Stingers, Stingers, Who's Got the Stingers?http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_gist/2001/10/stingers_stingers_whos_got_the_stingers.html
We gave them to the mujahideen. We sold them to our allies. Will they end up biting us back?
In the 1980s, the Reagan administration armed the mujahideen with deadly Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to battle Soviet aircraft. The Taliban now possess some of those weapons and could use them to shoot down U.S. aircraft in the event of a U.S. assault. But the Taliban aren't the only ones armed with Stingers. Dozens of them have found their way to enemy states and terrorist groups, and other nations have reverse-engineered the weapons to make their own versions of the Stinger.
How many Stingers did the U.S. give to the mujahideen? Who else has them? More to the point, who doesn't? And what sort of danger do they pose for U.S. forces and their allies?
The Stinger is 5 feet long, 2.75 inches in diameter, and weighs 34.5 pounds fully armed. Relatively simple to operate—"the missile's complexity can be accommodated by almost any potential user nation or group," says a U.S. military fact sheet—and with a vertical range of about 10,000 feet, it employs a heat-seeking sensor to home in on an aircraft's engine. The Stinger can be fired from as far away as 5 miles and is capable of bringing down military helicopters, air-fueling tankers, and low-flying warplanes. They're utterly lethal against civilian airliners, which deploy none of the countermeasures found on military aircraft. (Raytheon makes the current Stinger; General Dynamics produced the earlier model sent to the Afghan rebels.)
The decision to send Stingers to Afghanistan was part of a multibillion-dollar U.S. program to arm the mujahideen. The leading advocates came from Congress, notably Sen. Paul Tsongas, D-Mass., who complained that the United States must supply the rebels with high-tech weapons if they were to challenge the Red Army. Opposing the transfer was the CIA, which warned that supplying the mujahideen with Stingers might provoke Soviet retaliation against Pakistan, the base for the CIA's rebel support effort. Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., prophetically worried aloud that the rebels—dominated by Islamic fundamentalists who loathed the West almost as much as they hated the Soviets—might share the deadly Stingers with terrorist groups.
But Congress approved the deal, and the CIA shipped a batch of 300 Stingers to the rebels in 1986 and 700 more the following year. "We were handing them out like lollipops," an American intelligence official later told the Washington Post.
Before the Stingers' arrival in Afghanistan, the mujahideen had virtually no defense against the Red Army's MI-24 Hind gunships, which sported massive firepower and carried up to eight combat troops. The first time the rebels deployed the Stingers, they brought down three Hinds, and they downed about 275 Russian aircraft before the Red Army retreated in 1989.
"The Stingers neutralized Soviet air power and marked a strategic turning point in the war," says Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA officer who was involved in the Afghan operation.
Three years later, the mujahideen overthrew a left-wing government left behind in Kabul by the Russians. It wasn't long before the various rebel factions turned on each other and Afghanistan fell into chaos, leaving hundreds of unused Stingers unaccounted for.
Even before the Soviet departure, the Stingers had begun dispersing to the four corners of the Earth. In the late '80s, Iranian Revolutionary Guards ambushed a mujahideen military caravan and made off with several dozen missiles. The Iranians promptly put the Stingers into service on their patrol boats. Pakistani intelligence, which distributed the CIA-supplied arms to the mujahideen during the war, skimmed a number off the top. Islamabad not only stockpiled its Stingers but also sold a model to China, which through reverse-engineering developed its own version.
The mujahideen also dispensed Stingers to their Islamic allies. Among the lucky recipients were rebel groups in places like Tajikistan, Chechnya, and Algeria. Meanwhile, the Pentagon approved the sale of Stingers to at least 21 countries, mostly NATO allies but also Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea. The Soviets stole design data and Stinger components from the Greek army and used the information to build the SAM-14 Gremlin, which is said to be a virtual copy of the Stinger.
Stingers inevitably turned up for sale on the international black market. Alan Kuperman, author of a history of the Stinger transfer published in 1999 in Political Science Quarterly, puts the United Arab Emirates, Somalia, Iraq, Qatar, Zambia, and North Korea among the nations to acquire the Stinger. They are also believed to be in the arsenal of anti-government guerrillas in Turkey and Sri Lanka, as well as Hezbollah guerrillas operating in Lebanon. In 1990, two Colombian drug dealers were arrested in Tampa, Fla., after attempting to arrange the purchase of Stingers for the Medellín Cartel. The following year, U.S. Customs agents in Miami arrested four men and charged them with attempting to smuggle Stingers and other weapons to Yugoslavia.
In the early '90s, Stingers were used in a flurry of attacks against military and possibly civilian aircraft. The Russian press reported that Islamic rebels used a Stinger to shoot down an Su-25 fighter-bomber over Tajikistan, and a U.N. investigation fingered the U.S.-made missile in an attack that brought down an Italian supply plane. In 1993, Muslim separatists shot down a Georgian airliner, killing dozens of passengers aboard. Investigators never determined what type of missile was used, but shortly before the attack took place, separatist leaders had coyly hinted to reporters that they were the proud owners of a few Stingers.
To stem the damage, the CIA sought to buy back its missing Afghan Stingers. The agency allocated $65 million for the program—about twice the cost of the original 1,000 sent to the mujahideen—which commenced in 1993 and relied upon the help and cooperation of Pakistani intelligence.
The CIA offered so much for the wayward Stingers—at least $100,000 a copy and possibly as much as $200,000—that the program's most immediate effect was to drive up the price of Stingers on the international black market. "They were offering so much that sellers could take the money and buy themselves cheaper anti-aircraft missiles and other weaponry," says Kuperman.
A former intelligence officer familiar with the program calls the buyback effort an abysmal failure. "The things have spread so far that we don't even know where they are anymore," he says.
Errant Stingers are still with us. In 1999, the Indian government claimed that Muslim rebels in Kashmir used a Stinger to down a military helicopter, killing all five soldiers on board. One defendant testified in the trial earlier this year of the men who bombed American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that he'd been commissioned to buy a plane for Osama Bin Laden in the mid-'90s. By his account, Bin Laden planned to use the plane to ship Stingers from Afghanistan to Sudan. And just weeks before Sept. 11, several Taliban soldiers carried Stingers on their shoulders during a military parade in Kabul.
During the past few decades, a variety of surface-to-air missiles—several may have been Stingers—have been used to shoot down 24 civilian aircraft, killing a total of almost 600 people. "After twenty years of reported instances of SAMs in the hands of rebel militias, narco-criminals, and terrorist groups, the potential for increased threats to civil aircraft has become a serious reality," says a Clinton-era report from the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. "Fanatical elements [are] not deterred by the potential implications of mass casualties that could occur if a man-portable SAM were used against a commercial airliner."
Some say the military threat posed by the Stingers is overblown. In the past few weeks, a variety of military and intelligence sources have been quoted in the press as saying that the Stinger's battery packs are good for only four or five years, and hence any owned by the Taliban would be useless against an American-led military action in Afghanistan. However, a declassified Pentagon document obtained by Kuperman states that the battery packs have "a shelf life of at least 10 years, with a reliability rate of 98-99%."
John Pike, a weapons expert and head of GlobalSecurity.org, says the Stinger is not a "superweapon," but military strategists can't ignore it either. "There are newer and better SAMs on the market, but it's adequate to the task at hand," Pike says.
WikipediaThere have also been accidental disclosures; for instance, Mary Margaret Graham, a former CIA official and deputy director of national intelligence for collection in 2005, said that the annual intelligence budget was $44 billion.
USAID), had a combined projected discretionary budget of $51.7 billion
The Soul of America
By Senator Bernie Sanders
January 9, 2013
"Despite such terminology as "fiscal cliff" and "debt ceiling," the great debate taking place in Washington now has relatively little to do with financial issues. It is all about ideology. It is all about economic winners and losers in American society. It is all about the power of Big Money. It is all about the soul of America.
In America today, we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth, and more inequality than at any time period since 1928. The top 1 percent owns 42 percent of the financial wealth of the nation, while, incredibly, the bottom 60 percent own only 2.3 percent. One family, the Walton family of Wal-Mart, owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. In terms of income distribution in 2010, the last study done on this issue, the top 1 percent earned 93 percent of all new income while the bottom 99 percent shared the remaining 7 percent.
Despite the reality that the rich are becoming much richer while the middle class collapses and the number of Americans living in poverty is at an all-time high, the Republicans and their billionaire backers want more, more, and more. The class warfare continues.
My Republican colleagues say that the deficits are a spending problem, not a revenue problem. What these deficit-hawk hypocrites won't talk about is their spending. They won't discuss what they did to dig the country into this $1 trillion deep deficit hole. They waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq without paying for them. They gave away huge tax breaks for the rich. They squandered taxpayer dollars on the pharmaceutical industry by making it illegal to let Medicare bargain for lower drug prices. They also rescinded financial regulations that enabled Wall Street to operate like a gambling casino, leading to a severe recession that eroded tax revenue and left more than 14 percent of American workers unemployed or underemployed.
Now, despite the deficits their policies helped to create and despite the enormous suffering which exists in our society, the Republicans want to cut Social Security, veterans' programs, Medicare, Medicaid, education, nutrition programs, and virtually every program which benefits low- and moderate-income Americans. They choose to turn their backs on the economic reality facing a significant part of our population: high unemployment, reduced wages, 50 million without health insurance, college graduates saddled with enormous student debt and elderly people living in desperation. And they have tried to slam the door on any further discussion about how to raise revenue by ending tax loopholes and unfair tax breaks.
Republicans like Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who say the revenue debate is over don't want you to consider these facts:
- Federal revenue today, at 15.8 percent of GDP, is lower today than it was 60 years ago. During the last year of the Clinton administration, when we had a significant federal surplus, federal revenue was 20.6 percent of GDP.
- Today corporate profits are at an all-time high, while corporate income tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is near a record low.
- In 2011, corporate revenue as a percentage of GDP was just 1.2 percent -- lower than any other major country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, including Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Norway, Australia, South Korea, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Ireland, Poland, and Iceland.
- In 2011, corporations paid just 12 percent of their profits in taxes, the lowest since 1972.
- In 2005, one out of four large corporations paid no income taxes at all while they collected $1.1 trillion in revenue over that one-year period.
We know where the Republicans are coming from. What about the Democrats? Will President Obama fulfill his campaign pledge to "protect the middle class" or will he surrender to right-wing blackmail? Will Democrats in the House and Senate stand with the vast majority of our citizens and such organizations as AARP, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the AFL-CIO, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and every other veterans' organization in the fight against cuts to Social Security and veterans' programs, or will they agree to a disastrous corporate-backed "chained CPI" concept which makes major benefit cuts to those programs and raises taxes on low-income workers?
The simple truth is there are relatively easy ways to deal with the deficit crisis -- without attacking the elderly, the children the sick or the poor.
For example, we have got to eliminate loopholes in the tax code that allow large corporations and the wealthy to avoid more than $100 billion in taxes every year by setting up offshore tax shelters in places like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the Bahamas. This situation has become so absurd that one five-story office building in the Cayman Islands is now the "home" to more than 18,000 corporations.
Further, we must also end tax breaks for companies shipping American jobs overseas. Today, the United State government continues to reward companies that move American manufacturing jobs abroad, despite the fact that millions of American jobs have been outsourced to China, Mexico, and other low wage countries over the past decade. The Joint Committee on Taxation (the official revenue scorekeeper in Congress) has estimated that we could raise more than $582 billion in revenue over the next decade by eliminating these offshore tax loopholes.
We must also recognize that Wall Street recklessness caused the economic crisis, and it has a responsibility to reduce the deficit. Establishing a 0.03 percent Wall Street speculation fee, similar to what we had from 1914-1966, would dampen the dangerous level of speculation and gambling on Wall Street, encourage the financial sector to invest in the productive economy and reduce the deficit by more than $350 billion over 10 years.
We are entering a pivotal moment in the modern history of our country. Do the elected officials in Washington stand with ordinary Americans -- working families, children, the elderly, the poor -- or will the extraordinary power of billionaire campaign contributors and Big Money prevail? The American people, by the millions, must send Congress the answer to that question." Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont sent the above to the Huffington Post. He expresses my worries exactly.
From the AP report-Alicia Chang, 12-16-2012
Twin NASA spacecraft named Ebb & Flow, hit the darkside of the moon at 3800 mph, one after the other.
Skid marks lead to the spot they landed, which will be named for Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Did her female partner of many years get the benefits due married heterosexuals get,
From Scott Eyman's article in the Palm Beach Post, 11-19-12
Denis Brian's book, The Elected and the Chosen
, tells how a Jew, named Haym Solomon, "came forward and paid for..." the arms and equipment that George Washington needed, when his men were deserting and he was losing the war... John Adams said that no nation in the world had done more for civilization than the Jews"
Mr. Denis thinks only one president was overtly anti-Semitic...Andrew Johnson, who was outspoken about it, was also an alcoholic, and had never spent a day in school. But he did pardon a Jewish soldier who was going to be shot for desertion, after the War.
"Teddy Roosevelt was extremely pro-Jewish-he got Jews to join the NY police force at a time when the police were almost all Irish. People say FDR didn't do enough for the Jews, even though one of his Jewish advisers said: 'don't encourage the Jews to come here; it will increase anti-Semitism.'"
"FDR told Henry Morgenthau, 'my idea is that Jews have Palestine. We pay the Arabs to go to Iraq or other Arab lands, and we put up a barbed wire fence to protect the Jews.'"
Denis Brian says: "(President) Obama is the pro-Israel president we've had. Robert Gates, a Republican, has worked for 8 presidents, and he said that, in his opinion, no one had done more than Obama to help Israel."
He continues in Scott Eyman's article: "The problem is that Obama and Netanyahu don't get on, and they've known each other long before Obama got into national politics. Gates is a conservative Republican, and he says Obama has been an outstanding supporter, even more so than LBJ or JFK. And then there is the presence of people like David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel as Obama's close advisers. American Conservatives are ridiculously wrong."
Here are excerpts: Us FL taxpayers are giving a $10 Million gift to Boeing, even as Repubs claim there is no money to care for the disabled and elderly in nursing homes, or to restore the Everglades, or to buy "Kilroys", a simple device that pinpoints where pollutants in our waterways are coming from?
“It’s the first real example of the transition of existing shuttle hardware and facilities that no longer have a purpose, and giving it new meaning and creating an environment where new jobs can be created and exploration can continue further,” said Dale Ketcham, chief of strategic alliances for Space Florida, the state aerospace economic development agency.
The renamed Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility, or C3PF, and other nearby facilities are being readied for The Boeing Co. to manufacture, assemble and test its CST-100 commercial crew capsules, work that could eventually create 550 jobs... The state has committed $10 million to the Boeing partnership, which was announced about a year ago, using Florida Department of Transportation funds for space infrastructure upgrades. That’s about half the project’s total estimated cost, records show...
Boeing is one of three companies competing to carry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, flights targeted to begin in 2017.
Boeing also plans to lease the nearby Processing Control Center, a three-story office building, bringing its planned footprint to more than 227,000 square feet.
Despite the facility upgrades, there’s a chance the Boeing work won’t materialize. NASA might not select the company to advance in a competition with SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Corp., or the company could decide the business case isn’t compelling enough to proceed with a commercial crew program. If that should happen, Ketcham said, the state believes its investment would not be wasted but would help attract another tenant.
The state hopes the work on the hangar becomes a template for transitioning more facilities, possibly including two more hangars and the shuttle runway, to new users.
“The painful transition (from the shuttle’s retirement) isn’t over, and there’s still a lot of people who are unemployed that we need to find work for,” said Ketcham. “But at the end of the day, it’s encouraging to see facilities being refurbished for new purposes and programs.” ( James Dean, in FLORIDA TODAY)