New Yorker reveals covert US ops in Iran


The New Yorker magazine says Washington has escalated covert operations against Iran in a bid to destabilize the country's leadership.


In a report published in the online version of The New Yorker magazine, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has revealed that US Congressional leaders quietly agreed late last year to President Bush's funding request for a major escalation of covert operations against the Islamic Republic.


The article centers on a highly classified Presidential Finding which, by US law, must be made known to Senate leaders, the Democratic and Republican House and to ranking members of the intelligence committees.


"The Finding was focused on undermining Iran's nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change," the article cited a person familiar with its contents as saying.


The finding also focused on working with the country's opposition groups and funneling money.


The article cites current and former military, intelligence and congressional sources as saying that $400 million was approved by congressional leaders for clandestine operations against Iran.


US Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross border operations from southern and southeastern Iraq since last year, the article said.


These have included seizing members of Iran's Qods force -- an arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps -- and taking them to Iraq for interrogation.


The operations also involved the pursuit, capture or killing of 'high-value targets' in the so-called war on terrorism, according to the article.


However, the article cited current and former officials as saying that the scale and scope of the covert operations inside Iran, including forces from the Central Intelligence Agency, have now been significantly expanded.


Many of these activities were not specified in the Presidential Finding and some congressional leaders have had serious questions about their nature, the article said.


According to former CIA officer, Robert Baer, the Jundullah terrorist group is among the outfits inside Iran benefiting from US support.


Jundullah, which operates in Iran's Sistan-Baluchistan province and Pakistan's Baluchistan province, has carried out a number of attacks against Iranian civilians as well as high-profile government and security officials.


Neither the Democratic leaders in Congress nor the White house and the CIA would comment on the finding, the article said.