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Health Care & Environment
11.20 Dead fish to power cruise ships [using dead fish to ultimately kill more fish, animals and plants but at a slower rate]
11.20 Importing gas to replace domestic supply could push emissions up 20%, AGL says [We have to stop killing everything!!!]
11.20 The arts have a leading role to play in tackling climate change [We have to stop killing everything!!!]
11.20 Indonesia: dead whale had 1,000 pieces of plastic in stomach [We have to stop killing everything!!!]
11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]
11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.21 With Statement Equal Parts 'Dangerous' and 'Imbecilic,' Trump Smears Khashoggi and Vows to Back Murderous Saudis [Keeping oil prices affordable prolongs its use, its burning and our dying]
11.20 New York City subway and bus services have entered 'death spiral', experts say [death spirals are the end-thing nowadays]
11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]
11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder
11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]
11.20 'He may not rewrite immigration laws': Trump's asylum ban blocked by federal judge [Has anyone thought about putting razor-wire around the White House?]
11.21 Saudi Arabia Accused of Torturing Jailed Women’s-Rights Activists [Trump's great friends...]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]
11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]
International & Futurism
11.20 Trump administration hawks putting US on course for war with Iran, report warns [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]
11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]
11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]
We're confused: didn't Reagan (using VP-candidate & ex-CIA Director George H.W. Bush and (soon-to-be CIA Director) William Casey and (now current Secretary of Defense) Robert Gates) sell Iran missiles to hold U.S. hostages longer to win the 1980 election?
A Neocon Preps US for War with Iran
Originally published in ConsortiumNews.com today, 12 August 2010
I guess I was naive in thinking that The Atlantic and its American-Israeli writer Jeffrey Goldberg might shy away from arguing for yet another war — this one with Iran — while the cauldrons are still boiling in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It’s worth remembering how Goldberg helped to make the case for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. For instance, on Oct. 3, 2002, as America’s war fever was building, Goldberg wrote in Slate, the online magazine:
Looking back on Goldberg’s commentaries at the time, it’s also a reminder of how many U.S. publications that are considered centrist or even liberal were bending over backward to get in line with that coming invasion.
Even earlier, on March 25, 2002, Goldberg filled the pages of The New Yorker with a mammoth 17,000-word story hyping Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s ties to terrorism and glossing over the ambiguities regarding the gassing of civilians in the Kurdish city of Halabja during the Iran-Iraq war.
Goldberg’s magnum opus, entitled “The Great Terror,” earned him high marks from other neocons and essentially “made” Goldberg’s career. The story was also made to order, so to speak, for President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Presenting Goldberg with an award for the article, the Overseas Press Club saw fit to note that former CIA director James Woolsey described the story as a “blockbuster.” Woolsey, the self-described "anchor of the Presbyterian wing of JINSA (The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs),” has been a strong advocate for the use of force against any and all perceived enemies of Israel.
Woolsey also was the prime manufacturer and a key disseminator of bogus “intelligence” on the Saddam-al-Qaeda connection. In The New Yorker article, while exaggerating Iraq’s links to terrorism, Goldberg quotes Woolsey complaining about the CIA’s alleged aversion to learning about Saddam’s ties to al-Qaeda.
It is a safe bet that Goldberg’s prose under the subhead “The Al-Qaeda Link” was inspired by Woolsey. But it gets worse; the detail in that section came mostly from a drug dealer in a Kurdish prison, whom a British journalist, following upon Goldberg’s reporting, quickly determined to be a “liar.”
A Friendly Reception
Yet, not surprisingly, Goldberg emerged from his work prepping the PR ground for the U.S. invasion of Iraq as a well-respected "journalist," so much so that he was afforded deferential treatment when he made a tour of the cable TV news programs this week promoting his new case for a new war, this time with Iran.
Goldberg had just produced a new magnum opus for another prestige journal, The Atlantic, entitled “The Point of No Return,” explaining Israel’s case for bombing Iran and the reasons why the United States should join in.
On Wednesday, Goldberg swatted away softball questions from MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell, who joined in a friendly chat about whether the U.S. or Israel or both should opt for what Mitchell described as a “military response” to the “Iranian nuclear threat,” and when.
Goldberg claimed that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu sees the challenge from Iran as being on a par with the Holocaust, believing that Iran is bent on the destruction of Israel with its 6 million people.
“Are you persuaded that Israel would take action against Iran unilaterally?” asked Mitchell. “Yes, I am; I am,” Goldberg responded.
Goldberg added that he believes that President Barack Obama is not prepared to live with a nuclear Iran but that it remains an open question whether he would take military action to prevent that eventuality. Goldberg said Obama “probably” would not.
And that being the case, Goldberg thought Netanyahu would be inclined to unleash Israeli forces unilaterally and absorb any damage this might do to bilateral relations with Washington.
At the end of the Mitchell interview, she lofted what appeared to be a canned question and, in response, Goldberg seemed downright eager to share what he called a “secret,” as he put it.
Mitchell asked when Obama planned to visit Israel. Goldberg, however, expressed a concern: “The Israelis are worried about Obama coming; they don’t want him to be boo-ed wherever he goes; that’s the last thing they need. Obama is not popular in Israel in the way Bush and Clinton were.”
The unmistakable message: An Obama tour of Israel could be an ugly affair.
Chatting with Wolf
Goldberg walked through a similar discussion on the merits of war when he appeared on CNN, a guest of Wolf Blitzer’s “The Situation Room.”
Not that it probably would have mattered, but someone probably should have told Andrea Mitchell and Wolf Blitzer that more skeptical observers have described Goldberg’s previous “journalism” in very unflattering terms.
One critic deemed Goldberg’s pre-Iraq War reporting for The New Yorker as “a journalism-school nightmare: bad sources, compromised sources, unacknowledged uncertainties ... with alarmist rhetoric that is now either laughable or nauseating, depending on your mood.”
For instance, the fact that many civilians were gassed as Iraqi and Iranian forces clashed on March 16, 1988, in the area of Halabja, just barely inside Iraq’s border with Iran, is beyond dispute.
However, what is not clear is the blockbuster charge that it was the Iraqis, rather than the Iranians, who used the deadly chemical warfare agents. The U.S. government has pointed the finger in both directions, often depending on which side of the conflict Washington was tilting toward.
A joint CIA and Defense Intelligence assessment focused in on the “blood agents (cyanogen chloride) deemed responsible for most of the deaths in Halabja and determined that the Iraqis had no history of using those particular agents, but that the Iranians did.
That particular CIA-DIA report concluded that, despite the conventional wisdom, “the Iranians perpetrated this attack.”
Dr. Stephen Pelletiere, a senior CIA analyst on Iraq during its war with Iran, told Roger Trilling of the Village Voice that he is one among many who believe that Goldberg’s account of the killings at Halabja was wrong and that the issue was far from academic. Pelletiere said:
It may well have been the most emotionally riveting argument, I suppose.
Debunking the Junk
But what about Iraq’s alleged WMDs and supposed ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda? Goldberg made an attempt to include those canards as well, focusing mostly on chemical and biological warfare agents. (He left to the New York Times’ Judith Miller, who was later fired, and Michael Gordon, who is still chief military correspondent, to do the heavy lifting for the lies about Iraq’s supposed nuclear weapons.)
A final story about Jeffrey Goldberg’s pre-Iraq-invasion stories: Just a week before Congress bowed to Bush’s request for war authorization against Iraq, Goldberg was writing in Slate about the dangers of “aflatoxin,” which he had cited 15 times in his New Yorker article.
However, Goldberg’s obsession with “aflatoxin” didn’t stand up too well after the U.S.-led invasion found no evidence that Iraq still had bio-weapons stockpiles. Regarding aflatoxin, Charles Duelfer, the Bush administration’s chief weapons inspector in Iraq, concluded that there was “no evidence to link those tests [of aflatoxin] with the development of biological weapons agents for military use.”
Ken Silverstein of Harper’s, among the more serious journalists who have had macabre fun critiquing Goldberg’s contribution to the Iraq War effort, wrote “Goldberg’s War,” one of the best critiques.
But who is Jeffrey Goldberg and how did he achieve such influence, helping to create the false conventional wisdom that sleep-walked the American people into war with Iraq and is now pointing toward a new war with Iran.
For a 44-year-old writer, Goldberg surely has been around. He left college to move to Israel where he served with the Israeli army as a prison guard at the Ketziot military prison camp during the First Intifada; he also wrote for The Jerusalem Post.
Upon his return to the U.S., he worked for the Jewish daily Forward and eventually got hired by The New Yorker. Now, he’s a star writer for The Atlantic.
Pitching for War
Goldberg’s mission this time? Pitching war with Iran.
This time, Goldberg and the Israelis want us to buy into a syllogism without a valid major premise. Their argument presupposes that Iran has made the decision to develop nuclear weapons and is hard at work on such a program, which is what they want Americans to believe whether there’s evidence or not.
The Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) and the neocons who brought us the war on Iraq, and occasionally the President himself, speak as though Iran has restarted work on the nuclear weapons part of their nuclear energy program.
This internal government debate (and the external propaganda) is a replay of three years ago, when the FCM succeeded in convincing most Americans that Iran either had nuclear weapons or was on the verge of getting them.
President Bush and Vice President Cheney were out in front hyping the danger, whipping the American people into another war frenzy -- when an honest National Intelligence Estimate stopped them in their tracks.
Two things saved the day: integrity and fear.
Integrity on the part of analysts who, after the corruption before the Iraq War, were able to revert to the tell-it-like-it-is-without-fear-or-favor ethos that obtained during my 27 years as a CIA analyst; and fear on the part of the senior U.S. military that Cheney and Bush were about to order them to commit U.S. forces to war with Iran.
The integrity played out during work on a congressionally mandated National Intelligence Estimate that it took almost all of 2007 to complete. Most of those intelligence officials who had “fixed” the intelligence on Iraq had been given the heave-ho.
New leadership was installed under the direction of a non-corruptible Director of the National Intelligence Council, Tom Fingar, from the State Department.
Under Fingar, intelligence analysts rose to the occasion on the delicate issue of Iran’s nuclear development program by performing a bottom-up assessment. There would be no “fixing” of intelligence around the policy. Main question: Had Iran decided to go for the bomb?
The NIE’s first sentence conveyed the unanimous conclusion of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies: “We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons.”
Fearing Another War
Fear now came into play and, for once, played a salutary role. Fear is simply a by-product of a sane appraisal of what war with Iran would mean. The senior U.S. military had enough good sense to be afraid and saw the NIE as an opportunity to stop the juggernaut toward war.
And so, they and those in Congress who had commissioned the NIE insisted that its key judgments be declassified and made public, despite reluctance on the part of the Director of National Intelligence to do so.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and CENTCOM commander William “Fox” Fallon had been living in fear of a Cheney-inspired order to commit U.S. forces to war with Iran. Fallon actually had told retired Col. Patrick Lang, a few months before Fallon was cashiered, “We are not going to do Iran on my watch.”
Fear? Yes, fear — an altogether sensible reaction. No commander worth his salt looks with equanimity at the prospect of being on the receiving end of an order that could decimate his troops and lead to a wider war for which his forces would not be adequate.
On a more personal basis, no commander wants to be faced with a choice between having to resign on principle on the one hand and carrying out an order he knows to be fatefully misguided on the other.
Good sense prevailed, over Cheney’s strong objections and Bush sent Mullen to Israel in June 2008 with instructions to warn the Israelis in no uncertain terms not to provoke war with Iran with any expectation that the U.S. would pull their chestnuts out of the fire.
Fast forward to the present. Where is Iran now in its nuclear program?
When an important National Intelligence Estimate needs updating, the art form often chosen is what is called a “Memorandum to Holders” — in the case at hand, holders of the original NIE of November 2007.
Such a paper need not repeat the bottom-up research and analysis completed immediately prior to November 2007; it simply requires a close look at evidence acquired from the end of 2007 to the present to determine whether there is reason to change the key judgments of three years ago.
Pressure to Rewrite?
We hear nothing from our sources about any substantial change over the past three years. That is not what the Goldbergs and other neocons of this world want to hear, and this presumably is why the Memorandum to Holders has been held up for months and months. Not a good sign.
Authoritative statements for the record have been sparse but reassuring, inasmuch as they seem to confirm the 2007 NIE's key judgments. Congressional testimony in February by then-Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, and in April by the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs revealed no major developments.
Moreover, Blair consistently hewed to the 2007 judgment that Iran's eventual decision on whether or not to build a nuclear weapon can still be influenced by "the international community."
Scattered statements by other high officials, including President Obama, sometimes convey a sense that Iran is again working toward a nuclear weapon, and the FCM has been leaving hints left and right that this is the case.
Folks like Jeffrey Goldberg refer casually, but intentionally, to “Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.”
The neocons seem to be as strong now as under George W. Bush, with their Real-Men-Go-to-Tehran-type macho undiminished.
Can integrity trump macho this time? Without a strong man at the helm in the intelligence community, it will be very difficult. And the administration let drop months ago that this time the key judgments of the Memorandum to Holders will not be made public.
Meanwhile, Goldberg and his neocon colleague flaks are trying to create as much pressure as they can on Obama to produce a scarier Estimate ... or to delay the one in progress sine die.
The outlook would seem even bleaker were it not for the availability of WikiLeaks and other non-FCM news outlets that would be ready and willing to publish documents about what is actually going on behind the scenes.
It would seem a safe bet that there are enough folks with access to the Memorandum to Holders drafts to recognize swiftly any attempt to corrupt honest judgments.
Some government officials will probably be able to recognize their own conscience, their integrity and their oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, as values that properly supersede other promises — like the promise not to release classified information that is a condition of employment.
Those who are tempted to exaggerate the threat from Iran will, at least, have to take into account how relatively easy it has become to evade the FCM’s gatekeepers and expose government dishonesty to the people.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served as an Army infantry/intelligence officer in the early Sixties and then as a CIA analyst for the next 27 years. He is now a member of the Standing Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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This story was published on August 12, 2010.