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Archive: February 2007
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Iran Factor
Cheney's Office Directs Clandestine Activity Against Iran
02/26/2007 4:48 PM ET
The Bush Administration has been running covert operations against Iran, guided by the office of the vice president, Dick Cheney, according to anonymous government officials cited in Seymour Hersh's latest New Yorker piece.

Hersh lists Cheney's primary support team in this initiative as including Elliot Abrams, deputy national security advisor, Zalmay Khalilzad, former Ambassador to Iraq, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi national security advisor.

The clandestine activity is part of a broader strategic "redirection" of Middle East policy intended to counter the ascendance of Iranian influence in the region.

Hersh cites "current and former American intelligence and military officials" as telling him that:

"Secret operations in Lebanon have been accompanied by clandestine operations targeting Iran. American military and special-operations teams have escalated their activities in Iran to gather intelligence and, according to a Pentagon consultant on terrorism and the former senior intelligence official, have also crossed the border in pursuit of Iranian operatives from Iraq."

Hersh also says the Executive Branch has been working around the normal Congressional appropriations process--assumedly to avoid oversight requirements--sometimes even relying on Saudi Arabia for the funding of covert operations.

Stay Tuned
Younger Hakim Released Hours Later With No Explanation
02/23/2007 3:33 PM ET
Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, November 2005
Muhannad Fala'ah/Getty
Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, November 2005

United States forces detained Ammar Hakim, the eldest son of SCIRI leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, on Friday, but released him several hours later.

The arrest was made after the Mr. Hakim's convoy was stopped at a checkpoint in eastern Iraq upon its return from Iran.

According to Reuter's, a senior aide to the elder Hakim said his son was arrested with three of his bodyguards, who were also assaulted. He added that their weapons were taken away, depite holding proper permits.

U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, speaking at a press conference in Baghdad on Friday, expressed uncertainty at the reasons why the Hakim had been detained, but added, "We are investigating. We do not mean any disrespect to Abdul-Aziz al- Hakim or his family. But he (Ammar) is being released."

Reaction in Iraq was critical and came quickly and could strain relations between the United States and SCIRI. Already SCIRI officials have condemned the incident as a "cowboy" act, with a senior official denoucning Hakim's treatment "unacceptable" and a "clear provocation" by the United States.

A influntial figure in his own right, Ammar Hakim is the secretary general of humantarian charity established by SCIRI.

US have recently arrested a number of Iranians in Iraq, including in the elder Mr. Hakin's compound, as well as claiming they are improving checkpoint between Syria and Iran to control flow of weapons and foreign fighters.


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