The media has begun to recognize that the United States is routinely engaged these days in covert wars involving extrajudicial assassinations in foreign countries. Well, they’re not quite putting it that way. But this story about the huge explosion at an Iranian missile base doesn’t require much reading between the lines.
The huge explosion that destroyed a major missile-testing site near Tehran three weeks ago was a major setback for Iran’s most advanced long-range missile program, according to American and Israeli intelligence officials and missile technology experts.
In interviews, current and former officials said surveillance photos showed that the Iranian base was a central testing center for advanced solid-fuel missiles, an assessment backed by outside experts who have examined satellite photos showing that the base was almost completely leveled in the blast. Such missiles can be launched almost instantly, making them useful to Iran as a potential deterrent against pre-emptive attacks by Israel or the United States, and they are also better suited than older liquid-fuel designs for carrying warheads long distances.
It is still unclear what caused the explosion, with American officials saying they believe it was probably an accident, perhaps because of Iran’s inexperience with a volatile, dangerous technology. Iran declared it an accident, but subsequent discussions of the episode in the Iranian news media have referred to the chief of Iran’s missile program as one of the “martyrs” killed in the huge explosion. Some Iranian officials have talked of sabotage, but it is unclear whether that is based on evidence or surmise after several years in which Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated on Tehran’s streets, and a highly sophisticated computer worm has attacked its main uranium production facility.
So let’s take a look at the evidence in the article. A computer worm disabled uranium production in Iran and set it back a number of months. Nuclear scientists have turned up dead in the streets of Tehran. Now a blast at a missile base that would be the first line of defense against any outside bombing. And yet this story on the explosion is being told entirely from the perspective of US and Israeli analysts, talking about what a setback this was, probably just an accident. Along with all those other accidents and coincidences.
The LA Times, obviously less constrained by a mentality of official secrecy, comes right out and says that these events smack of a covert war against Iran. “It looks like the 21st century form of war,” says one of their analysts quoted.
The turnabout here is that Iran claimed to take down a US drone over the weekend. Again, there have been a lot of denials. But if you line up the drone surveillance with the mysterious explosions and the cyberwarfare and the assassinations of nuclear scientists, it makes perfect sense. The interesting thing about this is that the Iranians claim to have brought the drone under their possession, taking control of it in the sky. But note this knowing paragraph in the NYT story:
In a statement on Sunday, the American-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said that the drone “to which the Iranians are referring may be a U.S. unarmed reconnaissance aircraft that had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week.” It added that operators of the remotely controlled drone aircraft lost control of it “and had been working to determine its status.” The statement did not say what kind of drone was lost, or what might have caused the loss.
The statement would seem to suggest that the craft wrongly flew across the border into Iran. If a drone was used for intelligence gathering in Iran, it presumably would not belong to the military — since there are no open hostilities with Iran — but rather to the C.I.A. or another intelligence agency, acting under a presidential finding about the Iranian nuclear program.
So there’s a Presidential finding that can enable all of the tactics seen over the past year or so, inside a foreign country.
Has anyone been consulted about these war activities? Does anyone in America know, or have they given their consent, about a mass covert war in a foreign country, which includes a back-and-forth of setbacks and offensive actions? To what degree are elected representatives in Congress aware of all this? Shouldn’t we have a minimal amount of debate about the wars in which we engage before hearing about them as a series of “coincidences” in the national news?