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Michael Weiss and the Iran-U.S. Hardline Nexus That Led Iranian-American to Evin Prison
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Weiss affects a long-haired, unshaven Bohemian look

Weiss affects a long-haired, unshaven Bohemian look

It’s a long way from the campus of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire’s Great North Woods in 2003 to Tehran’s Evin Prison in 2016. But the path between them led to a fateful intersection of the lives of Michael D. Weiss (the Dartmouth student) and Siamak Namazi (a jailed Iranian-American). It was Weiss who helped put him there.

Weiss, age 36, has been an itinerant freelance journalist and military interventionist gun-for-hire, plying his trade from Washington DC, to London, to the outlying lands of former Russian empire, to the ruins of Syria.

With his role as CNN commentator and senior editor at the Daily Beast, he is a leading light among a new young generation of neoconservative intellectuals. These positions offer him the opportunity to shape American political discourse in much the same way Bill Kristol’s Project for the New American Century, shaped U.S. militarist- interventionist foreign policy for a decade or more after its famous 1998 letter to Bill Clinton.

A disciple of Christopher Hitchens, Weiss shares the late British intellectual’s penchant for intellectual combat and a gift for the deft, savage phrase. Like him, Weiss fancies nostalgic ties to some radical left tradition. Also like Hitchens, he has the knack for popularizing neoconservative ideas in media-friendly sound bytes. Unlike Hitchens, Weiss has proven to be exceedingly opaque in terms of some of the political and financial alliances he’s made.

Michael D. Weiss graduated in 2003 with a BA in History from Dartmouth College. In 2006, he signed the Euston Manifesto, a political broadside by liberal intellectuals embracing a new robust interventionist politics. It was written largely by the UK philosopher, Norman Geras. Here is how Weiss described the Band of [ex-radical] Brothers who devised it:

Amidst this moral and ideological muddle, a group of graying British Marxists and ex-Communists huddled together in a London pub in May of 2005 and began crafting a manifesto for the 21st century left. Enough was enough.

A 2007 profile in Geras’, Normblog, notes some of Weiss’ odd agglomeration of interests and predilections. He notes one of his earliest “successes” as a blogger was calling for a protest in “support of Denmark” in the midst of the Jyllands Posten-Mohammed cartoon controversy.

The blog he most admires is Harry’s Place, a notorious haven for refugees from various leftist movements who’ve “seen the light” and turned to the right. Among their chief occupations is bashing figures on the left, especially those who criticize Israel or endorse Palestinian rights.

Weiss lists as his special heroes Karl Marx, Irving Howe (a bit of a clash there between the founder of Communism and an ardent anti-Communist), and George Orwell. Among the surprising things this future neocon endorses is “socialized healthcare.”

After Dartmouth, he enrolled at the New School as a student disciple of one of his intellectual heroes, Christopher Hitchens. There he learned the art of stabbing his political enemies with an acid-tipped pen. It’s no coincidence that the title of his blog, defunct since 2010, was Snarksmith.

Later, he moved to Bill Kristol’s shop at the Weekly Standard. Still later, he became an editor at the online Jewish publication, Jewcy, where I first encountered him.[1]In the interest of full disclosure, I first came to know Michael Weiss in 2007, after he commissioned a week’s worth of blog posts from me in 2007. He asked if I’d be willing to move my blog, Tikun Olam, to the Jewcy site. After I expressed interest and asked for further details, he promised an agreement would be drafted for my review.

Then I waited…and waited. After several months, it became clear that there would be no agreement forthcoming. Needless to say, it was an inauspicious start and end of a publishing relationship.

By the next year Weiss had left Jewcy and moved to Britain. By 2009, Jewcy’s founder and leading funder abandoned the venture. It later became a subsidiary of Tablet Magazine, which is funded by the pro-Israel Likudist Jewish Avi Chai and Kesher Foundations.

Around 2008, Weiss moved from New York to London where he became the founding director of Just Journalism, a pro-Israel advocacy group tasked with policing the media for “anti-Israel bias.” It based its model on the U.S. based CAMERA, which monitors U.S. mainstream media, acting as a form of media thought-police regarding the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Just Journalism closed its doors in 2011 due to lack of funds. But before it died, Weiss had taken on a second post with the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) in 2010. From its founding in 2005 till 2009, HJS was a centrist foreign policy think-tank seeking to forge a middle-ground between the “conservative-realist right and the anti-imperialist left.” It was named for the staunchly anti-Communist U.S. Senator Henry Jackson, whose heyday was in the 1970s. Jackson was one of the last Cold War warriors, who’d led the drive on behalf of Soviet Jewry, thus making himself a close ally of Israel and the U.S.-based Israel lobby.

It hosted a variety of academics with differing geographic specialities and ideological orientations who used HJS as a springboard for debate in their various fields. UK academic, Markus Attila Hoare, was one of the co-founders and served as HJS’ Balkan specialist.

Later when he came aboard, Weiss was named HJS director of research (one of a shifting series of job titles over time). As such, he controlled the publication of HJS research scholars. One day, Hoare found he was no longer permitted to publish on the group’s website. Weiss declared that under the new regime only he had the right to determine what was published.

Hoare portrayed the 2011 merger of Just Journalism and another Tory think-tank, the Center for Social Cohesion, as a “putsch.” He left HJS sometime after his altercation with Weiss and wrote a long appraisal–at times sad, at times bitter–of the demise of the dream he and his colleagues once shared.

The “new” HJS was a muscular proponent of UK solidarity with Israel. It became a staunch opponent of anything that smacked of hostility to Israel, whether it be Palestinians or left-wing politicians, or European NGOs.

Another Weiss HJS job title was director of the Russia Studies Center (without speaking Russian or ever having lived there). In 2011, Weiss also began publishing a blog at the Daily Telegraph, (a publication sometimes derisively referred to as “Torygraph”).

Later, a former HJS insider reported to me, Weiss had a falling out as well with two of his former allies at HJS. Things became so acrimonious he had to hire a lawyer and later sign a non-disparagement agreement so as not to air any dirty linen in public.

The most comprehensive account of HJS’ rise and fall is Spinwatch’s, The Henry Jackson Society and the degeneration of British neoconservatism: liberal interventionism, Islamophobia and the ‘war on terror’.


Syria’s Civil War and Weiss’ New-Found Calling as Syria Interventionist

Weiss with Syrian rebel fanboys

Weiss with Syrian rebel fanboys

In 2011, Syrian civil unrest commenced and turned gradually into a regional proxy war. As Syrian rebels began their fight to topple Bashar al-Assad; and Russia and Iran rallied to support the Syrian dictator, Weiss saw a new opportunity to advance his interventionist agenda. He became one of the leading neocon intellectuals advocating muscular U.S. intervention on the side of the Syrian rebels. He advocated those views in publications of the foreign policy elite like Foreign Policy, think tanks like the Carnegie Council for International Affairs, and TV shows too innumerable to mention.

He is a producer’s dream. Like his mentor Hitchens, he is glib and articulate. He explains complicated, confusing issues like ISIS in a media-savvy package. His slashing wit (again, think a dumbed-down version of Hitchens add a note of drama and conspiratorial mystery as well) piques the interest of his audience. Few producers will do enough due diligence to research articles like this one exposing Weiss’ foibles, or damning profiles by James Carden in The Nation or Mark Ames in Pando.

In one of the more memorable portrayals of Weiss’ career, Carden wrote to me:

Weiss has become a regular contributor to CNN

Weiss has become a regular contributor to CNN

…Given his past association with the Henry Jackson Society, in his work as an errand-boy for Christopher Hitchens and the Khodorkovsky family, and as a high profile editor/contributor at the Daily Beast and CNN, Weiss has established himself as the leading neocon propagandist of his generation.


The Elizabeth O’Bagy Scandal

In 2013, Weiss teamed up with Elizabeth O’Bagy to write an article in The Atlantic which advocated regime change in Syria. Separately, she wrote a similar piece for the Wall Street Journal. What the WSJ didn’t reveal was that O’Bagy was a paid consultant for an NGO working to provide military weapons to the Syrian rebels and overthrow Assad, the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF). On the strength of her work, she was invited to testify before Congress. But she had a wee-small problem. She’d embellished her academic record, which led to being fired by the NGO and staining all those who’d championed her, including Weiss. WSJ’s failure to note her affiliation with SETF also posed a clear conflict of interest.

More recently, Weiss traveled to Turkey to interview a supposed escapee from the ISIS gulag. His three-part Daily Beast profile purported to offer a behind the scenes look into life as an ISIS fighter. He gave his informant a pseudonym, ostensibly to protect him from reprisals by his former comrades. The stories he was told contained just enough detail to allow readers to believe in the authenticity of the narrative. But not enough to allow researchers to definitively corroborate the tale he told.


Weiss, Next Generation of the Neocon Intellectual Elite

Weiss seeks to mold a vision that is as ambitious as the one molded by his mentors, Hitchens and Bill Kristol.

It was Kristol who co-founded PNAC for the New American Century with the goal of reshaping the Middle East in the image of the west. The Weekly Standard publisher pinned his hopes on the Bush administration and the Iraq War as the means to make an indelible mark on U.S. foreign policy in the Mideast. Unfortunately, the project didn’t turn out as expected. The baby, in an ironic echo of Condoleezza Rice’s infamous saying about the “birthpangs of a new Middle East,” died aborning.

Not to be outdone, Weiss has adapted the old anti-Communism of Scoop Jackson, tossed in a touch of Bill Kristol-PNAC’s projection of U.S. military might to reshape broad swaths of the Middle East, along with a heaping measure of Khodorkovsky’s dream of regime change in Russia. To this, he’s added a strong dose of anti-jihadism. It makes for a supremely ambitious, geopolitically sweeping, and exceedingly dangerous stew.

Like Kristol, Weiss too dreams of a war he can make his own. There is a fertile field of possibilities: Syria, Ukraine, the Baltic States, even Iran (though a more remote possibility currently after the nuclear deal). He failed to provoke war in Syria when Pres. Obama rejected a military adventure there. Nor has he succeeded in provoking NATO intervention in Ukraine. But there is still time…and hope.


Weiss Teams Up with Russian Oligarch, Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Siamak Namazi

Siamak Namazi

He and Mikhail Khodorkovsky teamed up because the latter seeks to topple the Putin regime. One way to inch closer to the prospect is to inject anti-Putin propaganda into the world media. Hence, Weiss’ Weiss’ gig as editor of The Interpreter. Its mission is:

…The modest goal of translating articles from the Russian press, the better to lower the language barrier that separates journalists, analysts, policymakers, diplomats and interested laymen in the English-speaking world from events taking place inside the Russian Federation.

Oh the irony of a journalist who doesn’t speak the language, yet edits a journal designed to translate the Russian language and nation to a western audience!

Recently, Khodorkovsky supposedly passed the baton to Radio Free Liberty, which is the new sponsor of the online magazine. From information I have heard, RFE will essentially share content with The Interpreter, with no funding involved. With leaves open the question of where funding for the venture originates.

Given that Weiss regularly testifies before Congressional committees on the danger posed by Putin and ISIS, it’s clear he has patrons within the government, along with patrons within the think tank community. Other journalists have speculated to me that the U.S. may be reviving covert Cold War funding mechanisms to finance projects like Weiss’. But you don’t have to be as conspiratorial as all that to believe that a GOP Congressmember with anti-Muslim, anti-Putin sympathies would be only too happy to slip an appropriation into a bill as a favor to Khodorkovsky or any of a number of Weiss’ neocon patrons.


Weiss’ New Friends at the Legatum Institute

Among them are Jeffrey Gedmin and Anne Applebaum of the Legatum Institute, a neocon think tank founded ostensibly to promote freedom and democracy through capitalism. Legatum’s targets are places like Russia and former Soviet satellites like Ukraine, the Baltic states and Poland, perceived to be under threat from Putinist hegemony. Gedmin is a former CEO of Radio Free Liberty and a signatory of the Project for a New American Century, which led to our disastrous war in Iraq. Applebaum is an award-winning writer who has documented the crimes of the Soviet gulag.

Legatum has financed a number of Weiss anti-Putin projects which received widespread media coverage and resulted in Congressional testimony, including a report with the suitably racy title, The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture and Money.

The term “weaponization” in the Russian context was first coined by NYU Russian studies scholar Mark Galeotti, who has since expressed reservations about the sweeping manner in which anti-Putin ideologues (like Weiss) use it. Weiss has glommed onto the phrase himself and used it to argue that the west too must weaponize information as Putin has. Among the policies he envisions in the western fight against Putin is censorship regimes against dissident voices which advance a pro-Russian agenda.

Weiss also approvingly quoted NATO commander Philip Breedlove who speaks of Putin’s “weaponization of refugees.” In the latter case, most scholars see absolutely no evidence that the Assad regime has recruited sleeper agents to attack the west or anything of the sort. This is precisely the sort of shoddy analysis and reportage of which Weiss is often and manifestly guilty.

Mark Ames reports that Legatum is financed by an obscure New Zealand vulture capitalist (as Ames calls him), Christopher Chandler, who invested millions in distressed Russian debt and failing companies, which he subsequently turned into billions. In other words, he is the western equivalent of Khodorkovsky. That makes for a perfect fit for Weiss.

His relationship with oligarchs offers mutual benefit to both: Weiss gains financing, media access and social approval; while the billionaires exploit his dashing exploits in combat zones and intellectual panache to advance their own political and financial interests.

In the Middle Ages, European rulers had court Jews who financed their wars and building projects. But these modern oligarchs don’t need money. They need popularizers who can package and transform political jihad into a simple, appealing mantra. Weiss performs this role admirably.


Weiss and the Anti-Putin Rumor Mill

Applebaum’s husband, Radek Sikorski, is a former Polish foreign minister who invented a conversation between Vladimir Putin and Polish President Donald Tusk, in which the former suggested that both countries carve up Ukraine.

Weiss dutifully featured this as a prominent scoop on Twitter.

Till Sikorski tried to walk the entire story back, later even apologizing for his “memory failing him:”

Sikorski was confronted at a press conference by Polish journalists, demanding clarifications regarding his remarks. However, the ex-foreign minister was vague about whether or not he made the remarks published by Politico. Before long Sikorski admitted that he never personally heard of Putin offering to divide Ukraine, then refused to go into more details or answer additional questions from the media.


Weiss’ Take-No-Prisoners Approach to Adversaries

Weiss is not above sabotaging the careers of his adversaries. Beware if you cross him in one of his spheres of interest. John Rosenthal is a Europe-based author, who wrote a book about the influence of Al Qaeda in Libya after Qaddafi’s fall. Until 2012, he wrote regularly for The National Review (NR). His last piece was a report largely translated from Germany’s leading daily newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which claimed that a massacre in a village called Houla had not been perpetrated by the Assad regime as had been reported previously. Rather, Sunni rebels had orchestrated the attack and the victims were largely Shia and Alawite.

Since the massacre, as first reported, had generated enormous outrage against the Assad regime (a Weiss bete noire), he and a group of like-minded anti-jihadi analysts took up the cause against Rosenthal. Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi and Philip Smyth wrote a scathing rebutta l of Rosenthal’s piece for NR.

Smyth, who is an adjunct fellow at Aipac’s think-tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Peace, is quoted liberally and approvingly in many Weiss articles in Politico, the Daily Beast and Foreign Policy (among others). Tamimi however, seems to have later fallen afoul of Weiss when the former attacked him in a 2014 story he published at his website. Weiss and allies like Armin Rosen at Business Insider, went on the counter-attack and accused Tamimi of being overly chummy with his ISIS sources. They clearly sought to derail his career (Rosen opined that it had “come apart” and predicted its imminent demise in his article).

The Weiss-Rosen attacks don’t seem to have had their desired impact, as Tamimi continues to be cited and published in the mainstream media. Someone Rosen quotes as criticizing Tamimi, Daveed Gartenstein Ross, even later co-authored an article with him at Foreign Affairs.

Returning to Rosenthal: after the Tamimi-Smyth attack piece was published, Weiss joined in. He even boasted on Twitter that NR had “barred” Rosenthal from the pages of the publication.

Rosenthal attempted repeatedly and unsuccessfully to ascertain his status at the publication. His pitches began to be rejected until editors stopped responding at all.

Rosenthal believes that Weiss intervened with NR editors and advocated that they stop publishing his work. Even if he did not, Rosenthal believes that Weiss was told directly by NR staff that Rosenthal would be barred. Weiss’ efforts to sabotage Rosenthal’s publishing career seem to have faltered. The latter now publishes regularly at Al Monitor, the Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal Europe, and elsewhere.

Weiss and his crony circle played a similar role in attempting to suppress publication of this profile. It was originally commissioned for publication by Alternet. But a member of Weiss’ circle contacted former Alternet staff, who relayed a message to the publisher that it would be a mistake to publish the piece. The publisher killed it.

One Middle East analyst familiar with Weiss’ work called him a “hack,” Weiss is clearly a journalist-pugilist with a long memory who nurtures grudges.


Weiss Joins Daily Beast and Recruits Muslim “Reformers” as Contributors

The Daily Beast’s (DB) editor, John Avlon, hired Weiss as senior editor, in June 2015. Avlon is a former columnist for the neocon New York Sun and former chief speechwriter for Rudy Giuliani. In his new role, Weiss has recruited some of his pals to contribute to DB. They include Maajid Nawaz, a former Liberal Democratic MP candidate who made a reputation as a Muslim reformer till he was videotaped getting a lap dance at a UK sex club. He called his escapade “sex-positive feminism.” He fancies himself a “former Muslim radical” who’s seen the error of his ways. Now he wants to tell the non-Muslim world how to attack Islamism and defeat it.

He founded the “counter-extremism” NGO, the Quilliam Foundation with a $1-million grant from the right-wing Christian, Templeton Foundation. The British government awarded nearly $4-million to Quilliam for the intellectual component of its “war on terror” amid the country’s Muslim community.

After abandoning his first Muslim wife, Nawaz remarried the American artist and writer, Rachel Maggart. He’d been introduced to her by another former Muslim turned neocon, Ayan Hirsi Ali. Before the wedding he posted this incredibly prurient and juvenile tweet featuring a his wife in a model-like sexy pose: “”Don’t ya wish your wifey. was. hot. like. mine? …. Don’t ya? … Don’t ya?”

In the past few years, Nawaz has made an “American pivot,” where the money seems to be good: he’s received grants from the right-wing Bradley Foundation and nearly $1-million from Gen Next, a philanthropic network affiliated with the Koch brothers. Here in American, Weiss has now become one of his greatest boosters and offered him a perch at Daily Beast (DB)


Weiss, the Daily Beast and the Road to Evin

Another puzzling, problematic author Weiss brought to the magazine was “Alex Shirazi” (a pseudonym). Until he published his first piece in July 2015 (a month after Weiss took on his new editorial role) under a joint byline with Weiss, there is no online record that “Shirazi” ever existed. When queried by Huffington Post, DB conceded that the name was a pseudonym and added this to the author bio accompanying the piece with this explanation.


UPDATE 12/14/15: Alex Shirazi is a pseudonym for a well-known Iranian dissident who requested that The Daily Beast keep his identity concealed for fear of what might happen to his family in Iran in retaliation for this article. We regret not noting this earlier.

The editor of a national newspaper based in New York offered me an appraisal of this practice after hearing about this case: “there is no journalistic justification, on first glance, for a pseudonym. It appears to break faith with readers and public accountability vis a vis the writer.”

In preparation for his second DB article, “Shirazi” first approached Iranian-American oil executive Siamak Namazi, while the latter was visiting Iran in June 2015. At that time, the “journalist” did not reveal his real identity to his subject. He e-mailed a list of questions he wished Namazi to answer about the supposed financial benefits the Iranian regime offered his family.

The nature of the questions alarmed Namazi and members of his family Shirazi also contacted. As a result, they contacted Shirazi’s editor, Weiss, requesting that he review the questions himself, suggesting that they were unfair and even libelous. Weiss declined to intervene, so Namazi escalated his concerns to managing editor, John Avlon. He warned the Daily Beast executive that such an article was likely to harm both him and his family. All this was to no avail.

Siamak Namazi pictured with his father, Baquer.  Both are now imprisoned in Iran. Credit: Reuters.

Siamak Namazi pictured with his father, Baquer. Both are now imprisoned in Iran. Credit: Reuters.

Within a week of receiving Shirazi’s inquiry, Namazi was stopped at the airport by Iranian security officials and refused permission to leave the country. Several months later, in September, DB published Shirazi’s profile, and within a month Namazi was in the notorious Evin Prison. This raises the strong probability that Iranian hardliners were monitoring either Shirazi or Namazi’s e-mail accounts, and that the questions and implicit accusations raised in the messages were exploited by Iranian intelligence officers to implicate Namazi.

Who is Siamak Namazi? His good friend, Reza Marashi, wrote this appreciation of him in Huffington Post:

He helped run a world-renowned consulting firm – staffed predominantly with Iranian-born citizens – that facilitated badly-needed foreign investment from blue-chip multinational corporations.

Neither money nor power was ever a driving force behind Siamak’s work. It was the indigenous development of his motherland that motivated him. Siamak wanted Iran to live up to its vast potential, and he was at the forefront of teaching international best practices and standards in business and management to scores of young Iranians. The pride on his face was always evident when his employees would move on to successful careers across a variety of fields in Iran.

…As U.S. sanctions were causing medical supply shortages in Iran, he independently researched and published what became the authoritative literature on the subject. I was in the audience when he presented his findings in Washington DC. As Siamak began to describe the disastrous impact of sanctions on innocent Iranians, he choked up, paused for a moment, composed himself, and then proceeded to finish his presentation. That’s how much he loves the country that is currently keeping him in prison.

It might surprise Siamak’s captors to know that he actively discouraged me from getting involved in politics. After sparring over the pros and cons of such a career, I matter-of-factly told him that I truly believe in making the world a better place. He leaned back in his chair, smirked, and told me: There are plenty of ways to make the world a better place without making yourself a target in Washington and Tehran. Hardly the advice of a man who was “collaborating with enemy states” and “heading a political, economic, and cultural mafia gang.”

Siamak Namazi pictured with his father, Baquer.  Both are now imprisoned in Iran. Credit: Reuters.

Siamak Namazi pictured with his father, Baquer. Both are now imprisoned in Iran. Credit: Reuters.

It’s ironic that DB claims it agreed to use a pseudonym for “Shirazi” in order to protect his family in Iran considering that Weiss’ smear of Namazi landed both the latter and his 80 year-old father behind bars.

Rather than protecting family members from harm, the use of a pseudonym had the effect of shielding the author from proper scrutiny as to his motives, his associations, and any conflicts of interest he might have.

The Namazi family and its supporters have established a website, Free Siamak and Baquer Namazi, which offers updates on their case and the campaign to free them.

That second DB article was entitled, The Shady Family Behind America’s Iran Lobby. Published in September 2015, it was a lurid “expose” filled with innuendo and unsupported allegations regarding the cozy commercial relationships an Iranian family enjoyed with the clerical regime. The article placed special emphasis on Siamak, the son of the patriarch of the family, Baquer Namazi.

To reinforce the ominousness of the charges against Namazi, the graphic art accompanying the DB article consisted of a series of shady-looking Arab militants sporting beards, long hair, a turban and sunglasses. The image is a cross between an Arab playboy and an ISIS fighter. No one in Iran dresses this way. The graphic is little more than an Iranophobic pastiche. Clearly, rather than an expose or serious profile, this was meant as a hit-piece.


The Ongoing Neocon Attack on NIAC

The main contention implicit in the headline was itself wrong on several counts. Neither Siamak nor his family are “behind” the so-called “Iran Lobby.” Nor is the Iranian-American NGO attacked in the article, the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC) “America’s Iran Lobby.”

A common smear tactic of DC Beltway neoconservatives and the Iranian cult group, Mujahadeen e Khalq (MEK) has been to label NIAC a stooge of the Iranian regime. In reality, NIAC is a completely independent, nonpartisan organization.

Ironically, Aipac, a group heartily supported by those like Eli Lake, Kenneth Timmerman and Weiss who’ve attacked NIAC, is far more of a slavish booster of the Israeli regime than NIAC is of the Iranian regime.

Further, “Shirazi” recycled another claim first advanced by Eli Lake in a 2009 article in the Washington Times, in which he falsely claimed Namazi played a key role in founding NIAC. Namazi soundly rejected this claim in a letter to the editor he wrote at the time. He was never affiliated in any way with NIAC other than paying a single annual membership fee in 2005. All it would’ve taken for “Shirazi” to ascertain this fact was a phone call to NIAC, which he never made.


Nikahang Kowsar=”Alex Shirazi”

Iranian cartoonist, Nikahang Kowsar

Iranian cartoonist, Nikahang Kowsar

Among Iranian-Americans, there has been a great deal of speculation about “Shirazi’s” real identity. A number of them have noted that shortly before his DB article was published a very similar post appeared in a Farsi-language blog written by a former Iranian journalist and activist, Nikahang Kowsar.

Kowsar began his career in the heyday of the liberal reforms of the Khatami era in the early 2000s. He became a journalist and one of Iran’s most well-known political cartoonists. His most famous cartoon pictured a hardline cleric as a crocodile strangling a journalist with his tail, which led to his arrest and imprisonment. On his release, he went into exile and fled to Canada. He was tried in absentia and given a four month jail sentence. He now lives in Washington DC.

Kowsar cartoon

Kowsar cartoon

In 2009, he founded a blog called Khodnevis (Farsi for “pen”). The source of funding for this project isn’t known for certain. But Iranian-Americans have speculated that they may come from both the U.S. and Canadian governments. Though Kowsar began his career as a reformer, his new website quickly became a home for ardent opponents of the Iranian regime. It supported western economic sanctions against Iran. Even those advocating violent regime change have found a home there.

Kowsar has also become a critic of his former reformist allies in Iran. He called for boycotting the recent Iranian elections and attacked the reformers for offering election slates. He has also attacked the Iranian nuclear deal and those Iranian-Americans (NIAC among them) who advocated it.

In 2010, Kowsar published a tape recording he made secretly of a conversation between him and the son of Hashemi Rafsanjani. The father began his career as an ally of Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, and later become a chief leader of the reformers. The attacks which the son levelled against Ayatollah Khamenei in the tape landed him in jail for a 15 year prison sentence.

Iranians I spoke with believe Kowsar hates the Iranian regime so much, he hopes the hardliners will come to power. Then, it will be that much easier to promote a western attack on Iran that would topple the regime. So in a terribly perverse way, his interests coincide with those of the hardliners.

In the course of interviewing Iranian sources for this profile, one told me that the author “Shirazi” approached him with questions about the Namazi family. In the course of the e mails that went back and forth, “Shirazi” slipped up and forgot to use his fake e mail address. Instead, he used his real email address and name: Nikahang Kowsar.

As with so many of Michael Weiss’ projects, he thrives on ominous conspiracies involving authoritarian regimes supposedly inimical to those western values he holds so dear. The very idea of peace and harmony between one such regime, Iran, and the U.S. causes Weiss to gnash his teeth in despair.


Unlikely Alliance Between U.S. Neocons and Iranian Hardliners to Sabotage U.S.-Iran Relations

The most profound irony of the entire episode is that a group of neocon polemicists, in an attempt to defame NIAC, have used the Namazi family as a sacrificial goat. The parallel force on the Iranian side, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and other hardliners, have exploited this struggle for their own purposes.

These Iranian forces are threatened both by the P5+1 nuclear deal and the recent victory of Pres. Rouhani and the moderate coalition which trounced the conservatives in recent elections for the Majlis. As a result, the hardliners worry that their power and influence may be waning. When a beast is wounded it seeks to lash out in order to avenge those who attacked it.

It’s also ironic that both Kowsar and the Iranian hardliners detest NIAC, and for similar reasons. They each detest the nuclear agreement as they detest any rapprochement in relations between Iran and the west. Inside Iran, the extremists even call NIAC and figures like Siamak “infiltrators.” As if they seek to inveigle themselves into Iranian society and infect with a western poison.

Hardliners must plant fear and suspicions in the minds of the public that the ways of the reformers are dangerous. One way to do this is to pick a symbol of reform and mercilessly attack it. That is how Siamak Namazi was ensnared. Before his arrest he worked for the Dubai-based, Crescent Petroleum. Undoubtedly, one of his jobs was to set up deals with the Iranian oil industry, which had recently become free to sell oil to foreign companies. Thousands of businesspeople from scores of nations have stampeded to Iran to make similar deals.

But the Iranian hardliners benefited enormously from the decades of sanctions. They replaced all those corporations which abandoned Iran and cornered the market on formerly imported goods. With the resumption of free trade, these monopolies are under threat.

What better way to fight back against the new economic order than by showing that the foreigners are shady characters seeking to undermine the Islamic Revolution? That is why they trapped Namazi in their net.

Iran’s leader himself said, according to Reuters:

“Iran’s economy had not yet benefited from the Western delegations visiting Iran after the lifting of sanctions as they had failed to deliver on their promises. He added he saw some of the visits as suspicious as the West was trying to send ‘infiltrators’ in disguise.”

Photo from Fars News showing Baquer Namazi, then governor of Shiraz province, kissing the Shah's hand

Photo from Fars News showing Baquer Namazi, then governor of Shiraz province, kissing the Shah’s hand

Add to this, ominous photos which hardliners published after Namazi’s arrest. They pictured his father, who was a provincial governor of Shiraz under the Shah, kissing the Shah’s hand. Speaking of Shiraz, it’s no accident that the pseudonymous Daily Beast author chose “Shiraz” for his last name. This is the city and province from which the Namazi family hails.

Haleh Esfandiari, the founder of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center, knows Siamak personally and offered her own analysis of the underlying reasons for his arrest:

…Remarks by authorities and members of Iran’s parliament suggest that the Intelligence Ministry wishes to implicate Siamak Namazi in a supposed U.S. plot to infiltrate and undermine the Islamic Republic by promoting business exchanges between Iran and the U.S. Iranian authorities have not produced a shred of evidence to support this fantastical idea. Nor has a coerced confession yet surfaced.

…Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, and its enablers in the judiciary, have been desperate to prove that the U.S. is scheming against the Islamic Republic through various means, including cultural and business penetration. A recent warning by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, about supposed U.S. tactics appears to have prompted intelligence officials to redouble their efforts. The end result is that innocent men and women are treated cruelly to satisfy security authorities’ whims; if a young man cannot be coerced into a false confession, then his father must be used as leverage.

Anyone who knows the Namazis would dismiss out of hand claims that they were working to undermine the Islamic Republic. Both men who have been arrested are Iranian patriots. Siamak Namazi was not a political activist. He is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader who believed in building bridges and engagement between Iran and the West, including the United States.

Esfandiari also offers a profile of the decades-worth of extraordinary humanitarian work performed by Baquer Namazi, Siamak’s 80 year-old father. He led a completely apolitical life after the Revolution. He went into exile and became a senior official for UNICEF. The agency, in fact, has released a statement in his support and asking for his immediate release:

In its appeal, UNICEF noted his commitment to children and his “spiritual courage and moral convictions.” As a UNICEF representative, Namazi survived a 1994 shooting in southern Egypt targeting a U.N. convoy that killed five people.

“Mr. Namazi dedicated many years of his career to improving the lives of some of the world’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable children, often working in difficult and even dangerous circumstances,” the statement released Thursday said.

The elder Namazi is long retired and poses no threat to anyone. But for members of the clerical regime, afraid of losing power and perks, even an old man offers leverage they may exploit to extract a confession from Siamak.

Perhaps the ultimate irony of this affair is that Michael Weiss and his neocon comrades, in their desperation to sabotage U.S.-Iran relations have made common cause with the most hardline and vicious of Iran’s clerical regime. They make for very strange bedfellows.

One can only hope that leaders on both sides will see reason and negotiate for Siamak’s release. His ongoing imprisonment harms bilateral relations and holds them hostage to the whims of marginal extremists on both sides. As Esfandiari wrote:

…President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif have sought to secure Western goodwill toward their country. Will they take responsibility for the fate of those who placed confidence in their bridge-building with the outside world? Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is the only person who can stop the Intelligence Ministry’s overreach. Will they persuade the supreme leader to intervene on behalf of the Namazis?

In preparing this article, I contacted the National Review, CNN, Kowsar, and Weiss himself for comment on various matters raised here. None responded to my inquiries.


[1] In the interest of full disclosure, I first came to know Michael Weiss in 2007, after he commissioned a week’s worth of blog posts from me in 2007. He asked if I’d be willing to move my blog, Tikun Olam, to the Jewcy site. After I expressed interest and asked for further details, he promised an agreement would be drafted for my review.

Then I waited…and waited. After several months, it became clear that there would be no agreement forthcoming. Needless to say, it was an inauspicious start and end of a publishing relationship.

By the next year Weiss had left Jewcy and moved to Britain. By 2009, Jewcy’s founder and leading funder abandoned the venture. It later became a subsidiary of Tablet Magazine, which is funded by the pro-Israel Likudist Jewish Avi Chai and Kesher Foundations.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iran, Michael Weiss, Neocons 
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  1. Meh, maybe for the entities he helps, there are some he hurts. I always thought Weiss an oily creep anyway, his demise would be a very good thing and besides, Putin has taken care of journalists before, so has Iran. Washington DC and NYC is full of them. It would suit me if Weiss and Kristol and their whole cabal and all their think tanks simply woke up one morning with a bullet to the brain. I’m entitled to my fantasies and dreams. Partially responsible for the death of honest journalism, they’ve reduced the “profession” to being fronts for other interests to the point that you have to do research on every single author of every opinion piece to find out their agendas and relationships. When journalism’s stench lowers itself to the level of political espionage and intrigue it can no longer be trusted. We didn’t have enough corruption in our politics, we had to have the likes of Kristol and Weiss and others poison and compromise our news and for what? So Weiss can get paid. Monetizing the press and breaking trust with the public for their own financial benefit in the interest of their paymasters is beyond evil. To Hell with all of them. May they rot.

    • Replies: @alexander
  2. Greg Bacon says: • Website

    Weiss seems to be the new and improved version of an Israeli hasbara agent, pretending to be cool and hip while advocating for endless ME wars or ‘intervention’ which only help Israel expand its borders, both inner and outer and benefits Wall Street banks, making fortunes off financing this mayhem.

    He’s being groomed to take over for the old style Israeli hasbara agents like Crystal and Krauthammer, who don’t resonate with the younger generation.

    This all goes back to the original sin of the Israeli masterminded 9/11 False Flag and until the REAL perps behind that treachery are outed and brought to justice, the world will not see peace.

    All the proof you’ll ever need to see whose really behind 9/11 is here:

  3. alexander says:
    @Jim Christian

    Timely and well written synopsis.

    Pull back the curtain on this “virtual” army of alleged journalists, terror experts,and think tankers, selectively imbedded throughout our society…like so many raisins in a giant bran muffin, and what do we have ….a belligerent contingency of Neocon frauds all paid to perpetuate criminal war.

    Its astounding that they have not all been reposited to federal prison or Guantanamo Bay by now.

    Astounding,….. given the unconscionable damage they have done to our country and the world…….. this has not happened yet.

  4. Rehmat says:

    It’s interesting to watch Zionist Richard Silverstein pulling the pants of his fellow hardcore anti-Muslim Zionist Michael Weiss. A few years ago, Silverstein banned me for quoting Toronto’s late chief rabbi Wolf Gunther Plaut’s book, “The Man Who Would Be Messiah”, claiming that Frankist Jews committed Holocaust.

    The Daily Beast is as good a liar as Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Siamak Namazi and later his father were arrested, charged and sentenced in a court of law for money laundering with family links with deposed pro-USrael King Reza Shah. Namazi is not a political prisoner.

    Michael Weiss baited Namazi as member of the anti-Islamist Iranian nationalist lobby, the ‘National Iranian American Council (NIAC)’ lead by a non-Muslim Zoroastrian Dr. Trita Parsi. In 2012, Muslim-hating pro-Israel Jewish academic, Daniel Pipes ran a vicious smear campaign to discredit Dr. Parsi and his organization for supporting dialogues instead of a US military attack on Iran.

    I’m sure Silverstein knew how four Mossad-trained American Jewish spies entered Iran via Iraqi Kurdistan. Three of them, Shane Bauer 28 (Sarah’s boyfriend), Josh Fattal 28 and Sarah Shourd 31 were arrested while the fourth Shon Meckfessel escaped arrest because he did not go for ‘hiking’ and stayed at the hotel.

    Each of the three were sentenced by an Iranian court for spying for Mossad and CIA. However, before spending their full sentence, president Ahmadinejad pardoned them and send them back to America.

    • Replies: @Chris Chuba
  5. This piece reinforces my beliefs as stated in a comment on Mr. Unz’s “American Pravda” essay: “Hilaire Belloc’s 1918 classic The Free Press is prescient in an era when six media conglomerates control mass market information dissemination. These conglomerates are in turn controlled by the controllers of finance who have inflated money to an extent that any meaningful media competition is for all practical purposes impossible to mount.”

    The tentacles of the conglomerates have extended into the internet. It staggers the imagination how so much of “independent” web journalism is in fact nothing more than paid propaganda, paid for by an endless network of shadowy “foundations” and think tanks all owned by the same financial cabal that inserts itself into everything and is apparently centered in political Zionism, a now-pathological and largely amoral movement that provides largesse for rank opportunists such as the sleazy subject of this article.

    I have come to believe that the most pressing political priority facing the West is the dismemberment of the dangerous concentration of finance and the control over information it provides. Failure to do so will give ever-greater power to a cabal of megalomaniacs worthy of the worst of satrapies.

    • Thanks: Ace
  6. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    another jewish assassin-by-pen.


  7. So far as primitive neocon propaganda goes Weiss is a dime a dozen, but in terms of (functional) psychopathy I really do think he is close to being one of a kind.

    I have taken the opportunity to write up some of my own observations about Michael Weiss’ misadventures.

  8. Both the article and the comments exhibit the high quality that I’ve come to expect from UR. Bravo!

  9. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    “… it was a lurid “expose” filled with innuendo and unsupported allegations…”

    So, much like the daily drek out of this here “article” ‘s author. Ah, irony!

  10. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Once upon a time, ten All-American boys were happily playing basketball at their neighborhood park. One day two newcomers to the neighborhood asked them if they could join them. “Sure” the boys responded and so the game proceeded with the newcomers rotating in.

    Then one day the original ten boys showed up to play only to find that the two newcomers were on the court before them. When the ten asked to join in, the two said “Let us finish our game first”. And so they did.

    A few days later the same thing occurred but this time, when the two said, “Let us finish our game first”, they added “and we’re playing to a hundred”. By the time the two had played to one hundred, it was dinner time and the original All-American boys had to go home without having gotten to play at all.

    This was repeated the next day and the ten boys got very angry and threatened the two with violence. The two boys ran home and the ten got to play their game.

    The next day, the two boys showed up with their fathers in tow. Their fathers confronted the ten and told them that if they didn’t share the court equally with their two sons, then they would find themselves in a different kind of court where they would be facing charges of assault and discrimination against a minority. “After all”, they argued, “two is less than ten and twoness must be protected from assimilation by ten lest it become just another member of twelveness and in doing so, lose it’s unique identity as two.”

    The boys didn’t understand this argument but did understand the threat of legal action and so they consented to share time on the court equally with the two. And so the two groups alternated days on which they could play.

    All was fine until one day the ten showed up to play only to find the two occupying the court with four other complete strangers. “What’s this?” asked the tens, “Today is our day to use the court”.

    The twos responded, “Yes, but, now there are others and you must share. The fours deserve their chance to play too. After all, you didn’t build this court. Today is the four’s turn. You come back tomorrow. Even if you don’t like this new arrangement, that’s tough because if you don’t consent we’ll bring our fathers back and they will sue you.”

    And so the court was shared between the three groups.

    Until one day when the ten were to play and showed up only to find the twos there with a new group of six strangers. The twos presented the same arguments and the four groups were accommodated just as the three had been.

    But as time had passed, the ten couldn’t help but notice that the courts had begun to suffer. First, the nets were gone from the goals, leaving just the bare hoops. The area around the court which had at first been green grass, pleasant to sit on between games, became littered with cast off paper and wrappings. This distressed the ten who began leaving signs asking the others not to litter and such. The signs too were defaced.

    Eventually the rims themselves were bent down so that they no longer conformed to standard basketball convention. The court was littered not just with paper, but with broken glass from liquor bottles which made it dangerous to play on. One day the ten arrived to find the burned out hulk of a car sitting square in the middle of the court. When they pushed it to one side, they found that the pavement underneath had melted and broken up, making the court in that area undribbleable.

    The ten were dismayed to see the destruction of what had been there nice neighborhood play area. They called a meeting with all the other groups but no one else bothered to attend. So, giving up on the others, the ten with their parents spent one of their play days replacing the hoops, nets and picking up the litter. Barrels were provided for trash.

    The next week, when the ten arrived to play, they were dismayed to find that the court was a mess again. The barrel, still smoking, had been used as a burn barrel. Broken glass lay on the ground and the nets were hanging in tatters. They left dejected.

    When the ten told their parents what had occurred, their parents said, “No problem, we’ll just build a new court elsewhere, where you can play as you did in the old days”. Which they did.

    One of the parents had space in the alley behind his garage which would be perfect for a court. A backboard and hoop were erected, debris swept away and the ten boys resumed playing happily.

    Then one day, two strange boys approached them and asked if they could join in……

    • Replies: @The Sprawl
  11. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    It is funny that a wannabe journalist who send a man to US jail will blame a journalist for the same thing.

    Shamai Leibowitz spent 20 months in prison b/c of Silverstein who admits he was warn that might be the outcome (

    My guess Silverstein is trying to clean his conscience by blaming journalists for same actions he did himself.


    • Replies: @Anonymous
  12. [Choose a single handle and stick with it or use Anonymous/Anon. Otherwise, prepare to see your comments summarily trashed. A handle allows others who consider your opinions worthless to place you on “ignore.”]

    {Iranian cult group, Mujahadeen e Khalq (MEK) has been to label NIAC a stooge of the Iranian regime. In reality, NIAC is a completely independent, nonpartisan organization.}

    This is a lie by Mossad an asset.

    MEK is a terrorists organization which is trained and supported by both Mossad and CIA, including the criminal and baby killer Killary Killinton.
    NIAC runs by a CIA agent by the name of Trita Parsi, a Zionist stooge who is working closely with State Department, including corrupt Clinton family, George soros and Soros funded Zionist lobby – J street. Trita Parsi, the CIA agent, close to fifth column Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran foreign minister, are behind “Iran deal” which is hated in Iran and supported by the war criminals and their stooges Obama and criminal Killary. Trita Parsi, a Zoroastrian, is close to Zionist lobby J street, and Parsi has given, at least, $10000 dollars to J street to help these Zionist criminals pose as ‘liberals’. Of course, this money is coming from thousands of dollars that Parsi has received from NED (CIA) and George Soros, the Zionist Jew criminal in business of regime change.

    Siamak Nemazi and his father are traitor and should be shot. The NIAC with NO doubt is a CIA front. Iran’s foreign minister is a pawn of the ‘world government’ and close with criminal George Soros and his stooges the Clinton family.

  13. @Rehmat

    There are things that I admire about Iran but their judicial system is not one of them.

    • Replies: @Rehmat
  14. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Translation of above site.

    Where is Unz getting these guys from? Silverstein is just as bad as Weiss.

  15. KA says:

    Michael Weiss – has he expressed simple solidarity or more – Thats what the administrator and the history experts are trying to ascertain . Did he offer loyalty to the neoconservatism of Jackdon Scooper and Krstol or did he accecpt a less radical but equally regressive and violent version of the Israeli interpretation of American exceptionslsm promoted by Clinton Power Rice and the Democratic platform ?
    It is not yet clear if he met them in person . Also the authorities are trying to ascertain if any link exists between him and the 51 State Department officials who have asked for more vigorous mayhem in Syria . Ideologically he seems to side with 50 Republocan strongmen who champion a break from nativism of Trump It will be very difficult for the expert but of utmost importance for the law enforment agencies to figure out if he represented a new brand of young aspiring interventionists who find path to a succeessful career in a more legal and productive profession to be arduous ,intellectually challenging ,intrinsically anti Israeli and isolationist. They shirk real work ,hate labor intrnsive jobs. and pity the commonfolks who have to earn livelihood in more mundane ways . In a fair world ,they would be sweeping the street corners to keep the children safe while going to s hool.
    These new young liberalists use different language and use different means,and depend more on the inpression of being deeply engaged ,concerned and being hugely cerebral .
    They have found a ready made spot uniquely suited for the materialize tion of their new brand of abstract universalism with concrete pro Israeli effects in both Republican and Democrtaic platforms.

    These types of Ivy League graduate carry with them an intrinsic interconnected dispersed and highly effective force -multiplying , ideas- enforcing radicalism . In local Arab vernacular
    ,this is known as Jihadism. They are groomed from an early age . They go through the interconnected system like a product that comes down on a conveyer belt

    Authorities are scrambling to hunt down some of these lone wolves . Government of future says it is very difficult to establish who came out of a programmed land -standing incestous relationship and established lineage and who self radicalized themselves . For the rest of the world,it doesn’t matter . They remain a source of tremendous security risk ,nightmare,and instability .

  16. Marcus says:

    UK academic, Markus Attila Hoare, was one of the co-founders and served as HJS’ Balkan specialist.

    I remember this loathsome supporter of the anti-Serbian campaigns, funny how all the warmongers can’t help but flock together.

  17. to Richard Silverstein:

    didn’t read the entire article — you waded in way beyond your depth.

    BUT: Please provide evidence to substantiate use of “torture chamber” to describe Evian, and please how your use of sleazy language like “notorious Evian . . .” is any less yellow journalism than that of the journalist you are criticizing.

    It may be true that Evian is a “torture chamber,” but neither your reporting, much less that of Weiss, proves it to be so.

    That being the case, your choice of that descriptor coupled with the mynah-bird use of “notorious Evian,” for one example, reduces your overall credibility such that very little of your reporting is believable or useful.

    Jewish writers (actually, propagandists) have incited wars that killed many millions of innocent people; consider the work of the otherwise ne’er do well son of Rabbi Stephen Wise, who published this demonic bit of atrocity propaganda about the Third Reich during the period when, according to Richard Breitman, the Third Reich was protecting Jews from violence in Germany —

    Swastika: The Nazi Terror, by James Waterman Wise 1933

    We’re tired of this shit, Richard; sick and tired of Jewish people lying to the American people to incite in them hatred of a people that Jews want to destroy. This time it’s Iranians, 83 years ago it was Germans.

    Stop it.

    • Replies: @iffen
    , @Anonymous
  18. iffen says:

    didn’t read the entire article — you waded in way beyond your depth.

    You don’t stray far from yours, do you?

    • Replies: @SolontoCroesus
  19. alexander says:

    You are absolutely right, KA ,they are “jihadists” . perhaps the “true ” jihadists among us, and they want WAR.

    The other issue, stressed so often,( from these Neocon factotums ) is the issue of “Security”.

    “Security”, “Security”, “Security”…is a mantra that rears it head all too often, especially from dear King Bibi.

    Yet doesn’t the very issue of security go right to heart of Neocon mendacity, considering Israel has NO “peace plan” ?

    No “peace plan” whatsoever.

    I mean what could possibly bring MORE Security to Israel, then making PEACE with its neighbors ?

    Being AT PEACE, is the GREATEST “security “there is !

    Wouldn’t you agree ?

    When you broach the Neocons with this simple obvious logic….they all “short circuit”,…. every single time.

    • Replies: @KA
    , @Kathryn
  20. @iffen

    In fact, iffen, I stopped reading when Silverstein started to (mis)characterize Trita Parsi. I know Trita, worked with him and the organization he founded, NIAC, for many years. Trita is greatly admired by many in the (east coast) Iranian-American community, some of whom I am privileged to call my friends. (NIAC is preparing for its annual leadership conference in DC area —

    It was also painful to see Haleh Esfandiari’s name dragged into the reporting. Dr. Esfandiari is a gracious lady who is, in my (humble and perhaps sole) opinion ill-used by the neocon managers at the Wilson Center.

    Iranian professionals and intellectuals in the USA are frequently put in untenable positions; moreover, as Machiavelli warned, expats are seldom reliable sources for information and advice on their country of origin: they may be resentful of the now-ruling powers in their former home because they have lost power, status, etc., or they may have the opposite motives for trying to involve (i.e. the USA) in their cause. Either way, it’s best to regard their counsel with extreme care.

    Jewish opinions and advice on Iran should be thoroughly discounted as agenda-laden and self-serving. period full stop

    Over the years I’ve participated on Silverstein’s blog and admired some of his journalism and projects, particularly a conference he held in Seattle in 2009 (iirc), that included as panelists the guy from AIPAC who said that as a member of AIPAC he helped write the 1995 sanctions against Iran. I think his name is Franklin or something — one of the two AIPAC operatives who managed to evade criminal prosecution.

    • Replies: @RobinG
    , @iffen
    , @RobinG
  21. I hope Trump invalidates this asshole’s passport for illegally meddling in American foreign policy. Where do these douchebags come from. Oh, yeah. The Ivy League and Manhattan. Of course. perhaps we should arrange for him to be delivered up to the tender mercies of the Syrian secret police, there to learn all the fine points of being buggered with a lead pipe.

  22. Hepp says:

    Weiss is a particularly odious figure. Saw him on TV once denouncing Hungary for giving ISIS what they want, which is a clash of civilizations. Which is why I suppose Hungary has so many terrorist attacks today.

  23. Priss Factor [AKA "Anonymny"] says: • Website

    Hipster imperialism. Great!

  24. RobinG says:

    Gee, your Iranian-American friends are different from mine, the members of the community who consider Parsi a bought-and-sold client. At last year’s Israel Lobby conference, a polite and collegial affair, the NIAC spokesperson was, imo, decidedly rude to another speaker on his panel. They are very careful to preserve their funding.

    I just started reading this article; now I’ll be sure to finish.

  25. iffen says:

    he helped write the 1995 sanctions against Iran

    Lobbyists write legislation!

    Scoops like this one allow people to get a feel for what they are up against when considering the opinions of 88s.

    • Replies: @SolontoCroesus
  26. @KA

    Does a man such as Weiss make enemies of influence that might “take care” of him? Surely these guys cross the wrong people from time to time..

    • Replies: @KA
  27. Rehmat says:
    @Chris Chuba

    If you ever study some object source – you will find that Iranian judicial system is far more moral than any western nation and Israel. For example, Iranian courts usually hang Wall Street crooks instead of rewarding them for cheating public which is very very very common in most Western judicial systems.

    In 2012, Mahafrid Amir Khosravi, a banker who along with his four brothers was accused of a bank scam involving $2.6 billion in 2011 was hanged. According to the prosecutor, in space of two years, Amir Mansour Aria Development Co. bought 40 companies including a major steel mill, with forged letters of credit obtained from several banks whose managers they had bribed.

    Now compare that theft with the American Jewish banker who stole $50 billions which he deposited in Israeli banks and is currently living in jail being fed by US taxpayers.

  28. alexander says:

    I think for anyone who has bared witness to the major (and minor) political events that have shaped our History over the last sixteen years, you can safely say the Neocons have won the game they chose to play.

    If their goal was to deceive the US into committing the supreme international crime of “war of aggression”, they were successful.

    If their goal was to wholly reject PEACE, and specifically, Israels required mandates to return the land it has stolen and continues to steal from Palestine (beyond the green line) as well as the Golan Heights ,to Syria….it has been highly successful.

    If their goal was to neuter our governments ability to force Israel to comply with international law, by goading US into committing heinous breaches of international law of equal weight, it has been highly successful.

    If their goal was to neutralize the potential hurting power (towards Israel) of nearly all the nations that comprise the pro -Palestinian “Shia Crescent” …..(.as Israel continued it unrelenting extermination of the state of Palestine)….by manipulating OUR country into “obliterating” them… has been highly successful.

    If their goal was to supplant the US Constitution with bogus new laws designed to make wars of belligerence okay….they have been highly successful.

    If their goal was to extract from the US taxpayer an additional 15 TRILLION DOLLARS from our national treasure and send our country into a breathtaking 21 TRILLION national debt,…. they have been highly successful.

    If their goal was to use the obscene profits from this extraction to BUY OUT our entire election process……and , first and foremost, ensure there would be zero accountability for the innumerable crimes they have committed (and coerced US into committing)…they have been highly successful.

    Nearly any way you slice it, the last 16 years have marked an unquestioned success for the entire Neocon enterprise.

    A truly Banner Neocon Success.

    • Agree: Ace
  29. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    about Nikahang, he was paying his reporters and writers at khodnevis only in Cash. back to summer 2014, in one case i was witness where he brought USD 15k cash to Canada, asked one of his editors, Sam, to send it to his reporters around the world

  30. @iffen

    In USA agents for foreign governments are required to register.

    Agents for Israel ignore this law.

    Furthermore, legislation in US Congress is expected to respect and promote the interests of the American people. The Iran-Libya Sanctions executive order, then law, harmed US interests: Conoco had a very favorable contract to develop oil fields in Iran; the order/legislation that the unregistered agent for a foreign government, Israel, pushed forward in 1995-96 forced Conoco to walk away from that contract and its revenues. (A Chinese company did the work.)

    The combination — agents for Israel ignoring US requirement to register; agents for Israel pushing legislation that favors Israel but is contrary to US interests — induces many Americans to look upon some Jews as “dual loyalists.”

    Whereupon said Americans are called “antisemites.”

    Which redefines “antisemite” to mean not “a person with animus toward semites,” because lots of people are Semitic, not just Jews, but actually to mean “pro-American,” because they act in the interests of the American people.

    now your turn, iffen; do-se-do.
    but please, no fourth-grade playground epithets; they’re too pathetic.

    meanwhile, back at the courthouse: Israel Loses Secretive Oil Pipeline Case To Iran, Ordered To Pay $1.1 Billion Plus Interest

    • Replies: @iffen
    , @No Second Israel
  31. iffen says:

    — induces many Americans to look upon some Jews as “dual loyalists.”

    Whereupon said Americans are called “antisemites.”

    I think dual loyalty is a serious question and deserves to be fully and openly discussed and I am not an anti-Semite.

    What happen to Jew?

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  32. So we’re supposed to be concerned about the fate of treasonous liars intent on fomenting a war against His country?

  33. KA says:
    @Jim Christian

    ““Rule or ruin” has always been the operative strategic principle of the neoconservatives. If you go back into their history, their long rightward hegira didn’t begin in the Democratic party, but on the far left fringes of American politics – in the Trotskyist movement. (I wrote about this at length in my book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.)

    Their strategic vision has always been organized around the tactic of “entryism” – an old Trotskyist trick, in which they enter a larger body, infiltrate the leadership, and then either seize the reins of power or else destroy their unwilling host.”

    Only alternative is banning them all from each and every realm of the society.

    • Replies: @iffen
  34. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    What a reprehensible character. Reminds me of France’s Bernard-Henri Levy, the flamboyant pseudo-philosopher-interventionist-war-tourist. They even have the same hairstyle.

  35. @SolontoCroesus

    {meanwhile, back at the courthouse: Israel Loses Secretive Oil Pipeline Case To Iran, Ordered To Pay $1.1 Billion Plus Interest}

    The $1.1 Billion is the money that Shah, the US puppet, paid to Israel before the revolution to receive military equipment, but the criminal Zionist jews kept this money and never sent the military equipment where Iran purchased. They steal anything you can imagined. They are totally corrupt and thieves.

  36. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Michael Weiss would be my nominee for an Alfred Rosenberg indictment on the theory that propagandizing for a war of aggression is a war crime in itself. That Weiss isn’t on the ground with a gun in his hand evidences his essential cowardice.

  37. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    RE: “Add to this, ominous photos which hardliners published after Namazi’s arrest. They pictured his father, who was a provincial governor of Shiraz under the Shah, kissing the Shah’s hand.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: My goodness, the Shah really knew how to a strike a pose! Nijinsky could hardly have done better. I suppose that comes from having spent so much time on the gilded Peacock Throne, and from having been convinced that Persians were the real Aryans.

  38. iffen says:

    the tactic of “entryism” – an old Trotskyist trick, in which they enter a larger body, infiltrate the leadership, and then either seize the reins of power or else destroy their unwilling host.”

    Since they have been so successful, why doesn’t other groups copy this tactic?

  39. Priss Factor [AKA "Anonymny"] says: • Website

    “I think dual loyalty is a serious question and deserves to be fully and openly discussed and I am not an anti-Semite.”

    The problem is this.

    I don’t see any problem in Jews being for Jewish identity, interests, and unity. If anything, I admire Jews who keep the identity, heritage, and culture. I disdain Jews who don’t care about any of that and end up like Amy Winehouse. Disgusting.

    I’m for all ethnic groups in America preserving their identity, heritage, and tradition… even as they share in the Common Things that unite All Americans. So, Polish-Americans should keep their language and culture, Italian-Americans should keep their language and culture, Mexican-Americans should keep their language and culture, and etc. But they should all know English and know about the core narrative of US history going back to 1776. They would have their own identity but also share in the Common Narrative of America going back to its founding by the Anglos.

    So, if Jews are into Jewish identity, Jewish interests, and etc., that’s all very good. Just like it would be for Irish-Americans and Chinese-Americans and Indian-Americans and German-Americans and Lithuanian-Americans. I mean if you met a Lithuanian-American who knows his language of origin, history, and culture(as well as American history and English), you’d likely be more impressed than with a Lithuanian-American who knows NOTHING of his ancient homeland and culture and ONLY knows hollywood, pop culture, and tattoos on his arse.

    So, why do we have this problem with Jews? Unlike most groups, Jews aren’t content to just keep their identity and mind their own interests among themselves. They must force all of us who are not Jews into serving Jewish identity and interests.

    Take the Greeks. A sneaky corrupt bunch, but Greek-Americans don’t pressure the rest of us to respect, admire, serve, praise, celebrate, and die for Greek identity and interests. Greek identity and interests are a matter among Greeks. It’s an issue within the Greek-American community. There is no Grecopac(like AIPAC) that requires all politicians to sing hosannas to Greece and pledge to do everything to serve Greeks and Greece.
    Even the Irish who played dirty politics and used all sorts of lowlife machinations didn’t try to make All Americans bow down to Irish identity and interests. Sure, there is the St. Patrick’s Day parade where everyone is supposed to be Irish, but it’s all just for fun.

    But Jews have disingenuously ‘universalized’ Jewish identity and interests. Jews demand that we all care about Jewish identity and interests, indeed more than our own. After all, a Polish-American politician, Irish-American politician, Mormon politician, Swedish-American politician, German-American politician, English-American politician, Italian-American politician, and etc are more likely to yammer about how we must do something for ISRAEL than for nations of their ethnic origins.
    Mitt Romney almost never talked of Mormons and Mormon interests in 2012. Mormon identity and interests are supposed to matter to Mormons within the community. But he talked about Jews, Jews, Jews, Israel, Israel, Israel. Jewish identity and interests are supposed to be matter to all who are NOT Jewish. Imagine if Mormons didn’t just act in Mormon interests among themselves but demanded that we non-Mormons also serve Mormon identity and interests, even as the sacrifice of our non-Mormon identity and interests. Imagine if non-Mormons are made to favor Mormon interests over non-Mormon ones.
    In the US, non-Jews must serve Jewish identity and interests EVEN WHEN doing so hurts their own non-Jewish identity and interests.

    Universalizing Jewishness is problematic because Jewishness isn’t like Christianity that at least applies or can apply to anyone who is either Christian or can convert to Christian.
    Jewishness is tribal and only applies to Jews. So, when non-Jews are made to serve and care about Jewish identity and interests, it’s a rigged game, a false perverted kind of ‘universalism’. Everyone is ‘invited’ to join in the ‘universal’ party, but all the goodies go to the Jews.
    It’s not a universality of equality but universality of servitude to Jews. Jewish demand on gentiles doesn’t lead to sense of equality among all groups. Instead, it leads to a sense that all non-Jewish groups must place Jewish identity and interests at the top of the totem pole.

    And now, homos are up to the same shtick with homomania. 98% of people are not fruitkins, but they are all expected to cheer on the homos, join in the parade, sing praises to homos and trannies, push homo agenda, attack people hated by homos, turn churches into homo-worship centers, and etc. But why? If homos wanna do their homo thing and have their homo culture in their own community, okay. But why must most people who are not homo be on their knees in service to homo identity and interests? How does it serve them?

    Most groups in the US are like planets that mind their own business and revolve around the Sun that is supposed to be Common America. But Jews are like a planet that demands that other planets revolve around it than around the sun. Indeed, it’s almost as if the Jewish planet demands even the sun to revolve around it.

    Judeo-Ptolemaism is deeply problematic.

    • Agree: anarchyst
    • Replies: @iffen
  40. iffen says:
    @Priss Factor

    So, why do we have this problem with Jews? Unlike most groups, Jews aren’t content

    Reasonable and sane until you get to this line.

  41. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    In one hundred years, dumbfounded historians, trying to explain the decline of the United States in world affairs, will be looking for reasons why they became involved in Middle Eastern religious conflicts when there was not a trace of security concerns for them. If some find this article, it might help to explain that the reasons were largely ego trips by intellectual frauds. And, for this, American youth die and are permanently maimed for life.

  42. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    As U.S. sanctions were causing medical supply shortages in Iran, he independently researched ,,,, this is an outright lie, debunked by two Iranian Regime Health Ministers, both of whom were fired for exposing the Parsi, NIACouncil and regime lies. The regime black marketed medical supplies in Azerbaijan where the value was 4 times greater than in Iran. Millions of dollars worth of other medical supplies and equipment rotted at Iranian ports because of mismanagement.

    Food and medical supplies were never sanctioned or interfered with by the UN or the US.

    • Replies: @No Second Israel
  43. @Anonymous

    [Pick one handle and stick to it or you’ll see your comments trashed.]

    Shut up liar.

  44. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    But he is a wise and all knowing Joo, so what is the problem?

  45. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Strange kind of article.

    In the end the author manage to turn focus from Weiss to fierce critic of Iran and their rulers, which raise in me lots of suspicion of what was real intent of Silverstein.

    One of the requirements of “modern” liberal/fascist journalism is that journalists must be “balanced” whatever that means. While nowadays, with decline of the empire and with emergence of Trump and Killary, it seems to me that requirements is gone. Maybe it is just “reflex” from the past that R. S. is carrying in self.

    Iran and its rulers has a right, and duty, to defend its sovereignty by all possible means. I am not convinced that Shah’s folks are innocent in absolute terms. The fact that he started to work for UNICEF after the Shah is gone speak for itself who he is/was.

    • Replies: @john baptist
  46. What leads Silverstein to the conclusion Weiss had part in sending Namazi to prison. Namazi was stopped at the airport even before the article was published and clearly was under government supervision.

    Silverstein forgot to mention two details –
    1. He has been interviewing to Iranian PressTV regularly for quite some time always on anti-American and anti-Israeli topics.
    2. He costed Shamai Leibovitz 20 months of his life by mishandling the information he got from him. Leibovitz also claims Silverstein falsified the information when he published and made up an anti-Israeli angle about the embassy.

  47. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The hasbara effect will be strong on this expose.

    But it’s always good to see journalists reviewing each others abilities and affiliations. It aids the reader in discarding questionable practitioners in journalism.

  48. RobinG says:

    Are we in an alternate universe?

    This article never mentions Trita Parsi, much less mischaracterizes him. Also is neutral, definitely not critical, about NIAC. And as for ***Haleh Esfandiari, he quotes her approvingly and at length to bolster his own argument.

    I was going to suggest that you read and wrote so much this weekend that you tumbled everything together, but that’s not right. Seems you barely and inaccurately skimmed this. Silverstein and Weiss are both new to me, and this piece was loaded with curious background. Was it worth the time? Is any of it useful? IDK.

    (***As for the Wilson Center, however, the Ottaways, previously at Carnegie so this may have changed, will never lose an opportunity to take a gratuitous swipe at Iran, even when entirely irrelevant and inappropriate. I assume it’s part of the contract to keep their funding.)

    • Replies: @iffen
  49. iffen says:

    This article never mentions Trita Parsi

    I noticed this right away and I am glad that you commented on it. I thought about baiting him into saying that it was okay to equate the person behind the organization with the organization, but lost interest. I also thought about the impossible task of pointing out all the non-facts that many Holocaust deniers churn out and was skeered away from those windmills.

    Also is neutral, definitely not critical, about NIAC.

    Well, in fairness to SC, the article does smear NIAC as being “a completely independent, nonpartisan organization.”

    Are we in an alternate universe?

    Thought the same thing when I read this in one of your previous comments:

    It’s pretty amusing how iffen and Alexander are sputtering at being caught out.

  50. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Evian is waters, not prison.

  51. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading all of this. I was just trying to explain yesterday to my son how difficult it is to get a truly unbiased account of anything these days. This article and subsequent comments seem to give some credence to my feelings. Are there any unbiased journalists anywhere? I say unbiased and not truthful because I think many often write what they conceive as truth. What is true to you may not be, because we have biases built in to our entire thought process. Some we’re aware of but some I believe to be subconscious. Subconscious or not they still taint our writing. I’m gonna say that many of the people writing on this level aren’t what I’d call crooked but they do get into their own personal rut. Being in that rut doesn’t mean that they are unsuccessful. It simply means that initially they started down a path and at some point they fell into a ditch of a particular line of reasoning within their writing. The ditch becomes a rut once you realize that your stuck in it with no end. I do try to read as many points of view as possible in order to try to form my own opinions towards most topics. But my own bias does cause me to be conflicted at times reading topics I disagree with. It feels like some analysts have forgotten about being on a debate team. You might feel that you’re prepared to argue in favor of a particular topic till your last breathe but you must analyze both sides not only to have an effective counter argument but to be able to stand in and argue both sides with equal determination and facts. My high school English/speech/debate teacher made us flip a coin. We never really knew which side we’d be required to argue. I can say for sure that I changed my opinion once on only one topic. I did learn a valuable lesson though. It was to do your due diligence when researching. Read every perspective point of view and consider each equally before you start to develop your final conclusion. I’m just an old dumb retired soldier. I disagreed with some of the points of the initial article and comments I still found merit in the effort the authors of each side of the argument made. Some of the comments were just dumb period.

    • Replies: @iffen
  52. iffen says:

    Some of the comments were just dumb period.

    Thanks for not naming names.

  53. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The author of this piece should stick to writing Sword & Sorcery. Kinda` like 90% of the commenters apparently do.

  54. Here is what Russia Insider has to write as it republish these piece:

    An interesting article about a profound moron.
    We disagree with the author though, he is neither particularly articulate nor possessed of a slashing wit, or any kind of wit for that matter.
    He is a distinct mediocrity feeding at the Neocon gravy train, nothing else. One couldn’t get an intelligent person to do the kind of hack work Weiss goes in for.

  55. So basically Micheal Weiss is a mere intellectual prostitute with a european immigrant background in north america! Like many other whores or intellectual prostitutes in the thought brothels of europa he is on payrolls of governments!

  56. @Anonymous

    Strange really? I guess you have been reading too much european intellectual prostitutes’ written propaganda that you have lost all senses. Its one of the best article out there targeting these intellectual prostitutes who have caused the deaths of millions of people around the world.

  57. @Anonymous

    What a fantastically vacuous article – considering the criticism this article is getting I expected there to be some actual, substantial malfeasance on the part of Weiss, but no – just 6000 words of empty insinuation. It follows the usual formula of slightly squalid hit-pieces that emanate from the internet’s more mental fringes, in that you can search through the entire thing and find nothing but anecdote and implications.

    To me, if you’re going to write such a long essay on a single person then it’d help if you had any kind of point besides ‘I don’t like this guy, and I’m going to will some kind of evidence of his crimes into existence through sheer, crushing length’. Most people won’t read long enough to notice there’s nothing actually there to justify the whole pointless exercise.

  58. Gerard says:

    This guy is just an anti american piece of shit

  59. Kathryn says:

    I really enjoyed your comment. I often asked myself the question in relation to the problem of Israel, if Israel wants peace and security would that not be secured to fully integrating Palestinians, and those with the right of return, as equal citizens? If not then at least restore the 1948 borders, let all Palestinians return, let Palestinians have their own ports of entry-allow them the right to control water and electricity, help them establish infrastructure, be a partner in reestablishing them as a people. To me this is what any peace loving state would do, not only does Israel do the opposite but the big powers support it in not addressing justice for Palestinians in a just way, forever pointing at Hamas and stone throwers without acknowledging why they exist in the first place. When the powers concerned do the opposite of what is required for peace and security wherever in the world my brain short circuits!

  60. Anonymous [AKA "Recalcitrant"] says:

    Michael Weiss is the kind of Neocon warmonger (who never served in the military, I don’t even have to check to know) and Zionist that the citizens need to scrape off like dog crap on the bottom of a shoe.
    Completely without any morality, absolutely sickening example of a human being.
    Does anyone even listen to his hippocratic drivel which is completely devoid of facts?
    I hope he and Crystall both get hit by a bus, America would be better off because of it.

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