Media Sycophants

In a recent column – entitled "Powerless Non-Experts" – syndicated columnist Charley Reese allowed how "journalists" had no power:

We journalists are mere observers. Like the fans in the bleachers, we watch the game, and some of us report it and some of us comment on it. But we don’t affect it.

Charley was describing honest journalists, like himself. He wasn’t describing the neo-crazy media sycophants who played such an indispensable role in getting you soccer moms to support – at least initially – the Bush-Cheney war of aggression against Iraq.

And who may play such an indispensable role in getting you soccer moms to support – God forbid – the upcoming Bush-Cheney war of aggression against Iran.

Charley’s journalists actually watch the game. They know the score. And at the very least, you can depend upon true journalists to tell you which team won. Or if the game was "rained out."

But neo-crazy media sycophants don’t even go to the game. And you can’t depend upon them to even tell you which team won. They’ll call up some neo-crazy – in or out of government – and ask which team the neo-crazies would like to be declared the winner.

For example, a couple of years ago, the Iranians allowed inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency to take a few "swipes" off some gas-centrifuges they were assembling.

Under their existing Safeguards Agreement, the Iranians had not been obliged to inform the IAEA about anything they planned to do, were doing or had done that did not involve the impending chemical or physical transformation of "source or special nuclear materials."

In particular, until the Iranians signed an Additional Protocol to their existing Safeguards Agreement and immediately began to adhere to it, they had been under no obligation whatsoever to inform the IAEA that they had imported or were constructing thousands of gas-centrifuges, and had under construction a uranium-enrichment pilot plant and a partially underground industrial-scale "bunker" capable of housing tens of thousands of gas-centrifuges.

But, it turned out one of the "swipes" showed traces of "36 percent HEU." That is, there were traces of uranium on the Iranian equipment whose U-235 isotopic concentration had been "enriched" more than two orders of magnitude.

Now, by that time, the neo-crazy media sycophants had managed to get even honest journalists to "report" that any uranium-enrichment capability was bad because even uranium enriched just enough to make reactor fuel could easily and undetectably be further enriched to make nuclear-weapons "fuel."

That’s not true, of course. Enriching uranium on an industrial scale is no "slam-dunk" exercise.

Most commercial nuclear power plants – like the one the Russians have almost finished constructing at Bushehr – are fueled with "low-enriched" uranium [LEU] whose U-235 isotopic concentration is 3–5 percent.

Uranium whose U-235 isotopic concentration is greater than 20 percent is classed as "highly enriched uranium" – or HEU.

To be classed "weapons-grade," the U-235 isotopic concentration has to be 90 percent or more.

So, how did neo-crazy media sycophants universally "report" traces of 36 percent HEU being found on centrifuge parts the Iranians claimed to have imported? That the Iranians had been caught secretly making "weapons-grade" uranium.

They continued making that claim even after the IAEA concluded about a year ago that the Iranians were probably telling the truth – that the Iranians had not yet begun producing – in any quantity – even 3 percent LEU, much less 36 percent HEU. That the 36 percent HEU probably was a contaminant, already present on the "used" parts they had purchased from a "third party."

The Pakistanis finally admitted that they had been the original producers of the equipment the Iranians had bought, and although not a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Pakistanis voluntarily provided the IAEA samples of the 36 percent HEU they had produced with that equipment.

Why would anyone produce 36 percent HEU?

Well, there are more than 130 operating research reactors in more than 40 countries around the world that use HEU fuel. Some used "weapons-grade" HEU. Several – including one in Bulgaria – used 36 percent HEU.

Nevertheless, last week, Dafna Linzer of the Washington Post (perhaps not a neo-crazy sycophant, but someone who frequently doesn’t know the score) reported:

Traces of bomb-grade uranium found two years ago in Iran came from contaminated Pakistani equipment and is not evidence of a clandestine nuclear weapons program, a group of U.S. government experts and other international scientists has determined.

Now, if only Linzer would report on the magnanimous offer the Iranians made last March to the Europeans to drastically "confine" the Iranian nuclear program [a .pdf document].

No one has.

August 30, 2005