While the country or, rather, the American media is fixated on an accidental shooting by the vice president, and the airwaves are filled with the natterings of the chattering classes over this inconsequential albeit unfortunate matter, the real shooting is being largely ignored: the slaughter continues in Iraq. While reporters and pundits rush to track down every niggling detail of Quailgate, the story of how we were lied into war and set up for a sequel is largely untold.
Such is life in the post-9/11 Bizarro World we’ve all been consigned to: the trivial is spotlighted, while the real news occurs under cover of darkness. Scattered fragments of the story come out, however, and it is left for the inquiring reader that’s you and me, my friend to fit together such pieces of the puzzle as we have and try to discern some consistent pattern.
The big news is that the Justice Department probe into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame by Scooter Libby and his cohorts has taken a new and very interesting turn, one that perhaps sheds new light on a key aspect of the case: the motivation of Libby and his co-conspirators. As Raw Story reporter Larisa Alexandrovna reveals in the first really substantive addition to the story since Libby’s indictment, Plame’s highly sensitive work for the CIA involving nuclear proliferation issues had a very specific focus at the time of her outing:
"According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran.
"Speaking under strict confidentiality, intelligence officials revealed heretofore unreported elements of Plame’s work. Their accounts suggest that Plame’s outing was more serious than has previously been reported and carries grave implications for U.S. national security and its ability to monitor Iran’s burgeoning nuclear program."
The exposure of Plame and her entire operation Brewster Jennings & Associates, the CIA front company that cloaked this super-secret tracking program effectively blinded the U.S. to the evolution of Iran’s nuclear program. Not long after the outing of Plame and just after a grand jury began hearing testimony in the Fitzgerald investigation another security breach involving Iran made headlines: the Iranians had been alerted to the fact that the U.S. had broken the code governing their internal government communications, with the chief suspects being the neoconservative version of Che Guevara, Ahmed Chalabi, and his Iraqi National Congress, the source of much of the phony pre-invasion "intelligence" about Iraq. The truth about Iran’s WMD (or lack of same) was rendered inaccessible, leaving the field open for the neocons and their foreign operatives to move into the vacuum and keep their very effective lie factory working overtime.
At the same time, the chief analyst at the Pentagon’s Iran desk, Larry Franklin, a committed neoconservative, was making contact with two officials of the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the heavy-hitting Washington lobby, feeding them information that they subsequently passed on to Israeli embassy officials, including Naor Gilon, the embassy’s chief of political affairs, and another yet-to-be-named official (who some speculate may be Danny Ayalon, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S.). The focus of the Franklin-AIPAC spy cabal: U.S. intelligence on Iran.
And that’s not all. More interesting reportage by Alexandrovna points to a third prong of this disabling operation aimed at U.S. surveillance of Iran:
"Several U.S. and foreign intelligence sources, along with investigators, say an Iranian exile with ties to Iran-Contra peddled a bizarre tale of stolen uranium to governments on both sides of the Atlantic in the spring and summer of 2003.
"The story that was peddled which detailed how an Iranian intelligence team infiltrated Iraq prior to the start of the war in March of 2003, and stole enriched uranium to use in their own nuclear weapons program was part of an attempt to implicate both countries in a WMD plot."
A familiar cast of characters stars in this tale of intrigue and disinformation: Manucher Ghorbanifar, the Iranian arms merchant and master of deception, who, along with neoconservative guru Michael Ledeen another player in this drama was entangled in the Iran-Contra affair. Larry Franklin makes a guest appearance at a meeting in Rome where the plot was reportedly hatched. Oh, and a mysterious Iranian named "Ali," who, it turns out, is the pseudonym for Fereidoun Mahdavi, a former minister under the Shah, now a secretary to Ghorbanifar.
It would have been Plame’s job to debunk Ali’s tall tales. Knocking her and Brewster Jennings out of the running was necessarily a top priority for those with an interest in targeting Iran. There is a lot more here than has come to the attention of the "mainstream" media, and, again, Alexandrovna is digging where others fear to tread.
All indications are that an active campaign to set up Iran for attack was going full gear even as George W. Bush was declaring "mission accomplished" in Iraq. As we look at the different pieces of the puzzle, a definite picture begins to emerge: what we are seeing are the outlines of a coordinated covert action, engineered by neoconservative ideologues in and around the Pentagon and Dick Cheney’s office, and carried out in cooperation with the Israelis. Their objective: gin up a war with Iran, even as we marched into Iraq. A one-two punch that will speed the forces of "democratization" and visit upon the region what Ledeen lauds as "creative destruction."
It is commonly assumed that the outing of Plame was retaliation for her husband‘s vocal opposition to the war and his debunking of the myth that Saddam sought uranium in the African nation of Niger with which to make a nuclear bomb. Yet this explanation was never really very satisfactory: it assumed an extraordinary amount of self-indulgent pettiness on the part of the leakers in the White House, and a level of vindictiveness bordering on stupidity.
As we begin to understand the nature of Plame’s work, her exposure takes on new significance: the War Party was intent on blindfolding U.S. policymakers by ensuring that no one with any expertise or interest in debunking their lies would remain standing. Spared the sight of reality which is that Iran is at least 10 years away from building a viable nuclear weapon U.S. officials would then be free to do what they did in the case of Iraq: make it up as they go along.
Libby has already been indicted, but others, as we have seen, are knee-deep in this quagmire. As the investigation deepens and broadens, and the trial date (a year from now) approaches, the twists and turns of the scandal which ought to go down in history as Neocongate will be mapped by the meticulous Fitzgerald, as the story of how we were lied into war is laid bare.