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The U.S. government is investigating the first reported death of a driver whose car was in self-driving mode when he crashed. Joshua D. Brown, 40, died May 7 when his Tesla Model S, which was operating on “autopilot,” failed to activate its brakes and hit a truck in Florida.
The crash raises questions about autonomous and semi-autonomous cars, their capabilities and their limits. Here are answers to some of those questions:
Q: ARE THERE SELF-DRIVING CARS ON U.S. STREETS RIGHT NOW?
A: Yes, but in limited numbers. Various companies, including Google, Ford and Uber, have test fleets of autonomous cars running in specific areas, including Mountain View, California, and Austin, Texas. Right now, those vehicles always have a steering wheel, brakes and a driver ready to take over in case of a problem, but prototype cars without steering wheels are also being developed.
Q: HOW DO THEY WORK?
A: A network of cameras, radars and lasers feeds information to the car’s computers, helping to fill in the gaps in the GPS system, which knows how to get the car from point to point. Cameras let the car see what’s around it, while radar senses things in the dark or in inclement weather. Lasers constantly scan the road and give a three-dimensional picture of what’s going on.
Q: ARE THERE LAWS ALLOWING SELF-DRIVING CARS?
A: Right now, it’s a patchwork. Eight states — including Nevada, Michigan, Florida and Tennessee — and Washington D.C. have laws allowing autonomous vehicles. Other states have legislation in the works. Later this summer, the federal government is expected to release guidelines for the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles.
Q: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SELF-DRIVING CARS?
A: Self-driving cars have the potential to save lives by anticipating accidents before they happen. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said Friday that 90 percent of car accidents are caused by human error, and distracted or drowsy driving accounts for some 13 percent of those crashes. The accidents cost about $870 billion a year globally.
Q: CAN I BUY A SELF-DRIVING CAR?
A: No. A few automakers offer cars and SUVs with semi-autonomous modes that can perform some functions without help from the driver, including maintaining a set speed, braking, changing lanes and even parallel parking. Semi-autonomous features can be found on high-end vehicles from Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti and Volvo. Some lower-priced models have them, too. Toyota, for example, plans to make automatic emergency braking standard on its vehicles by 2017, ahead of a self-imposed deadline of 2022 that most automakers have agreed to.
Q: WHEN WILL COMPLETELY SELF-DRIVING CARS BE AVAILABLE TO CONSUMERS?
A: That’s not yet clear. Volvo plans a large-scale test of driverless cars in Sweden next year. Google wants to make cars available to the public around the end of 2019. BMW, Intel and Israel’s Mobileye have teamed up to roll out the cars by 2021.
IHS Automotive, a consulting firm, predicts that the U.S. will see the earliest deployment of autonomous vehicles, with several thousand on the road by 2020. That number will rise to 4.5 million vehicles by 2035, IHS says. But even if the vehicles are on the road, they might not be in your garage. The earliest self-driving cars might be on-demand taxis, employee shuttles or other shared vehicles.
Q: WHAT ARE THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGES TO GETTING AUTONOMOUS CARS ON THE ROAD?
A: Driverless cars need detailed maps to follow, and companies are still mapping roads. They also can have trouble staying within lanes in heavy rain or snow. And, as the Tesla crash showed, there will always be scenarios that driverless cars can’t foresee or navigate correctly. Brown’s car didn’t see an oncoming tractor-trailer because it was white against a brightly lit sky. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the car’s radar is also designed to tune out what looks like overhead signs to prevent false braking.
Q: HOW COULD THE TESLA AUTOPILOT NOT SEE SOMETHING AS LARGE AS A TRACTOR-TRAILER?
A: Raj Rajkumar, a computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University who leads its autonomous vehicle research, said computers can’t be programmed to handle every situation. But Tesla may need to adjust its radar, he said.
Tesla would not comment directly on the radar and computer programs, but the company issued a statement saying that it continually advances its software by analyzing hundreds of millions of miles of driving data. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking at the design and performance of Tesla’s system as part of its investigation.
Tesla has plenty of customers, but still no profit
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Tesla shares got a little pop in after-hours trading Wednesday after the electric car maker delivered an earnings report in line with expectations and an optimistic outlook.
But I think the stock’s run is already over.
The primary reason? Profitability.
Tesla stock soared for a few months starting in February following news that pre-orders for the electric-car maker’s Model 3, with a price tag of $35,000, were approaching 400,000 units.
But, as well-known short seller Jim Chanos so perfectly put it in an interview with CNBC: “We have all kinds of questions on the profitability of the business.”
First, the Model 3. This was Tesla’s play for an “affordable” electric car but it appears to be affordable for everyone EXCEPT Tesla.
Tesla loses more than $4,000 on each of its high-end Model S electric sedans; and that model’s cost is between $70 and $108k. With margins like that, one has to assume a $35k Model 3 can’t be the answer to solving Tesla’s red ink.
Tesla’s income statement reveals the company is hemorrhaging cash at a robust clip. Furthermore, according to TheStreet Ratings, they have a net profit margin of -26.38 percent and a quick ratio of 0.49, which means they have 49 cents in available cash to pay every $1 of current liabilities.
Worse than its lousy earnings and cash flow, Tesla is grossly overvalued compared to its peers. Tesla’s market cap is more than $30 billion, compared to Fiat Chrysler at around $10 billion and Ferrari at around $8 billion. Being valued at 3x more than FCAU — an established and profitable company — looks especially absurd when considering FCAU produces annual sales of over $130 billion, while Tesla produces revenue of only $4 billion.
Furthermore, Tesla’s market cap is nearly two-thirds of General Motors‘ market cap. This is despite the fact that General Motors has a history of selling 10 million cars at a profit each year and Tesla sold less than 100,000 cars last year at a loss. They would have to sell 6.6 million cars this year to justify its current valuation. With less than 400,000 cars on pre-order that doesn’t appear likely anytime soon.
In a February interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box, Former GM executive Bob Lutz noted that, “[TSLA] costs have always been higher than their revenue…They always have to get more capital. Then they burn through it.”
First, he pointed out that, on the back of falling oil prices, demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is slowing. Second, there is growing competition that will cut into Tesla’s margins as prices for EVs fall. Tesla has a lot of competition over the next few years. The industry is already awaiting the Apple car with bated breath that is set to launch in four years. And GM’s Chevy Bolt is similarly priced with a similar range and is set to come out this year. And then we have the Nissan Leaf expected to more competitive in the coming months and years. And add to that first generation vehicles like the BMW i3.
And in China, they have the EV Company LeEco, which recently unveiled its very first electric car that includes self-driving and self-parking capability using voice commands via a mobile app. Besides LeEco, there is another Chinese EV auto maker that sold more electric cars last year than Tesla, Nissan or GM, it’s called BYD Co. and is now targeting the U.S. market.
Lutz believes that competition from industry heavyweights like these could “kill” Tesla in the future.
“The major OEMs like GM, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, etc … they have to build electric cars, a certain number, in order to satisfy the requirements in about half of the states. Those have to be jammed into the marketplace, otherwise they can no longer sell SUVs and full-size pickups and the stuff that they really make money on. So that is going to generically depress the prices of electric vehicles,” Lutz warned.
Lutz also explained that companies such as General Motors will not be making any money on their “Tesla killer.” They are making these vehicles to appease Washington.
“The majors are going to accept the losses on the electric vehicles as a necessary cost of doing business in order to sell the big gasoline stuff that people really want. Well, Tesla does not have that option,” Lutz said.
But Musk has a strategy for driving down the cost of his electric car that hinges on achieving economies of scale, bringing down the production cost of the battery pack by 30 percent. This hinges on the success of their future Nevada home called the “Gigafactory.”
The Gigafactory is a one-stop shopping in battery-pack production. The company currently buys battery packs through a deal with Panasonicand has partnered with Panasonic in this venture. Production volume at the Gigafactory is anticipated to be the equivalent of over 30 gigawatt-hours per year; this would mean the Gigafactory would produce more storage than all the lithium battery factories in the world combined. The $5 billion dollar plant is as big as the Pentagon Tesla, and Tesla is hoping to produce 500,000 lithium ion batteries annually.
Musk recently laid out his Energy-branded battery ambition in rock star glory. At the event spectacle, Musk declared that his batteries would someday render the world’s energy grid obsolete. “We are talking about trying to change the fundamental energy infrastructure of the world,” he said.
Musk envisions his affordable, clean energy will one day power the remote villages of underdeveloped countries as well as allowing the average homeowner in industrial nations to go off the grid.
But before you sever your ties with your electrical company, it’s worth noting that not everyone thinks Musk’s plans are achievable – at least not in the time frame he envisions.
Panasonic, the supplier of the lithium-ion cells that form the foundation of Tesla’s batteries, and partner on the company’s forthcoming battery factory — calls Musk’s claims a lot of hyperbole.
“We are at the very beginning in energy storage in general,” said Phil Hermann, chief energy engineer at Panasonic Eco Solutions. “Most of the projects currently going on are either demo projects or learning experiences for the utilities. There is very little direct commercial stuff going on. Elon Musk is out there saying you can do things now that the rest of us are hearing and going, ‘really?’ We wish we could, but it’s not really possible yet.”
And far from the grand stage with little fanfare buried in their November 10Q Tesla also sought to tamper investor’s expectations: “Given the size and complexity of this undertaking, the cost of building and operating the Gigafactory could exceed our current expectations, we may have difficulty signing up additional partners, and the Gigafactory may take longer to bring online than we anticipate.”
With a company saddled with debt and cash-strapped, who is going to shoulder the burden of a delay in the Gigafactory realizing its full potential? That would be shareholders through stock dilution or the American tax payer – but most likely a combination of both. There are those who believe that Musk’s real genius is in following government subsidies.
Tesla’s model relies strongly on a “green” administration. According to the Los Angeles Times, all of Musk’s ventures: Tesla Motors, SolarCityand Space Exploration Technologies, known as SpaceX, together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support. The figure underscores a common theme running through his emerging empire: a public-private financing model underpinning long-shot start-ups.
The promise is that the Tesla stockholders and the tax subsidizing public will greatly benefit from major pollution reductions as electric cars break through as viable alternative and gain access to mass-market production.
And frankly, I’m not convinced that electric cars are even good for the environment. First, it’s important to note that at this time, these cars don’t power themselves — they are plugged into an outlet in your garage that connects to an electric power plant. Second, there are a lot of environmental questions about the lithium battery itself. In a 2012 study titled “Science for Environment Policy” published by the European Union, a comparison was made of the lithium ion batteries to other types of batteries available such as; lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal-hydride and sodium Sulphur. They concluded that the lithium ion batteries have the largest impact on metal depletion, making recycling more complicated.
Musk may be a genius and a visionary but the truth is that Tesla has an unproven business model and a stock that is massively overpriced. Even if some year in the distant future there exists the charging infrastructure and pricing available to make electric vehicles conducive to supplant the internal combustion engine, Tesla faces an onslaught of competition that will most likely drive its profit margins further into the red for years to come.
So, as far as I’m concerned, the stock is not a buy — no matter what earnings say. The math just doesn’t add up.
Commentary by Michael Pento, the president and founder of Pento Portfolio Strategies and author of the book “The Coming Bond Market Collapse.” His weekly podcast is “The Mid-week Reality Check.”
Disclosure: Neither Michael Pento nor the firm own any positions in Tesla stock. However, several Pento clients own puts on Tesla.
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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts
The Pronk Pops Show 551, October 12, 2015, Story 1: President Obama Stalls Islamic State While He Runs Out The Clock On His Failed Presidency — Who is next? President Trump — Obama A Real Loser — Leading On Climate Change — Give Me A Break! — Videos
60 Minutes in 60 Seconds (Day 36)
Obama talks Russia’s escalation in Syria on “60 Minutes”
“60 Minutes” interview: President Obama
Dr David Evans on Global Warming
50 to 1 Project – David Evans Interview
Freeman Dyson on the Global Warming Hysteria April, 2015
High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq
Emma Sky: “The Unraveling”
Reflections on the Future of War with Gen. Raymond Odierno
Thomas Barnett: Rethinking America’s military strategy
Donald Trump Iran Deal FULL SPEECH, Against Iran Nuclear Agreement at Tea Party Rally Sept. 9, 2015
The Iran Nuclear Deal
Iran and the Bomb
Climate Change in 12 Minutes – The Skeptic’s Case
Climategate: What They Aren’t Telling You!
Krauthammer: ‘Sputtering’ Obama Admin Has No Idea What to Do About Russia, Syria
Donald Trump Fox & Friends RIPS Obama 60 Minute Interview & Biden’s Low Poll Numbers FULL Interview
Donald trump Meet The Press FULL Interview 10/4/2015
60 Minutes Host Destroys Barack Obama On Syria
60 Minutes Host Embarrasses Barack Obama On Syria II
Background Articles and Videos
MAJOR REDUCTIONS IN CARBON EMISSIONS ARE NOT WORTH THE MONEY DEBATE: PETER HUBER
MAJOR REDUCTIONS IN CARBON EMISSIONS ARE NOT WORTH THE MONEY DEBATE: PHILIP STOTT
Professor Fred Singer on Climate Change Pt 1
Professor Fred Singer on Climate Change Pt 2
Global Warming, Lysenkoism & Eugenics Prof Richard Lindzen
Interview with Professor Richard Lindzen
Richard Lindzen, Ph.D. Lecture Deconstructs Global Warming Hysteria (High Quality Version)
Global Warming – Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton | States of Fear: Science or Politics?
Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 1 of 6
Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 2 of 6
Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 3 of 6
Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 4 of 6
Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 5 of 6
Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 6 of 6
Global warming and the Carbon Tax Scam
The Great Global Warming Swindle Full Movie
Global Warming: How Hot Air and Bad Science Will Give YOU Staggeringly Higher Taxes and Prices
Sen. Inhofe To Investigate ClimateGate
Lou Dobbs: ‘Who The Hell Does The President Think He Is?’
The Free-Market Case for Green
ManBearPig, Climategate and Watermelons: A conversation with author James Delingpole
James Delingpole: Great Britain, the Green Movement, and the End of the World
George Carlin on Global Warming
Americans Skeptical of Science Behind Global Warming
“…Most Americans (52%) believe that there continues to be significant disagreement within the scientific community over global warming.
While many advocates of aggressive policy responses to global warming say a consensus exists, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 25% of adults think most scientists agree on the topic. Twenty-three percent (23%) are not sure. …”
Full Interview: President Obama on ISIS, Putin, Trump on “60 Minutes”
President Obama on destroying ISIS in Iraq:
Steve Kroft: The last time we talked was this time last year, and the situation in Syria and Iraq had begun to worsen vis-Ã -vis ISIS. You had just unveiled a plan to provide air support for troops in Iraq, and also some air strikes in Syria, and the training and equipping of a moderate Syrian force. You said that this would degrade and eventually destroy ISIS.
President Barack Obama: Over time.
Steve Kroft: Over time. It’s been a year, and–
President Barack Obama: I didn’t say it was going to be done in a year.
Steve Kroft: No. But you said…
President Barack Obama: There’s a question in here somewhere.
Steve Kroft: Who’s going to get rid of them?
President Barack Obama: Over time, the community of nations will all get rid of them, and we will be leading getting rid of them. But we are not going to be able to get rid of them unless there is an environment inside of Syria and in portions of Iraq in which local populations, local Sunni populations, are working in a concerted way with us to get rid of them.
On the “moderate opposition” in Syria:
Steve Kroft: You have been talking about the moderate opposition in Syria. It seems very hard to identify. And you talked about the frustrations of trying to find some and train them. You got a half a billion dollars from Congress to train and equip 5,000, and at the end, according to the commander CENTCOM, you got 50 people, most of whom are dead or deserted. He said four or five left?
President Barack Obama: Steve, this is why I’ve been skeptical from the get go about the notion that we were going to effectively create this proxy army inside of Syria. My goal has been to try to test the proposition, can we be able to train and equip a moderate opposition that’s willing to fight ISIL? And what we’ve learned is that as long as Assad remains in power, it is very difficult to get those folks to focus their attention on ISIL.
Steve Kroft: If you were skeptical of the program to find and identify, train and equip moderate Syrians, why did you go through the program?
President Barack Obama: Well, because part of what we have to do here, Steve, is to try different things. Because we also have partners on the ground that are invested and interested in seeing some sort of resolution to this problem. And–
Steve Kroft: And they wanted you to do it.
President Barack Obama: Well, no. That’s not what I said. I think it is important for us to make sure that we explore all the various options that are available.
Steve Kroft: I know you don’t want to talk about this.
President Barack Obama: No, I’m happy to talk about it.
Steve Kroft: I want to talk about the– this program, because it would seem to show, I mean, if you expect 5,000 and you get five, it shows that somebody someplace along the line did not– made– you know, some sort of a serious miscalculation.
President Barack Obama: You know, the– the– Steve, let me just say this.
Steve Kroft: It’s an embarrassment.
President Barack Obama: Look, there’s no doubt that it did not work. And, one of the challenges that I’ve had throughout this heartbreaking situation inside of Syria is, is that– you’ll have people insist that, you know, all you have to do is send in a few– you know, truckloads full of arms and people are ready to fight. And then, when you start a train-and-equip program and it doesn’t work, then people say, “Well, why didn’t it work?” Or, “If it had just started three months earlier it would’ve worked.”
Steve Kroft: But you said yourself you never believed in this.
President Barack Obama: Well– but Steve, what I have also said is, is that surprisingly enough it turns out that in a situation that is as volatile and with as many players as there are inside of Syria, there aren’t any silver bullets. And this is precisely why I’ve been very clear that America’s priorities has to be number one, keeping the American people safe. Number two, we are prepared to work both diplomatically and where we can to support moderate opposition that can help convince the Russians and Iranians to put pressure on Assad for a transition. But that what we are not going to do is to try to reinsert ourselves in a military campaign inside of Syria. Let’s take the situation in Afghanistan, which I suspect you’ll ask about. But I wanted to use this as an example.
Steve Kroft: All right. I feel like I’m being filibustered, Mr. President.
President Barack Obama: No, no, no, no, no. Steve, I think if you want to roll back the tape, you’ve been giving me long questions and statements, and now I’m responding to ’em. So let’s– so– if you ask me big, open-ended questions, expect big, open-ended answers. Let’s take the example of Afghanistan. We’ve been there 13 years now close to 13 years. And it’s still hard in Afghanistan. Today, after all the investments we have there, and we still have thousands of troops there. So the notion that after a year in Syria, a country where the existing government hasn’t invited us in, but is actively keeping us out, that somehow we would be able to solve this quickly– is–
Steve Kroft: We didn’t say quickly.
President Barack Obama: –is– is– is an illusion. And– and–
Steve Kroft: Nobody’s expecting that, Mr. President.
President Barack Obama: Well, the– no, I understand, but what I’m– the simple point I’m making, Steve, is that the solution that we’re going to have inside of Syria is ultimately going to depend not on the United States putting in a bunch of troops there, resolving the underlying crisis is going to be something that requires ultimately the key players there to recognize that there has to be a transition to new government. And, in the absence of that, it’s not going to work.
Steve Kroft: One of the key players now is Russia.
President Barack Obama: Yeah.
Steve Kroft: A year ago when we did this interview, there was some saber-rattling between the United States and Russia on the Ukrainian border. Now it’s also going on in Syria. You said a year ago that the United States– America leads. We’re the indispensible nation. Mr. Putin seems to be challenging that leadership.
President Barack Obama: In what way? Let– let’s think about this– let– let–
Steve Kroft: Well, he’s moved troops into Syria, for one. He’s got people on the ground. Two, the Russians are conducting military operations in the Middle East for the first time since World War II–
President Barack Obama: So that’s–
Steve Kroft: –bombing the people– that we are supporting.
President Barack Obama: So that’s leading, Steve? Let me ask you this question. When I came into office, Ukraine was governed by a corrupt ruler who was a stooge of Mr. Putin. Syria was Russia’s only ally in the region. And today, rather than being able to count on their support and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they’ve had for a long time, Mr. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally. And in Ukraine–
Steve Kroft: He’s challenging your leadership, Mr. President. He’s challenging your leadership–
President Barack Obama: Well Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership. My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris. My definition of leadership is mobilizing the entire world community to make sure that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon. And with respect to the Middle East, we’ve got a 60-country coalition that isn’t suddenly lining up around Russia’s strategy. To the contrary, they are arguing that, in fact, that strategy will not work.
Steve Kroft: My point is– was not that he was leading, my point is that he was challenging your leadership. And he has very much involved himself in the situation. Can you imagine anything happening in Syria of any significance at all without the Russians now being involved in it and having a part of it?
President Barack Obama: But that was true before. Keep in mind that for the last five years, the Russians have provided arms, provided financing, as have the Iranians, as has Hezbollah.
Steve Kroft: But they haven’t been bombing and they haven’t had troops on the ground–
President Barack Obama: And the fact that they had to do this is not an indication of strength, it’s an indication that their strategy did not work.
Steve Kroft: You don’t think–
President Barack Obama: You don’t think that Mr. Putin would’ve preferred having Mr. Assad be able to solve this problem without him having to send a bunch of pilots and money that they don’t have?
Steve Kroft: Did you know he was going to do all this when you met with him in New York?
President Barack Obama: Well, we had seen– we had pretty good intelligence. We watch–
Steve Kroft: So you knew he was planning to do it.
President Barack Obama: We knew that he was planning to provide the military assistance that Assad was needing because they were nervous about a potential imminent collapse of the regime.
Steve Kroft: You say he’s doing this out of weakness. There is a perception in the Middle East among our adversaries, certainly and even among some of our allies that the United States is in retreat, that we pulled our troops out of Iraq and ISIS has moved in and taken over much of that territory. The situation in Afghanistan is very precarious and the Taliban is on the march again. And ISIS controls a large part of Syria.
President Barack Obama: I think it’s fair to say, Steve, that if–
Steve Kroft: It’s– they– let me just finish the thought. They say your–
President Barack Obama: You’re–
Steve Kroft: –they say you’re projecting a weakness, not a strength–
President Barack Obama: –you’re saying “they,” but you’re not citing too many folks. But here–
Steve Kroft: No, I’ll cite– I’ll cite if you want me, too.
President Barack Obama: –here– yes. Here–
Steve Kroft: I’d say the Saudis. I’d say the Israelis. I’d say a lot of our friends in the Middle East. I’d say everybody in the Republican party. Well, you want me to keep going?
President Barack Obama: Yeah. The– the– if you are– if you’re citing the Republican party, I think it’s fair to say that there is nothing I’ve done right over the last seven and a half years. And I think that’s right. It– and– I also think what is true is that these are the same folks who were making an argument for us to go into Iraq and who, in some cases, still have difficulty acknowledging that it was a mistake. And Steve, I guarantee you that there are factions inside of the Middle East, and I guess factions inside the Republican party who think that we should send endless numbers of troops into the Middle East, that the only measure of strength is us sending back several hundred thousand troops, that we are going to impose a peace, police the region, and– that the fact that we might have more deaths of U.S. troops, thousands of troops killed, thousands of troops injured, spend another trillion dollars, they would have no problem with that. There are people who would like to see us do that. And unless we do that, they’ll suggest we’re in retreat.
Steve Kroft: They’ll say you’re throwing in the towel–
President Barack Obama: No. Steve, we have an enormous presence in the Middle East. We have bases and we have aircraft carriers. And our pilots are flying through those skies. And we are currently supporting Iraq as it tries to continue to build up its forces. But the problem that I think a lot of these critics never answered is what’s in the interest of the United States of America and at what point do we say that, “Here are the things we can do well to protect America. But here are the things that we also have to do in order to make sure that America leads and America is strong and stays number one.” And if in fact the only measure is for us to send another 100,000 or 200,000 troops into Syria or back into Iraq, or perhaps into Libya, or perhaps into Yemen, and our goal somehow is that we are now going to be, not just the police, but the governors of this region. That would be a bad strategy Steve. And I think that if we make that mistake again, then shame on us.
Steve Kroft: Do you think the world’s a safer place?
President Barack Obama: America is a safer place. I think that there are places, obviously, like Syria that are not safer than when I came into office. But, in terms of us protecting ourselves against terrorism, in terms of us making sure that we are strengthening our alliances, in terms of our reputation around the world, absolutely we’re stronger.
On Friday, the Pentagon ended the program to train-and-equip Syrian rebels that the president told us did not work. In a moment, he talks about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton’s emails and Joe Biden’s possible run for president.
On Donald Trump and the 2016 election:
Steve Kroft: OK. Mr. President, there are a lot of serious problems with the world right now, but I want to ask you a few questions about politics.
President Barack Obama: Yeah, go ahead.
Steve Kroft: What do you think of Donald Trump?
President Barack Obama: Well, I think that he is a great publicity-seeker and at a time when the Republican party hasn’t really figured out what it’s for, as opposed to what it’s against. I think that he is tapped into something that exists in the Republican party that’s real. I think there is genuine anti-immigrant sentiment in the large portion of at least Republican primary voters. I don’t think it’s uniform. He knows how to get attention. He is, you know, the classic reality TV character and, at this early stage, it’s not surprising that he’s gotten a lot of attention.
Steve Kroft: You think he’s running out of steam? I mean, you think he’s going to disappear?
President Barack Obama: You know, I’ll leave it up to the pundits to make that determination. I don’t think he’ll end up being president of the United States.
Steve Kroft: Did you know about Hillary Clinton’s use of private email server–
President Barack Obama: No.
Steve Kroft: –while she was Secretary of State?
President Barack Obama: No.
Steve Kroft: Do you think it posed a national security problem?
President Barack Obama: I don’t think it posed a national security problem. I think that it was a mistake that she has acknowledged and– you know, as a general proposition, when we’re in these offices, we have to be more sensitive and stay as far away from the line as possible when it comes to how we handle information, how we handle our own personal data. And, you know, she made a mistake. She has acknowledged it. I do think that the way it’s been ginned-up is in part because of– in part– because of politics. And I think she’d be the first to acknowledge that maybe she could have handled the original decision better and the disclosures more quickly. But–
Steve Kroft: What was your reaction when you found out about it?
President Barack Obama: This is one of those issues that I think is legitimate, but the fact that for the last three months this is all that’s been spoken about is an indication that we’re in presidential political season.
Steve Kroft: Do you agree with what President Clinton has said and Secretary Clinton has said, that this is not– not that big a deal. Do you agree with that?
President Barack Obama: Well, I’m not going to comment on–
Steve Kroft: You think it’s not that big a deal–
President Barack Obama: What I think is that it is important for her to answer these questions to the satisfaction of the American public. And they can make their own judgment. I can tell you that this is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.
Steve Kroft: This administration has prosecuted people for having classified material on their private computers.
President Barack Obama: Well, I– there’s no doubt that there had been breaches, and these are all a matter of degree. We don’t get an impression that here there was purposely efforts– on– in– to hide something or to squirrel away information. But again, I’m gonna leave it to–
Steve Kroft: If she had come to you.
President Barack Obama: I’m going to leave it to Hillary when she has an interview with you to address all these questions.
Steve Kroft: Right now, there’s nobody on either side of the aisle that is exactly running on your record. Do you want Joe Biden to get in the race and do it?
President Barack Obama: You know, I am going to let Joe make that decision. And I mean what I say. I think Joe will go down as one of the finest vice presidents in history, and one of the more consequential. I think he has done great work. I don’t think there’s any politician at a national level that has not thought about being the president. And if you’re sitting right next to the president in every meeting and, you know wrestling with these issues, I’m sure that for him he’s saying to himself, “I could do a really good job.”
Steve Kroft: I do want to talk a little bit about Congress. Are you going to miss John Boehner?
President Barack Obama: John Boehner and I disagreed on just about everything. But the one thing I’ll say about John Boehner is he did care about the institution. He recognized that nobody gets 100 percent in our democracy. I won’t say that he and I were ideal partners, but he and I could talk and we could get some things done. And so I am a little concerned that the reason he left was because there are a group of members of Congress who think having somebody who is willing to shut down the government or default on the U.S. debt is going to allow them to get their way 100 percent of the time.
Steve Kroft: Do you think you’re going to be able to get anything through Congress?
President Barack Obama: Well, given that– this Congress hasn’t been able to get much done at all over the last year and a half, two years, for that matter for the last four, it would be surprising if we were able to make huge strides on the things that are important. But I have a more modest goal, which is to make sure that Congress doesn’t do damage to the economy.
The president says that means avoiding another budget crisis and another round of threats to shut down the government, which could happen as early as December. Even with congressional Republicans in disarray, he’s hoping to reach a deal with Congress as he did two years ago, to lift some spending caps in defense and other areas while continuing to reduce the deficit.
President Barack Obama: Right now, our economy is much stronger relative to the rest of the world. China, Europe, emerging markets, they’re all having problems. And so, if we provide another shock to the system by shutting down the government, that could mean that the progress we have made starts going backwards instead of forwards. We have to make sure that we pass a transportation bill. It may not be everything that I want. We should be being much more aggressive in rebuilding America right now. Interest rates are low, construction workers need the work, and our economy would benefit from it. But if we can’t do a big multiyear plan, we have to at least do something that is robust enough– so that we are meeting the demands of a growing economy.
Steve Kroft: A few months back, at a fundraiser, you made a point of saying that the first lady was very pleased that you can’t run again.
President Barack Obama: Yeah, she is.
Steve Kroft: Do you feel the same way?
President Barack Obama: You know, it’s interesting. I– you go into your last year and I think it’s bittersweet. On the one hand, I am very proud of what we’ve accomplished and it makes me think, I’d love to do some more. But by the time I’m finished, I think it will be time for me to go. Because there’s a reason why we considered George Washington one of our greatest presidents. He set a precedent, saying that when you occupy this seat, it is an extraordinary privilege, but the way our democracy is designed, no one person is indispensable. And ultimately you are a citizen. And once you finish with your service, you go back to being a citizen. And I– and I think that– I think having a fresh set of legs in this seat, I think having a fresh perspective, new personnel and new ideas and a new conversation with the American people about issues that may be different a year from now than they were when I started eight years ago, I think that’s all good for our democracy. I think it’s healthy.
Steve Kroft: Do you think if you ran again, could run again, and did run again, you would be elected?
President Barack Obama: Yes.
Steve Kroft: You do.
President Barack Obama: I do.
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Story 2: Tea Party Traitor and Neoconservative Republican Poster Boy Marco Rubio Running For President in 2016 and For Government Intervention In The Middle East — Courts Mitt Romney Endorsement — Kiss of Death — Video
Sen. Marco Rubio announces presidential run
Sen. Marco Rubio Announces 2016 Presidential Bid • 4/13/15 •
Marco Rubio Announces 2016 Presidential Bid
Sen Marco Rubio announces presidential bid
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Ann Coulter trashes Marco Rubio
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Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea (Cato Institute Book Forum, 2011)
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Rubio jumps into White House race with jab at Hillary Clinton
By Ben Kamisar
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Monday entered the race for the White House, telling donors on a conference call that he is “uniquely qualified” to lead the Republican Party into battle against Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“I feel uniquely qualified to not just make that argument, but to outline the policies that we need to have in order to achieve it,” Rubio told the donors, according to The Associated Press.
Portraying Clinton as a candidate of the past, Rubio, 43, talked about the opportunity awaiting the GOP as it seeks to recapture the White House after eight years out of power.
“The Republican Party, for the first time in a long time, has a chance in this election to be the party of the future,” Rubio said on the call.
“Just yesterday, we heard from a leader from yesterday who wants to take us back to yesterday, but I feel that this country has always been about tomorrow.”
Rubio is expected to officially launch his candidacy Monday evening in Miami against the backdrop of the Freedom Tower, a setting that will give him a chance to tout his heritage as the son of Cuban parents who fled to America in the 1950s.
The Florida senator, who is serving in only his first term, is entering an increasingly crowded GOP field that already includes Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rand Paul (Ky.). A host of other candidates are waiting in the wings, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
It had long been thought that Rubio would not run for the White House against Bush, given their personal history and shared base of support in the Florida Republican Party.
But much like Obama in 2008, Rubio appears willing to gamble his political future on the notion that his party will be looking for a fresh face, particularly given the GOP’s difficulty in attracting minority voters in the last two presidential elections.
If elected, Rubio would become the first Hispanic president in American history.
Rubio told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview Monday that he believes he’s “absolutely” the best candidate for the Oval Office.
“I think the 21st century can be the American century, and I believe that I can lead this country in that direction,” he said.
Rubio is trying to generate buzz for his presidential campaign the day after Clinton jumped into the race with an online video where she declared her desire to be the “champion” of “everyday Americans.”
While Clinton’s rollout could overshadow Rubio’s, it could also play to his advantage by allowing him to draw a contrast with the former secretary of State, who has been a presence on the national stage for nearly three decades.
Thus far in the race, Rubio is polling outside the top tier of Republicans hopefuls.
But Rubio, a staunch conservative who was deemed a rising star after his election victory in 2010, is very well liked among Republican voters. Recent numbers from Democratic Public Policy Polling found that 55 percent had a favorable view of him, the highest of any potential GOP candidate.
Still, in order to win the nomination, Rubio will have to assure conservatives who were turned off by his involvement in the Senate’s failed immigration reform effort in 2013.
Rubio helped write a bill with Democrats that passed the Senate but died in the House after an outpouring of conservative opposition.
He has tried to make amends for his role crafting that bill, telling activists in February that he’s “learned” from the experience that securing the border must come first.
“You can’t just tell people you’re going to secure the border. … You have to do that, they have to see it, they have to see it working, and then they’re going to have a reasonable conversation with you about the other parts, but they’re not going to even want to talk about that until that’s done first,” he said at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Rubio is expected to make foreign policy one of the centerpieces of his campaign, and has emerged as one of the most vocal critics of Obama’s move to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Following his campaign launch, Rubio will return to Washington for Senate business, including a high-profile Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iran.
On Friday, he’ll head to New Hampshire for a full day of campaigning in the critical primary state.
Mitt Romney warms to Marco Rubio as young senator cultivates relationship
By Robert Costa and Philip Rucker
Sen. Marco Rubio has been cultivating a relationship with Mitt Romney and his intimates, landing some of the 2012 Republican nominee’s top advisers and donors and persistently courting others as he readies an expected 2016 presidential campaign.
In a crowded field of contenders, the imprimatur of Romney could help clear Rubio’s path into the top tier. Since Romney announced in January that he would not run for the White House again, he and Rubio have had at least two lengthy phone calls in which Romney encouraged and mentored the 43-year-old Florida senator about the political landscape, according to a Romney associate.
[ Rubio is the ‘upside’ candidate of 2016 ]
Rubio and Romney have built a warm and trusting rapport, in contrast to the frostiness that exists between Romney and the two current GOP front-runners, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. When Romney said in January that it was time to turn to the “next generation of Republican leaders,” it was widely interpreted as a swipe at Bush and a boost to a fresher face, such as Rubio.
In one-on-one meetings and communications with members of Romney’s inner circle, Rubio has impressed them with what they see as his compelling personal story, his depth and positions on policies, and his respect for Romney and his legacy in the Republican Party.
For Rubio, winning over key elements of the Romney coalition could give him a stronger foundation for a competitive campaign. But the support from Romney’s team alone would not guarantee Rubio success against Bush’s well-funded juggernaut or Walker’s grass-roots appeal.
Rubio has signed up two prominent former Romney officials in recent weeks. Rich Beeson, Romney’s 2012 national political director, has been tapped as Rubio’s likely deputy campaign manager, while Jim Merrill, Romney’s longtime New Hampshire strategist, is on board to play the same role for Rubio.
“For me, his substance, his skill and his story really stuck out,” Merrill said. “I always said if Mitt had decided to run again, I’d be with him. But when he decided not to go, I took a careful look at the field, and Marco represents the next generation of Republican leadership.”
Rubio’s courtship has been particularly intense with Spencer Zwick, who served as national finance chairman of Romney’s $1 billion campaign and is seen as the keeper of the Romney flame. Zwick said in an interview that the senator solicits advice from him regularly in phone calls, e-mails and text messages.
Rubio asks Zwick about how to assemble a campaign infrastructure and win the nomination, about lessons learned from Romney’s 2012 loss. Both fathers of young children, the two men talk about their families, too.
Zwick said he remains unaffiliated in the 2016 sweepstakes, but heaped praise on Rubio.
“Have you watched him speak?” Zwick asked. “This guy gives a message about the American dream that is compelling. People can say, ‘Oh, it’s the same speech every time,’ but you know what? Ronald Reagan did that, too, and it happened to work.”
Zwick called Rubio “an astute politician and a genuine person,” saying he “is universally well-liked by donors.”
Still, Bush has established himself early as the 2016 field’s fundraising dynamo, signing up many of Romney’s biggest bundlers, especially in New York and Florida, where he threatens to squeeze Rubio out.
A handful of former senior Romney aides and advisers have fanned out to work for an array of likely candidates besides Rubio, including Bush, Walker, former Texas governor Rick Perry, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
The biggest Romney fundraiser helping Rubio is Wayne Berman, a fixture in GOP fundraising circles and a co-chairman of Romney’s 2012 national finance committee. Many Romney loyalists — including friends and associates from Bain Capital, the Mormon Church or the Salt Lake City Olympics — have stayed unaffiliated and are looking for signals of Romney’s preference.
Romney is unlikely to endorse a candidate anytime soon and has invited most of the GOP 2016 field to his annual policy summit with top donors and business leaders in June in Park City, Utah, where Romney has a home.
Rubio also has roots in the Mountain West. Although he was born into the Catholic Church, Rubio lived for several years of his childhood in Las Vegas and, during that time, was baptized in the Mormon Church. In his teen years, he and his family returned to Florida and rejoined the Catholic Church, although many of Rubio’s cousins remain affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Some Romney loyalists harbor bad feelings about several candidates. Privately, they say Bush was not as active in his support as they expected in 2012 and that they think he tried to muscle Romney out of the 2016 race in January.
They hold a grudge against Walker for sharply criticizing Romney in his 2013 book, “Unintimidated,” for doing “a lousy job” connecting with voters. And many Romney insiders were steamed at Christie for his high-profile embrace of President Obama, after Hurricane Sandy devastated the Jersey Shore in the final week of the campaign.
By contrast, Romney’s allies almost universally praise Rubio, who was vetted as a possible vice-presidential pick and worked on Romney’s behalf during the campaign. They singled out his prime-time speech — introducing Romney — at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.
“He was an exceptional surrogate,” said Matt Waldrip, a former Romney finance aide and Zwick associate. “When he went to events, people showed up. He packed the house, whether fundraising or otherwise. He did whatever we asked him to,
clearly interested in helping the cause and helping the ticket.”
On Tuesday, Rubio met at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington for an hour with Lanhee Chen, Romney’s former policy director, who remains an adviser and friend. Chen said he was impressed by Rubio’s preparation for the meeting, which focused on foreign and domestic policy, as well as his depth on the issues.
“Senator Rubio has spent the last several years developing thoughtful conservative policy solutions, and he has a personal story that makes those solutions even more compelling,” Chen said.
Rubio’s camp has been in touch with other Romney associates, includingPeter Flaherty, a former Boston prosecutor who for years was Romney’s chief liaison to conservative movement leaders. Those talks have been informal, and Flaherty, like Chen and Zwick, remains uncommitted to a 2016 candidate.
“It’s elbow grease,” said one Romney confidant who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly about Rubio’s outreach. “Marco’s actually picking up the phone and calling people, saying, ‘Listen, I want to introduce myself and tell you who I am and what I stand for.’ It’s good politics.”
Terry Sullivan — who ran Romney’s South Carolina primary campaign in 2008 and for years has been a top Rubio adviser — has been helping him facilitate his outreach into Romney’s world. Sullivan is executive director of Rubio’s Reclaim America PAC and is his likely campaign manager. Rubio’s Senate chief of staff, Alberto Martinez, was a Florida-based adviser to Romney’s campaign in 2012.
Rubio is expected to formally launch his presidential bid next month, although aides stressed this week that no final decision has been made on the timing or venue. His advisers are preparing for a long and steady race, with a focus on laying the groundwork in the early-voting states.
Although he has been overshadowed recently by Bush and Walker, Rubio has generated some buzz among Republican insiders. His speeches at recent donor conclaves, including at the Club for Growth last month in Palm Beach, Fla., drew rave reviews.
Rubio has said he can raise the funds needed to mount a serious presidential bid. Norman Braman, a billionaire South Florida auto dealer, is expected to donate as much as $10 million to Rubio and his anticipated super PAC.
Rubio has his own national donor network, which he began cultivating in his upstart 2010 Senate campaign. The group includes donors who participate in the political network organized by industrialists Charles and David Koch, whose California meeting Rubio addressed in January.
But Rubio is making inroads elsewhere, too. He dined alone last week in Washington with Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire Las Vegas casino magnate who spent tens of millions of dollars trying to elect Romney in 2012.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who was Romney’s liaison on Capitol Hill in 2012, recently explained why so many Republican insiders find Rubio appealing.
“I often have a vision of Marco in the cloakroom of the Senate, when not much is going on, trying to watch his son’s football games on his smartphone,” he said.
Blunt then used a descriptor that few would have applied to Romney: “humanizing.”
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Story 1: No Body Does It Better– Israel Spies On Iran and USA Nuclear Talks — Provides Details of Terrible Deal To Congress — Show The American People The Deal or Kill The Deal! — Stop Iran From Getting The Bomb — The Neutron Bomb — An Humane Weapon — and The Neutronium Bomb — The Doomday Device — Let The Sunshine In — Video
Carly Simon – Nobody Does It Better – The Spy Who Loved Me
Nobody Does It Better – Carly Simon ( Theme from the Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me)
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Thomas Reed: A Political History of Nuclear Weapons: 1938 – 2008
Thomas C. Reed, former Secretary of the Air Force and nuclear weapons designer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories talks about the book “The Nuclear Express”, which he co-authored with Danny B. Stillman. At a luncheon seminar at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, he talks about the political history of nuclear weapons: where they came from, the surprising ways in which the technology spread, who is likely to acquire them next and why.
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Samuel Cohen: Father of the Neutron Bomb
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THE 5TH DIMENSION – AQUARIUS – LET THE SUNSHINE IN
Hair – Let the Sunshine In
Aquarius/let The Sunshine In Lyrics
“Aquarius/let The Sunshine In” was written by Mac Dermot, Galt/rado, James/ragni, Gerome /.
Read more: 5th Dimension – Aquarius/let The Sunshine In Lyrics | MetroLyrics
When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
And peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius
Harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding
No more false hoods or derisions, golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelations, and the mind’s true liberations
When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
And peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in
The sunshine in
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in
The sunshine in
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in
The sunshine in
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in
The sunshine in
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in
The sunshine in
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in
The sunshine in
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in
The sunshine in
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in
The sunshine in
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in
The sunshine in
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in
The sunshine in
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in
The sunshine in
Let the sunshine
Read more: 5th Dimension – Aquarius/let The Sunshine In Lyrics | MetroLyrics
Israel Spied on Iran Nuclear Talks With U.S.
Ally’s snooping upset White House because information was used to lobby Congress to try to sink a deal
Soon after the U.S. and other major powers entered negotiations last year to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, senior White House officials learned Israel was spying on the closed-door talks.
The spying operation was part of a broader campaign by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to penetrate the negotiations and then help build a case against the emerging terms of the deal, current and former U.S. officials said. In addition to eavesdropping, Israel acquired information from confidential U.S. briefings, informants and diplomatic contacts in Europe, the officials said.
The espionage didn’t upset the White House as much as Israel’s sharing of inside information with U.S. lawmakers and others to drain support from a high-stakes deal intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program, current and former officials said.
“It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the matter.
The U.S. and Israel, longtime allies who routinely swap information on security threats, sometimes operate behind the scenes like spy-versus-spy rivals. The White House has largely tolerated Israeli snooping on U.S. policy makers—a posture Israel takes when the tables are turned.
The White House discovered the operation, in fact, when U.S. intelligence agencies spying on Israel intercepted communications among Israeli officials that carried details the U.S. believed could have come only from access to the confidential talks, officials briefed on the matter said.
Israeli officials denied spying directly on U.S. negotiators and said they received their information through other means, including close surveillance of Iranian leaders receiving the latest U.S. and European offers. European officials, particularly the French, also have been more transparent with Israel about the closed-door discussions than the Americans, Israeli and U.S. officials said.
Mr. Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer early this year saw a rapidly closing window to increase pressure on Mr. Obama before a key deadline at the end of March, Israeli officials said.
Using levers of political influence unique to Israel, Messrs. Netanyahu and Dermer calculated that a lobbying campaign in Congress before an announcement was made would improve the chances of killing or reshaping any deal. They knew the intervention would damage relations with the White House, Israeli officials said, but decided that was an acceptable cost.
The campaign may not have worked as well as hoped, Israeli officials now say, because it ended up alienating many congressional Democrats whose support Israel was counting on to block a deal.
Obama administration officials, departing from their usual description of the unbreakable bond between the U.S. and Israel, have voiced sharp criticism of Messrs. Netanyahu and Dermer to describe how the relationship has changed.
“People feel personally sold out,” a senior administration official said. “That’s where the Israelis really better be careful because a lot of these people will not only be around for this administration but possibly the next one as well.”
This account of the Israeli campaign is based on interviews with more than a dozen current and former U.S. and Israeli diplomats, intelligence officials, policy makers and lawmakers.
Distrust between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Obama had been growing for years but worsened when Mr. Obama launched secret talks with Iran in 2012. The president didn’t tell Mr. Netanyahu because of concerns about leaks, helping set the stage for the current standoff, according to current and former U.S. and Israeli officials.
U.S. officials said Israel has long topped the list of countries that aggressively spy on the U.S., along with China, Russia and France. The U.S. expends more counterintelligence resources fending off Israeli spy operations than any other close ally, U.S. officials said.
A senior official in the prime minister’s office said Monday: “These allegations are utterly false. The state of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel’s other allies. The false allegations are clearly intended to undermine the strong ties between the United States and Israel and the security and intelligence relationship we share.”
Current and former Israeli officials said their intelligence agencies scaled back their targeting of U.S. officials after the jailing nearly 30 years ago of American Jonathan Pollard for passing secrets to Israel.
While U.S. officials may not be direct targets, current and former officials said, Israeli intelligence agencies sweep up communications between U.S. officials and parties targeted by the Israelis, including Iran.
Americans shouldn’t be surprised, said a person familiar with the Israeli practice, since U.S. intelligence agencies helped the Israelis build a system to listen in on high-level Iranian communications.
As secret talks with Iran progressed into 2013, U.S. intelligence agencies monitored Israel’s communications to see if the country knew of the negotiations. Mr. Obama didn’t tell Mr. Netanyahu until September 2013.
Israeli officials, who said they had already learned about the talks through their own channels, told their U.S. counterparts they were upset about being excluded. “ ‘Did the administration really believe we wouldn’t find out?’ ” Israeli officials said, according to a former U.S. official.
The episode cemented Mr. Netanyahu’s concern that Mr. Obama was bent on clinching a deal with Iran whether or not it served Israel’s best interests, Israeli officials said. Obama administration officials said the president was committed to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Mr. Dermer started lobbying U.S. lawmakers just before the U.S. and other powers signed an interim agreement with Iran in November 2013. Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Dermer went to Congress after seeing they had little influence on the White House.
Before the interim deal was made public, Mr. Dermer gave lawmakers Israel’s analysis: The U.S. offer would dramatically undermine economic sanctions on Iran, according to congressional officials who took part.
After learning about the briefings, the White House dispatched senior officials to counter Mr. Dermer. The officials told lawmakers that Israel’s analysis exaggerated the sanctions relief by as much as 10 times, meeting participants said.
When the next round of negotiations with Iran started in Switzerland last year, U.S. counterintelligence agents told members of the U.S. negotiating team that Israel would likely try to penetrate their communications, a senior Obama administration official said.
The U.S. routinely shares information with its European counterparts and others to coordinate negotiating positions. While U.S. intelligence officials believe secured U.S. communications are relatively safe from the Israelis, they say European communications are vulnerable.
Mr. Netanyahu and his top advisers received confidential updates on the Geneva talks from Undersecretary of State for Political AffairsWendy Sherman and other U.S. officials, who knew at the time that Israeli intelligence was working to fill in any gaps.
The White House eventually curtailed the briefings, U.S. officials said, withholding sensitive information for fear of leaks.
Current and former Israeli officials said their intelligence agencies can get much of the information they seek by targeting Iranians and others in the region who are communicating with countries in the talks.
In November, the Israelis learned the contents of a proposed deal offered by the U.S. but ultimately rejected by Iran, U.S. and Israeli officials said. Israeli officials told their U.S. counterparts the terms offered insufficient protections.
U.S. officials urged the Israelis to give the negotiations a chance. But Mr. Netanyahu’s top advisers concluded the emerging deal was unacceptable. The White House was making too many concessions, Israeli officials said, while the Iranians were holding firm.
Obama administration officials reject that view, saying Israel was making impossible demands that Iran would never accept. “The president has made clear time and again that no deal is better than a bad deal,” a senior administration official said.
In January, Mr. Netanyahu told the White House his government intended to oppose the Iran deal but didn’t explain how, U.S. and Israeli officials said.
On Jan. 21, House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) announced Mr. Netanyahu would address a joint meeting of Congress. That same day, Mr. Dermer and other Israeli officials visited Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers and aides, seeking a bipartisan coalition large enough to block or amend any deal.
Most Republicans were already prepared to challenge the White House on the negotiations, so Mr. Dermer focused on Democrats. “This deal is bad,” he said in one briefing, according to participants.
A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Washington, Aaron Sagui,said Mr. Dermer didn’t launch a special campaign on Jan 21. Mr. Dermer, the spokesperson said, has “consistently briefed both Republican and Democrats, senators and congressmen, on Israel’s concerns regarding the Iran negotiations for over a year.”
Mr. Dermer and other Israeli officials over the following weeks gave lawmakers and their aides information the White House was trying to keep secret, including how the emerging deal could allow Iran to operate around 6,500 centrifuges, devices used to process nuclear material, said congressional officials who attended the briefings.
The Israeli officials told lawmakers that Iran would also be permitted to deploy advanced IR-4 centrifuges that could process fuel on a larger scale, meeting participants and administration officials said. Israeli officials said such fuel, which under the emerging deal would be intended for energy plants, could be used to one day build nuclear bombs.
The information in the briefings, Israeli officials said, was widely known among the countries participating in the negotiations.
When asked in February during one briefing where Israel got its inside information, the Israeli officials said their sources included the French and British governments, as well as their own intelligence, according to people there.
“Ambassador Dermer never shared confidential intelligence information with members of Congress,” Mr. Sagui said. “His briefings did not include specific details from the negotiations, including the length of the agreement or the number of centrifuges Iran would be able to keep.”
Current and former U.S. officials confirmed that the number and type of centrifuges cited in the briefings were part of the discussions. But they said the briefings were misleading because Israeli officials didn’t disclose concessions asked of Iran. Those included giving up stockpiles of nuclear material, as well as modifying the advanced centrifuges to slow output, these officials said.
The administration didn’t brief lawmakers on the centrifuge numbers and other details at the time because the information was classified and the details were still in flux, current and former U.S. officials said.
The congressional briefings and Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to address a joint meeting of Congress on the emerging deal sparked a backlash among many Democratic lawmakers, congressional aides said.
On Feb. 3, Mr. Dermer huddled with Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, who said he told Mr. Dermer it was a breach of protocol for Mr. Netanyahu to accept an invitation from Mr. Boehner without going through the White House.
Mr. Manchin said he told Mr. Dermer he would attend the prime minister’s speech to Congress, but he was noncommittal about supporting any move by Congress to block a deal.
Mr. Dermer spent the following day doing damage control with Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, congressional aides said.
Two days later, Mr. Dermer met with Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the SenateIntelligence Committee, at her Washington, D.C., home. He pressed for her support because he knew that she, too, was angry about Mr. Netanyahu’s planned appearance.
Ms. Feinstein said afterward she would oppose legislation allowing Congress to vote down an agreement.
Congressional aides and Israeli officials now say Israel’s coalition in Congress is short the votes needed to pass legislation that could overcome a presidential veto, although that could change. In response, Israeli officials said, Mr. Netanyahu was pursuing other ways to pressure the White House.
This week, Mr. Netanyahu sent a delegation to France, which has been more closely aligned with Israel on the nuclear talks and which could throw obstacles in Mr. Obama’s way before a deal is signed. The Obama administration, meanwhile, is stepping up its outreach to Paris to blunt the Israeli push.
“If you’re wondering whether something serious has shifted here, the answer is yes,” a senior U.S. official said. “These things leave scars.”
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Energy distribution of weapon
||40% or as low as 30%
||25% or as low as 20%
A neutron bomb, officially known as one type of Enhanced Radiation Weapon, is a low yield fission-fusion thermonuclear weapon (hydrogen bomb) in which the burst of neutrons generated by a fusionreaction is intentionally allowed to escape the weapon, rather than being absorbed by its other components. The weapon’s radiation case, usually made from relatively thick uranium, lead or steel in a standard bomb, is, instead, made of as thin a material as possible, to facilitate the greatest escape of fusion produced neutrons. The “usual” nuclear weapon yield—expressed as kilotons of TNT equivalent—is not a measure of a neutron weapon’s destructive power. It refers only to the energy released (mostly heat and blast), and does not express the lethal effect of neutron radiation on living organisms.
Compared to a pure fission bomb with an identical explosive yield, a neutron bomb would emit about ten times the amount of neutron radiation. In a fission bomb, at sea level, the total radiation pulse energy which is composed of both gamma rays and neutrons is approximately 5% of the entire energy released; in the neutron bomb it would be closer to 40%. Furthermore, the neutrons emitted by a neutron bomb have a much higher average energy level (close to 14 MeV) than those released during a fission reaction (1–2 MeV). Technically speaking, all low yield nuclear weapons are radiation weapons, that is including the non-enhanced variant. Up to about 10 kilotons in yield, all nuclear weapons have prompt neutron radiation as their most far reaching lethal component, after which point the lethal blast and thermal effects radius begins to out-range the lethal ionizing radiation radius. Enhanced radiation weapons also fall into this same yield range and simply enhance the intensity and range of the neutron dose for a given yield.
History & deployment to present
Conception of the neutron bomb is generally credited to Samuel T. Cohen of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who developed the concept in 1958.Testing was authorized and carried out in 1963 at an underground Nevada test facility. Development was subsequently postponed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978 following protests against his administration’s plans to deploy neutron warheads to ground forces in Europe. On November 17, 1978, in a test the USSRdetonated its first similar-type bomb. President Ronald Reagan restarted production in 1981. The Soviet Union began a propaganda campaign against the US’s neutron bomb in 1981 following Reagan’s announcement. In 1983 Reagan then announced the Strategic Defense Initiative, which surpassed neutron bomb production in ambition and vision and with that the neutron bomb quickly faded from the center of the public’s attention.
Three types of enhanced radiation weapons (ERW) were built by the United States. The W66 warhead, for the anti-ICBM Sprint missile system, was deployed in 1975 and retired the next year, along with the missile system. The W70 Mod 3 warhead was developed for the short-range, tactical Lance missile, and the W79 Mod 0 was developed for artillery shells. The latter two types were retired by President George H. W. Bush in 1992, following the end of the Cold War. The last W70 Mod 3 warhead was dismantled in 1996, and the last W79 Mod 0 was dismantled by 2003, when the dismantling of all W79 variants was completed.
In addition to the two superpowers, France and China are known to have tested neutron or enhanced radiation bombs. France conducted an early test of the technology in 1967 and tested an “actual” neutron bomb in 1980. China conducted a successful test of neutron bomb principles in 1984 and a successful test of a neutron bomb in 1988. However, neither country chose to deploy the neutron bomb. Chinese nuclear scientists stated prior to the 1988 test that China had no need for the neutron bomb, but it was developed to serve as a “technology reserve,” in case the need arose in the future.
Although no country is currently known to deploy them in an offensive manner, all thermonuclear dial-a-yield warheads that have about 10 kiloton and lower as one dial option, with a considerable fraction of that yield derived from fusion reactions, can be considered capable of being neutron bombs in actuality if not in name. The only country definitively known to deploy dedicated (that is, not Dial-a-yield) neutron warheads for any length of time is Russia, which inherited the USSRsneutron warhead equipped ABM-3 Gazelle missile program, this Anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system contains at least 68 neutron warheads of yield 10 kiloton and it has been in service since 1995, with inert missile testing approximately every other year since then (2014). The system is designed to destroy incoming “endo-atmospheric” level nuclear warheads aimed at Moscow etc. and is the lower-tier/ last umbrella of the A-135 anti-ballistic missile system (NATO reporting name: ABM-3).
By 1984, according to Mordechai Vanunu, Israel was mass-producing neutron bombs. A number of analysts believe that the Vela incident was an Israeli neutron bomb experiment.
Considerable controversy arose in the U.S. and Western Europe following a June 1977 Washington Post exposé describing U.S. government plans to purchase the bomb. The article focused on the fact that it was the first weapon specifically intended to kill humans with radiation. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratorydirector Harold Brown and Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev both described the neutron bomb as a “capitalist bomb”, because it was designed to destroy people while preserving property. Science fiction author Isaac Asimov also stated that “Such a neutron bomb or N bomb seems desirable to those who worry about property and hold life cheap.”
Use of neutron bomb
Neutron bombs are purposely designed with explosive yields lower than other nuclear weapons. Since neutrons are absorbed by air, neutron radiation effects drop off very rapidly with distance in air, there is a sharper distinction, as opposed to thermal effects, between areas of high lethality and areas with minimal radiation doses. All high yield (more than ~10 kiloton) “neutron bombs”, such as the extreme example of a device that derived 97% of its energy from fusion, the 50 megaton Tsar Bomba, are not able to radiate sufficient neutrons beyond their lethal blast range when detonated as a surface burst or low altitude air burst and so are no longer classified as neutron bombs, thus limiting the yield of neutron bombs to a maximum of about 10 kilotons. The intense pulse of high-energy neutrons generated by a neutron bomb are the principal killing mechanism, not the fallout, heat or blast.
The inventor of the neutron bomb, Samuel Cohen, criticized the description of the W70 as a “neutron bomb” since it could be configured to yield 100 kilotons:
the W-70 … is not even remotely a “neutron bomb.” Instead of being the type of weapon that, in the popular mind, “kills people and spares buildings” it is one that both kills and physically destroys on a massive scale. The W-70 is not a discriminate weapon, like the neutron bomb—which, incidentally, should be considered a weapon that “kills enemy personnel while sparing the physical fabric of the attacked populace, and even the populace too.”
The Soviet/Warsaw pact invasion plan, “Seven Days to the River Rhine” to seize West Germany. Under such a scenario, neutron bombs, according to their inventor, would hopefully blunt the Warsaw pact tank, and more thinly armored BMP-1 thrusts, without causing as much damage to the people and infrastructure of Germany as alternative higher fission fraction & higher explosive yield tactical nuclear weapons would. They would likely be used if the mass conventional weapon NATO REFORGER response to the invasion had yet to find time to be organized or found ineffective in battle.
Although neutron bombs are commonly believed to “leave the infrastructure intact”, with current designs that have explosive yields in the low kiloton range, the detonation of which, in a built up area, would still cause considerable, although not total, destruction through blast and heat effects out to a considerable radius.
Neutron bombs could be used as strategic anti-ballistic missile weapons, or as tactical weapons intended for use against armored forces. The neutron bomb was originally conceived by the U.S. military as a weapon that could stop massed Sovietarmored divisions from overrunning allied nations without destroying the infrastructure of the allied nation. As theWarsaw Pact tank strength was over twice that of NATO, and Soviet Deep Battle doctrine was likely to be to use this numerical advantage to rapidly sweep across continental Europe if the Cold War ever turned hot, any weapon that could break up their intended mass tank formation deployments and force them to deploy their tanks in a thinner, more easily dividable manner, would aid ground forces in the task of hunting down solitary tanks and firing anti-tank missiles upon them, such as the contemporary M47 Dragon and BGM-71 TOW missiles.
Effects of a neutron bomb in the open & in a city
Wood frame house in 1953 nuclear test, 5 psi overpressure, complete collapse
Upon detonation, a 1 kiloton neutron bomb near the ground, in an airburst would produce a large blast wave, and a powerful pulse of both thermal radiation and ionizing radiation, mostly in the form of fast (14.1 MeV) neutrons. The thermal pulse would cause third degree burns to unprotected skin out to approximately 500 meters. The blast would create at least 4.6 PSIout to a radius of 600 meters, which would severely damage all non-reinforced concrete structures, at the conventional effective combat range against modern main battle tanks and armored personnel carriers (<690–900 m) the blast from a 1 kt neutron bomb will destroy or damage to the point of non-usability almost all un-reinforced civilian building. Thus the use of neutron bombs to stop an enemy armored attack by rapidly incapacitating the crew with a dose of 8000+ Rads of radiation, which would require exploding large numbers of them to blanket the enemy forces, would also destroy all normal civilian buildings in the same immediate area ~600 meters, and via neutron activation it would make many building materials in the city radioactive, such as Zinc coated steel/galvanized steel(see Area denial use below). Although at this ~600 meter distance the 4-5 PSI blast overpressure would cause very few direct casualties as the human body is resistant to sheer overpressure, the powerful winds produced by this overpressure are capable of throwing human bodies into objects or throwing objects-including window glass at high velocity, both with potentially lethal results, rendering casualties highly dependent on surroundings, including on if the building they are in collapses. The pulse of neutron radiation would cause immediate and permanent incapacitation to unprotected outdoor humans in the open out to 900 meters, with death occurring in one or two days. The lethal dose(LD50) of 600 Rads would extend to about 1350–1400 meters for those unprotected and outdoors, where approximately half of those exposed would die of radiation sickness after several weeks.
However a human residing within, or is simply shielded by at least 1 of the aforementioned concrete buildings with walls and ceilings 30 centimeters/12 inches thick, or alternatively of damp soil 24 inches thick, the neutron radiation exposure would be reduced by a factor of 10.
Furthermore the neutron absorption spectra of air is disputed by some authorities and depends in part on absorption byhydrogen from water vapor. It therefore might vary exponentially with humidity, making neutron bombs immensely more deadly in desert climates than in humid ones.
Questionable effectiveness in modern anti-tank role
The Neutron cross section/ absorption probability in barns of the two natural Boron isotopes found in nature (top curve is for 10B and bottom curve for 11B. As neutron energy increases to 14 MeV, the absorption effectiveness, in general, decreases. Therefore for boron containing armor to be effective, fast neutrons must first be slowed by another element by neutron scattering.
The questionable effectiveness of ER weapons against modern tanks is cited as one of the main reasons that these weapons are no longer fielded or stockpiled. With the increase in average tank armor thickness since the first ER weapons were fielded, tank armor protection approaches the level where tank crews are now almost completely protected from radiation effects. Therefore for an ER weapon to incapacitate a modern tank crew through irradiation, the weapon must now be detonated at such a close proximity to the tank that the nuclear explosion‘s blast would now be equally effective at incapacitating it and its crew. However this assertion was regarded as dubious in a reply in 1986  by a member of theRoyal Military College of Science as neutron radiation from a 1 kiloton neutron bomb would incapacitate the crew of a tank with a Protection Factor of 35 out to a range of 280 meters, but the incapacitating blast range, depending on the exact weight of the tank, is much less, from 70 to 130 meters. However although the author did note that effective neutron absorbers and neutron poisons such as Boron carbide can be incorporated into conventional armor and strap on neutron moderating hydrogenous material (hydrogen atom containing substances), such as Explosive Reactive Armor can both increase the protection factor, the author holds that in practice combined with neutron scattering, the actual average total tank area protection factor is rarely higher than 15.5 to 35. According to the Federation of American Scientists, the neutron protection factor of a “tank” can be as low as 2, without qualifying the tank statement is for a light tank(tankette) ormedium tank/main battle tank.
A composite high density concrete, or alternatively, a laminated Graded Z shield, 24 units thick of which 16 units are iron and 8 units are polyethylene containing boron (BPE) and additional mass behind it to attenuate neutron capture gamma rays is more effective than just 24 units of pure iron or BPE alone, due to the advantages of both iron and BPE in combination. Iron is effective in slowing down/scatteringhigh-energy neutrons in the 14-MeV energy range and attenuating gamma rays, while the hydrogen in polyethylene is effective in slowing down these now slowerfast neutrons in the few MeV range, and boron 10 has a high absorption cross section for thermal neutrons and a low production yield of gamma rays when it absorbs a neutron. The Soviet T72 tank, in response to the neutron bomb threat, is cited as having fitted a boronated, polyethylene liner, which has had its neutron shielding properties simulated.
However as some tank armor material contains depleted uranium(DU), common in the US’s M1A1 Abrams tank, which “incorporates steel-encased depleted uranium armour”, a substance that will fast fission when it captures a fast, fusion generated neutron, and therefore upon fissioning it will producefission neutrons and fission products embedded within the armor, products which emit amongst other things, penetrating gamma rays. Although the neutrons emitted by the neutron bomb may not penetrate to the tank crew in lethal quantities, the fast fission of DU within the armor could still ensure a lethal environment for the crew and maintenance personnel by fission neutron and gamma ray exposure,largely depending on the exact thickness and elemental composition of the armor – information usually hard to attain. Despite this, DUCRETE – which has an elemental composition similar to, but not identical to the ceramic 2nd generation heavy metal Chobham armor of the Abrams tank- DUCRETE is an effective radiation shield, to both fission neutrons and gamma rays due to it being a graded Z material. Uranium being about twice as dense as lead is thus nearly twice as effective at shielding gamma ray radiation per unit thickness.
Use against ballistic missiles
As an anti-ballistic missile weapon, the first fielded ER warhead, the W66, was developed for the Sprintmissile system as part of the Safeguard Program to protect United States cities and missile silos from incoming Soviet warheads by damaging their electronic components with the intense neutron flux. Ionization greater than 5,000 rads in silicon chips delivered over seconds to minutes will degrade the function of semiconductors for long periods. Due to the rarefied atmosphere encountered high above the earth at the most likely intercept point of an incoming warhead by a neutron bomb/warhead, whether it be the retired Sprint missile’s W66 neutron warhead or the still in service Russian counterpart, the ABM-3 Gazelle, at the Terminal phase point(10–30 km) of the incoming warheads flight, the neutrons generated by a Mid to High-altitude nuclear explosion(HANE) have an even greater range than that encountered after a low altitude air burst, where there is a lower density of air molecules that produces, by comparison, an appreciable reduction in the air shielding effect/half-value thickness.
However, although this neutron transparency advantage attained only increases at increased altitudes, neutron effects lose importance in the exoatmosphericenvironment, being overtaken by the range of another effect of a nuclear detonation, at approximately the same altitude as the end of the incoming missile’s boost phase(~150 km), ablation producing soft x-rays are the chief nuclear effects threat to the survival of incoming missiles and warheads rather than neutrons. A factor exploited by the other warhead of the Safeguard Program, the enhanced (X-ray) radiation W71 and its USSR/Russian counterpart, the warhead on the A-135 Gorgon missile.
Another method by which neutron radiation can be used to destroy incoming nuclear warheads is by serving as an intense neutron generator and to thus initiate fission in the incoming warheads fissionable components by fast fission, potentially causing the incoming warhead to prematurely detonate in a Fizzle if within sufficient proximity, but in most likely interception ranges, requiring only that enough fissionable material in the warhead fissions to interfere with the functioning of the incoming warhead when it is later fuzed to explode(see related physics:Subcritical reactor).
Lithium-6 Hydride(“Li6H”) is cited as being used as a countermeasure to reduce the vulnerability/”harden” nuclear warheads from the effects of externally generated neutrons. Radiation hardening of the warheads electronic components as a countermeasure to high altitude neutron warheads, somewhat reduces the range that a neutron warhead could successfully cause an unrecoverable glitch by the TREE(Transient Radiation effects on Electronics) mechanism.
Use as an area denial weapon
In November 2012, during the planning stages of Operation Hammer of God, it was suggested by a British parliamentarian that multiple enhanced radiation reduced blast (ERRB) warheads could be detonated in the mountain region of the Afghanistan/Pakistan border to prevent infiltration. He proposed to warn the inhabitants to evacuate, then irradiate the area, making it unusable and impassable. Used in this manner, the neutron bomb(s), regardless of burst height, would releaseneutron activated casing materials used in the bomb, and depending on burst height, create radioactive soil activation products.
In much the same fashion as the area denial effect resulting from fission product (the substances that make up the majority of fallout) contamination in an area following a conventional surface burst nuclear explosion, as considered in the Korean War by Douglas MacArthur, it would thus be a form of Radiological warfare. With the difference with that of neutron bombs producing 1/2, or less, of the quantity of fission products when compared to the same yield pure fission bomb. Radiological warfare with neutron bombs that rely on fission primaries would therefore still produce fission fallout, albeit a comparatively “cleaner” and shorter lasting version of it in the area if air bursts were utilized, as little to no fission products would be deposited on the direct immediate area, instead becoming diluted global fallout.
However the most effective use of a neutron bomb with respect to area denial would be to encase it in a thick shell of material that could be neutron activated, and use a surface burst. In this manner the neutron bomb would be turned into a “salted bomb“, a case of Zinc-64, produced as a byproduct of depleted zinc oxideenrichment, would for example probably be the most attractive from a military point of view, as when activated the Zinc-65 that is created is a gamma emitter, with a half life of 244 days.
Neutron bombs/warheads require considerable maintenance for their capabilities, requiring some tritium for fusion boosting and tritium in the secondary stage (yielding more neutrons), in amounts on the order of a few tens of grams (10–30 grams estimated). Because tritium has a relatively short half-life of 12.32 years (after that time, half the tritium has decayed), it is necessary to replenish it periodically in order to keep the bomb effective. (For instance: to maintain a constant level of 24 grams of tritium in a warhead, about 1 gram per bomb per year must be supplied.) Moreover, tritium decays into helium-3, which absorbs neutrons and will thus further reduce the bomb’s neutron yield.
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Jeremy Bird ’00
A new kind of politics: Jeremy Bird at TEDxUChicago 2014
Jeremy Bird is a founding partner at 270 Strategies and a longtime grassroots organizer with broad experience across domestic and international politics, labor, and policy.
He helped launch 270 Strategies after serving most recently as the National Field Director for the 2012 re-election campaign of President Barack Obama, where he had primary responsibility for building a nationwide army of staff and volunteer organizers.
Dubbed the campaign’s “Field General” by Rolling Stone magazine, Jeremy was listed among “The Obama Campaign’s Real Heroes” and has been cited as “a former Harvard divinity student who took to political organizing as though it were his higher calling.”
He is credited with helping establish a ground game and turnout machine that in 2012 “reproduced — through brute force, dedication and will — a turnout in the swing states that in some cases bested the campaign’s remarkable performance of four years ago.”
Jeremy is a graduate of Wabash College and Harvard Divinity School. He grew up in a trailer park in High Ridge, Missouri and is passionate about grassroots politics, traveling the world, and talking about sports — especially his hometown St. Louis Cardinals and his newfound love of soccer.
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Danny Ayalon: ‘Red Line’ Crossed If Obama Interfered in Israel Election
By Bill Hoffmann
If rumors that the Obama administration has helped efforts in Israel to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are real, the U.S. has crossed “a red line,” says Danny Ayalon, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
Jeremy Bird, a top operative in President Obama’s 2008 and ’12 campaigns, has been mobilizing a get-out-the-vote effort for Netanyahu opponent Isaac “Bougie” Herzog, leading to speculation that the White House is linked to it.
“If this is true, this is really crossing a red line because a democracy does not interfere with other democracies’ democratic process,” Ayalon said Monday on “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.
Israeli elections take dramatic turn as official tally gives Likud sweeping victory
With nearly 95 percent of precincts reporting before dawn on Wednesday, the Likud holds a major edge over Zionist Union in the distribution of Knesset seats.
a dramatic turn in the early morning hours on Wednesday as official tallies from nearly all precincts indicate that Likud has opened up a significant lead over Zionist Union, a far cry from the virtual dead heat that television exit polls had reported Tuesday evening.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting before dawn on Wednesday, the Likud has emerged as the clear, undisputed victor in the elections.
According to the official up-to-the-minute tally, Likud wins 30 seats while Zionist Union comes in second at 24 seats.
The parties that follow are Joint Arab List (14); Yesh Atid (11); Kulanu (10); Bayit Yehudi (8); Shas (7); United Torah Judaism (6); Yisrael Beytenu (6); and Meretz (4).
Eli Yishai’s far-right Yahad party has thus far failed to make the cut, though it has hovered near the minimum threshold throughout. These results are not final since 10 percent of precincts still need to report their results.
The first exit polls were released Tuesday at 10 p.m. as voting closed in elections for the 20th Knesset, suggesting a surprisingly good showing for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party versus Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union. While Likud had trailed by as many as five mandates in pre-election polls, Netanyahu’s party led the Zionist Union in one exit poll and was tied with Herzog’s party in the two others.
Channel 2’s poll had the Likud with 28 mandates, Zionist Union with 27 mandates, the Joint Arab List with 13 mandates, Yesh Atid with 11 mandates, Kulanu with 10 mandates, Bayit Yehudi with 8 mandates, Shas with 7 mandates, United Torah Judaism with 6 mandates, Meretz with 5 mandates, Yisrael Beytenu with 5 mandates and Yahad failing to pass the electoral threshold.
Netanyahu surges to victory in Israeli vote
By ARON HELLER
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party scored a resounding victory in Israel’s election, final results showed Wednesday, a stunning turnaround after a tight race that had put his lengthy rule in jeopardy.
Netanyahu surged ahead after a last-minute lurch to the right in which he opposed Palestinian statehood and vowed continued settlement construction, setting the stage for fresh confrontations with the White House just weeks after criticizing U.S. talks with Iran in a divisive address to Congress.
With nearly all votes counted, Likud appeared to have earned 30 out of parliament’s 120 seats and was in a position to build with relative ease a coalition government with its nationalist, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, a remnant of the biblical Jewish Temple and the holiest site where Jews can pray. “I’m touched by the weight of the responsibility that the people of Israel have put on my shoulders. I wish to say that I will do anything in my power to ensure the well-being and security of all the citizens of Israel,” he said.
The election was widely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu, who has governed for the past six years. Recent opinion polls indicated he was in trouble, giving chief rival Isaac Herzog’s center-left Zionist Union a slight lead. Exit polls Tuesday showed the two sides deadlocked but once the actual results came pouring in early Wednesday, the Zionist Union dropped to just 24 seats.
Given the final results, it is all but assured that Israel’s largely ceremonial President Reuven Rivlin will task Netanyahu with forming a new government. Netanyahu says he hopes to do so quickly, within two to three weeks.
“Against all odds, we achieved a great victory for the Likud,” Netanyahu told supporters at his election night headquarters, declaring victory even before final results were known.
Netanyahu focused his campaign primarily on security issues, while his opponents pledged to address the high cost of living and housing crisis while accusing him of being out of touch. Netanyahu will likely look to battle that image now by adding to his government Moshe Kahlon, whose upstart Kulanu party captured 10 seats with a campaign focused almost entirely on bread-and-butter economic issues. Kahlon is expected to be the next finance minister.
A union of four largely Arab-backed factions became Israel’s third largest party — with 14 seats — and gave Israel’s Arab minority significant leverage in parliament for the first time. Ten parties in all made it into parliament.
Herzog conceded defeat, saying he called Netanyahu and offered him congratulations. He signaled that he would not join forces with Netanyahu and would rather head to the opposition.
“I think that at this moment what Israel needs most of all is another voice, a voice that offers an alternative and a voice that tells it the truth,” he said outside his Tel Aviv home. “It must be clear that for the citizens of Israel, the challenges remain the same, the problems are the same. Nothing has changed.”
Netanyahu’s return to power for a fourth term likely spells trouble for Mideast peace efforts and could further escalate tensions with Washington.
Netanyahu, who already has a testy relationship with President Barack Obama, staked out a series of hard-line positions in the final days of the race that will put him on a collision course with much of the international community.
In a dramatic policy reversal, he said he now opposes the creation of a Palestinian state — a key policy goal of the White House and the international community. He also promised to expand construction in Jewish areas of east Jerusalem, the section of the city claimed by the Palestinians as their capital, where violence has increased in recent months.
The Palestinians, fed up after years of deadlock with Netanyahu, are now likely to press ahead with their attempts to bring war crimes charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court.
“Now, more than ever, the international community must act,” said Palestinian official Saeb Erekat.
The world overwhelmingly supports the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, areas captured by Israel in 1967, and opposes settlement construction.
With the race close, Netanyahu reneged on his previous stated support for a Palestinian state in an attempt to shore up his hawkish base. But peace talks last collapsed nearly a year ago, and it’s unclear whether the next government will pursue any drastic policy changes.
Netanyahu also infuriated the White House earlier this month when he delivered a speech to the U.S. Congress criticizing an emerging nuclear deal with Iran. The speech was arranged with Republican leaders and not coordinated with the White House ahead of time in a rare breach of diplomatic protocol.
In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama was confident strong U.S.-Israeli ties would endure far beyond the election, regardless of the victor.
Throughout the campaign, Netanyahu portrayed himself as the only politician capable of confronting Israel’s numerous security challenges.
Avi Degani, president of the Geocartography polling institute, who had predicted an outright Likud victory, said ultimately Netanyahu’s experience prevailed. “There was a situation where many people wanted to replace him but there was no one whom they wanted to replace him with,” he said.
Rivlin will now meet with all ten parties that entered parliament and hear their recommendation for who should try to form the next government. Rivlin will then task the leading candidate, almost certainly Netanyahu, with putting together a coalition that makes up a majority in parliament. Netanyahu will remain prime minister throughout the process.
Netanyahu appears to have 67 backers who would join a right-wing nationalist government, but he could still surprise and try to reach out to centrist rivals in order to present a more moderate face to the world.
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Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #3 – Gadhafi Advisor describing conversation with U.S. Int. Off.
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #4 – Dennis Kucinich
The intelligence community gathered no specific evidence of an Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D, OH) speaking with Saif al-Islam Gadhafi regarding the grounds for NATO intervention in Libya.
impending genocide in Libya in spring 2011, undercutting then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s primary argument for using the U.S. military to remove Moammar Gadhafi from power, which cast his country into chaos.
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #5 – Dennis Kucinich and Saif al-Islam Gadhafi – NATO
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #6 – Pentagon intelligence asset – Benghazi rebels
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #7 – Dennis Kucinich and Saif al-Islam Gadhafi – Terrorists
Roméo Dallaire: Intervention in Libya
Watch excerpts about intervention in Libya from our interview yesterday with retired Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, force commander of the UN Assistance Mission to Rwanda in 1993-1994 and author of “Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda.”
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The Truth About Muammar Gaddafi ( The ELITE Exposed )
House Benghazi committee to review secret Hillary tapes on Libya
The chairman of a special House committee created to investigate the 2012 Benghazi tragedy on Monday instructed his staff to review secretly recorded tapes and intelligence reports that detail Hillary Rodham Clinton’s role in advocating and executing the war in Libya, opening the door for a possible expansion of his probe.
Rep. Trey Gowdy’s decision to seek a review of the materials, first highlighted in a series of Washington Times stories last week, carries consequences for the 2016 election in which Mrs. Clinton is expected to seek the presidency. It could also move the committee to examine the strained relationship between the State Department and Pentagon, which sharply disagreed over the 2011 war in Libya and the response to the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi a year later.
The Times reported last week that U.S. intelligence did not support Mrs. Clinton’s story of an impending genocide in Libya that she used to sell the war against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. The newspaper also unveiled secretly recorded tapes from Libya that showed that the Pentagon and Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich so distrusted her stewardship of the war that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gadhafi regime.
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The tapes included candid conversations and allegations that Mrs. Clinton took the U.S. to war on false pretenses and was not listening to the advice of military commanders or career intelligence officers.
“Chairman Gowdy and the committee are aware of the details reported by The Washington Times, and we are reviewing them as part of the committee’s inquiry into Benghazi,” Benghazi Committee spokesman Jamal Ware announced Monday.
The emergence of the tapes and a new line of inquiry immediately had repercussions, especially on the political front where the 2016 president race has heated up.
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Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a 2016 GOP hopeful who has been intensely critical of Mrs. Clinton’s handling of the 2011 Libya intervention, said the stories demonstrate she is not the right person to lead the country or the nation’s military.
“Hillary’s judgment has to be questioned – her eagerness for war in Libya should preclude her from being considered the next Commander in Chief,” said Sen. Paul, who opposed the Libyan intervention at the onset.
“We want someone in that office with wisdom and better judgment… We created chaos in Libya – as a result many arms have gone to Syria which are now aiding jihadi terrorists. I couldn’t fathom how Hillary Clinton could become Commander and Chief after this,” he added.
Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman have declined any comment about the tapes.
The Times reported that on one of the tapes, a Pentagon liaison told a Gadhafi aide that Army Gen. Charles Jacoby, a top aide to Adm. Mullen, “does not trust the reports that are coming out of the State Department and CIA, but there’s nothing he can do about it,” the Pentagon liaison said, offering a candid assessment of tensions within the Obama administration.
“I can tell you that the President is not getting accurate information so at some point someone has to get accurate information to him… I think about a way through former Secretary Gates or maybe to Admiral Mullen to get him information.”
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, said the Pentagon’s actions were “highly unusual,” but said that it would make sense for the Pentagon to want to make sure their Commander in Chief was getting accurate information.
“I think it’s unusual to have the military say wait a minute, that’s not true,” Mr. Poe said in a telephone interview with the Times. “You have a false report from the Secretary of State, and then the military holding a completely different view of what’s taking place.
“They wanted [the president] to have facts – facts as opposed to what Secretary Clinton was hoping the facts would be; that Moammar Gadhafi was killing innocent women and children. That was was a false narrative. So, it would make sense that they would want to get that information straight to the president and not go through the Secretary of State,” he added
In reaction to the Times final installment of the series on Monday, which revealed secret Libyan intelligence reports that linked NATO supported rebels to al-Qaeda, Rep. Louie Gohmert said the news was not a complete surprise.
“During the Obama-Clinton hunger to enter a bombing war in Libya, some of us knew the rebels included al-Qaeda but we did not know the full extent of their involvement,” he said. “So we pleaded for U.S. restraint. With bombing in their heart and radical Islamists whispering in their ears, the Obama-Clinton team would not even entertain offers of a ceasefire and peaceful transition of power. While acting under U.N. approval to prevent atrocities, it appears the Obama-Clinton bombing barrages caused atrocities that sent a country into chaos which is continuing today.”
The Times series about the Libyan intervention was also picked up across the Atlantic.
Britain’s Daily Mail described the story as “stunning” declaring that, “[Sec.] Clinton will face tough questions about her march to war against Moammar Gadhafi if she runs for president.”
Mr. Poe said that he believes the series will prompt new questions, especially with the current state of military and political affairs in Libya.
“As far as I’m concerned Benghazi is not going away,” Mr. Poe said. “That the U.S. would give in and arm rebels and criminals to overthrow Col. Gadhafi, and then mislead the world on that is shameful. We now have chaos in Libya… it’s the U.S.’ undoing of a country. Gadhafi was no saint, but what we have now are gangsters and jihadists running the country. We have chaos because the US intervened in a deceitful way.
“Unfortunately, the administration is making more of an effort to protect Hillary Clinton’s involvement than they are in finding out the truth about what was really behind the overthrow of Gaddafi by the U.S.”
Exclusive: Secret tapes undermine Hillary Clinton on Libyan war
Joint Chiefs, key lawmaker held own talks with Moammar Gadhafi regime
Top Pentagon officials and a senior Democrat in Congress so distrusted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2011 march to war in Libya that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gadhafi regime in an effort to halt the escalating crisis, according to secret audio recordings recovered from Tripoli.
The tapes, reviewed by The Washington Times and authenticated by the participants, chronicle U.S. officials’ unfiltered conversations with Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s son and a top Libyan leader, including criticisms that Mrs. Clinton had developed tunnel vision and led the U.S. into an unnecessary war without adequately weighing the intelligence community’s concerns.
SEE ALSO: Hillary Clinton’s ‘WMD’ moment: U.S. intelligence saw false narrative in Libya
“You should see these internal State Department reports that are produced in the State Department that go out to the Congress. They’re just full of stupid, stupid facts,” an American intermediary specifically dispatched by the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Gadhafi regime in July 2011, saying the State Department was controlling what intelligence would be reported to U.S. officials.
At the time, the Gadhafi regime was fighting a civil war that grew out of the Arab Spring, battling Islamist-backed rebels who wanted to dethrone the longtime dictator. Mrs. Clinton argued that Gadhafi might engage in genocide and create a humanitarian crisis and ultimately persuaded President Obama,NATO allies and the United Nations to authorize military intervention.
Gadhafi’s son and heir apparent, Seif Gadhafi, told American officials in the secret conversations that he was worried Mrs. Clinton was using false pretenses to justify unseating his father and insisted that the regime had no intention of harming a mass of civilians. He compared Mrs. Clinton’s campaign for war to that of the George W. Bush administration’s now debunked weapons of mass destruction accusations, which were used to lobby Congress to invade Iraq, the tapes show.
SEE ALSO: Listen to the tapes: Intel undercuts Hillary Clinton’s primary argument for Libya military action
“It was like the WMDs in Iraq. It was based on a false report,” Gadhafi said in a May 2011 phone call to Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat serving at the time. “Libyan airplanes bombing demonstrators, Libyan airplanes bombing districts in Tripoli, Libyan army killed thousands, etc., etc., and now the whole world found there is no single evidence that such things happened in Libya.”
Seif Gadhafi also warned that many of the U.S.-supported armed rebels were “not freedom fighters” but rather jihadists whom he described as “gangsters and terrorists.”
“And now you have NATO supporting them with ships, with airplanes, helicopters, arms, training, communication,” he said in one recorded conversation with U.S. officials. “We ask the American government send a fact-finding mission to Libya. I want you to see everything with your own eyes.”
The surreptitiously taped conversations reveal an extraordinary departure from traditional policy, in which the U.S. government speaks to foreign governments with one voice coordinated by the State Department.
Instead, the tapes show that the Pentagon’s senior uniformed leadership and a congressman from Mrs. Clinton’s own party conveyed sentiments to the Libyan regime that undercut or conflicted with the secretary of state’s own message at the time.
“If this story is true, it would be highly unusual for the Pentagon to conduct a separate set of diplomatic negotiations, given the way we operated when I was secretary of state,” James A. Baker III, who served under President George H.W. Bush, told The Times. “In our administration, the president made sure that we all sang from the same hymnal.”
Mr. Kucinich, who challenged Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, acknowledged that he undertook his own conversations with the Gadhafi regime. He said he feared Mrs. Clinton was using emotion to sell a war against Libya that wasn’t warranted, and he wanted to get all the information he could to share with his congressional colleagues.
“I had facts that indicated America was headed once again into an intervention that was going to be disastrous,” Mr. Kucinich told The Times. “What was being said at the State Department — if you look at the charge at the time — it wasn’t so much about what happened as it was about what would happen. So there was a distortion of events that were occurring in Libya to justify an intervention which was essentially wrong and illegal.”
Mr. Kucinich wrote a letter to Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton in August explaining his communications in a last-ditch effort to stop the war.
“I have been contacted by an intermediary in Libya who has indicated that President Muammar Gadhafi is willing to negotiate an end to the conflict under conditions which would seem to favor Administration policy,” Mr. Kucinich wrote on Aug. 24.
Neither the White House nor the State Department responded to his letter, he said.
A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton declined to provide any comment about the recordings.
The State Department also declined to answer questions about separate contacts from the Pentagon and Mr. Kucinich with the Gadhafi regime, but said the goal of Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama was regime change in Libya.
“U.S. policy during the revolution supported regime change through peaceful means, in line with UNSCR 1973 policy and NATO mission goals,” the State Department said. “We consistently emphasized at the time that Moammar Gadhafi had to step down and leave Libya as an essential component of the transition.”
‘President is not getting accurate information’
Both inside and outside the Obama administration, Mrs. Clinton was among the most vocal early proponents of using U.S. military force to unseat Gadhafi. Joining her in making the case were French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and her successor as secretary of state, John F. Kerry.
Mrs. Clinton’s main argument was that Gadhafi was about to engage in a genocide against civilians in Benghazi, where the rebels held their center of power. But defense intelligence officials could not corroborate those concerns and in fact assessed that Gadhafi was unlikely to risk world outrage by inflicting mass casualties, officials told The Times. As a result, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, strongly opposed Mrs. Clinton’s recommendation to use force.
If Mrs. Clinton runs for president next year, her style of leadership as it relates to foreign policy will be viewed through the one war that she personally championed as secretary of state. Among the key questions every candidate faces is how they will assess U.S. intelligence and solicit the advice of the military leadership.
Numerous U.S. officials interviewed by The Times confirmed that Mrs. Clinton, and not Mr. Obama, led the charge to use NATO military force to unseat Gadhafi as Libya’s leader and that she repeatedly dismissed the warnings offered by career military and intelligence officials.
In the recovered recordings, a U.S. intelligence liaison working for the Pentagon told a Gadhafi aide that Mr. Obama privately informed members of Congress that Libya “is all Secretary Clinton’s matter” and that the nation’s highest-ranking generals were concerned that the president was being misinformed.
The Pentagon liaison indicated on the tapes that Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., a top aide to Adm. Mullen, “does not trust the reports that are coming out of the State Department and CIA, but there’s nothing he can do about it.”
In one conversation to the Libyans, the American intelligence asset said, “I can tell you that the president is not getting accurate information, so at some point someone has to get accurate information to him. I think about a way through former Secretary Gates or maybe to Adm. Mullen to get him information”
The recordings are consistent with what many high-ranking intelligence, military and academic sources told The Times:
Mrs. Clinton was headstrong to enter the Libyan crisis, ignoring the Pentagon’s warnings that no U.S. interests were at stake and regional stability could be threatened. Instead, she relied heavily on the assurances of the Libyan rebels and her own memory of Rwanda, where U.S. inaction may have led to the genocide of at least 500,000 people.
“Neither the intervention decision nor the regime change decision was an intelligence-heavy decision,” said one senior intelligence official directly involved with the administration’s decision-making, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “People weren’t on the edge of their seats, intelligence wasn’t driving the decision one way or another.”
Instead of relying on the Defense Department or the intelligence community for analysis, officials told The Times, the White House trusted Mrs. Clinton’s charge, which was then supported by Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E. Rice and National Security Council member Samantha Power, as reason enough for war.
“Susan Rice was involved in the Rwanda crisis in 1994, Samantha Power wrote very moving books about what happened in Rwanda, and Hillary Clinton was also in the background of that crisis as well,” said Allen Lynch, a professor of international relations at the University of Virginia. “I think they have all carried this with them as a kind of guilt complex.”
Humanitarian crisis was not imminent
In 2003, Gadhafi agreed to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction and denounce terrorism to re-establish relations with the West. He later made reparations to the families of those who died in the bombing of Pan-Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
News media frequently described the apparent transformation as Libya “coming in from the cold.”
Still, he ruled Libya with an iron grip, and by February 2011 civil war raged throughout the country. Loyalist forces mobilized tanks and troops toward Benghazi, creating a panicked mass exodus of civilians toward Egypt.
Mrs. Clinton met with Libyan rebel spokesman Mahmoud Jibril in the Paris Westin hotel in mid-March so she could vet the rebel cause to unseat Gadhafi. Forty-five minutes after speaking with Mr. Jibril, Mrs. Clinton was convinced that a military intervention was needed.
“I talked extensively about the dreams of a democratic civil state where all Libyans are equal a political participatory system with no exclusions of any Libyans, even the followers of Gadhafi who did not commit crimes against the Libyan people, and how the international community should protect civilians from a possible genocide like the one [that] took place in Rwanda,” Mr. Jibril told The Times. “I felt by the end of the meeting, I passed the test. Benghazi was saved.”
So on March 17, 2011, the U.S. supported U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 for military intervention in Libya to help protect its people from Gadhafi’s forthcoming march on Benghazi, where he threatened he would “show no mercy” to resisters.
“In this particular country — Libya — at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale,” Mr. Obama declared in an address to the nation on March 28. “We had a unique ability to stop that violence: An international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves.”
Yet Human Rights Watch did not see the humanitarian crisis as imminent.
“At that point, we did not see the imminence of massacres that would rise to genocidelike levels,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division for Human Rights Watch. “Gadhafi’s forces killed hundreds of overwhelmingly unarmed protesters. There were threats of Libyan forces approaching Benghazi, but we didn’t feel that rose to the level of imminent genocidelike atrocities.”
Instead, she said, the U.S. government was trying to be at the forefront of the Arab Spring, when many dictator-led countries were turning to democracy.
“I think the dynamic for the U.S. government was: Things are changing fast, Tunisia has fallen, Egypt has fallen, and we’d better be on the front of this, supporting a new government and not being seen as supporting the old government,” Ms. Whitson said.
Clinton blocks Gadhafi outreach
On the day the U.N. resolution was passed, Mrs. Clinton ordered a general within the Pentagon to refuse to take a call with Gadhafi’s son Seif and other high-level members within the regime, to help negotiate a resolution, the secret recordings reveal.
A day later, on March 18, Gadhafi called for a cease-fire, another action the administration dismissed.
Soon, a call was set up between the former U.S. ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz, and Gadhafi confidant Mohammed Ismael during which Mr. Ismael confirmed that the regime’s highest-ranking generals were under orders not to fire upon protesters.
“I told him we were not targeting civilians and Seif told him that,” Mr. Ismael told The Times in an telephone interview this month, recounting the fateful conversation.
While Mrs. Clinton urged the Pentagon to cease its communications with the Gadhafi regime, the intelligence asset working with the Joint Chiefs remained in contact for months afterward.
“Everything I am getting from the State Department is that they do not care about being part of this. Secretary Clinton does not want to negotiate at all,” the Pentagon intelligence asset told Seif Gadhafi and his adviser on the recordings.
Communication was so torn between the Libyan regime and the State Department that they had no point of contact within the department to even communicate whether they were willing to accept the U.N.’s mandates, former Libyan officials said.
Mrs. Clinton eventually named Mr. Cretz as the official U.S. point of contact for the Gadhafi regime. Mr. Cretz, the former ambassador to Libya, was removed from the country in 2010 amid Libyan anger over derogatory comments he made regarding Gadhafi released by Wikileaks. As a result, Mr. Cretz was not trusted or liked by the family.
Shutting the Gadhafis out of the conversation allowed Mrs. Clinton to pursue a solitary point of view, said a senior Pentagon official directly involved with the intervention.
“The decision to invade [Libya] had already been made, so everything coming out of the State Department at that time was to reinforce that decision,” the official explained, speaking only on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.
As a result, the Pentagon went its own way and established communications with Seif Gadhafi through one of his friends, a U.S. businessman, who acted as an intermediary. The goal was to identify a clear path and strategy forward in Libya — something that wasn’t articulated by the White House or State Department at the time, officials said.
“Our big thing was: ‘What’s a good way out of this, what’s a bridge to post-Gadhafi conflict once the military stops and the civilians take over, what’s it going to look like?’” said a senior military official involved in the planning, who requested anonymity. “We had a hard time coming up with that because once again nobody knew what the lay of the clans and stuff was going to be.
“The impression we got from both the businessman and from Seif was that the situation is bad, but this [NATO intervention] is even worse,” the official said, confirming the sentiments expressed on the audio recordings. “All of these things don’t have to happen this way, and it will be better for Libya in the long run both economically and politically if they didn’t.”
Pentagon looks for a way out
The Pentagon wasn’t alone in questioning the intervention.
The week the U.N. resolution authorizing military force was passed, Sen. Jim Webb, Virginia Democrat, expressed his own concerns.
“We have a military operation that’s been put to play, but we do not have a clear diplomatic policy or clear statement of foreign policy. We know we don’t like the Gadhafi regime, but we do not have a picture of who the opposition movement really is. We got a vote from the Security Council but we had five key abstentions in that vote.”
Five of the 15 countries on the U.N. Security Council abstained from voting on the decision in Libya because they had concerns that the NATO intervention would make things worse. Mrs. Clinton worked to avoid having them exercise their veto by personally calling representatives from Security Council member states.
Germany and Brazil published statements on March 18, 2011, explaining their reasons for abstention.
“We weighed the risks of a military operation as a whole, not just for Libya but, of course, also with respect to the consequences for the entire region and that is why we abstained,” Germany said.
Brazil wrote, “We are not convinced that the use of force as contemplated in the present resolution will lead to the realization of our most important objective — the immediate end of violence and the protection of civilians.
We are also concerned that such measures may have the unintended effect of exacerbating tensions on the ground and causing more harm than good to the very same civilians we are committed to protecting.”
Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., told The Times that history has proved those concerns correct.
“The U.N. Security Council resolution on Libya was meant to create a no-fly zone to prevent bombing of civilians,” said Mr. Kislyak. “NATO countries that participated in this intervention were supposed to patrol the area. However, in a short amount of time the NATO flights — initially meant to stop violence on the ground — went far beyond the scope of the Security Council-mandated task and created even more violence in Libya.”
On March 19, the U.S. military, supported by France and Britain, fired off more than 110 Tomahawk missiles, hitting about 20 Libyan air and missile defense targets. Within weeks, a NATO airstrike killed one of Gaddafi’s sons and three grandsons at their the family’s Tripoli compound, sparking debate about whether the colonel and his family were legitimate targets under the U.N. resolution.
Mr. Gates, the defense secretary, said the compound was targeted because it included command-and-control facilities.
Even after the conflict began, U.S. military leaders kept looking for a way out and a way to avoid the power vacuum that would be left in the region if Gadhafi fell.
As the intelligence asset working with the Joint Chiefs kept his contacts going, one U.S. general made an attempt to negotiate directly with his Libyan military counterparts, according to interviews conducted by The Times with officials directly familiar with the overture.
Army Gen. Carter Ham, the head of the U.S. African Command, sought to set up a 72-hour truce with the regime, according to an intermediary called in to help.
Retired Navy Rear Adm. Charles Kubic, who was acting as a business consultant in Libya at the time, said he was approached by senior Libyan military leaders to propose the truce. He took the plan to Lt. Col. Brian Linvill, the U.S. AFRICOM point of contact for Libya. Col. Linvill passed the proposal to Gen. Ham, who agreed to participate.
“The Libyans would stop all combat operations and withdraw all military forces to the outskirts of the cities and assume a defensive posture. Then to insure the credibility with the international community, the Libyans would accept recipients from the African Union to make sure the truce was honored,” Mr. Kubic said, describing the offers.
“[Gadhafi] came back and said he was willing to step down and permit a transition government, but he had two conditions,” Mr. Kubic said. “First was to insure there was a military force left over after he left Libya capable to go after al Qaeda. Secondly, he wanted to have the sanctions against him and his family and those loyal to him lifted and free passage. At that point in time, everybody thought that was reasonable.”
But not the State Department.
Gen. Ham was ordered to stand down two days after the negotiation began, Mr. Kubic said. The orders were given at the behest of the State Department, according to those familiar with the plan in the Pentagon. Gen. Ham declined to comment when questioned by The Times.
“If their goal was to get Gadhafi out of power, then why not give a 72-hour truce a try?” Mr. Kubic asked. “It wasn’t enough to get him out of power; they wanted him dead.”
Libyan officials were willing to negotiate a departure from power but felt the continued NATO bombings were forcing the regime into combat to defend itself, the recordings indicated.<