Sunday, September 16, 2007

More Wingnut War Hype

By Cernig

The War party really are desperate to hype any WMD link they can, no matter how tenuous, between the remaining members of Bush's infamous "Axis of Evul".

Right at the moment, their conspiracy theories are particularly active on reports speculating about the target of a recent Israeli strike into Syria. Carefully orchestrated leaks from war-hypers in the Bush administration and within Israeli hardline circles have made sure talk is all about nukes or nuclear material provided by North Korea, rather than the strike on a Hezboullah arms dump the attack was originally reported as. Glenn Kessler got the word from the usual suspects - anonymous sources in the Fourth Branch of government. Today, the London Times most reliable neocon shill, Sarah Baxter, gets to join in.

But there's just no there there.

Newsweek reports that:
current and former U.S. intelligence officials, willing to speak only if they were not named, say they've seen no credible evidence yet of nuclear ties between North Korea and Syria, whether before or since the Israeli operation. David Albright, a former weapons inspector in Iraq, says allegations raised by Bolton prompted the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect Syria's small nuclear research reactor and other sites in 2003. He says the agency found the claims to be "unsubstantiated." Even Bolton, who served as the State Department's under secretary for arms control and international security, acknowledged to NEWSWEEK that while in government, he never saw proof North Korea was sharing nuclear technology with Syria.
And over at Foreign policy magazine, Blake Hounsell quotes Joseph Cirincione, senior fellow and director for nuclear policy at the Center for American Progress, as saying:
This story is nonsense. The Washington Post story should have been headlined "White House Officials Try to Push North Korea-Syria Connection." This is a political story, not a threat story. The mainstream media seems to have learned nothing from the run-up to war in Iraq. It is a sad commentary on how selective leaks from administration officials who have repeatedly misled the press are still treated as if they were absolute truth.

Once again, this appears to be the work of a small group of officials leaking cherry-picked, unvetted "intelligence" to key reporters in order to promote a preexisting political agenda. If this sounds like the run-up to the war in Iraq, it should. This time it appears aimed at derailing the U.S.-North Korean agreement that administration hardliners think is appeasement. Some Israelis want to thwart any dialogue between the U.S. and Syria.
Not just Israelis. I'm reminded strongly of another recent attempt to push the Syrian angle of Axis of Evul evilitude, when Mike Ledeen tried to hype the announcement by a Syrian regime-change group led by someone who has never been to Syria that Iran had a secret missile base in the Syrian desert. I'm quite surprised the neocons haven't rolled that one out again now - but then again, it was too rich a bit of bulls**t even for most of them.

The Observer's Foreign Affairs Editor, Peter Beaumont, also makes note of what is clearly a "series of piecemeal leaks from US officials that gave the impression of being co-ordinated" in order to lay out an unprovable narrative of Axis of Evil skullduggery. He goes on to say that the Israeli raid should be seen as a rehearsal for an attack on Iran, something Joseph Cirincione also believes.
The real story is how quickly the New York Times and the Washington Post snapped up the bait and ran exactly the story the officials wanted, thereby feeding a mini-media frenzy. It appears that nothing, not even a disastrous and unnecessary war, can break this Pavlovian response to an "intelligence scoop."
It would appear that the Syrian strike is a rehearsal for more war on more than one level. Not only have military planners confirmed that israel is capable of striking iran, but the war hypers have also confirmed that the general public and journalists are just as gullible as the last time there was a snark hunt for non-existent WMD.

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