CARLO BASILONE (VOICEOVER): According to the New Yorker issue of July 7-14, “Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran.” The article is by Seymour Hersh. He says that the president got up to $400 million in a presidential finding, and that top Democrats were involved.
Courtesy: The New Yorker
VOICE OF SEYMOUR HERSH, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST & AUTHOR: Under law, any covert operation has to debrief to the Senate and House intelligence committees, in this particular case the Senate and House Democratic and Republican’s leaders of the intelligence committee, and also the house speaker, Nancy Pelosi, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, and Republican leaders of the House and Senate. I mean, you’re talking about a very classified presidential finding.
BASILONE: An unidentified source told Hersh, “The finding was focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change.” The funds were requested at the same time that a US National Intelligence Estimate late last year stated that Iran had halted any kind of nuclear weapons programs they may have had by 2003. Despite the report, the Bush administration and many in Congress continue to talk about Iran as a nuclear threat. In an interview with CNN, Hersh talked about Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
HERSH: Their mission is to make sure that before they get out of office next year, either Iran is attacked or it stops its weapon program.
BASILONE: As well, a non-binding resolution with bipartisan support is moving quickly through the House. The resolution calls on the White House to ban the export to Iran of refined petroleum or gasoline, and for “stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran,” and would give the president free rein in dealing with Iran, including a naval blockade. A similar bill is being tabled in the Senate.
JOE LIEBERMAN, US SENATOR (ID-CT): Good morning, everybody.
BASILONE: Senator Joe Lieberman was asked if the resolution would be an act of war against Iran.
LIEBERMAN: Well, of course, I think that the Iranians training and equipping Iraqis who have killed hundreds of American soldiers is an act of war by the Iranians.
BASILONE: Hersh says that not everyone in the administration thinks an attack on Iran is a good thing, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
HERSH: Well, Gates late last year went to a closed-door meeting of the Democratic caucus. This was an off-the-record meeting. And so, with that kind of confidence, Gates spoke rather openly. If we bomb Iran, he said, our grandchildren will be fighting jihadists. In other words, we’ll be dealing with al-Qaeda or that ilk for the next couple of decades, generations. It was very troubling to the members. They asked a lot of questions about it, and he assured them he was speaking only for himself, obviously.
BASILONE: Others have also suggested that force might not be the best way.
TRITA PARSI, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL IRANIAN AMERICAN COUNCIL: The historical pattern in Iran has been that when attacked, people rally around the flag. We saw that in 1980 when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran. This was at a time when Iran was in great chaos. The revolutionary regime had executed a large number of people from the Iranian military. Khomeini’s grip on power was not as strong. He was in a very intense power struggle. But then Saddam invaded, thinking that Iran was weak, thinking that the Iranians would not unify. And within weeks, you had 100,000 volunteers rushing to Khuzistan region in order to expel the invaders. And a lot of historians argue that the Khomeini government did not survive in spite of Saddam’s attack; he survived because of Saddam’s attack. And if history were to repeat itself, which it so often does, then an attack on Iran would not weaken the government in Iran; it would strengthen it. An attack on Iran would not help the pro-democracy forces in Iran; it would kill it. An attack on Iran would not prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb; it will probably cause it to rush towards a nuclear bomb.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.