Friday 19th of July 2019

changing course .....

from the Centre for American Progress …..

Stovepiping Intelligence

‘"Make no mistake, President Bush will need to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities before leaving office," writes Joshua Muravchik, a neoconservative scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "The global thunder against Bush when he pulls the trigger will be deafening, and it will have many echoes at home." So neoconservatives, Muravchik argued, "need to pave the way intellectually now and be prepared to defend the action when it comes." In that vein, Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, said last August, "We could be in a military confrontation with Iran much sooner than people expect." In a startling new article in the New Yorker, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh writes that, despite the recent bluster over Iran's attempts to build a nuclear bomb, a highly classified draft assessment by the CIA found "no conclusive evidence, as yet, of a secret Iranian nuclear-weapons program." According to Hersh, the White House has reacted with hostility to the CIA's report and, as it did with Iraq, is bypassing the agency by collecting and compiling its own intelligence for a possible military strike. On CNN yesterday, Hersh said there is an "internecine fight" going on between the CIA and the White House over the intelligence process, "the same fight, by the way, that we had before Iraq."

At issue between the White House and the CIA is access to secret intelligence on Iran allegedly being provided by the Israelis. According to Hersh's new article, "The Next Act," intelligence from "Israeli spies operating inside Iran claimed that Iran has developed and tested a trigger device for a nuclear bomb." The Israeli report is being used by White House hawks within the administration to refute the CIA and “prove the White House’s theory that the Iranians are on track" to build the bomb. A former senior intelligence officer told Hersh, "The problem is that no one can verify it. We don’t know who the Israeli source is. ... Where is the test site? How often have they done it? How big is the warhead -- a breadbox or a refrigerator? [The CIA doesn't] have that.” Hersh told CNN's Wolf Blitzer yesterday, "That information is being handled pretty much by the White House and various offices in the Pentagon. And the CIA isn't getting a good look at the Israeli intelligence. It's the old word, stovepiping. It's the president and the vice president. It's pretty much being kept in the White House." Hersh's reporting suggests a breakdown in the intelligence process -- similar to the one that occurred prior to the Iraq war -- is now happening with regards to Iran and may open to door to possible intelligence manipulation. Before the Iraq war, the White House set up intelligence stovepipes to “get information they wanted directly to the top leadership.” Cheney and allies inside the Pentagon relied on information provided by the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group headed by Ahmad Chalabi. “Chalabi’s defector reports were…flowing from the Pentagon directly to the Vice-President’s office, and then on to the President, with little prior evaluation by intelligence professionals.” Some of the most inaccurate intelligence about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction came from a Chalabi operative, known as Curveball.

Worried that the White House may attempt to manipulate the intelligence process again, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) proposed the Iran Intelligence Oversight Act last June, legislation meant to ensure that each of the administration’s claims on Iran would be backed up by the consensus assessments of intelligence analysts. "The White House cherry-picked and politicized intelligence to sell the [Iraq] war," Reid said. "Iran cannot and will not be another Iraq." The Iran oversight legislation was unanimously accepted in the Senate as an amendment to the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill. According to Hersh's new article, Cheney may be planning to ignore the new congressional mandate. Cheney said the White House would circumvent any restrictions imposed by the new Democratic majority "and thus stop Congress from getting in its way" on Iran. Cheney is adamant that whatever a Democratic Congress may do to ensure the President does not overstep his authority, "the Administration would find a way to work around it."

The White House policy on Iran has been "confused and defensive." While there is broad desire for Iran to stop its nuclear program, hard-liners inside the White House will settle for nothing less than regime change. These ideologues refuse to engage Iran diplomatically and carry a naively false hope that the people of Iran would embrace U.S. military force. As an esteemed group of former military and diplomatic leaders wrote last August, "The current crises must be resolved through diplomacy, not military action. An attack on Iran would have disastrous consequences for security in the region and U.S. forces in Iraq, and it would inflame hatred and violence in the Middle East and among Muslims elsewhere." The Iranians have indicated they would consider talks with the U.S. over regional issues, including Iraq, if requested. There were even reports last September that suggested Iran was "close to an agreement that would include a suspension of uranium enrichment." Yet, the administration's resistance to opening negotiations with Iran has prevented any progress towards a final deal. And Iran, sensing its strengthening position given the administration's difficulties in Iraq, is raising the stakes. Iran now now flouts the international community, issues verbal taunts at its adversaries, and aggressively advances its nuclear program. As evidence, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today said his nation plans to use 60,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium as part of its nuclear program, disregarding the international community's concerns. Iran so far has built about 300 centrifuges -- and these have operated sporadically, producing only very small quantities of low-enriched uranium.

Defense Secretary nominee Robert Gates has engendered bipartisan support, in part because he has advocated direct talks with Iranians in the past. He co-authored a Council on Foreign Relations report in 2004 that stated, “Washington should approach Iran with a readiness to explore areas of common interests while continuing to contest objectionable policy.” The replacement of Rumsfeld with Gates was commonly "seen as an acknowledgment that the Administration was paying a political price for the debacle in Iraq." But Hersh's article notes that, while the Gates appointment may be a conciliatory gesture, it holds little promise of a significant change in policy. "The White House saw Gates as someone who would have the credibility to help it stay the course on Iran and Iraq," writes Hersh. "Gates would also be an asset before Congress. If the Administration needed to make the case that Iran’s weapons program posed an imminent threat, Gates would be a better advocate than someone who had been associated with the flawed intelligence about Iraq." A former intelligence official noted, “He’s not the guy who told us there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and he’ll be taken seriously by Congress.” Joseph Cirincione, senior vice president for national security at the Center for American Progress, cautioned that Gates could end up being the fresh-faced advocate the White House needs to sell a strategically disastrous war. "The danger is that Gates could be the new Colin Powell -- the one who opposes the policy but ends up briefing the Congress and publicly supporting it,” he said.’

Abandon USS "Decider"!

From the Washington Post

The Only Real Option: Leave Iraq Now

By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, November 21, 2006; Page A27

Good lord, [|if even Henry Kissinger] now says that military victory in Iraq is impossible, pretty soon George W. Bush really will be left with just Laura and Barney on his side.

The Decider Agonistes must be feeling betrayed and abused these days. British Prime Minister Tony Blair's admission that the war has been "pretty much of a disaster" was just a slip of the tongue, but the president must have felt it as a cut most unkind.

end-game .....

‘Although Israel has never signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, many Israeli politicians believe that they are entitled to punish Iran for its non-compliance with the treaty. For these trigger-happy Israelis, Iran’s backdoor influence over Washington via the Iraqi Shia has become a nightmare.

The same is true of the Saudi princes. The Saudi Royal Family rules a largely Shia country on the basis of a fanatically enforced state religion whose senior spokesmen denounce the Shia as heretic scum. These feelings are entirely mutual — Iran’s mad mullahs hate the Wahhabis every bit as much.

Thus, if there is one country in the world more worried than Israel about an Iranian A-bomb, it is Saudi Arabia. And if there are two countries in the world with real influence on the Bush White House, they are Saudi Arabia and Israel. Now both these countries are telling President Bush that he must pull the plug on Iraq’s Shia Government, tear up the Baker report, whose most important advice was to open diplomatic channels to Tehran, and prepare to attack Iran, either directly or using the Israelis as a proxy.

This is the basis of the unholy alliance between Israel, Saudi Arabia and America, with Mr Blair contributing a few choice soundbites.

The anti-Iranian “arc of moderation” may seem like another meaningless Blairism, not nearly as threatening as Mr Bush’s “axis of evil”. But this soundbite could unleash a disaster on the Middle East, beside which the war in Iraq would be a mere sideshow.’

An Unholy Alliance Threatening Catastrophe

a clear & present danger .....

‘Dark clouds gather on the distant horizon - their presence trumpets the undeniable reality that something sinister is coming this way. As the light of truth and reality fades from the nation's political consciousness, between the flashes of lies and deceit is seen the foreboding outline of vultures awaiting tragedy and their chance to feast on the death it is certain to deliver. All of humanity has paused, marking time until George W. Bush and Dick Cheney order the U.S. military to attack Iran.

It shouldn't be long now.

Indeed, all of humankind is waiting.... Knowing, for if Iraq has taught the world anything it is that Mister Bush and Cheney can never have enough war and, too, that they will not allow anything to stand in their way of achieving conflict. With bated breath the world knowingly awaits America's Executive to unleash hell on Earth.

With ties to the Iran-Contra scandal, having served nefariously as Ambassador to Honduras, having made no impression in his role as ambassador to the Unite Nations, after achieving little success as the ambassador to Iraq, and possessing no distinguishing accomplishments during his long Foreign Service career; John D. Negroponte was neither a saint nor memorable public servant. With such an oft dubious and unremarkable career, it seems almost remarkable that he would be the only thing that stood between the President's insatiable appetite for war-driven chaos and peace with Iran. Yet, that has been the prevailing inside-the-beltway theory.’

"Dark Clouds Gather On The Distant Horizon: The World Awaits George W. Bush's Attack On Iran"