Hersh Expose Hits Cheney Cabal
Like Political Tsunami

by Jeffrey Steinberg

The Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz cabal that runs the Bush
Administration's military and national security agenda,
was hit with the political equivalent of a tsunami on Jan.
17, with the publication of a story by investigative
journalist Seymour Hersh in the Jan. 24-31 issue of {The
New Yorker}. Hersh revealed that the Administration is
working on plans to launch missile and commando attacks
against as many as three dozen of Iran's suspected nuclear
and chemical weapons facilities, perhaps as early as
Summer 2005. While the Administration's wanna-be
imperialists, led by the Vice President, fantasize that
such military strikes will trigger a "velvet revolution"
of Gap Jeans-wearing young Iranians, who will peacefully
overthrow the mullahs, in yet another Bush-induced
outbreak of spontaneous Western democracy, experts warn
that such an action would deepen the grip of the Islamic
Revolution, and trigger regional chaos.
In his keynote address to an international symposium
in Berlin, Germany on Jan. 12 (see {Feature}), Lyndon
LaRouche warned that chaos is what Cheney and his neo-con
minions are out to detonate in the Persian Gulf, as part
of their imperial raw-materials grab. LaRouche warned
that, in the insane world of Cheney and the neo-cons, the
chaos gripping Iraq does not represent a policy failure,
but rather, the successful opening shot of a campaign
aimed at triggering a Thirty Years' War of religious and
ethnic genocide throughout the oil-rich region. If Cheney
and company have their way, over the course of the second
Bush Administration, much of the world will be thrown into
the same Dark Age; what George Shultz and Henry Kissinger
call the "post-Westphalia System."

Hit Teams and 'Pseudo-Gangs'

Hersh's story also revealed, for the first time, that
President Bush, beginning in the Summer of 2002, signed a
series of secret Executive Orders, giving Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld {carte blanche} to dispatch
Special Forces assassination squads around the world as
part of the "global war on terror" (GWOT). These teams,
Hersh reported, are already operational in at least ten
countries, and their activities are conducted behind the
backs of Congressional oversight committees, the American
ambassadors, CIA station chiefs, and defense attaches.
The transfer of paramilitary covert operations from
the CIA to the Pentagon's Special Operations Command
(SOCOM), and the recently established Office of
Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, according to
Hersh, eliminate the requirement that the President issue
a formal Intelligence Finding, and inform the appropriate
Congressional bodies, before launching covert operations.
In Cheney-Rumsfeld doublespeak, these covert operations
are now referred to as "black reconnaissance," to further
conceal the fact that these death squads are run by the
Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal, with no oversight, and to reinforce
the idea that they are being deployed as part of normal
U.S. military deployments in support of combat operations.
American diplomats are up in arms over this
scandalous violation of international law, which among
other things jeopardizes the safety of American embassy
officials, who will be the first targets for retaliation,
now that the existence of these death squads has been
With the departures from Foggy Bottom of Secretary of
State Colin Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard
Armitage, both retired military officers, there is no
reason to expect that Secretary of State nominee
Condoleezza Rice will lift a finger to defend the
integrity and safety of the U.S. diplomatic corps. It was
Rice's hysterical defense of every foreign and national
security policy blunder of the first four years of the
Administration, that led Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and
Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to vote against her confirmation,
in hearings of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on
Jan. 19. Senator Boxer all but called Dr. Rice a liar, for
placing the defense of the Bush Administration's
indefensible pre-Iraq-war intelligence fabrications above
the truth. Senator Kerry, for his part, directly cited the
Hersh article and the planned military attacks on Iran in
his questioning of Rice. He had just returned from a tour
of Southwest Asia, which brought him to Iraq and Syria.
In his detailed {New Yorker} account of the
Bush-Cheney forced march to new war and mayhem in Iran,
Hersh mooted that the Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz Pentagon would
also be pursuing a favorite strategy of the British
Empire: the creation of controlled terrorist cells, dubbed
by the famous British counterinsurgent Gen. Frank Kitson
as "pseudo-gangs."
Hersh reported that one of the architects of the new
Pentagon strategy, John Arquilla, a professor of defense
studies at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey,
Calif., had written a widely studied piece in the {San
Francisco Chronicle}, which drew upon the British imperial
counterinsurgency lessons from the 1950s Kenya campaign of
General Kitson: "When conventional military operations and
bombing failed to defeat the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya
in the 1950s," Arquilla wrote, "the British formed teams
of friendly Kikuyu tribesmen who went about pretending to
be terrorists. These 'pseudo-gangs,' as they were called,
swiftly threw the Mau Mau on the defensive, either by
befriending and then ambushing bands of fighters or by
guiding bombers to the terrorists' camps. What worked in
Kenya a half-century ago has a wonderful chance of
undermining trust and recruitment among today's terror
networks. Forming new pseudo-gangs should not be
Of course, Arquilla failed to acknowledge that such
"pseudo-gang" operations have been a cornerstone of
Israel's "Terror Against Terror" program, which has
failed, over the past 35 years, to quell the Palestinian
uprising, instead recruiting whole new generations of

The Covert War Has Already Begun

The Hersh story made it clear that the covert war
against the so-called "axis of evil" state of Iran has
already begun. Indeed, in her Senate confirmation
testimony, Condoleezza Rice flashed the latest Bush-Cheney
propaganda slogan, dubbing Iran, North Korea, Cuba,
Belarus, Zimbabwe, and Myanmar the "bridgehead of
tyranny." According to the {New Yorker} account,
reconnaissance teams of U.S. Special Operations personnel
have been working inside Iran since the Summer, and are
targetting Iran's suspected nuclear weapons sites,
chemical weapons sites, and missile sites, preparing for
U.S. rocket attacks, bombing raids, and commando assaults.
The U.S. effort, according to Hersh, is being backed
by both Pakistan and Israel. Undersecretary of Defense for
Policy Doug Feith, one of the leading Pentagon neo-cons,
who co-authored the 1996 "A Clean Break" geopolitical
strategy paper for then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu--the paper which first targetted Iraq, Syria,
and Iran for regime change, is coordinating the anti-Iran
insurgency campaign with Israeli intelligence and military
planners, according to Hersh. Furthermore, Israeli
commandos have been involved already in some of the
on-the-ground operations, according to the {New Yorker}
story. It is, in fact, the Ariel Sharon government's
policy of "preventive assassinations" that Cheney and
Rumsfeld have adopted, in grabbing control over the covert
paramilitary operations formerly housed in the CIA, and
dispatching their own death squads to countries such as
Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Syria, and Malaysia--five of the
countries named in the Hersh story.
Feith has reportedly assembled a team of Iran-Contra
veterans to join in other aspects of the anti-Iran covert
program. According to {EIR}'s sources, one of the Irangate
criminals tapped by Feith is self-professed "universal
fascist" Michael Ledeen. Ledeen is already under
investigation for his role in peddling forged documents
from the African state of Niger, which purported to show
that Saddam Hussein was illegally pursuing acquisition of
enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb. Cheney and Rice
exploited the fear of Saddam possessing a nuclear bomb to
ram through the Iraq invasion, with scare propaganda about
"nuclear mushroom clouds." Ledeen has been a longtime
proponent of all-out war to oust the mullahs in Tehran,
and has called for the United States to tap the Mujahideen
el-Khalq, a group on the U.S. State Department's list of
International Terrorist Organizations, as part of the
effort. In a speech at the Willard Hotel in Washington on
the eve of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, Ledeen gloated
that, after Iraq, the Bush Administration would next be
compelled to fight the "GWOT" battle on Iranian soil.

Promoting Terrorism

The involvement of Pakistan's Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI) in the United States' anti-Iran covert
effort, according to Hersh, comes at a very high price.
The Bush Administration has reportedly agreed to drop any
efforts to shut down the nuclear material black-market
operations of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan, in return for
Dr. Khan's providing information on Iran's alleged illicit
nuclear weapons program. As Hersh wrote, "It's the
neo-conservatives' version of short-term gain at long-term
cost. They want to prove that Bush is the anti-terrorism
guy who can handle Iran and the nuclear threat, against
the long-term goal of eliminating the black market for
nuclear proliferation."
{EIR}'s own sources in the intelligence community in
India, who usually have a precise reading on the situation
in Afghanistan, confirmed the essentials of Hersh's
account of the U.S. deal with Pakistan, but added some
further disturbing details. They charge that the Bush
Administration used proof that officials of Pakistan's ISI
had advance knowledge about the kidnapping and murder of
American journalist Daniel Pearl, and wanted to extract
Pakistani help in infiltrating Iran, through the
Balochistan region of Afghanistan. In return for silence
on the ISI links to Pearl's murderers, Pakistan agreed to
provide assistance in the infiltration of Iran.
The recent ouster of Ismael Khan, Governor of
Afghanistan's Herat Province, bordering Iran, was
intended, the Indian intelligence sources say, to clear
the way for American covert operations teams to infiltrate
eastern Iran from bases in Afghanistan, including a
clandestine air base just a few miles from the Iranian
border. Another price that the United States has been
willing to pay for the Afghan secret basing: Washington
has given Pakistan the green light to reintegrate the
Taliban into the Afghan government. According to Indian
sources, 81 Taliban prisoners have been released in recent
weeks, and 400 more are soon to be freed. All of the
Talibani held in the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, are also reportedly being released because they
"failed to provide any useful intelligence" on al-Qaeda's
In other words, if the Hersh and Indian reports are
accurate, the Bush Administration has struck a deal with
one of the world's leading nuclear weapons
black-marketeers, and with the very Taliban regime in
Afghanistan which the United States ousted from power as
the opening shot in the GWOT.

Behind the Hersh Revelations

The Bush-Cheney White House responded to the
publication of the Hersh story with an instant series of
official denials. U.S. intelligence community sources say
that two aspects of the Hersh story have top White House
officials--led by Dick Cheney--especially spooked. First,
the story is seen as a particularly damning leak,
originating from the legions of recently purged
intelligence community veterans, particularly CIA
veterans, who would like nothing better than to bring down
the Bush-Cheney Presidency in a replay of Watergate--or
worse. Second, the Hersh story was constructed in such a
way that the Administration has been unable to pin down
any of Hersh's key sources.
Yet, at the same time that Team Bush was engaging in
frantic damage control over the Hersh revelations, Vice
President Cheney was telling TV host Don Imus that the
United States and Israel are, indeed, on the verge of
launching unprovoked attacks on Iran. Appearing on the
"Imus in the Morning" show just hours before he and
President Bush were sworn in Jan. 20, Cheney delivered an
open threat to Iran: Dismantle your nuclear program or we
will give Ariel Sharon the nod to bomb Iran. Using his
best Orwellian prose, Cheney told Imus: "Given the fact
that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the
destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to
act first, and let the rest of the world worry about
cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.... We don't
want a war in the Middle East, if we can avoid it."
Even the {Washington Post}, the next day, got it
right about Cheney's invitation to Sharon to bomb Iran.
Political columnist Al Kamen, reporting on Cheney's
threats that Israel "might act first" to take out the
alleged Iranian nuclear and chemical weapons sites, wrote:
"In June 1991, during a visit to Israel after the Persian
Gulf War, then-Defense Secretary Cheney gave Maj. Gen.
David Ivri, then the commander of the Israeli Air Force, a
satellite photograph of the Iraqi nuclear reactor, Osirak,
which the Israelis had taken out in an airstrike 10 years
"'For General David Ivri,' Cheney wrote on the photo,
'with thanks and appreciation for the outstanding job he
did on the Iraqi Nuclear Program in 1981, which made our
job much easier in Desert Storm'.... So was Cheney
concerned? Or was this diplo-speak to the Israelis to 'do
the right thing'?"

Cheney's Fascist Fit

Cheney's war talk aside, the Hersh revelations, and
the Democratic Party's recently found spunk in challenging
the Administration's non-existent "mandate," have made for
some frayed nerves at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue--despite
Bush and Cheney's efforts at appearing triumphalist. Thus,
for example, when Senate Judiciary Committee chairman
Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) dared to publicly chastize Attorney
General nominee Alberto Gonzales, for outright refusing to
respond to a number of questions submitted by his
Committee members, as part of the confirmation hearing
process, the White House practically bit Specter's head
off, demanding that he toe the White House line or face
losing his chairmanship. And when the powerful GOP
chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Bill
Thomas (R-Calif.), described the Bush-Cheney scheme to
loot the Social Security Trust Fund by turning it over to
Wall Street "private accounts," as "a dead horse," he,
too, was inundated with harassing calls from top White
House officials. The {New York Times} reported on Jan. 19
that Cheney is actually the driving force at the White
House, pushing the Social Security ripoff, a scheme long
embraced by Cheney's guru, ex-Secretary of State George
The psychological strains have been building since
the beginning of the year. According to a well-placed
Republican source with close ties to the Bush
Administration, Cheney nearly had a meltdown on Jan. 6.
Attending a White House strategy session just hours before
the historic Joint Session of Congress to ratify the
Electoral College vote, the Vice President was informed
that Senator Boxer had joined Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones
(D-Ohio) in formally challenging the Electors in Ohio, a
state that decided the outcome of the Nov. 2, 2004
election by just over 100,000 votes, amidst massive
reports of voter suppression and GOP fraud, heavily
implicating Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who
also happened to chair the state Bush-Cheney re-election
According to the source, Cheney told White House
attorneys that, when Boxer and Tubbs Jones formally
challenged the Ohio vote, triggering mandatory two-hour
debates and votes in the two Houses of Congress, he would
rule them out of order and quash the debate. Shocked White
House attorneys reminded Cheney that he could not
unilaterally override the U.S. Constitution and the
procedures set forth in an 1877 Act of Congress governing
the formal process for an Electoral College challenge.
After a heated back-and-forth, the Vice President
reportedly relented, and, hours later, did preside over
the historic Joint Session, in his capacity as President
of the U.S. Senate. As one eyewitness in the House
Gallery reported, Cheney's anger at the proceeding was
palpable. During the Senate vote on the Ohio vote
irregularities, following two hours of historic debate,
Cheney stood near the door of the Senate chambers, alone,
quietly fuming. The {New York Times} the next day
editorially called the debate a serious challenge to the
Bush-Cheney claims of an electoral mandate.

A Raging Bull

It was a classic Cheney performance. The Vice
President, who was the architect of the Bush
Administration's disastrous Iraq war, its post-9/11
doctrine of "preventive nuclear war," its mammoth tax cuts
for the super-rich, the Halliburton no-bid government
contracts worth billions of dollars for the Veep's old
firm, and the leak of the identify of covert CIA operative
Valerie Plame, has no use for the U.S. Constitution,
particularly its General Welfare clause, when it stands in
the way of his radical agenda. In a recent interview for
The History Channel, Cheney spoke of his vision of an
imperial Presidency, totally out of sync with American
historical precedents. For Cheney, the Presidency
encompasses absolute monarchy and papal infallability. He
candidly boasted that, as Secretary of Defense in 1990, he
had urged President George H.W. Bush not to go to the
Congress to seek authority, under the War Powers Act, to
invade Iraq.
The question on the minds of many Americans today,
particularly many leading traditional Republicans, is:
When will Cheney's antics cause the Administration and the
Republican Party to crash-land?
The Jan. 12 issue of the widely read newsletter {The
Big Picture}, published by long-time Republican Party
campaign strategist Richard Whalen, took up the Cheney
issue in the following terms:
"Vice President Dick Cheney is behaving more like the
{de facto} Chief Executive each day. He is focussed and
intense, taking charge inside the White House more firmly
and thoroughly than ever before." The new National
Security Advisor, Steve Hadley, whom Whalen describes as
Condi Rice's "docile successor," now allows Cheney's chief
of staff, Lewis Libby, "to run the 7 a.m. White House
senior staff meeting." Cheney, Whalen wrote, has moved
against two old guard allies of Bush, Sr.--Brent Scowcroft
and James Baker III--by dumping Scowcroft as head of the
President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and
blackballing several Baker nominees to be Rice's State
Department deputy. According to Whalen, early in January,
Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz held a private sit-down with
President Bush, "with Condi Rice conspicuously absent.
They urgently laid out what a top-level source calls 'a
breathtakingly comprehensive plan' to centralize in the
Pentagon control over all Iraq-related intelligence,
cutting out CIA, DIA and the military service agencies."
But Whalen also observed that Cheney is moving at
such breakneck speed in order to consolidate his position
before the scheduled Jan. 30 Iraqi elections, which are
expected to be a fiasco. Cheney knows that a disaster in
late January could "trigger a Congressional GOP revolt
against Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his Iraqi policy."
Whalen named Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Richard Lugar
(Ind.), and John Warner (Va.) as three prospective
Republican leaders of a move to oust Rumsfeld, and perhaps
Cheney. "A debacle and soaring U.S. casualties in a
bloodbath" in Iraq "could spell both Rumsfeld's and
perhaps Cheney's downfall."

And not a moment too soon.