Defense Department counterintelligence investigators suspected that a small group of Pentagon officials who'd collected dubious intelligence on Iraq and Iran from Iranian exiles might have "been used as agents of a foreign intelligence service ... to reach into and influence the highest levels of the U.S. government," a Senate Intelligence Committee report said Thursday.
A top aide to then-secretary of defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, however, shut down the 2003 investigation into the group's activities after only a month, and Pentagon officials never followed up on investigators' recommendation for a more thorough investigation, the Senate report said.
The revelation raises questions about whether Iran may have used a small cabal of officials in the Pentagon and in Vice President Dick Cheney's office to feed bogus intelligence on Iraq and Iran to senior policymakers in the Bush administration who were eager to oust the Iraqi dictator.
Iran, which was a mortal enemy of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and fought a bloody eight-year war with Iraq during his reign, has been the primary beneficiary of U.S. policy in Iraq, where Iranian-backed groups now run much of the government and the security forces.
The aborted counterintelligence investigation probed some Pentagon officials' contacts with Iranian exile Manucher Ghorbanifar, whom the CIA had labeled a "fabricator" in 1984. Those contacts were brokered by an American civilian, Michael Ledeen, a former Pentagon and National Security Council consultant and a leading advocate of invading Iraq and overthrowing Iran's Islamic regime.
The Bush Administration was not content to screw up solo. Evidence now surfaces that our epic misadventure in Iraq was an example of willing sock puppetry controlled by Iran.I've been dismissive of the 9/11 conspiracy theories. But at this point about the only thing holding me back is my unwillingness to believe that this bunch of asshats could actually (a) do it and (b) keep quiet about it.