Crackpot Hate-Islam Extremists as “Expert Witnesses”
Significantly, no reputable retired intelligence analyst on Iran was asked to help judge the testimony of the Iranian defectors. Instead, Clare M. Lopez and Bruce Tefft, both former CIA covert operations case officers, were invited to be “expert witnesses,” in large part to view the videotaped testimony of the three Iranian defectors and assess their credibility.
Based on the record of their public statements, however, they were selected for that role because they could be counted upon to endorse the defectors’ allegations of Iranian involvement in planning the 9/11 attacks and any other assertion, no matter how outlandish, that suggested Iranian guilt.
Lopez has been linked with the neoconservative faction of the Bush administration and the pro-Likud Party extreme right ever since she became Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee in 2005. Through a series of policy papers issued that year, the Committee sought to support from outside the push by a group of pro-Likud officials within the administration for a policy of regime change in Iran.
In particular, the Committee called for using the Mujahedin-E-Khalq or MEK, the armed opposition group listed by the US State Department as a terrorist group because of its assassinations of US officials during the regime of the Shah and bombings of large civilian events in Iran. The MEK had long enjoyed close working relations with Israel, but not with the United States, and the State Department had continued to oppose delisting and alliance with the MEK against Tehran, as proposed by the Defense Department and the Vice-President’s office.
Since 2009, Lopez has been a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy founded and headed by notorious Islam-hating extremist Frank J. Gaffney. One of Lopez’s projects has been to stir up public fear over an alleged threat to America – not from al Qaeda attacks, but from subversion by Muslim-Americans. She is one of a number of authors of a book published by Gaffney’s Center in October 2010 called “Shariah: the Threat to America,” which declares, “The United States is under attack by foes who are openly animated by what is known as Shariah (Islamic Law).”
Revealing the project’s anti-Islam paranoia, the book asserts, “Shariah dictates that non-Muslims be given three choices: convert to Islam and conform to Shariah; submit as second class citizens (dhimmis), or be killed.”
In a videotaped talk she gave on February 23, 2011, Lopez said Muslims, “believe they should be in charge of the world.” The main threat from Islam, she said, is “stealth Jihad” waged by Muslims who “hide behind a moderate image,” but whose “purpose is still the same” as that of al Qaeda.
A second aspect of Lopez’s work for Gaffney has been to intimidate opponents of the hard-line policies toward Iran – and especially the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC) – byaccusing them of being covert lobbyists for Iran.
Tefft, who retired from the CIA’s Operations Division in 1995, is even more explicit in arguing that there is a worldwide war against Islam. “We are fighting a 14-century war against Islam and its adherents, Muslims,” he declared in an interview with the right-wing website FrontPage in October 2007. “And it is a war that they have declared on all non-Muslims….” Islamic ideology requires Muslims to “make the world Islamic under the Caliphate, and to convert, kill or enslave all non-Muslims….” When the interviewer suggested that there are “moderate Muslims,” Tefft responded, “I don’t think so….” he said. “Were there ‘good’ or ‘moderate’ Nazis?”
Tefft referred to the way “the West” had “prevailed” over Islam with the “defeat of the marauding armies of Islam at the Gates of Vienna in 1529” and added, “We need to recall that period…and again contain Islam to its existing borders.”
When asked by this writer in a phone interview last week if he had been aware of the advocacy of Islamophobe arguments by Lopez and Tefft, Thomas Mellon, Jr., one of two lead lawyers in the case, did not answer directly, but said, “To the extent that you are accurate, we would say, fine, take them out.” He insisted that the lawyers for the case had not relied on any one of the ten “expert witnesses” listed on the case.
Also playing a central role in weaving the tale of Iranian complicity in the 9/11 attacks for the court case was the right-wing author and anti-Iran activist Kenneth R. Timmerman. According to the lawyers’ brief on the case, it was Timmerman who sought out one of the attorneys, Timothy B. Fleming, and brought to his attention the three Iranian “defectors” who claimed personal knowledge that Iran was involved in the planning of 9/11.
Like Lopez, Timmerman has been linked with hardline pro-Likud organizations and involved in efforts to overthrow the regime in Tehran. Along with Joshua Muravchik, and a group of Iranian exile foes of the Islamic regime, he established the “Foundation for Democracy in Iran” in 1995.
Timmerman has also expressed views sympathetic to the Hate-Islam movement. His 2003 book, “Preachers of Hate: Islam and the War against America,” portrays the United States and Israel as innocent victims of a vicious campaign against the West by whole Islamic societies that refuse to accept the US-Israeli narrative on terrorism. And his new novel, “St. Peter’s Bones,” has been praised by notorious Islam-hater Robert Spencer for revealing the “long-hidden origins of Islam.”