Posts Tagged ‘National Security’


Selling China The Rope To Hang Us

October 19, 2009

Art. 3 Sec. 3 – Treason: aid and comfort to an enemy.

Selling China The Rope To Hang Us

IBD: 19 Oct. 2009

National Security: On the eve of a visit by China’s No. 2 ranking military officer, the Obama administration loosens export controls on technology that will benefit Chinese missile development. It’s deja vu all over again.

The Pentagon has announced that Chinese Gen. Xu Caihou will visit the United States and meet with Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Oct. 26. Xu is vice chairman of the People’s Liberation Army Central Military Commission. While here, Xu will visit American military installations around the U.S., including the U.S. Pacific Command.

Perhaps Xu will bring with him a note of thanks for the administration’s decision to shift authority for approving sales of missile and space technology from the White House to the Commerce Department. As Bill Gertz points out in the Washington Times, the little-noticed “presidential determination” made Sept. 29 alters a key provision of the 1999 Defense Authorization Act.

That provision required that the president notify Congress whether a proposed transfer of missile and space technology to China would harm the U.S. space-launch industry or help China’s missile programs. It was enacted after a Clinton-administration scandal in which U.S. companies were allowed to transfer technology that jump-started a troubled Chinese missile program.

After the failed launch of a satellite built by Loral Space and Communications Ltd. and attached to a Chinese rocket in February 1996, Loral provided 200 pages of data to China’s Great Wall Industry Corp. to correct the guidance system problems of their “Long March” rockets, which blew up 75% of the time. Hughes Electronics was also involved in the technology transfers.

On March 14, 1996, the Clinton administration transferred licensing responsibility for technology exports to the Commerce Department from State and Defense and, as a result, our formerly strict export controls were effectively eviscerated. This transferring of licensing responsibility was made after a request from a man who would be the Democratic Party’s largest donor in 1996 — Loral Chairman Bernard L. Schwartz.

A May 1997 classified Pentagon report concluded that Loral had “turned over expertise that significantly improved China’s nuclear missiles” and that “United States national security has been harmed.”

According to the Pentagon, the technology that improved the Long March satellite launcher has also made the Dong Feng ICBM series more lethal.

The move to shift technology export controls back to Commerce comes not long after the Chinese successfully tested a ground-launched anti-satellite weapon.

It follows a military parade celebrating 60 years of Communist rule. On display were 108 missiles of various types, including some designed to end U.S. dominance in the Western Pacific.

Military analysts strained their necks to see one new Chinese missile, the land-based DF-21, the world’s first ballistic missile capable of hitting a moving target at sea. The conventionally armed missile has maneuverable warheads and a range in excess of 1,000 miles.

“Investments in cyber and anti-satellite warfare (by China), anti-air and anti-ship weaponry, and ballistic missiles could threaten America’s primary way to project power and help allies in the Pacific — in particular our forward air bases and carrier strike groups,” Gates recently said in a speech to the Air Force Association.

“It is shocking,” said Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, “that it (technology controls) would be delegated to the secretary of commerce, whose job it is to promote trade, rather than to the secretary of state or the secretary of defense, who have far more knowledge and responsibility within their organizations for missile technology.”

Edward Timperlake, a Pentagon technology-security official under George W. Bush, said of the policy shift: “It looks like we’re going to have Loral-Hughes part two.”

Indeed, under the guise of space cooperation, we appear to be about to repeat the mistakes of the 1990s, when our technology flowed to the Chinese, allowing them to fix and modernize their ICBM force.

During his visit, Gen. Xu will have a chance to see the carriers and other warships in the U.S. Pacific Fleet — or as the Chinese might call them, thanks to periodic infusions of U.S. technology, targets.


MOP + UON Spells Trouble For Iran

October 9, 2009

MOP + UON Spells Trouble For Iran

IBD: 9 Oct. 2009

Security: After Iran admits building a second enrichment facility inside a mountain, the Pentagon shifts money from other programs to urgently fund the mother of all bunker-buster bombs. Why the need for speed?

At the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh last month, President Obama announced, “The Islamic Republic of Iran has been building a covert uranium enrichment facility near Qom for several years.”

U.S. officials said they knew for some time that the facility existed. The announcement was made after U.S. officials learned Iran had told the International Atomic Energy Agency of Qom’s existence.

Our knowledge of the facility built in a mountainous area may explain why back in 2007 there was tucked inside an Iraq/Afghanistan emergency war funding request some $88 million to rush the development of a 30,000-pound bunker buster called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP).

As we reported in August, Defense Department Comptroller Robert Hale sent a formal request to four congressional committees asking permission to shift about $68 million in the Pentagon’s slashed budget to accelerate our bunker buster bomb program by three years so that at least four 30,000-pound bombs could be mounted on B-2 stealth bombers by July 2010.

In his July 8 letter to Congress, Hale said there was “an urgent operational need (UON) for the capability to strike hard and deeply buried targets in high-threat environments. The MOP is the weapon of choice to meet the requirements of the UON. ”

The request noted that it was endorsed by Pacific Command (which has responsibility over North Korea) and Central Command (which has responsibility over Iran).

The request has been quietly approved and, last Friday, McDonnell Douglas was awarded a $51.9 million contract to provide “Massive Ordnance Penetrator Integration” on B-2 stealth bombers.

The MOP, developed by Northrop Grumman and Boeing, is designed to destroy deeply buried and reinforced bunkers and tunnels of the type North Korea and Iran have been building for years.

Iran’s Natanz facility, where Tehran is enriching uranium and producing weapons-grade material, is thought to be protected by several yards of concrete and as much as 75 feet of dirt.

Before the Qom facility was disclosed, John Pike of Global Security explained the “urgent operational need” the Pentagon was so reluctant to reveal:

“You’d use it on Natanz,” Pike said. “And you’d use it on a stealth bomber because you want it to be a surprise. And you put it in an emergency request because you want to bomb quickly.”

Certainly the Israelis are feeling a sense of urgency and have been making their own preparations for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli Air Force has purchased more than 100 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition kits. The first LJDAMs were delivered to the U.S. Air Force in 2008.

Retired Lt. Col. Bob McGinnis says this new technology could be used in a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear sites.

“It would appear as if Israel is certainly assembling the pieces for a strike, should they decide to do it,” said McGinnis.

The Israeli Navy recently took delivery of two more German-built Dolphin-class submarines, bringing their total to five. According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, the submarines, called U212s, are capable of launching cruise missiles carrying nuclear weapons.

It could be the bunker buster contract is just a bargaining chip, a message to Iran. It could be that it is a recognition that Israel will attack anyway and might need some help and backing that only we can provide.

Or it could be that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was serious when she said on July 26 on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that “it is unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons” and that “we’re not going to let that happen.”


A War Defended

May 22, 2009

A War Defended


National Security: President Obama and former Vice President Cheney verbally sparred over how best to fight terrorism in the post-9/11 world. If it had been a real fight, it would have been stopped in the first round.

Read More: Global War On Terror

We have to hand it to President Obama. His speech at the National Archives, laden with legal abstractions and defensive rationalizations for his administration’s national security policies, at least pays lip service to an “extremist ideology (that) threatens our people” and to the plain fact that “al Qaida is actively planning to attack us again.”

Both quite true. We’re glad he recognizes that much.

But he goes on to say that since 9/11, the previous administration “made a series of hasty decisions” based largely on “fear rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions.”

In fact, after 9/11, the Bush administration carefully crafted a new national security policy for the U.S. based on a rational calculation of the threat before us — a policy, by the way, that kept the homeland safe from terrorist attack for 7 1/2 years.

Bush’s White House didn’t “trim” facts; it laid them out, as best it could, at a time of great confusion and chaos. And it did so with overwhelming bipartisan agreement — which fell apart only after the polls shifted against the war in Iraq. Yet, Obama ignores the blatant politicization of our national security to portray the Bush administration as unhinged and ideological.

This, of course, is false. And, as Vice President Cheney reminds us, 9/11 did not come out of the blue. It was the culmination of a series of Clinton-era attacks stretching back to the 1993 car-bombing of the World Trade Center, the 1995 bombing of a U.S. training facility in Saudi Arabia, the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, the 1998 attacks on our embassies in East Africa, and the 2000 attack in Yemen on the USS Cole.

Problem is, Obama seems to want to return to that era — a time when, as Cheney notes, terrorism was treated as a “law enforcement problem, with everything handled after the fact.”

What a stark contrast in attitudes. After 9/11, “Everyone expected a follow-on attack, and our job was to stop it,” said Cheney. Topping the list of concerns was “a 9/11 with nuclear weapons.”

That’s why the nuclear network of A.Q. Khan was shut down. It’s also why Saddam Hussein, with known ties to terror groups including al-Qaida, and with a nuclear program of his own, was deposed.

For those with short memories, Cheney talks of being hustled into a bunker on 9/11, where he got “word of the crash in Pennsylvania, the final phone calls from hijacked planes, the final horror for those who jumped to their death to escape burning alive.”

“I’ll freely admit,” he says, “that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on your country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities.”

That is a sane, grown-up response — not a lawyerly response premised on the trendy idea that, somehow, we are to blame for the attacks, that America, as some on the left have said, “had it coming.”

When called upon, President Bush and Vice President Cheney took their responsibilities seriously. They made tough decisions to keep us safe from the predations of terrorists whose ultimate goal is to murder our people and destroy our civilization.


Prosecuting Heroes

May 12, 2009

Prosecuting Heroes

National Security: The Justice Department may launch a witch hunt against those who organized the enhanced interrogation of terrorists. That’s no way to treat people who saved so many lives.

The American public has just seen how policy based on campaign rhetoric can come crashing into the reality of a successful past policy.

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, as a retired admiral who commanded the Navy in the Pacific and served on the White House’s National Security Council, must be smarter than his recent statements make him out to be.

In a private memo to spy agency employees last week, made public by Blair this week, he conceded that “high value information” was obtained by the enhanced interrogation techniques the Bush administration authorized the CIA to use on terrorist detainees.

They gave “a deeper understanding of the al-Qaida network,” according to President Obama’s choice to oversee America’s network of 16 intelligence agencies.

In a subsequent statement, however, Blair added that “there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means.”

In the original memo, he remarks that “(I) like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past, but I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time, and I will absolutely defend those who carried out the interrogations within the orders they were given.”

It looks like a troubling case of angst has taken hold of those charged with keeping our country safe.

But you simply cannot have it both ways. When Blair agonizes about hoping he “would not have approved those methods,” does he not realize that not approving those methods would have meant hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans killed?

“Read on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009, (those interrogations) appear graphic and disturbing,” Blair said. Yet those methods foiled terrorist plots, in particular Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s graphic and disturbing plan to fly a passenger jet into the Library Tower in Los Angeles, the West Coast’s tallest skyscraper.

How can Blair really believe, as he claimed this week, that “the bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security”?

How can “image” trump the saving of lives in national security policy?

On Tuesday, the president called it “a decision for the attorney general” whether those in the Bush administration who provided legal backing for the enhanced interrogations would be prosecuted — this after claiming he wasn’t interested in any such witch hunts.

Meanwhile, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., has released a report claiming that CIA and Pentagon officials prepared groundwork for the enhanced techniques before receiving a legal OK — as if being prepared to help protect the nation constitutes a smoking gun.

Levin contends they “bear significant responsibility for creating the legal and operational framework for the abuses.”

Far from abuse, they were serving the nation more than the average senator. All those involved in this program are owed a debt of gratitude from all of us.

They certainly don’t deserve to be hounded by the Justice Department or Congress.


National Security Court?

January 28, 2009

National Security Court? We Already Have One

by Bill West
IPT News
January 26, 2009

Last week, the Wall Street Journal offered an op-ed article detailing the difficulties facing the Obama Administration in closing the Guantanamo detention center: what to do with those detainees and how to handle terrorism suspects captured in the future on foreign battlefields by our military and intelligence services. The article notes that a possible option to solve these problems would be the Congressional creation of a new “National Security Court.” Such a court would be a hybrid of federal civilian criminal courts, U.S. military courts and the Guantanamo-based military commissions.

This concept has been around for a couple of years now. It was initially proposed by Andrew McCarthy, the former senior Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York who successfully prosecuted Omar Abdel Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh,” as well as the perpetrators of the first World Trade Center attack. The concept appears to have substantial merit. Theoretically, such a court would be able to try cases against terrorist enemy combatants utilizing both overt evidence and, under tightly controlled circumstances, classified intelligence evidence. The creation of a National Security Court would require the proverbial act of Congress.

Some argue such a National Security Court would be a “star chamber” and would fly in the face of traditional American jurisprudence. However, if properly structured and staffed, such a court would go a long way to solve the conundrum of how to deal with enemy combatant terror suspects, many of whom cannot effectively be tried in civilian courts due to the classified nature of key evidence against them. Presumably, within a National Security Court system, defense attorneys would receive appropriate security clearances, and unclassified summaries of classified evidence would be provided to defendants whenever possible. Mechanisms would likely be in place to allow for the secure and, if necessary anonymous, testimony of intelligence agents and their “assets.” Does all this sound a bit too fantastic to really work? It might be a surprise to learn the United States already has a workable, if not working, version of a National Security Court.

The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-132) created significant revisions to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Among those revisions was the creation of Title V of the INA. That provision created the Alien Terrorist Removal Procedures and the Alien Terrorist Removal Court (ATRC). The ATRC was the result of a bi-partisan Congressional effort supported by then-President Bill Clinton. The ATRC changed the nature of potential deportation (removal) adjudication substantially, but in a limited and controlled fashion.

Before the ATRC, all formal deportation cases resided in the Immigration Court system that is rooted in Title II of the Immigration and Nationality Act. That court process requires, for the adjudication of the merits of deportation charges, that the Government present overt evidence in open and adversarial court proceedings. Classified, or secret, evidence can be utilized in Title II Immigration Court proceedings only under very limited circumstances, where it is presented in-camera and ex-parte to the court, for the court to render decisions on certain immigration relief issues. Those relief issues include release from custody in pending deportation proceedings and the various kinds of discretionary relief from deportation, like political asylum.

In contrast, regular Immigration Court proceedings require the underlying substantive deportation charges be proven with overt, publicly scrutinized evidence to which the alien respondent (defendant in deportation cases) and his/her attorneys receive full access. The ATRC, however, changed that process for what was then the significant but small population of aliens suspected of being involved in terrorism and terror support activities. The ATRC process can be invoked only if it is determined – and that determination literally requires a decision by the U.S. Attorney General – that the case cannot be handled in regular Immigration Court proceedings. That situation would virtually always be when key evidence is classified – obtained by intelligence agencies or other highly covert sources.

The ATRC provides mechanisms for classified information to be used as evidence to adjudicate the merits of the underlying deportation charges. That is done, however, under notably limited and tightly controlled procedures. Whenever possible, unclassified summaries of classified evidence are to be provided to the respondent and his/her attorneys. Defense attorneys may be granted security clearances so they can have access to classified evidence and the respondent and his/her attorneys may challenge the evidence against him/her. The judges who sit on the Court are selected by the Chief Justice of the United States (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), and all the judges receive appropriate security clearances. As previously stated, only cases certified by the Attorney General, after a multi-level and multi-agency review process, can be heard by the Court. There is a specific adversarial process allowed in the court proceedings and special, yet still adversarial, appellate proceedings are permitted.

The ATRC has been in operational existence since about 1997. As noteworthy as this “national security” court for deportation cases might seem, ironically, not one case has been tried before it. In the hue and cry of the late 1990s over the use of “secret” evidence in immigration proceedings, the same Clinton Administration that supported the creation of the ATRC chose the politically expedient avenue of not sending any cases to it. Similarly, if perhaps inexplicably, the Bush Administration did not refer any cases to the ATRC, even after the 9/11 attacks. Even while the Bush Administration and the Congress toiled over the creation of the Guantanamo military commissions, wherein classified evidence could be allowed to prosecute detained enemy combatants who might face the death penalty, no deportation cases were sent to the already duly constituted ATRC.

The inactive ATRC does not mean its underlying concept is without merit. Its lack of utilization is likely more the result of misplaced political correctness at the highest levels of our political leadership. If the creation of a new National Security Court is to be seriously considered, Congress and the new Administration may do well to look at the ATRC as a model. Many of the procedural and operational issues that might relate to a National Security Court have already been addressed with the Alien Terrorist Removal Court.

Bill West is a consultant to the Investigative Project on Terrorism. He retired in 2003 as chief of the national security section for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).