‘Washington Post’ runs op-ed pushing Iran attack without saying authors work for Israel’s registered foreign agent

Israel/Palestine
on 14 Comments

More subterfuge in our discourse. The Washington Post published an op-ed piece yesterday on the importance of finding a legal basis for an attack on Iran. Not surprisingly, the op-ed’s authors, Jeffrey H. Smith and John B. Bellinger III, lawyers at Arnold & Porter, supplied such a basis.

Grant Smith sent me this letter that he had sent to the Washington Post:

Would it be too much to ask that WAPO reveal that according to the Justice Department’s Foreign Agent Registration Act section, Arnold and Porter has been serving as Israel’s registered foreign agent since June of 1964?  Would it be a lot more to mention that since 2010 the firm has been receiving a $10,000 per month retainer for advisory services and “special projects?”  Could WAPO possibly trouble itself to inform readers that according to FARA filings the firm earned $1.2 million in fees in 2010 alone from the Israeli government?  Arnold and Porter is now Israel’s largest and longest serving registered foreign agent (not that there aren’t more than a handful of unregistered ones). 

More to the point, why should Americans believe such legalistic and non-contextual Iran attack propaganda courtesy of Israeli foreign agents?

Smith wrote about Arnold & Porter in his book Divert. Excerpt:

Arnold & Porter represented several Israeli government officials in US courts by arguing that sovereign immunity mandates provide blanket protection from legal liability for their actions. In 2007 the firm won dismissal of war crimes and crimes against humanity claims brought by Palestinians against former General Security Service head Avraham Dichter. In 2005 the firm won dismissal of similar claims against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other senior officials, Israeli military forces and an intelligence agency. In 2006 Arnold & Porter also won dismissal of similar claims focusing on a single Israeli official’s actions that resulted in civilian casualties in 1996. In 2008 Israel’s Treasury paid Arnold & Porter $483,401 to defend such actions. In the year 2010 the firm signed a renewable contract with Israel for a $10,000 per month retainer for legal and advisory services and “special projects” with $8,000 in allowed travel expenses. Arnold & Porter reported $1.2 million in fees from the government of Israel for the year 2010.

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14 Responses

  1. seanmcbride
    September 28, 2012, 11:09 am

    The Washington Post, like some other mainstream media outlets, has over the years morphed into a propaganda arm of the Israeli government that has been consistently working against the best interests of the American government and the American people.

    Eventually this issue is going to erupt into a scandal in American politics of immense historic proportions. The situation is really crazy. How we got to this point will be occupying the curious and close attention of historians for many decades to come.

  2. radii
    September 28, 2012, 11:09 am

    Journalism used to mean that this sort of standard fact-checking was done even by a community newspaper … these days the august New York Times can just run stuff like they’re running a blog … good snag – I’m sure there will be an acknowledgement forthcoming after being outed

  3. Denis
    September 28, 2012, 5:01 pm

    Can’t imagine this piece appeared as a result of editorial incompetence or ignorance. WaPo is absolutely complicit in not revealing this conflict of interest, which borders on fraud.

    Folks here should durn well let the WaPo ombudsman know what they think of this.
    202.334.7582 or [email protected]

    Having said that, the opinion piece itself didn’t strike me as particularly lop-sided toward Israel. Smith/Bellinger do push the point that ‘Bama would do well to get Congress to sign off on any attack before he pulls the trigger. That may satisfy US law but it would not mean a thing as far as international law.

    If you recall Phil’s Sep26 post regarding the Joint Senate Resolution — I believe 41 was the number. While that resolution explicitly states that it is not a declaration of war, and while it does not do much more than “strongly” support US policy toward Iran, it leaves little doubt that if ‘Bama asked Congress to sign off on an attack on Iran, the Senate, at least, would be all too willing to go in with both feet and flags flying — i.e. here we go again. More Americans dying for Israel.

    One point S/B fail to address is the goose/gander problem. If, as they argue, it would be legal under international law for Israel or US to throw a preemptive punch at Iran on the grounds of “self-defense,” then a preemptive attack by Iran against Israel/US on the same grounds would be equally legitimate. In fact, it is Israel and the US who have made all the specific threats here, Israel going so far as to “leak” a whole attack scenario. So Iran has an a priori argument of self-defense based on years and years of threats — an argument that is much weaker for Israel/US. This is sort of like the water-boarding issue. Once someone like Bush or ‘Bama determines that water-boarding is legal (in an attempt to protect the US creeps using it), then water-boarding immediately becomes legal when it is used by al-Qaeda against captured US troops.

    Another short-coming of this opinion piece is that while S/B discuss international legalities w/ respect to the UN Charter, there is nary a mention of the Geneva Convention. Surely these two well known, well placed experts, one of whom was general counsel for CIA, could not be collectively brain-ded to the point they unintentionally neglected the impact of the Geneva Convention in determining whether a preemptive attack would be “legal.” But hold on . . . could be that they are that brain-ded.

    Here’s a quote from their opinion. See if you can believe that an ex-general counsel to the CIA would say this in public:

    “A military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities . . .would surely be regarded by Iran as an act of war.”

    “[W]ould surely” ??? WTF? Wait until Jon Stewart gets a hold of this!! Who are these guys talking down to, third graders? This sounds to me like something that would be said by either Sarah Palin, George Bush, or Ronald Reagan or by a government hack who is used to having to employ ridiculous understatement to explain simple concepts to brain-ded politicians like Sarah Palin, George Bush, and Ronald Reagan .

    • ColinWright
      September 28, 2012, 6:22 pm

      Denis says: “…Having said that, the opinion piece itself didn’t strike me as particularly lop-sided toward Israel. Smith/Bellinger do push the point that ‘Bama would do well to get Congress to sign off on any attack before he pulls the trigger. That may satisfy US law but it would not mean a thing as far as international law…”

      Well, they would push for that. The last, best hope of those who would embroil us in a war with Iran is to make Congress the effective decision-maker. There, AIPAC can bring the most pressure to bear.

      …the ‘moderation’ strikes me as typical Zionist swinishness. These types are actually more dangerous than the Gellers. They are just as determined to get us into a war — and considerably more adroit at getting us there.

      • Citizen
        September 29, 2012, 10:19 am

        @ ColinWright
        AIPAC folks wrote and introduced subject “non-binding” resolution into Congress. Joe Lieberman was one of three original sponsors. Clearly a kick in the collective American ass by its alleged reps towards attacking Iran, that is, a set-up. More greasing of the war wheel towards eliminating the slightest threat to Israel’s hegemony in the Middle East, while simultaneously throwing dust in the eyes of anyone looking at US enablement of Israel’s oppression of the natives and more theft of their land.

      • traintosiberia
        September 30, 2012, 11:13 am

        Interesting information –

        “Avner Cohen’s Israel and the Bomb (Columbia, 1998) documents Israel’s nuclear weapons program from the Dimona project before 1967 to its crossing the nuclear threshold before the Six Day War, and into the construction and development of the Negev Nuclear Research Center. The book also highlights the correspondence between Israeli Ambassador to the US Yitzhak Rabin and US Deputy Secretary of State Paul Warnke, where it becomes clear how the US colluded with Israel to mask its nuclear weapons program and accepted its reasons for ignoring the NPT. Rabin asks Warnke, “What is your definition of nuclear
        weapons?” Warnke replies with two points, “the definition of what is and what is not a nuclear weapon, and what is and what is not introduction into the area.” The first part of the definition is fairly clear-cut: if Israel has the components of the bomb, regardless of its state of assembly it would count as a weapon. The second part allows Israel “ambiguity,” with Warnke elaborating on the idea of “introduction” with the remark “that is your term and you will have to define it.” They agreed that if Israel does not test its weapons publically, then they would not be considered to be a nuclear weapons state.

        The ambiguity around the term “introduce” is the reason why Shimon Peres told Khaled Dawoud in 1999, “Israel has not tested any nuclear weapons, and without the test, you cannot even introduce. It is a commitment that Israel gave to the world and the United States of America and we are very serious. Israel said that we are ready to sign the ban on nuclear tests. Not only did we not do a nuclear test, but we are not going to have one. These are guarantees that Israel is not going to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East.” Israel’s own red line is “introduce.” Iran is being given a much lower threshold.”
        V Prsahad-http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/09/28/bomb-bomb-bomb-iran/

    • ColinWright
      September 28, 2012, 6:27 pm

      Denis says: “…Here’s a quote from their opinion. See if you can believe that an ex-general counsel to the CIA would say this in public:

      “A military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities . . .would surely be regarded by Iran as an act of war.”…”

      That is pretty comic. Picture a bunch of Japanese admirals sitting around contemplating the Pearl Harbor strike. ‘But will the US regard this as an act of war?’

      Nahh…we can bomb Iran. It’s cool. Nations bomb each other all the time.

      Scratch comic. These people are a frigging menace. They’re lunatics, acting as if what they’re saying is perfectly sane.

      Of course if we bomb Iran they’re going to go apeshit and retaliate in every way they can think of, with grievous consequences for all. How can anyone think otherwise?

      And for what are we doing this? If we actually want to prevent Iran from acquiring a bomb, the thing to do is to get her to agree to abandon her program if Israel abandons hers.

      If we want Iran to abandon her program while Israel keeps hers, well, that’s a manifestly unjust proposition — but the best way would be to just keeping screwing down on the sanctions.

      If we just want to start an incredibly futile and disruptive war — well then we should keep on with this nonsense. But let’s at least not kid ourselves what it is we’re about.

      • Citizen
        September 29, 2012, 10:28 am

        “If we actually want to prevent Iran from acquiring a bomb, the thing to do is to get her to agree to abandon her program if Israel abandons hers.”

        That’s exactly why neither the US mainstream press nor the government ever mentions the crucial facts: Israel has long had the only nukes in ME (JFK murder ended US attempt 2 stop Israel going nuclear), Israel is not part of the NNPT while Iran is, Iran has not initiated attack on anyone in 250 years, while Israel has done so often in its short history (all “preemptive wars”), US installed the despot Shah over democratically elected Iran government, US backed Iraq in its 8 year aggressive war on Iran.

    • Walker
      September 29, 2012, 6:31 am

      Having said that, the opinion piece itself didn’t strike me as particularly lop-sided toward Israel.

      Just keeping the meme of potential war with Iran constantly in the news is a big win for those who want war.

      • Citizen
        September 29, 2012, 10:35 am

        Yep. Gets Dick & Jane accustomed to yet another war against arab creeps to defend their kids asleep in their beds. Obama played right into this scenario to secure AIPAC-orchestrated funding when he told goy Dick & Jane when he looks into his daughters’ sleep chambers he thinks of poor Jewish Israeli kids asleep in their beds, subject to sneaky Arabs wanting to bomb them to smithereens.

  4. piotr
    September 29, 2012, 11:50 am

    The article is of course disingenuous. The authors gracefully note that what would legalize a war in US law would not legalize it in international law. Since international law has the form of treaties that bind USA, we can legalize a war to the extend we make mockery of our legal system. Which is doable but not pretty.

    More important is the nature of the enforcement of international law. Which is basically war, starting from declarations that various prior commitments are rendered moot by American violation. The key is delivery of weapon systems to Iran, in particular, anti-aircraft/anti-missile systems like S-300, plus anti-ship missiles for which USA does not have countermeasures. If Iran is cornered AND both Russia and China are very irate, there can be a cascade of very nasty consequences.

    For example, Russia (and China) may enter agreement with Iran for temporary military bases with S-300 installations that would defend key areas in Iran, including shores of Strait of Hormuz. Second part would be support (military and diplomatic) of the blockade of the Strait until Iran is guaranteed reparations for the destruction in attacks. American allies (and America) would have a choice of agreeing with the legal case made by such an alliance, with would be expensive and humiliating, but legally reasonable, or to go for prolonged blockade with huge economic losses, and with a dubious legal case to boot. What would happen to American alliances? All would be in question.

    This scenario (or similar) entails big risks for all countries involved. This is Great Game, something much, much bigger than Israel. Most probably, the dust would settle without WWIII, but with profound changes in status quo.

  5. ColinWright
    September 30, 2012, 12:52 am

    piotr says: “…This scenario (or similar) entails big risks for all countries involved. This is Great Game, something much, much bigger than Israel. Most probably, the dust would settle without WWIII, but with profound changes in status quo…”

    That’s part of what bugs me about this. There a pretty long list of players here with concerns that are a lot more legitimate than Israel’s — but it all gets decided with reference to Israel.

    It’s like buying a new car on the basis of what you think of the salesman’s taste in ties. It’s just not a very rational basis for decision-making, nor it likely to play out well.

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