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Ret'd Col. Lawrence Wilkerson says Jewish Neocons who led us to Iraq war are doing same with Iran

(1) Retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson says Neocons who led us to Iraq war are doing same with Iran(2) I Helped sell the False Choice of War once. It’s happening again - Lawrence Wilkerson (NYT)(3) Wilkerson: Nikki Haley a neocon; they want to sweep the Middle East for Israel(4) CIA document alleges links between Iran & Al Quaeda (similar links alleged before Iraq War)(5) Foundation for Defense of Democracies a warhawk think tank run by American Jews - John B. Judis(1)  Retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson says Neocons who led us to Iraq war are doing same with Iran says ‘Israel’s security’ was motive for Iraq war– though not in NYT op-eFEBRUARY 9, 2018WASHINGTON – JUNE 26: Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, testifies during a hearing of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee on pre-war intelligence relating to the 2003 invasion of Iraq on Capitol Hill June 26, 2006 in Washington, DC. The committee heard from retired intelligence officials from the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson had a piece in the New York Times on Monday, in which he discussed the parallels between the runup to the Iraq war and the direction things are going with Iran. He identified the source of pro-war analysis as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies – but stopped short of explaining that this organization is "the neoconservative wing of the Israel lobby." The next day, in another interview, he was eager to talk about this connection. Does NYT self-censor?by Philip Weiss, MondoweissThere was an excellent headline in the New York Times two days ago— "I Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It’s Happening Again"– on a piece by retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson.Wilkerson served as Colin Powell’s chief of staff in the runup to the Iraq disaster, and he wrote that the Secretary of State’s "gravitas" was used by the Bush administration to sell a war that destabilized the Middle East. A similar runup of claims is today being plotted by advocates of war in Iran. In both cases, a Washington braintrust pushes "falsehoods."Today, the analysts claiming close ties between Al Qaeda and Iran come from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which vehemently opposes the Iran nuclear deal and unabashedly calls for regime change in Iran.It seems not to matter that 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 were Saudis and none were Iranians. Or that, according to the United States intelligence community, of the groups listed as actively hostile to the United States, only one is loosely affiliated with Iran, and Hezbollah doesn’t make the cut. More than ever the Foundation for Defense of Democracies seems like the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans that pushed falsehoods in support of waging war with Iraq.It’s good that Wilkerson called out FDD in the NYT, but the curious thing about the op-ed is there is no mention of who this gang is, the neoconservative wing of the Israel lobby. FDD is funded by Bernard Marcus and other giant Israel supporters; "FDD’s chief funders have been drawn almost entirely from American Jews who have a long history of funding pro-Israel organizations," John Judis wrote.Just as AEI, Bush’s thinktank for the Iran {should be Iraq} catastrophe, was funded by Bruce Kovner and Roger Hertog and other Israel backers, who gifted that Pentagon office with neoconservatives Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, who had lately advised Netanyahu.But openly addressing the Israel lobby is obviously a redline in the New York Times. Because when Lawrence Wilkerson went on the Real News yesterday to discuss his op-ed, he brought up neocons and "Israel’s security" right off the bat!I think what you’re seeing with people like UN Ambassador Nikki Haley a neoconservative par excellence and other people from the wings as it were, as we had during the march to war with Iraq, Richard Perle for example was one of the most effective of those people from the wings. Like, the FDD, who are pushing what was the agenda originally with regard to Iraq and its being the first state to go. In other words, they wanted to do Syria. They’ve tried that, incidentally and they wanted to do Iran. They wanted to sweep the Middle East for various and sundry reasons, not the least of which was Israel’s security, oil and so forth, but they wanted basically to sweep the Middle East.Wilkerson said that the "principal reason, longterm reason" that the U.S. was confronting Iran was that (in the words of his interviewer) "Iran acts as a deterrent in some ways to US and Israeli aggression in the region, through primarily its support of Hezbollah and also the Assad government in Syria."It is a pity that a man of Wilkerson’s experience and wisdom is not allowed by the New York Times to speak of the Israel interest, when it is at the top of his mind. And a sad reflection of how our mainstream discourse has simply failed to deal with an important truth.More than twelve years ago, the Atlantic killed the landmark article by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer saying that the Israel lobby had pushed the U.S. to invade Iraq, and the article was then published by the London Review of Books, and many establishment voices sought to banish the news by accusing the distinguished authors of anti-Semitism. At that time, Wilkerson expressed support for Walt and Mearsheimer. The paper contained the "blinding flash of the obvious," he said, and he had taught the scholars’ ideas at two Washington, D.C. universities. (Though Alan Dershowitz came down on him for doing so.)But we’re always back to Square one on this question. When President Obama said in 2015 that it would be an "abrogation" of his constitutional duty to listen to Israel and renounce the Iran deal, he was accused of endorsing the dual loyalty canard, etc. When he said that Democratic senators were under fundraising pressure to oppose the deal, there were more such accusations. Though Obama was speaking the truth. Round and round we go, and never move forward.(2) I helped sell the False Choice of War once. It’s happening again - Lawrence Wilkerson (NYT) Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It’s Happening Again.By Lawrence WilkersonFEB. 5, 2018Fifteen years ago this week, Colin Powell, then the secretary of state, spoke at the United Nations to sell pre-emptive war with Iraq. As his chief of staff, I helped Secretary Powell paint a clear picture that war was the only choice, that when "we confront a regime that harbors ambitions for regional domination, hides weapons of mass destruction and provides haven and active support for terrorists, we are not confronting the past, we are confronting the present. And unless we act, we are confronting an even more frightening future."Following Mr. Powell’s presentation on that cold day, I considered what we had done. At the moment, I thought all our work was for naught — and despite his efforts we did not gain substantial international buy-in. But polls later that day and week demonstrated he did convince many Americans. I knew that was why he was chosen to make the presentation in the first place: his standing with the American people was more solid than that of any other member of the Bush administration.President George W. Bush would have ordered the war even without the United Nations presentation, or if Secretary Powell had failed miserably in giving it. But the secretary’s gravitas was a significant part of the two-year-long effort by the Bush administration to get Americans on the war wagon.That effort led to a war of choice with Iraq — one that resulted in catastrophic losses for the region and the United States-led coalition, and that destabilized the entire Middle East.This should not be forgotten, since the Trump administration is using much the same playbook to create a false impression that war is the only way to address the threats posed by Iran. Just over a month ago, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said that the administration had "undeniable" evidence that Iran was not complying with Security Council resolutions regarding its ballistic missile program and Yemen. Just like Mr. Powell, Ms. Haley showed satellite images and other physical evidence available only to the United States intelligence community to prove her case. But the evidence fell significantly short.It’s astonishing how similar that moment was to Mr. Powell’s 2003 presentation on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction — and how the Trump administration’s methods overall match those of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. As I watched Ms. Haley at the Defense Intelligence Agency, I wanted to play the video of Mr. Powell on the wall behind her, so that Americans could recognize instantly how they were being driven down the same path as in 2003 — ultimately to war. Only this war with Iran, a country of almost 80 million people whose vast strategic depth and difficult terrain make it a far greater challenge than Iraq, would be 10 to 15 times worse than the Iraq war in terms of casualties and costs.If we want a slightly more official statement of the Trump administration’s plans for Iran, we need only look at the recently released National Security Strategy, which says, "The longer we ignore threats from countries determined to proliferate and develop weapons of mass destruction, the worse such threats become, and the fewer defensive options we have." The Bush-Cheney team could not have said it better as it contemplated invading Iraq.The strategy positions Iran as one of the greatest threats America faces, much the same way President Bush framed Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. With China, Russia and North Korea all presenting vastly more formidable challenges to America and its allies than Iran, one has to wonder where the Trump team gets its ideas.Though Ms. Haley’s presentation missed the mark, and no one other than the national security elite will even read the strategy, it won’t matter. We’ve seen this before: a campaign built on the politicization of intelligence and shortsighted policy decisions to make the case for war. And the American people have apparently become so accustomed to executive branch warmongering — approved almost unanimously by the Congress — that such actions are not significantly contested.So far, news organizations have largely failed to refute false narratives coming out of the Trump White House on Iran. In early November, news outlets latched onto claims by unnamed American officials that newly released documents from Osama bin Laden’s compound represented "evidence of Iran’s support of Al Qaeda’s war with the United States."It’s a vivid reminder of Vice President Cheney’s desperate attempts in 2002-03 to conjure up evidence of Saddam Hussein’s relationship with Al Qaeda from detainees at Guantánamo Bay. It harks back to the C.I.A. director George Tenet’s assurances to Mr. Powell that the connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden was ironclad in the lead-up to his United Nations presentation. Today, we know how terribly wrong Mr. Tenet was.Today, the analysts claiming close ties between Al Qaeda and Iran come from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which vehemently opposes the Iran nuclear deal and unabashedly calls for regime change in Iran.It seems not to matter that 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 were Saudis and none were Iranians. Or that, according to the United States intelligence community, of the groups listed as actively hostile to the United States, only one is loosely affiliated with Iran, and Hezbollah doesn’t make the cut. More than ever the Foundation for Defense of Democracies seems like the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans that pushed falsehoods in support of waging war with Iraq.The Trump administration’s case for war with Iran ranges much wider than Ms. Haley’s work. We should include the president’s decertification ultimatum in January that Congress must "fix" the Iran nuclear deal, despite the reality of Iran’s compliance; the White House’s pressure on the intelligence community to cook up evidence of Iran’s noncompliance; and the administration’s choosing to view the recent protests in Iran as the beginning of regime change. Like the Bush administration before, these seemingly disconnected events serve to create a narrative in which war with Iran is the only viable policy.As I look back at our lock-step march toward war with Iraq, I realize that it didn’t seem to matter to us that we used shoddy or cherry-picked intelligence; that it was unrealistic to argue that the war would "pay for itself," rather than cost trillions of dollars; that we might be hopelessly naïve in thinking that the war would lead to democracy instead of pushing the region into a downward spiral.The sole purpose of our actions was to sell the American people on the case for war with Iraq. Polls show that we did. Mr. Trump and his team are trying to do it again. If we’re not careful, they’ll succeed.Correction: February 5, 2018 An earlier version of this article included outdated information about the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Sheldon Adelson is no longer a donor to the organization.Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel who teaches at the College of William & Mary, was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005.A version of this op-ed appears in print on February 6, 2018, on Page A21 of the New York edition with the headline: A Familiar Road to War.(3) Wilkerson: Nikki Haley a neocon; they want to sweep the Middle East for Israel 6, 2018Wilkerson: On Iran, Trump Follows the Iraq War PlaybookFifteen years after he helped write the Colin Powell speech that made the false case for war on Iraq, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson says Trump is following a similar path on Iran -- with the main difference being that the outcome now could "be significantly worse.Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy Lawrence Wilkerson's last positions in government were as Secretary of State Colin Powell's Chief of Staff (2002-05), Associate Director of the State Department's Policy Planning staff under the directorship of Ambassador Richard N. Haass, and member of that staff responsible for East Asia and the Pacific, political-military and legislative affairs (2001-02). Before serving at the State Department, Wilkerson served 31 years in the U.S. Army. During that time, he was a member of the faculty of the U.S. Naval War College (1987 to 1989), Special Assistant to General Powell when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-93), and Director and Deputy Director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia (1993-97). Wilkerson retired from active service in 1997 as a colonel, and began work as an advisor to General Powell. He has also taught national security affairs in the Honors Program at the George Washington University. He is currently working on a book about the first George W. Bush administration.AARON MATÉ:	It's The Real News. I'm AARON MATÉ. 15 years ago this week, then Secretary of State, Colin Powell made his infamous address to the UN, selling the case for a war on Iraq.COLIN POWELL:	When we confront a regime that harbors ambitions for regional domination, hides weapons of mass destruction and provides haven and active support for terrorists, we're not confronting the past. We are confronting the present and unless we act, we are confronting an even more frightening future.AARON MATÉ:	Now today in 2018, a former US official who helped Powell write that speech is warning of a repeat under President Trump. But this time he says the target is Iran. Writing in the New York Times, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson says, "The Trump administration is using much the same playbook, only this war with Iran would be 10 to 15 times worse than the Iraq war in terms of casualties and cost." Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson is a former chief of staff to Colin Powell and now a distinguished professor at the College of William and Mary. Welcome Colonel Wilkerson. So, the title of your piece, I Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It's happening again. How so?LARRY WILKERSON:	I think what you're seeing with people like the UN Ambassador Nikki Haley a neoconservative par excellence and other people from the wings as it were, as we had during the march to war with Iraq, Richard Pearl for example was one of the most effective of those people from the wings. Like, the FDD, who are pushing what was the agenda originally with regard to Iraq and its being the first state to go. In other words, they wanted to do Syria. They've tried that, incidentally and they wanted to do Iran. They wanted to sweep the Middle East for various and sundry reasons, not the least of which was Israel's security, oil and so forth, but they wanted basically to sweep the Middle East.We're seeing that influence on the Trump administration in terms of people like Haley and others, as I said. Very pronounced right now, and it worries me because the scenarios are so similar. The only thing different here is, as I've said in the op-ed, the outcomes are going to be significantly worse and at a minimum, a disastrous outcome of the Iraq war started in 2003, is very apparent to us now, the destabilization of the entire region, from Afghanistan to Iran and all the way over to Aden and Yemen. This is all part and parcel of our having destroyed the balance of power in the Persian Gulf by essentially invading Iraq in 2003.AARON MATÉ:	Let me ask you, Colonel, this warmongering that you're seeing now against Iran, do you think it, in the Trump administration's playbook, it winds up similar to Iraq, which is a direct US bombing and invasion?LARRY WILKERSON:	I think what we'll see with the Trump administration is that the military people advising him, most prominently H.R. McMaster and Jim Mattis, if they can't stop this, will more or less try to constrain it, initially at least, to US air power. I don't think it's going to be much more than US air power. That will probably lead to a deeper involvement, as this sort of thing usually does. Look at Libya for example, and Libya was a much easier target than Iran.And we'll wind up being sucked into what will be an inevitable conclusion that the only way you assure yourself that Iran does not then, once it's bombed have a clandestine nuclear program, one that's deep underground, one that's like North Korea's for example, and one that is intent on building nuclear weapons, rather than what have now, which is through the nuclear agreement with Iran, an absolute halt to their building anything that even remotely resembles a nuclear weapon. So, you're going to have to put troops on the ground. You're going to have to go into Iran. You're going to have to invade. You're going to have to probably sweep the country. This takes a half a million troops. Think full mobilization. Think the draft coming back. And you're going to have to spend 3-5 trillion dollars and you'll probably have to occupy for at least a decade and at the end of that decade, you'll have even more destabilization of the region. Let's look at the truth. Iran is one of the most stable countries in the region right now. We will totally destabilize that country and its neighbors, once again, and we'll have a true mess on our hands.I got an email from an individual today, former ambassador for the United States who said, "Right on, Larry," with regards to the New York Times op-ed. He also said the future is the future of the collapse of empire. Well, he didn't mean the British or the Spanish or the French. He meant the American empire, and I could see that happening and it's by historians judged initial event being the invasion of Iraq but its seminal event being the subsequent invasion of Iran.AARON MATÉ:	Let me ask you, Colonel, I mean, you have experience with US invasions of foreign countries. You were there and helped make the case for invading Iraq. You also served under Colin Powell when he was chair of the joint chiefs of staff when US invaded Panama. In both Iraq and Panama, that's a case where the US invades countries that it knows can't really fight back. Doesn't the fact that Iran actually would put up a fight act as a deterrent to a potentially US military action against it?LARRY WILKERSON:	I don't think so. In fact, I'll tell you that the military assessment of the Iranian ability to "fight" is pretty low, pretty, their ability is pretty poor. We saw that in the Iran-Iraq war. Let's face it, they fought Iraq who we beat in a matter of hours and days, twice, they fought Iraq for eight years and it was pretty much a stalemate when they came to the end.So, In terms of fighting the IRGC or fighting the Iranian professional military and all its branches and arms, we'd overwhelm them pretty quickly. It's not that that gives me concern. What gives me concern is that Iran is not Iraq by any stretch of the imagination and look what a mess we made from 2004 to about 2011 in Iraq. Multiply that by 10 or 15 times. You got a country not of 25 to 26 million but of 80 million people, that is basically not divided into sects like Iraq was.One could argue Iraq's not even a national entity, but is homogeneous. It's population is over 50% Persian. It's fairly, what I would call national in its outlook and the quickest way to turn the young people who dominate in Iran now, population-wise, against the United States is to start a campaign against Iran where they're bombed and they're killed. This is a huge country with great strategic depth. Alexander the Great almost died in Iran. It will be very difficult, very time consuming, very treasury consuming, blood consuming.It will be an extremely difficult situation, a guerrilla war and I will tell you that every marine, soldier, sailor, airman who goes into the region will immediately have a red bull's eye on his or her back, not just for Iranian guerrillas but for every terrorist in the region who has a reason to kill a US soldier, sailor, airman, marine or what have you, and that's a lot. It could, at the end of the day be over 400 million people who are so angry, so mad, so willing to take up arms, that they wind up being a part of this guerrilla war that will spread to the entire region.AARON MATÉ:	Speaking of the entire region, I want to go to a clip of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking recently where he announced, effectively, an indefinite US military presence inside Syria. He cited among the reasons, Iran.REX TILLERSON:	US disengagement from Syria would provide Iran the opportunity to further strengthen its position in Syria. As we have seen from Iran's proxy wars and public announcements, Iran seeks dominance in the Middle East and the destruction of our ally, Israel. As a destabilized nation and one bordering Israel, Syria presents an opportunity that Iran is all too eager to exploit.AARON MATÉ:	That's Rex Tillerson, speaking recently at Stanford University, citing Iran as one of the reasons why the US needs to remain in Syria indefinitely. On this front about Syria, Colonel, there was a report last week from Reuters called US says Syria May Be Developing New Types of Chemical Weapons and it quoted anonymous US officials, saying that the Syrian government may be developing new types of chemical weapons and President Trump is prepared to consider further military action if necessary to deter chemical attacks, senior US officials said. Now of course, these officials were anonymous and one of them said, "We reserve the right to use military force to prevent or deter the use of chemical weapons."So, I'm wondering your thoughts here. We're seeing Tillerson openly say that Iran is a reason for US forces to stay in Syria, and now we have a familiar playbook, similar to Iraq where we have anonymous US officials warning about potential use of chemical weapons and maintaining the US right to use military force against it.LARRY WILKERSON:	Well, you answered your own question. Of course, this is a repeat of the very same kind of propagandizing of the American people, and to a certain extent, the international community, by forces within or working for or outside the US government to prepare the nation for war with Iran. Secretary Tillerson's 17 January speech at Stanford was one of a high degree, I think of inexperience and even, I'll say ignorance. Secretary Tillerson simply doesn't know what he's talking about.The Israelis are the most potent modern military force in the region. The very idea that Iran, either through Hezbollah or through its own IRGC or other military elements in Syria could threaten Israel is preposterous. It is a figment of Bibi Netanyahu's political opportunistic imagination because that's the only way he can hold his very difficult coalition, political coalition together. He has so many hard right wing, ultra-orthodox small parties in that coalition. For example, they're now closing Israeli businesses in various Israeli cities because that group does not want the bible violated in terms of working on the Sabbath. That's how much power these people have but if anyone were to threaten the state of Israel in a significant way, Iran in particular, Bibi Netanyahu and the Israeli military force would stop that threat pretty quick.So, it's preposterous to argue that way and it's preposterous even more so to argue that the United States needs to stay substantially in Syria for purposes of confronting Iran when what we're doing in Syria right now is further destabilizing the region. We're illegal. Others there, like the Russians, are not. We are causing our ally and NATO member, Turkey to consider other options and very seriously consider other options. We're causing them actually to fight and to be killed in northern Syria as they try to take on those people whom we've armed and they fear, the various Kurdish groups. This is a mess of the very first order of magnitude and we have largely made it and Mr. Tillerson's prescriptions delivered at Stanford will simply exacerbate that mess.AARON MATÉ:	All right. So finally, what do you think accounts for this longtime desire to confront Iran in the bipartisan US foreign policy establishment because it's not just Bush or Trump who has wanted to confront Iran. It's received bipartisan support going back many years? The explanation given by someone like Noam Chomsky is that it's not because Iran threatens anyone's security but simply it's because Iran acts as a deterrent in some ways to US and Israeli aggression in the region, through primarily its support of Hezbollah and also the Assad government in Syria.LARRY WILKERSON:	That's the principle reason, longterm reason. There's a psychological reason too, and that is that they beat us in 1979. They toppled the Shah and they threw us out. A lot of that was our own incompetence, but nonetheless, that's how we view it, is that they did it. There's that psychological umbrella over us if you will and it's not a good one. It's a self-defeating one. It makes us look at the Persians, the Iranians as something that we have to rectify, as a country that got us, so we have to get them back. Don't discount that. That's a big part.AARON MATÉ:	Have you witnessed that Colonel? Colonel, have you witnessed that, when you speak to US officials, policymakers, do they display that mentality to you, that we have to teach these people a lesson?LARRY WILKERSON:	Neo-conservatives in particular do. If you get them in a corner and get them down to the brass tacks, they'll say, "Well, look what they did in 1979. You can't trust them. You can't count on them for anything other than disingenuousness and danger and so forth. So, you have to take care of them." But you have to remember too, that when I was in the Pentagon in 2002, I was being briefed by stars in the Pentagon that we were going to go after Iraq. Then we were going to do Syria. Then we were going to do Iran. So, this all about in one sense, the messianic desire to bring democracy to all these people who don't have it, and to bring freedom and liberty and the American way. And don't forget American commerce too, but to more compliant people than currently are in charge.So, that's part of it too, and a big part of it is the very fact that that region presents us with a challenge which we have never really been able to handle. Not since the Shah left and was our man in Iran and handled it for us. So, though it's been since Jimmy Carter declared it so, a vital interest of the United States and I would say, open parentheses, it no longer is, close those parentheses. Lots of reasons for that but it no longer is. But we have had this visceral, strategic interest in making sure no one who didn't totally or near totally agree with us, never becomes hegemonic, never becomes very powerful, and so we do all manner of things to keep that from happening.AARON MATÉ:	And we’ll leave it there. The piece in the New York Times is called, I Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It's Happening Again, and it's by our guest, Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, now a distinguished professor at the College of William and Mary. Colonel Wilkerson, thank you.LARRY WILKERSON:	Thanks for having me Aaron.AARON MATÉ:	And thank you for joining us on The Real News.(4) CIA document alleges links between Iran & Al Quaeda (similar links alleged before Iraq War)  NOV 1 2017, 7:32 PM ETNewly Released Bin Laden Document Describes Iran, Al Qaeda Linkby ROBERT WINDREMWASHINGTON — A document seized the night Navy SEALs killed Osama Bin Laden suggests that Al Qaeda and Iran had a relationship more complicated and intimate than previously known — one that included threats and kidnappings, but also occasional cooperation.The document was among a massive trove of material released Wednesday by the CIA following a request by the Long War Journal, a website that has chronicled the U.S. war on terrorism. The site received a copy of the materials Tuesday.The U.S. government released hundreds of thousands of files in the aftermath of the May 1, 2011 raid on Bin Laden's Pakistan compound, and released other tranches in 2015 and 2016.Wednesday's release included nearly 470,000 more files recovered in the raid. Most of the newly disclosed material is in Arabic, untranslated, and uncurated. It includes Bin Laden's untranslated 228-page private journal, and other documents that officials say support a U.S. intelligence estimate produced just after the raid that bin Laden continued to act as an operational commander of Al Qaeda even in the months just before his death.According to the CIA, "the materials provide insights into the origins of fissures that exist today between Al Qaeda and ISIS; as well as strategic, doctrinal and religious disagreements within Al Qaeda and its allies; and hardships that Al Qaeda faced at the time of Bin Laden's death."The trove also provides new insight into the often adversarial relationship between al Qaeda and Iran — the Sunni Muslim terror group and the Shiite republic — in the form of a 19-page report described by the Long War Journal as "a senior jihadist's assessment of the group's relationship with Iran."Two U.S. intelligence officials characterized the document to NBC News as "evidence of Iran's support of al Qaeda's war with the United States."According to the officials, the document traces the history of the relationship starting with the escape of a group of Al Qaeda officials and their families from Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion in September 2001. Bin Laden dispatched the group of Al Qaeda leaders, known as the Al Qaeda Management Council, to Iran.At various points in the relationship, the document reveals, Iran offered Al Qaeda help, in the form of "money, arms" and "training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf."But at other points in the relationship, according to the document, there were angry rifts, leading to forced detention of key Al Qaeda officials.The files confirm previous reports that Bin Laden wrote Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei demanding the release of family members held in Iranian custody. Bin Laden himself considered plans to counter Iran's influence throughout the Middle East, which he viewed as pernicious, according to the Long War Journal, an account confirmed by the U.S. officials.Previous reports indicated that at one point Bin Laden ordered the kidnapping of an Iranian diplomat to trade for one of Al Qaeda's top commanders, which the document confirms.Iran has vigorously denied that it cooperated with Al Qaeda, stating that it kept the members of the Management Council in jails, not under house arrest.Among the materials are approximately 79,000 audio and image files and more than 10,000 video files, which include Al Qaeda "home videos," draft videos or statements by Bin Laden, and jihadist propaganda.The videos include footage of Bin Laden's son Hamza's wedding, which reportedly took place in Iran. Hamza, now in his 20's, is increasingly seen as his father's successor as head of Al Qaeda.Bin Laden also apparently downloaded a 2005 MSNBC interview of former CIA Director James Woolsey by Alex Witt that focused on the Iraq War. His collection of videos included a jihadist beheading video and a recruiting video featuring Iraqi Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a 2006 U.S. airstrike.But the videos also include many that seem more designed to alleviate boredom than to promote jihad, and reveal a weakness for slapstick humor. Found on Bin Laden's computer were episodes of "America's Funniest Home Videos," the cartoon "Tom and Jerry," and several viral videos, including "Charlie Bit My Finger" — a YouTube staple from 2007 featuring a kid biting his brother that was once the most viewed YouTube video of all time.There were also a couple of "Trunk Monkey" commercials from an Oregon car dealer in which a monkey emerges from a car's trunk to save imperiled drivers, plus instructional videos on crocheting, teaching videos for counting and the English alphabet and a slew of home videos showing animals in the Bin Laden compound. Several wives and a number of small children lived with Bin Laden in his compound.(5) Foundation for Defense of Democracies a warhawk think tank run by American Jews - John B. Judis Little Think Tank That CouldInside the small, pro-Israel outfit leading the attack on Obama’s Iran deal.By John B. JudisThe American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the so-called 800-pound gorilla, is the big player in lobbying against the nuclear weapons agreement that the United States and five other countries signed with Iran. When it comes to influencing members of Congress, AIPAC has the access to financial contributors with which to reward the compliant and pressure the recalcitrant.But that’s not enough. Opponents of the deal, if they are to carry the day, need crisp talking points and plausible arguments; they need credible experts who will back up their position in congressional hearings, on opinion pages, and on TV and radio. And no organization has been better at providing this kind of intellectual firepower than the little-known Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a relatively small Washington think tank that is devoting itself to defeating the Iran deal.During the last 18 months, FDD’s experts have testified 17 times before Congress in opposition to the interim and now final agreement. By contrast, experts from the Heritage Foundation, whose budget—$113 million in 2013—is more than 15 times the size of FDD’s, and which also opposes the agreement, have not appeared at all. Critics of the agreement from the American Enterprise Institute, whose budget is more than eight times as large, have testified only once. Of the four witnesses that the Senate Banking Committee called to testify on Aug. 5 on a panel on sanctions against Iran, two were FDD experts, and a third was on the FDD Board of Advisors.In the wake of the agreement’s announcement, FDD experts have appeared on Fox News, CBS, CNN, PBS, and other television outlets at least 35 times to oppose it. FDD’s executive director, Mark Dubowitz, is credited with helping design the sanctions regime that was put in place in 2010 and with helping Sens. Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez craft a bill that they introduced in December 2013 that would have set conditions on a final agreement that Iran would have been sure to reject.FDD bills itself as "a non-partisan policy institute" in the tradition of groups like the Council on Foreign Relations. Legally speaking, that’s true. But while FDD once had a few Democrats on its Board of Advisors, and can still find a few Democrats like Menendez who are receptive to its message, it has become a Republican-backed organization that reflects the growing political polarization in Washington.FDD also describes itself as a global research organization. Its purpose, it says, is to conduct "research and provide education on international terrorism—the most serious security threat to the United States and other free, democratic nations." But it has conducted its research from a particular vantage point and with a relatively narrow focus. Its research and advocacy have centered on the Middle East and in particular on conflicts and issues that impinge on Israel. And its positions have closely tracked those of the Likud party and its leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—not just on the Iran deal, but on the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians and the desirability of a two-state solution. Understanding the think tank’s ideological affinity with the Israeli government, and the roots of that affinity, helps explain the special role that FDD has played in opposing the Iran deal and may shed light on what FDD hopes to accomplish by derailing President Obama’s signature foreign policy accomplishment.FDD was the brainchild of a New York Times journalist-turned-Republican operative. Clifford May, who is now 63 worked as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times and an editor of the Rocky Mountain News, but in 1997 became the communications director of the Republican National Committee. In September 2001, having left the RNC, May was recruited to lead a new foreign policy group.* With thick brown hair, a trim, graying beard, and rimless glasses, May looks like an early-20th-century European intellectual, but he has proved to be a master political entrepreneur in an era of television and social media.FDD’s website says simply that it was founded "to promote pluralism, defend democratic values, and fight the ideologies that drive terrorism," but, as the journalist Ali Gharib has noted, it arose out of an organization committed to burnishing Israel’s reputation in the United States. On April 24, 2001, three major pro-Israel donors incorporated an organization called EMET (Hebrew for "truth"). In an application to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status, May explained that the group "was to provide education to enhance Israel’s image in North America and the public’s understanding of issues affecting Israeli-Arab relations." But in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, May broadened the group’s mission and changed its name to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. As he explained in a supplement to the IRS, the group’s board of directors decided to focus on "develop[ing] educational materials on the eradication of terrorism everywhere in the world."To be sure, FDD is no longer a public relations group for Israel. And over the years, it has become much more of a conventional think tank than an advocacy group. But in several important ways, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies seems to have remained an organization dedicated intellectually and politically to the defense of one particular democracy.During the last 18 months, FDD’s experts have testified 17 times before Congress in opposition to Iran deal.FDD’s chief funders have been drawn almost entirely from American Jews who have a long history of funding pro-Israel organizations. They include Bernard Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot, whiskey heirs Samuel and Edgar Bronfman, gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson, heiress Lynn Schusterman, Wall Street speculators Michael Steinhardt and Paul Singer, and Leonard Abramson, founder of U.S. Healthcare. As Eli Clifton has documented, from 2008 to 2011, the largest contributors were Abramson, Marcus, Adelson, and Singer, and businessman Newton Becker. Some of FDD’s donors, particularly in the organization’s early years, gave to a wide range of groups that back Israel, but some of them, including Marcus, Adelson, Becker, and their foundations, have also contributed to groups like the Zionist Organization of America and Christians United for Israel that are aligned with Israeli right-wing nationalists who favor a "greater Israel" that includes East Jerusalem and the West Bank settlements. (When I asked May whether he agreed with Adelson’s stands on Iran and Palestinian statehood, he said that Adelson hadn’t contributed to FDD for "some time" and that he was not "up-to-date" on Adelson’s views. Nevertheless, in a July 2012 article in National Review objecting to a New York Times editorial critical of Adelson, May defended the gambling mogul’s rejection of a Palestinian state.)Much of FDD’s key staff was drawn from people who have focused their work on defending Israel from its critics. May’s second in command in FDD’s early years was the Israeli Nir Boms, who had worked for the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Toby Dershowitz, who spent 14 years as AIPAC’s communications head, has handled communications for FDD. Dershowitz’s public relations organization, the Dershowitz Group, is housed in the same downtown M Street location as FDD, and Dershowitz is now listed as the group’s vice president for government relations and strategy. Jonathan Schanzer, FDD’s vice president for research, worked earlier at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which was spun off from AIPAC decades ago as a research organization not subject to the tax restrictions on groups that lobby.Since its founding, FDD has been running tours of Israel for American academics (with most of their expenses paid) similar to those run for journalists and politicians by AIPAC and other groups. University of Kentucky political scientist Robert Farley, who went on an FDD tour in 2008, says "the goal of the trip was to inculcate a particular view of the Israeli security situation and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." FDD’s view, Farley says, was "right-wing Likudnik on the relations between Israel and its neighbors and with the Palestinians." The tour leaders took a "negative" view of Palestinian statehood. "It was understood that the military occupation of the West Bank was necessary to prevent a terrorist campaign against Israel."In their writings, FDD experts have endorsed a view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is in accord with, or sometimes even to the right of, the views of Netanyahu and the Likud party. In November 2007, FDD Senior Fellow Andrew McCarthy wrote in National Review that the Bush administration, in trying to forge a two-state solution, was "hellbent on granting statehood to savages who worship ‘martyrdom.’ "May himself has adhered more closely to Netanyahu’s position of giving lip service to a two-state solution while maintaining that because of Palestinian refusal to recognize the state of Israel, the conditions do not exist for realizing it. In August 2009, May criticized the Obama administration for pressing Netanyahu to begin talks with the Palestinians and recommended instead Netanyahu’s option of economic development for the West Bank.  In his writing, May consistently puts quotes around the adjective occupied for the Palestinian territories that Israel has under military rule. When I asked May why, he replied, "The West Bank, seized from Jordan after Jordan attacked Israel in 1967, should more accurately be called disputed territories."The Foundation for Defense of Democracies seems to have remained dedicated to the defense of one particular democracy.May doesn’t go out of his way to highlight FDD’s origin as a promoter of Israel and its connections to Washington’s pro-Israel lobby. When I asked him about the group’s emergence from a "pro-Israel organization," he made no mention of its initial incarnation as EMET. He wrote back, "I was recruited to found FDD after 9/11/01 by Jack Kemp and Jeane Kirkpatrick whom I knew from my New York Times reporting days. FDD was conceived as a policy institute focusing on national security—of the US and other democratic societies." The group also omits Dershowitz’s experience at AIPAC from her online bio, writing that she worked for "a leading foreign policy organization for 14 years." But when I asked May whether the organization’s defense of democracies really boiled down to a defense of the United States and Israel, he did write back, "Israel, it seemed to me then and seems to me now, is the world’s most endangered democratic society. Those whose mission is ‘Death to America’ also vow ‘Death to Israel.’ "In its first years, FDD had ties to Democrats. Former Al Gore for President campaign manager Donna Brazile, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, and Reps. Eliot Engel and Jim Marshall were on FDD’s board; and a few initial funders like the Israeli American Haim Saban were associated with the Democratic Party. But over the years, FDD has become an almost entirely Republican-backed organization.FDD lost its Democratic board members in 2008. That February it spun off an advocacy organization, the Defense of Democracies, which, according to National Journal, was seeded by a $2 million grant from Adelson. The new group began running ads against Democrats who opposed an intelligence surveillance bill favored by the Bush administration. In response, Brazile, Schumer, Engel, and Marshall quit.Those FDD donors who were dependable Democrats seem also to have dropped out. Indeed there is now a clear match between the FDD’s contributors and former and existing board members of the increasingly powerful Republican Jewish Coalition, to which May himself was an adviser in the early 2000s.  They include Adelson, Marcus, Abramson, Singer, David Epstein, Larry A. Mizel, and Sam Fox. The two organizations have worked in tandem to attempt to defeat the Obama administration’s agreement with Iran.May and FDD have been calling for action against Iran since the organization’s founding. And in doing so, they have almost invariably cited Israel’s security. In April 2002 in USA Today, May argued that Israel’s enemies are the same ones as the "suicidal/homicidal terrorists" who view Americans as "hated infidels," and he linked them in turn to "Iran and Iraq," which he described as "terrorist-sponsoring regimes attempting to develop weapons of mass destruction." The next spring, in the wake of the invasion of Iraq, May suggested that Iranian dissidents could play a similar role to that of the Iraqi dissidents whom the United States was attempting to install in power.After Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s announcement in February 2006 that Iran was resuming enriching uranium, FDD and May began focusing on Iran’s nuclear program. May accepted the Israeli government’s argument that an Iranian nuclear weapon posed an "existential threat" to Israel. He described Iran’s goal as "a Middle East without Jews," and insisted that Iran posed a direct threat to the United States. "Ahmadinejad’s genocidal threats against Israel have been well-publicized," he wrote, "but from time to time, he also likes to remind his followers that ‘a world without America … is attainable.’" (May’s elision, not mine.)May always avoided calling for war against Iran except as a last resort, but in 2008, he welcomed former CIA case officer Reuel Marc Gerecht and Iran expert Michael Ledeen (who was a bit player in the Israeli part of the Iran-Contra scandal) to FDD from the American Enterprise Institute.* Gerecht had already been calling for a pre-emptive military strike against Iran. At a Bloomberg conference in 2010, Gerecht would joke that he had "counted up the other day: I’ve written about 25,000 words about bombing Iran. Even my mom thinks I’ve gone too far."After Obama took office, FDD, led by Dubowitz, proposed imposing further sanctions on Iran to force it to abandon its nuclear program. But Dubowitz himself was skeptical about whether sanctions would actually lead to a diplomatic solution. In April 2011, after new sanctions had been imposed, he told Israel’s Ynetnews that "the sanctions are working by putting pressure on the regime, although they have not secured their objective and may never do so—putting an end to Iran’s nuclear program. The best way is to work towards changing the regime. Any deal cut with this regime will be violated." When Hassan Rouhani, widely considered a moderate on Iran’s political spectrum, was elected Iran’s president in June of 2013, Dubowitz wrote that "the election of Rouhani, a loyalist of Iran’s supreme leader and a master of nuclear deceit, doesn’t get us any closer to stopping Iran’s nuclear drive." In August 2013 he warned that Rouhani’s "statements reveal a conspiratorial, anti-American, and anti-Israeli worldview."Dubowitz rejected the interim agreement that the United States and five other countries reached with Iran in November 2013, under which Iran temporarily restricted its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of some sanctions. He worked with Kirk and Menendez to devise new legislation that would have required Iran to dismantle all nuclear energy facilities and to stop any aid to Hezbollah and other allies in the region.  The legislation also promised that the United States would "stand with Israel" if it went to war with Iran.Clifford May doesn’t go out of his way to highlight FDD’s origin as a promoter of Israel and its connections to D.C.’s pro-Israel lobby.In the days before the final agreement with Iran was signed on July 14, FDD took to the hustings, but it didn’t speak with a single voice. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Gerecht and Dubowitz declared their skepticism about the agreement, but the piece reflected Gerecht’s more extreme, and highly original, views on American foreign policy and Iran. Gerecht and Dubowitz argued the dominant Republican strategy of upping sanctions and threatening military force would be "unlikely to thwart the mullahs’ nuclear designs." The only way to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons was through a military strike, but a military strike could be justified only if Iran were to violate the agreement it had made. "No American president would destroy Iranian nuclear sites without first exhausting diplomacy," they wrote. Therefore, the best chance to stop Iran would be to let the agreement go through and wait for Iran to violate it, which, according to Gerecht and Dubowitz, it inevitably would. The "hawks who believe that airstrikes are the only possible option for stopping an Iranian nuke should welcome a deal perhaps more than anyone," they wrote. "This is because the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is tailor-made to set Washington on a collision course with Tehran." In other words, the point of supporting a diplomatic solution was so that it would pave the way for a military strike.But in his congressional testimony, Dubowitz took a more conventional tack. He denounced the agreement for providing "Iran with a patient path to a nuclear weapon" and called for amending it with new, tougher conditions. May, too, opposed the agreement and said Obama should demand more concessions from Iran.Gerecht and Dubowitz’s Wall Street Journal op-ed had the virtue of being logical, even if its logic led to war. But the call by May and Dubowitz to reopen negotiations and demand a much tougher agreement made less sense. Dubowitz’s proposed amendments to the deal—which went beyond Iran’s nuclear policy and into its human rights policy and foreign policy—were sure to be rejected by Iran, and probably by other signatories to the deal. And, anyway, Obama, in the last year of his presidency, would be in no position to renegotiate the agreement, even in the highly unlikely event that all five of his negotiating partners, including Russia and China, would be willing to join him in doing so.These kinds of considerations have led some supporters of the agreement to argue that hawks like May and Dubowitz, in advocating renegotiation, know that this path will bear no fruit and secretly want to hasten war with Iran. But according to Gerecht, what his colleagues really hope for is that one of the Republicans adamantly opposed to the deal will be elected president in November 2016 and will propose even tougher sanctions and successfully pressure Europe, if not China and Russia, to go along.  That scenario seems equally far-fetched, resting on an assumption of America’s powers of persuasion in Europe—which were not evident in the crisis in Syria in 2013—and what is at best a 50–50 political calculation about who will be the next president.What may explain why May and Dubowitz seem content with killing the agreement—even if that means damaging U.S. relations with other signatories, getting no agreement whatsoever that Iran will forgo a nuclear weapon, and risking greater war in the region—is a concern that began to surface in May’s columns earlier this year. May described sympathetically Israel’s "worry that Mr. Obama means to form a de facto alliance with Iran." Some observers have long said that this concern actually lies at the heart of the Israeli government’s opposition to a deal with Iran: Netanyahu fears that a deal would wed American foreign policy to an irredeemably revolutionary Iran at the expense of Israel. And one person familiar with the thinking of FDD experts described this scenario, involving an attempted rapprochement between the United States and Iran, as representing to them "the worst of all possible worlds." A veto-proof congressional rejection of the agreement would certainly rule out such rapprochement.It’s hard to say for sure what FDD ultimately hopes to accomplish with its campaign against the agreement, in part because its experts have not been entirely candid in their arguments. After long invoking the existential threat that an agreement would pose to Israel, May, Dubowitz, and other FDD experts have had little to say about threats to Israel since the agreement was signed. When Dubowitz made a long opening statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 29 and when he and FDD’s Juan Zarate issued statements before the Senate Banking Committee on Aug. 5, they mentioned the deal’s effect on Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen, but did not discuss directly what it would mean for Israel. The noun Israel did not appear except in the title of an article in the footnotes to Dubowitz’s statements. May mentioned Israel only once in the three Washington Times columns he wrote opposing the agreement—to warn of how Iran’s "hegemonic ambitions" would threaten Israel and the Gulf states. In a column in National Review responding to Obama’s speech at American University, May and Schanzer described the deal’s threat to Americans, but not to Israelis. "Iran’s rulers," they wrote, "have caused thousands of Americans to be killed and maimed in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. They continue to openly proclaim their long-term goal: ‘Death to America.’ "There may well be a tactical reason why FDD experts have lately stressed the Iran agreement’s threat to America rather than its threat to Israel. AIPAC has followed the same path in an ad called "We Need a Better Deal," which its Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran produced. People at AIPAC and FDD may be worried that they will be accused of acting solely in Israel’s interest or of putting Israel’s interest before that of the United States. But there is a no evidence the FDD experts have done so. Almost certainly, they have all along believed that what was in Israel’s interest in this case was in America’s. But by now soft-pedaling their fears of the agreement’s effect on Israel, they have made it difficult for politicians and the public to evaluate their arguments against a nuclear deal.There is nothing wrong with a policy group or lobby demanding that the United States heed the security of another country. The United States is a global power and has an interest in maintaining stability and preventing war even in regions where it is not directly threatened. The issue here is not whether the United States should take Israel’s interest and security into account, but rather what Israel’s interest is and where its security really lies. From its beginning, FDD has interpreted Israel’s interest—whether regionally or in its conflict with the Palestinians—in accordance with what Netanyahu and the Likud party have said it is. But many Israeli military and intelligence experts believe that the nuclear agreement is in Israel’s interest. And the more liberal lobby group J Street—which has far less money but is gaining in numbers and support on AIPAC—argues that the agreement is in both America’s and Israel’s interests.I recently asked May whether he and his experts had conferred on the Iran deal with the Israeli government, and whether their views on it accorded with the government’s. "We have listened to French, Jordanians, Germans, Danes, Israelis and others," he replied. "We provide analysis and advice when requested. We take instructions from no one. We are neither an embassy nor an editorial page." Indeed, I’ve seen no evidence that May and FDD "take instructions" from the Israelis. That’s not the point. It is the degree to which their argument against the Iran agreement hinges on viewing Israel’s and America’s interests the way Netanyahu and the Likud party view them, and whether this view is correct.This article was published in collaboration with the American Foreign Policy Project.*Correction, Aug. 18, 2015: This article originally misstated that Reuel Marc Gerecht is a former CIA analyst. He’s a former CIA case officer. It also misstated that Clifford May organized a new foreign policy group in early 2001. It was September 2001, and May was recruited to lead the group. It also misstated that May incorporated EMET. Three major pro-Israel donors did.-- Peter Myerswebsite: