Hawks Dominate Joint Subcommittee Hearing on Alleged “Iranian Plot”

On October 26, two house subcommittees held a hearing dominated by hawks and neoconservatives on the alleged “Iranian plot” to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington. Several witnesses criticized the media for questioning the alleged plot’s plausibility and the evidence presented, but no evidence related to the plot was offered or discussed in detail. The “Joint Subcommittee Hearing: Iranian Terror Operations on American Soil” did, however, feature a display of major hawkishness, notably by retired Army Gen. John Keane. “We’ve got to put our hand around their throat now,” he said at one point, and “Why don’t we kill them? We kill other people who kill others,” at another.

Keane repeated his claim that Iran is “our number one strategic enemy in the world” and called the alleged plot a “stunning rebuke to the Obama administration’s policy of negotiation and isolation with the Iranians.” His recommendations included conducting “covert operations led by the CIA” and providing “money, information and encouragement to the dissident leaders inside Iran to use their population to put pressure on the regime.”

Keane stopped short of recommending military strikes, but another panelist, Reuel Marc Gerecht of the uber-hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies did.

In response to a question directed at the entire panel about what should be done to counter the “threat” posed to the U.S. by Iran, Gerecht pushed the standard neo-con argument that the Islamic Republic is led by irrational actors who “do not respond in the same rational economic ways that we do.” He also echoed the preemptive war rhetoric that the Bush administration used in the run-up to the Iraq invasion.

I don’t think that you’re really going to really intimidate these people, get their attention, unless you shoot someone…I think you have to send a pretty powerful message to those who have undertaken this or I think down the road you’re asking for it.

Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy added that sanctions against Iran have been “tremendously effective,” but they have to be used in tandem with other options “aggressively enough to make Iran care.” His list of other options included “military options,” “covert actions” and “diplomatic options.”

The hearing did include a few brief moments of reason. At one point Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said that while

Iran’s leaders must be held accountable for their action…we cannot take any reckless actions which may lead to opening another front in the ‘War on Terror,’ which the American people do not want and cannot afford.

Note on Keane: Keane has close ties with U.S. neoconservatives and was one of the main architects of George W. Bush’s surge in Iraq. In 2006, Gen. George Casey and the chief of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. John Abizaid recommended reducing troop levels in Iraq, but Keane and his neoconservative allies started looking for someone that would support escalation instead–ultimately General David Petraeus. As documented by Bob Woodward in the War Within (though not in the fashion I write here), Keane ignored the chain of command while heavily promoting Petraeus. He also helped persuade Bush to reject the Iraq Study Group’s findings and recommendations by aggressively pushing an alternative strategy he wrote with Frederick Kagan at the American Enterprise Institute called “Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq.” That report led to the military buildup that followed. He’s also criticizing Obama’s announcement last week that the U.S. will withdraw all its troops from Iraq by Christmas. “I think it’s an absolute disaster,” he told the Washington Times last weekend. “We won the war in Iraq, and we’re now losing the peace.”

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.



  1. You’re being a bit partisan. The ranking (D) member on that committee sounded just like these neo-cons. It only reinforces your point that these attitudes are so ubiquitous.

  2. How would Reuel Marc Gerecht feel if someone shot him to “send a message” to the neocons? Perhaps that would get their attention.

  3. All five “witnesses” could more accurately be described as pro-Israeli propagandists. Reuel Marc Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank whose funders include such hardcore Zionists as Edgar and Charles Bronfman, Michael Steinhardt, Haim Saban, Jennifer Mizrahi and Dalck Feith. Matthew Levitt is the director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism & Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank created by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to “do AIPAC’s work but appear independent.” Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at the supposedly “progressive” Center for American Progress, has devoted two decades to working for the release of Jonathan Pollard, the Israeli spy who “did more damage to the United States than any spy in history.” General Jack Keane, United States Army (Retired), co-authored with Frederick W. Kagan the 2007 policy paper sponsored by the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute entitled “Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq” which proposed the so-called “surge” beloved of America’s Israel partisans. Colonel Timothy J. Geraghty, United States Marine Corps (Retired), has been echoing all the standard Israeli propaganda against Tehran ever since the suicide truck bombings on 23 October 1983 against the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit in Beirut under his allegedly negligent command. While Geraghty doesn’t hesitate to blame Iranian-backed Hezbollah for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish centre in Buenos Aires, the U.S. ambassador to Argentina at the time has said, “To my knowledge, there was never any real evidence [of Iranian responsibility]. They never came up with anything.”

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