Using Water As A Weapon Of War

Herschel Smith · 03 Aug 2014 · 9 Comments

Next City: In a war, anything can be a weapon. In a particularly ruthless war, such as the conflict that has been raging in Syria for more than three years, those weapons are often turned against civilians, making any semblance of normal life impossible. Such is the case, experts say, with the way the nation’s water supply is being manipulated to inflict suffering on the population. According to an article posted by Chatham House, a London-based independent policy institute, water…… [read more]

Concerning Killing Bin Laden

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 10 months ago

A former Navy SEAL is challenging Nicholas Schmidle’s account of the OBL raid.

Forget whatever you think you know about the night Osama bin Laden was killed. According to a former Navy SEAL who claims to have the inside track, the mangled tales told of that historic night have only now been corrected.

“It became obvious in the weeks evolving after the mission that the story that was getting put out there was not only untrue, but it was a really ugly farce of what did happen,” said Chuck Pfarrer, author of Seal Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama Bin Laden.

In an extensive interview with The Daily Caller, Pfarrer gave a detailed account of why he believes the record needed to be corrected, and why he set out to share the personal stories of the warriors who penetrated bin Laden’s long-secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

In August the New Yorker delivered a riveting blow-by-blow of the SEALs’ May 1, 2011 raid on bin Laden’s hideaway. In that account, later reported to lack contributions from the SEALs involved, readers are taken through a mission that began with a top-secret helicopter crashing and led to a bottom-up assault of the Abbottabad compound.

Freelancer Nicholas Schmidle wrote that the SEALs had shot and blasted their way up floor-by-floor, finally cornering the bewildered Al-Qaida leader:

“The Al Qaeda chief, who was wearing a tan shalwar kameez and a prayer cap on his head, froze; he was unarmed. ‘There was never any question of detaining or capturing him—it wasn’t a split-second decision. No one wanted detainees,’ the special-operations officer told me. (The Administration maintains that had bin Laden immediately surrendered he could have been taken alive.) Nine years, seven months, and twenty days after September 11th, an American was a trigger pull from ending bin Laden’s life. The first round, a 5.56-mm. bullet, struck bin Laden in the chest. As he fell backward, the SEAL fired a second round into his head, just above his left eye.”

Chuck Pfarrer rejects almost all of that story.

“The version of the 45-minute firefight, and the ground-up assault, and the cold-blooded murder on the third floor — that wasn’t the mission,” Pfarrer told TheDC.

“I had to try and figure out, well, look: Why is this story not what I’m hearing? Why is it so off and how is it so off?” he recounted. “One of the things I sort of determined was, OK, somebody was told ‘one of the insertion helicopters crashed.’ OK, well that got muddled to ‘a helicopter crashed on insertion.’”

The helicopters, called “Stealth Hawks,” are inconspicuous machines concealing cutting-edge technology. They entered the compound as planned, with “Razor 1″ disembarking its team of SEALs on the roof of the compound — not on the ground level. There was no crash landing. That wouldn’t occur until after bin Laden was dead.

Meanwhile, “Razor 2″ took up a hovering position so that its on-board snipers, some of whom had also participated in the sea rescue of Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips, had a clear view of anyone fleeing the compound.

The SEALs then dropped down from the roof, immediately penetrated the third floor, and hastily encountered bin Laden in his room. He was not standing still.

“He dived across the king-size bed to get at the AKSU rifle he kept by the headboard,” wrote Pfarrer in his book. It was at that moment, a mere 90 seconds after the SEALs first set foot on the roof, that two American bullets shattered bin Laden’s chest and head, killing a man who sought violence to the very end.

Pfarrer goes on to describe how the announcement of the mission on the very day of the mission rendered all intelligence taken from the compound as moot and worthless.  Then there is this bombshell statement.

Whether or not bin Laden resisted ultimately developed into a barrage of murky official and unofficial explanations in the days following. And statements from as high as then-CIA Director Leon Panetta offered confirmation  that the endeavor was a “kill mission.”

Pfarrer dismisses that assertion.

“An order to go in and murder someone in their house is not a lawful order,” explained Pfarrer, who maintains that bin Laden would have been captured had he surrendered. “Unlike the Germans in World War II, if you’re a petty officer, a chief petty officer, a naval officer, and you’re giving an order to murder somebody, that’s an unlawful order.”

Good grief.  I don’t know about the balance of this report, and I like and respect Nick Schmidle and his work.  He can address the criticism better than can I.  But I will address this last statement by Pfarrer.

This is an absolutely absurd, ridiculous, outlandish, outrageous claim to make.  I have discussed the rules of engagement before with 69 articles to date and more detail than be found anywhere on the internet, linking and discussing the standing ROE issued by the CJCS, the Iraq-specific ROE, the Afghanistan ROE and General McChrystal’s tactical directive, and so on.

The fact of the matter is that there are mission-specific rules of engagement, and they don’t always comport with the theater-specific ROE.  Furthermore, while it might have been correct to say something like a targeted killing does not comport with the standing ROE issued by the CJCS, thus requiring specific instructions to these servicemen, or thus requiring an order by the POTUS, what Pfarrer has said is that such an order would be “unlawful” and the action tantamount to “murder.”

It’s the same error in judgment that General Kearney made with he attempted to charge two Army snipers with murder when they targeted an unarmed Taliban commander.  General Kearney should have been dismissed from his command for being an idiot and the two snipers commended for their actions.

It is legitimate to conduct these kinds of missions, just as it is to conduct sniper operations.

… discussion of the location of bin Laden’s weapon and whether he might have been wearing a suicide vest are utterly irrelevant: engaging bin Laden with deadly force is most appropriately viewed as grounded on the second rationale: jus in bello.

The law pertaining to the conduct of hostilities (jus in bello), which has developed since antiquity and includes certain provisions of the modern Geneva and Hague conventions, permits the sanctioned killing of an opponent in an armed conflict, regardless of whether he is armed at the moment he is engaged. So long as the opponent meets the minimum criteria to be regarded as a combatant (even an unlawful combatant), he may be engaged with deadly force, even if he is separated from his weapon. He may be killed while sleeping, eating, taking a shower, cleaning his weapon, meditating, or standing on his head. It is his status as an enemy combatant, not his activity at the moment of engagement, which is dispositive.

It is manifestly absurd to assert that an order to kill OBL would have been tantamount to murder.  It was and is no different than the targeted killings of Tehrik-i-Taliban commanders by drone strikes (which we do on a semi-daily basis).

Again, Nick Schmidle can handle the balance of the criticism.  Thus far, I am not impressed with Mr. Pfarrer’s tirade.

Unsecured Pakistani Nuclear Weapons

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 11 months ago

Settling a debate that has been waged for years, it is being reported that Pakistani nuclear weapons are vulnerable.

There is evidence to suggest that neither the Pakistani army, nor the SPD itself, considers jihadism the most immediate threat to the security of its nuclear weapons; indeed, General Kayani’s worry, as expressed to General Kidwai after Abbottabad, was focused on the United States. According to sources in Pakistan, General Kayani believes that the U.S. has designs on the Pakistani nuclear program, and that the Abbottabad raid suggested that the U.S. has developed the technical means to stage simultaneous raids on Pakistan’s nuclear facilities.

In their conversations, General Kidwai assured General Kayani that the counterintelligence branch of the SPD remained focused on rooting out American and Indian spies from the Pakistani nuclear-weapons complex, and on foiling other American espionage methods. The Pakistani air force drills its pilots in ways of intercepting American spy planes; the Pakistani military assumes (correctly) that the U.S. devotes many resources to aerial and satellite surveillance of its nuclear sites.

In their post-Abbottabad discussion, General Kayani wanted to know what additional steps General Kidwai was taking to protect his nation’s nuclear weapons from the threat of an American raid. General Kidwai made the same assurances he has made many times to Pakistan’s leaders: Pakistan’s program was sufficiently hardened, and dispersed, so that the U.S. would have to mount a sizable invasion of the country in order to neutralize its weapons; a raid on the scale of the Abbottabad incursion would simply not suffice.

Still, General Kidwai promised that he would redouble the SPD’s efforts to keep his country’s weapons far from the prying eyes, and long arms, of the Americans, and so he did: according to multiple sources in Pakistan, he ordered an increase in the tempo of the dispersal of nuclear-weapons components and other sensitive materials. One method the SPD uses to ensure the safety of its nuclear weapons is to move them among the 15 or more facilities that handle them. Nuclear weapons must go to the shop for occasional maintenance, and so they must be moved to suitably equipped facilities, but Pakistan is also said to move them about the country in an attempt to keep American and Indian intelligence agencies guessing about their locations.

Nuclear-weapons components are sometimes moved by helicopter and sometimes moved over roads. And instead of moving nuclear material in armored, well-defended convoys, the SPD prefers to move material by subterfuge, in civilian-style vehicles without noticeable defenses, in the regular flow of traffic. According to both Pakistani and American sources, vans with a modest security profile are sometimes the preferred conveyance. And according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, the Pakistanis have begun using this low-security method to transfer not merely the “de-mated” component nuclear parts but “mated” nuclear weapons. Western nuclear experts have feared that Pakistan is building small, “tactical” nuclear weapons for quick deployment on the battlefield. In fact, not only is Pakistan building these devices, it is also now moving them over roads.

What this means, in essence, is this: In a country that is home to the harshest variants of Muslim fundamentalism, and to the headquarters of the organizations that espouse these extremist ideologies, including al-Qaeda, the Haqqani network, and Lashkar-e-Taiba (which conducted the devastating terror attacks on Mumbai three years ago that killed nearly 200 civilians), nuclear bombs capable of destroying entire cities are transported in delivery vans on congested and dangerous roads. And Pakistani and American sources say that since the raid on Abbottabad, the Pakistanis have provoked anxiety inside the Pentagon by increasing the pace of these movements. In other words, the Pakistani government is willing to make its nuclear weapons more vulnerable to theft by jihadists simply to hide them from the United States, the country that funds much of its military budget.

Jeffrey Goldberg and Marc Ambinder, writing for The Atlantic, continue with a discussion of the always bad but increasingly tense and distrusting relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan.  Eventually they get to possible broad stroke scenarios for well-rehearsed or even exigent military operations to secure Pakistani nuclear weapons in the case of a jihadist coup that leaves Pakistan without central authority (presumably, this could only happen in the case of collusion between jihadist elements and Pakistani ISI and elements of its military).

Much more challenging than capturing and disabling a loose nuke or two, however, would be seizing control of—or at least disabling—the entire Pakistani nuclear arsenal in the event of a jihadist coup, civil war, or other catastrophic event. This “disablement campaign,” as one former senior Special Operations planner calls it, would be the most taxing, most dangerous of any special mission that JSOC could find itself tasked with—orders of magnitude more difficult and expansive than Abbottabad. The scale of such an operation would be too large for U.S. Special Operations components alone, so an across-the-board disablement campaign would be led by U.S. Central Command—the area command that is responsible for the Middle East and Central Asia, and runs operations in Afghanistan and Iraq—and U.S. Pacific Command.

JSOC would take the lead, however, accompanied by civilian experts, and has been training for such an operation for years. JSOC forces are trained to breach the inner perimeters of nuclear installations, and then to find, secure, evacuate—or, if that’s not possible, to “render safe”—any live weapons. At the Nevada National Security Site, northwest of Las Vegas, Delta Force and SEAL Team Six squadrons practice “Deep Underground Shelter” penetrations, using extremely sensitive radiological detection devices that can pick up trace amounts of nuclear material and help Special Operations locate the precise spot where the fissile material is stored. JSOC has also built mock Pashtun villages, complete with hidden mock nuclear-storage depots, at a training facility on the East Coast, so SEALs and Delta Force operatives can practice there.

At the same time American military and intelligence forces have been training in the U.S for such a disablement campaign, they have also been quietly pre-positioning the necessary equipment in the region. In the event of a coup, U.S. forces would rush into the country, crossing borders, rappelling down from helicopters, and parachuting out of airplanes, so they could begin securing known or suspected nuclear-storage sites. According to the former senior Special Operations planner, JSOC units’ first tasks might be to disable tactical nuclear weapons—because those are more easily mated, and easier to move around, than long-range missiles.

In a larger disablement campaign, the U.S. would likely mobilize the Army’s 20th Support Command, whose Nuclear Disablement Teams would accompany Special Operations detachments or Marine companies into the country. These teams are trained to engage in what the military delicately calls “sensitive site exploitation operations on nuclear sites”—meaning that they can destroy a nuclear weapon without setting it off. Generally, a mated nuclear warhead can be deactivated when its trigger mechanism is disabled—and so both the Army teams and JSOC units train extensively on the types of trigger mechanisms that Pakistani weapons are thought to use. According to some scenarios developed by American war planners, after as many weapons as possible were disabled and as much fissile material as possible was secured, U.S. troops would evacuate quickly—because the final stage of the plan involves precision missile strikes on nuclear bunkers, using special “hard and deeply buried target” munitions.

But nuclear experts issue a cautionary note: it is not clear that American intelligence can identify the locations of all of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, particularly after the Abbottabad raid.

This discussion is interesting, and provides perhaps the most comprehensive assessment to date (in the public domain) of what a military operation to secure Pakistani nuclear weapons might look like, and what are its chances of success.

I have briefly weighed in before on this, and to expand my thoughts, Goldberg and Ambinder’s description leaves a significant amount out of the equation (either because they didn’t report on it or because the Pentagon hasn’t considered it in war gaming scenarios).

First, while the Marines are mentioned in the planning, I believe that they would have to play a much larger role than described by the authors for the simple reason that long range planning is irrelevant.  There aren’t enough special operations troopers who can be permanently assigned the billet of waiting until Pakistan appears to be teetering on the brink of disaster to respond.

To be sure, while such an operation would rely heavily on SEALs, Delta Force and other elements of special operations, including Rangers, this would require force protection in the thousands while special operations breached the compounds and located the weapons.  No branch of the service has this kind of “force in readiness” but the Marines.  Rangers and other troops are needed in other parts of the world conducting critical missions.  They can’t sit and wait until Pakistan devolves into chaos.  They’re busy troops.

But this magnitude of operation would require even more than an infantry battalion in a MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit).  It would require several infantry battalions, with both ingress and egress by helicopter.  The fleet of helicopters would number in the hundreds, including transport and attack assets.  The general air support would include overwatch, communications and surveillance, refueling aircraft, fighters, and UAVs.  Notwithstanding the surgical strike that the Pentagon war gamers would like to imagine, this would be a very large scale operation.

Before such an operation even began it would be necessary to know, at least to some extent, the make, composition and enrichment of the weapons.  Loading multiple nuclear weapons on board a single aircraft bringing them in proximity with each other might create an operating nuclear reactor (Keff = 1) on board the aircraft unless criticality safety calculations were performed by qualified nuclear engineers prior to the operation to prove otherwise.  This might mean that each weapon required its own, individual transport out of the country if it is not destroyed in place.

Next, Goldberg and Ambinder mention it, but it bears repeating and emphasizing.  We probably didn’t have the human intelligence before the Bin Laden raid to pull off an operation this intelligence-driven, much less do we now.  As if we need further proof of the HUMINT anemia at the CIA, this recent report brings disturbing news.

In an anonymous industrial park in Virginia, in an unassuming brick building, the CIA is following tweets — up to 5 million a day.

At the agency’s Open Source Center, a team known affectionately as the “vengeful librarians” also pores over Facebook, newspapers, TV news channels, local radio stations, Internet chat rooms — anything overseas that anyone can access and contribute to openly.

From Arabic to Mandarin Chinese, from an angry tweet to a thoughtful blog, the analysts gather the information, often in native tongue. They cross-reference it with the local newspaper or a clandestinely intercepted phone conversation. From there, they build a picture sought by the highest levels at the White House, giving a real-time peek, for example, at the mood of a region after the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden or perhaps a prediction of which Mideast nation seems ripe for revolt.

It’s doubtful that tweets or facebook will do anything for us concerning knowledge of the whereabouts of Pakistani nuclear assets.  Finally, the U.S. would have to have a President who had the stomach to pull all of this off.  The losses could be significant, and there is at least the possibility, perhaps even the probability, that some nuclear assets would be left behind or that the operation would be a colossal failure.  The President would have to explain to the American public why he undertook such an action regardless of the outcome.

But the importance of planning and war gaming cannot be underestimated.  Consider what a nuclear weapon in the hands of the jihadists would do in New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Saint Louis, Charlotte or Denver?  In light of this report, the war gaming needs to ingest serious dose of reality, start over, and then take a gigantic step forward.

Attacking Iran: The Ultimate Election Year Distraction?

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 11 months ago

There has been quite a bit of talk lately about whether Israel is contemplating an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities.   One article on the subject is found at Commentary Magazine’s online blog, “Contentions.”

Jonathan Tobin does a very good job of looking at the big picture and discussing the geopolitical aspects of an attack by Israel against Iran’s nuclear facilities, but the long odds facing such an operation by Israel seem simply prohibitive.

But what if all of the public debate about an Israeli strike against Iran was not just conjecture or the case of Israeli politicians leaking information to the press, but, rather, an intentional gambit by Israel to push President Obama to take stiffer action against Iran than the ineffective sanctions route?  What if the Israelis know something about Obama that tells them that not only is Obama receptive to attacking Iran but he is looking for an excuse to do so?   Could this President be just crazy enough to try to pull off a missile and air strike against Iran’s nuclear program?   Ordinarily the idea is absurd.   But these are not ordinary times.   Obama’s presidency is failing fast and he is thrashing around like a drowning man.

Fasten your seatbelts for a little rampant speculation and see if there isn’t a grain of sense in all of this.

First, let’s get inside the Obama White House.   Imagine the increasing frenzy.   Obama has tried everything to resurrect his sinking popularity but nothing has worked so far.   Killing Bin Laden?  A temporary bounce that has long since fizzled.  Killing Qaddafi?  Nothing doing.   Yanking the troops out of Iraq post haste?  No one seems to care.   Another $500 billion, Son of Stimulus spending spree packaged as a “Jobs Bill” is going nowhere fast.  The public has figured out that Obama does not spend our tax dollars but, rather, throws most of it out the window of Air Force One while the rest goes to his political cronies like unions and Democrat campaigns.

He needs something big.  Really big.  Domestic policy is not an option because the Republicans have a choke hold on the House of Representatives for the remainder of his term.

Could Iran be the ticket?

As crazy as it sounds, there are a number of factors that might line up in Obama’s mind and convince him to green light an attack.

For one, an attack against Iranian nuclear facilities is exactly the kind of wargaming that Obama enjoys the most:  remote, relatively low-risk, no ground troops involved, short duration, odds stacked highly in our favor.   Missiles, drones, stealth bombers, stealth fighters.  Maybe some Special Ops going in to blow up a thing or two.   No long-term commitment and largely out of his hands once the decision is made to proceed.

Another factor Obama may find attractive in a strike against Iran is the revenge factor.  More than one commentator has observed that Obama does not like to be snubbed or insulted.   He has extraordinarily thin skin.   And the Iranians have insulted and maligned him like no other on the international stage.   This must be especially galling to Obama given the way he has scraped and bowed to the Iranian Regime, offered the so-called “open hand,” and the only response has been the back of their hand across Obama’s face.  Pure speculation here, but it must eat at his sizable ego to think of Ahmadinnerjacket and the mullahs laughing at him.   He must want to get even very badly.   So there is ample motivation for him.

Still another argument in favor of striking Iran would be its effect upon Israel.   Whether it is all the anti-Semitic rants he absorbed for 20 years in Jeremiah Wright’s Chicago church or the Leftist obsession for the “plight of Palestinians,” President Obama seems to harbor a deep dislike for the Jewish State and, perhaps especially, for Prime Minister Netanyahu.  There is no doubt that Israeli officials have been making it clear to the Administration that they will act if Obama does not.   The thought that Netanyahu might show himself to be a decisive leader while Obama dithers is unbearable to The One.   This may be the very game that Netanyahu is playing on Obama right now.   And Obama may that he will be in a strong position to demand huge concessions from Netanyahu if Obama takes out Iran’s nukes, enough to seal the deal on a peace plan that could net Obama a second Nobel prize and the international acclaim he constantly craves.

But perhaps the most appealing aspect must be the political angle and its effect on his chances of re-election.  Americans have a hard time resisting a war-time President.  As long as hostilities do not go one for too long and they are seen as relatively successful (and the Leftist Media will make sure that no one knows whether it has been successful until long after the 2012 Elections), it is highly likely that his approval ratings will take a large jump.    It will also make Republican arguments that Obama is incompetent much harder to sell.

Will it be enough to drown out the terrible economy and lousy job market and skyrocketing deficits and rising prices?   Maybe not.  But that only makes it all the more imperative for him to try something as mad and desperate as this.   Add to this the calculus of the slowly widening scandals that threaten to engulf this Administration.   So far the Leftist Media has been able to hold back the floods on Solyndra (where it appears that more than half a billion dollars were railroaded to a failing company headed by a close ally and financial contributor of Obama) and the “Fast and Furious”  (where we are nowhere close to getting the truth and extent of the malfeasance).   If it appears that either or both of these scandals will take off in the public’s consciousness, Obama will be extremely tempted to pull a Bill Clinton-Lewinsky-Missile Strike distraction operation.    Attacking Iran with stand-off weapons would be the ultimate distraction that would assure zero coverage of either of these political scandals.

Do I really think that President Obama would launch a surprise strike on Iran?   No, not really.

But sometimes, when a politician lacking in scruples and dedicated to the idea that nothing is off limits in the quest for continued power is cornered, even the unthinkable may just be possible.   In this light, the withdrawal of all U.S. forces in Iraq next month actually eliminates one of the easiest targets for the Iranians to go after as a counter-strike.   Coincidence?  Almost certainly.  But convenient nonetheless.

And consider this article in The Guardian that discusses the preparations that Great Britain is making to support a U.S. attack on Iran:

Britain’s armed forces are stepping up their contingency planning for potential military action against Iran amid mounting concern about Tehran’s nuclear enrichment programme, the Guardian has learned.

The Ministry of Defence believes the US may decide to fast-forward plans for targeted missile strikes at some key Iranian facilities. British officials say that if Washington presses ahead it will seek, and receive, UK military help for any mission, despite some deep reservations within the coalition government.

In anticipation of a potential attack, British military planners are examining where best to deploy Royal Navy ships and submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles over the coming months as part of what would be an air and sea campaign.

They also believe the US would ask permission to launch attacks from Diego Garcia, the British Indian ocean territory, which the Americans have used previously for conflicts in the Middle East.

The Guardian has spoken to a number of Whitehall and defence officials over recent weeks who said Iran was once again becoming the focus of diplomatic concern after the revolution in Libya.

They made clear that Barack Obama, has no wish to embark on a new and provocative military venture before next November’s presidential election.

But they warned the calculations could change because of mounting anxiety over intelligence gathered by western agencies, and the more belligerent posture that Iran appears to have been taking.

Hawks in the US are likely to seize on next week’s report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is expected to provide fresh evidence of a possible nuclear weapons programme in Iran.

The Guardian has been told that the IAEA’s bulletin could be “a game changer” which will provide unprecedented details of the research and experiments being undertaken by the regime.

***

Another Whitehall official, with knowledge of Britain’s military planning, said that within the next 12 months Iran may have hidden all the material it needs to continue a covert weapons programme inside fortified bunkers. He said this had necessitated the UK’s planning being taken to a new level.

“Beyond [12 months], we couldn’t be sure our missiles could reach them,” the source said. “So the window is closing, and the UK needs to do some sensible forward planning. The US could do this on their own but they won’t.

“So we need to anticipate being asked to contribute. We had thought this would wait until after the US election next year, but now we are not so sure.

“President Obama has a big decision to make in the coming months because he won’t want to do anything just before an election.”

Another source added there was “no acceleration towards military action by the US, but that could change”. Next spring could be a key decision-making period, the source said. The MoD has a specific team considering the military options against Iran.

Since when do the British start making contingency plans to support a U.S. attack on Iran?   Very suspicious.  No doubt that President Obama will try to avoid anything so drastic as an attack on Iran for as long as possible, but this article indicates that the decision may well come to a head in the next several months.   As I say, it is probably crazy talk, but if the economy continues to stagnate, unemployment remains high, a scandal starts to gain traction and Obama’s approval numbers stay in the tank, do not be shocked if we start to hear increasingly tough language out of the Administration’s mouthpieces as a prelude.

As the saying goes, stay tuned.

News So Bad It Has To Be True: Iran Already Has Nukes (Time for Plan B)

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 11 months ago

On occasion someone will say, “That news is too good to be true.”   You won the lottery without even playing.    McDonald’s Big Macs have been discovered to lead to weight loss and longer life.   Obama wakes up one day and realizes that Leftist policies are killing this country.

Conversely, there ought to be a saying that some news is just so bad, it has to be true.   The opinion piece printed the other day in The Washington Times falls into this category:  so bad it has to be true.

Afterall, would anyone who has kept up with the pathetic Kabuki dance of anti-proliferation involving Iran since 2000 have any reason to doubt that Iran not only has The Bomb but has had The Bomb for quite awhile now and is simply working on expanding their stockpile?

I suppose we must always take a pseudonymous writer with a grain of salt, so this opinion piece by Reza Khalili must bear an asterisk, however small.   But I submit that, even if we were to exclude what Khalili says in his article about his days with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the remaining portions of his account that do not depend upon his inside information are plenty persuasive.

Here is the bad news:

The pressure the United States and the West is bringing to bear on Iran to keep it from acquiring nuclear weapons is all for naught. Not only does the Islamic Republic already have nuclear weapons from the old Soviet Union, but it has enough enriched uranium for more. What’s worse, it has a delivery system.

The West for nearly a decade has worried about Iran’s uranium enhancement, believing Iran is working on a nuclear bomb, though the government maintains its uranium is only for peaceful purposes.

When Iran began its nuclear program in the mid-1980s, I was working as a spy for the CIA within the Revolutionary Guards. The Guards‘ intelligence at that time had learned of Saddam Hussein’s attempt to buy a nuclear bomb for Iraq. Guard commanders concluded that they needed a nuclear bomb because if Saddam were to get his own, he would use it against Iran. At that time, the two countries were at war.

Mohsen Rezaei, then-chief commander of the Guards, received permission from the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to start a covert program to obtain nuclear weapons, so the Guards contacted Pakistani generals and Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist.

Commander Ali Shamkhani traveled to Pakistan, offering billions of dollars for a bomb, but ended up with a blueprint and centrifuges instead. The first centrifuge was transferred to Iran on Khomeini’s personal plane.

This is pretty damning stuff.  But even if we disregard what Khalili says about his days as a C.I.A. agent, the rest of his allegations are more than sufficient:

In a second but parallel attempt to amass nuclear weapons, Iran turned to the former Soviet republics. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1990, Iran coveted thousands of tactical nuclear warheads that had been dispersed in the former republics.

In the early 1990s, the CIA asked me to find an Iranian scientist who would testify that Iran had the bomb. The CIA had learned that Iranian intelligence agents were visiting nuclear installations throughout the former Soviet Union, with particular interest in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan, which had a significant portion of the Soviet arsenal and is predominately Muslim, was courted by Muslim Iran with offers of hundreds of millions of dollars for the bomb. Reports soon surfaced that three nuclear warheads were missing. This was corroborated by Russian Gen. Victor Samoilov, who handled the disarmament issues for the general staff. He admitted that the three were missing from Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile, Paul Muenstermann, then vice president of the German Federal Intelligence Service, said Iran had received two of the three nuclear warheads and medium-range nuclear delivery systems from Kazakhstan. It also was reported that Iran had purchased four 152 mm nuclear shells from the former Soviet Union, which were reportedly stolen and sold by former Red Army officers.

To make matters worse, several years later, Russian officials stated that when comparing documents in transferring nuclear weapons from Ukraine to Russia, there was a discrepancy of 250 nuclear weapons.

Last week, Mathew Nasuti, a former U.S. Air Force captain who was at one point hired by the State Department as an adviser to one of its provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq, said that in March 2008, during a briefing on Iran at the State Department, the department’s Middle East expert told the group that it was “common knowledge” that Iran had acquired tactical nuclear weapons from one or more of the former Soviet republics.

Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, an experienced intelligence officer and recipient of a Bronze Star, told me that his sources say Iran has two workable nuclear warheads.

An editorial in Kayhan, the Iranian newspaper directly under the supervision of the Office of the Supreme Leader, last year warned that if Iran were attacked, there would be nuclear blasts in American cities.

When you stop to think about it, this just makes too much sense to not be true.

It perfectly explains the behavior of every U.S. administration since the time that Iran allegedly gained possession of the nuclear weapons in the 1990′s.   From Clinton to Bush to Obama, all have almost robotically stated that it was “unacceptable” for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.   But not one of these administrations did anything concrete about it.

Think about this for a moment.   When the U.S. declares something to be “unacceptable,” one would naturally believe that the U.S. is going to act accordingly.    So when the Soviets began installing nuclear missile sites in Cuba, the U.S. imposed a blockade on the island and dared the Soviet Union to try to break it.    When the U.S. declared that a communist South Vietnam was unacceptable, the U.S. invested over half a million soldiers to prevent the takeover.   In more recent history, in the case of Bill Clinton, he refused to put up with the Serbian ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and launched a unilateral air war to stop it.   President Bush took bold military action to dislodge Al Qaeda from Afghanistan after 9/11 and remove Saddam Hussein.   Obama has gone on a drone strike frenzy since he took office, all in order to kill leaders who have not yet shown any ability to launch any sort of large-scale strike against the U.S.

But, strangely enough, when Iran pursues nuclear weapons– a regime whose fanatically religious leadership has universally pledged itself to the utter destruction of the U.S. and its allies in a way that Cuba, the Soviet Union, North Vietnam, China, Serbia and even Iraq never did– the U.S. does what?  All these presidents who have used the U.S. military on numerous occasions did nothing to halt Iran’s progress.   (And I am confident in the sophisticated readers of TCJ that no one will even think of the sanctions as real action).

Is there something about Iran’s conventional forces that is so menacing and so advanced that the success of any U.S. action against Iran would be in doubt?   Of course not.   Yes, Iran is always threatening that they will turn the Persian Gulf into a lake of bloody fiery oily fiery blood, or something to that effect.   But beyond an initial ability to cause havoc in the shipping lanes, it is bluster.   The U.S. has more than enough capabilities to ensure sufficient safe transit through the Straits of Hormuz, particularly after Iran’s military is reduced to ashes.   (Think of the Kuwaiti “Highway of Death”).

To my mind, the only thing that can account for the pusillanimous treatment of Iran by the U.S. is the certainty, in those secret briefings that new presidents always get, that Iran already has The Bomb and, furthermore, has the capacity to use them in at least some fashion that a president would find extremely unpleasant.   So, each administration has been putting on a brave face and declaring that the U.S. will not allow Iran to get The Bomb, all the while knowing that they have it and the most that we can do is try to slow down, interrupt, forestall or complicate their tireless efforts to expand their stock of bombs and delivery systems.

Cold comfort, that.

Khalili’s closing thoughts are chilling:

“History suggests that we may already be too late to stop Iran’s nuclear bomb. Why do we suppose Iran cannot accomplish in 20 years of trying – with access to vast amounts of unclassified data on nuclear-weapons design and equipped with 21st-century technology – what the U.S. accomplished in three years during the 1940s with the Manhattan Project?” asks nuclear weapons expert Peter Vincent Pry, who served in the CIA and on the EMP Commission, and is now president of EMPact America.

Mr. Pry concludes that Iran only needs a single nuclear weapon to destroy the United States. A nuclear EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack could collapse the national electric grid and other critical infrastructures that sustain the lives of 310 million Americans.

Are we ready to finally realize what the goals and the ideology of the jihadists in Tehran are and take appropriate action against them? The Iranian people themselves, who oppose the dictatorial mullahs, for years have asked us to do so. Thousands of them have lost their lives to show us the true nature of this regime. We must act before it’s too late.

But isn’t it already too late?  What can be done at this point?  Isn’t the game over?

Assuming that Khalili’s article is correct, it may be over in the sense of preventing the Regime from acquiring nuclear weapons, but that does not mean that the U.S. must accede to a Regime that continues to enhance and expand its nuclear capabilities.   Presumably this is the intent and aim of the Regime: an ongoing capability to manufacture a large number of nuclear weapons, something that the Regime presently lacks.

The goal may now have changed from prevention to neutralization, i.e. regime change.   Afterall, if it is already too late to take the nukes away from the Regime, the only option may be to take the Regime away from the nukes.   There is much, much more that the U.S. could be doing to ensure the downfall of the Regime and the rise of a pro-Western democracy in Iran.

This is not nation-building and this is not containment.   This is good, old fashioned covert operations and insurgency tactics designed to take out critical infrastructure like oil facilities, refineries and the electrical grid with plausible deniability.   The Iranian economy already teeters on the edge of ruin with high rates of inflation, massive corruption across every industry and a population that is seething for change.   The U.S. and its allies need to do everything possible to push the Iranian economy over the edge and support to the fullest extent those segments of the Green Movement that favor a pro-Western policy.   We need to push the buttons on Iran that fatally weaken them– the 1,000 cuts– without giving the Regime the excuse to launch a major terror attack.   At the same time, if the U.S. is smart, it will be doing everything possible to increase domestic production of oil and natural gas as a buffer against the predictable rise in oil prices as Iranian exports plunge due to disrupted drilling, sabotaged pipelines and industrial accidents.

An Iran with a limited number of nuclear weapons is not yet a hopeless situation.  In a nuclear age, possessing nukes is not enough.   A nation must possess a sufficient quantity to convince an opponent that any attack against it will result in a counter-strike of apocalyptic proportions.   When facing a regime like the one in Tehran with a so far, very limited stockpile of nukes, it is, ironically, the one who launches first who loses.   Iran lacks a large stockpile of nukes with which to threaten the U.S., so it cannot afford to initiate any type of nuclear attack.   If it does, it invites certain annihilation from the U.S. stockpile.   Strategically, Iran’s nukes, at this stage, only serve as a deterrent against conventional attack.   Like a bee with a very large stinger, the Regime’s nukes raise the cost of directly attacking it, but cannot, in the long run, serve as an absolute deterrent or prevail.

Instead, the Regime likely would welcome a direct attack and then claim such an attack as justification to use its small number of nukes as its only, real means of defense while counting on the international community’s protection after the fact and the sympathy generated by the initial attack launched by the U.S. (or Israel, perhaps).   The U.S. cannot fall into that trap.   By using covert means, the U.S. can work to eliminate the Regime and ensure that a democratic Iran emerges, one which will either relinquish the nuclear weapons or pose no more threat to the West than Israel or France.  The U.S. must find a way to become adept at the use of proxies even as the Regime has used Hezbollah and Hamas as its cat’s paw against Israel.

Whether the U.S. can find an elected leader with the courage and determination to pursue such a course is another matter altogether.   The current occupant of the White House is not going to do it.   It is hard to know at this point whether any of the current GOP candidates are up to the task, either.  One thing is clear, if we assume as a worst-case scenario that Iran already has at least a few, working nuclear devices and the means of delivery, every year that the Regime stays in power allows them to expand their nuclear capabilities and stockpile to the point where even covert action would be too risky.  That, to my mind, would be the very definition of “too late.”

Lanny Breuer: “Very Few People Need Semiautomatic Weapons Or Long Guns”

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 11 months ago

AFP:

A top US Justice Department official told lawmakers Tuesday that better controls are needed to help stem the flow of weapons from the United States into Mexico, where they may end up in the hands of drug cartels.

“It is clear that we need more tools to get those people who are buying the guns and illegally transporting them to Mexico,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing. “We need to stop the flow.”

According to Justice Department figures, in the past five years 94,000 weapons have been recovered from Mexican drug cartels, of which 64,000 — 70 percent — come from the United States.

Yet currently the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), a division of the Justice Department, is not permitted to “receive reports about multiple sales of long guns, of any kind of semiautomatic weapon or the like,” Breuer said.

“Very few hunters in the United States or sports people and law-abiding people really need to have semiautomatic weapons or long guns,” he said.

Breuer said that if US officials were notified then they could keep track of the powerful weapons.

This is a remarkable report on the testimony before Congress for several reasons.  First, even now after all of the information is out on the scandal that Fast and Furious has become, Breuer is still pretending that the handover of thousands of weapons to the drug cartels with absolutely no ability whatsoever to track them any further than the border was all about trying to stop the flow of weapons to the drug cartels.  It’s absurd on its face.

Next, Breuer still insists on perpetuating the 90% myth (although it has now morphed into the 70% myth in an apparent attempt to make it more believable).  Finally, Breuer steps on his own testimony by reintroducing the anti-firearms argument to the calculus.  If he was smart he would have avoided this as a potential for contaminating his (and the Justice Department’s) motives.  But like a dog returns to its own vomit he must continue his assault on the Second Amendment.  It’s a canard, this idea that so-called assault weapons are somehow responsible for mass shootings in the U.S.  Based on information I compiled when examining Heller II and assault weapons, long guns and assault rifles were no more likely to be used in shootings than handguns or shotguns.  Moreover, the number of mass shootings is so low as to be statistically insignificant.  They just don’t happen that often in America regardless of what the main stream media portrays.

But Lanny Breuer wants everyone to shoot a bolt action rifle, apparently, or better yet, nothing at all (Would Breuer allow us to use single action revolvers?).  Law abiding citizens just don’t need such a thing, according to him.  Not for hunting feral hogs in Texas or Georgia, not for home defense, not for sporting (such as 3-gun or other shooting competitions like IDPA), not for any reason at all.  And thus has Breuer told us what he and the Justice Department (and by extension, the White House) really thinks is important in this whole affair.  Citizens don’t need firearms.

Got it.  Hopefully the American public will file that one away for the next election cycle.

UPDATE: Cross posted at reddit/r/guns.

UPDATE #2: Thanks to Dave Hardy for the attention.

UPDATE #3: Thanks to Say Uncle for the attention.


26th MEU (10)
Abu Muqawama (12)
ACOG (2)
ACOGs (1)
Afghan National Army (36)
Afghan National Police (17)
Afghanistan (675)
Afghanistan SOFA (4)
Agriculture in COIN (3)
AGW (1)
Air Force (28)
Air Power (9)
al Qaeda (83)
Ali al-Sistani (1)
America (6)
Ammunition (14)
Animals in War (4)
Ansar al Sunna (15)
Anthropology (3)
AR-15s (36)
Arghandab River Valley (1)
Arlington Cemetery (2)
Army (34)
Assassinations (2)
Assault Weapon Ban (26)
Australian Army (5)
Azerbaijan (4)
Backpacking (2)
Badr Organization (8)
Baitullah Mehsud (21)
Basra (17)
BATFE (44)
Battle of Bari Alai (2)
Battle of Wanat (15)
Battle Space Weight (3)
Bin Laden (7)
Blogroll (2)
Blogs (4)
Body Armor (16)
Books (2)
Border War (6)
Brady Campaign (1)
Britain (25)
British Army (35)
Camping (4)
Canada (1)
Castle Doctrine (1)
Caucasus (6)
CENTCOM (7)
Center For a New American Security (8)
Charity (3)
China (10)
Christmas (5)
CIA (12)
Civilian National Security Force (3)
Col. Gian Gentile (9)
Combat Outposts (3)
Combat Video (2)
Concerned Citizens (6)
Constabulary Actions (3)
Coolness Factor (2)
COP Keating (4)
Corruption in COIN (4)
Council on Foreign Relations (1)
Counterinsurgency (214)
DADT (2)
David Rohde (1)
Defense Contractors (2)
Department of Defense (114)
Department of Homeland Security (9)
Disaster Preparedness (2)
Distributed Operations (5)
Dogs (5)
Drone Campaign (3)
EFV (3)
Egypt (12)
Embassy Security (1)
Enemy Spotters (1)
Expeditionary Warfare (17)
F-22 (2)
F-35 (1)
Fallujah (17)
Far East (3)
Fathers and Sons (1)
Favorite (1)
Fazlullah (3)
FBI (1)
Featured (160)
Federal Firearms Laws (15)
Financing the Taliban (2)
Firearms (251)
Football (1)
Force Projection (35)
Force Protection (4)
Force Transformation (1)
Foreign Policy (27)
Fukushima Reactor Accident (6)
Ganjgal (1)
Garmsir (1)
general (14)
General Amos (1)
General James Mattis (1)
General McChrystal (38)
General McKiernan (6)
General Rodriguez (3)
General Suleimani (7)
Georgia (19)
GITMO (2)
Google (1)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (1)
Gun Control (196)
Guns (555)
Guns In National Parks (2)
Haditha Roundup (10)
Haiti (2)
HAMAS (7)
Haqqani Network (9)
Hate Mail (7)
Hekmatyar (1)
Heroism (4)
Hezbollah (12)
High Capacity Magazines (11)
High Value Targets (9)
Homecoming (1)
Homeland Security (1)
Horses (1)
Humor (13)
ICOS (1)
IEDs (7)
Immigration (33)
India (10)
Infantry (3)
Information Warfare (2)
Infrastructure (2)
Intelligence (22)
Intelligence Bulletin (6)
Iran (169)
Iraq (378)
Iraq SOFA (23)
Islamic Facism (33)
Islamists (37)
Israel (17)
Jaish al Mahdi (21)
Jalalabad (1)
Japan (2)
Jihadists (71)
John Nagl (5)
Joint Intelligence Centers (1)
JRTN (1)
Kabul (1)
Kajaki Dam (1)
Kamdesh (8)
Kandahar (12)
Karachi (7)
Kashmir (2)
Khost Province (1)
Khyber (11)
Knife Blogging (2)
Korea (4)
Korengal Valley (3)
Kunar Province (20)
Kurdistan (3)
Language in COIN (5)
Language in Statecraft (1)
Language Interpreters (2)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (2)
Law Enforcement (2)
Lawfare (6)
Leadership (5)
Lebanon (6)
Leon Panetta (1)
Let Them Fight (2)
Libya (11)
Lines of Effort (3)
Littoral Combat (7)
Logistics (47)
Long Guns (1)
Lt. Col. Allen West (2)
Marine Corps (229)
Marines in Bakwa (1)
Marines in Helmand (67)
Marjah (4)
MEDEVAC (2)
Media (22)
Memorial Day (2)
Mexican Cartels (20)
Mexico (24)
Michael Yon (5)
Micromanaging the Military (7)
Middle East (1)
Military Blogging (26)
Military Contractors (3)
Military Equipment (24)
Militia (3)
Mitt Romney (3)
Monetary Policy (1)
Moqtada al Sadr (2)
Mosul (4)
Mountains (10)
MRAPs (1)
Mullah Baradar (1)
Mullah Fazlullah (1)
Mullah Omar (3)
Musa Qala (4)
Music (16)
Muslim Brotherhood (6)
Nation Building (2)
National Internet IDs (1)
National Rifle Association (13)
NATO (15)
Navy (19)
Navy Corpsman (1)
NCOs (3)
News (1)
NGOs (2)
Nicholas Schmidle (2)
Now Zad (19)
NSA (1)
NSA James L. Jones (6)
Nuclear (53)
Nuristan (8)
Obama Administration (205)
Offshore Balancing (1)
Operation Alljah (7)
Operation Khanjar (14)
Ossetia (7)
Pakistan (165)
Paktya Province (1)
Palestine (5)
Patriotism (6)
Patrolling (1)
Pech River Valley (11)
Personal (17)
Petraeus (14)
Pictures (1)
Piracy (13)
Police (108)
Police in COIN (3)
Policy (15)
Politics (135)
Poppy (2)
PPEs (1)
Prisons in Counterinsurgency (12)
Project Gunrunner (20)
PRTs (1)
Qatar (1)
Quadrennial Defense Review (2)
Quds Force (13)
Quetta Shura (1)
RAND (3)
Recommended Reading (14)
Refueling Tanker (1)
Religion (73)
Religion and Insurgency (19)
Reuters (1)
Rick Perry (4)
Roads (4)
Rolling Stone (1)
Ron Paul (1)
ROTC (1)
Rules of Engagement (74)
Rumsfeld (1)
Russia (27)
Sabbatical (1)
Sangin (1)
Saqlawiyah (1)
Satellite Patrols (2)
Saudi Arabia (4)
Scenes from Iraq (1)
Second Amendment (139)
Second Amendment Quick Hits (2)
Secretary Gates (9)
Sharia Law (3)
Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahiden (1)
SIIC (2)
Sirajuddin Haqqani (1)
Small Wars (72)
Snipers (9)
Sniveling Lackeys (2)
Soft Power (4)
Somalia (8)
Sons of Afghanistan (1)
Sons of Iraq (2)
Special Forces (22)
Squad Rushes (1)
State Department (17)
Statistics (1)
Sunni Insurgency (10)
Support to Infantry Ratio (1)
Survival (9)
SWAT Raids (48)
Syria (38)
Tactical Drills (1)
Tactical Gear (1)
Taliban (167)
Taliban Massing of Forces (4)
Tarmiyah (1)
TBI (1)
Technology (16)
Tehrik-i-Taliban (78)
Terrain in Combat (1)
Terrorism (86)
Thanksgiving (4)
The Anbar Narrative (23)
The Art of War (5)
The Fallen (1)
The Long War (20)
The Surge (3)
The Wounded (13)
Thomas Barnett (1)
Transnational Insurgencies (5)
Tribes (5)
TSA (10)
TSA Ineptitude (10)
TTPs (1)
U.S. Border Patrol (4)
U.S. Border Security (11)
U.S. Sovereignty (13)
UAVs (2)
UBL (4)
Ukraine (2)
Uncategorized (38)
Universal Background Check (2)
Unrestricted Warfare (4)
USS Iwo Jima (2)
USS San Antonio (1)
Uzbekistan (1)
V-22 Osprey (4)
Veterans (2)
Vietnam (1)
War & Warfare (210)
War & Warfare (40)
War Movies (2)
War Reporting (18)
Wardak Province (1)
Warriors (5)
Waziristan (1)
Weapons and Tactics (57)
West Point (1)
Winter Operations (1)
Women in Combat (11)
WTF? (1)
Yemen (1)

about · archives · contact · register

Copyright © 2006-2014 Captain's Journal. All rights reserved.