President Donald Trump’s national security team has been leaking “intelligence” about Iranian threats for a week now in an attempt to justify escalating tensions, including moving American air attack assets to the Persian Gulf. But a closer look suggests that National Security Advisor John Bolton and other senior officials are trying to pull off an intelligence deception comparable to the fraudulent pretense for war in Iraq.
There’s also credible evidence that Israel could be playing a key role in this subterfuge.
This deception has served to defend not only a U.S. military buildup in the region, but an expansion of the possible contingencies that could be used to justify military confrontation. In Bolton’s White House statement on May 5, he said the deployment of assets to the Gulf would “send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”
But public claims by the White House about Iran don’t reflect “intelligence” in any technical sense of the word. No one has cited a single piece of hard evidence that justifies these claims of threats, let alone any that are “new,” as press leaks have suggested. All of them appear to be deliberate and gross distortions of actual facts. Thus do they parallel the infamous aluminum tubes of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, which were presented as proof of an incipient Iraqi nuclear weapons program, despite the fact that technical analysis had shown that they couldn’t have been used for that purpose.
The Washington Post reported on May 15 that Pentagon and intelligence officials had cited three “Iranian actions” that had supposedly “triggered alarms”:
- “Information suggesting an Iranian threat against U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Irbil.”
- “U.S. concerns that Iran may be preparing to mount rocket or missile launchers on small ships in the Persian Gulf.”
- “A directive from [Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and regular Iranian military units that some U.S. officials have interpreted as a potential threat to U.S. military and diplomatic personnel.”
None of those three claims describes actual evidence of a threatening Iranian “action”; all merely refer to an official U.S. “concern” about a possible Iranian threat.
The notion of missile launchers on small Iranian boats threatening American ships has been the subject of extensive leaks to the media. But a closer examination of that story shows that it’s an entirely artificial construct.
Multiple news outlets have reported that the concerns over missiles launchers are based on aerial photographs showing Iranian missiles in small fishing boats, or dhows, that are “believed” to be under the control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. An ABC News story claims that these photos were “taken by U.S. intelligence” above the Iranian port of Chabahar. This is said to have stoked fears that the IRGC would use them against U.S. naval ships.
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