Sunday, December 09, 2007

I'd Like A New Iran NIE Too, Please

By Cernig

Yes, I'd like a new NIE on Iran. No I don't mean a do-over on the recent one that said Iran doesn't have a current nuclear weapons program, the one paranoid pouter John Bolton is calling a "quasi-putsch".

No I want a new NIE to examine the military and Bush administration's allegations of Iranian involvement in Iraq. That, after all, will be what the War Party will base their next push for attacks on Iran upon. If the neocons could slant the intelligence community's findings so badly prior to now towards thinking Iran was actively seeking nukes when it wasn't, surely we need a new consensus on this issue from the whole community too.

The actual physical evidence, for instance, for saying Iran is the source for IED devices that have caused so much harm in Iraq is the assessment that they can be ascribed to Iran because of "unique markings". Question that and you will find that these markings, in total, amount to scoring patterns made by machining the IED plates that deform to become penetrators. There's no writing or stamps. These scorings, in turn, are assessed as Iranian because, we are told, Iraqis are incapable of milling plates of their own to the required tolerances. Yet a milling score pattern doesn't include a zip code. Such lids could come from anywhere within the region, including Iraq, but evidence of anything other than Iranian origin has been ignored by the military. Indeed several companies boast of importing exactly the machinery required to Iraq and the Iraqi government as late as last year was touting just how many Iraqi machining and heavy industry companies existed. Clearly the capability exists. In all their time searching, Coalition forces have not seized a single IED crossing the Iran-Iraq border, although they have found plenty inside Iraq, along with IED factories which weren't originally supposed to exist but which we are now told produce inferior copies of the Iranian real deal.

Further, even supposing a direct physical link to Iran is established, there should be a review of intelligence assessments that Iran's leadership or even it's Quods Force is involved. Private entrepreneurship in a notoriously corrupt region and through traditionally porous borders - perhaps even with the connivance of individual Iranian officials who are lining their own pockets - could just as easily explain the observed facts of Iranian weaponry in Iraq. At least, it's the explanation for U.S. pistols provided to the Iraqi security forces that turned up in PKK hands in Turkey.

Allegations of Iranian leadership knowledge and involvement in smuggling of Iranian arms into Iraq predates the arrest and subsequent confessions of a handful of alleged Iranian agents inside Iraq. Note, however, that none of the confessing agents were actually Iranian. Instead they have been from Iraq or Lebanon and came after interrogation by Iraqi military personnel or members of the MeK terror group acting as U.S. "interpreters". These interrogations were conducted beyond U.S, military oversight purely so that the military could continue to assert that it doesn't torture. It should come as no surprise that these detainees confessed and bolstered that prior account. As we now know from recent revelations about destroyed CIA tapes, such confessions are always liable to give the torturers the answers they seek, whether the answers are true or not. Iranians arrested have, after many allegations have been made, released and turned over to Iran as diplomats. Draw your own conclusions.

There are many reasons why it seems likely that, just as was done with the 2005 NIE that said Iran did have an active nuclear weapons program, political pressure to find what was wanted to advance the narrative for war with Iran filtered and coloured intelligence which has backed allegations of Iranian meddling in Iraq. If so, the supposed drop in recent Iran-backed attacks would be no more than a relabelling of the recent drop in non-Iran backed attacks by Shiite militias who we used to be told were proxies for Iran but we are now told are not. Only a minority of radicals in these groups are Iranian proxies, the official story now runs.

Yes indeed, let's have a new NIE on Iran. After all, neocon fixing of the intelligence around the policy got the U.S. into a war with Iraq and almost succeeded in using false claims about a non-existent nuclear weapons program to get us into a war with the Iranians too. Let's not wait until after the shooting starts over Iran's supposedly killing U.S. troops in Iraq to discover that the same fixing went on there too.