Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A bombshell that nobody heard

A vast, secret Middle Eastern operation is being run, possibly illegally and based on stolen Iraqi oil funds and Saudi money, out of the US vice president's office, all to undermine the Iranians, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Syrians. This is one of several startling claims, such as US "meddling" in Iran, made recently by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. And no one seems in the least bit bothered.

By Tom Engelhardt
Asia Times

"Let me see if I've got this straight. Perhaps two years ago, an "informal" meeting of "veterans" of the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal - holding positions in the Bush administration - was convened by Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams. Discussed were the "lessons learned" from that labyrinthine, secret and illegal arms-for-money-for-arms deal involving the Israelis, the Iranians, the Saudis, and the Contras of Nicaragua, among others - and meant to evade the Boland Amendment, a congressionally passed attempt to outlaw US administration assistance to the anti-communist Contras.

In terms of getting around Congress, the Iran-Contra vets concluded, the complex operation had been a success - and would have worked far better if the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the military had been kept out of the loop and the whole thing had been run out of the vice president's office.

Subsequently, some of those conspirators, once again with the financial support and help of the Saudis (and probably the Israelis and the British), began running a similar operation, aimed at avoiding congressional scrutiny or public accountability of any sort, out of Vice President Dick Cheney's office. They dipped into "black pools of money", possibly stolen from the billions of Iraqi oil dollars that have never been accounted for since the US occupation began.

Some of these funds, as well as Saudi ones, were evidently funneled through the embattled, Sunni-dominated Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to the sort of Sunni jihadist groups ("some sympathetic to al-Qaeda") whose members might normally fear ending up in Guantanamo and to a group, or groups, associated with the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.

All of this was being done as part of a "sea change" in the Bush administration's Middle East policies aimed at rallying friendly Sunni regimes against Shi'ite Iran, as well as Hezbollah, Hamas and the Syrian government - and launching secret operations to undermine, roll back or destroy all of the above. Despite the fact that the administration of President George W Bush is officially at war with Sunni extremism in Iraq (and in the more general "global war on terror"), despite its support for the largely Shi'ite government, allied to Iran, that it has brought to power in Iraq, and despite its dislike for the Sunni-Shiite civil war in that country, some of its top officials may be covertly encouraging a far greater Sunni-Shi'ite rift in the region........

All I can say is: if any of this happened, I haven't been able to discover it. As far as I can tell, no one in the mainstream even blinked on the Iran-Contra angle or the possibility that a vast, secret Middle Eastern operation is being run, possibly illegally and based on stolen funds and Saudi money, out of the US vice president's office......."

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