| 5 Facts To Commit To Memory Before Tonight’s Foreign Policy Debate!

5 Facts To Commit To Memory Before Tonight’s Foreign Policy Debate ~ Ben Armbruster, Think Progress.

 


Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will debate foreign policy tonight. We’ve chronicled Romney’s foreign policy positions throughout the campaign here and below are five facts we think you should have on hand during tonight’s third and final presidential debate:

1. New reporting finds that protest against anti-Islam video played role in Benghazi attacks. Facts have been lost in the Republicans’ scramble to politicize the attacks in Libya last month that killed three Americans. It turns out that, according to the latest reports, there’s “no evidence” that the attack was ordered by al Qaeda and the attack grew out of a protest against a video disparaging the Prophet Mohammed.

2. Romney harshly criticized Obama’s pledge to send U.S. troops into Pakistan to get Osama bin Laden. In 2007, Romney attacked Obama for saying he’d order U.S. forces into Pakistan to kill or capture bin Laden, just like he did in May, 2011. “I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours,” Romney said in 2007. The former Massachusetts governor also said in 2007 referring to bin Laden: “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”

3. Iran is not enriching weapons-grade uranium. Iran is currently enriching low-grade uranium (against the demands of the United Nations), but Israeli and U.S. intelligence and the International Atomic Energy Agency all agree that Iran has yet to decide on whether to build nuclear weapons and enrich to the high grade needed for bomb. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the U.S. and the international community would know if Iran makes that decision and that it would take “a little more than a year” to construct a nuclear device.

4. Romney will increase military spending by $2.1 trillion, with no plan to pay for it. Romneyplans on increasing military spending by $2.1 trillion. One adviser repeatedly dodged questionson how Romney plans to pay for it while another said that Romney would maintain war spending indefinitely to make up the cost. CAP has charted the numbers:

5. Israeli leaders have praised Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security: “I don’t think that anyone can raise any question mark about the devotion of this president to the security of Israel,” said Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. “I think under President Obama we have the best relationship on the issue of security. Never were the security […] needs better met than today under president Obama,” said Israeli President Shimon Peres.

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| Wag the Dog: Shedding more American blood for Israel: The Entebbe Option!

The Entebbe Option

How the U.S. military thinks Israel might strike Iran. ~ MARK PERRY, Foreign Policy.

While no one in the Barack Obama administration knows whether Israel will strike Iran’s nuclear program, America’s war planners are preparing for a wide array of potential Israeli military options — while also trying to limit the chances of the United States being drawn into a potentially bloody conflict in the Persian Gulf.

“U.S.-Israeli intelligence sharing on Iran has been extraordinary and unprecedented,” a senior Pentagon war planner told me. “But when it comes to actually attacking Iran, what Israel won’t tell us is what they plan to do, or how they plan to do it. It’s their most closely guarded secret.” Israel’s refusal to share its plans has persisted despite repeated requests from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a senior Pentagon civilian said.

The result is that, at a time of escalating public debate in both the United States and Israel around the possibility of an armed strike on Iran, high-level Pentagon war planners have had to “fly blind” in sketching out what Israel might do — and the challenges its actions will pose for the U.S. military.  “What we do is a kind of reverse engineering,” the senior planner said. “We take a look at their [Israeli] assets and capabilities, put ourselves in their shoes and ask how we would act if we had what they have. So while we’re guessing, we have a pretty good idea of what they can and can’t do.”

According to several high-level U.S. military and civilian intelligence sources, U.S. Central Command and Pentagon war planners have concluded that there are at least three possible Israeli attack options, including a daring and extremely risky special operations raid on Iran’s nuclear facility at Fordow — an “Iranian Entebbe” they call it, after Israel’s 1976 commando rescue of Israeli hostages held in Uganda. In that scenario, Israeli commandos would storm the complex, which houses many of Iran’s centrifuges; remove as much enriched uranium as they found or could carry; and plant explosives to destroy the facility on their way out.

Centcom, which oversees U.S. military assets in the Middle East, has been given the lead U.S. role in studying the possible Israeli strike. Over the past year its officers have met several times at Centcom headquarters in Tampa, Florida, and with Fifth Fleet naval officers in Doha, Qatar, to discuss their conclusions, the sources say.

The military analysis of Israeli war plans has been taking place separate from — but concurrent with– the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s insistence that the United States present Tehran with a “red line,” which, if crossed by Iran’s nuclear program, would trigger a U.S. military strike. “That’s a political question, not a war question,” the senior Pentagon war planner said. “It’s not in our lane. We’re assuming that an Israeli attack could come at any time.”

But it’s not clear that Israel, even with its vaunted military, can pull off a successful strike: Netanyahu may not simply want the United States on board politically; he may need the United States to join militarily. “All this stuff about ‘red lines’ and deadlines is just Israel’s way of trying to get us to say that when they start shooting, we’ll start shooting,” retired Admiral Bobby Ray Inman told me. “Bottom line? We can do this and they can’t, because we have what the Israelis don’t have,” retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner said.

One thing is clear: the U.S. military, according to my sources, currently has no interest in a preventive strike. “The idea that we’ll attack with Israel is remote, so you can take that off your list of options,” former Centcom commander Joe Hoar told me. Nor will the United States join an Israeli attack once it starts, the senior U.S. planner said. “We know there are senior Iranians egging for a fight with us, particularly in their Navy,” a retired Centcom officer added. “And we’ll give them one if they want one, but we’re not going to go piling in simply because the Israelis want us to.”

That puts the military shoulder to shoulder with the president. Obama and the military may have clashed on other issues, like the Afghan surge, but when it comes to Iran, they are speaking with one voice: They don’t want Iran to get a nuclear weapon, they don’t want Israel to start a war over it, and they don’t believe an Israeli attack should automatically trigger U.S. intervention. But, if they are to avoid becoming part of Israel’s plans, they first need to know what those plans are.

Three high-level U.S. military and intelligence sources have told me that Centcom has identified three options for Israel should it decide to take preventive military action against Iran.

The first and most predictable option calls for a massed Israeli Air Force bombing campaign targeting key Iranian nuclear sites. Such an assault would be coupled with strikes from submarine-launched cruise missiles and Israeli-based medium-range Jericho II and long-range Jericho III missiles, according to a highly placed U.S. military officer. The attack may well be preceded by — or coupled with — a coordinated cyber and electronic warfare attack.

But planners for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Centcom have concluded that, because of limits to Israel’s military capabilities, such an aerial campaign could not be sustained. “They’ll have one shot, one time,” the U.S. military officer said. “That’s one time out and one time back. And that’s it.”

While Israel has 125 sophisticated F15I and F16I fighter-bombers, only the roughly 25 F15Is are capable of carrying the bunker-busting GBU-28 guided missile, which has the best chance of destroying Iran’s heavily fortified nuclear installations. And even then, each F15I can only carry a single munition.

This force, while lethal, is also modest. The Israeli Air Force would likely have to carefully pick and choose its targets, settling most probably on four: the heavy-water production plant at Arak, the uranium-enrichment centers at Fordow and Natanz, and the uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan, while leaving out the military site at Parchin and the nuclear reactor at Bushehr, which houses Russian technical experts.

The Israeli attack would also likely include the F16Is to knock down Iran’s air defense network, or perhaps drop other, less effective, bunker-busting munitions to reinforce the F15I sortie. Some of these F16Is, but not all of them, would be able to refuel from Israel’s seven to ten KC-707 tankers.

Even with that, and even with the best of luck (good weather, accurate targeting, sophisticated refueling, near total surprise, precise air-to-air interdiction, a minimum of accidents, and the successful destruction of Iran’s anti-aircraft capabilities), senior U.S. military officers say that Israel would only set back Iran’s nuclear capability by one to two years at best — not end it.

Which could be why Netanyahu is so anxious for the Obama administration to say when or if it would join an attack. As Hoar, the former Centcom commander, bluntly put it: “Compared to the United States, Israel doesn’t have a military.”

Included in the U.S. arsenal is the recently developed Massive Ordnance Penetrator, the GBU-57, which can punch through 200 feet of hardened concrete before detonating its 5,300-pound warhead. The United States, which recently developed the GBU-57, is rumored to have only about 20 in its inventory — but the Israelis have zero. “There’s a good reason for that,” Gardiner said. “Only a B-2 bomber can carry the 57.” He paused for effect: “You might know this, but it’s worth mentioning,” he said. “Israel doesn’t have any B-2s.”

Israel’s likely inability to destroy Iran’s nuclear capacity in a single stroke, even in a best-case scenario, has led U.S. war planners to speculate about a second, out-of-the-box, and extremely dangerous military option: what they’re calling an “Iranian Entebbe.”

In this scenario, the Israelis would forego a massed air attack and instead mount a high-risk but high-payoff commando raid that would land an elite Sayeret Matkal (special forces) unit outside of Iran’s enrichment facility at Fordow, near Qom. The unit — or other elite units like it — consisting of perhaps as many as 400 soldiers, would seize Iran’s enriched uranium for transport to Israel.

The operation’s success would depend on speed, secrecy, simplicity, and the credibility of Israeli intelligence. According to the Pentagon war planner, Israel’s access to intelligence on Iranian military and policy planning is unprecedented, as is their willingness to share it with U.S. intelligence officials.

The Israeli unit would be transported on as few as three and perhaps as many as six C-130 aircraft (which can carry a maximum of 70 troops) that would be protected by a “swarm” of well-armed F16Is, according to the scenario being considered by U.S. military officers. The C-130s would land in the desert near Fordow. The Israeli commandos would then defeat the heavily armed security personnel at the complex, penetrate its barriers and interdict any enemy units nearby, and seize the complex’s uranium for transport back to Israel. Prior to its departure, the commando unit would destroy the complex, obviating the need for any high-level bombing attack. (Senior U.S. military officers say that there are reports that some of the uranium at Fordow is stored as uranium hexafluoride gas, a chemical form used during the enrichment process. In that case, the material may be left in place when the commandos destroy the complex.)

“It’s doable, and they have to be thinking along these lines,” the highly placed U.S. military officer said. “The IDF’s special forces are the best asset Israel has.” That said, “In some scenarios,” the U.S. military planner who told me of the potential operation said, “there would be very high Israeli casualties because of nearby Republican Guard divisions. This operation could be quite bloody.”

Bloody or not, the Israeli leadership may not be quick to dismiss such an operation, given Israel’s history of using such units. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are former Sayeret Matkal officers, and recently Israeli Defense Forces head Benny Gantz (himself a Sayeret Matkal veteran)said the IDF had formed an elite special operations “Deep Corps” to strike far inside hostile territory. And, of course, it bears remembering that Netanyahu’s brother Yonatan was the sole casualty in Israel’s Entebbe operation.

The difficulty with the Entebbe-style option is that Israel would be forced to mount “a robust CSAR [combat search and rescue] capability” to support it, a senior JCS planner noted. That would mean landing other C-130s carrying helicopters that could pick up endangered commandos or retrieve downed aircraft crews. Such CSAR units would have to be deployed to nearby countries, “or even land in the Iraqi desert,” this senior officer said. This CSAR component complicates what might otherwise be a straightforward operation, as it involves other vulnerabilities — an “escalatory ladder” that Israel may not want to climb.

Skeptics of this option include Admiral Inman. “The Israelis could get to Entebbe,” he said, “but they can’t get to Iran. My sense is that the fact that the Israelis are even thinking about this operation shows that they realize that their first, bombing option won’t work. They’re desperately grasping for a military solution, and they know they don’t have one.”

But Colonel Gardiner believes this Entebbe-style operation is possible. “It’s a non-escalatory option, it’s entirely doable, and it’s not as dangerous as it seems,” he said. “We have to understand what Israel’s goal is in any attack on Iran. The whole point for Israel is to show that they can they can project power anywhere in the region. So let’s take a look at this from their perspective. There aren’t three divisions near Fordow, there’s one, and it’s dug in. It wouldn’t take the Iranians three hours to respond, it would take them three days. This reminds me of Osirak [the Iraqi nuclear reactor that Israel destroyed in a 1981 airstrike]. The last ones who wanted to admit that the Israelis did that were the Iraqis. That’ll be the case here. The Iranians will be embarrassed. It has appeal. It makes sense. If it’s simple, if it’s done fast, if it’s in and out. It could work.”

 

A third operation is less exotic, but perhaps most dangerous of all: regime decapitation. “The Israelis could just take out the Iranian leadership,” the senior Pentagon war planner said. “But they would only do that as a part of an air strike or a commando raid.” The downside of a decapitation strike is that it would not end Iran’s nuclear program; the upside is that it would almost certainly trigger an Iranian response targeting U.S. military assets in the region, as it would leave the Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces in charge of the country. It would be the one sure way, U.S. officers with whom I spoke believe, for Israel to get the United States involved in its anti-Iran offensive, with the U.S. mounting operations in a conflict it didn’t start.

How would the U.S. military respond to an Iranian attack? “It depends,” the Pentagon planner said. “If the Iranians harass us, we can deal with it, but if they go after one of our capital ships, then all bets are off.” Even so, a U.S. response would not involve a full-scale, costly land war against the Tehran regime, but rather a long-term air interdiction campaign to erode Iranian military capabilities, including its nuclear program, the planner said.

But a decapitation campaign would deepen the rift between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government. The war talk in Jerusalem has already eroded the views of many senior U.S. military officers who were once strongly committed to Israel, but who now quietly resent Netanyahu’s attempt to pressure the United States into a war that it doesn’t want. “Our commitment to Israel has been as solid as with any ally we’ve ever had, and a lot of officers are proud of that,” Lt. General Robert Gard, a retired Army officer, said. “But we’ve done it so that they can defend themselves. Not so they can start World War III.”

This U.S. distaste for involvement in an Israeli strike has been percolating for some time. In March, the New York Times detailed a Centcom war game dubbed “Internal Look,” in which the United States was “pulled into” a regional conflict in the wake of an Israeli attack. The results “were particularly troubling” to Gen. James Mattis, the Centcom commander. Among its other conclusions, “Internal Look” found that Iranian retaliation against U.S. military assets could result in “hundreds of U.S. deaths,” probably as the result of an Iranian missile attack on a U.S. naval vessel. The simulation, as well as Iranian threats to close the Straits of Hormuz, suggest why Mattisrequested that the White House approve the deployment of a third aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf.

But while Mattis was worried about the Iranians, he was also worried about Israel, whose saber-rattling he views with discomfort, his closest colleagues say. “Internal Look” not only showed that the results of an Israeli attack were unpredictable, as the Times reported, but, according to a Pentagon official, it also showed that the less warning the United States has of an Israeli attack, the greater the number of casualties the United States will suffer. “The more warning we have, the fewer American lives we’ll lose,” a Pentagon civilian familiar with U.S. thinking on the issue told me. “The less warning, the more deaths.”

According to another senior Pentagon official, Obama and Gen. Martin Dempsey “have discussed in detail” the likelihood of an Israeli attack. As early as the autumn of 2011, when Dempsey became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Obama told him that the United States would “neither help nor hinder” an Israeli strike, this official said. While Obama’s closely guarded formulation hasn’t made it into the American press, his words are common knowledge among Israeli officials and had appeared just six months after Obama took office, in July 2009, in a prominent editorial in the pro-Netanyahu daily Israel Hayom.

Obama, the editorial stated, “will try to have a dialogue with Iran” while knowing that such an effort will probably not succeed. Obama “would prefer that there be no Israeli attack but is unprepared to accept responsibility for Israel’s security if he fails [in a diplomatic dialogue] and the U.S. prevents Israel from attacking,” the editorial added. “Thus it arises that while Israel has no green light to attack Iran, it does not have a red light either. The decision is Israel’s. The U.S. will neither help nor hinder.”

Nevertheless, the U.S. military fears that Iran will assume the United States has approved an Israeli strike, even if it hasn’t — and will target U.S. military assets in the Persian Gulf. That may be why Dempsey told a roundtable of London reporters in August that he did not want to appear “complicit” in an Israeli attack. The remark touched off speculation that the United States was softening its stance toward Tehran or pressuring Israel to back away from using military force. In fact, nothing had changed: Dempsey was explicitly telling Iran that any Israeli attack would not have the approval or the help of the United States. So while Israel waited for Obama to explain or correct Dempsey’s statement, no clarification was forthcoming. “Dempsey knew exactly what he was saying,” the highly placed military officer said, “and he wouldn’t have said it without White House approval.” After a moment, he added: “Everything the military says has to be cleared, and I mean everything.”

Those outside the U.S. government who follow these issues closely agree. “The administration’s message has been remarkably consistent,” U.S.-Iran expert and author Trita Parsi said. “We always hear about how America believes war is ‘the last resort,’ but in this case, President Obama really means it.”

Gard, the retired Army officer, agreed: “It’s clear to me that President Obama will do everything he can to stop Iran from getting a bomb,” he said. “But no president will allow another country to decide when to shed American blood. Not even Israel.” Gard has a reputation as a military intellectual, has led several initiatives of retired military officers on defense issues, and is a useful barometer of serving officers’ views on sensitive political controversies. “There is a general disdain in our military for the idea of a preventive war,” he said, “which is what the Israelis call their proposed war on Iran.”

George Little, the Pentagon spokesperson, provided this statement: “The United States is prepared to address the full range of contingencies related to potential security threats in the Middle East. But it’s flatly untrue — and pure speculation — to suggest that we have definitively ruled anything in or out for scenarios that have not taken place. Meanwhile, the United States and Israel are in complete agreement about the necessity of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Still, according to a respected retired military officer who consults with the Pentagon — and who speaks regularly with senior Israeli military officers — Israel’s political elite is likely to be surprised by Obama and the U.S. military’s response should Israel launch a preventive attack on Iranian nuclear sites. “If Israel starts a war,” this retired officer said, “America’s first option will be to stop it. To call for a ceasefire. And, by the way, that’s also our second and third option. We’ll do everything we can to keep the war from escalating. We’ll have 72 hours to do that. After that, all bets are off.”

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| Pakistan: ‘trashed’ and insulted, Kayani won’t meet US official!

Pakistan ‘trashed’ and insulted, Kayani won’t meet US official ~ PTI
Islamabad.

“You cannot trash our sovereignty, threaten us, announce intensified drone attacks, kill our soldiers, refuse to apologise when you do the same in Kabul, hold back our money (from the Coalition Support Fund), threaten to cut off all aid and then pretend that it is business as usual,” the official added.

Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani‘s office turned down a request for a meeting by visiting US deputy assistant secretary of defense Peter Lavoy, reflecting the strains that have hit ties between the two countries since last year.  A meeting was requested by the  American official but the general headquarters declined it, unnamed Pakistani officials were quoted as saying by The News daily on Monday.

The officials said they were not aware if Lavoy was given any reasons for the decision.

US officials in Washington too confirmed the development, the daily reported.

One unnamed Pakistani official indicated the request was turned down because of allegations by US officials that Pakistan was not doing enough to rein in militants operating along the border with Afghanistan.

“There are several reasons for turning down (a meeting with) Lavoy. It is to tell the Americans that you cannot be bad-mouthing us day in and day out and then expect a meeting with Pakistan’s most powerful personality,” the official said.

“You cannot trash our sovereignty, threaten us, announce intensified drone attacks, kill our soldiers, refuse to apologise when you do the same in Kabul, hold back our money (from the Coalition Support Fund), threaten to cut off all aid and then pretend that it is business as usual,” the official added.

Pakistan has been angered by remarks made by US defense secretary Leon Panetta during a recent visit to India and Afghanistan.

Panetta said the US had no plans to stop drone strikes despite protests from Pakistan.

Panetta further said the US was running out of patience with Pakistan for failing to act against militant safe havens in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

Officials involved in working out a “package deal” with the US told The News that there were clear instructions from the Pakistan government that a US apology for a deadly NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November last year was more important than the fees to be paid for NATO containers going to Afghanistan.

“We would be willing to forgo charges in return for assurances on our sovereignty and offer of an apology. It means more than the money, we are more concerned about our dignity and honour.

“If we get assurances that our sovereignty will not be violated and our dignity will be respected, we will not bother about the money part. Price of containers is not an important issue,” an official was quoted as saying.

The official said Lavoy had been told that, without an apology, it would not be possible to move forward on reopening the NATO supply lines to Afghanistan.

“One cannot predict the outcome of our discussions. The process remains unpredictable. The apology remains the key to preserve our dignity. In the absence of the same, it has been difficult to move forward,” the official said.

Pakistan closed the supply lines after the NATO air strike in November.

Since then, Islamabad and Washington have been engaged in negotiations to settle their differences.

Pakistani leaders, including foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar, have said that an apology for the NATO air strike is a pre-requisite for reopening the supply lines.

Efforts are now underway to ensure that an “acceptable apology is delivered one way or the other to Pakistan”, The News reported.

“There appears to be a slim chance that an acceptable apology will surface. Neither side is ready to accept the language the interlocutors are working on, and time is running out.

“General headquarters has to understand that a ready apology was pushed aside and now too many issues have overtaken the apology,” an unnamed diplomat was quoted as saying.

The powerful security establishment has sent a message to Lavoy that a “package deal” would not be possible without an apology.

| US Navy F-18 crashes in residential Virginia!

US Navy F-18 crashes in residential Virginia ~ BBC News.

The two crew members ejected, before the crash and remarkably, no-one was seriously injured

A US Navy F-18 jet has crashed shortly after take off in a residential area near Virginia Beach, Virginia.

A navy spokesman told the BBC that the plane went down just before 12:08 (16:08 GMT) and two crew members ejected safely.

The plane hit an apartment building, with photos showing flames and black smoke rising from behind houses.

Both pilots and several other people, including a firefighter, are being treated for injuries.

Six of the seven people admitted to hospital have already been released.

No fatalities have been reported, but officials say they have not accounted for all the residents in the apartment buildings.

The cause of the crash is not yet known.

The two pilots were a student and an instructor.

Pentagon spokesman George Little used Twitter to say Defence Secretary Leon Panetta was being kept informed: “#SecDef is closely monitoring F-18 crash in Virginia Beach; concerned about potential loss of life and injuries.”

What could have been

The plane was based at the nearby Oceana naval air station where it was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106, the Navy said.

The scene of the crash near Virginia Beach, Virginia

Local residents quickly began distributing pictures of burning buildings through social media websites, but officials said the blaze was brought under control.

Emergency officials say some 40 apartments were damaged or destroyed in the crash.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said: “We are taking all possible steps at the state level to provide immediate resources and assistance to those impacted by the crash. Our fervent prayer is that no-one was injured or killed in this accident.”

Witnesses told local media that just before the crash they saw the plane empty its fuel tank.

Bruce Nedelka, a Virginia Beach emergency official said that fuel was found on buildings and vehicles in the area.

“By doing so, he [the pilot] mitigated what could have been an absolute massive, massive fireball and fire,” Mr Nedelka told the Associated Press.

“With all of that jet fuel dumped, it was much less than what it could have been.”

However, Navy spokesman Captain Mark Weisgerber told reporters that the dumping of jet fuel was “one of the indications that there was a mechanical malfunction”.

‘Burst into flames’

One local resident, Robbie Miller, told BBC World: “I was at home in my kitchen when I heard a big boom.

“I walked outside and saw thick black smoke billowing everywhere. You could see the flames from my apartment.

There were then six loud explosions that sounded like gas explosions. It was all very scary.”

Joanie Coleman said she saw the plane hit and saw the “whole backyard” on fire.

“I’ve lived here for 14 years and I knew something like this was going to happen,” she told a local station.

Pat Kavanaugh told CNN he found one of the ejected pilots in the wreckage.

Map

The pilot was still strapped in his seat with a parachute attached and Mr Kavanuagh and others moved the pilot away from the flames.

He said the pilot told him, “I’m so sorry I crashed into your building.”

A nearby highway, Interstate 264, has been closed in both directions, local officials said.

Virginia Beach is a resort city located on the southern coastline of the mid-Atlantic state of Virginia.

The city is home to about 438,000 people and several US military bases.

“Living under a flight path, you don’t realise that it can actually be quite dangerous. These jets fly low over our heads all the time doing their training,” Robbie Miller told the BBC.

“Seventy per cent of the building that the jet hit is destroyed. It feel quite lucky, when I think it could easily have been me.”

| Rep. Dennis Kucinich: Fact Checking the Media: Iran!

Rep. Dennis Kucinich: Fact Checking the Media: Iran

During an interview last month on CBS’ Face the Nation, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta set the record straight on Iran: “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.” But if you read recent news reports lately, you’d think otherwise.


 

The media coverage on Iran is mirroring the coverage in the lead-up to the Iraq war: grand claims about a smoking gun that doesn’t exist. For example, The New York Times incorrectly reported last month that the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran concluded that their nuclear program had a military objective. The paper’s public editor, Arthur Brisbane, was forced to acknowledge their mistake and wrote: “Some readers, mindful of the faulty intelligence and reporting about Saddam Hussein’s weapons program, are watching the Iran nuclear coverage very closely.” Other media outlets such as National Public Radio, PBS and The Washington Post have been challenged on their coverage too.

A recent publication from the Center for Strategic and International Studies titled “The IAEA’s Iran Report and Misplaced Paranoia,” noted that “With few exceptions, these revelations are not exactly new. More importantly, neither is the thrust of the report: that Iran is developing some capabilities that can only be understood as preliminaries to the development of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, early coverage of the report’s release gives the opposite impression.”

Many have recognized that the media failed to do its job in the lead-up to the Iraq war. The potential consequences of treading on that same path with Iran are grave. The U.S. has thus far spent over $1.2 trillion of borrowed money on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military action against Iran would be disastrous for the region and for U.S. moral standing. A serious diplomatic track based on mutual trust and respect is the only way to achieve increased transparency.

| Actually … US/Israel: Iran NOT Building Nukes!

America’s newspaper of record won’t even report accurately what Israel (or the CIA) thinks on this important issue, if that goes against the alarmist conventional wisdom that the neocons favor.
January 24, 2012.

Exclusive: Recent comments by U.S and Israeli military leaders indicate that the intelligence services of the two countries agree that Iran has not decided to build a nuclear bomb, a crack in the Western narrative that the U.S. press corps won’t accept, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern explains.

Has Iran decided to build a nuclear bomb? That would seem to be the central question in the current bellicose debate over whether the world should simply cripple Iran’s economy and inflict severe pain on its civilian population or launch a preemptive war to destroy its nuclear capability while possibly achieving “regime change.”

And if you’ve been reading the New York Times or following the rest of the Fawning Corporate Media, you’d likely assume that everyone who matters agrees that the answer to the question is yes, although the FCM adds the caveat that Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. The line is included with an almost perceptible wink and an “oh, yeah.”

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak meeting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2007.

However, a consensus seems to be emerging among the intelligence and military agencies of the United States – and Israel – that Iran has NOT made a decision to build a nuclear weapon. In recent days, that judgment has been expressed by high-profile figures in the defense establishments of the two countries – U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

You might think that you would have heard more about that, wouldn’t you? U.S. and Israel agree that Iran is NOT building a nuclear bomb. However, this joint assessment that Iran has NOT decided to build a nuclear bomb apparently represented too big a change in the accepted narrative for the Times and the rest of the FCM to process.

Yet, on Jan. 18, the day before U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey arrived for talks in Israel, Israeli Defense Minister Barak gave an interview to Israeli Army radio in which he addressed with striking candor how he assesses Iran’s nuclear program. It was not the normal pabulum.

Question: Is it Israel’s judgment that Iran has not yet decided to turn its nuclear potential into weapons of mass destruction?

Barak: … confusion stems from the fact that people ask whether Iran is determined to break out from the control [inspection] regime right now … in an attempt to obtain nuclear weapons or an operable installation as quickly as possible.  Apparently that is not the case. …

Question: How long will it take from the moment Iran decides to turn it into effective weapons until it has nuclear warheads?

Barak: I don’t know; one has to estimate. … Some say a year, others say 18 months. It doesn’t really matter. To do that, Iran would have to announce it is leaving the [UN International Atomic Energy Agency] inspection regime and stop responding to IAEA’s criticism, etc.

Why haven’t they [the Iranians] done that? Because they realize that … when it became clear to everyone that Iran was trying to acquire nuclear weapons, this would constitute definite proof that time is actually running out. This could generate either harsher sanctions or other action against them. They do not want that.

Question: Has the United States asked or demanded that the government inform the Americans in advance, should it decide on military action?

Barak: I don’t want to get into that. We have not made a decision to opt for that, we have not decided on a decision-making date. The whole thing is very far off. …

Question: You said the whole thing is “very far off.” Do you mean weeks, months, years?

Barak: I wouldn’t want to provide any estimates. It’s certainly not urgent. I don’t want to relate to it as though tomorrow it will happen.

As noted in my Jan. 19 article, “Israel Tamps Down Iran War Threats,” which was based mostly on reports from the Israeli press before I had access to the complete transcript of the interview, I noted that Barak appeared to be identifying himself with the consistent assessment of U.S. intelligence community since late 2007 that Iran has not made a decision to go forward with a nuclear bomb.

A Momentous NIE

A formal National Intelligence Estimate of November 2007 – a consensus of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies – contradicted the encrusted conventional wisdom that “of course” Iran’s nuclear development program must be aimed at producing nuclear weapons. The NIE stated:

“We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; … Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005.”

The Key Judgments of that Estimate elicited a vituperative reaction from some Israeli officials and in neoconservative circles in the United States. It also angered then-President George W. Bush, who joined the Israelis in expressing disagreement with the judgments. In January 2008, Bush flew to Israel to commiserate with Israeli officials who he said should have been “furious with the United States over the NIE.”

While Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, is replete with bizarre candor, nothing beats his admission that “the NIE tied my hands on the military side,” preventing him from ordering a preemptive war against Iran, an action favored by hawkish Vice President Dick Cheney.

For me personally it was heartening to discover that my former colleagues in the CIA’s analytical division had restored the old ethos of telling difficult truths to power, after the disgraceful years under CIA leaders like George Tenet and John McLaughlin when the CIA followed the politically safer route of telling the powerful what they wanted to hear.

It had been three decades since I chaired a couple of National Intelligence Estimates, but fate never gave me the chance to manage one that played such a key role in preventing an unnecessary and disastrous war — as the November 2007 NIE did.

In such pressure-cooker situations, the Estimates job is not for the malleable or the faint-hearted. The ethos was to speak with courage, and without fear or favor, but that is often easier said than done. In my days, however, we analysts enjoyed career protection for telling it like we saw it. It was an incredible boost to morale to see that happening again in 2007.

Ever since the NIE was published, however, powerful politicians and media pundits have sought to chip away at its conclusions, suggesting that the analysts were hopelessly naïve or politically motivated or vengeful, out to punish Bush and Cheney for the heavy-handed tactics used to push false and dubious claims about Iraq’s WMD in 2002 and 2003.

A New Conventional Wisdom

There emerged in Official Washington a new conventional wisdom that the NIE was erroneous and wasn’t worth mentioning anymore. Though the Obama administration has stood by it, the New York Times and other FCM outlets routinely would state that the United States and Israel agreed that Iran was developing a nuclear bomb and then add the wink-wink denial by Iran.

However, on Jan. 8, Defense Secretary Panetta told Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” that “the responsible thing to do right now is to keep putting diplomatic and economic pressure on them [the Iranians] … and to make sure that they do not make the decision to proceed with the development of a nuclear weapon.”

Panetta was making the implicit point that the Iranians had not made that decision, but just in case someone might miss his meaning, Panetta posed the direct question to himself: “Are they [the Iranians] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.”

Barak’s Jan. 18 statement to Israeli Army radio indicated that his views dovetail with those of Panetta – and their comments apparently are backed up by the assessments of each nation’s intelligence analysts. In its report on Defense Minister Barak’s remarks, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Jan. 19 summed up the change in the position of Israeli leaders as follows:

“The intelligence assessment Israeli officials will present … to Dempsey indicates that Iran has not yet decided whether to make a nuclear bomb. The Israeli view is that while Iran continues to improve its nuclear capabilities, it has not yet decided whether to translate these capabilities into a nuclear weapon – or, more specifically, a nuclear warhead mounted atop a missile. Nor is it clear when Iran might make such a decision.”

At the New York Times, the initial coverage of Barak’s interview focused on another element. An article by Isabel Kershner and Rick Gladstone appeared on Jan. 19 on page A5 under the headline “Decision on Whether to Attack Iran is ‘Far Off,’ Israeli Defense Minister Says.”

To their credit, the Times’ Kershner and Gladstone did not shrink from offering an accurate translation of what Barak said on the key point of IAEA inspections: “The Iranians have not ended the oversight exercised by the International Atomic Energy Agency … They have not done that because they know that that would constitute proof of the military nature of their nuclear program and that would provoke stronger international sanctions or other types of action against their country.”

But missing from the Times’ article was Barak’s more direct assessment that Iran apparently had not made a decision to press ahead toward construction of a nuclear bomb. That would have undercut the boilerplate in almost every Times story saying that U.S. and Israeli officials believe Iran is working on a nuclear bomb.

But That’s Not the Right Line!

So, what to do? Not surprisingly, the next day (Jan. 20), the Times ran an article by its Middle East bureau chief Ethan Bronner in which he stated categorically: ”Israel and the United States both say that Iran is pursuing the building of nuclear weapons — an assertion denied by Iran — …”

By Jan. 21, the Times had time to prepare an entire page (A8) of articles setting the record “straight,” so to speak, on Iran’s nuclear capabilities and intentions: Here are the most telling excerpts, by article (emphasis mine):

1- “European Union Moves Closer to Imposing Tough Sanctions on Iran,” by Steven Erlanger, Paris:

“Senior French officials are concerned that these measures [sanctions] … will not be strong enough to push the Iranian government into serious, substantive negotiations on its nuclear program which the West says is aimed at producing weapons.

“In his annual speech on French diplomacy on Friday, President Nicolas Sarkozy accused Iran of lying, and he denounced what he called its ‘senseless race for a nuclear bomb.’”

“Iran says it is enriching uranium solely for peaceful uses and denies a military intent.  But few in the West believe Tehran, which has not cooperated fully with inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency and has been pursuing some technologies that have only a military use.”

(Pardon me, please. I’m having a bad flashback. Anyone remember the Times’ peerless reporting on those infamous “aluminum tubes” that supposedly were destined for nuclear centrifuges — until some folks did a Google search and found they were for the artillery then used by Iraq?)

2- “China Leader Warns Iran Not to Make Nuclear Arms,” by Michael Wines, Beijing

“Prime Minister Wen Jiabao wrapped up a six-day Middle East tour this week with stronger-than-usual criticism of Iran’s defiance on its nuclear program….”

“Mr. Wen’s comments on Iran were unusually pointed for Chinese diplomacy. In Doha, Qatar’s capital, he said China ‘adamantly opposes Iran developing and possessing nuclear weapons.’”

“Western nations suspect that Iran is working toward building a nuclear weapon, while Iran insists its program is peaceful.”

3- “U.S. General Urges Closer Ties With Israel.” by Isabel Kershner, Jerusalem

“Though Iran continues to insist that its nuclear program is only for civilian purposes, Israel, the United Stated, and much of the West are convinced that Iran is working to develop a weapons program. …”

Never (Let Up) on Sunday

Next it was time for the Times to trot out David Sanger from the Washington bullpen. Many will remember him as one of the Times’ stenographers/cheerleaders for the Bush/Cheney attack on Iraq in March 2003. An effusive hawk also on Iran, Sanger was promoted to a position as chief Washington correspondent, apparently for services rendered.

In his Jan. 22 article, “Confronting Iran in a Year of Elections,” Sanger pulls out all the stops, even resurrecting Condoleezza Rice’s “mushroom cloud” to scare all of us — and, not least, the Iranians. He wrote:

“‘From the perception of the Iranians, life may look better on the other side of the mushroom cloud,’said Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He may be right: while the Obama administration has vowed that it will never tolerate Iran as a nuclear weapons state, a few officials admit that they may have to settle for a ‘nuclear capable’ Iran that has the technology, the nuclear fuel and the expertise to become a nuclear power in a matter of weeks or months.”

Were that not enough, enter the national champion of the Times cheerleading squad that prepared the American people in 2002 and early 2003 for the attack on Iraq, former Executive Editor Bill Keller. He graced us the next day (Jan. 23) with an op-ed entitled “Bomb-Bomb-Bomb, Bomb-Bomb-Iran?” – though he wasn’t favoring a military strike, at least not right now. Here’s Keller:

“The actual state of the [nuclear] program is not entirely clear, but the best open-source estimates are that if Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered full-speed-ahead — which there is no sign he has done — they could have an actual weapon in a year or so. … In practice, Obama’s policy promises to be tougher than Bush’s. Because Obama started out with an offer of direct talks — which the Iranians foolishly spurned — world opinion has shifted in our direction.”

Wow. With Iraqi egg still all over his face, the disgraced Keller gets to “spurn” history itself — to rewrite the facts. Sorry, Bill, it was not Iran, but rather Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other neocons in the U.S. Department of State and White House (with you and neocon allies in the press cheering them on), who “foolishly spurned” an offer by Iran in 2010 to trade about half its low-enriched uranium for medical isotopes. It was a deal negotiated by Turkey and Brazil, but it was viewed by the neocons as an obstacle to ratcheting up the sanctions.

In his Jan. 23 column, with more sophomoric glibness, Keller wrote this:

“We may now have sufficient global support to enact the one measure that would be genuinely crippling — a boycott of Iranian oil. The Iranians take this threat to their economic livelihood seriously enough that people who follow the subject no longer minimize the chance of a naval confrontation in the Strait of Hormuz. It’s not impossible that we will get war with Iran even without bombing its nuclear facilities.”

How neat! War without even trying!

The Paper of (Checkered Record)

Guidance To All NYT Hands: Are you getting the picture? After all, what does Defense Minister Barak know? Or Defense Secretary Panetta? Or the 16 agencies of the U.S. intelligence community? Or apparently even Israeli intelligence?

The marching orders from the Times’ management appear to be that you should pay no heed to those sources of information. Just repeat the mantra: Everyone knows Iran is hard at work on the Bomb.

As is well known, other newspapers and media outlets take their cue from the Times.  Small wonder, then, that USA Today seemed to be following the same guidance on Jan. 23, as can be seen in its major editorial on military action against Iran:

The U.S. and Iran will keep steaming toward confrontation, Iran intent on acquiring the bomb to establish itself as a regional power, and the U.S. intent on preventing it to protect allies and avoid a nuclear arms race in the world’s most volatile region.

“One day, the U.S. is likely to face a wrenching choice: bomb Iran, with the nation fully united and prepared for the consequences, or let Iran have the weapons, along with a Cold War-like doctrine ensuring Iran’s nuclear annihilation if it ever uses them. In that context, sanctions remain the last best hope for a satisfactory solution.”

And, of course, the U.S. press corps almost never adds the context that Israel already possesses an undeclared arsenal of hundreds of nuclear weapons, or that Iran is essentially surrounded by nuclear weapons states, including India, Pakistan, Russia, China and – at sea – the United States.

PBS Equally Guilty

PBS’s behavior adhered to its customary don’t-offend-the-politicians-who-might-otherwise-cut-our-budget attitude on the Jan. 18 “NewsHour” – about 12 hours after Ehud Barak’s interview started making the rounds. Host Margaret Warner set the stage for an interview with neocon Dennis Ross and Vali Nasr (a professor at Tufts) by using a thoroughly misleading clip from former Sen. Rick Santorum’s Jan. 1 appearance on “Meet the Press.”

Warner started by saying: “Back in the U.S. many Republican presidential candidates have been vowing they’d be even tougher with Tehran. Former Senator Rick Santorum spoke on NBC’s Meet the Press: ‘I would be saying to the Iranians, you open up those facilities, you begin to dismantle them and make them available to inspectors, or we will degrade those facilities through air strikes and make it very public that we are doing so.’”

Santorum seemed totally unaware that there are U.N. inspectors in Iran, and host David Gregory did nothing to correct him, leaving Santorum’s remark unchallenged. The blogosphere immediately lit up with requests for NBC to tell their viewers that there are already U.N. inspectors in Iran, which unlike Israel is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and allows IAEA inspections.

During the Warner interview, Dennis Ross performed true to form, projecting supreme confidence that he knows more about Iran’s nuclear program than the Israeli Defense Minister and the U.S. intelligence community combined:

Margaret Warner:  If you hamstring their [Iran’s] Central Bank, and the U.S. persuades all these other big customers not to buy Iranian oil, that could be thought of as an act of war on the part of the Iranians. Is that a danger?

Ross: I think there’s a context here. The context is that the Iranians continue to pursue a nuclear program. And unmistakably to many, that is a nuclear program whose purpose is to achieve nuclear weapons. That has a very high danger, a very high consequence. So the idea that they could continue with that and not realize that at some point they have to make a choice, and if they don’t make the choice, the price they’re going to pay is a very high one, that’s the logic of increasing the pressure.

Never mind that the Israeli Defense Minister had told the press something quite different some 12 hours before.

Still, it is interesting that Barak’s comments on how Israeli intelligence views Iran’s nuclear program now mesh so closely with the NIE in 2007. This is the new and significant story here, as I believe any objective journalist would agree.

However, the FCM — led by the New York Times — cannot countenance admitting that they have been hyping the threat from Iran as they did with Iraq’s non-existent WMDs just nine years ago. So they keep repeating the line that Israel and the U.S. agree that Iran is building a nuclear weapon.

In this up-is-down world, America’s newspaper of record won’t even report accurately what Israel (or the CIA) thinks on this important issue, if that goes against the alarmist conventional wisdom that the neocons favor. Thus, we have this divergence between what the U.S. media is reporting as flat fact — i.e., that Israel and the United States believe Iran is building a bomb (though Iran denies it) – and the statements from senior Israeli and U.S. officials that Iran has NOT decided to build a bomb.

While this might strike some as splitting hairs – since peaceful nuclear expertise can have potential military use – this hair is a very important one. If Iran is not working on building a nuclear bomb, then the threats of preemptive war are not only unjustified, they could be exactly the motivation for Iran to decide that it does need a nuclear bomb to protect itself and its people.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. During his 27-year career as a CIA analyst, he prepared — and briefed — the President’s Daily Brief, and chaired National Intelligence Estimates. He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

| Why the US is drowning in Hypocrisy!

Drowning in Hypocrisy ~ Paul Craig Roberts

The US government is so full of self-righteousness that it has become a caricature of hypocrisy. Leon Panetta, a former congressman who Obama appointed CIA director and now head of the Pentagon, just told the sailors on the USS Enterprise, an aircraft carrier, that the US is maintaining a fleet of 11 aircraft carriers in order to project sea power against Iran and to convince Iran that “it’s better for them to try to deal with us through diplomacy.”

If it requires 11 aircraft carriers to deal with Iran, how many will Panetta need to project power against Russia and China? But to get on with the main point, Iran has been trying “to deal with us through diplomacy.” The response from Washington has been belligerent threats of military attack, unfounded and irresponsible accusations that Iran is making a nuclear weapon, sanctions and an oil embargo. Washington’s accusations echo Israel’s and are contradicted by Washington’s own intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Why doesn’t Washington respond to Iran in a civilized manner with diplomacy? Really, which of the two countries is the greatest threat to peace?


Washington sends the FBI to raid the homes of peace activists and puts a grand jury to work to create a case against them for aiding a nebulous enemy by protesting Washington’s wars. The Department of Homeland Security unleashes goon cop thugs to brutalize peaceful Occupy Wall Street demonstrators. Washington fabricates cases against Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Tarek Mehanna that negate the First Amendment by equating free speech with terrorism and spying. Chicago mayor and former Obama White House chief-of-staff, Rahm Israel Emanuel, pushes an ordinance that outlaws public protests in the City of Chicago. The list goes on. And in the midst of it all Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Washington hypocrites accuse Russia and China of stifling dissent.

Washington’s grotesque hypocrisy goes unremarked by the American “media” and in the debates for the Republican presidential nomination. The corrupt Obama “Justice” Department turns a blind eye while goon cop thugs commit gratuitous violence against the citizens who pay the goon cop thugs’ undeserved salaries.

But it is in the War Crimes Arena where Washington shows the greatest hypocrisy. The self-righteous bigots in Washington are forever rounding up heads of weak states whose countries were afflicted by civil wars and sending them off to be tried as war criminals. All the while Washington indiscriminately kills large numbers of civilians in six or more countries, dismissing its own war crimes as “collateral damage.” Washington violates its own law and international law by torturing people.


On January 13, 2012, Carol Rosenberg of McClatchy Newspapers reported that Spanish judge Pablo Rafael Ruz Gutierrez re-launched an investigation into Washington’s torture of prisoners in Guantanamo Prison. The previous day British authorities opened an investigation into CIA renditions of kidnapped persons to Libya for torture.

Rosenberg reports that although the Obama regime has refused to investigate the obvious crimes of the Bush regime, and one might add its own obvious crimes, “other countries are still interested in determining whether Bush-era anti-terror practices violated international law.”

There is no question that Bush/Cheney/Obama have trashed the US Constitution, US statutory law, and international law. But Washington, having overthrown justice, has established that might is right. No foreign government is going to send its forces into the US to drag the war criminals out and place them on trial.

The War Criminal Court at the Hague is reserved for Washington’s show trials. No foreign government is going to pay Washington several hundred millions of dollars to turn Bush, Cheney, Obama and their minions over to them in the way the US bought Milosevic from Serbia in order to create the necessary spectacle at the War Crimes Tribunal to justify Washington’s naked aggression against Serbia.

No government can be perfect, because all governments are composed of humans, especially those humans most attracted by power and profit. Nevertheless, in my lifetime I have witnessed an extraordinary deterioration in the integrity of government in the United States. We have reached the point where nothing that our government says is believable. Not even the unemployment rate, the inflation rate, the GDP growth rate, much less Washington’s reasons for its wars, its police state, and its foreign and domestic policies.

Washington has kept America at war for ten years while millions of Americans lost their jobs and their homes. War and a faltering economy have exploded the national debt, and a looming bankruptcy is being blamed on Social Security and Medicare.

The pursuit of war continues. On January 23 Washington’s servile puppets–the EU member states–did Washington’s bidding and imposed an oil embargo on Iran, despite the pleas of Greece, a member of the EU. Greece’s final ruin will come from the higher oil prices from the embargo, as the Greek government realizes.

The embargo is a reckless act. If the US navy tries to intercept oil tankers carrying Iranian oil, large scale war could break out. This, many believe, is Washington’s aim.


It is easy for an embargo to become a blockade, which is an act of war. Remember how easily the UN Security Council’s “no-fly zone” over Libya was turned by the US and its NATO puppets into a military attack on Libya’s armed forces and population centers supportive of Gaddafi.

As the western “democracies” become increasingly lawless, the mask of law that imperialism wears is stripped away and with it the sheen of morality that has been used to cloak hegemonic ambitions. With Iran surrounded and with two of Washington’s fleets in the Persian Gulf, another war of aggression seems inevitable.

Experts say that an attack on Iran by the US and NATO will disrupt the flow of oil that the world needs. The crazed drive for hegemony is so compelling that Washington and its EU puppets show no hesitation in putting their own struggling economies at risk of sharply rising energy costs.

War abroad and austerity at home is the policy that is being imposed on the western “democracies.”

About Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate and has had many university appointments.