Syria Questions Integrity of Our Administration

Robin Wright discusses the aftermath of the September 6 bombing of a Syrian facility by Israel. Our argument:

A video taken inside a secret Syrian facility last summer convinced the Israeli government and the Bush administration that North Korea was helping to construct a reactor similar to one that produces plutonium for North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, according to senior U.S. officials who said it would be shared with lawmakers today. The officials said the video of the remote site, code-named Al Kibar by the Syrians, shows North Koreans inside. It played a pivotal role in Israel’s decision to bomb the facility late at night last Sept. 6, a move that was publicly denounced by Damascus but not by Washington. Sources familiar with the video say it also shows that the Syrian reactor core’s design is the same as that of the North Korean reactor at Youngbyon, including a virtually identical configuration and number of holes for fuel rods. It shows “remarkable resemblances inside and out to Yongbyon,” a U.S. intelligence official said. A nuclear weapons specialist called the video “very, very damning.”

Seems we caught them red handed but then there’s this:

Syrian Ambassador Imad Moustapha yesterday angrily denounced the U.S. and Israeli assertions. “If they show a video, remember that the U.S. went to the U.N. Security Council and displayed evidence and images about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I hope the American people will not be as gullible this time around,” he said.

But why trust the Syrians – right? But then there’s this:

But beginning today, intelligence officials will tell members of the House and Senate intelligence, armed services and foreign relations committees that the Syrian facility was not yet fully operational and that there was no uranium for the reactor and no indication of fuel capability, according to U.S. officials and intelligence sources. David Albright , president of Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) and a former U.N. weapons inspector, said the absence of such evidence warrants skepticism that the reactor was part of an active weapons program. “The United States and Israel have not identified any Syrian plutonium separation facilities or nuclear weaponization facilities,” he said. “The lack of any such facilities gives little confidence that the reactor is part of an active nuclear weapons program. The apparent lack of fuel, either imported or indigenously produced, also is curious and lowers confidence that Syria has a nuclear weapons program.” U.S. intelligence officials will also tell the lawmakers that Syria is not rebuilding a reactor at the Al Kibar site. “The successful engagement of North Korea in the six-party talks means that it was unlikely to have supplied Syria with such facilities or nuclear materials after the reactor site was destroyed,” Albright said. “Indeed, there is little, if any, evidence that cooperation between Syria and North Korea extended beyond the date of the destruction of the reactor.”

Hat tip to David Kurtz who adds:

Ouch. Isn’t there some sort of statute of limitations on our goof? I mean it’s been five years since Colin Powell’s UN presentation. And look at all we’ve done since: brought peace and stability to Iraq, made real progress on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, calmed world financial markets. You’d think they could overlook this one little hiccup in light of all our other good deeds. Not to mention the catharsis we’ve undergone here at home: the extensive congressional hearings on the misuse of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, Dick Cheney’s teary apology in the well of the Senate, Bush’s re-election in 2004. Look at the disgrace it has brought to the Republican Party: John McCain is barely running even with the Democrats in national polls. Can’t the world see? We’ve changed.

Update: Recall our Administration claiming there was some video of the Syrian facility? Olivier Knox learns it ain’t quite so:

A US official, requesting anonymity, told AFP: “There are still photographs of the facility as part of the video, but it’s a video presentation, like a Powerpoint presentation. It’s not a video of the facility.”

It does seem we are ruled by a gang of liars.