Archive for the ‘seymour hersh’ Category
from Common Dreams
George W. Bush is poised to order a massive aerial bombardment — possibly including tactical nuclear weapons – of up to 10,000 targets in Iran. The attack would be justified on grounds that Iran is interfering with U.S. efforts in Iraq and that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, a charge that was debunked last fall in the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE).
According to international experts, the U.S. declared economic war against Iran on March 20. On that day, the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) called on the world’s financial institutions to stop doing business with Iran, making it much more difficult for Iran to engage in global commerce.
President George W. Bush has given the Israeli military the go-ahead to prepare for an imminent attack on Iran. Israel is also using U.S. bases in Iraq to prepare for the attack.
Actions on Aug. 2
The British Sunday Times of July 13 reported: “Despite the opposition of his own generals and widespread skepticism that America is ready to risk the military, political and economic consequences of an airborne strike on Iran, the president has given an ‘amber light’ to an Israeli plan to attack Iran’s main nuclear sites with long-range bombing sorties, [a Pentagon] official told The Sunday Times.
“‘Amber means get on with your preparations, stand by for immediate attack and tell us when you’re ready,’ the official said. But the Israelis have also been told that they can expect no help from American forces and will not be able to use U.S. military bases in Iraq for logistical support.”
No U.S. support? The Jerusalem Post reported on the same day: “On Friday, sources in the Iraqi Defense Ministry told a local news network that IAF [Israeli Air Force] war planes were practicing in Iraqi airspace and were landing on U.S. airbases in the country as a preparation for a potential strike on Iran.”
Once again the most powerful forces of U.S. corporate power—the military-industrial-petroleum complex—are using Israel as their proxy to threaten war on surrounding countries in the region. Israel is armed, financed and politically and diplomatically supported by Washington. It cannot act on its own or without explicit permission from Washington.
At the same time that the White House is giving the Zionist military a go-ahead to bomb Iran, the U.S. Congress is moving ahead to escalate tensions in the region and possibly provoke an incident that would “justify” U.S. military action. House Resolution 362 and Senate Resolution 580 both require that the president begin a blockade of Iran.
The House resolution “demands” that the president impose “stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains and cargo entering or departing Iran.” Enforcing this would require a U.S. naval blockade of the Straits of Hormuz, which is an act of war according to international law. Approximately one-fourth of the world’s oil, including that from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, passes through the Straits of Hormuz, which are 21 miles wide at their narrowest point.
These two resolutions have received widespread bipartisan support from members of both houses of Congress, and are expected to pass without debate or vote. A staffer in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office said that once the House resolution hits the floor, it will “pass like a hot knife through butter.” Some have speculated that the bill will be put on the floor “under suspension”—meaning it will pass without even a vote.
Both resolutions accuse Iran of developing nuclear weapons, despite the fact that Washington’s National Intelligence Estimate report last December made it clear that every major U.S. intelligence agency believes Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.
Nor do the resolutions refer to the real nuclear threat in the region: the U.S., the only country that has used nuclear weapons and currently has a massive nuclear-armed naval armada in the region. It also does not mention the apartheid settler state of Israel, which is thought to have at least 200 nuclear weapons.
At the same time, two leading senators announced on July 15 that they had reached a bipartisan agreement to expand economic sanctions targeting Iran. Senators Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), chair of the Senate Banking Committee, and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) called Iran “a threat to U.S. interests.” Dodd, a former candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for president, said: “This bipartisan bill strengthens economic sanctions against Iran, and authorizes divestment from companies that do business with Iran’s key oil sector.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. is involved in “covert operations”—acts of terrorism—inside Iran. In the July 7 New Yorker, Seymour Hersh revealed that Congress has approved $400 million to fund covert operations in Iran. These operations include providing support to armed groups opposed to the Iranian government, kidnapping members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and taking them across the border to Iraq for interrogation, the manipulation of Iran’s currency, and other acts intended to destabilize the regime.
Hersh reports that these types of operations have been ongoing at least since last year, but the recent congressional appropriation signals a significant expansion of these actions.
It is clear that the Bush administration is determined to push forward with its agenda of endless war to control the oil reserves of the Middle East. It is equally clear that members of Congress—both Democrats and Republicans—are on board, just as they collaborated in authorizing the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
It is imperative that progressive activists and organizations, particularly in the U.S., mobilize to stop another brutal war and demand an end to the illegal sanctions and covert operations targeting Iran.
Stop War on Iran, an international grassroots campaign, has issued an Emergency Call for protests, marches and other actions on the weekend of Aug. 2. Local organizers are planning events in more than 50 cities, including Los Angeles, Tucson, San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Jersey City, Albuquerque, Buffalo, New York, Charlotte, Raleigh/Durham, Cleveland, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Houston, Salt Lake City, Virginia Beach, Washington and more. An updated list is available at http://www.StopWarOnIran.org.
Now is the time to take to the streets. Only a massive grassroots mobilization can stop another bloody and illegal war. To get involved, or for more information, see http://www.StopWarOnIran.org.
What is the significance of the widely publicized announcement that the Bush administration has finally agreed to talk to Iran?
Have U.S. aircraft carriers, nuclear-armed and powered submarines, destroyers or missiles been pulled back from Iran’s coast? Has Washington renounced its years of sabotage, assassinations and other covert actions inside Iran? Will any of the many sanctions imposed to constrict Iran’s development be lifted or even eased?
On July 19 Undersecretary of State William Burns sat in on a six-nation gathering in Geneva and “observed” nuclear negotiations between Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili and Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. The talks are scheduled to resume in August, but Burns will not return for them. The one-time presence of this third-ranking diplomat is supposedly enough to show that Washington has made an effort at a diplomatic solution.
U.S. participation in the meeting came after increasingly frantic appeals from European powers and from the feudal and military regimes in the Persian Gulf region for diplomacy rather than war. They fear the destabilizing consequences of another U.S. attack. Even in top circles of the U.S. ruling class and military command, concern has been expressed about the risks and dangers of a new war.
Following his appearance at the Geneva meeting, Burns and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met in Abu Dhabi with foreign ministers and senior officials of the six Gulf states, along with Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. At the meeting Rice warned that Iran had two weeks to halt its development of nuclear energy or face further “punitive measures.” Iran will also be the main topic at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers the following day.
Washington says its possible next step is to push for an intense level of international sanctions in the U.N. Security Council. If council members don’t go along with its demands, the U.S. is threatening military action.
To reinforce the threat, Rice’s statement was immediately followed by an announcement from Israeli military adviser Amos Gilad that Israel was preparing to attack Iran if diplomacy failed—and that the U.S. would not veto such action.
Although Burns sat in on the Geneva meeting, the U.S. did not give its agreement to a European proposal that, in exchange for an Iranian “freeze” on its enrichment of uranium, a six-week “freeze” be put on more restrictive sanctions against Iran. Lifting the existing sanctions was not even proposed.
U.S. sanctions have been imposed on Iran since the 1978 Iranian Revolution. Soon after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the U.N. Security Council imposed three new rounds of sanctions on Iran. Now Washington is demanding new and far harsher sanctions—despite International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) reports that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program and a similar conclusion in the National Intelligence Estimate report of December 2007, endorsed by the 17 top U.S. spy agencies.
Iran has every right under international law and treaties to develop nuclear energy for civilian purposes. Its nuclear power plants are all under the inspection and safeguards of the IAEA. The IAEA has continually said that there has been no illicit diversion of declared nuclear material.
It is now clear that the State Department’s one-day venture into talks with Iran was merely positioning by Washington to get its allies to agree on far harsher economic sanctions and other efforts to sabotage Iran’s national development.
Iran’s real crime
Iran has a severe energy shortage. Although it is the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, its ability to refine crude oil into gasoline and diesel fuel is limited. As a country with a history of underdevelopment, Iran must import more than half its refined petroleum products to fuel its new industries and a modern transportation system. Iran is now the second-largest importer of gasoline and diesel fuel in the world. (Toronto Globe and Mail, July 22)
A bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products and imposing “stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran.” This would amount to a blockade—an act of war—and a threat to Iran’s sovereignty. It is also an example of how U.S. policy is aimed at keeping resource-rich countries underdeveloped and under its control.
At the same time that the U.S. is trying to cripple Iran’s economy, supposedly over its nuclear program, it is pursuing a deal with India to provide it nuclear fuel and technology. India is not yet a signer of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or a member of the IAEA. Iran is both.
Iran’s real crime, in the eyes of the Pentagon and the corporate oil giants who determine U.S. policy, is that it is determined to use its resources for the further development of its own economy. The other oil-producing states in the region are corrupt semi-feudal regimes, each with a compliant and dependent ruling class. These regimes are under the total control of U.S. corporations and banks. The largest portion of their vast revenue from oil sales is wasted in purchases of U.S. weapons systems or invested in U.S. banks.
Millions of Iranian people participated in the 1978 revolution that overthrew the corrupt U.S.-backed shah. Since then, great social advances have transformed Iran. Once the people liberated their oil resources from the control of giant U.S. and British corporations, billions of dollars were available to develop Iranian industries and social services.
In less than two decades, Iran moved from 90 percent illiteracy for rural women to full literacy; more than half the university graduates are now women. Stunning improvements in totally free as well as subsidized health care meant record-breaking improvements in life expectancy, birth control and infant mortality. Even according to World Bank figures, Iran has exceeded the social gains of any other country in the region.
This is what U.S. policy makers are determined to reverse. They want control of the vast wealth that comes from every aspect of exploration, pumping, transport and refining of the planet’s most valuable and needed resource. They are willing to destroy millions of lives and spend hundreds of billions of dollars on war in this struggle.
Past history of U.S. talks
It is important to recall the many rounds of talks between U.S. and Iraqi delegations before the war. The U.S. repeatedly demanded the authority to carry out inspections in Iraq any time, any place, to search for non-existent “weapons of mass destruction.” Just before the Pentagon attack, there was the heaviest round of diplomatic talks involving Iraq, members of the U.N. Security Council and Washington’s European allies. The talks were aimed at imposing still stricter sanctions, supposedly to gain Iraq’s total disarmament. This was years after U.N. inspectors had declared Iraq fully disarmed.
It is also important to remember the U.S./NATO “peace talks” with the Yugoslav government in Rambouillet, France. U.S. negotiators gave Yugoslavia an ultimatum: accept total U.S./NATO military occupation and dismemberment or face massive bombardment. When the Parliament of the Yugoslav Federation voted overwhelmingly to refuse the NATO “peace” demand of occupation of their sovereign territory, the Pentagon began 72 days of massive bombardment followed by the NATO seizure of Kosovo.
The U.S. conducted five years of “peace negotiations” with theVietnamese while escalating its bombardment, including carpet bombing.
Secretary of State Rice has announced the U.S. is considering the establishment of an “interests section” in Tehran and compared it to the interests section that the U.S. has maintained for decades in Cuba. “We have an interests section in Cuba, so I wouldn’t read thawing of relations into anything,” she said. Throughout the decades that Washington has maintained an interests section in Havana, the blockade of Cuba, sabotage and attempted assassinations of Cuban leaders have continued.
U.S. “talks” are too often preparation for the next stage of war. It is important for the movement on a global scale to remain on the alert and to understand that U.S. imperialism’s aims and plans have not changed.
Those red-blooded investors–perhaps speculators positioned to profit from oil prices going even higher and maybe spoiling for a conflict with Iran–should consider U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s comment on the consequences of a U.S. strike against Iran.
“We’ll create generation of jihadists, and our grandchildren will be battling our enemies here in America,” Gates told the Democratic caucus at a Senate luncheon, according to a participant.
‘We’ll create generation of jihadists, and our grandchildren will be battling our enemies here in America,” he told the Democratic caucus at a Senate luncheon, according to a participant. A U.S. strike against Iran might seem unlikely, but Vice President Dick Cheney is in hot pursuit of a “casus belli” to start hostilities, according to an article carried in the July 7 issue of the New Yorker magazine released yesterday.
reposted from Alternet:
By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
Posted on July 1, 2008, Printed on July 9, 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. full article here
rom Democracy Now:
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, 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 leaders. The plan allowed up to $400 million in covert spending for activities ranging from supporting dissident groups to spying on Iran’s nuclear program. Hersh joins us from Washington DC. Listen here