ANNALS OF NATIONAL SECURITY: Preparing the Battlefield, by Seymour M. Hersh

Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources……

Secretary of Defense Gates met with the Democratic caucus in the Senate. (Such meetings are held regularly.)

[Illustration caption: Operations outside the knowledge and control of commanders have eroded “the coherence of military strategy,” one general says.]

Gates warned of the consequences if the Bush Administration staged a preëmptive 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.)…

When it came to the Iraq war, Fallon said, “Did I bitch about some of the things that were being proposed? You bet. Some of them were very stupid.”

The Democratic leadership’s agreement to commit hundreds of millions of dollars for more secret operations in Iran was remarkable, given the general concerns of officials like Gates, Fallon, and many others. “The oversight process has not kept pace—it’s been coöpted” by the Administration, the person familiar with the contents of the Finding said. “The process is broken, and this is dangerous stuff we’re authorizing.”…

When I arrived at CENTCOM , the Iranians were funding every entity inside Iraq. It was in their interest to get us out, and so they decided to kill as many Americans as they could. And why not?

They didn’t know who’d come out aheadThey didn’t know who’d come out ahead, but they wanted us out. I decided that I couldn’t resolve the situation in Iraq without the neighborhood. To get this problem in Iraq solved, we had to somehow involve Iran and Syria. I had to work the neighborhood.”

Fallon told me that his focus had been not on the Iranian nuclear issue, or on regime change there, but on “putting out the fires in Iraq.” There were constant discussions in Washington and in the field about how to engage Iran and, on the subject of the bombing option, Fallon said, he believed that “it would happen only if the Iranians did something stupid.”

Fallon’s early retirement, however, appears to have been provoked not only by his negative comments about bombing Iran but also by his strong belief in the chain of command and his insistence on being informed about Special Operations in his area of responsibility. One of Fallon’s defenders is retired Marine General John J. (Jack) Sheehan, whose last assignment was as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command, where Fallon was a deputy. Last year, Sheehan rejected a White House offer to become the President’s “czar” for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “One of the reasons the White House selected Fallon for CENTCOM was that he’s known to be a strategic thinker and had demonstrated those skills in the Pacific,” Sheehan told me. (Fallon served as commander-in-chief of U.S. forces in the Pacific from 2005 to 2007.) “He was charged with coming up with an over-all coherent strategy for Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and, by law, the combatant commander is responsible for all military operations within his A.O.”—area of operations. “That was not happening,” Sheehan said. “When Fallon tried to make sense of all the overt and covert activity conducted by the military in his area of responsibility, a small group in the White House leadership shut him out.”……

Talking to Iran Is Our Best Option
(By Ivo Daalder and Philip Gordon, The Washington Post)

…. McCain's argument that talking to Iran would only embolden it ignores the fact that 7 1/2 years of refusing to do so have left Iran stronger and closer to a nuclear bomb. That argument, combined with McCain's claim that "there is only one thing worse than military action against Iran, and that is an Iran with a nuclear weapon," implies that if the current policy does not work, the only option will be to bomb Iran. While virtually no Europeans advocate bombing, some insist that Iran accept their objective — suspending uranium enrichment — before opening negotiations. The origin of this stance — Iran's refusal to abide by a previous agreement it had with Europe to suspend enrichment — is understandable, but it no longer makes sense. Normally, objectives are the subject of negotiations, not a precondition for them. There is no reason this case should be any different.

In fact, the Europeans are, for all intents and purposes, already negotiating with Iran. All of them, as well as the Russians and Chinese, have full diplomatic relations with Tehran. The Europeans have — together with Moscow and Beijing and on behalf of Washington — repeatedly presented Iran with a list of benefits it would receive if it agreed to suspend enrichment, and they have spent countless hours discussing these ideas with the Iranians.

The right approach now is to end the anomaly of the United States not sitting at the table and to abandon the fiction that this dialogue is not a negotiation. Does anyone think that the six-party talks involving North Korea could have made any progress if the United States had refused to participate ….

Number of abortions rising in Middle East, experts say: BEIRUT (LA Times)-

Unmarried and pregnant, Ranya gathered up her courage and confided to a friend that she was considering a drastic step: an illegal abortion.

She braced for criticism. But to her surprise, her friend disclosed that she had had one too.

Ranya asked another friend, who also said she'd had an abortion. And another gave her the phone number of a doctor in Beirut who would perform the procedure on the sly. The doctor used no anesthetic. The pain lingered for days, but the guilt engulfed her weeks later.

"It doesn't make me feel guilty because of Islam," said Ranya, 29, a short, brown-haired artist, struggling with her words. "It's a very complicated guilt to explain. I tend to philosophize things. I feel guilty in a weird way. It crosses my mind all the time."

Despite legal and religious restrictions against abortion in much of the Arab world, changing social values and economic realities as well as demographic shifts have contributed to an apparent increase in the number of the procedures in the Middle East.

"There's definitely an increase compared to 10 to 15 years ago," said Mohammed Graigaa, executive director of the Moroccan Assn. for Family Planning. "Abortion is much less of a taboo. It's much more visible. Doctors talk about it. Women talk about it. The moral values of people have changed."…

Comments (8)

Majhool said:

I see it coming.

June 30th, 2008, 7:10 am


Karim said:

Ya Majhool it’s time that these hypocrit turbaned Ayatollahs show us their slogans translated into reality ,30 years and they bomb us with amerika shaytan akbar wal mowt li israel.And what we have seen are only creation of sectarian militias in Lebanon,Yemen and Iraq ….who are like a fight column.
The iranian army nowadays is not stronger than the modern army that fought the iraqi army inherited from the shah …nowadays if you forget their fabricated propaganda and they lack the support of the iranian people.Iran is a country of minorities all their boundaries regions are inhabited by arabs,turkomans,azeris,baluchis,kurds ….Iran is very weak on the ground but their propaganda make noise and even the masses in the arab world discovered that the Iranian regime slogans are more empty words than facts.

June 30th, 2008, 11:23 pm


why-discuss said:

Karim, wishful thinking, wakeup.

Seymour Hersh On Covert Operations In Iran ( interview)
.. Iran is a factor of stability in Iraq…

Listen on NPR

June 30th, 2008, 11:41 pm


Karim said:

WHY DISCUSS,we will see ,ya3ni 30 years are enough ,it’s time to see some thing on the ground.But more likely it will be another je t’aime moi non plus.
WHY DISCUSS ,dont forget that in Iraq ,Iran is synonym of death squads ,badr brigades… ,i dont think that the destruction of Iraq is good for the arabs and bad for Israel.
And if you like the egyptian public opinion we have to believe more the iraqi public opinion because they are in the bath and it’s more accurate ,no ?

July 1st, 2008, 12:07 am


why-discuss said:

Did you listen to Seymour Hersch Interview?

The death squads in Iraq are mostly financed by Saudi Arabia and in Al Qaeda there is not a single shia or iranian.. 9/11 was executed by Saudis and egyptians, so please spare me the the demonization and the predictions about Iran as you sound more like an Israeli’s wishful thinking.
Iraq will be ruled mainly by Shias, whether you want it of not as they are the majority. Iran will continue to have strong influence there, something the Americans are realizing and accepting more everyday and that the sunnis Saudis, Jordanians and Egyptians have hard time swallowing. Iran has an embassy and investments in Iraq, Saudi and other arab countries have not yet dared have an embassy in Iraq, why? Is this the way to show a political presence in a “brotherly” country?

July 1st, 2008, 1:35 am


Karim said:

WHY,SEYMOUR is no more credible after his amateurish report on Fath al Islam and his very pro Iran ,Hizbollah stance.

WHY DISCUSS ,i dont know if the shias are a majority in Iraq,they could be 55% or also 45% but geographicaly for sure they are a majority in 30% of Iraqi territory and 50% Sunni and 20% Kurdish so if they are a majority ,it’s not overwhelming majority and in any case Iraq can not be ruled against the arab world or as an iranian regime proxy against the arab world.Dont forget that Iraqi Arab Mulim tribes are the relatives of the Syrians ,Jordanians and Saudis.BTW the educated shia iraqis are also a target for the hizbollahis of iraq and most of the iraqi shia doctors,engineers,writers have moved to the arab neighbor countries and those have no body to protect them.
I have iraqi shia relatives and in general iraqi shias are less Sunni haters than the lebanese shias and are well integrated in a Sunni urban context and we should not forget that the iraqi shia soldiers never betrayed Iraq during Iraq Iran war.
I dont see a Saudi hand in the Iraqi mess,you know that most of these militias who entered with the americans are the iraqi hizbollah style militias coming from Iran and the americans allowed them to take control of the security forces who covered the death squads…this is obvious for all….As for the arab embassies in Iraq ,i thought that you are an anti imperialistic activist and what would be your reaction if a foreigner country president had visited Lebanon when it was under Israeli occupation?This is what did Ahmadnajad when he visited the green zone under the protection of the great shaytan.It’s clear the americans offered Iraq to the iranian regime but their plan has failed thanks to the iraqi people resistance.

July 1st, 2008, 3:04 am


Alex said:

Karim, W_D

If everything else remained the same, but Iran was Sunni and Saudi Arabia was Shia … wouldn’t the above arguments be quite different?

The answer is yes.

How can we get religion out of politics?


I want to see Syria having excellent relations with both Iran and Saudi Arabia … the more friends the better.

Why do you want Syria to not be friends with the non-Arab non-Sunni Iran?

July 1st, 2008, 5:01 am


Karim said:

Alex,I have nothing against the iranians as people and i’m sure that you have iranian friends in Canada as i have many in Europe.

Here is another good one from the iranian regime propaganda machine.
Ahmadinejad Was Target of ‘X-ray plot’ in Rome
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the target of an “X-ray radiation plot” during his trip to Rome for the U.N. food summit earlier this month, the official IRNA news agency reported on Monday.
The news agency quoted Iran’s ambassador to Italy, Abolfazl Zohrehvand, as saying that the plot was to use extreme radiation in the place where Ahmadinejad was due to stay.

The diplomat spoke out after Ahmadinejad himself charged that he had been the target of an assassination plot during his landmark trip to Iraq in March and his aides spoke of a similar attempt in Rome.

“One day before Ahmadinejad’s trip, I checked and found out that the (security) X-ray machine set up in the place where he was staying gave off excessive radiation,” Zohrehvand said.

He said that the regular radiation level of such equipment in Italy was “300” but on this machine it had reached “800.”

He gave no indication of the units he was using but radiation is normally measured in millirems with the average American experiencing a total annual exposure of an average of 360, according to medical websites.

“First we suspected the machine was broken and after replacing it with another one it turned out that the radiation was controlled from another source,” the ambassador said.

“When the president entered this place, the radiation increased and exceeded ‘1,000’ so that the intensity of the radiation was completely felt inside the building,” he added.

The diplomat did not say if the place where Ahmadinejad was staying was a hotel or official residence.

Ahmadinejad said in mid-June that enemies had planned to kidnap and kill him in Iraq but the plot was foiled after the Iranian delegation changed their travel plans.

Some reformist newspapers openly ridiculed his suggestion, with one daily saying that if the Americans had wanted to kidnap him they would have done it during Ahmadinejad’s annual visit to the U.N. General Assembly in New York.(AFP)

Beirut, 30 Jun 08, 18:53

July 1st, 2008, 5:17 am


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