Inside the Ring

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - Bill Gertz Rowan Scar­bor­ough

Hezbol­lah arms

One of the most sur­pris­ing and ef­fec­tive weapons used by Hezbol­lah guer­ril­las dur­ing re­cent fight­ing with Is­rael in south­ern Le­banon was the Rus­sian­made Kor­net-E anti-tank weapon, a laser-guided mis­sile that was deadly against Is­rael’s Merkava tanks. The ques­tion be­ing asked by many se­cu­rity spe­cial­ists is how the Kor­nets reached the ter­ror­ist group.

Ed­ward Tim­per­lake, a Pen­tagon arms tech­nol­ogy spe­cial­ist, tells us he in­ves­ti­gated Rus­sia’s il­le­gal trans­fer of Kor­net-Es to Iraq in 2003 and 2004 in cat­a­loging the tons of for­eign arms found in the coun­try.

Mr. Tim­per­lake led the pro­duc­tion of the Pen­tagon’s Iraq Tech­nol­ogy Trans­fer List af­ter the March 2003 in­va­sion of Iraq. Among the many for­eign weapons he found had been sold to Sad­dam Hus­sein in vi­o­la­tion of U.N. sanc­tions was the Kor­net-E, and the re­port on the list in­cluded a photo of a U.S. M-1A1 tank that had been de­stroyed by one of the mis­siles in the Iraq con­flict.

The Kor­net-E trans­fers were noted in the re­port as a “sanc­tion buster” by the Rus­sians, and al­though how they reached Iraq is not clear, “the ev­i­dence pointed to a trans-shipment through Syria,” Mr. Tim­per­lake said as part of in­ter­views for the book “Treach­ery: How Amer­ica’s Friends and Foes Are Se­cretly Arm­ing Our En­e­mies.”

Mr. Tim­per­lake and his for­mer boss, Deputy Un­der­sec­re­tary of De­fense Jack Shaw, de­serve credit for pro­duc­ing the re­port and giv­ing the world an early and open-source warn­ing of just how deadly the Rus­sian weapon is against the mil­i­tary’s main bat­tle tank.

Ugly Amer­i­can

Un­for­tu­nately, Mr. Shaw had his job re­or­ga­nized out of ex­is­tence the same month the re­port was com­pleted in De­cem­ber 2004 in a dis­pute with other se­nior de­fense of­fi­cials.

“[In­ter­na­tional Tech­nol­ogy Ser­vice] did a very good thing in fo­cus­ing on sanc­tions be­ing busted by the shipment of con­ven­tional and dual-use items to Iraq,” Mr. Tim­per­lake said. “Un­for­tu­nately, the [Is­rael De­fense Forces] paid a price for Pen­tagon po­lit­i­cal score set­tling against ITS and Jack Shaw.”

We re­ceived this e-mail from a Spe­cial Forces sol­dier posted over­seas. He com­mented on cov­er­age of Is­rael’s war against Hezbol­lah, an Ira­nian-spon­sored ter­ror group:

“The only TV I have where I am is CNN In­ter­na­tional and BBC. Jeez, I had no idea how evil the U.S. and Is­rael are. The pro­pa­ganda is stag­ger­ing.”

By the way, the Jerusalem Post re­ports that Is­raeli gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials are again mad at the Bri­tish Broad­cast­ing Corp., this time for cov­er­age that fa­vors Hezbol­lah, which has killed hun­dreds of Amer­i­cans. Is­rael boy­cotted BBC in 2003 over its per­ceived fa­vor­able cov­er­age Ha­mas sui­cide bombers.

In con­text


De­fense Sec­re­tary Don­ald H. Rums­feld put Iraq’s ca­su­alty count into his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive dur­ing an in­ter­view with the Pitts­burgh Tri­bune-Re­view:

“Now, you look at the Civil War — I don’t know how many peo­ple were killed, but some­one gave me a piece of pa­per and I looked at it, it was half a mil­lion peo­ple were killed, and — 524,000 peo­ple were killed.

“So think of that. We’ve lost 2,054, killed in ac­tion in Iraq. [. . .] World War II was 405,000. The Korean War was 36,000. Viet­nam was 58,000. The lives that have been lost — Amer­i­can lives to de­fend this coun­try and the will­ing­ness of the Amer­i­can peo­ple to de­fend the coun­try at those costs says a lot about our coun­try.

“But we wouldn’t be the coun­try we are to­day if those peo­ple hadn’t been will­ing to serve. [. . .] I think we have to ap­pre­ci­ate that wars are ter­ri­bly dif­fi­cult things. They’re ugly. They’re vi­o­lent. And they’re un­pre­dictable, and we are so for­tu­nate to have the peo­ple we have serv­ing over there, do­ing the job they’re do­ing. They’re do­ing an ab­so­lutely su­perb job un­der ter­ri­bly dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances.”


An Army com­man­der just back from Afghanistan had some good news and bad news.

The good: The coali­tion is good at find­ing and killing Tal­iban and al Qaeda fight­ers. The bad: Nearly as fast as the ter­ror­ists are killed, they are re­placed by new re­cruits from camps in Pak­istan.

The war

The “long war” to which the Pen­tagon of­ten refers is not so much a “war on ter­ror,” but a global war against re­li­gious ex­trem­ists who cite Is­lam to jus­tify mass mur­der in a quest for world dom­i­na­tion. In that sense, it is akin to wars against Stal­in­ists, fas­cists or Nazis.

Dur­ing an in­ter­view last week on the Hugh He­witt ra­dio show, Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. com­man­der in the Mid­dle East, talked about de­feat­ing ex­trem­ism. He said it is the mod­er­ate Mus­lims who in the end must win the day.

Asked about whether bat­tles in Le­banon, Iraq and Afghanistan are linked, Gen. Abizaid said: “From where I sit, it’s all con­nected. And whether it’s one war or not can be de­bated from a po­lit­i­cal per­spec­tive. But from a mil­i­tary per­spec­tive, as I look at it — all of the lines lead back to one or two sources. They ei­ther lead back to Sunni-spon­sored ex­trem­ism, or to Shia-spon­sored Ira­nian ex­trem­ism. And some­times, on oc­ca­sional points in the bat­tle­field, they even co­op­er­ate with one an­other. So it’s cer­tainly con­nected. No doubt in my mind.”

He added, “We’ve got to help the moder­ates in the re­gion face down the ex­trem­ists, wher­ever they show up.”

Bro­ken pipe­line

Gov­ern­ment re­la­tions with the press ap­pear to be at an all-time low, with leak in­ves­ti­ga­tions and se­lec­tive prose­cu­tions that are ex­pected to have a chill­ing ef­fect on re­port­ing.

The Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion since the be­gin­ning has gone out of its way to alien­ate the press. Se­nior of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing De­fense Sec­re­tary Don­ald H. Rums­feld, have is­sued is­sue state­ments crit­i­ciz­ing re­port­ing that he has cor­rectly iden­ti­fied as in­ac­cu­rate or bi­ased.

Many na­tional se­cu­rity re­porters hope the re­cent ap­point­ment of Fox News re­porter and ra­dio host Tony Snow as White House spokesman will lead to im­prove­ments in bat­tered gov­ern­ment-press re­la­tions.

A for­mer Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion intelligence of­fi­cial re­minded us re­cently about how Pres­i­dent Rea­gan, who was roundly crit­i­cized by the pre­dom­i­nantly lib­eral press, dealt with the prob­lem.

“I re­mem­ber a meet­ing with the pres­i­dent when neg­a­tive press cov­er­age was dis­cussed,” the for­mer of­fi­cial said, who noted that those in at­ten­dance wanted to pun­ish the press. “Rea­gan in­ter­rupted and said: ‘The press is our pipe­line to the Amer­i­can peo­ple. It’s im­por­tant that we not break that pipe­line, for if we do, we’ll lose an im­por­tant chan­nel of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.’ ”

Bill Gertz and Rowan Scar­bor­ough are Pen­tagon re­porters. Mr. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at bgertz@wash­ing­ton­ Mr. Scar­bor­ough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at rscar­bor­ough@wash­ing­ton­

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