Letter 2 America for January 25, 2016

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Dear America,

Most of the time, the subjects that appear in the New York Times are reported on the evening news the night before.  But over the past week or so, The Times has reported on a few subjects that have gone unnoticed in the electronic media.  The one that got my attention first was about lower oil prices and their impact on our economy, but we have talked about that before in other contexts, so I think I'll save that for another time.  There was also an article in yesterday's magazine about corporate wealth.  American corporations are currently sitting on a collective bankroll of $1.9 trillion, which is up from the last time I heard about it, but as with oil prices, that is a subject that I have written about in the past, and as it isn't going to change any time soon, I think I'll come back to it.  The item that disturbed me the most, however, had nothing to do with our economy.  It had to do with Iran.

You may remember the conservative, Republican castigation regarding Americans being held in Iran by the Iranian government that followed the announcement of the Iran nuclear deal.  The Obama administration said little in response other than that the purported Iranian engagement in terrorism and the "hostages" had nothing to do with the nuclear issue.  However, it has now become clear that the administration was negotiating with Iran at the highest levels for the release of those being held, and a week or so ago, five were released, four of them coming home and one remaining in Iran for some unknown reason, only to come back to the United States a few days later.  But there is another presumed prisoner, Robert Levinson, who disappeared in a place called Kish Island in Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf.  He was taken in 2007, presumably by the Iranian government, though it has denied knowledge of his whereabouts for some time, alleging that Levinson was an FBI, or other government, agent, which was denied in this country.  Over the course of the eight years since Levinson disappeared, various stories have trickled into the print media about what Levinson was doing there, and who sent him.  The original story was that he was investigating--he was a former FBI agent turned private investigator it has been reported--a cigarette smuggling case for the company for which he worked, but subsequent characterizations of his mission on Kish Island range from that kind of commercial-enterprise- related purpose to attempting to recruit a fugitive American murder suspect named Salahuddin to act as an American intelligence source, which he was doing on behalf of some element of the CIA.  For what it's worth, the CIA now says the mission was unauthorized as was sending Levinson to Iran for that or any other purpose, though Levinson did have a contract with the CIA's analytics unit.  According to The Times, Salahuddin, a convert to Islam, is an assassin, and other sources state that the killing of which he was accused in this country was of an Iranian dissident.  The obvious question is, was Salahuddin to act as an informant, or was he to do what he apparently did in the United States: kill people.  The Republicans never mentioned any of that, did they.

Imagine what would happen to an Iranian who was caught in this country doing what Salahuddin is accused of doing.  Assuming that his crime was disclosed, he would go to prison and await trial, unless he was sent to the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he might stay, unbeknownst to anyone, for a long, long time.  Yet, Republicans whined about Iran's detention of Levinson and the Obama administrations failure to get him released, crying crocodile tears all the while and refusing to allow The President to close Guantanamo, where we do just what they were accusing the Iranians of doing: hold prisoners without due process for hostile acts against our government.  I'm not sure how I feel about taking such extra-judicial steps with regard to saboteurs and spies acting against the United States, though the denial of at least some semblance of due process is anathema to me.  But by the same token, I am not sure how I feel about the Iranians holding Robert Levinson, who appears to have been engaged in just such activities against Iran.  Regardless of what I think, the Republican harangue against Iran and the American aegis under which the nuclear pact was accomplished because they claim that Levinson is a victim of Iranian lawlessness may well be based on a totally self-serving canard.  It seems as though Levinson was some self-important would-be spy who got caught doing something he shouldn't have been doing even if he were doing it here in this country.  It seems likely to me that he and one or more CIA cowboy adventurers decided that, like the Reagan administration's rogue operation in Nicaragua, it would be cool to secretly undermine another country's government just because our conservative politicians don't like it...and Levinson got caught.

Of course deniability is everything in such cases.  Henry II of England was reputed to have said to a group of his vassals, "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?", making reference to Thomas √° Becket who was subsequently murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by one or more of those self-same knights.   Personally, I am convinced that Reagan said in a meeting attended by Ollie North that he wished someone would secretly get some guns to those Contras in Nicaragua so that we didn't have to get our hands dirty, but we could still do the right thing and overthrow the Sandinista regime.  Now, I wouldn't be surprised if some mid-level CIA bureaucrat said in a meeting that we ought to get some contract killer in Iran to murder the Iatolla.  But no matter what the case, we shouldn't be surprised that the Iranians, and for that matter the rest of the anti-American world, keep shouting that we are not holier than they are.  Sometimes, our own self-righteousness is our own worst enemy.

Your friend,

Mike
 

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Wolf published on January 25, 2016 2:29 PM.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Wolf published on January 25, 2016 2:29 PM.

Letter 2 America for January 20, 2016 was the previous entry in this blog.

Letter 2 America for January 27, 2016 is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

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