Sy Hersh: Congress Is Funding Major Escalation in Secret Operations Against Iran

“No difference people! But fuck it,  don’t listen to reason… listen to that voice that makes you a complacent, subservient sucker.”

-F.F. 6/24/09

Obama Inauguration

 

Hersh reports on a secret Congress-approved plan for activities ranging from supporting dissident groups to spying on Iran’s nuclear program.

 

By Amy GoodmanDemocracy Now!. Posted July 1, 2008.

 

 

Congressional leaders agreed to a request from President Bush last year to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran aimed at destabilizing Iran’s leadership. This according to a new article by veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker magazine.

The operations were set out in a highly classified Presidential Finding signed by Bush which, by law, must be made known to Democratic and Republican House and Senate leaders and ranking members of the intelligence committees. The plan allowed up to $400 million in covert spending for activities ranging from supporting dissident groups to spying on Iran’s nuclear program.

According to Hersh, US Special Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq since last year. These have included seizing members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and taking them to Iraq for interrogation, and the pursuit of so-called “high-value targets” who may be captured or killed.

While covert operations against Iran are not new, Hersh writes that the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command, have now been significantly expanded.

Seymour Hersh is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist. He joinedDemocracy Now! from Washington DC.

Amy Goodman: Start off by talking about how you learned this information.

Seymour Hersh: Well, that stops me for a second. Here’s the problem with that question: the problem is this is all very classified, and let’s just say that in general, there are a lot of people that are very loyal to the United States — military people, people in special operations, people elsewhere in the Congress offices people in the Executive — who are increasingly being made anxious (and I think frightened is a fairly good word, too) about what this president and the vice-president may do in Iran. And so, it was from that quarter, I was able to learn that, The problem, the problem with the finding, and the problem with the whole story, and the complication is, that almost the last people it seems to me to know exactly what our special forces are doing, particularly the Joint Special Operations Command, which is a very elite unit whose mission essentially is — this is a separate unit of the Special Operations Command called JSOC — their unit is to go find and kill and capture if possible high-value targets anywhere in the world. The whole world’s a free fire zone for them. When they get into a place like Iran, where they are, the Congress isn’t told. So, Congress did approve — and the words were very careful: “up to” because the president wanted as much as that (we just don’t know how much he’s taken at this point) — four hundred million dollars for operations. And then they discover that the operations they approved may go way beyond what they think they were approving. It’s sort of like the end of democracy in a way. We don’t know what the government is doing. People on the inside don’t know what the government is doing. It was from this sort of collective angst that people began to talk to me about the operations.

Goodman: Can you talk about the Democratic-controlled Congress and what exactly it approved late last year?

Hersh: Late last year, at the time of the — as many in the audience will remember — the National Intelligence Estimate was made public, in late November/early December. And that was a document that — I don’t know why, but it’s been totally devalued by everybody, including all of the candidates. Both the two Democratic candidates during the primary and McCain kept on talking about Iran as if it were on the edge of being nuclear. What the NIE said, and it was a really very carefully done document, it said that since 2003, the evidence is clear that Iran has not pushed a weapons program. There is no evidence they’re actually seeking weapons, as they’ve been saying. And that’s what the NIE said at this same time as we all know this president, and the vice-president, and the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Advisor, and the Secretary of State, they’ve all disavowed it just as if it didn’t exist.

 

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