Friday, August 04, 2006

Albright gets public slapdown!(or The Tender Mercies of the NSC)

"If the intelligence community is like a family, then the National Security Council is the uncle no one talks much about. "
- from the movie "Conspiracy Theory"

So its finally come out into the open. The NPA David Albright who sits atop the Institute for Science and International Security wrote a rather long expose on the Pakistani plutonium enrichment plant at Khushab.

In the report he claimed that the Pakistani reactor at Khusab was capable of producing something in excess of 1000 MWth. In personal conversations with reporters, it seems that Ayatollah Albright had actually claimed that the reactor was capable of producing ~ 1400 MWth - and that apparently attracted the attention of the National Security Council.

It may be noted that a poster on a Non-Proliferation Jihadi blog, pointed out that there is no way that Albright could have calculated the output of the plant from the images alone, and that either Albright was wrong or he had inside help (from the US CIA). Some people felt that this public article by Albright would quite possibly have compromised a CIA source inside Pakistan and others in India thought that Albright had simply gone off the deep end. Either ways the the American NSC was not happy with the results.

Bringing to light the Khushab reactor and its Plutonium manufacturing capabilities would only focus adverse publicity on the China-Pakistan connection. This would upset the current US security regime which stresses turning a blind eye towards Chinese activity. So while David Albright charged ahead with scripting his own drama of an enraged China boosting Pakistani fissile material production to counter the US-India deal - the US-NSC watched in horror as its carefully scripted fiction of a reformed China that was playing along with international proliferation norms was ripped to shreds by a man that the NSC itself has propped up as an expert. I guess that is why the NSC decided to publicly slap Albright down. The slapdown will in my opinion have a salutary effect in the non-proliferation community. Despite all of Albright's bravado and talk of "President Bush's poor record on nuclear intelligence", Albright knows he cannot challenge the throne and if he does it will have only one consequence. His own friends in the Non-Proliferation community are now distancing themselves from his work.

I am reminded of a situation in the early 90s which a retired government official in India once brought to my attention. The US CIA in the 50s and 60s had fostered a range of Human Rights groups with the specific aim of conducting a psywar against the Soviet Union. These groups were tightly controlled by the agency throught appointments on their staff and control over the finances. These groups successfully mounted a media campaign that iconized the term "freedom" and "democracy" in Asia, Africa and South America. They made America the "guardian of freedom and democracy" and fools the world over bought into this fiction. By the early 90s the USSR fell and the need for these groups diminished. In time they were downsized and soon the groups began to work on a mercenary basis targetting anyone you wanted provided you could give them a donation.

This was a "globalization" of the ideal of "Human Rights". Over the years they began to hit at the US too, and so to keep their influence in check - their media access was carefully restricted. Gone now are the days when an expert from amnesty international or HRW is given airtime. Unless he is talking about Christians being slaughtered by Muslims, no one in the US media wants to hear what he has to say.

I would not use the word "diavowed", but I would say "disowned", that is how the NPA are going to feel soon.

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