Predictions of Israeli Attack on Iran Hit Traditional Media–How We Got There

In late November of 2007, the world–and especially the progressive blogosphere–was shocked when the George W. Bush administration released a National Intelligence Estimate that came to the firm conclusion that Iran had suspended work on its nuclear weapon program back in 2003.  This was the same Bush intelligence community that had produced the fraudulent NIE in 2002 that came to the false conclusion that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and intended to restart development of nuclear weapons. The progressive blogosphere had made a regular habit of predicting new dates for when Israel, or even the US, would attack Iran under the guise of stopping its development of nuclear weapons.   The rate of new predictions for attacks slowed considerably in the face of the 2007 NIE.

In September of 2009, speculation on plans to attack Iran got a new impetus, as the US announced the discovery of a previously secret uranium enrichment facility being built by Iran deep inside a mountain near Qum.  Rhetoric from the US heated up considerably in response to this discovery:

Mr. Obama’s aides and a raft of intelligence officials argued that the small, hidden plant was unsuitable for producing reactor fuel that might be used in a peaceful nuclear program. Moreover, its location, deep inside an Iranian Revolutionary Guards base about 20 miles from the religious center of Qum, strongly suggested it was designed for covert use in weapons, they said.

Late Friday afternoon, preparing to return to Washington, Mr. Obama issued a stark warning about the nuclear negotiations that are to begin next week, the first direct talks between the two countries in 30 years.

“Iran is on notice that when we meet with them on Oct. 1 they are going to have to come clean and they will have to make a choice,” he said. The alternative to giving up their program, he warned, is to “continue down a path that is going to lead to confrontation.”

Shortly after the discovery of the Qum facility was announced, the Stuxnet worm was released. Read more

Conyers (et al) to Archivist: How Successful Were They at Destroying Evidence?

I’m unsurprised that John Conyers, Howard Berman, Jerry Nadler, and Bill Delahunt have written to Hillary Clinton asking for copies of Philip Zelikow’s dissent to Steven Bradbury’s torture memo.

Despite the reported effort he describes to destroy all copies of the memorandum, Professor Zelikow nevertheless believes that "one or two [copies] are still at least in the State Department’s archives."

Of course one of the Committees was going to get this document. 

I’m a lot more interested in their letter to the acting Archivist, asking for any copies in the George W Bush archives.

While we have requested this memorandum from the State Department archives, any copies available from the George W. Bush records are also necessary to determine as completely as possible the full circulation of this important document.

That’s because if the memo isn’t there, then not only is it suggestive of criminal intent, but it also violates the Presidential Records Act. In addition to the memo itself, they ask for:

(2) Copies of any "documentary materials" as defined in the President Records Act, that are related to or reflect any effort by an official of the Bush Administration to collect, destroy, or impede the preservation or retention of this memorandum, including records of any National Security Council meetings or National Security Council Deputies meetings at which the memorandum was discussed.

As you know, the National Security Council is a component of the Executive Office of the President, and its records are in almost all cases President Records which the Act requires to be preserved. Thus, depending on the precise circulation of Professor Zelikow’s dissenting memorandum, the effort he describes to "collect and destroy all copies" of the memorandum raises serious questions of a possible violation of, or conspiracy to violate, the Act, or another breach of federal law.

(3) Copies of any "documentary materials," as defined in the Presidential Records Act, that mention or refer to the Zelikow memorandum.


… the requested documents may shed light on the adequacy and completeness of the former Administration’s consideration of these issues over time. [my emphasis]

Well, the normally careful David Addington (if that’s who told Zelikow to destroy the memo) got himself into a pickle with this one.