David Habakkuk's latest piece brings us some interesting reflections on the neoconservatives and their various exile clients:
Much more could be said about the sheer oddity of a conceptions of a
'forward strategy' in which conmen like Chalabi or Berezovsky come to
be seen as appropriate vehicles to make other societies 'liberal and
democratic'. What cannot be claimed, however, is that these
conceptions are simply the fig-leaves of cunning Machiavellians. In
relation to their own societies, the neoconservatives and their British
fellow-travellers may indeed be masterly manipulators. But their
propensity to see alien societies through thick ideological filters
makes them easy prey for conmen in their dealings with the wider world
— so that the actual outcomes of the strategies they advocate are
highly liable to be quite different from those they envisage. (European Tribune)
As it happens, the US Senate Intelligence committee released a report this week which neatly illustrates David's argument. It concerns a series of meetings which began in Rome in 2001:
The meeting included Larry Franklin (Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense, International Security Affairs), Harold Rhode (Office of Net Assessments), Michael Ledeen (former Office of the Secretary of Defense and National Security Council consultant), Manucher Ghorbanifar (Iranian exile), [Iranian #1] (Iranian living in exile in Morocco), [Iranian #2] (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Official), and an unidentified employee of [a foreign government].
Michael Ledeen arranged the meeting with the help of his contacts in
Italy and [the foreign government] who provided the meeting place and
the logistical support. (Partly redacted in original/links added).
A later passage in the report considers the counterintelligence implications:
The most significant matter raised in the Counterintelligence Field Activity's report was the possibility that Mr. "Ghorbanifar of his associates are being used as agents of a foreign intelligence service to leverage his continuing contact with Michael Ledeen and others to reach into and influence the highest leveles of the U.S. Government." The report noted that there were multiple occasions where information from Mr. Ghorbanifar entered U.S. Government channels via Mr. Ledeen. These channels included personnel from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, CIA, DoD, the White House, and Congress. As a result, Mr. Ghorbanifar was able to communicate with US Government officials via Mr. Ledeen without having direct contact. While the report concluded that Mr. Ledeen was likely unwitting of any counterintelligence issues related to his relationship with Mr. Ghorbanifar, their association was widely known, and therefore it should be presumed other foreign intelligence services, including those of Iran, would know.
Exploiting opposition figures in this way would be a classic intelligence ploy.