Bloggers on the Syria-North Korea nuke connection.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
April 24 2008 6:18 PM

Serious About Syria

Bloggers wonder how close Syria is to getting nukes and are hounding Karl Rove for questioning Barack Obama's bipartisanhip.

Serious about Syria: The CIA briefed Congress Thursday on what it said was "eyepopping" evidence that Syria came "within weeks" of obtaining the capability to make nuclear weapons. The intelligence agency provided still photographs of the suspected facility, which Israel destroyed last September. According to the Financial Times, one such image shows Chon Chibu, a North Korean nuclear scientist, working with Syrian personnel. Chibu helped construct North Korea's Yongbyon reactor; further photographic evidence suggests that the Syrian one is of the same design.

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At the Weekly Standard's Blog, Jaime Sneider complains about those who buy the Syrian line that the facility wasn't for nukes: "[T]he real suckers are reporters, like Seymour Hersh, who buy this drivel. In his story last February, Hersh quotes anonymous Syrian officials claiming the facility only housed a chemical weapons program and the North Koreans were just ordinary construction workers. Yet Syria has extensive experience with chemical weapons and would not need the help of North Koreans to build them." And Lee at Desert Conservative writes: "President Bush named thses people as the 'Axis of Evil.'  Why now is anyone surprised? Iran, Syria, North Korea and who else will go nuclear? Question is, which one, or two, will be first to use the bomb?"

But David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo points to the Syrian ambassador's warning of U.S. intelligence claims about Iraq to underscore that our credibility is nil: "Isn't there some sort of statute of limitations on our goof? I mean it's been five years since Colin Powell's UN presentation. And look at all we've done since: brought peace and stability to Iraq, made real progress on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, calmed world financial markets." The Carpetbagger Report's liberal Steven Benen offers a ditto: "The Bush gang probably didn't need another incident dealing with questionable intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, but it looks like they have one anyway."

At Israel Matzav, Carl in Jerusalem worries about the intelligence-gathering implications: "I believe that now I understand why Israel is really upset over this Congressional briefing. It has nothing to do with its potential to embarrass Assad. Someone took that video, and quite likely they took it out in the open. Israel is afraid of that intelligence source (and possibly others) in Syria being compromised. It would be a shame for Israel to lose intelligence sources because a bunch of Senators and Representatives have Bush Dementia Syndrome."

Jimmie at the Sundries Shack errs on the side of the CIA over its critics: "The fact that there was no fuel at the time of the bombing doesn't mean there never would be nor that Syria wasn't trying to get fuel. I'd say that Assad had at least two, if not three, conduits for getting nuclear fuel: Iran, North Korea, and Russia. It seems awfully early … to discount the possibility that a couple of guys who are not exactly married to the truth when it comes to their dealings with us are being honest with us now."

Read more about the CIA's Syrian nuke briefing.

Karl on Barack: After analyzing Barack Obama's electoral numbers, Karl Rove, writing from his perch at the Wall Street Journal, questions the candidate's raison d'être: "Mr. Obama's call for postpartisanship looks unconvincing, when he is unable to point to a single important instance in his Senate career when he demonstrated bipartisanship. … He has been only an observer, watching the action from a distance, thinking wry and sardonic and cynical thoughts to himself about his colleagues, mildly amused at their to-ing and fro-ing." Liberal bloggers' reactions range from "Who asked you?" to "Die, malignant troll-boy, die." But is Rove right?

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air adds to Rove's critique: "In a way, Obama is the Jon Stewart candidate. He sits on the edge of politics, making 'wry and sardonic' comments about what other people do without doing anything himself. No wonder younger voters love him; he gets to be ironic while taking no responsibility for anything. And when people press him for action, he'd prefer to eat his waffle in peace until he can find a way to act as a commentator rather than as a real agent for change."

Justin Paulette at Political Machine writes: "[O]nce again, Rove makes clear why the left so hates and loathes him - he is dead on in his analysis." Cue hatred.

 "I know Mr. Rove must really think himself clever in his continued (and flaccid) strategy to keep the Democratic primaries 'in-play,' " writes Larisa Alexandrovna at the Huffington Post. "Surely Mr. Rove must realize - given the alleged size of his brain (apparently in compensation for less fortunate aspects of his physique) - that keeping the Democratic primaries going and going and going is not going to make the John McCain-Jack Abramoff scandal go away."

Andrew Sullivan leaps to Obama's defense (surprise!) and slashes back at Rove: "The great clarifier of this primary season has been the in-gathering of most of the most toxic, cynical forces in American politics - Democrat and Republican - to extinguish the Obama campaign. In the end, Rove and Clinton are in the same party (Washington, Inc.) and play by the same rules (whatever they can say they are at any given moment). But they're losing."

To which Michael van der Galien at PolitGazette offers: "The problem with this kind of reasoning is, of course, that Obama hasn't himself to be an agent of change… at all. The only change he's bringing is constant whining, other than that, nothing new under the sky. When it comes to dirty politics, the man from Illinois is an expert. He has campaigned very negatively in Pennsylvania, and has tried to personally destroy Hillary Clinton ever since he announced he'd run for president. As if that's not enough, he's also an expert at twisting the Republican nominee's, John McCain, words."

Read more about Rove's Obama column.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.

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