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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Hired Help 

Seymour Hersh's article on the covert campaign against Iran, "The Coming Wars," went online at the New Yorker site yesterday, and before the clock struck twelve our venerated colleague Joe Wezorek of American Leftist had already blogged it twice. Post the first:
[T]he really scary theme of the article is its explication of the way in which this alleged Iran operation got underway.

Hersh claims that the Pentagon fought a war with the CIA and that the Pentagon won a total, uncontested victory. He claims that Rumsfeld has consolidated power to such a degree that he will be able to do as he pleases anywhere in the world without Congressional oversight, as one Pentagon adviser put it:
"It's a finesse to give power to Rumsfeld--giving him the right to act swiftly, decisively, and lethally ... It's a global free-fire zone."
The whole thing's ironic -- the way one used to carry out black operations was through the CIA. That was the point of the CIA. But after the scandals of the 70's, CIA clandestine military operations on foreign soil were forced to report to the Senate and House intelligence committees. Now the CIA is the cautious dinosaur the Pentagon is supposed to be -- because we've come full circle, because we have an administration in place that is so corrupt, that is so scornful of democracy and public transparency, that cares so little for the fundamental principles upon which our government was founded, that it is willing to cast aside the notion of separation of powers and the checks and balances that had made quasi-secret organizations like the CIA necessary actors in the business of covertly breaking international law in the first place. Hell, now they can just do it with the army.
And post the second:
Did anyone notice the extent to which [Hersh's article] corroborates the allegations made in last week's most popular magazine article "The Salvador Option"?
The new rules will enable the Special Forces community to set up what it calls “action teams” in the target countries overseas which can be used to find and eliminate terrorist organizations. “Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador?” the former high-level intelligence official asked me, referring to the military-led gangs that committed atrocities in the early nineteen-eighties. “We founded them and we financed them,” he said. “The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren’t going to tell Congress about it.”
. . . When you add to this the fact that both "The Coming Wars" and "The Salvador Option" specifically state that the operations they are describing will be run at least in part by Undersecretary Stephen Cambone, it's pretty clear that both articles are discussing the exact same topic, the same discussion within the highest echelon of policy circles -- the difference is that Michael Hirsh and John Barry are still talking about something that might take place, while Seymour Hersh says that it already is.
But Hersh's article is apparently not the only juicy bit in the current New Yorker. Our distinguished colleage Rorschach at No Capital caught the following item, which confirms an unflattering rumor we eagerly disseminated many months ago:
A former Jordanian government minister has told The New Yorker that an American official confirmed to him that the Iraqi interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, executed six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station last year.

The claim is in an extensive profile of Dr Allawi written for this week's issue of the magazine by an American journalist, Jon Lee Anderson, the author of The Fall of Baghdad and a regular Baghdad correspondent for The New Yorker.

Writing about his research in Jordan in December, Anderson says: "A well-known former government minister told me that an American official had confirmed that the killings took place, saying to him, 'What a mess we're in - we got rid of one son of a bitch only to get another one'" . . . .

Anderson writes: "The man ... described how Allawi had been taken to seven suspects, who were made to stand against a wall in a courtyard of the police station, their faces covered. After being told of their alleged crimes by a police official, Allawi had asked for a pistol, and then shot each prisoner in the head. [One of the men survived.] Afterward, the witness said, Allawi had declared to those present, 'This is how we must deal with the terrorists.' The witness said he approved of Allawi's act, adding that, in any case, the terrorists were better off dead, for they had been tortured for days."

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