The NeoCons’ Long Animosity towards Mohamed el Baradei

As Siun noted yesterday, Mohamed el Baradei issued a statement critical of US support for Hosni Mubarak in advance of returning to Egypt (and, as of now, being put under house arrest).

Of course, you in the West have been sold the idea that the only options in the Arab world are between authoritarian regimes and Islamic jihadists. That’s obviously bogus. If we are talking about Egypt, there is a whole rainbow variety of people who are secular, liberal, market-oriented, and if you give them a chance they will organize themselves to elect a government that is modern and moderate. They want desperately to catch up with the rest of the world.

It’s not at all clear that Baradei will serve as the kind of leader in Egypt that he seems to want to. But given that Baradei is one of the few opposition leaders the US press seems to understand, I think it worthwhile to review the Neocons long-standing attacks on him.

Though the US first supported Baradei’s election to head the IAEA, US support for him soured when, in 2003, he called bullshit on the US propaganda meant to justify our invasion of Iraq, most notably when he declared the Niger case to have been based on amateurishly forged documents.

Based on available evidence, the IAEA team has concluded that Iraq’s efforts to import these aluminium tubes were not likely to have been related to the manufacture of centrifuges and, moreover, that it was highly unlikely that Iraq could have achieved the considerable re-design needed to use them in a revived centrifuge programme.


The IAEA has made progress in its investigation into reports that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger in recent years. The investigation was centred on documents provided by a number of States that pointed to an agreement between Niger and Iraq for the sale of uranium between 1999 and 2001.The IAEA has discussed these reports with the Governments of Iraq and Niger, both of which have denied that any such activity took place. For its part, Iraq has provided the IAEA with a comprehensive explanation of its relations with Niger, and has described a visit by an Iraqi official to a number of African countries, including Niger, in February 1999, which Iraq thought might have given rise to the reports. The IAEA was also able to review correspondence coming from various bodies of the Government of Niger, and to compare the form, format, contents and signatures of that correspondence with those of the alleged procurement-related documentation.

Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents – which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger – are in fact not authentic. We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded. [my emphasis]

Baradei followed that up by refusing to make the sweeping condemnations of Iran’s nuclear enrichment programs the US wanted him to.

As a result, in the months leading up to the election for his third term, the US tried everything it could to prevent Baradei’s reelection as head of IAEA. As part of that effort, the US scrutinized their wiretaps of Baradei in an unsuccessful attempt to try to find material they could use to claim bias on his part.

The Bush administration has dozens of intercepts of Mohamed ElBaradei’s phone calls with Iranian diplomats and is scrutinizing them in search of ammunition to oust him as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to three U.S. government officials.


The intercepted calls have not produced any evidence of nefarious conduct by ElBaradei, according to three officials who have read them. But some within the administration believe they show ElBaradei lacks impartiality because he tried to help Iran navigate a diplomatic crisis over its nuclear programs. Others argue the transcripts demonstrate nothing more than standard telephone diplomacy.

Shortly after his reelection, the Nobel committee awarded Baradei the peace prize.

And the NeoCon campaign against Baradei hasn’t let up. On several occasions in 2007, John Bolton publicly accused Baradei of coddling Iran.

BOLTON: Mohamed ElBaradei is an apologist for Iran. He has taken positions in flat violation of three Security Council resolutions, and he needs to learn that he works for the member governments of his agency, not the other way around.

BLITZER: But he got a second term. They voted. Despite the Bush administration’s opposition, he was reelected to a second term.

BOLTON: He got a third term, actually, which is even worse.

BLITZER: Third, and so there — he does have the confidence of some people.

BOLTON: I don’t think we were effective in our campaign to oppose him. I don’t think that he did nearly what we should have done, and I think we are paying the price now and will pay it into the future.

BLITZER: But, you know, in fairness to Mohamed ElBaradei, before the war in Iraq, when Condoleezza Rice and the president were speaking about mushroom clouds of Saddam Hussein and a revived nuclear weapons program that he may be undertaking, he was saying there was absolutely no such evidence. He was poo-pooing it, saying the Bush administration was overly alarming and there was no nuclear weapons program that Hussein had revived. He was right on that one.

BOLTON: Even a stopclock is right twice a day.


BLITZER: So you don’t believe, obviously, this guy, anything he’s basically saying?

BOLTON: I think he’s actually undermining the credibility of the IAEA by his overly politicized role in the Iran crisis.

Now, as I said, Baradei may end up being a minor figure among opposition leaders for Egyptians. But as NeoCons weigh in on the possibility of democracy in Egypt, it’s worth remembering anti-democratic campaign NeoCons have sustained against  the best known Egyptian opposition leader to Americans.

    • emptywheel says:

      Al Jazeera says they confirmed he was being detained–but that was about 40 minutes ago, and things are in flux. In any case, they had confirmed just moments before I wrote that.

      • eCAHNomics says:

        Last I heard, he was under ‘house arrest’ in the mosque where he attended Friday prayers. Has he been moved to a prison?

  1. RevBev says:

    Not to make light, but I cannot think, well maybe, of anyone more appropriate not to have as a friend.

      • eCAHNomics says:

        Not a rhetorical Q. I want the details. If they demanded, as you say, U.S. troops in Egypt, how would they do that? Go on U.S. TV? What would they say that wouldn’t finally get them laughed off the air?

        Or, would they do something beneath the radar, like assassination attempt.

        IOW, can they do anything real, or are they reduced to just blathering, in which case why should we give a ff what they think.

        • onitgoes says:

          Good questions. With our fiscal & military empire so stretched absolutely to the breaking point, I’m wondering, too, whether the rightwing NeoCons are just responding like the Pavlov dogs they are… and that their “barking” has no real bite. Did they, too, drink Barry Zero’s Kool Aid the other night? You know: Team USA is the greatest, etc…. signifying nothing…

        • Kelly Canfield says:

          It’s not an either/or deal. Look at the past behaviors. They do BOTH.

          Palaver, then drones or sub-radar, or COIN crap; or all of it.

          But it’s very difficult for them, when they didn’t see it coming. Can you imagine all the previously ignored/hastily dusted off PowerPoints from the Egypt desk flying out of Foggy Bottom right now?

  2. papau says:

    Does ElB have any political backing – is there a new political party that he heads? Would he be elected if he ran for anything?

    I know we in the west admire him – but does that translate into next leader?

      • onitgoes says:

        Don’t NeoCon’s just reflexively oppose *anything* that “small people” want just because? I’m serious. I truly think all the politicians in the USA, at least at the Fed level, live in such a bubble of their own Kool Aid drinking that they no longer “get” the utter paucity of what they pretend to “represent.”

        They can raid Soc Sec & Medicare (hopefully NOT), but that’s still not going to be *enough* to continue the ever-growing *charade* that Team USA has enough money, might, power, dominance and control to keep bullying and forcing *everyone* else to dance to their tunes…

        The emperors have no clothes!

        Power to the people!

    • eCAHNomics says:

      I did hear one person on alJ, an Egyptian, conservative iirc, who was endorsing ElB, and when pressed, couldn’t think of anyone else. Trouble is, the interviewee was also an expat, living in London, I think.

      I don’t know much about Egypt, but my guess is there is no organized political opposition. That is certainly what the coverage about the uprising indicates. It is spontaneous among many sectors of the population with no particular leaders.

      So that means picking the next leader is not possible. And that means ElB has an advantage because of name recognition.

      But it seems all up in the air.

      • druidity36 says:

        I remembered this bit from reading the transcript with Juan Cole on Democracy Now:

        “We just had this breaking news from the Al Jazeera reporter on Twitter. He’s saying that the prominent Egyptian opposition politician Ayman Nour was struck in the head by a rock. He’s been hospitalized, and he’s semi-conscious.”

        “Well, Nour, at that time that the memo was written, had just been released from prison by Mubarak, and he leads a relatively small middle-class reform movement. And he did dare to challenge Mubarak in the 2005 presidential elections. And as you say, the Bush administration put pressure on Hosni Mubarak to open up those elections. The elections for president in Egypt prior to that had been largely symbolic. They had been a kind of referendum. And of course, in a referendum, you can’t really lose. So, Mubarak responded to this pressure by having the constitution changed so that a number of people could run for president, not just him. And Ayman Nour was one of the ones who ran, but he had been in prison. And Mubarak let him out of prison, let him run. He got seven percent of the vote. And then Mubarak promptly jailed him again after he lost the election.”
        -JUAN COLE

        It’s a good interview.

  3. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Just for laughs what are the NeoCons like Bolton and Condi saying about Egypt they after created the lets support any Arab Dictator no matter how evil just so long as they hate Ossama?
    Just how do they explain why the Left and not Ossama is leading these revolutions?
    I love the smell of Cognitive Dissonance in the morning.

  4. canadianbeaver says:

    NBC reporting private limos under heavy security, went to airport where 3 private jets took them out of country fast.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      alJ reported that biz leaders were leaving Egypt. Prolly the same event NBC referring to.

      One analyst on alJ said that Mubarak might already be gone, but it seemed like a throwaway line, alJ did not follow up and I’ve heard no other ref to that.

      OTOH, Mubarak is certainly playing invisible at the moment. Current guest on alJ talking as though Mubarak will still be making an ‘announcement.’

  5. eCAHNomics says:

    Oh, one other thing paupau, Islamic Brotherhood, or whatever it is called now, used to be the ‘party’ that would have thought to have taken over, if Mubarak fell. But I gather IB was largely defanged by Mubarak and have apparently been keeping a low profile in the uprising.

    • Siun says:

      The Muslim Brotherhood remains the opposition power that until this week was most able to mobilize masses of people.

      ElBaradei has spoken favorably of the Brotherhood as they have of him though they are independent “parties.”

      ElBaradei is the head of the National Association for Change

      The Association includes representation by the Muslim Brotherhood as well as many other political trends.

    • papau says:

      I thought the Muslim Brotherhood had 88 seats of the 508 in the lower house and none in the 264 member upper house prior to the Dec 10th elections but they boycott those elections and now have zero (they are officially banned because of their call for an Islamic state that tosses Christian rights amid Sharia law – so they run as independents).

      The Wafd Party won 2 seats – down from five seats in the last parliament.

      I get the impression that it is indeed a name recognition situation – but with Mubarak just saying on TV that he will not step down, all this may be moot.

  6. sadlyyes says:

    ruh oh

    Canada to extradite relative of Tunisian leader



    The Associated Press

    Friday, January 28, 2011; 4:08 PM

    TORONTO — Canada said Friday it will comply with the new Tunisian government’s request to extradite the brother-in-law of ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

    Belhassen Trabelsi, a billionaire Tunisian businessman and brother of former first lady Leila Trabelsi, reportedly arrived in Canada last week with his family.

    Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said Friday that “we don’t want criminals like him in Canada, and we will comply with Tunisia’s request.”

    ==modnote: please provide links to quoted material==

  7. EdwardTeller says:

    Here’s what I wrote about ElBaradei early yesterday:

    Mohamed ElBaradei has been pissing off American presidents and Secretaries of State since he took over the International Atomic Energy Agency from Hans Blix in the early part of Bill Clinton’s second term. Both Clintons despise him, irrespective of obligatory positive comments they’ve occasionally made. George W. Bush and Colin Powell did everything they could to thwart a man who so thoroughly predicted the messiness of the Iraqi quagmire those two Americans led us into.

    Although Egyptians might not fully want a person regarded as an expatriate coming in to take over the opposition to Mubarek’s police state, others regard him quite rightly, as a man who gave their country a very high and positive international profile in a world that was rapidly becoming Islamophobic and racist toward Arabs.

    The most recent example of an expatriate leader returning to a powerful country in the Muslim world was of course that of Benazir Bhutto returning to Pakistn, only to be cut down by assassins soon afterward. Mubarek’s people are certainly capable of such nasty business.

    I don’t even want to get into John Bolton and M ElB, but I’m sure Obama will find some sort of job for Bolton soon.

  8. lsls says:

    Sounds to me like this was all pre-planned. I expect Baradei will be the guy with the blessings of the US except for the Bushco Neocons. He’s a nuke expert.

  9. sadlyyes says:

    speaking of war criminals

    David Kelly death riddle grows as it emerges personal items found on his body did not have fingerprints on them

    By Miles Goslett

    Last updated at 1:31 AM on 27th January 2011

    Comments (37) Add to My Stories Mystery: Inquiries into the death of Dr David Kelly are incomplete, police have said

    Further questions have been raised over the death of Dr David Kelly after police admitted that two personal items found with his body – his mobile phone and a watch – did not have any fingerprints on them.

    The news brings the number of objects without fingerprints at the site where the weapons inspector’s body was discovered to five – the other three being the knife he allegedly used to slash his wrist, the packs of pills he is said to have overdosed on, and a water bottle.

    It had been suggested that the lack of fingerprints on the knife might be due to the presence of gaffer tape on it. But Thames Valley Police have now confirmed that the knife had no tape on its handle

    Read more:

  10. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    But as NeoCons weigh in on the possibility of democracy in Egypt, it’s worth remembering anti-democratic campaign NeoCons have sustained against the best known Egyptian opposition leader to Americans.

    Mid-morning PST, I caught a snippet of a Fox News so-called ‘report’ implying that the world will collapse if Mubarak is ousted b/c the Muslim Brotherhood are really Al Quaeda. So that’s what passes for ‘reporting’ on Fox. Maybe Bolton is a big Fox viewer.

  11. wayoutwest says:

    It seems to me that the Egyptian people should decide who is an acceptable leader not the US. This attitude may be why the US is not appreciated by the citizens of the Middle East.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    We all know how immune to neocon criticism our changey, constitutional lawyer, due process-obsessed president is when it comes to hiring, setting policy and implementing it.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Digby usefully posted this link to Al Jazeera’s English language website earlier today. It might be useful in the event that your cable service provider, like Digby’s, deems including it in its package not consistent with our freeeedom!!!! not to hear views contrary to those broadcast by the American MSM.

  14. jdmckay0 says:

    Amy Goodman had interview w/Baradei yesterday, very thoughtful/intelligent discussion IMO. And this:

    Hillary Clinton Forgets to Mention Tear Gas, Tanks, Concussion Grenades Used Against Egyptian Protesters Are Made in the U.S.

    Don’t have link, but I recall GWB not all that long ago saying Bolton was “unreliable” (or something to that affect). It was hardly news, but another blip along the path which could have exposed so much of redneck anti-Islamic blather for which Bolton was a mouthpiece for BushCo after 9-11.

    I commented here the other day about Wikileaks cables… “which explicitly stated purpose of the Gaza blockades was to keep Palestinian economy entirely disabled (my words from memory).”

    Hardly made a blimp on news anywhere. I asked Juan Cole about it, he mentioned it here, in which Cole expounded more broadly on this “theme”… eg: Israel’s overt policy of imposed Gaza poverty, with PR campaign crouching their actions in more palatable terms. Brief snippet:

    The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has summarized an Israeli military briefing by Israeli Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi of a US congressional delegation a little over a year ago and concludes that

    ‘ The memo on the talks between Ashkenazi and [Congressman Ike] Skelton, as well as numerous other documents from the same period of time, to which Aftenposten has gained access, leave a clear message: The Israeli military is forging ahead at full speed with preparations for a new war in the Middle East.


    The new, major war will be a total war on civilians, Ashkenazi boasted: “In the next war Israel cannot accept any restrictions on warfare in urban areas.” (I den neste krigen kan Israel ikke godta noen restriksjoner på krigføring i byområder in Norwegian, or let us just translate it into the original German: In den nächsten Krieg, den Israel kann keine Beschränkungen Kriegsführung in städtischen Gebieten.) Mind you, the civilian deaths deriving from this massive and unrestricted bombing campaign on targets in the midst of civilian urban populations will be “unintentional.” Planning to bomb civilian areas with foreknowledge that you will thereby kill large numbers of civilians is a war crime.

    I googled this guy (Ashkenazi), and see this was broadly discussed almost everywhere… except US media. Funny, that… no?

    I mention because of the dominant, overwhelming inability of US to comprehend simple to understand, common sense facts & truths in the world if they run counter to propoganda driven “US interests”. In your snippet, where Bolton says…

    BOLTON: Even a stopclock is right twice a day.

    … geezus, on a representative BushCo media saturated lie fundamental to their mis-directed $2 trillion Iraq invasion, which Baradei (and so many others) correctly identfied as a lie, Bolton still gets facetime saying absurdities (stopclock) when, by my count, Bolton has got just about nothing factually correct.

    Then we look at these other memos recently released re: Abbas’ “triangulation” against Hamas by capitulating on Israel’s settlement expansion, an issue very much at heart of entire Iraq adventure… eg: neo-cons said the road to peace went through Baghdad, remember? Christ, even after we toppled the Sadam statue (a fake staged event) in Baghdad, BushCo shortly thereafter announced “new” Iraq flag, basically a clone of Israel’s. Even this, an overt event similarly outraging ME Islamic people was passed over by US momentum to “liberate” Iraq.

    Point being, massive re-defining of US “interests” for very small group of insane Likudnik ideals undermining entire ME peace prospects for benefit of a few… all very much at heart of utter lack of truth in direction of massive US resources… and so now, here we are, gon’a gut Soc. Security and Medicare to make up for the “shortfall”.

    With Tunisia incident (also well chronicled by Cole and many others), it sure seems to me that in larger scope of things, wrt US policy/relevance in the world, our standing upon utter misinformation which mis-directs our citizens minds so that it can mis-direct our resources… this whole incident is another point along the line in a good 10 year process initiated by these same neocons which is, essentially, impoverishing not just the world, but US people & society as well.

    I mentioned the other day how, monetarily/economically US is no longer destination for investment (So. America has gone it’s own way, as Far & Near east Asia, etc. etc.) because of this exact same shit: eg. US lies motivating policy which mis-directs actions…

    I think what we’re seeing across Islamic world is furthering of this trend in a big way, while in failing to come to terms and have and accountability moment here on our side of the pond, we more or less ensure our collective influence in the world for the better becomes further ignored. And, if rest of the world decides at some point that US backchannel diplomatic strong arming will no longer prevent them from declaring our accountability moment so that they do it for us…

    Well, what goes around comes around. And BO is doing a great job directing traffic so that we continue “sending around” a whole lot of shit that, when it comes around, is gon’a hurt. And given profoundly ignorant & mis-informed US population as a whole, very few here are gon’a have a clue what the hell it’s all about, completely oblivious to the fact that their foundational (delusional) beliefs in US Exceptionalism were/are, over especially this decade, essentially… crimes.

    Oh well, at least we got Michelle Bachman to keep the Constitution thingie omni present.

  15. dmac says:

    I posted in Siun’s thread earlier and tweeted to you –

    Neocon and Bremer’s policy hit man J Scott Carpenter is back – this time on @MSNBC as MEPolicy expert.
    his past ‘policy’ jobs under the Bush administration were not mentioned.

    He not only was policy advisor under Bremer, but Governance when Irak appt’g Cabinet…
    And remember that little lobbying/policy$making of E European countries? He was involved with Slovenia during that time.
    the list is long…
    keep an eye on him.