Sunday, October 15, 2006

How secure is Indian nuclear program?

by Adnan Gill

A brief answer is, marginally!

India already enjoys the dubious distinction of running the most unsafe nuclear program, now it can hold the crown for running the most insecure one too. The Indian nuclear program has become a serious threat to world security. By large, the security threats posed to its nuclear reactors stem from within. It is a ticking time bomb waiting to be tripped by the numerous insurgencies and separatist movements plaguing India, or by natural disasters. Well over half of India is virtually controlled by insurgent groups, like the Naxalites, where the government’s control is minimal to non-existent. Other security threats emanate from the Indians choosing to construct their nuclear facilities on coastlines prone to natural disasters like the monstrous tsunami of 2004.

India is afflicted with countless insurgencies. Over 53 per cent of its geographical territory is under the control of insurgents and separatists. A debilitating insurgency in the Indian-Controlled-Kashmir is still carried strong by groups like All-Parties Hurriyat Conference. The Sikh Khalistani movement seeks to create an independent Sikh State out of India's breadbasket state of Punjab. Northeastern India is bled by at least 50 separatist movements, out of which, the most prominent and oldest one is Naga militant group/National Socialist Council of Nagalim. However the most serious threat to Indian national security is posed by the leftist Naxalite separatists. Prime minister, Manmohan Singh, described this Maoist insurgency as "the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country".

Once dismissed as little more than an irritant, the Maoist movement is gaining ground in India. The Naxalites are fighting the Indian government in states like Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttaranchal, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. Over 45 per cent or two-fifth of Indian territory is now under Naxalite influence which extends to 15 States, affecting 509 police stations. Currently, as few as 25 battalions of military and central paramilitary forces are fighting the armed Naxalites who have a presence in 220 districts and are in absolute control of over 160 districts, and spreading wide and far. They have over 55,000 well-trained, well-armed and highly motivated cadres, hi-tech weapons in plenty and a well-honed fighting strategy. Indian intelligence agencies believe that Maoists of India and Nepal have also begun joint operations. Sri Lanka's LTTE and French Maoists are providing full support to the Indian and Nepalese Maoists. In return, the Indian Maoists provide shelter and training camps to Nepal's Maoists.

Apparently, the separatist/Maoist sympathizers have successfully penetrated all sort of government organization, including Indian military and its state-owned Ordinance Factories. As recent as, October, 2006, Indian army recovered a massive cache of state manufactured arms and ammunition in the eastern city of Kolkata. Three people, including a soldier, were arrested in connection with the seizure of arms. The hoard included anti-personnel mines and ammunition. According to an October 3, 06, BBC report, “An army spokesman said the cache of arms was meant for Maoist rebels and other terrorist groups active in and around eastern West Bengal state.” The report added, the Army spokesman Wing Commander RK Das said “the arms were meant for supply to Maoist and other terrorist groups active in the region, and that this was one of the largest recoveries of arms in recent times.” Das further added, "The anti-personnel mines are very powerful and a single mine can kill many". In 2005 too, the police in southern Andhra Pradesh seized a huge cache of arms, including 800 rocket shells, which they said were meant for Maoist rebels.

A day after the British police said they foiled a major plot to attack transatlantic airliners, and exactly a month after Mumbai, India's commercial hub, was hit by a series of bomb blasts, the U.S. embassy in India warned American citizens of possible attacks in or around New Delhi and Mumbai. The U.S. embassy spokesman warned, "Likely targets include major airports, key central Indian government offices, and major gathering places such as hotels and markets." Judging from the September 8, 2006, horrible bomb blast in Malegaon (Maharashtra), which claimed at least 37 victims, it would be safe to assume that the warnings issued by the U.S. embassy were based on credible information. Even though the public warnings issued by the Americans did not include direct threats to the Indian nuclear facilities, still the Indian government deployed 38 elite commandos at its Kalpakkam fast breeder reactor in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. At the same time, the Press Trust of India reported additional commando deployments at other nuclear facilities. It reported, “The armed forces were given the responsibility of securing [nuclear] facilities and NSG commandoes were deployed at many nuclear plants.”

Few details are available regarding the security standards in place for the Indian nuclear program, but they are believed to be primitive and outdated at best. Depending on the sensitivity of materials, it is generally believed that different levels of security are in place, including fencing and sentries. Physical barriers are installed at nuclear facilities in an effort to deny access to the sensitive areas, and access control is maintained over personnel by visually verifying paper laminated identity cards.

Security experts believe a well conceived attack on Indian nuclear assets by any number of highly-motivated insurgents and/or their sympathizers can potentially materialize in any of the following scenarios:

Scenario # 1: The insurgents steal an intact nuclear weapon from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and detonate it in the middle of Mumbai.

Though highly improbable, of all the separatist threats facing India, perhaps the gravest is the possibility of militants obtaining a fully assembled nuclear weapon and detonating it in a metropolitan. Insurgents could potentially acquire nuclear weapons through one of two plausible ways. They could steal an intact nuclear weapon from existing arsenals, or they could buy a stolen weapon. If an Indian separatist group exploded just one nuclear weapon in a major metropolis, hundreds of thousands of Indians could die and millions will be seriously injured.

Scenario # 2: The insurgents fashion a crude nuclear weapon by stealing fissile material from the Kalpakkam Atomic Reprocessing Plant (KARP) and explode it in Chennai.

In November/December 2004, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reported that India possesses 300-470 kilograms of plutonium, enough to produce up to 120 nuclear weapons, and a reasonable amount of highly enriched uranium (HEU). According to the report by David Albright and Kimberly Kramer titled ‘Stockpiles still growing’, “India may now be producing HEU in significant quantities at a gas centrifuge plant it has been working on for many years.”

Since only a relatively small amount of HEU or plutonium is needed to build a bomb, separatists could potentially steal enough material to build one or more nuclear weapons. A crude nuclear weapon would need 40-50 kilograms of HEU. However, a more sophisticated design would use approximately 12 kilograms of HEU or 4 kilograms of plutonium. The theft of HEU from uranium enrichment plants like the ones at Trombay and Mysore would be especially worrisome, because it is relatively straightforward to make a bomb using this material. The insurgents could acquire enough fissile material to build a nuclear weapon and the expertise to construct a workable bomb.

Scenario # 3: The insurgent sympathizers smuggle highly radioactive material out of the Nuclear Fuel Complex to detonate a radiological dispersion device or ‘dirty bomb’ in Hyderabad.

In an example of a security blunder that could have resulted in the theft of fissile material, in August 2006, security was tightened in and around the Narora nuclear power plant after three men working there were arrested for giving fake addresses at the time of their appointments. Unbelievably, the men were given access to the facilities without first conducting thorough background checks.

The problem is that India does not only have 22 declared -- including under construction -- nuclear reactors, but it also has about 60 -- less secure -- agencies connected with nuclear activities. India is well-known for lax security and overworked systems; security experts believe smuggling of radioactive materials to be highly probable.

If the Maoists can recruit Indian military and ordinance factory personnel to smuggle out state owned military weaponry, then one can safely assume Maoists could one day get their hands on radioactive material to be used in dirty bombs, or in worst case, they could potentially steal nuclear weapons too.

Scenario # 4: Naxalites sabotage KARP facilities to cause large release of radiation in Chennai.

Security experts think the nature of specific threats to Indian nuclear facilities may include an attack with explosive laden trucks. These trucks could be driven through the security parameters to be exploded next to the nuclear reactors or next to the turbines spun by highly radioactive steam. In past, such tactics had been employed with marginal success by the Iraqi insurgents who breached the Green Zone (Baghdad) security wall by exploding a truck next to the wall. A second truck drove through the hole in the wall and exploded inside the Green Zone by the second suicide bomber. India is no stranger to suicide bombings. In the first recorded instance of suicide bombing in South Asia, the Indian Ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a Tamil suicide bomber.

Insurgents may even employ other innovative tactics like mounting an aerial attack using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or an aircraft in a suicide mission. Naxalites are believed to be armed with short and long-range rockets. An attack on the nuclear facilities with rockets is also a realistic possibility to cause panic to facilitate breaching of security parameters.

The consequences of such attacks could include release of radioactive matter such as contaminated heavywater, pressurized radioactive steam, uranium dust clouds, iodine or cesium, and the associated fires and explosions could cause catastrophic structural failures. In fact, the Indian nuclear program has a history of structural failures. For example, in 1994, owing to faulty design, the concrete containment dome of the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS) collapsed.

Scenario # 5: The most realistic scenario. In the aftermath of a massive tsunami, insurgents effortlessly get their hands on unguarded nuclear weapons stored at the unsecured military bases, and fissile materials from the KARP, BARC and/or Tarapur Atomic Power Stations and disperse these weapons and fissile materials all over India. They also sell the loot and stage multiple nuclear attacks.

The December 26, 2004 tsunami devastated the coastal stretches of Tamil Nadu. The unimaginable force of the tsunami literally uprooted or flattened every security boundary that was supposed to protect the peripheries of the 500-MW prototype fast breeder reactor coming up at Kalpakkam. The security personnel at the facilities were either killed or fled, virtually leaving the nuclear reactor insecure and unguarded for days to come.

In March 2006, the under construction 1,000 MW Koodankulam nuclear power plants were rocked by earthquake tremors. The tremors were strong enough to create severe panic and fear among the local population about the safety and security of the nuclear power project. According to a statement released by the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy and the South Asian Community Center for Education and Research, "The quake, very close to the Koodankulam reactor site, raises urgent and important questions about the safety of the plants and the security and well being of the people in Kanyakumari and other southern districts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala". The statement further addressed the slacked attitude of Indian authorities towards the safety and security of its nuclear plants: "The local people's concerns about the impacts of these plants on their safety, health, livelihoods and well-being have all been simply dismissed so far." Arguably, their fears are not unfounded. It’s not if, but when someone will take advantage of a natural disaster by stealing the fissile materials and/or nuclear weapons from the Indian facilities?

Unfortunately, that’s not where Indian nightmare scenarios will end. In its mad pursuit to become a mini-nuclear power, India is going to ridiculous lengths to amass nuclear technologies in an amateurish hope to enhance its ability to generate additional fissile materials for its nuclear stockpiles. In an example of ultimate irresponsible and reckless behavior, Indians have tried to negotiate with Russians to build nuclear reactors even in the open seas. On November 19, 2003, the Indian news daily, The Hindu, reported a conversation between the Indian national security adviser Brajesh Mishra and the Russian atomic energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev on a Russian offer to India of floating nuclear plants in international waters off the Indian shores, because then, the ownership of the plants can remain with the supplier. How India and Russia planed to protect the floating nuclear power plants in open seas against hurricanes, accidental collisions, terrorist attacks, aerial or underwater attacks, or sabotage is anybody’s guess.

As a member of the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and under UN Resolution 1540, India is required to establish the highest standards of security for its fissile materials. Sadly, so far, the security standards at Indian nuclear facilities are believed to be rudimentary and primitive at best.

The Indian nuclear program is fast becoming a serious threat to world security. Rising radioactive plumes from the sabotaged Indian facilities or nuclear explosions will certainly poison the food and water supplies in the Subcontinent. Depending on the time of the year, the radioactive dust from India can be carried by the prevailing upper atmosphere winds all the way around the world to Western Europe, or even to the United States!

Realistic threat to the world security from the insecure Indian nukes is marginalized by the world leaders, like U.S. President Bush, who remain obsessed with assumed-threats like the one from Iran. President Bush’s tendency to be distracted by self-conceived threats has already resulted into a North Korean nuclear test, while the threats from India remain ticking.

Courtesy: The Defence Journal

More articles by Adnan Gill

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Have the terrorists won?

by Adnan Gill

When the CNN interrupted its regular programming to break the news that an aircraft had crashed into a Manhattan, NY, apartment building; disturbing 9/11 memories overwhelmed my mind as I found myself feverishly praying, God please don’t let the pilot of the unfortunate airplane be a Muslim. I am ashamed to admit, that I was more concerned about the religious affiliation and the skin-color of the pilot of the crashed airplane than the safety and well-being of the pilot and the possible victims of the tragedy.

Almost immediately, the primitive instinct of self-preservation kicked in. Fearing reprisals, I was franticly calling and sending instant messages to family and friends advising them to stay indoors and avoid crowds as most of them happened to be Muslims and/or dark skinned.

An even more disturbing fact is that instead of feeling grief for the untimely death of the New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle, I was relieved to have learnt the pilot’s identity.

Initial reports of the crash had all the hallmarks of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The crash rattled America’s nerves so bad that within 10 minutes of the crash, NORAD scrambled fighter jets over several major American cities. US Coast Guard positioned several patrol boats and a Coast Guard cuter in the East River. While, literally, hundreds of first responders harmoniously took to their rehearsed duties. The drama and anxieties about a possible terrorist strike were mounting by each minute. As soon as the drama climaxed, to everyone’s relief, it fizzled away with news about the identity of the pilot.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one elated to have learnt about the pilot’s identity; even the whole American media seemed to have sighed a breath of relief. In what appears to be a maddening rush, joining the media chorus, even the New York mayor Michael Bloomberg in a news conference declared the plane crash to be an accident, as he appropriately patted the first responders on the back for a job well-done.

As if we wanted to be in denial, we desperately glued to our TV sets in a hope that any moment our leaders would declare the crash to be an accident. And the leaders didn’t disappoint us. Our hopes were so strong that we didn’t spare even a moment to contemplate other possibilities, like if the accident could have been an attempted suicide or a possible murder? Barely six hours later, a day that had started with revisiting the traumatic 9/11 memory lanes, it concluded with a comforting ease, that we survived another day without experiencing another terrorist attack.

Is this the state-of-mind of a nation that is winning the war on terror? Or have the terrorists already won the war of nerves? We have become a nation of paranoia, where dark skinned citizens are forced to disembark airplanes for merely passing a cell phone to each other, and the possibility of terrorism is immediately and unanimously ruled out upon learning the identity of the Caucasian pilot of a crashed plane.

President Bush, close to 3,000 brave American soldiers, and thousands upon thousands of Iraqi civilians have been sacrificed to the Gods of your so-called war on terror, but that hasn’t even given us a rudimentary sense of security. How about we look for political solutions to snuff out the ambers of terrorism?

More articles by Adnan Gill

Monday, October 02, 2006

Genesis of Abu Ghraib scandal

How the US lost its moral superiority?
The depths to which US morality has succumbed to because of the prisoner abuse scandal.

by Adnan Gill

Late last April, a CBS' “60 Minutes II” broadcast of nauseating and humiliating pictures taken at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison of torture and inhumane treatment of Iraqi prisoners by the American soldiers shook the Bush administration to its core. An administration, which thought 9/11 investigations during the election year was its worst nightmare come true, was totally blindsided and caught like a deer in the headlights by the scandal of unparalleled proportions.

For the first time in memorable history not only the American administration, but the whole nation found itself at the receiving end of what appeared to be the whole world's stinging criticism, wrath and disgust. No sooner did the pictures of torture and abuse become public the battle lines were drawn. There were those that viewed the United States as a nation with imperialistic design, who felt their convictions were vindicated and then there were those, like Rush Limbaugh, who conspicuously tried to shrug off the fire storm by calling the prison torture “a college fraternity prank”. Whether Rush and Saddam were members of the same college fraternity is a debate for another time. One thing is for sure, the whole world is up in arms over the abuse and the moral superiority America enjoyed for generations is in grave danger of being lost for a long time. No matter whether America is targeted fairly or unfairly, we have to ask one question: how did we get ourselves into this mess?

In order to figure out how we got here, one does not have to go any further than the tragic day of 9/11. It was undoubtedly, a day of horror, shock and grief. Not since the Pearl Harbour attack has the nation felt utterly stunned, traumatized and vulnerable. That was the time when a small group from within the US administration - known as Neo-Conservatives (Neo-cons) - perhaps with the best intentions, but without any hesitation took over the reins of the US government. They asked the shocked nation, 'trust us', and promised to provide effective protection and safety, but in return demanded lack of oversight and transparency. Without giving a second thought to the future consequences, the traumatized nation, including the President and the Congress handed over America's reins to this small but cunning group of Neo-Cons. In the name of fighting terrorism these Neo-Cons made the defence department an 'all departments in one' with virtually unlimited administrative powers and hardly any checks and balances. This group practically started to run a parallel State Department, Justice Department, Homeland Security Department, CIA, FBI, and its very own prison system. Soon these Neo-Cons became immune to the concepts of checks and balances, and became a Maverick Department. Later on, the arrogance and the feeling of invincibility of this Maverick Department run by Neo-Cons will single handedly bring an embarrassment to the American nation that it has never experienced before.

Right off the bat, the Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld announced to the world of setting up of an American prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, under the command of Major-General Geoffrey Miller. In the same breath he made another shocking announcement, that the Guantanamo prisoners - mostly from Afghanistan, Middle East, and Pakistan - will not be accorded Geneva Convention protections. His decision was based on the argument, since terrorists and the Taliban do not abide by the Geneva Convention rules and are not part of any recognized government; therefore, the US too will not abide by any such rules. It seems, at the time no one bothered to read the Geneva Convention - to which the United States is a signatory - and if anyone did, they did not raise their voice. Article 2 and Article 4 (especially Article 4.3. Source: ) of Geneva Convention clearly contradicted Mr. Secretary's misstatement. Had this violation of Geneva Convention been debated, protested or questioned at the time, today the US might have saved itself from losing the moral superiority it enjoyed for so many decades.

The second chance to save the US from the embarrassment was missed when the President and Congress bought Neo-Cons' delusional rhetoric of saving the world by waging a war against Iraq. Once again, the whole nation bought their extremist rhetoric without asking any questions about waging a war of choice and ended up bogged down in a war that was based on lies, false data, and broken promises.

The third opportunity to save America's prestige was missed when Mr. Secretary refused to provide the safety and security to the Iraqi public - another violation of Geneva Convention - by calling the lawlessness and looting in Iraq as “Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.”

Next opportunity to save America's face was lost when the Secretary Rumsfeld decided to bring Gen. Miller to Iraq. The General promised to “Gitmo-ize” the US military prison system.

The final opportunity to save America's honour was lost, when Secretary Rumsfeld and his fellow Neo-Cons failed to fulfil their constitutional duty of informing the President and Congress of abuses reported by the ICRC and even by the US Army Major General Antonio Taguba's investigation which found that “numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees” in Abu Ghraib.

It is ludicrous and inconsequential to even imagine using the American soldiers as scapegoats for the mistakes and lack of effective leadership of their civilian leaders. Because its the civilian leadership which time and time again set very bad examples and sent wrong messages down the chain of command through their arrogant and callous actions. The soldiers merely laid their lives on the line by following the orders of their misguided leaders.

Had there been no pictures or had it not been a presidential election year there is a strong possibility the prison abuse reports would have met the same fate of oblivion as many other reports did in the past. The abuse reports against the US had been rampant since the Afghan invasion, but they consistently fell on deaf-ears of the leadership. It turns out; many other ICRC and Human Rights Watch reports preceded Major General Antonio Taguba's report. These reports protested the unfettered access to the American military prisons and were consistently raising red flags to the US government regarding the human rights violations and prisoner abuses.

The administration did not only shun ICRC's reports, but it also shunned the scrutiny of other independent rights monitors like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The administration presumed that suspected agents of terrorism did not deserve prevailing legal protections, and it presumed that American interrogators could always tell a terrorist from an innocent bystander. These reports also protested the deaths of two detainees in the US custody in Afghanistan, which the medical examiners declared as “homicides”. Indeed, to this day, no one has been prosecuted for those two deaths. Accounts of former prisoners at Abu Ghraib and other military detention sites in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo itself suggests there has been systemic, and gratuitous brutality against people who in many cases are not guilty of any crimes.

While the majority of the world is busy gloating over catching the United States in its moment of weakness and publishing the gory details of abuses, the Americans themselves have also started to ask millions of questions like:

l Our government told us that by going to war with Iraq we will be saved from Saddam's weapons of mass destruction (WMD), but where are they?

l We were told Saddam was helping Al-Qaeda, but where is Al-Qaeda?

l We were told the road to Middle-East peace runs through Baghdad, but then why is Middle East burning all over?

l We were told the war will pay itself off from the revenues of Iraqi oil, but then why are we still spending more than a billion dollars per week in Iraq out of our pockets?

l We were told after the war, the prices at gas pumps would go down, but then why are we paying record high gas prices?

l We were told Iraqis will shower us with flowers for liberating them, but more than 770 of our soldiers have lost their lives from the shower of mortars. Where are the flowers?

l Neo-Cons gave us their word that once the thugs like Saddam will be caught the Iraqis will come out of fear and embrace us with open arms, but then why did they savagely murder four Americans and dragged their dead bodies through the streets of Fallujah?

l We were told those who brutally killed and dragged the bodies of four Americans will be swiftly brought to justice, but then why are the Marines still sitting at the outskirts of the city?

l We were told we will gift the Iraqis their first taste of democracy and freedom, but then what were our soldiers picturing the naked Iraqis for, or why did the soldiers pose for pictures as they rode an elderly naked Iraqi woman, or why did the soldiers rape women Iraqi prisoners?

l We were told we did not know anything about the prison abuses, but the ICRC claimed it sent several reports to the Ambassador Bremer and Secretary Powell. Why did both of them fail to inform the President and Congress about the ICRC reports?

l We were told the American military is so advanced, disciplined and streamlined that it could instantly track every single soldier around the globe, but then why we still do not know whose orders placed Col. Thomas M. Pappas in charge of prison policy where Brig Gen. Karpinski's MPs worked?

l We were told the US military actually broke the abuse news and started the investigation, but then why did Gen. Myers and the Secretary Rumsfeld wait for months to read General Taguba's report over the prison abuse? Even worst, why did the highest military and civilian leaders conveniently forget to read reports after reports about the alleged gross violations of the Geneva Convention?

l We were told it's an act of few bad apples but then why did General Taguba's report suggest the abuses to be widespread, “sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal”?

lWe were told yes there were probably some abuses but at least we did not kill people in cold blood like Saddam used to, but then why do journalist like Seymour Hersh (New Yorker) tell the stories of US investigators dumping off bodies after beating detainees to death?

l We were told we would punish those responsible for it, but then why only few handful low ranking reservists are being court-marshalled, while we even do not know who ordered them?

l We are told by the political leaders like Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma to be “outraged by the outrage” as he doesn't think the Iraqis deserve protection of Geneva Convention, because they were not detained for traffic tickets, but then why the NGOs like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Red Cross believe over 70-90% detainees in American military prisons are innocent?

l We are told that our military has no better friend in Washington than the Bush administration, but then why did people like the Under Secretary of Defence Stephen Cambone, tried their best to upstage Gen. Taguba during the senate hearing?

Unfortunately, the list of questions, broken promises and illusions is so long that one would have to write a book over it.

On the other hand, impulsively the disappointed world is demanding the ouster of the Neo-Cons from the offices of American government, but now is not the time to oust the Neo-Cons for eternally embarrassing the United States. Now is the time to demand they follow Secretary Powell's 'pottery barn rule' and insist they clean up their mess under the strict scrutiny of the US Congress, media and the human rights organizations. The time to call foul was when the Neo-Cons announced to the world of their intentions not to abide by the international laws.

The Neo-Cons did their best to keep the abuse hidden and failed to do their constitutional duty by not taking their president or Congress into confidence. Commonsense demands a thorough investigation and accountability of them for violating their constitutional duty. But the tragedy is the Neo-Cons still neither admit their faults, nor have their actions shown any remorse for embarrassing their nation. “My impression,” Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon, “is that what has been charged so far is abuse, which is different from torture. Just a minute, I don't know if the, it is correct to say what you just said, that torture has taken place, or that there's been a conviction for torture. And therefore, I'm not going to address the 'torture' word.”

There is still time to salvage whatever is left of the American moral authority. President Bush can still demonstrate the American commitment in dealing with the detainees in a decent and humane fashion, and according to international laws.

In order to restore America's severely tainted image, and without severely handicapping the American soldiers from doing their duty, the President could take the following steps:

First. In an expedient manner America has to publicly announce to the world, who ordered what?

Second. America needs to announce - in no ambiguous terms - to the world its unconditional and absolute intent of following the international law and its respect for human rights.

Third. America has to publish all of human rights organizations' reports over the abuses and the steps taken by the US to address their recommendations.

Fourth. Instantly abolish all of 'no go' areas in American military detention centres for the human rights organizations in order to assure the transparency and fairness.

Fifth. Train whole American military in clear words what is covered under international laws and human rights treaties, so they would know exactly what they can or more importantly cannot do?

Sixth. Apologize in no uncertain words to the victims and their families, and handsomely pay compensations for their hardship.

Seventh. America should stay in Iraq till it stabilizes the country politically and economically, so it doesn't fracture into multiple states. Till then US has to provide physical and economical security and safety.

Finally. The Neo-Cons and their allies in Congress should stop trying to evade responsibility by accusing those who want to ask tough questions by accusing them of being disloyal to the troops and the war effort.

Thomas Friedman (of the New York Times) concluded the tragedy with wise and enlightening words: “We are in danger of losing something much more important than just the war in Iraq. We are in danger of losing America as an instrument of moral authority and inspiration in the world.”

More articles by Adnan Gill