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COL. SAM GARDINER: Well, the evidence is beginning to accumulate that a decision has already been made to use military force in Iran.
It was an operation called Southern Focus, and the only guidance that the military -- or the guidance that the military had from Rumsfeld was keep it below the CNN line. His specific words. The evidence that we've already --
AMY GOODMAN: Keep it below what?
COL. SAM GARDINER: The CNN line. In other words, I don't want this to appear on CNN, okay? That was his guidance to the military, you can begin to bomb Iraq, but don't let it appear on CNN.
We know that there is a group in Iraq, a Kurdish group called the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, that crosses the border from Iraq into Iran, and they have taken credit for killing numbers of revolutionary guard military people.
Now, the question that really follows from that is “Who authorized that?” See, there is no congressional authorization to conduct combat operations against Iran. There are a couple of possibilities. One of them is that it's being justified under the terrorism authorization that occurred in 2001. The problem with that is that you would have to prove a connection to 9/11. I don't think you can do that with Iran.
The second possibility is that it's being done under the War Powers Act. I don't want to get too technical, but the War Powers Act would require the President to notify the Congress 60 days after the use of military force or invasion or putting military forces in a new country under that legislation, and the President hasn't notified the Congress that American troops are operating inside Iran. So it's a very serious question about the constitutional framework under which we are now conducting military operations in Iran.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Colonel Sam Gardiner, finally, Israel. Where does Israel fit into this picture?
COL. SAM GARDINER: …. I think Israel has convinced the United States that it is better for the United States to do it by itself, rather than to have Israel do it, in terms of the potential reactions in the Middle East. So I think Israel's policy statements are, you know, it's a world problem that translates to being it is an American problem that has to be dealt with.
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. 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.
A participant in the war game is CIA veteran Ray McGovern. He is aware that there are clandestine strategies being pursued which parallel these visible ones.
Hersh: 'If the order were to be given for an attack, the American combat troops now operating in Iran would be in position to mark the critical targets with laser beams, to insure bombing accuracy and to minimize civilian casualties. As of early winter , I was told by the government consultant with close ties to civilians in the Pentagon, the units were also working with minority groups in Iran, including the Azeris, in the north, the Baluchis, in the southeast, and the Kurds, in the northeast. The troops “are studying the terrain, and giving away walking-around money to ethnic tribes, and recruiting scouts from local tribes and shepherds,” the consultant said.
The Pentagon is bypassing official US intelligence channels and turning to a dangerous and unruly cast of characters in order to create strife in Iran in preparation for any possible attack, former and current intelligence officials say.
“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 them.”
Stephen Cambone is the Undersecretary of Defense Intelligence. His office did not return calls for comment.
Rumsfeld under instructions from Cheney, began using the group on special ops missions into Iran to pave the way for a potential Iran strike.
Although the specifics of what the MEK is being used for remain unclear, a UN official close to the Security Council explained that the newly renamed MEK soldiers are being run instead of military advance teams, committing acts of violence in hopes of staging an insurgency of the Iranian Sunni population.
We asked how long the MEK agents have been active in the region under the guidance of the US military civilian leadership, the UN official explained that the clandestine war had been going on for roughly a year and included unmanned drones run jointly by several agencies
Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) is the largest and most militant group opposed to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Also known as the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, MEK is led by husband and wife Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. MEK was added to the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist groups in 1997.
MEK was founded in the 1960s by a group of college-educated Iranian leftists opposed to the country’s pro-Western ruler, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Although the group took part in the 1979 Islamic revolution that replaced the shah with a Shiite Islamist regime, MEK’s ideology, a blend of Marxism and Islamism, put it at odds with the postrevolutionary government. In 1981, the group was driven from its bases on the Iran-Iraq border and resettled in Paris, where it began supporting Iraq in its eight-year war against Khomeini’s Iran. In 1986, MEK moved its headquarters to Iraq where it received its primary support to attack the regime in Iran. During the 2003 Iraq war, U.S. forces cracked down on MEK’s bases in Iraq, and in June 2003 French authorities raided an MEK compound outside Paris and arrested 160 people, including Maryam Rajavi.
When Saddam Hussein was in power, MEK received the majority of its financial support from the Iraqi regime. It also used front organizations, such as the Muslim Iranian Student’s Society, to collect money from expatriate Iranians and others, according to the State Department’s counterterrorism office. Iraq was MEK’s primary benefactor. Iraq provided MEK with bases, weapons, and protection, and MEK harassed Saddam’s Iranian foes. MEK’s attacks on Iran traditionally intensified when relations between Iran and Iraq grew strained. Iraq encouraged or restrained MEK, depending on Baghdad’s interests.