Tuesday, March 31, 2009

An Airway Heights Corrections Center inmate found dead earlier this month participated in Cold War-era testicular shock experiments that led to a federal lawsuit.

Labeled a “psychopathic delinquent” as a teenager, George D. Taté spent most of his adult life in the Washington prison system. He was convicted on a “carnal knowledge” charge for molesting a 7-year-old girl in 1967, then for first-degree rape in 1980.

Airway Heights guards found Taté unresponsive in his cell March 18 about 1 a.m. Medics declared him dead about 25 minutes later. He was 63.

Prison officials don’t believe his death was a suicide, said Risa Klemme, Airway Heights prison spokeswoman.

The Spokane County medical examiner’s office said an autopsy said the cause of death is unknown; that office is awaiting toxicology reports.

Klemme couldn’t comment on Taté’s medical condition, but his inmate photo shows him wearing sunglasses, which the prison allows only for medical reasons.

The prison experiments conducted by University of Washington professor and fertility expert C. Alvin Paulsen from 1963 to 1970 were detailed in a series of articles by The Spokesman-Review in 1994. The reporting led to federal lawsuits by the Seattle law firm Byrnes and Keller and a Philadelphia firm, Berger and Montague.

Plaintiffs complained of health problems from the tests, which were funded by the U.S Atomic Energy Commission to study the effect of radiation on fertility for men in war, outer space and nuclear power plants. They were halted in 1970 by the first woman to run the research division of the state prison system, Audrey Holliday, who called them Nazi-like, according to previous published reports.

A Clinton administration review panel condemned the experiments in 1995.

About two dozen participants were paid $30,000 to $40,000 each as part of a $2.4 million settlement in 2000, but Taté never got a dime, federal court records show.

A federal judge excluded him from the payouts after determining that despite participating in the experiment, Tate’s testicles were never X-rayed, unlike 64 other inmates, court documents show.

He’d been paid $15 to participate, according to a consent form Taté signed in 1969 that’s included in court filings.

Taté was transferred to Airway Heights from Stafford Creek Corrections Center in June 2001. He was released from prison on the carnal knowledge charge but reoffended weeks later and was sent back to prison on a first-degree rape charge in 1980, according to the Washington Department of Corrections.

He was scheduled to be released next March.

Taté entered Western State Hospital in 1962 under an order from the Grays Harbor County Superior Court, then was recommitted to the mental hospital in 1966 by the Cowlitz County Superior Court, court records show.

Records show Taté was married to a woman named Linda Sue Martin Taté, who worked on his lawsuit and wrote court filings to prove he’d undergone testicular radiation.

She wrote that her husband’s “pubic hairs fell out and he experienced severe pain in his scrotum for several months after one of their experiments on him,” according to the document.

Linda Taté couldn’t be reached for comment, and it’s unclear whether the two stayed married.

In a November 2000 court filing, she said she’d been working to prove her husband’s innocence for seven years.

“Vital information which would show Mr. Taté in a more favorable light and even clear him of infractions is suspiciously not in his public record,” the document reads.

Meghann M. Cuniff can be reached at (509) 459-5534 or at meghannc@spokesman.com

Thursday, March 26, 2009

American Cold War Veterans To Meet In Washington
The American Cold War Veterans, a two year old Veterans Service Organization, will hold
their annual meeting in Washington, DC April 30th and May 1st.

If you were in the military during the Cold War, from Sept. 1945 to Dec. 1941 Please join us in Washington for this special event.

The April 30th general meeting is open to anyone interested in the Cold War, our continued pursuit of a Cold War Victor/Service Medal. We have been attempting to convince Congressto authorize and DIRECT the Department of Defense to issue this medal for several years. Last year a provision was included in the House of Representatives version of the National Defense Authorization Act 2009; but was stripped from the bill during House/Senate debate.

Also being discussed will be long range plans for a memorial dedicated to The Forgotten Heroes Of The Cold War. Which we hope to have erected in the Washington, DC. area

Another goal is to persuade Congress to declare May 1st of every year as a Day Of Remembrance Of The Cold War.

This meeting will be held at the Best Western Rosslyn/Iwo Jima 1501 Arlington Blvd Arlington, VA 2209-3001 Phone: 800-424-1521 or 703-524-5000, ask for group sales and mention American Cold War Veterans to receive the group rate.

May 1st American Cold War Veterans will be hosting a Congressional Continental Breakfast from 8:00AM to 10:00AM in room 902 of the Hart Senate Office Building. Then from 10:00 to 11:15 we hope you will visit your Senators and Congressmen/Congresswomen. It would be best to arrange a meeting with you elected officials in advance with as much advance as possible.

At 11:30 we will travel to Arlington National Cemetery. There the American Cold War
Veterans will host a ceremony to honor The Forgotten Heroes of the Cold War. The ceremony begins at 12:00 PM, following the ceremony will visit some of the graves of our Forgotten Heroes and place flowers of Remembrance. in their honor,

You then can visit the Korea War, Vietnam War, World War II, Laos and other memorials

If you are interested please cotact Chairman Sean Eagn at sean.eagan@gmail.com
Vice Chairman Jerald Terilliger at jerterw@gmail.com
Membership Director Scott L'Ecuyer at scott.lecuyer@gmail.com
As soon as possible.

Jerald Terwilliger
National Vice Chairman/Treasurer
American Cold War Veterans

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

By M K Bhadrakumar

Curiously, it had to be on the fateful day when Russia had begun brooding over former president Boris Yeltsin's final, ambivalent legacy that US Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived on his first official visit to Moscow.

Hardly had Yeltsin, archetypal symbol of post-Soviet Russia's "Westernism", departed than Gates, one of spymaster John le Carre's "Smiley's people", arrived on a mission to let the Kremlin know that no matter Russian sensitivities, Washington was going ahead with its deployment of missile-defense systems along Russia's borders. Gates reminded the Russians how little had changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Gates and Putin in Moscow

Yet how different Russia is in comparison with the Soviet Union that Gates spied on. Yeltsin was being buried in Moscow's Novodevichy Cemetery, the final resting place of Russia's heroes, beside the grave of Raisa Gorbacheva, the wife of Yeltsin's bitterest political adversary Mikhail Gorbachev - something inconceivable in the annals of Soviet history.

Gates' mission was clear-cut. The Russians must realize that in the past two decades since Gorbachev wound up the Warsaw Pact and Yeltsin unilaterally disbanded the Soviet Union, Russia never was, never could have been, and just wouldn't be accommodated in the common Western home - certainly not until the home was thoroughly refurbished with American decor, for habitation by post-modern Europeans.

The missile-defense controversy has gone beyond a mere Russian-US spat. It is assuming three distinct templates. First, profound issues of arms control have arisen, and along with that the role of nuclear weapons in security policies gets pronounced. Most certainly, the controversy relates to the United States' trans-Atlantic leadership in the post-Cold War era. And, finally, quintessentially, it is all about the United States' global dominance, of which the unfolding Great Game in the Eurasian theaters forms the salience.

The ABC of missile defense

The missile-defense controversy assumed a habitation and a name on April 18, when the US State Department released in Washington a "Fact Sheet" detailing the technical parameters of the deployments that the US is contemplating in Poland and the Czech Republic. It said that the US is planning to field 10 long-range ground-based missile interceptors in Poland and a mid-course radar in the Czech Republic to counter the growing threat of missile attacks from the Middle East.

The Fact Sheet revealed that the approximate size of each interceptor missile site (in Poland) and radar site (in the Czech Republic) will be 275 hectares and 30 hectares respectively, and that US military and civilian personnel numbering 200 and 150 would be deployed in each of the interceptor sites and radar sites.
It said the interceptor missiles will be stored in underground silos in Poland and each base will have facilities for electronic equipment for secure communication, missile assembly, storage, maintenance and security. "They [missiles] carry no warheads of any type, relying instead on their kinetic energy alone to collide with and destroy incoming warheads. Silos constructed for deployment of defensive interceptors are substantially smaller than those used for offensive purposes. Any conversion would require extensive modifications, thus precluding the possibility of converting the interceptor silos for use by offensive missiles," it said.

The Fact Sheet explained that intercepts occur at very high altitudes (above the atmosphere) with the vast majority of the threat warhead and the interceptor reduced to small pieces that burn on re-entry. "A few small pieces may survive, but pose little threat to people and property. The odds of damage or injury from an intercept are very small. European interceptors would not be used for flight tests, and would only launch during an actual attack on the United States or Europe," it said.

The US statement insisted that the missile-defense system has been proved effective through repeated testing and that 15 of the last 16 flight tests were successful.

The Fact Sheet attempted to substantiate the main US arguments in the missile defense controversy, which are: (a) the European missile shield is meant to counter possible attacks from Iran or North Korea; (b) the US is puzzled by Russia's anxiety, since the rockets to be deployed in Central Europe are no match for Russia's arsenal; (c) Russia itself should be worried about the missile threat from "rogue states"; (d) the US is prepared to cooperate with Russia on missile defense; (e) the US is open to the idea of merging the missile shield with the Russian system; (f) Washington would like Moscow to take part in research and development, though it is unlikely the Russians will consider such cooperation; and (g) the US has endeavored to be "transparent" and is prepared to hold consultations with Russia to explain its case for the deployments in Central Europe.

Prima facie, the US stance sounds eminently reasonable and conciliatory. But the Russians point out that ever since December 13, 2001, when President George W Bush announced that the US was unilaterally pulling out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, Washington has followed a consistent pattern of deploying along Russian borders radars capable of spotting missile launches and sending targeting data to interceptors. (The first such radar, code-named Have Stare, was stationed in Norway.)

Russia says these deployments by far predated Bush's "axis of evil" thesis or the threat perceptions of "rogue states" such as Iran. Russian experts explain that neither Iran nor North Korea could possibly have the scientific or technical capability within the next 20-30 years to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the US. Thus Moscow concludes that the real purpose of the US deployment is to cover the European part of Russia as far as the Urals.

Russia reacts

First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov told The Financial Times in an interview last week, "Since there aren't, and won't be, any ICBMs [with North Korea and Iran], then against whom, against whom, is this system directed? Only against us."

And on Thursday, Russia announced that it is considering withdrawing from the Soviet-era Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, under which NATO and the Warsaw Pact agreed to reduce their conventional armed forces at the end of the Cold War. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had failed to implement the treaty, President Vladimir Putin said, and unless it did so, Russia would dump it unilaterally. Putin described the US defense plan as a "direct threat".

Moscow doubts the sincerity of US pledges to be cooperative with Russia. Ivanov said, "I see no reasons for that," referring to the logic of Russian-US cooperation in missile defense. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov derisively said at a press conference on Tuesday in Luxembourg, "We are against any proposal that turns Europe into a playground for someone. We do not want to play these games."

Clearly, the Russians are also not taken in by the US plea that the proposed deployments in Central Europe are modest. As prominent Russian commentator Viktor Litovkin (editor of the Russian publication Independent Military Review) put it, "It would be naive to think that Washington will limit its appetites to Poland and the Czech Republic, or to the modest potential that it is now talking about."

He continued, "Nobody can guarantee that there will not 20, then 100, or even more of them [interceptor missiles] or that they will not be replaced with their upgraded versions that are being developed in the US." Besides, Russian experts have assessed that the US may expand this system in future to include sea-based elements and space-based monitoring equipment.

In the words of the chief of the Russian Air Force Staff, General Boris Cheltsov, the proposed US deployments have "the potential to destroy Russian strategic nuclear forces at the most vulnerable stage: the initial, ascending leg of the trajectory".

The "asymmetrical" countermeasures being debated by Russian experts in recent weeks include shortening the boost phase of Russian missiles by converting liquid-fueled missiles to solid-propellant ones; enhancing the maneuvering capacity of the missiles both in the vertical and horizontal planes; using depressed trajectories that practically never rise above the dense layers of the atmosphere; and so on.

Gates, who met with Putin on April 24, invited Moscow to cooperate on a host of issues related to the missile-defense system. In his public comments, Gates gave a positive spin to his discussions at the Kremlin. He said he was ending his visit on a "very positive tone ... We made some real headway in clearing up some misunderstanding about the technical characteristics of the system that are of concern to the Russians."

But Russia's top brass reacted swiftly to Gates' upbeat tone, maintaining that the proposed US deployments in Central Europe are aimed at Russia and that there is hardly any scope for cooperation. The chief of the Russian General Staff, General Yury Baluyevsky, said: "The real goal [of the US deployment] is to protect [the US] from Russian and Chinese nuclear-missile potential and to create exclusive conditions for the invulnerability of the United States."

He warned that Moscow will monitor the US deployments closely, and "if we see that these installations pose a threat to Russia's national security, they will be targeted by our forces. What measures we are going to use - strategic, nuclear or other - is a technical issue."

All the same, the Russian reaction has been restrained. The Kremlin seems to have a pragmatic diplomatic strategy in mind. As Putin has said, the Russian reaction may be "asymmetrical" but highly effective. Evidently, Putin is averse to getting on to a collision course with Washington. His priorities at the moment are that he remain focused on the development of Russia's economy and on the acute social problems affecting Russia's progress. In the final year of his presidency, Putin is conscious of his political legacy.

Russian politics are increasingly revolving around the change of leadership at the Kremlin next March. Meanwhile, the US presidential campaign has begun. As Moscow would see it, traditionally, a "hardline" policy toward Russia wins more support for the US Republican Party.

Objectively speaking, Russian-US relations have no reason to deteriorate the way they did during the Cold War. The two countries are not hostile toward each other. On the contrary, they need to cooperate on a variety of issues of common concern, such as terrorism and nuclear proliferation, including the Iran and North Korea nuclear issues. Their economic ties are also increasing.

All the same, significant rifts exist in Russian-US relations and the missile-defense controversy has "plunged relations with Russia to their lowest since the end of the Cold War", to quote The Guardian. Behind the facade of the conciliatory noises during Gates' visit to Moscow, unnamed US officials accompanying the defense secretary are quoted as saying, "We're going to continue to make this effort with Russia, but we're also very clear, whether Russia cooperates with us or not is really up to Russia." The feeling in Moscow is that the US has reneged on an agreement after the collapse of the Soviet Union to abandon Cold War politics.

US rallies European support

Moscow feels disheartened to note that US diplomacy has largely succeeded in getting NATO on board. After a special meeting in Brussels on April 19 at NATO headquarters with high-level representatives from Washington, which was followed by a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, it was announced that NATO has a united missile-defense approach; that the territory of all member countries must be protected from missile threats; that the threat of missile attacks is real; and that the US deployments in Central Europe "would not affect the strategic balance with Russia".

Of course, beneath the veneer of unity, it appears there are differences. German Deputy Foreign Minister Gernot Erler told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper on Wednesday that at least six NATO allies, including Germany, had raised doubts about the project at the NATO meeting on April 19.

But the discussion among NATO allies is no longer between the "new" and the "old" Europeans, as Russian commentators would have us believe. The German daily Handelsblatt pointed out that the issue now is whether the planned US system can protect all of Europe or not. It added, "So far it can't ... But if the US can offer a working missile shield for a viable price that would also include southern Europe, the resistance in most European countries will fall away."

Indeed, there is a considerable body of skeptics who feel, like Philip Coyle, a weapons testing and evaluation specialist who served in the administration of US president Bill Clinton, the US missile-defense system is "like trying to hit a hole in one in golf ... [when] the hole is going 15,000 miles an hour [24,000 km/h] ... as if the hole and the green were both going 15,000 mph, the green covered with black circles, and you do not know what to aim for". Yet, Coyle admits, "If Russia were installing missile-defense systems in Canada or Cuba, we [Washington] would react much the same way. We are surrounding them and getting closer to their territorial boundaries."

On the other hand, Washington is counting on the shift to the right in the locus of European politics. It is much to Moscow's disadvantage that Nicolas Sarkozy is on course to succeed Jacques Chirac as French president. That leaves Romano Prodi in Rome as the lone ranger from Moscow's side. Moscow would have assessed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is already playing for time. She refuses to be pinned down on the missile-defense controversy. In essence, Merkel believes in the benefits of closer trans-Atlantic cooperation.

Der Spiegel reported last week in an exclusive report that Merkel, Bush and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso have agreed to set up a wide-ranging economic partnership between the European Union and the United States that "would have the aim of dismantling the non-tariff barriers to trade". The German daily revealed that a confidential draft has already been drawn up for a treaty establishing a "new trans-Atlantic economic partnership" that will be signed at the EU-US summit in Washington next week.

The rationale behind the initiative, which originated from Washington, is that Western governments must act quickly to combat the rise of China ("dark superpower") and Asia. To quote Der Spiegel, "The role NATO played in an age of military threat could be played by a trans-Atlantic free-trade zone in today's age of economic confrontation. The two economic zones - EU and the US (perhaps with the addition of Canada) - could stem the dwindling of Western market power by joining forces. Together the Europeans and the Americans are still a force to be reckoned with. Representing about 13% of the world's population and 60% of today's global economic power, they stand ready to act as producers and consumers not only of goods, but also of values." Interestingly, Merkel used her keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in January to push for closer trans-Atlantic economic links.

Clearly, Washington has reason to be confident that the residual opposition in Europe to US missile-defense deployments, too, may prove to be nebulous. Meanwhile, Russia's relations with the EU as such have entered a difficult phase. In a recent speech, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, a highly respected voice of moderation in Europe, bemoaned that mistrust and a lack of respect in relations between the EU and Russia are at their worst since the Cold War. "Unless we comprehend our different perceptions of the landscape left behind by the last century, we risk getting the EU-Russia relationship badly wrong," he said.

The EU's blueprint of its new Central Asia strategy, to be adopted at the EU summit in June, will likely be viewed in Moscow as an unwelcome encroachment, especially given its thrust on developing energy cooperation with the region by bypassing Russian transportation routes.

In immediate terms, a virtual EU-Russia standoff is building up over Kazakhstan's participation in a US$6 billion gas-pipeline project that is an extension of the South Caucasus pipeline, linking Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, and which is expected to run from Turkey to Austria via Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. The 3,400-kilometer pipeline across the Caspian bypassing Russia, which is to be built from early next year so as to go on stream in 2011, will have a capacity of 30 billion cubic meters and promises to be a rival to Russian Gazprom's Blue Stream-2 (scheduled to be commissioned in 2012).

Moscow is well aware that Washington is the driving spirit behind the EU's energy policy toward Central Asia. Washington calculates that Moscow will be inexorably drawn into a standoff with the EU over the latter's increasingly proactive policies in Eurasia.

Without doubt, there are contradictory tendencies in trans-Atlantic relations. Of course, there is a degree of queasiness in Europe about US power and influence on the continent in the post-Cold War era. Much of Europe doesn't think that the US missile-defense system works, let alone that an apocalyptic Iranian threat exists. Even in Poland and the Czech Republic there is widespread public opposition to the US deployments. The major European capitals resent that Washington is negotiating bilaterally with Warsaw and Prague, as if a coherent European security and defense policy independent of NATO is never achievable for Europe.

The European sensibility watches with dismay that not only has the EU dream of a big, peaceful post-modern federation receded but the specter of new Cold War-like divisions has begun haunting Europe. Many in Europe would agree with Gorbachev when he said last week that the missile-defense controversy "is all about influence and domination".

To be sure, trans-Atlantic relations are undergoing a major transformation. Despite all the talk of kindred values and similar social systems, the US is no longer supportive of the European project of integration. True, the Americans were at one time the promoters of the European project. But now they have developed distaste for the idea of European integration. And the Europeans remain uneasy about US "unilateralism".

On the other hand, Europe also faces an identity crisis. The Berlin Declaration, which was adopted last month on the 50th anniversary of the European Economic Community, completely overlooked the objective of the pan-European project. Translated into EU-Russia relations, all this means is that neither side seems to know what it wants from the other side. As things stand, it is highly unlikely that the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement of 1999 between the EU and Russia, which expires at the end of this year, will be extended or replaced by a new treaty.

Arms race in the making?

After Gates' mission to Moscow, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Sergei Kislyak warned that the controversy has the potential to create obstacles to the development of bilateral relations for a long time. "It will be a strategic irritant for years to come," he said. Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov went a step further: "The Russian position on this issue remains unchanged. The strategic missile defense system is a serious destabilizing factor that could have significant impact on regional and global security" (emphasis added).

Serdyukov's reference to "global security" gives an altogether different dimension to the missile-defense controversy. Russian experts feel that the deployment of the missile-defense system is the first step in a carefully thought-out US strategy toward overcoming the mutual strategic deterrence that formed the basis of Russian-US strategic stability in the Cold War era.

They estimate that Washington's unilateral withdrawal from the 1972 ABM Treaty formed part of a series of unilateral actions in simultaneously building up the United States' offensive forces (not
only nuclear but also non-nuclear precision attack systems) and active defense assets, including missile-defense systems. In short, they apprehend that the US is aiming at replacing the "balance of terror" with total military superiority.

Besides, Russian experts estimate that the Bush administration has created a selective arms-control situation. Writing in the Russian military journal Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, the influential director of the USA and Canada Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, academician Sergei Rogov, pointed out last month in a lengthy article that the Bush administration has been selectively abrogating arms-control treaties that it considers as interfering with the United States' "military organizational development".

Sergei Rogov

"But if agreements limit Moscow to a greater extent than Washington, then they continue to be in force, i.e., strategic stability based on 'mutual nuclear deterrence' is being impaired gradually, step by step," Rogov wrote. That is to say, the Bush administration has been "building up US military superiority and weakening Russia's nuclear deterrence potential".

However, Rogov pointed out, "The deployment of space-based weapons cannot begin earlier than the second half of the next decade. On the whole, the echeloned, multi-tiered strategic missile defense system, including relatively effective ground-based, sea-based, air-based and space-based intercept assets, will take on real outlines in the 2020s, but the process of its formation most likely will drag on right up until the middle of this century. We repeat that all this will require a solution to a large number of very difficult technical problems as well as a manifold increase in funding."

Rogov noted that Moscow already has its own missile-defense system with 100 interceptor missiles, and its S-300 and S-400 air-defense assets also have specific capabilities for intercepting missiles. In other words, Moscow can draw comfort that the situation of "mutual assured destruction" will prevail for at least the next 10-15 years in Russian-US relations. Rogov argues that in the interim, instead of knee-jerk reactions or resorting to "a ruinous arms race", Russia must coolly ensure through mutually reinforcing politico-diplomatic and military-technical steps that the overall strategic balance with the US based on "mutual nuclear deterrence" is preserved.

From this perspective, Rogov proposed several measures in the nature of Russia accelerating its program for outfitting its Strategic Nuclear Forces with weapons systems capable of penetrating the US missile-defense system. He suggested that the road-mobile Topol-M ICBM be fitted with MIRVs (maneuverable re-entry vehicles). Again, Russia must concentrate on precision air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) capable of destroying missile-defense facilities. Russia's present fleet of Tu-95MS and Tu-160 strategic bombers and Tu-22M3 medium bombers are potentially capable of carrying about 1,500 ALCMs. Rogov argued that measures such as these will be cost-effective insofar as mass production of ICBMs and ALCMs will cost less than US$1 billion per year - a tiny fraction of the US expenditure in developing the missile-defense system.

Rogov also called for an "auditing" of the arms-control agreements that Russia inherited from the Soviet era so that a cool assessment is made as to how Russia's interests will be served by the preservation of these agreements in their present form. He wrote, "Who needs such selective arms control? We will support 'mutual nuclear deterrence', playing a game without rules like the Americans, as at the height of the Cold War before 1972."

Talking to the Russian media on Thursday after Gates' talks in Moscow, Rogov said Russia and the US "are still hostages of mutual nuclear intimidation ... We are on the brink of a new 'cold war' if one looks closely at our present-day relations." He warned that unless the negative tendencies in Russian-US relations are arrested soon, "I do not rule out that at the 2008 presidential elections in the US, both Republicans and Democrats may bring forward a thesis on the need for a Russia-containment policy."

The new cold war

Moscow has repeatedly warned in the recent period that enough is enough and that it is not prepared to be pushed around anymore. There is deep resentment over NATO's continued expansion in contravention of promises held out to Moscow that this would not happen. But ignoring Russian sensitivities on this score, Bush signed a new law on April 10 (the NATO Freedom Consolidation Act of 2007) urging admission of Albania, Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia and Ukraine into the alliance and authorizing new funding for military training and equipment for them.

Washington is also aggressively pursuing a policy of rollback of Russian influence in the former Soviet republics. On the same day that the new law on NATO expansion was signed, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the media that Washington has "tried to make very clear to Russia ... that the days when these [Commonwealth of Independent States] states were part of the Soviet Union are gone, they're not coming back." Already by the end of 2007, Georgia is poised to start its NATO-membership program. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has said, "We expect to receive the status of an official NATO candidate in the next few months."

Again, Washington's line on the status of the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo has hardened. Senior US officials have threatened that regardless of Russian opposition, and whether the United Nations Security Council agrees or not, Washington proposes to go ahead and recognize Kosovo's independence. There is also a distinctly familiar pattern in the sustained political turmoil in Kyrgyzstan bankrolled from Washington. The instability in Kyrgyzstan has added significance for Russia insofar as Bishkek is expected to host the next summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Moscow maintains an air of passivity but is deeply concerned. In a thinly veiled reference to the US backing for the so-called "color revolutions", the secretary general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, General Nikolai Bordyuzha, said in a speech in Almaty on April 19, "Today, it is not only Afghanistan that the entire post-Soviet space is concerned about. There is a problem of the export of revolutions - the problem of attempts to intentionally bring about their elements. And we can see it. Today, there are recognizable people, exporters of revolution, the so-called contemporary revolutionaries - new Che Guevaras - in the post-Soviet space."

Russia and Central Asia

The change of leadership in Turkmenistan has opened a window of opportunity for the US to make overtures to Ashgabat. Significantly, the new Turkmen leader, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, chose Saudi Arabia for his first visit abroad. The EU has already offered the new Turkmen leadership 1.7 million euros ($2.3 million) for undertaking a feasibility study on a trans-Caspian gas-pipeline project that would obviate the need for Turkmen gas to be exported via Russia.

The US is using the EU to curry favor with Uzbekistan and somehow let bygones be bygones. The EU is showing signs of getting down from its high horse and unilaterally dismantling tje sanctions regime that it imposed on Uzbekistan after the Andizhan incidents in May 2005. Again, the US is relentlessly working at loosening Russia's grip in the South Caucasus - Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

But the ferocity with which the US has reacted to the revival of Russian influence in Ukraine has no precedent. The Ukraine developments show that Washington is determined at any cost to surround Russia with a ring of countries that are hostile to it. Washington has assessed that, if only by subverting the constitutional processes and by discrediting the fledgling political institutions (which are actually a legacy of the "Orange Revolution") the US can bring about "regime change" in Kiev, so be it.

The present turmoil began soon after Yulia Timoshenko, the darling of the "Orange Revolution", visited Washington two months ago and was received by senior US officials, including Rice. The stakes are indeed high in Ukraine. Unless Kiev is brought back under a subservient pro-American setup, how can Ukraine possibly become a NATO member and how can US missile-defense systems be deployed on Ukrainian soil, given widespread opposition to the idea among the people of that country?

Professor Stephen Cohen, the venerable doyen of Sovietologists, recently surveyed the topsoil of the newly dug trenches in Russian-US rivalry: "Relations between Russia and the United Sates are very bad at present. I think we're already seeing a cold war. At least, that is America's policy on Russia. Your country [Russia] is being fairly passive. Understandably, the Kremlin doesn't want to escalate tension again. But it isn't clear that the Kremlin is capable of preventing that. Much will depend on how NATO's relations with Ukraine and Georgia develop. This is the new front of the new Cold War."

It is appropriate that the working group set up on Thursday as a joint initiative by Putin and Bush, against the backdrop of these growing tensions, focus on relations between the two great powers, will be headed as co-chairmen by two formidable veterans of the Cold War era - Henry Kissinger and Yevgeny Primakov.

Yet the People's Daily might well have had a point when it commented last week with an acerbic tone of detachment and disdain, "The core of the US-Russian oral spat is a conflict of interests. Naturally, both countries want maximum benefits. That explains why the US supports anti-government forces within Russia, promotes 'democracy' - a one-sided wish - in foreign lands, continues to support eastern expansion of NATO, and asks for missile-defense deployment in Eastern Europe, while Russia exercises a measured US policy. It can be predicted that, facing US attacks, Russian-US ties featuring both contention and cooperation will not change in the short term."

M K Bhadrakumar served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for more than 29 years, with postings including ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-98) and to Turkey (1998-2001).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Two US reporters detained by North Korean troops


TWO AMERICAN journalists were still missing yesterday after they were reportedly detained by North Korean troops for ignoring warnings to stop shooting footage of the secretive country. Journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who work for former US vice-president Al Gore’s online media outlet Current TV, were seized on Tuesday along the Chinese-North Korean border, along with their Chinese guide, while a third journalist, cameraman Mitch Koss, was not detained. The three were arrested near the Tumen River dividing North Korea and China. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing diplomatic sources, said North Korean soldiers took them into custody after they ignored orders to stop filming. The journalists have been blogging their progress using the online site Twitter, and the last entry from Ms Ling read: “Missing home.” The reporters were seeking to interview North Korean defectors hiding in China, and it was unclear whether they were seized in North Korean or Chinese territory – some reports said the soldiers came across the river to detain the journalists.

Tensions are running high on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang shows little willingness to resume six-party talks with South Korea, Russia, China, Japan and the US about its nuclear ambitions. Instead it has been making aggressive comments threatening South Korea and has declared its intention to shoot a satellite into space next month, which its neighbours believe is a cover for the test-fire of a long-range missile capable of reaching US soil.

US officials expressed concern to North Korean officials about the detentions and said they were working with the Chinese government to find out the whereabouts of the reporters.

North Korean Premier Kim Jong-Il was in Beijing for meetings this week with President Hu Jintao, and China remains North Korea’s last significant ally, even if relations have been strained in recent years.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said officials were investigating the issue. This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times

Canadian Press

CARP, Ont. - The Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum, is seeking donations from the public to finance renovations that will allow more people to visit the site.

Currently only 60 people are allowed in at any time, and the museum says it can't meet the demand from people wanting to see the once-secret bunker.

“It will take $1.5 million to retrofit the bunker so we can accommodate up to 500 visitors,” the museum said in a recent newsletter.

About 36,000 people visited the site last year, the museum's 10th anniversary.

The underground shelter in Carp, just west of Ottawa, was operated by the Defence Department for more than three decades, beginning in 1959, as a safe haven for top government officials in the event of nuclear war. Nicknamed after John Diefenbaker, prime minister at the time the facility was built, it was turned into a museum in 1998.

The project to increase its capacity involves changes to meet fire code regulations.

“By contributing to this cause, you'll help ensure that this Cold War artefact is preserved for all,” the museum said.

The Diefenbunker has already received support from the City of Ottawa, Trillium Foundation of Ontario and federal government, executive director Alexandra Badzak said in the newsletter.

The museum collects a wide variety of Cold War-related items. Highlighted in the newsletter is a 1950s children's board game called Uranium, in which players search for uranium deposits to strike it rich.

As well, the Cold War Store store sells games, books and other items, including a T-short with the slogan “One Nuclear Bomb Can Ruin Your Whole Day.”

Donations can be made via the website, www.diefenbunker.c

talented Australian scientist and his Communist colleague near a river in Sydney …

AUSTIN, Texas (AFP) – A brilliant, married Australian scientist about to depart for a job with Bell Laboratories in the United States is found dead by a river with the wife of a Communist colleague.

It appears they were poisoned.

Thus begins a mystery set in Australia during the Cold War and which continues to haunt people to this day. Aspiring detectives can now investigate the 1963 case and its many perspectives in an interactive format on the Internet.

"They never found out what killed them," Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology professor Rebecca Young said of Margaret Chandler and Gib Bogle.

"I wanted to find a creative way to tell the story; a way to show what might be possible."

Young tells a tale of the pair's demise in interactive style online at rebeccayoung.org.

The website overlays pictures, diagrams, and interviews to tell the story from the perspectives of police, witnesses and local media stories.

Chandler was a 29-year-old former nurse and a mother of two young children. She and her husband, Geoffrey, loved vintage cars and dachshund dogs.

Bogle was an acclaimed scientist credited with a significant role in developing a precursor to the laser.

Chandler and Bogle enjoyed one another's company at a "bohemian-themed" New Year's party that was part going away bash for the Bogles, whose wife stayed home to care for their ailing child.

There was chemistry between the pair and Chandler's husband was a believer in "free love," according to Young.

Bogle was to give Chandler a lift home after the party, but instead the two wound up dead on a bank of Lane Cove River in Sydney.

The cause of death was determined to be that their hearts and breathing stopped, but in which order wasn't determined.

"They had only just met; there was no suggestion they were going off to have sex," Young said. "People are still wondering whether it was a political murder, a crime of passion, or a strange accident."

Chandler's husband was considered a suspect, as were hydrogen sulfide fumes exuded from mangroves near the river.

Theories included that the killings were political, because Bogle's new US employer worked on anti-missile and anti-satellite systems and Bogle was helping create a futuristic "death ray."

Young was fascinated by the case. Her parents were members of that close scientific community and her mother would walk her dog with Chandler.

"After the deaths, my mom and dad would talk about it over the dinner table," Young said. "Being scientists, my parents would be very analytical, dissecting what could have happened."

Perspectives in the story lent themselves naturally to telling the story on the Internet, where visitors can easily shift between points along a time line, according to Young, who created the interactive story as a doctoral project.

"People in the same place at the same time gave different accounts of what happened," Young said, citing a tendency that routinely nettles crime solvers.

"It lent itself to a story told from different perspectives."

Young's online work was among finalists for best artistic new websites at South By Southwest Interactive awards this week in Austin, Texas.

"I think it's quite astonishing, really," Young said.

"It vindicates me having spent nights in front of a computer after the kids went to bed."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

White House caves in, won't force veterans to use private insurance

By DAVID GOLDSTEIN McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration on Wednesday abandoned a controversial plan to make veterans use private insurance to pay for costly treatments of combat-related injuries.Stung by the angry reaction to the proposal, the administration made the decision after a meeting between officials from 11 veterans advocacy groups and top White House officials."Our voices were heard," said Norbert Ryan, the president of the Military Officers Association of America. "They made the right decision on this."

The plan would have reversed a longstanding policy of providing government health coverage for all service-related injuries. Few details emerged beyond its reported savings of $540 million, however.Most veterans use private insurance only for health problems unrelated to their military service."This is a moral issue for us," said Paul Rieckhoff, the executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.What was most puzzling to experienced activists and others was that the White House floated the idea in the first place. Several said the administration came off as politically tone deaf to the importance of the issue."They've grabbed hold of the 'third rail' and they shouldn't have done this," said Rick Weidman, director of government relations for Vietnam Veterans of America. "If they had asked anyone informally, we would have informed them, 'Are you kidding? All hell will break loose.'"White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the intent of the plan had been to "maximize the resources available for veterans."He said, however, that President Barack Obama, who met with the veterans groups on Monday in their first trip to the White House, recognized their concern that it could "under certain circumstances, affect veterans and their families' ability to access health care."

A meeting on Wednesday afternoon with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel broke up without a resolution. By the time many of the same veterans advocates had reached Capitol Hill for a previously scheduled meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, the drama was over.Pelosi said the president, en route to California, had just called her from Air Force One to say the plan was off the table."We are pleased that he has heard our concerns and taken them to heart," said David Gorman, executive director of the Disabled American Veterans.Veterans groups were quick to praise the president for his proposed budget, which they said would provide more money for veterans' health care than ever before. They said they looked forward to working with the White House in the future.

The groups scored a second victory on Wednesday with the Pentagon's decision to phase out involuntary enlistments, also known as "stop loss." Rieckhoff called it a "huge day for veterans."The 11 veterans groups had written Obama last month to complain about the insurance plan.He invited them to the White House on Monday, where they met for an hour. Obama called for further discussions but didn't drop the idea.Outrage quickly grew in the veterans community and beyond. Media superstars across the spectrum from Jon Stewart to Rush Limbaugh expressed disbelief at the idea, and it resonated across political and cultural borders.

In a tide of phone calls and e-mails, angry veterans and family members wondered if the administration's next move might be to start charging military families for funerals.On Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans said making veterans pay for treatment of their war wounds and other service-related health problems violated the nation's "sacred duty."Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, the chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, pledged not to advance legislation to do what the White House had proposed.In a letter to Eric Shinseki, the secretary of veterans affairs, Republican Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri said, "This idea is irrational and callous to the almost 63,000 veterans living in my district and the more than half a million living in Missouri."Across the country, 25 million Americans have served in the military.Blunt called it "clearly an affront to the VA's mission statement reflecting President Lincoln's promise 'to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.'"The VA has had little to say about the plan. The only comments came a week ago when, under questioning before the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, Shinseki said that the plan was "a consideration."

Monday, March 16, 2009




May 1 - Join us for a Congressional Continental Breakfast 8:00-10:00 - Room 902 of the Hart Senate Office Building
FOLLOWED BY visits to your senators and representatives

Remembering Forgotten Heroes of the Cold War

11:30 – Travel to Arlington National Cemetery -- “Remembering Forgotten Heroes of the Cold War” Ceremony sponsored by American Cold War Veterans. The Ceremony begins at 12 noon, followed by visits to Korean War, Vietnam War, USS Thresher, and Laos memorials

Hotel info

Best Western Rosslyn/Iwo Jima
1501 Arlington Blvd. Arlington, VA 2209-3001
Phone 703-524-5000 or 800-424-1501
Rate 159.99

Posted:03/13/2009 1:35 AM

For the Times-Standard

The VA's own lawyers claimed that Congress, after a careful study, have determined that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a “broken system,” and that disabled veterans must live with it. They also say that the VA shouldn't be held accountable for its failures.

Yet the VA repeatedly made statements that it has all the resources it needs to do its job. Congress has given them a larger budget for the past few years, yet they claimed in a recent court action that the adverse consequences of a court order that forces them do their job is distressing at best.

Dire warnings from VA officials note that shortfalls in the 2009 budget will result in a dramatic reduction for services for local veterans being able to get their health care needs taken care of by local medical care providers, even when local VA medical facilities are unable to provide necessary care. Unless you are medically unable to travel, you probably will not get approval. This will be decided on an individual basis by San Francisco VA Medical Center. So never mind the fact that you may lose a day or two of work, or you're a totally disabled veteran or the aliment you're seeking care for is related to your military service.

There are long waiting lists for programs like Adult Day Health Care which is a VA outpatient service providing medical and therapeutic services to disabled veterans and respite care which provides veterans with short-term services to give their caregiver a period

of relief from the demands of daily care for the chronically ill or disabled veteran. Homemaker and Home Health Aides services, professional home care, mostly nursing services, all of which is purchased from private-local providers, have fallen under the budget ax.
It's time veterans stop being at the mercy of nameless VA authorization clerks and an inadequate budget. It's time to stop the practice of deciding a veteran's case based upon their (VA clerks) own individual interpretation of the manual and the status of funding. It's not the veteran's fault that the VA is not getting the funding it needs. Yet veterans suffer while the politicians and government administrators play games.

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, has introduced some positive legislation called the “Veterans' Emergency Fairness Act of 2009 (S.404).”

This bill would enable the VA to reimburse veterans enrolled for the remaining costs of emergency treatment received outside of the VA's health care system if the veteran has outside insurance that only covers part of the cost.

Under current law, the VA can (again, not will) reimburse veterans or pay outside hospitals directly only if a veteran has no outside health insurance. “Because insurance may not cover all costs, a trip to the ER can leave insured veterans financially crippled. This bill could enable the VA to fill the gap for veterans whose outside insurance does not meet their needs. In addition to reimbursing veterans for future costs of emergency care, the bill would allow the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide retroactive reimbursements back to May 2000, when the VA was first authorized to cover the cost of outside emergency care for veterans enrolled with the VA for their care.

Many veterans have no idea that they maybe eligible for a VA pension, which is a monetary award paid on a monthly basis to veterans with low income who are permanently and totally disabled, or are age 65 and older. Those veterans may be eligible for monetary support if they have 90 days or more, or at least one day of active military service, during a period of war.

Payments would be made to qualified veterans to bring their total income, including other retirement or social security income, to a level set by Congress annually. Veterans of a period of war who are age 65 or older, and meet the service and income requirements, are also eligible to receive a pension, regardless of their current physical condition.

As you read this, there are veterans around you being denied local health care, even though they meet the stringent requirements of the VA. It's all about money. Now, let's make it about the veterans in our community.

I urge you, and your friends and family, to contact your Congressional representative and tell them what you think about removing the “maybe” in the treatment for our veterans. New priorities need to come out for a full funding process that assures continuation for all VA programs for veterans who have earned them.

Carl Young of Fortuna has been a veterans rights advocate for the past 25 years.

Friday, March 13, 2009

An Open Letter to Veterans
From Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki

WASHINGTON (March 13, 2009) - Following is an open letter to Veterans from Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki:

"My name is Ric Shinseki, and I am a Veteran. For me, serving asSecretary of Veterans Affairs is a noble calling. It provides me theopportunity to give back to those who served with and for me during my38 years in uniform and those on whose shoulders we all stood as we grewup in the profession of arms.

"The Department of Veterans Affairs has a solemn responsibility to allof you, today and in the future, as more Veterans join our ranks andenroll to secure the benefits and services they have earned. I am fullycommitted to fulfilling President Obama's vision for transforming ourdepartment so that it will be well-positioned to perform this duty evenbetter during the 21st Century. We welcome the assistance and advice ofour Veterans Service Organizations, other government departments andagencies, Congress, and all VA stakeholders as we move forward,ethically and transparently, so that Veterans and citizens canunderstand our efforts.

"Creating that vision for transforming the VA into a 21st Centuryorganization requires a comprehensive review of our department. Weapproach that review understanding that Veterans are central toeverything VA does. We know that results count, that the departmentwill be measured by what we do, not what we promise, and that our bestdays as an organization supporting Veterans are ahead of us. We willfulfill President Lincoln's charge to care for ". . . him, who shallhave borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan . . ." byredesigning and reengineering ourselves for the future.

"Transforming any institution is supremely challenging; I know this frommy own experience in leading large, proud, complex, and high-performingorganizations through change. But the best organizations must beprepared to meet the challenging times, evolving technology and, mostimportantly, evolving needs of clients. Historically, organizationsthat are unwilling or unable to change soon find themselves irrelevant.You and your needs are not irrelevant.

"Veterans are our clients, and delivering the highest quality care andservices in a timely, consistent and fair manner is a VA responsibility.I take that responsibility seriously and have charged all of thedepartment's employees for their best efforts and support every day tomeet our obligations to you. Our path forward is challenging, but thePresident and Congress support us. They have asked us to do thiswell-for you. Veterans are our sole reason for existence and our numberone priority-bar none. I look forward to working together with all VAemployees to transform our department into an organization that reflectsthe change and commitment our country expects and our Veterans deserve.

"Thank you, and God bless our military, our Veterans, and our Nation."

Signed: Eric K. Shinseki

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

By ALICIA A. CALDWELL – 19 hours ago

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Army officials say 16 patients exposed to a mismanaged insulin needle program at a military hospital in Texas have tested positive for hepatitis B or C.

The patients at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center were among more than 2,000 diabetics who may have been exposed to blood-borne illnesses because multiple patients were given injections from the same insulin pen.

Officials at the Army hospital at Fort Bliss have said it's unclear if the patients contracted hepatitis from the injections that were performed from August 2007 to January 2009.

Fort Bliss is located at El Paso, Texas.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Therapeutic Court for Veterans

A program spreading across the country is giving veterans charged with non-violent alcohol or drug-related offenses a second chance to get their lives back on track.

Many veterans return from war with PTSD, depression, or other combat-related issues that can greatly affect their day-to-day lives. Some of these men and women turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with the aftermath of combat and wind up in the criminal justice system.

The VA medical center and regional office in Muskogee, Okla., are the latest VA facilities to recognize not only a need, but also an opportunity, to reach out to veterans and help them rehabilitate and live a more productive life in society. They have partnered with the local courts to help veterans get their lives back on track after being arrested.

“The Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center is proud to be the third VA in the nation to provide this treatment option for our returning veterans who have difficulty readjusting to civilian life,” said Director Adam Walmus. “This joint venture VA is doing with the Tulsa County Drug Court and the City of Tulsa will give these deserving men and women a second chance.”

In December 2008, the Muskogee VA entered into a memorandum of understanding with the 14th Judicial District to form a Veterans Treatment Court in an attempt to divert veterans from jail and into appropriate rehabilitative programs.

The Veterans Treatment Court applies to veterans charged with non-violent alcohol or drug-related felonies who may be experiencing difficulties transitioning to civilian life—whether recently or long discharged from active duty.

Veterans are diverted and sentences are either delayed or replaced with a period during which treatment is provided by the VAMC, and court-appointed mentors provide guidance on many matters, such as education, employment and housing.

If the diversion is successful, the veteran is less likely to repeat the behaviors that resulted in his introduction to the court system.
“It’s a treatment-first approach over a punitive approach,” said Dr. Elise Taylor, a VA psychologist and substance abuse program supervisor who is in charge of the Tulsa program. “We want to provide the care and treatment these veterans need, help them move forward in their lives and prevent repeat offenses.”

It all starts at the time of arrest. The program is voluntary for veterans charged with non-violent crimes who are in need of mental health or substance abuse treatment. Veterans agree to enter into the program in writing during a hearing and also provide written consent to allow VA to communicate with the court about their treatment.

“When a veteran is brought to jail, the officers ask them if they are veterans while they are being processed,” said Taylor. “Our Treatment Court liaison, Dowanna Wright, helps with determining eligibility for VA benefits. If they are eligible, they will be put on the Treatment Court docket and then assessed.”

Veterans entered into the program are assessed by a mental health professional such as Taylor to determine what type of treatment is needed to best serve their needs.

“They may just need outpatient care, or they may need to be entered into an inpatient care program such as detox,” said Taylor.

During the treatment process, each veteran’s case is reviewed by the judge to determine their progress. VA’s treatment team and the judge work closely together to keep the veteran on track and on the road to recovery.

“We don’t want them to fail and neither does the court,” said Taylor. “However, the court will step in if the patient fails to abide by the program. If they fail a drug screen or disobey the court’s orders, they will be arrested and run back through the legal system.”
Veterans who repeatedly fail drug screens, or are repeatedly noncompliant with court-ordered treatment, are sanctioned by the court, which could include community service, fines or jail time.

“With 158 veterans arrested in Tulsa County in the month of October, there is clearly a need for this new therapeutic court,” said Tulsa County Special Judge Sarah Smith, who hears veterans’ cases every Monday. “The Veterans Treatment Court offers a unique partnership between the VA, the court system and other veterans’ organizations to provide treatment, compassion and hope to the men and women who served our country and are struggling in the criminal justice system.”
As with all drug court participants, the records of those taking part in the Veterans Treatment Court are sealed once they’ve completed the program.

Tulsa is the third community in the country, and the first in the central U.S., to implement a Veterans Treatment Court. The first program was created in Buffalo, N.Y., followed by a program in Alaska, with similar courts being considered in Rochester, N.Y., Illinois, Las Vegas, and two in Pennsylvania. The Muskogee VA modeled its court on Buffalo’s successful program, which key leaders visited and sought advice from before starting the Muskogee court.

By Gary Hicks
January/February 2009 issue of VAnguard

Saturday, March 07, 2009

MOSCOW - The world's two major nuclear weapons states are preparing to stage a public spectacle not seen since the peak of the cold war: full scale negotiations for a new deal to slash their still-bloated arsenals of offensive strategic arms.

President Barack Obama's administration has set Moscow's security community abuzz by signaling Washington's willingness to work up a replacement for the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, which would otherwise expire at the end of this year.

Mr. Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev are expected to set the ball rolling when they meet on the sidelines of April's G-20 meeting in London. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will also meet Friday in Geneva with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Secretary Clinton offered a preview of the meeting during a gathering of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels. Regarding Russia, "It's time for a fresh start," Clinton said.

The high-level meetings ahead between the US and Russia are likely to be followed by intense activity as the two sides strive to map out a fresh accord by the Dec. 5 deadline.

Often described as the most effective arms control accord in history, START led to the removal of more than two-thirds of all strategic weapons and limited each side to the then-radical ceiling of 6,000 warheads deployed on no more than 1,600 delivery systems.

Moscow welcomes Obama's goal

But experts warn that the global security environment has shifted dangerously in two decades, and the old bipolar superpower standoff has been deeply complicated by the emergence of new nuclear wild cards, such as India, Pakistan, and North Korea.

They also worry that the old arms control framework may have been fatally damaged by the Bush administration's unilateral withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which banned defensive strategic weapons, followed by a decision to station anti-missile interceptors in Poland. Despite such concerns, official Moscow appears enthusiastic.

"Nuclear arms control is the one, single area where Russians feel like complete equals when they face their American counterparts across a table," says Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, a leading foreign policy journal. "When we start serious talks [on START], it will say to us that Russia is finally back as a serious player."

Russian experts say they are excited by the signs coming out of Washington. According to a statement published on the White House website, Mr. Obama wants to move toward "a world without nuclear weapons" and is ready to partner with Moscow to seek "dramatic reductions in US and Russian stockpiles," of nuclear arms. A recent story in The Times of London quoted a White House official saying the US might seek to slash strategic arsenals down to 1,000 weapons on each side – an 80 percent reduction.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Cold-War Era Naval Vessels Up For Grabs

The Navy Has a Top-Secret Vessel It Wants to Put on Display
Sea Shadow and Its Satellite-Proof Barge Need a Home; Plotting in Providence

slide show

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Anybody want some top-secret seagoing vessels? The Navy has a pair it doesn't need anymore. It has been trying to give them away since 2006, and they're headed for the scrap yard if somebody doesn't speak up soon.

One is called Sea Shadow. It's big, black and looks like a cross between a Stealth fighter and a Batmobile. It was made to escape detection on the open sea. The other is known as the Hughes (as in Howard Hughes) Mining Barge. It looks like a floating field house, with an arching roof and a door that is 76 feet wide and 72 feet high. Sea Shadow berths inside the barge, which keeps it safely hidden from spy satellites.

The barge, by the way, is the only fully submersible dry dock ever built, making it very handy -- as it was 35 years ago -- for trying to raise a sunken nuclear-armed Soviet submarine.

Navy Seeks Home for Secret Vessel

"I'm fascinated by the possibilities," Frank Lennon said one morning recently. Mr. Lennon runs -- or ran -- a maritime museum here in Providence. He was standing in a sleet storm on a wharf below a power plant, surveying the 297-foot muck-encrusted hulk of a Soviet submarine that he owns. His only exhibit, it was open to the public until April 2007, when a northeaster hit Providence and the sub sank.

Army and Navy divers refloated it this past summer with the aid of chains and air tanks. Mr. Lennon can't help but imagine how his sub might look alongside the two covert Cold War castoffs from the Navy. "They would be terrific for our exhibit," he said, watching the sleet come down.

But a gift ship from the Navy comes with lots of strings attached to the rigging. A naval museum, the Historic Naval Ships Association warns, is "a bloodthirsty, paperwork ridden, permit-infested, money-sucking hole..." Because the Navy won't pay for anything -- neither rust scraping nor curating -- to keep museums afloat, survival depends on big crowds. That's why many of the 48 ships it has given away over 60 years were vessels known for performing heroically in famous battles.

Museum entrepreneurs like Mr. Lennon who don't have much money can only fantasize about Sea Shadow and its barge. After all, a pair of mysterious vessels that performed their heroics out of the public eye can't have much claim to fame. Glen Clark, the Navy's civilian ship-disposal chief, has received just one serious call about the two vessels, and it didn't lead to a written application.

The Navy's insistence on donating Sea Shadow and the barge as a twofer may also explain the lack of interest. Here is the Navy's vision for a museum display as Mr. Clark describes it:

"When you're driving down the road, you can't see the Sea Shadow. You have to pay for your ticket to go on board the Hughes Mining Barge, and then you see the Sea Shadow. That has the capability of preserving the aura of secrecy of the program."

Possibly. It might also cause drivers to drive right by the hulking rust-bucket without devoting a thought to stopping.

The Hughes Mining Barge actually has nothing to do with mining or with the late, reclusive Mr. Hughes. He merely let the Central Intelligence Agency use his name in 1974 to cover up its mission to raise a Soviet submarine from the floor of the Pacific Ocean.

The adventure was publicized as the expedition of another new vessel, the Hughes Glomar Explorer, to mine for minerals on the seabed. To grab a sub, the ship needed a giant claw. But because it was big and unwieldy, the claw couldn't be installed in the ship at dockside. That's where the "mining" barge came in.

The claw was assembled inside it. According to Curtis Crooke, retired president of Global Marine Development Inc., the company that did the work, the barge with the claw inside was then towed off the California coast and submersed. The Glomar Explorer was positioned over it, and the claw hoisted into its belly.

Then the Explorer went sub hunting (exactly how much of the sub it retrieved, if anything, has never been declassified) and the barge went into mothballs.

"That's all it was used for," says Mr. Crooke, "to put the claw inside the Explorer." Would the barge work as a museum? "It's just a big old dumb barge," he says. "Now, the Sea Shadow, that's a way-out spacey kind of thing. You could tell a story about that."

The Glomar Explorer was refitted as a drill ship. The barge -- thanks to its satellite-proof roof -- got a second secret job for the Navy and its contractor, Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. In the early 1980s, Sea Shadow was assembled inside it. At a cost later put at $195 million, it aimed to attain the same invisibility at sea that it had in the federal budget.

Sea Shadow, 160 feet long and 70 feet wide, was the Navy's first experimental stealth ship. Its special coatings, sharp angles and other confidential doohickeys allowed it to baffle radar and sonar. Viewed bow-on, it looks like a squat letter "A" standing on two submerged pontoons for exceptional stability on rough seas.

From the start, Sea Shadow moved at night, towed from its California dock inside its barge and launched onto the open sea to sail on its own in darkness.

S.K. Gupta, now a vice president at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, was in the crew. He recalls watching a glass of Coke on the bridge barely ripple in 12-foot waves. In war games with the Navy off San Diego, he says, "We operated during the night with impunity. We could disappear and sneak up on whomever we wanted. Nobody thought we could do it. A ship is usually hard to hide."

The Navy brought Sea Shadow out of the shadows for daylight tests in 1993, setting off a flash of publicity. It hit the cover of Popular Mechanics. Revell made a plastic model. A mad media mogul used a Sea Shadow look-alike to foment war between Britain and China in a 1997 James Bond movie "Tomorrow Never Dies."

In 2006, its experimental life at an end, Sea Shadow and the barge it was boxed in were struck from the Navy's register and tied up in Suisun Bay, near San Francisco. The technologies it developed have sired a generation of land-attack destroyers and ocean-surveillance ships. "Sea Shadow is the mother of all stealth ships in the world," says Mr. Gupta. It ought to be displayed out in the open on dry land, he thinks, its invisibility visible to all.

The Navy's Mr. Clark says, "We're looking at that option." In December, Sea Shadow got a one-year reprieve from the junk yard. And in Providence, Mr. Lennon got one more year to dream.

Retreating from the sleet, he was in the Sealand Diner eating breakfast with Ed Sciaba. Mr. Lennon is 66 years old and an ex-Green Beret. Mr. Sciaba, 54, is a scrap dealer ready to tow Mr. Lennon's sunken Soviet sub to his yard.

Mr. Sciaba knew nothing of Sea Shadow or the CIA's sub-raising venture. As Mr. Lennon recounted the details, he got excited.

"Hell of an idea," he said. "That's a museum I'd go to."

"You could tell the story of the Cold War," said Mr. Lennon.

Mr. Sciaba banged his coffee mug on the table. "Let's go get 'em and tow 'em back here!" he said. Mr. Lennon turned his gaze to the storm outside, and Mr. Sciaba picked up the check.

Write to Barry Newman at barry.newman@wsj.com