The Deal with Iran: How to Make Lemonade out of Lemons

1499Middle East Quarterly, by Alexander H. Joffe
The Times of Israel
July 14, 2015

It is always perilous to predict what future historians will say. But regarding the nuclear deal with Iran, it is likely historians will observe the remarkable fact that at the moment of its greatest weakness, Iran’s enemies suddenly reversed course. In the name of enticing it not to build nuclear weapons, they dismantled years of carefully built economic and political sanctions, saved its crumbling economy, and empowered the regime against its domestic and foreign enemies, including the West itself.

Doing so they accepted Iran’s attacks and insults, left its nuclear enrichment program intact and under minimal supervision, guaranteed Iranian threats to neighboring countries and efforts to expand regional hegemony, and did nothing to help the Iranian people, who struggled under harsh repression. Whether it will have succeeded in preventing Iran from building a nuclear weapon is unlikely. What is certain is that a new period of instability will have been created — that period is already upon us.

Taking advantage of Iran’s opening to the world is now a vital goal for Western intelligence.

It is an extraordinary moment in world history, perhaps a turning point, based, as many such moments are, on an extraordinary convergence of lies and self-delusions. But for those interested in the two goals of an Iran free of nuclear weapons and free of religious fascism, perhaps it is also a moment of opportunity. Iran is about to undergo a kind of opening to the world. Taking advantage of that is now a vital goal for Western intelligence and public diplomacy. It is the art of the making lemonade out of lemons.

Western businessmen are already flooding into Iran seeking deals, selling all manner of wares in exchange for Iranian cash. Those businessmen, the various branch offices they will establish, and the goods they will sell, represent an important opportunity for Western intelligence agencies to gather information and to subvert the Iranian regime.

One simple method are thumb drives, containing viruses to disrupt computer networks, encryption tools to evade official Iranian surveillance and firewalls, and perhaps even Western music, literature, and movies to subvert repressive traditional values, and classics of Western political thought to inspire Iranian society toward a liberal democratic future. Jazz and rock, blue jeans and samizdat literature played roles in the collapse of communism; their 21st century analogs should be enlisted to help Iranian society reform itself.

New access to Iran means new opportunities to undermine its regime.

In reality, this sort of ‘subversion’ should have been an important goal for Western public diplomacy and intelligence work all along. But there is no evidence that significant efforts have been made, especially under the Obama administration. Iranian jamming of Western broadcasts and Internet censorship have been extensive and have gone unprotested by the West, as has repression of dissidents and even the imprisonment of American citizens.

New access in Iran means new opportunities to introduce cyber weapons such as Stuxnet into Iran’s strategic computer systems. Stuxnet and its variants were designed to slow and damage computer controlled systems in Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, apparently with success. But they were eventually detected, and bizarrely, the Obama administration leaked information that led the trail back to the US. Iran’s computers were hardened against attack.

New cyber weapons aimed at Iran’s nuclear program, along with missiles, military radars and aviation, regime communications and record-keeping, and much more, are all likely under development in the West — or should be. Certainly Iran is developing its own cyber weapons, and has virtually unlimited access points to introduce them. But its weapons are aimed Western banks and critical infrastructure, such as electric grids. It is in everyone’s interest that more targeted cyber attacks on the Iranian regime and its weapons systems succeed first.

The opening to the West is — or should be — a counterintelligence nightmare for Iran.

More access to Iran increases its vulnerability, as will more trade. Iran has long acquired items legally and illegally, including computers, industrial machinery, and materials for its weapons programs. With increased trade come more opportunities to sabotage equipment by introducing computer viruses, contaminating materials used in specific industries, and delivering products that do not meet stated specifications. One result may be that nuclear weapons programs can be slowed and that computer and communications systems can be monitored and disrupted. Another is that all imported trade goods become suspect, requiring expensive counterintelligence monitoring and testing. Openness should have a high price for Iran, both real and imagined.

Human intelligence opportunities directed against Iran will also increase, albeit slowly. Businessmen and academics have always been spies, and opportunities to recruit spies and saboteurs. More fundamentally it will increase the opportunity to innocently distribute information about the West through direct contacts. Keeping track of Westerners will in turn require more Iranian counterintelligence efforts. Here, too, the costs of Iran’s opening to the West should be made as high as possible.

Access to Iran’s people also raises the potential to eventually inspire them to overthrow the repressive theocratic fascist regime. Iran’s vulnerability to ethnic uprisings is often underestimated. The Persian-led regime rightly fears Ahwaz Arab tribes in the southwest, ethnic Baluch and Pashtun in the east, and Azeris and Kurds in the northwest. All these have long histories of rebellion against the Persians, and the regime is highly sensitive to the West stirring dissent.

More access will not easily bring such dissent about, much less the arming of ethnic dissidents. Indeed, such activities seem utterly antithetical to the Obama administration, which could not even be moved to support the Green movement that arose after Iran’s corrupt 2009 elections. But putting the regime under stress is an important means to bring about its transformation or demise. At the very least more broadcasts and translations should be aimed at these minorities, bringing them the news that they have not been forgotten by the West.

Even if the territorial integrity of Iran is somehow taken for granted by the West, the values of the regime cannot. The rights of ethnic minorities in Iran, and human rights generally should become a Western demand, supported by tough negotiations and public diplomacy. Such demands featured prominently in American relations with the Soviet Union and should have an equally central place in dealings with Iran. Of course, they will not under Obama, but perhaps they will under the next president.

In all this, Iran’s paranoia should be exploited to the fullest. The opening to the West is — or should be — a counterintelligence nightmare for Iran and they should be forced to devote scarce resources and increase internal repression to try and stay one step ahead. Iran’s youth are already deeply alienated against the regime and to some extent Islam itself. How to increase alienation is a paramount strategic goal for the West.

More positively, the opening to Iran must be seen as an opportunity for the West to promote its own values, of openness, tolerance, liberty and human dignity. If it does not, then those values no longer exist in the West, just as they do not in Iran.

Alexander H. Joffe, a historian and archaeologist, is a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad

1710871446Secure Freedom Radio, June 10, 2015: With Stephen Coughlin

STEPHEN COUGHLIN, author of “Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in Face of Jihad”:

PART ONE:

  • The Islamic law of the land: Shariah
  • The non-kinetic battle space of information operations
  • Political, military, legal, and religious arms of Shariah
  • Defining “Jihad”

PART TWO:

  • Western misconceptions of the term “jihad”
  • The Muslim Brotherhoods explicit purpose in America
  • David Shipler’s Freedom of Speech
  • An Islamist alignment with the Left

PART THREE:

  • Examining the relationship between the Pentagon and the Islamic Society of North America
  • The true reach of Muslim Brotherhood agents and affiliates within the US government
  • What does it mean if “you don’t know your enemy?”

PART FOUR:

  • State Department mantra that “ISIS isn’t Islamic”
  • U.N. Resolution 1618, Hillary Clinton, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation
  • Understanding the Interfaith Movement as a cultural, Marxist organization
  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s stealth jihad within the US

ISIS Baffling U.S. Intelligence Agencies

1408103028210.cachedBy Eli Lake:
It’s been two months since ISIS took over Iraq’s second-largest city. But U.S. analysts are still trying to figure out how big the group is and the real identities of its leaders.
The U.S. intelligence community is still trying to answer basic questions about the jihadists who tried to wipe out Iraq’s remaining Yazidis and who now threaten to overrun the capital of the country’s Kurdish provinces.

In a briefing for reporters Thursday, U.S. intelligence officials said the government is re-evaluating an estimate from early this year that said the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) had only 10,000 members. These officials also said intelligence analysts were still trying to determine the real names of many of the group’s leaders from records of Iraqis who went in and out of American custody during the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

While many U.S. officials have warned publicly in the last year about the dangers posed by ISIS, the fact that the U.S. intelligence community lacks a consensus estimate on its size and the true identities of the group’s leadership may explain why President Obama over the weekend said the U.S. was caught off-guard by the ISIS advance into Kurdish territory.

That said, the U.S. intelligence community assesses that ISIS poses a particularly difficult problem. One American official said ISIS had attracted thousands of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq, some of whom had returned to their home countries and formed terror cells in Europe.

U.S. intelligence officials said the Islamic State makes frequent mention of its intent to attack the U.S., though officials said there is no evidence yet that its operatives have the skills of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) master bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri. AQAP has tried to bring down U.S.-bound airliners three times using bombs he helped design or build.

Read more at Daily Beast

Also see:

NYPD’S Surveillance Program: It’s Not About Islam, It’s About Protecting New york

new-york-police-officers-afp


 Breitbart, by Dr.Sebastian Gorka:

National security should serve policy objectives. It should not be a victim of political correctness. Politics should be kept especially far away from the practice of intelligence.

Today’s decision by the NYPD to close the unit that was mapping Muslim communities in New York is very likely a product of political pressure. It is a decision that will make the city targeted in the largest terrorist attack in modern history less safe.

I have gone on record in the past—on Al Jazeera, of all places—to explain why the program was a good idea and crucial to preventing terrorist plots in the future.

In short: this was not a program to blanket surveil ​all Muslims living in and around New York. That would be pointless and impossible even for the NYPD. The fact is terrorists live in and exploit the communities Muslims have built. From Richard Reid the Shoebomber to Anwar al-Awlaki, the American al Qaeda leader in Yemen, terrorists have been recruited and have used mosques and Islamic centers around the world to organize and plan. A cop knows his community and who fits in and who doesn’t. That’s how you prevent all types of crime, not just mass-murdering terrorists.

After 9/11, the political leadership in New York determined that the federal government had failed the people of their city and decided not to rely on Washington to prevent the next attack. Fourteen of the 19 plots hatched by al Qaeda since 9/11 have targeted New York, so this was a very wise decision.

Subsequently, they built a world-class counterterrorism intelligence capability, deployed NYPD “attaches” to key CT-relevant cities around the world, and published the best operational analysis of jihadi radicalization available today.

This decision is likely the product of the successful campaign launched by CAIR and its allies to delink Islam and al Qaeda and otherwise undermine other counterterrorism efforts across America. See Patrick Poole’s excellent report on their assault on national security here. They are doing this despite the fact that CAIR and its compatriots have been designated in federal court as unindicted co-conspirators in the largest terrorist financing trial in history, the Holy Land Foundation Trial. See the original documents here.

NYPD is target No.1 for al Qaeda. On the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, someone decided to make it easier for jihadi terrorist to attack it.

Sebastian Gorka, Ph.D. is the National Security Editor for Breitbart News.

Blockbuster Interview With Steven Emerson on the Glazov Gang

download (21)Front Page:

Steven Emerson recounts his career as a journalist from its beginnings in 1978 through the beginning of his focus on radical Islamic groups in the US after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The accumulation of massive amounts of data which resulted from research for his first documentary “Jihad in America”  led to the creation of the Investigative Project on Terrorism in 1995. His organization has become the world’s largest archival data center on radical Islam. As an investigative agency, Emerson says, “We are not a think tank, we are a “do tank”.

 

In this second video Emerson talks about CAIR and much more. He does not mince words and there are some explosive comments like “Eric Holder is a hit man and a thug and corrupt…and should be indicted. Information on his corruption will be coming out in the next few months and it will be pretty shocking”

 

You can follow Steve Emerson on twitter @TheIPT where he engages members of CAIR and others, lately using CAIR’s #LegislatingFear to rain on their parade.

 

Why Expanded Government Spying Doesn’t Mean Better Security Against Terrorism

images (61)By Barry Rubin:

What is most important to understand about the revelations of massive message interception by the U.S. government is this: in counterterrorist terms, it is a farce.

There is a fallacy behind the current intelligence strategy of the United States, behind this collection of up to three billion phone calls a day, of emails, and even of credit card expenditures, not to mention the government spying on the mass media. It is this:

The more quantity of intelligence, the better it is for preventing terrorism.

In the real, practical world this is untrue, though it might seem counterintuitive. You don’t need — to put it in an exaggerated way — an atomic bomb against a flea.  Basically the NSA, as one of my readers suggested, is the digital equivalent of the TSA strip-searching an 80 year-old Minnesota grandmothers rather than profiling and focusing on the likely terrorists.

Isn’t it absurd that the United States — which can’t finish a simple border fence to keep out potential terrorists; can’t stop a would-be terrorist in the U.S. Army who gives a PowerPoint presentation on why he is about to shoot people (Major Nidal Hasan); can’t follow up on Russian intelligence warnings about Chechen terrorist contacts (the Boston bombing); or a dozen similar incidents — must now collect every telephone call in the country?

Isn’t it absurd that under this system, a photo-shop clerk has to stop an attack on Fort Dix by overcoming his fear of appearing “racist” to report a cell of terrorists?

That it was left to brave passengers to jump a would-be “underpants bomber” from Nigeria, because his own father’s warning that he was a terrorist was insufficient?

Isn’t it absurd that terrorists and terrorist supporters visit the White House, hang out with the FBI, and advise the U.S. government on counter-terrorist policy, even while — as CAIR does — advising Muslims not to cooperate with law enforcement? And that they are admiringly quoted in the media?

Meanwhile, a documented, detailed revelation of this behavior in MERIA Journal by Patrick Poole – ”Blind to Terror: The U.S. Government’s Disastrous Muslim Outreach Efforts and the Impact on U.S. Middle East Policy” — a report which rationally should bring down the governmentdoes not get covered by a single mass media outlet?

Imagine this scene:

“Sir, we have a telephone call about a potential terrorist attack!”

“Not now, Smithers, I’m giving a tour of our facility to some supporters of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

How about the time when the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem had a (previously jailed) Hamas agent working in their motor pool with direct access to the vehicles and itineraries of all visiting U.S. dignitaries and senior officials?

Instead of this kind of nonsense, the two key elements of counterterrorism are as follows:

First, it is not the quantity of material that counts, but the need to locate and correctly understand the most vital material. This requires your security forces to understand the ideological, psychological, and organizational nature of the threat. Second, it is necessary to be ready to act on this information not only in strategic terms but in political terms.

For example: suppose the U.S. ambassador to Libya warns that the American compound there may be attacked. No response.

Then he tells the deputy chief of mission that he is under attack. No response.

Then, the U.S. military is not allowed to respond.

Then, the president goes to sleep without making a decision about doing anything because of a communications breakdown between the secretaries of Defense and State, and the president goes to sleep because he has a very important fundraiser the next day.

But don’t worry — because three billion telephone calls by Americans are daily being intercepted and supposedly analyzed.

In other words, you have a massive counterterrorist project costing $1 trillion, but when it comes down to it, the thing repeatedly fails.

To quote the former secretary of State: “What difference does it  make?”

If one looks at the great intelligence failures of the past, these two points quickly become obvious. Take for example the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941: U.S. naval intelligence had broken Japanese codes — they had the information needed to conclude the attack would take place. Yet a focus on the key to the problem was not achieved. The important messages were not read and interpreted; the strategic mindset of the leadership was not in place.

Or, in another situation: the plans of Nazi Germany to invade the USSR in 1941, and the time and place of the Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944, were not assessed properly, with devastating results. Of course the techniques were more primitive then, but so were the means of concealment. For instance, the Czech intelligence services — using railroad workers as informants — knew about a big build-up for a German offensive against the USSR. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin overrode the warnings. Soviet analysts predicting a Nazi invasion were punished.

Nothing would have changed if more material was collected.

So what needs to be in place, again, is a focus on the highest-priority material, on analyzing correctly what is available, on having leaders accept it and act upon it. If the U.S. government can’t even figure out what the Muslim Brotherhood is like, or the dangers of supporting Islamists to take over Syria, or the fact that the Turkish regime is an American enemy, or if they can’t even teach military officers who the enemy is … what’s it going to do with scores of billions of telephone calls?

Read more at PJ Media

 

WHY COLLECT SO MUCH INFORMATION IF OBAMA REFUSES TO USE IT AGAINST TERROR?

images (73)

Breitbart, by JOEL B. POLLAK:

Yesterday America learned that the U.S. government is gathering information on our phone calls and can follow our every keystroke. We are reassured that the information is to stop terrorists. And yet the government fails to stop terrorists when it has information about them, because President Barack Obama refuses to understand that our enemy is radical Islam and the agencies he directs follow his disastrous lead.

As Mark Levin observed yesterday in an interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News, Russian intelligence had contacted the U.S. and warned our government directly about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The FBI interviewed him directly and decided to close the file. How would more information have helped stop the Boston Marathon bombing when the law enforcement agencies that had been provided information did not or could not act?

On Sep. 11, 2012, President Barack Obama was informed that the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was under attack. Warning signs had been detected by U.S. intelligence but had been ignored. And yet even when told about the live threat to U.S. diplomats, President Obama failed to act and the directors of several national security agencies failed even to speak to each other that night. How would more information have helped?

The creation of the mammoth Department of Homeland Security was meant to promote the sharing of information across government agencies after the intelligence failure of the first 9/11. And yet those agencies failed to share information necessary to stop the Christmas Day bomber from boarding a flight in 2009. President Obama criticized his own government’s failure–then proceeded to repeat it, over and over.

A correspondent to Breitbart News writes in frustration: “The FBI and NSA were reading [Nidal] Hassan’s emails to [Anwar] Al Awlaki and monitoring his phone calls and didn’t think he was a threat at Ft. Hood. The FBI was also monitoring the phone calls of the Times Square bomber and didn’t do anything. So much for the value of phone call and email monitoring. Check the old news clips on these stories. It’s all there.”

The problem is that President Obama does not want to believe that radical Islam is at war with us. He told the nation last month that “this war, like all wars, must end,” promising to repeal–not refine–the 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Al Qaeda. And yet he has increased the federal government’s snooping–dramatically. What use is that information, if it will not be used against terror?

And then comes a reminder of which information the government has been most interested in: information about Tea Party and conservative groups, information about individual activists in the conservative movement, information about the prayers of pro-life groups–information, in other words, about its political opponents, who have been treated since the beginning of the Obama administration like the real national enemy.

Kimberly Strassel observes of the IRS scandal–which now seems almost quaint in the context of Verizon and Prism–that President Obama set the tone from the beginning with vicious rhetorical attacks on conservative non-profit groups and their donors, calling them “a threat to our democracy.” Meanwhile, the Obama administration missed real threats–blind to the danger its own behavior poses to our democratic republic.