[media id=7096] (H/t David E) The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, when finally released after months of the Bush administration trying to get it changed without success, said that "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program." Since then every major Western media outlet and political leader, especially including Barack Obama, has done their level best to ignore that finding - well, after the wingnuts got over crowing about how it proved Bush's invasion of Iraq was a good thing, at least - yet there's not a shred of real evidence for doing so. Much of the narrative which allows the consensus view of the entire US intelligence community to be ignorable centers around the infamous "laptop of death" and around statements last year at a private briefing by the IAEA's Oli Heinonen. However, the documents contained upon the laptop are of questionable provenance, probably at least in part forged by their provider - the MeK terrorist group - and in any case refer to programs from before 2003. Heinonen’s briefing likewise referred to programs from before 2003 - as it would, since it was based on those laptop documents, given to the IAEA by George Schulte so that Hoinonen would brief members and Schulte could then leak his notes of that briefing to the media establishing a stage of plausiblity between him and the information. However, the information given at that briefing was public knowledge even in 2005, something not even mentioned by David "Judy in Drag" Sanger at the NYT when he recycled his 2005 report on the laptop's information for his widely cited 2008 report on the briefing. By this weekend, Sanger had entirely dismissed the NIE and was willing to bend the IAEA's findings and briefings all out of shape in service of the narrative. David Sanger may be the finest stenographer for his "unofficially official" sources at the White House in the history of journalism. The IAEA's assessment to date is in full agreement with the NIE: that there "is no evidence that the weapons program continued after 2004" but you'd be forgiven if you hadn't realized that, as much reporting on the subject has deliberately played games with tense. Given that's there's no evidence that Iran has a current nuclear weapons program, warmongers have been reduced to arguing that there's no proof positive that it doesn't. The inability to prove a negative, to prove "evidence of absence" was what got us into Iraq too, so they hope it serves again. Unfortunately, Obama's recent statements would indicate that it will serve again. On Sunday he told George Stephanoupolis that "they are pursuing a nuclear weapon that could potentially trigger a nuclear arms race". The conversation continued:
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you have to do something about it in your first year. OBAMA: Andwe are going to have to take a new approach. And I've outlined my belief that engagement is the place to start. That the international community is going to be taking cues from us in how we want to approach Iran. And I think that sending a signal that we respect the aspirations of the Iranian people, but that we also have certain expectations in terms of how a international actor behaves, is… (CROSSTALK) STEPHANOPOULOS: But a new emphasis on respect. OBAMA: Well, I think a new emphasis on respect and a new emphasis on being willing to talk, but also a clarity about what our bottom lines are. And we are in preparations for that. We anticipate that we're going to have to move swiftly in that area.That sounds nice but if Dennis "walks with neocons" Ross is really to be given the Iran brief, as rumors indicate then it's simply more of the same pretence at engagement while actually being as obstructive as possible - playing the negotiation game as part of a campaign to pressure Iran alongside constant threat of attack.
"This may be the best example in recent times of highly coordinated threat of force against a country to bring about diplomatic solution...I'm not sure," said Ret. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Hoar, the former head of CENTCOM, the military command responsible for the whole of the Middle East. "[...F]or people that think this is serious, I would put it in the utter folly department."Crossposted From Newshoggers