Mike Pompeo, the Neo-cons, and the Alleged Al Qaeda-Iran Link

November 16, 2017

On Nov. 1, the CIA released a huge trove, amounting to some 470,000 files, of documentation that had been captured from Osama bin Laden's computers during the Navy SEAL raid in May of 2011 during which he was killed. Almost immediately, in far less time than it would take to actually review the trove and separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, the neo-conservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) had published one particular 19-page document in its blog The Long War Journal (LWJ), which, the authors claimed, "proved" the Iranian links to Al Qaeda. Shahir Shahidsaless, an Iranian-Canadian journalist, writing in a Nov. 8 article in the Middle East Eye, reports that FDD and its blog received favorable treatment from the CIA by getting a preview of the files before they were publicly released.

"What gives this neoconservative advocacy organisation such a privileged status compared to the hundreds of other organisations with similar expertise that the CIA chooses to make the documents available to it in advance?" Shahidsaless asks. The LWJ had prepared a post, ready to go upon release, to provide early context to the huge cache: Iran cooperated with al-Qaeda and could now be labelled as a "state sponsor of terror" based on al-Qaeda's internal documents, he notes. The next step is obvious: "Advocating regime change in Iran similar to that which occurred in Iraq's case."

Shahidsaless goes on to note the tight relationship between CIA director Mike Pompeo and the FDD, citing an Oct. 19 FDD event at which both Pompeo and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster spoke and showered praise all over the FDD. Pompeo hinted at the time that the bin Laden release was coming soon and that it would include evidence supposedly linking Iran to Al Qaeda.

"The story is reminiscent of the claim that al-Qaeda members were trained by the secular and nationalist Baathist Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein," Shahidsaless notes, pointing out that that earlier story proved to be a hoax.

Shahidsaless cites a 2015 article by Seymour Hersh, and a series of tweets by former CIA analyst Ed Price, who apparently angrily resigned from the agency some months back over President Trump's attacks on former CIA director John Brennan and former FBI Director James Comey. That aside, Price wrote in a Nov. 8 column in The Atlantic that Pompeo's release wasn't about transparency as the CIA press release claimed.

"A close read of his statements and the CIA's public rollout of the new documents suggests, instead, that their release is part of his ongoing campaign to link al-Qaeda to Tehran and, in so doing, undermine the Iran nuclear deal," of which Pompeo is a fierce critic, Price wrote.

"Pompeo was said to have been a key architect behind President Trump's announcement last month that the nuclear deal was no longer in America's national security interest, which essentially left Congress to decide whether sanctions should be re-imposed," Prince reports. "Pompeo is playing politics with intelligence, using these files in a ploy to bolster the case against Iran by reinvigorating the debate on its terrorist ties," Price writes further. "This effort reeks of former vice president Dick Cheney's consistent false allegations of links between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the 9/11 attacks, a nexus the Bush administration debunked only after we had lost too much in blood and treasure."