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Flawed (Fraudulent) Missile Defense * 2002--Warming * Berenson Update/Action

18 March 2002

This issue's first item is another powerful article about the fraud and flaws of missile defense. The US has more than enough force to protect itself from anyone, except, perhaps, from itself. As the US pours billions into research, development to dominate space, a new escalation of the arms race begins in terms of the increase of all sorts of weapons of mass destruction.

The second item is an update on this year's particularly warm temperatures, and the return of El Nino. The global warming issue is heating up. Check's updated link page on "Global Warming" for more information and possible solutions. Item 3 is an update on Lori Berenson, and the request for your call to the White House by Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

1) The Flawed (Fraudulent) Missile Defense Technology
2) Taking the Earth's temperature
3) Lori Berenson Update Call the White House


1) The Flawed (Fraudulent) Missile Defense Technology

Blowing the Whistle on Bad Science
Arianna Huffington, AlterNet

March 14, 2002

It's the biggest comeback of the millennium to date: nuclear weapons. Only this isn't your parents' nuclear winter. It's a whole new one, as is made clear in a classified Pentagon report leaked last week detailing the Bush administration's willingness to significantly lower the threshold for going nuclear.

Apparently the bar has now been set at "in the event of surprising military developments." But as recent events in the Shah-i-Kot Valley proved, there are rarely any other kind. So this pretty much means "at the will of the president."

Last week also saw the release of a report from the General Accounting Office (GAO) that details how the Pentagon, two major military contractors, TRW and Boeing, and a team of high-powered MIT scientists fabricated the success of the nation's first missile defense test -- turning an embarrassing failure into a phony triumph.

As attention grabbing as this sounds, the report is not really news to anyone who has been following the case of Dr. Nira Schwartz and the United States Government vs. TRW and Boeing.

Schwartz, a scientist and computer expert, was hired in 1995 by TRW to test the key component of the missile defense system: the ability of our missiles (charmingly known as "kill vehicles") to discriminate between incoming enemy warheads and harmless decoys. She soon discovered that the technology being used was fatally flawed.

Alarmed by her findings, she approached her boss, Robert Hughes, and insisted that TRW reveal the problem to the Pentagon. When she was rebuffed, Schwartz sent a letter to the company warning: "If you will not notify the U.S. government, then I will." She was fired the next day.

Two months later, Schwartz sued TRW on behalf of the U.S. government under the False Claims Act, asserting that the defense contractor had knowingly defrauded the American people. In the six years it has taken the case to work its way through a legal maze, on-going tests, including the $100 million debacle highlighted in the GAO report, have only confirmed Schwartz's findings.

By any yardstick, this is a shocking story, affecting both our national security and the nation's fiscal health. According to a recent estimate by the Congressional Budget Office, the price tag for a missile defense system would be over $230 billion. Worse, by sacrificing the Anti-
Ballistic Missile Treaty on the altar of a missile defense shield that has been proven not to work, we are ushering in a new era of nuclear proliferation that will make the world a far more dangerous place.

Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), who requested the GAO report on TRW, makes it clear that he has no "theological problem" with a missile defense shield. "If you can prove to me," he told me, "that we can build a system capable of intercepting missiles from rogue nations, and that it will not bring with it the consequence of restarting an arms race, then I'm open to it. But the report raises way too many questions about concealment and fundamental flaws in the technology."

It's not like the information about test failures and fraud has been flying under the radar. After a judge finally unsealed Schwartz's suit, the story ended up on the front page of the New York Times in March 2000, followed by a Dan Rather interview with Schwartz on CBS.

So the question becomes: Why is the national missile shield as seemingly unstoppable as the missiles it purports to destroy? And what will it take for this story to penetrate Washington's defenses against critical information affecting national policy?

"The government's system of checks and balances has badly failed at every level throughout this process," missile defense expert and MIT professor Ted Postol told me. "What it's going to take now is stirring the public imagination and outrage." Perhaps it will take dramatizing Nira Schwartz's story and turning her into the Erin Brockovich of the nuclear arms debate.

When I first talked with Dr. Schwartz on the phone, it was hard to picture her as the heroine in a David vs. Goliath struggle against the military-industrial complex. She speaks haltingly in a soft, thickly accented voice (she emigrated from Israel in 1984). But as she continued to tell her story, her words filled with passion, patriotism and integrity, it became clear that this is a woman on a moral mission.

"As an adopted citizen of this beautiful country," she told me, "I would do anything to be able to protect what I love so dearly. But we've wasted a decade, and billions of dollars, in a quest for a missile defense shield based on a technology that will never work."

Her commitment to exposing the truth has come at a high price. A gifted cientist with a Ph.D. in physics and engineering, and the holder of 24 United States patents, Schwartz has found herself effectively blackballed since filing her suit -- unable to land a job in her field despite having sent out over 300 resumes.

It's a disturbing precedent -- especially given the Bush administration's obsession with secrecy, and our elected representatives' unwillingness to take on a popular wartime president,
lest they be branded traitors. In this kind of political climate, we need courageous whistle blowers like Nira Schwartz more than ever.

"She is definitely a hero," Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), who has requested a Congressional hearing on this issue, told me. "She's like a 21st Century Paul Revere who is warning that this fundamentally flawed technology will not protect the American people, and at the same time it's being used to destroy the ABM treaty."

When Gary Hart and Warren Rudman released their prophetic report warning of America's vulnerability to terrorist attacks, no one paid attention, and thousands died on 9/11. Will untold millions have to die before we start paying attention to Nira Schwartz?

2002 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

Original article is posted:


2) Taking the Earth's temperature

Taking the Earth's temperature by Leonie Haimson

14 Mar 2002

The global temperature data for January and February are in -- and it sure has been hot.

Both the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that the year started with the warmest January since record-keeping began. Global temperatures were 0.69 degrees Celsius (1.24 degrees Fahrenheit) above the long-term average. In large areas of North America and Central Asia, January was an astonishing 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) above average. February was also extremely warm, according to the GISS figures, although the month came in second to the record February of 1998.

About the data

Globally, the three months from November through January were the second-warmest on record for that three-month period, measuring 0.57 degrees Celsius (1.03 degrees Fahrenheit) above average. In the U.S., temperatures during these months were the highest ever recorded -- a toasty 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3 degrees Fahrenheit) above the long-term mean (Planet Ark, Reuters, 25 Feb 2002). In Canada, they're calling it the "year without winter" (Toronto Globe and Mail, 08 March 2002).

Meanwhile, NOAA scientists are glimpsing signs of an impending El Nino in the equatorial Pacific, with ocean temperatures already having increased by 2 degrees Celsius (3.75 degrees Fahrenheit) in February. They predict that over the next few weeks, the seas off the coast of Ecuador and Peru will warm still further, most likely leading to the emergence of a full-fledged El Nino over the next three months. Signs of a developing El Nino have appeared earlier than usual this year (ENS, 11 Mar 2002).*

Along with warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures, El Ninos customarily bring heavy rain and floods to large parts of the U.S. and South America, and drought and forest fires to many areas of Southeast Asia, Australia, and the western Pacific. The last El Nino, in 1997, was especially disruptive worldwide, contributing to famines in Papua New Guinea and devastating fires and smog in Indonesia (Planet Ark, Reuters, 08 Feb. 2002).

Although it's still early, it's safe to say that overall, 2002 is shaping up to be a very hot year.

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For this article and links at Grist Magazine, see

Leonie Haimson was the climate columnist for the former Liberty Tree Alliance website. She coauthored The Way Things Really Are; Debunking Rush Limbaugh on the Environment for the Environmental Defense Fund, and edited Common Questions on Climate Change for the U.N. Environment Programme.

*For the latest on the progress of El Nino, check out this NOAA advisory.


3) Lori Berenson Update Call the White House


(Thursday, March 13, 2002)

To All Friends and Supporters of Lori Berenson:

Rhoda was thrilled to hear Lori's voice on the telephone this afternoon telephone privileges from the prison were suspended when the hunger strike by political prisoners began in Lima on February 11. Lori had joined the strike on February 18, hours before the Supreme Court announced it upheld her sentence.

Lori sounded strong and although she said she was not ready to "run a marathon" she said she felt fine. Her last previous meal had been on Sunday evening February 17 and she has been living on sugarwater since. Lori was also grateful for the visit from US Consular Officer Hugo Rodriguez last Friday. He had reported to us that Lori looked healthy on the 19th day of her hunger protest but that other prisoners did not seem to be doing as well. Lori had expressed her concerns for the others to him.

Although phone privileges were restored it was not clear when visiting privileges would be permitted to resume. The prisons have been closed to visitors since the strike began. The US Consular officer was permitted to visit under the rules of the Vienna Convention. As parents, we are grateful to Bishop Luis Bambaren, head of the Council of Bishops for the Catholic Church in Peru, for his compassionate request to the prisoners throughout Peru to end the hunger strike.

Rhoda will be visiting Lori on Saturday March 30.


With President Bush scheduled to leave Washington next weekend for trips to Mexico, Peru, and El Salvador, it is imperative that he hears from supporters and our request that while he is in Peru, he secures Lori's release on humanitarian grounds.

Urgent -- Please call the White House hotline at 202-456-1111 on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday [this week] and ask your friends and relatives to do the same. Press "O" for operator and ask the operator to urge that President Bush do all in his power to secure Lori's release on humanitarian grounds and bring her home to her family and friends.

Many, many thanks!!!!
Rhoda and Mark Berenson

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