Via the Intercept (8:31):
Calling all sleuths who are intrigued by Media Brands! Both versions I’ve linked below are far too long for me to read, rather than scan, although at least the NYT version doesn’t include the massive, eye-searing photos the Intercept version does.
Here are a few questions readers and watchers might want to consider: How were TI and the NYT able to verify these 700 pages of documents as ‘authentic’ (albetit Maz Hussain’s claim at DN! below)? Is this simply more anti-Iranian (‘now “our new enemy” a Risen said) Imperial agitprop? Given they’d allegedly been ‘leaked’ to TI anonymously, who had ‘leaked’ them? Were they hacked or even created by enemies of Iran? That would be a long list, yes?
Also, are the contents of the documents even true? Or just some peevish (perhaps Sunni) dissident’s point of view? All we see are little artistic mock-ups like this.
The joint project is titled at the Intercept: ‘A Spy Complex Revealed; Leaked Iranian Intelligence Reports Expose Tehran’s Vast Web of Influence in Iraq’, by James Risen (formerly reporting for the NYT and LA Times, see link at the bottom*), Tim Arango, Farnaz Fassihi, Murtaza Hussain, Ronen Bergman, November 17, 2019, the intercept.com
And at the New York CIA Times: ‘The Iran Cables: Secret Documents Show How Tehran Wields Power in Iraq; Hundreds of leaked intelligence reports shed light on a shadow war for regional influence — and the battles within the Islamic Republic’s own spy divisions’, by Tim Arango, James Risen, Farnaz Fassihi, Ronen Bergman and Murtaza Hussain (White Helmets lover), Nov. 19, 2019, nytimes.com
On Nov. 18, Amy Goodman (another White Helmets lover) had interviewed Murtaza Hussain, which is where I’d run into the story, (both video and transcript at the link.)
“An unprecedented leak of secret intelligence reports from inside the Iranian government has shed new light on how Iran has taken control of much of the Iraqi government in the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion. The documents from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security were leaked to The Intercept, which then partnered with The New York Times on reporting the story. The leak includes 700 pages of intelligence documents from 2014 to 2015. The documents reveal that a number of Iraqis who once worked with the CIA went on to work with Iranian intelligence. We speak with Murtaza Hussain, a reporter at The Intercept who worked on the project. “The macro story here is that the United States shattered Iraqi society, and then Iran came in to pick up the pieces,” he says.” [snip]
“MURTAZA HUSSAIN: The source’s identity is unknown to us. They identify themselves as somebody who was upset about the Iranian role in Iraq today. And as many of us know, Iran has a very powerful role in Iraqi politics. And these documents, in fact, shed light on what the source described. Iran has close relationships with Iraqi elites. In many ways, they have negated the sovereignty of that country and manipulated it in such a way that their interests are predominant over the interests of the Iraqi people. And we’re seeing this today manifest in ongoing protests in Iraq against the political elite, which is viewed as beholden to Iran. And while this is widely known, it has not been seen in black and white until this day.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, of course, the U.S. considers Iran its enemy. They would have an interest in destabilizing the government and making Iran look bad. How do you know this isn’t some kind of U.S. source for these documents?
MURTAZA HUSSAIN: The documents, although they show Iranian manipulation of Iraqi politics, do not portray Iran in a negative light per se. The impression that comes from the documents, of Iranian intelligence agents, is one of professionalism, pragmatism, and not an interest in destabilizing Iraq, but rather an interest in stabilizing the country in a way which still facilitates their interests. They’re not planning to ethnically cleanse it of certain groups or cause it to plunge into chaos. They want a stable Iraq in which all the different minority communities are reconciled to the existing order. And they want to defeat extremist groups, and they want a stable Iraqi economy, which is in their own interests, as well, too. So, while the documents shed light on Iranian activities, the activities they show are very much like U.S. government aims. They have similar aims, although their means, in some sense, are different.”
It turns out that there are Five Stories ballasted by the documents:
MURTAZA HUSSAIN: So, the first story is an overview of Iran’s influence in Iraqi politics. It lays out the significance of the documents as a whole. And that story is published jointly by the Times and The Intercept. The second story is about the Iranian covert war against ISIS between the period 2013-2015. It shows how Iranian spies had infiltrated ISIS at the highest leadership level. They had assets giving them communications of ISIS leaders. They were arming ISIS’s enemies”, etc.
The third story is about a secret summit that took place in Turkey between the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Muslim Brotherhood. This summit was intended to forge a joint front, over sectarian differences, to combat what was seen as a shared enemy of Saudi Arabia’, etc.
“The Changing of the Overlords,” article four. So, this story is an op-ed, written by myself and my colleague Jeremy Scahill, laying out everything that’s happened in Iraq since 2003, since the U.S. invasion, which was basically an extinction-level event for the old Iraq. The Iraqi regime was destroyed by the United States. It was shattered into pieces, as I said. And then, those pieces, out of them came extremist groups, came Iranian proxies. We have not seen an end to violence that began in 2003 to this day.”, etc.
MURTAZA HUSSAIN: Went to Iraq to report the stories, to verify the veracity of documents, to visit many of the sites on the ground, to retrace the steps of Iranian spies, and particularly to map out the Iranian war against ISIS behind the scenes as it happened in 2014, 2015. We saw the impact, especially northern Iraq, of the Iranian presence. And at the time, Iran had a better reputation. It was helping Iraqi Kurds fight ISIS. But then, in 2017, there was a falling out over Iraqi Kurdish independence. And now there’s a very bitter legacy of the Iranian presence there, and the training and weapons and intelligence support they provided has mostly been washed over by the role they played in supporting the central Iraqi government and crushing Kurdish independence. So, the traces are still there, but the political landscape has changed, and it’s continuing to change as time goes on.”
The rest is here.
From a synopsis at middeeastmonitor.com, Nov. 18, 2019, here’s the Big Beef:
“The commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Major General Qasem Soleimani, visited Iraq to persuade an ally in Parliament to help Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi maintain his position.
The report reveals how Abdul-Mahdi was groomed by and begun to work closely with Iran in 2014 while he was Iraq’s oil minister, and how his “special relationship” was connected with that of former Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi who also worked in support of Iran.”
Among the paltry 208 comments (most devolved into food fights over morales and maduro) on the Intercept version, many had waxed skeptical:
Good to see that the OmidyarIntercept has finally come out from the dark shadows to show it is a MajorPlayer in the CIA ratline of media eagerly subservient to US neoliberal austerity imperial capitalism and world domination…if the trashcanning of the Snowden files didn’t already make that clear
Photosymbiosis (in part)
Incidentally, if you want to compare and contrast Wikileaks and the Intercept, note that Wikileaks makes documents available to the public (not flushing them down the drain like the Intercept did with the Snowden NSA files). Here’s the Wikileaks Syria archive, for example: https://wikileaks.org/syria-files/
Relevant disclosures are notably lacking from all of the Intercept Iran cables stories.
Here’s a start: (wd: his links are worth scanning, at least)
As soon as I saw James Risen’s name on the article I came straight to the comment section.
Iran’s rise as a power player in Iraq was in many ways a direct consequence of Washington’s lack of any post-invasion plan.
Note that–according to these authors–the mistake was the lack of a post-invasion plan, and not the disastrous and criminal invasion itself. This and other crafting in this article serves to either obscure or excuse US behavior, while painting a sinister portrait of Iran, with Iranians and their informants who “lurk” in the airports, and meet in “dark alleyways”.
And from the Twitterverse and elsewhere:
Elijah J. Magnier @ejmalrai· Nov 18, 2019
When a country, that is not the US, is establishing allies in another country among locals, it becomes a “BIG” news.
The US is having vassals in Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Oman and in every country it can. So what is the big deal here?
‘Iran declares war on the USA’s covert influence in Iraq’, 8/07/2019 by Elijah J Magnier
“When US officials visited Baghdad and met with the Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, they had two requests: first, to close all commerce and financial exchanges with Iran to strangle the Iranian economy and bring it to its knees. The second was to neutralise the Iraqi groups (known as Hashd al-Shaabi) which sympathise with Iran and carry a similar ideology.
The Iraqi Premier is aware he is being pushed into the heart of two minefields, Iranian and American, and therefore he cannot just walk straight into these fields. He has decided to reject the first US demand because Iraq has religious, commercial and energy bonds with Iran. He is refusing to transform Iraq into a US-Iran battlefield where no winner can be expected to stay on his feet, including Iraq. He wants to force the US administration to back down and agree to provide Iraq with waivers to buy Iranian gas and keep commercial exchange flowing.”
*A James Risen, Russia-gate and Julian Assaange compendium is here at theburningplatform.com, April 24, 2019 One Outtake:
“That the Democrats and the presstitutes want Trump indicted for obstructing a crime that did not occur shows how insane they have been driven by their hatred of Trump. What is operating in the Democratic Party and in the American media is insanity and hatred. Nothing else.
Risen also alleges that the unproven Russian hacks were passed over by Barr in his memo on the report. Not only is this incorrect, but also Risen apparently has forgot that the investigation was about Trump’s collusion with Russia to do something illegal and the investigation found that no such thing occurred. Risen, like the rest of the presstitutes and even Greenwald himself, takes for granted that the unproven Russian hacks happened. Again we see that the longer a lie is repeated the more it becomes true. Not even Greenwald can detect that he has been bamboozled.”