Mike Pompeo
© REUTERS/AARON P. BERNSTEIN
Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo
CIA Director Mike Pompeo told an interviewer at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) the CIA will "become a much more vicious agency" in conducting covert operations against its roster of enemies, most prominently Iran and North Korea.

Pompeo also told the gathering of neocons Trump decertified the Iran deal not because it is in violation-the Iranians are playing by the rules-but rather because Trump has been told it "would curtail Iranian adventurism."

Trump advisor, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, also addressed the FDD neocons. He said America has suffered from a lack of "strategic competence... in recent years," in other words, the deep state has failed to remove the governments of Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and assorted others.

Foreign Policy columnist Jeffrey Lewis compared McMaster's remarks to those of General Maxwell Taylor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Taylor urged President Kennedy to launch an invasion of Cuba.

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a cross-pollination of neocons and humanitarian interventionists. Its board of advisors includes Weekly Standard publisher Bill Kristol, former CIA boss James Woolsey, radical fringe neocon Frank Gaffney, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and assorted deep state insiders, namely Newt Gingrich, Joe Lieberman, Donna Brazile (the former DNC boss is a founding member), and Charles Schumer.

The organization is funded by the Bronfman brothers, Clifford D. May, and assorted millionaires and billionaires. May is president of the foundation and a signatory of the Project for the New American Century, noted for its preoccupation with Iraq and the chimera of Saddam Hussein's nuclear and chemical programs. It was founded by two neocons, Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, and is responsible for many of the lies used to make a case for invading Iraq.

As May noted, Israel is a prime focus for the think tank. "May and FDD have been calling for action against Iran since the organization's founding. And in doing so, they have almost invariably cited Israel's security," writes John B. Judis.

Mike Pompeo is ardently anti-Iran, so it will be the primary target of his agency's covert viciousness, followed by North Korea. In a replay of the ruse used to frame Saddam Hussein, Pompeo said during his visit it is "an open secret and not classified information that there have been relationships, there are connections" between al-Qaeda and Iran. He provided no evidence of this.

There is evidence, however, senior members of al-Qaeda-including Osama bin Laden sons Saad and Hamza-were arrested by the Revolutionary Guard and held in Iran after they fled the US invasion of neighboring Afghanistan in 2003.

Iran turned them over to other countries. It also offered to hand al-Qaeda members over to the United States in a trade for People's Mujahedin of Iran members held by the United States in occupied Iraq, but the neocon dominated Bush administration refused. Porter Goss, Bush's CIA director, said in 2005 there was the "understanding that there is a group of leadership of al-Qaeda under some type of detention-I don't know exactly what type, necessarily-in Iran is probably accurate."

The Saudis had their suspicions. They believed the captive al-Qaeda leaders were used to mastermind a 2003 attack in Riyadh. This is improbable considering Iran is predominately Shi'a and Saudi Arabia Sunni and the two factions of Islam consider each other infidels and apostates.

The official US narrative was set in stone by the 9/11 commission report. It holds up as unvarnished truth there was "strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al-Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers."

Saudi intelligence added to the narrative by announcing in 2004 its agents apprehended Khaled bin Ouda bin Mohammed al-Harbi inside Iran. The legless cleric appeared in a video attributed to Osama bin Laden, but subsequently dismissed as a crude fake. "It is preposterous for anybody to think that this tape is doctored," Bush said. "That's just a feeble excuse to provide weak support for an incredibly evil man."

Last year the US Treasury Department announced it had sanctioned three high-level al-Qaeda operatives "living in Iran." The State Department was a little more circumspect. It said al-Qaeda members continued to be "held" as prisoners or guests-depending on who tells the story-and Iran has refused to release their identities. "Since at least 2009, Iran has allowed AQ facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through the country, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria," the State Department explains on its web page.

This contradicts previous announcements by the State Department. In its terrorism reports for 2015and 2014, it said al-Qaeda was no longer operational in Iran. As we learned with Iraq and the Gulf of Tonkin, the government specializes in lying, fabrication, and deception to fit the agenda script.

Trump has embraced the neocon Iran narrative. He made this clear when he decertified the nuclear deal. Trump pinned the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996 on Iran and said it supported al-Qaeda following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He also said Iran has killed hundreds of US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Saudi Arabia blamed the Khobar Towers bombing on "Saudi Islamic militants, including many veterans of the Afghan War," in other words, al-Qaeda operating in the kingdom. Following a three year investigation by the FBI the US blamed Iran despite the Pentagon saying in 1997 it did not have evidence pointing at Iran.

Four months before September 11, an indictment was issued in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The indictment named Ahmed Ibrahim al-Mughassil and others and charged them with carrying out the bombing. Al-Mughassil is said to head up the military wing of the pro-Iran Saudi Hizballah.

Even The New York Times admits there is no evidence Iran killed US soldiers in Afghanistan. In March Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the accusation in a speech before a joint session of Congress. "But after more than 13 years of war, there is still scant evidence that would link Iran to any specific American deaths in Afghanistan, never mind the thousands that Mr. Netanyahu spoke of," the Times reported. Netanyahu ignored the fact the US and Iran have worked together indirectly in Iraq for self-serving purpose over a period of years. The omission proved to be great fodder for the neocon narrative, however.

It doesn't take much effort to get Mr. Pompeo's drift. Beginning with the creation of the national security state in 1947, the CIA has worked behind the scenes arranging coups, assassinating disfavored leaders, and manufacturing proxy wars around the world. Its inglorious past includes undermining Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Cambodia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Bolivia, Honduras, and many others.

Following the revelations of the Church committee of the Senate, the Pike committee of the House, and the Rockefeller Commission portraying the CIA as a rogue and murderous agency, it was decided to farm out much of what the CIA did to the National Endowment for Democracy and its beneficiaries, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and Freedom House. NED played a pivotal role in the Iran-Contra affair, intervened in the Philippines, and funded a fanatical anti-Castro group in Miami. More recently, it has worked to oust the democratically elected leaders in Ukraine and Venezuela.

"The NED, like the CIA before it, calls what it does supporting democracy. The governments and movements whom the NED targets call it destabilization," writes William Blum.

It's not clear how the CIA under Mike Pompeo will become "more vicious," but its past-or that we are privy to-should serve as an example.

Pompeo put Michael D'Andrea in charge of CIA Iran operations. During his tenure at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, D'Andrea presided over the illegal drone program that has killed untold numbers in Pakistan and Yemen. His operatives also oversaw the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, which a United States Senate report described as torture. Robert Eatinger, a former CIA lawyer intimately involved in the agency's drone program, asked if D'Andrea will take a hardline on Iran, and replied, "I don't think it's the wrong read."

If you think sanity will prevail in US relations with Iran, think again. Trump was tutored on decertifying the Iran deal by Senator Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican. Cotton, a former Army captain, believes bombing Iran is doable. He also compared the Iran nuclear negotiations to the "appeasement" of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, said there are too many empty beds at Guantánamo Bay, and called for jailing journalists after they revealed a secret Bush administration program.

According to the Beltway rumor mill, Pompeo or the equally virulent Nikki Haley, Trump's UN ambassador, may become the next secretary of state if Rex Tillerson steps down. Speculation has it Pompeo's replacement may be Tom Cotton. During the transition, Cotton was seriously considered to run the CIA.

"As CIA director, he would have no compunction about doing whatever is necessary to 'find' evidence to achieve his long-cherished goal of a war with Iran," writes Heather Digby Parton.

If appointed, Tom Cotton will set the stage for a disastrous war. In 2015, he told CNN it would only take "several days" to bomb Iran into oblivion and the operation would resemble 1998's Operation Desert Fox, Bill Clinton's four day raid on Iraq.

"It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox: Several days air and naval bombing against Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior-for interfering with weapons inspectors and for disobeying Security Council resolutions," Cotton told the Family Research Council in 2015.

There is a problem with this, however. At the time, Iraq was working its way to failed state status under punitive sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. "Whatever they do we will take reciprocal measures. All options are on the table," said a senior advisor to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, after Trump decertified the nuclear deal and threatened to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group.

Unlike Iraq, Iran has prepared for asymmetric war with the United States. It will shut down shipping in the Persian Gulf if Trump attacks. In addition, its Revolutionary Guard has long planned on mounting an insurgent and guerrilla campaign against an invading force trying to reach Iran's northern cities from its coastlines.

Are Donald Trump supporters ready for the damage that will be inflicted on our petroleum-based economy if Iran sinks tankers and blocks the Strait of Hormuz? Are they ready to shell out billions of dollars to launch an ill-fated war that will have a significantly different outcome than the neocon "cakewalk" in Iraq?