Seymour Hersh has a rather chilling piece in a recent New Yorker about the administration’s planning for possible action (military) against Iran. The story highlights suggestions made by the president that Iran is behind the insurgent strikes on American troops, and in retaliation the U.S. military would engage in “surgical strikes” inside Iran and elsewhere.
Hersh writes: “The shift in targeting reflects three developments. First, the President and his senior advisers have concluded that their campaign to convince the American public that Iran poses an imminent nuclear threat has failed (unlike a similar campaign before the Iraq war), and that as a result there is not enough popular support for a major bombing campaign. The second development is that the White House has come to terms, in private, with the general consensus of the American intelligence community that Iran is at least five years away from obtaining a bomb. And, finally, there has been a growing recognition in Washington and throughout the Middle East that Iran is emerging as the geopolitical winner of the war in Iraq.”
Hersh has won a Pulitzer for his reporting, and has a long history of uncovering details inside the Pentagon. He was the reporter who broke the story of the My Lai Massacre, in which hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese civilians were killed by U.S. soldiers in March 1968. Wikipedia chronicles Hersh’s history of reporting on the possibility of attacks against Iran, which began more than two years ago:
“In January 2005, Hersh alleged that the U.S. was conducting covert operations in Iran to identify targets for possible strikes. This was dismissed by both the US government and the Government of Iran. However, US government has not categorically denied that US troops have been on the ground in Iran. Hersh also claimed that Pakistan and USA have struck a “Khan-for-Iran” deal in which Washington will look the other way at Pakistan’s nuclear transgressions and not demand handing over of its nuclear proliferator A Q Khan, in return for Islamabad’s cooperation in neutralising Iran’s nuclear plans. This was also denied by officials of the governments of the US and Pakistan.
“In the April 17, 2006 issue of The New Yorker, Hersh reported on the Bush Administration’s purported plans for an air strike within Iran. Of particular note in his article is that an American nuclear first strike (possibly using the B61-11 bunker-buster nuclear weapon) is under consideration to eliminate underground Iranian uranium enrichment facilities. In response, President Bush cited Hersh’s reportage as “wild speculation.”