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Hagel Questioned by a Serious Reporter

Communications director for the Institute for Public Accuracy, Sam Husseini said today: "With the Hagel nomination, former 'anti-war' candidate Barack Obama continues to appoint individuals to top foreign policy positions who voted for or otherwise backed the invasion of Iraq. This includes Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Robert Gates as well as John Kerry. Those who actually opposed the war from the start have been iced out. In establishment Washington, you get points for being wrong on the most important foreign policy question of your career.

"Particularly noteworthy are the contortions 'reasonable' individuals like Hagel have gone through. For example, when I questioned him in 2007, he said he did regret his Iraq war vote, but argued that it wasn't actually a war vote, couldn't bring himself to say the Bush administration had rigged the intelligence about Iraqi WMDs and gave as reasons for opposing the war things that were known before the war." [Video at WashingtonStakeout]


None of this is reason not to oppose the prowar opposition to Hagel's nomination.  But it is worth keeping in mind who Hagel is, including the bit of information that nobody wants mentioned: he owned the company that counted his votes.

Our Government Is Intent on Not Knowing How Catastrophic an Attack on Iran Would Be

By Ben Armbruster

A measure requiring the office of the Director of National Intelligence to report to Congress on the consequences of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities will not be included in the FY2013 Intelligence Authorization Act.

The House voted in May to include the amendment calling for a report on the consequences of an Iran attack in its version of the intelligence authorization bill. It reads:


Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of National Intelligence shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees a report containing an assessment of the consequences of a military strike against Iran.

But the version the Senate passed on Friday does not contain any language calling for such a report. And instead of merging the House and Senate intelligence authorization bills, the House is scheduled to vote on the Senate version without the Iran war consequences measure.

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), who led the push in the House to include the Iran war consequences amendment back in May, expressed disappointment the measure has not been included.

“While I am disappointed that our amendment will not be included in the final version of 2013 Intelligence Authorization Act,” Conyers said in a statement this afternoon, “the unanimous support for the report language in the House of Representatives shows that there is substantial bipartisan demand in Congress for a clear-sighted, realistic analysis of the very serious consequences that could result from a preemptive military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.”

Various experts and current and former U.S. and Israeli security officials have publicly warned about the consequences of attacking Iran, including the possibility of an “all out regional war” or a situation that would, in the words of former Bush administration CIA Director Michael Hayden, “guarantee that which we are trying to prevent — an Iran that will spare nothing to build a nuclear weapon.”

The House was expected to pass the Senate’s version of the intelligence bill today, but Republican leaders have postponed the vote.

“Although a report on the consequences of an attack on Iran will not be mandated by this law,” Conyers added, “I strongly encourage the Director of National Intelligence to proceed with this analysis and share it with Congress. The expertise and collective wisdom of our intelligence community is critically needed in this debate.”

Iran War Weekly - January 1, 2013

Iran War Weekly

January 1, 2013


Talk Nation Radio: Roy Hange on Struggle for Peace in Syria and Iran

Roy Hange is a Mennonite pastor in Charlottesville, Va., who has spent 30 years studying Western Asia (the Middle East).  He has lived for 3 years in Egypt, 6 in Syria, and 1 in Iran.  Hange has taught peace building at Eastern Mennonite University and the University of Virginia.  Hange discusses prospects for peace in Syria and Iran.

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Crime Watch: American Presidents and their Advisors are War Criminals


By Dave Lindorff

Most Americans, their minds focused at the moment on the tragic slaughter of 20 young children aged 5-10, along with five teachers and a school principal in Connecticut by a heavily-armed psychotic 21-year-old, are blissfully unaware that their last president, George W. Bush, along with five key members of his administration, were convicted in absentia of war crimes earlier this month at a tribunal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Iranian Bomb Graph Appears Adapted from One on Internet

By Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON, Dec 13 2012 (IPS- The suspect graph of a nuclear explosion reportedly provided to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as evidence of Iranian computer modeling of nuclear weapons yields appears to have been adapted from a very similar graph in a scholarly journal article published in January 2009 and available on the internet.

Graph published by the scholarly journal Nuclear Engineering and Design, Volume 239, Issue 1, January 2009, Pages 80–86.

The graph, published in a Nov. 27 Associated Press story but immediately found to have a mathematical error of four orders of magnitude, closely resembles a graph accompanying a scholarly articlemodeling a nuclear explosion. It provides a plausible explanation for the origins of the graph leaked to AP, according to two nuclear physicists following the issue closely.

The graph in the scholarly journal article was well known to the IAEA at the time of its publication, according to a knowledgeable source.

That means that the IAEA should have been able to make the connection between the set of graphs alleged to have been used by Iran to calculate yields from nuclear explosions that the agency obtained in 2011 and the very similar graph available on the internet.

The IAEA did not identify the member countries that provided the intelligence about the alleged Iran studies. However, Israel provided most of the intelligence cited by the IAEA in its 2011 report, and Israeli intelligence has been the source of a number of leaks to the AP reporter in Vienna, George Jahn.

Graph published by the Associated Press on Nov. 27, 2012, reportedly as evidence of Iranian computer modeling of nuclear weapons yields.

The graph accompanying an article in the January 2009 issue of the journal Nuclear Engineering and Design by retired Swiss nuclear engineer Walter Seifritz displayed a curve representing power in a nuclear explosion over fractions of a second that is very close to the one shown in the graph published by AP and attributed by the officials leaking it to an Iranian scientist.

Both graphs depict a nuclear explosion as an asymmetrical bell curve in which the right side of the curve is more elongated than the left side. Although both graphs are too crudely drawn to allow precise measurement, it appears that the difference between the two sides of the curve on the two graphs is very close to the same in both graphs.

The AP graph appears to show a total energy production of 50 kilotonnes taking place over about 0.3 microseconds, whereas the Seifritz graph shows a total of roughly 18 kilotonnes produced over about 0.1 microseconds.

The resemblance is so dramatic that two nuclear specialists who compared the graphs at the request of IPS consider it very plausible that the graph leaked to AP as part of an Iranian secret nuclear weapons research programme may well have been derived from the one in the journal article.

Scott Kemp, an assistant professor of nuclear science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), told IPS he suspects the graph leaked to AP was “adapted from the open literature”. He said he believes the authors of that graph “were told they ought to look into the literature and found that paper, copied (the graph) and made their own plot from it.”

Yousaf Butt, a nuclear scientist at the Monterey Institute, who had spotted the enormous error in the graph published by AP, along with his colleague Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, said in an interview with IPS that a relationship between the two graphs is quite plausible, particularly given the fact they both have similar asymmetries in the power curve.

US Intelligence Analysts: American Power is in Terminal Decline


By Dave Lindorff


The US is on the way out as a hegemonic power. 

That is the primary conclusion of a new report out of the National Intelligence Council -- a government organization that produces mid-term and long-range thinking for the US intelligence community.

Iran War Weekly - December 12, 2012

Iran War Weekly

December 12, 2012


Iran War Weekly - December 4, 2012

Iran War Weekly

December 4, 2012


Hello All – With negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program scheduled to resume in 10 days, the role of “Iran” in US Middle East policy is now sandwiched between the politico-military meltdown in Israel and an out-of-control war in Syria.  To those who remember how the US war against Iraq was orchestrated in 2002-2003, claims this week that Syria may be preparing to use its chemical weapons are especially alarming.  I have linked some good/useful readings about Syria below; for keeping up-to-date, I recommend the websites Syria Comment, War in Context, and Aljazeera (“Inside Syria”).


Veterans For Peace Strongly Condemns the New Round of Sanctions Against the People of Iran

On Friday November 30th, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a new round of sanctions against Iran as an amendment to the so-called Defense Authorization Act. This amendment, sponsored by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), broadens the scope of current sanctions on Iran to include Iran’s shipping industry and ports. According to Menendez, “By passing these additional measures ending sales to and transactions with Iranian sectors that support proliferation — energy, shipping, ship-building and port sectors as well as with anyone on our specially designed national list — we will send a message to Iran that they can’t just try to wait us out.”

This criminal act of collective punishment of the people of Iran is being taken at a time when the existing economic sanctions have already caused a tremendous amount of suffering for the Iranian people without having any impact on nuclear weapons proliferation in the Middle East.

Iran War Weekly - November 28, 2012

Iran War Weekly

November 28, 2012


Hello All – The Gaza war, the US presidential election, and a recently released IAEA report critical of Iran will provide the context for a new round of talks about Iran’s nuclear program scheduled to begin in mid-December.  How will these factors shape the next round of talks and, more generally, the possibility of escalating or de-escalating the war against Iran?  Each of these issues is addressed in the good/useful readings linked below.


Iran War Weekly - November 20, 2012

Iran War Weekly

November 20, 2012


Hello All – Buried first by Hurricane Sandy and then by the US presidential election, this week the story of the international conflict over Iran’s nuclear program lies in the deep shadow of the Israeli attack on Gaza.  Nevertheless, there were some important developments regarding both Iran’s program and the prospects for negotiations, which are discussed in some of the good/useful readings linked below.


Iran War Weekly - November 12, 2012

Iran War Weekly

November 12, 2012


Hello All – From the time of the last round of nuclear negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran (in Moscow last August), the issues surrounding these negotiations have lain dormant under the deep shadow of the US presidential election.  With the election out of the way, negotiations are expected to resume next month.  During the campaign the Obama team was content to have economic war (“sanctions”) against Iran substitute for diplomacy and pre-empt military action.  Now what?


Done in by the PATRIOT Act: The Grand Irony of the Petraeus Sex Scandal


By Dave Lindorff

There is a delicious irony to the story of the crash-and-burn career of Four-Star General and later (at least briefly) CIA Director David Petraeus.

Iran War Weekly - October 29, 2012

Iran War Weekly

October 29, 2012

[Delayed post]


Hello All – My hurricane-battered neighborhood lost power last Monday as this newsletter was nearing completion, and electricity and phone line have just been restored.  Here, then, is the way the Iran war looked last Monday.  Some things may be out of date, but my guess is that most are not.  I will get a new edition out asap, as I reconnect with the world.


Trafficking Anti-Iranian Propaganda


Trafficking Anti-Iranian Propaganda


by Stephen Lendman


American media scoundrels honed it to an art form. Britain's BBC and commercial media regularly feature it. So does a newly licensed anti-Iranian TV channel. More on Raha TV below.


On US and UK television, truth is verboten. Last January, Britain banned Press TV broadcasts. In a disturbing move without valid reasons, the British Office of Communications (Ofcom) pulled the plug disgracefully.

A Nation Armed to the Teeth but Living in Fear


By Dave Lindorff

A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana, showing that young children who are fearful in childhood are likely to be conservative when they grow up got me to thinking.

Game Meant to Oppose War on Iran Builds in Pro-War Propaganda

Veterans For Peace supports the abolition of war.  We therefore have mixed feelings about opposition to a particular war when that opposition supports the institution of war making as an acceptable tool of public policy, and when the opposition builds into its assumptions much of the propaganda it should be exposing.

Video: Helena Cobban, Roy Hange, David Swanson, and W. Scott Harrop on Iran, Syria, and the U.S. at War or Peace


Propaganda in the U.S. media is very real. In an attempt to counteract its effects and to offer the Charlottesville public a deeper understanding of the situation in the Middle East, Random Row Books has invited several local experts to give their take on the continuing volatility in that region.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at Random Row Books

Helena Cobban is a British-American writer and researcher on international relations, with special interests in the Middle East, the international system, and transitional justice. In March 2010, she founded Just World Publishing.

Roy Hange pastors Charlottesville Mennonite Church and has worked with Mennonite Central Committee in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East. He has taught faith-based peacebuilding courses at EMU and UVA.

David Swanson is a local author and activist at the forefront of the peace movement in America. During Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent visit to New York for the U.N. talks, David was one of several activists who had dinner with the Iranian president. His most recent books are War is a Lie and When the World Outlawed War. He also hosts Talk Nation Radio.

W. Scott Harrop currently teaches in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Culture at UVA, with Iran as his area of expertise.

Videos by Kathryn

PBS and Iran's "Nuclear Weapons"

NewsHour botches basic fact about Iran dispute

In an October 22 discussion of the foreign policy presidential debate, the PBS NewsHour's Jeffrey Brown stated that "Iran's nuclear weapons program has been a particular flash point."

A few weeks earlier (10/5/12) on the NewsHour, Ray Suarez said that Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez had

continued to thwart American efforts on a range of international issues, such as Washington's attempt to convince Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to halt his country's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

As most people following this story should know, there is no intelligence that shows Iran has a nuclear weapons program. The country has long denied the accusation, and regular inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency have failed to turn up evidence that Iran's enriched uranium is being diverted for use in a weapon (Extra!, 1/12).

Some governments claim otherwise, but journalists are supposed to convey the evidence that is available--not to make claims that are unsupported by the facts. If there was one clear lesson from the Iraq War, it was that reporters need to carefully distinguish between what is known for certain and what some government leaders claim.

There have been questions about the NewsHour's Iran reporting before (FAIR Blog, 1/10/12). On January 9 the broadcast reported that Iran's denial that it is pursuing a nuclear weapon was "disputed by the U.S. and its allies." The show turned to a clip from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to bolster that point -- but edited out the part of his statement in which he said, "Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No." A NewsHour editor agreed (FAIR Blog, 1/1712) that "it would have been better had we not lopped off the first part of the Panetta quote."

Unfortunately, these recent examples suggest that the show is still being careless about how it reports the facts about Iran.

Tell the PBS NewsHour to correct its assertions that Iran has a nuclear weapons program.

PBS NewsHour

Direct US/Iran Nuclear Talks


Direct US/Iran Nuclear Talks


by Stephen Lendman


To talk or not to talk. What's sensible is twisted to be complicated. Claiming an existential Iranian threat is red herring cover. At issue is long-planned regime change. 


Obama Campaign Displays Democratic Dysfunction and Warnings of Future Betrayal


By Dave Lindorff

We know that there isn't much "Hope" for "Change" -- at least for progressive change -- should President Obama win a second term as president.

Even when he had the chance, with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress during the first two years of his presidency, and with a solid mandate from the voters to act on restoring civil liberties, taking significant action against climate change, ending the wars and defending Social Security and Medicare, he did nothing.

Obama Aides Launch Preemptive Attack on New Iran Plan

By Gareth Porter, IPS

WASHINGTON, Oct 16 2012 (IPS) - Although the place and time of the next round of talks on Iran’s nuclear programme have not yet been announced, the manoeuvring by Iran and the United States to influence the outcome has already begun.

Iran sought support for a revised proposal to the talks during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last month, according to a New York Times report Oct. 4. Then, only a few days later, the Barack Obama administration launched a preemptive attack on the proposal through New York Times reporter David Sanger.

The officials suggested the Iranian proposal would give Iran an easier route to a “breakout” to weapons grade uranium enrichment. But that claim flies in the face of some obvious realities.

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