On Monday, 14 November 2011, the French Consul in the Gaza Strip, Majdi Jameel Yaseen Shaqqoura, 44, and his two children were wounded in an Israeli attack on the Palestinian Navy site in the southwest of Beit Lahia, located in northern Gaza. They were in their home when they were injured by shrapnel. Additionally, as a result of the same attack the consul’s wife suffered from hemorrhage that led to a miscarriage.
According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) Majdi Shaqqoura was in his home, located behind al-Nawras Resort in al-Soudaniya area, southwest of Beit Lahia, at the time of the attack. Shaqqoura was watching TV in the house’s sitting room which is surrounded by large windows, together with his relative and three children: Arwa, 9, Rawan, 13, and Mohammed, 8. At 2:00 in the morning they suddenly heard an explosion that rocked the house. In his testimony to PCHR, Shaqqoura said that windows of the sitting room broke in the blast. He and his relative rushed to protect the children.
Then a second explosion took place which broke all the windows, and resulted in shrapnel injuries to Shaqqoura’s leg and Rawan’s hand and back. Shaqqoura added that, at the same time, his wife Majda Shaqqoura, 42, and her brother were on their way to the home in her car. They were 150 meters away from the bombardment site. As a result, Majda suffered from a hemorrhage injury. Her brother transported her to al-Awda Hospital, where she miscarried, being in the second month of her pregnancy.
At approximately 01:55 on Monday, 14 November 2011, the Israeli warplanes launched four missiles at a Palestinian Navy site located at the beach, in front of al-Nawras Resort, in the al-Soudaniya area. This area is located in the southwest of Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip. The attack resulted in the killing of first sergeant Mohammed Zaher Zaki al-Kilani, 22, from Beit Lahia, whose body was torn into pieces. The Civil Defense found al-Kilani’s body buried under the rubble after approximately one hour of searching for him. Five other members were wounded, one of whom sustained serious wounds. The attack resulted in the full destruction of the Navy’s site, which is has an approximate surface of 2,000 square meters. The building consists of an operation office, bedroom, place for prayer, administration office, office of the site’s chief, and five additional offices for meetings and detention. Besides, a blue Magnum jeep and a motorbike were destroyed.
Additionally, two other civilians were wounded by glass shrapnel throughout their bodies and were transported to the hospital for treatment.
PCHR reiterates its condemnation of these crimes, and:
1. Stresses that these crimes form part of systematic violations perpetrated in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly the Gaza Strip, which reflects Israeli forces’ disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians;
2. Warns of further escalation in hostilities, which may result in the targeting of civilians and their property, in light of statements made by Israeli politicians and military leaders; and
3. Calls upon the international community to immediately take an action to stop such crimes and reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1 which stipulates “the High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances,” and their obligations under Article 146 which requires that the Contracting Parties prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and under Protocol I Additional to Geneva Conventions.
“It is perfectly perfectly possible for a man to be out of prison, and yet not free. To be under no physical constraint and yet to be psychological captive, compelled to think, feel and act as the representatives of the national state or some private interest within the nation wants him to think feel and act.”
– Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited (1958)
“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”
– George W. Bush, Greece, NY (May 24, 2005)
Last night’s GOP debate in South Carolina proved a few things (beyond revealing widespread Republican support for torture and the permanent military occupation of Middle Eastern countries): Republican candidates – with the notable exception of Ron Paul – are really scared of an Iranian nuclear weapons program that doesn’t exist. In fact, some of them – not Herman Cain – would really like to see the Islamic Republic bombed by the United States or Israel or both as soon as possible.
Mitt Romney declared, “If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if you elect Mitt Romney, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon.” He added that, if harsh sanctions and continued sabotage and assassinations don’t curb Iran’s uranium enrichment, he would “absolutely” support a military assault to prevent an “unacceptable” Iranian nuclear weapon.
Newt Gingrich agreed, saying, “you have to take whatever steps are necessary.” Rick Santorum was really hopeful that the United States is engaged in international terrorism by murdering Iranian scientists and encouraged the U.S. and Israel to “take out” Iran’s “nuclear capability” with air strikes.
Herman Cain and Rick Perry, meanwhile, suggested that economic warfare is the way to go. Cain advocated further sanctions and financial support to Iranian terrorist groups like the MEK in order to foment violent regime change. Perry said, “This country can sanction the Iranian central bank right now and shut down that country’s economy, and that’s what the president needs to do,” which would undoubtedly be an act of war.
Only Ron Paul dissented, stating that “it isn’t worthwhile” to start a war with Iran. “I’m afraid what’s going on right now,” Paul reminded the crowd, “is similar to the war propaganda that went on against Iraq and, you know, they didn’t have weapons of mass destruction.”
He’s not wrong. By taking a trip down the memory hole, it’s clear that what we’ve been hearing about Iran for the past three decades bears a striking resemblance to the lies we were told about Iraq in the years leading up to the invasion, occupation, and devastation of that country. The record demonstrates, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that fear-mongering and propagandizing about “weapons of mass destruction” was not solely a Republican pastime. Lying about evil Muslim nukes was, and continues to be, a bipartisan affair.
Away we go!
In his State of the Union address on January 27, 1998, Bill Clinton said, “Together we must also confront the new hazards of chemical and biological weapons and the outlaw states, terrorists and organized criminals seeking to acquire them. Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade and much of his nation’s wealth not on providing for the Iraqi people, but on developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and the missiles to deliver them.” Directing his remarks to the Iraqi leader he added, “We are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again.”
The next month, on February 4, 1998, Clinton declared that “one way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction. That is our bottom line.” Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott concurred and called for regime change in Iraq: “We should do everything we can to get this resolved and find a way to have him removed from office, one way or the other.” Also in agreement was House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who explained, “My hope is that military planning will be designed to coerce him or replace him and will not simply punish him and leave him in charge of building the weapons. That’s not a victory. That’s a defeat.”
On February 12, 1998, Delaware Senator Joe Biden stated, “Fateful decisions will be made in the days and weeks ahead. At issue is nothing less than the fundamental question of whether or not we can keep the most lethal weapons known to mankind out of the hands of an unreconstructed tyrant and aggressor who is in the same league as the most brutal dictators of this century.” His colleague Senator Tom Daschle added, “It is essential that a dictator like Saddam not be allowed to evade international strictures and wield frightening weapons of mass destruction…Neither the United States nor the global community can afford to allow Saddam Hussein to continue on this path.”
On February 18, 1998, discussing Iraq, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright warned on CNN “that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.”
In a letter to Bill Clinton, sent on October 9, 1998, twenty-seven members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, including Daschle, Carl Levin, Chris Dodd, Joe Lieberman, John McCain, Jon Kyl, Dianne Feinstein, Strom Thurmond, John Kerry, and Rick Santorum, called upon the president “to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs.”
On December 16, 1998, California Representative Nancy Pelosi told Congress, “Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process. The responsibility of the United States in this conflict is to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, to minimize the danger to our troops and to diminish the suffering of the Iraqi people.”
On November 10, 1999, Madeleine Albright informed a gathering in Chicago that Saddam Hussein “has chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction, and palaces for his cronies.”
On December 5, 2001, nine Senators, including John McCain, Trent Lott, Jesse Helms, and Joe Lieberman, sent a letter to George W. Bush appealing for military action against Iraq: “The threat from Iraq is real, and it cannot be permanently contained. For as long as Saddam Hussein is in power in Baghdad, he will seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. We have no doubt that these deadly weapons are intended for use against the United States and its allies. Consequently, we believe we must directly confront Saddam, sooner rather than later.”
In his very first State of the Union address, on January 2002, George W. Bush said, “Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror,” before also claiming that “Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror” and insisting that “the Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade.” He then referred to both, along with North Korea, as constituting “an axis of evil,” which “threaten[s] the peace of the world.” Bush continued, “By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger” and warned that “time is not on our side.” Nevertheless, Bush declared, “I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”
Speaking to the press from Qatar on June 11, 2002, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld respondedto a question about a recent comment he had made doubting Iraqi claims:
I was asked a question about Iraq announcing the day before that they do not have weapons of mass destruction, and they asked me what I thought about that. I said, “That’s a lie,” and I may have even said, “That’s a world class lie.”
Now that’s true; it is a lie. They do have weapons of mass destruction. They’ve used chemical weapons on their people, they have had an aggressive program to develop nuclear weapons, and there is no question that they are developing biological weapons.
Now why did I say that? I said that because it is true. The truth has a certain virtue it seems to me. What I said didn’t raise tensions, what raises tensions in the region is Saddam Hussein developing weapons of mass destruction and threatening neighbors.
Addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars 103rd National Convention on August 26, 2002, Dick Cheney said, “But we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons…Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon…Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.”
Speaking with former Jerusalem Post correspondent and AIPAC newsletter editor Wolf Blitzer on CNN on September 8, 2002, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said, “We know that [Saddam Hussein] has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon. And we know that when the inspectors assessed this after the Gulf War, he was far, far closer to a crude nuclear device than anybody thought, maybe six months from a crude nuclear device.” She famously continued, “The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t what the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
On September 10, 2002, David Albright and Corey Hinderstein of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) wrote that “[h]igh-resolution commercial satellite imagery shows an apparently operational facility at the site of Iraq’s al Qaim phosphate plant and uranium extraction facility (Unit-340), located in northwest Iraq near the Syrian border” and determined, “Unless inspectors go to the site and investigate all activities, the international community cannot exclude the possibility that Iraq is secretly producing a stockpile of uranium in violation of its commitments under Security Council resolutions. The uranium could be used in a clandestine nuclear weapons effort.”
On September 12, 2002, George W. Bush toldthe United Nations General Assembly, “Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons,” continuing, “United Nations inspections also reveal that Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard, and other chemical agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.” He didn’t stop there:
“Today, Iraq continues to withhold important information about its nuclear program — weapons design, procurement logs, experiment data, an accounting of nuclear materials, and documentation of foreign assistance. Iraq employs capable nuclear scientists and technicians. It retains physical infrastructure needed to build a nuclear weapon…Should Iraq acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year.”
He also asserted that “Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence,” before stating, “The first time we may be completely certain he has a — nuclear weapons is when, God forbids, he uses one.”
On September 19, 2002, Carl Levin opened a Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on U.S. Policy on Iraq by stating, “We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandates of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.”
On September 23, 2002, former VIce President Al Gore told the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, “What makes Saddam dangerous is his effort to acquire weapons of mass destruction. What makes terrorists so much more dangerous than they have ever been is the prospect that they may get access to weapons of mass destruction,” continuing, “Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter, and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.” While encouraging diplomatic efforts, Gore concluded, “The president should be authorized to take action to deal with Saddam Hussein as being in material breach of the terms of the truce and therefore a continuing threat to the security of the region. To this should be added that his continued pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is potentially a threat to the vital interests of the United States.”
On September 27, 2002, Senator Ted Kennedy, speaking at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said, “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein’s regime is a serious danger, that he is a tyrant, and that his pursuit of lethal weapons of mass destruction cannot be tolerated. He must be disarmed.” Later in his speech, Kennedy declared, “We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction,” adding, “Clearly, we must halt Saddam Hussein’s quest for weapons of mass destruction,” then noted he was opposed to war.
In October 2002, a United States National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) judged with “high confidence” that “Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding, its chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs contrary to UN resolutions.” The NIE also stated, “If Baghdad acquires sufficient fissile material from abroad it could make a nuclear weapon within several months to a year,” but that even “[w]ithout such material from abroad, Iraq probably would not be able to make a weapon until 2007 to 2009.”
On October 3, 2002, Senator Robert Byrd wrote in The New York Times, “We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities,” adding, “Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons.”
In a radio address on October 5, 2002, George W. Bush stated, “The danger to America from the Iraqi regime is grave and growing.”
The same day, ubiquitous “nuclear expert” David Albright opined on CNN, “In terms of the chemical and biological weapons, Iraq has those now. How many, how could they deliver them? I mean, these are the big questions.”
During a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, on October 7, 2002, George W. Bush warned the crowd of Iraq’s “drive toward an arsenal of terror,” insisting that Iraq “possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.” Bush declared, “Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more. And he is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon.” He added, “If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year.”
The same day, Senator John Edwards addressed the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C. and said, “My position is very clear: The time has come for decisive action to eliminate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. I am a co-sponsor of the bipartisan resolution we’re currently considering.” He continued,
“Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave threat to America and our allies — including our vital ally, Israel. For more than 20 years, Saddam has obsessively sought weapons of mass destruction through every possible means. We know that he has chemical and biological weapons today, that he has used them in the past, and that he is doing everything he can to build more. Every day he gets closer to his longtime goal of nuclear capability. We must not allow him to get nuclear weapons.”
On October 9, 2002, Senator John Kerry determined to “give the President of the United States the authority to use force — if necessary — to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.”
On October 10, 2002, John Rockefeller, speaking on the Senate floor, said, “There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years,” he declared that “Saddam Hussein represents a grave threat to the United States,” and determined “we must use force to deal with him if all other means fail.”
Also addressing the Senate on October 10, 2002, Hillary Clinton said, “In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program,” adding, “It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.”
The same day, Representative Henry Waxman expressed his agreement with George W. Bush that “we cannot leave Saddam to continue on his present course. No one doubts that he is trying to build a nuclear device, and when he does, his potential for blackmail to dominate the Persian Gulf and Middle East will be enormous, and our efforts to deal with him [will] be even more difficult and perilous. The risks of inaction clearly outweigh the risks of action.”
Two days later, on October 12, 2002, George W. Bush assured his radio audience, “Confronting Iraq is an urgent matter of national security.”
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said on December 2, 2002, “Saddam Hussein does not exactly have a track record of telling the world the truth…If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world…And so it’s, on the one hand, mildly encouraging that Iraq would now admit to what it’s been doing. But on the other hand, a lie is still a lie…they sought to produce these for the purpose of production of nuclear weapons, not conventional.”
On December 8, 2002, Senator Bob Graham revealed on Face the Nation, “We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction.” He later repeated that he had personally “seen enough evidence…seen enough just to be satisfied that there has been a continuing effort by Saddam Hussein, since the end of the Gulf War, particularly since 1998, to reestablish and enhance Iraq’s capacity, weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological and nuclear.”
The next month, on January 9, 2003, when a reporter asked Fleischer whether it would be “disappointing…if there were no weapons there [in Iraq],” Fleischer responded confidently, “We know for a fact that there are weapons there.”
During a speech at Georgetown University on January 23, 2003, John Kerry stated that “without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime” and who “presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation.” Kerry continued, “And now he is miscalculating America’s response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction,” reiterating that “the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real.”
On January 28, 2003, George W. Bush delivered his State of the Union address. In it, he said, “Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent,” and declared:
“The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.”
Furthermore, Bush claimed, “With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region” and could “[s]ecretly, and without fingerprints…provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.” He assured the American people and the world that, on February 5, 2003, “Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence about Iraqi’s legal — Iraq’s illegal weapons programs, its attempt to hide those weapons from inspectors, and its links to terrorist groups.”
Early in Colin Powell’s presentation before the UN Security Council, he declared, “Indeed, the facts and Iraq’s behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction,” and doubled-down on this claim toward the end: “We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction; he’s determined to make more.” He declared, “We have no indication that Saddam Hussein has ever abandoned his nuclear weapons program,” adding, “Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb.”
Three days later, during a radio address, George W. Bush said, “The Iraqi regime has acquired and tested the means to deliver weapons of mass destruction. It has never accounted for thousands of bombs and shells capable of delivering chemical weapons. It is actively pursuing components for prohibited ballistic missiles. And we have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons — the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.”
On February 10, 2003, White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters aboard Air Force One that Iraq was “an imminent threat.”
On March 7, 2003, twelve days before the United States invaded Iraq, Colin Powell again addressed the UN Security Council and commented on a recent IAEA report on Iraq. He said, “As we all know, in 1991 the IAEA was just days away from determining that Iraq did not have a nuclear program. We soon found out otherwise,” adding, that “Iraq has obstructed the inspectors at nearly every turn over the years.” He told the Council, “So has the strategic decision been made to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction by the leadership in Baghdad? I think our judgment has to be clearly not.” Though Powell paid lip-service to claim that “Nobody wants war,” he warned against inaction, stating, “Iraq [is] once again marching down the merry path to weapons of mass destruction, threatening the region, threatening the world” and ending his address by stating, “The clock continues to tick, and the consequences of Saddam Hussein continued refusal to disarm will be very, very real.”
On March 16, 2003, Dick Cheney told Tim Russert on Meet the Press that even positive overtures by Saddam Hussein would be ignored. “If he gave everything up tomorrow and stays in power, you have to assume that as soon as the world is looking the other way and preoccupied with other issues, he’d be back again rebuilding his weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons capabilities and once again reconstituting his nuclear program,” Cheney said. “At the front of our concern is the proposition that the al Qaeda organization is absolutely determined to do everything they can to acquire chemical, biological and nuclear weapons,” Cheney later remarked. “Saddam Hussein becomes a prime suspect in that regard because of his past track record and we know he has developed these kinds of capabilities,” he said, continuing “We know he has used chemical weapons. We know he has reconstituted these programs since the Gulf War. We know he’s out trying again to produce nuclear weapons and we know he has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups, including the al Qaeda organization.”
On March 17, 2003, George W. Bush told the nation, “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised,” continuing, “The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other.”
From the Oval Office on March 19, 2003, George W. Bush said, “The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder” and stressed that “[w]e come to Iraq with respect for its citizens, for their great civilization and for the religious faiths they practice. We have no ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people.”
On March 21, 2003, White House spokeman Ari Fleischer told the press, “Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly,” and said the U.S. charges would be vindicated “in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes.” Regarding the large number of journalists embedded with the invading troops, Fleischer declared, “you will find the answers and they will speak volumes themselves.”
The next day, speaking in Qatar, General Tommy Franks told reporters, “There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. As this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them.”
On March 23, 2003, Kenneth Adelman, former Reagan official and Pentagon advisor, told The Washington Post, “I have no doubt we’re going to find big stores of weapons of mass destruction,” claiming these caches were around Tikrit and Baghdad. The Post also quoted Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Victoria Clarke as affirming the U.S. knowledge of “a number of sites” where Iraqi WMD would be found.
A week later, in an interview with ABC‘s George Stephanopoulos on March 30, 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld explained that, at that point, the U.S. military invading Iraq “happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed,” but assured his host, “We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.”
On April 2, 2003, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw noted, “Saddam’s removal is necessary to eradicate the threat from his weapons of mass destruction.”
On April 10, 2003, Ari Fleischer told a White House press briefing, “But make no mistake — as I said earlier — we have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. That is what this war was about and it is about. And we have high confidence it will be found.”
On April 20, 2003, David Albright of ISIS, despite being a source of many of the pre-invasion claims about Iraq’s nuclear program, told the Los Angeles Times, “If there are no weapons of mass destruction, I’ll be mad as hell. I certainly accepted the administration claims on chemical and biological weapons. I figured they were telling the truth. If there is no [unconventional weapons program], I will feel taken, because they asserted these things with such assurance.”
Addressing factory workers at the Lima Army Tank Plant in Ohio on April 24, 2003, George W. Bush stated, “We are now working to locate and destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction,” adding that “it’s going to take time to find them. But we know he had them. And whether he destroyed them, moved them, or hid them, we’re going to find out the truth. And one thing is for certain: Saddam Hussein no longer threatens America with weapons of mass destruction.”
On April 25, 2003, Donald Rumsfeld explained that the U.S. was close to being able to “track down the weapons of mass destruction in that country.” The same day, The New York Times quoted George W. Bush as telling Tom Brokaw aboard Air Force One, “I think there’s going to be skepticism until people find out there was, in fact, a weapons of mass destruction program,” but acknowledged, “it’s going to take time to find them.”
Speaking from his ranch in Crawford, Texas on May 3, 2003, alongside Australian Prime Minister John Howard, George W. Bush told the press, “Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The United States — United Nations Security Council voted 1441, which made the declaration it had weapons of mass destruction. It’s well-known it had weapons of mass destruction. And we’ve also got to recognize that he spent 14 years hiding weapons of mass destruction. I mean, he spent an entire decade making sure that inspectors would never find them. Iraq’s the size of the state of California. It’s got tunnels, caves, all kinds of complexes. We’ll find them. And it’s just going to be a matter of time to do so.”
On May 4, 2003, Colin Powell told reporters, “And I’m absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there and the evidence will be forthcoming. We’re just getting it just now.”
On May 6, 2003, in the Oval Office, George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld were asked by the press whether evidence of WMD would be forthcoming. Bush responded, “I’m not surprised if we begin to uncover the weapons program of Saddam Hussein — because he had a weapons program. I will leave the details of your question to the experts, but one thing we know is that he had a weapons program. We also know he spent years trying to hide the weapons program. And over time the truth will come out and the American people will see that when we rid Saddam Hussein from — got him out of power, we made America more secure.” When a reporter asked what the Defense Secretary’s thoughts were, Rumsfeld replied curtly, “I like the President’s answer.”
As the official story began to change, Condoleezza Rice defensively claimed that the U.S. government never expected that “we were going to open garages and find” weapons of mass destruction and, on May 13, 2003, General David Petraeus suggested all weapons may have been “destroyed years ago” or right before the war” or may still be “hidden.” Nevertheless, on May 21, 2003, Marine Corps. commander General Hagee told The New York Times, ”Before the war, there’s no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical. I expected them to be found. I still expect them to be found.” A few days later, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers, in an Today Show interview on NBC, said “Given time, given the number of prisoners now that we’re interrogating, I’m confident that we’re going to find weapons of mass destruction.”
On May 29, 2003, George W. Bush, during an interview with TVP, a Polish broadcast, “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They’re illegal. They’re against the United Nations resolutions, and we’ve so far discovered two. And we’ll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they’re wrong, we found them.”
Despite Bush’s protestations, it was clear there were no weapons to find. During a teleconference on May 30, 2003, Lt. General James Conway, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq, admitted,
“It was a surprise to me then, it remains a surprise to me now, that we have not uncovered weapons, as you say, in some of the forward dispersal sites. Again, believe me, it’s not for lack of trying. We’ve been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they’re simply not there. Now, what that means in terms of intelligence failure, I think, is too strong a word to use at this point. What the regime was intending to do in terms of its use of the weapons, we thought we understood or we certainly had our best guess, our most dangerous, our most likely courses of action that the intelligence folks were giving us. We were simply wrong. But whether or not we’re wrong at the national level, I think, still very much remains to be seen.”
In stark contrast to this statement, at a press briefing the very same day, Army Major General Keith W. Dayton, Defense Intelligence Agency operations director and head of the government’s Iraq Study Group, said, “Do I think we’re going to find something? Yeah, I kind of do, because I think there’s a lot of information out there, and that’s why I tell you, this is going to be a deliberate process, but it will be a long-term process as well. This is not necessarily going to be quick and easy, but it will be very thorough.”
On June 9, 2003, following a White House Cabinet meeting, George W. Bush was quoted by Reuters as claiming, “Iraq had a weapons program. Intelligence throughout the decade showed they had a weapons program. I am absolutely convinced with time we’ll find out they did have a weapons program.”
On August 24, 2003, General Myers told Tim Russert on Meet the Press that the discovery of WMD would happen eventually, explaining, “the system we have in place, the process we have in place will work, and we’ll find what we are after.”
On September 14, 2003, Dick Cheney told Tim Russert on Meet the Press, “There’s no doubt in my mind but what Saddam Hussein had these capabilities. This wasn’t an idea cooked up overnight by a handful of people, either in the administration or out of the CIA,” later reiterating, “I think in the final analysis, we will find that the Iraqis did have a robust program…So I say I’m not willing at all at this point to buy the proposition that somehow Saddam Hussein was innocent and he had no WMD and some guy out at the CIA, because I called him, cooked up a report saying he did. That’s crazy. That makes no sense. It bears no resemblance to reality whatsoever.”
On October 2, 2003, in a statement before Congress, former weapons inspector and Iraq Study Group head David Kay said, “We have not yet found stocks of weapons, but we are not yet at the point where we can say definitively either that such weapon stocks do not exist or that they existed before the war and our only task is to find where they have gone.” He added, “Despite evidence of Saddam’s continued ambition to acquire nuclear weapons, to date we have not uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998 steps to actually build nuclear weapons or produce fissile material.”
The consequences of such repeated lies have been devastating. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Iraqis have been killed. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), “4.7 million Iraqis have been uprooted as a result of the crisis in Iraq. Of these, over 2 million are living as refugees in neighbouring countries.” Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi women have been widowed and an estimated 5 million Iraqi children have been orphaned.
Since March 19, 2003, at least 4,483 American military personnel have died in Iraq. Tens of thousands more have been wounded, an estimated 20% of all Iraq veterans suffer from PTSD, and an average of 18 veterans commit suicide every day.
And now, the same claims that drove the U.S. to invade Iraq are being made again, often by many of the same people promoting identical lies and stoking fear. The drums of war continue to beat louder and louder, attempting to drown out the voices of reason and reality.
In his 1946 introduction to Brave New World, Aldous Huxley wrote, “The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.”
Now is not the time to remain silent.
***** ***** *****
A debt of gratitude is due to the following sources for helping to make this post possible:
“Iraq WMD Lies: The Words of Mass Deception,” What Really Happened
“Bush Administration Officials’ Lies about Iraq’s Supposed Weapons of Mass Destruction in Their Own Words,” compiled by Jackson Thoreau, Global Research, 02.18.2004
“A History Of Lies: WMD, Who Said What and When,” Information Clearing House
“In Their Own Words: Who Said What When,” PBS, 10.09.2003
“Pre-War Quotes from Democrats,” Reasons for War: Things You Might Have Forgotten about Iraq
I am a former U.N. weapons inspector. I started my work with the United Nations in September 1991, and between that date and my resignation in August 1998, I participated in over 30 inspections, 14 as chief inspector. The United Nations Special Commission, or UNSCOM, was the organization mandated by the Security Council with the implementation of its resolutions requiring Iraq to be disarmed of its weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities. While UNSCOM oversaw the areas of chemical and biological weapons, and ballistic missiles, it shared the nuclear file with the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA. As such, UNSCOM, through a small cell of nuclear experts on loan from the various national weapons laboratories, would coordinate with the nuclear safeguards inspectors from the IAEA, organized into an “Action Team” dedicated to the Iraq nuclear disarmament problem. UNSCOM maintained political control of the process, insofar as its executive chairman was the only one authorized to approve a given inspection mission. At first, the IAEA and UNSCOM shared the technical oversight of the inspection process, but soon this was transferred completely to the IAEA’s Action Team, and UNSCOM’s nuclear staff assumed more of an advisory and liaison function.
In August 1992 I began cooperating closely with IAEA’s Action Team, traveling to Vienna, where the IAEA maintained its headquarters. The IAEA had in its possession a huge cache of documents seized from Iraq during a series of inspections in the summer of 1991 and, together with other U.N. inspectors, I was able to gain access to these documents for the purpose of extracting any information which might relate to UNSCOM’s non-nuclear mission. These documents proved to be very valuable in that regard, and a strong working relationship was developed. Over the coming years I frequently traveled to Vienna, where I came to know the members of the IAEA Action Team as friends and dedicated professionals. Whether poring over documents, examining bits and pieces of equipment (the IAEA kept a sample of an Iraqi nuclear centrifuge in its office) or ruminating about the difficult political situation that was Iraq over wine and cheese on a Friday afternoon, I became familiar with the core team of experts who composed the IAEA Action Team.
I bring up this history because during the entire time of my intense, somewhat intimate cooperation with the IAEA Action Team, one name that never entered into the mix was David Albright. Albright is the president of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS, an institute which he himself founded), and has for some time now dominated the news as the “go-to” guy for the U.S. mainstream media when they need “expert opinion” on news pertaining to nuclear issues. Most recently, Albright could be seen commenting on a report he authored, released by ISIS on June 16, in which he discusses the alleged existence of a computer owned by Swiss-based businessmen who were involved in the A.Q. Khan nuclear black market ring. According to Albright, this computer contained sensitive design drawings of a small, sophisticated nuclear warhead which, he speculates, could fit on a missile delivery system such as that possessed by Iran.
I have no objection to an academically based think tank capable of producing sound analysis about the myriad nuclear-based threats the world faces today. But David Albright has a track record of making half-baked analyses derived from questionable sources seem mainstream. He breathes false legitimacy into these factually challenged stories by cloaking himself in a résumé which is disingenuous in the extreme. Eventually, one must begin to question the motives of Albright and ISIS. No self-respecting think tank would allow itself to be used in such an egregious manner. The fact that ISIS is a creation of Albright himself, and as such operates as a mirror image of its founder and president, only underscores the concerns raised when an individual lacking in any demonstrable foundation of expertise has installed himself into the mainstream media in a manner that corrupts the public discourse and debate by propagating factually incorrect, illogical and misleading information.
In his résumé Albright prominently advertises himself as a “former U.N. weapons inspector.” Indeed, this is the first thing that is mentioned when he describes himself to the public. Witness an Op-Ed piece in The Washington Post which he jointly authored with Jacqueline Shire in January 2008, wherein he is described as such: “David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector, is president of the Institute for Science and International Security.” His erstwhile U.N. credentials appear before his actual job title. Now, this is not uncommon. I do the same thing when describing myself, noting that I was a former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998. I feel comfortable doing this, because it’s true and because my résumé is relevant to my writing. In his official ISIS biography, Albright details his “U.N. inspector” experience as such: “Albright cooperated actively with the IAEA Action Team from 1992 until 1997, focusing on analyses of Iraqi documents and past procurement activities. In June 1996, he was the first non-governmental inspector of the Iraqi nuclear program. On this inspection mission, Albright questioned members of Iraq’s former uranium enrichment programs about their statements in Iraq’s draft Full, Final, and Complete Declaration.”
Now, as I have explained previously, I cooperated actively between 1992 and 1998 with the IAEA Action team, covering the same ground that David Albright claims to have. I do not doubt his assertion that he was in contact with the IAEA during the period claimed; I just doubt the use of the word actively to describe this cooperation. Maybe Albright was part of a top-secret “shadow” inspection activity that I was unaware of. I strongly doubt this. In 1992, when Albright states he began his “active cooperation” with the IAEA, he was serving as a “Senior Staff Scientist” with the Federation of American Scientists. That same year Albright, in collaboration with Frans Berkhout of Sussex University and William Walker of the University of St. Andrews, published “World Inventory of Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium,” 1992 (SIPRI and Oxford University Press). From March 1991 until July 1992, Albright, together with Mark Hibbs, wrote a series of seven articles on the Iraqi nuclear weapons programs for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The final three articles of this series, entitled “Iraq’s Bomb: Blueprints and Artifacts,” “Iraq: It’s all over at Al Atheer” and “Iraq’s shop-till-you-drop nuclear program,” were in part based upon information provided to Albright and Hibbs by the IAEA in response to questions posed by the two authors. So far as I can tell, this is the true nature of David Albright’s “active cooperation.” Far from being a subject-matter expert brought in by the IAEA to review Iraqi documents, Albright was simply an outsider with questions.
In the November/December 1995 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Albright wrote an article, co-authored with Robert Kelley, titled “Has Iraq come clean at last?” I know Bob Kelley. In August 1992, it was Kelley, then deputy to Action Team leader Maurizio Zifferero, who helped me and other UNSCOM inspectors gain access to the Iraqi documents under IAEA control. Kelley was, and is, a great safeguards inspector, and among his many accomplishments is his leading role in directing the IAEA’s investigation into South Africa’s unilaterally dismantled nuclear weapons program in the mid-1990s. Bob Kelley had served as David Albright’s “in” at the IAEA since 1992, when he started providing Albright with access to some of the IAEA’s information on Iraq’s nuclear program. The decision to jointly author an article on Iraq was a big step toward legitimizing what had been, up until that time, an informal relationship.
The joint article with Kelley gave Albright a legitimacy within the IAEA, to the extent that there were no objections when Kelley recommended inviting Albright to participate in a surge of inspections. It was during the aftermath of the defection of Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamal, in August 1995, and the subsequent turning over of a massive quantity of previously hidden documents, including those pertaining to nuclear issues. These activities served as the framework around which Albright and Kelley wrote their article. The June 1996 inspection Albright participated in was his one and only foray into Iraq as a weapons inspector. He was not a chief inspector, nor a deputy chief inspector, nor an operations officer. He was a minor member of the team, Bob Kelley’s bag boy, who for the most part was there to observe. In a round-table discussion with Iraqi nuclear scientists, attended by all of the inspectors, Albright was able to ask a few questions, not from the standpoint of an IAEA expert, but more as an informed tourist.
I was in Iraq at the time, spearheading the very controversial UNSCOM 150 inspection, which found our team barred from entering several sensitive sites in and around Baghdad. On the few occasions when I was able to spend some down time at the U.N. headquarters on Canal Street, I would catch up with the status of the other inspections taking place in Iraq at the same time, including the one Albright was attached to. From all accounts, his lone stint as an inspector was at best unremarkable. He was a dilettante in every sense of the word, a Walter Mitty-like character in a world of genuine U.N. inspectors. There was recognition among most involved that bringing an outsider such as David Albright into the inspection process was a mistake. Not only did he lack any experience in the nuclear weapons field (being an outsider with only secondhand insight into limited aspects of the Iraqi program), he had no credibility with the Iraqi nuclear scientists, and his questions, void of any connectivity with the considerable record of interaction between the IAEA and Iraq, were not taken seriously by either side. Albright left Iraq in June 1996, and was never again invited back.
This is the reality of the relationship between Albright and the IAEA, and the singular event in his life which he uses as the justification for prominently promoting himself as a “former U.N. inspector.” While not outright fraud, Albright’s self-promoted relationship with the IAEA, and his status as a “former U.N. inspector,” is at best disingenuous, all the more so since he exploits this misleading biographical data in his ongoing effort to insert himself into the public eye as a nuclear weapons expert, a title not supported by anything in his life experience.
I can’t say for certain when Albright became “Doctor” Albright. A self-described “physicist,” he allows the term to linger, as he does the title “former U.N. inspector,” in order to create the impression that he possesses a certain gravitas. David Albright holds a master of science degree in physics from Indiana University and a master of science in mathematics from Wright State University. I imagine that this résumé permits him to assign himself the title physicist, but not in the Robert Oppenheimer/Edward Teller sense of the word. Whatever physics work Albright may or may not have done in his life, one thing is certain: He has never worked as a nuclear physicist on any program dedicated to the design and/or manufacture of nuclear weapons. He has never designed nuclear weapons and never conducted mathematical calculations in support of testing nuclear weapons, nor has he ever worked in a facility or with an organization dedicated to either.
At best, Albright is an observer of things nuclear. But to associate his sub-par physics pedigree with genuine nuclear weapons-related work is, like his self-promotion as a “former U.N. weapons inspector,” disingenuous in the extreme. His lack of any advanced educational training as a nuclear physicist, combined with his dearth of practical experience with things nuclear, is further exacerbated by his astounding assumption of the title Doctor. In 2007 Albright received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Wright State University. This honorary award is a recognition that should never be belittled, but it in no way elevates Albright to the status of one who has undergone the formal educational training and has actually earned a doctorate, especially in the demanding field of nuclear physics. While I cannot find any evidence of Albright promoting his honorary title in a manner that indicates direct fraud on his part (i.e., falsely claiming to be a Ph.D. in physics), there are far too many instances where he is referred to by those who interview him as being both “Dr. Albright” and a “physicist” that the uninformed reader might be misled into believing that the two were somehow connected.
Albright has spent the past decade building a solid reputation as an analyst of nuclear issues. One only need look at the impressive work he and ISIS have done on the issue of North Korea to understand the potential he brings to the table as an outside observer on nuclear matters. Informed interest, combined with sustained access to critical personalities on both sides of an issue, makes for insights and opinions that contribute in a positive manner to the overall public discourse. No one who is interested in facilitating informed debate, discussion and dialogue about issues such as those facing us in North Korea, Iran and elsewhere can deny the value Albright brings to the table. That his insight into these matters should be shared with members of the media is likewise something that should be encouraged.
But an analyst must be viewed in the proper perspective, and this begins by correctly defining who and what one is. David Albright is not a former U.N. weapons inspector, but rather an accidental tourist. To call oneself a weapons inspector suggests that one participated in the totality of the inspection process, and as such can converse readily, based on firsthand experience, about the total spectrum of issues that entails. Albright, based on his flimsy résumé in this regard, is not capable of such, and therefore should stop referring to himself in this manner, and encourage the media to do the same. Likewise, all reference to Albright as “Dr. Albright” should be eliminated, as should any reference which places the words physicist and nuclear in proximity. Let his work be judged on its own merit, and not camouflaged behind misleading perceptions created through false advertising.
In that he never has designed or worked in a nuclear reactor, never has designed or worked on nuclear weapons, in fact never has done anything of a practical, hands-on nature in the nuclear field, to call Albright an expert is a disservice to the term and, again, misleading in the extreme. It is not a sin to merely be informed, or to possess a specialty. But informed specialists are a dime a dozen. There is a reason mainstream media do not turn to bloggers when seeking out expert opinion. And yet, when they turn to “Dr. Albright, former U.N. weapons inspector,” they are getting little more than a well-funded, well-connected blogger. If one takes a closer look at the ISIS Report published by Albright on June 16 and widely quoted in the press since then, one will realize that there simply isn’t any substance to the allegations. Albright’s sole source seems to be a single, unnamed IAEA official, bringing to mind Bob Kelley and his role in facilitating Albright’s “access” to the IAEA in the 1990s. The remainder of the report comprises information already available to the general public, or sheer speculation.
This is, of course, the problem when someone who is not an expert on a given subject attempts to portray himself as just that. Lacking in the foundation of knowledge and experience which generally is expected of a genuine expert, the false “expert” commits error after error, not only of the factual sort but also in judgment. Had Albright in fact been a true nuclear expert, especially one fortified with firsthand experience as a former U.N. weapons inspector, he would not have had any association with Khidir Hamza, the disgraced Iraqi defector who claimed to have firsthand knowledge of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program. A true nuclear expert would have recognized the technical impossibilities and inconsistencies in Hamza’s fabrications. And a genuine former U.N. weapons inspector would have known that Hamza had been fingered as a fraud by the IAEA and UNSCOM. David Albright instead employed Hamza as an analyst with ISIS from 1997 until 1999.
Albright likewise facilitated the story of former Iraqi nuclear scientist Mahdi Obeidi being told to the world. As a “former U.N. weapons inspector,” Albright had a passing knowledge of Obeidi; the Iraqi was among the scientists that the IAEA team Albright served on questioned in June 1996 (Albright himself claims to have personally questioned Obeidi). Albright helped sell Obeidi’s story about buried uranium centrifuge parts to the media, even though a true nuclear expert would have known that what Obeidi claims to have hidden possessed absolutely no value in the field of nuclear enrichment, and any former U.N. weapons inspector worth his or her salt would have recognized the inconsistencies and improbabilities in the Obeidi story.
David Albright has a history of being used by those who seek to gain media attention for their respective claims. In addition to the Hamza and Obeidi fiascos, Albright and his organization, ISIS, have served as the conduit for other agencies gaining publicity about the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program, the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor, and most recently the alleged Swiss computer containing sensitive nuclear design information. On each occasion, Albright is fed sensitive information from a third party, and then packages it in a manner that is consumable by the media. The media, engrossed with Albright’s misleading résumé (“former U.N. weapons inspector,” “Doctor,” “physicist” and “nuclear expert”), give Albright a full hearing, during which time the particulars the third-party source wanted made public are broadcast or printed for all the world to see. More often than not, it turns out that the core of the story pushed by Albright is, in fact, wrong.
While Iran did indeed possess uranium enrichment capability at Natanz and a heavy water plant (under construction) at Arak (as reported by Albright thanks to information provided by the Iranian opposition group MEK, most probably with the help of Israeli intelligence), Albright’s wild speculation about weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium proved to be wrong. There was indeed a building in Syria that was bombed by Israel. But Albright’s expert opinion, derived from his interpretation of photographs, consists of nothing more than simplistic observation (“The tall building in the image may house a reactor under construction and the pump station along the river may have been intended to supply cooling water to the reactor”) combined with unfocused questions that assumed much, but were in fact based on little (“How far along was the reactor construction project when it was bombed? What was the extent of nuclear assistance from North Korea? Which reactor components did Syria obtain from North Korea or elsewhere, and where are they now?”). And, most recently, we have Albright commenting about the contents of a computer he hasn’t even laid eyes on, though he feels confident enough to raise the specter of global nuclear catastrophe (“How will authorities learn if Iran, North Korea, or even terrorists bought these designs?” Albright asks when referring to the contents of the Swiss computer).
Nowhere in his résumé does Albright cite any formal training as a photographic interpreter; in any case, one would have to have an intimate knowledge of nuclear facilities in order to know what one was looking at when examining an aerial image. A genuine nuclear weapons expert would have been able to discern the technical faults in the logic of the stories being peddled by Albright. And a genuine former U.N. weapons inspector, well versed in preparing airtight investigations based upon verified intelligence information, would have balked at the shabby nature of the evidence provided. Again, because Albright is neither, he and ISIS play the role of patsy, the middleman peddling misinformation to a media too lazy to conduct their own due diligence before running with a story.
Albright, operating under the guise of his creation, ISIS, has a track record of inserting hype and speculation about matters of great sensitivity in a manner which skews the debate toward the worst-case scenario. Over time Albright often moderates his position, but the original sensationalism still remains, serving the purpose of imprinting a negative image in the psyche of public opinion. This must stop. It is high time the mainstream media began dealing with David Albright for what he is (a third-rate reporter and analyst), and what he isn’t (a former U.N. weapons inspector, doctor, nuclear physicist or nuclear expert). It is time for David Albright, the accidental inspector, to exit stage right. Issues pertaining to nuclear weapons and their potential proliferation are simply too serious to be handled by amateurs and dilettantes.
Scott Ritter was a U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998.
Editor’s note: Frank von Hippel has written a response to this column in the comments below. Click here to read his rebuttal.
David Albright, the founder and director of the Institute for Science and International Security, in Washington, D.C., remains at the center of provocative press coverage of the Iranian nuclear program and the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) report issued (to governments) on Nov. 8. “The IAEA cannot get any more cooperation from Iran,” Albright declared to the PBS Newshour’s Ray Suarez, a few hours after the IAEA report was issued. “And I think the time has come that the Board of Governors probably needs to pass a resolution calling on Iran to cooperate with the IAEA and give them some time to cooperate. And then probably, if they don’t, this would then be referred to the Security Council for further consideration.”
Albright seems committed to playing the same kind of pernicious role he played in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, this time with respect to Iran.
Albright was a key figure in bringing to the West, Khidir Hamza, who was sold to, and then by, the pro-war neo-cons as “Saddam’s bomb maker.” Hamza was brought out of Iraq by Albright in 1994, and was then employed by him at ISIS from 1997 to 1999. They co-wrote a book and a number of articles on Iraq’s alleged nuclear program. In one article, entitled “Iraq’s Reconstitution of its Nuclear Weapons Program,” published in Arms Control Today in October 1998, they claimed “Iraq is suspected of having made progress on a number of bottlenecks in its weapons program, at least those that could be done with little chance of detection by inspectors.” They warned that if the UN inspection program were to become ineffective “Iraq could reconstitute major aspects of its nuclear weapons program.”
Hamza was later exposed as a fraud and a liar by former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter. “Had Albright in fact been a true nuclear expert, especially one fortified with firsthand experience as a former UN weapons inspector, he would not have had any association with Khidir Hamza, the disgraced Iraqi defector who claimed to have firsthand knowledge of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program.” Ritter wrote in a 2008 article, “The Nuclear Expert Who Never Was.” “A true nuclear expert would have recognized the technical impossibilities and inconsistencies in Hamza’s fabrications.” Hamza, however, did prove to be very useful to the neo-cons in driving the United States into the needless invasion of Iraq.
Albright and Hamza eventually parted ways, but Albright continued to play his role, as well. On Sept. 7, 2002, Albright published a piece arguing that what had been a uranium extraction facility prior to the 1991 Gulf War, was active once again. “Unless inspectors go to the site and investigate all activities, the international community cannot exclude the possibility that Iraq is secretly producing a stockpile of uranium in violation of its commitments under Security Council resolutions. The uranium could be used in a clandestine nuclear weapons effort,” he wrote. He based his conclusion on commercially available satellite pictures.
While he later became skeptical of claims that Iraq was on the cusp of building a nuclear bomb, he never wavered from the other claims of chemical and biological weapons, also part of the case for war. “In terms of the chemical and biological weapons, Iraq has those now,” he told CNN on Oct. 5, 2002. “How many, how could they deliver them? I mean, these are the big questions.” The fact that no nuclear, chemical or biological weapons were ever found by the occupying forces showed the fraud of these claims.
Ritter’s exposé of Albright’s lack of expertise received backup from Alexander DeVolpi in a Feb. 15, 2009 posting in response to comments posted in defense of Albright on Ritter’s article, including from Frank Von Hippel of Princeton University. DeVolpi is a retired nuclear engineer from the Argonne National Laboratory, and a veteran of 40 years of field work in nuclear physics, nuclear reactors and arms control. Of Albright, he says: “Dave’s a friendly guy, but I always found him shallow on experience, and now realizing that he was once on the research staff of Princeton University’s Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, I have a better understanding of his predisposition and educational preparation. With no substantive foundation, he has expressed himself as philosophically opposed to nuclear power. This is not uncommon, particularly with academics associated with Princeton who evince no hands-on or other practical field experience regarding nuclear-weapons, nuclear reactor technology or verification methodology.”
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the UK statutory body that regulates truthfulness in advertising, has ruled against an ad in The Jewish Chronicle for promoting real estate in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The 2 November ASA ruling says that the ad, which appeared in June 2011, was headlined, “Vineyard View EFRAT New Neighbourhood in Dekel UNIQUE DEVLEOPMENT [sic] OF 26 NEW HOUSES.” According to the ASA:
The ad featured aerial photos of the development and bullet pointed text listed the features of the development, including “Independent Group Purchase … Israeli finance subject to status.”
However, the ASA upheld a complaint by Michael Shanahan that the advertisement “misleadingly implied that the development in Efrat in Dekel was in Israel.” Efrat is not in “Israel” but is an illegal colony in the occupied West Bank.
ASA stated, “We considered that the fact that the development in Efrat in Dekel was in the West Bank, in territory not internationally recognised as part of Israel, was likely to be highly material to consumers and that the omission of the information rendered the ad misleading.”
In its ruling, ASA noted that the advertiser, ILAN Real Estate, did not respond to its enquiries. ASA instructed: “The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told ILAN to avoid in future similar ads misleading as to the location of property developments.”
In line with previous rulings against deceptive Israeli ads
The ruling against the ILAN Real Estate ad in The Jewish Chronicle is in line with earlier adjudications by the ASA against Israeli firms and government agencies.
Last year, for example, ASA ruled that the Israel Tourist Office was deceiving the public with ads that implied that parts of eastern occupied Jerusalem were in “Israel.”
Efforts to sell settlement properties in UK fall flat
In a statement received by The Electronic Intifada, Shanahan pointed out that “The advertisement mentioned that ILAN Real Estate had a stall at the Israel Property & Investment Exhibition at the Regents Marriott Hotel,” in London last June, and that “this poorly attended event was picketed by the London Boycott Divestment and Sanctions group holding a banner saying ‘Stop Stealing Palestine Land.’”
Israeli government ads on British Airways also appear to breach advertising standards
Russia urges IAEA to list countries which provided documents for the report on Iran, which ‘contains no new details’, RIA Novosti quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as saying on Monday.
“The IAEA Director General’s recent report lacks anything new,” Lavrov told journalists. “It just reaffirmed that Iran has provided no necessary explanations for so-called ‘proposed military developments’.”
He noted that the IAEA claims the report was developed based on documents which were submitted by another country.
“We urge the IAEA to name ‘another country’ so that we could investigate the case,” Lavrov said.
IAEA General Director Yukiya Amano said in the report issued on Nov. 8 that the “information indicates Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of nuclear explosive devices.”
Iranian representative to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh called the report on Iran’s nuclear enrichment “repetitious and politically-motivated.”
Russia also slammed the disclosure of the IAEA general director’s new report on Iran, saying such a decision would harm the settlement of the crisis regarding Iran’s nuclear issue.
Kids who were born and raised in Israel and who will receive citizenship at the age of 21 excluded
Two Filipino boys play a one-on-one basketball game in South Tel Aviv, an area where many migrant workers and their Israeli-born children live. The kids shout at each other in Hebrew as they dribble, shoot, and score. As local as they might seem, these boys are likely to be excluded from a local league due to a little known policy that prevents many non-Jewish “foreigners” from joining basketball teams.
The rule was made by and applies to the national basketball league for seventh and eighth graders. When it was first discovered by the human rights organization Israeli Children—a group that was founded to fight Israel’s plans to deport children of migrant workers—the policy stated that only “two foreigners” were allowed on each team. But, in most cases, the kids who are excluded are not foreigners–they are kids who were born and raised in Israel and who will receive citizenship when they turn 21.
After Israeli Children insisted that the cap be removed, the league tweaked the policy. Now, three “foreigners” are allowed on each team. If a team would like to have more “foreigners,” it must be made up exclusively of “foreigners.” And, if a “foreigners”-only team wins city play-offs, it is forbidden from going on to district competitions. The children must give their spot, instead, to a team that has a “local” majority.
Rotem Ilan, co-founder of Israeli Children, remarks, “It’s sad to say, but I don’t think [the policy] reflects anything different than what [the kids] hear every day on the street, what they hear from their ministers—that they shouldn’t be here, that they don’t belong here, that they’re the ‘wrong’ kind, born to the ‘wrong’ parents.’”
Ilan adds that while Interior Minister Eli Yishai has taken the most flak for saying, publicly, that migrants bring diseases to Israel, a member of the Tel Aviv municipality has also remarked that migrant workers’ children and African refugees who attend local schools should have special health check-ups because they are probably ill.
And, recently, a state-funded kindergarten in South Tel Aviv announced that it will not accept “foreign” kids. According to the Israeli news site Ynet, “at least two local kindergartens will be set aside to accept kids of only Israeli descent.” While Ynet reported that “the move is unprecedented in Israel,” the children of African refugees have been banned from many public schools in Eilat for several years now.
It should be noted, as well, that Jewish Israelis and Palestinian citizens of the state have separate educational systems.
These increasingly common attitudes and policies of segregating Jews from non-Jews don’t affect only “foreign” kids. They also make an impact on Jewish Israeli youth—communicating to them powerful and dangerous messages about inclusion and exclusion and teaching them that they ought to be privileged at the expense of those marked as “others.”
Reflecting on the basketball league’s cap, Ilan comments, “It tells [Jewish Israeli kids] that the children who already got residency still don’t really belong [here]. Or, ‘you’re better than these children.’”
The basketball league’s cap on “foreigners” is noteworthy for another reason. Jewish Israelis who admit that racism is indeed a problem in the country sometimes discuss it as a top-down phenomenon—it’s the leaders and the system that are discriminatory, not the people. But, in this case, the Education Ministry actually opposes the foreigner cap. It’s the basketball league that came up with and enforces the rule.
So is it the chicken or the egg?
The father of a school-aged boy discusses how the system reinforces the separatist values many Jewish Israeli children learn, first, at home. Ray, who asked to be identified by a pseudonym and for identifying details be omitted, is British and of African descent. His wife is Jewish Israeli. When their son was just three and a half years old, a classmate in his upper middle class daycare called him an “Arab” as an insult.
On another occasion, Ray says, “the children were singing to him—in a not terribly pleasant way—a Hebrew song about a little brown child. They did it as a taunt.”
Ray is also concerned by the “febrile, patriotic air” he sees in private Jewish Israeli daycares, as well as the state-funded kindergartens and schools, where the celebration of religious and national holidays is “intertwined with a sense that Jews have been victims through the ages and now they no longer need to be victims because they have their own country and can be masters of their own destiny.”
And Ray was troubled by the fact that his son’s daycare marked Holocaust Day by teaching the children about the tragic events that befell Jews during World War II.
“It’s not my place to comment on the role of the [Holocaust] in Jewish Israeli identity,” Ray says, “but a three-year-old is way too young to begin to process the horrors of the Holocaust.”
Overall, Ray feels that the Jewish Israeli educational system is marked by a “powerful insularity” that “encourages a certain nationalistic narcissism—[the feeling] that Jewish Israelis are the center of not just theirs but every one’s world view. And it’s terribly, terribly dangerous.”
It’s the sort of thing that might mold children into adults who make rules like limiting the number of “foreigners” that can join youth basketball leagues.
HEBRON — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian journalist on Sunday night after raiding his home in the Wadi Hariyya neighborhood of Hebron in the southern West Bank, a Ma’an correspondent said.
Raed al-Sharif, 23, had been briefly detained and interrogated by Israeli intelligence in October 2010.
Director of the Palestinian prisoner’s society in Hebron Amjad Najjar denounced the detention, describing it as part of Israel’s policy of “intimidation against Palestinian journalists to prevent them from reporting the truth about the torture and oppression of Israeli occupation practices against the Palestinian people.”
An Israeli army spokeswoman said that al-Sharif was arrested for “suspected involvement in terrorist activity.”