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.


Morning Brief: Saving Fannie's fanny

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Bush administration announced a sweeping rescue package for ailing mortgage titans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson asked Congress for the authority to backstop the troubled companies. In a separate move, the Federal Reserve also opened an emergency lending window for them. Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether firms are keeping the lid on irresponsible rumor-mongering. Nationwide, as many as 150 banks could fail due to the mortgage crisis. So what went wrong? Julie Creswell explains.

Decision '08

Barack Obama is furious about the cover of the new New Yorker, which caricatures the Illinois senator as an anti-American Muslim. (Andrew Sullivan thought it was "quite funny.")

Obama discussed his foreign policy with Fareed Zakaria.

Obama is to visit Israel and the West Bank next week. He can expect questions about Iran.

The New York Times interviewed John McCain, who does not use e-mail or the Internet.

Middle East and Africa

Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki is walking around Baghdad, handing out cash.

Negotiations over the U.S. troop presence have reportedly broken down after the Maliki government insisted on a date for withdrawal. The Iraqis are also considering dismantling the green zone. This all "presents an enormous opportunity," Barack Obama writes in the New York Times.

Turkey indicted 86 alleged coup plotters.


The approval rating of Colombian President Álvaro Uribe has reached 91 percent. Even Hugo Chávez is sounding conciliatory notes.

Drug cartels are threatening Mexican democracy, Mexico's top spook warned.


Nine U.S. soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack on a forward operating base in Afghanistan.

India's national security advisor blamed Pakistan for the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

North Korea rejected South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's diplomatic overture, but South Korean MPs want to press ahead.


Anheuser-Busch has agreed to be acquired by the Belgium-Based InBev, NV for $52 billion -- thus creating the world's largest beer maker.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed the creation of a "Union for the Mediterranean" and even brought Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out of the doghouse for the event.

French authorities rejected a woman's naturalization application, essentially, because she was too Muslim.

Today's Agenda

The American Civil Liberties Union marks the one millionth addition to the terrorist watch list.

It's Bastille Day in France.

The United Nations is hosting a meeting on the small arms trade.