Sunday, October 18, 2009

Is the US supporting terrorists?

Five Iranian Commanders, 26 Others Killed by Suicide Bomber
US-Backed Jundallah Reportedly Claims Credit

by Jason Ditz, October 18, 2009, via

At least 31 people were killed today, many of them top commanders in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and 25 others were wounded in a suicide attack in Sistan-Balochistan.

The article has links on to BBC's reporting on the attack.

The exact extent of US backing for Jundallah is a matter of some dispute. Officials who privately acknowledge the relationship insist everything was careful worked to avoid Congressional oversight and that the relationship was “appropriate”, but the captured brother of Jundallah’s leader insists the US directly funded the group and has ordered them to carry out attacks.

So, is the US a supporter and financier of terrorist attacks?

Lets go back to what Seymour Hersh was saying and writing in the middle of 2008...

Preparing the Battlefield
The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran.

by Seymour M. Hersh in the New Republic

late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations.

and ...

“The Finding was focussed on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.” The Finding provided for a whole new range of activities in southern Iran and in the areas, in the east, where Baluchi political opposition is strong, he said.

and ...
The Democratic leadership’s agreement to commit hundreds of millions of dollars for more secret operations in Iran was remarkable, given the general concerns of officials like Gates, Fallon, and many others. “The oversight process has not kept pace—it’s been coöpted” by the Administration, the person familiar with the contents of the Finding said. “The process is broken, and this is dangerous stuff we’re authorizing.”

Does anyone think that the 'oversight' process has gotten any better with complete Democratic control of the government? Can anyone picture the Democratic Congress that refused to investigate Bush ever having any real oversight over a Democratic President?

The language was inserted into the Finding at the urging of the C.I.A., a former senior intelligence official said. The covert operations set forth in the Finding essentially run parallel to those of a secret military task force, now operating in Iran, that is under the control of JSOC. Under the Bush Administration’s interpretation of the law, clandestine military activities, unlike covert C.I.A. operations, do not need to be depicted in a Finding, because the President has a constitutional right to command combat forces in the field without congressional interference. But the borders between operations are not always clear: in Iran, C.I.A. agents and regional assets have the language skills and the local knowledge to make contacts for the JSOC operatives, and have been working with them to direct personnel, matériel, and money into Iran from an obscure base in western Afghanistan. As a result, Congress has been given only a partial view of how the money it authorized may be used. One of JSOC’s task-force missions, the pursuit of “high-value targets,” was not directly addressed in the Finding. There is a growing realization among some legislators that the Bush Administration, in recent years, has conflated what is an intelligence operation and what is a military one in order to avoid fully informing Congress about what it is doing.

“This is a big deal,” the person familiar with the Finding said. “The C.I.A. needed the Finding to do its traditional stuff, but the Finding does not apply to JSOC. The President signed an Executive Order after September 11th giving the Pentagon license to do things that it had never been able to do before without notifying Congress. The claim was that the military was ‘preparing the battle space,’ and by using that term they were able to circumvent congressional oversight. Everything is justified in terms of fighting the global war on terror.” He added, “The Administration has been fuzzing the lines; there used to be a shade of gray”—between operations that had to be briefed to the senior congressional leadership and those which did not—“but now it’s a shade of mush.”

“The agency says we’re not going to get in the position of helping to kill people without a Finding,” the former senior intelligence official told me. He was referring to the legal threat confronting some agency operatives for their involvement in the rendition and alleged torture of suspects in the war on terror. “This drove the military people up the wall,” he said. As far as the C.I.A. was concerned, the former senior intelligence official said, “the over-all authorization includes killing, but it’s not as though that’s what they’re setting out to do. It’s about gathering information, enlisting support.” The Finding sent to Congress was a compromise, providing legal cover for the C.I.A. while referring to the use of lethal force in ambiguous terms.

That's a big block of quotes, but this is important stuff, and well worth reading. First item of note is that there are parallel CIA and military operations working in exactly this area of Iran and exactly with the sort of groups that appear to have started these attacks.

Listen to Seymour Hersh on Democracy Now! just after this article was published.

At the very end of the interview, he touches on ....
They would also like to create enough chaos in the country, bombings, sabotage, which is going up since this operation began. There’s always the connection but I do not have any empirical evidence for it. In the last four months, the latest incidents in terms of domestic violence, bombings, in attacks have gone up exponentially. We would like to the Iranian central government crackdown but in some vigorous weighed against these groups include a situation where there is sort of open dissidents, open warfare, then perhaps begin come in.

If we had a real Congress in a real democracy with real checks and balances, it would appear to be long since time for the Congress to investigate and understand exactly what lethal force is being used in this region where suicide bombs are going off ... and to put an end to it.

Killing 30 or more people with a bomb is wrong, and it is evil. The only way for peace is for all sides to agree that this is wrong, that this is evil, and that this can never occur.

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