ABC's 'The Blotter' Exposed Secret US Plans for Covert Black Ops in Iran

May 23rd, 2007 6:35 AM

Image from ABC News article on the Blotter that accompanied the story

Update at bottom with video link- 18:10 EST:

Why should a country go to the effort of spying on America when all they have to do is follow the US media? USA Today reported a database of phone calls and the New York Times publically exposed the SWIFT banking transaction database; both were used to combat terrorism.  Now on the May 22 edition of ABC News’ the Blotter, Brian Ross and Richard Esposito revealed another national security-related secret (my emphasis throughout):

The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.


Now the Blotter subtly brought up the specter of illegal activity by quoting ABC News consultant and former “White House counterterrorism official,” Richard Clarke:

“There are some channels where the United States government may want to do things without its hand showing, and legally, therefore, the administration would, if it's doing that, need an intelligence finding and would need to tell the Congress."

Only ten paragraphs in does the article really explain why the White House would find such action necessary:

The covert action plan comes as U.S. officials have confirmed Iran had dramatically increased its ability to produce nuclear weapons material, at a pace that experts said would give them the ability to build a nuclear bomb in two years

That’s it. There is no discussion of Iran’s disregard for international opinion and habit of preaching destruction to the US and Israel, such as President Ahmadinejad stating in 2005 "we shall soon experience a world without America and Zionism" and “Israel must be wiped off the map.” None of that is mentioned and the terrible repercussions of a nuclear Iran are left unaddressed.

Instead, ABC again brought up the legality of such covert actions with the requirement of Congressional reporting, and then questioned the effectiveness and risk of moving to stop Iran, even through non-lethal economic pressure, which “carries great risk”:

"I think everybody in the region knows that there is a proxy war already afoot…(a)nd this covert action is now being escalated by the new U.S. directive, and that can very quickly lead to Iranian retaliation and a cycle of escalation can follow," [Council on Foreign Relation’s Vali] Nasr said.

The article made using covert action to prevent a nuclear Iran seem like just another neo-con adventure in global domination, dropping the names of advisors such as Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams, who “in particular” “blessed” the plan. Of course, there were a total of five paragraphs devoted to Elliot’s past, which included his role in Iran-Contra and Republican connections.

Too bad that ABC didn’t devote as much space to reminding the public about Iran’s past and troubling stated future wishes. That kind of context is essential; without it, an article like this reads more like ideological bias and an attempt to silently sway opinion.

Update: ABC News posted this video that explains a little more about the network’s exclusive story, such as what the “non-lethal covert acts” entail--"a coordinated campaign of propaganda broadcasts, placement of negative newspaper articles and manipulation of Iran’s currency and international banking transactions," which took the place of Dick Cheney’s plan for military action.

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