Friday, August 25, 2006

Republican Chutzpah on Iran

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Republican Chutzpah on Iran

By Larry Johnson

Larry C Johnson
(Thanks to SusanUNPC for help on this).

Chutzpah is a Yiddish term that means "unbelievable gall; insolence; audacity". Got to love Yiddish. No other term captures what the Republican staff members of the House Intelligence Committee accomplished today with the release of a partisan report on Iran. According to the Washington Post account:

A key House committee issued a stinging critique of U.S. intelligence on Iran yesterday, charging that the CIA and other agencies lack "the ability to acquire essential information necessary to make judgments" on Tehran's nuclear program, its intentions or even its ties to terrorism.

Gee whiz, "lack of essential information"? Like what? Nuclear weapons? Which brings me to Valerie Plame.

Valerie's identity was exposed by Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and others in Bush Administration in the summer of 2003 while she was doing undercover work to monitor, detect, and interdict nuclear technology going to Iran. Larisa Alexandrovna broke the story on Raw Story in February 2006. David Shuster confirmed the report on Hardball on 2 May 2006:

While the heart of the CIA leak investigation is the Bush administration`s aggressive defense of the WMD case for war in Iraq, there is new evidence now the defense may have undermined intelligence efforts on Iran.The key player in the CIA leak story is Valerie Wilson, a CIA operative whose identity was outed by White House officials. As MSNBC first reporter yesterday, Wilson was not just undercover but, according to intelligence sources, was part of an effort three years ago to monitor the proliferation of nuclear weapons material into Iran.

So, the Republicans want to whine about inadequate intelligence on Iran's nuclear program while holding fund raisers for Scooter Libby, one of the men implicated in the leak of Valerie's classified identity? Excuse me? The leak did more than ruin Val's ability to continue working as an undercover CIA officer. The leak destroyed a U.S. intelligence program to collect information about Iran's efforts to get nuclear weapons material.

What is particularly galling about this is how Peter Hoekstra has played politics with intelligence all along. In a letter to the White House earlier this year complaining about the possible appointment of Stephen Kappes as the Deputy Director of the CIA, Hoekstra said:

I am convinced that this politicization was underway well before Porter Goss became the Director. In fact, I have long been convinced that a strong and well-positioned group within the Agency intentionally undermined the Administration and its policies. This argument is supported by the Ambassador Wilson/Valerie Plame events, as well as by the string of unauthorized disclosures from an organization that prides itself with being able to keep secrets.

Instead of mounting an investigation to determine who exposed Mrs. Wilson and the intelligence operation she worked on, Hoekstra attacks CIA officers for being political hacks. Mr. Hoekstra, people who live in glass houses shouldn't chuck stones.

We now see a new effort by the Republicans to bully the intelligence community into identifying an imminent threat that does not exist. Iran has been a threat for 26 years. As reported in the Washington Post and New York Times, the intelligence community does not believe Iran is anywhere near to developing or deploying a nuclear weapon.

Peter Hoekstra wants to use his position as head of the Intelligence Committee to bully analysts and scare Americans. Meanwhile, he has sat idle as the Republican White House destroyed a viable intelligence operation to keep tabs on Iran's nuclear ambitions. That, my friends, is pure Chutzpah.


My CIA buddy, Jim Marcinkowski, who is running for Congress against a member of the House Intelligence Committee who remained silent when Valerie was betrayed, offered his take on this as well:

Mike Rogers has demonstrated time and again that he is out of touch with the security situation on the ground in the Middle East. His comments and his voting record make that clear.

  • In May of 2004, Rogers described the security situation in Baghdad as being no different than "walking in a rough neighborhood anywhere in America." Today, the situation in Baghdad is even more horrific, and Bush has called for additional US troops in an attempt to contain the violence.
  • Yesterday, Rogers criticized the United States' ability to acquire intelligence, particularly nuclear intelligence. Yet three years ago, he - a former FBI agent - stayed silent and did nothing when a veteran CIA agent who specialized in nuclear security issues and WMD was "outed" for political reasons.
  • In June of 2004, Rogers voted against increased funding for counter-terrorism efforts. This vote was taken despite a GOP-authored report attached to the bill arguing for additional funding."

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