02 October, 2007

NEW YORKER: USA attack on Iran

NEW YORKER -- 8. October 2007

=== Shifting Targets ===

The Administration's plan for Iran.

by Seymour M. Hersh

In a series of public statements in recent months, President Bush and
members of his Administration have redefined the war in Iraq, to an
increasing degree, as a strategic battle between the United States and
Iran. "Shia extremists, backed by Iran, are training Iraqis to carry out
attacks on our forces and the Iraqi people," Bush told the national
convention of the American Legion in August. "The attacks on our bases and
our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased. . . . The Iranian
regime must halt these actions. And, until it does, I will take actions
necessary to protect our troops." He then concluded, to applause, "I have
authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous
activities."

The President's position, and its corollary—that, if many of America's
problems in Iraq are the responsibility of Tehran, then the solution to
them is to confront the Iranians—have taken firm hold in the
Administration. This summer, the White House, pushed by the office of
Vice-President Dick Cheney, requested that the Joint Chiefs of Staff
redraw long-standing plans for a possible attack on Iran, according to
former officials and government consultants. The focus of the plans had
been a broad bombing attack, with targets including Iran's known and
suspected nuclear facilities and other military and infrastructure sites.
Now the emphasis is on "surgical" strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps
facilities in Tehran and elsewhere, which, the Administration claims, have
been the source of attacks on Americans in Iraq. What had been presented
primarily as a counter-proliferation mission has been reconceived as
counterterrorism.

The shift in targeting reflects three developments. First, the President
and his senior advisers have concluded that their campaign to convince the
American public that Iran poses an imminent nuclear threat has failed
(unlike a similar campaign before the Iraq war), and that as a result
there is not enough popular support for a major bombing campaign. The
second development is that the White House has come to terms, in private,
with the general consensus of the American intelligence community that
Iran is at least five years away from obtaining a bomb. And, finally,
there has been a growing recognition in Washington and throughout the
Middle East that Iran is emerging as the geopolitical winner of the war in
Iraq.

During a secure videoconference that took place early this summer, the
President told Ryan Crocker, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, that he was
thinking of hitting Iranian targets across the border and that the British
"were on board." At that point, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
interjected that there was a need to proceed carefully, because of the
ongoing diplomatic track. Bush ended by instructing Crocker to tell Iran
to stop interfering in Iraq or it would face American retribution.

At a White House meeting with Cheney this summer, according to a former
senior intelligence official, it was agreed that, if limited strikes on
Iran were carried out, the Administration could fend off criticism by
arguing that they were a defensive action to save soldiers in Iraq. If
Democrats objected, the Administration could say, "Bill Clinton did the
same thing; he conducted limited strikes in Afghanistan, the Sudan, and in
Baghdad to protect American lives." The former intelligence official
added, "There is a desperate effort by Cheney et al. to bring military
action to Iran as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the politicians are saying,
'You can't do it, because every Republican is going to be defeated, and
we're only one fact from going over the cliff in Iraq.' But Cheney doesn't
give a rat's ass about the Republican worries, and neither does the
President."

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said, "The President has made it
clear that the United States government remains committed to a diplomatic
solution with respect to Iran. The State Department is working diligently
along with the international community to address our broad range of
concerns." (The White House declined to comment.)

I was repeatedly cautioned, in interviews, that the President has yet to
issue the "execute order" that would be required for a military operation
inside Iran, and such an order may never be issued. But there has been a
significant increase in the tempo of attack planning. In mid-August,
senior officials told reporters that the Administration intended to
declare Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization.
And two former senior officials of the C.I.A. told me that, by late
summer, the agency had increased the size and the authority of the Iranian
Operations Group. (A spokesman for the agency said, "The C.I.A. does not,
as a rule, publicly discuss the relative size of its operational
components.")

"They're moving everybody to the Iran desk," one recently retired C.I.A.
official said. "They're dragging in a lot of analysts and ramping up
everything. It's just like the fall of 2002"—the months before the
invasion of Iraq, when the Iraqi Operations Group became the most
important in the agency. He added, "The guys now running the Iranian
program have limited direct experience with Iran. In the event of an
attack, how will the Iranians react? They will react, and the
Administration has not thought it all the way through."

That theme was echoed by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national-security
adviser, who said that he had heard discussions of the White House's more
limited bombing plans for Iran. Brzezinski said that Iran would likely
react to an American attack "by intensifying the conflict in Iraq and also
in Afghanistan, their neighbors, and that could draw in Pakistan. We will
be stuck in a regional war for twenty years."

In a speech at the United Nations last week, Iran's President, Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, was defiant. He referred to America as an "aggressor" state,
and said, "How can the incompetents who cannot even manage and control
themselves rule humanity and arrange its affairs? Unfortunately, they have
put themselves in the position of God." (The day before, at Columbia, he
suggested that the facts of the Holocaust still needed to be determined.)

"A lot depends on how stupid the Iranians will be," Brzezinski told me.
"Will they cool off Ahmadinejad and tone down their language?" The Bush
Administration, by charging that Iran was interfering in Iraq, was aiming
"to paint it as 'We're responding to what is an intolerable situation,' "
Brzezinski said. "This time, unlike the attack in Iraq, we're going to
play the victim. The name of our game seems to be to get the Iranians to
overplay their hand."

General David Petraeus, the commander of the multinational forces in Iraq,
in his report to Congress in September, buttressed the Administration's
case against Iran. "None of us, earlier this year, appreciated the extent
of Iranian involvement in Iraq, something about which we and Iraq's
leaders all now have greater concern," he said. Iran, Petraeus said, was
fighting "a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in
Iraq."

Iran has had a presence in Iraq for decades; the extent and the purpose of
its current activities there are in dispute, however. During Saddam
Hussein's rule, when the Sunni-dominated Baath Party brutally oppressed
the majority Shiites, Iran supported them. Many in the present Iraqi
Shiite leadership, including prominent members of the government of Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki, spent years in exile in Iran; last week, at the
Council on Foreign Relations, Maliki said, according to the Washington
Post, that Iraq's relations with the Iranians had "improved to the point
that they are not interfering in our internal affairs." Iran is so
entrenched in Iraqi Shiite circles that any "proxy war" could be as much
through the Iraqi state as against it. The crux of the Bush
Administration's strategic dilemma is that its decision to back a
Shiite-led government after the fall of Saddam has empowered Iran, and
made it impossible to exclude Iran from the Iraqi political scene.

Vali Nasr, a professor of international politics at Tufts University, who
is an expert on Iran and Shiism, told me, "Between 2003 and 2006, the
Iranians thought they were closest to the United States on the issue of
Iraq." The Iraqi Shia religious leadership encouraged Shiites to avoid
confrontation with American soldiers and to participate in elections—
believing that a one-man, one-vote election process could only result in a
Shia-dominated government. Initially, the insurgency was mainly Sunni,
especially Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Nasr told me that Iran's policy since
2003 has been to provide funding, arms, and aid to several Shiite factions—
including some in Maliki's coalition. The problem, Nasr said, is that
"once you put the arms on the ground you cannot control how they're used
later."

In the Shiite view, the White House "only looks at Iran's ties to Iraq in
terms of security," Nasr said. "Last year, over one million Iranians
travelled to Iraq on pilgrimages, and there is more than a billion dollars
a year in trading between the two countries. But the Americans act as if
every Iranian inside Iraq were there to import weapons."

Many of those who support the President's policy argue that Iran poses an
imminent threat. In a recent essay in Commentary, Norman Podhoretz
depicted President Ahmadinejad as a revolutionary, "like Hitler . . .
whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to
replace it . . . with a new order dominated by Iran. . . . [T]he plain and
brutal truth is that if Iran is to be prevented from developing a nuclear
arsenal, there is no alternative to the actual use of military force."
Podhoretz concluded, "I pray with all my heart" that President Bush "will
find it possible to take the only action that can stop Iran from following
through on its evil intentions both toward us and toward Israel."
Podhoretz recently told politico.com that he had met with the President
for about forty-five minutes to urge him to take military action against
Iran, and believed that "Bush is going to hit" Iran before leaving office.
(Podhoretz, one of the founders of neoconservatism, is a strong backer of
Rudolph Giuliani's Presidential campaign, and his son-in-law, Elliott
Abrams, is a senior adviser to President Bush on national security.)

In early August, Army Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, the
second-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq, told the Times about an increase in
attacks involving explosively formed penetrators, a type of lethal bomb
that discharges a semi-molten copper slug that can rip through the armor
of Humvees. The Times reported that U.S. intelligence and technical
analyses indicated that Shiite militias had obtained the bombs from Iran.
Odierno said that Iranians had been "surging support" over the past three
or four months.

Questions remain, however, about the provenance of weapons in Iraq,
especially given the rampant black market in arms. David Kay, a former
C.I.A. adviser and the chief weapons inspector in Iraq for the United
Nations, told me that his inspection team was astonished, in the aftermath
of both Iraq wars, by "the huge amounts of arms" it found circulating
among civilians and military personnel throughout the country. He recalled
seeing stockpiles of explosively formed penetrators, as well as charges
that had been recovered from unexploded American cluster bombs. Arms had
also been supplied years ago by the Iranians to their Shiite allies in
southern Iraq who had been persecuted by the Baath Party.

"I thought Petraeus went way beyond what Iran is doing inside Iraq today,"
Kay said. "When the White House started its anti-Iran campaign, six months
ago, I thought it was all craziness. Now it does look like there is some
selective smuggling by Iran, but much of it has been in response to
American pressure and American threats—more a 'shot across the bow' sort
of thing, to let Washington know that it was not going to get away with
its threats so freely. Iran is not giving the Iraqis the good stuff—the
anti-aircraft missiles that can shoot down American planes and its
advanced anti-tank weapons."

Another element of the Administration's case against Iran is the presence
of Iranian agents in Iraq. General Petraeus, testifying before Congress,
said that a commando faction of the Revolutionary Guards was seeking to
turn its allies inside Iraq into a "Hezbollah-like force to serve its
interests." In August, Army Major General Rick Lynch, the commander of the
3rd Infantry Division, told reporters in Baghdad that his troops were
tracking some fifty Iranian men sent by the Revolutionary Guards who were
training Shiite insurgents south of Baghdad. "We know they're here and we
target them as well," he said.

Patrick Clawson, an expert on Iran at the Washington Institute for Near
East Policy, told me that "there are a lot of Iranians at any time inside
Iraq, including those doing intelligence work and those doing humanitarian
missions. It would be prudent for the Administration to produce more
evidence of direct military training—or produce fighters captured in Iraq
who had been trained in Iran." He added, "It will be important for the
Iraqi government to be able to state that they were unaware of this
activity"; otherwise, given the intense relationship between the Iraqi
Shiite leadership and Tehran, the Iranians could say that "they had been
asked by the Iraqi government to train these people." (In late August,
American troops raided a Baghdad hotel and arrested a group of Iranians.
They were a delegation from Iran's energy ministry, and had been invited
to Iraq by the Maliki government; they were later released.)

"If you want to attack, you have to prepare the groundwork, and you have
to be prepared to show the evidence," Clawson said. Adding to the
complexity, he said, is a question that seems almost counterintuitive:
"What is the attitude of Iraq going to be if we hit Iran? Such an attack
could put a strain on the Iraqi government."

A senior European diplomat, who works closely with American intelligence,
told me that there is evidence that Iran has been making extensive
preparation for an American bombing attack. "We know that the Iranians are
strengthening their air-defense capabilities," he said, "and we believe
they will react asymmetrically—hitting targets in Europe and in Latin
America." There is also specific intelligence suggesting that Iran will be
aided in these attacks by Hezbollah. "Hezbollah is capable, and they can
do it," the diplomat said.

In interviews with current and former officials, there were repeated
complaints about the paucity of reliable information. A former high-level
C.I.A. official said that the intelligence about who is doing what inside
Iran "is so thin that nobody even wants his name on it. This is the
problem."

The difficulty of determining who is responsible for the chaos in Iraq can
be seen in Basra, in the Shiite south, where British forces had earlier
presided over a relatively secure area. Over the course of this year,
however, the region became increasingly ungovernable, and by fall the
British had retreated to fixed bases. A European official who has access
to current intelligence told me that "there is a firm belief inside the
American and U.K. intelligence community that Iran is supporting many of
the groups in southern Iraq that are responsible for the deaths of British
and American soldiers. Weapons and money are getting in from Iran. They
have been able to penetrate many groups"—primarily the Mahdi Army and
other Shiite militias.

A June, 2007, report by the International Crisis Group found, however,
that Basra's renewed instability was mainly the result of "the systematic
abuse of official institutions, political assassinations, tribal
vendettas, neighborhood vigilantism and enforcement of social mores,
together with the rise of criminal mafias." The report added that leading
Iraqi politicians and officials "routinely invoke the threat of outside
interference"—from bordering Iran—"to justify their behavior or evade
responsibility for their failures."

Earlier this year, before the surge in U.S. troops, the American command
in Baghdad changed what had been a confrontational policy in western Iraq,
the Sunni heartland (and the base of the Baathist regime), and began
working with the Sunni tribes, including some tied to the insurgency.
Tribal leaders are now getting combat support as well as money,
intelligence, and arms, ostensibly to fight Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
Empowering Sunni forces may undermine efforts toward national
reconciliation, however. Already, tens of thousands of Shiites have fled
Anbar Province, many to Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, while Sunnis have
been forced from their homes in Shiite communities. Vali Nasr, of Tufts,
called the internal displacement of communities in Iraq a form of "ethnic
cleansing."

"The American policy of supporting the Sunnis in western Iraq is making
the Shia leadership very nervous," Nasr said. "The White House makes it
seem as if the Shia were afraid only of Al Qaeda—but they are afraid of
the Sunni tribesmen we are arming. The Shia attitude is 'So what if you're
getting rid of Al Qaeda?' The problem of Sunni resistance is still there.
The Americans believe they can distinguish between good and bad
insurgents, but the Shia don't share that distinction. For the Shia, they
are all one adversary."

Nasr went on, "The United States is trying to fight on all sides—Sunni and
Shia—and be friends with all sides." In the Shiite view, "It's clear that
the United States cannot bring security to Iraq, because it is not doing
everything necessary to bring stability. If they did, they would talk to
anybody to achieve it—even Iran and Syria," Nasr said. (Such engagement
was a major recommendation of the Iraq Study Group.) "America cannot bring
stability in Iraq by fighting Iran in Iraq."

The revised bombing plan for a possible attack, with its tightened focus
on counterterrorism, is gathering support among generals and admirals in
the Pentagon. The strategy calls for the use of sea-launched cruise
missiles and more precisely targeted ground attacks and bombing strikes,
including plans to destroy the most important Revolutionary Guard training
camps, supply depots, and command and control facilities.

"Cheney's option is now for a fast in and out—for surgical strikes," the
former senior American intelligence official told me. The Joint Chiefs
have turned to the Navy, he said, which had been chafing over its role in
the Air Force-dominated air war in Iraq. "The Navy's planes, ships, and
cruise missiles are in place in the Gulf and operating daily. They've got
everything they need—even AWACS are in place and the targets in Iran have
been programmed. The Navy is flying FA-18 missions every day in the Gulf."
There are also plans to hit Iran's anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile
sites. "We've got to get a path in and a path out," the former official
said.

A Pentagon consultant on counterterrorism told me that, if the bombing
campaign took place, it would be accompanied by a series of what he called
"short, sharp incursions" by American Special Forces units into suspected
Iranian training sites. He said, "Cheney is devoted to this, no question."

A limited bombing attack of this sort "only makes sense if the
intelligence is good," the consultant said. If the targets are not clearly
defined, the bombing "will start as limited, but then there will be an
'escalation special.' Planners will say that we have to deal with
Hezbollah here and Syria there. The goal will be to hit the cue ball one
time and have all the balls go in the pocket. But add-ons are always there
in strike planning."

The surgical-strike plan has been shared with some of America's allies,
who have had mixed reactions to it. Israel's military and political
leaders were alarmed, believing, the consultant said, that it didn't
sufficiently target Iran's nuclear facilities. The White House has been
reassuring the Israeli government, the former senior official told me,
that the more limited target list would still serve the goal of
counter-proliferation by decapitating the leadership of the Revolutionary
Guards, who are believed to have direct control over the nuclear-research
program. "Our theory is that if we do the attacks as planned it will
accomplish two things," the former senior official said.

An Israeli official said, "Our main focus has been the Iranian nuclear
facilities, not because other things aren't important. We've worked on
missile technology and terrorism, but we see the Iranian nuclear issue as
one that cuts across everything." Iran, he added, does not need to develop
an actual warhead to be a threat. "Our problems begin when they learn and
master the nuclear fuel cycle and when they have the nuclear materials,"
he said. There was, for example, the possibility of a "dirty bomb," or of
Iran's passing materials to terrorist groups. "There is still time for
diplomacy to have an impact, but not a lot," the Israeli official said.
"We believe the technological timetable is moving faster than the
diplomatic timetable. And if diplomacy doesn't work, as they say, all
options are on the table."

The bombing plan has had its most positive reception from the newly
elected government of Britain's Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. A senior
European official told me, "The British perception is that the Iranians
are not making the progress they want to see in their nuclear-enrichment
processing. All the intelligence community agree that Iran is providing
critical assistance, training, and technology to a surprising number of
terrorist groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, through Hezbollah, in
Lebanon, and Israel/Palestine, too."

There were four possible responses to this Iranian activity, the European
official said: to do nothing ("There would be no retaliation to the
Iranians for their attacks; this would be sending the wrong signal"); to
publicize the Iranian actions ("There is one great difficulty with this
option—the widespread lack of faith in American intelligence
assessments"); to attack the Iranians operating inside Iraq ("We've been
taking action since last December, and it does have an effect"); or,
finally, to attack inside Iran.

The European official continued, "A major air strike against Iran could
well lead to a rallying around the flag there, but a very careful
targeting of terrorist training camps might not." His view, he said, was
that "once the Iranians get a bloody nose they rethink things." For
example, Ali Akbar Rafsanjani and Ali Larijani, two of Iran's most
influential political figures, "might go to the Supreme Leader and say,
'The hard-line policies have got us into this mess. We must change our
approach for the sake of the regime.' "

A retired American four-star general with close ties to the British
military told me that there was another reason for Britain's interest—
shame over the failure of the Royal Navy to protect the sailors and Royal
Marines who were seized by Iran on March 23rd, in the Persian Gulf. "The
professional guys are saying that British honor is at stake, and if
there's another event like that in the water off Iran the British will hit
back," he said.

The revised bombing plan "could work—if it's in response to an Iranian
attack," the retired four-star general said. "The British may want to do
it to get even, but the more reasonable people are saying, 'Let's do it if
the Iranians stage a cross-border attack inside Iraq.' It's got to be ten
dead American soldiers and four burned trucks." There is, he added, "a
widespread belief in London that Tony Blair's government was sold a bill
of goods by the White House in the buildup to the war against Iraq. So if
somebody comes into Gordon Brown's office and says, 'We have this
intelligence from America,' Brown will ask, 'Where did it come from? Have
we verified it?' The burden of proof is high."

The French government shares the Administration's sense of urgency about
Iran's nuclear program, and believes that Iran will be able to produce a
warhead within two years. France's newly elected President, Nicolas
Sarkozy, created a stir in late August when he warned that Iran could be
attacked if it did not halt is nuclear program. Nonetheless, France has
indicated to the White House that it has doubts about a limited strike,
the former senior intelligence official told me. Many in the French
government have concluded that the Bush Administration has exaggerated the
extent of Iranian meddling inside Iraq; they believe, according to a
European diplomat, that "the American problems in Iraq are due to their
own mistakes, and now the Americans are trying to show some teeth. An
American bombing will show only that the Bush Administration has its own
agenda toward Iran."

A European intelligence official made a similar point. "If you attack
Iran," he told me, "and do not label it as being against Iran's nuclear
facilities, it will strengthen the regime, and help to make the Islamic
air in the Middle East thicker."

Ahmadinejad, in his speech at the United Nations, said that Iran
considered the dispute over its nuclear program "closed." Iran would deal
with it only through the International Atomic Energy Agency, he said, and
had decided to "disregard unlawful and political impositions of the
arrogant powers." He added, in a press conference after the speech, "the
decisions of the United States and France are not important."

The director general of the I.A.E.A., Mohamed ElBaradei, has for years
been in an often bitter public dispute with the Bush Administration; the
agency's most recent report found that Iran was far less proficient in
enriching uranium than expected. A diplomat in Vienna, where the I.A.E.A.
is based, said, "The Iranians are years away from making a bomb, as
ElBaradei has said all along. Running three thousand centrifuges does not
make a bomb." The diplomat added, referring to hawks in the Bush
Administration, "They don't like ElBaradei, because they are in a state of
denial. And now their negotiating policy has failed, and Iran is still
enriching uranium and still making progress."

The diplomat expressed the bitterness that has marked the I.A.E.A.'s
dealings with the Bush Administration since the buildup to the 2003
invasion of Iraq. "The White House's claims were all a pack of lies, and
Mohamed is dismissive of those lies," the diplomat said.

Hans Blix, a former head of the I.A.E.A., questioned the Bush
Administration's commitment to diplomacy. "There are important cards that
Washington could play; instead, they have three aircraft carriers sitting
in the Persian Gulf," he said. Speaking of Iran's role in Iraq, Blix
added, "My impression is that the United States has been trying to push up
the accusations against Iran as a basis for a possible attack—as an excuse
for jumping on them."

The Iranian leadership is feeling the pressure. In the press conference
after his U.N. speech, Ahmadinejad was asked about a possible attack.
"They want to hurt us," he said, "but, with the will of God, they won't be
able to do it." According to a former State Department adviser on Iran,
the Iranians complained, in diplomatic meetings in Baghdad with Ambassador
Crocker, about a refusal by the Bush Administration to take advantage of
their knowledge of the Iraqi political scene. The former adviser said,
"They've been trying to convey to the United States that 'We can help you
in Iraq. Nobody knows Iraq better than us.' " Instead, the Iranians are
preparing for an American attack.

The adviser said that he had heard from a source in Iran that the
Revolutionary Guards have been telling religious leaders that they can
stand up to an American attack. "The Guards are claiming that they can
infiltrate American security," the adviser said. "They are bragging that
they have spray-painted an American warship—to signal the Americans that
they can get close to them." (I was told by the former senior intelligence
official that there was an unexplained incident, this spring, in which an
American warship was spray-painted with a bull's-eye while docked in
Qatar, which may have been the source of the boasts.)

"Do you think those crazies in Tehran are going to say, 'Uncle Sam is
here! We'd better stand down'? " the former senior intelligence official
said. "The reality is an attack will make things ten times warmer."

Another recent incident, in Afghanistan, reflects the tension over
intelligence. In July, the London Telegraph reported that what appeared to
be an SA-7 shoulder-launched missile was fired at an American C-130
Hercules aircraft. The missile missed its mark. Months earlier, British
commandos had intercepted a few truckloads of weapons, including one
containing a working SA-7 missile, coming across the Iranian border. But
there was no way of determining whether the missile fired at the C-130 had
come from Iran—especially since SA-7s are available through black-market
arms dealers.

Vincent Cannistraro, a retired C.I.A. officer who has worked closely with
his counterparts in Britain, added to the story: "The Brits told me that
they were afraid at first to tell us about the incident—in fear that
Cheney would use it as a reason to attack Iran." The intelligence
subsequently was forwarded, he said.

The retired four-star general confirmed that British intelligence "was
worried" about passing the information along. "The Brits don't trust the
Iranians," the retired general said, "but they also don't trust Bush and
Cheney."

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/10/08/071008fa_fact_hersh?printable=true

=============================

Senior Bush Official: "I hate all Iranians."

by Simon Walters

Global Research, October 1, 2007
Daily Mail - 2007-09-29

Britsh MPs visiting the Pentagon to discuss America's stance on Iran and
Iraq were shocked to be told by one of President Bush's senior women
officials: "I hate all Iranians."

And she also accused Britain of "dismantling" the Anglo-US-led coalition
in Iraq by pulling troops out of Basra too soon.

The all-party group of MPs say Debra Cagan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for
Coalition Affairs to Defence Secretary Robert Gates, made the comments
this month.


The six MPs were taken aback by the hardline approach of the Pentagon and
in particular Ms Cagan, one of Mr Bush's foreign policy advisers.

She made it clear that although the US had no plans to attack Iran, it did
not rule out doing so if the Iranians ignored warnings not to develop a
nuclear bomb.

It was her tone when they met her on September 11 that shocked them most.

The MPs say that at one point she said: "In any case, I hate all Iranians."

Although it was an aside, it was not out of keeping with her general
demeanour.

"She seemed more keen on saying she didn't like Iranians than that the US
had no plans to attack Iran," said one MP. "She did say there were no
plans for an attack but the tone did not fit the words."

Another MP said: "I formed the impression that some in America are looking
for an excuse to attack Iran. It was very alarming."

Tory Stuart Graham, who was on the ten-day trip, would not discuss Ms
Cagan but said: "It was very sobering to hear from the horse's mouth how
the US sees the situation."

Ms Cagan, whose job involves keeping the coalition in Iraq together, also
criticised Britain for pulling out troops.

"She said if we leave the south of Iraq, the Iranians will take it over,"
said one MP.

Another said: "She is very forceful and some of my colleagues were
intimidated by her muscular style."

The MPs also saw Henry Worcester, Deputy Director of the Office of Iranian
Affairs, who said he favoured talks with Iran.

The Pentagon denied Ms Cagan said she "hated" Iranians.

"She doesn't speak that way," said an official.

But when The Mail on Sunday spoke to four of the six MPs, three confirmed
privately that she made the remark and one declined to comment. The other
two could not be contacted.


Have a look at her picture:
http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2007/09_04/Counselor2909MOS_468x365.jpg
TITLE: Hard line: Debra Cagan stunned the MPs with her comments

original article:
http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6939

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posted by u2r2h at Tuesday, October 02, 2007

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