Ben Johnson, The White House Watch
Rush Limbaugh is asking if the foiled terrorist plot Attorney General Eric Holder announced yesterday was a ploy to distract the American people from Holder’s role in a deadly Mexican gun-running operation. Holder announced the plot — in which Iranian forces allegedly plotted to hire a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. in a Washington, D.C., restaurant — shortly after Congressman Darrell Issa threatened to subpoena him for misleading Congress about Operation Fast and Furious. “What a great way to sidestep the fact that he’s being delivered a subpoena for Fast and Furious,” Limbaugh told his audience on Tuesday. “That’s exactly what this is all about…No question in my mind what Holder’s press conference is about.”
Is it possible Rush is right that Holder has overhyped the story for political ends? The evidence shows, surprisingly, that the possibility of a hoax cannot be dismissed out of hand.
According to Eric Holder, an Iranian contacted a member of the Mexican cartel Los Zetas in May about a plan to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir. Manssor Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen, allegedly also offered to pay the Mexican gang to bomb the Israeli embassy in America, and the Israeli and Saudi embassies in Argentina. However, the Los Zetas connection was an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), who informed the DEA about the offer. In August, Arbabsiar wired him a $100,000 down payment on the $1.5 million promised fee. When Arbabsiar flew into Mexico as human collateral, the government routed his plane to New York, where federal agents took him into custody.
Once there, he named Gholam Shakuri, a member of Iran’s Quds Force, as his co-conspirator and made covert calls to Shakuri from prison. (Shakuri is still at large, presumably in Iran.) The administration is designating three other members of Quds as terrorists.
So far, no one has disputed these facts.
Yet Holder insisted at yesterday’s press conference, “High-up officials in those [Iranian] agencies, which is an integral part of the Iranian government, were responsible for this plot. I think one has to be concerned about the chilling nature of what the Iranian government attempted to do here.” And Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, said, “it looks like it’s the Quds Force.”
This is highly questionable. Experts on terrorism question the tactics and generally unprofessional execution of the plot, saying they indicate the Quds Force did not authorize this, much less the higher levels of the Iranian government.
Roger Cressey, who worked in national security in the Clinton and Bush-43 administrations, said….