Iran: The Next War
By James Bamford
Monday 24 July 2006
Even before the bombs fell on Baghdad, a group of senior Pentagon officials were plotting to invade another country. Their covert campaign once again relied on false intelligence and shady allies. But this time, the target was Iran.
the Bush administration sell the Iraq war? Is war with Iran
I. The Israeli Connection
A few blocks off Pennsylvania Avenue, the FBI's eight-story Washington field office exudes all the charm of a maximum-security prison. Its curved roof is made of thick stainless steel, the bottom three floors are wrapped in granite and limestone, hydraulic bollards protect the ramp to the four-floor garage, and bulletproof security booths guard the entrance to the narrow lobby. On the fourth floor, like a tomb within a tomb, lies the most secret room in the $100 million concrete fortress - out-of-bounds even for special agents without an escort. Here, in the Language Services Section, hundreds of linguists in padded earphones sit elbow-to-elbow in long rows, tapping computer keyboards as they eavesdrop on the phone lines of foreign embassies and other high-priority targets in the nation's capital.
At the far end of that room, on the morning of February 12th, 2003, a small group of eavesdroppers were listening intently for evidence of a treacherous crime. At the very moment that American forces were massing for an invasion of Iraq, there were indications that a rogue group of senior Pentagon officials were already conspiring to push the United States into another war - this time with Iran.
A few miles away, FBI agents watched as Larry Franklin, an Iran expert and career employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency, drove up to the Ritz-Carlton hotel across the Potomac from Washington. A trim man of fifty-six, with a tangle of blond hair speckled gray, Franklin had left his modest home in Kearneysville, West Virginia, shortly before dawn that morning to make the eighty-mile commute to his job at the Pentagon. Since 2002, he had been working in the Office of Special Plans, a crowded warren of blue cubicles on the building's fifth floor. A secretive unit responsible for long-term planning and propaganda for the invasion of Iraq, the office's staffers referred to themselves as "the cabal." They reported to Douglas Feith, the third-most-powerful official in the Defense Department, helping to concoct the fraudulent intelligence reports that were driving America to war in Iraq.
James Bamford is the author of A Pretext
for War: 9/11, Iraq and the Abuse of America's Intelligence
Agencies. His story for RS on consultant John Rendon, "The Man Who Sold the War" [RS 988], won
the 2006 National Magazine Award for