Jeffrey Goldberg’s New War

by Brien Jackson

Personally, my favorite nugget in “Goldblog’s” interview with Bibi has nothing to do with the Israeli Prime Minister whatsoever. Rather, it’s this bit off seemingly off handed framing Goldberg inserts:

Both Israeli and American intelligence officials agree that Iran is moving forward in developing a nuclear-weapons capability.

Of course, that’s not true. American intelligence believes that “Tehran halted their nuclear weapons programs in 2003.” And Goldberg seems to let on to this a few sentences later:

American officials argue that Iran has not crossed the “technological threshold”; the director of national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, said recently that Israel and the U.S. are working with the same set of facts, but are interpreting it differently. “The Israelis are far more concerned about it, and they take more of a worst-case approach to these things from their point of view,” he said.

Of course, what Blair is saying, while putting it diplomatically, is that the Israelis are acting irrationally out of emotion (I’d quibble with the reasoning, but that’s best left for another post). What Goldberg wants you to infer is that Israel is the one interpreting the facts correctly, which is why he so casually misleads his readers with intonements about how American intelligence agrees that Iran is “moving forward in developing a nuclear-weapons capability.” The only way that’s true, based on what Goldberg goes on to lay out, is if Blair is telling the truth that Americans and Israelis have the same set of facts, and Israel is interpreting them correctly. Of course, misleading the public in the name of furthering a march to war is a game Goldberg is quite familiar with.

Not for nothing, it’s things like this that drove the Chas Freeman controversy. More than a few people have remarked on how bizarre it was the see the chairmanship of the NIC raised to such a high stakes position, but what people like Goldberg and Steven Rosen were afraid of was the possibility that Freeman’s “contrarian” realism might lead him to take a much more critical reading of intelligence vis-a-vis Iran, and would likely be unreceptive to the sort of irrational hyping Israel and the Israel lobby prefers, and is necessary to keep the drumbeat for war with Iran going. At this point, the real question is which American leader is going to be brave enough to accurately characterize the opinion of the American intelligence apparatus, and stop genuflecting to the myth of Iranian nuclear weapon development.

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