WASHINGTON A former White House official reportedly conspiring to foment a war between America and Iran says he is being falsely accused.
In his first interview since leaving Vice President Cheney's office, David Wurmser denied a story published in the October 1 issue of Newsweek alleging that he said last spring that the vice president was considering a plan to press Israel to strike Iranian nuclear targets, including the site at Natanz Iran's central facility for uranium enrichment. Newsweek reported that the plan was to be an effort to "provoke Tehran into lashing out," which in turn would have created the pretext for America to launch military strikes on a wider range of targets in Iran. The account was first reported in May on the Web log of a senior fellow of the New America Foundation, Steve Clemons.
When asked about the Newsweek story, Mr. Wurmser said, "That conspiracy is unrecognizable to anything I have ever seen or heard or done. The vice president simply does not traffic in insubordination."
Mr. Wurmser who advised Mr. Cheney on Middle Eastern issues declined to elaborate on his discussions with Mr. Cheney about Iran's nuclear program. "There is a trust between the vice president and his closest staff," he said, "and I have no intention of ever betraying that trust."
Yesterday, Mr. Clemons said he stood by his story but declined to offer further comment. A spokeswoman for Newsweek also said the magazine stood by its account.
Allegations that Mr. Wurmser, the vice president, and other American neoconservatives are attempting to spark a war with Iran have been amplified by leftist bloggers in recent weeks.
In August, a New York University professor, Barnett Rubin, posted an item on his blog alleging that the vice president would use September to roll out a campaign to build public support for war with Iran.
Another professor, Juan Cole of the University of Michigan, also picked up topic. He wrote on Salon.comthis week that the "real reason" the visit of Iran's president to New York was controversial was because "the American right has decided the United States needs to go to war against Iran."
Mr. Wurmser, who has become a focus of attention for many at both political extremes, said yesterday that much of the anonymously sourced news about him and the administration printed in the last six years has been incorrect.
He said, "There has been an unbelievable amount of disinformation put out by people inside the government and outside the government that has no relation to what really is going on inside the government, starting with the special policy analysis unit set up in the Pentagon right after 9/11 to study terror networks, not just Iraq's sponsorship of terrorism, all the way to the current reports on a conspiracy to get us into a war with Iran."
Mr. Wurmser was a founding analyst of the Pentagon unit created to study those terror networks. The president's critics alleged that the operation was to be an effort to gin up the war that toppled Saddam Hussein by drawing tenuous links between Saddam and Osama bin Laden. However, none of the analysis from Mr. Wurmser's unit was included in the consensus intelligence products developed by the National Intelligence Council and shared with Congress and later the U.N. Security Council in the speech delivered by Colin Powell before "Operation Iraqi Freedom."
According to Mr. Wurmser, "the purpose of the study was to challenge the reigning assumptions that governed not only intelligence but policy. Events since have borne out that this sort of activity is essential. The bulk of the work of that unit has never been revealed, not even the links between Saddam and Al Qaeda. I remain confident that history will judge the unit's work favorably."
Mr. Wurmser said that when Newsweek reporters called his home and spoke with his wife, Meyrav Wurmser who is a Hudson Institute scholar a reporter claimed to have documentary evidence of the conversation about Mr. Cheney's Iran plan.
"I dare Newsweek to publish the transcripts and attribute them to their authors," he said. "I am confident they cannot be real."