Today, April 13, 2006, Larisa Alexandrovna publishes a story in Rawstory, entitled: US outsourcing special operations, intelligence to Iraq terror group, current and former intelligence officials say. And in an eerie reminder of our modus operandi in Iraq, it appears that the Pentagon is once again flaunting State Department and National Security Council objections and is pushing on secretly on its own.
If anyone still doubts the value and urgency of calling for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's resignation immediately, please read this article. We must get a sane, rational leader of the Department of Defense before Rumsfeld is allowed to add another whole dimension of chaos to this region.
Converting Terrorists To Freedom Fighters? Or The Reverse?
Murky operations like this beg the question. Are we turning terrorists into freedom fighters? Or Freedom fighters into terrorists. Or just recycling terrorists?
The Pentagon is bypassing official US intelligence channels and turning to a dangerous and unruly cast of characters in order to create strife in Iran in preparation for any possible attack, former and current intelligence officials say.
One of the operational assets being used by the Defense Department is a right-wing terrorist organization known as Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), which is being "run" in two southern regional areas of Iran, both bordering Pakistan. They are Balucistan, a Sunni stronghold, and Khuzestan, a Shia region where a series of recent attacks has left many dead and hundreds injured in the last three months.
One former counterintelligence official, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the information, describes the Pentagon as pushing MEK shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The drive to use the insurgent group was said to have been advanced by the Pentagon under the influence of the Vice President's office and opposed by the State Department, National Security Council and then-National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice.
Paul Wolfowitz Thinks Ahead: Saving Up Terrorists For A Rainy Day
What would you do if you stumbled upon a perfectly good band of highly trained and experienced terrorists while crushing Iraq? Send them to GITMO for interrogation? No way. GITMO is for consfused street people, unlucky drivers, and bush boys.
If you have an honest to goodness full well organized and armed group of real terrorists, Paul Wolfowitz is that kind of visionary neocon you want looking out for your future.
"The MEK is run by a brother and sister who were given bases in northern Baghdad by Saddam," the intelligence official told RAW STORY. "The US army secured a key MEK facility 60 miles northwest of Baghdad shortly after the 2003 invasion, but they did not secure the MEK and let them basically be because [then Deputy Defense Secretary Paul] Wolfowitz was thinking ahead to Iran."
Another former intelligence official added that the US military had detained as many as 3,500 members of MEK at Iraq's Camp Ashraf since the start of the war, including the highest level ranking MEK leaders. Ashraf is about 60 miles west of the Iranian border.
This intelligence official, wishing to remain anonymous, confirmed the policy tensions and also described them as most departments on one side and the Pentagon on the other.
Can Our Military Be A Learning Organization? British Show "Institutional" Learning I Possible
If we look at all the mistakes in Iraq that present themselves as learning opportunities, one rises to the top of the list--, the value and need for greater collaboration, listening, and advance planning for all of our intelligence, national security, state department, and Pentagon experts.
While I understand the great eagerness and gung ho - can do spirit of secret black ops forces whom see great opportunities to get a head start in destabilizing Iran and training up indigenous insurgent forces, this impulse must be balanced, guided, and restrained by those with a more cautious and wiser understanding of the bigger picture of US National Security Interests.
But the restraining forces of strategy, wisdom, and consideration of consequences easily get diminished in this grass roots black ops inspiration. But at least Condoleezza Rice is training to restrain the incorrigible Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Why does this start to feel like one of those ridiculous frat house movies like Porky. Boys will be boys.
"We disarmed [the MEK] of major weapons but not small arms. [Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld was pushing to use them as a military special ops team, but policy infighting between their camp and Condi, but she was able to fight them off for a while," said the intelligence official.
According to still another intelligence source, the policy infighting ended last year when Donald Rumsfeld, under pressure from Vice President Cheney, came up with a plan to "convert" the MEK by having them simply quit their organization.
"These guys are nuts," this intelligence source said. "Cambone and those guys made MEK members swear an oath to Democracy and resign from the MEK and then our guys incorporated them into their unit and trained them."
Stephen Cambone is the Undersecretary of Defense Intelligence. His office did not return calls for comment.
Recent bomb attacks in Iran have been linked to former Baathist group
Eight killed in Iran bomb attacks
Bomb blasts hit Iran oil cities
Bomb blasts rock Iran
According to all three intelligence sources, military and intelligence officials alike were alarmed that instead of securing a known terrorist organization, which has been responsible for acts of terror against Iranian targets and individuals all over the world - including US civilian and military casualties - Rumsfeld under instructions from Cheney, began using the group on special ops missions into Iran to pave the way for a potential Iran strike.
"They are doing whatever they want, no oversight at all," one intelligence source said.
The wildest dreams of every teenage boy. Imagine the fun of having you own private army of secret black ops right wing terrorists, with sworn loyalties to do you bidding. And completely free of all those frustrating and inconvenient constraints one has with official US secret black ops agents who flinch when ordered to commit war crimes or violate Geneva Conventions.
MEK Was Part of Saddam Hussein's Secret Police, "We Are Already At War,"
As if Bush hasn't already learned the danger of sliding into wars without declaration our national consensus. One issue with the start fo the Iraq War that obviously did not get enough press or discussion was the slippery way we got into it.
So much has been made of the Bush Administration Lies, Intelligence Manipulations, and Powells Falsification the ritual sham of a UN presentation, that perhaps, we haven't put enough attention to the fact that the US had been bombing the Northern and Southern No Fly zones, and conducting extensive "black ops" missions for years in advance.
And for at least a year, the Department of Defense had been accelerating the agreesiveness of these actions pushing the border. Bombing missions "strayed across" the no fly zones against other targets. And special ops forces made more ambitious strikes against targets inside of "Central Iraq."
We really had a rolling start of a war that was well in progress, before Bush even when through the motions of Congressional approval. This is probably why Bush and his administration were so brazen and uncareful in this shame. They never did respect that Congress is supposed to be the body to actually declare and authorize war.
Here we seem the same pattern. Has Bush and his Administration learned nothing from the Iraq disaster. This limit of power is not an inconvenience to get around, it is a built in checks and balance to improve the quality of thinking. Founders organized our government with the understanding that "power corrupts, absolutely power corrupts absolutely."
Indeed, Saddam Hussein himself had used the MEK for acts of terror against non-Sunni Muslims and had assigned domestic security detail to the MEK as a way of policing dissent among his own people. It was under the guidance of MEK `policing' that Iraqi citizens who were not Sunni were routinely tortured, attacked and arrested.
Although the specifics of what the MEK is being used for remain unclear, a UN official close to the Security Council explained that the newly renamed MEK soldiers are being run instead of military advance teams, committing acts of violence in hopes of staging an insurgency of the Iranian Sunni population.
"We are already at war," the UN official told RAW STORY.
Asked how long the MEK agents have been active in the region under the guidance of the US military civilian leadership, the UN official explained that the clandestine war had been going on for roughly a year and included unmanned drones run jointly by several agencies.
Repetition Compulsion: Deju Vu All Over Again," "Brits Dragging Their Feet"
In a stunning repeat of pre-war Iraq activities, the Bush administration continues to publicly call for action and pursue diplomatic solutions to allegations that Iran is bomb-ready. Behind the scenes, however, the administration is already well underway and engaged in ground operations in Iran.
The British, however, are less enthused about a strike in Iran. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has called an American strike on Iran "inconceivable," while Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he's keeping all his options open. Asked about the MEK, a senior British intelligence official said that the Brits are not yet sure of what the situation on Iran's southern border is, but vehemently condemned any joint activity with the terrorist organization.
"We don't know who precisely is carrying out those attacks in the south but we believe it is MEK," the British official said.
When asked if the US military is running the MEK, the source was careful to indicate that while there is a US unit in Iran gathering information, it's difficult to say if they are in any way involved with MEK.
British Have Strict Rule Against Consorting With Terrorists. Learned Lessons In Northern Ireland
"The people who are inside Iran are from a US Special mission unit," the source explained. "They are called by codenames, but would not be involved in the bomb blasts. They want to get in, get the intelligence and go out with anyone knowing they have been there. But the bomb blasts might be diversions away from the operations by this US special mission unit. The British are definitely not involved in any of this."
Moreover, the British official expressed that any operations with MEK would violate their own military code and would absolutely not be tolerated.
"We have very strict rules and can't go consorting with terrorists," the official added. "We did it in Northern Ireland. No more."
Well at least the British seem to be learning from past mistakes. CNN did an excellent special on lessons learned from governments experience with national terrorists groups The key insight confirmed theoretical work I've done myself. The key insight was best articulated by Mahatma Gandhi in response to the often quoted advice often attributed to Machiavellian. "The ends justifies the means." Gandhi rejected this. As does the British and my own analysis of "opposition groups whether we call them "freedom fighters" or "terrorists." Empirical analysis and Gandhi suggest the "means is the ends in the process of becoming."
We usually do not achieve greater goodness, by sacrificing our values, wisdom, and integrity in the short term to achieve it.
I call for all good people of wisdom in the national security, intelligence, and political communities to call for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney to resign and be replaced with better leaders of at least some minimum level of competence and integrity they so clearly lack.