January 19, 2005

Exporting Democracy
or Terrorism?

[1] http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=4474

Seymour Hersh exposes the scheme to make America a terrorist
by Justin Raimondo

Iran's defense minister was [2]pretty cocky the other day:

"'We are able to say that we have strength such that no country
can attack us because they do not have precise information about
our military capabilities due to our ability to implement
flexible strategies,' Shamkhani told reporters on the sidelines
of a ceremony to present awards for the best military equipment.
We can claim that we have rapidly produced equipment that has
resulted in the greatest deterrent."

If I were [3]Ali Shamkhani, I wouldn't be so sure about that. I
don't know if His Excellency has a subscription to The New
Yorker, but I would strongly advise him to read [4]Seymour
Hersh's piece in the latest issue. From [5]My Lai to [6]Abu
Ghraib, Hersh has consistently given us the inside scoop on what
the War Party is up to, and this time he has a real blockbuster:

"The President has signed a series of findings and executive
orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special
Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected
terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East
and South Asia."

Secret commando groups, heretofore unknown "findings" and
"executive orders" given in the dark: reading Hersh, we are
initiated into the secret mysteries of our rulers. He strips
away the veil of "democracy" to reveal the naked coercion that
is the essence of all states everywhere, but particularly the
American state as it morphs from a republic into a full-fledged

"The Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance
missions inside Iran at least since last summer. Much of the
focus is on the accumulation of intelligence and targeting
information on Iranian nuclear, chemical, and missile sites,
both declared and suspected. The goal is to identify and isolate
three dozen, and perhaps more, such targets that could be
destroyed by precision strikes and short-term commando raids.
'The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy
as much of the military infrastructure as possible,' the
government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon told me."

Unrepentant in the face of failure in Iraq, emboldened by the
election, the Bushies are doggedly sticking to their vision of a
Middle East "democratic" transformation and Iran is the biggest,
most important, and most immediate target in their sights. Not
only that, but they are moving against the mullahs with the
covert support of Pakistan, whose nuclear scientists know much
about the Iranian nuclear program. In exchange for this help,
the administration is letting them hold on to [7]A.Q. Khan, the
nuclear scientist who apparently was the key figure in a
Pakistani-centered black market in nukes.

Hersh's piece generated [8]lots of headlines. Plenty of people
have been wondering where Bush the Conqueror would strike next.
My own educated guess is or was Syria, simply because "it's
[9]doable," as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said of
Iraq. Others thought that the day of the neocons was [10]over
and [11]done with, and they would finally! be brought to
account. The president, moving into his second term, was
ditching them for good: this conclusion was reached by engaging
in the Washingtonian version of Kremlinology, an inside-baseball
[12]scoreboard of who gets appointed to what, and who doesn't.
Who's leaving? Who's staying? [13]The tea leaves told us the
neocons were out, but Hersh contradicts this wishful thinking as
clearly and firmly as the president did the other day when he
was asked why heads weren't rolling over the unfolding debacle
in Iraq:

[14]"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004

The Bushies are going to continue their global rampage, and this
news is hardly shocking. What makes Hersh's revelations so
sensationally newsworthy is that he's not reporting on a plan
that's in the works, but one that is being carried out even as
we learn of it. [15]This horrifies David Frum, chief political
[16]commissar at National Review, who accuses Hersh of
deliberately endangering American lives: as if the Iranians had
no grounds whatsoever for believing the U.S. is using every
means to discover the nature and whereabouts of Iran's nuclear
facilities. Given Frum's premise, any publicity given to
exposing the relentlessly aggressive foreign policy of this
administration is tantamount to treason. That's rich, especially
coming from a Canadian. A reflexive authoritarian, Frum will
seize on any pretext to make the argument that war critics must
be silenced. But we don't silence critics of the government in
this country at least, not yet and if he's going to live here,
he'll just have to get used to it: America, love it or leave it,

On the other hand, we have [17]Roger L. Simon, the [18]sometime
novelist and an unfailingly reliable barometer of neoconnish
opinion, who is generally more good-natured and even genial than
dour, unsmiling Comrade Frum. After getting in the requisite
number of licks against his target Hersh's piece is "his latest
infusion of goo" and otherwise typifying the reporter without
confronting the reportage, Simon just laughs it all off. While
sounding annoyed, at first, because Hersh "has an open 'leak
line' from disgruntled CIA agents and surly State Department
officials permanently plugged into his ear," by the end of his
post he's chuckling softly to himself, averring that Hersh has
been taken. But of course the administration is developing a
plan to counter Iran's nuclear self-assertion, he avers:

"If I were someone in the government who wanted to announce that
we were taking a tough line and had some nasty surprises for the
mullahs (to scare them, of course), but didn't want to make this
an official public policy statement, what would I do? I'd leak
it to Seymour Hersh and count to five. Am I wrong? The President
of the United States has now essentially [19]corroborated

It wasn't enough that the president characterized Iran as a
major spoke in the "axis of evil," second only to Iraq. It
wasn't enough to emit [20]ceaseless threats and refuse to
negotiate. Even the widespread [21]congressional support of an
anti-government Marxist terrorist group known as the
[22]Mujahedin e-Khalq (MEK), camped just across the border in
Iraq, didn't put the fear of God in the Iranian government. Only
an article in The New Yorker could do that.

But Simon is right about the Iranian game plan being no big
surprise. The neocon policy wonks have been wonking about this
for years: [23]Michael Ledeen has made a career out of it.
"[24]Faster, please!" Ledeen tirelessly exhorts the U.S.
government to fund a political movement that will rise up all on
its own if only Uncle Sam will give them a sign. As Hersh
describes it:

"The government consultant told me that the hawks in the
Pentagon, in private discussions, have been urging a limited
attack on Iran because they believe it could lead to a toppling
of the religious leadership. 'Within the soul of Iran there is a
struggle between secular nationalists and reformers, on the one
hand, and, on the other hand, the fundamentalist Islamic
movement,' the consultant told me. 'The minute the aura of
invincibility which the mullahs enjoy is shattered, and with it
the ability to hoodwink the West, the Iranian regime will
collapse' like the former Communist regimes in Romania, East
Germany, and the Soviet Union. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz share that
belief, he said."

If this "government consultant" isn't Ledeen, it is someone
remarkably Ledeen-like. In any case, this is hardly news: as the
president will no doubt reiterate in his inaugural address, the
"[25]global democratic revolution" and our neocon grand
strategists are still in the drivers' seat. So what else is new?

What's new is the horror at the heart of Hersh's article, a
depth of evil I never thought any American government would sink
to, which, if true, signals our passage into uncharted

Hersh is very much [26]focused on the bureaucratic internecine
struggle of various factions within the government, with the CIA
and old-line Pentagon generals on one side, and the neocons atop
the Pentagon's civilian leadership and swarming all over the
office of the vice president. If the rest of the country is
divided into [27]red states and blue states, then the
inside-the-Beltway crowd comes in shades of yellow and green:
the former are the infamous [28]chickenhawks (a synonym for
neocons), and the latter are the Old Guard, green with envy over
the triumph of their factional rivals. The monarch is himself a
very bright yellow, and, as a consequence, the greens are being
purged. At the CIA Green Central plenty of [29]top-tier analysts
are being put out to pasture.

These are the anonymous former intelligence officers and
about-to-be-former government officials who provide a constant
supply of grist for Hersh's mill, and they have their own
agenda. But that doesn't mean anything if what Hersh reports is
true. Furthermore, Hersh's emphasis on the bureaucratic turf
wars is not just inside baseball, or evidence that he's being
manipulated by his sources. Because the whole point of this
intra-bureaucratic struggle is that the War Party is doing an
end run around the Constitution, the Congress, and the American
people. The president and Rumsfeld intend to

"Run the [secret] operations off the books free from legal
restrictions imposed on the C.I.A. Under current law, all C.I.A.
covert activities overseas must be authorized by a Presidential
finding and reported to the Senate and House intelligence
committees. (The laws were enacted after a series of scandals in
the nineteen-seventies involving C.I.A. domestic spying and
attempted assassinations of foreign leaders.) 'The Pentagon
doesn't feel obligated to report any of this to Congress,' the
former high-level intelligence official said. 'They don't even
call it "covert ops" it's too close to the C.I.A. phrase. In
their view, it's "black reconnaissance." They're not even going
to tell the cincs' the regional American military

Hersh's remarkable series on this war the whole saga of Abu
Ghraib, the "[30]Copper Green" project, the creation of a
[31]parallel intelligence unit that bypassed the CIA and fed the
White House [32]forged documentary "evidence" of Iraq's nuclear
ambitions takes place in a dark, shadowy world of night
predators, where stealth and deception are cherished virtues.
All these outrages against the Constitution, against the very
concept of decency and any sense of morality or human dignity
occurred in darkest secrecy. Torture, assassination squads, a
campaign of lies culminating in a horrific war the people
wouldn't put up with it if they knew. Not the American people:
not for a moment.

Rumsfeld is at the center of each and every scandal, and the
centralization of power in his hands is what concerns Hersh
greatly. From the beginning, the truculent old troll has been
annexing vast territories to add to his bureaucratic empire,
encroaching on the CIA and various other bureaucratic fiefdoms,
absorbing them or their functions into the Great [33]Borg of the

The purpose of this, aside from the Law of Bureaucratic
Expansionism it's exponential if left unchecked is to achieve a
level of secrecy supposedly required by the circumstances of the
post-9/11 era. The law forbids the CIA from running death
squads, overthrowing governments, dealing dope, or engaging in
various other morally indefensible activities without at least
some kind of congressional oversight. But the DoD can literally
get away with murder, without reporting to Congress except in
the most general terms, simply by invoking the presidential
power in wartime. Like any dictator, George W. Bush's authority
as commander-in-chief overrides Congress, the courts, and the
laws of God and man at least according to White House legal

The president, you'll remember, believes he has been [35]chosen
by God, and Rumsfeld is his prophet, his instrument, the leader
of the Bushian Church Militant in its fight against the forces
of Satan. But the terrible secret of these [36]heavenly hosts is
that they've decided to [37]go Satanic, so as to beat [38]Satan
at his own game:

"Under Rumsfeld's new approach, I was told, U.S. military
operatives would be permitted to pose abroad as corrupt foreign
businessmen seeking to buy contraband items that could be used
in nuclear-weapons systems. In some cases, according to the
Pentagon advisers, local citizens could be recruited and asked
to join up with guerrillas or terrorists. This could potentially
involve organizing and carrying out combat operations, or even
terrorist activities. Some operations will likely take place in
nations in which there is an American diplomatic mission, with
an Ambassador and a C.I.A. station chief, the Pentagon
consultant said. The Ambassador and the station chief would not
necessarily have a need to know, under the Pentagon's current
interpretation of its reporting requirement.

"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.' A
former military officer, who has knowledge of the Pentagon's
commando capabilities, said, 'We're going to be riding with the
bad boys.'"

I'm going to resist [39]citing Nietzsche, and confine myself to
the obvious point that if you ride with the bad boys you are one
of the bad boys. I note, also, that the use of the word "boys"
gives this whole fantastic scheme a frighteningly adolescent
air. Are these adult youngsters out on a lark about to bring
total discredit and even shame on us all? They already have at
Abu Ghraib, but this, if it's true, is worse: the idea that we
would attempt to infiltrate the terrorist "network" by setting
up a terrorist network of our own that we would deploy "action
teams" to engage in combat and "even terrorist activities"
leaves one breathless. All sorts of questions arise, like
vampires at sunset: Where would these "terrorist activities"
take place and how could the authors of this crazed scheme
guarantee they would never occur on American soil?

So now we have the ultimate irony: the U.S. government wants to
create terrorist groups in the name of the "war on terrorism."
Just as the "War on Poverty" created more poverty, and the "War
on Drugs" created more drug users and enriched drug dealers, so
our commanding officers in the War on Terrorism (in U.S.
government parlance they call it the Global War on Terrorism, or
[40]GWOT) are now yearning to be in the business of creating
more terrorism. Rummy wants to ride with the "bad boys," but he
doesn't want the American people the taxpayers to know about it.
This government is operating under the "new rules," drawn up by
them, without any accountability or even the knowledge of anyone
outside the circle of power.

Yes, we remember the [41]death squads of El Salvador. They want
to do the same in Iraq, as [42]last week's headlines attested.
But this business of setting up terrorist guerrilla groups,
possibly "[43]false flag" operations, in an attempt to draw the
real terrorists into our net, is playing with fire. [44]The FBI
did this in their campaign against the Ku Klux Klan, and
domestic law enforcement agencies regularly infiltrate criminal
gangs, but the great danger with this tactic is that, very
often, these agents go over to the dark side. They spend so much
of their time in a criminal milieu that they eventually become
criminals, crossing over the very thin line between cop and

If we take this up to the level Rumsfeld proposes, we'll be
asking for [45]blowback of potentially massive proportions. If
the government itself engages in terrorism, and deploys "fake"
terrorist groups as decoys, after the next 9/11 will we have to
wonder if our own government was somehow involved in it?

In that case, I throw in the towel. I give up. I could take the
threat of a foreign terrorist menace, and live with the reality
that bad guys from some unpleasant and obscure corner of the
globe are on the loose and want to kill us. But when the bad
guys are Americans or, worse, foreign bad guys working under
American direction and at American taxpayers' expense that just
isn't playing fair. These are the "new rules" Rumsfeld wants to
institute, but you know what? I ain't playin'. Any country that
allows this monstrous immorality isn't worth saving.

The worst part aside from the sheer juvenility of this
crack-brained scheme is that they think it will work. One
official cited by Hersh boasts that they're going to win the
"war on terrorism" by the end of Bush's term. And here we've
been routinely assured that we wouldn't see the end of it for at
least a generation [46]or so. [47]Sidney Blumenthal makes the
trenchant point that the president and his circle live inside a
very well-insulated cocoon, and Hersh confirms the delusional
nature of this narrow, war-maddened clique. These people are
capable of anything and that's what makes them so dangerous.

Hersh's big scoop isn't that George W. Bush is going to carry
his crusade to every continent because the president proclaims
it at every opportunity. Nor is it that we have agents on the
ground in Iran the Iranians already knew that. Our ex-friend
[48]Ahmed Chalabi no doubt let them in on most of the details.
The scoop is that we have decided to join the Axis of Evil
ostensibly in order to fight it. If I thought for a moment that
Americans can live with that, then I'd wear the "anti-American"
label like a badge of honor.


1. http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=4474
2. http://www.mehrnews.ir/en/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=149560
3. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/101754/1/.html
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9. http://www.amconmag.com/01_13_03/geyer7.html
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  18. http://www.rogerlsimon.com/books/
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  20. http://www.antiwar.com/justin/j052803.html
  21. http://www.hillnews.com/news/040203/terrorist.aspx
  22. http://www.antiwar.com/justin/j090303.html
  23. http://www.disinfopedia.org/wiki.phtml?title=Michael_Ledeen
  24. http://www.nationalreview.com/ledeen/ledeen042902.asp
  25. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2003/11/mil-031107-rferl-162305.htm
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  27. http://slate.msn.com/id/2103764/
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  34. http://talkleft.com/new_archives/007070.html
  35. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,1075950,00.html
  36. http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/c/b/cbhhador.htm
  37. http://www.churchofsatan.com/
  38. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09410a.htm
  39. http://www.wilcherish.com/cardshop/quotes/nietz1.htm
  40. http://www.dscc.dla.mil/offices/land/gwot.html
  41. http://antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=4407
  42. http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&q=%22salvador%2Boption%22&ie=UTF-8&scoring=d
  43. http://www.randomhouse.com/features/spybook/spy/970101.html
  44. http://www.historychannel.com/speeches/archive/speech_325.html
  45. http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Blowback_CJohnson/Blowback_CJohnson.html
  46. http://www.brookings.edu/views/articles/hess/20031104.htm
  47. http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/edit/archives/2005/01/18/2003219937
  48. http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=2683