Morning Report 12/12/04
U.S. Finally Listens to an International Agency

Can you hear me now? There's something wrong with the Bush regime's wiring.

In typically reckless fashion, the Bush regime is skulking around Planet Earth's chief regulator of nuclear arms to try to find a weapon it can use against him. For now, though, the administration hasn't found the right ammo and is content to just listen.

The Washington Post's Dafna Linzer reported this morning that the administration "has dozens of intercepts of Mohamed ElBaradei's phone calls with Iranian diplomats and is scrutinizing them in search of ammunition to oust him as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency."

The whole thing smacks of the usual payback against anyone who crossed the Bush regime over its invasion of Iraq. This is hardly the first time the regime has gone Segretti on the rest of the world's asses. Last February, it was revealed that the U.S. and Britain bugged U.N. WMD inspector Hans Blix and others right here in Manhattan (see photo).

ElBaradei (left) mutters, "You know, Powell, you Americans really bug me," and Blix (right) adds in a whisper, "Yeah, ElBaradei, I know how you feel." The sympathetic U.S. Secretary of State (center) replies, "I know, guys, I know. You two should speak up." (State Dept. photo)

Plamegate has proven to be a handy tool to subpoena reporters' notes and otherwise threaten them and their sources. The regime's more covert offensive against yet another Arab (ElBaradei is Egyptian) is also intimidating, of course, but it hasn't produced jack shit. Here's how Linzer puts it:

    Although eavesdropping, even on allies, is considered a well-worn tool of national security and diplomacy, the efforts against ElBaradei demonstrate the lengths some within the administration are willing to go to replace a top international diplomat who questioned U.S. intelligence on Iraq and is now taking a cautious approach on Iran.

    The intercepted calls have not produced any evidence of nefarious conduct by ElBaradei, according to three officials who have read them. But some within the administration believe they show ElBaradei lacks impartiality because he tried to help Iran navigate a diplomatic crisis over its nuclear programs. Others argue the transcripts demonstrate nothing more than standard telephone diplomacy.

ElBaradei, a former NYU law professor, "is well-respected inside the United Nations," Linzer writes, and she adds:

    Even some of the administration's closest friends, including Britain, appear to be reluctant to join a fight they believe is motivated by a desire to pay back ElBaradei over Iraq.

Last February, Blix told The Independent (U.K.) that he expected to be bugged by Iraqis, but, as the paper wrote:

    [Blix said] the possibility that he was spied on by someone "on the same side" was "disgusting." Dr. Blix said his suspicions were aroused by repeated trouble with his telephone at his New York home.

    His fears worsened when a member of the U.S. administration showed him photographs that could only have come from the U.N. weapons office.

Where ElBaradei is concerned, the fact is that this Mohamed has gone to the mountain: Much of the rest of the world likes the way he's doing his impossible job. But that's not enough for the impatient Bush regime, which apparently brought a mountain of eavesdropping equipment to him.

Meanwhile, the Bush regime is unhappy with this country's nukes and that country's nukes, but its officials breathe not one word about Israel's unknown quantity of nukes, which are in the hands of the aggressively right-wing Sharon administration.

As Dan Ephron explained in his Voice story last April about whistle-blower/spy (take your pick) Mordechai Vanunu:

    [Israel has] a don't-admit-don't-deny policy of nuclear ambiguity, which has allowed the Jewish state to develop nuclear weapons while avoiding international sanctions.

Of course, who's more secretive than the current D.C. regime itself? Waxman lifted Bush's veil a while back and discovered "an unprecedented assault on the principle of open government." My earlier take: The Bush regime "has expanded and refined the memory hole."

Speaking of disappeared knowledge, didn't anyone bug the rooms where Dick Cheney's energy task force met back in 2001? We still don't know what the hell was talked about during those skull sessions.

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