Let them eat yellowcake

New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The intelligence that caused the White House to escalate its warnings about a threat from Iran came from photographs of missiles on small boats in the Persian Gulf that were put on board by Iranian paramilitary forces, three American officials said.
Overhead imagery showed fully assembled missiles, stoking fears that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps would fire them at United States naval ships. Additional pieces of intelligence picked up threats against commercial shipping and potential attacks by Arab militias with Iran ties on American troops in Iraq.
But just how alarmed the Trump administration should be over the new intelligence is a subject of fierce debate among the White House, the Pentagon, the C.I.A. and America’s allies.
The photographs presented a different kind of threat than previously seen from Iran, said the three officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about it publicly. Taken with the other intelligence, the photographs could indicate that Iran is preparing to attack United States forces. That is the view of John R. Bolton, President Trump’s hard-line national security adviser, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

But other officials — including Europeans, Iraqis, members of both parties in Congress and some senior officials within the Trump administration — said Iran’s moves might mostly be defensive against what Tehran believes are provocative acts by Washington.
Either way, the questions about the underlying intelligence, and complaints by lawmakers that they had not been briefed on it, reflect a deep mistrust of Mr. Trump’s national security team.



40 thoughts on “Let them eat yellowcake”

  1. The key to the believability of the article above is “the view of John R. Bolton”.  That is in the realm of a Grimm fairy tale which can be viewed as fantasy until such time as someone saner bolsters the opinion.

  2. ben Rhodes op ed in wapo:  Trump’s Iran policy is rooted in lies — the kind that got us into the Iraq War


    ….Trump could still pull back from the brink, or he could follow the momentum of his own creation into a war that could be a deadly, costly disaster.


    We don’t know what he’ll do. But we know Trump is averse to truth, addicted to lies, and that what he says about Iran should be treated with tremendous skepticism. The consequences of a war with Iran — a much larger, more determined and more sophisticated adversary than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq — should be urgently aired. And Congress, the branch of government empowered to declare war, should make clear that military action against Iran is not authorized.


    It can be tempting, sometimes, to shrug off the false and misleading statements, more than 10,000 and counting, that Trump has habitually proffered while in office. But if we slide into another war based on a fundamentally dishonest premise, Trump’s lies could wind up producing painful and far-reaching consequences.

  3. oh  geez….  another Gulf of Tonkin…  cuz that worked out so well.

    putzes….   albeit… dangerous putzes…

  4. the atlantic:

    “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

    That was Donald Rumsfeld speaking from the Pentagon podium in 2002 about assessing the threat from Iraq. The past week of provocations and counter-provocations between the United States and Iran—involving U.S. aircraft-carrier and bomber deployments, mysterious explosions on oil tankers, drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities from the Iran-allied Houthis in Yemen, and a sudden withdrawal of some U.S. personnel from the embassy in Baghdad—has evoked fearful comparisons to that era and the military conflict it presaged. While the comparison might not be completely apt, there’s a key similarity; now as then, the American public finds itself in a fog of something short of war, with few ways to assess what could be coming.

    Still unknown is what precise intelligence precipitated last week’s announcement from National Security Adviser John Bolton that the U.S. is sending a carrier strike group to the region in the face of “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.” Still unknown is who exactly was behind the tanker explosions, for which Iran has denied responsibility but which U.S. officials suspect to be their work. Still unknown is what exactly prompted the embassy evacuation order, and how much Iran-backed militias in Iraq are posing more of a threat to American forces following Washington’s “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran.

    What it all adds up to, depending on whom you ask, is the gathering storm of Iraq 2.0, or standard posturing and flexing designed precisely to contain tensions, not escalate them. With such sparse information, you can look at the same public developments and draw wildly opposite conclusions about what’s about to happen in the Middle East. In fact, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations during the Trump administration in particular, one likelihood is that the current tensions are routine and will subside, as many previous rounds have.

    [long analysis continues[

    “I think we have to be careful not to throw all sound analysis out the window just because events start to speed up,” says Michael Singh, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who was a Middle East director in George W. Bush’s White House.

    He notes that Iran is mostly taking actions one would expect, given the administration’s efforts to throttle its oil exports—including possible attacks on regional energy infrastructure. He also notes that under the Trump administration, Iran has not undertaken the same kind of naval harassment of American ships that it has in the past, a possible indicator that the administration is deterring it from some activities. But he adds that the confrontation still seems to be moving into a more dangerous phase, with no diplomacy to speak of serving as a release valve for the tensions.

    The fact that neither side is looking for a conflict, he says, doesn’t mean a conflict won’t happen. But a drawdown of tensions remains possible too.

  5. warning; sam on a tear

    States are passing draconian abortion laws hoping that they squirm their way to the Supreme Court, plop onto Roe V. Wade, and ironically, end the whole thing too early.

  6. I detect more than a small bit of irony that the US sees “Overhead imagery [that] showed fully assembled missiles, stoking fears that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps would fire them at United States naval ships” that by report are satellite images of small missiles on Iranian boats, and deems an appropriate response to send into the waters off Iran a carrier group – consisting of US naval ships and a carrier filled with missile-armed aircraft into those waters.  Hmmm, I wonder why you might increase the number of particularized targets when you detect a threat to those targets.  Seems a bit provocative to me.  

  7. the hill:

    “Right now, the federal government is not on the side of working people. And that’s because Donald Trump is playing a big con on America,” de Blasio said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

    “I call him Con Don. Every New Yorker knows he’s a con artist. We know his tricks. We know his playbook,” de Blasio continued. “I know how to take him on — I’ve been watching him for decades. He’s trying to convince working Americans he’s on their side. It’s been a lie from day one.”

    “Donald Trump must be stopped,” de Blasio said in a video announcing his White House bid earlier Thursday morning. “I’ve beaten him before and I’ll do it again.”

  8. pogo, caught a small news snippet that the info  came from bibi’s peeps, Bolton bffs there.

  9. American cyclist Tejay van Garderen had his bad luck turned into good luck by judges’ decision after stage 4 of the Tour of California. His chain broke and caused him to crash inside 10kms to go, just as the peleton was ramping up to race to the finish. He had to jump on a teammate’s bike, which caused him a braking issue on a corner, then he got delayed by another crash that happened outside of 3kms to go. He never made it back to the main finishing group, and lost his overall race lead by nearly a minute. For those who follow the sport, it’s a typical TvG story. A little success, and then whammo right in the face with the bad luck.

    And then, inexplicably, I find out this morning that race judges stepped in and awarded Tejay the same time as the leaders, which put him back in yellow. WTF? The only rule that should apply here is the one that gives all riders the same finishing time if a crash happens inside of 3kms to go. His difficulty was outside that, and I can only surmise that this is one of those unwritten rules to protect a race leader, but it’s so blatantly outside of fairness to the guy who avoided any bad luck and raced himself into the lead. His name is Kasper Asgreen.

    Then we have the St Louis Blues hockey team. Last night they were up 4-3 when San Jose scored a tying goal with less than a minute to play, forcing overtime. The goalie had skated off to allow the Sharks an extra attacker, and the strategy worked. Tough luck for the Blues, but that’s hockey.

    However in OT, SJ scored the winning goal after a blatant hand pass right in front of the net. Four referees went momentarily blind and didn’t make the hand pass call. They reviewed the play but allowed the goal to stand. Evidently it’s not a play that can be set right on review because a hand pass is not a reviewable play according to replay rules. The review was only due to the goal being the OT decider. Those are always reviewed, but apparently you can’t call a penalty or violation you see on review if nobody saw it live.


    One sport twists into a pretzel to allow a race leader to stay in the lead after bad luck should have taken him out of it, penalizing the guy who actually moved into the race lead on overall time. Another sport says talk to the hand and allows a team to lose a hockey game after a clear and blatant rules violation that they apparently failed to notice and couldn’t set right because replay rules don’t allow it.

    I’ve been watching sports a long time and I’ve experienced my own bad luck on the playing field. You wail in anger and defeat to the cosmos about the unfairness. But these two examples still manage to blow my mind today. One guy benefits from judges who arbitrarily erase events on the road and keep him in the lead. Other guys get no love on a missed call that could easily be rectified by an established replay system, but that system doesn’t list the call as one that can be changed.

    Sorry to take up space with this. I just had to vent a little bit.

    Chapeau to Kasper Asgreen and the St Louis Blues. You guys got hosed.

  10. I did not get a chance to comment yesterday on the media selective coverage of males only.  So here goes.  There are only a handful of media companies, including FB, Twitter and Google.  The broadcast big four finish out the pack.  The “news” divisions are really entertainment.  Men run the shows.

  11. Mr C’s right, and we can extrapolate from these and that last NOLA Saints game. Just have a toss of a coin to see who wins. No muss, no fuss, less college corruption, less high school corruption, no more ghastly injuries, more time to move the old home body around – and away from the chips bowl and pizza plate.

  12. trump Entertainment presents GULF FIASCO III

    More Bodies !

    More Explosions ! !

    MORE BLOOD ! ! !

    W/Closer Views, Thanks to trump Drone Technology !

    Pay Per View Only – No Enemy Media Allowed – you know who they are

  13. There are mistakes, and then there is deliberate injustice perpetrated against those with limited or no recourse. Those sport examples are clear metaphors. There are plenty of others. I just chose these two because…well…because they are the most recent and so ridiculously blatant.

    Some get rules manipulated in their favor, some don’t.

  14. All I care is that a Democratic candidate beats trumpty dumpty in 2020.  I don’t give a flying fig what I said in 1974 let alone anyone else.

    People do change…  after all ….  neither the Clintons or Obama believed in gay marriage at first.

  15. Travis… I too have been a sports fan for a long time.  Since both my parents were born in Canada, hockey was the first sport I started watching.   I just gotta say that the officiating of late in that sport has gotten atrocious.

    Go Bruins!

  16. RR – My mom is a long time hockey fan. She taught me the sport, along with football and baseball.

    Having played football in high school, I remember how fast the game can be. It gets faster at every level. I imagine the same can be said across any sport. For that reason, I respect anyone who has the job of officiating.

    Mistakes do get made. It’s the nature of humans. The majority of officials want to get it right. But even the most conscientious screw up. That there is so little recourse for egregious error is just so frustrating.

  17. Travis…  I played sports in high school…  softball, basketball and field hockey… those were the only sports girls were allowed to play back then.  I agree that most officials in sports try their best to get things right.  Except for professional basketball….   I’ve given up trying to figure out exactly what is and isn’t a foul.

  18. Here’s the VeloNews article on the ToC stage 4 results Travis posted about above. Chaotic sounds right. Normally a team aggrieved by race judges’ decisions get appealed to the ruling body – UCI in this case -and can be reversed if they don’t comply with the rules.  No idea about the Amgen ToC. That said, reviewing the stage results, apparently that ruling was applied to 52 riders (if Tejay was the first of the impeded riders)

  19. Oh, Renee, good call !  Apparently travelling is okay in the NBA, as well as elbows to adam’s apples.

    I’ll now take a commercial break, for a foul called on the viewers at home.

  20. . Missiles loaded on a patrol boat, evidently portable missiles , can’t be very big nor much of  threat to an armored naval ship.  Jeez, these A holes are so incompetent they can’t even cook up a good fear producing crises.

    To be honest our greatest salvation is the gross incompetence of Trump and co. You know “the gang that couldn’t shoot straight”.

  21. NBA is becoming a lot like pro-wrestling,  They are more interested in putting on a show than enforcing the rules for a fair  contest.

    As to all the complaints about referee missed calles,  ect.   Bad calls are part of the game. IMO they should do away with all replay review. As foot ball has proved camera reviews are a farce.


  22. travis, now you know how I feel about the derby dumping on the winning horse for lane changing (when others had done the same earlier in the race – plus getting hoofed in the rump to boot) and on his jockey (penalized 15 days, 12 more than standard penalty. no penalty for the earlier lane changer jocks).

  23. the hill:

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sounded a warning to those in the Trump administration taking aggressive military steps toward confronting Iran: You can’t go to war without Congress.
    “The responsibility in the Constitution is for Congress to declare war,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “So I hope that the president’s advisers recognize they have no authorization to go forward in any way.”
    Pelosi specifically argued the current Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was passed to fight terrorists in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, would not extend to a confrontation with Iran.
    “They cannot call the authorization, AUMF, the authorization for the use of military force that was passed in 2001, as any authorization to go forward in the Middle East now,” she said.
    The existing AUMF has been used by presidents of both parties to launch operations well beyond its initial target of Afghanistan. And many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say it needs updating to fit the current conflict, which has extended into Syria, terrorist hotspots in Africa and beyond. (A separate AUMF, passed in 2003 to authorize the invasion of Iraq, has since expired).


    Lawmakers in both chambers — including a growing number of Republicans — are voicing concerns that the administration has left Congress in the dark about the motivations for the escalation in Iran.
    Pelosi amplified that criticism on Thursday, hammering administration officials for what she considers their failure to brief congressional lawmakers on conflict zones around the world, including Venezuela and North Korea.
    “This is part of a pattern that’s not right because we have responsibilities,” she said.
    She went on lump Iran in that group, lamenting that only a small select group of lawmakers — the so-called Gang of Eight, of which Pelosi is a part — are scheduled to be briefed on the reasons behind the build-up in confronting Iran.
    “We’re hoping that, for sure before the break, we’ll have a classified briefing on the Middle East, on Iran, for the full House of Representatives. We will have one for the Gang of Eight later this afternoon, but that is no substitute for the full membership of the Congress, having that access,” Pelosi said.

    “There may be particular things that only we can hear, but that’s not to undermine the responsibility that the administration has to making sure that the full Congress has the information.”

  24. Pogo – Thanks for the reference to the results explanation. ToC is supposed to be a World Tour event, so it should fall under the same guidelines as stage races in Europe.

    I’ll be interested to hear what they have to say on today’s broadcast of stage 5.

  25. If we don’t have a war, we can’t hang trump and bolton for war crimes.

    I dunno. It’s tempting.

  26. XR, I love the way you think.

    Travis, with the Giro going on the Tour of Cal is of interest, but it ain’t top of the heap. Valerio Conti currently leads the Giro. What I don’t know is which event has which team’s top rated riders in it – there are sponsored teams in both races for a number of the teams.

  27. Top names at the ToC include Peter Sagan, Nacer Bouhanni, Danny van Poppel, Tejay van Garderen, George Bennett, Gianni Moscon, Rigoberto Uran, Rohan Dennis, Richie Porte, John Degenkolb, Mark Cavendish, Bernie Eisel.

    As I look at the names there, I see a few guys who have not had great springs, or are returning from injury/illness, and are likely looking for results in California to help out with confidence as they prep for summer training going into the Dauphine and le Tour. Ineos (formerly Sky) has sent what amounts to a B team of young riders looking for experience, led by Moscon and Luke Rowe. I suspect that’s how other top tour teams have approached the race, like Sunweb, Astana, and Katusha.

    The course in California has been brutal. Four stages in a row over 200kms and some of the more difficult climbs. Mt Baldy comes up tomorrow.

  28. mitch & tsarevich 2020,  cornyn & putyn 2020,  2020 putin & pence,

    Vote Vlad

    Iowa for tsar & king

    For king & kremlin

    czar & collinz

    putin, pravda & perdue

  29. I’m working up to sumpin’ good, I think. Let’s dump it into the topic hopper.

  30. Must give credit to Cory Booker for this one … What do you call a line of rabbits hopping backwards?

    A Receding Hare Line


  31. This is all gonna be offal bad when it finally hits the fan.

    It’s kind of interesting to think about that whatever is coming is going to be full blowed amongst us by November 2020 at the latest.

    happens every damn time.

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