Archive for the 'Jeffery Goldberg' Category


Nostradamus of WMDs

Published at the Express Tribune:

On November 4th The Atlantic published an article titled “The Ally from Hell” co-authored by Jeffrey Goldberg. In the article Pakistan is described as the “epicenter of gobal jihadism” and then the author goes into detail about the danger of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. He writes that Pakistan is paranoid about the US seizing its nuclear weapons, so much so that it constantly moves nuclear components and “mated” nuclear weapons in unprotected civilian vans through regular traffic. His wild unsubstantiated claims go on to reveal US operational plans to seize control of Pakistani nuclear weapons in the event of an “Islamic Coup” in the country. In which case US forces would enter Pakistan Hollywood style from helicopters, parachutes, running across the border etc and begin securing nuclear sites. A “disablement campaign” is also in place and it entails disabling the entire Pakistani nuclear arsenal. Under such a campaign the US would put into action the military’s 20th Support Command, whose teams will destroy nuclear weapons without causing an explosion. Another scenario involves US troops evacuating after disabling as many bombs as possible before nuclear bunkers would be targeted with missile strikes.

Such serious allegations without substantial evidence and only citing unnamed sources prompted me to conduct some research into the author’s background. Interestingly enough, one of Goldberg’s most notable pieces of work was a 2002 report for the New Yorker titled “The Great Terror”. There, Goldberg described the imminent threat posed to the US by Saddam Hussein. He detailed Hussein’s links with Al Qaeda and portrayed him as the evilest of all dictators who had weaponized a biological agent called aflatoxin. In an article for Slate magazine Goldberg wrote that aflatoxin does only one thing, it causes liver cancer especially in children. However, a 2004 report from Charles Duelfer, the Bush Administration’s chief weapons inspector in Iraq, stated that Iraqi scientists conducted experiments with aflatoxin, but determined that there was no evidence found linking these experiments with the development of biological weapons. Goldberg also wrote about Sadaam’s ability to make an atomic bomb within months of acquiring fissile material. His article concluded “the administration is planning today to launch what many people would undoubtedly call a short-sighted and inexcusable act of aggression. In five years however, I believe that the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality.” In 2008 he wrote an article on how he got Iraq wrong citing faulty intelligence which he claims is a universal phenomenon. For a person who writes on such serious topics, we should hope it is not Goldberg, himself, who suffers from faulty intelligence.

 With a proven track record of false claims regarding Iraq, how are we supposed to trust his newest allegations about Pakistan’s nuclear program? Like his previous articles on Iraq nameless sources apparently provided top secret information. Pakistan has stated many times that  nuclear weapons are kept “de-mated” where the warhead is kept separate from the delivery system thus placing their weapons in the realm of impossible to steal in any useful form. Pakistan also keeps in place a two-person control system and permissive action links (PALs) coded locks meant to prevent unauthorized arming or detonation of a nuclear weapon. Goldberg states that according to an unnamed ex defense official, it is not clear what the PAL process includes. Is it two people who would unlock the box around the warhead, or is it two people who launch the nuclear weapon once the warhead has been mated to the missile? A question which is ignored within the article is whether it would be wise for Pakistan to make information regarding the safety procedures of its nuclear weapons public. Perhaps this was omitted due to the obvious answer.

Before his career as a journalist in Washington DC, Goldberg served as a prison guard for the Israel armed forces. In his article for the Atlantic, he points out that the US gives Pakistan $2 billion a year. He states “so: the U.S. funds the ISI; the ISI funds the Haqqani network; and the Haqqani network kills American soldiers.” If claims like this get under Goldberg’s skin, he must get furious when he thinks about the annual $3 billion US aid to Israel. The US funds Israel, Israel occupies Palestine and kills Palestinians as well as US and Turkish civilians on a flotilla to deliver aid to Palestinians.

Goldberg’s article has a familiar whiff of the doomsday scenario presented by award winning journalist Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker where he claimed that joint US-Israeli teams are in place to dismantle Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. He wrote that in the summer of 2001 a nuclear component had gone missing in Pakistan. A team from the US was deployed but by the time they reached Dubai they learnt that the report was a false alarm. Another false claim made in the article was that India supposedly conducted raids in Pakistan to target terrorist cells! Seymour Hersh has been criticized for using unnamed sources in his articles; with some even suggesting that these sources are unreliable or just made up. It’s a shame when such prestigious magazines like the New Yorker and the Atlantic publish such fantasies. The readers rely on these magazines to provide them with factual based well researched insights about situations around the globe and not some dreamt up end of the world high stakes drama. Perhaps these magazines are trying to seem nonpartisan by printing articles from extreme ends of the spectrum. That is a dangerous precedent to set because it promotes ignorance and feeds off people’s paranoia.


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