The Japanese owner of the vessel maintains that there were no mines — or torpedos — involved, denying that such could have been the case because the damage to the ship was above the waterline. He went so far as to call the whole U.S.-pedaled notion of mines being responsible “false.”
Just a day before the Trump administration blamed Iran for an attack on two oil tankers connected to Japan in the Gulf of Oman, without offering a shred of evidence, members of Congress revealed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had privately briefed them on possible justifications for a war on Iran.
The two oil tankers were targeted as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Iran, the first time a Japanese leader had gone to the country since its revolution 40 years ago. Abe was to act as a mediator between Washington and Tehran. This followed threats from the United States to sanction Japan, the world’s fourth-largest consumer of oil, for trading with Iran.
Reuters reports: “Japan was one of the main buyers of Iranian oil until last month, when Washington ordered all countries to halt all Iranian oil imports or face sanctions of their own.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that “suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.”
His U.S. counterpart, Pompeo, held a four-minute briefing on Friday about the incident, refusing to take any questions. It was just the latest pie-in-the-sky narrative from the former CIA director, who recently admitted that during his time at the agency, “We lied, we cheated, we stole.”
Suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.
Iran's proposed Regional Dialogue Forum is imperative.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 13, 2019
Meanwhile, the U.S. government’s contention that the oil tankers were attacked with mines appears to be falling apart just one day later. The owner of one of the tankers said on Friday that “flying objects” were observed just before the fire broke out. The U.S., meanwhile, released video on Friday which they say shows Iranian vessels removing an unexploded mine.
Yet the owner of the vessel maintains that there were no mines — or torpedos — involved, denying that such could have been the case because the damage to the ship was above the waterline. He went so far as to call the whole notion of mines being responsible “false.”
Iranian vessels, it should be noted, rescued the crewmen on Thursday.
Remember the Maine, Operation Northwoods, Gulf of Tonkin, Kuwaiti incubator babies, Saddam’s WMD’s, Qaddafi soldiers’ Viagra spree, Last Messages From Aleppo, Douma, burning aid on Colombia-Venezuela bridge, and now today’s attacks in the Gulf of Oman. https://t.co/jnoIcXxUAS
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) June 13, 2019
How to go to war without consent from Congress
Just one day prior to the alleged attacks, members of Congress were negotiating the defense budget when it was revealed that Pompeo had privately briefed them on potential justifications for a war with Iran, justifications that would render Congress’ control of war powers obsolete.
“The notion that the administration has never maintained that there are elements to the 2001 AUMF [Authorization for Use of Military Force] that would authorize their hostilities toward Iran is not consistent with my understanding of what they said to us,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said.
“We were absolutely presented with a full formal presentation on how the 2001 AUMF might authorize war on Iran,” said Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI).
“Secretary Pompeo said it with his own words,” Slotkin added.
On Wednesday, Congress members were debating whether to add language to the defense budget bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), that would explicitly say the 2001 AUMF could not be used to justify war with Iran.
Congress is supposed to provide consent before the White House is allowed to go to war, a power that has largely been usurped since the War on Terror began. That’s largely because of the 2001 AUMF, which authorizes the president to:
use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”
Under President Barack Obama, the AUMF was expanded to include the administration’s anti-ISIS campaign, despite the fact that ISIS did not even exist when the World Trade Center was attacked.
Is it only a matter of time before the 2001 AUMF is stretched to absurd lengths again, this time with IRGC? US courts have found Iran at fault for 9/11, and this document authorizes force against that. With the terrorist designation, Bolton has all he needs to justify a hot war.
— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) April 8, 2019
Following the State Department’s designation of Iran’s military, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as a terrorist organization in April, MintPress News reported:
Notably, the CIA opened a new ‘mission center’ on Iran in June 2017 — when Pompeo was CIA director — aimed at ‘turning up the heat’ on Iran and making the country a ‘higher priority’ for American spies. Now, just under two years later, the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist group allows those clandestine operations to become ‘more robust’ and more overt thanks to the years-long expansion of the 2001 AUMF.”
The Trump administration has on several occasions attempted to link Iran to al-Qaeda, which might be true if we were living in the Twilight Zone. Iran, a Shia-led country, has longstanding hostilities with the Sunni extremist group and Iranian-backed forces have battled them on multiple fronts over the years. Despite the overwhelming lack of evidence, Trump himself has sought to tie the country to al-Qaeda and U.S. courts have ruled that Iran is responsible for 9/11, rulings which are similarly surreal.
Yet the Trump administration is reputed to deal in the land of alternative facts. According to Rep. Slotkin, during Pompeo’s briefing he “referenced a relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda.”
Given the post-truth playing field Trump likes to play ball on, compounded with the extreme hawkishness of his lackeys John Bolton and Pompeo, the threat of war with Iran has never been higher, and it appears the administration is bent on circumventing congressional approval. If the plan goes ahead, it would mark the most serious instance of blowback in the post 9/11 era and create a quagmire worse than Iraq, since Iran’s military is far stronger than the army of Saddam Hussein. Perhaps this is another instance of brinkmanship by the administration, or perhaps Pompeo sees it as making good on his vow to “continue to fight these battles… until the rapture.”
Feature photo | Gulf of Oman Tanker Attack
Alexander Rubinstein is a staff writer for MintPress News based in Washington, DC. He reports on police, prisons and protests in the United States and the United States’ policing of the world. He previously reported for RT and Sputnik News.