Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Why Seymour Hersh's Latest New Yorker Piece On Iran Should Scare You Into Calling Your Congresscritters -- NOW

Key excerpts from Seymour Hersh's article "The Iran Plans" (available at the New Yorker, or click here and ignore the looney tunes in the comments section):

The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups.
Of course, this part didn't get mentioned yet in the TV news coverage, did it? But wait, there's MORE!
In recent weeks, the President has quietly initiated a series of talks on plans for Iran with a few key senators and members of Congress, including at least one Democrat. A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, who did not take part in the meetings but has discussed their content with his colleagues, told me that there had been “no formal briefings,” because “they’re reluctant to brief the minority. They’re doing the Senate, somewhat selectively.”
English translation: The only Democrats they're talking to on this are the ones who are slavishly in their corner: the DINO warhawks, people like Lieberman and possibly Joe Biden. And this is confirmed by the next passage:
The House member said that no one in the meetings “is really objecting” to the talk of war. “The people they’re briefing are the same ones who led the charge on Iraq. At most, questions are raised: How are you going to hit all the sites at once? How are you going to get deep enough?” (Iran is building facilities underground.) “There’s no pressure from Congress” not to take military action, the House member added. “The only political pressure is from the guys who want to do it.” Speaking of President Bush, the House member said, “The most worrisome thing is that this guy has a messianic vision.”
Hmmm. Talking only to the Democratic warhawks, and giving them only baloney: Sounds a lot like the spring of 2002, doesn't it? And just as we were bombing Iraq well before we actually officially invaded in 2003, Bush has already commenced attacks against Iran:
Some operations, apparently aimed in part at intimidating Iran, are already under way. American Naval tactical aircraft, operating from carriers in the Arabian Sea, have been flying simulated nuclear-weapons delivery missions—rapid ascending maneuvers known as “over the shoulder” bombing—since last summer, the former official said, within range of Iranian coastal radars.
Yup, try to provoke the Iranians into a military response, and depend on the tame GOP/Media Complex at home to ignore the provocations. This really does sound like 2002. Except it's 2002 on steroids. Get this:
Last month, in a paper given at a conference on Middle East security in Berlin, Colonel Sam Gardiner, a military analyst who taught at the National War College before retiring from the Air Force, in 1987, provided an estimate of what would be needed to destroy Iran’s nuclear program. Working from satellite photographs of the known facilities, Gardiner estimated that at least four hundred targets would have to be hit. He added: "I don’t think a U.S. military planner would want to stop there. Iran probably has two chemical-production plants. We would hit those. We would want to hit the medium-range ballistic missiles that have just recently been moved closer to Iraq. There are fourteen airfields with sheltered aircraft. . . . We’d want to get rid of that threat. We would want to hit the assets that could be used to threaten Gulf shipping. That means targeting the cruise-missile sites and the Iranian diesel submarines. . . . Some of the facilities may be too difficult to target even with penetrating weapons. The U.S. will have to use Special Operations units."
I hope those Special Ops guys wrote out their wills beforehand. The lucky ones will be the ones who die right away:
He [a former high level defense official] went on, “Nuclear planners go through extensive training and learn the technical details of damage and fallout—we’re talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years. This is not an underground nuclear test, where all you see is the earth raised a little bit. These politicians don’t have a clue, and whenever anybody tries to get it out”—remove the nuclear option—“they’re shouted down.”
And as always, if you give the Bushies an inch on anything, they will pretend you gave them a mile -- on the Ledeen Principle that every few years or so,the US must bomb the crap out of some country just because we can:
With or without the nuclear option, the list of targets may inevitably expand. One recently retired high-level Bush Administration official, who is also an expert on war planning, told me that he would have vigorously argued against an air attack on Iran, because “Iran is a much tougher target” than Iraq. But, he added, “If you’re going to do any bombing to stop the nukes, you might as well improve your lie across the board. Maybe hit some training camps, and clear up a lot of other problems.” The Pentagon adviser said that, in the event of an attack, the Air Force intended to strike many hundreds of targets in Iran but that “ninety-nine per cent of them have nothing to do with proliferation. There are people who believe it’s the way to operate”—that the Administration can achieve its policy goals in Iran with a bombing campaign, an idea that has been supported by neoconservatives.
And just as 2002 saw nutty Iraqi embezzler exiles filling the minds of the PNAC Platoon with visions of flowers and candy, we have the PNACers falling for the Grade-Z bulldung being shoveled by looney tunes allied with the Pakistani government:
In recent months, the Pakistani government has given the U.S. new access to A. Q. Khan, the so-called father of the Pakistani atomic bomb. Khan, who is now living under house arrest in Islamabad, is accused of setting up a black market in nuclear materials; he made at least one clandestine visit to Tehran in the late nineteen-eighties. In the most recent interrogations, Khan has provided information on Iran’s weapons design and its time line for building a bomb. “The picture is of ‘unquestionable danger,’ ” the former senior intelligence official said. (The Pentagon adviser also confirmed that Khan has been “singing like a canary.”) The concern, the former senior official said, is that “Khan has credibility problems. He is suggestible, and he’s telling the neoconservatives what they want to hear”—or what might be useful to Pakistan’s President, Pervez Musharraf, who is under pressure to assist Washington in the war on terror.
Finally, just as the evidence of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" turned out to be bogus, the evidence for a looming Iranian nuclear threat isn't exactly solid, either:
Last year, the Bush Administration briefed I.A.E.A. officials on what it said was new and alarming information about Iran’s weapons program which had been retrieved from an Iranian’s laptop. The new data included more than a thousand pages of technical drawings of weapons systems. The Washington Post reported that there were also designs for a small facility that could be used in the uranium-enrichment process. Leaks about the laptop became the focal point of stories in the Times and elsewhere. The stories were generally careful to note that the materials could have been fabricated, but also quoted senior American officials as saying that they appeared to be legitimate. The headline in the Times’ account read, “RELYING ON COMPUTER, U.S. SEEKS TO PROVE IRAN’S NUCLEAR AIMS.” I was told in interviews with American and European intelligence officials, however, that the laptop was more suspect and less revelatory than it had been depicted. The Iranian who owned the laptop had initially been recruited by German and American intelligence operatives, working together. The Americans eventually lost interest in him. The Germans kept on, but the Iranian was seized by the Iranian counter-intelligence force. It is not known where he is today. Some family members managed to leave Iran with his laptop and handed it over at a U.S. embassy, apparently in Europe. It was a classic “walk-in.”
Hmmm. Sounds like the forged Niger "yellowcake documents", eh? Except that this time around, Berlusconi's people weren't the ones who forged it.
A European intelligence official said, “There was some hesitation on our side” about what the materials really proved, “and we are still not convinced.” The drawings were not meticulous, as newspaper accounts suggested, “but had the character of sketches,” the European official said. “It was not a slam-dunk smoking gun.”
And of course, if Bush thinks that Iran's friends and neighbors will take this lying down, he'd better think again:
Any American bombing attack, Richard Armitage told me, would have to consider the following questions: “What will happen in the other Islamic countries? What ability does Iran have to reach us and touch us globally—that is, terrorism? Will Syria and Lebanon up the pressure on Israel? What does the attack do to our already diminished international standing? And what does this mean for Russia, China, and the U.N. Security Council?” Iran, which now produces nearly four million barrels of oil a day, would not have to cut off production to disrupt the world’s oil markets. It could blockade or mine the Strait of Hormuz, the thirty-four-mile-wide passage through which Middle Eastern oil reaches the Indian Ocean. Nonetheless, the recently retired defense official dismissed the strategic consequences of such actions. He told me that the U.S. Navy could keep shipping open by conducting salvage missions and putting mine- sweepers to work. “It’s impossible to block passage,” he said. The government consultant with ties to the Pentagon also said he believed that the oil problem could be managed, pointing out that the U.S. has enough in its strategic reserves to keep America running for sixty days. However, those in the oil business I spoke to were less optimistic; one industry expert estimated that the price per barrel would immediately spike, to anywhere from ninety to a hundred dollars per barrel, and could go higher, depending on the duration and scope of the conflict.
Oh, and the Iraqi troops we're training -- most of whom are Shiites, just like their Iranian brethren -- will immediately rise up against the US forces currently in Iraq. And the Sunnis will join them. No wonder why the Pentagon brass wants this stopped. The ones that have actually fought in wars, that is. You know what to do: http://www.house.gov http://www.senate.gov

Phoenix Woman gets it.

We have to be aware that events are much closer than they may appear. Bushco has already committed acts of war by stirring up ethnic dissension (and probably arming and training guerrillas) inside Iran.

My guess is that they intend to occupy southern Iran, because that's the only way to protect the Gulf from missile attack. And, as we know, pretty soon, the weather makes duty there very tough. I would guess that we go from small scale war to nuclear weapons in no more than 45 days. More likely half that.
If we're honest with ourselves, we know that the only way to stop Bush/Cheney from bombing Iran--now they're on the verge of being indicted for treason in the Oval Office--is if some horrified person puts a bullet in their brains or bomb in their tank. Calling Congress is a joke.
Spartacus, I would prefer it if you would delete that comment.

I don't want to get into the business of censorship. You see that we even leave the non-commercial comment spam up. But there have to be limits, preferably self-imposed.

I am for life, love, joy, and redemption. I think this is what the whole non-conservative movement is for. Who can raise the dead? Whoever answers in the negative has no right to preach violence.

I will concede that writing Congress is frustrating, maybe a waste of time. So do something else. Best of all is to find someone you otherwise would never talk to and explain to them why they should oppose invasion of Iran.
I'm not in the business of advocacy, so if you want to delete my comments, it's your blog. I was merely observing the utter breakdown of the influence of law or morality in our society. What has happened historically under those conditions has not been pretty. I see no reason why Americans would be exempt.
I still believe in the First Amendment, Spartacus.

Not the watered-down version that lets Pat Robertson openly advocate murder while people get pulled over for bumper stickers equating Bush with manure. The 180 proof Constitutional firewater that Jefferson and Madison brewed. But even they didn't envision pure grain alcohol, much less moonshine, as the standard for public speech.

I will limit myself to expressing the fervent hope that posters would take it easy on the purple prose sauce. George Bush is and always has been an expression rather than the cause of the malady in the American soul.

For that matter, anyone who wants Dubya to really suffer should wish that he live a long life. That he can witness the consequences of his actions and the national repudiation of him and the moral sickness he represents.

We in the opposition are winning. That's why Bush & Co. are gambling their very souls with this mad plan for Iran.
Tell that to the people of the Persian Gulf, or, for that matter, New Orleans.
I don't minimize the deaths, injuries, emotional scarring, and shrunken lives of anyone, Spartacus. But the business of transforming the world is slow.

It took thousands of years to make slavery something generally regarded as unsavory. It still exists. Some Americans still profit from and even engage in it. But it is slowly dying. The same can be said racism, gender discrimination, the treatment of children as property, and many other evils.

There are great generations, where things seem to change abruptly. The Emancipation. Suffrage. 1964 Civil Rights Act. But if you look at each case, it was merely a surge forward which was met by reaction and a surge back.

To end war and the foolish dream that empire brings anything except self-destruction, we need to change individual minds and hearts. If you are one of those who understands already, then this is your life work, no different than eating or breathing. The Jews call it tikkun olam:

The "repair," that is needed, therefore, is two-fold: the gathering of light and of souls, to be achieved by human beings through the contemplative performance of religious acts.

We Christians have no special word for it, but it's what Jesus meant when he called on believers to pick up their cross and follow Him.

In other words, it's not a battle to be won. It's a life to be lived. Having put a reasonable portion of my time and treasure into repairing the world, I feel no complicity in Dubya's misdeeds. That's the tangible reward.
I'm not sure that Spartacus is right to bring up assassination as an option. But is there time for anything else to work. Given the apparent failure of the political checks and balances, how do you stop somebody crazy enough to use nuclear weapons?

("Crazy enough to use nuclear weapons" is slightly different from pointing the planners at the problem.)
Actually, Dave, the checks and balances only work when we exercise oversight. That's always the way it's been.

Too many people think of democracy as something that can run on autopilot, with little or no input from We The People besides voting every two years. It needs more than that -- much more. That's why we're here.
Charles is right. Events are developing rapidly with the Iran situation.

We are in a seriously bad situation with our military being occupied occupying Iraq. There is no way we can deal with Iran military at the same time we are trying to help secure Iraq.

This is exactly the type of problem all of the critics of this administration's foreign policies have been talking about for the past 3 years. Our military is already stretched too thin to deal with Iran AND Iraq at the same time. Before, Iran it was Iraq when we were in Afghanistan.

I assume Charles means an air campaign when he says "small scale war". I agree. Its our only option. Our military can't do Iraq and Iran at the same time. I also agree that it will escalate very quickly, again, because we have no choice. (This administration and its lack of foresight/oversight has created these situations where we are backed into a corner.) I think it could escalate much faster than 20 days after the first bombs rain on Iran.

In any case, I think the threshold of war is fast approaching with Iran. To say the least, it will be interesting how this administration deals with it. Personally, I think they are incapable of having good judgement (thats what you get with an alcholic coke-head born-again Christian fundamentalist wingnut president), making sound decisions and doing what is right for this country's future.

What this country needs is another revolution. This country right now is ripening for a scenario straight out of "V for Vendetta". All we need is a V.
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