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Weaponization of space
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US Military: Key events

 
  

Project: US Military

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1941

       President Roosevelt orders the establishment of the US Biological Warfare program. [Fort Detrick website, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Franklin Delano Roosevelt
          

1956-1958

       The US Army releases swarms of specially bred mosquitoes in Georgia and Florida as part of an experiment aimed at determining if disease-bearing insects could be used as carriers of biological weapons. The mosquitoes are of the Aedes Aegypti type, which is a carrier of dengue fever. [Blum, 1995]
          

November 1957

       Thomas D. White, Air Force chief of staff, tells the National Press Club, “Whoever has the capability to control space will likewise possess the capability to exert control of the surface of earth.” [MSNBC, 4/27/2001]
People and organizations involved: Thomas D. White
          

1960-1973

       In Vietnam, the US military uses about 21 million gallons of Agent Orange to defoliate the jungle in order to deny enemy fighters cover. The defoliant—manufactured primarily by Monsanto and Dow Chemical—gets its name from the 55-gallon drums it is shipped in that are marked with an orange stripe. At least 3,181 villages are sprayed with the highly toxic herbicide, which is comprised of a 50:50 mixture of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T and contaminated with dangerous levels of dioxins. Much of the dioxin is TCDD, which is linked to liver and other cancers, diabetes, spina bifida, immune-deficiency diseases, severe diarrhea, persistent malaria, miscarriages, premature births, and severe birth defects. Between 2.1 and 4.8 million Vietnamese are exposed, as are about 20,000 US soldiers. According to Vietnamese estimates, Agent Orange is responsible for the deaths of 400,000 people. Because there is a continued presence of high dioxin levels in the food chain of several sprayed areas, the health effects of Agent Orange persist to the present day. According to studies by Arnold Schecter of the University of Texas School of Public Health in Dallas, some Vietnamese have dioxin levels 135 times higher than people living in unsprayed areas. Schecter has called Vietnam “the largest contamination of dioxin in the world.” The Vietnamese believe the herbicide has contributed to birth defects in 500,000 children, many of them second and third generation. Though the US government has accepted responsibility for the health complications in US soldiers that resulted from exposure to Agent Orange (providing up to $1,989 per month for affected vets and more than $5,000 per month for those severely disabled and homebound), the US has refused to compensate Vietnamese victims. To date, no US agency, including the US Agency for International Development, has conducted any program in Vietnam to address the issue of Agent Orange. When asked by Mother Jones magazine in 1999 if the Vietnam government has raised the issue in private talks with the United States, a State Department official responds: “Ohhhh, yes. They have. But for us there is real concern that if we start down the road of research, what does that portend for liability-type issues further on?” [Associated Press, 4/17/2003; Mother Jones, 1/2000; BBC, 11/19/1999; BBC, 11/15/2000; BBC, 12/30/2001]
People and organizations involved: Dow Chemical, Monsanto
          

1962

       The US government sprays florescent particles of zinc cadmium sulfide over Stillwater, Oklahoma, but reportedly does not monitor how the application affects the population. Leonard Cole, an expert on the Army's development of biological weapons, later explains to an Oklahoma TV news program: “Cadmium itself is known to be one of the most highly toxic materials in small amounts that a human can be exposed to If there were concentrations of it enough to make one sick, you could have serious consequences a person over a period of time could have illnesses that could range from cancer to organ failures.” [KFOR, 4/25/03]
          

Sometime between 1962 and 1973

       The US government performs biological and/or chemical weapons tests in Vieques, Puerto Rico. The civilian population is possibly exposed to these dangerous weapons. [Reuters, 10/10/02]
          

Sometime between 1962 and 1973

       The US government performs biological and/or chemical weapons tests in Florida, possibly exposing the civilian population to these agents. [Reuters, 10/10/02]
          

1963-1973

       During the Vietnam war, the US uses a total of 373,000 tons of napalm. [Boston Globe,; St. Petersburg Times, 12/3/2000] One ton of napalm alone is enough to burn a football field in seconds. [BBC, 4/24/2001] The use of napalm in Vietnam is widespread and is a favorite weapon of the US military command. General Paul Harkins says it “really puts the fear of God into the Vietcong—and that is what counts.” [Hilsman, 1967] Pilots are given authority to use the weapon without prior authorization if the original target is inaccessible. [Herring, 1986] Entire villages are destroyed by napalm bombs. [Sources: Colonel Recalls Being Ordered to Napalm Entire Village in Vietnam]
 Additional Info 
          

1964-1968

       As part of Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD), the US military sprays nerve or chemical agents “on a variety of ships and their crews to gauge how quickly the poisons can be detected and how rapidly they would disperse, as well as to test the effectiveness of protective gear and decontamination procedures....” According to documents released in 2002, there is no evidence that the servicemen had given the military consent to be part of the experiment. [New York Times, 5/24/02] The US military later claims the experiments were conducted “out of concern for [the United States'] ability to protect and defend against these potential threats.” [US Department of Defense, 10/31/2002; Reuters, 10/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD)
          

1965-1967

       As part of Project 112, the US military performs a series of tests at the Gerstle River test site near Fort Greeley, Alaska, involving artillery shells and bombs filled with sarin and VX, both of which are lethal nerve agents. The program is coordinated by the Desert Test Center, part of a “biological and chemical weapons complex,” in the Utah desert. [Associated Press, 10/9/02] Civilians may have been exposed to the gasses. [Reuters, 10/10/02] The US military later claims the experiments were conducted “out of concern for [the United States'] ability to protect and defend against these potential threats.” [US Department of Defense, 10/09/2002; Reuters, 10/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Red Oak, Phase 1
          

1965

       As part of Project 112, the US military sprays a biological agent on barracks in Oahu, Hawaii. The agent is believed to be harmless but later shown to infect those with damaged immune systems . The program is coordinated by the Desert Test Center, part of a “biological and chemical weapons complex” in the Utah desert. [Associated Press, 10/9/02] Civilians may have been exposed to the gasses. [Reuters, 10/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Red Oak, Phase 1
          

May 1967

       The US military tests the “effectiveness of artillery shells using sarin in the jungle.” The tests, code-named “Red Oak, Phase 1,” are conducted in the Upper Waiakae Forest Reserve on Hawaii and near Fort Sherman in the Panama Canal Zone. According to reports released in late October 2002, there was “no indication of harm to troops or civilians.” [Reuters, 11/1/02]
          

1968

       The US government sprays bacillus globigii from a submarine “over part of Oahu, Hawaii, and over several boats off the coast ? to gauge how Venezuelan equine encephalitis would be carried by wind.” The project is called, “Folded Arrow.” [Associated Press, 7/1/03]
People and organizations involved: Folded Arrow
          

1968

       The US government sprays two types of bacteria, one of which is E. coli, on a Hawaiian rainforest hoping to determine how long the bacteria will remain on the vegetation. The project is known as “Blue Tango.” [Associated Press, 7/1/03]
People and organizations involved: Blue Tango
          

September 11, 1970-September 14, 1970

       In Laos, a 16-member US Special Forces “Studies and Observations Group” (SOG) and about 140 Montagnard tribesmen are dropped sixty miles from the South Vietnamese border and several miles away from its targeted village. They are told that the objective of the mission, code-named “Operation Tailwind,” is to eliminate a village where VietCong, Russians, and American defectors are believed to be moving freely. The troops are instructed to kill anyone they encounter, combatant or otherwise, including American defectors who pose a special threat to the US because of the sensitive knowledge they possess. [Sources: Thomas Moorer, Robert Van Buskirk, Jim Cathey, Mike Hagen, Jay Graves, Unnamed SOG Recon team commando [1]] Another possible objective of the mission is to divert enemy attention from Operation Gauntlet, an offensive operation to regain control of territory in Laos. [Department of Defense, 7/21/1998] The SOG and Montagnards are all equipped with M-17 gas masks for the mission. [Sources: Craig Schmidt, Robert Van Buskirk, Unnamed SOG Recon team commando [2]] For three days, the team fights its way to the targeted village. On the third night, they camp on the outskirts of the village while it is “prepped” by Air Force A-1s. The next morning, the unit raids the village. The battle ends quickly, in about 10 minutes, because of the previous night's bombing and because most of the people are not combat personnel, but belong to a transportation unit. [Sources: Mike Hagen] When they enter the village, they find more than one hundred bodies. Some are combatants, but many are also women and children. [CNN, 7/2/1999 Sources: Mike Hagen, Jimmy Lucas, Eugene McCarley, Robert Van Buskirk] One member of the SOG sees Montagnard soldiers shove grenades down the throats of women and at least three children. [Sources: Robert Van Buskirk] The soldiers report seeing between 10 and 20 Caucasians among the dead and speculate that they were American defectors, though the Pentagon insists they were Russians. Platoon leader Robert Van Buskirk later tells CNN that he killed two American defectors during the attack when he dropped a white phosphorus grenade into a tunnel where the two had fled. [Sources: Robert Van Buskirk, Mike Hagen, Jim Cathey] Rescue helicopters are then called in and the troops head to a rice paddy and put on their gas masks. As the helicopters prepares to land, it drops gas canisters (CBU-14), probably sarin nerve gas, to incapacitate a swarm of enemy fighters who are coming down a hill towards the landing zone. The enemy fighters immediately drop and go into convulsions when the gas is deployed. [Sources: Mike Sheperd, Unnamed pilot [4], Unnamed pilot [2], Unnamed SOG Recon team commando [2], Unnamed pilot [1], Craig Schmidt, John Snipes, Mike Hagen, Robert Van Buskirk, Unnamed pilot [3]] As the rescue choppers are taking off, SOG members and Montagnards are vomiting and have mucous running uncontrollably from their noses. [Oliver and Smith, 1999; CNN, 6/7/1998; CNN, 6/14/1998; Time Magazine, 6/15/1998; CNN, 7/2/1999 Sources: John Snipes, Unnamed pilot [1], Mike Sheperd, Mike Hagen, Robert Van Buskirk, Unnamed pilot [2], Unnamed SOG Recon team commando [2], Unnamed pilot [3], Unnamed pilot [4]]
People and organizations involved: Eugene McCarley, Mike Sheperd, Robert Van Buskirk, Craig Schmidt, John Snipes, Jimmy Lucas, Jim Cathey, Mike Hagen, Jim Cathey
          

June 12, 1978

       President Carter's secretary of state, Cyrus Vance, says in an official US policy statement: “The United States will not use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon state party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty or any comparable internationally binding commitment not to acquire nuclear explosive devices, except in the case of an attack on the United States, its territories or armed forces, or its allies, by such a state allied to a nuclear-weapon state, or associated with a nuclear-weapon state in carrying out or sustaining the attack.” [Graham and LaVera, 2003]
People and organizations involved: Cyrus Vance
          

October 10, 1980-December 2, 1983

       In Geneva, Protocol III (Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons) of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons is adopted on October 10, 1980, making it illegal to use incendiary weapons on civilian populations and restricting the use of these weapons against military targets that are located within a concentration of civilians. Such weapons are considered “to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects.” 51 countries initially sign the document and on December 2, 1983, its provisions are entered into force. By the end of 2004, 104 countries sign and 97 ratify the protocol. [UN, 11/19/2004 Sources: Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Protocol III] The US is not a party to this protocol and continues to use incendiary weapons in all its major conflicts. It is the only country to do so. [Independent, 8/10/2003]
          

1987

       The US government conducts tests for the purpose of establishing methods for deploying biological weapons from submarines. [Associated Press, 7/1/03]
          

February 1987

       The Foundation for Economic Trends sues the US Department of Defense and forces it to acknowledge the existence of its chemical and biological weapons programs. The Pentagon admits that it is operating 127 chemical and biological warfare research sites in the US. Science magazine reports that the suit reveals that the “DoD is applying recombinant DNA techniques in research and the production of a range of pathogens and toxins including botulism, anthrax and yellow fever.” [Science Magazine, 2/27/1987 cited in Wake-Up Magazine, n.d]
          

6:25 pm October 4, 1992

       El Al Flight LY1862, en route from New York to Tel Aviv, crashes into a block of apartment buildings shortly after take-off from Schiphol Airport, located south-east of Amsterdam. At least 43 people on the ground are killed (The exact number of deaths is unknown, since many of the incinerated victims were undocumented immigrants). Information about the plane's cargo and the crash is suppressed: El Al withholds information about the plane's several tons of “military cargo;” 12 hours of videotape made during the rescue and clean-up operation (42 cassettes in all), along with police audiotapes, are erased and shredded; and El Al documents and the plane's cockpit voice recorder (CVR) mysteriously disappear. It is later learned that the plane, a Boeing 747, was carrying several tons of chemicals, including hydrofluoric acid, isopro-panol and dimethyl methylphosphonate (DMMP)—three of the four chemicals used in the production of sarin nerve gas. The shipment of chemicals—approved by the US commerce department—reportedly came from Solkatronic Chemicals Inc. of Morrisville, Pennsylvania and its final destination was the Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) in Ness Ziona near Tel Aviv, Israel, which is reported to be the “Israeli military and intelligence community's front organization for the development, testing and production of chemical and biological weapons.” A former IIBR biologist later tells the London Sunday Times in October of 1998, “There is hardly a single known or unknown form of chemical or biological weapon... which is not manufactured at the institute.” In fact, it was IIBR that provided the poison and the antidote used in the attempted assassination of a Hamas leader in Jordan in 1998. The IIBR does not appear on any maps and is off-limits even to members of Israel's Parliament, the Knesset. Israel denies that the chemicals were to be used in the production of chemical weapons and instead claims that they were needed to test gas masks. But as an article in Earth Island Journal notes: “[T]his explanation is puzzling since it only takes a few grams to conduct such tests. Once combined, the chemicals aboard Flight 1862 could have produced 270 kilos of sarin—sufficient to kill the entire population of a major world city.” During hearings on the crash in 1999, it is learned that since 1973, El Al planes are never inspected by customs or the Dutch Flight Safety Board and that El Al security at Schiphol is a branch of the Israeli Mossad. Furthermore, it is discovered that every Sunday evening a mysterious El Al cargo flight arrives at Schiphol en route from New York to Tel Aviv. The flights are never displayed on the airport arrival monitors and the flights' documents are processed in a special, unmarked room. [Earth Island Journal, Winter 1999/2000; BBC, 10/2/1998; Covert Action Quarterly, n.d] Over a thousand residents living near the crash site later become sick with respiratory, neurological and mobility ailments and a rise in cancer and birth defects is later detected among the population. [ZNet, 10/12/2002]
People and organizations involved: El Al, Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), Solkatronic Chemicals Inc
          

(Between 1993 and 1995)

       The US Energy Department, Defense Department, and the CIA begin conducting classified biodefense programs. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,]
          

November 1994

       The Defense Science Board completes a study that observes: “Non-lethal incapacitating chemical agents could lead to greater lethality by making enemies more vulnerable to lethal weapons. So, the results of non-lethal weapons are not clear-cut in all cases.” [Asia Times, 4/1/2003]
People and organizations involved: Defense Science Board
          

April 11, 1995

       US Secretary of State Warren Christopher reaffirms the United State's commitment to its 24-year-old pledge (see June 12, 1978) not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states. He says, “The United States reaffirms that it will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons except in the case of an invasion or any other attack on the United States, its territories, its armed forces or other troops, its allies, or on a State toward which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-nuclear-weapon States in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State.” [The Washington Times, 2/22/2002; Arms Control Association, 3/2002]
People and organizations involved: Warren Christopher
          

April 1998

       US Space Command issues its Long Range Plan, arguing that the US must maintain its superiority in space and prevent it from becoming a level playing field where “national military forces, paramilitary units, terrorists, and any other potential adversaries” might share the “high ground” with the US. If adversaries establish a presence in space, it would be “devastating to the United States,” the report says. Chapter 2 of the report summarizes the Space Program's vision for 2020. It emphasizes the need to (1) “ensure un-interrupted access to space for US forces and our allies, freedom of operations within the space medium and an ability to deny others the use of space;” (2) achieve “global surveillance of the Earth (see anything, anytime), worldwide missile defense, and the potential ability to apply force from space;” (3) seamlessly join “space-derived information and space forces with information and forces from the land, sea, and air;” and (4) “augment the military's space capabilities by leveraging civil, commercial, and international space systems.” [American Foreign Services Association, 4/2001 Sources: US Space Program Long Range Plan, 4/1998]
          

June 9, 1998

       US Congress votes 392-22 in favor of legislation that restricts international inspections of chemical sites in the United States, effectively killing the Chemical Weapons Convention. [Henry Stimson Center, 6/16/1998; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,]
People and organizations involved: US Congress
          

October 13, 1999

       In a party-line 48-51-1 vote, the US Senate decides not to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) that President Bill Clinton signed in 1996 (see September 24, 1996). The vote marks the first time in US history that the Senate has rejected an arms control treaty. The treaty, which needed a two-thirds vote for ratification, would have extended the current international ban on above-ground tests to underground testing as well, resulting in a total ban on all nuclear explosions. [CNN, 10/13/1999]
          

2000

       General Richard B. Myers, chief of Space Command, states: “The American military is built to dominate all phases and mediums of combat. We must acknowledge that our way of war requires superiority in all mediums of conflict, including space. Thus, we must plan for, and execute to win, space superiority.” [Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 1/2001; American Foreign Services Association, 4/2001; Yes Magazine, Summer 2001]
People and organizations involved: Richard B. Myers
          

September 14, 2000

       In Geneva, at the Conference on Disarmament, US Ambassador Robert T. Grey, Jr. says that US interest in weaponizing space will not spark an arms race and therefore efforts to establish the proposed Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) treaty would be “unwise,” “unrealistic,” and a waste of time. “The United States agrees that it is appropriate to keep this topic [PAROS] under review,” he says. “On the other hand, we have repeatedly pointed out that there is no arms race in outer space—nor any prospect of an arms race in outer space, for as far down the road as anyone can see.” The US and Israel are the only countries that oppose efforts to outlaw the weaponization of space. Members of the conference express concern that US intentions in space reflect its desire to achieve world hegemony. Grey adamantly denies that the US is motivated by such goals. “We reject allegations that actions or plans of the United States attest to a desire for hegemony, or any intent to carry out nuclear blackmail, or any supposed quest for absolute freedom to use force or threaten to use force in international relations.” He further asserts that this view has “no basis in reality,” because a limited National Missile Defense (NMD) would does “not give anyone ‘hegemony.’” He claims also that hegemony “is unattainable in any case” since the world is so diverse and complex. [Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 1/2001; US Department of State, 9/15/2000]
People and organizations involved: Robert T. Grey
          

January 2001

       The National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP) publishes a report arguing for a “smaller, more efficient, arsenal” of specialized weapons. The report claims that developing a new generation of smaller, tactical nuclear weapons is necessary for the US to maintain its deterrent. The report suggests that nuclear weapons could be used to deter “weapons of mass destruction (WMD) use by regional powers,” deter “WMD or massive conventional aggression by an emerging global competitor,” prevent “catastrophic losses in conventional war,” provide “unique targeting capabilities” (such as the use of “mini-nukes,” or “bunker-busters,” to destroy deep underground/biological weapons targets), or to enhance “US influence in crises.” Many of the report's authors are later appointed to senior positions within the Bush administration, including Linton Brooks who becomes head of the national nuclear security administration overseeing new weapons projects, Stephen Hadley who is appointed deputy national security adviser, and Stephen Cambone who becomes undersecretary of defense for intelligence. [The Guardian, 8/7/2003 Sources: Rationale and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear Forces and Arms Control] The document is said to influence the Pentagon's controversial Nuclear Posture Review that is submitted to Congress a year later (see January 8, 2002).
People and organizations involved: Stephen A. Cambone, Stephen Hadley, National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP), Linton Brooks
          

January 11, 2001

       The Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization, chaired by Donald Rumsfeld, issues its report to Congress warning that the US military's satellites are vulnerable to attack. The military has some 600 satellites that it depends on for photo reconnaissance, targeting, communications, weather forecasting, early warning and intelligence gathering. An attack on these satellites, or on those belonging to US businesses, would be disastrous for the US economy and military, the report says. The report argues that the US must establish a military presence in space to protect its assets from a “Space Pearl Harbor” and asserts that warfare in space is a “virtual certainty.” To counter this vulnerability, the commission recommends that the US develop “superior space capabilities,” including the ability to “negate the hostile use of space against US interests.” It must project power “in, from and through space,” the report says. The president should “have the option to deploy weapons in space to deter threats to and, if necessary, defend against attacks on US interests.” [MSNBC, 4/27/2001; Agence France Presse, 1/29/2004; Toronto Globe and Mail, 5/9/2001; American Foreign Services Association, 4/2001 Sources: Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization, Donald Rumsfeld
          

February 12, 2001-March 30, 2001

       Israeli troops use unknown poison gases on Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank on at least eight different occasions. The gases cause their victims to vomit, go into seizures and spasms, then collapse and lose consciousness. The symptoms last from a few hours to several weeks. Doctors who treat the patients say it is unlike the tear gas which has been used by Israeli forces in the past and suggest it may be nerve gas or at least a highly concentrated concoction of different tear gases. [Al-Ahram, 4/5/2001; Media Monitors, 1/8/2003 Sources: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) Weekly Report, February 15-21, 2001, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) Weekly Report, Feb. 8-14, 2001, Selected interviews in the Khan Younis Refugee Camp, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) Weekly Report, March 1-7, 2001, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) Weekly Report, March 29-April 4, 2001, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) Weekly Report, March 22-29, 2001]
          

April 2001

       Lt. Col. Donald Miles, spokesman for Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, tells MSNBC.com: “Space is the ultimate high ground. The high ground has always provided an advantage, whether it's a hill, a balloon, an observation aircraft or air superiority. You take that to the next level, and we're talking about space superiority.” [MSNBC, 4/27/2001]
People and organizations involved: Donald Miles
          

August 30, 2001

       The United Nations urges the US not to weaponize space. UN Undersecretary General for disarmament affairs Jayantha Dhanapala tells Reuters in an interview that if the US follows through with its stated intentions of dominating space, it would likely lead to a renewed arms race. “It's going to certainly according to the stated intentions of some countries lead to the production of more missiles,” Dhanapala says. “My discussions with the Chinese, discussions I've had in Beijing and elsewhere, indicated this.” [Reuters, 8/30/2001]
People and organizations involved: Jayantha Dhanapala
          

Fall 2001

       It is learned that the United States is developing weapons that undermine and possibly violate international treaties on biological and chemical warfare. For example, the CIA is “building and testing a cluster munition, modeled on a Soviet bioweapon, to spread biological agents.” [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/2003] And in the Pentagon, the Defense Intelligence Agency is planning to genetically engineer a Soviet strain of Bacillus anthracis (the causative agent of anthrax) that is thought to be antibiotic-resistant. [Guardian 10/29/2002; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/2003] Other biological and chemical weapons projects include the development of a rifle-launched gas grenade (see September 10, 2001) as well as non-lethal gases designed to knock people out such as the hallucinogenic BZ gas and fentanyl. [Guardian 10/29/2002; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/2003; Independent, 2/16/03] Fentanyl was the gas used in October 2002 by Russian Special Forces against the Chechen rebels who were holding civilians hostage in a theatre. In that incident, the gas was responsible for killing most of the 120 people who died during the rescue operation. [Independent, 2/16/03; Scotsman, 10/30/2002; Christian Science Monitor 2/14/2003] The US claims that these weapons are for defensive and “law-enforcement” purposes only. For instance, calmative agents might be used by US troops for defensive purposes when confronting hostile crowds, fighting in cave systems, or taking prisoners. [Guardian 10/29/2002; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/2003; Independent, 2/16/03]
 Additional Info 
          

September 10, 2001

       The US Army applies for a patent on a new rifle-launched gas grenade which is purportedly meant for non-lethal crowd control. It is designed to release aerosols “selected from the group consisting of smoke, crowd control agents, biological agents, chemical agents, obscurants, marking agents, dyes and inks, chaffs and flakes.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 6/9/2003; Global Security Newswire, 5/28/2003 Sources: United States Patent 954282] The patent is approved in February (see February 25, 2002) .
          

Shortly after September 11, 2001

       The Pentagon establishes what is later known as the Strategic Support Branch (SSB), or Project Icon, to provide Rumsfeld with tools for “full spectrum of humint [human intelligence] operations” in “emerging target countries such as Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia, Philippines and Georgia.” It is said that Rumsfeld hopes the program will end his “near total dependence on CIA.” According to Assistant Secretary of Defense Thomas O'Connell, a possible scenario for which the Strategic Support Branch might be called to action would be if a “hostile country close to our borders suddenly changes leadership.... We would want to make sure the successor is not hostile.” [Washington Post, 1/23/2005] When SBB's existence is revealed in early 2005, the Pentagon denies that the program was established to sideline the CIA, insisting that its sole purpose is to provide field operational units with intelligence obtained through prisoner interrogations, scouting and foreign spies, and from other units in the field. [CNN, 1/24/2005; Washington Post, 1/25/2005] As an arm of the Defense Intelligence Agency's (DIA) nine-year-old Defense Human Intelligence Service, SSB operates under the Defense Secretary's direct control and consists of small teams of case officers, linguists, interrogators and technical specialists who work alongside special operations forces. [Washington Post, 1/23/2005] However some SBB members are reported to be “out-of-shape men in their fifties and recent college graduates on their first assignments,” according to sources interviewed by the Washington Post. When the SSB's existence is revealed in 2005, its commander is Army Col. George Waldroup, who [Washington Post, 1/23/2005 [b]] reports to Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). SSB's policies are determined by Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone. [CNN, 1/24/2005] Critics say Waldroup lacks the necessary experience to run SSB and note that he was once investigated by Congress when he was a midlevel manager at the INS. [Washington Post, 1/23/2005 [b]] SSB includes two Army squadrons of Delta Force; another Army squadron, code-named Gray Fox; an Air Force human intelligence unit; and the Navy unit known as SEAL Team Six. According to sources interviewed by the Washington Post, the branch is funded using “reprogrammed” funds that do not have explicit congressional authority or appropriation, [Washington Post, 1/23/2005] though this is denied by the Pentagon when the unit's existence is revealed. [CNN, 1/24/2005]
People and organizations involved: Thomas O'Connell, George Waldroup, Delta Force, Strategic Support Branch, or Project Icon, Donald Rumsfeld, Gray Fox, SEAL Team Six
          

September 30, 2001

       The Defense Department completes its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The 71-page report, mostly written before the September 11 attacks, attempts to layout a strategy for transforming the military from a cold war era model to one that can respond quickly and efficiently to a variety of symmetrical and asymmetrical threats from both state and non-state adversaries. According to the document, the US military must maintain its status as the most powerful military in the world in order to ensure global stability. “America's political, diplomatic, and economic leadership contributes directly to global peace, freedom, and prosperity,” it states, asserting that “US military strength is essential to achieving these goals.” As part of the transformation process, the military must focus “more on how an adversary might fight rather than specifically whom the adversary might be or where a war might occur.” The military should drop its focus, the report says, on being able to win simultaneous wars in two separate theatres, in favor of a strategy that allows the US to decisively win one major war—in which it might have to topple a government and occupy the country—while retaining the capability to defend the US against multiple, overlapping threats in other regions. The report puts special emphasis on homeland security and the need to adopt “transformational” technologies in information warfare and intelligence. It also speaks of the need to further militarize space in order to “ensure the freedom of action in space for the United States and its allies and ... [the capability] to deny such freedom of action to adversaries.” [Baltimore Sun, 10/2/2001; Washington Post, 10/5/2001; Space [.com], 10/8/2001 Sources: Quadrennial Defense Review Report, 9/31/2001]
          

January 8, 2002

       Congress receives an edited version of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), a comprehensive review laying “out the direction for American nuclear forces over the next five to ten years.” [Sources: Nuclear Posture Review (Excerpts)] Congress requested the review in September 2000. [Los Angeles Times, 3/9/2002] The classified document, signed by Donald Rumsfeld and now being used by the US Strategic Command to prepare a nuclear war plan, advocates that the US adopt a “New Triad” of weapon types for its strategic arsenal that would include an “offensive strike leg” (nuclear and conventional forces), “active and passive defenses” (anti-missile systems and other defenses) and “a responsive defense infrastructure” (ability to develop and produce nuclear weapons and resume nuclear testing). The new triad would replace the United States' current triad of bombers, long-range land-based missiles and submarine-launched missiles. [Los Angeles Times, 3/9/2002; Los Angeles Times, 3/10/2002; Globe and Mail, 3/12/2002 Sources: Nuclear Posture Review (Excerpts)] The report asserts that the new strategy is necessary in order to assure “allies and friends,” “dissuade competitors,” “deter aggressors” like rogue states and terrorist organizations, and “defeat enemies.” [Globe and Mail, 3/12/2002 Sources: Nuclear Posture Review (Excerpts)] The review offers several possible scenarios where nuclear weapons might be used. For example, the document explains such weapons could be deployed to “pre-empt” the use of weapons of mass destruction against American or allied troops; in retaliation for an attack involving nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons; “in the event of surprising military developments;” or against targets that the US is incapable of destroying by conventional means, such as bunkers located deep underground. The NPR even names countries that could become targets of US nuclear weapons. For example, it says that they could be used against China, North Korea, Russia, Libya, Syria, Iraq, or any Arab country that threatens Israel. [Los Angeles Times, 3/9/2002; Telegraph, 3/10/2002; Los Angeles Times, 3/10/2002] The NPR says that nuclear weapons could be deployed using ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, or other modified conventional weapons. US Special Forces on the ground could be used to pin-point the targets and direct the weapon's deployment. [Telegraph, 3/10/2002; Los Angeles Times, 3/10/2002] Arms control advocates warn that the document shows that the Bush administration does not view its nuclear arsenal only as a weapon of last resort or as a deterrent. They also say that the new policy would encourage other countries to develop their own nuclear programs. [Los Angeles Times, 3/9/2002]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, Donald Rumsfeld  Additional Info 
          

February 2002

       Referring to a 1978 US pledge not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states (see June 12, 1978), US Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton says in an interview with Arms Control Today, “We are just not into theoretical assertions that other administrations have made.” He explains: “We would do whatever is necessary to defend America's innocent civilian population.... The idea that fine theories of deterrence work against everybody ... has just been disproven by September 11.” [The Washington Times, 2/22/2002; Los Angeles Times, 3/10/2003] Just five years earlier, the Clinton administration had reaffirmed its commitment to the pledge (see April 11, 1995).
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton
          

April 2002

       Two leaks of Anthrax spores are detected at an Army biodefense research building at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. [The Washington Post, 4/24/2002]
          

(May 2002)

       The Rand Institute publishes a report reviewing the potential to weaponize space. The authors identify four main classes of space weapons that could be developed in the future. The study does not argue in favor of or against the development of these weapons, nor does it address any other issues related to US space policy. Directed-energy weapons, one type of weapon profiled in the report, could destroy targets in space or on the ground. An example of this type of weapon would be a laser. A major hindrance to the development direct-energy weapons is that they would require millions of watts of power. Kinetic-energy weapons could be used against missile targets in space or high up in the Earth's atmosphere. Its destructive force would come solely from the combination of mass and velocity. Space-based kinetic energy weapons would be launched from space against targets the Earth's surface, such as large ships, tall buildings, and fuel tanks. The last type of weapons reviewed in the study is space-based conventional weapons that would also be used to attack land targets. The weapons could use radio-frequency or high-power-microwave munitions to destroy their targets. [Space [.com], 5/15/2002 Sources: Space Weapons Earth Wars, 9/31/2002]
          

July 2002

       President George Bush issues an executive order transferring control of the covert operation Gray Fox (it now has a new codename) from the Army to Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in Tampa at the insistence of Rumsfeld's office. [New Yorker, 1/24/2005 Sources: unnamed former high-level intelligence official interviewed by Seymour Hersh]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld
          

August 26, 2002

       The Defense Science Board authors a report titled “Special Operations and Joint Forces in Countering Terrorism” recommending an increase of more than $7 billion in the Pentagon's budget. It says the war on terrorism is a “real war” and describes the enemy as “committed, resourceful and globally dispersed ... with strategic reach.” The US will have to wage “a long, at times violent, and borderless war” that “requires new strategies, postures and organization,” it adds. The report includes suggestions to develop the capability to tag key terrorist figures with special chemicals so they can be tracked by laser; a proposal to create a special SWAT team charged with secretly seeking and destroying chemical, biological and nuclear weapons anywhere in the world; and a plan to establish a “red team” known as the Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group, (P2OG), which would conduct secret operations aimed at “stimulating reactions” among terrorists and states suspected of possessing weapons of mass destruction. [UPI, 9/26/02; Los Angeles Times, 10/27/02; Asia Times, 11/5/02 Sources: DSB Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism, 8/16/2002]
Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group, (P2OG) - The unit would provoke terrorist cells into action, perhaps by stealing their money or tricking them with fake communications, in order to expose them. The exposed cells would then be taken care of by “quick-response” teams. The US would use the revelation of such cells as an opportunity to hold “states/sub-state actors accountable” and “signal to harboring states that their sovereignty will be at risk.” The P2OG would require at least $100 million and about 100 people, including specialists in information operations, psychological operations, computer network attack, covert activities, signal intelligence, human intelligence, special operations forces and deception operations. According to the DSB, it should be headed by the Special Operations Executive in the White House's National Security Council. But according to sources interviewed by United Press International (UPI), people in the Defense Department want to see the group under the Pentagon's authority. [UPI, 9/26/02; Los Angeles Times, 10/27/02; Asia Times, 11/5/02 Sources: DSB Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism, 8/16/2002]

Tagging terrorists - Intelligence operatives would penetrate terrorist cells and tag leaders' clothes with chemicals that would make them trackable by a laser. The agents would also collect DNA samples from objects and papers that are handled by the targets. Information about the terrorist's DNA would be kept in a database. The program would cost $1.7 billion over a 5-year period beginning in 2004. [UPI, 9/26/02 Sources: DSB Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism, 8/16/2002]

Special SWAT team - The SWAT Team would consist of special forces soldiers whose specialty would be searching and destroying nuclear, chemical or biological weapons sites anywhere in the world. They would also be trained to offer protection to US soldiers operating nearby and be responsible for “consequence management,” like enacting quarantines. The program would cost about $500 million a year and would be headed by US Special Operations Command. To effectively detect the presence of such weapons, the DSB advocates allocating about $1 billion a year on the research and development of new sensor and “agent defeat” technologies. [UPI, 9/26/02 Sources: DSB Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism, 8/16/2002]

Expanding US Special Forces - The panel recommends increasing the size of US Special Forces by about 2 percent a year. It also proposes that more special forces operations be conducted jointly with conventional forces. Its budget should be increased by “billions,” the report also says. [UPI, 9/26/02 Sources: DSB Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism, 8/16/2002]

Panel to speculate on possible terrorist attack scenarios - A panel of roughly 24 creative, highly respected analysts would be convened to speculate on the nature of future terrorists attacks against the US. The report recommends allocating $20 million a year for the program. [UPI, 9/26/02 Sources: DSB Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism, 8/16/2002]

Intelligence Reserve - A $100 million-a-year reserve program would be established that would put former intelligence retirees on call to assist with intelligence tasks and to participate in counterterrorism exercises when needed. [UPI, 9/26/02; Asia Times, 11/5/02 Sources: DSB Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism, 8/16/2002]

Addition of 500 people who would focus on identifying characteristics of potential adversaries - $800 million would be spent on the addition of over 500 people to existing military and intelligence agencies who would “focus on understanding effects of globalization, radicalism, cultures, religions, economics, etc., to better characterize potential adversaries.” [UPI, 9/26/02 Sources: DSB Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism, 8/16/2002]

Increase budget of Joint Warfare Analysis Center (JWAC) and Joint Forces Command's net assessment center - $200 million more would be allocated to the Joint Warfare Analysis Center and Joint Forces Command's net assessment center. JWAC is a cell of about 500 planners and target analysts who work in Dahlgren, Va. [UPI, 9/26/02 Sources: DSB Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism, 8/16/2002]

Increase surveillance and reconnaissance budgets - The panel envisions infusing $1.6 billion per year into intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance budgets over the next six years. Spending would be focused on tying together unmanned aerial vehicles, manned platforms, space-based sensors and databases. A portion of the funds would also be used to develop “a rich set of new ground sensor capabilities” aimed at the surveillance of small terrorist cells. [UPI, 9/26/02 Sources: DSB Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism, 8/16/2002]

Urban Training Center - A dedicated urban training range would be constructed on the West Coast emphasizing “small unit action, leadership initiative and flexibility.” Relatively low-level soldiers would also be trained on how to determine the logistics of the back-up fire they need while they are in battle. The program would need $300 million a year for the next six years. [UPI, 9/26/02 Sources: DSB Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism, 8/16/2002]

Database providing 3-d view of most of the cities of the world - The report recommends developing a detailed database of most of the cities in the world which would allow soldiers to view a three-dimensional display of the cities including “buildings [doors and windows included],... streets and alleys and underground passages, obstacles like power lines and key infrastructure like water and communications lines,” the UPI reports. [UPI, 9/26/02 Sources: DSB Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism, 8/16/2002]
Critics warn that the changes proposed by the report would allow the military to engage in covert activities currently handled by the CIA. However unlike the CIA, the military would not be subject to Congressional oversight. But William Schneider Jr, the DSB chairman, downplays those concerns. “The CIA executes the plans but they use Department of Defense assets,” Schneider says, adding that his board's recommendations do not advocate any changes to US policies banning assassinations, or requiring presidents to approve US covert operations in advance. He also insists that such changes would not preclude congressional oversight. [Asia Times, 11/5/02]
People and organizations involved: Defense Science Board, William Schneider Jr., Donald Rumsfeld  Additional Info 
          

Late 2002

       Scientists with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and a microbiologist from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York genetically reconstruct the “Spanish Flu” influenza virus that killed 20-40 million people in 1918. [Sunshine Project, 10/9/2003 [a]; Sunshine Project, 10/9/2003 [b]]
People and organizations involved: Sunshine Project  Additional Info 
          

November 2002

       The US National Research Council issues a report that notes: “Chemical non-lethal weapons programs that deliver chemical contaminants to a crowd—other than riot control agents—would likely fail in meeting the Hague requirement for ‘distinction’ as the delivery method is not isolated and/or cannot be controlled well enough to prevent the chemical contaminants from affecting people who are not related to the intended military target. It is unlikely that calmatives in their current form will be lawful under international law, when used in warfighting situations.” [Asia Times, 4/1/2003 Sources: An Assessment of Non-Lethal Weapons Science and Technology, 2003]
People and organizations involved: National Research Council (NRC)
          

December 11, 2002

       US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sends President Bush a memo requesting authority to appoint US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) commander Adm. James O. Ellis Jr. in charge of all of the United States' “strategic” warfare options to combat terrorist states and organizations. By giving STRATCOM warplanners jurisdiction over the full range of the country's warfare options, the president would effectively remove a decades-old firewall between conventional and nuclear weapons which had served to prevent nuclear arms from being anything but a weapon of last resort. According to William Arkin, a columnist for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the request, if approved, would remove “nuclear weapons out of their long-established special category and [lump] them in with all the other military options.” Bush approves the request early the following month (see Early January 2003). [Los Angeles Times, 1/26/2003 Sources: Unnamed senior military officials at US Central Command, Memo obtained by the LA Times]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, James O. Ellis Jr, Donald Rumsfeld
          

December 22, 2002

       A Sunday Herald investigation reveals that Britain is supplying “toxic chemical precursors” (TCPs)—dual-use chemicals that can be used for harmless activities like farming or made into chemical weapons like sarin nerve gas—to Libya, Syria, Sudan, Israel, Iran, Cyprus, India, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda and Yemen. Some of these countries are not signatories to the chemical weapons convention and therefore do not recognize the international ban on chemical warfare. The exports are authorized by Britain's Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) which cannot say for sure how the recipient country will use the TCPs. It only says that they are being sold “in the belief” that they will be used “benignly” in agriculture or as detergents. [Sunday Herald article]
People and organizations involved: Jim Hecker
          

January 2003

       The proposed 2004 budget of the Energy Department's Nuclear Security Administration includes some $15 million for the development of a nuclear bunker-buster bomb called the “Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator” and $6 million for two of the nation's nuclear weapons laboratories, Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore. The labs would “assemble design teams to study advanced nuclear concepts,” the Washington Post reports. [The Washington Post, 2/20/2003; USA Today, 7/6/2003]
          

January 2003

       According to analysis by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), “non-lethal” gases can be lethal. Summarizing a report by the organization, David Isenberg of the Asia Times explains, “[W]hen an incapacitating agent that is exceptionally safe by pharmacological standards (therapeutic index (TI) =1000) is delivered under ideal conditions to a uniformly healthy population, 9 percent of victims would die if the goal were to incapacitate almost everyone (99 percent) in a particular place (often an enclosed space), as in hostage rescue or urban military operations.” [Cited in Asia Times, 4/1/2003 Sources: An Assessment of Non-Lethal Weapons Science and Technology, 2003]
People and organizations involved: National Research Council (NRC)
          

Early January 2003

       The Bush administration prepares a “Theater Nuclear Planning Document” for Iraq which includes the possible use of nuclear weapons. According to multiple sources interviewed by columnist and reporter William Arkin, nuclear weapons are being considered for use in an attack against Iraqi facilities located deep underground or to preempt the use of weapons of mass destruction. The planning is being carried out at “STRATCOM's Omaha headquarters, among small teams in Washington and at Vice President Dick Cheney's ‘undisclosed location’ in Pennsylvania,” the Los Angeles Times reports. [Los Angeles Times, 1/26/2003 Sources: Unnamed senior military officials at US Central Command]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

2003

       A team of scientists, headed by Mark Buller of the University of St. Louis and funded by the US government, develops an extremely deadly form of mousepox. In experiments, the virus proves 100 percent lethal—even for mice that have been given antiviral drugs as well as a vaccine that would normally protect them. Bullers says his work is necessary in order to anticipate what bioterrorists might do. [New Scientist, 10/29/2003; Miami Herald, , 10/31/2003]
People and organizations involved: Mark Buller
          

(2003)

       Former US serviceman Arnold Parks learns that “test” medications he had been given by the US Army in 1965 (see 1965) were in fact VX, sarin, and LSD. In an interview with KFOR in Oklahoma City, he says that according to his military medical files: “[O]n this date they gave me VX, on this date they gave me sarin, on this date they gave me LSD. I was angry. As a matter of fact, I came unglued.... The VX they gave, it was a pill. And I asked the guy after I took that, you know, I asked him what was that? He said, ‘That's the new pill for polio.’ ” After taking the LSD, he experienced serious hallucinations. “Some of these hallucinations got a little bit scary,” he says. “I think I had about four and the only one that was OK was the one that I watched this movie, it was a love story on TV. But there was no TV in the room, so I couldn't have watched that movie on TV. So it was all an acid trip, basically it was a trip but the other three was the killing things.” Arnold Parks believes that the sarin and VX pills he ingested in 1965 caused damage to his arms, legs and heart. But the Veteran's Administration has told him that the government is not liable for any damage unless it can been confirmed that the test pills given to him by the US government are the direct cause of his ailments. Mr. Parks wants compensation for being tricked into taking the harmful agents. “Pay me compensation. I want that and I would like to be treated. But I don't think they can treat this.” [KFOR, 4/25/03]
People and organizations involved: Arnold Parks
          

Early January 2003

       US President George Bush approves Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's December request to give US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) warplanners jurisdiction over the full range of the country's warfare options, including nuclear weapons. Many senior officials are concerned, according to columnist and reporter William Arkin, “that nuclear weapons—locked away in a Pandora's box for more than half a century—are being taken out of that lockbox and put on the shelf with everything else.” [Los Angeles Times, 1/26/2003 Sources: Unnamed senior military officials at US Central Command]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld
          

10:41 am EST January 6, 2003

       US Army personnel at the US Blue Grass Army Depot discover a leaking mustard gas 155-mm artillery shell in one of its storage igloos. The base stores “about 55,000 rockets, land mines and other artillery with about 523 tons of chemical weapons,” the Associated Press reports. [Associated Press, 1/6/2003]
          

February 5, 2003

       US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, inform the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee that they intend to seek permission from George Bush to use calmative agents (see February 12, 2001-March 30, 2001) against Iraqi civilians, in cave systems or to take prisoners. [Independent article; Newsmax, 2/6/2003] Rumsfeld calls the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) a “straightjacket” [The Guardian, 4/8/2003; Baltimore Sun, 3/27/2003] and insists that “there are times when the use of non-lethal riot agents is perfectly appropriate.” [Newsmax, 2/6/2003; The Guardian, 3/12/2003; The Guardian, 4/8/2003; Christian Science Monitor 2/14/2003] Under the provisions of the CWC, military use of chemicals—including non-lethal gases like tear gas—is prohibited. The treaty only permits the use of non-lethal agents for law enforcement purposes. [Christian Science Monitor 2/14/2003; Newsmax, 2/6/2003]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Richard B. Myers, Donald Rumsfeld
          

Spring 2003

       The House of Representatives and the Senate agree to spend $15.5 million to develop a nuclear bunker-buster, or “mini-nuke,” called the “Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator” (see January 2003). They also agree to allocate funds to make changes to the Nevada Test Site (see Early March 2003) in order to shorten the amount of time that would be needed to resume nuclear tests to as little as 18-24 months. [Guardian, 3/7/2003; USA Today, 7/6/2003]
          

Early March 2003

       In its 2004 budget proposal, the US Defense Department asks US Congress to lift the 1992 “Spratt-Furse restriction,”a 10-year ban on developing small nuclear warheads known as “mini-nukes.” Buried deep within the proposal, is a single line statement that calls on Congress to “rescind the prohibition on research and development of low-yield nuclear weapons.” [Guardian, 3/7/2003; USA Today, 7/6/2003]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Defense, US Congress
          

March 7, 2003

       The US Senate confirms the nomination of Stephen A. Cambone as undersecretary of defense for intelligence, a new Pentagon position that was created by the 2002 Defense Authorization Act (see December 2, 2002). [Department of Defense, 4/15/2004] Cambone now oversees “assets that used to belong elsewhere, most notably a secret intelligence organization [code-named ‘Gray Fox’] that specializes in large-scale ‘deep penetration’ missions in foreign countries, especially tapping communications and laying the groundwork for overt military operations.” Asked by the Washington Post about the transfer of Gray Fox a few months later, Cambone responds, “We won't talk about those things.” [Washington Post, 4/20/2003] Cambone is not well-liked among the military and civilian intelligence bureaucrats in the Pentagon, “essentially because he [has] little experience in running intelligence programs,” New Yorker magazine will later report. [The New Yorker, 5/24/2004]
People and organizations involved: Stephen A. Cambone  Additional Info 
          

March 21, 2003 and after

       The United States uses Mark 77 firebombs, an incendiary weapon that has virtually the same effect as napalm (see 1942), in Iraq. The weapon is so similar in fact that troops commonly refer to it as napalm. [Sydney Morning Herald, 3/22/2003; CNN, 3/21/2003] According to US Marine Col. Randolph Alles, “The generals love napalm—it has a big psychological effect.” [San Diego Tribune, 8/5/2003] The use of incendiary weapons on civilian populations is banned by Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (see October 10, 1980-December 2, 1983), which also restricts the use of these weapons against military targets that are located within a concentration of civilians.
          

April 22, 2003

       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: Department of Energy (DOE)
          

Early August 2003

       During the week marking the 48th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 150 people attend a secret conference at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska to discuss plans to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons, including the so-called “mini-nukes” and “bunker busters,” that could be used against rogue states and terrorist organizations. The B-29 planes that dropped the atomic bombs on the two Japanese cities, Enola Gay and Bock's Car, were both built at Offutt. Another topic to be discussed is whether the development of nuclear weapons would require a repeal of the 1992 “Spratt-Furse restriction,” which banned such weapons. Though the exact identities of the attendees are not known, unnamed sources tell the Guardian of London that the meeting is attended by scientists and administrators from the three main nuclear weapons laboratories, Los Alamos, Sandia and Livermore; senior officers from the air force and strategic command; weapons contractors; and civilian defense officials. No representatives from Congress, however, are at the meeting. According to the Guardian, “Requests by Congress to send observers were rejected, and an oversight committee which included academic nuclear experts was disbanded only a few weeks earlier.” One congressional weapons expert tells the London newspaper, “I was specifically told I couldn't come.” [Guardian, 8/7/2003] According to the January meeting that had planned for this event (see January 10, 2003), other issues to be addressed include the possible recommencement of nuclear testing and how to convince the American public the new nuclear weapons are necessary.
People and organizations involved: US Congress  Additional Info 
          

Between late 2004-January 2005

       A Pentagon memo states that agents recruited as part of the Strategic Support Branch (see Shortly after September 11, 2001) “may include ‘notorious figures’ whose links to the US government would be embarrassing if disclosed.” [Washington Post, 1/23/2005]
People and organizations involved: Strategic Support Branch, or Project Icon
          

February 17, 2004

       The US Air Force releases its 2003 Transformation Flight Plan in which it describes an array of new weapons, many offensive, that it intends to develop over the next decade. The planned arsenal would include air-launched missiles designed to destroy low orbiting satellites, ground- and space- based lasers for attacking missiles and satellites, and “hypervelocity rod bundles” (also known as “Rods from God”) that would be launched from space at targets on the ground. [San Francisco Chronicle, 3/15/2004; Center for Defense Information, 2/19/2004; Popular Mechanics, 6/2004; Wired News, 2/20/2004 Sources: US Air Force Transformation Flight Plan]
          

February 25, 2004

       Undersecretary of the Air Force Peter Teets reports to the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee on the Air Force Space Program, summarizing the program's top five priorities for the year. [Government Executive, 7/1/2004 Sources: Congressional Hearing Testimony for the Undersecretary of the Air Force. 2/25/2004]
Achieving mission success in operations and acquisition - Teets emphasizes the importance that the space program's satellites have played in achieving “success” with regard to intelligence, surveillance and missile guidance in the Iraq and Afghanistan theatres. He stresses that the program will continue to need ample funds so it can continue its work unimpeded. “To maintain our asymmetric advantages in space, we must continue to provide our warfighters with the most capable and reliable systems possible,” he says. “Mission Success should be the primary driver of a program, not cost and schedule.” [Sources: Congressional Hearing Testimony for the Undersecretary of the Air Force. 2/25/2004]

Developing and maintaining a team of space professionals - Teets tells the committee that the Defense Department needs to maintain a highly skilled cadre of “space professionals” who “must be able to develop new technologies, systems, training methods, concepts of operations and organizations that will continue to sustain the US as a world leader in space.” [Sources: Congressional Hearing Testimony for the Undersecretary of the Air Force. 2/25/2004]

Integrating space capabilities for national intelligence and warfighting - The undersecretary explains the importance of integrating the military's new and existing capabilities into a seamless and interconnected system. This will greatly enhance the military's surveillance, intelligence collection, and warfighting capabilities, he says. [The New York Times, 11/13/2004; Government Executive, 7/1/2004 Sources: Congressional Hearing Testimony for the Undersecretary of the Air Force. 2/25/2004]

Produce innovative solutions for the most challenging national security problems - Teets explains what new technologies the space program is developing and applying in order to achieve “transparency.” “[W]e want the ability to see everything and know everything, while simultaneously denying our adversaries both the ability to do the same, and the knowledge that such capabilities are being used against them.” He surveys a number of projects that are being developed by the space program. GPS III satellites, he says, will have “high-powered, anti-jam military-code, along with other accuracy, reliability, and data integrity improvements.” The Transformational Communications Satellite (TSAT) System, to be implemented in 2012, will enable high speed transmission of data over the Pentagon's Global Information Grid (GIG).“Our goal is to create an ‘internet in the sky’—making it possible for US Marines in a Humvee, in a faraway land, in the middle of a rainstorm, to open up their laptops, request imagery, and get it downloaded within seconds. TSAT is an enabler of horizontal integration—allowing our fighting forces to have near-real-time intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance at their fingertips. TSAT will provide an unprecedented connectivity with Internet-like capability that extends the Global Information Grid to deployed and mobile users worldwide, and will deliver an order of magnitude increase in capacity.” Space Based Radar (SBR) will enhance target tracking capability and provide “day/night, all weather, worldwide, multi-theater surveillance on-demand.” [The New York Times, 11/13/2004; Government Executive, 7/1/2004 Sources: Congressional Hearing Testimony for the Undersecretary of the Air Force. 2/25/2004]

Ensuring freedom of action in space - Teets describes the space program's efforts to “ensure [that] the United States, its allies, and coalition partners will be able to make use of space, while denying that use of space to adversaries.” These efforts, he says, fall into three categories: Space Situational Awareness (SSA), Defensive Counter Space (DCS), and Offensive Counter Space (OCS). SSA includes “traditional space surveillance, detailed reconnaissance of specific space assets, collection and processing of space intelligence data, and analysis of the space environment.” The purpose of DCS is to provide the US with the “capability to identify and locate attacks on US space systems.” Finally, OCS “is intended to develop systems to deny adversary use of space and assure US space superiority.” [The New York Times, 11/13/2004; Government Executive, 7/1/2004 Sources: Congressional Hearing Testimony for the Undersecretary of the Air Force. 2/25/2004]

People and organizations involved: Peter Teets
          

July 2004

       The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports to Congress on the challenges facing the development of the Global Information Grid (GIG). GIG, sometimes referred to as the “war net,” is the military's “Internet in the sky” (see February 25, 2004) that will give soldiers in the field unprecedented access to data, such as images, maps, and other types of actionable intelligence, via a very high-speed satellite link in real-time. In addition to a variety of management and operational challenges, GAO reports that most of the technologies needed to develop GIG are immature and that the Defense Department “is at risk of not delivering required capabilities within budgeted resources.” For example, “two key GIG related programs—JTRS and TSAT—are facing schedule and performance risks, ... largely rooted in attempts to move these programs into product development without sufficient knowledge that their technologies can work as intended.” Additionally, reports GAO, the Pentagon's Future Combat Systems program “is at significant risk, in part because more than 75 percent of its critical technologies were immature at the start and many will not be sufficiently mature until the production decision.” [The New York Times, 11/13/2004 Sources: The Global Information Grid and Challenges Facing Its Implementation, 7/2004]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, General Accounting Office
          

Fall 2004

       At the request of Donald Rumsfeld, President George Bush issues an Executive Order on the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) authorizing the military “to find and finish” terrorist targets, including certain al-Qaeda network members, al-Qaeda senior leadership, and other high-value targets. The order was cleared by the national-security bureaucracy. [New Yorker, 1/24/2005 Sources: unnamed pentagon consultant]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush
          

October 29, 2004

       President Bush signs the 2004 Defense Authorization Act which contains a provision giving the Pentagon authority for US special operations to give cash, equipment and weapons to foreign fighters and groups who are willing to ally themselves with the US on certain military operations. Under the new piece of legislation, US Special Operations Command will have as much as $25 million a year to spend on supporting “foreign forces, irregular forces, groups or individuals.” Commenting on Congress' generous appropriation, retired Army Gen. Wayne Downing tells the Associated Press, “For the kind of stuff they want to do—buy AK-47s, pick-up trucks, stuff like that—this is a lot of money. If they can slip someone $100,000 to buy information or buy support (from foreign individuals or groups), then that would be very useful.” Until now, these types of operations were restricted to the CIA—but only when authorized by a presidential directive. This new provision imposes no such restrictions on the Pentagon's special operations. Some observers have expressed concern that this will lead to problems. They fear that special operations will end up funding and arming unsavory foreign elements that later turn against the US, as has happened on countless occasions during the last half-century. Others say the measure is part of Rumsfeld's strategy to make the defense department more autonomous so its activities will not be subject to the oversight of other agencies. [Associated Press, 10/30/2005]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, George W. Bush, Wayne Downing
          

November 2004

       After the US siege of Fallujah, Iraq, residents of the city tell reporters that US troops used gas and describe another weapon whose effects are identical to that of napalm bombs. “Poisonous gases have been used in Fallujah,” 35-year-old trader from Fallujah Abu Hammad tells reporter Dahl Jamail. “They used everything—tanks, artillery, infantry, poison gas. Fallujah has been bombed to the ground.” Another resident, Abu Sabah, from the Julan area, explains: “They used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud. Then small pieces fall from the air with long tails of smoke behind them.” He says the pieces then explode into large fires that burn the skin even when water is applied. “People suffered so much from these,” he adds. [Inter Press News Service, 11/26/2003] The San Francisco Chronicle reports that some “artillery guns fired white phosphorous rounds that create a screen of fire that cannot be extinguished with water. Insurgents reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorous burns.” Kamal Hadeethi, a physician at a regional hospital, tells the newspaper, “The corpses of the mujahedeen which we received were burned, and some corpses were melted.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 11/10/2004]
          

November 13, 2004

       The New York Times reports on the Pentagon's efforts to develop its own internet, or “war net”, which the Pentagon calls the Global Information Grid (GIG). The GIG would, among other things, allow soldiers to download high-resolution imagery of the places where they are fighting. The “essence of net-centric warfare is [the]... ability to deploy a war-fighting force anywhere, anytime,” says John Garing, strategic planning director at the Defense Information Security Agency, who is quoted in the article. The newspaper reports that “[a]dvocates say networked computers will be the most powerful weapon in the American arsenal” and that “fusing weapons, secret intelligence and soldiers in a global network ... will .... change the military in the way the Internet has changed business and culture.” The article quotes several officials and people in private industry who are involved in GIG. For example, Robert J. Stevens, chief executive of the Lockheed Martin Corporation, says that the DoD's objective is to provide troops in the field with a “a picture of the battle space, a God's-eye view” which he says will give the military “real power.” Linton Wells II, director of the Office of Networks and Information Integration, says that net-centric principles (see August 1999) are becoming “the center of gravity” for war planners and that the “tenets are broadly accepted throughout the Defense Department.” The article also reports that skeptics of the program doubt that the Pentagon will succeed in its project because it will require excessive amounts of bandwidth—enough to download “three feature-length movies a second.” The Times reports that the program has a projected cost of $120 billion—roughly 5 times the total cost, in today's dollars, of the Manhattan project to build the atomic bomb. [The New York Times, 11/13/2004]
People and organizations involved: John Garing, Linton Wells II, Robert J. Stevens
          

Week of November 14, 2004

       President George Bush issues a presidential directive establishing an interagency group to consider whether it “would best serve the nation” to give the Pentagon complete control over the CIA's elite paramilitary units. [New York Times, 11/23/2004; New Yorker, 1/24/2005; Associated Press, 11/22/2004 Sources: unnamed pentagon consultant] The units carry out the government's most sensitive covert operations including “training rebel forces; destabilizing governments and organizations through violence; and directly attacking enemy targets and individuals.” [Associated Press, 11/22/2004] CIA paramilitary activities are conducted under presidential directives called “findings.” [New York Times, 11/23/2004] The panel will consist of representatives from the State and Justice Departments, the Pentagon, and the CIA. Critics of the proposal, including veteran members of special operations branches, note that CIA units operate “under a different set of findings and carry different legal protections than the military, in particular for cases in which they are ordered to conduct the most extreme clandestine operations,” the New York Times reports. Other critics say the move, which is based on a recommendation by the 911 Commission, is part of a Pentagon strategy to wrest control of covert operations from the CIA. Thomas W. O'Connell, the assistant defense secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict, denies this, telling the New York Times, “I have heard it said that there is a conspiracy within the Department of Defense to go and rip off the agency's capabilities, and I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.” [New York Times, 11/23/2004] However, former CIA officers tell investigative reporter Seymour Hersh a few months later that they believe otherwise. They feel the study's conclusion has already been made. “It seems like it's going to happen,” Howard Hart, the former chief of the CIA's Paramilitary Operations Division says. [New Yorker, 1/24/2005 Sources: unnamed pentagon consultant]
People and organizations involved: Howard Hart, George W. Bush
          

December 2004

       Intelligence Brief, a newsletter published by former CIA officers Vince Cannistraro and Philip Giraldi, reports that the White House has given the Pentagon permission “to operate unilaterally in a number of countries where there is a perception of a clear and evident terrorist threat,” including Algeria, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Malaysia, [New Yorker, 1/24/2005] and Tunisia. [New Yorker, 1/24/2005 Sources: unnamed former high-level intelligence official interviewed by Seymour Hersh] The operations' chain of command will include Donald Rumsfeld and two of his deputies, Stephen Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, and Army Lieutenant General William G. (Jerry) Boykin. Under these new arrangements, “US military operatives would be permitted to pose abroad as corrupt foreign businessmen seeking to buy contraband items that could be used in nuclear-weapons systems,” New Yorker magazine reports. “In some cases, according to the Pentagon advisers, local citizens could be recruited and asked to join up with guerrillas or terrorists. This could potentially involve organizing and carrying out combat operations, or even terrorist activities.” Describing how the operations would be conducted, Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker reports: “The new rules will enable the Special Forces community to set up what it calls ‘action teams’ in the target countries overseas which can be used to find and eliminate terrorist organizations. ‘Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador?’ ... [a] former high-level intelligence official asked me.... ‘We founded them and we financed them,’ he said. ‘The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren't going to tell Congress about it.’ A former military officer, who has knowledge of the Pentagon's commando capabilities, said, ‘We're going to be riding with the bad boys.’ ” [New Yorker, 1/24/2005]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Philip Giraldi, Vincent Cannistraro, Donald Rumsfeld, Stephen A. Cambone, William Boykin, US Congress
          

December 2004

       The House approves the intelligence reform bill 336-75 after a two week stand-off instigated by House Speaker Dennis Hastert on behalf of the White House and Pentagon, which publicly professed support for the bill. A compromise was not reached with the Republicans until the intelligence reform bill was altered to reduce the power of the new national intelligence director so that the secretary of defense could maintain his “statutory responsibilities.” [New Yorker, 1/24/2005; CNN, 11/24/2004; CNN, 12/8/2004; Los Angeles Times, 11/21/2004; Washington Post, 1/23/2005] “Rummy's plan was to get a compromise in the bill in which the Pentagon keeps its marbles and the CIA loses theirs,” a former high-level intelligence official tells investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. “Then all the pieces of the puzzle fall in place. He gets authority for covert action that is not attributable, the ability to directly task national-intelligence assets” including US spy satellites. “Rumsfeld will no longer have to refer anything through the government's intelligence wringer,” the former official continues. “The intelligence system was designed to put competing agencies in competition. What's missing will be the dynamic tension that insures everyone's priorities—in the CIA, the DOD, the FBI, and even the Department of Homeland Security—are discussed. The most insidious implication of the new system is that Rumsfeld no longer has to tell people what he's doing so they can ask, ‘?Why are you doing this?’ or ‘?What are your priorities?’ Now he can keep all of the mattress mice out of it.” [New Yorker, 1/24/2005]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Bush administration, Donald Rumsfeld
          

January 2005

       Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone issues a set of new guidelines reinterpreting the Pentagon's reporting requirements to Congress on its covert operations. The new guidelines were drafted by the Pentagon's legal counsel at the insistence of Donald Rumsfeld. The Washington Post reports: “Under Title 10, for example, the Defense Department must report to Congress all ‘deployment orders,’ or formal instructions from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to position US forces for combat. But [the guidelines] ... state that special operations forces may ‘conduct clandestine HUMINT operations . . . before publication’ of a deployment order, rendering notification unnecessary. Pentagon lawyers also define the ‘war on terror’ as ongoing, indefinite and global in scope. That analysis effectively discards the limitation of the defense secretary's war powers to times and places of imminent combat. Under Title 50, all departments of the executive branch are obliged to keep Congress ‘fully and currently informed of all intelligence activities.’ The law exempts ‘traditional . . . military activities’ and their ‘routine support.’ [The set of new guidelines] ... interprets ‘traditional’ and ‘routine’ more expansively than his predecessors.” Assistant Secretary of Defense Thomas O'Connell, who oversees special operations policy, explains to the Washington Post, “Many of the restrictions imposed on the Defense Department were imposed by tradition, by legislation, and by interpretations of various leaders and legal advisors.” He then asserts that over time these mechanisms unnecessarily watered down the Pentagon's authority. “The interpretations take on the force of law and may preclude activities that are legal. In my view, many of the authorities inherent to [the Defense Department] . . . were winnowed away over the years,” he says. In addition to its efforts to evade congressional oversight, the Pentagon also seeks to diminish its dependency on the CIA. According to written guidelines acquired by the Washington Post, the Defense Department will no longer await consent from the agency's headquarters for the human intelligence missions it “coordinates” with the CIA, instead it will work directly with agency officers in the field. The Pentagon will consider a mission “coordinated” after it has given the agency 72 hours. [Washington Post, 1/23/2005; Washington Post, 1/25/2005]
People and organizations involved: Strategic Support Branch, or Project Icon, Donald Rumsfeld, Stephen A. Cambone, Thomas O'Connell, US Congress
          

(Early January 2005)

       Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh interviews a former high-level intelligence official on the topic of the military's increased control over US covert operations, the waning power of the CIA, and the administration's plans to act militarily against Iran. According to the former official, the Defense Department has almost a free reign in the covert activities it oversees. “The Pentagon doesn't feel obligated to report any of this to Congress,” the official says. “They don't even call it ‘covert ops’ —it's too close to the CIA phrase. In their view, it's ‘black reconnaissance.’ They're not even going to tell the cincs [the regional American military commanders-in-chief].” On Iran, the former official is clear about the administration's intent. “This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign,” the former official says. “The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign. We've declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah—we've got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.” He says an invasion is not conditional in any way. “It's not if we're going to do anything against Iran. They're doing it.” The source suggests that the administration will present its intentions to the public much differently than it did in the case of Iraq. “We've got some lessons learned—not militarily, but how we did it politically. We're not going to rely on agency pissants,” explains the former official. “No loose ends, and that's why the CIA is out of there.” [New Yorker, 1/24/2005]
People and organizations involved: US Congress  Additional Info 
          

January 8, 2005

       Newsweek reports that the Pentagon is considering a new approach to dealing with the insurgency in Iraq, which they call the “El Salvador Option.” During the 1980s, the US funded and supported El Salvadorian paramilitary units which were implicated in numerous assassinations and kidnappings including the murder of four American nuns in 1980. Now the Pentagon is debating whether the same tactics should be used in Iraq. “What everyone agrees is that we can't just go on as we are,” one unnamed senior military officer tells Newsweek. “We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defense. And we are losing.” Another military source interviewed by the magazine contends that Iraqis who sympathize with the insurgents need to be targeted. “The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the terrorists,” the source says. “From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation.” One proposal would “send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria,” Newsweek explains. Among the proposal's supporters is Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. [Newsweek, 1/8/2005]
People and organizations involved: Ayad Allawi
          

March 10, 2005

       In a 233-page ruling, District Judge Jack B. Weinstein dismisses a lawsuit against US chemical companies that supplied the military with Agent Orange during the '60s and '70s. The lawsuit was filed by a group of lawyers on behalf of a million or so Vietnamese, seeking compensation for the effects of the toxic defoliant, which was sprayed on at least 3,181 villages during the Vietnam War . Agent Orange has been linked to cancer, diabetes and birth defects among Vietnamese soldiers, civilians and American veterans. Lawyers for Monsanto Co., Dow Chemical Co., Hercules Inc., and more than a dozen other companies argued that they were just following the legal orders of the commander-in-chief. “We've said all along that any issues regarding wartime activities should be resolved by the US and Vietnamese governments,” Scot Wheeler, a spokesman for Dow Chemical, claimed. “We believe that defoliants saved lives by protecting allied forces from enemy ambush and did not create adverse health effects.” Coming to the defense of the chemical companies, the Justice Department filed a brief asserting that a ruling against the firms could cripple the president's powers to direct US armed forces in wartime. In his ruling Judge Weinstein concludes that the plaintiffs did not prove that Agent Orange had caused their illnesses. “The fact that diseases were experienced by some people after spraying does not suffice to provide general or specific causation,” Weinstein writes. “There is no basis for any of the claims of plaintiffs under the domestic law of any nation or state or under any form of international law. The case is dismissed.” [BBC, 3/10/2005; Associated Press, 3/10/2005]
People and organizations involved: Dow Chemical, Hercules, Inc., Monsanto, Jack B. Weinstein
          


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