Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

David Albright


david-albright
    • Institute for Science and International Security: President and Founder

Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.

  1. Introduction
  2. Albright v. Iran and Scott Ritter
  3. Albright v. Joyner
  4. Albright v. Porter
  5. The Case of Parchin (Albright v. Sahimi and Robert Kelley)
  6. Iran Politicking and Working with the Neoconservatives

1. Introduction

David Albright is the president and founder of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a think tank whose work on nuclear proliferation issues has helped shape policy discourse in the United States and internationally while at the same time provoking intense disagreement and debate.

Albright is often regarded as an important proliferation expert. He cooperated with the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Iraq "Action Team" during much of the 1990s and was invited to participate in an IAEA visit to the country in 1996, though his precise role has been hotly debated.[1] He is the author of several books (including, most recently, Peddling Peril: How the Secret Nuclear Trade Arms America's Enemies, Free Press 2010),[2] has contributed to noted journals like the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and appears so regularly in print and TV news outlets[3] that one observer has dubbed him the "news media's 'favorite' expert" on Iran's nuclear program.[4] Albright also frequently presents ISIS's work to think tanks and advocacy institutions,[5] as well as at congressional hearings,[6] where he is typically introduced as "a leading nuclear and non-proliferation expert."

ISIS, which was founded by Albright in 1993, describes itself as a "non-profit, non-partisan institution" whose "primary focus is on stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and related technology to additional nations and to terrorists, bringing about greater transparency of nuclear activities worldwide, strengthening the international non-proliferation regime, and achieving deep cuts in nuclear arsenals."[7]

Despite his reputation for producing independent, apolitical analyses of proliferation issues, Albright has in recent years appeared to develop close working relations with rightist ideological groups committed to promoting U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, including collaborating with think tanks like the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).[8] A number of observers have also accused him of providing erroneous assessments of Iran's nuclear program[9] and expressed surprise at his willingness to become involved in political advocacy.[10]

For his part, Albright has vigorously contested criticism of his work and written hard-nosed critiques of those he disagrees with.[11] In early December 2014, just a few days after Right Web published an initial profile on Albright that quoted some of his critics, he wrote to the project arguing that the profile was mistaken. He accused one of the writers cited in the profile, Gareth Porter, of being a "supporter/apologist" of the Khmer Rouge's Pol Pot and characterized his work as having "deep fallacies." He also claimed that another person quoted in the profile, Muhammad Sahimi, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Southern California, had a "close association" with the "Iranian regime" and thus had doubtful credibility (Sahimi vehemently denied this claim in an email to Right Web[12]). He then asked that Right Web's "biased, inflammatory, defamatory profile" be removed or revised.

Right Web promptly responded to Albright saying that we would endeavor to add more balance to his profile and asking him to providematerial demonstrating the fallacies of Porter's and Sahimi's critiques of his work. Albright replied arguing that our proposal was "unfair," claiming that statements in the profile were defamatory and highlighting Porter's comments about his work as "false and despicable." He also accused Right Web of making defamatory statements, although he did not specify which claims he believed were factually untrue.

Right Web subsequently took the unprecedented step of temporarily taking down Albright's profile to investigate his case more thoroughly. We ultimately determined that Albright's collaboration with groups like FDD and the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI)—whose principals were, among other things, leading actors in the advocacy campaign pushing the United States to attack Iraq after the 9/11 attacks and have advocated military action against Iran—made him an important subject for Right Web, in part because it reflects his judgment about who he considers to be credible allies and may call into question his apolitical credentials. It also appears to demonstrate how different elements of the non-governmental foreign policy community have joined forces on a sensitive and potentially far-reaching U.S. policy issue.

In addition, we decided that it was important to highlight debate over Albright's work given his significance to public discourse on U.S. policy towards Iran and on proliferation issues more generally. As Yousaf Butt, formerly a scientist-in-residence at the Monterey Institute, wrote in a critique of a misleading February 2013 Washington Post article about efforts by Iran to purchase specialized ring magnets that relied heavily on an ISIS report, "There are serious deficiencies in both the Washington Post story and the assertions in the ISIS report. Given that issues of war and peace may hang on the veracity of such claims, the assertions warrant careful scrutiny."[13] (Of particular concern to Butt was how ISIS had ignored the everyday uses of such magnets and "jumped to the conclusion" that they were related to Iran's nuclear program, a pattern of analysis numerous other critics claim to have observed in Albright's work.[14])

In fact, a cursory search on Google reveals a robust debate going back several years regarding various aspects of the work of Albright and ISIS, particularly with respect to Iran. His critics appear to span a broad spectrum, from academic bloggers and left-of-center journalists to scientists and proliferation experts.[15] On the other hand, Albright has had important defenders, including the likes of Jeffrey Lewis of the Monterey Institute and Princeton's Frank von Hippel.[16]

Within days of posting our updated profile on him, Albright took to Twitter to attack Right Web using ISIS's Twitter account (presented in full here). In late February 2015, he issued a series of tweets personally attacking Right Web staff members, claiming that our profile of him "cited fringe people and disgruntled folks who resent the publishing of ANY info that could threaten an Iran deal," and accusing Right Web of engaging in "witch hunt/McCarthy tactics." He added that it was "time to take down McCarthy tactic site" and that even "if Iran said it had nuclear weapons, this whole group wouldn't believe it."[17]

2. Albright v. Iran and Scott Ritter

A key target of Albright's work has been Iran. His views on that country's nuclear program have led some observers to speculate that Albright is opposed to any diplomatic agreement with Tehran. For instance, after a much lauded framework nuclear agreement was reached between Iran and the P5+1 in early April 2015, Albright contended during a panel discussion at the Foreign Policy Initiativethat Iran "continues to dissemble and stonewall the [nuclear] inspectors and apparently remains committed to severely weakening IAEA safeguards and verification in general." Albright added: "Without a fundamental shift in Iran's views on safeguards and verification, the prospect of obtaining adequate verification measures fades."[18]

Albright's remarks contrasted with the views of many other nuclear experts who have welcomed the framework nuclear agreement as well as those of the Obama administration, which has repeatedly stated that Iran has lived up to its commitments under the November 2013 Geneva interim nuclear deal and has cooperated with the IAEA.[19]

During congressional testimony in March 2015 immediately before the initial agreement with Iran was reached, Albright echoed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's criticisms of the ongoing negotiations, arguing against the adoption of a sunset clause. "I do think it's very logical to demand that the verification conditions either be permanent or last at least a generation. And I think that has to be a very clear message that the administration hears," Albright said during his testimony.[20]

In contrast, Richard Nephew of the Brookings Institution argued that "most people currently taking issue with the sunset clause are really just opposed to any deal with Iran." In a March 2015 article, he wrote: "[S]unset provisions are a common feature of international arms control and even Congressional legislation. In fact, even in the case of Iran's nuclear program, the idea of establishing a sunset period for restrictions isn't new, having first emerged as an element of U.S. policy under President Bush in 2006."[21]

In April 2015, Albright again provided testimony on Iran before Congress during which he argued that "Iran's long history of violations, subterfuge, and non-cooperation requires extraordinary [verification] arrangements to ensure that Iran's nuclear program is indeed peaceful."[22]

"These transgressions are not as exceptional as Albright would like members of Congress to believe," former British diplomat Peter Jenkins said in a sharp rebuke of Albright. "It's a pity that Congress turns so often to Albright for testimony on Iran. He is too inclined to over-dramatize Iran's nuclear transgressions and to proclaim the necessity of making demands of Iran that can only lead to one thing: the failure of negotiations."[23]

Jenkins added: "Albright can, if he wishes, hold the view that deterrence is not enough. He can advocate subjecting Iran to unprecedented arrangements that are designed to make it impossible for Iran ever to use nuclear energy to acquire nuclear weapons. But if he wants to go down that path, then he has to demonstrate that such arrangements are negotiable. This he failed to do on April 22. Was that an oversight, or does he privately recognize the limits of what it is realistic to expect of Iran in the current negotiations?"[24]

Criticism of Albright's take on Iran is long-standing. As a reader of the blog "Arms Control Wonk" put it in 2008, "The main problem [his critics] appear to have with Albright … is that he is contributing to the innuendo that helps the Cheney crowd to establish the case for an Iranian nuclear weapons program. [Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter] points out that by essentially posing as a former weapons inspector, he lends unwarranted credit to these allegations."[25]

Ritter is a controversial former UN weapons inspector who in 2011 was convicted on various charges related to indecent exposure and unlawful contact with minors. Despite his criminal convictions, Ritter is generally recognized as having been one of the more prescient and vocal critics of the view that Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of "weapons of mass destruction," which warranted going to war over. As the New York Times put it in February 2012, "History will record … that Ritter was right, while those who showed him nothing but contempt were flat wrong."[26]

In 2008, Ritter attacked Albright in an article for truthdig.com titled "The Nuclear Expert Who Never Was." While acknowledging that Albright had made important contributions to analysis of the nuclear programs of some countries (notably North Korea), Ritter criticized him for consistently overstating his role with the IAEA[27] in Iraq and advancing erroneous arguments based on information provided by politically dubious sources.[28]

Wrote Ritter: "Albright and his organization, ISIS, have served as the conduit for other agencies gaining publicity about the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program, the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor, and most recently the alleged Swiss computer containing sensitive nuclear design information. On each occasion, Albright is fed sensitive information from a third party, and then packages it in a manner that is consumable by the media. The media, engrossed with Albright's misleading résumé ('former U.N. weapons inspector,' 'Doctor,' 'physicist' and 'nuclear expert'), give Albright a full hearing, during which time the particulars the third-party source wanted made public are broadcast or printed for all the world to see. More often than not, it turns out that the core of the story pushed by Albright is, in fact, wrong."[29]

One case Ritter highlighted concerned Khidir Hamza, an Iraqi nuclear scientist who fled to the United States in the early 1990s, where he became an associate of the neoconservative publicity firm Benador Associates and wrote a book that falsely claimed Saddam Hussein had a nuclear bomb.[30] "A true nuclear expert would have recognized the technical impossibilities and inconsistencies in Hamza's fabrications," wrote Ritter. "And a genuine former U.N. weapons inspector would have known that Hamza had been fingered as a fraud by the IAEA and UNSCOM. David Albright instead employed Hamza as an analyst with ISIS from 1997 until 1999."[31]

Ritter also pointed to Albright's work on Iran, highlighting one particular episode involving the People's Mujahedin of Iran (Mojahedin-e Khalq-e Iran, or MEK), an exile Iranian opposition group supported by numerous hawkish political actors in the United States that for many years was listed by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. Ritter: "While Iran did indeed possess uranium enrichment capability at Natanz and a heavy water plant (under construction) at Arak (as reported by Albright thanks to information provided by the Iranian opposition group MEK, most probably with the help of Israeli intelligence), Albright's wild speculation about weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium proved to be wrong. There was indeed a building in Syria that was bombed by Israel. But Albright's expert opinion, derived from his interpretation of photographs, consists of nothing more than simplistic observation ('The tall building in the image may house a reactor under construction and the pump station along the river may have been intended to supply cooling water to the reactor') combined with unfocused questions that assumed much, but were in fact based on little."[32]

Ritter's article sparked a heated discussion online, with several people supporting Ritter's arguments and others claiming he went too far. Among those who came to Albright's defense was Princeton's von Hippel, who wrote in a letter to truthdig that Ritter was "way off base" and failed to provide adequate discussion of "specific issues where he believes Albright was mistaken."[33]

In his blog "Arms Control Wonk," Jeffrey Lewis quoted a "colleague," who wrote: "Let's grant that David Albright is a flawed human being. But he's hardly alone in that, and if he stretches his credentials a bit, he may not be the only one, or even the worst offender. … Thanks in large part to his access to sources, David Albright produces analysis that is impossible to ignore."[34]

In his blog post on the Ritter article, Lewis wrote that he was divided overwhether to "mention the piece at all, especially after talking with a few colleagues who know [David Albright] much better than I do." He then added that Albright "seems to be taking the high-road."[35]

However, since Ritter's conviction, Albright has on various occasions chosen to attack Ritter's crimes rather than his arguments.[36] For instance, during a contentious (and filmed) interview with Sam Husseini of the Institute for Public Accuracy, Albright—under aggressive questioning from Husseini—repeatedly brought up Ritter's criminal record and inaccurately claimed that he had been convicted of "molesting little girls."[37]

In another instance, Albright responded to criticism of his work on the noted blog "Arms Control Law," which is authored by University of Alabama School of Law professor Dan Joyner, by again focusing attention on Ritter's criminal record. Wrote Albright: "[Joyner's] defensiveness leads him to the scoundrel's method—untrue nasty personal attacks on me and the US nonproliferation community which he clearly does not understand or care to understand. Depending on Ritter, a sex criminal, Consortium News, and Washington Stakeout as his sources to attack me—no wonder his legal analysis on the NPT and the IAEA is so deeply flawed."[38]

3. Albright v. Joyner

Joyner has used his blog to criticize various aspects of Albright's work, including his tendency to make personal attacks on critics. Inan October 2012 piece, for instance, Joyner pointed to Albright's interactions with Ritter and Husseini in arguing that the "ad hominem attack" seems "to be Albright's go-to M.O. when he's challenged about his work."[39]

Joyner has also criticized Albright's efforts to provide legal interpretations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), highlighting a 2012 "IranPrimer" article Albright coauthored with Andrea Stricker for the U.S. Institute for Peace. In the article, the authors argue that a communiqué adopted by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) during an August 2012 summit, which criticized EU and U.S. sanctions against Iran, was the result of an important misinterpretation of the NPT. "Contrary to widespread perception," wrote Albright and Stricker, "the international treaty signed by 190 nations does not guarantee a signatory country access to the nuclear fuel cycle if that state is under investigation for not complying."[40]

Commented Joyner: "Just 100% incorrect in its legal interpretations of the NPT. … You won't find me writing articles about the technical aspects of missile capabilities, or the internal physics of a warhead core. I know these things are outside of my training and qualification to do. … With respect, I think David should stick to obsessing over satellite pictures of tarps at random military bases in Iran."[41]

Albright responded: "I have belatedly read Joyner's rant about our IranPrimer article with amusement and likewise find his chorus of lackeys a pathetic bunch. Now I understand that Joyner's blogging is supposed to be an ego trip for him and a safe haven for commentators, but Joyner's blogging is particularly egotistical and, with respect, off-the-wall. … I would recommend that Joyner have his work reviewed by competent lawyers. He would need to revise most of his work. But it is a path I would recommend he follow."

4. Albright v. Porter

Another outspoken critic of Albright has been Gareth Porter, a frequent contributor to the Inter Press Service who has a long track record of publishing critiques of U.S. foreign policy in progressive outlets. Some observers have charged that Porter has at times been naïve about or overly sympathetic towards U.S. adversaries, which Albright is quick to point out when contesting Porter's criticisms of his work.42]

Among his recent work, Porter is the author of the 2014 volume, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare (Just World Books), which received plaudits from the likes of former IAEA chief Hans Blix and University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole.

In a June 2014 piece for Truthout, Porter argued that Albright had "left a trail of evidence indicating that he has embraced the Iran alarmist line coming from the United States, Israel, and the IAEA, despite his knowledge that there were serious problems with the evidence on which it was based."[43]

In the article Porter contended that Albright's work on Iraq during the lead up to the Iraq War presaged his later apparent alarmism over Iran (for a similar argument, see Robert Parry[44]). Porter acknowledged that Albright was an important critic of the claim, heavily pushed by the George W. Bush administration as evidence of an Iraqi bomb program, that the Saddam Hussein regime had "acquired aluminum tubes that could be used for gas centrifuges only." He quotes Albright's statements to the Guardian in October 2002, when he said, "There's a catfight going on about this right now. On one side you have most of the experts on gas centrifuges. On the other, you have one guy sitting in the CIA."[45]

However, according to Porter, "With that knowledge, a truly independent nongovernment expert would have insisted at the very least that the Bush administration's broader case involving WMD in Iraq be thoroughly investigated. But instead, Albright simply shifted his emphasis and pushed the Bush administration line that Saddam had biological and chemical weapons."[46] In an October 2002 with CNN, Albright said: "In terms of the chemical and biological weapons, Iraq has those now. How many, how could they deliver them? I mean, these are the big questions."[47]

Albright himself later admitted that he had accepted at face value the Bush administration's claims regarding purported Iraqi chemical and biological weapons, telling the Los Angeles Times in April 2003: "If there are no weapons of mass destruction, I'll be mad as hell. I certainly accepted the administration claims on chemical and biological weapons. I figured they were telling the truth. If there is no [unconventional weapons program], I will feel taken, because they asserted these things with such assurance."[48]

Of course, by the time of Albright's admission, the damage had already been done—U.S.-led forces had attacked Iraq, with U.S. public support for war buoyed in part by non-governmental experts supporting the Bush administration's assertions about Iraq's purported WMD arsenal. Porter, however, drew another—and arguably rather exaggerated—lesson from the episode, claiming that the admission amounted to a confirmation that Albright had a specific "role," which was "not to ascertain the actual facts independently of the official line on WMD issues, but to adjust his analysis to meet that line."[49] (In contrast, a former editor of Albright's work during the 1990s told Right Web: "I always regarded Albright as conscientious and apolitical. … He agonized over whether he was getting things right. And he clearly believed that the march to war in Iraq was a mistake. He believed that the inspectors were doing a great job and should be allowed to continue their work.")

Porter went on to make a series of claims regarding Albright's work on Iran, including that he "played along" with propaganda peddled by then Undersecretary of State John Bolton, that he knowingly repeated erroneous information regarding the notorious "laptop documents" allegedly stolen from the computer of an Iranian scientist doing covert nuclear weapons research, and that his purportedly flawed analyses of Iran's capabilities—like that it had a "breakout" ability to quickly produce a nuclear bomb—were bolstering efforts by "pro-Israel" factions to drive hysteria about Tehran.[50]

Albright responded with a lengthy rebuttal to Porter's article, which appeared in the comments section of the article page on Truthout. Albright begins: "I regret to provide additional attention to Gareth Porter's work but feel I must respond to his imaginary narrative about me and in general to his journalistic malfeasance and incompetence, two traits that are abundant in his whole body of work on Iran. But I must say as I have watched his writings on Iran, I am not surprised by his recent performance. After all, in the 1970s he was a notorious, vocal, denier of the Khmer Rouge's genocide of the Cambodian people and he has a long history of launching personal attacks."[51]

(The full text of Albright's response to Porter's Truthout piece, as well as Porter's rebuttal to this response, which he sent to Right Web, can be read in the following endnote.[52])

5. Albright v. Sahimi (and Robert Kelley) and the Case of Parchin

Another writer who has repeatedly criticized Albright's work on Iran is Muhammad Sahimi, a contributor to Antiwar.com. In a January 2013 article, Sahimi argued that Albright "has played a leading role in inflaming the hysteria about Iran by his grand exaggerations, alarms over non-existing evidence, [and] creating something out of nothing."[53]

Among the issues Sahimi highlighted in the article was a May 2012 report published by ISIS, which said that Iran was engaged in suspicious activities at the Parchin military site, a long-standing site of concern for the IAEA. ISIS has repeatedly argued—including as recently as February 2015—that activities at this site "likely" represent an effort to "conceal past banned activities," including allegedly undertaking nuclear experiments using a specialized "chamber" purportedly capable of containing the release of traces of uranium from high-explosive experiments.[54]

Sahimi provided a lengthy direct quote from the ISIS report to give a flavor of Albright's "scientific" analysis of evidence pertaining to Parchin:

"ISIS has acquired commercial satellite imagery of the [non-nuclear, conventional] Parchin site in Iran showing new activity that substantiates the IAEA's stated concern regarding recent 'activity' at the site. The new activity seen in the satellite image occurred outside a building suspected to contain an explosive chamber used to carry out nuclear weapons related experiments. The April 9, 2012 satellite image shows items lined up outside the building. It is not clear what these items are. The image also shows what appears to be a stream of water that emanates from or near the building. … The items visible outside the building could be associated with the removal of equipment from the building or with cleansing it. The stream of water that appears to emanate from the building raises concerns that Iran may have been washing inside the building, or perhaps washing the items outside the building. Satellite images of the building from recent months do not show any similar activity at the site—indicating that such activity is not a regular occurrence at this building."[55]

Commenting on this analysis, Sahimi wrote: "Let us consider the 'scientific' paragraph again. It is not clear what the items outside the building are. They could be associated with removal of equipment from the building. Iran may have been washing inside the building, or perhaps outside. Satellite images do not show any similar activity at the site. (How often are such images taken?) Yet, all of these sheer speculations supposedly substantiate the IAEA's stated concern regarding recent 'activity' at the site. In addition, ultra-sensitive sensors that the IAEA inspectors have can detect one part in one million particles in a sample, and so no amount of washing would be even nearly enough to hide such particles. And even if this were possible, would the water not contaminate the soil outside the building, so that the IAEA inspectors could, again, easily detect the contaminants?"[56]

After Right Web cited Sahimi's article in its initial profile on Albright, he wrote to the project saying that Sahimi's work is "generally recognized as poor" and that it was not credible given his "close association with the Iranian regime." As of this writing, Right Web has not been able to establish whether Sahimi has had an association with the Iranian government and Albright has not provided any additional details regarding his claim. On the other hand, Sahimi has written many articles that have been sharply critical of the Iranian government. (Sahimi also vehemently denied Albright's claim in an email to Right Web.[57])

Regarding the quality of Sahimi's work, it would certainly be fair to say that he adopts politically charged rhetoric when characterizing those he is critiquing, for instance writing that Albright has adopted positions similar to those of the "War Party and Israel Lobby."

On the other hand, Sahimi is far from alone in criticizing the type of analysis advanced by Albright and ISIS. For instance, in a December 2014 article for the Inter Press Service, Robert Kelley—a former IAEA director of challenging nuclear inspections and head of the U.S. government's Remote Sensing Laboratory in Las Vegas—provided a similar set of criticisms of the Parchin allegations. Although Kelley did not mention Albright or ISIS by name in the article, his analysis tracks closely with many of Albright's claims about Parchin and largely supports Sahimi's critique.[58]

Among Kelley's criticisms:

"Would conducting tests in a chamber actually succeed in hiding traces of uranium? The answer is no. When explosives and uranium are detonated together, they produce large amounts of soot and debris, as well as finely divided uranium particles. … Performing the tests in a chamber is frankly a monumentally stupid idea. Indeed, once it was identified, it would be a veritable magnet for inspections and a sure-fire way to get caught."[59]

"On at least one occasion, water was observed in the parking lot, although traces of water there had been visible for a number of years before. Indeed, the vegetation at the run-off point is visible and abundant compared to other areas in the complex. While the critics cited this as evidence of sanitization, they neglected to mention that any wash-down would actually have concentrated contamination in a ditch, making it easier for inspectors or anyone else to sample."[60]

"Occasional satellite photos depicting equipment stacked up next to the building have also been cited as evidence that items are being removed from the site, presumably as part of the alleged sanitization operation. But, in the absence of precisely identifying the equipment and establishing that it is actually being removed—as opposed to delivered—such a conclusion testifies only to the amateurism of this kind of analysis."[61]

"A large area up to one kilometer northeast of the site was also bulldozed and flattened, and new roads were laid out, apparently in anticipation of an expansion of a nearby explosives plant. This, too, has been characterized by some as part of a sanitization effort. But that interpretation fails to account for why there has been no clean-up effort whatsoever just six meters west of the suspect building. That's where a steep, rocky bluff unsuitable for any construction juts up from the surface, making it a perfect site for sampling for uranium."[62]

In February 2015, just two months after Kelley's IPS article was published, Albright coauthored another ISIS report on Parchin, this one contending that "New Digital Globe imagery purchased and analyzed by ISIS … indicate that Iran may be engaging in new asphalting at the site." Ignoring the doubts expressed by a range of observers regarding the relevance of Parchin, ISIS alleged that these purported activities "likely" were aimed at "concealing past banned activities." The report also emphasized a long-standing Albright preoccupation—that any comprehensive agreement with Iran must include an account of all its past military-relevant nuclear activities. "Prospects for a comprehensive agreement dim if Iran remains intransigent on Parchin," argued the report. "A deal that does not include Iran addressing the IAEA's concerns about the past and possibly on-going military dimensions of its nuclear program would undermine the verifiability of a long-term agreement, and thus the credibility of a comprehensive deal."[63]

(It is worth noting that issues of asphalt and pavement have long been central elements of Albright's analyses. A February 2011 ISIS report on Syria, for instance, used satellite imagery of a "compound" of concern to the IAEA in Marj as Sultan, near Damascus, to argue that "Something appears to have been poured on the ground surrounding the larger building." The report concluded that this "paving at the suspect Marj as Sultan site and the paving of the grounds surrounding the buildings at the Masyaf site after the [2007 Israeli] bombing of the [Kibar] reactor site are consistent with the landscaping activities reported to have taken place at the suspect sites and could be intended to defeat environmental sampling in the event of an IAEA visit."[64] A 2013 ISIS report on Iran's Lashkar Ab'ad site, where undeclared uranium laser enrichment once took place, argued that "commercial satellite imagery [shows] the substantial growth of the Lashkar Ab'ad site, where Iran conducted secret laser enrichment activities into 2003." Although the report admitted that the "images do not provide an indication of when the buildings were inaugurated or what is done inside them," it nevertheless concluded that analysis of the imagery—coupled with an assessment of Iranian scientific journal articles, authors, and organizational affiliations—leads to the conclusion that Iran "has developed advanced lasers that are suitable for use in laser enrichment of uranium, and that Lashkar Ab'ad is at the center of this work."[65])

6. Iran Politicking and Working with Neoconservatives

In recent years, Albright has collaborated on numerous occasions with individuals and organizations that are closely associated with neoconservatism, a rightist ideological faction in the United States that has long promoted U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, most notably in Iran and Iraq.

Neoconservative outlets like the Wall Street Journal editorial page and other elements of the right-wing "pro-Israel" community have also been quick to cite Albright's work in support of their hawkish agenda. A recent case was a November 2014 ISIS report alleging that Iran violated the terms of the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) when it reportedly supplied a particular form of uranium (UF6) into advanced centrifuges at its Natanz Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant.

Whether Iran's actions at Natanz actually violated the JPOA has been hotly contested,[66] but regardless of the accuracy of the claim, Albright's reports have served as useful fodder for those wanting to kill negotiations with Iran.[67] For instance, the Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens, in a November 2014 op-ed, cited Albright's assessment of the Natanz centrifuges, among other issues, to argue that Iran had "cheated" during the nuclear negotiations. "The latest confirmation of the obvious comes to us courtesy of a Nov. 17 report from David Albright and his team at the scrupulously nonpartisan Institute for Science and International Security," Stephens wrote.[68]

In an analysis of what he calls "ISIS's flawed interpretation of the JPOA," Tyler Cullis, a Legal Fellow at the National Iranian American Council, argued that "The idea that Iran has violated the terms of the JPOA has gone from the margins to the mainstream over the past few weeks, driven in large part by ISIS's initial analysis and follow-up reports. In their briefer on why Congress should pass new sanctions, for instance, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee ('AIPAC') cited 'evidence that Iran has not fully complied with the [JPOA] with respect to both its research and development of advanced centrifuges.' Likewise, in a series of hearings on Capitol Hill, members of Congress pointed to Iran's feeding UF6 into the single IR-5 centrifuge as proof of Iranian bad-faith. On December 8, House Foreign Committee Chairman Ed Royce piled on, releasing a statement citing ISIS's report as evidence of Iran's intent to be a 'determined cheater.'"[69]

In September 2014, two months before he helped launch the debate over the JPOA, Albright participated in a panel discussion jointly hosted by two leading neoconservative organizations, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Foreign Policy Initiative, as well as the hawkish Bipartisan Policy Center. Other panelists at the event included noted Iran hawks Ray Takeyh and Mark Dubowitz.[70]

During his intervention at the meeting, Albright appeared to set aside his typical role as a nonproliferation expert to promote a political agenda, arguing that Congress should try to intervene in the on-going diplomacy between Iran and the P5+1, despite widespread concerns that such intervention would scuttle talks. Albright argued that "if there isn't a good deal" with Iran and the "administration vetoes congressional legislation and they win," it would be "very hard for Congress to recover as this strong force for sanctions in the world." He added: "That—that—in a sense, that battle cannot be lost by Congress."[71]

Earlier, in January 2013, Albright coproduced a major report on U.S. Middle East policy with three other non-proliferation experts as well as the head of FDD, Mark Dubowitz, a controversial promoter ofharsh Iranian sanctions regimes whose record includes opposing adapting U.S. laws to ease the import of sanctions-exempt U.S. medicines.[72] The 155-page report, titled "U.S. Nonproliferation Strategy for the Changing Middle East," argued that it was imperative for the United States to implement a comprehensive Middle East nonproliferation strategy because of the "threat of proliferation in and by Iran, the vulnerable Syrian chemical arsenal, the challenges and opportunities posed by the Arab revolutions, the relatively frequent prior use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East, several regional states already possessing WMD, and a tense and unstable regional security situation."[73]

The report called for a number of actions which, if implemented, would—according to most Iran specialists—almost certainly destroy the P5+1 negotiations with Iran and potentially lead to war. It argued that Washington should be prepared to impose a "de facto international embargo on all investments in, and trade" with Iran—with the exception of food and medicine—if Tehran did not halt all its nuclear-related programs. In addition, the United States should "increase Iranian isolation, including through regime change in Syria" and complete "overt preparations for the use of warplanes and/or missiles to destroy Iran's nuclear capabilities with high explosives."[74]

The only way Iran could get sanctions relief, argued the report, would be if it suspended all activities related to uranium enrichment and heavy water, closed its Fordow underground enrichment facility, and allowed highly invasive IAEA inspections. "The recommendations appeared to reflect more the position held by Israel than that of the Obama administration," reported the Inter Press Service (IPS), "which has suggested that it will not necessarily insist on a total suspension of uranium enrichment—a demand that Iran has consistently rejected and which many Iran specialists believe is a deal-killer—as a condition for possible sanctions relief."[75]

Said Greg Thielmann of the Arms Control Association: "The report does not offer a realistic formula for negotiating a satisfactory agreement on limiting Iran's nuclear programme. It would require Iran to capitulate on virtually all fronts." He added: "Some of the measures it suggests would be likely to disrupt P5+1 unity … and the maximalist requirements it cites for an agreement could convince Tehran that the U.S. objective is regime change, rather than full compliance with its obligations to the IAEA." Thielmann also commented that the fact that the report said very little about Israel, the only nuclear weapons power in the region, was "conspicuous" given its broad scope.[76]

According to IPS, "That the report's recommendations coincided closely with Israel's positions may have been due in part to the heavy involvement in the project by staff members from both FDD, which has been a leading proponent of 'economic warfare' against Iran, and the Dershowitz Group, a media relations firm with which FDD shares office space and reportedly cooperates closely. Several Dershowitz account executives included in the report's acknowledgments have previously been associated with Hasbara Fellowships, a group set up by the right-wing, Israel-based Aish HaTorah International, to counter alleged anti-Israel sentiment at U.S. universities. IPS inquiries into the project's sources of funding went unanswered."[77]

Regarding Albright's role in the report, IPS reported: "The endorsement by Albright, who is frequently cited by mainstream U.S. media as an expert on the technical aspects of Iran's nuclear programme, of the report's policy-oriented recommendations, such as making a military attack on Iran more credible, came as a surprise to some proliferation experts, including two who participated in the roundtables but asked to remain anonymous because of the off-the-record nature of the proceedings." One of the experts told IPS: "His expertise is a technical one, but this is mostly a political paper. This covers areas that go far beyond his expertise."[78]

Despite the criticism of his decision to engage in producing a political report on U.S. Middle East strategy, two months after the report appeared, Albright coauthored an op-ed for the neoconservative Wall Street Journal editorial page that explicitly promoted a political agenda on Iran. The article, titled "Stopping an Undetectable Iranian Bomb" and co-authored with FDD's Dubowitz and Orde Kittrie (also a coauthor of the Middle East study and a Senior Fellow at FDD), expressed concern over Iran's purported advances in developing a "critical capacity" to produce a nuclear weapon quickly and urged the United States to ramp up sanctions. They wrote: "Given Iran's current course, the U.S. and its allies should immediately impose maximum pressure on Iran, including by intensifying economic sanctions and cracking down on Tehran's illicit imports of centrifuge equipment and materials. … Washington and its allies must insist now that Iran verifiably stop increasing the number and quality of its centrifuges. Anything short of that will leave Iran far too close to an undetectable breakout capacity."[79]

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[1] Albright's biography on the ISIS website states that he was a "non-governmental inspector of the Iraqi nuclear program." Some critics, like Scott Ritter, have argued that Albright at times overstates his role in the IAEA inspections in Iraq. The precise meaning of "non-governmental inspector" is unclear, but it appears that Albright was never officially an inspector for the IAEA. To be an IAEA inspector, one has to undergo specific IAEA training and then have his/her name submitted to the Board of Governors to receive the inspector certification. For more information on Albright's work experience, see ISIS, "Biography of David Albright," http://isis-online.org/about/staff/albright/.

[2] ISIS, "Biography of David Albright," http://isis-online.org/about/staff/albright/.

[3] ISIS, "In the news," http://isis-online.org/in-the-news/.

[4] Gareth Porter, "Leading Alarmist on Iran Ignored What he Knew Was True," Truthout, June 6, 2014, http://truth-out.org/news/item/24169-leading-alarmist-on-iran-ignored-what-he-knew-was-true.

[5] Foreign Policy Initiative, "Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Bipartisan Policy Center, and Foreign Policy Initiative Hold Forum on Iran's Nuclear Program," http://www.foreignpolicyi.org/files/uploads/images/2014-09-30-Iran%20Event%20Transcript.pdf.

[6] See, for example, Albright's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on December 3, 2014,http://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/dismantling-irans-nuclear-weapons-program-next-steps-to-achieve-a-comprehensive-deal. Writing about the hearing, Eli Clifton wrote for the Nation: "Yesterday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the status of US efforts to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreementwith Iran put on display a surprising disconnect between some of the Senate's most hawkish members and a stacked panel of "experts," all of whom were probably expected to agree with Senate hawks. The hearing went to plan early on, with the panelists—David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security; Gary Samore, president of the hawkish United Against Nuclear Iranpressure group; and Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute—expressing concerns about extending negotiations through March and backing increased sanctions should negotiators fail to reach an agreement by the new deadline. But the wheels came off in the second hour of the hearing when the committee chairman, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), raised the possibility of sanctions that would be implemented automatically at the end of March if there is no agreement between the P5+1 and Iran. … David Albright jumped in as well, warning that such legislation could actually push Iran to further develop their nuclear program. 'Trigger sanctions, where they come into effect in a mandatory way, is perceived by the Iranians as putting a gun to their head and leads them to put together trigger-advancements in their nuclear program,' he said. The panel also expressed concerns over the failed effort by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bob Corker (R-TN) to automatically impose sanctions if negotiators failed to reach an agreement by the November deadline. Albright warned, 'The fact that Congress was not on board [with the Agreed Framework] was a severely corrosive factor, so I think it's important the administration works with Congress to make sure this is a united effort.'" Clifton, "Congressional Hawks Gear Up to Kill Talks, Bomb Iran," The Nation, December 4, 2014, http://www.thenation.com/blog/191977/congressional-hawks-gear-kill-talks-bomb-iran.

[7] ISIS, "About ISIS," http://isis-online.org/about/.

[8] Foreign Policy Initiative, "Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Bipartisan Policy Center, and Foreign Policy Initiative Hold Forum on Iran's Nuclear Program," http://www.foreignpolicyi.org/files/uploads/images/2014-09-30-Iran%20Event%20Transcript.pdf.

[9] See, for example, Tyler Cullis, "A Cautionary Tale," Medium.com, December 11, 2014, https://medium.com/@tylercullis/a-cautionary-tale-83da20b004b6; Yousaff Butt, "Iran Centrifuge Magnet Story Technically Questionable," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February, 2013, http://thebulletin.org/iran-centrifuge-magnet-story-technically-questionable-0; Ivanka Barzashka and Ivan Oelrich, "Response to Critiques Against Fordow Analysis," Federation of American Scientists, December 16, 2009, http://fas.org/blogs/security/2009/12/response-to-critiques-against-fordow-analysis/; Dan Joyner, "A Whole ISIS Report Devoted to Little Ol' Me," Arms Control Law, November 27, 2012, http://armscontrollaw.com/2012/11/27/a-whole-isis-report-devoted-to-little-ol-me/; Gareth Porter, "Leading Alarmist on Iran Ignored What he Knew Was True," Truthout, June 6, 2014, http://truth-out.org/news/item/24169-leading-alarmist-on-iran-ignored-what-he-knew-was-true; Muhammad Sahimi, "David Albright and Company Call for Intensifying War on the Iranian People," Antiwar, January 19 2013,http://original.antiwar.com/sahimi/2013/01/18/david-albright-and-company-call-for-intensifying-war-on-the-iranian-people/; Robert Parry,"An Iraq-WMD Replay on Iran?" Consortiumnews.com, November 8, 2011, https://consortiumnews.com/2011/11/08/an-iraq-wmd-replay-on-iran/.

[10] Jim Lobe, "New Push in U.S. for Tougher Sanctions, War Threats Against Iran," Inter Press Service, January 15, 2013,http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/01/new-push-in-u-s-for-tougher-sanctions-war-threats-against-iran/.

[11] See, for example, Dan Joyner, "A Whole ISIS Report Devoted to Little Ol' Me," Arms Control Law, November 27, 2012,http://armscontrollaw.com/2012/11/27/a-whole-isis-report-devoted-to-little-ol-me/. Joyner, a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law and author of the "Arms Control Law" blog, comments that an ISIS critique of one of his arguments regarding the IAEA had Albright's trademark "nastiness of tone, which one can spot a mile away." See the ISIS article here: http://www.isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/Misinterpreting_the_IAEA_27Nov2012.pdf.

[12] Sahimi wrote the following email to Right Web responding to Albright's accusation:

February 23, 2015

Right Web,

Thank you very much for sending David Albright's profile to me.

In 2009 I published a critique of David Albright on Antiwar.com. After a few months, he contacted me. He first tried to scare me by saying that what I had said about him was "libelous." When I told him that it is not, and I will be happy to defend it in a court of law, he backed down. Then, he invited me to debate hIm on antiwar radio, which I gladly accepted. But, he again backed down at the last moment and went on the radio alone, with the excuse that I had already been to the radio and it was his turn to do the talking. Then, his institute issued a lengthy defense of its Iran work, but after a while it began addressing a couple of the issues that I had raised. In addition, in his e-mails to me Albright admitted that I "make good points too." I have all the e-mail correspondence between him and I.

Regarding his allegation that I am "closely associated with the Iranian regime": This is total nonsense and at some point I will take him to court to prove it. I have a long record of writing some of the harshest critiques of Tehran's regime, some of which you cited in the profile, but there are many many dozens more. At a personal level, I have been banned from going to Iran for at least 8 years. My visa (permit) for leaving Iran in my Iranian passport has been revoked, and if I travel there, which I have not done for years (the last time I was there I was harassed by the security forces), I will not be able to come back here, and quite possibly will be thrown in jail. My 23-year-old brother, a university student, and my cousin, a physicians, were both executed by the Iranian regime, which I described in this piece: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2011/08/the-bloody-red-summer-of-1988-grave-crimes-against-humanity.html

In this article, you can see a picture of my brother's grave. Another cousin was murdered during the 1979 Revolution. A brother-in-law spent years in jail in Iran, only for his political opinion, and back in 1981, my other brother, who was then 15 years old, was jailed and taken to a mock execution blindfolded, just to scare him after the regime had executed my older brother. Both of my parents never recovered from our catastrophic losses and passed away.

The only thing that I have done is to oppose warmongering in the United States, where some want to use Iran's nuclear program to start yet another war in the Middle East. In my particular case, Albright has nothing. He knows I am a prominent and widely-published scientist. Every single piece that I write is full of credible sources. So, he is left with unfounded allegations.

Albright's tactic is to label his critics, without addressing their criticisms. Instead of providing a reasonable response to Scott Ritter, for example, he constantly reminds everyone that he was convicted of some sex-related offense. Ritter made his criticisms years before he was convicted, and in any case, the criticism and the offense have nothing to do with each other. He threatened Sam Husseini with lawsuit. To attack Gareth Porter, he pointed out a mistake that Gareth supposedly made some 40 years ago, because Albright has nothing to counter Gareth with.

Muhammad Sahimi

Professor

University of Southern California, Los Angeles

[13] Yousaff Butt, "Iran Centrifuge Magnet Story Technically Questionable," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February, 2013, http://thebulletin.org/iran-centrifuge-magnet-story-technically-questionable-0.

[14] Wrote Butt: "The magnets in question have many usesbesides centrifuges and are not only, as [the Post's Joby Warrick] describes them, 'highly specialized magnets used in centrifuge machines.' Such ceramic ring magnets are everyday items and have been used in loudspeakers, for example, for more than half a century. The ISIS report neglects to explain the many other applications for such ceramic ring magnets and jumps to the conclusion that the inquiry is surely related to Iran's nuclear program. Why ISIS does not offer alternate and more plausible applicationsof these unspecialized magnets is a puzzle. Such magnets are used in a variety of electronic equipment. For instance, one vendor outlines some of the various possible usesin speakers, direct current brushless motors, and magnetic resonance imaging equipment." Butt added that given the fact that "the best Western intelligence concludes that no nuclear weapons work is going on in Iran right now, and that Iran is not an imminent nuclear threat… the media reporting on Iran's controversial nuclear program have a duty to do a better job of vetting evidence and sources. Similarly, non-governmental organizations that are supposed to supply unbiased expert advice should strive to provide professional analyses that lay out all possible explanations and do not jump to unwarranted conclusions. We have all been witness to what may happen when a fictional threat is spun up over non-existent weapons of mass destruction—the result isn't pretty. When news reports cast thin evidence in hyperbolic terms, the public is invited to run rampant with speculation about Iran's nuclear program. At a time when military action is apparently being seriously contemplated, the international community needs to look past trivialities, focus on the facts, and find realistic opportunities for ending the Iranian nuclear standoff." Yousaff Butt, "Iran Centrifuge Magnet Story Technically Questionable," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February, 2013,http://thebulletin.org/iran-centrifuge-magnet-story-technically-questionable-0.

[15] See, for example, Tyler Cullis, "A Cautionary Tale," Medium.com, December 11, 2014, https://medium.com/@tylercullis/a-cautionary-tale-83da20b004b6; Yousaff Butt, "Iran Centrifuge Magnet Story Technically Questionable," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February, 2013, http://thebulletin.org/iran-centrifuge-magnet-story-technically-questionable-0; Ivanka Barzashka and Ivan Oelrich, "Response to Critiques Against Fordow Analysis," Federation of American Scientists, December 16, 2009, http://fas.org/blogs/security/2009/12/response-to-critiques-against-fordow-analysis/; Dan Joyner, "A Whole ISIS Report Devoted to Little Ol' Me," Arms Control Law, November 27, 2012, http://armscontrollaw.com/2012/11/27/a-whole-isis-report-devoted-to-little-ol-me/; Gareth Porter, "Leading Alarmist on Iran Ignored What he Knew Was True," Truthout, June 6, 2014, http://truth-out.org/news/item/24169-leading-alarmist-on-iran-ignored-what-he-knew-was-true; Muhammad Sahimi, "David Albright and Company Call for Intensifying War on the Iranian People," Antiwar, January 19 2013,http://original.antiwar.com/sahimi/2013/01/18/david-albright-and-company-call-for-intensifying-war-on-the-iranian-people/; Robert Parry,"An Iraq-WMD Replay on Iran?" Consortiumnews.com, November 8, 2011, https://consortiumnews.com/2011/11/08/an-iraq-wmd-replay-on-iran/.

[16] See, for example, Jeffrey Lewis, "Von Hippel on Albright," Arms Control Wonk, 2 July 2008.

[17] Twitter, https://twitter.com/ISISNuclear/status/569521569468325888. https://twitter.com/ISISNuclear/status/570041584604946432.https://twitter.com/ISISNuclear/status/568883862199078912. https://twitter.com/ISISNuclear/status/568799118102917120.

[18] Foreign Policy Initiative, "HEARING WRAP-UP: "NUCLEAR AGREEMENT WITH IRAN: CAN'T TRUST, CAN WE VERIFY?" April 24, 2015,http://www.foreignpolicyi.org/content/hearing-wrap-%E2%80%9Cnuclear-agreement-iran-can%E2%80%99t-trust-can-we-verify%E2%80%9D.

[19] Taylor Gordon, "Experts Hail Obama's 'Excellent' Framework in Iran Nuclear Deal Despite Months of Doubt and Blatant Disrespect," Atlanta BlackStar, April 3, 2015, http://atlantablackstar.com/2015/04/03/experts-hail-obamas-excellent-framework-iran-nuclear-deal-despite-months-doubt-blatant-disrespect/.

Kelsey Davenport, "Implementation of the Joint Plan of Action At A Glance," Arms Control Association, February 2015,https://www.armscontrol.org/Implementation-of-the-Joint-Plan-of-Action-At-A-Glance.

[20] House Committee on Foreign Affairs, "Subcommittee Hearing: Iran's Noncompliance with Its International Atomic Energy Agency Obligations," March 24, 2015, http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-hearing-iran-s-noncompliance-its-international-atomic-energy-agency-obligations. (Albright comments at minute 2:01:00 of hearing)

[21] Richard Nephew, "False flag: the bogus uproar over Iran's nuclear sunset," Brookings Institution, March 8, 2015,http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/markaz/posts/2015/03/08-israel-iran-nuclear-netanyahu.

[22] Peter Jenkins, "Verifying Iran's Nuclear Commitments," LobeLog, April 27, 2015, http://www.lobelog.com/verifying-irans-nuclear-commitments/.

[23] Peter Jenkins, "Verifying Iran's Nuclear Commitments," LobeLog, April 27, 2015, http://www.lobelog.com/verifying-irans-nuclear-commitments/.

[24] Peter Jenkins, "Verifying Iran's Nuclear Commitments," LobeLog, April 27, 2015, http://www.lobelog.com/verifying-irans-nuclear-commitments/.

[25] Jeffrey Lewis, "Ritter v. Albright," Arms Control Wonk, June 29, 2008, http://lewis.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/1934/ritter-v-albright.

[26] Matt Bai, "Scott Ritter's Other War," New York Times, Februarz 22, 2012.

[27] As of February 2015, Albright's biography on the ISIS website stated that he had been a "non-governmental inspector of the Iraqi nuclear program." Ritter specifically criticized Albright for claiming to be a "former U.N. weapons inspector."The precise meaning of "non-governmental inspector" is unclear, but it appears that Albright was never officially an inspector for the IAEA, which requires undergoing specific IAEA training and then having your name submitted to the Board of Governors to receive the inspector certification. For more information on Albright's work experience, see ISIS, "Biography of David Albright,"http://isis-online.org/about/staff/albright/.

[28] Scott Ritter, "The Nuclear Expert Who Never Was," Truthdig.com, June 26, 2008,http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080626_the_nuclear_expert_who_never_was,.

[29] Scott Ritter, "The Nuclear Expert Who Never Was," Truthdig.com, June 26, 2008,http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080626_the_nuclear_expert_who_never_was,.

[30] Jim Lobe, "The Andean Condor among the Hawks," Asia Times, August 15, 2003, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/EH15Aa01.html.

[31] Jim Lobe, "The Andean Condor among the Hawks," Asia Times, August 15, 2003, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/EH15Aa01.html.

[32] Scott Ritter, "The Nuclear Expert Who Never Was," Truthdig.com, June 26, 2008,http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080626_the_nuclear_expert_who_never_was,.

[33] Scott Ritter, "The Nuclear Expert Who Never Was," Truthdig.com, June 26, 2008,http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080626_the_nuclear_expert_who_never_was,.

[34] http://lewis.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/1937/von-hippel-on-albright

[35] http://lewis.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/1937/von-hippel-on-albright

[36] Sam Husseini Blog, November 15, 2011, http://husseini.posthaven.com/i-question-david-albright-on-his-credentials.

[37] Sam Husseini Blog, November 15, 2011, http://husseini.posthaven.com/i-question-david-albright-on-his-credentials.

[38] Dan Joyner, "David Albright Responds to my Post and Shows Why He Epitomizes Everything That's Wrong with the U.S. Nonproliferation Epistemic Community," Arms Control Blog, October 5, 2012, http://armscontrollaw.com/2012/10/05/david-albright-responds-to-my-post-and-shows-why-he-epitomizes-everything-thats-wrong-with-the-u-s-nonproliferation-epistemic-community/.

[39] Dan Joyner, "David Albright Responds to my Post and Shows Why He Epitomizes Everything That's Wrong with the U.S. Nonproliferation Epistemic Community," Arms Control Blog, October 5, 2012, http://armscontrollaw.com/2012/10/05/david-albright-responds-to-my-post-and-shows-why-he-epitomizes-everything-thats-wrong-with-the-u-s-nonproliferation-epistemic-community/.

[40] Albright and Stricker, "NAM Countries Hypocritical on Iran," USIP, September 7, 2012, http://iranprimer.usip.org/blog/2012/sep/07/nam-countries-hypocritical-iran.

[41] Dan Joyner, "David Albright Responds to my Post and Shows Why He Epitomizes Everything That's Wrong with the U.S. Nonproliferation Epistemic Community," Arms Control Blog, October 5, 2012, http://armscontrollaw.com/2012/10/05/david-albright-responds-to-my-post-and-shows-why-he-epitomizes-everything-thats-wrong-with-the-u-s-nonproliferation-epistemic-community/.

[42] In the 1970s, Porter wrote or cowrote numerous articles and books on Vietnam and Cambodia challenging official U.S. versions of events in those countries. Some of his publications—particularly his 1976 book Cambodia: Starvation and Revolution,coauthored withGeorge C. Hildebrand—were heavily criticized by some analysts, including William Shawcross. Shawcross and Porter subsequently had a somewhat heated debate in the pages of the New York Review of Books.

[43] Gareth Porter, "Leading Alarmist on Iran Ignored What he Knew Was True," Truthout, June 6, 2014, http://truth-out.org/news/item/24169-leading-alarmist-on-iran-ignored-what-he-knew-was-true.

[44] Wrote Parry in a 2011 article: "The American public is about to be inundated with another flood of 'expert analysis' about a dangerous Middle Eastern country presumably hiding a secret nuclear weapons program that may require a military strike, although this time it is Iran, not Iraq. In the near future, you will be seeing more satellite photos of non-descript buildings that experts will say are housing elements of a nuclear bomb factory. There will be more diagrams of supposed nuclear devices. Some of the same talking heads will reappear to interpret this new 'evidence.' You might even recognize some of those familiar faces from the more innocent days of 2002-2003 when they explained, with unnerving confidence, how Iraq's Saddam Hussein surely had chemical and biological weapons and likely a nuclear weapons program, too. For instance, back then, former United Nations weapons inspector David Albright was all over the news channels, reinforcing the alarmist claims about Iraq's WMD that were coming from President George W. Bush and his neocon-dominated administration. Today, Albright's Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) is issuing a flurry of alarmist reports about Iran's nuclear bomb progress, often accompanied by the same kind of satellite photos and diagrams that helped persuade many Americans that Iraq must possess unconventional weapons that turned out to be fictitious." Robert Parry,"An Iraq-WMD Replay on Iran?" Consortiumnews.com, November 8, 2011,https://consortiumnews.com/2011/11/08/an-iraq-wmd-replay-on-iran/

[45] Julian Borger, "White House 'exaggerating Iraqi threat,'" The Guardian, October 8, 2002, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/oct/09/iraq.usa.

[46] Gareth Porter, "Leading Alarmist on Iran Ignored What he Knew Was True," Truthout, June 6, 2014, http://truth-out.org/news/item/24169-leading-alarmist-on-iran-ignored-what-he-knew-was-true.

[47] Quote cited in Seth Ackerman, "The Great WMD Hunt," FAIR, July 1, 2003, http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/the-great-wmd-hunt/.

[48] Quote cited in Seth Ackerman, "The Great WMD Hunt," FAIR, July 1, 2003, http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/the-great-wmd-hunt/.

[49] Gareth Porter, "Leading Alarmist on Iran Ignored What he Knew Was True," Truthout, June 6, 2014, http://truth-out.org/news/item/24169-leading-alarmist-on-iran-ignored-what-he-knew-was-true.

[50] Gareth Porter, "Leading Alarmist on Iran Ignored What he Knew Was True," Truthout, June 6, 2014, http://truth-out.org/news/item/24169-leading-alarmist-on-iran-ignored-what-he-knew-was-true.

[51] Gareth Porter, "Leading Alarmist on Iran Ignored What he Knew Was True," Truthout, June 6, 2014, http://truth-out.org/news/item/24169-leading-alarmist-on-iran-ignored-what-he-knew-was-true.

[52] "In Response to Gareth Porter's Ridiculous Attack," by David Albright, June 9, 2014:

As posted in the comments section of Truth Out and sent to the editor.

I regret to provide additional attention to Gareth Porter's work but feel I must respond to his imaginary narrative about me and in general to his journalistic malfeasance and incompetence, two traits that are abundant in his whole body of work on Iran. But I must say as I have watched his writings on Iran, I am not surprised by his recent performance. After all, in the 1970s he was a notorious, vocal, denier of the Khmer Rouge's genocide of the Cambodian people and he has a long history of launching personal attacks (see (http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~f...and his exchange in New York Review of Books in 1978), particularly as his positions receive the scant attention they deserve. He has not learned from his mistakes and brings the same poor analytical abilities to the debate over Iran's alleged nuclear weapons work. In the case of Cambodia, his legitimate views on Vietnam blinded him with respect to the Khmer Rouge, where he later said that since U.S. government officials were lying about the Vietnam War, he assumed he would be right about Cambodia. That statement in itself shows what shallow analysis Porter brought to the table. Now, he has substituted Iraq for Vietnam and assumed that the Iranian regime's narrative is correct.

I first met Porter years ago when he asked me to review one of his analyses about the lap top documents in the possession of the IAEA. He notes I was sympathetic to criticisms of these documents, which I was initially also articulating (later, confirmatory evidence from multiple countries, including evidence that the lap top documents were not forged, led me to view the allegations as credible). Despite sympathy for his point of view, I was surprised by the deep flaws in the article he had sent me, both in fact and logic. I explained my criticisms to him. His reaction showed me that that he had no desire or ability to accept criticism or incorporate it into his work. That is what led me to stop talking to him. It was clear that he was a propagandist with a great deal of disregard for the truth. Later, when he published his story, he cherry picked a quote from me about Israel that suited his agenda and ignored the rest of what I had said. He writes here that he cannot understand why I stopped talking to him; he should know since I told him why in that very phone call he mentions. I am not the only one; others have complained of his interviewing methods. People should realize that if they grant him an interview he may very well distort their comments if he does not obtain the type of line he seeks.

I could mention many mistakes in his recent attack on me but I will discuss only a few. He has a flight of fantasy in his statement that Bolton's office leaked me information. But again he needs this mistruth to carry forward his fictitious narrative. I never received a leak from Bolton's office. I reviewed information obtained by ABC News at its request about a nuclear weapon-related test purported to be slated to happen soon at the Parchin site but I concluded that it was not very credible and certainly should not be aired. ABC News, unable to confirm the information, did not air it. However, I recommended that the site itself deserved more scrutiny. ISIS obtained commercial satellite imagery that showed that the site could be used for high explosive testing related to nuclear weapons and warranted a look by the IAEA. In parallel, and initially unknown to me, Robert Kelley, then at the IAEA, had reached the same conclusion as we had at ISIS. The investigation into Parchin continues to this day, and Porter routinely spreads misinformation about that issue as well. One example involves a former Soviet nuclear weapons expert who the IAEA alleges helped Iran design a high explosive test facility at Parchin and may have provided nuclear weapon design assistance to Iran. Porter has claimed that the expert was not a nuclear weapons expert but merely an expert in making nanodiamonds, claiming in essence no relation between the two subjects. If he had read the expert's own writings, he would have seen that this expert wrote that he developed the methods to make nanodiamonds using his knowledge gained in the Soviet nuclear weapons program on compression with high explosives. Over and over again, Porter makes spurious claims that the simplest research rebuts.

He also makes up that I asked Jeffrey Lewis to remove my interchange with the New York Times from his web site. In fact, as Lewis writes on Twitter, the post was moved due to a website update. Why would I want this interchange removed in any case? I still believe the New York Times was too far leaning at the time based on the available evidence. On the comparisons to Likud and my supposed opposition to the Obama administration, he is merely espousing rhetoric. He is certainly not sympathetic to the Obama administration, which has told Iran in the negotiations that it must address the IAEA's concerns about past and possibly on-going nuclear weapons work, if it wants substantial sanctions relief.

These examples are part of a long list of mistakes and malfeasances in his article. The examples I listed give a flavor for his irresponsible and inaccurate reporting. In Porter's distorted view of the world, almost everyone lies about Iran but him—me, most Iran experts, the IAEA, the U.S., French, German, British, Israeli, and other governments, to name a few. But what is clear is that it is Porter who has a history of willful distortions. And Truth Out? First they publish a sex criminal libeling me; now they print a former Pol Pot sympathizer doing the same. Maybe next time, they will find someone who purports to be an alien who says I am one too, controlling the minds of the media and government officials worldwide. Truth Out should disavow Porter's work and print an apology. For the interested reader, I would refer you to the ISIS web site for our long body of non-partisan, respected work on nonproliferation.

Porter's email rebuttal sent to Right Web

On Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 5:45 PM, Gareth Porter wrote to Right Web:

Comments:

1. Albright never commented on the draft. His argument with me was in a second phone conversation in which I did not agree with his explanation for handwriting on a letter that was one of the documents given to the IAEA.

That is what he is referring to in his attack on me.

2. He challenges only two points in my article about him.

The first is that his letter to the New York Times challenging the Times coverage of the laptop documents was removed. He claims it was simply a "website update." But the fact is that the document is no longer available, even though the hyperlink for it is still shown on the web page.

The second is that the satellite photos were not leaked to him but to ABC News. But Albright told Scott Horton in a radio interview July 2, 2009 that he had been "tipped off" at that time in 2004 that there was a plan for a nuclear test, which clearly suggests, in the context of everything I know about U.S. policy toward Iran at that point, that the information had come from Bolton's office.

He also claims that I "cherry-picked" a statement about Israel. But he seems to be confused: in fact I didn't even cite that quote in my article on Albright. It is in my book. In the article, I cited a series of other points he had made about the laptop documents. And he makes no specific claim of arguments he was making that changed the overall picture that I ignored. Finally, his response effectively confirms, by failing to challenge the accuracy of any of the statements I attributed to him, that I accurately reported what he told me in the article and in my book.

[53] Muhammad Sahimi, "David Albright and Company Call for Intensifying War on the Iranian People," Antiwar, January 19 2013,http://original.antiwar.com/sahimi/2013/01/18/david-albright-and-company-call-for-intensifying-war-on-the-iranian-people/.

[54] Albright et al, "Modifications at the Parchin Site: A Comprehensive Timeline; New Imagery Suggests Re-Asphalting," ISIS, February 11, 2015, http://isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/Parchin_February_11_2015_Final.pdf.

[55] Muhammad Sahimi, "David Albright and Company Call for Intensifying War on the Iranian People," Antiwar, January 19 2013,http://original.antiwar.com/sahimi/2013/01/18/david-albright-and-company-call-for-intensifying-war-on-the-iranian-people/. For the original ISIS report, seehttp://isis-online.org/isis-reports/detail/new-satellite-image-shows-activity-at-parchin-site-in-iran//tlinks.

[56] Muhammad Sahimi, "David Albright and Company Call for Intensifying War on the Iranian People," Antiwar, January 19 2013,http://original.antiwar.com/sahimi/2013/01/18/david-albright-and-company-call-for-intensifying-war-on-the-iranian-people/.

[57] Sahimi wrote the following email to Right Web responding to Albright's accusation:

February 23, 2015

Right Web,

Thank you very much for sending David Albright's profile to me.

In 2009 I published a critique of David Albright on Antiwar.com. After a few months, he contacted me. He first tried to scare me by saying that what I had said about him was "libelous." When I told him that it is not, and I will be happy to defend it in a court of law, he backed down. Then, he invited me to debate hIm on antiwar radio, which I gladly accepted. But, he again backed down at the last moment and went on the radio alone, with the excuse that I had already been to the radio and it was his turn to do the talking. Then, his institute issued a lengthy defense of its Iran work, but after a while it began addressing a couple of the issues that I had raised. In addition, in his e-mails to me Albright admitted that I "make good points too." I have all the e-mail correspondence between him and I.

Regarding his allegation that I am "closely associated with the Iranian regime": This is total nonsense and at some point I will take him to court to prove it. I have a long record of writing some of the harshest critiques of Tehran's regime, some of which you cited in the profile, but there are many many dozens more. At a personal level, I have been banned from going to Iran for at least 8 years. My visa (permit) for leaving Iran in my Iranian passport has been revoked, and if I travel there, which I have not done for years (the last time I was there I was harassed by the security forces), I will not be able to come back here, and quite possibly will be thrown in jail. My 23-year-old brother, a university student, and my cousin, a physicians, were both executed by the Iranian regime, which I described in this piece: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2011/08/the-bloody-red-summer-of-1988-grave-crimes-against-humanity.html

In this article, you can see a picture of my brother's grave. Another cousin was murdered during the 1979 Revolution. A brother-in-law spent years in jail in Iran, only for his political opinion, and back in 1981, my other brother, who was then 15 years old, was jailed and taken to a mock execution blindfolded, just to scare him after the regime had executed my older brother. Both of my parents never recovered from our catastrophic losses and passed away.

The only thing that I have done is to oppose warmongering in the United States, where some want to use Iran's nuclear program to start yet another war in the Middle East. In my particular case, Albright has nothing. He knows I am a prominent and widely-published scientist. Every single piece that I write is full of credible sources. So, he is left with unfounded allegations.

Albright's tactic is to label his critics, without addressing their criticisms. Instead of providing a reasonable response to Scott Ritter, for example, he constantly reminds everyone that he was convicted of some sex-related offense. Ritter made his criticisms years before he was convicted, and in any case, the criticism and the offense have nothing to do with each other. He threatened Sam Husseini with lawsuit. To attack Gareth Porter, he pointed out a mistake that Gareth supposedly made some 40 years ago, because Albright has nothing to counter Gareth with.

Muhammad Sahimi

Professor

University of Southern California, Los Angeles

[58] Robert Kelley, "The Parchin Puzzle," IPS, December 2, 2014, http://www.lobelog.com/the-parchin-puzzle/.

[59] Robert Kelley, "The Parchin Puzzle," IPS, December 2, 2014, http://www.lobelog.com/the-parchin-puzzle/.

[60] Robert Kelley, "The Parchin Puzzle," IPS, December 2, 2014, http://www.lobelog.com/the-parchin-puzzle/.

[61] Robert Kelley, "The Parchin Puzzle," IPS, December 2, 2014, http://www.lobelog.com/the-parchin-puzzle/.

[62] Robert Kelley, "The Parchin Puzzle," IPS, December 2, 2014, http://www.lobelog.com/the-parchin-puzzle/.

[63] Albright et al, "Modifications at the Parchin Site: A Comprehensive Timeline; New Imagery Suggests Re-Asphalting," ISIS, February 11, 2015, http://isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/Parchin_February_11_2015_Final.pdf.

[64] Albright and Brennan, "Satellite Image Shows Suspected Uranium Conversion Plant in Syria," ISIS, February 2011, http://isis-online.org/isis-reports/detail/satellite-image-shows-suspected-uranium-conversion-plant-in-syria1/14.

[65] Albright and Kelleher-Vergantini, "Lashkar Ab'ad: Iran's Unexplained Laser Enrichment Capabilitiesa," ISIS, July 29, 2013, http://isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/Lashkar_Abad_29July2013.pdf

[66] Since its original report on the JPOA, ISIS has published a follow up article arguing that that some critics had misinterpreted the terms of the action plan. See Albright and Stricker, "Update on IR-5 Centrifuge Issue: Taking Stock," ISIS, December 16, 2014, http://isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/IR-5_centrifuge_update_taking_stock_Iran_16Dec2014-Final.pdf.

[67] Tyler Cullis, "A Cautionary Tale," Medium.com, December 11, 2014, https://medium.com/@tylercullis/a-cautionary-tale-83da20b004b6.

[68] Bret Stephens, "Iran Cheats, Obama Whitewashes," November 24, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/articles/bret-stephens-iran-cheats-obama-whitewashes-1416872790.

[69] Tyler Cullis, "A Cautionary Tale," Medium.com, December 11, 2014, https://medium.com/@tylercullis/a-cautionary-tale-83da20b004b6.

[70] Foreign Policy Initiative, "Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Bipartisan Policy Center, and Foreign Policy Initiative Hold Forum on Iran's Nuclear Program," http://www.foreignpolicyi.org/files/uploads/images/2014-09-30-Iran%20Event%20Transcript.pdf.

[71] Foreign Policy Initiative, "Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Bipartisan Policy Center, and Foreign Policy Initiative Hold Forum on Iran's Nuclear Program," http://www.foreignpolicyi.org/files/uploads/images/2014-09-30-Iran%20Event%20Transcript.pdf.

[72] Ali Gharib, "Who's Dismissing the Iranian Elections," Open Zio, The Daily Beast, June 17, 2013, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/06/17/who-s-dismissing-the-iranian-elections.html.

[73] Albright et al, "U.S. Nonproliferation Strategy for the Changing Middle East," The Project on U.S. Middle East Nonproliferation Strategy, January 2013,http://www.defenddemocracy.org/content/uploads/documents/Nonpro-FinalReport.pdf.

[74] Albright et al, "U.S. Nonproliferation Strategy for the Changing Middle East," The Project on U.S. Middle East Nonproliferation Strategy, January 2013,http://www.defenddemocracy.org/content/uploads/documents/Nonpro-FinalReport.pdf.

[75] Jim Lobe, "New Push in U.S. for Tougher Sanctions, War Threats Against Iran," Inter Press Service, January 15, 2013,http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/01/new-push-in-u-s-for-tougher-sanctions-war-threats-against-iran/.

[76] Jim Lobe, "New Push in U.S. for Tougher Sanctions, War Threats Against Iran," Inter Press Service, January 15, 2013,http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/01/new-push-in-u-s-for-tougher-sanctions-war-threats-against-iran/.

[77] Jim Lobe, "New Push in U.S. for Tougher Sanctions, War Threats Against Iran," Inter Press Service, January 15, 2013,http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/01/new-push-in-u-s-for-tougher-sanctions-war-threats-against-iran/.

[78] Jim Lobe, "New Push in U.S. for Tougher Sanctions, War Threats Against Iran," Inter Press Service, January 15, 2013,http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/01/new-push-in-u-s-for-tougher-sanctions-war-threats-against-iran/.

[79] Albright, Dubowitz, Kittrie, "Stopping an Undetectable Iranian Bomb," Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2013,http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324789504578380801062046108.

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David Albright Résumé

    Affiliations

    • Institute for Science and International Security: President and Founder
    • Federation of American Scientists: Former staff scientist
    • American Physical Society: Fellow
    • Princeton University's Center for Energy and Environmental Studies: Research staff
    • George Mason University: Lecturer

    Government

    • Colorado Health Advisory Panel: Former member
    • Department of Energy Openness Advisory Panel: Former member

    Education

    • Indiana University: MS, Physics
    • Wright State University: MS, Mathematics
    • Wright State University: BS

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