Radioactive: More on the NYT Iraqi nuke article

posted at 12:56 pm on November 3, 2006 by Allahpundit

See-Dubya hates to be “an Allahpundit” but he just doesn’t see what the big deal is about this paragraph from the Times piece:

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.

Writes See-Dub:

I’m pretty sure that “at the time” should probably read “at that time”, and it refers to “after the Persian Gulf war”, not “2002″. At that point we had just discovered that Saddam had an alarmingly advanced nuclear program operating out of Al-Tuwaitha, and we had had no idea. It was just our dumb luck to blunder into it after we chased Saddam out of Kuwait.

He’s got a timeline, too. Geraghty counters:

[L]et’s presume that this research was completed in 1990.

So these “charts, diagrams, equations and lengthy narratives about bomb building” are devised in 1990, and are then sitting in some file cabinet in an Iraqi government installation, with the Iraqis have absolutely no intention of ever using them ever. And the war opponents are willing to state, with 100 percent certainty, that Iraq would not have attempted to use all this – which was useful enough to put them a year away from completion.

Was it? Journey back with me now to the October 6, 2004 edition of the New York Times, which featured an op-ed by Mahdi Obeidi, author of “The Bomb in My Garden” and former chief of Saddam’s nuclear centrifuge program. Quote:

Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was on the threshold of success before the 1991 invasion of Kuwait – there is no doubt in my mind that we could have produced dozens of nuclear weapons within a few years – but was stopped in its tracks by United Nations weapons inspectors after the Persian Gulf war and was never restarted. During the 1990′s, the inspectors discovered all of the laboratories, machines and materials we had used in the nuclear program, and all were destroyed or otherwise incapacitated.

By 1998, when Saddam Hussein evicted the weapons inspectors from Iraq, all that was left was the dangerous knowledge of hundreds of scientists and the blueprints and prototype parts for the centrifuge, which I had buried under a tree in my garden.

In addition to the inspections, the sanctions that were put in place by the United Nations after the gulf war made reconstituting the program impossible.

In other words, they could have built a bomb from those plans within a year if all their labs and equipment were intact. But don’t celebrate just yet, nutroots. More from Obeidi:

Was Iraq a potential threat to the United States and the world? Threat is always a matter of perception, but our nuclear program could have been reinstituted at the snap of Saddam Hussein’s fingers. The sanctions and the lucrative oil-for-food program had served as powerful deterrents, but world events – like Iran’s current efforts to step up its nuclear ambitions – might well have changed the situation.

Iraqi scientists had the knowledge and the designs needed to jumpstart the program if necessary. And there is no question that we could have done so very quickly… Had Saddam Hussein ordered it and the world looked the other way, we might have shaved months if not years off our previous efforts.

Maybe not within a year, then, but “very quickly.” Back to Geraghty for the most important point, albeit not one that couldn’t have been made before this story broke yesterday:

[W]e are asked to believe that these “charts, diagrams, equations and lengthy narratives about bomb building,” in the hands of the Iraqi regime, was never, ever, ever going to end up in the hands of another regime, or in the hands of non-state actors hostile to the United States. I mean, it’s not like the world has people like A.Q. Khan, out to sell everything they know and everything they can get their hands on to anyone willing to buy.

The Times did quote one expert as saying the plans on the website wouldn’t have been useful to terrorists lacking advanced equipment, but with Sunni states increasingly nervous about Iran, it’s not inconceivable that Saddam would have shared technology with them to counter the Shiite threat.

Shifting gears, I’m just going to reprint an e-mail I got from RLW, one of our very best tipsters. How curious it is, he notes, that for the second time in as many election cycles, the New York Times has run an election-eve story on Iraq’s weapons program written by William Broad and sourced in part to the IAEA. He writes:

Looking at these two stories as related items is interesting. Essentially you have the same type of IAEA story being run through the same NYT reporter right before an election. In 2004, there were additional layers of potential leakers because of the involvement of the Iraqi Interim Government and US personnel in Iraq. In 2006, those players are not present. The second story seems to explicitly state that the source is “European diplomats”. I do not think that it is a tremendous leap to assume that both stories probably originated from the same source. Basically, the potential sources common to both stories are either IAEA personnel/”European diplomats” or US government employees in Vienna going up the chain back to Washington. In both cases you have the NYT getting a leak within days of the IAEA learning the information or the IAEA transmitting the information to the US government.

If we assume that European diplomats or IAEA personnel leaked both stories because the second story attributes the leak to them, one has to be a bit pissed that foreign nationals are trying to tilt our elections. Back in 2004, there were some theories that El Baradei was behind the leak because Bush was supposed to be opposed to El Baradei getting a third term with the IAEA. Some of the reaction about the web primer story is that it is a bit of a “weak sister,” but you go with the leak you have not the leak that you wish that you had. The Al-Qaqaa leak was a much bigger story and thankfully, was displaced from the news cycle by the OBL tape. If an American is the source, the guy’s an asshole, but foreign diplomats are a whole other story.

Other odds and ends? Blogger Ray Robison suspects he might have inadvertently set this kerfuffle in motion; Tom Maguire catches Peter Zimmerman, one of the nuke experts quoted in the Times article, saying something different three years ago; the DUers behave exactly as I predicted they would in the previous thread; and Rick Moran, damn his eyes, accepts blame on behalf of right-wing bloggers everywhere:

[I]n our haste to discover the truth and in the Administration’s zeal to participate in this experimental program of unprecedented citizen-government cooperation, some respected experts believe we have damaged our own cause and given valuable information to those who wish to destroy us. This is perhaps the greatest and least palatable irony of all.

And in the increasingly dangerous world in which we live that will soon require decisions of monumental historical import regarding war and peace, the only laughter we may hear will be the bitter cackling of the Angel of Death, circling above bleached bones and rubble – remnants of a war that irony forgot.

Meanwhile, Saddam questions the timing.

Update: I should probably blockquote this part of Ray Robison’s post, huh? This comes from the report of the Senate Prewar Intelligence Review Phase II; the “intelligence report” it references is a top secret CIA report from September 2002.

The intelligence report conveyed information from the source attributed to the Iraqi official which said:

• Iraq was not in possession of a nuclear weapon. However, Iraq was aggressively and covertly developing such a weapon. Saddam, irate that Iraq did not yet have a nuclear weapon because money was no object and because Iraq possessed the scientific know how, had recently called meeting his Nuclear Weapons Committee.

• The Committee told Saddam that a nuclear weapon would be ready within 18-24 months of acquiring the fissile material.

Update: Pete Hoekstra responds to the Times:

Finally, it is disappointing but not surprising that the New York Times would continue to participate in such blatant and transparent political ploys, including what I believe are improper efforts by the IAEA to interfere with U.S. domestic affairs. The sad reality is that the New York Times has done far more damage to U.S. national security by the disclosure of vital, classified, intelligence programs than is likely to be caused by the inadvertent disclosure of decades-old information that had already been in the hands of Saddam’s regime.


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Great links. Good post AP.

Cary on November 3, 2006 at 1:13 PM

Rove, how did you find the time to create all these documents?

BobK on November 3, 2006 at 1:23 PM

SO, how does it go….now?

I voted for it before I voted aginst it before I voted for it.

shooter on November 3, 2006 at 1:25 PM

Magnificent coverage Allahpundit.
And a big amen to Pete Hoekstra’s response to the Times.

Stephen M on November 3, 2006 at 1:26 PM

Awesome coverage as usual, AP! But, “Radiaoctive?” ;)

Brian on November 3, 2006 at 1:33 PM

I think Geraghty’s two points above are key. And further, I think this bombshell that the Times tried to drop on the public as a November suprise is just that – a shell with no bomb.

But I am glad to see efforts on our side to counter it nonetheless.

thirteen28 on November 3, 2006 at 1:35 PM

I’m likin’ Hoekstra’s statement (read the entire thing at mm.com). A lot of key points that people are oblivious too… sadly the media won’t ever cover it and they’ll remain obvious.

Key points I think:

In fact, as of today the DNI had withheld 59 percent of the documents that it had reviewed, and has become more risk-averse over time. If the DNI believes that the documents that were released were in the safe 40 percent, imagine what the 60 percent being withheld must contain.

Only 1 percent of the estimated 120 million pages of captured documents have been reviewed, and we must continue working to promptly understand these materials. If there is concern about Saddam’s nuclear program, there should be similar concern about potential connections between Saddam and al-Qaeda suggested in the documents.

“Second, my staff’s preliminary review of the documents in question suggests that at least some of them may be internal IAEA documents. There is a serious question of why and how the Iraqi these documents in the first place. We need to explore that carefully – I certainly hope there will be no evidence that the IAEA had been penetrated by Saddam’s regime.

RightWinged on November 3, 2006 at 1:41 PM

Yo AP, you seein’ KP on FNC right now wearing Republican red?

RightWinged on November 3, 2006 at 1:46 PM

We really need to document, and put in one place easy to find, all of the Foreign influences which are being put into this election…

IAEA, Hez, Iran, Egyptian clerc, Hamas… on and on, they are rooting for, and doing everything they can, to get the Dems elected….

And NOTHING would get the Moderate vote out faster than foreign interference in the election cycle…. not to mention energizing the Rep base.

Romeo13 on November 3, 2006 at 1:46 PM

It’s not a bombshell at all. It’s a boomerang. All people hear is Iraq was close to the bomb.

TheBigOldDog on November 3, 2006 at 1:50 PM

Hoekstra nails it. Good statement, imho.

p0s3r on November 3, 2006 at 1:53 PM

I, for one, am grateful that President Bush kept Saddam Hussien and Iraq from getting more WMDs.

bloggless on November 3, 2006 at 1:57 PM

Pete Hoekstra responds to the Times:
Finally, it is disappointing but not surprising that the New York Times would continue to participate in such blatant and transparent political ploys, including what I believe are improper efforts by the IAEA to interfere with U.S. domestic affairs. The sad reality is that the New York Times has done far more damage to U.S. national security by the disclosure of vital, classified, intelligence programs than is likely to be caused by the inadvertent disclosure of decades-old information that had already been in the hands of Saddam’s regime.

The NYT has got to be the most anti-American organization out there. They will do whatever it takes to bring down this administration.

Rick on November 3, 2006 at 1:59 PM

Hoekstra nails it. Good statement, imho.
p0s3r on November 3, 2006 at 1:53 PM

Absolutely, a great statement. Has anyone seen any MSM outlet pick this up? Is this statement anywhere else in its entirety?

shooter on November 3, 2006 at 1:59 PM

My head is spinning due to all the word parsing. I guess nothing means what it says anymore. Good Lord, why even look for facts when folks will just claim the writers meant something else. Talk about a head ache.

Rustyw on November 3, 2006 at 2:10 PM

The NY Times again is trying to come to the rescue of their party.

Recall when Santorum announced that over 500 WMDs had been discovered in Iraq? Santorum had to fight for months to get the report declassified in order to make the information public. This information had been classified for over 2 years, and no one knew about it. This was MAJOR NEWS and should have been a headliner for days.

But recall what happened – IMMEDIATELY, THE VERY NEXT DAY, the NY Times came to the rescue of their party and KNOCKED THE WMD STORY OFF THE HEADLINES with their disclosure of the secret NSA Financial Tracking program (Swift) – used to detect who and how jihadists were financing terror plans. It WAS a most successful program, but the Times and the Democrat pundents and politicians used it to take the steam out of the conservatives WMD discovery disclosure.

The NY Times is doing the same thing now. Kerry’s reckless remarks, his troop morale-busting remarks, which capsulize the clear difference of how the liberal elitists view our troops as “victims and bullies” and the conservatives who see the troops as “patriots who believe they are serving a noble cause”.

In other words, its day and night. We see the troops as volunteers who bravely liberated Iraq from their murderous dictator, a dictator who hated America and thumbed its nose at the world and the UN resolutions. A dictator who had WMDs and plans for more WMDs and WAS a threat to the US and our families.

Now that the troops have done that part, they WANT TO finish the job!

Which is:

- to provide security while Iraq develops it’s young government.

– develop and train an Iraqi Security force, large enough and able enough, to maintain their own security

- they also provide training so that Iraqis can rebuild and improve their infrastructure, schools, and hospitals.

The Troops know it’s gonna take time, and they are ready, willing, and very much want to complete it. THE TROOPS DON’T WANT TO BE RUSHED TO THE FINISH LINE or to be RESCUED FROM IRAQ by John Kerry or any other liberal.

Democrats demoralize the Troops because they don’t have the patience to let them finish the job.

The TROOPS believe in their job, let them finish it!!

Bottom line, the NY Times – wants to embarrass the president and take the country’s eyes off the crude and misguided impatient way the Liberals view our troops and the reason we are in Iraq.

It’s despicable – But this time it looks like the NY Times have hurt the Democrats by proving that Iraq and Iran are the threats that conservatives say they are.

flagwaver on November 3, 2006 at 2:13 PM

It’s not a bombshell at all. It’s a boomerang. All people hear is Iraq was close to the bomb.

TheBigOldDog on November 3, 2006 at 1:50 PM

I agree BOD, it is going to take a lot of effort and print to overcome the “they were one year away from the bomb” statement. If we keep that out in front, the story is ours to own.
Where the hell is Nancy? We need her mean, angry, repulsive leadership.
Keep the drums beating: Nuke was one year away, Where’s Waldo Nancy? (no offense to Ford regarding beating drums)

right2bright on November 3, 2006 at 2:17 PM

The Death Knell of the MEME, “Bush Lied – People Died!”

I would encourage all to watch Ray Robison’s Blog as this big story unfolds.

Ray Robison, Mark Echenlaub – Regime of Terror, and Scott Malensek have been working on this story for a long time and no one has paid much attention. And of course don’t overlook Iraqi Gen Sada and his message he has been criss-crossing Americia with.

Finally this cesspool is finally is seeing the light of day, ironically, by the LL and the MSM in their delusional state with BDS.

Damn that Rove guy is one hell of a smart dude. The call has been placed in this game of Texas Hold’em.

Please remember this nuke info is not unk in the intel circles. It just boils down to who has the scienitific, engineering, manufacturing, and raw materials to carry this out.

The strategic threat to the US – North Korea, Iran, and to a lesser degree Syria. Don’t forget our “alley” The House of Saud probably was a receipient of the AQ Kahn nuke info for sale.

Do you suppose there is any connection with the impressive US Naval presence in the vacinity of Iran?

The irony is that this was all going on right under the noses of the IAEA until Col. Kadhafi fell on his sword and rolled over on his nuke program.

According to John Loftus, if you believe him reliable, said the NORKS were “shiting brinks” when it became apparent the the US was going into Iraq. Why? Because they new their “ass” was “grass” as all of this arrangements would become apparent in the Saddam Docs.

Glenn Reynold’s, Army of Davids, has come to fruition. Folks actually have been working on these docs that are now coming to light. The government did not have the resources or vetted translators to comb through these docs.

The death of the meme, “Bush Lied – People Died!” The rope they’ve been allowed to run with has finally drawn taught with a snap.

rocketsbrain on November 3, 2006 at 2:26 PM

Sitting in the waiting room while I got my car’s oil changed today people were talking about this “bombshell” and the only thing that was on their minds was that Saddam was only a year away from having an atomic bomb when we invaded Iraq.

Personally I think that the agenda of all this was to get the government to shut down the FMSO DOC site. Too many people were reading and learning of Saddam’s WMDs and ties to terrorism.

Whoever said boomarang first nailed it.

Buzzy on November 3, 2006 at 2:43 PM

But the real question is: Does anyone who isn’t already voting “D” take the NYT seriously anymore? It’s one thing to argue that the NYT might be on the wrong side of certain statutes regarding the disclosure of classified information, but in terms of influence – really, isn’t the NYT (like Fox News) just preaching to the choir?

Anyway, I really hope that nut who was sending anthrax around four years ago doesn’t send any more to the NYT. Really, I hope that doesn’t happen, because the thought of everyone in the NYT building dead of anthrax is terribly unappealing to me. And I’m being 100% sincere about that.

Enrique on November 3, 2006 at 2:57 PM

Actually…I hear the term ‘new york times’…I tune it out…no influence on me what so ever…

areseaoh on November 3, 2006 at 4:00 PM

But the real question is: Does anyone who isn’t already voting “D” take the NYT seriously anymore? It’s one thing to argue that the NYT might be on the wrong side of certain statutes regarding the disclosure of classified information, but in terms of influence – really, isn’t the NYT (like Fox News) just preaching to the choir?

Enrique on November 3, 2006 at 2:57 PM

Again the problem, first of all is that the average American isn’t aware at just how bad the liberal bias in the media is, though they increasingly know there is one to an extent… But the main point is that it doesn’t matter that this is the Times, because everyone else picked it up. It’s been all over Fox all day, and I can only assume everywhere else. I’m sure the evening news programs will pick it up, etc. etc. That’s the problem. NY Times just sets the stage and the rest run wild with it, and outside of the right-side of the blogosphere, no one is getting the proper framing.

RightWinged on November 3, 2006 at 4:20 PM

That’s right RightWinged.

MSNBC is still running it as a Bush screwed up on releasing the info.

No mention of the proof of a year away.

BobK on November 3, 2006 at 4:30 PM

The posters at DU are going crazy over this. Most of them seem to think that this is the nail in the coffin of the republican party.

Kevin R on November 3, 2006 at 4:33 PM

President Bush did not give Sadaam Hussein the benefit of the doubt. Even without the smoking gun, that’s what matters.

mymanpotsandpans on November 3, 2006 at 4:51 PM

He didn’t give Saddam the benefit either.

mymanpotsandpans on November 3, 2006 at 4:53 PM

Again the problem, first of all is that the average American isn’t aware at just how bad the liberal bias in the media is, though they increasingly know there is one to an extent… But the main point is that it doesn’t matter that this is the Times, because everyone else picked it up.

It’s been all over Fox all day, and I can only assume everywhere else. I’m sure the evening news programs will pick it up, etc. etc. That’s the problem. NY Times just sets the stage and the rest run wild with it, and outside of the right-side of the blogosphere, no one is getting the proper framing.

RightWinged on November 3, 2006 at 4:20 PM

True – Good post, RightWinged. As Laura Ingraham always points out, to the average working person who only has time to watch the nightly MSM news, this kind of story only gets played from the NYT’s point of view.

Rick on November 3, 2006 at 5:06 PM

Sorry RightWinged, screwed-up the quotes.

Rick on November 3, 2006 at 5:07 PM

THE EPITOME OF STUPIDITY
Until a WMD goes off on their front door, the NY Slimes will never get, what the war on terror is all about.

byteshredder on November 3, 2006 at 5:20 PM

In a very related development, check out the California Chronicle article posted on FreeRepublic (11/03/2006 12:34:25 PM PST). It says Clinton approved the CIA giving Iran blueprints for building an atomic bomb in what appears to have been a botched intelligence operation.

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on November 3, 2006 at 5:29 PM

That’s right RightWinged.

MSNBC is still running it as a Bush screwed up on releasing the info.

No mention of the proof of a year away.

BobK on November 3, 2006 at 4:30 PM

I’m actually iffy on that part BobK, it’s unclear what they meant about that (when they were a year away)… However the larger point the media needs to be asking, which I have to say I now saw John Gibson tackle, is “why is this stuff a danger to put up on the internet, I thought Saddam wasn’t a threat?” If it’s a threat for us to put this information on the internet, it was a threat in Saddam’s hands, plain and simple. But the even larger point than that is this document dump slow trickle of documents… I’d be willing to bet a tiny fraction of the public is even aware of what has been revealed in the few that have been released and translated. Head over to Captain’s Quarters if you need to catch up everyone. Saddam – Al Qaeda ties, ongoing WMD programs, etc. etc.

By the way, anyone seen the tabloids in the grocery store lately? I was at the store earlier and while waiting in line say “The Globe” (or one of those stupid things) and it had George and Laura on the front with giant headline announcing their impending divorce… I think it was Laura who “just couldn’t take it anymore” or something.

RightWinged on November 3, 2006 at 7:01 PM

The Iraqis need to tell Saddam, for his sentence, that they’ll send him to the Hague, and give him Milosevic’s doctors, if he doesn’t finally tell them where the WMD’s are.

Syria? Or in a sealed bunker under the flowing Tigris? Or…?

(The NYT will probably reveal that they exactly knew where they were all along …right after the 2008 election.)

profitsbeard on November 3, 2006 at 8:03 PM

Uhm, if this was such a blatant disregard for international security and nuclear proliferation, just where in the hell is the Non-Proliferation Treaty police???

Or could it be that the “private protests” of IAEA officials are overblown?

Politics over substance.

Free Constitution on November 4, 2006 at 3:39 AM

I live in a mid-sized city, where the local paper’s circulation serves three congressional districts, all of which are represented by Dems currently. My local paper, has not even printed the NYT story as of this morning’s issue. As election influencing November Surprises go, this one appears to have failed on the launch pad. By contrast, Kerry’s foibles made page A3 on Wednesday.

Dudley Smith on November 4, 2006 at 7:51 AM