Heinonen Moves Deceptive Anti-Iran Campaign from Washington Post Opinion Page to New York Times News Page

Composite figure of partial screengrabs from the Leadership page for United Against Nuclear Iran showing Heinonen's role as a member of its Advisory Board. Remarkably, Heinonen prefers not to note this role while his spouting his strongest anti-Iran positions.

Composite figure of partial screengrabs from the Leadership page for United Against Nuclear Iran showing Heinonen’s role as a member of its Advisory Board. Remarkably, Heinonen prefers not to note this role while his spouting his strongest anti-Iran positions.

Last week, I called attention to the fact that in printing an op-ed by Olli Heinonen (co-authored by Michael Hayden and Ray Takeyh), the Washington Post failed to disclose Heinonen’s position on the advisory board of the anti-Iran group United Against Nuclear Iran. One week later, the Post still has not corrected its identification of Heinonen. Today, we see that Heinonen’s deceptive anti-Iran campaign continues, where he appears as a key expert quoted in a front page New York Times article by David Sanger and Michael Gordon. Once again, Heinonen is only identified by his previous IAEA and current Harvard roles, ignoring his more relevant current role with UANI.

Ironically, today’s Times story is a follow-up to a story in November in which Sanger committed a glaring error which still has not been noted by the Times. Heinonen’s co-conspirator from the Post op-ed, Ray Takeyh, also makes an appearance in today’s Sanger and Gordon article, suggesting that their propaganda will remain as a package deal for the duration of the P5+1 negotiations.

Note also that last Monday, the defamation case by Victor Restis against UANI was thrown out by a district court after the Department of Justice successfully intervened to have the case quashed under a claim that state secrets would have been divulged. Writing in Bloomberg View, Noah Feldman mused:

What makes matters worse is the lingering possibility, indeed probability, that what the government fears is not a true threat to national security, but a severe case of embarrassment. It’s difficult to escape the conclusion that United Against is a front organization for U.S. intelligence, possibly acting in conjunction with other foreign intelligence services. The allegation that Restis was doing business in Iran seems almost certain to have come from one of these intelligence services. Would acknowledging cooperation between, say, the Central Intelligence Agency and Mossad regarding Iran really upend national security? True, it’s a delicate time in the Iran nuclear negotiations. But no one, least of all the Iranians, doubts that U.S. and Israeli intelligence collaborate.

Though Feldman notes that it seems obvious there is an intelligence conduit between the CIA and/or Mossad and UANI and he even notes that disclosing this now would be awkward for the P5+1 negotiations, he should have gone further to note that this intelligence link, and the subsequent selective leaks, seem aimed to disrupt those negotiations and prevent an agreement.

In that same vein, it should be noted that the Sanger and Gordon article focuses only on barriers to an agreement. In addition to Heinonen and Takeyh, the article also sought out comment from John Boehner. No comment was offered in the article from anyone favoring an agreement or suggesting that Iran has abided by the terms of the interim agreement (although they do note IAEA has reported this cooperation) despite Boehner’s protestation that the Iranians don’t keep their word.

Further, Sanger and Gordon write that Heinonen published a paper on the breakout time needed for Iran to enrich enough uranium to weapons grade to produce a bomb. As a scientist, when I read that someone has published a paper, I assume that means it has appeared in a peer-reviewed journal. Following the link in the Times article for Heinonen’s “paper”, though, brings one to the website for a think tank, where Heinonen’s piece is only referred to as a fact sheet. [And, true to form, the site mentions Heinonen’s former IAEA role but not his current UANI role.]

It is impossible for me to escape the conclusion that Olli Heinonen and Ray Takeyh are part of an organized propaganda campaign aimed at disrupting the P5+1 talks and preventing an agreement. This propaganda is eagerly published by a compliant press, with the New York Times, Washington Post and AP among the most recent examples I have noted.

It is long past time for Heinonen to list his UANI affiliation in all his public pronouncements. His refusal to do so can only be seen as deception on his part and an effort to lend IAEA and Harvard credence to UANI propaganda.

Update: The US has disputed the central claim of the Sanger and Gordon article at the heart of this post. Sanger and Gordon report on that here.

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.

15 replies
  1. bevin says:

    Another version of this crude propaganda piece appeared in the Toronto Star, in which two “experts” were asked for their opinions. This Finnish bottom feeder was one, David Allbright the other.
    There are several possible issues to this campaign of lies and distortions: one is that an agreement is sabotaged, which would create a geopolitical re-alignment by driving Iran into the SCO. For warmongers itching for a fight with the earth island before they lose their perceived military advantage, this is the preferred option.
    It is unfortunate that at a time when the American public, getting poorer and less secure every passing year, is open to fresh options including an outbreak of peace and prosperity, there is not a single major party candidate-from Ron Paul’s son to the ‘Socialist’ from Vermont prepared to question the Cold War consensus around imperial aggression. And yet, without a radical re-structuring of the allocation of national economic resources there are no chances that the country’s many and deep socio-economic problems can be addressed.
    At the bottom of the pyramid that Heinonen and Allbright pirouette upon, for spare change from the kleptocracy, there are millions of poor people in jail, vast swathes of wild country in which cops mow down anyone they don’t like the look of and tens of millions without the basic necessities of life. One of which is hope in the future.

  2. TarheelDem says:

    Two-pronged negotiating tactics or a government divided against itself on policy and on a destructive path to close the possibility of normalization of relations with Iran in the Obama administration?

    Or just runaway MEK money?

  3. wallace says:

    Who needs political fiction when you have reality. Now that the DOJ can get a civil case thrown out of court by simply whispering the words “national security” in a Judges ear..all bets are off except one. I’ve got $25 that says this case is living proof the “rule of law” is a perverse joke.

  4. wallace says:

    Who needs political fiction when you have reality. Now that the DOJ can get a civil case thrown out of court by simply whispering the words “national security” in a Judges ear..all bets are off except one. I’ve got $25 that says this case is living proof the “rule of law” is a perverse joke. And if that’s not enough..let’s try this one…

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2015/03/27/absurd-fourth-circuit-ruling-embodies-everything-thats-wrong-with-drug-raids/

  5. seedeevee says:

    Oh, Jim.

    You and your science always ruining it for us people and our mere opinions and feelings . . .

  6. bloopie2 says:

    “One shot dead at Fort Meade after trying to ram NSA gate.” Did they see this coming, or no?

  7. Denis says:

    Well, personally, I find Olli’s extra-curricular associations far less interesting and far less frightening that the point of the Sanger/Gordon article, which you deftly avoid: IRI has no intention of sending fuel of any degree of enrichment anywhere for any purpose. The stockpile stays.

    IOW, all of you pollyannas pushing the IRI side have been taken in — IRI has been punking the world to buy more time, which has been Bibi’s point all the while. That is the deep point of the Sanger/Gordon article you ignore.

    In your piece of Nov04 you went after Sanger for suggesting Russia would do all of IRI’s enriching, and you based your criticism on Gareth Porter’s assertion of “Iran’s willingness to send both its existing stockpile of low enriched uranium (LEU) as well as newly enriched uranium to Russia . . .” Yeah, I don’t think so.

    Who are the suckers here: you, Porter, and Obama on one hand or Bibi on the other?

    • Jim White says:

      .
      Gosh. You deftly managed not to see the update (which went up about 20 minutes after the original), where I noted that the US was disputing the central thesis of the Sanger-Gordon article. That is, there is reason to believe that the whole huzzah about not shipping low enriched uranium out to Russia was likely just one of many feints delivered publicly by the negotiating parties.

  8. Don Bacon says:

    The idea that the New York Times, Washington Post, etc. are in the altruistic “news” business neglects to recognize that these are profit-oriented businesses whose objective is to deliver advertising to as large a market population as possible, and a major part of this strategy is to deliver the message of the economic establishment to as large a sympathetic audience as possible.
    .
    So this goes ‘way beyond reporting the news, into financial and motivational aspects that are well-filled, in this case. by operatives such as Olli Heinonen who knows full well how the game is played, and that it requires “experts” such as himself to provide some basis for the establishment’s BS positions.

  9. Don Bacon says:

    Iran is of course not eager to rely upon other nations in its peaceful nuclear program, recalling especially Obama’s backtracking on the botched 2010 Brazil-Turkey deal.
    .
    WASHINGTON — The United States, Europe and Russia responded with extreme skepticism to Iran’s announcement on Monday that it had reached an agreement to ship roughly half of its nuclear fuel to Turkey, saying they would continue to press for new sanctions against Tehran.

    • Don Bacon says:

      from link.. “So, these journalists do not report; they have their own agenda, and by pretending to report, they advocate the agenda”…

      No, the journalists don’t have their own agenda, they write for editors who work for publishers who are most interested in the profits which come from instability and war.
      .
      If a “journalist” fails to write what is required by his editor he becomes an ex-journalist. One is not likely to see many editorials by Noam Chomsky or Ralph Nader on the NY Times editorial pages, where more war is always the default position supported by “experts” like Olli Heinonen as stated in my #11 above.
      .
      IOW it’s important to understand the depth and strength of the American Exceptionalism that constantly advocates, and gets, continued instability and strife which bring them profits by influencing people at the highest levels to do their bidding, all the while giving the proles “news stories” of the hypothetical situation. It’s not just a few reporters, it’s much more than that.

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