One would have thought Carle might have come across Hezbollah in his 20-odd years of derring-do in the Agency’s clandestine service. Certainly it is an integral part of the “global jihadist movement,” having killed in Middle East and South America, at a minimum, and has worked with al-Qaeda in Iraq and probably in Afghanistan.
And then there is the little-remarked-upon article in the New York Times
about the “Tinner Case,” in which CIA recruited Swiss businessmen involved in illicit trade with A. Q. Khan, Iran, and Libya in technology for nuclear-weapons projects. This operation ran for several years, during which time the Agency provided the Tinners with bogus parts, thereby throwing a monkey wrench into the two countries’ atomic programs, and the Tinners provided CIA with a valuable window into Iran’s nuclear needs.
This program, for which we can all be grateful, ran for four years, starting in 2000. And so the question naturally arises, if CIA itself was involved in shipping technology to the Iranians, how then could it say — as it did in the infamous NIE on Iran’s nuclear program — that the program was suspended a year earlier? Inquiring minds would like to know, and it’s a pity the New York Times’ reporters didn’t insist on an answer, or even raise the question in their article. There is one plaintive quotation from a CIA official that tells us volumes about the quality of our knowledge of the Iranians’ race to acquire a bomb:
Efforts to cripple equipment headed to rogue nuclear states “buy us some time and space.” With Iran presumably racing for the capability to build a bomb, he added, “that may be the best we can hope for.”
No wonder Ishmael Jones recommends that CIA be “broken up into its constituent parts, and those parts assigned to organizations that already have clear missions and defined chains of command.” Transfer all those domestic spooks to the Bureau; put all those spooks now pretending to be Foreign Service officers to work for the Foreign Service; and put the overseas case officers to work for the military.
It’s a start.
— Michael Ledeen is Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.