Unlike the attack on
Iraq five years ago, to deal with Iran there need be no massing of troops. And,
with the propaganda buildup already well under way, there need be little, if
any, forewarning before shock and awe and pox in the form of air and
missile attacks begin.
This time it will be largely the Air Force's
show, punctuated by missile and air strikes by the Navy. Israeli-American agreement
has now been reached at the highest level; the armed forces planners, plotters
and pilots are working out the details.
Emerging from a 90-minute White House meeting with
President George W. Bush on June 4, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said
the two leaders were of one mind:
"We reached agreement on the need to take care
of the Iranian threat. I left with a lot less question marks [than] I had entered
with regarding the means, the timetable restrictions, and American resoluteness
to deal with the problem. George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian
threat and the need to vanquish it, and intends to act on that matter before
the end of his term in the White House."
Does that sound like a man concerned that Bush is
just bluff and bluster?
A member of Olmert's delegation noted that
same day that the two countries had agreed to cooperate in case of an attack
by Iran, and that "the meetings focused on 'operational matters'
pertaining to the Iranian threat." So bring 'em on!
A show of hands please. How many believe Iran is
about to attack the U.S. or Israel?
You say you missed Olmert's account of what
Bush has undertaken to do? So did I. We are indebted to intrepid journalist
Chris Hedges for including the quote in his article of June 8, "The
We can perhaps be excused for missing Olmert's
confident words about "Israel's best friend" that week. Your
attention like mine may have been riveted on the June 5 release
of the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding administration
misrepresentations of pre-Iraq-war intelligence the so-called "Phase
II" investigation (also known, irreverently, as the "Waiting-for-Godot
Better late than never, I suppose.
Yet I found myself thinking:
It took them five years, and that is what passes for oversight? Yes, the president
and vice president and their courtiers lied us into war. And now a bipartisan
report could assert that fact formally; and committee chair Jay Rockefeller
could sum it up succinctly:
"In making the case for war, the administration
repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated,
contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led
to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed."
But as I listened to Senator Rockefeller, I had this
sinking feeling that in five or six years time, those of us still around will
be listening to a very similar post mortem looking back on an even more disastrous
attack on Iran.
My colleagues and I in Veteran Intelligence Professionals
for Sanity (VIPS) issued repeated warnings, before the invasion of
Iraq, about the warping of intelligence. And our memoranda met considerable
resonance in foreign media.
We could get no ink or airtime, however, in the Fawning
Corporate Media (FCM) in the U.S. Nor can we now.
In a same-day critique of Colin Powell's unfortunate
speech to the U.N. on Feb. 5, 2003, we warned the president to widen his circle
of advisers "beyond those clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling
reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be
It was a no-brainer for anyone who knew anything
about intelligence, the Middle East, and the brown noses leading intelligence
analysis at the CIA.
Former U.N. senior weapons inspector and former
Marine major, Scott Ritter, and many others were saying the same thing. But
none of us could get past the president's praetorian guard to drop a memo
into his in-box, so to speak. Nor can we now.
The 'Iranian Threat'
However much the same
warnings are called for now with respect to Iran, there is even less prospect
that any contrarians could puncture and break through what former White House
spokesman Scott McClellan calls the president's "bubble."
By all indications, Vice President Dick Cheney and
his huge staff continue to control the flow of information to the president.
But, you say, the president cannot be unaware of
the far-reaching disaster an attack on Iran would bring?
Well, this is a president who admits he does not
read newspapers, but rather depends on his staff to keep him informed. And the
memos Cheney does brief to Bush pooh-pooh the dangers.
This time no one is saying we will be welcomed as
liberators, since the planning does not include officially, at least
any U.S. boots on the ground.
Besides, even on important issues like the price
of gasoline, the performance of the president's staff has been spotty.
Think back on the White House press conference of
Feb. 28, when Bush was asked what advice he would give to Americans facing the
prospect of $4-a-gallon gasoline.
"Wait, what did you just say?" the president
interrupted. "You're predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline?...That's
interesting. I hadn't heard that."
A poll in January showed that nearly three-quarters
of Americans were expecting $4-a-gallon gas. That forecast was widely reported
in late February, and discussed by the White House press secretary at the media
briefing the day before the president's press conference.
Here's the alarming thing: Unlike Iraq, which
was prostrate after the Gulf War and a dozen years of sanctions, Iran can retaliate
in a number of dangerous ways, launching a war for which our forces are ill-prepared.
The lethality, intensity and breadth of ensuing hostilities
will make the violence in Iraq look, in comparison, like a volleyball game between
St. Helena's High School and Mount St. Ursula.
Attacking Iran is Vice President
Dick Cheney's brainchild, if that is the correct word.
Cheney proposed launching air strikes last summer
on Iranian Revolutionary Guards bases, but was thwarted by the Joint Chiefs
of Staff who insisted that would be unwise, according to J. Scott Carpenter,
a senior State Department official at the time.
Chastened by the unending debacle in Iraq, this time
around Pentagon officials reportedly are insisting on a "policy decision"
regarding "what would happen after the Iranians would go after our folks,"
according to Carpenter.
Serious concerns include the vulnerability of the
critical U.S. supply line from Kuwait to Baghdad, our inability to reinforce
and the eventual possibility that the U.S. might be forced into a choice between
ignominious retreat and using, or threatening to use, "mini-nukes."
Pentagon opposition was confirmed in a July 2007
commentary by former Bush adviser Michael Gerson, who noted the "fear
of the military leadership" that Iran would have "escalation dominance"
in any conflict with the U.S.
Writing in the Washington Post last July, Gerson
indicated that "escalation dominance" means, "in a broadened
conflict, the Iranians could complicate our lives in Iraq and the region more
than we complicate theirs."
The Joint Chiefs also have opposed the option of
attacking Iran's nuclear sites, according to former Iran specialist at
the National Security Council, Hillary Mann, who has close ties with senior
Mann confirmed that Adm. William Fallon joined the
Joint Chiefs in strongly opposing such an attack, adding that he made his opposition
known to the White House, as well.
The outspoken Fallon was forced to resign in March,
and will be replaced as CENTCOM commander by Gen. David Petraeus apparently
in September. Petraeus has already demonstrated his penchant to circumvent the
chain of command in order to do Cheney's bidding (by making false claims
about Iranian weaponry in Iraq, for example).
In sum, a perfect storm seems to be gathering in
late summer or early fall.
The experience of those
of us whose job it was to analyze the controlled media of the Soviet Union and
China for insights into Russian and Chinese intentions have been able to put
that experience to good use in monitoring our own controlled media as they parrot
the party line.
Suffice it to say that the FCM is already well embarked,
a la Iraq, on its accustomed mission to provide stenographic services for the
White House to indoctrinate Americans on the "threat" from Iran
and prepare them for the planned air and missile attacks.
At least this time we are spared the "mushroom
cloud" bugaboo. Neither Bush nor Cheney wish to call attention, even indirectly,
to the fact that all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies concluded last November that
Iran had stopped nuclear weapons-related work in 2003 and had not resumed it
as of last year.
In a pre-FCM age, it would have been looked on as
inopportune, at the least, to manufacture intelligence to justify another war
hard on the heels of a congressional report that on Iraq the administration
made significant claims not supported by the intelligence.
But (surprise, surprise!) the very damning Senate
Intelligence Committee report got meager exposure in the media.
So far it has been a handful of senior military officers
that have kept us from war with Iran. It hardly suffices to give them vocal
encouragement, or to warn them that the post WW-II Nuremberg Tribunal ruled
explicitly that "just-following-orders" is no defense when war crimes
And still less when the "supreme international
crime" a war of aggression is involved.
Senior officers trying to slow the juggernaut lumbering
along toward an attack on Iran have been scandalized watching what can only
be described as unconscionable dereliction of duty in the House of Representatives,
which the Constitution charges with the duty of impeaching a president, vice
president or other senior official charged with high crimes and misdemeanors.
Where Are You, Conyers?
In 2005, before John
Conyers became chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary, he introduced
a bill to explore impeaching the president and was asked by Lewis Lapham of
Harpers why he was for impeachment then. He replied:
"To take away the excuse that we didn't
know. So that two, or four, or ten years from now, if somebody should ask, 'Where
were you, Conyers, and where was the U.S. Congress?' when the Bush administration
declared the Constitution inoperative...none of the company here present
can plead ignorance or temporary insanity [or] say that 'somehow it escaped
In the three years since then, the train of abuses
and usurpations has gotten longer and Conyers has become chair of the committee.
Yet he has dawdled and dawdled, and has shown no appetite for impeachment.
On July 23, 2007, Conyers told Cindy Sheehan, Rev.
Lennox Yearwood, and me that he would need 218 votes in the House and they were
A week ago, 251 members of the House voted to refer
to Conyers' committee the 35 Articles of Impeachment proposed by Congressman
Former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, who sat
on Judiciary with Conyers when it voted out three articles of impeachment on
President Richard Nixon, spoke out immediately: "The House should commence
an impeachment inquiry forthwith."
Much of the work has been done. As Holtzman noted,
Kucinich's Articles of Impeachment, together with the Senate report that
on Iraq we were led to war based on false pretenses arguably the most
serious charge go a long way toward jump-starting any additional investigative
work Congress needs to do.
And seldom mentioned is the voluminous book published
by Conyers himself, "Constitution in Crisis," containing a wealth
of relevant detail on the crimes of the current executive.
Conyers' complaint that there is not enough
time is a dog that won't hunt, as Lyndon Johnson would say.
How can Conyers say this one day, and on the next
say that if Bush attacks Iran, well then, the House may move toward impeachment.
Afraid of the media?
During the meeting last
July with Cindy Sheehan, Rev. Yearwood and me, and during an interview in December
on "Democracy Now," Conyers was surprisingly candid in expressing
his fear of Fox News and how it could paint Democrats as divisive if they pursued
Ironically, this time it is Fox and the rest of the
FCM that is afraid witness their virtual silence on Kucinich's
very damning 35 Articles of Impeachment.
The only way to encourage constructive media attention
would be for Conyers to act. The FCM could be expected to fulminate against
that, but they could not afford to ignore impeachment, as they are able to ignore
other unpleasant things like preparations for another "war of
I would argue that perhaps the most effective way
to prevent air and missile attacks on Iran and a wider Middle East war is to
proceed as Elizabeth Holtzman urges with impeachment "forthwith."
Does Conyers not owe at least that much encouragement
to those courageous officers who have stood up to Cheney in trying to prevent
wider war and catastrophe in the Middle East?
Scott McClellan has been quite clear in reminding
us that once the president decided to invade Iraq, he was not going to let anything
stop him. There is ample evidence that Bush has taken a similar decision with
respect to Iran with Olmert as his chief counsel, no less.
It is getting late, but this is due largely to Conyers'
own dithering. Now, to his credit, Dennis Kucinich has forced the issue with
35 well-drafted Articles of Impeachment.
What the country needs is the young John Conyers
back. Not the one now surrounded by fancy lawyers and henpecked by the lady
of the House.
In October 1974, after he and the even younger Elizabeth
Holtzman faced up to their duty on House Judiciary and voted out three Articles
of Impeachment on President Richard Nixon, Conyers wrote this:
"This inquiry was forced on us by an accumulation
of disclosures which, finally and after unnecessary delays, could no longer
be ignored...Impeachment is difficult and it is painful, but the courage
to do what must be done is the price of remaining free."
Someone needs to ask John Conyers if he still believes
that; and, if he does, he must summon the courage to "do what must be