BUSH’S PHONY IRAN ‘THREAT’ EXPOSED
By Bill Gallagher
DETROIT — The stunned reaction of so many to the intelligence report that Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003 frankly stuns me. President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and their legions of neoconservative warmongers use lies and deceptions so routinely, I’ve learned to anticipate them.
The mainstream media trumpeted the assessment in a National Intelligence Estimate as a “bombshell,” a “major reversal” and a “shocking development.” Where have these people been? Don’t they remember the serial lies used to sell the war in Iraq? “Mushroom cloud” Condi Rice told us we had to invade Iraq to avoid nuclear annihilation. Cheney declared with sober certainty that Saddam Hussein had “reconstituted nuclear weapons.”
The script is predictable. Describe a doomsday scenario, scare the hell out of people and get the compliant media to serve as the echo chamber for the inflamed, lie-laced rhetoric. CNN, determined to challenge the Fox News Channel as the “We Love War” network, already had produced a piece aimed at ramping up the propaganda for war with Iran. Originally slated to air this Wednesday on “CNN Presents,” the program dubbed “We Were Warned — Iran Goes Nuclear” was billed as a “speculative documentary” (read: fiction).
The shameless shills at CNN had actors and former government officials playing the roles of government leaders discussing how to cope with the Iranian nuclear threat. The special has been postponed because, as CNN Vice President Mark Nelson told Variety, it was “based on a different set of rules and a different set of conditions,” noting the NIE report “changed everything.”
What’s changed? Bush still insists Iran remains “dangerous,” especially “if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,” which Iranian scientists certainly have. The executives at CNN are still hucksters and whores. So let’s go on with the show.
In October — long after learning Iran had no nuclear weapons program — Bush was warning us that we needed to confront Iran “if you’re interested in avoiding World War III.” Norman Podhoretz, the neocon nut and Rudy Giuliani’s foreign policy adviser, had been urging Bush to launch an attack on Iran as soon as possible — an event Podhoretz says he and his ilk “pray every day” for.
The “bad news” of the NIE had the neocons rattled for a few minutes, but they quickly spun a new set of lies to try to twist the truth, threatening their march to yet another disastrous war.
Remember, all the manly men — including Podhoretz — who signed the Project for a New American Century’s manifesto in 1999 wanted to confront Iraq and Iran with or without those nations possessing nuclear weapons.
The neocon goal, which Bush dutifully pursues, is to position the United States and Israel as the only significant military powers in the Middle East, and thus control the petroleum reserves and dominate the region economically. The “war on terror” and fabricated “threats” from Iraq and Iran are ruses to justify permanent U.S. military bases in the neighborhood.
Podhoretz sees a plot and another intelligence community move to undermine Bush. “This time, the purpose is to head off the possibility that the president may order air strikes on the Iranian nuclear installation,” Podhoretz writes.
Think Progress reports a Podhoretz rant in which he argued the “intelligence community, having been excoriated for supporting the then universal belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, is now bending over backward to counter what has up to now been a similarly universal view … that Iran is hell-bent on developing nuclear weapons.”
The godfather of the neocons declared that, “having been excoriated as well for minimizing the time it would take Saddam to add nuclear weapons to his arsenal, the intelligence community is now bending over backward to maximize the time it will take Iran to reach the same goal.”
Podhoretz, upon whom Bush conferred a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004, sees a conspiracy: “The intelligence community, which has for some years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush, is doing it again.” Mercy me! Call in the National Guard! It’s another “intelligence failure.” The bastards are out to get Bush and are shaping the facts to thwart the next neocon-planned war.
Cheney is a master leaker. Just ask Scooter Libby and Valerie Plame Wilson. Big Dick told Politico.com that the NIE on Iran was released because the administration wanted to be “upfront with what we know.” Pure crap. Cheney would have deep-sixed the report if he’d thought he could get away with it.
Later, in a lapse into honesty, Cheney admitted one reason the report was made public was because “everything leaks.” Cheney and Bush kept the NIE under wraps for as long as they could, releasing it only when they feared the anticipated leak would show they are even bigger lying sons of bitches than is recognized.
Juan Cole of the University of Michigan offers a penetrating analysis on how the NIE became public. Cole is a scholar and seeker of the truth. I have interviewed him several times at his Ann Arbor home. His living room is lined with the kind of books you know Cheney and Bush would never read.
Cole is a realist and he has been right on the keys issues in the Middle East as often as Podhoretz has been wrong. On his blog, Informed Comment, Cole presented this view on the release of the NIE: “My guess is that Admiral William J. Fallon, the CENTCOM commander, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, may well have cooperated with figures in the intelligence world to get the report written and some of it released, especially since Congress had mandated that it be completed and its findings conveyed by a date certain.”
Fallon has reportedly said privately an attack on Iran “will not happen on my watch.” Cole writes Mullen “has worried that the way the U.S. is bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq will prevent Washington from replying decisively to any other foe or crisis.”
Cole sees the Irish sailors skillfully outmaneuvering the vice president in alerting the world about Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program: “Cheney clearly was making a push for war on Iran his fall. The real puzzle is how the NIE got past his team of plumbers, which still includes convicted perjurer Scooter Libby. That’s why I say there was more moxie behind the NIE, of the sort an admiral has, or better two admirals.”
Two years after Iran abandoned its nuclear program, Cheney proclaimed just the opposite with his typical certitude and ominous tones. Tehran was a threat to world peace, sponsoring terrorism and building a “fairly robust nuclear program,” Cheney said on the “Imus in the Morning” show on Jan. 21, 2005, a few hours before Bush’s second inaugural address. In the same interview, Cheney suggested a surrogate for violence: “Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.”
Cheney was doing more than thinking out loud. In September, “Newsweek” magazine reported Cheney was pressing the Israelis to launch missile strikes on Iran. According to the report, Cheney’s former Middle East adviser David Wurmser told a small group that Cheney wanted to ask Israel to do the dirty work.
Two-thirds of Israelis oppose an attack on Iran, a new poll shows. The Israelis, like the American people, are far more restrained than their political leaders. I would suggest that if Israel bombs Iran, special arrangements should be made for Cheney and Podhoretz to participate. They can take on the role of Major T.J. “King” Kong, the Slim Pickens character in the film “Dr. Strangelove.” They can put on their cowboys hats and mount the bombs they love, riding them to glory and oblivion.
But, silly me, I should know desiccated chickenhawks like Cheney and Podhoretz never get their own vile feathers ruffled.
Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox2 News. His e-mail address is email@example.com.