- China's military provided training for Afghanistan's
Taliban militia and its al Qaeda supporters, according to a U.S. intelligence
- The intelligence was obtained from anti-Taliban Afghan
sources. It was surprising to U.S. analysts because China is a target of
Islamic separatists, who are known to have been trained in terrorist camps
- The training of the Taliban forces took place before
September 11. It was carried out in cooperation with Pakistan's ISI intelligence
service, defense officials told us.
- The report, and others like it, was unwelcome news for
some of the pro-China analysts within the U.S. government who are pushing
the Bush administration to adopt a more conciliatory posture toward the
communist government in Beijing. These officials point to China's cooperation
in the war on terrorism, which has included intelligence sharing of limited
- U.S. intelligence officials do not know why the Chinese
provided the military training to Islamic radicals. But some analysts believe
it was an attempt to gain influence over the Taliban and al Qaeda.
- Another theory is that the Chinese military training
was a high-risk variation on the Soviet deception operation in the 1920s
known as the Trust. The operation created a false dissident organization
in Russia. The group lured regime opponents back to Russia, where they
were imprisonment or executed. The Chinese training could have been part
of an effort to identify some of the thousands of Uighurs in China's western
Xinjiang province, who are working with al Qaeda.
- Evidence of Chinese military backing for the Taliban
continues to surface. Late last month, U.S. Army Special Forces troops
discovered 30 HN-5s, the designation for Chinese-made SA-7s surface-to-air
missiles, in southeastern Afghanistan.
- Other intelligence reports indicated the Chinese shipped
missiles to the Taliban after September 11. China's government has
denied supporting al Qaeda and the Taliban.
- On Iraq The buzz in the Army is that units may begin
deploying in stages to the Persian Gulf this fall for possible military
action against Iraq. There are already more than the normal contingent
of Army soldiers in Kuwait. The Pentagon maintains the increased tempo
has nothing to do with an invasion.
- Some military planners are advocating a slow, disguised
buildup of land forces and aircraft so as not to spark a pre-emptive strike
by Saddam Hussein. Planners fully expect Saddam to unleash all the weaponry
at his disposal " including chemical and biological warheads "
if he feels his regime and his power are at stake.
- President Bush wants to topple Saddam before his first
term ends, but has not approved a war plan.
- Go slow Pentagon acquisition officials have given the
Marine Corps the go-ahead to begin flight tests again on the V-22 Osprey.
But naval sources tell us program directors are starting very slow
to ensure there is not another fatal accident that would doom the helicopter-fixed-wing
- Marines are still focusing on reducing airframe vibrations
and on pilot proficiency, and may not begin the formal flight-test program
- "None of the pilots are current in the airplane,"
said one source. "They are going super-safe, afraid if they have one
more incident, the program will be over, which I think it will be."
- The Osprey may die even if restarted test flights go
well. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his aides are eyeing cuts
in some major weapon systems in the fiscal 2004 budget, which gets written
inside the Pentagon this fall. The V-22, say sources, is a prime target
for cancellation, as budgeteers look to end shaky programs to save money
for large procurement bills due later this decade.
- Vice President Richard B. Cheney tried to kill the Osprey
troop-carrier 10 years ago when he served as defense secretary in the first
Bush administration. Congress and the Corps balked, and Mr. Cheney relented.
But Mr. Rumsfeld plays hardball, advising the president to veto defense
bills he doesn't like.
- The Corps grounded the aircraft last year after two crashes
that killed 23 Marines.
- L.A.-bound ships searched The U.S. Coast Guard stopped
three or four freighters headed for the Los Angeles area earlier this month.
The action was part of the FBI investigation into intelligence reports
that a group of up to 40 al Qaeda terrorists and a large weapons cache
were headed to the United States.
- The Coast Guard stopped the ships in the vicinity of
Catalina Island, off the coast of Los Angeles. In each case, at least one
U.S. official conducted a search.
- According to intelligence and law enforcement officials,
the probe was triggered by intelligence that stated al Qaeda fighters were
aboard a freighter that left an unidentified Middle East port last month.
The plan called for unloading the al Qaeda fighters and their weapons onto
six or seven small boats near Catalina, which would then infiltrate the
terrorists into Los Angeles.
- A Coast Guard spokesman declined to comment, citing a
policy of not talking about "security measures" taken by the
- French not spoken Al Qaeda terrorists now imprisoned
in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been playing games with U.S. military interrogators
during questioning sessions.
- The military has sent language specialists fluent in
the languages spoken by the detainees, including Arabic and Urdu.
- However, one prisoner confounded an interrogator recently
by switching languages and answering questions in French. The questioner
did not speak the language.
- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters earlier
this week that the terrorists being held at Gitmo, as the U.S. Navy base
there is called, are tough, but the questioning is producing some results.
- "Well, first of all, appreciate the fact that these
are pros," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "A lot of these people are very
well-trained. They know how to deal with interrogation. They are clever,
and they lie through their teeth, and they tell different stories at different
times. And you begin piecing things together."
- Dish network Seasoned operators tell us it's no big deal
that some dish customers can, from time to time, tune into images from
the unmanned Predator beamed across the world via satellites.
- "In Europe, we did use commercial satellites for
routine UAV [unmanned airborne vehicles] in order to save bandwidth for
higher-priority classified-ops traffic," said one military source.
"When we run high-interest/classified UAV operations, we exclusively
used encrypted military nets."
- We assume the encrypted signals would include the times
the CIA has used the Predator as a killer, remotely firing Hellfire missiles
at top terrorists hiding in Afghanistan.
- Fidel's fandango The Western media has a fascination
with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro that sometimes borders on infatuation,
say anti-Castro Cuban Americans.
- Take for example, they say, Mr. Castro's forced public
demonstrations in Cuba this week in favor of continuing his hard-line communist
- Our man in Havana tells us he saw no reporting on the
fact that "demonstrators" must check in a hour beforehand with
government representatives. Failure to appear has resulted in lost pay
or lost jobs.
- Noting some Western pictures of demonstrators, the source
said, "There is essentially no one chanting or smiling or doing much
of anything? They are simply being where they are supposed to be."