Contact: Roland Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org
IN THE BURMA NUCLEAR SCOOP
August 3, 2009
To: Desmond Ball and Phil Thornton
Is it too
much to ask to be given a little credit, when credit is due? Your articles this
past weekend in the Sydney Morning Herald and Bangkok Post about
Burma's nuclear program contained some new information and one new source ("Tin
Min"). However, they also included more than ten pieces of information that
Dictator Watch first reported.
In the primary SMH article, Burmas
For the defector "Moe Jo," we had first
access to his interrogation debriefing, by border-based groups upon his arrival
in Thailand; we asked him follow-up questions; and we published his claims (among
other intel) that the SPDC wanted a nuclear bomb by 2020 (published in August
2008), and that there was a large State Scholar program with Russia in support
of this (which info we first published in November 2006, from other sources).
In our Moe Jo-sourced articles, we did not reveal that he was a defector
we were trying to protect his family.
In the SMH article on your work by
Hamish McDonald, Revealed: Burmas nuclear bombshell:
say: "Another Moscow-trained Burmese Army defector was picked up by U.S.
intelligence agencies last year." We had access to, and published intelligence
from, this defector's border debriefing as well.
This article further states
that "Burma protested to Thailand about overflights by unmanned surveillance
drones that were apparently launched across the Thai territory by U.S. agencies."
Dictator Watch was the first to reveal the use of the drones (in November 2008).
the BP article, Burmas nuclear bomb alive and ticking:
mention that the SPDC has a uranium milling and enrichment facility at Tha Beik
Kyin. We first disclosed this information (November 2006), although we view the
enrichment claim at this point as unconfirmed (evidence for it, though, is building).
We also first disclosed that there were at least two uranium mills (January 2007).
We further believe that there may be a reactor at Tha Beik Kyin. In any case,
there are three suspected reactor sites: Myaing in Magwe; Tha Beik Kyin; and the
Setkhya Mountains (which many people have been speculating about for years, including
Dictator Watch starting in January 2007, and which you identify as Naung Laing,
which location we previously identified in November 2008).
the SPDC's five uranium deposits listed on its Ministry of Energy website. After
extensive Internet research, I was the one who found this website, and publicized
its existence (in January 2007).
You talk about the Google Earth photos
of the suspected Myit Nge uranium operation. An associate of Dictator Watch scanned
all the non-cost satellite imagery available for Burma, and identified this site
(among others), which photos we published (in March 2007).
plutonium reprocessing at Naung Laing. We first disclosed that the SPDC's nuclear
program might extend to plutonium (in August 2008).
You also talk about
weaponization research at Naung Laing, which we also disclosed earlier (in November
More generally, Dictator Watch and many Burmese media groups have
published extensive intel about the connections between the SPDC and North Korea.
For example, we revealed the involvement of the businessman Tayza (in August 2007),
which your source Tin Min has now confirmed.
In consideration of all of
this, don't journalistic ethics demand the acknowledgment of other journalists,
or sources such as advocacy groups, who first break a story - who get the scoop?
of information about the SPDC's nuclear program (other than the 2001 announcement
of the Russian reactor deal), first began to appear about five years ago, notably
by the Democratic Voice of Burma and the Shan Herald Agency for News. Then, in
2006, we at Dictator Watch were entrusted with information that had not yet been
made public. We asked for permission to disclose the intel, and received it.
the process, we also learned of other sources of intel and conceived a broader
program to collect information from different parties in the Burma Pro-Democracy
Movement. Since November 2006, we have published sixteen articles with intelligence
and/or intelligence analysis of Burma's nuclear and missile programs, including
its connections with North Korea, Russia, China and Iran.
This is much
more than what you describe in your articles: "There have been hints Burma
aspires to a nuclear program." This statement is a self-serving mischaracterization,
if not a complete lie. (It is inconceivable that you are not aware of Dictator
Watchs intelligence initiative.)
It is extremely gratifying that
the Burma nuclear story is finally receiving widespread coverage. This has only
occurred, though, because of the Kang Nam 1: the fact that U.S. intel about the
North Korean freighter was leaked, and that the U.S. was forced to recognize the
Dictator Watch should be identified as a source in any analysis
of the SPDC's program, if our disclosures are used. This would further give credit
to the many different people who have assisted us, some of whom have been killed
or imprisoned (but in either case, not because of their involvement with us).
such credit isn't given, isn't this known as plagiarism?
Or, do you only
feel obliged to credit other journalists and academics?
To the Bangkok
Post: Thank you for printing my letter yesterday stating that we should have
been given credit. To the Sydney Morning Herald, which did not print the
letter: You owe Dictator Watch an apology, for not properly vetting Ball and Thorntons
representation that their sources and information were in fact original.