Los Angeles Times
February 25, 2007
NEW YORK — Despite the Bush administration's position that it has no plans to go to war with Iran, a Pentagon panel has been created to plan a bombing attack that could be implemented within 24 hours of getting the go-ahead from the president, the New Yorker magazine reported in its latest issue.
The special planning group was established within the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in recent months, according to an unidentified former U.S. intelligence official cited in the article by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh in the March 4 issue.
The panel initially focused on destroying Iran's nuclear facilities and ousting its government but has more recently been directed to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq, according to an Air Force advisor and a Pentagon consultant, who were not identified.
The consultant and a former senior intelligence official both said that U.S. military teams had crossed from Iraq into Iran in pursuit of Iranian operatives, according to the article.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said of the report:
"The United States is not planning to go to war with Iran. To suggest anything to the contrary is simply wrong, misleading and mischievous.
"The United States has been very clear with respect to its concerns regarding specific Iranian government activities. The president has repeatedly stated publicly that this country is going to work with allies in the region to address those concerns through diplomatic efforts."
Pentagon officials say they maintain contingency plans for dozens of potential conflicts around the world and that all are subject to regular review.