"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Syrian “Intervention”: Making The World Safe For Banksters

In Uncategorized on September 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Oldspeak: “D’oh! U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry may have royally screwed the pooch on the war plan by saying”that Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, could avoid strikes by agreeing to give up his chemical weapons. “He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week — turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting,” . He inadvertently gave the Syrians an out! The Russians, eager to protect one of their last remaining client states in the middle east, jumped on the opportunity to avoid regime change, by making the Syrians agree to give up their chemical weapons ASAP and the Syrians have “welcomed it”. So now the warmongers have to pump their brakes and possibly halt the escalation of their proxy war with the Russians. One has to wonder why the Nobel Peace Prize winner has been soooo hot to go to war on flimsy intelligence and amidst reports that both sides are guilty of war crimes? All for bombing, with detailed, documented, technically compliant & publicly available reports of atrocities committed by Syrian rebels, including releases of chemical weapons?! Why is bombing Syria an option after an alleged, unconfirmed and still being investigated Syrian government chemical weapons release, but not after a confirmed report of rebel chemical weapons release, known of since APRIL!? Greg Palast and Ellen Hodges Brown may have uncovered the answer:

Greg Palast posted evidence of a secret late-1990s plan devised by Wall Street and U.S. Treasury officials to open banking to the lucrative derivatives business. To pull this off required the relaxation of banking regulations not just in the US but globally. The vehicle to be used was the Financial Services Agreement of the World Trade Organization. The “end-game” would require not just coercing support among WTO members but taking down those countries refusing to join. Some key countries remained holdouts from the WTO, including Iraq, Libya, Iran and Syria. In these Islamic countries, banks are largely state-owned; and “usury” – charging rent for the “use” of money – is viewed as a sin, if not a crime. That puts them at odds with the Western model of rent extraction by private middlemen. Publicly-owned banks are also a threat to the mushrooming derivatives business, since governments with their own banks don’t need interest rate swaps, credit default swaps, or investment-grade ratings by private rating agencies in order to finance their operations….

Countries laboring under the yoke of an extractive private banking system are being forced into “structural adjustment” and austerity by their unrepayable debt. But some countries have managed to escape. In the Middle East, these are the targeted “rogue nations.” Their state-owned banks can issue the credit of the state on behalf of the state, leveraging public funds for public use without paying a massive tribute to private middlemen. Generous state funding allows them to provide generously for their people.

Like Libya and Iraq before they were embroiled in war, Syria provides free education at all levels and free medical care. It also provides subsidized housing for everyone (although some of this has been compromised by adoption of an IMF structural adjustment program in 2006 and the presence of about 2 million Iraqi and Palestinian refugees). Iran too provides nearly free higher education and primary health care.

Like Libya and Iraq before takedown, Syria and Iran have state-owned central banks that issue the national currency and are under government control. Whether these countries will succeed in maintaining their financial sovereignty in the face of enormous economic, political and military pressure remains to be seen.” –Ellen Hodges Brown

So no, this war is not about preventing the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. It’s about money. Specifically unregulated  and private gambling with other people’s money, then forcing them to pay when the gamble goes bad. It’s about aggressively continuing the relentless march of  Really Existing Capitalist Democracy around the world. Everything privatized. All under corprocratic control and surveillance. A globally controlled debt creation & extraction system, that no one can avoid paying tribute to; religion be damned. Oh, and securing Syria’s oil and routes for gas pipelines. -OSJ

By Ellen Hodges Brown @ Web Of Debt:

The powers of financial capitalism had another far reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole.

— Prof. Caroll Quigley, Georgetown University, Tragedy and Hope (1966)

Iraq and Libya have been taken out, and Iran has been heavily boycotted. Syria is now in the cross-hairs. Why? Here is one overlooked scenario. 

In an August 2013 article titled “Larry Summers and the Secret ‘End-game’ Memo,” Greg Palast posted evidence of a secret late-1990s plan devised by Wall Street and U.S. Treasury officials to open banking to the lucrative derivatives business. To pull this off required the relaxation of banking regulations not just in the US but globally. The vehicle to be used was the Financial Services Agreement of the World Trade Organization.

The “end-game” would require not just coercing support among WTO members but taking down those countries refusing to join. Some key countries remained holdouts from the WTO, including Iraq, Libya, Iran and Syria. In these Islamic countries, banks are largely state-owned; and “usury” – charging rent for the “use” of money – is viewed as a sin, if not a crime. That puts them at odds with the Western model of rent extraction by private middlemen. Publicly-owned banks are also a threat to the mushrooming derivatives business, since governments with their own banks don’t need interest rate swaps, credit default swaps, or investment-grade ratings by private rating agencies in order to finance their operations.

Bank deregulation proceeded according to plan, and the government-sanctioned and -nurtured derivatives business mushroomed into a $700-plus trillion pyramid scheme. Highly leveraged, completely unregulated, and dangerously unsustainable, it collapsed in 2008 when investment bank Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, taking a large segment of the global economy with it. The countries that managed to escape were those sustained by public banking models outside the international banking net.

These countries were not all Islamic. Forty percent of banks globally are publicly-owned. They are largely in the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China—which house forty percent of the global population. They also escaped the 2008 credit crisis, but they at least made a show of conforming to Western banking rules. This was not true of the “rogue” Islamic nations, where usury was forbidden by Islamic teaching. To make the world safe for usury, these rogue states had to be silenced by other means. Having failed to succumb to economic coercion, they wound up in the crosshairs of the powerful US military.

Here is some data in support of that thesis.

The End-game Memo

In his August 22nd article, Greg Palast posted a screenshot of a 1997 memo from Timothy Geithner, then Assistant Secretary of International Affairs under Robert Rubin, to Larry Summers, then Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. Geithner referred in the memo to the “end-game of WTO financial services negotiations” and urged Summers to touch base with the CEOs of Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, Citibank, and Chase Manhattan Bank, for whom private phone numbers were provided.

The game then in play was the deregulation of banks so that they could gamble in the lucrative new field of derivatives. To pull this off required, first, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the 1933 Act that imposed a firewall between investment banking and depository banking in order to protect depositors’ funds from bank gambling. But the plan required more than just deregulating US banks. Banking controls had to be eliminated globally so that money would not flee to nations with safer banking laws. The “endgame” was to achieve this global deregulation through an obscure addendum to the international trade agreements policed by the World Trade Organization, called the Financial Services Agreement. Palast wrote:

Until the bankers began their play, the WTO agreements dealt simply with trade in goods–that is, my cars for your bananas.  The new rules ginned-up by Summers and the banks would force all nations to accept trade in “bads” – toxic assets like financial derivatives.

Until the bankers’ re-draft of the FSA, each nation controlled and chartered the banks within their own borders.  The new rules of the game would force every nation to open their markets to Citibank, JP Morgan and their derivatives “products.”

And all 156 nations in the WTO would have to smash down their own Glass-Steagall divisions between commercial savings banks and the investment banks that gamble with derivatives.

The job of turning the FSA into the bankers’ battering ram was given to Geithner, who was named Ambassador to the World Trade Organization.

WTO members were induced to sign the agreement by threatening their access to global markets if they refused; and they all did sign, except Brazil. Brazil was then threatened with an embargo; but its resistance paid off, since it alone among Western nations survived and thrived during the 2007-2009 crisis. As for the others:

The new FSA pulled the lid off the Pandora’s box of worldwide derivatives trade.  Among the notorious transactions legalized: Goldman Sachs (where Treasury Secretary Rubin had been Co-Chairman) worked a secret euro-derivatives swap with Greece which, ultimately, destroyed that nation.  Ecuador, its own banking sector de-regulated and demolished, exploded into riots.  Argentina had to sell off its oil companies (to the Spanish) and water systems (to Enron) while its teachers hunted for food in garbage cans.  Then, Bankers Gone Wild in the Eurozone dove head-first into derivatives pools without knowing how to swim–and the continent is now being sold off in tiny, cheap pieces to Germany.

The Holdouts

That was the fate of countries in the WTO, but Palast did not discuss those that were not in that organization at all, including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. These seven countries were named by U.S. General Wesley Clark (Ret.) in a 2007 “Democracy Now” interview as the new “rogue states” being targeted for take down after September 11, 2001. He said that about 10 days after 9-11, he was told by a general that the decision had been made to go to war with Iraq. Later, the same general said they planned to take out seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.

What did these countries have in common? Besides being Islamic, they were not members either of the WTO or of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). That left them outside the long regulatory arm of the central bankers’ central bank in Switzerland. Other countries later identified as “rogue states” that were also not members of the BIS included North Korea, Cuba, and Afghanistan.

The body regulating banks today is called the Financial Stability Board (FSB), and it is housed in the BIS in Switzerland. In 2009, the heads of the G20 nations agreed to be bound by rules imposed by the FSB, ostensibly to prevent another global banking crisis. Its regulations are not merely advisory but are binding, and they can make or break not just banks but whole nations. This was first demonstrated in 1989, when the Basel I Accord raised capital requirements a mere 2%, from 6% to 8%. The result was to force a drastic reduction in lending by major Japanese banks, which were then the world’s largest and most powerful creditors. They were undercapitalized, however, relative to other banks. The Japanese economy sank along with its banks and has yet to fully recover.

Among other game-changing regulations in play under the FSB are Basel III and the new bail-in rules. Basel III is slated to impose crippling capital requirements on public, cooperative and community banks, coercing their sale to large multinational banks.

The “bail-in” template was first tested in Cyprus and follows regulations imposed by the FSB in 2011. Too-big-to-fail banks are required to draft “living wills” setting forth how they will avoid insolvency in the absence of government bailouts. The FSB solution is to “bail in” creditors – including depositors – turning deposits into bank stock, effectively confiscating them.

The Public Bank Alternative

Countries laboring under the yoke of an extractive private banking system are being forced into “structural adjustment” and austerity by their unrepayable debt. But some countries have managed to escape. In the Middle East, these are the targeted “rogue nations.” Their state-owned banks can issue the credit of the state on behalf of the state, leveraging public funds for public use without paying a massive tribute to private middlemen. Generous state funding allows them to provide generously for their people.

Like Libya and Iraq before they were embroiled in war, Syria provides free education at all levels and free medical care. It also provides subsidized housing for everyone (although some of this has been compromised by adoption of an IMF structural adjustment program in 2006 and the presence of about 2 million Iraqi and Palestinian refugees). Iran too provides nearly free higher education and primary health care.

Like Libya and Iraq before takedown, Syria and Iran have state-owned central banks that issue the national currency and are under government control. Whether these countries will succeed in maintaining their financial sovereignty in the face of enormous economic, political and military pressure remains to be seen.

As for Larry Summers, after proceeding through the revolving door to head Citigroup, he became State Senator Barack Obama’s key campaign benefactor. He played a key role in the banking deregulation that brought on the current crisis, causing millions of US citizens to lose their jobs and their homes. Yet Summers is President Obama’s first choice to replace Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve Chairman. Why? He has proven he can manipulate the system to make the world safe for Wall Street; and in an upside-down world in which bankers rule, that seems to be the name of the game.

Ellen Brown is an attorney in Los Angeles and the author of 11 books. In Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth about Our Money System and How We Can Break Free, she shows how a private banking cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Read other articles by Ellen, or visit Ellen’s website.

 

 

 

10 U.S. Sanctioned Chemical Weapons Attacks Washington Doesn’t Want You To Talk About

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2013 at 10:28 am
10, chemical, weapons, attacks, washington, doesnt, want, you, to, talk, about,

Shaking Hands: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad on December 20, 1983.

Oldspeak: ““For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.” –Noam Chomsky

By Wesley Messamore @ Policy Mic:

Washington doesn’t merely lack the legal authority for a military intervention in Syria. It lacks the moral authority. We’re talking about a government with a history of using chemical weapons against innocent people far more prolific and deadly than the mere accusations Assad faces from a trigger-happy Western military-industrial complex, bent on stifling further investigation before striking.

Here is a list of 10 chemical weapons attacks carried out by the U.S. government or its allies against civilians.

1. The U.S. Military Dumped 20 Million Gallons of Chemicals on Vietnam from 1962 – 1971
10, chemical, weapons, attacks, washington, doesnt, want, you, to, talk, about,

Via: AP

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military sprayed 20 million gallons of chemicals, including the very toxic Agent Orange, on the forests and farmlands of Vietnam and neighboring countries, deliberately destroying food supplies, shattering the jungle ecology, and ravaging the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Vietnam estimates that as a result of the decade-long chemical attack, 400,000 people were killed or maimed, 500,000 babies have been born with birth defects, and 2 million have suffered from cancer or other illnesses. In 2012, the Red Cross estimated that one million people in Vietnam have disabilities or health problems related to Agent Orange.

2. Israel Attacked Palestinian Civilians with White Phosphorus in 2008 – 2009
10, chemical, weapons, attacks, washington, doesnt, want, you, to, talk, about,

Via: AP

White phosphorus is a horrific incendiary chemical weapon that melts human flesh right down to the bone.

In 2009, multiple human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and International Red Cross reported that the Israeli government was attacking civilians in their own country with chemical weapons. An Amnesty International team claimed to find “indisputable evidence of the widespread use of white phosphorus” as a weapon in densely populated civilian areas. The Israeli military denied the allegations at first, but eventually admitted they were true.

After the string of allegations by these NGOs, the Israeli military even hit a UN headquarters(!) in Gaza with a chemical attack. How do you think all this evidence compares to the case against Syria? Why didn’t Obama try to bomb Israel?

3. Washington Attacked Iraqi Civilians with White Phosphorus in 2004
10, chemical, weapons, attacks, washington, doesnt, want, you, to, talk, about,

Via: AP

In 2004, journalists embedded with the U.S. military in Iraq began reporting the use of white phosphorus in Fallujah against Iraqi insurgents. First the military lied and said that it was only using white phosphorus to create smokescreens or illuminate targets. Then it admitted to using the volatile chemical as an incendiary weapon. At the time, Italian television broadcaster RAI aired a documentary entitled, “Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre,” including grim video footage and photographs, as well as eyewitness interviews with Fallujah residents and U.S. soldiers revealing how the U.S. government indiscriminately rained white chemical fire down on the Iraqi city and melted women and children to death.

4. The CIA Helped Saddam Hussein Massacre Iranians and Kurds with Chemical Weapons in 1988
10, chemical, weapons, attacks, washington, doesnt, want, you, to, talk, about,

CIA records now prove that Washington knew Saddam Hussein was using chemical weapons (including sarin, nerve gas, and mustard gas) in the Iran-Iraq War, yet continued to pour intelligence into the hands of the Iraqi military, informing Hussein of Iranian troop movements while knowing that he would be using the information to launch chemical attacks. At one point in early 1988, Washington warned Hussein of an Iranian troop movement that would have ended the war in a decisive defeat for the Iraqi government. By March an emboldened Hussein with new friends in Washington struck a Kurdish village occupied by Iranian troops with multiple chemical agents, killing as many as 5,000 people and injuring as many as 10,000 more, most of them civilians. Thousands more died in the following years from complications, diseases, and birth defects.

5. The Army Tested Chemicals on Residents of Poor, Black St. Louis Neighborhoods in The 1950s
10, chemical, weapons, attacks, washington, doesnt, want, you, to, talk, about,

In the early 1950s, the Army set up motorized blowers on top of residential high-rises in low-income, mostly black St. Louis neighborhoods, including areas where as much as 70% of the residents were children under 12. The government told residents that it was experimenting with a smokescreen to protect the city from Russian attacks, but it was actually pumping the air full of hundreds of pounds of finely powdered zinc cadmium sulfide. The government admits that there was a second ingredient in the chemical powder, but whether or not that ingredient was radioactive remains classified. Of course it does. Since the tests, an alarming number of the area’s residents have developed cancer. In 1955, Doris Spates was born in one of the buildings the Army used to fill the air with chemicals from 1953 – 1954. Her father died inexplicably that same year, she has seen four siblings die from cancer, and Doris herself is a survivor of cervical cancer.

6. Police Fired Tear Gas at Occupy Protesters in 2011
10, chemical, weapons, attacks, washington, doesnt, want, you, to, talk, about,

The savage violence of the police against Occupy protesters in 2011 was well documented, and included the use of tear gas and other chemical irritants. Tear gas is prohibited for use against enemy soldiers in battle by the Chemical Weapons Convention. Can’t police give civilian protesters in Oakland, California the same courtesy and protection that international law requires for enemy soldiers on a battlefield?

7. The FBI Attacked Men, Women, and Children With Tear Gas in Waco in 1993
10, chemical, weapons, attacks, washington, doesnt, want, you, to, talk, about,

At the infamous Waco siege of a peaceful community of Seventh Day Adventists, the FBI pumped tear gas into buildings knowing that women, children, and babies were inside. The tear gas was highly flammable and ignited, engulfing the buildings in flames and killing 49 men and women, and 27 children, including babies and toddlers. Remember, attacking an armed enemy soldier on a battlefield with tear gas is a war crime. What kind of crime is attacking a baby with tear gas?

8. The U.S. Military Littered Iraq with Toxic Depleted Uranium in 2003
10, chemical, weapons, attacks, washington, doesnt, want, you, to, talk, about,

Via: AP

In Iraq, the U.S. military has littered the environment with thousands of tons of munitions made from depleted uranium, a toxic and radioactive nuclear waste product. As a result, more than half of babies born in Fallujah from 2007 – 2010 were born with birth defects. Some of these defects have never been seen before outside of textbooks with photos of babies born near nuclear tests in the Pacific. Cancer and infant mortality have also seen a dramatic rise in Iraq. According to Christopher Busby, the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, “These are weapons which have absolutely destroyed the genetic integrity of the population of Iraq.” After authoring two of four reports published in 2012 on the health crisis in Iraq, Busby described Fallujah as having, “the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied.”

9. The U.S. Military Killed Hundreds of Thousands of Japanese Civilians with Napalm from 1944 – 1945
10, chemical, weapons, attacks, washington, doesnt, want, you, to, talk, about,

Napalm is a sticky and highly flammable gel which has been used as a weapon of terror by the U.S. military. In 1980, the UN declared the use of napalm on swaths of civilian population a war crime. That’s exactly what the U.S. military did in World War II, dropping enough napalm in one bombing raid on Tokyo to burn 100,000 people to death, injure a million more, and leave a million without homes in the single deadliest air raid of World War II.

10. The U.S. Government Dropped Nuclear Bombs on Two Japanese Cities in 1945
10, chemical, weapons, attacks, washington, doesnt, want, you, to, talk, about,

Although nuclear bombs may not be considered chemical weapons, I believe we can agree they belong to the same category. They certainly disperse an awful lot of deadly radioactive chemicals. They are every bit as horrifying as chemical weapons if not more, and by their very nature, suitable for only one purpose: wiping out an entire city full of civilians. It seems odd that the only regime to ever use one of these weapons of terror on other human beings has busied itself with the pretense of keeping the world safe from dangerous weapons in the hands of dangerous governments.

Crucial Issues That Obama & Romney Avoid

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Oldspeak: “There are two issues of overwhelming significance, because the fate of the species is at stake: environmental disaster, and nuclear war…  Elections are run by the public relations industry. Its primary task is commercial advertising, which is designed to undermine markets by creating uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices — the exact opposite of how markets are supposed to work, but certainly familiar to anyone who has watched television. It’s only natural that when enlisted to run elections, the industry would adopt the same procedures in the interests of the paymasters, who certainly don’t want to see informed citizens making rational choices.”Noam Chomsky. Chomsky brilliantly elucidates 2 major issues of a constellation of vital issues that are largely ignored by corporate controlled political parties. The reason is that both candidate have similar positions on many more issues than they most think . Privatization (education, health care, politics, war, public sector, etc) , dirty energy, cutting the social safety net, poverty, currency devaluation, “free trade”, militarization, stripping of civil liberties, warrantless surveillance, deregulation, targeted assassination, regime change, covert/perpetual war.  etc etc…. Corporate controlled media dutifully ‘reports’ on the differences between the selected candidates, not asking any questions challenging status quo worldview and ideology.  Focusing the ovine populace on inane minutiae like how often a candidate drinks water, facial expressions, flag pin size, way of standing, competence of the moderator,  etc etc etc… never once questioning the waves of bald-faced lies, exaggerations, misrepresentations and mangled-truths that come out of the candidates mouths.  Then they switch coverage to “spin rooms” where corporate approved “surrogates” “allow the campaigns to coordinate their message and serve it up as a buffet-style meal for news reporters: All the quotes you can eat“. All this effort expended to perpetuate a blinding illusion of choice. “Ignorance is Strength”

By Noam Chomsky @ Chomsky.info:

With the quadrennial presidential election extravaganza reaching its peak, it’s useful to ask how the political campaigns are dealing with the most crucial issues we face. The simple answer is: badly, or not at all. If so, some important questions arise: why, and what can we do about it?

There are two issues of overwhelming significance, because the fate of the species is at stake: environmental disaster, and nuclear war.

The former is regularly on the front pages. On Sept. 19, for example, Justin Gillis reported in The New York Times that the melting of Arctic sea ice had ended for the year, “but not before demolishing the previous record — and setting off new warnings about the rapid pace of change in the region.”

The melting is much faster than predicted by sophisticated computer models and the most recent U.N. report on global warming. New data indicate that summer ice might be gone by 2020, with severe consequences. Previous estimates had summer ice disappearing by 2050.

“But governments have not responded to the change with any greater urgency about limiting greenhouse emissions,” Gillis writes. “To the contrary, their main response has been to plan for exploitation of newly accessible minerals in the Arctic, including drilling for more oil” — that is, to accelerate the catastrophe.

This reaction demonstrates an extraordinary willingness to sacrifice the lives of our children and grandchildren for short-term gain. Or, perhaps, an equally remarkable willingness to shut our eyes so as not to see the impending peril.

That’s hardly all. A new study from the Climate Vulnerability Monitor has found that “climate change caused by global warming is slowing down world economic output by 1.6 percent a year and will lead to a doubling of costs in the next two decades.” The study was widely reported elsewhere but Americans have been spared the disturbing news.

The official Democratic and Republican platforms on climate matters are reviewed in Science magazine’s Sept. 14 issue. In a rare instance of bipartisanship, both parties demand that we make the problem worse.

In 2008, both party platforms had devoted some attention to how the government should address climate change. Today, the issue has almost disappeared from the Republican platform — which does, however, demand that Congress “take quick action” to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency, established by former Republican President Richard Nixon in saner days, from regulating greenhouse gases. And we must open Alaska’s Arctic refuge to drilling to take “advantage of all our American God-given resources.” We cannot disobey the Lord, after all.

The platform also states that “We must restore scientific integrity to our public research institutions and remove political incentives from publicly funded research” — code words for climate science.

The Republican candidate Mitt Romney, seeking to escape from the stigma of what he understood a few years ago about climate change, has declared that there is no scientific consensus, so we should support more debate and investigation — but not action, except to make the problems more serious.

The Democrats mention in their platform that there is a problem, and recommend that we should work “toward an agreement to set emissions limits in unison with other emerging powers.” But that’s about it.

President Barack Obama has emphasized that we must gain 100 years of energy independence by exploiting fracking and other new technologies — without asking what the world would look like after a century of such practices.

So there are differences between the parties: about how enthusiastically the lemmings should march toward the cliff.

The second major issue, nuclear war, is also on the front pages every day, but in a way that would astound a Martian observing the strange doings on Earth.

The current threat is again in the Middle East, specifically Iran — at least according to the West, that is. In the Middle East, the U.S. and Israel are considered much greater threats.

Unlike Iran, Israel refuses to allow inspections or to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has hundreds of nuclear weapons and advanced delivery systems, and a long record of violence, aggression and lawlessness, thanks to unremitting American support. Whether Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, U.S. intelligence doesn’t know.

In its latest report, the International Atomic Energy Agency says that it cannot demonstrate “the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran” — a roundabout way of condemning Iran, as the U.S. demands, while conceding that the agency can add nothing to the conclusions of U.S. intelligence.

Therefore Iran must be denied the right to enrich uranium that is guaranteed by the NPT and endorsed by most of the world, including the nonaligned countries that have just met in Tehran.

The possibility that Iran might develop nuclear weapons arises in the electoral campaign. (The fact that Israel already has them does not.) Two positions are counterposed: Should the U.S. declare that it will attack if Iran reaches the capability to develop nuclear weapons, which dozens of countries enjoy? Or should Washington keep the “red line” more indefinite?

The latter position is that of the White House; the former is demanded by Israeli hawks — and accepted by the U.S. Congress. The Senate just voted 90-1 to support the Israeli position.

Missing from the debate is the obvious way to mitigate or end whatever threat Iran might be believed to pose: Establish a nuclear weapons-free zone in the region. The opportunity is readily available: An international conference is to convene in a few months to pursue this objective, supported by almost the entire world, including a majority of Israelis.

The government of Israel, however, has announced that it will not participate until there is a general peace agreement in the region, which is unattainable as long as Israel persists in its illegal activities in the occupied Palestinian territories. Washington keeps to the same position, and insists that Israel must be excluded from any such regional agreement.

We could be moving toward a devastating war, possibly even nuclear. Straightforward ways exist to overcome this threat, but they will not be taken unless there is large-scale public activism demanding that the opportunity be pursued. This in turn is highly unlikely as long as these matters remain off the agenda, not just in the electoral circus, but in the media and larger national debate.

Elections are run by the public relations industry. Its primary task is commercial advertising, which is designed to undermine markets by creating uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices — the exact opposite of how markets are supposed to work, but certainly familiar to anyone who has watched television.

It’s only natural that when enlisted to run elections, the industry would adopt the same procedures in the interests of the paymasters, who certainly don’t want to see informed citizens making rational choices.

The victims, however, do not have to obey, in either case. Passivity may be the easy course, but it is hardly the honorable one.

Chomsky: Why America & Israel Are The Greatest Threats To Peace

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm

A thunderstorm surrounded the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as it sailed in the Persian Gulf during the early days of the Iraq war in March 2003. The carrier battle group has been in the Persian Gulf since April, 2012. The United States has quietly moved significant military reinforcements into the Persian Gulf to deter the Iranian military. (Photo: Vincent Laforet / The New York Times)Oldspeak:””It is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East, one nation should arm itself with nuclear weapons, which inspires other nations to do so.” -General Lee Butler. Imagine if Iran — or any other country — did a fraction of what America & Israel do at will. “It would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it. (One method that would have some possibility of success would be to ratchet up covert regime change efforts in the hope that Tehran would retaliate overtly, or even semi-overtly, which could then be portrayed as an unprovoked act of Iranian aggression.) –“Which Path To Persia?”, Brookings Institution, 2009

By Noam Chomsky @ AlterNet:

It is not easy to escape from one’s skin, to see the world differently from the way it is presented to us day after day. But it is useful to try. Let’s take a few examples.

The war drums are beating ever more loudly over Iran. Imagine the situation to be reversed.

Iran is carrying out a murderous and destructive low-level war against Israel with great-power participation. Its leaders announce that negotiations are going nowhere. Israel refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty and allow inspections, as Iran has done. Israel continues to defy the overwhelming international call for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the region. Throughout, Iran enjoys the support of its superpower patron.

Iranian leaders are therefore announcing their intention to bomb Israel, and prominent Iranian military analysts report that the attack may happen before the U.S. elections.

Iran can use its powerful air force and new submarines sent by Germany, armed with nuclear missiles and stationed off the coast of Israel. Whatever the timetable, Iran is counting on its superpower backer to join if not lead the assault. U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta says that while we do not favor such an attack, as a sovereign country Iran will act in its best interests.

All unimaginable, of course, though it is actually happening, with the cast of characters reversed. True, analogies are never exact, and this one is unfair — to Iran.

Like its patron, Israel resorts to violence at will. It persists in illegal settlement in occupied territory, some annexed, all in brazen defiance of international law and the U.N. Security Council. It has repeatedly carried out brutal attacks against Lebanon and the imprisoned people of Gaza, killing tens of thousands without credible pretext.

Thirty years ago Israel destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor, an act that has recently been praised, avoiding the strong evidence, even from U.S. intelligence, that the bombing did not end Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program but rather initiated it. Bombing of Iran might have the same effect.

Iran too has carried out aggression — but during the past several hundred years, only under the U.S.-backed regime of the shah, when it conquered Arab islands in the Persian Gulf.

Iran engaged in nuclear development programs under the shah, with the strong support of official Washington. The Iranian government is brutal and repressive, as are Washington’s allies in the region. The most important ally, Saudi Arabia, is the most extreme Islamic fundamentalist regime, and spends enormous funds spreading its radical Wahhabist doctrines elsewhere. The gulf dictatorships, also favored U.S. allies, have harshly repressed any popular effort to join the Arab Spring.

The Nonaligned Movement — the governments of most of the world’s population — is now meeting in Teheran. The group has vigorously endorsed Iran’s right to enrich uranium, and some members — India, for example — adhere to the harsh U.S. sanctions program only partially and reluctantly.

The NAM delegates doubtless recognize the threat that dominates discussion in the West, lucidly articulated by Gen. Lee Butler, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command: “It is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East,” one nation should arm itself with nuclear weapons, which “inspires other nations to do so.”

Butler is not referring to Iran, but to Israel, which is regarded in the Arab countries and in Europe as posing the greatest threat to peace In the Arab world, the United States is ranked second as a threat, while Iran, though disliked, is far less feared. Indeed in many polls majorities hold that the region would be more secure if Iran had nuclear weapons to balance the threats they perceive.

If Iran is indeed moving toward nuclear-weapons capability — this is still unknown to U.S. intelligence — that may be because it is “inspired to do so” by the U.S.-Israeli threats, regularly issued in explicit violation of the U.N. Charter.

Why then is Iran the greatest threat to world peace, as seen in official Western discourse? The primary reason is acknowledged by U.S. military and intelligence and their Israeli counterparts: Iran might deter the resort to force by the United States and Israel.

Furthermore Iran must be punished for its “successful defiance,” which was Washington’s charge against Cuba half a century ago, and still the driving force for the U.S. assault against Cuba that continues despite international condemnation.

Other events featured on the front pages might also benefit from a different perspective. Suppose that Julian Assange had leaked Russian documents revealing important information that Moscow wanted to conceal from the public, and that circumstances were otherwise identical.

Sweden would not hesitate to pursue its sole announced concern, accepting the offer to interrogate Assange in London. It would declare that if Assange returned to Sweden (as he has agreed to do), he would not be extradited to Russia, where chances of a fair trial would be slight.

Sweden would be honored for this principled stand. Assange would be praised for performing a public service — which, of course, would not obviate the need to take the accusations against him as seriously as in all such cases.

The most prominent news story of the day here is the U.S. election. An appropriate perspective was provided by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who held that “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”

Guided by that insight, coverage of the election should focus on the impact of wealth on policy, extensively analyzed in the recent study “Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America” by Martin Gilens. He found that the vast majority are “powerless to shape government policy” when their preferences diverge from the affluent, who pretty much get what they want when it matters to them.

Small wonder, then, that in a recent ranking of the 31 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of social justice, the United States placed 27th, despite its extraordinary advantages.

Or that rational treatment of issues tends to evaporate in the electoral campaign, in ways sometimes verging on comedy.

To take one case, Paul Krugman reports that the much-admired Big Thinker of the Republican Party, Paul Ryan, declares that he derives his ideas about the financial system from a character in a fantasy novel — “Atlas Shrugged” — who calls for the use of gold coins instead of paper currency.

It only remains to draw from a really distinguished writer, Jonathan Swift. In “Gulliver’s Travels,” his sages of Lagado carry all their goods with them in packs on their backs, and thus could use them for barter without the encumbrance of gold. Then the economy and democracy could truly flourish — and best of all, inequality would sharply decline, a gift to the spirit of Justice Brandeis.

 

Informant Posing As Drug Cartel Member “Foiled” Iranian Assassination Plot

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2011 at 11:28 am

Manssor Arbabsiar

Oldspeak:”One day after posting a expose about the FBI’s vast and shady network of informants helping to create and “foil” terrorist plots, I see this. Hmm. At first glance it looks like you score one for the good guys, but deeper examination of the facts of the case makes you ask yourself how does this make sense? Tim Padgett @ Time said it best -“If Iranian government operatives really did try to contract a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., as the Obama Administration alleges today, then they weren’t just being diabolical. They were being fairly stupid. Had Arbabsiar actually been dealing with the Zetas – and not a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration informant who posed as a Zeta operative – they probably would have conveyed that reality to him fairly quickly. And they would have likely dismissed the $1.5 million that Arbabsiar allegedly offered the D.E.A. informant. Ditto for the opium the Iranians allegedly threw into the deal. The Zetas, after all, are part of a Mexican drug-trafficking, kidnapping and extortion industry that rakes in as much as $40 billion a year. To risk that kind of cash flow by carrying out a five-alarm international hit for a million and a half bucks seems a non-starter. It also seems an organization like the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, for whom the Justice Department says Arbabsiar may have been working, should know better. Arbabsiar, who lives near Mexico in Corpus Christi, Texas, certainly should have been wiser. All of those considerations may make it harder for many to believe that the alleged Iranian terror plot that the Obama Administration foiled was all that adept or serious.” Could this be another false flag operation used as pretext for attacking Iran?” “War Is Peace”

Related Stories:

Hiring Narcos to Murder the Saudi Ambassador? If It’s True, Tehran Is Pretty Dumb

 

U.S.-Iran Tensions Grow as Indictment Accuses Iranian Agents of Assassination Plot

 

Iran Is Accused by U.S. of Sponsoring Plot to Assassinate Saudi Ambassador

 

By Liz Goodwin @ Yahoo News:

A government informant posing as a member of the feared Zetas drug cartel in Mexico helped foil an Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States on American soil, the Justice Department says.

The informant “posed as an associate of a sophisticated and violent international drug trafficking cartel” who was willing to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador, according to the complaint. Government sources told ABC News that the cartel in question was the Zetas. The Zetas have been behind some of the worst violence in Mexico’s grisly drug war, including mass beheadings, arson in a Monterrey casino that trapped and killed 52 people and the murder of a U.S. immigration agent.

The complaint says the informant was busted on a narcotrafficking charge in the past and then was flipped by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a source who has helped them make arrests in other drug cases.

Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old naturalized American citizen who also had an Iranian passport, is accused of approaching the source thinking he was a member of the drug cartel on the direction of the Iranian military.

He wired the source $100,000 to a U.S. bank account as a down payment for assassinating the Saudi Arabian ambassador, and said he would pay the rest of the $1.5 million fee later. The government says Arbabsiar said he didn’t care if as many as 100 civilians were killed along with the ambassador in the explosion. He traveled to Mexico several times to meet with the informant.

Tim Padgett at Time Magazine argues that Arbabsiar, who used to live in Corpus Christi, Texas, would have had to be pretty stupid to think the Zetas would bomb an American target for only $1.5 million. “The Zetas, after all, are part of a Mexican drug-trafficking, kidnapping and extortion industry that rakes in as much as $40 billion a year,” he writes. “To risk that kind of cash flow by carrying out a five-alarm international hit for a million and a half bucks seems a non-starter. It also seems an organization like the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, for whom the Justice Department says Arbabsiar may have been working, should know better. Arbabsiar, who lives near Mexico in Corpus Christi, Texas, certainly should have been wiser.”

Middle East expert Juan Cole speculates on his blog that Arbabsiar’s patron, allegedly a member of the Revolutionary Guards, may have had a side business in drug trafficking. Cole thinks the plot seemed so amateurish that it makes it more sense that it was the work of an Iranian drug cartel angry over the Saudi war on drugs than Iranian government operatives. The Iranian cartel may have been hoping to find new markets for Iran’s opium and heroin supply that typically go through Afghanistan.

Seymour Hersh: Despite Intelligence Estimates Rejecting Iran As Nuclear Threat, U.S. Could Be Headed for Iraq Redux

In Uncategorized on June 4, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Oldspeak: ‘”War is a drug” –Chris Hedges. Same shit, different President. 😐 Consistent with “Grand Area Doctrine“,  60 years after the CIA orchestrated coup d’état against democratically elected Iranian Prime Minster Mohammed Mosaddegh, Mr. Hersh finds that your tax dollars are being used to violate the sovereign borders of Iran by illegally sending Special Forces commandos into Iran to look for a reason (this time nuclear weapons development) use as pretext for invasion (i.e. W.M.Ds in Iraq, “Protection of innocents” in Libya) and to seize control of the 5th largest oil reserves in the world. They’ve not found that reason yet and very likely won’t because it doesn’t exist. But don’t be surprised if another reason is manufactured to facilitate Iran’s conquest, which will not be achieved without great cost to both countries. Iran is NOT Iraq, and if this invasion comes to pass, it will not be pretty for the U.S. Next stop, War #5.

Related Video:  The Plan — According to U.S. General Wesley Clark (Ret.)

Related StorySeymour Hersh on the Arab Spring, “Disaster” U.S. Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Looming Crisis in Iraq

By Amy Goodman @ Democracy Now

Guest:

Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist at The New Yorker magazine. His latest piece is Iran and the Bomb: How Real is the Nuclear Threat?

JUAN GONZALEZ: The Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh is back in the news this week with another explosive article that is ruffling some feathers at the White House. During the Bush administration years, Hersh was widely criticized by White House officials for his exposés on the torture at Abu Ghraib, secret U.S. operations overseas, and U.S. policy in Iran. Now it is the Obama White House upset with an article from Hersh.

Earlier this week, The New Yorker magazine published his latest investigation titled “Iran and the Bomb: How Real is the Threat?” Hersh writes, quote, “There is a large body of evidence, however, including some of America’s most highly classified intelligence assessments, suggesting that the United States could be in danger of repeating a mistake similar to the one made with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq eight years ago—allowing anxieties about the policies of a tyrannical regime to distort our estimations of the state’s military capacities and intentions.”

AMY GOODMAN: Seymour Hersh reveals that despite using Iranian informants and cutting-edge surveillance technology, U.S. officials have been unable to find decisive evidence that Iran has been moving enriched uranium to an underground weapon-making center.
Hersh quotes Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying he has not seen, quote, “a shred of evidence” that Iran was—has been weaponizing, in terms of “building nuclear-weapons facilities and using enriched materials.”

The Obama White House, meanwhile, has repeatedly cited Iran’s nuclear program as a threat to the world. President Obama raised the issue last month during his speech before AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: So let me be absolutely clear: we remain committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Its illicit nuclear program is just one challenge that Iran poses. As I said on Thursday, the Iranian government has shown its hypocrisy by claiming to support the rights of protesters while treating its own people with brutality.

AMY GOODMAN: Joining us now in Washington is Seymour Hersh, investigative reporter at The New Yorker and author of many books, including Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, currently working on a book looking at the Dick Cheney vice presidency.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Seymour Hersh. Lay out what you have found.

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, very simply, it’s—you know, you could argue it’s 2003 all over again. Remember WMD, mushroom clouds. There’s just no serious evidence inside that Iran is actually doing anything to make a nuclear weapon. You know, making a weapon is a big deal. You have to have fabrication facilities. You have to convert a very toxic gas into a metal and then mold it into a core. It’s big stuff, and there’s no sign of any of it.

We’ve been looking—Cheney was convinced, Dick Cheney, the former vice president, there was a secret facility à la what we probably saw in the movieBananas. Remember Woody Allen’s movie, the little robots running underground? He was convinced there was an underground facility somewhere. And we had special forces units in there since ’04, really, perhaps as late as—early as ’05, maybe, looking. We’ve been paying off people—the Kurds, the Azeris, the opposition groups. We’ve been giving a lot of money to various defectors. We’ve been looking with satellites for telltale signs, air holes, air vents, somewhere in the desert or somewhere in an arid area. And we’ve found nothing, not for lack of trying. We looked very hard. And there’s just no evidence on the inside.

And it’s not only here, it’s known in Europe. It’s a much easier situation, at least for a journalist, to go to Europe, because the European intelligence officials are much more open about it. “Yes, we are very skeptical,” they will say, “but we’ve found nothing.” So, the fact is, we have a—the evidence is pretty strong—I mean, very strong—that we have a sanctions program that’s designed to prevent the Iranians from building weapons systems they’re not building.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Sy Hersh, your article details some extraordinary efforts by the United States. You talk about the special forces operations actually replacing street signs in Tehran with radiation detectors and replacing bricks in buildings. Could you talk about some of that? I mean, because that’s enormous risk that they’re taking actually going into the country and doing that.

SEYMOUR HERSH: Oh, it’s amazingly complicated. And I will tell you, obviously, I hate to write about operational stuff, but let me just say that whatever we were doing, we have a new generation now that’s more sophisticated. But in those early days—early days being ’05, 2005, 2006—there was a tremendous concern that various buildings, laboratories and academic buildings in the city of Tehran were being used as secret facilities to enrich uranium to a high degree. Right now the Iranians are absolutely within the law. It turns out they’re signatories to the NPT, Non-Proliferation Treaty. And there’s no evidence whatsoever that—the IAEA, the group that Mr. ElBaradei headed, International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors nuclear developments, they consistently report that there’s no evidence of any diversion of any of the enriched materials they now have.

We’re enriching—the Iranians are enriching to about 3.7 or so percent to run civilian power plants. There’s one small pilot project for medical research that gets up to 20 percent. But everything that’s being enriched is under camera, under watch, by the IAEA. There’s just no sign of any diversion. There’s just no evidence. This doesn’t mean we can go to intent. It doesn’t mean that there’s a lot of concern in the United States and appropriate concern about the Iranian intent. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t watch what they do. But it does mean that we’re sort of beating a dead horse here.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about your sources, Sy Hersh.

SEYMOUR HERSH: Thanks a lot, Amy. Look, there’s been two very secret studies done, called National Intelligence Estimates, NIEs, and these are the most sort of sacrosanct internal studies done by the community. Almost all the time they’re private. There are studies going on, NIEs going on all the time—the situation now in Ecuador, for example, other issues. Venezuela is always looked at. The situation in the war, war-peace stuff, is constantly being looked at by groups of people in the intelligence community. And these documents are promulgated without anybody knowing it.

For some reason, in 2007 there was an NIE put out about the Iranian nuclear weapons program, and the White House wanted a summary made. And I think at that point 16 intelligence agencies were involved in the final conclusions. And internally, the guys running it, to their credit, voted 16 to nothing to say what they said, which is that, in a summary put out about the NIE—as I say, unprecedented summary—saying there’s no evidence they had done any weaponization since 2003.

And there’s a new study that was just done. It was published in February of this year. And it—we knew about it, but nobody has actually—you’re getting me in a tricky area, but I can just say, people that have worked on the study and have read the study will attest—have attested that it doesn’t take us any further. There’s no further evidence of any weaponization.

And what’s even more important that I write is that this, the latest study, was actually supposed to be promulgated—is the word they use in the community—last fall, and it was delayed because the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon intelligence agency, had an assessment that was—knocked everybody’s socks off. Their assessment was, the only reason Iran even looked at weaponization—and we’re not talking about building anything, we’re talking about doing studies, paper studies—was because they were frightened of Iraq. They had had an eight-year war, as many in your audience will remember, between 1980 and 1988, with Iraq, a terrible, brutal war. And when they—their worry was, in the early—in the 2001, 2002 period, that if Iraq went nuclear, they might need some deterrent. So what they even looked at, the papers they did, was aimed not at us or the Israelis, but aimed at the Iraqis. That didn’t get into the final judgment, but it affected the debate in a pretty positive way.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And Sy Hersh, one of the things you say in your article is that these latest intelligence assessments—that a lot of the career intelligence people in the government now have pushed back a lot more against political pressure, after the debacle with Iraq and the pressure on the intelligence community to skew intelligence assessments about weapons of mass destruction, that now the career people are a lot more willing to buck any political pressure.

SEYMOUR HERSH: You know, it really depends on who’s running the agency. The Defense Department, the DIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, has a career general named Burgess who’s been in a lot of tough places. You know, he was in the Joint Special Operations Command. And he really has, all I can say is—again, I’m getting into—the people who work for him will tell you that they’re no longer afraid to go up against the established judgment. And so, what we really have been happening, in an amazing way—and I have to say this about the American government because I’m always very critical—but we do have an enormous number of people in the government and the intelligence community who don’t take—who take an oath of office to the Constitution, and not to the general who’s in charge of them or to the president. And we’re seeing more and more of that kind of attitude coming out inside. I can’t tell you why, but there’s more people really—there’s a lot more concern about where we are in the world right now. And the last decade has been a pretty horrible one for the United States, and I think the future is very, very sort of frightening, too, in terms of what’s been going on in the Middle East, etc. So there’s more integrity in the process. It doesn’t mean the White House likes it.

AMY GOODMAN: Sy, I wanted to ask you about the new International Atomic Energy Agency report that came out Tuesday, just after your article was published. This is what the New York Times reported, quote: “The world’s global nuclear inspection agency, frustrated by Iran’s refusal to answer questions, revealed for the first time [on] Tuesday that it possesses evidence that Tehran has conducted work on a highly sophisticated nuclear triggering technology that experts said could be used for only one purpose: setting off a nuclear weapon.”

“The nine-page report raised questions about whether Iran has sought to investigate seven different kinds of technology ranging from atomic triggers and detonators to uranium fuel,” the New York Times reporting on the IAEA report. Your response, Seymour Hersh?

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, the word “evidence” was not in what the IAEA said. What the IAEA said is something it’s been saying repeatedly, even under ElBaradei. And I must say, the new director general, Mr. Amano, is, I think, more willing to please us than ElBaradei was, just in terms of speculating more. There was nothing new in that report. They’ve been saying repeatedly that they have concerns about certain information they have. They don’t describe it as evidence.

The new trigger is a very complicated device that was used by us maybe 30 years ago to trigger a hydrogen—a fusion weapon, and it went nowhere. And it’s a, as I say, extremely complicated device that there’s no evidence that anybody in their right mind would want to use that kind of a trigger. It would involve creating a different kind of reactor. The technical problems with that kind of a complicated device are enormous. And anyway, are you really going to be—are you going to make a trigger before you know what kind of gun you have?

I mean, it’s just—the word “evidence” was nowhere in the report. It’s been going on a long time. And what’s been going on is the IAEA has put out—this is even under ElBaradei. For about six, seven, eight years now, they’ve put out report after report that say one thing, that’s the most important thing: no evidence of any diversion of enriched materials, no evidence that they’re squirreling away enriched uranium to make a secret bomb. They have a lot of uranium enriched, the 3.7 percent, yes, but there’s no evidence they’re doing anything more than storing it up to run a civilian nuclear reactor. They have two in the process now. They’re having a lot of technical troubles. But eventually they’re going to need that fuel. It takes an enormous amount of fuel to drive a reactor. And so, it’s the same thing that’s been going on. You can look at the questions raised and lead your story with that, or you can look at the fact they say consistently that there’s been no diversion. There are outstanding questions. The Iranians don’t like being asked a lot of questions about third-party information. They keep on coming back to the IAEA and saying, “Give us some reason to answer a question. We’re not going to answer questions about third-party gossip,” that most of which they believe comes from fabrications.

And there’s been some evidence that some of the material—particularly there’s a famous laptop incident, where there was material given to us, the providence of which wasn’t known, that we made a big fuss about, allegedly a laptop belonging to an Iranian scientist, nuclear scientist. There were very crude drawings in it. They weren’t at all near the level of anything serious. And that, for years, back about four or five years ago, fueled all sorts of debate.

There’s just—the word “evidence”—I’ll just say again, the word “evidence” was not in what the IAEA said. Yes, there are outstanding questions. They’ve been—the same questions have been asked and answered for years. This particular trigger device was written about in a London newspaper two or three years ago, a major story. It’s not new. There’s nothing known about it that hasn’t been said before. This is what happens. You know, alas, you know, one thing about a free press is you don’t have to like everything you read.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Sy, I wanted to ask you—you mentioned earlier the uprisings in the Arab world, and I wanted to ask you about the impact of those uprisings both on the theocracy in Iran and also on Israel’s attempts to constantly encircle Iran or portray it as the source of danger to the rest of the world and to the region.

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, just to get away from Iran for a second, what you’re having now is you’re having a—you had it in Tunisia, and you had Egypt, spontaneous people’s revolts, if you will. Your former colleague was in Tahrir Square doing great stuff on it, and still in Cairo, I understand.

AMY GOODMAN: Sharif, yes.

SEYMOUR HERSH: And so, you had something amazing—yes, you had something amazing going on. And what you have now—and that of course spread. That spread throughout the Gulf regions. And what you have now is a very, very—it’s sort of unremarked upon by the press here in America—you have a counterrevolution going on, fueled largely by the Saudis and their panic. You see the implication of that in Bahrain, where the unbelievable things are happening to the Shiites, the minority Shiites there. They may be a majority in terms of population, but certainly a minority in terms of power. And you have that regime brutalizing its people in a way that’s beyond, I would argue, anything going on elsewhere, including in Syria. As bad as it is in Syria, it’s much worse in Bahrain. And the United States, of course, for a lot of reasons, is ignoring that.

You have the Gulf states in a state of sort of controlled panic now. They’re all sort of locally owned oil combines, owned by various one-time Bedouin—you know, Bedouin desert livers, now suddenly owners of huge complexes of oil billionaires, all of them, and they want to stay in power in the Gulf—Oman, even Qatar. You can see a lot of problems with Al Jazeera’s coverage, particularly of Bahrain. Al Jazeera, for example, is always calling me, didn’t call me for this story because everybody wants to point fingers at Iran. The United States has essentially equated Iran’s upset and encouragement of some of the—encouragement of the stuff going on with Bahrain as—for the United States, this is as much of a sin as the Al Khalifa family beating the hell out of everybody and doing worse than that—particularly doctors and nurses—in Bahrain. So there’s a huge—

AMY GOODMAN: And it’s the home of the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet, Sy.

SEYMOUR HERSH:—counterrevolution going on.

Yes, absolutely, it is the home. And, of course, the Fifth Fleet often, wisely, will move a lot of their vehicles offshore when trouble gets going. Yes, it’s the home of our—Bahrain is an important base. It’s an important facility. But we could go other places, too, I’m sure. It’s just we have a lot of things there.

So you have the American response to—you have this GCC, the Gulf Cooperation Community or Committee. It’s probably the only defense organization in the world that’s designed for all the countries getting together to ward against internal dissent, not external threat, but internal threats. And so, we have this amazing institution. Morocco just joined the GCC. So, this is going on before our eyes, and we’re not paying enough attention to it.

And what we do is we focus on Iran as the bad guy: Iran is responsible, they’re shifting gear to the Syrians to help the Syrian Mukhabarat control its society, as if the Baathist Party in Syria needs outside help in doing that. They’re pretty good at it. We’ve made Iran into a bogeyman. And my own guess is, the reason we’re so intent on the sanctions and keeping them going, when there’s no evidence of any weaponization, there’s no real threat at all—even the Israelis—I was in Israel last in June—rather, in April, two months ago now. And I can’t—they have crazy, strange rules, ground rules, on what you can report. But I can tell you right now, the Israelis understand, the more sophisticated ones and serious people in the intelligence community there, they understand that that Iran doesn’t have a bomb now. If it decides to get one and they get a bomb, they’re not going to throw it against Tel Aviv, because they know that’s annihilation. They understand that, despite the fact they say different things and they raise the threat. So we’re making the Iranians sort of the people responsible for what’s going on, in terms of the revolutions, and we’re really on the wrong side of history on that, the United States.

It’s really the Saudis we should be looking at quite a bit. And when you get to that question, you then say, here are the Saudis, who obviously—we know from reports and from everything I’ve been told—are very angry at us. They feel that our support for Mubarak undercut them. You know, they like to keep rigid control over a population that includes, certainly in Saudi Arabia, many Shiites who work the oil fields. And so, you have the Saudis in full panic, refusing—in anger at us, refusing to increase the oil output, so the price of oil stays—gasoline is $4 or more a gallon. And then, here we have a president whose reelection is going to depend not on killing Osama bin Laden—hooray, he did it—but more on what the price of gasoline is going to be next year. And we have the Saudis stiffing us.

And here you have Iran, which is the second-largest producer of natural gas in the world, also has a lot of oil—its fields are diminishing, but it’s got a lot of stuff. The sanctions aren’t working. The Iranians are selling stuff to India, to China, Pakistan. They’re doing a lot of business. You think—I mean, dumb and dumber. You think maybe we would start doing what a lot of people in the article I published—Tom Pickering, the former secretary—under secretary of state, a longtime ambassador, very serious guy, is among those who’s been doing—involved in secret contacts with the Iranians and has been telling us for years, he and his group, “Get off this nuclear business. There’s a lot of other issues you could deal with the Iranians. They want to be respected. You could really get some progress,” and maybe even getting to the point where we can—we don’t have to—we’re not interested in changing the regime there. That’s impossible. We do know that. Unlike Bush and Cheney, Obama doesn’t want to. Maybe we can get to the point where you can start getting some of the energy that they have to produce. Instead, we’re trying to keep them from the market. It just doesn’t make sense. And sanctions, you know, go ask Castro how well they work. We’ve been sanctioning Cuba, what, since 1960, ’61, ’62, and, you know—and as far as I know, Cuba is still there, and so is Castro.

AMY GOODMAN: Sy Hersh, very quickly, we haven’t spoken to you in a while, and—

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, I’m sorry, my earphone popped out. Hold on a second.

AMY GOODMAN: OK, we’re talking to—

SEYMOUR HERSH: Say again.

AMY GOODMAN:—the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh. Sy, we haven’t talked to you in a while. Your assessment of President Obama’s war in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

SEYMOUR HERSH: A disaster. Stupid. I do think that the White House really wanted the bin Laden raid, about which I’ve been doing a lot of work. There’s always—things are always more interesting than they seem. I’m not suggesting he wasn’t killed or anything like that, but just more interesting. And I think the getting of bin Laden will give Obama the freedom to make a serious cut in this war in Afghanistan that everybody on the inside—everybody on the inside, believe me—I don’t know about Petraeus, General Petraeus, who for some reason is going to the CIA, just as for some reason Panetta, who doesn’t really know much about the Pentagon is going to the Pentagon. I don’t quite understand what they’re doing.

But this is a war that has nothing to do with American national security. And the obvious way out is to actually find a way to start talking to Mullah Omar. Instead, we keep on isolating him. And we’re driving Pakistan crazy with this war. We’re increasing the jihadism there. We’re increasing the terrorism there. We’re sticking it to the Paks in very direct ways. It’s a totally counterproductive system. We have our guys going out doing night raids. We always call them NATO, and the press goes along with calling them NATO. But our Joint Special Operations Command is still going out. I don’t fault the guys doing it. Let me make it clear, they’re very, very competent guys. They’re under orders, and they do what they do. They just do it very well. But there’s no way you’re going to make strikes at night and not kill an awful lot of noncombatants—”collateral damage,” they call it. And it’s just—we’re hated. We’re outsiders. We don’t have to be doing the bombs to be hated by the Pashtun. That’s been the society all along. The Pakistanis are in terrible fear of what’s going to happen in Afghanistan. They always see Afghanistan as bulwark against India. They’re afraid of our relationship with India.

And I’ll tell you the biggest problem he has, as awful as those things are, as counterproductive, and as much as he’s following, oh, yes, Bush and Cheney in those policies—and I think the President—I’ll be writing about this—I think he was really sandbagged by the Pentagon after he got into office, when he was new and innocent. And I still think—I think right now—I would almost use the word “cult” to describe what’s going on in the White House. Everything is political. He’s isolated. Very good people say they’ve never seen a president this isolated, in terms of being unable to get to him with different opinions, etc. So here’s really captive of a few people there. I know this may sound strange, but I know what I’m talking about. You can’t get to the guy—and even, for example, Pickering, as competent as he is. And Pickering has done some wonderful stuff for the United States intelligence community undercover, and so he’s known as a trusted guy. Those guys who have been involved in talking to Iran off the record, Track II policy talks, for years can’t get to the President. He may not even know they’re looking for him. I just don’t know.

And so, here we have this very bright guy continuing insane policies that are counterproductive, do nothing for the United States, and meanwhile the real crisis is going to be about Iraq, because, whatever you’re hearing, Iraq is going bad. Sunnis are killing Shia. It’s sectarian war. And the big question is going to be whether we pull out or not. And there’s going to be a lot of pressure to keep them—we’ve got 40,000 or 50,000 Americans there—to keep them there. I don’t know how it’s going to play out, but I’ll tell you right now, there are Sunni Baathist groups in Damascus, in various places, in the United Kingdom—Leeds is one place—ready, as soon as we get out, to declare an alternative government, a provisional government, and announce that they’re going to retake Iran from the Shiites and from—Iraq from the Shiites, who they believe are totally tied in to the Iranians, which probably isn’t true, but that’s always been the fiction we have, or the fear we have: Iran controls Iraq. There’s a mutuality of interests, but Maliki is a very tough customer. You know, Maliki worked for 21 years in Syria as a cop for the Mukhabarat, for the secret police. He was working as a sergeant there for 21 years in Syria, before he went back as an exile after we kicked out Saddam. He is nobody’s patsy. But there’s going to be a holy hell there. It’s going to be probably the biggest problem the President has next year, along with gas, along with the crazy Republicans that are running against him. He’s going to—and along with Afghan and along with Iran, it’s going to be Iraq. We’re going to be back looking at Iraq, as that country goes berserk.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Sy Hersh, I want to—

SEYMOUR HERSH: That’s very cheerful. I’m really Mr. Happy News, huh?

JUAN GONZALEZ: I want to get back to the Arab Spring for a moment and ask you, do you think that in Egypt—for example, the uprisings that led to the overthrow of Mubarak and now to the trial, apparently, the trial of Mubarak, it is understandable why the Egyptian people would want to put this ruthless leader on trial. But do you think that the trying of Mubarak has had repercussions throughout the rest of the region, with all these other dictators who say, “Well, I better fight to the end, because if not, I will end up like Mubarak, will be immediately put on trial by my people”?

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, you know, I can’t say that about the trial, because I haven’t actually talked to anybody about whether the trial makes a difference. But before that, I would say what you’re saying is absolutely right. The moment the United States—the waffling that the President did—if you remember, he was with the kids, he was against the kids, and we had the Secretary of State saying the same thing, with, against. There’s no question that the fear—there’s an enormous fear in the Arab world, in the Gulf, in the Gulf region. And right now they’re very angry at us. They’re terrified of Iran. And they’re very worried about internal security.

They’re worried about—what’s going on in Bahrain is, I’m telling you, it’s a sensationally underreported story. The brutality there is beyond—it’s shocking. And again, the Saudis are directly involved, sort of with our OK. Again, if you don’t think Saudi Arabia has enormous control over Saleh in Yemen, you’re not paying attention. He’s got enormous control over him. The Saudis—if the Saudis wanted to, they could play a very positive role there. They’re not. He’s their guy. And so, you have this counterrevolution fed by the Saudi billions. And the Saudis went recently in the—Prince Bandar, my favorite dark prince, was recently in Pakistan, and the Pakistanis are supplying some thuggery, some arms, some muscle, in Bahrain. And I think the Pakistanis are also helping out in internal security inside Saudi Arabia itself. And so, everybody is muscling up now to beat up the kids who want to do something.

And meanwhile, if you look at it, the single biggest blow against al-Qaeda, I would argue—bin Laden, of course, was great, wonderful, I’m glad he’s gone and all that stuff—but the other big blow was the Arab Spring, because once you lose the sense of humiliation among the Arab population and the sense of fear—you’re seeing that in Syria right now, although that’s also complicated, because the Saudis are deeply involved in trying to get rid of—or certainly make it more difficult for Bandar—for Bashar Assad to exist. That’s a more complicated position. But once the fear is gone, al-Qaeda is gone.

So, the one thing we had going for ourselves, in terms of getting rid of these terrorists who prey on the frustrations of the Arab young, wow, instead, we’re going the wrong way. And it’s a horrible mistake. It’s happening right in front of us. It’s not being seen, but it’s right there to be seen. And it’s just this country, this president—traditionally, we’ve been unable to pull the trigger on the Saudis. Even now, when confronted with heinous activity, we still can’t pull the trigger on the Saudis, because of the need for oil. And again, this is a country, Saudi Arabia, that is not lifting—not agreeing to lift two or three more billion barrels a day. They’re at eight-and-a-half billion. We’d love them to go to 11, 10-and-a-half and 11. That would take pressure off the price. And it’s politically useful for the President not to—for the President to have it happen. It’s not going to happen.

So, Arab Spring is being undercut enormously. There’s still some hope in Egypt, because the kids are so strong, the movement there is so strong. But I can tell you, Suleiman, the leader of the intelligence service, is still there. I think an awful lot—I would look at Libya as part coming out of Arab Spring. An awful lot of it comes out of Libyan intervention. There’s been a longstanding American CIA role and opposition to Gaddafi. And one of the things Gaddafi drove everybody crazy with, just to show you how silly the world is, every oil deal he wanted 20 percent on the top of. And so, there was a lot of corporate anger at him, too. He was getting 20 percent kickback. Even Saddam, in the heyday, only wanted 10 percent. It all comes down sometimes to money. And I don’t know what’s going to happen there.

AMY GOODMAN: Sy, we have 30 seconds.

SEYMOUR HERSH: I just don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t quite—

AMY GOODMAN: We have 30 seconds.

SEYMOUR HERSH: OK.

AMY GOODMAN: But I want to ask you a last question. You made headlines a few years ago when you said President Bush operated an executive assassination ring. Has that policy continued under President Obama?

SEYMOUR HERSH: What I said was that in the early days under Cheney, in the first days after—you know, ’03, ’04, ’05, yes, there was a direct connection between the vice president’s office and individuals getting hit. That got institutionalized later in a more sophisticated way. There’s no question that—look, there’s an enormous military apparatus out there that isn’t seen. That’s what I’m writing about. We’re not seeing it. We don’t know it exists. Cheney built up a world that still exists. And it’s a very ugly, frightening world that has not much to do with what the Constitution calls for.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to leave it there. Thank you very much, Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist. His piece appears in The New Yorker magazine, and we will link to it. It’s called “Iran and the Bomb.”

Obama Rebuffs Defense Establishment’s Hunger For Conflict With Iran

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2010 at 8:26 am

Oldspeak:“BRAVO to The President for doing what he should have done in Af/Pak: Resisting the war hawks insatiable blood lust for another unnecessary war the  U.S. can’t afford. Now if he could only gather the stones to face the reality in Af/Pak: Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda peoples are gone. LONG GONE. They were allowed to leave by the previous administration.  The U.S. is basically hemorrhaging cash and resources in Afghanistan to protect oil, gas and mineral resources from the Chinese/Russians and drone striking mostly civilians in Pakistan to keep the Military Industrial Complex’s coffers filled.

From Gareth Porter @ Inter Press Service:

United States President Barack Obama’s refusal in a White House briefing this month to announce a “red line” in regard to Iran’s nuclear program represented another in a series of rebuffs of pressure from Defense Secretary Robert Gates for a statement that the US will not accept its existing stocks of low enriched uranium.

The Obama rebuff climaxed a months-long internal debate between Obama and Gates over the “breakout capability” issue that surfaced in the news media last April.

Gates has been arguing that Iran could turn its existing stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU) into a capability to build a nuclear weapon secretly by using covert enrichment sites and undeclared sources of uranium.

That Gates argument implies that the only way to prevent Iran having enough bomb-grade uranium for nuclear weapons is to insist that Iran must give up most of its existing stock of LEU, which could be converted into enough bomb-grade uranium for one bomb.

But Obama has publicly rejected the idea that Iran’s existing stock of LEU represents a breakout capability on more than one occasion. He has stated that Iran would have to make an overt move to have a “breakout capability” that would signal its intention to have a nuclear weapon.

Obama’s most recent rebuff of the Gates position came in the briefing he gave to a select group of journalists on August 4.

Peter David of The Economist, who attended the briefing, was the only journalist to note that Obama indicated that he was not ready to lay down any public red lines “at this point”. Instead, Obama said it was important to set out for the Iranians a clear set of steps that the US would accept as proof that the regime was not pursuing a bomb.

Obama appeared to suggest that there are ways for Iran to demonstrate its intent not to build a nuclear bomb other than ending all enrichment and reducing its stock of low enriched uranium to a desired level.

Iran denies any intention of making nuclear weapons, but has made no secret that it wants to have enough low enriched uranium to convince potential adversaries that it has that option.

At a 2005 dinner in Tehran, Hassan Rowhani, then secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that Iran didn’t need a nuclear weapon, as long as it had the “mastery of the fuel cycle” as a deterrent to external aggression.

Gates raised the issue of the Iranian ability to achieve a breakout capability in a three-page memorandum addressed to national security adviser Jim Jones in January 2010, as first reported in the New York Times on April 18.

In reporting the Gates memo, David E Sanger of the New York Times wrote, “Mr Gates’s memo appears to reflect concerns in the upper echelons of the Pentagon and the military that the White House did not have a well-prepared series of alternatives in place in case all the diplomatic steps finally failed.”

In the statement issued on the memo on April 18, Gates said it “identified next steps in our defense planning process where further interagency discussion and policy decisions would be needed in the months and weeks ahead”.

The Sanger article appeared eight days after differences between Obama and Gates over the Iranian breakout capability issue had surfaced publicly in April.

Obama used an April 1 interview with CBS News to distinguish between Iran’s “trying to develop the capacity to develop nuclear weapons” from a decision to actually possess nuclear weapons.

“They might decide that, once they have that capacity that they’d hold off right at the edge – in order not to incur more sanctions,” he observed. Obama talked about a new round of international sanctions as his response to that problem.

Hardliners in Washington wanted Obama to go further. David E Sanger of the New York Times invited Obama in an April 5 interview to draw the US red line at an Iranian breakout capability, Obama refused to do so.

Sanger asked Obama whether the United States could “live with an Iran that runs right up to the edge” – precisely the scenario Obama had suggested as a distinct possibility four days earlier.

Obama’s answer made it clear that he understood that Sanger was pushing the Gates line that there is no obvious firebreak between Iran’s low enriched uranium stocks and a breakout capability.

“North Korea was said to be simply a nuclear-capable state until it kicked out the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] and became a self-professed nuclear state,” said Obama.

But Gates went public a few days later with a sharply different position on the issue.

When David Gregory of interviewed both US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Gates on NBC’s Meet the Press on April 9, he had apparently been informed about differences of view within the administration on the issue of an Iranian “nuclear capability”.

Gregory asked Clinton, “Is a nuclear-capable Iran as dangerous as a nuclear state of Iran?” to which Clinton answered, “Well, clearly weapons are more dangerous than potential.”

Gregory then asked Gates whether a nuclear-capable Iran is “just as dangerous as being a nuclear state to your mind?”

Gates answered, “Only in this respect: how you differentiate how far, how far have they gone? If they – if their policy is to go to the threshold but not assemble a nuclear weapon, how do you tell that they have not assembled?”

Gates said he didn’t know “how you would verify that”.

That exchange would have confused anyone who was not an insider to the Washington policy debate on Iran. The real issue was not whether the United States could “tell that they have not assembled” but whether Iran could turn its stock of low enriched uranium into weapons-grade uranium without kicking out international inspectors first and signaling their intentions.

Israel and extreme alarmists in the United States have long argued that Iran could use covert enrichment sites to enrich uranium to bomb-grade levels and might have access to undeclared uranium stocks. But a source familiar with the issue told Inter Press Service that the Defense Department had not been claiming that there is any intelligence indicating secret Iranian sites or uranium supplies.

Gates appears to have been trying to maneuver Obama into adopting a policy under which the United States would have a reason for threatening Iran unless it agreed to divest itself of its low enriched uranium stocks and end enrichment.

Although he has opposed an attack on Iran in both the George W Bush and Obama administrations, Gates has also been the primary advocate of creating “leverage” over Iran as well as over Russia and China in regard to tougher sanctions.

In an interview with Sanger in early 2008, quoted in Sanger’s book, The Inheritance, Gates said the main problem he had with the 2007 national intelligence estimate on Iran was that it “made our effort to strengthen sanctions more difficult, because people figured, well the military option is now off the table”.

Thus far the Obama administration has not given emphasis to the threat of US attack on Iran. Instead it has sought to use the threat of an Israeli attack on Iran as leverage, even as it warns the Israelis privately not to attempt such an attack.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specializing in US national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in 2006.

Obama Warned Israel May Bomb Iran

In Uncategorized on August 4, 2010 at 11:47 am

Oldspeak:“The objective is regime change. Creating synthetic fear of Iranian nuclear weapons is simply the best way to “justify” bringing about regime change. Worked well for Iraq, no? Pre-emptive/illegal wars are all the rage now.”

From Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity @ Consortium News:

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: War With Iran

We write to alert you to the likelihood that Israel will attack Iran as early as this month. This would likely lead to a wider war.

Israel’s leaders would calculate that once the battle is joined, it will be politically untenable for you to give anything less than unstinting support to Israel, no matter how the war started, and that U.S. troops and weaponry would flow freely. Wider war could eventually result in destruction of the state of Israel.

This can be stopped, but only if you move quickly to pre-empt an Israeli attack by publicly condemning such a move before it happens.

We believe that comments by senior American officials, you included, reflect misplaced trust in Israeli Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu.

Actually, the phrasing itself can be revealing, as when CIA Director Panetta implied cavalierly that Washington leaves it up to the Israelis to decide whether and when to attack Iran, and how much “room” to give to the diplomatic effort.

On June 27, Panetta casually told ABC’s Jake Tapper, “I think they are willing to give us the room to be able to try to change Iran diplomatically … as opposed to changing them militarily.”

Similarly, the tone you struck referring to Netanyahu and yourself in your July 7 interview with Israeli TV was distinctly out of tune with decades of unfortunate history with Israeli leaders.

“Neither of us try to surprise each other,” you said, “and that approach is one that I think Prime Minister Netanyahu is committed to.” You may wish to ask Vice President Biden to remind you of the kind of surprises he has encountered in Israel.

Blindsiding has long been an arrow in Israel’s quiver. During the emerging Middle East crisis in the spring of 1967, some of us witnessed closely a flood of Israeli surprises and deception, as Netanyahu’s predecessors feigned fear of an imminent Arab attack as justification for starting a war to seize and occupy Arab territories.

We had long since concluded that Israel had been exaggerating the Arab “threat” — well before 1982 when former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin publicly confessed:

“In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [Egyptian President] Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

Israel had, in fact, prepared well militarily and also mounted provocations against its neighbors, in order to provoke a response that could be used to justify expansion of its borders.

Given this record, one would be well advised to greet with appropriate skepticism any private assurances Netanyahu may have given you that Israel would not surprise you with an attack on Iran.

Netanyahu’s Calculations

Netanyahu believes he holds the high cards, largely because of the strong support he enjoys in our Congress and our strongly pro-Israel media. He reads your reluctance even to mention in controversial bilateral issues publicly during his recent visit as affirmation that he is in the catbird seat in the relationship.

During election years in the U.S. (including mid-terms), Israeli leaders are particularly confident of the power they and the Likud Lobby enjoy on the American political scene.

This prime minister learned well from Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon.

Netanyahu’s attitude comes through in a video taped nine years ago and shown on Israeli TV, in which he bragged about how he deceived President Clinton into believing he (Netanyahu) was helping implement the Oslo accords when he was actually destroying them.

The tape displays a contemptuous attitude toward — and wonderment at — an America so easily influenced by Israel.  Netanyahu says:

“America is something that can be easily moved. Moved in the right direction. … They won’t get in our way … Eighty percent of the Americans support us. It’s absurd.”

Israeli columnist Gideon Levy wrote that the video shows Netanyahu to be “a con artist … who thinks that Washington is in his pocket and that he can pull the wool over its eyes,” adding that such behavior “does not change over the years.”

As mentioned above, Netanyahu has had instructive role models.

None other than Gen. Brent Scowcroft told the Financial Times that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had George W. Bush “mesmerized;” that “Sharon just has him “wrapped around his little finger.”

(Scowcroft was promptly relieved of his duties as chair of the prestigious President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and told never again to darken the White House doorstep.)

If further proof of American political support for Netanyahu were needed, it was manifest when Senators McCain, Lieberman, and Graham visited Israel during the second week of July.

Lieberman asserted that there is wide support in Congress for using all means to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear power, including “through military actions if we must.” Graham was equally explicit: “The Congress has Israel’s back,” he said.

More recently, 47 House Republicans have signed onto H.R. 1553 declaring “support for Israel’s right to use all means necessary to confront and eliminate nuclear threats posed by Iran … including the use of military force.”

The power of the Likud Lobby, especially in an election year, facilitates Netanyahu’s attempts to convince those few of his colleagues who need convincing that there may never be a more auspicious time to bring about “regime change” in Tehran.

And, as we hope your advisers have told you, regime change, not Iranian nuclear weapons, is Israel’s primary concern.

If Israel’s professed fear that one or two nuclear weapons in Iran’s arsenal would be a game changer, one would have expected Israeli leaders to jump up and down with glee at the possibility of seeing half of Iran’s low enriched uranium shipped abroad.

Instead, they dismissed as a “trick” the tripartite deal, brokered by Turkey and Brazil with your personal encouragement, that would ship half of Iran’s low enriched uranium outside Tehran’s control.

The National Intelligence Estimate

The Israelis have been looking on intently as the U.S. intelligence community attempts to update, in a “Memorandum to Holders,” the NIE of November 2007 on Iran’s nuclear program. It is worth recalling a couple of that Estimate’s key judgments:

“We judge with high confidence that in fall of 2003 Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program. … We assess with moderate confidence Tehran has not restarted its nuclear program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons …”

Earlier this year, public congressional testimony by former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair (February 1 & 2) and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Gen. Ronald Burgess with Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. James Cartwright (April 14) did not alter those key judgments.

Blair and others continued to underscore the intelligence community’s agnosticism on one key point: as Blair put it earlier this year, “We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build a nuclear weapon.”

The media have reported off-the-cuff comments by Panetta and by you, with a darker appraisal — with you telling Israeli TV “… all indicators are that they [the Iranians] are in fact pursuing a nuclear weapon;” and Panetta telling ABC, “I think they continue to work on designs in that area [of weaponization].”

Panetta hastened to add, though, that in Tehran, “There is a continuing debate right now as to whether or not they ought to proceed with the bomb.”

Israel probably believes it must give more weight to the official testimony of Blair, Burgess, and Cartwright, which dovetail with the earlier NIE, and the Israelis are afraid that the long-delayed Memorandum to Holders of the 2007 NIE will essentially affirm that Estimate’s key judgments.

Our sources tell us that an honest Memorandum to Holders is likely to do precisely that, and that they suspect that the several-months-long delay means intelligence judgments are being “fixed” around the policy — as was the case before the attack on Iraq.

One War Prevented

The key judgments of the November 2007 NIE shoved an iron rod into the wheel spokes of the Dick Cheney-led juggernaut rolling toward war on Iran. The NIE infuriated Israel leaders eager to attack before President Bush and Vice President Cheney left office. This time, Netanyahu fears that issuance of an honest Memorandum might have similar effect.

Bottom line: more incentive for Israel to pre-empt such an Estimate by striking Iran sooner rather than later.

Last week’s announcement that U.S. officials will meet next month with Iranian counterparts to resume talks on ways to arrange higher enrichment of Iranian low enriched uranium for Tehran’s medical research reactor was welcome news to all but the Israeli leaders.

In addition, Iran reportedly has said it would be prepared to halt enrichment to 20 percent (the level needed for the medical research reactor), and has made it clear that it looks forward to the resumption of talks.

Again, an agreement that would send a large portion of Iran’s LEU abroad would, at a minimum, hinder progress toward nuclear weapons, should Iran decide to develop them. But it would also greatly weaken Israel’s scariest rationale for an attack on Iran.

Bottom line: with the talks on what Israel’s leaders earlier labeled a “trick” now scheduled to resume in September, incentive builds in Tel Aviv for the Israelis to attack before any such agreement can be reached.

We’ll say it again: the objective is regime change. Creating synthetic fear of Iranian nuclear weapons is simply the best way to “justify” bringing about regime change. Worked well for Iraq, no?

Another War in Need of Prevention

A strong public statement by you, personally warning Israel not to attack Iran would most probably head off such an Israeli move. Follow-up might include dispatching Adm. Mullen to Tel Aviv with military-to-military instructions to Israel: Don’t Even Think of It.

In the wake of the 2007 NIE, President Bush overruled Vice President Cheney and sent Adm. Mullen to Israel to impart that hard message. A much-relieved Mullen arrived home that spring sure of step and grateful that he had dodged the likelihood of being on the end of a Cheney-inspired order for him to send U.S. forces into war with Iran.

This time around, Mullen returned with sweaty palms from a visit to Israel in February 2010. Ever since, he has been worrying aloud that Israel might mousetrap the U.S. into war with Iran, while adding the obligatory assurance that the Pentagon does have an attack plan for Iran, if needed.

In contrast to his experience in 2008, though, Mullen seemed troubled that Israel’s leaders did not take his warnings seriously.

While in Israel, Mullen insisted publicly that an attack on Iran would be “a big, big, big problem for all of us, and I worry a great deal about the unintended consequences.”

After his return, at a Pentagon press conference on Feb. 22 Mullen drove home the same point. After reciting the usual boilerplate about Iran being “on the path to achieve nuclear weaponization” and its “desire to dominate its neighbors,” he included the following in his prepared remarks:

“For now, the diplomatic and the economic levers of international power are and ought to be the levers first pulled. Indeed, I would hope they are always and consistently pulled. No strike, however effective, will be, in and of itself, decisive.”

Unlike younger generals — David Petraeus, for example — Adm. Mullen served in the Vietnam War. That experience is probably what prompts asides like this: “I would remind everyone of an essential truth: War is bloody and uneven. It’s messy and ugly and incredibly wasteful …”

Although the immediate context for that remark was Afghanistan, Mullen has underscored time and again that war with Iran would be a far larger disaster. Those with a modicum of familiarity with the military, strategic and economic equities at stake know he is right.

Other Steps

In 2008, after Mullen read the Israelis the riot act, they put their pre-emptive plans for Iran aside. With that mission accomplished, Mullen gave serious thought to ways to prevent any unintended (or, for that matter, deliberately provoked) incidents in the crowded Persian Gulf that could lead to wider hostilities.

Mullen sent up an interesting trial balloon at a July 2, 2008, press conference, when he indicated that military-to-military dialogue could “add to a better understanding” between the U.S. and Iran. But nothing more was heard of this overture, probably because Cheney ordered him to drop it.

It was a good idea — still is. The danger of a U.S.-Iranian confrontation in the crowded Persian Gulf has not been addressed, and should be. Establishment of a direct communications link between top military officials in Washington and Tehran would reduce the danger of an accident, miscalculation, or covert, false-flag attack.

In our view, that should be done immediately — particularly since recently introduced sanctions assert a right to inspect Iranian ships. The naval commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards reportedly has threatened “a response in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz,” if anyone tries to inspect Iranian ships in international waters.

Another safety valve would result from successful negotiation of the kind of bilateral “incidents-at-sea” protocol that was concluded with the Russians in 1972 during a period of relatively high tension.

With only interim nobodies at the helm of the intelligence community, you may wish to consider knocking some heads together yourself and insisting that it finish an honest Memorandum to Holders of the 2007 NIE by mid-August — recording any dissents, as necessary.

Sadly, our former colleagues tell us that politicization of intelligence analysis did not end with the departure of Bush and Cheney…and that the problem is acute even at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which in the past has done some of the best professional, objective, tell-it-like-it-is analysis.

Pundits, Think Tanks: Missing the Point

As you may have noticed, most of page one of Sunday’s Washington Post Outlook section was given to an article titled, “A Nuclear Iran: Would America Strike to Prevent It? — Imagining Obama’s Response to an Iranian Missile Crisis.”

Page five was dominated by the rest of the article, under the title “Who will blink first when Iran is on the brink?”

A page-wide photo of a missile rolling past Iranian dignitaries on a reviewing stand (reminiscent of the familiar parades on Red Square) is aimed at the centerfold of the Outlook section, as if poised to blow it to smithereens.

Typically, the authors address the Iranian “threat” as though it endangers the U.S., even though Secretary Clinton has stated publicly that this is not the case. They write that one option for the U.S. is “the lonely, unpopular path of taking military action lacking allied consensus.” O Tempora, O Mores!

In less than a decade, wars of aggression have become nothing more than lonely, unpopular paths.

What is perhaps most remarkable, though, is that the word Israel is nowhere to be found in this very long article. Similar think pieces, including some from relatively progressive think tanks, also address these issues as though they were simply bilateral U.S.-Iranian problems, with little or no attention to Israel.

Guns of August?

The stakes could hardly be higher. Letting slip the dogs of war would have immense repercussions.  Again, we hope that Adm. Mullen and others have given you comprehensive briefings on them.

Netanyahu would be taking a fateful gamble by attacking Iran, with high risk to everyone involved. The worst, but conceivable case, has Netanyahu playing — unintentionally — Dr. Kevorkian to the state of Israel.

Even if the U.S. were to be sucked into a war provoked by Israel, there is absolutely no guarantee that the war would come out well.

Were the U.S. to suffer significant casualties, and were Americans to become aware that such losses came about because of exaggerated Israeli claims of a nuclear threat from Iran, Israel could lose much of its high standing in the United States.

There could even be an upsurge in anti-Semitism, as Americans conclude that officials with dual loyalties in Congress and the executive branch threw our troops into a war provoked, on false pretenses, by Likudniks for their own narrow purposes.

We do not have a sense that major players in Tel Aviv or in Washington are sufficiently sensitive to these critical factors.

You are in position to prevent this unfortunate, but likely chain reaction. We allow for the possibility that Israeli military action might not lead to a major regional war, but we consider the chances of that much less than even.

Footnote: VIPS Experience

We VIPS have found ourselves in this position before. We prepared our first Memorandum for the President on the afternoon of February 5, 2003 after Colin Powell’s speech at the UN.

We had been watching how our profession was being corrupted into serving up faux intelligence that was later criticized (correctly) as “uncorroborated, contradicted, and nonexistent” — adjectives used by former Senate Intelligence Committee chair Jay Rockefeller after a five-year investigation by his committee.

As Powell spoke, we decided collectively that the responsible thing to do was to try to warn the President before he acted on misguided advice to attack Iraq. Unlike Powell, we did not claim that our analysis was “irrefutable and undeniable.” We did conclude with this warning:

“After watching Secretary Powell today, we are convinced that you would be well served if you widened the discussion … beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.”
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/downloads/vipstwelve.pdf

We take no satisfaction at having gotten it right on Iraq. Others with claim to more immediate expertise on Iraq were issuing similar warnings. But we were kept well away from the wagons circled by Bush and Cheney.

Sadly, your own Vice President, who was then chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, was among the most assiduous in blocking opportunities for dissenting voices to be heard. This is part of what brought on the worst foreign policy disaster in our nation’s history.

We now believe that we may also be right on (and right on the cusp of) another impending catastrophe of even wider scope — Iran — on which another President, you, are not getting good advice from your closed circle of advisers.

They are probably telling you that, since you have privately counseled Prime Minister Netanyahu against attacking Iran, he will not do it. This could simply be the familiar syndrome of telling the President what they believe he wants to hear.

Quiz them; tell them others believe them to be dead wrong on Netanyahu. The only positive here is that you — only you — can prevent an Israeli attack on Iran.

Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

Ray Close, Directorate of Operations, Near East Division, CIA (26 years)

Phil Giraldi, Directorate of Operations, CIA (20 years)

Larry Johnson, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA; Department of State, Department of Defense consultant (24 years)

W. Patrick Lang, Col., USA, Special Forces (ret.); Senior Executive Service: Defense Intelligence Officer for Middle East/South Asia, Director of HUMINT Collection, Defense Intelligence Agency (30 years)

Ray McGovern, US Army Intelligence Officer, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA (30 years)

Coleen Rowley, Special Agent and Minneapolis Division Counsel, FBI (24 years)

Ann Wright, Col., US Army Reserve (ret.), (29 years); Foreign Service Officer, Department of State (16 years)

As U.S./E.U. Sanctions Rise, China Steps Deeper Into Iran

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Oldspeak: ” ‘Who can blame Iran for being so ferocious with China behind its back?’ China imports a large percentage of it’s oil from Iran, it then turns around and uses that oil for energy to produce most of the sweatshop produced cheaply made goods that dominate U.S. store shelves.  What happens if and when the U.S. decides to fuck with China’s energy? My guess is nothin good.”

From Antoaneta Becker @ ipsnews.net:

The European Union’s new sanctions against Iran appear to open a new space for eager Chinese companies to expand their investments in a country viewed as a rogue player by much of the western world.

With China recently coming to light as Iran’s largest trade partner, some Chinese analysts predict a wealth of new geopolitical and business opportunities with Iran. But officialdom may still waver at the idea of Beijing seen as a “free-rider”.

An energy-thirsty China has signed agreements with Iran worth tens of billions of dollars to allow it privileged access to Iran’s oil and gas sector. Courting the partnership of Iran, which possesses the world’s fourth largest reserves of oil and second largest of gas, has been a long and arduous process, and Beijing would loathe to jeopardise it.

In recently published memoirs China’s long-time ambassador to Tehran Hua Liming admitted that his diplomacy in Iran after China became an oil importer in the early 1990s had been entirely dictated by energy politics. Last year Iran accounted for 11 percent of China’s oil imports, ranking third among China’s main oil suppliers after Angola and Saudi Arabia.

Spurred by its energy needs, China has undertaken a range of investment projects in Iran, gradually filling in the void left over by Western firms forced out by international sanctions. With more than 100 Chinese companies present in Iran, it has built Tehran’s subway, power stations, ferrous metals smelting factories and petrochemical plants.

As bilateral trade reached 21.2 billion dollars in 2009, China surfaced as Iran’s most important trade partner. On paper the European Union still ranks as Iran’s largest trading partner, but if Chinese goods imported in Iran via the United Arab Emirates are considered, China has already overtaken the EU.

This has led some to believe that Iran’s defiant attitude towards the west derives somewhat from a newfound confidence that China is now supplanting Tehran’s traditional trade partners. “Who can blame Iran for being so ferocious with China behind its back?” says an opinion piece on one of China’s largest Internet portals China.com.

With international pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear programme mounting in the last few years, western companies began reducing their dealings with Tehran further, and Iran turned more to China for investment in its oil and gas sectors, says Dr. Harsh V. Pant, professor in the Department of Defence studies at King’s College, London.

The new round of sanctions agreed by the European Union means that “China will remain Iran’s most significant major power supporter, and there will be little incentive for Tehran to negotiate in good faith,” Dr. Pant tells IPS.

The sanctions target the oil and gas industries — the backbone of Iran’s economy, as well as foreign trade and financial services. They ban new EU investments in the energy sector and the export to Iran of key equipment and technology for refining and for the exploration and production of natural gas.

The EU foreign ministers announced the new restrictions a month after the U.S. imposed its own strengthened sanctions on Iran. Last month the UN Security Council passed a fourth round of international sanctions over Iran’s clandestine nuclear programme. China, a UN Security Council member, inconspicuously lent its support.

“Even though China does not want to be seen as ganging up with the West and hopes to maintain a strategic partnership with Tehran, it does not want to complicate relations with Washington either,” says Jonathan Holslag, research fellow with the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China studies.

Holslag believes Beijing has given “subtle but clear signals that it wants Iran to cooperate with the UN.” He points to Beijing’s decision to slow down investment in the Yadavaran oil field and delay the disbursement of loans. When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited the Shanghai Expo, Chinese leaders reportedly refused to meet him.

With China called upon to become a “responsible stakeholder” in the international system, Beijing has walked a fine line, trying to work in concert with the international community to force Tehran to abandon its nuclear weapons programme, while preserving its vital interests in Iran. Beijing supports non-proliferation efforts as part of its broader campaign to gain a higher international profile.

Attempting to water down previous UN sanctions has not only been for the purpose of protecting China’s energy supplies, argues Holslag. He believes the Chinese elite finds the sanctions counterproductive as they are “the grist for the mill of Iranian hardliners” and fuel “nuclear nationalism”.

On Sunday China’s top diplomat called for fresh nuclear talks and more diplomatic effort to resolve the standoff over Iran’s nuclear programme. “China continues on the path of negotiations” regarding Tehran’s nuclear energy programme, foreign minister Yang Jiechi said in Vienna.

A recent piece in the Chinese newspaper Global Times claimed that Beijing had secured tacit agreement from western powers that in any follow-on sanctions adopted by the U.S. and the European Union, China’s interests in Iranian energy and trade would be protected.

But “the new EU sanctions mean that the Iranian energy sector will continue to face major constraints in reaching its full potential,” says Dr. Pant. “And therefore China will find it difficult to exploit the sector fully.”

In his memoirs ex-ambassador Hua Liming recounts the difficulties China and Iran faced with securing the flow of Iranian high sulphur crude oil to China in mid-1990s. Although Iran now exports around 27 million metric tonnes of crude to China every year, the lack of knowhow and technology still impede the progress of several Chinese oil exploration and development projects in Iran.

U.S. Strike On Iran Likelier Than Ever, Former CIA Chief Says

In Uncategorized on July 26, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Oldspeak:“Anyone with half a brain knows that the quickest way to bankrupt the U.S., open it up to terrorist attacks worldwide, and start a never-ending shitstorm in the Middle East is to pick a fight with Iran, that the U.S. can’t even afford to finish. Can’t the U.S. Gov’t just come out and say it’s implementing phase 3 of “The Wolfowitz Doctrine” in the middle east and stop with all this bullshit about Iran being a threat to the region? IT’S AN OIL GRAB, PLAIN AS DAY!”

From The Associated Press & Haaretz:

A former CIA director says military action against Iran now seems more likely because no matter what the U.S. does diplomatically, Tehran keeps pushing ahead with its suspected nuclear program.

Michael Hayden, a CIA chief under President George W. Bush, said that during his tenure “a strike was way down the list of options.” But he tells CNN’s State of the Union that such action now “seems inexorable.”

“In my personal thinking,” Hayden said, “I have begun to consider that that may not be the worst of all possible outcomes.”

Hayden said that the likelihood of a U.S. strike on Iran has rises in face of Tehran’s defiance to halt its contentions nuclear program, saying “We engage. They continue to move forward.”

“We vote for sanctions. They continue to move forward. We try to deter, to dissuade. They continue to move forward,” he added.

The former CIA chief predicted Iran, in defiance of the international community, planned to “get itself to that step right below a nuclear weapon, that permanent breakout stage, so the needle isn’t quite in the red for the international community.”

Hayden said that reaching even that level would be “as destabilizing to the region as actually having a weapon.”

The United States, the United Nations and the European Union have imposed new restrictions on Iran over its nuclear enrichment activities, which the West fears could lead it to make a bomb.

The fourth round of U.N. sanctions calls for measures against new Iranian banks abroad if a link to the nuclear or missile programs is suspected and for vigilance on transactions with any Iranian bank, including the central bank.

On Saturday, several key Iranian officials estimated that the United States and Israel would not dare attempt a military strike of Iran’s nuclear sites, adding that they were confident that Iranian forces would easily repel such an attempt.

The United States, which has ships in the Persian Gulf, has not ruled out a military strike to thwart what it suspects is an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Iran denies its atomic program is aimed at making weapons.

Iran’s ISNA news agency quoted an aide to the country’ Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday as saying that Israel and the United States would never strike Iran, saying that “both the U.S. and Zionist regime face internal problems and they know that we make many troubles for them if they attack Iranian territory.”

Yahya Rahim Safav told ISNA that Iran’s armed forces were “fully prepared and enemies are aware of that, they do not have the power to take a political decision on the issue, because they know they can start the war but are not able to finish it.”

“Wwe need to be fully vigilant of these attacks, the enemy knows that it will regret if launches a land strike against Iran.” Safavi said.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency quoted the commander of the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad-Ali Ja’fari as saying that the United States would not dare to attack Iran as it is fully aware of Iran’s defense power and its nation’s determination.

Ja’fari also said, according to the IRNA report, that he considered his forces’ preparedness as being at their “highest level,” adding that recent sanctions imposed on Iran in view of its contentious nuclear program would have no impact on Iran’s potency.

Also Saturday, a former naval chief in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said his country has set aside 100 military vessels to confront each U.S. warship that poses a threat.
General Morteza Saffari is quoted by the conservative weekly Panjereh Saturday as saying that troops aboard U.S. warships “are morsels for Iran to target in the event of any American threat against Iran.”

In 2008, Iran put its most powerful military force, the Revolutionary Guard, in charge of defending the country’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, a vital oil route.
Speaking with the semi-official Fars news agency, Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said that the increased U.S. pressure on Iran were prompted by Washington’s desire to advance its “propaganda campaign “and gain control of the region.

Fars quotes Vahidi as saying that a military strike on Iran was unlikely, adding that Israel too was “uttering such remarks in a bid to reduce the growing international pressures through psychological warfare,” Vahidi told Fars.

“We, too, advise them not to seek trouble and tension in the region through spoiling the atmosphere,” Vahidi said.