Here's one more of Alex Cockburn's important articles on Michael Gordon's reprehensible chanelling of Bush-Cheney and their wish to pursue their permanent war agenda by attacking Iran.
It's an interesting question, soon I'm afraid to be academic, to figure out what's motivating the Times, and Sulzberger and Gordon. Are they stupid enough to think that attacking Iran will be good for them, for Iraq? for Zionism, for Israel, for the US? For the world? I don't think stupid is the word, although smart people often do stupid things as they are doing now.
I don't think they're exactly scared of the CIA and Bush. They're just so used to taking these kinds of orders; they're used to being close to the administration.
I'm just wondering if this time they've gone a little too far. We were confused when they ran the Judy Miller/MIchael Gordon Iraq war stories. But this time we're not confused. Their lies and distortions and their "sources" are now too blatant to miss or ignore.
The next time you see Michael Gordon's byline, you'll say: which lie is he going to peddle now? Without reading the headline or the story, you'll know whose.
February 17 / 18, 2007
Make Your Own EFP--No Need to Dial Iran for Tech Support!
Sold to Mr. Gordon, Another Bridge!
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN
It requires no special skill to sell Michael Gordon, chief military correspondent of the New York Times, the Brooklyn Bridge. All you have to do is whisper down the phone to him that the transaction will occur at a background "briefing" by anonymous intelligence sources and a "senior official" or two.
One would think that it would require astonishing rhetorical ingenuity on the part of the salesteam (in fact operating out of the U.S. Defense Department) to keep on selling Gordon the Brooklyn Bridge, long after the deed from the first sale has been pronounced an obvious fraud. But it's not so strange, really. Your true sucker is a vain fellow, who can never accept the evidence of his own gullibility and who therefore regards each successive purchase of the Brooklyn Bridge as a sound investment, certain to re- establish him in the public eye as a man with a keen eye for the good deal. He thus becomes psychologically and professionally a captive of the bridge salesmen.
On September 8, 2002 the New York Times editors published Gordon and Judith Miller's fictions concerning aluminum tubes in Iraq, supposedly part of Saddam's nuclear program. Much too late this bout of bridge-buying on the part of the Times duo prompted widespread derision and finally the embarrassed Times editor banned Miller from bridge-buying altogether.
No such restraints were placed on Gordon. After lying low while Miller took the heat, he was back late last year, promoting the famous "surge", sold him by General Petraeus and others. Then, Saturday, February 10, the Times excitedly announced another major purchase.
The story was from the usual salesfolk, unnamed "American officials." Their mission: get Gordon to boost Bush's anti-Iran propaganda drive by promoting the story that Iran is supplying Iraqi Shi'a with the new "explosively formed penetrator," the war's "most lethal weapon" now killing American boys in their Humvees, Bradleys and even Abrams tanks.
"To make the weapon," Gordon confided to Times readers, "a metal cylinder is filled with powerful explosives. A metal concave disk manufactured on a special press is fixed to the firing endÖ According to American intelligence, Iran has excelled in developing this type of bomb, and has provided similar technology. The manufacture of the key metal components required sophisticated machinery, raw material and expertise that American intelligence agencies do not believe can be found in Iraq."
Now, the people attacking and killing most American troops in Iraq are not Shi'a but Sunni, and are therefore unlikely to have been supplied by Iran. Some 1,190 US troops have been killed in Iraq since the start of the insurgency by roadside bombs, aka IEDs. 170 American soldiers have been killed by EFPs since June 2004, less than 8% of the total killed in action.
Explosively-formed penetrators are a not-so-recent variant on the 1885 Munroe Effect, the original idea behind the shaped charge. (My informant here is Pierre Sprey, a former weapons designer with the A-10 and F-16 planes on his CV.) 2) Conventional shaped charges are a copper (or other metal) funnel inside a cylindrical casing with the open end facing the target and with powder packed behind the narrow end. The powder is ignited behind the funnel and an explosive shock wave collapses the funnel, creating a hot gas blowtorch jet carrying with it a slug of molten metal. Such shaped charges are optimized to go off within a foot or less from the surface of the target--and to burn through thick armor by creating the most focused jet and deepest, smallest hole possible. To get a good effect from a shaped charge, you have to a) propel it with a rocket or cannon projectile so it'll go off right on the surface of the target; or b) bury it as a mine in a road so that it's very close to the belly armor of a vehicle when it goes off.
The EFD variation on this principle substitutes a bowl-like dish of copper for the funnel. This sacrifices the efficiency of the highly focused jet that drills the deepest possible hole in return for a slower, more cohesive slug of molten metal that will hang together even if the charge is detonated 20 to 100 feet from the target. Thus, the EFD warhead or bomb can be placed at or beyond the shoulder of a road (or on top of a concrete barrier or in the window of a house right on the road) aimed at the center of the road. When a vehicle or convoy comes along, it can be fired manually by a remote and concealed insurgent (or triggered automatically by a garage door opener infrared beam); in other words, the EFD can be used like a hidden short range armor piercing gun with little risk to the remote firer. This makes the EFP a tactical alternative to parking a sedan full of explosives by the side of the road and blowing it up when a Bradley or Humvee comes along. Casualties caused by an EFP will be smaller, but it's more portable.
The US Defense Departnment started developing small, highly refined EFD warhead bomblets dropped on parachutes and fired by miniature IR or radar sensors in 1977 as part of the Assault Breaker program. There are both Army and Air Force spinoffs--all enormously and impractically expensive in production-- of this program. The current USAF in-production EFP cluster bomb is called the CBU-97. From 1980 to today, the documented cheating during the testing of this weapon has been egregious, even by USAF testing standards (which are lax indeed). It's certain that the EFD idea is substantially older than 1977.
The first terrorist use of an EFD was in the 1989 assassination of German banker Alfred Herrhausen in his armored limousine, attributed to the Red Army Faction. This was almost certainly a homemade device made by unsophisticated means.
The improvised EFPs used in Iraq don't need to have Iranian-manufactured components. The necessary equipment consists of a copper bowl (a hand beaten one like they sell to tourists all over the Middle East is fine), a 6" to 9" diameter iron or steel sewer pipe or oil pipe (the oil pipe is excellent quality steel), a few pounds of explosive and a fuse. The 380 tons of US RDX explosive that went missing due to lax security would be ultra-high quality stuff for the job. All the insurgents need is one or two chalk talks or a video tape to learn how to make an EFP. That's all it takes to transfer the technology.
The use of EFPs in Iraq is old news indeed. They were first used by insurgents in late 2003 and have been used steadily--in small numbers--since then.
Though the Times itself allowed a follow-up news story and an editorial to express cautionon about Gordon's alarums, his February 10 story gave status to the government's scaremongering about Iran's role in Iraq. So there it is. Another bridge in Gordon's real estate portfolio, as the New York Times puts its editorial shoulder behind Bush's war, as it has done from the start. Times chairman Sulzberger told the grandees assembled in Davos last January, "I really don't know whether we'll be printing the Times in five years." Hasten the day.