Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nukes--Focus on Iran & Terrorists, But is There an Enemy Within?

In This Issue:

- Nuclear Hysteria (A Pass For Israel)

- Steve Earle- Rich Man's War


Frightened by Obama's "Nuclear Summit?"

Democracy Now! 4/14/10

AMY GOODMAN: But Professor Mueller, why is it so hard for groups to get so-called “loose” nukes?

JOHN MUELLER: Well, mainly because they don’t exist. No one has really been able to find anything that’s a loose nuke. If you did actually buy or sell—buy or steal a nuclear weapon, what you’d find is that it’s got a lot of locks on it, and there’s very few people who know how to unlock it. In the case of Pakistan, for example, they keep their weapons in pieces, so you’d have to steal or buy one half, find—go to another secure location and buy or steal the other half, somehow know how to put tab A into slot B, and set it off. The number of people—as I say, the number of people who know how to set them off is very small. The people who designed them are not—do not know how to set them off. And the people who maintain them do not know how to set them off. So just getting the bombs—and they also have locks on them which will, if tampered with, will cause a conventional explosion, which will cause the weapon itself to self-destruct, effectively, in a conventional explosion. So the danger is extraordinarily small, it seems to me.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And John Mueller, you also say that terrorists exhibit only a limited desire to obtain these nuclear weapons, which goes contrary to what most intelligence reports are telling us. Why do you say that?

JOHN MUELLER: Well, I looked at those intelligence reports, and, of course, Obama said the same thing. The indication of interest is extraordinarily small. There is some interest. They sort of think about it. They have thought about it from time to time. But, for example, in Afghanistan, when there were some hotheads among al-Qaeda who wanted to develop weapons of mass destruction, mostly like chemical weapons, which actually aren’t weapons of mass destruction, bin Laden basically approved it but didn’t put any money into it. When they were—when they left Afghanistan after the invasion in 2001, we got a computer which indicated that their entire budget for weapons of mass destruction, mainly primitive work on chemical weapons, was about $2,000. And since that time, they certainly haven’t been in better position. There’s no indication they have anything resembling a competent technology team that could put anything together, maybe not even chemical weapons, much less nuclear ones.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, I want to turn to what President Obama had to say at yesterday’s news conference when he was asked about Israel’s nuclear program. He was questioned by Scott Wilson of the Washington Post.

SCOTT WILSON: You have spoken often about the need to bring US policy in line with its treaty obligations internationally to eliminate the perception of hypocrisy that some of the world sees—


SCOTT WILSON: —toward the United States and its allies. In that spirit and in that venue, will you call on Israel to declare its nuclear program and sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty? And if not, why wouldn’t other countries see that as an incentive not to sign onto the treaty that you say is important to strengthen?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, Scott, initially you were talking about US behavior, and then suddenly we’re talking about Israel. Let me talk about the United States. I do think that as part of the NPT, our obligation as the largest nuclear power in the world is to take steps to reducing our nuclear stockpile, and that’s what the START treaty was about, sending a message that we are going to meet our obligations.

And as far as Israel goes, I’m not going to comment on their program. What I am going to point to is the fact that consistently we have urged all countries to become members of the NPT. So there’s no contradiction there.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: That was President Obama speaking yesterday at the news conference. Well, last year, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas pressed Obama on nuclear weapons in the Middle East in a clear reference to Israel. The President tried to ignore that part of her question.

HELEN THOMAS: Mr. President, do you think that Pakistan and—are maintaining the safe havens in Afghanistan for these so-called terrorists? And also, do you know of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, I think that Pakistan—there is no doubt that in the FATA region of Pakistan, in the mountainous regions along the border of Afghanistan, that there are safe havens where terrorists are operating. And one of the goals of Ambassador Holbrooke, as he is traveling throughout the region, is to deliver a message to Pakistan that they are endangered as much as we are by the continuation of those operations and that we’ve got to work in a regional fashion to root out those safe havens.

With respect to nuclear weapons, you know, I don’t want to speculate. What I know is this: that if we see a nuclear arms race in a region as volatile as the Middle East, everybody will be in danger. And one of my goals is to prevent nuclear proliferation generally. I think that it’s important for the United States, in concert with Russia, to lead the way on this.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, in addition to John Mueller, we’re also joined from Washington, DC by author and activist John Steinbach, who just wrote a paper on Israel’s nuclear weapons program, published by the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, John Steinbach. Can you talk about what President Obama has said in those two clips we just played and your paper on Israel’s nuclear weapons program?

JOHN STEINBACH: Yes. Good morning.
Well, we need to go all the way back to the early 1970s, when it became obvious that Israel had a nuclear weapons program and, in fact, by then had perhaps a dozen nuclear weapons. It became a difficult political situation, and Nixon met with Prime Minister Golda Meir, and they made a deal. And the deal was that the United States would stop pressing Israel about its nuclear weapons program, and in return, that Israel would never acknowledge publicly that it had nuclear weapons. So this policy has continued to this very day. And when Obama talks about Israel’s—not wanting to speculate about Israel’s nuclear arsenal, everybody knows that this is—that Israel has a large nuclear arsenal. Hans Blix last year said everybody knows Israel has about 200 nuclear weapons. It’s not a secret.

AMY GOODMAN: John Steinbach, what about the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, not showing up at this largest gathering of world leaders since FDR that’s hosted by the United States?

JOHN STEINBACH: Well, the excuse was that if he went there, that he would be questioned by Israel—by Egypt and Turkey about the nuclear weapons program. But Israel has been challenged in every conceivable international venue by Turkey, Egypt and many, many other nations in the world. This is nothing new. The world knows that Israel has nuclear weapons. Ehud Barak last year let loose that it has the nuclear weapons.

We have incontrovertible evidence, because Mordechai Vanunu, the nuclear technician, back in 1986 released several hundreds of photographs to the Sunday London Times. It was examined by Frank Barnaby and Ted Taylor, high-ranking Manhattan Project scientists. They concluded twenty-five years ago that Israel had a hundred sophisticated nuclear weapons. And Frank Barnaby said they had the hydrogen bomb. So I think that it speaks for itself.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And John Steinbach, you write that Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the region provides the impetus for other nations in the region to—the impetus for the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Explain that.

JOHN STEINBACH: Well, let me give you an example. About eighteen months ago, the Arab League had a meeting, and they made a public statement saying that if Israel ever publicly acknowledges that it has nuclear weapons, that the Arab League would be forced to develop its own nuclear weapons. And Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, immediately took exception to that and took the Arab League to the woodshed. And he said, “Look, you know, everybody knows that Israel has nuclear weapons. We want Israel to acknowledge their nuclear arsenal. We want Israel to bring that to the table. And we want to proceed to negotiate a nuclear-weapons-free treaty in the Middle East. And unless Israel acknowledges its program and comes to the table, that’s not going to happen.” And statements such as the Arab League made are not helpful.

And I think we need to contrast this situation, this absurd situation. All the nations in the Middle East have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran, which is technically not part of the Middle East, has also signed it. Iran, over the last ten years, has undergone the most intensive scrutiny by the IAEA of any nation in the entire world. And in the meantime, on the basis that it might be trying to acquire nuclear weapons, in the meantime, you have Israel that not only has hundreds of nuclear weapons, but it has a very powerful, very sophisticated delivery system that includes submarines, missiles and bombers.


America’s Loose Nukes in Israel

By Grant Smith

See Also, for links, and etc. Information Clearing House

April 14, 2010 "Antiwar" -- Israel decided this week to send Minister for Intelligence Affairs Dan Meridor to the Nuclear Security summit. This U.S. bid to secure vulnerable nuclear stockpiles against non-state actors is both closely watched and furiously spun. Israel avoided exposing Prime Minister Netanyahu to embarrassing scrutiny of Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons arsenal. For this reason, trumpets the New York Times, Israel sent a lower-level delegation. But Israel has long responded defiantly to threats of robust U.S. oversight. A long-running investigation into how weapons-grade uranium went missing from Pennsylvania illustrates why America has been incapable of securing its own nuclear materials and know-how from insider threats. The future of that uranium may determine the success or failure of the Obama administration’s non-proliferation effort.

Steve Levin was a member of the underground Haganah [an Israeli terrorist group back in the 40's takeover of Palestine] – a precursor to the Israel Defense Forces – and fought during Israel’s 1948 war under Meir Amit, who later became head of Israeli intelligence. Levin was a close friend of David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel. In the mid-1940s while leading the Jewish Agency, Ben-Gurion launched a massive clandestine conventional arms financing, theft, and smuggling network [.pdf] in the United States diverting to Palestine small arms, heavy machine guns, munitions-making equipment, aircraft, ships, and tanks destined for American scrap yards after World War II.

On the nuclear front, Levin financed the purchase of the Apollo Steel Company facility in Pennsylvania for $450,000. Founder and President Dr. Zalman M. Shapiro, a genius inventor and head of a local Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) chapter, incorporated the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) at Apollo in 1956. Levin capitalized NUMEC through a stock offering in 1957 and business took off – propelled by the critical knowledge of highly talented scientists. NUMEC co-founder Dr. Leonard P. Pepkowitz previously worked on the clandestine Manhattan Project in 1944 producing America’s first atomic bombs. Pepkowitz later led analytical chemistry research at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. NUMEC regularly received large quantities of highly enriched uranium and plutonium from industry giants Westinghouse and the U.S. Navy for reprocessing into nuclear submarine fuel and other specialty uses. Shapiro was meticulous in his stewardship of the company’s financial resources, carefully shopping around for banks willing to accommodate the complex demands of the fast growing NUMEC.

In the early 1960s, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) began documenting suspicious lapses in NUMEC’s security, inexplicably lax record-keeping, and the ongoing presence of large numbers of Israelis at the plant. In 1962 the AEC considered suspending "classified weapons work" at NUMEC. In 1965 an AEC audit found that NUMEC could no longer account for 220 pounds of highly enriched uranium. In 1966 the FBI opened an investigation – code-named Project DIVERT – and began monitoring NUMEC’s management and Israeli visitors. On Sept. 10, 1968, four Israelis visited NUMEC to "discuss thermoelectric devices with Shapiro," according to correspondence seeking official AEC consent for the visit from NUMEC’s security manager. Among the approved visitors was Rafi Eitan. After Eitan’s visit, 587 pounds of highly enriched uranium was classified as missing.

Former Deputy of the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology Carl Duckett said the agency came to the conclusion by 1968 that “NUMEC material had been diverted by the Israelis and used in fabricating weapons.” An eyewitness gave testimony to the FBI about one late evening in 1965 when he encountered several NUMEC employees loading a flatbed truck with nuclear materials. It was unusual that material was shipping so late at night. Moreover, these particular employees (names were censored from the 2,654 pages of FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act) "never loaded trucks themselves." The eyewitness was "sure this was high-enriched uranium products due to size and shape of the container and the labeling." An armed guard ordered the witness away; he was later threatened to never reveal what he had seen on the loading dock.

The FBI, CIA, Congress, the GAO, and the AEC spent fruitless decades investigating the diversion. The FBI insisted on nuclear forensics to determine whether radioactivity in soil samples collected outside Dimona in Israel had any telltale NUMEC signature. But not until U.S. Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard was arrested spying for Israel in 1985 was Rafi Eitan’s importance fully understood. In 1986 investigators discovered the Eitan who entered NUMEC in 1968 had the same birth date – 11/23/1926 – as the spy handling Pollard. According to Anthony Cordesman, “There is no conceivable reason for Eitan to have gone [to the Apollo plant] but for the nuclear material.” Eitan has since been forced out of the cold as one of Israel’s top economic espionage agents for Israel’s secretive LAKAM, involved in multiple operations against U.S. targets. The Israel lobby’s role, never deeply explored by the Pollard investigators, was perceptible in the background. An operative of a U.S.-Israel business foundation provided the Washington, D.C., safe house where documents stolen by Pollard were duplicated and secreted away to Israel.

But Pollard’s subsequent life sentence in prison is the exception to the rule – crimes for Israel (even nuclear diversion) aren’t punished by America. In a now familiar pattern, the investigation of NUMEC uranium diversion waxed and waned into the 1990s. DIVERT was soon transformed into a futile investigation into whether Zalman Shapiro had foreknowledge or personal involvement in the caper and ways officials in agencies from the State Department to the AEC thwarted warranted law enforcement and accountability for Israel. To date, all of the uranium-diversion masterminds, financiers, and beneficiaries have escaped criminal prosecution, even as U.S. taxpayers fund a nuclear waste cleanup at the (now defunct) NUMEC Apollo facility.

That the U.S. is a sieve for Israeli nuclear espionage is well documented. In 1988 the GAO determined that Department of Energy nuclear laboratories were far too open to foreign visits from "countries identified as sensitive by DOE because they are a security and/or proliferation risk, such as Pakistan and Israel." The lessons of Eitan went unheeded. The report found that "Of 637 visitors from countries such as India, Israel, and Pakistan, the DOE required background checks for only 77." In addition to amassing critical knowledge, other nuclear technologies known to have been diverted from the U.S. to Israel include dual-use triggering technologies, klystrons, and krytons.

It never had to be this way. In the early 1960s, just as the problems at NUMEC began, President John F. Kennedy unleashed a robust non-proliferation and law enforcement pincer maneuver. He demanded U.S. inspections of Israel’s Dimona weapons plant in order to prevent Israel from going nuclear. Kennedy simultaneously ordered Israel’s American lobby to register as foreign agents to bring their undeclared activities out into the open. But Israel and its U.S. lobby ultimately prevailed on both counts.

In formally pressing Israel to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while pushing for a settlement freeze and peace negotiations, the Obama administration is retracing JFK’s final footsteps. Israel’s lobby still has its own sovereign policy priorities. As Zalman Shapiro and lobby elites such as neoconservative gadfly Frank Gaffney gathered at ZOA events on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, pivoting the U.S. military from Iraq toward Syria and Iran was a top priority. The lobby also worked day and night to keep America’s front (and back) doors open for massive aid transfers and trade preferences, buffing up its own image by plucking operatives from the harsh clutches of law enforcement – even winning presidential pardons to erase or exalt other unfortunate historic events that called into question the U.S.-Israel "special relationship." Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh noted that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) entire executive committee (the Conference of Presidents) favors releasing Jonathan Pollard on the grounds that "his crimes did not amount to high treason against the United States, because Israel was then and remains a close ally." These unspoken, forced policies directly pit Israeli prerogatives against American national security, governance, and rule of law – they are often only won only through illegal means. As Israel ratchets up its own "project divert" effort to compel others to confront NPT signatory Iran (while derailing meaningful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations), the rest of the world showed true commitment to non-proliferation by sending top diplomats to America’s summit.

Israel simply sent in another spy.

This is why the U.S. must demand more than Israel’s entry into the NPT. Only by recovering all purloined nuclear materials can Obama win confidence in America’s own commitment to controlling loose nukes.

Grant F. Smith is the author of the new book Spy Trade: How Israel's Lobby Undermines America's Economy. He is a frequent contributor to Radio France Internationale and Voice of America's Foro Interamericano. Smith has also appeared on BBC News, CNN, and C-SPAN. He is currently director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington, D.C.

Copyright © 2010

Here is an historic document mentioned in the article above. Well worth reading.

See link to entire article at top for many more good articles.

Obama: Israel should sign NPT

American president lauds leaders who took part in Washington nuke summit, says world safer as result of conference; responding to question, Obama says all nations should sign Non-Proliferation Treaty, including Israel

By Yitzhak Benhorin

April 14, 2010 "YNetNews" -- WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the US Administration calls upon all nations to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, including Israel.

Speaking at a press conference end of a nuclear summit in Washington, Obama said that the world was safer today as result of the convention's achievements.

“We have seized the opportunity,” Obama said at the conclusion of a two-day summit on nuclear security in Washington. “The American people will be safer and the world will be more secure.”

When asked about Israel's nuclear program, Obama at first refused to address the issue, instead insisting to talk about the US and its commitment to reducing American nuclear weapon stockpiles.

"Initially you were talking about US behavior, and then suddenly we're talking about Israel. Let me talk about the United States," the president said. "I do think that as part of the NPT, our obligation, as the largest nuclear power in the world, is to take steps to reducing our nuclear stockpile. And that's what the START treaty was about, sending a message that we are going to meet our obligations…as far as Israel goes, I'm not going to comment on their program.

However, although initially saying he will not address Israel's nuclear program, Obama continued, pointing out that the US is calling on all nations to sign the NPT.

"What I'm going to point to is the fact that consistently we have urged all countries to become members of the NPT. So there's no contradiction there," he said. "And so whether we're talking about Israel or any other country, we think that becoming part of the NPT is important. And that, by the way, is not a new position. That's been a consistent position of the United States government, even prior to my administration."

Copyright © Yedioth Internet. All rights reserved.

And Then, there is the USS Liberty Incident

Forty Years Later

Searching for the Truth About the USS Liberty


Forty years ago this week, I was asked to investigate the heaviest attack on an American ship since World War II. As senior legal counsel to the Navy Court of Inquiry it was my job to help uncover the truth regarding Israel's June 8th 1967 bombing of the USS Liberty.

On that sunny, clear day 40 years ago, Israel's combined air and naval forces attacked our American intelligence-gathering ship for two hours, inflicting 70 percent casualties. Thirty four American sailors died and 172 were injured. The USS Liberty remained afloat only by the crew's heroic efforts.

Israel claimed it was an accident. Yet I know from personal conversations with the late Admiral Isaac C. Kidd -- president of the Court of Inquiry -- that President Johnson and Secretary of Defense McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of "mistaken identity".

The ensuing cover-up has haunted us for forty years. What does it imply for our national security, not to mention our ability to honestly broker peace in the Middle East, when we cannot question Israel's actions even when they kill Americans?

On June 8th, survivors of Israel's cruel attack will gather in Washington, DC to honor their dead shipmates as well as the mothers, sisters, widows and children they left behind. They will continue to ask for a fair and impartial congressional inquiry that, for the first time, would allow the survivors themselves to testify publicly.

For decades, I have remained silent. I am a military man and when orders come in from the Secretary of Defense and President of the United States, I follow them. However, attempts to rewrite history and concern for my country compel me to share the truth.

Admiral Kidd and I were given only one week to gather evidence for the Navy's official investigation, though we both estimated that a proper Court of Inquiry would take at least six months.

We boarded the crippled ship at sea and interviewed survivors. The evidence was clear. We both believed with certainty that this attack was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew.

I am certain the Israeli pilots and commanders who had ordered the attack knew the ship was American. I saw the bullet-riddled American flag that had been raised by the crew after their first flag had been shot down completely. I heard testimony that made it clear the Israelis intended there be no survivors. Not only did they attack with napalm, gunfire, and missiles, Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned at close range three life rafts that had been launched in an attempt to save the most seriously wounded.

I am outraged at the efforts of Israel's apologists to claim this attack was a case of "mistaken identity."

Admiral Kidd told me that after receiving the President's cover-up orders, he was instructed to sit down with two civilians from either the White House or the Defense Department, and rewrite portions of the Court's findings. He said, "Ward, they're not interested in the facts. It's a political matter and we cannot talk about it." We were to "put a lid on it" and caution everyone involved never to speak of it again.

I know that the Court of Inquiry transcript that has been released to the public is not the same one that I certified and sent to Washington. I know this because it was necessary, due to the exigencies of time, to hand correct and initial a substantial number of pages. I have examined the released version of the transcript and did not see any pages that bore my hand corrections and initials. Also, the original did not have any deliberately blank pages, as the released version does. In addition, the testimony of Lt. Lloyd Painter concerning the deliberate machine-gunning of the life rafts by the Israeli torpedo boat crews, which I distinctly recall being given at the Court of Inquiry and including in the original transcript, is now missing.

I join the survivors in their call for an honest inquiry. Why is there no room to question Israel even when they kill Americans -- in the halls of Congress?

Let the survivors testify. Let me testify. Let former intelligence officers testify that they received real-time Hebrew translations of Israeli commanders instructing their pilots to sink "the American ship".

Surely uncovering the truth about what happened to American servicemen in a bloody attack is more important than protecting Israel. And surely forty years is long enough to wait.

Ward Boston served as chief counsel to the Navy's Court of Inquiry into the attack on USS Liberty and as a naval aviator in World War II on the carrier Yorktown, and as an FBI agent prior to his assignment to the Navy's Judge Advocates General Corps. He is a graduate of the Law School of the College of William and Mary, and a resident of Coronado, California.

For more information see this story in Navy Times by Bryan Jordan.
[Or, just google USS Liberty.]

Steve Earle- Rich Man's War

Jimmy joined the army ‘cause he had no place to go
There ain’t nobody hirin’
‘round here since all the jobs went
down to Mexico
Reckoned that he’d learn himself a trade maybe see the world
Move to the city someday and marry a black haired girl
Somebody somewhere had another plan
Now he’s got a rifle in his hand
Rollin’ into Baghdad wonderin’ how he got this far
Just another poor boy off to fight a rich man’s war

Bobby had an eagle and a flag tattooed on his arm
Red white and blue to the bone when he landed in Kandahar
Left behind a pretty young wife and a baby girl
A stack of overdue bills and went off to save the world
Been a year now and he’s still there
Chasin’ ghosts in the thin dry air
Meanwhile back at home the finance company took his car
Just another poor boy off to fight a rich man’s war

When will we ever learn
When will we ever see
We stand up and take our turn
And keep tellin’ ourselves we’re free

Ali was the second son of a second son
Grew up in Gaza throwing bottles and rocks when the tanks would come
Ain’t nothin’ else to do around here just a game children play
Somethin’ ‘bout livin’ in fear all your life makes you hard that way

He answered when he got the call
Wrapped himself in death and praised Allah
A fat man in a new Mercedes drove him to the door
Just another poor boy off to fight a rich man’s war

Sarangel Music (ASCAP)