Saturday, June 19, 2004

Over the past five months or so there has been considerable debate around town about what should be done with NZ's anti-nuclear legislation.

The debate started off when the newly erected leader of NZ's equivalent of a "conservative", right of centre, only ranked at 32% of the total electorate, "natural opposition", National Party (Brash Donny) met with very important people from the US including R. Zoellick.

It was reported (rather unusually by Auntie Helen herself ) that among the matters considered at that meeting was the impact of our anti-nuclear legislation on security and potential free trade arrangements between our two nations. It was recorded (and reported verbatim) by Ministry of Foreign Affairs "minders" that Donny's reply was "When the National Party is elected I will make sure that legislation is gone by lunchtime." (did I say"erected" before?)

Hang on, hang on, hang on. This is just the warm-up.

Donny must have done something right, because he has just today returned from a reciprocal trip to the shores of the US, and to Washington where he met with very important people, including Mr Zoellick. As we are naturally curious people, our news media made sure that he was properly interviewed upon his return, and that the reasons for his trip were proper and justified.

Donny has been explaining, very patiently and carefully, that it was made clear to him in the US that the prospect of a free trade agreement would have to be passed through Congress; and that the anti-nuclear legislation was not directly referred to by the very important people that he had met. In fact, it was almost as if he was trying to give the impression that the US was somewhat surprised and chastened by NZ's treatment of the British at Carisbrook last Saturday night. It now seems that removal of NZ's anti-nuclear legislation "might help" in the negiotiation of a free trade agreement.

It is now National party Policy that the anti-nuclear legislation will not be changed or removed by a National government "before lunchtime" (should that their erection ever come to pass) until there had been a "full and proper education process" and a referendum. (In case you miss it, that is the first part of the joke, the punchline is coming...).

But even if the legislation were removed, and an invitation sent for the US navy to visit in force, that invitation would be for surface vessels only.

(In case you miss it, here comes the punchline).

The only nuclear powered surface vessels, of any consequence, remaining in the US navy are the Nimitz class aircraft carriers.

There is no port in NZ that you could get one of those carriers into. The closest you could get with safety - fifteen miles out past Rangitoto for Auckland, hove-to in the middle of Cook Strait for Wellington. Our harbours are too shallow, too small to accomodate them.


Monday, June 07, 2004

Gannet at Muriwai Posted by Hello

There is one thing that I is a Luddite.

I do not own a digital camera.

I will probably never own a digital camera.

This is what I like doing on film...

Friday, June 04, 2004

The probligo with Curtiss XF6-C6 (The Page monoplane). Yeah colour is wrong, it is unfinished, but it flew. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The Left and Right View of the same news...

Hmm, how did I miss this one…

U.K. Guardian

US intelligence fears Iran duped hawks into Iraq war

· Inquiry into Tehran's role in starting conflict
· Top Pentagon ally Chalabi accused

Julian Borger in Washington
Tuesday May 25, 2004
The Guardian

An urgent investigation has been launched in Washington into whether Iran played a role in manipulating the US into the Iraq war by passing on bogus intelligence through Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, it emerged yesterday.
Some intelligence officials now believe that Iran used the hawks in the Pentagon and the White House to get rid of a hostile neighbour, and pave the way for a Shia-ruled Iraq.

According to a US intelligence official, the CIA has hard evidence that Mr Chalabi and his intelligence chief, Aras Karim Habib, passed US secrets to Tehran, and that Mr Habib has been a paid Iranian agent for several years, involved in passing intelligence in both directions.
The CIA has asked the FBI to investigate Mr Chalabi's contacts in the Pentagon to discover how the INC acquired sensitive information that ended up in Iranian hands.
The implications are far-reaching. Mr Chalabi and Mr Habib were the channels for much of the intelligence on Iraqi weapons on which Washington built its case for war.
"It's pretty clear that Iranians had us for breakfast, lunch and dinner," said an intelligence source in Washington yesterday. "Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the US for several years through Chalabi."
Larry Johnson, a former senior counter-terrorist official at the state department, said: "When the story ultimately comes out we'll see that Iran has run one of the most masterful intelligence operations in history. They persuaded the US and Britain to dispose of its greatest enemy."

Mr Chalabi has vehemently rejected the allegations as "a lie, a fib and silly". He accused the CIA director, George Tenet, of a smear campaign against himself and Mr Habib.
However, it is clear that the CIA - at loggerheads with Mr Chalabi for more than eight years - believes it has caught him red-handed, and is sticking to its allegations.
"The suggestion that Chalabi is a victim of a smear campaign is outrageous," a US intelligence official said. "It's utter nonsense. He passed very sensitive and classified information to the Iranians. We have rock solid information that he did that."
"As for Aras Karim [Habib] being a paid agent for Iranian intelligence, we have very good reason to believe that is the case," added the intelligence official, who did not want to be named. He said it was unclear how long this INC-Iranian collaboration had been going on, but pointed out that Mr Chalabi had had overt links with Tehran "for a long period of time".
An intelligence source in Washington said the CIA confirmed its long-held suspicions when it discovered that a piece of information from an electronic communications intercept by the National Security Agency had ended up in Iranian hands. The information was so sensitive that its circulation had been restricted to a handful of officials.
"This was 'sensitive compartmented information' - SCI - and it was tracked right back to the Iranians through Aras Habib," the intelligence source said.
Mr Habib, a Shia Kurd who is being sought by Iraqi police since a raid on INC headquarters last week, has been Mr Chalabi's righthand man for more than a decade. He ran a Pentagon-funded intelligence collection programme in the run-up to the invasion and put US officials in touch with Iraqi defectors who made claims about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
Those claims helped make the case for war but have since proved groundless, and US intelligence agencies are now scrambling to determine whether false information was passed to the US with Iranian connivance.
INC representatives in Washington did not return calls seeking comment.
But Laurie Mylroie, a US Iraq analyst and one of the INC's most vocal backers in Washington, dismissed the allegations as the product of a grudge among CIA and state department officials driven by a pro-Sunni, anti-Shia bias.
She said that after the CIA raised questions about Mr Habib's Iranian links, the Pentagon's Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) conducted a lie-detector test on him in 2002, which he passed with "flying colours".
The DIA is also reported to have launched its own inquiry into the INC-Iran link.
An intelligence source in Washington said the FBI investigation into the affair would begin with Mr Chalabi's "handlers" in the Pentagon, who include William Luti, the former head of the office of special plans, and his immediate superior, Douglas Feith, the under secretary of defence for policy.
There is no evidence that they were the source of the leaks. Other INC supporters at the Pentagon may have given away classified information in an attempt to give Mr Chalabi an advantage in the struggle for power surrounding the transfer of sovereignty to an Iraqi government on June 30.
The CIA allegations bring to a head a dispute between the CIA and the Pentagon officials instrumental in promoting Mr Chalabi and his intelligence in the run-up to the war. By calling for an FBI counter-intelligence investigation, the CIA is, in effect, threatening to disgrace senior neo-conservatives in the Pentagon.
"This is people who opposed the war with long knives drawn for people who supported the war," Ms Mylroie said.

Given that this kind of story sorta floats in the headwaters for some while before washing to us lower peoples, is the raid on Chalabi any great surprise?
So, I thought I would take a sniff at the right wing view of the same story…

WASHINGTON — Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi , once a favored Iraqi exile of the American government, denied accusations Sunday that he passed secrets to Iran -- and challenged CIA director George Tenet to a verbal duel before Congress.
"These charges are being put out by George Tenet. Let him come to Congress. I will come to Congress, and I will lay everything on the table. Let Congress decide," Chalabi said on "Fox News Sunday."
Chalabi claimed that the CIA has been trying to discredit him and that Tenet was behind the accusations of spying for Iran.
Calling the charges absurd, a U.S. intelligence official told Reuters that Chalabi's willingness to testify under oath before Congress "would be viewed as a positive development."
Chalabi admitted to Fox News that his Iraqi National Congress group had met with agents of the Iranian government. He said he met with Iranian representatives some time about one-and-a-half months ago -- adding that all members of the Iraqi Governing Council regularly meet with officials from the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad.

"Indeed we have had many meetings with the Iranian government, but we have passed no secret information, no classified documents to them from the United States," Chalabi said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Last week, Defense officials announced that the Pentagon had stopped monthly payments of about $340,000 to the Iraqi National Congress.
Time magazine reported that the FBI was probing whether U.S. officials illegally transmitted secrets to the INC.
"... we have not had any classified information given to us by the United States," Chalabi said on NBC.
Chalabi also claimed on the Sunday talk shows that the U.S. government had turned against him because he had been vocally opposing many facets of the Coalition Provisional Authority's occupation of Iraq -- after having supported the U.S.-led invasion.
"I have become a person who is calling for complete sovereignty in Iraq," he told ABC.
Also on ABC, Chalabi deflected charges that he misled the U.S. on intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction before the war with defectors who made overly strong cases. He claimed the INC introduced three defectors to different agencies of the U.S. government.
"It was up to them to analyze this [information], and the responsibility for reporting to the president after analyzing the information is not mine," Chalabi said on ABC.

Iran Admits Close Chalabi Ties, Denies Spy Charges

Iran acknowledged Sunday it had a strong dialogue with Chalabi, but rejected accusations that he passed classified intelligence to Iran. Chalabi's long-standing contacts with Iran have left some in the U.S. government suspicious about his intentions.
His home and offices were raided by Iraqi police backed by American soldiers on Thursday, and Chalabi is now embroiled in a public battle with the U.S.-run occupation authority. He has become a harsh critic of Washington's Iraq policies.
"We had continuous and permanent dialogue with Chalabi and other members of the Iraqi Governing Council," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said at a press conference. "But spying charges are unfounded and baseless. It's not true at all."
"We didn't receive any confidential information from Chalabi or any other member of the Iraqi Governing Council," Asefi said.
American allegations against Chalabi, he said, were an attempt to shift attention from the scandal surrounding the abuse of Iraqi prisoners and Washington's increasing problems in Iraq.
"To overshadow its increasing problems in Iraq and get rid of pressures resulting from the prisoner abuse scandal ... the U.S. is making false accusations," Asefi said.
"In the past months, Americans have said many lies and failed to come up with evidence for their allegations," he said, apparently referring to U.S. accusations that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction, a charge Washington failed to prove.

Chalabi once was being groomed by the United States as a possible successor to Saddam. However, the U.S. State Department did not share the Pentagon's enthusiasm for him, and Chalabi became a liability after no significant weapons of mass destruction were found in post-war Iraq.
Such weapons were cited by the United States and Britain as the primary justification for the Iraq war, and Chalabi's network of Iraqi exiles in the Iraqi National Congress had provided the Bush administration intelligence reports of their existence.
On Saturday, a senior Iraqi official alleged that Chalabi's security chief, Araz Habib, was wanted by Iraqi and coalition authorities for alleged links to Iran's intelligence service.
Habib, a Shiite Kurd, was being sought under an arrest warrant because "he has relations with the Iranian government" and "works for the Iranian intelligence," the official said in Baghdad on condition of anonymity. Chalabi has defended his aide.

Well, there it is…somewhere in there is the truth.

The differences between Guardian and Fox are perhaps slight, but very subtle. In both cases there are key elements of the story attributed to anonymous but key figures. In both cases there are direct quotes from named sources.

Perhaps the biggest difference though is the amount of space that Fox gives to Chalabi himself, and the Iranian government. I can hear the right arguing the truth comes from those involved. I can hear that and my head says “vested interest” for both parties. Chalabi, because of what he has already lost, how much more he can lose, and what he thinks he can gain. The Iran government because they have been caught with honey on their paw.

Nah, there is too much smoke here, and most of it is coming from Fox. There is nothing one can call “mistruth”, there is much which is interpretive.

Most significant difference in my view?

The Guardian starts by stating that the Iranian government passed false intelligence through Chalabi and INC to Washington…

In the Fox article, the Iranian government denies that Chalabi passed intelligence to them.

Nice, subtle, and revealing…