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There were several mistakes in yesterday’s article, “Israel Will Bomb Iranian Nuclear Sites Next Month, Ex-CIA Agent Predicts.”First of all, the article from the Huffington Post to which we linked was from over two weeks ago.
Additionally, Jeffrey Goldberg has written to us to say that it was inaccurate to refer to his “soon-to-expire prediction from last summer that an attack would take place in the next 12 months.” Goldberg claims that his Atlantic story merely suggested that there was a greater than 50% chance that such an attack would occur, if conditions that held last spring continued to hold this summer. (Goldberg denied our request to quote from his e-mail.)
Goldberg is close to right on the first count. His article said that in the course of interviewing dozens of Israeli, American, and Arab officials, “a consensus emerged that there is a better than 50 per cent chance that Israel will launch a strike by next July.” That is the officials’ consensus, of course, not Goldberg’s personal opinion. But despite asking for a “percentage chance that Israel will attack the Iranian nuclear program in the near future” from every official he met with for seven years, in the article Goldberg himself never offered a personal opinion on the “percentage chance” of an Israeli attack. One could probably be forgiven for calling his piece—what with the headline “Israel Is Getting Ready To Attack Iran,” and, well, its entire content—a “prediction,” but Goldberg is correct that he made no definitive promises, and we hereby correct the error.
The second caveat requiring conditions this year to resemble those of last year doesn’t stand up quite so well. No such qualification appears anywhere in last summer’s piece. Indeed, if such a caveat had accompanied the claim, it would have sunk the whole article. One would expect Goldberg of all people to recognise that conditions obtaining in the Middle East one year will probably not obtain in the next. While few predicted the widespread protests that have gripped the Arab world through the winter, spring, and now summer of 2011, anyone could have guessed that Summer 2011 would, in important ways, not resemble Spring 2010. As it is, Goldberg’s hypothesis was tempered by no such caveat.
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