Dave Lindorff : More Questions About the Minot Nukes

The Pentagon has been stonewalling on my requests for answers to key questions. For two weeks, a public affairs office has been declining to respond to my question about whether the six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles flown by a B-52 from Minot AFB to Barksdale AFB were programmed for specific targets, and, if so, what those targets were or even whether the team that investigated the incident checked to see if they were targeted.

The Air Force and Pentagon have also declined to explain whether U.S. nuclear weapons in storage in U.S. bunkers have been provided with the same alarm and motion-detection sensors that the National Nuclear Security Agency helped to install on the nukes being stored on Russian bases.

Clearly if such devices are standard on U.S. nukes, as several Air Force active and retired personnel have assured me is the case, then there is no way those weapons could have been removed from the Minot bunker by “mistake” as claimed the Air Force’s official report on the incident.

The Pentagon has also refused to state whether the missiles were fueled up or not.

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Iran Proposes International Security Force to Take Over in Iraq

An Iranian proposal for troops from Iran, Syria and other Arab states to replace U.S. forces in Iraq was swiftly rejected and ridiculed yesterday at a high-level gathering of Iraq’s neighbors and world powers, the U.S. newspaper The Washington Times said in a report on Sunday.

“As top diplomats from two dozen countries and international organizations took turns to discuss how to improve Iraq’s security, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki suggested that a coalition from neighboring Arab states take over from U.S. forces, conference participants said.”

“The Iranian delegation distinguished itself again today with the most extraordinary proposal,” said David Satterfield, the State Department’s top coordinator on Iraq, who accompanied U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the Istanbul meeting.

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U.S. Army: Five million acres needed for training facilities by 2011

As the U.S. military budget balloons, so does the Armed Services’ need to train its soldiers. In fact, some military planners foresee a need for 5 million more acres for training facilities by 2011.

In September, Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) told his fellow Congressmen that “the Army believes it has a current deficit of 2 million acres needed for training, a figure expected to grow by 2011 to 5 million acres.” Five million acres is comprable to 7,812 square miles — an area about the size of New Jersey.

Now, Colorado is the site of a contested fight between the U.S. Army and longtime ranchers. The military wants to expand the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, a 1,000-square-mile facility near the New Mexico border, by 418,000 acres, thus tripling its size. This would require land owned by private ranchers.

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Cheney Pursuing Nuclear Ambitions of His Own

By Jason Leopold
    t r u t h o u t | Report    Monday 05 November 2007

    While Dick Cheney has been talking tough over the years about Iran’s alleged nuclear activities, the vice president has been quietly pursuing nuclear ambitions of his own.

    For more than two years, Cheney and a relatively unknown administration official, Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell, have been regularly visiting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to ensure agency officials rewrite regulatory policies and bypass public hearings in order to streamline the licensing process for energy companies that have filed applications to build new nuclear power reactors, as well as applications for new nuclear facilities that are expected to be filed by other companies in the months ahead, longtime NRC officials said.

    Before being sworn in as deputy energy secretary in March 2005, Sell, a lawyer whose roots extend to Bush’s home state of Texas, was a White House lobbyist working on energy issues. He had also participated in secret meetings with Cheney’s Energy Task Force.

    In April, Sell and Cheney had both met with NRC officials to sign off on the final regulatory policies related to new nuclear reactors. Following the meeting, Sell had alerted a group of energy companies they could begin to take advantage of the faster application process, NRC officials said.

    NRC officials said that Cheney has expressed a desire to see applications for nuclear reactor projects approved by the NRC when he and Bush leave the White House in January 2009.

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Blackwater’s Owner Has Spies for Hire: Ex-U.S. Operatives Dot Firm’s Roster

First it became a brand name in security for its work in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now it’s taking on intelligence.

The Prince Group, the holding company that owns Blackwater Worldwide, has been building an operation that will sniff out intelligence about natural disasters, business-friendly governments, overseas regulations and global political developments for clients in industry and government.

The operation, Total Intelligence Solutions, has assembled a roster of former spooks — high-ranking figures from agencies such as the CIA and defense intelligence — that mirrors the slate of former military officials who run Blackwater. Its chairman is Cofer Black, the former head of counterterrorism at CIA known for his leading role in many of the agency’s more controversial programs, including the rendition and interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects and the detention of some of them in secret prisons overseas.

Its chief executive is Robert Richer, a former CIA associate deputy director of operations who was heavily involved in running the agency’s role in the Iraq war.

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War pimp allert: Is Israel About to Attack Hizballah?

NICHOLAS BLANFORD/BEIRUT

Israeli soldiers, Rosh Hanikra border

Israeli soldiers secure the gate at the Rosh Hanikra border crossing between Israel and Lebanon October 15, 2007.
Gil Cohen Magen / Reuters

Is Israel laying the ground for pre-emptive air strikes against targets belonging to the militant Shi’ite group Hizballah in Lebanon?

Tensions have been building along the Lebanon-Israel border in recent days. The Israeli army was engaged last week in large-scale military exercises in northern Israel, close to the border with Lebanon, putting into practice the lessons learned from last year’s 34-day war against Hizballah. The exercises took place at the same time as Israeli jets conducted a growing number of mock air raids and overflights in Lebanese airspace. Israeli aircraft fly in Lebanese airspace on a near daily basis, but last week Lebanese army anti-aircraft units fired at the jets for the first time since the end of the war.