Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Iran: US Joint Staff and NSC allegedly fabricate fraud for NYT on Iranian nuclear development

We judge the "Iranian laplap report" to be a fabrication. The technical details in the report are far too advanced for a first generation program.

It remains to be understood whether:

  • A. the FBI is investigating this alleged fraud as they did with the Nigerian Yellow Cake; and/or

  • B. the DoJ review will be another sham investigation, which has been reopened.

    It appears as though the US restriction against disseminating domestic propaganda has been violated. Caution is warranted.

    Indeed, it appears as though the NYT has taken the bait.

    * * *

    The American DoD Joint Staff appears to be working with DoE and the Office of Special Plans, and National Security Council to create the pretext Bolton needs to go to the UN and assert there is a problem.

    The fundamental problem with the document is that it asserts a level of technical complexity which is at odds with a benign, first generation nuclear development program.

    Added to the credibility problem are the internally inconsistent comments about the data. At worst, the Administration appears to be creating tailored briefings for specific audiences, but has yet to provide a single picture of the program efforts.

    We judge the document and any conclusions about the Iranian nuclear development efforts to be overstated. The timelines, details, and information are not credibly linked with a bonafide program.

    Rather, the discussion of the material is more related to generating international support in order to pressure Congress to take action without thinking.

    We see little difference between how the US approached Iraq and Syria in justifying international pressure.

    The American public is cautioned to approach these claims with great skepticism. Moreover, each time the Americans get around to providing a specific list of demands, the Iranians have complied.

    The problem is that the Americans have created a fabricated program, and then want the Iranians to disprove something that does not actually exist.

    The burden of proof actually rests with the GS-12 and 13s who are part of this Joint Staff planning cell, and something the Congressional leadership and the Senate Intelligence Committee should discuss with the HASC and SASC.

    At this juncture, we have no confidence in the assertion the Joint Staff, White House, or personnel on the National Security Council are staying; nor do we believe there exists any credible information to warrant Bolton or anyone in the State Department to pressure other nations to believe in this fairy tale.

    Iran’s nuclear development program, if it is real, is many years off, but the report would have us believe that there is an urgent program. This is a fraud.

    * * *

    Other reports are consistent with allegations that the laptop computer-story doesn't add up: The story from the laptop isn't about a weapon, but a re-entry vehicle, information easily obtained through non-Iranian sources:
    "A legitimate question is whether Iran could successfully build such a small warhead without outside help," Albright said. Ref

    It is possible and highly likely the forged documents were

    A. cut and paste from open sources about corollary nuclear programs within the United States. DoD contracors, supporting SETA personnel assigned to various technical support fields may have been contacted through the US DoD Acquisition Community to provide details, then this was forwarded to the Joint Staff and inserted into the fabricated document; or

    B. personnel on the Joint Staff know people who are familiar with similar US development efforts and have lifted the information from open sources.

  • Echoes of Iraq and the Number 10 dossier.

  • Importance of noticing the details.

  • Kos discussion on various links: Unverified information.

    * * *

    Arrows and accusations: Where are the Tigers, George; and how about those Powell photos before the UN? They were fabrications. "Suspicious" about people in Las Vegas, and they collect 1M records, and find nothing. Surely, if there's been a nuclear test, there would be seismic data, but Washington has nothing.

    What were the results of the inspections? "Things that aren't consistent with what Washington wants to know." Suspicon grows that the US is doing to Iran what it did to Iraq: Create a justification for US to take unilateral action, not solve problems.

    Iran can't get a firm agreement with Russia; how are they going to get needed resource support over the next 10 years? No answer from the White House.

    Is the US willing to trun over its nuclear meaterial, and have others "monitor" whether it is or is not complying with "arbitrary standards"? No, because there's one standard for the US and everyone else. Why should Iran have to "subject itself to oversight" on something that is new, and no nation is currently not required to do so?

    Statements like this is, in the eyes of any nation, a violation of a nation's soverignty:
    countries like Iran should at the very least forego some of their "rights" in favour of international security.
    This is more of the "excuses for the Patriot Act, but we get less security in exchange." Why would any nation agree to such an imbalanced approach: Greater intrusions when it is not requird; and nothing but intrusions in return. That's not a starting point for negotiations; and a refusal to assent to this absurd terms will likely be painted by Washington as "proof" of ghosts.

    * * *

    Iran: The lessons of Iraq

    What happens when you lie about intelligence? People don't believe you.

    Supposedly, in Vienna someone has provided a laptop which includes information about an alleged Iranian nuclear development program.

    Let's pretend, with hindsight, that we're back in 2002, and reviewing this information, but as if it were from Iraq. What questions might we ask about this development, and the subsequent information?

    We judge the report to be not credible. Iran’s responses to date appear to be in substantial compliance with the nuclear inspections.

    The multi-year program, if it exists, is far from completion; therefore, there is no basis to assert that there be a definitive conclusion in the near term.

    If Iraq was truly developing a program for missile development, they would not permit any sort of oversight program this far away.

    It appears as though the United States is more concerned with building a coalition based on belief, than on facts.

    Most problematic with the American argument is the emphasis on the laptop without mentioning the other information; yet, when there are questions about the laptop, they then point to other sources. The United States has not provided a credible explanation why it cannot provide a single briefing which includes both the technical assessments of the alleged report with the photographic evidence.

    We view the US approach to Iran to be the same as it was with Iraq and now with Syria – build a coalition of public support to assert a violation, and then build pressure for action, without regard to the evidence or facts.

    The United States is relying on having “gained the belief of those who formerly disagreed the United States” as evidence that this is real. That is not evidence.

    The specific technical details within the report show evidence of having been fabricated to create the appearance. However, the timeframe of when the program would most likely achieve the result are at odds with the assessments that the program is serious. One cannot classify a program serious, but the fruits of that effort are vague. We judge the report was constructed to create the appearance of authenticity, and it includes a number of technical details which appear compelling, but are not evidence of serious progress or a threat.

    The matter is best left to the inspectors to fully disclose to the Iranians what their concerns are and work in a methodological approach to ensure the Iranians are given the benefit of the lessons of Iran and are rapidly encouraged to develop peaceful nuclear technology for energy support.

    The Russians should be encouraged to build bridges with the Iranians as a means to develop confidence with thin the Middle East.

    Iran response at odd with secrecy – if they have 10 years to go, why would they suddenly start providing details. If they truly wanted to develop a bomb, they would commit to a program to hide what they’re doing for 10 years.

  • "have allowed inspectors into a secret military site, shared more information about the history of their program, and signaled a willingness to reopen negotiations, even while vowing to continue turning raw uranium into a gas that can be enriched."

    DATA – Not credible

  • "a stolen Iranian laptop computer"

  • "a thousand pages of Iranian computer simulations and accounts of experiments, saying they showed a long effort to design a nuclear warhead"

    Summary Assessment

  • "officials found its arguments superficial and inconclusive"

    Questions: Over the data

  • "'How do you know what you're shown on a slide is true given past experience?'"

    We judge the vagueness of the information to indicate that there is insufficient basis to assert that this information should or should not be used as a substantial weight in the assessment of what is or is not going on in Iran.

    Vagueness of information means vague procedures to confirm

  • "impossible to seek a detailed explanation from the Iranians"

    The assessments to date imply that the technical progress is making great leaps; but this is at odds with the overall assessment that Iran is many years away from completion. We judge these assessment to be curious in that they imply a far more rapid and immediate threat than what is supported by the most likely program completion date.

    Thus, we judge the assessments based on the laptop to be designed to accelerate the implied threat, meaning that the single source of information is more likely related to an effort to create an impression of a more immediate threat that what Iran is most likely able to support.

    Vague confirmation

  • "nuclear analysts at the international atomic agency studied the laptop documents and found them to be credible evidence of Iranian strides"

    We judge the public relations effort, in the absence of an immediate effort, is designed to create the impression that this situation is different than Iraq. However, because someone changes their view on a matter, it doesn’t mean that the situation is different. It only means that, for whatever reason, they judge the situation different; however, the available evidence we have is that the most likely date for completion is in terms of a decade, and does not warrant a rapid increase in concern. Thus, we judge that some allies who formerly disagreed with the US are only mentioned, not because the situation is different than either Iraq or Syria, but as a public relations argument to tilt the balance in the favor of the discredited Americans.

    Resistance, implying that their change is confirmation

  • "some nations that were skeptical of the intelligence on Iraq - including France and Germany - are deeply concerned"

    As with Iraq, the statements rely on vague assertions and innuendo.


  • "according to several officials"

    IN the end, the burden of proof rests with the Americans to present credible evidence to Congress. We view the White House, DoD and others within the Administration as being more interested in nurturing international consensus, and then use this body as “proof” of something. Again, because many people are saying something, or believing something it doesn’t mean that there’s either evidence or a real problem. Thus, we judge the White House effort to emphasize international support as a red herring to distract attention from the 10-year forecast, and focuses on the mob appeal in an effort to win over Congress.

    Burden of Proof

  • "United States has so far refused to declassify the warhead information"

    The Administration provides no basis to reconcile the apparent long timeframe required to complete this program, if it exists, with the apparent concern that there is an imminent problem. We judge this to be inconsistent and telling – once cannot credibly imply that something is an imminent problem, all the while being inconsistent in the details of that threat, while at the same time offering nothing to suggest the threat is confirmed by multiple other indicators. Again, the confirmations are merely the assertion, without proof, that there might be other indicators. This is not evidence, but vagueness.

    Time: Risk is far away, so why is there a rush?

  • " Iran is still far away from producing the radioactive bomb fuel that would form the warhead's heart"

    Most troubling is the disconnect in the time forecasts. The intelligence community judges the outlook to be 10 years, while other organizations not privy to the intelligence use words to suggest rapidly progressing. We judge this to be hyperbole, designed to emphasize a movement from 5% completion to 7% as something that is rapid. This has no merit.

  • "American intelligence agencies recently estimated that Iran would have a working nuclear weapon no sooner than the early years of the next decade"

    Time: Disconnect

  • "many government and nongovernment experts agreed that Iran was rapidly progressing"

    There is a larger issue. Suppose Iran does have a program and it will take ten years. The best case is that the existing program, if it is nuclear, will exhaust those resources. This means that if there is a program, at some point Iran must have the ability to rely on external source to fill the gap.

    Bluntly, we find this no different than the Niger Yellow Cake. If we are to believe that the resources to complete the program are dwindling, then we would expect there to be another effort to seek external sources to fill in this gap. Again, we have no mention of this. Rather, the lap top is pointed to as a single source, but there is nothing within the data suggesting the technical program, if it exists, is credible in that it fails to ensure that the needed resources to continue that program are available.

    Thus, to suggest that the program is making great progress along a baseline that is 10 years away, but has insufficient resources within Iran to complete that effort is problematic: If there were other programs in place to fill in this gap, then there should be other evidence, communications with non-Iranian sources.

    Again, this is where the American’s argument falls down: If there truly was an Iranian program that was developing along a hypothetical 10 year timeframe, and the details were specific, then there should be a planning effort to acquire the needed material to cover this gap, and that effort should be independently confirmable. But we have nothing to corroborate what is in the laptop.

    This suggests that the laptop is a single-entity product, made with the objective of changing the debate from whether the US can be trusted, to something that paints the Iranians in a different light than what was used with Iraq. However, we have the same problem: Accusations by more people, but without the credible basis to suggest that the program in place, if it is real, is actually supported by other confirming data which should be openly available. Again, the Americans provide nothing other than the laptop. This is problematic, and tilts away from the Americans.

    Time – limitation of resources

  • "Iran did not have enough proven uranium reserves to fuel its nuclear power program beyond 2010."

    Time – resources – capability is not the same thing as intent

  • "it does have enough uranium, the report added, 'to give Iran a significant number of nuclear weapons.' "

    Let’s consider the broader public relations effort. America does have a major credibility problem. We also know that Bolton has already written a speech to Condemn the UN Security Council. This appears to be behind an effort to justify independent US Action.

    The problem is that, if we are to believe the reports that there is a 10 year program, but insufficient material to complete that program, then the threat is neither imminent nor credible. Indeed, the Iranians, when given specific requirements are cooperating.

    The problem the Americans have is that, given it appears their accusations are vague, we can only expect the Iranians response to be equally vague. We judge that the Americans objective is to make vague accusations with the intent of then shifting the argument, as they are doing with Syria, to whether the Iranians are or are not complying with these vague requirements. Again, the issue is that, if the program is real, the immediacy of the problem is an illusion. Thus, we judge that the timeline, as it was with Iraq, is driven more by the US political elections, and wholly unrelated to the actual develop program, if it exists, on the ground.

    Public Relations

  • "a secret part of an American campaign to increase international pressure on Iran"

    The Americans have been unsuccessful in getting public support. At this point, if there was a credible basis to believe that the threat was imminent, then we should have multiple reports, as Ambassador Wilson did not find with Iraq, that something else was going on to support this effort.

    We judge the current program in Iraq, if it exists, is on a different timeline, pace than what the laptop might suggest. We judge the laptop is designed more to accelerate the attention and keep the Iranians off balance, but not address the issue of: Why should we believe the Americans, and what information do they have that confirms what they are asserting. These are fundamental disconnects between the intelligence and policy making sections within the Joint Staff and National Security Council.

    Public relations: Consensus is not the same as evidence

  • " the American campaign helped produce a consensus" -- "although a fragile one"

    It remains unclear what evidence the world has that would explain why they believe Iran is or is not engaged in a program; and how the apparent resource limitations can be reconciled. If the world is truly concerned, then there would be subsequent communications. We have nothing. We judge the concern is not based on real intelligence but on the private briefings. It remains to be understood how the briefings differ from the information provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee. We believe that Congress will face American-fueled-external-pressure as a potential make or break point, but not an actual piece of evidence to suggest the threat from Iran is imminent.

    Public relations: Band wagon

  • "There is not a single country we deal with that does not believe Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon"

    We see little incentive for the Iranians to abandon something that appears to be far off in the future. The Americans have not provided any evidence that Iran is doing something that they should not; nor have the Iranians not provided the specific information when specifically asked. The case was no different than with Iraq. We are concerned that the tone of the translations and communiqués between Tehran and Washington will focus on the most inflammatory interpretations; and we believe that anything remotely indicating something which Washington can use to top the balance will get massive press coverage. We are not persuaded that this rapid-information-dissemination of the public communications will be balanced by an equally balanced disclosure of the other views or contradictory information which could undermine or discredit what Washington advocates.

    Public relations

  • the Bush administration's approach was one of "careful, quiet diplomacy designed to increase international pressure on Iran to do one thing: abandon its nuclear weapons designs and return to negotiations with European countries."

    We judge the warhead briefing to be speculative and the source of a single propaganda cell within the Pentagon, and the product is closely coordinated with the Joint Staff.

    Public relations – summary

  • "disseminate a shortened version of the secret warhead briefing"

    If we are to believe that the Iranian effort is real, then we should have many people coming forward on the record who can either confirm or provide other views. At this point, we have scant named sources which is problematic.

    Public relations – refusal to disclose

  • "felt uncomfortable sharing any classified intelligence with another ring of countries."

    It is striking that the presentations most tailored to an international audience do not include what are argued to be the most compelling arguments related to the nuclear program. Conversely, there are reported to be other photographs available in these briefings which are not included in the more private sessions. The disconnect is telling in that implies the briefings are not based on facts but on what would most likely tip the balance in favor of the pre-determined conclusions: To put Iran on the hot seat, and use their response as an excuse to put greater pressure.

    Public relations – includes new information

  • "43-page unclassified briefing includes no reference to the warhead documents, but uses commercial satellite photos and economic analysis to argue that Iran has no need for nuclear power and has long hidden its true ambitions."

    One problem the Americans have is that they assert that, given the lack of evidence, the limited number of sources implies something we should believe. The actual program could be real, but it is problematic to rely on a single instance, and then discount that on the basis of whether the information appears to be fraudulent.

    We have nothing before us to outline how this determination was made. However, more broadly, a single document in itself is not necessarily fraudulent or bonafide on its own merits, but has greater or lesser veracity when considered in light of the overall picture.

    In this case, some assert the document itself has no signs of fraud; but this conclusion fails to explain why, if the program is bonafide, why there are different conclusions about the imminence of the threat; why there is no external corroboration on who the resources will be obtained to support the effort; what external data should exist to support this effort; or why there are apparent efforts underway that cannot be confirmed conclusively with other methods.

    At this point, we have the opposite: A single instance of data is not credibly matched an linked with other confirming information. At best, the Americans throw out a single instance of something that may be unreal, but refuse to discuss in a comprehensive way the other lines of evidence that would either confirm or destroy the thesis.

    Thus, we judge that the personnel within the Joint Staff who are working on this propaganda effort have a poor legal and analytical method. They are under great pressure by the State Department to arrive at a conclusion; but their failure stems from their inability to coherently offer a bonafide picture of what may or may not be happening. This is not the fault of Tehran but the Joint Staff. Clearly, despite many years of training, they have failed to attract the requisite talent within their GS-12 ranks to coherently develop a program description that is supportable or believable.

    At this point, based on a cursory review of the information, we judge that this laptop is merely the first of many fabrications that will surface and are directly linked to the Joint Staff in the Pentagon.

    Denials – what basis was the denial issued

  • "But American officials insisted there was no evidence of such fraud."

    Most problematic is, like Iraq, the basis for the support for the conclusions in based on beliefs and denials, as if to imply that a denial of a belief is something to have credit. However, simply because someone repeats that they believe something, it doesn’t make it true, especially when the briefings fail to contain credible confirming evidence.

    At this point, all we have are vague indications, which are not better than the indications used to justify national security letters for visitors to Las Vegas. We judge the laptop, even if is bonafide, is problematic in that there are insufficient number of confirming data to warrant confidence in either the information, progress, planning, or technical details.


  • "they believed it reflected a concerted effort to develop a warhead"

    Repetition of seriousness

  • "'They've worked problems that you don't do unless you're very serious,' said a European arms official. 'This stuff is deadly serious.' "

    Concern: Imply a change from last

    We have questions about the specific person. We have no confidence the Senate Intelligence Committee will find the person, by name, who actually acquired this laptop, nor do they have the requisite talent on staff to evaluate the merits of this laptop.

    We judge the Congress and White House to be in poor positions to assert policy based on a single data point, especially given the lack of oversight and investigations in the wake of Iraq, 9-11, and Able Danger.

    Moreover, given the smearing against LtCol Schaeffer, Sibel Edmonds, Ambassador Wilson, and reporters discussing the alleged war crimes in Eastern Europe at the CIA detention centers, we judge the most likely source of this story is the office of special plans, and a continuing effort within the Joint Staff, National Security Council, and White House to embark on phase III of the PNAC plan.

    Bluntly, in the absence of an investigation into the Joint Intelligence Committees failure to review the intelligence problems, we categorize the entire lap top incident as wholly without foundation, lacking any serious consideration.

    Moreover, in the absence of any confirming evidence either for or against the conclusions, we judge the Joint Staff propaganda effort to be a degradation. At best, the propaganda effort should be outed for what it is: And there need to be some pointed questions to the Senior congressional leadership why they are continuing to not look into these recurring issues of credibility and veracity problems.

    It makes no sense to continue funding White House efforts when the fruits of that policy is merely to paint both Syria and Iran as rogue states.

    If Iran and Syria are in such a “dangerous position” with respect to threats, why weren’t they invaded before Iraq? We have no answer. It remains to be seen where this laptop actually came from, and how much money that particular entity has channeled through various political action committees into the RNC.

    If Iran was in a position to work along this timeline, then surely Americans would be willing to discuss the confirming information. But we don’t have that. We have more of the vague “We can’t talk about sources” non-sense. This is non-sense.

    Bolton and the NSC are proposing major sanctions and unilateral US action. If this were to be proposed, then we would hope that the Congressional leadership would seriously review the Iraq lessons and ask: “What is the rush?

    But given the apparent lack of confirming evidence, as was with Iraq, it appears the Congressional leadership is more likely to defer to the White House. But given the imploding public support, it appears the White House knows there could be doubts. Thus, we judge that the Joint Staff has incorporated this into their planning matrix, and it is the reason that there is so much emphasis on the foreign nation’s position: The goal is not to take action based on facts, but to use international pressure on the Congress to ignore the lessons of Iraq, and expedite action in Iran.

    We can only wonder why, given Bolton has already written a speech about the US unilateral action, why there is a vacuum of confirming information. We judge that the confirming details are fiction. The failure to timely provide immediate details is evidence the Joint Staff hasn’t thought through this part of the planning matrix.

    We judge the Joint staff and White House sources to have no credibility. The lack of details is problematic. The lack of additional details by other independent agencies undermines confidence in both the Joint Staff and White House. We see no evidence Congress is reviewing these matters, but is more interested in silencing those who may dare peep a question. This is absurd.

    Anonymous, vauge

  • "American officials, citing the need to protect their source, have largely refused to provide details of the origins of the laptop computer beyond saying that they obtained it in mid-2004 from a longtime contact in Iran"

    At every turn we have denials and refusals by the Americans to cooperate. More excuses for them not to provide details. Yet, with the Iranians apparently on a massive effort, there should be ample information which the Administration should love to share. But we have nothing. That is not acceptable, and this tilts away from the Joint Staff and White House.

    Refusal to discuss

  • "Robert G. Joseph, the under secretary of state for arms control and international security, who led the July briefing, declined to discuss any classified material "

    What is most absurd is that the Administration points to “many indicators” but fails to point out what these indicators are, or what the data is that either confirms or undermines how these indicators might be assessed. The lack of specificity is troubling and a sign that there is nothing here to confirm. If the White House were to be believed, then there would be specific indicators, and specific confirming evidence to make their case. At this point we have the opposite: Vagueness, and the appeal to ignorance. This is absurd.

    Vague indicators: What are the other indicators

  • "He called it one of many indicators "

    The problem the Administration has is that they’re refereeing the laptop, but they confirm that they’ve given many briefings without mentioning the laptop. What other information do they have that would support this; why isn’t in put in a single briefing; how many briefings have been given without mentioning the laptop; why aren’t the other briefings combined into a single place?

    At this point, the number of questions is at odds with a credible plan or program.

    There are almost 200 countries in the world; and the US is pointing to a coalition of many countries, but at most they’ve given 13 briefings without mentioning the laptop. This means that there have been meeting where multiple nations were present.

    It remains to be seen who was in attendance at these briefings; whether they were allowed to ask questions; what their qualifications were; and how the personnel who attend these briefings were screened by the White House and National Security Council, Joint Staff, or RNC.

    Limited discussion

  • "Bush administration, seeming to understand the depth of its credibility problem, is only talking about the laptop computer and its contents in secret briefings, more than a dozen so far"

    Supposedly, if there was a problem, the President should be discussing the issues. It appears as though the world is using the “lack of a comment” as proof of something. This argument has no merit; however, it does not mean the President isn’t aware what the Joint Staff is doing.

    Failure to discuss

  • "never publicly referred to the Iran documents"

    A failure to mention the issue is not confirmation.

    Decline to discuss

  • "R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, who has coordinated the Iran issue with the Europeans, also declined to discuss the intelligence"

    Here is the fundamental problem with the source: The information has not been given much weight, so why are we suggesting that a possible 10-year-program warrants new attention? No answer from the White House, National Security Council, or Joint Staff.

    Source: Failure

  • " . . . 'establish the veracity, consistency and authenticity of any intelligence, and share it with the country of concern.' In this case, he added, 'That has not happened.'"

    How convenient: The source of the information is no longer with us. That means nobody else can look into the details. This is not credible. Maybe the reason Santa Clause cannot be found is that Santa Clause is dead?

    Source: Vauge

  • "American officials have said little in their briefings about the origins of the laptop, other than that they obtained it in mid-2004 from a source in Iran who they said had received it from a second person, now believed to be dead"

    Source: Multiple explanations

  • "Foreign officials who have reviewed the intelligence speculate that the laptop was used by someone who worked in the Iranian nuclear program or stole information from it."

    The Joint Staff is very good at getting engineers to spew out non-sense. It doesn’t’ mean that the volume of data is reliable; nor that the people who actually churned out the document, if it is real or exists, were actually engineers. They could have been some people who simply copied and pasted efforts from corollary programs in other nations.

    Let’s consider how similar to the “laptop plan” is to the other countries efforts that are currently under American surveillance: Is there a striking similarity between what the Pakistanis, French, and Indians have done in their program to what the Iranians are doing?

    Surely, if there is a similarity, then we could ask to what extent the vast volume of intelligence data about these corollary weapons programs was simply adjusted to create the illusion of a new program in Iran.

    Source: Vague description, team – can be fabricated

  • "One senior arms expert said the material was so voluminous that it appeared to be the work of a team of engineers."

    According to the earlier reports, they could not pinpoint the specific person. So how can they say that the source who they claim is dead did not have contact with the resistance group?

    What was the motivation of someone turning over this computer? Where was it found?

    We have no idea. More questions, and things not adding up. This sounds just like what happened with Iraq.

    Source: Denial

  • "American intelligence officials insisted that it had not come from any Iranian resistance groups, whose claims about Iran's nuclear program have had a mixed record for accuracy."

    Now the questions: We have a laptop, but how were these “notations” made? You can’t write on a laptop, only a PDA. Just because someone is doing an experiment, we still have yet to reconcile their 10 year timeframe. And if there are experiments in a nation with limited resources for this effort, then they should have a predictable resource-use-rate, which implies that at some specified point in the future, they need to make a purchase. But we have nothing like this to confirm.

    In order to do an experiment, there must be plans: But it looks as though the Joint Staff doesn’t have the in-house experience to develop a new program; rather, they are relying on the memories of those who were part of the second and third generations of US nuclear weapons development.

    In other words, the people who are “assessing” this information could very well not know about their peers who are producing the document, and creating a program out of thin air, but relying on the historical record, not actual facts, when developing the appearance of a new program.

    Source: Progress

  • "But one American official said notations indicated that the Iranians had performed experiments. 'This wasn't just some theoretical exercise,' he said."

    There is nothing before us to indicate that this could not have been fabricated.

    Source: Could be fabricated

  • "Several intelligence experts said that a sophisticated Western spy agency could, in theory, have produced the contents of the laptop. "

    Again, the history of the source is that they cannot be located as they are dead. Thus, we judge assertion that this is the real thing to be an overstatement. Moreover, given that the experts are asserting this is real, but provide no corroborating information, we judge that any assertion that this is real to be without foundation.

    Source: Confident

  • "the nature and the history of the source has left everyone pretty confident that this is the real thing"

    Keep in mind, some are asserting that the source is specific known. Now we have other views to the opposite: that the source is unclear. Thus, previous statements that the report was real are out; and we also now know that there is poor confidence on how this document was actually obtained, from whom, or what their connections were.

    Source: Uncertainty

  • "But one nongovernment expert cautioned that the intelligence could simply represent the work of a faction in Iran. 'What we don't know is whether this is the uncoordinated effort of a particularly ambitious sector of the rocket program or is it, as some allege, a step-by-step effort to field a nuclear weapon within this decade,'

    The scope of technical details could easily have been gleaned from work done at Los Alamos or early US weapons development efforts, or from the bits and pieces the US knows about allied development efforts.

    There is nothing in the details to suggest that 2,000 feet is necessary. This implies that the US is relying on the nation of above-ground detonation. This is far more complicated that a simple impact.

    This is a leap in design and added complexity which the Iranians would not need to incorporate. If their program was true, then the first round of their testing would simply to weaponize the missile; there would be no need to make a complicated effort.

    Thus, if we are to believe that the program is 10 years, they are making it far too difficult. Thus, we judge that if the Iranians are working on a program, then they have added excessive complexity in their first generation missile. This makes no sense, and sounds more like the planning agency wants to create the illusion of technical sophistication, yet ignore the schedule and technical risks. This means that the probability of the program being real falls.

    Technical details

  • "One major revelation was work done on a sphere of detonators meant to ignite conventional explosives that, in turn, compress the radioactive fuel to start the nuclear chain reaction."

    The details within the description are at odds with how the actual program works. Missiles are no in a “fiery plunge” but they are simply spiraling toward the earth.

    This description implies something that is at odds with how missiles move through space: There is no oxygen, thus there is no fire.

    We judge the following description as being a visually-oriented detail designed to inflame the discussion and reduce analysis.

    If the argument were credible, the position of stability and accuracy would be separated. Stability is an important factor at all stages of the motor vehicle flight; while accuracy is something that can be adjusted.

    In order to put a missile over a target, and also have it explode at a specific altitude, would require two different sets of plans. The discussion before us does not suggest that there are parallel technical details in place to ensure stability, accuracy, and height parameters within the hypothetical program.

    Technical details

  • "The documents also wrestled with how to position a heavy ball - presumably of nuclear fuel - inside the warhead to ensure stability and accuracy during the fiery plunge toward a target."

    The specific way that the 2,000 foot is mentioned incorrectly asserts that because it is mentioned it cannot be something else. This is faulty.

    Moreover, given we are taking about “suggesting a nuclear weapon” implies that the document, as a single data point, is not clear. This is too vague. This implies that a likely fabricated document with questionable sourcing has an inherent uncertainty about what it is actually talking about.

    Please, if this were true, how did anyone assess what the laptop related to? We have no answer.

    Also, we see nothing before us to suggest that 2,000 explosion is feasible; or that its use implies that chemical, biological, or conventional are excluded. There are some types of bombs where an above-ground burst yields optimal destruction.

    Thus, we judge that the 2,000-foot comment is an illusory specific detail with the attempt to gain some sort of confidence; and then by excluding other factors or weapons, is a false way of arriving at the conclusion that this is a nuclear weapon.

    In other words, it appears the technical detail of 2,000 feet is a made-up number designed to exclude an arbitrary class of weapons; while at the same time creating the illusion of some analysis.

    But we already know from above that the nature of the report was vague, in that it was no t clear it was talking about nuclear weapons. Thus, we find the 2,000-foot-reference to be a false specific number; and most likely related to an effort to create some precision, and give later commentators the illusion of having done some analysis.

    This makes no sense.

    Technical detail

  • "And a bomb exploding at a height of about 2,000 feet, as envisioned by the documents, suggests a nuclear weapon, analysts said, since that altitude is unsuitable for conventional, chemical or biological arms."

    That the blast may have happened above a specific altitude may be real, but this implies a level of sophistication that is beyond a first generation missile.

    Also, given that the 2,000-foot number is mentioned again without specific reference to s specific weapon, it implies there’s ambiguity in the report about what they’re actually talking about. Yet, this is at odds with the later statements that everyone is in agreement – please, how can everyone agree that they were talking about something, when by later accounts there’s a question as to what they’re talking bout?

    Again, this makes no sense.


  • "documents specified a blast roughly 2,000 feet above a target - considered a prime altitude for a nuclear detonation"

    Keep in mind, if the Iranians are actually developing a weapon, they’re simply trying to make something that flies. But this added level of nose cone could easily have been fabricated as a false detail to create the illusion of something real.

    Again, the issues of “accuracy and stability” mentioned below in relation to the nose cone are at odds with the above description that the missile would or would not explode related to a specific altitude; and is at odds with the “fiery plunge” discussion.

    A fiery plunge is not a real description, and this description, if it is a bonafide assessment, is at odds with the nations of stability and accuracy.

    We judge that this technical detail is made up.

    Also, note that the “less payload” is at odds with the 2,000-foot and 10 year program. If the Iranians are on their first generation, they’re not going to worry about the size of the payload in terms of whether it is more or less than something; their goal is imply to make a nuclear weapon work.

    The details of nose cone, and feed above ground are not credible. If we had a real program, these would be factors in the second and third phases, not apart of the initial efforts to simply create a weapon that goes boom.

    We judge the discussion of these technical details as premature. It is far more likely that these are introduced because the Joint Staff cell wants to add some inflammatory technical details to something that is boring.

    Consider the fairly benign approach the US military took when it dropped the weapon over Japan: The goal, before the actually dropped the bomb, was to make it work. There was no discussion and plan until later of the details of the nosecone.

    If Iran is 10 years away from a nuclear weapon, then this means that they are 10 years too early in planning for something that would most likely change: Detonation technology, nose cone, and materials.

    Their goal, if the program is real, is to get a nuclear weapon to work; they don’t care at this point how the thing flies through space. Their goal is to get something to work; if the technical details add up, then they’ll start adding some complexity: Weaponize it, then put it atop a missile; then talk about modifications to the nose cone; then talk about above ground. This is not a one-off program, but one with many stages.

    We judge the laptop document to be not credible in that it introduces too many detailed technical complexities into a weapons system that has yet to have a proven weapon. The timing of these details is at odds with a development program. Rather, we should have some confirming information about other weapon efforts, but we have nothing.

    We judge the document to be a fabrication.

    Technical details: Other explanations

  • "Missile experts noted that such triconic nose cones have great range, accuracy and stability in flight, but less payload space. Therefore, experts say, they have typically been used to carry nuclear arms."

    The final nail in the coffin is the absurd argument that because something is complicated, this means that it must be true. Again, this is at odds with how a first generation weapon is developed. The goal of any country, if they are engaged in a first generation effort that is still 10 years away, is to make it simple, get it to work, and then add in complexity.

    At this juncture, we have no evidence they are close to their 10 year point. Thus, it is circular reasoning to suggest that the program, because it is complicate, is real. Rather, we should have anther confirming reports, efforts, and plans that show progress along a less technical baseline. Again, we have nothing other than a chorus of nations who are nodding their heads.

    Technical detail: Disconnect – incorrectly implying that details verify accuracy

  • " 'The most convincing evidence that the material is genuine is that the technical work is so detailed that it would be difficult to fabricate.' "


    This is a description of the band wagon effort, as we saw prior to Iraq. This is evidence the Joint Staff is at the beginning of the phase II of their effort.

  • "reports in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and other publications have revealed some details"

    Onion: revealing more details

    Again, the issue isn’t that they have more information, on that they’re talking about more information that is old, and apparently fabricated.

  • "in recent weeks, analysts and officials from six countries in Europe and Asia revealed a more extensive picture of the intelligence briefings"


    Things that are secret are also made up. Conversely, just because something is secret doesn’t mean it’s true.

    It would be helpful if we get some specific information about the relationship of these various personnel and identify which Joint Staff planning cell they have met with. There would be meeting minutes, and the DoD and CIA General Counsel would have attended these meetings.

  • "All who spoke did so on the condition of anonymity, saying they had pledged to keep the intelligence secret"

    The concerns with fraud have been discounted without looking at the whole issue.

  • "Officials said scientists at the American weapons labs, as well as foreign analysts, had examined the documents for signs of fraud."

    This is a sign of international pressure, not facts.

  • "urging other countries to consult with his French counterpart"

    Public relations: The change

    This is evidence of the herd mentality.

  • "'On Iraq we disagreed, and on Iran we completely agree,' a senior State Department official said. 'That gets attention.' "

    Are there other explanations

    This conclusion is at odds with the technical details and assessments of their progress. If they have trace materials related to a bomb, then there’s no reason to have a discussion about what may or may not be in the laptop report.

    But the details are supposedly conclusive, but the laptop report is vague. That makes no sense.

  • "agency inspectors discovered traces of uranium concentrated to the high levels necessary for a bomb"

    Vague questions

    Sounds like more of the vague, mysterious travel by people to Africa.

    They made up the story about Yellow Cake. It looks as though they’ve done the same with this.

  • "questions about what Iran had obtained from the atomic black market run by Abdul Qadeer Khan"

    * * *

    Update: 16 Jan 2006: [Crossposted]

    Great, we have evidence that documents were faked over Iraq, and some interesting reporting over who may have created the documents.

    Let's look at what's going on in 2006. What about the apparent forgery over the Iran issue? I'd like to see some more work in this area: Namely, apply the above analysis to the bogus laptop story with Iran.

    If you want to read about the forged documents over Iran, here are the details. Bluntly, despite this "big laptop story," we have yet to have NSA provide any evidence to the IAEA. Surprisingly, despite a laptop, nobody can figure out who bought this laptop, where it was used, or who else in the "Iranian program" may be linked to it. The lesson from Iraq and the Niger documents: If there's no link, there's no evidence -- just assertions. Yawn.

    Iran is looking alot like Iraq: Assertions by PNAC, plenty of fabricated evidence, and no credible basis for American concern. Iran is on an agenda, but there's no basis for that agenda.

    Time to scrap the PNAC agenda. Time to impeach the President. Let's get a special prosecutor to look at the NSA surveillance and the forged Nigerian and Iranian documents.