Friday, November 03, 2006


Iraq's Nuclear Weapons Program

The Opinion Journal frequently makes mention of the New York Times as “two papers in one, whereby the Editorial Board of the paper routinely make assertions that are contradicted by news reporting within the pages of the Times. This proves especially true for any good news dealing with Iraq.

However much that may be understandable, when the Times routinely buries real news in back pages or in non-news sections altogether. But one might reasonably expect the Editors to be somewhat more familiar with the entirety of the Times than their dwindling readership.

The Times latest demonstration of media schizophrenia could stand as the all-time archetype for such split personality disorders, placed (but of course) under the Middle East rather than the front page

Here’s how the Times introduces their November surprise:

Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The Bush administration did so under pressure from Congressional Republicans who had said they hoped to “leverage the Internet” to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.

But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.

Note how the Times slants what will follow. Republicans pressured Bush to make captured Iraqi documents available on the Internet, in a desperate effort to buttress pre-war claims about Saddam Hussein. Sure enough, what gets posted, but a “cookbook” for atomic bomb building. Note especially, these documents include “detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war.”

The Times places this thought in their readers’ minds in the second paragraph, but look what they say later:

The documents, roughly a dozen in number, contain charts, diagrams, equations and lengthy narratives about bomb building that nuclear experts who have viewed them say go beyond what is available elsewhere on the Internet and in other public forums. For instance, the papers give detailed information on how to build nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives, as well as the radioactive cores of atom bombs.

Stunning. Iraq had all the information required to build a nuclear weapon. But didn’t the Times say these document were all pre-1991?

Wait, they add more detail:

Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.

At the time? Which time? The 1990’s? Or in 2002? If they “experts” said Saddam Hussein was possibly within one year of developing a nuclear weapon, which would be worse: that he was a year away in 2002, or say in 1994? The Times leaves this vague, doesn’t connect the dots, in fact, deliberately rubs the ink out of whatever dots could be connected.

How dangerous were these documents? The Times provides several clues, the first:

European diplomats said this week that some of those nuclear documents on the Web site were identical to the ones presented to the United Nations Security Council in late 2002, as America got ready to invade Iraq. But unlike those on the Web site, the papers given to the Security Council had been extensively edited, to remove sensitive information on unconventional arms.

For those with longer memories than the Editors of the Times (and their foaming netroot allies), what was presented to the UNSC was enough for them to declare Saddam Hussein in violation of previous Resolutions to abandon his nuclear weapons program, and authorize UN member states to prepare responses, including military ones. So what we see now is evidence that the reality was even worse then the UN thought. So much for Colin Powell being deceived or George Bush lying: not according to the Times:

In Europe, a senior diplomat said atomic experts there had studied the nuclear documents on the Web site and judged their public release as potentially dangerous. “It’s a cookbook,” said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of his agency’s rules. “If you had this, it would short-circuit a lot of things.”

Wouldn’t that mean Iraq was even closer to developing nuclear weapons than believed on the eve of our invasion?

One last point, deep in the article, suggests these documents were something more than early, pre-1991 documents, as much as the Times tries to leave such an impression (without directly saying so, of course):

A senior American intelligence official who deals routinely with atomic issues said the documents showed “where the Iraqis failed and how to get around the failures.”

That sure sounds a lot like something that was pulled together sometime after the Gulf War.

The New York Times: two paper in one!

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