The Nostradamus of WMDs

Published: November 17, 2011
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The writer, a native of South Waziristan, has a master’s degree in conflict resolution from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California and blogs at coffeeshopdiplomat.wordpress.com

The writer, a native of South Waziristan, has a master’s degree in conflict resolution from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California and blogs at coffeeshopdiplomat.wordpress.com

On November 4, The Atlantic published an article titled “The Ally from Hell”, co-authored by Jeffrey Goldberg. Pakistan is described as the “epicentre of gobal jihadism” and then the author goes into detail about the danger of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. He writes that Pakistan is paranoid about the US seizing its nuclear weapons, so much so that it constantly moves nuclear components and “mated” nuclear weapons in unprotected civilian vans through regular traffic. His claims go on to reveal US operational plans to seize control of Pakistani nuclear weapons in the event of an “Islamic Coup” in the country. In which case, US forces would enter Pakistan Hollywood-style from helicopters and parachutes and begin securing nuclear sites. A “disablement campaign” is also in place and it entails disabling the entire Pakistani nuclear arsenal. Under such a campaign, the US would put into action the military’s 20th Support Command, whose teams will destroy nuclear weapons without causing an explosion. Another scenario involves US troops evacuating after disabling as many bombs as possible before nuclear bunkers would be targeted with missile strikes.

Such serious allegations prompted me to conduct some research into the author’s background. Interestingly enough, one of Goldberg’s most notable pieces of work was a 2002 report for The New Yorker titled “The Great Terror”. There, Goldberg described the imminent threat posed to the US by Saddam Hussein. He detailed Hussein’s links with al Qaeda and portrayed him as the evilest of all dictators who had weaponised a biological agent called aflatoxin. In an article for Slate, Goldberg wrote that aflatoxin does only one thing, it causes liver cancer, especially in children. However, a 2004 report from Charles Duelfer, the Bush administration’s chief weapons inspector in Iraq, stated that Iraqi scientists conducted experiments with aflatoxin, but determined that there was no evidence found linking these experiments with the development of biological weapons. In 2008, Goldberg wrote an article on how he got Iraq wrong, citing faulty intelligence, which he claims is a universal phenomenon. For a person who writes on such serious topics, we should hope it is not Goldberg himself who suffers from faulty intelligence.

With a proven track record of false claims, how are we supposed to trust his newest allegations about Pakistan’s nuclear programme? Like his previous articles, nameless sources apparently provided top secret information. Pakistan has stated many times that its nuclear weapons are kept ‘de-mated’, where the warhead is kept separate from the delivery system thus placing their weapons in the realm of impossible-to-steal in any useful form. Pakistan also keeps in place a two-person control system and permissive action links (PALs) coded locks meant to prevent unauthorised arming or detonation of a nuclear weapon. Goldberg states that, according to an unnamed ex-defence official, it is not clear what the PAL process includes. A question that is ignored within his article is whether it would be wise for Pakistan to make information regarding the safety procedures of its nuclear weapons public. Perhaps this was omitted due to the obvious answer.

Before his career as a journalist in Washington DC, Goldberg served as a prison guard for the Israel armed forces. In his article for The Atlantic, he points out that the US gives Pakistan $2 billion. He states, “so: the US funds the ISI; the ISI funds the Haqqani network; and the Haqqani network kills American soldiers”.

Goldberg’s article has a familiar whiff of the doomsday scenario presented by award winning journalist Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker where he claimed that joint US-Israeli teams are in place to dismantle Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. He wrote that in the summer of 2001, a nuclear component had gone missing in Pakistan. A team from the US was deployed but by the time they reached Dubai they learnt that the report was a false alarm. Seymour Hersh has been criticised for using unnamed sources in his articles; with some even suggesting that these sources are unreliable or just made up. It’s a shame when prestigious magazines publish such fantasies. The readers rely on these magazines to provide them with well-researched insights and not some dreamt up end-of-the-world high stakes drama. Perhaps these magazines are trying to seem non-partisan by printing articles from extreme ends of the spectrum. That is a dangerous precedent to set because it promotes ignorance and feeds off of people’s paranoia.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (33)

  • Ali Tanoli
    Nov 17, 2011 - 10:01PM

    After revealing his believes i dont have any thing to say final out.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Nov 17, 2011 - 10:04PM

    Jewlike in america is famous for all evil.

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  • zalim singh
    Nov 17, 2011 - 10:12PM

    he is right pn pak

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Nov 17, 2011 - 10:13PM

    Goldberge and many like him are jewleake they are famouse for these lies and then sorrys.

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  • ashok sai
    Nov 17, 2011 - 10:15PM

    But the TNW can easily be shifted and deployed, what do you say Author ?

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  • Cosmo
    Nov 17, 2011 - 10:20PM

    Q: “With a proven track record of false claims, how are we supposed to trust his newest allegations about Pakistan’s nuclear programme?”

    A: The same way you kept denying presence of Osama Bin Laden and Dawood Ibrahim in your country.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Nov 17, 2011 - 10:43PM

    We should know there truths by now what happend in U.N.O when colin powel lies about
    iraq and history of lying.

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  • ali
    Nov 17, 2011 - 11:54PM

    So when someone complains about the Jewish lobby the liberals come out and start bashing them. USA is not a friend of Pakistan.

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  • Silent observer
    Nov 17, 2011 - 11:59PM

    Why are the Indians so much interested in Pakistan’s nuclear program when we just give it damn care.. !!!
    Indians are so much fearful of Pakistan’s nuclear capability.
    Come on guys.. none of Pakistan or India will our use their nukes as they it will destroy both the countries.
    And this Islamist’s take over of nukes is a flop drama. it will never happen. Pakistan , India and USA use this fear for their own interest in different ways….
    So, be cool and calm please………..

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  • Mj
    Nov 18, 2011 - 12:28AM

    ET, are you really allowing bigoted remarks posted by Ali Tanoli?

    BTW, good job of exposing the track record of Mr. Goldberg. Does he, as a former prison guard, really have access to sources that intelligence officials would almost kill for? I find that hard to believe. Still, there is no need to get worked up over every and any accusation, and we have to improve our own track record which isn’t that good to begin with. Remember the A.Q. Khan proliferation scandal?

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  • Imran Mohammad
    Nov 18, 2011 - 1:08AM

    Well written Sabina!!

    Sensationalism is such a huge market in US that most of the writers bend and twist reality to fit their per-conceived notions or fictional narrative that they have in their mind. This writer is one of many sensation-mongers in US media. What is incredible is that someone like Fareed Zakaria, who I consider to be somewhat rational, called this piece fascinating!!!

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  • usman
    Nov 18, 2011 - 4:08AM

    Thanks for showing his real face…!

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  • Nothing but the Truth
    Nov 18, 2011 - 4:59AM

    It is a really great shame that some little known journalists try to rubbish well researched articles by respectable authors. Yet the same journalists never researched about the presence of Osama Bin Laden in the country. It is the same journalists who rarely write about the presence of Dawood Ibrahim in the country. No doubt deep state will be extremely annoyed and any investigation about the gangster and drug lord may lead to serious repercussions.

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  • Sajida
    Nov 18, 2011 - 5:09AM

    Goldberg is a necon.
    Meanwhile maybe he should read this book by a South African abut the trade in weapons.
    http://www.truthdig.com/artsculture/item/meaculpathatsmygun20111110/
    “The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade”

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  • Asif
    Nov 18, 2011 - 5:27AM

    What the author does not note is that these made up stories from Goldberg and Hersh in the past have in many ways acted like a prediction of future US govt policy and attitudes towards Pakistan. Whether it is true or not is less important that the fact that a large section of the most powerful country in the world truly believes it. Just when all the ghariat people are going around congratulating each other for the fine game ‘our boys’ have played with the american in afghanistan this should serve as a reminder as to how precarious our situation really is.

    Their articles are all a pack of lies and fantasy – but the world beleives all of this and no amount of denials from us will change anything

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  • James
    Nov 18, 2011 - 7:24AM

    Goldberg must be really mad about the $3 Billion US gives to Israel who in turn kill American and Turkish civilians on an aid flotilla

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  • antanu
    Nov 18, 2011 - 8:07AM

    Its a slap on those so called liberal intellectuals who pooh..pooh conspiracy theory. Seems US is influenced by the likes of Goldberg.

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  • SASFOR
    Nov 18, 2011 - 9:33AM

    Excellent Analysis & Research by you.

    Thank you, Sabina Khan

    Ed SASFOR

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  • Vigilant Citizen
    Nov 18, 2011 - 9:46AM

    I believe there is a shred of truth to what Goldberg wrote and that it is terribly easy to disregard it under the sensationalist guise covering the entire article. America did invade Iraq under the premise of them having biological weapons and since the entire nation was duped by the lie, it hardly comes as a surprise that an author played upon the already prevalent fever and pumped out a story that was farcical, yet, stood on the solid ground that the Americans went through with the invasion for the exact same reasons.
    Similarly, the issue of the security of Pakistani nukes might be the cattle prod that leads the Americans to take the same approach as it did towards Iraq; completely ignoring the elaborate lies that the theory is built upon by writers such as Goldberg. One way or another, something along the lines of what Goldberg wrote will come to pass because there is an ever pervading sense of hostility towards Pakistans possession of nuclear weapons.

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  • Kafka
    Nov 18, 2011 - 10:32AM

    Most people, especially Pakistan’s detractors, consider what ever is written in western print media as gospels. The very “Economist” advocated for a war against Iraq as it had WMD, when nothing was found there, it remain unabashed. Sabina has done a great job by bringing out the truth about the author. I don’t want to sound prejudiced but what do you expect from a man named “Goldberg”. It is a typical Jew name.

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  • Organization of Pure Profit
    Nov 18, 2011 - 2:47PM

    Sabina’s analysis is like a mountain dug up, and there is a mouse in it, where mountain is a lie, and mouse is pure truth.

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Nov 18, 2011 - 3:24PM

    I have no doubt the US simulates various scenario’s but that does not mean that amything will happen.

    After all, I am sure WE simulate scenario’s of a nuclear attack on India and so do they.

    I am sure the Indian’s also have a plan to secure our weapons. We have just not hear about it.

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  • American Desi
    Nov 18, 2011 - 6:11PM

    Unfortunately Pakistan has less credibility than Goldberg.

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  • Nov 18, 2011 - 6:56PM

    Before the World knew for sure OBL lived in Pakistan ever since 2001, many respected Journals published news quoting the same unnamed sources, quoting the same secret findings, quoting same secret analysis of Intelligence agencies. At the end, all of the above were spot on!

    Iraq was an intentional lie. Please do not mistake it with Intelligence failures. NSA of India was harping on the top of his voice saying his Intelligence agencies dont indicate any such WMDs in Iraq. You cannot call it intelligence failure but a plain old lie. If the Intelligence agencies lie to Journalists what can they do? They will have to trust them.

    The report about which this article is about makes a lot of sense. Pakistan is a volatile Country. It is the only Country in the World which guards the nuke than the other way around. That should tell you a lot about Pakistani Security situation right now.

    Please do not heap abuses on fellow journalists who have followed the information that the Intelligence agencies give them. You know this, but want to ignore it.

    The report in question makes ample sense. Period.Recommend

  • Nov 18, 2011 - 7:38PM

    What is the point of the writer attacking Goldberg? To make us pay attention to the man and not the story he reports, of course. If I tell you two-plus-two equals four and you disagree, what can you do? You can attack my character! After all, where will arguing the facts get you?

    Mr. Goldberg has a reputed as a trusted writer from D.C. to Cuba’s Castro to anti-Israel Palestinian Arabs to the madrassas of Pakistan. Ms. Khan had to ignore all that to write what she did.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Nov 18, 2011 - 8:26PM

    @MJ
    Did u ever seen comments in MSN and other sites from peoples if not then please make
    sure first what is rationals and bigoted are and what about others how israel got wmd and
    Russia and china got befare man.

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  • SaudiRules
    Nov 18, 2011 - 9:08PM

    USA was wrong about WMDs in iraq, therefore anything USA claims that can never be true! Such is the logic of people!
    News Flash: USA claims that sun rises in the east in the land of pure! That cant be true because USA lied about WMDs in iraq! So much for their intelligence. Recommend

  • Nov 18, 2011 - 9:25PM

    “Please do not heap abuses on fellow journalists who have followed the information that the Intelligence agencies give them. You know this, but want to ignore it.”

    @BruteForce: This column really tells us more about Ms. Khan than it does about Mr. Goldberg.

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  • Venky
    Nov 19, 2011 - 8:10AM

    To author: If you found out bout “Goldberg’s” background check, please do the background check of Manzoor Ejaz and I await your next article.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Nov 19, 2011 - 6:06PM

    @Venky,
    For us there is not much diffrence in Goldberg and Masoor Ejaz…Recommend

  • Saliha
    Nov 19, 2011 - 10:34PM

    @Nothing but the Truth:
    Well researched articles by respectable authors lie naked infront of the whole world to be seen. See, WMDs did not exist. How respectable is it for a journalist to fan a fire, and do war mongering on the basis of an unfounded claim, which shifts public opinion in favour of a lie and leads to deaths of a million? You tell me. And just tell us if you want to know the difference between an investigation officer of a law enforcement agency or an intelligence agency, who is supposed to be tracking an eloped terrorist, and a journalist whose job it is not.

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  • Saliha
    Nov 19, 2011 - 10:37PM

    @Solomon2:
    Thing is, sun rising in the east canjot start a war. A claim on presence of WMDs can.

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  • Saliha
    Nov 19, 2011 - 10:38PM

    Cannot*Recommend

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