It was, as usual, a fascinating and insightful hour of Midday today when Gary Eichten invited Sen. Al Franken to answer listener questions, but the most fascinating answer was this one: "I don't know."
Gary's question: Is the U.S. killing Iran's nuclear scientists?
"I think we have been doing stuff that is clandestine to slow down their nuclear program," the senator said. "I don't know. I don't know if that's what we're doing."
Asked if assassinations are "justifiable," however, Franken paused and then didn't answer the question, which could have easily been done using either "yes" or "no."
"I don't.... I would like to get a briefing on that... It's very interesting; you go to a special room for briefings and I'd like to find out what the deal is there," he said.
Find the subject being discussed at 27:39
Of course, if the U.S. is resorting to assassination, a U.S. senator wouldn't be saying so, but one would figure out another way of answering the questions without a lie. Taking Franken at his word, it might lead one to wonder how many U.S. officials do know the answer?
"I want to categorically deny any U.S. involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Shahshank Joshi, an analyst with the Royal United Services Institute in London, suggested the assassinations were the work of someone or some country with a heart:
The actual weapon used was a magnetic bomb, which contributed to the very careful blast that left passengers dead but others outside the vehicle unharmed," he told Radio Free Europe, noting that the West has been pushing sanctions and negotiations in dissuading Iran from joining the nuclear club..
"The suggestion, therefore, is that either this was a group not involved with those sanctions or a state that was impatient with those sanctions and didn't think they would work anyway," he said.
The assassinations have been real life Mission Impossible. In the latest hit, two men on a motorcycle put a magnetic bomb on Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan's car, killing him and the driver.
If this was happening in the United States, we'd launch a war with someone. Or at least call it "terrorism."
As far as "who" is putting these attacks together, it's basically either the U.S. or Israel, right?
On another topic, did Gary bring up SOPA/PIPA at all? I hope he nailed Franken to the wall: Franken went to the Senate as a Net Neutrality advocate, and has since reversed his position by endorsing PIPA. This about-face is a severe let-down.
FYI: SOPA/PIPA are two bills working their way through Congress that may fundamentally change the way we're able to view and use content on the Internet - they're basically a land grab by movie and music industry lobbyists.
The cia can't find it's butt in the dark with both hands.
Can you spell MOSSAD?
Cal me crazy, but in my mind the most likely actor in the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. To me it is the only answer that makes sense. If you look at it from a risk/benefit standpoint, they are the only group that stands to gain more than lose from doing this.
The U.S. and Israeli intelligence community would love nothing more than to turn a scientist and gather whatever information possible from them for as long as possible. The Iranian scientists are worth far more alive than dead. Assassinating one scientist has a very small impact on the work being done and in practical terms doesn't slow down enrichment or work on a weapon. The risk of being implicated in an assassination far outweigh any possible benefit, if there were one at all.
The opposite is true for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. If one of their scientists is believed to have been compromised by foreign intelligence services, or is believed to have become a liability in some way, an assassination such as this makes sense. Not only is the liability removed, it serves to stir up anger and resentment toward foreign powers. It's a win-win situation for them, the benefits far outweigh the risk. Their downside is what... that they are implicated in doing something that they are already believed to do?
Not that I believe that our intelligence services don't act in this way, they certainly would, but this smells like cleaning house to me not an outside assassination.
CHS - nice thinking outside of the box.
But I would still have to go with Occam's Razor on this one.
Your argument assumes intelligence on the part of US intelligence,
and longer term planning on the part of Israel, which believes itself to be in an immediate kill or be killed situation.
Neither of which have any evidence in their favor.
My money is on Israel...
They have a very vested interest in keeping Iran from getting a nuke... I don't think they want to try out their patriot missiles against an Iranian warhead, as it would only take one to get through to wipe Israel off the map, and if Iran started a WWIII the first shot would be at Israel.
That being said, if Israel is taking this action, are they doing it with the help of US intelligence agencies, or are they acting alone?
Seems to me this is terrorism, particularly if they keep hitting people working on the Iranian Nuclear program. Remember the DC sniper 10 years back? and how people were afraid to leave their homes? Now replace DC with Iran, and Sniper with multiple attack vectors, including but not limited to bullets, bombs, drone attacks, etc. And narrow it down from the general populous to any one who works at an Iranian nuclear facility. Seems like people who worked their would move quickly to distance them selves from the program out of fear, or quickly disappear into the night. Sounds like a good way to stop a program if every one working on it is to scared to show up.