Also sometimes referred to as secular, modern, or humanistic. This is an umbrella term for Protestant denominations, or churches within denominations, that view the Bible as the witness of God rather than the word of God, to be interpreted in its historical context through critical analysis. Examples include some churches within Anglican/Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and United Church of Christ. There are more than 2,000 Protestant denominations offering a wide range of beliefs from extremely liberal to mainline to ultra-conservative and those that include characteristics on both ends.
|•||Belief in Deity |
Trinity of the Father (God), the Son (Christ), and the Holy Spirit that comprises one God Almighty. Many believe God is incorporeal.
Beliefs vary from the literal to the symbolic belief in Jesus Christ as God's incarnation. Some believe we are all sons and daughters of God and that Christ was exemplary, but not God.
|•||Origin of Universe and Life |
The Bible's account is symbolic. God created and controls the processes that account for the universe and life (e.g. evolution), as continually revealed by modern science.
|•||After Death |
Goodness will somehow be rewarded and evil punished after death, but what is most important is how you show your faith and conduct your life on earth.
|•||Why Evil? |
Most do not believe that humanity inherited original sin from Adam and Eve or that Satan actually exists. Most believe that God is good and made people inherently good, but also with free will and imperfect nature, which leads some to immoral behavior.
Various beliefs: Some believe all will go to heaven, as God is loving and forgiving. Others believe salvation lies in doing good works and no harm to others, regardless of faith. Some believe baptism is important. Some believe the concept of salvation after death is symbolic or nonexistent.
|•||Undeserved Suffering |
Most Liberal Christians do not believe that Satan causes suffering. Some believe suffering is part of God's plan, will, or design, even if we don't immediately understand it. Some don't believe in any spiritual reasons for suffering, and most take a humanistic approach to helping those in need.
|•||Contemporary Issues |
Most churches teach that abortion is morally wrong, but many ultimately support a woman's right to choose, usually accompanied by policies to provide counseling on alternatives. Many are accepting of homosexuality and gay rights.
Saturday, October 30, 2004
Pollster John Zogby, in a telephone interview with me yesterday, predicted that John Kerry will win the election. "It's close," he said, "but in the last couple of days things have been trending toward Kerry - nationally and in the swing states. Between this and history, I think it will be Kerry."
When Zogby talks, politicians listen. He made his bones in the Bill Clinton-Bob Dole election of 1996, when he came within one-tenth of a percentage point of the final tally.
Bet me that when the Bushies read what Zogby told me, not just the rhetoric will rise, but so will the fever.
Particularly since one of their favorite columnists, Robert Novak, reported in yesterday's Washington Post that Zogby called the race for President Bush in a conversation he had with the pollster on Monday.
Zogby was jocular about the Novak column, although he has decided not to post a comment on his Web site. Here's what he told me: "I said Bush was winning, I didn't say I thought he'd win. On Monday, he was indeed looking good. But on Tuesday, things changed. Kerry, in that one day, picked up 5 points."
Well, what about New Jersey? Al Gore took the Garden State by 16 points, and now the Quinnipiac poll makes it even. If Kerry loses Jersey, it could be a landslide for Bush, no, Mr. Zogby?
I could hear Zogby shrug. "New Jersey?" he said. "Take out your navy blue crayon and color Jersey dark. I don't even poll New Jersey."
The politicians of both parties appear to agree. If they believed Jersey was in play, Kerry and Bush would be in Newark and Jersey City on the spot. But nobody showed.
Maurice Carroll nodded - I heard that on the phone, too. Mickey runs the Quinnipiac poll, and being straight, he said, "It makes me trepidatious about our numbers."
"I've gotta look it up, too," he laughed. "But of course when the politicians pay no attention, we have to wonder if we got it right."
And then he added: "Maybe because our poll had 6% undecided. Historically, the undecided vote goes big to the challenger."
Polls, polls, polls. Is that all there is, Alfie?
Let's check the London line. The legal bookies across the sea have been uncannily right over the years on our elections. They probably called 1776 for George Washington.
And on this one, the Republicans have to love it.
The latest line from sunny old England makes Bush, in their funny lingo, a 4-7 favorite. (Vegas would say it 7-4.) That's almost 2-to-1.
Maybe London looks at it this way because they don't have the benefit of our pundits, day in, day out. On the other hand, we don't need polls to tell us that the Brits hate the Iraq war and consider Dubya to be a cut under Jack the Ripper.
The one poll that chilled me yesterday went like this: "If the candidate you're against wins, will you still support him?"
Sixty-two percent said no.
Maybe not civil war, but certainly something that great Texan Jim Hightower could explain to us.
"If the gods wanted us to vote," Hightower once observed, "they'd have given us candidates."
Thursday, October 28, 2004
The blockbuster book that will change America’s history
by Doug Ireland
If the loving heart of the Great Emancipator found its natural amorous passions overwhelmingly directed toward those of his own sex, it would certainly be a stunning rebuke to the Republican Party’s scapegoating of same-sex love for electoral purposes. And a forthcoming book by the late Dr. C.A. Tripp — The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, to be published in the new year by Free Press — makes a powerful case that Lincoln was a lover of men.
Tripp, who worked closely in the 1940s and 1950s with the groundbreaking sexologist Alfred Kinsey, was a clinical psychologist, university professor and author of the 1975 best-seller The Homosexual Matrix, which helped transcend outdated Freudian clichés and establish that a same-sex affectional and sexual orientation is a normal and natural occurrence.
In his book on Lincoln, Tripp draws on his years with Kinsey, who, he wrote, "confronted the problem of classifying mixed sex patterns by devising his 0-to-6 scale, which allows the ranking of any homosexual component in a person’s life from none to entirely homosexual. By this measure Lincoln qualifies as a classical 5 — predominantly homosexual, but incidentally heterosexual."
Tripp also found, based on multiple historical accounts, that Lincoln attained puberty unusually early, by the age of 9 or 10 — early sexualization being a prime Kinsey indicator for same-sex proclivities. Even Lincoln’s stepmother admitted in a post-assassination interview that young Abe "never took much interest in the girls." And Tripp buttresses his findings that Lincoln was a same-sex lover with important new historical contributions.
Others, preceding Tripp, have proclaimed in print that Lincoln was gay. The first, some four decades ago, was the pioneer Los Angeles gay activist Jim Kepner, editor of ONE, the early gay magazine (the ONE Institute National Gay and Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California [http://www.oneinstitute.org/] is the largest collection of gay historical material in the world). Kepner focused on Lincoln’s long-acknowledged intimate friendship with Joshua Speed — with whom Lincoln slept in the same bed for four years when both men were in their 20s — as did later writers, like the historian of gay America Jonathan Ned Katz and University of Massachusetts professor Charles Shively. Gore Vidal has said in interviews that, in researching his historical novel on Lincoln, he began to suspect that the 16th president was a same-sexer. But all this has been little noticed or circulated outside the gay community.
In 1990, the American Historical Association presented a panel on "Gay American Presidents? — Washington, Buchanan, Lincoln, Garfield." Tripp was in the audience, and was seized with the desire to explore Lincoln’s sexuality and emotional complexity with the same brand of scrupulous methodology he’d learned from Kinsey. Tripp devoted the next decade to this research, and created an electronic database and index cross-referencing for more than 600 books of Lincolnalia, a historical tool now available at the Lincoln Institute in Springfield, Illinois.
One of the few traditional Lincolnists to describe (however obliquely) the lifelong Lincoln-Speed relationship as homosexual was the Illinois poet Carl Sandburg, in his masterful, six-volume Lincoln biography. In the tome titled The Prairie Years (1926), Sandburg wrote that both Lincoln and Speed had "a streak of lavender, and spots soft as May violets." "I do not feel my own sorrows more keenly than I do yours," Lincoln wrote Speed in one letter. And again, "You know my desire to befriend you is everlasting." In a detailed retelling of the Lincoln-Speed love story — including the "lust at first sight" encounter between the two young men, when Lincoln readily accepted Speed’s eager invitation to share his narrow bed — Tripp notes that Speed was the only human being to whom the president ever signed his letters with the unusually tender (for Lincoln) "yours forever" — a salutation Lincoln never even used to his wife. Speed himself acknowledged that "No two men were ever so intimate." And Tripp credibly describes Lincoln’s near nervous breakdown following Speed’s decision to end their four-year affair by returning to his native Kentucky.
In the preface to his massive biography, Sandburg wrote that "month by month in stacks and bundles of facts and legend, I found invisible companionships that surprised me. Perhaps a few of these presences lurk and murmur in this book." Tripp’s book is remarkable and precedent-shattering because, for the first time, he restores names and faces (more than just Speed’s) to a number of those previously invisible homosexual companions and love objects of the most venerated of America’s presidents, among them, Henry C. Whitney; the young Billy Greene, a Salem contemporary of Lincoln’s and another bedmate (who admired Lincoln’s thighs); Nat Grigsby; and A.Y. Ellis.
One of them was the handsome David Derickson, by nine years the president’s junior, captain of Lincoln’s bodyguard Company K, the unit assigned to ensure Lincoln’s protection in September 1862. Citing a variety of sources — including an autobiographical essay by Captain (later Major) Dickerson, Lincoln’s letters, contemporary diaries and historical accounts written while many of the witnesses to the Derickson-Lincoln relationship were still living — Tripp describes in great detail how Derickson was the object of "the kinds of gentle and concentrated high-focus attention from Lincoln that [Lincoln’s law colleague] Henry C. Whitney, from having himself once been on the receiving end, well described: ‘[It was] as if he wooed me to close intimacy and friendship, a kind of courtship, as indeed it was.’"
Lincoln’s seduction of Dickerson was more than successful. Tripp discovered a forgotten volume of Union Army history, an account of The Pennsylvania Volunteers, Second Regiment, Bucktail Brigade, published in 1895 by Derickson’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Chamberlin, who was historian of the Bucktail Survivors Association, and in which he recounted:
"Captain Derickson, in particular, advanced so far in the President’s confidence and esteem that in Mrs. Lincoln’s absence he frequently spent the night at his cottage [at the summer White House], sleeping in the same bed with him, and — it is said — making use of his Excellency’s night-shirt! Thus began an intimacy that continued unbroken until the following spring, when Captain Derickson was appointed provost marshal of the Nineteenth Pennsylvania District, with headquarters in Meadville."
The Dickerson-Lincoln affair was common gossip in Washington’s high society, as Tripp notes with a citation from the diary of the wife of Assistant Navy Secretary Gustavus Fox: "Tish says, Oh, there is a Bucktail soldier here devoted to the president, drives with him, and when Mrs. L is not home, sleeps with him. What stuff!"
Lincoln was very fond of witty, and quite often ribald, stories, a great many of them having anal references. When a friend once suggested that he should collect his stories and publish them in book form, Lincoln replied that he could not, for "such a book would Stink like a thousand privies."
Another Tripp rediscovery is a smutty, humorous poem written by Lincoln when he was a teenager — in which the future president describes a marriage between two boys! Here (with some of the spelling corrected for easier reading) is Lincoln’s gay-marriage poem:
I will tell you a Joke about Jewel and Mary
It is neither a Joke nor a Story
For Rubin and Charles has married two girls
But Billy has married a boy
The girlies he had tried on every Side
But none could he get to agree
All was in vain he went home again
And since that is married to Natty
So Billy and Natty agreed very well
And mama’s well pleased at the match
The egg it is laid but Natty’s afraid
The Shell is So Soft that it never will hatch
But Betsy she said you Cursed bald head
My Suitor you never Can be
Beside your low crotch [slang for big penis] proclaims you a botch
And that never Can serve for me
Tripp notes that the stanza beginning "The egg it is laid" suggests that "Abe was well aware of the term ‘jelly baby.’ Originally from Negro vernacular, the phrase soon came to be used by whites as well: slang denoting what uneducated folk imagined . . . as a ‘pregnancy’ from homosexual intercourse . . . As a poem, Lincoln’s rhyme of course is a mere trifle, except that it is perhaps the most explicit literary reference to actual homosexual relations in 19th-century America — more explicit certainly than anything Walt Whitman ever wrote about the ‘Love of comrades.’"
There is a great deal more to this book, which — as Lincoln scholar Jean Baker notes in her admiring preface — "is not a work of sexual or biological reductionism, but rather a significant effort to understand a complicated man." Among the many invaluable contributions is the chapter revealing that Lincoln’s supposed tragic "romance" with Ann Rutledge — often hyped by Hollywood retelling — was a myth invented after Lincoln’s death (this chapter is for the most part due to the research of Tripp’s faithful collaborator on the Lincoln project, the writer Lewis Gannett, who edited the book for publication). Many of Tripp’s findings come from finely argued circumstantial deductions — which will no doubt be seized upon by what Vidal has called the "scholar squirrels" of the considerable Lincoln industry, who have a lot of skin in the game. But it will take more than their usual regurgitations of the cliché about the absence of central heating back in those days to explain Lincoln’s consistent, yearslong choice of male bed partners, a same-sex affinity that he acted on even as president.
Tripp completed The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln just two weeks before his own death. It is a tragedy that tawdry squabbles between the aging and irascible executor of Tripp’s estate and his publisher prevented the book’s publication before this year’s elections (it is now due out, after yet another postponement, in March). That is why, when — after assiduous and clandestine effort — we managed to obtain a copy of the book’s uncorrected proofs, we decided to break with book-chat conventions and, without authorization, make some of Tripp’s findings public here before November 2.
In a year in which those who claim Lincoln as their political progenitor are trying to introduce a ban on recognition of same-sex love into the Constitution that Lincoln loved so much and defended so well (and also into the constitutions of 11 states through referendums), it seemed to me that the voters had an overriding right to know how, in doing so, the Republicans and their Christian-right allies are wounding the martyr-president squarely in his heart of hearts.
was four years ago?" Viva La France!
France tops sex poll, Asia lags
By Kate Kelland
LONDON (Reuters) - France is well positioned as the world's sexiest state, according to a global survey of lovemaking published on Tuesday.
In a poll of more than 350,000 people, condom maker Durex found that lovers across the globe are having sex an average of 103 times per year, but the French are living up to their romantic reputation with an average of 137 times.
Greeks and Hungarians followed close behind, with averages of 133 and 131 times a year.
Americans, who topped the charts in 2000 at 132 times a year, have since fallen to the middle of the pack scoring just 111 times, suggesting they have either changed their habits in the bedroom or the way they respond to the survey.
They are now tied with Israelis and beat Spaniards by a single extra annual lovemaking bout.
Asian countries lag behind in the love stakes with the Japanese managing just 46 times per year and those in Hong Kong and Singapore just 79 times.
"As it was a Web-based survey, people could be very frank about their sex lives -- possibly even more so than with their partners," said Rosie Lodge, a spokeswoman for Durex.
"The results show the wide spectrum of sexual experience and attitudes across the globe and the high number of respondents ... shows that people are growing increasingly willing to talk about sex and their particular likes and dislikes." Britons lead the pack when it comes to foreplay, devoting an average of 22.5 minutes compared to a global average of 19.7. The fastest lovers were the Thais with just 11.5 minutes.
But despite their efforts on foreplay, Britons appear to be among the least satisfied by their sexual experiences, with a third saying they had faked an orgasm in the last year.
The Macedonians were the most satisfied with only 13 percent saying they had faked an orgasm and the Japanese are the least satisfied at 40 percent.
The survey found that half of all respondents were more worried about HIV/AIDS than any other sexually transmitted disease.
But a troubling 35 percent of people who took part in the survey admitted to having had unprotected sex without knowing their partner's sexual history.
Those most likely to throw caution to the wind were the Danes and the Swedes, both on 64 percent, followed by the Japanese, Norwegians and South Africans, all at 58 percent.
When it comes to spicing up sex lives, pornography emerged as the most popular choice, with more than a third of lovers worldwide admitting to having used porn.
Pleasure-enhancing condoms were second and bondage equipment such as blindfolds and handcuffs third.
Monday, October 25, 2004
A copy of the letter sent by an Iraqi official to international nuclear inspectors to tell them of hundreds of tons of missing explosives.
A 1996 photograph of a bunker where high-density explosives were stored at Al Qaqaa, an Iraqi military facility south of Baghdad
October 25, 2004
his article was reported and written by James Glanz, William J. Broad and David E. Sanger.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 24 - The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations.
The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no man's land, still picked over by looters as recently as Sunday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year.
The White House said
Administration officials said Sunday that the Iraq Survey Group, the C.I.A. task force that searched for unconventional weapons, has been ordered to investigate the disappearance of the explosives.
American weapons experts say their immediate concern is that the explosives could be used in major bombing attacks against American or Iraqi forces: the explosives, mainly HMX and RDX, could produce bombs strong enough to shatter airplanes or tear apart buildings.
The bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 used less than a pound of the same type of material, and larger amounts were apparently used in the bombing of a housing complex in November 2003 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the blasts in a Moscow apartment complex in September 1999 that killed nearly 300 people.
The explosives could also be used to trigger a nuclear weapon, which was why international nuclear inspectors had kept a watch on the material, and even sealed and locked some of it. The other components of an atom bomb - the design and the radioactive fuel - are more difficult to obtain.
"This is a high explosives risk, but not necessarily a proliferation risk," one senior Bush administration official said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency publicly warned about the danger of these explosives before the war, and after the invasion it specifically told United States officials about the need to keep the explosives secured, European diplomats said in interviews last week. Administration officials say they cannot explain why the explosives were not safeguarded, beyond the fact that the occupation force was overwhelmed by the amount of munitions they found throughout the country.
A Pentagon spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, said Sunday evening that Saddam Hussein's government "stored weapons in mosques, schools, hospitals and countless other locations," and that the allied forces "have discovered and destroyed perhaps thousands of tons of ordnance of all types." A senior military official noted that HMX and RDX were "available around the world" and not on the nuclear nonproliferation list, even though they are used in the nuclear warheads of many nations.
The Qaqaa facility, about 30 miles south of Baghdad, was well known to American intelligence officials: Mr. Hussein made conventional warheads at the site, and the I.A.E.A. dismantled parts of his nuclear program there in the early 1990's after the Persian Gulf war in 1991. In the prelude to the 2003 invasion, Mr. Bush cited a number of other "dual use" items - including tubes that the administration contended could be converted to use for the nuclear program - as a justification for invading Iraq.
After the invasion, when widespread looting began in Iraq, the international weapons experts grew concerned that the Qaqaa stockpile could fall into unfriendly hands. In May, an internal I.A.E.A. memorandum warned that terrorists might be helping "themselves to the greatest explosives bonanza in history."
Earlier this month, in a letter to the I.A.E.A. in Vienna, a senior official from Iraq's Ministry of Science and Technology wrote that the stockpile disappeared after early April 2003 because of "the theft and looting of the governmental installations due to lack of security."
In an interview with The Times and "60 Minutes" in Baghdad, the minister of science and technology, Rashad M. Omar, confirmed the facts described in the letter. "Yes, they are missing," Dr. Omar said. "We don't know what happened." The I.A.E.A. says it also does not know, and has reported that machine tools that can be used for either nuclear or non-nuclear purposes have also been looted.
Dr. Omar said that after the American-led invasion, the sites containing the explosives were under the control of the Coalition Provisional Authority, an American-led entity that was the highest civilian authority in Iraq until it handed sovereignty of the country over to the interim government on June 28.
"After the collapse of the regime, our liberation, everything was under the coalition forces, under their control," Dr. Omar said. "So probably they can answer this question, what happened to the materials."
Officials in Washington said they had no answers to that question. One senior official noted that the Qaqaa complex where the explosives were stored was listed as a "medium priority" site on the Central Intelligence Agency's list of more than 500 sites that needed to be searched and secured during the invasion. "Should we have gone there? Definitely," said one senior administration official.
In the chaos that followed the invasion, however, many of those sites, even some considered a higher priority, were never secured.
A No Man's Land
Seeing the ruined bunkers at the vast Qaqaa complex today, it is hard to recall that just two years ago it was part of Saddam Hussein's secret military complex. The bunkers are so large that they are reminiscent of pyramids, though with rounded edges and the tops chopped off. Several are blackened and eviscerated as a result of American bombing. Smokestacks rise in the distance.
Today, Al Qaqaa has become a wasteland generally avoided even by the marines in charge of northern Babil Province. Headless bodies are found there. An ammunition dump has been looted, and on Sunday an Iraqi employee of The New York Times who made a furtive visit to the site saw looters tearing out metal fixtures. Bare pipes within the darkened interior of one of the buildings were a tangled mess, zigzagging along charred walls. Someone fired a shot, probably to frighten the visitors off.
"It's like Mars on Earth," said Maj. Dan Whisnant, an intelligence officer for the Second Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment. "It would take probably 10 battalions 10 years to clear that out."
Mr. Hussein's engineers acquired HMX and RDX when they embarked on a crash effort to build an atomic bomb in the late 1980's. It did not go smoothly.
In 1989, a huge blast ripped through Al Qaqaa, the boom reportedly heard hundreds of miles away. The explosion, it was later determined, occurred when a stockpile of the high explosives ignited.
After the Persian Gulf war in 1991, the United Nations discovered Iraq's clandestine effort and put the United Nations arms agency in charge of Al Qaqaa's huge stockpile. Weapon inspectors determined that Iraq had bought the explosives from France, China and Yugoslavia, a European diplomat said.
None of the explosives were destroyed, arms experts familiar with the decision recalled, because Iraq argued that it should be allowed to keep them for eventual use in mining and civilian construction. But Al Qaqaa was still under the authority of the Military Industrial Council, which ran Iraq's sensitive weapons programs and was led for a time by Hussein Kamel, Mr. Hussein's son-in-law. He defected to the West, then returned to Iraq and was immediately killed.
In 1996, the United Nations hauled away some of the HMX and used it to blow up Al Hakam, a vast Iraqi factory for making germ weapons.
The Qaqaa stockpile went unmonitored from late 1998, when United Nations inspectors left Iraq, to late 2002, when they came back. Upon their return, the inspectors discovered that about 35 tons of HMX were missing. The Iraqis said they had used the explosive mainly in civilian programs.
The remaining stockpile was no secret. Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the arms agency, frequently talked about it publicly as he investigated - in late 2002 and early 2003 - the Bush administration's claims that Iraq was secretly renewing its pursuit of nuclear arms. He ordered his weapons inspectors to conduct an inventory, and publicly reported their findings to the Security Council on Jan. 9, 2003.
During the following weeks, the I.A.E.A. repeatedly drew public attention to the explosives. In New York on Feb. 14, nine days after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell presented his arms case to the Security Council, Dr. ElBaradei reported that the agency had found no sign of new atom endeavors but "has continued to investigate the relocation and consumption of the high explosive HMX."
A European diplomat reported that Jacques Baute, head of the arms agency's Iraq nuclear inspection team, warned officials at the United States mission in Vienna about the danger of the nuclear sites and materials once under I.A.E.A. supervision, including Al Qaqaa.
But apparently, little was done. A senior Bush administration official said that during the initial race to Baghdad, American forces "went through the bunkers, but saw no materials bearing the I.A.E.A. seal." It is unclear whether troops ever returned.
By late 2003, diplomats said, arms agency experts had obtained commercial satellite photos of Al Qaqaa showing that two of roughly 10 bunkers that contained HMX appeared to have been leveled by titanic blasts, apparently during the war. They presumed some of the HMX had exploded, but that is unclear.
Other HMX bunkers were untouched. Some were damaged but not devastated. I.A.E.A. experts say they assume that just before the invasion the Iraqis followed their standard practice of moving crucial explosives out of buildings, so they would not be tempting targets. If so, the experts say, the Iraqi must have broken seals from the arms agency on bunker doors and moved most of the HMX to nearby fields, where it would have been lightly camouflaged - and ripe for looting.
But the Bush administration would not allow the agency back into the country to verify the status of the stockpile. In May 2004, Iraqi officials say in interviews, they warned L. Paul Bremer III, the American head of the occupation authority, that Al Qaqaa had probably been looted. It is unclear if that warning was passed anywhere. Efforts to reach Mr. Bremer by telephone were unsuccessful.
But by the spring of 2004, the Americans were preoccupied with the transfer of authority to Iraq, and the insurgency was gaining strength. "It's not an excuse," said one senior administration official. "But a lot of things went by the boards."
Early this month, Dr. ElBaradei put public pressure on the interim Iraqi government to start the process of accounting for nuclear-related materials still ostensibly under I.A.E.A. supervision, including the Qaqaa stockpile.
"Iraq is obliged," he wrote to the president of the Security Council on Oct. 1, "to declare semiannually changes that have occurred or are foreseen."
The agency, Dr. ElBaradei added pointedly, "has received no such notifications or declarations from any state since the agency's inspectors were withdrawn from Iraq in March 2003."
A Lost Stockpile
Two weeks ago, on Oct. 10, Dr. Mohammed J. Abbas of the Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology wrote a letter to the I.A.E.A. to say the Qaqaa stockpile had been lost. He added that his ministry had judged that an "urgent updating of the registered materials is required."
A chart in his letter listed 341.7 metric tons, about 377 American tons, of HMX, RDX and PETN as missing.
The explosives missing from Al Qaqaa are the strongest and fastest in common use by militaries around the globe. The Iraqi letter identified the vanished stockpile as containing 194.7 metric tons of HMX, which stands for "high melting point explosive," 141.2 metric tons of RDX, which stands for "rapid detonation explosive," among other designations, and 5.8 metric tons of PETN, which stands for "pentaerythritol tetranitrate." The total is roughly 340 metric tons or nearly 380 American tons.
Five days later, on Oct. 15, European diplomats said, the arms agency wrote the United States mission in Vienna to forward the Iraqi letter and ask that the American authorities inform the international coalition in Iraq of the missing explosives.
Dr. ElBaradei, a European diplomat said, is "extremely concerned" about the potentially "devastating consequences" of the vanished stockpile.
Its fate remains unknown. Glenn Earhart, manager of an Army Corps of Engineers program in Huntsville, Ala., that is in charge of rounding up and destroying lost Iraqi munitions, said he and his colleagues knew nothing of the whereabouts of the Qaqaa stockpile.
Administration officials say Iraq was awash in munitions, including other stockpiles of exotic explosives.
"The only reason this stockpile was under seal," said one senior administration official, "is because it was located at Al Qaqaa," where nuclear work had gone on years ago.
As a measure of the size of the stockpile, one large truck can carry about 10 tons, meaning that the missing explosives could fill a fleet of almost 40 trucks.
By weight, these explosives pack far more destructive power than TNT, so armies often use them in shells, bombs, mines, mortars and many types of conventional ordinance.
"HMX and RDX have a lot of shattering power," said Dr. Van Romero, vice president for research at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, or New Mexico Tech, which specializes in explosives.
"Getting a large amount is difficult," he added, because most nations carefully regulate who can buy such explosives, though civilian experts can sometimes get licenses to use them for demolition and mining.
An Immediate Danger
A special property of HMX and RDX lends them to smuggling and terrorism, experts said. While violently energetic when detonated, they are insensitive to shock and physical abuse during handling and transport because of their chemical stability. A hammer blow does nothing. It takes a detonator, like a blasting cap, to release the stored energy.
Experts said the insensitivity made them safer to transport than the millions of unexploded shells, mines and pieces of live ammunition that litter Iraq. And its benign appearance makes it easy to disguise as harmless goods, easily slipped across borders.
"The immediate danger" of the lost stockpile, said an expert who recently led a team that searched Iraq for deadly arms, "is its potential use with insurgents in very small and powerful explosive devices. The other danger is that it can easily move into the terrorist web across the Middle East."
More worrisome to the I.A.E.A. - and to some in Washington - is that HMX and RDX are used in standard nuclear weapons design. In a nuclear implosion weapon, the explosives crush a hollow sphere of uranium or plutonium into a critical mass, initiating the nuclear explosion.
A crude implosion device - like the one that the United States tested in 1945 in the New Mexican desert and then dropped on Nagasaki, Japan - needs about a ton of high explosive to crush the core and start the chain reaction.
James Glanz reported from Baghdad and Yusifiya, Iraq, for this article, William J. Broad from New York and Vienna, and David E. Sanger from Washington and Crawford, Tex. Khalid al-Ansary contributed reporting from Baghdad.
Sunday, October 24, 2004
By Carmel Perez Snyder
Taking a hard line against ads run by Democrat Brad Carson's campaign for the U.S. Senate against Republican candidate Tom Coburn, well-known Focus on the Family founder James Dobson said Friday, "It's wrong. It's evil."
Dobson, who had been stumping for Coburn in Oklahoma since Thursday, said Carson was lying.
"He may very well be a nice man, and I'm not attacking his personhood, but there's a gap between who he says he is and what he does," Dobson said, criticizing Carson for votes on partial-birth abortion and in support of same-sex marriage.
Dobson warned those attending the Friday afternoon rally at Oklahoma Christian University that the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman must be protected.
He cited examples of countries such as Norway that have allowed same-sex couples to marry as proof that fewer men and women get married.
Dobson said 80 percent of children are born out of wedlock in Norway.
"Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage," Dobson said.
"It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth."
Dobson urged rally attendees to reach out to homosexuals and "bring them to Jesus."
He also urged supporters in attendance to fast and pray on the Thursday and weekend before the Nov. 2 election and to go to the polls to elect Coburn to the Senate.
Dobson said a vote for Carson, "even if you think he's right," would be a vote for U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D.; Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.; and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.
"Patrick Leahy is a 'God's people' hater," Dobson said.
"I don't know if he hates God, but he hates God's people."
Dobson said Coburn was exactly the kind of senator Oklahoma needs.
"I am passionate in my support of Dr. Tom Coburn," Dobson said.
"This man absolutely has to be sent back to Washington."
Also on hand to support Coburn, U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Warr Acres, said more lawmakers who believe in "the divine origins of the country" are needed.
Coburn said he respected Dobson and was proud to have his endorsement.