Friday, January 9, 2004
1. WEAPONS OF MASS DECEPTION: A RATIONALE FOR WAR - OR A PRETEXT?
The New York Times reported yesterday that a 400-member team of military weapons hunters has been quietly withdrawn from Iraq, to be replaced by a force trained to deal with homemade bombs. This must be "the imminent threat" we were told about before the war. On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that, "Iraq's arsenal exists only on paper." In fact, plans for a long-range missile consisted of a hand drawn sketch on two sheets of notebook paper. The 1,400 member Iraq Survey Group has searched Iraq for more than seven months at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Citing "unauthorized" interviews with Survey Group members, the Post report says the Group now sees no prospect of finding banned weapons or production facilities. Also on Wednesday, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace released a report on WMD in Iraq. In the months before the war, it says,"the intelligence community began to be unduly influenced by policymakers views"
2. INTELLIGENCE: WAS A "BEWARE OF DOG" SIGN MISTAKEN FOR A DOG?
Yesterday, Secretary of State Powell conceded that at the time of his UN speech last year, he had no concrete evidence linking Saddam Hussein to Al Queda. Where had the administration gotten its information? I decided to call my colleague, Ali Mentari, a nuclear physicist at Bagdad U. "How did you fool a smart guy like Powell," I asked. Ali paused long enough to finish chewing, "We not try to fool Americans. You got no idea of what we must do to survive under homicidal maniac. Saddam say 'build atomic bomb,' but we got no stuff to make bomb. So we drink tea and send reports to Saddam about great progress. We are truly sorry your CIA intercept them." The eating resumed; the interview was over.
3. MARS: "LIKE COLUMBUS, WE DREAM OF SHORES WE'VE NOT YET SEEN."
Those stirring words were spoken by President George H. Bush on the steps of the Air and Space Museum on July 24, 1989, the 20th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. He called for a return to the Moon, and on to Mars. President George W. Bush, who seems driven to complete his father's unfinished work, is expected to issue a similar call next Wednesday. It's a curiously old-fashioned dream. Progress of society is measured by the extent to which work that is menial or dangerous is performed by machines. The scientists that command telerobots like Spirit, having become virtual astronauts, are the explorers of today.
4. APPLICATIONS INVITED FOR SUMMER 2004 MASS MEDIA FELLOWSHIPS:
The APS is sponsoring two ten-week summer fellowships to work in mass media organizations.
Priority will be given to graduates in physics or closely related fields. The
deadline is Jan. 31, '04. Details at http://www.aps.org/public_affairs/
know what the media is like; here's a chance to improve it.