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Hullabaloo


Thursday, May 27, 2004

 
Who Fed The Boys?

If anybody wants to catch up the very latest in Chalabi intrigue, Laura Rozen at War and Piece has got it goin' on as usual.

It's creeping closer and closer to the inner circle. According to a UPI report Rozen cites from Tuesday, the FBI is looking at two former CPA officials who are now back in the states --- one still working for the pentagon and one snuggled safely in the arms of AEI.

Rozen says the two are reported to be Michael Rubin and Harold Rhode (although they have denied it.)

Just for kicks, here's what Right Web watch says about Rubin:

Michael Rubin is one of the youngest neoconservative figures to gain prominence within the George W. Bush administration. A Yale graduate whose dissertation focused on modern Iran, Rubin has traveled extensively in Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sudan.

Rubin, an AEI scholar, was involved in several meetings and conferences officiated by Douglas Feith and Harold Rhode at AEI as part of the Bush transition team. One of the objectives of these meetings was to reshape the top leadership at the Pentagon, sidelining or removing those who were regarded as moderates. Out of these discussions came the idea for the creation of the Office of Special Plans (OSP).

Between 2002 and 2004, Rubin worked as a staff adviser for Iran and Iraq in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, in which capacity he was seconded to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Rubin was assigned to the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans, which was fold into the Northern Gulf Affairs Office after the unit was implicated in cooking intelligence information to justify the Iraq war and occupation.

In a National Review article, Rubin discusses sentiments expressed whenever Secretary of State Colin Powell and Special Envoy Anthony Zinni would visit Israel.

“While working at Hebrew University this past year, I took the bus to campus each day. Whenever U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell or Special Envoy Anthony Zinni was dispatched to Israel, colleagues would urge me to stay home until after the suicide bombing. Middle Easterners understand the lesson those in the U.S. and Europe are still learning: When governments engage dictators, civilians suffer.” [Yeah. Europe doesn't know anything about that...ed.]


I hadn't heard of Harold Rhode, but waddaya know. It turns out that he is one of Michael Ledeen's intellectual houseboys. And he was involved in that bizarre little bit of deja vu-vu last summer when Ledeen tried to "open up the lines of communication with Iran" by getting in touch with our old friend Manucher Ghorbanifar, the Iranian con artist who arranged the arms for hostages deal for Ollie and the boys.

Pentagon hard-liners pressing for change of government in Iran have held secret, unauthorised meetings in Paris with an arms dealer who was a main figure in the Iran-Contra scandal.

Administration officials said at least two Pentagon officials working for the Undersecretary of Defence for Policy, Douglas Feith, have held "several" meetings with Manucher Ghorbanifar, the Iranian middleman in United States arms-for-hostage shipments to Iran in the mid-1980s.

The officials who disclosed the secret meetings said the talks with Mr Ghorbanifar were not authorised by the White House and appeared to be aimed at undercutting sensitive negotiations with Iran's Government.

A senior Administration official said the US Government had learned about the unauthorised talks by accident.

The senior official and another Administration source said the ultimate objective of Mr Feith and a group of neo-conservative civilians inside the Pentagon is change of government in Iran.

The immediate objective appeared to be to "antagonise Iran so that they get frustrated and then by their reactions harden US policy against them".

The official confirmed that the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, complained directly to the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, several days ago about Mr Feith conducting missions that went against US policy.

A spokesman for Mr Feith's Near East, South Asia and Special Plans office, which sources said played a key role in contacts with Mr Ghorbanifar contacts, ignored an emailed inquiry about the talks.

The senior Administration official identified two of the defence officials who met Mr Ghorbanifar as Harold Rhode, Mr Feith's top Middle East specialist, and Larry Franklin, a Defence Intelligence Agency analyst on loan to the undersecretary's office.

Mr Rhode recently acted as a liaison between Mr Feith's office, which drafted much of the Administration's post-Iraq planning, and Ahmed Chalabi, a former Iraqi exilegroomed for leadership by the Pentagon.

Mr Rhode is a protege of Michael Ledeen, who was a National Security Council consultant in the mid 1980s when he introduced Mr Ghorbanifar to Oliver North, a NSC aide, and others in the opening stages of the Iran-Contra affair.


Rozen says that many of her colleagues have expressed skepticism because these guys couldn't have had access to the kind of sensitive information that's being discussed.

That may be true, but it sure looks like they have easy access to those who do. Particularly Douglas Feith, who is clearly up to his neck in this thing. Ledeen probably is too. He's been playing the Iran angle for years.

Who duped who and how is still up for grabs, but it sure looks like Junior and the Retreads got taken to the cleaners. What a surprise. Them being grown-ups and all.

Update:

Thanks to commenter Vin Carreo, I was reminded of this article by josh Marshall from 2002 in which he dissected the entire "second tier" pentagon neocon crew, (which includes an amazing anecdote about Rhode) describing them as even more nutty than the first tier of Wolfowitz, Perle and the rest:

In the minds of these second-tier appointees, taking out Saddam Hussein is only part of a larger puzzle. Their grand vision of the Middle East goes something like this: Stage 1: Iraq becomes democratic. Stage 2: Reformers take over in Iran. That would leave the three powerhouses of the Middle East -- Turkey, Iraq and Iran -- democratic and pro-Western. Suddenly the Saudis wouldn't be just one more corrupt, authoritarian Arab regime slouching toward bin Ladenism. They'd be surrounded by democratic states that would undermine Saudi rule both militarily and ideologically.


As a plan to pursue in the real world, most of the career military and the civilian employees at the Pentagon -- indeed most establishment foreign policy experts -- see this vision as little short of insane. But to Bush's hawkish Pentagon appointees the real prize isn't Baghdad, it's Riyadh. And the Saudis know it.


Oh, what a tangled web we weave.







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