Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Hersh Article

One of this week's big stories is the New Yorker article by Seymour Hersh alleging that:

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. The goal is to identify and isolate three dozen, and perhaps more, 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.

Some of the missions involve extraordinary coöperation. For example, the former high-level intelligence official told me that an American commando task force has been set up in South Asia and is now working closely with a group of Pakistani scientists and technicians who had dealt with Iranian counterparts. (In 2003, the I.A.E.A. disclosed that Iran had been secretly receiving nuclear technology from Pakistan for more than a decade, and had withheld that information from inspectors.) The American task force, aided by the information from Pakistan, has been penetrating eastern Iran from Afghanistan in a hunt for underground installations. The task-force members, or their locally recruited agents, secreted remote detection devices—known as sniffers—capable of sampling the atmosphere for radioactive emissions and other evidence of nuclear-enrichment programs.

I've read the article, but simply don't have the time to comment at length. It's hard to say how credible this particular piece is. Keep in mind that Hersh is the national security version of a gossip columnist, relying heavily on anonymous sources with an axe to grind. Hersh's track record for accuracy is rather spotty, as John J. Miller pointed out for National Review Online. Jason Van Steenwyk of Counter Column offers another example of Hersh's questionable reporting. Hersh himself has a strong anti-Bush Administration bias, and his articles since 9/11 have been full of warnings about the evil "neocon cabal". That doesn't invalidate everything he says, but strongly suggests you take his work with several spoonfuls of salt. In fact, the Pentagon has already released a statement debunking much of this latest article.

Are we running covert operations against Iran's nuclear program? I sure as hell hope so, though if we are, I don't want to be reading about it.


Post a Comment

<< Home