More to the Nukes Over America story?

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Several New Mexico bloggers have already hit on the absurdity of a B-52 flying hafway across the country with nuclear weapons aboard, but Larry Johnson at TPM Cafe starts asking the right questions:

So I called a old friend and retired B-52 pilot and asked him. What he told me offers one compelling case of circumstantial evidence. My buddy, let’s call him Jack D. Ripper, reminded me that the only times you put weapons on a plane is when they are on alert or if you are tasked to move the weapons to a specific site.

Then he told me something I had not heard before.

Barksdale Air Force Base is being used as a jumping off point for Middle East operations. Gee, why would we want cruise missile nukes at Barksdale Air Force Base. Can’t imagine we would need to use them in Iraq. Why would we want to preposition nuclear weapons at a base conducting Middle East operations?

His final point was to observe that someone on the inside obviously leaked the info that the planes were carrying nukes. A B-52 landing at Barksdale is a non-event. A B-52 landing with nukes. That is something else.

Interesting. More here.

Hooray clandestine Bush tactics

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Lot’s of news regarding Iran this weekend. Most of it is from a new Seymour Hersh article (via Think Progress):

In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.

The other story (hat tip to Josh Marshall) is from the Sunday Times:

SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”

Bill Richardson with WaPo OpEd

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Via Matt Yglesias (who wrote about the Richardson candidacy earlier this week) comes this Richardson-penned column:

The recent tentative agreement with North Korea over its nuclear program illustrates how diplomacy can work even with the most unsavory of regimes. Unfortunately, it took the Bush administration more than six years to commit to diplomacy. During that needless delay North Korea developed and tested nuclear weapons — weapons its leaders still have not agreed to dismantle. Had we engaged the North Koreans earlier, instead of calling them “evil” and talking about “regime change,” we might have prevented them from going nuclear. We could have, and should have, negotiated a better agreement, and sooner.

Then on to Iran:

No nation has ever been forced to renounce nuclear weapons, but many have chosen to do so. The Iranians will not end their nuclear program because we threaten them and call them names. They will renounce nukes because we convince them that they will be safer and more prosperous if they do that than if they don’t. This feat will take more than threats and insults. It will take skillful American diplomatic leadership.

Matt continues with the “He’d make a good cabinet secretary” theme:

I don’t know what kind of campaign strategy this is, but maybe he can be Secretary of State or some kind of special envoy.

The Fine Print

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The usually insightful Clay Benntt, at the Christian Science Monitor.

Josh Marshall has some incredible insights of his own, regarding Bush Co. attempts to mislead us into another war cook the intelligence again prove Iran is supplying arms to our enemies in Iraq:

Now, given the black market traffic in arms in Iraq right now, it’s not at all a stretch to believe that weapons are dispersing from Iranian proxies like SCIRI (who we’re holding up as our allies) through black market channels to Sunni insurgents who are in turn using them against US troops. Indeed, it seems like a more probable theory than the conclusion that the Iranians are acting in concert with the Sunni militants who are involved in an on-going campaign of indiscriminate slaughter of Iraqi Shi’a civilians.

So, to summarize, as Gen. Pace said, we seem to know that Iranian-made weapons are turning up in Iraq and being used against Americans.

For context, how many US-made weapons do you think are now being used against US forces. Indeed, how much US weaponry sent to Iraq specifically by the US are in turn being used by insurgents against US forces.

Please, please before we attack another country can we at least make sure (and actually be sure, not be lying about it) that the country poses a real threat?

War with Iran

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This is a little out of the neighborhood, but Ken Silverstein has the first of a three-part series online regarding the possibility of war with Iran. Today
features thoughts from independent analysts.

A. Richard Norton:

Remember that in 1990–91 and then again in 2003 the very fact that the United States assembled a formidable array of forces in the Gulf region became an argument for using those forces and launching wars. The United States will soon have two carrier task forces on station, and perhaps a third carrier task force will soon be deployed. It will be difficult for the United States to step down from its combative perch without Iran accepting some fairly significant concessions.

While many leading Iranian officials fully understand the gravity of the situation, it is nonetheless possible to imagine a series of real or contrived clashes that lead, perhaps unintentionally, to a serious aerial and naval campaign against Iran. Or—to put it simply—to yet another U.S. war of choice.

Wayne White:

I am extremely wary of a military campaign against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. If military action is taken against that infrastructure, there would be nothing “surgical” about the proceedings. The airstrikes associated with contingency planning suggest that such maneuvers, in addition to hitting a number of widely dispersed atomic-development targets, would have to take out much of Iran’s air defenses in order to clear paths to the targets.

Bahman Baktiari:

As of last year, for the first time, a majority of Iraqi Shiites support armed attacks on U.S.-led forces,  and if the United States attacks Iran, Iraqi Shiite militias will direct their anger at American soldiers and military personnel. Beyond this, we need to recognize that Iran has a complex political system and a young, critical society.

Two years is plenty of time to keep screwing things up

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Digby on Iran:

I feel, once again, as if I’m watching this take place under water. It’s all there, I can see it, but it’s all a bit distorted and everything is moving in slow motion. I’m screaming, but it comes out muffled and imprecise. The Bush administration is provoking a war with Iran, in real time, on television and we are just watching it happen.

This whole Iran thing seems to have come out of nowhere during the last few weeks, but Josh might be right about the reasoning behind all of this:

This is the hinge on which everything now turns. Bush doesn’t want to be to blame for the mess in Iraq. So it has to be Iran. There’s a bright line leading from the crisis of accountability to the next stage of strategic disaster.

Will Bush will do anything and everything (including attack Iran) to avoid taking responsibility for his presidency the November elections the mess in Iraq?

Cheney is the final sacrifice — the last layer between Bush and the disapproving public, the skeptical media, and the angry Democrats. In one sense, having him there has always provided Bush a human (and humanizing-by-contrast) buffer against the hordes who oppose him and his policies. To sacrifice Cheney is therefore to have sunk to but one level above the very bottom, the core of the presidency itself. When Cheney goes on television, as he did last week with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, proclaiming the Iraq war a success, he demonstrates that he is either (a) unhinged from reality; or (b) playing a willing role in his own, inevitable discrediting and marginalization.

Under either scenario, his neck is moving slowly but inevitably toward the noose. Somebody, after all, has to pay for the complete collapse of the Republican majority and the conservative agenda. And since Bush himself has never paid the price of his own failures in life, it is Cheney who will pay for them next.