On September 25, 2003, the House Intel Committee blamed the intelligence agencies for the failure on WMD's. I don't know if that was the precipitating factor for the CIA request the next day that the Plame leak be investigated, but it's struck me as a possibility.hmmm - interesting.
See, for example, this Washington Post story titled "House Probers Conclude Iraq War Data Was Weak.
There was a flurry of activity involving Iran between June and October of 2003. My impression is that the invasion of Iraq was putting pressure on Iran to be more accomodating towards the US -- and that a prime objective of whatever backroom intriguing was going on was to attempt to sabotage any actual agreement.and
Even before the war, claims about Iran's nuclear program had been building up. In December 2002, there were allegations that Iran had a gas-centrifuge facility for uranium enrichment, which Iran denied. However, on February 10, 2003 Iran acknowledged it was building a nuclear-energy facility at Natanz. On February 12, Larry Franklin and the AIPAC folks started their discussions of US policy towards Iran. On February 21, El Baradei and his team visited Iran and were shocked to find that the centrifuges were of Pakistani design.
Things really heated up in June, though. There was the Rhode-Ghorbanifar meeting in Paris, probably early in the month, which allegedly had the objective of preventing a deal whereby Iran would hand over some high-ranking al-Qaeda members and in return the US would stop supporting the terrorist MEK or even hand over MEK members. (This from Juan Cole citing the Jerusalem Post.) According to Eurasianet, there was a conflict at this time between the Neocons and the State Department over whether to ally with MEK against the Iranian government.
At about the same time, there were pro-democracy student demonstrations going on in Iran, which George Bush endorsed on June 15; on June 16, El Baradei called on Iran to allow more intrusive nuclear inspections; and on June 17, the French arrested 165 MEK members at their headquarters near Paris. It's apparent that something was going on behind the scenes -- perhaps an abortive attempt to foment an Iranian uprising -- but whatever it was, it seems to have died down again after the arrests.
On July 10-13, the IAEA held discussions with Iran and asked for full transparency. This led to the visit of an IAEA team to Iran on August 9-12 to inspect their nuclear sites. On August 15, Colin Powell listed the National Council of Resistance of Iran as an MEK alias and ordered its US offices closed and its assets frozen. The NCR claimed that it was being listed as part of negotiations whereby Iran had agreed to let in the IAEA and turn over the al-Qaeda operatives it was holding. The IAEA reported on August 26 that it had found particles of highly enriched uranium at Natanz, but Iran argued (ed: correctly, as it happens, AFAIK) that they must have come in with the imported centrifuges.
All of this can be seen in the context of Michael Ledeen's claims that in early August, Ghorbanifar had introduced him to an informant who knew where highly enriched uranium was hidden in Iraq. If the June events were aimed at an Iranian popular uprising, the August events seem to have been more narrowly targeted at developing a causus belli.
By October, however, the A.Q. Khan network had been exposed and Iran had agreed to accept tougher IAEA inspections. At that point whatever behind-the-scenes plotting had been going on since June seems to have died out. According to the Larry Franklin indictment, on October 24, he and Naor Gilon spoke on the phone about how work on the US policy towards Iran with which they have been concerned seemed to have stopped.
(More on Ghorba's claim about uranium in iraq)lemme re-re-re-repeat, starroute speak, you listen.
As reported by MSNBC:Ledeen says that in early August, Manucher Ghorbanifar—an Iranian businessman whose claims of contacts among Tehran moderates touched off the Iran-contra scandal—put him in touch with an informant claiming to know where highly enriched uranium was hidden in postwar Iraq.However, here's the really interesting part of that little caper -- this from the new Woodward book, as quoted at American Prospect:
LEDEEN TOOK THIS info to top Defense contacts, who passed it to the CIA (which in the 1980s ordered its operatives to shun Ghorbanifar). Ledeen says agency spooks did meet in Iraq with Ghorbanifar’s subsource. The contact soured when the CIA demanded a sample of the alleged nuclear material.At another point Kay got a cable from the CIA that the vice president wanted him to send someone to Switzerland to meet with an Iranian named Manucher Ghorbanifar.So Cheney was right in the middle of it -- and willing to pay $2 million for the privilege? Verrrry interesting...
“I recognize this one,” Kay said when he saw the cable. “This one I’m not going to do.” . . .
This time, Kay read, Ghorbanifar claimed to have an Iranian source who knew all about Iraqi nuclear weapons, but who wanted $2 million in advance, and who would not talk directly to the U.S., only through Ghorbanifar.
Kay discovered the latest Ghorbanifar stunt involved Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, a former NSC colleague of Oliver North who had been involved with Ghorbanifar in the Iran-contra days.
it's remarkable that cheney was not only trying to direct Kay to specific geo-coordinates, and also that he was trying to recruit ghorba (altho as larisa has reported, cheney and ghorba are still working together in a bunch of areas). As i mentioned earlier, i suspect that there's some 'camouflage' in the story that Cheney & Libby were directing Kay to Lebanon - and if i'm correct about that, then i suspect that there's a very good reason that they are trying to misdirect. was cheney trying to point Kay to wherever the hell he had organized to plant WMDs in iraq?
it's also remarkable that cheney and/or ghorba demanded that ghorba be the point-person on this deal, and secondarily that cheney got the CIA to contact Kay when the CIA had already ruled Ghorba outta bounds.
also remarkable, if Cheney was really willing to pay Ghorba $2m for his nonsense - that's 8% of one osama. i wonder if cheney was going to get a cut of the $2m. Larisa has reported that Ghorba's story was trying to implicate both Iraq and Iran:
"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. It later emerged that the Iranian exile was trying to collect money for his tales, sources say."One thing I dont quite understand is how to reconcile the demands for the $2m up-front - either they wanted to justify iraq and implicate iran, or they wanted the $$$$. They ended up getting neither. Compare and contrast with Operation Merlin:
"The Russian, who had defected to the US years earlier, still couldn't believe the orders he had received from CIA headquarters. The CIA had given him the nuclear blueprints and then sent him to Vienna to sell them - or simply give them - to the Iranian representatives to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)."If it really was an op to implicate Iran and justify the Iraq war, then they probably should have been willing to forgo the $2m - unless Cheney was getting a cut. I don't get it.
Speaking of Operation Merlin, anon in the comments to the same post adds, intriguingly:
"Merlin's was able to wisthand some "hits" despite the outing of NOC. The glitch was a final nail in that program. The NOC running Iran case workers was outed, but the agents and case workers were not - at least not all of either type. 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?"hmmm. taking anon at face value, 'NOC' is presumably Plame. So Merlin was initiated in 2000, Plame was outed mid 2003, the glitch was at some point in 2004. The inputs/outputs to Iran are obviously a reference to larisa's Plame/Iran story. So, again taking anon at face value, if we take Merlin to be limited to the bungled attempt to give Iran dodgy nuke plans, which the Russian agent immediately (in 2000) realized was nonsense, anon seems to be suggesting that Merlin was somehow still alive in 2003 when Plame was outed, and even beyond then, into 2004 until the 'glitch' which somehow flushed out the extant remnants of the program.
i dont know about my much-vaunted 'brilliant readers' - but consider me somewhat flummoxed. ok - so plame was following the ins and outs of iran's program. Plame was outed in 2003, Merlin was outed in 2000 (privately, at least) - but the program was still alive somehow - so they needed the 2004 'glitch' to flush out the rest of the program (and the people involved)
AQ Khan was outed in January 04 - and 'he' was supplying Iran with the nuclear-black-market technology - was the 'glitch' somehow related to his outing?
anon? anyone? help me out here.