In the latest issue of The New Yorker, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh reports that a special Pentagon unit has been charged in recent months with developing plans for U.S. air attacks on Iran. From Reuters:
Despite the Bush administration’s insistence it has no plans to go to war with Iran, a Pentagon panel has been created to plan a bombing attack that could be implemented within 24 hours of getting the go-ahead from President George W. Bush, The New Yorker magazine reported in its latest issue.
The special planning group was established within the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in recent months, according to an unidentified former U.S. intelligence official cited in the article by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh in the March 4 issue.
According to the article, the Pentagon unit was initially charged with destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities but has recently changed its mission “to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq.”
Earlier this week, the BBC also reported the existence of U.S. contingency plans for war with Iran that extend beyond Iran’s nuclear facilities. This weekend, Vice President Cheney said war with Iran remains an option.
While contingency war plans exist for many potential conflicts around the world, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) warned this week that the administration’s rhetoric and flawed intelligence on Iran give rise to a special concern that a strategic mistake could lead to war:
In a hazy, hair-triggered environment, careless rhetoric and military movements that one side may believe are required to demonstrate resolve and strength…can be misinterpreted as preparations for military options. The risk of inadvertent conflict because of miscalculation is great.
UPDATE: Hersh’s article is now posted.