Clinton Knew Iran Was Working on Nukes
TRANSCRIPT: Rush Limbaugh Show
The Risen book, the excerpts in the Risen book. What's the name of this book, the idiot book? I can't remember. "State of War," is the name of the book. This is a guy that wrote the New York Times piece December 16th, got all this hullabaloo going, and here's the story, and the story misses about 30% of the import of this, I think. (Story) "The CIA, using a double-agent Russian scientist, may have handed a blueprint for a nuclear bomb to Iran, according to a new book which has ruffled the US national security establishment. 'State of War' by James Risen, the New York Times reporter who exposed..."
I'm sorry, the New York Times advocate and arbiter "who exposed the Bush administration's controversial domestic spying operation, claims the plans contained fatal flaws designed to derail Tehran's nuclear drive. But the deliberate errors were so rudimentary they would have been easily fixed by sophisticated Russian nuclear scientists, the book said. The operation, which took place during the Clinton administration in early 2000, was code-named Operation Merlin and 'may have been one of the most reckless operations in the modern history of the CIA,' according to Risen." Now, when you read that, "Wow!" You focus on Clinton, and you focus on the fact that the CIA was trying -- and this is, by the way, from what I understand, pretty common. If you know people around us and they need to steal technology, or they need to get it through counterespionage, and you know they're trying to get it, give it to them. Just give them a bunch of garbage and give a bunch of garbage that won't work once they put it together.
Now, Risen thinks that the important thing about this is that the CIA botched something real badly and that the CIA didn't take into account that the Russians would be able to notice the errors in the leaked instructions, talking about a firing set here. What they did, the plan, "called for the unnamed scientist, a defector from the Soviet nuclear program, to offer Iran the blueprint for a 'firing set' -- the intricate mechanism which triggers the chain reaction needed for a nuclear explosion. According to Risen's book, the agent, posing as a greedy Russian scientist keen to steel secrets, delivered to plans as instructed by the CIA to Iran's mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. He had been told by CIA officers that the Iranians already had the technology detailed in the plans -- and that the ruse was simply an attempt by the agency to find out the full scope of Tehran's nuclear knowledge.
"But, contrary to orders not to open the packet, [the double agent] added a note which made it clear he could help fix the flaws -- for money. The CIA declined to comment in detail on the book's claims on Iran -- but issued a vigorous condemnation of Risen's work and methods. Jennifer Millerwise, CIA Director of Public Affairs, said, 'Readers deserve to know that every chapter of State of War contains serious inaccuracies. The author's reliance on anonymous sources begs the reader to trust that these are knowledgeable people. As this book demonstrates, anonymous sources are often unreliable." All right. Now, this happened in 2000. That's six years ago. Okay, so this is the first thing that jumped out at me. If the CIA has put together this secret plan called codename Operation Merlin, and its purpose was to foul up the Iranian's attempt to successfully build firing sets that trigger the nuclear explosion, the chain reaction needed for a nuclear explosion, what is the first thing you conclude from that?
They were working on a nuclear bomb as far back as 2000! The Iranians were working on a nuclear bomb as far back as 2000, because if they weren't, if they weren't working on a nuclear bomb, then why would you need this operation? Why would you need Operation Merlin? The second thing that sort of stands out at me is, if you read more of the story, the excerpt, you find out the Russians were the ones helping the Iranians. So you have to know that this plan was kind of screwy because you have to figure that the Russians are going to figure out they've got a bad set of instructions here, whether you got this bogus agent or not. The whole plan seems kind of... It just doesn't seem to be all that well thought out. This plan seemed easy -- easy to figure out on the part of the Iranians and the Russians. The Russians are helping the Iranians. Forget the double agent here. That's not even important.
You had a greedy double agent who offered to sell to the Iranians the corrections to the mistakes the CIA was trying to get him to feed to the Iranians, but you don't even need that -- the Iranians don't -- because they're working with the Russians already, and the double agent is a recalcitrant, fed-up, teed-off Russian nuclear scientist. So they're already working with people who can spot the error. That's the incompetence. Whoever put this program together at the CIA didn't stop to think about it. Now, there's a third question. There's a third question, and that is was this a rogue operation or did Clinton know about it? And the reason I ask that question is this: If they had taken this to Clinton, would Clinton have authorized it? I don't get the impression Clinton cared a whit about this kind of stuff. He didn't want to tackle big issues. He hadn't tackled terrorism. He hadn't tackled anything that was big. He didn't want to upset his approval numbers.
These are things that we don't know, but I'm guessing here that the CIA learned six years ago Iran's working on a nuclear bomb, that's the big deal out of this. So if you want to take the big news out of this, it's that: Iran's been working on this for a long time. Some people don't believe that to this day, and the reason that's important, you've got that (sigh) hack ElBaradei at the UN running around saying they're only months way. You have the European Union negotiating and trying to use diplomacy to get this insane lunatic that runs Iran to give up the program or to stall it. He's saying, "Hell, no! We're going to go ahead with this plan, and who do you think you are? We want to become one of the nuclear club, and we're getting close and close and close." Now, in the current climate with the CIA having botched weapons of mass destruction along with everybody else's intelligence prewar -- and we're still not sure that they botched it. We know that Saddam had it, but let's just take the current template, the conventional wisdom. The conventional wisdom is the CIA blew it on weapons of mass destruction. They blew it on prewar intel. Everything they knew was wrong. They didn't get anything right. They haven't been able to do a decent job on anything in the last 25 years, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Okay, now, here's ElBaradei out there saying, "Well, we're six, seven months away from the Iranians having a nuclear weapon." There was a story yesterday: Iran's already figured out how to separate uranium from the ore and get yellow cake, and that means they didn't have to send Joe Wilson to Niger to try to buy some. I mean, it's already taken care of. The CIA comes out and says all that stuff now, is anybody going to believe 'em? If the Bush administration came out and said, "We've got a big problem in Iran. They're this close to a nuclear weapon. We've got to do something about it," you know what the catcalls in this country would be from the American left or from the Democratic Party? "There goes Bush again, lying to get the American people all ginned up in fear so we can get another war going in Iran so we can go beat up some more Muslims," and so forth. Nobody would believe it. That's what the important part of this story is to me is. Risen doesn't even get this. This is something he didn't even get. This guy is not even smart enough to know what he's learned in his own reporting. This guy doesn't figure it out. He's off on some tangent about how the CIA blew their program. The fact is, Risen, this is a tantamount admission or evidence that Iran has been working on a nuclear plant at least for six years -- and I don't think that's insignificant in the context of the Middle East or in the context of the world.
RUSH: In the break I've been pointed to a column on this very subject that I opened the program with by Michael Ledeen at National Review Online. He was friends with James Jesus Angleton. James Jesus Angleton is the greatest counterintelligence agent Langley has ever had. Bill Buckley has written a book about him, and as Ledeen writes his piece he gets out the Ouija board and contacts Angleton up in heaven to get the input of what's going on, and I missed something in this when I speculated the CIA might have done this because Clinton didn't know, apparently. Let me just read to you from Ledeen's column. (interruption) No, no, no, no. They did make the case. They did (interruption). Well, one more thing. "Well, maybe the CIA had a political problem. They certainly knew that Clinton wasn't going to do anything about it, so why should they make the case? Just go ahead and implement the program," and Angleton said, "No, no, no, no, no. They did make the case."
That's Risen's real scoop and he doesn't even know it. They had to make the case to Clinton in order to justify the operation. You couldn't have Merlin unless you knew there was an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Remember that Risen makes a big deal about the fact that the Russian defector was carrying a technical design for a firing set for a Russian-designed nuclear weapon, and now Operation Merlin was to use a double agent to give a false set of instructions on assembling the firing set. We give the false instructions, but the point is that the program was silly because the Russians were working with the Iranians and could spot the error and could spot the subterfuge and could spot our effort, so what we were trying to do in a clandestine way was not clandestine at all. It was spotted immediately, and the end result is, is that the Iranians were able to put together the firing set necessary to trigger the reaction to cause a nuclear explosion.
Then you might say, "Okay, so Clinton ends up giving the Iranians the bomb." That may be a bit of a stretch, but it certainly is worth considering. But still to me, the really fascinating thing about this is that the Clinton administration knew, and now I'm convinced had to sign off on this CIA operation to try to sting the Iranians into building a device that didn't work. So they knew that they were building nuclear weapons or had their eyes on it -- and the way we went about it was absolutely foolhardy. It was destined to be found out. The plan was idiotic. It had no chance of success, and in the process, the Iranians figured out the correct set, firing-set instructions, and it moved them even closer to the day that we're even closer to now, than we were back in the year 2000.
So I wanted to pass this on because I haven't seen excerpts of Risen's book, at least these two stories anywhere but in the Guardian and in the Times of India, folks, great mainstream organizations that they are, and I wanted to pass this on to you. Anybody in the next two or three months, four or five months or whatever, somebody says, "You know, we got a problem in Iran. They're developing nukes," and you're going to hear a chorus of catcalls from the left and Democrats in this country: More Bush lies. More Washington lies! Bush trying to change the subject. Bush trying to get the bad news of whatever they're going to call bad news off the front pages and get people focused on nukes again. Remember, Bush lied and Cheney lied about Saddam and nukes. So when that happens, and it's going to happen, you just remember that we've got evidence now from the Clinton administration and the CIA program that the Iranians having working on a nuclear weapon for at least six years, if not more.