Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Rumors to the left of me, speculation to the right...

On the right, we have rumors that a retired Iranian general has gone missing and may have defected to the United States, an event that is reportedly sparking "panic" in Tehran.

The newspaper, al-Shark al-Awsat, cited "high-profile" sources saying former Iranian deputy defence minister and Revolutionary Guard commander Ali Reza Asghari had gone over to the West.

Reports from Istanbul that General Asghari's family had also disappeared in Turkey support the likelihood that he defected rather than was kidnapped by either the CIA or by Israel's Mossad, as has been speculated. The general went missing from his Istanbul hotel a month ago.

Iranian authorities, who have been silent on the disappearance until this week, claim he has been abducted.

Defections are good. As long as it's one of theirs. Why is this particularly important? Because of this:

General Asghari's crossing of the line, whether voluntary or not, is a resounding blow for the Iranian Government since he is privy to its most intimate secrets, particularly those concerning its nuclear capabilities and plans.

He served until two years ago as deputy defence minister, a post he held for eight years and which presumably offered an uninhibited view of virtually every aspect of Iran's security apparatus.

He was reportedly closely associated with Iran's activities in support of the Shi'ites in Iraq.

If true, this is a great big birthday present wrapped in ribbons and bows. But take it with a grain of salt for now. At the moment, it's just rumors and reports from unreliable sources.

On the left, Raw Story is claiming to have seen a memo confirming that one of the secret CIA prisons was at an intelligence training school in Poland. As an aside, it says its sources all say the CIA is no longer operating secret prisons -- and probably never had anything permanent, relying instead on a series of temporary, short-term facilities that it used as needed.

Take this one with a big grain of salt. It's plausible, but there is no independent confirmation of anything within it.

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