a joint project by the Intercept & the NYT

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.

Iraqi sources: Iran intervened to prevent overthrow of Adil Abdul-Mahdi

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.

Dan Potter

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.”

16 responses to “a joint project by the Intercept & the NYT

  1. I have no idea what it would be for other than propaganda purposes. I mean, if they really wanted to uncover the truth that matters they’d focus on this country’s government and political underpinnings, i.e., deep state or whatever, not on Iran, particularly at a time when the western ruling elite are focused on getting that deal done, i.e., trying to take Iran down. I never really trusted Greenwald and when he and Scahill signed up with Omidyar, that was all I needed to label them establishment misinformation/disinformation hacks. Over the years, it was interesting watching the progressives, like at a place like the dem party blog C99, fawn over Greenwald and Scahill even after they knew about Omidyar, or at least even after they were TOLD about Omidyar. That’s the difference between faux anti-establishment and real anti-establishment. I don’t buy that Greenwald was bamboozled on this, actually more like I refuse to believe that. He’s gotten quite wealthy doing his part for the ruling class propaganda efforts.
    EVERYTHING that comes from the Intercept should be treated like it’s coming from the NY Times and other ruling class owned media and they just proved it again.

    • nor i, big al. and okay, i featured a lot of confirmation bias info and opinions to make my point, but holy hell! the fire is on The Evil Iran! (i added a few tweets to the OP as well, including one by FM Zarif on ‘where the hell are you, EU? over this administration’s withdrawl from the JCPOA.)

      i hadn’t known that c99 had been likely loving the intercept, scahill, and, and greenwald…but come to think of it, my several diaries critiquing the place didn’t go over all that well….

      “establishment misinformation/disinformation hacks…” yay-uss.

      w/ bernie’s having bought into the CNN version of the protests, i’d wondered where he and miz gabbard were on sanctions, the jcpoa, etc., and found this piece by stephen lendman from april 2019, and i assume he’s right:

      “Gabbard and Sanders are hostile to Iran while supporting the JCPOA nuclear deal. Ahead of its adoption, Sanders said “(i)t is imperative that Iran not get a nuclear weapon.”

      He called “prevent(ing) Iran from getting a nuclear weapon…an absolute imperative” – ignoring the Islamic Republic’s abhorrence of these weapons, wanting them eliminated everywhere, while failing to condemn nuclear armed and dangerous Israel, willing to use these terror weapons if threatened.

      Separately, he lied saying “Iran’s behavior in so many ways is something that we disagree with, their support for terrorism (a bald-faced Big Lie), the anti-American rhetoric” for good reason he failed to explain, adding:

      He opposes establishing diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic, showing hostility toward the region’s leading proponent of peace and stability, combatting terrorism, not pursuing or supporting it like the US, NATO and Israel, Sanders failing to condemn their hostile actions.

      Tulsi Gabbard supported the Iran nuclear deal with reservations, saying she voted for it “not because it’s a great deal, or even a good deal” she likely never read or understands its principles, adding:
      “I voted for it because I could not find a better alternative. There are two main alternatives—both of them bad,” showing hostility toward and ignorance about the Islamic Republic.

      Without the JCPOA, “Iran would very likely go full speed ahead to develop a nuclear bomb, with no monitoring,” she falsely claimed, adding: “Nuclear experts (sic) believe it would take Iran just 2-3 months—plenty of time for Iran to build a nuclear bomb.”

      The above remarks are unacceptably hostile and untrue, no evidence suggesting otherwise.

      Gabbard opposes military action against Iran now, not necessarily later, saying if it’s “required in the future, we will be in a stronger and more effective position having implemented the present agreement because of the unprecedented access and significant intelligence advantage that we gain through this deal.”

      The above statement sounds Trump-like – disturbing and unacceptable.”

      he compares them on VZ as well.

      good point on focusing on this nation, which is why i was glad to have found elijah magnier’s piece on the US in iraq, as well.

      no comments on this over yonder, but i’d forgotten there was another ‘Debate’ last night, and more Impeachment Theater yesterday. guess i could have waited until tomorrow, but that timing didn’t really work for me.

      so triple thanks for your good comment, amigo!

      • Wow, that’s some good info there wd. Hell, Sanders and Gabbard are both imperialists along the lines of Obama. Been preaching that for years but it makes no difference to the partisans at the C99 Bernie/Tulsi fan club. (:)), or other dem party fan blogs, never has. Gabbard’s been saying shit like that all along, not just about Iran as you well know, her fans like to cherry pick things, like no regime change wars, which is pure BS, but bypass when she says stuff like you linked above, or when she flat out calls herself a “hawk for the war of Terror”.

        That’s really why I got banned by Johnny the banhammer over there, because I wouldn’t let up on their favorite dem party politicians. You can see that now with him trying to hold together his blog filled with competing Gabbard and Sanders supporters, it was either them or people like me, Arendt, etc.

        I don’t think the timing of the debate matters much over there relative to this piece, the population there has morphed into full Sanders/Gabbard support so they can’t really say much about Iran since their heroes support the propaganda narrative.

        P.S. Thinking of trying to write some essays here soon, getting back to that point and I might have the time here soon.

        • now rmember, lendman wrote that in april, and who knows what ‘evolutions’ either might tweet or otherwise profess. over yonder, evolving tweets by sanders saying ‘it appears to have been a coup in bolivia’ to it was a coup in bolivia’ (acceptable) but i finally remembered to say yes, but not to mention it was a CIA/OAS/US putsch doesn’t make the mark, imo.

          but yeah, there are several debate threads over yonder, dunno how many on the Masterpiece Impeachment Theater (mocking it, though)…

          good to hear you might write something here soon, though, and sorry the commentariat has shrunk to so few. but i keep posting for sometimes-lurkers, as in: of the 400 or so followers of café babylon, 100 seem pretty legitimate, as in: shared interests.

          i’ll enter a closing song before i shut down for the night; i have it mind already. ; -)

          • Haven’t followed it much, but did see where Sanders said it was a coup. My assumption is he certainly didn’t say it was another regime change operation by the good ole United States Empire. Saying it was a coup is easy, and his supposed antiwar supporters eat it up (again, while forgetting about all the other shit, like with Iran), saying it was a U.S sponsored coup is another. I might be wrong but that’s what I assume. I.E., as with Gabbard, seen this movie before, they’re U.S. ruling class politicians and they’re not going to go against this capitalist imperialist system. Hedge, hedge, hedge, go just far enough for their manufactured reputations, but don’t spoil the plan, man.

            As for the impeachment thing, I not only have no interest in what’s going on, I purposely avoid reading about it (I don’t watch the TV news or political shows). I might catch some inklings from trusted others, like you, that’s it. It doesn’t surprise me the Daily Kos Too’ers get caught up in that kind of thing, that’s a large part of the problem on the left. Follow the bouncing red ball.

            • really, as far as i could tell they were mocking the hearings, but i hadn’t really tuned in to this round. i find it satire, but ‘Sondland’ was supposed to be the biggie, lol,

              i had volunteered that the only coverage i’d done here of week one had but one comment (yours), and it might have reflected this michael che on snl weekend update:

  2. closing time for me, g’ night. this is a dylan cover by playing for change, world peace thru music.

    There must be some kind of way out of here,
    Said the joker to the thief
    “There’s too much confusion
    I can’t get no relief.
    Businessmen, they drink my wine
    Plowmen dig my earth
    None of them along the line
    Know what any of it is worth…

    So let us not talk falsely now
    The hour’s getting late

    • THAT was awesome wd. Best one yet imo. Music, man, ain’t it something how it can bring out the best in the human race and show how much we’re all the same no matter where.

  3. Yep, yep, yep and yep to all the comments. Doesn’t Tulsi have an eerily similar cadence to a certain most-qualified candidate ever who lost? Brings to mind the possibility that contrary to what would be easily assumed, the Russia grooming accusations could be meant to have any number of contradictory effects, with the bottom line being that she wouldn’t hurt the bottom line if she were to get elevated to higher political status and would lend cred to whatever policy or vis a vis those who worship her. Or she can remain marginal and sheepdoggy someday, or not. It’s all good.

    • “…the bottom line being that she wouldn’t hurt the bottom line…”

      you sly dog, you; i hadn’t thunk of any of that. my focus was more on being attacked by the red queen got her so much publicity, & likely contributions that she couldn’t have bought it if she’d tried. not to mention the fact that every alternative media site has lauded her for her smack back at ‘war-monger clinton’. and yeah, i enjoyed it myownself.

      i have seen a lot of peeps yearning for a sanders/gabbard ticket, but my contention is that if obomba didn’t cause people to become radicalized and leave the D party, i can’t imagine why not. fukksake, he opened the door to boss tweet in sooooo many ways, including in calling VZ a ‘direct threat to US national security; no options are off the table!’

      can’t remember where (RT?) i’d just read that tulsi finally came out with a ‘no pablum’ call out for deposing evo having been ‘a coup’.

      nice to see you, mein freunde; hope all is well enough in berlin. if ya got any news at your diary you’d care to cross-post here, we’d love to know it. (well, if we include lurkers…)

      • As davidly said, it really doesn’t matter what she says now. She will not hurt the bottom line if put in that position, just like Obama. That’s the frustrating thing with politics, there’s always the next best thing and people always, and I mean always, forget. Even those who admit they got fooled and play the damn Who song like they know what it means. I’ve seen people who admit they got fooled by Obama (which is not really Obama, they got fooled by the entire system, again) flat out state they think Gabbard is different. They totally forget Obama got the frigging Nobel peace prize barely a month into office for crying out loud. And for what? For what he SAID. Not for what he did, for what he said. So why in the hell are people even paying attention at this point, and I mean attention to what these cretin career politicians are saying, which is what Gabbard is and was groomed to be.? Eh, it’s the same old thing, humans. Some get it, most don’t.

        • Indeed. And what he said upon receiving the award for what he said was (rendered here agitproperly paraphasal) that MLK had the luxury of not having to deal with reality. Shit-speak like that makes see him as a fucker moreso than even than the ugly deeds.

          • obama: “amerika does not torture!” on the cover of the NYTimes: ‘we outsource it in whistle stop tours to black sites!’ (in response to john rizzo’s gripe that he was about to put them out of the rendition bidness).

        • lol to all, but saying more now is earning her cred. i remember reading progressive army’s ‘in defense of tulsi, etc’, and quoting from it, but here are a few brief squibs of a long ‘defense’:

          “Gabbard’s views on LGBTQ rights have shifted dramatically since 2012. Human Rights Campaign gave her a 100 percent voting record on LGBTQ issues. She also issued a 4-minute video apologizing for past comments and explaining how she evolved on the issue.”

          “Gabbard was heavily criticized for her comments in an interview on NDTV where she indicated that she is conflicted on the use of torture. The CIA torture report showed that the CIA used inhumane practices including sleep deprivation, waterboarding, and rectal rehydration. The report also states that at least 26 detainees were found to be held “wrongfully.” And worst of all, “the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation.”

          there’s a shorter version, but ‘presidential ticking time bombs’ and all that. sure and i believe ‘she’s evolved since then’, as do her supporters….

          A spokesperson from the Gabbard campaign told the Progressive Army that Gabbard opposes the use of torture. This is indicated by her support for amendments in the National Defense Authorization Acts that prohibit the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, including torture.”


          me. i’m agonna vote for bloomberg! a turkey in every pot! a broken window in every black arrest!

  4. https://www.inquirer.com/news/nation-world/israel-iran-syria-wide-scale-strike-20191120.html

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