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Summary: In this post I look at the report released by the House Intelligence Committee. It serves two purposes, in my opinion: To present the first "case" against Iran, under the guise of calling for better intelligence on Iran. And to suggest that, since we don’t have good intelligence on Iran, we can’t negotiate with them, because we’d have no way of verifying any agreement.

I’ve been pondering two questions of late. First, why did the Neocons move Fred Fleitz to a staff position on the House Intelligence Committee. And second, how they hell do they plan to lie us into war in Iran when, this time, the public and the intelligence community have their guard up?

Fred Fleitz, as you’ll recall, was the guy John Bolton hand-picked to serve as his enforcer while Bolton was at State. He was instrumental in end-running the State Department’s INR, by insisting that WINPAC do the vetting that INR normally would have; as a result, he made it possible for Bolton to say all manner of inflammatory things that the intelligence community didn’t back. Fleitz was also involved in Bolton’s attempt to get those who didn’t back his hawkish views fired. There were accusations that Fleitz and Bolton’s other minions were breaking the rules regarding Secure Compartmentalized Intelligence (that is, they were circulating super-secret documents in ways they shouldn’t have), with who knows what aim. And Fleitz is an odds-on favorite to the be the source of Valerie Plame’s NOC identity for Dick and his minions when they outed Plame’s identity. Fleitz was moved to the House Intelligence Committee back in the spring, and I’ve wondered ever since whether it meant he was cooperating with Fitzgerald (and therefore needed a different job) or whether they had designs to bulldoze crappy intelligence through the House Intelligence Committee. It appears the latter is the correct guess (big surprise).

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  1. gaps says:

    ’Star Gate’ announced it was cancelled the day Plame threatened to sue Armitage, who is the General in charge. It’s okay because the star left last year. Plame knows alot about ’Vanity Fair.’

    Anyway………..Iran is now negotiating; Iran now has it’s own desk at the State Department, and I doubt her work was lost.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Good work, emptywheel. I took a half-arsed stab at the report yesterday, before I’d bothered reading it all (why do I do that, anyway? … Well, OK, I know why–it’s because not one page into the report they’re already citing the New York Times as an intelligence source… I know, I know–unclassified white paper and all that–but, come on! Are we clowns? Do we amuse them?)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hey, I didn’t know that was you, &y.

    I actually think the missiles claim is sustainable. Though perhaps not directly. And so what? Does our arming of Israel justify anyone from Lebanon to attack the US? No. It’s a big bad arms proliferation world out there, and we’re hypocrites when we accuse Iran of being criminal because it plays along too.

    I’m actually really fascinated by the report from a dissemination point of view. It HAS gotten a lot of press. But they can’t control that in the same way they could control Judy. I wonder if they regret going overboard and ruining Judy for propaganda purposes?

  4. JohnLopresti says:

    I guess from your prose you saw Sara’s added comment in the Judy thread last nite.
    Currently led by Republicans HPSCI had this opportunity three months preelection to publish this report; I appreciate your review of it. If Dems win the House in three months, there will be a seachange in what that committee does, and a consequent realignment in the administration’s m.o. with intelligence.

  5. merciless says:

    …how they hell do they plan to lie us into war in Iran when, this time, the public and the intelligence community have their guard up?

    Excellent report, emptywheel. Let me see if I have this straight: We don’t have anywhere near the troops necessary for a ground invasion, so it will have to be an air assault, probably with nukes, and the Air Force is behind this 100%. The other branches of the military, however, are not, and apparently neither are the intelligence services.

    The administration must feel some urgency, since they don’t want to wait until November when things might look different in Congress. They must forge ahead as soon as possible.

    My question is, do we have any evidence that the Pentagon, State Department, or intelligence services have the ability to stop this? I won’t even ask about Congress, that’s a lost cause.

    The media will jump on the bandwagon at the first rocket launch, and the elections will swing Republican because we’re at (another) war. Politically it makes sense.

    But can it be stopped? Or will I just get to sit back and watch the train wreck, as I did a few years ago?

  6. Anonymous says:

    merciless

    I think the military has already made the Neocons back away from using nuclear bunker busters–hopefully it stays that way. I don’t know if we can stop it–We would need a bit of spine in Congress, not least because it would make military opposition to this a lot more palatable.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yep, that’s me. Sadly, much of the Internet does not allow me to use my too-cute-by-at-least-half &y signature as a login name. And it’s even worse, because now I’m technically alw (marriage ==> new middle initial).

    I agree with you (and the NYT, and Fleitz) that the rocket intelligence is probably real. But claims from the cabal have, how shall I say it, earned a heightened degree of skepticism over the years. I think it was Lincoln (or one of the other founding fathers) who said, â€Ya can’t get fooled again.â€

    The dissemination aspect is fascinating–if grotesque (they are banging the drums for what will be a catastrophic war, after all.) The Bush PR machine (i.e. the White House) has internalized and mastered the art of getting their way through confusion–spinning a cacophony of truths, half-truths, undisprovable assertions, and lies into isolated patches of â€reality†that serve their interests. The tactics can be simple (endlessly repeating â€9/11†and â€Saddam†in adjacent sentences, for example) or elaborate (such as staged performances at the U.N. that allow them to pretend they gave diplomacy a chance). Every President does this to some extent, but these guys really do make an art of it.

    With the pending Iran attack, they have successfully changed the subject–the first step in the PR campaign is to get people talking about what they want us to be talking about. The next phase (in progress) is to confuse us with â€the facts†so we can have a meaningful debate and reach the conclusions they want us to reach. The message of this phase is something like, â€Iran blah blah blah Syria blah blah terror blah blah nuclear weapon blah blah U.N. resolution(s) blah blah violation(s) blah blah madman blah blah blah Hezbollah blah blah….†The â€blah blahs†that link those vital keywords will be the above-mentioned mix of truths, half-truths, etc.–the details are largely irrelevant, since the war will be well underway by the time anyone has enough information to sort out what was true and what was not.

    Phase three. Once we all have the proper keywords in our heads, Bush can construct an appropriate straw-man version of his opposition (the good and decent people who Bush happens to disagree with–the ones who are blind to the threat of nuclear annihilation, who want to appease Tehran, etc.) The administration will then debate this strawman vigorously, win the debate in a landslide (thanks to the phase 2 blah blah confusion), and start his next war.

    ———–
    Of course, given the power Bush thinks he has, we may wake up one morning to find that he’s bypassed the whole debate and launched a â€decapitation strike.â€

  8. semiot says:

    EW:

    Great sussing and fisking, as usual. And as might be considered as usual with me, I see only one shortcoming in your analysis: â€when Fleitz’ buddies, with the possible assistance of Fleitz himself, decided to ruin her career on a lark.†You know me. I can’t help but look for evidence for my original hypothesis (in light of any unequivocally refuting evidence): I think what we are seeing is the follow up on the plans that were prepared in late Spring 2003, the ones that put Iran as the next objective of the war party, and required the outing of agent Plame precisely to make facts about Iranian WMD scarce, and thus the scare more easy to sell to â€low-information voters†– IOW, hardly a lark. More like a carreer rubout gone awry, IMHO.

  9. merciless says:

    I don’t know if we can stop it–

    I don’t think anyone in America can, but that’s just me. My real concern is world reaction; both China and Russia have vested interests in Iran, and I can’t imagine them just sitting back and letting Bush do this without consequences.

    And I have long suspected that semiot is right about Mrs. Plame; I think they got rid of her on purpose. Perhaps she got too close to uncovering something that needs to be kept secret.

  10. ering says:

    Isreal invaded Lebanon and Palestine. The decapitation strike Olmert did’nt control. Could this be part of the plane?

    Most CIA Operations Officers want to be ’called back’ after they retire. They’re not needed. The information is still there. I don’t know if she works for Russia or China, but I think India goes to Russia and China gets sonething else.

  11. Watson says:

    OT, but speaking of Plame, what about Fitz vs. Libby + ??
    Is the likelihood that there will be no more indictments unless Libby flips? Thanks.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Watson

    I don’t really know. I know Libby’s NIE story doesn’t hold up. I don’t know how Fitz intends to crush that story. But if he does, Cheney’s in trouble. I suspect Fitz would need one or two more to make that happen, and the best way to make it happen is on the suddently reappearing emails. But with them so quiet, who knows what’s happening.

  13. Watson says:

    Thank you, ew.
    You’re the go-to source, and you’ve been quiet too. I really appreciate your analysis on this subject.

  14. ecoast says:

    Here is an interesting graph from that wapo story.


    â€We want to avoid another ’slam dunk,’ †Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) said in an interview yesterday, explaining why the staff report was made public before it had been approved by the full committee. â€We think it’s important for the American people to understand the kinds of pressures that we are facing and to increase the American public’s understanding of Iran as a threat.â€

    The reason they put out the report yesterday was to steer away the discussion from negotiations with Iran after Iran turned down conditional talks the previous day. If this report had not come out, the centers of attention would have been UN, European partners, Condi’s State and we would be discussing the talks.
    Now the neocons trumped it, halted the â€talks†talk and kept the option to bomb open.

  15. marky says:

    Now would be a good time to talk to Chalabi, who exposed US intel in Iran some time back, just for this eventuality.
    They never wanted any good intel on Iran, so it was necessary to ruin our intel assets there.
    Mission Accomplished!

  16. Anonymous says:

    ecoast

    Well-said. This was obviously not long in the works. I mean, geez, I’d invent a better war justification than this, and my heart’s not in it. Part of me wonders, btw, if this is what Johnny Bolton was breakfasting with Judy about the other day.

  17. ecoast says:

    EW – here is another clue.
    Froomkin quotes an ABC reporter.

    Kirit Radia of ABC News offers a clue: â€U.S. officials tell ABC News the White House had intended to issue a stronger statement rejecting Iran’s response and calling for talks on sanctions against Iran to begin quickly, but pressure mounted from European countries overnight to hold off on the strong language and to allow time for countries to carefully consider Iran’s response.

    â€Ultimately, U.S. officials say, the United States yielded to pressure from the European countries, namely Britain and France, to issue the milder statement that was released today.â€

    This looks like, as usual, Cheney vs the whole world. I am thinking maybe they were saving this report for next week (Katrina anniversary), but they had to stop those nasty Europeans and State first. So Cheney authorized the release.

    Now they have to find something else for next week.

  18. Meteor Blades says:

    I just finished that report, shaking my head all the way through, start thinking about maybe writing something, sign on here, and see you’ve already done the hard lifting, ew. Great work, as usual.

    I especially love this:

    However, through its terrorist proxies, intelligence service, Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and other tools of power projection and influence, Iran could at any time significantly ramp up its sponsorship of violent attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East if it believed doing so would keep the United States distracted or would otherwise be in Iran’s national interest.

    As you note, you would think that, if they believe this, they might be little concerned about what Iran could do – without a working nuke – given all the U.S. assets in the region. Straits of Hormuz, U.S. troops in Iraq, and all that jazz.

    What’s most disturbing, to me, at least, in all the drumbeat for war, is the elected Democrats’ lack of response. It’s hard to imagine that there will be much of any large Dem opposition to an attack on Iraq should that come before November 7. And, worse, it’s not clear that even if there were to be a major Dem victory, as so many are predicting and hoping for, that any moves to stop a move against Iran would be taken. That’s a â€bipartisan†foreign policy we’d could all do without.

  19. prostratedragon says:

    [Italics need closing a comment or two up.]

    Wow, see what a great post does? There are some terrific comments here, too. Now back to this rock …

  20. Anonymous says:

    “The administration must feel some urgency, since they don’t want to wait until November when things might look different in Congress. They must forge ahead as soon as possible.’’

    This I do not understand. Unless they time the attack just right, the after effects will make it much more likely that the D’s will do well on the first Tuesday in November—$5.00 per gallon gasoline, anyone? [I am assuming that the Iranians will manage to stop tanker traffic thru’ the Straits of Hormuz for a substantial period of time. That will, of course, piss off the Europeans, Japanese, &c, no end—they are much more dependent on that oil than the US is.]

  21. merciless says:

    Paul Lyon, you’re absolutely right about ramifications. I have two answers: it was reported I think last week that the Bush administration believes it has enough oil in the strategic reserves to cover any â€bump†that would be caused by an invasion. So they think, probably with the collusion of their friends in big oil, that they can weather this without too much trouble.

    The second answer is that they cannot see beyond their own noses. They were completely wrong about Iraq’s reaction to our â€liberation,†but that doesn’t seem to bother them. They are no doubt spinning fantasies that they’ll soon share with us.

    Like you, I see huge spikes in oil prices, a blockade of the Strait of Hormuz, severe retaliation from not only the middle eastern countries, but also Europe, Russia, and China.

    Glenn Greenwald has a splendid post up this morning. Go read, then stock up on canned goods.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Interesting, I just posted Crazy Extremists

    These Islamic extremists have some serious anti-social issues. It is unfortunate that too many people in this world are willing adherents to rigid dogma.

    It is disturbing how many willingly sacrifice their lives for someone else’s objectives, all in the name of religion. Or could it be something else?

    Could it be for the state and a sense of patriotism?

    Could it be over land and/or other resources?

    Or could the objective be to settle an old score? After all if it is always about and â€eye for an eye†we will have constant war. Yes, there sure are lots of ways adherence to rigid dogma and unquestioning loyalty lead to bloodshed.

    Please check out OhioDem1’s How to Sell a War for more on this topic.

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