ABC Alerts Ayatollahs of CIA’s 'Secret' ‘Hidden War’ Against Iran

On Tuesday’s "World News," reporter Brian Ross exposed a CIA sponsored plan to enact covert action against Iran’s economic structure. On Wednesday’s "Good Morning America," the ABC program attempted to portray the plan in as hyperbolic a manner as possible. This is the graphic that accompanied Mr. Ross’ report for the May 23 GMA: "America’s Hidden War With Iran? CIA’s Secret Operation"

Include an introduction by co-host Chris Cuomo that described the operation as "covert actions aimed at destabilizing the regime," and one might think that some sort of military action was imminent. Finally, Ross described the specifics of the operation, some 30 seconds into the report:

Brian Ross: "Intelligence officials describe the CIA’s Iranian plan as non-lethal, involving a coordinated campaign of propaganda broadcasts, placement of negative newspaper articles, and the manipulation of Iran's currency and international banking transactions..."

Non-lethal? Placement of negative newspaper articles? Does this warrant a graphic warning about America’s "hidden war?"

During Tuesday’s "World News," Ross reported the story in a similar, expanded style, although the segment was free from any mention of a "hidden war."

Several conservative blogs, including NewsBusters, have already made the point that ABC may have undermined America’s a prime opportunity at stopping Iran in a non-military operation:

Ross and ABC News have purposefully undermined the non-military removal of a government that is a proud state sponsor of terrorism. If Ross and ABC News are successful in derailing covert non-military attempts to replace the Iranian government, then a military option may very well end up being our last remaining option.

Update 2007-05-23 17:23 -0400:

Brian Ross has actually done this sort of thing before. As the MRC's Brent Baker noted on April 3, he exposed a "secret war" to stop extremist Iranian leaders from using nuclear weapons:

A night after leading with an "exclusive" about the more imminent than thought horrific threat posed by Iran's nuclear weapons capability, ABC's World News began Tuesday with another Brian Ross "exclusive" in which he exposed a clandestine "secret war" inside Iran, a revelation that seemingly could undermine U.S. efforts to prevent Iran's extremist leaders from using those weapons of mass destruction. "Tonight," anchor Charles Gibson announced at the top of Monday's World News, "an alarming acceleration of Iran's nuclear program. Iran could have material for a bomb in two years. A Brian Ross exclusive."

A transcript of the GMA segment, which aired at 7:05am on May 23 follows:

ABC Graphic: America’s Hidden War With Iran? CIA’s Secret Operation

Chris Cuomo: "We have an ABC News exclusive for you. We’ve learned President Bush has authorized the CIA to carry out covert operations against Iran aimed at destabilizing the regime there. Our chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross is here with the details. Brian?"

Brian Ross: "Good morning, Chris. Current and former intelligence officials tell ABC News that Mr. Bush has signed an official presidential finding authorizing the CIA to carry out what is known as a black or covert operation against Iran. Intelligence officials describe the CIA’s Iranian plan as non-lethal, involving a coordinated campaign of propaganda broadcasts, placement of negative newspaper articles, and the manipulation of Iran's currency and international banking transactions, all playing to perceived vulnerabilities in Iran, according to former Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Rodman."

Peter Rodman (Former Asst. Secretary of Defense): "I think it's economically vulnerable. I think there is ferment in the country. I suspect there are a lot of people among intellectuals, among students, even in political life, who really don't like this clerical regime."

Ross: "Officials say the CIA plan takes the place of proposed U.S. military action against Iran, reportedly advocated by Vice President Cheney."

Bruce Riedel (Former CIA official): "I think they've come to the conclusion a military strike has more down sides than up sides."

Ross: "Officials in Iran have already accused the CIA of running a secret operation to bring down the regime. As ABC News reported last month, the U.S. has been secretly encouraging a Pakistan-based militant group which has carried out a series of attacks on Iranian military units. For the record, the White House and CIA say they do not, as a matter of course, comment on matters involving national security or alleged covert action. Chris?"

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org