I know, I know. You don't want to read another Cassandra diatribe about the danger of a Bush Administration attack on Iran. But this warning is coming to you from Members of Congress looking at the President's budget request. As such, it should be taken seriously.
John Donnelly reports in CQ Today:
Some Democrats are worried that President Bush's funding request to enable B-2 "stealth" bombers to carry a new 30,000-pound "bunker buster" bomb is a sign of plans for an attack on Iran. Buried in the $196.4 billion supplemental war spending proposal that Bush submitted to Congress on Oct. 22 is a request for $88 million to modify B-2 bombers so they can drop a Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, a conventional bomb still in development that is the most powerful weapon designed to destroy targets deep underground.
OK, so instead of spending money on things Americans need, the President wants to shovel even more of our tax dollars to the weapons of mass destruction industry. No news here, right? But
In interviews Tuesday, military experts said the new weapon was not designed for the kind of counterinsurgency campaign being conducted by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. They said the MOP could prove useful against other targets, notably underground Iranian facilities that are said to be producing nuclear weapons materials. "A weapon like this is designed to deal with extremely hard and buried targets such as you would find in Iran or North Korea," said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the conservative military think tank the Lexington Institute, who is also a consultant for some defense contractors. "Clearly, in the case of North Korea, the likelihood of military action is receding as the Pyongyang government becomes more tractable," said Thompson.
John Pike, an expert on defense and intelligence policy with Globalsecurity.org, said the MOP could be used against Iran's main uranium enrichment facility at Natanz. "It'll go through it like a hot knife through butter," Pike said. He noted that the B-2 would be the best aircraft to deliver the bomb "if you want it to be a surprise party."
Who is speaking out about this?
James P. Moran, D-Va., a senior member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, said he did not believe the MOP could be used in Iraq or Afghanistan and cited Iran as the potential target for the bomb. He said he would oppose the funding. "That's a clear red flag," Moran said.
Jim McDermott, D-Wash....said the funding request was the latest of many signs that indicated Bush was contemplating an attack on Iran. McDermott said such a scenario was his "biggest fear between now and the election." "We are not authorizing Bush to use a 30,000-pound bunker buster," he said. "They've been banging the drums the same way as they did in 2002 with Iraq."
OK, you say, so anti-war Dems are on the case....
But the James Morans and the Jim McDermotts of Washington won't be able to stop this by themselves. If it were up to them, we'd be on our way out of Iraq. Where are Pelosi, Hoyer, Murtha on this? The CQ Today article doesn't say. It does tell us that "not all Democratic lawmakers oppose the weapon":
"We need to have this as a conventional weapon," said Norm Dicks, D-Wash., a member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. "It adds to our deterrent."