Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Escalation: Secret War Against Iran Now Raging On Three Fronts

[Updated below]

Larisa Alexandrovna's most recent piece for Raw Story contains three connected stories, all on the same general theme, and it's a bit difficult to say which is the most important -- not only for me but apparently for the Raw Story editorial crew as well. This last bit is pure speculation on my part, but it would explain why the headline says "CIA running black propaganda operation against Iran, Syria and Lebanon, officials say" while the sub-head reads "Some intelligence sources more wary of covert Pentagon operations".

On the "covert terror ops being run from the Pentagon" angle, Larisa writes:
The Pentagon is continuing to conduct more aggressive “black” operations, approved by the National Security Council and the Office of the Vice President.

Current and former intelligence officials would not identify new specific covert programs running out of the Pentagon, though sources stressed these are far riskier and more truly covert operational activities against Iran than the activities of the CIA.

These operations started almost immediately after the Iraq war and have continued for several years. Because they can be considered part of a military operation, they are not subjects to the same requirements for Congressional authorization as the activities of the CIA.

The majority of these efforts to destabilize Iran through a covert war of aggression have been carried out by the Department of Defense, largely steered by the Office of the Vice President and by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Formerly known as the "crazies in the basement", these career prevaricators are still crazy ... but they have much nicer offices than they once did.
These activities have often been guided by the same individuals whose actions during Iran-Contra were the reason for a 1991 law on covert activities which for the first time clearly defined covert activities and how their oversight should be handled.

During Iran-Contra, the Reagan White House -– via the National Security Council -– sold weapons to Iran, an avowed enemy of the United States, and used the money to fund various terrorist and dissident groups, collectively called the Contras, to fight a proxy war against the government of Nicaragua.

Sources say that MEK has been used for intelligence collection, an activity which has traditionally fallen under the CIA. The administration also appears to be looking the other way as groups such as MEK commit acts of violence.

Intelligence sources interviewed for this article all expressed concern over the lack of attention to the Pentagon’s covert activities. Some believe illegal activities like those of the Iran-Contra days are now being hidden under the loophole of “traditional military activities” to avoid Congressional oversight.
Ain't that a good one? Congress has oversight privileges over the CIA but not over the Pentagon, so now they're running the most violent black ops out of the Pentagon in order to hide them from Congress -- and from us! And the Vice President, whose job technically consists of casting the deciding vote in the event of a tie in the Senate, is running covert terror ops in foreign countries! Wonderful stuff! It makes a fellow proud to be a Merkin!

On the black propaganda front, there's not much detail to be had, but here's some of it:
Iran is being targeted by the CIA's activities with a “pro-democracy” message, sources say, and the agency is supporting overt “pro-democracy” groups.

The program’s particulars are highly classified. Intelligence sources stress, however, that the groups being used are rather mainstream and the operations are almost entirely restricted to information warfare.

Sources would not identify what mechanism was being employed to distribute the propaganda, if it included news media, individuals or organizations, or whether that information was seeping back into domestic news reports.

One former intelligence case officer did explain that the CIA's program is operating largely outside of the Middle East and is aimed at identifying potential allies, as well as using already existing well known groups through whom information can be delivered. The type of “information” and the “groups” and “organizations” involved were not identified.
The third story involves clandestine and overt economic warfare being waged against Iran. Briefly:
The CIA “has been empowered to put economic pressure on Iran,” [a] former intelligence officer stated, but would not elaborate on what the meaning of “pressure” is.

Foreign intelligence sources say that economic pressure is aimed at Iran's oil-rich economy, with US efforts serving to “persuade” financial institutions, oil companies, and international investment interests to pull out of Iran and even drop already existing energy projects.

These sources cite the example of an unnamed company that is being denied financing for energy projects inside Iran by international banks, indicating that many more such examples exist.

Other possible forms of pressure would include less subtle activities, such as intercepting supply convoys and confiscating equipment.
And the crux of the matter is this: the USA is now waging a three-pronged mostly-covert war against Iran, none of which we are supposed to know about.

So move along, please ... quietly, now ... straight over to Raw Story for all the details!

UPDATE: Larisa spoke with Scott Horton on Antiwar Radio earlier today, and you can listen here.