Herding Americans to War with Iran January 13, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Iran, War.
Tags: carter begin, Iran, iran nuclear, iran sanctions, iran scientist, iran war, israel iran, israeli terrorism, leon panetta, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, neocon propaganda, netanyahu, nuclear scientist, robert parry, roger hollander, war, washington post
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For many Americans the progression toward war with Iran has the feel of cattle being herded from the stockyard into the slaughterhouse, pressed steadily forward with no turning back, until some guy shoots a bolt into your head.
Any suggestion of give-and-take negotiations with Iran is mocked, while alarmist propaganda, a ratcheting up of sanctions, and provocative actions – like Wednesday’s assassination of yet another Iranian scientist – push Americans closer to what seems like an inevitable bloodletting.Cattle, mechanically immobilized before being stunned and slaughtered.
Even the New York Times now acknowledges that Israel, with some help from the United States, appears to be conducting a covert war of sabotage and assassination inside Iran. “The campaign, which experts believe is being carried out mainly by Israel, apparently claimed its latest victim on Wednesday when a bomb killed a 32-year-old nuclear scientist in Tehran’s morning rush hour,” Times reporter Scott Shane wrote in Thursday’s editions.
Though U.S. officials emphatically denied any role in the murder, Israeli officials did little to discourage rumors of an Israeli hand in the bombing. Some even expressed approval. Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said he didn’t know who killed the scientist but added: “I am definitely not shedding a tear.”
The latest victim, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, was the fifth scientist associated with Iran’s nuclear program to be killed in the past four years, with a sixth scientist narrowly escaping death in 2010, Fereydoon Abbasi, who is now head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.
As might be expected, Iran has denounced the murders as acts of terrorism. They have been accompanied by cyber-attacks on Iranian centrifuges and an explosion at a missile facility late last year killing a senior general and 16 others.
While this campaign has slowed Iran’s nuclear progress, it also appears to have hardened its resolve to continue work on a nuclear capability, which Iran says is for peaceful purposes only. Iranian authorities also have responded to tightening economic sanctions from Europe and the United States with threats of their own, such as warnings about closing the oil routes through the Strait of Hormuz and thus damaging the West’s economies.
Another front in Israel’s cold war against Iran appears to be the propaganda war being fought inside the United States, where the still-influential neoconservatives are deploying their extensive political and media resources to shut off possible routes toward a peaceful settlement, while building support for future military strikes against Iran.
Fitting with that propaganda strategy, the Washington Post’s editorial page, which is essentially the neocons’ media flagship, published a lead editorial on Wednesday urging harsher and harsher sanctions against Iran and ridiculing anyone who favored reduced tensions.
Noting Iran’s announcement that it had opened a better-protected uranium enrichment plant near Qom, the Post wrote: “In short, the new Fordow operation crosses another important line in Iran’s advance toward a nuclear weapons capability.
“Was it a red line for Israel or the United States? Apparently not, for the Obama administration at least. In a television interview Sunday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said: ‘Our red line to Iran is: do not develop a nuclear weapon.’ He asserted that Tehran was not trying to develop a weapon now, only ‘a nuclear capability.’ The Revolutionary Guard, which controls the nuclear program, might well take that as a green light for the new enrichment operation.”
While portraying Panetta as an Iranian tool, the Post suggested that anyone who wanted to turn back from an Iran confrontation was an Iranian useful fool. The Post wrote:
“The recent flurry of Iranian threats has had the intended effect of prompting a new chorus of demands in Washington that the United States and its allies stop tightening sanctions and instead make another attempt at ‘engagement’ with the regime. The Ahmadinejad government itself reportedly has proposed new negotiations, and Turkey has stepped forward as a host.
“Almost certainly, any talks will reveal that Iran is unwilling to stop its nuclear activities or even to make significant concessions. But they may serve to stop or greatly delay a European oil embargo or the implementation of sanctions on the [Iranian] central bank — and buy time for the Fordow centrifuges to do their work.”
The Post’s recommended instead “that every effort must be made to intensify sanctions” and to stop Iranian sale of oil anywhere in the world. In other words, continue to ratchet up the tensions and cut off hopes for genuine negotiations.
A Vulnerable Obama
The escalating neocon demands for an ever-harder U.S. line against Iran — and Israel’s apparent campaign of killings and sabotage inside Iran — come at a time when President Barack Obama and some of his inner circle appear to be looking again for ways to defuse tensions. But the Post’s editorial – and similar neocon propaganda – have made clear that any move toward reconciliation will come with a high political price tag.
Already, a recurring Republican talking point is that Obama’s earlier efforts to open channels of negotiation with Iran and other foreign adversaries proved his naivete and amounted to “apologizing” for America. Obama also has faced resistance within his own administration, especially from neocon-lites such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
For instance, in spring 2010, a promising effort – led by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazil’s then-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – got Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to agree to relinquish Iranian control of nearly half the country’s supply of low-enriched uranium in exchange for isotopes for medical research.
The Turkish-Brazilian initiative revived a plan first advanced by Obama in 2009 – and the effort had the President’s private encouragement. But after Ahmadinejad accepted the deal, Secretary Clinton and other U.S. hardliners switched into overdrive to kill the swap and insist instead on imposing harsher sanctions against Iran.
At the time, Clinton’s position was endorsed by editors at the Washington Post and the New York Times, who mocked Erdogan and Lula da Silva as inept understudies on the international stage. If anything, the Post and Times argued, the United States should take an even more belligerent approach toward Iran, i.e. seeking “regime change.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “WPost, NYT Show Tough-Guy Swagger.”]
As Clinton undercut the uranium swap and pushed instead for a new round of United Nations’ sanctions, Lula da Silva released a private letter from Obama who had urged the Brazilians to press forward with the swap arrangement. However, with Washington’s political momentum favoring another confrontation with a Muslim adversary, Obama retreated and lined up behind the sanctions.
Over the next nearly two years, the sanctions have failed to stop Iran’s work on enriched uranium which it claims is needed for medical research. Israel, the neocons and other American hardliners have responded by demanding still more draconian sanctions, while promoting anti-Iran propaganda inside the United States and winking at the murder of Iranian scientists inside Iran.
In this U.S. election year, Israel and the neocons may understand that their political leverage on Obama is at its apex. So, if he again searches for openings to negotiate with Iran, he can expect the same kind of nasty disdain that the Washington Post heaped on Panetta on Wednesday.
The Carter-Begin Precedent
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Likud leaders appear to fear a second Obama term – when he’d be freed from the need to seek reelection – much as their predecessors feared a second term for President Jimmy Carter in 1980. Then, Prime Minister Menachem Begin thought that Carter in a second term would team up with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in forcing Israel to accept a Palestinian state.
Begin’s alarm about that prospect was described by Israeli intelligence and foreign affairs official David Kimche in his 1991 book, The Last Option. Kimche wrote that Begin’s government believed that Carter was overly sympathetic to the Palestinians.
“Begin was being set up for diplomatic slaughter by the master butchers in Washington,” Kimche wrote. “They had, moreover, the apparent blessing of the two presidents, Carter and Sadat, for this bizarre and clumsy attempt at collusion designed to force Israel to abandon her refusal to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
Extensive evidence now exists that Begin’s preference for Ronald Reagan led Israelis to join in a covert operation with Republicans to contact Iranian leaders behind Carter’s back and delay release of the 52 American hostages then being held in Iran until after Reagan defeated Carter in November 1980. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege or Consortiumnews.com’s “The Back Story on Iran’s Clashes.”]
Today, Obama’s relationship with Netanyahu seems as strained as Carter’s relationship with Begin was three decades ago. And already many American neocons have signed up with Obama’s Republican rivals, including with GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney whose foreign policy white paper was written by prominent neocons.
So the question now is: Will the President of the United States take his place amid the herd of cattle getting steered into the slaughterhouse of another war?
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat. His two previous books are Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’.
Tags: aipac, atomic energy, iaea, Iran, iran nuclear, israel, journalism, judy miller, likud, new york times, nuclear capabilities, nuclear weapons, roger hollander, rogert naiman
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It’s deja vu all over again. AIPAC is trying to trick America into another catastrophic war with a Middle Eastern country on behalf of the Likud Party’s colonial ambitions, and the New York Times is lying about allegations that said country is developing “weapons of mass destruction.”
In an article attributed to Steven Erlanger on January 4 (“Europe Takes Bold Step Toward a Ban on Iranian Oil “), this paragraph appeared:
The threats from Iran, aimed both at the West and at Israel, combined with a recent assessment by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran’s nuclear program has a military objective, is becoming an important issue in the American presidential campaign. [my emphasis]
The claim that there is “a recent assessment by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran’s nuclear program has a military objective” is a lie.
As Washington Post Ombudsman Patrick Pexton noted on December 9,
But the IAEA report does not say Iran has a bomb, nor does it say it is building one, only that its multiyear effort pursuing nuclear technology is sophisticated and broad enough that it could be consistent with building a bomb.
Indeed, if you try now to find the offending paragraph on the New York Times website, you can’t. They took it down. But there is no note, like there is supposed to be, acknowledging that they changed the article, and that there was something wrong with it before. Sneaky, huh?
But you can still find the original here. Indeed, at this writing, if you go to the New York Times website, and search on the phrase, “military objective,” the article pops right up. But if you open the article, the text is gone. But again, there is no explanatory note saying that they changed the text.
This is not an isolated example in the Times‘ reporting. The very same day – January 4 – the New York Times published another article, attributed to Clifford Krauss (“Oil Price Would Skyrocket if Iran Closed the Strait of Hormuz “), that contained the following paragraph.
Various Iranian officials in recent weeks have said they would blockade the strait, which is only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, if the United States and Europe imposed a tight oil embargo on their country in an effort to thwart its development of nuclear weapons [my emphasis].
At this writing, that text is still on the New York Times website.
Of course, referring to Iran’s “development of nuclear weapons” without qualification implies that it is a known fact that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. But it is not a known fact. It is an allegation. Indeed, when U.S. officials are speaking publicly for the record, they say the opposite. As Washington Post Ombudsman Patrick Pexton noted on December 9,
This is what the U.S. director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March: “We continue to assess [that] Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.
To demand a correction, you can write to the New York Times here. To write a letter to the editor, you can write to the New York Times here. To complain to the New York Times‘ Public Editor, you write him here.
Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy. Naiman has worked as a policy analyst and researcher at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. He has masters degrees in economics and mathematics from the University of Illinois and has studied and worked in the Middle East. You can contact him here.
Seymour Hersh: Propaganda Used Ahead of Iraq War Is Now Being Reused over Iran’s Nuke Program November 21, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Iran, War.
Tags: amy goodman, Democracy Now, ehud barak, iaea, Iran, iran nuclear, iran sanctions, israel iran, jsoc, netanyahu, non-proliferation, nuclear weapons, roger hollander, Seymour Hersh
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www.democracy.org, Nov. 21, 2011
- Noam Chomsky on the 9/11 Decade and the Assassination of Osama bin Laden: Was There an Alternative?
- From One Ground Zero to Another: Sister of 9/11 Victim Meets Afghan Who Lost Family in U.S. Bombing
- A Debate on Human Rights Watch’s Call for Bush Administration Officials to be Tried for Torture
- Former CIA Agent Glenn Carle Reveals Bush Admin Effort to Smear War Critic Juan Cole
- Seymour Hersh: Despite Intelligence Rejecting Iran as Nuclear Threat, U.S. Could Be Headed for Iraq Redux
AMY GOODMAN: Today the United States, Britain and Canada plan to announce a coordinated set of sanctions against Iran. ABC News and the Wall Street Journal report the sanctions will target Iran’s oil and petrochemical industry. Last weekend, President Obama warned no options were being taken off the table.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The sanctions have enormous bite and enormous scope, and we’re building off the platform that has already been established. The question is, are there additional measures that we can take? And we’re going to explore every avenue to see if we can solve this issue diplomatically. I have said repeatedly, and I will say today, we are not taking any options off the table.
AMY GOODMAN: International pressure has been mounting on Iran since the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency revealed in a report the, quote, “possible military dimensions” to its nuclear activities. The IAEA said “credible” evidence, quote, “indicates [that] Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.” The IAEA passed a resolution Friday expressing, quote, “increasing concern” about Iran’s nuclear program following the report’s findings.
The speaker of Iran’s parliament said yesterday Iran would review its relations with the IAEA following the report. Ali Larijani indicated it may be difficult for Iran to continue to cooperate with the nuclear watchdog.
ALI LARIJANI: [translated] If the agency acts within the framework of the Charter, we accept that we are a member of it and will carry out our responsibilities. But if the agency wants to deviate from its responsibilities, then it should not expect the other’s cooperation.
AMY GOODMAN: Iranian parliamentary speaker. Meanwhile, some Iranians have expressed the desire for increased cooperation with the IAEA.
SAID BAHRAMI: [translated] Considering the fact that the government has made plenty of clarifications, it would be better for it to expand its cooperation with the IAEA and let them see for themselves, close up, so there would be no pretext for the superpowers.
AMY GOODMAN: Last week, the Pentagon confirmed it has received massive new bunker-busting bombs capable of destroying underground sites, including Iran’s nuclear facilities. The 30,000-pound bombs are six times the size of the Air Force’s current arsenal of bunker busters.
The new sanctions against Iran also follow last month’s allegations by the United States that Iranian officials were involved in a thwarted plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington. The U.S. is expected to announce today that Iran’s financial sector is of “primary money-laundering concern.” This phrase activates a section of the USA PATRIOT Act that warns European, Asian and Latin American companies they could be prevented from doing business with the United States if they continue to work with Iran.
Well, to talk more about the sanctions and the implications of the IAEA report, we go to Washington, D.C., to speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. He’s been reporting on Iran and the bomb for the past decade. His latest piece is titled “Iran and the IAEA.” It’s in The New Yorker.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Sy. Talk about what you feel should be understood about what’s happening in Iran right now in regards to its nuclear power sector.
SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, you mention, going in—by the way, the piece was in the blog. It wasn’t in the magazine; it was on the web page.
But you mentioned Iraq. It’s just this—almost the same sort of—I don’t know if you want to call it a “psychosis,” but it’s some sort of a fantasy land being built up here, as it was with Iraq, the same sort of—no lessons learned, obviously. Look, I have been reporting about Iran, and I could tell you that since ’04, under George Bush, and particularly the Vice President, Mr. Cheney, we were—Cheney was particularly concerned there were secret facilities for building a weapon, which are much different than the enrichment. We have enrichment in Iran. They’ve acknowledged it. They have inspectors there. There are cameras there, etc. This is all—Iran’s a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Nobody is accusing them of any cheating. In fact, the latest report that everybody’s so agog about also says that, once again, we find no evidence that Iran has diverted any uranium that it’s enriching. And it’s also enriching essentially at very low levels for peaceful purposes, so they say, 3.8 percent. And so, there is a small percentage being enriched to 20 percent for medical use, but that’s quite small, also under cameras, under inspection.
What you have is, in those days, in ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07, even until the end of their term in office, Cheney kept on having the Joint Special Operations Force Command, JSOC—they would send teams inside Iran. They would work with various dissident groups—the Azeris, the Kurds, even Jundallah, which is a very fanatic Sunni opposition group—and they would do everything they could to try and find evidence of an undeclared underground facility. We monitored everything. We have incredible surveillance. In those days, what we did then, we can even do better now. And some of the stuff is very technical, very classified, but I can tell you, there’s not much you can do in Iran right now without us finding out something about it. They found nothing. Nothing. No evidence of any weaponization. In other words, no evidence of a facility to build the bomb. They have facilities to enrich, but not separate facilities for building a bomb. This is simply a fact. We haven’t found it, if it does exist. It’s still a fantasy. We still want to think—many people do think—it does.
The big change was, in the last few weeks, the IAEA came out with a new report. And it’s not a scientific report, it’s a political document. It takes a lot of the old allegations that had been made over the years, that were looked at by the IAEA, under the regime or the directorship of Mohamed ElBaradei, who ran the IAEA for 12 years, the Egyptian—he won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work—somebody who was very skeptical of Iran in the beginning and became less so as Iran went—was more and more open. But the new director of the IAEA, a Japanese official named Amano, an old sort of—from the center-right party in Japan—I’m sure he’s an honorable guy, he believes what he believes. But we happen to have a series of WikiLeak documents from the American embassy in Vienna, one of the embassies in Vienna, reporting on how great it was to get Amano there. This is last year. These documents were released by Julian Assange’s group and are quite important, because what the documents say is that Amano has pledged his fealty to America. I understand he was elected as a—he was a marginal candidate. We supported him very much. Six ballots. He was considered weak by everybody, but we pushed to get him in. We did get him in. He responded by thanking us and saying he shares our views. He shares our views on Iran. He’s going to be—he’s basically—it was just an expression of love. He’s going to do what we wanted.
This new report has nothing new in it. This isn’t me talking. This is—in the piece I did for the New Yorker blog, it’s different for the blog because it has more reporting in it. I talked to former inspectors. They’re different voices than you read in the New York Times and the Washington Post. There are other people that don’t get reported who are much more skeptical of this report, and you just don’t see it in the coverage. So what we’re getting is a very small slice in the newspaper mainstream press here of analysis of this report. There’s a completely different analysis, which is, very little new.
And the way it works, Amy, is, over the years, a report will show up in a London newspaper, that will turn out to be spurious, turn out to be propaganda, whether started by us or a European intelligence agency—it’s not clear. This all happened, if you remember the Ahmed Chalabi stuff, during the buildup to the war in [Iraq], all about, you know, the great arsenals that existed inside [Iraq]. The same sort of propaganda is being used now—pardon me, I have a slight cold—that shows up over the years, over the last decade, in various newspapers. The IAEA would look at it, rule it not to be—be a fabrication, or certainly not to be supportable by anything they know. All of these old reports, with the exception of, I think, in a new study that was put out by the IAEA—there were maybe 30 or 40 old items, with only three things past 2008, all of which are—they—many people inside the IAEA believe to be spurious, not very reliable fabrications. So there you are.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Sy Hersh, you’re saying that it’s not new information. It’s a new head of the IAEA that’s making the difference here. Can you talk more about U.S. infiltration of Iran, JSOC in Iran, surveillance, as well, in Iran?
SEYMOUR HERSH: Sure. I mean, the kind of stuff they did. I could tell you stuff that was secret eight, nine years ago. We would—for example, we developed—if there was an underground facility we thought was—where we saw some digging, let’s say, in a mountain area, we would line the road, when there were trucks going up and down the road, we would line the road with what seemed to be pebbles. In fact, they were sensors that could measure the weight of trucks going in and out. If a truck would go in light and come out with heavy, we could assume it was coming out with dirt, they were doing digging. We did that kind of monitoring.
We also put all sorts of passive counters, measures, of radioactivity. Uranium, even plutonium—most of the stuff that’s being done there is enriched uranium. They’re not making plutonium. But you can track. At a certain point, you have to move it. Once you take it out and start moving it around, you can track it. You can find Geiger counters, if you will, to use that old-fashioned term. You can measure radioactivity and see increases. We would go into a building, our troops, sometimes even with Americans, go into a building in Tehran, where we thought there was something fishy going on, start a disturbance down the street, take out a few bricks, slam in another section of brick with a Geiger counter, if you will, or a measuring device to see if, in that building, they were doing some enrichment we didn’t know about.
And we also have incredible competence at looking for air holes from the air, from satellites. If you’re building an underground facility, you have to vent it. You have to get air into it. You have to find a way to remove bad air and put in fresh air. And so, we have guys that are experts, tremendous people in the community. Some of them retired and set up a private company to do this. They would monitor all of the aerial surveillance to look for air holes, so we could find a pattern, try to find a pattern, of an underground facility. Nada.We came up with nothing.
And the most important thing is, we also—and the IA—even this new report also says—let me emphasize this: if you’re not diverting uranium, if you’re not taking uranium out of the count and smuggling it someplace so that you can build a bomb—and that, the IAEA is absolutely categorical on—everything that they are enriching, whatever percentage they enrich to, is under camera inspection, and under inspection of inspections. It’s all open, under the treaty, the safeguard treaty. Nobody is accusing Iran of violating the treaty. They’re just accusing them of cheating on the side, or some evidence they are. And there’s been no evidence of a diversion. So if you’re going to make a bomb, you’re going to have to bring it in from someplace else. And given the kind of surveillance we have, that’s going to be hard to do, to import it from a third country, bring in uranium and enrich it, or enriched uranium. It’s just a long shot.
And what you have is—as I said, it’s some sort of a hysteria that we had over Iraq that’s coming up again in Iran. And this isn’t a plea for Iran. There’s a lot of things that the Iranians do that is objectionable, the way they treat dissent, etc., etc. So I’m just speaking within the context of the hullabaloo that’s up now. And as far as sanctions are concerned, you know, excuse me, we’ve been sanctioning Cuba for 60 years, and Castro is—you know, he may be ill, but he’s still there. Sanctions are not going to work. This is a country that produces oil and gas—less and less, but still plenty of it. And they have customers in the Far East, the Iranians. They have customers for their energy. We’re the losers in this.
AMY GOODMAN: How would you compare the Obama administration to the Bush administration when it comes to Iran?
SEYMOUR HERSH: I can’t find a comparison. Same—a little less bellicose, but the same thing. I do think—I have every reason to believe that, unlike Mr. Bush, President Obama really is worried about an attack. He doesn’t want to see the Israelis bomb Iran. That’s the kind of talk we’ve been getting in the press lately.
And there’s new—as you mentioned, the 30,000-pound bombs built by Boeing, I think. The problem is that most of Iran’s facilities, the ones that we know about, the declared facilities under camera inspection, a place called Natanz, is about 80, 75 to 80 feet underground. And you’d have to do a hell of a lot of bombing to do much damage to it. You could certainly do damage to it, but the cost internationally would be stupendous. The argument for going and bombing is so vague and so nil. There’s been studies done showing—technical studies, MIT and other places, and the Israeli government also has had its scientists participate in these studies, showing it would be really hard to do a significant amount of damage, given how deep the underground facilities are. But you hear this talk about it.
And there’s—you know, look, this president has said nothing about what’s going on in Tahrir Square again. We’re mute. He’s been mute on this kind of bellicosity. But my understanding is that, purely from inside information, is that he does understand the issues more. I think it’s right now a political game being played by him to look tough. You know, everybody’s chasing, you know, the independent vote. I don’t know why—what’s so important to go after people that can’t decide whether they’re Democrats or Republicans, but that seems to be the name of the game.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s turn to the response in Israel to the IAEA report. Yesterday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview with CNN the time has come to deal with Iran. When asked specifically whether Israel would attack Iran, this is how he responded.
DEFENSE MINISTER EHUD BARAK: I don’t think that that’s a subject for public discussion. But I can tell you that the IAEA report has a sobering impact on many in the world, leaders as well the publics. And people understand that the time had come. Amano told straightly what he found, unlike Baradei. And it became a major issue, that I think, duly so, becomes a major issue for sanctions, for intensive diplomacy, with urgency. People understand now that Iran is determined to reach nuclear weapons. No other possible or conceivable explanation for what they had been actually doing. And that should be stopped.
AMY GOODMAN: That was the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak. Sy, your response?
SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, what makes me nervous is Barak and Bibi, Bibi Netanyahu, are together on this. They’re not always together on many things. They both agree, and that’s worrisome because, again, it’s a political issue there. Everybody—the country is moving quickly to the right, Israel is, obviously. And I can just tell you that I’ve also talked—unfortunately, the ground rules are so lousy in Israel, I can’t write it, but I’ve talked to very senior intelligence people in Iran—in Israel, rather. If you notice, you don’t hear that much about it, but the former head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, who left—who was the guy that orchestrated the attempted assassinations in Dubai, etc.—no dove—has been vehement about the foolishness of attempting to go after Iran, on the grounds that it’s not clear what they have. They’re certainly far away from a bomb. Israel has been saying for 20 years they’re, you know, six months away from making a bomb.
But I can tell you that I’ve talked to senior Israeli officers in Israel who have told me, A, they know that Iran, as the American intelligence community reported—I think it was in ’07—there was a National Intelligence Estimate that became public that said, essentially, Iran did look at a bomb. They had an eight-year war with Iraq, a terrible war, 1980 to 1988. And we, by the way, the United States, sided with Iraq, Saddam Hussein at that time. Iran then, in the years after that, they began to worry about Iraq’s talk about building a nuclear weapon, so they did look, in that period, let’s say ’87 to—’97 to 2003, no question. The American NIE said in ’07—it was augmented in 2011. I wrote about it a year ago in The New Yorker. It said, yes, they did look at a bomb, but not—they knew that they couldn’t—there was no way they could make a bomb to deter America or Israel. They’re not fools. This Persian society has been around for a couple thousand years. They can’t deter us. We have too many bombs. They thought maybe they could deter Iraq. After we went in and took down Iraq in ’03, they stopped. So they had done some studies. We’re talking about computer modeling, etc., no building. They—no question, they looked at the idea of getting a bomb or getting to the point where maybe they could make one. They did do that, but they stopped in ’03.
That’s still the American consensus. The Israelis will tell you privately, “Yes, we agree.” They stopped most of their planning, even their studies, in ’03. The Israeli position is they stopped not because they saw what we did to Iraq, but they thought that we could—we destroyed Iraq—I had a general tell me this—we destroyed Iraq in—it took them—we did in three weeks what they couldn’t do in eight years. They thought they would be next. But the consensus was, yes, they stopped. And also, if you asked serious, smart, wise Israelis in the intelligence business — and there are many — “Do you really think, if they got a bomb—and they don’t have one now—they would hit Tel Aviv?” and the answer was, “Do you think they’re crazy? We would incinerate them. Of course not. They’ve been around 2,000 years. That’s not going to happen.” Their fear was they would give a bomb to somebody else, etc.
But there’s an element rationality in the Israeli intelligence community that’s not being expressed by the political leadership. It’s the same madness we have here. There’s an element of rationality in our intelligence community which says, in ’07, and it has said it again last year, they don’t have the bomb. They’re not making it. It’s at NIE, 16 agencies agreed, 16 to nothing, in an internal vote, before that—they did an update in 2011 on the ’07 study and came to the same place. It’s just not there. That doesn’t mean they don’t have dreams. It doesn’t mean scientists don’t do computer studies. It doesn’t mean that physicists at the University of Tehran don’t do what physicists like to do, write papers and do studies. But there’s just no evidence of any systematic effort to go from enriching uranium to making a bomb. It’s a huge, difficult process. You have to take a very hot gas and convert it into a metal and then convert it into a core. And you have to do that by remote control, because you can’t get near that stuff. It’ll kill you. So radioactive.
I mean, so, look, I’m a lone voice. And you know how careful The New Yorker is, even on a blog item. This piece was checked and rechecked. And I quote people—Joe Cirincione, an American who’s been involved in disarmament many years. These are different voices than you’re seeing in the papers. I sometimes get offended by the same voices we see in the New York Times and Washington Post. We don’t see people with different points of view. There are, inside the—not only the American intelligence community, but also inside the IAEA in Vienna. There are many people who cannot stand what Amano is doing, and many people who basically—I get emails—and this piece came out, was put up, I think, over the weekend. And I get emails, like crazy, from people on the inside saying, “Way to go.” I’m talking about inside the IAEA. It’s an organization that doesn’t deal with the press, but internally, they’re very bothered by the direction Amano is taking them.
It’s not a scientific study, Amy. It’s a political document. And it’s a political document in which he’s playing our game. And it’s the same game the Israelis are picking up on, and those who don’t like Iran. And I wish we could separate our feelings about Iran and the mullahs and what happened with the students from 1979, into the reality, which is that I think there’s a very serious chance the Iranians would certainly give us the kind of inspections we want, in return for a little love—an end to sanctions and a respect that they insist that they want to get from us. And it’s not happening from this administration.
AMY GOODMAN: Seymour Hersh, I want to thank you very much for being with us. His latest piece is on the blog at The New Yorker. It’s called “Iran and the IAEA.” Seymour Hersh won the Pulitzer Prize. His piece, you can see at The New Yorker’s website.
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What Media Coverage Omits about US Hikers Released by Iran September 26, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Iran, Media.
Tags: american hikers, bilal hussein, cia prisons, Cindy Sheehan, corportate media, desmond tutu, detainee abuse, glenn greenwald, Guantanamo, human rights, ibrahim jassen, Iran, iran hikers, iran hostages, joshua fattal, Media, Mohammad Ali, Noam Chomsky, propaganda, roger hollander, roxana saberi, sami al-haj, sean penn, shane bauer, solitary confinement, torture
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Published on Monday, September 26, 2011 by Salon.com
by Glenn Greenwald
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 highlighting the abuses of the U.S. Government, not those of other, already-hated regimes on the other side of the world. Instead, the abuses at home are routinely suppressed while those in the Hated Nations are endlessly touted. There have been thousands of people released after being held for years and years in U.S. detention despite having done nothing wrong. Many were tortured, and many were kept imprisoned despite U.S. government knowledge of their innocence. Have you ever seen anything close to this level of media attention being devoted to their plight, to hearing how America’s lawless detention of them for years — often on a strange island, thousands of miles away from everything they know — and its systematic denial of any legal redress, devastated their families and destroyed their lives?
This is a repeat of what happened with the obsessive American media frenzy surrounding the arrest and imprisonment by Iran of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, convicted in a sham proceeding of espionage, sentenced to eight years in prison, but then ordered released by an Iranian appeals court after four months. Saberi’s case became a true cause célèbre among American journalists, with large numbers of them flamboyantly denouncing Iran and demanding her release. But when their own government imprisoned numerous journalists for many years without any charges of any kind — Al Jazeera’s Sami al-Haj in Guantanamo, Associated Press’ Bilal Hussein for more than two years in Iraq, Reuters’ photographer Ibrahim Jassan even after an Iraqi court exonerated him, and literally dozens of other journalists without charge — it was very difficult to find any mention of their cases in American media outlets.
What we find here yet again is that government-serving American establish media outlets relish the opportunity to report negatively on enemies and other adversaries of the U.S. government (that is the same mindset that accounts for the predicable, trite condescension by the New York Times toward the Wall Street protests, the same way they constantly downplayed Iraq War protests). But to exactly the same extent that they love depicting America’s Enemies as Bad, they hate reporting facts that make the U.S. Government look the same.
That’s why Fattal and Bauer receive so much attention while victims of America’s ongoing lawless detention scheme are ignored. It’s why media stars bravely denounce the conditions of Iran’s “notorious prison” while ignoring America’s own inhumane prison regime on both foreign and U.S. soil. It’s why imprisonment via sham trials in Iran stir such outrage while due-process-free imprisonment (and assassinations) by the U.S. stir so little. And it’s why so many Americans know Roxana Saberi but so few know Sami al-Haj.
An actual watchdog press is, first and foremost, eager to expose the corruption and wrongdoing of their own government. By contrast, a propaganda establishment press is eager to suppress that, and there is no better way of doing so than by obsessing on the sins of nations on the other side of the world while ignoring the ones at home. If only establishment media outlets displayed a fraction of the bravery and integrity of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who had a good excuse to focus exclusively on Iran’s sins but — a mere few days after being released from a horrible, unjust ordeal — chose instead to present the full picture.
Read more at Salon.com
© 2011 Salon.com
Glenn Greenwald was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book “How Would a Patriot Act?,” a critique of the Bush administration’s use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, “A Tragic Legacy”, examines the Bush legacy. His next book is titled “With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful.”
15 Comments so far
Posted by Paul Revere
Sep 26 2011 – 12:25pm.
” A propaganda establishment press “. Glenn, that says it all!
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Posted by Progressive101
Sep 26 2011 – 12:27pm.
Another good article by Greenwald.
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Posted by Oikos
Sep 26 2011 – 12:30pm.
Couldn’t our hikers do more to broadcast their sentiments regarding the U.S. policies towards Iran and the U.S. practice of torture and imprisonment without process? There are Facebook and other Web venues.
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Posted by der
Sep 26 2011 – 1:02pm.
For the nth time, the New York Times’ public editor has investigated Ethan Bronner’s conficts of interest for justifying Israel’s crimes, large and small, and for the nth time has found him not guilty. Something tells me the Times’ owners are getting from Bronner exactly what they pay him to do.
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Posted by Curtis
Sep 26 2011 – 1:05pm.
Maybe a travel agency can set up a trip to recreate the hike these adventurers took in Iraq. Of course it would have to stay in Iraq, but with Google Earth that shouldn’t be too hard.
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Posted by Salusa Secundus
Sep 26 2011 – 1:19pm.
Excellent article by Glenn Greenwald
The economic royalist banksters who invest in endless wars for endless profits are We The People’s truest enemies.
As I see it, they have three main weapons at their disposal:
A) Infiltration and control of the government through the rigged/money based election process
B) Infiltration and control of the Pentagon and our defense system, achieved through the corruption of the political process (A), which ensures that gov’t reps and military budget overseers remain trapped in the highly lucrative game of military spending and investiture.
C) Infiltration and control of the public’s information, through full-spectrum dominance and consolidation of the media aparatus. This is perhaps the most insidious of the usurpations by the banksters, as it normalizes the criminality and deep corruption of the first two controls. Through command of the public mouthpiece, the People will *perpetually* be told the same lies, and will have no other means of checking the validity of such narratives, other than turning to ‘underground’ sources, which by definition the mainstream is loath to do.
“Whoever controls the image and information of the past determines what and how future generations will think; whoever controls the information and images of the present determines how those same people will view the past.
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Posted by marcos
Sep 26 2011 – 1:30pm.
I was imprisoned for three years in New York City federal detention centers and even given a trial. Not only are the worst abuses not in Iran, but they are not even in U.S. prisons where Muslims have been held without charges. The worst abuses have happened right in front of your eyes in U.S. prisons and the lack of media coverage is the biggest contributing reason.
How can you not know about my case? How can even the alternative media ignore my case?
I was imprisoned for sending an email to ABC television online email center on May 19 and May 20, 1999. Actually, I had sent the email 9 times, on May 21, 22, 23, 24, 25,26 and 27, as well as May 19 and 20. Each copy said you have 30 days to answer and then 29, 28, 27 days, etc. — a countdown. I was seeking publicity for my story about the rigging of the U.S. presidency and the stock markets and the fact that I knew a huge terrorist attack was coming to U.S. shores.
But, the federal prosecutor withheld the longer series of sent copies because it would surely have shown that publicity was the goal of the emails. I was held for one and a half years before my trial and was put in the worst solitary confinement cell in federal prison in Manhattan for my trial, where I represented myself.
I claimed at trial, and still claim, that I had prior knowledge of 9/11 and that that information had been received by the government. I wanted to sit down with ABC television and three other corporations in order to discuss what I claimed was damage they had caused me and that terrorism was coming more powerfully than ever to New York. The email was a literary version of the current Wall Street occupation.
The U.S. government knew about 9/11 from me more than two years before it was carried out. I was rendered in Mexico, brought to New Jersey by the FBI, transferred and imprisoned in New York City for three years and had a trial about half way through about an email that was sent to ABC, the New York Times, Newsweek and Time Magazine.
But, not one word about my imprisonment, my email, my claims of prior knowledge of 9/11 or my trial has appeared in any media.
I have 11 years of university education, two degrees, have taught in high schools and universities, including recently in Beijing. I have worked for David Geffen, the William Morris Agency, Anaconda Corporation, covered three national political conventions (two in Madison Square Garden).
It’s more than something being wrong with the USA, Iran and Qaddafi, and other places of extreme injustice.
All you nice, good-intentioned people are living in darkness, absolute darkness about the real conditions of a virtually totalitarian American system
Details of my story and claims are in my http://www.lulu.com/product/file-download/revolution-or-extinction/16532855
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Posted by Galenwainwright…
Sep 26 2011 – 1:31pm.
Dmitri Orlov, a Russian Ex-pat, once observed that the only difference between the USSR and the US was that in America people believed the propaganda.
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Posted by Kane Jeeves
Sep 26 2011 – 1:41pm.
Studied Russian years ago. The instructor, an ex-pat, told us day one about the main newspaper in USSR and the popular saying “Pravda nyet Pravda”. (Pravda/Truth is not true)
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Posted by sheepherder
Sep 26 2011 – 2:45pm.
I recall an old joke about Pravda (Truth) and Izvestia (News). It went: there is no truth in the new and no news in the truth.
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Posted by Aaronica
Sep 26 2011 – 3:07pm.
I thought the joke went that you could find some news in Pravda, and some truth in Izvestia.
Either way, the Ruskies knew they were reading stories that couldn’t be trusted. The western peoples don’t. (sorry OP, the rest of us westerners seem to be believing the propaganda now too.)
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Posted by HailCODEPINK
Sep 26 2011 – 1:45pm.
Glenn Greenwald, Chris Hedges and David Swanson–three treasures of humanity, shining a bright light on our present plight. We, however, must be our own saviors. Can we organize a coherent educational and political action based on their insights to resist our own destruction, and that of our planet?
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Posted by Kane Jeeves
Sep 26 2011 – 1:46pm.
Can someone point to a link that describes why the hikers were there in the first place? I find it almost impossible to believe they were “just hiking”. If that were the case, then the US has a real problem on it’s hands…what to do with all the “just hikers” around the Mexican border.
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Posted by sheepherder
Sep 26 2011 – 2:47pm.
I wonder about the same thing. Why were they in Iraq in the first place, and why were they hiking anywhere close to a national border, especially the one with Iran?
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Posted by Brian Brademeyer
Sep 26 2011 – 1:49pm.
These “hikers” look a lot healthier than any Gitmo unfortunates that I have seen pictures of. They can still walk upright, and make complex compound sentences.
The WH/Politico attack on Seymour Hersh June 2, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Iran, Media.
Tags: anonymous source, glenn greenwald, Iran, iran nuclear, journalism, Media, politico, roger hollander, Seymour Hersh
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Seymour Hersh has a new article in The New Yorker arguing that there is no credible evidence that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons; to the contrary, he writes, “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.” This, of course, cannot stand, as it conflicts with one of the pillar-orthodoxies of Obama foreign policy in the Middle East (even though the prior two National Intelligence Estimates say what Hersh has said). As a result, two cowardly, slimy Obama officials ran to Politico to bash Hersh while hiding behind the protective womb of anonymity automatically and subserviently extended by that “news outlet”:
the Obama administration is pushing back strongly, with one senior official saying the article garnered “a collective eye roll” from the White House . . . two administration officials told POLITICO’s Playbook that’s not the case. . . . a senior administration official said. . . . “There is a clear, ongoing pattern of deception” from Iran . . .”the senior administration official added” . . . And a senior intelligence official also ripped Hersh, saying his article amounted to nothing more than “a slanted book report on a long narrative that’s already been told many times over” . . .
Dutifully writing down what government officials say and then publishing it under cover of anonymity is what media figures in D.C. refer to as “real reporting.” But the most hilarious part of this orgy of cowardly anonymity comes at the end, when Politico explains what is supposedly the prime defect in Hersh’ journalism:
Hersh has faced criticism for his heavy reliance on anonymous sources, but New Yorker editor David Remnick has repeatedly said he stands by his reporter’s work.
That’s the criticism that ends an article that relies exclusively on anonymous government sources, appearing in a D.C. gossip rag notorious for granting anonymity to any powerful figure who requests it for any or no reason. The difference, of course, is that the Pulitzer Prize-winning, five-time-Polk-Award-recipient investigative journalist who uncovered the My Lai massacre and the Abu Ghraib scandal grants anonymity to those who are challenging the official claims of those in power (that’s called “journalism”), while Politico uses it (as it did here) to serve those in power and shield them from all accountability as they spew their propaganda (which is called being a “lowly, rank Royal Court propagandist”).
The bin Laden dividend May 13, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel, Gaza & Middle East, Torture, War, War on Terror.
Tags: Afghanistan War, al-Qaeda, bin Laden, bin laden death, bin laden dividend, bin laden killing, civil liberties, foreign policy, glenn greenwald, Iraq war, jsoc, obama administration, permanant war, roger hollander, Taliban, unending war, war on terror, war on terrorism
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Roger’s comment: the so-called bin Laden dividend will result in reducing military commitment in Afghanistan and return to the American people their civil liberties? I will cover any and all bets that this will not occur and am giving 100-1 odds. Any takers? Anyone remember the Peace Dividend that was to accrue after the collapse of the Soviet Union? Well, I am sure that the close to seven hundred billion dollar proposed defense (sic) budget will indeed result in considerable dividends for the massive war profiteering industry. Is this country great, or what?
As but one example, this person (cheered on by Democratic Party commentators) — aside from falsely attributing to me numerous statements I never made, and thereafter refusing to post my response in the comment section — chided me for failing to realize that “Bin Laden’s death also makes things like closing the gulag at Guantanamo Bay seem likelier and more possible” and that it also “marks what could be the beginning of the end of many of the evils that Glenn Greenwald has consistently written about over the past decade, the opportunity to reassert the principles he determinedly wants to defend.” Andrew Sullivan argued that, in the wake of the bin Laden killing, “Obama will have the leverage to shift strategy drastically [in Afghanistan] in the coming year” and that the “average American” will conclude that “it is time to leave. With our heads high. And justice done.” Numerous commenters and others have similarly insisted that bin Laden’s death will spawn reversals in America’s War on Terror policies over the last decade.
It’s still far too early to know with any certainty what the outcome will be. There’s an inertia to our policies that is not going to vanish overnight. Still, it’s worth considering the numerous events that have occurred since bin Laden’s killing, as I think it gives at least some sense of the direction in which we’ll head:
The House Armed Services Committee is expected to take up a defense authorization bill on Wednesday that includes a new authorization for the government to use military force in the war on terrorism. . . .
The provision states that Congress “affirms” that “the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces,” and that the president is authorized to use military force — including detention without trial — of members and substantial supporters of those forces.
That language, which would codify into federal law a definition of the enemy that the Obama administration has adopted in defending against lawsuits filed by Guantánamo Bay detainees, would supplant the existing military force authorization that Congress passed overwhelmingly on Sept. 14, 2001. It instead named the enemy as the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Critics of [the] provision have reacted with alarm to what they see as an effort to entrench in a federal statute unambiguous authority for the executive branch to wage war against terrorists who are deemed associates of Al Qaeda but who lack a clear tie to the Sept. 11 attacks.
In a joint letter to Congress, about two dozen groups — including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights — contended that the proposal amounted to an open-ended grant of authority to the executive branch, legitimizing an unending war from Yemen to Somalia and beyond.
“This monumental legislation — with a large-scale and practically irrevocable delegation of war power from Congress to the president — could commit the United States to a worldwide war without clear enemies, without any geographical boundaries” and “without any boundary relating to time or specific objective to be achieved,” the letter warned.
The article noted: “At least one civilian died when the missiles damaged the restaurant and a nearby home.”
The article noted: “A neighbor, who goes by the name of Ayatullah, says the girl was 12 years old.”
Inside the Pentagon, however, officials make the case that rather than using Bin Laden’s death as a justification for withdrawal, the United States should continue the current strategy in Afghanistan to secure additional gains and to further pressure the Taliban to come to the bargaining table for negotiations on political reconciliation.
We haven’t been doing all of these things — or any of them — because of Osama bin Laden. We’ve been doing this because it generates massive benefits for the country’s most powerful political and economic factions, and that hasn’t changed. Bin Laden was but one of the pretexts to justify it all. And with him gone (but definitely not forgotten), multiple other pretexts will quickly be created to take his place. Do the events since his killing leave any real doubt about that? As but one example, Marc Ambinder — in a hagiographic love letter to the secretive, glorious Joint Special Operations Command that oversaw the bin Laden killing — reveals as though it’s the most natural thing in the world:
JSOC has fought a silent but successful proxy war against Iran’s Revolutionary Guards — even, National Journal has learned, engaging directly with its soldiers in at least three countries. It has broken up nuclear-proliferation rings. JSOC has developed contingency plans to safeguard Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in the event of a coup in that nation. Its intelligence unit helps Colombian commandos dismantle lucrative drug rings that finance Hezbollah operations around the world. It has provided intelligence that has helped to break up domestic terrorism rings. Operating in tandem with other special forces and regular military battalions, JSOC eviscerated al-Qaida’s network in Iraq. It is nothing less than a secret army within the U.S. military.
We’re fighting a secret, undeclared, undiscussed hot war against Iran in multiple nations (of limited scope, at least for now), as well as numerous other hidden conflicts, using “a secret army within the U.S. military.” Does anyone believe any of this undemocratic, massive imperial machinery — and the liberty abridgments that inevitably accompany it — will be dismantled or even meaningfully reduced because Osama bin Laden is dead?
It is true that a few members of Congress are now advocating an Afghanistan withdrawal (though many were already war skeptics), and there is mixed polling on the war there (though the last thing that determines the end of an American war is public opinion). It would be superb — a serious cause for celebration — if the bin Laden killing, now that it’s a fait accompli, did produce these benefits, and it’s certainly worth exploiting that event to try to bring it about. And we may in fact be tired of our imperial adventure in Afghanistan and ready to re-direct resources to other countries. But America’s National Security State and its posture of Endless War was and remains motivated by far more than one man, or even Al Qaeda generally. There’s no will on the part of the political class to reverse it — quite the opposite — and there won’t be until the citizenry demands it.
UPDATE: According to Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, the current military plans for “withdrawal” from Afghanistan calls for a whole 5,000 troops to be pulled out in July, followed by “as many as” another 5,000 be the end of the year (h/t David Mizner). Those plans were prepared prior to bin Laden’s killing, so it remains to be seen whether it changes substantially.
For those interested, the above-referenced blogger at Slacktivist, Fred Clark, has posted a further response, including explaining that long comments are often eaten by his system, an explanation I’ll accept.
Fidel to Ahmadinejad: ‘Stop Slandering the Jews’ September 10, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Cuba, Iran, Latin America.
Tags: ahmadinejad, anti-semitism, castro, Cuba, fidel, Iran, israel, jeffrey goldberg, missile crisis, netanyahu, nuclear threat, raul castro, roger hollander
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Sep 7 2010, 12:06 PM ET
A couple of weeks ago, while I was on vacation, my cell phone rang; it was Jorge Bolanos, the head of the Cuban Interest Section (we of course don’t have diplomatic relations with Cuba) in Washington. “I have a message for you from Fidel,” he said. This made me sit up straight. “He has read your Atlantic article about Iran and Israel. He invites you to Havana on Sunday to discuss the article.” I am always eager, of course, to interact with readers of The Atlantic, so I called a friend at the Council on Foreign Relations, Julia Sweig, who is a preeminent expert on Cuba and Latin America: “Road trip,” I said.
MORE ON Fidel Castro:
Jeffrey Goldberg: Castro: “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore.”
I quickly departed the People’s Republic of Martha’s Vineyard for Fidel’s more tropical socialist island paradise. Despite the self-defeating American ban on travel to Cuba, both Julia and I, as journalists and researchers, qualified for a State Department exemption. The charter flight from Miami was bursting with Cuban-Americans carrying flat-screen televisions and computers for their technologically-bereft families. Fifty minutes after take-off, we arrived at the mostly-empty Jose Marti International Airport. Fidel’s people met us on the tarmac (despite giving up his formal role as commandante en jefe after falling ill several years ago, Fidel still has many people). We were soon deposited at a “protocol house” in a government compound whose architecture reminded me of the gated communities of Boca Raton. The only other guest in this vast enclosure was the president of Guinea-Bissau.
I was aware that Castro had become preoccupied with the threat of a military confrontation in the Middle East between Iran and the U.S. (and Israel, the country he calls its Middle East “gendarme”). Since emerging from his medically induced, four-year purdah early this summer (various gastrointestinal maladies had combined to nearly kill him), the 84-year-old Castro has spoken mainly about the catastrophic threat of what he sees as an inevitable war.
I was curious to know why he saw conflict as unavoidable, and I wondered, of course, if personal experience – the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 that nearly caused the annihilation of most of humanity – informed his belief that a conflict between America and Iran would escalate into nuclear war. I was even more curious, however, to get a glimpse of the great man. Few people had seen him since he fell ill in 2006, and the state of his health has been a subject of much speculation. There were questions, too, about the role he plays now in governing Cuba; he formally handed off power to his younger brother, Raul, two years ago, but it was not clear how many strings Fidel still pulled.
The morning after our arrival in Havana, Julia and I were driven to a nearby convention center, and escorted upstairs, to a large and spare office. A frail and aged Fidel stood to greet us. He was wearing a red shirt, sweatpants, and black New Balance sneakers. The room was crowded with officials and family: His wife, Dalia, and son Antonio, as well as an Interior Ministry general, a translator, a doctor and several bodyguards, all of whom appeared to have been recruited from the Cuban national wrestling team. Two of these bodyguards held Castro at the elbow.
We shook hands, and he greeted Julia warmly; they have known each other for more than twenty years. Fidel lowered himself gently into his seat, and we began a conversation that would continue, in fits and starts, for three days. His body may be frail, but his mind is acute, his energy level is high, and not only that: the late-stage Fidel Castro turns out to possess something of a self-deprecating sense of humor. When I asked him, over lunch, to answer what I’ve come to think of as the Christopher Hitchens question – has your illness caused you to change your mind about the existence of God? – he answered, “Sorry, I’m still a dialectical materialist.” (This is funnier if you are, like me, an ex-self-defined socialist.) At another point, he showed us a series of recent photographs taken of him, one of which portrayed him with a fierce expression. “This was how my face looked when I was angry with Khruschev,” he said.
Castro opened our initial meeting by telling me that he read the recent Atlantic article carefully, and that it confirmed his view that Israel and America were moving precipitously and gratuitously toward confrontation with Iran. This interpretation was not surprising, of course: Castro is the grandfather of global anti-Americanism, and he has been a severe critic of Israel. His message to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, he said, was simple: Israel will only have security if it gives up its nuclear arsenal, and the rest of the world’s nuclear powers will only have security if they, too, give up their weapons. Global and simultaneous nuclear disarmament is, of course, a worthy goal, but it is not, in the short term, realistic.
He began this discussion by describing his own, first encounters with anti-Semitism, as a small boy. “I remember when I was a boy – a long time ago – when I was five or six years old and I lived in the countryside,” he said, “and I remember Good Friday. What was the atmosphere a child breathed? `Be quiet, God is dead.’ God died every year between Thursday and Saturday of Holy Week, and it made a profound impression on everyone. What happened? They would say, `The Jews killed God.’ They blamed the Jews for killing God! Do you realize this?”
He went on, “Well, I didn’t know what a Jew was. I knew of a bird that was a called a ‘Jew,’ and so for me the Jews were those birds. These birds had big noses. I don’t even know why they were called that. That’s what I remember. This is how ignorant the entire population was.”
Castro went on to analyze the conflict between Israel and Iran. He said he understood Iranian fears of Israeli-American aggression and he added that, in his view, American sanctions and Israeli threats will not dissuade the Iranian leadership from pursuing nuclear weapons. “This problem is not going to get resolved, because the Iranians are not going to back down in the face of threats. That’s my opinion,” he said. He then noted that, unlike Cuba, Iran is a “profoundly religious country,” and he said that religious leaders are less apt to compromise. He noted that even secular Cuba has resisted various American demands over the past 50 years.
We returned repeatedly in this first conversation to Castro’s fear that a confrontation between the West and Iran could escalate into a nuclear conflict. “The Iranian capacity to inflict damage is not appreciated,” he said. “Men think they can control themselves but Obama could overreact and a gradual escalation could become a nuclear war.” I asked him if this fear was informed by his own experiences during the 1962 missile crisis, when the Soviet Union and the U.S. nearly went to war other over the presence of nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba (missiles installed at the invitation, of course, of Fidel Castro). I mentioned to Castro the letter he wrote to Khruschev, the Soviet premier, at the height of the crisis, in which he recommended that the Soviets consider launching a nuclear strike against the U.S. if the Americans attack Cuba. “That would be the time to think about liquidating such a danger forever through a legal right of self-defense,” Castro wrote at the time.
I asked him, “At a certain point it seemed logical for you to recommend that the Soviets bomb the U.S. Does what you recommended still seem logical now?” He answered: “After I’ve seen what I’ve seen, and knowing what I know now, it wasn’t worth it all.”
I was surprised to hear Castro express such doubts about his own behavior in the missile crisis – and I was, I admit, also surprised to hear him express such sympathy for Jews, and for Israel’s right to exist (which he endorsed unequivocally).
There is a great deal more to report from this conversation, and from subsequent conversations, which I will do in posts to follow. But I will begin the next post on this subject by describing one of the stranger days I have experienced, a day which began with a simple question from Fidel: “Would you like to go to the aquarium with me to see the dolphin show?”
Obama’s Inner GOP March 1, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Foreign Policy, Iran, Israel, Gaza & Middle East, Nuclear weapons/power, Peace, War.
Tags: democrats, george mitchel, helen thomas, hillary clinton, Iran, iran nuclear, netanyahu, Palestinians, peace, president, roger hollander, settlements, war
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(Roger’s note: As usual, Helen Thomas is spot on, a fresh and, unfortunately, rare voice of reason amidst the cacophony of mainstream media servility. By holding Obama responsible for Clinton’s hawkishness she underscores the principle I have been citing lately as reflected in Harry Truman’s legendary, “the buck stops here.” When it comes to military spending and war, the Democrats and the Republicans are virtually indistinguishable. Ironically, it was a Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who famously warned us about the military-industrial complex. And perhaps beyond ironic that the war-mongering president in office today is the most recent recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace.)
Obama’s Inner GOP
by Helen Thomas
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is finding her voice in the world of foreign affairs — and it’s the sound of hawk-speak, filled with warnings.
She has warned that Iran is becoming a military dictatorship. She is trying to persuade U.S. allies to support stronger sanctions against Tehran.
There’s no sign that the U.S. is about to invade Iran but there’s tons of speculation that the Pentagon has been tasked to figure out what bunker-buster bombs would do to Iran’s underground nuclear industry and whether such an attack would help or hinder efforts to neutralize Iran as a nuclear threat.
While a massive bombing would certainly delay Iran’s nuclear development, it would not stop it. The cost of such a military option would be grave: Iran’s hard-liners would be fortified politically; and anti-American terrorists everywhere would see such an attack as justifying their own violence.
There’s not much doubt that Iran is heading toward nuclear weapons. Iran’s neighbors have those terrible devices and so the Iranians ask: Why not us, too?
Clinton was tough on the Palestinians during her tour in the region. She said the Palestinians have to make more “concessions” to the occupier to get peace talks going.
The word peace has not been exalted in the White House for years and neither President Barack Obama nor his secretary of state seems to aspire to it. They fret that some critic somewhere will accuse the administration of being “soft.”
Democrats continue to labor to prove they are tough, tough, tough, so that they don’t have to deal with a modern version of the old “Who lost China?” rant.
The rhetoric from the Obama administration is framed in terms of “winning” and “victory” while a war-weary nation searches for an end to the war in Afghanistan, which has been going on for nine years and is gaining new momentum in the form of thousands of additional American troops being sent there.
On the Israeli-Palestinian front, former Sen. George Mitchell has been shuttling back and forth with not much success in trying to bring leaders from both sides to the peace table. Obama was not much help in breaking the stalemate when he buckled to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s refusal to impose a total freeze on settlement building. Instead, the Israeli leader offered a 10-month halt in expanding settlements. Such settlements are illegal under international law.
Unlike his domestic proposals where the President faces so much Republican opposition, Obama is in sync with the GOP in treading along the belligerent footsteps of his predecessor.
His hawkish secretary of state takes her cues from the boss.
© 2010 Albany Times-Union
The Specter Haunting Iran February 26, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Democracy, Iran.
Tags: danny postel, democracy, green movement, green wave, Iran, iran democracy, iran election, Middle East, roger hollander, tehran bureau
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A specter is haunting Iran — the specter of democracy.
The events of the last eight months in Iran have occasioned — one might even say inspired — an array of interpretations and formulations. Many attempts have been made to categorize and explain the nature of the upheaval. In the heady, early days and weeks following the June election, Slavoj Žižek characterized what was unfolding in Iran as “a great emancipatory event.” Hamid Dabashi described the situation as “something quite extraordinary, perhaps even a social revolution”; Dabashi is best known for arguing that the Green wave amounts to a civil-rights movement, which, he adds, “does not mean that the Islamic republic may not, or should not, fall.” One commentator for a Marxist newspaper rhapsodically declares that what is happening heralds “a new reality,” something “so unique and new” that it could “transform not just Iran but the entire Middle East, indeed the whole world.”
So is it reform or revolution? Is it perhaps some amalgam of the two, or a gray area in between, as captured in Timothy Garton Ash’s coinage “refolution”? Are we witnessing the metamorphosis of what began as a program of reform into something else, something more radical and ambitious?
I tend to agree with Iranian political scientist Hossein Bashiriyeh that this is a “potentially revolutionary situation” that, depending on several variables, “may well turn into a thoroughly revolutionary situation.” Will it turn into one? Of course, we have no way of knowing. Following Charles Kurzman, we might describe the present situation as “unthinkable”. How events will turn out, even what direction they’re moving in, is simply impossible to determine.
What I think we can say, however, is that something very profound has taken place, and is taking place, in Iran today — something of enormous significance for Iran and its future. Whatever concrete outcome emerges, or fails to emerge, from the events unfolding, something very important has already happened. As Nader Hashemi has argued, “the Green Movement has already won an overwhelming ideological victory against the regime. In the realm of political ideas, the battle is over and Iran’s clerical oligarchs know it — liberal democratic ideas have triumphed.”
Others have claimed a moral victory for the Greens. As Muhammad Sahimi puts it,
even after a violent six-month crackdown on peaceful protesters, political figures, journalists, and human rights advocates, the Green Movement has not been weakened, but…has strengthened and expanded to many cities and towns around the country. This is already a significant victory for the Green Movement.
Another commentator claims a strategic victory for the movement:
But the youth of Iran have already scored a victory of sorts by using new media to stake claim to political space. By using new media to extend horizontal linkages and press the current regime, this generation has reinforced the foundation of a potentially robust force for democratic change.
Addressing the agents of repression directly, one blogger wrote,
This election — whatever it was, whatever it did — it made us big and it made you small. ***
Iran’s Green Movement has itself offered a model of organization and social motivation that others are beginning to study, and I believe will continue to study for many years to come, whatever the outcome of its quest. It has, from its inception, been an innovative and imaginative force, in an open-ended and constant state of flux, building the road as it travels and re-inventing itself at every turn. It is for this reason ideally suited to open-mindedly engage with other models and movements around the world. It has always, from day one, been a bold and daring movement, so thinking big is in its very DNA. This might not be the optimal moment for Iran’s Greens to undertake a detailed analysis of the economic experiments of Brazil, Venezuela, and Mondragón, or to engage the ideas of Schweickart, Sen, and Stiglitz, or any number of others, engaged as they are, right now, in a life-and-death battle. I would nonetheless like to encourage Iran’s Greens not to wait until it’s too late.
Click here to read the entire piece.
Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau
War, Peace and Obama’s Nobel November 7, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, Women, War, Foreign Policy, Peace, Pakistan, Iran.
Tags: roger hollander, Obama, India nuclear, Pakistan nuclear, nuclear proliferation, war, Noam Chomsky, iran nuclear, peace, security council, nobel peace, non-proliferation treaty, nuclear non-proliferation, israel nuclear, npt, malalai joya, obama peace, nobel committee, nculear weapons, resolution 1887, iaea resolution, obama nuclear, nobel peace prize
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The hopes and prospects for peace aren’t well aligned-not even close. The task is to bring them nearer. Presumably that was the intent of the Nobel Peace Prize committee in choosing President Barack Obama.
The prize “seemed a kind of prayer and encouragement by the Nobel committee for future endeavor and more consensual American leadership,” Steven Erlanger and Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote in The New York Times.
The nature of the Bush-Obama transition bears directly on the likelihood that the prayers and encouragement might lead to progress.
The Nobel committee’s concerns were valid. They singled out Obama’s rhetoric on reducing nuclear weapons.
Right now Iran’s nuclear ambitions dominate the headlines. The warnings are that Iran may be concealing something from the International Atomic Energy Agency and violating U.N. Security Council Resolution 1887, passed last month and hailed as a victory for Obama’s efforts to contain Iran.
Meanwhile, a debate continues on whether Obama’s recent decision to reconfigure missile-defense systems in Europe is a capitulation to the Russians or a pragmatic step to defend the West from Iranian nuclear attack.
Silence is often more eloquent than loud clamor, so let us attend to what is unspoken.
Amid the furor over Iranian duplicity, the IAEA passed a resolution calling on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open its nuclear facilities to inspection.
The United States and Europe tried to block the IAEA resolution, but it passed anyway. The media virtually ignored the event.
The United States assured Israel that it would support Israel’s rejection of the resolution-reaffirming a secret understanding that has allowed Israel to maintain a nuclear arsenal closed to international inspections, according to officials familiar with the arrangements. Again, the media were silent.
Indian officials greeted U.N. Resolution 1887 by announcing that India “can now build nuclear weapons with the same destructive power as those in the arsenals of the world’s major nuclear powers,” the Financial Times reported.
Both India and Pakistan are expanding their nuclear weapons programs. They have twice come dangerously close to nuclear war, and the problems that almost ignited this catastrophe are very much alive.
Obama greeted Resolution 1887 differently. The day before he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his inspiring commitment to peace, the Pentagon announced it was accelerating delivery of the most lethal non-nuclear weapons in the arsenal: 13-ton bombs for B-2 and B-52 stealth bombers, designed to destroy deeply hidden bunkers shielded by 10,000 pounds of reinforced concrete.
It’s no secret the bunker busters could be deployed against Iran.
Planning for these “massive ordnance penetrators” began in the Bush years but languished until Obama called for developing them rapidly when he came into office.
Passed unanimously, Resolution 1887 calls for the end of threats of force and for all countries to join the NPT, as Iran did long ago. NPT non-signers are India, Israel and Pakistan, all of which developed nuclear weapons with U.S. help, in violation of the NPT.
Iran hasn’t invaded another country for hundreds of years-unlike the United States, Israel and India (which occupies Kashmir, brutally).
The threat from Iran is minuscule. If Iran had nuclear weapons and delivery systems and prepared to use them, the country would be vaporized.
To believe Iran would use nuclear weapons to attack Israel, or anyone, “amounts to assuming that Iran’s leaders are insane” and that they look forward to being reduced to “radioactive dust,” strategic analyst Leonard Weiss observes, adding that Israel’s missile-carrying submarines are “virtually impervious to preemptive military attack,” not to speak of the immense U.S. arsenal.
In naval maneuvers in July, Israel sent its Dolphin class subs, capable of carrying nuclear missiles, through the Suez Canal and into the Red Sea, sometimes accompanied by warships, to a position from which they could attack Iran-as they have a “sovereign right” to do, according to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
Not for the first time, what is veiled in silence would receive front-page headlines in societies that valued their freedom and were concerned with the fate of the world.
The Iranian regime is harsh and repressive, and no humane person wants Iran-or anyone else-to have nuclear weapons. But a little honesty would not hurt in addressing these problems.
The Nobel Peace Prize, of course, is not concerned solely with reducing the threat of terminal nuclear war, but rather with war generally, and the preparation for war. In this regard, the selection of Obama raised eyebrows, not least in Iran, surrounded by U.S. occupying armies.
On Iran’s borders in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, Obama has escalated Bush’s war and is likely to proceed on that course, perhaps sharply.
Obama has made clear that the United States intends to retain a long-term major presence in the region. That much is signaled by the huge city-within-a city called “the Baghdad Embassy,” unlike any embassy in the world.
Obama has announced the construction of mega-embassies in Islamabad and Kabul, and huge consulates in Peshawar and elsewhere.
Nonpartisan budget and security monitors report in Government Executive that the “administration’s request for $538 billion for the Defense Department in fiscal 2010 and its stated intention to maintain a high level of funding in the coming years put the president on track to spend more on defense, in real dollars, than any other president has in one term of office since World War II. And that’s not counting the additional $130 billion the administration is requesting to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan next year, with even more war spending slated for future years.”
The Nobel Peace Prize committee might well have made truly worthy choices, prominent among them the remarkable Afghan activist Malalai Joya.
This brave woman survived the Russians, and then the radical Islamists whose brutality was so extreme that the population welcomed the Taliban. Joya has withstood the Taliban and now the return of the warlords under the Karzai government.
Throughout, Joya worked effectively for human rights, particularly for women; she was elected to parliament and then expelled when she continued to denounce warlord atrocities. She now lives underground under heavy protection, but she continues the struggle, in word and deed. By such actions, repeated everywhere as best we can, the prospects for peace edge closer to hopes.