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March 7, 2003
Notes from the Pentagon

Pakistani arrested
U.S. officials said a Pakistani army major was arrested by FBI agents and Pakistani authorities earlier this week on suspicion of links to al Qaeda terrorists.

The arrest highlights the fears of many U.S. intelligence analysts who suspect the al Qaeda network has been backed secretly by sympathetic members of Pakistan's military and intelligence services.

U.S. officials confirmed that Maj. Adil Quddus was arrested in Kohat, Pakistan, located in the northwest region of the country, one day after the arrest of al Qaeda leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and two other al Qaeda members.

Maj. Quddus is a relative of Ahmed Quddus, who was one of two other men arrested along with Mohammed in Rawalpindi on Saturday.

Rawalpindi is considered a "military city" because of the large number of military facilities there. The arrest of Maj. Quddus is an indication that authorities believe radical Islamist elements of the Pakistani military are working with al Qaeda, possibly protecting other terrorists, such as Osama bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri.

Maj. Quddus is part of a communications unit and is being investigated for his ties to Mohammed and the al Qaeda terror network.

Missile intelligence failure
U.S. intelligence agencies vastly underestimated the number of Al Samoud 2 missiles that Iraq had produced, intelligence officials tell us.

Chief United Nations arms inspector Hans Blix disclosed to the U.N. Security Council in January that Iraq had produced about 120 Al Samoud 2 missiles. The missiles are illegal for Iraq under a 1990s resolution that prohibited Baghdad from producing missiles with ranges greater than 93 miles. The Al Samoud 2 has been flight tested to ranges of more than 93 miles.

Before the number of missiles was disclosed by the Iraqis, U.S. intelligence agencies estimated that Iraq had fewer than a dozen Al Samoud 2s. The agencies also reported that Iraq was suspected of having more than two dozen Scud missiles, systems that were purchased from Russia before the development of the new Al Samouds.

Attacking Green Berets
Increasingly, the guerrilla movement in Afghanistan is being run out of neighboring Pakistan, where many hard-core Taliban and al Qaeda fighters fled after American forces liberated Kabul.

U.S. sources tell us Taliban leaders pay young Afghans to conduct harassment missions against American special operations troops. Some Afghans spy on Green Beret A Teams and report their movements.

Others set up makeshift artillery batteries, intent on landing a rocket in a Green Beret operating camp.

The Afghans fuse 120 mm rockets to car batteries and a Casio watch. They aim the contraption at a camp, set the timer and flee. The rockets rarely hit near their intended targets.

Shinseki won't blink
Gen. Eric Shinseki, Army chief of staff, is sticking by his troop estimate for a postwar Iraq in the face of senior Pentagon officials dismissing his best judgment of several hundred thousand troops as way off the mark.

"General Shinseki was asked a question to which he responded with his best military judgment," says an Army "talking points" document. "His testimony was very clear."

Changing course
The Pentagon has ditched a proposal to ask Congress to take away the legal requirement for four assistant secretaries of defense, including the one who manages the National Guard and reserves.

Some Pentagon officials had hoped to eliminate some or all of the positions and fold their functions into other offices. One of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's ongoing projects is to reduce the size of the Office of the Secretary of Defense and streamline operations.

But after The Washington Times reported the "ASDs" were on the chopping block, a number of congressmen vowed to fight the idea if the draft legislation ever came over to Capitol Hill. Now, it won't.

"The Defense Department is still bogged down to too great an extent in the micromanagement and bureaucratic processes of an earlier era," Mr. Rumsfeld told a Pentagon "town hall" meeting yesterday.

Itching to fight
Army Green Berets in Colombia are eager to mount a mission to rescue three Americans held hostage by the notorious and deadly Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

But for now, the Bush administration is letting the Colombian army plan and execute the missions, with intelligence support coming from the United States.

The problem, military sources say, is that FARC commanders are wise to intelligence methods and rarely make valuable comments in communications that can be monitored.

What Tarnak Farms?
If the presiding judge decides not to recommend a court-martial for two Air Force pilots in the "friendly fire" bombing deaths of four Canadian soldiers, it may be in part because of the testimony of Lt. Col. Craig H. Fisher, a prosecution witness.

Col. Fisher was directing combat operations the night of the mistake from the Air Force's Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) in Saudi Arabia.

Part of the defense of Majs. Harry Schmidt and William Umbach is that no one briefed them that the Canadians were conducting live-fire training that April night when they dropped a bomb on what they thought was surface-to-air fire.

Col. Fisher testified at what the military calls an Article 32 hearing that no one in the CAOC knew the training range, Tarnak Farms, even existed. "As far as you know, nobody in the CAOC knew about Tarnak Farms?" Col. Fisher was asked.

"That is correct," he answered.

Col. Fisher also helped the two pilots' cases on another point. Their chief argument is that they acted in self-defense. The Air Force says they violated the rules of engagement and has charged both men with manslaughter.

Asked by Charles Gittins, Maj. Schmidt's attorney, if their actions were "unreasonable," Col. Fisher answered:

"From what I've read, that there was a defensive call, that the roles did not change, and that there was a BM-21 [missile] threat that encompassed their ranges, and that there was a perception that his lead [Maj. Umbach] was being actively engaged by this threat system, it would not be unreasonable to engage."

A military judge is expected in March or April to recommend whether the Air Force should court-martial the two men on criminal charges, handle it administratively or dismiss the case.

Chinese correspondent
Military sources tell us they were surprised that the Pentagon's public affairs office had permitted a reporter from the official Chinese government news agency Xinhua to join U.S. military forces in covering the conflict in Iraq.

Xinhua has been identified by U.S. intelligence officials as part of the Chinese government intelligence collection and analysis system. Pentagon officials are still upset at the Chinese military's mistreatment of 23 U.S. military personnel who were imprisoned for 11 days in April 2001, after a Chinese F-8 interceptor collided over the South China Sea with an American EP-3 reconnaissance plane.

Xinhua announced Feb. 22 that one of its Washington reporters, Hu Xiaoming, will be placed on a U.S. warship.

Ambassador C.J. Chen, Taiwan's representative to the United States, said that a Taiwanese news reporter also has been allowed to join a U.S. military unit.

  • Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are Pentagon reporters. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at

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