NY Times ‘confirms’ Hezbollah/Iran connection to Bulgaria attack by quoting unnamed American ‘officials’

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It’s official. It’s not just Benjamin Netanyahu who has accused Iran and Hezbollah of the terrorist attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. The accusation has now been confirmed by American officials as well as the crack New York Times investigative reporting team of Nicholas Kulish and Eric Schmitt. The newspaper of record leaves no doubt, as the article demonstrates [my comments in brackets]:

American officials on Thursday identified the suicide bomber responsible for a deadly attack on Israeli vacationers here as a member of a Hezbollah cell that was operating in Bulgaria and looking for such targets, corroborating Israel’s assertions and making the bombing a new source of tension with Iran. [The American officials “confirmed” this accusation by believing and repeating the accusations made by Israeli officials.]

One senior American official said the current American intelligence assessment was that the bomber, who struck Wednesday, killing five Israelis, had been “acting under broad guidance” to hit Israeli targets when opportunities presented themselves, and that the guidance had been given to Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, by Iran, its primary sponsor. Two other American officials confirmed that Hezbollah was behind the bombing, but declined to provide additional details. [The details would reveal too much about American intelligence-gathering methods, and endanger American agents and their sources around the world. We’ll just have to trust them.]

The attacks, the official said, were in retaliation for the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, for which Iran has blamed Israeli agents — an accusation that Israel has neither confirmed nor denied. “This was tit for tat,” said the American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still under way. [If the official allowed his name to be used, it would compromise the investigation. Isn’t that obvious? Besides, we can assume that the Times reporters have exhaustively and independently verified this anonymous official’s stellar track record for truthfulness and accuracy.]

The bombing comes amid heightened tensions over Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes but Israel and the West say is a cover for developing weapons. [This opinion of “Israel and the West” has similarly been confirmed, corroborated and verified by a wide variety of Israeli and American officials who have spoken on condition of anonymity because the nuclear program is “still under way.”] The United States and Europe imposed sanctions this month aimed at crippling Iran’s vital oil industry, while Iran has sworn to exact revenge for the assassinations, as well as for cyberattacks on its nuclear industry. [The United States and Israel, far more civilized countries, would never engage in “revenge” for assassinations of its citizens or cyberattacks; they engage only in retaliatory self-defense and deterrence of future crimes.]

A senior Israeli official said on Thursday that the Burgas attack was part of an intensive wave of terrorist attacks around the world carried out by two different organizations, the Iranian Quds Force, an elite international operations unit within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, as well as by Hezbollah.

“They work together when necessary, and separately when not necessary,” the Israeli official told reporters on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss national security issues. [Israeli government prosecutors are launching an intensive investigation into the identity of the Israeli official who leaked this information regarding Iran and Hezbollah’s collaboration in international terrorism when he (she?) was unauthorized to do so.]

While the Burgas attack fit the modus operandi of Hezbollah [as well as the M.O. of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, various splinter groups, Iran, the Tamil Tigers, and the New York Mets], the Israeli official said, it was not clear whether the bomber intended to blow himself up or had suffered what the official called a “work accident,” adding, “We will never know.” [I doubt that. Israeli investigators will surely be able construct a verbatim transcript of the bomber’s most private, intimate thoughts, including his loyalty oath to Hezbollah and Iran just before detonating.]

The bomber had a fake Michigan driver’s license, but there are no indications that he had any connection to the United States, the American official said, adding that there were no details yet about the bomber like his name or nationality.[No details? This anonymous American official is far too modest. We may not know the bomber’s name or nationality but we are quite certain he was a Hezbollah operative acting on instructions from Iran. That has been confirmed and re-confirmed by two government intelligence agencies and the newspaper of record.] He also declined to describe what specific intelligence — intercepted communications, analysis of the bomber’s body parts or other details — that led analysts to conclude that the bomber belonged to Hezbollah. [Such information is too sensitive to reveal. Indeed it may have been irresponsible for the reporters to speculate on particular forms of intelligence that may have played a role, since it gives valuable information to our enemies.]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a news conference on Thursday in Jerusalem that the attack in Burgas was carried out by “Hezbollah, the long arm of Iran.” [The nature of this sinister relationship is clear because Iran and Hezbollah are close allies, Iran supplies Hezbollah with generous material support, and Hezbollah maintains a powerful lobby in Tehran to ensure that the supply pipeline continues at full throttle.] . . .

The suicide attack, the country’s first, sent police and intelligence officers from Bulgaria, Israel and the United States racing to identify the bomber and to look for possible accomplices and evidence that would connect him to Hezbollah or Iran. [As it turns out, the “evidence that would connect him to Hezbollah and Iran” was overwhelming and immediately apparent, though the details must remain secret. The bomber’s actual identity and possible accomplices may take a little longer.]

Officials here have said they have the man’s fingerprints and his DNA, and are trying to identify a man roughly 36 years old, who they suspect was in the country between four and seven days before the blast. [These are the Bulgarian “officials,” operating at super slo-mo speed. Israeli and American officials are in possession of the bomber’s Hezbollah membership card.] The Bulgarians are still trying to figure out how the bomber entered the country, how he traveled around and where he stayed. [Irrelevant information. The important stuff – connection to Hezbollah and Iran – we already know.] The police released the video in the hopes that the man would be recognized. Beyond that, investigators had more questions than answers. [That’s the Bulgarian investigators. Israeli and American officials have more answers than questions.] “We’re not pointing the finger in any direction until we know what happened and complete our investigation,” Nickolay Mladenov, Bulgaria’s foreign minister, said in an interview.[How does he expect anyone to believe him if he does not speak to the press on condition of anonymity because the investigation is proceeding? What does he think we are, stupid?] . . . Mr. Netanyahu added, “A terrorist state must not have a nuclear weapon.” [What a deadly combination that would be! A country that deliberately attacks civilians equipped with a nuclear arsenal!!!] Bulgarian authorities said they were working with the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Israeli intelligence services and Interpol. Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said that the F.B.I. determined that the driver’s license was a fake and that the person described on the card did not exist. [Another backward Bulgarian who does not realize that giving his name compromises the ongoing investigation. Where is his common sense?] . . .

A few additional points must be made. First, Israel is once again exercising almost superhuman restraint by not retaliating against the guilty parties. No doubt Israel is weary from previous world-wide anti-semitic condemnations of their right to self-defense. However, let no one mistake weariness for weakness. When pushed too far, Israel will respond, even if its leaders are far more cautious than the average government out of heightened concern for the value of human life.

Second, the courage of these unauthorized leakers never ceases to amaze me. These American and Israeli officials risk everything to disclose the truth to the public despite their governments’ insistence on suppressing this highly sensitive information. Should the unnamed officials speaking without authorization ever be identified, their fate is likely to be similar to that of Bradley Manning, who faces life in prison for similar actions. And then there are the intrepid reporters themselves. They risk subpoenas to compel them to reveal their sources, and serious jail time if they refuse to comply.

Finally, Stephen Colbert must apologize for his buffoonish act at the White House correspondents dinner a few years back, when he insulted the press corps by saying that they simply typed what they had been told by government officials. Kulish and Schmitt’s courageous reporting prove him wrong. Message to Colbert: Being a “comedian” does not entitle you to cross the boundaries of legitimate comedy and engage in outright defamation.

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