Syrian Nukes Pixel Drama?


As if the mysteries surrounding Israel’s raid on an alleged Syrian nuclear facility and subsequent revelations about North Korean complicity in a reported cash-for-reactor deal were not cloak-and-dagger enough, Chris Nelson – the uber insider political newsletter scribe behind The Nelson Report and whose contacts in the national security establishment are stellar – reports the rumor that the video showed by the CIA to Capitol Hill lawmakers may have been “doctored.”
Some are arguing that there is a “pixel mismatch.” Arghhh… You have to be kidding!

Nelson points out that this should be easy to check, but the real issue here is not whether the video is completely fake (which I don’t believe it is) but rather that the well has been badly poisoned before on false intel allegations and that the bar now is very high before presented data is trusted. Nelson also notes that the video ID of the so-called North Korea nuclear expert is wrong.
Maybe this intel show wasn’t ready for prime time after all – which then begs the question of why the rush.

The Nelson Report – 28 Apriil 2008
N. KOREA. . .since our Reports of Thursday and Friday last week, possibly debilitating rumors, but little “fact” has been added to the deconstruction of the CIA’s controversial “Syria briefing”.
In the sexy rumor department, there are those claiming that the Israeli-supplied photos used in the “video” shown on Capitol Hill “came from a photo-shop”, specifically, “the pixels don’t match” on the alleged N. Korean nuclear expert and his Syrian compatriots.
This strikes us as amazingly easy to confirm, one way or the other, but we cite it as emblematic of the fundamental destruction of trust in nuclear-related “intelligence” since the Colin Powell “Iraq WMD” debacle at the UN, oh so many long years ago.
On the photo allegedly of a DPRK nuclear expert, Administration sources confirm that the video ID is inaccurate, but our sources say the S. Korean newspaper identification of the man as a senior political official from the Foreign Ministry is also incorrect.
On the briefing itself, we can report that Capitol Hill “customers” are not at all happy that less than an hour after professional staff with the appropriate clearances were barred from the room, the whole video was handed over to the world.
“You have to think the Administration didn’t want to have experts in the room who might dare to ask tough questions”, notes one disgruntled bar-ee, whom, we should note, said he did not believe the “pixel” mismatch rumor “because it would be so unbelievably stupid…”
The majority of our expert sources do say they feel that the video briefing can be accepted as conclusive that…assuming the photos are not a complete fabrication…the Syrian plant can now be said to definitely be a Yongbyon-type of nuclear facility.
But after that, consensus breaks down completely on whether it was a nascent bomb facility, a power station of some kind, or what.
One Congressional expert, after watching the video, comments “the very first line in the briefing is false…there’s no way the plant was ‘ready to be switched on’, so you have to question the entire premise for the raid…”
For those who want to follow the pros and cons of what kind of a nuclear plant may have been bombed, and what about Israel’s “motive”, we urge you to check the blogs. For Asia purposes, the focus needs to shift to the effect of all this on the 6 Party Talks.
On the issue of how “Syria” relates to the 6 Party Talks, and the “Singapore” deal hammered out by A/S Chris Hill, now under review in both Washington and Pyongyang…
Indications are that the lack of support from his immediate boss, Condi Rice (noted in last Wednesday’s NY Times), plus the warning from President Bush “don’t make me look weak”, has led Hill to conclude he needs more detail than was brought back over the weekend by Korea Desk chief Sung Kim.
With that in mind, don’t be surprised if Kim is sent back to Pyongyang in hopes of generating materials which skeptics and supporters alike will accept on the vital “verification” issues now under such strong attack.
Hill cannot have been pleased to see a predecessor as Asst. Sec., Winston Lord, and the highly respected Les Gelb, join in an OpEd criticizing the Singapore deal, and thus legitimizing the concerted conservative/neo-con attack on what is clearly still a work in progress.
So…stay tuned.
Oh…one important point…the Sanger article in the Times last week led to speculation that Hill was close to resigning, and there were quotes being passed around by various “friends”…the Truman dictum at work again.
We can report definitely from Hill himself, “still here…still here…”

More later. Need to go give a talk on blogging and foreign policy.
— Steve Clemons


17 comments on “Syrian Nukes Pixel Drama?

  1. Joshua says:

    More later. Need to go give a talk on blogging and foreign policy.
    So all these months later, is there any substance to — or evidence to support — this theory?


  2. Kathleen says:

    Erik Larson… I’m with you on getting out the microscope and lie detector…top to bottom..Senator DU.. Cranial Rectoscopist.. euphomedia… love that…


  3. Erik Larson says:

    Everything put out by the Bush Administration and their backers
    and partners needs to be closely examined for lies, contradictions,
    distortions, errors, etc. Any information “appearing” in media, etc.
    in the world that appears to support a case for Bush
    Administration/neocon corporate-imperial foreign and domestic
    objectives should be given extra scrutiny to see if it’s real-
    especially anything put out by the al/as sahab DOD media group


  4. erichwwk says:

    First, kudos to Steve on his handling of this issue.
    Unlike the WH, Steve has always struck me as interested in the truth, and does not bar “professional staff with the appropriate clearances were barred from the room [or blog]”.
    As a result I find his ability to shift policy from ideology based, to reality based, nothing short of remarkable.
    Second, the facility WAS “likely” a small nuclear reactor, albeit far from operational, and far from linked to a weapons program.
    Sue asks:
    “Why didn’t US give the information to IAEA to check out? If it was an illegitimate project Syria would be caught red handed; if not, it cleared Syria’s name. Who tried to hide something here?”
    My $0.02 worth:
    First, what Syria did (and much of what Iran did and is doing) is neither illegal nor close to the stage required to be reported to the IAEA. So there is always the possibility that Syria would say no, on the same grounds as Iran, that the US and Israel do not operate within the law, and will destroy legal nuclear research activity by folks they don’t like. From the US perspective (try John Bolton’s take)the argument is that it is better to destroy such facilities whenever possible, precisely because world opinion and US power elite opinion are very much out of sync (See UN 62nd GA assembly res 20, 25, and 37 to see how alone the US is).
    See for an audio podcast that includes comments by Albright and Bolton.
    Second, folks in the US (and I assert, ONLY in the US) still see security in dinosaur terms, ie nuclear primacy and supremacy, despite the fact that for many this issue of nuclear security was resolved even BEFORE the first nuclear bomb was deployed, and is reflected in UN res. number one (1945- and GA resolutions ad naseumsince), the NPT (1969), and the ICJ (1960). However, might makes right, and the US choses not to be bound/constrained by world opinion nor buy into the concept of international law. Even Einstein regretted his involvement with the bomb, and stated this about nuclear weapons:
    “There is no secret, and there is no defense. There is no possibility of control except through the aroused understanding and insistence of the peoples of the world.”
    Third, there is the value in releasing these tapes now in terms of sabotaging the six party diplomacy talks, drawing attention away from what IS illegal and a war crime (the DOE/NNSA complex transformation process)whose “official” comment period ends today. So asserting someone is committing the very crime you are committing is a classic way of averting attention, and enabling your own illegal process.


  5. CKR says:

    You will find much more analysis of the photos (but not the one of the two guys together) in the CIA video at the WhirledView blog.
    Something about those “side views.”
    Why the reactor is not “the same” as the Yongbyon reactor.
    The photos of the destruction are not all oriented in the same direction.
    And there is a great deal of discussion about the reactor photos at Arms Control Wonk, particularly in this thread and this one.


  6. SenatorDU says:

    Sorry, Mr. Bar-ee. But These Thugs Only Do “So Unbelievably Stupid.”
    Followed by “So Unbelievably Denied.”
    Then by, “So What?!?”
    Impeachophobia breeds such flat-out, lunatic treachery.
    Get thee to a Cranial-Rectoscopist — and stop swallowing euphemedia newzproduct.


  7. jon says:

    Credibility gap, anyone? The Administration has proven itself to
    be profoundly untrustworthy on the smallest matters as well as
    those of grave national importance. Why should anyone give
    this video a less sceptical treatment than Dan Rather’s
    It seems far fetched, prima facie, that Syria would want to build
    a nuclear reactor, but perhaps they did. There are still a great
    number of facts about the site that don’t lend themselves to a
    nuclear reactor, the close up photos are inconclusive, and the
    debris photos don’t indicate anything more than a building shell
    being present.
    It’s suspicious that the Syrians didn’t invite the world’s camera
    crews in to document the destruction of an innocent site right
    after it was bombed. But maybe they find some advantage in
    this ambiguity.
    If only Colin Powell’s UN presentation had been granted this
    detailed level of review and critique, we might have 4,000
    American soldiers still alive, and a trillion dollars in our pocket.
    Among myriad other benefits.
    Why does it seem that our ‘War President’ wants to go out with a


  8. TonyForesta says:

    The more disturbing truth and fact is that the fascists in the Bush government had nothing to do with Israels undertaking in Dayr Al Zawr, nor did Israel approve the leaking of this story, or the circus performance before congress recently. Israel utilized commercial sat services to target this facility, and did not involve America until the final stages of the planning.
    We witness to yet another cataclysmic FAILURE of intelligence wherein the fascists in the Bush government while negotiating with NK FAILED to recognize a Syrian nuclear fuel (not weapons) facility under construction with NK assistance and technology in the Dayr Al Zawr. Israel alone is responsible for this attack, and the destruction of (whatever Syria was attempting to build). The fascists in the Bush government leaked this story for political reasons and are falsely and decietfully claiming glory for the work of Israel alone.
    Liars, fiends, traitors. Why do the America people suffer this repeated abuse, and the relentless spitting in our faces of pathological lies? How is it possible that impeachment is NOT on the table?
    Why? How? WTF?


  9. David says:

    They were presenting information to the relevant body, which information was intended to make the case for war against whatever regime they want to topple at the moment. Of course they were lying by doctored “truth.”
    As pointed out by others, the whole pattern of events stinks to high heaven (which these bastards had better hope doesn’t exist, at least not one in which a just God metes out righteous judgment).


  10. Don Bacon says:

    We are currently observing the highest level of naval presence in the Middle East region since late 2003. The US Navy is currently operating two Carrier Strike Groups in the Middle East plus two US Expeditionary Strike Groups, and a British Carrier Strike Group is also in the region. So there is the coincidence of increased US naval presence due to strike force overlap with a large European naval presence — a massive increase in naval power which may not be reduced soon.


  11. ... says:

    Let’s hope they’re discussing the continuing, damaging censorship of unfamiliar viewpoints across the spectrum that’s still infecting discourse in the capital.


  12. via says:

    The IAEA? That quaint little group that Bush kicked out of Iraq so that he could invade before they could tell the world a very inconvenient truth?


  13. Sue says:

    The question I would ask is: Why didn’t US give the information to
    IAEA to check out? If it was an illegitimate project Syria would be
    caught red handed; if not, it cleared Syria’s name. Who tried to hide
    something here?


  14. TonyForesta says:

    Here again, we have the another example of the fascists in the Bush government mangling truth to conform to policies that benefit the fascists in the Bush government exclusively.
    Just today the America people are subjected to another round spit and spew hurled in our faces.
    The economy is in a “slowdown”.
    Our economic woe’s are the democrats fault.
    We’re “making progress” in Afghanistan.
    Mangling the truth and language is a highly refined black art of the propagandists, disinformation warriors, and slime miesters, (the socalled “message-force multipliers”) in, or beholden to the fascists in the Bush government.
    Nothing any of these pathological liars pimp – not one single word is factual or true, or deserves one nanoparticle of the peoples goodfaith, goodwill, respect or trust. The fascists in the Bush government, and Bush and Cheney particularly are pathological liars. Nothing they pimp is true, or based on fact, or rooted in reality. Not one single word.


  15. someTV says:

    Surprised this just surfaced. I was shocked that they weren’t called on it by the committee. Did the McKinsey people (McKinsey is a management consulting firm advising leading companies on issues of strategy, organization, technology, and operations. this nice little video for them? That after eight years of this I first see a note on the Washington Note noting that just maybe a video could be doctored…I mean, it’s edited video tape, it has a voice over, a scripted narration, and usually the voice over talent doesn’t pause to take questions from its audience. That they even watched the dvd and didn’t refuse to show it blows my mind into little pieces of non square pixels (you know, standard definition aspect ratio). That is story telling the way it was done around the campfire: embellish your story, keep it compelling, don’t lose your audience’s attention, make them listen. (Bad story telling, but story telling none the less.) Aaargh!


  16. Robert M. says:

    Steve, you ask “begs the question of why the rush”. Likely because someone wants to release the “doctored” Iranian footage quite soon, so as to allow Bush the opportunity, “based on evidence”, to make the strike against Iran ASAP, regardless of where it falls in the election season (as he’s not up for re-election). And, now, just who would like to present Bush with that “going out in a blaze of glory” option? Hhhhmmmmm? Why the other “he’s not up for relection” fellow for whom such a strike would be the capstone, the seal, on the pro-active, aggressive foreign policy he’s been championing since the Church Report (House Select Committee version).
    Pelosi & Reid will shout until their blue in the face and it won’t matter a bit. Ole 41 even won’t matter as Cheney/Addington will make sure he has no access to 43 at the critical moment. As the Joint Chiefs have now proven themselves to be simple toadies, absolute careerists with no sense of what their citizenship implies in upholding the Constitution they also swore to protect, there’s nothing to stop 43 but his own innate cowardice.
    Carrier task force? Nuclear subs would be best to for total surprise. And where are our nuclear subs?
    Revolutionary Change


  17. Mr.Murder says:

    Look downstairs, Steve.
    Said there that this was a redux of the Chicken Ranch buried WMD scam. That figure eight roadway looks pretty familiar too. Looks like a different season for the same pics we once saw paraded around as proof of WMD both before and after the war.


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