Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Monday, January 17, 2005

An Outstanding Grasp of the Blindingly Obvious

and a penchant for being blindsided

Seymour Hersh recently wrote that the next stop for the US in the War Against Terrorism is Iran. He also said that Iraq was "just one campaign against those that suppor terrorism". Gee, ya think?

President Bush, back just after 9/11, said that the United States would confront terrorism and its state sponsors, wherever it existed. It's obvious that Iran supports terrorism (Hezbollah is just ONE example. Another is the Iranian-sponsored Sadr faction and others in Iraq). Iran has thumbed its nose at the European Union, the United Nations, and the rest of the world in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. And we still have this personal grudge over the taking of the US embassy in 1979, and the year-plus hostage "standoff". Those items don't in and of themselves mean that "Iran's next", however.

Are American Special Forces in Iran? I have no idea, and neither does Seymour Hersh. It's a possibility, but there are no guarantees. Are we keeping tabs of what's going on in Iran? You'd better believe it! But we're also keeping track of what's going on in Fiji, Tasmania, Lithuania, and Georgia, just to name a few places on the globe. We're probably watching Iran closer than the others, but to leave out any possible "area of operations" is to leave ourselves open to another terrorist attack. After all, the terrorists don't recognize boundaries, national sovereignties, or international agreements. They are active wherever they can get away with it. They are underground where it's too dangerous to operate openly. THEY have created the need for international surveillance and intelligence gathering, not the United States. We're merely responding - aggressively, admittedly, but only because anything else would be foolish.

Hersh isn't exactly honest, however, in his reporting. Take this passage:

"We've declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy," the official tells Hersh. "This is the last hurrah - we've got four years and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism."

We haven't "declared war" - Osama bin Laden declared war when his followers hijacked four airliners and crashed three of them into major buildings in New York and Washington, DC. We have acknowledged that a state of war exists as the result of those attacks, and we are responding accordingly. We're not after "bad guys" - we're after Islamist fundamentalists who wish to impose Islam upon the entire rest of the world. That's a tyranny neither this nation nor any other will willingly accept. We, then, are in a fight to preserve our current independence, personal freedom, private property, and capitalist economy. George Bush knows this is a generational war, equal to and perhaps even harder to win than the Cold War, and not something that will be ended in four years. Any Pentagon official or CIA agent that thinks otherwise is as delusional as Seymour Hersh for believing it.

Here's another paragraph:

Pentagon neoconservatives - hard-liners who include Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz - believe that surgical strikes on a small list of military targets will minimize civilian casualties and may spark an uprising by reformers against the ruling fundamentalist mullahs, current and ex-officials said.

I wonder if those "ex-officials" are some of the deadwood that Porter Goss has pruned from the CIA. They were people that, for the most part, were prone to "leak" data to the press, especially if it would embarrass President Bush or his Secretary of Defense. I'm sure that every option has been considered, plans generated, and lengthy discussion of pros and cons have taken place regarding any potential adversary. That was par for the course with I was in Air Force intelligence, just as a matter of operational necessity. That doesn't necessarily mean those plans are being implemented, have been implemented, or will be implemented in the near future.

There are dozens of things about this article I find suspicious, and that makes me suspect Seymour Hersh's intentions as well. There are too many "experts" being quoted. People who truly have access to classified information - and all plans about future operations, even those that may never be implemented, are classified - don't talk much. Those that do are eliminated from their jobs, and may find themselves in a jail cell. Many of the "suppositions" presented here as "fact" appear to be inconsistent. The whole thing stinks. Here are some particulars:

"It's not if we're going to do anything against Iran. They're doing it," an ex-intelligence official tells this week's issue of The New Yorker. Anyone who has ever been given access to classified information at the level such programs would be rated would also have to sign a nondisclosure statement when they left their jobs. Unauthorized disclosure can result in long jail terms.

Since at least last summer, the U.S. teams have penetrated eastern Iran, reportedly with Pakistan's help, the magazine said. I personally don't think the US would trust any Pakistani citizen enough to allow them to be a part of a clandestine US plan. We've had enough problems with Tora Bora and the porous Afghanistan/Pakistan border to know better. This sounds VERY suspicious.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whom President Bush has asked to stay on in his second term, has been jockeying for more power to conduct covert ops without nagging congressional oversight.

"It's a global free-fire zone," said one Pentagon adviser.

Who, the janitor of the main entryway?

The United States has a number of treaties with virtually every nation on earth. Many nations are openly helping us with the War on Terror. We've heard a lot about CIA actions in the last three-plus years since 9/11, including the hellfire missile strike in Yemen, arrests in Europe and Africa, terrorists and suspected terrorists being turned over to the United States in Asia and Latin America. I'm sure we haven't heard about every single event that's occurred, nor do we need to. There are several ways the United States can engage in clandestine military and/or civilian action against hostiles wherever they may be without having to go to Congress for prior approval. The United States needs that flexibility if for no other reason than the knowledge that Congress can keep a secret about as well as a high school football team could win the SuperBowl.

Iran has fought tooth and nail demands that it open its nuclear energy program for inspection, fueling suspicion that the charter member of President Bush's "axis of evil" is up to no good. We know Iran is evil because there are tens of thousands of details that prove beyond doubt that there are evil things happening in Iran, and they're being done by the government and those that support and benefit from the government's behavior.

That same secrecy also has heightened tensions with another axis member with nuclear ambitions, North Korea. North Korea is a monomaniacal paranoid kleptocracy disguising itself as a "Socialist Republic", run by a madman nuttier than a ton of Carter peanuts. The only problem with madmen having nuclear weapons is they're not sane enough NOT to use them. I'd be worried about anyone that light in intellect with that much power.

Pentagon neoconservatives - hard-liners who include Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz - believe that surgical strikes on a small list of military targets will minimize civilian casualties and may spark an uprising by reformers against the ruling fundamentalist mullahs, current and ex-officials said. A surgical strike against a small list of targets used to develop and build nuclear weapons may be the safest way to keep another wild bunch of monomaniacal madmen from blowing up half the world with nuclear weapons, and keeping us all safe. That's just common sense, and doesn't take a "Pentagon expert" to deduce. Using terms like "neonconservatives" and "hard-liners" merely show the prejudice of the author. "Realists" is a word that far better describe those that might think taking out the ability of Iran to make nuclear weapons is a good thing.

Hersh told CNN that if targets are lined up by this summer, U.S. attacks could soon follow. Or we could do something entirely different. We KNOW the targets, we know where they are down to the centimeter, and we know which ones need to be hit for what purpose. We can hit them at any time, with or without a "team of Special Forces" reconnoitering the area.

They "want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible," a Pentagon consultant told Hersh. See my previous comments about that hypothetical "Pentagon consultant". As for destroying infrastructure, that's difficult to do on a large-scale basis with small, clandestine teams. We have air superiority, some pretty decent stealth technology, and TONS of precision guided weapons and just plain exploding iron. Clandestine special forces teams are used for surgical strikes, not broad damage to infrastructure. Seymour Hersh, of course, has no experience to draw on to know that. He also apparently hasn't bothered to do any reading.

Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz believe that, just as with some Soviet-bloc countries, "the minute the aura of invincibility the mullahs enjoy is shattered ... the Iranian regime will collapse," the consultant said.

Yet Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.) of the House International Relations Committee said, "I wouldn't assume the Iranian regime will just collapse."

I doubt Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz do either. These are not stupid people. They have far better sources of information than I do, but I'd be willing to wager that if the US caused the mullah's enough headaches, there's enough people inside Iran that would gladly heap more problems on their heads, and may even win. As much as the mullahs have tried to crack down on the free exchange of information both from without and within Iran, there are undoubtedly a few exchanges occurring on a regular basis.

With combat operations still raging in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the hunt for weapons of mass destruction came up empty, Bush would have to explain fully a new call for military action against Iran, King said.

"He'd have to get the people behind it," King told the Daily News. "But you'd have to factor in that the American public would be somewhat suspicious."
This paragraph shows Hersh's total lack of understanding of military matters, his failure to see the truth about what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his negative attitude toward any US action in the entire War on Terror. There isn't much in the way of "combat operations" "raging" in Afghanistan. Even the terrorist activity in Iraq isn't "raging", but occurring sporadically against targets of opportunity, mostly against Iraqi civilians, in order to disrupt this month's elections. As for "weapons of mass destruction", this is nothing more than a media campaign of "mass distraction" to alienate the American population against continuing a war the Left doesn't want the US to fight. Of course, the Left doesn't think the US should ever fight a war, for any reason. Weapons of Mass Destruction was just one of many reasons the United States invaded Iraq, and only people like Seymour Hersh don't understand that.

But Bush aides are "compulsively optimistic" that the mullahs have a fragile hold on power, and they are sure to strike soon, predicted defense analyst John Pike of

"I think they're going to do it," he told The News. "I'm skeptical that diplomacy will succeed."
Do a Google search on John Pike. In addition to being the Director of Global Security, he has his own blog. GlobalSecurity is a fairly reliable outfit, but it isn't the United States government, and certainly not this Republican administration. They're guessing, based on what they know, or think they know, and that's the best they can do. We won't know until the future unrolls.

While presidential counselor Dan Bartlett complained that Hersh's story was "riddled with inaccuracies," he notably did not outright deny any of it.

"No President at any juncture in history has ever taken military options off the table," Bartlett told CNN's "Late Edition." "What President Bush has shown [is] that he believes we can emphasize the diplomatic initiatives that are under way right now."
. To attempt to "outright deny any of it" would provide, in Hersh's and his fellow travellers' minds, "proof" that what isn't denied is true, whether it is or not. The safest path to take is to say exactly what was said, and leave the questions hanging in the air. The possibility of such action being taken is almost as good as the deed if it causes the mad mullahs in Iran to expend valuable resources "countering the threat". The partisans in Yugoslavia weren't any real danger to NAZI Germany's war plans, but their very existence tied up several German divisions sorely needed elsewhere. The United States used the same tactics in a number of places during the Cold War. Of course, you have to be acquainted with military history and tactics - something the Left isn't very interested in - to know that.

At the same time, you have this article over at Debka, which says the "next target" is Syria. I don't think the United States is going to engage in a two-front war at the moment, so ONE of these is probably wrong.

It's hard to say exactly what Seymour Hersh is trying to do with this article. It's also difficult to judge the truth of anything in this article except the direct quotes, and then the lack of full context makes the quotations themselves somewhat suspect. This may be an attempted "preemtive strike" by Hersh to arrouse public opinion against an attack on Iran. It may be another attempt to paint President Bush as "impulsive" and "dangerous" in foreign affairs. Seymour Hersh may even believe he's giving President Bush some "help" by giving the nation a preview of what's about to take place. This whole thing may also be a plant - a 'trial balloon' by the administration to see how people react (extremely doubtful, but possible). The one thing absolutely true about this article is that it's filled with inconsistencies, "possibilities", second-guessing, inuendo, and supposition, mixed with a large dollop of wild guessing. Who knows? There might even be a smidgen or two of truth in it - just enough to make the mullahs in Iran a tad nervous, perhaps?


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