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.

Former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz

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 and 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).

23 comments for “No Room for Smugness on Iran

  1. November 23, 2011 at 19:03

    The mainstream media on Iraq was either a cheerleader or was neutral on their reporting. The mainstream media including the television networks were complicit in promoting fabrications and did not challenge the national government.

    It clear that courageous people are very rare indeed in challenging the status quo. Paychecks, power, influence are the currency of our era, or maybe all eras. George Washington stated it well, “Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.” We need more heroes in peacetime than in war, that is the lesson of history.

  2. Morgaine Bergman
    November 18, 2011 at 17:05

    The problem with history repeating itself is that Americans only remember about one nanosecond’s worth of history, and what they do remember tends to be entirely personal; therefore as far as most people are concerned, there is no history to be repeated and any suggestion to the contrary is just one great, all-encompassing conspiracy theory to be ridiculed and ignored without thought for any consequences. If people remembered history, they would all be out on the streets right now, defending their rapidly dwindling rights and demanding justice and accountability from the people who claim to govern on their behalves. The fact that many people still don’t understand this necessity is a testament to the extent of our national amnesia.

  3. US jack
    November 16, 2011 at 23:53

    would stronger language help, please, your welcome, thank you, & g.o.d. bless, even if it goes by some other name

  4. November 16, 2011 at 23:01

    You’re correct. The neocons won’t let the facts get in their way. Nevertheless, for the rest of us here are some facts on the latest IAEA report —

    • rosemerry
      November 17, 2011 at 11:26

      Thanks very much for that great link. I will remember that in future.
      It seems that the USA has violated at least articles 1,5 and 6 with its dealings with Israel, India, and of course Iran.

  5. Barbey L. Cornett
    November 16, 2011 at 22:10

    I guess you Liberals have another explaination for the fact that the North Koreans are living in Iran and helping the Iranians with their Nuclear and Missle Technology right now as I type this!

    • US jack
      November 16, 2011 at 23:49

      ambigiosly you should add, haire I’ll do it, most undoubabablahly ambigious, yep that’s ambigious, I’ve seen it before & that’s DEFINITLY ambigious, yep sure is

      • mooky
        November 17, 2011 at 09:43

        you been drinking what Senator Rick drinks urwhat?

        what ARE you attempting to say/

        • lin
          November 17, 2011 at 15:56

          ambiguity, i’d say, quite clearly it’s ambiguity. see?

    • Ma
      November 19, 2011 at 23:43

      Now you were not expected to leak classified information, get prepared for life in imprisonment!!

  6. A. Alvarez
    November 16, 2011 at 21:48

    Back in 2002-2003 I began to wonder if I was living in the “Ground-Hog Day” time warp again. I was in the service during our entry into the Vietnam war and I remember LBJ’s, McNamara’s and Gen. Westmoreland speeches as if they were yesterday. So when I heard Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz’s selling of the Iraq war to the American public, I immediately assumed that they had hired the same speech writers/propagandists. They had not, but I bet they were bred at the same propaganda farm. Now, here we go again. This time less than 10 years from the last fatal mistake. Will we ever learn? We can’t even afford to fix the highways we drive on and we are contemplating going to war? Here’s a thought from Rudyard Kipling’s “Epitaphs of War,” that’s so appropriate for the last administration and should make us all ponder where we are going next?: Now all my lies are proved untrue, and I must face the men I slew, What tales shall serve me here among, Mine angry and defrauded young.

    • mooky
      November 17, 2011 at 09:45

      Is that you Adam??

  7. Norman
    November 16, 2011 at 20:50

    How does the saying go; “strike while the iron’s hot”? Reelection time is upon us, the “O” has been effectively bottle necked by the Repuglicons as well as his own party, as well as the elites. If the mad men in this country can get their way, “O” will go along with bombing Iran by Israel, which will not result in anything but drive the price of oil through the roof, thereby crippling the worlds economy as well as bring the U.S. to its knees. That should then be enough to defeat “O” in his reelection bid, but could install a 3rd party candidate, providing who ever it is convinces the public that he/she will be better for the country then what ever fool[s] the 2 party’s run.

    • US jack
      November 16, 2011 at 23:44

      yeah the anti beast oughta be arriving anytime now, did I say beast sorry mc fly, I meent znake

  8. Hillary
    November 16, 2011 at 20:25

    In America, many have failed to wake up to reality.

    The domination of neocons and AIPAC is almost total.

    The U.S. has failed completely in solving the conflict in the ME.

    Many countries in the Western World are on the WRONG SIDE of History.

    Incredible as it seems Israel wants to attack Iran.

    Americans need to be told the full ramifications of Israel’s Samson Option.

    Martin Van Creveld, Israel’s most senior and internationally respected military analyst quote—-
    “Our armed forces, however, are not the thirtieth strongest in the world, but rather the second or third. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes

    Israel represents the greatest threat to world peace as we are staring into the abyss.

    • flat5
      November 17, 2011 at 00:02

      you certainly have it ass backwards..

      • Hillary
        November 17, 2011 at 09:49

        Under any reasonable definition of terrorism, Israeli, UK, and US threats to attack Iran constitute terrorism.

        BTW before you start —Iran’s President Did Not Say “Israel must be wiped off the map”

        For over sixty years the Zionist ,Apartheid Israel Entity , has been trying to entice Iran’s ~50,000 strong Jewish community to decamp to Israel, but the loyal-to-Iran descendants of ancient Persian Jewry will have no truck with the Zionists and have consistently refused all entreaties.

        Another uncomfortable fact that the Zionist Propaganda Machine would rather you did NOT know.

        • flat5
          November 21, 2011 at 16:36

          I thought Neville Chamberlain, and the US isolationists were long gone, but their spirit is alive and well, along with your “Zionist Apartheid Israel Entity” crap. Seig Heil up yours!

      • Aaron
        November 19, 2011 at 12:49

        Iran hasn’t invaded or waged wars of aggression in the last 20th Century whereas Israel has, and still occupies foreign land to this day. What’s your point ?

        • flat5
          November 21, 2011 at 16:40

          What about the Iraq-Iran war? What about the breaking of International Law when they took American hostages? What about the war of agression against women and children such as the hanging of juveniles? “Occupies foreign land” is just pure b.s. When you are attacked and win a war, taking over land comes with the territory, especially since it was used since 1948, as a staging ground to attack Israel.

          • sam
            November 21, 2011 at 17:37

            I thought it was the world that attacked the Palestinians in 1948 and made 2 million of them homeless overnight!! But Im sure that you would have done nothing about being stripped of everything just caz the UN said so!!

          • vo5
            November 21, 2011 at 19:39

            Taking over land “does NOT come with the territory” even if the occupying country is attacked first (which Israel was not, incidentally, in 1967 (another oft repeated MSM falsehood). The settlements in the West Bank violate the Geneva convention and 60 UN resolutions.

  9. November 16, 2011 at 19:55

    The story of this last decade is, in fact, that propaganda works in the short term to fool large segments of the populace. But eventually like crying wolf, it doesn’t work as well on the next go-rounds. The key is to recruit more truth-tellers!

Comments are closed.