POLITICS: U.S. Intelligence Found Iran Nuke Document Was ForgedBy Gareth Porter*WASHINGTON, Dec 28 (IPS) - U.S. intelligence has concluded that the document published recently by the Times of London, which purportedly describes an Iranian plan to do experiments on what the newspaper described as a "neutron initiator" for an atomic weapon, is a fabrication, according to a former Central Intelligence Agency official.Philip Giraldi, who was a CIA counterterrorism official from 1976 to 1992, told IPS that intelligence sources say that the United States had nothing to do with forging the document, and that Israel is the primary suspect. The sources do not rule out a British role in the fabrication, however.The Times of London story published Dec. 14 did not identify the source of the document. But it quoted "an Asian intelligence source" - a term some news media have used for Israeli intelligence officials - as confirming that his government believes Iran was working on a neutron initiator as recently as 2007.The story of the purported Iranian document prompted a new round of expressions of U.S. and European support for tougher sanctions against Iran and reminders of Israel's threats to attack Iranian nuclear programme targets if diplomacy fails.
Stories like this remind me of many, many problems of modern policy and politics.
* Uncertainty. Even governments need to distrust sources, for disinformation is common.
* Tails wag the dog with information campaigns.
* It's often a good idea to ignore breaking stories and wait for weeks or months with the formation of an own opinion.
* Some parties are waging camapigns, using a salami slice tactic to erode opposition to their intent. Only interested parties with firm character and independent intent can provide a suitable counterforce.
* To be befriended with a power does not mean that it won't mislead you.
* Not all bad stories about the usual suspects are true.
* Don't trust papers, photos or videos. Everything that can be produced can be forged. You really need trustworthy agents to vet info - and I don't mean only intelligence officers. It's great intelligence collection to send personnel for international observer teams. Information and opinion multipliers (politicians, officials, journalists) need to build a reputation. The prospect of losing this reputation would need to be a personal loss of unacceptable proportions to them.
* Never ever even try to justify a war with "intelligence" reports, documents, photos or videos. The possibility of being fooled into mass killing is unacceptable.
* Forgeries need to be sanctioned. An attempt to fool another power into a war should be punished no less than an actual war of aggression. It should be a war crime and powers found guilty should be sanctioned harshly till the responsible individuals were adequately punished. That would be an ethical standard, of course. You would most often be unable to trust evidence about their guilt, after all.
The prevention of war is a honourable and important task of the national security agencies of states. This goes well beyond deterrence; it's also about suppressing warmongering as much as is legal in a free society.
Regrettably, many (most) people in national security-related jobs tend to have a political bias that makes it rather difficult to get involved in the political vicinity of usually leftist peace activists.