Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The neocon wheel keeps turning

"Pentagon Officer Created Phony Intel on Iraq/al-Qaeda Link":
"Newly released documents confirm that a Pentagon unit knowingly cooked up intelligence claiming a direct link between Iraq and al-Qaeda in order to win support for a preemptive strike against the country.
A report prepared by the Defense Department's Inspector General for Carl Levin, the Democratic Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, explicitly shows how former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith used his defense department position to cook intelligence claiming a connection between the terrorist organization and Saddam Hussein's regime."
"Lopez: Why should I think “Iran” when I hear “al Qaeda”?

Ledeen: Because they’ve been working together since 1994, and we are now up to our uvulas in evidence showing Iran’s support for al Qaeda in Iraq. The 9/11 Commission — as Tom Joscelyn has written for years — found striking evidence of the al Qaeda/Iran partnership, starting with the sensational discovery that Imad Mughniyah, the operational chief of Hezbollah, was on the plane that took some of the 9/11 terrorists out of Saudi Arabia, en route to the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

Lopez: So does bin Laden and crew work for Iran? Have they always?

Ledeen: I don’t know about “always.” Certainly they have worked closely with Iran for quite a while. I think the Iranian domination of al Qaeda started when we destroyed al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The key leaders ran to Iran and have mostly been there ever since.

Lopez: Was Iran involved in 9/11?

Ledeen: I don’t know. It’s possible, but certainly unproven. The most tantalizing factoid is the story of Ramzi bin al Shibh, the logistics officer for the 9/11 operation. He went to Iran for a month in late December, 2000, and then he returned to Iran less than a week before 9/11."
"Bush Floats War Against Iran" by Ted Rall (there were tradecraft reasons for using Iran as a via point):
"According to a Newsweek report about the new 9/11 Commission Report, "Iranian officials instructed their border inspectors not to place Iranian or Afghan stamps in the passports of Saudi terrorists traveling from Osama bin Laden's training camps through Iran." Calling this "the strongest evidence yet of a relationship between Iran and Al Qaeda," the report notes that "eight to ten of the 'muscle' hijackers of the September 11 plot" crossed through Iran from Afghanistan, "undoubtedly help[ing] the 9/11 terrorists pass into the United States without raising alarms among U.S. Customs and visa officials...the report raises new, sharper questions about whether the Bush Administration was focused on the right enemy when it decided to remove Saddam Hussein."

The invasion of Iraq was preceded by similar trial balloons in the press. Should Bush remain in office this November and the "we invaded the wrong Ira-" argument catch fire among a complacent and compliant media, we may be fighting a third unwinnable war against a Muslim state a year from now.

There's even less evidence of a link between Al Qaeda and Iran than between Al Qaeda and Iraq--but that's not stopping E-Z Boy warriors like Cheney and Rumsfeld.

First and foremost, there's no reason to believe that Afghan or Iranian visa stamps would have caused alarm at the U.S. border. My passport is thick with stamps from countries in Central Asia and the Middle East, including those issued by both the Taliban and Northern Alliance governments of Afghanistan. Only two countries, France and Israel, have asked me about them. Even after 9/11, U.S. Customs never examined them.

Furthermore, Iran doesn't stamp Saudi passports for good reason: the Saudi government, dominated by Wahhabi Sunni extremists, despises Shia Iran. Viewing Shiites as pseudo-Islamic heretics more contemptible than infidels, the Saudi regime takes a dim view of those who travel to Iran--a fact that Iranian customs takes into account when welcoming Saudi visitors so they don't get into trouble back home.

Another mystery: Why does the December 2001 National Security Agency memo cited by Newsweek mention Afghan visa stamps? Iran has no more ability to issue Afghan visas than Mexico has to issue American ones.

The big reason to doubt an Iran-Al Qaeda connection is historical. In one of many events unknown to most Americans, Taliban forces under Mullah Mohammad Omar seized the Iranian consulate at Mazar-e-Sharif in 1998. After the Afghans murdered ten Iranian diplomats and one journalist there, Iran massed troops on the border and threatened war against Afghanistan. (The crisis passed when the Taliban apologized and turned over the bodies.)

To say the least, it's extremely unlikely that Iran would have formed a cozy alliance with Mullah Omar's bosom buddies in Al Qaeda just two years later in 2000, as the Bushies now claim. In fact, despite having no diplomatic relations with the United States, Iran provided back-channel assistance to the Bush Administration during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, including turning over Al Qaeda suspects and offering to rescue American pilots shot down near the Iran-Afghanistan border. "It's definitely the case that there was no love lost between Iran and the Taliban," John Pike, director of the defense think tank Global Security, said in 2002. "
"Stupendous hostage rescue was simply ransom payoff."
 "US behind Canada’s anti-Iran allegations to cover up al-Qaeda ties"

"Iran denies link to Canada train 'al-Qaeda plot'"

"Toronto terrorism plot takedown helps Conservatives sell anti-terror measures: Tim Harper"

"Conservative anti-terror bill and arrests match up beautifully, don’t they: Mallick":
"How odd. The week after the Boston bombings, the Conservative government had MPs suddenly debating an anti-terror bill that had long been hanging around with its hands in its pockets. The very same day, conveniently, the RCMP arrested two alleged terrorists.
They had a tip from an imam, the cops said. They got it a year ago.
Call me cynical. I’m not, I am hopeful credulity itself, but the anti-terror bill is shameful and the arrests dubious. The police press conference consisted of a dozen white male cops — and a token female — in a variety of uniforms congratulating each other and offering next to no information."

Reminds me of how the anthrax attacks directed at American politicians occurred when the neocons were having trouble forcing through the Patriot Act.  The threat of death for voting the wrong way worked like a charm (the analogy is perfect, as Canadian politicians get free train travel, and the attack is said to be against the rail system, meaning the threat of the attack can be felt directly by the politicians).  Camel Club to the rescue.
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