Saturday, February 25, 2012

Follow the Yellowcake Road -- Again?

Time Magazine, July 9, 2003 - bolding mine throughout this essay.
Is a fib really a fib if the teller is unaware that he is uttering an untruth? That question appears to be the basis of the White House defense, having now admitted a falsehood in President Bush's claim, in his State of the Union address, that Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Africa. But that defense is under mounting pressure from a variety of sources claiming that the White House could not have been unaware that the claim was false, because it had been checked out — and debunked — by U.S. intelligence a year before the President repeated it.
During the buildup to the Iraq invasion, few questions were asked concerning the administration's claims, and they were generally dismissed as somehow unpatriotic, politically biased, or just plain mean-spirited. Not until after the invasion did the real questions start to surface.

Now, nine years later, the spin seems to be that Iran is going to have a Nuclear Weapon, real soon now, so we better just go ahead and invade before that happens. News coverage superficially seems to indicate that war is all but inevitable. Once again, challenging that assertion is all but forbidden.

For example, The Huffington Post headlines their most recent coverage Iran Crisis Presents Few Good Options For Obama Administration, New Report Says. The first two paragraphs:
The Obama Administration finds itself low on good options for avoiding conflict with Iran, a bleak new report from a major international conflict-prevention group says.

In the report released Thursday, the International Crisis Group argues that while a war with Iran could have "devastating consequences," the main alternative currently being pursued -- crippling sanctions -- is itself unlikely to succeed, and may well end up expediting military conflict.
That almost makes war seem inevitable, doesn't it? HuffPo goes on to make the argument.
Iran has long insisted that its nuclear program is entirely for peaceful energy purposes, although the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors nuclear activity inside Iran, recently reported it has seen signs of increasing uranium enrichment of the sort that might lead to weapon production.

The government of Israel is deeply concerned about the possibility of Iran gaining possession of a nuclear weapon and has threatened to take military action to prevent it from doing so, a course of action that American officials have repeatedly indicated they do not support.

But as the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday, the U.S. still does not believe that Iran has decided to build a nuclear weapon.
The fear-mongers among us are happy to spin such coverage to their advantage. Among the most hawkish is Rick Santorum, ready to bomb Iran's nuclear plants for the sin of creating nuclear fuel rods to power their nuclear power plant, because the reactor in that plant could be used to produce weapons grade uranium. Note the operative words in the following quote: can also be.
Rick Santorum said today that he would be in favor of launching airstrikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.

“We will degrade those facilities through airstrikes, and make it very public that we are doing that,” Santorum said on “Meet the Press.”

Iran announced today that it had created the country’s first nuclear fuel rod, a key component in a reactor that can also be used to produce weapons grade uranium.
He's also cheering that scientists working on Iran's nuclear program are being assassinated.
On occasion, scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran turn up dead. I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly,” Santorum said at a campaign event in October.
Santorum's statements were well-received by any number of people who should know better, having been living, breathing humans nine short years ago when the same play was acted out on a slightly different stage.

But let's return to the Huffington Post story. If one reads all the way to the end of the story, we find that the message of the International Crisis Group is much different than what the introduction indicates.
"From their perspective, the more sanctions we impose, the more you tend to convince the regime that the goal is to topple it," said Malley. "And you only have to look at a few countries nearby to find out why they might be convinced they need [a nuclear weapon]."

The Crisis Group report points to the case studies of Iraq, North Korea and Libya, where possession of nuclear weapons seemed to be the primary differentiating factor in whether the West attacked the regime.

Instead, the report proposes that the West follow a new tack of engagement, similar to Turkey's recent approach to Iran, which includes a number of strategies -- reducing the threats of sanctions, openly acknowledging Iran's right to a peaceful nuclear program -- that Americans or Israelis have long rejected.
So the real message from the ICG wasn't actually "war is inevitable, gird on thy armor," but rather "gee, war is probably a really stupid option compared to, you know, actually addressing the issues that might make Iran want a nuclear weapon to defend itself."

And let's take another look at that rather dismissive line about U.S. attitudes toward this grave threat.
But as the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday, the U.S. still does not believe that Iran has decided to build a nuclear weapon.
What's the story hidden behind that line? U.S. does not believe Iran is trying to build nuclear bomb
As U.S. and Israeli officials talk publicly about the prospect of a military strike against Iran's nuclear program, one fact is often overlooked: U.S. intelligence agencies don't believe Iran is actively trying to build an atomic bomb.

A highly classified U.S. intelligence assessment circulated to policymakers early last year largely affirms that view, originally made in 2007. Both reports, known as national intelligence estimates, conclude that Tehran halted efforts to develop and build a nuclear warhead in 2003.

The most recent report, which represents the consensus of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, indicates that Iran is pursuing research that could put it in a position to build a weapon, but that it has not sought to do so.

Although Iran continues to enrich uranium at low levels, U.S. officials say they have not seen evidence that has caused them to significantly revise that judgment. Senior U.S. officials say Israel does not dispute the basic intelligence or analysis.
The New York Times also reports the story, in an article titled U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb.

So what we find, when we look beyond the headlines, is that Iran is not a nuclear threat, not working to become a nuclear threat, but that it may decide it needs to become a nuclear power primarily because of repeated threats that it had better not become a nuclear power.

Are we really going to follow the drummers for war down the Yellowcake Road again, buying into lies that U.S. intelligence has clearly found are just that -- lies?


  1. Don, Joe Wilson is full of crap. The Time Magazine story is based on that crap. He and his wife conspired to get him sent to Africa and when he came back, he said one thing in his report and something very different in his op-ed. That was borne out through actual evidence down the road.

    That is all. Carry on. :)

  2. Bushie: "Iraq was lookin' to get some yello'cake in Africa."

    Wilson: "I went to one uranium producing country in Africa, and asked them if they had been naughty, selling yellowcake to Iraq. They said "no way!, but Iraq was sure lookin' to get some."

    QED: Niger is a country in Africa, and Niger did not sell any Yellowcake to Iraq. Therefore the claim that Iraq was seeking to purchase yellowcake in Africa is totally pants-on-fire false."

    The logic here is totally unassailable. Bush Lied!

    In hindsight,