Friday, November 03, 2006

That's it. They ALL must go!

From f a t c a t politics: WingNuts Reveal Nuclear Secrets

Ironically, it's the New York Times who broke the story repeated above, and Andy Card is already trying to blame the whole mess on them, again. More on that below. recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.

The site is down now, “pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing,” according to a spokesperson for the director of national intelligence. (John Negroponte).

I was wondering how the Bush White House would "spin" this. I mean, what could you possibly say in the face of such a terrifyingly dangerous fuckup?

This morning on NBC, former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card excused the Bush administration’s role in posting nuclear weapons secrets on a public web site, and instead blamed the New York Times for having “advertised” the secrets “to the world.”

So, you see, the REAL problem is not that there were actual diagrams and instructions for building a nuclear weapon written in Arabic on a US government website.

The PROBLEM is that the New York Times made it known it was there. It's not a problem that the Administration fucked up, because fuckups in private have no political fallout. And we all know by know that their only reality is political reality.

It's certainly not an act of treasonous incompetence to reveal secrets that generations of patriotic Americans at the CIA, DIA and DOA have lived and died to protect. No, no, not at all. Not if they don't get caught.

But it IS apparently "an attempt to affect the election" to let the American people know that the Administration has, once again, carelessly blown or squandered a major portion of US national security in the name of... what?

The campaign for the online archive was mounted by conservative publications and politicians, who said that the nation’s spy agencies had failed adequately to analyze the 48,000 boxes of documents seized since the March 2003 invasion. With the public increasingly skeptical about the rationale and conduct of the war, the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees argued that wide analysis and translation of the documents — most of them in Arabic — would reinvigorate the search for clues that Mr. Hussein had resumed his unconventional arms programs in the years before the invasion. American search teams never found such evidence.

Considering these facts, I think "attempting to affect the election" is a pretty damn good idea. But that is beside the point. Newspapers do not exist to cover the president's ass. Some do, some don't, but that's according to their own whim and to the degree they think prudent. I think it would be damn imprudent for any journalist of any political persuasion to turn a blind eye a situation that could cause you to get blowed up. Again.

Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, fearing that the information could help states like Iran develop nuclear arms, had privately protested last week to the American ambassador to the agency, according to European diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. One diplomat said the agency’s technical experts “were shocked” at the public disclosures.

Early this morning, a spokesman for Gregory L. Schulte, the American ambassador, denied that anyone from the agency had approached Mr. Schulte about the Web site.

The documents, roughly a dozen in number, contain charts, diagrams, equations and lengthy narratives about bomb building that nuclear experts who have viewed them say go beyond what is available elsewhere on the Internet and in other public forums. For instance, the papers give detailed information on how to build nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives, as well as the radioactive cores of atom bombs.

“For the U.S. to toss a match into this flammable area is very irresponsible,” said A. Bryan Siebert, a former director of classification at the federal Department of Energy, which runs the nation’s nuclear arms program. “There’s a lot of things about nuclear weapons that are secret and should remain so.”

In what diseased corner of what mad brain would it seem appropriate to release materials such as this without even a once-through to catch the obvious things, like, say, chemical diagrams, electronic circuits and the Arabic words for "Uranium" and "Plutonium?" I assumed that something like this must have been done. Clearly, I overestimated the intelligence of the Director of National Intelligence.

If I had a terribly suspicious mind, I might be tempted to think that this was part of some elaborate plot to ensure that terrorists COULD build nukes. After all, if they did build a nuke, it could become a pretext for all kinds of things that recent legislation indicates the President would like to do.

But "Never presume malice when stupidity is a sufficient explanation."

The director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte, had resisted setting up the Web site, which some intelligence officials felt implicitly raised questions about the competence and judgment of government analysts. But President Bush approved the site’s creation after Congressional Republicans proposed legislation to force the documents’ release.

I don't find it difficult to believe that this mess was caused by a state of sheer, comprehensive, willful ignorance. I'm quite sure that nobody even bothered to riffle through these documents to look at the pictures, and if anyone did, it was obviously not anyone with degrees in chemistry or nuclear physics. People with fact based mindsets like that, well, they just aren't politically reliable, are they? And after all, could a bunch of sand-monkeys really come up with anything that dangerous?

Let's remember what the Directorate Of National Intelligence really does: It's the department in charge of telling the President what he wants to hear.

The cold reality is this: It doesn't matter WHY the Bush Administration gave atomic weapons to terrorists. We have to assume they did. Here’s what was revealed, and how long it was available:

In September, the Web site began posting the nuclear documents, and some soon raised concerns. On Sept. 12, it posted a document it called “Progress of Iraqi nuclear program circa 1995.” That description is potentially misleading since the research occurred years earlier.

The Iraqi document is marked “Draft FFCD Version 3 (20.12.95),” meaning it was preparatory for the “Full, Final, Complete Disclosure” that Iraq made to United Nations inspectors in March 1996. The document carries three diagrams showing cross sections of bomb cores, and their diameters.

On Sept. 20, the site posted a much larger document, “Summary of technical achievements of Iraq’s former nuclear program.” It runs to 51 pages, 18 focusing on the development of Iraq’s bomb design. Topics included physical theory, the atomic core and high-explosive experiments. By early October, diplomats and officials said, United Nations arms inspectors in New York and their counterparts in Vienna were alarmed and discussing what to do.

So from September 20, 2006 to the evening of November 2nd, 2006, these documents were freely available to anyone who cared to look, which would include every intelligence agency in the world with any intelligence at all.

We have to rebuild our national security apparatus based on the assumption that those documents, which WERE available for weeks, are now common knowledge. Now, these documents will not help some random terrorist whomp up a nuke. It will require an already existing expertise – such as, say, exists in Korea. It could dramatically shorten the process of a non-nuclear state becoming a nuclear one, that is quite certain; as the documents contain a snapshot of the progress Iraq had made to a point some say would be about a year away from a functional nuclear weapon. Now, combine that with bits and pieces of information gleaned elsewhere and the result is a possibility of a Hiroshima type weapon lurking in the container port nearest you within the next couple of years.

Do you feel safer now?

There are some mistakes that you do not make. Ever. One of those mistakes is giving away highly classified materials that can cause one of your cities to go "pouf."

This administration would rather have left that material up on the site then call attention to their error by taking it down. Or in other words, YOUR life, and the lives of everyone you know are as nothing compared to them winning a midterm election.

Think of it: An Atomic Katrina in New York Harbor counted as "an acceptable risk" to maintain political power.

That is a chilling thought. Take that thought with you into the voting booth. Tell everyone you know. After you vote, tell every Republican candidate WHY you voted against them; from Senator down to dogcatcher.

That of course leads me to my own Sen. John Ensign, who serves on the following committees.

· Committee on Armed Services

o Subcommittee on Strategic Forces

o Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities

o Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support (Chairman)

Yeah, he's not just some senator. He has some pretty important duties that require that he have something to say about this situation and about his own involvement in this particular political stunt.

Perhaps something about Emerging Threats and Capabilities, as contrasted with our current Readiness and Management support, given a sudden and inconveniently located radioactive crater ringed by thousands of dying citizens.

Say something non-patronizing, John. This is the JOB part of the job, not the POLITICS part of the job.

[Update from the Carpetbagger Report]

I'll spare you the details of the far-right's rants, but Memorandum can point you in the right direction. In summary, conservatives are thrilled by the NYT scoop because, as they see it, the administration published seized Iraqi intelligence documents. If there were detailed secrets about how to make a nuclear bomb, this means … wait for it … Saddam "had a nuclear weapons program and was plotting to build an atomic bomb."

The right can hardly contain their glee. They were right all along! How foolish does the left feel now!

Uh, no. The NYT article said the documents offered "detailed accounts of Iraq's secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war." This little tidbit isn't buried deep into the article; it's right up in the second paragraph. It's kind of hard to miss.

In other words, the right is taking a humiliating article and making matters considerably worse by misunderstanding what it actually says. The revelations aren't proof that Saddam had an active nuclear weapons program before we invaded in 2003; it's proof that he sought nuclear weapons before we invaded in 1991. Of course, we already knew that.

Jonathan Schwarz offered a handy little summary.

Words fail me. Their Kool-Aid is a lot stronger than the stuff Jim Jones womped up.

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