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Monday, November 07, 2011

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Monday, November 7.
1) No more "slam dunks"

The soon to be released IAEA report on Iranian nuclear efforts is about to be released. The New York Times reports in U.S. Hangs Back as Inspectors Prepare Report on Iran’s Nuclear Program:
Iran has admitted in the past that it works on explosives at Parchin, and seven years ago it briefly allowed I.A.E.A. inspectors into the site to look around. But it insisted the work was entirely on conventional weapons, and the inspectors found no evidence to contradict those statements. “We took environmental samples, saw equipment, and didn’t notice any nuclear signatures at that stage,” said Olli Heinonen, the former chief inspector at the agency, who is now at Harvard. “Most of the high-explosive test installations we saw were still under construction.”
But something has changed in the ensuing years. The new Parchin intelligence emerged from a series of satellite photographs, documents, records of equipment sales and interviews with defectors and outside experts whom the Iranians appeared to have consulted. Some of that information came from the United States, Israel and Europe; the agency says it is publishing only information it could confirm.
Such accusations are always risky. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell came to regret the case he made about mobile biological weapons labs and other suspected sites in Iraq, and that is one reason the Obama administration wants the I.A.E.A. to take the lead. It has credibility that Washington does not.
I thought that Washington's credibility went up after President Bush was replaced by President Obama.

Ha'aretz reports (h/t Tamar Abraham)
The report's main importance is that it will emphasize that Iran has continued its various activities to produce nuclear weapons since 2004, and therefore the report will also invalidate the U.S. intelligence report from 2007 that stated Iran had stopped its work on nuclear weapons development in 2003.
What? The 2007 NIE was wrong? How could that be. David Ignatius wrote in Myth of the Mad Mullahs:
Meanwhile, the intelligence analysts responsible for Iran were given new encouragement to think outside the box. To break the lock-step culture that allowed the disastrous mistake on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, Deputy Director of National Intelligence Thomas Fingar ordered that analysts be given more information about sources and, rather than trying to fit information into preexisting boxes to prove a case, they should simply explain what it meant.
All these strands converged in the bombshell National Intelligence Estimate on Iran that was released Monday. That document was as close to a U-turn as one sees in the intelligence world. The community dropped its 2005 judgment that Iran was "determined to develop nuclear weapons" and instead said, "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program" because of international pressure.
The secret intelligence that produced this reversal came from multiple channels -- human sources as well as intercepted communications -- that arrived in June and July. At that time, a quite different draft of the Iran NIE was nearly finished. But the "volume and character" of the new information was so striking, says a senior official, that "we decided we've got to go back." It was this combination of data from different sources that gave the analysts "high confidence" the covert weapons program had been stopped in 2003. This led them to reject an alternative scenario (one of six) pitched by a "red team" of counterintelligence specialists that the new information was a deliberate Iranian deception.
To be sure there were those, at the time who were skeptical of the NIE. I wonder if Ignatius will admit his error.

2) Don't be cross

An editorial in the Washington Post blasts the cynicism of the legal campaign against Catholic University. In The Campaign against Catholic University, the editors write:
It’s a little hard to take the charges seriously considering no one actually claims to be aggrieved. Mr. Banzhaf acknowledged to The Post’s Michelle Boorstein that he had received no complaint from Muslim students but was acting on the basis of a 2010 Post article (which, to our mind, painted an overall positive experience of Muslim students at Catholic). The university has received no complaints from Muslim students and, in fact, reports a doubling of its Muslim enrollment since 2007, from 56 to 122. “Muslim college students are not hothouse flowers that need protection. If they had concerns, we would have heard them,” Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told us.
Someone who would be discomfited by outward signs of religion would presumably not choose to attend a Catholic university. Institutions with faith-based connections are under no requirement to change them to accommodate other faiths. Catholic should be mindful of the rights of its non-Catholic students and ensure fair treatment. If other religions are allowed to associate — which appears to be the case with Catholic sanctioning the Jewish Law Students Association — then Muslim students should be afforded the same courtesy. A university spokesman told us the JLSA is primarily cultural in nature, is tied to the study of law and does not involve proselytizing, a central concern of a university. There had been a Muslim law student group until its officers graduated and no students came forward to lead it.
For the record, I was also skeptical of the NIE at the time.

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At 10:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone who wasn't a Bush hating terrorist loving lefty knew the intel report was purely political. Bush basically had Iran surrounded and the left cut his legs out from under him.


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