Azerbic launches a new category today: Tales from the Crypt. Here's where I remind people -- and media types who may have forgotten -- of relevant stories from the past. To begin, a 2003 Guardian report on U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's involvement with nuclear reactor components being sold to ... drum roll please! ... North Korea.
Mr Rumsfeld was a non-executive director of ABB, a European engineering giant based in Zurich, when it won a $200m (£125m) contract to provide the design and key components for the reactors. The current defence secretary sat on the board from 1990 to 2001, earning $190,000 a year. He left to join the Bush administration.
The reactor deal was part of President Bill Clinton's policy of persuading the North Korean regime to positively engage with the west.
The sale of the nuclear technology was a high-profile contract. ABB's then chief executive, Goran Lindahl, visited North Korea in November 1999 to announce ABB's "wide-ranging, long-term cooperation agreement" with the communist government.
The company also opened an office in the country's capital, Pyongyang, and the deal was signed a year later in 2000. Despite this, Mr Rumsfeld's office said that the de fence secretary did not "recall it being brought before the board at any time".
In a statement to the American magazine Newsweek, his spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said that there "was no vote on this". A spokesman for ABB told the Guardian yesterday that "board members were informed about the project which would deliver systems and equipment for light water reactors".
And how is this relevant?
Which leads me to this bit of even ancienter history.
Donald Rumsfeld chaired the space commission, which released its report on January 11, 2001. Rumsfeld’s staff director was Stephen Cambone, who became the first-ever undersecretary of defense for intelligence in March 2003. Two years previously Rumsfeld had chaired another congressionally mandated commission to assess rogue nation capacity to threaten the U.S. homeland with ballistic missiles. (2) The space commission is often referred to as the second Rumsfeld commission. Like the first commission, the more recent commission echoed the alarmism about national security threats propagated by right-wing groups such as the Center for Security Policy.
The commission concluded that it is “possible to project power through and from space in response to events anywhere in the world.…Having this capability would give the U.S. a much stronger deterrent and, in a conflict, an extraordinary military advantage.” The Rumsfeld space commission argued in Orwellian style that because the United States is without peer among “space-faring” nations, the country is all the more vulnerable to “state and non-state actors hostile to the United States and its interests.” In other words, U.S. enemies would seek to destroy the U.S. economy together with its ability to fight high-tech wars by attacking global-positioning satellites and other “space assets,” which would effectively result in a “Space Pearl Harbor.” (3)
The list of members of the Rumsfeld space commission reads like a Who’s Who of space weapons enthusiasts, military hard-liners, and military-industrial complex insiders.
Amazing what a couple of minutes of Googling can produce in the connect-the-dots department.
Feel free to send your Tales from the Crypt anytime to firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions I use will win minor recognition right here on this blog seen every day by, um, thousands.