This isn’t funny.
I see a lot of people in social media taking NBC to task for making this report, which cites U.S. intelligence officials as saying that if the Kim regime performs a nuclear warhead test in the next few days, there’s a plan for American forces to conduct a preemptive strike. Other outlets are picking it up.
But forget NBC. What the bleeping blanking bleep is going on with the U.S. intelligence officials?
For the record, NBC advertised its report with this tweet in the 6 PM hour Eastern time.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) April 13, 2017
Fox’s Jennifer Griffin promptly bounced it off defense officials, and got a vigorous, categorical rejection:
Multiple sr defense officials say this report is "wildly wrong" "crazy." Pentagon pushing back on NBC report, call it "extremely dangerous." https://t.co/BLnoPHnhj9
— Jennifer Griffin (@JenGriffinFNC) April 13, 2017
As one would hope. The question, not an academic one, is what happened here. Did U.S. intelligence officials in fact tell NBC what the network’s news division reports in its story?
The U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test, multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.
North Korea has warned that a “big event” is near, and U.S. officials say signs point to a nuclear test that could come as early as this weekend.
The NBC report outlines the forces supposedly arrayed for use. It then positions this gem of a policy analysis comment:
The danger of such an attack by the U.S. is that it could provoke the volatile and unpredictable North Korean regime to launch its own blistering attack on its southern neighbor.
If this really came from U.S. intelligence officials, they need to be tracked down, fired, and prosecuted immediately. Whether the “disclosure” is true or not, it is unconscionable for a government official to “leak” something like this. It makes the intelligence officials themselves culpable for provoking the volatile and unpredictable North Korean regime. At the absolute best, this could only be a misguided attempt to undercut President Trump’s policy or planning, whatever the latter may be. (And we still don’t know — but Griffin says defense officials are denying the NBC claims.)
If U.S. intelligence officials are the sources of the NBC report, their actions should not be papered over in the interest of not calling attention to the report itself. The report is out there. Pyongyang has already seen it, along with the rest of East Asia. The American people have the right to know what is going on here.