Tuesday, December 11, 2007
NY Magazine says Neo-Nazi ex-prof Norman Finkelstein living with fleas and spiders at Coney Island
Note how he claims the Jews are "crucifying" him!
2. The head of the School of Communications at Sapir College, Naama
Shefi, endorses the anti-Israel Arab lecturer at her school who refused to
allow a reserve soldier to enter the classroom:
The President of Sapir College is Prof. Zev Tzahor, whose fax is
His email is email@example.com
3. "From defenders to defamers"
Gerald Steinberg , THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 9, 2007
4. Amira Hass, Haaretz jihadnette, asks where all the suicide bombers are
now that we really need them:
5. When America gets silly about settlers:
6. Minority opinion:
December 11, 2007
By BRET STEPHENS
WSJ on CIA Unintelligence:
The NIE Fantasy
December 11, 2007; Page A26
'The USSR could derive considerable military advantage from the
establishment of Soviet medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles
in Cuba, or from the establishment of a submarine base there. . . . Either
development, however, would be incompatible with Soviet practice to date
and with Soviet policy as we presently estimate it."
-- Special National Intelligence Estimate 85-3-62, Sept. 19, 1962.
Twenty-five days after this NIE was published, a U-2 spy plane
photographed a Soviet ballistic missile site in Cuba, and the Cuban
Missile Crisis began. It's possible the latest NIE on Iran's nuclear
weapons program will not prove as misjudged or as damaging as the 1962
estimate. But don't bet on it.
At the heart of last week's NIE is the "high confidence" judgment that
Tehran "halted its nuclear weapons program" in the fall of 2003,
"primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure
resulting from exposure of Iran's previously undeclared nuclear work."
Prior to that, however, the NIE states, also with "high confidence," that
"Iranian military entities were working under government direction to
develop nuclear weapons." Left to a footnote is the explanation that "by
'nuclear weapons program' we mean Iran's nuclear weapon design and
weaponization work. . . we do not mean Iran's declared civil work related
to uranium conversion and enrichment."
Let's unpack this.
In August 2002, an Iranian opposition group revealed that Iran had an
undeclared uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and an undeclared heavy
water facility at Arak -- both previously unknown to the pros of the U.S.
intelligence community. Since then, the administration has labored to
persuade the international community that all these facilities have no
conceivable purpose other than a military one. Those efforts paid off in
three successive U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding Iran suspend
enrichment because it was "concerned by the proliferation risks" it posed.
Along comes the NIE to instantly undo four years of diplomacy, using a
semantic sleight-of-hand to suggest some kind of distinction can be drawn
between Iran's bid to master the nuclear fuel cycle and its efforts to
build nuclear weapons. How credible is this distinction?
In "Avoiding Nuclear Anarchy" (1996), MIT's Owen Cote notes that "The
recipe [for designing a weapon] is very simple. . . . Nor are the
ingredients, other than plutonium or HEU [highly enriched uranium], hard
to obtain. For a gun weapon, the gun barrel could be ordered from any
machine shop, as could a tungsten tamper machined to any specifications
the customer desired. The high-explosive charge for firing the bullet
could also be fashioned by anyone with access to and some experience
handling TNT, or other conventional, chemical explosives." (My emphasis).
In other words, Iran didn't abandon its nuclear weapons program. On the
contrary, it went public with it. It's certainly plausible Tehran may have
suspended one aspect of the program -- the aspect that is the least
technically challenging and that, if exposed, would offer smoking-gun
proof of ill intent. Then again, why does the NIE have next to nothing to
say about Iran's efforts to produce plutonium at the Arak facility, which
is of the same weapons-producing type as Israel's Dimona and North Korea's
Yongbyon reactors? And why the silence on Iran's ongoing and acknowledged
testing of ballistic missiles of ever-longer range, the development of
which only makes sense as a vehicle to deliver a weapon of mass
Equally disingenuous is the NIE's assessment that Iran's purported
decision to halt its weapons program is an indication that "Tehran's
decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach" -- an interesting
statement, given that Iran's quest for "peaceful" nuclear energy makes no
economic sense. But the NIE's real purpose becomes clear in the next
sentence, when it states that Iran's behavior "suggests that some
combination of threats of intensified international scrutiny and
pressures, along with opportunities for Iran to achieve its security,
prestige and goals for regional influence in other ways, might -- if
perceived by Iran's leaders as credible -- prompt Tehran to extend the
current halt to its nuclear weapons program."
Cuba, 1962. The NIE missed this one, too.
This is a policy prescription, not an intelligence assessment.
Nonetheless, it is worth recalling that if Iran did have an active
weaponization program prior to 2003, as the NIE claims, it means that
former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami was lying when he said that
"weapons of mass destruction have never been our objective." Mr. Khatami
is just the kind of "moderate" that advocates of engagement with Iran see
as a credible negotiating partner. If he's not to be trusted, is Mahmoud
Then again, when it comes to the issue of trust, it isn't just Mr.
Ahmadinejad we need to worry about. It has been widely pointed out that
the conclusions of this NIE flatly contradict those of a 2005 NIE on the
same subject, calling the entire process into question. Less discussed is
why the administration chose to release a shoddy document that does
maximum political damage to it and to key U.S. allies, particularly
France, the U.K. and Israel.
The likely answer is that the administration calculated that any effort by
them to suppress or tweak the NIE would surely leak, leading to
accusations of "politicizing intelligence." But that only means that we
now have an "intelligence community" that acts as an authority unto
itself, and cannot be trusted to obey its political masters, much less
keep a secret. The administration's tacit acquiescence in this state of
affairs may prove even more damaging than its wishful thinking on Iran.
For years it has been a staple of fever swamp politics to believe the U.S.
government is in the grip of shadowy powers using "intelligence" as a tool
of control. With the publication of this NIE, that is no longer a fantasy.
. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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