The Jerusalem Post noted yesterday that on Wolf Blitzer’s CNN show Seymour Hersh discussed an upcoming New Yorker piece in which he will disclose that “Israel did not have a clear idea of the nature of the facility it targeted in Syria in September 2007″ and that “the primary objective of the bombing was to send a forceful message to Iran.” The piece is appropriately titled “A Shot in the Dark.”
When I saw this, the first thing I thought of was John Bolton’s speech at the Herzliya Conference in Israel a couple of weeks ago. Bolton devoted a substantial portion of his talk to discussing the 2007 strike, and questioning why the Israeli and American governments have been so reticent on the nature of the target. Obviously, Bolton cannot explicitly reveal what happened. But his method of discussing the incident was to tiptoe around it so meticulously that the outline of what he thinks was targeted emerged with unmistakable clarity.
I haven’t been able to locate a finished transcript of his remarks, but the IDC (which sponsors the conference) has posted rough transcripts of the conference presentations, the excerpt of which below I’ve edited for spelling and typos:
The general public still doesn’t know the relationship between North Korea and Syria and whether it was a joint effort, a trade of supplies or something else. Our governments however do know the details and I wonder if that censorship and classification of information is necessary . . .
Syria with its domination by Iran wouldn’t be able to build a nuclear facility without, at least, the acquiescence of Iran. Even with Iranian permission Syria still has two problems. First they don’t have the capability; secondly they don’t have the money. As a solution to this North Korea could provide the capability while Iran, from its oil sales, could provide the money.
In this case it’s more than cooperation and more like a joint effort. I feel that it’s clear that there is more here that needs to be disclosed. I feel that there isn’t any need for either the Israeli or United States governments to reveal how they came about the intelligence or about how they knew of the facility. Nor do I believe that there is a need to disclose the classified information about the operation.
What should not be withheld is what the facility actually was and why it was withheld….Now there won’t be a Syrian retaliation and there does seem to be North Korean involvement, so why not say so?
The reason why the Israeli government isn’t disclosing any information means that there is more occurring here and this information is being withheld because of the possibly that North Korea was violating their agreement of the Six Party Talks and proliferating nuclear arms against [that] agreement.
As characterized by Bolton, the Israeli strike wasn’t much of a “shot in the dark” at all. It will be interesting to see what Hersh (who has a fondness for shocking revelations from anonymous government sources) has to say about it.