What does the story of a reserve Air Force colonel spying for Israel have to do with Iran? Everything, according this important article by Joshua Micah Marshall, Laura Rozen, and Paul Glastris in the Washington Monthly, entitled “Iran-Contra II?.”
The investigation of Franklin is now shining a bright light on a shadowy struggle within the Bush administration over the direction of U.S. policy toward Iran. In particular, the FBI is looking with renewed interest at an unauthorized back-channel between Iranian dissidents and advisers in Feith’s office, which more-senior administration officials first tried in vain to shut down and then later attempted to cover up.
Here is more detail from Juan Cole:
Iran is reported to have Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in custody in summer of 2003, and to be entirely willing to hand him over to the US in return for some high-ranking MEK terrorists. But first the neocon network, including Franklin, Harold Rhode and Michael Ledeen, intervenes to stop the trade (see below). Then, mysteriously, everything that goes wrong in Iraq from about January of 2004 begins being blamed on Zarqawi (is it alleged that Iran let him go, to deliberately disrupt Iraq by blowing up Shiites? More likely, when Iran won’t accommodate the Neocons because of the latters’ ties to MEK, the neocons decide to smear Iran as “harboring” terrorists and “sending” them to Iraq. They know this path might even lead to a US war on Iran, which is what they want. That is one reason they did not want the prisoner exchange to succeed).
There is more from Juan Cole here, and here. The third post from Juan Cole (this one) is particularly interesting for its look at how Israel’s Likud party has co-opted US foreign policy:
Note that over 80% of American Jews vote Democrat, that the majority of American Jews opposed the Iraq war (more were against it than in the general population), and that American Jews have been enormously important in securing civil liberties for all Americans. Moreover, Israel has been a faithful ally of the US and deserves our support in ensuring its security. The Likudniks like to pretend that they represent American Jewry, but they do not. And they like to suggest that objecting to their policies is tantamount to anti-Semitism, which is sort of like suggesting that if you don’t like Chile’s former dictator Pinochet, you are bigotted against Latinos.