COMMENTS: Spies Spill Syrian Secrets

Both CBS and ABC sent their Pentagon correspondents to the CIA's Virginia headquarters in Langley to view "a highly unusual release of sensitive intelligence information," as ABC's Jonathan Karl put it. CBS' David Martin explained that he was showing us clips from "a videotape produced and narrated by US intelligence" laying out its case that a building in Syria that was bombed and destroyed last fall by Israeli warplanes had been constructed with help from North Korea to house a nuclear reactor to produce weapons grade plutonium.

The wording by both CBS' Martin and ABC's Karl was careful, even convoluted. "Somebody had spies on the ground" while the building was being constructed, Karl surmised. "It is a mystery how these ground level photos of a top secret site in Syria were obtained," declared Martin. Both focused on the photographic comparison between the destroyed building and facilities constructed in North Korea. ABC's Karl called vertical tube openings a "similar arrangement." CBS' Martin said the buildings were "exactly" alike.

Interestingly, NBC decided that the CIA's evidence was not newsworthy enough to warrant coverage by a correspondent and that its provenance was no mystery at all. The photographs and satellite images were "provided by Israel," stated anchor Brian Williams flatly. They purport to be "proof" that the facility was nuclear and that North Korea had a role yet "many nuclear experts are taking issue with the administration's claims." He quoted Syria's reaction to the videotape: "Fantasy."


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