April 11, 2006

D'OH, JOE (via Kevin Whited & Pepys):

Wowie Zahawie: Sorry everyone, but Iraq did go uranium shopping in Niger. (Christopher Hitchens, April 10, 2006, Slate)

In the late 1980s, the Iraqi representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency—Iraq's senior public envoy for nuclear matters, in effect—was a man named Wissam al-Zahawie. After the Kuwait war in 1991, when Rolf Ekeus arrived in Baghdad to begin the inspection and disarmament work of UNSCOM, he was greeted by Zahawie, who told him in a bitter manner that "now that you have come to take away our assets," the two men could no longer be friends. (They had known each other in earlier incarnations at the United Nations in New York.)

At a later 1995 U.N. special session on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Zahawie was the Iraqi delegate and spoke heatedly about the urgent need to counterbalance Israel's nuclear capacity. At the time, most democratic countries did not have full diplomatic relations with Saddam's regime, and there were few fully accredited Iraqi ambassadors overseas, Iraq's interests often being represented by the genocidal Islamist government of Sudan (incidentally, yet another example of collusion between "secular" Baathists and the fundamentalists who were sheltering Osama Bin Laden). There was one exception—an Iraqi "window" into the world of open diplomacy—namely the mutual recognition between the Baathist regime and the Vatican. To this very important and sensitive post in Rome, Zahawie was appointed in 1997, holding the job of Saddam's ambassador to the Holy See until 2000. Those who knew him at that time remember a man much given to anti-Jewish tirades, with a standing ticket for Wagner performances at Bayreuth. (Actually, as a fan of Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung in particular, I find I can live with this. Hitler secretly preferred sickly kitsch like Franz Lehar.)

In February 1999, Zahawie left his Vatican office for a few days and paid an official visit to Niger, a country known for absolutely nothing except its vast deposits of uranium ore. It was from Niger that Iraq had originally acquired uranium in 1981, as confirmed in the Duelfer Report. In order to take the Joseph Wilson view of this Baathist ambassadorial initiative, you have to be able to believe that Saddam Hussein's long-term main man on nuclear issues was in Niger to talk about something other than the obvious.

C'mon now, if Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake in Niger wouldn't someone have sidled up to Joe Wilson at the hotel bar and given him proof?

Bush's Final Jeopardy (Elizabeth de la Vega, April 11, 2006, Tomdispatch.com)

The latest in a parade of horrors emanating from the Bush administration appeared Thursday in the form of a revelation buried in papers filed in federal court by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in his investigation into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, now under indictment on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, told the Grand Jury Fitzgerald convened that President Bush had -- via Vice President Cheney -- authorized him to disclose selected information from a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) to New York Times reporter Judith Miller, which he did during a private breakfast meeting at the St. Regis Hotel on July 8, 2003. [...]

Thus has begun a debate in our media whose starting questions usually run along the lines of: "Is what the President did legal?" or "Does the President have authority to declassify information at will?" (Given the President's failure to deny Libby's allegation, it has largely been accepted as true.) The answer to those questions has generally been: Yes, the President -- as chief executive -- has the authority to declassify information at will.

"...but I hate this President so let me argue the opposite..."

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 11, 2006 12:36 PM

Anyone want to guess when this information will appear in the newspaper of record? I guess 'never.'

Posted by: erp at April 11, 2006 12:53 PM

The day after Iran launches a nuclear strike against[who ever] and of course it will be the Republican's fault.

Posted by: Dave W at April 11, 2006 4:30 PM

Dave, Nobody is nuking anybody or anything, least of all Iran. All this blathering about Bush's plan is nonsense. I'm very confident that adults are in control and neither Iran nor North Korea will be allowed to foul our world with nuclear fall out.

I see in posts above, the trolls are out again, feeling their oats because the media have "exposed" Bush and caused his numbers to drop to the subterranean levels where they reside.

Betting against Bush isn't smart.

Posted by: erp at April 11, 2006 7:30 PM


I believe some of the bunker busters we'll use might be nuclear.

Posted by: oj at April 11, 2006 7:36 PM

I would hope this was orchestrated psyops to get the mullahs running around trying to stop the wrong threats, wasting resources in the process. We still have 2-5 years before they are a nuclear danger.

In that time, an insurgency campaign using the Kurds in the North and the persecuted Shia Arabs in the South can do great damage to this brittle regime. As an engineer, I would target the infrastructure necessary for their technical programs. "Accidents" at power generation installations, transmission lines, oil production and pumping stations, pipe lines and port facilities coupled with interdiction of machinery and replacement parts would impede their nuclear program and damage the economy. Targeted assassination of vital technicians, political officers, military, police, and revolutionary cadre personnel would damage their means of repression. Netwar directed at all computer systems damages all their technical facilites. Disinformation campaigns will only make them more paranoid.

After all, we are already at war with Iran, and these are things they are doing to us and our ally, the new Iraqi government. An insurgency has the advantage of deniability, delaying the achievement of their nuclear aspirations, and is at least a positive move toward regime change, rather than just waiting and hoping. As they become more and more belligerent due to this pressure, we gain more support for a bombing campaign, if that is eventually necessary.

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 11, 2006 8:53 PM

The US is planning to test the effect of exploding 1.4 million pounds of explosive on June 2.

A weapon that weighs over a million pounds is not very useful. So what kind of transportable weapon can produce that much energy? Only a nuke.


Posted by: David Smith at April 11, 2006 10:39 PM

I have to admit that I don't really get the distinction people are drawing between dropping conventional explosives on a nuclear facility and dropping nuclear devices on a nuclear facility.

Also, that we've been developing nuclear bunker busters has been known for years and was even an issue in the last presidential election.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 11, 2006 11:41 PM