The Nation’s man in Tehran: Who is Robert Dreyfuss?...
By Bill Van Auken
World Socialist Website, June 22, 2009
Robert Dreyfuss, the magazine’s principal correspondent on the Iranian events—and on “politics and national security” generally—has parroted the unverified charge of a stolen election and characterized the incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as well as his supporters, as a “virtual fascist movement.”
In a June 17 column entitled: “Battle Lines in Iran,” Dreyfuss, who had just returned from covering the election in Tehran, speculated on the trajectory of the Iranian “showdown.”
This is an astonishing statement. While the number killed by the Shah’s troops and the notorious SAVAK secret police is disputed—the government today puts it at 60,000, while its opponents claim only about 3,000—there is no question that virtually every one of the demonstrations that erupted in 1978-79 saw scores, if not hundreds, of workers and students mowed down by automatic weapons fire in cities across the country.
SAVAK, trained by the CIA, was among the most sadistic secret police forces in the world, known for its systematic and hideous torture of anyone suspected of being an opponent of the monarchial regime. Its victims numbered in the tens of thousands.
How is one to account for this whitewashing of a brutal dictatorship by a journalist now posing as a champion of democracy? Who is this man?
Iran is not a new subject of inquiry for Robert Dreyfuss. He authored a book in the wake of the Iranian Revolution entitled “Hostage to Khomeini.”
The book’s foreword, addressed “to the American people,” describes it as “an indictment of President Carter’s role in contributing to the downfall of the Shah and Khomeini’s seizure of power.”
It speaks favorably of the “incoming government of Ronald Reagan,” presenting the change in administrations as an opportunity “for the entire Khomeini regime to be swept away during 1981 and replaced with a government of sanity.”
Dreyfuss exhorts his readers:
The book presents the Iranian Revolution not as a movement of millions against a hated dictatorship, but rather as a vast conspiracy orchestrated from within the Carter administration, in collaboration with British, Israeli and even Soviet intelligence.
Precisely what “ideals” were violated by Washington’s failure—not for want of trying—to keep the Shah on his Peacock Throne, Dreyfuss did not spell out.
The book was put out by New Benjamin Franklin House Publishing Co., which had produced other volumes that year, including “What every Conservative Should Know about Communism,” written by Lyndon LaRouche.
Dreyfuss held the title of “Middle East Intelligence Director” for LaRouche’s Executive Intelligence Review, the flagship publication of what the Washington Post described in 1985 as a network which “had more than 100 intelligence operatives working for it at times, and copies the government in its information-gathering operation.”
Political Research Associates, a think tank that specializes in tracking the activities of the extreme right, wrote of Dreyfuss’s former employer:
The PRA added that the organization had built:
According to published reports, one of the agencies with which it traded information was SAVAK, during the period in which it was carrying out its most murderous repression in Iran, while hunting down student opponents of the regime abroad.
After being driven into exile by the revolution, Empress Farah Diba Pahlavi, the Shah's widow, told the West German magazine Bunte:
The Nation describes Dreyfuss merely as
These credentials should have disqualified Dreyfuss from saying anything about the events in Iran. Nothing this man writes has any credibility.
The real question is: how has an individual of this character surfaced as the Nation’s correspondent in Tehran and its principal commentator on international affairs?
By Joseph Kishore
World Socialist Website, January 26, 2013
The Nation magazine is home to a particularly odious group of journalists. The “left” publication speaks on behalf of a privileged layer of the upper middle class, deeply complacent, lacking political principles and more and more integrated into the military and political establishment.
Even by these standards, a column penned by the Nation ’s Robert Dreyfuss January 22, “Brennan at the CIA might surprise us,” stands out. Dreyfuss is no casual commentator. He is the Nation’s chief foreign policy correspondent. The article thus presents the magazine’s more or less official position in defense of John Brennan, nominated by President Barack Obama to head the CIA.
As Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, Brennan played the principal role in vastly expanding the administration’s drone assassination program. He oversaw the development of the “disposition matrix” to permanently institutionalize the practice of extrajudicial murder—disposing of human beings—in the name of the “war on terror.”
Before serving under Obama, Brennan was the director of the National Counterterrorism Center in the Bush administration, where he was implicated in torture and illegal domestic spying. In sum, this is a man with a great deal of blood on his hands.
This is Obama’s second attempt to nominate Brennan for the top post in America’s spy network. When the president first tried to do so in 2009, the nomination came under criticism from his liberal supporters. Brennan eventually withdrew his nomination.
This time around, there has been much less criticism. The Democratic Party and its milieu have moved even farther to the right over the past four years. Some voices have been raised, however, including from a few liberal commentators cited by Dreyfuss. The Nation takes on the task of providing legal counsel for Brennan and the Obama administration.
In the end, the massacre of hundreds of civilians by US drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries is of little concern to Dreyfuss. “Maybe, just maybe, John Brennan won’t be a bad CIA director.” What, one might ask, is a good CIA director ? The notion that the Nation might take a principled stand in opposition to the American government’s chief spying and dirty tricks agency does not cross Dreyfuss’s mind.
The article resorts to lawyerly sophistry. There are
Really? Brennan is on record as declaring in 2007,
As for drones, Dreyfuss goes on, “it’s a mixed bag.” He boasts that “on several occasions, I met and interviewed Brennan.” In these discussions, the Nation assures its readers, Brennan came off as a principled man, even “left,” animated by a belief that “the military is the wrong instrument in fighting terrorism.” He quotes an article in the Washington Post portraying Brennan as guided by a “moral compass” in his selection of drone targets.
Parroting the line of the Obama administration, Dreyfuss insists that Brennan has sought “to limit, not expand, drone warfare.” This can only be taken as an endorsement of the “disposition matrix.”
Dreyfuss refers to claims that Brennan has lied about the impact of the administration’s drone killing, asserting that it has not killed any civilians. However, Dreyfuss observes,
If this defense does not suffice, Dreyfuss has another one prepared. “To be sure,” he writes, “as the White House’s counterterrorism chief and as a spokesman for the administration, Brennan has no choice but to defend the administration’s policy of carrying out a global drone warfare program.” Brennan, after all, was just following orders.
The attitude of Dreyfuss and the Nation magazine toward basic democratic rights is summed up in the comment’s treatment of the administration’s policy of assassinating US citizens. Mention of this violation of fundamental constitutional principles is confined to the final paragraphs, in which Dreyfuss notes that
The confirmation hearings next month, Dreyfuss assures us,
This is an obvious fraud. Dreyfuss is well aware that the administration has adamantly refused to make available its pseudo-legal justifications for assassinating American citizens, successfully blocking in court efforts to force it to do so.
Dreyfuss personifies a social layer that, through the mechanism of the Obama administration, has reconciled itself to imperialism, becoming in fact one of the most adamant supporters of American aggression at home and abroad. There is nothing remotely left-wing about these forces. They are capable of supporting and defending any crime.