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The 9/11 Vision-by Michael Ledeen

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2004 11:07 am    Post subject: The 9/11 Vision-by Michael Ledeen Reply with quote

The 9/11 Vision

Better, but not there yet.

National Review Online

Well, it's better than the Intelligence Committee thing, anyway. You can actually read this one, sometimes with pleasure, which is a rarity for documents of the genre. And it's got lots of information, some of which is a mystery.

To start with, this commission is explicit about Iran's ongoing intimate relationship with al Qaeda. We know and the report confirms that Iran was up to its neck in the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996 in Saudi Arabia, and the report cryptically adds "there are also signs that al Qaeda played some role, as yet unknown." But the relationship goes back a good five years, as Sudan brokered an agreement whereby Iran would train al Qaeda terrorists for operations against Israel and the United States. This training took place first in Iran, and, in the fall of 1993, in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.

For those of us who have long argued that Iran, and Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah, provided much of the operational inspiration for Osama, it is gratifying to find forthright statements like "Bin Ladin reportedly showed particular interest in learning how to use truck bombs such as the one that had killed 241 U.S. Marines in Lebanon in 1983. The relationship between al Qaeda and Iran demonstrated that Sunni-Shia divisions did not necessarily pose an insurmountable barrier to cooperation in terrorist operations...al Qaeda contacts with Iran continued for many years."

The unsealed indictment of Osama bin Laden in the fall of 1998 charged that al Qaeda had allied itself with Iran, Sudan, and Hezbollah, and that there was an "understanding" between al Qaeda and Iraq, promising that al Qaeda would not attack Iraq and that the two sides would cooperate on various things, including weapons development. Richard Clarke suspected that chemical-weapons projects in Sudan were the result of that agreement.

Recent leaks had already announced the commission's conclusion that many of the 9/11 terrorists had received favored treatment from Iranian border guards by granting them safe passage and declining to stamp their passports but the leaks were incomplete. In October 2000, we are told, a senior Hezbollah terrorist went to Saudi Arabia and "planned to assist individuals in Saudi Arabia in traveling to Iran during November.... In mid-November, we believe, three of the future muscle hijackers...traveled in a group from Saudi Arabia to Beirut and then onward to Iran. An associate of a senior Hizbollah operative was on the same flight...the travel of this group was important enough to merit the attention of senior figures in Hizbollah." And it goes on and on: "Later in November, two future muscle hijackers...flew into Iran from Bahrain. In February 2001, Khalid al Mihdhar may have taken a flight from Syria to Iran, and then traveled further within Iran to a point near the Afghan border."

And there is another bombshell, quietly buried on page 149: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's family lived in Iran for a while in the mid-90s, and KSM himself spent time there as well.

All of this might lead a normal person to conclude the obvious: that Iran was helpful to the 9/11 conspiracy. But no, not really. First of all, the Hezbollah attention to the travelers might have been coincidental; they might have been tracking a different group. And despite the considerable evidence, the commission resorts to the usual CIA CYA language in such matters: "We have found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack."


I remember, back in the Eighties, an Arab terrorist flew from Damascus to Istanbul, and went directly to the synagogue there, where he killed many people. When some of us suggested we might find some appropriately mean thing to do to the Syrians, CIA was quick to say that there was no hard evidence linking the Syrian regime to the terrorist attack. By which they meant that we did not have either a tape recording of a conversation in which old man Assad authorized the attack, or a signed affidavit from the Syrian government admitting guilt.

In the real world, it's very rare, verging on impossible, to have such "intelligence" or "evidence." The commission piled up an impressive quantity of it I should think quite enough to justify Iran's status as charter member in the Axis of Evil, and more than enough to compel deputy secretary of State Armitage to change his tune on the "democratic" nature of the mullahcracy.

So what's the mystery? The mystery is where did the information come from about Iran training al Qaeda terrorists over a long period of time? I don't think that CIA believes that. Yet CIA is presumably the source. Ah, well, as the commission says, "this topic requires further investigation by the U.S. government." Don't hold your breath.

The weakest part of the report concerns what needs to be done to destroy the terror masters. The whole section is written as if the state sponsors were somehow beside the point; the commission focus is entirely on the terrorist groups. This is an odd position, given all the evidence of the deep involvement of countries like Iran, Syria, and Iraq.

It's downhill from there. In a rambling discussion of our many intelligence failures over the years, the commission pretends to criticize Congress, but then only discusses sins of omission insufficient oversight. Yes, the report mentions the scandals in the 70s, and if you read very carefully you will find clever language that credits Attorney General Levi with drafting guidelines for the FBI that avoided even greater damage (talk about damning with faint praise). But the report fails to make the basic point that Congress had defanged the FBI and CIA. And there is no explicit recommendation that the old strictures be abolished, maybe because many of them have, thanks to the Patriot Act, but that is really not good enough.

The commission has actually come up with an oversight scheme that would almost certainly make things even worse than they have been. They want new oversight committees, with "bipartisan staff" (presumably selected by the Archangel Michael, because nobody in Washington is capable of such an act), bigger budgets, and unlimited tenure. This is a guarantee of corruption. Elected officials with open-ended terms will invariably end up in the pockets of the intelligence community. The best hope for honest congressional criticism is short tenure and revolving staff.

Worse still, the report calls for even more money for intelligence, and an entirely new layer of bureaucracy, the effect of which would be far greater centralization of the whole process.

I think this gets the problem backwards. We need a smaller intelligence community, not a bigger one, because bigger means more homogenized. The Senate Intelligence Committee report complained about "group think," which is the inevitable outcome of a big community that has to agree on final language for finished intelligence. It would be far better, in my opinion, to let real specialists tell the policymakers what they think, and sign their names to their conclusions. That way, if an analyst successfully solved a problem, he could be rewarded. As things stand now and the matter is even worse if the commission's recommendations are adopted no one can be rewarded for original thinking, and bad analysis gets blamed on the whole organization.

In short, we should strive for competitive intelligence. Keep the boxes small, let them present their analyses and recommendations, and make the policymakers sort it out. The commission goes through the ritual pieties of keeping policy and analysis separate, but most of such talk is misleading, since every grownup knows that certain conclusions say, that Iran supported the 9/11 operation lead inevitably to certain policies say, that "selective dialogue with Iran" is a joke.

Everyone in Washington is making policy all the time. Live with it.

Other really big problems above all, the need for a new generation of spies capable of penetrating the terror network are finessed by calling for future leaders to solve the problems within the proposed context. But, as Reuel Gerecht has long taught us, no bureaucratic fix can possibly undo the terrible damage wrought by more than 30 years of restrictions and the consequent culture of risk avoidance and long-distance spy craft.

Oh, and by the way as Angletonwould be the first to observe there's hardly a word in here about counterintelligence. If you're going to centralize things even more, it makes it easier for our enemies to penetrate the structure and get...damn near everything. So the commission's scheme cries out for better counterintelligence. If intelligence is going to be across-the-government, well, then, I'm afraid counterintelligence will have to be expanded and improved as well.

At the end of the day, we need officials who are good enough to make the hard decisions, authorize risky actions, listen carefully to dissonance among the analysts and disagreement about proposed operations, and manage the whole thing while protecting civil liberties to the utmost. It won't be easy. If and when our guys get to that point, the structural changes they need to actuate are actually quite simple: They need a big-time purge, what the business world called "restructuring," leading to a smaller, leaner intelligence community where individuals are encouraged to think independently and act courageously.

It's leadership, stupid.

Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. Ledeen is Resident Scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2004 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Public expression of gratitude toward Senator Rick Santorum

Jul 23, 2004

Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran (SMCCDI)

July 23, 2004

The Honorable Rick Santorum

United States Senate

511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Fax: (202) 228-0604

Dear Senator Santorum:

We appreciate and applaud the recent introduction of the "Iran Freedom and Support Act of 2004".

On behalf of the struggling population of Iran, especially the students and millions of youth, we are grateful for your political integrity, vision and courage. Indeed your action, co-sponsored by the Honorable John Cornyn whom has always defended our two people's common cause, is another clear sign that after a quarter of a century of a barbaric, tyrannical and terrorist rule and suffering by the people of Iran, we are being heard and have gained valuable supporters among the US leadership and lawmakers.

Sir, in addition to the Americans of Iranian ancestry, we have been inundated by calls and correspondence from the population within Iran. Risking their lives, and accepting the rage of the regime, they mange to contact us to make sure we extend their gratitude. The most heart wrenching are the messages from the mothers whose sons and daughters have been killed or are languishing in prisons in the hands of these allegedly "elected Islamist technocrat" and their "integrist" Mentors.

As you correctly stated in your press meeting, the two factions in Iran are: on the one side the people of the land and on the opposing side the theocratic regime with its entire corrupt gang of the Mullahs and their cohorts. The biggest insult and humiliation to the Iranian people is that they are continuously being identified with this theocracy.

Sir, we are all inspired and encouraged and, above all, feel vindicated by your action and comments. We feel, at long last, powerful forces are affirming what we have been asserting for many years. Sir, we have known this "evil" regime, up close and personal, and we have been in its grip for over two decades! We are its immediate victims!

At least one Iranian is being executed each week under false charges and as of today, hundreds of Iran's best and brightest are being tortured in secret prisons by this brutal "reformist" government and the terrorist theocracy. Several of them have resumed a hunger strike in order to protest against their inhumane conditions and abuses, they and their families and colleagues are subjected to. But as expected, the only official answers to their legitimate requests have been the postponement of a UN rights watch visit of Iran and its prisons and the regime's judiciary's word stating: "If all you of you die, I wouldn't care."

Sir, any rapprochement with the present regime, under the pretext of "dialogue," with the so-called "elected," "moderate," and "reformists" would be rejected by the freedom-loving Iranians and would gravely undermine the status of the United States as the champion of the democratic principles and the ideals that she stands for; the very foundation of America.

Indeed, any relations or associations with the present regime that would, in any way, extend its life and its hold on power could bear crucial consequences for relations with the future generations of Iran.

Iranians want a radical and democratic Regime Change and they would not settle for less!

Those old European nations and mercantilist lobby groups, such as, the self called "National Iranian-American Council", or the "Council on Foreign Relations" that call for "engagement" and "dialogue" with this regime and continue promulgating its tall tale of a freely elected government are the very countries and groups that are "enabling" the "evil" to survive and sustain in detriment of Iranian and American lives.

Sir, we are the 70% of the population of Iran that is under the age of 30 and the 50% that is under 20. We are the future. Our determination is strong and our resolve is steeled as well. The Iran of tomorrow is ours!

We believe, our cause is just; for it is the cause of freedom. Our mission is clear and sacred, for it is to regain our blessed land and to elect an accountable secular democracy for working with the family of nations for the mankind's freedom and prosperity.

We hold the United States as the shining beacon of hope for freedom and as the guardian and advocate of democratic ideals. Those are the very principles we aspire to and revere. All we ask is the moral support of the United States. All we expect is that the United States will remain true to its principles of liberty and justice and its ideals of democracy

Sir, you have our deepest gratitude for giving voice to the "silenced" screams of a beleaguered yet resolute nation. Your staff witnessed, today, part of our people's expression of regards and gratitude toward your good hearted and respected person by receiving tens of calls, emails and faxes.

Resolute to show our support of your action, we keep ourselves at your disposition for any comment or need of any information or suggestion.


On behalf of SMCCDI,

Aryo B. Pirouznia (for the Committee)


5015 Addison Circle #244 Addison, TX 75001 (USA)

Phone: (972) 504-6864; E.Mail: smccdi@daneshjoo.org; Fax (972) 491-9866

www.daneshjoo.org; www.iranstudents.org

Referendum AFTER Regime Change

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2004 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Engagement Announcement

by Lawrence F. Kaplan

The New Republic

Post date: 07.23.04

Oops, we invaded the wrong country. Or at least this is the impression created by the final report of the 9/11 Commission, which depicts Iran as a transit point for Al Qaeda members during the run up to September 11. It is an impression the Kerry team has done nothing to dispel. Kerry adviser Charles Kupchan says the news about Iran shows that "rather than focusing on Iraq, where there was no imminent threat to American security," the United States should have been more vigilant about Iran, "where we know there's a weapons of mass destruction program, there's a fundamentalist theocracy." In a similar vein, the report has prompted the Kerry campaign's Ann Lewis to complain that "Iran, over the last couple of years, has been moving forward toward getting a nuclear capacity--nuclear capability--and yet this administration's policy is hard to discern." She's right. The administration's Iran policy is hard to discern. Before they walk into a bind of their own devising, however, Kerry's advisers would do well to take a closer look at their own candidate's stance toward Iran. It is not hard to discern. But it is hard to defend.

At times, Kerry seems to be taking his cues from Jimmy Carter's 1976 presidential run, sounding as though he's blasting his opponent from the right while he quietly offers up solutions from the left. Nowhere is this truer than in the case of Iran, where, when you strip away Kerry's hard-boiled rhetoric about preventing the country from acquiring a nuclear weapon, what the candidate offers is a facsimile of the Clinton-era policy of "engagement." Likening the Islamic Republic to a much less dangerous threat from long ago, Kerry seeks to "explore areas of mutual interest with Iran, just as I was prepared to normalize relations with Vietnam." Hence, Kerry says he "would support talking with all elements of the government," or, as his principal foreign policy adviser Rand Beers has elaborated, the United States must engage Iran's "hard-line element"--this, while the candidate tells The Washington Post he will downplay democracy promotion in the region. In fact, as part of this normalization process, Kerry has recommended hammering out a deal with Teheran a la the Clinton administration's doomed bargain with North Korea, whereby the United States would aid the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for safeguards that would presumably keep the program peaceful. To sweeten the deal, he has offered to throw in members of the People's Mujahedeen, the Iranian opposition group being held under lock and key by U.S. forces in Iraq.

Nor will you hear any of Kerry's foreign policy advisers calling for regime change in Iran, at least any time soon. Beers has long insisted on engaging the Islamic Republic, as have Kerry advisers Richard Holbrooke and Madeline Albright. So, too, have several big name contributors to the Kerry campaign from the Iranian-American community. Indeed, in 2002 Kerry delivered an address to an event sponsored by the controversial American Iranian Council, an organization funded by corporations seeking to do business in Iran and dedicated to promoting dialogue with the theocracy. In his eagerness to engage in this dialogue, of course, Kerry is hardly alone. The Council on Foreign Relations has just released a report calling for "systematic and pragmatic engagement" with Iran's mullahs, and the Atlantic Council is expected to release a report next month recommending the same.

Like these, Kerry's calls for a rapprochement with Teheran come at a rather inopportune moment. The very regime that Kerry demands we engage, after all, has just been certified as an Al Qaeda sanctuary--and by the very commission in which the Kerry campaign has invested so much hope. The report's finding, moreover, counts as only one of Teheran's sins. Lately its theocrats have been wreaking havoc in Iraq and Afghanistan, aiding America's foes along Iran's borders in the hopes of expanding their influence in both countries, even as they continue to fund Palestinian terror groups. Then, too, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has amassed a mountain of evidence pointing to Iranian violations of the Nonproliferation Treaty. With two nuclear power plants slated to go online in Iran, and IAEA inspectors stumbling across designs for sophisticated centrifuges, even the Europeans and the United Nations have nearly exhausted their efforts to engage the Islamic Republic.

So why hasn't anyone told John Kerry? To begin with, it's not so clear the Bush team has abandoned engagement, either. Deputy National Security Adviser Robert Blackwill refuses to surrender hopes for a nuclear deal, as does Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who lauds Iran as a "democracy." To be sure, the president vows Washington will side with Iran's pro-democracy movement and that the "development of a nuclear weapon in Iran is intolerable." But long gone from the administration's rhetoric is any talk of regime change. As with so much else, when it comes to Iran, the administration finds itself divided between hawks at the Defense Department and Undersecretary of State John Bolton, on the one hand, and America's diplomatic corps and National Security Council staffers, on the other.

Put another way, the administration has two Iran policies, and the result has been a mix of good and bad. Kerry, by contrast, boasts a single, coherent, and--to judge by the description of Teheran's activities in yesterday's report--utterly delusional Iran policy. Now, if only the Bush team could sort out its own, it might have an opportunity to draw a meaningful distinction.
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