Hersh: Cheney Has Secret Plan to Start War with Iran

Iran-Contra redux: New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh has learned that Vice Pres. Cheney has a secret plan to set up an “open confrontation” with Iran. As part of the plan, the Pentagon is now ready to start bombing within 24 hours of a signal from the White House.

The core of the problem is an unintended consequence of another failed Cheney gambit, the invasion of Iraq.

While Pres. Bush is undoutedly aware of Cheney’s plan, which is referred to internally as a “redirection,” according to Hersh, Cheney is firmly in charge:

The key players behind the redirection are Vice-President Dick Cheney, the deputy national-security adviser Elliott Abrams, the departing Ambassador to Iraq (and nominee for United Nations Ambassador), Zalmay Khalilzad, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national-security adviser. While Rice has been deeply involved in shaping the public policy, former and current officials said that the clandestine side has been guided by Cheney…

The fact that Cheney’s activities are being kept secret from the Congress is eerily similar to the Reagan administration’s secret dealings in the Iran-Contra scandal — a fact which may have prompted the recent resignation of John Negroponte, a player in the Contra affair, as National Intelligence Director.

The core of the problem is an unintended consequence of another failed Cheney gambit, the invasion of Iraq. Under Saddam, the Sunni minority controlled Iraq, which made it a stable, if totalitarian, bastion between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran. Democratic elections in Iraq turned control of Iraq over to the Shiite majority, leading to the unintended consequence of an ongoing regional power shift toward Teheran.

This power struggle is being played in the Iraq civil war, where both Shiite and Sunni insurgents are being funded by their respective co-sectarianists in Iran and Saudi Arabia, respectively. The Saudis, with their huge oil reserves, are famously risk-averse however, and they are demanding that Cheney fix what he broke.

As a result, Cheney’s team is rattling its sabers at Shiite-controlled Iran, even though the insurgents killing and wounding U.S. troops in Iraq are primarily Sunnis allied with the Saudis:

“This is all part of the campaign of provocative steps to increase the pressure on Iran. The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and then the Administration will have an open door to strike at them.”
— Flynt Leverett, former Bush administration National Security Council official

Flynt Leverett, a former Bush Administration National Security Council official, told me that “there is nothing coincidental or ironic” about the new strategy with regard to Iraq. “The Administration is trying to make a case that Iran is more dangerous and more provocative than the Sunni insurgents to American interests in Iraq, when — if you look at the actual casualty numbers — the punishment inflicted on America by the Sunnis is greater by an order of magnitude,” Leverett said. “This is all part of the campaign of provocative steps to increase the pressure on Iran. The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and then the Administration will have an open door to strike at them.”

In the Iran-Contra matter 20 years ago, Congress was kept in the dark about Reagan’s efforts to send weapons and supplies to the Contras. Secrecy was required because Congress had expressly forbidden the administration from dealing with the Contras.

In 2005, a group of Iran-Contra veterans got together in Washington to review “lessons learned.” Elliot Abrams, who was tried, convicted and then pardoned for his role in Iran-Contra, led a session that reached four conclusions about how to run secret government operations without getting caught:

“One, you can’t trust our friends. Two, the C.I.A. has got to be totally out of it. Three, you can’t trust the uniformed military, and four, it’s got to be run out of the Vice-President’s office” — a reference to Cheney’s role, the former senior intelligence official said.

But at least one Iran-Contra figure is opting out, according to Hersh:

I was subsequently told by the two government consultants and the former senior intelligence official that the echoes of Iran-Contra were a factor in Negroponte’s decision to resign from the National Intelligence directorship and accept a sub-Cabinet position of Deputy Secretary of State. (Negroponte declined to comment.)

The former senior intelligence official also told me that Negroponte did not want a repeat of his experience in the Reagan Administration, when he served as Ambassador to Honduras. “Negroponte said, ‘No way. I’m not going down that road again, with the N.S.C. running operations off the books, with no finding.’ ” (In the case of covert C.I.A. operations, the President must issue a written finding and inform Congress.) Negroponte stayed on as Deputy Secretary of State, he added, because “he believes he can influence the government in a positive way.”

Last Sunday, the Times of London reported that a handful of top U.S. military brass had threatened to resign if the U.S. attacked Iran. It is possible their threats were prompted by learning about Cheney’s plan — which, see number three above, is apparently not so secret anymore.

Assuming Seymour Hersh’s reporting is correct, and his track record is among the best — and based on the record of Cheney and Bush from 2002, we have to assume they will start a war in Irans sometime very soon — even though it is hard to fathom, then as now, why they are hellbent on igniting the cataclysm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>