The United States has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran to help identify potential nuclear, chemical and missile targets, The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday.Given all the flapping of arms and pronouncements of incompetence of the pre-9/11 intelligence gathering and over the WMD flail in Iraq, I sure as hell would hope the U.S. is doing some serious intel work in Iran.
The article, by award-winning reporter Seymour Hersh, said the secret missions have been going on at least since last summer with the goal of identifying target information for three dozen or more suspected sites.
Hersh quotes one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon (news - web sites) as saying, "The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible."
Remember, Iran is developing nuclear weapons and the missile systems to deliver them and is not a friend of the U.S. (or many other people either, unless North Korea floats your boat in the friendship world). And, golly gee whiz, using another unnamed consultant to bolster your case that the U.S. has "civilians" in the Pentagon who want some of Iran's "military infrastructure" destroyed is pretty lame. I am not in the Pentagon, I am a civilian (although I did spend some time in the military) and I am concerned about the offensive military capability of Iran and I wouldn't mind seeing it's missiles and nukes vanish, either. And you don't need a "consultant" to learn that.In fact, I think you'd have to be some sort of fool not to be concerned about what Iran is up to...Oops -I suppose I just revealed my opinion of Seymour Hersh and his fan club.
From an earlier post here's a missile box showing the range of one of the missiles (Shahab-3) Iran is working on:
(Hat tip: Little Green Footballs)
Update: This post was assembled in pieces from three different computers as a result it was posted in several iterations. Sorry for any problems that may have caused.
Update2: You can read The New Yorker piece here. It's chock full of gems:
Despite the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, the Bush Administration has not reconsidered its basic long-range policy goal in the Middle East: the establishment of democracy throughout the region.and
“This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah—we’ve got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.”and
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.and
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.)
Getting such evidence is a pressing concern for the Bush Administration. The former high-level intelligence official told me, “They don’t want to make any W.M.D. intelligence mistakes, as in Iraq. The Republicans can’t have two of those. There’s no education in the second kick of a mule.”Actually all of this makes perfect sense to me and the administration has been perfectly clear on who it views as being part of the "Axis of Evil" - so no one should be shocked to find that the grown-ups in charge are actually following up on what they said they would do, including fighting a Global War on Terrorism. As far as the Hersh article goes, there's a lot more alarmist blather in it, but I've had my fill. Read it yourself and draw your own conclusions.
Update3: Pentagon response to Hersh here.
Instead, he said, Hersh's sources fed him "rumor, innuendo, and assertions about meetings that never happened, programs that do not exist and statements by officials that were never made."Hmmm. "Rumor" and "innuendo" - hmmm.
Update4: Read the whole Pentagon response here. (Hat tip: Counter Terrorism Blog)