Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Intelligence(?) Budget Revealed!

November 8, 2005
Official Reveals Budget for U.S. Intelligence

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 - In an apparent slip, a top American intelligence official has revealed at a public conference what has long been secret: the amount of money the United States spends on its spy agencies.

At an intelligence conference in San Antonio last week, Mary Margaret Graham, a 27-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency and now the deputy director of national intelligence for collection, said the annual intelligence budget was $44 billion.

The number was reported Monday in U.S. News and World Report, whose national security reporter, Kevin Whitelaw, was among the hundreds of people in attendance during Ms. Graham's talk.

"I thought, 'I can't believe she said that,' " Mr. Whitelaw said on Monday. "The government has spent so much time and energy arguing that it needs to remain classified."

The figure itself comes as no great shock; most news reports in the last couple of years have estimated the budget at $40 billion. But the fact that Ms. Graham would say it in public is a surprise, because the government has repeatedly gone to court to keep the current intelligence budget and even past budgets as far back as the 1940's from being disclosed.

Carl Kropf, a spokesman for the office of the director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte, said Ms. Graham would not comment. Mr. Kropf declined to say whether the figure, which Ms. Graham gave last Monday at an annual conference on intelligence gathered from satellite and other photographs, was accurate, or whether her revelation was accidental.

Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, expressed amused satisfaction that the budget figure had slipped out.

"It is ironic," Mr. Aftergood said. "We sued the C.I.A. four times for this kind of information and lost. You can't get it through legal channels."

Only for a few past years has the budget been disclosed. After Mr. Aftergood's group first sued for the budget figure under the Freedom of Information Act in 1997, George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, decided to make public that year's budget, $26.6 billion. The next year Mr. Tenet did the same, revealing that the 1998 fiscal year budget was $26.7 billion.

But in 1999, Mr. Tenet reversed that policy, and budgets since then have remained classified with the support of the courts. Last year, a federal judge refused to order the C.I.A. to release its budget totals for 1947 to 1970 - except for the 1963 budget, which Mr. Aftergood showed had already been revealed elsewhere.

In court and in response to inquiries, intelligence officials have argued that disclosing the total spying budget would create pressure to reveal more spending details, and that such revelations could aid the nation's adversaries.

That argument has been rejected by many members of Congress and outside experts, who note that most of the Defense Department budget is published in exhaustive detail without evident harm.

The national commission on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, recommended that both the overall intelligence budget and spending by individual agencies be made public "in order to combat the secrecy and complexity" it found was harming national security.

"The taxpayers deserve to know what they're spending for intelligence," said Lee H. Hamilton, the former congressman who was vice chairman of the commission.

Even more important, Mr. Hamilton said, public discussion of the total budgets of intelligence agencies would encourage Congress to exercise "robust oversight."

The debate over whether the intelligence budget should be secret dates to at least the 1970's, said Loch K. Johnson, an intelligence historian who worked for the Church Committee investigation of the intelligence agencies by the Senate in the mid-1970's. Mr. Johnson said the real reason for secrecy might have less to do with protecting intelligence sources and methods than with protecting the bureaucracy.

"Maybe there's a fear that if the American people knew what was being spent on intelligence, they'd be even more upset at intelligence failures," Mr. Johnson said.

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

New "Napalm" Use in Iraq?

U.S. denies using white phosphorus on Iraqi civilians
Reuters Tuesday November 8, 08:32 PM

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U.S. denies using white phosphorus on Iraqi civilians
Click to enlarge photo
ROME (Reuters) - The U.S. military in Iraq denied a report shown on Italian state television on Tuesday saying U.S. forces used incendiary white phosphorus against civilians in a November 2004 offensive on the Iraqi town of Falluja.

It confirmed, however, that U.S. forces had dropped MK 77 firebombs -- which a documentary on Italian state-run broadcaster RAI compared to napalm -- against military
targets in Iraq in March and April 2003.

The documentary showed images of bodies recovered after a November 2004 offensive by U.S. troops on the town of Falluja, which it said proved the use of white phosphorus against men, women and children who were burnt to the bone.

"I do know that white phosphorus was used," said Jeff Englehart in the RAI documentary, which identified him as a former soldier in the U.S. 1st Infantry Division in Iraq.

"Burnt bodies. Burnt children and burnt women," said Englehart, who RAI said had taken part in the Falluja offensive. "White phosphorus kills indiscriminately."

The U.S. Marines in Baghdad described white phosphorus as a "conventional munition" used primarily for smoke screens and target marking. It denied using it against civilians.

"Suggestions that U.S. forces targeted civilians with these weapons are simply wrong," U.S. Marine Major Tim Keefe said in an e-mail to Reuters. "Had the producers of the documentary bothered to ask us for comment, we would have certainly told them that the premise of the programme was erroneous."

He said U.S. forces do not use any chemical weapons in Iraq.

A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said earlier on Tuesday he did not recall white phosphorus being used in Falluja.

An incendiary device, white phosphorus is also used to light up combat areas. The use of incendiary weapons against civilians has been banned by the Geneva Convention since 1980.

The United States did not sign the relevant protocol to the convention, a U.N. official in New York said.

The Falluja offensive aimed to crush followers of al Qaeda's Iraq leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said to have linked up with local insurgents in the Sunni Arab city west of Baghdad.

Some Western newspapers reported at the time that white phosphorus had been used during the offensive.

In the documentary called "Falluja: The Hidden Massacre", RAI also said U.S. forces used the Mark 77 firebomb.

It cited a letter it said came from British Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram, saying 30 MK 77 weapons were used on military targets in Iraq between March 31 and April 2, 2003.

"The only instance of MK 77 use during (Operation Iraqi Freedom) occurred in March/April 2003 when U.S. Marines employed several bombs against legitimate military targets," Keefe said.

He said the chemical composition of the MK 77 firebomb is different from that of napalm.

RAI posted a copy of the document at: http://www.rainews24.rai.it/ran24/inchiesta/foto/documento_ministero.jpg.

Italy has nearly 3,000 troops in Iraq despite strong opposition to their presence there.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is trailing in opinion polls ahead of April elections, and his centre-left rivals have vowed to eventually pull troops out of Iraq.

RAI posted the full report, including television images, at http://www.rainews24.rai.it/ran24/inchiesta/

(Additional reporting by Alistair Lyon in London and Claudia Parsons in Baghdad

Pardon Libby? Please, Don't, Mr. Bush

The letter follows.

November 8, 2005

The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The indictment of I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney№s Chief of Staff, marks the first time in 131 years that a senior White House official has been charged with a crime while still serving in the White House. The charges, while not yet proven, are extraordinarily serious and deeply disturbing.

Although it is too early to judge Mr. Libby guilty or innocent of these particular charges, it is not too early for you to reassure the American people that you understand the enormous gravity of the allegations. To this end, we urge you to pledge that if Mr. Libby or anyone else is found guilty vof a crime in connection with Patrick Fitzgerald№s investigation, you will not exercise your authority to issue a Presidential pardon.

It is crucial that you make clear in advance that, if convicted, Mr. Libby will not be able to rely on his close relationship with you or Vice President Cheney to obtain the kind of extraordinarily special treatment unavailable to ordinary Americans. In addition you should do nothing to undermine Mr. Fitzgerald№s investigation or diminish accountability in your White House. A pardon in these circumstances would signal that this White House considers itself above the law.

We also urge you to state publicly whether anyone in the White House B including White House counsel Harriet Miers or Vice President Cheney B has already discussed the possibility of a pardon with Mr. Libby. Particularly given that the American people are still in the dark about what precisely transpired in the White House with respect to the CIA leak, it would be highly inappropriate if there were such discussions going on behind the scenes.

Swift public action on your part will make clear that you take seriously perjury and obstruction of justice at the highest levels of our government and that you meant what you said about bringing Ahonor and dignity@ to the White House. We eagerly await your response and hope that you will announce your intentions promptly.

Syria in Our Sights

War Plan

Last year, U.S. intelligence agencies and military planners received instructions to prepare up-to-date target lists for Syria and to increase their preparations for potential military operations against Damascus.

According to internal intelligence documents and discussions with military officers involved in the planning, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in Tampa was directed by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to prepare a "strategic concept" for Syria, the first step in creation of a full fledged war plan.

The planning process, according to the internal documents, includes courses of action for cross border operations to seal the Syrian-Iraqi border and destroy safe havens supporting the Iraqi insurgency, attacks on Syrian weapons of mass destruction infrastructure supporting the development of biological and chemical weapons, and attacks on the regime of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

William M. Arkin
Wag the Damascus?
November 7, 2005


Article 6 of the Charter of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal established the legal basis for trying individuals accused of the following acts: Crimes against peace: the planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing. (emphasis added)

International Committee of the Red Cross
The evolution of individual criminal
responsibility under international law
September 1999

And so by means of careful preparation in the diplomatic field, among others, the Nazi conspirators had woven a position for themselves, so that they could seriously consider plans for war and begin to outline time tables, not binding time tables and not specific ones in terms of months and days, but still general time tables, in terms of years, which were the necessary foundation for further aggressive planning, and a spur to more specific planning. And that time table was developed, as the Tribunal has already seen, in the conference of 5 November 1937, contained in our Document Number 386-PS, Exhibit USA-25, the Hossbach minutes of that conference, which I adverted to in detail on Monday last. In those minutes, we see the crystallization of the plan to wage aggressive war in Europe, and to seize both Austria and Czechoslovakia, and in that order.

U.S. Prosecutor Sidney Alderman
Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. II
November 29, 1945

The French and the Russians had at first objected to the whole concept of crimes against the peace . . . But those Allies gave ground when [U.S. Chief Prosecutor Robert] Jackson made it clear that the criminalizing of, and the imposition of individual punishment for, aggressive wars, now and in the future, were so important to the U.S. that if the Charter failed to do so, the U.S. was prepared to abandon a joint trial.

Bernard D. Meltzer
The Nuremberg Trial: A Prosecutor’s Perspective
December 2002

The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:

Crimes against peace: (i.) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (ii.) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

International Law Commission of the U.N.
Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal

Certain binding legal principles, affirmed unanimously by the UN, emerged from the Nuremberg trials . . . It was made absolutely clear that law must apply equally to everyone. Putting the captive enemies on trial was seen by America's Chief Prosecutor, Justice Robert Jackson, as "the greatest tribute that power has ever paid to reason." His successor General Telford Taylor, my chief and later law partner, was more succinct: "Law is not a one-way street."

Nuremberg Prosecutor Benjamin B. Ferencz
Remarks on the International Criminal Court
March 11, 2003

Posted by billmon at 05:01 PM


Ah, Trent Lott...Who'd A Thunk It?

Congress may probe leaks in CIA prisons story

WASHINGTON - Top U.S. Republican lawmakers are seeking a congressional investigation into leaks of information used by The Washington Post in an article on the CIA's secret global prison system, congressional aides said on Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert in a draft letter asked the intelligence committees to "immediately initiate a joint investigation into the possible release of classified information."

Mississippi Republican Sen. Trent Lott told reporters he thought information for the story may have come from a Republican Senate staffer.

"There's no question that there was a discussion to a Washington Post reporter by a staff person who apparently knew everything that went on there last Tuesday," Lott said, referring to a Senate Republican meeting last week.

"I just think we spend too much time around here chasing rabbits," Lott said. "You give 10 senators information it's going to get out, so what are you going to prove here?"

Democrats said instead of just investigating possible leaks related to that story, Republicans should be clearing the way for a broad investigation on detainee abuses and whether intelligence was manipulated before the Iraq war.

"If the speaker and the majority leader in the Senate are interested in this, they should join with us in getting to the bottom of what went on in bringing this country to war," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat.

The Washington Post reported last week that the CIA has been holding and interrogating al Qaeda captives at a secret facility in Eastern Europe, part of a global covert prison system established after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The Bush administration has not confirmed or denied the report.

"The leaking of classified information is a serious matter. It ought to be taken seriously," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "But this is a congressional prerogative and it was a decision that was made by those leaders and that's the way I would describe it."


In their draft letter, which aides said has not yet been sent, Frist of Tennessee and Hastert of Illinois said they wanted the intelligence committees to determine if the information given to the newspaper was classified and accurate, who leaked it and under what authority, and the actual and potential national security damage from it.

Asked whether the Republican leaders would seek an investigation of the secret prisons, Ron Bonjean, Hastert's spokesman, said, "First we're looking into why we have people leaking classified information."

Democrats and some Republicans have cited The Washington Post story as another reason Congress must set rules for the treatment of military detainees in the wake of the scandal over physical and sexual abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The Senate has passed an amendment barring torture of detainees and setting standards for their treatment and interrogations, despite the White House's threat to veto a $440 billion defense spending bill if it contained the measure.

The House has not yet voted on that measure.

President George W. Bush has been dogged by questions over the Pentagon's and the CIA's treatment of terrorism suspects. Responding to questions on Monday in Panama, Bush said, "We do not torture," and defended his administration's efforts to stop Congress from imposing rules on prisoner treatment.

Asked if she knew about secret CIA prisons in her previous post as national security adviser to the president, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did not answer the question.

Instead, without confirming or denying the existence of secret U.S. prisons, Rice said the United States fought militants around the world in what she called a "different kind of war" according with U.S. laws and its long-standing values.

The administration also has been hit by the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on five counts of obstructing justice, perjury and lying in the two-year probe into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity after her husband criticized the Iraq war.

(additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, Thomas Ferraro and Caren Bohan)

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