Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Just read Tim Noah's piece in Slate on the French reaction to our Iraq evidence. In it, he refers to "the aluminum tubes Powell says are for enriching uranium that could just as easily be used for making rockets - a gray area that [I] never got into and that Powell didn't need to make his case." Now, I remembered reading a number of pieces saying that the aluminum tubes in question were anodized, and therefore not useable for enriching uranium. Naturally, as a blogger, I felt a strong desire to simply regurgitate this as fact, and email Noah my 'findings'. But I've got a couple of projects I'm trying to procrastinate on, so I decided to go ahead and dig a little.

Sure enough, I found tons of bloggers saying that the tubes were anodized and therefore not useful for enriching uranium. But that don't make it true, so I kept digging. I found an ISIS report on IraqWatch (dated 9/23/02) that put the kibosh on my research: "An anodized layer on the inside of the tube, however, should work fine in a centrifuge, according to an expert involved in the development of Zippe-type centrifuges in the 1950s and 1960s."

Noah's generally on the ball, so I wasn't too surprised to find that he was right and I was wrong. But I was still trying to procrastinate, so I kept digging, hoping to get a clearer grasp on the issue. The next link was another copy of the ISIS report, but the summary Google kicked up was a little different, and it was the copy hosted on ISIS' own site. Turns out it was revised 10/9/02. The paragraph on anodizing in this version ends a little differently: "An anodized layer on the inside of the tube, however, can result in hampering the operation of the centrifuge, according to an expert involved in the development of Zippe-type centrifuges in the 1950s and 1960s."

And the media wonders why people are confused about this war.

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