NYT: Bush nixed weapons for Israeli raid on Iran, chose covert ops instead

posted at 9:23 pm on January 10, 2009 by Allahpundit

I wonder how long the Times has been sitting on this one.

There’s a lot to digest — too much for a thoughtful post tonight, I think — but let me gently suggest that they buried the lede. Quote:

The “key judgments” of the National Intelligence Estimate, which were publicly released [in December 2007], emphasized the suspension of the weapons work.

The public version made only glancing reference to evidence described at great length in the 140-page classified version of the assessment: the suspicion that Iran had 10 or 15 other nuclear-related facilities, never opened to international inspectors, where enrichment activity, weapons work or the manufacturing of centrifuges might be taking place.

The Israelis responded angrily and rebutted the American report, providing American intelligence officials and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with evidence that they said indicated that the Iranians were still working on a weapon.

Israel wasn’t our only ally who knew the NIE was garbage, first and foremost because enrichment, not weaponization, is the hard part in building a nuke and Iran’s been merrily improving its enrichment capabilities for years. Like I said when the report first came out, “The cause for celebration, especially on the left, isn’t that Iran is no longer a threat, it’s that it’s a threat that Bush has no grounds for confronting militarily and is unlikely to be able to pressure diplomatically. It’s the next president’s problem now.” And so it is.

The Times omitted details about the covert ops for obvious reasons, but evidently they involve sabotaging Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure. Old-school HA readers may remember these posts about the atomic black market; such is the sophistication needed for enrichment that even a nation as technologically advanced as Iran is forced to buy some necessary parts instead of producing them itself. Presumably the CIA’s interrupted the supply chain. But it may not do any good:

While declining to be specific, one American official dismissed the latest covert operations against Iran as “science experiments.” One senior intelligence official argued that as Mr. Bush prepared to leave office, the Iranians were already so close to achieving a weapons capacity that they were unlikely to be stopped…

One official … said, “It was not until the last year that they got really imaginative about what one could do to screw up the system.”

Then, he cautioned, “none of these are game-changers,” meaning that the efforts would not necessarily cripple the Iranian program. Others in the administration strongly disagree.

I can’t believe Israel would sit idly by while Iran builds a bomb if they thought the sabotage has no chance of succeeding. On the other hand, and as the story makes clear, their own assessments suggest that a bombing run would set Iran’s program back by only two or three years, or of course might not work at all — the chance of which, apparently, convinced Bush an attack wasn’t worth the risk. Exit question: Why’d the Times publish this now? My gut reaction after reading it was that they’ve made life much harder for The One, but upon reflection they might have simplified things for him considerably. Iran will have a field day with propaganda about this vis-a-vis the Great Satan trying to wreck its glorious national nuclear program; if Obama’s serious about “repairing our image abroad,” he has no choice now but to repudiate Bush’s policy and meet with them.


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Interesting dynamic at Powerline; if I copy and paste anything, the link simply takes you to the blog, rather than to the article of interest. Now, I’m a construction guy with limited computer skills. Maybe I’m butchering this technique. Most sites I visit allow me to link to a specific article.

Keemo on January 11, 2009 at 10:34 AM

Under ‘Share Post’ in PL, click on ‘Permalink’; that takes you to a ‘permanent’ page with just the post in question; then link to that URL.

Note that when you paste into HotAir, you lose the formatting, so we can’t tell which are the Times quotes and which are the PL comments. So you have to go through and use the ‘quote’ function here on the appropriate paragraphs.

There is a copyright issue when you copy and past a whole article, rather than ‘fair use’ excerpts. However, I doubt the PL guys will mind.

MrLynn on January 11, 2009 at 2:41 PM

Burt:

Hardware and power infrasctructure can be replaced in a few years.

The weak links are all the highly trained techs and scientists. Kill them and their program idles for the half-generation needed to replace these men.

Kristopher on January 11, 2009 at 3:56 PM

As much as I want to blame the NYT for publishing this, I really am angry at the traitors who leaked this information to a reporter. If it is indeed true what is written, then those fools broke the law and they are the ones we should be angry at. What did they think a reporter was going to do with a story like this, forget it?

I really wish people privy to classified information would keep their mouths SHUT.

nemecizer on January 11, 2009 at 4:27 PM

As much as I want to blame the NYT for publishing this, I really am angry at the traitors who leaked this information to a reporter. If it is indeed true what is written, then those fools broke the law and they are the ones we should be angry at. What did they think a reporter was going to do with a story like this, forget it?

I really wish people privy to classified information would keep their mouths SHUT.

nemecizer on January 11, 2009 at 4:27 PM

Good point. Remember, ‘Loose lips sink ships.” What has happened to ethic of self-preservation among our citizens?

I think that if President Bush had asked for, and gotten, a Declaration of War on September 12, 2001, treasonous behavior, like leaking State secrets to the press, would have been investigated and punished.

MrLynn on January 11, 2009 at 7:42 PM

Either course could carry risks for Mr. Obama. An inherited intelligence or military mission that went wrong could backfire, as happened to President Kennedy with the Bay of Pigs operation in Cuba. But a decision to pull back on operations aimed at Iran could leave Mr. Obama vulnerable to charges that he is allowing Iran to speed ahead toward a nuclear capacity, one that could change the contours of power in the Middle East.

Wasn’t Kennedy’s problem that he did pull back on the Bay of Pigs operation, as in air support?

aikidoka on January 11, 2009 at 8:37 PM

keep the change on January 10, 2009 at 11:52 PM

Don’t be so sure of that.

Israel’s present operation may (partially) be a pre-emptive elimiation of Gaza’s Iranian proxy, Hamas.

The Israelis know Hamas would be of the first retaliatory tools in Iran’s tool-box.

{Along with Hezbollah in Lebanon.}

soundingboard on January 11, 2009 at 11:28 PM

“The covert American program, started in early 2008, includes renewed American efforts to penetrate Iran’s nuclear supply chain abroad, along with new efforts, some of them experimental, to undermine electrical systems, computer systems and other networks on which Iran relies.”

Un frigging believable!
What exactly is the “need to know” here?

Ya just gave Iran a starting point to look for “who” and “what”

News flash!
NYT June 5th 1944

NYT has just learned that an invasion fleet has left England and will be landing on the beaches in Normandy within the next 3 hr’s

Here’s a map showing exactly where the landings will take place.

Our ACE reporter in Berlin has just left a meeting with the Nazi high command, he reports that the Nazis are very impressed with the invasion plans and thanks the NYT for giving them a heads up!

DSchoen on January 12, 2009 at 6:01 PM

“I question the timing.
—- sigh —-
hillbillyjim”

You noticed that too!

Notice how things always happen just before or after or during something else?

DSchoen on January 12, 2009 at 6:54 PM

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