Steve Watson & Paul Watson / | July 1, 2008

Award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh has detailed a move by
the Bush administration, with Congressional backing, which represents
a "major escalation" in covert military operations aimed
at destabilizing the Iranian leadership.

Hersh also details how The CIA and the United States
Special Operations Forces have long-standing ties to the PEJAK,
the outlawed breakaway faction of the PKK terrorist group in Iran,
as well as other Sunni fundamentalists that former intelligence
officials say "can also be described as Al Qaeda."

Hersh describes how the neocon White House has vamped
up secret efforts to work with the same terrorist groups that
were once populated with figures such as Ramzi Yousef, who was
convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade
Center, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was fingered as one of
the leading planners of the September 11th attacks.

"The Finding was focused on undermining Iran’s
nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through
regime change," and involved "working with opposition
groups and passing money," Hersh
, quoting an unnamed "person familiar
with its contents."

Congress, under Democratic leadership, approved
a $400 million request for funding late last year, according to
Hersh’s sources, military, intelligence, and congressional officials
with direct knowledge of the top secret Presidential Finding,
which by law must be issued when covert intelligence operations
get underway.

The corporate media has somewhat downplayed the
revelations, which essentially highlight once again how the so
called "war on terror" is a complete fiction, as US
elites are funding Sunni extremists intent on destroying the Shiite
Iranian leadership.

Hersh spoke about the article in an interview with
CNN’s Candy Crowley:

“Well, one of the basic points is no matter
what we say about diplomacy, you know, carrot and stick, the stick
is working pretty hard and the stick is working overtime. This
president did escalate the secret war inside Iran. We’ve
been doing stuff inside Iran since ‘05 pretty heavily, Looking
at the nuclear facilities, collecting intelligence and trying
to undermine the regime, et cetera, et cetera but there was a
significant escalation this year.” Hersh said.

“They got a great deal of authorization to spend up to
$400 million. That doesn’t mean he’s spent it all
yet but he’s got that kind of authorization. The secret
committees — anyone who saw “Charlie Wilson’s
war,” — Charlie Wilson was able to generate a lot
of money secretly. That’s what happens in Congress and the
other major thing is we’ve sent in a special task force
that operates out of Afghanistan into Iran.”

“I did notice what Ambassador Crocker said about ‘not
cross-border’ and I have a lot of respect for him and I
don’t want to challenge him. But the fact is were inside
but not necessarily cross-border. We have teams inside Iran. These
include joint special operations forces, the most elite commando
units and basically they’re guys go after high-value targets
around the world. They capture them or kill them so it’s
a significant increase in American potential for damage inside

Hersh went on to state that one of the reasons former Commander
of the U.S. Central Command Admiral Fallen was forced out and
purged by the Bush administration was that he was unable to find
out the full scope of clandestine operations inside Iran. Hersh
also stated that the endgame for Bush and Cheney is to ensure
that they do not leave office without first having eliminated
Iran’s nuclear program, whether that be by attacking the country
or forcing regime change inside the country.

Watch the full interview:

We have previously carried reports of how the US
and Britain are already at war with Iran, have been at war with
Iran for a number of years now and are funding anti-Iranian terrorist
groups inside Iran in preparation for the fallout that will occur
after overt military action is commenced.

High ranking CIA officials, Defense department officials,
former UN officials and retired US air force Colonels have gone
on record with the specific details.

In an article entitled The
US war with Iran has already begun
written back in June 2005, former UN weapons inspector
in Iraq, Scott Ritter described how intelligence gathering,
direct action and the mobilizing of indigenous opposition
is all being carried out already by CIA backed US special

Ritter stated:

As with Iraq, the president has paved the way for
the conditioning of the American public and an all-too-compliant
media to accept at face value the merits of a regime
change policy regarding Iran, linking the regime of
the Mullah’s to an "axis of evil" (together
with the newly "liberated" Iraq and North
Korea), and speaking of the absolute requirement for
the spread of "democracy" to the Iranian people.

But Americans, and indeed much of the rest of the
world, continue to be lulled into a false sense of complacency
by the fact that overt conventional military operations
have not yet commenced between the United States and

As such, many hold out the false hope that an extension
of the current insanity in Iraq can be postponed or prevented
in the case of Iran. But this is a fool’s dream.

The reality is that the US war with Iran has already
begun. As we speak, American over flights of Iranian
soil are taking place, using pilotless drones and other,
more sophisticated, capabilities.

The violation of a sovereign nation’s airspace
is an act of war in and of itself. But the war with Iran
has gone far beyond the intelligence-gathering phase.
President Bush has taken advantage of the sweeping
powers granted to him in the aftermath of 11 September
2001, to wage a global war against terror and to initiate
several covert offensive operations inside Iran.

Ritter goes on to describe how Iranian opposition groups,
including the well known right-wing terrorist organization
known as Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), once run by Saddam
Hussein’s dreaded intelligence services, but now working
exclusively for the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, are
carrying out remote bombings in Iran of the sort that
the Bush administration condemns on a daily basis inside

He also describes how to the north, in neighbouring Azerbaijan,
the US military is preparing a base of operations for
a massive military presence that will foretell a major
land-based campaign designed to capture Tehran.

Ritter is not alone in his assertions.

During an interview on CNN in 2006, retired U.S. Air
Force Colonel Sam Gardiner claimed that U.S. military
operations were already ‘underway’ inside Iran.

"I would say — and this may shock some — I think
the decision has been made and military operations are
under way," Col. Gardiner told CNN International
anchor Jim Clancy.

"The secretary point is, the Iranians have been
saying American military troops are in there, have been
saying it for almost a year," Gardiner said. "I
was in Berlin two weeks ago, sat next to the ambassador,
the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA. And I said, ‘Hey,
I hear you’re accusing Americans of being in there operating
with some of the units that have shot up revolution guard
units.’ He said, quite frankly, ‘Yes, we know they are.
We’ve captured some of the units, and they’ve confessed
to working with the Americans,’" said the retired
Air Force colonel.

The full seven minute CNN segment can be viewed below:


Around the same time that Gardiner revealed this, RAW
story ran an exclusive
, which also revealed
that, according to counterintelligence officials, covert
operations were underway that included CIA co-option and
use of right wing terror groups:

“We disarmed [the MEK] of major weapons but not
small arms. [Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld was
pushing to use them as a military special ops team, but
policy infighting between their camp and Condi, but she
was able to fight them off for a while,” said the
intelligence official. According to still another intelligence
source, the policy infighting ended last year when Donald
Rumsfeld, under pressure from Vice President Cheney, came
up with a plan to “convert” the MEK by having
them simply quit their organization.

“These guys are nuts,” this intelligence
source said. “Cambone and those guys made MEK members
swear an oath to Democracy and resign from the MEK and
then our guys incorporated them into their unit and trained

The MEK were notorious in Iraq, indeed, Saddam Hussein
himself had used the MEK for acts of terror against non-Sunni
Muslims and had assigned domestic security detail to the
MEK as a way of policing dissent among his own people.
It was under the guidance of MEK ‘policing’
that Iraqi citizens who were not Sunni were routinely
tortured, attacked and arrested.

MEK has been linked with numerous bombings inside Iran
over the course of the last few years. The organization
has also killed U.S. troops and civilians since the 70’s,
yet the Bush cabal continues to fund them.

to Global
, "In the early
1970s, angered by U.S. support for the pro-Western shah,
MEK members killed several U.S. soldiers and civilians
working on defense projects in Iran. MEK members also
supported the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran,
in which 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days."

After a bombing inside Iran in February 2007, the London
Telegraph also reported
on how a high ranking
CIA official blew the whistle on the fact that America
is secretly funding terrorist groups in Iran in an attempt
to pile pressure on the Islamic regime to give up its
nuclear program.

The claims were backed by Fred Burton, a former US state
department counter-terrorism agent, who said: "The
latest attacks inside Iran fall in line with US efforts
to supply and train Iran’s ethnic minorities to destabilise
the Iranian regime."

John Pike, the head of the influential Global Security
think tank in Washington, said: "The activities of
the ethnic groups have hotted up over the last two years
and it would be a scandal if that was not at least in
part the result of CIA activity."

More recently, this May, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry
a CIA-backed terror group
that was planning
to bomb scientific, educational, and religious centers,
and carry out assassinations, according to a report in
the Tehran Times. The arrests came weeks after Ret. Gen.
Thomas McInerney urged the U.S. to carry out terror bombings
in Iran.

McInerney publicly called for the U.S. government to
support groups like MEK and carry out deadly bombings
in Iran:

Here’s what I would suggest to you. Number one,
we take the National Council for Resistance to Iran off
the terrorist list that the Clinton Administration put
them on as well as the Mujahedin-e Khalq at the Camp Ashraf
in Iraq," said McInerney.

"Then I would start a tit-for-tat strategy which
I wrote up in the Wall Street Journal a year ago: For
every EFP that goes off and kills Americans, two go off
in Iran. No questions asked. People don’t have to
know how it was done. It’s a covert action. They
become the most unlucky country in the world," he

Top Neo-Cons have been calling for the US to back terror
groups in Iran and other reports clearly indicate that
this program has already been in place for years.

Last November, Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade openly
called for US support for acts of terrorism, such as car
bombings, in Tehran. Colonel David Hunt, who has over
29 years of military experience including extensive operational
experience in Special Operations, Counter Terrorism and
Intelligence Operations, agreed with Kilmeade, stating
"absolutely" in response to Kilmead’s question
about whether cars should start blowing up in Tehran.

Another Iranian-based terror group that the Bush administration
is already
funding as a means of regime change in Iran is Jundullah

– a Sunni Al-Qaeda terrorist group formerly headed by
the alleged mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

"The CIA is giving arms-length support, supplying
money and weapons, to an Iranian militant group, Jundullah,
which has conducted raids into Iran from bases in Pakistan,"
London Telegraph reported last year

The group has been blamed
for a number of bombings inside Iran
at destabilizing Ahmadinejad’s government and is also
active in Pakistan
, having been fingered
for its involvement in attacks on police stations and
car bombings at the Pakistan-US Cultural Center in 2004.

As Seymour Hersh himself also reported back in 2004,
U.S. intelligence and Israel’s Mossad are busy at
work stirring up trouble in Iran in preparation for an
attack on that country. In early 2005, the
Guardian reported
that “American special
forces have been on the ground inside Iran scouting for
US air strike targets for suspected nuclear weapons sites."

If this all sounds a little familiar, it’s because it
is. The fact is that the US has a long history of provocation
and covert action inside Iran.

The In 1953 the CIA and MI6 carried out Operation Ajax
(officially TP-AJAX), a covert operation by the United
Kingdom and the United States to remove the democratically
nationalist cabinet of Iranian Prime
Minister Mohammed Mossadegh from power, to support the
Pahlavi dynasty and consolidate the power of Mohammed
Reza Pahlavi in order to preserve the Western control
of Iran’s hugely lucrative oil infrastructure.

In planning the operation, the CIA organized a guerrilla
force incase the communist Tudeh Party seized power as
a result of the chaos created by Operation Ajax. According
to formerly “Top Secret” documents released
by the National Security Archive, Undersecretary of State
Walter Bedell Smith reported that the CIA had reached
an agreement with Qashqai tribal leaders in southern Iran
to establish a clandestine safe haven from which U.S.-funded
guerrillas and intelligence agents could operate.

The conspiracy centered around having the increasingly
impotent Shah dismiss the powerful Prime Minister Mossadegh
and replace him with General Fazlollah Zahedi, a choice
agreed on by the British and Americans after careful examination
for his likeliness to be pro-British.

Zahedi was installed to succeed Prime Minister Mossadegh.
The deposed Mossadegh was arrested, given a show trial,
and condemned to death. The Shah commuted this sentence
to solitary confinement for three years in a military
prison, followed by house arrest for life.

“If there had not been a military coup, there would
not have been 25 years of the Shah’s brutal regime,
there would not have been a revolution in 1979 and a government
of clerics,” Ibrahim Yazdi, a former foreign minister
and leading member of a political party that traces its
origins to Mossadegh’s National Front, told the
Christian Science Monitor on the 50th anniversary of the
coup and installation of the Shah. “Now it seems
that the Americans are pushing towards the same direction
again. That shows they have not learned anything from

“For many Iranians, the coup was a tragedy from
which their country has never recovered. Perhaps because
Mossadegh represents a future denied, his memory has approached
myth,” Dan
De Luce
writes for the Guardian. “Beyond
Iran, America remains deeply resented for siding with
authoritarian rule in the region.”

Alex Jones’s latest film Terrorstorm
covers the ousting of Mossadegh in depth.

After the Iranian revolution in 1979, the US again found
itself sparring with Iran. Again we find a history of
provocation and aggression. In particular, a fierce assault
known as Operation Praying Mantis, is renowned. The operation
began after a US warship had entered mined Iranian territorial
waters in the Persian Gulf.

From Wikipedia:

On April 14 1988, the guided missile frigate USS
Samuel B. Roberts struck a mine while sailing in the
Persian Gulf as part of Operation Earnest Will, the
1987-88 convoy missions in which U.S. warships escorted
reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers to protect them from Iranian
attacks. The explosion put a 25-foot hole in the Roberts’
hull and nearly sank it. But the crew saved their ship
with no loss of life, and Roberts was towed to Dubai
on April 16.

After the mining, U.S. Navy divers recovered other
mines in the area. When the serial numbers were found
to match those of mines seized along with the Iran Ajr
the previous September, U.S. military officials planned
a retaliatory operation against Iranian targets in the

The battle, the largest for American surface forces
since World War II,[1] sank two Iranian warships and as
many as six armed speedboats. It also marked the first
surface-to-surface missile engagement in U.S. Navy history.

The US also attacked and destroyed several Iranian oil
platforms in a full out military assault. At the time
the Chicago
Sun Times

U.S. naval forces on Monday attacked Iranian targets
in the Persian Gulf to show the Iranians that "if
they threaten us, they’ll pay a price," President
Reagan said.

In fighting conducted over nine hours, the U.S.
forces knocked out two Iranian oil platforms, and then
sank or disabled a fast-attack missile patrol boat,
two frigates, and three speedboats when Iran attempted
to fight back.

Note Reagan’s comments. Hence the name ‘Operation Praying
Mantis’ was a reference to the fanning of the wings used
to make the mantis seem larger and to scare the opponent.

On November 6, 2003 the International Court of Justice
dismissed Iran’s claim for reparation against the United
States for breach of the 1955 Treaty of Amity between
the two countries. The court also dismissed a counter-claim
by the United States, also for reparation for breach of
the same treaty. As part of its finding the court did
note that "the actions of the United States of America
against Iranian oil platforms on 19 October 1987 (Operation
Nimble Archer) and 18 April 1988 (Operation Praying Mantis)
cannot be justified as measures necessary to protect the
essential security interests of the United States of America."

The fallout of Praying Mantis also resulted in the U.S.
Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes shooting down
an Iranian civilian commercial airliner, Iran
air flight 665
, between Bandar Abbas and
Dubai, killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard, including
38 non-Iranians and 66 children. The Vincennes was inside
Iranian territorial waters at the time of the shoot-down.

The On the morning of July 3, the Vincennes crossed into
Iranian territorial waters during clashes with Iranian
gunboats. Earlier in the day, the Vincennes – along with
Iranian gunboats – had similarly violated Omani waters
until challenged by an Omani warship.

According to the U.S. government, the Iranian aircraft
was mistakenly identified as an attacking military fighter.
Iranian government, however, maintains
the Vincennes knowingly shot down a civilian aircraft.

According to the Iranian government, the shooting down
of IR 655 by the Vincennes was an intentionally performed
and unlawful act. Even if there was a mistaken identification,
which Iran has not accepted, it argues that this constituted
gross negligence and recklessness amounting to an international
crime, not an accident.

Newsweek reporters John Barry and Roger Charles wrote
that Rogers acted recklessly and without due care. Their
report accused the U.S. government of a cover-up. An analysis
of the events by the International Strategic Studies Association
described the deployment of an Aegis cruiser in the zone
as irresponsible and felt that the expense of the ship
had played a major part in the setting of a low threshold
for opening fire.

George H.W. Bush, at the time Vice President said "I
will never apologize for the United States of America
— I don’t care what the facts are" in reference
to the incident.

later reported

It took four years for the US administration to
admit officially that the USS Vincennes was in Iranian
waters when the skirmish took place with the Iranian gunboats.
Subsequent investigations have accused the US military
of waging a covert war against Iran in support of Iraq.
In February 1996 the US agreed to pay Iran $61.8 million
in compensation for the 248 Iranians killed, plus the
cost of the aircraft and legal expenses.

So we see that Britain and the US have a long history of covert
action against and provocation of Iran in their bid to aggressively
control the region. Nothing has changed.

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