Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 08, 2016

NYT Covers Up Complicity In Iran Spy's Execution

Iranian authorities recently executed a scientist for treason after they determined that he was a long-term spy for the United States. The history behind the man is a bit weird. He had, so is said, for some time spied for the U.S. within an Iranian nuclear research center when it was decided to extradite him. He flew to Saudi Arabia from where the CIA brought him to the United States. It paid him a load of money and set him up under a new name in Tuscon, Arizona. The man did not feel well in his new setting. He released a video in which he claimed to have been taken against his will and that he was tortured and pressed by the CIA to spill Iranian secrets. He demanded to be send back to Iran. He arrived there but his story apparently did not hold up. He was eventually sentenced to death and executed.

A weird spy tale and one that certainly still has some secrets. But what is really curious is how one reporter at the New York Times, who once outright claimed that the man worked for the CIA, is now very vague about it. The man is dead. He can no longer be harmed. Why hold back now if not to hide ones complicity in his death?

On July 15 2010 NYT writer David Sanger left no doubt that the man was a long term CIA assets:

U.S. Says Scientist Aided C.I.A. While Still in Iran

The Iranian scientist who American officials say defected to the United States, only to return to Tehran on Thursday, had been an informant for the Central Intelligence Agency inside Iran for several years, providing information about the country’s nuclear program, according to United States officials.
For several years, Mr. Amiri provided what one official described as “significant, original” information about secret aspects of his country’s nuclear program, according to the Americans.

This account by the Americans, some of whom are apparently trying to discredit Mr. Amiri’s tale of having been kidnapped by the C.I.A., provides the latest twist in one of strangest tales of the nuclear era.

Sanger noted that the CIA wanted to discredit the scientist. But why then repeat those claims? He also noted that publishing the claim was likely to get the man into deep trouble:

“His safety depends on him sticking to that fairy tale about pressure and torture,” insisted one of the American officials, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified while discussing a classified operation to attract Iranian scientists. “His challenge is to try to convince the Iranian security forces that he never cooperated with the United States.”

Trying to convince Iranian authorities that you are no spy, while the NYT prominently lays out the story that you are, is not an easy task. Why did the NYT, knowing of the potential consequences for the man, publish the claims at all?

Does Sanger feel regret about having outed the man, now that he has been executed? Consider his mealymouthed version of the above claim in today's report on that case:

How an Iranian’s Spy Saga Ends, 6 Years Later: He’s Executed

It now appears he may have begun work as an American source while he was still in Iran.

That very qualified sentence - "now appears", "may have" - comes down in paragraph 11 of the story. Not in the very opening paragraph as written by Sanger six years ago. How come that today it "now appears" when this was claimed with near certainty in the other story six years ago?

Why change the story at all after those six years? Why these qualifications now that the man is dead? Is this covering up the NYT's and Sanger's personal complicity in the man's death?

Posted by b on August 8, 2016 at 11:19 UTC | Permalink


That is the only email on the case I can find - and it is intriguing.

UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05771240 Date: 08/31/2015 U.S. officials said Amiri defected to the United States in 2009 and provided information about Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. Iran maintains he was abducted by U.S. agents in Saudi Arabia. Despite the "disturbance," bin Alawai said, the idea of an exchange of Amiri for the hikers surfaced. "The Iranians were ready to think about an exchange," he said, but at the White House "not everyone was on board at that time." Bin Alawai avoided saying that Shourd's release was part of an exchange, but allowed that "it may have helped" that Amiri eventually returned to Iran. Iran has accused the three hikers of spying, but no charges have been filed. Shourd's fiance, Bauer, and Fattal, both 28, remain at Evin Prison. They were detained on July 31, 2009.

So now he is executed in the context of an US - Iranian prisoner exchange?

Posted by: somebody | Aug 8 2016 12:32 utc | 1

Actually, it was not the NYT that made sure that Iranians knew Amiri worked with the CIA, it was ABC - this here is the BBC version of it.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 8 2016 13:07 utc | 2

Sorry for a flippant post.

One could propose that our government could do more to stimulate the economy by economic activities where it has a clear edge over private sector. For example, tourism.

Low cost package: hiking on Iranian border.

De-luxe package (I mean, tickets in figures): enjoy hunter-killer submarine experience and have a go on Japanese fishing boats (perhaps a more sustainable business model would focus on boats of poorer nations).


On the topic: intelligence sticks to agents which are loyal, and if you are not, there goes the life expectancy It is hard to see who Amiri was working for: if he gave valuable info to CIA, willing or not, he should stay far away from the Islamic Republic for life, and if he wanted to be exchanged, he should be more clearly loyal to CIA, which he was not. In any case, exchanges normally involve foreigners, e.g. USA would not exchange an American traitor.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 8 2016 13:22 utc | 3

I meant: tickets in seven figures. I deleted "six figures" and I forgot to replace it.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 8 2016 13:24 utc | 4

The main media BS on this story has been that the Iranians welcomed him back with flowers and then brutally executed him. Never mind that the US once executed spies or that our allies in the region like Israel and the Saudis are just as brutal.

Posted by: Curtis | Aug 8 2016 14:02 utc | 5

@all - deleted a bunch of off-topic comments

@somebody Actually, it was not the NYT that made sure that Iranians knew Amiri worked with the CIA, it was ABC - this here is the BBC version of it.

The question is not that general claim that he spilled the beans ones escaped (the BBC claim) but that Amiri worked for the CIA for several years before he fled to U.S. That claim was new in the NYT report and decisive in flagging him as a long term spy.
The claim, was at that time "briefed to small group of reporters" so others than the NYT might have picked that up too.

But what is revealing here is the divergence in the 6-years-apart reports.

Posted by: b | Aug 8 2016 14:52 utc | 6

Why did they send him to Tucson?

Posted by: RudyM | Aug 8 2016 15:34 utc | 7

@6 in flagging him as a long term spy.


Posted by: alkomv | Aug 8 2016 15:34 utc | 8

This fact may have played into the picture ...."Cotton: Clinton discussed executed Iranian scientist on email"" "Hillary Clinton recklessly discussed, in emails hosted on her private server, an Iranian nuclear scientist who was executed by Iran for treason, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Sunday.

"I'm not going to comment on what he may or may not have done for the United States government, but in the emails that were on Hillary Clinton's private server, there were conversations among her senior advisors about this gentleman," he said on "Face the Nation." Cotton was speaking about Shahram Amiri, who gave information to the U.S. not what the Hillary team wants out in the news so maybe its just to throw people or possible voters off the Hillary story

Posted by: Terry | Aug 8 2016 15:35 utc | 9

What kind of message does the "burning" of Amiri put out to US intelligence assets? This is an odd story.

Posted by: Cortes | Aug 8 2016 15:51 utc | 10

Clinton is blessed by opponents who blame her for ridiculous things. Like that Iranians would never pay attention to stories in NYT without emails of Hillary Clinton. Junior Senator from Arkansas is perhaps too young to be familiar with "Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Love the Bomb" (There is a scene in which Soviet ambassador claims that KGB learned about a weapon in American possession, so-called Doomsday Machine, an American general contradicts him, so the Ambassador roars in rage "Do not deny it, we read it in New York Times!"). If I had my way, the movie would be obligatory for all school children.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 8 2016 16:10 utc | 11

Am I insensitive for not feeling all that much sympathy for a traitor? The guy it seems defected to the west for cash payments, spilled secrets that he should not have spilled and then, when he got cold feet, was burned by the Intel service he helped. NYT, ABC or whoever was just the mouth piece.

Posted by: Lysander | Aug 8 2016 16:14 utc | 12

Do you all hear yourselves? An intelligent person is reportedly dead because of lies, propaganda and allegations. Isn't life itself any more valuable than a used rag? Yours is a world not worth the candle.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Aug 8 2016 16:36 utc | 13

They sent him to Tucson To become diorientated: Tucson it has same # of letters as Tehran, including same first and last letter. It worked.

Posted by: Shyaku | Aug 8 2016 19:07 utc | 14

in any case, iran has still killed fewer iranian nuclear scientists than israel. speaking of which, i have to wonder if this guy or someone he knew planted the stuxnet relied on physical access to the intranet at the facility, after all.

Posted by: the pair | Aug 8 2016 20:17 utc | 16

And killing those nuclear scientists may have required providing information on their whereabouts and habits .

Posted by: lysias | Aug 8 2016 20:34 utc | 17

Seems the Feds are busy at Hillary's headquarters removing some documents ...not looking good

Posted by: Terry | Aug 8 2016 21:17 utc | 18

The vid link wasnt to do with Hillary but a union boss that supported Hillary FBI raids IBEW union hall, labor leader John Dougherty's home

Posted by: Terry | Aug 8 2016 21:27 utc | 19


So stories about Soviet defectors not getting by too well once in the the US popped up here and there. One could speculate, but sending the guy back was clearly a death sentence. Messenger killed.

Posted by: stumpy | Aug 9 2016 0:43 utc | 20

in any covert or spy type activity - the zone is a landmine of double standards and fake plays... not sure what the move was or is here, but it sure seems like the cia wanted to take him out and fed the nyt to make the process complete... good observation @ 14 Shyaku..

@11 piotr... totally agree about that movie being mandatory for school age kids..

Posted by: james | Aug 9 2016 0:45 utc | 21

Formerly T-Bear @ 13

Amiri is dead because among other things the Iranians were able to read emails going back and forth on Hillary Clinton's unsecured private email server and, together with other information they had on him, put two and two together and were able to ascertain that he provided information on Iran's nuclear energy programme to the CIA. This would have clinched the Iranian government's case against Amiri if he had been brought to trial in Iran on charges of treason.

Some of the information Amiri gave to the CIA may have been passed on to or otherwise ended up with other intelligence agencies who then used this to target Amiri's fellow scientists in Iran and assassinate them.

The real issue should be whether the CIA is trying to distance itself from Amiri and whether the NYT is trying to extricate itself from any responsibility for exposing him as a CIA informant. What might this say about a possible relationship between the CIA and the NYT? What does the Amiri affair say about Hillary Clinton's character and suitability for the Presidency, and the NYT's role in supporting her? Doesn't the whole affair demonstrate to the NYT that Clinton is clearly unfit to be President?

Posted by: Jen | Aug 9 2016 1:57 utc | 22

@22 jen, 'The real issue should be whether ... the NYT is trying to extricate itself from any responsibility for exposing him as a CIA informant.'

'What might this say about a possible relationship between the CIA and the NYT?'

The NYTimes had been suspect to me ever since Wen Ho Lee - I know, I'm 'slow on the uptake' as my brother used to say - but I dropped it completely after the run-up to Iraq. What this says about the NYTimes has been said before. And the people who still rely on the NYTimes for their cover-story will read the NYTimes covering its own ass and be reassured by it. Emperors sleeping on park benches with the NYTimes for new bedclothes.

Posted by: jfl | Aug 9 2016 2:37 utc | 23

As I wrote, opponents of Clinton vastly exaggerate the number of reasons why she is "unfit for office". IMHO she is a homicidal maniac and overly devoted to collecting money from assorted businesses from assorted countries. That may gain her more votes than it looses, for example, our politicians often pretend to be homicidal maniacs to gain popularity, and having contacts with everybody who is somebody can also be viewed as a mark of competence.

But e-mail issue is not hurting because it is quite specious. First, what is "insecure server"? Less secure than servers of DoS? We KNOW about a huge batch of e-mails from DoS that made it to Wikileaks, while the breach of Clinton's server is a speculation. Second, on the issue at hand, if CIA wants to dispose of disloyal collaborator, there is little that can be done about it. Sure, NYT could refrain from being a "stenographer", but if CIA wants to make something public, it will be public. Third, how super-duper triply (??) verified accusations are needed to earn you a death penalty in the Islamic Republic? The republic is admirable in a number of ways, but reluctance in issuing and administering death penalty is not one of them. The idea that semi-official info published in NYT was insufficient, but hypothetical hacked e-mails were is quite a speculation.

Also, a comment about the fate of defectors. It is not like defecting will set you in comfortable life style until your death from old, old age. A potential defector should be prepared to make a living on his own after a year or two, but sometimes they have grandiose expectations, become disenchanted etc. Tucson is a nice medium size town with a large campus of University of Arizona and climate reminiscent of Persian Gulf. But a life of defector is not easy anywhere. If you live under your own name, you may be afraid of assassination. If you do not, you loose your university degrees, so you can try to be a taxi driver, used car salesman, bartender etc., which can be a letdown after working in scientific laboratories. And each of those profession actually requires some aptitude. It may be hard to get friends as a person without a past. I am not sure if CIA provides adequate social services (DoJ witness program may have similar issues). It does not fit the image of the organization, if some person under they care would become depressed, they would sooner pay for a hooker than psychologist (in short term it actually works, but then they stop paying etc.)

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 9 2016 3:11 utc | 24

@18 @19 Terry

Makes you take a look at the VPs on both tickets, doesn't it? The Hill laid low by a stroke, the Don dies of lead poisoning ... worse, certainly no better, in either instance. Better in the case of the Jill, IMHO, but she has the best prognosis and receives the best of medical care, I'm sure. John McAfee at 70 is three years older then Gary Johnson.

Posted by: jfl | Aug 9 2016 3:16 utc | 25

Sanger himself is a Mossad-CIA asset, as so many of the Chosen are in the MSM also. Hey, Breitbart? Drudge? Am I right? Were you playing Rip Van Winkle these past eight years? Do I have to draw you an interaction matrix with finger-paint?

So of course Sanger's going to 'tidy up'. That's what the Chosne do. I'm surprised he didn't leave a pristine bullet or a charred passport. The Chosen are constantly reweaving American history into that Eternal Fever Blanket of their Trotskyite Now.

Now all of these smegma are working together to derail Trump and lay rose petals and chocolates on the yellow brick road to Ascension for their Dragon Lady, the Ultimate Psychopath, that Great Sataness, Hillary Rodham and her Clinton Foundation of Moloch.

We came, we saw, he died, caww, caww, caww!

It just doesn't get any better than this!

We need a buffoon in the Casa Blanc.

Posted by: Alison DeBeers | Aug 9 2016 3:24 utc | 26

The man was outed back in 2010. His whole story was that he was kidnapped while on pilgrimage and then somehow managed to escape the clutches of the Cia and make his way back to Iran. Without the Cia saying anything at all, there is no way anyone would buy that. But just in case, back in 2010 sources said he defected and then changed his mind. Why he was kept alive until now is anyone's guess. Maybe he could trade revelations about CIA trade craft in exchange for living a while longer.

Clearly, the CIA wanted him dead for going back to Iran. Probably they wanted him dead 6 years ago before he could give the Iranians a clear damage assessment of what info he provided and how they can prevent this from happening again.

At any rate, if the US got its hands on anyone who spied for the Soviets or any other foreign government (except Israel maybe) I doubt they would be much nicer to him.

Posted by: Lysander | Aug 9 2016 3:30 utc | 27


ZH is a Mossad-CIA asset and the video is p-shopped with a gif loop to make it look like a seizure. Sure, she's a black-out drunk psychopath. We all knew that. Sure she fell into the potted palms and had a 'stroke'. That goes with all the gin. But she can still climb those stairs to the WH, even if they have to build a carbon-fiber frame to power her black heart.
And that's all you need to know. Satan rode into town one day in a powder blue pants suit.

Posted by: Alison DeBeers | Aug 9 2016 3:31 utc | 28


Ours is a world not worth the candle after January 7, 2017.

There, fixed it for you.

Posted by: Alison DeBeers | Aug 9 2016 3:34 utc | 29

Well it looks like Clinton's emails are becoming part of this story of Amiri's execution. CNN headlines their story "Clinton blamed after Iran executes scientists" and it is the eighth story from the top below five Olympics stories. I am not uncomfortable blaming Hillary. I hope her campaign has to issue an "explanation" which should keep the story on the front pages another news cycle.

It is clear from polling information that even many voters who intend to vote for Hillary thinks she is a liar so those people will not believe any official denial. Perhaps some will change their minds about voting at all.

Posted by: ToivoS | Aug 9 2016 4:17 utc | 30

bPosted by: Alison DeBeers | Aug 8, 2016 11:24:17 PM | 26

Posted by: MRW | Aug 9 2016 6:32 utc | 31

Alison DeBeers | Aug 8, 2016 11:31:47 PM | 28

LOL, check!

Posted by: V. Arnold | Aug 9 2016 9:16 utc | 32

how 'bout the rat poison?

Posted by: john | Aug 9, 2016 5:47:01 AM | 33

I am a "rat poison" consumer myself (warfarin). Once a month you need a test, and your diet has to be somewhat regular. The chief risk seems to be that in the case of head injury the risk of death doubles, which makes obvious lifestyle suggestions, e.g. avoid exercise and locomotion involving high speeds, sharp turns etc. Be careful on slippery surfaces.

Rats have to overdose, obviously, neglect testing, eat too little leafy vegetables. And even then the poisoning acts very slowly, so the surprisingly smart animals would fail to connect the cause and effect. Once I had few mice in the apartment. Of the set of 4 mouse traps, one caught a mouse in 15 minutes, and the other three, never! And a week after setting the poison unhealthy mice were staggering around, panting and staring.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 9 2016 12:23 utc | 33

Media consolidation (monopolization) passed by congress under Clenis, facilitated CIA to dominate it. The manipulation of mainstream media and much of the internet is evident.

Posted by: fast freddy | Aug 9 2016 12:40 utc | 34

24;You must be kidding;The only reason the e-mail scandal hasn't had much effect is because the MSM doesn't print anything about it.
There is a massive propaganda effort going down in America to secure the POTUS for that evil pos HRC,and defending anything about that puss filled face lifted phony scum is highly suspect.

Posted by: dahoit | Aug 9 2016 12:58 utc | 35

28;You confused,or am I?Where are you coming from?Jill Stein?
As an American,there is only one choice,Donald Trump,and he will be POTUS,mas all the propaganda surely is visible to the American people.Even Fox is on his case,which is great news,because they are exposed as the zioscum they actually are,instead of faux patriot BS.
As far as the Iranian guy,never trust the zionists,they'll feed to to the sharks,as that obviously is what happened,he either outlived his usefulness,or was unreliable in pointing out non existent nukes.

Posted by: dahoit | Aug 9 2016 13:13 utc | 36

@ Piotr Berman | Aug 9, 2016 8:23:00 AM | 34
@ john | Aug 9, 2016 11:13:01 AM | 38

What would a cat, as precocious as they are, do to lubricate the blood to keep it vital? Small doses of time release aspirin becomes ineffective at about 75 years of age I'm told. Recently newer concoctions have been allowed on the market that lubricate without the side effects of warfarin and the monitoring needed; but I don't know what they are. Check with your pharmacist or cardiologist about those products. I still have a year and some before the 3/4 century anniversary if that is in the world's plan and will doG willing tell more once it becomes known.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Aug 9 2016 17:31 utc | 37

What planet are you on, Alison @28? It certainly can't be planet Earth. Anyone on planet Earth should know that Killary Clinton has what it takes to be a Mossad-CIA asset, not Zero Sledge. If anything, Zero Sledge is a Kremlin asset. Not that I buy into such far-fetched claims.

Posted by: Cynthia | Aug 9 2016 18:33 utc | 38

@ Cynthia | Aug 9, 2016 2:33:24 PM | 38

With modification, I am so going to use: Zero Sludge. If anything, Zero Sludge is a by-product of University of Chicago School of Economic Phrenology, the wet-womb of Neoliberalism (fathered by Austrian School of Economic Retards).

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Aug 9 2016 18:44 utc | 39

Because I have atrial fibrillation, I have to take a blood-thinner. Instead of warfarin, the one I take is rivaroxaban, trade name Xarelto.

Posted by: lysias | Aug 9 2016 18:44 utc | 40

@39 ftb, 'a by-product of University of Chicago School of Economic Phrenology'

Now there's a smile involuntarily brought to my lips. Thanks. Not much to smile about these days.

Posted by: jfl | Aug 9 2016 20:29 utc | 41

@ jfl | Aug 9, 2016 4:29:55 PM | 41

Glad to bring a little amusement into things. Use it well and wisely.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Aug 9 2016 21:15 utc | 42

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