Protest - Anti Iran War 25Jan2020


The immediate crisis, the threat of imminent war with Iran, appears to have receded. Accordingly the demonstration on the last Saturday of January was only 150 to 200 people. Long-term consequences of the few weeks of hostility with Iran: 1. Iran appears to have very accurate conventional missiles. They can do tremendous damage to US forces within range. 2. The Iranians shot down their own airplane, demonstrating the costs of the tension that hostility produces. 3. Plenty of potential avenues for Iran to attack us in such a way as to cause maximum damage.

As we can see, there was a lull and a slight improvement in US-Iran relations after the 2015 nuclear deal was signed. Since Trump has take office, relations have gotten steadily worse. Iran has lots of internal problems that were exacerbated by the US blockade. In the book All Fall Down, the author made it clear that corruption was a major issue in Iran piror to the 1979 revoution. Shortly before the troubles with the US, Iranians were demonstrating against corruption. Now of course, those demonstrations have been put on hold and the crusade against corruption has taken second place to a need to defend against the US.


The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, recently had an interview where he defended the conflict with Iran and claimed the US was making progress (Pompeo also blew up at the NPR reporter. Good summary of the fracas here.) In the interview Pompeo states

...the diplomatic effort on this front has been vigorous, robust and enormously successful. We built out a significant coalition that has put pressure on the Iranian regime to do what we've asked: to cease its processing of uranium, reprocessing of plutonium, to stop its missile program and the development of its missile program. President Trump made clear they're not going to have a nuclear program that is capable of delivering these weapons around the world.

A problem here is that many of these goals had already been achieved prior to January 2017, when the White House changed over from President Obama to President Trump. The processing of uranium had been reduced to the point where Iran was producing uranium that was only good for commercial nuclear power and there was no Iranian nuclear -bomb building program. There was a robust alliance that had put presure on Iran to agree to these things. The Iranian missile program has continued, but that could have been handled as a separate issue. Pompeo went on to claim that the "Maximum Pressure" campaign was working. It's difficult to see how he came to that conclusion. The alliance is far less together than it was when Trump came into office (Russia, China and Iran recently conducted joint Naval manuevers in the Sea of Oman), besides which Europe is standing by the Iranian nuclear deal of 2015 against the US. Iran has re-started its uranium processing."Iran quadrupled its uranium-enrichment production capacity amid tensions with the U.S. over Tehran’s atomic program...". Iran may be suffering lots of strains from being under sanctions, but there's no indication that Pompeo is right and that Iran is anywher near ready to return to the bargaining table. 


The Press Secretary claimed that the networks are horribly biased against her boss (at the 1:35 mark on the video). Why would networks conclude President Trump was guilty? Well, first off, on November 13, the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, had 45 minutes of uninterrupted time to make a case for the President's innocence. He did no such thing. My own conclusion is that Nunes just didn't have any case that the President was innocent.

But let's pursue this line and look at a partcular issue in the impeachment case. A little after 11:00am on Saturday the 25th, I heard some of the President’s team attempting to rebut the case the House Managers had built against the President. I was interested in this (My own transcript reconstructed from memory) "The President took the unprecedented step of declassifying the call." This was a summary of the July 25th call that the President provided to the public and has described as “Perfect.” But why was the call summary classified, that is, placed on a highly classified NSC server, in the first place? Here are some excerpts:


Timothy Morrison, Dr. Hill’s successor as the NSC’s Senior Director for Europe and Russia and Lt. Col. Vindman’s supervisor, said that “the call was not the full-throated endorsement of the Ukraine reform agenda that I was hoping to hear.” 142 He too reported the call to NSC lawyers, worrying that the call would be “damaging” if leaked publicly. 143
In response, Mr. Eisenberg and his deputy, Michael Ellis, tightly restricted access to the call summary, which was placed on a highly classified NSC server even though it did not contain any highly classified information. 144

Business Insider

Eisenberg also warned officials not to tell anyone about the phone call and had a transcript of the conversation moved to a top-secret, codeword NSC server typically used to house sensitive information pertaining to US national security.
[White House counsel Pat Cipollone] referenced a “transcript” of the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky and said it was the “best evidence of what happened on the call."
Fact check: No transcript of the call has been released. The White House put out a rough summary of the conversation, but the full transcript is on a top-secret, codeword National Security Council server. White House lawyers made the unusual decision to move the transcript to the server — which is typically used to house sensitive information pertaining to national security — after multiple White House officials reported the call as being inappropriate and a potential violation of US law.


CBS News

Former NSC official Tim Morrison testified that he learned in late August, after he raised concerns the call record might leak, that the call summary had been placed on a highly sensitive server reserved for the nation's most sensitive national security secrets. That server was not meant for "routine calls with foreign leaders."
John Eisenberg, a lawyer with the National Security Council, said placing the call record there was an administrative error, according to other witnesses' testimony. Eisenberg declined to show up for House proceedings to testify further.
It wasn't until the launch of the impeachment inquiry that the call summary was released. It's unclear, Jeffries said, exactly how the call ended up on that server for the most sensitive national security information.
"Who ordered the cover-up of the call record? The American people deserve to know," Jeffries said. 

Link to C-Span video
We still don’t have the testimony of relevant officials. At the 37:45 mark, Representative Hakeem Jeffries reported that the call records were still on the NSC server, still inaccessible to anyone outside a very short list of Trump Administration officials. 

If anyone wishes to declare the President innocent, I believe they first need to explain the various issues with placing the call record/transcript on the NSC server and why it apparently still has not been moved to the server that's normally used for diplomatic conversations. If it was such a “perfect” call, why go to such lengths to continue to hide the transcript? If it was placed on the NSC server by mistake, why was that “mistake” never corrected? Why have the people who decided to hide the call transcript never testified as to why they made the decisions they did?

When the President's defenders begin to answer these questions, then we can say that there might be a case for the President's innocence.