The Final Nail In The Coffin Of Richard Silverstein’s Credibility

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Anti-Israel blogger Richard Silverstein has had a hell of a crappy week.

It started off with being roundly mocked and condemned for harassing a palestinian woman for criticizing Hamas.

His ego was further deflated after his bullying attempt on a young woman filming at an event was unsuccessful (and caught on film).

But just when he probably thought things could not get worse, they did.

It was just revealed he has been “duped” by one of his infamous “anonymous sources.”

richard silversteinWhen blogger Richard Silverstein isn’t expressing support for the end of the Jewish statedefending terror groups like Hamas, or engaging in smears and reckless attacks against his opponents, he’s often busy peddling false “scoops based on little or no evidence.  

These “scoops” by Silverstein (who’s an occasional contributor to ‘Comment is Free’) at a blog he calls ‘Tikun Olam’, have at times been cited by the BBC, Der Spiegel, The Daily Telegraph, and the New York Times.

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A few days ago, we were contacted by an Israeli who’s aware of Silverstein’s penchant for publishing “scoops” based on little or no research or fact-checking.  He explained how he recently fed Silverstein completely made-up stories, selling them as “scoops”, to see if he would bite.

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That same day, Silverstein reported the following, quoting verbatim his “anonymous Israeli source” in a post titled “Israeli Drones Fallin’ from the Skies Like Flies: Third UAV Sabotaged by Hacking.”

The UAV didn’t crash, the UAV control center lost communication due to heavy interference in the COM link. After few very long minutes at which the re establish comm procedure failed, the CCC (control center commander) ordered the self-destruction of the UAV. There was lots of drama as it appeared the UAV had a mind of its own or that someone gained positive control.

Then, on Oct. 13 the Israeli “source” sent him the following concocted tale, purporting to represent secret information on another Israeli drone failure.

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And, two days later, in a post titled ‘Iran Hacks Azerbaijan’s Israeli-Made Drone Fleet‘, Silverstein wrote that his “Israeli source” revealed that “the Iranians have hacked Azerbaijan’s Israeli-made drone fleet as well.” Silverstein then quoted directly from the email he received:

Using [a nearly identical drone] to the fallen Hermes 450, several months ago IAF…drones also failed in Azerbaijan.  [They were] using the Azery Hermes control units with some temporary modifications [paralleling those of] Israeli drones signals.  The training exercise failed after similar concerns of successful Iranian penetration were raised.

Again, Silverstein immediately published completely fabricated information. 

Well, evidently, shortly after these two posts, he was being ridiculed on the Israeli forum Fresh’, and finally realized he had no choice but to admit that he published erroneous information.  In a post titled ‘The Art of the con’, Silverstein wrote:

After the latest crash, I received an anonymous e-mail from someone purporting to be an insider who knew about the crashes and the reasons for them

This is extremely misleading. The ‘source’ didn’t establish his credentials.

The Israeli security forum, Fresh, began to post material about the story with a link to my post.  At a later point, a forum Admin posted a notice that I had received an e-mail from a source they knew and they predicted what the message said and what I would write in my post.  If I had seen that Fresh posting I would’ve known of the fraud earlier and stopped using this source.

Again, you have to wonder why Silverstein even considered this anonymous person to be a “source” in the first place.

my earlier reporting on Israeli drone failures derives from a trusted source, as I noted.  In order to dampen the potential for scandal of a major military system facing repeated failures, the IAF or others involved with Israeli intelligence wanted to discredit those reports.  That would mean any subsequent reporting by me or others on this theme would be immediately brought into question.  It would also tend to discredit any future reporting I did on any subject involving Israeli national security or intelligence.

This being said, this has taught me lessons and also ‘enriched’ my view of Israel’s intelligence apparatus and its methods.  First, no stories will be published here from anonymous sources.  

He then tries to turn it around, and place the blame on Israelis.

Readers ought to give some thought to why Israelis feel the need to perpetrate hoaxes.  They need to put up a smokescreen that conceals truths that are perceived as damaging to Israeli interests.  One of the ways they deem effective is to engage in deception that discredits an enemy.  But the use of deception on as wide a scale as Israel uses officially, forces outsiders to discount anything they hear from such sources.

First, the suggestion that this particular hoax was orchestrated by Israeli officials is comical. Silverstein’s “source” in the stories he cited didn’t even attempt to establish his security credentials, nor did he explain how the “inside information” was obtained in the first place.

Moreover, it should be noted that CiF Watch, as with other blogs and news sites, similarly receives emails from readers claiming they have inside information.  However, as we take our mission and our credibility seriously, we don’t simply copy and paste text from anonymous emails into blog posts and legitimize the information as a “scoop” by a “secret source” without first meticulously corroborating the claim.

Read the entire thing.

This is, of course, not the first time he has been duped. You may recall he fell for our own sting, but his credibility was not totally lost since revealing my “identity” is not a national security issue (At least not yet!). And don’t forget the plethora of embarrassing errors, lies and sloppiness, a list that is expanding all of the time. However, I think he has really cooked his goose this time (instead of being the goose that laid the golden egg as he originally thought!)

I would just add that Silverstein’s response is typical. He tries to argue how big it is of him to admit his error, something the pro-Israel crowd who duped him would never do! Of course, he fails to mention that they wouldn’t rely on anonymous sources that haven’t been vetted, but he has never been one for honesty. In short, while he tries to turn the lemons into lemonade, he only succeeds in looking sour.

I would just conclude this post by saying if you hear from an anonymous source that I am unhappy about Silverstein’s complete loss of credibility and the likelihood no-one in the media will turn to him for his opinion ever again, I would suggest you are being duped.

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