Monday, January 17, 2005

SEYMOUR HERSH'S LATEST PIECE in The New Yorker is about the Bush administration's plans to invade Iran, probably by summer, but more than that, it describes the White House and Pentagon's vast new powers to conduct covert operations -- with no accountability to Congress. The Pentagon has siphoned off most of the CIA's authority to conduct intelligence operations. From now on, instead of informing Bush about national security threats based on intelligence missions it has initiated and authorized, Bush and Rumsfeld will be telling the CIA what military operations they want to do and the CIA will be responsible for finding the intelligence to justify them. And as a result of the "compromise" intelligence reform legislation, which stripped the new post of national intelligence director of any serious power to oversee and coordinate intelligence, Defense will be able to do basically anything it wants anywhere in the world it wants to without Congress even knowing about it, much less approving it.

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. ...

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.”

In other words, Bush and Rumsfeld are helping to make Americans safer from domestic crime by putting all the psychopaths in covert ops. There are no more good guys and bad guys: just their bad guys and our bad guys.

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