TNR Contributing Editor and Washington Times national security reporter Eli Lake is all that Seymour Hersh is cracked up to be but isn't. Lake, for one, has sources that can be checked. For all Hersh's readers know or can know, his stories could be figments of his lurid imagination. Which many of them have turned out to be. Forgive him: they excite New Yorker readers' phobias. I don't know of a story of Lake's that has been proven wrong. Or, for that matter, even been charged with being slanted. Truthfulness is a big achievement these days.
Today, he has a major story in the Times showing that Siemans, the mega-German maker of everything, in partnership with Nokia, the Finnish cellular company, sold the Iranian Government a system that can be, and presumably, has been used to monitor the transmissions from cell phones and email accounts. Obviously, this technology is being used to track and further stifle the country's already beleagured democracy advocates. The story is yet another example of how companies who do business with Iran weaken the diplomatic effort, so preferred in Washington and European capitals to any sort of military action, to prevent the regime from gaining nuclear weapons. If these shameless capitalists continue to do this dirty business, then the only way to stop the mullahs from gaining the bomb they seek will be through military force, either Israeli or American.
Lake's story could not have come at a more opportune time. On Sunday, Senators Evan Bayh and Tom Coburn called for increased sanctions against overseas concerns that trade with Iran. A boycott of Siemens and Nokia may be a good place to start.
Meanwhile, in his latest New Yorker report, Hersh corresponds with Bashar Assad and publishes the contents of his email exchanges with the Syrian despot, gullibly repeating Assad Junior's promises that he really, really wants to make peace. Don't tell Roger Cohen, the newfound Court Jew of the Mullahocracy, that Hersh has Bashar's personal email address. He might get jealous.