Bad Israeli intel tied to invasion, and Iran is confusing

First a correction to the CENTCOM story: Kat's sister wrote the program WeatherPop start to finish. Can't stomp on a programmer's rep here. Seriously.

Categorize this under both "Groupthink" and "Israeli-American Hegemony theory." This is not exactly a small matter: Senate Report on Iraq Intel Points to Role of Jerusalem, as reported in the Jewish New York weekly journal Forward:

Cooperation between Israel and the United States helped produce a series of intelligence failures in the lead up to the Iraq war, according to separate reports issued by members of the Senate and the Knesset.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, in its report issued last week, blasted the Central Intelligence Agency for poor intelligence gathering and analysis, and concluded that the U.S. "intelligence community depended too heavily on defectors and foreign government services" to make up for America's lack of human intelligence in Iraq. The credibility of these outside sources was difficult to ascertain and, as a result, the United States was left open to manipulation by foreign governments, the Senate report concluded.

In particular, the Senate report claimed, America had become completely dependent on foreign sources to evaluate Saddam Hussein's ties to Hamas, Hezbollah and other Palestinian terrorist organizations. On this front, the Senate committee concluded that the foreign intelligence was "credible." On the issue of weapons of mass destruction, however, the Senate report concluded that the United States relied on incorrect intelligence to argue that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Any direct references to Israel were blacked out of the published version of the Senate report, but an earlier report issued in March by a Knesset committee made it clear that U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies were working together and exchanging information.

"In this particular case, nobody had hard, on-the-ground intelligence information," said Gerald Steinberg, a professor at Israel's Bar Ilan University and an expert on American-Israeli security relations.

Intelligence agencies, Steinberg said, were relying on a combination of data collected from Iraqi defectors, as well as radio monitoring or signal intelligence. The intelligence community, Steinberg said, "looked for the signal intelligence to verify what they got from the defectors. When you're doing that, and you don't have ground truth, you can usually find enough information to apparently verify what you're looking to verify."

Along similar lines, the Senate report criticized what it described as the creation of an "assumption train" — a chain of false assumptions based on faulty, unscrutinized intelligence. Judging from the Knesset report, issued in March by an investigative committee appointed by the Israeli parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, several of the assumption train's cars were made in Israel.
In turn, the Knesset report stated, foreign intelligence services relied on intelligence passed on by Israel that actually originated from operatives working for other governments. The result, according to the Israeli report, was "a vicious cycle of sorts in the form of a reciprocal feedback, which at times was more damaging than beneficial. It very well may be that the assessments given by an Israeli intelligence organization, or any other organization, to a fellow organization, were passed from hand to hand, played a central role in making up the assessments of that foreign organization, and then eventually returned to the original organization as an assessment of a different intelligence organization. That assessment, in turn, was immediately perceived as a reinforcement and validation by a reliable source, of the original Israeli assessment."

There is more and more intrigue around Iran, which is the great thing about Iran. It is so incredibly old and confusing, yet modernized and trendy, yet absolutely fanatical, it is appropriate that no one understands their roles in the present situation.

Meanwhile, Israel has completed its rehearsals to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities.

Is it that the U.S. is losing its grip on the Shiites altogether? Of course, that's the scratch. We never had a handle on what Iran was doing. Initially, after 9/11, I heard about Al-Qaeda problems in Iran, which seemed obvious enough, as people would have been circulating around Afghanistan. However, Iran was invested against the Taliban by supporting the Tajik (heroin-funded) warlord Ismail Khan of Herat.

Iran has a decentralized power structure, with competing blocs protecting Byzantine budgets and managing giant state-owned foundations, the ancient bazaar projected on a modern scale. So some people that we would list as Al-Qaeda would obviously have slipped through such a huge and discombobulated state, with sympathetic help from the Revolutionary Guards or other random cats. The Iranian frontier with Afghanistan is part of one of the world's largest heroin routes, so all kinds of weird people are around...

Juan Cole is all over the Sunni-Shiite questions, the whole bit:

For all we know, there is an Iranian Chalabi who is behind these reports, hoping to get the US to overthrow the regime in Iran so that he can take over. As for the al-Qaeda detainees or those under electronic surveillance, the letter of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has already made it clear that some radical Sunni elements that fought in Afghanistan dream of provoking a Shiite-American struggle. Al-Qaeda detainees are notorious for providing the US with disinformation aimed at furthering their plots. Iran is a notorious enemy of Wahhabism and al-Qaeda and the Taliban. How sweet it would be to provoke a war between the US and Iran by hanging 9/11 on Tehran! (It should be remembered that NSA intercepts also showed that Saddam had biological and chemical weapons, presumably because Saddam ordered his officers to talk them up in the vain hope of deterring a US attack).
Another problem is that Iran does not have a tight, unified government. The Iranian state consists of a number of competing power centers. In recent years the president, Mohammad Khatami, has supported more civil liberties and an opening to the West. The Supreme Jurisprudent, Ali Khamenei, is an old-style Khomeinist who revels in puritanical theocracy and hates the US. Even Khamenei, however, is not implicated in ever having planned direct action against US soil. Then there are the Basij and Revolutionary Guards and Quds Brigade paramilitaries, and it is unclear how much central control the state has over them. So even if some official in the Revolutionary Guards did let al-Qaeda operatives in (and this is by no means proven), it would not necessarily say much about the stance of the Iranian government(s).
Iran has admitted to having taken some al-Qaeda operatives captive after September 11, but it is holding them for some quid pro quos from the United States. In particular, Iran wants to ensure that the US does not allow the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) terrorist organization to continue to hit Iran from its bases in Iraq, and the al-Qaeda detainees are among its only bits of leverage over Washington in this regard. (Amazingly enough, there are political forces in Washington, including the Neocon-dominated, pro-Israeli "Washington Institute for Near East Policy," that support the MEK terrorist organization and want the Bush administration to, as well. Even scarier, WINEP, this supporter of a notorious terrorist group, is highly influential in Washington and US military and State Department personnel are actually detailed there to learn about the Middle East!).
Here is the Common Sense test: Usama Bin Laden is a fanatical Sunni Muslim surrounded by other fanatical Sunni Muslims and was nested in the Taliban, who are fanatical Sunni Muslims. Iran is Shiite, a branch of Islam that fanatical Sunni Muslims absolutely hate. In Afghan politics, 1996-2002, at the time it was dominated by the Taliban and al-Qaeda, Iran was allied with the Northern Alliance against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Iran was trying to overthrow the Taliban and crush them and al-Qaeda.

Iran's allies in Afghanistan were the Tajiks, the Uzbeks and especially the Hazaras. The Hazaras are Afghan Shiites. They form about 15% of the Afghan population. The Hazaras' main political vehicle was the Hizb-i Vahdat or Unity Party, which was and is closely allied with Iran. Tajik warlords in the Northern Alliance like Ismail Khan, who are Sunnis, also have strong ties of language and patronage to Iran. Basically, Persian speakers in Afghanistan tended to side with Iran, especially Shiite Persian speakers. Whereas Pushtu speakers and immigrant Arabs tended to side instead with Pakistan.
Pakistan's Sunni fundamentalist-dominated military, especially its Inter-Services Intelligence or military intelligence, had more or less created the Taliban and heavily supported them with equipment, training, fuel and other goods.

Iran and Pakistan were engaged in a regional struggle for influence in Afghanistan and Central Asia, in which Iran's Shiism and Pakistan's Sunnism were ideological tools. This struggle spilled over into Pakistan itself. The radical Sunni Sipah-i Sahabah or Companions of the Prophet, originating in Jhang Siyal in northern Punjab, has conducted a terrorist campaign of assassination against Shiites in Pakistan. Sipah-i Sahabah was one of the jihadi groups that got training in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and was allied with al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
The second test is Who is Helped by these Crazy Allegations?

- The Likud lobby in Washington, especially Michael Ledeen, Michael Rubin and other warmongers. They want the Tehran regime overthrown in part because it stands in the way of an Israeli annexation of southern Lebanon, with the Litani river as the long-sought prize. Iran is allied with Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, which forced the Israelis back out of Lebanon with a nearly 20-year long guerrilla struggle. They also want to force Hizbullah to pull back its support of the Palestinian uprising. Since Iran has substantially cut back on its support for Hizbullah, however, overthrowing Tehran would have little effect on such local political dynamics. (The Likud's Ariel Sharon should never have invaded Lebanon in 1982, which is what created Hizbullah, suicide bombings as a tactic, and radicalized Lebanese like 9/11 hijacker Ziad Jarrah).

- Old-time US intelligence and diplomatic officials who have a grudge with Iran over the Hostage Crisis and other Iranian actions against the US in the 1980s

- The US military-industrial complex, which is frustrated at not being able to extract money from the potentially wealthy Iranian market

- Iranian expatriates from families formerly allied with the deposed Shah of Iran, who are enormously wealthy and influential and are eager to play Chalabi in Tehran. Watch them as key sources of disinformation.

- Al-Qaeda, which is seeking to "sharpen contradictions" by provoking serial fights between the US and Muslim powers. It would especially like to see a US- Shiite struggle, so that its two major enemies would both be weakened and pre-occupied with each other rather than Bin Laden.

If we are talking about Iran then things between Israel and the rest of the Mideast come into play, because Israel and Hezbollah are facing off intensely, as Hezbollah sniper/s killed a couple Israeli technical soldiers fixing an antenna near the border a few days ago. Around this time a Lebanese militant leader got blown up in a car bomb, and of course they blamed the Israelis.

The hawks are marshalling their forces to start justifying the bombing of Iranian nuclear sites, whether by the U.S., Israel, or why not, Kurdish guerillas? A new Committee on the Present Danger has slithered from the dankest cubicles of Washington. There have been two of these propaganda beasts before. The last CPD harassed Jimmy Carter, issuing a more alternative, hawkish foreign policy stream of exaggerations and paranoia, suggesting the need for ever-more military spending at all times. Many of the same people got involved with the very similar Project for the New American Century scheme.

Fortunately the chairman of the new blob has been forced to resign because he had been working with Austrian quasi-Nazi Joerg Haider. Justin Raimondo is all over this one.

As a random side link I picked up somewhere, let's step back and look at NSC 68, a national security directive issued in April 1950 that really sent us off into the cold war. What kinds of NSC 68s have been drafted by geniuses like Douglas Feith and thrown into our system, and what would a new CPD try to put in? In other words, what operational doctrines would cause the issues above to completely flare out of control?

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