Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 1, 2012

Is Iran conspiring to terrorize American citizens?

Filed under: imperialism/globalization,Iran,war — louisproyect @ 3:30 pm

James R. Clapper: liar and war profiteer

Today’s Washington Post has an article alarmingly titled “Iran, perceiving threat from West, willing to attack on U.S. soil, U.S. intelligence report finds“.  My first reaction was to say to myself, “Uh-oh, here we go again.”

The article has a link to testimony before Congress by one James R. Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence who states:

The 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States shows that some 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 in response to real or perceived US actions that threaten the regime. We are also concerned about Iranian plotting against US or allied interests overseas.

This, of course, is just one more example of what Malcolm X called turning the victim into the criminal and the criminal into the victim. With the assassination of one Iranian scientist after another carried out by America’s cat’s paw in the Middle East—the Mossad—one must appreciate Iran’s willingness not to retaliate in kind, despite the allegation about the “2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador”.

The N.Y. Times was a bit more skeptical than the Washington Post when it came to this plot, describing its architect as follows:

But Mansour J. Arbabsiar, 56, the man at the center of an alleged Iranian plot to kill a Saudi diplomat in Washington, seems to have been more a stumbling opportunist than a calculating killer. Over the 30-odd years he lived in Texas, he left a string of failed businesses and angry creditors in his wake, and an embittered ex-wife who sought a protective order against him. He was perennially disheveled, friends and acquaintances said, and hopelessly disorganized.

Mr. Arbabsiar, now in custody in New York, stands accused by federal prosecutors of running a global terrorist plot that stretched from Mexico to Tehran, and that was directed by the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Many of his old friends and associates in Texas seemed stunned at the news, not merely because he was not a zealot, but because he seemed too incompetent to pull it off.

“His socks would not match,” said Tom Hosseini, a former college roommate and friend. “He was always losing his keys and his cellphone. He was not capable of carrying out this plan.”

Reminiscent of Judith Miller’s articles in the N.Y. Times, it is shocking that the Washington Post can ignore the obvious improbability of such a plot when it writes:

As described by U.S. officials in October, the convoluted scheme was to rely on assassins from a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the killing at a restaurant in Washington.

U.S. officials said the plot was devised by an Iranian American with ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. But the plan was foiled when the would-be operative mistakenly hired a paid informant of the Drug Enforcement Administration to carry it out. Iranian officials have denied any role in the plot.

It was “so unusual and amateurish that many initially doubted that Iran was responsible,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in Tuesday’s hearing. “Well, let me state for the record, I have no such a doubt.”

One of course would understand why Dianne Feinstein would “have no such a doubt” since she supported Bush’s war in Iraq back in 2002 based on the same kind of trumped up “intelligence”. As the 9th wealthiest member of the Senate, it might be expected that she would be gung-ho for wars in the Middle East. Her husband Richard Blum is the CEO of the Perini Corporation that is a prime military contractor as investigative reporter Peter Byrne revealed in an article titled “Senator Warbucks“:

As chairperson and ranking member of the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee (MILCON) from 2001 through the end of 2005, Feinstein supervised the appropriation of billions of dollars a year for specific military construction projects. Two defense contractors whose interests were largely controlled by her husband, financier Richard C. Blum, benefited from decisions made by Feinstein as leader of this powerful subcommittee.

Each year, MILCON’s members decide which military construction projects will be funded from a roster proposed by the Department of Defense. Contracts to build these specific projects are subsequently awarded to such major defense contractors as Halliburton, Fluor, Parsons, Louis Berger, URS Corporation and Perini Corporation. From 1997 through the end of 2005, with Feinstein’s knowledge, Blum was a majority owner of both URS Corp. and Perini Corp.

While setting MILCON agendas for many years, Feinstein, 73, supervised her own staff of military construction experts as they carefully examined the details of each proposal. She lobbied Pentagon officials in public hearings to support defense projects that she favored, some of which already were or subsequently became URS or Perini contracts. From 2001 to 2005, URS earned $792 million from military construction and environmental cleanup projects approved by MILCON; Perini earned $759 million from such MILCON projects.

Obama’s Director of National Intelligence has the same cozy relationship to the military industry as reported by McClatchy, a publisher that stands hand and shoulders over the newspapers of the big bourgeoisie as indicated by their receiving an I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence in 2008. Their reporter filed a report on July 26, 2010 titled ” Clapper’s ties to contractors now loom large” that describes the same sort of incestuous relationship:

Four months after James R. Clapper left his federal job as head of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in June 2006, he joined the boards of three government contractors, two of which had been doing business with his agency while he was there.

It was not the only revolving door entered by Clapper, who is now President Obama’s nominee to be director of national intelligence.

In October 2006 he was hired full time by DFI International, which was trying to boost its consulting with intelligence agencies. In April 2007, when he returned to public service as the chief of the Pentagon’s intelligence programs, DFI paid him a $50,000 bonus on his way out the door, according to his financial disclosure statement. Five months later, DFI landed a contract to advise Clapper’s Pentagon office, though company officials say they do not recall collecting any revenue from the deal.

There was nothing illegal or unusual about any of those moves in Washington, where former officials frequently land jobs with private contractors.

Now, however, Clapper is poised to become intelligence chief at a time when Congress is asking questions about the explosive growth of private contracting in the $75 billion U.S. intelligence operation. With lawmakers calling on the Obama administration to reduce the outsourcing, a logical question is whether a veteran of the close alliance between government and contractors — Clapper strongly defended the practice in response to a Washington Post series last week — is best-suited to bring that system to heel.

Not only is Clapper someone with a vested interest in war profiteering, he is also an old card at fabricating “intelligence”. In 2003, Clapper ran something called the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. In that capacity, he assured the world that the weapons of mass destruction that were not found in Iraq because they had been spirited out of the country before the inspectors could locate them as the NY Times reported on October 29, 2003:

The director of a top American spy agency said Tuesday that he believed that material from Iraq’s illicit weapons program had been transported into Syria and perhaps other countries as part of an effort by the Iraqis to disperse and destroy evidence immediately before the recent war.

The official, James R. Clapper Jr., a retired lieutenant general, said satellite imagery showing a heavy flow of traffic from Iraq into Syria, just before the American invasion in March, led him to believe that illicit weapons material “unquestionably” had been moved out of Iraq.

“I think people below the Saddam Hussein-and-his-sons level saw what was coming and decided the best thing to do was to destroy and disperse,” General Clapper, who leads the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, said at a breakfast with reporters.

This was even too much for agency spokesman David Burpee, who said “he could not provide further evidence to support the general’s statement.”

One of the things I have stressed over and over is that President Obama is essentially carrying serving as Bush’s third term. I should add that if Mitt Romney replaces Obama next year, he will be carrying out Obama’s second term. As Kurt Vonnegut put it in “Slaughterhouse Five”: “And so it goes”.

In 2007, Clapper was nominated by President George W. Bush to be Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and approved without objections by Democratic Party legislators. So it is no wonder that he was Obama’s choice to run National Intelligence this year. He really knows how to pick ’em.


  1. Nice expose of this asshole. Seeing his face in the Boston Globe this morning along with the accompanying article ruined a perfectly good start to the day.

    Comment by Rick — February 1, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

  2. Spell check: That’s James R. Crapper, right?

    Don’t see what’s shocking about the WP doing the Judith Miller work this time around, given the NYT’s embarrassment in front of its liberal readership. The WP’s neo-con far right rantings are hardly distinguishable from the WSJ these days, so their stepping up to this task is entirely expected. This is especially so if one believes, as I do, that the Obama Admin. wants to avoid a war before the election, because the Pentagon brass don’t want a war – you didn’t think it was Obamas’ backbone talking here, did you? – and for this same reason, the Netanyahu Party in the U.S. is pushing for an open war in order to either unelect this standing negation of decades of demonization of Arabs and Muslims in the U.S., or to force his and the Pentagon’s hand militarily. Instead, the Obama Admin has opted for the “destabilization” approach, an exercise in futility that will not fool Netanyahu

    In any case, its Robamaney 2012.

    Comment by matthewrusso9 — February 1, 2012 @ 8:07 pm

  3. I suspect that the reason why the Americans were so certain that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction was, that they themselves were implicated in selling those weapons to him in the first place.

    Comment by Jurriaan Bendien — February 1, 2012 @ 9:10 pm

  4. This is the kind of read-between-the-lines old school investigative journalism that makes life worth living for a sentient being. It provides solace to the cynically minded that still hopes truth will in the end prevail.

    MattRusso’s analysis is always appreciated for his insights as well.

    FWIW back 35 years ago my late father, a voracious reader with a keen old socialist mind commented to me more than once that he could prove to anybody who would listen that through deconstruction of texts that guys like Robert Novack were paid CIA plants in what he called “the commercial press.”

    By the time of the collapse of the Soviets, which corresponded with first the Panama Invasion then the First Gulf War, I suggested to him that these CIA plants in the commercial press had increased exponetially, and he agreed.

    20 years after that fact they’ve clearly bread like a degenerate strain of German cockroaches in an A&E episode of Hoarders, particularly after Clinton’s bipartisan passing of that onerous Telecommunications Bill that should have rightly been called: “The Consolidation of Media Act” which was the official green light to reduce 80% of what Americans read, watch & hear to so much Pentagon propaganda that, as Chomsky was fond of saying: “Goebbels would have been proud.”

    Democratic voters who fashion themselves as “Progressives” ought to note that the foundations of American Fascism were laid by Clinton with not only that Telecommunications Act but also that proto-Patriot Act rammed through after the OK City bombings which, having rescinded habeas corpus are almost to the letter “The Patriot Act” — nevermind abolishing “welfare as we know it” and the Repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act that let Wall Street speculators transfer the greatest amount of wealth from the poorest 20% to the richest 20% in American history.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — February 2, 2012 @ 2:15 am

  5. It seems that Blum is a bit of a environmental warrior as well:


    Comment by michaeljamesbarker — February 2, 2012 @ 9:48 am

  6. I’ve seen this Mansour J. Arbabsiar before. He used to live in Dallas.
    His name then was Jack Ruby. When they do the movies the same actor can play them both.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — February 2, 2012 @ 11:50 am

  7. Great catch by Michael Barker. I wonder how long it will take for Blum to become a member of the Bard College board of trustees.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 2, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

  8. This guy looks like a hardened Aryan Nation convict.

    Comment by purple — February 3, 2012 @ 7:15 am

  9. @#3 Jurriaan makes a great point. After all, during the Iran/Iraq war which was spearheaded by the Pentagon to punish the Iranian Revolution, the US sold special anti-aircraft missiles at huge mark ups to one side and then gave the coordinates of the location of those shipments to the other side so they could bomb them, thereby generating new lucrative sales at the expense of brown peoples. The arms industry never has a recession in the age of Imperialism.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — February 3, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

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