Neocons and the Truth: Bitter Enemies to the End
In a July, 2006 article in Rolling Stone -- entitled "Iran: The Next War" -- the superb journalist James Bamford detailed the shady activities of numerous neoconservatives inside and out of the U.S. Government to plan an attack on Iran. Bamford focused on the role played by Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute and National Review, who created and began implementing an attack scheme in coordination with the Pentagon's then number-three official, Doug Feith, and Feith's deputy, Larry Franklin (subsequently convicted of felonies for passing classified information to AIPAC).
A couple weeks after Bamford's exposÃƒÂ¨ was published, National Review enlisted former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy and talk show host Mark Levin jointly to author a defense of Ledeen and, more importantly, to savage Bamford for writing what they claimed was a pack of lies. The McCarthy/Levin article was entitled "Rolling Smear," sub-headlined "James Bamford writes a fiction about our Michael Ledeen," and accused Bamford of being "the latest in a growing crowd of hacks to smear our friend Michael Ledeen."
McCarthy and Levin specifically attacked Bamford's disclosure that Ledeen "had arranged a covert meeting in Rome with a group of Iranians [and Feith's team] to discuss their clandestine help" in attacking Iran. Said McCarthy and Levin:
Bamford, to the contrary, wants to turn the meeting into a nefarious plot by Ledeen and the neocons to push the nation into war with Iran. Yet, anyone even vaguely familiar with Michael's work knows that he has opposed military action against Iran -- notwithstanding that he was years ahead of most experts in accurately portraying Iran's role as the terror master at the center of the jihadist network.
So Bamford's claim was "embarrassing" because "anyone even vaguely familiar with Michael's work knows that he has opposed military action against Iran." Got that?
Time to Attack Iranian Terror Camps? [Michael Ledeen] So says John Bolton, and he's right. As you know, I have been proposing this for years. I always thought it was only a matter of time before we were compelled to take this action, which is a legitimate form of self-defense. And while we're at it, we should do the same thing to the Syrian camps as well. It isn't "sending a message," it's acting to protect our guys by fighting back in the proxy war the mullahs have been waging since 1979. Faster, please?
More amazingly, a mere two weeks before McCarthy and Levin wrote that "anyone even vaguely familiar with Michael's work knows that he has opposed military action against Iran," Ledeen himself wrote at The Corner that "I would insist that my soldiers have the right of 'hot pursuit' into Iran and Syria, and I would order my armed forces to attack the terrorist training camps in those countries."
In late 2006, I wrote about virtually identical deceit from this same group, that time with regard to Iraq. On National Review in December of 2006, Ledeen -- just as the Beltway establishment was finally turning against the war in Iraq and in the wake of a lengthy Vanity Fair article identifying the neocons who were to blame -- claimed: "I opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place."
In fact, Ledeen, throughout 2002 and 2003, had repeatedly and explicitly urged the invasion of Iraq in countless venues, including: The Wall St. Journal's Op-Ed Page ("If we come to Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran as liberators, we can expect overwhelming popular support"); in an interview with David Horowitz's Front Page ("Question #2: Okay, well if we are all so certain about the dire need to invade Iraq, then when do we do so? Ledeen: Yesterday."); on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews ("if President Bush is to be faulted for anything in this so far, it's that he's taken much too long to get on with it, much too long"); and in National Review (calling for "the desperately-needed and long overdue war against Saddam Hussein and the rest of the terror masters").
That war-cheerleading neoconservatives of this strain are completely unbound by the truth is not news. Obviously, the war they unleashed in Iraq is the most compelling proof of that. But sometimes when the lying is so blatant, one can't help but note it.
The same is true for the complete lack of accountability. Ledeen is a so-called "Freedom Scholar" at the revered and widely-cited American Enterprise Institute and a Contributing Editor at National Review. An intense email campaign over his Iraq comments to AEI and National Review's Editor Rich Lowry demanding a retraction or some comment from them on Ledeen's blatant falsehoods over his Iraq stance was simply ignored, as will be this episode concerning the article by McCarthy and Levin smearing Bamford due to Ledeen's alleged opposition to attacking Iran.
This isn't just a matter of documenting guilt with regard to what happened with Iraq. The Washington Post's David Ignatius today became just the latest establishment spokesman to warn (or celebrate) that "judging from recent statements by administration officials, there is also a small, but growing, chance of conflict with Iran."
The neoconservative war-lovers behind this effort have not changed, nor have their tactics. They realize, as many of them acknowledge, that they will have four more years in power if John McCain is elected. But they also realize that he may not be, and that their last hope for their long-desired attack on Iran lies in convincing the current administration to provoke one before its tenure ends. As much as one wishes it weren't true, as much as the fixation on petty election issues might obscure it, the truly depraved extremist group that brought us the invasion of Iraq still exerts substantial influence and is quite busy trying to exert it.
UPDATE: It isn't just the American neocons, but also the Israelis, who are escalating the "Attack Iran" campaign. The Jerusalem Post yesterday "reported" that "with Iran racing forward with its nuclear program, Israel now believes the Islamic Republic will master centrifuge technology and be able to begin enriching uranium on a military scale this year" (h/t quick strategy) and:
The new assessment moves up Israel's forecasts on Teheran's nuclear program by almost a full year -- from 2009 to the end of 2008. According to the new timeline, Iran could have a nuclear weapon by the middle of next year.
According to several commenters, the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. was on Fox News this morning making the same fear-mongering claim.
The principal tactic Israel-centric neocons have repeatedly used with Bush to induce him to attack Iran has been to tell him that history will judge him based on whether he permits Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. From The Weekly Standard's Irwin Stelzer, writing about a 2007 White House luncheon with Bush, historian Andrew Roberts, and a group of necons:
The closing note was a more serious one. Roberts said that history would judge the president on whether he had prevented the nuclearization of the Middle East. If Iran gets the bomb, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other countries will follow. "That is why I am so pleased to be sitting here rather than in your chair, Mr. President." There was no response, other than a serious frown and a nod.
Norman Podhoretz, when telling the President to bomb Iran, used the same tactic:
"I urged Bush to take action against the Iranian nuclear facilities and explained why I thought there was no alternative," said Podhoretz, 77, in an interview with The Sunday Times. . . .
He also told Bush: "You have the awesome responsibility to prevent another holocaust. You're the only one with the guts to do it." . . . . "The president has said several times that he will be in the historical dock if he allows Iran to get the bomb. He believes that if we wait for threats to fully materialise, we'll have waited too long -- something I agree with 100%,' Podhoretz said.
And now, magically up pops these new reports from Israel warning that the deadline to stop Iran's nuclear bomb is the end of the year -- right before George Bush leaves office. Bush has less than eight months left to fulfill his history-mandated mission "to prevent another holocaust" by attacking Iran, or else "be in the historical dock if he allows Iran to get the bomb." They're as transparent as they are dishonest and bloodthirsty.
Glenn Greenwald was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy", examines the Bush legacy.