industryterm:chemical and biological weapons


    Review: Judith Miller’s ‘The Story: A Reporter’s Journey’
    APRIL 7, 2015

    In late 2002 and through 2003, Judith Miller, an investigative reporter at The New York Times, wrote a series of articles about the presumed presence of chemical and biological weapons and possible nuclear matériel in Iraq. Critics thought the articles too bellicose and in lock step with the George W. Bush administration’s march to war. They all included careful qualifiers, but their overwhelming message was that Saddam Hussein posed a threat.

    Ms. Miller’s defense of her work then was straightforward: She reported what her sources told her. She has now written a book-length elaboration of that defense, “The Story: A Reporter’s Journey.” The defense is no better now than it was then.

    “The Story,” as anodyne a title as one could imagine, briefly sketches Ms. Miller’s early life before devoting itself to a more detailed description of her career. She came from a troubled home in Nevada and grew into an intrepid young woman who, she writes, liked adventure, sex and martinis.

    With very little experience, she joined the Washington bureau of The Times in 1977 as a reporter, a prized assignment, largely because the newspaper was facing a lawsuit accusing it of sex discrimination, she writes. The chapter describing this is titled “The New York Times, the Token.” She was very raw and her early work showed it. An editor told her she was sloppy and unprofessional. She learned professionalism fast enough that in 1983 she was posted to Cairo, one of the first women to head an international bureau for The Times.

    Correspondents in Cairo are typically charged with covering the whole of the Arab world, from West Africa to Iraq. Sometimes, non-Arab Iran is thrown in just for fun. This is an impossible if enthralling job and, in Ms. Miller’s telling, she fell hard for it. It was “thrilling” and “exhilarating,” she writes.

    Ms. Miller recounts longstanding friendships with, among others, King Hussein of Jordan, who failed in an attempt to teach her water-skiing.

    She was one of the earliest mainstream journalists to report on growing radicalization within Islam. She was also one of the earliest to report on the difficulties that could be imagined when the new radicals crossed paths with another emerging problem — the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This became a subject she would return to throughout her career.

    Ms. Miller devotes several chapters, by far the most given to any subject, to her coverage of Iraq. She had missed the first Persian Gulf war, she writes, stranded in Saudi Arabia. She fought hard to be included in coverage of the next one. The string of exclusive articles she produced before the Iraq war had the effect of buttressing the Bush administration’s case for invasion.

    She had built her career on access. She describes finding, cultivating and tending to powerfully situated sources. She writes that she did not, as some critics of her prewar reporting supposed, sit in her office and wait for the phone to ring. She pounded the pavement. And an ambitious reporter with the power, prestige and resources of a large news organization behind her can cover a lot of road.

    Opponents of the Iraq invasion and media critics of her reporting accused her of being a secret neoconservative thirsting for war. Whatever her actual politics, though, the agenda that comes through most strongly here is a desire to land on the front page. She rarely mentions an article she wrote without noting that it appeared on the front page or complaining that it did not.

    During the war, she writes, she was the sole reporter embedded with the military team charged with finding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. It failed, meaning so had she. Ms. Miller concedes that the Bush administration’s case for war was built largely on Iraq’s presumably ambitious weapons program. In describing what went wrong with one particular claim, she offers a defense that is repeated throughout the book: “The earlier stories had been wrong because the initial intelligence assessments we reported were themselves mistaken — not lies or exaggerations.”

    The New York Times fired her for being wrong. So, why are you giving gravitas to her “mea non culpa” book? She was wrong then.
    Ms. Miller’s main defense is that the experts she relied upon — intelligence officials, weapons experts, members of the Bush administration and others — were wrong about Mr. Hussein’s weapons. She acknowledges being wrong but not making any mistakes. She quotes herself telling another reporter: “If your sources were wrong, you are wrong.” This is where she gets stuck.

    Journalists, especially those who have a talent for investigative work, are taught early to write big, to push the story as far as possible. Be careful; nail the facts; be fair, but push hard. Nobody pushed harder than Ms. Miller. In this case, she wound up implicitly pushing for war.

    A deeper critique of her own reporting, and through that example a critique of the entire enterprise of investigative reporting, would examine its inherently prosecutorial nature. Investigators — journalistic or otherwise — are constantly trying to build a case, to make things fit even when they don’t obviously do so. In the process, the rough edges of the world can be whittled away, nuance can become muddled in the reporter’s head, in the writing, or in the editing.

    The final section of “The Story” deals with Ms. Miller’s role in the Valerie Plame affair, her refusal to identify a source (for an article she never wrote), her jailing because of that refusal, and finally her forced resignation from The Times in 2005. As she describes it, she wasn’t simply abandoned but thrown overboard. This seems partly because of politics and institutional embarrassment, but also partly because of her personality. Almost every investigative reporter is in some way difficult to deal with. Ms. Miller was no exception. She offended colleagues on the way up, she says, and they delighted in her failure when she fell down.

    To Ms. Miller’s credit, this is not a score-settling book, although Bill Keller, the executive editor who she says forced her out of The Times, gets walked around the block naked a couple of times and competing reporters receive just-for-old-times’-sake elbows to their rib cages.

    That doesn’t mean she has made peace with the end of her career at The Times. It was a devastating exile for a proud and influential reporter. Cast out of the journalistic temple, she says she felt “stateless,” and from the evidence here she remains a bit lost. This sad and flawed book won’t help her be found.

    A Reporter’s Journey
    By Judith Miller
    381 pages. Simon & Schuster. $27.

    Terry McDermott, a former national correspondent for The Los Angeles Times, is the author, with Josh Meyer, of “The Hunt for KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”❞

  • The Secret of Israeli Chemical Weapons | “Before our eyes”

    The Secret of Israeli Chemical Weapons
    by Thierry Meyssan

    Israeli research on chemical and biological weapons historically pushed Syria to reject the treaty banning chemical weapons. That is why the signing of this document by Damascus runs the risk of highlighting the existence and possibly the continuation of research on weapons designed to kill only Arabs.

  • CIA document from 1983 indicates Israel built chemical weapons stockpile -
    Haaretz, Sep. 10, 2013

    A newly discovered CIA document indicates that Israel likely built up its own chemical weapons arsenal.

    Intelligence circles in Washington believe that Israel amassed a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons decades ago to complement its alleged nuclear arsenal, Foreign Policy reported Monday on its website.

    Information about Israel’s chemical weapons production appears in a secret 1983 CIA intelligence estimate obtained by Foreign Policy.

    American spy satellites in 1982 uncovered “a probable CW (chemical weapon) nerve agent production facility and a storage facility… at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert,” the CIA document reported. “Other CW production is believed to exist within a well-developed Israeli chemical industry.

    “While we cannot confirm whether the Israelis possess lethal chemical agents, several indicators lead us to believe that they have available to them at least persistent and nonpersistent nerve agents, a mustard agent, and several riot-control agents, marched with suitable delivery systems.”

    It is not known whether Israel still maintains the chemical weapons, according to Foreign Policy.

    In 1992, the Israeli government signed but never ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans such weapons.

    The report, which was declassified in 2009, mostly deals with allegations of Soviet use of chemical and biological weapons in Afghanistan and Southeast Asia. Sections on the Middle East were largely deleted by government censors.

    The document has come to light as the Syrian government has accepted a Russian proposal to put its chemical weapons under international control to avoid a possible U.S. military strike.

  • Exclusive: Does Israel Have Chemical Weapons Too? - By Matthew M. Aid | Foreign Policy

    A newly discovered CIA document indicates that Israel likely built up a chemical arsenal of its own.


    Reports have circulated in arms control circles for almost 20 years that Israel secretly manufactured a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons to complement its nuclear arsenal. Much of the attention has been focused on the research and development work being conducted at the Israeli government’s secretive Israel Institute for Biological Research at Ness Ziona, located 20 kilometers south of Tel Aviv.

    But little, if any, hard evidence has ever been published to indicate that Israel possesses a stockpile of chemical or biological weapons. This secret 1983 CIA intelligence estimate may be the strongest indication yet.

    • But what makes the single page found at the Reagan Library so explosive is that it contains the complete and unredacted portion of the intelligence estimate that details what the CIA thought it knew back in 1983 about Israel’s work on chemical weapons, which the CIA’s censors had carefully excised from the version released to the National Archives in 2009.
      The estimate shows that in 1983 the CIA had hard evidence that Israel possessed a chemical weapons stockpile of indeterminate size, including, according to the report, “persistent and non-persistent nerve agents.” The persistent nerve agent referred to in the document is not known, but the non-persistent nerve agent in question was almost certainly sarin.
      But the CIA assessment suggests that the Israelis accelerated their research and development work on chemical weapons following the end of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. According to the report, U.S. intelligence detected “possible tests” of Israeli chemical weapons in January 1976, which, again, almost certainly took place somewhere in the Negev Desert. A former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer whom I interviewed recalled that at about this time, the National Security Agency captured communications showing that Israeli air force fighter-bombers operating from Hatzerim Air Base outside the city of Beersheba in southern Israel had been detected conducting simulated low-level chemical weapons delivery missions at a bombing range in the Negev Desert.
      (…)To complicate things further, in January 1976 the long-simmering civil war in Lebanon was beginning to heat up. And the CIA was increasingly concerned about the growing volume of evidence, much of it coming from human intelligence sources inside Israel, indicating that the Israeli nuclear weapons stockpile was growing both in size and raw megatonnage. At the same time that all this was happening, the Israeli “chemical weapons” test mentioned in CIA document occurred. It increased the already-heightened level of concern within the U.S. intelligence community about what the Israelis were up to.
      At some point in late 1982, as the Reagan administration strove with minimal success to get the Israeli government to withdraw its forces from Lebanon, American spy satellites discovered what the 1983 CIA intelligence described as “a probable CW nerve agent production facility and a storage facility ... at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert.”

      The CIA report, however, provides no further elucidation about the size or production capacity of the newly discovered Israeli nerve agent production facility near Dimona, or even where the so-called “Dimona Sensitive Storage Area” was located.

      At my request, a friend of mine who retired years ago from the U.S. intelligence community began systematically scanning the available cache of commercial satellite imagery found on the Google Maps website, looking for the mysterious and elusive Israeli nerve agent production facility and weapons storage bunker complex near the city of Dimona where Israel stores its stockpile of chemical weapons.

      It took a little while, but the imagery search found what I believe is the location of the Israeli nerve agent production facility and its associated chemical weapons storage area in a desolate and virtually uninhabited area of the Negev Desert just east of the village of al-Kilab, which is only 10 miles west of the outskirts of the city of Dimona. The satellite imagery shows that the heavily protected weapons storage area at al-Kilab currently consists of almost 50 buried bunkers surrounded by a double barbed-wire-topped fence and facilities for a large permanent security force. I believe this extensive bunker complex is the location of what the 1983 CIA intelligence estimate referred to as the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area.

      If you drive two miles to the northeast past the weapons storage area, the satellite imagery shows that you run into another heavily guarded complex of about 40 or 50 acres. Surrounded again by a double chain-link fence topped with barbed wire, the complex appears to consist of an administrative and support area on the western side of facility. The eastern side of the base, which is surrounded by its own security fence, appears to consist of three large storage bunkers and a buried production and/or maintenance facility. Although not confirmed, the author believes that this may, in fact, be the location of the Israeli nerve agent production facility mentioned in the 1983 CIA report.

  • John Kerry droit dans ses bottes en 2002 : The Democrats and Weapons of Mass Destruction

    JOHN KERRY: “Why is Saddam Hussein attempting to develop nuclear weapons when most nations don’t even try? … According to intelligence, Iraq has chemical and biological weapons … Iraq is developing unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents…” (Oct. 9, 2002)

    • Kerry’s Judgement Questioned Because of Pro-War Vote

      Professor of politics and chair of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, Zunes said today: “John Kerry’s attacks on the International Court of Justice, his defense of Israeli occupation policies and human rights violations, and his support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq raise serious questions about his commitment to international law and treaty obligations. His false claims of Iraqi ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and his repeated denial of human rights abuses by allied government well-documented by reputable monitoring groups raise serious questions about his credibility. …