A War We Cannot Win
> by John le Carre

> October 8
> "The bombing begins," screams today's headline of the normally restrained
Guardian. "Battle Joined" echoes the equally cautious Herald Tribune,
quoting George W. Bush. But with whom is it joined? And how will it end? How
about with Osama bin Laden in chains, looking more serene and Christ-like
than ever, arranged before a tribune of his vanquishers with Johnnie Cochran
to defend him? The fees won't be a problem, that's for sure.
> Or how about with a bin Laden blown to smithereens by one of those clever
bombs we keep reading about that kill terrorists in caves but don't break
the crockery? Or is there a solution I haven't thought of that will prevent
us from turning our arch-enemy into an arch-martyr in the eyes of those for
whom he is already semi-divine?
> Yet we must punish him. We must bring him to justice. Like any sane
person, I see no other way. Send in the food and medicines, provide the aid,
sweep up the starving refugees, maimed orphans and body parts--sorry,
"collateral damage"--but bin Laden and his awful men, we have no choice,
must be hunted down.
> But unfortunately what America longs for at this moment, even above
retribution, is more friends and fewer enemies. And what America is storing
up for herself, and so are we Brits, is yet more enemies; because after all
the bribes, threats and promises that have patched together the rickety
coalition, we cannot prevent another suicide bomber being born each time a
misdirected missile wipes out an innocent village, and nobody can tell us
how to dodge this devil's cycle of despair, hatred and--yet again--revenge.
> The stylized television footage and photographs of bin Laden suggest a man
of homoerotic narcissism, and maybe we can draw a grain of hope from that.
Posing with a Kalashnikov, attending a wedding or consulting a sacred text,
he radiates with every self-adoring gesture an actor's awareness of the
lens. He has height, beauty, grace, intelligence and magnetism, all great
attributes unless you're the world's hottest fugitive and on the run, in
which case they're liabilities hard to disguise. But greater than all of
them, to my jaded eye, is his barely containable male vanity, his appetite
for self-drama and his closet passion for the limelight. And just possibly
this trait will be his downfall, seducing him into a final dramatic act of
self-destruction, produced, directed, scripted and acted to death by Osama
bin Laden himself.
> By the accepted rules of terrorist engagement, of course, the war is long
lost. By us. What victory can we possibly achieve that matches the defeats
we have already suffered, let alone the defeats that lie ahead? Terror is
theater, a soft-spoken Palestinian firebrand told me in Beirut in 1982. He
was talking about the murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, but
he might as well have been talking about the twin towers and the Pentagon.
The late Bakunin, evangelist of anarchism, liked to speak of the propaganda
of the Act. It's hard to imagine more theatrical, more potent acts of
propaganda than these.
> Now Bakunin in his grave and bin Laden in his cave must be rubbing their
hands in glee as we embark on the very process that terrorists of their
stamp so relish: as we hastily double up our police and intelligence forces
and award them greater powers, as we put basic civil rights on hold and
curtail press freedom, impose news blackpoints and secret censorship, spy on
ourselves and, at our worst, violate mosques and hound luckless citizens in
our streets because we are afraid of the color of their skin.
> All the fears that we share--"Dare I fly?" "Ought I to tell the police
about the weird couple upstairs?" "Would it be safer not to drive down
Whitehall this morning?" "Is my child safely back from school?" "Have my
life's savings plummeted?"--are precisely the fears our attackers want us to
> Until September 11, the United States was only too happy to plug away at
Vladimir Putin about his butchery in Chechnya. Russia's abuse of human
rights in the North Caucasus, he was told--we are speaking of wholesale
torture, and murder amounting to genocide, it was generally agreed--was an
obstruction to closer relations with NATO and the United States. There were
even voices--mine was one--that suggested Putin join Milosevic in The Hague;
let's do them both together. Well, goodbye to all that. In the making of the
great new coalition, Putin will look a saint by comparison with some of his
> Does anyone remember anymore the outcry against the perceived economic
colonialism of the G8? Against the plundering of the Third World by
uncontrollable multinational companies? Prague, Seattle and Genoa presented
us with disturbing scenes of broken heads, broken glass, mob violence and
police brutality. Tony Blair was deeply shocked. Yet the debate was a valid
one, until it was drowned in a wave of patriotic sentiment, deftly exploited
by corporate America.
> Drag up Kyoto these days and you risk the charge of being anti-American.
It's as if we have entered a new, Orwellian world where our personal
reliability as comrades in the struggle is measured by the degree to which
we invoke the past to explain the present. Suggesting there is a historical
context for the recent atrocities is by implication to make excuses for
them. Anyone who is with us doesn't do that. Anyone who does, is against us.
> Ten years ago, I was making an idealistic bore of myself by telling anyone
who would listen that, with the cold war behind us, we were missing a
never-to-be-repeated chance to transform the global community. Where was the
new Marshall Plan? I pleaded. Why weren't young men and women from the
American Peace Corps, Voluntary Service Overseas and their Continental
European equivalents pouring into the former Soviet Union in their
thousands? Where was the world-class statesman and man of the hour with the
voice and vision to define for us the real, if unglamorous, enemies of
mankind: poverty, famine, slavery, tyranny, drugs, bush-fire wars, racial
and religious intolerance, greed?
> Now, overnight, thanks to bin Laden and his lieutenants, all our leaders
are world-class statesmen, proclaiming their voices and visions in distant
airports while they feather their electoral nests.
> There has been unfortunate talk, and not only from Signor Berlusconi, of a
crusade. Crusade, of course, implies a delicious ignorance of history. Was
Berlusconi really proposing to set free the holy places of Christendom and
smite the heathen? Was Bush? And am I out of order in recalling that we
actually lost the Crusades? But all is well: Signor Berlusconi was misquoted
and the presidential reference is no longer operative.
> Meanwhile, Blair's new role as America's fearless spokesman continues
apace. Blair speaks well because Bush speaks badly. Seen from abroad, Blair
in this partnership is the inspired elder statesman with an unassailable
domestic power base, whereas Bush--dare one say it these days?--was barely
elected at all.
> But what exactly does Blair, the elder statesman, represent? Both men at
this moment are riding high in their respective approval ratings, but both
are aware, if they know their history books, that riding high on Day One of
a perilous overseas military operation doesn't guarantee you victory on
Election Day. How many American body bags can Bush sustain without losing
popular support? After the horrors of the twin towers and the Pentagon, the
American people may want revenge, but they're on a very short fuse about
shedding more American blood.
> Blair--with the whole Western world to tell him so, except for a few sour
voices back home--is America's eloquent White Knight, the fearless, trusty
champion of that ever-delicate child of the mid-Atlantic, the Special
Relationship. Whether that will win Blair favor with his electorate is
another matter, because he was elected to save the country from decay, and
not from Osama bin Laden. The Britain he is leading to war is a monument to
sixty years of administrative incompetence. Our health, education and
transport systems are on the rocks. The fashionable phrase these days
describes them as "Third World," but there are places in the Third World
that are far better off than Britain.
> The Britain Blair governs is blighted by institutionalized racism, white
male dominance, chaotically administered police forces, a constipated
judicial system, obscene private wealth and shameful and unnecessary public
poverty. At the time of his re-election, which was characterized by a dismal
turnout, Blair acknowledged these ills and humbly admitted that he was on
notice to put them right. So when you catch the noble throb in his voice as
he leads us reluctantly to war, and your heart lifts to his undoubted
flourishes of rhetoric, it's worth remembering that he may also be warning
you, sotto voce, that his mission to mankind is so important that you will
have to wait another year for your urgent medical operation and a lot longer
before you can ride in a safe and punctual train. I am not sure that this is
the stuff of electoral victory three years from now. Watching Blair, and
listening to him, I can't resist the impression that he is in a bit of a
dream, walking his own da!
> ngerous plank.
> Did I say war? Has either Blair or Bush, I wonder, ever seen a child blown
to bits, or witnessed the effect of a single cluster bomb dropped on an
unprotected refugee camp? It isn't necessarily a qualification for
generalship to have seen such dreadful things, and I don't wish either of
them the experience. But it scares me all the same when I watch uncut,
political faces shining with the light of combat, and hear preppy political
voices steeling my heart for battle.
> And please, Mr. Bush--on my knees, Mr. Blair--keep God out of this. To
imagine that God fights wars is to credit Him with the worst follies of
mankind. God, if we know anything about Him, which I don't profess to,
prefers effective food drops, dedicated medical teams, comfort and good
tents for the homeless and bereaved, and, without strings, a decent
acceptance of our past sins and a readiness to put them right. He prefers us
less greedy, less arrogant, less evangelical and less dismissive of life's
> It's not a new world order, not yet, and it's not God's war. It's a
horrible, necessary, humiliating police action to redress the failure of our
intelligence services and our blind political stupidity in arming and
exploiting Islamic fanatics to fight the Soviet invader, then abandoning
them to a devastated, leaderless country. As a result, it's our miserable
duty to seek out and punish a bunch of modern-medieval religious zealots who
will gain mythic stature from the very death we propose to dish out to them.
> And when it's over, it won't be over. The shadowy armies of bin Laden, in
the emotional aftermath of his destruction, will gather numbers rather than
wither away. So will the hinterland of silent sympathizers who provide them
with logistical support. Cautiously, between the lines, we are being invited
to believe that the conscience of the West has been reawakened to the
dilemma of the poor and homeless of the earth. And possibly, out of fear,
necessity and rhetoric, a new sort of political morality has indeed been
born. But when the shooting dies and a seeming peace is achieved, will the
United States and its allies stay at their posts or, as happened at the end
of the cold war, hang up their boots and go home to their own backyards?
Even if those backyards will never again be the safe havens they once were.
> Copyright David Cornwell © 2001.
Subject: Umberto Eco on The roots of conflict
> The roots of conflict
> Is western culture better than any other? Umberto
> Eco argues that what is
> important is not superiority but pluralism and
> toleration
> Umberto Eco
> Guardian
> Saturday October 13, 2001
> All the religious wars that have caused blood to be
> shed for centuries
> arise from passionate feelings and facile
> counter-positions, such as Us
> and Them, good and bad, white and black. If western
> culture is shown to
> be rich it is because, even before the
> Enlightenment, it has tried to
> "dissolve" harmful simplifications through inquiry
> and the critical mind.
> Of course it did not always do this. Hitler, who
> burned books, condemned
> "degenerate" art and killed those belonging to
> "inferior" races; and the
> fascism which taught me at school to recite "May God
> Curse the English"
> because they were "the people who eat five meals a
> day" and were
> therefore greedy and inferior to thrifty Italians,
> are also part of the
> history of western culture.
> It is sometimes hard to grasp the difference between
> identifying with
> one's own roots, understanding people with other
> roots, and judging what
> is good or bad. Should I prefer to live in Limoges
> rather than, say,
> Moscow? Moscow is certainly a beautiful city. But in
> Limoges I would
> understand the language. Everyone identifies with
> the culture in which he
> grew up and the cases of root transplants, while
> they do occur, are in
> the minority: Lawrence of Arabia dressed as an Arab,
> but he ended up back
> home in England.
> The west, often for reasons of economic expansion,
> has been curious about
> other civilisations. The Greeks referred to those
> who did not speak their
> language as barbarians, that is stammerers, as if
> they did not speak at
> all. But a few more mature Greeks, like the Stoics,
> noticed that although
> the barbarians used different words, they referred
> to the same thoughts.
> >From the second half of the 19th century, cultural
> anthropology
> developed as an attempt to assuage the guilt of the
> west towards others,
> and particularly those others who had been defined
> as savages; societies
> without a history, primitive peoples. The task of
> the cultural
> anthropologist was to demonstrate that beliefs which
> differed from
> western ones existed, and should be taken seriously,
> not disdained and
> repressed. In order to say - as Italian prime
> minister Silvio Berlusconi
> did, controversially, this month - whether any one
> culture is superior to
> another, parameters have to be established.
> A culture can be described objectively - these
> people behave like this;
> believe in spirits or in a single divine being that
> pervades the whole of
> nature; meet in family clans according to these
> rules; consider it
> beautiful to pierce their noses with rings (this
> could be a description
> of western youth culture); consider pork to be
> impure; circumcise
> themselves; raise dogs for the pot on public
> holidays or, as the English
> and Americans still say of the French, eat frogs.
> Obviously, the anthropologist knows that objectivity
> is always limited by
> many factors. The criteria of judgment depend on our
> own roots,
> preferences, habits, passions, our system of values.
> For example: do we
> consider that the prolonging of the average life
> span from 40 to 80 years
> is worthwhile? I personally believe so, but many
> mystics could tell me
> that, between a glutton who lives for 80 years and
> Saint Luigi Gonzaga,
> who only survived for 23, it was the latter who had
> the fuller life.
> Do we believe that technological development, the
> expansion of trade, and
> faster transport is worthwhile? Many think so, and
> judge our
> technological civilisation as superior. But, within
> the western world
> itself, there are those who primarily wish to live
> in harmony with an
> uncorrupted environment, and are willing to
> relinquish air travel, cars
> and refrigerators, to weave baskets and travel on
> foot from one village
> to another, as long as the ozone hole isn't there.
> So in order to define one culture as better than
> another, it is not
> enough to describe it (as the anthropologist does),
> but it is advisable
> to have recourse to a system of values which we do
> not feel we can
> relinquish. Only at this point can we say that our
> culture is better, for us.
> How absolute is the parameter of technological
> development? Pakistan has
> the atom bomb, not Italy. So is Italy an inferior
> civilisation? Better to
> live in Islamabad than Arcore? Shouldn't we respect
> the Islamic world by
> being reminded that it has given us men like
> Avicenna (who was actually
> born in Buchara, not far from Afghanistan) and
> Averroes, as well as
> Al-Kindi, Avenpace, Avicebron, Ibn Tufayl, or that
> great historian of the
> 14th century Ibn Khaldoun, whom the west considers
> as the father of the
> social sciences. The Arabs of Spain cultivated
> geography, astronomy,
> mathematics or medicine when the Christian world was
> lagging far behind
> in those subjects.
> We might recall that those Arabs of Spain were
> fairly tolerant of
> Christians and Jews, while we gave rise to the
> ghettoes, and that
> Saladin, when he reconquered Jerusalem, was more
> merciful to the
> Christians than the Christians had been to the
> Saracens when they took
> over Jerusalem. All very true, but in the Islamic
> world there are
> fundamentalist and theocratic regimes today which
> the Christians do not
> tolerate, and Bin Laden was not merciful to New
> York. The Taliban
> destroyed the great stone Buddhas with their cannon:
> conversely, the
> French carried out the St Bartholomew's day
> massacre, but this gives no
> one the right to say they are barbarians today.
> History is a two-edged sword. The Turks were
> impalers (and that's bad)
> but the orthodox Byzantines put out the eyes of
> their dangerous relatives
> and the Catholics burned Giordano Bruno; Saracen
> pirates did many wicked
> things, but the buccaneers of his British majesty
> set fire to the Spanish
> colonies in the Caribbean; Bin Laden and Saddam
> Hussein are ferocious
> enemies of western civilisation, but within western
> civilisation there
> were men like Hitler and Stalin.
> No, the problem of parameters is not set within
> history, but in our
> times. One of the praiseworthy aspects of western
> culture (free and
> pluralistic, and these are values which we consider
> basic and essential)
> is that it has been long held that the same person
> can employ different
> parameters which may be mutually contradictory on
> different matters. For
> example, the prolonging of life is considered good,
> and atmospheric
> pollution bad, but we can very well see that maybe
> in big laboratories
> where they study how to prolong life, there might be
> power systems which
> themselves produce pollution.
> Western culture has developed the capacity to freely
> lay bare its own
> contradictions. Maybe they remain unresolved, but
> they are well known and
> admitted: how can we manage some positive
> globalisation while avoiding
> the risks and injustices that follow; how can we
> prolong life for the
> millions of Africans dying of Aids (while at the
> same time prolonging our
> own lives) without accepting a planetary economy
> which causes people to
> die of hunger and Aids, and makes us eat polluted
> food?
> But it is just this criticism of parameters, pursued
> and encouraged by
> the west, that makes us understand how delicate the
> matter is. Is it just
> and proper to protect bank secrets? Many people
> think so. But if this
> secrecy allows terrorists to keep their accounts in
> the City of London
> then is this defence of so-called privacy a positive
> value or a doubtful
> one? We are always calling our parameters into
> question. The western
> world does so to such an extent as to allow its own
> citizens to turn down
> technological development and become Buddhists, or
> go and live in
> communities where no tyres are used, not even for
> horse-drawn carts.
> The west has decided to channel money and effort
> into studying other
> customs and practices, but no one has really given
> other people the
> chance to study western customs and practices,
> except at schools
> maintained by white expatriates, or by allowing the
> rich from other
> cultures to study in Oxford or Paris. What happens
> then is that they
> return home to organise fundamentalist movements,
> because they feel
> solidarity with those of their compatriots who lack
> the opportunity for
> such education.
> An international organisation called Transcultura
> has been campaigning
> for an "alternative anthropology" for some years. It
> has taken African
> researchers, who have never been to the west before,
> to describe
> provincial France and society in Bologna. Both sides
> started to take a
> genuine look at each other, and some interesting
> discussions took place.
> At present, three Chinese - a philosopher, an
> anthropologist and an
> artist - are completing a Marco Polo voyage in
> reverse, culminating in a
> conference in Brussels in November. Imagine Muslim
> fundamentalists being
> invited to research Christian fundamentalism (not
> the Catholics this
> time, but American Protestants, more fanatical than
> ayatollahs, who try
> to expunge all reference to Darwin from schools). In
> my opinion the
> anthropological study of other people's
> fundamentalism leads to a better
> understanding of one's own. Let them come and study
> our concept of holy
> war (I could commend many interesting texts to them,
> including some quite
> recent ones). They might then take a more critical
> view of the idea of
> holy war back home.
> We are a pluralist civilisation because we allow
> mosques to be built in
> our countries, and we are not going to stop simply
> because Christian
> missionaries are thrown into prison in Kabul. If we
> did so, we too would
> become Taliban. The parameter of tolerating
> diversity is certainly one of
> the strongest and least open to argument. We
> consider our culture mature
> because it can tolerate diversity, and those who
> share our culture, while
> rejecting diversity to be uncivilised, period. We
> hope that, if we allow
> mosques in our countries, one day there will be
> Christian churches in
> their countries, or at least Buddhas won't get blown
> up there. If we
> believe we have got our parameters right, that is.
> But there is a great deal of confusion. Funny things
> happen these days.
> It seems that defending western values has become a
> rightwing
> prerogative, while the Left, as ever, is
> pro-Islamic. Now, apart from the
> pro-third world, pro-Arab stance of some rightwing
> and Catholic activist
> circles, and so on, this ignores a historical
> phenomenon which is there
> for all to see.
> The defence of scientific values, of technological
> development and modern
> western culture in general, has always been
> characteristic of secular and
> progressive political circles. Indeed, all communist
> regimes have relied
> on an ideology of technological and scientific
> progress. The 1848
> Communist Manifesto opens with a dispassionate
> eulogy on the expansion of
> the bourgeoisie. Marx does not say it is necessary
> to change direction
> and go over to Asian means of production. He merely
> says that the
> proletariat must learn to master these values and
> successes.
> Conversely it has always been reactionary thought
> (in the best sense of
> the word), at least starting from the rejection of
> the French revolution,
> which has opposed the secular ideology of progress
> and propounded a
> return to traditional values. Only a few neo-Nazi
> groups have a mythical
> notion of the west and would be ready to slit the
> throats of all Muslims
> at Stonehenge. The more serious traditionalist
> thinkers have always
> looked to Islam as a source of alternative
> spirituality, in addition to
> the rites and myths of primitive peoples and the
> teachings of Buddhism.
> They have always made a point of reminding us that
> we are not superior,
> but impoverished by our ideology of progress, and
> that we must seek the
> truth among the Sufi mystics or the whirling
> dervishes. Thus a strange
> dichotomy is now opening on the right. But perhaps
> it is only a sign
> that, at times of great bewilderment (such as the
> present), no one knows
> quite where they stand any more.
> But it is at times of bewilderment that the weapon
> of analysis and
> criticism comes into its own, to be applied to our
> own superstitions and
> those of others.
> © La Repubblica
The Coming Apocalypse in Central Asia

Geov Parrish, WorkingForChange.com

November 5, 2001

Does anybody in this country get it?

Does anybody understand what the United States is on the verge of doing?

Experienced, respected food aid organizations warn that even before the

bombing of Afghanistan began on October 7, some 7,500,000 Afghans were --

through a gut-wrenching combination of poverty, drought, war, dislocation,

and repression -- at risk of starving to death this winter. When the bombing

began, almost all delivery of food from the outside world stopped. Now,

roads and bridges are destroyed, millions more people are dislocated, and

the snow is steadily approaching from higher elevations and from the north.

For weeks, aid organizations, along with voices from throughout the region,

have been begging the United States to call off its bombing campaign, at

least for long enough so that aid agencies can conduct the massive transfer

of food into and throughout Afghanistan that is necessary to prevent death

on a scale the world has not seen in a long, long time. On our newscasts,

it's politely referred to as a "humanitarian crisis." That's a euphemism

that makes "collateral damage" seem humane.

Seven and a half million people at risk of dying in a matter of months.

That's three times the number of people Pol Pot took years to kill.

Thirty-five times the number that died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, combined.

If 5,000 died on September 11, we're talking the equivalent number of deaths

to ten World Trade Centers, every day, for 150 days. Slow, painful deaths.

Entirely avoidable deaths. Deaths whose sole cause is not the United States,

but most of which can still be prevented -- except that the United States is

refusing to allow them to be prevented.

It repulses me to say this, but I suspect a lot of Americans don't care.

They'd rather see the United States "get" Osama bin Laden (though there's no

actual evidence that we're any closer to that today than we were two months

ago, and probably the task is harder as he becomes more popular and

protected). A lot of people in this country do not care that a staggering

number of innocent people are on the verge of being condemned to death, or

that most of the world will blame the United States. Correctly.

We should care. If the object of this war was to thwart terrorism -- to

bring existing terrorists to justice, and to isolate them politically and

culturally so that others won't throw in their lot -- in less than a month,

the United States has perpetrated one of the most abject failures in

military history. It still does not know where any of Al-Qaeda's leadership

even is. It is on the verge of succeeding in its goal of creating a unified

Afghanistan government -- unfortunately, Afghans are uniting behind the

Taliban, as warlord after warlord sets aside long-standing differences to

stand shoulder to shoulder to fight the American invaders. Tens of thousands

more young Muslim men are lining up to cross the borders into Afghanistan to

join them. The ones that survive the experience will carry a lifetime of

hate: living, breathing proof that within a month, America bombed a country

but lost its war in spectacular fashion.

That's today. What will happen if millions of Afghans die this winter? How

much future terrorism will the dunderheads of the Bush Administration have

inspired then? If several million Islamic sisters and brothers starve to

death, innocent civilians trapped between winter and the rage of America,

how many of Islam's 1.2 billion adherents -- or the five billion other

people on earth -- are going to take George Bush's proclamations about

eradicating "terrorists" and "evildoers" to heart, and label him, and us, as

the prime examples?

In less than two months, the United States government has gone from the

moral high ground of being victimized by one of the most heinous crimes in

world history, to being within a week or two of quite visibly committing a

crime so much larger as to obliterate the world's memory of September 11.

Remarkably, almost nobody in the United States seems to have either noticed,

understood, or cared. While even progressives wring their hands over the

ambiguity of a war fought under the auspices of America's legitimate right

to defend itself, a situation is unfolding in which there is absolutely no

moral ambiguity at all, and for which many people will want to hold each of

us as accountable as the world held post-war Germans. Where were you? What

did you say? How could you allow this to happen? Or, a more likely reaction

in the Islamic world: Why should millions of you not die as well? America

will have set out to isolate one man, and instead killed millions and

isolated itself. And much of the world will not rest until we are brought to

our knees.

Seven and a half million people. The snowline is creeping down the

mountainsides. The food is almost gone. The infrastructure is in shambles.

There will be no "independent verification" of the body count. There wasn't

in the Holocaust or Rwanda or Cambodia, either. The judgment of the world

did not need one. The clock is ticking. Where were you?


>Suppressed Details of Criminal Insider Trading lead directly into the CIA`s
>Highest Ranks

>CIA Executive Director "Buzzy" Krongard managed Firm that handled "put"
>Options on UAL
>by Michael C. Ruppert
>FTW Publications, 9 October 2001
>Centre for Research on Globalisation, globalresearch.ca, 20 October 2001
>Although uniformly ignored by the mainstream U.S. media, there is abundant
>and clear evidence that a number of transactions in financial markets
>indicated specific (criminal) foreknowledge of the September 11 attacks on
>the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. That evidence also demonstrates
>that, in the case of at least one of these trades -- which has left a $2.5
>million prize unclaimed -- the firm used to place the "put options" on
>United Airlines stock was, until 1998, managed by the man who is now in the
>number three Executive Director position at the Central Intelligence Agency.
>Until 1997 A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard had been Chairman of the investment bank
>A.B. Brown. A.B. Brown was acquired by Banker's Trust in 1997. Krongard then
>became, as part of the merger, Vice Chairman of Banker's Trust-AB Brown, one
>of 20 major U.S. banks named by Senator Carl Levin this year as being
>connected to money laundering. Krongard's last position at Banker's Trust
>(BT) was to oversee "private client relations." In this capacity he had
>direct hands-on relations with some of the wealthiest people in the world in
>a kind of specialized banking operation that has been identified by the U.S.
>Senate and other investigators as being closely connected to the laundering
>of drug money.
>Krongard (re?) joined the CIA in 1998 as counsel to CIA Director George
>Tenet. He was promoted to CIA Executive Director by President Bush in March
>of this year. BT was acquired by Deutsche Bank in 1999. The combined firm is
>the single largest bank in Europe. And, as we shall see, Deutsche Bank
>played several key roles in events connected to the September 11 attacks


White House summons biz chieftains
By Peter Bart, Variety Editor-in-Chief

HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - The Bush administration's outreach to Hollywood has taken on new urgency.

The industry's top leaders, including Viacom Inc. chairman Sumner Redstone and News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, will assemble in Beverly Hills Sunday morning with Karl Rove, the president's senior adviser, to hammer out a specific agenda for the entertainment industry to aid the fight on terrorism.

read more


I've been thinking a lot lately about Warren Anderson
By Lloyd K. Marbet

Around midnight on the night of 2-3 December 1984, two tanks of chemicals at a Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal, India ruptured, releasing 40-45 tons of poison gases over the next hour.
In accordance with company policy ("to avoid causing panic"), no alarm was sounded and no evacuation was ordered, although the factory was surrounded by residential areas of the city of more than a million people. Although the gas cloud lingered and continued to cause permanent injuries for days, Union Carbide told neighbors of the factory that the danger was past.

Between 3,000 and 6,000 people died within days, and perhaps another 10,000 have died since from the effects of the poison gas. Between 100,000 and 500,000 people suffered permanent injuries.

Evidence was presented to the Indian courts -- which operate under procedures largely inherited from the British, and which are generally considered fair and independent -- sufficient to warrant charges of criminal negligence against Union Carbide and its corporate officers.

When Warren Anderson, president of Union Carbide, arrived in Bhopal to express his condolences to those who had "accidentally" been killed and crippled, he was duly arrested on charges of culpable homicide.

He posted bail, and promised to appear in court for trial. He jumped bail, and snuck out of India (and back to the USA). When representatives of the victims sued for damages in the USA, Anderson and Union Carbide got the lawsuits dismissed by arguing that the proper venue for lawsuits was in India. They (again) promised -- this time to courts in the USA -- that they would appear in court to face charges in India. But they didn't.

The Indian courts ordered Anderson's bail forfeited, declared him a fugitive, and sent a warrant for his arrest to the USA through Interpol.

Anderson -- now a fugitive from international justice, wanted for mass murder and under indictment by the courts of a friendly country with which the USA maintains diplomatic relations - - has since retired as CEO of Union Carbide, and has never returned to India.

When attorneys for the Bhopal victims attempted to serve Union Carbide with a summons for Anderson, Union Carbide claimed they didn't know where he is (although they continue to pay him his pension).

The USA has, of course, neither arrested nor extradited Anderson on the basis of the Interpol warrants.

Union Carbide has since been acquired by Dow Chemical as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dow.

But Union Carbide's headquarters remains in the same place: an isolated complex outside Danbury, Connecticut, in the middle of over 100 acres of company-owned private forest. No trace of the outside world or human presence (not even the entrance road itself) can be seen from the office windows, and no trace of the building -- nothing but the guardhouse on the road -- can be seen from any publicly-accessible land.

So what if a team of Indian commandos were to descend on Anderson's last reported address in Florida, kidnap him, and take him back to India to stand trial?

Or what if India's aircraft carrier (yes, they have one) were to be positioned in Long Island Sound, and some Indian bombers were sent to suitable locations in neighboring countries:

Toronto and the Bahamas, say. And what if an ultimatum were to be given: "You are harboring a criminal, and you know where he is.

No innocent people will be harmed if we destroy your Union Carbide compound -- no one but your employees and contractors is allowed within sight. Hand him over in three days, or else."

Of course, these are purely hypothetical questions. Nothing like that would ever happen, would it?









FEBRUARY 12, 1998


Mr. Chairman, I am John Maresca, Vice President, International Relations, of Unocal Corporation. Unocal is one of the world's leading energy resource and project development companies. Our activities are focused on three major regions -- Asia, Latin America and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. In Asia and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, we are a major oil and gas producer. I appreciate your invitation to speak here today. I believe these hearings are important and timely, and I congratulate you for focusing on Central Asia oil and gas reserves and the role they play in shaping U.S. policy.

Today we would like to focus on three issues concerning this region, its resources and U.S. policy:

The need for multiple pipeline routes for Central Asian oil and gas.

The need for U.S. support for international and regional efforts to achieve balanced and lasting political settlements within Russia, other newly independent states and in Afghanistan.

The need for structured assistance to encourage economic reforms and the development of appropriate investment climates in the region. In this regard, we specifically support repeal or removal of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act.

For more than 2,000 years, Central Asia has been a meeting ground between Europe and Asia, the site of ancient east-west trade routes collectively called the Silk Road and, at various points in history, a cradle of scholarship, culture and power. It is also a region of truly enormous natural resources, which are revitalizing cross-border trade, creating positive political interaction and stimulating regional cooperation. These resources have the potential to recharge the economies of neighboring countries and put entire regions on the road to prosperity.

About 100 years ago, the international oil industry was born in the Caspian/Central Asian region with the discovery of oil. In the intervening years, under Soviet rule, the existence

of the region's oil and gas resources was generally known, but only partially or poorly developed.

As we near the end of the 20th century, history brings us full circle. With political barriers falling, Central Asia and the Caspian are once again attracting people from around the globe who are seeking ways to develop and deliver its bountiful energy resources to the markets of the world.

The Caspian region contains tremendous untapped hydrocarbon reserves, much of them located in the Caspian Sea basin itself. Proven natural gas reserves within Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan equal more than 236 trillion cubic feet. The region's total oil reserves may reach more than 60 billion barrels of oil -- enough to service Europe's oil needs for 11 years. Some estimates are as high as 200 billion barrels. In 1995, the region was producing only 870,000 barrels per day (44 million tons per year [Mt/y]).

By 2010, Western companies could increase production to about 4.5 million barrels a day (Mb/d) -- an increase of more than 500 percent in only 15 years. If this occurs, the region would represent about five percent of the world's total oil production, and almost 20 percent of oil produced among non-OPEC countries.

One major problem has yet to be resolved: how to get the region's vast energy resources to the markets where they are needed. There are few, if any, other areas of the world where there can be such a dramatic increase in the supply of oil and gas to the world market. The solution seems simple: build a "new" Silk Road. Implementing this solution, however, is far from simple. The risks are high, but so are the rewards.

Finding and Building Routes to World Markets

One of the main problems is that Central Asia is isolated. The region is bounded on the north by the Arctic Circle, on the east and west by vast land distances, and on the south by a series of natural obstacles -- mountains and seas -- as well as political obstacles, such as conflict zones or sanctioned countries.

This means that the area's natural resources are landlocked, both geographically and politically. Each of the countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia faces difficult political challenges. Some have unsettled wars or latent conflicts. Others have evolving systems where the laws -- and even the courts -- are dynamic and changing. Business commitments can be rescinded without warning, or they can be displaced by new geopolitical realities.

In addition, a chief technical obstacle we face in transporting oil is the region's existing pipeline infrastructure. Because the region's pipelines were constructed during the Moscow-centered Soviet period, they tend to head north and west toward Russia. There are no connections to the south and east.

Depending wholly on this infrastructure to export Central Asia oil is not practical. Russia currently is unlikely to absorb large new quantities of "foreign" oil, is unlikely to be a significant market for energy in the next decade, and lacks the capacity to deliver it to other markets.

Certainly there is no easy way out of Central Asia. If there are to be other routes, in other directions, they must be built.

Two major energy infrastructure projects are seeking to meet this challenge. One, under the aegis of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, or CPC, plans to build a pipeline west from the Northern Caspian to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossisk. From Novorossisk, oil from this line would be transported by tanker through the Bosphorus to the Mediterranean and world markets.

The other project is sponsored by the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC), a consortium of 11 foreign oil companies including four American companies -- Unocal, Amoco, Exxon and Pennzoil. It will follow one or both of two routes west from Baku. One line will angle north and cross the North Caucasus to Novorossisk. The other route would cross Georgia and extend to a shipping terminal on the Black Sea port of Supsa. This second route may be extended west and south across Turkey to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

But even if both pipelines were built, they would not have enough total capacity to transport all the oil expected to flow from the region in the future; nor would they have the capability to move it to the right markets. Other export pipelines must be built.

Unocal believes that the central factor in planning these pipelines should be the location of the future energy markets that are most likely to need these new supplies. Just as Central Asia was the meeting ground between Europe and Asia in centuries past, it is again in a unique position to potentially service markets in both of these regions -- if export routes to these markets can be built. Let's take a look at some of the potential markets.

Western Europe

Western Europe is a tough market. It is characterized by high prices for oil products, an aging population, and increasing competition from natural gas. Between 1995 and 2010, we estimate that demand for oil will increase from 14.1 Mb/d (705 Mt/y) to 15.0 Mb/d (750 Mt/y), an average growth rate of only 0.5 percent annually. Furthermore, the region is already amply supplied from fields in the Middle East, North Sea, Scandinavia and Russia. Although there is perhaps room for some of Central Asia's oil, the Western European market is unlikely to be able to absorb all of the production from the Caspian region.

Central and Eastern Europe

Central and Eastern Europe markets do not look any better. Although there is increased demand for oil in the region's transport sector, natural gas is gaining strength as a competitor. Between 1995 and 2010, demand for oil is expected to increase by only half a million barrels per day, from 1.3 Mb/d (67 Mt/y) to 1.8 Mb/d (91.5 Mt/y). Like Western Europe, this market is also very competitive. In addition to supplies of oil from the North Sea, Africa and the Middle East, Russia supplies the majority of the oil to this region.

The Domestic NIS Market

The growth in demand for oil also will be weak in the Newly Independent States (NIS). We expect Russian and other NIS markets to increase demand by only 1.2 percent annually between 1997 and 2010.


In stark contrast to the other three markets, the Asia/Pacific region has a rapidly increasing demand for oil and an expected significant increase in population. Prior to the recent turbulence in the various Asian/Pacific economies, we anticipated that this region's demand for oil would almost double by 2010. Although the short-term increase in demand will probably not meet these expectations, Unocal stands behind its long-term estimates.

Energy demand growth will remain strong for one key reason: the region's population is expected to grow by 700 million people by 2010.

It is in everyone's interests that there be adequate supplies for Asia's increasing energy requirements. If Asia's energy needs are not satisfied, they will simply put pressure on all world markets, driving prices upwards everywhere.

The key question is how the energy resources of Central Asia can be made available to satisfy the energy needs of nearby Asian markets. There are two possible solutions -- with several variations.

Export Routes

East to China: Prohibitively Long?

One option is to go east across China. But this would mean constructing a pipeline of more than 3,000 kilometers to central China -- as well as a 2,000-kilometer connection to reach the main population centers along the coast. Even with these formidable challenges, China National Petroleum Corporation is considering building a pipeline east from Kazakhstan to Chinese markets.

Unocal had a team in Beijing just last week for consultations with the Chinese. Given China's long-range outlook and its ability to concentrate resources to meet its own needs, China is almost certain to build such a line. The question is what will the costs of transporting oil through this pipeline be and what netback will the producers receive.

South to the Indian Ocean: A Shorter Distance to Growing Markets

A second option is to build a pipeline south from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean.

One obvious potential route south would be across Iran. However, this option is foreclosed for American companies because of U.S. sanctions legislation. The only other possible route option is across Afghanistan, which has its own unique challenges.

The country has been involved in bitter warfare for almost two decades. The territory across which the pipeline would extend is controlled by the Taliban, an Islamic movement that is not recognized as a government by most other nations. From the outset, we have made it clear that construction of our proposed pipeline cannot begin until a recognized government is in place that has the confidence of governments, lenders and our company.

In spite of this, a route through Afghanistan appears to be the best option with the fewest technical obstacles. It is the shortest route to the sea and has relatively favorable terrain for a pipeline. The route through Afghanistan is the one that would bring Central Asian oil closest to Asian markets and thus would be the cheapest in terms of transporting the oil.

Unocal envisions the creation of a Central Asian Oil Pipeline Consortium. The pipeline would become an integral part of a regional oil pipeline system that will utilize and gather oil from existing pipeline infrastructure in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia.

The 1,040-mile-long oil pipeline would begin near the town of Chardzhou, in northern Turkmenistan, and extend southeasterly through Afghanistan to an export terminal that would be constructed on the Pakistan coast on the Arabian Sea. Only about 440 miles of the pipeline would be in Afghanistan.

This 42-inch-diameter pipeline will have a shipping capacity of one million barrels of oil per day. Estimated cost of the project -- which is similar in scope to the Trans Alaska Pipeline -- is about US$2.5 billion.

There is considerable international and regional political interest in this pipeline. Asian crude oil importers, particularly from Japan, are looking to Central Asia and the Caspian as a new strategic source of supply to satisfy their desire for resource diversity. The pipeline benefits Central Asian countries because it would allow them to sell their oil in expanding and highly prospective hard currency markets. The pipeline would benefit Afghanistan, which would receive revenues from transport tariffs, and would promote stability and encourage trade and economic development. Although Unocal has not negotiated with any one group, and does not favor any group, we have had contacts with and briefings for all of them. We know that the different factions in Afghanistan understand the importance of the pipeline project for their country, and have expressed their support of it.

A recent study for the World Bank states that the proposed pipeline from Central Asia across Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea would provide more favorable netbacks to oil producers through access to higher value markets than those currently being accessed through the traditional Baltic and Black Sea export routes.

This is evidenced by the netback values producers will receive as determined by the World Bank study. For West Siberian crude, the netback value will increase by nearly $2.00 per barrel by going south to Asia. For a producer in western Kazakhstan, the netback value will increase by more than $1 per barrel by going south to Asia as compared to west to the Mediterranean via the Black Sea.

Natural Gas Export

Given the plentiful natural gas supplies of Central Asia, our aim is to link a specific natural resource with the nearest viable market. This is basic for the commercial viability of any gas project. As with all projects being considered in this region, the following projects face geo-political challenges, as well as market issues.

Unocal and the Turkish company, Koc Holding A.S., are interested in bringing competitive gas supplies to the Turkey market. The proposed Eurasia Natural Gas Pipeline would transport gas from Turkmenistan directly across the Caspian Sea through Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey. Sixty percent of this proposed gas pipeline would follow the same route as the oil pipeline proposed to run from Baku to Ceyhan. Of course, the demarcation of the Caspian remains an issue.

Last October, the Central Asia Pipeline, Ltd. (CentGas) consortium, in which Unocal holds an interest, was formed to develop a gas pipeline that will link Turkmenistan's vast natural gas reserves in the Dauletabad Field with markets in Pakistan and possibly India. An independent evaluation shows that the field's resources are adequate for the project's needs, assuming production rates rising over time to 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day for 30 years or more.

In production since 1983, the Dauletabad Field's natural gas has been delivered north via Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia to markets in the Caspian and Black Sea areas. The proposed 790-mile pipeline will open up new markets for this gas, travelling from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Multan, Pakistan. A proposed extension would link with the existing Sui pipeline system, moving gas to near New Delhi, where it would connect with the existing HBJ pipeline. By serving these additional volumes, the extension would enhance the economics of the project, leading to overall reductions in delivered natural gas costs for all users and better margins. As currently planned, the CentGas pipeline would cost approximately $2 billion. A 400-mile extension into India could add $600 million to the overall project cost.

As with the proposed Central Asia Oil Pipeline, CentGas cannot begin construction until an internationally recognized Afghanistan government is in place. For the project to advance, it must have international financing, government-to-government agreements and government-to-consortium agreements.


The Central Asia and Caspian region is blessed with abundant oil and gas that can enhance the lives of the region's residents and provide energy for growth for Europe and Asia.

The impact of these resources on U.S. commercial interests and U.S. foreign policy is also significant and intertwined. Without peaceful settlement of conflicts within the region, cross-border oil and gas pipelines are not likely to be built. We urge the Administration and the Congress to give strong support to the United Nations-led peace process in Afghanistan.

U.S. assistance in developing these new economies will be crucial to business' success. We encourage strong technical assistance programs throughout the region. We also urge repeal or removal of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. This section unfairly restricts U.S. government assistance to the government of Azerbaijan and limits U.S. influence in the region.

Developing cost-effective, profitable and efficient export routes for Central Asia resources is a formidable, but not impossible, task. It has been accomplished before. A commercial corridor, a "new" Silk Road, can link the Central Asia supply with the demand -- once again making Central Asia the crossroads between Europe and Asia.

Thank you.
Jeremy Larner - On Public Health- Correspondence.

The part of it that is most fundamental to me is that we don't have & have
never had a public health infrastructure in this country, and don't have one
now. The decent & dedicated public health professionals I know are going
nuts. Never mind anthrax, we can't even get all children vaccinated for
common diseases. (In fact, Bill Clinton tried to create a federal program
that made that possible...but California somehow never managed to get into

So these guys getting appointed in DC have titles & offices but no real
organizations or funding. This makes them look stupider than they
are...they're really fall guys. In fact, the Surgeon General should be
responsible for anthrax measures, but he's a Clinton holdover, & it's too
soon for Bush to change him without seeming even more partisan than usual.
So they simply hide him, & render him even more powerless than he is
already. (In fact, the office itself has become increasingly open to
symbolic appointments, as there's less to do & less funding to do it with, &
no effective infrastructure. Bush can eventually put it up for bids, &
satisfy some group he need not give power to. ( ...reminds me of the
reasons why we never appoint an Arabic-speaking ambassador to the Saudis.
They had the last one removed, because he could speak to people in the
street...& what's worse, listen.)

Canada, for obvious reasons, spends much more on public health & has a
separate office of Preventive Medicine (where my first wife was one of the
top officers, 15 years ago). Preventive Medicine is good medicine &
extremely cost-effective... but that is not the big concern of the "big 6"
insurance companies who take 30% OFF THE TOP of the American health dollar.
Kaiser, by contrast, takes 5% for administration, and is one of the few
remaining not-for-profit HMO's...& despite the fact that it is rated as
having the best hospitals in terms of health-effectiveness in the Bay Area,
is often abused in the press...because it's the largest, & its errors the
most conspicuous & easy for papers to jump on... considering that health
coverage is one of the biggest failures in US journalism.

actually, the not-for-profits are the only ones that should be called HMO's,
the others should be called "insurance companies." this confusion is yet
another public health problem.

In addition, there has been considerable govt-tolerated fraudulence in the
constant reshuffling of health plans. Blue Cross, for example, was allowed
to sell off the whole operation while retaining an elite group of young &
healthy patients who were then insured under the name of another, yet more
profitable smaller company. The former Blue Cross execs of course rewarded
themselves with corporate bonuses...essentially, at the expense of the
health system.

I note in passing that Hillary Clinton's supposedly radical health proposal
did NOT disturb the prominence of the Big Six...one reason why it had to be
so complicated.

As in other areas, there are public needs which effect everyone in our
society but do not afford opportunity for private profit. (The
deterioration of the once-wonderful WPA-built Berkeley Rose Garden is
another example...but there are many all around us.) This is what Lincoln
(?or one of the founding brothers, as PC calls them) had in mind when he
said "the function of government is to do for the people what they can't do
for themselves." Luckily?? there are some things that can't be
privatized...(& I personally would agree that nationalization of industry is
not the alternative). Defense comes to mind. Social security, too...tho
watch out on that one! In fact, we do have a "free market society"
tempered by "socialism"...tho that word is vorboten...& increasingly, it's
socialism for the rich. When the GOP wants to eliminate "socialism," what
they have in mind is eliminating banking regulations (despite the major
scandals of the Reagan/Bush years, which dwarf anyone's personal fooling
around w/whomever...also dwarf any conceivable misdeeds in "whitewater").

Luckily, the recent Bush order to stop regulating international money
transfers had to be put on hold in order to trace the money trail of funding
terrorists. (That will lead to interesting connections, if we actually can
& do pursue it wherever it may lead...)
Another of Tim Judt's fine pieces from on-the-ground in Afghanistan.

With the Northern Alliance
by Tim Judt

When I woke up I noticed that the windows of half the building were boarded over and that the ceiling was black. In fact it looked as if there had been a fire or explosion inside. My suspicions were quickly confirmed. I was sleeping just outside the room where the first deaths of this new war had happened.

read more
This is a really fine piece about how we underestimate the impact of our media and cultural products to generate senses of shame and failure among the impoverished of the earth, leading to anti-American rage. It's beautifully written by a Turkish novelist, and worth paying attention to.

The Anger of the Damned
By Orhan Pamuk

Everyone should be aware that the longer the recent bombing lasts, and the more innocent people die in Afghanistan or any other part of the world in order to satisfy America's own people, the more it will exacerbate the artificial tension that some quarters are trying to generate between "East" and "West" or "Islam" and "Christian civilization"; and this will only serve to bolster the terrorism that military action sets out to punish.

read more
This article picks its way through a welter of issues to focus on real foreign policy gaffes and oversights that fuel anti-American resentment in the world.

America and the War
By Tony Judt

Anti-Americanism goes back a long way. It was not born of American global domination—when Edmond de Goncourt wanted to express his horror at Baron Haussmann's new Paris he observed that "it makes me think of some American Babylon of the future." That was in 1860, when the US was still at best a regional power. Much has changed since then, though America is still seen in many quarters as the embodiment of rootlessness, disruption, cosmopolitanism: modernity, in short. But if the US is to make sense of its place in the world, if the present war is to have any beneficial long-term outcome, Americans need to make a sustained effort to understand what it is that so many millions of foreigners claim to dislike and fear about their country.

read more


COMMENT | November 5, 2001

Anthrax Anxiety
by Bruce Shapiro

Jitters are not among the clinical symptoms of anthrax. The spore-borne illness that has so far killed tabloid photo editor Robert Stevens and contaminated dozens of people in media and government is usually treatable with antibiotics and perhaps a follow-up vaccine. But the arrival of those spores threatens to unbalance an already anxious nation. As I write, the story changes hourly. On Tuesday, the anthrax is described as potent--laboratory-grade; on Wednesday it's declared "naturally occurring." Spores are reported in Congressional ventilation ducts; then the report is declared false. The House closes for a five-day sweep, while Tom Daschle--thirty-one of whose staff members are found to have spores in their nasal passages--says the Senate will remain open. Governor Pataki's New York City office tests positive for spores; an infant who visited ABC News contracted the infection. The scale is nothing like the September 11 attacks; but just as the box-cutters made it clear that mass destruction requires neither nuclear weapons nor even machine guns, so the spread of anthrax through envelopes turns upside down James Bond images of nerve gas and death rays.
The people sending those envelopes know what they're doing: infecting first the media, the retinal nerve of democratic perception, before turning to the pols. A nervous press means a nervous public. What is striking about the initial round of white-powder letters is the sophisticated consideration of media dynamics and demographics: the ultratabloid Sun, the ultrarespectable New York Times; old-media Tom Brokaw, dot-com Microsoft. (Some militia-watchers theorize that the anthrax is coming from McVeigh type scaremongers piggybacking the current crisis. But the circumstantial evidence--particularly the fact that one of the first letters went to the Times's Middle East and terrorism specialist, Judith Miller--does suggest Al Qaeda adherents, as does the apparent purity of the strain.)

A few things about the anthrax scare need to be said. First, at its current scale--with doctors nationwide now on the lookout for anthrax symptoms--it is indeed a scare rather than a medical nightmare. Second, should the number of cases or the distribution of spores grow more widespread, the greatest danger comes not from the easily treatable disease but from the long degradation of the nation's public-health infrastructure. For the past twenty years, Republicans and Democrats alike have regarded public health, and any excess capacity in the healthcare system, as an insult to the free market. In large cities, public hospitals have been closed and privatized and community clinics converted to bottom-line-driven HMOs. Understaffed and underfunded city and state health departments track illness with out-of-date computer software; 10 percent of local health departments don't even have e-mail. Last year, the federal government spent less than $50 million on improving state and local public health infrastructure--a piddling amount when spread among fifty states.

It's a problem not just of funding but of management philosophy--one that has left the public less protected from epidemics and terrorism than a decade ago. "One of the responses to financial pressures has been to cut out excess capacity," Tara O'Toole, MD, of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies testified in July before the Senate's internal security subcommittee. "The entire hospital in virtually every town in this country, whether it's the Johns Hopkins Medical Center or a small rural hospital, is basically now functioning on 'just in time' models. The number of nurses that are going to be working at Hopkins tomorrow is based upon the number of patients in the hospital today, likewise for supplies, for antibiotics, for what have you.... Few, if any, hospitals in America today could handle a hundred patients suddenly demanding care." Simply put, today's public health system has no surge capacity. After a devastating fire in a high-rise building, the Maryland secretary of health conducted a study of hospitals' preparation for a large number of people needing ventilators, a likely scenario in a biological attack. Though Maryland is home to a major city, sprawling suburbs and two major medical centers, officials found only about 100 ventilators statewide.

The political culture has left public health so far behind that official Washington seems to have taken little notice of the near-complete absence of the nation's top medical officials from the media as the anthrax cases spread. Remember Surgeon General David Satcher? A quick Nexis search reveals only two mentions of Satcher in the scare's first five days. Remember the Centers for Disease Control? Doctors nationwide are complaining that the CDC and its director, Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, are offering only scant information about the detection and treatment protocols for anthrax. For days, the public's only information came from Attorney General John Ashcroft and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson--and from Thompson it was often misinformation that infuriated medical professionals. The Bush Administration seems to be applying the same extreme strictures on medical information that it's enforcing at the Pentagon. Researcers say off the record that everyone at CDC is terrified of talking. Johns Hopkins's Tara O'Toole puts it this way: "It is normal in a criminal investigation to withhold information. But this is not a normal situation. The public is panicking. People need information desperately. If there is anything we have learned from past disasters, it is that people do better with more information, even if it is disturbing information."

Biological warfare is not a new threat here. As historian Elizabeth Fenn recounts in her new book Pox Americana, George Washington worried that the British would wound his soldiers with arrowheads dipped in smallpox-infected sores, and in 1763 British General Jeffery Amherst approved distribution of smallpox-infected blankets to Indians. Jane's Intelligence Review reports 110 alleged cases of biological agents in warfare in this century. What makes today's anthrax cases distinctly threatening is not the sadism and criminality of the attacks. It is the speed with which panic can spread through a mass medium that is itself the center of attack--amid a political culture that for twenty years has refused to regard public health as a bottom-line indicator of national security.

Nuclear Power & Terrorism
by Matt Bivens

Go to the website of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission ( www.nrc.gov), and you'll find an apology for how thin the information is there. On October 11 the website was closed; now bits and pieces are slowly re-emerging. Susan Gagner, an NRC press spokeswoman, says the site is being "scrubbed" of information that might be useful to terrorists. She said the NRC had been asked to take that action by "another government agency," but would not say which one. Another NRC spokesman told Reuters they were removing, for example, latitude and longitude coordinates of nuclear reactors, plant schematics and so on. Note that a full monthafter September 11, the NRC had to be toldto do this by someone else!

Well, better late than never. As The Nation has reported, the terrorists who in 1993 bombed the World Trade Center trained beforehand at a remote site not thirty miles from Three Mile Island -- and afterward threatened to send 150 suicide bombers into America's nuclear plants. [See "Nuclear Safety," September 16]. Given that Al Qaeda terrorists active in America have been thinking about nuclear terrorism for eight years now, it seems likely that much of the NRC's now-secret information--assuming it was of interest and is not still obtainable on any AAA road map--was downloaded long ago.

In any case, one needs minimal inspiration from the NRC website to brainstorm half-a-dozen ways a handful of motivated individuals could turn a nuclear power plant into an American Chernobyl. (Or forty-four Chernobyls. That's the sort of deadly radiation cloud New Scientist magazine predicts England and Ireland would see if a commercial jetliner plowed into the spent fuel pool of Britain's Sellafield plant. British Nuclear Fuels Ltd., Sellafield's parent company, called the report "irresponsible.")

The 1986 fire at Chernobyl threw radiation across Ukraine, Belarus and much of Europe. The death-and-injury toll is a matter of debate; of 300 volunteer firefighters who immediately showed up to battle the six-day blaze, thirty-one were dead within the week. As the fire burned on, thousands more volunteers arrived, but estimates vary as to how many died how rapidly. The Ukrainian government this year estimated that more than 4,000 of those volunteer firefighters have since died a young death, and that more than 70,000 Ukrainians have been "disabled" by radiation sicknesses. The radiation has also created national sacrifice areas in Ukraine and Belarus, where hundreds of thousands deserted their homes in minutes, many of them never to return. Kiev has declared an area the size of the Netherlands unsuitable for agriculture; in neighboring Belarus, nearly a quarter of all farmland is contaminated, and the Health Ministry recorded a 161 percent increase in birth defects in babies born between 1986 and 1993. The World Health Organization says thousands of children have contracted or will contract thyroid cancer over the next decades, an ailment treatable with medication if caught early enough.

US government action is being taken to defend some of America's 104 nuclear power plants from such a fate. National Guardsmen have been called out to patrol some reactors, and others along the Great Lakes are being watched by the Coast Guard. But the NRC remains tight-lipped and looks like a spectator--in public never moving from its initial September 11 "recommendation" that commercial nuclear plants adopt high-level security--while state governors, national security officials and Congressional critics drive the action.

The NRC could demand or order instead of just recommending. But it has not done so--even when its recommendation looks to have been ignored. For example, it took well over a month after the World Trade Center fell--and weeks of complaints by citizens, media and politicians--before the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant could be bothered to post a guard and a gate at the road leading into its complex. Maine Yankee is being "decommissioned," but it's still home to an enormous pool of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel. A spokesman for Maine Yankee, Eric House, said that despite the complaints that the place looked like a ghost town, security has been there all along--just "focused" on the metal warehouse over the spent fuel pool. Some locals say they've heard there are armed men inside that building, but House would not comment on that. So there's no way for the public to know whether those armed men have increased in number since September 11; or whether they could handle five or ten or twenty armed kamikaze terrorists; or what they could do to prevent, say, a truck bomb from trundling through the open gate, parking next to the pool house and then making most of Maine uninhabitable after it blows up.

NRC officials counter that there has been no "specific or credible" threat to Maine Yankee, or to any other American nuclear plant. Apparently they were waiting for delivery of an Osama-gram with a big hissing fuse attached. And apparently they finally received something like that on Wednesday, when the NRC announced that a "credible" threat had been made "very specifically" against Three Mile Island. (So just as someone called them to tell them to clean up their website, someone--the CIA? the terrorists?--called them to suggest they look to Three Mile Island.) No details were offered, but some Pennsylvania airports were closed for several hours. By Thursday, the threat was "no longer credible."

There is nothing new in this lackadaisical approach to nuclear plant security. Daniel Hirsch of the Committee to Bridge the Gap--the gap in question being that between the public and the jargon-filled world of nuclear power--has recounted how he and others spent a dismaying fifteen years trying to get the NRC to insist on forcing the power plants it licenses simply to set up barriers to potential truck bombs. In 1982, after a suicide bomber killed 241 US Marines stationed in Lebanon, the NRC began to hear Hirsch's pleas, and to re-examine its 1970s-era security regulations for nuclear facilities. Those rules required that reactors be prepared for the following worst-case scenario: three lightly armed attackers moving together on foot, assisted by a fourth attacker inside the plant's work force. No cars, no planes, no grenades, no truck bombs, no gases, no multiple teams.

According to a paper Hirsch wrote in the mid-1980s, NRC safeguards staff saw post-Lebanon truck bombs as a serious danger, and in 1984 publicized their intent to put out new rules. The NRC contracted with the Sandia National Laboratories to study the truck-bomb threat--and Sandia concluded that it was worse than all had feared. A reasonable-sized charge set back beyond even the protected area for most plants could cause "unacceptable damage." (In other words, it could rip things apart sufficiently to cause reactor safety systems to fail, radiological releases, etc.--the sort of thing that a 1982 US Congressional Committee study had just concluded might bring thousands of fatalities, millions of poisonings and billions of dollars in damages.)

Oddly, Hirsch writes, two weeks after they got that terrifying Sandia research back, the NRC postponed all action on a new truck-bomb-defense ruling--"pending the results of research." If it's more dangerous than ever, why postpone? Hirsch writes that the NRC was taken aback at the cost to the industry of real security and plunged into a paralyzing internal debate. "As long as the proposed NRC truck-bomb rule involved only a few extra concrete barricades on-site, the cost to the licensees [nuclear power plants] would have been minimal and the political cost to the NRC acceptable," he wrote. "When research revealed that the problem was considerably more serious than previously thought and the solution therefore more expensive, the regulatory agency apparently felt it could not afford to require action proportionate to the problem." Other government agencies were all putting in truck-bomb-defense policies (at taxpayer expense); the NRC contented itself with studying truck-bomb-defense policies rather than requiring them.

In 1993, nine years later, after talk of new rules had begun, a deranged man drove his station wagon through the gates of Three Mile Island, crashing it into the turbine building and disappearing for four hours. Weeks later, terrorists tied to Al Qaeda bombed the World Trade Center, and afterward wrote to the New York Times that they would send 150 suicide bombers against US nuclear targets.

Suddenly Hirsch and others who had written about security weaknesses at nuclear plants--among them Paul Leventhal of the Nuclear Control Institute and Bennett Ramberg, author of Nuclear Power Plants as Weapons for the Enemy: An Unrecognized Military Peril--found their truck-bomb fears shared by Congress. Under pressure, the NRC and the industry built new truck-bomb defenses.

But other concerns of Leventhal, Ramberg and Hirsch--for example, the danger of terrorists infiltrating a nuclear plant's work force -- were less satisfactorily handled. All three participated in a post-September 11 press conference in Washington to advocate, among other things, US military troops and antiaircraft weaponry posted at every nuclear facility. They also called for plant operators to aggressively recheck employee backgrounds, and for a government moratorium on plans to ship spent nuclear fuel to a central depository tentatively planned for Yucca Mountain, Nevada--a plan critics deride as "mobile Chernobyl."

Is that really what it takes to protect nuclear plants? If so, then some see in this a logical conclusion, and new currency for an old argument: that nuclear power is incompatible with democratic freedoms. If one has to scrub the websites, polygraph the employees, call out the guard and shoot down civilian aircraft that stray too close--does that sound like the USA, or the USSR?

And if it sounds too Soviet, then isn't it more sensible to just shut the nuclear plants down?

The Belgian government thinks so, and promises a bill by December 2002 to phase out its seven nuclear power reactors. Germany has already inked such a deal, and plans to replace the lost energy capacity with offshore windmill parks. It's easier than one might think. In America, despite all of the billions invested in it, nuclear power provides a mere fifth of the nation's electricity--far less than what five leading national laboratories say could be saved almost immediately with a national energy efficiency program, one that could unfold with most citizens never even noticing.

Given this logic, it's not hard to see why the industry would be in a state of denial about security: The very discussion is a lethal Pandora's box. Perhaps this is why a full month after September 11 the gates to Maine Yankee lay open, the NRC website was still packed with design schemata, and it was up to governors, not slow-moving NRC officials, to call out the guard. A clear-eyed discussion of how to defend these plants just might conclude that they are indefensible

Letter From Ground Zero
by Jonathan Schell

The New Brink

As the conflict that began on September 11 heads into its sixth week, two clouds of danger hang over its two battlefields, the United States and Afghanistan. In the United States the danger is bioterrorism, represented by the attacks on the news media and the federal government by means of anthrax sent in the mail. In Afghanistan it is starvation, which, according to the United Nations and private relief agencies, could claim hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of lives if the flow of international aid, now disrupted both by the war and by interference from the Taliban regime, is not dispatched into the country before the onset of winter. The two dangers exhibit striking similarities. Both raise the stakes of the conflict by an order of magnitude. Both menace civilian populations, not armed forces. Both can, at their worst, cause casualties on a mass scale, yet the extent to which this will occur in either case cannot, for now, be known.

Paradoxically, nothing would do more for the peace of mind of Americans than to discover that an American--some unabomber or right-wing lunatic--was responsible for the anthrax attacks. If that were the case, then the possibility of linkage between those attacks and the war in Afghanistan would disappear, and the reciprocal escalation on the two fronts that is probably the greatest danger the world now faces might be avoided. Hope for such a discovery received a blow, however, when the government, after a two-week delay, disclosed the contents of three of the anthrax-laden letters. All three said, "Death to America. Death to Israel. Allah is great." It didn't sound like the Montana militia.

The precise character of the anthrax was also left vague. When anthrax was found in the office of Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, House minority leader Richard Gephardt declared it to be "weapons-grade," but an unnamed bioterrorism official told the Washington Post that the FBI did not yet know whether or not this was true, and the New York Times approvingly noted in an editorial that "loose talk" that the material "was weapons-grade has been disavowed by leading senators." This week Gephardt again said that the anthrax was weapons-grade.

The questions that lay behind these conflicting statements were crucial, because they shed light on both the extent of danger and its origin. At issue was whether the United States was in danger of attack by a weapon of mass destruction. If the anthrax has been weaponized, it is suitable for mass attacks and is more likely to have been produced by a technically sophisticated organization, most likely a state. If a state is involved, it might also resort to other weapons of mass destruction, including contagious diseases, such as smallpox, or nuclear weapons. The state most often mentioned is of course Iraq, which is known to have produced anthrax, and very likely still does. However, the possible involvement of Iraq is another matter on which the Administration has given conflicting signals. To determine whether anthrax has been weaponized, three questions must be answered. First, have the spores been "milled" to a small size--"aerosolized"--so they can float in the air, thereby infecting many people; second, have they been selected for virulence; third, have they been engineered to produce immunity to antibiotics? So far, only the third question has been answered--in the negative. Whether the other two go unanswered because the government does not yet know the answers or, as in the case of the letters, has been unwilling to release them, is also unknown.

The dimensions of the threat of starvation in Afghanistan, though also hard to estimate, are clearer than the dangers from anthrax. As mentioned in this column last week, the call by UN Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson for a pause in the bombing so that aid could be increased--a call joined almost immediately by major private relief organizations--went almost entirely unreported in the United States. In England, by contrast, the call was widely reported and a lively debate on the issue is under way. Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, responded that the relief organizations were being "emotional" and that sufficient aid was getting through. The relief organizations held their ground. In testimony solicited by Parliament, Justin Forsyth, Oxfam's policy director, said, "We were not being emotional. We were being practical. There is not enough food flowing in world food programs." The Observer argued in an editorial that the best way to deal with the crisis was to overthrow the Taliban. But Forsyth held that the fall of the Taliban, by creating an "even more chaotic" situation, might worsen the outlook for aid. No comparable hearings--or audible discussion of any kind--of Robinson's call or of the threatened catastrophe occurred here.

If in the weeks ahead the world is luckier than it has been since September 11, neither peril of mass destruction will materialize. The anthrax attacks will trail off, followed by nothing worse. The aid in Afghanistan will somehow get through. However, it is only prudent to ask ourselves now, before any of these things happen, what should be done if the world is not so lucky. If the two disasters occur, they will be linked--perhaps in fact, certainly in people's minds on either side of the conflict. What will America's foes do if Afghans starve by the hundreds of thousands and the US military campaign is held, rightly or wrongly, to be responsible? The terrorists may of course strike at the United States again without any further provocation. But an atmosphere of rage in the Islamic world can only make escalation more likely. What will Americans do if a biological attack then kills equal numbers in this country? On the margins of debate, there have already been discussions of using nuclear weapons--most recently by Representative Peter King, who said that if the only way to stop the use of chemical weapons is nuclear weapons, "obviously we have to use them."

During the cold war, governments and peoples learned that, in our age of weapons of mass destruction, the logic of retaliation led only to annihilation--to "mutual assured destruction." We have arrived at the verge of a new permutation of that outcome--a new brink. We need to back off. A good place to begin would be a full debate in the United States on the consequences of our military actions for the hungry people of Afghanistan, leading to a policy that, in our own interest as well as theirs, places their survival at the center of our concern

Taliban agreed Bin Laden handover in 1998

Brian Whitaker
Monday November 5, 2001
The Guardian

The Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar agreed three years ago to hand over Osama bin Laden, but changed his mind after US cruise missile attacks, the former head of Saudi Arabian intelligence said yesterday.
The claim, by Prince Turki al-Faisal, is likely to raise questions about whether more efforts could have been made to negotiate Bin Laden's extradition before launching the latest bombing campaign.

In an interview with the Jeddah-based Arab News and Saudi-owned MBC television, Prince Turki described two secret visits he made to Kandahar, the first in June 1998.

"King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah sent me to meet Mullah Omar to persuade him to hand Bin Laden over to the kingdom," the prince said.

"Mullah Omar asked me to inform the king and the crown prince that he wanted to set up a joint committee to arrange procedures for the handover."

One possible reason for the Taliban's willingness to surrender Bin Laden at the time was that they were not keen to have him in the first place.

"When they occupied the eastern city of Jalalabad in 1996, Bin Laden was there, being sheltered by Sheikh Yunus Khales, a former mojahedin leader," the prince explained.

After taking over the area, the Taliban promised to control Bin Laden but failed to do so. In August 1998 Bin Laden's supporters bombed the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, killing hundreds of people. Shortly afterwards, the US launched reprisal attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan which seem to have scuppered the handover plans.

Prince Turki returned to Kandahar the following September, but said in his interview: "I wish I had not gone."

Mullah Omar reversed his decision and was abusive about Saudi Arabia, he said. "I had no choice but to break off negotiations."

Prince Turki, who was relieved of his intelligence post on August 31, had been closely involved with Afghan affairs since the 1979 Soviet invasion.

There were suggestions at the time of his removal that the US was unhappy about his relations with the Taliban and his failure to secure Bin Laden's extradition.


This makes a whole lot more sense. This first one didn't pass the smell test, at least not yet.
This makes a whole lot more sense. This first one didn't pass the smell test, at least not yet. I have been singled out like this too and the people
>Bangor Daily News
>November 3, 2001
>Green Party activist denied Chicago flight

>BANGOR - Green Party activist Nancy Oden was grounded at Bangor
>International Airport on Thursday after reportedly becoming uncooperative
>when she was targeted for additional screening.
>Oden, who said she believed she was singled out for extra scrutiny because
>of her activist past and public opposition to the current war effort, was on
>her way to Chicago to attend a Green Party USA meeting when airline
>personnel told her that she had been selected to undergo added
>security screening before boarding.
>"I was treated if I were guilty just because I'm a dissident and I speak
>out," Oden, a middle-aged woman who sits on the party's national
>coordinating committee, said from her Jonesboro home after she had abandoned
>her travel plans. "They're looking at me like I'm a terrorist and I'm just a
>peaceful person trying to go to a meeting in Chicago."
>Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, security has been tightened at all the
>nation's airports - including BIA, where armed National Guardsmen monitor
>the screening area and passenger lists are checked against the FBI's
>terrorist watch list. Officials at BIA and American Eagle Airlines have a
>much different account of Oden's afternoon run-in with the added security.
>"She was uncooperative during the screening process," said American Eagle
>spokesman Kurt Iverson, who added that Oden reportedly would
>not stand still when security staff tried to wave a metal-detecting wand
>over her. "Obviously if they can't submit to screening, [Federal Aviation
>Administration] regulations require that they not be allowed to board the
>Oden said that while she asked security staff not to touch her with the
>wand, she did allow them to complete their search of both her person and her
>baggage. Oden said that she did pull away from a National Guardsman when he
>grabbed her left arm and asked her if she "knew what happened on September
>11," she said.
>While acknowledging that Oden was singled out for added extensive screening,
>authorities said it was more likely due to the manner in which she purchased
>her ticket than for her activist past.
>Under newly adopted FAA regulations, more passengers - either randomly or
>based on a computerized profile - are being targeted for more intense
>screening during the boarding process.
>While industry officials were unwilling to release the criteria under which
>they would profile a passenger, they said the criteria did not include
>federally protected characteristics such as race, religion, age or sex.
>Without providing details, interim airport director Rebecca Hupp said that
>the FAA guidelines "have more to do with the ticket than the person." For
>instance, one airline official said, a passenger who pays cash for a ticket
>the day of the flight would likely undergo added scrutiny.
>Oden bought her nonrefundable ticket online, she said. While an FBI
>spokeswoman would neither confirm nor deny the presence of any
>name on the terrorist watch list - another trigger for added security
>response - one law enforcement source said it was "extremely unlikely" Oden
>was on the list of potential terrorists because her name is unknown to the
>After the incident, Oden was told she could not take her scheduled flight to
>Chicago, and that she could not travel on any other airline at the airport
>that day.
>"If I had done something wrong, they should have arrested me instead of
>denying me my right to travel," an upset Oden said Friday. "We're losing
>more of our rights and people don't realize it."

Paul G. Hawken