Yes, another dreary--and frightening--Iran post. Before or after reading this, provided you can take more stomach-churning news, you might want to sign this petition or go here to take action against this insane plan.
Seymour Hersh has written yet another article detailing ongoing activities already being undertaken by the US in Iran, particularly clandestine activities directed by the office of the Vice President. The "redirection" of American policy in the US seems designed to foment a Sunni-Shiite Cold War:
Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public . . . The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.
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The key players behind the redirection are Vice-President Dick Cheney, the deputy national-security adviser Elliott Abrams, the departing Ambassador to Iraq (and nominee for United Nations Ambassador), Zalmay Khalilzad, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national-security adviser. While Rice has been deeply involved in shaping the public policy, former and current officials said that the clandestine side has been guided by Cheney.
And that clandestine activity goes back to Iran-Contra. Hersh points out the similarities between the secrecy of the Reagan administration in the Iran-Contra scandal, when the administration tried to fund the Contras illegally through arms sales to--ironically--Iran. Most troubling of all is this:
Iran-Contra was the subject of an informal “lessons learned” discussion two years ago among veterans of the scandal. Abrams led the discussion. One conclusion was that even though the program was eventually exposed, it had been possible to execute it without telling Congress. As to what the experience taught them, in terms of future covert operations, the participants found: “One, you can’t trust our friends. Two, the C.I.A. has got to be totally out of it. Three, you can’t trust the uniformed military, and four, it’s got to be run out of the Vice-President’s office”—a reference to Cheney’s role, the former senior intelligence official said.
Congress is being deliberately kept in the dark about clandestine activities--and their funding. According to a former National Security Council aide,
Congress was not being briefed on the full extent of the U.S.-Saudi operations. And, he said, “The C.I.A. is asking, ‘What’s going on?’ They’re concerned, because they think it’s amateur hour.”
The key players in such operations don't learn the lessons that people with moral sensibilities wish they would learn; instead, they learn how to better cloak their criminal activities in secrecy. Here's another such instance, which also has a historical parallel:
American military and special-operations teams have escalated their activities in Iran to gather intelligence and, according to a Pentagon consultant on terrorism and the former senior intelligence official, have also crossed the border in pursuit of Iranian operatives from Iraq.
Cambodia, anyone? Those of us old enough to remember the Vietnam War will recall, as Chuck Hagel did during Condi's appearance before the Senate in January, that our government lied to us, saying we did not cross over into Cambodia, when in fact we did. Well, it's deja vu all over again ...
While all this clandestine activity goes on outside of Congressional oversight, there's also the public side of our increasingly confrontational actions in regard to Iran. Hersh reports the arrest of hundreds of Iranians in Iraq. According to a former senior intelligence official,
“They had five hundred locked up at one time. We’re working these guys and getting information from them. The White House goal is to build a case that the Iranians have been fomenting the insurgency and they’ve been doing it all along—that Iran is, in fact, supporting the killing of Americans.” The Pentagon consultant confirmed that hundreds of Iranians have been captured by American forces in recent months. But he told me that that total includes many Iranian humanitarian and aid workers who “get scooped up and released in a short time,” after they have been interrogated.
"Working" these guys. "Interrogated." Given US policy, I think we can assume that we're talking about torture here, at least in some cases.
Propaganda about the dangers Iran poses is taking on an increasingly aggressive tone. Just as in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, alarming reports are being circulated about Iran's weapons capability and its nuclear program. Most intelligence experts have said that Iran is five to ten years away from being able to manufacture a nuclear weapon, yet the administration insists repeatedly that this is an imminent threat. We are also being told that Iran now has
a three-stage solid-fuelled intercontinental missile capable of delivering several small warheads—each with limited accuracy—inside Europe.
This information--which comes from Israeli agents working in Iran--is of debatable validity. Israel is desirous of a strike against Iran, so this rumor is, to my mind, questionable and very much in need of verification if we are to take it seriously.
Hersh also says that
a special planning group has been established in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with creating a contingency bombing plan for Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the President, within twenty-four hours.
In the past month, I was told by an Air Force adviser on targeting and the Pentagon consultant on terrorism, the Iran planning group has been handed a new assignment: to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq. Previously, the focus had been on the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities and possible regime change. [my bold]
Hersh's article has a wider scope than the possibility of war with Iran, discussing administration policies throughout the Middle East and clandestine operations that seek to undermine Shiite governments and groups such as Hezbollah. It's worth reading in its entirety, although here I am interested mainly in what he has to say about the increasing possibility (or probability) of war with Iran. Policy toward Iran, however, cannot be taken out of the context of the administration's sweeping plans for a completely rearranged Middle East. The arrogance, the sheer hubris, of this decision to arrange the entire region according to the desires of a group of neocons is breath-taking--and frightening. They would like nothing better, apparently, than to see the entire region become a conflagration, and if in the process they ensure that the Muslim world interprets US actions as a war on Islam, so be it.
Let's never forget that this is all about the oil, about securing enough oil in the near future:
On Fox News on January 14th, Cheney warned of the possibility, in a few years, “of a nuclear-armed Iran, astride the world’s supply of oil, able to affect adversely the global economy, prepared to use terrorist organizations and/or their nuclear weapons to threaten their neighbors and others around the world.” [my bold]
For these people, of course, diplomacy is out of the question as a means to ensuring energy security (again, for the near future; Peak Oil is a reality). Endless war is the only solution the neocons can imagine, for to engage in diplomacy is to show weakness. They envision the United States as the sole superpower of the world forever, a mighty empire that will rule the globe and have its way with countries large or small that impede its exertion of power.
That thousands or perhaps millions will die is of no consequence. These are the madmen who are running the show. Why are we allowing them to stay in power?