Israel, Obama, Iran, and Journalism
"During Netanyahu's visit, Israel shared intelligence with the CIA regarding the potential for a terrorist attack which will dwarf 9/11 if Iran is allowed to continue with its nuclear designs and share its outcomes with allies such as Hamas and the Hizbullah. Iranian proliferation is a direct threat to US National security.
Obama's staff is ignoring the intel (HUMINT) because they believe that it is intended to manipulate the Administration into accepting Israel's planned bombing of two facilities in Iran.
They are also ignoring intel regarding a Hamas cell in Cairo that is bent on mischief. The Israelis are shunned. The CIA is exasperated."
How reliable is this information? Can journalists be trusted not to be manipulated; not to substitute opinion and wishful thinking for facts; not to be corrupted with the trappings of power or outright pecuniary incentives?
Consider my case:
On January 20, 2009, I appeared as a guest in the most popular political affairs program in Macedonia ("Glasot na Narodot", or The Voice of the People). I warned that Israel is willing to wait 6 to 8 months for Obama's "diplomacy" with regards to Iran's nuclear capability to show some progress. If Iran remains recalcitrant, Israel plans to bomb two facilities in Iran as it did in Iraq in 1981, I said. Refueling won't be a problem, I assured the program's host: both Egypt and Saudi-Arabia offered to help.
This and other interviews provoked speculations in Balkan media and on the Internet:
Vaknin probably had assumed that the NSA (which has a presence in Skopje, having recently moved some of its facilities there from Athens) will be monitoring the program and will report to Washington, suggested one of them.
Vaknin' sister is Sima Gil-Vaknin, the IDF's (Israel Defense Force's) Chief Censor (true) and Vaknin is a senior Israeli intelligence operative (which I deny emphatically).
Recently, the leading Balkan newsmagazine "Fokus" published a long article about the Eligibility Problem (Obama's missing original birth certificate and other personal documents). In that article, Fokus speculated that Israel may have written off Obama and has embarked on a worldwide campaign to discredit him and counter his dangerous diplomatic and military moves. Vaknin, contended the magazine, spearheaded these activities in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans in conjunction with the Hasbara's clandestine unit, which is under the direct control of the Prime Minister's office. I have since denied these rumors, too.
I am a journalist of long standing (since the mid-eighties), have lived and worked in Israel and maintain a network of top-level, unimpeachable sources. I am made privy to a lot of information and disinformation (see my articles about Macedonia's accession to NATO and the name issue). Like every journalist, I sometimes can't tell the difference and get duped. But this is one of the risks of the First Amendment.
As I see it, my job is not to block or filter content. My task is publish with appropriate disclaimers regarding the sources of my information. I should serve as an eBay of data, ranking the past performance of "vendors" of intelligence and letting the fully-informed reader make up his or her mind whom to believe and whom to discredit.
Back to the opening scoop:
Is it true? Did it happen?
Who knows! All I can say is that someone wanted this information leaked. It could be a arrow shot across the Obama administration's bow. It could be part of a much larger picture. It could be a signal aimed at Iran. It may be a brazen fabrication. History will tell.
But one thing it is for sure: a story. Someone(s) told me, a journalist, this story. They wanted it out. The importance of a story sometimes lies not with its content, but with its very release. It is the role of the discerning reader to read between the lines, connect the dots, and come up with his or her own narrative.