Tuesday 21 July 2009

Glimpses of America's Man-Made Disasters - Part 10

by Trowbridge H. Ford

When Professor J. Reece Roth, a noted University of Tennessee researcher of plasmas, was convicted on September 3, 2008 by a federal jury of 17 counts of security violations of vital national security secrets - essentially 'constructive treason' according to British terminology going back to the Napoleonic Wars - by allowing research assistants, especially a Chinese one, access to 15 Department of Defense articles on the subject, the Bush administration was confident, perhaps too confident, that its secret use of them in covert space weapons operations, most recently in China and Myanmar, would never be exposed. Roth continued to maintain his innocence, and seriously contemplated appealing the conviction which would likely result in the 72-year-old scientist spending his remaining days in jail, and paying thousands of dollars in fines. Roth was ultimately talked out of the appeal because there was virtually no chance of a jury verdict in such a high profile case being overturned or an order for a retrial, and his sentencing was set for early January 2009.

Equally important was Physics Today deciding to publish in its entirety Thomas Reed's article, "The Chinese nuclear tests, 1964-1996," in its September issue, showing better some of the Chinese facilities under National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) eyeballing, and possible Air Force targeting - Malan, Juiquan, Haiyan, Lanzhou, and Zitong. The photographs showed how vulnerable they were to attack if so decided. Its publication showed that Reed and Danny Stillman were directly challenging the intelligence community's federal injunction against it - what they might have ignored if it only appeared in the Pakistan Defense Forum - contending that it was only intended for Pakistani domestic consumption, and had already appeared.

For good measure, The New Yorker published Steve Coll's supporting article "Pakistan's Atomic Chinese Take-Out" in its September 2nd issue for American domestic consumption. While ignoring Stillman's intelligence role in his many visits to China, and acting as if he only had "...had difficulty winning clearance for publication of this material from the U. S. intelligence community," Coll pinpointed the coup that Pakistan's President Ghulam Khan and Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Mirza Aslam had engineered against then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto for trying to stop the country's growing involvement of its nuclear establishment with the Chinese at its Malan facility in developing and testing its nuclear weapons. The first successful test of a Pakistan weapon, based apparently upon one of Chinese design, occurred on May 26, 1990, and she was removed from office in August.

Thse developments showed just how self-serving to Washington the prosectution of Roth, and allowing Stillman to divulge some of the secrets he had gathered about the Chinese nuclear establishment were. While the US intelligence community, especially DCI Michael Hayden's Agency, was overlooking what Stillman had accomplished through the Air Force and Reed - what it had tried to prevent before cyclone Nargis and the Sichuan earthquake but without success - the Pentagon, particularly Secretary of Defense Robert Gates through its Defense Intelligence Agency, was making out that the plasma researcher was a Chinese spy who was succeeding in making it invulnerable to American defensive measures - what was far from the truth. In sum, the innocent research efforts by Roth were being used legally to provide a cover for Stillman's illegal disclosures.

It was Barack Obama's capitalizing upon Bhutto's assassination in December when coming back to Pakistan, apparently either by Al-Qaeda et al. or their supporters in Pakistan's covert government, which snatched the presidential campaign initiative away for Hillary Clinton over foreign policy - as she had supported President Bush's ouster of Iraq's Saddam Hussein - and led to his nomination at the Democratic Convention. Confident that it would win the November election, it started a search campaign for new office holders which caught the media's eye for its openness and throughness, but it was essentially just eyewash to fool the public about what was going on. It knew far too well from the past who would be serving it in the future, especially in the area of covert operations.

While the leading members of Obama's oil administration, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are well known, its lesser possible figures - Admiral Dennis Blair, Charles Freeman, Leon Panetta, Greg Craig, General Bruce Carlson, General Jim Jones, Peter Lavoy, Christopher Kojm, John Brennan, etc., and, most important, continuing Pentagon chief Robert Gates - are known far too little, especially what their new mission is. They are to keep the American public on board while it achieves what was sidetracked by the cockup over the 9/11 bombings - the pacification of Afghanistan so that a pipeline can be constructed through it, connecting Caspian oil on its eastern shores to Pakistan's Indian Ocean coast - what requires the defeat of its Taleban. If achieved, it would be a great blow to China's search for oil self-sufficiency, threatening even the loss of its oil-rich Xinjiang province, and making Iran's oil holdings much less important in global affairs.

In confirming the role of Big Oil, to use Antonia Juhasz's terminology in The Tyranny of Oil: The World's Most Powerful Industry - And What We Must Do To Stop It, the Obama administration has been largely bought by the industry despite its contentions to the contrary, particulary when one adds in what it has contributed to President Clinton, especially in the construction of his library. While Senator McCain received by far the biggest contributions from the oil industry since 1990, the total for the team of Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Biden is comparable, a bit over $1,000,000 dollars. Obama also fudged his acceptance of money by renouncing money from oil industry Political Action Committees (PACs) while accepting it from oil company executives, and he has only been on the national political scene recently.

However, in considering what elected officials can do when it comes to energy policy - like not closing the "Enron Loophole" which the Commodity Futures Modernization Act permitted spreading to energy traders working for oil companies - researchers should not overlook what control of government institutions, particularly the Pentagon and the CIA, can mean in this regard. They can lay out an estimate of future world developments, where the expected problems are, how to deal with them, and why. The personnel responsible for making such estimates, plans, capabilities and outcomes are the most important officials in govenment in today's world, and their nomination and selection should be the top priority of any democratic system to make sure that the nation's power is really exercised by those who appear to be in control.

The whole corruption of the process started when the transition team announced on December 18th the appointment of Admiral Dennis Blair, Senator Obama's military adviser, to be Admiral Mike McConnell's replacement as National Intelligence Director who then joined other hawks on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Blair, while he had been Commander of the Pacific Fleet during the last days of the Clinton administration, had been so aggressive in dealing with Chinese counterparts that he should never have been even seriously considered for the position. During a 1999 meeting at Hawaii, Blair told a Chinese admiral two things when they were discussing the Taiwan situation: "First. I own the water out there. Second, I own the sky over the water out there. Now, don't you think we should talk abouit something constructive?" (Quoted from "Meet new DNI boss Dennis Blair," Tribune/Opinion, February 22, 2009.)

When Admiral Blair's tough talk helped induce Beijing to take a tough stand when a U. S. Navy EP-3E spy plane intruded into what the Chinese considered their airspace on April 1, 2001, forcing it to land on their island of Hainan Dao, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was most disturbed by what had happened, and why during the first foreign crisis of the new Bush administration. "As Rumsfeld dug deeper," Bob Woodward explained in State of Denial: Bush At War, Part III, "he was asking what the intelligence missions accomplished. Who authorized them? Who assessed the value of the intelligence that was gathered? What about the risks versus the rewards? (p. 29) Blair, attending the meeting with Rumsfeld, suggested that the spy flights resume immediately, and the SoD agreed, ordering him to supply a one-page recommendation for the resumption by the next morning.

Well, the next morning arrived, but there was no report from Blair. He had sent it to the office of the absent Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and it would not make it available to Rumsfeld without his approval. Why he didn't provide it directly to Rumsfeld, as ordered, has not been explained though it seems that it was because it contained information about these missions which did not reflect well upon the indpendently minded admiral. Rumsfeld went absolutely ballistic over Blair's actions, being, as notetaker Rear Admiral J. J. Quinn noted, "about as furious as he had ever seen a human being." (p. 31) Needless to say, Rumsfeld soon saw the report, and the missions apparently were not resumed. In any case, Blair was passed over when it came to appointing a new Chairman of the Joint Chief, and he retired. Rumsfeld already had one too many Navy cowboys, CNO Vern Clark.

The first thing that Blair did as prospective DNI was to nominate veteran China watcher Charles Freeman to be the Director of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), the body which draws up periodic National Intelligence Estimates about future global developments. The current Director, Peter Lavoy, was a holdover from the Bush administration, and he was too interested in predicting WMD surprises of a conventional nature by the usual suspected perpetrators. Blair wanted more alarming predictions, as he later told the Senate Intelligence Committee, especially about China's aggressive war-making plans which went well beyond its taking back Taiwan. He envisioned China soon fighting some kind of full-fledged war with the USA.

For more on Blair, see his article "Military Power Projection in Asia," in Ashley J. Tellis, Mercy Kuo and Andrew Marble, eds., Strategic Asia, 2008-09: Challenges and Choices (published by The National Bureau of Asia Research).

For a person with these views and this agenda to have nominated Freeman was simply ludicrous, an effort bound to fail given his additional views about Israel, and the suppression of the protesters at Tiananamen Square in 1989. Here is a good example of Freeman's thoughts about China from his article, "China in the Times to Come":

"China does not accept the logic of mutually assured destruction and it shows no interest in procuring stratgic lift, bomber forces, carrier strike groups, amphibious warfare or command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that give U. S. armed forces their unrivaled capacity to conduct offensive operations in faraway places."

For more, see this link:


Little wonder that when the anticipated furore over his nomination developed, and Freeman withdrew from the proceedings, the Obama waited six months before replacing Lavoy, naming, of all people, George Washington University Professor Christopher Kojm from its Elliot School of International Affairs, Kojm was Deputy Director of the 9/11 Commission, thanks to his having worked in several capacities for Congressman Lee Hamilton, and helped craft the complete cover-up of the cock-up in its Report. Kojm even propagated its claims that the suicide bombings were a complete surprise by working for its Public Discussion Project. He certainly will have his hands full in this regard while working for the NIC.

Kojm's appointment had been slowed by Gabriel Schoenfeld's review of The Nuclear Express in The Wall Street Journal on January 17th, showing that Blair might well have been one of the sources when Reed and Stillman made their dire political predictions about Beijing: "The authors are deeply concerned about China, some of whose officials 'might not object to the nuclear destruction of New York or Washington, followed by the collapse of American financial power, so long as Chinese finger prints could not be found at the scene of the crime'." Blair made the connection crystal clear when he briefed the shocked Senate Intelligence Committee as if he were its own intelligence officer, "...telling them about the wars in which they ought now to show concern." (op. cit., "Meet new DNI boss Dennis Blair")

Little wonder that the sentencing of Professor Roth was put off indefinitely under the circumstances, hoping that future developments would provide insights into how to treat the alleged spy.

While Freeman's nomination was a complete fraud to fool the public, Leon Panetta's nomination to replace DCI Hayden - who was a convenient fallguy for the Bush administration's vast, illegal wire-tapping operation - was a pure deception. Panetta, President Clinton's former chief of staff, has long been involved in national security interests, especially those concerning the oceans. He was head of the Pew Oceans Commission while Admiral James Watkins ran the United States Commission on Ocean Policy - what were ultimately combined. While its Joint Initiative stressed the importance of what it was seeking for the nation's economic health, and that of the oceans, there was a national security concern pervading the whole exercise, as Watkins well knew when he was CNO, helping stalk the Red Banner Fleet's submarine force in various waters in anticipation of a non-nuclear conclusion to the Cold War after the assassination of Sweden's Prime Minister Olof Palme was intended to trigger its coountdown.

Instead of everyone's talking about this and more, they all acted as if Panetta was a complete ignoramus in such matters, and complained about not being informed of the choice before it was made - what they claimed would make for a bumpy confirmation process. Well, it didn't turn out that way, Panneta cruised through, though he was asked by Senator Carl Levin if he ever thought that as a contributor to the Institute for Polcy Studies, he would ever fall under the control of DNI Blair. While he foolishly answered affirmatively, "...he added that the CIA was an 'operational arm' and that the admiral's job was to 'coordinate activities' with the National Security Agency, the still rarely mentional National Reconnaissance Office and other agencies." (ibid., though note that I had reversed what was "foolish" and what was not in Panetta's answers by author Dateline D. C.)

Unfortunately, Panetta, though quickly confirmed, was in for a big surprise when President Obama agreed on April 7th to a "huge new classified spy satellite system" involving "electro-optical" capabilites - one which would just improve successful models used by the NRO in the past. It sounds like just more powerful Misty satellites with eyes which can identify even the smallest targets with the highest resolution.

For more, see this link:


This immediately prompted the resignation of NRO Director Scott Large, the biggest support he had from DNI Blair getting his way in offensive operators. While sources put the usual kind of spin on his surprise - being tarred with the failure of the Future Imagery Architecture program, and not having had a chance under former Director Donald Kerr, Large had served for two years, and obviously saw what Blair and Gates were doing as a reversal to what had been going on at NRO before Kerr arrived.

For more on the resignation, see this:


Large's resignation also shows that Gates is a key player in developments, and not just a caretaker, waiting for his permanent replacement.

America is now preparing for the even greater use of space weapons, and in the meantine it still has the capability to cause problems for troublesome countries, especially Iran, North Korea, and China. If I were a betting man, I would put my money on another earthquake in Iran, somewhere between Tehran and Esfahan, say Kom. And then there are all kinds of similar ones possible in China, ready to be hit if Blair gets the urge.

Let's hope that I would lose my wager, proving apparently that God does better.