One revelation in Seymour Hersh’s New Yorker article about Vice Pres. Cheney’s not-so-secret plan to attack Iran bears more scrutiny. It involves Elliott Abrams — a Reagan Administration official who got caught in the Iran-Contra scandal, pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress and was later pardoned by the first Pres. George Bush.
With a record like that, it should be no surprise that the current Pres. Bush has every confidence in Abrams, who currently serves as his Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy. Hersh suggests that Abrams has been helpful, at least indirectly, in providing Cheney and his team with a primer on how to operate secret government operations, as he, Oliver North, John Poindexter and then-Sec. of Defense Caspar Weinberger did during Iran-Contra — but, unlike them, without getting caught:
Iran-Contra was the subject of an informal “lessons learned” discussion two years ago among veterans of the scandal. Abrams led the discussion. One conclusion was that even though the program was eventually exposed, it had been possible to execute it without telling Congress. As to what the experience taught them, in terms of future covert operations, the participants found: “One, you canâ€™t trust our friends. Two, the C.I.A. has got to be totally out of it. Three, you canâ€™t trust the uniformed military, and four, itâ€™s got to be run out of the Vice-Presidentâ€™s office” — a reference to Cheneyâ€™s role, the former senior intelligence official said…
[A] Pentagon consultant added that one difficulty, in terms of oversight [over Cheney’s operations], was accounting for covert funds. “There are many, many pots of black money, scattered in many places and used all over the world on a variety of missions,” he said. The budgetary chaos in Iraq, where billions of dollars are unaccounted for, has made it a vehicle for such transactions, according to the former senior intelligence official and the retired four-star general.
“This goes back to Iran-Contra,” a former National Security Council aide told me. “And much of what theyâ€™re doing is to keep the agency out of it.” He said that Congress was not being briefed on the full extent of the U.S.-Saudi operations. And, he said, “The C.I.A. is asking, â€˜Whatâ€™s going on?â€™ Theyâ€™re concerned, because they think itâ€™s amateur hour.”
As is all too obvious, since we know about the secret plan, either Cheney’s war planners did not follow Abrams’ advice, or they consciously chose to leak their plans in order to unnerve their counterparts in Iran.
In any case, it’s worth noting that Our Liberal Media is completely untroubled by the fact that the U.S. government is set to foment a full-scale sectarian war in the Middle East between between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.
“Lessons learned,” indeed.