image of Sy Hersh.
It has been difficult to sort out to discern the intent of the Bush administration regarding Iran. Or more correctly, perhaps, it has been difficult for most of America to admit to the ugly truth, to believe that Bush will actually attack a country which is no real military threat to the US. It seems particularly hard to believe because such an attack would so closely resemble the now discredited 2003 invasion of Iraq. The American public justifiably but incorrectly seems to believe that Bush, the Congress, and the media would have learned their lesson. But, almost unbelievably, it is becoming clear that history will repeat itself. The lies, the secrecy, the dissembling, the cooperation of the mass media, the parsing of Bush and his spokespeople (many of whom remain anonymous) have followed the same pattern that we saw in 2002 and 2003, making a determined, daily, (though feeble) case for military action against Iran, while denying that such a strike is coming. Today’s “anonymous press release” from the Pentagon conjures up a distinct taste of the fraudulent Gulf of Tonkin action used to justify our real entry into the Vietnam War.
Iranian patrol boats have increased attempts in the last week to assess defenses near Iraqi offshore oil terminals, U.S. military officials said Monday.
The officials — who said they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter –– said that the United States does not see the Iranian moves as aggressive or provocative. The assessment is that the probes are part of an Iranian effort to raise its military presence in the gulf.
On at least two days, Iranian patrol boats crossed into Iraqi waters at the northern end of the Persian Gulf, the officials said.
The boats stayed inside Iraqi waters for several minutes before Iraqi security forces told them to leave. The Iranian boats did not approach the oil terminals.
Iraqi security forces recently took over the main responsibility for guarding the terminals, although U.S. naval forces remain nearby.
A senior U.S. Navy officer said he thinks Iran is trying to see what response its actions get from Iraqi and U.S. naval forces. …
The U.S. Navy has encountered Iranian ships and small fishing vessels in several cases, but there have been no hostilities, the officer said.
The intelligence assessment is that in many cases the Iranians are watching the U.S. Navy to see how it operates. [??? this is intelligence?] The officer confirmed to CNN that the Navy has increased its security precautions when dealing with Iranian entities on the water to ensure there are no miscommunications or miscalculations.
It’s time to pay attention. It’s time to realize that Bush is going to do it, that the United States is going to launch a massive air attack against another sovereign country, killing hundreds or thousands of innocent people, dragging our country through the mud again, condemning us and our children to more world wide hatred, under some flimsy excuse. He’s not trying to pressure Iran to act nice; quite the opposite; he’s drumming up excuses to attack. The evidence and credible sources can no longer be ignored/denied. I have posted several stories in this issue, here, and here, for example. Bush is not just trying to pressure Iran into some change of course on its nuclear program, nor is he acting to protect our troops in Iraq from some alleged Iranian sourced weapons.
From several sources, it appears that the attack will commence sometime between mid March and the end of April. I have arbitrarily decided to approximate the date as March 29, and have started a 40 day countdown to that date. Each day I will post a story on some aspect of this tragic and misguided adventure. I will begin with the evidence that has convinced me that the attack is going forward, and go on to discuss targets, methods, consequences both short and long-term, drawing on both previously published material and new developments.
It is my hope that this series might inform a few people and encourage others to take up the fight to stop this atrocity. I am not optimistic, but if enough Americans make their voices heard, the Congress may get the message that we elected them to stop this kind of thing. I will try to provide as much contact information as possible for legislators, newspapers, television, etc, so that anyone who shares my concerns can easily launch their own campaign. For example: you can use this to find contact information for your Senators.
I choose to begin this series with an account of a recent talk by Seymour Hersh, who first reported on this issue in the New Yorker, April 17, 2006.. He has been speaking around the country on the Bush administration’s plans to attack Iran.
The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh closed out last week’s symposium “The ‘War on Terrorism’: Where Do We Stand” with a scathing critique of President George W. Bush and his foreign policy in the Middle East.”The fact of the matter is we have a government that will do what it wants to do for the next two years,” he said. “The worst is yet to come. It’s sort of like we’re essentially powerless [and] just play it out.”
One of the premier names in American investigative reporting, Hersh won the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the 1968 My Lai massacre and helped break the story about U.S. prison abuses at Abu Ghraib in 2004. He previously spoke about Iraq at Tufts in 2004 and about the Iran-Contra Affair in 1988.
On Friday, Hersh spoke at length about the administration’s ambitions to cope with the threat of a nuclear Iran, drawing from his research for “The Iran Plans: Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb,” published in the New Yorker on April 17, 2006.
He said that Bush and top aides have largely ignored the military intelligence presented to them on Iran’s nuclear program.
“Whatever Iran has, they’ve shown us, they’ve showed the I.A.E.A. [International Atomic Energy Agency],” he said.
The article alleged – almost wholly through anonymous sources within the government – that the United States had begun formulating plans for an air strike against Iranian nuclear facilities and has even been considering a nuclear first strike, claims that the administration has denied.
“It may come down to the president making an order that the military will object to,” Hersh said. “It would be devastating, but it may come down to it. My fear is that he will do what he wants.”
At the same time, however, he said their belief in the mission is sincere.
“What [the White House is] doing now is not about the region, it’s about us, protecting America. They really believe it. They say, ‘We’re protecting you, we’re doing this for you,'” Hersh said.
He alleged that Bush sees his mission as timely and crucial even though international sources estimate that Iran is years away from developing a nuclear bomb.
Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the I.A.E.A., said on Friday that Iran is three to eight years away from being able to build an atomic bomb, according to the Agence France-Presse.
“He’s a total radical, probably the most radical president we’ve ever had in terms of his definition of the power of the presidency,” he said. “There’s nothing more dangerous than a radical who doesn’t have information, doesn’t learn from information and doesn’t learn from the past.”
This radicalism, he said, has dangerous implications. “This is a guy who wants to leave office with the Iranian books clean,” he said of Bush.
“None of this means it’s going to happen,” he told the hushed audience. “It could be better under [current Secretary of Defense Robert] Gates, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
Hersh said that not even negative press coverage has slowed the administration. “They couldn’t care less about what we write. They’re immune, inured to what The New York Times can write, what The New Yorker can write,” he said.
Still, with hindsight on the war, he said the fourth estate should have pushed the administration harder on the intelligence concerning Iraq. “We in the press really failed you,” he said. “We’ve missed the moral story. We all missed it.”
During his remarks, Hersh was careful to limit his critique to policy concerning the war, not to people or the capacity of the armed forces. “We’ve got guys who have really learned to fight guerilla wars,” he said.
“I’m completely sympathetic to our kids – the kids we send are as much victims as [civilians],” he said later in the speech.