The Shahram Affair Kidnapped Iranian scientist exposes US government as a criminal enterprise

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Confronted with the accusation that Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri had been kidnapped by US and Saudi intelligence agencies while on a trip to Mecca, and brought to the US for interrogation, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley averred: “We are not in the habit of going around kidnapping people.”

To which the only proper response is: Oh, really?

Given the numerous instances of “extraordinary rendition” in which our government has been engaged, and no doubt continues to be engaged, one wonders how Senor Crowley can say that with a straight face. But then again, being an official spokesman for the US Department of State no doubt requires some sort of facial surgery — or, perhaps, an industrial-strength shot of Botox — to achieve the desired results.

Now that Shahram has shown up at the Iranian interests section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C., claiming to have been abducted by the US and Saudi intelligence services, and tortured, Crowley may want to review his knowledge of US habits.

In March, ABC News released an “exclusive” report hailing Shahram’s “defection” as a great US “intelligence coup,” the missing link in the puzzle piecing together a picture of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. Shahram is said to have worked for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and news of his “defection” appeared alongside reports of an Iranian “secret” nuclear facility on the outskirts of the city of Qom.

As it was, the Iranians themselves revealed the existence of the Qom facility and opened it up to inspection by the IAEA, but the matter of Shahram’s disappearance appeared to throw a shadow over their efforts at openness — which was, of course, the whole point.

Our spooks had a narrative ready made. We were to be told that the defector had brought with him a laptop which contained all the secrets of Iran’s nukes, and this was to be touted as yet more evidence — as if this administration needed any — Iran was harboring nuclear ambitions in defiance of the “international community.” “According to the people briefed on the intelligence operation,” ABC “reported,” “Amiri’s disappearance was part of a long-planned CIA operation to get him to defect. The CIA reportedly approached the scientist in Iran through an intermediary who made an offer of resettlement on behalf of the United States.”

That, at least, was the official story, dutifully relayed to the world by ABC “News”: Shahram, however, upended their neat little narrative, months later, with a YouTube video — that indispensable weapon of counter-propaganda — in which he told us:

“I was kidnapped last year (2009) in the holy city of Medina on 3 June in a joint operation by the terror and abduction units of the American CIA and Saudi Arabia’s Istikhbarat [intelligence agency].They took me to a house located somewhere that I didn’t know. They gave me an anesthetic injection. When I became conscious I was in a big [voice interrupted] towards America.

“During the eight months that I was kept in America, I was subject to the most severe tortures and psychological pressures by the American intelligence investigation groups.

“And the main aim behind these investigation teams and the pressure imposed on me was to make me take part in an interview conducted by an American media source and claim that I was an important figure in Iran’s nuclear program and I had sought asylum in America at my own will. And (to say) while seeking asylum I took some very important documents and a laptop with classified information on Iran’s military nuclear program in it to America from my country.”

This was followed, hours later, by yet another video, in which someone claiming to be Shahram — and looking, admittedly, just like him — said he wanted to clear up “rumors,” denied having any political views or that he had betrayed his country, and stated: “I am in America and intend to continue my education here. I am free here and I assure everyone that I am safe.”

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Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.

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