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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Intelligence agencies launch 'Intellipedia'

WASHINGTON -- The CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have created a new computer system that uses software from a popular Internet encyclopedia site to gather input on sensitive topics from analysts across the spy community, part of an effort to fix problems that plagued prewar estimates on Iraq.

The new system, dubbed "Intellipedia" because it is built on open-source software from the Wikipedia Web site, was launched earlier this year. It is already being used to assemble intelligence reports on Nigeria and other subjects, according to U.S. intelligence officials who on Tuesday discussed the initiative in detail for the first time.

After being criticized for downplaying dissenting views on Iraq's alleged weapons programs, "we're trying to transform the way we do business," said Michele Weslander, a senior official overseeing the initiative for the director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte.

The system allows analysts from all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies to weigh in on debates on North Korea's nuclear program and other sensitive topics, creating internal Web sites that are constantly updated with new information and analysis, officials said.

The system, which is not accessible to the public, is divided into three classification categories ranging from "sensitive but unclassified" to "top secret." Officials said that the program is still under development and has not replaced existing procedures used to create intelligence reports delivered to President Bush and other policymakers. But it is being used to assemble preliminary judgments for a forthcoming National Intelligence Estimate on Nigeria and could someday supplant the more cumbersome mechanisms used to create such reports.

"I think in the future you'll press a button and this will be the NIE," said Michael Wertheimer, assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analysis.

The system is based on the software used by millions of Internet users to create encyclopedia entries at www.wikipedia.org. But unlike that largely anonymous environment, the individuals who add material to pages on the intelligence system have to attach their names to their contributions.

More than 3,600 analysts and other intelligence officials have registered to use the service since it was launched in April, officials said.

In a meeting with reporters at the Office of the Director for National Intelligence, officials showed how analysts from multiple agencies had used the network to post frequent updates on recent events, including the crash of a small plane into a New York City apartment building last month and North Korea's test of a missile in July.

Officials said they were not making the network available to members of Congress or other policymakers, largely because of a reluctance to disseminate material that analysts view as a work in progress.

The officials acknowledged some concerns, including the possibility that making sensitive information available to a much larger group of intelligence officials could increase the risk that secrets might be leaked to the press. They said that partly for that reason, detailed information obtained from satellites or from human sources is being kept off the system.

But they stressed that disseminating material to the widest possible audience of analysts is key to avoiding mistakes like those that contributed to erroneous assessments that Iraq possessed stockpiles of banned weapons and was pursuing a nuclear arsenal.

One official said that dissenting views that were treated as footnotes in prewar estimates on Iraq will be much more prominent on the new system, and that doubts about sources are likely to surface earlier and be more difficult to ignore.

"It moves us away from homogenized intelligence," said Sean Dennehy, a CIA official involved in creating the new system.

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'Lucid' Pinochet charged with murder

AUGUSTO PINOCHET, the 90-year-old former dictator of Chile, was branded a “grave danger to society” as he was placed under house arrest in Santiago yesterday by the judge investigating his role in cases of torture and kidnapping during his time in power.

Judge Alejandro Solís charged the general with 35 kidnappings, one homicide and 24 cases of torture in the Villa Grimaldi case. Villa Grimaldi was a secret police prison that became one of Chile’s most infamous torture centres during the military’s “dirty war” against left-wing opponents.

This is the first prosecution for torture to proceed against the former general.

“General Pinochet has been notified of his prosecution for kidnapping, one homicide and torture, and has been detained as a grave danger to society considering the gravity of the crimes. But, owing to his age, he has been granted house arrest,” Señor Solís said. On Friday the judge dismissed efforts by General Pinochet’s legal team to have the case dropped on the ground of health.

Señor Solís said that he found the former ruler lucid for his age.

General Pinochet will turn 91 next month and his legal team claims that diabetes and a series of strokes have left him suffering from mild dementia. He seized power in a violent coup in 1973, when he overthrew the democratically elected communist leader, Salvador Allende.

The Government of General Pinochet oversaw the secret kidnapping and killing of left-wing opponents. Tens of thousands were tortured and 3,000 were killed or disappeared. Among the former inmates of the Villa Grimaldi are Michelle Bachelet, the Chilean President, and her mother. The general denies any knowledge of abuses at the centre.

The effort to bring the former military leader to trial has long been a cause célèbre for human rights campaigners. He was first arrested in 1998 while in London for medical treatment, after an extradition request from Spain. But Jack Straw, then the Home Secretary, ordered his release in 2000, saying that he was medically unfit to stand trial.

Efforts to bring him to justice have since switched to Chile, where he has lost a number of rulings, including being stripped of his parliamentary immunity in 2002. In September the Supreme Court threw out his legal team’s argument that he was medically unfit to stand trial in the Villa Grimaldi case.

As well as the gathering case against him for human rights abuses, General Pinochet faces prosecution for fraud and tax evasion. His wife and children have also been charged as part of the investigation into his finances, undermining support for him among Chileans, who believed that the abuses of his regime were a price worth paying to prevent the country turning into “another Cuba”.


1973 Salvador Allende is killed in army coup. Pinochet dictatorship begins

1989 Democracy is restored after Pinochet steps down

1998 Pinochet arrested in London

2000 Pinochet unfit to face trial and returns to Chile

2004 Pinochet charged with murder and kidnapping

Times Online

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US unveils counter-propaganda unit

THE US DEPARTMENT of Defense has announced the creation of a new unit dedicated to countering 'inaccurate stories' concerning the war on terrorism, with a focus on internet sites and blogs, BBC News reported.

The DoD and the White House are both concerned by the increasing use of the internet by jihadist groups to disseminate propaganda.

A Pentagon spokesman said the new news outlets would aim to "set the record straight". The spokesman said: "We are looking at being quicker to respond to inaccurate statements."
The unit will operate within the 24-hour news cycle, continually monitoring web logs and reacting rapidly to the publication of jihadist propaganda, possibly using 'surrogates', or top politicians and lobbyists, who could be interviewed on radio and television.

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South Ossetia police kill Georgian 'saboteurs'

POLICE in separatist South Ossetia claimed on 31 October to have killed four Georgian 'saboteurs', Reuters reported.

There were no further details at the time of writing.

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Open Source News

Open source news articles:

Taliban Tactics May Have Led to Civilian Deaths
Bomb Blast Kills 29 in Baghdad's Sadr City
Battle in Afghanistan Leaves 55 Insurgents, NATO Soldier Dead
US Official Says Further North Korea Nuclear Tests Probable
Pakistani forces bomb madrassa: spokesman
Pakistan: Air Strikes Target Pro-Taliban Madrasah Near Afghan Border
Pakistani Army Says Raid at Terrorist Training Facility Kills 80 Militants
Joint Forces Experiment Points to Way of the Future
Army Opens Modernization Test Center at White Sands Missile Range
Harpers Ferry Conducts Maritime Interdiction Training with Philippine Navy
NBG Incorporates Beach Operations Into Field Exercises
Harpers Ferry Sailors Provide Goodwill in the Southern Philippines
HSC-25’s Det 6 Capabilities a Plus for Fall Patrol
China Wants Southeast Asian Nations to Strengthen Defense Cooperation
Iraqi Army Captures Bomb Makers; New Security Station Opens in Ramadi
Crisis Talks Continue in Bangladesh
Iran Says Not Concerned By U.S. Gulf Maneuvers
U.S. Forces Reportedly Kill 17 Insurgents In Iraq
Iran says 2nd centrifuge cascade launch complies with NPT treaty
Iran says no reason to suspend uranium enrichment
70 Insurgents Said Killed In Afghan Battle
NATO Troops Kill 70 Insurgents in Afghanistan
Taliban say `no' to peace talks with Karzai
Tribal jirga calls Osama and Mulla Omar "heroes"
Egypt Moves 5,000 Police to Gaza Border as Israel Protests Arms Smuggling
Sudan Denies Carrying Out Air Attacks in Chad
Rains, Violence Disrupt DRC Polls
Boeing to Begin Ground Testing of X-48B Blended Wing Body Concept
US Military Says 24 Iraqi Police, 18 Insurgents Killed in Fierce Clashes in...
Northrop Grumman Posts Major Airborne Laser Program Achievements

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North Korea Still Selling Missiles, Report Finds

North Korea is believed to have delivered roughly 40 ballistic missiles to other nations over a four-year period that ended in 2005, the New York Times reported yesterday (see GSN, June 23, 2004).

The U.S. Congressional Research Service included the figure in a report released Friday on the international weapons market. The report does not identify the missile-dealing nation by name, but Bush administration officials confirmed that it is North Korea.

International agreements outlaw the transfer of ballistic missiles to other nations. North Korea is the only country to conduct such sales from 2001 to 2005, according to the report (Thom Shanker, New York Times, Oct. 29).

The number of sales for that period is the same as that reported for 2001 to 2004, indicating that there were no North Korean missile transfers last year, the Yonhap News Agency reported today. A report covering the years 2000 to 2003 documented 20 deliveries of surface-to-surface missiles to the Near East, suggesting continued sales from 2003 to 2004 (see GSN, Dec. 16, 2002; Yonhap News Agency, Oct. 30).

Russia was the leading weapons dealer last year to the developing world, with $7 billion in sales, the Times reported. That included $700 million worth of surface-to-air missiles sold to Iran, which could increase the danger to U.S. military pilots if air strikes are ordered on Tehran’s nuclear complex, which Washington believes is developing atomic weapons (Shanker, New York Times).

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Espionage Fears “Ludicrous” in Los Alamos Data Scandal, Busted Drug Dealer Says

A 20-year-old drug dealer said he has no knowledge of the information stored on computer memory devices from a nuclear weapons laboratory that were discovered when he was recently arrested in New Mexico, the Associated Press reported Saturday (see GSN, Oct. 26).

Authorities seized three USB flash drives during a search of the mobile home where Justin Stone was arrested Oct. 20 on drug and parole violation charges. At least some of the drives contained classified information from the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory, facility Director Michael Anastasio confirmed Thursday.

“I don’t know who to sell that kind of information to,” Stone, who remains jailed, told AP. “I don’t know who would be interested in that kind of stuff.”

The mobile home belongs to 22-year-old Jessica Quintana, a former employee of a laboratory contractor. So far, she has faced no charges as the investigation continues, AP reported.

“I’m pretty sure she had nothing to do with this,” said Stone, who rented a room in the home.

One of the three flash drives was his, Stone said, adding that he received it as part of a $20 drug deal within the past few weeks. The man who gave the drive to Stone had “no relationship to the lab whatsoever,” Stone said. He said that he had not checked what was on the drive before the raid.

Stone said he knew nothing about the other two drives, although he said Quintana used to have a flash drive on her key chain.

Stone, an admitted methamphetamine addict and drug dealer, said the people in Quintana’s trailer were “just worried about their next fix.”

“For somebody that is addicted to meth to even think about stealing lab secrets and selling them is just totally ludicrous,” he said. “You won’t find any addicted methamphetamine user out there that could spell plutonium.”

“People are making this out to be a big Wen Ho Lee conspiracy, when it’s really not,” Stone said, referring to the former Los Alamos scientist who was the focus of a major espionage investigation in the late 1990s before all major charges against him were dropped (see GSN, Jan. 4, 2002).

“I was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Stone said (Deborah Baker, Associated Press, Oct. 28).

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Middle East politics: Damascus cuisine


A lengthy meeting in Damascus on October 29th between the Iranian foreign minister, Manoushehr Mottaki, and the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad may herald the conclusion of a deal involving the release of some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the freeing of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli corporal kidnapped near the border of the Gaza Strip four months ago. According to Palestinian accounts of the meeting, Iran is concerned to put a stop to the internecine fighting in Gaza and the West Bank, and has thus decided to give its blessing to the prisoner swap and to efforts to form a Palestinian government of national unity. The involvement of both Syria and Iran in the process is designed to reinforce the message that these two states hold the political initiative in Middle East affairs.

Iranian menu

The arrival of Mr Mottaki in Damascus came after Khaled Meshaal, the head of the Hamas political bureau, had put off plans to travel to Cairo to discuss the Shalit issue with General Omar Suleiman, the chief of Egyptian military intelligence, who has been mediating between the Palestinians and Israel in this matter. Hamas cited security issues as the reason for the delay, but a more likely explanation is that Iran wished to be seen to be consulted on the next steps to be taken by the Palestinian movement.

Hamas denies responsibility for the Shalit abduction, but it is clear that Mr Meshaal's approval is essential for the Israeli corporal's release to go ahead. Egyptian officials have indicated that they expect Mr Meshaal (or one of his senior associates) to come to Cairo in due course to discuss the final arrangements for a prisoner exchange. The deal is thought to entail 500 Palestinian prisoners being set free when Corporal Shalit is handed over to Egyptian security forces and a further 500 to be released once he is safely back in Israel.

The abduction of the Israeli soldier had the effect of disrupting efforts by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to reach an agreement with the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, on a political programme that, so the Palestinians hoped, would persuade the EU to lift its financial blockade on the Hamas government. Since the abduction, Mr Abbas and Mr Haniyeh have made several attempts to revive this agreement, but with little success. In the meantime, Israel has kept up the military pressure on Hamas with regular bombardments of the territory and, more recently, tensions between Hamas and the Fatah movement of Mr Abbas have erupted in pitched battles between the two sides.

In a dispatch from Damascus, Al Hayat, an Arabic newspaper, quoted Palestinian officials as saying that the Iranian foreign minister had urged Hamas to do its utmost to avoid being drawn into a confrontation with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Mr Mottaki was also said to have encouraged Islamic Jihad to continue in its efforts to mediate between the two largest Palestinian factions, while cautioning it against abandoning its principles, notably its opposition to the Palestinian national reconciliation document and its refusal to take part in any political programme within the framework of the Oslo accords.

It was clear from the comments attributed to Mr Mottaki that Iran is confident that the US is on the retreat in the Middle East on several fronts--its Iraq adventure has turned into a costly failure, Israel's attempt to destroy Hizbullah in Lebanon backfired, and the NATO forces in Afghanistan are having their work cut out in keeping a resurgent Taliban at bay. Iran also seems to be convinced that the US does not have the means to stop it proceeding with its nuclear programme.

Weak links

The weakest links among the allies of the US in the region are the Lebanese government and the PA. However, Mr Mottaki's reported remarks suggest that Iran is reluctant to sanction a coup de grace against Lebanon's prime minister, Fouad Siniora, and the PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, just yet. Al Hayat quoted him as saying that Iran considers that civil strife in Lebanon or in the Palestinian Territories would merely serve the purposes of the US. However, Hizbullah, Iran's principal ally in Lebanon, remains intent on bolstering its political position, with or without the co-operation of Mr Siniora. Likewise, Hamas and Iran clearly aim to derive maximum political capital from any exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Corporal Shalit.

This does not appear to be a recipe for peaceful outcomes in these two inter-related conflicts, as many other parties--Israel, Fatah, Hizbullah's Lebanese opponents--can be expected to stand their ground against any such Iranian-inspired power play.

The Economist Intelligence Unit
Source: ViewsWire

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Saudi Envoy Warns US Against Abrupt Iraq Withdrawal

Reuters: The partition of Iraq would lead to ethnic cleansing and sectarian killing on a mass scale, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States said on Oct. 30 as he warned the United States against leaving Iraq abruptly.

"To envision that you can divide Iraq into three parts is to envision ethnic cleansing on a massive scale, sectarian killing on a massive scale," Prince Turki al-Faisal said as he answered questions after a Washington speech. "Since America came into Iraq uninvited, it should not leave Iraq uninvited."

Prince Turki made the comments ahead of the Nov. 7 U.S. midterm elections that are in part being fought over U.S. President George W. Bush’s conduct of the war in Iraq, where sectarian violence rages more than three years after U.S.-led forces invaded to topple former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Among ideas being debated in public are dividing Iraq into three regions to reflect its Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish populations as well as how soon the White House can withdraw the roughly 150,000 U.S. forces in the country.

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Japan says it can go nuclear but won't

Agence France-Presse
Oct 31, 2006 - 5:28:02 AM

TOKYO: Japan said Tuesday it has the legal right to develop nuclear weapons despite its pacifist constitution but has no intention even to consider the long-taboo idea.

Prominent lawmakers have called on Japan, the only nation to suffer nuclear attack, to debate the nuclear option after communist neighbor North Korea on October 9 said it had tested its first atom bomb.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki argued that the US-imposed pacifist constitution allows Japan "the right to possess minimum capability" for self-defense.

"Theoretically and technically, nuclear weapons might be included in this, but this is different from the government's policy," said Shiozaki, the top government spokesman.

"The government has no intention of changing its three-point non-nuclear principles, nor the intention of discussing the issue," he told a news conference.

He was responding to the latest remarks by Shoichi Nakagawa, the policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who wants Japan to discuss going nuclear in light of the North Korean threat.

"The government sticks to its policy of not having nuclear weapons, but the government also says that it is allowed to have nuclear weapons under the constitution," Nakagawa said Monday.

Nakagawa is a close aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who strongly supports revising the constitution to give Japan a more active military role.

But Abe has repeatedly ruled out discussing the nuclear option.

The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were obliterated by US nuclear bombs at the end of World War II that killed more than 210,000 people.

The United States has ensured Japan's security since then and forced it to renounce its right to a military.

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Russian, U.S. military chiefs ink pact

MOSCOW - The top Russian and U.S. military officers signed a cooperation agreement Monday that lays out plans for joint activities for the coming year, officials said.

Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he and Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, his Russian counterpart, signed the document, but did not disclose details of the proposals.

"I came to listen and learn about ways we can do good military-to-military for both Russia and the United States," said Pace, who was making his first appearance in Moscow since becoming chairman of the joint chiefs.

Baluyevsky said the Russian and U.S. analysis of many issues was "very close" but he and Pace would discuss "problems to which ... we must find solutions and adopt these solutions as quickly as possible."

Pace said he had no doubt that "together we can find proper solutions."

"I am anxious for military-to-military cooperation to show through its transparency the potential for our two nations to walk into the future hand in hand," Pace said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the former Cold War foes bear the brunt of responsibility for 'supporting strategic security in the world.

"This is a unique responsibility, and other countries look to us with the hope that we will continue to support it," Lavrov said after meeting with Pace.

Earlier, Pace lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier and called the experience "a very poignant reminder to me of the very special relationship our two nations have had for many years."

Russia has been highly critical of the American-led campaign in Iraq, while the U.S. has criticized Russia's cooperation with Iran despite that country's alleged nuclear weapons program. Russia has also objected to U.S. plans to deploy missile defenses in NATO nations in Eastern Europe.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

China’s African oil hunt revisited

With China’s increasing demand for foreign oil, the country has turned to oil-rich African states. But China needs to realize that politics and economics are not inseparable.

By East-West Center Wire staff (30/10/06)

China’s high-profile oil diplomacy in Africa has been roundly criticized. But, East-West Center Senior Fellow Zhong Xiang Zhang says many of those complaints are based on “exaggerated and erroneous information.” Ahead of the upcoming 3 – 5 November Forum of China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing, Zhang argues China’s foray into Africa in search of energy supplies has to be put into perspective.

Zhang admits that China is now able to supply some 94 percent of its overall energy needs at home, and estimates put that figure at a still substantial two-thirds by the year 2020. But, “this by no means questions the increased importance of China’s growing oil imports.”

And, those imports have been on the rise. China is now second only to the United States in terms of oil imports.

Zhang says, “China’s economic boom and stagnated supply of domestic oil have produced the growing hunger for foreign oil.” At present, he says, “China imports over 40 percent of its oil consumption and that is expected to rise to 60 percent or more by 2020.” Beijing has also elevated energy security “to the height of importance in China’s foreign policy,” Zhang points out.

Fearful of disruptions along the long sea lines from the Middle East, and realizing it will take much longer than anticipated to see any return on investments in pipelines from Central Asian and Russian fields, China has turned to Africa in a big way. That, according to Zhang, despite “Western criticism of China fueling conflicts and human-rights violations in Africa by selling arms to some repressive regimes in exchange for oil and minerals.”

“Beijing has been building goodwill and strengthening bilateral trade agreements” with African countries, “awarding aid and forgiving national debt,” Zhang notes. China voluntarily waived $1.2 billion in sovereign African debt when China and 44 African nations formed the China-Africa Cooperation Forum. “To date,” Zhang adds, “Beijing has given more than $5.5 billion in assistance and canceled the debt of 31 African countries.”

China has also pitched in with infrastructure projects. A rail network in Nigeria, improved roads in Rwanda, bridges, stadiums and harbors elsewhere in Africa have all been constructed with Chinese help.

That high profile has paid off in economic relations as well as goodwill. Zhang points out that “bilateral trade between China and African nations hit a record $40 billion last year, up 35 percent from 2004.” And, $22 billion more than Japan’s bilateral trade total on the African continent in 2005.

In recent years, African oil producing nations have also found themselves the destination of traveling Chinese leaders. Zhang says, “This goodwill-based energy diplomacy has helped China make remarkable inroads in striking energy deals with oil-rich African countries in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as the Central African Republic, Chad, the Congo, Libya, Niger and the Sudan.”

The attention Beijing has directed toward Africa has paid off in more ways than one. Zhang says “Chinese oil companies’ overseas investments not only ensure a supply of oil, but they also address the concerns about oil security by obtaining equity stakes in overseas oil production.” Africa as a whole now provides over a quarter of China’s oil imports.

And, despite criticism of its oil diplomacy, Zhang says China believes it has not been only a one-way street.

“Chinese oil companies’ investments also help the developing African countries raise their standards of living,” Zhang points out. “China’s assistance, for example, has helped turn Sudan into an oil-exporting country.” Beijing also believes its forays into Africa have helped in other ways too. “Chinese investments in African oil fields help to pump more oil and enlarge the overall availability of oil on the world market,” Zhang notes. “The new addition to the markets may help prevent oil prices rising even higher (on world markets).”

Zhang says “other Asian countries could follow suit,” in the search for energy supplies in Africa. But he adds, “This will not affect the relationship between Chinese companies and their African counterparts, given China’s long-established friendship with African countries and the championing of their interests, not to mention mutual commercial benefits (derived from the deals).”

It could affect price, however.

China and India have gone head-to-head in Africa. And China has come out on top, so far. The reason is simple. “The Chinese oil companies have a history of overpaying for equity positions,” Zhang notes. And, that has not changed. “China has grabbed these deals by overbidding at least 10 percent more than its competitor India.”

In January, the China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) bought a 45 percent stake in Nigeria’s Akpo offshore oil and gas field for $2.27 billion […] over a quarter-of-a-billion dollars more than India’s state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) was willing to pay. In August 2005, the China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) paid $4.18 billion to acquire PetroKazakhstan of Canada, over half-a-billion dollars more than its original bid to keep the Canadian firm from going to the Indian consortium of ONGC and Mittal.

Zhang adds the Chinese are willing to open their pocketbooks wider “because China has viewed paying a higher price than competitors to secure energy resources to be more of a national security issue than about the absolute price itself.”

But, bidding higher than competitors does not always work in a politically charged industry like energy.

Zhang points to last year when CNOOC found itself going up against the US company Chevron in an attempt to acquire California-based Unocal. “Although CNOOC bid $18.5 billion for Unocal,” he points out, “Chevron grabbed the deal for $16.4 billion,” after it became politicized.

The EWC Senior Fellow also points out the cost of China’s oil diplomacy is more than mere dollars and cents. Zhang says Beijing’s critics view China’s growing ties with Africa as purely for oil, and that China is willing to exchange political, financial and military favors without regard to transparency, development and stability. “Simply put,” he adds, “critics accuse China of mixing business with politics in pursuit of its economic gains in Africa.”

They may have a point. But, Zhang says “China’s options are limited.” He notes that “Western powers have gained control over the best oil fields available, (and) as a late entrant to the international oil game, China has little choice but to strike deals with what the US and others call rogue states to secure oil supplies.”

He adds, “No country would prefer to invest in an unstable regime over investment in a more stable one.” But, “Without a lot of options, China appears quite willing to get oil from wherever it can.”

Zhang says that attitude is seen increasingly in Washington as undermining “US goals of isolating or punishing rogue states that fail to promote democracy, limit nuclear proliferation or respect human rights.” And, he notes, recent Beijing overtures to Canada and Venezuela, two countries that account for about 25 percent of US oil imports, have also raised some red flags in the US.

He does not believe “Beijing’s stance should be swayed by Washington.” But Zhang does suggest “Beijing should take into account many factors including Washington’s growing unease […] in particular when US concerns also reflect those of a large section of the international community.”

Zhang admits “the short-term benefit of aggressively pursuing (its current) oil diplomacy without proper consideration of the international community’s concern may hurt China in the longer term.” He notes that China has achieved rapid economic growth and is being integrated into the global economy. Taking that into consideration, Zhang adds that China should realize politics and economics, in the modern world, are not inseparable. “Beijing should think deeply about how to be more nuanced in responding to the concerns and perceptions […] of its foreign policy.”

The East-West Center is an education and research organization established by the US Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations and understanding among the peoples and nations of Asia, the Pacific and the United States. The Center contributes to a peaceful, prosperous and just Asia Pacific community by serving as a vigorous hub for cooperative research, education and dialogue on critical issues of common concern to the Asia Pacific region and the United States. Funding for the Center comes from the US government, with additional support provided by private agencies, individuals, foundations, corporations and the governments of the region.

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Two Terrorism Experts "Get Political" in Op-Eds

By Andrew Cochran

I'm amazed by the op-eds written by Peter Bergen in today's New York Times tiled, "What Osama Wants," and by Michael Scheuer in yesterday's Washington Times, titled, "Another bin Laden victory." Both men are luminaries in the counterterrorism community on the basis of their brave and objective work inside terrorist cases and events, and also due to their open criticism of numerous elements of current national security strategy. Mr. Bergen is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, known in Washington more for criticizing President Bush than for agreeing with him. But both men endorse the current strategy in Iraq, and Mr. Scheuer says the loss of GOP control of the U.S. Congress would be an outright victory for Al Qaeda and jihadists (edited to remove an inaccurate reference to Mr. Bergen's comments, with appreciation for his response). Frankly, I never would have imagined that either man would write this so close to the election. Given their backgrounds, their views should be taken seriously as a forecast by two world-reknowned and objective experts of probable jihadist reaction to the election.

Here's an excerpt from Mr. Bergen's op-ed: "But for the United States to pull entirely out of that country right now, as is being demanded by a growing chorus of critics, would be to snatch an unqualified disaster from the jaws of an enormous blunder... A total withdrawal from Iraq would play into the hands of the jihadist terrorists... Yes, there is little doubt that the botched American occupation of Iraq was the critical factor that fueled the Iraqi insurgency. But for the United States to wash its hands of the country now would give Al Qaeda’s leaders what they want."

And from Mr. Scheuer: "If Americans vote for what sounds like sweet reason from the Democrats, bin Laden and company will rejoice. What they will hear is the death knell for any prospect of effective U.S. military resistance to militant Islam. With the Republicans out, the Islamists will be confident that Democrats will deliver the best of both worlds: less emphasis on military force and a rigid maintenance of U.S. foreign policies that are hated with passion and near-unanimity by 1.3 billion Muslims."

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Russia Overtakes US in Selling Arms to Developing Countries

An annual study for the US Congress finds that in 2005 Russia, for the first time, sold more arms to the developing world than the United States did, UPI said.

Russia’s sales included eight new aerial refueling tankers to China and surface to air missiles to Iran, The New York Times reported. Both deals make the U.S. government nervous because of the possibility of a crisis with China over Taiwan and with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

The report, “Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations,” found that Russia’s arms agreements with developing countries came to $7 billion, up from $5.4 billion in 2004. France was second with agreements totaling $6.3 million and the United States just behind at $6.2 billion.

India was the largest buyer among developing countries. Russia’s largest customers were India and China.

The United States continued to rank first in total arms sales, followed by France and Russia.

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US general predicts second NKorea nuclear test

Agence France-Presse

SEOUL: The head of US forces in South Korea on Monday predicted North Korea will stage a second nuclear test, as experts said the Stalinist regime's security threat should not overshadow "crimes against humanity" by its rulers.

"I can only surmise that since they've tested one, that some time in the future we're going to get another test of a nuclear device," General B.B. Bell said.

Referring to the North's nuclear and missile programmes, he added: "I think we can expect future tests as part of their programme to develop these kinds of very provocative weapons."

The first test on October 9 triggered worldwide shock and UN Security Council sanctions. But Bell told a press conference it had not changed the balance of power on the Korean peninsula.

The general, who would head the South's 650,000-strong military as well as the 29,500 US troops on the peninsula in case of war, warned the North to give "long and deliberate thought" to what he called the enormous capacity of US air and naval forces in the region.

If North Korea attacked the South "we would quickly and decisively defeat aggression," he said.

Despite what some arms experts see as the need for a second test to validate the results of the first, China said last week it had received assurances from North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il that his country has no plans for a second test.

But Kim reportedly added that if others put pressure on Pyongyang, it may take unspecified "further measures."

Weekend news reports said suspicious activities had continued in the northeastern area where the first test was staged.

Military sources said there had been continuous activity at Punggyeri in Kilju county.

"However, it remains unclear whether these activities are related to a second nuclear test or North Koreans are just faking it," one source said.

Experts say any second test would attract much tougher sanctions.

A report prepared by DLA Piper LLP, a global legal firm, and the US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea said the North's rights record should also prompt UN action.

The report, commissioned by former Czech president Vaclav Havel, ex-Norwegian prime minister Kjell Bondevik and US Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, said the rights issue should be treated on a parallel track with the security threat.

In a foreword, they said Kim Jong-Il and the North Korean government "are actively committing crimes against humanity."

It allowed as many as one million, and possibly many more, of its own people to die during the famine in the 1990s, they said, and 37 percent of children remain chronically malnourished.

Furthermore, North Korea imprisons more than 200,000 people in its modern-day gulag, and it is estimated that more than 400,000 have died in that system over 30 years, the trio said.

In written remarks to AFP, Bondevik said: "Nowhere else in the world today is the abuse of rights so comprehensive and institutionalised as it is in North Korea."

It was time for the UN Security Council to intervene in North Korea on the basis of the government's failure in its responsibility to protect its own people.

The report suggests that the council first adopt a non-punitive resolution under Chapter Six of the UN Charter, seeking UN and other international access to provide humanitarian aid to vulnerable groups and calling for the release of all political prisoners.

Should North Korea fail to comply, the council should consider adopting a binding resolution under Chapter Seven, which can authorise military action to enforce compliance.

Chosun Ilbo, South Korea's largest-circulation newspaper, said North Korea launched five short-range missiles during military exercises last week.

They presumably had ranges between 10 and 50 kilometers (six and 30 miles), it said, quoting an unnamed official.

The official said the launch seemed part of annual military training but it was rare for the North to fire off as many as five missiles.

Bell urged Pyongyang to end its drive for weapons and "attend to the needs of its people instead of the needs of its military."

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Rabat, 30 Oct. (AKI) - Militants with the banned Moroccan Islamist group 'al-Adl al-Ihsan' are increasingly fleeing to Spain to survive an ongoing crackdown by Rabat's authorities, Arab daily 'al-Quds al-Arab' reported on Monday. According to the newspaper, many militants are already part of the 50,000-strong Muslim community living in the south of the country, especially in the Murcia region. The group aims to topple Morocco's monarchy and establish an Islamist state.

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Heavy shelling in north Sri Lanka after talks fail

COLOMBO, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Heavy artillery shelling resumed in northern Sri Lanka on Monday just hours after peace talks between the government and Tamil Tigers collapsed, triggering fears of a deepening civil war.

Residents in the army-held Jaffna peninsula said fierce shelling began before dawn, an eerie reminder of months of fighting that killed hundreds of civilians, troops and rebel fighters in the run-up to the talks in Geneva.

The abortive talks ended on Sunday with both sides meeting separately with mediator Norway before failing even to agree on whether not to meet again for talks in the future.

That was a worst case scenario for many analysts, diplomats and residents, who now fear the worst fighting since a now-tattered 2002 ceasefire will resume in earnest.

Officials said the talks ran aground over a central rebel demand that the government reopen a highway that crosses through rebel territory to Jaffna, which is cut off from the rest of the island by Tiger lines and where food is in desperately short supply.

"I have been here right along in Jaffna and I have experienced enough violence, killings, bombings shellings and displacements," said 38-year-old mother-of-two Vasantha Nallathamby, venturing out into a deserted Jaffna street as artillery and multi-barrel rocket fire roared in the distance.

"Now that the talks have failed for the eighth time, I will tell you the LTTE will not keep quiet," she added. "War is inevitable."

The island's two-decade civil war has already killed more than 65,000 people since 1983, with hundreds killed and tens of thousands displaced since fighting flared in late July.

Norwegian chief mediator Erik Solheim, who oversaw the talks, said overnight both the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had said they were committed to a truce which still technically holds on paper, and had promised not to launch military offensives.

But both sides spent Sunday accusing each other of abuses and of deadlocking the talks, which analysts say were a sideshow, and sporadic fighting continued.

"Both sides still believe that they can effect a clear, definitive balance of power on the ground before they can talk about anything seriously," said Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu of think-tank the Centre for Police Alternatives.

"I'm expecting to see more fighting. I'm expecting to see the LTTE try to create a situation in which the army is put on the defensive," he added.

Tiger political wing head and chief negotiator S.P. Thamilselvan said overnight the rebels would not participate in new talks until the A9 highway linking the north to the rest of the country was reopened -- which the government refuses to do.

The road -- nicknamed the "Highway of Death" because of past battles fought over it -- was closed in August due to fighting, choking supplies and stranding thousands of people, many of whom are still waiting to be evacuated from the peninsula by ship.

The government argues it is unsafe to reopen the road because of rebel artillery fire, but analysts say the closure is helping to give the military a strategic advantage by curbing movement of rebel fighters and munitions. (Additional reporting by Laura MacInnis in GENEVA)

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Cairo, 30 Oct. (AKI) - Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's president for 26 years, has urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to run for a third term despite a two term-limit imposed by Russia's constitution on the presidential post. Russian presidential elections are scheduled for 2008 and Mubarak in an interview with Russian daily ahead of a visit to Moscow described Putin as a "good and intelligent leader".

"Russia needs Putin," Mubarak told Vremya Novostei, adding that he would tell the Russian president to "stay [on as president] and don't listen to what anyone says."

"He [Putin] knows the situation in Russian and the rest of the worl well. Why not let him stay on?" the Egyptian president describing the Russian constitution's two-term limit on the presidential post as an attempt to ape the American system.

"You criticise the Americians, and then you imitate them," he said.

Besides Russia, Mubarak is also scheduled to vist China and Kazakstan.

According to Egyptian media reports, in Moscow and Beijing Mubarak will seek assistance for Egypt's nuclear programme, frozen for some 20 years, but relaunched by the president in statement last month.

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Pakistani attack on al-Qaida kills 80

KHAR, Pakistan - Pakistani troops and helicopters firing missiles killed as many as 80 militants training at a religious school used as an al-Qaida training center near the Afghan border, officials said.

Local leaders said all those slain when the school, or madrassa, was destroyed were civilians.

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan said initial estimates based on intelligence sources on the ground indicated that the attack killed about 80 suspected militants, who appeared to be in their 20s and were from Pakistan and other countries.

"These militants were involved in actions inside Pakistan and probably in
Afghanistan," Sultan told The Associated Press.

The bodies of 20 men killed in the attack were lined up in a field near the madrassa, in Chingai village near Khar, the main town in the Bajur tribal district, before an impromptu burial attended by thousands of local people, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.

Dozens of villagers sifted through the rubble of the madrassa, shifting blocks of smashed concrete and mud bricks aside to try to find survivors. Some picked up body parts scattered across the area and placed them in plastic bags normally used for fertilizer.

"We heard helicopters flying in and then heard bombs," said one of the villagers, Haji Youssef. "We were all saddened by what we have seen."

Among the dead was Liaquat Hussain, a local Islamic cleric who ran the madrassa, locals said. Several of his aides also died, they said.

The attack came two days after 5,000 pro-Taliban tribesmen held an anti-American rally in the Bajur area near Damadola, a village close to the site of an alleged U.S. missile attack that killed several al-Qaida members and civilians in January.

"We received confirmed intelligence reports that 70-80 militants were hiding in a madrassa used as a terrorist-training facility, which was destroyed by an army strike, led by helicopters," Sultan said.

An Associated Press reporter living in the area said he saw several helicopters hovering near his house early Monday before hearing a series of explosions, apparently caused by missiles being fired into the madrassa compound.

Helicopters fired four to five missiles into the madrassa, Sultan said.

The strike came on the day a peace deal was expected to be signed between Bajur tribal leaders and the military, similar to an accord signed earlier this year in nearby North Waziristan.

"This attack is very strange as we were told Sunday that the peace agreement would be signed today," local lawmaker Mohammed Sadiq said.

Sultan declined to say if an accord was scheduled to be signed Monday, but added that militants cannot hide behind peace deals. He said the purported militants using the madrassa had rejected orders to end their activities.

A senior intelligence official in Bajur also said a local al-Qaida leader, Faqir Mohammed, who led Saturday's rally, was believed to have been inside the madrassa.

It was unclear if Mohammed was among those killed, said the official, who declined to be identified further because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Siraj ul-Haq, a Cabinet minister from the North West Frontier Province, condemned the attack and announced he would resign from the government in protest.

"The government has launched an attack during the night, which is against Islam and the traditions of the area," ul-Haq told the AP during the funeral. "They (the victims) were not given any warning. This was an unprovoked attack on a madrassa. They were innocent people."

Ul-Haq, who belongs to the powerful Islamic political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, said protests would be staged throughout the northern tribal region on Tuesday to denounce the attack.

Pakistan has been trying to defeat militants along its porous border with Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion of that country in 2001 fanned increased terrorist activity on the Pakistan side of the frontier.

Pakistan became a key U.S. ally in its war on terror after the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S., and has deployed about 80,000 soldiers to flush out Taliban and al-Qaida members hiding in the mountainous frontier tribal region.

Al-Qaida leader
Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, are believed to be hiding along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

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Nigerian jet crashes with more than 100 aboard

A Nigerian airliner carrying more than 100 people crashed Sunday near the airport in this West African nation's capital, Nigerian media reported.

The plane owned by Aviation Development Company, a private Nigerian airline, crashed near Abuja's airport, local Ray Power FM said. Citing Rowland Iyayi, head of the National Air Space Management Agency, state radio said the plane had 104 passengers and crew aboard at the time and no survivors have been found so far.

State radio said the aircraft crashed in a storm shortly after takeoff. Privately owned Channels Television said it was bound for Lagos, the country's main city.

ADC last suffered a crash in November 1996, when one of its jets plunged into a lagoon outside Nigeria's main city, Lagos, killing all 143 aboard.

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Pakistan destroys al Qaeda school

KHAR, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistani troops backed by missile-firing helicopters destroyed an al-Qaida-linked training facility in a northwestern tribal area near the Afghan border Monday, killing "many" militants, officials said

The pre-dawn attack targeted a religious school -- known as a madrassa -- holding 70-80 militants in Chingai village near the town of Khar, the main town in the Bajur tribal district, said army spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan.

Sultan said the facility was destroyed but that it was not immediately clear how many people had been killed. There were no civilian casualties as there were no other buildings near the madrassa, he claimed.

The attack came two days after 5,000 pro-Taliban tribesmen held an anti-American rally in the Bajur area near Damadola, a village close to the site of an alleged U.S. missile attack that killed several al-Qaida members and civilians in January.

"We received confirmed intelligence reports that 70-80 militants were hiding in a madrassa used as a terrorist-training facility, which was destroyed by an army strike, led by helicopters," Sultan said.

Soldiers on the ground were counting the dead, Sultan said. He was unable to provide a preliminary estimate of the casualty count, but said that "many" militants had been killed.

At least three men from the madrassa were brought to the main hospital in Khar in critical conditions, said a doctor at the hospital, Imran Khan.

An Associated Press reporter living in the area said he saw several helicopters hovering near his house early Monday before hearing a series of explosions, apparently caused by missiles being fired into the madrassa compound.

Helicopters fired four to five missiles into the madrassa, which was run by Liaquat Hussain, a local Islamic cleric who is believed to have been sheltering al-Qaida militants, Sultan said.

A senior intelligence official in Bajur also said a local al-Qaida leader, Faqir Mohammed, who led Saturday's rally was believed to have been inside the madrassa that was targeted.

It was unclear if Mohammed was among those killed, said the official, who declined to be identified further because he was unauthorized to speak to the media.

Pakistan has been trying to defeat militants along its porous border with Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion of that country in 2001 fanned increased terrorist activity on the Pakistan side of the frontier.

Pakistan became a key U.S. ally in its war on terror after the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S., and has deployed about 80,000 soldiers to flush out Taliban and al-Qaida members hiding in the mountainous frontier tribal region.

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, are believed to be hiding along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Al-Qaeda “On the March,” Expert Says

The terrorist organization al-Qaeda has survived five years of international efforts to wipe it out, and is reorganizing itself to conduct further strikes, a U.S. counterterrorism expert said yesterday (see GSN, Sept. 21).

Georgetown University professor Bruce Hoffman dismissed what he called “politicized intelligence” suggesting that al-Qaeda had been seriously weakened since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, The Ottawa Citizen reported.

“Just as we underestimated al-Qaeda before 9/11, we risk repeating the same mistake now. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, al-Qaeda is on the march,” he said during a speech at the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies conference in Ottawa.

“We see a vigorous and unbowed organization” which is able to exploit cracks in western security and is using the war in Iraq for its own ends, Hoffman said.

A recent string of plots and terrorist attacks illustrate the threat, he said. These include the July 2005 bombings of the London transit system by al-Qaeda-trained operatives and a unsuccessful 2004 plot by an al-Qaeda cell against a number of U.S. sites (see GSN, Oct. 13).

This year’s foiled effort to destroy up to 10 passenger airplanes, another seeming al-Qaeda plot, indicates that terrorists are still willing to strike against a transportation sector that has undergone significant security increases over the last five years (see GSN, Aug. 11).

“This alarming development calls into question some of our most fundamental assumptions about terrorist targeting, tactics and capabilities today,” Hoffman said. “We’re just as vulnerable as ever. Not only because of Iraq, but because of a revitalized al-Qaeda that continues to plot and plan terrorist attacks as it has done since 9/11” (Ian MacLeod, The Ottawa Citizen, Oct. 27).

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service counterterrorism branch views “Al-Qaeda-inspired or -related” extremists as the primary terrorism threat facing the nation, The Globe and Mail reported today.

The service monitored 274 individuals and 31 organizations in its 2005-2006 operational year, according to a new government report. It identified “several previously unknown domestic extremists” who potentially were a terror threat and blocked one extremist from entering the country, the report states.

The agency “disrupted a Canadian-based terrorist cell.” Canadian authorities in June arrested 18 people and seized 3 tons of ammonium nitrate that could have been used in bombs (see GSN, June 12; Jeff Sallot, The Globe and Mail, Oct. 27).

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Russia politics: Putin and the presidency post-2008


Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is prevented by the current constitution from standing for another term in 2008, has shed a little more light on his post-2008 plans. He has indicated he will not seek a constitutional amendment to secure a third consecutive term, but has said he wants to retain political influence after 2008. Yet while this seems to rule out Mr Putin retiring from politics, there is no clarity on how he will seek to achieve this—or whether he will succeed.

On October 25th Mr Putin fielded questions from Russian citizens in a televised session that lasted nearly three hours. Mr Putin has participated in similar sessions before, and he again performed well, answering questions confidently and with a good command of detail. His answers touched on relations with Georgia, the need to diversify the economy, contract killings and many issues of concern to ordinary Russians. Among them, Mr Putin received a question on what would happen to the country after 2008? The president answered that although he liked the job, the constitution prevented him from seeking another term. He added that he hoped to retain public support, and to use that to influence the development of the country.

Two aspects of this are interesting. First, Mr Putin has once again confirmed that he does not intend to remain in office by amending the constitution. Although he has pushed through constitutional changes before—when, for instance, he abolished the direct election of regional governors in favour of a system of presidential appointment—he has consistently rebuffed the suggestion he should do so to remain in power. This is consistent with the Economist Intelligence Unit’s long-held forecast that Mr Putin will stand down in 2008.

Second, Mr Putin signalled he has no interest in retiring from politics. This was widely assumed prior to the televised Q&A, but not until now has Mr Putin directly confirmed it. It goes some way to answering the question of whether Mr Putin would walk away from politics or seek to wield power from outside the Kremlin.

Which seat?

If Mr Putin is determined to influence politics after he leaves the presidency, there are many potential options. One—which is a subject of consistent speculation—is that he could become the head of Gazprom, the 51% state-owned gas monopoly that is now the second-largest hydrocarbons company in the world by market capitalisation. In the last few years, Mr Putin has been an enthusiastic supporter of the company. Aside from the issue of gas pricing, where the monopoly’s desire for large tariff increases has clashed with Mr Putin’s goal of lowering inflation, the interests of Gazprom and the Russian state have become virtually indistinguishable from one another.

Yet although Gazprom is a hugely influential company, the CEO’s post would not afford Mr Putin a broad political remit. In this sense a political office would be more attractive. The post of prime minister is an obvious option, although under the current arrangements that would cast Mr Putin in a junior role to his successor as president. Although slightly more removed from direct power, leadership of the United Russia party might be a better option, carrying with it the possibility that Mr Putin could become parliamentary speaker. These roles would not cast Mr Putin under the direct control of the new president. Still another option would be for Mr Putin to become head of a Russia-Belarus union—although that would require messy constitutional changes.

If Mr Putin assumes a political post, another question arises: will he seek to return to the presidency after a year or two, or will he attempt to alter the power structure so that he can exert decisive influence from his new post? The premise underlying the former is that Mr Putin's successor would stand down after a year in power, perhaps on the grounds of not being up to the task; Mr Putin would then be the strong favourite in an early election and would be free to serve another two terms. With regard to the latter, Mr Putin would probably have to amend the constitution—and if he has to do that, why not simply remove the limit on him seeking a third consecutive term?

A puppet president?

Whatever plan Mr Putin hatches, the risk is that it could be blown off course by the politician Mr Putin anoints as his successor. At present there is little certainty over who this might be. The two front-runners are Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a former Kremlin chief of staff, and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov. Both were promoted last year in a move widely perceived to be an “audition” for the top job. However, Mr Putin is likely to delay a decision for as long as possible, to avoid becoming a lame duck, and he could easily opt for another candidate. Mr Putin’s chosen successor would then enjoy the full support of the state administration and its media empire in the presidential election.

Although Mr Putin would pick a candidate on whom he thought he could rely, and control, this is a risky course. It’s worth recalling that the clique around President Boris Yeltsin selected Mr Putin as the chosen successor, on the assumption that they would be able to influence him. In fact, Mr Putin routed that grouping in short order once he had won the 2000 presidential election. Under the current constitutional arrangements, once Mr Putin leaves office he will lack the absolute power to direct events. However, the 2008 succession will differ from the 2000 one in at least one crucial respect: Mr Putin, unlike his predecessor, will be leaving office with sky-high popularity and good health. Thus, a successor might not find it as easy to consolidate his power as Mr Putin did.

In short, there is considerable doubt over what Mr Putin will do next, and whether the plan he settles upon will succeed. The only sure way to retain power is to amend the constitution, win the 2008 election and stay in power for another term. Because Mr Putin is not inclined to do so, uncertainty abounds.

The Economist Intelligence Unit
Source: ViewsWire

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Taking Terror Fight to N. Africa Leads U.S. to Unlikely Alliances

By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Foreign Service

ALGIERS -- Locked in a prison here, for now, is a desert bandit dubbed the "Bin Laden of the Sahara," whose capture was secretly orchestrated by U.S. forces after a long chase across some of the most forbidding terrain on Earth.

Amari Saifi, 37, a former Algerian army paratrooper, was caught in 2004 after he and a band of rebel fighters kidnapped 32 European tourists in the Algerian Sahara and ransomed them for about $6 million.
In its search for allies in an unstable region, the United States has reached out to former terrorist supporters and countries it formerly condemned for human rights abuses. The case of Amari Saifi, an Algerian rebel whose group once kidnapped 32 European tourists , offers a case study in how America is fighting the war on terror in North Africa.
The Hunt for Amari Saifi
In its search for allies in an unstable region, the United States has reached out to former terrorist supporters and countries it formerly condemned for human rights abuses. The case of Amari Saifi, an Algerian rebel whose group once kidnapped 32 European tourists , offers a case study in how America is fighting the war on terror in North Africa.

Since then, the U.S. government has cited his case as a model for terrorist-hunting operations and a justification for expanding U.S. military, diplomatic and intelligence programs in North Africa.

A close examination of how Saifi was apprehended, however, highlights the quandaries facing the United States as it extends its fight against Islamic terrorism to remote parts of the globe. In its search for allies in an unstable region, the U.S. government reached out to Libya -- then still officially designated a state sponsor of terrorism -- and to other countries it has condemned for abusing human rights.

Some security analysts and European counterterrorism officials question the U.S. strategy. They contend the Pentagon may be inflating the importance of Saifi and the terrorist threat in both the Sahara and an equally large and desolate region to the south known as the Sahel.

By sending troops and partnering with repressive governments, U.S. tactics could backfire, said Hugh Roberts, North Africa project director for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

"The idea that you could have major jihadi units holing up there always struck me as implausible," Roberts said. "The quickest way to generate a jihadi movement is to send some U.S. soldiers in there to swagger around. The more visible the U.S. military presence, the bigger the target."

The hunt for Saifi lasted more than a year and nearly unraveled at the end, despite a joint operation among the U.S. military and seven countries, according to counterterrorism officials in North Africa and Europe. He was caught by happenstance, by a ragtag rebel army in Chad, as he fled his pursuers across the desert.

Although Saifi was finally transferred to Algerian custody, there are signs that he may not be in prison much longer. After giving him a life sentence last year, the Algerian government said this spring it might release him under an amnesty program, reflecting doubts as to how big a threat he posed in the first place.

Regardless of Saifi's fate, U.S. officials say they consider North Africa an increasingly strategic front. With weak governments and poorly patrolled borders, the region has already attracted Islamic radicals looking for a place to set up training camps and spread their ideology, officials say.

Together, the Defense and State departments are devoting $500 million to new counterterrorism programs in the region. Last year, the Pentagon sponsored Operation Flintlock, the largest U.S. joint military exercise in North Africa since World War II. About 700 U.S. Special Forces personnel trained troops from nine African nations, leading a war game that mirrored the effort to hunt down Saifi a year earlier.

"The threat is evolving," said Rear Adm. Richard K. Gallagher, a top commander at the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, which is responsible for most of Africa. "Africa, for a lot of reasons, is a place that we've got to care hugely about. We ignore Africa at our peril."

In February 2003, a band of Islamic extremists began scouring the desert expanse of southern Algeria for kidnap victims. The sparsely populated region's colored sand dunes and craggy mountains were a magnet for European tourists.

Soon, foreigners began to vanish, two or three at a time. Within a month, 32 Europeans -- mostly Germans, but also Austrian, Swedish, Swiss and Dutch citizens -- had been rounded up.
In its search for allies in an unstable region, the United States has reached out to former terrorist supporters and countries it formerly condemned for human rights abuses. The case of Amari Saifi, an Algerian rebel whose group once kidnapped 32 European tourists , offers a case study in how America is fighting the war on terror in North Africa.

The Hunt for Amari Saifi
In its search for allies in an unstable region, the United States has reached out to former terrorist supporters and countries it formerly condemned for human rights abuses. The case of Amari Saifi, an Algerian rebel whose group once kidnapped 32 European tourists , offers a case study in how America is fighting the war on terror in North Africa.

The kidnappers belonged to the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, a movement dedicated to overthrowing the Algerian government. Despite its local origins, the group has recently reached out to al-Qaeda and other networks in an attempt to broaden its scope.

The leader of the cell, Saifi, was a tall, bearded man who dressed in shabby robes and worn-out sneakers; often he wore black eye makeup to ward off the sun's glare. Known as Abderrazak al-Para, or "the paratrooper," he had deserted from the Algerian army in 1991.

"In the beginning, the entire group was very convinced of the plan: 'Europeans -- that'll bring us money and weapons,' " said Rainer Bracht, a German construction worker who was among the hostages. "In the beginning, they always told us, 'You will be free soon, it'll be just a couple of weeks.' But then it took longer and longer."

On May 13, 2003, Algerian troops surrounded some of the fighters on a mountain range. After a gun battle, 17 hostages were rescued and nine kidnappers were killed, according to the Algerian government. But the soldiers were unable to capture Saifi, who escaped with half of his men and 15 tourists.

As the group trekked south, they hid under rock formations to avoid detection from the skies. The trip was arduous, with temperatures climbing to 110 degrees. One German died of heat exhaustion, but Saifi otherwise took care to keep his captives alive.

"His men held him in high esteem and showed respect," recalled Martin Hainz, a Bavarian painter who was taken hostage. "He emanated a lot of authority, but his behavior was not authoritarian. He did not give orders; he listened and made remarks."

In July 2003, Saifi and his crew crossed into Mali, an impoverished and landlocked country. Hiding among desert nomads, the kidnappers negotiated through intermediaries with the German and Libyan governments, seeking cash. A month later, the rest of the hostages were released near the Algeria-Mali border. Although Germany and Libya have denied paying a ransom, other European officials said the two countries provided funds.

Flush with money, Saifi bought protection from local tribes, European counterterrorism officials said. He shopped on the black market for automatic rifles, missile launchers and 4x4 trucks. He expanded his militia to include fresh recruits from Mali, Chad and Niger.

"At this point, he starts to become an important threat," said Louis Caprioli, former director of international counterterrorism for the DST, the French counterintelligence service, which was working with the U.S. military to track Saifi. "And the armies of Niger and Mali couldn't do anything about him."

Warnings Heeded

At the time of the kidnappings, the U.S. government was starting a counterterrorism program in North Africa called the Pan-Sahel Initiative.

The program represented a response to worries that remote areas of North Africa could serve as a base for al-Qaeda or other Islamic extremists seeking to relocate after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The initiative, led by the U.S. European Command, was designed to share intelligence and train ill-equipped militaries in the region.

The program had its critics, inside and outside the U.S. government, who questioned whether North African radicals had the potential to pose an external threat. They also wondered whether it made sense for the U.S. military to increase its presence in yet another predominantly Muslim part of the world.
In its search for allies in an unstable region, the United States has reached out to former terrorist supporters and countries it formerly condemned for human rights abuses. The case of Amari Saifi, an Algerian rebel whose group once kidnapped 32 European tourists , offers a case study in how America is fighting the war on terror in North Africa.
The Hunt for Amari Saifi
In its search for allies in an unstable region, the United States has reached out to former terrorist supporters and countries it formerly condemned for human rights abuses. The case of Amari Saifi, an Algerian rebel whose group once kidnapped 32 European tourists , offers a case study in how America is fighting the war on terror in North Africa.
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The Sahara hostage-takings, however, gave a boost to military leaders who had been warning about the potential for trouble in North Africa. Since then, Congress has listened, budgeting $500 million over the next six years for an expanded version of the original program called the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative.

Gallagher, of the U.S. European Command, said the military wanted to keep a light footprint in North Africa. "We want to get out in front of these problems and train these nations to deal with it," he said.

In a visit to Algiers in February to promote the program, Henry A. Crumpton, the State Department's counterterrorism coordinator, warned leaders from across North Africa that Saifi "underscored the real threat posed to the region." The Algerian Salafist group, he added, "has become a regional terrorist organization, recruiting and operating in all of your countries -- and beyond."

Coordinated Pursuit

After the last hostages were freed, the U.S. military took effective control of the international hunt for Saifi, according to U.S. and European counterterrorism officials. Saifi had avoided the Algerian army by slipping past unguarded borders and vanishing into the desert. Now U.S. forces began tracking him with spy satellites and reconnaissance aircraft.

Overcoming regional hostilities, the U.S. military persuaded Mali, Niger, Algeria and Chad to cooperate on a plan to corral Saifi. U.S. Special Forces gave crash training to local soldiers. Under pressure, Saifi and his militia moved out of Mali in January 2004, crossed through Niger and entered Chad, covering about 1,000 miles of harsh terrain.

On March 9, 2004, troops from Niger and Chad caught up to Saifi in northwestern Chad. Bolstered by U.S. supplies, they killed 43 of Saifi's fighters. But once again, the desert bandit escaped.

A week later, Saifi and 16 followers were wandering through the Tibesti Mountains, short of water and food and unaware they had encroached on turf controlled by a Chadian rebel group. The rebels, known as the Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad, were enemies of the Chadian army. But they also didn't like the looks of the interlopers from Algeria and took them captive.

"We were astonished to see these people," Ousmane Hissein, a Chadian rebel leader in exile, said in an interview in Paris. "We tried to figure out who they were and where they were coming from." News reports on shortwave radio eventually revealed Saifi's identity.

Hissein said the rebels offered to turn Saifi over to Algeria, Germany, France and the United States, but all said no. Each country had been involved in chasing Saifi across the desert but did not want to risk a diplomatic rupture with the government of Chad by dealing with the rebels.

Once again, Libya agreed to serve as an intermediary. Relations between the governments in Tripoli and Washington had warmed since Moammar Gaddafi had ended his program to develop weapons of mass destruction four months earlier. But the alliance was still awkward; Libya had been branded a terrorist sponsor by the State Department since 1979, a label that would persist until June 2006.

The Chadian rebels, however, did not trust Gaddafi. They had accused him of assassinating one of their leaders years before. Negotiations stalled for months.

Losing patience, Gaddafi threatened to send his troops into Chad to attack the rebels, Hissein said. But U.S. diplomats, worried about the risk of a regional war, intervened, persuading Gaddafi to pull back and work a deal. "The Americans played a huge role in all of this," Hissein added.

Seven months after he was captured by the rebels, Saifi was handed over at a border crossing to Libyan authorities, who extradited him to Algeria. The rebels are vague about whether they received any money in return.

Eligible for Amnesty

In June 2005, Saifi was scheduled to go on trial in Algiers. For unexplained reasons, Algerian security services did not bring him to the courtroom, and he was sentenced in absentia to life in prison. Rumors spread that he was dead.

Not so, according to Abdelhaq Layada, founder of the Armed Islamic Group, which fought the Algerian government during the 1990s in a horrific civil war that killed an estimated 200,000 people. Layada, who was recently released from prison as part of an amnesty for convicted terrorists, said he hoped Saifi would soon win his freedom.

"Yes, he's still alive," Layada said during an interview outside Algiers. "He's a Muslim, and he loves Muhammad our prophet, and he loves Allah. He was doing what he thought was right."

Algerian justice officials declined requests for an interview. In March, however, Justice Minister Tayeb Belaiz said Saifi would be eligible for consideration under the amnesty. Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni called it "a sensitive case" but wouldn't rule out his release.

Saifi has been indicted in Germany, but Algeria generally doesn't extradite its citizens to Europe. He is not wanted on criminal charges in the United States.

A U.S. counterterrorism official said the Bush administration would be unlikely to protest publicly if Saifi is released.

"We would support the Algerians," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The Algerian government, the official added, has made "political overtures to leaders and individuals who are willing to lay down their arms. We encourage that."

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Egypt to seek Chinese aid on nuclear programme

CAIRO, Oct 28 (AFP) Oct 28, 2006
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will seek Chinese help for Cairo's planned civil nuclear programme during a visit to Beijing next month, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said in remarks published on Saturday.

"The possible aid which China could give to Egypt over its civil nuclear programme to generate electricity will be one of the subjects of talks," Gheit told the government newspaper Akhbar al-Yom.

Mubarak heads for China after a November 1 to 3 visit to Russia. He will be in Beijing for a summit on Sino-African cooperation after which his visit will become an official one to the country on November 6 and 7.

During the visit, the two countries will sign several agreements covering economic and technological fields, said the Egyptian minister.

In late September, Cairo announced it was relaunching its civil nuclear programme after a halt of 20 years following the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986.

The announcement coincided with increasing Western pressure, spearheaded by the United States, against Iran for allegedly wanting to produce nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian programme. Tehran vehemently denies the charge.

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Bangladesh Interim Gov't to Be Installed

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Bangladesh's caretaker government will be installed by Sunday night, an opposition leader said after meeting with the president, hinting at an end to a political crisis that fueled deadly riots in the impoverished South Asian country.

At least 11 people were killed and hundreds were injured in two days of violence after the opposition refused to accept a retired chief justice invited to lead of the interim government.

Opposition activists run for cover after being chased by riot police, unseen, during a demonstration protesting outgoing Prime Minister Kaleda Zia's choice of retired Chief Justice K.M. Hasan to lead a caretaker government, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006. Bangladesh's outgoing government delayed handing power to the caretaker administration Saturday, saying Hasan was ill, after at least six protesters died and hundreds were injured in two days of clashes with riot police. (AP Photo/Pavel Rahman)
Opposition activists run for cover after being chased by riot police, unseen, during a demonstration protesting outgoing Prime Minister Kaleda Zia's choice of retired Chief Justice K.M. Hasan to lead a caretaker government, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006. Bangladesh's outgoing government delayed handing power to the caretaker administration Saturday, saying Hasan was ill, after at least six protesters died and hundreds were injured in two days of clashes with riot police.

The justice, K.M. Hasan, is a former member of the outgoing prime minister's party and critics said the interim administration, appointed to oversee elections due in January, was required to be nonpartisan.

Bangladesh's outgoing government, led by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, delayed handing power to a caretaker administration Saturday, saying Hasan was ill. The opposition, however, claimed Hasan refused the post because of the protests and alleged attempts by the government to rig the upcoming elections.

Hasan declined the position on Saturday, according to a presidential spokesman, setting the stage for an end to the political crisis.

"A new government will be installed by Sunday evening," Abdul Jalil, general secretary of the main opposition Awami League party, told reporters outside President Iajuddin Ahmed's official home in downtown Dhaka.

Jalil said the caretaker government would be headed by someone else; earlier he had said the opposition would accept another former chief justice, Mahmudul Amin Chowdhury, to head the caretaker authority.

Riot police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and warning shots to disperse thousands of stone-throwing protesters in the capital, Dhaka. Mobs smashed or torched several vehicles, burned tires and looted furniture from shops. Thousands of protesters blocked highways leading into Dhaka, cutting off the city of 10 million people from the rest of the country, TV footage showed.

Two people died in the rioting, while two members of Zia's party were shot dead elsewhere in the capital, the United News of Bangladesh agency reported. At least 300 people were injured, the agency said. One person died in southeastern Chittagong and another in northern Kurigram district, the agency said.

The violence on Friday killed five people and injured about 100.

Zia, whose five-year term in office expired at midnight Friday, accused the opposition of creating anarchy and urged her supporters to retaliate.

Zia's last days in office have been further clouded by the defection of more than two dozen politicians from her party over alleged corruption and incompetence in her administration.

Bangladesh, an impoverished Southest Asian country, has a history of political unrest. It spent more than 15 years under military rule after its independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Both Zia and opposition leader Sheikh Hasina led a pro-democracy movement in 1990, ousting the country's last military ruler, Gen. Hossain Mohammad Ershad.

The two politicians have been locked in political bickering since then.

Read more ...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Video surveillance systems seen eliminating security guards

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government has been testing surveillance technology for site security that could completely replace human security guards.

"With a single camera, or just a few cameras and video intelligence technology, you can efficiently protect hundreds of sites without a single guard in the field," said Gadi Talmon, a former Israeli intelligence officer who founded Aspectus Video Intelligence.

The Energy Department has overseen trials of a digital video surveillance software system in pilot programs throughout the United States, Middle East Newsline reported.

Executives said the system, developed by Aspectus, an Israeli company based in the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikvah with a subsidiary in New York, was meant to integrate thousands of cameras and sensors at such facilities as airports, railways and power stations.

The software could monitors video and alerts a supervisor to suspicious activities, they said. The video could be sent directly to the supervisor's cell phone, PDA, or laptop.

Executives said Aspectus, whose clients include Israel Railways and the Israel Prison Service, has been developing systems that could recognize license plates from video surveillance. The systems were also designed for facial recognition and fire detection.

"Penetration of video intelligence technology is today only about 2-3 percent," Talmon said. "From what we hear from experts and customers, that penetration will grow to 25 percent, or even higher in some market segments. Down the road we foresee a day when all the cameras in the world will be intelligent."

World Tribune

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Ongoing 'intifada' in France has injured 2,500 police in 2006

This might have dropped below the radar, but Al Qaida and its allies are literally battling the Crusaders every day in Europe. And so far, Europe isn't doing so well.

"We are in a state of civil war, orchestrated by radical Islamists," said Michel Thoomis, secretary general of the Action Police trade union. "This is not a question of urban violence any more. It is an intifada, with stones and firebombs."

The French Interior Ministry has acknowledged the Muslim uprising. The ministry said more than 2,500 police officers have been injured in 2006. This amounts to at least 14 officers each day.

The battles have been under-reported but alarming to French authorities. Muslim street commanders, who run lucrative drug networks, have organized youngsters in housing projects to ambush police and confront security forces. The response time allows hundreds of Muslims to storm police cars and patrols within minutes.

"You no longer see two or three youths confronting police," Thoomis said. "You see whole tower blocks emptying into the streets to set their comrades free when they are arrested."

France's huge Muslim minority community has come under the influence of agents often influenced and financed by Al Qaida. These agents have recruited Muslim youngsters for urban warfare in which police and government representatives are injured daily.

Not surprisingly, Muslim neighborhoods are becoming autonomous zones, with police and government workers too scared to enter. The police union is demanding the Interior Ministry supply officers with armored cars.

European law enforcement sources say France could be a model for other countries. The most worried are Britain and the Netherlands.

World Tribune

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U.S. hails airborne laser as weapons milestone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency on Friday hailed what he described as epochal progress toward putting a high-energy laser aboard a modified Boeing Co. 747 to zap ballistic missiles that could be fired by North Korea and Iran.

But the Pentagon's former top weapons tester cast doubt on project, calling it far from militarily effective and perhaps easily defeated by a simple countermeasure.

The so-called Airborne Laser has been developed at a cost so far of about $3.5 billion with the aim of destroying, at the speed of light, all classes of ballistic missiles shortly after their launch. If successful in flight testing and deployed, it would become part of an emerging U.S. anti-missile shield that also includes land- and sea-based interceptor missiles.

"You've demonstrated capability on the ground," Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry Obering said at a ceremony at which the aircraft was rolled out of a Wichita, Kansas, hangar where it has been undergoing modifications.

"Not since that time nearly twenty-two hundred years ago, when Archimedes reflected the sun's rays to set the Roman fleet on fire off Syracuse, has the world seen a weapon that puts fresh meaning into the phrase 'in real time'."

"Let's do it now in flight," Obering told employees of Boeing, the prime contractor, and chief subcontractors Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. at the event.

Philip Coyle, the Pentagon's chief weapons tester under former President Bill Clinton and now at the private Center for Defense Information, said in an e-mail reply to Reuters that its real effectiveness appeared doubtful.

"If a laser can be developed with enough power to penetrate the atmosphere and still be lethal once it reaches a target, an enemy would only need to put a reflective coating on the outside of its missiles to bounce off the laser beam, making it harmless," he said.

"The Romans could have done the same thing in the myth about Archimedes. Any grade schooler knows that you can set a dry leaf on fire with a magnifying glass. The challenge is to achieve militarily effective damage," he added.

Neither Boeing nor the Missile Defense Agency responded immediately to an offer to rebut Coyle's comments.


Engineers are to start installing a high-energy chemical oxygen iodine laser on the modified jumbo jet next year, with the first missile intercept test to take place in late 2008.

Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems, said engineers had demonstrated "enormous progress toward ushering in a new age of technology, namely directed energy weapons."

Obering said the technology had the potential to change the nature of warfare.

"The news from North Korea and Iran has been consistently bleak," he said, referring to programs to "arm ballistic missiles of increasingly long range with lethal payloads."

In Wichita, engineers fully integrated the Lockheed-designed systems that control the beam and firing mechanisms in the aircraft, a modified 747-400F, Boeing said.

"The program achieved most of the objectives of the ground tests and expects to satisfy the remaining ones in the coming months," the company said in a statement.

Coyle said Boeing had omitted the "basic scientific and technical limitations that stand in the way of achieving an effective system."

Northrop Grumman supplies both the high-energy laser and a beacon illuminator laser used to measure atmospheric turbulence that it would encounter on its path to the target.

Read more ...

Open Source News

Open source news articles for the past week:

Afghan Officials Say Civilians Killed During NATO Operation
Iraqi Forces Disrupt Kidnapping Cell, Raid Illegal Armed Group
FCS opens test complex at White Sands Missile Range
Indiana National Guard heads for the border
MIUWU 112 Deploys in Support of MSO
MIUWU 1Theodore Roosevelt Marks 20 Years
Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Visits Enterprise Crew
Essex Stays On Course With CONREP, VERTREP
Naval Submarine School Attack Center Trainer Comes Online
NMITC Celebrates 20 Years of Training Navy, Marine Corps Intelligence...
U.S., Iraqi Forces Continue Search for Missing Servicemember
Boeing KC-767 Tanker Completes Test Milestone
U.S., Iraqi Forces Continue Search for Missing Servicemember
Russia: NATO Chief Holds Moscow Talks
Russia concerned by U.S. air defense plans in Europe - minister
Russia to adjust its military policy due to NATO transformation
German military to undergo biggest restructuring since 1945
General Dynamics Awarded $18 Million for Production of M2HB Machine Guns
800 Bru rebels surrender in India's Northeast state
Sudan: Annan confers with UN envoy Pronk after Government demands his...
DR Congo: amid tensions ahead of Sunday’s presidential vote, UN appeals...
Lebanon: UN commander holds ‘productive’ talks on securing final Israeli...
Security Council highlights women’s role in peace process, urges more...
AFGHANISTAN: Scores of civilians killed in air strikes, say officials and elders
Islamists Capture Another Town in Somalia
UGANDA: Dispute over truce terms holds up peace talks
CHAD: Rebels on the rocky road to N’djamena - REVIEW
EU's Solana: Mideast 'Road Map' Peace Plan Stalled
Israeli Forces Kill Palestinians in Gaza Gunbattle
Thai Coup Leader Says Little Evidence of Corruption Found During Probe
South Korea Announces Sanctions on North Following Nuclear Test
US Confident of UN Sanctions Against Iran
Atomstroiexport expects to complete Bushehr NPP in Iran on time
Russian Foreign Minister Criticizes European-Drafted UN Resolution on Iran
Afghanistan: UN ‘very concerned’ at reports of many civilian deaths in military
EU-3 draft resolution on Iran clashes with Iran-6 - Russian FM
Iran Sanctions Resolution Faces Obstacles at UN
Russia to open intl. nuclear center in Siberia by year-end
Green Lightning exercise strengthens U.S., Australian ties
Atlantic Strike provides joint training for interdependent warfighters
Virtual weapons give realistic training at Emerald Warrior
Putin blames discord at six-nation talks as reason for N. Korea test
North Korea Warns South Korea Against Sanctions
Officials announce C-130J contract conversion
Army activates IMCOM to improve Soldier support engineers, saves lives
Add-on-armor team empowers engineers, saves lives
Bataan ESG Integrates With MEU, Begins COMPTUEX
EOD, Divers Complete “Edged Response” Training Exercise
Seabees Construct 1,100-foot Pier in Little Creek
Russia, Italy present new diesel submarine at Euronaval 2006
DRC: Two of Kabila's killers recaptured
Lankan gov't, LTTE delegations leave for Geneva for direct talks
EU: For Brussels, Not All Frozen Conflicts Are Alike
Timor-Leste: UN police help stop gang fighting that forces airport to close
Bush: North Korea Testing Will of International Community
Security Council sets up integrated UN office in Burundi to follow current...
UN protests over Sudanese Government’s decision to seek envoy’s removal
After Four Years of Mediation, Ivory Coast Peace Elusive
Chad Accuses Sudan of Backing Rebel Movement
Russia has no plans to annex Georgian territories - Putin
Somali Islamists Threaten Attack on Government Base
Rice Urges UN Security Council to Impose Iran Sanctions Now
US Military: 10 Militants Killed in Raids on Shi'ite Stronghold in Baghdad
Mulla Omar asks NATO to stop sacrificing soldiers
Emerald Warrior kicks off at Hurlburt Field
Bush Says Allies United Against North Korea
Pakistan Wants to Shed AQ Khan Proliferation Stigma
NBG Improve Combat Readiness During Annual Exercise
Ukraine ready to send peacekeepers to Lebanon-FM Tarasyuk
New Cabinet Appointment Tilts Israel to Right
Pronk Expulsion Creates Rift in Sudanese Government
Vote Nears on Arms Trade Treaty Resolution
China Says North Korea Did Not Apologize for Nuclear Tests
N. Korea plans no new nuclear test - China
IAEA Director Presses for Dialogue With North Korea, Iran
Atlantic Strike provides joint training for interdependent warfighters
Russia, NATO conduct missile defense exercises
U.S. Air Force and Raytheon Team Successfully Launch Miniature Air...
Raytheon Successfully Integrates Final Element of Dual Band Radar for DDG...
Lebanon: UN Force Commander concerned at rising number of Israeli air...
Mali Rebels Clash With Algerian Extremists
NEPAL: Concerns over growing insecurity, despite ceasefire
DRC: UN and European security forces vigilant ahead of presidential run-off
GW’s New DC Training Program In Full Effect
South Asia: Will North Waziristan Peace Deal Spawn Imitations?
Coalition Soldiers Kill Six Insurgents, Seize Weapons
Ike Makes Port Call to Naples
Ronald Reagan Returns Following Successful Week of Carrier Qualifications
LCAC's Role in Future Operations Addressed During Annual Conference
Damage Control Top Focus During Tortuga SRA
Boxer ESG Visits Singapore
Boxer ESG Transits Strait of Malacca
Ukraine could join NATO by 2010 - defense minister
Russia to display stealth technology at Euronaval-2006 in Paris
Annan calls for extension of UN mission in the Central African Republic...
Israel Continues Overflights of Lebanon
US, Afghan troops leave area after another deal: Taliban
European Force Commanders in DRC Remain Optimistic
CHAD: Janjawid attacks surge as rebels fight on
Russia has no plans to restore transport links with Georgia soon
Abkhazia starts command and staff military exercises
Somali Government Takes Control of 2 Towns Following Battle with Islamic...
Chad Forces Retake Villages From Rebels
Iran Reportedly Expanding Nuclear Program
Iran-EU nuclear talks should be fruitful - Larijani
No discussion of Iran resolution in UN - Russian FM
UN nuclear chief meets with US Secretary Rice; calls for talks with DPRK...
$94 Million Helps Progress in Afghanistan
Horn of Africa Troops Working to Stem Terror Before It Takes Root
8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron thinks lean, saves money
Rumsfeld Discusses NATO, Afghanistan With Spain’s Defense Minister
Electromagnetic Gun Facility Operational with Successful First Test
Navy Completes Successful Mobile Landing Platform Demonstration
Palestinian Police Launch Protests Against Hamas-Led Government
Annan reviewing Sudan's request for withdrawal of UN envoy – spokesman
Sudanese Government Gives UN Envoy 3 Days to Leave
Bombs Kill at Least 9 in Baghdad; 15 Police Recruits Killed in Baquba
German secret service mediating between Israel and Hizbollah: report
Georgia leader denies plans to use force against breakaway regions
Georgian President Vows No Military Plans in Breakaway Regions
US Lawmakers Urge Direct US-North Korea Talks
Rice Discusses North Korea With Russian Leaders
Rice, Russia's Putin discuss N. Korea, nuclear non-proliferation
No reason to treat N. Korea as nuclear power-FM Lavrov
Rice Doubts North Korean Pledge Against More Nuclear Tests
FM spokesman: Iran to be lauded rather than being sanctioned
Iran says could discuss uranium enrichment suspension at talks
Mullah Omar Promises More Attacks In Afghanistan
Iran asks EU to explain why it should stop uranium enrichment
Russia objects to using UN Security Council to punish Iran
Russia Will Oppose Any Security Council Resolution Punishing Iran
COMUSAFE builds on U.S.-Romania relationship
Navy Reserve Support Critical for USS Michigan Conversion
20 Tamil Tigers killed in fresh battle with Lankan navy
ACE Maintenance Control Ensures High Performance
Rumsfeld Reaffirms U.S. Promise to Republic of Korea
Army Strong campaign attracts recruits in many ways
15 Killed as Police, Shi'ite Militias Clash in Southern Iraq
"Steel Hammer" Stays Safe During SRA
USS Harpers Ferry To Transport Donated Ambulances to Southern...
Rocket scientists gather at space propulsion program review
DR Congo: UN-backed support group concerned at violence ahead of elections
Eritrean-Ethiopian border zone is volatile after troop deployment, says UN
Security Council must take over Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts...
US Official: Somalia Must Not Continue as Terrorist Safe Haven
SUDAN: Armed group kills 42 civilians
SOMALIA: War of words over Islamic Courts’ role
Issue of arms supplies to Hizbollah closed - Russia's Ivanov
Gunmen Kill 8 Afghan Workers at US Base in Afghanistan
53 gunmen killed, 300 surrender in Chechnya in 2006 - police chief
Sudan Denies Its Forces Are Demoralized in Darfur
UN Calls 'Time-Out' in Guatemala-Venezuela Battle for Security Council Seat
New Iranian Threats Set Off Alarm Bells in Israel
Russia's Ivanov, U.S. Rice to discuss N. Korea
Japan Considers Military Role in Possible North Korean Ship Inspections
US, China Urge North Korea to Return to Nuclear Talks
Tehran warns against threats, pressure on nuclear issue
Iran president says UN Security Council irrelevant
Ahmadinejad: UN Security Council's Iran Nuclear Decisions Illegitimate
Air Power Supports Ground Forces in Terror War, Civilians Learn
China Promises Constructive Role on Iran
DPR Korea, Middle East nations urged to join UN-affiliated body on chemical
Harpers Ferry, 31st MEU Successfully Complete NEO
III MEF Visits Essex
Ronald Reagan Reaches Aviation Milestone With 20,000 Arrested Landings
COMUSAFE: unmanned aircraft key to future decision superiority
Operation Deep Freeze LC-130 arrives at Hickam
State Department Official Explains Military Commissions
Japan's Lower House Approves Extension of Afghan Naval Mission
Barge Sets Sail for Iraqi Oil Platforms
Balad combat weather flight ensures safe travel
World: Rogue Nuclear Programs Threaten New Arms Race
Iran: EU Supports Gradual Sanctions Against Tehran
President defends transparency of Iranian nuclear program
US, S. Korea Search for Ways to Implement UN Sanctions on North
Bush Warns North Korea Against Sharing Nuclear Weapons
Chinese Envoy Meets With N. Korean Leader Ahead of Rice Visit to Beijing
China And North Korea Hold 'Very Significant' Talks
US Acknowledges Baghdad Security Plan in Trouble
Rice Emphasizes Diplomatic Approach to North Korea Crisis
North Korea Says it Will Not Give Terrorists Nuclear Weapons
International Envoys Work to Revive Sri Lanka Peace Talks
Abbas to Form New Government in West Bank, Gaza Strip
DR Congo: UN mission condemns attacks, calls for restraint ahead of elections
Top UN envoy says only dialogue with all parties in the Middle East will bring...
UN receives reports of deadly Government bombing in Darfur, arrest of aid...
SOMALIA: Contact group meets Somali parties
SUDAN-UGANDA: At least six civilians killed in southern Sudan ambushes
Raytheon Awarded $36 Million Contract for Radio Communication Systems
Car Bomb, Mortar Fire Claim Casualties in Northern Iraq
Northrop Grumman Signs Agreement with U.S. Air Force to Develop Network...
Georgia, France sign 2007 military cooperation plan
Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic stands up at NAS Oceana
MiTT training grows at Fort Riley
New command ready for unique mission
U.S., French Defense Chiefs Meet at Pentagon
Stavridis Becomes First Sailor in Charge of U.S. Southern Command
Joint Forces Experiment Looks at Gaps in Urban Warfare
U.S., South Korean Officials to Discuss Security, Force Realignment
SINCGARS Radio System Remains Secure, Expert Says
Coalition Supports Iraq Security Forces During Ramadan Violence
AFGHANISTAN: Five years after the Taliban, Afghans take stock
South African President Ends Ivory Coast Mediation

Read more ...
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