Friday, February 10, 2012
Post #181 - Are we at orange yet?
Ron Kampeas, an Israeli who has headed the JTA (Jewish news service) bureau in our capital for many years, has a piece published in Washington Jewish Week, 2/8/12. In it, he wrote about Iran, the United States and Israel. He began by discussing the "Saudi" plot: "When America's top intelligence official said that Iran's regime is considering attacks on U.S. soil, he cited a single incident and qualified the assessment with a 'probably.' But intelligence and law enforcement experts say the Jan. 31 warning by the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, was likely based on more than the evidence he cited. 'I would be surprised to learn a statement like that was not backed up by intelligence,' said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies." This was expanded to an assessment of Iran's response to "escalating international pressure" and its importance for Jewish communities.
Note the use of "intelligence and law enforcement experts," a phrase that seems to give weight to the associated statement, without directly attributing it to anyone in particular. It is coupled with a statement from the FDD, whose leadership council includes James R. Woolsey, an ardent Iran hawk, neo-con Bill Kristol and Paula Dobriansky, a State Department official who served mainly under George W. Bush.
Later, Kampeas says again: "experts already are citing with concern as series of recent foiled plots, allegedly connected to Iran or its proxies, against Jewish and non-Jewish targets." [my emphasis] So we have virtually any plot, anywhere in the world, in which unnamed persons may see the hand of Iran, forming the basis for a major rise in threat levels. I don't think that this kind of "fact-lite" content is up to Kampeas' usual standards of journalistic practice.
In citing Clapper's conclusion that "Iranian officials - probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei - have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States," Kampeas declined to insert (as did the Washington Post on the same story) the fact that no credible intelligence evidence exists to support that assertion. Perhaps it will turn out to be true, but according to what the public actually knows, it is only speculation at this point.
As he tells us, "Jewish and Israeli institutions in the United States are on high alert." Given the way JTA and American intel officials have been talking, is it any wonder? Kampeas informs us also that "Jewish security professionals notes the possible threat to Jewish institutions around that world."
Interestingly, the article also cites Matthew Levitt, a senior fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, regarding "a period in which Iran was reluctant to strike out against targets overseas." Having been "stung by the diplomatic backlash" when they were implicated in an attack outside of Iran (the Buenos Aires Jewish center incident in 1994). Apparently, diplomatic pressure actually does work with Iran.
What does not seem to work is direct attacks. Kampeas himself says that the "trigger that renewed the threat of attacks overseas [not seen between 1994 and 2008] was the assassination of [Imad] Mughniyah by a car-bomb in Syria in 2008," for which many blamed Israel's Mossad. He also guesses that Iran may now be reacting to the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists.
Iran has been implicated or accused in everything from 9/11 to U.S. embassy attacks in Africa, as well a support for Hezbollah and Hamas. Mossad attacks have been either proven or alleged in Uruguay, Cyprus, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Tunisian, and...Iran.
This all reminds me of the "Spy vs Spy" graphic short-stories that appeared in Mad magazine of my youth. One was dressed in white, one in black (otherwise one could not tell them apart). Their attempts to blow one another up continued from one issue to the next, without any perceptible outcome.