Washington, Beijing and Rangoon were all most eager to cover up the causes, consequences, and outcomes of the devastating cyclone Nargis in April 2008, and the earthquake in Sichuan ten days later, but all for very different reasons.
America was understandably most eager to hide the means by which it had wrought these disasters, what it had achieved by them, and the massive collateral destruction which had resulted in a most false, self-serving way to its biggest global challenger and its most self-assured ally. Beijing wanted a similar cover up to hide the process by which it had opened itself up to this most damaging strategic setback to its nuclear deterrent, the personnel responsible for making them, and the means of delivering them at the hands of the Americans, one whose consequences would plague the regime for years to come. The Burmese junta had been taught that its insulated relationship with China was a two-way street which could result in terrible consequences, and leave it with no recourse if it or its patrons stepped unduly on the toes of America's empire.
Washington was eager to portray the cyclone and earthquake as simply natural disasters which neither Myanmar nor Beijing had properly anticipated and prepared for - unlike what Bangladesh and Thailand had down in the wake of Indian Ocean tsunamis, and Iran had done after the 1990, 2003 and 2006 earthquakes. The Bush administration concentrated on reporting the thousands of children killed in the disasters, especially those 8,000 or so killed when eight schools around Mianyang were simply crushed by falling rock. There was no account of the 80,000 others who died when their offices, living quarters, testing laboratories, nuclear manufacturing and storage plants, rocket launching sites, etc., were simply swallowed up or smashed in the ensuing collapse of the whole area. And these were among the most skilled people China had in making, testing and producing its strategic arms, the core of its whole defense establishment.
Beijing was similarly inclined to explain away the vast destruction as just another natural disaster, though it was most desirous of learning the full scope of its destruction - what the imagery people of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) were most happy to supply. Of course, it gave the ignorant public the false impression that the USA had had nothing to do with its cause. China was particularly interested in knowing how badly its underground nuclear facilities, and its dams in the region had been damaged, fearing that even more destruction was imminent. In doing so, NRO Director Scott Large -who had served on its Imagery System Operations and Acquisitions Directorate, and was noted for coordinating its efforts with all its revelant intelligence community partners - was providing the Air Force with all the information it needed to assess what its Misty satellite laser had wrought.
The Burmese junta was still in the dark about what had hit it. It struggled to admit the number of casualities, and damaged done by the cyclone, only really opening its doors to relief efforts after the Chinese earthquake. Meanwhile, Washington played its cat-and-mouse game with Rangoon about relief efforts, claiming that it would only provide help through its own agents for fear that the junta would distribute it only for its own benefit. When the earthquake in Sichuan occurred, cutting off almost all Chinese assistance, the junta was eager for any help it could get, and Washington
responded accordingly, raising its measly offers of a little over $3 million to $43 million. The prey seemed to be making itself more vulnerable by accepting those offering gifts.
When these coverup efforts still did not quiet claims that these most suspicious disasters should have been at least anticipated if not predicted, and much less devastation caused, particularly an estimated 300,000 deaths, Beijing's interest in having high-definition images to better assess the damage began to create dangerous blowback as they started appearing on internet sites despite its efforts to prevent it. Especially troubling were those of the Zipingpu Dam since accommodating seismologists on both sides of the new Iron Curtain were trying to still claims that the earthquake was deliberately man-made, and should have been predicted because they showed that it had not really been seriously
damaged. In fact, it had been opened to the public so that it could better meet its personal needs while the Red Army battled to prevent the river's backup from drowning what was left of Dujiangyan.
While the photographs of all this appeared on cryptome.org, and other Western internet sites despite Beijing's efforts, they soon disappeared in the West because of pressure, apparently from the NRO, because they apparently disclosed too much. For their current status, see these links:
Now they disclose hardly anything at all about strategic infrastructure damage, only individual deaths, injuries, mourning, dwelling destruction and the like.
And the red-herring about the Zipingpu dam causing the earthquake soon lost much of its persuasiveness when neither it nor any of the other 366 dams in the area collapsed. The biggest fault in the claim is that the dam had nowhere near enough water at the dam to be unsafe. The depth of the water was only 120 meters, far below what scientists concerned about its possible role in earthquake recommended - no more than 300 meters of water. To still save the claim as the real cause, they then went on to talk about the millions of tons of water backed up behind the dam. For more on the government-sponsored diversion, see this link:
Just to make sure that Washington had control of the coverup, it then indicted Dr. J. Reece Roth, the plasma expert, for providing Beijing with vital information about it, as if the Chinese had somehow been able to use it in preventing the earthquake. The case was an open-and-shut one as Roth's alleged co-conspirator Max Sherman, also working with Atmospheric Glow Technology, Inc., had pled guilty on April 15, 2008 to violating the Arms Export Control Act. The most serious charge against Roth was that he had allowed a Chinese graduate assistant, Xin Dai, access to 15 Defense Department articles about plasmas in his research. The government had entrapped the naive Roth no matter what, even if it had decided to cause another earthquake in Iran instead of in China as he also had an Iranian research assistant.
The Justice Department still dragged out Roth's easy prosecution, certain conviction and lengthy sentencing until the dangers of the whole space warfare program being exposed had passed.
Then Naomi Klein kicked in her two cents' worth about these natural disasters, making it crystal clear that both Nargis and the earthquake had certainly been due to God's orders, not Bush's. In the June 2nd issue of The Nation, she wrote that their occurrence reminded her of what a Guangzhou-based surveillance company had been doing in the area of crowd control for the Beijing government rather than what Washington had been doing to promote disaster capitalism. "Of course," she added conveniently to spread the damage, "surveillance cameras have other uses too - like helping to make 'Most Wanted' posters of Tibetan activists."
The terrible result was allegedly because of Beijing's trying to build up too fast as a world power, especially in the construction of its Olympic Stadium. "But when China comes tumbling down -including at least eight schools - the truth," she added, "has a way of escaping." In alluding to the death of China's children, she failed to mention the other 80,000 persons killed, especially in its scientific and engineering elites. As for Burma, according to her, the cyclone's killing of 145,000 people plus had worked to the junta's advantage, like the coup did in Pinochet's Chile, by opening up the country to disaster capitalism. "This isn't incompetence, or even madness, It's laissez-faire ethnic cleansing."
The only downside of the disasters to their self-serving leaderships, she concluded, was that they had exposed the weaknesses of these autocratic regimes - what blogs and reporters, even state-sponsored ones, are going wild to exploit by their reporting. "This may be the greatest threat that natural disasters pose to repressive regimes."
With America apparently off the hook in every way about what happened, it was hardly surprising that the Pentagon started disposing of the culprits to establish a clean slate in such matters for the new administration whether it be Senator Obama or McCain. A few days later, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates asked for the resignations of Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne, and Chief of Staff General Michael Moseley, justifying their termination after an investigation by Admiral Kirkland Donald into an errant shipment of nuclear missile fuses instead of helicopter parts to Taiwan in 2006, and a B-2 bomber flying across the States with six unknown nuclear missiles on board a year later.
It all seemed a bit bizarre since Admiral Donald had not been asked to investigate the knocking dowm on the Misty satellite, and the subsequent destruction of a B-2 bomber in Guam which had just occurred - what was either caused by débris from the smashed Misty, or was deliberately caused to make the Air Force look like it was hopelessly out of control in anticipation of the operations against Burma and China. Furthermore, it seemed most contrived to blame the Secretary and the Chief of Staff in Washington, who had most difficult positions to coordinate their planning of new
equipment and seeing to their use in operations with other agencies, for a routine sales error and a tactical nuclear mishap. It almost seemed as if one could expect some unexpected nuclear explosion from the Air Force almost anywhere.
During the August holiday seaon, Dr. Ronald Sega, the Undersecretary of the Air Force, then departed in order to take up a position at Colorado State where he had been Dean of its Engineering College. Sega, twice a NASA astronaut, was the Air Force's executive agent for space, seeing that its war-fighting missions were in tune with its capabilities. Sega had saved its dominance of space despite the cost-cutting efforts by National Intelligence Directors John Negroponte and Mike McConnell. He, it seems, put together the packages which caused Nargis and the Sichuan earthquake.
For more on the least known maker of America's space dominance, see this link:
Once the government resumed around Labor Day, it put the finishing touches on the coverups of these most destructive operations. Dr. Roth was tried in a most paranoid environment for spying, and found guilty on all counts after a seven-day trial. While his defense had argued that these alleged violations of the Arms Export Control Act were simply the result of an oversight by the professor in a most gray area of the law while he was conducting complicated research, the prosecution acted as if it were the result of most serious spying by the Chinese Secret Intelligence Service, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Patrick Rowan stating that the conviction was a most timely warning to those who would betray "...a very real threat to our national security, particularly when we know that foreign governments are actively seeking this information for their military development."
More important, Danny Stillman's most secret information about the locations of various Chinese nuclear facilities - what DCI Michael Hayden had prevented the publication of, and had ordered the Agency to make sure that it was not disclosed to other agencies for operational purposes - was essentially published in a article by Thomas Reed, entitled most prosaically "The Chinese nuclear tests, 1964-1996." Reed was a former nuclear researcher who had worked at Los Alamos too, and later was a Secretary of the Air Force during the Carter Administration. Just at this time, Reed and Stillman were preparing their book, The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and its Proliferation, for publication - what would exploit Stillman's most secret information about Chinese nuclear facilities and their use even more.
In the article, Reed stated all he could about Stillman's first two visits to China in 1990 without any fears of legal prosecution, acting as if they showed that the Chinese, rather than the Americans, had been totally committed to spying on what the other side was doing, going to Los Alamos a few years earlier. Acting as if the five Chinese visitors were simply unknown guests, Reed used the information that Stillman obtained by visiting Mianyang's Science City, and Xi'an's Dashita nuclear testing center as proof of how deeply Beijing had stolen America's nuclear and related secrets. The article, in sum, was completely intended to confuse the ignorant public about who was really doing what and why.
While I could write a whole new article about what Reed's article contains - its subtlety in dealing with Stillman's alleged police work, mining of details of China's nuclear deterrent, opening up new areas for exploitation at Beijing's expense, etc. - it should be read in its original entirety to properly appreciate it:
Now America's covert government was sure that its most destructive covert capability and operations were well and truly beyond public disclosure no matter who would be George Bush's successor, but again it would be disappointed. There were still too many participants in them still in government, and more unexpected disclosures would appear.