Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Archive for December, 2006

What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You…

Posted by K.E. White on December 20, 2006

by kwhite, cross-listed at Campus Progress 

Last week, I heard former governor homeland security expert James Gilmore speak to Cato on improving our nation’s homeland security spending. He gave glowing comments to John Mueller’s recently published Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate the National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them. The Cato event centered around the book’s charge that domestic anti-terrorism spending is counter-productive to American security.

What did Gilmore–Chairman of USA Secure—-offer as a solution?

This dual-pronged approach: 1) greater emphasis on the citizen to learn how government is spending his or her money, and 2) more transparency from DHS on where funds are going.

As you might guess he was heavy on rhetoric, light on substance.

This led me to wonder, ‘Well, how transparent is DHS spending–or DHS in general?’

Finding this out proved more difficult than I first thought, but below is my first go-around answer.

First, a brief review:

The term classified information refers to materials the government keeps away from public view that may compromise national security. While it has its critics, it’s an established process that has been hammered out by the court system and our nation’s bureaucracy.

But did you know the government can keep unclassified out of the public eye?

There is exactly an umbrella of bureaucratic acronyms that each represent a certain perspective on what are known as “sensitive materials.”

This new batch of “sensitive” concealment-apparently 56 in all–has led some to complain of secrecy abuse, particularly by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Some allege DHS uses this nebulously defined category SSI (or “Sensitive Security Information”) to cloak embarrassing information.

While the most recent DHS appropriations bill (passed this October) did include a section clarifying what SSI meant, DHS still has a sweeping ability to keep information away from the public eye or even other government agencies.

Secrecy is clearly needed for aspects of our nation’s homeland security policies and spending. But this worry must be addressed: Is information that many would consider useful for the public to know about being concealed?

It appears the answer, at least as of September, is yes.

While I applaud Gilmore for pushing the administration–one he has ties to as former Chair of the Republican National Committee–to bring needed transparency to homeland security spending, I hope he offers more details on how to do this at his next public speaking event.

I hope by that time to understand our government’s “sensitive materials” mishmash.

Posted in Homeland Security, Think Tank, WMD | Leave a Comment »

News Alert: Bush to Sign U.S. India Nuclear Deal Latter Today

Posted by K.E. White on December 18, 2006

Here’s coverage from the Guardian.

On a more substantive note, India’s rancorous parliament seems to be getting—however disorderly—behind the pact.

Posted in Diplomacy, India, News, Proliferation News | Leave a Comment »

The Sky Isn’t Falling! Mueller Goes “Overblown” at Cato: Why Terrorism Isn’t Our Greatest Danger—We Are

Posted by K.E. White on December 13, 2006

John Mueller tells us all—politicians and citizens alike—to stop acting dumb when it comes to terrorism. Proliferation Press covers John Mueller’s book-party at Cato, documenting his witty and engaging plug for Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats and Why We Believe Them. Will we heed his warning to stop expecting the sky to fall? Former Governor James Gilmore is also thrown in for kicks.

 

Read the full article

Posted in Diplomacy, Homeland Security, James Gilmore, John Mueller, Terrorism, WMD | 1 Comment »

Blog-on-Blog: No Duh! Slate on the Dirty Bomb Threat

Posted by K.E. White on December 13, 2006

by kwhite

This is taken from my earlier blog at CampusProgress.org

Slate‘s Jay Edward Epstein discusses the blatantly obvious in “The Polonium Connection”, a piece that explores the significance of Alexander Litvinenko’s radioactive poisoning in London: His death shows how real the dirty bomb threat to America is.

I pointed out this very danger in an earlier blog posting, responding to an earlier Slate article by Anne Applebaum. (I’m sure Epstein wasn’t inspired by me–but if he was, I’m always happy to lend a hand.)

But I should add an important caveat to both my article and Epstein’s: plutonium-210, the ingredient that killed Litvinenko, can be blocked by paper. (This I only discovered in discussing my post with a knowledgeable friend.)

While by no means alleviating the dirty bomb threat, it’s an important–and now further neglected–feature of most news coverage on Litvinenko’s poisoning.

Posted in News, Proliferation News, WMD | Leave a Comment »

Getting It Right: Slate’s Phony Farewell to Jeane Kirkpatrick

Posted by K.E. White on December 12, 2006

Jeane Kirkpatrick was a pioneer for women and fierce intellectual. Yet our appreciation for her service to her country shouldn’t cloud or understanding of her political philosophy. Even worse would be attempts by writers at posthumous revision.

Yet, this is exactly what Slate‘s Timothy Noah of commits in his article Jeane Kirkpatrick, realist. He reviews the article, finding Noah failing to own up to Kirkpatrick’s true legacy as an Iraq war supporter and avid neo-conservative. Surveying her role in the run-up to war with Iraq, White attempts to set the record stragiht so readers can truly appreciate this important woman’s contribution to American foreign policy.

Read the Full Article…

Posted in Diplomacy, Iraq, News | Leave a Comment »

News Alert: Israel Admits to Holding Nukes

Posted by K.E. White on December 11, 2006

On it’s face, it doesn’t seem that big of a deal.

PM Olmert today indirectly admitted that Israel has nuclear weapons–a biggest known nuclear secret around.

But this botched delivery comes with geo-strategic consequences.

Already the response is being lined up: Israel will no doubt spin Olmert’s indirect admission as an accident, and reaffirm it’s official policy of nuclear ambuiguity.

But how this plays out on to the Arab public or Iranians in another matter– and one of extreme importance.

Middle Eastern countries such as Eygpt and Saudi Arabia have kept domestic demands for nuclear weaopns in check by pointing out that Israel is, at least, not publicly admiting it has nuclear weapons– meaning it is not shoving it in Arab faces.

This strategy failed with Iran–whose nuclear proliferation is a much getting tipping point than this Israeli admission.

But this diplomatic fumble may just play right into the hands of Iran and others strongly anti-Israel advocates–so happen to mostly be Islamic fanatics.

Now it could always be an opening for a real dialogue on nuclear weapons in the Middle East and recalibrating the norm of non-proliferation, but such an strategy would require far more diplomatic agility and engagement than the Bush administration has shown in its six-year tenure.

So I guess it’s just another dropped ball in what has been a horrible six years for America’s presence in the Middle East.

Posted in Diplomacy, Israel, Proliferation News | Leave a Comment »

News Round Up: December 11, 2009

Posted by K.E. White on December 11, 2006

· In the Closet No More: Israeli PM Admits To Having Nukes

· Honoring Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Commentary Joins In

· Pakistan’s Terrorism Blunder?

· Let’s Talk: North Korea Nuclear Talks Set to Restart Dec. 18

· Russia and Iran Duke It Out Over Nuclear Supply Chain

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

News Round Up: December 09, 2006

Posted by K.E. White on December 9, 2006

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

News Round Up: December 8, 2006

Posted by K.E. White on December 8, 2006

  • David Lynch speaks his mind, appropriately enough, to Nerve.com

Posted in News | Leave a Comment »

Iraq Study Group Report: Indispensable Uselessness?

Posted by K.E. White on December 7, 2006

  • The Pro-Side

NYTimes Editorial Board

Iraq is so far gone that nobody expected the panel to come up with a breakthrough solution. As the co-chairmen…began their letter accompanying yesterday’s report, “there is no magic formula to solve the problems of Iraq.” And the study was never going to change the basic facts: there is no victory to be had in Iraq, and however American troops withdraw, they will leave behind a deadly mess…

The world has watched as Mr. Bush painted himself into a corner and then insisted it was a strategic decision. Even the Iraqis are trying to provide cover to for him to come tiptoeing back to the real world. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s call for a regional conference on Iraq would allow the administration to get past its refusal to talk to Tehran and Damascus, by saying that ban was never meant to include Iraqi initiatives.

The Iraq report is a deeply diplomatic document, stuffed with “coulds” and “mights.” It is, all in all, exactly the kind of shades-of-gray thinking that Mr. Bush despises, and exactly what he needs to get the country out of the hole he has dug.

_________________________________________________________________

  • Counter-Argument

Fred Kaplan’s The Iraq Study Group Chickens Out

The report of the Iraq Study Group—which Baker co-chaired with Lee Hamilton, that other Wise Man-wannabe—was doomed to fall short of expectations. But who knew it would amount to such an amorphous, equivocal grab bag.

Its outline of a new “diplomatic offensive” is so disjointed that even a willing president would be left puzzled by what precisely to do, and George W. Bush seems far from willing.

Its scheme for a new military strategy contains so many loopholes that a president could cite its language to justify doing anything (or nothing)…

In other words, the bedrock question about Iraq—whether U.S. troop levels should go up or down—is left unanswered…

It’s [Iraq is] a mess. Not even Jim Baker really knows what to do about it.

Posted in Diplomacy, Iraq, Iraq Study Group | Leave a Comment »