This article ran in yesterday's paper and I meant to get to it, but didn't. The LA Times reports that U.S. military secrets are being sold at bazaars outside of U.S. bases in Afghanistan. It's a slightly surprising tale of incompetence (and possibly, arrogance that the Afghans or others shopping in these places won't know what they have).
A reporter recently obtained several drives at the bazaar that contained documents marked "Secret." The contents included documents that were potentially embarrassing to Pakistan, a U.S. ally, presentations that named suspected militants targeted for "kill or capture" and discussions of U.S. efforts to "remove" or "marginalize" Afghan government officials whom the military considered "problem makers."Also included were the social security numbers of 700 military personnel.
Remember when Bush declared "We have found weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq after two trailers were located and supposedly were used to manufacture biological weapons? Of course, we now know that's not true, but according to the Washington Post today, Bush knew that before he and his administration started making those statements. Two days before. In other words, he lied.
A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president's statement.
The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped "secret" and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories..."There was no connection to anything biological," said one expert who studied the trailers. Another recalled an epithet that came to be associated with the trailers: "the biggest sand toilets in the world."...
"Within the first four hours," said one team member, who like the others spoke on the condition he not be named, "it was clear to everyone that these were not biological labs."
News of the team's early impressions leaped across the Atlantic well ahead of the technical report. Over the next two days, a stream of anxious e-mails and phone calls from Washington pressed for details and clarifications...
After team members returned to Washington, they began work on a final report. At several points, members were questioned about revising their conclusions, according to sources knowledgeable about the conversations. The questioners generally wanted to know the same thing: Could the report's conclusions be softened, to leave open a possibility that the trailers might have been intended for weapons?
In the end, the final report -- 19 pages plus a 103-page appendix -- remained unequivocal in declaring the trailers unsuitable for weapons production.
"It was very assertive," said one weapons expert familiar with the report's contents.
Then, their mission completed, the team members returned to their jobs and watched as their work appeared to vanish.
"I went home and fully expected that our findings would be publicly stated," one member recalled. "It never happened. And I just had to live with it."
Arkin's article about contingent war plans for Iran is up. He draws upon a scenario drawn up in 2003 that was used by the marines. The concept for the plan was provided by Donald Rumsfeld.