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What did Israel Bomb in Syria? Almost Certainly Nothing.

An interesting story by Seymour Hersh, in 'The New Yorker', the one American journalist who seems capable of actually investigating and following up military press releases. In this case, it was the Israel attack, shortly after midnight on Sept 6th, 2007, on what 'The New York Times' called '"a partly constructed nuclear reactor," in Syria.

According to Hersh,"citing a senior U.S. official, Israel had shared intelligence with the United States and received satellite help and targeting information in response. At one point, the Bush Administration considered attacking Syria itself, but rejected that option." That is a relief.....

'The New Yorks Times' which has been bitten so many times but is never shy about being the water carrier for Israeli and Bush administration WMD fears, in this article on October 13. 2007, concludes:

Israel's air attack on Syria last month was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, according to American and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports..

The officials did not say that the administration had ultimately opposed the Israeli strike, but that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates were particularly concerned about the ramifications of a pre-emptive strike in the absence of an urgent threat.

"There wasn't a lot of debate about the evidence,"(there never is) said one American official familiar with the intense discussions over the summer between Washington and the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel. "There was a lot of debate about how to respond to it."

Seymour Hersh investigates what American officials never seem to be interested in, the actual evidence for the bombing raid and is met by the usual obfuscation......The White House press secretary, Dana Perino, said Saturday that the administration would have "no comment on the intelligence issues surrounding the Israeli strike". Israel has also refused to comment (publicly) but has granted interviews with Hersh:

"Don't you write that there was nothing there!" a senior Israeli official, who is in a position to know the details of the raid on Syria, said, shaking a finger at me. "The thing in Syria was real."

Retired Brigadier General Shlomo Brom, who served as deputy national-security adviser under Prime Minister Ehud Barak, told me that Israel wouldn't have acted if it hadn't been convinced that there was a threat. "It may have been a perception of a conviction, but there was something there," Brom said. "It was the beginning of a nuclear project." However, by the date of our talk, Brom told me, "The question of whether it was there or not is not that relevant anymore."

Robert Carlin, an expert on North Korea who retired in 2005 after serving more than thirty years with the C.I.A. and the State Department's intelligence bureau, "People think they know the ending and then they go back and find the evidence that fits their story," he said. And then you get groupthink--and people reinforce each other.

Where have we heard this before..in so many places. And it this sort of groupthink that gets America involved in one 'elective' war after another.

Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Comments (1)

Steve Crickmore:

tyree..You are right in the sense that the second half of my title... "almost certainly nothing' represents the nuclear angle, and may have been misleading ...It was probably a low tech missle or perhaps storage related to chemical warfare very possibly illegal, in that case, but very unlikely to be the start of a nuclear reactor, which was the Israeli fear.

From the linked ' The New Yorker' article...

There is no security around the building," he said. "No barracks for the Army or the workers. No associated complex"...You couldn't see enough to know how big it will be or what it will do. It's just a box...Moustapha told me. "If we bring them in and they say there is nothing there, then Israel will say it made a mistake and bomb another site two weeks later. And if we then don't let the I.A.E.A. in, Israel will say, 'You see?' This is nonsense. Why should we have to do this?"

Even if the site was not a nuclear installation, it is possible that the Syrians feared that an I.A.E.A. inquiry would uncover the presence of North Koreans there. In Syria, I was able to get some confirmation that North Koreans were at the target. A senior officer in Damascus with firsthand knowledge of the incident agreed to see me alone, at his home; my other interviews in Damascus took place in government offices. According to his account, North Koreans were present at the site, but only as paid construction workers....A senior Syrian official confirmed that a group of North Koreans had been at work at the site, but he denied that the structure was related to chemical warfare. Syria had concluded, he said, that chemical warfare had little deterrent value against Israel, given its nuclear capability. The facility that was attacked, the official said, was to be one of a string of missile-manufacturing plants scattered throughout Syria--"all low tech. Not strategic.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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