Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wagging the dog, Mexican style

It's been a little over 24 hours since the United States announced it had arrested an Iranian operative who was picked up in Mexico for wanting to try to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US.    If even half of it is true then it suggests that the country below ours could have averted what would be under international law an act of war, depending on how high up the orders went.

Something about this doesn't make sense however.    Why the Saudi ambassador?   Why not go after the US attaché in Tehran?    (The US maintains a suspension of relations with Iran but maintains an "interests sections" under the protection of Switzerland.)

As Jeffrey Toobin wrote today at CNN's website, all of this depends on the reliability of a "confidential source" who was facing a narcotics charge but had it dropped, and also got paid $50 thousand, in exchange for this "information."     Jailhouse informants are rarely reliable at the best of times, especially with child murders.    When it comes to terrorism however it's an even more difficult burden of proof.   Also worth considering is that the suspect was interrogated for twelve days, some of that by the federales in Mexico and where interrogation procedures aren't quite the same as in America.

Frankly, I think this is just a distraction from some other problems.    Yes, Saudi Arabia and Iran have long been rivals for power in the Middle East, but this is just a way to deflect for a day or two from America and Europe's banking problems.    Let the case run its course ... but next time, the authorities had better try another way of wagging the dog.   The stakes, for economic as well as political security, are way too high.

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