Rep. Ruben Gallego: intelligence is being manipulated to exaggerate the threat from Iran


Last week Sen. “Tehran Tom” Cotton (R-AR), who along with 46 of his Republican Senate colleagues back in 2015 violated the Logan Act when they penned a letter to Iran’s leaders trying to scuttle the P5+1 Iran Nuclear Dear Deal, predicted in a recent PBS interview that the US would easily win a war against Iran in ‘two strikes’:

“Could we win in a war with Iran?” PBS’ “Firing Line” host Margaret Hoover asked Cotton.

“Yes, two strikes,” Cotton said. “The first strike and the last strike.”

The senator said he was not calling for war, just saying that the US would win easily.

As a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, this reckless war hawk should know better that a war with Iran would neither be quick nor easy, and come at a substantial cost in American blood and treasure.

And what exactly did he mean by “The first strike and the last strike”? This kind of eliminationist rhetoric implies a nuclear strike, against a country that does not possess nuclear weapons.

Anyone can go to Baghdad. Real men go to Tehran.” – Senior Bush Official, May 2003

On Sunday, a rocket landed inside Baghdad’s Green Zone near the U.S. Embassy amid increasing tensions in the region. This occurred after the U.S. ordered the evacuation of staff from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad just last week amid intelligence that Iran was preparing potential missile attacks against American interests in the region. Coincidence, or a pretext?

No one claimed responsibility for the incident, which caused no injuries and no serious damage, but suspicion among Iraqi officials and Western diplomats fell on one of the Shiite militias — which draw their strength from Iranian support.

Cue our Twitter-troll-in-chief, whose Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his National Security Adviser John Bolton are building a pretext for war with Iran. Threats would mean ‘official end’ of Iran, Trump warns in tweet:

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran,” Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon. “Never threaten the United States again!”

That appeared to be a considerable shift in tone from the president’s brief remarks at the White House on Thursday, when he responded “I hope not” after being asked whether the United States and Iran were headed toward war.

[H]is threatening language Sunday echoes rhetoric he used against North Korea in 2017, when he warned of “fire and fury” against the regime of Kim Jong Un before ultimately holding direct talks with the North Korean leader in Singapore and Vietnam.

What exactly did Trump mean by “that will be the official end of Iran”? Clearly he does not mean conventional warfare, because the U.S. is still in Afghanistan after 18 years, and still in Iraq after 16 years, with no clear “victory” in sight.

The “end of Iran” is eliminationist rhetoric that implies a nuclear strike, against a country that does not possess nuclear weapons. Threatening to eliminate a country — its people — is a genocidal threat that no leader of any country should make, let alone the president of the United States. This is insane.

CD 7 Congressman Ruben Gallego

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), a veteran of Iraq and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has called for restraint among lawmakers and the White House in dealing with what he has said is intelligence manipulated into exaggerating the threat that Iran poses to the United States and its allies. ‘I get the same intel:’ Iran threat exaggerated by GOP hawks, Rep. Gallego says:

Gallego said he received a classified briefing Friday.

What I saw was a lot of misinterpretation and wanting conflict coming from the administration and intelligence community,” Gallego told The Washington Post by phone Saturday. “Intel doesn’t show existential threats. Even what it shows, it doesn’t show threats to U.S. interests.”

Gallego said the two main drivers of what he described as a false narrative are national security adviser John Bolton and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). Both men have been lobbying for a military escalation against Iran, in media appearances and behind closed doors. Cotton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, appeared on cable news discussing “multiple and credible sources of increased threats” from Iran.

“I get the same intel as Cotton,” Gallego wrote Saturday on Twitter. “He is greatly exaggerating the situation to spur us to war. Don’t fall for it.”

A spokesman for Cotton, who is himself a veteran of Iraq as well as Afghanistan, did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the National Security Council did not immediately respond to a similar request.

Gallego said both committees get similar, if not the same, briefings from military and State Department officials.

Gallego said the temperature has lowered in recent days after skepticism with the American public and in Congress over the credibility of a threat from Iran. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), frequent Trump defender, said this week that he felt lawmakers had not been “well-informed” or thoroughly briefed on Iran.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) told the Atlantic, “We may be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of conflict with Iran — and without any endgame in mind.”

Gallego voiced similar concerns about miscalculations or willful misrepresentations of intelligence to justify military strikes against Iran.

This month, a U.S. aircraft carrier deployment was expedited and bombers were dispatched to the region in response to reports of increased activity by Iranian military forces and proxy groups. Citing news reports and nonclassified intelligence, Gallego said small Iranian vessels carrying missiles had escalated tensions and caused military forces to go on higher alert.

Iran could have loaded those missiles to move them out of fear of U.S. military action, rather than in preparation for an offensive strike, said Ilan Goldenberg, the director of the Middle East security program at the Center for a New American Security.

Deciding that Iran’s actions are offensive in nature could be a sign of confirmation bias, Gallego said.

He warned of other intelligence-fueled miscalculations in a complex situation such as the one in Iran, when U.S. actions can affect decisions by Iranian military forces and Iran’s militant proxies in Syria and Iraq.

“Deterrence is important to contain bad actors like Iran. But there has to be a fine line between deterrence and escalation,” Gallego said. “We can’t automatically go to war because a 17-year-old fires an AK-47 at U.S. interests.”

Or a Shiite militia fires a mortar rocket into the Green Zone in Baghdad, a frequent occurrence over the 16 year war in Iraq. That is looking for a pretext for war.