Friday, August 31, 2007

Iran And The EFP Causus Belli

By Cernig

Echoing a pessimistic certainty by progressive bloggers that the Bush administration intends to mount an attack on Iran before the end of their term, Council on Foreign Relations expert and past advocate of "preventative force", Barnett Rubin, wrote on Wednesday that the administration are waiting until after labor Day to make their big push for war, on the basis that "from a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."

Today I received a message from a friend who has excellent connections in Washington and whose information has often been prescient. According to this report, as in 2002, the rollout will start after Labor Day, with a big kickoff on September 11. My friend had spoken to someone in one of the leading neo-conservative institutions. He summarized what he was told this way:
They [the source's institution] have "instructions" (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don't think they'll ever get majority support for this--they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is "plenty."
Of course I cannot verify this report. But besides all the other pieces of information about this circulating, I heard last week from a former U.S. government contractor. According to this friend, someone in the Department of Defense called, asking for cost estimates for a model for reconstruction in Asia. The former contractor finally concluded that the model was intended for Iran. This anecdote is also inconclusive, but it is consistent with the depth of planning that went into the reconstruction effort in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I hesitated before posting this. I don't want to spread alarmist rumors. I don't want to lessen the pressure on the Ahmadinejad government in Tehran. But there are too many signs of another irresponsible military adventure from the Cheney-Bush administration for me just to dismiss these reports. I am putting them into the public sphere in the hope of helping to mobilize opposition to a policy that would further doom the efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq and burden our country and the people of the Middle East with yet another unstoppable fountain of bloodshed.
No wonder the Bush administration are full of ill-concealed gloom at yesterday's report from the IAEA, who have put to rest some of the major talking-points the neocons were using to ratchet up war rhetoric over Iran's nuclear energy program and look set to answer other long-standing questions too. Not that any of this will stop the bush administration ignoring facts in their reach for war.

As of today, there's no uncertainty about Iran's plutonium experiments - they were peaceful - says the IAEA. The Iranian facilities which had been questioned have been inspected and are also peaceful in intent. Likewise, Iran is operating its less-than-expected number of enrichment centrifuges at about 10% efficiency, hardly a sign of an urgent rush to bomb-making. Soon, Iran will give the IAEA detailled answers on the provenance and accuracy of laptop plans for something supposedly called the "Green Salt Project" - a laptop provided by the MeK anti-Iranian terror group. It will also respond on documents showing plans for forming hemispherical uranium for bombs sent to Iran by the Pakistani Khan network - plans Iran maintains it didn't ask for and has never made use of. The murk around Iran's nuclear program is getting clearer and as it clears the Bush administration's narrative - complete with 2002-style "mushroom cloud" rhetoric - of a nuclear threat gets flimsier.

And so it seems likely that the push for war will center around alleged meddling in Iran, especially the supposed provision of troop-killing EFP bombs. Cheney has already said this alone amounts to a causus belli. Yet the evidence and arguments for knowing Iranian leadership involvement in Iraqi EFP attacks is also flimsy at best. I've been following this thread of warhype from very early on and venture to claim I've researched the matter as thoroughly as any non-expert pundit can. Certainly as well or better than any who aren't immediately inclined to believe everything the neocon noise machine tells them.

Let's review the narrative, and some of the contrary evidence that the warmongers won't be talking about. Much of it has been given sparse attention by the media, yet intelligence analysts are undoubtably aware of it.

  • Despite repeated claims by neoconservative pundits and Bush administration officials that Iran is arming the Taliban in Afghanistan with EFP bombs, neither the US Army's own bomb expert in theatre, NATO allies nor the commanding US general agree with that assessment.

  • As former CIA field officer Robert Baer points out, co-operation between Iraqi fighters and Hezboullah has an 18 year history and any assessment of Iranian involvement in the transmission of EFP technology from Hezboullah to the Iraqi insurgency is reaching further than the evidence provides for.

  • Hezboullah got EFP technology - including the use of infra-red triggers - from the Irish Republican Army in the early 1990's. The IRA had also traded the same technology to various other terrorist groups including Columbia's FARC and Spain's ETA. Iraqis fighting for Hezboullah and then returning to their homeland took their gained knowledge of EFP manufacture with them. Claims that only Iran knows how to make EFP's are ludicrous.

  • The narrative on who makes EFP's has been subject to change since just the beginning of the year. At every stage the administration has been forced to change its story only after independent experts debunked the existing version or emerging evidence has made nonsense of their version. They have moved from "only Iran makes EFP's" to "Iran makes them and they are assembled in Iraq" to "Iraqis make their own but the ones made in Iran work better". Yet in top-level pronouncements, the evolving narrative is glossed over as "Iran provides EFPs".

  • Even the current narrative that "Iraqis make their own but Iran provides better ones" ignores the laws of physics and denigrates the capabilities of Iraqis in order to further the anti-Iran story.

  • Both General Pace and Defense Secretary Gates have been at pains to point out that their is no established link between EFP's in Iraq and the Iranian leadership. Their refusal to toe the party line caused one poor anonymous Baghdad Briefer to be tossed under the bus by Cheney's faction for "exceeding his authority".

  • Much of the evidence for supposed Iranian meddling in Iraq has been provided by the notorious MeK terror group, a favorite of the neocons in the Bush administration which is nonetheless facing court cases in Iraq for involvement in Saddam-era atrocities. On repeated instances, their "intelligence" has been found to be false on this and matters related to the Iranian nuclear program.

  • No-one has yet found a single EFP crossing the Iranian border into Iraq and British officers who have spent months looking say there's nothing to find. The most British officials will concede, even off the record, is that a single splinter group may be receiving EFP's from Iran manufactories but that these are probably made by rogue black-marketeers cashing in on the chaos in Iraq.

  • Neocon shills continue to cite other stories about Iranian involvement in Iraq - often promulgated by the neocon noise machine's connections with foreign news media - such as the false tale of Austrian sniper rifles, which have since been denied by the US military or were obviously spurious to begin with.

  • Allegations (without produced evidence) that the Iranian Quods Force are supplying Iraqi groups with $3 million a month in aid seem sensational until one realizes that such amounts are chump change in comparison to amounts the US spends - for instance $75 million on the Anbar Salvation Council which apparently only funded their leader's bank robberies and con games. They are of a piece with in-credible attempts to bring the other neocon boogeyman, China, into the narrative.

  • To date, the only positive evidence for Iranian involvement in and leadership of EFP attacks in Iraq are: confessions delivered by MeK and Iraqi Army interrogators under conditions of extreme duress; explosives that the US military says it knows are Iranian because they're in fake US wrappers and scoring marks on EFP discs caused by the manufacture process which the US military says must be Iranian because they say the Iraqis can't machine discs on their own (despite there being plenty of machine shops in Iraq and the formulas used being widely spread by the IRA in the 90's); other weapons that the US military knows are Iranian because they have serial numbers on (and they never think that maybe that means rogue elements redirecting arms exports, since the Iranian government are clever enough at black ops to take the serial numbers off). That's it.

    Yet, despite the narrative's utter denial of common sense and the rules of evidence, this will be enough for the Cheneyites to drum up a war with Iran. Democratic leaders, as they have already, will go along with the surge to Tehran.
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