Monday, February 27, 2006

Words of Power #13: What You Need To Know About The Port Security Scandal

NOTE: Words of Power is published on a bi-weekly basis, and alternates with the GS(3) Intelligence Briefing, also posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. "Words of Power" commentary will explore a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit. The GS(3) Intel Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue will provide insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters, and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. For more information, go to

Words of Power #13: The Port Security Scandal

Thomas Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey who led the bipartisan probe of the Sept. 11 attacks, said the deal was a big mistake because of past connections between the 2001 hijackers and the UAE.
"It shouldn't have happened, it never should have happened," Kean said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
The quicker the Bush administration can get out of the deal, the better, he said. "There's no question that two of the 9/11 hijackers came from there and money was laundered through there," Kean said…
The former head of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit joined in the criticism.
"The fact that you are putting a company in place that could already be infiltrated by al-Qaida is a silly thing to do," said Mike Scheuer, who headed the CIA unit until 1999. Donna De La Cruz, Adviser Says White House Set on Ports Deal, 2-24-06, 2/24/06

The founder and president of the Washington-based Centre for Security Policy (CSP), a small think tank funded mainly by U.S. defence contractors...Frank J. Gaffney was among the first to seize on the government's approval of a Dubai company to manage terminals at six major U.S. ports and helped blow it up into a major embarrassment to Pres. George W. Bush. Indeed, it was Gaffney who wrote the first nationally syndicated column about the approval, which, if sustained, would turn over the management of terminals in the ports of New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Miami, Baltimore, and New Orleans to Dubai Ports World (DPW), a government-owned company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
'How would you feel if, in the aftermath of 9/11, the U.S. government had decided to contract out airport security to the where most of the operational planning and financing of the attacks occurred?' he asked in his weekly column in the right-wing Washington Times Feb. 14.
'It seems a safe bet that you, like most Americans, would think it a lunatic idea, one that would clear the way for still more terror in this country,' he argued, concluding that, 'If the President will not, Congress must ensure that the United Arab Emirates is not entrusted with the operation of any American ports." Jim Lobe, Neo-Con Superhawk Earns His Wings on Port Flap, Inter Press Service, 2/24/06

Here, in approximately 2100 words, is everything you need to know (although you probably don’t want to) about the US port security scandal.

The Case Against The UAE Port Deal In Particular
In early 1999, the CIA found Bin Laden. He was at a hunting camp in the Afghan desert outside of Kandahar. But no U.S. missiles were launched. Why? Bin Laden was hanging out with United Arab Emirates (UAE) royalty, and the UAE is allegedly one of our staunchest allies in the “Global War on Terror” (GWOT).
(Of course, if they are staunch allies, why didn’t they tell us that Bin Laden, who had issued a 1998 fatwah calling for the murder of U.S. citizens anywhere, anytime, was at that location? Then they could have slipped away in their private jets.)
But that's not the only troubling evidence of the UAE’s conflicted nature.
After U.A.E. officials were informed of the CIA's intelligence, the camp was hurriedly dismantled and abandoned, and the source inside of Bin Laden’s Taliban security detail, who had informed the CIA of his whereabouts, was re-assigned.
This background is available to anyone who gives a damn. It is on-line and can be downloaded for free. Just turn to Staff Statement No. 6: The Military in the 9/11 Commission Report.
The UAE is the not only Middle Eastern “GWOT” ally that exhibits a national multiple personality disorder. Indeed, its psychological problems pale in comparison to those of Saudi Arabia (the Saudis are purveyors of Wahhabism) and Pakistan (the Pakistanis are purveyors of nuclear weapons technology, and they still harbor Bin Laden).
The reason a harsh spotlight is on the UAE at this moment is because the House of Bush is determined to give them control over U.S. ports.
“OK, that was in 1999,” you might remark, “a lot has happened since 9/11, maybe it is a different situation now with the UAE.” Oh yes, the situation is different, it is much worse.
Writing for Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, Niles Lathem reports that in early February, West Point’s Center for Combating Terrorism released a declassified June 2002 document found in “a batch of internal al Qaeda communications” seized by U.S. forces. Addressed to the government of the UAE, it demanded the release of “mujahedeen detainees” and included a warning:
"You are well aware that we have infiltrated your security, censorship and monetary agencies, along with other agencies that should not be mentioned…Therefore, we warn of the continuation of practicing…policies which do not serve your interest and will only cost you many problems that will place you in an embarrassing state before your citizens…Your homeland is exposed to us. There are many vital interests that will hurt you if we decided to harm them." Niles Lathem, Qaeda Claim: We 'Infiltrated' UAE Gov't, New York Post
And as the intrepid Robert Parry ( reports, the port of Dubai has an ignoble reputation as a smuggling center for arms traffickers, drug dealers, and terrorists:
“Press accounts have noted that the UAE’s port of Dubai served as the main transshipment point for Pakistani nuclear engineer Abdul Q. Khan’s illicit transfers of materiel for building atomic bombs as well as the location of the money-laundering operations used by the Sept. 11 hijackers, two of whom came from the UAE. But the year-old mystery of the truck-bomb assassination of Hariri also has wound its way through the UAE’s port facilities. United Nations investigators tracked the assassins’ white Mitsubishi Canter Van from Japan, where it had been stolen, to the UAE, according to a Dec. 10, 2005, U.N. report.
“At that time, UAE officials had been unable to track what happened to the van after its arrival in Dubai. Presumably the van was loaded onto another freighter and shipped by sea through the Suez Canal to Lebanon, but the trail had gone cold in the UAE.” Robert Parry, UAE, Port Security & the Hariri Hit, 2-22-06

The Case Against Privatization In General

There is an even bigger issue than turning over responsibility for U.S. port security to a corporation based in an Arab country with a conflicted nature in regard to Middle Eastern terrorism: the issue of privatization itself
As both David Sirota and John Nichol remark, no corporation, whether U.S.-owned or foreign-owned, should be responsible for the security of U.S. ports.
“There is no better proof that our government takes its orders from corporate interests than these kinds of moves. That's what this UAE deal is all about - the mixture of the right-wing's goal of privatizing all government services (even post 9/11 port security!) with the political Establishment's desire to make sure Tom-Friedman-style 'free' trade orthodoxy supersedes everything. This is where the culture of corruption meets national security policy - and, more specifically, where the unbridled corruption of on-the-take politicians are weakening America's security. The fact that no politicians and almost no media wants to even explore this simple fact is telling. Here we have a major US security scandal with the same country we are simultaneously negotiating a free trade pact with, and no one in Washington is saying a thing. The silence tells you all you need to know about a political/media establishment that is so totally owned by Big Money interests they won't even talk about what's potentially at the heart of a burgeoning national security scandal.” David Sirota, The Dirty Little Secret behind the UAE Port Security Scandal, Working for Change, 2-22-06
“Ports are essential pieces of the infrastructure of the United States, and they are best run by public authorities that are accountable to elected officials and the people those officials represent. While traditional port authorities still exist, they are increasing marginalized as privatization schemes have allowed corporations -- often with tough anti-union attitudes and even tougher bottom lines -- to take charge of more and more of the basic operations at the nation's ports.
In the era when the federal government sees 'homeland security' as a slogan rather than a responsibility, allowing the nation's working waterfronts to be run by private firms just doesn't work. It is no secret that federal authorities have failed to mandate, let alone implement, basic port security measures. But this is not merely a federal failure; it is, as well, a private-sector failure. The private firms that control so many of the nation's ports have not begun to set up a solid system for waterfront security in the more than four years since the September 11, 2001 attacks. And shifting control of the ports of New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia -- along with control over the movement of military equipment on behalf of the U.S. Army through the ports at Beaumont and Corpus Christi -- from a British firm, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., to Dubai Ports World, is not going to improve the situation." John Nichols, Corporate Control of Ports Is the Problem, The Nation

The Case Against the Bush-Cheney Regime In Toto
The White House now insists that George W. Bush didn’t know about the deal before it went through, and yet, on Air Force One, shortly after the story broke, Bush himself insisted that he would issue a veto (his first one) against any congressional legislation that overturned the deal.
Perhaps you see the Bush-Cheney people as incompetent or ignorant of the world. Perhaps you see them as something more sinister. Either way, their record is horrendous. Either way, they do not deserve to be entrusted with such decisions.
They blew off the Hart-Rudman commission’s final report prior to 9/11, and fought the creation of the Homeland Security Department (DHS) after 9/11, until they had to accept it because of the political fallout. Once the DHS was established, they subverted its mission with a Crayola crayon “Terror Alert” scheme manipulated for partisan political purposes.
They squandered the post-9/11 good will of the international community just as frivolously as they squandered the U.S. budget surplus.
They resisted the creation of a 9/11 Commission until they had to accept it because of the political fallout, and then they resisted its investigation, applied pressure to mitigate its findings, and have largely ignored its recommendations, especially those related to port security and other extremely vulnerable aspects of critical US infrastructure.
They destroyed the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in part through privatization, and lost New Orleans and much of the Gulf coast to Katrina.
Even William F. Buckley and Francis Fukuyama, two intellectual giants of the conservative movement, have washed their hands of Bush-Cheney, at least in regard to the war in Iraq. On 2-24-06, in The National Review, Buckley wrote: “One can’t doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed…” On 2-19-06, in The New York Times Magazine, Fukuyama wrote: “The so-called Bush Doctrine that set the framework for the administration’s first term is now in shambles.”
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are not the only governments to have conflicted natures in regard to Middle Eastern terrorism. Two out of the last three U.S. Presidents had, at one time or another, intimate business relationships with the Bin Laden family (and neither of them is named Clinton).
In the 1990s, the authors of the PNAC document wistfully described how it would take “a second Pearl Harbor” to advance their military adventure in the Middle East and Central Asia. On 9/11, they got what they wished for. What impact would a third Pearl Harbor have on the US economically and politically?
The UAE takeover of U.S. ports was due to occur in March, i.e., eight months prior to a mid-term election that could conceivably shift control of one or both congressional bodies, enabling the political opposition to jump-start oversight, initiate investigations, and wield subpoenas.
Well, after he retired from the U.S. Army, General Tommy Franks, Bush’s commander in the Afghan war, told Cigar Aficionado that if there were another 9/11 Bush would declare martial law.
I do not have any faith in the U.S. Senate as it is currently constituted. It has largely abdicated its constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight. I would have more faith in the U.S. judiciary if not for the ascension of Roberts and Alito, with their ridiculous theory of the “unitary executive." This unfortunate development indicates that this Supreme Court will likely overturn any attempt to second-guess the actions of the Bush-Cheney regime.
But maybe the harsh spotlight shed on this scandal has exposed the worst among us and alerted the best among us.
Perhaps it is not too late.

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc.
You can reach Richard Power via e-mail:
For more information, go to

Sunday, February 19, 2006

GS(3) Intelligence Briefing (2-20-06)

NOTE: GS(3) Intelligence Briefing is posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. The Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue provides insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. “Words of Power" commentary is also posted on a bi-weekly basis. This commentary explores a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit.

In a tragically poetical twist, the swans have brought bird flu to Western Europe. The deadly strain has now been detected in Italy, Greece, France and Germany. Ominously, India, Egypt and Nigeria have also detected it. According to Dr. David Nabarro, the UN’s “Bird Flu” expert, we are only two mutations away from a pandemic (Daily Times of Pakistan, 2-12-06) and the spread of infection into Africa and Europe increases the likelihood of such a pandemic (Scotsman, 2-18-06). But although the temptation to turn your attention to Europe is powerful, remember to follow what is going on in Indonesia closely. According to the Indonesian Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono, “the amount of time between contracting the virus and death is becoming shorter, raising the possibility the virus is becoming more virulent" (Jakarta Post, 2-16-06). Perhaps the greatest concern, at least for the next two weeks, is in countries such as Rumania, Nigeria and India, where populations are living in close proximity to livestock, with poor sanitation and limited resources for early detection of outbreaks. There are serious crisis management issues that your organization should have already dealt with, including the imposition of travel protocols (e.g., do you have processes to authorize and monitor travel?), the development of alternatives to business travel (e.g., video conferences, placeware, etc.), the roll-out of awareness and education programs for the workforce (e.g., provide them with updates and a checklist that empowers them, rather than leaving them in fear and ignorance), the expansion of telecommuting programs, the testing of contingency plans for the conduct of business with a significantly reduced workforce, preparations for possible quarantines, etc. These recommendations should be acted upon not only by organizations with interests and operations in Southeast Asia, Africa or Eastern Europe, but throughout Europe and the Americas as well.
This issue of the GS(3) Intelligence Briefing epitomizes what I call the rapidly evolving 21st Century Security Crisis. In “Europe, Middle East & Africa,” I have included five news items and opinion pieces on the new “Great Game” and its potential to mutate into WWIII. In “Asia Pacific,” you will find information on latest developments in the global spread of “Bird Flu” and its potential to evolve into a pandemic. In the “Global” section, I have cited several important articles on the acceleration and impact of Global Warming. In “Americas,” I have posted more shocking evidence of why the Bush-Cheney regime is utterly incapable of leading the world community in overcoming these challenges. In “Cyberspace,” you will find some disturbing indications that blog creation, because of its increasing role as an alternative source of news, commentary, and investigative reporting, is being targeted in the struggle for control over the Internet and the imposition of limitations on the freedom of cyber speech – all under the guise of fighting the “war on terrorism.”
Remember, is also a searchable database. It is meant to accelerate, intensify and enrich your online research.

Europe, Middle East & Africa

The attempt by the country of 9 million people to become the world's first practically oil-free economy is being planned by a committee of industrialists, academics, farmers, carmakers, civil servants and others, who will report to parliament in several months. The intention, the Swedish government said yesterday, is to replace all fossil fuels with renewables before climate change destroys economies and growing oil scarcity leads to huge new price rises. Sweden has a decent head start—about 26 percent of its energy already comes from renewable resources (the EU average is 6 percent)—and plans to meet its goal by using biofuels, along with wave and wind power, to generate the needed electricity, rather than relying on new nuclear plants, which already supply half of the country's electricity. The Volvos, meanwhile, will all run on hydrogen

Sweden to Go Oil-Free, Mother Jones, February, 2006

Syria has switched all of the state's foreign currency transactions to euros from dollars amid a political confrontation with the United States, the head of state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria said on Monday.
"This is a precaution. We are talking about billions of dollars," Duraid Durgham told Reuters…"It looks like a kind of pre-emptive action aimed at making their foreign assets safer, preventing them from getting frozen in case of any conflict," said a Middle East economist who requested anonymity.
Syria switches to euro amid confrontation with US, Reuters, 2-13-06

China is hastening to complete a deal worth as much as $100 billion that would allow a Chinese state-owned energy firm to take a leading role in developing a vast oil field in Iran, complicating the Bush administration's efforts to isolate the Middle Eastern nation and roll back its nuclear development plans, according to published reports. The completion of the agreement would advance China's global quest for new stocks of energy. It could also undermine U.S. and European initiatives to halt Tehran's nuclear plans, muddling Beijing's relations with outside powers…China's voracious appetite for energy is increasingly guiding its foreign policy. China has used the threat of a Security Council veto to limit sanctions against Sudan, the African nation in which China's largest energy firm, China National Petroleum Corp., is the largest investor in a government-led oil consortium. China is the largest buyer of Sudan's oil, as well as the largest supplier of arms to its ruling regime. The Sudanese government has been accused of massacring villagers to clear land for further energy development and of committing genocide in its efforts to crush separatist rebels in the western region of Darfur. China's pursuit of a completed energy deal with Iran comes as Tehran has announced the resumption of its uranium enrichment program.
Peter S. Goodman, China Rushes to Complete $100B Deal With Iran, Washington Post, 2-17-06

Call it the new "axis of Islam," or, more accurately, the anti-American and anti-Israeli alliance. In the wake of strong performances by Islamist forces at the ballot box in recent months there's a new power rising in the Middle East. At the Beirut headquarters of Hezbollah, the Shia militia that controls south Lebanon and regularly exchanges fire with the Israeli army, they don't have a name for the new grouping, but there's a definite feeling that the bloc is on the rise, strengthened by Iran's increased willingness to butt heads with the international community and the victory of the militant Hamas movement in the recent Palestinian legislative election. Hussein Hajj Hassan, one of 14 Hezbollah members in the Lebanese parliament, said the new alliance was cemented in a little-publicized summit in Damascus late last month that was attended by leaders of both Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Syrian leader Bashar Assad. Islamic Jihad, another armed Palestinian faction dedicated to the destruction of Israel, was represented at the meeting And the Iraqi Shia firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr also travelled recently to Damascus for talks. "If neighbouring Muslim countries are attacked, the Mahdi Army will support them," Mr. al-Sadr said last week after his meeting with Mr. Assad. "I am at the service of Iran and Syria."
Mark Mackinnon, New Islamist alliance alters Mideast dynamic, Globe and Mail, 2-17-06

Although we cannot hope to foresee all the ways such forces will affect the global human community, the primary vectors of the permanent energy crisis can be identified and charted. Three such vectors, in particular, demand attention: a slowing in the growth of energy supplies at a time of accelerating worldwide demand; rising political instability provoked by geopolitical competition for those supplies; and mounting environmental woes produced by our continuing addiction to oil, natural gas, and coal. Each of these would be cause enough for worry, but it is their intersection that we need to fear above all…Nor should the possibility of a direct clash over oil and gas between great powers be ruled out. In the East China Sea, for example, China and Japan have both laid claim to an undersea natural gas field that lies in an offshore area also claimed by both of them. In recent months, Chinese and Japanese combat ships and planes deployed in the area have made threatening moves toward one another…The sole way out of this trap is to bite the bullet and adopt heroic measures to curb our fossil-fuel consumption while embarking upon a massive program to develop alternative energy systems – an effort comparable to, and in some sense a reversal of, the coal-and-oil-fueled industrial revolution of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the United States, this would, at an utter minimum, entail the imposition of a hefty tax on gasoline consumption, with the resulting proceeds used to fund the rapid development of renewable energy systems. All funds now slated for highway construction should instead be devoted to public transit and high-speed inter-city rail lines and all new cars sold in America after 2010 should have minimum average fuel efficiencies of 50 MPG or higher. This will prove costly and disruptive -- but what other choice is there if we want to have some hope of exiting the permanent global energy crisis before the global economy collapses or the planet becomes uninhabitable by humans.
Michael T. Klare, The Permanent Energy Crisis,, 2-10-06

Asia Pacific

India said it was testing dozens of people for bird flu on Sunday, while France confirmed its first avian cases of the H5N1 virus as the deadly strain spread around the globe…Avian influenza has flared anew in recent weeks, spreading among birds in Europe and parts of Africa, and prompting authorities to impose bans on the poultry trade, introduce mass culling and vaccinate poultry flocks…India, the world's second most populous nation and a major poultry producer, reported its first bird flu cases in poultry on Saturday, after 50,000 birds died in Maharashtra. In France, Europe's biggest poultry producer, the farm ministry confirmed that a duck found dead on Monday in the east of the country had H5N1. France's H5N1 case was one of several wild ducks found dead near Lyon in a region famous for the quality of its chickens. Elsewhere, authorities in northern Spain are testing a duck found dead in lake to see if it carried H5N1, while Britain said bird flu was now more likely to reach its shores. Germany and Austria have reported more cases of bird flu, while authorities in Bulgaria put a man in an isolation chamber and were testing him for H5N1 after two of his ducks died. The disease has also spread to Egypt, which reported its first cases of H5N1 on Friday, while in Nigeria authorities are culling poultry and urging people not to eat sick birds after outbreaks there. Indonesia confirmed on Saturday that a 19th person had died of bird flu, which has been reported in chickens and other domesticated fowl in most provinces of the sprawling country of 220 million people. The H5N1 virus is known to have infected 171 people worldwide since late 2003, killing 93 of them. Two hundred million birds across Asia, parts of the Middle East, Europe and Africa have died of the virus or been culled.

Bird flu spreads, India tests dozens of people, Reuters, 2-19-02

With more human cases of bird flu being reported in [Indonesia], ministers warn the virus may be mutating into a more virulent form that is capable of being transmitted from human to human. "The amount of time between contracting the virus and death is becoming shorter, raising the possibility the virus is becoming more virulent," Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said Wednesday before a limited Cabinet meeting with governors from five provinces to discuss efforts to combat bird flu. The meeting comes at a time of increased criticism over the government's perceived failure to respond to the crisis with the necessary speed or force. Of the 26 people who have tested positive for the H5N1 form of the avian influenza virus since last year at a World Health Organization-accredited laboratory in Hong Kong, 18 have died. Eight of these cases have occurred this year, with seven fatalities…Indonesia has reported the second-highest number of human bird flu cases in the world, and has suffered the second-highest number of fatalities…According to a report from the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization, 30 million village households in Indonesia are keeping around 200 million chickens, excluding wild birds.
Rendi Akhmad Witular, The Jakarta Post, 2-16-06

The bird flu virus is only two mutations away from a form that can spread easily between people, sparking a pandemic in which millions could die, the UN bird flu chief said in an interview published in Portugal Saturday.
“Only two mutations are needed for it to become easily transmissible among humans,” Dr David Nabarro, who heads the UN drive to contain the virus, told weekly newspaper Expresso.
“I wake up every morning thinking that today could be the day that I will see a report about a strange case of bird flu among humans,” he added. The H5N1 bird flu virus has killed tens of millions of birds since 2003 and there have been at least 165 confirmed cases of the strain spreading to humans, causing about 90 deaths, mostly in Asia…
Daily Times (Pakistan), 2-12-06

THE spread of bird flu from Asia to eastern Europe and west Africa has increased the chance that the virus will mutate and cause a pandemic among humans, the United Nations' expert on the disease has warned. Dr David Nabarro said there was no evidence yet of any change in the bird flu virus. He said: "Unfortunately, we cannot tell when the mutation might happen, or where it might happen, or how unpleasant the mutant virus will turn out to be. "Nevertheless, we must remain on high alert for the possibility of sustained human-to-human virus transmission and of a pandemic starting at any time…"We have got bird flu now in south-east Asia, central Asia, eastern Europe, and west Africa," he said. "Compared with eight months ago, this is a major extension of the avian influenza epidemic."
Bird flu spread 'raises chance of pandemic through human strain', Scotsman, 2-18-06

Near-panic has spread through Africa following the confirmed outbreak of the deadly bird flu virus in Nigeria that has led to the slaughter of tens of thousands of chickens, turkeys and other domesticated birds. The arrival of the H5N1 strain of bird flu from Asia fulfils one of the most dreadful fears of international experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH). These organizations and others are sending teams of experts to Nigeria in an effort to control an outbreak that went unreported for at least four weeks from the time thousands of birds began dying at the beginning of January. Nigerian traders continue to sell sick chickens, or birds killed by the virus, in unsanitary marketplaces. Poverty and lack of infrastructure make control more difficult in Africa than in Asia – where bird flu first struck – the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Detection is hard enough in rich countries. Currently, only two laboratories on the African continent are able to conduct safe diagnostic tests for bird flu in animals: one in South Africa, the other in Egypt. Few African countries have surveillance systems for H5N1.
Fred Bridgland, Bird Flu: Experts’ Fears Realized in West Africa, The Sunday Herald (Scotland), 2-12-06


The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has launched a passionate attack on President George Bush, saying his administration's refusal to close the notorious Guantanamo Bay camp reflected "a society that is heading towards George Orwell's Animal Farm". Dr Sentamu, the Church of England's second in command, urged the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) to take legal action against the US - through the US courts or the International Court of Justice at The Hague - should it fail to respond to a report, by five UN inspectors, advising that Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay should be shut immediately because prisoners there are being tortured. The report was published on Thursday, as a senior High Court judge, Mr Justice Collins, stated that American actions over Guantanamo's Camp Delta do not "appear to coincide with that of most civilised nations”.

Ian Herbert and Ben Russell, 'The Americans are Breaking International Law...It is a Society Heading Towards Animal Farm' - Archbishop Sentamu on Guantanamo, Independent/UK, 2-18-06

A coalition of American churches sharply denounced the U.S.-led war inIraq on Saturday, accusing Washington of "raining down terror" and apologizing to other nations for "the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown." The statement, issued at the largest gathering of Christian churches in nearly a decade, also warned the United States was pushing the world toward environmental catastrophe with a "culture of consumption" and its refusal to back international accords seeking to battle global warming. "We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched in deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights," said the statement from representatives of the 34 U.S. members of World Council of Churches…The World Council of Churches includes more than 350 mainstream Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox churches; the Roman Catholic Church is not a member. The U.S. groups in the WCC include the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, several Orthodox churches and Baptist denominations, among others…The churches said they had "grown heavy with guilt" for not doing enough to speak out against the Iraq war and other issues. The statement asked forgiveness for a world that's "grown weary from the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown."
BRIAN MURPHY, U.S. Church Alliance Denounces Iraq War, Associated Press, 2-18-06

The most serious problem with US intelligence today is that its relationship with the policymaking process is broken and badly needs repair. In the wake of the Iraq war, it has become clear that official intelligence analysis was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized. As the national intelligence officer responsible for the Middle East from 2000 to 2005, I witnessed all of these disturbing developments…A view broadly held in the United States and even more so overseas was that deterrence of Iraq was working, that Saddam was being kept "in his box," and that the best way to deal with the weapons problem was through an aggressive inspections program to supplement the sanctions already in place. That the administration arrived at so different a policy solution indicates that its decision to topple Saddam was driven by other factors - namely, the desire to shake up the sclerotic power structures of the Middle East and hasten the spread of more liberal politics and economics in the region. If the entire body of official intelligence analysis on Iraq had a policy implication, it was to avoid war - or, if war was going to be launched, to prepare for a messy aftermath. What is most remarkable about prewar US intelligence on Iraq is not that it got things wrong and thereby misled policymakers; it is that it played so small a role in one of the most important US policy decisions in recent decades.
Paul Pillar, Intelligence, Policy and The War in Iraq, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006

Outraged intelligence professionals say President George W. Bush is "cheapening" and "politicizing" their work with claims the United States foiled a planned terrorist attack against Los Angeles in 2002.
"The President has cheapened the entire intelligence community by dragging us into his fantasy world," says a longtime field operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. "He is basing this absurd claim on the same discredited informant who told us Al Qaeda would attack selected financial institutions in New York and Washington."
Within hours of the President’s speech Thursday claiming his administration had prevented a major attack, sources who said they were current and retired intelligence pros from the CIA, NSA, FBI and military contacted Capitol Hill Blue with angry comments disputing the President’s remarks.
“He’s full of shit,” said one sharply-worded email.
Although none were willing to allow use of their names, saying doing so would place them in legal jeopardy, we were able to confirm that at least four of the 23 who contacted us currently work, or had worked, within the U.S. intelligence community. But Los Angeles Mayor Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is willing to go on the record, claiming Bush blind-sided his city with the claims. "I'm amazed that the president would make this (announcement) on national TV and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels," the mayor says…
“DHS is a political police force,” says a retired CIA agent. “They exist to enforce the political propaganda program of George W. Bush. That’s all they’re good for and they’re not very good at that.”
Doug Thompson, Intel pros say Bush is lying about foiling 2002 terror attack, Capitol Hill Blue, 2-10-06

DOBBS: Dr. James Hansen is our guest here tonight. It's good to have you here. He's worked for NASA for nearly four decades.
He first warned Congress about the dangers of global warming two decades ago. He's now director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and joins us now…The idea that a 24-year-old political appointee has the sway to influence whatever you say or do not say about science, it just infuriates me to tell you the truth.
JAMES HANSEN, DIR. NASA'S GODDARD INST.: Yes, it's good to be here. I have to first note on the advice of counsel that I speak on the basis of my 39 years of NASA but I don't speak for the agency.
DOBBS: So stipulated and understood.
HANSEN: And I don't specify policy or criticize policy. I let the data and its policy implications speak for themselves.
DOBBS: Your feeling is, after studying the data for a mere 400,000 years, would that be about right?
HANSEN: Yes, we have good data for 400,000 from the ice scores in Antarctica.
DOBBS: And your conclusion is?
HANSEN: Well, the conclusion is the earth has warmed about .08 degrees Celsius, which is about one and a half degrees Fahrenheit in the last century, most of that in the last 30 years, while greenhouse gases have been increasing very rapidly and the main point that I was trying to make is that we're getting very close to a point of no return.
If the planet warms more than two degrees Fahrenheit additional, we will begin to have a very different planet.
DOBBS: And why did the Public Affair's Office not want you to share those concerns?
HANSEN: Well, global warming is a sensitive topic. Yes. And the public should know about it. My job, the first line of the NASA mission is to understand and protect our home planet and that's the reason that I'm speaking out.
DOBBS: And the public affairs office? Didn't understand the mission?
HANSEN: Well, they apparently feel that it's OK to filter the information going to the public. Which is, from a scientific point of view, you have to present all the data. Not filter it. But from the public's point of view, they're the ultimate policymaker. So they have to have the information. And so they have to get the whole story.
DOBBS: They have to get the whole story. Michael Griffith, a scientist himself, a man I personally respect, his background is extraordinary, the administrator. How has he reacted here in your judgment and has he been supportive of you and the need to have one of our leading scientists be able to openly speak? I mean taxpayer pays your salary.
HANSEN: Yes, that's right. And he has said exactly the right things that NASA is open but as yet, Public Affairs does not admit they've done anything wrong. And frankly, the story that came out was that as a 24-year-old. But no, in fact, he was doing what he was told by the higher ups.
DOBBS: By the Public Affairs Office.
HANSEN: Absolutely.
DOBBS: Which has had extraordinarily influence unlike any other Public Affairs Office in any other agency that I'm aware, the NASA P.A. Office is very powerful. Do you think you're going to see a change here? Or do you face, as the charge says, dire consequences if you speak out?
HANSEN: Right. I think there's a good chance that, because we do have a really good administrator and he said he's going to fix problem. But this is not limited to NASA. In fact, the problem is more serious in NOAA and still worse in EPA.
DOBBS: NOAH and EPA two of our most important agencies, if not most important agencies, in point in fact, in terms of looking at our climate, our ecology and what we're doing to both.
HANSEN: Right.
DOBBS: Dr. James Hansen, we thank you for your courage. We thank you for being here. Let's hope that this administration does the right thing, failing that, let's hope that Michael Grffin has the courage and the character that I suspect of him of having and we thank you for your display of both qualities.
HANSEN: It's good to be here.
DOBBS: Thank you.

Lou Dobbs interviews Dr. James Hansen, CNN Money Line, 2-15-06


Greenhouse gases are being released into the atmosphere 30 times faster than the time when the Earth experienced a previous episode of global warming.
A study comparing the rate at which carbon dioxide and methane are being emitted now, compared to 55 million years ago when global warming also occurred, has found dramatic differences in the speed of release.
James Zachos, professor of earth sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said the speed of the present build-up of greenhouse gases is far greater than during the global warming after the demise of the dinosaurs…He warned that studies of global warming events in the geological past indicate the Earth's climate passes a threshold beyond which climate change accelerates with the help of positive feedbacks - vicious circles of warming.

Steve Connor, Global Warming '30 Times Quicker Than it Used To Be', Independent/UK, 2-17-06

Global warming is causing the Greenland ice cap to disintegrate far faster than anyone predicted. A study of the region's massive ice sheet warns that sea levels may - as a consequence - rise more dramatically than expected.
Scientists have found that many of the huge glaciers of Greenland are moving at an accelerating rate - dumping twice as much ice into the sea than five years ago - indicating that the ice sheet is undergoing a potentially catastrophic breakup.
The implications of the research are dramatic given Greenland holds enough ice to raise global sea levels by up to 21ft, a disaster scenario that would result in the flooding of some of the world's major population centres, including all of Britain's city ports. Satellite measurements of the entire land mass of Greenland show that the speed at which the glaciers are moving to the sea has increased significantly over the past 10 years with some glaciers moving three times faster than in the mid-1990s.
Steve Connor, Sea Levels Likely to Rise Much Faster Than Was Predicted, Independent/UK, 2-17-06

The argument that business would not be able to cope with curbs on greenhouse gases is a fallacy; the longevity of capitalism is due almost entirely to its ability to adapt to any regime. What business lacks now is a clear steer; it has the expertise…Governments are almost certainly wrong to believe that action on climate change means economic stagnation. On the contrary, it would probably lead to an unleashing of a new clean industrial revolution based on green technology. They are also wrong to believe that the Kyoto process - rather than a new, comprehensive global solution - is the way to cut carbon emissions in any meaningful way. If the initiative does not come from governments, it may eventually come from business itself. In particular, the insurance industry sees itself facing ruin if climate change leads to more hurricanes on the scale of Katrina. The executives of companies in the US have what is known as directors' -and officers' - insurance, which indemnifies them against lawsuits arising from their companies' actions. But they are going to be very wary indeed about writing insurance for companies that are at risk from lawsuits arising from climate change. Exxon Mobil looks vulnerable in this respect. It accounts for around 1% of carbon emissions globally but has lobbied long and hard against efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions. Christopher Walker, head of the greenhouse gas risk solutions unit at Swiss Re, says his company may be forced to approach Exxon Mobil and say: "Since you don't think climate change is a problem, and you're betting your stockholders' assets on that, we're sure you won't mind if we exclude climate-related lawsuits from your D&O insurance." That sort of talk, you can be sure, tends to concentrate minds in the boardroom.

Larry Elliott, Winds of climate change are about to make their impact felt in many a boardroom, The Guardian, 2-6-06

The US government is developing a massive computer system that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government records and intelligence reports, search for patterns of terrorist activity. The system - parts of which are operational, parts of which are still under development - is already credited with helping to foil some plots. It is the federal government's latest attempt to use broad data-collection and powerful analysis in the fight against terrorism. But by delving deeply into the digital minutiae of American life, the program is also raising concerns that the government is intruding too deeply into citizens' privacy "We don't realize that, as we live our lives and make little choices, like buying groceries, buying on Amazon, Googling, we're leaving traces everywhere," says Lee Tien, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "We have an attitude that no one will connect all those dots. But these programs are about connecting those dots - analyzing and aggregating them - in a way that we haven't thought about. It's one of the underlying fundamental issues we have yet to come to grips with." The core of this effort is a little-known system called Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight, and Semantic Enhancement (ADVISE). Only a few public documents mention it. ADVISE is a research and development program within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), part of its three-year-old "Threat and Vulnerability, Testing and Assessment" portfolio. The TVTA received nearly $50 million in federal funding this year.

Mark Clayton, US plans massive data sweep, Little-known data-collection system could troll news, blogs, even e-mails. Will it go too far?, Christian Science Monitor, 2-9-06

The government concluded its "Cyber Storm" wargame today, its biggest-ever exercise to test how it would respond to devastating attacks over the Internet from anti-globalization activists, underground hackers and bloggers. Participants confirmed parts of the worldwide simulation challenged government officials and industry executives to respond to deliberate misinformation campaigns and activist calls by Internet bloggers, online diarists whose "Web logs" include political rantings and musings about current events…Experts depicted hackers who shut down electricity in 10 states, failures in vital systems for online banking and retail sales, infected discs mistakenly distributed by commercial software companies and critical flaws discovered in core Internet technology. Some mock attacks were aimed at causing a "significant cyber disruption" that could seriously damage energy, transportation and health care industries and undermine public confidence, said George Foresman, an undersecretary at the Homeland Security Department…Government officials from the United States, Canada, Australia and England and executives from Microsoft, Cisco, Verisign and others said they were careful to simulate attacks only using isolated computers, working from basement offices at the Secret Services headquarters in downtown Washington…Homeland Security coordinated the exercise. More than 115 government agencies, companies and organizations participated.

TED BRIDIS, U.S. concludes 'Cyber Storm' mock Internet attacks, Associated Press, 2-10-06

In the Web universe, how popular are blogs? A report today by The Gallup Poll organization on its latest surveys could be interpreted two ways.
On the one hand, asked to rank their most frequent online activity, Americans who use the Web (now 73% of the population) placed "reading blogs" at the bottom of its list of 13 choices.
But on the other hand: blogs barely existed until recently and now fully one in five Americans say they consult blogs "frequently" or at least "occasionally." That 20% figure trails instant messaging (28%), auctions (23%), videocasts and downloading music (22%).
E-mailing still heads the list at 87%, followed by checking news and weather (72%) and shopping and travel planning (both at 52%).
In terms of blog activity, there is a slight gender gap (24% of men and 17% of women read them), and of course a generation gap, with 28% of those 18 to 29 using them and only 17% of those over 50.
Nearly 60% still say they "never" look at blogs.
Gallup reported big jumps in those paying bills online and making travel plans.
A total of 1,013 adults were surveyed nationally for the poll.
Gallup: Blogs Catching On With Web Users, Editors and Publishers, 2-6-06

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Words of Power #12: The Fallen Tree (Spiritual Challenges of the 21st Century Global Security Crisis, Part II)

NOTE: Words of Power is published on a bi-weekly basis, and alternates with the GS(3) Intelligence Briefing, also posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. "Words of Power" commentary will explore a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit. The GS(3) Intel Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue will provide insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. For more information, go to

Words of Power #12: The Fallen Tree (Spiritual Challenges of the 21st Century Global Security Crisis, Part II)

We, this people on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through causal space …
It is possible and imperative that we discover
A brave and startling truth
And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking…
We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils or divines
When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
And without crippling fear
When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonders of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.
Maya Angelou, A Brave and Startling Truth, written for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations

Several years ago, at three a.m., after a fierce winter storm, I came upon a huge old oak that had just fallen across an unpaved road through the forest. Sprawled out in the heavy mist, the gnarled, thick-hided tree was blocking the route down to the valley and the highway beyond. I got out of my vehicle, in awe, and placed my hands on the trunk of the great tree. It was super-charged with power, memory and sacrifice. It seemed to speak from inside my own consciousness: “No one is getting by me. You’ll be the last one.” And indeed, the tree had fallen in such a way as to leave an archway with only an inch or two of clearance for the roof and girth of my economy-size care.
I got back into my car, asked the tree for permission and drove through the archway. Miraculously, I passed under it without getting stuck.
Later, after sunrise, the few neighbors stretched out along that remote road got out there and took their chainsaws to it. They could not believe that I had gotten my car under that tree. They were convinced I had turned the car in the opposite direction and gone down the long way around instead.
Weeks after the incident, I remembered a Late Tang dynasty poem that I had loved as a youth. It was about an old tree with a gaping hole in its trunk, which “cared not yet to become the void at its center.”
Now whenever I drive by the massive chunks of that dismembered oak piled up alongside the gulley, I wave. I am somehow bound to it. Like the tree in the poem I cherished decades ago, I do not want to succumb. Like the tree in the road, I want even my fall, when it comes, to have meaning.

21st Century Security Crisis
In the 21st Century, humanity confronts an unprecedented security crisis, one that involves every aspect of life and indeed threatens the survival of the species.
There are numerous contributing factors, including:
Global warming and environmental destruction: A double blow which means that in coming years we will not only be living within a planetary environment very different than the one within which human civilization has evolved, this new environment will also be toxic and dysfunctional.
Over-population: The rise of Mega-Slums (particularly in the East and the South, but also in the West and the North) where basic human needs, e.g., livelihood, education, health care, sanitation, and especially water and food distribution, have either failed or soon will.
Struggle for geopolitical hegemony over oil and natural gas reserves: The "Great Game" exacerbated by the end of peak oil production and significantly increased demand to fuel the accelerated economic growth of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) while continuing to sustain the already established G-7 economies.
Religious fanaticism: A curse that closes minds and cheapens life, particularly in Islam, Christianity and Judaism, not only threatens the lives and cultures of those that are ensnared, but also the lives and cultures of those who are simply different.
Orwellian societies: The suppression of freedom of thought and freedom of expression, i.e., press, Internet, and artistic freedom, whether by religious power, state power, corporatist power, or the fusion of all three, is perhaps the single greatest threat to our common humanity -- because just as religious fanaticism closes minds, freedom of thought and expression opens them, and when these freedoms are suppressed, the inspiration and imagination required to overcome all the other challenges is inhibited and impaired.
The challenges of this global crisis, this “perfect storm,” cannot be overcome without a holistic approach that integrates practical security with a sustainability economy and a spiritual renaissance. We cannot provide security without addressing the issue of sustainability, and we cannot accomplish either without drawing on untapped spiritual power within the human psyche.
Of course, there are specific actions that would be of great benefit. For example, the U.S. and the Western Alliance would be in a much better position to do good if George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were impeached and their policies repudiated and reversed. Furthermore, all of the innocents, everywhere in the world, who live in the cross hairs, whether they know it or not, would be safer if Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri were killed or captured. But even if Bush and Cheney were impeached, and both bin Laden and Zawahiri were killed, humanity would still be confronted with this global crisis.
Perhaps you noticed that terrorism, the shared obsession of Bush, Cheney, bin Laden and Zawahiri was not on my list of the top five challenges that face us. Why? Because the terrorism which has taken so many innocent lives around the world since 9/11 is a sub-set of other problems: e.g., the struggle over oil and natural gas reserves and the curse of religious fanaticism. Unless these problems are understood and overcome, this form of terrorism will continue. (But, of course, perpetual war seems to be another shared notion of these four men.)
There is a great danger, however, in thinking that because terrorism is a derivative threat that it is not grave and imminent to your person, your family and your organization. In my travels, I have encountered this view all too often.
Many innocents have died in hotels in Jakarta and Amman, in office buildings in Istanbul, in the subways of Madrid and London, in nightclubs in Bali and Casablanca, and on the streets of Mumbai.
My message is “Anywhere, anytime…”
I remember briefing the responsible person within an organization headquartered in a great city at the edge of the Middle East. He said, “You don’t have to worry about us. We’re in the IBM building, and we’re across the street from the Israeli embassy. We’re in a really safe place.” Incredible.
The Tibetans have a great teaching: “As a thing is viewed, so it appears.”

Two News Items That Haunt Me
There are two news stories that have haunted me for the last few weeks.
One involves a people that the great nations have forsaken; the other involves a strange bird that fouls its own nest. One involves the horror of Darfur; the other involves the Clemenceau, a decommissioned French warship.
In Darfur, where close to 400,000 people have been killed, as part of a government-sponsored program of ethnic cleansing, the brutal rape of women and children has become a weapon of war. Sexual violence is now an integral and devastating part of the conflict aimed at breaking the will of the local people, humiliating them so that they will abandon their lands and weakening tribal ethnic lines. Every day women in Darfur face the prospect of being raped and beaten when they leave their homes to find food or search for firewood. They face this prospect even though the international community claims that it is protecting them. Even if they survive this trauma, as I learnt when I visited the region last year, their prospects are bleak. Many of them have had their homes destroyed and their male relatives killed. Their villages are burned to the ground; they are forced to walk for days, carrying their children through baking heat and dust storms, to insecure refugee camps. Here, instead of finding safety and comfort, they must build their own shelters, and they are still vulnerable to attack.
Glenys Kinnock, The Rape of Darfur, Guardian, 1-20-06
A toxic disaster of about 500 tons may strike India's western shores in less than a month and a half, if environmentalist warnings are lost on ostrich-like authorities and entrenched vested interests. Decommissioned French warship Clemenceau, carrying a horrifyingly heavy load of asbestos by all accounts but that of French officials, is heading for India after getting the green signal from initially demurring Egyptian authorities. The ship, with its deadly cargo, is expected to reach the Alang shipyard in India's state of Gujarat by February's end, if it proceeds at a speed of four nautical miles per hour…The greater apprehension of environmentalists, however, is that the government of India may just prefer the tactic of turning the other way…An asbestos-laden Danish ship was making its way to India in April 2005, and Danish environment minister Connie Hedegaard wrote to her Indian counterpart offering to take the ship back. The later "feigned ignorance" first, and then gave his open approval to the ship's entry. When Clemenceau left Toulon harbor on December 31, 2005, it did so amidst a fierce controversy in France itself. Yann Wehrling, head of France's Green Party, said it was "scandalous to endanger the health of Indian workers who would be forced to deal with asbestos-contaminated materials on the ship." He added. "We should be doing this ourselves."
J. Sri Raman, Will 'Clemenceau' Hit India's Coast?,, 1-16-06
Neither of these news stories cross the threshold of strategic importance for inclusion in my bi-weekly GS(3) Intelligence Briefings, but both point directly to the spiritual dimension of this global security crisis, and so I bring them to your attention in this Words of Power commentary. Both the rape of Darfur and the last voyage of the Clemenceau highlight the fundamental spiritual problem before us – the failure to acknowledge the oneness of all life and accept the responsibility that such acknowledgement demands.

Two Tales from East Asia, and a Common Purpose for All Humanity
Acknowledging the oneness of all life, and accepting the responsibility that comes with it, lead us into a very different world-view and value system.
Consider the tales of “Tosui’s Vinegar” and “The Useless Tree.”
“Tosui was the Zen master who left the formalism of temples to live under a bridge with beggars. When he was getting very old, a friend helped him to earn his living without begging. He showed Tosui how to collect rice and manufacture vinegar from it, and Tosui did this until he passed away. While Tosui was making vinegar, one of the beggars gave him a picture of the Buddha. Tosui hung it on the wall of his hut and put a sign beside it. The sign read: Mr. Amida Buddha: This little room is quite narrow. I can let you remain as a transient. But don't think I am asking you to be reborn in your paradise.” (Mu Mon, “The Gateless Gate”)
“Tsechi of Nan-po was traveling on the hill of Shang when he saw a large tree which astonished him very much. A thousand chariot teams of four horses could find shelter under its shade. ‘What tree is this?’ cried Tsechi. ‘Surely it must be unusually fine timber.’ Then looking up, he saw that its branches were too crooked for rafters; and looking down he saw that the trunk's twisting loose grain made it valueless for coffins. He tasted a leaf, but it took the skin off his lips; and its odor was so strong that it would make a man intoxicated for three days together. ‘Ah!" said Tsechi, ‘this tree is really good for nothing, and that is how it has attained this size. A spiritual man might well follow its example of uselessness.’” (Complete Chuang-Tzu, Translated by James Legge)
Not only does Tosui turn his back on fame and comfort to live under a bridge and eke out a meager existence, he does not even desire to be reborn into some paradise after death. What wisdom could this tale offer to an upwardly mobile or already well-established denizen of the 21st Century? Furthermore, what wisdom could there possibly be in the uselessness that Chuang-Tzu extols in the tale of that tree that Tsechi of Nan-po encounters?
In ways that contradict so-called “conventional wisdom,” both Tosui and the Useless Tree symbolize freedom from avarice and greed, integration into the whole and the awakening of the altruistic impulse. Mysteriously, paradoxically, they call us to the common purpose for all humanity.
Toiling for the achievement of the U.N.’s “Millennium Goals” should be one of the central focuses of all governments, organizations, families and individuals:
Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Achieve universal primary education
Promote gender equality and empower women
Reduce child mortality
Improve maternal health
Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Ensure environmental sustainability
Develop a global partnership for development
A group of German rap stars (Clueso, Culcha Candela, Curse feat. Gentleman, Eins Zwo, Die Fantastischen Vier, Gentleman, Kool Savas, Nneka, Nosliw, Patrice, Samy Deluxe, Seeed, Toni L & Torch) have released a charity CD entitled “No Excuses 2015: Your Voice Against Poverty, The German Contribution.”They understand the importance of achieving the Millennium Goals.
It is unfortunate that Bush and Cheney do not. But, of course, indifference to the real plight of humanity is something else they share in common with bin Laden and Zawahiri. You probably have more in common with those German rap stars than you do with Bush-Cheney or bin Laden-Zawahiri anyway.
Working within your governments, organizations and families, you can participate in overcoming the spiritual challenges of the 21st Century’s global security crisis.
As inconceivable as it is to you at this moment, in a decade or two, it could be you who fears for your life or your sanity as you gather wood, or your children who cannot wade into the bay anymore because it has become a dead zone.
And, as inconceivable as it may be to you at this moment, your action and the reorientation of your consciousness can influence the future.
That huge old oak that fell across the road knew this "brave and startling truth."

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc.
You can reach Richard Power via e-mail:
For more information, go to

Saturday, February 04, 2006

GS3 Intelligence Special Supplement (2-4-06): Iran, Hamas, Islamic Fundamentalism, Terrorism, Geopolitical Hegemony, The Great Game & Danish Cartoons

GS(3) Intelligence Special Supplement (2-4-06): Iran, Hamas, Islamic Fundamentalism, Terrorism, Geopolitical Hegemony, The Great Game and Danish Cartoonists

In Syria, raging mobs have torched the Danish and Norwegian embassies. In Beirut, they have torched the Danish consulate. Because of a political cartoon. In Islam, there is nothing more sacrosanct than the edict against rendering the image of the Prophet Mohammed in any way at all. But as Reporters Without Borders states, the reaction in the Arab world "betrays a lack of understanding" of press freedom as "an essential accomplishment of democracy." Of course, free speech and a free press are not the only issues involved. In an open and secular society, the religious edicts of one person or group must not constrain the behaviour of another person or group. Nor is this extraordinary episode all that extraordinary. In 1989, Khomeini called for the murder of British author Salman Rushdie for blasphemy in his book, The Satanic Verses. In 2002, when Nigerian journalist Isioma Daniel wrote that the Prophet might have approved of the Miss World beauty context, the article sparked deadly riots and she too was threatened with execution. In 2004, the Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh was killed after release of his documentary about violence against Muslim women. Meanwhile, the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has referred the issue of Iran's nuclear program to the Security Council. Iran has ended all voluntary cooperation with the IEAA, and challenged the West: "We don't need you, but you need us!" Several days ago, Al Jazeera aired a new video-taped message from Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaida's No. 2. Zawahri mocked George W. Bush "as a 'failure' in the war on terror, called him a 'butcher' for killing innocent Pakistanis in a miscarried airstrike..chastised the United States for rejecting Osama bin Laden's offer of a truce [and] threatened a new attack in the United States" (AP, 1-31-06). And, oh yes, Hamas has won the Palestinian elections. There is an ugly, gaping chasm opening up beneath our feet. If we are not careful, it will swallow us all.
Looking back at the Holocaust, i.e., the Nazi genocide against European Jews in WWII, the philosopher George Santayana wrote: "Those who fail to understand history are condemned to repeat it." In very poignant and bitterly ironic ways, Santayana's axiom has a profoundly new significance for all of us. Most people do not understand why Lord Balfour lobbied for what he said would be "a little Jewish Ulster" in Palestine. They do not understand the extent to which national borders within the region were drawn by the colonial powers of Europe, to serve their short-sighted agendas at the time. They do not know enough about the Palestinian leadership's collaboration with Hitler and the Nazis, or the torture chambers of the Shah's secret police (Savak), or the Iranian mullahs brainwashng and exploitation of child soldiers, or Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons against the human wave assaults of the Iranians, or the genocide of the Armenians perpetrated by the Turks at the end of the Ottoman Empire, with the participation of the Kurds. They know nothing about the role of Israeli intelligence in the birth of Hamas (which, as Rabin confided to Arafat, was a "fatal error"). They know next to nothing about the terrorist activities of those who founded Israel, e.g., the assasination of British and U.N. officials, the abduction and execution of British soldiers and the bombing of the King David Hotel. They do not understand the painful and damning paralells between the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the US-UK invasion of Iraq or the agonizing consequences of forcibly displacing one population (Palestinian Arabs) to provide a homeland for another forcibly displaced population (European Jews). Many people who know and care about one of these horrors have turned a blind eye to the others. Very few of us are willing to acknowledge them all. There is very little moral high ground in the Middle East. Any political leader or news media pundit who portrays the situation in terms of absolute good and evil is a liar, an ignoramus, or even worse, a religious fanatic (whether Muslim, Christian or Jew). I do not write much about the Middle East. It only leads to losing old friends and making new enemies. But the situation is dire. There are no more Rabins or Sadats on the scene. (Indeed, their ultimate sacrifices may, in the end, prove to have been made in vain.) And although his son has done an admirable job in near impossible circumstances, the loss of King Hussein is a great one. The Mega-Mogadishu in Iraq, the coming confrontation with Iran, the rise of Hamas in the Palestinian territories, the spread of Al Qaeda style terrorism throughout the world, and the geopolitical struggle for hegemony of the world's oil and natural gas resources going on behind it all, are propelling us into a global conflaguration. The greatest contributing factor at this juncture, even greater than the lack of economic opportunity in the region itself, is the ignorance and denial which the political leadership and mainstream news media have cultivated in the U.S. populace. The political establishment and the news media establishment have kept most Americans woefully ignorant of the mind-expanding historical context, parvticularly in regard to events in the Middle East.
Those with eyes to see knew, even before 9/11 or Iraq or Katrina, what chaos and despair the spiritual and intellectual poverty of the Bush-Cheney administration would bring to the challenges of the 21st Century. All you had to do was watch what they did about Second Intifada, i.e. they did as little as possible, and what little they did only fanned the flames. They abandoned the painstaking, bi-partisan, US-led peace efforts that had spanned decades and adopted an abhorrent new policy of malevolent neglect. They forfeited the U.S.’s vital role as fair broker. They isolated and ridiculed Arafat. They brought even greater danger to innocents in both Israel and the Palestinian territories. And then came 9/11, the “second Pearl Harbor” that the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) authors had wished for. The Bush-Cheney response to 9/11 has done incalculable damage to the US prestige throughout the world. They compromised the national security of the U.S. in hitherto unthinkable ways. They have done more to boost bin Laden’s reputation, and swell the ranks of his adherents, than any sane observer could have believed possible. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a different scenario had Osama himself been calling the shots from the Oval Office. The plot has unfolded as if the Bush-Cheney national security team (and by extension, the US mainstream news media and the leadership of the political opposition) had their roles scripted for them by bin Laden or Zawahiri personally. Of course, it all makes sense if you read the PNAC document itself. The Bush-Cheney vision of the Middle East is one in which the U.S. dominates first through force of arms, and in the long-term, through cosmetic surgery on the body politic of Middle East, breaking the bones of faces to reshape them in the image of some Stepford “democracies” by stapling stomachs, injecting Botox, performing hair and breast implants and maybe even sex change operations.
The Middle East could never become what the PNAC dreamers imagine. Since they do not know what democracy is in the West, they cannot know what it will mean to the Middle East. They are 21st Century Frankensteins attempting to create life out of corpses and lightening. All they will succeed in bringing to life is more monsters.
In the GS(3) Intelligence Supplement, I have selected and organized some important news items and op-ed pieces that provide sweeping scope and in-depth context (both cultural and geopolitical) on the Bush administration's failed approach to the "Global War on Terrorism" and also deliver insights into both our predicament in Iraq and the broader "clash of civilizations" it has exacerbated. I have included the sober perspectives of IAEA director-general and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammend ElBaradai and former White House National Security Council official Richard Clarke concerning the coming confrontation with Iran, as well as Juan Cole's "Ten Top Mistakes of the Bush Administration in Reacting to Al Qaeda," an open letter from Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) to George W. Bush, detailing a sane strategy for extricating the U.S. from the debacle in Iraq, as well as William Pfaff on "To Europe, Bush is Only Creating More Terrorists," Renaud Girard on "The Causes of the Irresistible Progression of Islamist Parties in the Arab-Muslim World" and Amy Goodman's interview with Robert Dreyfuss, author of The Devil's Game. Use them as your talking points when dealing with "true believers," whatever national flag, holy book or corporate interest they have sworn their allegiance too.

Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, on Thursday told a meeting of the nuclear watchdog that the dispute between Iran and the west was "at a critical stage, but was "in no way a crisis situation". He said that Thursday's meeting was "about confidence building, but not in any way about an imminent threat". There had been some positive signals from Iran, which had stepped up its co-operation with the IAEA in recent days, and there was a window of opportunity to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme, said Mr ElBaradei. He noted, however, that the majority of the IAEA board were agreed that Iran needed to return to full suspension of its nuclear enrichment activities and that a majority of board members were in favour of reporting Iran to the UN security council over its failure to co-operate with IAEA demands. A vote was likely to be held on the issue on Friday, he said. Earlier this week all five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, Russia, China, France and the UK (P5) - agreed to propose that Tehran should be reported to the Security Council but that any substantial discussions should be deferred until talks at the UN in New York next month.
Daniel Dombey, IAEA Chief Says Iran Dispute Is Not 'Crisis Situation,' Financial Times, 2-2-06

Richard Clarke On Iran: Clarke's comments on Iran were prompted by an alarmist question by an unidentified member of the audience who wanted to know what Clarke thought we should do about Iran 's presumed nuclear weapons program. Clarke's first response was to chastise the questioner for mischaracterizing the strategic situation in the Persian Gulf. Whereas the questioner tried to paint a picture of a crazy Ahmadinejad leading a rogue Iran and threatening the rest of the Middle East, Clarke insisted that such a portrayal is extremely dangerous. Rather, Iran must be understood as a state with many centers of internal power, not only populist Ahmadinejad but the elitist Ayatollah Khameini and the more moderate former President Rafsanjani. Power and decision-making is distributed between these three centers and that must be used to create an opportunity for de-escalation. The rationale for diplomatic de-escalation and not unilateral military action was Clarke's other point. In a nutshell, Iran has the ability already to make America pay for such a move. Iran, in Clarke's view, has thoroughly infiltrated southern Iraq with intelligence and military personnel. Should the U.S. or Israel drop one bomb on the Bushehr nuclear facility, says Clarke, these forces in Iraq have the capability to make the current insurgency look like child's play, implying that Iran can trigger the Iraqi civil war we've been fearing. Not only that, Iran has the capability to virtually shut down the flow of energy (oil and gas) from the Persian Gulf. Finally, Iran could quite quickly turn up the heat in Afghanistan, where it holds considerable influence with warlords Washington needs to maintain stability. Any of these moves would be an extremely effective check on American military action. Furthermore, characterizing Iran as irrationally seeking to acquire nuclear weapons is impossible to sustain. From Iran's perspective, Clarke reminded us, Bush has labeled it a member of the "axis of evil" and has since invaded and occupied its two largest neighbors, Iraq and Afghanistan. From Iran 's perspective, it is surrounded by an aggressive, unpredictable United States that is willing to lie to its own people to make war in Iran 's front yard. Clarke is very clear: because of these reasons and the simple fact that the United States has no capacity to invade and occupy Iran, the only alternative is to deal.
Patrick Doherty, Richard Clarke on Iran,, 1-19-06

Armed militants angered by a cartoon drawing of the Prophet Muhammad published in European media surrounded EU offices in Gaza on Thursday and threatened to kidnap foreigners as outrage over the caricatures spread across the Islamic world Foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers began leaving Gaza as gunmen there threatened to kidnap citizens of France, Norway, Denmark and Germany unless those governments apologize for the cartoon…Gunmen in the West Bank city of Nablus entered four hotels to search for foreigners to abduct, and they warned hotel owners not to host citizens from several European countries. Gunmen said they were also searching apartments in Nablus for Europeans.…In Pakistan, more than 300 Islamic students protested, chanting "Death to Denmark" and "Death to France." Iran's Foreign Ministry has summoned Austrian Ambassador Stigel Bauer, as representing the European Union, to protest the publication…Morocco and Tunisia barred sales of France Soir's Wednesday issue. French publications are normally widely available in the largely Muslim countries, formerly French colonies. Iraqi Islamic leaders urged worshippers to stage demonstrations from Baghdad to the southern city of Basra following main weekly prayer services Friday to condemn the caricatures.

IBRAHIM BARZAK, Protests Over Muhammad Cartoons Escalate, Associated Press, 2-2-06

The editor of a French newspaper that printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad has been sacked. Jacques Lefranc was dismissed by the owner of France Soir, as his paper became embroiled in a developing row between Muslims and the European press. Some Muslim countries have withdrawn their ambassadors to Denmark and boycotted Danish products after a paper there first printed the cartoons. Norway has closed its West Bank mission to the public in response to threats.…The row intensified when France Soir, alongside the 12 original cartoons, printed a newly created cartoon on its front page showing Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy figures sitting on a cloud, with the caption "Don't worry Muhammad, we've all been caricatured here". Publications in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain also re-ran the Danish cartoons on Wednesday to show support for free speech…Journalists at the newspaper stood by their editor's decision on Thursday, printing a front page picture and editorial in which they strongly defended the right to free speech…French MP Herve Mariton condemned the sacking as "in total contradiction of the tradition of press freedom"…The caricatures from Denmark's Jyllands-Posten included drawings of Muhammad wearing a headdress shaped like a bomb, while another shows him saying that paradise was running short of virgins for suicide bombers….Syria and Saudi Arabia have recalled their ambassadors to Denmark, and Libya has closed its embassy in Copenhagen, while the Danish-Swedish dairy giant Arla Foods says its sales in the Middle East have plummeted to zero because of a boycott of Danish products…Reporters Without Borders said the reaction in the Arab world "betrays a lack of understanding" of press freedom as "an essential accomplishment of democracy."
French editor fired over cartoons, BBC, 2-2-06

Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Palestine ... In the course of the last two years, everywhere in the Arab-Muslim world where governments have organized democratic elections (local or national), Islamist parties have enjoyed spectacular progress…With its historic start between the First World War, which saw the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and the Second, which inaugurated the movements of decolonization and national revolutions, Islamist ideology did not succeed in taking root in the societies of the Arab-Muslim world at the outset…Yet one is forced to observe that in the Arab-Muslim world, the graft of European governance, implanted at the time of the decolonizations and founded on the central principle of the separation of religion and politics, was rejected by the people…The governments that emerged from decolonization all undertook a predatory relationship to power, which ended up being recognized and despised by the population…The simplifying power across the Muslim world of the Brotherhood's electoral slogan, "Islam is the solution," is enormous. From Cairo to Gaza to Baghdad or Algiers, who could contradict such a slogan? Who there could prefer the government of men to that of God? Doesn't Islam, a religion the power of which lies in its simplicity, forbid theft? Doesn't it preach alms to the most deprived? Hasn't the Brotherhood always shown an example? In Gaza, in Cairo, or in the southern suburbs of Beirut, it's Islamists who assure the social services there where the state fails to. For poor people, Islam, which teaches submission to God alone, is a liberating religion…Simultaneously, the image the Western world presents to the Muslim masses has been considerably tarnished. Islamists have a field day teaching their co-religionists that Westerners "don't believe in anything any more," lost as they are in their hyper-consumerism. What sort of moral model do European societies offer now, societies that are afraid to have children and that abandon their old people in nursing homes? It would be useless for Westerners to try to interrupt this deep current. Now we need to allow the societies of the Arab-Muslim world to experiment freely with God's government, in their own countries. As for ourselves, let us continue - without any hang-ups - to demand total human democracy in our own countries.
Renaud Girard, The Causes of the Irresistible Progression of  Islamist Parties in the Arab-Muslim World, Le Figaro, 1-31-06

The difference between official American and European perceptions of terrorism has serious practical consequences for trans-Atlantic cooperation. At the police and intelligence level, all goes reasonably well, or did until the public uproar in Europe about alleged official cooperation with the CIA's secret "rendition" and interrogation operations. On the other hand, last Monday, France blocked a proposed NATO-European Union meeting on terrorism because NATO "was not intended to be the world's gendarme." It is a military defense alliance of equal partners…The Bush administration is firmly committed to the notion that Al Qaeda presents a military problem that requires a military solution. It has to stick to this story or else it has no explanation for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq…The Europeans, in general, think otherwise. Rik Coolsaet, of Ghent University and the Belgian Royal Institute for International Relations, notes that while some European analysts agree with Washington's position, most see terrorism in Europe as "a patchwork of self-radicalizing cells with international contacts," lacking central direction…The sources of extremism are social and political alienation, exclusion (and unemployment) among the offspring of immigrant communities, but the international drama mobilizes them. Coolsaet says that when Bush declares that America is fighting jihadists in Iraq so as not to fight them at home, most European counterterrorism officials find that just the opposite is true: The more the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan intensifies, the more the number of would-be terrorists in Europe increases. He has a reassuring comment, however, on the trajectory of terrorism. To reidentify himself as a jihadist, the recruit must dissociate himself from his own society, politicize his views and look for groups with a similar radicalized worldview. "Groupthink gradually eliminates alternative views, simplifies reality," and causes the candidate-terrorist to "dehumanize" all who disagree - especially his fellow-Muslims. "Ultimately, this strategy is self-defeating and will signify these groups' defeat, as was the case with Europe's left-wing terrorist groups in the 1970s, and the anarchist terrorists in the 1890s." It isolates them from the community on whose behalf they think they are acting.
William Pfaff, To Europe, Bush is Only Creating More Terrorists, International Herald Tribune, 1-29-06

Because they exaggerate the scale of the conflict, and because they use it cynically, Bush and Cheney have grossly mismanaged the struggle against al-Qaeda and Muslim radicalism after September 11. Here are their chief errors:
1. Bush vastly exaggerates al-Qaeda's size, sweep and importance, while failing to invest in genuine counterterrorist measures such as port security or security for US nuclear plants.
2. Bush could have eradicated the core al-Qaeda group by putting resources into the effort in 2002. He did not, leaving al-Zawahiri and Bin Laden to taunt us, inspire our enemies and organize for years after the Taliban were defeated…
3. Bush opened a second front against Iraq before he had put Afghanistan on a sound footing.
4. Bush gutted the US constitution, tossing out the Fourth Amendment, by assiduously spying on Americans without warrants. None of those spying efforts has been shown to have resulted in any security benefits for the United States…
5. Bush attempted to associate the threat from al-Qaeda with Iran and Syria. Iran is a fundamentalist Shiite country that hates al-Qaeda. Syria is a secular Arab nationalist country that hates al-Qaeda. Indeed, Syria tortured al-Qaeda operatives for Bush, until Bush decided to get Syria itself. Bush and Cheney have cynically used a national tragedy to further their aggressive policies of Great Power domination.
6. Bush by invading Iraq pushed the Iraqi Sunni Arabs to desert secular Arab nationalism. Four fifths of the Sunni Arab vote in the recent election went to hard line Sunni fundamentalist parties. This development is unprecedented in Iraqi history…
7. Bush diverted at least one trillion dollars in US security spending from the counter-terrorism struggle against al-Qaeda to the Iraq debacle, at the same time that he has run up half a trillion dollar annual deficits, contributing to a spike in inflation, harming the US economy, and making the US less effective in counterterrorism.
8. Counterterrorism requires friendly allies and close cooperation. The Bush administration alienated France, Germany and Spain, along with many Middle Eastern nations that had long waged struggles of their own against terrorist groups. Bush is widely despised and has left America isolated in the world…
9. Bush transported detainees to torture sites in Eastern Europe. Under European Union laws, both torture and involvement in torture are illegal, and European officials can be tried for these crimes. How many European counterterrorism officials will want to work closely with the Americans if, for all they know, this association could end in jail time?
10. Bush's failure to capture Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri allows them to continue to grandstand, to continue to frighten the public, to continue to affect financial markets, and to continue to plot. Al-Zawahiri almost certainly plotted the 7/7 London subway bombings himself, and gloated about it when he issued Muhammad Siddique Khan's suicide statement. Misplaced Bush priorities are getting our allies hit. The CIA is reduced to firing predators at villages because our counterterrorism efforts have been starved for funds by the Iraq quagmire. If al-Qaeda does pull off another American operation, it may well give Bush and Cheney an opportunity to destroy the US constitution altogether…
Juan Cole, Top Ten Mistakes of the Bush Administration in Reacting to Al-Qaeda, 1-24-06

Dear Mr. President,
This March will mark the beginning of the 4th year of the war in Iraq. In contrast, U.S. involvement in WWI came to an end after 19 months. Victory in Europe was declared in WWII after 3 years 5 months. In the Korean War, a cease-fire was signed after 3 years and 1 month…Iraq is not the center for the global war on terrorism. I believe Iraq has diverted our attention away from the fight against global terrorism and has depleted the required resources needed to wage an effective war. It is estimated that there are only about 750 to 1,000 al-Qaeda in Iraq. I believe the Iraqis will force them out or kill them after U.S. troops are gone. In fact, there is now evidence that Iraqi insurgent groups are increasingly turning against al-Qaeda and other foreign terrorists. Our country needs a vigorous and comprehensive strategy for victory against global terrorism. The architect of 9/11 is still out there but now has an international microphone. We must get back to the real issue at hand - we have to root out and destroy al-Qaeda's worldwide network.
There are 4 key elements that I recommend to reinvigorate our global anti-terrorism effort: Redeploy, Replace, Reallocate, and Reconstitute.
The war in Iraq is fueling terrorism, not eliminating it. Our continued military presence feeds the strong anti-foreigner fervor that has existed in this part of the world for centuries. A vast majority of the Iraqi people now view American troops as occupiers, not liberators. Over 80% of Iraqis want U.S. forces to leave Iraq and 47% think it is justified to attack Americans. 70% of Iraqis favor a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces, with half favoring a withdrawal in the next six months. In fact, 67% of Iraqis expect day-to-day security for Iraqi citizens will improve if U.S. forces withdraw in six months and over 60% believe violent attacks, including those that are ethnically motivated, will decrease…
The ever-changing justifications of the war in Iraq, combined with tragic missteps, have resulted in a worldwide collapse of support for U.S. policies in Iraq. The credibility of the United States of America will not be restored if we continue down the path of saying one thing and doing another…Mr. President, I believe in order to restore our credibility, you must hold accountable those responsible for so many missteps and install a fresh team that demonstrates true diplomatic skill, knowledge of cultural differences and a willingness to earnestly engage other leaders in a respectful and constructive way. This would do much to reinvigorate international participation in a truly effective war on global terrorism.
The Department of Defense has been allocated $238 billion for the war in Iraq, with average monthly costs growing significantly since the beginning of the war. In 2003 the average monthly war cost was $4.4 billion; by 2005 the average monthly cost had reached $6.1 billion. Despite the urgent homeland security needs of our country, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission issued a dismal report card on the efforts to improve our counter-terrorist defenses. Even the most basic of recommendations, such as the coordination of fire and police communication lines, still have not been accomplished…
The U.S. army is the smallest it's been since 1941. It is highly capable. But this drawn out conflict has put tremendous stress on our military, particularly on our Army and Marine Corps, whose operations tempo has increased substantially since 9/11.
The Government Accountability Office issued a report in November 2005 addressing the challenges of military personnel recruitment and retention and noted that the Department of Defense had been unable to fill over 112,000 positions in critical occupational specialties. This shortfall includes intelligence analysts, special forces, interpreters, and demolition experts-- those on whom we rely so heavily in today's asymmetric battlefield.
Some of our troops have been deployed four times over the last three years. Enlistment for the regular forces as well as the guard and reserves are well below recruitment goals…During a time of war, we are cutting our combat force, we have not mobilized industry, and have never fully mobilized our military. On our current path, I believe that we are not only in danger of breaking our military, but that we are increasing the chances of a major miscalculation by our future enemies, who may perceive us as vulnerable.
Rep. JOHN P. MURTHA (D-PA), Letter to President George W. Bush, 2-1-06

AMY GOODMAN: In light of Hamas's victory in the Palestinian elections, we turn to Robert Dreyfuss right now, investigative reporter and author of the new book, Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. We welcome you to our Washington studio at Reuters in D.C., Robert Dreyfuss...How was Hamas established?
ROBERT DREYFUSS: Well, gosh, you know, you can go back, really 60 or 70 years. The Hamas organization is an outgrowth, really a formal outgrowth, of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was a transnational organization founded in Egypt, which established branches in the ‘30s and ‘40s in Jordan and Palestine and Syria and elsewhere. And the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood was founded by a man named Said Ramadan, actually the father of Tariq Ramadan, who you mentioned earlier. Said Ramadan was one of the founders of the Brotherhood, who was the son-in-law of its originator, Hassan al-Banna, and he established the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and in Jerusalem in 1945. And it grew rapidly during the ‘40s and was, not surprisingly, a very conservative political Islamic Movement that had a lot of support from the Hashemite royal family of Jordan and from the king of Egypt.
This movement, as it began in the ‘40s and ‘50s, ran up against the emerging tide of Arab nationalism, and really the story of Hamas and the story of the Muslim Brotherhood is a continual battle for the last 50 years between Arab nationalists and the Arab left on one hand, and what I would call the Islamic right on the other hand. So the Hamas movement, as it grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood, found itself in the 1960s fighting Arab nationalism in all of these countries, including Egypt.
When Fatah was founded in late 1950s and began taking action against Israel in guerilla warfare in the mid-60s, Hamas was -- or the Muslim Brotherhood was strongly opposed to Fatah. They grew out of the same movement. The Palestinian Fatah organization was founded really out of the League of Palestinian Students, that was a Muslim Brotherhood organization. But the nationalists broke away, and people like Khalil al-Wazir, and Salah Khalaf, and Yasser Arafat and the Hassan brothers, who founded Fatah, broke away from the Muslim Brotherhood in the late 1950s.
And by 1965, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt launched its second attempt to kill Nasser at precisely the same time that Nasser was supporting the Palestinian national movement and Fatah against Israel in the areas surrounding the Israeli borders on the Egyptian front. So the Egyptian authorities arrested a man and put him in jail in 1965, named Ahmed Yassin. Ahmed Yassin, of course, is the founder of Hamas. He was, in turn -- we'll get to the end of the story -- was killed by Israel a couple of years ago. But in 1965, he was put in jail by the Egyptian authorities. And then, two years later, of course, when Israel occupied Gaza and the West Bank and, of course, the Sinai peninsula after the 1967 War, the Israelis released Ahmed Yassin and a number of other Muslim Brotherhood leaders.
And starting in 1967, the Israelis began to encourage or allow the Islamists in the Gaza and West Bank areas, among the Palestinian exiled population, to flourish. The statistics are really quite staggering. In Gaza, for instance, between 1967 and 1987, when Hamas was founded, the number of mosques tripled in Gaza from 200 to 600. And a lot of that came with money flowing from outside Gaza, from wealthy conservative Islamists in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. But, of course, none of this could have happened without the Israelis casting an approving eye upon it.
And during these years, during that 20-year span, the Hamas organization was a bitter opponent of Palestinian nationalism, clashed repeatedly with the P.L.O. and with Fatah, of course, refused to participate in the P.L.O. umbrella. And just as during the ‘50s and ‘60s, the Muslim Brotherhood fought against the Nasserists, the Baath Party, the communists and the rest of the Arab left, in the 1970s and ‘80s, the Muslim Brotherhood fought against the Palestinian national movement. Now that's not even a surprise, you know. In 1970, when the king of Jordan launched his massive counter-offensive against the Palestinians there in that event called Black September, the Muslim Brotherhood was a strong supporter of the king and actually backed his effort, which resulted in thousands of Palestinians killed in a virtual civil war in Jordan.
So there's plenty of evidence that the Israeli intelligence services, especially Shin Bet and the military occupation authorities, encouraged the growth of the Muslim Brotherhood and the founding of Hamas. There are many examples and incidents of that. But there were armed clashes, of course, on Palestinian university campuses in the ‘70s and ‘80s, where Hamas would attack P.L.O., PFLP, PDFLP and other groups, with clubs and chains. This was before guns became prominent in the Occupied Territories.
Even that, however -- there's a very interesting and unexplained incident. Yassin was arrested in 1983 by the Israelis. On search of his home, they found a large cache of weapons. This would have been a fairly explosive event, but for unexplained reasons, a year later Yassin was quietly released from prison. He said at the time that the guns were being stockpiled not to fight the Israeli occupation authorities, but to fight other Palestinian factions.
That and other incidents gave rise to -- a number of diplomats and intelligence people who I interviewed, saying that there was plenty of reason to think that the Israelis were fostering the growth of Hamas. And, of course, Yasser Arafat himself, in a famous quote to a newspaper reporter a number of years ago, explicitly described Hamas as, quote, “a creature of Israel.” And he said that he discussed this with Yitzhak Rabin during their Oslo process. And Rabin told Arafat that it was “a fatal error” for the Israelis to have encouraged the growth of Hamas. The theory of it, of course, was that Hamas would be a force against Palestinian nationalism. And I think it's clear that it ended up, to a shocking degree, backfiring against overall Israeli policy.

Amy Goodman Interviews Robert Dreyfuss, Democracy Now! 1-26-06

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to