Jeffrey LewisLeaks and Motives of AQ Khan

I notice that Jeff Smith and Joby Warrick have yet another story
based on documents provided by AQ Khan to Simon Henderson. (For more about the documents, read Henderson’s account in the Times online.)

This story pisses me off. (I suspect the editors, not the reporters, are at fault here.)

The lede to the story is about Iran, but Khan doesn’t give a whit about Iran. He’s telling a story about domestic Pakistani politics. It’s like sending two reporters to watch a production of Othello, and then publishing a story about Ottoman maritime policy. (To refresh: Othello is sent from Venice to Cyprus to defend the island against the Turks. They Turks never appear; their fleet is destroyed in a storm.) The Post actually lists the players as though this were some off-beat summer stock production.

The main allegation is that Iran sent a senior military official, Ali Shamkhani, to Pakistan to pick up three nuclear weapons promised by the Pakistani military. When the Chairman of the Pakistani Joint Chiefs of Staff says they’ll have to discuss that further, all hell breaks loose. The Pakistanis send Shamkhani packing with little more than the promise of some refuse to be provided by AQ Khan from Kahuta:

Khan’s written statement to Henderson states that after [Ali] Shamkhani’s arrival in Islamabad on a government plane, he told the chairman of Pakistan’s Joint Chiefs of Staff committee that “he had come . . . to collect the promised nuclear bombs.”

When the chairman, Adm. Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey, proposed to discuss other matters first and then “see how Pakistan could assist the Iranians in their nuclear program,” Shamkhani reportedly became irate, Khan wrote. He reminded Sirohey that “first Gen. Zia (ul Haq, the Pakistani president until 1988) and then Gen. Beg had promised assistance and nuclear weapons and he had specifically come to collect the same.”


Khan said that after hearing Shamkhani’s demand for three finished weapons, Sirohey demurred and that other ministers backed him up. But Beg pressed then-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her top military aide “to honour (Beg’s) . . . commitment,” Khan wrote.

Under pressure, the aide asked Khan to “get components of two old (P-1) discarded machines and pack them into boxes with 2 sets of drawings,” which were passed to Iran through an intermediary, he said. P-1 is the designation for the centrifuge model used in Pakistan.

I am writing a longer piece about the other two stories in this series as they relate to North Korea, but I have essentially the same complaint about all three: The apparent faith placed in AQ Khan.

There is good reason to be wary of Khan’s statements. He is not an historian, attempting to document the operation of a proliferation network for future scholars, or a journalist with a big scoop. He’s a perp, trying to save his own skin and repair his reputation. His motive is to demonstrate that everything he did, he did:

(1) with the approval, or indeed at the behest, of senior officials in Pakistan (which is not, precisely, the same thing as the Government of Pakistan), and

(2) in the service of Pakistan’s national interest.

That is the gist of Khan’s March 2004 “statement” to the Pakistani government, his handwritten December 10, 2003 letter to his wife Hendrina, and his 5-page description of his government’s nuclear cooperation with China. Indeed, the apparent reason that the Post won’t publish the documents is that they contain a lengthy list of likely litigious Pakistani officials whom Khan accuses of accepting bribes. (In the print version, there is an image of the statement with the name of one of Khan’s employees blacked out.) Khan is implicating others, casting his own actions as having served his country.

The whole Iran angle is just backdrop, like the never-seen Turkish fleet in Othello. The real drama is the fight between the Army and the civilian government, represented by General Beg and Prime Minister Bhutto. In this play, Khan is neither Othello nor Iago. He’s Roderigo — the fool used by one powerful force to get at another, then betrayed.

Seriously, the Post’s theater critic could have written a better story.

Who suggested giving Iran nuclear weapons? Not innocent AQ Khan, but the powerful Army Chief of Staff. Who decided to provide Iran with (old) centrifuges as a consolation prize? Not gentle AQ Khan, but Benazir Bhutto’s military aide. Seriously, I think Khan missed a career writing for stage and film.

Clearly the Iranians were up to no good with Pakistan, as were the Libyans, North Koreans and probably a few others. Khan played a central role in that relationship, so his account is interesting, if not dispositive. But to read Khan’s account of the wrangling in Islamabad as a story about motivations in Tehran is a bizarre editorial choice that speaks volumes about the state of the Post.

If the Post is worried about lawsuits arising from Khan’s allegations, doesn’t that say something about the credibility of the documents? Either the Post should have the courage to publish the documents in full, as David Albright et al. have suggested, or admit that there are real problems with Khan’s credibility.


  1. Cheryl Rofer (History)

    Not to mention that the immediate source of the documents is Simon Henderson, at WINEP, which just might have an opinion about, oh say, bombing Iran.

  2. AussieYank (History)

    First, props on the great write-up Jeffery.

    I think it bears reinforcing that A.Q. Kahn is essentially attempting to portray himself as nothing more than a mid-level bureaucrat. But what he omits, I think, was his advice and position during the decision making process. Being ordered to do something is, frankly, only half the story. As part of an organization, one can be ordered to do something but more often than not one is going to provide analysis, perspective, and recommendations. Even IF Kahn was ordered to distribute this equipment it ignores the fact that he was the one making the recommendation to do it or advocating other positions. Furthermore, just because he balked at outright transferring a handful of nuclear devices to Iran doesn’t mean it was because he was appalled at the idea. For all we know, it was part of some larger strategic calculus and he was advocating they hold out for better terms or a more favorable geopolitical situation.

    It would be fascinating to see the minutes to see just what advice A.Q. Kahn was giving out. Of course, I’m sure such a fine, upstanding human being like Kahn was advising caution, and I’m sure he wasn’t thinking about his ego or (more importantly) his pocket book.

  3. shaheen

    There is another possible reason for the non-publication: the source may not want them to be published. This allows him to continue to appear as “The Keeper of AQK’s secrets”.

    I see the AQK documents as just another piece of evidence: not the whole truth, but not to be dismissed altogether. Most Pakistanis have been lying about the whole affaire anyway.

    Cheryl’s comment is off the mark, as anyone who knows Henderson would know. (Also, very, very few people at WINEP would like to see Iran bombed.)

  4. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    WINEP or not, I have no evidence that Simon Henderson wants to bomb Iran or is in any way dishonest. I’ve met him just once and he seemed genuinely interested in the story of Chinese-Pakistan nuclear cooperation.

    I think he has an interesting treasure trove of documents from a long relationship with Khan that he wants to put in the public record. I don’t think he invented them and have no reason to question his motives.

  5. R Jeffrey Smith (History)

    this rant, including the ad hominem attack on the WP, is beneath you, Jeffrey, and it misrepresents what the story says. you evidently feel it says nothing interesting about the Iranians. you also say with reason that khan is not to be trusted at his word. but there is an agreement between Beg (in 2006), Khan (in 2004), and the senior
    Pakistani witness (in 2009) that the Iranians showed up asking for nuclear weapons assistance. Oakley separately said he thinks Beg approved such assistance. this may be banal to you, because you are already convinced Iran is seeking a bomb. but no one from inside of the
    Pak-Iranian trade had said so previously. it is not correct (as you told me in an e-mail) that Iran admitted seeking nuclear weapons help previously – in fact, they have consistently denied it, and did so again last month. they claimed to the IAEA that in all their interaction with Khan and his colleagues, none of it was aimed at acquiring nuclear weapons (explaining away even the 15-page hemisphere document as something they received unbidden). moreover, the story — contrary to your claims — contains plenty of well-reasoned and not emotional (“pissed off”) cautions that Khan has motives to draw the picture he has (see Sandy Spector quote), and on the issue of who got the money, it makes clear that Khan’s account is not considered plausible by many officials. in short, the passion with which you denounce the news in the article is confounding. to those who dislike the political consequences of hearing that iran tried to buy three nuclear weapons, i say, too bad. the news is that Khan wrote this in 2004. it is what it is.

  6. Cheryl Rofer (History)

    I haven’t met Simon Henderson, and perhaps my snark about bombing Iran was further than WINEP would go. They have not been openly advocating such a step.

    But the timing of the first Henderson-supplied article by Smith and Warrick seemed intended to undercut Obama’s trip to China: evidence from a doubtful source (Khan via Henderson) on activities in 1982 that Smith and Warrick bravely call for Obama to throw in the faces of the Chinese leaders.

    Now they have a Khan-Iran collaboration when Iran is a concern.

    The timing on releasing these documents is up to Henderson, Smith, Warrick, and the WaPo editors. It’s not obvious which is/are responsible.

    I see that one of them has responded. He’s still taking Khan at face value. Seems to me that there are a number of questions that reporters might ask that seem to be absent.

  7. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    Jeff Smith’s comment rehashes a couple of email exchanges.

    Let me try to fill in some of the blanks.

    We disagree about whether or not the fact that an Iranian plane landed in Islamabad in 1987 carrying an official to seek nuclear weapons assistance from Pakistan is, by itself, news.

    I pointed out in an email that I think not. The information is banal because Iran admitted to extensive dealings with the Khan network in this time period, including assistance with nuclear weapons related activities like casting uranium into hemispheres. Surely, at some point an Iranian plane landed in Pakistan to facilitate such transactions.

    The timing is well-established, as is what Pakistan eventually provided. The Iranians deny they wanted a bomb, and will continue to do so, despite the obvious assumption of the Pakistanis and everyone else about their motives.

    Smith quotes Beg, from a 2006 AP interview, as well as a former Pakistani official, saying the Iranian delegation wanted technology for the purpose of building a bomb (as opposed to making fuel). That is, obviously, old news, dating as it does to 2006. (Having a former Pakistani official, even if anonymously, second Beg’s 2006 account, is a good bit of digging, especially since Beg himself has waffled on his statement.)

    So, what’s new about the story? Well, the detail.

    We now know, according to the Post, the name of one of the interlocutors and his itinerary for one of the early contacts that (probably) led to the Khan exchanges. It is historical information, but it is interesting. If you want current intel, however, it would be better to know where they went for dinner. A great kebob stand is worth its weight in gold.

    All kidding aside, the interesting questions are about the particulars of the meetings. The real details in the story in this vein concern an account of a meeting that centered on Beg and Benazir, and how to dispose of their Iranian guest and his difficult request.

    The account of the crucial meeting is from Khan, and Khan alone. That is where my problem with the story starts.

    It makes for fascinating theater. Khan depicts his role as completely innocent, as Beg proposes giving the Iranians actual nuclear weapons and Benazir hesitates, turning to faithful AQ Khan to pawn off some trinkets from Kahuta on the visiting Iranian. It’s fascinating. I’d even put it in the paper.

    But if you believe it just like that, I have a bridge in Rawalpindi to sell you. (I will note that Simon Henderson’s writing exhibit a much greater degree of polite skepticism about Khan and his motives. I will keep recommending his account in the Times.)

    That’s my gripe. Lots of local color. But I don’t trust Khan for a second. He wants to show that his cooperation was authorized and in Pakistan’s interest. This version of events does both for him. It’s perfect — for Khan. Letting Sandy Spector point out that some caution is called for doesn’t really satisfy the requirement that the reporter critically evaluate the evidence.

    As for the Iranians? Interesting, but not dispositive. We knew they had contacts with the Khan network and nobody thinks the Pakistanis are naive. (Indeed, imagine the Pakistani reaction if the Iranians demurred that the technology was for strictly peaceful purposes. They’d be laughed out of the room!)

    I mean really, if this is a smoking gun about Iranian intentions, why is it buried on page A14? Or why hasn’t the post released the documents? It is tantalizing (particularly if, like me, you are already suspicious about the Iranians), but one has to wonder whether there is anything under the mountain of self-serving lies heaped one atop another by AQ Khan.


    As for the claim that AQ Khan saw three nuclear weapons, that one is going to embarrass Mr. Smith. I am not sure why he brought it up. It wasn’t part of our conversations over email. But it is part of a longer piece of I am writing about the previous two installments in the Khan leaks. Stay tuned.

    I will say, however, that I find it offensive that he might suggest that I doubt AQ Khan because I don’t like the political consequences of Khan’s statements. It is awfully rude, not least because Smith decided to let Bob Joseph, no disinterested observer himself, sum it one of the previous stories for readers.

    I didn’t presume anything about Smith’s motives. I certainly could have suggested he rushed three stories into print without checking on whether they’d already been reported (yep!) or whether they were plausible (eh, not so much) because he wanted a headline, or that he is now just acting sore because his big scoop got buried on page A14.

    That would be insulting to him, not least because it presumes that I understand his motives. I don’t. Having read these stories and traded a couple of emails, I haven’t a clue as to why he’d write such things. Happily, as it turns out, there are enough flaws in the three stories to keep us busy without going there.


    Finally, in one of his emails, Smith noted that I acted as though I knew more about his cache of documents than he did. It is a fair point, though telling. The aim of this post was to endorse David Albright’s call to release the documents. It’s fine to point out that we don’t have access to the documents, but that’s because Smith won’t share them.


    Finally, I am sorry I said I was “pissed.” Clearly it offended some people and some colleagues in the UK apparently misunderstood me to mean that I was blogging while inebriated.

  8. Simon Henderson (History)

    Readers who might be interested in what I have written about Khan in recent years should check out:

    I notice that the Iranian government has condemned the latest story as propaganda. And the Pakistani government has called it fiction. But they would, wouldn’t they?

  9. Georg Schoefbaenker (History)

    IMHO I recommend two urgent readings:

    Iran tried to buy nuclear bomb from Pakistan as early as 1987
    Haaretz March 15, 2010

    Final destination Iran?
    Hundreds of powerful US “bunker-buster” bombs are being shipped from California to the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in preparation for a possible attack on Iran.

    Herald Scotland
    March 14, 2010

    Somewhat in the last months reminds me utterly of the semantic media hypes and patterns pre Iraq war 2003.

  10. k_w (History)

    According to Scott Ritter’s “Target Iran”, Libya assisted in revealing the A. C. Khan nuclear network, after which the country became our friend again. Libya and Iran were sent two identical packages containing centrifuges and various design studies, military ones included. So, this story is a rather old one, and everything in it has been investigated by the IAEA.

  11. R Jeffrey Smith (History)

    The claim we reported is that Shamkhani sought to buy three weapons. These are, alas, very different than the weapons Khan claims to have seen in NK. Mr. Lewis has confused the two stories. The idea that Khan alone delineated how Shamkhani’s request was answered is not correct. It was confirmed by the official we spoke to recently, as the story makes clear. With regard to seeing the documents, they were provided to us to review and report on. But they are, in essence, Mr. Henderson’s to release. Those who are eager to see them are free to ring him directly. But I think he will say that you will have to wait until the final thread, not yet reported, plays out. As to the coincidence between publication of the stories and the flow of news: Well, I am just shocked. Shocked. Imagine running an article at a moment when the topic in it is of intense public interest. What an astounding conspiracy. Those newspapers will stoop pretty low, it turns out.

  12. nick (History)

    I think it is very well known that WP in general, and Fred Hiatt of this organization in particular, have been pushing unsubstantiated stories about Iran’s nuclear program for months now. The recent poll numbers that 70% of Americans believe that Iran has nuclear weapons clearly shows that, as in the run up to Iraq war, major news outlets continue to shape foreign policy, with potential dire consequences. This type of journalism where only one side of the story is reported dangerously adds to the “bomb Iran” narrative, even if WINEP scholars are totally against it, which incidentally I do not believe to be the case. Just read Ross and Makovsky’s book or articles by other experts at WINEP (Clawson, etc..), to see the level of confrontation being sought by these guys.

  13. anon

    I wouldn’t say you were inebriated – rather more full of yourself would be more accurate.

  14. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    I also meant to add, regarding the negative comments on WINEP, I really think you have to judge each person individually and take his or her arguments on the merits. I happen to think highly of Michael Eisenstadt, among others.

    There are just a few “think tanks” in Washington that establish a party line; I don’t think WINEP is one.

  15. archjr (History)

    I have to say this is one of the most spirited and useful exchanges on ACW in some time, if a little snarky.

    In a slightly different direction, I would like to hear from folks who know a little more about General Beg (Army Chief of Staff from 88-91), whose job it presumably was to keep Benazir in the dark about what was happening in the Pakistani nuclear program. Issue number one will remain who actually controlled or controls those activities, the military (the most stable institution in Pakistan since partition) or a series of unstable and short-lived civilian governments, including the nefarious deeds of Dr. Khan, and to what end debates resulted in high-level decisions or renegade actions to get Iran what it wanted. Most analysts in the late 1980’s believed it highly unlikely that Pakistan would proliferate a nuclear capability it had so costly obtained, particularly to Iran next door, although the possibility was never fully discounted.

    Here’s a teaser in this dangerous soap opera: I met Gen. Beg and Ms. Bhutto personally, with former Rep. Steve Solarz and others in January 1989. In a separate meeting with Beg, several subjects were covered, many at his insistence, including a ten-minute ramble about his views of Pakistan’s strategic position and the idea he held of “the Greater Hindu Kush,” sort of like Pakistan’s “near abroad,” over which he thought Pakistan had every right and responsibility to exert influence. When asked about Iran, General Beg carefully and convincingly replied that Pakistan’s interest was to maintain cordial relations with its neighbor and work on shared concerns. His sketch of Pakistan’s strategic vision was his attempt to educate his American visitors on the region at large, rather than focus exclusively on the rivalry with India. After which he made an extraordinary offer to place all Pakistani facilities under safeguards prospectively, so long as any material produced by that point could be excluded. It was a kind of freeze in their program he was suggesting that would allow them to retain what they had produced to that point for a minimum deterrent against India, or at least that’s what I concluded.. Remember at this point the Pakistanis were up against the Pressler amendment, finally and agonizingly invoked shortly after Benazir left office the first time in the fall of 1990. Beg was certainly aware that discussions with the Bush 41 administration were running out of time the closer Pakistan got to the Pressler red line of “possession.” My impression was he knew a hell of a lot more than did the new Prime Minister (then just a 35-year-old girl, after all).

    (Not important, but gossipy, I stayed up late that night preparing a memo for Steve on the legislative restrictions that would have to be waived in order to accept Beg’s seeming offer, and resolve the dispute over the F-16’s and related stuff that had been suspended, I think, at that point.. Any waiver was a long shot, but became moot immediately when Steve hinted at a deal to stop Pakistan’s program in a press conference, heavily attended by Pakistani and Indian journalists, upon his return to DC. But no matter all the “shoulda-coulda-woulda’s.”)

    So here are the questions we should be asking:

    The most obvious: how much leeway did Khan have? Somebody obviously knew what he was doing. He doubtless made a lot of money, and so did others, but could the sales to Iran be only about the money? What was the Pakistanis’ vision years hence? Did they simply assume they would soon be faced with yet another nuclear neighbor anyway, so they might as well make the best of it, control it any way they could? What the hell were they thinking sending this stuff, even crappy P-1’s, to an Iranian “revolutionary” government next door that to all else seemed at best a bit wacko?

    The deeper question goes back to “the Greater Hindu Kush,” mostly related to Afghanistan, and to Pakistan’s strategic view. Very little has been written on the subject, but the better we are able to understand Pakistan’s view of the world and nuclear weapons in it (and that of India, Iran, and others in the region), it seems to me the better us folks might be able to figure out how to respond, if we can in any meaningful way. The “West” has not done well so far.

    This subject, I submit, also bears much more research where possible, and can provide fodder for this blog or somewhere else for a long time.

  16. hass (History)

    Are we seriously supposed to believe that Pakistan would simply give Iran nuclear weapons out of …what, religious sentiment? First of all, the relations between Pakistan and Iran were never that good, and secondly, countries with even excellent relations don’t go around handing nuclear weapons to each other. Add to that the obvious potential for bias of WINEP (sorry, but it is an AIPAC mouthpiece, and AIPAC has a definite agenda with respect to Iran even though they won’t necessarily admit to it overtly) and the long history of CIA involvement with Khan (who made the Dutch release Khan and how did his court file go missing?) not to mention Urs Tinner, all lead to one question: where’s the evidence that Iran wants nukes? Why hasn’t the IAEA found this? If the Iranians were so interested in nukes, why haven’t they built one already? (Pakistan built theirs in 5 years, Iran has been “just six months way” for 25 years) and why have the Iranians offered to open their nuclear program to joint US participation? Is that what a country seeking nukes would do?

  17. masoud (History)

    Let me get this straight:
    In 1987 the then chief commander of the IRGC ground force/deputy chief of staff in charge of intelligence, with one of the bloodiest wars of the last century raging in full force gets into a plane and flies to Islamabad. Once in Pakistan he tells his hosts “now look here, we paid you guys for three bombs but you haven’t delivered any. That’s not fair! Now be a pal and load three of them there nuc-u-lar devices in the back, and i’ll be on my way”. The Pakistan’s were completely unprepared to deal with the eventuality that a customer they sold nuclear weapons to would actually try and arrange for their delivery and consequently had not developed any contingency plans for such an eventuality. Blindsided, they quickly consult the valiant A.Q.Khan, who cleverly suggests that they appease Gen. Shamankhani by boxing up a couple of dilapidated centrifuge components. Shamankhani, who apparently got to where he is by either not being very bright or something of a push over, was just unprepared for such a bold negotiating maneuver. Knowing he was in over his head he reluctantly accepts what the Pakistanis offered and returns to Tehran. Just another day in the life of Pakistan’s Super Scientist.

    Now I can see why a fellow at AIPAC’s think tank would publish this kind of nonsense, what i can’t figure is why anyone else would even pretend to take him seriously.

  18. John McGlynn (History)

    In regard to the Simon Henderson, Michael Eisenstadt and other folks at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), Jeffrey Lewis ask us “to judge each person individually and take his or her arguments on the merits.”

    To do that, consider a key WINEP report on how to tackle Iran, The Last Resort: Consequences of Preventive Military Action against Iran (June 2008), by Patrick Clawson and Michael Eisenstadt.

    Clawson, as deputy researcher director, appears to be WINEP’s #2 in charge, and, as director of the institute’s Iran Security Initiative, the point man on how to deal with Iran.

    Eisenstadt is also a top guy at WINEP, a Senior Fellow and director of the institute’s Military & Security Studies Program.

    As the title suggests, the Clawson/Eisenstadt report recommends taking preventive action against Iran (because, the report say, the alternative, deterrence, is more daunting). When should preventive action be taken? “Should diplomacy fail to halt Tehran’s nuclear program, and should Tehran continue to make slow but steady progress toward accumulating fissile material for a possible weapons program.” Making these determinations, the report makes quite clear, will be up to policy makers in Washington (Hillary Clinton, for one, has already decided diplomacy has failed).

    Fissile material? What “steady progress toward accumulating fissile material” means is not made clear. But the authors do write that preventive action should happen “before enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon has been produced,” which, if this is the acceptable criterion, gives license to let the bombs start falling at any point between zero and not enough.

    Incidentally, the report notes, declared IAEA-supervised nuclear facilities will have to be destroyed. Clawson/Eisenstadt readily admit they don’t know if any clandestine facilities exist, but no matter, because it is the “declared facilities that could produce the fissile material for a nuclear weapon without relying on clandestine facilities.” Apparently we’re supposed to believe that the zero-to-not-enough fissile material will be produced under the watchful eye of the IAEA (as for proof of actual or planned nuclear weapons production, not important).

    Simon Henderson’s view of Iran? “[T]here is little reason for confidence that Iran would be honest in declaring all its facilities. Even if Iran showed willingness to take a diplomatic route toward resolving doubts about its program, the standards imposed by the United States would probably be stricter than those of other members of the international community.” (Iran’s Nuclear Program: Lessons from Pakistan, WINEP Policy Watch #1562, July 30, 2009) There’s nothing factual in the piece to justify the first sentence. As for diplomacy, IAEA supervision, international law — it seems ultimately they don’t matter; just the “standards imposed by the United States.” A perfect fit with Clawson/Eisenstadt.

    There’s lots more in Last Resort and other WINEP reports on how to box in and provoke Iran and run international PR campaigns to justify another March 2003-Iraq-style attack.

    WINEP’s party line is clear: contempt for international law and never flinch from arguing new ways to vist more horrors on the Middle East.

  19. M Ahmed (History)
  20. wise


    That is great observation and very well written.

  21. Bahram Chubin (History)

    Scott Ritter’s detailed commentary on this story:

    Any reactions?

  22. Bahram Chubin (History)

    I tried to post something in this thread, and it was rejected twice. It was basically a link to an article of Scott Ritter, without any opinion of my own. Personally, I am not in a position to evaluate the contents of Ritter’s essay, but he used to be a weapons inspector, and what he has to say is not without relevance.

    There is a disheartening element in all of this. If moderators stated and followed clear rules, I would certainly follow them.

    I am no less busy than the moderators of this blog, and I don’t wish to waste my time or theirs. When a comment is rejected, the time spent on writing it is wasted. That is why it is useful to give potential contributors some sense of what is unacceptable.

    Also, if a moderator rejected a contribution because he doesn’t like the author cited or his point of view, that would be disappointing.