Does Jerry Doe Know Anything about Merlin?

In this post, I described that Jerry Doe, a former CIA operative who claims he was fired from the CIA in retaliation for reporting intelligence the CIA didn’t like, now claims that some of that intelligence pertains to Iran. The timing of the allegations of his complaint that may pertain to Iran–2000, not (as the NIE cites) 2003–got me thinking about James Risen.

You see, we know of another operation from 2000 involving Iran that the CIA is still touchy about–the Merlin operation that Risen describes in his book, State of War.

In case you’ve forgotten, in February 2000, the CIA had a Russian nuclear scientist pass blueprints for a nuclear weapon to Iran. The blueprints were erroneous in key ways, so they wouldn’t lead to a nuclear weapon–at least, they wouldn’t have if the Russian hadn’t alerted the Iranians to the faults in the blueprints, which he did. But the CIA was willing to pursue such a crazy plan, Risen reported, because they hoped Iran would follow the blueprints and spend years pursuing a faulty warhead.

Here’s Risen’s description about why CPD tried something as crazy as Merlin.

The Counterproliferation Division within the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, the agency’s clandestine espionage arm, came up with MERLIN and other clandestine operations as creative, if unorthodox, ways to try to penetrate Tehran’s nuclear development program. In some cases, the CIA had worked jointly with Israeli intelligence on such operations, according to people familiar with the covert program.

Now, if his complaint and Warrick’s report on it is true, Jerry Doe was busy penetrating Tehran’s nuclear development program in 2000, at precisely the same time when–purportedly out of frustration with their inability to penetrate Tehran’s nuclear development program using traditional means–the CIA dumped nuclear blueprints into the Iranians’ laps. Though, as Risen notes, the CIA was careful to hide the fact that it was the source of the blueprints.

What better way for the CIA to hide its involvement in this operation than to have a veteran of Arzamas [Russia’s equivalent of Los Alamos] personally hand over the Russian nuclear designs?

Now look at the passage from Doe’s complaint that appears to pertain to Iranian nukes:

Plaintiff was first subjected to a demand that he alter his intelligence reporting in 2000, [2 lines redacted]. Plaintiff reported this information via formal CIA cable channels. Plaintiff was subsequently advised by CIA management that his report did not support the earlier assessment [one line redacted] and instructed that if he did not alter his report to support this assessment it would not be received well by the intelligence community. Plaintiff was aware that earlier reporting underlying the assessment was less-than-genuine and refused to alter his report. As the result, CIA/DO/CPD refused to disseminate his report to the intelligence community despite Plaintiff’s efforts.

If this does pertain to Iran, then the event that precipitated Doe’s troubles with the CIA was his report, in 2000, that Iran wasn’t pursuing a nuclear program, at precisely the same time as the CIA was having a Russian plant nuclear blueprints with Iran. Further, Doe also alleged that the Intelligence Community assessment that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons was based on something "less-than-genuine." And Doe, of course, worked in the same corner of the CIA that hatched Merlin.

Now, there are several other reasons why it’s possible that Doe has a connection to Merlin. James Risen was, as far as I’m aware, the first person to provide details about Doe’s case.

The Central Intelligence Agency was told by an informant in the spring of 2001 that Iraq had abandoned a major element of its nuclear weapons program, but the agency did not share the information with other agencies or with senior policy makers, a former C.I.A. officer has charged.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court here in December, the former C.I.A. officer, whose name remains secret, said that the informant told him that Iraq’s uranium enrichment program had ended years earlier and that centrifuge components from the scuttled program were available for examination and even purchase.

Risen wrote that story in August 1, 2005, long after Doe’s initial complaint in December 2004. His article appears to have been timed to two other events–rising interest in the CIA leak case, which gave Doe’s lawyers the opportunity to draw parallels between Plame’s plight and Doe’s. And Doe’s first motion to have his complaint declassified, which had been submitted just a few weeks earlier (which makes Risen’s 2005 story similar to Warrick’s story from today). In that July 2005 filing, Doe lawyer Roy Krieger seems to have argued that the reports on crappy Iraqi WMD intelligence made the redactions in the complaint moot, which is presumably why Risen focuses more closely on the Iraqi intelligence that Doe submitted as distinct from Warrick’s focus on Iran today. But to make the connection–to allege that the CIA was hiding the fact that it had fired an officer who had proved Iraq didn’t have nukes–Risen had to include far more detail than what appeared in Doe’s complaint. Unlike Warrick (who based his Iran news today on a statement from Krieger), Risen fleshed out the story using anonymous sources.

While the existence of the lawsuit has previously been reported, details of the case have not been made public because the documents in his suit have been heavily censored by the government and the substance of the claims are classified. The officer’s name remains secret, in part because disclosing it might jeopardize the agency’s sources or operations.

Several people with detailed knowledge of the case provided information to The New York Times about his allegations, but insisted on anonymity because the matter is classified.

So in August 2005, James Risen interviewed sources close to Doe who reported that the CIA had fired Doe because he refuted their crappy Iraq intelligence. According to Eric Lichtblau’s own book, those interviews occurred during the period when Risen was working on State of War (Risen and Lichtblau had a conversation about including the warrantless wiretapping program in the book in spring 2005; Risen warned NYT he was going to put the story in his book in fall 2005). And the Doe story was one of only six stories Risen wrote in all of 2005 that didn’t pertain to the warrantless wiretapping program. Risen has never returned to the story of Jerry Doe–not to report on the CIA’s demand that he not show up at his own hearings, and not to report on this filing.

By now you’ve probably guessed where I’m heading. That is, to remind you that in January, Risen got subpoenaed for the source behind one of the stories he tells in this chapter of his book. And the Merlin story is the most likely culprit.

The chapter in question has details about the US decision to support Iran’s MEK even though it’s a terrorist organization, Iranian attempts to help us on the GWOT (the same stuff that Flynt Leverett got censored on), and a description of a female officer inadvertently revealing all of CIA’s agents in Iraq. While any of these might be the sensitive information in question, and the exposure of CIA’s Iranian agents involved a double agent, by far the most likely item of interest is MERLIN, the operation in which the CIA used a Russian defector to provide Iran with nuclear blueprints.

This speculation seems to be confirmed by this April story on the search for Risen’s sources.

Former government officials have recently been called before a federal grand jury and confronted with phone records documenting calls with a reporter who covers intelligence issues at The New York Times, according to people with detailed knowledge of the investigation.


In January, Mr. Risen received a subpoena that, his lawyers said, appeared intended to force him to reveal his sources for a specific chapter in “State of War” that described efforts by the C.I.A. to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program.

Of all the things Risen revealed in his book, the government is coming after him for his sources on Iran’s nuclear program, not on the super-secret warrantless wiretap program. If you look at his NYT reporting, he appears to have done no reporting on Iran’s nuclear program. Except, that is, until you learn that Jerry Doe claims to have infiltrated Iran’s nuclear program.

  1. perris says:

    In this post, I described that Jerry Doe, a former CIA operative who claims he was fired from the CIA in retaliation for reporting intelligence the CIA didn’t like

    I don’t think that’s quite right, I think the only people that didn’t want’t the truth were the cia “team b”, NOT the cia but cheneys team of forgerers

    if we remember, the real cia were the ones responsible for joe wilson’s trip that DIScredited information about these weapons

    so I think we do the real cia and those professionals some diservice by saying “the cia didn’t want these facts”, it was “team b” that didn’t want the facts not the cia

    two differant organizations, though cheney managed to group the two as if they are one

    • Leen says:

      “team b” stovepiping false intelligence into the WH.
      “Team B” selling a war based on a “pack of lies”
      “Team B” pushing this nation closer to a military confrontation with Iran.

      • perris says:

        and we know who these criminals are, and they have visited us with war, death, destruction, the promise of more death, more destruction

        and we stand by and let them

        • Leen says:

          Many at this site are not “standing” and “letting” them.

          Many are doing everything possible to get in their way.

  2. wrensis says:

    Is this an example of the same ole give them the capability of building Nuclear weapons and then attack them because they do, and get rid of anyone who has the information on how this was accomplished? How many instances of this double dealing have led to Iraq (both wars), Afghanistan and Iran? Please explain if I am confused. (it happens *smile*

    • perris says:

      and all of this boils down to the same war monguer/profiteers from the nixon administration, namely and foremost, rumsfeld and cheney

      • wrensis says:

        Who were intent on restoring Presidential powers and eliminating any dissent from equal branches of government until they had complete control of them.

        • perris says:

          there is no “restoration” of presidential powers, the president never had these powers they only assumed powers which we either allowed or disallowed

          all presidential power eminates from congress, he is powerless unless they award the power or turn a blind eye to it

        • wrensis says:

          I am speaking of abuse of the War Powers Resolution and And Bush’s great love of signing statments and Executive orders.

          “Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush routinely evaded or ignored provisions of the WPR, arguing that it was an unconstitutional infringement on their powers as commander in chief. President Gerald Ford evacuated Americans and Europeans from South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in 1975, when communist forces seized power in those nations, without invoking the consultation clause of the WPR. He also attempted a rescue of the crew of the merchant ship Mayaguez after it was seized by Cambodian communists in 1975, without invoking the resolution. In 1980 President Carter ignored the consultation clauses of the WPR when he ordered military forces to try to rescue diplomatic hostages held by Iran for more than a year. In 1982 President Ronald Reagan sent marines into Lebanon, where they remained for months exposed to hostile fire, without invoking the 60-day “clock.” When he bombed Libya in 1986, he offered members of Congress a briefing while the planes were in midair, rather than consulting with them about whether the bombing should occur.

          In 1989, without consulting Congress, President Bush sent forces into Panama to capture General Manuel Noriega and bring him back to the United States to face drug trafficking charges. (Bush did, however, comply with other provisions of the law.) Bush was authorized by Congress to use military force against Saddam Hussein of Iraq, but Congress did not use the provisions of the WPR.

          Presidents do not use the WPR if their use of the armed forces involves peacekeeping or antiterrorist actions or for humanitarian assistance, such as the 1992–93 operation in Somalia and the 1993 airdrops of food in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or if covert operations are involved. Presidents never trigger the 60-day clock that starts when they use the armed forces. If Congress wishes to set a time limit, it must do so itself by passing a joint resolution. But that resolution itself is subject to a Presidential veto, which then must be overridden by a two-thirds vote of each house to go into effect. In practice, a President who fails to obey the terms of the WPR can continue using the armed forces until two-thirds of each chamber of Congress decides to force him to withdraw, a most unlikely situation.”

  3. brendanx says:

    Plaintiff was aware that earlier reporting underlying the assessment was less-than-genuine and refused to alter his report.

    If this does pertain to Iran, then the event that precipitated Doe’s troubles with the CIA was his report, in 2000, that Iran wasn’t pursuing a nuclear program, at precisely the same time as the CIA was having a Russian plant nuclear blueprints with Iran.

    Could you spell this out for me, real slow? Are you suggesting that MERLIN, ostensibly conceived as a plot to take the Iranians down a dead end, served a dual purpose (or a modified purpose) of providing a justification for the claim that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons?

  4. SaltinWound says:

    So Merlin was before Bush, but Tenet was there, right? I’ve always wondered what Cheney (and Rice) had on Tenet. I’ve especially wondered why he went along with the fraudulent mea culpa. Maybe this is part of it.

    • perris says:

      the same team b, initiated by the same sociopaths, the same war monguers, the same people that made up their lies to put the damper in nixon’s detante treaty, did the very same thing to start war in Iraq

      and now again in Iran

  5. Bushie says:

    Curiouser and curiouser. The whole Merlin scenario seems as though Valerie Plame would be neck deep in: her geographic area and area of expertise. Isn’t CPD the same division she hailed from? Anyway the Administration got a twofer by firing “Doe” and later outing Plame: how much experience in covert ops went out the door over Iraq and Iran in the last few years?

  6. Professor Foland says:

    Was Plame part of Merlin?

    COURIC: When senior administration officials leaked her name to reporters, they may have exposed other spies and damaged operations targeting Iran. CBS News has learned that she was involved in one highly classified mission to deliver fake nuclear weapons blueprints to Tehran. It was called Operation Merlin, and it was first revealed in a book by investigative reporter James Risen.

    COURIC: Are you familiar with that?

    PLAME: I don’t think I can tell you.

    COURIC: He said the idea was to give the Iranians blueprints for the bomb that were seriously flawed to set them back. Does that sound like something the counter-proliferation division would do?

    PLAME: I think I can say it sounds like a good idea.

    COURIC: Were you surprised to read about Operation Merlin in the press?

    PLAME: Indeed.

    • perris says:

      and there was even more damage then this done by cheney and bush, far more

      the cover of every single operative who used the cover “brewster jennings and associates” was laid to waste, any investment in this cover, gone, all operatives, their family, their friends, lives in mortal danger

      and here we are, these maggots, these criminals, these murderers

      they are STILL running this country!

      what the FRIG is wrong with us?

      • wavpeac says:

        You know sending them all into survival mode would have prevented them from getting together. It put them all in survival mode where speaking out would have become dangerous for so many different reasons. It was the perfect way to silence not just Valerie but all of them.

    • Bushie says:

      Could we get Doe and Plame to co-author a book and/or start a national tour: “How to irrevocably damage the Country and national intelligence agencies in easily understood steps for fun, power and profit.”

  7. klynn says:

    Again, your Ghorbanifar Timeline assessment just keeps on growing on the side… Cannot wait to read how you tie all the posts the last few days to the timeline.

    What weeds…


    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Again, your Ghorbanifar Timeline assessment just keeps on growing on the side… Cannot wait to read how you tie all the posts the last few days to the timeline.

      Yeowsa, what an understatement.
      I made some guesses on the previous thread, and I dread to think how far off base some of them will turn out to be.

      But this is a galactic-sized thread.

  8. wavpeac says:

    Well, well, well. There it is. Wow. There it is…that nagging feeling that Valerie was outed for more than just her husband’s part in discrediting the bush policy. Also, it would seem that outing her had to put at least some people in serious danger.

    Amazing. So Plame would have been for the idea of selling “bad” intel to Iran in the hope of setting them back. But NOT in the hope of launching a war based on the idea that they had nuclear capabilities that did not yet possess. It’s amazing how that knife cuts both ways, and how easily it could be manipulated. I can just imagine the panic that Valerie and her husband and others in the cia might have felt when they began to realize what was about to go down. What else do you call it beside evil? Greed? Morally bankrupt…eek as they front that “pro life” stance with lots of drama for all to see. Ugh…I just want to throw up.

    Wow. E.W you, Bmaz and everyone who helps out here are doing the work of democracy. I wish I had something more to add than phone calls, and linking these stories and lots of “diggs”. Brava!!

    As I read the post here, especially here, I worry that this gives the neo cons a BIG FAT reason to take down the internet(s) : ) Here, is an endless source of documentation about their abuses. Another book??

    • MarieRoget says:

      Wow. E.W you, Bmaz and everyone who helps out here are doing the work of democracy. I wish I had something more to add than phone calls, and linking these stories and lots of “diggs”. Brava!!

      You are adding a lot by simply being here, wavpeac, as is everyone who posts & comments here. Ever pull up the site meter to see how many visit FDL, & specifically EW? How many & from where & how frequently…

      OT of sorts- we Dems must come together & support Wes Clark’s truth telling in regard to McCain. The Repub PTB are starting their campaign to discredit all voices from the military, officers, retirees, active duty etc. etc. who have the goods on St. John’s “leadership” experience, starting from the most powerful who can be seen on tv & going on to as far as they can reach. All must be discredited in the effort to shove McCain into the WH. They see their opening now w/ the MSM pile on vis-a-vis Clark. From TPM:

      McCain Campaign Accuses Obama Camp Of Coordinating With Webb To Attack McCain

      • wavpeac says:

        I absolutely loved Clarks response. It seems so obviously logical that being captured in a war is not quite the same experience as holding a leadership position. And while the experience certainly gives Mcsame some sort of expertise in life it does not necessarily translate to “leadership”.

        I love the fact that Obama has caught on to the neo con technique of letting his minions do the criticizing while keeping a healthy distance. It’s Clark taking the hits more so than Obama AND I believe that Clark reeks of that kind of authority that only comes from truth.

        I’ll go to the link and check it out.

        Incidentally…Omaha had another hell of a storm and I have not had to work for two days straight due to a lack of power at my place of bidnez.

        It’s been heavenly. But the storm was like nothing I had ever seen before in my life.

        • MarieRoget says:

          Gen. Clark can handle himself on this, definitely, but he could use someone to cover his back. A lot of someones.

          McCain obviously suffered much physically & mentally for his country. This does not translate to leadership experience but perhaps to the opposite, nor does it equate to anything I want in the WH- a man broken apart physically, mentally, w/a hellava temper? No, thanks.

          Sorry about the storm from hell up there, though it’s nice to catch a break from work, in’it? Here in So Cal the extreme heat is back, even @ near the shoreline. Ugh.

        • bmaz says:

          You all need to be on EW’s new thread, it is right on point for talking about the worst pilot in the Navy.

  9. wavpeac says:

    Will we ever learn? Will we ever have enough skepticism to put our constitution BEFORE personalities, the way our forefathers saw was necessary?

    If we had simply forced this administration to defend their behavior by applying the laws already in place, we might have avoided it all. But Clinton’s bogus impeachment helped to create a perfect storm that left our congress absolutely unable and unwilling to do the dirty work of democracy.

  10. wavpeac says:

    Hey, tried to “digg” the story. This is what I got:

    An unknown fatal exception has occurred
    Whoa! Something blew up. If you think you reached this error in error please do not hesitate to contact support.

  11. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Well… (sigh) I took so long writing a comment on previous thread that I missed this entirely.
    Will catch up later today.
    Much later…