In February, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh wrote a piece in The New Yorker revealing that the Bush administration was setting its sights heavily on Iran, planning for a “possible bombing attack“:
Still, the Pentagon is continuing intensive planning for a possible bombing attack on Iran, a process that began last year, at the direction of the President. In recent months, the former intelligence official told me, a special planning group has been established in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with creating a contingency bombing plan for Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the President, within twenty-four hours.
On Tuesday, Hersh spoke more on the Bush administration’s focus on Iran at the Campus Progress National Conference. He said that President Bush and Vice President Cheney are ignoring the actual intelligence on Iran. The “intelligence community keeps on saying, ‘There’s no bomb there.’ And Cheney keeps on saying to the young briefing officers, ‘Thank you son, I don’t buy that.'” Hersh added, “George Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s wet dream is hitting Iran.” Watch it:
Hersh also stated that Bush likes to compare himself to Winston Churchill. Sources close to the President have heard him “say things like, ‘It’ll be 20 years before they appreciate me. … Yes, I may be at 30 percent in the polls, but in 20 or 30 years, they’ll appreciate what I’ve done.'”
UPDATE: The video has been added.
UPDATE II: Check out the Campus Progress Blog for more updates from the conference.
HERSH: He also believes — and this I know from people — You know, one of the reasons I’m a good reporter is I have a lot of access to people that don’t talk otherwise. So I have over the years developed people that I talk to, and people have heard him say things like, “It’ll be 20 years before they appreciate me.”
He talks a lot about Winston Churchill. Churchill ran — he’s the guy who pulled England up during World War II. You’ve all read about him. But after the war — he was a Tory — a Conservative…everybody came home from the wars, scared to death about jobs, and they voted Labor. He was — Churchill was kicked out of office in ’46. And that was an amazing thing because he had been such a hero to the English people. He got back in in ’52 and then became a hero again.
Bush sees himself as somebody — that “yes, I may be at 30 percent in the polls, but in 20 or 30 years, they’ll appreciate what I’ve done.” And what they believe, he and Cheney — and I just know this in a first-hand way, I know what they’ve said in a first-hand way — they believe that whether Iran has a bomb or not — and there’s no evidence Iran does and it’s plenty of time and Iran may have all sorts of ambitions. And if I were in Iran, I’d be after what they say, all the threats they make.
Anyway, Iran is nowhere near a bomb, despite what you’ve heard. They’re years and years away and would stop tomorrow if you gave them a peace guarantee. They tried to do this in ’03, as you remember. Anyway, they believe — the intelligence community keeps on saying, “There’s no bomb there.” And Cheney keeps on saying to the young briefing officers, “Thank you son, I don’t buy that,” in that nice pleasant tone.
And they believe that whether Iran has a bomb now or not, they can get one from Pakistan, from the Russian black market, and Nasrallah – the Hezbollah terrorist group — is embedded in America, even though there’s no evidence of that. They would be capable of getting a bomb smuggled into New York or Washington or wherever.
And so, what they think they’re doing — and you can’t use the word “delusional,” it’s actually in the DSM, it’s a medical term — wacky. And that’s a fair word. They believe they are protecting us from them. It’s not just keeping them from our shores, it’s protecting us from a nuclear holocaust. They really believe that — they don’t want to say so — they believe it. They’re not going to be persuaded otherwise.
And that’s why people like me, I’m going to get up in the morning — I’ve got a cold, so I might not have thought, but usually I have the thought that there are 554 days, that’s the bad news, the good news is I’m up today, that’s another day less. That’s about it. These guys are scary as hell.
QUESTION: In dealing with Iran, the U.S. finds itself handicapped at the negotiating table due to a lack of diplomatic dialogue between the countries for so long. What must America do, and who must do it, and who must it work with to diffuse tensions without resorting to military force?
HERSH: Well, you’ve got to have a coup to overthrow this guy. He’s not going to talk to Iranians. I don’t think he is no matter what, and that’s terrifying because the Iranians are more than willing to talk. America is a pretty powerful enemy, and I’ve been writing about this for two years in the New Yorker, and initially, everybody thought it was loony. It’s less loony now. I don’t know how to put it — George Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s wet dream is hitting Iran. Maybe I should rephrase that.