James Leroy Wilson's blog

Monday, November 24, 2008

Inference

A couple of weeks ago the local news reported than an area woman gone missing. Police and volunteers were involved in the search, and the report said that she disappeared shortly after having an argument with her ex-husband.

The report did not engage in speculation. Everything that was said was true. But the fact that the argument with the ex-husband was reported would cast strong suspicion on him.

Sure enough, a few days later the news announced that the search has been suspended, and that the police were questioning the ex-husband.

A day or two later, it was announced that the husband confessed to murdering the woman and led police to the place in the forest where he left the body.

Which just about everyone had already suspected, and what the news reporters wanted to have us to infer from the beginning.

Sometimes, however, I make the opposite inference from what the news intends. A case in point is Scott Pelley's report on 60 Minutes on last year's failed raid on South Africa's Pelindaba Nuclear Facility. Some details:
  • the facility had portable, highly enriched uranium that could be used to build 12 nuclear bombs
  • the employee who fought off some of the raiders wasn't even supposed to be there. He was just keeping company with his fiance, another employee, who was filling in for a parapalegic employee who had gotten drunk at the Christman party.
  • the Security Office was three minutes away, but did not respond to the call for help for 24 minutes
  • the South African government won't speculate as to who was involved or their motive
  • ten months after the fact, the police still hadn't interviewed the primary witness.
  • The U.S. has expressed concern and offered to help with security.
It seems that Pelley wants us to infer not only that this was in part an inside job (which I also believe), but that South Africa wants to cover up its own incompetence and that the it is easier than we think for TERRORISTS TO ACQUIRE ENRICHED URANIUM.

But what do I infer? That this was an undercover CIA operation, and that the South African government knows it and resents it but has its hands tied.
  • If the raid was intended to be successful, then the CIA could make off with enriched uranium and suggest to the American people that Osama bin Laden has it. This would further "justify" the U.S. government's bid to acquire more power and eliminate our remaining liberties.
  • The CIA, with unlimited resources, is more likely than someone like Osama to infiltrate the facility, or to investigate and blackmail security officers.
  • Even if the raid is unsuccessful, it would embarrass South Africa and increase the perceived need for the U.S. to exercise greater hegemony in Africa.
I infer all this just as I inferred that the ex-husband did it. But the inference about the ex-husband makes me normal. My inference about the CIA makes me an anti-American conspiracy nut.

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