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Entries in David Sanger (10)


Iran Special: New York Times Notices Important Nuclear Story...Four Months Later

Because Washington still envisages that it can get Tehran to agree to its conditions --- a suspension of all 20% uranium enrichment, a shipping of the existing stock outside the country, and a halt to operations at Fordoo --- it gave the lead to David Sanger and James Risen for their article today.

Those clues to the politics and propaganda of the Obama Administration, rather than journalism on Iran's nuclear programme, is the real value of The New York Times coverage.

Even it is sometimes months late.

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Syria Feature: After Insurgent Victories, US Again Considers "Deeper Intervention" (Sanger/Schmitt)

David Sanger and Eric Schmitt write for The New York Times:

The Obama administration, hoping that the conflict in Syria has reached a turning point, is considering deeper intervention to help push President Bashar al-Assad from power, according to government officials involved in the discussions.

While no decisions have been made, the administration is considering several alternatives, including directly providing arms to some opposition fighters.

The most urgent decision, likely to come next week, is whether NATO should deploy surface-to-air missiles in Turkey, ostensibly to protect that country from Syrian missiles that could carry chemical weapons. The State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said Wednesday that the Patriot missile system would not be “for use beyond the Turkish border.”

But some strategists and administration officials believe that Syrian Air Force pilots might fear how else the missile batteries could be used. If so, they could be intimidated from bombing the northern Syrian border towns where the rebels control considerable territory. A NATO survey team is in Turkey, examining possible sites for the batteries.

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Iran Analysis: Assessing the Latest Nuclear Report --- Is There an "Imminent Threat"?

The Islamic Republic is slowly enhancing its nuclear weapons breakout potential. However, Iran remains years, not months away from having a workable nuclear arsenal if it were to choose to pursue that capability.

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Syria Analysis: Assessing a US Warning over Arms to the Insurgency

Some within the US Government are using their regular channel --- David Sanger of The New York Times --- to put out a warning over support of the Syria insurgency.

The key political question: is there a general view across the Administration, pointing to a policy of caution and even reversal in backing of the insurgency? Is it a signal to Turkey, which has been increasing its co-operation with opposition fighters, at least indirectly, through operations across the Syrian border? Or is this one faction within the US Government using Sanger to fight against another group which favours more US intervention?

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Iran Feature: Obama Ordered Cyber-Attacks on Tehran (Sanger)

From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.

Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet.

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Iran Analysis: Re-Assessing the Explosion at the Revolutionary Guards Base

On 12 November, an explosion at the Malard base of Iran's Revolutionary Guards killed between 17 and 37 people and damaged a number of buildings at the complex west of Tehran.

Questions immediately surfaced and have yet to be answered: what was the exact cause of the blast? Who, if anyone, was behind it? How significant was the effect on Iran's military programmes?

An article published by David Sanger and William Broad of The New York Times, "Explosion Seen as Big Setback to Iran's Missile Program", offers some clues. It needs to be read, however, not as investigative journalism but as an outlet for US and Israeli officials to put out both their assessments and their political manoeuvres around the event.

Those officials bring us no closer to the answer of whether Washington, West Jerusalem, or internal Iranian groups caused the explosion. You would not expect the sources to admit US-Israeli involvement, and the American officials settle for the line of "an accident".

What is significant, however, is the apparent conclusion of the officials that the blast was a serious blow to Iran's research and development of missiles, killing a senior commander overseeing the programme.

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Iran Analysis: The Week in "Objective" US Journalism --- War, War, Secret War, Future War, War

We are watching an international media which is captivated by the chatter about an Israeli attack on Tehran and about a supposedly doom-laden report on Iran's nuclear programme. Indeed, some in that media are on the point of irresponsibility stoking confrontation, even armed confrontation.

The number one culprit is David Sanger of The New York Times, who uses the exalted podium of a "Week in Review" piece to declare that War may be the only option, "The big hitch in...containment strategies is that they are completely useless if Iran ever slips a bomb, or even some of its newly minted uranium fuel, to a proxy — Hezbollah, Hamas or some other terrorist group — raising the problem of ascertaining a bomb’s return address."

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Iran, Sanctions, and War: The Obama Administration Spins Out of Control

Many may perceive the message in Thursday's New York Times article --- again, even though there is no evidence that the "senior Administration official" is presenting an agreed point of view --- as one advocating military action.

That's pretty stupid, given that others in the Administration --- like the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen --- have been trying to talk down the idea of military intervention and have been reminding the Israelis that the US Government is opposed to an airstrike on Iran.

It's not even a sensible political manoeuvre. The Ahmadinejad Government is likely to seize upon this as proof of America's hypocrisy --- they talk negotiations, but they mean conflict --- and unrelenting hostility towards the Iranian people. Rather than fold to the mounting economic pressure that the Administration official envisages, the Government and the Supreme Leader will use this further sign of the "enemy" to try and rally support to offset the economic difficulties.

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The Latest from Iran (28 October): Re-Playing the Election

2040 GMT: Sanctions Watch. The State Bank of India has directed its overseas branches to stop transactions with Iranian entities.

An internal circular issued last month by the bank, India’s largest, establishes that India has tacitly joined United Nations sanctions against Iran.

The directive was issued after Iranian entities attempted to break the bank’s firewall by using shell firms to purchase US dollars to finance their business.

1955 GMT: How Could We Forget? It was the 10th and last day of the Khamenei roadshow in Qom. Mehr said that the people of the city gave him a "huge and passionate" farewell. Fars echoes the story, but there are no pictures.

The Financial Times belatedly notices the trip, "Khamenei Pleads for Clerical Support in Qom".

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Pakistan: Stepping Up the Drone Killings (And How to Accept Them)

A curious --- and telling --- juxtaposition of stories this morning about the US use of drones for "targeted" killings in Pakistan.

The New York Times finally gets to the difficult question of relations between Washington and Islamabad, given that the US is taking out dozens of people on Pakistani soil, but notice how carefully it treads.

The opening paragraph makes clear that this is an operation --- implying, in my opinion, that it is a necessary operation --- against the "Taliban" and to prevent "possible terrorist attacks". Then, almost to forestall the response that might come from Islamabad, the story declares the "mounting frustration both in Afghanistan and the United States that Pakistan’s government has not been aggressive enough" in its approach.

And, while the article adds reassurances --- airstrikes that take out 50 people "are rare"; no US ground invasion imminent --- notice the caveat from US officials, which goes beyond any minor consideration of Pakistani opinion: "[This] could change...if Pakistan-based militants were successful in carrying out a terrorist attack on American soil."

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