Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the Germany-based 1st Infantry Division in Iraq: “I believe we need a fresh start in the Pentagon. We need a leader who understands teamwork, a leader who knows how to build teams, a leader that does it without intimidation.” Batiste joins Generals Newbold, Eaton, and Zinni.
Iran announced yesterday that it has enriched uranium in violation of a recent U.N. Security Council demand. The development is being hyped with headlines like “Iran Could Produce Nuclear Bomb in 16 Days, U.S. Says.”
But the truth is Iran’s announcement “had less to do with an engineering feat than with carefully timed political theater” to symbolize its defiance of the U.N. Here are the facts:
Iran enriched the uranium using a cascade of 164 centrifuges that spin uranium hexafluoride gas at supersonic speed. This process extracts U-235″”usable in power reactors and nuclear weapons””from the gas. The enriched uranium that Iran produced cannot be used in a nuclear weapon because it contains just 3.5% U-235, whereas a nuclear weapon typically requires highly-enriched uranium (HEU) that contains more than 90% U-235. Assuming Iran has perfect luck with the centrifuge, it would need to operate this cascade continually for more than five years to produce enough HEU (15-20 kg, roughly the size of a basketball) for a crude nuclear bomb. Read more
On May 29, 2003, President Bush said “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories.” This morning the Washington Post revealed that a Pentagon field report transmitted to Washington on May 27, 2003 “had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons.”
Today during the White House press briefing, Scott McClellan demanded a public apology from the news media for covering the story:
You know, I saw some reporting talking about how this latest revelation — which is not something that is new; this is all old information that’s being rehashed — was an embarrassment for the White House. No, it’s an embarrassment for the media that is out there reporting this.
I brought up with some of you earlier today some of the reporting that was based of this Washington Post report. And I talked to one of network about it…they expressed their apologies to the White House.
I hope they will go and publicly apologize on the air about the statements that were made, because I think it is important given that they had made those statements in front of all their viewers. So we look forward to that happening as well.
McClellan’s complaint is that the Washington Post and others suggest that President Bush may have known about the report before he made definitive statements that the trailers were for the purpose of building biological weapons.
When McClellan was asked when the White House became aware of the Pentagon field report, however, McClellan couldn’t say. He told the press corps “I’m looking into that matter” but the answer was “not the point.”
“Josh Bolten and I often worked together during the George H.W. Bush administration… a couple of years into the current administration, I saw him at a reception. I had just started writing some mildly critical things about some of Mr. Bush’s policies. … I was taken aback when I went up to Mr. Bolten to say hello and he pointedly turned his back on me and walked away. I guess he thought he was punishing me for my criticism.” (HT: Brad DeLong)
This morning, the Washington Post reported an explosive story that a secret, fact-finding team of scientists and engineers sponsored by the Pentagon determined in May 2003 that two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops were not evidence of an Iraqi biological weapons program. What makes the story so important is that this nine-member team “transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003.”
Despite having authoritative evidence that the biological laboratories claim was false, the administration continued to peddle the myth over the next four months. Below is a compilation of the administration’s false statements specifically in regards to the biological facilities:
BUSH: We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. [Bush on Polish TV, 5/29/03]
POWELL: We have already discovered mobile biological factories of the kind that I described to the Security Council on the 5th of February. We have now found them. There is no question in our mind that that’s what their purpose was. Nobody has come up with an alternate purpose that makes sense. [Powell, 6/2/03]
WOLFOWITZ: We — as the whole world knows — have in fact found some significant evidence to confirm exactly what Secretary Powell said when he spoke to the United Nations about the development of mobile biological weapons production facilities that would seem to confirm fairly precisely the information we received from several defectors, one in particular who described the program in some detail. [Wolfowitz, 6/3/03]
Now, finally, primetime cable’s fiercest culture warrior has joined the battle. Last night, Bill O’Reilly invited on Newsweek’s John Meacham to discuss the brewing ‘war on Easter’:
O’REILLY: Although some left-wingers in the media deny it, we have documented a number of cases where Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter have been attacked by secular interests. Lawsuits and corporate policies have proved this point over and over again.
Doesn’t take much to get O’Reilly hopping mad.
The Washington Post story before:
The first pitch of the Washington Nationals’ second season at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium was low and away, bouncing in the dirt before being scooped up by catcher Brian Schneider. For that, Vice President Cheney received a round of boos from the home crowd this afternoon.
Actually, as the video documents, the booing started from the moment Cheney hit the field and continued until he left. After protests by Americablog and Firedoglake, The Washington Post has changed their copy:
Vice President Cheney threw out the ceremonial first pitch, a right-handed toss that bounced in the dirt to the outside of the plate before being scooped up by catcher Brian Schneider. Cheney, booed by some as he walked to the mound, got even more catcalls after his throw — a far cry from President Bush’s fastball at last year’s home opener.
The new version is more accurate, but still clings to the notion that a significant amount of the booing was in response to the quality of Cheney’s throw. It’s contradicted by the Post’s own Reliable Source column which reports Cheney “drew boisterous boos from the moment he stepped on the field until he jogged off.”
While most lawmakers and lobbyists are disavowing the K Street Group, right-wing activist Grover Norquist is seeking a trademark on it, saying the group has been given a bad rap. “We will jealously guard the real phrasing the way Kleenex and Coca-Cola do. We will sue anyone who says it wrong and make lots of money.”
33: Number of American troops who have died in Iraq so far this month, exceeding the 31 killed in all of March.
A year after John Negroponte became the first director of national intelligence, key lawmakers worry that the spy agency is not fulfilling its vital mission. The office is “not adding any value” by enlarging the bureaucracy, said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI). “They’re lengthening the time to make things happen.” (Maybe that has something to do with the 3 hours a day Negroponte spends at a health club?)
Unnamed “insiders” believe new White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten is “leaning toward selecting an outsider” as the new head of the Office of Management and Budget. One person “even suggested that retiring Rep. Tom DeLay was being considered.”
Iran announced yesterday it had enriched uranium to 3.5 percent purity. For weapons-grade material, “they need to kick it up to about 80 percent and do so on an industrial-scale, all of which will likely take years.” Analysts suggested the announcement had more to do with political theater than technological advancement. Read more