E’ evidente che sulla questione iraniana diversi attori internazionali attuano già da tempo un’accorta attività di “perception management”. A discuterne di nuovo è questa analisi della Stratfor, “Deciphering Disinformation“.
“AN INTER PRESS SERVICE (IPS) REPORT emerged Monday in which a former CIA official claims that a widely circulated document describing Iran’s nuclear weapons plans was fabricated. The document in question appeared in the Times of London on Dec. 14 and cited an “Asian intelligence source” who allegedly provided the newspaper with “confidential intelligence documents” on how Iran was preparing to run tests on a neutron initiator, the component of a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion.
Former CIA counterterrorism official Philip Giraldi, however, claims in the IPS interview that the Rupert Murdoch publishing empire — which includes the Sunday Times, Fox News and the New York Post in addition to the Times of London — has been used frequently by the Israelis and occasionally by the British government to plant false stories to exaggerate the Iranian nuclear threat. Giraldi has been credited in the past with exposing disinformation campaigns by the previous U.S. administration that were designed to bolster claims that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was attempting to buy uranium from Niger.
Disinformation campaigns are common practice in the world of intelligence. Diplomatic negotiations, economic sanctions and military strikes are all tools of statecraft that require a considerable amount of political energy. In the grey areas of intelligence, however, policymakers have a relatively low-cost option of directly shaping the perceptions of their target audience through carefully calibrated disinformation campaigns. U.S. administrations, for example, often use The New York Times and The Washington Post for leaks while Israel tends to rely on British media outlets like the Times of London to plant stories that support their policy objectives.
We don’t know if the document on the neutron initiator was completely fabricated, but we do know that these leaks serve a very deliberate political purpose. Israel clearly has an interest in building up the Iranian nuclear threat. The United States has pledged to do its part to neutralize the Iranian nuclear program, and Israel has every incentive to drive the United States toward action. Although they share an interest in eliminating the Iranian nuclear program, each side has very different perceptions of the urgency of the threat and the timetable upon which it must be addressed.
Giraldi’s counter-leak, on the other hand, plays into the interests of the Obama administration. President Obama has no interest in getting pushed into a military conflict with Iran and wants to buy time to deal with the issue. By discrediting intelligence that has influenced the U.S. net assessment on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Giraldi could quite effectively send the U.S. intelligence community into a tailspin. Obama can then raise the issue of faulty intelligence to gain more time and room to maneuver with Israel. After all, Israel would have a much more difficult time making the case to Washington that Iran is approaching the point of no return in its nuclear weapons program if the United States can argue that the intelligence supporting that assumption is resting on fabricated evidence.
It takes a jolt like this to get various policymakers and intelligence officials in Washington to go back to the drawing board and re-examine their assessments on Iran. And Iran’s nuclear progress is not the only issue in question. Western media outlets and certain U.S. non-governmental institutions are spreading the perception that the opposition movement in Iran has gained considerable momentum and that the Iranian regime is on the ropes. Again, we have to take into account the use of disinformation campaigns. There are a lot of people around the world and in Washington that have an interest in painting the perception of an Iranian regime teetering on the edge of collapse. Twitter, YouTube and a handful of mostly U.S.- and Europe-based reformist Web sites, backed by upper-class Iranian expatriates no less, are a useful way to spread this perception.
But the facts on the ground appear to suggest otherwise. The Dec. 27 Ashura protests, described by many (including our own Iranian sources) as the big showdown between the regime and the opposition, were far more revealing of the marginalization of the opposition and the endurance of the Iranian regime than what many Western media outlets have led their viewers to believe. The protests have failed to break the regime’s tolerance level and have in fact empowered the regime, however fragmented, to crack down with greater force. This is broadly the view we have held since the June protests, but we, like many other intelligence organizations, are also in the process of reviewing our net assessment on Iran. The process is a painfully meticulous one, but one that requires great discipline and, of course, an ability to recognize multiple disinformation campaigns at work.“