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Saturday, Nov 27, 2021
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Opinion

The Mole Letter: Disinformation

Curiouser and curiouser. The Mole letter contains Indian spellings and many other curiosities: 'Shri Jaswant Singh may like to advise his publishers to suspend the sale of this book till the authenticity of the letter is established'.

The Mole Letter: Disinformation
| AP
The Mole Letter: Disinformation
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

The copy of the letter purported to have been written by a senior American diplomat based in India to a US Senator in 1995 as reproduced by a leading magazine in its latest issue contains many curiosities. Some of them are mentioned below:  

  • Even though the letter is purported to have been written by a US diplomat, it uses Indian spellings. For example, Americans say "Defense" and not "Defence" -- you would see they call Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Secretary and not Defence Secretary.  How come the US diplomat has throughout used the spelling "Defence" and not "Defense"?

  • He has addressed the letter apparently to a senior Senator, who must be a well-informed person knowing the various US Govt. Departments and the abbreviations by which they are known.  What is the need for the diplomat to expand abbreviations for the benefit of the Senator? At one place he has used the abbreviation ACDA and given, within brackets, the expansion as Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. What was the need for it? It is like my addressing a letter to you, using the abbreviation MEA and expanding it for your benefit as the Ministry of External Affairs.

  • The tense used in the letter is confusing.  The letter touches upon the discussions, which the US diplomat is supposed to have had with two persons--" a person with direct access to Prime Minister" and  " a more junior official". The meeting with the person with direct access to the Prime Minster was held by the diplomat as that person "departed for a secret meeting in Bangalore where the issue of nuclear testing will be put before the Prime Minister". The diplomat wrote the letter before the US Thanksgiving Day, which falls on the fourth Thursday of November every year because he says he gave that person the telephone numbers on which he (the diplomat) could be contacted on Thanksgiving Day.

  • While giving the background of the more junior official for the benefit of the Senator, the US diplomat says "this person participated in the Bangalore conference where he had been an advocate of incremental steps including placing some Indian reactors under safeguards." How does the US diplomat refer in a letter written before the Bangalore meeting to an account given by the junior official of what he said at the Bangalore meeting?

  • There are confusing references to where the two meetings were held. From the letter it is obvious that these were not one-to-one meetings. While describing his meeting with the person with direct access to the Prime Minister, the diplomat says "I had limited time talking with him outside of ear shot of others". While describing his meeting with the more junior official, the diplomat says "an interesting debate took place on France. One person, who knows France said..." Apparently, both these discussions were held on an occasion when others were also present. How does the diplomat's letter give the impression as if the first meeting took place before the Bangalore meeting and the other after the Bangalore meeting, but both have been covered in a letter to the Senator sent before the Bangalore meeting?

I noticed many other such curiosities in the letter. I got a strong impression that this was a disinformation piece drafted in India by an Indian and not by a US diplomat.  Shri Jaswant Singh  may  like to advise his  publishers to suspend the sale of this book till the authenticity of the letter is established.


(B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai)
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