Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 16, 2012

Richard Silverstein Has Been Had - Again

Back in November we discussed an implausible story about an allegedly lost drone and explosions in south Lebanon some secret Israeli "impeccable source" had fed to Richard Silverstein who published it at his blog Tikun Olam.

We concluded:

Israel's secret services are known for launching, often false, stories in foreign media. Such "foreign" stories then can be quoted by the Israeli media. These are usually stories that are somewhat military relevant and would otherwise not pass the military censors who sit in every Israeli news room. Despite being launched in foreign media such stories are made up and put out for the domestic Israeli public for self serving and/or political reasons.

It seems to me that Richard was in this case (ab-)used by someone for such a purpose.

On August 15 Richard published another rather implausible story under the headline Bibi’s Secret War Plan:

In the past few days, I received an Israeli briefing document outlining Israel’s war plans against Iran. The document was passed to me by a high-level Israeli source who received it from an IDF officer.

Richard translated parts of the "war plan" fed to him:

A barrage of tens of ballistic missiles would be launched from Israel toward Iran. 300km ballistic missiles would be launched from Israeli submarines in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf. The missiles would not be armed with unconventional warheads [WMD], but rather with high-explosive ordnance equipped with reinforced tips designed specially to penetrate hardened targets.

The missiles will strike their targets—some exploding above ground like those striking the nuclear reactor at Arak–which is intended to produce plutonium and tritium—and the nearby heavy water production facility; the nuclear fuel production facilities at Isfahan and facilities for enriching uranium-hexaflouride.

A barrage of hundreds of cruise missiles will pound [Iranian] command and control systems, research and development facilities, and the residences of senior personnel in the nuclear and missile development apparatus. Intelligence gathered over years will be utilized to completely decapitate Iran’s professional and command ranks in these fields.

To anyone with a bit of military knowledge the scenario is totally implausible. Israel simply does not have the capacity to fire "a barrage of hundreds of cruise missiles". Despite that implausibility the BBC picked up on these plans to commit war crimes that Richard Silverstein published:

Richard Silverstein, an American journalist and blogger on Israeli affairs, says he has been given a leaked document which outlines a plan for an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

He describes the document as a briefing memo that is being used by Prime Minister Netanyahu to show ministers that an attack on Iran would go "smoothly" and wipe out key infrastructure with a minimum of Israeli casualties.

But it turns out that Richard isn't the first to publish the "briefing memo that is being used by Prime Minister Netanyahu".

That "briefing memo" was published in Hebrew on August 11, four day's before Richard's post, at the Israel bulletin board Fresh as a thread in the military and security forum of that bulletin board. It was posted by  "Nettle", the moderator of that forum and is headlined (google translation) Iran attack - "What if ...?" The optimistic scenario": It starts with this remark:

The document presented here is written by an old friend of the forum who prefers to remain anonymous and identity. All information presented is based on the open foreign sources only.

Further down it continues with what seems to be the same content that Richard's "impeccable source" gave him (google translation):

Barrage of dozens of ballistic missiles from Israel to Iran shot. Missiles are equipped with non-conventional warhead - but charged warheads and explosives specially ruggedized bow, designed to penetrate hardened targets deep in particular.
Missiles hitting their target - some above ground, such as Arak nuclear reactor designed to produce plutonium and tritium, production facility next to the heavy water, the production facilities of nuclear fuel conversion facilities Baisfahn gas and uranium Hksaflurid.
The hundreds of cruise missiles adequate command and control systems, facilities development and research institutes, and even in residential buildings and villas surrounded by lush greenery of senior officials in the nuclear and missile development of Iran. For years, collected intelligence manifested almost complete decapitation of professional ranks and command of Iran in these areas.

So it turns out that "Bibi's secret war plan" for committing war crimes that Richard published is very similar to the "optimistic scenario" published on the Israeli bulletin board four days earlier.

It seems obvious to me that Richard has been had again by his "impeccable source". Said differently his source is (ab-)using him for the continuing Netanyahoo campaign in which Israel, because it can not do this on its own, is pressing the U.S. to bombing Iran's civilian nuclear program. This by threatening to otherwise do what it can not do on its own: bombing Iran's civilian nuclear program.

But like in November when we scrutinized the implausible story Richard was fed about explosions in south Lebanon Richard can not admit that he was fed bullshit. In a new post he tries to rationalize what happened:

About a week ago, I received the document from a known and trusted source who is, as I’ve often said here, a former Israeli government minister. It was in turn leaked to him by an IDF officer.

Unbeknowst to my source, the original IDF leaker also gave the document to a member of the Fresh forum, an Israeli gossip and politics forum. That Fresh member wrote a largely fictional account that included very limited portions of the actual document which I published in full.

Ahh - no. Indeed the post at the Fresh forum is pretty much completely the same text that Richard translated and published at his blog. Check the links above and see for yourself.

Some military propaganda buff wrote up a fictional (and very unrealistic) "optimistic scenario" of an Israeli attack on Iran and published it for amateur discussion purpose on a Hebrew mil forum. That was picked  up, edited slightly and fed to Richard Silverstein as part of the Netanyahoo blackmail campaign. Richard then translated it into English and published it as a "briefing memo that is being used by Prime Minister Netanyahu". This then got picked up by the BBC and the Israeli Ynetnews (google translation). It thereby fulfills exactly the purpose I described last November:

Israel's secret services are known for launching, often false, stories in foreign media. Such "foreign" stories then can be quoted by the Israeli media. ... Despite being launched in foreign media such stories are made up and put out for the domestic Israeli public for self serving and/or political reasons.

Everyone is of course free to believe Richard's version of the story, that the text is indeed something relevant and original coming from the IDF or from Netanyahoo's office and that whoever leaked the text to him didn't pick it up from the Fresh forum but from a more reputable source. Everyone is of course free to believe that this leak to Richard has some different purpose than to spread Netanyahoo's propaganda message.

Everyone is of course also free to believe that the world is flat.

Posted by b on August 16, 2012 at 8:40 UTC | Permalink


The "leaks" published by Richard Silverstein is a classic Mossad propaganda hit piece..All the scenario he's mentioned is based on some warped logic that Iran's defenceless and weak..

Lets put things in perspective here..The much touted IDF couldn't handle Hezbollah in 2006..In fact, they failed to break Hezbollah's command and control structure during the war and there's news about Hezbollah listening in on IDF communication with frontlines commanders.

Israel cannot survive a war for more than two months..Mind you, most Israelis carry dual nationality and their only attachment to Israel is the Jewish utopia of "eretz Israel" - which is more of a pipe dream than reality. They'll leave when the bombs and missiles start raining on Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ashkelon etc. etc.

Posted by: Zico | Aug 16 2012 10:04 utc | 1

IDF sources are usually pathetic propaganda bulls**t. The IDF itself is a joke.

Posted by: pewpewlazergun | Aug 16 2012 10:26 utc | 2

off topic: Julian Assange has been granted asylum in ecuador!

UK regime threats to send its jackbooted terror troops into the embassy didnt help their cause

UK regime, horrified by the ruling and feeling its threats to raid the embassy of ecuador have embarrassed it world wide , scurry to their masters: the americans, for further advice on what to do now

Posted by: brian | Aug 16 2012 13:15 utc | 3

Slightly off-topic, an old lie about Iran is now resurfacing in a Foreign Policy piece by Jeffrey Lewis

"In the past few years, the IAEA has been interested in some explosives work carried out with the assistance of a former Soviet nuclear weapons scientist. His specialty was making the conventional explosives that perfectly compress a sphere of plutonium or highly enriched uranium at the heart of a bomb. After the fall of the Soviet Union, this scientist took the same process for compressing plutonium and applied it to making nanodiamonds"

As b has pointed out, Vyacheslav Danilenko worked on nanodiamonds since 1962, and there's no evidence that he was ever a "nuclear weapons scientist".

Posted by: pmr9 | Aug 16 2012 15:06 utc | 4

Interesting stuff. It does appear that Richard Silverstein is being used, with the Lebanon trojan drone story establishing a pattern. Of course this is one of the difficult things about journalism. If you hear some classified information from a source inside a military you have no way of backing it up or checking if the information is correct. You just have to publish if you judge it legitimate or bury it if you think it is fake. Also you have to contend with shifting agendas and a very advanced media manipulation campaign like the one the Israeli military uses.

While B's above conclusions seem the most likely (that the source Silverstein used was feeding him Netanyahu propaganda). It could be a case that one person involved in the briefing leaked it on Fresh forum and another leaked it to Silverstein. The Israeli military after all does not want any war because they know they will get their asses kicked. There have been many military figures leaking stuff to the press (whether out of genuine concern or to scare the US into doing it for them).

It's possible there were two leakers. But greater likelihood that B's conclusion is correct.

@ pmr9

Jeez this is like the Iraq campaign leading up to 2003. Recycling information already shown to be false. It's like the Yellowcake from Niger story all over again.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Aug 16 2012 16:01 utc | 5

re: Assange -- Political asylum is great, but I'd wager that something "funny" will happen somewhere between the embassy in London and Ecuadoran soil. Even if he can get out of England, that's a long plane or boat ride with the US military and intelligence agencies watching him the entire trip.

Posted by: Kanzanian | Aug 16 2012 16:44 utc | 6

The now repeated Iran attack plan propaganda leaks through the western MSM propaganda outlets like CNN, BBC, NYT, WP, HP, etc. is becoming exhausted and ineffective more than ever before, resulting in reducing effectiveness and credibility of this media outlets, this has, is and will be dangerously damaging the western security structure if it’s repeated use becomes careless and abused.

Due to repeated carless abuse of the MSM to spread state propaganda on Iran or other international issues, it should be understandable that the state PR agencies look for other more credible persons and venues to be used as the source first, before it gets echoed by the MSM.

Nothing new here, just standard exhaustion of credit to the limit, once one’s credibility reaches to a limit one would need to stop spending or using/abusing the remaining credibility or move to use other creditable sources, much like current economic condition for any citizen with lots of debt on their credit cards.

Posted by: kooshy | Aug 16 2012 17:53 utc | 7

Jeez this is like the Iraq campaign leading up to 2003. Recycling information already shown to be false. It's like the Yellowcake from Niger story all over again.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | 5

To me it's almost worse than the run up to the Iraq Invasion. Back in 2002-3, NPR here in the US was airing many more reports which indicated clearly that Bush/Cheney were either lying, stretching the truth, or misleading the public by ignoring the proven information which undercut their desire to achieve war and Iraq's "regime change."

When I listened to Colin Powell address the UN asserting that Iraq provably had nuke, chem and bio WMDs, I knew that every point he made, except for two of them, had been shown to be either misinterpretations or lies. The two points I couldn't refute then and there (I was driving across Ohio on I-80) were refuted the next day by people who noted that the translation of an Iraqi warehouse manager's words was clearly incorrect and the man did not say what Powell thought/was told he said. I can't recall the other refutation, but it was clearly more in touch with reality than Powell.

I had learned most of what I knew about {Powell's presentation by reading newspapers, even watching TV news, which did have more inforamtion back then, and from listening to NPR, along with my recent access to the internet for personal use.

It was a very different media and information world back then. Now, most of the bad types of radio, TV, and written reporting have taken over. Back in 2002-3, a very busy person could still pick up lots of reality reporting; now, not so much.

I am so glad we still have realtively unfettered internet access (and thank b so very much) -- and I fear what our governments and corporate overlords have in mind for controlling information on the web.

IIRC, the BBC also was much more skpetical and was airing reports which undercut Blair's attempts to make the war sound so frightfully "necessary."

Posted by: jawbone | Aug 16 2012 18:39 utc | 8

Powells' chief intelligence aide, Greg Theilmann, resigned, I believe the day before the speech, or perhaps the day after, publically calling him out on his willfully told lies.

Posted by: amspirnational | Aug 16 2012 18:45 utc | 9

amspirnational |@ 9 -- If I knew about that resignation, I've forgotten. So I'll google the guy and try to see what was reported back then. Thanks for the info.

Posted by: jawbone | Aug 16 2012 19:31 utc | 10

jawbone, you are right.
The BBC however, is a special and particularly nasty case. Its leadership was dismantled through the Hutton report into the David Kelly "suicide". In effect Blair and his ilk used BBC's relative honesty against it. Their instrument, whitewashing the war criminals and blaming the BBC, was an Ulster judge who knew all about the superior claims of the intelligence services over justice and other such commie anachronisms.
You can now look forward to even further deterioration of your media as the man Blair put at the top of the BBC to shepherd it towards full blooded zionism, Thompson, has now been appointed to run the NYTimes. Watch this man, who refused to allow the BBC to air an appeal for Gaza's children in 2009, do the limbo: you will be surprised at how low he goes.
When he's done there a job surely awaits at The Guardian.

Posted by: bevin | Aug 17 2012 0:40 utc | 11

bevin, I've been struck by how much of the midnight-5AM (on NYC stations) BBC programming is taken up with chatty discussions about news reports. There's so much less actual news reporting now. Budget effects? With so many reporters cut, they have to fill air time somehow, right?

And, they have to suck up to Cameron's people to keep their now diminished monies.


Posted by: jawbone | Aug 17 2012 3:38 utc | 12

Noirette @ 32 (previous thread) says, "The "you" would be the nominal anti-interventionist site who has a hidden agenda in propagandizing for the removal of the targeted regime. It would be the corralling of consent to a subsection of the population who might be a deterrent to carrying out that policy. IMO Democracy Now! is a perfect example of this technique."

I agree with your whole gist in this and your previous longer post; Amy Goodman is the gate-keeper par excellence - of that there is no doubt. But I'm thinkin', hasn't the American polity so degenerated beyond the point of even requiring "the corralling of consent to a subsection of the population who might be a deterrent to carrying out that policy". Not that the manufacture of consent does not continue to go on unabated; it's just that it has reached such absurd proportions (as in the nicely named "hyper-memes" of your previous post, of which the al-Qaida avatar is another prominent one), and millions and even tens of millions of US citizens see right through it [the Third World never bought that shit in the first place], but it seems that the Borg has taken over so completely, like some resident evil virus, that the situation is just beyond all that. Just thinkin' out loud.

And I think that if there is substance to what I am musing about, there is a clue to the problem in your excellent observation where you make the distinction between an abstract critique and a principled *commitment*: "He [Anger] is a US U professor, with tenure, which typically affords speech of the outraged type, but not *any kind* of political commitment or even vague stance." Excellent.

Whenever I engage in dialogue with my fellow Iranian so-called "Greens", which is not very often, alhamdullah, I whisper in their deaf ears that it is not so much that your candidate simply lost the election and that yours is simply a case of sour grapes, but that "democracy", *participatory* democracy, that is, is about participation, which is about [an ideological i.e. religious (in the broad sense of the word)] *commitment*. We (I whisper) are committed to our cause to the extent that we gather every Friday, without fail, for group worship and prayer, and on Thursday nights too. We gave hundreds of martyrs in the lead up to the triumph of the revolution. What did *you* give? What is your collective commitment, other than to [enter the liberal meme of choice, each of which will be different for each of the multiple personalities of each liberal]? It is not the *number* of votes and voters, when all is said and done, so much as the collective commitment of a group of individuals, I conclude for the benefit of my deaf audience, some of whom are slow of wit as well.

And so, the point of this post, I guess, is to point out to the good people of this site, that there is a group of *committed* individuals (the 1% of the 1%) that you are up against (and we in Iran are up against also - our common enemy), and unless you can get a level of commitment on a par with their evil (which you will never be able to do absent God), then you are, I am sorry to have to say, in a similar position to the "Greenies".

As Aristotle would have formulated it: Without commitment, all is lost; the Left is incapable of commitment; therefore, the Left is lost.

Posted by: Unknown Unknowns | Aug 17 2012 4:22 utc | 13

b, that closing shot at Friedman was uncalled for. It's deserved, but it just doesn't follow from the rest of your fine reporting. (wink)

Posted by: scottindallas | Aug 17 2012 13:53 utc | 14

Re: Cameron's government's threat to invade the Ecuador embassy to seize Assange, Ian Welsh linked to this site which describes Pinochet's torture techniques, which involved rape in many forms.

The Report of the National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture was commissioned in 2003 to create the most comprehensive list possible of those who were imprisoned and tortured for political reasons during the military dictatorship from September 1973 to March 1990. This mandate was vastly different from that of the first Chilean truth commission, The Rettig Report of 1991, which enumerated solely those who had been disappeared or murdered.

Published in 2005, the report greatly expanded on the official version of the extent of repression in Chile. The Commission took testimony from 35,868 individuals who were tortured or imprisoned improperly. Of those, 27,255 were verified and included. An unknown number of victims did not come forward to give testimony. Scholars estimate that the real number is between 150,000 and 300,000 victims.

94 per cent of the verified testimonies include incidents of torture. The short list of methods includes repeated kicking or hitting, intentional physical scarring, forcing victims to maintain certain positions, electric shocks to sensitive areas, threats, mock execution, humiliation, forced nudity, sexual assault, witnessing the torture or execution of others, forced Russian roulette, asphyxiation, and imprisonment in inhumane conditions. There are many individuals with permanently distorted limbs or other disfigurations. For others, the memory of the humiliation is what remains. One man testified, “While they interrogated me, they took off my clothes and attached electrodes to my chest and testicles…They put something in my mouth so that I wouldn’t bite my tongue while they shocked me.”

For women, it was an especially violent experience. The commission reports that nearly every female prisoner was the victim of repeated rape. The perpetration of this crime took many forms, from military men raping women themselves to the use of foreign objects on victims. Numerous women (and men) report spiders or live rats being implanted into their orifices. One woman wrote, “I was raped and sexually assaulted with trained dogs and with live rats. They forced me to have sex with my father and brother who were also detained. I also had to listen to my father and brother being tortured.” Her experiences were mirrored by those of many other women who told their stories to the commission.

In line with the current fad for Western governments to hold the powerful to little or no account for their actions, the British government refused to extradite Pinochet, as Ian notes in his brief, biting, and bitter post: Pinochet Had Women Raped by Dogs and Britain Wouldn’t Extradite Him.

(Via">Susie Madrak.)

Posted by: jawbone | Aug 17 2012 13:56 utc | 15

On the Silverstein issue the managers of the forum published this

Since we can't read minds, we can only guess whether Silverstein source actually exist, and whether the source was informed on this "attack plan". What we don't need to speculate about, is the fact the first publication of the said document (in a different version, which defined it as "an optimistic scenario for an attack in Iran" and clearly stated that it was based on foreign and non-classified sources and on the author's own imagination) - was published four days before Silverstein's publication, right here, on this website, in the Army and Security Forum, as a thread which was started by the forum's moderator, Sirpad, on behalf of one of the forum's most veteran and respected users, who was the original author of the document (yes, he and non-other).

It is definitely an amateur "plan" and those who have published about it as if it is real are just nuts.

Richard has only himself to blame to fall for such a scheme. His credibility is now below zero. All the good work he did, and he did some, is now forgotten and the next time he publishes something good no one will care.

Well, I have warned him about his "source" multiple times. He didn't listen.

Posted by: b | Aug 17 2012 17:29 utc | 16 shows us his real alllegience is to the israeli war machine

Posted by: brian | Aug 18 2012 2:43 utc | 17

This group write about the truth in Syria from The Netherlands and Belgium:

Posted by: brian | Aug 18 2012 2:53 utc | 18

Jawbone 8. After Powell's testimony NPR broadcast the Weapon's Inspector's rebuttal, which utterly devastated Powell's every point. What concerned me then was that was immediately flushed down the memory hole, and I couldn't find any reference to it on the web, or from NPR. I felt like the only one in the country who heard it.

You're right about the decline in the media since then. I've tried to get into Diane Rehm to discuss Syria, but despite being one of the earliest callers, was by-passed. It's telling the stenographers that constitute the "international hour" have no sympathy for Assange. If they were doing actual reporting, they'd worry that Assange could be them--as Assange has not leaked any secrets, but reported them. (Brad Manning is the "leaker" allegedly. Anyway, it's clear that the reporters are getting all their info from the CIA as their biases, their information perfectly overlap. It's infuriating and disheartening.

Posted by: scottindallas | Aug 18 2012 3:23 utc | 19

You know, b, that I appreciate your work. Bloggers are sometimes right and sometimes wrong; they don't have the resources to verify reports like the MSM could but don't. Everybody takes their reports with a certain grain of salt. One should respect their situation. I don't agree with making outright attacks on other bloggers, particularly when they are basically in agreement with you.

In the case of Richard Silverstein, he comes up with lots of interesting information, and so is worth a daily read. Who knows whether this report on the planned attack on Iran is right or not? It has added some details we didn't know before. The new elements will give thought to Iran. They have to decide whether it is a diversion or not. That there will be a supporting internet attack, whatever it is, seems likely now, which we didn't know before, and a point which is worth defending against. There is only one internet cable to Iran...

As for the other prospects, you have to decide what is serious, and what is unlikely.

Posted by: alexno | Aug 18 2012 19:15 utc | 20

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