FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Republican Senators' Committee (NRSC) STEPS UP Repeated and Blatant Tweeted Lie About Obama, Israel's Nuclear Capability; Cites "The Hill" As News Source (NEWS ANALYSIS/FACT CHECK)

(UPDATE, 4/16/15, 2:00pm: The NRSC continues to run tweets spreading the article that is littered with falsehoods.  Interestingly, new documents that actually were declassified shed more light on Israel's nuclear program, and are the subject of a fascinating article on Politico.  Arizona's Politics is seeking more information on how those documents came to be declassified and released.)


The NRSC has doubled down on its Twitter campaign to spread blatant lies about the Obama Administrations actions towards Israel.  NRSC Chair Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Arizona's two U.S. Senators - John McCain and Jeff Flake - have remained silent after the falsehoods were brought to their attention.

After a full week of more than twice-daily tweets blasting the President for "leaking" a "classified memo on Israel's nuclear program", the NRSC latched on to an opinion piece on TheHill.com claiming that the release "breached (an)...agreement" between the nations.

None of these allegations are correct.  Even after Arizona's Politics emailed the spokesmen for the three Senators with evidence of what really happened, the NRSC continued to repeat the false tweets. After an opinion piece on The Hill today, the NRSC revised its "article" to include the new falsehood.  Senators McCain, Flake and Wicker remained quiet.

The story began in earnest last month, in a lawsuit against the U.S. government seeking information about how Israel may have taken nuclear material from the U.S in the 1960's.  The group specifically sought a 1987 UNCLASSIFIED assessment about the status of nuclear technology in Israel and NATO nations.

The Obama Administration and/or the Defense Department stalled the response to the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request, until the group (Institute for Research: Middle East Policy, or "IR-MEP") filed an action in U.S. District Court.  After some minor attempts to delay by the DOJ - during which it became apparent that there was no grounds to not turn over the document - the Court ORDERED the assessment be handed over.  (The governement redacted all material pertaining to other nations because the FOIA request only sought information about Israel.)

The Reagan-era document is clearly marked as "Unclassified."  It does confirm what was and is widely known - although it has never been officially confirmed - that Israel had advanced research facilities and implied nuclear weapon capabilities.  (Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.)

On March 25, immediately after the conservative Israel National News reported that the U.S. had "declassified" and "published" the report, conservative powerhouse Breitbart exaggerated it by claiming in its headline and lead sentence that the report had been "TOP-SECRET".  It also embellished by (falsely) claiming the assessment's sections on NATO countries was "kept...classified."

The NRSC used the Breitbart article as the foundation for its own article the next day - adding the opinion that it was part of retaliation for Israelie Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking to the U.S. Congress, and immediately began tweeting  inflammatory headlines like "Inexcusable: Obama Administration leaks classified memo on Israel's nuclear program."

Between the 26th and 28th, the NRSC sent out eight such tweets to its 64,700 followers.  On the 28th, the Jerusalem Post delivered what should have been the final nail in the Breitbart/NRSC's story:  the Obama Administration had notified Israel of the FOIA request and had asked for its input. The Israeli goverrnment did not object to releasing the unclassified assessment.

The NRSC continued to tweet the now-doubly-demonstrably-false accusations, twice per day, with each tweet being re-tweeted to additional readers.  On March 31, Arizona's Politics asked the Senators why the NRSC would persist with false rhetoric that could be damaging to relations between the allies. (We also replied to many of the tweets, urging readers to consider the correct information.)

The false report continues to be tweeted out twice per day.

Today, Herbert London published an opinion piece on TheHill.com, reiterating most of the initial Breitbart inaccuracies and focusing on the fact that it "breached" an agreement between the U.S. and Israel.

The NRSC re-wrote its article and held out the column as a factual "report", and adjusted its tweets accordingly. "Inexcusable: Obama Admin. breaks agreement, leaks classified memo on Israel's nuclear program."

The NRSC raises mightily from the Republican Senators, and is a quasi-official organization for them and by them.  It is far different for the NRSC to parrot knowingly-false attacks than for a talk show host or Breitbart to do so.  Senators have the power to remove and/or correct the falsehoods, and to take the tweets out of the "heavy rotation"; not doing so gives the attacks on the U.S.-Israel relationship their imprimatur.


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