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Profile: US Department of Energy

 
  

Positions that US Department of Energy has held:



 

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US Department of Energy actively participated in the following events:

 
  

April 11, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       US officials in the Energy Department respond to an intelligence report released the previous day (see April 10, 2001) which contended that the aluminum tubes sought by Iraq (see July 2001) are destined for use as centrifuge rotors in a uranium enrichment program. The Energy Department argues that the tubes are too narrow, too heavy, and too long to be used in a gas centrifuge. Furthermore, the officials note, there is no evidence that Iraq is seeking to acquire other materials that would be needed to construct a centrifuge. And if the Iraqis intend to use the tubes for uranium enrichment, they ask, why are they making no effort to conceal their interest in acquiring the tubes? [New York Times, 10/3/04]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Energy
          

May 9, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Energy Department reports that the 7075-T6 aluminum tubes being sought by Iraq from China (see July 2001) have the same specifications as tubes previously used by Iraq to produce conventional rocket tubes. The findings are published in the department's classified Daily Intelligence Highlight, which is posted on an intranet network accessible by members of the intelligence community and the White House. [New York Times, 10/3/04]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Energy
          

October 2, 2001-Mid-December, 2001      911 Environmental Impact

       A team of specialists from UC Davis, known as the Detection and Evaluation of Long-range Transport of Aerosols (DELTA) Group, conducts air sampling from the roof of 201 Varick St., located one mile north-northeast of the WTC site, at the request of the Department of Energy. Regional meteorology will suggest that the monitoring equipment's location at Varick Street probably receives material from the World Trade Center site about half the time. The group's analysts use seven different techniques to analyze the data including synchrotron-induced X-ray fluorescence, scanning transmission ion microscopy and proton elastic scattering analysis, and soft beta mass measurements and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). DELTA will examine the samples for dozens of substances including carbon-based compounds from burning wood, plastic and carpets; glass shards; and asbestos. DELTA will release summary reports in December (see Early November 2001) and February (see February 11, 2002). [Chemical and Engineering News, 2/18/2002; University of California at Davis DELTA Group, 2/15/2002; JOM, 12/1/01]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Energy, DELTA Group
          

October 15, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Italy's military intelligence agency, SISMI, reportedly permits a CIA field agent in Rome to review some papers (It is not clear if these papers are the actual forgeries or a summary of the forgeries put together by SISMI) documenting a deal between Iraq and Niger for the purchase of a large quantity of uranium oxide, known as “yellowcake.” The agent, who is not permitted to duplicate the papers, writes a report and sends it to Langley. [New Yorker, 10/20/03; Knight Ridder, 11/4/2005; La Repubblica, 11/11/2005] The report, it is later learned, is based on a collection of mostly forged documents that were put together in Italy (see (Between Late 2000 and September 11, 2001)). [New York Times, 10/28/2005 Sources: Robb-Silberman report]
The allegations - The report includes four allegations:
The report states that Iraq first communicated its interest in purchasing uranium from Niger at least as early as 1999. [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq] As blogger Steve Soto will conclude through his careful analysis of the scandal at TheLeftCoaster.Org [TheLeftCoaster [.org], 10/31/2005] none of the documents that are later provided to the US as the basis for these allegations provide actual proof of uranium negotiations in 1999. Two of the source documents for this allegation do mention a 1999 visit by Wissam Al-Zahawi to Niger, however no evidence has ever surfaced suggesting that there were any discussions about uranium during that visit (see February 1999). The first document (possibly authentic) is a letter, dated February 1, 1999, from the Niger embassy in Rome to Adamou Chekou, the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Niger, announcing Zahawie's trip. It does not mention uranium. Note that the SISMI report does not mention Al-Zahawi's trip, it only states that uranium negotations between the two countries began by at least 1999. [Sources: Forged Niger documents] The second document is a letter dated July 30, 1999 from the Niger Ministry of Foreign Affairs to his ambassador in Rome requesting that he contact Zahawie, concerning an agreement signed June 28, 2000 to sell uranium to Iraq. The letter is an obvious forgery because the letter (July 30, 1999) refers to an alleged event that is described as taking place 11 months later (June 28, 2000). [Sources: Forged Niger documents]
The SISMI report states that in “late 2000,” the State Court of Niger approved an agreement with Iraq whereby Niger would sell Iraq a large quantity of uranium. This allegation appears to be based on a forged document titled “Annex 1,” which was possibly an annex to the alleged uranium agreement. It is evident that this document was forged because it says that the state court “met in the chamber of the council in the palace ... on Wednesday, July 7, 2000.” But July 7, 2000 was, in fact, a Friday, not a Wednesday. One of SISMI's reports, possibly this one, actually includes this error. [TheLeftCoaster [.org], 10/31/2005 Sources: Forged Niger documents]
According to the report, Nigerien President Mamadou Tandja approved the agreement and communicated this decision to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The source for this is apparently a forged letter from the president of Niger to Saddam Hussein, in which the president refers to his authority under the country's obsolete 1966 constitution. At the time the letter was presumed to have been written, the constitution in effect would have been that of December 26, 1992, which was subsequently revised by national referendum on May 12, 1996 and again by referendum on July 18, 1999. [US Department of State, 9/2005; Reuters, 3/26/03 Sources: Forged Niger documents]
The report also alleges that in October 2000, Nigerien Minister of Foreign Affairs Nassirou Sabo informed one of his ambassadors in Europe that Niger had agreed to provide several tons of uranium to Iraq. [Sources: Forged Niger documents]
This is seemingly based on a forged letter that accompanied the alleged uranium sales agreement. The letter, dated October 10, 2000, is stamped as being received in Rome on September 28, 2000—nearly two weeks before the letter was presumably written. Unlike what is reported in the SISMI papers provided to the CIA, the actual letter is signed by Allele Elhadj Habibou, who left office in 1989. This indicates that someone must have corrected this information, replacing the name of Allele Elhadj Habibou with that of Nassirou Sabo (the minister in October 2000) in the SISMI report provided to the CIA. [TheLeftCoaster [.org], 11/2/2005]
Distribution within US intelligence community - After recieving the report from its fied agent in Rome, the CIA distributes it to other US intelligence agencies. The SSCI will say in its report: “CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and Department of Energy (DOE) analysts considered the reporting to be ‘possible’ while the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) regarded the report as ‘highly suspect,’ primarily because INR analysts did not believe that Niger would be likely to engage in such a transaction and did not believe Niger would be able to transfer uranium to Iraq because a French consortium maintained control of the Nigerien uranium industry.” [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq] Sources later interviewed by New Yorker's Seymour Hersh portray US intelligence analysts' assessment of the report in slightly harsher terms, saying that they “dismissed [it] as amateurish and unsubstantiated.” [New Yorker, 10/20/03] Langley asks for further clarification from Rome [La Repubblica, 11/11/2005] and recieves a response three days later (see October 18, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein, Nassirou Sabo, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Mamadou Tandja, US Department of Energy, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Wissam al-Zahawie, SISMI
          

Early November 2001      911 Environmental Impact

       A team of specialists from UC Davis, the Detection and Evaluation of Long-range Transport of Aerosols (DELTA) Group, sends the results from their first samples (see October 2, 2001-Mid-December, 2001) to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Advanced Light-Source Lab. Since October 2, the group has been conducting air sampling from the roof of 201 Varick St., located one mile north-northeast of the WTC site, at the request of the Department of Energy. According to the team, data indicates that the WTC plume “in many ways [resembles] those seen from municipal waste incinerators and high temperatures processes in coal-fired power plants.” A summary report of the data concludes: “The size fractions above 1 micrometer contained finely powdered concrete gypsum, and glass, with soot-like coatings and anthropogenic metals, but little asbestos. Composition in the very fine size range (0.26 > Dp > 0.09) was dominated by sulfuric acid and organic matter, but, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their derivatives, and glasslike silicone containing aerosols.” [JOM, 12/1/01; University of California at Davis DELTA Group, 2/15/2002; Chemical and Engineering News, 2/18/2002]
People and organizations involved: DELTA Group, Thomas Cahill, US Department of Energy
          

September 13, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The New York Times publishes a second article reporting that the Bush administration believes a shipment of aluminum tubes destined for Iraq, intercepted in Jordan by US authorities in July (see July 2001), was intended for use in a gas centrifuge. Unlike The Times' previous report, this article mentions that there is a debate over the tubes between the Energy Department and CIA. It says that according to an unnamed official “[T]here have been debates among intelligence experts about Iraq's intentions in trying to buy such tubes.” The article says that the official claims “the dominant view in the administration was that the tubes were intended for use in gas centrifuges to enrich uranium.” Another official interviewed by the newspaper claims that Energy's alternative view “is a footnote, not a split.” One administration official is even quoted by the paper asserting “that the best technical experts and nuclear scientists at laboratories like Oak Ridge supported the CIA assessment.” [New York Times, 9/13/02; New York Times, 10/3/04] After the article is published, the Energy Department releases a directive forbidding employees from discussing the issue with reporters. [New York Times, 10/3/04]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Energy
          

April 22, 2003      US Military

       The US Department of Energy announces that the United States has reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. It is again capable of producing nuclear weapons for the first time in 14 years and is manufacturing plutonium parts for the stockpile of nuclear weapons. It will also begin plans for a new factory that could produce components for hundreds of weapons a year. The factory would be ready for production by 2018. [Los Angeles Times, 3/24/2003]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Energy
          

2004      US Military

       The United States Department of Energy spends $6.5 billion on nuclear weapons research and production, 50 percent more than it did during the Cold War. [Los Angeles Times, 3/24/2003; Natural Resources Defense Council, 4/13/2004]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Energy
          

February 2004      Bush's environmental record

       The Department of Energy (DOE) says it will not request $350 million that the agency is supposed to use for the disposal of more than 85 million gallons of “high-level” radioactive waste unless Congress and state governments agree to downgrade the classification for some of the waste to “low-level” so that it can be disposed of using a less costly method that it estimates will save $29 billion. The DOE claims that some of the waste has a low enough level of radioactivity that the waste can simply be covered with concrete and left in place. But in July 2003, a federal judge in Idaho ruled that the Energy Department's plan was illegal and that the agency was bound to the nuclear waste law, which states that liquid nuclear fuel reprocessing waste is “high-level” and needs to be buried in a permanent geological storage facility. The waste, left over from Cold War armament projects, includes 53 million gallons at the DOE's Hanford site near Richland, Washington; 34 million gallons at its Savannah River site near Aiken, South Carolina; and 900,000 gallons at its INEEL facility in Idaho. Additionally, there are 600,000 gallons of waste from a short-lived civilian reprocessing program near West Valley, New York. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Associated Press, 4/8/2004; Associated Press, 2/26/2004; New York Times, 5/30/2004] A lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Geoffrey Fettus, warns that the Energy Department's plan would in effect create “nuclear cesspools” at the weapons plants and the Savannah River plant would become the most polluted nuclear site on the planet. [New York Times, 5/30/2004]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Energy, US Congress, Bush administration
          

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