Saturday, August 09, 2003


Unenviable Situation links to an article in Newsday of a secret meeting between Pentagon officials and an arms dealer in the Iran-contra scandal. This meeting was unauthorized by the Whitehouse (we hope):

Washington - Pentagon hardliners pressing for regime change in Iran have held secret and unauthorized meetings in Paris with a controversial arms dealer who was a major figure in the Iran-contra scandal, according to administration officials.

The officials said at least two Pentagon officials working for Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith have held "several" meetings with Manucher Ghorbanifar, the Iranian middleman in U.S. arms-for-hostage shipments to Iran in the mid-1980s.

The administration officials who disclosed the secret meetings to Newsday said the talks with Ghorbanifar were not authorized by the White House and appeared to be aimed at undercutting current sensitive back channel negotiations with the Iranian regime.

"They [the Pentagon officials] were talking to him [Ghorbanifar] about stuff which they weren't officially authorized to do," said a senior administration official. "It was only accidentally that certain parts of our government learned about it."

The official would not identify those "parts" of the government, but a former intelligence official confirmed they are the State Department, the CIA and the White House, itself.

The senior official and another administration source who confirmed that the meetings had taken place said that the ultimate policy objective of Feith and a group of neo-conservatives civilians inside the Pentagon is regime change in Iran.

This second official said, "United States policy officially is not regime change, overtly or covertly," but to engage Iranian officials in dialogue over contentious issues, such as Iran's nuclear weapons program, and to press the regime to extradite al-Qaida operatives.

He said that the immediate objective of the Pentagon hardliners appears to be to "antagonize Iran so that they get frustrated and then by their reactions harden U.S. policy against them."

He confirmed that Secretary of State Colin Powell complained directly to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld several days ago about Feith's policy shop conducting missions that countered U.S. policy.