Dear Iran: “Of course you know, this means war!” — Updated

October 12, 2011

Or, it would, if we had an administration with the spine of a Warner Bros. cartoon character.

ABC broke the news yesterday of an Iranian assassination plot foiled by the FBI and the DEA:

The new case, called Operation Red Coalition, began in May when an Iranian-American from Corpus Christi, Texas, approached a DEA informant seeking the help of a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, according to counter-terrorism officials.

The Iranian-American thought he was dealing with a member of the feared Zetas Mexican drug organization, according to agents.

The DEA office in Houston brought in FBI agents as the international terror implications of the case became apparent.

The Iranian-American, identified by federal officials as Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, reportedly claimed he was being “directed by high-ranking members of the Iranian government,” including a cousin who was “a member of the Iranian army but did not wear a uniform,” according to a person briefed on the details of the case.

Arbabsiar and a second man, Gohlam Shakuri, an Iranian official, were named in a five-count criminal complaint filed Tuesday afternoon in federal court in New York. They were charged with conspiracy to kill a foreign official and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, a bomb, among other counts. Shakuri is still at large in Iran, Holder said.

Holder identified Shakuri as an Iran-based member of the Quds force, a much feared special unit in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The Treasury sanctions named several other members of the Iranian Quds force as well.

Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen, expressed “utter disregard for collateral damage” in the planned bomb attacks in Washington, according to officials.

The complaint describes a conversation in which Arbabsiar was allegedly directing the informant to kill the Saudi ambassador and said the assassination could take place at a restaurant. When the informant feigned concern about Americans who also eat at the restaurant, Arbabsiar said he preferred if bystanders weren’t killed but, “Sometimes, you know, you have no choice, is that right?”

BTW, that same restaurant is known to be frequented by US senators. But, hey, sometimes “you have no choice.” Argentina was also discussed as a target, a country Iran has attacked before in their desire to kill Jews.

There’s no doubt this is a casus belli — “a cause of war.” The Iranian government has been caught red-handed organizing a terrorist operation on US soil, an operation that would not only have killed foreigners under our protection but, very likely, American citizens. And the flippant dismissal of the prospect of killing government officials makes this an attack on our government, too. While there’s no direct evidence that Khamenei or Ahmadinejad knew about this in advance, well… yeah, right. Their prime foreign covert operations agency, the Quds Force, plans an attack on the territory of the Great Satan (that’s us), and the Big Nuts in the Iranian fruitcake don’t know about it?

Like I said, “yeah, right.”

But, don’t worry, the Obama Administration is not planning any military retaliation, true to its “September 10th” values:

That a foreign government would plot to kill a foreign leader on American soil could be seen as an act of war, but Obama administration officials say the path the U.S. government will purse will align with American interests – and a military response and possible armed conflict with a third Muslim nation would not be part of that. (Though, it should be noted, the official White House position is “no option is off the table.”)

This afternoon the Treasury Department announced further sanctions against Iran, and in coming days diplomats at the United Nations and elsewhere will discuss further ways to isolate Iran, while American officials will spread far and wide throughout the region that the Iranian government was planning to kill an Arab leader.

In other words, we’re going to treat this as a law-enforcement matter, lay down sanctions, and run around telling the Arabs what they already know: that the mullahs are a bunch of dangerous psychos.

That’ll have Tehran quaking in its boots. Probably from laughing at us.

It may seem odd for me to quote Osama bin Laden, but one thing he said was very true, at least as far as life in the Muslim world goes:

“When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.”

This is us playing the weak horse, whining when someone uses our land to carry out terror attacks. Other dictators around the world (and the people who have to live under or near them) will see this and act accordingly, as Iraq is now doing.

Let’s be honest: Iran has been at war with us since 1979, but we’ve failed to recognize this and act accordingly. Even a president as great as Reagan had a blind spot when it came to Iran and thought he could reach a grand bargain, and Bush failed to take strong action against Syria and Iran when they sponsored the guerrilla war against us in Iraq from 2004-2008. So Obama isn’t the first to naively believe that restraint would be seen as anything other than weakness.

But it’s time for it to stop.

The naked truth is that Iran is killing our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Whether directly or indirectly, it doesn’t matter. Their puppets Hizbullah and Hamas attack our ally, Israel. They are waging war against us (this attack was meant as much to humiliate us as to strike at the Saudis) and have taken that war to our homeland.  It’s time to stop wagging our fingers in disapproval and instead punch back — hard.

Lest someone accuse me of being a warmonger, I’m not advocating invading Iran or sinking their navy in retaliation, as emotionally satisfying as that might be. We don’t have to in order to defeat them. As Michael Ledeen has often pointed out (most recently here), the Iranian regime’s grip on power is brittle; their people hate them; they face frequent rebellion and acts of sabotage. If we simply had the moral clarity and political courage to provide the peoples of Iran with the political, propaganda, and logistical support to wage their own struggle against the tyrants, as Reagan did in Poland against the Soviets, we could win without firing a shot.

Instead, we do the diplomatic equivalent of writing them a speeding ticket.

That’s no way to win a war.

CYNICAL THOUGHT: Funny how this news breaks just as AG Holder and the administration are facing close scrutiny for the Gunwalker scandal. There’s no evidence I’ve seen that this plot had gone operational and had to be stopped now. Hmmm….

LINKS: Three must-read articles at The Long War Journal and Threat Matrix. JustOneMinute thinks Holder learned a lesson. Fausta talks about the mounting threat in Latin America from Hizbullah, an Iranian cats-paw. Let’s not forget, the Iranians tried to run this plot through Mexican drug cartels. Still think that border is secure, Mr. President? Power Line notes the “axis of evil” between Iran and Los Zetas. This isn’t just about immigration — this is a national security issue.

UPDATE: Former federal prosecutor (And no fan of Obama and Holder) Andy McCarthy puts my cynical thought to rest — a frame-up makes no sense.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Gunwalker: Holder subpoenaed

October 12, 2011

Following up on his promise from yesterday, Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has issued a subpoena to Attorney-General Eric Holder for documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious.

They’re asking for a lot:

In accordance with the attached schedule instructions, you, Eric H. Holder Jr., are required to produce all records in unredacted form described below:

All communications referring or relating to Operation Fast and Furious, the Jacob Chambers case, or any Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) firearms trafficking case based in Phoenix, Arizona, to or from the following individuals:

a. Eric Holder Jr., Attorney General;

b. David Ogden, Former Deputy Attorney General;

c. Gary Grindler, Office of the Attorney General and former Acting Deputy Attorney General;

d. James Cole, Deputy Attorney General;

e. Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General;

f. Ronald Weich, Assistant Attorney General;

g. Kenneth Blanco, Deputy Assistant Attorney General;

h. Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General;

i. John Keeney, Deputy Assistant Attorney General;

j. Bruce Swartz, Deputy Assistant Attorney General;

k. Matt Axelrod, Associate Deputy Attorney General;

l. Ed Siskel, former Associate Deputy Attorney General;

m. Brad Smith, Office of the Deputy Attorney General;

n. Kevin Carwile, Section Chief, Capital Case Unit, Criminal Division;

o. Joseph Cooley, Criminal Fraud Section, Criminal Division; and,

p. James Trusty, Acting Chief, Organized Crime and Gang Section.

2. All communications between and among Department of Justice (DOJ) employees and Executive Office of the President employees, including but not limited to Associate Communications Director Eric Schultz, referring or relating to Operation Fast and Furious or any other firearms trafficking cases.

3. All communications between DOJ employees and Executive Office of the President employees referring or relating to the President’s March 22, 2011 interview with Jorge Ramos of Univision.

4. All documents and communications referring or relating to any instances prior to February 4, 2011 where the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) failed to interdict weapons that had been illegally purchased or transferred.

5. All documents and communications referring or relating to any instances prior to February 4, 2011 where ATF broke off surveillance of weapons and subsequently became aware that those weapons entered Mexico.

6. All documents and communications referring or relating to the murder of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata, including but not limited to documents and communications regarding Zapata’s mission when he was murdered, Form for Reporting Information That May Become Testimony (FD-302), photographs of the crime scene, and investigative reports prepared by the FBI.

And that’s not even half.

The command that the documents not be in any way redacted shouldn’t be surprising; as far back as last June, Issa was berating Holder for supplying documents that were covered in black ink, going so far as to tell the Attorney General he should be ashamed.

But it’s specification 19 that’s of particular interest:

All documents and communications between and among FBI employees in Arizona and the FBI Laboratory, including but not limited to employees in the Firearms/Toolmark Unit, referring or relating to the firearms recovered during the course of the investigation of Brian Terry’s death

I’m not 100% certain, but I believe this is in reference to a supposed “third gun” found at the scene of the murder of Border Patrol Agent Terry, a gun which has since vanished. That would indicate the committee is not just looking to find out “who knew what and when did they know it,” but also specific information that would indicate a cover up and evidence tampering.

Expect Holder to slow-walk this one as much as possible, perhaps even challenging the subpoena in court. Given the DoJ’s reluctance to cooperate so far, I suspect the unredacted documents contain at least a few bombs waiting to go off.

But even that is fraught with risk for Holder and his boss: eventually the committee will get the documents, their power to investigate as part of their oversight function being widely acknowledged. But, the longer this fight, if there is a fight, goes on, the more trouble it is for Obama and his reelection campaign. At some point, Axelrod is going to come to The One and tell him it’s time to throw Holder under the bus, after which the President and the Attorney General in whom he has complete confidence will have a little chat.

Or will they? The Republicans won’t let this go, even after a Holder resignation or firing. And, once cut loose, Holder will have very strong reasons to name names in order to save his own skin, including “anyone” at the White House who may have known details of Fast and Furious.

Remember, it was a disaffected lawyer who finally broke the wall of silence around the Nixon White House to avoid becoming the scapegoat.

One other note: In case you’re wondering why Holder wasn’t commanded to testify in person, consider this to be “step one” — looking for information that would lead to questions that can then be put to the Attorney General in a “step two,” questions he would have to answer under oath before Congress and the nation.

Stay tuned…

RELATED: Prior Gunwalker posts.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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