Is this a reaction to the Times article? It sure looks like it. I wouldn't be surprised if we soon start hearing about retroactive immunity for the guilty parties, just as we are seeing in the illegal spying case currently in the Senate.
As always happens in this case, the silence in the US media is deafening.
Two years ago, Bush's efforts to sell nuclear technology prompted much "indignation and furor," but not a single major US media outlet has yet reported the proposed deal with Turkey. Agence France-Presse put out a report on its wires which has been picked up around the world, but that's about it.
The White House press release says that Bill Clinton agreed to the deal in 2000:
However, immediately after signature, U.S. agencies received information that called into question the conclusions that had been drawn in the required NPAS (Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement) and the original classified annex, specifically, information implicating Turkish private entities in certain activities directly relating to nuclear proliferation. Consequently, the Agreement was not submitted to the Congress and the executive branch undertook a review of the NPAS evaluation.
It would certainly be interesting to know which "Turkish private entitities" Bush is referring to here. If he had said "Turkish private companies" instead, we could be comfortable in presuming that he was referring to the two named Turkish companies involved in A.Q. Khan's network, EKA and ETI Elektroteknik. The phrase "entities" on the other hand, is broader, and could very well include the American Turkish Council, the 'entity' named in the Times article as well as other articles about Sibel Edmonds case.
The timing here is also interesting; "immediately after" Clinton approved the deal in July 2000, US agencies became aware of this Turkish involvement in the AQ Khan network. This was fully three years before the Khan network was officially exposed.
The White House press release continues with some curiously descriptive narrative:
"My Administration has completed the NPAS review as well as an evaluation of actions taken by the Turkish government to address the proliferation activities of certain Turkish entities (once officials of the U.S. Government brought them to the Turkish government's attention)."Given that the entire press release is basically written in 'legalese', this unnecessary parenthetical aside stands out like a sore thumb. I wonder who injected this statement into the announcement, and why. It sure looks like butt-covering to me, given the latest revelations in the Times.
The phrase 'once officials...' also appears to be a curious formulation. I'm not overly familiar with presidential statements and US government protocols, but I would imagine that "Agencies" or "Departments" would normally communicate with foreign governments on such important matters, and I would imagine that presidential statements would normally refer to such agencies, rather than 'officials.' Perhaps I'm wrong, and perhaps this is common practice, but it sure looks like an attempt to exonerate certain individuals such as Marc Grossman who was accused of some very serious crimes in the Times article.
Who were these officials? How, when, and in what format, did they bring this information to the Turkish government? I'd like to see the official communication, please.
And what, exactly, has the Turkish government done to 'address these proliferation activities'? We know that ETA and EKI continue to operate, and as far as I know haven't been penalized. The press release says that this information is all classified.
It appears as though certain administration officials have been illegally supplying the Turkish nuclear program for years, and now that they've been publicly outed, the Bush administration will simply make the entire program legal, just as they are trying to do with the illegal spying.
Congress has 90 days to amend or block this legislation, otherwise it automatically becomes law.
We need public open hearings to determine which officials have been supplying the nuclear black market before this becomes law.
Cross posted at Let Sibel Edmonds Speak