Iran might be able to Strike the U.S. with an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile by 2015

read it first at Before It’s News

A new U.S. Defense Department report to congress says that Iran might have the ability to strike the U.S. with nuclear weapons by 2015.

The report, which was submitted to congress on April 19, has an unclassified analysis that outlines near term and long term threats from Iran. The threats include the country’s nuclear ambitions and its desire to expand its influence throughout the Middle East.

“With sufficient foreign assistance,” the report states, “Iran could probably develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States by 2015.” The report also says that “Iran’s nuclear program and its willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy.”

According to information from the Department of Defense:

The written report to Congress cited Iran’s influence in the Middle East — including its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas, in Lebanon and Gaza, respectively — and its reach into Iraq and Afghanistan. Military and defense officials have characterized such behavior as “destabilizing.”

Defense officials have been saying that Iran is one of the top security challenges for the United States. In an April 14 briefing, Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that President Obama’s administration sees the challenges posed by Iran as a top national security concern.

According to an April 20 Global Security Newswire report, Iran’s missile capabilities are of serious concern.

Tehran’s missile capabilities are a concern given suspicions in Washington and other capitals that the Middle Eastern nation hopes to develop nuclear weapons — an assertion long denied in Tehran. The Obama administration has been pursuing new economic restrictions aimed at curbing Iran’s atomic activities (see related GSN story, today).

Tim Hetherington in NYC Forum Dec. 8 at NYU

Register to see Tim Hetherington in NYC on Dec. 8 here

The Epoch Times cordially invites you to attend an evening with Tim Hetherington, an award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker. He will discuss his new book, Long Story Bit By Bit: Liberia Retold, as well as his upcoming documentary about a platoon of U.S. Airborne soldiers in Afghanistan. A book signing and reception will follow the event.

This is the inaugural Ground View forum, the first in a series of intriguing and informative events featuring journalists who have witnessed some of the world’s most important news firsthand.

Hetherington’s upcoming documentary, entitled Restrepo, was just accepted into the Sundance Film Festival.

Register to see Tim Hetherington in NYC on Dec. 8 here

“Obama’s War” — On Frontline Tonight

Not to be missed on tonight’s Frontline–the newest from correspondent Martin Smith and RAINmedia on the war in Afghanistan. “Obama’s War” airs on Frontline on Tuesday, October 13 at 9pm on PBS (check local listings).

According to RAINmedia:

“Three years ago, a small cadre of US army officers huddled at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to re-write the service’s long-neglected counterinsurgency manual. Under the direction of General David Petraeus, the effort brought the battle for “hearts and minds” to the forefront of American strategic thinking. First tested in Iraq, the new approach is now being rolled out in Afghanistan on a grand scale. The stakes are huge for both sides. And the war promises to be longer and harder than most Americans understand. FRONTLINE investigates the fight on the ground and in Washington.”

For a preview of “Obama’s War”, click here.

An American Face from the War in Iraq

by Genevieve Long for Media and Foreign Policy

There are few photos of the Iraq war as poignant and iconic as that of Marine Lance Corporal James Blake Miller. The photo, known as the “Marlboro Marine”, was taken by Los Angeles Times photojournalist Luis Sinco.

The war-weary Marine with a cigarette dangling from his mouth in  the battle of Fallujah in 2004 is more than an American face far from home. At some level, although it was taken nearly five years ago, it embodies the weariness of the American people and their military–set adrift in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, more than ever, they are two conflicts that seem to have no end, no solution, no happy road out.

Sinco’s photograph, and his personal connection with Lance Corporal Miller, gave birth to a series of engaging and at times breathtaking pictures that, when woven together, create a picture of a life after. After war, after killing, after trying to go back and realizing nothing will ever be the same.

A slideshow of Sinco’s photographs of Miller, post-Iraq, can be found here.

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Politicians Don’t Decide What Information Illuminates a Story

by Genevieve Long for the Foreign Policy Association

U.S. President Barack Obama reversed a significant decision this past week. He decided to go back on his promise to release photographs of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan that were taken a few years ago. The popular sentiment among the more conservative-minded might be that Obama is well within his right as Commander-in-Chief to do what he considers in the interest of national security. On the surface this does appear to be a sound argument for the reversed decision.

But dig a little deeper, and the logic that national security and our troops are being protected by thwarting the publication of said photos is actually a hairline crack in the foundation of free speech. And it’s the type of decision that can weaken a democracy.

In 1798, Thomas Jefferson said:

“One of the amendments to the Constitution… expressly declares that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,’ thereby guarding in the same sentence and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press; insomuch that whatever violates either throws down the sanctuary which covers the others.”

The freedom to think, speak, and believe freely is a great source of strength for Americans. But it can also be a great challenge. We are given explicit protection to be free, but no explicit instructions how to use that freedom. Therein lies the genius of the founding fathers’ conclusion in the Declaration of Independence that government must draw it’s “just powers from the consent of the governed”. A consenting citizenry must be an informed citizenry, otherwise it will always be at odds over what exactly it is consenting to.

Photos of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, for this very reason, should be released. The world, not just Americans, learned in the worst way that what goes on overseas in dark prison cells in the name of the United States makes the citizens of the United States linked to those events by association. Abu Grahib. Guantanamo. Black sites in Europe. The world will never know the extent of suffering that has been inflicted, only the imagined possibilities based on pieces of the story.

During a press briefing in Washington on May 13, President Obama’s Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made the basic point in the President’s argument to a fiesty press corps confounded by Obama’s decision.

Gibbs’s response, in part:

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Veteran Journalist Gets a Bird’s Eye View of America’s Best Counterterrorism Force

Newsweek’s Christopher Dickey examines the NYPD’s fight against terrorism in his new book, “Securing the City

By Genevieve Long for the Foreign Policy Association

When the American public thinks of the United States fighting terrorism, the federal government naturally comes to mind. Yet for some in New York City, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the bureaucracy of the CIA, FBI, DHS, DIA and NSA proved too cumbersome to be effective in preventing attacks. Raymond Kelly was one of the people with this opinion, and after being reinstated as New York Police Department Commissioner in 2002, he created an elite force to go inside the world of potential terrorists—in cities throughout around the planet. The result, seven years later, is described in Christopher Dickey’s new book, “Securing the City”.

Dickey, who is Paris Bureau Chief and Middle East Regional Editor for Newsweek, is a veteran journalist, war correspondent, and author of several books. He has also written for a number of magazines, including Foreign Affairs, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and others.

Dickey’s book is already garnering accolades not only for its incisive look a rarely examined section of the NYPD, and for highlighting the dense amount of red tape that stands between the federal government and its ability to effectively fight terrorism.

Commissioner Kelly has focused on recruiting native-speakers of key languages needed to track activity in the world of terrorism—including Arabic, Farsi, and Dari. He has also seen to it that agents are stationed not just throughout New York’s five boroughs, but around the world. The NYPD’s counterterrorism network of about 600 agents is posted in major international cities, and the agents speak the languages and know the streets of the terrorist communities they are watching. Many of them, in a manner reflective of New York City’s general ethnic makeup, are foreign-born.

They know the slang of the back streets of Karachi because they are from the back streets of Karachi,” said Kelly during a recent appearance at the Overseas Press Club in New York for a Q&A with Christopher Dickey. He cooperated closely with Dickey for the book.

In contrast, it would be almost impossible for foreign-born applicants to get a similar position with the federal government because of prohibitive laws.

Dickey’s level of extraordinary access to the NYPD’s counterterrorism force for his book is somewhat of an anomaly. That alone could make the book worth reading. As NYPD Deputy Commissioner recently said, “If we gave brought the media out to see us work, that’s all we would ever do.” According to Browne, Dickey was given special access because of his affiliation with Newsweek and the impending publication of his book.

Dickey will continue his book tour at the Houston Forum on February 23 and at the World Affairs Council in Dallas on February 24.

The View from the Ground in Iraq and Afghanistan

By Genevieve Long for Quill Magazine

When journalists watched American bombers strike Taliban positions in northern Afghanistan weeks after 9/11, Iraq wasn’t part of the story. But the Middle East can be like a kaleidoscope: a slight shift and the whole picture changes.

Seven years later, both Iraq and Afghanistan remain difficult, dangerous places for journalists to work. Iraq is especially deadly.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, from 2003 to 2008, 136 journalists were killed in Iraq; 129 died while not embedded, and most were Iraqi.

Last year, security conditions eased in Iraq, due in part to a U.S. troop “surge,” Sunni Awakening security forces and improvements in the Iraqi army. But things are by no means completely peaceful. In December alone, a suicide bombing in Kirkuk killed 48 and wounded 96; another in Baghdad killed 18 and injured 52.

“It’s not like Switzerland there now. The danger is still very real; what calm there is is still pretty fragile,” said Dexter Filkins, a New York Times foreign correspondent who worked in Iraq from 2003 to 2006.

“It’s not like reporters are walking around there in shorts on the sidewalk, advertising their presence.”

Filkins’ new book, “The Forever War,” paints a vivid and unvarnished picture of the war in Iraq. He notes that although the life of a journalist there is not easy, there was never a time when he relied solely on Iraqi journalists, embedding or second-hand information to get stories. In fact, Filkins refutes criticisms that journalists there are unwilling or unable to get out and report.

“It’s much easier to attack the messenger and say that ‘You have the wrong impression because you’ve been misled by these people in the press, and here’s the real truth,’” Filkins said. “The [accusation that] journalists sit around in hotel rooms and don’t leave is usually followed by some over-arching political point about the situation.”

Filkins said that even at the height of tensions and violence in 2006, he would find ways to report. Backed by the well-funded and heavily committed New York Times, he could use an armored car, a regular car, a chase car, no chase car or guards. He even went some places at night, depending on the circumstances.

But some journalists must rely heavily on embedding, a practice sometimes criticized for putting objectivity at risk.

“For about two or three years now, this has almost been like a challenge thrown at western journalists — what would they have them do, be murdered?” said Jon Lee Anderson, a staff writer for

The New Yorker who has reported on

Iraq and Afghanistan extensively but personally prefers not to embed. “I’ve covered over a dozen conflicts, and I’ve never been in such a murderous environment [as Iraq].”

Anderson said journalists should not be faulted for trying to preserve their lives, especially when they have continued to report such an unpopular story.

“There are very few westerners reporting on Iraq,” he said. “It’s less a reflection of journalists or media themselves than of popular interest.”

Anderson added that it’s a challenge for Americans to fasten their attention on so many different headline-grabbing crises at once.

“In the minds of most people, Iraq has moved away from near apocalypse and back from the brink, and that has been reflected by a sigh and move away from it by the media,” he said, predicting that news coverage will shift back toward Afghanistan.

Many reporters who have covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have found both countries to present unique challenges, especially for freelance journalists.

“It’s changed so much since the early days of the occupation when you could still move around by yourself,” said Scott Wallace, a freelance reporter and photographer. In mid-2003, Wallace followed Iraqi police special agents and their U.S. advisers on missions to capture kidnappers and fedayeen commanders on the streets of Baghdad.

“You cannot cover that story unless you’re with a news organization that has made that commitment to security, personnel, blast walls,” Wallace said. “Even if you are a member of that very reduced number of people, you are largely confined to the U.S. military.”

In some cases, even access to a high-profile figure or a military unit can come down to news organization or a personal connection. Wallace experienced both such cases.

On assignment in 2003 for a program that airs on Fox television, he found that getting close to former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, in Baghdad training the new Iraqi police force, rested on his affiliation. He also gained “extraordinary access” to a mechanized infantry company through a hometown connection with the company’s first sergeant.

Wallace said the working conditions in any war zone can challenge a journalist’s motivation.

“That takes conviction in your mission, that what we’re doing is of the utmost importance and we’re there to shed light on the story,” he said.

Robert Nickelsberg, a contributing photojournalist with TIME magazine for 25 years who syndicates his photographs

with Getty Images, has been documenting Islamic fundamentalism’s rise in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India’s Kashmir. For Nickelsberg, the challenges facing journalists in Iraq make it near-impossible to do the job.

“I do not think it’s a workable environment for any journalist,” he said. “It’s just too dangerous. You almost need a small network of local people to get you from the airport to your hotel.”

He said Iraq requires journalists to work with the options they have, even if not ideal.

“There have been times when I only got a picture from a car with a window down,” Nickelsberg said. “There are people on rooftops with cell phones and walkie-talkies [watching you]. A rolled-down window could be all you get for the day.”

Nickelsberg was embedded with U.S. Marines in 2003 during the invasion of Baghdad. In May 2008, he reported from Sadr City, Iraq, the center of support for the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. He said he thinks things have changed.

“In both places, [Iraq and Afghanistan] coverage has gone down,” Nickelsberg said. “The only way to see the urban and rural areas is with the military. We’re also finding there are fewer people who are willing to go.”

Regardless of the risks, the need to get the story remains.

“Luck is always involved,” Nickelsberg said. “But you set out to do certain things, face into the wind.”

In Afghanistan, luck may indeed play a part when journalists encounter harsh terrain, a poor infrastructure and a resurgent Taliban. Some think journalists will face a steep learning curve as they refocus on Afghanistan.

“The level of engagement, investment, blood and money were so extraordinary that the media were fixated on reporting that conflict [in Iraq],” said Bill Gentile, an independent journalist and filmmaker teaching at American University in Washington, D.C. He has covered inter-national conflict for almost 30 years. “The coverage of Afghanistan fell by the wayside, as did the administration’s focus. And now we are reaping the bitter fruits of that policy.”

Gentile was in Afghanistan when the bombs fell on the Taliban in 2001, and he was embedded in mid-2008 with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. His documentary of his most recent trip, produced for PBS’s program NOW, is called “Afghanistan: The Forgotten War.”

He said he thinks there are underreported lessons to be learned from the human suffering wrought by both wars.

“Americans don’t have a sense of the physical damage that this has done to some of its finest sons or daughters,” Gentile said. “I think it’s primarily because of the lack of aggressive media coverage.”

This damage gets to the heart of what Gentile thinks is the fundamental goal of the journalist reporting on conflict, whether in Iraq or Afghanistan.

“I think human loss is the main point,” Gentile said. “If you are not reporting on human loss, you are not covering conflict.”