Monday, April 19, 2004

US Review of Death Penalty Cases Under Vienna Convention

I strongly support the view in today's New York Times editorial that the US comply with the decision of the International Court of Justice calling on the US to review the convictions of foreigners in the US who were denied access to consular officials from their home countries, which is a right granted under the Vienna Convention, to which the US is a signatory. As the editorial points out, the main concern is that US consular officials be granted access to US citizens arrested in foreign countries, who are much more likely to be subjected to torture or lesser mistreatment, than foreigners are in the US. It is a simple matter of protecting Americans. I suppose Bush's solution, given his contempt for law and diplomacy, is to forget the law and instead send in US troops to kill the foreign prison guards and release any Americans who he thinks have been arrested and treated improperly.
Woodward Book

I am glad that Secretary of State Powell appears to be getting his view out in Bob Woodward's new book, although the book is apparently not released, yet. Powell is probably worried about his place in history, since he has spent his career at State surrounded by a bunch of uneducated idiots in other parts of the government, i.e., Bush and Cheney. Rumsfeld and Rice are not idiots, but they have not used their minds in their current positions. According to Woodward on "60 Minutes" last night, President Bush is totally uninterested in his place in history. He told Woodward, "History, we don't know. We'll all be dead." Bush probably never read a history book anyway.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Casey at the CIA

In chapter 2 of Dick Clarke's Against All Enemies, he describes Bill Casey's role at CIA in supplying Stinger missiles to the Afghan resistance during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. But it reminded me of my tour in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) before Clarke was there. I worked on National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) 11-12-80 "Prospects for Soviet Military Technology and R&D" which has since been almost entirely declassified. I was concerned that this NIE tended to make the Soviets look too powerful, and was not an accurate depiction of their military technology and R&D. I was surprised to find that then Secretary of State George Shultz shared that opinion of the intelligence produced by Casey's CIA. What was happening then was not unlike what happened with the CIA's intelligence on Iraq prior to the Iraq war, but Shultz was aware of it and took account of it better than his successors did.

In his memoir, Turmoil and Triumph, Secretary Shultz wrote that he was displeased by the way that Casey cooked intelligence to reflect his personal views. Shultz wrote:

I was also increasingly uneasy about CIA director Bill Casey. He had very strong policy positions, which were reflected in his intelligence briefings. He claimed he was objective. But his views were so strong and so ideological that they inevitably colored his selection and assessment of materials. I could not rely on what he said, nor could I accept without question the objectivity of the “intelligence” that he put out, especially in policy-sensitive areas. (p. 691)
Battleship New Jersey

In Chapter 2 of Against All Enemies, Dick Clarke writes about the battleship New Jersey firing "shells as big as Volkswagens" from off the coast of Lebanon to protect the American Embassy in Beirut. I remember shooting with the New Jersey in Vietnam. My heavy artillery battery was stationed with the 101st Airborne at LZ Sally near the coast, south of Quang Tri. The 101st got into a big firefight not far to the north, and since the New Jersey was in the area, someone invited them to join us in shelling the North Vietnamese in this firefight. When we would talk on our little radios to the infantry in the field or to our artillery battalion headquarters, the signal would be weak and full of static. When we talked to the New Jersey, it was like listening to a powerful, clear FM station back in the States. We could see the firefight clearly; the sky to the north was full of tracers. However, after we fired our guns, we all ran out to see the New Jersey's shells land. When you fire near friendly troops, you always give "Splash" over the radio about 5 seconds before the shells land, so that our troops know to duck. The New Jersey gave "Splash," but we never saw or heard any shells land a few seconds afterwards. I've always wondered where those shells went.
Diego Garcia

In chapter 2 of Dick Clarke's book Against All Enemies, he writes about President Reagan's decision to get involved in the Middle East, which included setting up an American base on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. One of the classic State Department telegrams I remember was a reply to a worried inquiry sent to a number of American embassies about how their governments would respond to our setting up such a base. One embassy replied, "Our government thinks Diego Garcia is a cigar."

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Powell Admits Iraq Intelligence Flawed

I am pleased that Secretary of State Powell has admitted that the US intelligence on Iraq that he presented to the UN a year ago was flawed. According to reports, he singled out the intelligence on mobile chemical weapons laboratories as some of the most misleading, apparently because the CIA told him that it had several sources for that information, but it did not. I doubt that Powell would have made such a statement if others in the administration, such as Richard Clarke and David Kay, had not begun to break through the cone of silence on the issue. Powell is a team player, as he demonstrated in the run-up to the war on Iraq. The administration paraded him at the UN for a presentation that has ended up making him look foolish and unprofessional, a stark contrast to Adlai Stevenson's presentation during the Cuban missile crisis. However, I think Powell, although he was wronged by this episode, would have stayed quiet, if others had not started screaming their heads off about it. I imagine that Powell is just biding his time until he can leave this administration gracefully, having had his fill of seeing the President do the bidding of wild men like Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, his deputy Wolfowitz, and Vice President Cheney, while Powell recommended a more prudent course of action that the President rejected.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Dick Clarke & Me

For the record, I worked for Richard Clarke, of Against All Enemies and 9/11 commission fame, for two years when he was Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs, from 1988 to 1990 on missile proliferation. We were not exactly two of a kind. He was a much more ruthless and efficient bureaucratic operator than I was. In any case, it was an interesting time for me, since Colin Powell (then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs) and Condi Rice (then NSC staffer for the old Soviet Union) were involved in missile proliferation issues, as was Charlie Duelfer, who is now the chief US weapons inspector in Iraq, but then was also a State/PM staffer.
World Court Decision and US Adherence to the Vienna Convention

As a former Foreign Service officer, I am pleased that the World Court has ordered American courts to review the death sentences of 51 Mexicans who have been sentenced to death in the US without being advised of their right under the Vienna Convention to consult with a Mexican consul. See New York Times article on the decision.

My first Foreign Service assignment was to Sao Paulo, Brazil, as a consular officer, where one of my jobs was to visit Americans who had been arrested in Brazil, to assure that they were treated properly. Shortly before I arrived, there were allegations that an American in Recife had been tortured after he was arrested. So, we tried to make sure that we were granted immediate access to all arrested Americans as provided for under the Vienna Convention. I am disappointed that while the US has traditionally insisted on this right for Americans overseas, we have not granted the same rights to foreigners arrested in the US.

The World Court did not claim to reverse any of the convictions, but it did say that the US erred in not advising the Mexicans of their rights under the Vienna Convention, or in not automatically notifying Mexican officials when one of their nationals was arrested. I am not worried that foreigners will be tortured in the US (athough that is more of a possibility with John Ashcroft as Attorney General), but I am worried that if the US disregards the Vienna Convention, we will not be able to insist that other nations obey it, and thus American citizens may be subject to poor treatment in foreign jails.
Kerry, Bush and Vietnam

It will probably be pretty clear that I am not a George W. Bush fan, mainly because of his use of "pre-emptive" war. War is such a serious thing that it should not be entered into lightly, as the Iraq war illustrated by its failure to win international support for invading to prevent Saddam's use of weapons of mass destruction, and then failing to find any. See my thoughts on Iraq during the run-up to the war there a year ago. I was so disgusted by the result that I haven't updated the site recently.

However, I am also not a John Kerry fan because I am a Vietnam veteran who believes that I did not commit any atrocities in Vietnam. I basically allowed myself to be drafted out of law school, when the draft board ended my student deferment, in part because I believed then, and still do, that in a democracy everybody should share the hardships as well as the benefits of government. I spent a year in the artillery (1969-70) on the DMZ of Vietnam, where fortunately the war was more conventional (more uniformed men and fewer women and children combatants), but in any case, as far as I know, I didn't kill any civilians intentionally or by accident.

When I returned to the US from Vietnam, I was disappointed that all anybody wanted to hear about were atrocities. Other students could have cared less that I went to Vietnam so that one of them didn't have to, or maybe even to prevent some poor South Vietnamese peasant from being killed by the Viet Cong or the North Vietnamese Army, at least for one year.

Finally, I'm not so sure about Kerry's getting three Purple Heart medals in four months without ever going to the hospital. I'm not saying he didn't get wounded three times (three more times than I did), but medals require a recommendation by superiors, as well as an act of bravery. Because of his patrician background, Kerry's superiors seemed to jump at the chance to recommend medals for him, more so than for some poor grunt in the boonies. To see how this played in World War II, see a cartoon from Bill Mauldin's Up Front. I'm glad Kerry went (unlike George W.), but if he had been serious, he would have spent more than four months in combat (for the sake of the men under him who needed some continuity of leadership, if not for himself or his country). He no doubt found that Vietnam was a messy war, morally and physically, and he understandably wanted out, but when he came back, he should have had more consideration for the men who served there, not branding them indiscriminately as immoral war criminals.

However, as a retired Foreign Service officer, I have to give Kerry credit for being the son of a Foreign Service officer, something many people probably count as a liability, rather than an asset.

Is Bush a Nice Man?

I was very pleased when Jon Stewart asked Karen Hughes on the Daily Show on March 31 why President Bush is so mean. Of course, her answer was that he's not mean, but he certainly comes across that way to me. He may be nice to people he likes, such as Karen Hughes, but he sticks his finger in the eye of people he doesn't like, such as all Democrats or the population of France. I'm disappointed that Karen Hughes' interview is not available on the Comedy Central web site (as Richard Clarke's is) to check on exactly what they said, but it was not a great interview, since she dodged most of Jon's serious questions.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Non-Proliferation Experience

I spent a considerable part of my State Department career working on non-proliferation matters, either nuclear proliferation or missile proliferation. I never worked specifically on chemical or biological weapons proliferation. President Reagan was elected after I had been in the State Department for about five years and was working on non-proliferation in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), which is the part of the State Department that works closely with the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The Carter Administration had begun working on the problem of missile proliferation, but with the change of administration, the senior people who had been working on this issue for Carter all lost their jobs. Although I was pretty junior, I was one of the few people who knew anything about it. Thus I had a larger role than I normally would have had in the creation of what eventually was called the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). This was my introduction to the competition between the State Department and the Defense Department.

At that time, missile proliferation fell under the control of a man named Richard Perle at the Defense Department. You may recognize his name as the chairman, and then member until recently, of the Defense Advisory Board, and as one of the main hawks favoring war with Iraq. Back then he was an assistant secretary of defense, which is not particularly high ranking, but his influence was much greater than his title would indicate. Some of Perle’s staff from those days is still around, including the #2 at the NSC, Deputy NSC Advisor Steve Hadley.

State was seeking a missile non-proliferation regime that we could get other countries to join. Perle was seeking an extremely tough regime that would cut off almost all trade in anything having to do with either missiles or peaceful space launch vehicles, since space launch vehicles incorporate a lot of missile technology. At first we only sought the cooperation of our closest allies – Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada and a few other countries. Back then, Donald Rumsfeld’s “new” Europe was still Communist Europe. Anyway, our allies would not buy on to a regime that was too tough on peaceful space cooperation, and within the US Government, the Pentagon would not buy on to a regime that allowed too much peaceful space cooperation. So, we negotiated with our allies and within the government until I got assigned to Bangkok, Thailand. When I got back from assignments in Bangkok and Brasilia, Brazil, they had reached agreement on what they called the MTCR, which turned out to be one of those things designed by committee that generally pleases no one.

It did not please me, because while I was in Brazil, I helped an American company win a multimillion-dollar contract for satellite tracking stations to allow Brazil to use satellites to monitor environmental conditions in the Amazon. A few months later, however, the Pentagon vetoed the deal because it said the tracking stations could be used to track missiles if Brazil tried to develop them, although they would have been poorly suited for this purpose. The US eventually approved licenses for the ground stations, but my Brazilian contacts were furious with me because of my role in persuading them to buy American. They said that they would have bought a similar Japanese system if they had known the US would have created so many problems for their environmental satellite program. However, the State Department office in Washington that had been created to handle the MTCR asked me to come back and help them get it working. So, I spent another two years trying to get more rich countries to sign on to it, and to get better enforcement of what we already had in place against poorer, potentially proliferating countries. The MTCR still exists, has much wider membership, hopefully has stronger controls, and is being supplemented by other agreements on missile control. My boss during this assignment was Richard Clarke of "Against All Enemies" book fame.

In the early days, one of the most contentious issues was what to do about SCUD missiles, which were at the lower limit of what the regime controlled. SCUDs were first produced by the Soviet Union, but the Soviets sold not only the missiles themselves, but also the technology to build them. So, today they are produced by a number of unsavory countries, including North Korea. You may remember that during the first Gulf War, Iraq fired SCUDS at Israel and US troops in Saudi Arabia. They were one of the weapons of mass destruction that we expected Saddam Hussein to use in the second war. But they were not used and like other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, Iraq’s SCUDS have gone missing, although before the war UN inspectors did find and destroy components for a more advanced missile based on the SCUD.

One sad thing I learned at State is that it’s easier for the government to do easy things than for it to do hard things. This may sound simplistic, but I found that it was often easier to take action against moderate countries that were not so bad, like Brazil or Argentina, than against tough countries that were really misbehaving, like Pakistan or China. It looks to me like this still going on today. Despite all that we have learned in the last few months about A.Q. Khan, the father of the Pakistani bomb, selling nuclear technology to North Korea, Iran, Libya, and possibly Iraq, the US remains on good terms with Pakistan because we need their help in Afghanistan and the search for Osama bin Laden.

Pakistan built its atomic bombs using uranium enrichment technology; Pakistan is the developing country that has the best expertise in uranium enrichment. The latest big flap in our relations with North Korea is over their building a uranium enrichment facility. But because of our terrorist problems in Afghanistan and elsewhere, we are reluctant to crack down on Pakistan. So, we recently sanctioned North Korea for its relatively low-grade missile proliferation activities in helping Pakistan with missiles. But we have not sanctioned Pakistan, because of political considerations.
Russia and China remain problem countries. Russia stands accused of supplying somewhat similar nuclear technology or equipment to Iran. Russia and Iran have nuclear cooperation going back years and years. China appears to have been the source of some crucial nuclear technology acquired by the Pakistanis. But because of our huge trade relationship with China and our need for China’s help with North Korea, we remain quiet about China’s other activities.