Dept. of Imperial Decay, Iran Division

Just as I was starting to wonder when we'd see Seymour Hersh's next expose on the inner workings of the imperial machine, he delivers on the New Yorker website.

The headline is Dick Cheney musing a month before the election that a Democratic sweep of Congress would do nothing to derail plans for an attack on Iran.  But it's not that cut-and-dried.  As I've indicated before , there's all manner of Machiavellian machinations going on now (to say nothing of father-son power struggles), and it could take a while to play out.  But one passage is rather revealing, dealing with the question of whether the new SecDef Robert Gates will stand up to the neocons:

"Iraq is the disaster we have to get rid of, and Iran is the disaster we have to avoid," Joseph Cirincione, the vice-president for national security at the liberal Center for American Progress, said. "Gates will be in favor of talking to Iran and listening to the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but the neoconservatives are still there” — in the White House — ”and still believe that chaos would be a small price for getting rid of the threat. The danger is that Gates could be the new Colin Powell, the one who opposes the policy but ends up briefing the Congress and publicly supporting it."

There's also extensive reportage of CIA intelligence work that finds scant evidence of Iranian efforts to build a nuclear weapon, and efforts elsewhere in the executive branch to nonetheless twist that scant evidence into a compelling case, a la Iraq.

The White House response, as reported by the Associated Press: 

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino on Sunday derided Hersh's article in the upcoming issue of The New Yorker as "riddled with inaccuracies" and charged that "once again he is creating a story to satisfy his own radical views."

I believe this is what inside-the-Beltway types call a "non-denial denial."

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