Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category
Fascinating article by Jeff Stein in the Washington Post:
Gwenyth Todd had worked in a lot of places in Washington where powerful men didn’t hesitate to use sharp elbows. She had been a Middle East expert for the National Security Council in the Clinton administration. She had worked in the office of Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in the first Bush administration, where neoconservative hawks first began planning to overthrow Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
But she was not prepared a few years later in Bahrain when she encountered plans by high-ranking admirals to confront Iran, any one of which, she reckoned, could set the region on fire. It was 2007, and Todd, then 42, was a top political adviser to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.
Previous 5th Fleet commanders had resisted various ploys by Bush administration hawks to threaten the Tehran regime. But in spring 2007, a new commander arrived with an ambitious program to show the Iranians who was boss in the Persian Gulf.
Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff had amassed an impressive résumé, rising through the ranks to command a cruiser and a warship group after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Following a customary path to three stars, he had also spent as much time in Washington as he had at sea, including stints at the Defense Intelligence Agency and as director of the Clinton White House Situation Room.
Cosgriff — backed by a powerful friend and boss, U.S. Central Command (Centcom) chief Adm. William J. “Fox” Fallon — was itching to push the Iranians, Todd and other present and former Navy officials say.
“There was a feeling that the Navy was back on its heels in dealing with Iran,” according to a Navy official prohibited from commenting in the media. “There was an intention to be far more aggressive with the Iranians, and a diminished concern about keeping Washington in the loop.”
Two people who were there said Cosgriff mused in a staff meeting one day that he’d like to steam a Navy frigate up the Shatt al Arab, the diplomatically sensitive and economically crucial waterway dividing Iraq and Iran. In another, they said, he wanted to convene a regional conference to push back Iran’s territorial claims in the waterway, a flash point for the bloody Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
Then he presented an idea that not only alarmed Todd, but eventually, she believes, launched the chain of events that would end her career.
Cosgriff declined to discuss any of these meetings on the record. This story includes information from a half-dozen Navy and other government officials who demanded anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, many parts of which remain classified.
According to Todd and another witness, Cosgriff’s idea, presented in a series of staff meetings, was to sail three “big decks,” as aircraft carriers are known, through the Strait of Hormuz — to put a virtual armada, unannounced, on Iran’s doorstep. No advance notice, even to Saudi Arabia and other gulf allies. Not only that, they said, Cosgriff ordered his staff to keep the State Department in the dark, too.
To Todd, it was like something straight out of “Seven Days in May,” the 1964 political thriller about a right-wing U.S. military coup. A retired senior naval officer familiar with Cosgriff’s thinking said the deployment plan was not intended to be provocative.
But Todd, in an account backed by another Navy official, said the admiral “was very, very clear that we were to tell him if there was any sign that Washington was aware of it and asking questions.”
For the past year, the air had been electric with reports of impending U.S. or Israeli attacks on Iran. If this maneuver were carried out, Todd and others feared, the Iranians would freak out. At the least, they’d cancel a critical diplomatic meeting coming up with U.S. officials. Todd suspected that was Cosgriff’s aim. She and others also speculated that Cosgriff wouldn’t propose such a brazen plan without Fallon’s support.
Retired Adm. David C. Nichols, deputy Centcom commander in 2007, recalled in an interview last year that Fallon “wanted to do a freedom-of-navigation exercise in what Iran calls its territorial waters that we hadn’t done in a long time.” Nothing wrong with that, per se, but the problem was that “we don’t understand Iran’s perception of what we’re doing, and we haven’t understood what they’re doing and why,” Nichols said. “It makes miscalculations possible.”
Todd feared that the Iranians would respond, possibly by launching fast-attack missile boats into the gulf or unleashing Hezbollah on Israel. Then anything could happen: a collision, a jittery exchange of gunfire — bad enough on its own, but also an incident that Washington hawks could seize on to justify an all-out response on Iran.
Preposterous? It had happened before, off North Vietnam in 1964. In the Tonkin Gulf incident, a Navy captain claimed a communist attack on his ship. President Lyndon Johnson swiftly ordered the bombing of North Vietnam, touching off a wider war that turned the country upside down and left more than 58,000 U.S. servicemen dead.
Don’t tell anybody? No way.
Todd picked up the phone and called a friend in Foggy Bottom. She had to get this thing stopped. . .
Weight loss first: my weight has been dropping nicely, as expected, and I realized that I was applying some skills I learned from my earlier efforts.
First: go with the meal template (basically, the template I used as the basis of the grub idea: for a meal, use 3-4 oz protein, a small serving of starch (do not omit, but try for a slow-digesting starch like whole grains), not more than 2 tsp oil, a large serving of leafy greens, and vegetables as desired.
Second: do not miss mid-morning and mid-afternoon fruit snacks (a peach for each for me today). When I have omitted those, I have stopped losing weight.
Third: patience. Follow the plan, and take your weight daily. If you don’t see pounds dropping, look at what you’re eating and plug the leaks that allow more foods to enter. Some leaks I’ve found: beverages (even though it’s liquid, it can have calories: check how many); bites (just a quick bite… and then another… and another, and pretty soon you’ve eaten another whole meal—this leak is plugged by the rule “no food enters mouth save at meals and the two snacks); and so on.
Just keep with the plan, weighing, and making sure you’re eating. The weight should fall, and when it stops falling, that seems to indicate that some exercise is in order. So try walking.
In all this, keep plugging away, day by day, at the meal plan, avoiding bites, eating the snacks. The weight then comes off.
I needed a food log initially, because (a very bad sign) I was unconscious/unaware of exactly what I was eating how much I was eating. If you don’t know what you’re eating each day, and how much you weigh, you’re flying blind. The exercise comes in naturally enough: when you stop losing and you know your diet’s in hand, then start walking.
Those who lack patience do not know, in their bones, if they just keep up the drill, the weight will come off. It’s not rocket science at the daily meals level.
Second, war: Things we think are really great when the US is doing them—drones under remote control, killing people from the skies; computer viruses tailored to damage specific installations; kidnapping people and taking them to other countries to be tortured—have a very different appearance when they’re done to the US. And, unfortunately, daily life eventually catches up with highly advanced technology and it becomes widely available. Indeed, many third-world nations have much better telephone technology than the US because they got into the game late and so could get the most recent technology, while US firms are still depreciating assets that are now technically backward (cf. US “high-speed” broadband: extremely slow in comparison to other nations).
James Fallows points out some salient articles:
Steve Clemons has posted an Atlantic item just now on David Ignatius’s timely novel Bloodmoney, which deals among other things with how much less appealing drone warfare will seem to most Americans when we no longer monopolize the technology. The Atlantic’s Robert Wright made a similar point yesterday. There is another novel coming out this summer on the same theme, which I’ll say more about as its publication date nears.
I have just five minutes at the computer now, but I wanted to say that in this vein it is worth reading a new story in Russia Today, concerning the leaks/reports about the U.S. and Israeli success in using the Stuxnet virus against Iran’s nuclear labs. I am all in favor of unconventional means to dissuade or delay Iran from building a nuclear weapon, if the alternative is the Israeli leadership deciding to launch a (ruinous for all sides, including Israel) preemptive strike. But it is worth noting this paragraph far down in the Russian account, emphasis added:
The report says American cyber attacks are not limited to Iran, but the focus was overwhelmingly on Tehran’s nuclear program. Obama reportedly was hesitant to expand the use of the new brand of weapon. In fact, the US is arguably the one country in the world most vulnerable to cyber attacks on its infrastructure. Pioneering such operations would give other countries and power groups a justification to target America.
For now I have to leave it at that. No weapon remains the unique property of any one country forever.
The US walked very tall when we were the only nation to possess atomic bombs—then quite a few others got them, and atomic bombs didn’t look so good to us any more, much less thermonuclear bombs.
Blowback is a bitch.
One problem with malware is keeping it from spreading. And, of course, every new malware program offers a model for further development—i.e., we haven’t seen anything yet. Thomas Erdbrink reports in the NY Times:
The computers of high-ranking Iranian officials appear to have been penetrated by a data mining virus called Flame, in what may be the most destructive cyber attack on Iran since the notorious Stuxnet virus, an Iranian cyber defense organization confirmed on Tuesday.
In a message posted on its Website, Iran’s Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre warned that the virus is potentially more harmful than the 2010 Stuxnet virus, which destroyed several centrifuges used for Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. In contrast to Stuxnet, the newly identified virus is designed not to do damage but to secretly collect information from a wide variety of sources.
Flame, which experts say could be as much as five years old, was discovered by Iranian cyber experts and described by Kaspersky Lab, a Russian producer of anti-virus software, which published a description on its Website on Tuesday saying “the complexity and functionality of the newly discovered malicious program exceed those of all other cyber menaces known to date.”
The virus bears special encryption hallmarks that an Iranian cyber defense official said bear strong similarities to previous Israeli malware. “Its encryption has a special pattern which you only see coming from Israel,” he said. “Unfortunately, they are very powerful in the field of I.T.” . . .
Extremely interesting (and important) paper by James Dobbins, Dalia Dassa Kaye, Alireza Nader, and Frederic Wehrey. Who they are:
Ambassador James Dobbins directs the RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center. Dalia Dassa Kaye is a RAND senior political scientist and a faculty member at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Alireza Nader is a RAND senior international policy analyst focusing on Iranian political dynamics and foreign policy. Frederic Wehrey is a RAND senior policy analyst focusing on Persian Gulf security.
The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran has stoked tensions around the world. We argue that diplomacy and economic sanctions are better suited than military action to prevent the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran, that Israeli security will be best served by military restraint combined with greater U.S.-Israeli cooperation, and that the Iranian people offer the surest hope for a future Iran that is more amenable to U.S. interests.
An Israeli or American attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would make it more, not less, likely that the Iranian regime would decide to produce and deploy nuclear weapons. Such an attack would also make it more, not less, difficult to contain Iranian influence.
It is, after all, not Iranian aggression that its neighbors principally fear, but Iraniansubversion. It is Iran’s ability to appeal to potentially dissident elements within neighboring societies — to the Shia populations of Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Persian Gulf states, and to the more radical elements within Palestinian society — that is of most concern to these states. It is Iran’s appeal throughout the Islamic Middle East as a bastion of anti-American and anti-Zionist activity that most disturbs other regional regimes. This is true even of Israel, whose principal vulnerability is not to Iranian military pressure but to attacks by Iranian-supported Hamas and Hezbollah.
Containing this sort of influence would almost certainly become more difficult in the aftermath of an unprovoked American or Israeli military attack. Reaction among neighboring populations would be almost uniformly hostile. The sympathy thereby aroused for Iran would make containment of Iranian influence much more difficult for Israel, for the United States, and for the Arab regimes currently allied with Washington. This would be particularly true in newly democratizing societies, such as Egypt, where public opinion has become less fettered and more influential. International sanctions would erode, and Iran would likely redouble its efforts to develop nuclear weapons.
At this late date, the proximate objective of Western policy must be to dissuade Iran from testing and deploying nuclear weapons. Doing so will require that Western officials go beyond declaring such a step unacceptable and rather begin to illustrate how crossing this threshold will only increase Iran’s isolation, reduce its influence, and increase the regime’s vulnerability to internally driven change. Making such warnings credible will require broad international solidarity in support of ever-tighter sanctions. Threats of military action, and even more its actual conduct, would have only the opposite effect: reducing Iran’s isolation, increasing its influence, promoting domestic solidarity, and reinforcing the case for building and deploying nuclear weapons as soon as possible.
To prevent the rivalry between Israel and Iran from escalating into armed conflict, the United States should continue to discourage an Israeli military strike while strengthening Israeli capabilities in preparation for a future in which Iran may have managed to acquire nuclear weapons. U.S. leaders should bolster security cooperation and intelligence sharing with Israel while maintaining pressure on Iran, thus weakening its capacity to project power and fueling the debate within Iran over nuclear weapons.
A future Iranian regime may view Israel differently. Fundamentalists appear to have consolidated power since the 2009 Iranian presidential election, but the regime exhibits severe fractures and faces critical vulnerabilities. The potential emergence of a more democratic Iran or of more moderate leadership may diminish Iran’s hostility toward Israel as well as Israel’s heightened threat perceptions of Iran. The United States should pay close attention not only to Iran’s nuclear program but also to such issues as human rights abuses, signaling to the Iranian people that the United States cares about Iran as a nation, not merely as a problem to be solved.
Diplomacy and Sanctions
Iran and the United States have substantial grounds for their mutual antipathy. . .
For some reason, many of the wealthy seem greedy—I guess it makes sense: that’s probably why they became wealthy—but a reasonable marginal tax rate is something the country needs, and I seriously doubt that it will cause any suffering on the part of the wealthy. Stephen King has a good rant, pointed out by The Eldest:
Chris Christie may be fat, but he ain’t Santa Claus. In fact, he seems unable to decide if he is New Jersey’s governor or its caporegime, and it may be a comment on the coarsening of American discourse that his brash rudeness is often taken for charm. In February, while discussing New Jersey’s newly amended income-tax law, which allows the rich to pay less (proportionally) than the middle class, Christie was asked about Warren Buffett’s observation that he paid less federal income taxes than his personal secretary, and that wasn’t fair. “He should just write a check and shut up,” Christie responded, with his typical verve. “I’m tired of hearing about it. If he wants to give the government more money, he’s got the ability to write a check—go ahead and write it.”
Heard it all before. At a rally in Florida (to support collective bargaining and to express the socialist view that firing teachers with experience was sort of a bad idea), I pointed out that I was paying taxes of roughly 28 percent on my income. My question was, “How come I’m not paying 50?” The governor of New Jersey did not respond to this radical idea, possibly being too busy at the all-you-can-eat cheese buffet at Applebee’s in Jersey City, but plenty of other people of the Christie persuasion did.
Cut a check and shut up, they said.
If you want to pay more, pay more, they said.
Tired of hearing about it, they said.
Tough shit for you guys, because I’m not tired of talking about it. I’ve known rich people, and why not, since I’m one of them? The majority would rather douse their dicks with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing “Disco Inferno” than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar. It’s true that some rich folks put at least some of their tax savings into charitable contributions. My wife and I give away roughly $4 million a year to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment (Jaws of Life tools are always a popular request), schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts.Warren Buffett does the same; so does Bill Gates; so does Steven Spielberg; so do the Koch brothers; so did the late Steve Jobs. All fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.
What charitable 1 percenters can’t do is assume responsibility—America’s national responsibilities: the care of its sick and its poor, the education of its young, the repair of its failing infrastructure, the repayment of its staggering war debts. Charity from the rich can’t fix global warming or lower the price of gasoline by one single red penny. That kind of salvation does not come from Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Ballmer saying, “OK, I’ll write a $2 million bonus check to the IRS.” That annoying responsibility stuff comes from three words that are anathema to the Tea Partiers: United American citizenry. . .
I blogged earlier about Peter Beinart’s new book The Crisis of Zionism, which looks at the effects Israeli politics and practices, and now the attacks on Beinart are mounting. M. J. Rosenberg at the Huffington Post takes a look:
Almost all the criticism (and controversy surrounding) Peter Beinart’s The Crisis of Zionism comes down to two major complaints.
The first is that he is a “liberal Zionist” which, by some definitions, means he is just as indifferent to Palestinian rights as a rightwing Zionist. He believes in the idea and reality of a Jewish state and is primarily motivated by his sense of urgency about preserving it. He also does not support the right to return to Israel of all the Palestinian refugees (dating back to 1947) and their millions of descendants, viewing full return as a means to ending Israel’s existence. And, worst of all to some on the left, Beinart favors the so-called “two-state solution” which, although repeatedly thwarted primarily by settler-supporting Israeli governments, Beinart sees as the only means to achieve a solution fair to both peoples.
The second source of complaint (fury, actually) emanates from the “pro-Israel” right and its intensity dwarfs the criticism of those who attack from the left. The anti-Zionists primarily view Beinart as misguided and naïve, still a prisoner of the Zionist ideology on which he was raised. The “pro-Israel” right (and that includes virtually the entire “pro-Israel” establishment) views Beinart as evil, as a traitor and, as ridiculous as this sounds, an enemy of the Jewish people. No matter, that his goal is a secure Israel living side by side next to a secure Palestine. No matter that his love for Israel suffuses his entire book or that he is an observant Jew. For the “pro-Israel” right, Beinart is the enemy.
Understanding the right’s feelings about Beinart may be more the job of a psychologist than a pundit because it is so irrational that it cannot be addressed merely by citing facts. It is a mark of how crazy the debate over Israel has become in this country that it exceeds anything that goes on in Israel, which itself has more than its fair share of right-wingers.
For instance, take a look at this video from the top-rated Israeli show Big Brother, a television reality show in which a group of young people move into an apartment and live their lives on camera. These shows are popular worldwide but the brilliant exposition of the evils of the occupation that one character made on the Israeli show last week is unimaginable here. (U.S. reality shows avoid politics like the plague. But this is Israel).
Striking this about this video (besides the fact not even a Jewish Community Center would dare show it in the U.S) is the young man making the case against the occupation. He is the kind of person Zionism was supposed to produce: a proud Israeli, afraid of nothing. These are the kind of Israelis we don’t see much of in the United States anymore in contrast to the period before Israel became obsessed with maintaining the occupation and confronting Iran. You know, the Paul Newman (Exodus) kind of Israelis which, although a stereotype, is rooted in reality. The reason we don’t see them is because an Israeli government that is always making the case for the status quo based on fear would be ill-served by proud, unafraid Israelis speaking to Americans. It prefers fear mongering.
Take Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, for instance, whose mind seems to be in 1938 Europe.
In 2006, speaking of Iran, Netanyahu told an audience in Los Angeles. “It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany.” He said that the Iranian president who “denies the Holocaust” is “preparing another Holocaust for the Jewish state.”
Note: Netanyahu’s warning of the imminent danger of an Iranian nuclear weapon was delivered six years ago and it was far from the first Netanyahu warning that Iran was on the brink of achieving a nuclear bomb. It was also not the first time he said that the present day was reminiscent of 1938, although he has sometimes invoked 1942 or 1944.
The difference between Netanyahu and the young Israeli in the video (and most Israelis, I believe) is that . . .
Read James Fallows’s latest post. A reader has submitted a very intriguing reading of the issues.
Fascinating post in James Fallows’s blog that is a must-read. Begins:
A reader with a military background writes in response to my claim that “chickenhawks” are overrepresented, and U.S. military leaders underrepresented, among those clamoring for a strike on Iran:
An issue that I do not see being discussed nearly enough if at all in all the talk of further war in the Middle East is that the American military is probably very near the edge of breakdown, both in terms of material and in terms of leadership. My sense is that the senior leadership is well aware of these issues, but reluctant to spell it out in public.
One can look back at the aftermath of almost any war and see the degree to which the force needs to reconstitute before it is really able to execute more operations other than in a dire emergency. We have now been burning through people and equipment for ten years and exhaustion is setting in. Back in the day (Viet Nam era), as a planner for the Air Force we would think in terms of as much as a three to one ratio for serious force reconstitution. Given the present wars that could mean up to 30 years to put everything back in place–I don’t think the equation will necessarily work out that way, but it will take a good bit of time.
By reconstitution I mean not only . . .
If we have learned anything from our recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is that official Washington simply is incapable of learning—thus the insane eagerness to launch a war with Iran, one of the palpably worst ideas to be public proclaimed in recent weeks.
James Fallows has an interesting comment from a State Department intern.
I cannot for the life of me understand why some are so eager to have a war with Iran. One thought that occurs to me is that the pundits most enthusiastic for war not only will avoid the fighting, they in fact have avoided military service altogether. Brave at their typewriters, they call for war as casually as they’d order lunch. They have learned nothing.
Glenn Greenwald takes a look at US practices and progressive attitudes in a column well worth reading a contemplating: the US is moving in a bad direction. Death squads never turn out well: it seems like a wonderful idea—go around and kill people you dislike—but it inevitably ends in tears. Read this column and think about it:
Several days ago I referenced a controversy that arose in 2007 when the law professor and right-wing blogger Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds criticized President Bush for not doing enough to stop Iran’s nuclear program and then advocated that the U.S. respond by murdering that nation’s religious leaders and nuclear scientists. “We should be responding quietly, killing radical mullahs and Iranian atomic scientists . . . ,” he argued. The backlash against Reynolds’ suggestion was intense, especially among progressive writers.
Back then, I wrote about Reynolds’ suggestion several times, but I was far from alone. Law Professor Paul Campos wrote a column in the Rocky Mountain News denouncing Reynolds for publicly advocating “murder,” which, he pointed out, is exactly what this would be given that the U.S. is not at war with Iran (he went on to suggest that targeting civilian religious leaders and scientists would still be murder even if the U.S. were at war with Iran); Campos added: “government-sponsored assassinations of the sort Reynolds is advocating are expressly and unambiguously prohibited by the laws of the United States.” Law Professor Kevin Jon Heller documented with absolute clarity that such assassinations would be illegal in the absence of a formal war.
But the angriest reactions came from progressive bloggers, who widely denounced Reynolds as “contemptible” for suggesting this; one progressive writer, Lindsay Beyerstein, was horrified that one could even suggest such a thing, explaining that she ”despair[s] for our society when it’s necessary to supply a rigorous analytical exposition of why our government shouldn’t have scientists and religious leaders whacked.” Scott Lemieux railed against what he called Reynolds’ “kooky scheme for illegal death squads” as “crackpot,” “dumb” and “nuttier than a Planters factory.” And Kevin Drum, then ofWashington Monthly, went the furthest of all — in a post he entitled “Terrorism” — branding the killing of Iran’s scientists as “Terrorism”:
I imagine a lot of people agree with [Reynolds], but his recommendation really demonstrates the moral knot caused by George Bush’s insistence that we’re fighting a “war on terror.” After all, killing civilian scientists and civilian leaders, even if you do it quietly, is unquestionably terrorism. That’s certainly what we’d consider it if Hezbollah fighters tried to kill cabinet undersecretaries and planted bombs at the homes of Los Alamos engineers.
If you think Iran is a mortal enemy that needs to be dealt with via military force, you can certainly make that case. But if you’re going to claim that terrorism is a barbaric tactic that has to be stamped out, you can hardly endorse its use by the United States just because it’s convenient in this particular case.
What is most amazing about all this is that, a mere three years later, some combination of Israel and the U.S. are doing exactly that which Reynolds recommended. Numerous Iranian nuclear scientists are indeed being murdered.
In January, 2010, a remote-controlled bomb attached to a motorcyclekilled Masoud Ali Mohammadi, 50, who “taught neutron physics at Tehran University.” In November, 2010, two separate car bombs exploded within minutes of each other on the same day, one that killed nuclear scientist Majid Shahriar and wounded his wife, and the other which wounded another nuclear scientist, Fereidoun Abbasi, along with his wife. Then, in July of last year, Darioush Rezaei, 35, was shot dead and his wife was wounded by two gunmen firing from motorcycles outside of their daughter’s kindergarten; Rezaei “did his doctorate in neutron transport – which lies at the heart of nuclear chain reactions in reactors and bombs” and “was a member of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the country’s official atomic energy commission.”
And now, yet another Iranian scientist has been killed. According to Iranian media, a 32-year-old university professor, Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, died when an assailant riding on a motorcycle attached a magnetic bomb to his car, which then detonated and killed him. According to The Washington Post‘s Thomas Erdbrink, a conservative news outlet in Iran reported that the young scientist “was believed to be involved in procuring materials for Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz.”
What’s most remarkable here is to compare the boisterous, furious denunciations of the mere suggestion by a blogger on the Internet that Iranian scientists be killed, versus the relative silence in the face of its actually being done in real life, now that the corpses of murdered Iranian scientists are beginning to pile up. Does anyone doubt that some combination of the two nations completely obsessed with Iran’s nuclear program — Israel and the U.S. — are responsible? (U.S. officials deny involvement while pointing the finger at Israel, whose officials will not comment but “smile” when asked; the CIA has “targeted” Iran’s scientists in the past, several of whom have disappeared only to end up in U.S. custody, including one who “resurfaced in the United States after defecting to the CIA in return for a large sum of money”). At the very least, there has been no denunciation from any Obama officials of whoever it might be carrying out such acts. . .
Interesting report in the Christian Science Monitor by Scott Peterson and Payam Faramarzi:
Iran guided the CIA’s “lost” stealth drone to an intact landing inside hostile territory by exploiting a navigational weakness long-known to the US military, according to an Iranian engineer now working on the captured drone’s systems inside Iran.
Iranian electronic warfare specialists were able to cut off communications links of the American bat-wing RQ-170 Sentinel, says the engineer, who works for one of many Iranian military and civilian teams currently trying to unravel the drone’s stealth and intelligence secrets, and who could not be named for his safety.
Using knowledge gleaned from previous downed American drones and a technique proudly claimed by Iranian commanders in September, the Iranian specialists then reconfigured the drone’s GPS coordinates to make it land in Iran at what the drone thought was its actual home base in Afghanistan.
“The GPS navigation is the weakest point,” the Iranian engineer told the Monitor, giving the most detailed description yet published of Iran’s “electronic ambush” of the highly classified US drone. “By putting noise [jamming] on the communications, you force the bird into autopilot. This is where the bird loses its brain.”The “spoofing” technique that the Iranians used – which took into account precise landing altitudes, as well as latitudinal and longitudinal data – made the drone . . .
Of course, since the drone was in Iranian airspace, they were perfectly within their rights to bring it down. I don’t see how anyone could deny that, and I imagine the US would do the same if a hostile nation — Iran, for example — flew drones into US airspace.
- Backchannels: Obama taking heat for asking for US drone back? Pay little heed.
- DC Decoder: Could Iran copy the ‘beast’? US aircraft have been reverse-engineered before
- CIA cover blown in latest spy-versus-spy with Iran
- Opinion: Lieberman and Collins: Shipping industry must choose between Iran and the US
The war in Iraq is just about over—the country now totally wrecked, so we’re leaving, and they’re not even thanking us—and Afghanistan wants us out, tired of seeing us kill civilians and then deny it and then apologize and say steps will be taken, and then we slaughter some more. So what is the military-industrial complex going to do? Well, we’re working our way toward more wars, since we have to use up all that military materiel that we’ve bought.
The FBI seems to have instigated quite a few terrorist plots, that it then disrupts to great fanfare and self-accolades. The pattern is to find a few hopeless losers, send in an agent provocateur, and get the ball rolling. Usually the “plotters” require lots of help, because they are generally utterly incompetent. The FBI helps them find terrorist supplies, sometimes lends them money to buy the supplies, and ultimately nabs them and starts the press conferences.
This latest plot looked quite different at the outset, but the outlines are starting to fall into the old familiar pattern. Ryan Reilly at TPM Muckraker:
Friends Say Used Car Dealer Was Too Much Of A Mess To Pull Off Iranian Plot
Friends of Manssor Arbabsiar, the man accusedof trying to get a man he thought was affiliated with a Mexican drug cartel to arrange for the killing of the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S., aren’t exactly painting a picture of a criminal mastermind. In fact, they’re saying he’s not straight out.
“He’s no mastermind,” David Tomscha, who once owned a used car lot with Arbabsiar, told the Associated Press. “I can’t imagine him thinking up a plan like that. I mean, he didn’t seem all that political. He was more of a businessman.”
“His socks would not match,” Tom Hosseini, his former college roommate, told the New York Times. “He was always losing his keys and his cellphone. He was not capable of carrying out this plan. . .
The alleged Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States has cast Mexico into the news as a potential staging area for a terrorist operation.
But experts say the likelihood of such a plot going undetected in Mexico by U.S. authorities is low and that Mexico’s drug cartels would be unlikely to become involved.
U.S. officials alleged Tuesday that an Iranian-American and a member of Iran’s al Quds Force sought to enlist a Mexican drug cartel in a plot to kill Saudi Ambassador Adel al Jubeir in Washington, perhaps by bombing a restaurant he was known to frequent.
One of the men, Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, a naturalized U.S. citizen holding Iranian and U.S. passports, was said to have met in the Mexican border city of Reynosa with a Drug Enforcement Administration informant who he thought was a member of a violent drug cartel.
The barrage of 251,287 unredacted U.S. diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks released more than a month ago suggest that American diplomats maintain a steady focus on Iran’s activities in Latin America. In Mexico, that meant keeping an eye on a mosque in Torreon, watching the impact of Iran’s “dynamic” new ambassador, gauging public attitudes toward Iran and coaching agents at Mexico’s National Security and Investigation Center — CISEN in its Spanish initials — the domestic intelligence agency.
Strategic Forecasting Inc., an Austin, Texas, global intelligence firm commonly called Stratfor, on Wednesday described as unlikely any use of Mexico as a staging ground for a terrorist attack emanating from the Middle East.
It noted that . . .
Two American hikers imprisoned for more than two years by Iran on extremely dubious espionage charges and in highly oppressive conditions, Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer, were released last week and spoke yesterday in Manhattan about their ordeal. Most establishment media accounts in the U.S. have predictably exploited the emotions of the drama as a means of bolstering the U.S.-is-Good/Iran-is-Evil narrative which they reflexively spout. But far more revealing is what these media accounts exclude, beginning with the important, insightful and brave remarks from the released prisoners themselves (their full press conference was broadcast this morning on Democracy Now).
Fattal began by recounting the horrible conditions of the prison in which they were held, including being kept virtually all day in a tiny cell alone and hearing other prisoners being beaten; he explained that, of everything that was done to them, “solitary confinement was the worst experience of all of our lives.” Bauer then noted that they were imprisoned due solely to what he called the “32 years of mutual hostility between America and Iran,” and said: ”the irony is that [we] oppose U.S. policies towards Iran which perpetuate this hostility.” After complaining that the two court sessions they attended were “total shams” and that “we’d been held in almost total isolation – stripped of our rights and freedoms,” he explained:
In prison, every time we complained about our conditions, the guards would remind us of comparable conditions at Guantanamo Bay; they’d remind us of CIA prisons in other parts of the world; and conditions that Iranians and others experience in prisons in the U.S.
We do not believe that such human rights violation on the part of our government justify what has been done to us: not for a moment. However, we do believe that these actions on the part of the U.S. provide an excuse for other governments – including the government of Iran – to act in kind.
[Indeed, as harrowing and unjust as their imprisonment was, Bauer and Fattal on some level are fortunate not to have ended up in the grips of the American War on Terror detention system, where detainees remain for many more years without even the pretense of due process -- still -- to say nothing of the torture regime to which hundreds (at least) were subjected.]
Fattal then expressed “great thanks to world leaders and individuals” who worked for their release, including Hugo Chavez, the governments of Turkey and Brazil, Sean Penn, Noam Chomsky, Mohammad Ali, Cindy Sheehan, Desmond Tutu, as well as Muslims from around the world and “elements within the Iranian government,” as well as U.S. officials.
Unsurprisingly, one searches in vain for the inclusion of these facts and remarks in American media accounts of their release and subsequent press conference. Instead, typical is this ABC News story, which featured tearful and celebratory reactions from their family, detailed descriptions of their conditions and the pain and fear their family endured, and melodramatic narratives about how their “long, grueling imprisonment is over” after “781 days in Iran’s most notorious prison.” This ABC News article on their press conference features many sentences about Iran’s oppressiveness — “Hikers Return to the U.S.: ‘We Were Held Hostage’”; “we heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten” — with hardly any mention of the criticisms Fattal and Bauer voiced regarding U.S. policy that provided the excuse for their mistreatment and similar treatment which the U.S. doles out both in War on Terror prisons around the world and even domestic prisons at home.
Their story deserves the attention it is getting, and Iran deserves the criticism. But the first duty of the American “watchdog media” should be . . .
This article is well worth reading—unfortunately, the full thing is not on-line. From the abstract at the link:
ABSTRACT: ANNALS OF NATIONAL SECURITY about whether Iran’s nuclear program is being exaggerated. Is Iran actively trying to develop nuclear weapons? Members of the Obama Administration often talk as if this were a foregone conclusion, as did their predecessors under George W. Bush. There’s a large body of evidence, however, including some of America’s most highly classified intelligence assessments, suggesting that the U.S. 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 estimates of the state’s military capacities and intentions. The two most recent National Intelligence Estimates (N.I.E.s) on Iranian nuclear progress have stated that there is no conclusive evidence that Iran has made any effort to build the bomb since 2003. Yet Iran is heavily invested in nuclear technology. In the past four years, it has tripled the number of centrifuges in operation at its main enrichment facility at Natanz, which is buried deep underground. International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) inspectors have expressed frustration with Iran’s level of coöperation, but have been unable to find any evidence suggesting that enriched uranium has been diverted to an illicit weapons program. In mid-February, Lieutenant General James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, provided the House and Senate intelligence committees with an updated N.I.E. on the Iranian nuclear-weapons program. A previous assessment, issued in 2007, created consternation and anger inside the Bush Administration and in Congress by concluding, “with high confidence,” that Iran had halted its nascent nuclear-weapons program in 2003…
Israel has twice before successfully attacked and destroyed an enemy’s nuclear program. In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting — forever, as it turned out — Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions; and in 2007, Israeli planes destroyed a North Korean-built reactor in Syria. An attack on Iran, then, would be unprecedented only in scope and complexity.
Good news! Israel can successfully end a country’s nuclear program by bombing them, as proven by its 1981 attack on Iraq, which, says Goldberg, halted "forever, as it turned out — Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions."
Saddam Hussein never gave up his hope of turning Iraq into a nuclear power. After the Osirak attack, he rebuilt, redoubled his efforts, and dispersed his facilities. Those who have followed Saddam’s progress believe that no single strike today would eradicate his nuclear program.
When it suited him back then, Goldberg made the exact opposite claim, literally, of the one he makes today. Back then, Goldberg wouldn’t possibly claim what he claims now — that the 1981 strike permanently halted Saddam’s "nuclear ambitions" — because, back then, his goal was to scare Americans about The Threat of Saddam. So in 2002, Goldberg warned Americans that Saddam had "redoubled" his efforts to turn Iraq into a nuclear power after the Israeli attack, i.e., that Saddam had a scarier nuclear program than ever before after the 1981 bombing raid. But now, Goldberg has a different goal: to convince Americans of the efficacy of bombing Iran, and thus, without batting an eye, he simply asserts the exact opposite factual premise: that the Israelis successfully and permanently ended Saddam’s nuclear ambition back in 1981 by bombing it out of existence (and, therefore, we can do something similar now to Iran).
This is what a propagandist, by definition, does: asserts any claim as fact in service of a concealed agenda without the slightest concern for whether it’s true. Will the existence of a vast and menacing Iraqi nuclear program help my cause (getting Americans to attack Iraq)? Fine, then I’ll trumpet that. Now, however, it will help my cause (mainstreaming an attack on Iran) to claim that the Israelis permanently ended Iraq’s nuclear efforts in 1981, thus showing how well these attacks can work. No problem: I’ll go with that. How can anyone take seriously — as a Middle East expert and especially as a journalist — someone with this blatant and thorough of an estrangement from any concern for truth? Can anyone reconcile these factual claims?
Jonathan Schwarz, who flagged this contradiction, documents how Goldberg’s dishonest propaganda begins in the very first sentence of his new Atlantic article, which reads: "It is possible that at some point in the next 12 months, the imposition of devastating economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran will persuade its leaders to cease their pursuit of nuclear weapons." Schwarz explains the obvious: . . .
A Russian government report, which corroborated allegations that Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign interfered with President Jimmy Carter’s Iran-hostage negotiations in 1980, was apparently kept from the Democratic chairman of a congressional task force that investigated the charges a dozen years later.
Lee Hamilton, then a congressman from Indiana in charge of the task force, told me in a recent interview, “I don’t recall seeing it,” although he was the one who had requested Moscow’s cooperation in the first place and the extraordinary Russian report was addressed to him.
The Russian report, which was dropped off at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Jan. 11, 1993, contradicted the task force’s findings – which were released two days later – of “no credible evidence” showing that Republicans contacted Iranian intermediaries behind President Carter’s back regarding 52 American hostages held by Iran’s Islamic revolutionary government, the so-called October Surprise case.
I was surprised by Hamilton’s unfamiliarity with the Russian report, so I e-mailed him a PDF copy. I then contacted the task force’s former chief counsel, attorney Lawrence Barcella, who acknowledged in an e-mail that he doesn’t “recall whether I showed [Hamilton] the Russian report or not.”
In other words, the Russian report – possibly representing Moscow’s first post-Cold War collaboration with the United States on an intelligence mystery – was not only kept from the American public but apparently from the chairman of the task force responsible for the investigation.
The revelation further suggests that the congressional investigation was shoddy and incomplete, thus reopening the question of whether Reagan’s landslide victory in 1980 was, in part, set in motion by a dirty trick that extended the 444-day captivity of the hostages who were freed immediately after Reagan was sworn into office on Jan. 20, 1981.
The coincidence between Reagan’s inauguration and the hostage release was curious to some but served mostly to establish in the minds of Americans that Reagan was a tough leader who instilled fear in U.S. adversaries. However, if the timing actually resulted from a clandestine arms-for-hostage deal, it would mean that Reagan’s presidency began with an act of deception, as well as an act of treachery.
The Russian report also implicates other prominent Republicans in the Iranian contacts, including the late William Casey (who was Reagan’s campaign director in 1980), George H.W. Bush (who was Reagan’s vice presidential running mate), and Robert Gates (who in 1980 had been a CIA officer on the National Security Council before becoming executive assistant to Carter’s CIA Director Stansfield Turner).
Casey, who served as Reagan’s first CIA director, died in 1987 before the 1980 allegations came under scrutiny. Bush, who was President during the task force’s 1992 inquiry, angrily denied the accusations at two news conferences but was never questioned under oath. Gates, who was CIA director in 1992 and is now President Barack Obama’s Defense Secretary, also has brushed off the suspicions.
Sir Francis Bacon once said, “In civil business, what first? Boldness. What second and third? Boldness. And yet boldness is a child of ignorance and baseness.”
At the Nuclear Security Summit President Barack Obama is presiding over in a transportation-gridlocked Washington this week, he is achieving a boldness — but not of bravado. Rather, it is one of calculated subtlety and strategic depth.
Obama has brought together 47 world leaders to get them to commit to safer nuclear materials management practices and prevent trafficking in weapons of mass destruction.
Obama is changing the direction of global gravity. He is also confronting Iran without the shallowness of bombing vs. sanctions vs. public humiliation that his administration has been flirting with. In the past week, and over the next month, Obama is showing what a U.S.-led world order should look like.
This is a huge shift, for the world hasn’t had much faith in America’s abilities to deliver. For example, in taking on strategic challenges like getting the Israelis and Palestinians on a two-state pathway; or ending the anachronistically simmering Cold War conflict in U.S.-Cuba relations; or persuading Iran to forgo a nuclear weapons track, most of the world has seen an America unable to achieve the objectives it sets out for itself.
In recent years, this has translated into a sense that the United States is a well-branded, globally important but underperforming country, whose influence is weakening — more like a national version of General Motors than Google.
Now, out of the blue, Obama is changing the game.