America, Iran & Continuing Patterns of Hypocrisy
Though the recent nuclear talks with Iran ended with an apparent whiff of progress, and though the two sides have agreed to meet for further technical negotiations this month and then for political level talks next month, the U.S. continues to approach Iran with a hostility that can barely contain its hypocrisy.
The current generation of hypocrisy has three faces: Iran as a terror threat, Iran as a nuclear threat, and Iran's need to be monitored.
At the end of 2012, an astonishing and little noticed bill became law in America. The bill declares Iran's terrorist presence in Latin America. The bill gives the go ahead for the State Department to provide a strategy to address the threat of "Iran's growing hostile presence and activity in the Western Hemisphere". It declares that the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has boosted its presence in Latin America and that there is now "direct Iranian government support of Hezbollah activities" in South America.
The bill passed both houses and was signed into law by Obama on December 28.
According to Alex Main of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the US government has produced no evidence for these claims. Despite the lack of evidence, Iran's terrorist presence in our hemisphere is now official. At the recent AIPAC conference, Vice President Joe Biden echoed these assertions. Iran, he said, is "using terrorist proxies to spread violence in the region and beyond the region. . . . For too long, Hezbollah has [plotted] against innocents in Eastern Europe to East Africa; from Southeast Asia to South America. We know what Israel knows: Hezbollah is a terrorist organization".
American accusations that Iran is using Hezbollah as a terrorist proxy in Latin America are not new. In the 1990's, America blamed attacks on the Israeli embassy and a Jewish community centre in Argentina on Iran. Then, as now, the claim was that Hezbollah was responsible for the bombings and that Iran was responsible for Hezbollah. But political scientist Stephen Zunes says that "Despite longstanding investigations by Argentine officials, including testimony by hundreds of eyewitnesses and two lengthy trials, no convincing evidence emerged that implicated Hezbollah". As for Iran, William Brenick, who was chief of the political section of the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires and the primary Embassy contact for the investigation of the bombing, told Gareth Porter that the U.S. claim that Iran was behind the attack was based on a "wall of assumptions".
But the only thing more shocking than the new law’s baselessness is its hypocrisy. The hypocrisy takes two forms. First, it is America, not Iran, who is engaging in terrorism in the other’s region. The Obama administration has admitted direct responsibility for a barrage of cyber attacks against Iran. The now best known is Stuxnet, the computer virus that infected Iran’s centrifuges and sent them spinning wildly out of control and then playing back previously recorded tapes of normal operations which plant operators watched unsuspectingly while the centrifuges literally tore themselves apart. And Stuxnet, it turns out, was only the beginning. The New York Times has revealed that Obama ordered sophisticated attacks on the computers that run Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities. A virus much larger than Stuxnet, known as Flame, has attacked Iranian computers. This virus maps and monitors the system of Iranian computers and sends back intelligence that is used to prepare for cyber war campaigns like the one undertaken by Stuxnet. Officials have now confirmed that Flame is one part of a joint project of America’s CIA and NSA and Israel’s secret military unit 8200.
And America has been involved in not only cyber terrorism in Iran, but assassinations too. Since the beginning of 2010, there have been at least three assassinations and one attempted assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists. Two senior officials in the Obama administration have revealed to NBC news that the assassinations have been carried out by the People’s Mujahadin of Iran, or the MEK. They also confirm that the MEK is able to carry out these sophisticated attacks because it is being financed, armed and trained by the Israeli Mossad and that the assassinations are being carried out with the awareness of the Obama administration.
But secondly, and more brazen, is the hypocrisy of the U.S. accusing Iran of terrorism in Latin America. How hypocritical is that accusation? Just check the living memory of virtually any country in Latin America. Ask Guatemalans about the coup that took out Jacobo Arbenz. Or ask Brazilians about the one that removed Goulart from power. Ask the Guyanese about Cheddi Jagan, or the Cubans about the attempts on Castro’s life. Ask Chileans about Salvador Allende, or Panamanians about Manuel Noriega. Ask the mourning Venezuelans about the attempted 2002 coup of Hugo Chavez. Most recently, listen to the people of Honduras and Haiti and Paraguay. Ask many of these people too about the death squads and reigns of terror that followed the American coups.
So the first face of hypocrisy is the accusation, without evidence, that Iran is engaged in terrorist activity in our region, in Latin America, when it is we who are engaged in terrorist activity both in their region and in Latin America.
The hypocrisy is not limited to Iran as a terrorist threat, but continues into a new generation of hypocrisy regarding Iran as a nuclear threat. The directorship of the CIA has passed into the hands of the recently confirmed John Brennan. As part of his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Brennan said that the regime "in Tehran remain[s] bent on pursuing nuclear weapons . . . ".
The hypocrisy of Brennan making this assertion is much more glaring and foreboding than that of the many others in government and media that make that assertion. Brennan is the head of the C.I.A. But the verdict of the intelligence community is precisely the opposite of the assertion that Brennan made in his senate testimony. A National Intelligence Estimate (N.I.E.) represents the collective conclusions of the top analysts of all of America's many intelligence agencies. The government knows what the N.I.E. tells it. If the N.I.E. doesn't say it, then government officials, including Brennan, don't know it. The 2007 N.I.E. said with "high confidence" that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003. That conclusion has been "revalidated every year," according to Ray McGovern. The most recent N.I.E. delivered by the intelligence community provides even "more evidence to support that assessment," according to sources of investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. General James Clapper, who was responsible for preparing the N.I.E., said that "the bottom-line assessments of the  N.I.E. still hold true. We have not seen indications that the government has made the decision to move ahead with the program". When Senate Armed Service Committee chair Carl Levin asked General Clapper if the level of confidence that Iran has not restarted a nuclear weapons program was high, Clapper answered, "Yes, it is". Hersh quotes a retired senior intelligence officer as saying "none of our efforts--informants, penetrations, planting of sensors-leads to a bomb".
The history of the C.I.A. is, unfortunately, replete with examples of directors lying to the President and the Congress about what the C.I.A. knew. But those lies were always told by them to defend and protect their agency and to insist that the C.I.A. was right. In his testimony, Brennan lied to the senate by deceptively saying that the best analysis of the agency he heads is wrong. The director of the C.I.A. testified that Iran is bent on pursuing nuclear weapons by dismissing the conclusions of the C.I.A. he directs. And that is hypocritical. It is also foreboding. Brennan, like Tennet before him with regard to Iraq, twisted the intelligence to fit the politics.
The third face of the current generation of hypocrisy on Iran is the hypocrisy on monitoring Iran. Recently, the United Nations General Assembly voted by an overwhelming 174-6 to approve a resolution calling on Israel to open up her nuclear weapons program to international inspectors and to join the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Only five countries joined Israel in opposing the resolution: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau (all three of which have compacts of free association with the U.S. and never cast their votes at the U.N. inconsistently with America), Canada and the United States.
Iran, according to the National Intelligence Estimate, doesn't have a nuclear weapons program. Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. And Iran is being closely monitored. However, the U.S. still pushes for more, and Iran still faces crushing sanctions and constant threat of war. When the whole world, though, asks Israel to have her nuclear weapons program monitored and to be brought within the framework of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, the U.S. votes no. For the Iranians, this American U.N. vote must be the most glaring example of hypocrisy of all.