Via Dan Riehl, Fox News has picked up the scent of that bizarre story I linked in the Bush post this morning about the Syrian ambassador to the UN allegedly admitting during a UN committee meeting that Israel’s air raid on September 6 hit some sort of nuclear facility. And they’ve got a piece of paper to show for it:
A high-ranking Syrian official confirmed that Israel’s airstrike last month in northern Syria hit a nuclear facility, according to a document obtained Wednesday by FOX News.
“Israel was the fourth-largest exporter of weapons of mass destruction and a violator of other nations’ airspace, and it had taken action against nuclear facilities, including the 6 July attack in Syria,” Syrian representative Bassam Darwish is quoted in the document as saying.
Diplomats familiar with the document cannot explain why July 6 was invoked, instead of Sept. 6, the date both countries say an incident occurred. A State Department source tells FOX News the best explanation is that Darwish misspoke…
One U.S. delegate told colleagues he could not believe his ears when the Syrian diplomat made his statement and that the resulting document was close to verbatim, and another source told FOX News the document reinforces what people heard [the Syrian representative] say in the actual debate.
Note once again that quotation in the second paragraph of the blockquote. Now here’s the problem. The Fox article links to what it claims is the document in question at the UN website. Except … that quotation doesn’t appear in the UN document. Here’s what does; it’s a paraphrase of the Syrian ambassador’s remarks:
Moreover, the entity that was the fourth largest exporter of lethal weapons in the world, that which violated the airspace of sovereign States and carried out military aggression against them, as had happened on 6 September against Syria, such an entity, with all those characteristics and more, had no right to go on lying without shame.
No mention of July and certainly no mention of anything nuclear. Unless you believe the Foxies are just making things up wholesale — and at the risk of offending our three lefty readers, I don’t — then the UN document has obviously been redacted since Fox’s story went live. The question is, assuming the ambassador did say July instead of September, are we sure he misspoke? Remember, there was a notorious “accident” in Syria in July allegedly involving the installation of chemical warheads on Syrian missiles. The “accident” supposedly killed dozens of Iranian engineers and multiple Syrian soldiers; it was significant enough that a respected intel think tank reported on it at the time. Raw Story tried to connect that incident to the September 6 air raid a few weeks ago, albeit denying all the while that there was any nuclear facility involved in the latter attack. So now I’m wondering: was there more than meets the eye to the July incident, such that the ambassador might reference that month in the context of talking about an Israeli attack? No way to tell at the moment but worth flagging in the likely event that there’s more to come on this story.
Update: As suspected, the google cache proves that the UN document was indeed redacted. Follow the link and you’ll find the paragraph quoted by Fox verbatim. Thanks to the various people who tipped us on this.
The United Nations on Wednesday backtracked on a report that had quoted a Syrian official as saying an Israeli airstrike hit a nuclear facility in Syria, blaming an interpreter’s error for the purported comment that made headlines across the Middle East…
The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency, SANA, quoted an unidentified Foreign Ministry official as saying the representative was misquoted.
After more than seven hours of investigation Wednesday, U.N. officials agreed that was the case.
“There was an interpretation error made yesterday when the First Committee was in session,” U.N. associate spokesman Farhan Haq said. “There was no use of the word nuclear.”
Do a word search in the UN document and see for yourself how many times the word “nuclear” was used during the meeting, including by Arabic-speaking diplomats from Kuwait and Lebanon. The interpreter got it right everywhere else in the document — but just happened to make a mistake at a fantastically sensitive part of the Syrian ambassador’s statement? The guy obviously let the genie out of the bottle inadvertently and now the UN is trying to put it back in before it sets people in the region even further on edge. Beyond pathetic.