According to a new Seymour Hersh article, the Bush administration has ramped up covert action inside Iran, and has notified the congressional leadership that it’s planing to spend up to $400 million on it. Thanks, Democratic-controlled Congress!
But the most important part of the piece is this:
But a lesson was learned in the incident [in January when tiny Iranian boats sailed near US battleships]: The public had supported the idea of retaliation, and was even asking why the U.S. didnâ€™t do more. The former official said that, a few weeks later, a meeting took place in the Vice-Presidentâ€™s office. â€œThe subject was how to create a casus belli between Tehran and Washington,â€ he said.
Recall that the Bush administration also made plans to create a pretext for war with Iraq if the WMD stuff didn’t work out. This is from Hubris by Michael Isikoff and David Corn:
DB/Anabasis was the code name for an extensive covert operations plan that had been drawn up by the CIA to destabilize and ultimately topple the regime of Saddam Hussein…
Over an intense forty-five day period beginning in late 2001, [two CIA operatives] cooked up an audacious plan…
Anabasis was no-holds-barred covert action. It called for installing a small army of paramilitary CIA officers on the ground inside Iraq; for elaborate schemes to penetrate Saddam’s regime; recruiting disgruntled military officers with buckets of cash; for feeing the regime disformation…for disrupting the regime’s finances…for sabotage that included blowing up railroad lines…It also envisioned staging a phony incident that could be used to start a war. A small group of Iraqi exiles would be flown into Iraq by helicopter to seize an isolated military base near the Saudi border. They then would take to the airwaves and announce a coup was under way. If Saddam responded by flying troops south, his aircraft would be shot down by U.S. fighter planes patrolling the no-fly zones established by UN edict after the first Persian Gulf War. A clash of this sort could be used to initiate a full-scale war.
On February 16, 2002, President Bush signed covert findings authorizing the various elements of Anabasis. The leaders of the congressional intelligence committeesâ€”including Porter Goss, a Republican, and Senator Bob Graham, a Democratâ€”were briefed.
“The idea was to create an incident in which Saddam lashes out” [said CIA operative John McGuire]. If all went as planned, “you’d have a premise for war: we’ve been invited in.”