Saturday, January 22, 2011

Damn! The things I miss!

Unlike, I expect, a lot of political bloggers, I don't obsessively consume the news on a daily (even, clearly for some, minute-to-minute) basis. Instead I tend to do a cram session every couple of days. The advantage of this is that when I do post on a story, it's usually matured a bit and I can refer to multiple sources. The disadvantage, and it's a biggie, is that I miss stuff.

This is a prime example, a NY Times story from nearly a week ago I just learned of today. I find what it says revealing and what it doesn't say telling:
The Dimona complex in the Negev desert is famous as the heavily guarded heart of Israel’s never-acknowledged nuclear arms program, where neat rows of factories make atomic fuel for the arsenal.

Over the past two years, according to intelligence and military experts familiar with its operations, Dimona has taken on a new, equally secret role — as a critical testing ground in a joint American and Israeli effort to undermine Iran’s efforts to make a bomb of its own.
That project was and is developing and releasing the Stuxnet computer worm,
a destructive program that appears to have wiped out roughly a fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and helped delay, though not destroy, Tehran’s ability to make its first nuclear arms.
News about the worm is not new; PC World, CNet, and security expert Bruce Schneier, among others, commented on rumors surrounding it and it's then-supposed targeting of Iran last fall. even had an article claiming to have debunked the whole business.

But now, says the Times,
[t]hough American and Israeli officials refuse to talk publicly about what goes on at Dimona, the operations there, as well as related efforts in the United States, are among the newest and strongest clues suggesting that the virus was designed as an American-Israeli project to sabotage the Iranian program. ...

The project’s political origins can be found in the last months of the Bush administration. In January 2009, The New York Times reported that Mr. Bush authorized a covert program to undermine the electrical and computer systems around Natanz, Iran’s major enrichment center. President Obama, first briefed on the program even before taking office, sped it up, according to officials familiar with the administration’s Iran strategy. So did the Israelis, other officials said.
To quickly sum up this and the rest of the article, the evidence says that the US and Israel were behind the worm - with Mr. Nobel Peace Prize actually accelerating the US side of the effort - and it was indeed aimed at Iran. That is the revealing part.

What is the telling part? The New York Times article is nearly 2800 words long - and in all that space it not only can't find space to raise a single passing question about the assumption that "of course Iran is trying to build nukes and if they did that would be the end of the world," indeed it embraces that assumption. More importantly it also can't find space to mention, just to mention, that what they are describing is the US and Israel jointly committing industrial sabotage against Iran - that is, committing an act of war against a sovereign nation.

That is exactly what this is: an act of war. No arguments, no maybes, no yehbuts. It's an act of war. If you have even the tiniest doubt about that, just imagine what the reaction would be if the situation was reversed and an Iranian-developed worm had caused equivalent damage to a US industrial sector. And our "paper of record" can't even be bothered to so much as breathe a hint of it.

Some time back, I wrote somewhere - I can't find where just now so quoting as best as memory will allow - that "in our relations with other nations, we are suffused with arrogance and consumed with conceit." That we are "the cops of the world" and the rules we impose on others do not apply to us. What's even more telling about the Times' failure to refer to the sabotage as an act of war is that the reporters and editors there are so much a part of that way of thinking, so much involved with what has been called "American exceptionalism," that I frankly think it quite honestly never even occurred to them to look at it that way - and that may be their worst failing of all.

Footnote: Another thing the Times found unworthy of mention was the painfully obvious irony of the worm used to attack Iran's supposed nuclear program for its hypothetical future nuclear weapons being developed at Dimona, the center of Israel's very real nuclear program for its very real nuclear weapons, a program about which the US says nothing. (And yes, I know I used the word "irony" in a technically-incorrect but still popular sense. Go eat a dictionary.)

Another Footnote: On the other hand, something the Times did manage to mention - at the very end and only in passing - is that two Iranian nuclear scientists were killed and a third wounded in separate bomb attacks in 2010. It offered no hint nor diplomats' speculation on golly gee whiz who might be responsible for such a thing, despite adding that
[t]he man widely believed to be responsible for much of Iran’s program, Mohsen Fakrizadeh, a college professor, has been hidden away by the Iranians, who know he is high on the target list.
Maybe we should put crosshairs on him. Because then if anything happens to him it clearly will have absolutely nothing to do with us, not even indirectly.

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