The Shahram Charade

By now the narrative is well-established, at least as far as the Western media is concerned: Shahram Amiri, an Iranian scientist, defected to the US last year, but changed his mind and has now returned to Iran. No matter: we squeezed him dry, as one intelligence official boasted, and received "valuable" information about Iran’s nuclear weapons program (which doesn’t exist and hasn’t existed since 2003, according to the CIA’s own assessment, but never mind that bothersome detail).  

"He’s free to go, he was free to come," declared practiced liar Hillary Clinton, "these decisions are his alone to make." Well, he did go, and is now in Tehran, where he’s being given a hero’s welcome – which kind of undercuts the story that he sold out his country for $5 million. That, however, isn’t the only indication that this murky affair is not what the government-media complex would have us believe. If Shahram came into the US freely, in order to pursue his "studies" at an American university, as Hillary and the CIA aver, then why is there no entry stamp on his visa, as various news account acknowledge?  

As the facts emerge, it’s clear the truth is closer to Shahram’s account, given on two YouTube videos he made while on the run, and in interviews after his arrival in Iran: "My kidnapping was a disgraceful act for America… I was under enormous psychological pressure and supervision of armed agents in the past 14 months." As the Christian Science Monitor reports: 

"The US denies the charge, and until this week did not acknowledge Amiri’s presence in the country. Officials have so far presented nothing – such as a visa application, or a copy of a plane ticket – to indicate that Amiri arrived in America through normal channels. Student visas for Iranians require university acceptance, proof of sufficient funds, and are typically a long and involved process." 

Quite clearly, the US government and its media enablers are lying, but what’s disheartening about all this is the utter transparency of the charade: no wonder, as the Baltimore Sun noted, US "officials were unwilling to address the government’s role in facilitating his entry into the US." Perhaps there will be a closed door congressional briefing on what really happened, but the average American won’t have access to the inside scoop (unless, of  course, they are regular readers of All they’ll hear is Hillary braying about how "free" Shahram was to come and go, and the media conveying the US government line via the remarks of anonymous officials. One such official, referring to the discrepancies in the videos posted on Youtube, opines

"He might at one point have regretted the lies he told about the United States, but that – plainly – didn’t last. Now he thinks he can snow the goons in Tehran. He’s taking a real chance. We’ll see how persuasive he is, and what happens to him after the Iranians wring every possible propaganda benefit out of him." 

It’s the US government that needs to be worried about its persuasiveness in this matter, not the Iranians. If Shahram had defected, he would have been brought in through a third country on a stamped visa: indeed, why wouldn’t the US have touted this valuable refugee from a tyranny the US claims is plotting to build nuclear weapons? And why would Shahram, by all accounts a devoted father, leave his family behind? 

Speaking of persuasiveness, how convincing is that video of Shahram – sitting on a leather couch in a room with a chess set and globe – in which he says all is well and he’s just pursuing his "studies" in America? By now even the US media is acknowledging this as a CIA production – no doubt recorded as an insurance policy against the possibility Shahram might get away. 

Yet the American media continues to get this story consistently wrong, as they have gotten similar stories wrong throughout the entire recent history of the War Party’s various campaigns to lie us into war. Here, for a particularly egregious example, is the Los Angeles Times, calling on one of its favored "experts" to dutifully echo the disenchanted defector narrative put out by Washington: 

"Western experts say Amiri is almost certainly a defector and not a victim of kidnapping because the information gleaned from someone forced to talk under such circumstances would be suspect. ‘If you put pressure on someone like this it’s very difficult to have good information,’ said Eric Denece, a former French intelligence analyst who heads the Center for Intelligence Studies in Paris." 

What makes Monsieur Denece think anyone cared about getting "good information"? What they want is a good story to tell the American people, and the world at large. What the Obama administration is searching for, just like its predecessor, is a pretext for war – and, who knows, they may find it sooner than anyone thinks.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].