- Notes from the Pentagon...
- The new U.S. Northern Command issued a warning on Wednesday
that a terrorist attack was imminent.
- The classified intelligence notice said the warning was
put out in response to the latest audiotape purportedly from al Qaeda leader
Osama bin Laden. The tape warned the United States and its allies that
"you will be killed just as you kill, and will be bombed just as you
- Additionally, the Northcom warning was based on electronic
intelligence gathered from around the world indicating that some type of
terrorist action would take place.
- The warning, as in the past, contained no specific intelligence
of where or when an attack would take place. U.S. officials said the latest
intelligence states that New York, Washington and Los Angeles could be
- The threats are said to be related to the Muslim holy
period of Ramadan, which began earlier this month and continues through
- A spokesman for Northern Command headquarters in Colorado
had no comment.
- Missiles left open
- U.S. intelligence agencies continue to closely watch
Russian strategic nuclear missiles and recently spotted a rare sight: trainload
of missiles left in the open.
- Several new SS-27 strategic nuclear missiles were spotted
on a train at a Russian missile field in a remote part of eastern Russia.
The missile train was photographed by a U.S. spy satellite. What was unusual
was that the train was stopped and the missiles were left in the open,
raising fears that they could be stolen or sabotaged, U.S. intelligence
officials tell us.
- Intelligence analysts believe the reason the new missiles
were left vulnerable is that the missile base was not ready to receive
them. Construction was under way to expand the size of the missile silos
to accommodate the new SS-27s.
- A recent Defense Intelligence Agency analysis made public
by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence states that Moscow's new
ballistic-missile production over the next five years includes SS-26 short-range
missiles, SS-27 intercontinental ballistic missiles, and submarine-launched
SSN-23 and Bulava-30 long-range missiles.
- Osama's khat
- U.S. officials tell us the al Qaeda network has found
another way to raise money. Osama bin Laden's terror organization is cashing
in on khat.
- Khat is the chewing tobacco-type leaf popular in the
Muslim world for its stimulative and euphoric effects.
- In Somalia, U.S. troops found themselves up against militia
members who constantly chewed on the stuff, enabling them to fight fearlessly
around the clock.
- The drug is thriving on the world market, and some of
it is reaching U.S. shores, mailed by Muslims to relatives in the United
States. Intelligence sources say the al Qaeda network has managed to tap
into the trade, producing millions of dollars to fund its terror operations.
- Some administration officials want law enforcement agencies
to crack down by tracing the shipments and questioning the senders. Some
intercepted khat packages arrive in America with return addresses.
- Khat (pronounced "cot") comes from the Catha
edulis plant found in east Africa and southern Arabia. It is particularly
popular in Somalia and Yemen, countries where al Qaeda members are known
to be based.
- Coming in hot
- When the first contingent of U.S. and foreign journalists
arrive by helicopter at Quantico, Va., for a seven-day course on military
training, they will be greeted with what the military calls a "hot
LZ," or landing zone. The reporters and photographers will be greeted
with smoke grenades and automatic-rifle fire as they exit their transport
- Other Army and Marine-style ground training will include
a five-mile hike with a backpack.
- Later, on a warship, the journalists will take part in
simulated conflict operations - a call to general quarters and how to abandon
- The first group of up to 58 reporters were notified last
week by deputy Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman that they are "required
to report to Pentagon" at 7 a.m. tomorrow (that's 0700, in military
- A-12 impasse
- The U.S. government has failed to resolve the dispute
over the canceled A-12 jet fighter-bomber. The U.S. Navy in September sought
$3 billion from General Dynamics and Boeing for past bills on the jet deal.
- The companies then countered with an offer of about $1
billion to settle the dispute. The Bush administration turned down the
proposal, but then said it would take $1.9 billion - which the companies
rejected. It now appears the matter will stay in the courts for years to
- Mad as a hornet
- The Navy's newest warplane, the F-18E Super Hornet, made
its combat debut, U.S. Central Command said this week.
- A Super Hornet off the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln dropped
satellite-guided bombs on two air-defense targets in Iraq's southern no-fly
zone on Nov. 6. The Lincoln recently arrived in the Persian Gulf and will
participate in a military invasion to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein
if President Bush gives the order.
- "In response to hostile acts against coalition aircraft
monitoring the southern no-fly zone, Operation Southern Watch aircraft,
including the Super Hornets from the Abraham Lincoln, used precision-guided
weapons to target two surface-to-air missile systems (SAM), and a command
and control communications facility," a command statement said.
- The SAM systems sat near al Kut, 100 miles southeast
of Baghdad. The command facility was near Tallil, about 160 miles southeast
- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has ordered U.S.
commanders to more aggressively respond to Iraqi air-defense threats by
not only bombing air-defense batteries, but also the command center that
- The rationale is simple: Why not destroy them now rather
than wait for a war?
- Comanche survives
- Army officials are growing increasingly optimistic that
their prized Comanche helicopter will survive an ongoing Pentagon budget
- The Army already has lost the Crusader artillery system
to Mr. Rumsfeld's military-reform movement. The Comanche, a behind-schedule
program to build a new scout/attack chopper, seemed next on the list.
- But Army officials are getting signals from Mr. Rumsfeld's
staff that it will survive.
- "We learned from the Crusader experience to be fully
engaged with OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense]," said one official.
"We have learned our lesson."
- CIA booster
- The CIA got beaten up pretty good on Capitol Hill as
a special committee looks to assign blame for the September 11 attacks.
- So it was a welcome sight at Langley recently when Vice
President Richard B. Cheney showed up to congratulate the directorate of
the intelligence branch on its 50th birthday.
- "The president and I want you to know that your
work is not taken for granted and neither are you," Mr. Cheney told
the analytical branch. "Your achievements may not be widely known,
but some of us do know, and we are in a position to express gratitude,
not just for helping us do our jobs, but for doing your own jobs so well
and reflecting great credit on the United States."
- Before Mr. Cheney's visit, the CIA was privately celebrating
the killing of a top al Qaeda leader in Yemen by an agency-operated Predator
- *Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are Pentagon reporters.
Mr. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at bgertz@WashingtonTimes.com.
Mr. Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at rscarborough@WashingtonTimes.com.
- All site contents copyright © 2002 News World Communications,