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Seymour Hersh: U.S. involved in Israeli plans to invade Lebanon

Published: Sunday August 13, 2006

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In an article for the New Yorker, renowned investigative journalist Seymour Hersh states that the Bush administration was closely involved in last month's invasion of Lebanon by Israel, RAW STORY has learned.

Hersh describes the administration's initial reaction to the invasion as "strangely passive," with George W. Bush saying on July 16, "Itís a moment of clarification" and Condoleezza Rice stating two days later that a ceasefire should wait until "the conditions are conducive."

Hersh's intelligence and diplomatic sources tell him that the reason for this hands-off reaction was that George Bush and Dick Cheney already knew about Israeli plans for a bombing campaign against Hezbollah's underground missile complexes and were convinced that it could both increase Israel's security and serve as a prelude to a American pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear installations.

The White House also wanted Hezbollah stripped of the ability to retailiate against Israel in the wake of an American attack on Iran. As one U.S. government consultant told Hersh, "The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits. Why oppose it? Weíll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran."

The White House and National Security Council have denied knowing in advance about Israel's plans. However, Hersh's sources made it clear that Israel shared its plans with the Americans this past spring and received strong encouragement. Israeli military and intelligence experts acknowledged the American support but insisted to Hersh that Israel had acted against Hezbollah solely on the basis of its own interests and not as an agent of American policy.

Richard Armitage, who served as Deputy Secretary of State during Bush's first term, suggested that the White House should take the Israeli example as a reason to re-examine its plans for Iran: "If the most dominant military force in the region--the Israel Defense Forces--canít pacify a country like Lebanon, with a population of four million, you should think carefully about taking that template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of seventy million."

Link to full article

Hersh appeared on CNN this Sunday to talk about his article.