Click. Wen Ho Lee's Wife Worked for the CIA

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Click.  High Court Ruling May Rewrite Sentencing.


U.S. gives contracts despite fraud cases, an analysis reveals
BY JOHN SOLOMON AND KATHERINE PFLEGER © 2000 7/24/00 Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of companies prosecuted or sued on allegations of defrauding the government still can receive federal business -- and many have gotten new contracts -- because agencies chose not to ban them, a computer analysis shows.

Of 1,020 companies identified as having been sued or prosecuted for alleged fraud over the past five years, 737 remain eligible for future contracts, an Associated Press investigation found. The companies were identified using court records, news stories, government documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and inspector general reports.

The investigation found that enforcement of the government's ban on fraudulent contractors varied considerably among federal agencies. Some companies that were in trouble simply changed their names to get around the restrictions. And larger companies with lots of money to defend themselves apparently were better able to fend off disqualification than smaller contractors.

The companies that were accused of fraud yet remain eligible for contracts range from a Texas contractor convicted of selling faulty Coast Guard windshields to an environmental cleanup company convicted of bribery.

Guilty pleas

One company, Saybolt Inc., a petroleum products inspection company based in Houston, pleaded guilty in 1998 to submitting false lab analyses to the Environmental Protection Agency. The company also admitted to arranging a $50,000 bribe to Panama's government.

At the time of the plea, government officials spared few words for a company they said ``betrayed the public's trust and cheated all of us.'' But the agency did not ban the company from future business, even though the judge who fined the company $4.9 million suggested it as a possible punishment.

EPA and company officials said Saybolt got another chance because it was taken over by new management and implemented state-of-the-art technology to ensure its tests are not rigged.

``The government does set a high standard when they don't debar a company, and that is rightfully so,'' Saybolt general counsel John Denson said. ``We were fortunate as new management of Saybolt to demonstrate our commitment to those high standards.''

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has tried to highlight the contracting problem for a decade.

``There is a continuing pattern of fraud and abuse in some of our largest contractors. The American people have every right to be outraged at this,'' he said.

Harkin assembled a list of 103 defense contracts in which the government was defrauded. Only four cases led to bans.

The Associated Press review also found many examples.

Stewart & Stevenson Services of Houston was indicted in 1995 on allegations of conspiracy, fraud and making false statements involving a contract to provide generator equipment to the Air Force. The government temporarily suspended the company, which reached a plea deal and paid $7 million in criminal penalties and restitution.

The company got its suspension lifted by signing an ``administrative agreement'' and promising to change its business practices.

It recently ran into trouble with the government again.

After receiving a $1.4 billion contract to build 5,000 Army trucks and 1,000 trailers, the company produced trucks with faulty drive shafts that caused one truck to flip and another to land on its side. The Army said the vehicles could not be driven above 30 mph until Stewart & Stevenson fixed the problem. The company wants the Army to cover the $40 million repair bill.

Perkins Aircraft Services of Fort Worth remains eligible for federal business even after pleading guilty in late 1997 to falsely representing that it repaired 14 windshields for Coast Guard rescue jets when the windshields were not airworthy.

Owner Jim Perkins blamed the problem on a fired employee.

Widening the net

Vice President Al Gore wants to expand the federal disqualification system to exclude businesses with troublesome labor or worker safety records.

Harkin scoffs at the idea of expanding a program he feels cannot keep up with the current workload.

``We don't have the resources to do something like that,'' he said.

Federal officials offer many reasons why contractors remain eligible. Some agencies work at it only part time, such as the Interior Department, which bans only a few companies every three or four years.

In contrast, the Veterans Affairs Department has banned about 700 companies and aggressively audits its contractors. If fraud is detected, ``unless you are looking at the second coming of Christ, then you will get debarred,'' said Gary Krump, a deputy assistant secretary.

At the Pentagon, contractors often have a specialty service with no competitors, and banning them is deemed to hurt national security.

Many health care companies, such as nursing homes accused of defrauding Medicare, are not banned because officials fear their patients will be penalized.

About 24,000 companies or individuals are barred from doing business with the government for infractions that range from drug-free-workplace laws to embezzlement and contract fraud. The bans can range from indefinite to just a few years.

Bad contractors sometimes slip through with a simple name change.

Environmental Health Research and Testing in Lexington, Ky., and one member of the Sabharwal family, which controlled the company, were banned from government business after being convicted of bribing officials in 1995.

A name change

Rather than shut it down, the family drained the company's assets and went back to federal contracting under the name Environmental Chemical Corp., prosecutors allege.

By the start of this year, ECC had secured about $55 million in new federal contracts.

The review suggests the debarment program catches many smaller companies on their first offenses while larger, richer companies preserve eligibility despite multiple lawsuits and criminal charges.

Alliant Techsystems in Hopkins, Minn., was sued three times by the government in the 1990s. The company paid $12 million to settle environmental claims and $4.5 million to settle charges that managers told workers to charge inflated work hours on defense missile contracts.

Separately, the company also paid $228,750 to settle allegations it overcharged the government in an $82 million tank ammunition contract.

Alliant has received $723.6 million in new contracts in 2000 alone. The company says two cases came with subsidiaries it purchased, and all were settled to avoid litigation.

In contrast, Kenneth Hansen, an Abilene, Kan., dentist who provided care to low-income patients, was banned indefinitely from government contracting in the mid-1990s for defaulting on dental school loans. The government, which says he owes about $164,800, even sent letters to his Medicare patients.

``It makes it kind of tough to maintain a practice in a small town with that type of publicity going on,'' Hansen said

High Court Ruling May Rewrite Sentencing

A largely overlooked U.S. Supreme Court decision has called into question the sentences of tens of thousands of federal prisoners and threatens to swamp
prosecutors and the court system with thousands of appeals.

The seemingly isolated ruling struck down a New Jersey hate crimes law that increased prison time for conduct never considered by a jury. But last week, a U.S. appeals court ruled that the same principle applies in thousands of federal drug cases, and analysts believe that dozens of other state and federal statutes may be unconstitutional based on the ruling.

In the long run, some analysts and prosecutors say, the June 26 decision also could jeopardize federal sentencing guidelines and similar state systems. "Everybody and their brother is going to challenge their sentence, as well they should," said University of Texas law professor Susan Klein, a former federal prosecutor. She and a colleague have identified 39 federal and 20 state laws that may be unconstitutional under the decision. "It's just going to be a disaster."

Indeed, the U.S. Department of Justice convened an emergency committee to study
the ramifications, defense attorneys are using the case in their appeals, and
federal circuit courts around the country are bracing for a flood of new cases.

At issue in the 5 to 4 decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey is how much leeway judges
have in sentencing defendants to additional time based on facts that were not part
of a criminal indictment and were never voted on by a jury. The court ruled that the Sixth Amendment bars judges from going above the statutory maximum sentence by using such extra evidence, which may include motive, weapon used or volume of drugs sold.

That case--and the high court's June 29 decision to send a Colorado drug case back
for reconsideration--gives hope to many of the 61,000 federal prisoners serving
drug-related sentences. Thousands of other state and federal sentences may be too
long as well.

"It's a case of enormous potential importance and we're going to have to spend a lot of time dealing with it," said Edward R. Becker, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, which covers New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

Locally, the 4th Circuit, which covers Virginia, Maryland and three other states, has at least five appeals under consideration based on the decision. Federal judges and prosecutors are beginning to handle jury instructions and grand jury indictments differently to take into account the new standard.

Helen F. Fahey, the U.S. attorney for Eastern Virginia, said she expects her office to handle an enormous number of so-called Apprendi appeals. "We'll be spending more
time working cases that we have already done rather than new cases coming in the
door," she said.

Nationally, the Justice Department is also assessing the impact.

The decision drew little public attention initially because it was handed down the same week as rulings in long-awaited cases such as the one that upheld Miranda warnings about the right to remain silent during police interrogation, one that rejected a Nebraska law prohibiting what opponents call "partial birth" abortions and a third that said the Boy Scouts of America have a right to bar gays.

In Apprendi, the Supreme Court found that, on its face, the New Jersey law was
unconstitutional because it allowed a judge to give a defendant more time on a firearms charge than the statutory maximum after finding that the crime was
racially motivated.

The implications are much broader, judges, lawyers and analysts agree. "Other than
the fact of a prior conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt," said the decision written by Justice John Paul Stevens.

That principle is only fair, say defense attorneys, who have argued for years that it is wrong to give their clients more time based on evidence never considered by a jury.

"Right now, you can be sentenced for conduct you've been acquitted of, if the judge
rules it is true by preponderance of the evidence," said Alexandria lawyer James
Clark. "The only thing that's a mystery to me is that the Supreme Court has taken
so long to do something about it."

Last week, the 8th Circuit Court--the first federal appeals court to consider the
issue--found that the new rules in Apprendi apply to federal drug cases. Under current practices, drug sentences are determined largely by the amount and kind of drugs involved, but juries usually decide only whether a defendant has sold or possessed drugs. A judge then decides the quantities based on a presentence report from a probation officer.

That system is unconstitutional when the drug amounts bump up the potential maximum
sentence, the 8th Circuit Court found.

That could be good news for Marion Promise, 45, who is serving a 30-year sentence in
a federal prison in South Carolina. Promise was convicted last year based on the
testimony of other drug dealers and was never caught with cocaine, according to
court records.

His attorney appealed based on a footnote in a 1999 Supreme Court carjacking case.
"We argued that the amount of cocaine he was held responsible for was a jury issue,"
said attorney Gary Murphy.

The 4th Circuit rejected that claim in June--two weeks before the Supreme Court
made that same footnote the centerpiece of the majority opinion in Apprendi. Now Murphy has asked the Richmond-based appeals court to reconsider.

Murphy isn't the only one jumping on the issue. Greenbelt lawyer Fred Warren Bennett said he recently received a call from a former client, now incarcerated, asking him to file an appeal based on the case. "It's spreading like wildfire in the federal prison system," Bennett said. "There's going to be a lot of litigation."

Virginia Beach lawyer Keith Kimball has filed Apprendi-related appeals on behalf
of three clients, arguing that their convictions--as well as their sentences--are invalid because the jury never ruled on specific drug amounts.

Fahey, whose office is responding to Kimball's cases, said she believes that most
drug sentences will eventually be upheld because relatively few sentences exceed
the statutory maximums. She also said her office is taking steps to ensure that new cases conform to last month's decision.

Two weeks ago, prosecutors in Alexandria asked U.S. District Judge Leonie M.
Brinkema to tell jurors that they needed to decide specifically whether Darwyn Payne possessed five grams or more of cocaine. The jury convicted him, and Brinkema publicly praised the prosecutors for addressing the issues raised by Apprendi.

The case will have less of an impact on state court cases in Maryland and Virginia,
officials said. In Maryland, juries determine drug amounts, and Virginia is one of the few states where juries--rather than judges--set the maximum penalty. The District is awaiting guidance from the Justice Department on Apprendi's impact, said Channing Phillips, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.

Some legal scholars believe that the Apprendi case may be the beginning of a
revolution in criminal sentencing.

At least two justices--Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia--said in concurrences that
they want juries to rule on all facts that increase prison time, not just those that push a sentence past a statutory maximum. That position could undercut mandatory sentencing guidelines that provide for increased penalties based on factors
determined by a judge rather than a jury.

The court majority specifically chose not to address the issue of sentencing
guidelines, but if Thomas and Scalia can get three more votes, most federal
sentences handed down since 1987--and many state sentences--could be invalid.
Issues such as increased time for harming vulnerable victims and longer sentences
for abusing a position of responsibility might then have to go to a jury rather than a judge, analysts said.

That would cause chaos, said the dissenting Supreme Court justices. "Jury determination of all sentencing related facts . . . unless restricted, threatens the workability of every criminal justice system . . . [and] threatens efforts to make those systems more uniform" with sentencing guidelines, wrote Stephen G. Breyer, an early member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. 

But William W. Wilkins Jr., the commission's first chairman, said he believes that the guidelines will survive. "My reading of Apprendi leads me to conclude this decision will not have a dramatic effect," said Wilkins, a 4th Circuit Court judge. "It does not apply to many factors found in the guidelines, such as role in the offense."

What happens next remains to be seen. "Maybe the justices have reached their fill just as the prisons have reached theirs," said Alexandria defense attorney John Zwerling. "They're starting to realize that you can't put everybody in prison for their rest of their lives."

By Norman Solomon © 2000   /   Creators Syndicate

    Once again, Americans will be watching the extravaganzas known as the Republican and Democratic national conventions, this time in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Both events are underwritten by business patrons; both cities are notorious for police misconduct. Hospitality and brutality -- the contrasts could hardly be more extreme.

    As thousands of delegates and journalists converge on the City of Brotherly Love in eastern Pennsylvania, the welcome mat is embossed with great riches. The Republican convention beginning Monday is brought to you by movers and shakers of Wall Street.

    The Grand Old Party's jamboree will cost in excess of $50 million, mostly supplied via corporate donations. The same sort of financing is in the pipeline for the Democratic convention (estimated price: $35 million) a couple of weeks later. The symmetry of the largess is breathtaking.

    US Airways "has contributed $500,000 to the GOP convention, at a time when it is lobbying for support of its merger with United Airlines, which is a $500,000 contributor to the Democratic National Convention," the Center for Responsive Politics explains. The spirit is often bipartisan. "Dozens of the nation's biggest companies, many of which have major issues pending before Congress, are lining up to help foot the bill for this year's conventions, some writing seven-figure checks to each of the events' local
host committees."

    Several of those checks are from multimedia giants. After using mergers to become a dominant provider of cable and broadband Internet access, AT&T chose to split $2 million evenly between the conventions. The huge firm is eager to keep federal regulators off its back.

    Titans of the telephone service biz have been quite generous. The Republican convention received $1 million from Verizon Communications (formerly Bell Atlantic). The Democratic convention got a million bucks from SBC Communications -- which wants Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to let Baby Bells get into the long-distance
phone business.

    Microsoft gave $1 million to each party's convention. Wonder why.

    Delegates and journalists enjoy plenty of perks at the conventions. The parties tend toward the opulent, with lots of catered food and drink. It's a festive atmosphere, with privilege in the air.

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the media tracks, 2 million people take their meals inside America's prisons and jails. How they got there, and what happens when they're behind bars, is mostly out of media sight and mind. Occasionally the coverage explores well beyond cliches and stereotypes, but generally it's superficial and fleeting. Maybe, for the most part, we'd rather not know.

    Scandals about police brutality and fraud -- plaguing Philadelphia, Los Angeles and other cities -- make headlines from time to time. Yet little seems to change in a criminal justice process filled with systemic racism. The dragnet is extremely skewed. For instance, 15 percent of the nation's drug users are African Americans -- but they account for 33 percent of drug possession arrests. One-third of the young black men in this country are locked up, on probation or on parole.

    "We are seeing the media cheerlead for the erasure and the erosion of basic human rights and civil liberties," says Van Jones, director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. "If this were happening in any other country in the world, this incredible militarization of the police, the incredible expansion of police power, the increase in police weaponry, the decrease in defendants' rights, the incredible stockpiling of bodies behind prison walls, we'd be screaming."

    But evasion is easier. "Much of America remains in denial about the magnitude of police brutality, reflecting a historical pattern that continued throughout the 20th century," journalist Jill Nelson observes in the introduction to the new anthology "Police Brutality." She writes that "abuse by the police is common in black, Latino, and other minority communities."

    After videotape of Philadelphia police officers beating a black suspect appeared on TV screens nationwide in mid-July, Nelson commented: "Clearly, there is a problem when it comes to policing citizens of color and respecting our constitutional rights. ... It is time we look at re-imagining and retraining the police as to what their role is in a
democratic society."

    And just as clearly, it is also time we look at re-imagining and retraining lawmakers, judges -- and journalists. Whether or not the comfortable have enough comforts, the abused have certainly endured untold abuse. While media conglomerates help to produce the major party conventions, the voices we most need to hear are elsewhere.

Norman Solomon is a syndicated columnist. His latest book is "The Habits of  Highly Deceptive Media.

'Man-boy love' suit becoming a class action
By Cheryl Wetzstein © 2000, THE WASHINGTON TIMES 7/24/00

     A wrongful-death lawsuit filed this spring against a national "man-boy love" organization may be expanded into a class-action suit, says the lawyer for a family whose son was murdered by men involved with the group.
     Based on other child-rape cases being gathered, "it is anticipated that a class-action lawsuit will eventually be added to this litigation on behalf of the thousands of children who are raped each year by NAMBLA members," said Lawrence W. Frisoli, an attorney for the family of Jeffrey Curley of East Cambridge, Mass.
     NAMBLA refers to the North American Man-Boy Love Association. The secretive group, which has addresses in New York and San Francisco, says it "speaks out against societal repression and celebrates the joys of men and boys in love."
     NAMBLA spokesmen could not be reached, and its Web site ( was not operating last week.
     Anti-pornography experts said the legal efforts against NAMBLA are unprecedented and will be closely watched.
     The civil lawsuit was filed by the family of 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley, whose body was found in October 1997 floating in a tub of cement in a river. The fifth-grader had vanished a few days earlier.
     Two college-age neighbors, Salvatore Sicari and Charles Jaynes, were later convicted of kidnapping and murdering the boy.
     Sicari confessed that he and Jaynes had lured Jeffrey into their car by promising to buy him a bike. When Jeffrey resisted Jaynes' sexual advances, Jaynes suffocated him with a gasoline-soaked rag and sexually abused him.
     The men put Jeffrey's body in a tub with concrete and threw it in a river.
     In May, Jeffrey's family filed wrongful death charges against NAMBLA, seven of its leaders and an unidentified Internet service provider because, Mr. Frisoli said, the murderers had a clear "tie-in" to them.
     "Very frequently, children are raped by NAMBLA members, but the question is, is there a causal connection to the organization itself?" he asked.
     In the Curley case, "Charles Jaynes maintained a diary," said Mr. Frisoli. "And in his own handwriting, he says that reading the NAMBLA Bulletin and his exposure to NAMBLA helped him come to terms, psychologically and emotionally, with his urge to rape children."
     Mr. Frisoli said he is collecting similar evidence in other cases for a potential class-action suit.
     Robert Peters, president of Morality in Media in New York, said that recent legal victories over the Ku Klux Klan may set the stage for a victory against NAMBLA.
     The Southern Law Poverty Center successfully sued KKK leaders, not for their personal acts of violence, but "by holding them responsible for what their members are doing — for the acts of their followers," said Mr. Peters, a veteran opponent of obscenity.
     "If it can be done against the Klan, it seems to me that . . . it should be possible to win against NAMBLA," said Mr. Peters.
     "I think it's about time someone tried" to get a class-action lawsuit against NAMBLA, said Bruce A. Taylor, president of the National Law Center for Children and Families and a leading prosecutor of obscenity cases.
     A lawsuit against NAMBLA has a legal advantage in that child pornography is unprotected speech and therefore illegal, he said, noting that civil lawsuits against other pornography purveyors ran into protected-speech issues.

Wen Ho Lee's Wife Worked for the CIA

Sunday, July 23, 2000 

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Wen Ho Lee's wife worked for the CIA, a revelation that could undermine the government's case against the scientist accused of breaching security at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the San Jose Mercury News reported Sunday.

Citing unnamed congressional, intelligence and other sources, the newspaper said Sylvia Lee supplied information about Chinese scientists to a CIA officer when she was a secretary at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the 1980s. She worked as liaison between the lab and visiting delegations, the newspaper said.

Also, the newspaper said, Wen Ho Lee, who worked at the lab for nearly 20 years, and his wife met with a CIA official before they went to China in 1986, a trip federal prosecutors have called suspicious.

CIA spokesman Bill Harlow told The Associated Press he had not seen the article.

''I can't discuss specifics of it because it is a matter currently before the courts,'' Harlow said, ''but I can assure you she didn't work for the CIA.''

Wen Ho Lee's lawyer Mark Holscher has portrayed Lee and his wife as loyal Americans who did undercover work for the FBI.

A call to Holscher's office was not immediately returned Sunday. Wen Ho Lee attorney John Cline declined to comment, and another Wen Ho Lee attorney, Brian Sun, declined comment until he could talk to his clients. The U.S. Attorney's office also could not be reached on Sunday.

Lee is jailed in New Mexico awaiting a November trial on charges that he mishandled classified data. Although he has been investigated for spying, he has not been charged with espionage.

For a conviction, prosecutors must convince a jury that Lee took data with the intent to harm the United States or aid another country.

Sylvia Lee has not been charged.

© Copyright 2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

07/22/00--Whitley's Journal: A World In Chaos by Whitley Streiber © 2000

The world's weather is deteriorating much more rapidly than Art Bell and I ever dreamed possible when we were writing the Coming Global  Superstorm. At the same time, the media and the government continue to  take a wait-and-see posture. Worse, at a time when our world and our country are going to need imaginative and effective leadership, the only  people who have any chance at gaining the U.S. Presidency are far from dynamic and will crumble under the pressure that the next few years are going to bring.

The situation is so bad right now that it takes my breath away. It's much, much worse than I ever dreamed possible. Essentially, the reason is that crucial currents, especially in the northern oceans, are under attack  from very rapid climate change. As Superstorm points out, when these currents change course, the world's climate is drastically altered.

Whether a gigantic storm or series of storms is involved or not, there is going to be a cascade of climatic change accompanied by extraordinary weather violence over the next few years. I feel that the process has already started, and much earlier than we imagined possible just twelve months ago.

It is difficult to believe that last summer we were finishing Superstorm and I was wondering what kind of a timeline would be involved. I never dreamed that the changes that have come roaring at us like a hurricane since November would proceed this fast. But they have.  It does not now appear that there will be any warning. TBS, which bought Superstorm to make into a two-hour TV movie, is now dragging its heels, so even that chance of that level of warning is apparently going to be lost. In my worst nightmares, I fear that Ted Turner might have bought it just to take it out of the public eye. In any case, once the script outline was sent to his main story editor-with a recommendation from those below that the script be written-there was only silence in reply. 

Turner used to be a strong proponent of environmental action. But people change. Is he, now that the situation is getting desperate, becoming indifferent?

When we published Superstorm in January, we suffered general derision. This was despite the fact that the science of our basic theory-that fresh water flooding into the northern oceans can result in changes in current flows, with resultant drastic and sudden climate change-is not even controversial. As we point out in the book, it has been well established that this phenomenon has appeared before, and with powerful 

The media, led by the Today's show's Matt Lauer, chose to pretend that the solid science in our book was nothing more than fear mongering and hucksterism. As Art and I struggled through the interview with Lauer, I realized that we were sitting side-by-side with a human being who was, through arrogance and ignorance, doing something terribly evil. Lauer is not a brilliant man and has no idea of the consequences of his own irresponsible actions. He was just parroting the silliness of an equally limited young producer. But the effect was to mute our warning-in effect, to respond to our call to action with snickering indifference and silence.

Now, why has that position turned out to be so terribly, terribly wrong. Superstorm could have been the focal point of a whole new kind of environmental action. Instead, it has been ignored by those who might have reacted to its warnings and enacted its recommendations.Because of people like Lauer and the various book reviewers who treated it in an equally dismissive manner, the danger that the book points to is being overlooked even though it now appears to be roaring straight into our faces like a monster tornado.

The most serious problems are these:

1. Temperature differences between the northern and southern tiers of the northern hemisphere are becoming extreme. This means that substantial potential energy is gathering, and weather patterns have the potential to change radically. Already, situations have existed this summer where there were temperatures in the 40s being recorded in Moscow while, in Greece, it was 120. The same phenomenon took place in the United States, with temperatures of 106 being reached in North Texas when it was in the 30s in Minnesota.

2. The temperature gradient between the troposphere and the upper atmosphere is getting more and more extreme. This is partly the reason that there is so much concern about contrails. High altitude contrails do not dissipate nearly as quickly as they used to, because the air through which the planes is traveling is so much colder. Although this obviously does not explain all of the low-altitude contrails being reported, it is an indication that another serious climate extreme is building, and rapidly. Because the air near the ground is so warm and the upper atmosphere so cold, there is more energy than ever before to drive cloud tops to extreme height. An outcome of this phenomenon was seen when unprecedented eight-pound blocks of hail fell in Spain last year. It is also in part responsible for the tendency of rain to deluge when it comes at all, and for extremely intense tornadoes and hurricanes to develop.

3. Both poles are in a rapid melt phase that was completely unpredicted by science as recently as three years ago. Just in the past few months, record-breaking icebergs have detached from the Antarctic. This is due to warmer Antarctic summers and generally warmer water underlying the floating ice shelves that surround the continent. The temperature differences seem small, but they are having a large effect. In addition, 
when these icebergs melt, they deposit trillions of gallons of fresh water into the southern ocean. This increases the rate of heat exchange in the water, meaning that the water becomes warmer in the Austral summer (the Northern Hemisphere's winter). Reduced temperature difference between polar and tropical oceans results in weaker currents.  Also, the floating ice shelves are part of what keeps the ice sheets that cover the Antarctic continent stable. As they weaken, the potential for glaciers to slide into the sea rises. If this happens on a large scale in the Antarctic or Greenland, or both, sea levels would rise.

4. The Arctic is in even worse shape than the Antarctic. The north polarcap is melting, with some ill-informed scientists cheerfully predicting the opening of the fabled northeast passage next summer. 

(They generally work for oil companies, who will be able to ship product  from Norway to Japan, for example, much more cheaply across this northern route through what is now permanent polar ice.) In fact, the melting of this polar cap is flooding the northern ocean with fresh water. Combined with this, the Greenland ice sheet is also melting to 
the tun of 50 billion gallons of water a year. Between the melt of the north polar cap and the Greenland ice sheet, an unprecedented and unexpectedly massive flow of fresh water is pouring into arctic waters. At the same time, higher than normal winds are blowing across the region, as they have been for some years, increasing melt rates and transferring more and more warmth to the oceans. This combination of factors is changing ocean conditions so rapidly that there is every reason to be concerned that crucial ocean currents are now at serious and immediate risk.

5. Indeed, there is evidence that current flows are changing and weakening right now. Last year, scientists at the University of Norway reported that the surface flow of the North Atlantic Current was weakening. More recently, there have been reports that the flow of the Labrador current is being affected by areas of very warm water.  All of these factors point in the same direction: the flow of the world's oceans, upon which our present climate depends, is potentially going to change, and sooner rather than later. Because our book was not understood and generally rejected, the danger that this poses continues to be ignored.If this happens, there could easily be a release of energy that would look very much like the superstorm we predicted. Or it could be that a series of unconnected but extremely violent storms would take place. In either 
case, the changed flow of the oceans will leave behind a whole different climactic structure on earth. There is no way to predict alterations in growing seasons. There is no way to predict the effect this will have on planetary geopolitics. But there is one thing that is clear: all of these effects will be dramatic.

The last time that Greenland and Antarctic ice cores tell us that this happened was at the climax of a post-glacial warming trend around 11,000years ago. There is substantial evidence from the fossil record that the northern hemisphere got very much colder, possibly over the course of a single season, and that this situation remained in effect for at least two hundred years. Were the same conditions to occur now, even without an initiating superstorm, there would be a resultant dieback of our species due to famine, and along with it extraordinary social upheaval.This is because the most drastic changes in climate will take place in the most advanced cultural areas, specifically North America and-most dangerously-Europe.

Europe is in extremely serious danger, and climactic conditions that have been occurring there since the storms of late 1999 would suggest that changes in the North Atlantic Current are already having an effect. Northern and southern European weather systems are now radically different and radically at odds. While the Balkans and Greece were sweltering in record-breaking heat and roads were literally melting in 
Turkey, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia were experiencing a cold,  dank winter marked by pluvial deluges, floods and mudslides.

Even without a superstorm, crops have been harmed across Europe by these adverse weather conditions. While Europe does not contribute massively to world food supplies, it does, for the most part, feed itself. Most European countries are net food exporters. Should extensive crop failures take place there, Europe will begin to attempt food importation. Prices will rise. Countries like the United States will be faced with issues like breaking contracts already in place to supply foodstuffs to present deficit countries to feed Europe, leaving those countries to face famine on their own.

I would submit that this will pose the greatest leadership challenge in modern history, greater even than that faced during World War II. This challenge is liable to develop within the next few years. The idea of what will happen when George Bush or Al Gore attempt to meet it is sobering indeed. While both of these men seem to be earnest and decent enough, they are politicians rather than leaders. What this means is that they are geared to serve the interests that support them first, and the commonweal second, if at all. Thus, Bush serves big business and Gore serves big government and big labor. Nobody serves the real biggie-us, the big majority.

The situation was in a very similar situation in the late nineteenth century, when presidents were being elected who were generally political animals. However, we are now potentially facing a crisis of incredible proportions that no political animal is going to be equipped to meet. This is especially true because it is going to completely blindside the leadership.

Scientists, concerned for their careers, generally will not make radical predictions of any kind, even when they know the seriousness of the situation. This duty has fallen to a couple of personalities, myself and Art Bell, whom the establishment dismisses as professional alarmists who make a business of trading on people's fears. This is why Matt Lauer, the ultimate establishment spokesman, treated us as he did. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding of us has led to a situation where a sort of environmental Pearl Harbor could occur, with the suddenly changing flow of the North Atlantic Current playing the role of the surprise attack.

Only the difference is that, in this case, the antagonist is going to 
win. Nature always does.

--Whitley Strieber