Jan. 1, 1998
Get the Net

“The [Gulf War] allies made a lot of destruction. They killed a lot of people, but they didn’t win the war. Don’t just look at the immediate results of a military conflict. Look at the results in the long run. Those who supported the Americans, the United States, in the Gulf War: Are they better off now than they were in the 1990s? Are they more secure? Are they better off economically? Are they stronger than they were in 1990? The answer is simple: No. So those … who joined the United States in this campaign against Iraq actually lost.”–Tariq Aziz, deputy prime minister of Iraq, in Nov. 13, 1997, interview with PBS talk show host Charlie Rose.

Fustest With the Mostest

“Crisis planning and execution under short-warning conditions are likely to be the rule in many future conflicts. … Waiting to engage the enemy until most forces are in theater will likely provide the opponent with an advantage that may be costly to overcome. … Air- and spacepower can make up for deficiencies in other force areas for a limited period of time, making early availability of air and space assets particularly important in a short-warning war.”–Three of the major “insights,” or conclusions, contained in the September 1997 Air Force paper “Strategic Force,” based on a wargame of the same title.

“Dramatic Decline”

“There has been a fairly dramatic decline in death rates from aircraft accidents. The major accident rate per 100,000 hours flown has gone from 2.04 in 1990, down to 1.50 in 1996. The number of aircraft destroyed in those accidents has declined from 143 in 1990, to 67 in 1996. So there’s been a rather dramatic improvement there. … “In terms of accidents from all sorts, worldwide, there’s also been a fairly dramatic decline that, not surprisingly, mirrors the declining rate in deaths from aircraft accidents. The figures I have go back to 1980. The deaths per 100,000 have declined from 117 in 1980, to 68 in 1996. … There’s been considerable progress, but there are 1.4 million people in the military, and if you multiply 68 per 100,000 by 1.4 million, you can figure out–by the proper multiplier–you figure out how many people die every year. It’s a lot, but it [fatality rate] is going down.”–Pentagon spokesman Kenneth H. Bacon in an Aug. 7, 1997, press briefing on safety issues.

Millions of Potential Deaths

“Iraq has declared almost 9,000 liters of anthrax, and they said, ‘We destroyed it all.’ They declared several thousand liters of botulinum toxin, and they told us they produced other agents like aflatoxin and said they had it on missile warheads, etc. So Iraq has declared a lot [and] said they destroyed it.

“I think the real issue is to understand what makes a difference in terms of biological agents. … Anthrax is a spore, and if you … inhale 10,000 spores of anthrax, it’s sort of generally accepted as a lethal dose for anthrax. If you try to imagine what it is, you’re talking about something that’s smaller than a speck of dust-something you wouldn’t even see that you’re breathing. It’s not like … you’re walking into a dust cloud and you’re saying, ‘Wow, I’m in anthrax.’ No. We’re talking about inhaling something that’s really the size of a speck of dust, that’s generally lethal. And by generally lethal I mean that if a group of people inhaled this amount, this number of spores, about 80 percent of them are going to die.

“If an attack occurs in a clandestine way, symptoms don’t come for one to three days, depending on how much you get. This initial exposure to anthrax is when you have a window for treatment. So if you’ve been exposed and you’ve inhaled anthrax in your system, you’ve got a short window where you’ve got to take some medical action in order to enhance your survival chances. After that, you develop flu-like symptoms and die within a matter of a few days.

“That gives you a sense of what we’re talking about with anthrax. A kilogram of anthrax has literally millions and millions of potential deaths in it.”–An unnamed senior DoD official, speaking to reporters at a Nov. 14, 1997, background briefing on Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons capabilities.

An Offer They Can Refuse

Reporter: “[Russian military] security is perhaps as good as the US, but they also face different kinds of threats, don’t they? I mean, is there more likelihood of, say, organized crime being able to procure a nuclear weapon?”

Habiger: “If what I saw is representative of the Strategic Rocket Forces [as a whole], organized crime getting their hands on a weapon out of their facilities would be [an] extremely remote [possibility].”–Exchange between a reporter and Gen. Eugene E. Habiger, commander in chief of US Strategic Command, at a Nov. 4, 1997, press briefing on Habiger’s visit to Russian nuclear facilities.

Steady as a Rock

“I went to bed every night praying to God that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. I never actually attempted suicide. But I thought about it, hard. I imagined what my suicide note would say and to whom I’d send it. I knew where a gun was hidden in a friend’s house. I imagined myself driving by and getting it. Shooting myself would have been too messy, though. I didn’t want my parents to have to clean up a mess.”–Kelly Flinn, former B-52 copilot, writing in the Nov. 24, 1997, Newsweek. Flinn accepted a general discharge rather than face an Air Force court-martial for lying under oath, disobeying an order, adultery with the husband of an enlisted airman, and fraternization.

And Run, He Explained

“Take the general. You’re looking at a very real possibility of prison time.”–Defense lawyer Frank Spinner’s advice to Flinn when USAF offered to drop charges if she accepted a general discharge, as quoted by Flinn in Nov. 24, 1997, Newsweek.