Murdoch’s media empire’s pressure for war in Iran


This video from the USA is called Moyers on Murdoch; PBS.

By Peter Symonds:

Murdoch’s media empire girds up for a war against Iran

9 September 2006

An editorial in Monday’s Australian entitled “Endgame for Iran” is another sign that the vast resources of the Murdoch global media empire are being mobilised to support a new US war of aggression against Iran.

A similar editorial headed “A nuclear Iran is not an option” appeared in the same newspaper last week, along with an opinion piece in the London-based Times entitled “What a shambles over Iran” and continuing agitation by Fox News commentators in the US. …

The sense of panic that permeates the Australian editorial is bound up with the profound political crisis engulfing the White House.

The US occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq have become unmitigated disasters, the US-backed Israeli war against Hezbollah in Lebanon was a debacle and, at home, there is broad hostility to the Bush administration, particularly over the continued US military presence in Iraq.

Yet, far from pulling back, the US is preparing to lurch into another military adventure.

Its agenda is nothing less than the assertion of American hegemony over the resource-rich regions of the Middle East and Central Asia and the stirring up of war fever to intimidate domestic opposition and justify further attacks on basic democratic rights.

CIA: no Iranian nuclear weapons drive.

Update: here.

And here.

Older News Line article here.

MySpace users rebel against Murdoch: here.

More Murdoch here.

Murdoch empire in Britain: here.

Murdoch empire and Venezuela: here.

Murdoch‘s Fox News: here.

Blair and Murdoch: here.

Fox News and racism: here.

1986-87 strike in Wapping, Britain against Murdoch: here.

Disgraced media mogul Conrad Black: here.

Condoleezza Rice and Iraq, Iran wars, cartoon by Martin Rowson

34 thoughts on “Murdoch’s media empire’s pressure for war in Iran

  1. Kucinich Warns of New War Plans
    Posted by: “Ell Kinder” lk3bk@yahoo.com lk3bk
    Fri Sep 22, 2006 5:15 pm (PST)
    Urgent Letter from Dennis Kucinich
    about Bush Administration Plans for a US War vs. Iran
    ..
    http://www.kucinich.us
    Dear Friends, The Bush Administration is preparing for war against
    Iran, using an almost identical drumbeat of weapons of mass
    destruction, imminent threat, alleged links to Al Queda, and even
    linking Iran with a future 911.
    ..
    In the past few months reports have been published in Newsweek, ABC
    News and GQ Magazine that indicate the US is recruiting members of
    paramilitary groups to destabilize Iran through violence. The New
    Yorker magazine and the Guardian have written that US has already
    deployed military inside Iran. The latest issue of Time writes of
    plans for a naval blockade of Iran at the Port of Hormuz, through
    which 40% of the world’s oil supply passes. Other news reports have
    claimed that an air strike, using a variety of bombs including
    bunker busters to be dropped on over 1,000 targets, including
    nuclear facilities. This could obviously result in a great long term
    humanitarian and environmental disaster.
    ..
    Earlier this year, I demanded congressional hearings on Iran and was
    able to secure the promise of a classified briefing from the
    Department of Defense, the State Department and the CIA. When the
    briefing was held, the Department of Defense and the State
    Department refused to show and are continuing to block any
    congressional inquiry into plans to attack Iran.
    ..
    Just this past week, the International Atomic Energy Agency
    called “erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated” statements
    relating to Iran’s nuclear program which came from a staff report of
    the House Intelligence committee. Other intelligence officials have
    claimed over a dozen distortions in the report which, among other
    things, said Iran is producing weapons grade uranium. The Washington
    Post wrote: “The IAEA called that ‘incorrect’ noting that weapons
    grade uranium is enriched to a level of 90 percent or more. Iran has
    enriched uranium to 3.5% under IAEA monitoring.”
    ..
    I have demanded that the Government Oversight subcommittee on
    National Security and International Relations, of which I am the
    ranking Democrat, hold hearings to determine how in the world the
    Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, viewed the
    report without correcting the obvious inaccuracies before it was
    published. Once again a case for war is being built on lies.
    ..
    You will recall that four and a half years ago I warned this nation
    about the deception behind the build up to war against Iraq.
    Everything I said then turned out to be 100% right. I led 125
    Democrats in opposing the Iraq war resolution in March of 2003. The
    very same people who brought us Iraq in 2003 are getting ready to
    bring us a war against Iran.
    ..
    With your help, I will lead the way to challenge the Bush
    Administration’s march to war against Iran. Please support my
    campaign for re-election with a generous donation to help continue
    my work in the Congress. The plan to attack Iran, on its face,
    threatens the safety of every US soldier serving in Iraq and
    Afghanistan, not to mention the countless Iranian lives at risk and
    the threat to world peace and environmental catastrophes.
    ..
    With your support, I intend to continue to insist upon:
    (1) Direct negotiations with Iran.
    (2) The US must guarantee Iran and the world community that it will
    not attack Iran.
    (3) Iran must open once again to international inspections of its
    nuclear program.
    (4) Iran must agree not to build nuclear weapons.
    Many of you joined me three years ago as I ran for President to
    challenge the deliberate lies about WMDs, Iraq and 911, Iraq and Al
    Queda and the Niger “yellowcake” claims which put us onto the path
    of an unnecessary, illegal, costly war in Iraq. The Iraq war has
    caused greater instability and violence in the world community. In
    the meantime, our government has used the oxymoronic war on terror
    to trample our Constitution, rip up the Bill of Rights and rule by
    fear.
    ..
    Please join with me as we continue our efforts for the end of fear
    and the beginning of hope, for international dialogue, for
    cooperation and for peace.
    Thank you, Dennis

  2. THE NEXT ACT
    by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
    Is a damaged Administration less likely to attack Iran, or more?
    Issue of 2006-11-27
    Posted 2006-11-20

    A month before the November elections, Vice-President Dick Cheney was sitting in
    on a
    national-security discussion at the Executive Office Building. The talk took a
    political
    turn: what if the Democrats won both the Senate and the House? How would that
    affect
    policy toward Iran, which is believed to be on the verge of becoming a nuclear
    power? At
    that point, according to someone familiar with the discussion, Cheney began
    reminiscing
    about his job as a lineman, in the early nineteen-sixties, for a power company
    in
    Wyoming. Copper wire was expensive, and the linemen were instructed to return
    all unused
    pieces three feet or longer. No one wanted to deal with the paperwork that
    resulted,
    Cheney said, so he and his colleagues found a solution: putting “shorteners” on
    the
    wire-that is, cutting it into short pieces and tossing the leftovers at the end
    of the
    workday. If the Democrats won on November 7th, the Vice-President said, that
    victory
    would not stop the Administration from pursuing a military option with Iran. The
    White
    House would put “shorteners” on any legislative restrictions, Cheney said, and
    thus stop
    Congress from getting in its way.

    The White House’s concern was not that the Democrats would cut off funds for the
    war in
    Iraq but that future legislation would prohibit it from financing operations
    targeted at
    overthrowing or destabilizing the Iranian government, to keep it from getting
    the bomb.
    “They’re afraid that Congress is going to vote a binding resolution to stop a
    hit on
    Iran, à la Nicaragua in the Contra war,” a former senior intelligence official
    told me.

    In late 1982, Edward P. Boland, a Democratic representative, introduced the
    first in a
    series of “Boland amendments,” which limited the Reagan Administration’s ability
    to
    support the Contras, who were working to overthrow Nicaragua’s left-wing
    Sandinista
    government. The Boland restrictions led White House officials to orchestrate
    illegal
    fund-raising activities for the Contras, including the sale of American weapons,
    via
    Israel, to Iran. The result was the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-eighties.
    Cheney’s
    story, according to the source, was his way of saying that, whatever a
    Democratic
    Congress might do next year to limit the President’s authority, the
    Administration would
    find a way to work around it. (In response to a request for comment, the
    Vice-President’s
    office said that it had no record of the discussion.)

    In interviews, current and former Administration officials returned to one
    question:
    whether Cheney would be as influential in the last two years of George W. Bush’s
    Presidency as he was in its first six. Cheney is emphatic about Iraq. In late
    October, he
    told Time, “I know what the President thinks,” about Iraq. “I know what I think.
    And
    we’re not looking for an exit strategy. We’re looking for victory.” He is
    equally clear
    that the Administration would, if necessary, use force against Iran. “The United
    States
    is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of
    the
    regime,” he told an Israeli lobbying group early this year. “And we join other
    nations in
    sending that regime a clear message: we will not allow Iran to have a nuclear
    weapon.”

    On November 8th, the day after the Republicans lost both the House and the
    Senate, Bush
    announced the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the
    nomination of
    his successor, Robert Gates, a former director of Central Intelligence. The move
    was
    widely seen as an acknowledgment that the Administration was paying a political
    price for
    the debacle in Iraq. Gates was a member of the Iraq Study Group-headed by former
    Secretary of State James Baker and Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic
    congressman-which
    has been charged with examining new approaches to Iraq, and he has publicly
    urged for
    more than a year that the U.S. begin direct talks with Iran. President Bush’s
    decision to
    turn to Gates was a sign of the White House’s “desperation,” a former high-level
    C.I.A.
    official, who worked with the White House after September 11th, told me.
    Cheney’s
    relationship with Rumsfeld was among the closest inside the Administration, and
    Gates’s
    nomination was seen by some Republicans as a clear signal that the
    Vice-President’s
    influence in the White House could be challenged. The only reason Gates would
    take the
    job, after turning down an earlier offer to serve as the new Director of
    National
    Intelligence, the former high-level C.I.A. official said, was that “the
    President’s
    father, Brent Scowcroft, and James Baker”-former aides of the first President
    Bush-“piled
    on, and the President finally had to accept adult supervision.”

    Critical decisions will be made in the next few months, the former C.I.A.
    official said.
    “Bush has followed Cheney’s advice for six years, and the story line will be:
    ‘Will he
    continue to choose Cheney over his father?’ We’ll know soon.” (The White House
    and the
    Pentagon declined to respond to detailed requests for comment about this
    article, other
    than to say that there were unspecified inaccuracies.)

    A retired four-star general who worked closely with the first Bush
    Administration told me
    that the Gates nomination means that Scowcroft, Baker, the elder Bush, and his
    son “are
    saying that winning the election in 2008 is more important than the individual.
    The issue
    for them is how to preserve the Republican agenda. The Old Guard wants to
    isolate Cheney
    and give their girl, Condoleezza Rice”-the Secretary of State-“a chance to
    perform.” The
    combination of Scowcroft, Baker, and the senior Bush working together is, the
    general
    added, “tough enough to take on Cheney. One guy can’t do it.”

    Richard Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State in Bush’s first term, told me
    that he
    believed the Democratic election victory, followed by Rumsfeld’s dismissal,
    meant that
    the Administration “has backed off,” in terms of the pace of its planning for a
    military
    campaign against Iran. Gates and other decision-makers would now have more time
    to push
    for a diplomatic solution in Iran and deal with other, arguably more immediate
    issues.
    “Iraq is as bad as it looks, and Afghanistan is worse than it looks,” Armitage
    said. “A
    year ago, the Taliban were fighting us in units of eight to twelve, and now
    they’re
    sometimes in company-size, and even larger.” Bombing Iran and expecting the
    Iranian
    public “to rise up” and overthrow the government, as some in the White House
    believe,
    Armitage added, “is a fool’s errand.”

    “Iraq is the disaster we have to get rid of, and Iran is the disaster we have to
    avoid,”
    Joseph Cirincione, the vice-president for national security at the liberal
    Center for
    American Progress, said. “Gates will be in favor of talking to Iran and
    listening to the
    advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but the neoconservatives are still
    there”-in the
    White House-“and still believe that chaos would be a small price for getting rid
    of the
    threat. The danger is that Gates could be the new Colin Powell-the one who
    opposes the
    policy but ends up briefing the Congress and publicly supporting it.”

    Other sources close to the Bush family said that the machinations behind
    Rumsfeld’s
    resignation and the Gates nomination were complex, and the seeming triumph of
    the Old
    Guard may be illusory. The former senior intelligence official, who once worked
    closely
    with Gates and with the President’s father, said that Bush and his immediate
    advisers in
    the White House understood by mid-October that Rumsfeld would have to resign if
    the
    result of the midterm election was a resounding defeat. Rumsfeld was involved in
    conversations about the timing of his departure with Cheney, Gates, and the
    President
    before the election, the former senior intelligence official said. Critics who
    asked why
    Rumsfeld wasn’t fired earlier, a move that might have given the Republicans a
    boost, were
    missing the point. “A week before the election, the Republicans were saying that
    a
    Democratic victory was the seed of American retreat, and now Bush and Cheney are
    going to
    change their national-security policies?” the former senior intelligence
    official said.
    “Cheney knew this was coming. Dropping Rummy after the election looked like a
    conciliatory move-‘You’re right, Democrats. We got a new guy and we’re looking
    at all the
    options. Nothing is ruled out.’ ” But the conciliatory gesture would not be
    accompanied
    by a significant change in policy; instead, the White House saw Gates as someone
    who
    would have the credibility to help it stay the course on Iran and Iraq. Gates
    would also
    be an asset before Congress. If the Administration needed to make the case that
    Iran’s
    weapons program posed an imminent threat, Gates would be a better advocate than
    someone
    who had been associated with the flawed intelligence about Iraq. The former
    official
    said, “He’s not the guy who told us there were weapons of mass destruction in
    Iraq, and
    he’ll be taken seriously by Congress.”

    Once Gates is installed at the Pentagon, he will have to contend with Iran,
    Iraq,
    Afghanistan, the Rumsfeld legacy-and Dick Cheney. A former senior Bush
    Administration
    official, who has also worked with Gates, told me that Gates was well aware of
    the
    difficulties of his new job. He added that Gates would not simply endorse the
    Administration’s policies and say, “with a flag waving, ‘Go, go’ “-especially at
    the cost
    of his own reputation. “He does not want to see thirty-five years of government
    service
    go out the window,” the former official said. However, on the question of
    whether Gates
    would actively stand up to Cheney, the former official said, after a pause, “I
    don’t
    know.”

    Another critical issue for Gates will be the Pentagon’s expanding effort to
    conduct
    clandestine and covert intelligence missions overseas. Such activity has
    traditionally
    been the C.I.A.’s responsibility, but, as the result of a systematic push by
    Rumsfeld,
    military covert actions have been substantially increased. In the past six
    months, Israel
    and the United States have also been working together in support of a Kurdish
    resistance
    group known as the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan. The group has been
    conducting
    clandestine cross-border forays into Iran, I was told by a government consultant
    with
    close ties to the Pentagon civilian leadership, as “part of an effort to explore
    alternative means of applying pressure on Iran.” (The Pentagon has established
    covert
    relationships with Kurdish, Azeri, and Baluchi tribesmen, and has encouraged
    their
    efforts to undermine the regime’s authority in northern and southeastern Iran.)
    The
    government consultant said that Israel is giving the Kurdish group “equipment
    and
    training.” The group has also been given “a list of targets inside Iran of
    interest to
    the U.S.” (An Israeli government spokesman denied that Israel was involved.)

    Such activities, if they are considered military rather than intelligence
    operations, do
    not require congressional briefings. For a similar C.I.A. operation, the
    President would,
    by law, have to issue a formal finding that the mission was necessary, and the
    Administration would have to brief the senior leadership of the House and the
    Senate. The
    lack of such consultation annoyed some Democrats in Congress. This fall, I was
    told,
    Representative David Obey, of Wisconsin, the ranking Democrat on the House
    Appropriations
    subcommittee that finances classified military activity, pointedly asked, during
    a closed
    meeting of House and Senate members, whether “anyone has been briefing on the
    Administration’s plan for military activity in Iran.” The answer was no. (A
    spokesman for
    Obey confirmed this account.)

    The Democratic victories this month led to a surge of calls for the
    Administration to
    begin direct talks with Iran, in part to get its help in settling the conflict
    in Iraq.
    British Prime Minister Tony Blair broke ranks with President Bush after the
    election and
    declared that Iran should be offered “a clear strategic choice” that could
    include a “new
    partnership” with the West. But many in the White House and the Pentagon insist
    that
    getting tough with Iran is the only way to salvage Iraq. “It’s a classic case of
    ‘failure
    forward,'” a Pentagon consultant said. “They believe that by tipping over Iran
    they would
    recover their losses in Iraq-like doubling your bet. It would be an attempt to
    revive the
    concept of spreading democracy in the Middle East by creating one new model
    state.”

    The view that there is a nexus between Iran and Iraq has been endorsed by
    Condoleezza
    Rice, who said last month that Iran “does need to understand that it is not
    going to
    improve its own situation by stirring instability in Iraq,” and by the
    President, who
    said, in August, that “Iran is backing armed groups in the hope of stopping
    democracy
    from taking hold” in Iraq. The government consultant told me, “More and more
    people see
    the weakening of Iran as the only way to save Iraq.”

    The consultant added that, for some advocates of military action, “the goal in
    Iran is
    not regime change but a strike that will send a signal that America still can
    accomplish
    its goals. Even if it does not destroy Iran’s nuclear network, there are many
    who think
    that thirty-six hours of bombing is the only way to remind the Iranians of the
    very high
    cost of going forward with the bomb-and of supporting Moqtada al-Sadr and his
    pro-Iran
    element in Iraq.” (Sadr, who commands a Shiite militia, has religious ties to
    Iran.)

    In the current issue of Foreign Policy, Joshua Muravchik, a prominent
    neoconservative,
    argued that the Administration had little choice. “Make no mistake: President
    Bush will
    need to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities before leaving office,” he wrote. The
    President
    would be bitterly criticized for a preëmptive attack on Iran, Muravchik said,
    and so
    neoconservatives “need to pave the way intellectually now and be prepared to
    defend the
    action when it comes.”

    The main Middle East expert on the Vice-President’s staff is David Wurmser, a
    neoconservative who was a strident advocate for the invasion of Iraq and the
    overthrow of
    Saddam Hussein. Like many in Washington, Wurmser “believes that, so far, there’s
    been no
    price tag on Iran for its nuclear efforts and for its continuing agitation and
    intervention inside Iraq,” the consultant said. But, unlike those in the
    Administration
    who are calling for limited strikes, Wurmser and others in Cheney’s office “want
    to end
    the regime,” the consultant said. “They argue that there can be no settlement of
    the Iraq
    war without regime change in Iran.”

    The Administration’s planning for a military attack on Iran was made far more
    complicated
    earlier this fall by a highly classified draft assessment by the C.I.A.
    challenging the
    White House’s assumptions about how close Iran might be to building a nuclear
    bomb. The
    C.I.A. found no conclusive evidence, as yet, of a secret Iranian nuclear-weapons
    program
    running parallel to the civilian operations that Iran has declared to the
    International
    Atomic Energy Agency. (The C.I.A. declined to comment on this story.)

    The C.I.A.’s analysis, which has been circulated to other agencies for comment,
    was based
    on technical intelligence collected by overhead satellites, and on other
    empirical
    evidence, such as measurements of the radioactivity of water samples and smoke
    plumes
    from factories and power plants. Additional data have been gathered,
    intelligence sources
    told me, by high-tech (and highly classified) radioactivity-detection devices
    that
    clandestine American and Israeli agents placed near suspected nuclear-weapons
    facilities
    inside Iran in the past year or so. No significant amounts of radioactivity were
    found.

    A current senior intelligence official confirmed the existence of the C.I.A.
    analysis,
    and told me that the White House had been hostile to it. The White House’s
    dismissal of
    the C.I.A. findings on Iran is widely known in the intelligence community.
    Cheney and his
    aides discounted the assessment, the former senior intelligence official said.
    “They’re
    not looking for a smoking gun,” the official added, referring to specific
    intelligence
    about Iranian nuclear planning. “They’re looking for the degree of comfort level
    they
    think they need to accomplish the mission.” The Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence
    Agency
    also challenged the C.I.A.’s analysis. “The D.I.A. is fighting the agency’s
    conclusions,
    and disputing its approach,” the former senior intelligence official said. Bush
    and
    Cheney, he added, can try to prevent the C.I.A. assessment from being
    incorporated into a
    forthcoming National Intelligence Estimate on Iranian nuclear capabilities, “but
    they
    can’t stop the agency from putting it out for comment inside the intelligence
    community.”
    The C.I.A. assessment warned the White House that it would be a mistake to
    conclude that
    the failure to find a secret nuclear-weapons program in Iran merely meant that
    the
    Iranians had done a good job of hiding it. The former senior intelligence
    official noted
    that at the height of the Cold War the Soviets were equally skilled at deception
    and
    misdirection, yet the American intelligence community was readily able to
    unravel the
    details of their long-range-missile and nuclear-weapons programs. But some in
    the White
    House, including in Cheney’s office, had made just such an assumption-that “the
    lack of
    evidence means they must have it,” the former official said.

    Iran is a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, under which it is entitled
    to
    conduct nuclear research for peaceful purposes. Despite the offer of trade
    agreements and
    the prospect of military action, it defied a demand by the I.A.E.A. and the
    Security
    Council, earlier this year, that it stop enriching uranium-a process that can
    produce
    material for nuclear power plants as well as for weapons-and it has been unable,
    or
    unwilling, to account for traces of plutonium and highly enriched uranium that
    have been
    detected during I.A.E.A. inspections. The I.A.E.A. has complained about a lack
    of
    “transparency,” although, like the C.I.A., it has not found unambiguous evidence
    of a
    secret weapons program.

    Last week, Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced that Iran had made
    further
    progress in its enrichment research program, and said, “We know that some
    countries may
    not be pleased.” He insisted that Iran was abiding by international agreements,
    but said,
    “Time is now completely on the side of the Iranian people.” A diplomat in
    Vienna, where
    the I.A.E.A. has its headquarters, told me that the agency was skeptical of the
    claim,
    for technical reasons. But Ahmadinejad’s defiant tone did nothing to diminish
    suspicions
    about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

    “There is no evidence of a large-scale covert enrichment program inside Iran,”
    one
    involved European diplomat said. “But the Iranians would not have launched
    themselves
    into a very dangerous confrontation with the West on the basis of a weapons
    program that
    they no longer pursue. Their enrichment program makes sense only in terms of
    wanting
    nuclear weapons. It would be inconceivable if they weren’t cheating to some
    degree. You
    don’t need a covert program to be concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. We
    have
    enough information to be concerned without one. It’s not a slam dunk, but it’s
    close to
    it.”

    There are, however, other possible reasons for Iran’s obstinacy. The nuclear
    program-peaceful or not-is a source of great national pride, and President
    Ahmadinejad’s
    support for it has helped to propel him to enormous popularity. (Saddam Hussein
    created
    confusion for years, inside and outside his country, about whether Iraq had
    weapons of
    mass destruction, in part to project an image of strength.) According to the
    former
    senior intelligence official, the C.I.A.’s assessment suggested that Iran might
    even see
    some benefits in a limited military strike-especially one that did not succeed
    in fully
    destroying its nuclear program-in that an attack might enhance its position in
    the
    Islamic world. “They learned that in the Iraqi experience, and relearned it in
    southern
    Lebanon,” the former senior official said. In both cases, a more powerful
    military force
    had trouble achieving its military or political goals; in Lebanon, Israel’s war
    against
    Hezbollah did not destroy the group’s entire arsenal of rockets, and increased
    the
    popularity of its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

    The former senior intelligence official added that the C.I.A. assessment raised
    the
    possibility that an American attack on Iran could end up serving as a rallying
    point to
    unite Sunni and Shiite populations. “An American attack will paper over any
    differences
    in the Arab world, and we’ll have Syrians, Iranians, Hamas, and Hezbollah
    fighting
    against us-and the Saudis and the Egyptians questioning their ties to the West.
    It’s an
    analyst’s worst nightmare-for the first time since the caliphate there will be
    common
    cause in the Middle East.” (An Islamic caliphate ruled the Middle East for over
    six
    hundred years, until the thirteenth century.)

    According to the Pentagon consultant, “The C.I.A.’s view is that, without more
    intelligence, a large-scale bombing attack would not stop Iran’s nuclear
    program. And a
    low-end campaign of subversion and sabotage would play into Iran’s
    hands-bolstering
    support for the religious leadership and deepening anti-American Muslim rage.”

    The Pentagon consultant said that he and many of his colleagues in the military
    believe
    that Iran is intent on developing nuclear-weapons capability. But he added that
    the Bush
    Administration’s options for dealing with that threat are diminished, because of
    a lack
    of good intelligence and also because “we’ve cried wolf” before.

    As the C.I.A.’s assessment was making its way through the government, late this
    summer,
    current and former military officers and consultants told me, a new element
    suddenly
    emerged: intelligence from Israeli spies operating inside Iran claimed that Iran
    has
    developed and tested a trigger device for a nuclear bomb. The provenance and
    significance
    of the human intelligence, or HUMINT, are controversial. “The problem is that no
    one can
    verify it,” the former senior intelligence official told me. “We don’t know who
    the
    Israeli source is. The briefing says the Iranians are testing trigger
    mechanisms”-simulating a zero-yield nuclear explosion without any weapons-grade
    materials-“but there are no diagrams, no significant facts. Where is the test
    site? How
    often have they done it? How big is the warhead-a breadbox or a refrigerator?
    They don’t
    have that.” And yet, he said, the report was being used by White House hawks
    within the
    Administration to “prove the White House’s theory that the Iranians are on
    track. And
    tests leave no radioactive track, which is why we can’t find it.” Still, he
    said, “The
    agency is standing its ground.”

    The Pentagon consultant, however, told me that he and other intelligence
    professionals
    believe that the Israeli intelligence should be taken more seriously. “We live
    in an era
    when national technical intelligence”-data from satellites and on-the-ground
    sensors-“will not get us what we need. HUMINT may not be hard evidence by that
    standard,
    but very often it’s the best intelligence we can get.” He added, with obvious
    exasperation, that within the intelligence community “we’re going to be fighting
    over the
    quality of the information for the next year.” One reason for the dispute, he
    said, was
    that the White House had asked to see the “raw”-the original, unanalyzed and
    unvetted-Israeli intelligence. Such “stovepiping” of intelligence had led to
    faulty
    conclusions about nonexistent weapons of mass destruction during the buildup to
    the 2003
    Iraq war. “Many Presidents in the past have done the same thing,” the consultant
    said,
    “but intelligence professionals are always aghast when Presidents ask for stuff
    in the
    raw. They see it as asking a second grader to read ‘Ulysses.’ ”

    HUMINT can be difficult to assess. Some of the most politically significant-and
    most
    inaccurate-intelligence about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction came
    from an
    operative, known as Curveball, who was initially supplied to the C.I.A. by
    German
    intelligence. But the Pentagon consultant insisted that, in this case, “the
    Israeli
    intelligence is apparently very strong.” He said that the information about the
    trigger
    device had been buttressed by another form of highly classified data, known as
    MASINT,
    for “measuring and signature” intelligence. The Defense Intelligence Agency is
    the
    central processing and dissemination point for such intelligence, which includes
    radar,
    radio, nuclear, and electro-optical data. The consultant said that the MASINT
    indicated
    activities that “are not consistent with the programs” Iran has declared to the
    I.A.E.A.
    “The intelligence suggests far greater sophistication and more advanced
    development,” the
    consultant said. “The indications don’t make sense, unless they’re farther along
    in some
    aspects of their nuclear-weapons program than we know.”

    In early 2004, John Bolton, who was then the Under-Secretary of State for Arms
    Control
    (he is now the United Nations Ambassador), privately conveyed to the I.A.E.A.
    suspicions
    that Iran was conducting research into the intricately timed detonation of
    conventional
    explosives needed to trigger a nuclear warhead at Parchin, a sensitive facility
    twenty
    miles southeast of Tehran that serves as the center of Iran’s Defense Industries
    Organization. A wide array of chemical munitions and fuels, as well as advanced
    antitank
    and ground-to-air missiles, are manufactured there, and satellite imagery
    appeared to
    show a bunker suitable for testing very large explosions.

    A senior diplomat in Vienna told me that, in response to the allegations,
    I.A.E.A.
    inspectors went to Parchin in November of 2005, after months of negotiation. An
    inspection team was allowed to single out a specific site at the base, and then
    was
    granted access to a few buildings there. “We found no evidence of nuclear
    materials,” the
    diplomat said. The inspectors looked hard at an underground explosive-testing
    pit that,
    he said, “resembled what South Africa had when it developed its nuclear
    weapons,” three
    decades ago. The pit could have been used for the kind of kinetic research
    needed to test
    a nuclear trigger. But, like so many military facilities with dual-use
    potential, “it
    also could be used for other things,” such as testing fuel for rockets, which
    routinely
    takes place at Parchin. “The Iranians have demonstrated that they can enrich
    uranium,”
    the diplomat added, “and trigger tests without nuclear yield can be done. But
    it’s a very
    sophisticated process-it’s also known as hydrodynamic testing-and only countries
    with
    suitably advanced nuclear testing facilities as well as the necessary scientific
    expertise can do it. I’d be very skeptical that Iran could do it.”

    Earlier this month, the allegations about Parchin reëmerged when Yediot
    Ahronot,
    Israel’s largest newspaper, reported that recent satellite imagery showed new
    “massive
    construction” at Parchin, suggesting an expansion of underground tunnels and
    chambers.
    The newspaper sharply criticized the I.A.E.A.’s inspection process and its
    director, Dr.
    Mohamed ElBaradei, for his insistence on “using very neutral wording for his
    findings and
    his conclusions.”

    Patrick Clawson, an expert on Iran who is the deputy director for research at
    the
    Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a conservative think tank, told me
    that the
    “biggest moment” of tension has yet to arrive: “How does the United States keep
    an
    Israeli decision point-one that may come sooner than we want-from being
    reached?” Clawson
    noted that there is evidence that Iran has been slowed by technical problems in
    the
    construction and operation of two small centrifuge cascades, which are essential
    for the
    pilot production of enriched uranium. Both are now under I.A.E.A. supervision.
    “Why were
    they so slow in getting the second cascade up and running?” Clawson asked. “And
    why
    haven’t they run the first one as much as they said they would? Do we have more
    time?

    “Why talk about war?” he said. “We’re not talking about going to war with North
    Korea or
    Venezuela. It’s not necessarily the case that Iran has started a weapons
    program, and
    it’s conceivable-just conceivable-that Iran does not have a nuclear-weapons
    program yet.
    We can slow them down-force them to reinvent the wheel-without bombing,
    especially if the
    international conditions get better.”

    Clawson added that Secretary of State Rice has “staked her reputation on
    diplomacy, and
    she will not risk her career without evidence. Her team is saying, ‘What’s the
    rush?’ The
    President wants to solve the Iranian issue before leaving office, but he may
    have to say,
    ‘Darn, I wish I could have solved it.’ ”

    Earlier this year, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert created
    a task
    force to coördinate all the available intelligence on Iran. The task force,
    which is led
    by Major General Eliezer Shkedi, the head of the Israeli Air Force, reports
    directly to
    the Prime Minister. In late October, Olmert appointed Ephraim Sneh, a Labor
    Party member
    of the Knesset, to serve as Deputy Defense Minister. Sneh, who served previously
    in that
    position under Ehud Barak, has for years insisted that action be taken to
    prevent Iran
    from getting the bomb. In an interview this month with the Jerusalem Post, Sneh
    expressed
    skepticism about the effectiveness of diplomacy or international sanctions in
    curbing
    Iran:

    The danger isn’t as much Ahmadinejad’s deciding to launch an attack but Israel’s
    living
    under a dark cloud of fear from a leader committed to its destruction. . . .
    Most
    Israelis would prefer not to live here; most Jews would prefer not to come here
    with
    families, and Israelis who can live abroad will . . . I am afraid Ahmadinejad
    will be
    able to kill the Zionist dream without pushing a button. That’s why we must
    prevent this
    regime from obtaining nuclear capability at all costs.

    A similar message was delivered by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud leader, in a
    speech in
    Los Angeles last week. “It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany. And Iran is racing to arm
    itself
    with atomic bombs,” he said, adding that there was “still time” to stop the
    Iranians.

    The Pentagon consultant told me that, while there may be pressure from the
    Israelis,
    “they won’t do anything on their own without our green light.” That assurance,
    he said,
    “comes from the Cheney shop. It’s Cheney himself who is saying, ‘We’re not going
    to leave
    you high and dry, but don’t go without us.’ ” A senior European diplomat agreed:
    “For
    Israel, it is a question of life or death. The United States does not want to go
    into
    Iran, but, if Israel feels more and more cornered, there may be no other
    choice.”

    A nuclear-armed Iran would not only threaten Israel. It could trigger a
    strategic-arms
    race throughout the Middle East, as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt-all led by
    Sunni
    governments-would be compelled to take steps to defend themselves. The Bush
    Administration, if it does take military action against Iran, would have support
    from
    Democrats as well as Republicans. Senators Hillary Clinton, of New York, and
    Evan Bayh,
    of Indiana, who are potential Democratic Presidential candidates, have warned
    that Iran
    cannot be permitted to build a bomb and that-as Clinton said earlier this
    year-“we cannot
    take any option off the table.” Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic
    National
    Committee, has also endorsed this view. Last May, Olmert was given a rousing
    reception
    when he addressed a joint session of Congress and declared, “A nuclear Iran
    means a
    terrorist state could achieve the primary mission for which terrorists live and
    die-the
    mass destruction of innocent human life. This challenge, which I believe is the
    test of
    our time, is one the West cannot afford to fail.”

    Despite such rhetoric, Leslie Gelb, a former State Department official who is a
    president
    emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, said he believes that, “when push
    comes to
    shove, the Israelis will have a hard time selling the idea that an Iranian
    nuclear
    capability is imminent. The military and the State Department will be flat
    against a
    preëmptive bombing campaign.” Gelb said he hoped that Gates’s appointment would
    add
    weight to America’s most pressing issue-“to get some level of Iranian restraint
    inside
    Iraq. In the next year or two, we’re much more likely to be negotiating with
    Iran than
    bombing it.”

    The Bush Administration remains publicly committed to a diplomatic solution to
    the
    Iranian nuclear impasse, and has been working with China, Russia, France,
    Germany, and
    Britain to get negotiations under way. So far, that effort has foundered; the
    most recent
    round of talks broke up early in November, amid growing disagreements with
    Russia and
    China about the necessity of imposing harsh United Nations sanctions on the
    Iranian
    regime. President Bush is adamant that Iran must stop all of its enrichment
    programs
    before any direct talks involving the United States can begin.

    The senior European diplomat told me that the French President, Jacques Chirac,
    and
    President Bush met in New York on September 19th, as the new U.N. session was
    beginning,
    and agreed on what the French called the “Big Bang” approach to breaking the
    deadlock
    with Iran. A scenario was presented to Ali Larijani, the chief Iranian
    negotiator on
    nuclear issues. The Western delegation would sit down at a negotiating table
    with Iran.
    The diplomat told me, “We would say, ‘We’re beginning the negotiations without
    preconditions,’ and the Iranians would respond, ‘We will suspend.’ Our side
    would
    register great satisfaction, and the Iranians would agree to accept I.A.E.A.
    inspection
    of their enrichment facilities. And then the West would announce, in return,
    that they
    would suspend any U.N. sanctions.” The United States would not be at the table
    when the
    talks began but would join later. Larijani took the offer to Tehran; the answer,
    as
    relayed by Larijani, was no, the diplomat said. “We were trying to compromise,
    for all
    sides, but Ahmadinejad did not want to save face,” the diplomat said. “The
    beautiful
    scenario has gone nowhere.”

    Last week, there was a heightened expectation that the Iraq Study Group would
    produce a
    set of recommendations that could win bipartisan approval and guide America out
    of the
    quagmire in Iraq. Sources with direct knowledge of the panel’s proceedings have
    told me
    that the group, as of mid-November, had ruled out calling for an immediate and
    complete
    American withdrawal but would recommend focussing on the improved training of
    Iraqi
    forces and on redeploying American troops. In the most significant
    recommendation, Baker
    and Hamilton were expected to urge President Bush to do what he has thus far
    refused to
    do-bring Syria and Iran into a regional conference to help stabilize Iraq.

    It is not clear whether the Administration will be receptive. In August,
    according to the
    former senior intelligence official, Rumsfeld asked the Joint Chiefs to quietly
    devise
    alternative plans for Iraq, to preëmpt new proposals, whether they come from
    the new
    Democratic majority or from the Iraq Study Group. “The option of last resort is
    to move
    American forces out of the cities and relocate them along the Syrian and Iranian
    border,”
    the former official said. “Civilians would be hired to train the Iraqi police,
    with the
    eventual goal of separating the local police from the Iraqi military. The White
    House
    believes that if American troops stay in Iraq long enough-with enough troops-the
    bad guys
    will end up killing each other, and Iraqi citizens, fed up with internal strife,
    will
    come up with a solution. It’ll take a long time to move the troops and train the
    police.
    It’s a time line to infinity.”

    In a subsequent interview, the former senior Bush Administration official said
    that he
    had also been told that the Pentagon has been at work on a plan in Iraq that
    called for a
    military withdrawal from the major urban areas to a series of fortified bases
    near the
    borders. The working assumption was that, with the American troops gone from the
    most
    heavily populated places, the sectarian violence would “burn out.” “The White
    House is
    saying it’s going to stabilize,” the former senior Administration official said,
    “but it
    may stabilize the wrong way.”

    One problem with the proposal that the Administration enlist Iran in reaching a
    settlement of the conflict in Iraq is that it’s not clear that Iran would be
    interested,
    especially if the goal is to help the Bush Administration extricate itself from
    a bad
    situation.

    “Iran is emerging as a dominant power in the Middle East,” I was told by a
    Middle East
    expert and former senior Administration official. “With a nuclear program, and
    an ability
    to interfere throughout the region, it’s basically calling the shots. Why should
    they
    coöperate with us over Iraq?” He recounted a recent meeting with Mahmoud
    Ahmadinejad,
    who challenged Bush’s right to tell Iran that it could not enrich uranium. “Why
    doesn’t
    America stop enriching uranium?” the Iranian President asked. He laughed, and
    added,
    “We’ll enrich it for you and sell it to you at a fifty-per-cent discount.”

  3. San Francisco Labor Council Resolution – Adopted by Unanimous Vote Nov. 27, 2006

    Resolution on Threat of Military Action Against Iran

    Whereas, no evidence has been offered that Iran possesses weapons of mass destruction, even after many inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency; yet the Bush administration continues to threaten aggressive measures against Iran on the grounds that Iran may be developing nuclear weapons; and

    Whereas, the U.S. government seeks to impose U.N. sanctions on Iran for continuing to develop its uranium enrichment program, which Iran asserts is strictly for non-military production of nuclear energy. At least ten other nations enrich uranium in order to produce nuclear energy, and the US is not threatening to attack them; and

    Whereas, Iran has signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and was the first state to call for a Nuclear-Free Zone in the Middle East; and

    Whereas, Israel, Pakistan, India, North Korea, as well as China, France, the U.S., Russia, and Great Britain — all have nuclear weapons, with the U.S. possessing a larger stockpile than of all the rest of the world combined; and

    Whereas, the U.S. government campaign against Iran’s development of enriched uranium appears to be much like the misinformation campaign waged by the Bush administration before the war on Iraq to justify its unprovoked invasion and occupation of Iraq; now the Bush administration once again seeks to stoke unjustified fears to win public support for military action against Iran; and.

    Whereas, the U.S. government has dispatched a Navy carrier group to the Persian Gulf off Iran’s western coast, as well as ships capable of mining harbors, for naval exercises that some observers believe could serve as the prelude to an attack or other military action, such as mining Iran’s harbors; and

    Whereas, published reports of intelligence recently gathered by U.S. Special Operations forces in Iran suggest that the U.S. has identified hundreds of targets in Iran, in preparation for a possible military attack on that country; and

    Whereas, the U.S. government has a long history of interference in the internal affairs of Iran, including the well-documented CIA-engineered 1953 overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, who nationalized Iran’s oil; and the US role in installing and backing the brutal regime of the Shah of Iran;

    Therefore be it resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO, hereby declares its opposition to U.S. military action against Iran, and urges all organizations with which it is affiliated to demand that Congress take measures to prevent any such military assault, and rather, to promote diplomatic non-military solutions to any disputes with Iran; and

    Be it finally resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council join with other antiwar forces to organize mass popular opposition to any military assault on Iran, and to respond rapidly should such an assault occur.

  4. MySpace users angry about Fox’ Rupert Murdoch Comments: 3
    Date: 8/2/05 at 10:48PM
    Mood: Looking Playing: Hit the road, Rupert

    ABC, SAN FRANCISCO Aug 2, 2005 — There’s a Fox in MySpace, and bloggers are squawking.

    Nervous members of the wildly popular online social networking spot are blasting its purchase by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., expressing dark fears about the powerful billionaire’s alleged motives and the possibility of privacy breaches, monitoring, censorship and access fees.

    “It’s something we’re very concerned about,” said Scott Swiecki, 34, of Tempe Ariz., who’s a member of the MySpace group “Faux News” as well as another group that combines the Murdoch name with an expletive.

    “There are a lot of counterculture people on MySpace. My concern is Fox will add fees and censor content.”

    News Corp. purchased Intermix Media Inc., the owner of MySpace, for $580 million last month, mainly so that Fox Interactive Media can reach the site’s 22 million registered users.

    MySpace, which launched just two years ago, is currently the most popular social networking site in the world.

    It makes it easy for people to customize their home pages with personal photos, art, color and music, along with market-revealing lists of favorite activities, books, music and films.

    Users can get site-wide bulletins, but they mostly communicate with friends or intriguing strangers they’ve expressly allowed into a network.

    Bands often use the site to debut their music.

  5. Google cache of Dear Kitty Modblog:

    MySpace users angry about Fox’ Rupert Murdoch Linking: 2 Comments: 3

    Date: 8/2/05 at 10:48PM

    Mood: Looking Playing: Hit the road, Rupert

    SAN FRANCISCO Aug 2, 2005 — There’s a Fox in MySpace, and bloggers are squawking.

    Nervous members of the wildly popular online social networking spot are blasting its purchase by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., expressing dark fears about the powerful billionaire’s alleged motives and the possibility of privacy breaches, monitoring, censorship and access fees.

    “It’s something we’re very concerned about,” said Scott Swiecki, 34, of Tempe Ariz., who’s a member of the MySpace group “Faux News” as well as another group that combines the Murdoch name with an expletive.

    “There are a lot of counterculture people on MySpace. My concern is Fox will add fees and censor content.”

    News Corp. purchased Intermix Media Inc., the owner of MySpace, for $580 million last month, mainly so that Fox Interactive Media can reach the site’s 22 million registered users.

    MySpace, which launched just two years ago, is currently the most popular social networking site in the world.

    It makes it easy for people to customize their home pages with personal photos, art, color and music, along with market-revealing lists of favorite activities, books, music and films.

    Users can get site-wide bulletins, but they mostly communicate with friends or intriguing strangers they’ve expressly allowed into a network.

    Bands often use the site to debut their music.

  6. 2/4/05 at 7:26PM

    Mood: Guess Playing: California girly men, by the Beach Girls

    Again, from US blog Thinkprogress, with different hyperlinks there than here:

    “Fox Bankrolling Schwarzenegger

    According to the San Jose Mercury News, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Republican-California) pocketed “more than $450,000 from Fox subsidiary News America, which owns newspapers, including the New York Post, and the book publisher HarperCollins.”

    It’s pretty clear, as the Mercury News notes, that despite his promises to rid California of special interests, Schwarzenegger’s administration is being “fueled by six- and seven-figure special-interest donations.”

    What’ s news here is that Fox is now in the business of financially supporting economically conservative political candidates for high office. Sure, General Electric may own NBC and it makes political donations.

    But that is a far cry from a major news organization giving directly to candidates. Granted, it’s the right-wing cabal of Fox/NY Post/HarperCollins, so we all knew where their ideology was anyway. But this sure does put a fork in the whole “fair and balanced,” “We report, you decide” mantra.”

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