Michael Hirsh reports on the bogus Iran-Al Qaeda connection that the Trump administration has been trying to use to provide a pretext for an attack. He quotes Seth Jones, a counter-terrorism specialist from the Center for Strategic and International Studies:
“There are some periods over the last decade and a half where one could have been concerned about Iran and al Qaeda,” Jones said. “But I don’t understand why this is an issue now. And I cannot believe any responsible intelligence analyst wouldn’t come to that same conclusion.”
The Trump administration is bringing up the bogus link between Iran and Al Qaeda now because they are trying to drum up support for the failing Iran policy, and they are doing it so they can abuse the 2001 AUMF when they build their case for war. Responsible intelligence analysts will want nothing to do with that, but the administration is filled with people that have made a point of distorting intelligence and fitting intelligence around the policy decisions that have already been made. The Iran hawks in the administration start from the assumption that the Iranian government is the font of all terrible things, and so they blame them for things they haven’t done and they imagine connections with other groups where none exists. Trying to link Iran and Al Qaeda has been a pastime of pro-war ideologues in the GOP for years, and with Pompeo and Bolton the ideologues have finally found top officials dishonest and hard-line enough to promote these falsehoods.
Just as the Bush administration tried to associate the Iraqi government with Al Qaeda before the 2003 invasion, the Trump administration wants to associate the Iranian government with the group, but both claims are equally baseless and untrue. They hope to stretch the 2001 AUMF beyond all recognition and apply it to a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and still has nothing to do with Al Qaeda’s activities. That is one more reason why it is urgent for Congress to repeal the 2001 AUMF and to reject any new authorization for war with Iran. The president may still try to claim that he doesn’t need Congressional authorization to attack Iran, as he did earlier this week, but Congress needs to make clear that they won’t stand for it.