A friend writes:
Here are Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett commenting on some recent stories that theorize a link between Iran and Al Qaeda. The stories come from government sources; all the conjectures thus far are unsubstantiated. But last week the government turned up the heat, and formally charged six persons with being agents of an alleged “secret deal” between Iran and Al Qaeda.
Why did this announcement come out of the Treasury Department, of all places? The answer may be traceable in some measure and at some distance to “the point man for the Obama administration’s financial wars on Iran, North Korea and al Qaeda, Stuart Levey” (Laura Rozen Politico story).
On January 23 Levey resigned as Undersecretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence; but this is one of the many areas in which the Obama administration claims rigorous continuity with the Bush-Cheney arrangements; and Levey was succeeded by his chosen deputy and former law partner, David Cohen (see Jennifer Rubin’s adulatory account).
His career (see Wikipedia) is that of an upper-echelon neoconservative; and here the clerking for Judge Laurence Silberman is significant. A close ally of Dick Cheney and a participant in the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign deliberations on the Iran hostage crisis, Judge Silberman was appointed by G.W. Bush as co-chair of the Iraq Intelligence Commission which cleared the Bush-Cheney administration of charges that it had deliberately used flawed intelligence to promote the war, and abridged reports to yield a predigested result.
The Leveretts remark that the heavy but unsubstantiated rumors (now assisted by formal charges) about a link between Iran and Al Qaeda follow the playbook of the run-up to the Iraq war. The Obama administration has been simplifying the explanations of its commitments in South Asia and North Africa, so words like Kashmir and Pashtun and Haqqani Network seldom appear, but “Al Qaeda” has come back roaring at every opportunity, most recently in Obama’s “Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal Speech.”
All the signs indicate a strategy of aggressive posturing on Iran in the long year leading up to the 2012 election.