Thursday, December 31, 2009

Are Presidents Afraid of the CIA? By Ray McGovern

Panetta reportedly was also dead set against reopening the investigation — as he was against release of the Justice Department’s “torture memoranda” of 2002, as he has been against releasing pretty much anything at all — the President’s pledges of a new era of openness, notwithstanding. [See’s “CIA Torturers Running Scared.”]

Panetta is even older than I, and hearing is among the first faculties to fail. Perhaps he heard “error” when the President said “era.”

As for the benighted seven, they are more to be pitied than scorned. No longer able to avail themselves of the services of clever Agency lawyers and wordsmiths, they put their names to a letter that reeked of self-interest — not to mention the inappropriateness of asking a President to interfere with an investigation already ordered by the Attorney General.

Three of the seven — George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden — were themselves involved, in one way or another, in planning, conducting or covering up all manner of illegal actions, including torture, assassination and illegal eavesdropping.

In this light, the most transparent part of the letter may be the sentence in which they worry: “There is no reason to expect that the re-opened criminal investigation will remain narrowly focused.”

When asked about the letter on Sunday TV shows on Sept. 20, Obama was careful always to respond first by expressing obligatory “respect” for the CIA and its directors.

With Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation,” though, Obama did allow himself a condescending quip. He commented, “I appreciate the former CIA directors wanting to look out for an institution that they helped to build.”

That quip was, sadly, the exception to the rule. While Obama keeps repeating the mantra that “nobody is above the law,” there is no real sign that he intends to face down Panetta and the Seven Dwarfs — no sign that anyone has breathed new life into federal prosecutor John Durham, to whom Holder gave the mandate for further “preliminary investigation.”

What is generally forgotten is that it was former Attorney General Michael Mukasey who picked Durham two years ago to investigate the CIA’s destruction of 91 tapes of the interrogation of “high-value detainees.”

Durham had scarcely been heard from when Holder added to his job-jar the task of conducting a preliminary investigation regarding the CIA torture specialists. These are the ones whose zeal led them to go beyond the already highly permissive Justice Department guidelines for “harsh interrogation.”

Durham, clearly, is proceeding with all deliberate speed (emphasis on “deliberate”). Someone has even suggested — I trust, in jest — that he has been diverted to the search for the money and other assets that Bernie Madoff stashed away.

In any case, do not hold your breath for findings from Durham anytime soon. Holder appears in no hurry. And President Obama keeps giving off signals that he is afraid of getting crosswise with the CIA — that’s right, afraid.

Not Just Paranoia

In that fear, President Obama stands in the tradition of a dozen American presidents. Harry Truman and John Kennedy were the only ones to take on the CIA directly.

Worst of all, evidence continues to build that the CIA was responsible, at least in part, for the assassination of President Kennedy. Evidence new to me came in response to things I included in my article of Dec. 22, “Break the CIA in Two."

What follows can be considered a sequel that is based on the kind of documentary evidence after which intelligence analysts positively lust.

Unfortunately for the CIA operatives who were involved in the past activities outlined below, the temptation to ask Panetta to put a SECRET stamp on the documentary evidence will not work. Nothing short of blowing up the Truman Library might help some.

But even that would be a largely feckless “covert action,” copy machines having long since done their thing.

In my article of Dec. 22, I referred to Harry Truman’s op-ed of exactly 46 years before, titled “Limit CIA Role to Intelligence,” in which the former President expressed dismay at what the Central Intelligence Agency had become just 16 years after he and Congress created it.

The Washington Post published the op-ed on Dec. 22, 1963, in its early edition, but immediately excised it from later editions. Other media ignored it. The long hand of the CIA?

Truman wrote that he was “disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment” to keep the President promptly and fully informed and had become “an operational and at times policy-making arm of the government.”

The Truman Papers

Documents in the Truman Library show that nine days after Kennedy was assassinated, Truman sketched out in handwritten notes what he wanted to say in the op-ed. He noted, among other things, that the CIA had worked as he intended only “when I had control.”

In Truman’s view, misuse of the CIA began in February 1953, when his successor, Dwight Eisenhower, named Allen Dulles CIA Director. Dulles’s forte was overthrowing governments (in current parlance, “regime change”), and he was quite good at it.

With coups in Iran (1953) and Guatemala (1954) under his belt, Dulles was riding high in the late Fifties and moved Cuba to the top of his to-do list.

Accustomed to the carte blanche given him by Eisenhower, Dulles was offended when young President Kennedy came on the scene and had the temerity to ask questions about the Bay of Pigs adventure, which had been set in motion under Eisenhower.

When Kennedy made it clear he would NOT approve the use of U.S. combat forces, Dulles reacted with disdain and set out to mousetrap the new President.

Coffee-stained notes handwritten by Allen Dulles were discovered after his death and reported by historian Lucien S. Vandenbroucke. They show how Dulles drew Kennedy into a plan that was virtually certain to require the use of U.S. combat forces.

In his notes Dulles explained that, “when the chips were down,” the new President would be forced by “the realities of the situation” to give whatever military support was necessary “rather than permit the enterprise to fail.”

Additional detail came from a March 2001 conference on the Bay of Pigs, which included CIA operatives, retired military commanders, scholars and journalists. Daniel Schorr told National Public Radio that he had gained one new perception as a result of the “many hours of talk and heaps of declassified secret documents”:

“It was that the CIA overlords of the invasion, Director Allen Dulles and Deputy Richard Bissell, had their own plan on how to bring the United States into the conflict.… What they expected was that the invaders would establish a beachhead … and appeal for aid from the United States. …

“The assumption was that President Kennedy, who had emphatically banned direct American involvement, would be forced by public opinion to come to the aid of the returning patriots. American forces, probably Marines, would come in to expand the beachhead.

“In fact, President Kennedy was the target of a CIA covert operation that collapsed when the invasion collapsed.”

The “enterprise” which Dulles said could not fail was, of course, the overthrow of Fidel Castro. After mounting several failed operations to assassinate him, this time Dulles meant to get his man, with little or no attention to what the Russians might do in reaction.

Kennedy stuck to his guns, so to speak; fired Dulles and his co-conspirators a few months after the abortive invasion in April 1961; and told a friend that he wanted to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds.”

The outrage was mutual, and when Kennedy himself was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, it must have occurred to Truman that the disgraced Dulles and his outraged associates might not be above conspiring to get rid of a President they felt was soft on Communism — and, incidentally, get even.

In his op-ed of Dec. 22, 1963, Truman warned: “The most important thing … was to guard against the chance of intelligence being used to influence or to lead the President into unwise decisions.” It is a safe bet that Truman had the Bay of Pigs fiasco uppermost in mind.

Truman called for CIA’s operational duties [to] be terminated or properly used elsewhere.” (This is as good a recommendation now as it was then, in my view.)

On Dec. 27, 1963, retired Admiral Sidney Souers, whom Truman had appointed to lead his first central intelligence group, sent a “Dear Boss” letter applauding Truman’s outspokenness and blaming Dulles for making the CIA “a different animal than I tried to set up for you.”

Souers specifically lambasted the attempt “to conduct a ‘war’ invading Cuba with a handful of men and without air cover.”

Souers also lamented the fact that the agency’s “principal effort” had evolved into causing “revolutions in smaller countries around the globe,” and added:
“With so much emphasis on operations, it would not surprise me to find that the matter of collecting and processing intelligence has suffered some.”

Clearly, CIA’s operational tail was wagging its substantive dog — a serious problem that persists to this day.

Fox Guarding Hen House

The well-connected Dulles got himself appointed to the Warren Commission and took the lead in shaping the investigation of JFK’s assassination.

Documents in the Truman Library show that he then mounted a small domestic covert action of his own to neutralize any future airing of Truman’s and Souers’s warnings about covert action.

So important was this to Dulles that he invented a pretext to get himself invited to visit Truman in Independence, Missouri. On the afternoon of April 17, 1964, Dulles spent a half-hour trying to get the former President to retract what he had said in his op-ed. No dice, said Truman.

No problem, thought Dulles. Four days later, in a formal memo for his old buddy Lawrence Houston, CIA General Counsel from 1947 to 1973, Dulles fabricated a private retraction, claiming that Truman told him the Washington Post article was “all wrong,” and that Truman “seemed quite astounded at it.”

No doubt Dulles thought it might be handy to have such a memo in CIA files, just in case.

A fabricated retraction? It certainly seems so, because Truman did not change his tune. Far from it.

In a June 10, 1964, letter to the managing editor of Look magazine, for example, Truman restated his critique of covert action, emphasizing that he never intended the CIA to get involved in “strange activities.”

Dulles and Dallas

Dulles could hardly have expected to get Truman to recant publicly. So why was it so important for Dulles to place in CIA files a fabricated retraction? My guess is that in early 1964 he was feeling a good bit of heat from those suggesting the CIA might have been involved somehow in the Kennedy assassination.

Indeed, columnists were asking how the truth could ever come out with Allen Dulles on the Warren Commission. Prescient.

Dulles feared, rightly, that Truman’s limited-edition op-ed might yet hit pay dirt and raise serious questions about covert action. Dulles would have wanted to be in position to flash the Truman “retraction,” with the hope that this would nip any serious questioning in the bud.

The media had already shown how co-opted — er, I mean “cooperative” — it could be.

As the de facto head of the Warren Commission, Dulles was perfectly positioned to exculpate himself and any of his associates, were any commissioners or investigators — or journalists — tempted to question whether the killing in Dallas might have been a CIA covert action.

Did Allen Dulles and other “cloak-and-dagger CIA operatives have a hand in killing President Kennedy and then covering it up? The most up-to-date — and, in my view, the best — dissection of the assassination appeared last year in James Douglass’s book, JFK and the Unspeakable.

After updating and arraying the abundant evidence, and conducting still more interviews, Douglass concludes the answer is Yes.

Ray McGovern now works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. During a 27-year career at CIA, he served under nine CIA directors and in all four of CIA’s main directorates, including operations. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

CIA Agents assassinated in Afghanistan worked for “contractor” active in Venezuela, Cuba

At least eight U.S. citizens were killed on a CIA operations base in Afghanistan this past Wednesday, December 30. A suicide bomber infiltrated Forward Operating Base Chapman located in the eastern province of Khost, which was a CIA center of operations and surveillance. Official sources in Washington have confirmed that the eight dead were all civilian employees and CIA contractors.

Fifteen days ago, five U.S. citizens working for a U.S. government contractor, Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), were also killed in an explosion at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) office in Gardez. That same day, another bomb exploded outside the DAI offices in Kabul, although no serious injuries resulted.

The December 15 incident received little attention, although it occurred just days after the detention of a DAI employee in Cuba, accused of subversion and distribution of illegal materials to counterrevolutionary groups. President and CEO of DAI, Jim Boomgard, issued a declaration on December 14 regarding the detention of a subcontractor from his company in Cuba, confirming that, “the detained individual was an employee of a program subcontractor, which was implementing a competitively issued subcontract to assist Cuban civil society organizations.” The statement also emphasized the “new program” DAI is managing for the U.S. government in Cuba, the “Cuba Democracy and Contingency Planning Program”. DAI was awarded a $40 million USD contract in 2008 to help the U.S. government “support the peaceful activities of a broad range of nonviolent organizations through competitively awarded grants and subcontracts” in Cuba.

On December 15, DAI published a press release mourning “project personnel killed in Afghanistan”. “DAI is deeply saddened to report the deaths of five staff associated with our projects in Afghanistan…On December 15, five employees of DAI’s security subcontractor were killed by an explosion in the Gardez office of the Local Governance and Community Development (LGCD) Program, a USAID project implemented by DAI.”

DAI also runs a program in Khost where the December 30 suicide bombing occurred, although it has yet to be confirmed if the eight U.S. citizens killed were working for the major U.S. government contractor. From the operations base in Khost, the CIA remotely controls its selective assassination program against alleged Al Qaeda members in Pakistan and Afghanistan using drone (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) Predator planes.
A high-level USAID official confirmed two weeks ago that the CIA uses USAID’s name to issue contracts and funding to third parties in order to provide cover for clandestine operations. The official, a veteran of the U.S. government agency, stated that the CIA issues such contracts without USAID’s full knowledge.

Since June 2002, USAID has maintained an Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI) in Venezuela, through which it has channeled more than $50 million USD to groups and individuals opposed to President Hugo Chávez. The same contractor active in Afghanistan and connected with the CIA, Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), was awarded a multi-million dollar budget from USAID in Venezuela to “assist civil society and the transition to democracy”. More than two thousand documents partially declassified from USAID regarding the agency’s activities in Venezuela reveal the relationship between DAI and sectors of the Venezuelan opposition that have actively been involved in coup d’etats, violent demonstrations and other destabilization attempts against President Chávez.

In Bolivia, USAID was expelled this year from two municipalities, Chapare and El Alto, after being accused of interventionism. In September 2009, President Evo Morales announced the termination of an official agreement with USAID allowing its operations in Bolivia, based on substantial evidence documenting the agency’s funding of violent separtist groups seeking to destabilize the country.

In 2005, USAID was also expelled from Eritrea and accused of being a “neo-colonialist” agency. Ethiopia, Russia and Belarus have ordered the expulsion of USAID and its contractors during the last five years.

Development Alternatives, Inc. is one of the largest U.S. government contractors in the world. The company, with headquarters in Bethesda, MD, presently has a $50 million contract with USAID for operations in Afghanistan. In Latin America, DAI has operations and field offices in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

This year, USAID/DAI’s budget in Venezuela nears $15 million USD and its programs are oriented towards strengthening opposition parties, candidates and campaigns for the 2010 legislative elections. Just two weeks ago, President Chávez also denounced the illegal presence of U.S. drone planes in Venezuelan airspace.

Obama bombs Yemen again, as he claims to stand "with those who seek their universal rights."

WRITTEN BY Mozhgan Savabieasfahani

What a charade!

I learned the word "charade " from my Texan English teacher in Teheran long ago. I later found out she was the wife of a U.S. military advisor for the Shah's puppet regime. I still remember my teacher's meticulous attention to English pronunciation and her glittering diamonds. Many such U.S. military families fled Iran when the 1979 revolution arrived.

Obama, like his predecessors, got on T.V. yesterday to declare his love for freedom and universal human rights. What a charade! Do you, Mr. Obama, expect us to embrace your calls for people's universal rights as you continue to illegally occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, as you continue to bomb Pakistan, as you tighten crippling sanctions on Iran, and as you shamelessly talk of destabilizing politically independent nations? And as you continue your full support for Israel and its criminal acts in Palestine?

Do you expect us to believe you care for people's universal rights as you start another war in Yemen?

So what about Yemen, you ask?

Suddenly Obama has introduced us to his latest "enemy": Yemen.

You would never guess that Yemen was occupied from 1839 to 1967 by Great Britain or that Israel and the U.S. deployed their air forces, and their air bases, to crush Yemen's drive for independence. From the 1960's until today, Yemen has had its sovereignty shattered by U.S. military interventions, both covert and overt. So, Mr. Obama, don't play the innocent as you commit war crimes against Yemen.

One day, Obama, Bush, and a parade of Israeli leaders will go on trial for their destruction of the Middle East. Maybe then, we will have a chance to breath freely, and to enjoy real democracy without U.S. and Israeli bombs falling on our heads.

Mr. Obama, as for your bogus gesture in support of "those who seek their universal rights" in Iran: I will have you know that Iranians are well aware that U.S. policy has consistently been to crush all democratic movements in Iran by outright coup d'état, and by fueling genocidal wars.

It is no secret that in 1953 the CIA overthrew the government of the democratically elected Prime Minister, Dr. Mosaddeq. Mosaddeq had angered the British by nationalizing Iranian Oil. What ensued was 29 years of torture for Iranians at the hands of the Shah, who terrorized the people with an Israeli-trained secret police, the infamous SAVAK. After a brief period of feeling triumphant (as the 1979 revolution seemed to have won), Iran was hit again by the U.S. fueled war with Iraq, which lasted for 8 years, crippling civil society in both Iran and Iraq. The eight-year-war left the two nations battered and shattered.

Iranians suffer, to this day, from 30 years of U.S.-imposed sanctions that have taken a serious toll on education, public health and communications in Iran. Iranian airplanes frequently crash for lack of parts that are denied Iran under U.S. sanctions. Two years ago, I spent 8 hours in a local Iranian airport waiting for a 1 hour flight. Constant threats of bombing by the U.S. and Israel have also been inflicting psychological damage on all, especially on children in Iran. I recall a conversation I had with a close relative last year, who told me how her nine-year-old daughter cannot sleep because she is afraid of U.S. /Israeli nuclear attack.

Mr. Obama, your slogan of a "change you can believe in" is simply an insult to millions of people's intelligence—people who suffer in the hands of your military occupations and bombings across the Middle East.

The opposition of the American public to perpetual wars is apparent. Indeed, Americans put you, Mr. Obama, in the White House to end these wars. Sadly, Obama, like others before him, has betrayed this public. The American public feels helpless and impotent in the political arena that has been created by Democrats and Republicans alike. The American public have been made to associate political discourse with dishonesty and greed. Some argue that they suffer not only from economic depression, but also from a psychological state of feeling weak and powerless in what they think of as a democracy.

But let us remember the potent and effective American Civil Rights Movement that achieved the impossible. Remember The Civil Rights Movement that utilized mass protests to embarrass the U.S. government in front of the whole world. Let us also remember the anti-war movement that helped end the war in Vietnam and saved Asia from being totally torched by the U.S. military.

If only U.S. streets were filled with anti-war protestors again, we would witness a quick change of heart in U.S. Middle East policy and an end to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If anti-war protesters fill the streets of America, further attacks, on defenseless countries like Yemen, will be no more.

See the power of today's Iranian green generation on the streets of their beloved Iran. See how the brutal security forces surrender to young Iranians who are demonstrating for democratic institutions free of corruption and greed. See the Iranian people's courage and determination to make this a better world for all.

Americans have achieved similar triumphs by public protests. Let us do it again. Mass public protest, against perpetual war, is our only chance to save ourselves.

Boycott Israel: hands off Iran

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Is the Detroit Nigerian "Terrorist" A Patsy?

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The bumbling Nigerian “terrorist” who set his lap on fire on board an airliner in Detroit Christmas day will provide days or weeks of conveniently hysterical headlines, along with excuses to target West Africa and Yemen for extra special attention from the American military, and the usual host of justifications for existing US policies in what used to be called 'the war on terror'. But the similarities between his case, and that of incompetent “terrorists” in Fort Dix New Jersey, in Miami's Liberty City and elsewhere raise serious questions about the whole incident.

If you cannot see the video above, click here.

Is the Detroit Nigerian "Terrorist" Another Patsy?

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

What does the hapless Nigerian mope yanked off a plane in Detroit Christmas Day for setting his lap on fire have in common with color-coded terror alerts, with the shoeless, homeless Miami Haitians convicted of trying to bring down the Sears Tower, or with the 2004 pre-election videos allegedly dropped by Osama Bin Laden? Easy. All have been useful in whipping up public fear of Muslim-inspired “terrorism” and each and every one plugs neatly and sweetly into the meta-narratives that justify increasing the power of US police and intelligence establishments and the further militarization of foreign policy.

The guy is said to be an engineering student from Nigeria who received terrorist training in Yemen. Engineers are the practical souls whose profession is making things that actually work. Fortunately for the people on the plane, he seems to have been a very bad student who would have made a wretched engineer. He didn't know the difference between an explosive device, which might have done great harm to the plane and its passengers, and a small incendiary one which could do no more than set his own lap on fire, and maybe singe the hair of the passenger immediately next to him.

His Nigerian nationality is extremely useful, as it lets “terror experts” and talking heads on TV and radio to draw simplistic and misleading pictures for American audiences of Nigeria as a place besieged by Muslim fundamentalists linked with Al Qaeda and in need of more US military assistance. In the real world Nigeria is a major US oil supplier, and West Africa furnishes about a fifth of US oil imports, a portion expected to grow over the next decade. Nigeria has pumped trillions of dollars worth of oil for the West over the last fifty years without managing to give people in the oil-rich areas schools or electricity or hospitals. It has allowed foreign oil companies to make the region one of the most polluted in the world, where the rain eats metal roofs, health problems are endemic, and fishing and farming are nearly impossible.

After decades of violent suppression by successive military and civilian governments, Nigerians in the oil-rich regions have organized resistance movements which have sometimes posed direct threats to the operations of Western oil companies. For US military planners, inserting themselves into Nigeria to bolster the regime is a major priority. That's what AFRICOM is for.

The Nigerian reportedly received his “terror training” in Yemen. Yemen is located at the southern end of the Arabian Penninsula directly opposite AFRICOM's Djibouti base and close to Somalia, where the US has waged a 14 year series of interventions and proxy wars to secure Somalia's oil and gas resources for the West, an project that has killed a million Somalis, and currently has made another million homeless.

Yemen, as veteran journalist Patrick Cockburn assures us in an indispensable December 29 Counterpunch article, is next in the US crosshairs.

It is the poorest Arab country, its government is weak, its people are armed, it already faces a serious rebellion, it is strongly tribal and its mountain ranges are a natural refuge for groups like al-Qa'ida...

Yemen has been becoming increasingly unstable over the past two decades, ever since Saudi Arabia expelled a million Yemeni workers because Yemen refused to support the US-led war to expel Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait in 1990.”

There is, Cockburn explains in the article which is well worth reading in its entirety, a civil war going on in Yemen, and the US needs excuses to beef up its intervention. Conveniently then, most terror suspects apprehended in the US will be found to have ties to the Yemeni insurgents.

Although the bumbling Nigerian had a multiple-entry US visa, he reportedly managed to board the Detroit-bound plane without showing it or his passport. Someone better dressed and better spoken intervened and got him on, according to published reports. Who? How? Why? He paid for his one-way ticket in Ghana in cash, and packed no more than a knapsack. People are profiled and searched for doing this all the time, all over the world, but he was not. And of course there's the matter of the incendiary device itself, which should have been easily detectable. It's not like they don't screen passengers at European airports boarding international flights. Why was he exempt from the normal search that passengers undergo, and if he was searched why did the normal procedures fail?

One possible answer to all these questions is that the guy is a patsy, a fool manipulated by people smarter and more resourceful than him for the purpose of creating the useful “terrorist” incident. That's what happened to the Haitians in Miami. They were disaffected and homeless, living in a Liberty City warehouse. They were contacted by a federal agent who said he could get weapons and explosives, shoes for the shoeless, rental cars (none of them had a bank account, let alone a credit card) and put them in touch with Al Qaeda. The federal agent helped them send fan mail to Osama Bin Laden and led them in taking a made-up jihadi oath, and delivered them fake weapons so they could be arrested. Journalist Webster Tarpley, in an early December Guns and Butter Radio interview (audio below – click the flash player or go to )

with Bonnie Faulkner lays out a series of similar incidents in which apparent patsies have been used to create incidents like this. Although the interview was three weeks before the Christmas day incident, the similarities between the Liberty City case, the so-called Fort Dix 6, and other cases are numerous and startling.

Journalist I.F. Stone told us half a century ago that “Governments lie. All governments lie.” It would not be the first time our government lied to get us into or to keep us involved in an unjust war, or to create an atmosphere of crisis to support some otherwise unsupportable policy. It wouldn't even be the fifty-first time. If Stone were alive today he'd assure us that the Obama government will readily lie to us too, in the service of its policy objectives, and probably in better English than Bush ever could. Is the incompetent Nigerian “terrorist” a patsy, intended to generate hysterical headlines and reinforce the administration's policies at home and abroad? Time will tell. Maybe.

Bruce Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, based in Atlanta. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)

The New York Crimes: All The Lies That Fit to Print

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."
- Albert Einstein

"The age of military attacks is over, now we've reached the time for dialogue and understanding. Weapons and threats are a thing of the past…even for mentally challenged people."
- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 11/23/2009

The American political, academic, and media establishment has long been beating the drums of war with Iran and, as the author of New York Times' latest OpEd encouraging the US bombing of that country, University of Texas professor Alan J. Kuperman has now emerged as the Keith Moon of sensational jingoism and, considering his concept of reality, morality, and legality, is probably twice as crazy.

Mr. Kuperman, in a piece published on December 23rd and titled "There’s Only One Way to Stop Iran", stridently advocates for an immediate, unilateral, unprovoked and devastating aerial assault on Iran's nuclear facilities. He writes,

"Since peaceful carrots and sticks cannot work [with Iran], and an invasion would be foolhardy, the United States faces a stark choice: military air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities or acquiescence to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons."

Apparently, Mr. Kuperman's "one way" is a premeditated act of war, a preemptive attack on a sovereign nation that has not threatened nor invaded any country in over two and half centuries. The "stark" choices that Mr. Kuperman proposes do not include the obvious legal answer: for US policy to abide by international law and ratified treaties guaranteeing the right of Iran to a peaceful nuclear energy program and therefore cease threatening Iran with homicidal military action.

Though Mr. Kuperman claims to believe that "negotiation to prevent nuclear proliferation is always preferable to military action," he immediately turns around to state, "We have reached the point where air strikes are the only plausible option with any prospect of preventing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons." He concludes with the dire warning that "Postponing military action merely provides Iran a window to expand, disperse and harden its nuclear facilities against attack. The sooner the United States takes action, the better."

Mr. Kuperman even believes that "Iran's atomic sites might need to be bombed more than once to persuade Tehran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons." His suggestions not only defy all basic logic and reason, but, more perversely, demonstrate his utter contempt for global jurisprudence, basic facts, and human life.

Despite being a highly educated scholar, Mr. Kuperman, who has a Ph.D. in political science from MIT, reveals a stunning lack of historical knowledge, a general disinterest in providing any sort of supporting evidence or documentation for his baffling assumptions, and a bewildering inability to discern truth from propaganda, all of which, unfortunately, inform his outrageous conclusions. In fact, there are so many unsubstantiated claims and outright lies packed into the relatively short article, it's an absolute wonder that The New York Times chose to print it. Has the Grey Lady laid off all its fact-checkers?

Then again, it should probably come as no surprise that the "newspaper of record" has no qualms about printing fiction masked as truth, as seen with the relentless build-up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq just seven years ago.

First of all, Kuperman's constant mischaracterizations of Iran's wholly legal energy program as an illicit, covert effort to build a nuclear bomb stands in stark contrast to all available information provided and accepted by both the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors Iran's nuclear program, and the intelligence community of the United States, which spies on Iran's nuclear program. The IAEA has repeatedly found, through intensive, round-the-clock monitoring and inspection of Iran's nuclear facilities – including numerous surprise visits to Iranian enrichment plants – that all of Iran's centrifuges operate under IAEA safeguards and "continue to be operated as declared."

In an IAEA report from as far back as November 2003, the agency states that "to date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities referred to above were related to a nuclear weapons programme." Then, after extensive inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities, the IAEA again concluded in its November 2004 report that "all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities."

In May 2008, the IAEA reported that it had found "no indication" that Iran has or ever did have a nuclear weapons program and affirmed that "The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material [to weaponization] in Iran." Earlier this year, IAEA spokesperson Melissa Fleming even issued a statement clarifying the IAEA's position regarding the flurry of deliberately misleading articles in the US and European press claiming that Iran had enriched enough uranium "to build a nuclear bomb." The statement, among other things, declared that "No nuclear material could have been removed from the [Nantanz] facility without the Agency's knowledge since the facility is subject to video surveillance and the nuclear material has been kept under seal."

This assessment was reaffirmed as recently as September 2009, in response to various media reports over the past few years claiming that Iran's intent to build a nuclear bomb can be proven by information provided from a mysterious stolen laptop and a dubious, undated – and most likely forgedtwo-page document. The IAEA stated, "With respect to a recent media report, the IAEA reiterates that it has no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapon programme in Iran."

Both the out-going and in-coming Director-Generals of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei and Yukiya Amano, respectively, have stated that there is absolutely no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Even the United States' National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which aggregates classified information from 16 American intelligence and security agencies, concluded in a formal evaluation of Iran's "Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities" in November 2007 that Iran had no active nuclear weapons program. A recent Newsweek report, from September 16, 2009, indicates that, despite what is constantly repeated by administration officials and warmongers like Mr. Kuperman, the NIE stands by its 2007 assessment and that "U.S. intelligence agencies have informed policymakers at the White House and other agencies that the status of Iranian work on development and production of a nuclear bomb has not changed."

Jeremy R. Hammond of Foreign Policy Journal accurately points out the "important difference between the U.S. intelligence community’s and the IAEA’s assessments," continuing, "According to the 2007 NIE, Iran had a nuclear weapons program until 2003. According to the IAEA – the international nuclear watchdog agency actively monitoring Iran’s program and conducting inspections in the country – there is no proof Iran ever had a nuclear weapons program."

Nevertheless, in a mere 1492 words, Mr. Kuperman refers to, what he terms, Iran's "bomb program" eight times and makes ten additional references to Iran's so-called pursuit of a nuclear weapon arsenal, nuclear weapons techniques, weapons-grade enrichment, and weapons trafficking. One can only assume, then, that he has information that neither the IAEA inspectors nor the United States government has yet to uncover and examine.

Perhaps, devoid of any actual evidence, Kuperman simply takes as a matter of faith that the Iranian government is intent on and committed to acquiring nuclear weapons. Maybe he's just worried about supposed apocalyptic ideologies of modern governments which blend theocracy and republicanism and agrees with war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu, who warned during his September 24 speech at the UN, in what may have been the single most ironic and self-unaware statement since "Let them eat cake", that "the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction." This amazing statement came from the designated (not elected) Prime Minister of a self-described "Jewish State" which currently has upwards of 400 nuclear warheads yet has never signed the NPT and is therefore not subject to inspection and monitoring.

But if faith really is a consideration, due to the fact that Iran is a deeply religious society and a constitutionally mandated Islamic Republic, perhaps Mr. Kuperman should be aware that, on August 10, 2005, Iranian nuclear negotiator Sirus Naseri informed an emergency meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors that a religious decree unconditionally prohibiting the acquisition of nuclear weapons was in effect. He stated,

"The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the fatwa that the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who took office just recently, in his inaugural address reiterated that his government is against weapons of mass destruction and will only pursue nuclear activities in the peaceful domain.

The leadership of Iran has pledged at the highest level that Iran will remain a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT and has placed the entire scope of its nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards and Additional Protocol, in addition to undertaking voluntary transparency measures with the agency that have even gone beyond the requirements of the agency's safeguard system."

Furthermore, Congressional foreign policy advisor Gregory Aftandilian, speaking at a Center for National Policy event titled “A Nuclear Middle East” in October 2008, stated rationally that Iran is "not stupid" and "has a long history, thousands of years, of statecraft…Tehran is not suicidal."

Even more to the point, the government and military of Iran has a strict "no first strike" policy, something that countries like the United States and Israel obviously don't have. Iranian government and military officials have long stated that they will act in self-defense only if their country is attacked and have never issued threats about initiating aggression against another nation. As General Hoseyn Salami, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Air Force, remarked on an Iranian news program on September 28, 2009, "As long as our enemies act within a political domain, our behavior will be completely political. However, if they want to leave the domain of political action and enter the domain of military threat, then our action will be exactly and completely military."

Whereas Iran operates legally with defensive consideration for its own security in the face of constant bellicose rhetoric and aggressive posturing from both Washington and Tel Aviv, Mr. Kuperman's advice to the US government directly contravenes international law. In fact, even the threat of attack is prohibited by the Charter of the United Nations, which states, "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations." (Article 2, paragraph 4)

In July 1946, Robert Jackson, the chief US prosecutor at Nuremburg after World War II, stated in his Closing Argument of the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal that of all Nazi war crimes, including invasion, occupation, mass displacement, concentration and extermination camps, ethnic cleansing, and genocide, "the central crime in this pattern of crimes, the kingpin which holds them all together, is the plot for aggressive wars."

When the judgment of the IMT was delivered a few months later, it maintained that "To initiate a war of aggression…is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

The Nuremburg judgment had a profound influence on subsequent international law; its findings and conclusions served as the framework for UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948), The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), The Geneva Convention on the Laws and Customs of War (1949) and its additional protocols (1977), The Nuremberg Principles (1950), The Convention on the Abolition of the Statute of Limitations on War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity (1968), and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998).

Considering Mr. Kuperman has a Masters degree in international relations and international economics from the Bologna-based Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, one might assume he would have a strong grasp on these governing principles of international law. Alas, as his policy suggestions seem based upon myriad misunderstandings of simple information and are tantamount to the supreme war crime of aggression, it appears that his higher education is not the only thing about Kuperman that's bologna based.

Kuperman begins his OpEd by declaring that the recent draft agreement proposed by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (all of them nuclear weapons states) and Germany (which engages in "nuclear sharing" with the United States, widely seen as a major breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty itself) was defective from the outset and would have aided Iran on, as Kuperman would have us believe, its nefarious quest to build nuclear bombs. He claims that the proposal, which called for roughly 70% of Iran's accumulated low-enriched uranium to be sent to Russia and France for further processing before it was returned (sometime in the future) for use in a medical reactor core in Tehran, would have "rewarded [Iran] with much-coveted reactor fuel despite violating international law" and "fostered proliferation" because "the vast surplus of higher-enriched fuel Iran was to get under the deal would have permitted some to be diverted to its bomb program."

The Western proposal was met with considerable and understandable skepticism from all segments of Iranian establishment who see the offer as being a way to permanently stop Iran's enrichment capabilities, which are legally guaranteed by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran has been a signatory for over 40 years. Iran's Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani warned on October 24 that "Westerners are insisting to go in a direction that suggests cheating." Iran's head-of-state Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking on November 4, also cautioned against the deal, stating, "When we carefully look at the situation, we notice that [the United States and its allies] are hiding a dagger behind their back."

Even Mir Hossein Mousavi, presidential challenger and leader of the current opposition movement, criticized the proposal in late October when he declared, "If the promises given [to the West] are realized, then the hard work of thousands of scientists would be ruined." Mehdi Karroubi, another opposition leader and presidential hopeful, accused Ahmadinejad's administration of abandoning national interests by negotiating with the IAEA.

Nevertheless, Time reported that "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted on October 29 that 'conditions have been prepared for international cooperation in the nuclear field' and his administration is 'ready to cooperate.'" Furthermore, Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, Armed Forces chief of staff General Hassan Firouzabadi, and Iran's representative to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh all expressed a desire to use diplomatic efforts to find a reasonable and suitable solution to the current standoff.

In early December, Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki stated that Iran was "willing to exchange most of its uranium for processed nuclear fuel from abroad" in a phased transfer of material with full guarantees that the West "will not backtrack an exchange deal." Mr. Mottaki proposed that Iran would agree to initially hand over 25% of its uranium in a simultaneous exchange for an equivalent amount of enriched material in order to fuel the medical research reactor. The remainder of the uranium would be traded over "several years."

In response, The New York Times reported that this proposed timetable was immediately rejected by Western powers. The US government-sponsored Voice of America quoted an unidentified senior US official as claiming that the Iranian counter-proposal inconsistent with the "fair and balanced" draft agreement. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has previously threatened to "totally obliterate" Iran, urged Iran to "accept the agreement as proposed because we are not altering it."

Apparently, the US government is unaware of what a "draft agreement" is. By definition, it is a proposal – a "draft" – not a final, binding accord. It is a primary piece of negotiation that can and should be revised by all parties until a mutually beneficial agreement is reached. The West appears to only accept its own offers and dismisses any other suggestions. This is not diplomacy, this is no "outstretched hand." This is, quite simply, an illegal and imperial ultimatum dictated to the sovereign nation of Iran by historically aggressive, colonial powers.

As The New York Times reported,

"Mr. Mottaki also suggested that the Western news media had helped torpedo the October agreement by framing it in hostile terms that confirmed Iran’s fears of losing its nuclear supplies.

'We said we are in agreement on the principles of the proposal, but suddenly the Western media announced that 1,200 kilograms of uranium would be leaving Iran to delay the construction of a nuclear bomb,' Mr. Mottaki said, according to Iran’s semiofficial Mehr news agency. 'Is this the answer to Iran’s confidence-building?

Still, Mr. Kuperman mischaracterizes Iran's supposed acceptance-then-rejection of the absurd Western proposition. "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad initially embraced the deal because he realized it aided Iran's bomb program," he writes, and then claims that "under such domestic pressure, Mr. Ahmadinejad reneged."

Mr. Kuperman declares that "Tehran’s rejection of the deal was likewise propelled by domestic politics – including last June's fraudulent elections and longstanding fears of Western manipulation." Not only does this statement simply assume that the reelection of President Ahmadinejad was stolen and illegitimate (a tired narrative devoid of any substantiated evidence), he dismisses foreign involvement – namely that of the US – in Iranian affairs by employing the word "fears" rather than "facts."

Perhaps Mr. Kuperman is unaware that in 2007, ABC News reported that George W. Bush had signed a secret "Presidential finding" authorizing the CIA to "mount a covert 'black' operation to destabilize the Iranian government." These operations, according to current and former intelligence officials, included "a coordinated campaign of propaganda broadcasts, placement of negative newspaper articles, and the manipulation of Iran's currency and international banking transactions." The Sunday Telegraph corroborated this information when it stated, "Mr. Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilize, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs."

It is also well-known that, a year later, the Bush administration was granted $400 million with which to further destabilize Iran via, as the Washington Post reported at the time "activities ranging from spying on Iran’s nuclear program to supporting rebel groups opposed to the country’s ruling clerics…" The rebel groups supported by such funding and training include, according to both Counterpunch's Andrew Cockburn and the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh, the militant Sunni group Jundullah, or "army of god," and the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK or PMOI), which maintains an "enduring position on the State Department's list of terrorist groups."

Although Washington officially denies involvement, the Sunday Telegraph reports that funding for Jundallah's "separatist causes comes directly from the CIA's classified budget but is now 'no great secret', according to one former high-ranking CIA official," whose claims were confirmed by former US State Department counter-terrorism agent Fred Barton, who said that Jundallah's terrorist activities "inside Iran fall in line with US efforts to supply and train Iran's ethnic minorities to destabilise the Iranian regime." Among the bombings and violent attacks for which Jundallah has claimed responsibility are the killings of nine Iranian security guards in 2005, another 11 in a 2007 bombing, at least 16 Iranian police officers in a 2008 attack, and, most recently, the deadly bombing of a security gathering in southeast Iran on October 18, 2009 which killed 35 people including several top regional security officials and provincial commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

Further, ABC News has reported that, according to Pakistani and U.S. intelligence officials, Jundallah is "responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran" and "has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005." The report continued,

"U.S. relationship with Jundullah is arranged so that the U.S. provides no funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order or "finding" as well as congressional oversight. The money for Jundullah was funneled to its leader, Abdelmalek Rigi, through Iranian exiles who have connections with European and Gulf states."

These connected Iranian exiles are members of the MEK, the Iranian opposition network that, in 1981, assassinated about 70 high ranking Iranian officials including cabinet members, elected parliamentarians, and the new Chief Justice when it bombed state headquarters. After the Iranian Revolution, the group moved its headquarters to Iraq and was supported by Saddam Hussein during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War that claimed the lives of over a million people. The MEK also claims responsibility for informing the United States and its allies about Iran's supposed nuclear weapons program, for which no verifiable evidence has ever been found.

On December 15, 2009, Texas Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee addressed Congress regarding that fate of MEK exiles currently living in Camp Ashraf in Iraq. The Congresswoman pleaded for the Obama administration to "save" the "Iranian dissidents [who] are now huddled [at Camp Ashraf], fearful for their lives." She claimed that the Iraqi government, which is now tasked with guarding the camp after US forces recently handed over control, had put the exiles "at risk of arbitrary arrest, torture or other forms of ill treatment and unlawful killing," and described the MEK – which, again, is designated as a terrorist group by the US State Department – as "dissidents who simply want to live in peace and alone." Apparently, Ms. Jackson-Lee saw nothing wrong with begging the United States to support terrorists, as long as those terrorists have the goal of toppling the Iranian government.

Plus, just last week, Iranian Intelligence Ministry announced that a number of MEK members have been arrested for violent activity and destruction of public and private property at recent anti-government protests in Tehran.

American involvement, both overt and covert, in Iranian affairs is beyond doubt, thereby making Mr. Kuperman's blow-off of Iran's "fears of Western manipulation" completely absurd.

In a June 24, 2009 interview on Al Jazeera reporter Josh Rushing asked former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft if the US has "intelligence operatives on the ground in Iran," to which Scowcroft simply replies, "Of course we do."

The very next day, USA Today reported that "the Obama administration is moving forward with plans to fund groups that support Iranian dissidents" via the US Agency for International Development (USAID) program which has long been known as a cover for the US government to fund regime change operations in various parts of the world.

A few days later, during a June 28 CNN interview with Robert Baer, Fareed Zakaria asked the retired 21 year CIA veteran and former Middle East undercover operative, "Isn’t it true that we do [try to destabilize the regime]? Don’t we fund various groups inside and outside Iran that do try to destabilize the government?" Baer answered, "Oh absolutely," adding, "There is a covert action program against Iran where the [U.S.] military is running; a covert action against Iran from Iraq and Afghanistan."

One month later, on July 26, Mr. Zakaria interviewed Seyyed Mohammad Marandi, a North America studies professor and political analyst at the University of Tehran. Mr. Marandi revealed that "Right now you have almost 40 television channels in Persian being broadcast into Iran from the United States and Europe – basically funded by the American government and European governments, or in some cases owned – which have played a very negative role over the past few weeks, turning people against one another… in many cases, they call for riots, and they call for violence." Mr. Zakaria, for unknown reasons, took it upon himself to deny these widely-accepted and well-evidenced allegations.

The veracity of such claims was confirmed a couple of weeks later, on August 9, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared "Now, behind the scenes, we were doing a lot," Clinton said. "We were doing a lot to really empower the protesters without getting in the way. And we're continuing to speak out and support the opposition."

Even John Limbert, embassy hostage turned Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Near East at the US State Department, chimed in during a December 10, 2009 interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. He stated that the United States government "will not sit silently" and "will not ignore what happens on the streets of Tehran," continuing that, "we believe, as we have always believed, that the Iranian people deserve decent treatment from their government."

This is a truly amazing thing for a US official to say, especially one who worked in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution thirty years ago. At that time, the United States government supported, both vocally and materially, the brutal dictatorship of the Shah of Iran, referred to as "an island of stability" by President Carter in 1977. Under the Shah's tyrannical rule, a Time article from January 7, 1980, tells us, "Dissent was ruthlessly suppressed, in part by the use of torture in the dungeons of SAVAK, the [US and Israeli-trained] secret police."

Furthermore, the Time article continues,

"The depth of its commitment to the Shah apparently blinded Washington to the growing discontent. U.S. policymakers wanted to believe that their investment was buying stability and friendship; they trusted what they heard from the monarch, who dismissed all opposition as 'the blah-blahs of armchair critics.' Even after the revolution began, U.S. officials were convinced that 'there is no alternative to the Shah.' Carter took time out from the Camp David summit in September 1978 to phone the Iranian monarch and assure him of Washington's continued support." [emphasis mine]

Limbert, of all people, should know better than to claim that the US government cares about the rights and desires of the Iranian people. What it really cares about, and has always cared about, is fueling protests of anti-imperial governments and bolstering opposition to administrations that repel American hegemony, hubris, and dominance.

It may also be interesting to note that, whereas the US Department of Defense considers "protests" to be a type of "low-level terrorist activity," according to one of its 2009 training manuals, State Department official Limbert takes great pride in saluting the "brave people of Iran…who are going out on the street and demonstrating." One wonders if he also salutes anti-war protesters here in the United States.

But this is all just the tip of Mr. Kuperman's iceberg of deliberate disinformation.

Insisting multiple times during his piece that Iran is "violating international law" by not responding to UN Security Council resolutions calling for an immediate halt to its enrichment program, Mr. Kuperman again demonstrates his own lack of awareness of the fundamental principles of jus cogens, or peremptory norm, as it applies to the authority of UNSC resolutions and the NPT agreement. Again, this is surprising due to Mr. Kuperman's current role as director of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program at the University of Texas at Austin and his former stint as Senior Policy Analyst for the nongovernmental Nuclear Control Institute.

Mr. Kuperman might want to review the tenets of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty first. Article IV of the treaty states:

1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop, research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty [which prohibit the transfer or acquisition of nuclear weapons].

2. All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also co-operate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world. [emphasis mine]

As neither the IAEA nor the US intelligence community has found any evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, Iran not only has the legal right to develop and produce peaceful nuclear energy on its own soil, but it has the inalienable right to do so, under the terms of the NPT. Under these terms, no one and nothing – government, agency, council, resolution, draft agreement – can infringe upon Iran's right to operate power plants and enrich uranium for a civilian nuclear program.

Therefore, any resolutions calling for Iran's inalienable right to be relinquished are, in and of themselves, wholly illegal. Paranoid suspicions, demonizing propaganda, and allegations without evidence are totally insufficient to demonstrate any violations of the NPT by the Iran government.

Cyrus Safardi of IranAffairs, in addition to supplying supporting documentation from the UN's own International Law Commission and the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, explains,"

Article 103 of the UN Charter says that UNSC resolutions trump obligations under international treaties such as the NPT. However, Article 103 does not apply to sovereign rights and jus cogens. It is a general and well-recognized principle of international law that UNSC resolutions that are contrary to jus cogens are ultra vires and NOT binding."

With this in mind, it is clear that all UNSC resolutions that "demand" Iran suspend enrichment and close its intrusively monitored and meticulously inspected nuclear facilities – UNSC resolutions 1696 (2006), 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), and 1803 (2008) – are contradictory, illegal and consequently non-binding.

Furthermore, Safardi writes that "Iran's safeguard agreement with the IAEA, and the IAEA statutes, only permit a referral to the UNSC when there has been a diversion of fissile material for non-peaceful use." Since the IAEA had previously confirmed that there had been no such diversion and without any evidence of a nuclear weapons program, its referral of the Iranian nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council was, as CASMII founder Abbas Edalat points out, "politically motivated and illegitimate." Edalat continues,

"On February 15th [2007], Stephen Rademaker, the former US Assistant Secretary for International Security and Non-proliferation confessed that the two crucial votes by India against Iran in the Governors’ Board of the IAEA which led to Iran’s referral to the Security Council were indeed the result of US coercion. Incidentally India, like the other US allies Pakistan and Israel, is not a signatory to the NPT and has developed nuclear bombs which is tolerated and supported by the US.

Because the IAEA's referral of Iran's file to the UNSC was unwarranted and because the UNSC resolutions are themselves illegal, Iran has no reason to abide by them and is therefore under no obligation to halt its nuclear program, as Mr. Kuperman keeps insisting.

In fact, the United States is currently in violation of the NPT itself, insofar as "the US has refused to negotiate for complete disarmament and verification per treaty terms and actively plans to use nuclear weapons, including first-strike use against 'enemies' who may only become threats in the future," according to Carl Herman of the Examiner.

Even though Mr. Kuperman deems violations of international law cause enough to justify military campaigns, he doesn't seem to mind Israel's constant trespasses and consistent ignoring of numerous Security Council resolutions since 1967.

Continuing, Mr. Kuperman declares that "while Iran permits international inspections at its declared enrichment plant at Natanz, it ignores United Nations demands that it close the plant, where it gains the expertise needed to produce weapons-grade uranium at other secret facilities like the nascent one recently uncovered near Qom."

Isn't everything "secret" until it's announced? What Mr. Kuperman probably knows, but refuses to say since it would weaken his argument for illegally bombing another country and willfully murdering innocent people, is that the new Fordo nuclear facility was actually announced to the IAEA by Iran itself, in advance of the panicky press conference held on September 25 by President Obama, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain and French President Nicholas Sarkozy. "I can confirm that on 21 September, Iran informed the IAEA in a letter that a new pilot fuel enrichment plant is under construction in the country," IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire said.

Under its current safeguards agreement with the Agency, Iran is not obligated to inform the IAEA of any new facilities until six months before the introduction of nuclear material to the site. Since the Fordo enrichment plant is not yet operational, and won't be for another 18 months, Iran has broken no rules. In fact, the site was announced a full year before it needed to be. As Ali-Akbar Salehi, Iran's nuclear chief, remarked, "This installation is not a secret one, which is why we announced its existence to the IAEA."

Ahmadinejad even pointed out that the agreements and guidelines between Iran and the IAEA do not require approval by the United States. "We have no secrecy, we work within the framework of the IAEA," he said. "This does not mean we must inform Mr Obama’s Administration of every facility that we have."

That Mr. Kuperman would claim the Fordo site near Qom was "secret" is unsurprising, considering the same constant refrain in media outlets like the New York Times. What is interesting is his allegation that the facility allows Iran to acquire knowledge about producing nuclear weapons is especially bizarre considering that, after inspectors surveyed the new plant, IAEA Director-General ElBaradei declared that the agency's monitors found "nothing to be worried about," continuing, "It's a hole in a mountain."

"The idea was to use it as a bunker under the mountain to protect things," ElBaradei said. Due to the constant threats by the US and Israel to bomb Iran, especially by arm-chair warriors like Mr. Kuperman, it should come as no surprise that the Iranian government might be interested in defending their scientific facilities and technological progress from such attacks. In fact, not doing so would be irresponsible.

Without providing even a shred of evidence, Mr. Kuperman states that "Iran supplies Islamist terrorist groups in violation of international embargoes." He is obviously referring to Hamas and Hezbollah, two democratically-elected resistance groups, which are consistently demonized in the Western press for being opposed to Israeli settler-colonialism, illegal and oppressive occupation, and American military imperialism. What is left out, of course, is that the US-supported Israeli siege of Gaza is itself "illegal" and displays "profound inhumanity," according to John Ging, Gaza's director of operations for the refugee agency UNRWA. Furthermore, according to the Policy Declaration of the new Government of the Republic of Lebanon, issued on November 26, 2009,

“It is the right of the Lebanese people, Army and the [Hezbollah led-]Resistance to liberate the Shebaa Farms, the Kfar Shuba Hills and the northern part of the village of Ghajar as well as to defend Lebanon and its territorial waters in the face of any enemy by all available and legal means.”

As a result, Lebanon expert Franklin Lamb explains, "Legally, constitutionally, and politically, Lebanon’s new National Unity Government policy legitimizes, embraces, and incorporates by reference, according to some Pentagon and State Department analysts, the National Lebanese Resistance," and affirms that Hezbollah and the State of Lebanon are "inseparable and indivisible with respect to defending this country from foreign interference and occupation. It affixes the Governmental imprimatur for liberating Lebanese lands still occupied by Israeli forces." Lamb continues,

"According to some international lawyers, it also fulfills UN Security Council Resolution 1559 regarding disarming militias because Lebanon has in effect declared that the arms of the Hezbollah led Resistance are part of the defense of Lebanon itself and not a particular movement or political party. This Policy statement satisfies UNSCR 1701 for the same reason."

Mr. Kuperman also does not address how American funding of the Israeli occupation and military support for its frequent invasions, massacres, and war crimes violate numerous US statutes including the Arms Export Control Act (P.L.80-829) which states that exported weaponry must be relegated to "internal security” and “legitimate self-defense” only, the Foreign Assistance Act (P.L.97-195) which holds that “No assistance may be provided…to the government of any country which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights,” and the Foreign Ops Appropriations Act's "Leahy Law" which demands that no aid be provided to "any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such unit has committed gross violations of human rights." One look at the UN Goldstone Report proves that the United States has consistently violated its own legislation with regard to Israel, as well as numerous international laws. For example, the US is violating the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which the US claims it will not fulfill until 2023, even though the convention requires the elimination of these weapons by 2012 (already an extension from 2007). Also, Obama has rejected inspection protocol for US biological weapons despite his stated dedication to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and has refused to ratify the international antipersonnel landmine ban, despite being lauded by the Nobel Peace Prize committee for his commitment to "disarmament and arms control negotiations."

In his New York Times piece, Mr. Kuperman warns that "If Iran acquired a nuclear arsenal, the risks would simply be too great that it could become a neighborhood bully." Clearly, the argument assumes, only the United States and Israel should be allowed to bully Middle Eastern countries with their own nuclear arsenals, invasions, occupations, and international impunity.

He then goes on to state that "history suggests that military strikes could work," claiming that "Israel's 1981 attack on the nearly finished Osirak reactor prevented Iraq's rapid acquisition of a plutonium-based nuclear weapon and compelled it to pursue a more gradual, uranium-based bomb program."

This is a dubious conclusion to draw based on the fact that the Iraqi nuclear program before 1981 was peaceful, under intensive safeguards and monitoring, and that the Osirak reactor was, as Harvard physics professor Richard Wilson has explained, "explicitly designed by the French engineer Yves Girard to be unsuitable for making bombs. That was obvious to me on my 1982 visit."

What Mr. Kuperman also omits is that the Israeli attack, code named Operation Opera, took the lives of ten Iraqi soldiers and one French civilian researcher and was widely lambasted by the international community, prompting a UN General Assembly resolution (36/27) on November 13, 1981 that "strongly condemn[ed] Israel for its premeditated and unprecedented act of aggression in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct, which constitutes a new and dangerous escalation of the threat to international peace and security."

The resolution also reaffirmed Iraq's "inalienable sovereign right" to "develop technological and nuclear programmes for peaceful purposes" and stated that, not only was Iraq a party to the NPT, but had also "satisfactorily applied" the IAEA safeguards required of it. Conversely, it noted "with concern" that "Israel has refused to adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and, in spite of repeated calls, including that of the Security Council, to place its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards."

In addition to condemning "the misuse by Israel, in committing its acts of aggression against Arab countries, of aircraft and weapons supplied by the United States of America," the resolution reiterated "its call to all States to cease forthwith any provision to Israel of arms and related material of all types which enable it to commit acts of aggression against other States" and requested "the Security Council to investigate Israel's nuclear activities and the collaboration of other States and parties in those activities" and "institute effective enforcement action to prevent Israel from further endangering international peace and security through its acts of aggression and continued policies of expansion, occupation and annexation."

Furthermore, the General Assembly demanded that "Israel, in view of its international responsibility for its act of aggression, pay prompt and adequate compensation for the material damage and loss of life suffered" due to the illegal and lethal attack.

For Mr. Kuperman, this constituted a successful mission (which, considering that none of the UN's demands have ever been met over the past 30 years, perhaps it was). Truth be told, this is an unsurprising conclusion for someone who claims that "the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that the United States military can oust regimes in weeks if it wants to." Perhaps Mr. Kuperman doesn't get out much.

That might explain why Mr. Kuperman also claims that "Iran could retaliate [in response to a US air strike] by aiding America’s opponents in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it does that anyway," without any evidence to back up that assertion. Is he unaware that Iran is a longtime enemy of both the Taliban and Al Qaeda and enjoys moderately good relations with the puppet government in Iraq? Does he not remember that Iranian intelligence provided valuable assistance to the US military before the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001? Does he not know that the claims that Iran supplies weapons to Iraqi militias and resistance fighters have been repeatedly debunked?

Take, for example, the time in 2008 when a cache of thousands of weapons was seized during raids of Mahdi Army arsenals around Karbala. Military spokesman Major General Kevin Bergner, when asked in May 2008 about the proportion of Iranian weapons then in the hands of Iraqi fighters, muttered the standard deflection and insinuation that the resistance groups "could not do what they're doing without the support of foreign support [sic]" and then broadly defined such "support" as training, funding, and arming fighters with weapons. The evidence, eventually handed over to the Iraqi government by US forces a few months later, was found to provide no solid proof that the weapons came from Iran and the charges were withdrawn after a meeting with Iranian officials. The allegations collapsed once and for all when the weapons were looked at again by the Americans who, via a military spokesman, "attributed the confusion to a misunderstanding that emerged after an Iraqi Army general in Karbala erroneously reported the items were of Iranian origin." The entire embarrassing episode was summed up by Keith Olbermann on Countdown at the time:

"Major General Kevin Bergner convened a news conference in Baghdad last Wednesday to list 20,000 items of ammunition, explosives, and weapons captured or uncovered by US and Iraqi governmental forces in the last few weeks of fighting. 45 rocket-propelled grenades, 570 assorted explosive devices, 1800 mortars and artillery rounds. The point? This was the big day, this was the day, according to the LA Times, that the American military was to show the media of the world the conclusive evidence that at least some of the weaponry used by Iraqi insurgents had been supplied by Iran. The US military spokesman confirming to that newspaper that that's what the dog-and-pony-show was to include. They were all ready to show off Iran's tangible responsibility for some of the haul of the machinery of death, to establish the link between American fatalities and Iran: trademarks or company logos or Made in Tehran stickers or something.

When US experts took a second look at all this stuff, they then said 'None of this is from Iran.' 20,000 blowing-up things? Hard count of those supplied by Iran: zero. Percentage of the whole imported from Iran: no percent. Amount of tangible evidence linking Iran to anti-American uprisings in Baghdad: none. You do realize, they are making this up about Iran!"

And still, despite all the painfully obvious truth of the matter, US military officials continued to accuse Iran of channeling weaponry to Shia militias who are opposing the illegal US occupation in Iraq. In late May 2008, Gareth Porter reported in IPS News that the alleged weapons were clearly not of Iranian origin (they were mostly manufactured in China, Russia, and the former Yugoslavia) and were obtained by Iraqi militias on the international black market.

With a quick look at some other facts, it can even be argued that the US military has itself provided lethal weaponry to Iraqi "insurgents" on a scale that could easily be called negligent collaboration. In August 2007, the Pentagon admitted to losing track of a whole third of the total weapons distributed to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005. As a result, states Global Research, "The 190,000 assault rifles and pistols roam free in Iraqi streets today."

As his battle cry draws to an end, Mr. Kuperman suggests that "air strikes could degrade and deter Iran's bomb program at relatively little cost or risk, and therefore are worth a try."

The costs and risks that Mr. Kuperman so deftly avoids addressing are the lives and livelihoods of the people of Iran. No type of "surgical" or "precision" bomb-dropping can avoid the loss the human life. A country of 70 million living, breathing, working, walking, talking, laughing, crying, dissenting, protesting, counter-protesting, praying, not praying, dreaming, wishing, hoping, loving human beings deserves far more consideration and calculation than what Mr. Kuperman provides or could ever understand.

New York politician Charles Evans Hughes, who, in the early 20th Century, served as Governor of New York, United States Secretary of State, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, once said, "War should be made a crime, and those who instigate it should be punished as criminals."

With this in mind, let's hope there's a special cell in hell reserved for lying warmongers like William Kristol, Judith Miller, and now, Alan Kuperman.


Nima Shirazi is an independent author and musician. He is a contributing writer for Foreign Policy Journal, Palestine Think Tank, and The Rag Blog. His analysis of United States policy and Middle East issues, particularly with reference to current events in Palestine and Iran, can be found in numerous other online and print publications, such as Palestine Chronicle, Monthly Review, ColdType, Information Clearing House, OpEdNews, VoltaireNet, World Can’t Wait, CASMII, Ramallah Online, Kenya Imagine, InfoWars, and Woodstock International.
He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife and books.