Saturday, December 18, 2004


According to Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), Iranians plan to crash airliners into New Hampshire's Seabrook nuclear plant. However, state and plant officals discount the reports.

Al Griffith, spokesman for Seabrook Station, said he’s not sure why this issue is resurfacing now, nearly two years after he first responded to media inquiries about threats against nuclear power plants.
It's resurfacing now because Weldon claims to have secret information from a former official of the Shah's regime, whom he refers to - imaginatively enough - as "Ali." He claims to have gone to the CIA with the information, and to a Senate intelligence oversight panel, and to have been rebuffed. It's no surprise, therefore, that as the New York Sun reports:
[T]he new book from Mr. Weldon, based in part on his meetings with Ali, will provide fresh ammunition for the Republicans against an intelligence community perceived by the White House as hostile to the president's policies.
The Sun article goes on to take a thinly veiled position of advocacy for Weldon's claims, noting that
[I]f Mr. Weldon's source turns out to be right, America could also be losing a valuable intelligence asset on Iran, a country where most intelligence analysts in America concede the CIA has too few human sources. The congressman's experience with America's spy service in the last year echoes frustrations from other American officials and analysts who have cultivated Iranians willing to provide America with intelligence, but who have been ignored.
Now, you can't make a claim like that without giving an example, so naturally the Sun complies:
After a December 2001 meeting in Rome between Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin and Iran-Contra figure Manucher Ghorbanifar, the State Department and CIA went out of their way to shut down the channel. Mr. Franklin is now the target of a grand jury investigation into alleged espionage activities for passing information to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
These are very deep waters indeed; you can judge for yourself whether this is a good example of the CIA mishandling intelligence matters.

In any case, I don't believe in this "Ali." Weldon was intimately involved with the Rumsfeld Missile Defense Commission, which heavily overstated the threat of an Iranian attack on U.S. soil. And as one of Washington's most avid sucklers at the teat of the defense industry (Boeing, in particular) he's been a consistent scaremonger about every other apocryphal danger that could possibly justify increased defense spending.

Also, Weldon has a more personal gripe with the CIA and the State Department:
Karen Weldon, an inexperienced 29-year-old lobbyist from suburban Philadelphia, seemed an unlikely choice for clients seeking global public relations services. Yet her tiny firm was selected last year for a plum $240,000 contract to promote the good works of a wealthy Serbian family that had been linked to accused war criminal Slobodan Milosevic.

Despite a lack of professional credentials, she had one notable asset — her father, U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), who is a leading voice in Washington on former Eastern Bloc affairs. She got the contract after he championed the efforts of two family members, Dragomir and Bogoljub Karic, to win U.S. visas from the State Department, which so far has refused them entry.


Intelligence officials warned Weldon that the brothers were too close to Milosevic, who is accused of leading the "ethnic cleansing" in the former Yugoslav federation.
But the congressman has praised the Karics, who own a vast empire of banking, telecommunication and other firms, as model business leaders and humanitarians. He has portrayed them as victims of faulty intelligence reports and, last month, asked the CIA to sit down with them and sort things out. He has repeatedly pressed the State Department to give them visas.


Thersites said...

Ghorbanifar... there's a name you can never hear enough....

Eli said...

Is "Ali" short for "Curvebali"?