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From “Curveball” to a Bunt Play?

July 20, 2010

In true Hollywood fashion and with a similar cast of “characters” – a rogue nation, radical Islam, the CIA, wanna-be WMD, oil, Israel, neo-cons and the rest of the behind-the-scenes skulduggery,  the media is presenting a tragicomedy spin-off of the long-running Iraqi original hit “Curveball” with the “defection” exploits of Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri. From Asia Times Online:

Contrary to a news media narrative that Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri has provided the United States with intelligence on covert Iranian nuclear weapons work, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sources familiar with the Amiri case say he told his CIA handlers that there was no such Iranian nuclear weapons program, according to a former CIA officer.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counter-terrorism official, told Inter Press Service (IPS) that his sources were CIA officials with direct knowledge of the entire Amiri operation.

The CIA contacts say that Amiri had been reporting to the CIA for some time before being brought to the United States while the hajj (pilgrimage) to Saudi Arabia last year, Giraldi told IPS, initially using satellite-based communication. But the contacts also say Amiri was a radiation safety specialist who was “absolutely peripheral” to Iran’s nuclear program, according to Giraldi.

Amiri provided “almost no information” about Iran’s nuclear program, said Giraldi, but had picked up “scuttlebutt”, meaning rumor or gossip, from other nuclear scientists with whom he was acquainted, that the Iranians had no active nuclear weapon program.

Giraldi said information from Amiri’s debriefings was only a minor contribution to the intelligence community’s reaffirmation in the latest assessment of Iran’s nuclear program of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)’s finding that work on a nuclear weapon has not been resumed after being halted in 2003.

Amiri’s confirmation is cited in one or more footnotes to the new intelligence assessment of Iran’s nuclear program, called a “Memorandum to Holders”, according to Giraldi, but it is now being reviewed, in light of Amiri’s “re-defection” to Iran.

Ostensibly, the scripted end is to justify somebody (ahem) doing a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities to prevent them from becoming a nuclear power. Again, from Asia Times Online:

In creating that false narrative, journalists have evidently been guided by personal convictions on the issue that are aligned with certain US, European and Israeli officials who have been pressuring the Barack Obama administration to reject the 2007 estimate.

For the Israelis and for some US officials, reversing the conclusion that Iran was not actively pursuing weaponization was considered a precondition for maneuvering US policy into a military confrontation with Iran.

I say tragicomedy because, well, the desperation is so damned funny and obvious, yet overwhelmingly tragic because the end result will be far worse than the still oozing wounds of the Iraq debacle and likely change the entire complexion of operations in Afghanistan. At what point do the wingnuts in DC think Sunni/Shi’a feud will be put aside to focus on a greater enemy? How long do they think China and Russia are going to tolerate the not-so-subtle threat on Iranian energy resources? And what does (the wet-dream of a) subdued Iran mean for Israeli Lebensraum?

To hell with “hmm”, how about WTF?

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