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Seymour Hersh claims new Bush regime covert ops against Iran

In the upcoming July 7 edition of the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh claims that the Bush regime has increased secret funding for clandestine operations in Iran. Read the article in full here; an accompanying article interview with Hersh is also featured (below – 7 minutes). *** See also Rebreaking the News: Two Months Later, Seymour Hersh Strains to Catch Up With CounterPunch by Alexander Cockburn for a critique of Hersh’s essay. ***

Hersh writes that while the funding was approved last year, the

scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded, according to the current and former officials. Many of these activities are not specified in the new Finding, and some congressional leaders have had serious questions about their nature.

Under federal law, a Presidential Finding, which is highly classified, must be issued when a covert intelligence operation gets under way and, at a minimum, must be made known to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and the Senate and to the ranking members of their respective intelligence committees—the so-called Gang of Eight. Money for the operation can then be reprogrammed from previous appropriations, as needed, by the relevant congressional committees, which also can be briefed.

“The Finding was focussed on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.” The Finding provided for a whole new range of activities in southern Iran and in the areas, in the east, where Baluchi political opposition is strong, he said.

Although some legislators were troubled by aspects of the Finding, and “there was a significant amount of high-level discussion” about it, according to the source familiar with it, the funding for the escalation was approved. In other words, some members of the Democratic leadership—Congress has been under Democratic control since the 2006 elections—were willing, in secret, to go along with the Administration in expanding covert activities directed at Iran, while the Party’s presumptive candidate for President, Barack Obama, has said that he favors direct talks and diplomacy.

A little more encouraging are the dissenters within the administration who question the strategic value of a “preemptive strike”:

A Democratic senator told me that, late last year, in an off-the-record lunch meeting, Secretary of Defense Gates met with the Democratic caucus in the Senate. (Such meetings are held regularly.) Gates warned of the consequences if the Bush Administration staged a preemptive strike on Iran, saying, as the senator recalled, “We’ll create generations of jihadists, and our grandchildren will be battling our enemies here in America.” Gates’s comments stunned the Democrats at the lunch, and another senator asked whether Gates was speaking for Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. Gates’s answer, the senator told me, was “Let’s just say that I’m here speaking for myself.” (A spokesman for Gates confirmed that he discussed the consequences of a strike at the meeting, but would not address what he said, other than to dispute the senator’s characterization.)

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose chairman is Admiral Mike Mullen, were “pushing back very hard” against White House pressure to undertake a military strike against Iran, the person familiar with the Finding told me. Similarly, a Pentagon consultant who is involved in the war on terror said that “at least ten senior flag and general officers, including combatant commanders”—the four-star officers who direct military operations around the world—“have weighed in on that issue.”

Read the article in full.

Addendum I: I am inclined to agree with the editorial comment at War in Context that “Time’s running out fast for Hersh to be vindicated on his perennial war-with-Iran warnings. In this case, I’d want to know what his sources meant when they used the word “conducting” — as in Special Ops forces have been conducting cross-border operations. At face value, that sounds like American troops sneaking into Iran. What it could mean is members of the MEK being given directives by Americans. The political risks involved in Iranians being caught by Iranians, is clearly much less than that of having US troops put on trial in Tehran.

9 comments on “Seymour Hersh claims new Bush regime covert ops against Iran

  1. Pingback: Bipartisan Covert War With Iran « Ten Percent

  2. Aaron
    30 June, 2008

    Dead man says: please don’t hate me, lets talk about it
    Killer: I want to kill you
    Dead man: but why, lets resolve our differences
    Killer: I really only want to kill you
    Dead man: please don’t kill me, lets talk about it
    Killer: OK, I’ll start, I want to kill you.


  3. peoplesgeography
    30 June, 2008

    Pretty fallacious reasoning, not to mention an inaccurate caricature and complete misrepresentation — we assume that in your mind Iran is put in the role of “killer”, when in fact it has not attacked another country in over two centuries, in contrast to the belligerent wars and warmongering of Israel.

    I advise you to read The myth of “diplomacy” with Iran as well as consider the following:

    Adapted from Krysstal

    Acts Committed by USA-UK on Iran (bold)
    Acts Committed by Iran on USA-UK

    1920s and 1930s
    * UK control of Iran’s oil.
    * UK pressure on the king of Iran to exclude other powers from development.

    * UK, USA and Russia occupy Iran and exile the king, placing his son on the throne.

    * Departure of foreign troops but no compensation as previously promised.

    * UK and USA remove democratically elected government and replace with dictator (The Shah of Iran).

    * USA sets up and trains Shah’s secret police, SAVAK.

    * Iran overthrows the Shah who flees to the USA.
    * After the USA refuses to return the Shah, Iran takes 52 USA embassy staff hostage for 444 days.

    * USA and UK arm Iraq when it invades Iran.
    * USA fails to back UN condemnation of invasion.

    * USA seizes Iranian ship in international waters.

    * USA bombs oil facilities in Iran.
    * USA warship shoots down Iranian passenger plane killing 286 people.

    * USA imposes sanctions on Iran.

    * USA threatens Iran with regime change

    * USA takes 5 Iranian diplomats hostage in Iraq. (Jan 2007 – ?)

    * USA considers designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a significant but semi-autonomous part of the Iranian armed forces, a “terrorist” organisation.
    * USA pressures European and Asian companies to apply economic boycotts and sanctions to squeeze Iran economically at Israel’s urging.
    * USA imposes sanctions on Iran’s military.

    * Iran captures 15 UK sailors in disputed wars and holds them for 13 days, releasing them after reasonable treatment.

    And lest we forget: Israeli neocons and treacherous dual citizens are urging a preemptive attack against Iran and have been doing so for the last half decade at least.


    Also worth checking out — recommended:

    * Chris Floyd, The Time of the Assassins: Bushists Stirring Iraq, Iran Into a Bloody Stew
    * Forever Under Construction’s Oh, One Last Thing: choice excerpt from Scott Ritter interview
    * Gareth Porter, US Tags Iran for Casualties from Its Own Attacks (IPS sub; Common Dreams)
    * J. L. Bryan’s parallel universe-history ‘If Iran Were America (And We Were Iran): A Timeline

    Related links at Reclaiming Space

    * Scott Ritter and Seymour Hersh on Iran (March 2007)
    * New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh on CNN (Feb)
    * US Neocons Growling On Iran (Feb)
    * Bushmert Hastening Doomsday Clock (Feb)
    * Iran, Israel, The Big Lie and the Real Threat (Feb)
    * Scott Ritter: Stop the Iran War Before It Starts (Jan)
    * Lest We Forget Who The Warmongers Are Re Iran (Jan)
    * Virginia Tilley: Stopping the March to War with Iran (Jan)
    * Iran’s President Did Not Say Israel Must Be “Wiped Off the Map” (Jan)
    * Neocon Zionazis desperately seeking war with Iran (Jan)
    * The case for Iran (Jan)
    * Iran, Israel and the UNSC: Press Picks (Dec 2006)

  4. Emmanuel
    1 July, 2008

    Aaron: your view of diplomacy is twisted and dangerous.


    “Israeli neocons and treacherous dual citizens are urging a preemptive attack against Iran and have been doing so for the last half decade at least”.

    Who are these treacherous dual citizens? The claim that the Jewish members of the Bush administration are Israeli citizens is false.

  5. peoplesgeography
    1 July, 2008

    There are many dual citizens in the United States and most of them are law-abiding. I personally support the principle of dual citizenship, though the case against it for high public office-holders is compelling.

    A number that we know of are however treacherous, and have been criminally investigated and sentenced such as Jonathan Jay Pollard (he was granted citizenship in 1995, which shows that criminality is no barrier to Israeli citizenship).

    Add to this former U.S. Army weapons engineer Ben-Ami Kadish who was arrested for passing secrets to Israel and lobbyists Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman who have been charged with espionage for receiving classified information from Lawrence Franklin, then a top Defense Department official and reportedly passing it on to an Israeli embassy employee. I recall reading both have pleaded guilty.

    A former CIA officer reports, “Between 55 and 95 other Israelis were also arrested in the weeks following 9/11, and a number were reported to be active-duty military personnel.” This figure is indicatory, I am not claiming in this case that they are all US as well as Israeli citizens.

    There was no claim made that the Jewish members of the Bush administration are Israeli dual citizens, though in my haste I may have left this open to be inferred. The above named dual and US citizens spying for the benefit of Israel has also included spying about Iran, most notably in the case of former AIPAC officials Rosen and Weissman. I’m sure you know what AIPAC’s position is on Iran and that it supports taking military action.

    Many of the Jewish neoconservatives, whose belligerent views are grossly unreflective of the core of American Jews, are however, in my and others opinions, and probably by their own admission, dual loyalists — in the most dangerous rather than benign sense in our reckoning. The invasion of Iraq is testament to that, and something the neocons aggressively pushed for over a number of years, as is the green light given to the prolonged Israeli attacks on Lebanon, and the sabre-rattling against Iran.* It also bears repeating for others that American Jewish neocon likudniks can be automatically granted citizenship under Israeli law.

    * Significantly, AIPAC has put out a memo on its support for the H.Con.Res.362, which calls for an economic blockade of Iran and represents a dangerous escalation, tantamount to a declaration of war. As detailed in the second half of this article, while the memo does not specifically mention the proposed legislation, “it contains almost identical language“.

    This state of affairs is increasingly becoming a two way street, with hawkish Jewish Americans being accused of meddling in Israeli affairs and inappropriately trying to influence the political process, such as in the case of Sheldon Adelson (see also the New Yorker)

    Further reading:
    * Israel Might Have Many More Spies Here, Officials Say – Jeff Stein (CQ Politics, 28 April 2008)
    *Pollard’s Ghost: Latest arrest exposes Israel’s fifth column in the U.S. – Justin Raimondo (, 25 April 2008)
    * Israel Is Spying In And On The U.S.? – now withdrawn Fox News Report, videos. Parts One, Two, Three, Four.

  6. Emmanuel
    1 July, 2008

    It also bears repeating for others that American Jewish neocon likudniks can be automatically granted citizenship under Israeli law.

    No, this is quite irrelevant, since the vast majority of Jewish neocons have never considered moving to Israel (besides, American Jewish liberals who oppose the use of force can also be granted automatic citizenship). There are many more Christian neocons than there are Jewish neocons. Most of them, Jews and Gentiles, thought this is in the best interest of the United States. They didn’t intentionally endanger the US for Israel’s sake (though they ended up endangering both countries). Maybe it is just easier to blame the Jews and Israel for everything.

    Every country spies on every other country. As a dual citizen of Israel and the United States myself, I’d rather that my two countries stop spying on each other. Americans who spy for Israel should be sent to jail for the rest of their lives.

    Leaking confidential US documents to Israel isn’t the same as pushing for a war with Iran or Iraq. Feeding American intelligence agencies false (or sometimes even factual) information would qualify as pushing for war. What Ben-Ami Kadish and the two AIPAC officials are accused of doing can’t be seen as urging a strike.

    Since it is mostly members of the administration or other advisors who are urging the war and not the spies, you certainly seem to be implying that they are dual citizens. The Israeli Manchurian Candidates. I’m sure you’re familiar with the false claims, abundant on the Internet, that people like Paul Wolfowitz, Dov Zakheim and Richard Pearl are actually Israeli citizens.

    By the way, as far as I can tell, the only person you’ve mentioned who has dual citizenship is Jonathan Pollard, and he’s an outright spy (actually getting Israel citizenship for spying for Israel, which I wouldn’t have granted him if it were up to me). Where are all these other treacherous dual citizens?

  7. peoplesgeography
    2 July, 2008

    I’d say you have no idea whether the vast majority of Jewish neocons have “never considered moving to Israel”, unless you are privy to their thoughts and desires. I think it is supremely relevant that they can claim automatic citizenship while the indigenous inhabitants of the land are denied re-entry and whose lives are made hellish by the brutal Israeli regime.

    While most countries might conduct spying operations, I tend to agree with Giraldi: “But the intensity and persistence of Israeli spying against the United States is particularly disturbing since Israel relies so heavily on American political and military support. Other allies like Britain, France, and Germany undoubtedly have spies in Washington, but there is a line that they do not cross.” The shocking USS Liberty incident is another example of the line being crossed.

    I subsequently made two separate arguments, after acknowledging the imprecision of my hasty ‘dual citizen’ tag (yes I am aware of the dual citizen claims on the web that have no proof, and again no claim was explicitly made here about Bush administration Jews being dual citizens. I qualify this by still asserting they have dual loyalties. The Jewish American spies mentioned were not even Israeli (dual) citizens when convicted, this does not exactly work against my argument or the concerns I posit now, does it? They betrayed their own government even without Israeli citizenship granted. Another is criminal fugitive Marc Rich who was pardoned by the Clinton administration. I’m pretty certain I remember reading he now travels on an Israeli and yet another national passport. Please do correct me if you happen to know otherwise. And yes, this is separate from the second argument about those actively advocating strikes against Iran, which is the Israeli’s government’s position, or key sections/ personages therein.

    There are however some connective links: these two convicted AIPAC officials work for an organisation that is actively calling for a strike against Iran, whether or not they individually did so is not certain, institutionally the assertion is still valid. Whether their espionage is directly connected or not I can not claim since the full details of the case are likely not available. Nevertheless it can not be ignored that they were important officials in a group who *is* urging military action.

    “Maybe it is just easier to blame the Jews and Israel for everything.” No, the culpability takes us where the trail leads, it is not a matter of convenience, nor a matter of discrimination. One could easily claim it is just easier to level that (veiled) charge. Regarding the religious background of the recognised neocons, I would also dispute the claim that there are many more Christian Zionist ideologues. The neocons were spearheaded and driven by a core of Jewish American hardliners, and make up at around half the number of the core neocons.

  8. Emmanuel
    2 July, 2008

    I think it is supremely relevant that they can claim automatic citizenship while the indigenous inhabitants of the land are denied re-entry and whose lives are made hellish by the brutal Israeli regime.

    That’s relevant to the whole right of return debate, not to the question of whether or not Jews are the driving force behind US foreign policy. Just like I don’t know for certain whether they ever considered immigrating to Israel, you have no idea either. Since they have very comfortable lives in the States and important positions, it is safe to say they probably won’t be making Aliyah.

    I don’t support Israeli spying on the US, especially not the use of Jewish Americans as spies. Firstly, exactly because the US is Israel’s greatest ally. Secondly, because of the fear of anti-Semitism. A handful of Jewish spies can make all Jewish Americans suspect in the eyes of other Americans. The most it can do is what’s considered “acceptable spying”. They say any embassy’s military attache is actually the top spy in the country. They should stick to that kind of stuff. Lately, by the way, it seems Israel has largely adhered to that. Even Ben-Ami Kadish was arrested for something he allegedly did in the 80’s.

    The USS Liberty incident happened 41 years ago, and both Israel and the United States say it was an accident. Some think this was an Israeli attempt to drag the US into the war. It isn’t a cut and dried example of Israel crossing the line.

    Just because AIPAC supports a hard line toward Iran (sanctions at this stage, by the way – a strike only as a last resort. At least if its stance is the same as Israel’s) doesn’t mean it is treacherous. Most members of AIPAC support what they think is in the best intersts of both Israel and the United States.

    […] these two convicted AIPAC officials […]

    For the record: Larry Franklin, the only person convicted in the AIPAC scandal so far, neither worked for AIPAC nor was Jewish. Rosen and Weissman, the AIPAC officials, have been indicted but their trial isn’t over yet.

  9. peoplesgeography
    2 July, 2008

    question of whether or not Jews are the driving force behind US foreign policy

    Let’s be clear lest we start carelessly saying “the Jews” by default, particularly since you mentioned a fear of discrimination or anti-Judaism (a more accurate term than anti-Semitism, since most Jews today are not Semites). The majority of American Jews do not share the Jewish and Christian neocons’s views. I am not saying “the Jews” are the driving force of US foreign policy, I am seeing that currently, the neocons are, and they are dominated by the views of neocon American Jews whom have a decidedly likudnik world view that has been directly responsible for getting the US into the Iraq war and for its actions against Iran.

    Also, I advocate the value of understanding policy and political behaviour through its interrelatedness, one can not simply see it in discrete chunks, semantically and operationally cut off from other policies. In the larger scheme of things, the Israeli Law of Return is a big part of the problem and the conflict. I inserted it to remind readers of this fact, as stated. Is it directly related to the above argument about neocons? Perhaps not to this specific argument, and I didn’t explicitly make that claim and I’d like to think we are capable of carrying on more than a one-track argument. Perhaps this simply reflects our styles. You tend to want to contain your arguments and argue one thing at a time, whereas I will branch out or pitch it at the big picture scale. Neither is better or worse, just different approaches.

    Nor was it claimed that Larry Franklin worked for AIPAC. I stated that he was (at the time) a top Defense Department official.

    The USS Liberty incident was not an accident according to the Marines involved who witnessed what happened, which to my mind carries far more weight than official anodyne government statements.

    Most members of AIPAC support what they think is in the best interests of both Israel and the United States.

    The operative phrase being “what they think”, which is increasingly being challenged, as represented by Walt and Mearsheimer’s arguments who are rightly questioning the propagated confluence of two separate countries’ interests. The argument is that AIPAC members are misguided, not malevolent, though I’m not sure we can see that with the same confidence about their neocon leaders. Americans are rightly concerned that their young men and women do not continue to be sent to die for wars that have been disasters for the US and that have benefited nought but Israeli regional supremacy and private contractors. And the arms manufacturers. The merchants of death are always beneficiaries of wars.

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This entry was posted on 30 June, 2008 by in Empire, War and Terror, Hegemon-watch, Iran, US Foreign Policy, USA and tagged .

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