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Thursday, 11 August 2005
More Curt Weldon and Manucher Ghorbanifar news.
Topic: War on Terror

On Tuesday I wrote that Rep. Curt Weldon’s source for his wild assertions about the terrorist threat from Iran, codenamed “Ali,” was Manucher Ghorbanifar. Wrong! Laura Rozen and Jeet Heer write in The American Prospect, that “Ali” is actually a former Iranian minister of commerce under the Shah, Feidoun Mahdavi, who they quoted as saying, “I know Ghorbanifar and I am close with him, but I don’t want to be confused with him.” Sorry about that.

According to Weldon, he has met twice with the shadowy “Ali,” a long time associate of Ghorbanifar, in Paris and has maintained a correspondence with him.

Weldon’s new book, awkwardly titled, Countdown to terror: The top-secret information that could prevent the next terrorist attack on America how the CIA has ignored it, is based on information provided by “Ali.” Weldon the vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee recently made another trip to Paris, this time with the Chairman of the committee, Peter Hoekstra (R. Mich.), presumably to meet with “Ali,” again.

Caveat Emptor:

One of the most spectacular claims Weldon makes in his book is ‘Ali’s” May 2003 tip off that Iranian plotters had sent agents to fly a plane into the Seabrook nuclear power station in New Hampshire. In August 2003 the Canadian government arrested 19 Muslim men, an arrest that Weldon said at the time saved thousands of American lives. Later, the men were charged with simple immigration violations and deported. End of threat.

Before reading the representative’s book, you ought to know also that his main source for this clear and present danger says, “I will deny any quote. I gave information to Weldon from Ghorbanifar.” Ghobanifar is, of course, a proven liar. The man a former senior CIA agent said was “ a complete waste of my time and resources.” The CIA considered him a fabricator and issued a “burn notice” on “Gorba” in the eighties. (Stupid CIA! They did the same thing with Ahmad Chalabi and look how wrong they were!)

He was one of the main movers and shakers in the Iran/Contra affair convincing the ever gullible Michael Ledeen, a fellow Iran/Contra conspirator, that if the US and Israel gave weapons to Iran, he could convince the Iranian “moderates” to give up the embassy hostages.

Now, even Ollie North has said, “I knew him to be a liar.” Robert McFarlane, Reagan’s national security adviser, referred to him as, “one of the most despicable characters I have ever met.” So, despite the very able job Weldon is doing promoting his “expose” on the incompetence of the CIA (And his political career.), the information he’s peddling should be treated with extreme caution.

Ghorbanifar and Larry Franklin: where there’s smoke there’s fire?

In December of 2001, Ghorbanifar met in Rome with “two Farsi-speaking Pentagon officials, Defense Intelligence Agency Iran expert Larry Franklin and Harold Rhode, both then working for Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith,” having convinced Michael Ledeen, who has strong connections at the pentagon and the White House, that he could produce “Iranian informants with crucial intelligence about an alleged Tehran-backed terrorist threat to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.” Regime change in Iran also came up.

The meetings came to nothing, in a strange bit of timing at about the same time that “Ghorba” became persona non-gratis in the US intelligence community, again, Ali started talking to Weldon.

Larry Franklin has since been charged with giving secret information regarding US policy on Iran to two AIPAC officials, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman.

Robert Dreyfuss writes that the investigation into the Franklin case is really much larger than press reports let on. Apparently the case goes back more than 5 years to when, the indictment says, that on or "about April 1999 and continuing until on or about August 27, 2004’ Franklin, Rosen and Weissman ‘did unlawfully, knowingly and willfully conspire’ in criminal activity against the United States.”

The indictment says that Rosen and Weissman were introduced to Franklin when they "called a Department of Defense employee (DOD employee A) at the Pentagon and asked for the name of someone in OSD ISA [Office of the Secretary of Defense, International Security Affairs] with an expertise on Iran." Could Harold Rhode, who helped Feith assemble the Office of Special Plans where Franklin worked, have been DOD employee A?

At the same time Rosen and Weissman were meeting repeatedly with “officials from a foreign government (Israel, though not named in the indictment), to provide them with classified information,” Franklin had also met with Ghorbanifar, who was interested in making up horror stories about the Iranians as well.

I think the conjunction of the neocons and Israel’s interest in promoting the idea of an Iranian threat and Ghobanifar’ past dealings with the Israelis during the Iran/Contra scandal and his connections to groups interested in putting another shah on the thrown, are too strange to be a coincidence.

Clearly, Israel was and is very interested in knowing about the thinking going on within the administration on Iran. Ghorbanifar was and is very interested in convincing certain impressionable and gullible officials in the pentagon, and congressmen, that Iran is a more immediate threat than Iraq ever was and, naturally, is willing to provide a whole host of nincompoops and liars to back it up, for a price.

And certain high level officials at the White House and at the pentagon have proven to big enough suckers to fall for it, too. Since they’re all convinced Iraq is a raging success, they’re likely to repeat their mistakes, but this time it could be much more spectacualr disaster.

Iran has ended its moratorium on uranium conversion and has broken the IAEA seals at Isfahan, which is now fully functional. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes Ghorbanifar’s, or ‘Ali’s,” wild stories to get traction in the media.

Also, just in time, the administration has John Bolton conveniently placed at the UN to start the ball rolling for sanctions and ultimately resolutions calling for military action. Rummy is already blaming them for the 14 marines who died last week, although why the Iranians would want to arm the Sunnis is still unexplained.

Never mind, what’s really important is getting everybody’s mind off of Iraq and the Gaza pullout and on to the real threat.

Extra note:

Note: Ghobanifar’s Saudi financier friend and Iran/Contra co-conspirator Adnan Khashoggi met with Saudi millionaire Harb Saleh al-Zuhair in France in January 2003 in order to get him on board to invest a million dollars into the infamous and influential neocon Richard Perle's homeland security firm. Perle denied the story, reported by Seymour Hersh and threatened to sue to sue. We’re still waiting.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:07 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 12 August 2005 3:27 PM EDT
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