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Are neocons in the Bush administration actually siphoning secret intelligence to Israel in hopes of keeping the war going, the war Rice is ostensibly trying to stop? James Bamford says so.
Countdown – 7 Aug 2006 MSNBC – Runtime 5 Minutes
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A growing body of evidence tonight that the neoconservatives inside the Bush administration who engineered the U.S. invasion of Iraq might now be setting their sights on Iran, the fight between Hezbollah and Israel serving as a conduit, Sidney Blumenthal reporting on Salon.com that, with the president‘s approval, the national Security Agency, the NSA, is secretly providing intelligence to Israel to monitor whether Syria and Iran are supplying new armaments to Hezbollah as it fires Katyusha missiles and other vehicles into northern Israel.
At the same time, Salon reports, hard-liners in the administration believe Secretary of State Rice is not doing enough to push the neoconservative agenda.
Joining me now to discuss that revelation is James Bamford, an expert on the U.S. intelligence community and the author of groundbreaking books on the NSA called “Body of Secrets” and “The Puzzle Palace.” He now has an article on the prospect of war in Iran in the current issue of “Rolling Stone” magazine.
Mr. Bamford, thank you for your time tonight.
JAMES BAMFORD, “ROLLING STONE”: No, my pleasure, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Is the passing of secret intelligence to Israel, with the approval of the president, a clear sign that the administration might be looking to widen the conflict in the Middle East, instead of trying to contain it now?
BAMFORD: Well, it‘s not just intelligence. If you remember, last week there was a major report about how the U.S. was rushing sophisticated weapons to Israel for use in the war. So it‘s clear that the U.S., particularly the Pentagon, is pushing hard on behalf of Israel in this war.
OLBERMANN: Is it Condoleezza Rice herself that the neoconservatives view as a threat? Are they Colin-Powelling her? Or would anyone holding the post of secretary of state prove threatening to this line of thought, because diplomacy really is the antithesis of regime change?
BAMFORD: Well, I think Condi Rice is pretty much a protegee of Colin Powell, who they just couldn‘t stand as secretary of state. And they would prefer to have John Bolton, our ambassador to the U.N., as secretary of state, a fellow neocon.
So they‘re—at every chance they can, I think they‘re going to try to undermine her, and she‘s pushing to get a peace settlement as soon as possible, and I think they would like to delay it as long as possible.
OLBERMANN: By the mere fact, though, that Iraq has not and is not going and doesn‘t seem to be in the future going to be going the way the neocons had planned, does that not detract from their credibility about regime change anywhere else, particularly in Iran, even if it‘s as simple as wanting a do-over? What would make destabilizing that country and the process of that turn out any differently than the process in Iraq has?
BAMFORD: Well, they‘re on an entirely different plane, I think, than most people. And I don‘t think this deters them at all. They‘ve had this goal for years, for a decade, at least. In 1996, they came up with the clean-break plan, which was an outline for how Israel would basically get rid of Iraq and Saddam Hussein and move into Syria, Lebanon, and on to Iran.
I think they‘re trying to carry out this plan. It was written by the person who‘s now the Middle East adviser to Dick Cheney, and the person who was in charge of the war in Iraq, largely, Doug Feith at the Pentagon, in addition to the person who is head of the Defense Policy Board, Richard Perle.
So this has been a plan that‘s been in the works for a long time. And I think now it‘s their chance to see a possibility for this to come to fruition.
OLBERMANN: Is there an irony in all this, that Hezbollah‘s greatest ally in the region right now might not be Iran, but given that rally we saw in Baghdad today, that it might turn out to be the Arab Shi‘ite majority that we have installed in Iraq?
BAMFORD: Well, that‘s certainly one irony. Another irony is the fact that it was Ahmed Chalabi, the darling of the neoconservatives, that was used to gin up all the phony information to help us get into this war so that they could put Chalabi in there as president of Iraq. And now it turns out that the FBI is investigating Chalabi as possibly a spy for Iran.
So the ultimate irony would be if this was a plot all along by Iran, using Chalabi, to get the United States to get rid of their worst enemy, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and make Iraq very convenient for a new Iranian government, a Shi‘ite-dominated government. And that‘s basically what‘s happened.
OLBERMANN: Sooner or later, if you deal with faith-based facts, you‘re going to trip on something. National security expert James Bamford, great thanks for joining us tonight.
BAMFORD: My pleasure, Keith.