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As Neocons Push For War with Iran, Intelligence on Nuclear Arms Program Still Inconclusive

Frances Fukuyama was the first to go. A once prominent member of the Project for A New American Century, Fukuyama broke ranks with the Neocon establishment as early as 2003, denouncing the Bush administration’s Iraq War strategy and announcing his intention to vote against Bush in the 2004 election. In early 2006, Fukuyama came out in full force against the war, proclaiming the philosophy of Neoconservativism itself a disastrous failure.
Fukuyama cleared the way for fellow PNACers like William F. Buckley, a once staunch advocate of the war, to insist in the pages of The National Review that it was time for Bush to cut his losses and wrap things up in Iraq.
Immediately after the 2006 midterm elections, war architect Richard Perle — also a member of the PNAC — decided it was safe to come out of the closet, telling Vanity Fair, “I think if I had been delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said, ‘Should we go into Iraq?,’ I think now I probably would have said, ‘No, let’s consider other strategies.'”
Mind you, these concessions say nothing of the now well-established fact that these same men and their colleagues engaged in the wholesale manipulation of intelligence (on a scale that would render William Randolph Hearst a baal keri) in order to lie America into a now conclusively unwinnable war.
But old habits die hard, as they say, and for those who have not yet come around to the Realists’ side of the fence, the mistruths continue unabated, though the drumbeat of war is set to a new rhythm called Iran.
Joshua Muravchik, a resident scholar at the staunchly Neoconservative American Enterprise Institute — who Wikipedians felt it was important to identify as Jewish — wasted no time in his recent LA Times editorial, opening with the statement, “WE MUST bomb Iran.” (Emphasis his.)
For some reason, despite the fact that incorrigibly loudmouthed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holds no true power and that Iran’s actual Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa against the use of nuclear weapons, Muravchik has presupposed an Iranian nuclear weapons program and a military response to this alleged threat as the only feasible reaction. Yet according to Seymour Hersh in tomorrow’s New Yorker, neither the C.I.A. nor the Mossad have yet found any evidence of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program. (Hersh spells it out for Wolf Blitzer on CNN here.)

The C.I.A. found no conclusive evidence, as yet, of a secret Iranian nuclear-weapons program running parallel to the civilian operations that Iran has declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The C.I.A.’s analysis, which has been circulated to other agencies for comment, was based on technical intelligence collected by overhead satellites, and on other empirical evidence, such as measurements of the radioactivity of water samples and smoke plumes from factories and power plants. Additional data have been gathered, intelligence sources told me, by high-tech (and highly classified) radioactivity-detection devices that clandestine American and Israeli agents placed near suspected nuclear-weapons facilities inside Iran in the past year or so. No significant amounts of radioactivity were found.

And surprise, surprise:

A current senior intelligence official confirmed the existence of the C.I.A. analysis, and told me that the White House had been hostile to it.

Of course, why would the White House rely on intelligence from established American and foreign intelligence agencies, when it can fabricate its own?
According to an August 18 report by Larisa Alexandrovna in The Raw Story,

“Vice President Cheney is relying on personal briefings from [Abram] Shulsky for current intelligence on Iran,” said [an anonymous] intelligence official.
Shulsky, a leading Neoconservative and member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), headed the shadowy and secretive Department of Defense’s [Office of Special Plans] in the lead-up to the Iraq war — helping to locate intelligence that would support the Bush administration’s case for war with Iraq.
[…] Several foreign policy experts, who wish to remain anonymous, have expressed serious concern that much like the OSP, the [Iran Directorate, an OSP spin-off] is manipulating, cherry picking, and perhaps even — as some suspect — cooking intelligence to lead the U.S. into another conflict, this time with Iran.

(Curious but lacking a more evident connection is the fact that, according to a 2003 article in Haaretz, Frances Brooke, Ahmed Chalabi’s hype man and a senior official at The Rendon Group, was in Iran just before the onset of the Iraq War, assuring Iranian officials that the U.S. had no intentions of attacking the Islamic Republic. The Rendon Group, the official contractor outsourced to compile the now infamously dubious intelligence on Iraq, is currently under investigation by the DoD’s Office of Inspector General, along with the OSP and Chalabi’s long discredited Iraqi National Congress.)
Other foreign policy experts have gone on record voicing their concerns. David Isenberg, a senior research analyst at the British American Security Information Council, wrote this August in The Asia Times that, in the case of Iran, the Bush administration is employing “exactly the same sort of tactic that the White House was using in 2002 and 2003 when Vice President Dick Cheney was talking about mushroom clouds rising into the sky due to an Iraqi nuclear weapon.”
Joseph Cirincione, senior associate and director for non-proliferation with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in April likewise told Cox New Service: “The real danger is cherry picking the data to support a pre-conceived idea and then connecting the dots to form a faulty picture. This is what happened in Iraq.”
Yet even if the C.I.A.’s intelligence on Iran is insufficient and Iran is, in fact, developing nuclear weapons, as the White House alleges, the military option the Neocons and their Israeli allies are demanding (as was the theme of this year’s UJC General Assembly) would nonetheless be as disastrous for American foreign policy and the Middle East itself as the war in Iraq has been.
Hersh continues,

According to the former senior intelligence official, the C.I.A.’s assessment suggested that Iran might even see some benefits in a limited military strike — especially one that did not succeed in fully destroying its nuclear program — in that an attack might enhance its position in the Islamic world. “They learned that in the Iraqi experience, and relearned it in southern Lebanon,” the former senior official said. In both cases, a more powerful military force had trouble achieving its military or political goals; in Lebanon, Israel’s war against Hezbollah did not destroy the group’s entire arsenal of rockets, and increased the popularity of its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

But hey, certain failure never stopped the Neocons before.
As for Israel’s role in all of this? Scott Ritter has words for you there.
Previously: ð ðé ðéà ðéàå ðéàå÷ ðéàå÷å ðéàå÷åï àâ’ðãä, Is’ah We’sah Gonna Die?

17 thoughts on “As Neocons Push For War with Iran, Intelligence on Nuclear Arms Program Still Inconclusive

  1. The only conclusive evidence of Iran’s nuclear capability will come when Iran finally detonates nuclear weapons over the Zionist Entity thus terminating its existence as well as that of several million Jews thus finally bringing an end to the ‘occupation’ of Palestine.
    The neo-con attempts to paint Ahmenadijad as a Hitler despite his repeated calls for the destruction of Israel and drive to acquire nuclear weapons, should at no point be taken to mean that he actually wants to acquire nuclear weapons and destroy Israel. That kind of irrational thinking is typical of Zionists, Neo-Cons and various such other undesirable characters seeking war with the peaceful Islamic republic.

  2. The neo-con attempts to paint Ahmenadijad as a Hitler despite his repeated calls for the destruction of Israel and drive to acquire nuclear weapons…
    Yet the facts show that Ahmadinejad has no actual power and that his hostility towards Jews and Israel is even less than his predecessors’. Neither the CIA nor the Mossad have found evidence of a nuclear weapons program, likewise neither has the IAEA, and Ahmadinejad has repeatedly insisted that they wish to acquire nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
    What I believe is happening is that Ahmadinejad is pressing the Jews’ buttons to get them to do something stupid, like a U.S.-backed attack on Iran, that will deliver the Iranians a Nasrallah-like victory that will give them more power and influence over the Islamic world than they actually posses at the present moment.
    And you sir, I regret to say, are a perfect patsy.

  3. “And you sir, I regret to say, are a perfect patsy. ”
    “and Ahmadinejad has repeatedly insisted that they wish to acquire nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”
    Oh yes.

  4. The facts show Iran is accelerating its drive to obtain nuclear technology and I’m sure that Iran which is responsible for a good deal of the Islamic terrorism in the world, needs nuclear technology strictly for peaceful purposes. I am also sure that when Ahmadinejad talks about removing Israel off the face of the earth, he means to do so in strictly peaceful ways as well.
    I can’t conceive of a single reason why we should think otherwise just because Ahmedanijad repeatedly talks about the destruction of Israel and a top Iranian cleric called for the Muslim world to use nuclear weapons against Israel.
    I am 100 percent sure that despite its drive for regional supremacy and its investment in large scale weapons programs, that there’s no possible way that Iran would be aiming for nuclear weapons. That idea is just as loony as the notion that North Korea would want nuclear weapons. Or that Germany would invade Poland.
    Poppycock. Iran’s real goal is to trick us into attacking it for nuclear weapons it doesn’t have. Then it will stick out its tongue and mock us saying, “You thought we had nuclear weapons but we didn’t.”
    It’s much safer and saner to sit around smiling and wait till Iran actually detonates a nuclear bomb, which it won’t, since the only reason Iran is developing nuclear technology is to provide peaceful nuclear power. (Wasn’t there a time liberals snickered at the idea of peaceful nuclear power.)

  5. J, are you familiar with the concept of peak oil? Or do you also give short shrift to the the existing consensus among everyone except oil industry hacks that planetary oil production is around its peak and we will very soon begin to run out of oil? According to Chevron, “oil production is in decline in 33 of the 48 largest oil producing countries.” Why do you think we’re interested in Iran to begin with? I’ll give you a hint… It’s dark and slimy.

  6. nicely written and well-argued mobius…I will say a couple of things though.
    1) You’re claim that the “Mossad ha[s] found [no] evidence of a nuclear weapons program” – In the Seymour Hersh article, he does talk about Israeli officials saying that Mossad agents have verified that Iran has recently developed and tested a trigger device for a nuclear bomb – see the New Yorker article page 2 that you linked. That’s not to say of course that that is all of a sudden a Mt. Sinaiesque proof that we should take as 100% true, but your claim that the Mossad has found no evidence seems to be contradictory to the links you posted.
    2) While I also know that Ahmadinejad’s power in Iran does not include military decisions (like to nuke Israel), his rhetoric and influence with Iran’s higher-ups, with Iran’s overall population, as well as with a large portion of the militant Islamic population in the Middle East could go beyond just having the power to make a decision…his influence could make someone else, who does have that power, to make a decision. It also does not answer the question of – in a region as unpredictable as the Middle East, who’s to say that Ahmadinejad may not become the Supreme Ruler of Iran one day? Again, not evidence enough in my book to even think about attacking Iran right now, but just food for thought.

  7. Jason, thank you for not resorting to the same snide sarcasm exhibited by J and Sultan Knish who apparently find themselves incapable of putting forth a counter-argument without being obnoxious. Your menschlekeit is rather appreciated.
    Responding to your points:
    #1. Hersh also notes that intelligence officials have cast doubts upon the Israeli report, whereas it provides no evidence in support of the trigger claim. The report provides no images, diagrams, specifications, or location. It is entirely possible that the Israelis, who have a vested interest in obtaining US support for an attack on Iran, are knowingly passing faulty intelligence to the Bush administration (likely at Cheney’s request) in order to help build a case for war.
    #2. Chomsky in Yediot Ahranot: “In June 2006, Ayatollah Khamenei issued an official declaration stating that Iran agrees with the Arab countries on the issue of Palestine, meaning that it accepts the 2002 Arab League call for full normalization of relations with Israel in a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus. The timing suggests that this might have been a reprimand to his subordinate Ahmadenijad, whose inflammatory statements are given wide publicity in the West, unlike the far more important declaration by his superior Khamenei.”

  8. “Jason, thank you for not resorting to the same snide sarcasm exhibited by J and Sultan Knish who apparently find themselves incapable of putting forth a counter-argument without being obnoxious.”
    “And you sir, I regret to say, are a perfect patsy. ”
    “Jason, thank you for not resorting to the same snide sarcasm exhibited by J and Sultan Knish who apparently find themselves incapable of putting forth a counter-argument without being obnoxious.”
    “And you sir, I regret to say, are a perfect patsy”

  9. I said it regretfully and not with a hint of snideness or sarcasm. Jewish hysteria is lending itself to very bad policy decisions which, in the name of security, are actually jeopardizing our security.

  10. Jesus Christ, it’s fucking Alice in Wonderland. God knows I have no particular prescience, but the shit that’s going down now has been so agonizingly obvious for years. Richard Perle would have considered other options “if I’d been Delphic?” If he’d been Delphic? How about if he’d been a fucking mammal. I remember watching one of the usual Sunday-morning talking-head sideshows several years ago, when Perle and his knob-polishing lackey co-author were promoting their latest guide to contemporary war mongering. I believe it was shortly after we’d invaded Iraq, and I’m watching this show in gaping disbelief as this evil, grotesque monstrosity is sitting there saying we need to stop all this pansy bullshit and get ready to invade Iran and Syria. Invade Iran and Syria This scheming bloodsucker is so fucking evil he glows in the dark. And I’m watching this shit alone and I’m looking around for witnesses, because I’m just not sure I can believe what the fuck I’m hearing. This oily sack of shit is talking about starting World War III, while the host sits there with a shit-eating grin on his face instead of grabbing the nearest 3-iron and caving in Perle’s bloated head like a overripe Crenshaw melon, or, better yet, taking care of his underlying problem by giving him a referral to the nearest penile enlargement clinic. And still – still – someone will actually pay attention to what this gaping asshole has to say about U.S. foreign policy, rather than tossing him into a cage of dozen starving hyenas where he belongs.
    Yes, of course the Bush is lying about the threat posed by Iran, just as the Snarling Savage and Rumsfeld lied about using Iraq as part of their scheme to condition the United States public to an Orwellian state of permanent warfare. Nonetheless, among the many neo-con crimes against common sense and human decency, particularly egregious was the appalling stupidity of leaving the U.S. virtually impotent in the event Iran does become an actual security threat. Suppose evidence reveals the existence of an actual Iranian nuclear weapons program; are the neo-cons so stupid and arrogant as to believe the American public would yell “rah, rah” for a brand new war, after the hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of dead flushed down the toilet in their little vanity invasion in Iraq? Do these human deformities really think they can sit back and set up the invasion of country after country with impunity? It’s difficult to even conceive of a strategy that more effectively cripples the U.S.’s capacity to confront Iran than the brainless military adventurism of the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal. And yet on top of all this delusional idiocy, as soon as I heard about the neo-cons’ plans for a Iran adventure, I wondered if it even crossed their minds that the Iranian government isn’t some sclerotic regime presiding over a terrorized populace impoverished from years of sanctions. It is, instead, a vital and popular – if brutally authoritarian – state, one that will undoubtedly command the intense loyalty of Iran’s population if attacked. The simple truth is that you don’t invade a country like Iran as part of some cheap imperialistic scheme to purge the U.S. of the effects of the Vietnam Syndrome. And if these pathetic freaks try to recreate the brilliance of the Iraqi occupation, the U.S. will gets its ass kicked all over Persia.

  11. FYI…. Ahmeniwhatever did not ‘call for israel to be wiped off the map.’ He said, more or less, that Israel is destined to be erased from the pages of history, by which intelligent folks understand to mean, that someday the racist, ethnocentric state carved out by Westerners in the Middle East will not longer exist.
    Um…. that sounds like a vision we can all get behind. I can’t wait for Israel to be replaced with a ‘state of all it’s citizens’. That’s sort of a commonplace idea, in Israel. Not a majority vision, to be sure, but it has the support of MK’s, newspaper columnists, some political parties, etc.
    That being said, Ahmadiniwhatever is good at pressing our buttons.

  12. He also said that by launching an invasion of southern Lebanon, Israel was sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Indeed, by allowing itself to be manipulated by Ahmadinejad, and thereby tricked into pursuing an irrational military response, Israel is racing towards its own undoing.

  13. I think this illustrates the real damage the war in iraq has done. Because of the mess that Iraq has become, it will now be almost impossible for the administration to sell an attack on Iran to congress, especially to newly empowered democrats who were elected predominantly on the issue of the failures of this administration in Iraq.
    Mobius is right; we don’t know for certain that Iran is building nukes (personally, im pretty damn sure they are, but thats just my opinion). That said, what happens if it becomes clear in the next two years that Iran is beyond any reasonable doubt putting together nuclear weapons? The Bush administration has absolutely no credibility to sell a war with Iran to the American public. Iran doesnt want to talk. So what do we do if Iran is ready for a fight before Hillary takes office?

  14. ben adam, that only makes sense if you believe the republican hype that the democrats are bad for israel. however it’s been well established that the dems are frothing at the mouth over iran as well. aside from the obvious fact that the dems are also in the oil industry’s pocket (mr. environment, al gore, is a major shareholder in occidental energy, which is drilling in south american rainforests), the dems are also arguably more committed to a safe israel than the g.o.p.
    keep in mind the fact that the jewish community is staunchly democratic which means we’re all up in the party machinery. further, 87% of american jews support a “strong and safe israel.” the dems may have more realists handling their foreign policy, but when the jewish voting bloc that’s among your highest donors is screaming for action on iran, you’re going to listen.

  15. Mobi,
    Thank you kindly, but – as you well know – blogging is hard. Sniping, on the other hand, is as easy as it is entertaining.
    Though I think your analysis is correct, I still believe the political dynamics make a military confrontation with Iran immeasurably more difficult to pull off following the debacle of Iraq. The whole thrust of the Democratic Party’s campaign over the past couple of years has been – with damn good reason, of course – the recklessness and dishonesty of Republican warmongering. At the very least, simple political prudence will force them to exercise extreme caution in acceding to the need for any new American military engagements. We know what it took for Wilson to drag America into W.W. I and for Roosevelt to get us into W.W. II. Can you imagine how those efforts would have been impeded had there been, in the years immediately preceding those efforts, billions of dollars and thousands of lives wasted on some strategically gratuitous military adventure in the Brazilian rain forest? Good God, Republicans are horrible for the security and welfare of the United States.

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