Friday, 26 January 2007
Troops Authorized to Kill Iranian Operatives in Iraq (WP)
The Bush administration has authorized the U.S. military to kill or capture Iranian operatives inside Iraq as part of an aggressive new strategy to weaken Tehran's influence across the Middle East and compel it to give up its nuclear program, according to government and counterterrorism officials with direct knowledge of the effort...
Three officials said that about 150 Iranian intelligence officers, plus members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Command, are believed to be active inside Iraq at any given time. There is no evidence the Iranians have directly attacked U.S. troops in Iraq, intelligence officials said...The new "kill or capture" program was authorized by President Bush in a meeting of his most senior advisers last fall.
The real story here is the story behind the story. After all, George W. Bush has already authorized his agents to kill American citizens -- without arrest, charge, trial, or even any warning -- if the victim has been designated -- arbitrarily, at the whim of the "Leader," outside any judicial process or oversight -- as an "enemy combatant." This "authority," claimed by Bush in October 2001 (I first wrote about it in print in November 2001) extends to every person on earth, not just Americans, so Iranian "agents" or "Revolutionary Guards" or anyone else Bush or his minions decide to kill has always been fair game. The only new wrinkle here is the specific authority given to the U.S. military to carry out these "extrajudicial" assassinations -- a license to kill that had hitherto been reserved for the security organs.
For assassination -- Phoenix-program style -- is definitely what we're talking about here. Let's be very clear about this, and not get tangled up in all the euphemistic jargon that Beltway reporters are so enamored of. Who decides that an Iranian in Iraq is an "operative" with ill intent, a member of a Revolutionary Guard or an accomplice to the insurgency (which, by the way, is led almost entirely by Sunni Arabs, the sworn enemies of the Shiite Persians)? And will these "operatives" be arrested, charged and tried, provided with defense counsel? No; the story makes clear -- and is intended by the White House to make clear -- that Iranian "operatives" are to be killed outright; indeed, "Bush administration officials have been urging top military commanders to exercise the authority." Thus any one of the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of Iranians who stream across the border into Iraq each year, almost all of them involved in either religious rites or trade, can be arbitrarily denounced by someone for any reason -- good or bad, personal, political, ideological, financial -- and then be shot dead by U.S. forces. This is what Bush's direct "authorization" means, this is what it is: an order to commit murder outside all bounds of legality, morality and military honor.
It is certain that any Iranian "agent" connected to the Tehran government is in Iraq with the full knowledge of the "sovereign" Iraqi government and/or the "legitimate" political factions in that government -- the same government which Bush himself has empowered and supports, the government for which more than 3,000 Americans and 600,000 Iraqi civilians have given their lives to create. The factions controlling the Bush-backed Iraqi government openly declare their friendship with Iran -- naturally so, as many of these groups were formed, sustained, trained and armed by the Iranian government during their years in exile.
Iraq's top leaders travel to Tehran, seeking aid, trade and closer ties between the governments. It is the clear, demonstrable, undeniable wish of the "sovereign" Iraqi government to welcome the assistance of the Iranian government. How then is it "illegitimate" for Iranian agents to be operating in Iraq? This same "sovereign" Iraqi government also welcomes the assistance of the American government (albeit with far less warmth and, one might say, at gunpoint, since the Baghdad government was installed via the unprovoked invasion and destruction of the country). Why then is the presence of, say, American Special Forces and intelligence agents (not to mention the 140,000 regular troops) in Iraq any more legitimate than the presence of Iranian Revolutionary Guard operatives and intelligence agents in Iraq?
And the fact is that there is almost no evidence that Iran is involved in supplying the Iraqi insurgent with weapons to kill Americans. They may very well be continuing their decades-long work of training, arming and funding the Iraqi Shiite militias -- but these militias are part and parcel of the "legitimate" factions running the "sovereign" Iraqi government installed, armed, and supported by George W. Bush. It's true that Bush is now trying to foment yet another front in Iraq's hydra-headed civil war by forcing Shiite-on-Shiite bloodshed between the Maliki government and its main political supporter, the faction led by Shiite cleric Motqada al-Sadr. But Iran has nothing to do with this bloodthirsty and frankly lunatic plan. (Ironically, Sadr's faction is almost the only Shiite group in the government that grew up on native soil, and was not created in or by Tehran.)
So again, let's be clear. If Iran is not arming their bloodsworn enemies, the Sunni insurgents, and if any Shiite group they are assisting is an integral part of the "sovereign" Iraqi government backed by the Bush Administration, then what on earth can be the purpose of a direct presidential order to the troops to kill Iranians in Iraq? The answer is simple: the purpose of the order is to provoke Iran into some action that can be trumpeted as a casus belli for the Bush Faction's long-planned war against Iran.
What Bush has done with this order is to turn the American military into his own private death squad. It is an act of breathtaking dishonor, of unspeakable moral filth. That this pathetic little man and the jumped-up thugs around him – especially the hulking, smirking, lying coward Dick Cheney – are allowed to show their faces among civilized people, much less exercise power over a mighty nation, remains an unfathomable mystery...and a source of deep shame for all Americans. ***