Skip to comments.Iranian Alert -- July 20, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 07/19/2004 9:00:04 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
The US media still largley ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year. Most Americans are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East.
There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. I began these daily threads June 10th 2003. On that date Iranians once again began taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Today in Iran, most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy.
The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.
In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.
This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.
I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.
If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.
If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.
Halliburton Subpoenaed Over Iranian Work
July 19, 2004
HOUSTON -- A grand jury has issued a subpoena to oil field services company Halliburton seeking information about its Cayman Islands unit's work in Iran, where it is illegal for U.S. companies to operate, Halliburton says.
The company, formerly headed by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, said it understood the investigation of its subsidiary's work in Iran had been transferred to the U.S. Department of Justice from the Treasury Department, which first initiated an inquiry in 2001.
"In July 2004, Halliburton received from an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas a grand jury subpoena requesting the production of documents. We intend to cooperate with the government's investigation," Halliburton said on Monday in a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Halliburton said it had previously replied to requests for information from the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control in 2001 and again in January 2004.
Halliburton's engineering and construction unit KBR, formerly called Kellogg Brown & Root, is also the subject of U.S. Justice Department and SEC investigations for possible overcharges for fuel and food service contracts in Iraq, where it is the largest contractor.
Halliburton said it would comply with the subpoena, and reiterated it believed its links to Iran through the Cayman Islands unit were in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
The company said in its annual report that revenues from its subsidiary's business in Iran amounted to about half of 1percent of total revenues of $16.3 billion (8 billion pounds) in 2003, or about $80 million.
"It is important to understand, especially in the current political environment, that this is not a condemnation of the company, but a method of further studying the facts. We welcome a thorough review of any and all of the company's business," Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said in an e-mail.
In a report issued in October 2003 in response to shareholder complaints about its Iranian links, Halliburton said it was not illegal for U.S. companies' independent foreign subsidiaries to conduct business in Iran, and that it had taken steps to isolate its U.S. operations and managers from its work there.
Two Dailies Suspended in New Attack On Reformist Press
July 19, 2004
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders today strongly condemned as 'unacceptable' the Iranian regime's suspension of two leading reformist daily newspapers Vaghayeh Ettefaghieh and Jomhouriat as well as the monthly Aftab and said the moves appeared to herald a new wave of repression. It called for the suspensions to be lifted at once.
It said the shutdown of the dailies was an example of the 'deplorable blackmail used by Iran's so-called system of justice' and 'the determination of the regime's hardliners to silence any source of independent information, especially during the sham trial of the alleged killer of Canadian-Iranian journalist Zahra Kazemi.'
Vaghayeh ettefaghieh was suspended indefinitely on 17 July for 'anti-regime propaganda,' publishing 'false news' and 'insulting the Supreme Guide.' The paper, largely staffed by journalists from the reformist daily Yas-e no, which was suspended on 18 February on the eve of parliamentary elections, has sharply criticised the hardliners and the new parliament dominated by their supporters.
Jomhouriat, a new paper which has only published 12 issues, was suspended on 18 July for the same reasons, a few days after publisher Javad Khorami Moaghadam had been summoned by the hardline Teheran prosecutor, Said Mortazavi, who demanded in vain that he sack the paper's editor, Emadoldin Baghi.
Baghi, who the authorities frequently summon in an effort to silence him, was given a year's suspended prison sentence on 4 December last year by the Teheran revolutionary court, which cited no reason for the punishment. He was sentenced to three years in prison on 23 October 2000 for 'undermining national security' and 'putting out false news.'
Since his release on 6 February 2003, he has been an active human rights campaigner, attacking in the reformist press freedom of expression violations and setting up an organisation to defend political prisoners. On 15 July, Jomhouriat had begun publishing the general introduction of the latest Reporters Without Borders annual report.
The monthly Aftab was suspended on 11 July for 'insulting the Supreme Guide' and putting out 'false news.' It has been published since 2000 by a group of writers and intellectuals and editor Issa Sahakhiz, was arrested in 2003 for 'propaganda against the regime.'
Former U.S. Officials Oppose Israel Attack on Iran
Reuters - World News (via Yahoo)
Jul 19, 2004
WASHINGTON - An Israeli military strike likely would not solve the problem of Iran's nuclear program and would harm U.S. national interests, two former senior U.S. officials said on Monday.
Growing concern about advances in Iran's nuclear capabilities has fanned speculation that Israel could act to wipe out key Iranian facilities, as it did against Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981.
But former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and former CIA Director Robert Gates, co-authors of a new study on Iran, said it was unlikely such a strike would be effective and it would damage U.S. interests.
They spoke at a news conference to discuss a new Council on Foreign Relations report which urges the United States to begin a selective engagement with Iran and argues the lack of sustained contacts hurts U.S. interests.
Unlike Osirak, which was a single reactor, Iran has a number of nuclear-related facilities dispersed around the country, making it harder to target key sites, Gates said.
Moreover, the Osirak reactor was relatively isolated, while Iran's facilities are in or near cities, increasing the chances of civilian casualities, he said.
To carry out such a strike, Israel would almost certainly have to fly over airspace controlled by the United States, meaning America could be judged complicit with the Israeli action, Brzezinski said.
He added that military action would harm prospects for political change in Iran by galvanizing nationalistic fervor and this could damage U.S. interests, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Iran has admitted that for 18 years it has secretly been developing nuclear-related capabilities but it denies U.S. charges that these are part of nuclear arms program.
Hizbullah may have non-conventional weapons
By NINA GILBERT
The risk of Iranian non-conventional weapons being transferred to the Hizbullah "exists," in the same way the group was supplied with long-range rockets, a senior IDF intelligence official said in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.
The official, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Kupperwasser, said that Iran has resumed its work on nuclear centrifuges needed to make nuclear materials after releasing themselves from a commitment to Europe to halt efforts. He said the development is "worrisome."
Hizbullah, Iran and Syria are still heavily involved in supporting terror groups, he said, adding that Hizbullah is handing out "handsome bonuses" to Palestinians who carry out attacks. They are making "every effort" to ensure that there won't be a period of calm here, he said.
More than 25 suicide bomb attacks planned for targets in Israel have been foiled since June, with most of them aimed for Jerusalem, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said on Monday.
He said there is a gradual drop in the capabilities of terror groups, but not in motivation.
This is the third article the other two are in the thread of yesterday.
The Rediff Special/Hamid Mir
Another Al Qaeda leader in Iran is Sulaiman Jasim Abu Ghaith. He was Al Qaeda's spokesman until the summer of 2002. According to US sources, this former Kuwaiti citizen is in the custody of the Iranian authorities, but the Iranians have never confirmed his detention.
I heard in Baghdad that one son of Osama bin Laden, Saad, is also being allowed to operate from Iran. He is in contact with Al Qaeda fighters hiding in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries.
Al Qaeda told its fighters in September 2003 to enter Iraq. I visited Kunar province of Afghanistan that month to meet Al Qaeda operatives. I met a man named Abu Basir near the mountains of Asadabad. He told me that several Arab fighters of Al Qaeda had been asked by their leaders to reach Iraq. These fighters have been slipping into Pakistan from different points in eastern Afghanistan and Al Qaeda's network in Pakistan is arranging their safe onward journey to Iraq through Iran on fake passports.
The Pakistani authorities have arrested two officials of the country's passport agency in Peshawar for allegedly providing fake passports to these Al Qaeda operators.
Further investigations revealed that Al Qaeda leader Saif al-Adil and Yazz bin Sifat had slipped into Iran from the Afghan town of Taftan. Both are wanted in connection with the September 11 attacks.
Taftan is in the southwestern part of Afghanistan. The Herat province in western Afghanistan is governed by the pro-Iran warlord Haji Ismail Khan. The US ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, confirmed to some journalists in Kabul recently that he had evidence of Iranian interference in western Afghanistan. Yusuf Pashtun, spokesman for a pro-Karzai warlord in southern Afghanistan, has claimed many times that Iranian agents have been smuggling arms into the southern Helmand province and that Iranians are providing training to the troops of Haji Ismail Khan.
Haji Ismail received thousands of Iranian AK-74 automatic rifles produced at a Russian-built factory outside Tehran. Sources close to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai claimed that some Iran Army officers are part of the Haji's powerful 20,000 strong militia. Sources claimed that one of his military advisers is General Ali Blokian, a former adviser of Hizbullah in Lebanon and actually an officer of Iranian military intelligence.
Ismail Khan is a threat to President Karzai's authority. He has objected to the deployment of coalition troops in his province. Now, he is encouraging the remnants of the Taliban to attack coalition forces in southern Afghanistan under instructions from Tehran.
Cofer Black, the US state department's counter-terrorism chief, confirmed to me recently that they have evidence of the collaboration between Al Qaeda and Iran. Some defectors from Iranian intelligence have provided a lot of information to the American authorities. According to this information, the Iranian Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) are in regular contact with Al Qaeda. The Pasdaran are not under President Khatami's control. They report directly to Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader.
Iran's Minister for Intelligence Ali Fallahian and Quds Force chief Ahmad Vahidi are also said to be in contact with Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri. According to very reliable sources, Zawahiri was arrested by mistake in Iran in 2002. News of his arrest was published in a newspaper called Hayat-e-Nau (or New Life), but the very next day the report was contradicted by Iran's foreign ministry. It is believed that Zawahiri was released on Ali Fallahian's order.
The big question is: why are the Iranians playing a double game with the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan? The answer is simple: The Iranians want to convert Iraq into another Shia state because Shias are the majority in Iraq. Secondly, they want control over Iraq's oil to give a boost to their deteriorating economy. But the US will not allow Iran to establish a pro-Tehran Shia state in Iraq and the Iranians believe that the American military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan is a grave threat to their agenda.
The Iranians also want control in Afghanistan for economic and political reasons. Afghanistan is the gateway to the Central Asian states, which are rich in natural resources. Tehran wants to capture that gateway to establish an indirect monopoly on the oil and gas reserves of Central Asia.
Third, the Iranians want American forces expelled from the Middle East. This is Al Qaeda's aim as well. The Iranians have established the 'Quds Force' for the liberation of Al Quds, or Jerusalem. Al Qaeda has the same objective.
For achieving these common goals, the Iranians and Al Qaeda are cooperating with each other. Many people in Kabul these days openly blame the pro-Iranian warlords in western and northern Afghanistan, who are trying their best to delay the elections planned for September this year.
Diplomatic circles in Kabul fear a possible increase in attacks on the coalition forces. These sources are sure that Al Qaeda is planning a big, deadly attack inside Kabul with Iran's help. Both hate President Karzai whom they see as a great hurdle for their agenda in the region.
It is also important that some fighters of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar have been arrested from Kabul. They were planning bomb blasts in the capital. Hekmatyar left Tehran after September 11, 2001, but his close association with Iran and Al Qaeda is not a secret. Many people in Kabul believe Hekmatyar will play an important role in the expected deadly attacks against coalition forces in the days to come.
The CIA got evidence of Iran's links with Al Qaeda in the spring of 2002, but CIA Director George Tenet remained silent on the issue. He was then more interested in establishing a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq, but he eventually failed to establish that link and had to quit.
Many people believe Tenet did a great job for the Islamic militants under the leadership of George W Bush. The militants were divided on sectarian lines for more than 1,400 years. But for the first time bad American policies and weak intelligence have resulted in a deadly alliance between Shia and Sunni militants in Iraq.
The American media claimed that Al Qaeda was responsible for a car bomb attack on August 7, 2003, in Najaf in which Iraqi Shia leader Ayatollah Baqir el-Hakim was killed along with 82 other people. For many days there was confusion about who was responsible for that attack. Finally the government-run Tehran Times rescued Al Qaeda on September 9, 2003, with a front-page story in which it blamed the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. The paper claimed that the explosives used in the attack were smuggled from Israel to Iraq by Mossad agents. Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah also blamed Israel while addressing a gathering in Beirut.
Now Shias and Sunnis are offering prayers in each other's mosques. The Iranians are encouraging that kind of unity in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Recently they invited some pro-Taliban leaders from Pakistan to Tehran. Prominent among them were Maulana Sami-ul Haq and Fazalur Rehman, who have both openly opposed the war on terror in Afghanistan. They met important Iranian leaders.
After their return from Tehran, Maulana Sami-ul Haq organised a seminar in Islamabad in the last week of May. This religious leader had close links with hardline anti-Iran Sunni extremists, but he invited not only some Shia leaders but also some Iranian diplomats to the seminar where he appealed to all Shia and Sunni leaders to emulate the Shia-Sunni unity in Iraq. The participants in the seminar adopted resolutions against US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and condemned the operation against Al Qaeda by Pakistani forces in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
The Americans now know more about Iran's links with Al Qaeda than Saddam's. So why aren't they making more of a fuss about it?
Simple: because they have lost credibility. Al Qaeda lost Afghanistan in 2001, but they are regaining their power from Iran in 2004.
The Iranians have removed their enemy, the Taliban, from Kabul using the Americans. Then they removed another enemy, Saddam Hussein, from Iraq, again using the Americans through Ahmad Chalabi. Now they are using Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq against the Americans.
It is the Iranians who are the real winners of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, not America.
Looks like Cofer Black's butting heads with the CIA yet again. State and CIA need to quit fighting each other and start fighting America's enemies ASAP. It seems like both sides are a lot more interested in proving each other wrong than they are in finding ground truth.
IIRC, the Bush Administration didn't have much to say about Saddam's bombast or about his political and military maneuvering through spring and summer of 2002. Only when it became obvious that a military offensive against Saddam was coming, as speculated on by the general media, did the rhetoric become a two way street.
The current situation with Iran has a similar feel to it.
2 U.S. Ex-Officials Urge Engaging Iran
July 20, 2004
The Washington Times
Sharon Behn and I-wei J. Chang
The key to advancing U.S. interests in the Middle East is to engage Iran's Islamic regime, partly by allowing Tehran to develop a peaceful nuclear program, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski argued yesterday.
By agreeing with the European Union that Iran could acquire enriched uranium at market prices while applying stringent inspection rules, Washington could end decades of political stalemate with Tehran and win an essential ally in the region, he said.
Washington has lost its influence over Iran's nuclear policy as well as policies toward terrorism, Iraq and Afghanistan, said Mr. Brzezinski and former CIA Director Robert M. Gates, and the best way to advance U.S. leverage was through selective engagement with Tehran.
"It's not a question that we and the Iranians would be sitting down and singing 'kumbaya' together but of advancing our national interests," Mr. Gates said. He and Mr. Brzezinski are joint chairmen of a report on Iran sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations.
"This is a whole new game, a new global Balkans, with Iran in the middle with the capacity to influence Afghanistan and Iraq," Mr. Brzezinski said.
Mr. Gates and Mr. Brzezinski said the United States should end its 25 years of antagonism toward Tehran and pursue a policy of selective engagement, including dropping U.S. objections to an Iranian civilian nuclear program under strict International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and multilateral sanctions.
Such an approach would engage Tehran which they argued had managed to isolate Washington through international trade links and largely constructive relations with neighbors and get the European Union, Russia and Japan on board, they said.
Moscow has been Iran's main supplier of nuclear technology and is building a major nuclear plant near the Iranian city of Bushehr.
Hoping that the Islamic regime would collapse soon under external and internal pressure for change was not a realistic goal, the report said.
"The durability of the Islamic Republic and the urgency of the concerns surrounding its policies mandate the United States to deal with the current regime rather than wait for it to fall," the report concluded.
The report calls on the current or future Washington administration to take advantage of the new circumstances in the region, which Mr. Brzezinski said may have created an "opening for the policy we advocate."
"The depth of the crisis with Iran is such, not only the nuclear but in the nonproliferation arena, that we definitely need to take a shot now at engagement and to make it a high priority," agreed Rose Gottemoeller, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former deputy undersecretary for defense nuclear nonproliferation in the Energy Department.
Although Iran "doesn't seem anywhere near" acquiring enough fissile material to build a bomb, a technically difficult and time-consuming process, it does seem to have the indigenous technical know-how to create an enrichment facility, Mrs. Gottemoeller said.
Iran has continued to develop its nuclear ambitions, insisting that it is a peaceful program, despite mounting criticism by the IAEA.
Bush Hits Iran for Aid to Al Qaeda
July 20, 2004
The Washington Times
President Bush yesterday accused Iran of harboring and aiding top al Qaeda terrorists, but he stopped short of charging that Tehran was directly involved in the September 11 attacks.
Using stern language against a nation that he has labeled a member of an "axis of evil," the president said his administration is examining whether Iran had any connection with the 2001 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.
"We're digging into the facts to determine if there was one," Mr. Bush said from the Oval Office. "They're harboring al Qaeda leadership there, and we've asked that they be turned over to their respective countries."
But the president reiterated that acting CIA Director John McLaughlin has said, "There was no direct connection between Iran and the attacks of September the 11th."
Nevertheless, Mr. Bush vowed to "continue to look and see if the Iranians were involved."
Reports emerged yesterday that an Iranian general collaborated with al Qaeda to arrange the transit through Iran of nine of the September 11 hijackers. The Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported that the Iranian general coordinated with "the No. 2 man in al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, to provide 'safe passage' to around nine of those who carried out the attacks."
A report to be released on Thursday by the September 11 commission also reportedly includes evidence that some of the hijackers passed through Iran on their way to the United States.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Iran had ordered its border guards not to stamp the passports of al Qaeda members from Saudi Arabia moving through Iran after training in Afghanistan. An Iranian stamp might have made the al Qaeda members subject to additional scrutiny upon entering the United States.
Mr. Bush, who said in his 2002 State of the Union address that Iraq, Iran and North Korea make up an "axis of evil," also said yesterday that Iran is reconstituting its nuclear-weapons program.
"They've got a nuclear-weapons program that they need to dismantle. We're working with other countries to encourage them to do so," he said.
The Bush administration vehemently has opposed Iran's civilian nuclear-power program, saying the oil-rich country does not need such a program and is using it as a cover to open a nuclear-weapons program.
Meanwhile yesterday, Israel accused Iran of resuming the production of enriched uranium, which can be used to build atomic bombs. A military intelligence officer also told a parliamentary committee that he could not rule out the possibility that the Lebanese fundamentalist Shi'ite movement Hezbollah could acquire nonconventional weapons from Iran, Israeli military radio reported.
In Washington, Mr. Bush said Iran must "stop funding terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah that create great dangers in parts of the world."
"I have long expressed my concerns about Iran. After all, it's a totalitarian society where free people are not allowed to exercise their rights as human beings. I have made it clear that if the Iranians would like to have better relations with the United States, there are some things they must do," he said.
Mr. McLaughlin, who took over after former CIA Director George J. Tenet resigned earlier this month, told "Fox News Sunday" that at least eight of the September 11 hijackers passed through Iran.
"This is not surprising to us. I think the count is about eight of the hijackers were able to pass through Iran at some point," he said. "However, I would stop there and say we have no evidence that there is some sort of official sanction by the government of Iran for this activity. We have no evidence that there is some sort of official connection between Iran and 9/11."
The comments by the CIA's acting director confirm leaked accounts of the contents of the report by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, to be released Thursday. According to Newsweek, the Iranian finding in the commission's report is based largely on a December 2001 memo that had been buried in the files of the U.S. National Security Agency.
Time magazine reported this week that the commission's report says that Iran, at one point, proposed collaborating with al Qaeda on attacks against America, but that Osama bin Laden declined, saying he did not want to alienate his supporters in Saudi Arabia.
The spokesman for the foreign minister of Iran, which condemned the 2001 attacks, said his country cannot police its entire border, comparing the situation to that of the United States and Mexico.
"We have very long borders, and it is impossible to totally control them," Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters in Tehran on Sunday. "It is natural that five or six people could have crossed our borders illegally without us seeing them."
But the White House said the president's comments are consistent with his doctrine: Nations that harbor terrorists are just as dangerous as the terrorists themselves.
"What this president is doing is pursuing the threats that we face and confronting those threats before they have a chance to fully materialize, whether it's Iran, Iraq, North Korea or elsewhere," press secretary Scott McClellan said.
President Says U.S. to Examine Iran-Qaeda Tie
July 19, 2004
The New York Times
WASHINGTON -- President Bush said on Monday that the United States was actively investigating ties between the Iranian government and Al Qaeda, including intelligence unearthed by the independent Sept. 11 commission showing that Iran may have offered safe passage to terrorists who were later involved in the attacks.
Mr. Bush noted in a brief Oval Office meeting with reporters that the Central Intelligence Agency had found "no direct connection between Iran and the attacks of Sept.11," but he said "We will continue to look and see if the Iranians were involved."
Intelligence officials have said emphatically that while Iran's Muslim fundamentalist leaders appeared to have offered a transit point to some of the Sept. 11 terrorists and other Qaeda members, there was nothing to indicate that Iran knew in advance about the plot.
Mr. Bush's comments came as the White House suggested for the first time that it was open to a proposal for the creation of a national intelligence director post, which is expected to be the central recommendation of the Sept. 11 commission in its final report.
The long-awaited report is due out on Thursday, and government officials who have been briefed on its contents say the commission will call for appointment of a so-called spy czar to oversee all 15 of the nation's intelligence agencies, including the C.I.A., the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Mr. Bush did not comment on news reports about the commission's proposal for a national intelligence director, but he said, "The 9/11 commission will issue a report this week and evidently will lay out recommendations for reform of the intelligence services of the United States," adding, "I look forward to seeing those recommendations."
"They share the same desires I share, which is to make sure that the president and the Congress gets the best possible intelligence," he said, referring to the 10-member bipartisan commission. "Some of the reforms I think are necessary: more human intelligence, the better ability to listen or to see things and better coordination amongst the variety of intelligence-gathering services."
Scott McClellan, Mr. Bush's press secretary, went further in suggesting that the White House would be receptive to the commission's proposal for a national intelligence director.
Mr. McClellan pointedly distanced the administration from comments made over the weekend by the acting director of central intelligence, John E. McLaughlin, who warned in a television interview against creation of an intelligence director, saying it would add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to intelligence gathering.
Mr. McClellan said Mr. McLaughlin had been expressing a personal view, not necessarily that of the administration, and he said the White House was eager to see the commission's final report. "The president is open to additional ideas that build upon the reforms we are already implementing," he said.
The evidence about an Iran-Qaeda tie contrasts sharply with what the Sept. 11 commission staff has concluded is a dearth of intelligence showing a working relationship between Iraq and the terror network, a judgment that has alarmed the White House since it appears to undermine a central justification of last year's invasion of Iraq.
Government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the commission's report would offer extensive new evidence to show that Iran had provided logistical support over the years to Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network.
Most alarmingly, they said, the commission recently obtained intelligence showing that Iran had allowed as many as 10 of the terrorists involved in the Sept. 11 attacks to pass through border stations in late 1990 and early 1991 without having their passports stamped, making it easier for them to enter the United States without raising suspicions.
In his television interview on Sunday, Mr. McLaughlin said eight of the hijackers had passed through Iran "at some point in their passage along their operational path." But he cautioned that the C.I.A. did not have evidence to implicate Iran in the attacks.
"We have no evidence that there is some sort of official sanction by the government of Iran for this activity," he said. "We have no evidence that there is some sort of official connection between Iran and 9/11."
In his meeting with reporters on Monday, Mr. Bush seemed to suggest that despite the C.I.A.'s appraisal, the administration believed there might in fact be an Iranian connection to Sept. 11.
"As to direct connections with September the 11th, you know we're digging into the facts to determine if there was one," he said. "We will continue to look and see if the Iranians were involved."
He also said: "I have long expressed my concerns about Iran. After all, it's a totalitarian society where free people are not allowed to, you know, exercise their rights as human beings." He said, "This has been an issue that I have been concerned about ever since I've been the president."
But Mr. McClellan, his spokesman, later suggested to reporters that the president's remarks should not be read to imply that the United States had any evidence that Iran knew in advance about the Sept. 11 plot. "There's no evidence to suggest anything there," he said.
A spokesman for the Sept. 11 commission, known formally as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, said the panel welcomed the president's comments suggesting that he was receptive to its findings and that he would act on the report.
"We're gratified by the president's comments," said the spokesman, Al Felzenberg, who said the commission planned to brief Mr. Bush and Congressional leaders in person about the findings of the report before its release to the public on Thursday.
In a statement, the panel's vice chairman, Lee H. Hamilton, a former House member from Indiana, said the commission hoped "that the president and the Congress study our recommendations with care and act on them quickly." Mr. Hamilton added: "The terrorist threat to the United States has not disappeared. Future attacks are expected."
Mr. Felzenberg said the report had been completed over the weekend and sent to publishers on Monday morning. The government's version is being published by the Government Printing Office, while a private, authorized version is being published by W. W. Norton, which is planning to distribute 500,000 copies to bookstores across the country.
Mr. Felzenberg said that a pre-publication review of the report by the White House had gone relatively smoothly and that in declassifying the book-length document, the White House had not demanded any substantial editing of the contents.
"I was told that none of the contents were changed, none of the findings," he said, adding that there would be no deletions or whited-out pages in the report released to the public. "We had a good experience with the White House on this."
Iran Academic Aghajari Sentenced to 5 Years
July 20, 2004
TEHRAN -- Iranian academic Hashem Aghajari has been sentenced to five years in prison for saying Muslims should not follow blindly like "monkeys" the teachings of senior clerics, his lawyer was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
Two years of the sentence were suspended in view of the time the history lecturer has already spent in jail, his lawyer Saleh Nikbakht told the ISNA students news agency. Aghajari was originally sentenced to death for the 2002 speech, a verdict which sparked some of Iran's biggest student protests for years.
***This is important stuff.***
Aghajari sentencing pong
WANTED: AN IRAN POLICY [Excerpt]
By AMIR TAHERI
July 20, 2004 -- IS Iran shaping up as an issue in the American pres idential election campaign?
A month ago, the question would have appeared fanciful. Then the assumption was that violence in Iraq would use up all the space there is in such a campaign for foreign policy.
Now, however, there are signs that Iran might come up as an issue over which President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry are clearly divided much more so than over Iraq.
Iran offers Bush and Kerry a chance to demonstrate their different approaches to the issue of dealing with regimes that, rightly or wrongly, are perceived as hostile to the United States and/or its allies. In a broader perspective, the issue would enable Bush and Kerry to debate their views on how American power should be used in the post-Cold War world.
What is pushing Iran into the American presidential agenda?
The first issue is Iran's alleged program to build an arsenal of nuclear weapons.
There is a growing consensus, even in European circles, that the Islamic Republic has made the strategic decision to "go nuclear." The question is no longer whether anyone could persuade Tehran to change its mind on an issue that lies at the heart of its new defense doctrine.
Ardeshir Zahedi, a former foreign minister of Iran, put the case neatly in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. He said the real question was whether the region, and beyond it the world, could live with a nuclear-armed Iran under the present regime.
The Iranian nuclear issue is likely to reach the U.N. Security Council this autumn, perhaps on the eve of the U.S. election.
The Bush administration has not developed a clear policy on the issue. Last year, it endorsed European Union efforts to persuade Tehran to abandon the military aspect of its nuclear program. With those efforts now at an end, the administration is reverting to unspecified threats to dissuade Tehran from "going nuclear."
Kerry, on the other hand, has proposed what could, in diplomatic terms, be described as a flight of fancy.
His idea is simple: The United States and its allies should offer to provide Iran with as much enriched uranium as it needs for producing electricity and, at the other end of the cycle, receive the total amount of spent uranium fuel for reprocessing.
In other words, Kerry is inviting the mullahs to give the United States control over both ends of their nuclear program. Although some in Tehran have welcomed Kerry's offer, there is little chance the Islamic Republic will accept it.
The second issue propelling Iran into the headlines concerns Iraq and Afghanistan. Both countries are scheduled to hold elections soon. And Iranian-backed elements in Afghanistan and Iraq are receiving vast sums of money and propaganda support.
In Afghanistan, they could end up winning almost 30 percent of the seats in a future parliament. That could put them in a position to form a coalition with other anti-American elements, and those opposed to democratization in general, to gain control of the future parliament.
Also in Afghanistan, Iran is sponsoring the Pushtun Islamist warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar against moderate Pushtuns led by the interim President Hamid Karzai. Most of the recent attacks against foreign-aid workers in southern Afghanistan, as well as around Kunduz, have been the work of Hekmatyar's armed gangs rather than the Taliban.
Support for Iran is less strong in Iraq but the impact of Iranian money, organizational skill, propaganda and intimidating tactics shouldn't be underestimated.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Republic's "Supreme Guide," has said that the "New Middle East" that is to emerge after the fall of the Taliban and Saddam must "conform to what Iran wants, not what Washington dictates."
The third issue concerns Palestine: The disintegration of the Palestinian leadership under Yasser Arafat and the dismantling of Hamas by the Israelis are creating a vacuum that Tehran hopes to fill.
Tehran is reviving the Palestinian branch of the Hezbollah, which had almost faded away since the start of the now defunct "second Intifada." Iran is supported by Syria, which is equally determined to oppose Washington's attempt at reshaping the Middle East.
Tehran still believes that control of the "Palestinian cause" could give it a leadership position in the Muslim world and enhance its defenses against military action by the United States and/or Israel.
The fourth issue concerns Iran's alleged role in sponsoring international terrorism. Tehran has not denied the CIA claims that some of the 9/11 terrorists had spent time in Iran. It is also a public fact that hundreds of Taliban and al Qaeda militants have sought refuge in Iran. Some former Taliban leaders have purchased homes in several Iranian localities, notably Pishin and Dost-Muhammad.
Groups that want the United States to adopt a "regime change" policy on Iran are building up a case against the Islamic Republic on the basis of its alleged links with terrorist attacks aimed at America and its allies in the past quarter-century. These groups (which include many Iranian-Americans) hope to persuade Bush to adopt a tougher position on Iran.
But other groups (again including some Iranian-Americans) are campaigning for a dialogue between Tehran and Washington. Kerry's senior foreign-policy aides have said he favors such a dialogue.
The dialogue idea is also promoted by a new "task force" led by Zbigniew Bzrezinski, who was President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser, and Robert Gates, the former CIA director. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Richard Holbrooke are also campaigning for "normalization" with the Islamic Republic. ....
"evidence about an Iran-Qaeda tie contrasts sharply with what the Sept. 11 commission staff has concluded is a dearth of intelligence showing a working relationship between Iraq and the terror network, a judgment that has alarmed the White House since it appears to undermine a central justification of last year's invasion of Iraq."
"Government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the commission's report would offer extensive new evidence to show that Iran had provided logistical support over the years to Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network."
* >>>"Cofer Black, the US state department's counter-terrorism chief, confirmed to me recently that they have evidence of the collaboration between Al Qaeda and Iran. Some defectors from Iranian intelligence have provided a lot of information to the American authorities. According to this information, the Iranian Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) are in regular contact with Al Qaeda. The Pasdaran are not under President Khatami's control. They report directly to Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader."
>>"Iran's Minister for Intelligence Ali Fallahian and Quds Force chief Ahmad Vahidi are also said to be in contact with Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri. According to very reliable sources, Zawahiri was arrested by mistake in Iran in 2002...."It is believed that Zawahiri was released on Ali Fallahian's order."
Opposition forces pro-regime US lobbyists to revise tone
SMCCDI (Information Service)
Jul 19, 2004
The launch meeting of the self-called "Iran Task Force" and its "front" heads' speeches, at the "Council on Foreign Relations" in Washington DC, encountered a massive wave of protest including several Urgent Action Calls and Statements along with hundreds of phones, faxes and emails. Several Iranian opposition groups, including the SMCCDI, had condemned the desperate and illegitimate try of some former US officials and pro-regime lobby groups, who were intending to try to save the shaky Islamic republic regime, and had called for massive protest actions in their statements and during interviews with Iranian opposition TV and radio networks.
A successful demonstration, by principled Iranians and Americans, was held in front of the meeting despite heavy security measures. Placards and slogans were slamming the speakers and any establishment of ties between the US and the Terrorist and Tyrannical Mullahcracy.
The pressures and the scandal made around the affair seem to have resulted in a relative success as the one sided speeches planned by Zbignew Brzezinski ( the National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter), and "Robert M. Gates (the former CIA Director (1991-93) and current President of Texas A&M University) were partially revised. These immoral individuals who are financed by various lobby groups and pro-regime elements were intending, in another demagoguery effort, to pass under silence the essential parameter which is the "True Aspiration of Iranian People for a Democratic Regime Change in Iran". But exposed, they had to publicly revise some of their former stands and acknowledge the existence of dissidence and opposition against the Islamic republic regime.
Several Iranians who were able to access the meeting blasted Brzezinski and Gates during the Q&A time and were able to shift many attention on the plight of the Iranian people and the terrorist nature of the Islamic republic regime. Many laughed when they heard Carter's naive former National Security Advisor announcing as the master axe of his plan a kind of "selective engagement". They reminded him of the same kind of ill-policy which was introduced over 10 years ago by the German Government named "Critical Dialogue". They emphasized that the German policy had no positive effect and had, with the passage of time, to adapt its name to a so-called "Constructive Dialogue" after witnessing the increasing misdeeds of the mullahs.
An exiled dissident cleric, named Ayatollah Haeri, went ahead and qualified the organizers as bunch of naive elements who will always fail in mullahs' trap and give them the necessary time to endanger the World's security.
It's to note that the pro-Islamic regime lobby groups and elements are hoping for the election of Senator John Kerry as the future US President. They do believe that Kerry will legitimize the Islamic republic and establish ties with the mullahs as he has promised publicly.
Plans, such as, the creation of the so-called "Iran Task Force" and various seminars held in several US universities, by so-called moderate Islamists, are in line with such master plan and intending to prepare the American opinion with such prospect. Blinded by short term commercial opportunities, they omit to mention that such illegitimate actions are translated by the Mullahcracy as America's fear of them and as a reward for their terrorist actions and a green light for more repression in Iran.
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