Washington Babylon — September 4, 2007, 6:14 pm

Speaking From Experience, Part II: Former CIA official expects war with Iran

Until recently, I thought the odds that the United States would attack Iran were less than fifty-fifty, but the chances of a military confrontation are clearly growing (as my colleague Scott Horton has been reporting on for some time). Earlier this year, I asked a former CIA official, who was stationed in the Persian Gulf during the first Gulf War and served in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, if he though the administration was planning a military strike. “I don’t think the administration is about to carry out military action,” he told me. “The military does not want to do this. We will lose planes if there is a massive air strike over Iran. We’ll have pilots killed and captured.”

Yesterday, I called the official—who speaks with me only off the record—and he now believes a military strike is likely. Here are his comments, which I offer not as an endorsement of an invasion, but because of his knowledge and insights into what might lay ahead:

It looks like a military strike is in the works and I base that on two things: observable fact and the rhetoric emanating from the White House. There’s a lot of movement of troops and materiel into the region–it’s stuff the United States can’t hide. It’s a huge expense to put Navy battle groups in the Gulf and we’ve got three of them there. We’ve also moved new fighter planes to Guam amidst much public fanfare. You can plainly see the upturn in US Naval activity in and around the Norfolk Naval installations. The movement of ships, re-supply, ammunition loading and general level of activity is high.

The Naval facilities and the ammunition loading areas are well known, and the activity is readily visible, especially at night. There’s a stream of ships coming in to load up and when they take off new ones come in. There’s only one part of the world where all that stuff is heading. Also, everyone I know who would be involved in an attack on Iran–pilots and other air assets–is gone. Normally some of them are around but now all of them are away at the same time.

The other evidence of a likely strike is all the harsh talk from the White House. President Bush has been talking about Iran a lot more recently, and he put the Revolutionary Guard on the list of terrorist groups. Whatever you think of the president, he has said he won’t let Iran move forward with its nuclear program. I’d take him at his word.

And it’s doable. The only part of the military that’s not stretched to the limits in Iraq is the Air Force. It will be a multi-day, multi-target air campaign–not ‘Shock and Awe,’ which wasn’t shocking and didn’t awe anyone, but a savage blow struck against President Ahmadinejad. We shouldn’t hit Iran’s Navy or Air Force but target the nuclear sites and the Revolutionary Guard. A measured response helps Ahmadinejad because he’s saying the Americans won’t attack, or can’t hurt, Iran. A disproportionate response will be hard for him to explain to the Iranian public.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

October 2014

Cassandra Among the
Creeps

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Today Is Better Than Tomorrow”

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

PBS Self-Destructs

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Monkey Did It

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“This is not a fable about a young woman whose dreams were dashed by a sexual predator. Maya’s narrative is one of institutional failure at a school desperately trying to adapt.”
Photograph © AP/Josh Reynolds
Article
Kandahar’s Mystery Executions·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“He told me he was made to stand on an ice block for thirty minutes at a time, and would then be forced to run barefoot across the gravel while an officer cable-whipped him.”
Photograph (detail) © Victor J. Blue
Article
The Tale of the Tape·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Heroin isn’t the weakness Art Pepper submits to; it’s the passion he revels in.”
Photograph (detail) © Laurie Pepper
Post
Art Beyond Politics·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Arab artists take up — and look past — regional politics
“When everyday life regularly throws up images of terror and drama and the technological sublime, how can a photographer compete?”
“Qalandia 2087, 2009,” by Wafa Hourani
Criticism
The Soft-Kill Solution·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Policymakers, recognizing the growing influence of civil disobedience and riots on the direction of the nation, had already begun turning to science for a response."
Illustration by Richard Mia

Percentage of Americans who rank the stock-market crash as the most important problem facing America today:

2

Men with diabetes are more likely to have low testosterone levels.

Comedian Joan Rivers died at age 81. “I finally found out how priests get holy water,” Rivers once said. “They boil the hell out of it.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today