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September 29, 2007

Stranger Than Strangelove


by Gordon Prather

According to a seemingly authoritative report in the Washington Post, it came to pass that, on or about 2045 hours, August 30th 2007, as the cruise missiles that had been mounted on one pylon of an Air Force B-52 – flown from Minot AFB and parked, unattended, for more than eight hours on a ramp at Barksdale AFB – were being transported to a storage area, an "airman," a member of the transport crew, "noticed something unusual" about the missiles.

It turned out these six AGM-129 cruise missiles were the real thing, armed with the W80-1 "dial-a-yield" (5KT-120KT) nuke warhead!

The Military Times first revealed the discovery of August 30th by a lowly transport crewman on September 5th. And as Barksdale AFB has been widely reported to be the staging base for Air Force operations in the Middle-East, and when word got out that the Israelis had staged on September 6th some sort of attack on a facility on the far side of Syria that was alleged by Bonkers Bolton to be some sort of Syrian-North Korean processing plant for nuclear materials destined for Iran, conspiracy theories blossomed.

Can it be that we have just witnessed Red Alert – the serious book on which the farcical movie Dr. Strangelove was based -- in reverse?

In the book-movie a paranoid Air Force General – believing himself near death – decides to leave the world a better place by ordering his nuke-armed B-52 bombers who are approaching the point where they would ordinarily turn back, to go ahead and bomb their assigned targets. The White House frantically tries to stop them, even ordering Air Force fighters to intercept the bonkers general’s bombers and shoot them down.

Can it be that a lowly "airman" has thwarted one or more paranoids in the White House?

Welcome to the world of Wayne Madsen Reports;

"Yesterday, the Washington Post attempted to explain away the fact that America's nuclear command and control system broke down in an unprecedented manner by reporting that it was the result of "security failures at multiple levels."

"WMR has learned that a U.S. attack on Iran using nuclear and conventional weapons was scheduled to coincide with Israel's September 6 air attack on a reputed Syrian nuclear facility in Dayr az-Zwar, near the village of Tal Abyad, in northern Syria, near the Turkish border.

"Israel's attack, code named OPERATION ORCHARD, was to provide a reason for the U.S. to strike Iran.

"WMR has learned from military sources on both sides of the Atlantic that there was a definite connection between Israel's OPERATION ORCHARD and BENT SPEAR involving the B-52 that flew the six nuclear-armed cruise missiles from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale."

Wow!

Now, the Post authoritatively reports that the B-52 was not "certified" to carry nuclear weapons.

If true, that’s important.

According to the Post, the 21-foot missiles – even when in storage – were already mounted on pylons, six apiece in clusters of three, "for quick mounting to the wings of a B-52."

That presumably would mean that this particular non-certified B-52 was not capable of being mated – electrically and mechanically – to the presumably unique pylon for carrying AGM-129s, much less capable of arming, targeting and launching the "dial-a-yield" nuke-armed AGM-129.

According to the Post, a year ago SecDef Rumsfeld had ordered all 400 nuke-armed AGM-129s to be retired and as of August more than 200 already had been. The by-then routine procedure called for the nuke warhead to be removed in the Minot Special Weapons Storage facility and replaced with a dummy warhead of the same size and weight.

But, according to the Post, the loading of the B-52 at Minot took eight hours because of unusual trouble attaching the pylon on the right side of the plane -- the one with the dummy warheads.

Unusual trouble attaching the pylon on which the six missiles containing dummy warheads were mounted?

No trouble at all attaching the pylon – on which the six missiles containing "dial-a-yield" nukes were mounted – to a B-52 that was not certified (or equipped) to carry, arm and launch AGM-129s?

Doesn’t that seem strange to you?

Wouldn’t that have seemed very strange to them?

But, getting back to Wayne’s World.

"There is also a connection between these two events and the Pentagon's highly-classified PROJECT CHECKMATE, a compartmented U.S. Air Force program that has been working on an attack plan for Iran since June 2007, around the same time that Cheney was working on the joint Israeli-U.S. attack scenario on Iran."

Eric Margolis, a military analyst for the Canadian Sun National Media, was recently invited to the Pentagon to "brief" Project Checkmate weenies on "strategic developments" in his areas of expertise, the Middle East and South Asia.

"I asked when the Bush administration's widely expected air war against Iran would begin. This was not a subject my hosts cared to discuss. Smiles vanished.

"Dr. Lani Kass, Checkmate's formidable senior civilian official, a former Israeli military officer who had somehow morphed into a senior Pentagon advisor, dismissed my question, insisting no decision to attack Iran had been made. She called a possible air war "unlikely."

"But I was ready to bet plans to blitz Iran were being drawn up in an adjoining office.

"One could feel a buzz of excitement among Checkmate's hard-eyed officers who wore combat flight suits and tensed up every time I mentioned Iran.

"Pentagon sources say the air force has selected 3,000-4,000 targets in Iran, and that some U.S. and British special forces are already operating there.

"However, Washington sources also report strong opposition to war against Iran among the Pentagon's brass, and high-ranking officials in the CIA, Treasury, and state department. They view war with Iran as unpredictable, unwise and dangerous at a time when U.S. ground and air forces are stretched to breaking point in Iraq and Afghanistan."

So, Margolis also reports strong opposition to "checkmating" Iran from 20,000 feet among "Pentagon‘s brass and high-ranking officials in the CIA."

Well, what do they know?

"We can defeat Iran," insisted Dr. Kass, "but are Americans willing to pay the price?"

It’s nice of her to ask.


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Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.

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