Saturday, December 03, 2005

F.I. Looks At Latin American Arms Market, Sees Venezuelan Buildup

F.I. Looks At Latin American Arms Market, Sees Venezuelan Buildup

Posted 22-Nov-2005 11:32
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Chinese J-10
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Forecast International, who publishes overall market research forecasts for various sub-markets within the global defense industry (vid. DID's recent UAV market coverage), turned its attention to Latin America in general, and Venezuela in particular, in a recent report.

F.I. notes that over the past year Venezuela has adopted a military modernization program that could be worth as much as $30.7 billion through 2012, which would make the country the leading arms buyer in the region through the rest of the decade. DID has covered the recent freezing of a $100 million F-16 upgrade contract between Venezuela and Israel, at the insistence of the USA - but F.I. notes that many other programs are underway....

SU-30, Export Star

For instance, F.I. reports that Venezuela's Air Force is reportedly interested in 50 more Russian SU-30 or Chinese J-10 aircraft, and an equivalent number of Brazilian Super Tucano counterinsurgency aircraft. A Naval modernization program that could be worth up to $1 billion by 2010 for over 100 ships, submarines, and riverine boats. Meanwhile, the Army is reportedly interested in around 30 transport and gunship helicopters, and is in talks to buy light armored vehicles, artillery, and various electronics systems. An air defense upgrade program worth at least $150 million has also been launched with the purchase of Chinese JYL-1 long-range, 3-D radar systems for command of military air operations.

Venezuelan caudillo Hugo Chavez' anti-American politicies and campaigns to destabilize neighbouring states have provoked concern about the country's military buildup in the USA and within Latin America itself. Unsurprisingly, F.I. notes that Brazil, China, Russia, and Spain appear to be the favored sources for Venezuela's procurements, rather than the USA. DID recommends FAV-Club as a good site to keep tabs on Venezuela's military programs and equipment.

F.I. also notes that these military programs are fueled by, and also dependent upon, both continued high oil prices and Venezuela's ability to keep its production and distribution infrastructure operating effectively.

AT-27 Super Tucano

In contrast, F.I. characterizes yearly military spending in the region as a whole as "in a quiet phase," and notes that traditionally, Latin American military budgets tend to be heavily (80%) weighted toward paying salaries and benefits rather than toward equipment purchases (20%). Chile has leveraged high copper price to pay for some new equipment lately, but even the traditionally strong Brazilian defense market has been rather weak of late thanks to reduced defense budgets and the Lula government's political problems.

Overall, Forecast International sees military spending in the region increasing modestly from $31.75 billion in 2006 to $33.38 billion annually by 2010.

As for US involvement in the Latin American market, its priorities would appear to be elsewhere. Amidst a left-wing screed that illustrates a questionable understanding of both military purchasing, financing, and indeed geopolitics in general, the World Policy Institute does offer a few somewhat useful figures. They claim that military aid to Latin America has increased sharply since 2000, to $122 million by 2003. Observers may note that based on F.I.'s figures, this represents less than half of 1% of overall regional military spending in 2006.

WPI also notes that U.S. funding for military training in Latin America has increased at a proportional rate to its overall global funding for this purpose, to $13.6 million for 2006. This will fund training for 3,221 Latin American soldiers in everything from counterintelligence to helicopter repair. Colombia tops the recent list with $9.3 million in military training aid since 2000, a sharp increase of almost 90% over six years as a result of their ongoing war with FARC and other narcoterrorists. IMET funding to El Salvador, Nicaraguand Panama has also risen lately.

Behind Colombia and El Salvador, WPI claims that Argentina is the third largest recipient of military aid in Latin America, with a total of $6.3 million between 2000 and 2006. Panama is also described as a "major" recipient of military aid, "with a total of $5 million for the same period."

Oddly, Venezuelan military spending did not receive any attention at all in WPI's Latin American "Arms Trade Resource Center Fact Sheet".

Additional Readings

Bullet Points over Baghdad

Bullet Points over Baghdad
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

Friday 02 December 2005

The National Security Council document released this week under the grandiose title "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" is neither an analytical report nor a policy statement. It's simply the same old talking points - "victory in Iraq is a vital U.S. interest"; "failure is not an option" - repackaged in the style of a slide presentation for a business meeting.

It's an embarrassing piece of work. Yet it's also an important test for the news media. The Bush administration has lost none of its confidence that it can get away with fuzzy math and fuzzy facts - that it won't be called to account for obvious efforts to mislead the public. It's up to journalists to prove that confidence wrong.

Here's an example of how the White House attempts to mislead: the new document assures us that Iraq's economy is doing really well. "Oil production increased from an average of 1.58 million barrels per day in 2003, to an average of 2.25 million barrels per day in 2004." The document goes on to concede a "slight decrease" in production since then.

We're not expected to realize that the daily average for 2003 includes the months just before, during and just after the invasion of Iraq, when its oil industry was basically shut down. As a result, we're not supposed to understand that the real story of Iraq's oil industry is one of unexpected failure: instead of achieving the surge predicted by some of the war's advocates, Iraqi production has rarely matched its prewar level, and has been on a downward trend for the past year.

What about the security situation? During much of 2004, the document tells us: "Fallujah, Najaf, and Samara were under enemy control. Today, these cities are under Iraqi government control."

Najaf was never controlled by the "enemy," if that means the people we're currently fighting. It was briefly controlled by Moktada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. The United States once vowed to destroy that militia, but these days it's as strong as ever. And according to The New York Times, Mr. Sadr has now become a "kingmaker in Iraqi politics." So what sort of victory did we win, exactly, in Najaf?

Moreover, in what sense is Najaf now under government control? According to The Christian Science Monitor, "Sadr supporters and many Najaf residents say an armed Badr Brigade" - the militia of a Shiite group that opposes Mr. Sadr and his supporters - "still exists as the Najaf police force."

Meanwhile, this is the third time that coalition forces have driven the insurgents out of Samara. On the two previous occasions, the insurgents came back after the Americans left. And there, too, it's stretching things to say that the city is under Iraqi government control: according to The Associated Press, only 100 of the city's 700 policemen show up for work on most days.

There's a lot more like that in the document. Refuting some of the upbeat assertions about Iraq requires specialized knowledge, but many of them can be quickly debunked by anyone with an Internet connection.

The point isn't just that the administration is trying, yet again, to deceive the public. It's the fact that this attempt at deception shows such contempt - contempt for the public, and especially contempt for the news media. And why not? The truth is that the level of misrepresentation in this new document is no worse than that in a typical speech by President Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney. Yet for much of the past five years, many major news organizations failed to provide the public with effective fact-checking.

So Mr. Bush's new public relations offensive on Iraq is a test. Are the news media still too cowed, too addicted to articles that contain little more than dueling quotes to tell the public when the administration is saying things that aren't true? Or has the worm finally turned?

There have been encouraging signs, notably a thorough front-page fact-checking article - which even included charts showing the stagnation of oil production and electricity generation! - in USA Today. But the next few days will tell.

Bush caught in another lie

Embedded TIME Reporter: Bush Lied In Speech Yesterday About Iraqi Security Forces

Yesterday, President Bush claimed that Iraqi security forces ?primarily led? the assault on the city of Tal Afar. Bush highlighted it as an ?especially clear? sign of the progress Iraq security forces were making in Iraq.

The progress of the Iraqi forces is especially clear when the recent anti-terrorist operations in Tal Afar are compared with last year?s assault in Fallujah. In Fallujah, the assault was led by nine coalition battalions made up primarily of United States Marines and Army ? with six Iraqi battalions supporting them?This year in Tal Afar, it was a very different story. The assault was primarily led by Iraqi security forces ? 11 Iraqi battalions, backed by five coalition battalions providing support.

TIME Magazine reporter Michael Ware, who is embedded with the U.S. troops in Iraq who participated in the Tal Afar battle, appeared on Anderson Cooper yesterday. He said Bush?s description was completely untrue:

I was in that battle from the very beginning to the very end. I was with Iraqi units right there on the front line as they were battling with al Qaeda. They were not leading. They were being led by the U.S. green beret special forces with them.

Watch it:

(Quicktime Streaming)

Sen. John Warner (R-VA) who was also on Anderson Cooper yesterday said ?I respect those journalists that embed themselves and I accept as a credible description what you?ve just put forward.?

Full Transcript:

COOPER: You know this is not one of the shows where we take sides. I really try to just look at facts on the ground, and the President in his speech talked about the battle of Tal Afar. And in his speech today, he said that it was led primarily by Iraqi security forces, eleven Iraqi battalions, backed by five coalition battalions providing support. He used this as compared to the battle of Fallujah as an example of how much better the Iraqis are doing. Earlier, I talked to Time Magazine?s Michael Ware, the Baghdad bureau chief who was embedded during the entire battle. I want to play you what he said about the Iraqi units he saw.

WARE: I was in that battle from the very beginning to the very end. I was with Iraqi units right there on the front line as they were battling with al Qaeda. They were not leading. They were being led by the U.S. green beret special forces with them. Green berets who were following an American plan of attack who were advancing with these Iraqi units as and when they were told to do so by the American battle planners. The Iraqis led nothing.

COOPER: Do you think the president was correct in saying that this was an Iraqi victory, that the Iraqis were leading the way?

WARNER: Well, I?ll let the commanders sort that out but I - first I respect those journalists that embed themselves and I accept as a credible description what you?ve just put forward. But you didn?t hear him say they cut and run like they did in Fallujah. You didn?t hear him say that the Iraqis dropped the arms. He said they were fighting. Now it may well have been that the battle plan was drawn up by the coalition forces, probably the U.S. leading.

Venezuela Builds Pipeline Stretching to Argentina

Venezuela Builds Pipeline Stretching to Argentina

Venezuela has signed an agreement with Argentina to build a natural gas pipeline, supplying energy for Argentina.

The agreement was reached after the meeting between Argentine president Nestor Kirchner and Venezuela president Hugo Chavez on Monday.

The 6,000-kilometre-pipeline is been estimated at 10 billion US dollars.

Commenting on the agreement, Argentinean President Nestor Kirchner said that two countries were taking a "historic step" in deepening ties.

"It is very important what we accomplish this afternoon, what we are signing today, this is a forward step to in the bilateral relation, and I believe an historic one, an historic step that is also a precedent for the region integration."

Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil exporter, is planning to build a network of pipelines carrying its natural gas to South American markets, and eventually tapping into supplies in Bolivia, in the bottom of South America.

FBI's Sham Candidate Crawled Under W.Va.'s Political Rock

FBI's Sham Candidate Crawled Under W.Va.'s Political Rock

By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 2, 2005; A01

The three men were sitting in a car outside a rural elementary school in West Virginia when the candidate handed over $2,000 in cash and said, "Buy all the votes you can."

In the hamlets and hollows of Logan County, where political shenanigans are legendary and it's said that a vote can be bought for a pint of whiskey or a $10 bill, some say there was nothing extraordinary about the transaction.

Here's what made it unusual: Although Thomas E. Esposito was on the ballot as a candidate for the state House of Delegates, he wasn't really running for office.

The small-town lawyer and former mayor was just bait. And when the FBI lowered him into the murky waters of southern West Virginia politics last year, it dangled him like a shiny lure.

The whole affair landed yesterday in a Charleston courtroom, where a defense attorney cried foul, accusing the government of "outrageous" conduct and of violating the sanctity of the election process. He said the charade robbed 2,175 citizens who voted for Esposito -- unaware he wasn't for real -- of a constitutional right.

But a federal judge sided with the government, ruling after a 30-minute hearing that corruption in Logan County had been endemic "for longer than living memory" and that the bogus election campaign might have been the only way to root it out.

In Logan County, which is about an hour south and a world removed from Charleston, there are people who agree. "This stuff has been going on since I was a kid," Kenneth McCoy, 54, a disabled miner, said this week. "They had to come up with some way to stop it. Personally, I have no problem with it."

Political corruption in southern West Virginia goes back generations, residents and observers say.

"Federal authorities have been intervening in southern West Virginia for 80 years, at least," said Topper Sherwood, co-author of a 1994 book on longtime Logan County political chieftain Raymond Chafin. "More often than not, their role is to come in and remove power from those who have acquired it illegally."

Moss Burgess, 62, a retired Logan County high school chemistry teacher who has run unsuccessfully for local office, said: "I'm glad that somebody's trying to clean up the system in this county. Most people, they've more or less accepted it as common."

U.S. District Judge David A. Faber, chief judge for the Southern District of West Virginia, asserted in yesterday's ruling: "It has been nearly impossible to prosecute corruption in Logan County because persons with knowledge of it are reluctant to testify against others in their community."

The current case began in 2003, when Esposito, a lawyer who had been mayor of the City of Logan for 16 years, entered a plea agreement with the government in a corruption case, according to court papers. He had been accused of paying the $6,500 bar tab of a local magistrate for reasons not specified and then paying the magistrate to keep quiet about the arrangement. The magistrate was later indicted on an extortion charge.

Under the plea agreement, Esposito began helping the Justice Department in its investigation of county political corruption, which the department described as "commonplace and widespread."

Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Booth Goodwin II, in a court filing last month, said that as Esposito met under cover with people about vote buying in the run-up to the 2004 primaries, investigators concluded that a campaign sting could provide a "virtual treasure trove of evidence."

"Without that step, it was feared, the undercover operation would dissolve, and a valuable opportunity to catch a number of persons in the act . . . would be lost," Goodwin wrote. So the government had Esposito run. He entered the race Jan. 30, 2004, filing the appropriate papers with the West Virginia secretary of state. He was one of 10 Democratic candidates for four seats in House District 19, which includes Logan County.

"He had signs; he had stickers; he showed up at campaign events," said Chris Stratton, a reporter for the Logan Banner newspaper. "All that stuff was for show. It was there to make him look like a legitimate candidate."

Gregory J. Campbell, the attorney for Perry French Harvey Jr., 56, the defendant in the case, said: "The government knew that all this was false. [Esposito] was bait. Nothing more, nothing less. They tossed him out there, and they were seeing who'd come packing. And he was live bait. He was out there, and he was active."

According to court papers, on April 12, 2004, Esposito met with Harvey, a retired coal miner, and another man, Ernie Ray Mangus, at a political rally at the elementary school. They sat in Esposito's car, and Esposito gave Mangus the $2,000. Mangus, who Campbell said has been granted government immunity, gave half the money to Harvey.

"The other guy gives my guy 1,000 bucks, and that was as far as it goes," Campbell said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "The other guy has been given immunity and will testify that my client knew that the money was to buy votes. . . . [Harvey] was told by the guy that had the money, 'Esposito gave me this and said buy all the votes you can.' My guy said, 'I ain't buying any votes,' and didn't."

Harvey, who voted for Esposito, was indicted Aug. 17 on one count of conspiracy to buy votes. He is scheduled to go on trial Dec. 14. Yesterday's ruling was on his attorney's October motion to have the charges dismissed. Esposito, reached at his law office in Logan County, declined to comment yesterday.

The FBI withdrew Esposito from the race two days after the meeting with Harvey and Mangus, and the Justice Department has said it took great pains to alert the public by way of the media. But his name remained on the ballot, and on primary day -- May 11, 2004 -- he got more than 2,000 votes, placing last in the field.

"By placing a false candidate in the election, a sham candidate, one [the government] knew could not take office, every vote that was cast for Esposito was a vote that an honest voter could have cast for an honest candidate," Campbell wrote in his motion to have the charges dismissed.

But Goodwin, the government attorney, countered in a filing that the decision to have Esposito run was approved by his office, the local FBI special agent in charge and the agency's Criminal Undercover Operations Review Committee in Washington, whose approval is required for all sensitive FBI undercover operations.

"Esposito did not engage in any unlawful conduct by becoming a candidate for the House of Delegates," Goodwin wrote. "Rather, his candidacy merely provided the stage on which defendant acted."

"The conduct of the United States in carrying out the undercover investigation was necessary and proper to root out systemic corruption," he wrote.

Judge Faber noted yesterday that previous rulings have held that for a government investigative action to be improper it "must be so outrageous as to shock the conscience of the court."

"Here, in looking at the totality of the circumstances," he wrote, "the court's conscience is not shocked in the slightest."

During the hearing, Campbell said, the judge asked him: What else could the Justice Department have done?

"Not violate the constitutional rights of the voters of Logan County," he said he replied.

Iran to develop oilfield in Venezuela soon

Iran to develop oilfield in Venezuela soon

TEHRAN, Nov. 23 (MNA) ? Golam-Reza Manuchehri, the managing director of Petropars Company told the Mehr News Agency that Iran will soon launch the construction operations of developing an oilfield in Venezuela.

He explained that three experts of the company will be dispatched next week to Venezuela to hold negotiations and finalize the contract on developing an oilfield in the Gulf of Venezuela.

The construction operation of the said oil project would be launched as soon as the contract is finalized, he added.

?This is the first oil project of Iran that is implemented 0abroad?, he noted.

Manuchehri explained that the project values at $2 billion, whose capital is equally supplied by Iran and the client country.

He further explained that at the first stage, the studies are conducted in order to determine the existence of oil in the field. This is carried out by the Iranian and foreign consultants.

According to the news agency, the state-owned Petr?leos de Vene-zuela (PDVSA) ? state-owned Venezuelan oil company ? and Iranian Petropars Company have previously signed a pre-contract on development project in three regions of the Gulf of Venezuela, Mariscal offshore gas field, and an oilfield with 4 blocs early this Iranian year (started March 21, 2005). The pre-contract was to be finalized three months later.

Among the three projects, Petropars voiced its willingness to implement the project of Gulf of Venezuela.

US tried to plant WMDs, failed: whistleblower

US tried to plant WMDs, failed: whistleblower

Daily Times Monitor

According to a stunning report posted by a retired Navy Lt Commander and 28-year veteran of the Defense Department (DoD), the Bush administration?s assurance about finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was based on a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) plan to ?plant? WMDs inside the country. Nelda Rogers, the Pentagon whistleblower, claims the plan failed when the secret mission was mistakenly taken out by ?friendly fire?, the Environmentalists Against War report.

Nelda Rogers is a 28-year veteran debriefer for the DoD. She has become so concerned for her safety that she decided to tell the story about this latest CIA-military fiasco in Iraq. According to Al Martin, ?Ms Rogers is number two in the chain of command within this DoD special intelligence office. This is a ten-person debriefing unit within the central debriefing office for the Department of Defense.?

The information that is being leaked out is information ?obtained while she was in Germany heading up the debriefing of returning service personnel, involved in intelligence work in Iraq for the DoD and/or the CIA. ?According to Ms Rogers, there was a covert military operation that took place both preceding and during the hostilities in Iraq,? reports Al Martin, an online subscriber-based news/analysis service which provides ?Political, Economic and Financial Intelligence?.

Al Martin is a retired Lt Commander (US Navy), the author of a memoir called ?The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran-Contra Insider,? and is considered one of America?s foremost experts on corporate and government fraud. Ms Rogers reports that this particular covert operation team was manned by former military personnel and ?the unit was paid through the Department of Agriculture in order to hide it, which is also very commonplace?.

According to Al Martin, ?the Agriculture Department has often been used as a paymaster on behalf of the CIA, DIA, NSA and others?. According to the Al Martin story, another aspect of Ms Rogers? report concerns a covert operation which was to locate the assets of Saddam Hussein and his family, including cash, gold bullion, jewelry and assorted valuable antiquities. The problem became evident when ?the operation in Iraq involved 100 people, all of whom apparently are now dead, having succumbed to so-called ?friendly fire?. The scope of this operation included the penetration of the Central Bank of Iraq, other large commercial banks in Baghdad, the Iraqi National Museum and certain presidential palaces where monies and bullion were secreted.?

?They identified about $2 billion in cash, another $150 million in Euros, in physical banknotes, and about another $100 million in sundry foreign currencies ranging from Yen to British Pounds,? reports Al Martin.

?These people died, mostly in the same place in Baghdad, supposedly from a stray cruise missile or a combination of missiles and bombs that went astray,? Martin continues. ?There were supposedly 76 who died there and the other 24 died through a variety of ?friendly fire?, ?mistaken identity? and some of them?their whereabouts are simply unknown.? Ms Rogers? story sounds like an updated 21st-century version of Treasure Island meets Ali Baba and the Bush Cabal Thieves, writes Martin.

?This was a contingent of CIA/ DoD operatives, but it was really the CIA that bungled it,? Ms Rogers said. ?They were relying on the CIA?s ability to organise an effort to seize these assets and to be able to extract these assets because the CIA claimed it had resources on the ground within the Iraqi army and the Iraqi government who had been paid. That turned out to be completely bogus. As usual.?

?CIA people were supposed to be handling it,? Martin continues. ?They had a special ?black? aircraft to fly it out. But none of that happened because the regular US Army showed up, stumbled onto it and everyone involved had to scramble. These new Iraqi ?asset seizures? go directly to the New US Ruling Junta. The US Viceroy in Iraq Paul Bremer is reportedly drinking Saddam?s $2000 a bottle Napoleon-era brandy, smoking his expensive Davidoff cigars and he has even furnished his office with Saddam?s Napoleon-era furniture.

US on Defensive as Reports of 'Secret Torture Flights' Pile Up

US on Defensive as Reports of 'Secret Torture Flights' Pile Up
Agence France-Presse

Friday 02 December 2005

The United States was facing mounting embarrassment as allegations continued to emerge of a shadowy network of both secret prison camps and CIA "torture flights" carrying undeclared detainees through European and other countries.

In the latest such report the British newspaper The Guardian said Thursday it had seen navigation logs showing that more than 300 flights operated by the US Central Intelligence Agency had passed through European airports, as part of a network that could be involved in the clandestine detention and possible torture of terrorism suspects.

The claims have emerged since November 2, when the Washington Post newspaper reported that "black site" prisons were, or had been, located in eight countries including Thailand, Afghanistan and "several democracies in Eastern Europe" since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The paper also said that the CIA had used planes to send more than 100 suspects to the hidden global internment network, not including prisoners picked up from Iraq.

Its report did not name the European countries involved, but Poland, a European Union member, has denied being one of them, as has Romania.

There have been widespread reports that the alleged network could involve both the transport and torture of undeclared detainees.

The EU has meanwhile threatened sanctions against any of its member states found to have been operating such prisons, or allowing their territory to be used for the transport of the phantom detainees.

The United States on Wednesday promised a timely and forthright reply to the EU concerns.

In Thursday's report the Guardian said flight logs its reporters had seen showed that CIA planes visited Germany 96 times and Britain 80 times, though when charter flights were added this figure rose to more than 200. France was only visited twice and Austria not at all, the newspaper said.

The logs also showed regular trips to Eastern Europe, including 15 stops in the Czech capital Prague.

"Only one visit is recorded to the Szymany airbase in north-east Poland, which has been identified as the alleged site of a secret CIA jail," The paper added.

Among other reports relating to alleged secret flights through European countries:

* The Danish transport ministry said in September that it had recorded at least 20 illegal over-flights by CIA planes since 2001.

* The Hungarian government said last month that two CIA craft had landed at Budapest airport in the past two years.

* Iceland said it was not satisfied with Washington's response to allegations that CIA planes had landed on its territory at least 67 times since 2001.

* Portuguese Foreign Minister Diogo Freitas do Amaral said he would report to parliament on December 13 on reports of illicit CIA flights passing through the country, including three incidents last March.

* Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said his government would be looking into reports that US planes had both flown over and landed in his country on secret missions that could be linked to transports of undeclared terrorism suspects.

Planes allegedly operated by the CIA have also been spotted at airports in Finland, Germany, Italy, Romania, Spain and Sweden as well as Morocco.

How Bush Created a Theocracy in Iraq

How Bush Created a Theocracy in Iraq
By Juan Cole

Friday 02 December 2005

The Bush administration naively believed that Iraq was a blank slate on which it could inscribe its vision for a remake of the Arab world. Iraq, however, was a witches' brew of dynamic social and religious movements, a veritable pressure cooker. When George W. Bush invaded, he blew off the lid.

Shiite religious leaders and parties, in particular, have crucially shaped the new Iraq in each of its three political phases. The first was during the period of direct American rule, largely by Paul Bremer. The second comprised the months of interim government, when Iyad Allawi was prime minister. The third stretches from the formation of an elected government, with Ibrahim Jaafari as prime minister, to today.

In the first phase, expatriate Shiite parties returned to the country to emerge as major players, to the consternation of a confused and clueless "Coalition Provisional Authority."

The oldest of these was the Dawa Party, founded in the late 1950s as a Shiite answer to mass parties such as the Communist Party of Iraq and the Arab nationalist Baath Party. Dawa means the call, as in the imperative to spread the faith. Dawa Party leaders in the 1960s and 1970s dreamed of a Shiite paradise to rival the workers' paradise of the Marxists, with a state ruled by Islamic law, where a "consultative council" somehow selected by the community would make further regulations in accordance with the Koran. The Dawa Party organized covert cells throughout the Shiite south. In 1980, in the wake of the Khomeini revolution in Iran, Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party cracked down hard on Dawa, executing many of its leaders, attacking its party workers and making membership in the party a crime punishable by death. The upper echelons of the Baath were dominated by Sunni Arabs who disliked religious Shiites, considering them backward and Iran-oriented rather than progressive and Arab. In the same year, 1980, Saddam invaded Iran, beginning a bloody eight-year-long war with his Shiite neighbor.

In the early 1980s, Iran came to be viewed in Washington as public enemy Number 2, right after the Soviet Union. In the Cold War, the United States had viewed Iran as a key asset, and in 1953 the CIA overthrew the populist government of elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, which had broken with the country's monarch. The US put the autocratic Mohammad Reza Shah back on his throne, building him up as an absolute monarch with a well-trained secret police and jails overflowing with prisoners of conscience. The shah's obsequiousness toward the US, and his secularism, provoked the ire of many religious Shiites in Iran. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, exiled as a troublemaker in 1963, had lived from 1964 to 1978 in Iraq, where he developed a new doctrine that clerics should rule. In 1978 he was expelled from Iraq to Paris and helped lead the revolution of 1978-79 that overthrew the shah and brought Khomeini to power as theocrat in chief.

Khomeini's rise coincided with that of Saddam, a secular Sunni. Thousands of activist Shiites from Iraq fled to Iran, and the leadership congregated in Tehran. In 1982, with the support of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iraqi Shiite exiles formed a militant umbrella group, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Dawa was also active there. Among its leaders was a physician from the Shiite holy city of Karbala named Ibrahim Jaafari. In 1984, the cleric Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim became the head of SCIRI. From Iran, both Dawa and SCIRI mounted commando attacks on Baathist facilities and officials, attempting to overthrow the Baath government. In 1989 Jaafari and other lay leaders of the Dawa Party relocated to London, seeking greater freedom of action than they could attain under the watchful eyes of the ayatollahs in Tehran.

During the Gulf War of 1990-91, when the US and its allies pushed Saddam Hussein's forces back out of Kuwait, President George H.W. Bush called on Iraqis to rise up against the dictator. The Shiites took him at his word, launching a popular revolution in the spring of 1991 in which they took control of the southern provinces. Bush, fearful of a Shiite Islamic republic, then allowed the Baath to crush the revolution, killing tens of thousands. In the aftermath, two clerical leaders emerged: Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, originally from Iran but resident in Najaf since late 1951, took a cautious and quietist course, teaching religion but staying out of politics. His rival, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, increasingly defied Saddam, organizing poor Shiites into a puritanical form of religion. In 1999 the Baath secret police killed al-Sadr and his two older sons. His middle son, Muqtada, went underground. The religious Shiite parties established their credibility with the Shiite public by their dissident activities.

In the run-up to the March 2003 US invasion of Iraq, both the London branch of the Dawa Party and the Tehran-based Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq engaged in consultations with Washington. Both had been involved in extensive meetings with secular Shiite politician Ahmed Chalabi, who organized the Iraqi National Congress as an expatriate party aimed at overthrowing the Baath. When Saddam fell, leaders of both Shiite organizations established themselves in Iraq. Ibrahim Jaafari came from London with his colleagues and sought to organize the Dawa Party as a populist political force in the Shiite south. Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq made a triumphal journey overland from Tehran to Iraq. SCIRI immediately launched membership drives in the villages and small cities of the Shiite south and garnered thousands, perhaps millions, of new members over the next year and a half.

In April and May of 2003, after the fall of Saddam, the Sadr movement emerged into the spotlight. Muqtada al-Sadr, just 30 years old, did not have the scholarly credentials to be a great clerical leader, but the fanatic devotion of the slum-dwelling Shiite masses to his father ensured that he, too, would be met with acclaim when he came out of hiding. He organized the takeover by his followers of most major mosques in the ghetto of East Baghdad, which was promptly renamed Sadr City in honor of Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr. He immediately launched regular demonstrations against what he characterized as the US occupation of Iraq, demanding that American troops depart immediately. In the summer of 2003, he began organizing his militia, the Mahdi Army. He desires a theocratic government similar to that in Iran.

The US State Department, fearful that the Pentagon might install corrupt expatriate politician Chalabi in power in Iraq, convinced President George W. Bush instead to send in Paul Bremer, who had been a career foreign service officer. Bremer intended initially to rule Iraq single-handedly. As the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement gained momentum in May and June, it became clear to him that he could not hope to rule Iraq by himself, and he appointed a governing council of 25 members. Ibrahim Jaafari of Dawa and Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim of SCIRI were appointed, as were several prominent figures with backgrounds in the Iraqi Dawa Party, along with Sunni Arabs and members of minorities.

Bremer's plan to have the constitution written by a committee appointed by himself foundered when it met strong objections from Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. In a fatwa, or legal ruling, Sistani insisted that an Iraqi constitution must be drafted by delegates to a constituent assembly elected by the Iraqi people. Bremer initially discounted this criticism. He is alleged to have asked one of his aides, "Can't we get a fatwa from some other mullah?" It gradually became apparent that Sistani's authority was such that he could overrule the US proconsul on this issue.

By October of 2003, as the guerrilla war grew, it became clear that Bremer could not in fact hope to rule Iraq by fiat, and that the US would have to hand sovereignty back to the Iraqis. Bremer's initial plan was to hold circumscribed elections for a parliament. Most voters would be members of the provincial councils (each with 16 to 40 members) that the US and Britain had somehow massaged into existence.

Again, Sistani objected, insisting that only open, one-person, one-vote elections could guarantee a government that reflected the will of the Iraqi people. It was almost as though Sistani were quoting French political philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau to the Americans. He also insisted on a prominent role for the United Nations as midwife to the new Iraq. When it seemed as though the Bush administration might ignore him, Sistani brought 40,000 demonstrators into the streets in Basra and 100,000 in Baghdad in mid-January of 2004. The Bush administration immediately acquiesced. US special envoy Ibrahim Lakhdar came for extensive consultations, and elections were set for January 2005. In the meantime, the US would hand sovereignty to an appointed government for six months, with a supporting United Nations resolution.

The weakness of the US in Iraq encouraged the proliferation of party paramilitaries. The Dawa Party began having men patrol in some cities. SCIRI expanded its Badr Corps militia, originally trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. These militias avoided conflict with the US because their parties had a marriage of convenience with the Bush administration, and because they agreed not to carry heavy weaponry. It is alleged that the Supreme Council continues to receive substantial help from Iran, and that the clerics in Tehran still pay the salaries of some of the Badr Corps fighters. The likelihood is that the Iranians give at least a little money and support to a wide range of Shiite politicians in Iraq, including some secularists, so that whoever comes out on top is beholden to them. The mullahs in Iraq probably support the Supreme Council more warmly than any other political party, however.

In contrast, the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr was viewed by the Americans as a threat, even though the Sadrists seldom came into violent conflict with US troops. As the handover of sovereignty approached, the Americans in Iraq suddenly announced that they wanted to kill or capture Muqtada al-Sadr, and they arrested several of his key aides in early April 2004. He responded by launching a massive revolt, which initially succeeded in taking control of East Baghdad and several southern cities. Through hard fighting, the US military gradually defeated the Mahdi Army, reaching a truce in early June. In August, fighting broke out again between the Sadrists and the Marines in the holy city of Najaf. This crisis was resolved when Sistani returned from London after a heart procedure there to call for all Iraqis to march on Najaf. The flooding of the city by civilians made further fighting impossible, and Muqtada al-Sadr slipped away. Thereafter Muqtada fell quiet for many months. When he reemerged, it was as a political broker rather than simply a warlord.

The Americans had had to give up their hopes of ruling Iraq directly, both because of the Sunni Arab guerrilla war and the challenge of the Shiites. Although he was more peaceful about it, Sistani opposed key American initiatives as much as the young firebrand Muqtada al-Sadr did. The Mahdi Army uprising was the nail in the coffin of direct American rule of Iraq. Next, the US completely lost control of the political process.

In fall 2004, Sistani intervened to shape the upcoming elections. He insisted that all the major Shiite parties run on a single list, to avoid splitting the Shiite vote. Since Shiites comprise about 62% of Iraqis, a united Shiite list could hope to win a majority in parliament. The coalition of Dawa, SCIRI and smaller Shiite parties won the election on Jan. 30, as Sistani had foreseen. The US had attempted to build up the old CIA asset and secular ex-Baathist, Iyad Allawi, as the natural leader of Iraq. It signally failed. His list received only about 14% of seats in parliament.

The real winners of the January 2005 elections were the Shiite religious parties. This was bad news for Bush. In partnership with the Kurdish Alliance, they formed a government that brought Ibrahim Jaafari of Dawa to power as prime minister and gave Dawa and SCIRI several important posts in the executive. Sunni Arabs from the rival branch of Islam were largely excluded from the new government, insofar as they had either boycotted the election or had been unable to vote for security reasons. The new Jaafari government quickly established warm relations with Iran, receiving a pledge of $1 billion in aid, the use of Iranian port facilities and help with refining Iraqi petroleum.

At the provincial level, the Shiite parties swept to power throughout the south. SCIRI dominated nine of 11 provinces that had a significant Shiite population, including Baghdad province. The Sadrists took Maysan province and Basra province. Shiite militias proliferated and established themselves.

The dominance of the central legislature and the executive by religious Shiites gave Sistani great moral authority over the drafting of the permanent constitution, the main task of the new parliament. The Shiites inserted a provision that no legislation could be passed by parliament that contravened the established laws of Islam, and made provisions for Muslim clerics to be appointed to the judiciary. Some important elements of the old Dawa Party vision of a government in accordance with Islam was therefore achieved, though it was leavened by modern, secular human rights ideals. When Dawa and SCIRI were based in Tehran in the 1980s, plotting to overthrow Saddam and come to power, they could not have imagined that their dream would be realized 20 years later with American help. Jaafari, the elected prime minister, employed his position to strengthen the Shiite fundamentalist Dawa Party that he headed. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim had lived to see his Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq rule half the provinces of Iraq, including the capital, as well as play a central role in the parliament and the cabinet. Both parties drew Baghdad closer to Tehran, seeking warm relations with the clerical rulers of Iran. Shiite power now dominated the eastern stretches of the Middle East. The Bush administration trumpeted its bestowal of democracy in the region, but most Middle Eastern observers saw only the installation of a new Shiite power.

The hawks in the Bush administration had initially hoped that a conquered Iraq would form the launching pad for a further American war on Iran. The Shiites of Iraq foiled that plan. Sistani forced the Americans into direct, one-person, one-vote elections. Those elections in turn ensured that the religious Shiites would come to power, since they had the greatest street credibility, given their long struggle against Saddam and their nationalist credentials in the face of American occupation.

An Iraq dominated by religious Shiites who had often lived in exile in Iran for decades is inevitably an Iraq with warm relations with Tehran. The US, bogged down in a military quagmire in the Sunni Arab regions, cannot afford to provoke massive demonstrations and uprisings in the Shiite areas of Iraq by attacking Iran. Bush has inadvertently strengthened Iran, giving it a new, religious Shiite ally in the Gulf region. The traditional Sunni powers in the region, such as the kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, are alarmed and annoyed that Bush has created a new "Shiite crescent." Far from weakening or overthrowing the ayatollahs, Bush has ensconced and strengthened them. Indeed, by chasing after imaginary weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he may have lost any real opportunity to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon should it decide to do so.

The real winners of the Iraq war are the Shiites.

Venezuela Touts Cheap Fuel to US as Bush Takes Heat

Venezuela Touts Cheap Fuel to US as Bush Takes Heat
By Matthew Robinson

Thursday 01 December 2005

New York - Venezuela on Thursday launched an ad campaign touting its cheap heating oil program for the US poor as Washington faces criticism for doing little to protect consumers from high fuel prices.

The full page ad in some of the nation's top newspapers could irk the administration of US President George W. Bush, which has frequently clashed with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez over economic and foreign policies.

Under the banner: "How Venezuela is keeping the home fires burning in Massachusetts," the ad talks up a program to supply poor residents of the state with low-cost fuel from Citgo, the US branch of the OPEC nation's state oil firm PDVSA.

"The advertisements are intended to inform about this humanitarian effort," Dave McCollum, a Citgo spokesman, told Reuters.

"This effort came in response to the impact that hurricanes Rita and Katrina had on energy prices. It is being handled as a pilot program," he added.

Launched in Massachusetts last month, the program will also provide low-cost fuel to New York City.

The advertisement, which appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and the Houston Chronicle, came out as executives from US firms including Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil appeared at a hearing in Wisconsin on Thursday to defend record profits.

The hearings follow a similar face-off in the US Senate in early November, which critics say failed to get a sufficient explanation about how the companies have made unprecedented profits at a time of national crisis.

US fuel prices soared after hurricanes damaged US oil infrastructure in the Gulf Coast last summer. The high costs have become a political liability for Bush, who has suffered from lower approval ratings in recent months in part due to fuel prices.

Analysts said left-winger Chavez, who has given preferential energy supply deals to Venezuela's South American and Caribbean neighbors to strengthen regional ties, has seized upon expected high heating bills this winter to curry favor among the US population.

"It's a publicity stunt, really. But it does give them some support among US regional politicians. It's not a stupid thing to do," said one energy analyst who asked not to be named.

But proponents of the heating oil program say the former army officer only wants to ease the sting of US winter heating bills in the Northeast, which accounts for 80 percent of all the nation's heating oil demand.

"Chavez expressed his interest in helping the (poor) people," Larry Chretien of Mass Energy, which is helping to distribute the cheap fuel, said.

Oil-reliant Venezuela, the world's fifth largest crude exporter, is already a top US energy supplier.

But relations between Washington and Caracas have degenerated since Chavez first won office in 1998, promising to fight poverty through his "revolutionary" social programs and increasing ties with anti-US states such as Cuba and Iran.

He claims the Bush government has plotted to topple him. Washington denies the charge but says Chavez is a threat to regional stability.

Blair Faces Allegations of Complicity in Torture

Blair Faces Allegations of Complicity in Torture
By Colin Brown and Andrew Buncombe
The Independent UK

Friday 02 December 2005

Pressure is mounting on the White House to answer claims that the CIA is using UK airports to fly terrorist suspects for torture in secret prisons in Europe. Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the former Foreign Office lawyer who resigned over the Iraq war, warned Tony Blair last night that he cannot duck the questions crowding in about the flights which could mean Britain has been complicit in torture.

In The Independent, Ms Wilmshurst, now a fellow of Chatham House, said the Prime Minister could not justify breaking the international convention against torture by saying the "rules of the game have changed" because of the war on terrorism.

Britain's European partners stepped up the pressure for details to be disclosed about hundreds of secret flights by CIA-operated jets.

Sarah Ludford, a British member of the European Parliament's civil liberties committee, said: "I am not at all reassured that there is sufficient determination by [member states] to establish the truth," she said. "The allegations are now beyond speculation. We now have sufficient evidence involving CIA flights. We need to know who was on those flights, where they went."

EU leaders are ready to follow up their request to Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, to challenge the White House. On Tuesday he wrote to Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, calling for details of the secret flights to be revealed. Mr Straw said yesterday he had raised the issue with Ms Rice. She is likely to face direct challenges about flights when she visits Brussels next week.

This month, prisoners were reported held in two eastern European countries, believed to be Romania and Poland, brought there on flights the CIA calls "extraordinary rendition". Michael Ratner, director of the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights, said: "It's a secret. No one knows what happens in the rendition process or in the gulag of secret CIA hellholes."

But journalists and campaigners have tracked some of what is happening by monitoring the flight records of planes known to be used by the CIA. Plane-spotters have helped compile information on the aircraft - including one Gulfstream originally identified as N379P but now renumbered N44982 - and their movements.

Twenty-six planes apparently used by the CIA have made 307 flights in Europe since 9/11. Of these, 94 had stops in Germany and 76 in Britain, at Luton, Glasgow, Prestwick and Northolt. The UK government has denied prisoners are being held on a US-operated base on British-owned Diego Garcia.

John Sifton, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, which has released a list of 26 "ghost detainees" held by the US without access to lawyers, said probably only a few of the 307 flights involved moving prisoners. Most, he said, were likely transferring CIA personnel. "It's impossible to know for sure how many are innocent," he said.

There is a debate in the US about whether torture should be permitted for extracting information. A Bill tabled by Senator John McCain to outlaw torture passed the Senate but is being opposed by Vice President Dick Cheney, who wants special exemption for CIA agents.

Increasingly, politicians in Britain and Europe are showing a determination to find out whether the US has "black sites" in eastern Europe where harsh treatment of suspected terrorists would raise fewer questions. Alexander Alvaro, a German Liberal MEP and member of the European civil liberties committee, said Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, would raise the issue in talks with George Bush. "I think our Chancellor will point out that Germany would not tolerate secret camps in Europe."

There are growing calls at Westminster for Mr Blair to block the CIA flights. The Labour MP Harry Cohen said: "It is not for the UK Government to connive in and facilitate people disappearance. The Government's blind-eye approach to enforcing the law is not acceptable."

An all-party group to challenge the UK and US Governments over the transport of suspected terrorists, was launched yesterday at Westminster. It will be chaired by Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie, former Labour foreign affairs minister, Chris Mullin, and Sir Menzies Campbell, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Thousands of Firms Could Stop Reporting Emissions

Thousands of Firms Could Stop Reporting Emissions
By Marla Cone
LA Times Staff Writer

December 2, 2005

Thousands of companies throughout the nation, including many in the Los Angeles region, would no longer have to provide the public with details of toxic chemicals they release into the environment under a Bush administration proposal to streamline the nation's environmental right-to-know law.

For nearly 20 years, the national Toxics Release Inventory has allowed people to access detailed data about chemicals that are used and released in their neighborhoods. In about 9,000 communities, the annual reports identify which industrial plants emit the most toxic substances, whether their emissions are increasing and what compounds may be contaminating their air and water.

Seeking to ease the financial burden on industry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed eliminating some requirements for smaller facilities that must monitor their emissions and file the complex annual reports. The EPA will make a final decision on the proposal next year, after a public comment period.

Under the agency's proposal, 922 communities would lose all information from the inventory detailing emissions, according to a report released Thursday by the environmental group National Environmental Trust.

Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Santa Fe Springs, Compton, South Gate, Ontario and Fontana would each lose data from at least half a dozen industrial plants, according to a statewide analysis by another group, Environment California.

Top EPA officials laud the inventory program as an essential public tool but say its reporting requirements have doubled over the last decade, with U.S. industry now spending $650 million a year to comply.

Kim Nelson, an assistant administrator at the EPA, said the companies that would benefit from the proposal are "tiny, tiny businesses, mom-and-pop shops operating on Main Street, that, in an aggregate, amount to less than 1% of the emissions in this country."

But according to the agency's electronic inventory, many of the facilities are near residential areas, in communities with large low-income or minority populations. Many are owned by large corporations, including Pepsi Bottling Group in Buena Park, Clorox Products in Los Angeles, Raytheon in Goleta, U.S. Gypsum Co. in Santa Fe Springs and Foamex in the Bay Area city of San Leandro.

Under existing rules, facilities that release 500 or more pounds of toxic substances each year must reveal how much of each chemical is emitted into the air, discharged into waterways and taken to landfills or other disposal sites.

But under the EPA proposal, unveiled in September, that threshold would be raised to 5,000 pounds. The smaller emitters would be required only to list chemical names without any data on environmental releases, such as amounts discharged into the air. Among the industries that could benefit are metal-plating plants, electronics firms, pharmaceutical companies, foam manufacturers, food processors and petrochemical and oil facilities.

Community activists and experts on hazardous materials assembled by the National Environmental Trust on Thursday for a news conference said eliminating data from small plants would weaken a powerful tool that communities use to make people aware of risks and persuade businesses to reduce their chemical use.

"We need more information, not less," said Thomas Estabrook, who manages a project at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell that trains hazardous-waste workers.

"In individual neighborhoods, the difference between 500 pounds and 5,000 pounds is significant," said Idell Hansen, Washington state's director of hazardous waste and toxics reduction.

Mike Walls, managing director of the American Chemistry Council, which represents chemical manufacturers, said the proposal "is likely to help smaller facilities," many of which hire costly consultants to monitor their chemical releases so they can file the reports. But, he said, "it will not diminish the quality or utility of the data available to the public" because all plants with large emissions must still file details, and even smaller plants must identify chemicals used.

Walls said the chemical industry supports the toxic inventory program and has reduced emissions from its facilities 75% since it was established.

"But if we can find a way of doing things better, of making government work better, why shouldn't we take those steps? We think EPA has been on the right track in discussing burden reduction in the TRI program," he said.

Congress established the Toxics Release Inventory in 1986, after a leak from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, in 1984 killed thousands of nearby residents who were unaware that potentially deadly chemicals were used at the facility. The 21st anniversary of that disaster is today.

The U.S. inventory does not chronicle chemical spills or accidents, only the ongoing routine use and release of hundreds of hazardous compounds, including mercury, benzene, asbestos and cyanide. It does not include any information on the health risks or what concentrations people are actually exposed to. But publicity about emissions has inspired many U.S. companies to reduce their use or release of toxic substances. Volumes of the original chemicals in the inventory have dropped nearly 60%.

Eighty-one local and national environmental groups appealed to Congress in a letter to urge the EPA to leave the inventory unchanged.

EPA officials said Thursday that they might alter their proposal after a comment period that ends Jan. 13 if they are convinced that the public wants and would benefit from the data from small facilities. A final decision is expected in about one year.

In Los Angeles and Orange counties, the proposal would eliminate reports filed by some industrial plants in 115 ZIP Codes. And no plants would report emissions in 23 of those ZIP Codes, according to the Environment California report.

For example, three facilities in downtown Long Beach's 90802 ZIP Code report emissions data, but none would have to under the proposed revisions. In the 90660 ZIP Code in Pico Rivera, the only two plants that now report would no longer have to do so. Nor would the two plants reporting emissions in the town of San Fernando's 91340 ZIP Code.

Nationwide, 3,849 industrial plants would no longer be required to file detailed reports. That would include 297 in California, more than in any other state, according to the environmental groups' reports.

In California, Los Angeles tops the list with 17 facilities that would not have to report the details, followed by Santa Ana and Santa Fe Springs, each with eight.

Among Southern California companies that would no longer have to file full reports are Edgington Oil Co. in Long Beach, Pioneer Diecasters Inc. in Los Angeles, Jasco Chemical Corp. in Santa Ana and Century Plastics Inc. in Compton, according to the Environment California report, which was based on 2003 inventories.

According to the EPA, about one-third of the 26,000 facilities that file toxic inventories would have some regulatory relief, saving businesses roughly 165,000 hours of work each year to collect and report the data. More than 99% of the tons of toxic releases that are reported will still be reported, EPA officials said.

"We're only talking about a very, very small percentage of information," the EPA's Nelson said. "We want to see if this is the kind of information that communities want. Is that information valuable to somebody? If it is, tell us and that would justify the cost of collecting this data."

The EPA in September also informed Congress that it intends to soon propose another relaxation of the rules, requiring companies to report the data every other year instead of annually.

The Insurgencies Are Winning

The Insurgencies Are Winning
Robert Dreyfuss
December 02, 2005

Robert Dreyfuss is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, 2005). Dreyfuss is a freelance writer based in Alexandria, Va., who specializes in politics and national security issues. He is a contributing editor at The Nation, a contributing writer at Mother Jones, a senior correspondent for The American Prospect, and a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone.He can be reached at his website:

There are now two resistance movements that are winning. The first, of course, is the one in Iraq, which is gaining in its war against the U.S. occupation. And the second is the resistance movement inside the Democratic party, which is increasingly vocal in its demand for the United States to get out of Iraq.

Next week, the entire House Democratic caucus will meet in closed session with one item on the table: Iraq. Don?t expect the Democrats to come up with a unified position: Donkeys will fly before that happens. But to say that the meeting is crucial is an understatement, and it is likely to mark that start of a year-long battle that will pit the party?s progressives, now joined by Rep. John Murtha, against both nattering nabobs like Hillary Clinton and the ever-warlike Liebermansheviks.

According to a source on Capitol Hill, there isn?t a clear agenda for next week?s meeting, but it is a hopeful sign that Democrats might be finally be getting ready to speak clearly on Iraq. It?s unlikely, they say, that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is now supporting Murtha?s courageous call for a six-month withdrawal timetable, will try to force a unified Democratic stand. But it?s guaranteed to be a lively discussion, one in which the various species of stay-the-course and sorta-stay-the-course Dems will be on the defensive. (Important historical note: By a majority of 126-81, House Democrats voted against the war in 2002, according to Roll Call , which first reported the meeting of the caucus next week.)

The caucus meeting itself was directly triggered by Murtha?s bombshell, which thrilled progressives and anti-war activists. It has given new momentum to the push by Reps. Lynn Woolsey and Neil Abercrombie, who?ve introduced a resolution that calls on the Bush administration to start withdrawing troops no later than next Halloween, and it has reenergized the House?s Out Of Iraq caucus. Abercrombie told me the organizers of the so-called Jones-Abercrombie resolution (the Jones being Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, the Republican version of Murtha) are willing to substitute Murtha?s far stronger, out-in-six-months resolution for theirs. And he said that they will begin organizing for a discharge petition to force a vote on it. Since such a petition requires a majority of the House, there?s no chance it will happen, but it provides the anti-war House Dems with a good organizing tool.

Naturally, the Liebermansheviks are in high dudgeon, warning that if the party decides to align itself with the vast majority of American voters, it will be a mistake. In today?s Washington Post , Marshall Wittman of the Democratic Leadership Council invokes the terrifying name of Rove the Mighty to scare the party away from doing the right thing. "If Karl Rove was writing the timing of this, he wouldn't have written it any differently, with the president of the United States expressing resolve and the Democratic leader offering surrender. For Republicans, this is manna from heaven,? says Wittman. Why, exactly, Democrats ought to take advice from a former Christian Coalition leader who worked for uber-hawk John McCain isn?t exactly clear?never mind the fact that Rove may soon be indicted for lying or leaking state secrets in defense of the war. (The Washington Times and Rev. Moon are smiling, too, running a headline today that reads: ?Democratic split on war thrills GOP.? It quotes the spokesman for the Republican National Committee saying Pelosi et al. have adopted a ?defeatist position of retreat? in Iraq.)

It isn?t often in politics that doing the right thing coincides with doing the thing that is politically popular. As I wrote last week in Rolling Stone , there are three elements to a new policy for Iraq: First, set a date for withdrawal; second, start negotiating with enemy, that is, with the non-Zarqawi resistance; and third, internationalize the effort. That latter step would involve an international mediator, the United Nations and the Arab League. It has the added, and comforting, benefit of making President Bush look like the weak, flailing, strategy-less executive that he is.

From a moral standpoint, packing up and leaving Iraq is the right thing. The war in Iraq has become a moral blot on America?s soul. U.S. troops in Iraq are dying to defend a Shiite theocracy allied to Iran that operates death squads, tortures prisoners with electric drills and fosters violent sectarianism. Meanwhile, in support of that anti-democratic gang, our forces are killing thousands of oppositionists to no useful result. And the war is being led by Bush administration officials who lied to start the war, who support torture of our enemies in secret prisons and who seem obsessed with what they see as a titanic struggle against an imaginary Evil Caliphate.

From a political standpoint, too, getting out of Iraq in 2006 is a winner. Since last summer, poll after poll has shown that something like two-thirds of Americans now believe that the war in Iraq wasn't worth fighting, and more than half say that the war in Iraq has not made the United States safer. More and more GOPers are having doubts about the war, and the looming election will concentrate their minds wonderfully. That?s what makes it all-important for the Democrats to define themselves by supporting Get the Heck Out. Not because it will cause the Republican caucus to splinter, which it will?why would Republicans want to go into 2006 with the Bush-Cheney war albatross tied to their necks? But because by doing so, they will guarantee that the war in Iraq ends in 2006.

Now, does that mean that the Democratic Party will embrace a Murtha-style stand? Sadly, no. The party has enough Liebermansheviks to guarantee it remains divided. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, that paragon of Middle East expertise, is doing his best to undermine his party?s majority. ?I believe that a precipitous withdrawal of American forces in Iraq could lead to disaster, spawning a civil war, fostering a haven for terrorists and damaging our nation's security and credibility,? he chirped. Despite Hoyer, though, the good guys are winning on this one.

Vietnam War Intelligence 'Deliberately Skewed,' Secret Study Says

Published on Friday, December 2, 2005 by the New York Times
Vietnam War Intelligence 'Deliberately Skewed,' Secret Study Says
by Scott Shane

WASHINGTON - The National Security Agency has released hundreds of pages of long-secret documents on the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, which played a critical role in significantly expanding the American commitment to the Vietnam War.

The material, posted on the Internet overnight Wednesday, included one of the largest collections of secret intercepted communications ever made available. The most provocative document is a 2001 article in which an agency historian argued that the agency's intelligence officers "deliberately skewed" the evidence passed on to policy makers and the public to falsely suggest that North Vietnamese ships had attacked American destroyers on Aug. 4, 1964.

Based on the assertion that such an attack had occurred, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered airstrikes on North Vietnam and Congress passed a broad resolution authorizing military action.

The historian, Robert J. Hanyok, wrote the article in an internal publication and it was classified top secret despite the fact that it dealt with events in 1964. Word of Mr. Hanyok's findings leaked to historians outside the agency, who requested the article under the Freedom of Information Act in 2003.

Some intelligence officials said they believed the article's release was delayed because the agency was wary of comparisons between the roles of flawed intelligence in the Vietnam War and in the war in Iraq. Mr. Hanyok declined to comment on Wednesday. But Don Weber, an agency spokesman, denied that any political consideration was involved.

"There was never a decision not to release the history" written by Mr. Hanyok, Mr. Weber said. On the contrary, he said, the release was delayed because the agency wanted to make public the raw material Mr. Hanyok used for his research.

"The goal here is to allow people to wade through all that information and draw their own conclusions," he said.

Thomas S. Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, called the release of the document "terrific," noting that the eavesdropping material known as signals intelligence, or sigint, is the most secret information the government has.

"N.S.A. may be the most close-mouthed of all U.S. government agencies," said Mr. Blanton, whose organization has published on the Web many collections of previously secret documents. "The release of such a large amount of sigint is unprecedented."

In his 2001 article, an elaborate piece of detective work, Mr. Hanyok wrote that 90 percent of the intercepts of North Vietnamese communications relevant to the supposed Aug. 4, 1964, attack were omitted from the major agency documents going to policy makers.

"The overwhelming body of reports, if used, would have told the story that no attack had happened," he wrote. "So a conscious effort ensued to demonstrate that an attack occurred."

Edwin E. Mo�se, a historian at Clemson University who wrote a book on the Gulf of Tonkin incident, said the agency did the right thing in making public Mr. Hanyok's damning case. "A lot of people at the agency haven't been happy that communications intelligence was used to support a wrong conclusion," he said.

Agency employees worked late Wednesday to meet a self-imposed end-of-November deadline, posting the intercepts, oral history interviews with retired agency officials and internal reports on the agency's Web site at

The agency, based at Fort Meade, Md., intercepts foreign communications, like phone calls, e-mail messages and faxes, and is charged with protecting the security of American government communications. With more than 30,000 employees, including codebreakers, computer experts and linguists, it is the largest American intelligence agency.

Its Center for Cryptologic History, where Mr. Hanyok works, has published studies of the role of signals intelligence in many major episodes in American history, including Pearl Harbor, the Korean War and the Cuban missile crisis. Among its most extensive projects was publishing and annotating Soviet diplomatic messages from the 1940's decoded by agency codebreakers in a program called Venona.

General Odom Calls for Immediate Exit from Iraq

General Odom Calls for Immediate Exit from Iraq
United Press International

Friday 02 December 2005

Washington - The US general who used to head the National Security Agency says the only way to stabilize the Middle East is to leave Iraq.

Retired three star Lt. Gen. William Odom, writing for, wrote that while President George W. Bush wants to bring democracy and stability to the Middle East, the only way to achieve that goal is for the US armed forces to get out of Iraq now.

Odom, one of the most respected US military analysts and a prominent figure at the conservative Hudson Institute in Washington, wrote, "We have seen most of our allies stand aside and engage in Schadenfreude over our painful bog-down in Iraq. Winston Churchill's glib observation, 'the only thing worse that having allies is having none,' was once again vindicated.

"There is no chance that our allies will join us in Iraq," he wrote. "... Iraq is the worst place to fight a battle for regional stability. Whose interests were best served by the US invasion of Iraq in the first place? It turns out that Iran and al-Qaida benefited the most, and that continues to be true every day US forces remain there."

Snagging a Rogue Snitch - Los Angeles Times

Snagging a Rogue Snitch - Los Angeles Times

Snagging a Rogue Snitch
# A Yemeni immigrant's activities cast a shadow on federal agencies' use of informants. One man the felon fingered didn't go quietly to prison.

By John M. Glionna and Lee Romney, Times Staff Writers

SAN FRANCISCO ? The black sedans arrived late in the day. Six federal agents in windbreakers got out, walked into Nabil Ismael's tobacco store and closed the cuffs around his wrists.

He was looking at 20 years for drug conspiracy, one agent said.

Ismael felt sick. He'd been helping the government make its case. Didn't they know that? "It was the worst day of my life," said Ismael, 29. "And I figured that Essam was behind the whole thing."

Essam Magid, 43, had befriended Ismael, a fellow Yemeni, the year before. He said he worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration. If Ismael could help locate some cocaine connections, Magid said, Ismael would be in line for a federal job and a better life.

The idea of working for America stirred the young immigrant's patriotism, he says. So he agreed.

By the time he suspected he was being framed, it was too late.

Prosecutors eventually offered Ismael a deal of four years in prison. If he had accepted the offer and pleaded guilty, he would have become the latest of at least a dozen defendants locked away because of one of the DEA's more controversial informants.

Instead, he took on the machine of a federal prosecution. In doing so, he exposed two agencies plagued by problems in their handling of confidential sources: A U.S. Department of Justice inspector general audit this summer found that problems persist with the DEA's informant system, despite an agency admission in 2001 of "system failures" and a pledge to reform.

Meanwhile, a recent inspector general's investigation of the FBI's informant program noted violations in that agency's use of snitches in 87% of cases reviewed.

Ismael's case ultimately made public what federal agents and some prosecutors had known for years: Magid was out of control.

In May 2003, Ismael was a salesman at Platinum Motors, a luxury used-car lot in the Bay Area suburb of San Bruno.

A talkative Magid stopped by the dealership one day to introduce himself. He flattered the young salesman, telling him he could certainly do better than working for $36,000 a year and no benefits.

Speaking in Arabic, Magid disclosed that he worked for the government, Ismael later recalled in an interview and in testimony. He said there might well be a job for Ismael too ? if he was willing to help the United States.

Magid said he needed Ismael's help with an official investigation. He was looking to buy 15 to 30 kilos of cocaine as part of a government sting. He needed introductions to people who knew others up the drug ladder. After the deal went down, he said, Magid would get Ismael the full-time government job.

Although he had no history of drug crimes, Ismael approached regulars at the dealership, explaining that Magid wanted to ship cocaine to Hawaii.

It's not clear whether Magid's primary government contact, DEA agent Dwayne Bareng, knew of the promises Magid had made to Ismael, but the agent soon got involved.

On June 18, 2003, Magid arrived at the lot with Bareng. In a ponytail and flowered Hawaiian shirt, the agent posed as an island drug dealer named Ricky. Over Ismael's objections, "Ricky" insisted on paying him $600 for the contacts he provided.

Magid was soon not only making contacts at the lot, he was also exchanging drugs there.

Worried that he was being set up, Ismael quit his job in August 2003 to avoid Magid. In the coming months, they met just once.

Then, in October 2004, Magid called Ismael to tell him the big buy had been made. Ismael said he refused any payment and hung up. Still, a week later, agents arrested him. Also charged were a limo driver, a garbage collector and two brothers, one of whom had delivered five kilos of cocaine to federal agents.

Ismael's lawyer, Ian Loveseth, advised his client to take the plea deal that prosecutors offered. Ismael's wife was pregnant, and if he lost at trial, the young father would be sent away for a minimum of 20 years. But Ismael, a devout Muslim, refused, saying he couldn't lie to Allah and "admit to something that wasn't my intent."

Loveseth, a veteran defense attorney, wasn't pleased. He gave Ismael a crass nickname that unfavorably compared the size of his brain to another part of his anatomy.

Based on what Ismael had told him, the defense would need to demonstrate at trial that Magid was a liar. And getting information on an undercover informant would be extremely difficult.

Under federal law, defendants are not entitled to information about a snitch until they take the gamble to go to trial. Even then, the information supplied to defense attorneys is often extremely sketchy. In past cases involving Magid, federal prosecutors had released only a one-paragraph DEA letter describing him as problem-free.

Starting with little more than Magid's name and the few facts Ismael was able to provide, Loveseth's investigator, Don Criswell, soon obtained Magid's computerized rap sheet, which detailed a criminal trail from New York to California. More information emerged as Criswell, a former police detective, traversed the Central Valley interviewing Magid's friends and enemies.

At 5 feet 1, Magid was a big talker with a taste for Courvoisier and women, Criswell soon learned.

He and his young bride, Eshraq Abdulla, had arrived in the U.S. on visitor visas in 1985. Settling in Brooklyn, Magid found work at corner grocery stores.

As their family grew, the couple's love soured. He would "lose his mind completely" when drinking, recalled Abdulla in an interview with The Times, and beat her often. Magid quit work, hatching a scheme with friends to print fake checks.

In 1996, Magid was charged with forgery and money laundering, and soon after, Abdulla left with the couple's six children.

"He's not stupid," she said. "But he never used his skills as a smart person in the right stuff. He used it always ? trying to trick people, to lie."

Sentenced to five years' probation and facing mounting debt, Magid fled New York. In 1997, he was prosecuted on a charge of assaulting a police officer in Norfolk, Va. The outcome of that case is unclear because Magid's record was sealed when he became an informant. Two years later, he was living in California, where he chalked up arrests for drunk driving and giving false information to a police officer.

Then Magid got lucky.

In 1999, he and several others were arrested in Lodi trying to sell 50 cases of pseudoephedrine ? a key ingredient in methamphetamine ? to a DEA informant posing as a would-be buyer.

Handling the drug investigation was Bareng, who three years earlier had left the grind of inmate transport at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for the bigger stage of undercover federal drug work.

Magid was facing a 20-year sentence, but the government offered to reduce the charges in exchange for cooperation in its campaign to contain the growing meth trade in Middle Eastern communities across the Central Valley. Federal officials also arranged for annual visa extensions ? as long as Magid remained useful.

Kicked loose from custody, a destitute Magid made his way to Stockton, where Gaber Anwallah, the cousin of a co-defendant, let Magid stay in a trailer behind his store, the Paisano Market.

Magid was a skilled chameleon: At times he said he was Christian, at others Muslim. His jokes, often told in Arabic, helped him win people's confidence. He immediately started gathering and passing on drug intelligence, court testimony shows.

On the job, he recruited with abandon, viewing most Yemenis, it seems, as either potential snitches, prosecution targets or both. His private life remained troubled. Child support cases were filed against him in two California counties.

Documents released piecemeal by Assistant U.S. Atty. Alexis Hunter showed that Magid's government work was lucrative and far-reaching.

In exchange for information, the DEA, FBI, IRS and other agencies paid the informant hundreds of thousands of dollars. Prosecutors dismissed some felony charges against him and sought to expunge others.

And they seemed to ignore his many lapses.

DEA documents showed that Magid perjured himself in small claims court at Bareng's direction. Criswell's interviews revealed that Magid also intimidated a witness and used his government clout for personal gain.

And in one case, FBI records revealed, he even exposed the identity of federal agents to the target of a terrorist probe.

The earliest record of Magid's problems as a snitch came from that agency. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the FBI summoned the drug informant for a higher calling, assuming exclusive control of his activities. For his new role, Magid received a James Bond-like pager that doubled as a recording device.

The specifics of Magid's FBI work remain classified. But he often spoke to others about it. Behind the wheel of his latest upscale rental car, Magid glided one day into the Paisano Market parking lot in Stockton.

"Look what I got," he boasted to Abdul Anwallah, Gaber's brother. "They gave it to me."

"Who did?" asked Abdul, who recounted the exchange in an interview with The Times.

"The people I work with," Magid responded. "The FBI."

In August 2002, a belligerent Magid flaunted his undercover status to Stockton police officers who took him into custody after a drunken brawl.

Two months later, he revealed the first names of two FBI agents to the target of a terror investigation ? something the FBI could not ignore.

Summoned for a polygraph test on Oct. 23, 2002, Magid denied wrongdoing. But when the test showed answers "indicative of deception," he began talking.

He told agents he "knew the rules" and promised he would keep his "big mouth closed." But after failing the polygraph, the FBI officially "closed" Magid as a source, saying "security had been compromised."

In assessing the damage, Magid's FBI handler, Agent Rachel Pifer, wrote in a report that Magid's intelligence, for which he had been paid more than $77,000, had been "corroborated, reliable and credible" and that he could still be successful in a different community.

After the FBI's official closure of Magid, Pifer told the informant to call Bareng in Fresno. Pifer took the phone and told the agent what Magid had done, she later testified. But Bareng wanted Magid back.

In lying to the authorities, Magid had violated his plea agreement. Prosecutors could have sent him back to prison on the 1999 drug offense. Instead, he was rewarded.

The assistant U.S. attorney handling Central Valley counterterrorism cases was informed that the FBI was cutting Magid off, documents show. Yet three weeks later, another top federal prosecutor dismissed the drug indictment still hanging over his head. Apart from the possibility of deportation, he no longer had consequences to fear.

Back with the DEA, Magid operated with few constraints.

In Nov. 2002, he was turned loose in the Central Valley's Middle Eastern communities to drum up new cases.

Magid also began using his connections with the government to pad his pockets.

He made Gaber Anwallah an enticing offer, court records show: The DEA would help secure U.S. visas for Anwallah's relatives in Yemen. But Magid needed $13,000 to secure the deal. Gaber's family sold off jewelry to pay Magid. But he never delivered, interviews and records show.

Magid also used his sway to launch federal investigations into those who crossed him.

One was Kaled Anwallah, 24, Gaber's cousin. He liked to party with Magid, discussing life, religion and women. But trouble started in February 2003 when Kaled tried to collect on a $4,000 loan he'd made to Magid. The informant responded by telling his DEA handler that Kaled was involved in selling drugs. Later, he went even further, telling Bareng that Kaled, who lived briefly in Miami, was planning a hate attack on a Florida Jewish community center, documents show.

Bareng referred the matter to the FBI. Shortly after returning to Stockton, Kaled learned that authorities had searched the Miami apartment where he had stayed. He was not charged with any crime.

By August 2005, as Nabil Ismael's San Francisco trial on drug conspiracy charges approached, Loveseth was feeling more confident. Not only had he and Criswell developed a strong roster of witnesses, they had unexpectedly discovered evidence in a pretrial hearing that the DEA knew of Magid's problems but continued using him anyway.

First up at the start of trial Aug. 15 was DEA agent Bareng, the prosecution's star witness, who testified that Ismael had knowingly conspired to sell large quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine.

Ismael tried to remain optimistic. Gaber Anwallah and his cousin Kaled had both agreed to testify and would be able, the defense believed, to show the jury that the DEA's informant was a liar and a cheat.

Bareng's testimony proved to be even better for the defense than the witnesses they'd planned to call. When asked about Magid's FBI termination, Bareng testified that he was never told why the agency had closed Magid as an informant.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer was listening closely. In an earlier hearing before the judge, FBI agent Pifer testified that she had explained to Bareng the reasons why the FBI had stopped using Magid in 2002.

Breyer testily pointed out the discrepancy in the two versions. After a break, Bareng got back on the stand and changed his story. Pifer had told him the reason for the firing, he said. Furthermore, Bareng acknowledged, he had discussed the matter with Magid as well as with his DEA supervisor.

Now Breyer was angry.

Breyer: "So the fact that an informant comes in, lies to the FBI, you find out about it, Magid comes and tells you that he lied to the FBI ? that's just nowhere in the DEA records; is that right? And you had conversations with the DEA and there are no records of that; is that right?"

Bareng: "That's correct."

The judge had heard enough. He suggested that Bareng, his supervisor and maybe others had relied knowingly on a "lawless" informant "who has been chastised by the government, who has been fired for it." More than that, Bareng may have perjured himself, Breyer told prosecutors.

In a rare scene, Bareng soon invoked his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination and asked for a lawyer. Within minutes, Hunter, the assistant U.S. attorney, was passed a note from her superiors: The government moved to dismiss the case against Ismael.

That might have been the end of it all, but the judge wasn't done. Because witness misconduct and potential perjury had occurred in a case before his court, Breyer said he was compelled to call for an investigation.

The probe, which is being conducted by the inspector general's office and federal prosecutors from San Diego, is centered on Magid's possible obstruction of justice.

Investigators are also exploring whether Bareng lied in court about the DEA's knowledge of Magid's reckless behavior, whether the agent encouraged some of that conduct and how much his higher-ups knew.

The futures of Bareng and Magid remain in doubt pending the government's investigation. The informant has been questioned by federal officials, who would not say where he is.

Bareng, who now works in Los Angeles, declined to comment. But his attorney said the agent did nothing wrong. All informants "come with some degree of baggage," said Steven Gruel, a former federal prosecutor. "You don't have the ability to go to Boy Scout jamborees and ask for volunteers to infiltrate criminal organizations ? I don't think it was Bareng's fault."

A DEA spokesman, meanwhile, said the agency is working to address the inspector general office's concerns and plans to roll out in November a new system to better manage and track confidential sources. The FBI declined to comment.

Since the case against him was dropped, Ismael has started a new life. His tobacco shop has been transformed into a fashion and wireless phone store.

He says he never lost faith that the truth would emerge.

"I knew there were corrupt agencies, like you see in the movies," Ismael said. "But I figured the court couldn't be corrupt, too.

"If the court were corrupt, people wouldn't want to live in America."

Boeing A160 Hummingbird Completes Flight Test

Boeing A160 Hummingbird Completes Flight Test: " CHICAGO, Dec. 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Boeing Company (NYSE: BA)
today announced the A160 Hummingbird unmanned rotorcraft made its first test
flight from an airfield near Victorville, Calif., Nov. 30. Boeing continues
its program to demonstrate the unprecedented range, endurance, payload and
altitude capabilities of this innovative unmanned air vehicle.
'This flight -- the first with a six cylinder Subaru engine -- is an
important step toward concept demonstration of this innovative UAV to offer
unprecedented capabilities in the history of helicopters,' said Gary
Gallagher, A160 program manager for Boeing Phantom Works. 'It's gratifying to
resume flight testing as the A160 team does a great job with this new
technology. This aircraft can change all the rules as they apply to UAV
vertical take-off and landing operations.'
The new A160 successfully flew for about 30 minutes in the vicinity of the
air field, bringing the total number of A160 test flights to 32 and the total
number of flight hours to 58.
The objectives of the recent flight test were to open the A160's flight
envelope for the latest vehicle configuration, as previous aircraft used four
cylinder Subaru engines. Engineers are currently analyzing the flight data in
preparation for the next series of test flights.
The Hummingbird features a unique optimum speed rotor technology that
significantly improves overall performance efficiency by adjusting the RPM of
the rotor system at different altitudes, gross weights and cruise speeds. It
is designed to fly autonomously, for much longer periods of time (in excess of
24 hours), over greater distances (2,500 nautical miles), at higher altitudes
(up to 30,000 feet), and much more quietly than current helicopters.
The A160 could provide reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition,
communication relay and precision re-supply. Its unique characteristics would
allow it to effectively address current and emerging requirements of the U.S.
armed forces, Department of Homeland Security, and international military and
security organizations.
The A160 Hummingbird is being developed and tested by Boeing Phantom Works
under contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Phantom Works currently is under contract for eight A160 UAVs for DARPA and
ten for Naval Air Systems Command.
As the advanced R&D unit and catalyst of innovation for the enterprise,
Phantom Works collaborates with Boeing business units, external customers,
suppliers, universities and other R&D agencies throughout the world to provide
new system solutions and breakthrough technologies that are defining the
future of aerospace.
Phantom Works will complete initial development of the Hummingbird and
then transfer the program to Boeing Integrated Defense Systems -- a unit of
The Boeing Company and one of the world's largest space and defense businesses
-- for further development and production.

SOURCE The Boeing Company
Web Site: "