She had probably done this a dozen times before. Modern
digital technology had made clandestine communications with overseas agents
seem routine. Back in the Cold War, contacting a secret agent in Moscow or
Beijing was a dangerous, labor-intensive process that could take days or even
weeks to arrange. But by 2004, it was possible to send high-speed, encrypted
messages directly and instantaneously from CIA headquarters to agents in the
field who were equipped with small, covert personal communications devices.
So the officer at CIA headquarters assigned to handle communications with
the agency's spies in Iran probably didn't think twice when she began her
latest download. With a few simple commands, she sent a secret data flow to
one of the Iranian agents in the CIA's spy network. Just like she had done
so many times before.
But this time, the ease and speech of technology betrayed
her. The CIA officer had made a disastrous mistake. She had sent information
to one Iranian agent meant for an entire spy network; the data could be used
to identify virtually every spy the CIA had inside Iran.
Mistake piles on mistake. As the CIA later learned,
the Iranian who received the download was actually a double agent. The agent
quickly turned the data over to Iranian security officials, and it enabled
them to “roll up” the CIA's agent network throughout Iran. CIA sources
say that several of the Iranian agents were arrested and jailed, while the
fates of some of the others is still unknown.
This espionage disaster was not reported in the press.
It left the CIA virtually blind in Iran, unable to provide any significant
intelligence on one of the most critical issues facing the United States–whether
Tehran was about to go nuclear.
State of War, by James Risen (p. 193-194)
It reads like a spy novel.
It reads like a disaster tale of political intrigue.
But most of all, it reads like cautionary foreshadowing.
says to read James Risen's chapter on Iran in his
book. I have and he's right. I've offered a teaser above. But read the rest
of what Clemons has to offer. He pleads with the pols to talk to Israel before
going off half nuked over Iran. We don't know half of what we don't know. James
Risen offers part of why.
Even as President Bush and his bunch were making the case against Iran,
it's obvious that all Bush is relying upon is the same nuclear paranoid delusion that led to
preemption in Mesopotamia.
We all see how well that one's going.
Think about something similar in Iran,
which is a much bigger country, with far more fire power, not to mention nationalism,
then add the terrorist angle that allows Iranian factions and Hezbollah to wage
a jihad on all American assets, including messing up Iraq even further.
even possible? Believe the experts, it is.
The reality is that with the U.S. in Iraq we are screwed six ways to Sunday
on Iran. What the Iranians could do without much effort at all is staggering.
Target U.S. assets around the world, even inside the U.S.
The Pentagon has drafted a revised doctrine for the
use of nuclear weapons that envisions commanders requesting presidential approval
to use them to preempt an attack by a nation or a terrorist group using weapons
of mass destruction. The draft also includes the option of using nuclear arms
to destroy known enemy stockpiles of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
At a White House briefing that year, a spokesman said
the United States would “respond with overwhelming force” to the
use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States, its forces or
allies, and said “all options” would be available to the president.
The draft, dated March 15, would provide authoritative
guidance for commanders to request presidential approval for using nuclear
weapons, and represents the Pentagon's first attempt to revise procedures
to reflect the Bush preemption doctrine. A previous version, completed in
1995 during the Clinton administration, contains no mention of using nuclear
weapons preemptively or specifically against threats from weapons of mass
Titled “Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations”
and written under the direction of Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the draft document is unclassified and available
on a Pentagon Web site. It is expected to be signed within a few weeks by
Air Force Lt. Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, director of the Joint Staff, according
to Navy Cmdr. Dawn Cutler, a public affairs officer in Myers's office. Meanwhile,
the draft is going through final coordination with the military services,
the combatant commanders, Pentagon legal authorities and Rumsfeld's office,
Cutler said in a written statement.
A “summary of changes” included in the draft
identifies differences from the 1995 doctrine, and says the new document “revises
the discussion of nuclear weapons use across the range of military operations.”
The first example for potential nuclear weapon use
listed in the draft is against an enemy that is using “or intending to
use WMD” against U.S. or allied, multinational military forces or civilian
Another scenario for a possible nuclear preemptive
strike is in case of an “imminent attack from adversary biological weapons
that only effects from nuclear weapons can safely destroy.”
That and other provisions in the document appear to
refer to nuclear initiatives proposed by the administration that Congress
has thus far declined to fully support.
Last year, for example, Congress refused to fund research
toward development of nuclear weapons that could destroy biological or chemical
weapons materials without dispersing them into the atmosphere.
The draft document also envisions the use of atomic
weapons for “attacks on adversary installations including WMD, deep,
hardened bunkers containing chemical or biological weapons.”
But Congress last year halted funding of a study to
determine the viability of the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator warhead (RNEP)
— commonly called the bunker buster — that the Pentagon has said is needed
to attack hardened, deeply buried weapons sites.
The Joint Staff draft doctrine explains that despite
the end of the Cold War, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction “raises
the danger of nuclear weapons use.” It says that there are “about
thirty nations with WMD programs” along with “nonstate actors [terrorists]
either independently or as sponsored by an adversarial state.”
To meet that situation, the document says that “responsible
security planning requires preparation for threats that are possible, though
perhaps unlikely today.”
To deter the use of weapons of mass destruction against
the United States, the Pentagon paper says preparations must be made to use
nuclear weapons and show determination to use them “if necessary to prevent
or retaliate against WMD use.” … …
Revises Nuclear Strike Plan
Strategy Includes Preemptive Use Against Banned Weapons
Of course, we also have to remember the 2001 plan of Rumsfeld,
to 9/11, as described by Bill
Arkin. In his post yesterday, Arkin talks about the Iranian treadmill. Oh,
if it were only that healthy! But it was Dana Priest's article last week that
caught my attention, which Arkin also cites, that is particularly illustrative
after Hersh's article today.
As tensions increase between the United
States and Iran, U.S. intelligence and terrorism experts say they believe
Iran would respond to U.S. military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying
its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks
Iran would mount attacks against U.S. targets inside
Iraq, where Iranian intelligence agents are already plentiful, predicted these
experts. There is also a growing consensus that Iran's agents would target
civilians in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, they said.
U.S. officials would not discuss what evidence they
have indicating Iran would undertake terrorist action, but the matter “is
consuming a lot of time” throughout the U.S. intelligence apparatus,
one senior official said. “It's a huge issue,” another said.
Citing prohibitions against discussing classified information,
U.S. intelligence officials declined to say whether they have detected preparatory
measures, such as increased surveillance, counter-surveillance or message
traffic, on the part of Iran's foreign-based intelligence operatives.
But terrorism experts considered Iranian-backed or
controlled groups — namely the country's Ministry of Intelligence and Security
operatives, its Revolutionary Guards and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah — to
be better organized, trained and equipped than the al-Qaeda network that carried
out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Iran May Trigger Terrorism
U.S. Experts Wary of Military Action Over Nuclear Program
The one true winner in all this is Iran's
President Ahmadinejad, who comes out looking statesmanlike as he takes on
the U.S. aggressor, President Bush. Why we're letting this thug drag us around
by our nose is beyond me. Oh, for some grown ups at the White House, instead
of some petulant punks needing to prove their manhood because they didn't get
that over with in their twenties. Then there's the fact that the Republicans are just a little crazy.
Israel is not free from its passions either
â€” for there will be no second Holocaust. It is time for the Iranian
leaders to snap out of their pseudo-trances and hocus-pocus, and accept that
some Western countries are not merely far more powerful than Iran, but in
certain situations and under particular circumstances, can be just as driven
by memory, history, and, yes, a certain craziness as well.
The Iranian president better sober up and do some cool reckoning
If there's one thing the Republicans have got it's “a certain
Now let's get real. The biggest concern for the U.S. is our presence
in Iraq, how entrenched we are there, not to mention exhausted from a 3 year
war that has been an unmitigated disaster. We have no friends left who believe
our president or trust him, with the Arab League keeping as far away from Iraq
as they can. Many leaders would obviously relish Bush's complete and total humiliation,
but unfortunately it would also mean the collapse of U.S. honor, strength and
influence even further, which is not good for anyone.
I'm still of the mind that George W. Bush is arrogant enough to
believe that an attack on Iran would be just another phase in his “war
on terror.” Since Bush isn't listening to anyone, you've got to wonder
at this point who's going to stop him from promoting the
language Cheney used at AIPAC through force. Bush now feels like a warrior on a
further mission to keep going as long as he's got all his war toys in place, with a p.r. campaign that warned a long time ago that we “are a nation at war.”
The man just doesn't get what could be unleashed in Iran. He still thinks Iraq can be democratized.
That brings us back to James Risen's book, State
of War. With all this bluster, you've got to wonder what we really
know about Iran's capabilities. Let's follow Steve Clemons' suggestion: talk
to Israel. They'll share all they know, right?
The truth of the matter and what is really scary is that we still have the rubber stamp Republican Congress in place to do all the president's bidding. With George W. Bush still in power for some time still, our only hope
is for oversight and some leadership from the people who think before shooting.
The party who knows diplomacy goes a long way, especially when dealing with mad men, nukes and a war in which we're already hip deep in bedlam. Democrats, you're up. It's time to speak up.