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Zimmerman Telegram 2.0?
October 11, 2011 1:00 PM   Subscribe

Following a months-long investigation, the Department of Justice has announced the existence of a well-funded plot "conceived, sponsored and directed" by "high-ranking members of the Iranian government" to assassinate Saudi Arabian ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir on U.S. soil in conjunction with informants in Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas. The "Hollywood" plot, revealed in an afternoon press conference and described in a detailed 21-page complaint [PDF], is alleged to have involved an attack on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C. One suspect, naturalized American citizen Arbab Arbabsiar, has been arrested, while co-conspirator and Quds Force member Gholam Shakuri remains at large. Iranian officials were quick to label the charges a "fabrication" intended to distract from America's economic troubles.
posted by Rhaomi (251 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, this is nuts.
posted by josher71 at 1:02 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Um, sorry Iran, but it's going to take more than an assassination plot to take peoples' attention off the fact that There Are No Fucking Jobs.
posted by tommasz at 1:04 PM on October 11, 2011 [21 favorites]


"And ladies and gentlemen, that's why I need 7 trillion dollars to built a gigantic robot spider to invade Tehran."
posted by The Whelk at 1:06 PM on October 11, 2011 [42 favorites]


Is it just me, or does this whole "Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil with the help of Mexican drug gangs" thing sound a lot like some sort of Tom Tancredo fever dream?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:08 PM on October 11, 2011 [20 favorites]


"Iran, therefore I am at large." --Gholam Shakuri
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:08 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


"And ladies and gentlemen, that's why I need 7 trillion dollars to built a gigantic robot spider to invade Tehran."

Did you just reference Wild, Wild West?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:09 PM on October 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


Are we sure the whole thing wasn't planned by the FBI? I'm just saying.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:09 PM on October 11, 2011


Count Four: Conspiracy to Use a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

Hmmm, where have I seen this before?
posted by three blind mice at 1:10 PM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm sure the American response will be completely proportional and not involve years of war, the deaths of thousands of innocents, and trillions of dollars in defense spending.
posted by ghharr at 1:12 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Are we sure the whole thing wasn't planned by the FBI? I'm just saying.

Given the track record on these kinds of things, that has to be the first assumption.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:13 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can't differentiate real news from the Onion. Please tell me this is not real.
posted by Renoroc at 1:13 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


On the plus side I don't think we have the money to go to war with Iran. That's seems to be the only thing stopping us.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:14 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the plus side I don't think we have the money to go to war with Iran.

Oh, silly, we always have the money to go to war. We just don't have the money to help people.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:15 PM on October 11, 2011 [50 favorites]


In many works of fiction, there are plots by US or Russian high ranking generals acting on their own initiative to create incidents that will reboot the Cold War and keep them in business. I wonder if some kind of similar sentiment was going on here. Rogue operatives with a fair amount of resources at their disposal trying to foment discord with the US and KSA because they see a possible thaw in relations on the horizon and didn't want to lose their position in the regime. That's assuming there is any validity to the charges, of course.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:16 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sure the American response will be completely proportional and not involve years of war, the deaths of thousands of innocents, and trillions of dollars in defense spending.

Yeah I don't think we're going to invade Iran either.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 1:16 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I am at large, I threaten multitudes." --Gholam Shakuri

If only all this were unbelievable.
posted by jamjam at 1:17 PM on October 11, 2011


I have friends who relocated to Tehran with their children a year or so ago. Iran seems like a relatively nice place to live. I hope the US doesn't decide to bomb the shit out of it.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:17 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look on the bright side.

This means you guys are obviously winning the war on drugs now - the Mexican drug lords are having to take part time jobs.
posted by garius at 1:17 PM on October 11, 2011 [19 favorites]


the Mexican drug lords are having to take part time jobs.

Only in the same way that having a seat on the boards of directors of two separate companies is a part-time job.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:20 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Actually, the bright side is that Adult Supervision means that terror threats were taken seriously and dealt with before we lost a couple of national landmarks and a decade's worth of prosperity down the maw of endless war.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:20 PM on October 11, 2011 [15 favorites]


If only there was some way to massively cut the revenue going to the cartels.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:20 PM on October 11, 2011 [21 favorites]


The Rand Corporation domestic terrorist cell… in conjunction with the saucer people Mexican drug cartels… under the supervision of the reverse vampires Iranian government.....
posted by Challahtronix at 1:22 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is it just me, or does this whole "Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil with the help of Mexican drug gangs" thing sound a lot like some sort of Tom Tancredo fever dream?


Exactly. It's just a little too tidy, isn't it? Alas, while there is discord at home, the foreign policy arm of the US Gov't goes nutzo.
posted by rhizome at 1:22 PM on October 11, 2011


In many works of fiction, there are plots by US or Russian high ranking generals acting on their own initiative to create incidents that will reboot the Cold War and keep them in business.

Yeah, I'm reminded of this guy.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:23 PM on October 11, 2011


> Are we sure the whole thing wasn't planned by the FBI?

From the article: "The complaint alleges that those (men connected to a Mexican drug cartel, hired to carry out the killing - egor83) were in fact confidential sources of the Drug Enforcement Agency"

So, DEA rather than FBI... or is it FBI disguised as DEA?
posted by egor83 at 1:24 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ahem. OK, here's what we've got: the Rand Corporation, in conjunction with the saucer people...

Thank you.

...under the supervision of the reverse vampires, are forcing our parents to go to bed early in a fiendish plot to eliminate the meal of dinner. We're through the looking glass, here, people...

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:24 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Iran seems like a relatively nice place to live.

Relative to where, exactly?
posted by yerfatma at 1:24 PM on October 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Right. Do not ever trust the US govt. But Iran has the truth, always.
posted by Postroad at 1:25 PM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm at a disadvantage here - not being Evil and crafty like our swarthy nemeses. But wouldn't attacking both the Saudi and Israeli embassies sort of cancel each other out - provocation-wise?
posted by Trurl at 1:25 PM on October 11, 2011



"Iran, but the FBI says I cannot hide." --Gholam Shakuri
posted by dazed_one at 1:26 PM on October 11, 2011


Right. Do not ever trust the US govt. But Iran has the truth, always.

Do not pass snark. Go directly to a couple illegal wars started over a complete fucking lie.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:26 PM on October 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil with the help of Mexican drug gangs"

I help defend with the Orbital Mind Control Lasers and 5 megabucks.
posted by eriko at 1:27 PM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Hmmm, where have I seen this before?

In my pants...
posted by stenseng at 1:27 PM on October 11, 2011


Are we sure that this isn't a viral campaign for Die Hard 5 or possibly Last Action Hero 2?
posted by entropicamericana at 1:28 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sure the American response will be completely proportional and not involve years of war, the deaths of thousands of innocents, and trillions of dollars in defense spending.

If true, this undoubtedly rises to the level of an act of war by Iran, and I would expect a carefully targeted military response -- which had better damn well be limited to clear military targets -- with the Arab League possibly on board.

If true. I said, if true.
posted by spitbull at 1:29 PM on October 11, 2011


Did you just reference Wild, Wild West?

Did you just recognise a Wild, Wild West reference?
posted by biffa at 1:31 PM on October 11, 2011 [18 favorites]


Free Hoder!
posted by humanfont at 1:31 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah I don't think we're going to invade Iran either.

Brought to you by McCain not being president.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:31 PM on October 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


Right. Do not ever trust the US govt. But Iran has the truth, always.

C'mon Postroad.

1. We've been down this same road with the U.S. gov't before: "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

2. It is no secret that war with Iran is at the top of the Christmas list of every neo-con in the country.

What Iran says is irrelevant.
posted by three blind mice at 1:32 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


"And ladies and gentlemen, that's why I need 7 trillion dollars to built a gigantic robot spider to invade Tehran."

> Did you just reference Wild, Wild West?


Come on, if someone wanted to build a gigantic steampunk warmachine, they don't need to ask the government for the money, they can just put it on Kickstarter and BoingBoing and they'd have 10 trillion by Friday.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:32 PM on October 11, 2011 [21 favorites]


"And Iran, Iran so far away." --Gholam Shakuri

oh come on people, it was obvious.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:32 PM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Gholam, is that anything like Golem?
posted by ahimsakid at 1:33 PM on October 11, 2011


So this was planned by Iran and Mexico - applying the same right wing loon logic we got after 9-11 can I assume we will soon be hearing calls to bomb both Tehran and Mexico City?
posted by biffa at 1:33 PM on October 11, 2011


Can someone who knows more than I do explain why the Saudi embassy would be a target for Iran? Is this a case of Sunni-Shiite antagonism? Iranian resentment of Saudi prominence in the middle east, particularly vis a vis the oil economy?
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 1:34 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm at a disadvantage here - not being Evil and crafty like our swarthy nemeses. But wouldn't attacking both the Saudi and Israeli embassies sort of cancel each other out - provocation-wise?

you might want to read up on Saudi- Iranian relations before snarking.
posted by JPD at 1:36 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'll bet this is welcome news to the Saudis; it will be a nice distraction from former Senator Bob Graham's calls to reopen the investigation into possible Saudi connections to 9/11.
posted by homunculus at 1:36 PM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Is this a case of Sunni-Shiite antagonism? Iranian resentment of Saudi prominence in the middle east, particularly vis a vis the oil economy?

Yes and yes. It's great when religion and geopolitics work to enhance neighbours' hatred of each other. And by great I mean potentially awful.

I imagine that this assassination attempt is payback for the Saudis' assistance in the sabotage of the Iranian nuclear program, but what do I know?
posted by Dasein at 1:37 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Go directly to a couple illegal wars started over a complete fucking lie.

I was going to say Iraq isn't relevant when we had the CIA overthrowing a democratically elected goverment in Iran.

But then I remembered our selling chemical weapons to Saddam Hussein because he was waging war against Iran.

In short, postroad, if you're posing the rhetorical question of whether the US isn't more trustworthy than Iran, you're not going to like the answer.
posted by Trurl at 1:38 PM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Will someone tell me when the US starts military action in Iran? I'd like to take that opportunity to craw into bed and die of WTF.
posted by giraffe at 1:38 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or crawl. Whatever.
posted by giraffe at 1:38 PM on October 11, 2011


In many works of fiction, there are plots by US or Russian high ranking generals acting on their own initiative to create incidents that will reboot the Cold War and keep them in business.

NORAD Tunes Into Drug War (AP, 1990)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:39 PM on October 11, 2011


Can someone who knows more than I do explain why the Saudi embassy would be a target for Iran? Is this a case of Sunni-Shiite antagonism? Iranian resentment of Saudi prominence in the middle east, particularly vis a vis the oil economy?

This is like a proxy intelligence war over Bahrain, which is itself something of a proxy conflict for the Iran and Saud. They are the two spheres of influence in the region and with the air smelling of "revolution" they seem to be poking each other's hives lately.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:40 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


When I read the post, it seemed to me the MeFi snark wind could blow one of two ways:

1) "Of course it's a lie because America is the only evil I can believe in."
2) "Thank God Obama's in charge now foiling assassination plots with hope and change."

The former appears to have won pretty decisively. It might be time to sell your Obama stock.*

* If you're part of the 99% please ignore this last comment -- you're not supposed to know about owning shares of politicians.
posted by The Tensor at 1:41 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Interesting that this news comes out on the same day that the Attorney General may be subpoenaed by Congress for possibly lying about his knowledge of a controversial program that involved allowing weapons to end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:44 PM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


correction -- the subpoena would seek additional documents on the program, but would not focus on the possibility the AG Holder perjured himself in earlier testimony.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:46 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is like a proxy intelligence war over Bahrain, which is itself something of a proxy conflict for the Iran and Saud. They are the two spheres of influence in the region and with the air smelling of "revolution" they seem to be poking each other's hives lately.

Also, it's my understanding that, with U.S. mediation, Israel and Saudi Arabia have become more willing to cooperate with each other against Iran. Iran wouldn't like the idea of their forming anything resembling an alliance, though it seems to me that an attack against them both like this would only cement such a relationship.
posted by homunculus at 1:47 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you're like me and didn't catch the reference in the post title, the Wikipedia article on the original Zimmerman Telegram is fascinating.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:49 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


you might want to read up on Saudi- Iranian relations before snarking

It was a sincere question - based on the assumption that the alleged plotters wanted someone other than Iran to get blamed for assassinating the Saudi ambassador.

If it's just "Iran hates both Saudi Arabia and Israel and will openly attack both of them", it seems like there are other places to do that where they'd have a greater chance of success.
posted by Trurl at 1:52 PM on October 11, 2011


Many interesting and some odd comments. Why not wait to see if we are going to war with iran"? before declaring we are going to?
Mexican drug gang: One man involved said the would be bombers were led to Mexican gang to divert attention and afford cover to Iran govt, which, if discovered would be major international outrage.
And yes, we have lied many times but that does not mean that every time a terror plot is discovered it is a govt lie. Why not wait till there is evidence, a trial, and proof instead of assuming Am always lies.
The Saudis and Iran have been having proxy war for some time. It may not even be the Iranian govt but rather the Republican Guard, doing this on its own. Again, why rush to judgement?
We have a persps who are caught, cooperate and pretend they are still in the game while the US Govt works them to get evidence. But wait every one is lying and the perps will not stand trial because they are part of the US scheme to begin a war with Iran because well we are withdrawing troops from Iraq and so might as well begin a new war. We have lots of money for more wars
posted by Postroad at 1:53 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


"And ladies and gentlemen, that's why I need 7 trillion dollars to built a gigantic robot spider to invade Tehran."

I am entirely against us getting into another war...but if we were to do it with a gigantic robot spider, I might be persuaded to go along with it.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:56 PM on October 11, 2011


Will someone tell me when the US starts military action in Iran?

Not going to happen. The U.S. has learned enough from Iraq and Afghanistan to know that it doesn't need another all-out shooting war in the Mideast, certainly not with Iran, which has immensely more ability to hurt the U.S. than Iraq ever did. Hell, even Bush didn't want to fight Iran, and you can bet neither Obama nor Romney are going to be interested.
posted by Dasein at 1:57 PM on October 11, 2011


Oh, silly, we always have the money to go to war. We just don't have the money to help people.

If they'd just help themselves they wouldn't have problems, it's not the government's job. Herman Cain told me so.
posted by inigo2 at 1:58 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Come on, if someone wanted to build a gigantic steampunk warmachine, they don't need to ask the government for the money, they can just put it on Kickstarter and BoingBoing and they'd have 10 trillion by Friday.

I now have a purpose in life. Supervillian funded by kickstater. ;)
Note, all my plans to take over the world won't actually be dangerous or life threatening, just mind boggling crazy. For example, i'd make the villains in the old Batman show look sane. ;)

(now if only reality was this fun, instead we get dead people in wars for no reason. My world can be so much better)
posted by usagizero at 1:59 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


So this was planned by Iran and Mexico - applying the same right wing loon logic we got after 9-11 can I assume we will soon be hearing calls to bomb both Tehran and Mexico City?

No using 9/11 logic we will be tearing down statues in Managua next spring.
posted by one_bean at 2:00 PM on October 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


No using 9/11 logic we will be tearing down statues in Managua next spring.

You're not familiar with the concept of state sponsorship, I take it?
posted by Dasein at 2:04 PM on October 11, 2011


Again, why rush to judgement?

Well there is rushing to judgement, and then there is a rush to keep a healthy skepticism about the motives of the American government with respect to Iran.
posted by three blind mice at 2:05 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Iranian officials were quick to label the charges a "fabrication" intended to distract from America's economic troubles.

Iran kind of has it's own problems it would probably quite like to distract from.
posted by Artw at 2:05 PM on October 11, 2011


Can someone who knows more than I do explain why the Saudi embassy would be a target for Iran?

Sure, I'll take a shot at this. The Saudi Embassy would be a target for Iran because the entire federal domestic law enforcement industry, DOJ, DEA, ATF and FBI, are all mobbed up in the Fast & Furious operations and they need to shunt the spotlight over to some tried and true bogiemen. Hope this helps.
posted by rhizome at 2:11 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


The U.S. has learned enough from Iraq and Afghanistan to know that it doesn't need another all-out shooting war in the Mideast...

Thanks to the miracle of Drone Technology®, all-out shooting wars are a thing of the past!
posted by Trurl at 2:13 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, thank the gods that ATF gave the guns to the Sinaloa cartel instead of Los Zetas. In a way though, that means the ATF's Fast and Furious was an attempt to thwart Los Zetas and Iran by giving the Sinaloa cartel guns. Sure, the Sinaloa cartel used some of those guns to kill US Customs and Border Patrol agents, Mexican cops/military and Mexican civilians. Omelets sometimes require broken eggs. Reagan taught us that in Iran/Contra. Where it was the sales of arms to Iran...
posted by birdherder at 2:14 PM on October 11, 2011


That Wikipedia link says F&F was out to build a gun-buying case against the cartels... I really don't understand this. Isn't there already enough of a case against them on the grounds of murder, drug trafficking & such?

You would think that the real effort should be put toward figuring out where all those guns come FROM. I mean how many people out there are really cranking out assault rifles, and how many channels are there? Sure, probably more than a few, but it's gotta be fewer than the number of people manufacturing & shipping all the drugs.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:19 PM on October 11, 2011


Can someone explain to me why killing the ambassador from another country on our soil is, somehow, an attack on our country?

Wouldn't it be easier to kill one of our ambassadors in a foreign country, and wouldn't that be a little more to the point?

Don't get the wrong idea, I guess I don't understand the international subterfuge process as well as others. I'm being serious, could someone explain how this would hurt the US?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:24 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


MOAR FUNDING FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT AND SECURITY
posted by Xoebe at 2:24 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's a classic terror move. Basically the idea is "you can't protect your allies in your own back yard, why should they believe you'll protect them in ours?"
posted by feloniousmonk at 2:28 PM on October 11, 2011


I mean how many people out there are really cranking out assault rifles, and how many channels are there?


Every nation, and I mean every nation, with a manufacturing base builds and exports mil-spec assault weapons. Which are bought by military and law enforcement personnel in Mexico, who are corrupted, blackmailed or otherwise coerced into handing them over.

Handguns are cheaper to buy from the 'States, as they're cheaper and more available, as they're usually stolen from people who like to collect and keep guns, usually while they're at work or away for the weekend, by unarmed burglars looking for something to sell for meth money.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:29 PM on October 11, 2011


Obama just declared to the world that assassination was cool and it was perfectly fine and dandy to assassinate anyone you thought was the enemy of your nation.

We should be surprised that other nations are following his lead in the glorious new age of assassination being super great and legal?

I'm confident that all the defenders of Obama's policy of assassination will try to claim that somehow since it was Iran in this case there's no way we can reasonably compare the situations.

To them I say this: the policy you defend is now being used **EXACTLY AS I PREDICTED IT WOULD** by other, not nice, people. The US has no grounds to object to Iran's actions because Obama destroyed those grounds by assassinating Awlaki. I think the world you are helping create is a very unpleasant place indeed.
posted by sotonohito at 2:29 PM on October 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


So far it's pretty light-handed response -- sanctions and frozen assets, as it's "much more of a law-enforcement matter." Formal charges even!

I'm sure there are diplomatic reasons for this posture, but I'm interested to see how much due process we're willing to give suspected terrorists, and what justifications we give for it being an act of crime vs. an act of war. Especially when we seem willing to assassinate our own citizens in the name of the latter.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:31 PM on October 11, 2011


So let me gather together the conspiracy theories being bandied about here:

We know that we can't trust the U.S. government so they're lying. The REAL goal is to start a war with Iran as the neocons (who are apaprently still in power) want. But why? Why, at the behest of (or at least for the benefit of) Saudi Arabia to draw attention away from former Senator Bob Graham calling to reopen the investigation into possible Saudi connections to 9/11. Also, to distract from the scandal engulfing the entire federal law enforcement community. Also, to distract from AG Holder's Congressional subpeona. Also, reverse vampires.

Am I getting all of it?

Can someone explain to me why killing the ambassador from another country on our soil is, somehow, an attack on our country?

It's a direct violation of U.S. sovereignty. Hopeully the irony from Osama and others isn't lost.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:33 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, yeah a bizarre story, but there we're supposed to believe the Iranian Government? Run by this guy? Who was democratically elected? Really?
posted by tommyD at 2:36 PM on October 11, 2011


So this was planned by Iran and Mexico - applying the same right wing loon logic we got after 9-11 can I assume we will soon be hearing calls to bomb both Tehran and Mexico City?

No, by right wing loon logic, we'd invade Portugal.
posted by eriko at 2:38 PM on October 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


**EXACTLY AS I PREDICTED IT WOULD**

I'm thinking that with available information, political assassinations have been a core business of the up and coming freelance terrorist for many, many years. Low overhead, easy target, plausible deniability. Martyrdom if you fail, legend if you succeed. Aside from the whole Franz Ferdinand thing, rarely is the status quo upset beyond violence of retribution, but it helps in seeding chaos which is ultimately what the terrorist seeks as it is their only method of securing a bargaining chip with either their enemy, sponsor or both.

Mexican Cartel? Please.
posted by jsavimbi at 2:40 PM on October 11, 2011


i'm guessing world war wouldn't benefit the 99%.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:43 PM on October 11, 2011


will try to claim that somehow since it was Iran in this case there's no way we can reasonably compare the situations

Let me introduce you to my friend American Exceptionalism...
posted by Trurl at 2:49 PM on October 11, 2011


as a side note, I am very surprised our government, as it is, is going to prosecute this through the criminal courts. Won't this require them to reveal "secret" evidence?

I'm not very charitable, but this does seem like a publicity stunt and a method of disseminating propaganda.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:49 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're not familiar with the concept of state sponsorship, I take it?

Of terrorism? You have evidence that Iraq was sponsoring bin Laden?
posted by Hoopo at 2:50 PM on October 11, 2011


how many people out there are really cranking out assault rifles, and how many channels are there? Sure, probably more than a few, but it's gotta be fewer than the number of people manufacturing & shipping all the drugs.

I doubt it. Anyone with a halfway-decent machine shop can make the key components (the serial-numbered, controlled parts) of a modern military rifle; the rest of the pieces can be bought off-the-shelf. In my quiet suburban town I can think of a dozen places, ranging from particularly sophisticated hobbyists to actual machine shops to places like motorcycle shops that just happen to also have machine tools, that would be capable of turning out a machine gun if they really wanted to. People don't do this (often) in the US because stealing them from the civilian market is easier, but in places like Afghanistan there's a whole industry involved in black market firearms manufacture.

Opiates might be easier to 'manufacture' in a very rural, low-technology area, if you assume access to poppy seeds. Same with marijuana and other plant-based pharmaceuticals. Synthetic drugs require access to precursors. Manufacturing your own modern (smokeless) gunpowder is probably about the same level of difficulty, but that's not done because it's not exactly in short supply.

I really think it's the other way around; if you can't stop the manufacture and trafficking of complex organic compounds that are only produced by a very few particular species of plants and then have to be concentrated using industrial processes, or have to be produced directly from complex industrial-chemical precursors, you're never going to do anything about something as relatively simple as firearms.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:51 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmmm, Iranian banksters hiding in plain sight in Canada + innocent Canadian bloggers in chains in Tehran... can we talk?
posted by dash_slot- at 2:52 PM on October 11, 2011


So let me gather together the conspiracy theories being bandied about here:

We know that we can't trust the U.S. government so they're lying. The REAL goal is to start a war with Iran as the neocons (who are apaprently still in power) want. But why? Why, at the behest of (or at least for the benefit of) Saudi Arabia to draw attention away from former Senator Bob Graham calling to reopen the investigation into possible Saudi connections to 9/11.


No, that's bullshit. I never said that this done at the behest of or for the benefit of the Saudis. I do think this news is fortuitous for them, but I have no reason to think they're behind it. The only conspiracy here is the one you just made up.
posted by homunculus at 2:56 PM on October 11, 2011


>Iran seems like a relatively nice place to live.

Relative to where, exactly?


That's a hard question to answer. Either you're interested in living in a different culture, or you're not. Obviously it's not as nice as, say Honolulu, but, from what my friends tell me, it sure seems to be a lot better than Detroit.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:59 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


You're not familiar with the concept of state sponsorship, I take it?

Are you really defending the first failed pretext for the Iraq war? There was virtually no evidence Iraq had any significant role in 9/11 or sponsoring Al Qaeda. That's why they went to plan B, remember, "weapons of mass destruction" and all that?

Afghanistan wasn't even a "state sponsor" of terrorism. It provided a safe harbor for Al Qaeda, which is arguably "sponsorship," but there was no evidence the Taliban was using AQ to attack the US by proxy.

Arguably, too, the US has been a "state sponsor of terrorism" at numerous points in its history. El Salvador comes immediately to mind. Training the secret militias of totalitarian regimes (think School of the Americas) ain't peach ice cream either.
posted by spitbull at 3:01 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gholam at large somewhere across the Globus...
posted by stenseng at 3:02 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obviously it's not as nice as, say Honolulu, but, from what my friends tell me, it sure seems to be a lot better than Detroit.

This again? Jesus Christ.
posted by joe lisboa at 3:02 PM on October 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


What is this this you are referring to? Sorry, I honestly don't know. You can always take to MetaTalk to, if you seem to have a continued problem with what I write on this site.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:04 PM on October 11, 2011


That should be "take it to MetaTalk if you have a continual problem with what I write on this site>"
posted by KokuRyu at 3:04 PM on October 11, 2011


Please take it to each other, not MetaTalk.
posted by mykescipark at 3:05 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


No, that's bullshit. I never said that this done at the behest of or for the benefit of the Saudis. I do think this news is fortuitous for them, but I have no reason to think they're behind it. The only conspiracy here is the one you just made up.
homunculus

Your comment strongly insinuated it, which was my point.

This thread is full of these "Isn't it convenient that this happened right when X/Y/Z!" What exactly are we supposed to take from all these comments? If you're not saying that there's a relationship, then why even bring it up except to obviously insinuate something?
posted by Sangermaine at 3:06 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Iran is a beautiful -- really, gorgeous -- country with an ancient and extraordinary culture and some of the most impressive educational institutions and artistic traditions in the Islamic world even under a state of intense oppression. I have long, long wanted to visit and get to know the place better. The Iranians I have known in the US have almost to a one been very intelligent, thoughtful, civil people.

It's also under the bootheel of a totalitarian religious-nationalist regime that instills terror in its own citizens and wreaks havoc abroad. Some large number of Iranians are identified with that regime, but my sense is it isn't a majority, and certainly not a majority of the educated youth who led the rebellions last year and were brutally suppressed, lest we forget.
posted by spitbull at 3:06 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's also under the bootheel of a totalitarian religious-nationalist regime that instills terror in its own citizens and wreaks havoc abroad.

This sounds vaguely familiar...
posted by Trurl at 3:12 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh come on now, that is facile. Assuming you mean to implicate a comparison with the US, the US is fucked up in a big way, but it is not even close to being as totalitarian as Iran, and to say so trivializes the heinous state of human rights in Iran.
posted by spitbull at 3:18 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


when it comes to our own citizens, sure the USA has a much better track record than Iran, but when it comes to just people worldwide... well, perhaps if Iran had the power we had they would be worse, but that is a hypothetical.
posted by Shit Parade at 3:21 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


the US is fucked up in a big way, but it is not even close to being as totalitarian as Iran

To the best of my knowledge, they do convict their citizens at trial before executing them.
posted by Trurl at 3:27 PM on October 11, 2011


it is not even close to being as totalitarian as Iran

Can't say we're not making an effort, lately, though. Assassinations. Illegal wiretaps. Corporations making laws. Free speech zones. Endless drug wars. Overflowing prisons. But we're not living in a fascist state!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:27 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I invite you to go express your opinions to Iranian leaders. I am well aware of the beauty and history of Iran and other Gulf States, but to pretend life there is comparable to life in the West because the people are nice and they have lots of history there bespeaks a stunning amount of naivete or obtuseness.
posted by yerfatma at 3:28 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


To the best of my knowledge, they do convict their citizens at trial before executing them.

Snark is fine, but this is really almost offensive given that a particular well-respected MeFite is in an Iranian prison for blogging.

I am no apologist for the US, but the idea that the Iranian justice system is generically more fair than the US (or any other western nation's) is absurd on its face. You really need to learn more about Iran before proceeding down this false equivalence path.
posted by spitbull at 3:40 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


yerfatma, I am hoping that wasn't directed at me. I praised the beauty of Iran and the admirable qualities of its people in direct contrast to damning its totalitarian government. I wasn't saying the former mitigated the latter.
posted by spitbull at 3:41 PM on October 11, 2011


But we're not living in a fascist state!

We are definitely further over on the bad side of that spectrum than we once were, although we've been worse in the past, too, if you think about it. I concur with your entire list of concerns, and as a parent I worry about it all the time.

But really, you can go to jail for years in Iran for saying the kind of shit people post here all the time with impunity. You can be hung for being gay. Ask any Iranian abroad. The comparison is hyperbole at best, insulting to the bravery of Iranian dissidents at worst.
posted by spitbull at 3:45 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The comparison is hyperbole at best, insulting to the bravery of Iranian dissidents at worst.

I'd agree that a straight-up apples-to-apples equivalence between Iran and the United States is probably not correct.

But there are increasingly more similarities than dissimilarities, and we'd do ourselves and future generations a disservice if we didn't pay attention to the glaring, brightly-flashing, incredibly obvious warning signs in front of our faces.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:50 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


If I had a choice between being a minority in either country, the choice is obvious.

But really this argument is absurd. If you want to equate Awlaki to the executing of people for apostasy or homosexuality, or that the Patriot Act is somehow on a moral equivalency with the state powers in Iran, then...

I sincerly urge you to get on a plane. Educate yourself.
posted by rosswald at 3:54 PM on October 11, 2011


I sincerly urge you to get on a plane.

Ah... "love it or leave it".

The classics never go out of style.
posted by Trurl at 4:02 PM on October 11, 2011


Our global war on terror has resulted in about 600,000 civilian deaths. America is no angel. And who wouldn't be cynical of our government after Iraq and Syria?
posted by Shit Parade at 4:04 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have found that most airlines sell these type of tickets: "round-trip."

Though hopefully you will have better luck getting back then Shane Bauer et. all
posted by rosswald at 4:06 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


It is true, our legally codified oppression of homosexuals is less severe.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:07 PM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


From the article: "The complaint alleges that those (men connected to a Mexican drug cartel, hired to carry out the killing - egor83) were in fact confidential sources of the Drug Enforcement Agency"

So, DEA rather than FBI... or is it FBI disguised as DEA?


egor83 noted this signficant fact. I'm surprised no one else has.

This whole "sting" sounds (once again) like some incompetent wanna-bes got roped into some stupid plan by government agents anxious to arrest anyone for anything.

Iranian officials were quick to label the charges a "fabrication" intended to distract from America's economic troubles.

If this is the best fabrication our government can do, I am suddenly unconcerned about its ability to fabricate.

Unless this is of course an obfuscatory fabrication designed to distract investigators from the important fabrications ...

I think it's a classic terror move. Basically the idea is "you can't protect your allies in your own back yard, why should they believe you'll protect them in ours?"

Why would they pick an ally ... that 99% (ahem) of us could not name? Why not pick an American? Any American.

The mob is about to storm Wall Street. Who the hell cares about the Saudi Arabian ambassador?
posted by mrgrimm at 4:15 PM on October 11, 2011


Again, who's calling America an "angel" here? I spend much of my time on this site criticizing my country, for which I sometimes despair. But given the choice of, say, Indianapolis or Tehran to live as a free person? Are you kidding?

As various folks are saying, most recently rosswald above, the comparison is specious. Millions of Iranians yearn for the freedoms most of us take for granted.
posted by spitbull at 4:15 PM on October 11, 2011


And who wouldn't be cynical of our government after Iraq and Syria

Did you mean Afghanistan instead of Syria, or are you just mad at Robert Ford?
posted by rosswald at 4:16 PM on October 11, 2011


Does Hitch have one more war in him?
posted by Trurl at 4:24 PM on October 11, 2011


my mistake, I meant Libya.
posted by Shit Parade at 4:27 PM on October 11, 2011


... My world can be so much better)


at least you are thinking like a supervillian.
posted by Hicksu at 4:35 PM on October 11, 2011


I was going to snarkily feign outrage, but instead I'll beg one hundred reiterations of this:

Obama just declared to the world that assassination was cool and it was perfectly fine and dandy to assassinate anyone you thought was the enemy of your nation.

We should be surprised that other nations are following his lead in the glorious new age of assassination being super great and legal?

I'm confident that all the defenders of Obama's policy of assassination will try to claim that somehow since it was Iran in this case there's no way we can reasonably compare the situations.

To them I say this: the policy you defend is now being used **EXACTLY AS I PREDICTED IT WOULD** by other, not nice, people. The US has no grounds to object to Iran's actions because Obama destroyed those grounds by assassinating Awlaki. I think the world you are helping create is a very unpleasant place indeed.

posted by threeants at 4:36 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah... "love it or leave it".

No, no, by all means, don't leave. Just go to Iran, distribute some pamphelts on how the mullahs are repressive and theocracy is an outrage; have a chat with some dissidents, that sort of thing. If the Iranians let you leave, I think your position will have a lot more credibility.
posted by Dasein at 4:38 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The US has no grounds to object to Iran's actions because Obama destroyed those grounds by assassinating Awlaki.

Awlaki was a terrorist who could not be apprehended. The legal memos authorizing his killing made clear that if it were feasible to arrest him, then he couldn't be killed. The Yemeni government admitted that it was unable to arrest him. The day the U.S. says that it's allowed to assassinate ambassadors of unfriendly countries just because, let me know.
posted by Dasein at 4:41 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


If the Iranians let you leave, I think your position will have a lot more credibility.

You've persuaded me.

Let "We're Still Not As Bad As Iran!" become our rallying cry for the 21st Century.

Doesn't it just make you feel flush with pride?
posted by Trurl at 4:42 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


...gotta go big, sweep it all in, things related and unrelated, Canada, too?
posted by ennui.bz at 4:43 PM on October 11, 2011


The legal memos authorizing his killing

LOL. You must be an important person to have read those secret memos. But perhaps you just mean the hearsay reported by "anonymous" leaks via newspapers?
posted by Shit Parade at 4:44 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


The legal memos authorizing his killing made clear that if it were feasible to arrest him, then he couldn't be killed. The Yemeni government admitted that it was unable to arrest him.

Really? You've read them? Please inform the NYT that their FOIA lawsuit will no longer be required.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:46 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


The day the U.S. says that it's allowed to assassinate ambassadors of unfriendly countries just because, let me know.

here you go
posted by Shit Parade at 4:46 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Good thing Iran doesn't have lawyers that can write secret memos justifying the assassination of the Saudi ambassador or else that shit would have been, like, totally legal.
posted by Trurl at 4:46 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Even money that US intelligence was involved with hatching this one too.
posted by onesidys at 5:07 PM on October 11, 2011


You'll probably get better odds with the Mossad
posted by rosswald at 5:13 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, is it October already?
posted by EarBucket at 5:25 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are we sure that this isn't a viral campaign for Die Hard 5 or possibly Last Action Hero 2?

I sure hope it is. Has there been a single action movie gag that beats 'a couple of acres'?
posted by Anything at 5:36 PM on October 11, 2011


Are we sure that this isn't a viral campaign for Die Hard 5

Remember how America felt about itself in 1988 when Die Hard came out?

The difference between that and how America feels about itself now makes me think of how Bruce Willis looked in 1988 and how he looks now.

posted by Trurl at 6:03 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


The comparison is hyperbole at best, insulting to the bravery of Iranian dissidents at worst.
Well, they seem to have good food and nice neighbourhoods, great family life, that sort of thing. Mind you, I only know this from what my friends tell me. They seem happy enough there. Persian culture (which predates the Iranian revolution) seems fascinating.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:04 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, they seem to have good food and nice neighbourhoods, great family life, that sort of thing.

In its double-length coverage, the NPR reporter interrupted his high level summarizing of the story to focus on what he promised would be a dramatic piece of detail: the moment where the plotter, upon being told by the government stooge he was trying to hire that the proposed bombing of a DC restaurant frequented by the Saudi ambassador might kill 100 innocent civilians, said, "That doesn't matter" - or similar words equally indifferent to the prospect. (Then when wrapping up the piece, the reporter mentioned the "doesn't matter" detail again.)

I don't know if a society as normal - as far as political circumstances permit - as the one you're describing could produce such a monstrous fiend.
posted by Trurl at 6:19 PM on October 11, 2011


I'm cautiously hopeful that American has actually caught it's first real Islamist terrorist since 9/11. Yes, all other terrorists caught here were actually trained by the FBI because they needed to keep up the appearance of actually working, so who knows, but optimism is warranted for now.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:32 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Right. Do not ever trust the US govt. But Iran has the truth, always.

Do not pass snark. Go directly to a couple illegal wars started over a complete fucking lie.


What, 9/11 an inside job?
posted by Ironmouth at 6:32 PM on October 11, 2011


What, 9/11 an inside job?

Who knows. The 9/11 Commission hands were tied from the get go, mostly by an uncooperative executive branch and various affiliated departments (FBI, DoJ).

It was probably a tragic comedy of errors, but the whole WMD/yellowcake narrative was certainly the definition of an inside job: a top-level conspiracy by neo-conservatives not only to bullshit the country into illegal wars, but also to root out and destroy the careers and lives of anyone who worked for the government at the time who happened to point out that it was all a steaming load of bullshit.

All of which, in turn, lead to the elimination of countless Iraqi and Afghan civilians, American soldiers, and a couple trillion dollars of war materiel payed for by the Chinese and underwritten by the American taxpayer.

But, hey, yuck it up with the Jon Stewarts and Obamas and everyone else who thinks we need to be "reasonable" and sweep a decade of crime under the carpet, while Rome burns.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:55 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


What, 9/11 an inside job?
....
Who knows.


That's it. I'm done.
posted by rosswald at 7:01 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't have any real evidence on hand to back this up, but I am willing to bet that the US Military is not in any way interested in a war with Iran. The military is exhausted fighting our current wars and would like a nice peaceful nap. At one point the New Yorker (I think) had an article explaining how the military leadership was fighting against the idea of war with Iran although this was in 2006 I believe.

From what I understand the Military is even against the current operations in Libya. Not that these things matter all that much since the politicians give the orders, but assuming a conspiracy seems improbable.

On the subject of guns getting into Mexico, I believe a key problem is straw purchases.
posted by Horatius at 7:02 PM on October 11, 2011


Well, they seem to have good food and nice neighbourhoods, great family life, that sort of thing. Mind you, I only know this from what my friends tell me. They seem happy enough there. Persian culture (which predates the Iranian revolution) seems fascinating.
posted by KokuRyu


I try to stay out of these political threads, especially so close to bedtime, but are you fucking serious?

I agree 100% with Joe's frequently stated concerns about the US's slide down a potentially slippery slope into fascism, but to deflect people's comments about Iran's approach to human rights with commentary on "good food and nice neighborhoods" and "Persian culture" is genuinely fucking insane.
posted by Aizkolari at 7:03 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Iranians have every right to criticize their government, and it's shameful that many are denied that right. However, America criticizing Iran is disgraceful and hubristic behaviour at this point in time, and a distraction from the real issues facing both countries. The current regime in Iran is a direct result of American foreign policy in the Middle East; if they are upset about Iran's conduct now, they have only themselves to blame, as the Iranians themselves attempted a democratic revolution almost 60 years ago, only to be stymied by the West.

It's the equivalent of slashing someone's tires and then gloating after you win the race. Or breaking someone's leg and then laughing as they limp along. And then threatening to hit them again if they don't move faster.
posted by mek at 7:03 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Motive, Means & Opportunity - who has them?
posted by onesidys at 7:05 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


are denied that right. However, America criticizing Iran is disgraceful and hubristic behaviour at this point in time, and a distraction from the real issues facing both countries.

Huh? Whatever's going on in the larger picture, should we just say sorry, we're ok with you attacking ambassadors in our country?
posted by Ironmouth at 7:07 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Forgot to mention - for those of you who are interested in learning more about US relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia I strongly recommend Robert Baer's books.
posted by Horatius at 7:14 PM on October 11, 2011


I believe it was actually DEA agents that were going to murder the ambassador in question, no? This is another manufactured plot, rather explicitly so, one in a long line.
posted by mek at 7:15 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I try to stay out of these political threads, especially so close to bedtime, but are you fucking serious?

Hey bud, there's a difference between politics and culture. Besides, you're from the States, right? You have one of the highest rates of incarceration in the world, and the only country that execute more people than you do is China. You also start wars every 12 years or so. Despite that, there are a lot of people who don't automatically write you off. Open your eyes.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:17 PM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't have any real evidence on hand to back this up, but I am willing to bet that the US Military is not in any way interested in a war with Iran. The military is exhausted fighting our current wars and would like a nice peaceful nap. At one point the New Yorker (I think) had an article explaining how the military leadership was fighting against the idea of war with Iran although this was in 2006 I believe.

Any war with Iran would likely beget a much larger conflict, think of who suffers from a disruption of Iran oil supply (the Chinese), notice on that list Libya is/was #9. Energy security is very much a 21st century, international, concern that would be a perfectly reasonable thing to start a war over. Also, Shiite populations the world over would certainly flare up, causing tremendous problems in multiple theaters we are attempting to wind-down, all this is to say: an armed conflict with Iran would almost certainly result in the United States being "forced" to institute a draft.
posted by Shit Parade at 7:23 PM on October 11, 2011


I believe it was actually DEA agents that were going to murder the ambassador in question, no? This is another manufactured plot, rather explicitly so, one in a long line.

According to the complaint, the Iranian agent approached the informant believing him to be a member of the Mexican cartel.

If our DEA could successfully entrap a foreign country's intelligence service into plotting the murder of a third country's Ambassador, either our entrappers have reached some kind of Zen-level of proficiency, or Iran is so bad at statecraft that we should overthrow the regime for the same reasons that you'd stop a 5-year-old from driving a school bus.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:28 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can believe the DEA has that much skill. The failure to win the war on drugs is because the mission is impossible, not because we don't have some serious skill working on it. They should be on terrorism 24/7 instead.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:57 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


... or Iran is so bad at statecraft that we should overthrow the regime for the same reasons that you'd stop a 5-year-old from driving a school bus.

NPR spoke with Richard Clarke, who thought it notably odd that a first-tier intelligence service like Iran's would contract out to putzes like these.

Notably odd, he thought.
posted by Trurl at 7:58 PM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


What is this this you are referring to?

The constant unthinking and uncritical use of Detroit as a reflexive comparative punch-line That is the this I am referring to. Odd you took my comment so personally but whatever. I take caricatures of my hometown and city personally, so there is that.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:33 PM on October 11, 2011


The constant unthinking and uncritical use of Detroit as a reflexive comparative punch-line

That and the perverse preference for Spam over Coneys.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:36 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The key will be whether or not they have a money transfer from a Qquds force-owned company. I'm guessing they do. They were careful to use the words "elements."
posted by Ironmouth at 8:42 PM on October 11, 2011


If true, this undoubtedly rises to the level of an act of war by Iran, and I would expect a carefully targeted military response -- which had better damn well be limited to clear military targets -- with the Arab League possibly on board.

If true. I said, if true.


Well, or we could just call it even.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:00 PM on October 11, 2011


NPR spoke with Richard Clarke, who thought it notably odd that a first-tier intelligence service like Iran's would contract out to putzes like these.

A professional like Clarke couldn't ever be cynical enough to suspect that incidents like these are trumped up by Iran and the USA as part of a long campaign of mutual sabre-rattling for each's own benefit, would he?
posted by mek at 10:48 PM on October 11, 2011


Wag the dog.
posted by bardic at 11:16 PM on October 11, 2011


"The U.S. has learned enough from Iraq and Afghanistan"

Sorry, I just shat myself from laughing so hard.
posted by bardic at 11:26 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


incidents like these are trumped up by Iran and the USA as part of a long campaign of mutual sabre-rattling for each's own benefit, would he?

Iran is a proxy for China.
posted by rhizome at 12:39 AM on October 12, 2011


Responding militarily would be seen as overly aggressive at this point. I think it is unlikely. Wed rather have the political leverage.
posted by humanfont at 2:20 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


an armed conflict with Iran would almost certainly result in the United States being "forced" to institute a draft.

And voila, unemployment solved!
posted by spitbull at 4:45 AM on October 12, 2011


Have we had this from the Guardian yet? They quote a Robert Baer, former CIA:
Robert Baer, a former CIA agent with long experience of observing the QF, said: "This stinks to holy hell. The Quds Force are very good. They don't sit down with people they don't know and make a plot. They use proxies and they are professional about it. If Kassim Suleimani was coming after you or me, we would be dead. This is totally uncharacteristic of them."
The point about a collaboration with a largely unknown third party being unlikely does seem striking (not that such doing are by any stretch of the imagination something I know much about).
posted by Abiezer at 4:51 AM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dude, like I said, I totally agree with you that the US is not perfect and that it seriously needs to work on respecting both the human rights of its citizens and those of other humans on this planet. Iraq was a huge mistake, Afghanistan has been handled poorly, Guantanamo is morally reprehensible and needs to be closed ASAP, the death penalty is barbaric and conditions in American jails are horrific, the list of the USA's fuckups goes on and on.

However, citizens of this country generally have far greater freedom of religion, movement, speech, and expression of their sexual orientation than do those in Iran. The fact that the US can and should do more to protect and expand these rights within its own borders does absolutely nothing to detract from the fact that Iran is practically a goddamned theocracy where homosexuality is punishable by death.

If you'd rather live in a place where you can legally be put to death for being gay than a place where the LGBT rights movement is making progress every day toward greater equality, then I really do not understand where you're coming from, culture be damned.
posted by Aizkolari at 5:09 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Iraq was a huge mistake

The Susan B. Anthony dollar was a mistake. Iraq was a war crime.

I hope the difference is clear.
posted by Trurl at 5:42 AM on October 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


This all does not make sense.

Cui bono?
posted by yoyo_nyc at 6:04 AM on October 12, 2011


Cui bono?

If we don't look at Iran as a singular entity, this can all make a bit more sense. Remember that this came to light (according to reports) in June 2011. Now, read this NY Times backgrounder on Iran:
In May 2011, a struggle for power among the conservatives who run the country, and in particular between Mr. Ahmadinejad and the country’s supreme ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, spilled into public view. The fight conforms to a pattern of presidential politics that has troubled the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution. The system allows for two presidents, one divine, the other democratic. The divine leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, holds most of the power levers, controlling the military, the judiciary and the state broadcasting services.

The divine leader is also permanent, while elected presidents serve a maximum of eight years. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s predecessors — Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, who also clashed with the supreme leader over prerogatives — have gradually faded from view. Mr. Ahmadinejad is determined to avoid their fate, and that, say Iran experts, set off the current showdown.

In April, the president tried to dismiss the head of the intelligence ministry, the powerful government branch that exerts widespread control over domestic life. Ayatollah Khamenei ordered that the minister keep the post. Mr. Ahmadinejad then stayed home for 11 days, according to reports from Iran, engaging in a visible fit of pique.
In this context, it's possible that the security services felt emboldened to "act out," confident that they could do so without internal reprisals (as their crucial support for either the President or the Supreme Leader was at stake). This would be the "rogue operatives" theory.

It's also possible that Khamenei would have authorized the operation to demonstrate his authority and further humiliate Ahmadinejad. If the operation were a success (Ambassador killed and role of Mexican cartel masks Iranian role), and Ahmadinejad did not know about it in advance, Khamenei would be the clear victor.

But now that the operation has been exposed as a colossal failure, the interesting question is how Iran's leadership will assign accountability among themselves.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:41 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nice analysis. But it assumes that this isn't simply the latest in a long series of US agencies entrapping the dimwitted.

That's an assumption that I for one am not willing to make.
posted by Trurl at 6:58 AM on October 12, 2011


Despite being a dim-wit, he was able to transfer $100,000 as a down-payment (allegedly from a Quds connected bank).
posted by rosswald at 7:07 AM on October 12, 2011


Says the government. I'll await the presentation of evidence at trial.

But assuming it's true, I don't believe that it requires intelligence service training to authorize a wire transfer. Nor is $100,000 a sum that would require governmentally deep pockets to procure. So it's not clear to me what inference you're drawing here.
posted by Trurl at 7:22 AM on October 12, 2011


I think rosswald is suggesting that this isn't a case of a paid informant turning in a "lone wolf" terrorist wannabe. $100k isn't chump change, and the fact that the wire xfer can (apparently) be traced back to a bank connected to Iranian secret services would argue against the supposition that this was simply entrapment.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:26 AM on October 12, 2011


a bank connected to Iranian secret services

Without a far more specific definition of "connected to", this description can encompass every bank in Iran and certainly a few in the United States as well.
posted by Trurl at 7:37 AM on October 12, 2011


Trurl, you are 100% correct and I agree with you but the rest of my point still stands.
posted by Aizkolari at 7:38 AM on October 12, 2011


Without a far more specific definition of "connected to"

European and US govts. clearly defined this years ago re: sanctions against Iran.
posted by rosswald at 7:45 AM on October 12, 2011


This dastardly plot to infiltrate another country and assassinate a civilian must be avenged!

Oops, sorry I meant this dastardly plot.

(Blatantly stolen from Glenn Greenwald.)
posted by Eyebeams at 7:45 AM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you'd rather live in a place where you can legally be put to death for being gay than a place where the LGBT rights movement is making progress every day toward greater equality, then I really do not understand where you're coming from, culture be damned.

Thanks for responding in such a constructive way to my comments! Look, I'm not saying that Iran is better than wherever (which would be a ludicrous thing to say in the context of this thread), just that, all things considered, it seems like a relatively nice place to live. Thinking about it, based on my own experience, it's very difficult to understand what a different culture is like just by reading about it - you actually have to travel there or live there to really understand. So when these friends of mine and their kids say they're having a good time, I tend to believe them.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:54 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh, Glenn is in top form today..
So facially absurd are the claims here — why would Iran possibly wake up one day and decide that it wanted to engage in a Terrorist attack on U.S. soil when it could much more easily kill Saudi officials elsewhere? and if Iran and its Quds forces are really behind this inept, hapless, laughable plot, then nothing negates the claim that Iran is some Grave Threat like this does — that there is more skepticism expressed even in establishment media accounts than one normally finds about such things. Even the NYT noted — with great understatement — that the allegations “provoked puzzlement from specialists on Iran, who said it seemed unlikely that the government would back a brazen murder and bombing plan on American soil.” The Post noted that “the very rashness of the alleged assassination plot raised doubts about whether Iran’s normally cautious ruling clerics supported or even know about it."
posted by Trurl at 8:00 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


it seems like a relatively nice place to live

Unless you're gay, or plan to commit adultery, or want to peacefully change your government, or openly practice Christianity, or drink alcohol. If none of those apply to you, then I suppose living in Iran is relatively nicer, at this very second, than living in Somalia, North Korea, Syria, or Burma (maybe).
posted by BobbyVan at 8:07 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


As it hasn't been mentioned above, i will mention the majority political analysis concerning Iran. It hasn't got anything America wants - not much oil etc. That's why it's always trying to act bigger than it is and get nuclear weapons and fund Hezbollah etc - it's scared it's so weak: in the Iran-Iraq war, america funded and encouraged Iraq to invade Iran. That's why america is so hated: years of high casualty warfare.

Currently, Iran is most influential in Syria, and in the near East via Hezbollah. America can't force or ask Iran to do anything, because they have no hold over Iran. However, if they have this on them, they have some leverage: leverage they would probably use to weaken Iranian influence in the middle east. Syria is an issue, because weakening/unseating Assad, while inconvenient for America, would be electorally popular (western liberals, europe), and America needs to recoup a little of its recently&very lost influence in the (new, young, demonstrating) arab world. If america ushers in the new Syrian regime, they owe america thanks/loyalty... Turkey's trying to move into the position of regional power broker, having as your only ally (Israel) in the region a country everyone else hates is inconvenient - you have to do everything Israel says, which makes you even more unpopular. The general analysis is that america has been looking for a hold over Syria, i suggest that this kind of plot happens/is uncovered all the time. (We're currently funding anti-state activity in lots of countries, Iran most openly; america allowed funding for the IRA as a charity while it was blowing up british citizens left right and centre: countries are sick.) This one happens to be handy and/or embroidered. The strange thing about countries is, while they lie at the drop of a hat, they yet seem incapable of inventing real events or even reacting in an up-to-date way when they happen (remember H Clinton's 'But Mubarak's a nice family friend i often have to tea?' when it had long been clear he would be ousted?). Propaganda usually has the stink of Victorian melodrama: rescue of little girl in distress (private Jessica somebody), absurd levels of cruelty (Serbs tying Albanians to the front of tanks as portable blood transfusion units left to die after use, in Kosovan war). Of course, given the Mexican drugs cartels' habits of acting in real life as if they were in a Victorian melodrama (submarines of cocaine to West Africa? Mass rape and murder of women on the border dumped in a huge pit? Inventing and praying to a Saint Gangster?) the water is muddied....
posted by maiamaia at 8:07 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama just declared to the world that assassination was cool and it was perfectly fine and dandy to assassinate anyone you thought was the enemy of your nation.

We should be surprised that other nations are following his lead in the glorious new age of assassination being super great and legal?


This is almost shockingly silly. Munir Said Thalib in 2004? Rafik Hariri in 2005? Alex Litvinenko in 2006? Those state (or military) sponsored assassinations were because of a guy elected in 2008? Whatever I may think of US policy, it's pretty airtight that other nations are not "following Obama's lead" in this regard.
posted by Amanojaku at 8:32 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]




Unless you're gay, or plan to commit adultery, or want to peacefully change your government, or openly practice Christianity, or drink alcohol. If none of those apply to you, then I suppose living in Iran is relatively nicer, at this very second, than living in Somalia, North Korea, Syria, or Burma (maybe).

So we're back to describing the US again.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:08 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


So we're back to describing the US again.

That's certifiably insane. Name one person who has been sentenced to death by the US government for doing any of those things.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:11 AM on October 12, 2011


Unless you're gay, or plan to commit adultery, or want to peacefully change your government, or openly practice Christianity, or drink alcohol.

How about marijuana? If I remember correctly, it's legal to grow your own.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:21 AM on October 12, 2011


Ssssoooo I still don't understand why they'd make a target out of the Saudi ambassador. What's the point to that? How much impact does that dude really have on policy? Just seems like a strange target choice to me...on top of, you know, everything else about this story, but I'm laying aside the prospect that it's a complete farce from top to bottom for the moment. Baer and Clarke commenting that this is so out of character for Quds really does say a lot. This whole deal looks like clown shoes.

Is it possible that the Saudi ambassador slept with the wrong dude's wife or something?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:22 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, my point is that it's pretty easy to focus on some things (the fact that the US executes minors, and that Georgia is looking into using prison labor to work in the cotton fields), while ignoring the people who actually live in a country.

And, no, I do not think that the US and Iran are somehow equal in terms of human rights... I'm just trying to make the point that what you read in the paper and what life is actually like can be quite different.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:23 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


And please don't call me insane.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:24 AM on October 12, 2011


If you're not saying that there's a relationship, then why even bring it up except to obviously insinuate something?

Sangermaine, I brought it up because I think it's a noteworthy effect of this news breaking now that it will probably end any remaining chance of a new investigation, which was slim already. It's a lucky break for the Saudis, and a setback for people like Graham who want answers.
posted by homunculus at 9:32 AM on October 12, 2011




Well, my point is that it's pretty easy to focus on some things (the fact that the US executes minors, and that Georgia is looking into using prison labor to work in the cotton fields), while ignoring the people who actually live in a country.

And, no, I do not think that the US and Iran are somehow equal in terms of human rights...


Actually, your point above was that I was also describing the US when I pointed out that Iran hands out death sentences for homosexuality, adultery, peaceful political protest, and alcohol consumption. That was an insane thing to say; I have no way of knowing whether you personally are insane. But when your arguments are full of false equivalencies and howlers like "the quality of life in Iran is somewhere between Honolulu and Detroit," you run the risk of having your comments described as insane.

I'm sure that there are some happy people in Iran. Persian culture is a fascinating palimpsest that goes back thousands of years, and many of the people have found ways to preserve their way of life and liberal sensibilities despite living under a cruel and oppressive regime. Why don't we just leave it at that...
posted by BobbyVan at 9:58 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


And please don't call me insane.

but ... wasn't it certified?
posted by mrgrimm at 10:06 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]




Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “the corrupted capitalist system shows no mercy to any nation, including the American people.”
The ayatollah commended the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, Washington and other American cities, calling them a consequence of “the prevalence of top-level corruption, poverty and social inequality in America.”
via nytimes
posted by Shit Parade at 1:31 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nah, i change my mind, i agree with everyone else, it makes no sense: why would Iran do that now? BUT, throughout history, when a government wanted to carry out an assassination, on its own or enemy soil, usually in order to have an 'incident' to use to justify declaring war (in history, we called it a 'border incident' as in older centuries, people fought their neighbours. That's globalisation for you), they did usually use a gang of the mentally unsound lead by an extremist. Franz Ferdinand, if i remember rightly, was topped by a teenager with learning difficulties - anyway, one of the big east european assassinations. Richard Reid and another UK bomber had learning difficulties (didn't affect their sentencing, disgusting). I mean, the twats hoovered up could be twats being paid to organise something despite being that thick. But they wouldn't know anything. And it still makes no sense.
posted by maiamaia at 2:08 PM on October 12, 2011


That's it. I'm done.

Apparently you and the people who favorited your comment were unable to read the rest of what I wrote, so I just want to apologize for writing two words that apparently caused your brain to completely and totally shut down.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:44 PM on October 12, 2011


I re-read your comment, and still don't see how the rest of the comment contradicts your "it is unknown if 9/11 was an inside job" line. Continuing to say that the 9/11 commission was (possibly) flawed, or that yellow-cake was a lie doesn't negate that statement.
posted by rosswald at 5:04 PM on October 12, 2011


If you two could either drop it or take it to email, that's be great.
posted by cortex at 5:05 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]




Officials concede gaps in U.S. knowledge of Iran plot

I needed that laugh. Thanks.
posted by Trurl at 6:25 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean FFS...

The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said their confidence that at least some Iranian leaders were aware of the alleged plot was based largely on analyses and their understanding of how the Quds Force operates.

Are you shitting me?
posted by Trurl at 6:30 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


It is getting late for me, but my recollection is that they have been saying that since the beginning. All they know is this guy was running around, seeking a hitman, and throwing around Quds-connected money.
posted by rosswald at 7:13 PM on October 12, 2011


All they know is this guy was running around, seeking a hitman, and throwing around Quds-connected money.

Don't forget the Quds "handler" who confirmed his own role in the plot during a telephone conversation recorded by US authorities, and also said that US civilian casualties would be acceptable as part of the mission to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:34 PM on October 12, 2011


said that US civilian casualties would be acceptable as part of the mission to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador

---
What kind of monster thinks that way, we are supposed to ponder. Behold the warped mind of the Terrorist! He’s actually willing to accept that others die besides his intended targeted! Is that not the mentality that drives U.S. behavior in multiple countries around the world every day? The U.S. flattened an entire civilian apartment building in Baghdad with a 2,000-pound bomb when it thought Saddam Hussein was there (he wasn’t — oops — but lots of innocent people were). NATO repeatedly bombed structures in Tripoli where it thought (mistakenly) Moammar Gadaffi was located, in the process almost certainly killing large numbers of unintended targets. The U.S. just killed one of its own citizens that it insists (not very credibly) it did not intend to kill in order to eradicate the life of Anwar Awlaki, and killed dozens of innocent people when it previously tried to kill Awlaki with cluster bombs.

The U.S. is the living, breathing symbol of this “collateral damage” rationale. It’s what drives all the multi-nation American wars and occupations and drone campaigns and assassinations that continuously pile up the corpses of innocent people.
posted by Trurl at 7:49 PM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Don't forget the Quds "handler" who confirmed his own role in the plot during a telephone conversation recorded by US authorities, and also said that US civilian casualties would be acceptable as part of the mission to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador.

But wasn't the Quds handler a cousin or something? I am thinking that the guy in custody was a bat shit insane loser who might have really, really needed money bad and was trying to "play" both what he thought were the Zetas AND the Al-Quds bank, maybe with the connivance of this guy who might have just handled the wire transfers so as not to draw attention for a while.

Meaning some guy in a Quds connected bank, even if confirmed, does not a conspiracy coming straight from the Ayatollah make.
posted by xetere at 8:16 PM on October 12, 2011


I re-read your comment

You didn't re-read anything. It's in the first sentence of the second paragraph, FFS.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:14 PM on October 12, 2011


Look Blaze, the comment is still there. I suggest others read it and form their own opinion.

To me, your 1st sentence of the second paragraph doesn't close the gaping whole opened in your first paragraph. On a personal level, I thought it was a callous thing to say.

But look, I was going to respond to you by e-mail, but you don't list your address and you apparently disabled Mefi mail. This thread is my only way of saying to you that:

I don't want to pollute this thread further, if you want to take it further Blaze, start a metatalk or something (or figure out some way to mefi mail me I guess? IDK).
posted by rosswald at 4:22 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


More on my hypothesis. From today's NY Times.
"American investigators have speculated that the Iranian-American accused in the scheme, Mansour J. Arbabsiar, who lived in Texas on the Mexico border, may have convinced a cousin, a senior Quds official, that he could recruit a member of one of Mexico's notorious drug cartels to carry out the killing."
I can see it going down, now if it turns out cousin just happened to have a "business trip" planned to a place where he could defect it would all make sense. Of course it wouldn't make sense to think you can actually scam either the Zetas and Quds force and live but this guy sounds a bit, um, off his rocker. I can see him Netflixing Blow, or the Hot Rock, one too many times and getting dreams that he is savvy enough to pull this off.

So what hot sexy Iranian star will play him in the movie?
posted by xetere at 4:25 AM on October 13, 2011


I loved The Hot Rock. BOOM!
posted by mrgrimm at 5:55 AM on October 13, 2011


Sounds the plot from a season of Weeds - Nancy Botwin convinces the Iranian that Guillermo can take care of the problem. (If this actually happens in Season 7 please don't say anything as I'm not caught up.)
posted by Big_B at 6:24 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Intel chair: "Chain" of Iran plots possible
(CBS/AP)

WASHINGTON - The alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States was comically amateurish, but the U.S. government believes not only that it was approved at high levels in Tehran but also that it was not the only plot, CBS News correspondent Bill Plante reports.

"There may be a chain of these things," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday.

...

Two men, including a member of Iran's Quds Force special foreign actions unit, were charged in New York federal court Tuesday with conspiring to kill the Saudi diplomat, Adel Al-Jubeir. Justice Department officials say the men tried to hire a purported member of a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the assassination with a bomb attack while Al-Jubeir dined at his favorite restaurant.

U.S. officials believe Iran hoped that an attack of that design would be blamed on al Qaeda. That, in turn, would strike at two of Iran's chief enemies: the U.S., constantly at odds with Iran over its nuclear aspirations, and Saudi Arabia, battling Iran in a diplomatic Cold War for influence across the Persian Gulf and Middle East.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:01 AM on October 13, 2011


Yet the government’s sensational charges depend largely on one unknown informant’s credibility, a situation reminiscent of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.  Then the uncorroborated claims of one anonymous source, known as “Curveball,” proved to be influential in justifying war.  They were also completely fabricated.
posted by Trurl at 7:43 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Terror suspect painted as inept.

There's also this gem: "They said it appeared as many as 10 people were living in the house, and lately there had been some signs of suspicious activity: When residents looked for available Wi-Fi networks, names like 'FBI Van 1' would pop up."
posted by dirigibleman at 7:52 AM on October 13, 2011


Yet the government’s sensational charges depend largely on one unknown informant’s credibility, a situation reminiscent of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Then the uncorroborated claims of one anonymous source, known as “Curveball,” proved to be influential in justifying war. They were also completely fabricated.
Of course, there are many potential responses to this kind of argument. For starters, according to the complaint, the tapes reveal that Arbabsiar was an enthusiastic participant in the scheme, goading CS-1 to pursue the hit, not the other way around. And Arbabsiar also apparently arranged for the down payment of almost $50,000 to be wired to CS-1. And perhaps most important, following his arrest, again according to the complaint, Arbabsiar "confirmed that he agreed to pay CS-1 to kill the ambassador." Those will be tough facts for the defense to refute, but an unsavory informant at least gives the defense a target for blame.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:11 AM on October 13, 2011


For starters, according to the complaint, the tapes reveal that Arbabsiar was an enthusiastic participant in the scheme, goading CS-1 to pursue the hit, not the other way around.

Which he knows by having listened to the tapes, yes?

No? You mean he's only parroting the government's claims?

A CNN reporter doing that??

Shocking.
posted by Trurl at 9:11 AM on October 13, 2011


The CNN legal analyst writes "according to the complaint" before presenting what is manifestly a "potential argument" that the US government could use in rebutting claims that the facts of this case rest on the testimony of a paid informant. The complaint quotes fairly extensively from transcripts of the tapes the government says it has.

Seems like responsible journalistic commentary to me.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:23 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, responsible journalistic commentary, let me show you it:
In Europe, the press response has been fascinating. In the Independent – the word "plot" also appears in scare quotes in the print edition. Why would Iran hire a used car salesman? asks Rupert Murdoch’s Times [pay-wall]. Süddeutsche Zeitung talks about "supposed assassinations plans" and notes prominently that Iran rejects the claims as "ridiculous theater." Le Monde notes that Mueller himself calls it a "Hollywood script," and calls the announcement a brusque escalation of the game between Washington and Tehran. All give a thorough reporting of the Washington claims, but balance it with Iran’s response, displayed just as prominently, and go on to say that this has to be considered in the context of Washington’s perpetual sabre-rattling vis-à-vis Iran.
posted by Trurl at 9:28 AM on October 13, 2011


It's not an either/or situation. Toobin is a legal analyst, not a global affairs expert. He's handicapping how this might play out at trial.

You're free to think and suggest that the US government made the whole thing up, but I've yet to see a theory as to how they could have ensnared a Quds force member and orchestrated the wire transfer. If people think Iran was dumb for involving a used car salesman and the Mexican cartel... how dumb would the US government have to be to make up something so outlandish and present it as a legal case? At a certain point you have to quit making conspiratorial inferences and sketch out your own theory of what really happened.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:40 AM on October 13, 2011


Thank you. I am in fact thinking and suggesting that the US government made the whole thing up.
posted by Trurl at 9:44 AM on October 13, 2011


Or to put it more precisely: The US government's charges are completely made up. Whether by them, CS-1, or cooperatively, I'm not especially interested.
posted by Trurl at 9:47 AM on October 13, 2011


If they had a tape recording of a Quds Force member urging on the assassination, and documentation of a wire transfer from an Iranian source to the confidential information to help finance the operation, would that change your mind?
posted by BobbyVan at 9:49 AM on October 13, 2011


information = informant
posted by BobbyVan at 9:50 AM on October 13, 2011


If they had a tape recording of a Quds Force member urging on the assassination, and documentation of a wire transfer from an Iranian source to the confidential information to help finance the operation, would that change your mind?

About the government's claim that the Iranian government was behind the plot? No. Should it?

But as you make book on that "if", I encourage you to keep this picture in your mind.
posted by Trurl at 10:03 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


About the government's claim that the Iranian government was behind the plot? No. Should it?

Well, I'd hope that you'd at least focus your skepticism on Iran's claims of innocence, in that scenario.
posted by BobbyVan at 11:49 AM on October 13, 2011


Well, I'd hope that you'd at least focus your skepticism on Iran's claims of innocence, in that scenario.

Pfft. With US legal trends boiling down to cornering someone into having to prove a negative, I imagine "claims of innocence" are pretty much just synonyms for not taking the bait.
posted by rhizome at 5:51 PM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


The more we know, the more a joke this is. (thanks Juan Cole) This whole incident is the most concrete proof in awhile that the mainstream media is totally incompetent.
posted by mek at 9:09 PM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


The more we know, the more a joke this is.

Cole's closing paragraph pulls no punches:

I am frankly shocked that Eric Holder should have brought us this steaming crock, which is now being used to make policy at the highest levels. That a Mexican former drug runner being paid by the US taxpayers might have thought he could advance his career by playing mind games with a somewhat crazy Iranian expatriate is no surprise. That you could put fantastic schemes in Arbabsiar’s mind if you worked at it seems obvious. That anyone in the DOJ or the US foreign policy establishment would take all this seriously is not plausible. I conclude that they are being dishonest, and that this is Obama’s turn to wag the dog as he faces defeat at Romney’s well-manicured hands next year this time.
posted by Trurl at 9:50 PM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the last time I heard the term "wag the dog" so much, it was when Clinton tried going after Al Queda.
posted by inigo2 at 5:12 AM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


President Obama is doubling-down on the allegations. [NY Times]
In his first public remarks on the assassination scheme, Mr. Obama sought to counter skepticism about whether Iran’s Islamic government directed an Iranian-American car salesman to engage with a Mexican drug cartel to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States and carry out other attacks. Mr. Obama insisted that American officials “know that he had direct links, was paid by, and directed by individuals in the Iranian government.”

“Now those facts are there for all to see,” Mr. Obama said. “We would not be bringing forward a case unless we knew exactly how to support all the allegations that are contained in the indictment.”
David Ignatius writes today about a killing in Karachi that US and Saudi intelligence now believe was orchestrated by Iran's secret Quds Force.
U.S. and Saudi officials believe Iranian operatives were behind the May 16 murder of a Saudi diplomat in Karachi, Pakistan — adding more evidence that Tehran has engaged in high-risk covert actions beyond the allegations of a Washington assassination plot made in a Justice Department indictment Tuesday.

Hassan al-Qahtani, a Saudi security official working at their consulate in Karachi, was gunned down in July about 200 feet from his office by a man on a motorbike. News reports at the time linked the killing to tension between Pakistan’s Sunni and Shiite communities.

But a Saudi official said Thursday that his country and the United States agree that Iran’s Quds Force was involved in the Karachi killing. That allegation, if true, adds important new detail to the portrait of an Iranian covert-action service that has been escalating its attacks against Saudi targets.

The Saudi official, reached by telephone, said that Pakistani intelligence had identified the killer as a member of a Shiite dissident group known as Sapih Mohammed, which has connections with the Quds Force. The Saudi official said this conclusion, that the group had links with Tehran, was based on messages between Iranian officials in Islamabad and members of the dissident group.
I guess it's possible that the Saudis, who were none too happy about Obama Administration calls for the resignation of Egyptian President Mubarak, have had a change of heart and are now willing to join a "wag the dog" strategy to help Obama's re-election campaign... But that theory seems quite far-fetched at this point.

I can imagine a more elaborate scheme, wherein Saudi and Pakistani Intelligence are colluding to draw the US into a deeper conflict with their common enemy, Iran, but such a plot seems so ornate and byzantine that it could only exist in the world of "24." Still, it's a remote possibility.

But suppose this all unravels and the Obama Administration is shown to have orchestrated this affair for domestic political purposes. I would say confidently, in such a scenario, that impeachable offenses had been committed.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:36 AM on October 14, 2011


Well, I'd hope that you'd at least focus your skepticism on Iran's claims of innocence, in that scenario.

With what happened after 9/11, no one should take claims by the United States on face value. You can try to call people who bring up the WMD issue "truthers", if you need to, but it just makes you look sillier.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:52 AM on October 14, 2011


You can try to call people who bring up the WMD issue "truthers", if you need to, but it just makes you look sillier.

You're imagining things and making yourself look silly. I didn't call anyone a "truther" or anything close to it.
posted by BobbyVan at 12:05 PM on October 14, 2011


I guess it's possible that the Saudis, who were none too happy about Obama Administration calls for the resignation of Egyptian President Mubarak, have had a change of heart and are now willing to join a "wag the dog" strategy to help Obama's re-election campaign... But that theory seems quite far-fetched at this point.

Why would they have to do it for Obama's benefit?

Surely they'd accept reluctantly providing a favor to a disappointing ally to gain a potent weapon against an arch-rival?
posted by Trurl at 12:44 PM on October 14, 2011


Surely they'd accept reluctantly providing a favor to a disappointing ally to gain a potent weapon against an arch-rival?

I'll grant you that, from the standpoint of motive.

But adding another layer to this scheme (Saudis secretly pulling the strings in the fake plot wherein Iranians and a US informant pretending to be in the Mexican cartel plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador) doesn't make it more plausible; it makes it less so.

And if we're going to be alleging a US (or Saudi) conspiracy, the same critique must apply -- why would anyone put such a delicate operation in the hands of a bumbling Iranian used car salesman with mismatched socks? Would the US government rest the future of the Obama Administration on such a person? I can imagine an Iranian government, plagued by infighting, doing so...

Finally, if this were a US conspiracy, why would the US go the legal route and make arrests and file complaints? Surely the judicial angle raises the stakes, and puts the President and his Attorney General in constitutional and legal jeopardy should the conspiracy ever be exposed. Couldn't they simply leak this to the press and get a similar PR impact?
posted by BobbyVan at 1:02 PM on October 14, 2011


But a Saudi official said Thursday...

Let me see if I've got this straight...

In May, Iran, for reasons best known to itself, assassinated a Saudi ambassador.

And the first we've heard about it comes only now - just in time to support the US story at a time when it's being laughed out of the court of global opinion.

You wanna stick with that story?
posted by Trurl at 1:14 PM on October 14, 2011


It was a lower ranking Saudi security official, so it probably didn't get much attention at the time.

And I don't have any "story" to stick to here. We've got a bizarre yet very serious allegation made in court by the US Attorney General, and repeated by President Obama. Certainly skepticism is warranted here, and alternate interpretations that withstand scrutiny are more than welcome.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:28 PM on October 14, 2011


It was a lower ranking Saudi security official, so it probably didn't get much attention at the time.

My mistake was reading "Saudi diplomat" in the lead sentence. That's a rather generous application of the term for what could have been just a consul rent-a-cop.
posted by Trurl at 1:34 PM on October 14, 2011


Have we any theories yet on what national interest Iran hoped to advance by assassinating a low level Saudi security official?
posted by Trurl at 1:41 PM on October 14, 2011


Geez, who knows. The article mentions tensions between Pakistan's Sunni and Shia communities, and one can only wonder what kind of proxy battles are being fought between Saudi and Iranian agents in that environment...
posted by BobbyVan at 1:47 PM on October 14, 2011


That's not implausible.

On the other hand, fucking with the Sauds in Pakistan is a completely different proposition than fucking with Sauds in a Washington, D.C. restaurant with hundreds of diners.

The alleged plot's provocation to the United States would be so much greater than the provocation to the Saudis - and at so much greater potential military risk - that no sane actor would undertake it unless their main intention was in fact to attack the United States. [I hope no one is going to claim that the Iranians - in addition to being Evil - are also insane.]

So even if you believe every word Holder says, what the Saudis say happened in Pakistan offers no evidence to support a "pattern of behavior".
posted by Trurl at 2:13 PM on October 14, 2011


I'm still at "so, the US decided it was perfectly fine".

Once Obama decided that it was ok for nations to assassinate their perceived enemies, regardless of where those enemies were, I'm not seeing how the US government has any grounds for an objection here.

Iran decided that the Saudi Ambassador was an enemy of the state so it took the US approved course of action and decided to assassinate him. What's the problem?
posted by sotonohito at 2:18 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's the problem?

The plotter said he didn't care about killing civilians to accomplish the mission.

We care a lot.
posted by Trurl at 2:22 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]




Once Obama decided that it was ok for nations to assassinate their perceived enemies, regardless of where those enemies were, I'm not seeing how the US government has any grounds for an objection here.

Iran decided that the Saudi Ambassador was an enemy of the state so it took the US approved course of action and decided to assassinate him. What's the problem?


This is a false equivalency. Ambassadors are given special protection under the Vienna Convention (to which Iran is a signatory). There is a huge difference between Al-Awlaki and an accredited Ambassador in terms of international law.
posted by BobbyVan at 3:01 PM on October 14, 2011


There is a huge difference between Al-Awlaki and an accredited Ambassador in terms of international law.

I think there are international laws against executing your citizens without trial.
posted by Trurl at 3:12 PM on October 14, 2011


I think there are international laws against executing your citizens without trial.

International law gets pretty vague when it comes to killing belligerents, and international law has nothing to say about "due process" for US citizens who enter the battlefield against their country.
posted by BobbyVan at 3:25 PM on October 14, 2011


Eh, if Obama can ignore the entire US Constitution, I figure Iran ignoring the Vienna Convention isn't a big deal.

Once the US said that assassination was cool then it abandoned all ability to complain when any other nation started assassinating people. Actions have consequences.
posted by sotonohito at 4:54 PM on October 14, 2011


We'll need to disagree on a couple of things then: I don't believe that killing al-Awlaki was an assassination, nor was it unconstitutional.
posted by BobbyVan at 5:03 PM on October 14, 2011


We'll need to disagree on a couple of things then: I don't believe that killing al-Awlaki was an assassination, nor was it unconstitutional.

Cordially disagreed then.

Do you think it made America a better or worse place to live?
posted by Trurl at 6:12 PM on October 14, 2011


I don't think it made much of a difference for anyone in America. But if you're in Yemen and plotting attacks against the US, I think the quality of life dropped considerably.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:09 PM on October 14, 2011


OTOH, if you're a child in Yemen aspiring to become a child soldier, things are looking up.
posted by homunculus at 11:31 PM on October 14, 2011 [2 favorites]








Israel test fires new ballistic missile. The Israeli's are getting twitchy.
posted by humanfont at 5:35 PM on November 2, 2011


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