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Monday, April 17, 2006

Iran controls our fate


Iranian Troops in the Iran-Iraq War


Are We There Yet?


by digby


Following up on my post from Friday highlighting Colonel Sam Gardiner's statement on CNN that the US already has troops in iran, I see (via robelicit at kos) that Dennis Kucinich has sent a letter to the president asking if such reports are true. He says:

Dear President Bush:

Recently, it has been reported that U.S. troops are conducting military operations in Iran. If true, it appears that you have already made the decision to commit U.S. military forces to a unilateral conflict with Iran, even before direct or indirect negotiations with the government of Iran had been attempted, without UN support and without authorization from the U.S. Congress.


Last Thursday, Raw Story had some interesting nuggets about the pentagon using MEK (an official terrorist group) to do dirty work in Iran:

One former counterintelligence official, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the information, describes the Pentagon as pushing MEK shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The drive to use the insurgent group was said to have been advanced by the Pentagon under the influence of the Vice President’s office and opposed by the State Department, National Security Council and then-National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice.

[...]

"We disarmed [the MEK] of major weapons but not small arms. [Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld was pushing to use them as a military special ops team, but policy infighting between their camp and Condi, but she was able to fight them off for a while," said the intelligence official. According to still another intelligence source, the policy infighting ended last year when Donald Rumsfeld, under pressure from Vice President Cheney, came up with a plan to "convert" the MEK by having them simply quit their organization.


It is well known that MEK was given a strange dispensation, with some very odd ducks offering public support, one of whom was, of all people, that radical wierdo Tom Tancredo:


Washington, DC, May. 31, 2005 (UPI) -- U.S. lawmakers and former military officers are backing Mujahedin-e Khalq, an Iranian opposition group, despite its inclusion on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations and its role in the killing and wounding of U.S. military personnel and civilians in the 1970s.

Supporters acknowledge the status of the group, once funded by deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, as well as its role in the killings of U.S. military personnel and civilians in the 1970s in Iran when it was allied with Ayatollah Khomeini, but say the MEK has shed its past activities and is a potential ally against the theocratic regime in Iran.

Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, responded in a written statement saying he supports the MEK because it is an "asset to U.S. intelligence" and "the most reliable source of information for the region."

In recent years the MEK's political branch, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has provided information about Iran's nuclear facilities, which the Bush administration contends are being used to secretly make nuclear weapons.

Tancredo's press secretary, Carlos Espinosa, said it is not "too unusual" for members of Congress to support a group listed as a foreign terrorist organization, citing Sen. Ted Kennedy's support for the Irish Republican Army as an example.

"Are these guys saints? No." Espinosa said. But, "if there's a problem, it's that the MEK is on the list."


Read the whole article for the rundown on MEK if you are unfamiliar with them. I remember seeing Rep. Ileana Ross-Lehtinen making a public statement in favor of the group a year or so ago and wondered what in the hell was up with that.

So, what does it all mean? I don't really know, of course. But, as I wrote earlier, I am intrigued by Sy Hersh's article from last year, that the pentagon has created a new, clandestine service that has no obligation to report to the congress as the CIA does:

George W. Bush's reelection was not his only victory last fall. The President and his national security advisers have consolidated control over the military and intelligence communities' strategic analyses and covert operations to a degree unmatched since the rise of the post-Second World War national security state. Bush has an aggressive and ambitious agenda for using that control against the mullahs in Iran and against targets in the ongoing war on terrorism during his second term. The C.I.A. will continue to be downgraded, and the agency will increasingly serve, as one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon put it, as "facilitators" of policy emanating from President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. This process is well under way.

[...]

Rumsfeld will become even more important during the second term. In interviews with past and present intelligence and military officials, I was told that the agenda had been determined before the Presidential election, and much of it would be Rumsfeld's responsibility. The war on terrorism would be expanded, and effectively placed under the Pentagon's control. The President has signed a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East and South Asia.

[...]

The President's decision enables Rumsfeld to run the operations off the books free from legal restrictions imposed on the C.I.A. Under current law, all C.I.A. covert activities overseas must be authorized by a Presidential finding and reported to the Senate and House intelligence committees. (The laws were enacted after a series of scandals in the nineteen seventies involving C.I.A. domestic spying and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders.) "The Pentagon doesn't feel obligated to report any of this to Congress," the former high-level intelligence official said. "They don't even call it 'covert ops' it's too close to the C.I.A. phrase. In their view, it's 'black reconnaissance.' They're not even going to tell the cincs" the regional American military commanders-in-chief. (The Defense Department and the White House did not respond to requests for comment on this story.)

In my interviews, I was repeatedly told that the next strategic target was Iran.


Here's what he wrote last week:

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. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium.


Today, Richard Clark and Steven Simon, former national security staffers say this:

So how would bombing Iran serve American interests? In over a decade of looking at the question, no one has ever been able to provide a persuasive answer. The president assures us he will seek a diplomatic solution to the Iranian crisis. And there is a role for threats of force to back up diplomacy and help concentrate the minds of our allies. But the current level of activity in the Pentagon suggests more than just standard contingency planning or tactical saber-rattling.


All of this may be some sort of advanced kabuki sabre rattling, of course. But Hersh's scenario from early 2005 sounds entirely plausible to me. I suspect that these actions have been ongoing since Bush was reelected. Remember his constant refrain about "using his political capital?" His reelection seemed to infuse him with even more grandiosity than he showed before. For instance, his first order of domestic business wasn't to disband the department of education, a longtime conservative goal. He set out to destroy social security --- long known to be the third rail of politics. He thought he was destined (by God?) to fundamentally change the nation and the world. His arrogance knew no bounds.

Within that framework, it is entirely believable to me that he could have ordered regime change in Iran more than a year ago. And it is almost certain that he could have authorized a new clandestine service in the DOD that is unanswerable to congress. The administration's understanding of presidential power during "wartime" allows him to do anything he deems necessary to "protect" the country.

Again, this is tinfoil hat stuff, connecting some very vague dots. A few years ago I would have dismissed it as conspiracy mongering of the worst kind and consigned myself to spend a month digging through illuminati web-sites to cure me of the disease.

After what we have seen, however, I don't think it's far-fetched at all:

  • The administration has asserted a theory of unlimited executive power in wartime.
  • The secretary of defense is committed to creating and using a new and "modern" fighting force using all kinds of unconventional and untried means.
  • The president believes he was chosen by God to be his vehicle for spreadin' freedom.
  • The power behind the throne is a devious, powermad greedhead who believes that military dominance is the only way America can stay on top.
  • They all have a history of lying about their plans for war and believed that their reelection was a mandate to continue on the same path.

Here was Bush in his first press conference after winning the election:

And after hundreds of speeches and three debates and interviews and the whole process, where you keep basically saying the same thing over and over again, that when you win, there is a feeling that the people have spoken and embraced your point of view, and that's what I intend to tell the Congress, that I made it clear what I intend to do as the President, now let's work to -- and the people made it clear what they wanted, now let's work together.

And it's one of the wonderful -- it's like earning capital. You asked, do I feel free. Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That's what happened in the -- after the 2000 election, I earned some capital. I've earned capital in this election -- and I'm going to spend it for what I told the people I'd spend it on, which is -- you've heard the agenda: Social Security and tax reform, moving this economy forward, education, fighting and winning the war on terror.


The most polarizing president in US history, who assumed office through one vote on the Supreme court the first time and won the second time because of a dubious swing of about 70,000 votes in Ohio says it's his style to spend the political capital he "earned" when "the people" endorsed all his views.

That's the kind of guy who thinks he can start secret wars to transform the middle east through sheer force. A megalomaniac child in the hands of manipulative men.
So what happens when the Iranians mine the Straits of Hormuz and send the Basiji to reenforce their Iraqi clients?

Bush may plan on a war, but the Iranians have plans too, and if the US thinks the Iraqi Shia will let Iran be attacked, well they should really have another think coming. When Iran gets word of US movements, Iraq will go into hyperdrive lunacy. Car bombs will be the least of oour problems. Look for US units to get effectively ambushed as a start. Iran can make Iraq so untenable that they can stop any attack. The trump card would be an Iraqi demand that the US leave if any attack on Iran takes place.

The Iranians have us by the balls. repeat it until you understand that fully.

posted by Steve @ 12:55:00 AM

12:55:00 AM

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