Morning Report: October 25, 2006

Nuclear labs and meth labs. Documents from Los Alamos turn up in an unexpected place, a behemoth changes course, and an Arab leader doesn't like deadlines. One Middle Eastern country takes steps to help sex slaves; while a Western leader refuses to back down in the face of ill winds.

Police raid turns up Los Alamos documents. AP via Yahoo: 'Authorities in northern New Mexico have stumbled onto what appears to be classified information from Los Alamos National Laboratory while arresting a man suspected of domestic violence and dealing methamphetamine from his mobile home. Sgt. Chuck Ney of the Los Alamos Police Department said the information was discovered during a search last Friday of the man's records for evidence of his drug business. Police alerted the FBI to the secret documents, which agents traced back to a woman linked to the drug dealer, officials said. The woman is a contract employee at Los Alamos National Laboratory, according to an FBI official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case.' Defense Tech has more:
While the FBI won't comment, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has some insights.

According to unconfirmed sources, the information was classified as Secret Restricted Data which means it would involve nuclear weapons data and may have concerned detection of underground nuclear weapons testing. Also unconfirmed, the person in possession of the information worked either in Technical Area 55 where all of the Lab’s plutonium is stored or in the X Division which handles nuclear weapons design data for a maintenance subcontractor of the Lab.

POGO also notes six previous security incidents at LANL since 9/11.

Full articles at the links. (AP, Defense Tech)

On changing missions. The Belmont Club takes a look at the US military's evolution from countryside battlefields to urban warfare: 'This exercise is interesting because it illustrates just how long it takes for an institution as large and complex as the US military to reorient itself from an old mission to a new one. For purposes of historical comparison it wasn't until the mid-1950s that the US adopted a coherent strategy on the use nuclear weapons — weapons which had been developed ten years earlier. ... One tacit assumption to Urban Resolve 2015 is that the fighting will take place in "enemy" cities. However there is the possibility that some of the urban fighting in the coming decades will take place in Western European cities, such as Paris. In that environment the intelligence, culture, governance and legal aspects of the problem may dominate the purely military. Maybe Belfast would be a better laboratory model than Baghdad.' Read the full post at the link. (Belmont Club)

Maliki rejects timetable. Debka: 'Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki angrily refutes US timeline plan for curbing violence and disavows US-led Sadr City raid. “I affirm that this government represents the will of the Iraqi people and no one has the right to impose a timetable on it,” said Maliki, refuting the statement from US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad in Baghdad Tuesday that the Iraqi government had agreed to a timeline for progress on security and the economy. The Iraqi PM complained he had not been consulted on a US-Iraq raid of the teeming Shiite Sadr City slum of Baghdad, which is dominated by the anti-US cleric Moqtada Sadr, and insisted “that it will not be repeated.” At least 4 killed and 18 injured in the fighting in Sadr City overnight. ...' (Debka)

Blair: No change in Iraq strategy. AP via Jerusalem Post: 'Britain will not change its strategy of staying in Iraq until that country's forces are ready to take over responsibility for security, Prime Minister Tony Blair said. He rebuffed calls for a quick withdrawal, saying it was crucial that British troops remain in Iraq as long as they are needed. "To do anything else would be a complete betrayal not just of the Iraqi people, but of all the sacrifices that have been made by our armed forces over the years," Blair said during his weekly House of Commons question and answer session. "There will be no change in the strategy of withdrawal from Iraq, only happening when the Iraqi forces are confident that they can handle security," he said.' (AP via JPost)

Israel grants residency rights to sex-trade victims. Jerusalem Post: 'From this point on, victims of the Israeli sex trade will receive temporary residence and work in Israel for the period of one year, Interior Minister Roni Bar-On announced on Wednesday. In an interview with Israel Radio, Bar-On added that the benefits will be granted regardless of whether the women testify against their abusers. Previously, the government had restricted such benefit to those who helped prosecute smugglers and sex-trade employers.' (JPost)

Terrorists to go free in Shalit deal. Arutz Sheva: 'In an interview with Israel Radio this morning, David Hacham, a senior advisor to the defense minister, confirmed reports that had appeared in the Arab press stating that Israel had agreed to free terrorists in a deal for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.' (A7)

West bickers, Iran builds nukes. ThreatsWatch:
Even though the Islamic Republic remains in defiant violation of the United Nations Security Council’s demand that it cease enrichment operations by August 31, Iran’s ambassador to Russia, Gholamreza Ansari, said that Tehran is anxious to restart nuclear talks regarding its nuclear program. Said the ambassador, “I am certain that Iran is ready for talks to begin as soon as possible, all issues can be discussed during these negotiations.” But the United States believes that Iran’s claims of being willing to discuss ‘all issues’ is little more than a stalling tactic, designed to buy the regime more time, month by month, for furthering its nuclear weapons program.

The United States likely does not view it coincidental that Iran’s re-stated desires for more talks, a call that is made by Iran on almost a daily basis, is accompanied today with news that a second Iranian 164-centrifuge cascade is in place and will soon be ready for operation. This according to IAEA head Mohammed ElBaredei, who said yesterday that “based on our most recent inspections, the second centrifuge cascade is in place and ready to go.” ElBaredei remains unconvinced that Iran is trying to acquire nuclear weapons, adding, “The jury is still out on whether they are developing a nuclear weapon.”

Also today, even as Russia recently earlier vowed to oppose and punishment of Iran through UN sanctions, implying a veto vote, reports today suggest that the United States and European diplomats are arguing over the Russian construction of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor. ...

Steve Schippert's article concludes: 'This week could be a contentious week of diplomatic conflict for all involved as the issue of Iran sanctions nears the floor of the Security Council chambers.' (ThreatsWatch)

Commentary. There's a column by Melanie Phillips in USA Today about anti-Americanism in Britain. Go to the link to read the whole thing, but here's a key extract:
But British animosity toward the U.K.'s most important and historic ally is wider and deeper. Partly it derives from simple snobbery, the long-standing British belief that Americans are vulgar upstarts who lack the gravitas that Britain has accrued from a thousand years of history.

Probe further, however, and you discover anguish at the progressive junking of that history. Schools, for example, no longer teach the history or values of the British nation on the grounds that national identity based on a majority culture is viewed as "racist." Instead, they promote multiculturalism, the doctrine that minority value must have equal status to those of the majority. Loss of confidence in Britain's role in the world has demoralized its governing class so badly that it has come to believe that the nation state is the principal source of all ills from prejudice to war, and that legitimacy resides instead in supranational institutions.

So no international action can be taken without sanctification by that holy of holies, the United Nations. As a result, the British regard Bush's "unilateral" foreign policy with undiluted horror. This is made worse by disdain for Bush himself, regarded as a tongue-tied cowboy who actually believes in God — to the post-religious British, the nearest thing to a certificate of lunacy.

The biggest single cause of British anti-Americanism, however, is Israel. Despite being the target for more than half a century of genocidal Arab and Muslim aggression, Israel is widely perceived in Britain as the regional bully, and its acts of self-defense are viewed as the principal motor behind both the Middle East impasse and Islamic grievance because of its supposed refusal to allow the Palestinians to have a state of their own.

Read it all at the link. Kudos to USA Today for publishing Melanie Phillips' column. I'll just add that I think it's a good sign that Phillips is appearing in a popular, mass-circulation paper like USA Today.

Oppression of women occurs in many places and on many levels. The Israeli government's compassionate response offers hope to countless women and girls living in misery.