The anti-Iran info-op today gets into the deep seated fears that Americans have of Islamic terrorism. The front page of the Washington Post breathlessly tells us that Iran has been judged by the U.S. intelligence community to be likely to react to an attack on their nuclear program by unleashing terrorist operatives in Iraq and Europe.
As tensions increase between the United States and Iran, U.S. intelligence and terrorism experts say they believe Iran would respond to U.S. military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide.
Iran would mount attacks against U.S. targets inside Iraq, where Iranian intelligence agents are already plentiful, predicted these experts. There is also a growing consensus that Iran's agents would target civilians in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, they said.
U.S. officials would not discuss what evidence they have indicating Iran would undertake terrorist action, but the matter "is consuming a lot of time" throughout the U.S. intelligence apparatus, one senior official said. "It's a huge issue," another said...
(T)errorism experts considered Iranian-backed or controlled groups -- namely the country's Ministry of Intelligence and Security operatives, its Revolutionary Guards and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah -- to be better organized, trained and equipped than the al-Qaeda network that carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The Iranian government views the Islamic Jihad, the name of Hezbollah's terrorist organization, "as an extension of their state. . . . operational teams could be deployed without a long period of preparation," said Ambassador Henry A. Crumpton, the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism...
Government officials said their interest in Iran's intelligence services is not an indication that a military confrontation is imminent or likely, but rather a reflection of a decades-long adversarial relationship in which Iran's agents have worked secretly against U.S. interests, most recently in Iraq and Pakistan.
It is merely a coincidence that we are ramping up against the Iranian intelligence services and their proxies at a time when we are extremely stretched in that area elsewhere.
Former CIA terrorism analyst Paul R. Pillar said that any U.S. or Israeli airstrike on Iranian territory "would be regarded as an act of war" by Tehran, and that Iran would strike back with its terrorist groups. "There's no doubt in my mind about that. . . . Whether it's overseas at the hands of Hezbollah, in Iraq or possibly Europe, within the regime there would be pressure to take violent action."...
Iran's intelligence services "are well trained, fairly sophisticated and have been doing this for decades," said Crumpton, a former deputy of operations at the CIA's Counterterrorist Center. "They are still very capable. I don't see their capabilities as having diminished."...
The current state of Iran's intelligence apparatus is the subject of debate among experts. Some experts who spent their careers tracking the intelligence ministry's operatives describe them as deployed worldwide and easier to monitor than Hezbollah cells because they operate out of embassies and behave more like a traditional spy service such as the Soviet KGB.
You know that the Al-Qaeda link has to come up somewhere.
A report by the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks cited al-Qaeda's long-standing cooperation with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah on certain operations and said Osama bin Laden may have had a previously undisclosed role in the Khobar attack. Several al-Qaeda figures are reportedly under house arrest in Iran.
Others in the law enforcement and intelligence circles have been more dubious about cooperation between al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, largely because of the rivalries between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Al-Qaeda adherents are Sunni Muslims; Hezbollah's are Shiites.
Under the logic (sic) of the illegal preventive war doctrine, the fears of Iranian retaliation to a U.S. attack being trumpeted today could be a trigger for an American first strike. At a minimum, today's fear-mongering will add to the laundry list of reasons justifying to the public our eventual strike on Iran.
Also today, the Washington Post goes with a lead editorial on the Iran nuclear issue, and why the nefarious Russians cannot be trusted to reliably advance the goals of U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic. The anti-Russia info-op being an adjunct to the larger program against Iran.
If diplomacy is going to be effective, considerably greater pressure will have to be placed on a regime that has been riding a wave of radicalism.
Greater pressure through the Security Council will require, first of all, greater cooperation from Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin so far has been the biggest winner in the diplomatic maneuvering. The Bush administration's hope that Mr. Putin will help explains why it has failed to react to Russian provocations in much of the rest of the world. So the first step toward a more effective Iran policy is to call Mr. Putin's bluff. If he does not share the interest of the other Group of Eight nations in punishing the Iranian leadership for its pursuit of nuclear weapons, then there should be no further reason to treat him as an ally. He should be asked for a decision before he hosts the G8 summit in St. Petersburg this summer.
The idea for threatening Russia with a boycotted G8 summit was first floated (from who's helpful tip?) by the odious Anne Applebaum on March 8 in the Post. See: Skip St. Petersburg, Mr. Bush.
The timeline for the attack against Iran, as evidenced by the sequence of inflammatory stories in the media is proceeding exactly as necessary to prepare the nation for a pre-election U.S. military strike.