Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fight 'em There Rather Than Here: Act III

Here's the latest on the run-up to our war with Iran:

James Clapper, the former general who heads our spying operations, was up on Capitol Hill Monday to brief the geniuses who make our laws.

He said:

. . . Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.

- Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons, making the central issue its political will to do so. These [technical] advancements contribute to our judgment that Iran is technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon, if it so chooses.

- We judge Iran’s nuclear decision making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence Tehran.

In short, not much new.

But I picked up the local paper yesterday and its headline on the Clapper testimony read: "Iran Willing to Attack on US Soil."  Whoa!   Boil the oil; the Hun is at the gates!  Can this be so?  Eric Schmitt, the New York Times: "In prepared testimony, the Obama administration’s top intelligence official said that Iran has become more willing to carry out attacks inside the United States."  Egads!  Hide the women and children.

What's the basis for this? The following paragraph in Clapper's testimony:

The 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States shows that some Iranian officials—probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei—have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived US actions that threaten the regime.

Plot? Assassinate?  Wait, wait, I remember.

Last October, Attorney General Eric  Holder announced that  U.S. agents had foiled  a plot allegedly directed by elements of the Iranian government to murder the Saudi Ambassador to the United States with explosives while the Ambassador was in the United States.  FBI Director Robert Mueller said the criminal complaint charged Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, a naturalized U.S. citizen holding both Iranian and U.S. passports, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iran-based member of Qud, an Iranian black ops outfit.

Arbabsiar was said to have met with Shakuri from the Spring of 2011 to October 2011 to plot the murder of the Saudi Ambassador, and arranged to hire a Mexican drug cartel member to murder the Ambassador using explosives. But the hitman turned out to be a double-agent working for the DEA within the cartel.  Our guys nabbed Arbabsiar at the border when he attempted to enter Mexico to make a down payment on the $1.5 million price of the assassination.

Hoo boy!  Hot stuff!

U.S. officials said that it was "more than likely" that Iran's topmost officials, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and General Qassem Suleimani, approved the plot but acknowledged this was based on  speculation rather than hard evidence: "It would be our assessment that this kind of operation would have been discussed at the highest levels of the regime."

A number of experts on Iran and the Middle East weren't buying this gang that couldn't shoot straight "plot." Alizera Nader, an analyst at the Rand Corporation, found it"difficult to believe." Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East analyst at the Congressional Research Service, said, "There is simply no reasonable rationale  for Iran working any plot, no matter where located, through a non-Muslim proxy such as Mexican drug gangs."  “This plot, if true, departs from all known Iranian policies and procedures,” said Gary Sick, an Iran expert at Columbia University who worked at the White House during the 1979 Iranian revolution and hostage crisis. He characterized working with "an amateur" and the Mexcan drug crowd  as "sloppy," and added:  “Whatever else may be Iran’s failings, they are not noted for utter disregard of the most basic intelligence tradecraft.”  One expert suggested that Arbabsiar was actually looking for a drug deal with the cartels, trading Afghan opium for cartel money.

So who, indeed, is this "amateur," Arabsiar?

A Texas used car dealer, described by his former business partner as "sort of a hustler. . . likable, but a bit lazy. . . He's no mastermind . . .I can't imagine him thinking up a plan like that. "

Would you buy a new war from this guy?

Perhaps you already have.

1 comment:

  1. I love a good status quo bias!

    I have always been skeptical of used car salesmen, but when you frame the sale in a freedom threatened by Iran manner, call the troops and sign me up to fight. This kid is in desperate need of a job, why not perform some behavioral research from the trenches. It might not be the exact model I envisioned, lacks the options, efficiency, and ride of alternatives, but the tires look solid.

    Let me sign another contract! That was easy can you help me push it off the lot?