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Sunday, 8 February 2015

'Venezuelan Bomb Plot' a Figment of FBI's–and US Media's–Imagination


All these headlines are wrong: 

Ex-Los Alamos Scientist Gets 5 Years in Venezuelan Nuclear Bomb Plot
–NBC News (1/28/15)

US Nuclear Scientist Who Offered to Help Venezuela Build Nuclear Bombs Gets 60 Months
–Washington Post (1/29/15)

Ex-Los Alamos Scientist Heard Offering to Design Bomb Directed at NYC for Venezuela
–CBS New York (1/28/15)

Ex-Los Alamos Scientist Accused of Offering to Make Venezuela a Nuclear Weapon to Be Sentenced
–Minneapolis Star Tribune (1/28/15)

Scientist Sentenced After Offering to Build Nuclear Weapons for Venezuela, Bomb Targeting New York
–Syracuse Post-Standard (1/28/15)

What's wrong is that there was no "Venezuelan nuclear bomb plot," and the scientist in question, Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni, didn't offer Venezuela anything. What Mascheroni was convicted of was telling undercover FBI agents, who were pretending to work for Venezuela, that he could give them nuclear weapons secrets. In real life, Venezuela had nothing to do with it.

The distinction is critical because accurate headlines would not leave casual readers with the impression that Venezuela was interested in getting a nuclear bomb, or in trying to nuke New York. From the point of view of the US government, no doubt, that misimpression is a feature and not a bug.

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