"I'll take a stab.hmmm - thanks for that, Viget. I had been working under the presumption that Merlin was as described by Risen - i.e. a program to deliver some broken plans to Iran so that they'd build something that didnt work, but that might be wrong. There was obviously something seriously wrong with that purported plan if it was "sort of like cotton candy" and"melted on contact" - the Russian guy eyeballed the thing and immediately knew something was wrong, but there was no attempt to pull the plan at that point. That barely passes the sniff test. If Russian Guy immediately knew that the plans were screwed then they should have pulled the whole thing then and there. Mind you, I find it VERY difficult to believe that this is what happened - which 'begs the question' why they are telling this particular lie.
Perhaps Op Merlin was a tracer/sting operation whose purpose was to identify the players and routes in the nuclear proliferation black market. In order to appear credible, CIA NOCs and their agents had to offer something to their black market liasons, i.e. credible looking parts and/or plans that were in some ways defective. (I also might note, again, pure speculation here, that these decoys made for the CIA MIGHT be what actually appears in those CIA pictures of the Obhedi stash. See, for example EW's post here for an example of those pictures. Makes sense, if the CIA was already in the biz of manufacturing defective, credible-looking centrifuge parts and/or plans.) This is also supported by Risen's claim that part of op Merlin was outed by the Russian who realized that the blueprints to be given to Iranians were wrong.
These mini-sting operations could be conducted in concert with local law enforcement/intel agencies (if they're trusted), and then pressure could be brought to bear on the liasons to flip and reveal their contacts, and in so doing, work their way up the chain.
Or, the parts/plans/whatever might also have embedded tracking devices that could lead the CIA and other agencies to the locations of secret labs and/or facilities.
And here's a wild-assed speculation! What if, Bolton, through his normal duties as head of State's Nonproliferation office, found out about Op Merlin (or other ops like it) and the CIA teams running it (of which Plame, I'm sure, was just one part) and told his good buddies Cheney and Rumsfeld about it. These guys had been looking for a causus belli for a while for Iraq, and now they've just been handed one on a silver platter, courtesey of our own CIA.
Who cares if the parts and the plans are totally fake? The CIA can't speak out for fear of blowing their op and endangering national security. And it would be easy to game the intel, because the CIA already knew where all the faulty parts were!
So, in their zeal to go to war, the neocons might have totally destroyed a black-market tracing op, just so they could have their gamed intel.
Talk about sacrificing national security. It would also explain why the CIA was so pissed at the admin, and why Plame was outed; maybe she was threatening to go public like her husband had.
As for the glitch, I don't know. Maybe it's that communications error described at the beginning of the Risen passage. I'd love to know how the CIA could be so incompetent as to pass along information that allowed that double agent to ID virtually their entire spy network in Iran. You'd think they'd have that kind of info heavily classified and guarded, hopefully not even safe enough to leave Langley. Hard to believe, really."
AFAIK, Merlin only included blueprints, nothing physical, so i don't think it is likely that Obedei was part of this specific operation.
As for the Bolton speculation, that seems more than plausible.
As for the glitch, we are indeed, specifically, talking about 'that communications error' that Risen mentions. And yes, it is quite hard to believe. From memory, i think that emptywheel has some theory on this. I wish she wasn't stupidly flying around the world, stupidly satisfying stupid corporate clients so that she can stupidly put stupid food on her stupid table.
* starroute helpfully notes that the AQ Khan ring was effectively busted in early 2003, which means that it predates the 2004 'glitch.' anon noted that:
"2004 is interesting for the glitch. I read somewhere on this blog about inputs and outputs/Iran. Have your brilliant readers failed to connect the dots?""I have no idea what anon is pointing to there. The input/output thing relates to Plame from the summer of 03. Perhaps anon is saying that the 2004 date for the glitch is 'interesting' because it happened at some time other than 2004.
"I never believed the 'glitch' story. I think it was to finish off the whole team, starting with outing Plame. Anon and I are on the same page.(LeeB makes the requisite gag about the forgeries)
How many dots do we need to get the picture? Of course they want war with Iran and Iraq, and Syria and North Korea and whoever the hell else they can make billions off of by fomenting war everywhere. W stands for Wall to Wall War!!!
Are we going to have to get into pointilism here to get this picture? We have been selling arms to both sides of wars that we fomented for how many years???? Iran-Contra, folks. It's even the same bozos, lugging the cash.
With the old cliche in mind, "It takes one to know one", just apply the One Percent Doctrine to Darth.
Glitch, my ass.
They are projecting their own stupidity on to us. They are waaaaay past 'denial". They are in deep disassociation, schitzo. Think about it. They want us now to believe that booze can turn you into a gay pedophile.
Does that mean they'll pass a bill requiring alcoholic beverages to come with a warning on the label?
P.S. Maybe the $2m was to pay for the Iranian equivalent of a "Curveball"? Some crook who needed out fast and would say whatever. It worked before.
Darth Cheney would be getting billions through Halliburton.
P.P.S. Maybe the $2m was for a new set of forgeries, you know, yellowcake from Niger in Iran?"
I agree with Kathleen's "Glitch, my ass. " comment. and I agree broadly with her sentiment that: "Maybe the $2m was to pay for the Iranian equivalent of a "Curveball"? Some crook who needed out fast and would say whatever. " - but as I mentioned in the previous post, I'm somewhat confused by the fact that they didnt find a way to pay this person off-book, or alternatively, they didnt find a way to launder his information regardless of the payment. Their M.O. (according to Merlin) was to try to charge for the info (apparently just to give the veneer of legitimacy), but to give it away for free if that was the best they could do.
I'm still confused.