February 4, 2008


A Strike in the Dark: What did Israel bomb in Syria? (Seymour M. Hersh, February 11, 2008 , The New Yorker)

[I]n three months of reporting for this article, I was repeatedly told by current and former intelligence, diplomatic, and congressional officials that they were not aware of any solid evidence of ongoing nuclear-weapons programs in Syria. It is possible that Israel conveyed intelligence directly to senior members of the Bush Administration, without it being vetted by intelligence agencies. (This process, known as “stovepiping,” overwhelmed U.S. intelligence before the war in Iraq.) But Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations group responsible for monitoring compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, said, “Our experts who have carefully analyzed the satellite imagery say it is unlikely that this building was a nuclear facility.”

Joseph Cirincione, the director for nuclear policy at the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C., think tank, told me, “Syria does not have the technical, industrial, or financial ability to support a nuclear-weapons program. I’ve been following this issue for fifteen years, and every once in a while a suspicion arises and we investigate and there’s nothing. There was and is no nuclear-weapons threat from Syria. This is all political.” Cirincione castigated the press corps for its handling of the story. “I think some of our best journalists were used,” he said.

A similar message emerged at briefings given to select members of Congress within weeks of the attack. The briefings, conducted by intelligence agencies, focussed on what Washington knew about the September 6th raid. One concern was whether North Korea had done anything that might cause the U.S. to back away from ongoing six-nation talks about its nuclear program. A legislator who took part in one such briefing said afterward, according to a member of his staff, that he had heard nothing that caused him “to have any doubts” about the North Korean negotiations—“nothing that should cause a pause.” The legislator’s conclusion, the staff member said, was “There’s nothing that proves any perfidy involving the North Koreans.”

Morton Abramowitz, a former Assistant Secretary of State for intelligence and research, told me that he was astonished by the lack of response. “Anytime you bomb another state, that’s a big deal,” he said. “But where’s the outcry, particularly from the concerned states and the U.N.? Something’s amiss.”

Israel could, of course, have damning evidence that it refuses to disclose. But there are serious and unexamined contradictions in the various published accounts of the September 6th bombing.

...it was a waste anyway. The enemy is the Ba'ath, not its weapons.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 4, 2008 5:58 PM

I'm sorry Orrin, but the idea of any kind of nuclear facility, one hundred miles upriver from
the 3/4's checkpoint at Al Quaim doesn't reassure me very much.

Posted by: narciso at February 4, 2008 8:08 PM

It should. Chernobyl hastened the collapse of another evil regime.

Posted by: oj at February 4, 2008 8:43 PM

While I do not want Baathist Syria to have a nuclear facility, North Korean design and Arab maintenance protocols lead me to believe it will be more dangerous for anyone downwind then any of Syria's intended enemies.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 5, 2008 8:23 AM

So the CIA was "stove piped" Bwahahaha!

I think the "Axis of Evil" were Malloried in that Israel demonstrated they could do it, if they wanted to, and no one said a word; but I'll bet there were a lot of mouths opened wide.

Posted by: Genecis at February 5, 2008 12:19 PM