Mohammad El-Baradei of the IAEA was at Stanford Law School on Friday to give a discussion. Due to one of my friends getting himself in an emergency situation (and me being required to get him out of it) I had to miss this event. Which is a shame, because Clint Taylor took El-Baradei to task, as his email to me to shows:
Here's what I asked Mohammed el-baradei in his Nov. 4th lecture at Stanford, which caused quite a gasp:
Mr. El-baradei, on Oct. 1st your office sent a memo to an Iraqi scientist about the HMX nuclear trigger explosives at Al-Qaqaa. His response was leaked to CBS news, who planned to run it on Oct. 31st, immediately before the election. Columnist Bill Safire and reporter Cliff May have charged your organization with trying to influence the outcome of the U.S. elections. I'd like to hear how you respond to those charges, but more importantly since I'm sure you'll agree with me that these accusations have damaged the credibility of the IAEA. I'd like to know what, if anything, is being done to find the party responsible for the leak, and what would be an appropriate reprimand.
His response follows; my laptop ran out of power just as he spoke so there is only one verbatim quote but it's pretty close:
The work of the IAEA is ongoing. It doesn't stop for the American elections and one shouldn't think that the whole world revolves around the American elections (applause.) The October 1st memo was a regularly scheduled occurrence. When I received the report from the Iraqi scientist, I also informed the US officials so together with the Iraqis they could try to redeem the explosives. I also had to inform the UN Security Council, as is my job.
It could have been the Americans who leaked this, or it could have been the UN Security Council. It wasn't our intent to influence the election but the media-some of the media, see it that way. And some journalists need to get some maturity, because life goes on outside the US elections.
(Jerry Springer-like applause).
There was certainly no indication in his response that the leak would be investigated. Nor did I hear a denial of the charges, only assertions that it could have been someone else. I talked with two of my students on the way out who also didn't hear any specific denial that his office leaked it, and a third person, a stranger, concurred. (Another person told me, "good question. Someone had to ask it.")