Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Knew Iran
Had Nuclear
In 2000

I think Bill Clinton was just a little too busy
to have done anything about the problem.

James Risen's book State of War is getting a lot of attention because of its criticism of the Bush Administration. But, according to this Michael Ledeen article, the book also contains the bombshell that the CIA and the Clinton Administration knew Iran had a nuclear weapons program way back in year 2000.

Note that this article is in the form of an imagined conversation with a security expert friend:

JJA: ... the really amazing part is that Risen doesn’t even notice the truly horrible aspects of his own story. He doesn’t have the wit or the energy to think half a step beyond the tale he’s been told.

ML: Okay, let’s take them in order. The first one dates back to Clinton. It’s about an operation called "Merlin," and consisted of feeding doctored information about the design of nuclear weapons to the mullahs via a Soviet scientist who had defected "years earlier" to the United States. The concept was to get the Iranians to use the snafued version in their bombs so that they would fizzle instead of explode.

JJA: Right. We’ve been doing such things for years, and for good reason. If you know that your enemies are trying to steal your blueprints, or buy good weapons on the clandestine market, you’re well-advised to try to get them to steal or buy things that won’t work, instead of running around trying to plug all the cracks in the dyke. Nothing wrong with the concept.\ML: Except that we never did it with nuclear stuff before, did we? And Risen’s got expert testimony that the Iranians could easily have sorted out the good parts of the blueprints from the disinformation, so that in the end we would have actually helped them.

JJA: Yes, I saw that. You can always get somebody to say that any given idea is idiotic. But you’d need to know a lot more than Risen knows to be able to judge it, in this specific case. And that points us to the really interesting question, the one that Risen doesn’t bother to ask, let alone answer.

ML: I’m following you. If we knew enough — in 2000, mind you — to be able to design an effective disinformation program, then...

JJA: Then (he started shouting in that gravelly voice of his) THEY KNEW THE IRANIANS HAD A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM SIX YEARS AGO.