A bodyguard of lies

by Ardeshir Ommani (source: iranian.com)
Saturday, September 30, 2006

Of course, this conjures up Winston Churchill's famous phrase when he said -- don't quote me on this, okay? I don't want to be quoted on this, so don't quote me. He said, 'sometimes the truth is so precious it must be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies.'
-- Donald Rumsfeld, US Department of Defense Briefing, September 25, 2001

To build its case for war with Iraq, just as in its current claims against Iran, the Bush administration argued that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. But even then, countless principled individuals in position of authority in the U.S. and around the world laid bare the truth that the U.S. ruling class led by the White House had another reason for war: U.S. unconditional control over the oil resources of the Middle East as a crucial stepping stone in its way towards global dominance.

In fact, the U.S. government was lying then, and it is lying now about Iran's nuclear weapons' ambition. Prior to the latest criminal war on Iraq, the U.S. rulers in their fabricated issues, featured daily on the front pages of the mainstream newspapers, such as The New York Times, and the Washington Post, and as lead stories on TV, had the advantage of exploiting the pain felt by the attacks of September 11, 2001. But today in regard to that decisive factor, the odds are not in their favor, unless they decide to replicate those events, but this time in a more tragic and greater dimension, which is not beyond them.

The main pretexts that the U.S. exploited to argue for war on Iraq were:

1. Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was in non-compliance with the UN resolutions;
2. Having such weapons, Iraq posed an existential threat to the U.S. and its neighboring countries; and
3. Iraq had links to alleged terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaeda.

Five years after these White House assertions have been completely exposed as fabrications, let us look at the new White House 'evidence' for war against Iran to see the striking similarities of the U.S. charges against Iraq then and Iran now.

In the case of Iran: On August 18, 2006, Peter Hoekstra, Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Intelligence released a report called: Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the United States. The report was signed by Mike Rogers and Rush Holt, staff members of the House Intelligence Committee and commissioned by Peter Hoekstra, Bush political appointees and hard-liners on Capital Hill. But the real initiator and the original author of the Intelligence Committee Report on Iran, Fredrick Fleitz, according to the Washington Post, "is a one-time CIA officer and special assistant to John Bolton, the administration's former point man on Iran at the State Department." Bolton is currently the United States ambassador to the United Nations, and for months has been pressuring the United Nation's Security Council to impose sanctions against Iran.

Iran's Alleged Possession of Nuclear Weapons
A section of the report which was assigned to supposedly provide all the "Evidence for an Iranian Nuclear Program,' merely contained the following assertions:

-- "Iran is currently enriching uranium to weapons grade, using a 164-machine centrifuge cascade at the facility in Natanz;"

-- "Iran had covertly produced the short-lived radioactive element polonium-210 (PO-210), a substance with two known uses: a neutron source for a nuclear weapon and satellite batteries; and

-- "The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided to "remove" Mr. Charlier, a senior safeguards inspector of the IAEA for "allegedly raising concerns about Iranian deception regarding its nuclear program and concluding that the purpose of Iran's nuclear program is to construct weapons." Such removal might have been for "not having adhered to an unstated IAEA policy barring IAEA officials from telling the whole truth about the Iranian nuclear program."

After learning about the report, the IAEA Director of External Relations and Policy Coordination, Vilmos Cserveny, with the approval of the 35-nation board members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a letter addressed to Hoekstra, in his capacity as Chairman of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, challenged the veracity of the Report and wrote the following: Hoekstra's Report : "Outrageous And Dishonest"

The Facts: In regard to "the uranium enrichment work being carried out at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP) at Natanz, including the 3.6% enrichment level that had been achieved by Iran, was provided to the IAEA Board of Governors by the Director General in April 2006 (see GOV/2006/27, paragraph 31). The description of this enrichment level as 'weapons grade' is incorrect (emphasis added), since the term "weapons grade" is commonly used to refer to uranium enriched to the order of 60% or more in the isotope of uranium-235. The Director General's April 2006 report ... is posted on the IAEA's website: iaea.org/NewsCenter; In regard to the production of polonium-210, "the use of the phrase 'covertly produced' is misleading (emphasis added) because the production of PO-210 is not required to be reported by Iran to the IAEA under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) safeguards agreement concluded between Iran and the IAEA (published in IAEA document INFCIRC/214).

In regard to the "removal" of Mr. Charlier, "the IAEA Secretariat takes strong exception to the incorrect and misleading assertion (emphasis added) in the Staff Report's second full paragraph of page 13 that the Director General of the IAEA decided to 'remove' Mr. Charlier, a senior safeguards inspector of the IAEA, for 'allegedly raising concerns about Iranian deception regarding its nuclear program and concluding that the purpose of Iran's nuclear program is to construct weapons'. In addition, the report contains an outrageous and dishonest suggestion (emphasis added) that such removal might have been for 'not having adhered to an unstated IAEA policy barring IAEA officials from telling the whole truth about the Iranian nuclear program'." In fact, "Under such agreements, each State has the right to object to the designation of any safeguards inspector, and to request the withdrawal of the designation of an inspector, at any time, for that State ... .I should also like to note here that Iran has accepted the designation of more than 200 Agency safeguards inspectors, which number is similar to that accepted by the majority of non-nuclear-weapons States that have concluded safeguards agreements pursuant to the NPT."

The last paragraph of the letter makes it quite clear who is 'doctoring' evidence:

"While it is unfortunate that the authors of the Staff Report did not consult with the IAEA Secretariat to verify the correctness of the above referenced information, the IAEA Secretariat stands ready to assist your Committee in correcting the erroneous and misleading information contained in the report."

It is crucial to note that our intelligence reporters, along with all their assertions, caught up in the net of their own dichotomy, paradoxically state, "that the U.S. lacks critical information needed for analysts to make many of their judgments with confidence about Iran and there are many significant information gaps. A special concern is major gaps in our knowledge of Iranian nuclear, biological, and chemical programs." But it seems none of this dearth of knowledge prevented our 'smart' intelligence reporters from making the claim that "Iran likely has an offensive chemical weapons ... capability" and "probably has an offensive biological weapons program."

According to Dafna Linzer of the Washington Post, "several intelligence officials said the Committee Report included at least a dozen claims that were either demonstrably wrong or impossible to substantiate." David Albright, a former nuclear inspector who is president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, said, "This is like pre-war Iraq all over again." The report chastises the CIA and other intelligence agencies for not providing enough evidence to support White House assertions that Iran is building nuclear weapons.

The International Atomic Agency's spokesperson Melissa Fleming said on ABC Online that "the release of the flawed congressional report suggests the Bush administration is softening up the public for a war in Iran as early as next year."

Joe Cirincione, an advisor to the U.S. House of Representatives on national security and nuclear proliferation and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations told Eleanor Hall, an ABC Online reporter that the "report attacking Iran is a repeat of the flawed and exaggerated information that was used to build the case of invading Iraq."

The damaging skirmish between the IAEA and the U.S. House of Intelligence Committee was a virtual return of the year before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when El Baradei questioned White House claims that Iraq was seeking nuclear weapons capabilities. At that time, members of the Bush administration tried to discredit El Baradei and the world agency, although time has proven IAEA's assessments to be true.

Now that the House Intelligence Committee's Report has been exposed as the fraud that it is, it remains to be seen how Mr. John Bolton, Ambassador to the UN, straining himself to frighten the American public into believing that Iran is a 'nuclear threat' to the 'world community' will proceed to demand from the United Nation's Security Council that they impose sanctions on Iran.

Has the U.S. administration that has sacrificed the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis and Americans learned anything? Yes, it has learned that repeating some old lies over and over may fool some uneducated and primarily selfish people and serve a small interest group, but there are many others who will not be made fools of twice.

About

Ardeshir Ommani, an activist in the anti-war and anti-imperialist struggle for over 40 years, including against the Vietnam War. Ardeshir is a co-founder of the American-Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC), where news of his most recent visit to Iran in March & April 2006 can be read. He helped launch the successful StopWarOnIran.org campaign. He has written a number of articles documenting the U.S. foreign policy toward Iran. He has translated many articles into Farsi, which have been published inside Iran in the progressive press. In the 1960's, he was a co-founder of the Iranian Students Association (ISA), which contributed to the struggle against the Shah of Iran, a U.S. puppet. Mr. Ommani returned to Iran in 1979, at the dawn of the revolution and participated in the revolutionary surge of that period. Since returning to the U.S. in 1980, he has been very active in the anti-war movement and in the struggle against the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq.


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