WASHINGTON (AFP) – The administration of President George W. Bush is planning a massive bombing campaign against Iran, including use of bunker-buster nuclear bombs to destroy a key Iranian suspected nuclear weapons facility, The New Yorker magazine has reported in its April 17 issue.
The article by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said that Bush and others in the White House have come to view Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a potential Adolf Hitler.
“That’s the name they’re using,” the report quoted a former senior intelligence official as saying.
A senior unnamed Pentagon adviser is quoted in the article as saying that “this White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war.”
The former intelligence officials depicts planning as “enormous,” “hectic” and “operational,” Hersh writes.
One former defense official said the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government,” The New Yorker pointed out.
In recent weeks, the president has quietly initiated a series of talks on plans for Iran with a few key senators and members of the House of Representatives, including at least one Democrat, the report said.
One of the options under consideration involves the possible use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, to insure the destruction of Iran’s main centrifuge plant at Natanz, Hersh writes.
But the former senior intelligence official said the attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the military, and some officers have talked about resigning after an attempt to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans in Iran failed, according to the report.
“There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries,” the magazine quotes the Pentagon adviser as saying.
The adviser warned that bombing Iran could provoke “a chain reaction” of attacks on American facilities and citizens throughout the world and might also reignite Hezbollah.
“If we go, the southern half of Iraq will light up like a candle,” the adviser is quoted as telling The New Yorker.
president bush views president mahmoud ahmadinejad as a potential adolph hitler, i view president bush as a potential adolph hitler. i wonder which one of us will have our views proved right in the long term…
BLITZER: And you’re saying that some senior military officers are prepared to resign?
HERSH: I’m saying that, if this isn’t walked back and if the president isn’t told that you cannot do it — and once the chairman of the joint chiefs or some senior members of the military say to the president, let’s get this nuclear option off the table, it will be taken off. He will not defy the military in a formal report. Unless something specific is told to the White House that you’ve got to drop this dream of a nuclear option — and that’s exactly the issue I’m talking about — people have said to me that they would resign.
Hersh: …And then, of course, nobody in their right mind would want to use a nuclear weapon in the Middle East, because it would be, my God, totally chaotic. When the JCS, the joint chiefs, and the planners wanted to walk back that option, what happened is about three or four weeks ago, the White House, people in the White House, in the Oval Office, the vice president’s office, said, no, let’s keep it in the plan. They refuse to take it out. And what I’m writing here is that if this isn’t removed — and I say this very seriously. I’ve been around this town for 40 years — some senior officers are prepared to resign. They’re that upset about the fact that this plan is kept in. Again, let me make the point, you’re giving a range of options early in the planning. To be sure of getting rid of it, you give that option.
JACK STRAW, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: The idea of a nuclear strike on Iran is completely nuts.
BLITZER: He didn’t mince any words: “completely nuts” in his words. You want to react to that?
HERSH: Well, what he didn’t say — he didn’t deny that there’s serious planning about the military strike is the point. I mean, he’s absolutely right about a nuclear option, but there is serious planning for a conventional war.
Monday, April 10, 2006
By LARRY MARGASAK
WASHINGTON — Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show.
The records show that Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 – as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.
The national Republican Party, which paid millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, says the contacts involved routine election business and that it was “preposterous” to suggest the calls involved phone jamming.
The Justice Department has secured three convictions in the case but hasn’t accused any White House or national Republican officials of wrongdoing, nor made any allegations suggesting party officials outside New Hampshire were involved. The phone records of calls to the White House were exhibits in Tobin’s trial but prosecutors did not make them part of their case.
Democrats plan to ask a federal judge Tuesday to order GOP and White House officials to answer questions about the phone jamming in a civil lawsuit alleging voter fraud.
Repeated hang-up calls that jammed telephone lines at a Democratic get-out-the-vote center occurred in a Senate race in which Republican John Sununu defeated Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, 51 percent to 46 percent, on Nov. 5, 2002.
Besides the conviction of Tobin, the Republicans’ New England regional director, prosecutors negotiated two plea bargains: one with a New Hampshire Republican Party official and another with the owner of a telemarketing firm involved in the scheme. The owner of the subcontractor firm whose employees made the hang-up calls is under indictment.
The phone records show that most calls to the White House were from Tobin, who became President Bush’s presidential campaign chairman for the New England region in 2004. Other calls from New Hampshire senatorial campaign offices to the White House could have been made by a number of people.
A GOP campaign consultant in 2002, Jayne Millerick, made a 17-minute call to the White House on Election Day, but said in an interview she did not recall the subject. Millerick, who later became the New Hampshire GOP chairwoman, said in an interview she did not learn of the jamming until after the election.
A Democratic analysis of phone records introduced at Tobin’s criminal trial show he made 115 outgoing calls – mostly to the same number in the White House political affairs office – between Sept. 17 and Nov. 22, 2002. Two dozen of the calls were made from 9:28 a.m. the day before the election through 2:17 a.m. the night after the voting.
There also were other calls between Republican officials during the period that the scheme was hatched and canceled.
Prosecutors did not need the White House calls to convict Tobin and negotiate the two guilty pleas.
Whatever the reason for not using the White House records, prosecutors “tried a very narrow case,” said Paul Twomey, who represented the Democratic Party in the criminal and civil cases. The Justice Department did not say why the White House records were not used.
The Democrats said in their civil case motion that they were entitled to know the purpose of the calls to government offices “at the time of the planning and implementation of the phone-jamming conspiracy … and the timing of the phone calls made by Mr. Tobin on Election Day.”
While national Republican officials have said they deplore such operations, the Republican National Committee said it paid for Tobin’s defense because he is a longtime supporter and told officials he had committed no crime.
By Nov. 4, 2002, the Monday before the election, an Idaho firm was hired to make the hang-up calls. The Republican state chairman at the time, John Dowd, said in an interview he learned of the scheme that day and tried to stop it.
Dowd, who blamed an aide for devising the scheme without his knowledge, contended that the jamming began on Election Day despite his efforts. A police report confirmed the Manchester Professional Fire Fighters Association reported the hang-up calls began about 7:15 a.m. and continued for about two hours. The association was offering rides to the polls.
Virtually all the calls to the White House went to the same number, which currently rings inside the political affairs office. In 2002, White House political affairs was led by now-RNC chairman Ken Mehlman. The White House declined to say which staffer was assigned that phone number in 2002.
“As policy, we don’t discuss ongoing legal proceedings within the courts,” White House spokesman Ken Lisaius said.
Robert Kelner, a Washington lawyer representing the Republican National Committee in the civil litigation, said there was no connection between the phone jamming operation and the calls to the White House and party officials.
“On Election Day, as anybody involved in politics knows, there’s a tremendous volume of calls between political operatives in the field and political operatives in Washington,” Kelner said.
“If all you’re pointing out is calls between Republican National Committee regional political officials and the White House political office on Election Day, you’re pointing out nothing that hasn’t been true on every Election Day,” he said.