Magazine article The American Conservative

Deep Background

Magazine article The American Conservative

Deep Background

Article excerpt

An Oct. 13 New York Times front-page story claiming American and foreign intelligence confirmation that the Israeli strike on Syria last month was on a nuclear reactor being constructed with North Korean aid was based on misleading information leaked by Eliott Abrams and Stephen Hadley at the National Security Council. Other than Hadley and Abrams, there were no other American sources for the Times's account.

There is no American satellite photography indicating that the area bombed was a nuclear site. Moreover, U.S. satellites and ground collector facilities did not detect any radiation emissions following the bombing, something that would have resulted if uranium or plutonium was actually present. A CIA briefing of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Oct. 8 concluded that the intelligence community has nothing that points to a Syrian nuclear program. The Israeli information on the alleged Syrian nuclear site is not being shared with most of the U.S. intelligence community to avoid provoking negative responses.

Some senior officials in the Bush administration are worried about the media campaign directed by Vice President Dick Cheney and carried out by Abrams and Hadley trying to link North Korea to a Syrian nuclear program. Based solely on Israeli-provided evidence, Cheney appears to actually believe that North Korea is helping the Syrians establish a nuclear program, and he has discounted the skepticism of the CIA. There is high-level concern over how decisions regarding Israeli and U. …

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