U.S. Conducting Secret Missions Inside Iran?
The United States has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran to help identify potential nuclear, chemical and missile targets, The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday. The article, by award-winning reporter Seymour Hersh, said the secret missions have been going on at least since last summer with the goal of identifying target information for three dozen or more suspected sites. Hersh quotes one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon as saying, “The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible.” One former high-level intelligence official told The New Yorker, “This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign.”
The White House said Iran is a concern and a threat that needs to be taken seriously. But it disputed the report by Hersh, who last year exposed the extent of prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. “We obviously have a concern about Iran. The whole world has a concern about Iran,” Dan Bartlett, a top aide to President Bush, told CNN’s “Late Edition.” Of The New Yorker report, he said: “I think it’s riddled with inaccuracies, and I don’t believe that some of the conclusions he’s drawing are based on fact.” Bartlett said the administration “will continue to work through the diplomatic initiatives” to convince Iran — which Bush once called part of an “axis of evil” — not to pursue nuclear weapons. “No president, at any juncture in history, has ever taken military options off the table,” Bartlett added. “But what President Bush has shown is that he believes we can emphasize the diplomatic initiatives that are underway right now.”
Interesting. The fact that Bartlett didn’t deny the report outright gives it some credence. Given that Iran has been the biggest state supporter of terrorism for 25 years and is on the verge of gaining nuclear weapons, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if some sort of covert reconnaisance operations were ongoing. Indeed, I’d be surprised if they weren’t.
Kos correctly notes, though, that our military options in Iran are quite limited given the ongoing commitment of forces in Iraq.