The Neocon desire to invade Iran immediately after Iraq was not particularly secret. I don't have detailed notes on this, but I do find a writeup of a WINEP meeting in February 2003 saying, "Many in Iran look forward to a U.S. invasion of Iraq in the hopes that the United States will overthrow the Islamic Republic soon thereafter."
Michael Ledeen was very busy in the immediate post-invasion period, beating the drums for regime change in Iran. On April 30, 2003, he addressed the JINSA Policy Forum, saying, "I have never seen a country more ready for democracy than Iran." A week later, on May 6, AEI held an event titled, "The Future of Iran: Mullahcracy, Democracy, and the War on Terror," cosponsored by Hudson Institute and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Its theme was "What steps can the United States take to promote democratization and regime change in Iran?" and the participants included Cliff May, Meyrav Wurmser, Michael Ledeen, Bernard Lewis, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Morris Amitay -- in short, all the usual suspects.
Those public events don't seemed to have mentioned the possibility of invasion directly, but there was clearly a lot more doing on behind the scenes. For example, Franklin and Rhode were heavily involved in the push for war with Iran. Here, for example, is Juan Cole, writing about the AIPAC case in 2004:
Franklin moved over to the Pentagon from DIA, where he became the Iran expert, working for Bill Luti and Undersecretary of Defense for Planning, Douglas Feith. He was the "go to" person on Iran for Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and for Feith. This situation is pretty tragic, since Franklin is not a real Iranist. His main brief appears to have been to find ways to push a policy of overthrowing its government (apparently once Iraq had been taken care of). This project has been pushed by the shadowy eminence grise, Michael Ledeen, for many years, and Franklin coordinated with Ledeen in some way. Franklin was also close to Harold Rhode, a long-time Middle East specialist in the Defense Department who has cultivated far right pro-Likud cronies for many years, more or less establishing a cell within the Department of Defense.
Rhode's own activities during the spring and summer of 2003 are also of interest. Here, for example, is something which originally appeared in the Washington Monthly in September 2003:
Rhode got another big break when Pentagon hawks sent him to Baghdad this spring as their chief liaison (read: handler) to Iraqi National Congress chief Ahmed Chalabi, the hawks' favorite exile. But problems cropped up them, too, when, during his stay at the occupation headquarters in Baghdad, Rhode quickly alienated most of the American military and civilian pros in the country by saying all manner of unfortunate things about Arabs, Iranians, and Muslims in general. Later he holed himself up with Chalabi at the latter's hunt-club headquarters and bombarded Washington with faxes about plans to install Chalabi as the George Washington of Iraq. Following his subsequent recall--not so voluntarily, we hear--Rhode showed up sitting next to Chalabi in the front row at Vine President Dick Cheney's rally-the-neocon-troops speech at the American Enterprise Institute in July. Most recently, Rhode made the news again for a series of meetings he held in August with one of the most colorful characters from Washington's last major foreign policy scandal: exiled Iranian arms merchant Manucher Ghorbanifar, of Iran-Contra fame.
Rhode and Chalabi weren't the only ones in prominent attendance at that July 2003 AEI speech:
In the audience when Dick Cheney spoke Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute was Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress and one of the 25 members of the Iraqi National Governing Council appointed earlier this month by administrator L. Paul Bremer. Chalabi did not speak to Cheney, who entered and left the stage without speaking privately to anyone, but Chalabi did exchange warm greetings with Defense Department official Harold Rhode and with Judith Miller of the New York Times and other reporters.
Whatever behind-the-scenes agitation may have been going on for an immediate invasion of Iran seems to have died out after August 2003. Things started going downhill in Iraq, the CIA began pushing for investigation of the Plame outing at the end of September, and if Larisa is right about Ghorbanifar being involved in a plot to plant evidence, that seems to have failed as well.
and more starroute
I just recalled another Plame-Iran link that I've found fairly baffling.(Someone cleverer than starroute? ha! unlikely.)
Kathleen mentions "the company line is that it was common knowledge among the press that Plame was CIA." However, the first person I know of to make this claim was Clifford May in his September 29, 2003 National Review column. This is the same Clifford May who's been neck-deep in the Iran regime-change movement -- note his presence at that May 2003 AEI presentation I mentioned above. (Indeed, his Foundation for the Defense of Democracies was one of the co-sponsors.)
Last November, Paul Vallely and Thomas McInerney of the Iran Policy Group -- one of the most extreme of the Iran regime-change organizations -- popped up to say that Joe Wilson had boasted about his CIA wife in their presence in early 2002. This claim was immediately and thoroughly debunked by, among others, Larry C. Johnson.
People like May, Vallely, and McInerney don't have any obvious connection with Cheney or the administration Neocons, and it isn't clear to me that they would put their reputations on the line by telling lies about Valerie Plame just to try to save the administration's bacon. So why are they doing it? Moreover, why would they still be doing it as late as last fall? Iran is the most obvious common factor among them, but but I can't for the life of me figure out how discrediting Plame and Wilson at this point advances an Iran regime-change policy.
Perhaps someone more clever than I am can fill in the missing pieces.
emptywheel gave a partial answer in regard to May's involvement here - including the fact that "May also wrote a story the week of the leak. Though he didn't get the leak" and suggesting that May was merely one of many GOP operatives running around spreading the talking points.
I don't have much for starroute, although I will note that it was kinda weird that they didn't bother rolling out the 'everyone knew Plame was CIA' thing until after the case was referred to the DoJ. Presumably they thought Ashcroft (Tenet?) would contain it. Along those lines, it appears that the referral decision from the CIA kinda came outta the blue - I don't think I've read anything about how that decision came about - Did Tenet lead the charge? Was he pushing back against others who were trying to get it referred? Who was pushing it? does anyone have a link or two about that?
re the fact that it was widely known that the plan was to move straight on to Iran immediately after Iraq, I don't think that I appreciated that until this year (shame on me) - the OSP clearly had it's eyes on both countries - with their Iranianists Franklin and Rhodes, and the Rome meetings were all about Iran, and the Niger forgeries also tried to implicate both Iran and Iraq in their devious "military campaign against major world powers" etc.
BTW - was there ever any good reason for Rhode to be running around Iraq with Judy and Chalabi chasing weapons or whatever the hell they were doing?
One thing none of us have ever been able to answer is why on earth the USG invaded Iraq at all - but perhaps we need to start really looking at it through the lens of a (proposed) joint attack on Iraq and Iran - with Iraq just being a presumed speedhump. Perhaps that might help answer starroute's question about why May et al were involved in defending/spinning the Plame thing - although I don't have much to offer in terms of why they were still at it in 2005.
As Larisa said:
" ...my own speculation is that stage two (iran) went terribly wrong sometime in the summer of 2003. If you look at that period of time, from May until roughly November, it is as though the wheels suddenly came off the cart mid-game. Everything shifted. So if certain interests did have the Iranian regime change in mind, then they were terribly surprised by what went wrong sometime over that summer... In other words, somebody was double-crossed - that's just my theory - I’m not saying I’m right."Kathleen chimes in with:
"I do remember Stephen Hadley's name coming up a lot in what I read, and Robert Josephs too. It's definitely a group effort. WHIG.The 'computer glitch' was apparently 'in 2004' - so well after the Plame leak. This Guardian article has a good extract from Bamford's book - primarily the 'glitch' event and Operation Merlin (which has to be read to be believed for pure duncery)
I don't think Armitage was the original leaker either, but rather a planned fall back guy, so they could make their claim that Plame's identity and status were common knowledge.
Since Plame was working on WMD's in Iran, I think she needed to be outed. Then we have reports that the single author of the new Congressional report on Iran and nuclear weapons was Fred Flietz, a report debunked by Baradei, just like the Niger forgeries were. Bolton keeps asserting that Iran is defying the UN and enriching uranium, so the Fleitz/Bolton team is still in operation, while Plame is not.
James Risen says that a computer glitch outed the whole WMD team in Iran. Does anyone know when that happened in relation to the Plame leak?"
can anyone else help starroute?