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Will Israel attack Iran? Consider the source.

Over the weekend, Drudge and a good chunk of the blogosphere linked credulously to this story in The Times of London, written by one Uzi Mahnaimi. The story alleges that U.S. President George W. Bush has given Israel an "amber light" to attack Iran, according to a "senior Pentagon official."

Amber means get on with your preparations, stand by for immediate attack and tell us when you're ready," the official said.

If you read the entire piece, you'll see that it doesn't quite live up to its dramatic headline: "President George W Bush backs Israeli plan for strike on Iran." (The official is later quoted as saying, "If there is no solid plan, the amber will never turn to green," he said.)

The alarmism isn't entirely Mahnaimi's fault, since editors usually choose headlines. But our friend Uzi has a track record of breathless stories about alleged Israeli preparations to attack Iran. Here's one from January 2007 (using tactical nukes!), and another from December 2005. Or we could go back to July 2004. And remember that attack on Gaza? Mahnaimi is also notorious for reporting in 1998 that Israel was developing a biological weapon -- an "ethnic bomb" -- that would only kill Arabs.

The real story here is that the Israelis have developed plans to hit Iran's nuclear facilities -- did anyone think they hadn't? -- but the United States (correctly) thinks it's a bad idea. Read Jim Hoagland. He gets this story right.

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