Monday, May 14, 2012

A Journalistic Scandal (NOT Murdoch)

An unidentified someone leaked a sketch of a something to the Associated Press on behalf of some unnamed country and "proved" that Iran is on the way to making nuclear weapons.  (So then, of course, we're expected to conclude that we've got to make war on the rascals "before it's too late.")

A good spy fiction writer would dismiss  such ploys as too transparent to fool his readers.  But AP took the bait:

VIENNA —AP) -- An image said to come from inside an Iranian military site shows an explosives containment chamber of the type needed for nuclear arms-related tests that U.N. inspectors suspect Tehran has conducted at the site. . .

The image was provided to The Associated Press by an official of a country tracking Iran’s nuclear program who said the drawing proves the structure exists, despite Tehran’s refusal to acknowledge it.

The official said he could not discuss the drawing’s origins beyond that it was based on information from a person who had seen the chamber at the Parchin military site, adding that going into detail would endanger the life of that informant.  . .

A former senior IAEA official said he believes the drawing is accurate. Olli Heinonen, until last year the U.N. nuclear agency’s deputy director general in charge of the Iran file, said it was “very similar” to a photo he recently saw that he believes to be the pressure chamber the IAEA suspects is at Parchin. . .

It didn't take long for sharp noses to smell the rat.

Gerald Meyer is an old school journalist, a Nieman Fellow and Woodrow Wilson Scholar who was always suspicious of information from people who didn't want to be identified.  Now a distinguished author ( A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, Executive Blues, The Memphis Murders, et al), Meyer needed to read only a few paragraphs of the AP story before observing:

"'...a country tracking iran's nuclear program' . . .a country that doesn't want to be identified... surely that couldn't be our old friend Israel!"

William O. Beeman, chairman of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota and a distinguished Middle East scholar, called the AP report "a  scurrilous piece of dangerous trash."

He said: "This is not a photograph, but a computer generated 'image.' (TEW: Indeed, data necessary to generate such an image can be found in less than ten minutes of internet surfing.) It is unattributed--even to the point of hiding the country of origin of the person supplying it. Then the "authority" who sort of verifies the image as seeming to resemble a photograph he once may have seen is Olli Heinonen, former IAEA official who has made a career of promulgating the unproven idea that Iran has a nuclear weapons program.

"It is unclear what the room in this image is supposed to have been used for--only these rather wild and unsubstantiated assertions. Something as ephemeral as this with no attribution, no proof of existence and no proven purpose is simply a red herring.

"The fact that this silly piece of nonsense has appeared just before the next round of talks between Iran and the West is no accident. Every time it appears that some progress will be made toward improving relations with Iran, someone comes up with something like this to try and torpedo the proceedings. "

Blatant it may be, but the tactic seems to work.

Gareth Porter, investigative historian and journalist, reporting today on the talks:

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano has signaled that there will be no agreement with Iran in meetings in Vienna  on the terms for Iranian cooperation in clarifying the issue of alleged nuclear weapons work. . . .

Amano indicated ihat he intended to hold up an agreement on Iranian cooperation in responding to allegations of military involvement in its nuclear program until the IAEA was allowed to visit to Parchin, the military complex about 30 kilometers southeast of Tehran. . . . (He)  insists that a visit to Parchin must come first before any agreement.

But the actual draft negotiating text of the agreement on "Clarification of Unresolved Issues" with Iran's proposed changes from the original IAEA proposal shows that the major conflict over their cooperation was whether the process had a definite endpoint, not access to Parchin. 

Porter, whose detailed reporting revealed the holes in the official version of the intelligence leading to the killing of Osama bin Laden, believes that major news outlets like the AP have "an implicit rule"  that "they can run with just about anything sourced to a US national security official or one of our allies -- especially, of course, Israel -- and that you can cover up the nationality of the source, too."

He added: "It's the journalistic scandal of the century, in my opinion."

Mine too. 

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SEE related post, "Fear Stalks, as It Always Does," on or blog cousin, An Ironist's Toolbox.


  1. Leafed thru the local rag (doesn't take long!) and there it was on Page Four, image and all, the whole gullible AP balderdash, lookin' as if it were Gospel. For shame, AP.

  2. Oh bloody hell! You mean this may NOT be true? I don't need to re-raise my continuous fear level back to ultra shades of bloody crimson red in prep for our next new war?

    Oh, wait. Does this also mean maybe the new terrorist bombs being developed (that can be implanted INSIDE one's body) that the CIA discovered and averted in a plot to bring down an airliner (and probably helped the terrorists develop) may not be the big threat for which I've been downing pills at bedtime to sleep and oodles of antacids during my waking hours to face each new day?

    Maybe we can continue to fly with just the TSA X-rays and orifice probes vs. more invasive Homeland Security measures of removing gall bladders, one's appendix, tonsils, ovaries or testicles before boarding an airliner?