On Iran, Intelligence-Blind American War Planners Should Consult with the Better-Informed Israelis

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Chris Nelson.jpg
Chris Nelson, publisher of the “Nelson Report”
As I stated on Christopher Lydon’s NPR show, Radio Open Source, tonight — one of the take-aways from my recent Israel trip is that Israeli national security bureaucrats — diplomats and generals — have far greater confidence that there are numerous potential solutions to the growing Iran crisis short of bombing them in an invasive, hot attack.
One of the issues that came up in many of the national security related discussions I had was that Israel has maintained and cultivated a very strong human intelligence network inside Iran. The two nations were close strategic allies 25 years ago — and continue, in many behind-the-scenes ways, to communicate and possibly even to coordinate certain actions. It doesn’t mean that Israel is ready to appease Iran’s regional ambitions, but it does mean that I have witnessed far more worries about Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s anti-Holocaust and anti-Israel rhetoric in the U.S. than I did in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
Many serious Iran watchers in Israel think that chances are relatively high that “internal developments” will emerge in Iran to constrain Ahmadinejad’s “political options and political life.”
Chris Nelson, who writes the must-read Nelson Report echoed somewhat this Israel diffidence about U.S. stridency towards Iran in a fascinating excerpt of today’s report:

IRAN FLEXING. . .recall the 1980 Tanker Wars
SUMMARY: former UN arms controller Hans Blix is trying to infuse some adult supervision into the increasingly hot US-Iran nuclear standoff, with word that even if Iran proceeds along current lines, a workable nuclear weapon is 3 to 5 years away. . .assuming the US does not use military means to stop the program short of the risk of a successful bomb.
Keep Blix’s assessment in mind, when trying to assess the current, mutual threat phase, as each side jockeys for leverage.
The Brits, for example, seem to be warning that they think President Bush IS prepared to attack Iran unilaterally, if he can’t get the UN to go along. . .thus opening up so many risk scenarios it isn’t clear where to begin. (More on this, below)
In the past few days, Teheran has bragged about a 220 mph torpedo, a missile that apparently Superman couldn’t track, a flying-boat invisible to all but God, and no doubt other super-weapons ready and waiting to hit Gulf Oil shipping, US troops and bases, and Israel. . .not to mention Turkey, Jordan, and anyone else deemed helpful to the US in any way. (In other words, the 1980’s “Tanker Wars” on steroids…back to this in a moment.)
Surely not by coincidence, the London Sunday Telegraph had a huge “leak” of a secret briefing scheduled for yesterday on what the Bush Administration is planning in the way of military action IF diplomacy fails (text presented in full, below…it is a chilling survey of the situation and perceived alternatives…).
All this comes in the context of the UN Security Council giving Iran until the end of this month to come into compliance with the IAEA. If Iran compromises, then the current crisis dies down, you should pardon the expression, until the next time. If Iran continues on its present path. . .which many analysts now predict, given the policy of China and Russia to oppose a UN sanctions regime. . .then look to May for the start of a summer of rising tensions.
If Iran won’t back down, the US can be expected to seek a “coalition of the willing” to try sanctions, and appears willing to let this process play itself out over the early to mid summer, stage by stage. So what Moscow and Beijing have to decide is whether they, by blocking sanctions, inadvertently reduce US and European choices to surrender, or war.
It may be that Russia and China cannot bring themselves to believe that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, having so grossly miscalculated once, on Iraq, would do it again, on Iran. . .and so that in reality, Russia and China have the leverage of logic on their side.
The thrust of the Telegraph article is that the Brits think President Bush operates on an entirely different logic set, and that Bush is, indeed, prepared to use military means against Iran….but presumably not until bombs and missiles are the last stop before a fully realized Iranian nuclear weapon.
A hint of the sort of emotionalism the President is subject to may be seen in a full page ad in the N.Y. Times this morning (prominently paid for by The American Jewish Committee, oblivious to how it reinforces various heinous conspiracy theories) with an overlay map implying that future Iranian nuclear missiles would be able to strike deep into China, not just anywhere in Europe and the Middle East. . .and so, presumably, “proving” that an Iranian nuclear program must be stopped at all costs.
But if Blix is right about Iran. . .as he was for the past decade on Iraq. . .then the international community actually has more time to work on the Iranian crisis than much of today’s rhetoric and scare stories would indicate. Unless. . .
Unless Bush decides that it’s better to strike Iranian assets sooner, rather then letting Teheran build up its capacity to wreak conventional havoc across the Middle East. . .or nuclear havoc, as per the ad in today’s Times.
If one has a limited imagination, there IS a rational case for striking sooner, rather than risk being “too late”, and some of our sources are willing to speculate that President Bush has been told (or WILL be told) that the US can easily sink the Iranian navy in a day or two, and also effectively counter Iranian anti-ship missiles aimed at oil tankers in the Gulf, as in the ’80’s.
So among the questions Bush might face, within his White House bubble, is whether the US could effectively contain Iranian missile and truck bombs against targets in Iraq, Turkey, Israel, Jordan. . .and truck and car bombs in Europe and the United States. So far, the suicide bomb has not been used here at home, in shopping centers, subway stations, sports stadiums, et al.
Is Bush capable of concluding that the US would escape such retribution in the event of any sort of attack on Iran? That’s the billion….no, trillion dollar question.
In the meantime, the Telegraph “leak” seems to think that US air strikes might be supplemented by the Israeli Air Force. Our sources have consistently maintained that Israel has repeatedly warned the US that it would NOT attack Iran, due to Israel’s vulnerability to missiles and terrorism. We reported at the time, two years ago, then-Prime Minister Sharon standing in the Oval Office to warn Bush precisely on this point.
One expert who watches the Israeli situation adds to the impediments, arguing that the Israeli Air Force actually lacks the “reach” due to re-fueling requirements for over-flying Iranian air space. . .presuming that the US would either tolerate a unilateral Israeli attack, or a cooperative attack, given the implications of Iranian counter-attacks within Iraq, if not elsewhere.
Concludes a friend who genuinely worries that Bush might well chose war, “I am pessimistic about our preparedness for the Iranian response and pattern of escalation that is liable to follow. The whole thing could spiral out of control very fast. It’s one thing to fight Saddam. It’s another thing to tangle with Iran in any kind of protracted way that is really threatening to their regime, but to suppose that our military bases, government buildings, transportation systems, churches and synagogues…et al…are immune from harm.”

Nelson’s stuff is sooo good and, in my view, punches all the right buttons.
Here is the link to the Sunday Telegraph story he mentions titled “Government in Secret Talks About Strike Against Iran.”
But just a friendly note to all of those out there planning some hostile action against Iran — either as a summer fiasco or just as a back-up plan — pleae read the Iran chapter in James Risen’s State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.
While Risen has been winning awards and accolades for breaking the story on warrantless wiretaps, his revealing two key CIA mistakes on Iran is also incredibly important.
Risen reports that America botched the leaking of true Russian designs for a nuclear warhead trigger device that had embedded in it some flaws which America hoped might lead Iran’s nuclear program down a frustrating and incorrect path. The Russian defector the U.S. used to transmit these plans to the Iranian delegation to the IAEA actually informed the Iranians that there were mistakes in the blueprints.
Secondly, in an episode that is hardly believable but still rings true, a CIA headquarters officer accidentally sent an electronic communication to ALL of our human assets in Iran, those working for the CIA and those collaborating, in a manner such that someone on the other end could discern who all the others in the network were.
Iran has subsequently “rolled up” our network and shut down America’s eyes and ears inside Iran.
Add to this the Valerie Plame affair — in which it has been reported that she too was working to gain intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program. Of course, that operation has been spiked.
And does anyone remember that it was Ahmed Chalabi’s team who informed Iran that the U.S. had broken its codes. It was the Iraqi National Congress’s intel chief who turned out to be an Iranian spy. Chalabi’s operation worked out of Douglas Feith’s legal office before Feith moved into DoD. And Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress’s lawyer was former CIA Director R. James Woolsey.
Yes, those putting war plans together for Iran think carefully. We have botched so much already; don’t repeat errors.
And in this case, TALK TO THE ISRAELIS — the ones responsible for national security there. I found their sensibilities on Iran to be remarkably well informed, nuanced, confident, and sensible.
Nearly everyone I spoke to in Israel who ranged in political sympathies from the Likud right to Maretz left thought that the tone of the AIPAC conference had been too shrill and that Israel thought it wrong-headed and too impulsive to be engaged in saber-rattling with Iran at this stage.
In the past, I’ve been occasionally critical of Israeli influence over U.S. decisionmakers when I felt that American and Israeli national security interests were not as convergent in some respective case as some argued.
However, in this instance on Iran, Israel’s national security thinkers and diplomats are on the side of logic — and it is in American national interests to hear the Israeli position and consider the roots of their surprising position.
— Steve Clemons
Update: Two things. First, regarding the American Jewish Committee full-page ad yesterday in the New York Times advocating that the U.S. attack Iran. My point is that there is a serious gap — a major gap — between senior defense operatives, intellectuals and political personalities in Israel with the leading voices in the Jewish diaspora.
Secondly, I do not agree with Chris Nelson’s line that the reason for Israel’s reluctance to want to attack Iran has much to do with their geographic proximity to Iranian missiles. My point is that Israel has substantial intelligence resources inside Iran telling it that “there is time” to work on sensible solutions. They do not see Iran’s nuclear program as an imminent threat. They also believe that there are trends inside Iran that may “deal with” Ahmadenijad.
I think that Israel is making a lot of sense here — and if we are flying blind and they are not, we should learn from Israel what we can before we trip into a second major global catastrophe that may itself undermine what’s left of America’s position in the world.
— Steve Clemons

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  12. Jay says:

    Brian, you seem to forget who’s in charge in Iran. Would life be a safe party with a Nuclear bomb in those guys’ hands ?
    While I don’t care for Ann Coulter, I do think she put it best when she said “Liberals are normally a fun goofy bunch and I enjoy them, but
    at times like these they can get you killed”.

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  13. Mythbusters says:

    How many wars can America and Israel start in the name of “preserving the peace”? Reading Krauthammer’s latest screed this week about Iran getting the bomb being equivalen to the end of civilization, really focused for me how dangerous, utterly dangerous, neo-cons are. And, frankly, how delusional they are too. Applying their broad reading of pre-emption, no other country has the right to develop without our permission. Talk about becoming a rogue nation.

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  14. brian says:

    An attack on Iran would be a catastrophe for the world economy,and would only increase the rate of the decline of the US Empire…none of this worries the Israelis,or their friends in the USA…these people and their supporters in the upper levels of the US Government (where they are dominant.) ….only think of the needs and policies of the Jewish State,,…that’s all that matters to them…and the USA is hooked ,…tied to their wagon ..who has to courage to confront them,and set Israel adrift ?

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  15. Laughing Historian says:

    The following is the most intelligent piece I’ve encountered thus far on the possible scenarios for and consequences of a US attack on Iran.
    Essential reading for anyone who wants to talk intelligently about the subject.
    http://www.iranbodycount.org/

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  16. lallla-tida says:

    The official Israeli policy re Iran is to speak softly and minimize Israeal’s role in urging the international isolation of Iran and the probabilities of Israeli involvement in military strikes.
    Lt Gen Moshe Yaalon created a brouhaha in Israel by speaking out of turn at the Hudson Institute last month. Although (allegedly) he didn’t reveal anything new, the very fact that he discussed Israeli military options was not received well in DC or Tel Aviv.
    The following is a portion of a post by an attendee:
    “Yaalon says that there is certainly the option to significantly delay Iran’s efforts. Because Iran has learned from Israel’s attack on Iraq’s reactor, such an attack would be far more complicated. It would require multiple strikes lasting days at dozens of targets. But he said that despite some reports to the contrary, Israel has the necessary capabilities to carry it out: long-range aircraft and refueling capability; cruise missiles and other munitions that can penetrate Iranian defenses; bunker-busting bombs that would work against buried and hardened targets like Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facilities; and submarines to launch cruise missiles. And it has some defenses against Iranian attacks, such as the Arrow missile defense system for use against the Shahab.”
    http://sipasa.typepad.com/the_morningside_post/2006/03/iran_and_israel.html
    Somehow, the bright minds contemplating an attack on Iran have convinced themselves that should an attack happen, the roles of the prime movers will be obscured by disingenuous pretty words and Kabuki dances on the world’s stages.
    The target audience is the American public. The rest of the world won’t be fooled, but who cares what they think?

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  17. Jon Stopa says:

    From the very begining I’ve felt that the Plame outing was about destroying a CIA asset, not about hurting the credibility of Wilson. The idea that Wilson would be hurt by it being revealed that Plame supposedly used her CIA connection to send him to Africa seemed far fetched to me. Now it would seem that my first feeling might be correct.

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  18. Robert R. Clough - Thorncraft says:

    I believe I must agree with Time “Be Afraid, . . .” although not for their reason. I am certain that Bush is a very dangerous man. The most recent article I have seen is in the Daily Times, apparently of Pakistan (via Raw Story; see “two B-2s could take out Iran . . .” in Raw Story, 04/05.06), quoting Arnaud de Borchgrave in UPI, who states that a “prominent neo-con” with contacts in the WH and Pentagon staed that 2 B-2s could take out Iranian nuclear capabilities and that this is currently being considered very seriously.
    I would like to think this is typical conspiracy thinking/reporting/rumoring. Unfortunately, based upon our experience with Bush, this could be serious. Consider that he has consistantly used whatever information/intelligence that suited him. Consider that he has consistantly refused accept any constraints on his actions. Consider that he consistantly acts on his own ideas and thoughts as being the only correct, logical actions.
    I sincerely hope this is only 2006 politics but I am very afraid this is far more serious.

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  19. Jay says:

    It’s a leftist article. ‘Nuff said.

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  20. Joe says:

    Steve…you wrote that there “are numerous potential solutions to the growing Iran crisis short of bombing” but failed to mention a single one of those solutions.
    Could you give us three for four, please?

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  21. David Studhalter says:

    I simply cannot get my head around the idea that people in the Bush administration are seriously considering the military option against Iran. Isn’t it all too obvious that such action, at this juncture, would be sheer insanity? Iraq is a regional catastrophe and a major setback for the U.S. in terms of influence and gravitas as a potential military threat. A war against Iran would be a true global catastrophe.

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  22. chris_from_boca says:

    good luck with that hope steve. the bush administrtation sees flying blind as steadfastness.

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  23. Chris says:

    Laura, it’s not about whether it’s ironic that *now* we want to listen to Israel (as you suggest), or marky’s take on the Israeli public opinion breakdown (with which I suspect you may not agree), but it’s more along the lines of “Even right-wing Israelis aren’t concerned about Iran’s nuclear program now.” (you may recognize this rhetorical device if you’ve ever seen an argument begin, “Even the liberal New Republic…” by someone who wants to show that a position isn’t even endorsed by the people you’d expect to be among its natural and stronger supporters, back in the days when TNR was still seen as reliably liberal)
    Basically, the Israelis are our canary in the coal mine, and if they’re not worried about *themselves*, then we certainly don’t need to worry about the threat Iran poses to *ourselves*, or even to Israel.

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  24. marky says:

    Laura dear,
    There is no irony at all. The voice of Israel you favor is only a minority viewpoint. Sensible Israelis like the neocons no better than we do.

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  25. Laura says:

    So now all of the sudden we SHOULD listen to Israel? You gotta love the irony.

    Reply

  26. profmarcus says:

    “We have botched so much already . . .”
    As loathe as I am to say it, I truly believe there isn’t any “botching” going on here. To those of us who operate under the normal rules of reason and logic, most of the above vignettes look like something out of the Keystone Kops. But if you view them through the frame of what I am now convinced is the real Bush administration agenda, they all make perfectly good sense. Rather than mumble through the boring litany of what I think that agenda is, I will simply let Noam Chomsky speak for me.
    —————
    NOAM CHOMSKY: Bush administration policies have, again, consciously been carried out in a way, which they know is likely to increase the threat of terror. The most obvious example is the Iraq invasion. That was undertaken with the anticipation that it would be very likely to increase the threat of terror and also nuclear proliferation. And, in fact, that’s exactly what happened, according to the judgment of the CIA, National Intelligence Council, foreign intelligence agencies, independent specialists. They all point out that, yes, as anticipated, it increased the threat of terror. In fact, it did so in ways well beyond what was anticipated.
    —————
    Establishing a climate of global chaos, violence and general unrest in order to create and maintain a high level of fear in the u.s. and globally is the name of their game.
    http://takeitpersonally.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  27. Ghostman says:

    A fascinating article! Sir, this article is brilliant in its research and analysis. I’m not as adept as you, but I also tend to think that Bush wants a military strike against Iran. Several reasons: (but not as eloquent as your analysis) a) it just seems to me that Bush et al have painted themselves into a corner. Their constant blustering seems to leave them little opening but to have 1) complete capitulation by Iran, or 2) they would be wide open to the old “flip-flip” chant from 2004 if the Bush folks in any way soften their position. Not good choices!
    and b) the next problem in peacefully resolving this is the Iran leader. He sort of reminds me of Saddam in all his own bluster. On Iraq, Saddam just couldn’t come forward and prove there was no WMD, no ICBMs, no nerve gas, no chemicals, no atomic bomb factories, etc. Why? His own damn out-of-control ego. He (Saddam) felt it was “beneath him” to answer America’s questions and allay our worries. So he blustered on and on, and fed right into the hands of a White House that created a bunch of lies about Iraq. Well….this guy who is president of Iran strikes me in the same way. He (his name begins with an A, but too hard for me to spell) seems to be full of his own bluster. He just won’t have himself appearing weak, or giving in to the Americans…thus he seems to strut around like a peacock and constantly worrying the White House. Alas, this just seems to play right into the hands of the White House, a WH which I think is hell-bent on creating “facts” to justify military action. It’s Iraq all over again, I fear.
    Anyways, sorry to rattle on. Please keep up your very fine reporting and analysis. Ghostman

    Reply

  28. matt says:

    ” would guess that our intelligence assets in Iran were disclosed deliberately, just as with Plame, because good intel out of Iran is the last thing our current regime wants. …..”
    This seems conspiratorial and rather crazy – at first blush. There is operational sense behind this however. A network providing information, all of which would be likely to weaken – not strengthen – your ability to come to the decision you actually have pre-ordained, is in the truest sense of the word, a serious liability, not an “asset”

    Reply

  29. Pissed Off American says:

    It is absolutely inconceivable, in light of the unfolding disaster in Iraq, that we are seriously entertaining the notion that these maniacs intend to attack Iran. Yet, here we are. As every day unfolds, it becomes more apparent that our nation has ceased to be a democracy, and in no way resembles anything we once purported ourselves to be. Who now doubts that these treasonous bastards would have razed the towers to pursue their agenda? The question now, is not how deep the evil runs in this administration, but is how soon the American citizenry will awaken to the depth of that evil, and if it will be soon enough to salvage our democracy.
    ALERT;
    Please forward to your local elections officials:
    Warning: Black Box Voting has received credible first-hand reports from multiple states that Diebold is making unannounced visits to counties, sometimes when the elections supervisor is out of town. Diebold has prevailed on assistants and managed to gain access to the voting equipment.
    Elections employees report to us that their questions to Diebold are not being answered to their satisfaction.
    Here is what to look out for, and why this is so important:
    1. Program changes: Watch very carefully whether Diebold puts a card into your machine and boots it up. Alert your staff to be on the lookout for this. By inserting one card, either the operating system or the voting software can be altered. Inserting two cards can change both.
    Such changes can hide evidence of the kind of security vulnerabilities found by Harri Hursti and Security Innovation Inc. in Emery County, Utah. However, replacing the operating system and programs does not ensure the integrity of your machines, since the security vulnerabilities found appear to be able to survive overwriting both the operating system and the programs.
    2. Swapping out equipment or components: We have credible reports that Diebold has swapped motherboards in some machines. We have less firm reports that Diebold has made reference to repartitioning memory and/or other adjustments. Either swapping the motherboard or repartitioning could obscure evidence of programming that shouldn’t be there, and/or introduce new vulnerabilities to your system.
    3. Swapping or recording serial numbers. The Diebold serial numbers do not appears to be burned into the machine/motherboard itself, but are simply affixed with a plate that can be replaced.
    You should, immediately, photograph each of your machines’ serial numbers.
    Diebold denies that they have sold used equipment. However, a recent response from Deborah Seiler, the former Diebold sales rep who is now Elections Registrar for Solano County, California, gives a perception that someone is not being forthcoming.
    Solano County used the Diebold TSx for one election and then rejected the system. Seiler, who took office shortly after Solano rejected the Diebold equipment, has reportedly responded to a public records request for the Solano County TSx documents containing the serial numbers that the documents were given back to Diebold and that Solano County no longer has them.
    Diebold’s odd explanation in Utah, that there were perhaps Chinese or Asian fonts on touch-screens delivered to Utah, would be consistent with selling machines from California. There were some 800 to 900 TSx machines, apparently, rejected by Solano County.
    Black Box Voting encourages all recipients of “new” Diebold TSx machines to log serial numbers immediately, photograph or videotape them, and do so before Diebold arrives to visit your machines if at all possible.
    It would be a good idea to take the keys to the voting machine storage facility with you when you are not in the office. Advise your staff not to allow Diebold to access your machines without your presence.
    If Diebold comes to visit your machines, you are advised to tape record, videotape, and have several witnesses present to observe exactly what they do.
    Better yet, tell them you need a written work order specifying what they will be doing in detail before you authorize it, and stand over them to observe during any access to any part of your system.
    Diebold is a private company. As soon as you took delivery on your system, you have the responsibility to be in control of it and observe at all times. You are under no obligation to allow a vendor access (even if your state has mandated that you take these machines).
    The upcoming security report, along with the testimony of Wyle Labs at the California Senate Elections Committee hearing last week, provide clear indications as to why preservation of your system AS IT WAS DELIVERED TO YOU should remain “as is.”
    http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-auth.cgi?file=/1954/23120.html

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  30. clem says:

    Could it be that the assault on Iran was set in motion by Sharon, who is resting now, and that cooler heads in Israel are now hoping to prevail, despite the continuing efforts of the American Jewish Committee and other wilder “allies”? It’s too bad for all of us that the man who was listening is now the man the plan: George W. Bush (accompanied by Condoleezza Rice, who is clearly no match for anyone).
    The Bush adminstration’s hamhanded efforts to influence Iran’s politics have raised the most strident political voices and revived very recent memories of what it means to have the United States deselect the elected government.
    If the military is talking about “taking out” Iran’s nuclear facilities, the military is talking about preempting more than the development of a bomb. Preemption will also address retaliation and the protection of U.S. forces nearby, on land and in the water. Devastation that is anything less than complete won’t protect us from retaliation that rises above what we’re calling “terrorism.”
    We have watched the strutting and trash-talking before, and we know that Bush believes that even a moral and military disaster proves him right. Somebody has to stop him, and Congress could start by cutting off the money.

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  31. marky says:

    I would guess that our intelligence assets in Iran were disclosed deliberately, just as with Plame, because good intel out of Iran is the last thing our current regime wants. They are determined to attack Iran no matter what, and they definitely don’t want any accurate intel to get in the way of the propaganda campaign.
    By the way, is this leak you mentioned related to the Chalabi leak of a while back? If that’s the case, I think it bolsters the case for my theory.
    Lastly, now that all observers understand that Bush is not a rational actor, is there any way to determine whether or not he intends to use nuclear weapons on Iran?

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  32. Aunt Deb says:

    Yes, Nelson is excellent and yes, he is pushing the right buttons in terms of his intended audience. There is one point in which I disagree with the report above, however. Spiralling out of control wouldn’t take place after attacking Iran; the administration’s being out of control is what will precipitate this attack.
    It was very frightening to learn that Joseph Cirincione is also saying now that he thinks the Bush people are seriously thinking about a hot war with Iran as the ‘solution’ to the supposed nuclear program problem. Too many people in positions of some prominence are saying that Bush is not averse to preemptive invasion of some sort of Iran.
    The decoupling of AIPAC and Israel may be too fully achieved for any tamping down of the misplaced ardor of the attack-Iran-now forces, even with talking with Israel. I don’t really understand the dynamic, honestly, but it does seem that a certain number of powerful people are wilfully blind to the consequences of attacking Iran while arguing that the destruction of the nuclear program would be immensely beneficial.

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  33. Jim Ramsey says:

    I think I know what really motivates the Bush administration about Iran — it’s the mid-term election.
    2002 — Iraq
    2006 — Iran
    2010 — Syria ?
    I’ve stopped believing that George has any serious interest in carrying out his constitutional duty. I think he just wants to win elections and reward his friends.

    Reply

  34. VivaLaNSA says:

    The problem with talking to the Israeli intel people? The US will most likely end up talking to the ny-times ad placing fear mongers. http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/997/boogie-oogie-oogie
    Its not like noone in the US security club has figured this out. http://www.fas.org/man/eprint/ford.pdf
    And frankly, when someone mentions a “3 to 5” years from now to a “workable weapon” “estimate” I always start to wonder If he might have been walking around in front of New York buildings in an armed police uniform handing out duct tape shouting ”Be careful people, mushroom cloud ahead, get your duct take, mushroom cloud ahead!”
    The full Blix quote http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/wire/sns-ap-iran-blix,1,4194757.story : “We have time on our side in this case. Iran can’t have a bomb ready in the next five years,”… Nowhere does he mention 3 years. And nowhere does he even imply how far Iran will be after those five years! Blix apparent point: regardless of whose “estimate”, we will have at least five more years to talk, after that, we can still bomb. (Aka we will have until after 08)
    The US estimate is 10 years to a crude weapon that just won’t fit on a rocket…. There will be plenty of warning if Iran goes the wrong way as inspectors are still crawling all over the place regardless of how many screwups the CIA makes. (Kicking out inspectors == warning) And 10 years is thought to be many times the half-life of Ahmedinejad 😉
    My personal bet… after five years Iran will be seven years away if sneaking around under NPT. (Regardless of how (book?)smart they are, they have been very dependent on foreign experience. The Chinese pulled out (Clinton) and Russia wants Iran to buy Uranium… from Russia, Khan has been shut down, god know what his foreign friends are up to… but as far as I know did none of them ever actually run a successful conversion and enrichment facility….
    to quote armscontrolwonk.com “The thing about a crash program is that things, well, crash”
    Now I am all for making uncle George look so crazy he will be stopped by nothing, except maybe the EU-3 (aka “old,dungeon-less, Europe”)… but it looks like Iran is calling this bluff. (No doubt timed to coincide with whatever the Iran and the US have got going on the Iraqi political front.)
    The thing is that if you really want to know what the US is up to in Iran you may have to look no further than North Korea. The White house simply gave up there…. They told Roves army to stop using “the axis of evil” rhetoric, and that was that. And what North Korea can do to Seoul Iran can do to the Iraqi political process… times ten.
    For those who still remember “the axis”, turning two dangerous countries into three isn’t all that bad and once Iran takes full hold of Iraqi politics its really only gonna be two countries again anyway.
    Finally, I haven’t managed to fit the Chalabi UMBRA story with the “crypto AG” story…. (http://www.aci.net/Kalliste/speccoll.htm)

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  35. Doug says:

    Is Bush capable of concluding that the US would escape such retribution in the event of any sort of attack on Iran?
    The evidence of the last four years points to “yes.”
    Another question, are there prominent parts of this Administration who would prefer a United States on permanent lockdown? And isn’t it a sad testament to the GWB government that this question could be asked at all?

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  36. Carroll says:

    Huummm…..
    First..
    “A hint of the sort of emotionalism the President is subject to may be seen in a full page ad in the N.Y. Times this morning (prominently paid for by The American Jewish Committee, oblivious to how it reinforces various heinous conspiracy theories)”
    I don’t think the conspiracy theory is a “theory” any longer…and conspiracy isn’t the correct term anyway for Jewish/Israeli element in this country.
    It’s obvious, it’s in the open, it’s a working plan and political goal for some Jews and others who want to directly use America for Israel’s benefit, or what they see as Israel’s benefit..nothing “hidden” about it.
    Second…
    It’s a sweet ideal to be so nice and all and listen to the Israelis…and you may be right, maybe some of them actually have a idea that doesn’t involve US blood and treasure in the protection and furthering of Israel. Maybe just another few billion in a ‘concession” payoff of US tax dollars for not attacking Iran and starting WWIII.
    But I am going to stay cynical…this is after all, the country that has continued to build settlements forbidden in out offical aid to them, continued an illegal occupation against all international law, sold our weapons tech to China, pancaked an american peace activist with a bulldozer with no apology, shot half a dozen UN peace monitors, etc,etc,ect,etc,etc,etc…
    Think of Israel and/or AIPAC as the scorpion that asked the frog for a ride across the river…

    Reply

  37. Steve's Friend says:

    Truth in disclosure. I’m already a friend of Steve Clemons but I rarely read his blog, well not that much. I read the Babs Bush stuff which was hilarious.
    But I have to say that I finally got into it today, and doing something like Steve did here, comparing three takes on the same meeting is something you and I wish we had thought of doing, BUT WE DIDN’T. This Iran material and talking to Israel is also something that just makes so much sense the way he says it, but then again I have to ashamedly admit that I would never have thought of that approach, particularly given all the fireworks about Israel in general. Clemons is a damned genius when it comes to stuff like this.
    I just wanted to add my two cents as I haven’t before. Clemons markets ideas that matter, and he’s a nice guy. I feel weird posting something like this but I wanted TWN readers to know that Clem’s friends hear him and see him thinking about these far out policy ideas all of the time, and the guy just creates big moments and big “punctuation points” as he calls them in national debates.
    I never really knew that it was sort of an honor to hang with the guy now and then, when he’s around, which is rare.
    Enough said. good job Steve. Now I can say I read your site.

    Reply

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