Tuesday, August 10, 2004

New chief for an embattled CIA | csmonitor.com

New chief for an embattled CIA | csmonitor.com: "New chief for an embattled CIA

Bush's pick, Rep. Porter Goss, brings inside experience as a former operative. But he's recently been a harsh critic of the agency.

By Peter Grier and Alexandra Marks | Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON – He's a former CIA covert operator who also founded a newspaper.
An avid boater, he's long favored no-boating zones to protect manatees in Florida Gulf waters.

In Congress he's strongly backed the work of US spy agencies, yet recently he's become an outspoken proponent of intelligence reform.

Rep. Porter Goss (R) of Florida is nothing if not a balancer. And that's a skill he'll need in spades if he's confirmed as the new CIA director, following President Bush's nomination Tuesday.

The next CIA chief will have to try to reconcile all manner of competing imperatives, analysts note. He will need to both protect Langley and renovate it - all while dealing with the political pressures unleashed by the presidential election and the criticisms of the 9/11 commission.

"He's going to have the problem of keeping politics out of it, and doing what he knows best, which is how to run the natin's intelligence mechanisms at this time of extraordinary challenge," says former CIA official John MacGaffin.

President Bush's announcement that he has decided to nominate Mr. Goss to run the CIA comes at a time of uncertainty throughout the US intelligence community.

"He is well prepared for this mission," the president said of Goss during the outdoor appearance Tuesday morning.

A Yale graduate like Bush, Goss worked for both Army intelligence and the CIA's Directorate of Operations before illness cut short his clandestine career.

Though he has publicly said little about what he did for agency, Goss has admitted that as a young operative he was positioned in the Florida Straits during the Cuban missile crisis.

He retired at a young age to Sanibel Island, near Fort Myers on Florida's Gulf coast. He eventually entered local politics, positioning himself as an environmentally conscious Republican who favored limits to sprawl and development. He as elected to Congress in 1988, and has served there ever since, although he eschewed retirement for reelection in 2002 only at the behest of Vice President Dick Cheney.

"I think every American knows the importance of getting the best possible intelligence we can get to our decision-makers," Goss said Tuesday, standing next to the president.

As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Goss has gained generally high marks from colleagues over the years.

Similarly, intelligence analysts have been generally impressed with the low-key manner in which he has handled potentially incendiary issues.

Yet Goss is in the uncomfortable position of auditioning for a job that is no longer clearly defined. President Bush has embraced one of the central recommendations of the 9/11 commission, the establishment of a new intelligence director that will oversee the CIA and other intelligence agencies and activities. In the past, the CIA chief has also held a broader title: director of central intelligence. That function will now be moved out of Langley, but the political process has not yet determined how the new chain of command will be structured.

Goss "is a well-respected intelligence veteran, which is exactly what we need right now," says Kevin O'Connell, an intelligence expert at the RAND Corp. in Washington. "What's not yet clear is how [the CIA job] will relate to this national intelligence job that's being discussed."

Goss will also have to navigate a Senate confirmation process that may become highly politicized, as both parties struggle to be seen as the true heirs of the 9/11 commission's legacy.

Some Democrats have warned the White House that Goss, long a front-runner for the open CIA post, might be deemed too political a pick, given his partisan service in Congress. The senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, has said he would not support someone from Congress for the CIA job.

Furthermore, Goss's tenure as head of the intelligence panel has not been without bruised feelings.

"Everyone loves Porter, but his staff is pretty hard-core and is known to play hardball," says a knowledgeable intelligence source.

If he successfully navigates the Senate nomination process, Goss will face another possibly restive faction: the CIA old guard itself.

Though long seen as a defender of the agency, Goss has recently been critical of its failings. A section of this year's House intelligence bill contained scathing criticism of the agency's actions prior to Sept.11, for instance.

Some CIA officials have seen this criticism as a ploy by Goss to position himself for the CIA job. The CIA's current acting director, John McLaughlin, has rejected the complaints as ill-advised, for instance.

"There's going to be some old guard in the building who may not be fond of having someone from the Hill there, so there will be some flak on that . . . [Goss's] leadership skills will be tested there, because the place is in a real funk right now," says former CIA official Ron Marks.

In a possible sign of struggles to come, the tumult over perceived intelligence failings continued in Washington even as Goss's nomination was being announced.

House Democrats gathered for a caucus on Tuesday to talk over ways to push their own interpretation of 9/11 panel's recommendations. Members of the panel itself testified in open session on Capitol Hill.

"I think clearly that some that are more on the reform side of the agenda may consider [Goss]. . . as someone who may not bring some of the new thoughts into the process, but we have to have that position filled," says Frank Cilluffo, director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University"

Kasuri's visit grasps Iranian media - PakTribune

Kasuri's visit grasps Iranian media - PakTribune: "Kasuri's visit grasps Iranian media
Tuesday August 10, 2004 (1429 PST)

Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri's two-day official visit to Iran attracted unprecedented attention of the local and foreign print and electronic media.

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TEHRAN, August 11 (Online): Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri's two-day official visit to Iran attracted unprecedented attention of the local and foreign print and electronic media.
Local newspapers accorded front-page coverage to his engagements in Tehran while the electronic media telecast discussion programmes to highlight to significance of the visit in the context of good Pakistan-Iran relationship and the prevailing situation in the region.

During his stay in Tehran from August 8 to 10, Mr Kasuri held comprehensive talks with the Iranian leadership and addressed a joint Press Conference with is Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharrazi. Besides holding bilateral negotiations with Iranian Foreign Minister, he also met President Mohammad Khatami and the First Vice president Mohammad Raza Aref.

Continuing his meetings with the Iranian leadership, he called on the former President and Chairman of Iran's Expediency Council. Hashmi Rafsanjani and newly elected Speaker of the Iranian Majlis, Dr Ghulam Ali Haddad Adel.

During his meeting with Rafsanjani and Dr Haddad Adel, Kasuri exchanged views on issues of mutual interest to Pakistan and Iran. Both sides agreed that developments in Afghanistan were more important to the region. Both had suffered in the past with the Soviet invasion and the influx of millions of refugees into their countries. The insecurity and instability in Afghanistan also had an adverse impact on the both countries.

The Iranian dignitaries and Pakistan's foreign Minister felt that with the departure of Taliban and the emergence of new political dispensation in Afghanistan, the situation had changed and Iran and Pakistan were cooperation in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan as well as in the process of rehabilitation and reconstruction.

They expressed the hope that the forthcoming election in Afghanistan would reflect the true and legitimates aspirations of the people of Afghanistan and lead to a stable political framework.

On Iraq too, they underlined the need for its political independence, territorial integrity and unity. They hoped that the holding of free, democratic elections in Iraq would lead to greater political stability and acceptance by the people of Iraq.

About Pakistan- Iran relations, they underlined the numerous commonalities and age-old linkages upon which, they felt, a strong edifice of cooperation between the countries could be developed.

Both sides underscore the importance of laying of the Iran-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline. Foreign Minister Kasuri assured the Iranian leaders that Pakistan was prepared to give guarantees for security of the pipeline.

The former President Hashemi Rafsanjani praised the successful measures taken by President Musharraf in combating terrorism.


Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani Flown to London With Heart Condition

The Globe and Mail: "Charges may delay trial of Hussein

Ex-dictator's lawyer calls allegations against Chalabis a 'miracle from God'

Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - Page A9

WASHINGTON -- Murder and counterfeiting charges levelled in Baghdad against two U.S. protégés threaten to delay the trial of former dictator Saddam Hussein and could pose an obstacle to efforts aimed at holding elections in Iraq early next year.

Ahmed Chalabi, once the darling of the Pentagon hawks who pushed hardest for war against Iraq, and his nephew, Salem Chalabi, denounced the accusations against them yesterday. But Mr. Hussein's lawyer described the charges as a "miracle from God" that would aid his client.

At the same time, the interim Iraqi regime sought to distance itself from the tangled and explosive affair. And the United States tried to wash its hands of it.

"This is an Iraqi matter, and Iraqi authorities are working to address it," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters inquiring about the charges. "They're taking steps to address it. You need to address those questions to Iraqi authorities."

The United States poured millions of dollars into backing Ahmed Chalabi. For a time, some factions in Washington regarded him as a possible future leader in Iraq.

But Mr. McClellan said the former banker's difficulties were "not something that, to my knowledge, we've been involved in."

An Iraqi investigating judge issued warrants for the arrest of Ahmed Chalabi and 41-year-old Salem on Sunday. Ahmed is accused of counterfeiting old Iraqi dinars and exchanging them for new currency. Salem, who had been named to head the tribunal to try Mr. Hussein, was ordered arrested in connection with the murder of a senior Iraqi official.

A defence lawyer for Mr. Hussein, Ziad al-Khasawneh, seized on the allegation as evidence that the tribunal was illegitimate. "The court is headed by a murderer," he said in neighbouring Jordan. "It's a miracle from God to help Saddam Hussein."

Ahmed Chalabi was travelling in Iran when the warrants were issued.

In Tehran yesterday, he said counterfeit money found at his home in May had been collected under his authority as head of the finance committee of the now-dissolved Iraqi Governing Council, a post he was given during the U.S. occupation.

"The idea that I was involved in counterfeiting is ridiculous and the charges are being made for political purposes," he said.

The accusations against Salem Chalabi are more serious. They suggest he ordered or was involved in a contract killing of Haithem Fadhil, a Finance Ministry official who led an investigation into the circumstances under which the Chalabis had allegedly acquired prime properties in Baghdad.

"I don't have any recollection of meeting [Mr. Fadhil]," Salem Chalabi said in London yesterday. "I've never been in his office. I don't own any properties in Iraq. I stay at a friend's house."

Although both men vowed to return, the risk of trial in an uncertain legal environment could mean extended exile. In Salem Chalabi's case, Iraq recently reinstituted the death penalty as an optional punishment for murder.

Their absence might suit the interim government led by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a sometimes bitter rival of Ahmed Chalabi. His office declined to comment on the arrest warrants yesterday.

If the Chalabis remain in exile, it would complicate an already-fragmented political mix.

After he was left out of the interim government, Ahmed Chalabi was reportedly seeking an electoral alliance with Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr.

The alliance was far from fruition, but it remains unclear who would draw the votes of Iraq's Shia majority in next year's election.

Leading Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, considered a powerful moderate, was flown to London on the weekend, reportedly suffering from a heart condition.

If he remains off the political landscape, it will leave a leadership vacuum for Iraqi Shiites -- a role that both Mr. Chalabi and Muqtada al-Sadr aspired to fill.

As recently as May of this year, Ahmad Chalabi was receiving $340,000 a month from Washington and remained the favourite of neo-conservatives such as Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who pushed hard for the toppling of Mr. Hussein.

He was later accused of telling the Iranian government that U.S. spies had broken its diplomatic codes and were intercepting signals between Baghdad and Tehran."

Chalabi counterfeiting charges are Bogus

U.S. Is Accused of Playing Role in Chalabi Case: "U.S. Is Accused of Playing Role in Chalabi Case
A member of the former ally's party says Iraqi charges against him are part of a plot to weaken the government.

By Henry Chu and Paul Richter, Times Staff Writers
BAGHDAD — A top supporter of embattled former Iraqi exile leader Ahmad Chalabi accused the United States on Monday of backing bogus counterfeiting charges against the onetime American ally in order to neutralize Chalabi politically and install an "impotent" government.

Mithal Alusi, a member of Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress party, said arrest warrants issued by an Iraqi court over the weekend were part of an international plot that is "bigger than anyone could imagine" to strip Chalabi of his popularity.

The charges come a week before a conference of Iraqi civic and tribal leaders that will appoint an interim national assembly. Chalabi, who was shut out of the interim government that took power in June, was expected to play a lead role at the gathering.

"The warrants were issued by a government that is lacking in will and authority," Alusi said. "Every Iraqi government institution and facility is being run by so-called U.S. advisors who are under the control of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The people behind this plot want an impotent Iraqi government, not capable of doing anything."

Chalabi and his nephew, Salem Chalabi, were named in the arrest warrants issued by Zuhair Maliky, chief investigative judge of the Central Criminal Court of Iraq.

Salem Chalabi, who has been overseeing the effort to try deposed dictator Saddam Hussein on war crimes charges, was accused of murder in connection with threats made to a Finance Ministry official who was investigating Chalabi family real estate holdings. The official was later assassinated.

Both of the Chalabis issued new denials of the charges Monday, pledging to return to Iraq to fight them. Salem Chalabi was in London and Ahmad Chalabi was in Iran when the warrants were announced.

Ahmad Chalabi is accused of counterfeiting old Iraqi dinars. But Alusi said only about 3,000 counterfeit dinars, worth approximately $2, were found in Chalabi's office, and they were marked as forgeries with a red stamp from the Iraqi Central Bank. Chalabi, who headed the Finance Committee of the now-defunct Iraqi Governing Council, has said he was engaged in an effort to stem counterfeiting. Alusi said Chalabi held the forged dinars as part of that effort.

A Central Bank official said his agency never sought the counterfeiting charges.

"The Central Bank has not lodged a complaint against any individual regarding money counterfeiting and never requested that such charges be brought," Sinan Shabibi, the bank's governor, told the French news agency Agence France-Presse.

As Chalabi's supporters in Iraq insisted that the charges were politically motivated, U.S. officials in Washington sought to distance themselves from him in an estrangement that began this spring.

Chalabi worked closely with U.S. officials in the years before the Iraq war and was the top choice of the Bush administration for assuming leadership in a new Iraqi government.

But administration officials grew wary of him this year amid reports that he had contacts with Iran that may have included passing U.S. secrets. American officials also have been concerned that Chalabi has cultivated ties to militant Iraqi cleric Muqtada Sadr and his militia, who have been battling U.S. and Iraqi forces in renewed fighting since Thursday.

On Monday, the White House took a hands-off attitude to a onetime friend.

"His future will be decided by the people of Iraq, if he wants to continue to be involved in Iraq 's future," White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said. "This latest investigation, that is a matter for Iraqi authorities to handle."

The State Department, never as close to Chalabi as the White House or Pentagon, also distanced itself. Adam Ereli, a State Department spokesman, said the charges "are certainly new to us. This is a question of the Iraqi justice system at work. And we are going to play the appropriate role, which is to let that process take its course."

At the Pentagon, civilian officials have long supported Chalabi. As recently as May, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz defended him, saying that intelligence he had provided saved American lives and helped troops. But a Wolfowitz spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John F. Kerry pressed for more information about Chalabi and his activities.

"Serious questions about Ahmad Chalabi remain, including his role in providing misleading information about Iraqi weapons and his connections to Pentagon officials," a Kerry spokesman said Monday. "We need a full and frank accounting of the administration's relationship with Chalabi."

Still, the warrants for the Chalabis brought a strong defense from some of their allies in Washington, and illustrated the divisions over him among the war's supporters.

Richard N. Perle, a former top advisor to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and a leader of the so-called neoconservatives who embraced Chalabi and the war, said in an interview that he believed the warrants were part of an effort against Chalabi undertaken by the Iraqi government with the support of the U.S. government.

"I'm sure it's been encouraged by the U.S.," Perle said in an interview from Europe.

He said CIA and State Department officials have long opposed Chalabi and have convinced others in the government to move against him. Now officials in the White House oppose Chalabi as well, Perle said.

"It was those reports that led to a decision to destroy him," Perle said, adding that he believed there was no basis to the reports that Chalabi passed classified information to Iran.

Michael Rubin, a former advisor to the U.S.-led occupation authority in Iraq now at the American Enterprise Institute think tank, said the judge who issued the warrant was unqualified, and that the Bush administration and government of interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi wanted to keep Chalabi from gaining influence.

Rubin said the Allawi government had moved against Chalabi to prevent him from gaining a role in the upcoming conference. Maliky, the investigative judge, told The Times on Monday that politics had played no part in the issuance of the warrants.

Times staff writers T. Christian Miller and Edwin Chen in Washington and Janet Stobart in London contributed to this report."

Iraq: One Year Later by Douglas J. FeithAddress to AEI Tuesday, 4 May, 2004

Iraq: One Year Later by Douglas J. FeithAddress to AEI Tuesday, 4 May, 2004

Iraq:� One Year Later by Douglas J. Feith: "Iraq: One Year Later

Douglas J. Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Remarks to the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, 4 May, 2004

Speaker: Douglas Feith

· I’m pleased to be here at the American Enterprise Institute. I have some long-­time friends here, as you know if you’ve studied the published wiring diagrams that purport to illuminate the anatomy of the neo-con “cabal.”

· This AEI conference is being held to look at Iraq now that a year has passed since Coalition forces overthrew the Saddam Hussein regime.

Review of the Past Year

· At the beginning of May last year, seven weeks or so after the war started, major combat operations ended. Iraq has changed greatly over the last twelve months, and largely for the good, though the intensity of the fighting in recent days tends to overshadow the progress. It is true that the past weeks have been as costly to us as any since March 19, 2003. We’re in a difficult period now. So, sober reflection on where we stand, where we’re heading and why Iraq is important should be at a premium. This conference is timely.

· Iraq has been transformed since last May.

· First and foremost: The Saddam Hussein regime is gone and is not coming back. The threats that he posed to us and to his region have been eliminated and 25 million Iraqis have been liberated.

· Economically, Iraq is recovering, though the ruinous results of the Baathist decades continue to impede progress.

· Given its oil resources, and the education of its people, Iraq should have been a wealthy country. Under Saddam, however, its infrastructure became pathetically dilapidated. Coalition forces managed to spare most of that infrastructure from destruction during the war and, over the last year, the coalition has worked to repair and upgrade it.

· Electricity generation has surpassed pre-war levels and is more evenly distributed. Iraqi schools have been repaired in large numbers. Health care spending in Iraq is 30 times greater than its pre-war levels.

· Unemployment has fallen by nearly one-half over the past year. Inflation is a quarter of what it was before the war. A large-scale currency exchange was conducted successfully at the end of last year. The new currency has been remarkably stable, and its value has risen lately by 25% or so over its value last fall when the conversion was underway. Iraqi marketplaces are filled with consumer goods for the first time in decades.

· Politically too, Iraq has moved forward.

· At the national level, the major achievement has been the unanimous approval by Iraq’s Governing Council of the Transitional Administrative Law – the TAL – which will serve as the interim constitution until an elected assembly drafts a permanent constitution to be ratified by the Iraqi people.

· The TAL is the most liberal basic governance document in the Arab world, with assurances of basic freedoms and equality of all citizens before the law.

· As you may remember, the status of Islam was one of the more controversial issues in the drafting the TAL. The result was a compromise that includes protection of “freedom of religious belief and practice” and a provision that no law may contradict “the universally agreed tenets of Islam, the principles of democracy, or the [enumerated individual] rights cited” in the TAL.

· This latter provision’s precise meaning will have to be worked out over time – as is often the case with constitutional principles. But it’s noteworthy that the TAL assumes a compatibility among individual rights, democratic principles and the “universally agreed tenets of Islam.”

· The TAL’s text is important. But the process by which this interim constitution came into being may be even more so. After all, non-democratic regimes often have high-minded constitutions, decreed by the dictator, that are belied by the actual practice of officials who are above the law. By contrast, the TAL emerged from vigorous bargaining among diverse Iraqis – men and women, secularists and Islamists, Sunnis and Shia, Arabs and Kurds. It was not decreed by a cynic from on high. Rather it was debated, crafted and approved by the most representative governing body that Iraq has ever had.

· There have been welcome political developments at the local level too. Over ninety percent of Iraqi towns and provinces have local councils. More than half of the Iraqi population is active in community affairs.

· A number of Iraqi towns have held popular elections for local officials. Here is a press report about some successful local elections in Dhi Qar province. It comes from the Guardian, which – no doubt gritting its teeth – reported as follows on April 5:

… hundreds of would-be Iraqi voters pushed into a sparsely equipped school … to cast their ballots for the local council of Tar.

Deep in the marshlands of the Euphrates, the town of 15,000 people was the first to rise against Saddam Hussein … in 1991. Now it was holding the first genuine election in its history.

The poll was the latest in a series which this overwhelmingly Shia province has held in the past six weeks, and the results have been surprising. Seventeen towns have voted, and in almost every case secular independents and representatives of non-religious parties did better than the Islamists.

• This good has been wrought collectively by a large number of people – Iraqis, Americans and Coalition partners, military and civilian, government employees and others, who have served in Iraq during the past year. They have been self-sacrificing and brave. Iraqis in this effort have risked assassination, and refused to be intimidated as they committed themselves to building a new, free Iraq. Coalition troops – our own and those of partner countries – have borne the brunt of the fighting and are making sacrifices every day. Our forces deserve praise and gratitude for their bravery, resourcefulness, high mindedness and devotion to duty.

· It’s especially important to make this point now, as the horrific stories are told of the abuse of some Iraqi prisoners. The Defense Department’s leadership will continue to ensure that the ongoing investigations are completed properly and remedial action is taken. Individual accountability is crucial.

· Let me add: No country in the world upholds the Geneva Conventions on the law of armed conflict more steadfastly than does the United States. This is true not only because Americans recognize a moral obligation to be humane and because Americans are law-abiding by nature and in practice. It is true also because no country in the world has a greater practical interest than the United States in respect for the laws of war. We’ll deal promptly and properly with the terrible abuses. The interests and dignity of our numerous, admirable military forces must not be undermined by the reprehensible actions of a few individuals.

The Current Situation

· Now, I’d like to shift to some comments about the current security picture. There has been great interest in whether the fighting in Fallujah represents a widespread insurgency. It is not one now. Coalition forces, Iraqi authorities and the Coalition Provisional Authority are working with Sunni tribal and other leaders to try to ensure that it does not become a broad-based attack that could threaten the progress country-wide toward Iraqi self-rule. They are working to prevent the other major Sunni cities from erupting in sympathy with Fallujah.

· In the Shi’a community, Moqtada al Sadr’s power grab has not succeeded. According to all reports, support for him continues to decrease as the major Shi’a religious figures influence their community against him. Our desire to avoid fighting in the Shi’a holy city of Najaf has given Sadr something of a sanctuary for the moment, but the Shi’a community continues to pressure him to agree to a peaceful resolution of the situation.

· So neither Sadr nor the Fallujah anti-coalition fighters represent a broad movement or insurgency in Iraq. Unlike in other historical guerrilla or terror campaigns, hardly any bombings in Iraq have been accompanied by a claim of responsibility. The Ba’athists and terrorists behind the bombings know that they have no philosophical or political basis on which to appeal to the Iraqi people.

· Their only hope is that we will lose heart and depart, and that they will then be able to impose their rule on the Iraqis. This is not going to happen.

Why We Went to War

· This AEI conference is a good opportunity to remind ourselves of why we went to war in the first place.

· The controversy concerning our failure to find stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons has obscured the actual strategic rationale for the war – the public debate lately has focused on questions relating to the intelligence failure: Were the assessments “cooked?” Was there political influence on the intelligence process? And so forth.

· The intelligence failure, and the blow to US credibility that it caused, is a serious matter. We should get to the bottom of it, and the President’s decision to appoint a commission on WMD intelligence reflects his desire to do so.

· But that matter shouldn’t blind us to the larger point: The strategic rationale for the war didn’t actually hinge on classified information concerning chemical and biological stockpiles. Rather, it depended on assessments about the nature of the Saddam Hussein regime and its activities. The relevant facts were available to the public.

· Intelligence can play a crucial role in operational decision making. But it should surprise no one that the grandest strategic considerations of statesmen in democratic countries are commonly based on open, rather than secret, information. Such statesmen, after all, would have a hard time arguing that their country should go to war, for example, but the reasons for the war cannot be shared with the public. President Bush made no such argument. Rather, he explained to the American people and the world the reasons that it was necessary to oust the Saddam Hussein regime.

· Saddam’s regime was recognized widely as a threat to world peace since at least 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Saddam had launched aggressive attacks against a number of countries in his region. His military was the first in history to use nerve gas on the battlefield. He was outspokenly hostile to the United States and defiant of numerous attempts by the UN Security Council over a dozen years or so to constrain him and compel him to account for and destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

· Saddam had ties of various types with various terrorist groups. For example, the terrorist Abu Nidal lived in Iraq for years, as did Mahmoud Abbas, who was responsible for the hijacking of the Achille Lauro. In addition, Iraq maintained links with the Palestinian terrorist groups responsible for “suicide bombing” attacks and Saddam famously boasted of paying $25,000 to each family of a suicide bomber. Iraqi intelligence also carried out its own terrorist actions, notably the assassination attempt against former President Bush in Kuwait in 1993.

· All of these points were known to the public.

· The 9/11 attack compelled US policy makers to reevaluate the known dangers posed by the Saddam Hussein regime. It was clear that the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks would have gladly killed a hundred or a thousand times the number of their 9/11 victims if they had had the means to do so. The principal strategic danger to the United States in the war on terrorism is the possibility that terrorists could get their hands on chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. That was and remains the focus of our attention.

· Given Iraq’s record of hostility, aggression, WMD use and ties to terrorists – and given Saddam’s frustration of a dozen years’ worth of efforts by the UN, the US and others to “contain” him – President Bush concluded in light of the 9/11 attacks that it was necessary to remove the Saddam Hussein regime by force. The danger was too great that Saddam might give the fruits of his WMD programs to terrorists for use against the United States. This danger did not hinge on whether Saddam was actually stockpiling chemical or biological weapons.

· President Bush told the American people and the world that the removal of that regime would make the world safer, would free the Iraqi people and would open the way for the development of democratic institutions in Iraq that could inspire the growth of freedom throughout the Middle East. If Iraq built democratic institutions, it would not only help ensure that Iraq remains off the list of terrorism supporters, but it could help us in the crucial task of countering ideological support for terrorism. It would be of great practical benefit if Iraq became a model of moderation, freedom and prosperity. The terrorists of al Qaida and other organizations know how devastating that would be for their interests, which is why they are doing what they can to fight the Coalition in Iraq.

· It bears stressing again: What I have just summarized here was the strategic rationale for the war. Those were the considerations that moved the key US policy makers. On that basis, the President appealed for support to Congress and to the American people. On that basis, the President obtained the support of our coalition partners. As interesting as the intelligence questions are, assessing the strategic rationale for the war did not require anyone to have access to any secrets. Reasonable people did and do dispute whether that rationale justified the coalition’s military action. But I think no one can properly assert that the failure, so far, to find Iraqi WMD stockpiles undermines the reasons for the war.

Strategy in Iraq

· Accordingly, the Coalition’s strategic goal has been a unified Iraq that:

o Is on the path to democratic government and prosperity,

o Foreswears WMD,

o Does not support terrorism and

o Seeks to live in peace with its neighbors.

· We aim to achieve this by transferring power to a government in Iraq that will govern by compromise and consensus among the various ethnic and sectarian groups – that is, by the means used to produce the Transitional Administrative Law – rather than allow one group to oppress the others.

· The creation of such a government not only serves our strategic purposes, but it is a key to managing Iraq’s current security problems. We have a security interest in Iraqis’ understanding that the US and the Coalition have no desire to control, much less exploit Iraq or its resources. We want Iraqis to run their own country. Our strategy is to encourage and enable Iraqis to assume responsibility for their own affairs in all fields – security, economic and political.

· This is why the upcoming restoration of sovereign authority is so important to achieving our objectives in Iraq. I would argue that those who say that the current security problems will or should lead to a delay in the transfer of sovereign authority to the Iraqis have the analysis backwards.

· First, an early end to the occupation is essential to the political strategy for defeating the anti-Coalition forces. A sovereign Iraqi government will be better able to marginalize its extremist opponents politically while Coalition forces defeat them militarily. As the captured letter from Zarqawi to his Al Qaeda associates demonstrates, such a transformation is the worst possible scenario for those who oppose the emergence of democracy in Iraq. Zarqawi wrote: “How can we kill their cousins and sons and under what pretext, after the Americans start withdrawing? This is the democracy... we will have no pretext.” The Baathists and terrorists fear the return of sovereignty to the Iraqi people, and that’s why they are trying so hard to derail it.

· Second, Iraqis have shown reluctance to take responsibility if the Coalition Provisional Authority appears intent to remain in charge. This is understandable. Anybody who demonstrated leadership qualities and initiative under Saddam’s tyranny, more likely than not, was quickly killed by the regime. Consequently, without the sense of urgency and accountability that a fixed deadline imposes, Iraqi leaders have been unable to resolve the difficult issues required to conduct elections and shape a new government. But when such a deadline is established, as it was with the Transitional Administrative Law, Iraqi leaders have shown that they can come up with the compromises necessary for the Interim Iraqi Government to take shape.

The Importance of Steadiness

· The situation in Iraq is not easy. There is value in thinking calmly and comprehensively about our strategy – assessing the facts, updating assumptions, reviewing the formulation of our objectives, and deciding the ways to achieve them. Strategic thinking aims to see the important connections among the ideas and events that may appear superficially to be unconnected. And it aims to think ahead many steps into the future. Strategy takes a long view from a high elevation.

· It is well known that no pre-war prediction will unfold perfectly, and that there will be setbacks that require adjustments in both objectives and courses of action. In war, plans are at best the basis for future changes. This Coalition has the benefit of leadership and strategic thinking, but it has shown also that it can be flexible as necessary.

· Examples of flexibility include:

- Requesting a large amount of supplemental funds when it became clear that Iraqi reconstruction was going too slowly, in part because the Iraqi infrastructure proved to be in much worse shape than we expected.

- Creating a new type of indigenous force (the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps) to fill the gap left by the Iraqi police service, many of whose members turned out not to be as well trained as we had supposed.

- Responding to Iraqi demands for an earlier resumption of sovereignty by developing the idea of a transitional government that could take power before a permanent constitution is ratified.

- Dropping the “caucus plan” for selecting the transitional government, when it turned out to be unpopular with Iraqis, and substituting a two-step process involving an interim government that can take power before legislative elections.

- Revising the mechanisms for implementing the de-Baathification policy to address complaints that the appeals process was not working as intended, and to respond to the Sunni minority’s fears of marginalization.

· Throughout all these changes, we have retained the strategic objective of Iraqis stepping forward to run their own country under a proper, representative arrangement that can win broad-based support.

· A challenging mission such as Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) requires steadiness. If the basic strategy is correct, then steadiness in the face of setbacks is required. Even as tactical adjustments are made, the essence of the strategy continues to provide direction.

· Having a strategy means not being buffeted by the news of the day, not allowing fluctuating polls to determine what we do.

· History teaches that steadiness is a gem-like trait of a war-time leader. Yet when a president is steady, as President Bush has remained throughout OIF, some folks inevitably will describe his steadiness as unapologetic stubbornness. One can only imagine what today’s news media would have said about Winston Churchill in the face of his dogged refusal to change his strategy in the face of repeated setbacks! Steadiness, so long as one is willing as we have been to revisit assumptions and demonstrate tactical flexibility, is a virtue.


· One year after the end of major combat operations, we are still at war. As our target date for the hand-over of sovereign authority to the Iraqis draws close, we must expect that the enemies of a free Iraq will become more violent. They know that the establishment of a sovereign, credible, representative Iraqi government – a government that builds democratic institutions in Iraq – would be a major defeat for them, and they are determined not to let it happen. The struggle against them will not be easy, but they offer nothing to the Iraqi people but a renewal of oppression. The Coalition has the will, the forces, the resources and the strategy to succeed. And what we are fighting for is important and right.

Thank You"

Iran uranium ‘traced to Pak’ IRAN CLEARED!

The Statesman:

"Iran uranium ‘traced to Pak’

Associated Press
VIENNA, Aug. 10. — The UN’s nuclear watchdog has traced some particles of enriched uranium found in Iran to Pakistan. However, the International Atomic Energy Agency still cannot fully verify Teheran’s claims that all such material came into Iran on equipment bought on the black market, diplomats said today.
The reported finding boosts Iranian claims that it did not process uranium into its enriched form, which can be used both as fuel to generate power or as the core of nuclear warheads. It also weakens the case being built by the USA and its allies, which accuse Iran of past covert enrichment as part of a clandestine weapons programme.
The diplomats, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said the agency had only been able to conclusively link one sample found at one Iranian site to Pakistan — particles enriched to 54 per cent — although another sampling enriched to a lower degree might also have come on equipment bought from the network headed by Pakistani scientist Dr AQ Khan.
They said while the findings strengthened Iran’s hand ahead of the 13 September meeting of the IAEA board of governors, the agency still was far from establishing the origin of all traces of enriched uranium found in Iran, adding it may never be able to do so.
The diplomats, who are familiar with Iran’s nuclear dossier, said lack of clarity on that issue and Teheran’s past cover-ups, its spotty record of cooperation with the IAEA and its insistence on the right to enrich uranium still keep it in the UN agency’s spotlight.
The IAEA refused to comment today. IAEA spokeswoman Ms Melissa Fleming said no new findings of the agency would be made public ahead of a report being prepared for the September meeting.
The report, being written by IAEA director-general Md ElBaradei, will review the agency’s progress in clearing up open questions about nearly two decades of secret nuclear activities by Iran that were first revealed in 2003.
Most of the still-unanswered questions focus on the sources of traces of highly enriched uranium found at several sites in Iran, and the extent and nature of work on the advanced P-2 centrifuge, used to enrich uranium."

Parliament regards peaceful nuclear use as Iran's right: Speaker

Parliament regards peaceful nuclear use as Iran's right: Speaker: "Parliament regards peaceful nuclear use as Iran's right: Speaker
Tehran, Aug 10, IRNA -- Iran's Parliament Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel said on Tuesday that Majlis believes peaceful use of nuclear energy is the right of Iranian nation, saying Majlis defends national interest.
Talking to parliamentary reporters, Haddad Adel stressed that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been founded to give the countries the opportunity to use nuclear energy for peaceful aims.

"What is said about Iran due to the pressure of certain powers is aimed at preventing the country's peaceful nuclear energy.

"The measures adopted by Majlis deputies and discussions of its National Security Commission are all to restore the rights of Iranian nation," he said.

He stressed that Majlis and the government adopted "similar" stances to this effect.

Asked about the threats of US officials against Iran, the speaker stated, "The US president and several statesmen are looking for pretexts to oppose Iran. The US opposition to the Islamic Revolution is not a new stand on their part.

"They find the issue of weapons and nuclear energy as a new pretext."

Haddad Adel added, "They are quite aware of (the fact that) Iran fulfilled the IAEA regulations and there is no justification for such opposition."

Pointing to claims made by certain Western and Arab press about the possibility of any attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, he said, "Iran will surely respond to such threats. We are not expected to ignore the rights of the nation towards such threats."

He urged all nations and governments to resist and oppose the pressures and assignments imposed by a certain state on international circles."

Iran defense minister slams Iraq equal - (United Press International)

Iran defense minister slams Iraq equal - (United Press International): "Iran defense minister slams Iraq equal

Tehran, Iran, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani Tuesday rejected as nonsense accusations by his Iraqi counterpart that Iran is Iraq's worst enemy. 'The remarks made by the Iraqi defense minister do not reflect the opinion of the Iraqi people,' Shakhani was quoted as saying by the Iranian News Agency, IRNA.

He said Iraq's Hazem Shaalan was speaking out of inexperience because Iran looks forward to a future Iraq, 'which is united, independent and ruled by a popular government elected by the people and living in peace with its neighbors.' He denied as untrue Shaalan's accusations that Iran interfered in Iraq's internal affairs by backing Shiite rebels led by radical cleric Moqtada Sadr. 'There is no logical evidence or any official document to authenticate Shaalan's accusations,' Shamkhani said, urging his Iraqi counterpart 'not to repeat the unsuccessful experience' of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein by antagonizing Iraq's neighbors. 'Such attitude does not serve the interests of the countries in the region,' he added."

October surprise in Iran?

Salon.com News | October surprise in Iran?: "October surprise in Iran?
The Bush administration is set to take a tougher line with Tehran despite a lack of consensus among its allies.

By Simon Tisdall
Aug. 10, 2004 | The U.S. charge sheet against Iran is lengthening almost by the day, presaging destabilizing confrontations this autumn and maybe a preelection October surprise.

The Bush administration is piling on the pressure over Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. It maintains Tehran's decision to resume building uranium centrifuges wrecked a long-running European Union-led dialogue and is proof of bad faith.

The U.S. will ask a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Sept. 13 to declare Iran in breach of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, a prelude to seeking punitive U.N. sanctions.

Iran's insistence that it seeks nuclear power, not weapons, is scoffed at in Washington. John Bolton, the hawkish U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control, says there is no doubt what Tehran is up to. He has hinted at using military force should the U.N. fail to act. "The U.S. and its allies must be willing to deploy more robust techniques" to halt nuclear proliferation, including "the disruption of procurement networks, sanctions and other means." No option was ruled out, he said last year.

Last month in Tokyo, Bolton upped the ante again, accusing Iran of collaborating with North Korea on ballistic missiles.

Israel, Washington's ally, has also been stoking the fire. It is suggested there that if the West fails to act against Iran in timely fashion, Israel could strike preemptively as it did against Iraq's nuclear facilities in 1981, although whether it has the capability to launch effective strikes is uncertain.

The U.S. has been pushing other countries to impose de facto punishment on Iran. Japan has been asked to cancel its $2 billion investment in the Azadegan oilfield, and Washington has urged Russia to halt the construction of a civilian reactor.

Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. national security adviser, said last weekend there was a new international willingness to confront Tehran, but declined to rule out unilateral action if others did not go along.

That will fuel speculation in Tehran and elsewhere that the Bush administration may resort to force, with or without Israel, ahead of November's election. Options include "surgical strikes" or covert action by special forces.

Such a move would be a high-risk gamble for George Bush. After the WMD fiasco, there would inevitably be questions about the accuracy of U.S. intelligence. In the past Iran has vowed to retaliate. Although it is unclear how it might do so, the mood in Tehran has hardened since the conservatives won fiddled elections last winter.

"I think we've finally got the world community to a place, the IAEA to a place, that it is worried and suspicious," Rice said in one of a string of interviews with CNN, Fox News and NBC television. She vowed to aim some "very tough resolutions" at Iran this autumn. "Iran will either be isolated or it will submit," she said.

Officials in London say she exaggerated the degree of unanimity on what to do next. Britain, France and Germany are the E.U. troika that has pursued a policy of "critical engagement" with Iran, despite U.S. misgivings.

Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, has invested considerably in resolving the issue, traveling to Tehran on several occasions. A diplomatic collapse would be a blow.

"There has been no such decision at all," a Foreign Office spokesman said yesterday of U.S. efforts to take the dispute to the U.N. Security Council. "The dialogue [with Iran] is ongoing and the government still believes that negotiation is the way forward at this stage." But Britain is in danger of being dragged down a path of confrontation that it does not want to travel.

Nuclear weapons are not Washington's only worry. The U.S. charges include Iran's perceived meddling in Iraq, where the blame for the surge in Shiite unrest is laid partly at Tehran's door. It also takes exception to Iran's ambiguous attitude to al-Qaida and Tehran's backing for anti-Israeli groups such as Hezbollah. The recent Thomas Kean report on 9/11 detailed unofficial links between some of the al-Qaida hijackers and Iran.

Investigations into other terrorist attacks since 9/11, including this year's Madrid bombings and failed plots in Paris and London, point to an Iran connection, though the extent of any government involvement is obscure.

While the Bush administration is set on a tougher line there is no consensus even in Washington on what to do.

A report by the independent Council on Foreign Relations says since Iran is not likely to implode anytime soon, the U.S. should start talking.

"Iran is experiencing a gradual process of internal change," the report says. "The urgency of U.S. concerns about Iran and the region mandate that the U.S. deal with the current regime [through] a compartmentalized process of dialogue, confidence building and incremental engagement."

That suggestion was mocked by a Wall Street Journal editorial as "appeasement." Hawks say the nuclear issue is too urgent to brook further delay. And therein lies the rub. Bringing Iran in from the cold is a time-consuming business. But the Bush administration, as usual, is in a hurry."

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani: Islam Based On Democracy

Description of Selected News: "Islam Based On Democracy: EC Chairman

TEHRAN (IRNA) -- Chairman of the Expediency Council (EC) Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani here Monday analyzed Islam's view on people's rights to decide their own fate and said that Islam is actually based on democracy and the rule of the people.
Speaking at a gathering of members of the Central Committee of Iran's Welfare Party, he deplored enemies' attempts to pretend that Islam is against people's authority.
'However, history proves that people's rights to make decisions has been granted by divine religions, particularly Islam,' he added.
Turning to the crucial role of political parties in human communities and social developments, he said that to materialize democracy it is indispensable to establish organized and consolidated political bodies with proper planning and objectives.
EC chairman urged that people should be given the freedom to elect their desired type of administration and governance, just as the Iranian people did in case of Islamic Revolution.
Concerning the role of parties in promoting people's political understanding, Rafsanjani urged them to institutionalize their plans and platform to have a say in the administration of current affairs.
Referring to regional sensitive conditions, he said that at this point of time, special expertise and care is required in administrating the affairs to avoid any challenge facing the country and Islamic Revolution."

Iran Expected To Record Growth In Excess Of 7% In 2004

Description of Selected News: "

Iran Expected To Record Growth In Excess Of 7% In 2004

DUBAI (Khaleej Times) -- The immediate outlook for Middle East economies is upbeat. Last year the region posted its highest growth performance in a decade. This year is likely to be even stronger, experts say.

According to the latest economic report from Standard Chartered, while Iraq and regional security concerns may dominate the international agenda, the local focus is resolutely on the current economic boom.

"Although the region's political risks should not be downplayed, they need to be put in context. Last year, despite the war in Iraq, the AGCC expanded by 6.8 per cent and Iran by seven per cent. Amongst the non-oil producers, even the Lebanese economy has enjoyed something of a renaissance," Gill James, Standard Chartered's regional head of research, explained in the report.

"We expect the AGCC and Iran to record growth in excess of seven per cent in 2004. While Jordan, for example, is likely to post growth of at least six per cent this year, its best performance since 1995," he said.

High oil prices underpin the boom. Supply concerns and strong global demand have pushed oil prices to twenty year highs. To match demand the Persian Gulf is now close to producing oil at full capacity. Standard Chartered expects oil prices to remain high and volatile, with OPEC's benchmark oil price forecast to average $35 in this year.

Record oil prices are leading to record government revenues. The combined net oil exports of the Persian Gulf Co-operation Council are on course to exceed $180 billion in this year, a jump of $35 billion from 2003, the report said.

The region still faces long term challenges, in particular in terms of job creation and economic diversification. But the current boom and windfall oil revenues offer an opportunity to reform from a position of strength. Embracing further reform will be key for making current growth levels sustainable, it said."