Summary: The Bush Administration has authorized covert offensives against Iran, taking another step towards war. Or so we are told. Again. The Bush Administration and US military officers have long waged a campaign of words against Iran, firing salvos of heated rhetoric. But the Left has done its part to fan fears with waves of rumors during the past 3 years about covert ops, cut cables as a prelude to war, and announcements that routine movements of carriers and expeditionary forces signal that the dogs of war have been unleashed.
The most recent “hot” news is “Secret Bush “Finding” Widens War on Iran“, Andrew Cockburn, Counterpunch, 2 May 2008 — “Democrats Okay Funds for Covert Ops” Opening:
Six weeks ago, President Bush signed a secret finding authorizing a covert offensive against the Iranian regime that, according to those familiar with its contents, “unprecedented in its scope.”
Bush’s secret directive covers actions across a huge geographic area – from Lebanon to Afghanistan – but is also far more sweeping in the type of actions permitted under its guidelines – up to and including the assassination of targeted officials. This widened scope clears the way, for example, for full support for the military arm of Mujahedin-e Khalq, the cultish Iranian opposition group, despite its enduring position on the State Department’s list of terrorist groups.
This is terrifying but familiar. It reminds me of what we learned from “Hostile Intent” by Laura Rozen, the American Prospect web site, 12 January 2007 — “Just what is the Bush administration up to regarding Iran?” Excerpt:
Speculation is now intensifying: Has Bush signed a finding authorizing covert action on Iran? If so, what specifically does it say? Alternatively, has he authorized a more aggressive Iran strategy through a presidential directive that doesn’t explicitly require informing Congress — or the public — of action?
A finding is a formal notification to Congress of a presidentially authorized and signed covert action. They’re congressionally mandated, but there is a lot of wiggle room, depending on who interprets the law and particularly if the action is to be taken not by the CIA but by the U.S. military. (The law governing covert action and reporting requirements to Congress is covered by section 503 of the National Security Act.)
U.S. officials interviewed by the Prospect would not reveal whether they had been briefed on such a finding, or if one even exists. But there is evidence that, while Bush probably has not signed such a finding regarding Iran, he has recently done so regarding Iranian-supported Hezbollah in Lebanon; further, there is evidence that he may have signed an executive order or national security presidential directive regarding a new, more aggressive policy on Iran.
Of course nobody scoops Seymour M. Hirsch on these stories, even if they are imaginary. As we learned by reading “The coming wars“, The New Yorker, 24 January 2005 — Excerpt:
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. “Everyone is saying, ‘You can’t be serious about targeting Iran. Look at Iraq,’ ” the former intelligence official told me. “But they say, ‘We’ve got some lessons learned-not militarily, but how we did it politically. We’re not going to rely on agency pissants.’ No loose ends, and that’s why the C.I.A. is out of there.”
Other Posts on this topic
- War with Iran (9 November 2007)
- Is Iran dangerous, or a paper tiger? (13 November 2007)
- Will Israel commit suicide? More rumors of a strike at Iran. (22 December 2007)
- A 4GW puzzle: what happened in the Straits of Hormuz? (17 January 2008)
- Cable Cut Fever grips the conspiracy-hungry fringes of the web (7 February 2008)
- Resolution of the Great Submarine Cable Crisis – and some lessons learned (8 February 2008)
- Will we bomb Iran, now that Admiral Fallon is gone? (17 March 2008)
- More post-Fallon overheating: “6 signs the US may be headed for war in Iran” (18 March 2008)
- A militant America, ready for war with Iran (6 May 2008)