A recent Raw Story report by Larissa Alexandrovna suggests that the notorious Office of Special Plans didn’t just stovepipe cherrypicked "intelligence" to the White House and press. It also sent teams into Iraq after the invasion began, who after it became apparent that there were no abundant WMDs, examined the possibility of planting such weapons in order to help the president avoid embarrassment.
Citing "[t]hree U.S. intelligence sources and a source close to the United Nations Security Council" Alexandrova indicates that the OSP planned "off book" missions that were dispatched by Stephen Cambone, Defense Department intelligence chief, from March 2003. (Cambone now occupies the # 3 post in the Defense Department.) Teams sent to Iraq included "CIA, FBI, Green Berets, Delta Force operators, and commandos from the Navy’s Special Warfare Development Group." Their first priority was to investigate an allegation made by disinformation master Ahmad Chalabi that a USN pilot shot down in 1991 and proclaimed KIA soon afterwards was being held as a POW in Iraq. (That was bogus.) The second was to deal with the WMD issue. The third was to get Saddam.
During the summer and fall of 2004 one unnamed team, according to the UN source, interviewed many Iraqi intelligence officers, telling them, "Our President is in trouble. He went to war saying there are WMD and there are no WMD. What can we do? Can you help us?" The Iraqis understood they were being asked to cooperate with a deception. "But," the UN source continues, "the guys were thinking this is absurd because anything put down would not pass the smell test and could be shown to be not of Iraqi origin and not using Iraqi methodology."
The Senate Select Intelligence Committee, which is supposed to at some point investigate the OSP, has asked the Pentagon’s Inspector-General to probe the office and Douglas Feith’s role in it. Feith and the other neocons have shown themselves shameless purveyors of disinformation again and again. Somebody among or close to them must have fabricated the Niger uranium documents. Jacques Chirac as I recall once opined that if the U.S. didn’t find WMD in Iraq it would probably stage a discovery. But the report that they actually considered doing just that to justify their war, to further hoodwink the American people and the world, beats everything I’ve heard so far. Talk about chutzpah.
There’s no end to it. Before the Iraq attack, the disinformationists had succeeded in convincing the majority of Americans that Iraq had WMD threatening the world. Before the Iran attack, they have probably succeeded in convincing most Americans that Iran has become a nuclear threat. They’ve gotten the media to routinely refer to "Iran’s nuclear weapons program" even though IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has repeatedly said he finds no evidence of one. Despite ElBaradei, the Bush administration has been able to organize its allies in the IAEA to find Iran in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty on the grounds that it kept aspects of its nuclear program secret up to 2003, despite the fact that it’s opened itself to an unprecedented level of IAEA inspection since. Washington has successfully conflated Iran’s non-binding agreement with the UK, Germany and France with the NPT itself. Thus when Iran ends its voluntary suspension of uranium enriching activities, the administration pretends it’s doing something illegal, even though the Treaty itself specifically allows it to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.
The neocons have helped create an environment in which Syria is simply assumed to be responsible for political assassinations in Lebanon, in the absence of decisive evidence. While you’d think "the international community" would recognize and reject U.S. efforts to attack more countries in "the Greater Middle East," instead we find neocon successes in diplomacy. They’ve brought Europe aboard the program. They may well seek UNSC sanctions against both Iran and Syria, and resolutions that could be construed as allowing U.S. attacks on these countries. These efforts will likely meet with Chinese and Russian vetoes, but the Bush administration expressing disappointment in the UN will proceed to bomb more Muslim countries on more false pretexts, even while evidence of their Iraq deceptions mounts.
The proponents of an expanded war, including Vice President Cheney, must feel under a lot of pressure to get the project done as soon as possible. The ongoing Franklin/AIPAC and Plame investigations, the indictment of Libby and impending trial, the inquiry into Feith and the OSP, the multiplying revelations about executive lawbreaking at home and abroad, popular discontent with the Iraq War, increasingly serious talk about impeachment hearings—all must lend a sense of urgency to the neocons’ enterprise.
Last month CIA director Porter Goss visited Ankara, Turkey where he argued to Turkish officials that "Iran has nuclear weapons and this situation was creating a huge threat for both Turkey and other states in the region." This is the former Rep. Goss who has cooperated with the administration’s efforts to depict the neocon lies leading up to the Iraq War as honest "intelligence failures" and to scapegoat the CIA as somehow incompetent. Once again the experts like ElBaradei, Gordon Prather, Scott Ritter and others say there is no evidence that Iran is anywhere near producing nukes. But those guys are in the "reality mode" so despised by the empire- mode neocons, and as a high official once lectured David Suskind, "We create our own reality." Have the latter planned better this time? Have they prepared the evidence to plant in the Bushehr rubble?
* * * * *
"I don’t have any doubt that at the right time, a time of our choosing, we’re going to go to the Security Council if the Iranians are not prepared to do what they say they want to do, which is to pursue peaceful nuclear energy," Condoleezza Rice tells the Washington Post, adding confidently, "When it’s clear that negotiations are exhausted, we have the votes. There is a resolution sitting there for referral. We’ll vote it."
With equal confidence, Jephraim P Gundzik of Asia Times states that, "Facing almost certain veto by Russia and China, any US-EU attempt to impose sanctions on Iran in the Security Council will fail—a situation both Washington and the EU-3 [UK, Germany, France] are aware of."
These aren’t contradictory statements. Rice is confident that the U.S. will be able to get a slim majority on the IAEA board of 35 members to agree that Iran, being in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (even though it’s not) to refer Iran to the UNSC for punitive action. The UK, France and the U.S. will vote for sanctions; Russia and China will veto the resolution. U.S. UN Ambassador Bolton will pronounce that the UN has become "irrelevant" while President Bush will emphasize to the American people that our freedom-loving allies (including France) are with us this time in a clear-cut confrontation between good and evil. "The regime of President Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust, and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map," he’ll fume. "Iran poses a threat to its neighbors," he’ll warn, even though Iran has friendly relations with Afghanistan, Pakistan, the current Iraqi U.S.-client government, Syria, Turkey, etc. "Iran hid a secret nuclear weapons program for 18 years!" he’ll preach, failing to note that it came clean on clandestine aspects of its nuclear program, started in the 1970s with U.S. support, in 2003. Since then, it has signed IAEA protocols allowing extraordinary monitoring of a program it says is for purely peaceful purposes, and which IAEA chief and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei says he finds no evidence is a military program.
The point is not to necessarily get a UNSC resolution that would validate new measures against Iran, but to stage a show for the American public. The French were deeply skeptical about U.S. reasons to attack Iraq; so now have Americans become skeptical. But if both the French and Germans on the Security Council are willing to stand with John Bolton in pressing for anti-Iranian action, such action might be more marketable to the American people. Once again the distortion of facts and some allied arm-twisting will pave the way for a criminal attack. Or maybe an awakened American people, outraged at all the uncovered deceit to date (torture, "special renditions," illegal domestic spying, vindictive moves against opponents) makes it politically impossible for the warmongers to proceed.
GARY LEUPP is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.
He can be reached at: email@example.com