My sincere apologies.
I've done a grave disservice to AmSpec's readers. In the post I wrote last week, I cited a quote from a Hillary Mann Leverett regarding her skepticism of the alleged Iranian terror plot. It was a name I figured would be familiar to many. After all she is a Senior Research Fellow at Yale's Institute for Global Affairs, was Director for Iran on Secretary of State Powell's Policy Planning Staff, served as the Middle East Advisor for President Clinton's U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and spent a career in foreign service.
But I'm terribly sorry... far be it from me to quote a woman who advocated détente and diplomacy during the relatively moderate Khatami years in Iran, when it appeared Tehran was ready to cool its jets. That clearly doesn't sit well with armchair hawks who prefer the bellicose tones of rattling sabers.
However, in his rush to defend the veracity of this threat hyped by the reeling Obama administration Mr. Tabin must have ignored the wealth of expert incredulity surrounding the matter of this comically scatterbrained, drug-addled failure, nicknamed "Jack" because of his fondness for Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey, and his purported plot to kick start World War III. Such was his dismay that I'd cited the former Director for Iran, Afghanistan and Persian Gulf Affairs at the National Security Council...but I digress.
Allow me to buttress my disbelief with some additional expert testimony.
Preeminent IR scholar, Stephen Walt of Harvard, has described the allegations as cockamamie. Former CIA operative Bob Baer said the plot was completely uncharacteristic of Iran's clandestine operations. Jeffrey Toobin, Senior Legal Analyst with CNN, suggests that Arbabrian may have been entrapped into this plan by a criminal drug runner in the pay of the US government, who proposed most of the key details in the first place. Kennneth Katzman, a Middle East analyst with Congressional Research Service states "There is simply no precedent - or even reasonable rationale - for Iran working any plot, no matter where located, through a non-Muslim proxy such as Mexican drug gangs." Gary Sick, a leading observer of Iran, and expert at the Columbia University Middle East Institute, furthers this case. "Whatever else may be Iran's failings, they are not noted for utter disregard of the most basic intelligence tradecraft, e.g. discussing an ultra-covert operation on an open international line between Iran and the U.S." Juan Zarate, a former deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism during the Bush administration, described the operation as sloppy and completely uncharacteristic of an al-Quds mission.
For the moment, I have neither the time nor the inclination to cite additional instances of expert astonishment and cynicism, but I think you get the picture.
I'm sure there are many more out there, and more still are bound to emerge as this junkshow rolls along. Until then, I'll continue to argue that questionable conflict accelerants are highly unwelcome in this most precarious region of the world and leave Mr. Tabin to wonder it's even "possible that there's a piece of this story that the government has gotten wrong?"
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