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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Ayatollah they were stupid!

From the Guardian:
An urgent investigation has been launched in Washington into whether Iran played a role in manipulating the US into the Iraq war by passing on bogus intelligence through Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, it emerged yesterday.
Some intelligence officials now believe that Iran used the hawks in the Pentagon and the White House to get rid of a hostile neighbour, and pave the way for a Shia-ruled Iraq.

According to a US intelligence official, the CIA has hard evidence that Mr Chalabi and his intelligence chief, Aras Karim Habib, passed US secrets to Tehran, and that Mr Habib has been a paid Iranian agent for several years, involved in passing intelligence in both directions.

The CIA has asked the FBI to investigate Mr Chalabi's contacts in the Pentagon to discover how the INC acquired sensitive information that ended up in Iranian hands.

The implications are far-reaching. Mr Chalabi and Mr Habib were the channels for much of the intelligence on Iraqi weapons on which Washington built its case for war.

"It's pretty clear that Iranians had us for breakfast, lunch and dinner," said an intelligence source in Washington yesterday. "Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the US for several years through Chalabi."

Larry Johnson, a former senior counter-terrorist official at the state department, said: "When the story ultimately comes out we'll see that Iran has run one of the most masterful intelligence operations in history. They persuaded the US and Britain to dispose of its greatest enemy."
I can believe that Iran was feeding bogus info to Cheney and the boys through Chalabi. I don't believe they were duped, however. They wanted to invade Iraq for the oil and the bases and the Halliburton contracts and the political boost. If the Iranians hadn't been willing to lie to them, they would have found someone who was.

This raises a whole lot of questions in my mind. Back on March 13, 2003, a week BEFORE the war on Iraq officially started, I cited a Washington Post article about the false uranium-from-Niger claim. Here are the opening paragraphs from that Post article:
The FBI is looking into the forgery of a key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program, including the possibility that a foreign government is using a deception campaign to foster support for military action against Iraq.

"It's something we're just beginning to look at," a senior law enforcement official said yesterday. Officials are trying to determine whether the documents were forged to try to influence U.S. policy, or whether they may have been created as part of a disinformation campaign directed by a foreign intelligence service.
I guessed Israel as the source without actually naming it, as follows:
Which foreign government? Now I don't want to be accused of being anti-much-of-anything except war, so I'll just hint that it is likely a Middle Eastern nation that has been rumored to have an active nuclear program, the name of which begins with "I." Desperate as they are for evidence, it still seems unlikely that the administration would present evidence given to them by charter members of the "axis of evil," so, well, you do the math.
So I may have been right about "begins with 'I'," but wrong to dismiss an axis-of-evil charter member out of hand.

And note that the falsity of the uranium claims was recognized by the FBI and the Washington Post by March 12 of 2003. Joseph Wilson's July 6 op-ed in the NY Times four months later was hardly a revelation, just a reminder, but for whatever reason the "sixteen words" in the 2003 State of the Union address didn't become an issue until after Wilson's article.

In the 1980's, the Reagan administration provided weapons and other assistance to both Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini (Iran-Contra), pretty much hoping they'd destroy each other. I imagine that the Bushies were trying the same thing, but in stages. Use Iran's "information" as an excuse to invade and occupy Iraq, and then, when the new airbases are built, attack Iran from them. But maybe Iran played the triangle even smarter--get Iraq and the US to destroy each other. (The US is still not seriously threatened, but our influence in the Middle East certainly is, and Iran would probably be happy to destroy that.)