Thursday, August 28, 2008

NY Times does it again: More 'Judy Miller' tapdancing (Pt2)

A front page article "In Nuclear Net’s Undoing, a Web of Shadowy Deals" in Monday's New York Times by David Sanger and William Broad details the destruction of evidence by the US government in a case involving the nuclear black market.

The article highlights again that the New York Times continues to engage in 'Judy Miller reporting' by warmongering and acting as a mouthpiece for the government.

This is the second article in a multi-part series. This article will focus on the countries involved, and how and why the NY Times continues to act as a government mouthpiece by focusing attention on, and warmongering toward, Iran, and minimizing the role of so-called allies such as Turkey and Dubai. (The first piece of the series focused on the players in the AQ Khan / BSA Tahir nuclear smuggling ring.)


The Sanger/Broad article is obviously designed to drum up support for a war against Iran. Without evidence or support, they write that Iran is "presumably racing for the capability to build a bomb." They say this despite the fact that the US Intelligence Community's 2007 National Intelligence Estimate states that "Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen."

The Sanger/Broad article quotes government-friendly sources stating that there were two 'successful' 'sting' operations against the Iranian nuclear program, without noting that at least one of the so-called stings in 2006 was against the nuclear power program, not a weapons program.

The entire premise of the destruction of evidence in the prosecution case against the Tinner family, key suppliers to the AQ Khan network, in Switzerland is that the Tinners were supplying "electronic blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon on computers."

These blueprints were destroyed, we were told, so that they wouldn't get into "the hands of a terrorist organization or an unauthorized state." It isn't until the final page of a four-page article that Broad and Sanger inform us that the IAEA has "no evidence that Iran had acquired the bomb plans." (please see Broad and Sanger's previous article on this and note how they were played for a fiddle by their government sources. No correction has been made to the article.)

Ignoring Other Countries
By focusing on Iran, and cherry-picked elements of the Tinner case, the New York Times journalists, acting as government mouthpieces, chose to ignore the other countries involved in the network, countries who are not members of the Axis of Evil.

The article notes that the list of customers "may extend further" than Iran, North Korea and Libya, but does not question why these other customers have not been made public. Could it be that these countries are allies of the United States?

We know that:
"The wider nuclear network has been monitored for many years by a joint Anglo-American intelligence effort. But rather than shut it down, investigations by law enforcement bodies such as the FBI and Britain’s Revenue & Customs have been aborted to preserve diplomatic relations."


In the case of former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, we know that the same excuse - "sensitive diplomatic relations" - was used to gag her and all the details behind her case. Which diplomatic relations are we referring to here? In 2005, Sibel noted that these 'diplomatic relations' are "not named since obviously our officials are ashamed of admitting to these relations."

How is it possible that these relationships outweigh the very serious implications of the spread of nuclear weapons?

Turkey
Turkey's role in the nuclear black market has been well documented, though poorly reported in the US. Turkey acted (and may continue to act) as both a manufacturing base for nuclear hardware, as well as a trans-shipment point for goods on their way to the end-customers such as Libya and Pakistan.

In 2000, Bill Clinton signed an order to allow Turkey access to US nuclear technology, but this order was blocked because, according to President Bush, certain Turkish entities were actively engaged in "certain activities directly relating to nuclear proliferation."

Note the timing here. Turkey was known to have been involved in the nuclear black market at least three years prior to the 'official' outing of the AQ Khan ring when a ship containing nuclear hardware, from Turkey and elsewhere, was intercepted on its way to Libya.

President Bush recently re-signed Clinton's order allowing Turkey access to US nuclear technology, although there is no evidence that Turkey has rectified any of these problems.

Turkish Procurement
According to IAEA investigators, the nuclear hardware supplied by Turkey to the AQ Khan ring - including 7000 centrifuge motors - "could be used in manufacturing enough enriched uranium to produce 7 nuclear weapons a year."

In fact, the entire deal to supply Libya with a nuclear weapons program began in Turkey with a meeting in 1997 involving AQ Khan, his Chief Operating Officer BSA Tahir, and Libyan representatives.

The known Turkish suppliers to the network, Selim Alguadis and Gunes Cire, were not indicted for their criminal participation in the ring, and their companies, EKA and ETI Elektroteknik, continue to operate freely today.

Further, Turkish businessman Zeki Bilmen and his US based company Giza Technologies, was caught supplying nuclear hardware to Pakistan's military program in 2003 via South African-based Israeli Asher Karni.

Bilmen was also overheard on wiretaps translated by Sibel Edmonds prior to 2002 organizing nuclear shipments, apparently with members of the Turkish and Israeli military and diplomatic community in Washington DC. According to Sibel, Bilmen was shipping product to and from other hotspots in the Khan/Tahir network such as Turkey, Dubai, South Africa and Spain.

Zeki Bilmen was not indicted, and his company continues to operate freely.

Marco Tinner, a member of the Tinner family that was effectively pardoned by the Bush administration's destruction of evidence, was also recommended for indictment in Turkey in 2005. He faced 32 years in prison in Turkey but that case also appears to have disappeared in the same manner as the Swiss prosecution case.

A Turkish Bomb?
Although there has been no official proof that Turkey is actively building a nuclear weapons, some experts on Turkey's nuclear program have recounted their support, suspicious that the energy program is a cover for a weapons program. In 2006, Mustafa Kibaroglu, a nuclear proliferation expert in Turkey told the Washington Post:
"I'm not supporting Turkey's nuclear energy program anymore because I'm not clear about what the real intention is. Let's put it that way."


Of course, David Sanger and William Broad chose not to mention any of this in their article despite the direct link to the Tinner case, preferring to cherry-pick information in order to facilitate the agenda of their government masters. This pattern is consistent with the whitewashing of Turkey's involvement in nefarious activity. Turkey's role in terrorism is a "best kept secret," Turkey's role in narcotics smuggling is a 'best kept secret,' and with the able assistance of the New York Times, Turkey's involvement in the nuclear black market will remain another 'best kept secret.'

Dubai
According to the US State Department, Dubai is a major center for the trans-shipment of narcotics and the associated money-laundering. The same is true for nuclear hardware and the laundering of the profits of the nuclear black market. It is also considered a major US ally.

Chief Operating Officer of the nuclear procurement ring, BSA Tahir, was based in Dubai, as was one of his main suppliers, Briton Peter Griffin. Most of the hardware supplied to the network was sent to Dubai, and sometimes via Turkey, on its way to the end-customers. Nuclear hardware from the Tinners, and also Turkish operatives, Alguadis and Cire, was sent to Dubai from where it was dispatched to Libya on board the BBC China.

Interestingly, the official report regarding the exposure of the AQ Khan / Libya deal appeared to imply that the shipments from Turkey had some semi-official blessing, noting that "it is surprising" that the consignment from Turkish businessman Gunes Cire to Libya was "allowed without any action" and also that the consignment from Selim Alguadis "arrived in Libya without any obstruction and this is unusual."

Pardoned
As I documented in my previous article, virtually all of the participants in this procurement ring have been allowed to walk free, without paying any penalty for these very serious crimes. The same can be said for the different countries that actively supported the network, such as Turkey and Dubai - as well as the US, the UK, and Pakistan. Iran is the only country feeling the heat. Why is that?


Summary
By focusing on, and misrepresenting, the Iranian angle, Broad and Sanger again have shown themselves to be lapdogs for the US government. For one reason or other, none of them flattering, Broad and Sanger chose to selectively sanitize the role of other countries who are more culpable than Iran in matters of nuclear weapons proliferation.

Whatever the reason for the Times to provide the government's preferred spin on the case, David Sanger and William Broad will remain in the Judy Miller Hall of Fame.

---------------
Notes in the margin:
I was interviewed by Scott Horton on this topic yesterday. The interview can be downloaded here. An June interview regarding the Tinners is here.

Cross-posted at Let Sibel Edmonds Speak

(Email me if you want to be added to my Sibel email list. Subject: 'Sibel email list')

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