Monday, October 05, 2009

The "Laptop of Death": It's (Judy) Miller time!

Beware. You're being "Millered" again. You're being force-fed another helping of yellowcake.

Many people have reacted with fear and anxiety to this New York Times story by William Broad and David Sanger. They want you to think that Iran has acquired “sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable” nuclear weapon. This conclusion is based on an alleged "secret report" of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog group. (IAEA spokespersons officially tell a very different story.)

Is this information reliable? Consider the source. Broad and Sanger both worked closely with the NYT's infamous Judy Miller when she was ginning up evidence for war with Iraq. They have a history of using the New York Times to push neocon agit-prop.

Moreover, this is old stuff repackaged to look like new stuff.

It all goes back to 2004, when U.S. intelligence acquired the so-called "laptop of death." Most of the scare stories about Iranian nukes that you've read over the past few years trace back to documents discovered on this laptop, which supposedly belonged to an Iranian government insider.

This report (pdf) makes clear that everything -- everything -- in the NYT story traces back to the infamous laptop. Although Broad and Sanger link to the report, their article deceptively refuses to mention the role played by the world's most notorious portable computer.

And that's a serious omission. The laptop documents have been questioned -- indeed, many would argue that they have been thoroughly debunked.

Attempting to present these documents in the best possible light, the Washington Post wrote the following back in 2006:
U.S. intelligence considers the laptop documents authentic but cannot prove it. Analysts cannot completely rule out the possibility that internal opponents of the Iranian leadership could have forged them to implicate the government, or that the documents were planted by Tehran itself to convince the West that its program remains at an immature stage.

CIA analysts, some of whom had been involved only a year earlier on the flawed assessments of Iraq's weapons programs, initially speculated that a third country, such as Israel, may have fabricated the evidence. But they eventually discounted that theory.

Heh heh. Hee hee hee. Ho ho. Heh. Ha. Heh heh heh heh Hee heee hohohoho ha haha ha hee hehee hee HAHAHAHA HEE HEE HEE HA HA HA HO HO HO...

(Excuse me a moment. I'm going to go take the dog for a walk.)

(Okay, I'm back. Sorry. While walking the dog, I was laughing so loudly I woke up the neighbors. I think it's out of my system now.)

Where were we? Oh yes: The laptop of death -- which we may henceforward call the LOD. This response to the 2006 Washington Post story is worth quoting:
Second, all the information on this and other "shocking revelations" released over the last year and more have come from a single laptop which was provided by "an Iranian opposition group" - which in BushSpeak means the utterly nutterly Mujahedeen e-Kalqh.

I ask you, what's the chance of even a top Iranian scientist having information on adapting missiles, building a nuclear test site and uranium refining when standard security precautions would suggest compartmentalizing it?

Now what's the chance of this hypothetical scientist being allowed to keep all that information on a laptop which can be pinched by some liberty-loving second storey man, then given to another freedom-loving Iranian who then "walks in" on U.S. spooks and hands the whole thing over? All Iran's nuclear secrets just there for the asking, like Hagrid being handed a dragon's egg by a stranger down the pub.
Marcy Wheeler had a lot to say about the laptop of death. She found that much of the "evidence" available on this laptop was later proved wrong:
So that's the laptop. A set of documents with dodgy providence, the contents of which have been partly debunked in the interim period.

And we're to believe that one person had evidence of three different aspects of Iran's nuclear development program on one laptop. Having studied Iraqi WMD scientists a bit, I can think of maybe five people in Iraq who would have even had access to information from these three unrelated areas. But those people certainly wouldn't have had the blueprints for all these areas on their laptop. But hey, who knows. Maybe those "crazy mullahs" are just more loosey-goosey with their intelligence that Saddam was?
(For "providence" read "provenance.") Marcy also notes a suspicious coincidence:
As a side note, at the same time as this laptop was first made public, the People's Mujahedeen also claimed--to apparent Franklin-AIPAC leakee Steve Weisman (link to come), among others--that Iran "had bought blueprints for a nuclear bomb." We now know, thanks to James Risen, that that blueprint came from US intelligence as part of the botched Merlin program. Which raises serious questions about where the rest of their information comes from.
(For more on the Merlin debacle, see here.)

Here is another indication that the laptop is every bit as fake as those Italian "yellowcake" papers which helped to mire us in Iraq:
Other problems with the laptop: Julian Borger reported in 2007 that everything on the laptop is in English. That makes sense for technical details, since English is sort of the lingua franca of science. But as one official put it to Borger, "at some point you'd have thought there would be at least some notes in Farsi."
Investigative reporter Gareth Porter did some follow up work. Check this out: These alleged top secret military documents contain no security markings of any kind. Official letters lack government seals.

In a lame attempt to give credibility to the LOD (laptop of death) documents in the face of this damning evidence of fraud, an IAEA official suggested to Porter that
the states that had provided the documents might claim that they had taken the markings out before passing them on to the IAEA. It is not clear, however, why an intelligence agency would want to remove from the documents markings that would be important in proving their authenticity.
The laptop came to us by way of Germany's secret service, the BND -- who got it from those wacky MEK guys, who got it from we're-not-sure-where. And the German motive for removing the classification markings would be...what, exactly?

Since these are digitized documents stored on a laptop, surely there would be a time stamp telling us when the file was created or altered.

At this point, it is important for us to pause and contemplate this tableau. Ace investigative reporter Gareth Porter, while checking out the laptop story, comes across serious evidence of forgery. Immediately, an IAEA official -- one with a view very different from that of most other IAEA officials -- comes forward and peddles (anonymously, always anonymously) a bunch of bullshit. He hopes that this bullshit will pacify Porter and make the LOD seem believable.

I'd like to know this guy's name. I want his story. Someone within the UN nuke agency has an agenda. He's out to sell something. Fortunately, most others in the IAEA ain't buyin'

I'll bet you a dozen donuts that Porter's anonymous official source is the same person who cooked up the "secret" IAEA report which was leaked to Broad and Sanger.

As Steve Hynd notes:
Crucially, and always unmentioned in reports by Broad and Sanger, the IAEA have never been allowed to keep copies of the documentation upon which the "secret annex" is built so that they can attempt to determine authenticity. IAEA officials confirmed to Gareth Porter on his recent trip to Vienna that they've been shown the originals once, and since then have had to rely upon sanitised copies provided by the intelligence agencies which produced them. Nor has Iran been provided with enough data on the contents of the Laptop and other allegations to be able to offer definitive rebuttals.
So who is behind this new attempt to foment war based on a forgery?

MEK didn't come up with this scheme -- the MEK guys would have tossed in some Farsi. Besides, they're goofballs.

CIA? Nahh. They take pride in getting things like the security seals right.

Conceivably, the LOD could have been cobbled together by one of those ad hoc groups operating out of the Pentagon. You may recall their mischief-making during the Iraq debacle.

The yellowcake fraud was amateur stuff put together by an Italian con artist. In some respects, the LOD forgery is amateurish -- but the how-to-build-a-nuke information suggests a state actor.

Frankly, I think that this thing has Mossad written all over it. The Israeli spy agency has longstanding ties to MEK. Mossad is famed for audacity -- which has, in recent times, given way to smugness and sloppiness. To me, the LOD is an obvious Mossad operation.

And for chrissakes, don't believe everything you read in the New York Times.
I don't think Mossad is behind it, either. If anything, they're even more obssessive about getting the details (seals, classification, etc) right than the CIA is. This is *way* too half-assed for them. In fact, it's probably way too half-assed for any real intelligence agency.
Just checking -- you do know I was being snarky about the panicking, yes?
Joseph, coincidentally, I was mindlessly walkng around the house this weekend and listened to some familiar rhetoric coming from the TV in the living room. I peeked in and couldn't believe what I was seeing. There was Judy Miller telling us about the iminent danger and Israe on FOX news. I mentioned to the spouse that I can't believe what I was seeing/hearing. He asked why. I said Judith Miller is at it again. He said who is Judith Miller? We are doomed.
Well, it was Tony Blair the last time, "sexing up" the report on Sadam WMD in Iraq, pushing the USA into an invasion and occupation of Iraq with all its inhuman and geopolitical consequences--yesterday's news to far too many people.

The Hutton commission shut down the investigation of the murder of Dr. Kelly.

Judy Miller back at it on the once-public "airwaves"? I believe you Glenn, and that is unbelievable!

So the Mossad is involved in a conspiracy, and the trail stops there... is that your view Joseph?

All this is happening in the context of a vast--and somewhat rushed--reorganization of the world's monetary-financial system, upon which the lives of billions of human souls depend. Chaos is being created by intent. The power (insofar as it remains) of nation states to regulate transnational imperialist financier operations is under attack.

In the "What shall we teach our children and look to for a way out of this accelerating descent into hell" department, I'd have to put the Declaration of Independence and Constitution pretty high on the list.
Gary, I think Mossad tops the list of suspects, and so did Gareth Porter, the guy looking into this on the scene. I'm open to other possibilities. But NOT to any LaRouchian ravings about the Brits-Who-Control-Everything.
Joseph, I hope you understand that I never try to trick you. (First, I almost certainly couldn't, and second, that's not the kind of person I am.) I simply try to act appropriately according to the rules of your site here.

If you have posted previously on the subject of what "intel" is, or the relationships between intel agencies, I'd be interested to see where you're at on that, so links or search terms I could use at your site I would appreciate. I'm trying to find common ground here.

To be clear, for starters, I most certainly do not think the people of the U.K. or the majority of its government are the "Bad Guys." I would think that goes without saying, but for starters.

Further, I don't believe the royal family is a nexus necessarily worth discussing as a priority; plenty of rotten eggs outside of that circle.

I'm not thinking that I--or trying to pretend that I--know it all. I DO know I have nowhere near the ability to express myself that you have. I'm a guest walking on eggshells here.

Leaving aside interpretations of history, discussions about science or art, Lyn has, I think, put forward excellent proposals for dealing with our current predicament(s). That discussion of them--even on their own merits--as soon as the name of the guy who originally proposed them, or as soon as a link related to him which can explain more without me having to type out a 2,000 word transcript seems to be banned here, is unfortunate, in my view. If I were living on a pension and/or wasn't struggling to support wife and child, I suppose I could project myself differently.

By no means am I demanding any sort of response to these words. This is just my best effort, in a (more or less) public forum, to say my piece/peace.

I want we should reason together, simple as that.
Joe, I understand that Israel is your personal bête noire, but I think it's pretty unlikely that Mossad is responsible for this. Mossad is widely renowned for the quality of their document forgeries, and they certainly would've remembered to "toss in some Farsi" (as would the CIA). They just wouldn't have done something like this. If this had been a Mossad plant, Ahmadinejad himself wouldn't have been able to spot the flaws.

This is an amateur operation, probably originating with domestic neocons or perhaps oil futures speculators. No intelligence agency worthy of the name would do something this clumsy.
This definitely looks like the work of the United States CIA. I think that after Iran decided to announce that they would no longer like to use the Dollar and instead would be taking on the Euro, the US started then immediately starting attacking Irans programs. Can we say Saddam pt 2? I think Obama is going to bring us right into a painful and unforgettable war with Iran, that will change the world (and not in a good way). They are going to walk us right into a Facist/Communist world government without sovereignty.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is 

powered by Blogger. 

Isn't yours?