Friday, December 7, 2007

Dershowitz Caught With His Pants Around His Ankles...

This is the kind of article or column that I expected--wingnuts and uninformed people are going to claim there's a bias in the intel community.

Alan Dershowitz claims bias and fraud. And he claims to know what is going on in the intelligence field. And then he goes on to claim there’s some sort of bias within the intelligence community against going to war against Iran. Uh, no. The possiblity that unfiltered bias could once again get through was removed through institutional changes. Those cherry-picked mistakes, you know--the ones that embarrassed Colin Powell at the UN--were there because the White House, which is run by Dick Cheney, suppressed all of the dissenting views that should have gone into that NIE. The intel community just wants to get it right.

And I can’t emphasize this one salient point enough—if there WAS dissent, it would be heard. If there WAS a credible piece of intelligence that pointed to a credible Iranian threat to the United States, Israel, or any other country, the intelligence community would get behind that piece of information and stand behind it. Dershowitz and his ilk cannot fathom this point.
Stupid Intelligence
The recent national intelligence estimate that concluded that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 is just about the stupidest intelligence assessment I have ever read. It falls hook, line and sinker for a transparent bait and switch tactic employed not only by Iran, but by several other nuclear powers in the past. The tactic is obvious and well-known to all intelligence officials with an IQ above room temperature. It goes like this: There are two tracks to making nuclear weapons: One is to conduct research and develop technology directly related to military use. That is what the United States did when it developed the atomic bomb during the Manhattan Project. The second track is to develop nuclear technology for civilian use and then to use the civilian technology for military purposes.

I had no idea that this was the preferred activity and field of expertise of Alan Dershowitz—reading the intelligence products that have been declassified for public consumption produced by our intelligence agencies. And to cite the “Manhattan Project” in a discussion about modern nuclear weapons proliferation is to demonstrate complete ignorance of what the likes of what Abdul Qadeer Khan have been doing for years. Khan claims he has been supplying Iran with knowledge. The NIE deals with that information accordingly. Nowhere does Dershowitz deal with the issue of what Khan has or has not been doing with Iran.

Here’s a takedown of the involvement of AQ Khan from 2005, and it is extremely prescient and details exactly why Dershowitz is completely rabid and wildly mistaken in virtually all of his opinions:

This raises an interesting question: In a post-AQ Khan world, is uranium conversion the chokepoint for would-be bombmakers? Alex Montgomery…argues that converting uranium is a difficult technical barrier for entrants into the nuclear club:

Although A.Q. Khan supplied both plans and parts, it appears that without the tacit knowledge required to develop nuclear weapons, successfully developing a capability requires much trial and error. ... Iran is building a yellowcake-to-UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) conversion plant at Isfahan based on Chinese blueprints. Yet Iran has had difficulties producing high quality UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) and turning it into UF6. Although less evidence is available from Libya’s program, the lags in time and difficulties seem to indicate that similar problems were encountered there.

If you want to enrich uranium with a centrifuge, you have to convert uranium yellowcake into uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas, a process that requires the element fluorine. Fluorine is not user friendly.

Dr. Khan’s nuclear Wal-Mart sold finished UF6 gas, but not the uranium conversion facility (UCF) for the hardcore DIY bombmaker. Libya’s experiments were apparently unsuccessful. Libya attempted to buy secretly a modular UCF (from Japan), but never received all the modules. Ultimately, Tripoli just bought UF6 from Khan.

Iran, we now know, has also had a tough time. US nonproliferation policy probably deserves much of the credit for creating the technical problems that Iran is experiencing in attempting to create uranim hexafloride.

Woo hoo! We got SOMETHING right! But, sadly and without shame, Dershowitz goes on:
"Iran is also building a heavy water reactor at its research center at Arak. This reactor is ideal for producing plutonium for nuclear bombs, but is of little use in an energy program like Iran's, which does not use plutonium for reactor fuel. India, Israel and Pakistan have all built similar reactors -- all with the purpose of fueling nuclear weapons. And why, by the way, does Iran even want a nuclear energy program, when it is sitting on an enormous pool of oil that is now skyrocketing in value? And why is Iran developing long-range Shahab missiles, which make no military sense without nuclear warheads to put on them?
"...the halting of its secret enrichment and weapon design efforts in 2003 proves only that Iran made a tactical move. It suspended work that, if discovered, would unambiguously reveal intent to build a weapon. It has continued other work, crucial to the ability to make a bomb, that it can pass off as having civilian applications."


First of all--oil. Iran's oil industry is collapsing, not prospering:

At first glance, Iran looks like an energy superpower. It is the second largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). It owns 11 percent of the world's conventional oil reserves, second only to Saudi Arabia. It also sits on 16 percent of the world's gas reserves, the largest reserve after Russia. With rising oil prices, Iran's oil export revenues have increased steadily, from $32 billion in 2004, to $47 billion in 2006. Finally, its geographic position on the world's most important energy corridor, the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world's oil traffic passes, gives Iran the ability to disrupt the flow of oil to global markets.

A closer look, however, reveals that Iran's energy sector is a house of cards. It is neglected, crumbling and underinvested. Many of its oil and gas fields are in dire need of foreign technical expertise to help reverse their natural decline. An analysis published last year in Proceedings, a journal of the National Academy of Sciences, asserts that, "Iran is suffering a staggering decline in revenue from its oil exports, and if the trend continues, income could virtually disappear by 2015." Iran's deputy oil minister, Mohammed Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian, confirmed recently that, "if the projects for increasing the capacity of the oil and protection of the oil wells will not happen, within ten years there will not be any oil for export."

Oil may be Iran's greatest strength, but it is also Iran's greatest weakness. As such, the debate in the West on how to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons should focus less on the risky military option, or the seemingly ineffective diplomatic option, and more on a comprehensive economic warfare strategy that targets Iran's energy sector. With oil exports accounting for half the government's budget and around 80 to 90 percent of total export earnings, the surest strategy to bring down Tehran's Islamic regime is to break its economic backbone.

Here’s what Fox News had to say in 2005 about the facility at Arak, and maybe you can pick up on what Dershowitz is saying (and maybe who he gets his misinformation from):

PARIS — A heavy water reactor in central Iran should be able to produce enough plutonium for a nuclear bomb by 2007 — years ahead of its official completion date, an exiled Iranian opposition group claimed Thursday.
The National Council of Resistance said the site near Arak was already producing heavy water. Nuclear experts consider heavy water reactors a danger because they provide for a simpler way of producing bomb fuel than units using light water.
Mohammed Mohaddessin, head of the group's foreign affairs committee, said work on a 40-megawatt heavy water reactor is "near an end" and should be ready in 2006 or 2007. When that reactor is completed, the Arak facility will capable of producing up to 22 pounds of plutonium, enough for a nuclear bomb, he said.
Heavy water is used in nuclear power plants and can be used to produce plutonium for weapons.
Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that the reactor near Arak would be finished in 2014.
"The Iranian regime is engaged in an all-out race against time" to finish construction, Mohaddessin told a news conference in Paris. The objective is "to obtain plutonium to build a nuclear bomb," he claimed.

Doesn't that perfectly encapsulate how wrong these people have been? Since 2005, at least, they have been lying, whining, and spreading disinformation around in order to further some other agenda. That small snippet from the Fake News site is a crystal clear and perfect example of your Republican Crime Syndicate at work. Arak won’t be operational until 2009, at the earliest, by the way. Some say it won’t be ready for many years after that. The IAEA is now allowed to inspect it and monitor it. But who are you going to believe? Reality or the hysterical cries of so-called resistance movements (see Curveball) and Alan Dershowitz, who has apparently bought this line of reasoning hook, line and sinker?

If you get into the details, you find that the people who want war are usually the ones who can’t be bothered to deal with the details. And that’s why this country is so fucked up right now—no one pays attention to detail. But they damned sure pay too much attention to Fox News.

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