Wednesday, June 21, 2006

[political-research] Digest Number 1266

Messages In This Digest (2 Messages)

U.S. weighs shootdown of N. Korea missile (AP) From: better_off_said
Bloglines - The Fountainhead of Torture From:



U.S. weighs shootdown of N. Korea missile (AP)

Posted by: "better_off_said"   better_off_said

Tue Jun 20, 2006 10:32 pm (PST)

Let's HOPE it's just "posturing" on the part of the US (or merely
psywar through manipulation of the media), otherwise... it was nice
knowin' yah. :)


U.S. weighs shootdown of N. Korea missile
By ROBERT BURNS, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 35 minutes ago

The Bush administration is weighing responses to a possible North
Korean missile test that include attempting to shoot it down in
flight over the Pacific, defense officials told The Associated Press
on Tuesday.

Because North Korea is secretive about its missile operations, U.S.
officials say they must consider the possibility that an anticipated
test would turn out to be something else, such as a space launch or
even an attack. Thus, the Pentagon is considering the possibility of
attempting an interception, two defense officials said, even though
it would be unprecedented and is not considered the likeliest

The officials agreed to discuss the matter only on condition of
anonymity because of its political sensitivity.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said he could not say whether the
unproven multibillion-dollar U.S. anti-missile defense system might
be used in the event of a North Korean missile launch. That system,
which includes a handful of missiles that could be fired from Alaska
and California, has had a spotty record in tests.

Although shooting down a North Korean missile is a possibility, the
Pentagon also must consider factors that would argue against such a
response, including the risk of shooting and missing and of
escalating tensions further with the communist nation.

Even if there were no attempt to shoot down a North Korean missile,
it would be tracked by early warning satellites and radars,
including radars based on ships near Japan and ground-based radars
in Alaska and California.

Robert Einhorn, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies, said a U.S. shootdown of a North Korean
missile on a test flight or a space launch would draw "very strong
international reaction" against the United States. He saw only a
small chance that the U.S. would attempt a shootdown.

Signs of North Korean preparations to launch a long-range ballistic
missile, possibly with sufficient range to reach U.S. territory,
have grown in recent weeks, although it is unclear whether the
missile has been fully fueled. U.S. officials said Monday the
missile was apparently fully assembled and fueled, but others have
since expressed some uncertainty.

Bush administration officials have urged the North Koreans publicly
and privately not to conduct the missile test, which would end a
moratorium in place since 1999. That ban was adopted after Japan and
other nations expressed outrage over an August 1998 launch in which
a North Korean missile flew over northern Japan.

At the time of the 1998 launch, the United States had no means of
shooting down a long-range missile in flight. Since then, the
Pentagon has developed a rudimentary system that it says is capable
of defending against a limited number of missiles in an emergency —
with a North Korean attack particularly in mind.

The Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm,
says the Pentagon has spent $91 billion on missile defense over the
past two decades.

The 1998 event turned out to be a space launch rather than a missile
test; U.S. officials said the satellite failed to reach orbit.

U.S. and international concern about North Korea's missile
capability is heightened by its claims to have developed nuclear
weapons. It is not known whether they have mastered the complex art
of building a nuclear warhead small enough to fit a long-range
missile, although in April 2005 the director of the Defense
Intelligence Agency, Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby, told Congress that
North Korea was capable of arming a missile with a nuclear warhead.
U.S. officials have since called it a "theoretical capability."

No administration official has publicly raised the possibility of
bombing the North Korean missile before it can be launched. Jan
Lodal, a senior Pentagon policy official during the Clinton
administration, said in an interview Tuesday that he would not rule
out a pre-emptive strike. He said it would be the surest away of
eliminating the threat of being surprised by the launch of a
Taepodong-2, an intercontinental ballistic missile that some believe
has enough range to reach U.S. territory.

David Wright, a senior scientist at the private Union of Concerned
Scientists, said he strongly doubts that the Bush administration
could back up its claims of having the capability to shoot down a
North Korean missile.

"I consider it to be rhetorical posturing," Wright said. "It
currently has no demonstrated capability."

The last time the Pentagon registered a successful test in
intercepting a mock warhead in flight was in October 2002. Since
then, there have been three unsuccessful attempted intercepts, most
recently in February 2005.

Rick Lehner, chief spokesman for the Pentagon's Missile Defense
Agency, said the next intercept test is scheduled for the August-
September period, to be followed by another before the end of the
year. Lehner said that beginning about a year ago, the system has
periodically been placed in "operational status."

Baker Spring, a Heritage Foundation analyst and strong advocate of
U.S. missile defenses, said he believes that "in theoretical terms"
the U.S. system is a capable of defeating a North Korean missile.
And he thinks that if the North Koreans launched on a flight pattern
that appeared threatening to the United States, the
administration "would be well within its rights" under international
law to shoot down the missile.

The Washington Times reported Tuesday that the Pentagon has placed
its missile defense system in an active status for potential use.


Bloglines - The Fountainhead of Torture

Posted by: ""   bgiltner

Tue Jun 20, 2006 10:32 pm (PST)

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<> user has sent
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On the fringes of the public sphere The
Fountainhead of Torture
> By Michael on Torture

Barton Gellman's Washington Post review of David Ron Suskind's
new book, "The One Percent Doctrine,"
> makes it clear who we have to thank for
the nation's new torture policy: George W. Bush himself. The
revealing anecdote concerns the much-touted capture of Abu
Zubaydah, whom Bush himself touted as "one of the top operatives
plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States"
-- a statement made two weeks after being briefed that this was
not in fact the case. Bush's reaction? Let's torture the guy
to see if he'll live up to his billing.Abu Zubaydah, his captors
discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the
pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts,
poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries
"in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" -- a
boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded
in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things
they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst,
told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable,
split personality."

Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist
operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor
logistics -- travel for wives and children and the like. That
judgment was "echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course,
briefed to the President and Vice President," Suskind writes. And
yet somehow, in a speech delivered two weeks later, President
Bush portrayed Abu Zubaydah as "one of the top operatives
plotting and planning death and destruction on the United
States." And over the months to come, under White House and
Justice Department direction, the CIA would make him its first
test subject for harsh interrogation techniques.


"I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of
their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on
this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied. Bush "was
fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth," Suskind
writes, and he asked one briefer, "Do some of these harsh methods
really work?" Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind
reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which
reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with
certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with
deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under
that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety --
against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems,
nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the
Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "thousands of uniformed
men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target." And so,
Suskind writes, "the United States would torture a mentally
disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he

In addition to confirming what we already knew -- Bush lies to us
> -- we learn several important things from
this story:
* Allowing the US government to hold prisoners -- any
prisoners -- abroad, outside the easy reach of US courts and due
process, is an invitation to abuse. Only if they are POWs,
enjoying the full protections of the Geneva Conventions, it is
safe to allow our officials to house them in camps beyond our
* Torture made us less secure, creating false alarms. After
all, if you were being tortured wouldn't you make stuff up to get
them to stop?
* The participants in these atrocities followed orders --
which came from the top, either directly or in the "will no one
rid me of this troublesome priest
> " variety.
Impeachment, the nuclear bomb of politics, is a terrible idea,
one which, whether it succeeded or failed, would be very bad for
the country both in the short term (the kleptocratic wing of the
GOP will fight it like a rat in a box) and in the long term (too
many impeachment attempts in a short period of time make it seem
too available). And were impeachment to succeed, it would only
replace one bad man with another bad (worse?) man.

Yet, regrettably, the time has come where we must search our
consciences and ask if any lesser remedy than impeachment can be
sufficient for this sort of behavior. Is anything less a form of
implicit complicity, or at least acquiescence? What is the right
way to not just protest but punish torturing someone in order to
justify lies told to the American public?

These are not meant as rhetorical questions. I do not claim to
have the answers in my pocket. As a practical matter,
impeachment, even the discussion of it, seems like stupid and
impractical politics so long as the Republicans in Congress are
able to turn away from what is being done in their, in our, name
and either cheer it or reassure themselves that it's not really
their responsibility. Hoping that some level of atrocity might
open finally open the incumbents' eyes to what they have allowed
certainly seems unrealistic. Therefore the right answer -- to
the extent morality is about practical outcomes rather than
comfortable posturing -- may be that to win as many congressional
elections as possible and hope for some decent oversight in 2007.
In the absence of candidates speaking out against torture,
though, this seems an uncomfortably indirect approach.

What are we to do? Where is the national consensus against this
sort of behavior?

Comments -- in civil, measured tones please -- welcomed.
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