Friday, October 19, 2007

Syrian Nuke Misinformation From Cheney's Office - Report

By Cernig

The meme that Israel recently struck a clandestine Syrian nuclear site is looking more and more like a pure creation of Israel and extremists within the White House. There's been absolutely no evidence presented for such a claim - just rumormongering from anonymous officials in both the US and Israel - and now those same WormTongues are saying, again without presented evidence, that the reason there's no evidence forthcoming is because the Syrians are covering it up with bulldozers.

Robin Wright, frequent channeler, in the WaPo:
Syria has begun dismantling the remains of a site Israel bombed Sept. 6 in what may be an attempt to prevent the location from coming under international scrutiny, said U.S. and foreign officials [this is the accepted code for "Israeli officials" nowadays - C] familiar with the aftermath of the attack.

Based on overhead photography, the officials say the site in Syria's eastern desert near the Euphrates River had a "signature" or characteristics of a small but substantial nuclear reactor, one similar in structure to North Korea's facilities.

The dismantling of the damaged site, which appears to be still underway, could make it difficult for weapons inspectors to determine the precise nature of the facility and how Syria planned to use it. Syria, which possesses a small reactor used for scientific research, has denied seeking to expand its nuclear program. But U.S. officials knowledgeable about the Israeli raid have described the target as a nuclear facility being constructed with North Korean assistance.

The bombed facility is different from the one Syria displayed to journalists last week to back its allegations that Israel had bombed an essentially an empty building, said the officials, who insisted on anonymity because details of the Israeli attack are classified.
Yeah, and I know my elephant-repellent wind-chimes work because there are no elephants in my neighbourhood.

The only person willing to put their actual name to this nonsense for the WaPo is old Walrus Bolton, still sputtering his conspiracy theories. Other people with actual names mentioned in this bit of ouja-board Cheneyism were highly sceptical:
"This isn't like a Road Runner cartoon where you call up Acme Reactors and they deliver a functioning reactor to your back yard. It takes years to build," said Joseph Cirincione, director for nuclear policy at the Center for American Progress. "This is an extremely demanding technology, and I don't think Syria has the technical, engineering or financial base to really support such a reactor."

..."The reason we have an IAEA and a safeguard system is that, if there is evidence of wrongdoing, it can be presented by a neutral body to the international community so that a collective response can be pursued," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. "It seems to me highly risky and premature for another country to bomb such a facility."
It would appear they may have good reason for that scepticism. Also on the WaPo's website today, you can find this AP wire report:
U.N. experts have received satellite imagery of the site struck last month by Israeli warplanes and are analyzing it for signs that it might have been a secret nuclear facility, diplomats said Friday.

One of the diplomats indicated that the photos came from U.S intelligence. Two others said the images, which have been studied by experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency since being received on Thursday, do not at first examination appear to substantiate reports that the target was a nuclear installation, but emphasized that the images were still under examination.

The diplomats, who were briefed on the agency's receipt of the images, spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because their information was confidential. Officials of the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog had no comment.
More anonymous leakers, and no official statements here either, but this is exactly in contradiction to Robin Wright's piece.

What's going on? Well, Larisa Alexandrovna at Raw Story has been speaking to unhappy - but still anonymous - members of the U.S. intelligence community, who say it's all coming from Fourth Branch's offices.
Allegations that a Syrian envoy admitted during a United Nations meeting Oct. 17 that an Israeli air strike hit a nuclear facility in September are inaccurate and have raised the ire of some in the US intelligence community, who see the Vice President’s hand as allegedly being behind the disinformation.

...According to current and former intelligence sources, the US intelligence community has seen no evidence of a nuclear facility being hit.

US intelligence “found no radiation signatures after the bombing, so there was no uranium or plutonium present,” said one official, wishing to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the subject.

“We don't have any independent intelligence that it was a nuclear facility -- only the assertions by the Israelis and some ambiguous satellite photography from them that shows a building, which the Syrians admitted was a military facility.”
Raw Story has also spoken to other experts, like Dr. Ivan Oelrich, a nuclear weapons expert at the Strategic Security Project at the Federation of American Scientists - who said that any actual nuclear activity would give off a radiation signature and that signature could be used to tell exactly what kind of activity was going on - and to Vincent Cannistraro, Director of Intelligence Programs for the National Security Council under President Ronald Reagan and Chief of Operations at the Central Intelligence Agency's Counterterrorism Center under President George H. W. Bush, who told Raw Story that what the Israelis hit was "absolutely not a nuclear weapons facility."

Those unhappy intelligence sources were, at least, happy to name names:
“The allegations that North Korea was helping to build a nuclear reactor have not been substantiated by US intelligence,” said this intelligence official, adding, “ but that hasn't stopped Dick Cheney and his minions at the NSC, Elliot Abrams and Steve Hadley, from leaking the information [to the press], which appears to be misleading in the extreme.”
Abrams was convicted of lying to Congress over Iran/Contra but pardoned by Bush Snr. Hadley was intrumental in fixing the intelligence around the policy prior to the invasion of Iraq.

Larisa writes:
What concerns intelligence officials is what appears to be manipulation of the press and strategic leaks to the public of false information, undercutting professional intelligence analysis, similar to what occurred before the Iraq war in an apparent effort to bolster support for engaging Iran.
Given that several prominent neocons, including Norman Podhoretz, have said time and again that they believe the route to Iranian regime change begins with toppling the Damascus regime, I think it should "concern" the hell out of everyone.

Update And the details of the anonymous Cheneyites' story change again.

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