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On Hiroshima Anniversary, Iran Deal Opponents Make One More Push Based on Parchin Photos

Hiroshima was flattened by the US on August 6, 1945 by the deployment of a nuclear weapon.

Hiroshima was flattened by the US on August 6, 1945 by the deployment of a nuclear weapon. (Wikimedia Commons)

Seventy years ago today, on August 6, 1945, the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. By November of that same year, approximately 130,000 people were dead because of that single bomb, which targeted a civilian population. Three days later, the US deployed a second nuclear weapon in Nagasaki. It appears that these horrific weapons were not needed, despite the prevailing myth surrounding their use. Even with the subsequent proliferation of nuclear weapons, the US remains the only country to have ever used them outside a testing scenario, while countries as unstable as North Korea and Pakistan have achieved nuclear weapons capability at some level.

As might be expected, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is using the occasion of this anniversary to call for an end to nuclear weapons. Last week, Javad Zarif made an excellent move, in suggesting that now that Iran has signed an agreement with the P5+1 group of countries on its nuclear technology, there should be a push to remove nuclear weapons and all WMD from the Middle East. Recall that Iran has agreed to the most intrusive inspections regime ever put into place in a country that didn’t first lose a war, making their call for inspections of Israel’s nuclear weapons program especially strong. These two calls together represent an appeal to those who prefer peace over war while placing the highest possible value on civilian lives.

That attitude of favoring peace over war and putting civilians first stands in stark contrast to those who oppose the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed by the P5+1 and Iran. As Barack Obama pointed out yesterday, those who are opposing the deal are the same people who were so tragically wrong about the decision to invade Iraq in 2003:

President Obama lashed out at critics of the Iran nuclear deal on Wednesday, saying many of those who backed the U.S. invasion of Iraq now want to reject the Iran accord and put the Middle East on the path toward another war.

/snip/

While calling the nuclear accord with Iran “the strongest nonproliferation agreement ever negotiated,” Obama also seemed to turn the vote on the deal into a referendum on the U.S. invasion of Iraq a dozen years ago, a decision he portrayed as the product of a “mind-set characterized by a preference for military action over diplomacy.”

Obama said that when he first ran for president, he believed “that America didn’t just have to end that war. We had to end the mind-set that got us there in the first place.” He added that “now, more than ever, we need clear thinking in our foreign policy.”

One of the saddest aspects of this push for war over diplomacy is that much of it comes from deep within the US government itself. In many of my posts on the path to the P5+1 accord with Iran, I have noted the nefarious process of anonymous “disclosures” coming sometimes from “diplomats” and sometimes from “intelligence sources” that get transcribed into the press by a small handful of “reporters”. Usually the worst offender on this front is George Jahn of AP. A recent retiree from this fold is Fredrik Dahl who now, ironically, appears to be the primary press contact for the IAEA. But never fear, rushing into the void created by the departure of Dahl (or perhaps his insertion into an operative role further inside the apparatus), we have the dynamic duo of Eli Lake and Josh Rogin. Their blather being put out as “journalism” is not worthy of a link here. If you want to find it, try going to Marcy’s Twitter and searching for “not The Onion”.

Of course, the high point of this process of manufacturing nuclear charges against Iran and then getting them into the media is the notorious “laptop of death“. Running a close second, though, are the charges that Iran has engaged in developing a high explosives trigger device at the Parchin site. Showing that those who engage in this level of deceit have absolutely no pride, the charges of this work have proceeded despite an equally plausible explanation that the high explosives chamber could just as easily have been used to develop nanodiamonds. Further, those making these charges have allowed themselves to be baited into a ridiculous level of “analysis” of satellite photos of the site, with hilarious results from how Iran has played them.

Despite this level of embarrassment, one of the primary tools in this process, David Albright, couldn’t resist one last try on the satellite photo front. Yesterday, he breathlessly informed us that there are a couple of new sheds on the Parchin site and there is even some debris. And, get this, a crate has been moved! Seriously, here is the “meat” of Albright’s analysis (pdf): Read more

Graham Throws Tantrum Over an Afghanistan With No Night Raids or US Control of Prisons

Proof from April, 2010 that we have trained the Afghans to manage their own prisons.

With most eyes yesterday on Super Tuesday and political wrangling over Iran’s nuclear technology, not many took notice of the update from Reuters Tuesday morning letting us know that an agreement on transfer detention faciliies to full Afghanistan control is expected by the end of this week. Lindsey Graham did notice the news,however, and chose to vent to Josh Rogin just before lunch.

Lindsey is not happy:

Graham, who has been one of the strongest congressional supporters for continuing the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan beyond 2014, said today that unless Karzai relents on his demands that the United States immediately hand over control of Afghan prisoners and end night raids against insurgents, there is no way the U.S. can achieve its objectives in Afghanistan and therefore should just end its involvement there.

“If the president of the country can’t understand how irrational it is to expect us to turn over prisoners and if he doesn’t understand that the night raids have been the biggest blow to the Taliban … then there is no hope of winning. None,” Graham said in the hallways of the Capitol Building just before entering the GOP caucus lunch.

“So if he insists that all the prisoners have to be turned over by March 9 and that we have to stop night raids, that means we will fail in Afghanistan and that means Lindsey Graham pulls the plug. It means that I no longer believe we can win and we might as well get out of there sooner rather than later.”

Graham gets so much wrong in his rant. He seems to think that the US is planning to hand over full control of the prisons on Friday. Reuters reports that the most likely agreement is for the process to start on Friday but take place over a six month period:

In a meeting Monday between Afghan President Hamid Karzai, U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen. John Allen, the NATO commander in Afghanistan, the American side proposed a six-month timeline for the transfer.

Karzai was reported to have set a deadline of March 9 for the United States to hand over the detention facilities.

An Afghan official said that under one possible scenario, a transfer of prisons could start within the next few days and it may be completed within six months.

Next, Graham complains that the Afghans will merely turn insurgents loose to “start killing Americans again”, despite the fact that Afghanistan appears to hang onto some prisoners long enough to have built up quite a reputation for torture there.

And Graham seems to have forgotten that training has been a cornerstone of US policy in Afghanistan, presumably equipping the Afghans for the time when we could hand over prisons and other security arrangements to the Afghans so that we could go home. Read more

In Memogate Cross-Examination, Ijaz Claims to Have Transcript of Zardari, Kayani Phone Conversation

Following up on his original video deposition from late last month, Mansoor Ijaz, once again by video link from London, was subjected to cross-examination yesterday and today by the judicial commission investigating the Memogate scandal. Ijaz reiterated his primary claim he has made from the start, that his actions were prompted by a strong belief that a military coup was imminent on the heels of the US action that killed Osama bin Laden in May, 2011.

Although he did not list the countries, Ijaz claimed to have been briefed by intelligence agents from four different countries. He submitted multiple documents as his proof. The Express Tribune described the documents as including a transcript of a phone call between Pakistan’s President and Army Chief:

After Haqqani approached him first, Ijaz said, he used his contacts with intelligence agencies of various countries to obtain documents, including travel records of Director-General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, minute-by-minute Pakistan Air traffic Control flight monitoring of US helicopters which infiltrated Pakistani airspace for the May 2 raid, and a transcript of a call between President Asif Ali Zardari and Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Interestingly, Dawn’s coverage of the cross-examination doesn’t specifically mention Zardari and Kayani by name as being in the transcripts, although it comes close:

During the cross-examination before the judicial commission investigating the case, the Pakistani-American businessman said he had been briefed by at least four intelligence networks of different countries after the killing of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2, last year.

He said he had obtained the information about actions and reactions of Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, President Asif Ali Zardari and the military secretary to the president after the incident, details of foreign visits of the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and transcripts of conversation between air traffic control staff and the pilots of the US helicopters which raided Osama’s compound.

/snip/

He also claimed to have the transcripts of conversations between the President’s House and the Army House on the operation.

How is it that an American citizen of Pakistani descent would have access to intelligence agencies of so many countries?  And, especially, how could Ijaz come into possession of a transcript of a call between Zardari and Kayani? Read more

Zardari in Dubai Hospital; Coup Rumors Quelled for Now

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari (Wikimedia Commons)

Late Tuesday afternoon, Twitter was awash in a flurry of rumors on the status of Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari. One tweet that was repeated over and over stated that Zardari had been sedated, flown to Abu Dhabi, and would leave as soon as possible for London due to a medical condition. Then Josh Rogin put up a story at Foreign Policy stating that Zardari was in Dubai after complaining of chest pains and that there was a possibility that he would resign before returning to Pakistan. After first stating that Zardari was in Dubai only for medical tests relating to a known previous heart condition, the Pakistani government later stated that Zardari had suffered a minor heart attack and was in Dubai for treatment, which many have described as angioplasty.  Zardari is expected to return to Pakistan soon.

The tweet that set things off appears to have come from Najam Sethi, whose twitter profile lists him as “Editor, The Friday Times, & Group Advisor GEO TV; Senior Fellow New America Foundation, Washington DC; Eric Lane Fellow Clare College Cambridge University UK”. Although the tweet doesn’t seem to be in his timeline now, retweets put it as: “Prez Zardari sedated and taken to hosp in AbuDhabi. He will go to London asap. Faranaz Ispahani with him but not HH!” Tweets that are still in his timeline state that he meant to say Dubai, but he had just returned from Abu Dhabi and typed that instead. There is an additional tweet stating that he still expects Zardari to go to London.

Faranaz Isphahani is Zardari’s spokeswoman, “HH” is presumed to refer to former US Ambassador Husain Haqqani, who resigned in the memo scandal and has been placed on the Exit Control List, preventing his exit from Pakistan.

An even higher level of Twitter activity ensued after Josh Rogin Tweeted a link to his story at Foreign Policy.  The key aspect to Rogin’s story was information received from “a former US government official”:

A former U.S. government official told The Cable today that when President Barack Obama spoke with Zardari over the weekend regarding NATO’s killing of the 24 Pakistani soldiers, Zardari was “incoherent.” The Pakistani president had been feeling increased pressure over the Memogate scandal. “The noose was getting tighter — it was only a matter of time,” the former official said, expressing the growing expectation inside the U.S. government that Zardari may be on the way out.

The former U.S. official said that parts of the U.S. government were informed that Zardari had a “minor heart attack” on Monday night and flew to Dubai via air ambulance today. He may have angioplasty on Wednesday and may also resign on account of “ill health.”

Rogin then went on to quote another source on a potential coup: Read more

The Checkered Neocon History of Mansoor Ijaz, Instigator of Pakistan’s “Memogate”

As I noted yesterday, Josh Rogin has been doing outstanding work on the issue now rocking Pakistan, a memo purportedly sent from the highest levels of the Pakistani civilian government seeking US support for shutting down the branch of Pakistan’s ISI that deals with the Taliban and the Haqqani Network and weakening Pakistan’s military.  Now that Rogin has confirmed existence of the memo (and today has even provided a copy of it), I’d like to return to the figure who got this whole scandal started, Mansoor Ijaz.  Here is information Rogin dug up regarding Mansoor Ijaz back on November 8, when Michael Mullen was still denying existence of the memo:

This is only the latest time that Ijaz has raised controversy concerning his alleged role as a secret international diplomat. In 1996, he was accused of trying to extort money from the Pakistani government in exchange for delivering votes in the U.S. House of Representatives on a Pakistan-related trade provision.

Ijaz, who runs the firm Crescent Investment Management LLC in New York, has been an interlocutor between U.S. officials and foreign government for years, amid constant accusations of financial conflicts of interest. He reportedly arranged meetings between U.S. officials and former Pakistani Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.

He also reportedly gave over $1 million to Democratic politicians in the 1990s and attended Christmas events at former President Bill Clinton‘s White House. Ijaz has ties to former CIA Director James Woolsey and his investment firm partner is Reagan administration official James Alan Abrahamson.

In the mid-1990s, Ijaz traveled to Sudan several times and claimed to be relaying messages from the Sudanese regime to the Clinton administration regarding intelligence on bin Laden, who was living there at the time. Ijaz has claimed that his work gave the United States a chance to kill the al Qaeda leader but that the Clinton administration dropped the ball. National Security AdvisorSandy Berger, who served under Clinton, has called Ijaz’s allegations “ludicrous and irresponsible.”

Those are some pretty damning allegations.  Before moving to the detail from the source Rogin linked on Ijaz’s attempt to get $15 million from Pakistan in return for securing a positive vote in the House of Representatives for the Brown Amendment back in 1995, it’s worth getting the context for this bill.  From the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation: Read more

Rogin Obtains Proof Mullen Received Ijaz Memo, Pakistan Ambassador Recalled, Offers Resignation

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador to the US. (Wikimedia Commons)

Back on October 10, Mansoor Ijaz, an American from a Pakistani family, published a remarkable column in Financial Times in which he claimed to have been involved in the passing last May of a memo purportedly from Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari to Michael Mullen, who was at that time Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Ijaz described the memo as being prepared out of fears that Pakistan faced an imminent military coup as fallout from the government’s embarrassment over the ease with which the US carried out its mission to kill Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan. After Josh Rogin published denials from Mullen on November 8 that Mullen had any knowledge of the memo, Ijaz responded by publishing a number of communications with a Pakistani official from the time period in which the memo was being crafted. These communications are widely believed to have been with Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States.  In a flurry of action yesterday, Josh Rogin provided confirmation from Mullen that he had indeed received the memo, Pakistan recalled Haqqani for discussions and Haqqani offered to resign.

Unfortunately, the draconian “Terms and Conditions” at Financial Times prevent treatment of their material in the same way sane publications can be excerpted for quotes, so it will be necessary for readers to go through their ridiculous “free registration” process to read the Ijaz column in full at the link above. Suffice it to say that Ijaz described an offer represented as coming from Zardari to eliminate the branch of Pakistan’s secret Interservices Intelligence Agency (ISI) that deals with the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. Zardari sought US protection for taking such action.

Here is the denial Rogin obtained on November 8 from Mullen’s spokesman, Captian John Kirby:

“Adm. Mullen does not know Mr. Ijaz and has no recollection of receiving any correspondence from him,” Kirby told The Cable. “I cannot say definitively that correspondence did not come from him — the admiral received many missives as chairman from many people every day, some official, some not. But he does not recall one from this individual. And in any case, he did not take any action with respect to our relationship with Pakistan based on any such correspondence … preferring to work at the relationship directly through [Pakistani Army Chief of Staff] Gen. [Ashfaq Parvez] Kayani and inside the interagency process.”

Rogin goes on to describe Pakistani denials from that same time period:

Mullen’s denial represents the first official U.S. comment on the Ijaz memo, which since Oct. 10 has mushroomed into a huge controversy in Pakistan. Several parts of Pakistan’s civilian government denied that Ijaz’s memorandum ever existed. On Oct. 30, Zardari spokesman Farhatullah Babar called Ijaz’s op-ed a “fantasy article” and criticized the FT for running it in the first place.

“Mansoor Ijaz’s allegation is nothing more than a desperate bid by an individual, whom recognition and credibility has eluded, to seek media attention through concocted stories,” Babar said. “Why would the president of Pakistan choose a private person of questionable credentials to carry a letter to U.S. officials? Since when Mansoor has become a courier of messages of the president of Pakistan?”

Here is the admission from Kirby that Rogin obtained yesterday on the existence of the memo:

“Adm. Mullen had no recollection of the memo and no relationship with Mr. Ijaz. After the original article appeared on Foreign Policy‘s website, he felt it incumbent upon himself to check his memory. He reached out to others who he believed might have had knowledge of such a memo, and one of them was able to produce a copy of it,” Kirby said. “That said, neither the contents of the memo nor the proof of its existence altered or affected in any way the manner in which Adm. Mullen conducted himself in his relationship with Gen. Kayani and the Pakistani government. He did not find it at all credible and took no note of it then or later. Therefore, he addressed it with no one.”

Rogin also spoke with Husain Haqqani:

In an interview late on Wednesday afternoon, Washington time, Haqqani confirmed to The Cable that he will travel to Islamabad and has sent a letter to Zardari offering his resignation.

“At no point was I asked by you or anyone in the Pakistani government to draft a memo and at no point did I draft or deliver such a memo,” Haqqani said that he had written in his letter to Zardari.

“I’ve been consistently vilified as being against the Pakistani military even though I have only opposed military intervention in political affairs,” Haqqani said that he wrote. “It’s not easy to operate under the shadow of innuendo and I have not been named by anyone so far, but I am offering to resign in the national interest and leave that to the will of the president.”

Rogin goes on to speculate on the possibility that Zardari may sacrifice Haqqani in order to quell the controversy surrounding the memo, but from Haqqani’s statements Rogin provided, it does not appear that Haqqani will go quietly.

Dawn, which is usually considered to be closely aligned with Pakistan’s military, described yesterday’s events in this way:

A senior diplomatic source, when asked to comment on reports Ambassador Haqqani had sent his resignation to the president, said: “We cannot call it a resignation. He has sent a letter to prove that he is not guilty.”

In his message, the ambassador is believed to have written that he was not responsible for the letter that allegedly sought US support for sacking the ISI and army chiefs. The ambassador offered to resign if proven guilty.

Haqqani left his office at lunch and did not return. Before leaving, he sent an email to dozens of Pakistani journalists, giving details of a news conference he addressed in the morning on ties with US.

Earlier in the day, Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said the government had summoned Ambassador Haqqani to Islamabad to learn more about a letter ‘falsely’ attributed to the president.

The Express Tribune chose merely to run a Reuters article that rehashes Rogin’s revelations (without citing him).

It will be very interesting to see what unfolds when Haqqani arrives in Islamabad.