Updated: 5/16/2006; 12:05:34 PM.

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daily link  Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Rewriting History: Detailed debunk on Cheney claims.  New useful bit: "The claim that Saddam's agents had instructed Al Qaeda terrorists in making "poisons and gasses" had in fact been a prominent feature of the administration's prewar assertions, highlighted by Powell in his Security Council speech and Cheney repeatedly in his TV appearances and speeches. But the allegation was almost entirely based on the claims of one high-level Al Qaeda detainee—first identified by NEWSWEEK as Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi—who, according to the 9/11 commission, has since recanted his story. Asked if Duelfer's team had found any evidence that Iraq had provided such training for terrorists, the U.S. official familiar with Duelfer's report shook his head and said simply: "No." "  10:54:12 PM  permalink  

Avoiding attacking suspected terrorist mastermind: As far as I know, no one has refuted this story from March 2004:  "NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger.

In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.  The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.  “Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11 and we still didn’t do it,” said Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution.

Four months later, intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe.  The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it.  By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.  “People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president’s policy of preemption against terrorists,” according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.

In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.  The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.   Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

The United States did attack the camp at Kirma at the beginning of the war, but it was too late — Zarqawi and many of his followers were gone.  “Here’s a case where they waited, they waited too long and now we’re suffering as a result inside Iraq,” Cressey added.  And despite the Bush administration’s tough talk about hitting the terrorists before they strike, Zarqawi’s killing streak continues today"

  10:51:11 PM  permalink  

Plutonium: rising terror threat: Just in case you need more to worry about:  "The world is swimming in plutonium. Although military stockpiles have stabilized, the amount of civilian-held plutonium has doubled in the past 13 years, says a new ISIS report. At the end of 2003, 14 nations' civilian reactors held 235 metric tons of the most dangerous variety in terms of a terrorist threat - separated plutonium. That's enough material to fashion some 40,000 Nagasaki-sized weapons; the amount is growing by five to 10 tons a year.

France annually converts tons of this plutonium to a mixed-oxide or MOX fuel, which is trucked to its nuclear power plants. Despite its "reactor grade" label, MOX could make an effective bomb - as a US test in 1962 revealed. Even if a weapon "fizzled" because its plutonium was only reactor-grade, it would still yield a one-kiloton explosion that would "rip the heart out of a city," says Leonard Spector, deputy director of the Monterey Institute's Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

While it's far simpler to make a bomb from HEU, it's conceivable that terrorists could build a plutonium-based device with expert help, observers say. Just 15 pounds of the material, a baseball-sized chunk, would be enough to wipe out a large portion of a major city. Last month, Kyrgyz security agents arrested a man trying to sell 60 small containers of plutonium. ..

[In 2003] international nuclear inspectors reported that the Tokaimura nuclear-fuel reprocessing plant north of Tokyo could not account for some of its plutonium - enough to make 25 nuclear weapons. Similarly, France's COGEMA Cadarache plant where the US is shipping its excess military plutonium, was found by EURATOM in 2002 to have "an unacceptable amount of material unaccounted for," according to a recent report in Nuclear Fuel, a trade publication." 

Of about 200 metric tons of separated plutonium, all but 11 are in the EC, Japan or Russia.  Civilian stockpiles of all plutonium have roughly doubled since 1990, to almost 2000 metric tons.

  5:37:50 PM  permalink  

Dave Pell's summary:  Cheney "was still only able to name one terrorist who had been in Iraq for a very short time. That is now the justification for an invasion? ..

Our invasion into Iraq strengthened Zarqawi, earned him more support, and, if anything, made his capture less likely. ..

If you are voting for this president, then you have to believe that it is appropriate for us to go to war over the risk that a guy who doesn't have any weapons of mass destruction will pass them on to those with whom he has no ties."

  4:06:00 PM  permalink  

Poll Shows More than 4 in 10 Still Link Saddam to 9/11: Oct 5, 2004:  "While the press gave extensive coverage Tuesday to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s statement that he hasn't seen "any strong, hard evidence" to link Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda terrorists who staged the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, it became ever more apparent that the media still have their work cut out for them on this issue.  

Rumsfeld's comments came as a new USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll found that 42% of those surveyed thought the former Iraqi leader was involved in the attacks on New York City and Washington.  In response to another question, 32% said they thought Saddam had personally planned them.  The same poll in June showed that 56% of all Republicans said they thought Saddam was involved with the 9/11 attacks. In the latest poll that number actually climbs, to 62%. "  Wonder who gave them that impression?  9:40:31 AM  permalink  

The Protocol Informatics Project: Application of bioinformatic algorithms, which decode DNA sequences, to computer protocols, allowing the discovery of protocol structure from captured data.  Could be useful in network debugging, generating test data, or even discovering hackers.  Other info: article in Wired, excellent presentation with diagrams.  8:51:38 AM  permalink  


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Last update: 5/16/2006; 12:05:34 PM.