U.S. intelligence chief says Russian spies at “Cold War levels”
WASHINGTON, June 7 (RIA Novosti) – The United States national counterintelligence chief said the number of Russian agents operating in the country had reached “Cold War levels,” but added that this was normal and would not affect bilateral relations.
Joel Brenner said in a radio interview, “They are sending over an increasing and troubling number of intelligence officers into the United States,” adding that Russia, China, Iran, Cuba were the most persistent and aggressive intelligence threats to the U.S.
Former head of FBI counterintelligence David Szady backed up Brenner’s claims adding that Russian agents operated at the UN and embassies, and also arrived in the U.S. under the cover of students or businessmen.
Dmitry Simes, a political scientist with the Nixon Centre, believes the situation is having a negative effect on U.S.-Russia intelligence cooperation, citing a high-ranking intelligence source who said the U.S. was pretending it shared intelligence information with Russia, and Moscow pretended it used it in its work.
But Brenner disagreed with Simes stating there were lots of areas where Russia and the U.S. continued to work effectively, including intelligence.
The Russian side was not immediately available for comment.
Yes, Iraqi WMD.
There is increasing evidence that Saddam had the weapons, after all, but successfully transferred the arms to Syria before and during the American invasion.
And the Bush administration, according to an ex-Pentagon special investigator, is too embarrassed to admit what happened … while the Democrats have no reason or incentive to confirm the administration’s original justification for the war.
Barack Obama continues to demonstrate that he is just not ready for prime time.
What does the following statement mean?
“There have been times when there’s no doubt that Palestinians have been placed in situations that we wouldn’t want our own families to be placed in.”
Can’t the man give a straight answer? “Placed in situations”? By whom?
How about this platitudinous aphorism?:
“Faith can say forgive someone who has treated us unjustly,” he said.
That is not a tenet of belief prominently espoused by Islamic terrorists.
He also says:
“I believe the Israelis want peace and they want security,” he said. “They’ve got bombs flying into their territories right now,” said Obama. “And we would expect them to act appropriately in defending themselves.”
“Territories”? Does that not imply that Sderot is in a territory and not Israel proper? Is he proposing to redraw Israel’s borders and give land to the Palestinians? Or is this just an amateur blundering along unaware of the important subtleties of language in international diplomacy?
Later this year, China will overtake the United States as the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG). At that time, some of the pressure to accept egregious UN-based Kyoto-style protocols will shift eastward from Washington to Beijing.
It is that impending inversion which distinguishes this week’s G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, as the EU alarmists’ last-gasp effort to impose their flawed and failing cap-and-trade policies on America, and ultimately, the entire world.
With Kyoto set to expire in 5 years, and the world’s premier GHG emitters either exempt from or outright refusing its misguided constraints, the outlook for the accord’s renewal is unquestionably bleak. Nonetheless, activists on both sides of the pond believe there’s hope in a kindred successor, particularly in light of what they perceive as President Bush’s recent capitulation to their doomsday nonsense.
But they are quite mistaken in both their belief and perception.
For openers, many of the poorer, “developing” countries that originally signed-on to Kyoto did so primarily based upon promised immunity from its bite. But as the unfounded hysteria has crescendoed, so have the frenzied demands.
Now, in a desperate move to finally ensnare the prized U.S before it loses its dubious GHG leadership, all exemption deals have been cleared from the table. The plan was obviously to force America’s hand by removing its main reason for rejecting Kyoto I in 1997 – The exclusion of China and India.
The plan is all but assured to backfire.
Dinner at G8
At this year’s 3-day gathering (expected to itself create 30,000 tons of GHG), German Chancellor Angela Merkel hopes to broker the framework for an agreement among all nations to reduce GHG emissions (GHGE) 50% by 2050. Alas, not satisfied with one unattainable and market-unfriendly goal, the summit hostess wishes to further establish a warming cap of 2 degrees Celsius worldwide for the 21st century.
This is easily the silliest proposed “solution” to the yet-to-be-proven “problem” to date. Why not also remove highway speed limits and replace them with accident limits? Sound crazy? Not really – at least a scientifically proven relationship between highway speed and accidents has been established.
Attempting to bridle the highly theoretical secondary results of GHGE reduction rather than the primary emissions themselves violates 2 basic rules:
And, as a simple rule of etiquette, a gracious hostess does not impress her dinner guests by serving them an experimental goulash of previously failed recipes.
Unlike Alarmists, the figures don’t lie
As it happens, while non-compliant United States GHGE has been more or less flat over the past 7 years, the cap-and-traders in the EU have actually seen an increase over the same period. In fact, last year, the U.S booked a 1.3 percent decrease in CO2 emissions while the economy grew 3.3 percent — marking the first such decrease since 1990 during a thriving economy. Meanwhile, the capping and trading EU posted a dismal 1.5% GHGE increase during an estimated 2.3% economic growth in 2006.
Furthermore, ongoing investigations have uncovered little more than fraud flowing through existing EU carbon markets. A recent inquiry by the Financial Times found that:
“Companies and individuals rushing to go green have been spending millions on ‘carbon credit’ projects that yield few if any environmental benefits.”
The same article also reported:
So those dirty, selfish, Americans managed to increase their GDP while decreasing carbon emissions through sheer Yankee ingenuity while the clean, forthright EU increased carbon emissions with smaller growth based upon a corrupt and arbitrary system it wishes to propagate throughout the planet.
The Asia of Reason
Fortunately, this transparent attempt to place control of world markets into the eager hands of the U.N is unlikely to succeed.
Consider that China and India, both of whom will continue to build coal-fired plants well into any foreseeable future, have steadfastly refused to accept even relatively attainable CO2 caps. Now add Merkel’s wacky temperature limits to the mix and the fact that China’s central economic planning chief, Ma Kai, recently commented:
“I’m afraid (that the benefit of a two-degree threshold) still lacks a lot of scientific evidence and dependable and feasible research.”
Adding to the unlikelihood of Chinese compliance is Ma’s recent defense of his country’s extremely low per-capita emissions. He has also suggested that “importing countries” share responsibility for Chinese factory GHGE, and chides the disparate burdens solid caps place upon poorer nations:
“The consequences of restricting the development of developing nations will be much more serious than the consequences of global warming.”
Welcome, mysterious East, to the more mysterious world of hysterical junk-science.
Meanwhile, India’s environment ministry blames industrialized nations for the problem, and accepts responsibility for a mere 4% of global emissions. New Delhi appears to be dabbling in a certain junk-science of its own, as 4% is a year 2000 figure. In fact, India is currently thought to be right on China’s heels in the GHGE derby.
Be that as it may, the country has warned it would not submit to any commitments to cut GHG. To wit, the ministry made clear (somewhat) its position in a June 6th statement:
“There have been attempts to draw large developing countries such as India and China into taking greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments which is not as per the Kyoto Protocol.”
Needless to say, for these 2 rapidly developing economies, cap-and-trade remains a non-starter. However, each has expressed a sincere interest in pushing “for greater collaboration on clean technologies.”
There’s No Exception to the Rule
With just that in mind, China and India have joined the United States and 3 other nations, together representing “about half of the world’s economy, population and energy use” to form The Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. Rather than imposing unworkable energy cuts, the group’s strategy is to:
“Create a voluntary, non-legally binding framework for international cooperation to facilitate the development, diffusion, deployment, and transfer of existing, emerging and longer term cost- effective, cleaner, more efficient technologies and practices among the Partners through concrete and substantial cooperation so as to achieve practical results.”
On June 1st, President Bush Announced U.S. Support For An Effort To Develop A New Post-2012 Framework On Climate Change By The End Of 2008. The proposal:
“recognizes that it is essential that a new framework include both major developed and developing economies that generate the majority of greenhouse gas emissions and consume the most energy, and that climate change must be addressed in a way that enhances energy security and promotes economic growth.” [emphasis added]
Strategically proclaimed just days short of Heiligendamm, the plan purports to “fold into the U.N. framework,” and – not coincidentally — includes similar “clean coal technology, solar and wind energy, and clean, safe nuclear power” strategies to those of the APPCDC.
Bush actually played this rather effectively. By offering a rational, technology based, long-term alternative to the overreaction of yet another U.N Kyoto clone, he can no longer be accused of “ignoring” the problem – either abroad or here at home. The renewable aspect will likely prove thin, but no matter – overall the plan solidifies America’s control of its financial systems while rescuing it from meaningless and debilitating restraints.
Additionally, as the countries producing over half of the world’s GHG are forming a partnership whose approach will prove infinitely more attractive to both established and emerging markets – it successfully kills all hope of anything other than an all-EU Kyoto II.
Of course, such a limited alliance could literally return its economies to the bronze-age and still have zero impact on overall GHGE. C’est la vie.
And so, as yet another non-productive G8 meeting inevitably fades into the cooling darkness, we bid a not-so-fond farewell to Kyoto and anything emitting even a vaguely similar Socialist stench.
Perhaps next time out, alarmists will remember rule number 2. Are you listening, Speaker Pelosi?
Most of the public debate over the immigration bill has taken place in a fantasy world where certain fairly immutable truths are blithely ignored. The vast gulf between the political elites and the bulk of the electorate is matched by the vast gulf between the announced intentions of “comprehensive immigration reform” and the inevitable results of their proposals.
Common sense is being strikingly disregarded. And most of the politically correct media are loath to puncture the fantasies of the reformistas. The result is that a majority of the discussion is pointless, and unusually few people have been either informed or persuaded by all the public discourse. The scandalous immigration crisis has been joined by the scandalous immigration bill debate.
Leave aside the shameful accusations and implications of racism by critics of the bill heard from the highest levels of our government.
Here are six basic hard truths that must be part of any realistic attempt to improve matters.
1. Any plan that can’t be enforced is no improvement.
The sluggishness and limitations of the federal bureaucracy are well-known. Where are the people going to come from to run the background checks of any illegals who are given any sort of path toward legitimate residence? If the universe of “clients” is somewhere between 12 and 20 million, think of the size of the organization necessary to process them. The services of the existing immigration bureaucracy make getting a driver’s license seem like a day at the beach (ask anyone who has tried to get legal residency), so don’t even think about piling on additional massive doses of money, people, rules, regulations, and all the other “inputs” government bureaucracies use to measure their importance and flex their muscles.
If we go with a brand new bureaucracy, we all know what is going to happen. The government unions see a lot of new dues paying members. Ambitious bureaucrats see vast empires to be built, volumes and volumes of regulations to be written and interpreted; and of course lawyers see many years of litigation, test cases and judicial activism ahead. This will all cost years of effort and tens of billions of dollars at least. Inspecting airline passengers is a piece of cake compared to vetting illegal aliens, and that effort has been full of waste, inefficiency and occasional frightening incompetence.
2. Poor and unskilled immigrants are expensive for the rest of society.
America may not have quite as generous a welfare state as Scandinavia and a few other European countries, but poor people, including unskilled immigrants, are as a group large net consumers of government and charitable services. Robert Rector’s Heritage Foundation study put the net cost for just ten million illegal immigrants at $2.6 trillion, and more if the number is 12 million or higher. Proposals for “ineligibility” for “welfare” ignore the deceptively-titled “Refundable Earned Income Tax Credit” that sends a check from the government to low income workers (citizen or not), instead of them sending in a tax payment. Health care expenditures, schooling, food stamps, and a host of other government services are used by low income workers but don’t qualify as welfare. Compared to the incremental sales, property and Social Security taxes received, the costs of these services must be much higher.
3. A large supply of unskilled immigrant labor benefits some groups and hurts others.
Some big companies (packing houses and hotels, most visibly) benefit from lower wages. But hundreds of thousands of small businesses depend on this labor pool for their survival. Without cheap immigrant labor there would be far fewer restaurants and other service businesses. It is no exaggeration to say that the affluent urbanites among us, a mostly liberal group, have their lifestyles underwritten by taxpayers and the rest of society. Many second income spouses would have a hard time coping without nannies, take-out food, gardeners, restaurants, and other personal services available so cheaply. Before the first immigration “reform”, middle class people rarely ate out, and didn’t have housekeepers, gardeners or nannies.
The biggest losers are other potential employees who compete at the low skill and low experience end of the labor market. Teenagers almost never mow lawns any more, a summer source of pocket money that was a staple for males of my generation, and which was my very first experience with paid labor, along with shoveling snow in the Minensota winters.
The jobs that remain for teenagers require somewhat more education and skills than gardening and other manual labor, especially language skills. This leaves out some of the more poorly educated and or inexperienced minority males in particular. The first rung of the employment ladder is hard for them to find a foothold on. Once employed, their wages are driven down by the inflated supply of willing labor from poor countries, whose wage expectations are much lower than their own.
4. There is nothing wrong in insisting that immigrants serve American interests, not vice versa.
Democrats and some Republicans mouth platitudes about the sacredness of family reunification, ignoring the basic point that families can remain unified by staying at home or returning there, if unification is so important to them. Americans have no obligation to bear a burden so that the families of those who violated our laws can live together here.
Some immigrants make an immediate contribution to economic and social welfare. But there is no reason why family reunification should be used as an excuse to import even more people who will place a net burden on our taxes and charity.
Our next door neighbor Canada has successfully used a point system to select a substantial minority of its immigrants, along with those admitted for family reunification and as refugees. Where are all the media stories on the Canadian success in creating jobs and wealth by favoring those who bring money and skills? Just go to Toronto and Vancouver, two towns with great restaurants and hotels, to see all the companies started by immigrants who in effect bought their way in with investments. It is most strange that star reporters haven’t been flocking there to research this aspect of the Canadian approach.
Any immigration program that gave priority to those who make an immediate net contribution to our economy, taxes and welfare would face far less opposition.
5. Citizenship is precious, and carries with it serious obligations.
There is absolutely no reason at all to grant a pathway to citizenship to those who failed to follow the law entering the United States. Humanitarian and economic considerations may weigh in favor of some form of residency or work permit for this group, but it is an intolerable denigration of the dignity of citizenship to pass it out as lagniappe for just showing up without papers. Those who violate the law have no legitimate claim to the reward of citizenship unless they bring some great benefit to the commonweal, such as military service.
Those who bemoan the prospect of a “second class” group of citizenship-ineligible residents fail to reckon with the reality that it was bad behavior which created the class and made it inferior.
6. Border security is well within our grasp, and is a precondition for the success of any other immigration changes.
Vasko Kohlmayer demonstrated two days ago that even the most absurdly inflated estimates for the cost of building a border fence are well within our means, in this American Thinker article. Loyal reader Tom Caneris suggested that an intriguing comparison can be made with the scale of the federal project to construct tall noise barrier walls along our freeways.
Take a look at these freeway noise barriers and see that there is more than a passing resemblance to various wall designs for the border barrier. Of course a border fence would have to be more robust, and it would not have the advantage of a nice highway to bring workers and material to the worksite. But it is not be that many orders of magnitude bigger a project than the highway noise barrier system.
Has the building of freeway noise barriers involved any national sacrifice? Have you ever fretted about how much money it has cost? Through the end of 2004, forty-five State DOTs and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have constructed over 2,205 linear miles of barriers at a cost of over $2.7 billion ($3.4 billion in 2004 dollars), more than the length of the US-Mexico Border (1,951 miles).
7. Successful reform will come a step at a time, not all at once in a comprehensive package.
The worst argument in favor of a “comprehensive reform” effort is still and always will be that opponents are racists. But the second worst argument is that a piecemeal approach is wrong. Thanks to Senator Kennedy’s earlier handiwork, we know how easy it is for the kind-hearted gesture of amnesty to create an even bigger crisis down the road. The public is rightly skeptical of grand promises.
Until our political class is collectively willing to face these basic common sense truths, any attempt at a comprehensive solution is far more likely to make matters worse.
Instead we should start with a priority national project to build a wall. An expression of national will like that alone would send a signal of seriousness that has so far been lacking. Once that barrier is working we can look at the realistic probable outcomes of other changes.
Thomas Lifson is editor and publisher of American Thinker.