Sy Hersh has been going around defending his claim that the administration is seriously planning an attack on Iran which may include the use of tactical nukes. He hit Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! today. Here's an excerpt:
AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain what the Science Defense Board is, the Defense Science Board, and what it has to do with this?OK, so there are crazies in the administration who think tactical nukes (smaller, usually artillery delivered nukes, as opposed to strategic nukes which are delivered by bombers or missiles) are a good idea. Not extremely surprising, is it? Neither is the news that there hasn't 'been any serious discussion of possible civilian casualties'.
SEYMOUR HERSH: Actually, a lot. And it's interesting, because this hasn't been picked up, and it's just hanging there sort of like ripe fruit for the press, if they wanted to. It's an advisory board that’s traditionally a defense science board, obviously. It’s just an advisory board of scientists who advise the Secretary of Defense on issues, and they do some very serious work. They just did a paper recently on the declining rate of high-tech scientists inside that are capable of doing the kind of work we need to continue our leadership in outer space stuff, etc., etc., with a military point of view. And their whole purpose, of course, is a military point of view.
Many of them also work for large defense contractors. There’s a lot of inherent problems in that, too, but nonetheless, in this case the board is headed by a guy named Dr. Bill Schneider, William Schneider, a former -- very conservative guy, very outspoken. Schneider is among a small group of very influential members of the Bush government, who in 2001 produced a paper, just as Bush was coming into office for the first term, they produced a paper advocating or saying, ‘Let's not rule out the use of nuclear weapons. There is a need for tactical nuclear weapons, and they should be in the arsenal and accepted as a rational part of the arsenal, particularly when you're going after hard targets like the underground nuclear facilities in North Korea and Iran, if you were to target them.’
And the people that signed that report include Schneider, as I say, but also Stephen Hadley, who is now the National Security Adviser, Stephen Cambone, who’s the head of the intelligence for the Pentagon and one of Rumsfeld's closest advisers, and also Robert Joseph, who’s the Under Secretary of State for Nonproliferation Affairs, the man who replaced John Bolton in that job and who's been very much a hawk and very tough on Iran in public and even tougher in private. And so, you have these very influential people advocating that tact nukes have some sense and some bearing in the policy.
And I've been told that in the last few months a debate has been sort of ongoing inside the highest levels of the military, and the debate is simply between those senior generals and admirals -- who think using and even planning or talking about using a nuclear weapon in Iran is wacko -- and the White House, because the White House wants it kept in the plan. There's a lot of tension there. But in any case, the science board has been sending papers in saying, ‘Hey, you know, we can tool this weapon up and down.’ The B61, apparently, the yield can be adjusted. You can get more bang for the buck, a larger yield with less radioactive fallout. And so, these kind of papers go on.
What's interesting, Amy, is in all of the conversations we've had about bombing and not bombing and whether to use weapons, what weapon or how much bombing, as, not surprisingly, I don't think there's been any serious discussion of possible civilian casualties. That never seems to be discussed in any of these papers, but that's the way it is.
For all the talk about how this is all 'wild speculation' and how the US is committed to solving this crisis through diplomacy, there's one thing missing - any actual diplomacy. If the administration wants people to believe that they've ruled out a military strike, they need to actually talk to someone in Iran.
(Keywords: politics, war, President Bush, bunker buster, middle east, boneheaded foreign policy )