Monday, July 14, 2008

Bush May Give His OK to Pre-Emptive Israeli Strike on Iran's Nuke Facilities

Despite Strong Pentagon Opposition, President Believes Only a Show of Force can Deter Ahmadinejad's Threats Against Israel, British Newspaper Says

PLUS: ACLU Sues Against Newly-Revised FISA Statute, Challenging Constitutionality of Warrantless Wiretaps and Telecom Immunity from Lawsuits

US President George W Bush

President Bush is reported to have given an "amber light" to a plan by Israel to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities -- stopping just short of full approval. A senior Pentagon official was quoted by The Sunday Times of London as saying that while the nation's top military brass is vehemently opposed to an American attack on Iran, "No American president can afford to remain idle if Israel is threatened." (Photo courtesy The Sunday Times of London)

By Skeeter Sanders

President Bush has informed Israeli government officials that he may look favorably on a pre-emptive military strike by the Jewish state on Iran's nuclear facilities if negotiations with Tehran to end its nuclear development program fail, a British newspaper reported Sunday.

The president gave an “amber light” -- one step shy of full approval -- to an Israeli plan to attack Iran’s main nuclear sites with long-range jet bombers, despite strong opposition by top American military commanders and widespread public concern that the U.S. is willing to risk "catastrophic" military, political and economic consequences if an attack on Iran is carried out, a senior Defense Department official told The Sunday Times of London.

“Amber means get on with your preparations, stand by for immediate attack and tell us when you’re ready,” the official said. But he added that the Israelis were warned not to expect any assistance from U.S. military forces if they proceed with an attack and that they will be barred from utilizing American military bases in Iraq.

The newspaper reported, however, that it was unlikely that Bush would give his full approval to an Israeli strike without "irrefutable evidence of lethal Iranian hostility." It quoted the senior Pentagon official as saying that Israel had not yet presented Bush with a convincing military proposal. “If there is no solid plan, the amber will never turn to green,” he said.

The Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency, assessing last week's test firings of Iranian missiles -- including intermediate-range missiles capable of striking Israel -- concluded that while "provocative and poorly judged," did not represent an immediate threat to the Jewish state or to U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf, The Sunday Times reported.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that she saw the launches as “evidence that the missile threat is not an imaginary one,” -- although the impact of the Iranian stunt was diminished the following day when it became clear that a photograph purporting to show the missiles being launched had been falsified.

Iran-Israel War Could Trigger Second Great Depression. . .

“It’s really all down to the Israelis,” the newspaper quoted its Pentagon source -- who spoke on condition of anonymity -- as saying. “This administration will not attack Iran. This has already been decided. But the president is really preoccupied with the nuclear threat against Israel and I know he doesn’t believe that anything but force will deter Iran.”

On the other hand, any attack on Iran by the Israelis would almost certainly trigger a "massive" retaliation against the Jewish state by the Islamic republic and have catastrophic consequences for the rest of the world.

Nowhere would those consequences be felt more keenly than in the already-volatile oil markets -- sending fuel prices rocketing to unimaginable heights and sending the world economy into an uncontrollable tailspin -- perhaps leading toward a second Great Depression.

Abdalla Salem El-Badri, secretary-general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, told The Sunday Times that a military conflict involving either the U.S. or Israel against Iran -- the world's second-largest oil producer, after Saudi Arabia -- would severely reduce or even shut down Iranian production and oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz from the Persian Gulf.

That, in turn, would trigger an immediate and “unlimited” skyrocketing of world oil prices far beyond what the world economy can absorb -- setting off a chain of events plunging the economy into collapse.

. . .And Endanger U.S. Troops Throughout Persian Gulf Region

A war between Iran and Israel would also pose a danger to American military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the Persian Gulf region. A senior Iranian official said Saturday that Iran would fire a massive barrage of missiles to "destroy" Israel and 32 American military bases all over the Middle East in retaliation for any attack on the Islamic republic.

The specter of a rapidly escalating conflict has triggered fierce opposition inside the Pentagon to any attack on Iran by either Israel or the U.S., The Sunday Times reported. “The uniform people are opposed to the attack plans, mainly because they think it will endanger our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the newspaper quoted its Pentagon source as saying.

There is good reason for Pentagon insiders to be worried:

# Iran is a far stronger regional military power today than Iraq was under Saddam Hussein.

# It is the one country in the region that can match Israel in a direct confrontation.

# It fought Iraq to a bloody draw in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.

# It acquired as many as 140 Iraqi warplanes -- most of them Soviet-built MiGs -- during the 1991 Gulf War when Iraqi pilots fled to Iran rather than battle with U.S. warplanes.

It has been engaged in a massive military buildup in the 17 years since.

Iranian IRBMs Could Strike as Far Away as Europe, Russia, India

Iran’s state-run media reported that among the round of missiles it test-fired last week included a modified Shahab-3 intermediate-range ballistic missile, which has a claimed range of 1,250 miles and could theoretically deliver a one-ton nuclear warhead over Israeli cities.

Tel Aviv, Israel's largest city, lies about 650 miles from western Iran. General Hossein Salami, a senior Revolutionary Guard commander, boasted that “our hands are always on the trigger and our missiles are ready for launch.”

If the Iranians' claim about the Shahab-3's 1,250-mile range is accurate, it could strike targets as far away as Europe, Russia, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Next to Israel, Saudi Arabia -- home of the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina and the spiritual heartland of Sunni Islam -- is also deeply worried about an attack on its soil by the Shiite-dominated Islamic republic, which Riyadh considers its no. 1 enemy within the Islamic world.

# # #


Copy of U.S. Constitution

The Fourth Amendment of the supreme law of this country -- the Constitution of the United States -- says quite explicitly that the people's right "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated" without the prior issuance, upon a finding of probable cause by a court of law, of a warrant for such searches and seizures. So why did Congress pass -- and President Bush sign into law -- a new version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that authorizes warrantless surveillance of Americans' electronic communications in clear violation of the Fourth Amendment? (Image courtesy Cornell University Law School)

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit Thursday to stop the government from conducting surveillance without court warrants under a newly-revised survaillance law that gives the Bush administration virtually unchecked power to intercept Americans' international e-mails and telephone calls.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, was filed on behalf of a broad coalition of attorneys and human rights, labor, legal and media organizations whose ability to perform their work -- which relies on confidential communications -- will be greatly compromised by the revised Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that received final congressional approval and was quickly signed into law Wednesday by President Bush.

"Spying on Americans without warrants or judicial approval is an abuse of government power -- and that's exactly what this law allows. The ACLU will not sit by and let this evisceration of the Fourth Amendment go unchallenged," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "Electronic surveillance must be conducted in a constitutional manner that affords the greatest possible protection for individual privacy and free speech rights. The new wiretapping law fails to provide fundamental safeguards that the Constitution unambiguously requires."

After defeating three attempts to improve the update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Senate approved the FISA update on a 69-28 vote. Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois), the Democratic presidential nominee-elect, voted in favor of the measure, while his former rival, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) voted against.

After the vote, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing plaintiffs in 40 lawsuits against the telecom companies, also vowed to fight the bill in court, confirming a vow it made in a statement posted two weeks ago on the news site

“It is an immeasurable tragedy that just after its return from the Fourth of July holiday, the Senate has chosen to pass a bill that betrays the spirit of 1776 by radically expanding the president's spying powers and granting immunity to the companies that colluded in his illegal surveillance program,” said EFF senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston.

He vowed that the EFF "will fight this unconstitutional grant of immunity in the courtroom and in the Congress, requesting repeal of the immunity in the next session, while seeking justice from the judiciary" -- and promised new lawsuits to force the government to obey the Fourth Amendment and obtain court warrants for national security wiretaps.

Bush, Congress, Telecoms Ignore '70s Court Rulings That Warrantless Surveillance Violates Fourth Amendment

For more than two years, this blogger has argued relentlessly that the Bush administration's program of eavesdropping on the telephone conversations of Americans with overseas parties without first obtaining court warrants violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which bars unreasonable government searches and seizures.

The courts have ruled numerous times that the Fourth Amendment requires the government to obtain court warrants, upon a presentation of probable cause, for such surveillance, culminating in a unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court in 1972 to that effect, striking down a similar warrantelss wiretapping program by the administration of President Richard Nixon.

Over the same two-year-plus period, Congress has been deliberating over how to update FISA -- which it passed in 1978 in response to massive abuses of the government's surveillance authority under Nixon -- to account for technological advances made in the 30 years since its passage.

Telecom Immunity Violates First Amendment Right to Seek Redress, Foes Say

Other critics -- while stopping short of charging outright violations of the Constitution -- have long said that Bush simply ignored the original intent of the FISA law in ordering the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans' conversations with people abroad without first getting warrants from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court established under the law.

The bill won final congressional approved Wednesday despite the vehement opposition of civil liberties and privacy advocates. Not only does it re-authorize much of the warrantless data-mining and surveillance Bush initiated after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, it also grants legal immunity to telecommunications companies that facilitated the program.

That provision, critics say, violates the First Amendment right of Americans to seek judicial redress for the telecoms' failure to safeguard their Fourth Amendment right to privacy by not demanding the government produce court warrants for their millions of customers' confidential records.

Senators. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) and Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) co-sponsored an amendment to the FISA bill that would have removed the retroactive immunity provision. It failed, as did two separate attempts to modify the immunity provision.

Filibuster Against Telecom Immunity Fails

Dodd had vowed earlier this year to mount a filibuster to kill the telecom immunity provision, but conservative senators of both parties succeeded in mustering the 60 votes needed to cut off debate and move the measure forward.

House Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, tried to present the bill as a "compromise," but Feingold, who from his seats on the Judiciary, Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees has probably seen more about the program than anyone, called it a "capitulation."

“This legislation will give the government unfettered and unchecked access to innocent Americans’ international communications without a warrant,” said ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero. “This is not only unconstitutional, but absolutely un-American.”

# # #

Volume III, Number 42
Copyright 2008, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.


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John Maszka said...

Nous Tenons Á Notre Avis

It is in our nature to believe that our opinion is the right opinion. But everyone, be they liberal or conservative, understands that another war will break the back of the American economy.

Add to this the fact that Iran has over ten million men of military age, and it becomes an issue of blood and treasure. The only way that America can stand against such opposition is through a prolonged campaign of lethal air strikes, which will involve the slaughter of innocent civilians and bring the rightful outrage of the entire world upon our heads.

Not only would an attack against the sovereign state of Iran be wrong, it would be extremely foolish.

President Bush-
Il ne desire pas paix
Il ne desire rien mais guerre.
Il tient un livre de douleur et larmes
Il tient á ouvrir.
Il ne parait pas que il comprend
Il ne s’agit pas de legs…
Il ne faut pas ouvrir ce livre
Il ne contiennent que mort.

denmason said...

Bush needs to made to stand down by the American people NOW! This whole thing is being blown out of proportion. Don't forget folks, if there is a war going on at election time.... we won't be seeing Bush out of the White house come January. WAKE UP AMERICANS!!!

Anonymous said...

The stupid SOB, Israeli butt sniffer does not represent this American.

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