Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 17 June 1 - 7, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
Pentagon Eyes Massive Covert Attack on Iran
The ABC News
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The proposal, which
would include covert sponsorship of a group currently deemed terrorist by the
U.S. government, is not new, and has not won favor with enough top officials to
be acted upon.
But sources say it is a viable option that is getting a new look as the administration ramps up its rhetoric against Iran, and it is likely to be one of the top items on the agenda as high-level U.S. policymakers meet today to discuss how to deal with the Islamic republic.
The Pentagon's proposal includes using all available points of pressure on the Iranian regime, including backing armed Iranian dissidents and employing the services of the Mujahedeen e Khalq, a group currently branded as terrorist by the United States.
The MEK, which had
been primarily supported by Iraq and was responsible for numerous attacks inside
Iran, agreed after the Iraq war to a truce with U.S. forces.
specifically set aside a proposal to reconstitute the MEK under a different
banner and promote their armed incursions into Iran, much as the MEK had been
doing under Saddam. As the State Department insisted, and the White House
concurred, the MEK has been disarmed but their forces are still in place and
their weapons are in storage.
The State Department
argument was that MEK is on the terrorist list and any failure to disarm it
would be an act of hypocrisy, which was the same line taken by the Iranians in
confidential meetings that have been ongoing in Geneva, until the United States
recently cut them off.
The office of Doug
Feith, undersecretary for policy at the Department of Defense, argued that the
MEK has not targeted Americans since the 1970s, which is true, and was only put
on the terrorist list by the Clinton administration as a gesture to improve
relations with Iran.
The Pentagon argues
that the MEK is disciplined, well-trained, and an effective lever against the
ayatollahs, and could be renamed and placed under American clandestine guidance.
For the moment, this
proposal is blocked, but will be revisited as part of the greater proposal to
institute massive covert action against the ayatollahs.
This covert action
program, which has not been approved or even recommended by the so-called
deputies committee of Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, National Security
Council Deputy Steven Hadley and the deputy to the director of Central
Intelligence, would include intelligence collaboration with Iranian dissidents,
as well as lethal aid (i.e., guns and other military assistance to anti-Iranian
government elements, both inside and outside Iran).
The objective of the
Pentagon proposal to destabilize the Iranian government is based on the belief
that the religious hard-liners are opposed by the majority of the Iranian
population and any pressure would make them crack — a view that some analysts
The debate over Iran
comes after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday warned Iran against
meddling in Iraq, and presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer described the Islamic
republic's efforts to root al Qaeda leaders out of country as insufficient.
New accusations also
surfaced this week from an Iranian opposition group, the National Council of
Resistance of Iran, that the government has built a uranium-enrichment plant for
bomb materials, echoing existing charges from the United States.
Whether the Pentagon
proposal gets to the point of a covert action program is partly dependent on
Iranian responses to U.S. demands, such as turning over high-ranking al Qaeda
lieutenant Saif Al-Adel and closing down the alleged nuclear weapons program.
The State Department favors diplomatic and political pressure, utilizing the
International Atomic Energy Agency as one pressure point on the nuclear program.
Whether or not that
al Qaeda leaders will be handed over, as the United States formally requested
last week, depends on politics within Iran.
There is an apparent
debate under way in Iran between more hard-line elements led by Iran's supreme
leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, and moderates led by Iranian President Mohammad
Khatami seems to
argue that cooperation with the United States on al Qaeda is necessary, and that
Al-Adel should be turned over. The hard-liners apparently are using the issue of
protection of senior al Qaeda as a tool against the pragmatists who wish to
improve relations with the United States.
Some senior American
intelligence sources are optimistic that the issue can be resolved in the United
States' favor soon.
But the nuclear
issue remains, and U.S. officials are apparently divided on how imminent the
The Pentagon, and Vice President Dick Cheney, are said to believe that Iran may have all the means necessary to build a nuclear bomb without further foreign assistance, although CIA intelligence sources say their assessments are at variance with these assumptions. The intelligence agency apparently believes that Iran is trying to build a bomb, but that it still needs help for parts of the program.
May 29, 2003
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