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Hersh: Cheney shadow government running covert operations against Iran through Saudis

Our friends, the autocoprophagic neocons, are still working tirelessly toward Clusterfuck-alypse Now in the Middle East. Hersh:

The Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

Ah. "Redirection..." Some might call it a "do over", but that would be harsh. "Redirection" meaning "what happened was exactly the opposite of what we said would happen":

From the Administration’s perspective, the most profound—and unintended—strategic consequence ["unintended" only if chaos is not the plan] of the Iraq war is the empowerment of Iran. ... To undermine Iran ... the U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Oh-kay. I'd always thought that Al Qaeda was the main threat, but I guess that's just post-9/11 thinking. And what does a DFH like me know anyhow?

The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.

Republicans just don't learn, do they? No oversight, no accountability, and another Iran-Contra in the making, with an "off-the-shelf" covert operations capability. Fuck, why don't we just make Ollie North head of the DOD and have done with it?

So guess who's in charge of the "redirection"?

Why, the Dark Lord himself:

The key players behind the redirection are Vice-President Dick Cheney, the deputy national-security adviser Elliott Abrams, the departing Ambassador to Iraq (and nominee for United Nations Ambassador), Zalmay Khalilzad, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national-security adviser. While Rice has been deeply involved in shaping the public policy, former and current officials said that the clandestine side has been guided by Cheney. (Cheney’s office and the White House declined to comment for this story; the Pentagon did not respond to specific queries but said, “The United States is not planning to go to war with Iran.”)

Say, I wonder Shooter's justifying all this with his whack constitutional theory that the Vice President isn't really a bucket of warm spit, but a fourth branch of governnment? (Who's funding Big Dick now?) Bet on it. Because, for the Republicans, what were the lessons learned from Iran-Contra?

Two decades ago, the Reagan Administration attempted to fund the Nicaraguan contras illegally, with the help of secret arms sales to Iran. Saudi money was involved in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, and a few of the players back then—notably Prince Bandar and Elliott Abrams—are involved in today’s dealings.

Iran-Contra was the subject of an informal “lessons learned” discussion two years ago among veterans of the scandal. Abrams led the discussion. One conclusion was that even though the program was eventually exposed, it had been possible to execute it without telling Congress. As to what the experience taught them, in terms of future covert operations, the participants found: “One, you can’t trust our friends. Two, the C.I.A. has got to be totally out of it. Three, you can’t trust the uniformed military, and four, it’s got to be run out of the Vice-President’s office”—a reference to Cheney’s role, the former senior intelligence official said.

And whatever's going on in Cheney's Barad Dur, it's too much even for John Negroponte to stomach:

I was subsequently told by the two government consultants and the former senior intelligence official that the echoes of Iran-Contra were a factor in Negroponte’s decision to resign from the National Intelligence directorship and accept a sub-Cabinet position of Deputy Secretary of State. (Negroponte declined to comment.)

The former senior intelligence official also told me that Negroponte did not want a repeat of his experience in the Reagan Administration, when he served as Ambassador to Honduras. “Negroponte said, ‘No way. I’m not going down that road again, with the N.S.C. running operations off the books, with no finding.’ ” (In the case of covert C.I.A. operations, the President must issue a written finding and inform Congress.) Negroponte stayed on as Deputy Secretary of State, he added, because “he believes he can influence the government in a positive way.”

Oh my fucking Gawd, the classic insider's delusion. Assuming he isn't a cog in some bizarre disinformational ploy, I could actually squeeze out maybe a milligram of pity for Negroponte on this one.

The government consultant said that Negroponte shared the White House’s policy goals but “wanted to do it by the book.” The Pentagon consultant also told me that “there was a sense at the senior-ranks level that Negroponte wasn’t fully on board with the more adventurous clandestine initiatives.

Good god. "More adventurous"? For the Bush administration? What kind of hare-brained scheme could possibly be too adventurous for the Bush administration?

It was also true, he said, that Negroponte “had problems with this Rube Goldberg policy contraption for fixing the Middle East.”

The Pentagon consultant added that one difficulty, in terms of oversight, was accounting for covert funds. “There are many, many pots of black money, scattered in many places and used all over the world on a variety of missions,” he said. The budgetary chaos in Iraq [so now we know why chaos was the plan!], where billions of dollars are unaccounted for, has made it a vehicle for such transactions, according to the former senior intelligence official and the retired four-star general.

So, sit back, enjoy the ride, and wait for the falsche Markierungsfahne! (False flag operation; Let's brush up on our Nazi jargon!):

Flynt Leverett, a former Bush Administration National Security Council official, told me that “there is nothing coincidental or ironic” about the new strategy with regard to Iraq. “The Administration is trying to make a case that Iran is more dangerous and more provocative than the Sunni insurgents to American interests in Iraq, when—if you look at the actual casualty numbers—the punishment inflicted on America by the Sunnis is greater by an order of magnitude,” Leverett said. “This is all part of the campaign of provocative steps to increase the pressure on Iran. The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and then the Administration will have an open door to strike at them.”

Splendid. More chaos. War without end. (And note well the willingness of a former administration official to actually be quoted by name. Things must be really bad.)

NOTE 1 Part of "making the case," as is natural with the Republicans, includes torture. No doubt this is part of the administration's plans for provocation as well:

The U.S. military also has arrested and interrogated [tortured] hundreds of Iranians in Iraq. “The word went out last August for the military to snatch as many Iranians in Iraq as they can,” a former senior intelligence official said. “They had five hundred locked up at one time. We’re working these guys [torturing them] and getting information from them. The White House goal is to build a case that the Iranians have been fomenting the insurgency and they’ve been doing it all along—that Iran is, in fact, supporting the killing of Americans.” The Pentagon consultant confirmed that hundreds of Iranians have been captured by American forces in recent months. But he told me that that total includes many Iranian humanitarian and aid workers who “get scooped up and released in a short time,” after they have been interrogated [tortured].

NOTE 2 The doubling-down is even more insane than we thought. Yet again, the administration has lowered the bar:

Martin Indyk, a senior State Department official in the Clinton Administration who also served as Ambassador to Israel, said that “the Middle East is heading into a serious Sunni-Shiite Cold War.” Indyk, who is the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, added that, in his opinion, it was not clear whether the White House was fully aware of the strategic implications of its new policy. “The White House is not just doubling the bet in Iraq,” he said. “It’s doubling the bet across the region. This could get very complicated. Everything is upside down.”

No shit, Sherlock. We're going to lose another city from this, mark my words. And the Republicans don't give a shit, because cities are blue, and therefore expendable.

UPDATE Welcome, Kos readers.

UPDATE C&L has the transcript of the CNN interview.

UPDATE Via Atrios, see Digby.

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chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

easily this country seems to be falling for the same song and dance. and truly, it's much more out in the open this time- not just voices in the wilderness but a mainstream population understands why attacking iran makes no sense whatsoever.

meanwhile- the democrats spend most of their time bickering with each other about why continuing to fund the war in iraq is the best 'support' our troops can get.

sigh. 10$/gal gas, here we come.

Hi Lambert,

Where in the world is Dick Cheney?

Oman of course!

"A U.S. embassy spokesman in Oman declined to detail Cheney's plans or the focus of his visit to the sparsely populated oil-producing state, which allows the United States use of four air bases. But an Omani government official said Cheney was to discuss regional security issues, including the U.S. standoff with Iran over its nuclear program. The official, in the capital Muscat, spoke on condition of anonymity because he was unauthorized to speak to the press."

And why Oman?

"Three Arab states in the Persian Gulf would be willing to allow the Israel Air force to enter their airspace in order to reach Iran in case of an attack on its nuclear facilities, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Siyasa reported on Sunday.

According to the report, a diplomat from one of the gulf states visiting Washington on Saturday said the three states, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, have told the United States that they would not object to Israel using their airspace, despite their fear of an Iranian response."

Meanwhile, Iraq's National Security Advisor is telling CNN that if the Iranians were meddling in Iraq, they've stopped.

Regards, C

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Sweet. The USA is using Saudi money to fund terrorists who blow-up inocent people in Iran.

By the way, THE NEWS IS FILLED WITH REPORTS ABOUT THE UPCOMING ATTACK ON IRAN now watch the Dem Politicans act all suprised and claim they knew nothing about the preparations for war. The Dem Politicaians are too frightened of being called Pacifists that they are busy ignoring the run up to the war and refusing to stop it.

Sorry, dudes. I've voted Dem all my life but I'm done. Not just this but all the other crap like not filibustering the TORTURE BILL and not filibustering Gonzalas who wrote the pro-TORTURE memos. Sorry, done. The "Uday is better than Qusay isn't working anymore. The Democratic Party is worthless.


kelley b's picture
Submitted by kelley b on

...the Middle East is heading into a serious Sunni-Shiite Cold War...

I think if it was a Cold war all the old timers, from Black Spot to the Consigliere, could go along with the policy.

This feels like a hot war ready to blow.

Darth Dick must be really worried, dreading the possibility of Special Prosecutors, scandal, and maybe even the Hague if he releases power in '08. This certainly reads like he's getting ready to bet it all on a throw of the dice for Iran. But I wonder if he's calculated these odds right.

Negroponte quite evidently took a step back away from the fire, which isn't like him. All this biz about him wanting to be nice and legal is disinformation. You don't tell people to throw nuns out of helicopters if you're worried about niceties like Law.

Negroponte is, however, quite possibly the most intelligent person walking through the White House these days. Black Spot is indifferent to legal but he likes his moves smart. The rest of the Company may not be real happy with Darth Dick. He's been a boon for the cash flow, but like his mentor Darth Rumsfeld, he's been a bit crude in the execution department.

When your zeal for ambition gets in the way of the flow of the money, it creates problems for the Company. They've grown accustomed to the current of the money river, and damming it for his own personal needs is bound to create a little resentment. Perhaps Darth Dick should avoid small planes, but it seems even the big Nazgul he flies have a tendency to develop mechanical problems these days...

No Hell below us
Above us, only sky

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Offspring just home from local gas station which is his place of employment and reports that when the late shift closes tonight the price sign will be flipped up 14 cents/gal.

I've been hearing reports around the comment threads for the last day or two of price hikes in the 10- cent-or-somewhat-higher range, but Sunday is the commonest day for hikes to be posted. Everybody does it at once it keeps any holdouts from getting an advantage I guess.

Not that I would accuse a worldwide oligopoly of price-fixing. Heavens no. Perish the thought.

This is on top of a 20 cent bump from the last low--right around the first of the year there were a couple of weeks when it was at $1.99. Right now it's at $2.19. Tomorrow it'll be at $2.33.

That's a hell of a jump in less than 2 months, donchathink? And they haven't even bothered to cook up a story for this one, like some recycled footage of a refinery fire or reports of unrest in Nigerian fields or somesuch. It has a certain "We don't care, we don't have to. We're THE OIL COMPANY" Lily Tomlinesqueness about it.

As I reviewed it early this morn, two ideas kept coming to the fore:

1) Bush is funding numerous terror organizations, including, probably, Al Qaeda.

2) The casus belli now exists for an immediate Congressional investigation as a prelude to impeachment. Not for high crimes and misdemeanors... for treason.