…Fear Based on Fact?

While I work on pledge drive, I torment myself by playing CNNMSNBCFOX in the background. Today’s tortured viewing included a rerun of A Nuclear Iran: The Expert Intel.

It wasn’t as bad as one might expect –the calm measured Hillary Mann Leverett was given a reasonable about of airtime given the forum. Still, one doesn’t need to sit through a ponderous Christiane Amanpour interview to learn the facts of the matter.

Below, Antiwar Radio’s Scott Horton in a this now classic clip demolishing the case for war with Iran in under seven minutes.

AP Iran Scare Piece Proves Itself Wrong

Where’s old Doc Prather when we need him? George Jahn, the David Sanger of the Associated Press, has a scary new piece out. And though the story seems to have gotten plenty of attention with it’s big headline “Iran Prez Said Pushing for Nukes,” on further inspection the “Said” amounts to, well, pretty much nothing:

“Iran’s president wants to shed the nation’s secrecy and forge ahead openly with developing nuclear weapons but is opposed by the clerical leadership, which is worried about international reaction to such a move, says an intelligence assessment shared with The Associated Press.

“That view, from a nation with traditionally reliable intelligence from the region, cannot be confirmed and contrasts with assessments by other countries that view Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as relatively moderate on the nuclear issue compared to the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.”

So the vast majority of Western intelligence agencies agree that Ahmadinejad is “relatively moderate” on the issue, and one dissents. On what basis exists this discrepancy? Jahn never says.

If Ahmadinejad’s supposed ambitions are opposed by the religious leadership, who have the real say in the matter, then what’s so headliney about that anyway?

Are we to understand that Jahn’s source(s) swore him to secrecy regarding not just their names, but the name of the country which they presumably work for and produced this “intelligence”? Could it be that they anticipate readers may not agree with Jahn’s assessment their assertions about Iranian nuclear capabilities have been “traditionally reliable”?

The piece continues:

“Ahmadinejad is pushing ‘to shake free of the restraints Iran has imposed upon itself, and openly push forward to create a nuclear bomb,’ says the assessment. But Khamenei, whose word is final on nuclear and other issues, ‘wants to progress using secret channels, due to concern about a severe response from the West,’ says the report.”

Jahn provides no evidence that Ahmadinejad is pushing for anything, and nothing in the article even acknowledges the fact that the unanimous opinion of all 17 American intelligence agencies [.pdf] is that the Iranians are not pursuing nuclear weapons openly or in secret. Renowned investigative reporter Seymour Hersh tells this writer that the rest of the West agrees. But in AP Land, inconvenient facts are omitted rather than confronted head on.

The new head of the IAEA is quoted complaining that Iran has made it “difficult for us to draw a conclusion [Iran’s nuclear program] is exclusively for peaceful purposes.” But that, as our dear retired Dr. Prather would put it, is “none of the IAEA’s beeswax.” Their mandate under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Safeguards Agreement with Iran is the monitoring of Iran’s nuclear material, accounting for its quantity and quality on a regular basis and verifying its non-diversion to military purposes. Their further mandates from the UN Security Council to completely prove a negative, ask endless questions based on forgeries and inspect non-nuclear facilities are rightly considered illegitimate by the Iranians.

The rest of the article elaborates on the theme that that the “Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Khamenei, is the one with the power to decide and that he is the more “cautious” and “circumspect” about the prospect of starting a nuclear weapons program and perhaps stoking a regional arms race than his already-willing-to-deal presidential frontman.

George Jahn’s new Iran piece in the Associated Press, despite its emotional headline and anonymous scare quotes, actually makes a strong case that neither Iran’s president, nor its head-Ayatollah are interested in obtaining nuclear weapons.

Iran: Parallax view

NOAM CHOMSKY: The Brookings Institute just a few months ago released extensive polls of what Arabs think about Iran. …They show that Arab opinion …—holds that the major threat in the region is Israel, that’s 80 percent; the second major threat is the United States, that’s 77 percent. Iran is listed as a threat by 10 percent. With regard to nuclear weapons, rather remarkably, a majority, in fact, 57 percent, say that …it would have a positive effect in the region if Iran had nuclear weapons.
When they talk about Arabs, they mean the Arab dictators, not the population, which is overwhelmingly opposed to the conclusions that the analysts here, Clinton and the media, have drawn. There’s also a minor problem. That’s the major problem. The minor problem is that we don’t know from the cables what the Arab leaders think and say. We know what was selected from the range of what they say. So there’s a filtering process. We don’t know how much it distorts the information. But there’s no question that what is a radical distortion is—or not even a distortion, a reflection of the concern that the dictators are what matter. The population doesn’t matter, even if it’s overwhelmingly opposed to U.S. policy. This shows up elsewhere…. –Noam Chomsky: WikiLeaks Cables Reveal “Profound Hatred for Democracy on the Part of Our Political Leadership”

YouTube of Iran Debate

Below is the 2 1/2 hour entirety of that Iran debate at UCR on April 1, 2010. Featured speaker was Reese Erlich. Panelists were Erlich, Larry Greenfield, Christopher Records and myself. The host was Louis Vandenberg. Thanks to Joe Briggs for putting this on his YouTube account.

One correction: After this conference, I learned from Syed Saleem Shahzad that the Jundallah that the CIA and JSOC use against Iran is different from the Jundallah that KSM used to be the leader of. However, they are both radical Salafi civilian-bombing terrorists, so same difference.