Tuesday, November 28, 2006

World on Fire

The Voice of the White House

Washington. D.C., November 26, 2006:” I have been talking about our imminent plans to institute a putsch in Baghdad, oust and “permanently remove” the current Iraqi government and replace it with a well-known Sunni general officer.

The CIA has been fomenting this for the past three months, on Bush’s orders, because he views the current government as “not responsive” to his views and, worse, in collusion with elements in Iraq that are hostile to the United States.

They are laying the groundwork here in Washington to prepare the PR way for this “urgent change of government,” and the chinless geeks in the Pentagon’s Public Relations division have sent out helpful directives to the captive press indicating the necessity for this radical change.

The new general, whose name I know and will publish, has agreed to “materially aid” American interests on the condition that he and his claque be allowed to govern without interference and who is certainly expected to slaughter all the Shiites in Iraq or drive them into Iran.

This, too, is a policy formulated by both Bush and Cheney. The Sunnis were always cozy with the U.S. government, back when the CIA hired Saddam to attack Iran and God alone know how much U.S,. taxpayer’s money found its way into his pocket.

The CIA encouraged Saddam to use nerve gas on the Iranian military units, even supplying him with a good deal of it…which he did not use on the Iranians but did use on the rebellious Kurds.

If Saddam had been smart, he would have exposed the CIA and the DoS plus Bush Senior years ago. George Jr. doesn’t want to “establish Western Democracy” Iraq. He and his Zionist Neocon friends wanted to grab all their oil and use the country as a permanent military base in the Near East so as to be able to work with Israel in terrorizing other Arab countries and be able to launch attacks on any one of them that crossed their paths.

Now, I laugh to read that Cheney is being nice to the Saud Royal Family at the very same time the CIA is supporting yet another coup d’Etat in Saudi Arabia to replace the corrupt Saud dynasty with Waahibists.

One would think that this would be an act of rank idiocy because the latter are fanatic fundamentalists but then no one ever accused the CIA of having any more collective and working brains than a dead turtle.

Of course we won’t get any more oil from Saudi Arabia if there is a régime change but the oil is running out there and no one wants to talk about it.

The new Democratic rulers are still involved with pork issues but not like the thieving Republicans who actually chased the lobbyists around on K Street, offering their decaying and sagging bodies for sale for the price of a good dinner at the Jockey Club. And if the Democrats are fuzzy and liberal, at least they are not murderous ideologues who start wars, steal everything but a hot stove, slaughter legions of young Americans and even larger numbers of unarmed civilians like Josef Stalin in his glory days.

Or Saddam Hussein with his CIA nerve gas.”

Note: To the small claque of professional unbelievers who do not like the Voice of the White House and claim it never has any basis in truth (as if they were capable of discerning truth) we are publishing a selection of current news stories that are very obviously laying the foundation for the coming CIA putsch. Ed.

Iraqi Coalition on Brink of Collapse as Country Descends Towards Civil War

· Key ally tells PM to choose between him and Bush

· Iranian leaders to meet Talabani at Tehran talks

November 25, 2006

by Jonathan Steele in Irbil, Robert Tait in Tehran and Julian Borger in Washington


Iraq's precarious government was teetering yesterday as a powerful Shia militia leader threatened to withdraw support after sectarian killings reached a new peak and the country lurched closer to all-out civil war.

The prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, was forced to choose between his US protectors and an essential pillar of his coalition, when Moqtada al-Sadr declared his intention to walk out, potentially bringing down the government, if Mr Maliki went ahead with a meeting with President George Bush in Jordan next week.

Mr Maliki, a moderate Shia, faced the dilemma as the cycle of killings reached new levels of savagery. Yesterday, there were reports that at least 60 Sunnis had died in revenge killings and suicide attacks, including one episode in which Shia militiamen seized six Sunnis as they were leaving a mosque, doused them with petrol and set them alight, while soldiers reportedly stood by. In another attack, gunmen burned mosques and killed more than 30 Sunnis in Baghdad's Hurriya district before US forces intervened.

The violence added new urgency to a regional summit in Tehran this weekend on Iraq's fate. Iraq's neighbours, particularly Syria and Iran, have been accused of pulling strings in the Iraqi chaos, and Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is today due to play host to his Iraqi counterpart, Jalal Talabani.

The Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad, was invited but reports from Damascus suggested he would not attend. Syria restored diplomatic relations with Iraq this week after a 24-year gap.

In a reflection of the importance Iran attaches to the summit, Mr Talabani is also expected to meet the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the ultimate say on foreign policy.

Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, predicted that Mr Talabani's visit would produce "important agreements". He described the violence and the US-British occupying forces as "two sides of the same coin" adding: "The two issues should be taken into consideration jointly and a comprehensive solution found."

Observers in Tehran said the government there hoped to use its summit as an overture to Washington. "The Iranian leadership are trying to use Mr Talabani, who has a special role inside Iraq and has never criticised Iran, as a mediator between Tehran and Washington," said Saeed Leylaz, a political analyst. "Mr Ahmadinejad is hopeful that he can attract America's attention through Iraq."

One unknown quantity at the summit will be how much sway the Ahmadinejad government has over Mr Sadr, who visited Tehran last January and met senior Iranian officials, including the country's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani.

The broader question, growing more urgent each day, is whether anyone can now control the cycle of violence. Thursday was the most deadly day for Iraqi civilians, and morgue statistics showed that the past month has been the bloodiest since the 2003 invasion, according to the UN, with 3,709 civilians killed.

Since taking office, Mr Maliki has been under constant US pressure to disarm the Mahdi army and other Shia militias, while remaining beholden to them to stay in power. The Sadr party demanded yesterday that Mr Maliki "specify the nature of its relations with the occupation forces", demanded a timetable for a US withdrawal, and issued its ultimatum over the scheduled Bush-Maliki meeting in Jordan next Wednesday and Thursday.

"There is no reason to meet the criminal who is behind the terrorism," said Faleh Hassan Shansal, a Sadrist MP.

The White House appeared determined that the meeting should go ahead, after President Bush attends a Nato summit in Latvia on Tuesday. "The United States is committed to helping the Iraqis and President Bush and prime minister Maliki will meet next week to discuss the security situation in Iraq," said Scott Stanzel, a deputy White House spokesman.

Mr Sadr's people have six cabinet seats and 30 members in the 275-member parliament. Their vote in the intra-Shia haggling helped to select Mr Maliki as prime minister over other Shia rivals.

Mr Sadr used Friday prayers in the main mosque in Kufa, his headquarters in the Shia heartland south of Baghdad, to focus on Sunni leaders. He urged them to help end the slide into sectarian civil war.

Appealing directly to Harith al-Dari, the leader of the Association of Muslim Scholars, a radical Sunni organisation which has always denounced the US occupation, Mr Sadr told the congregation: "He has to release a fatwa prohibiting the killing of Shias so as to preserve Muslim blood and must prohibit membership of al-Qaida or any other organisation that has made Shias their enemies."

Hoyer: U.S. commitment to Iraq is finite

November 25, 2006
by Natasha T. Metzler
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - American support for the fledgling Iraqi government is not unconditional, and

Iraq should expect changes in the U.S. role, incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Saturday.

"In the days ahead, the Iraqis must make the tough decisions and accept responsibility for their future," Hoyer, D-Md., said during the weekly Democratic radio address. "And the Iraqis must know: Our commitment, while great, is not unending."

Hoyer's comments were taped Wednesday, before an escalation in sectarian violence in Iraq. At least 215 Shiites were killed in bomb and mortar attacks Thursday in Sadr City. Shiites retaliated Friday by burning six Sunni Arabs alive and killing 19 others in attacks on Sunni mosques.

Once in power, Hoyer said, the Democrats hope to work with Republicans and the Bush administration to change direction in Iraq war plans, "because, clearly, the current strategy is not working."

Democrats will also seek to reach across the aisle to accomplish their other goals. One of their first priorities, Hoyer said, is to pass lobbying and ethics reform.

"We will restore civility and integrity to our legislative process, and transparency and accountability to our government," he said.

Other Democratic goals in the new Congress include:

_Increasing the minimum wage.

_Enacting the Sept. 11 Commission's security recommendations.

_Allowing the government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare patients.

_Cutting energy industry tax breaks.

_Lowering financial hurdles for access to higher education.

"Democrats pledge to address the concerns and issues that affect the lives of working families," Hoyer said.

Lawmakers lose patience with Iraq gov't

November 26, 2006
by Ben Feller

WASHINGTON - Congressional leaders displayed eroding patience in the Iraqi government on Sunday, adding pressure on President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to find a faster path to peace when they meet this week.

It is not too late. The United States can still extricate itself honorably from an impending disaster in Iran ," Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a potential presidential contender in 2008, said in urging for a planned withdrawal of U.S. troops.

“If the president fails to build a bipartisan foundation for an exit strategy, America will pay a high price for this blunder – one that we will have difficulty recovering from in the years ahead,” Hagel wrote in Saturday’s Washington Post.

As the U.S. involvement in Iraq surpassed the length of America's participation in World War II, lawmakers have dwindling confidence in the U.S.-supported Iraqi government. It was the deadliest week of sectarian fighting in Baghdad since the war began in March 2003.

"I think what we've got to do is go around the Maliki government in certain situations," said Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, another possible presidential candidate. "Let's work with other groups, and let's get regional buy-in into this."

Bush, after a NATO summit in Europe, plans to meet with al-Maliki on Wednesday and Thursday in Jordan. That summit, coupled with Vice President Dick Cheney's trip to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, is evidence of the administration's stepped-up effort to bring stability to the region.

The host of the meeting, Jordan's King Abdullah, said Sunday the problems in the Middle East go beyond the war in Iraq. He said much of the region soon could become engulfed in violence unless the central issues are addressed quickly.

The king said he was hopeful the leaders will find a way to reduce the level of violence.

"We hope there will be something dramatic. The challenges, obviously, in front of both of them are immense," he said.

Iraq's leaders promised Sunday to track down those responsible for the recent attacks, and al-Maliki urged his national unity government of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds to curb the violence by stopping their public disputes.

The Iraqi prime minister is under pressure from Shiite politicians loyal to the radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr who have threatened to boycott parliament and the Cabinet if al-Maliki meets with Bush.

"This is all political posturing. It's all red herring. It's an anti-threat. This is a very stable government," responded Iraq's national security adviser, Mouwafak al-Rubaie. He said he had no doubt the prime minister would meet with Bush in Jordan.

As for Bush, some of the toughest criticism is coming from within his own party.

"We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam," said Hagel, a combat veteran of that war. "Honorable intentions are not policies and plans."

Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, called Iraq the worst U.S. foreign policy decision since Vietnam. He said Democrats do not have a quick answer and any solution must be bipartisan.

"It is time to tell the Iraqis that unless they're willing to disband the militias and the death squads, unless they're willing to stand up and govern their country in a responsible fashion, America is not going to stay there indefinitely," Durbin said.

That theme — pressuring al-Maliki and his government — seemed to unify Republicans and Democrats."I think we're going to have to be very aggressive and specific with him," said Sen. Trent Lott, R. Miss, the incoming No 2 GOP leader. “and if he doesn’t show real leadership, doesn’t try to bring the situation under control - if, in fact, he becomes a part of the problem — we're going to have to make some tough decisions."

Yet Rep. Duncan Hunter, the outgoing chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said the United States will win the conflict in the long run by supporting a free government in Iraq. Before any decisions are made on reducing U.S. troop levels, he said, more U.S.-trained Iraqi battalions should be moved into the heavy-fighting areas of Baghdad

"Saddle those guys up," Hunter said. "Move them into the fight."

Bring back Saddam Hussein

November 27, 2006
Los Angeles Times

The debate about Iraq has moved past the question of whether it was a mistake (everybody knows it was) to the more depressing question of whether it is possible to avert total disaster. Every self-respecting foreign policy analyst has his own plan for Iraq. The trouble is that these tracts are inevitably unconvincing, except when they argue why all the other plans would fail. It's all terribly grim.

So allow me to propose the unthinkable: Maybe, just maybe, our best option is to restore Saddam Hussein to power.

Yes, I know. Hussein is a psychotic mass murderer. Under his rule, Iraqis were shot, tortured and lived in constant fear. Bringing the dictator back would sound cruel if it weren't for the fact that all those things are also happening now, probably on a wider scale.

At the outset of the war, I had no high hopes for Iraqi democracy, but I paid no attention to the possibility that the Iraqis would end up with a worse government than the one they had. It turns out, however, that there is something more awful than totalitarianism, and that is endless chaos and civil war.

Nobody seems to foresee the possibility of restoring order to Iraq. Here is the basic dilemma: The government is run by Shiites, and the security agencies have been overrun by militias and death squads. The government is strong enough to terrorize the Sunnis into rebellion but not strong enough to crush this rebellion.

Meanwhile, we have admirably directed our efforts into training a professional and nonsectarian Iraqi police force and encouraging reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites. But we haven't succeeded. We may be strong enough to stop large-scale warfare or genocide, but we're not strong enough to stop pervasive chaos.

Hussein, however, has a proven record in that department. It may well be possible to reconstitute the Iraqi army and state bureaucracy we disbanded, and if so, that may be the only force capable of imposing order in Iraq.

Chaos and order each have a powerful self-sustaining logic. When people perceive a lack of order, they act in ways that further the disorder. If a Sunni believes that he is in danger of being killed by Shiites, he will throw his support to Sunni insurgents who he sees as the only force that can protect him. The Sunni insurgents, in turn, will scare Shiites into supporting their own anti-Sunni militias.

And it's not just Iraqis who act this way. You could find a smaller-scale version of this dynamic in an urban riot here in the United States. But when there's an expectation of social order, people will act in a civilized fashion.

Restoring the expectation of order in Iraq will take some kind of large-scale psychological shock. The Iraqi elections were expected to offer that shock, but they didn't. The return of Saddam Hussein — a man every Iraqi knows, and whom many of them fear — would do the trick.

The disadvantages of reinstalling Hussein are obvious, but consider some of the upside. He would not allow the country to be dominated by Iran, which is the United States' major regional enemy, a sponsor of terrorism and an instigator of warfare between Lebanon and Israel. Hussein was extremely difficult to deal with before the war, in large part because he apparently believed that he could defeat any U.S. invasion if it came to that. Now he knows he can't. And he'd probably be amenable because his alternative is death by hanging.

I know why restoring a brutal tyrant to power is a bad idea. Somebody explain to me why it's worse than all the others.

Iraq's fate hanging on a new axis

November 23, 2006
by Kaveh L Afrasiabi
Asia Times

While the US is actively exploring alternative options to salvage its intervention in Iraq, regional realities are dictating their own dynamic, not necessarily in tune with the United States' objectives. Slowly but surely, a new realignment is shaping up that is making Washington nervous - a Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus axis.

The possibility of such a "strategic alliance" being formed, to quote a headline in Tehran's conservative daily, Kayhan, is high, given this weekend's summit in Tehran that brings together the presidents of Iran, Iraq and Syria. (That's two out of three of the United States' "axis of evil" - Iran and Iraq, with the third being North Korea.) This comes at a volatile and uncertain time marked with the continuing bloodbath in Iraq, growing tension in Lebanon and the stalemated Arab-Israeli conflict.

On Tuesday, Iraq announced that it was restoring full diplomatic relations with Syria after a 26-year break, saying the move would increase cooperation on security.

The Kayhan editorial said, "America's fear of the trilateral meeting is very natural, since this alliance can translate into a new crisis for the United States at a time of the breakdown of the system of decision-making in that country." It further stated that while Iraq's deadly instability was the immediate reason for the Tehran summit, the issue of "strategic alliance" among the three countries went well beyond that.

Predictably, the US, which has been prodding both Syria and Iran to play a more constructive role in Iraq, has been lukewarm to Tehran's initiative for the trilateral meeting. Various US government spokespersons have repeated the old accusations of Iran's and Syria's "meddlings" in Iraq, with a Pentagon official claiming that some 70 to 100 foreign fighters crossed into Iraq from Syria each month.

This coincides with new reports in the Israeli and Western press on Iran's alleged al-Qaeda connections, vigorously denied by Tehran, which insists that it has itself been a victim of al-Qaeda terrorism in the past and that the Wahhabi terrorists are vehemently anti-Shi'ite.

Meanwhile, on the eve of the summit, the assassination of Pierre Gemayel, a fierce Christian and anti-Syria leader in Lebanon, has been seized on by US President George W Bush, who has pointed the finger of blame toward both Iran and Syria. This adds to the complexity of the Middle East scene wrought with multiple, simultaneous crises.

There is now a growing and realistic fear of the "Iraqization" of Lebanon and the "Lebanonization" of Iraq, with both countries descending to the depth of a bloody civil war far worse than anything now.

From the prisms of Tehran and Damascus, Israel is the only country that potentially benefits from such a nightmare scenario that they believe must be avoided at all costs. Yet the fragile truce in Lebanon may work in the United States' favor as a lever with regard to Syria and Iran with respect to Iraq, given the fact that unlike Tehran and Damascus, Washington has no intrinsic interests at stake in Lebanon.

Thus it could be that Lebanon will prove to be the Achilles' heel of the emerging axis. Clearly, the complex inter-relationships between Iraq and Lebanon require further scrutiny by strategists in both Tehran and Damascus, nowadays pressured by Washington as if they have identical interests.

Not so, and recently in his major foreign-policy speech, British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a point of referring to the divergent interests of Iran and Syria in the region. This resonates with the view of some political analysts in Tehran, such as Professor Kamran Taromi of Tehran University. He has written: "Iran may very much prefer to have stronger links to the Arabs which are neither at the mercy of the [Syrian Bashar al-]Assad regime nor constrained by Syrian interests. Iraq could provide just that."

The issue, then, is about Damascus' preparedness to enter a new strategic alliance with Iran and the Shi'ite-dominated new Iraq that would tilt the regional balance primarily in Iran's favor and likely diminish the influence of Saudi Arabia and, to a lesser extent, Syria's former ally, Egypt.

The driving forces

Tehran and Damascus agree on the hegemonic intentions behind the United States' invasion of Iraq and share fears of the US leviathan putting itself at the disposal of Israel, which pushed vigorously for the 2003 invasion through its vast network of influence-peddlers in the US. However, there are solid grounds for their present initiative toward setting new patterns in inter-regional relations, instead of passively observing the US-Israel machinations for a "greater Middle East" dominated by their particular geostrategic interests.

Doubtless, another common fear is the political and security meltdown inside Iraq, aggravating Iranian and Syrian fears of spill-over insecurity, given their porous borders with the "new Iraq" - which increasingly looks like a stateless country partitioned into the competing fiefdoms of armed factions.

In fact, Iraq's insecurity is a double-edged sword, simultaneously affording the US a weapon with which to threaten Iran and Syria, both of which, in turn, use the same insecurity and the potential for even greater insecurity against the US-led coalition forces.

Concerning the latter, the Kayhan editorial cited above poignantly states that there is little terrorism in the "nine Shi'ite provinces and five Kurdish provinces" of Iraq today, and that Muqtada al-Sadr's Medhi Army has succeeded in creating a protective ring for Baghdad's million and a half population. Another important point raised by Kayhan is: "Americans are strongly in favor of separating Iran's nuclear dossier from Iraq's security dossier, so that they can pressure Iran at one point and yet take advantage of Iran's support elsewhere. But this is not possible." This, in turn, raises another question: Does Damascus entirely share Iran's interest in linking the two issues?

The answer to this question touches on the Syria-Israel conflict and the desirability of Iranian (nuclear) support or even deterrence for Syria against Israel, which has shown absolutely no tangible sign of movement toward peace with Syria. This assumes, for the sake of argument, that one day Tehran decides to go nuclear full-force based on strategic calculations.

Consequently, irrespective of much talk of "strategic uncertainties" in the Middle East, Syria and Iran are convinced about Israel's warmongering and sub-imperialist intentions and its successful "rent-a-superpower" manipulation of the US. This drives Syria's and Iran's proactive search for new tools of deterrence and regime survival, including, but by no means limited to, their common "spoiler role" in Iraq.

But there are limits to that role for both Tehran and Damascus, which must calculate the intended and unintended consequences of runaway insecurity in Iraq spreading beyond Iraq's long borders with both neighbors.

After all, the bottom line is that Syria and Iran are of one mind with respect to the twin pillars of their Iraq policy, that is, Iraq's national unity and territorial integrity. Syria is fearful of Iraq's disintegration impacting its nearly 2 million Kurds, in light of the Syrian government's crackdown on Kurdish protesters in March 2004. This could erupt again if Iraq's Kurds reach full autonomy.

Iran, on the other hand, is rattled by the Americans' and Israelis' open support for Kurdish irredentism inside Iran, and this forms yet another common bond among Tehran, Damascus and the central government in Iraq, which has a Kurdish president (Jalal Talabani) who is due to visit Tehran shortly.

Challenges and opportunities for Tehran

As far as Tehran is concerned, the Iraq crisis is both a regional and an international crisis representing a multi-dimensional policy challenge. The visible intensification of chaos in Iraq poses a major threat to Iran's national-security interests that requires from Iran a multi-layered response at both regional and international levels.

No wonder Tehran's leaders are pushing for a multilateral approach toward the Iraq crisis as a key "damage control" measure that will, it is hoped, minimize the potential for damage and attain a better regional situation in the (near) future, instead of the currently growing quagmire.

In his recent Friday-prayers speech, Iran's former president, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, pointed at the irony of the US seeking Iran's support to "tow them out of the bottom" of Iraq's morass, openly wondering what incentives Iran would have to do so. A response to this question was given by James Baker, the former US secretary of state and now head of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group (ISG). In a recent meeting with Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Javad Zarif, he reminded Iran that Iraq's crisis is also a crisis for neighboring Iran.

Reportedly the ISG will recommend direct US dialogue with Iran and Syria over Iraq, and Baker and his colleagues must now be encouraged that both countries are showing serious signs of improving relations with Iraq, reflected most vividly in Syria's initiative to normalize diplomatic relations with Baghdad after 24 years.

Thus the weekend's summit in Tehran may prove a prelude to dialogue with the US, which continues to occupy Iraq at exorbitant price and yet without any prospect of "military victory", to paraphrase US statesman Henry Kissinger.

Turning the challenge of Iraq's (in)security into an opportunity for Tehran and Damascus, a modus vivendi with the US is now a distinct possibility, although opposition will come as stern objections from Israel and the pro-Israel forces encircling the White House.

Yet irrespective of the latter, and the relentless Israeli disinformation campaign aimed at torpedoing any Western policy shift on Iran, eg, by spreading the rumors of an Iranian nuclear test per a report in the Jerusalem Post, Iran continues to push for its revised and invigorated Iraq policy based primarily on its highly intertwined Iraq and US policies.

What the US invasion of Iraq managed to do almost overnight was to turn the long-standing Iran-Iraq dispute into an extension of Iran-US relations, as a result of which today it is nearly impossible to disentangle the two issues. This is at least so as long as Iran perceives the "new Iraq" less as an independent state and more as a continuously occupied state that it must penetrate and create zones of influence both to deter the US threat and to enhance its regional standing.

"Let us not forget that the Iraq crisis today is also a crisis of American hegemony," a Tehran political analyst told this author recently, adding that a net benefit of this "double crisis" for Iran has been the absence of an invasion by the US - the augment being that in all probability the US would have invaded Iran by now had it succeeded in Iraq.

Iran's dilemma, however, is that a complete failure of the US in Iraq is not in Iran's interests either, given Iran's fear of terrorism, mass refugees and irredentism from behind its vast western borders with Iraq. Tehran and the occupying powers may have their own interests in mind, but their common fear of Iraq's collapse is what could ultimately heal their great divide.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press) and co-author of "Negotiating Iran's Nuclear Populism", Brown Journal of World Affairs, Volume XII, Issue 2, Summer 2005, with Mustafa Kibaroglu. He also wrote "Keeping Iran's nuclear potential latent", Harvard International Review, and is author of Iran's Nuclear Program: Debating Facts Versus Fiction.

The Department of No Surprise

Ex-employee says FAA warned before 9/11

November 24, 2006
by Catherine Rampell,

From 1995 to 2001, Bogdan Dzakovic served as a team leader on the Federal Aviation Administration's Red Team. Set up by Congress to help the FAA think like terrorists, the elite squad tested airport security systems.

In the years leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Dzakovic says, the team was able to breach security about 90% of the time, sneaking bombs and submachine guns past airport screeners. Expensive new bomb detection machines consistently failed, he says.

The team repeatedly warned the FAA of the potential for security breaches and hijackings but was told to cover up its findings, Dzakovic says.

Eventually, the FAA began notifying airports in advance when the Red Team would be doing its undercover testing, Dzakovic says. He and other Red Team members approached the Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General, the General Accounting Office and members of Congress about the FAA's alleged misconduct regarding the Red Team's aviation security tests. No one did anything, he says.

Then came 9/11.

"Immediately (after 9/11), numerous government officials from FAA as well as other government agencies made defensive statements such as, 'How could we have known this was going to happen?' " Dzakovic testified later before the 9/11 Commission. "The truth is, they did know."

About a month after 9/11, he filed a complaint with the Office of the Special Counsel, the government agency that investigates whistle-blower cases. It alleged that the FAA had covered up Red Team findings. A subsequent Department of Transportation Inspector General's report, ordered by the OSC in response to Dzakovic's complaint, concluded that the "Red Team program was grossly mismanaged and that the result was a serious compromise of public safety."

After filing his complaint, Dzakovic was removed from his Red Team leadership position. He now works for the Transportation Security Administration, which has responsibility for airport security. His primary assignments include tasks such as hole-punching, updating agency phonebooks and "thumb-twiddling," he says. At least he hasn't received a pay cut, he says. He makes about $110,000 a year for what he describes as "entry-level idiot work."

TSA spokesman Darrin Kayser would not comment on Dzakovic's allegations that he was retaliated against for being a whistle-blower. He said in an e-mail, "While TSA transitioned functions out of FAA, many employees were doing work outside of their pre-9/11 duties. Once TSA was established, Mr. Dzakovic did find a productive position within the agency and has been a valued contributor in our efforts to provide the highest level of security in all modes of transportation."

Financial Section

Dollar loses ground against euro

November 24, 2006
BBC News

The dollar has plunged to its lowest level against the euro since April 2005 amid concerns for the US economy.

The euro surged to $1.3086 against the dollar, with many other currencies following suit.

Sterling rose almost 1% to $1.93, the yen hit a two-month high and Russia's rouble rose to a seven-year high.

Analysts have voiced concerns about the US economy after the White House downgraded its growth forecasts amid a sharp slowdown in the housing market.

Meanwhile, expectations that the European Central Bank is once again about to raise interest rates gave a lift to the euro.

Recent figures showing an unexpected rise in German business sentiment - its seventh quarterly rise in a row - also helped. So did French data showing that business confidence held at five-year highs in November.

However, traders added that thin trade as a result of the US Thanksgiving holiday might have benefited the euro.

"For the time being, the news flow is favouring the euro. If we close above $1.30 today, the key will be if we reject all of this as a Thanksgiving phenomenon or not," said Ian Gunner, head of foreign exchange research at Mellon Bank.


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