Today, the Nobel Committee issued a strong rebuke to the Bush administration by awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to IAEA head Mohamed El Baradei.
In response, the Secretary of State Rice said in a statement, “I congratulate the International Atomic Energy Agency and its Director General, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, on being awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.” Last year, the administration was less generous with their praise. In fact, it launched a smear campaign to prevent ElBaradei from returning for a third-term as head of the nuclear watchdog agency.
In its efforts to bring him down, the administration leaked false intelligence about Egypt:
Diplomats in Vienna suspect the story circulating in the press about a clandestine nuclear program in Egypt is part of an American-led campaign to oust the head of the international agency charged with preventing the proliferation of atomic weapons. [New York Sun, 1/5/05]
And tapped his phone:
The Bush administration has dozens of intercepts of Mohamed ElBaradei’s phone calls with Iranian diplomats and is scrutinizing them in search of ammunition to oust him as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to three U.S. government officials. [Washington Post, 12/12/04]
Why did the administration want him out so badly? It disagreed with ElBaradei about Iraq’s nonexistent WMD program. El Baradei, if you’ll recall, turned out to be right.