi, an Islamist sheikh, who soon turned from the head of an unknown religious group into the chairman of Muslim scholars of Lebanon, thanks to the Qatari government’s financial and media supports.

Qatar’s support for extremist groups and religious figures opposing the Syrian government and the resistance in Lebanon is not limited to a specific task to group as Doha also provides financial support for extremist Salafi groups in Lebanon to stir more tension and insecurity in Syria.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 with organized attacks by well-armed gangs against Syrian police forces and border guards being reported across the country.

Hundreds of people, including members of the security forces, have been killed, when some protest rallies turned into armed clashes. The government blames outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups for the deaths, stressing that the unrest is being orchestrated from abroad.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey along with the US, have been supporting terrorists and rebel groups in Syria and have practically brought a UN peace initiative into failure to bring President Assad’s government into collapse.

Earlier this month, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani admitted that his country is interfering in Syria’s internal affairs by supporting terrorists and sending weapons to them.

“Declaring a no-fly-zone and providing safe passages for assistance (to terrorists in Syria) is amongst the most important priorities of Qatar,” al-Thani told the CNN.

He also called on the international community to help armed rebels in Syria, adding that such a move doesn’t need the permission of the UN Security Council.

Qatari and Saudi rulers want an overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a staunch ally of Iran, and they have taken every measure to this end.

In his latest remarks against Syria, the Emir of Qatar called on the Arab nations to form a political and military coalition to intervene in Syria, posing a direct challenge to UN efforts to resolve the conflict through negotiations.

Report: Little Syrian Girls Sold to Saudi, Qatari Sheikhs

TEHRAN (FNA)- News reports from Syria warned of increasing danger against Syrian women and girls, saying that little girls who lived in refugee camps near the borders with Jordan are taken to Jordan by human traffickers and then sold to Saudi and Qatari sheikhs.

Based on the reports released by Arab Times news website, the traffickers select their victims from the little girls residing in Syria’s bordering areas and then ferry them across the border with Jordan and sell them to Saudi and Qatari sheikhs.

According to Jordan’s marriage registration office, during the first half of the current year 189 official marriages and 270 unofficial marriages with the Syrian girls have been registered. A number of 114 non-Jordanian nationals have married these Syrian girls during the period.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 with organized attacks by well-armed gangs against Syrian police forces and border guards being reported across the country.

Hundreds of people, including members of the security forces, have been killed, when some protest rallies turned into armed clashes. The government blames outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups for the deaths, stressing that the unrest is being orchestrated from abroad.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey along with the US, have been supporting terrorists and rebel groups in Syria and have practically brought a UN peace initiative into failure to bring President Assad’s government into collapse.

Hindu extremist leader Bal Thackeray dies in India

[SEE:  Thackeray calls for Hindu suicide squad]


Hindu extremist leader Bal Thackeray dies in India

RAJESH SHAH, Associated Press

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Bal Thackeray, a Hindu extremist leader linked to waves of mob violence against Muslims and migrant workers in India, died Saturday after an illness of several weeks. He was 86.

Jalil Parkar, a doctor who treated him, said the politician had gone into cardio-respiratory arrest “which we tried to revive (him from), but we were unable to revive.”

Thackeray, a one-time cartoonist, formed the Shiv Sena — which means Shiva’s Army — in 1966 in Maharashtra. The political party’s main aim has been to keep people who are not from Maharashtra out of the state and stem the spread of Islam and western values.

Thackeray’s Sena is among the most xenophobic of India’s Hindu right-wing political parties and held power in Mumbai from 1995 to 2000. His supporters often called him Hindu Hriday Samrat or emperor of Hindu hearts.

As news of his death was announced outside his residence in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, many of his supporters sobbed and burst into tears.

Thousands of his followers from across his power base in the western state of Maharashtra began gathering outside his home in the state capital as the news of his ill health spread earlier this week. Mumbai police were on high alert because of the violent history of the group.

In 1992, members of Hindu right-wing groups, including the Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party, were instrumental in destroying a 16th century mosque in north India that they said was the birthplace of the Hindu god Rama, and Thackeray was blamed for the violence and rioting that followed. In Mumbai alone, nearly 1,000 people were killed.

Sanjay Raut, a spokesman for Thackeray’s party, appealed to his supporters to maintain peace.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Thackeray’s son Udhav and offered his condolences. He appealed for “calm and sobriety during this period of loss and mourning.”

Lal Krishna Advani, a top leader of Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, said Thackeray was uncompromising in his patriotism. “He possessed remarkable qualities of leadership.”

Throughout his political career Thackeray was a powerful, rabble-rousing orator who routinely sanctioned the use of violence to propagate his political views. He was arrested at least twice for his for inflammatory speeches and writing.

His extreme regional and religious parochialism led him to advocate Hindu suicide bombers and planting bombs in Muslim neighborhoods to “protect the nation and all Hindus.”

His followers often attacked and rampaged through the offices of media houses that he claimed were anti-Maharashtrian and anti-Hindu and threatened to dig up cricket pitches ahead of matches between largely Hindu India and its Muslim-majority neighbor Pakistan.

Even though the Shiv Sena’s political grip over Mumbai — its longtime power base — has been waning over the last decade, it still commands tens of thousands of violent followers.

The slight, bespectacled leader often appeared in front of his supporters seated on a silver throne-like chair, a gift from party workers.

In the early 1990s he led a successful campaign to drop what he called the colonially tainted name Bombay — a Portuguese derivation of “beautiful bay” — and replace it with Mumbai, after the local Marathi language name for a Hindu goddess. The city is the capital of Maharashtra state.

His supporters continued to sporadically threaten violence against places and institutions that held on to the old name like the Bombay Stock Exchange, the Bombay High Court, the elite Bombay Scottish School and countless restaurants, shops and offices.

More recently his followers campaigned against the celebration of Valentine’s Day in several Indian cities. They attacked shops and restaurants that allowed young couples to mark the day.

Through the early 2000s, Thackeray had appeared to be grooming his nephew Raj Thackeray as his political successor ahead of his own son Uddhav but in 2006 the infighting between the cousins led to Raj breaking away from the Sena. He formed the Maharashtra Reconstruction Party, which held onto the Sena’s political planks of regional and religious chauvinism interspersed with occasional violence.

Thackeray is survived by two sons. His body will be kept in a park on Sunday to allow people to pay their last respects before his cremation.

America’s Anti-Ballistic Missile Deception

“We had a lot of data on Patriot’s performance in the Gulf War. It appears that Patriot almost certainly did not even destroy a single Scud warhead…the system just failed catastrophically, it just had no ability to destroy [a] warhead.”

Chris Masters interviews physicist Theodore Postol, Professor of Science, Technology, and National Security at MIT

So Ted, how significant was George Bush Junior’s speech of of May 1?

Well, it was significant in the sense it was a political commitment, it was significant in terms of saying nothing that tells you anything about what he plans to do and it’s my guess that he had no idea of what he was going to do when he made the speech and now months later I still think he has no idea what he’s going to do.

So what did the speech actually say?

Well, what the speech basically said was that the President believed that we needed to build a Missile Defence and that his administration was going to pursue Missile Defence technology in what’s called the boost- phase – this is the period where a rocket is in powered flight- where you could try to shoot it down in the mid course, which is the period where the warhead and decoys are in the near vacuum of space coasting toward, in this case, the United States and then in what he calls the re-entry phase, re-entry being when the decoys and warheads encounter the effects of the atmosphere as they come to lower altitudes and in fact it was a very interesting choice for the President to talk about re-entry because the only reason you would engage in re-entry defence is if you thought the mid-course wasn’t going to work.

So based on what was said and and what you know, what is the logic of proceeding with a Missile Defence programme?

Well, I think if you look at the Missile Defence programme from the point of view of a scientist or engineer I think you would be baffled by this programme. The the only way to explain this programme is in terms of the domestic politics of the United States, which is really an opportunistic struggle between the radical right and other opportunists associated with the radical right and other members of the American political establishment. So basically what it appears to be driven by is that you have a small group of people in the radical right who are basically Republicans and who are to the far right of most Republicans actually, and who are ascendant in the political establishment at this time, and so their power is disproportionate to their numbers. So this group of radicals who don’t understand science, have a faith that things can be done whether or not they’re in violation of the principles of science and believe that the United States should go its own and that the United States, in order to go its own way, is going to have to defend itself from pretty much anything. Missile Defence is one of the things that we need to be able to do to defend ourselves from the rest of this irrational world, not like us who are rationale, but this irrational world. Now, my own view is that this is a profoundly illusionary view of of the world but these people believe what they’re arguing and then there’s a group around this particular political group who really don’t believe this but see it as a political opportunity to portray themselves as patriots who are willing to do what needs to be done to defend the United States while others, who are critics, who have doubts are not patriotic. They use this or try to use this as a political device to paint people who are concerned about what this programme could do, as not patriotic. Its sort of wrapping yourself in the flag while you’re stealing from the national treasure, you know, it’s that kind of behaviour.

Let’s take in a little bit of history and and go back to 1975 when Safeguard, that other anti-missile system was decommissioned after about 2 hours I think. 70 billion dollars system – what was wrong with that one?

Well, Safeguard in my judgement was a more capable system than the one the United States now wants to build, at least the system that is the mid course system where almost all the resources have been put at this point. Um the Safeguard system basically would attempt to intercept ballistic warheads in the near vacuum of space which I can describe later as a fundamentally difficult environment to operate in, and it would use large nuclear weapons and the nuclear weapons would in fact blind the radars in the process of shooting at the warheads; this fundamentally made Safeguard unworkable. In addition, Safeguard had what what is called a a two-layer defence, it had a ah long range missile called Spartan which had a multi-megaton warhead, this is a big warhead that would be used at many hundreds of kilometres from the area that was being defended at high altitudes in space. And then it had a particular kind of interceptor called Sprint, it’s an interceptor that looked like little cones, not so little though, weighed about seven or eight thousand pounds, The Sprint would work at low altitude, low altitude being ah tens of kilometres altitude and it had a small nuclear warhead in it, probably in the kiloton range or fractional kiloton range, a thousandths, one thousandths of a megaton warhead and it would try to ah destroy warheads at lower altitude after they had filtered through the upper altitude layer of the defence. And the system was basically unworkable because the nuclear environment created by the interceptors would basically blind the radars and make them unworkable. Today, in fact, radars have been improved substantially and the nuclear intercept problem is still significant, but not nearly as severe as was the case when Safeguard was built. It still doesn’t mean Missile Defence is possible, but it certainly is much less problematic using radars in in these kinds of environments; nevertheless I think it would still not work.

I think another reason was it not that ah it could be overwhelmed by multiple warheads, which says a lot about building defensive shields. There’s a simple way to overwhelm them and that is with a superior attack force?

Yeah, well the the the argument in the Cold War was that if you built a defence the adversary would expand their their offence in response. So even if the defence worked you would you would still lose in the end because the expansion of the offence was much less difficult and expensive than the expansion of the defence. And that was certainly a valid concern. Now the advocates of defence in the United States today would say that’s not an issue any more. The Soviet Union no longer exists. Russia’s exhausted. I always like the joke, we all know in 1945 Russia was exhausted and we were never going to hear from them again. But in any case, the attitude is that Russia’s exhausted, of course you have China which has a small nuclear force but because of China’s development at this point, could not be significantly expanded. And the argument is, we’re not really aiming at Russia and China, which incidentally is not necessarily true when you look at what people are doing, but this is the argument. And we’re concerned about these rogue states, these are third world countries that are not at all advanced and we can deal with those states because they can’t arbitrarily expand their arsenals or build counter measures. So, let me let me frame this argument in logical terms, because the logic is a little difficult to follow.

We postulate an adversary who we call the third world state, let’s for the United States, North Korea’s the villain but it could be Bolivia as far as I’m concerned. And the postulated adversary can build Intercontinental range Ballistic Missiles, or they already have the science and industrial base to build this enormously complex device. In addition they can build nuclear warheads that are compact and light enough to fly on top of this ICBM, this Intercontinental range Ballistic Missile, but they can’t figure out how to build a balloon that will decoy the warhead: that’s the argument basically. And if it sounds ridiculous then you’ve picked up the problem in its essence.

In 1991 the Patriot missile was applauded for knocking out Scuds – there was quite a media fanfare about it. What what was the true record of the Patriot?

Well, by every measure we could take in our research and our research is um quite detailed, we had a lot of data on Patriot’s performance in the Gulf War. It appears that Patriot almost certainly did not even destroy a single Scud warhead. Now, we were actually were able to tell quite a bit about the details of the Scud’s performance because we had all these crazy press people who had run up to the roof of hotels and in Israel and Saudi Arabia when Scud attacks were occurring and they turned their cameras to the sky and the Patriots are readily seen because the the flame from their rocket motor allows the camera to follow them into the sky and the Scuds are readily seen because when they come in they look like little meteors that are burning up. They were heated incandescence and so you could really see quite clearly what was going on and you could study the attempt to shoot the Scud down, frame by frame in one thirtieth of a second intervals. And the system just failed catastrophically, it just had no ability to destroy warhead.

And yet at the time I think they said they were claiming a 96% success rate. I mean, how does that happen. Why the disinformation and why wouldn’t soldiers want to know the truth about the quality of their weapons?

Well, I think good soldiers do want to know the truth, the problem is the fraud that occurs when you get people involved who have either their career advancement or profit. What seems to have happened during the Gulf War was that the press initially failed to understand that Patriot was not working and when the military and political leadership realised that, they kept misleading the press for reasons that I think were understandable and defendable at the time because the Scud attacks were really not significant in terms of their military threat, but they did have enormous political significance and it was quite effective in nullifying much of the political leverage that the Scud attacks might otherwise have had if it was known that Patriot wasn’t working. So so I think to be fair, if I were in a position of authority at that time, I would have lied too, because the greater evil would have occurred by telling the truth at that moment. But what happened after the war was inexcusable. The lie continued, the lie was used by the contractor, Raytheon, that tried to increase its sales, selling a defensive system that didn’t work to people trying to do that. The US Army, Air Defence Artillery in the US Army was aggressively trying to portray themselves as having done a fantastically good job in an area where they had failed catastrophically, so there were career interests involved, and the lie was propagated because of institutional and economic interests.

You said it had greater political significance – because the Scud had the ability to blackmail nations, is that the main reason that thinking shifted after the Gulf War?

Well, the sense that people had was that the Scuds could do a lot of damage, now if you analysed it, if you knew what the characteristics of the Scud were, you would have understood that there was very little damage these missiles could have done. If they were nuclear armed of course they could do a lot of damage but that’s because it’s a nuclear weapon not because it’s a ballistic missile. And ah people didn’t understand that, there was a sense that the Scuds were fantastically capable and this causes fear in the population which in turn generates pressure on political leaders. Saddam was trying to take advantage of these pressures in the hope that he could break the coalition, for example possibly get Israel to attack Iraq, then all of a sudden Arab members of this coalition would be fighting alongside the Israelis and so he had this theory about how to break the coalition. Whether or not that’s the case I have no idea, but this seems to be what the thinking was, and by basically saying, well it doesn’t really matter, the Scuds really aren’t getting through, you are in effect doing the same thing as saying, the Scuds are meaningless anyway, but people didn’t believe this latter point, so as a political lie but again one that is less of an evil than what would occur otherwise, I believe it was justified, so I would even defend those people who were saying these wrong things at the time. But now of course, it’s a different situation and when there’s a question of morality and when you tell people it’s safe when it’s not, you’re really doing something quite immoral, you’re exposing them to unnecessary risk – so, to me it’s a highly immoral thing to have a weapon system that’s supposed to defend your soldiers and to be repeatedly telling them that its working and it will work for them in the future when you know it won’t. And that really raises profound moral questions here. And in that case the lie is more evil than anything you could do to justify it.

Let’s talk about the more recent tests between 1997 and 2000. What did they reveal about the physical possibility of hitting a bullet with a bullet? Just what have we learned from those tests?

Well, I think from my point of view, there’s never been a question in my mind that you can hit a bullet with a bullet. The problem is – can you hit a bullet with a bullet when the adversary is making a determined effort to hide the bullet as it comes at you with various means available to them and that’s a very different problem. And what the Ballistic Missile Defence Organization learned in 1997 when they did their first, what’s called fly by, was something that any competent military scientist would have known and should have known. It was simply that if you look through a telescope at distant objects in space, all of which simply appear like points of light, that many of these objects are going to look similar to each other and they’re going to look in many cases, similar to the warhead and you’re not going to be able to reliably tell one from the other and they really should have known this. This accident occurred because of some combination of ignorance and incompetence on the part of the highest level of management and in part because of the competence of lower level people involved in the programme, because what happened I believe, although I don’t know for a fact, is that the people in charge have no idea what they’re doing, by all the evidence I’ve seen. But at lower levels there are people who are competent doing different parts of the scientist programme and what happened is, there was this group at Sandia National Laboratory, one of our weapons labs, who was asked to build a sweep of decoys and these characters went out and built this sweep of decoys that were good, were credible, pretty much not knowing that they were expected to build decoys that are supposed to be non-credible and, and the people at the top were so ignorant and incompetent that they didn’t understand that it was possible to build these kinds of credible decoys and all of a sudden this stuff was flying in front of their their kill vehicle and they couldn’t tell one object from the other. And then the question how do we cover this up began to be a big issue.

So how were the findings disguised?

Well, let me back up and give you a little primer on the question of what’s called discrimination, telling the warheads from the decoys. These objects are all in the near vacuum of space because the warhead is launched at hundreds of kilometres altitude, there are other objects surrounding it that are supposed to fool the defence into thinking they’re also warheads. Now in the near vacuum of space if I have a rock and a feather, the rock and the feather will travel along together because there’s no air to cause air drag to slow up the feather relative to the rock, so it just never slows up. And if the rock is tumbling slowly and the feather is tumbling slowly, they’ll both again have their tumbling motion – will not be modified by air drag and an object can tumble in any way, in any – of a wide range of ways ah which are not determinable from just looking at, it doesn’t tell you anything about the physics of the object. So, if I have a warhead that might look like an ice cream cone with a nose front, I can make a balloon that’s shaped like a warhead and in the near vacuum of space that balloon that’s shaped like a warhead is going to travel along with the warhead and if the warhead is slowly tumbling, and the balloon could be slowly tumbling, more slowly than the warhead or more rapidly than the warhead – because there’s no way to know because it’s an accident of the motion that’s imparted when things are pushed off the upper stage of the rocket. So we have all these objects and if you were floating along in a space suit and could look at them with your eyes, you would have no way of knowing which was which by looking at their shape and their motion – and in fact, for example, just to show you how complex you could make it – if you thought the warhead were more distinguishable you could put a balloon around it and you know, so you could essentially make it fundamentally impossible for the human eye to select the object based on what you can see. Now, if you can make it fundamentally impossible for the human eye to not be able to determine which object is which, then a sensor that’s operating thousands of kilometres away that has much lower resolution than a human eye, a radar or an infrared telescope has even less of a chance of being able to tell one object from another. So that would come to discrimination, how would they discriminate, by that I mean pick one object from the other. What they do, is they construct a template, by that I mean a set of estimates of what they think each object is going to look like when they’re looking at it. So this by itself is a complicated thing to do because if you think of each object as acting like a light bulb, it’s lit up under its own temperature. But I can paint the stripe on the light bulb and make it look different and um, so what I do is I have this template and I look at how bright each object is relative to each other, of course there’s no physics in that I have to know what each object is prior to looking at them, and then it turns out what they also use is how much the object scintillates as it’s seen from a great distance. And a way to understand why an object would scintillate is to imagine a pen as a light bulb and it is so distant that it just looks like a point of light to you, but when it’s nose- on you see less bright area than when its side on – so it looks brighter side- on than nose- on, and if it’s tumbling end over end, you could see from a great distance a point of light that got brighter and dimmer, brighter and dimmer, and that might indicate that this was a tumbling pen. Of course, if the pen were tumbling straight, it wouldn’t scintillate at all – so the orientation of the object is important, too. So, what they did is they had these ten objects, a mock warhead, the upper stage of the rocket that deploys the warhead plus eight decoys and they looked at these objects, basically what happened is there was a bunch of these objects couldn’t distinguish one from the other, in spite of the fact they expected them to look somewhat different. And the reasons for that have to do with, well actually we don’t even know now all the reasons, we don’t know how much of the failure was due to bad physical modelling which is one possibility, another part of the problem is that objects didn’t deploy as they expected them to. Bear in mind that, if you’re looking at an object that’s scintillating because you think it’s tumbling, if you deployed it you expected it to tumble end over end but instead because of some accident of what you didn’t expect, it was tumbling like this, then it doesn’t look as you expect it to. So they had these ten objects, all of which they expected to look a certain way, some of which did not look as they expected and led to a situation where they couldn’t tell the warhead from these other objects with reliability. So what they did is they changed the template. They took the data and this template where they amass these things, they took the data, changed all the positions in the template and then they claimed that they could match. Well that’s fraud. This is like um, this is like me having a computer programme that I claim will predict the price of stocks at some future time and I tell you that um you give me the price of different stocks on the stock market at this time and I’ll put in some other parameters and it will predict the price of the stocks as time goes on and you’ll know what stock to buy. And it turns out that the programme does one thing and the stock prices do another but at some small interval they happen to overlap, so what I do is cut out the prediction in in these other areas. I don’t tell you that they didn’t match in these other areas and I say, here, see I got a match. So it’s fraud.

So they dumbed-down the test to begin with, they manipulated the data and they covered up.

Yeah, in fact they removed data from the experiment in addition to what I was describing to you. They only did this game of changing their template during the period in which they had data for the experiment, about one fourth of the data was used, three fourths of the data was censored, not talked about and basically the fact that it existed as far as I could tell, was hidden, so we still don’t know everything about what was going on with the data – the general accounting office and agency of the US Congress is in the process of trying to find out.

And you’re talking about the ’97 tests are you?

I’m talking about the ’97 tests and these tests are very important. There was a test in ’97 and another one in ’98, essentially the same exact test but using two different infrared sensors, and one of the arguments that the Missile Defence programme office tries to give is that the different infrared sensors lead to different results and this is like me telling you that if I’m looking at these distant points of light and I can’t tell what’s going on in their brightness and their ah scintillation with a red filter in front of me, with a green filter I can – it’s ludicrous.

So why did scientists at the BMDO go along with such a disguise?

Well, I’m not aware of any scientists at the BMDO myself. I mean I never met anybody at the BMDO that I would call a scientist. I know scientists who are involved in Missile Defence activities – some of them are even my friends, although I don’t admit to it in public, but nobody at the main office appears to know anything about either science or engineering. It seems to be a big public relations activity.

How big a step was it for you, Ted, to write that letter to the White House when you evaluated the information?

Well, I felt the like the last person manning a machine gun in a pass where you knew that you had to hold the line because you’re retreating, colleagues need the time to regroup to defend themselves because I didn’t want to do it but I felt I had to and it turned out not to be as difficult a thing for me as I had expected it to be, it was not at all like the experience I had ten years ago when I raised questions about Patriot. It turned out my credibility was so high probably because of the past experience with Patriot that people immediately accepted what I said and I was able to expand on the issues and help people understand it in greater detail rather than trying to convince people that I knew what I was talking about. So it was not a difficult thing after the initial decision to write.

And looking back at it now, what’s the wash up? Is it still about deception or was it as – say the FBI have suggested – more about a difference of opinion?

Yeah, well I think it is deception. It’s fraud. It’s certainly absolutely and unambiguously scientific fraud. Whether or not it’s criminal, that is to say the law is structured in a way that you can bring criminal charges against people, is a matter still to be determined. In my view it should be but that I’m not a lawyer and I can’t determine that. I think the FBI is going to have a lot of explaining to do from this supposed investigation they did. They in fact misrepresented their contacts with the general accounting office to the Congress. They claim to have met with the general accounting office and found out about their findings. They met with the general accounting office at a time when the general accounting office had no findings: I talked with the people at the general accounting office. It’s hard for me to believe that the FBI didn’t know that when they wrote this in a letter to the Congress saying that they had completed their investigation. I’m troubled that the FBI would characterise it as a disagreement between scientists because certainly the FBI people I talked to were not versed in science well enough to make that judgement and I don’t believe there’s anybody in the FBI who could stand up in a public discussion and explain how they reached that position. I’m very troubled that they said in a memo I saw released that one characterisation of my statement is trying to criminalize this. I’ve always been very clear that this is scientific fraud, I don’t know whether its criminal, I do believe it should be, but that’s a very different statement from claiming its criminal.

The tests in ’99 and 2000, the three tests, it was claimed a mixed success, one strike and it was also claimed that some of the failures were successful failures. Did that suggest that there was progress, that we’re getting better at say, identifying the decoys?

Well, there were no decoys in the three tests where they had one hit and two misses. There was a warhead and a beacon, that’s really the way it should be described, not a warhead and a decoy and basically what the kill vehicle was programmed to do was to look at the warhead and beacon, see that there was a beacon that was very bright relative to the warhead and home on the warhead – I don’t regard that as discrimination and I don’t know anybody who would agree that that was discrimination. Let me give you an example of a simple way of the system would have been confused. I could take the balloon that was being used as a beacon and make another balloon like it and put the warhead in it. Then you would have two beacons out there and they wouldn’t know which to choose. That they can’t deal with. Now if they think an adversary is going to be so incompetent that they’re not going to know how to do that, then maybe they have a chance of building a defence, but I wouldn’t want my to be defended by that defence.

Indeed that is one of their defences of this defence. That it only needs to be designed to shoot down crude warheads from rogue states. What do you think about that?

Well, I actually feel that this argument is not only ludicrous I actually think it borders on racism because anybody who is a citizen of the world knows that American ingenuity is not unique and I actually have contacts in China and Russia who have built ballistic missiles – because of my work I know such people and I’ve actually had several of them stay in my home when they visited the United States. These are enormously well educated, clever people, they come from poor countries, the industrial base of these countries is nothing like the United States, but if you’re looking for ingenuity and skill, their’s is as high as anybody I’ve ever met in the United States and to suggest that these people could build a warhead but can’t figure out how to build a balloon is really at best self deception and at worst a lie to your own countrymen that could lead to a military disaster.

Another defence is that we’re unable to discriminate against the decoys now, but we’ve got to walk before we can run, we have to learn to hit the missile first.

Yeah and there’s a difference between in walking ahead and walking in a circle and if you look at their test programme, they have absolutely no science or technology under development that advances them one iota toward their solution. In fact, when you look at their test programme you see that after the first two tests where they’ve discovered they had these problems with a particular class of decoys, the way they dealt with this particular class of decoys is they removed all these decoys from all subsequent tests, so the entire system would never be tested against the decoys that in the first two tests they realised they couldn’t deal with. This is what I call test for success.

What about – in a broader sense – would you accept that there is benefit in a deterrent policy that is based on small countermeasures, you know, the handful of missiles that Rumsfeld has spoken about, and that accommodates reduction? People like Richard Perle say that the United States mightn’t need more than a thousand warheads. Is there any benefit in the global chess game of this new policy?

Well, there could be a benefit if there was logic behind the argument. Let me give you the logic and then you can query me further. Imagine that I could build a defence that was robust. That’s not the case, but let’s imagine I could. And so I could in fact create a defence that it pretty much didn’t matter what an adversary did in response to it because I still gain the benefit of the defence because by definition a robust defence is able to deal with attempts to counter it by the adversary. So in that situation one can imagine a benefit from this kind of activity. The other extreme is a defence that effectively has little or no capability, which is the situation we now have. Now because this defence could have some capability in the eyes of the nervous adversary, the adversary will react to it and since the defence in reality has little or no capability, the net result is you’re worse off. This is equivalent of taking a toy gun and waving it in front of a nervous adversary who has an automatic rifle. Now if you can wheel out a tank and say, look, I don’t want to fight with you but if we have to fight, this is what you’re facing, that’s one way of causing people to sober up. But waving a toy gun in front of somebody who’s nervous and might get into a fight with you is really not a good choice. And that’s really what the choice is.

But if they don’t know that it’s a not a toy gun, doesn’t it provide useful leverage against blackmail?

Well, if they don’t know, it might or might not, but ah one of the problems you have with doing things that are bluffs is your adversary could try to hit you harder simply because they’re nervous about how much capability you truly have, in which case you’re worse off. So, that’s one problem. The other is we’re again getting back to this question of who is the adversary? If the adversary is able to build ICBMs and nuclear warheads the adversary probably has the scientific acuity to be able to decide whether or not this defence is as good as some people – some politician are claiming. Because they have the same ability to analyse these things as I do at this university, which is really outside the military establishment.

What do you think about the rogue state scenario? Are there dangerous rogue states? Hitler might have, if he’d had a warhead, he might well have dropped it on London in 1944 when the V2s were flying over. We don’t know about people like Saddam Hussein, what they would do? What do you think about that prospect?

There are dangerous rogue states, I think North Korea is potentially a very dangerous state, especially if you’re South Korean, as far as the United States is concerned. I don’t think it’s a big problem except that South Korea is an important ally of the United States and we should keep our commitments to our allies, including commitments that say when the allies are trying to diplomatically negotiate with the North, we don’t undercut them like President Bush did. So there are dangerous states. Saddam Hussein is in my view, a very dangerous political leader and if I had had my way, if I were in a position of authority, I wouldn’t have stopped when the United States Senate and the Coalition stopped it during Desert Storm. I would have gone a lot further, would have made sure that none of those Republican Guard Units that we had trapped survived. So I would have made sure, at a minimum, that that was the case. We have faced great dangers in the past, Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany, there’s no question that there are states of very serious concern that we have dealt with and will continue to deal with. The question is whether we have a sensible policy that is based in a realistic understanding of what you might be able to do to achieve your ends or whether you’re living a fiction, thereby creating a potential for a more serious disaster in the future. And I think that’s what we’re now doing with this missile defence activity.

The Taepo Dong launch in 1998 from North Korea, was that a cause for genuine alarm?

Well, it did demonstrate a greater industrial capacity than, for example, my colleagues and I thought was the case so I want to be totally honest here. We were a little surprised because this was a three stage ballistic missile, they successfully separated the second stage from the first stage which is a technical, a technically complicated next step that we were not sure they would be able to do very quickly. The third stage failed which is again hard to know whether to be surprised or not. But if you look at the technology there were some surprises, for example the rocket motor on the first stage of this North Korean was a single rocket motor. We guessed it would be a cluster of smaller motors. But then when you take this thing and scale it up to a giant ICBM, that’s really going much too far by any measure that I could take. So I would in all honesty say that there were elements of the North Korean launch that surprised us. I don’t want to overstate this like we were stunned. But we didn’t expect it. Did it transform our understanding of their capability? No. But it certainly indicated that they had ah advanced in some respects further than we had guessed.

So some of the hawks in the United States cheered and the doves held their heads in their hands did they?

Well, I think It’s one thing to understand this from the point of view of a professional engineer or scientist, it’s another thing to view it from the point of view of a person who understands how politics plays out and it was clear to me and to my colleagues I should add that this launch was going to have momentous implications for the American political debate. So I would, I don’t want to try to mislead you into thinking that we were totally surprised by it, we expected that. And that’s why we were concerned in fact. We expected that this thing would be spun into something it really wasn’t and in fact that’s what happened.

We’ve talked about the rogue states. If realistically they don’t pose a significant threat, where is the threat? You suggested earlier that that Russia and China are not to be dismissed, but what do you think a realistic threat assessment suggests?

Well, I’m just sitting here as a person who is concerned about the security of the United States and its allies, so let me just look from that perspective. By far the most serious danger is the situation in Russia I think. I think the Russians have large and capable nuclear forces. I don’t think they have any intent or desire to attack the United States and its friends and allies, but I think the situation in Russia is serious, a lot of economic stress and the Russians have been pushed very hard by the United States and they are quite angry and in my view understandably so about the way they have been mistreated and marginalised and really treated with disrespect by the United States and you combine that with the possibility of a crisis and the fact that the Russian systems are vulnerable to American strike and their early warning system is really in very bad shape so they would not have a clear picture of what was going on, if they thought something was happening, you have the small possibility but significant possibility of a massive nuclear launch from Russia by accident, just simply because things have gotten so bad there. If I were in a position to influence the American agenda on dealing with threats, this is the threat I would focus on. I would focus on doing something to create a more, a higher sense of co-operation and partnership with the Russians, that’s a really political thing to do. I would transfer technology or develop co-operative activities with the Russians that would help them rebuild their early warning system because if there’s an accident with that early warning system, I can tell you that we’re going to get a large portion of those warheads if something happens, so it’s in our interest. And I would basically try to not push at the edges of Russia so hard, the Russians have legitimate security concerns so when United States or in fact NATO start pushing closer and closer to Russian borders, we arm the nationalist elements in Russia who say, well we never should have given up Eastern Europe, it’s your fault. I mean, what happened, what happened at the end of the Cold War was a wonderful thing, the Russians loosened their grip on Eastern Europe, there was a wonderful magnanimous act and it has not been rewarded nor has it been acknowledged and I think that, to me, is one of the gravest mistakes that we have done in the last part of the 20th Century and I hope and pray we won’t pay for it in the 21st Century.

What about a threat from, what sort of threat does China pose?

I believe that China is not a significant threat really. China is a mid-level industrial power at best and it is going to grow, if it continues to a much stronger economy, but it’s not going to be a super power, not for the foreseeable future as far as I’m concerned. These arguments that it’s going to be a super power I think are really stretching things very far and as a military threat, China has really no ability to project beyond its borders except, you know, if you’re immediately adjacent to them and you’re a land power, and basically the only thing they have are a few long range nuclear warheads which would take hours to arm and, in fact, if you were crazy enough, you could probably even successfully attack them before they’re launched, although I would never be one to advocate that. And those forces are basically the slim thread that the Chinese have, that they hope they might use if they get into a face to face confrontation with the United States, to basically keep us off them and the last thing we want to do is to play a game that makes them think that they need to preserve this little thread, this slim thread, by expanding that arsenal in a significant way.

And that is what’s happening, is it not?

Yeah, I think what we’re very likely going to do if we continue along this route is cause an expansion in the long-range nuclear missiles and very likely the short range nuclear missiles as well, and that is actually quite serious too, because an expansion of the shorter range nuclear missiles would make sense from a Chinese military point of view because it allows them to increase the threat to allies of the United States in the region, particular South Korea and Japan. Of course Taiwan is there as well. And by increasing this local threat that’s kind of an insurance policy against the coercive threat of the long range missile not being adequate, because through your allies you would hope to try to coerce the United States. Now taking that step will create the appearance of an increased threat to India and this will arm the factions in the Indian political system, who are arguing for ‘weaponisation’ of the Indian nuclear systems and if that happens, then of course Pakistan will certainly follow. So you have this peculiar situation where this abstraction of a pathetic Missile defence deployed in Alaska leads to Pakistan increasing its nuclear capability. It’s a funny chain of events not causal in the sense of physics, you can’t predict that this will happen, but it certainly is not out of the realm of possibilities.

Ted, at the moment the BMDO and Department of Defence are not prepared to say what they will propose. What do you expect will be proposed, what will be the outcome of this review?

Well, I think that this is a political game that’s being played here, there’s nothing substantive in terms of military capability, but having said that I think I can make a guess of what they’ll try to do. They’ll try to use this mid-course system that is currently under development where there’s been so much fraud in its development programme as a main piece of their defence, they’ll try to dress it up and say it’s different in some way because it’s a bad Clinton system and it’s a good Bush system, but it’ll be a smoke and mirrors show. They’ll talk about this re-entry phase missile defence. We know what the re-entry phase is, it’s a system called ‘the theatre of high altitude area defence’ which up until very recently was a Theatre Missile Defence when in fact we at MIT were saying it’s not a Theatre Missile Defence, it’s Strategic Defence. All of a sudden its become a strategic defence and they’ll use that as part of a claim that this is going to form a re-entry component and then they’ll do some work on a system called the airborne laser, it’s a giant 747 that has 2 or 3 megawatt laser in it that has some ability to shoot down missiles at long range – could work at some level, and then they’ll claim to do research in, on boost- phase systems and in particular they’ll talk about using navy ships for boost phase and it’ll be a hodge-podge of technically and militarily meaningless programmes dressed up to look like it’s something different and serious for the defence of the country.

So we’re seeing increased proliferation already in East Asia. We’re seeing the potential collapse of the ABM treaty, so we’re seeing some significant negative outcomes of the debate even at this stage. After the Bush visit the Europeans don’t appear to get what this is really about. What do you think it really is about?

I think it’s about ideology and the political opportunism for people who are involved. It’s despairing for example, to see the National Security Advisor, Condi Rice, who was a friend of mine at Stanford who I know knows better, just talking about Missile Defence, something she knows nothing about. I mean I know her very well, she knows nothing about this, talking as if she actually knows something, and talking about the ABM treaty like it’s rhetoric, it’s a cold war relic, without explaining it. I mean, she’s supposed to be a scholar, she likes to and wants to present herself as a serious scholar. You don’t make these rhetorical statements, the question is can you explain it. I can explain why I believe the ABM treaty is still critical to global efforts to stem proliferation. You may disagree with the arguments that I give you but if we can go through those arguments just making a rhetorical statement “that it’s good or bad” without connecting the dots and showing where the logic is, is just being a political hack. The national security advisor is supposed to be somebody who’s providing sound advice on this thing, not just some political hack and this is the character of the administration at this time. Now I want to be clear, I’m not just speaking about the Bush administration although that’s the thing we have at the moment. This went on in the Clinton administration as well. The National Security Advisor in the Clinton administration was essentially as far as I could tell, looking at domestic political polls and advising the president based on what he thought the domestic political polls would do for the President’s popularity. To me these are unprofessional uses of people in jobs that, while they’re political in the sense that you try to choose people you have confidence in and who share in one way your vision they should be professionals who are trying to help you make a sound decision on these very important security questions. And the last two national security advisors we had, including my former friend, Condi Rice, have been jokes in this regard. It’s not good for the country.

And how bad is it to lose that ABM treaty?

Well, the ABM treaty is in fact critical to controlling the impulses to proliferate across the world. Now the reason the ABM treaty has merit today is really rather different than the merit it had when it was negotiated. So in fact I believe it’s a true statement to say the situation’s different. The main reason for the ABM treaty when it was negotiated in 1972 was basically to make it possible for the United States and Soviet Union to be able to cap the upward growth in their offensive armaments. Both agreed not to build offences because the impetus to respond to the other’s defences would be impossible to deal with, and thereby it would be impossible to control the control the upward growth of these gigantic arsenals. It was a sound decision at that time as far as I’m concerned. Today Russia is in fact exhausted, not finished, but exhausted, and I don’t think that there will be a big upward growth in the Russian arsenal. On the other hand it’s in the interest of Russia and the United States and the rest of the countries in the world for both of these countries to reduce the size of their nuclear arsenals. That is not going to happen if the United States pulls out of the ABM treaty and the Russians don’t have confidence that they’re not going to be dealing with extensive defences. So it’s a different situation but it still serves the objectives of both the countries. In addition, China was not a player in 1972. Nobody was worried about China being a significant ballistic missile power. It now is a significant ballistic missile power today and it has the potential to be a significantly larger ballistic missile power in the not distant future. And China’s not a signatory to the ABM treaty but is a beneficiary of the treaty just as the United States and Russia are. The fact that the Chinese military planners know that they’re not going to be dealing with defences even if they’re not very capable but they cannot ignore allows them to keep a lid on these activities and so the ABM treaty is in a different situation today. In some respects it may be more important than it was in 1972 and if Ms Rice or somebody else in the administration can sit down and explain how the logic of what I’ve described to you is flawed, then I welcome a discussion on this issue. But it hasn’t happened at this point.

Looking for a portrait of this coterie of advisers you spoke about how President Bush appears to have been captured by the extreme right. What is their ideology?

God, it’s hard to know. I mean there’s a high degree of irrationality: you can see it in various forms. For example, statements like we are going to be more independent than the allies, we’re going to take unilateral actions. We being the United States we’re not going to let our other people intervene in our actions. That’s a really very silly statement for somebody who’s supposed to be in a position of responsibility to make. United States has alliance relations all over the world and to talk that way suggests that you don’t value those alliance relationships and I certainly do as an American who’s concerned with American Security Planning and I think almost all Americans who are involved in these activities feel the same way so there’s something peculiar about that kind of statement and what appears to be behind it is a strange idea which I don’t want to be mistaken as in any way defending or justifying, just describing that somehow the United States doesn’t need other countries. We can go it alone. We we can be ourselves and that we know better and if we’re just free to take what actions we can do with our near infinite power, we’ll be better off and in fact so will the rest of the world. There’s this kind of underlying belief. Now I think it’s absurd that anybody could embrace such a view and if they were truly educated and understood how the world works but it does appear to be a powerful underlying ideological position.

The US does obviously have a sovereign right to defend itself; if it can do so why should it not do so?

Well I think if it could, it would certainly be worth considering seriously. Let me build on this example I gave earlier. Imagine again that we’ll take this leap of faith that the United States knows how to build a defence that’s relatively robust so that the reaction of an adversary would not necessarily cause a decrease in American security. Now you might ask, well would you be for or against building a defence under those conditions? and my position would be, I would be seriously interested in considering it. So you say, well I’m hedging. Well not really, because am I willing to defend myself a little bit better at the cost of South Korea. Maybe what happens is my action increases the threat to South Korea because the adversary of concern realises they can’t get at me through this route so they go another route which increases the threat of allies of the United States. Now maybe after you think it through you decide, OK South Korea’s an important ally but it’s more important for me to defend the United States and so they’re on their own. You’d really have to seriously think through what you were doing so the idea that you can just take an action independent of other obligations you have is really quite ludicrous. You wouldn’t do it in your own life. I always joke that I have a wife who’s a big executive. You know I wouldn’t take any important moves without consulting with my wife. I have a relationship that I’m concerned about and there are things I might want to do that she wouldn’t want me to do and I’m willing to sacrifice those freedoms for the benefits of this relationship and it’s true in all aspects of life so this idea that somehow you walk tall and do what you want independent of all other obligations is really quite silly and unrealistic.

How much do you think that ideology is influenced by a belief that the US and the US alone has the moral authority to behave rationally?

Well it’s difficult for me to know. I mean I’m not a historian of culture but based on my best guess recognising I’m not an expert in these areas, it seems to me that it’s one of the negative products of American culture. I believe American culture has enormously wonderful things about it and I’m actually sickeningly patriotic about many aspects of American culture but there’s often a down side and the down side here is this sense that this manifest destiny carried to the next level of, “we’re better than other people”. We’re smarter. We have a great society and other people don’t have a great society because they’re not as smart as we are and we have a great democracy and democracy’s good so we’re going to propagate that to everybody else and we’re going to tell them how to do it and if they just follow our advice we’ll be fine. There’s this mentality, I think of it as the rooster that crows and thinks that the sun comes up because it’s crowing. Apart from the great industry, cleverness and hardworking character of the American people there’s also a large component of luck and everybody should understand that and this is not understood by certain people. They somehow think it has something to do with their superiority.

And on these questions of culture tell me, and this is more along down your street anyway, but the US faith in technology and hardware which is very much a part of this…

Yes I agree.

… I mean how evident is that?

Oh I think it’s overwhelmingly prevalent and it’s again a consequence of ignorance of combined with exuberance. You can’t find a little device that I wouldn’t have fun looking at. I’m in many respects a product of American culture. I love technology. Everything little thing from the pen I use, to my watch which I can programme through my computer screen influences the way I like to do things. But that’s different from having a religious belief that science doesn’t matter. I can do anything and one of the problems you have in a society that that has this blind faith in technology is that you get people believing you can do anything. The benefit of a society that has a high faith in society, in technology is that the society as a culture is willing to take risks and innovate and that that leads to wealth and success and diversity which you see in the American economy but the downside is when you have people who really don’t understand the limits of what science and technology can produce and they treat it almost as if anything is do-able and they forget there are principles of science and technology here and we see this overwhelmingly prevalent in this debate over missile defence.

So the research has got to be done before the hardware is developed and the opposite is happening? ‘The cart before the horse’?

The way I describe this to dramatise it is I say, well you know somebody comes to you and says I want to build an anti- gravity machine and so instead of saying well you know we have no idea what anti gravity is. We don’t even know if there is such a thing. You say well let’s go down to the store, we’ll buy some screws, we’ll buy some sheet metals of paint and we’ll you know start putting this thing together and in a few years maybe we’ll be able to build an anti- gravity machine. Well that’s a joke. It’s like putting razor blades onto pyramids and claiming that they’re going to get sharpened. It’s just not based on anything that we know about the physical and technological world. It’s just a fiction.

But it’s not a joke that’s funny. It’s a joke that’s extremely dangerous.

Well you know if you were a monkey that jumps for branches that don’t exist you never live to be an ancestor and I think this is the problem here. If you have imaginings of what you can do, that becomes critical to your survival, it really in fact causes your survival to become in greater jeopardy which is in fact what’s going on now. Then there is a real danger and this is one of the reasons why I have been so outspoken on this issue because I feel like I’m sitting on a bus that’s being taken over by a group of lunatics who haven’t thought about what they’re doing and we’re just careening along a cliff waiting for someone to drive us off the edge.

“Zombieland” As Prophecy

Hostess, maker of Twinkies and Ding Dongs, says closing business

Adieu, Twinkies, at least for now. Hostess Brands said Friday it has asked a court’s OK to liquidate the company, spelling the possible end for the iconic, yellow, cream-filled delight.

The move shuts down one of the nation’s oldest and largest producers of baked goods. Founded in 1930, it produces such well-known brands, aside from Twinkies, as Ding-Dongs, Ho Ho’s, Sno Balls and Donettes, not to mention Wonder bread, which the company says is the best-selling white bread in the United States.

In a statement, Hostess said its bakery operations have been suspended at all plants and that it would lay off most of its 18,500 workers to focus on selling its assets. It said it has filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking permission to close its business and sell its assets, including 33 bakeries and 565 distribution centers.


“Down with Abdullah, Abdullah your era is gone!”

Thousands of angry Jordanians call for king to go

Jordanian protesters wave a flag bearing a picture of Argentine-born Cuban revolution hero Che Guevara during a demonstration against hikes in fuel prices in Amman. Thousands of protesters made unprecedented calls for Jordan’s King Abdullah II to go. (AFP – Khalil Mazraawi)
AMMAN: Thousands of protesters made unprecedented calls on Friday for Jordan’s King Abdullah II to go, as police blocked them from heading to the royal palace to vent their anger over big fuel price increases.

“Freedom, freedom, down with Abdullah,” chanted crowds that AFP estimated at around 10,000 people, including Islamists, leftists and youth activists.

Publicly insulting the king or calling for his overthrow is punishable by imprisonment in Jordan so the demonstrators’ slogans were a major departure for a kingdom that had previously been spared protests on the scale of other countries swept up in the Arab Spring.

“The people want the fall of the regime,” the protesters shouted angrily outside the Husseini Mosque in the heart of the capital, using the ralling call of the uprisings that swept aside veteran rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen last year.

“Abdullah, reform or leave, you have lost legitimacy,” they chanted. “God is greater than injustice… Abdullah your era is gone.”

Organisers said more than 25,000 people took part in the demonstration. Police put the number at 3,000.

In the face of the scale of the protests, the king cancelled a visit to London he was due to make next week, the British foreign ministry said.

Demonstrators held up banners saying: “Playing with prices means playing with fire,” “This is a real revolt against corruption” and “No reform without political and economic change. Long live the revolt of Jordanians.”

Police prevented them from heading for the palace around eight kilometres (five miles) from the mosque, but no clashes were reported, an AFP reporter said.

The deputy head of the main opposition Muslim Brotherhood, Zaki Bani Rsheid, told AFP: “The numbers calling for the fall of the regime are growing because of wrong polices that reject people’s demands.

“This cannot and should not be ignored. The regime must reform before it is too late.”

The protesters had said they planned to hold another demonstration at around 7:00 pm (1600 GMT) near the interior ministry, but only around 100 showed up.

Some 2,000 anti-riot policemen sealed off the area, as some 200 loyalists of the monarchy clashed with the small knot of anti-government protesters forcing them to flee.

Demonstrations were also held just outside Amman in the Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp and in the cities of Tafileh, Karak and Maan south of the capital, and Irbid and Jerash to its north.

The wave of protests erupted on Tuesday in response to the announcement of a 53 percent increase in the price of household gas and a 12 percent rise in the price of petrol.

But as with other Arab Spring protest movements the economic grievances have swiftly taken on political overtones.

The Muslim Brotherhood has demanded that the king cancel the price hikes and postpone a snap general election called for January 23, which the group has said it will boycott.

The Islamists say that reforms promised by the king do not go far enough in establishing a constitutional monarchy with a prime minister elected by parliament rather than appointed by the king.

Washington, which has said it is monitoring developments closely, called on Americans to avoid areas where demonstrations are being held.

“There’s a thirst for change,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner acknowledged on Thursday while underlining US support for the king.

“We support King Abdullah II’s road map for reform and the aspirations of the Jordanian people to foster a more inclusive political process that will promote security, stability as well as economic development,” he said.

– AFP/fa

US Military and Africom: Between the rocks and the crusaders

US Military and Africom: Between the rocks and the crusaders

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‘The Western bombardment of Gaddafi’s forces in Libya has become an opportunistic public relations ploy for the US Africa Command and a new inroad for US military stronghold on the continent,’ writes Horace Campbell.

The Western bombardment of Gaddafi’s forces in Libya has become an opportunistic public relations ploy for the United States Africa Command (Africom) and a new inroad for US military stronghold on the continent. This involvement of Africom in the bombardment is now serving to expose the contradictions and deceit that have surrounded the formation of this combatant command, which is a front for military humanitarian assistance to Africa in coordination with the US Department of State and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Attempts by the US to re-militarize its engagement with Africa is extremely dangerous, given the fact that the US does not have any positive or credible tradition of genuine assistance to freedom fighters and liberation movements in Africa.

The US was complicit in the planning of the murder of Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, after which they propped up the monstrous dictator Mobutu Sese Seko who raped and pillaged the country and established a recursive process of war, rape, plunder, corruption, and brutality which the Congo still suffers from till today. Jonas Savimbi was sponsored by the US to cause destabilization and terror in Angola. The US gave military, material and moral support to the apartheid regime in South Africa while anti-apartheid freedom fighters, including Nelson Mandela, were designated as terrorists. It was only in 2008 that the US Congress passed a bill to remove Mandela’s name from the terrorist watch list). The US has yet to tell the truth about how Charles Taylor escaped from its prison custody in Massachusetts to go destabilize Liberia. Young people who are recruited for the US military and deployed to Africom may not know much about the notorious history of US military involvement in Africa. The military top brass take advantage of this ignorance among the young folks.

Just as the US military carried out psychological warfare against US senators, one of the tasks of Africom is to rain down psychological warfare on Africans. Built in this subtle psychological warfare is the concept of the hierarchy of human beings and the superiority of the capitalist mode of production and ideas of Christian fundamentalism. It is on this front that we find a section of the US military known as the “Crusaders.”


In a recent article in Foreign Policy Magazine, Veteran US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh was reported to have revealed that there is a faction of the US military known as ‘Crusaders.’ Hersh asserted that these Crusaders are bent on intensifying a war against Islam, and see themselves as protectors of Christianity. According to the article, Hersh maintained that these neoconservative elements dominate the top echelons of the US military, including figures such as former commander of US forces in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Vice Admiral William McRaven. These crusaders have held American foreign policy hostage. Hersh said, “What I’m really talking about is how eight or nine neoconservative, radicals if you will, overthrew the American government. Took it over.”

Back in May 2009, even before the appearance of the article by Seymour Hersh,Harpers magazine carried a lengthy report that placed General David Petraeus at the heart of the Crusaders. The magazine carried a very detailed article on the role of the Crusaders in the military, entitled, “Evangelical Proselytization Still Rampant in U.S. Military.” In this article we are alerted to the numerous fronts of the Crusaders. The information in the magazine article discussed a book published in 2005 by Lieutenant Colonel William McCoy, titled Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel. According to the article this book outlined an “anti-Christian bias” in the US, and sought to counter it by making the case for the “necessity of Christianity for a properly functioning military.” McCoy’s book was endorsed by General David Petraeus, who said: “Under Orders should be in every rucksack for those moments when soldiers need spiritual energy.”

Not only do these Crusaders have control over the US military, they are also linked with a faction of the Catholic Church called “Opus Dei,” an arch conservative order that has links with international banking, finance, militarism, and intelligence formations. Besides Opus Dei, one finds the fundamentalist evangelicals in the US, who are linked to the forces of Islamophobia and corporate elements. One crucial figure in this world of neoconservative militarist was Dick Cheney, former US vice president and chairperson of Halliburton. It is worth noting that it was from Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld (former Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush) that the idea for United States Africa Command originated.

Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld epitomize the crusaders. They interface with the world of militarist, corporate capital, private military contractors, and dictators. Many of these Crusaders are overt white supremacists.

The careers of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and their corporate allies in the Carlyle Group, General Electric and Cerebrus spawn a world-wide web of conservative militarists, politicians, intellectuals and capitalists. These crusaders do not only disdain other cultures and religions, they have little or no regards for people of color. Rumsfeld and Cheney may have been unhappy to have read in Colin Powell’s book, that during a visit to Bunce Island in Sierra Leone he mentioned in a speech that: “As you know, I am an American, I am the son of Jamaicans who emigrated from the island to the United States. But today, I am something more. I am an African too. I feel my roots here in this continent” (Colin Powell, My American Journey, page 534). There are many from the rank and file of the crusaders who believe that President Barack Obama is not fit to be the leader of the United States, and their philosophy trickles down the hierarchy of the military, intensifying the divisions within the differing branches of US military. In 2010, one Lt. Col. Terry Lakin, a winner of medal of honor in the US military refused to take military command for deployment on grounds that he could not take orders from President Obama whom he considers unfit to be president and commander-in-chief. This belief is shared among many Republicans and conservative section of the US society, who are also present in the military and most epitomized by the crusaders. They claim that Obama was not born in the US, and thus was not supposed to be elected president.

Recent polls show that 51% of Republicans firmly believe Obama was not born in the US, and 21% say they are unsure if he was actually born here. Thus, over 70% of Republican constituency do not believe Obama is American and therefore don’t believe they should follow his orders.

The air force training academy in Colorado has received press reports about one faction of the neoconservatives in the air force who have manifested the most racist, sexist, and patriarchal attitude in the US armed forces (see “Christian Fundamentalist Bigotry Reigns at US Air Force Academy”). Those are the forces who have been most gung-ho about war because they simply drop bombs from the sky.

Information on the degree of conservatism at this Air force academy came to light when the Los Angeles Times reported that a Jewish father of two Air Force Academy cadets sued the Air Force, saying that senior officers and cadets illegally imposed Christianity on others at the school. The Air Force Academy is located in one of the most conservative areas of Colorado (Colorado Springs).Colorado Springs is the headquarters for dozens of conservative fundamentalist Christian groups, including Focus on the Family (the best-financed right-wing fundamentalist pressure group), as well as the International Bible Society and the New Life Church. These religious organizations provide the moral support for the racists and sexist ideas of the academy.

For some time, there have been open disagreements within the military between these Crusaders and another section of the military called the “Rocks.”


Originally, the “Rocks” were formed by senior officers in the military who are non-whites. Colin Powell first wrote of the existence of the Rocks in the US military in his book, My American Journey. Although the narrative on equal opportunity in the US military has been part of the public discourse in the US, these officers faced discrimination and felt left out of the “white old boy networks” in the military. This reality is so blatant that even the army journal, Parameter, carried articles such as“Why Black Officers Still Fail”. This article, like some others, mention the “white old boy network” as one cause of the marginalization of black army officers. Once this stamp of failure was placed on these black army officers, they sought solidarity with each other; these black army officers chafed as they saw their counterparts rising to the highest ranks and going through the revolving door of the military industrial complex and private military contractors.

General Joe Ballard of the Army Corps of Engineers was one Rock of the US military who found out the real workings of the old boy networks of the crusaders. Joe Ballard had attempted to break up the stranglehold of the old boy network that privileged Halliburton, but found out that these conservative networks were very strong. Neither General Ballard nor Bunny Greenhouse understood the real powers of the Crusaders until Ms. Greenhouse attempted to expose the improper and blatant corruption in the no bid contracts for Halliburton. For this exposure she was humiliated and a signal was sent to Ballard and Greenhouse about the power of the Crusaders.

Although the Rocks started out among the ranks of officers of color, by the time Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld intensified the politicization of the military, decent officers who were not crusaders identified with one philosophy of the Rocks: that the military should not be used for the interest of private capital. Many of the rank and file who learnt of the treatment of former servicemen after their tour of duty became Rocks, so that today the Army at its core e is dominated by the Rocks.

During the war against the people of Iraq, the differences between the Rocks and the Crusaders came out clearly. There were press reports stating: “The Anger Of The Generals Unprecedented In Modern Times”. The New York Times liberally published the names of retired Generals such as Major General Paul D. Eaton, General Anthony C. Zinni, Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold, Major General John Batiste, Major General John Riggs and Major General Charles H. Swannack Jr. These generals were not afraid to have their names in print as being opposed to Donald Rumsfeld. Some of these generals such as General Newbold was opposed to Rumsfeld and the operations in Iraq. One press report from the New York Times noted that, “Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold of the Marine Corps, who retired in late 2002, has said he regarded the American invasion of Iraq unnecessary. He issued his call for replacing Mr. Rumsfeld in an essay in the current edition of Time magazine. General Newbold said he regretted not opposing the invasion of Iraq more vigorously.” Colin Powell lost credibility when he fell prey to the make-believe intelligence cooked up by the Crusaders for the invasion of Iraq. But since realizing his blunder, Powell has become even more outspoken against the crusaders.

Many of the generals opposed to the crusader philosophy were forced into early retirement, and because of the difference in philosophy they were not able to join the gravy train of sitting on the boards of the top military suppliers or enter the revolving door between the private military contractors and the consulting firms in the military industrial complex. From y Bob Woodward’s books we have the profile of the more energetic sectors of the Crusaders such General Jack Keane, the present chairperson of the Board of the Institute for the Study of War. The Crusaders have the platforms of the Murdoch news outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and the Fox News. They seek respectability through think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. Behind these public policy institutes are the top conservative foundations such as the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Carthage Foundation, the Earhart Foundation, the Charles G. Koch, David H. Koch and Claude R. Lambe charitable foundations, the Phillip M. McKenna Foundation, the JM Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, the Henry Salvatori Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, and the Smith Richardson Foundation. From among these sponsors and supporters, the billionaire Koch Brothers stand out as a formidable financial backbone of crusade activism.


The news on the Koch Brothers, suggests the use of militaristic language by the Crusaders inside and outside the military. In the New Yorker magazine we were treated to a very detailed analysis of the neoconservative war by Jane Mayer,“Covert Operations: The Billionaire Brothers Who Are At War with Obama”.

One other glimpse of the attitude of the Crusaders inside the military towards the Obama administration can be found in the discourse relating to Obama’s plan for Afghanistan. In the book, Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward bares documented facts of the disrespect exhibited from a section of the military (crusaders) to Obama. What is most revealing is how the Secretary of Defense could not take a firm position against the disrespect. The other revelation was the alliance of Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, with a section of the military that refused to be serious about options for withdrawal from Afghanistan. Ultimately however, as President and Commander-in-Chief, Obama failed to provide the leadership necessary at a time when American citizens have said that they are tired of war. More than 70% of US population was opposed to further involvement in Afghanistan.

After Gates’failure to rein in the crusaders who were packed in the upper reaches of the military bureaucracy, Robert Gates belatedly placed some distance between himself and the crusaders. Initially, Gates opposed the idea of a no-fly zone over Libya. In a speech at West Point, he had said, “But in my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General [Douglas] MacArthur so delicately put it.”

Here, Robert Gates was attempting to put some distance between himself and the crusaders by telling the West Point audience that the US should not lead “a big American land army” into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa. However, once the section of the National Security Council that advocated for war prevailed, Gates was silent. The Crusaders began to place General Carter Ham before the television cameras to claim that the Libyan operation was being carried forth by the United States Africa Command. These public relations spinners expected the world to believe that US Africom with 1,500 personnel stationed in Germany was leading the mission in Libya.

In the Bush years, the Crusaders conceptualized the US as being in a permanent global war, using the phrase, “global war on terror” (GWOT), to justify their link to particular factions of Wall Street and the manipulation of national security for political and capital ends. It is not clear to what extent the philosophy of the Rocks prevailed over that of the Crusaders to influence the Obama administration’s decision to retreat from using the term GWOT. The administration has settled for the term, “overseas contingency operation” (OCO). What is clear is that in the face of resistance from emerging powers, the Crusaders have regrouped to build up their assets in Africa. This regrouping includes a heightened propaganda war with CNN acting as an active accomplice when it reported that, “Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) — has taken advantage of the unrest in Libya to seize SAMs from military stockpiles in rebel-held areas.” This news was supposed to bring back the images of armed terrorists with sophisticated weapons in North Africa.

For a short while when the book, Dark Sahara, by Jeremy Keenan exposed the fabrication of terrorism in North Africa, the Crusaders temporarily retreated. When the Free Officers Movement from Algeria (MAOL) corroborated some of the information that had been outlined in the book by Keenan, the Crusaders toned down the language on Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and instead focused on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. However, with the sweep of revolution across Yemen and the downgrading of the importance of the bogy of terrorism in Yemen, the forward planners inside the Pentagon decided to go all out to rehabilitate Africom in the service of the Crusaders.


The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) was established by the U.S. Department of Defense in February 2007 as the United States fifth regional operations base, and as a separate command “to oversee military operations on the African continent.” Africom was a brainchild of Crusaders such as Rumsfeld, Bush, and Cheney. Rumsfeld pushed through the concept before he left the Bush administration in December 2006. Bush announced the formation of Africom in February 2007. And just before the election in 2008, this new command was inaugurated. This command is stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, because of the stiff opposition against it in Africa. Even the allies of the United States in Africa understand the strength of African public opinion against Africom. Thus, leaders such as Yoweri Museveni of Uganda in public, oppose the US Africa Command, but embark on joint military exercises with the US military under the banner of Africom. Museveni is a good example of an African politician who has been taken in by the rhetoric of the Crusaders. Sections of his family are in active relationships with the most conservative Christian fundamentalists in the USA.

In the face of the public opposition from African thinkers and opinion makers, the forward planners for the Crusaders moved to spend money among struggling academics to promote an ideological onslaught to legitimize the United States Africa Command. Beside this intense work among social scientists, the forward planners among the Crusaders decided to employ the services of propaganda firms to fan the flames of Islamophobia in Africa. Africom has embarked on a massive public relations campaign to sell itself as a force for humanitarianism and development in Africa. Hence, for the past two years, almost all aspects of the United States foreign policy in Africa have been subordinated to the Pentagon. Essentially, with the force of only 1,500, Africom serves to hand out contract to private military contractors. Space will not allow to give details of this business of mercenary forces vis-à-vis US military. But the activities of Blackwater – now called Xe – are well known and extensively documented in the book by Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. From this book and others we have learned of the mindset behind the top brass of Blackwater (Xe). What is unclear is why the leaders of the Emirates would provide a home for the top honcho of Blackwater after there were calls for legal action against the company, following the shootings of 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square, Baghdad. Hundreds of private military contractors with reputation similar to that of Xe are now licensed to train African armies under the rubrics of Africom. These licenses are granted through the State Department so that the US Africa Command gets the contract for training African armies and then there is subcontracting to firms such as Dyncorp, one of the most energetic of the military contractors in Africa. DynCorp, essentially private army is now owned by Cerberus, one of the largest private equity investment firms in the United States. It is Dyncorp that is training the new Liberian army, and Liberia is the only African country whose president has said that Africom could locate its military base in that territory.

The other top military contracting firms are Kellogg Brown Root (KBR) Inc. (subsidiary of Halliburton), operating in Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia; Pacific Architects and Engineers Government Services (until recently a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin), operating in Liberia; Protection Strategies Inc., also involved in Liberia; and Military Professional Resources Inc, MPRI which has contracts in Benin Republic, Ethiopia, Ghana,, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal. Others are CSC (Computer Scientists Corporation) and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). There are also British private military contractors such as Aegis, but the British could not be relied upon to carry forward the ideology of the Crusaders. From time to time there is cooperation and competition between the British and US Crusaders in their efforts to control oil resources in societies such as Equatorial Guinea.

Equatorial Guinea is reputed to be one of the worst dictatorships in the world and MPRI was able to secure the Maritime Security Enhancement Program that provides nationwide coastal surveillance across Equatorial Guinea. On January 25, 2007, senior members of MPRI, met President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea and briefed him on the first three months of a five-year program for training of military and presidential security units (see the report, “Private US Firm Trains Equatorial Guinea Army Units,” Agence France-Presse, January 30, 2007. Read more: The posture statement of the United States Africa Command declares that, Africom “contributes to increasing security and stability in Africa—allowing African states and regional organizations to promote democracy, to expand development, to provide for their common defense, and to better serve their people. “ However, as the relationship with the dictator Obiang exposes, Africom is more concerned with the stability and security of US petroleum interests in Equatorial Guinea than with the democratic rights of the people.

The use of private capitalist armies by the US military crusaders in the Middle East has peaked in Iraq and Afghanistan, hence the consolidation of their market frontier in Africa. The article “Why Contractor Fatalities Matter,” (Parameters, Autumn 2008) states that there were more contractor personnel employed by the US military than there were military personnel on the ground in Iraq as of 2008. According to the article,

Today, the heavily outsourced US military cannot effectively function or sustain itself without an enormous contractor presence. Particularly in Iraq, the US government employs—directly and through subcontracts—more contractors than military. Most experts agree that there are at least 190,000, and as many as 196,000, contractor personnel in Iraq, compared to fewer than 170,000 military personnel (79).

The replication of this neoliberal militarism by using Africom as a front for private armies comes with the fabrication of terrorism and all forms of destabilizing machinations that would increase the market demand for private armies in Africa in order to satisfy the profit motives of the supplies of private military contracts from the West. This is a threat to the transformation of the continent.

The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt shocked the Crusaders and they calculated on how to make a move to gain the support from the US society and consolidate Africom. The debate over saving civilians in Libya provided the best opportunity, and Barack Obama opened the door to strengthening the crusaders – the very forces who do not believe that Obama was born in the USA.


When Barack Obama appointed General Eric Ken Shinseki as Secretary of Veteran Affairs, some sections of the Rocks had anticipated that Obama would do some house cleaning in the Pentagon to weed out the Crusaders and to remove their licenses for their contractors through the State Department. The Crusaders went on the offensive over the plans for expanding US forces in Afghanistan and Dick Cheney became the public spokesperson for them outside the official military and those among the private military contractors. Some observers have claimed that, from time to time Obama called on Colin Powell to rally the Rocks to counter the claims of Dick Cheney but Obama recoiled from a frontal assault on the Crusaders. The Crusader understood that Colin Powell had only little credibility after they manipulated him before the court of world opinion to give false witness before the United Nations harnessed all of their resources against Barack Obama. In the midst of the depression when the workers of Wisconsin demonstrated that the organized workers could isolate the Tea Party, the ideas of white supremacy were needed anew. This is where one must understand the present foray of the United Sates in Libya.

Dictators throughout Africa and the Middle East were shaken by the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. Barack Obama dithered on the question of the future relationship with the Crusaders when he should have taken a clear position on the question of a US military intervention in Libya. As the debate raged between the Rocks and the Crusaders inside the military bureaucracy, Robert Gates decided to abandon the Crusaders and gave Obama an opening by saying that any President who placed troops in Africa needed to have his head examined. While Obama dithered, France and Britain energetically pushed so that British Petroleum and ELF could be in the driver’s seat in North Africa in order to play the counter-revolutionary role against the rising tide of revolution. The Crusaders did not want to be left out and were temporarily sidelined until Susan Rice, (Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations), Samantha Power (Special Assistant to President and member of the National Security Council) and Hilary Clinton began to make the vigorous claim for US military intervention. These advisors of Barack Obama presented strong militaristic arguments and never considered serious alternatives to the military intervention. The Crusaders waited for the moment to bring back their public push for Africom. And they seized it.

We are now informed by the United States media that while the decision to support United Nations Security Council resolution 1973 was being debated, Barack Obama signed an executive order to place covert operatives in Libya, returning to the strategy of creeping war that precipitated the Iraq fiasco. The press organization, Reuters, reported that President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert US government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Obama signed the order, known as a presidential “finding,” within the last two or three weeks, according to four US government sources familiar with the matter. Such findings are a principal form of presidential directive used to authorize secret operations by the Central Intelligence Agency.

One piece of evidence of the struggle between the Crusaders and the Rocks came from the Al Jazeera report that the information on the executive order was leaked from inside the Pentagon. Those inside the Pentagon with the memory of the history of the no fly zone over Iraq understand the implications of regime change and creeping war.

Barack Obama was elected President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. It is within his power to disband the US Africa command because this command was created by presidential decree. It can be disbanded by a presidential decree. It does not make sense that trained military personnel are deployed to dig water wells in Lamu, Kenya or that Combined Joint task force teams were repairing wells in Tanga, Tanzania. For long term peace and transformation the United States must work with the democratic forces in Africa and the African Union.

Obama has the choice to either withdraw from the militarization of Africa or be torn apart by the US military relations with Africa. Obama will either lead or be swept aside in this era of depression, war and revolution. Obama must prove to the citizens that Seymour Hersh was wrong when he asserted that the Crusaders took over the US government.


* Horace Campbell is professor of African American studies and political science atSyracuse University. He is the author of ‘Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA’. See
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