Close: ‘Don’t Send US Soldiers into Iran to Spy’
The question of US intelligence on Iran is now coming to the fore.
Veteran CIA Middle East analyst Ray Close reacts to rumors that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld may send Special Operations forces into Iran on intelligence missions. (One clarification: in popular parlance we speak of CIA “agents.” But in the intelligence world, an “agent” is actually a local person recruited by an intelligence field officer.)
‘ I do not believe that in today’s atmosphere there is any justification whatsoever for infiltrating covert paramilitary agents (especially American service personnel) into Iran.
I am confident that there are enough very intelligent, well-placed, and highly motivated Iranians in key positions within the government and in the intellectual community in Iran who would be excellent candidates for recruitment as clandestine sources. People of that kind can be recruited not as agents of the Great Satan, but as patriotic Iranians who love their country and are willing to risk everything for (dare I use the word?) FREEDOM.
We should therefore be relying on the classic methods of agent recruitment and handling to achieve our objectives inside Iran, not cowboy operations dreamed up in the bowels of the Pentagon by wanabe Rambos. (There is a role, of course, for electronic and other technical forms of stand-off intelligence collection, but those lie outside the scope of this commentary.)
Further, we should emphatically NOT listen to the large fat-cat (and primarily self-interested) Iranian exile community in Beverly Hills, London and Paris, who would be no more reliable than Ahmed Chalabi and his crew were in the case of Iraq. (To be sure, most of these exiled Iranians are fine individuals, and most are now loyal Americans, but ALL political exiles very quickly lose touch with reality and are deluded by memories of their society as it was a whole generation ago. The Iranian-American community and their relatives in Europe are no exception to that rule. )
Nor should we accept at face value the intelligence on Iran that we get from the Israelis. Mossad has a long history of influencing us through the intelligence liaison system by providing “sexed up” intelligence that was warped to benefit Israel’s special interests, often at the expense of the United States. (That bias has not always been deliberately injected with malice aforethought, but the practice has been persistent, and must be carefully guarded against if we want to form our own objective judgments.)
But back to my first point: the worst course of all would be reliance on the infiltration of American (or surrogate third-country) military types, whose primary mission, presumably, would be to scout out likely targets for bombing. First of all, we should NOT BOMB Iran at all — under ANY circumstances. Simply put, even the most successful physical results would be politically disastrous, and would kill whatever healthy opposition movement struggles to stay alive within Iranian society today.
So what possible “intelligence” could Special Forces agents collect that would be worth the downside risks of exposure, capture, show trials, etc? It’s frighteningly stupid! ‘