No Room for Smugness on Iran
There’s a “Lucy-yanks-the-football-away-from-Charlie-Brown” quality to how Americans are handled each time a new war with a foreign “enemy” is being sold. There’s a slightly varied pitch and the public belatedly learns it’s been conned, as is now happening with Iran, notes ex-U.S. intelligence analyst Elizabeth Murray.
By Elizabeth Murray
I remember thinking smugly to myself in late 2002/early 2003: “Those neocons will never be able to launch their much-desired war in Iraq; their lies are so blatant; their allegations are nonsense; and the world is against them.”
I felt so confident that reason and logic would win out. What a hard lesson the past eight years have been!
And so, while I’m pleased to see many voices of reason countering the latest warmongering on Iran with excellent articles and effective rebuttals in the media (Gideon Levy’s recent piece in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz and the analysis of the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report by former IAEA inspector Robert Kelley, to name two), I know that warmongers never let facts or public opinion get in the way of their goals.
I have learned from bitter experience that they will create their own facts to paper over the truth as needed.
In the months leading up to the March 2003 attack on Iraq, I was the senior Iraq media analyst at the U.S. government’s Open Source Center (then run by CIA, but now under the aegis of the Director of National Intelligence). My branch received a large number of taskings from senior government officials with regard to the content and nature of Iraqi media reporting.
The office that inundated our branch with the greatest number of taskings was that of then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, which barraged us with repeated requests to scour Iraqi media for evidence of an operational relationship between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and al-Qa’ida.
Exercising due diligence, we leveraged our network of overseas resources, and checked and double-checked with our highly capable field staff, even seeking out obscure newspapers from remote Iraqi provinces — and each time came up empty-handed.
And yet, the same tasking would resurface from Wolfowitz’s office every few weeks, each time with greater urgency — the unspoken implication being that some evidence had to exist and we were simply not looking hard enough.
I have since learned that U.S. interrogators were subjected to the same shaming, and that the extreme pressure to come up with some link between Iraq and al-Qaeda was a key factor in the torture techniques approved for Guantanamo, Afghanistan and Iraq.
(As for the all-source analysts at CIA headquarters, the CIA ombudsman testified to Congress that, in his 32 years as a substantive intelligence officer, he had never seen such severe “hammering” on analysts to come up with might be called “the missing link.”)
So I asked Wolfowitz’s office on more than one occasion to provide us with the original source of the allegation of an Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship as a means of helping us to corroborate it. We never received a response.
As it turned out, the countless hours that my office labored on this tasking — at great expense to U.S. taxpayers, I might add, were an utter waste of time, since the allegations proved to be false — yet another fabrication designed to drum up public support for a post-9/11 attack on Iraq.
By 2006 — three years into the war — the Bush administration finally admitted it had no evidence of an Iraqi role in the 9/11 attacks. But the U.S. continued its role in the destruction of that country, the facts notwithstanding.
A Nation With Alzheimer’s?
So, returning to the current Iran campaign: When well-placed former intelligence experts began poking holes in the report about a supposed Iranian assassination attempt against the Saudi ambassador to Washington a few weeks ago, it faded from the headlines. Enter a much-hyped IAEA report alleging that Iran is moving, maybe, toward nuclear weaponization.
We are now learning from highly credible experts that the IAEA report actually contains little, if any, new evidence to substantiate allegations about ongoing Iranian progress toward nuclear weaponization. The report mostly rehashes old material.
Will it matter if there is no reliable evidence that Iran has an active program for nuclear weaponization? Or will the warmongers, with the indispensable help of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM), simply march inexorably onward in their campaign to drum up support for a military attack against Iran?
Have we learned nothing over the past decade? Or will people and governments across the globe — invigorated and inspired, perhaps, by the positive force of the global “Occupy” movements — stand up, push back, and finally topple the world’s purveyors of myth-based military attacks?
We can begin by rejecting violence — the violence of war, the violence of poverty, the violence of racism and oppression — a cycle which produces nothing but future episodes of violence.
As the “Occupy” movements have ably shown, it is possible to ignite social, political and economic change — even forcing a shift in the daily discourse of the FCM — through nonviolent resistance to injustice.
People of principle everywhere, from all walks of life — from civil servants to members of the armed services; from shift workers to white-collar “suits” ensconced in the glass-and-steel towers of the corporatocracy — can choose to resist the forces of violence every day in quiet, principled and nonviolent ways.
These daily acts of conscience can bring about a force for good that will serve the long-term interests of people everywhere (please see dontattackiran.org and october2011.org for examples).
The choice to act is a highly personal one, but the repercussions of that choice will be felt collectively, for generations to come.
Elizabeth Murray served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).