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February 12, 2007

Froomkin nails Iran briefing story

Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post:

For a long time now, Bush admininstration officials have been promising reporters proof that the Iranian government is supplying deadly weaponry to Iraqi militants.

The administration finally unveiled its case this weekend, first in coordinated and anonymous leaks to a trusting New York Times reporter, then in an extraordinarily secretive military briefing at which no one would speak on the record, journalists weren't allowed to photograph the so-called evidence, and nothing even remotely like proof of direct Iranian government involvement was presented.

The result: The White House got the headlines it wanted.

Read the whole thing.

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And so effin' what if the Iranians are meddling in this futil carnage on their doostep that they didn't even start? Who wouldn't in their position? This administration looks at the expectable consequences it has provoked as if they were all the provocation needed to widen the war. It won't end til we impeach the sonofabush.

Thank the Lord for Froomkin. He's also produced an invaluable scorecard for those of us who are watching the "rollout" of the latest Administration "product" and rubbing our eyes in disbelief. Actually, it's intended audience is professional journalists, but I'm confident that they'll ignore it, and it's good advice for any thinking citizen.

Don’t assume anything administration officials tell you is true. In fact, you are probably better off assuming anything they tell you is a lie.

Well, I was pretty much working from that assumption already, but thanks for the reminder.

Read the whole thing.

The CIA and U.S. military intelligence is likely using paid informants in the Iranian government, military or MEK sources for some of their data about the Iranian arms, that revealing too much information to the U.S. press could compromise those sources and methods.

U.S. military intelligence engages in some programs that would really surprise some persons. During the Vietnam War, I knew a fellow who was actually older than high school students, but worked for a covert military intelligence program keeping data on high school students who opposed the war. In colleges, this intelligence gathering activity was even more widespread.

Both the CIA and military intelligence programs have had real problems infiltrating Al Qaeda as well as the Iranian government, so relying on making deals with MEK supporters has become a prime source of intelligence on the Iranian nuclear program.

However, in Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi and his brother simply scammed the U.s. government for monthly payment for bogus intelligence that they made up, and were a prime source of false WMD information about Iraq. In reality, the second in command of the Iraqi Air Force, General Georges Sada, had detailed where 60 gallon drums of fairly common chemical weapons compounds were transferred or sold to Syria in passenger airliners with the seats removed long before the 2003 invasion by the U.S. This is how the evidence of the chemical weapons WMDs disappeared. Saddam Hussein feared a coming U.S. invasion, and getting rid of this evidence was in case he was captured and put on trial for war crimes. But it didn't help, he was hung anyway.

Do you have a point, Paul? Or is your point that any attempt to make sense of the administration's "use" of "intelligence" ends up being a random patchwork of unconnected data and speculation?

I'm going to pull a bunny out of seemingly empty top hat, but none of you are going to see me do it. You're simply going to need to trust me on this one. I'll e-mail Lindsay and a few other select bloggers a picture of the bunny (provided they don't tell anyone what the bunny looks like), and that should be enough evidence for all of you.

That'll be $50 a piece, ladies and gentlemen. Hope you enjoyed the show!

Okay, I'll show everyone a picture of the bunny, just because I know there are some liberal skeptics out there who are always demanding some sort of "proof". So here you go, traitors.

I hope you're happy. You just weakened a nation.

Contact your Congressperson!

No war with Iran.

Tell your Congressperson to cosponsor House Joint Resolution 14 which says Bush needs permission to attack Iran.

Michael Schmidt, I thought several points were self explanatory, but here's my main points once again:

1. Intelligence cannot reveal all it's sources because it will compromise it's collection methods or agents.

2. From my experience, military intelligence in the U.S. during the Vietnam War era even had high schools infiltrated with data collectors to collect information on possible "subversives", so spy agencies are not beyond using infiltrators here in the U.S. or abroad like in Iran.

3.Iran and Al Qaeda both represent intelligence gathering difficulties, so the U.S. uses groups such as the MEK or any government or military individual who will respond to payment for information.

4. Data collection may not always be entirely accurate when payment is involved, and may even be trumped up a little so the individual can recieve monthly payments, like Ahmed Chalabi and his brother once did. Iraq did have chemical weapons, but the second in the command Iraqi Air Force General, Georges Sada, claimed that Iraq were either sold or transferred these chemical weapon components to Syria in passenger airliners with all the seats removed in 50-60 gallon drums. However most of these were cruder pesticide based poisons for chemical shells, not high tech biological weapons. Chemical weapons for the most part will generally kill less persons than a TNT warhead for example. So American inteligence was correct that chemical weapon WMDs once existed in Iraq, but failed to track the movement of these to Syria. And these chemical weapons had limited destructive effect, so the entire 2003 Iraq War was completely unnecessary as Iraq at that time presented no serious WMD threat.

But here's a new point. Intelligence is roughly correct in generally pointing to certain general items. However, it cannot always be accurate down to exact numbers or other specifics because paid agents may not have access to all information, so a certain amount of assumption is generally present.

For example the Shiite Mehdi Army militia of Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr largely operate in the areas near the Iranian border and in the Eastern part of Baghdad. They are largely illiterate, yet these new roadside bomb devices in question have Iranian markings and t involve the use of a laser beam transmitter and receiver, that when the beam is broken by a U.S. military vehicle fires two molten hot soft metal projectile bombs that burn right through up to 1 foot of metal and then explode killing the occupants.

It is a reasonable assumption here to accept that the largely illiterate Shiite villagers do not know how to construct high tech laser beam launched bombs made up of special soft metal alloy projectiles, and these high tech bombs are likely from the military science labs of Iran, which have the ability to produce many awesome high tech military goods including muliple warhead missiles.

But it is also reasonable to assume that the U.S. does not have the manpower left over from Iraq or Afghanistan to really challenge Iran, or has the willpower at home in the U.S. to do something about Iran. The Bush Administration probably made their case that Iranian arms do exist in Iraq. However, this will not become a prelude to war with Iran because the U.S. is overextended in military obligations already. The U.S. today agreed to a deal giving North Korea 1 million tons of oil today, because the U.S. cannot challenge this nation either at this time, so we pay off their nuclear agression.

The bottom line is evidence strongly suggests that high tech Iranian arms do exist in Iraq. But the Bush Administration will do not much about it other than make a point that Iran is a outlaw nation who either killed or wounded about 800 Americans so far in their proxy warfare in Iraq.

What you said about Ms. Marcotte quitting the Edwards campaign was thoughtful and considerate. Cheers to you.

But here's a new point. Intelligence is roughly correct in generally pointing to certain general items.

Bull. "Intelligence" has a remarkable track record of being almost completely wrong - witness the supposed soviet nuclear tests on the dark side of the moon, as just one example of many. But that doesn't matter, because intelligence is irrelevant to questions of policy anyway.

NO president would be entitled to the benefit of the doubt based on evidence like this. And this president sacrificed the last shreds of his credibility (with serious people) some time ago.

The inhabitants of Sadr City likely have a higher literacy rate than the country at large, and there's certainly no reason to think they're incapable of putting together bombs (ten-year-olds are doing it in Africa). Many members of the Shi'ite militias are, of course, also the beneficiaries of U.S.-taxpayer funded training.

Finally, while its quite easy to demonstrate an attack on Iran would not remotely be in our national interest, the same was true four years ago about Iraq. On this issue we may as well be citizens in an eighteenth century monarchy: one man is claiming supreme power to take this country to war, and the rest of us more or less have to wait out his decision. This one man has demonstrated himself to be almost pathologically removed from reality, surrounding himself with bootlicking sycophants and clinging to mindless optimism in the face of an impending catastrophe. And he also must be aware on some level that he's facing his worst nightmare: the collapse of his grandiose fantasies about himself, and humiliation in the front of the entire world.

There's nothing more dangerous than a fanatic cornered by reality, or a narcissist facing the collapse of the false image he projects to the world. (In the DV field, we recognize the latter as one of the types most likely to kill his family and burn the house down.) Bush has elements of both of these of types, and if he chooses to launch a third war its going to have more to do with his own desperation than any percieved national interest.

Dunc, the record of the intelligence community probably is only as good as the number of sources that it can put together to point information in a general direction. For example, during the Kennedy Administration in 1962 there was some unusual deep construction activity in San Crystalbal, Cuba that seemed inconsistent with what was required to build new housing units. U.S.spy aircraft overflights seemed to strongly suggest that some military project was at issue in Cuba.

Further tracking of Soviet ships suggested that missiles were being shipped to Cuba. From this evidence it could be assumed that Cuba was digging deep missile silos, and hiding these under dummy tents or temporary buildings. The Kennedy Administration then challenged Soviet Premiere Nikita Khruschev to back down and not to stage missiles so close to the U.S. border. In a nonaligned agreement, with the help of Robert Kennedy as a chief negotiator, an agreement for the U.S. to remove nuclear missiles from Turkey pointed at the Soviet Union was also reached. Both sides gave up some military objectives in favor of mutual security gains.

Negotiation clearly led to missiles being removed from areas near both country's borders. Pointing out a security concern is not always some prelude to war. Negotiation is often the next step. The nuclear situation with North Korea has resulted not in warfare, but yesterday's negotiated agreement. Likely the U.S. is laying out a case of both Iranian arms in Iraq as well as their nuclear program to lay some items on the table for some future negotiations, and some sort of concessions by both sides to bring relative peace with Iran, not war.

The Bush Administration recklessly used military force in Iraq, and has us booged down in a security situation nightmare quagmire. There is not the willpower in the U.S. for another war with Iran, nor has the U.S. the military resources or manpower to spare for another war with Iran. Because of this, the Bush Adminstration is forced to accept eventual negotiation with Iran due to political and military reality.

There is not the willpower in the U.S. for another war with Iran, nor has the U.S. the military resources or manpower to spare for another war with Iran. Because of this, the Bush Adminstration is forced to accept eventual negotiation with Iran due to political and military reality.

With all due respect, Paul, you're presuming a degree of rationality on the part of this Administration for which there is no evidence whatsoever.

Uncle Kvetch, I absolutely agree that this Bush Administration has lacked the normal rationality in foreign policy compared to most previous administratiions. On the other hand, Bush having squandered the military option with the unwise early misuse of military power in Iraq has forced both the U.S. agreement with North Korea yesterday, and some sort of eventual UN agreement with Iran over the nuclear issue or other outstanding issues. Reality has taken the military option off the table for both North Korea and Iran, except only in the most grave circumstance.

I agreed with this reasoning, Paul, for the longest time; what has begun to truly scare me is the speed with which war #2 is falling apart (though #1, of course, isn't going so well either). The prospect that the military can simply maintain the status quo, as horrendous as it is, in Iraq for another two years seems more and more remote. And that leads us to the question of how Bush and his vice-president would choose to cope with the reality of an undeniable defeat, and calamitous failure.

With the adminstration's up-front rejection of the ISG report, basically the last frail hope for a graceful exit from Iraq, I think its finally beginning to dawn on a few Establishment types that the adminstration genuinely believes their own rhetoric. Cheney thinks we're marching to victory in Iraq; George believes he's been specially chosen out by the Supreme Being. The more evidence piles up against these delusions, the more these men (and their worshippers) will cling to them like straw rafts in a hurricane. And the greater the likely explosion when reality finally bursts through their defences.

Paul, once again, Bush has only "squandered the military option" in Iran insofar as you're talking about a realistic military option that actually has a chance of accomplishing some real-world objective. And again, I have to point out that that is not the mental universe this administration inhabits.

For all we know, Bush is being told by someone in his inner circle that if he just bombs a few targets in Iran the people will spontaneously rise up, overthrow the mullahs, and rename the main drag of Teheran "George W. Bush Boulevard." And as Cass says, it's increasingly evident that we really are looking at that kind of delusion here.

Like Cass, I was firmly in the "Oh, they couldn't be that crazy" camp until quite recently. But these last few weeks have been such a picture perfect reiteration of the winter of 2002-03 that I've had to reconsider. They really are that crazy.

Along the same lines: a must-read, if you haven't read it already:

www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=164164

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