The Ghorbanifar Timeline, Two

I will have more to say on specific details revealed in my Ghorbanifar Timeline in the coming days. But for now, I wanted to make my main point more strongly by focusing on particular dates in the timeline.

The timeline strongly suggests that the hawks within the White House sustained the contacts with Ghorbanifar as part of a (mostly successful) campaign to prevent the Administration from building a closer relationship with Iran.

Before I get into actual dates, recall Flynt Leverett’s argument (which was so dangerous the Administration censored it heavily). Leverett argues that the only workable solution to our relations with Iran is to forge a "grand bargain," trading security for more constructive Iranian engagement throughout the Middle East.

In the current regional context, issue-specific engagement with Iran is bound to fail. The only diplomatic approach that might succeed is a comprehensive one aimed at a “grand bargain” between the United States and the Islamic Republic.


Iran will only cooperate with the United States, whether in Iraq or on the nuclear issue, as part of a broader rapprochement addressing its core security concerns. This requires extension of a United States security guarantee — effectively, an American commitment not to use force to change the borders or form of government of the Islamic Republic — bolstered by the prospect of lifting United States unilateral sanctions and normalizing bilateral relations.

The parts of Leverett’s op-ed that got censored reveal that, in fact, Iran has attempted to foster such a grand bargain several times during the Bush Administration. Colin Powell and Richard Armitage cautiously supported those attempts. But each time those efforts started developing, the Administration scuttled the efforts–usually based on inflammatory claims.

And at least some of those claims may have come from Manucher Ghorbanifar.

In other words, top Administration officials kept letting Ghorbanifar’s fraudulent "intelligence" get inserted into the government because it provided critical–albeit fraudulent–support for a policy of regime change in Iran.

Now look at the known dates:

December to February 2001

Michael Ledeen says he first started putting this meeting together "soon after September 11, 2001, probably in the October 2001 timeframe." The first documented discussions about the meeting occurred on November 7, and the meeting occurred from December 10 through 13.

Thus, the meeting was set up during the time period when the US was engaging Iran closely–and productively–in context of its Afghan war.

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration used the cover of the “6+2” process to stand up what was effectively a freestanding bilateral channel with Iran, with regular (for the most part, monthly) meetings between U.S. and Iranian diplomats.

U.S. engagement with Tehran over Afghanistan provided significant and tangible benefits for the American position during the early stages of the war on terror. At a minimum, U.S. engagement with Tehran helped to neutralize the threat of Iranian actions on the ground, either by Afghan proxies or by Iranian intelligence and paramilitary assets, which could have made prosecution of Operation Enduring Freedom and subsequent post-conflict stabilization more difficult. More positively, engagement elicited crucial diplomatic cooperation from Iran, both during the war and afterwards. Over years, Iran had cultivated extensive relationships with key players on the Afghan political scene, including important warlords in northern and western Afghanistan. Iranian influence was critical for arming and managing these players during the U.S.-led coalition’s military operations. After the war, Iranian influence induced these players to support the political settlement enshrined at the Bonn Conference in December 2001, when the Afghan Interim Authority under Hamid Karzai was established.

Most striking, the Rome meeting with Ghorbanifar took place on the days immediately following a December 9 public statement from Colin Powell expressing an openness to negotiate with Iran.

SECRETARY POWELL: On Iran, setting aside pipelines. I am open to explore opportunities. We have been in discussions with the Iranians on a variety of levels and in some new ways since September 11. Jim Dobbins spoke with Iranians in Bonn as we put together the new interim administration in Afghanistan, and I had a brief handshake and discussion with the Iranian Prime Minister in the UN. So there are a number of things going on and we recognize the nature of that regime and we recognize that the Iranian people are starting to try to find a new way forward and we are open to exploring opportunities without having any vaseline in our eyes with respect to the nature of the government or the history of the past 22 years.

Finally, there’s the issue of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Within the framework of cooperation with Iran and following the Bonn Conference that set up the Afghan government, the US asked Iran to hold Hekmatyar in Iran. The US asked Iran to hold Hekmatyar–one of the most effective warlords, going back to the anti-Soviet campaign–partly to keep close track of him, and partly to prevent him from returning to Afghanistan and destabilizing the fragile country. Iran consented to hold Hekmatyar, "so long as the Bush administration did not criticize it for harboring terrorists;" basically, they didn’t want the US to simultaneously request they hold Hekmatyar and then label that action as the sheltering of terrorists.

In short, the US and Iran were cooperating productively, based on the hope that the US might grant Iran a security guarantee and premised on the understanding, in the short term, that the US wouldn’t accuse Iran of support for terrorism.

So now look at the list of "intelligence" Ghorbanifar offered Ledeen, Rhode, and Franklin:

  • Iranian "hit teams" targeting U.S. personnel in Afghanistan
  • Iran’s long standing relationship with the Palestinian Liberation Organization
  • Tunnel complexes in Iran for weapons storage or exfiltration of regime leaders
  • Iran’s perception on Saddam Hussein’s grip on Iraq
  • Iranian regime attitudes toward the U.S.
  • Internal rivalries among Iran’s intelligence agencies

Of these pieces of "information," Franklin took action on the "hit teams" claim, informing a Special Forces Commander of it. The Commander then turned "the tables on these Iranians," presumably undermining any cooperation they had in Afghanistan.

In addition, there was Ghorbanifar’s cocktail napkin plan for regime change, in which $5 million of traffic disruption would result in the overthrow of the regime, which Ledeen passed on directly to Hadley, Luti, and Rodman.

At a time when the State Department was testing the possibility of closer ties to Iran, a known fraud provided information that suggested Iran was trying to undermine US efforts in Afghanistan and continued to have ties to terrorists (PLO). This meeting happened with the approval of Stephen Hadley, who the following year, at least, would play a key role in drafting the State of the Union speech. Further, in early 2002, someone from OVP was following up with Franklin on the information. In the SOTU in 2002, Bush included Iran among the Axis of Evil. Just weeks later, Iran expelled Hekmatyar; Hekmatyar would go on to be one of the strongest leaders in the Afghan insurgency fighting against the US. While it’s not clear how important Ghorbanifar’s "intelligence" was in the Administration’s adoption of a hard line against Iran in the face of meaningful cooperation, key players within the Administration willingly pursued such information.

June 2003

The second planned Ghorbanifar meeting took place on June 30 to July 1, 2003, in Paris. As with the first meeting, this one took place not long after Iran had tried to reach out to the US again.

This timing is a little confusing. Iran was reported to have sent a proposal to the US via Geneva "just after" the US conquered Baghdad in April 2003. The US complained to the Swiss Ambassador who had forwarded the document. But the US and Iran did enter into negotiations, lasting until May 21, when the Administration made unsubstantiated claims that Iran-hosted Al Qaeda leaders had planned a recent bombing in Saudi Arabia and shut down negotiations.

So, in the period following another attempt to negotiate with Iran, Harold Rhode once again met with Ghorbanifar. Significantly, this meeting appears to have been one set up by OVP–two OVP people sent Rhode instead after they were unable to make the meeting themselves (more on OVP’s involvement in a future post). At the meeting, Ghorbanifar told Rhode things that played into notions of Iran as a sponsor of terrorism and of the counter-insurgency in Iraq.

The purpose of Mr. Rhode’s meeting with Mr. Ghorbanifar was to receive "an update on the current political situation and conditions in Iran." Based on Mr. Rhode’s notes, the subjects covered included the current situation in Iran, Iranian relations with Syria, the state of Islam in Iran, and Iran’s activity in Iraq.

And, of course, another iteration of Ghorbanifar’s cocktail napkin plan for regime change in Iran.

In the aftermath of this meeting, Senators Kyl, Santorum, Brownback, and Roberts started pressuring Tenet to act on Ghorbanifar’s "intelligence." Meanwhile, Rhode continued to communicate with Ghorbanifar. And Michael Ledeen starting claiming that Ghorbanifar could bring weapons inspectors to Iraq’s uranium, now hidden in Iran. This was also the period when OVP was taking raw intelligence from Ghorbanifar–some of it grievously incorrect–and demanding that David Kay follow up on the intelligence in Iraq.

Now, perhaps OVP was willing to meet with Ghorbanifar (or have Rhode do so in its stead) out of desperation with the WMD hunt. But it came in the wake of another attempt to establish closer relations between Iran and the US.

October 2003

Finally, there was a possible meeting between Harold Rhode and Ghorbanifar in early October 2003. While we don’t know whether this actually happened, if it did, it would have occurred in another period of debate about the Administration’s Iran policy. Just weeks after the potential meeting, Stephen Cambone halted CIFA’s investigation into the meetings, preventing CIFA from investigating (among other things) the role of OVP in the meetings. And, just weeks after the possible meeting, the State Department once again announced it was prepared to restart negotiations with Iran.

Now, I frankly think we’re dealing with an incomplete picture. We don’t have a map of how often Ledeen was meeting with Ghorbanifar or whom he was sharing that "intelligence" with. Further, the fact that two OVP people were prepared to meet with Ghorbanifar in June 2003 suggests they may have had other meetings with him. That is, these three dates may represent a very incomplete picture of when the hawks in the Administration went to Ghorbanifar to get further useful "intelligence" to undercut closer ties to Iran.

But the dates we do know suggest there may be a connection between periods of increasing debate within the Administration about its Iran policy and formal meetings with Ghorbanifar. As with Chalabi, Ghorbanifar appeared to be providing the neocons the information they needed, when they needed it, all to support a grandiose strategy of empire in the Middle East.

45 replies
  1. WilliamOckham says:

    One key to understanding what was going on is figuring out who Ghorbanifar was working for, but I fear that is essentially unknowable. the sane part of DOD clearly was worried that the OVP-Ledeen-Ghorbanifar nexus was a potential penetration by a foreign intelligence service. Was it Iran? Italy? Israel? Some other country beginning with the letter ‘I’? (just kidding)

    • emptywheel says:

      I don’t think it has to be one country. Ledeen, obviously, has close ties to both Italy and Likudnik Israel (with roots in the way the intell system was set up after WWII). But I think there are a number of ops (the Equatorial Guinea coup is one of them) that seemed to be supported by a number of authoritarian entities: the Thatcherites in the UK, the Berlusconi govt, the Aznar government in Spain, the Saudis, and of course the Cheney wing.

      I can’t claim to be able to sort out these authoritarian factions work together, but it’s clear these authoritarian forces are able to work together above national interests. In fact, I think it’s in trying to see things in strictly nationalist terms that hides the way these factions manage to cooperate and bypass counterintelligence in their own govts.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        but it’s clear these authoritarian forces are able to work together above national interests. In fact, I think it’s in trying to see things in strictly nationalist terms that hides the way these factions manage to cooperate and bypass counterintelligence in their own govts.

        I started to arrive at the same conclusion last autumn, although I am as yet unclear as to quite what it all means. My own synopsis is rather fuzzy, but it surely helps explain (in part) the roles of money laundering and globalization. And FISA.

        • emptywheel says:

          To me, it’s helpful to think of neocons as neo-feudalists.

          Faced with the imminent end to petroleum hegemony, these elites had a choice: alter their fundamentally authoritarian stances and call for global cooperation to meet the dual goals of oil scarcity and global warming, or break up sovereign space in the world, build fortresses and privitized armies, so that the elite can trade security in the future for complacency on the part of the proles. As with the feudalists of old, nationality meant little, and most members of the authoritarian elite speak the lingua franca a move easily between purported national boundaries. And while these warlord types will compete with each other for power and property, they’re really as interested in establishing and manintaining a delicate balance of just the right amount of insecurity to ensure the peaceful masses.

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            Faced with the imminent end to petroleum hegemony, these elites had a choice: alter their fundamentally authoritarian stances and call for global cooperation to meet the dual goals of oil scarcity and global warming, or break up sovereign space in the world, build fortresses and privitized armies, so that the elite can trade security in the future for complacency on the part of the proles.

            Agree with the entire comment. Ironically, (or coincidentally), I clicked over here just after reading a report in today’s Guardian about climate scientist James Hansen finally publicly stating, ‘we need to seriously consider putting oil corporation execs on trial for crimes against humanity”:…..matechange
            It’s worth noting that the link and informative headline are very prominent on the Guardian’s main web page. In contrast, this info is hard to locate at the NYT.

            I recall first hearing about climatology issues in the late 1970s, and trust me — we are now so far beyond the very worst possible scenarios that people even discussed back then that it’s mind boggling.

            So those asshats who think they’re going to militarize the world…? Drones, planes, robots, and Blackwater aren’t going to keep anyone safe from poisons in the water, toxins in the soil, desertification across vast regions, and disrupted life cycles of birds, plants, and other biota that nurture soils and help the climate maintain stability.

            They’re feudal methods will not keep them safe from:
            — chemical pollutants
            — destabilized identities of huge numbers of tribal people packed into urban centers, who now seek social structure in political ideologies, because their tribal structures have been so severely disrupted
            – huge populations of ignorant people susceptible to rumor and superstitions
            – climate destabilization
            – bogus accounting structures
            – pricing structures that externalize the true costs of:
            ——(a) pollution and
            ——(b) maintaining healthy, socially stable social networks

            Their plans and actions are repeatedly self-defeating.

            Here’s my only rational basis for optimism: predators die out when their habitat is destroyed.
            These criminals – and that’s precisely what they are – thrive in environments that enable money laundering, outsourcing, bogus accounting structures, devalued labor, and pricing structures that externalize the costs of pollution.

            Therefore, any system designed to protect human health (and protect the environment that sustains our health) needs to address all those factors. But it will require international action and laws to enforce fundamental changes to the economic structures that these opportunistic predators have used with such effectiveness.

            The predators may yet overwhelm their prey. (And as one of the ‘prey’, I recognize the threat.)

            Predators will feast on prey until they destroy their own food supply, and then they they themselves die of famine. Or of habitat destruction. Because one of the grand ironies of environmental studies is that predators rely on prey to maintain habitat, and prey rely on predators for the same thing. It’s when one or the other gets out of whack that things rapidly spiral to mutual destruction.


            EW: Per your 16, I wonder whether there aren’t psychological factors connected with the development of photographic and digital technologies that we’re so close to in time that we don’t fully understand… and probably won’t for at least 100 years.

            It’s only in the past century that Walter Ong, Eric Havelock, Marshall McLuhan really delved into the psychological and social shifts that occurred with the rise of the alphabet and wider literacy. I think that Karl Rove mistakes the image for the reality, partly because he’s been rewarded for doing so, but also because he’s probably essentially a narcissist. Anyone who’s narcissistic is prone to being fooled by imaging technologies, rather than realizing they’re simply a very complex set of tools.

            … toddling off to get some work done…

      • WilliamOckham says:

        I tend to agree with your analysis, but that’s not the the CI folks at DOD view the world.

        In any event, I’ll spin one possible scenario. Maybe this really is Iran Contra II. That affair started out being billed as a weapons deal with influential opponents of Khomeini. Only later did it turn out that the Iranians were actually part of the Iranian military and the deal was straight up arms for hostages. The cover for the deal was blown first by an Iranian radical. In effect, the Iranian government punked us, with the help of the Israelis.

        If this current affair started as another Iranian intelligence operation in 2001, the original goal was to make sure that Iraq got blamed for 9/11 rather than Iran. Later it seems to have morphed into an operation to keep tabs on and neutralize the American crazies who wanted to go to war with Iran. Feed them what they want to hear and string them along with Ghorbanifar’s fantasies and you keep them from taking any real action.

        Think about the stuff that Franklin got busted for leaking to the Israelis. As useful as it might have been to them, it was far more interesting to the Iranians. Maybe Franklin was a witting stooge for the Israelis and an unwitting stooge for the Iranians.

        • JThomason says:

          This would, if I may say so, begin to give a hint of a scintilla of an explanation of why the CIA humored Cheney by passing on the Ghorbanifar WMD coordinates to Kay in the post-Plame environment.

        • Leen says:

          I have read this theory before and it makes sense. Yet Franklin is the only individuals who has been held accountable for the efforts that undermined U.S. National Security. The Msm the progressive blogosphere stills seems unwilling to touch the U.S. Vs. Rosen investigation and trial.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Note also that Ghorbanifar was in France. The French are said to have good intel, and they certainly did not join the alliance going into Iraq.

      The question still remains how on earth OVP-Cheney-neocons got away with it. These are people who’d had security clearances pulled back in the 1980s, if Wikipedia and other open sources are to be believed. And yet, they still pulled this off.
      And after that 2000 fraudulent Florida election, to boot.

  2. yonodeler says:

    Is there a handy explanation of the “‘6+2’process”?

    Vocal Republicans have made it sound like Obama would be breaking new ground by talking to Iran, as though the Bush administration had never done such a thing.

  3. Rayne says:

    I can’t help but wonder whether the Energy Task Force documents laid out the long term strategy, which we may see in action in regards to Iran. We are in desperate need of those Energy Task Force documents; I don’t think it’s empire that was sought as much as control of energy resources so that neither old threats (Russia) or new threats (China) could get their hands on them, while making those who controlled the resources wealthy beyond measure.

    Ledeen, being a “universal fascist”, may have no pony in this race except for his predilection for sowing chaos; he’s the ultimate Shock Doctrinaire.

    But I can see Cheney spinning away, getting to not only any control Iran may have over oil, but any natural gas under Iran’s control. Off in the background we have Newt Gingrich whining that Bush should blow up Iran’s natural gas infrastructure; is this the real game? As long as Iran has other sources of electricity production, a la nuclear power, it can commercialize its energy resources for currency. This would be a threat in the eyes of the Sunni House of Saud, as well as in the eyes of the Likudniks as a wealthy Iran can only mean bad things to them.

    What’s bizarre is that the sabre-rattling against Iran seems to run counter to the spin that emerged in April 2001; did the Iranians tell Cheney to piss up a rope in re: oil production and set him to warmongering against them, encouraging Cheney to sic his mad dog* Ledeen on them? Notice how we hear so very little about Libya, which has rolled over and played dead for Cheney…

    (*apologies to Mad Dog)

    • MarkH says:

      But I can see Cheney spinning away, getting to not only any control Iran may have over oil, but any natural gas under Iran’s control. Off in the background we have Newt Gingrich whining that Bush should blow up Iran’s natural gas infrastructure; is this the real game? As long as Iran has other sources of electricity production, a la nuclear power, it can commercialize its energy resources for currency. This would be a threat in the eyes of the Sunni House of Saud, as well as in the eyes of the Likudniks as a wealthy Iran can only mean bad things to them.

      First, I think the Bushies are running several parallel policies without committing to only one in particular until it suits them. One is to help Iran by getting rid of the evil Saddam and perhaps installing a Shia government in Iraq. Another is to help Israel by ridding them of Saddam AND Iran. Third is the Bush & Cheney energy policy to suppress energy development so as to keep prices (and profits) high.

      Who will Dubya backstab is the only question remaining?

  4. al75 says:

    This is a great post, EW – and you are describing what appear to be the outlines of a near-treasonous conspiracy to undermine and direct the foriegn policy of the US in the direction of a catastrophic war.

    • emptywheel says:

      Well don’t forget it has parallels over and over in this Administration. Remember that JOhn Bolton, Cheney’s guy at State, was makign statements that directly contravened the stated policy of the country on North Korea and Syria.

  5. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    EW, I found your old TNH site about two years ago, and in the time since I first landed on your writing, I have no recollection of being misty-eyed, with a lump in my throat at the end of a post. This felt a bit as if I were reading the epitaph of the US of A. A nation borne of ideas, destroyed by globalized mercenaries financed by money-laundered oil, drug, and corporate wealth.

    I’d not understood why Leverett’s info was such a threat; your pointing out that he documents American attempts by ‘the sane people’: Powell and his allies, explains why he’s perceived as such a threat by the neocon cabal.

    If anyone were to be able to ‘plot’ the activities of the Powell wing in trying to rebuild relations with Iran as a sine wave, and then ‘plot’ another wave of neocon activity, the two lines would repeatedly intersect precisely at the moments when the Forces of Sanity were about to make some headway toward negotiating on more solid ground. I’ve seen many, many ‘predator/prey’ plottings, and this sure looks like a classic. (Powell and his Forces of Sanity allies as the ‘prey’ and the OVP-Neocon contingent as the ‘predators’.) This is because the activities of the neocons sure look like a ‘response pattern’; predators are highly attuned to ‘prey’ behavior because it’s central to their survival. Looks like this is a social analogy to that pattern.

    I’d never realized the Iran/neocon activity nexus until your previous thread on the Ghorbanifar Timeline. Breathtaking. And again, Judith Miller’s role in moving the neocon plans forward by building public support to strengthen the ‘predator’ position. Which explains, in part, how they got away with it. I’m still appalled (and, unfortunately) somewhat baffled that they were able to get the US military (except for ‘Fox’ Fallon) to knuckle under. They also controlled FBI through DoJ, so they had all the pieces aligned — or cowed.

    Cold, clear logic. Brilliant insights about bureaucracies.
    The one thing they don’t seem to have is much insight about human nature, or am I missing that piece as well…?

  6. JThomason says:

    I continue to be about five yeas behind in fully understanding the actual details in the broad deployment of a-contextual Staussian idealism in the massively fraudulent justification of the “GWOT” (this being the propoganda campaign in the grand strategy to occupy Iraq and Iran). Economic interests certainly provides some insight into the motives of the neo-feudalists but the strain of sociopathology so strikingly exemplified by Feith is disturbing. Still with the hornet’s nest of investigations surrounding Cheney there may be those in government who hold to the more tempered contextual political realism of an Armitage, Powell or even Rice (compromised as such a realism might be at this time). One can only hope that the option of rapprochement has not already been sufficiently poisoned to foreclose further exploration of this possibility.

    While McClellan and Bush continue to blithely hide behind the facile defense of “politics” as media fraud (a light and tolerable fraud), McClellan’s work is nothing if not an attempt to distance W from the Staussian excesses of Cheney and Rove. If not for his Constitutional standing Cheney would be gone. Pappy B’s team has done a fair job of distancing Bush from these excesses, nevertheless the W camp zealously protects against a full inquiry of the shameful facts that led up to the fraudulent justification of the war and its ancillary crimes. I am not suggesting that Bush is innocent and will leave it at that for now.

    Joe Wilson’s stand then becomes increasingly significant having put into motion an adversarial process played out in the national context that has arguably checked Cheney & Co. from rolling out another charade with regard to Iran (thus far), but Lord knows they have tried. Wexlar argues that McClellan’s testimony opens the door for impeachment hearings against Cheney. Maybe I am naive in hoping that there are national institutional interests that are yet fully realized in this story. This is why I find the time line so fascinating, nihilism being really not such an attractive alternative. I am very interested to see where it leads. I should add that am not particularly satisfied with my conclusions (nor hopeful) and feel sad and defeated that the public has been so alienated from the first principles of law and history and that this result has been a conscious aim of the neo-conservative agenda. The state has indeed failed if the sole value left to conserve is the provocation of a desperate base mendacious rabble-rousing violence.

    • emptywheel says:

      In addition to calling Neocons Neofeudalists, I like to call them all Utilitarian postmodernists, for just that reason. I’ve got pretty damn good postmodernists cred (I joke that I’m Frederick Jameson’s intellectual granddaughter). But the lefty postmodernists never did what the righty ones did–accept that narratives can become reality and then exploit that understanding to accrue and maintain power.

      • Rayne says:

        Interesting. I would have labeled them late modernists, who substitute the centralization of government with the centralization of corporation. In Gravesian terms, they are still vacillating between a Red power god state and Orange materialistic state; the challenge to postmoderns who are too willing to embrace all without discretion, running the risk of regressing and becoming absolutists if they are overly discriminating.

      • KenMuldrew says:

        EW wrote: “…accept that narratives can become reality and then exploit that understanding to accrue and maintain power.”

        A beautiful definition of post-realism.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Put into your thoughtful mix, as well, the fact that once ‘news’ of political activity became:
      (1) really too complex for any but specialists to understand
      (2) presented as ‘entertainment’
      many ordinary, well-meaning, overly-busy people began to think of themselves as ‘an audience’ whose only obligation was to ‘approve or disapprove’ (as if your sole civic obligation was to take a poll, rather than assist at a service group project for your local parks).

      Also, in a mass society of people scrambling to pay bills, people lost the arts of self-governance. How many people do you actually know who have a clue about how to make a motion, table a motion, or argue for a civil proposal? Probably not many. Yet those are the tasks involved in governing.

      Agree with you that the outcomes may yet be extremely grim.
      But I remind myself that even grass grows up through concrete.

  7. yonodeler says:

    Footnote 21 of the linked PDF Leverett report, in regard to “the United Nations’ ‘6+2’ framework for Afghanistan”:

    The “6+2” arrangement included Afghanistan’s six neighbors—Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China—plus the United States and Russia.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The asymetrical warfare in play here is not a Gimo detainee attempting suicide after years of torture and solitary confinement, in most cases having committed no criminal offense. It is not insurgents engaged in classic gueurilla warfare against a larger, more heavily armed foreign occupying army.

    The asymetrical warfare is that of an Afghan warlord indirectly attacking the Iranian government that keeps him in Iran and away from the men and territory that gives him power and influence. It is Dick Cheney using his Senate colleagues to pressure his administration’s own intelligence agencies to accept Cheney’s incorrect or fraudulent intelligence over its own assessments – as the basis of policy for dealing with the most powerful and third-ranking oil producing country in the Middle East.

    Perhaps we need symbols with which to remember Mr. Cheney’s regime. Instead of olive drab “Nehru” coats, buttoned to the neck and small caps with visors and red stars, we need orange jumpsuits and wristwatch bands that resemble handcuffs. Instead of a little red book, we need a little black book filled with his quotes. Party members can carry it with them to rallies and meetings and to show their room monitors at night, to reassure a watchful Uncle that we are indeed good citizens, ever vigilant against homegrown dissent, disruption and disagreement.

    By all means, let our Senate agree that the President needs more power to watch us and to keep us safe, and agree that anyone who does whatever the President asks should receive the keys to a thankful and safer kingdom.

  9. JThomason says:

    I know there is really no justification for calling Rove a “Straussian” but it is intriguing to me that his psychological valence was so readily harmonized to these methods.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Juan Cole reprints an excerpt from Rick Shenkman’s new book: Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter (Basic Books, 2008), which helps explain why it was so easy for Dick to bamboozle George and for them both to bamboozle us:

    The extent of Americans’ ignorance is underestimated. Only two in five know we have three branches of government and can name them. Only one in five know there are 100 US senators. And five years into the war in Iraq only one in seven can find Iraq on a map. Someone once said–the author is in dispute–that war is God’s way of teaching Americans geography. It’s a great line, but rather optimistic. A majority of Americans still haven’t bothered to take a look at the map of the country where we have been bombing and killing people since 1991.

    The statistics alone are frightening and ought to make us doubt the “success” of Bush’s No Child Left Behind policies. Sadly, they also mirror Jay Lenno’s “Man on the Street” interviews, in which interviewees have trouble remembering their own name, let alone geographic or political facts. Imagine their context in framing political debate in or out of an election year. So gear up, and keep your exhortations to your friends and CongressCritters short.

  11. klynn says:

    A Juan Cole from the past with lots of information on the players here……..5516786360

    Enjoying this timeline connection of facts, EW.


    I have been against NCLB Act from the start. When passing is 40%, clearly, you have a dumbing down of the US.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Apologies to dday – and the source for the original quote – for lifing this post whole, but it captures both the late Mr. Carlin and a source for rational energy we will need for this election season.

    The postscript, of course, is Mr. Carlin’s famous seven deadly words that the major networks refused to air. They did give us, however, nightly coverage from Vietnam of maimed and burned bodies, and a legacy of every more revealing T&A, horrid gunshot wounds and, now, full frontal autopsies masquerading as crime dramas. Via dday:

    “Religion convinced the world that there’s an invisible man in the sky who watches everything you do. And there’s 10 things he doesn’t want you to do or else you’ll to to a burning place with a lake of fire until the end of eternity. But he loves you! …And he needs money! He’s all powerful, but he can’t handle money! […] I’ve begun worshipping the sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the sun. It’s there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, a lovely day. There’s no mystery, no one asks for money, I don’t have to dress up, and there’s no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to God are all answered at about the same 50-percent rate. […] Religion is sort of like a lift in your shoes. If it makes you feel better, fine. Just don’t ask me to wear your shoes. And let’s not nail the lift to the natives’ feet.”

    George Carlin, dead at the age of 71.

    P.S. shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits.

  13. Rayne says:

    Yes, NCLB is the next phase in the dumbing down; our children are now taught to the test, with uniformity of education the goal of the system rather than children who are learning critical thinking to the limits of their own capacity. My kids will have lost 1 year of education at the end of their public school career due to mandatory testing, between the actual prep work for the test and the test itself — as if they needed less education.

    Compound this shortage with cultural degradation, described by rotl at (18):

    Also, in a mass society of people scrambling to pay bills, people lost the arts of self-governance. How many people do you actually know who have a clue about how to make a motion, table a motion, or argue for a civil proposal? Probably not many. Yet those are the tasks involved in governing.

    The citizenry substitute choice of purchases and their participate by cellphone in American Idol votes as democracy. Even their choices are degraded: meat is something that comes wrapped in plastic in the grocery store, vegetables something piled up in mounds in the produce aisle, all death and all sweat removed.

    They’d line up for Soylent Green all too willingly now, if they thought it was cool. For all they know, they already do.

  14. klynn says:

    Didn’t Rozen’s interview with Ghobanifar state something about over 50 meetings in total? I may be remembering poorly…

    Ah, found it here:

    3) Ghorbanifar told me he has had fifty meetings with Michael Ledeen since September 11th, and that he has given Ledeen “4,000 to 5,000 pages of sensitive documents” concerning Iran, Iraq and the Middle East, “material no one else has received.” Ghorbanifar, speaking with me by telephone from France, says those meetings took place abroad because he has been refused a US visa the last two times he has applied.

    For someone who had a CIA “burn notice,” boy, he was given LOTS of latitude by these players.


    Can we charge anyone with negligence/treason here? I mean they were taking direction and sourcing from someone our own intel had a burn notice on!


    • Leen says:

      Wondering when those Niger Documents showed up? Which meeting?

      Will our Reps allow the findings in Phase II of the SSCI collect dust? You know the findings that Jason Vest and others tried to alert the world to before the invasion?

  15. brendanx says:

    “Cocktail napkin” — reminds me of Rosen’s boasts about getting the signatures of seventy senators on one.

  16. brendanx says:


    A propos U.S.-Iranian cooperation, there was also initial cooperation in neutralizing (and even bombing?) MEK, of whom Patrick Clawson once said, “They don’t do terrorism. They just do attacks inside Iran.” Neocons complained about this, and presumably reversed our initial policy a long time ago.

  17. klynn says:

    Have to share the response of 15-year-old, son of Klynn to your two postings EW…



    “We had a clandestine war going on in the US before 9-11. It just ramped up after 9-11. Did all the war powers granted by Congress to Bush after 9-11 just aid the movements on our own soil, weakening our security?”

    “Cells of epic proportion, operating outside the balance of powers.”

    “In a word, treason.”

    “Arrest em. Quickly.”

    “Immunity is for more than just the telecoms…”

    He’s a neat young adult to chat with…

  18. brendanx says:

    Not really off topic, as he’s a friend of Mel Sembler: a New Yorker piece on Sheldon Adelson, familiar to us as an important Clinton “donor” and a funder of that pro-war ad campaign a few months ago.

        • brendanx says:

          Adelson’s not all bad. He has a sense of humor:

          Adelson has not been shy about his new wealth. According to a guest at a reception in Washington a few years ago, Adelson remarked to President Bush, “You know, I am the richest Jew in the world.” He also introduced himself that way to a former Israeli official recently. The investment banker Ken Moelis said that when he saw Adelson not long ago he was surprised to hear him refer to himself as “Sheldon Adelson III.” “I said, ‘I never realized your father was Sheldon Adelson II,’ ” Moelis recalled. “And he said, ‘He wasn’t! But I’m the third-richest American!’ ”

  19. Leen says:

    Still think it is very interesting that there is no longer any way to access the Project for A New American Century’s website. Even when you go to Wikipedia you can not access letters from the group to President clinton.

    Wonder why that website is not longer up?

    • MadDog says:

      Looks like Billy Kristol hasn’t been paying his bills at PNAC’s website:

      This Account Has Been Suspended
      Please contact the billing/support department as soon as possible.

      What is one to do? To answer that question, my handy-dandy SmartWhoIs app says:

      Domain ID:D49682011-LROR
      Created On:21-Dec-2000 19:28:41 UTC
      Last Updated On:26-Jul-2006 23:09:27 UTC
      Expiration Date:21-Dec-2009 19:28:41 UTC
      Sponsoring Inc. (R71-LROR)
      Registrant ID:C5950342-RCOM
      Registrant Name:William Kristol
      Registrant Organization:William Kristol
      Registrant Street1:1150 17th Street, N. W., Suite 505
      Registrant Street2:
      Registrant Street3:
      Registrant City:Washington
      Registrant State/Province:DC
      Registrant Postal Code:20036
      Registrant Country:US
      Registrant Phone:+1.2022934900
      Registrant Phone Ext.:
      Registrant FAX:+1.2024636652
      Registrant FAX Ext.:
      Registrant Email:[email protected]

      I’m sure Billy would be happy to take your call or respond to an email or two.

      Or you could email the site Admin/Tech Gary Schmitt at [email protected]

      Unless you wanted to call him directly at 202-293-4983

  20. rkilowatt says:

    Strictly on-topic, with your patience:

    These are core facts IMO of the Petrogame that drive events:

    Consider: A desert chieftan in the 1930’s discovers that his territory has endless gold [albeit black]laying in countless veins just 100 meters under the sand. Almost unbelievably easy to access it merely with big shovels. As such desirable treasure is impossible to exploit secretly, what would be the single, over-riding consideration dominating his thoughts…from the moment he verified the fact of that gold?

    Clearly his next-tentflap neighbors will be at once dazzled and obsessed with plans to make him the main course for their dinner .
    As the lucky chieftan, he has certainty that he must obtain an overwhelming military force to squash the appetite of neighbors, before their plans mature and overwhelm him. All his attention goes to securing both the new wealth and his ownership of it.

    Here lay apparent contradictions. Until late 1970’s, Saudi Arabia had no real military forces at all ! No Army…No Navy…No Air Force…Only police and internal security forces. That defies sensibility because the Chieftan in the late 1930s, and surely by 1941, had Standard Oil engineers verify the data demonstrating that huge pools of oil were in fact there. Knock a pipe into the sand, screw on a valve, make lots of new friends. Does not even need a pump.

    It is impossible that there was no huge, military force immediately established to protect those deposits. But there was none…or was there?

    There had to be, but it was hiddden. A powerful partner was there. There was a quid-pro-quo created where each partner held exquisitely equal leverage. If either party renegged, the other could cause disaster. The key to workability was the equal leverage which ensures durability of the arrangement.

    …Until late 1970’s, Saudi Arabia had no real military forces at all ! No Army…No Navy…No Air Force…Only police and internal security forces. That defies sensibility because the chieftan in the late 1930s, and surely by 1941, had Standard Oil engineers verify the data demonstrating that huge pools of oil were in fact there. Knock a pipe into the sand, screw on a valve, make lots of new friends. Does not even need a pump.

    It is impossible that there was no huge, military force immediately established to protect those deposits. But there was none…or was there?

    There had to be, but it was hiddden. A powerful partner was there. There was a quid-pro-quo created where each partner held exquisitely equal leverage. If either party renegged, the other could cause disaster. The key to workability was the equal leverage which ensures durability of the arrangement.

    The Oil Powers [dominated first by Standard and soon RoyalDutchShell and later BP ] were able to guarantee that the now [Saud]RoyalChieftanFamily stayed on the Royal Throne, in exchange [1] for the Chieftan depositing his oil revenue monie$ into the Oil Power’s banks; and equally strategically, [2] the Oil Powers led by Standard would retain overriding control of wholesale and retail distribution policy to extent of who would/would not receive the ultimate use of the petro products [oil and gas] and at what terms.

    What was the OilPowers’ guarantee? The US Military was [somehow under the control of The Standard] to be made available to guarantee continuity of the Royal Throne as long as the Throne deposits the bulk of their revenue$ in OilPowers, banks and does not withdraw said deposits; and obeys any production/distribution/marketing directions. Oil became denominated in US Dollars. As for the Throne’s leverage, just their mere hint that $ deposits would be withheld or withdrawn would undermine credibility of banking systems. As the magnitude of flowing oil rose, the partners next agreed the USDollar would be the exclusive trade-currency. Each party had equal and credible leverage to enforce its position.
    That is what happened in Saudi Arabia.

    “Oil Powers” identities change over time, but are essentially Anglo-American. “Oil Powers” are not companies; they are individuals with similar goals who use oil/gas as a tool to enable strategy. Their Petrogame depends on controlling distribution, NOT necessarily production of the crude; controlling distribution inherently includes some control of production, etc. Do not confuse with other “powers” in the oil industry [crude-oil holding nations, crude-field operators, refiners, rig owners, security companies, etc. These are players in the game, not the Petrogame creators/rule-makers/monitors, who are individuals]. Russia is not included due to their refusal to submit; all BigOil attempts to dominate Russian oil/gas have so far failed. Also, the French Total is an old and imortant Gulf player .

    Petro-oleum = Rock Oil. Until 1859, it was thought to exist only as slow seepage from inside rock, in non-commercial quantities. By 1859 petroleum was discovered to exist in underground pools. This was quickly recognized by some as the ultimate source of Heat/Light/Power [HLP], in terms of cost, quality and efficiency.

    Silliman at Yale University had done the first major chemical analysis of crude oil within months of its being found to exist in commercial quantities. Note the first use for petroleum, in commercial quantities, was lamp-oil for light [nearly white, non-smoking, portable and cheap] and the demand was worldwide, overwhelming even from Asia. Demand for light was later followed by demand as lubricant. Still later as fuel for steam production [e.g. ships]; later still as source fuel for combustion [gasoline] engines, space heating and electrical generation.

    Wherever oil was made available, it could easily dominate as the source of HLP demand. Thus he who controlled its distribution could control whoever needed it…or whatever nation needed it. You want Heat? You want Light? You want Power? Either be compliant or be coldly in darkness and powerless.

    A super tool to compel cooperation from any ruler. Or to find another who will cooperate. Control the ruler or create the new ruler, and let the ruler control the population. Best to select a Royal Family, as that means a predictable line of succession. The plan is old, but the plan has had many successes.

    Early on, Standard’s Rockefeller and Royal Dutch’ Deterding and the English Crown understood all of this. [England’s Shell and RoyalDutch merged about 1906.] *

    It is critical to include the fact that the OIL-game was merged with the BANKING-game. * *

    As with Saudi Arabia, the similar deals made with Kuwait and other ruling-family-type governments. He who partners with the family controls the oil/gas as long as that family stays on the throne.

    The deals all involve Standard [American] and Royal DutchShell/BP [Anglo] et al, who have similar, effective, covert control over their respective governments’ forces [military and/or other contributions to the required force] to guarantee longevity of the ruler’s status and similar production/distribution/marketing rights from the ruler.

    So explains the saga of Iran’s Shah. Democraticly booted out in early 1950’s, quickly reinstalled by Anglo-American force, then booted again 25 years later. No more Royal Line = end of deal = OilPowers attempt in ANY WAY to stop/ruin any oil production/marketing they cannot control. “Rule or ruin” is the working policy.

    So explains the saga of Saddam. Non-cooperating [e.g. not denominating exclusively in USD] and no Royal Line.

    So explains the saga of Kuwait when Saddam briefly took over. Who reacted very forcefully to put the Sabah family back on the Royal Throne? You can bet the Saud family was watching nervously to see if, in fact, Standard et al would make good the guarantee; after all, the Saud clan held the same guarantee with the same partner. The Saud clan breathed easy when Kuwait’s Sabah family was returned to their throne [followed by abrupt end of military operation].

    So explains some of the Czar’s troubles. The Czar would not relinquish control of Russian oil [e.g. Baku] which really crimped Rockefeller’s [Standard] and Deterding’s [Royal Dutch/EnglishShell] world-monopoly dream, and not-so-oddly, WW I did not end in Russia until 1922/1923; then government that followed the Czar was not ruling-family type, thus no predictable line of succession. Since the 1917 Revolution until now, 90 years later, that government has been intent on not allowing its gigantic petroleum resources to fall under control of BigOil…and has withstood relentless attack.

    WW 1 ? Have a look at the territory of the Ottoman Empire at that time. Then, locate the known oil resources within that perimeter, factor in England’s Lawrence of Arabia and promise of self-government to their Arabian allies for expelling the Ottoman rulers. Then watch what happened when the the Ottoman armies were expelled.

    WW 2 ? Surely Krupp, I. G. Farben et al in oil-less Germany knew well the prize of Baku/Caspian. There’s an old bio of Deterding who, in 1920’s, was quoted in English newsmedia, claiming that the resources of Russia would be the “greatest commercial prize in history”, and that “Baku is the finger that points East” as he promoted another war. But the world depression from 1930 delayed the acquisitive Deterding’s-and-others’ plan to jointly invade Russia. [Deterding included German industrialists/generals el al in his dream to grab Russian resources. Later, Hitler tried to capitalize on that dream.]

    So explains the saga of Vietnam. Offshore, oil/gas deposits were surmised because the geography fit the oil industry’s working model of Continental Shelf theory*** [just GOOGLE “vietnam + oil” to see who/what is happening post-1975] but, after the French left, there was no possibility to control a petroleum industry. And certainly no ruling family after failed attempt to create a Diem clan. The thought of oil being independently developed and marketed was indeed a threat.

    So explains the saga of all non-ruling-family-type governments’ attempts to develop and market their oil, independently of the OilPowers. In the case of Mexico, albeit without a ruling-famly, Marines were sent into Veracruz and the oligarchs coalesced to rule extended-family-style since then; and being right on US border facilitates control. Those oligarchs who did not agree were visited by unlucky events.

    So explains the saga everywhere a ruling-family has oil that can be produced and potentially marketed.

    So explains a lot of other observations from circa 1880 to present time.

    So explains why the Petrogame of “I hold you by your heat/light/power arteries” is getting interestinger and interestinger. And wilder.

    So explains the addiction. Oil addiction was created by low-cost, high quality, efficient and readily available fuel supply. The addiction was/is maintained by intense suppression of alternative HLP sources [e.g. by legislation; denial of funding; misdirecting R&D], along with theOilPowers closely monitoring all aspects of their game.

    The Petrogame is the means to World Domination by a small group who coincidently share similar goals.

    Only petroleum [as oil and gas] can be harnessed in a way that precludes unwanted-others from joining the group.

    No other HLP resource can be globally monopolized; or exists in sufficient quantity. The others are merely technology based, and technology cannot be monopolized. [E.g.– a nuclear club to monopolize enrichment/extraction is a work-in-progress, but has only short-term and spotty workability that can be bypassed. Also there are local monopolies, such as control of hydro-power, that are not scaleable to global scope. As for coal, technology has not resolved enormous pollution aspects, and coal has potential only to crimp or tweak the petrogame.]****

    The above is a minimal framework to make sense of many events, especially since late 1800’s, that otherwise seem crazy-quilt.

    Richard Cheney***** of Halliburton, in 1999 speech, clearly was aware of the Peak Oil syndrome and was actively planning a response.

    * In late 1500’s, the English Crown realized its very survival was as seafaring-traders/sea-controllers and began (1) building a global navy and (2)collecting data, in earnest, of all known, global resources, first compiled by England’s Hakluyt team. [Just 1 example so the reader gets the urgency: On 2,500 mile voyages across open ocean, lack of potable water caused entire crews to die and their ships become derelict. Thus sources of potable water in mid-ocean and the route for longboats to get safely ashore on the “unknown” islands, became vital secrets to be learned.] That viewpoint and project primed many subsequent adventures from gold-buccaneering, fleet-building and wiping-out the Spanish Armada on up to The East India Company and into more modern, more covert tactics. Long-range planning always evolving by trial and error and very covert. The small island-nation of England learned well its limitations as its Empire collapsed. Surely by the 20th Century, survival depended on correctly analysing its failure to control that Empire. The island-nation needed a giant proxy-nation to front for its Empire rebuild. Whoever might it be?

    ** By 1890, it was apparent that BigOil, primarily Standard’s combine, had the cash volumes and cash flows to actually rival and threaten the banking game. In late 1890s, Rockefeller and JP Morgan teamed to buy Carnegie’s steel behemoth and form the US Steel combine. The cash price was about $490 Million, in 1890-era dollars ! The peculiar nature of the petrogame’s grip on HLP offerred real assets versus the paper of banking, breaking the banker’s peculiar clout that depended on being allowed to monopolize paper money. Further, while paper money dealt with sovereign currencies on a nation-by-nation basis, oil was a global tool.

    ***Continental Shelf theory is able to predict fairly well the liklihood of finding commercial deposits of petroleum [liquids or gas], even at what likely depths, in coastal regions. That theory is apparently closely held and rarely mentioned with any detail. Consequently,and globally, all coastal regions have been surveyed for potential. E.g.- The Caribbean region, of course, would be of interest and petroleum might account for the strange international politics there, as well West Africa.

    ****Why oil ? Some notes:

    coal vs. oil = solid vs. liquid/gas = slow vs.EXPLOSIVE burn [flame propagation]

    It all comes down to rate of energy-release; or rate of reaction

    Petroleum gives EXPLOSIVE release, but Coal NEEDS A BOILER to accumulate explosive discharge.

    POWER as coal vs. oil;

    Coal works slowly, but via a steam intermediate [boiler] will yield EXPLOSIVE expansion..led to POWER production via steam-ENGINE development [Industrial Age]

    Petroleum works DIRECTLY [no intermediate boiler] via atomization to yield EXPLOSIVE expansion = Internal Combustion ENGINE = unique RATE of WORK produced relative to any other commodity fuel, and as liquid it is a uniquely PORTABLE fuel. [ And it can be uniquely monopolized, too]

    Cars, trucks and planes cannot work on coal/wood without [steam] intermediate to produce explosive energy release, [ and so are impractical without liquid oil]. A boiler is required to achieve the explosive rate of energy release. Even NUCLEAR requires a boiler [steam generator] to create the EXPLOSIVE expansion needed to to do work [No practical ENGINES have been developed to work on solely on heat, but there are possibilities such as thermo-electric, ion-electric, photo-electric, etc.]

    *****Richard Cheney 1999 speech [Published on 8 Jun 2004 by London Institute of Petroleum. Archived on 8 Jun 2004]
    [Full text at ]
    Direct quotes:
    –”Oil is unique in that it is so strategic in nature.”
    –”Energy is truly fundamental to the world’s economy.”
    –”The degree of government involvement also makes oil a unique commodity.”
    –”Oil remains fundamentally a government business”.
    –”It is the basic, fundamental building block of the world’s economy.”
    –”It is unlike any other commodity.’
    –”The Middle East with two-thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies.”
    –”The Middle East and Africa have over one hundred year’s supply of gas reserves at current low usage levels and the former Soviet Union and Latin America have gas reserve-to-production ratios which should last over seventy years.”

  21. BillE says:

    EW – Does any of this Iran/Leeden stuff have anything to do with Wolfowitz’s girlfriend / spy ?

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