Novak: Bush considering secret military action in Turkey
A former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney is briefing lawmakers on Pentagon plans for secret military intervention in Turkey, Robert Novak reported Monday.
The Bush administration is considering covert military activity by U.S. Special Forces to help Turkish troops quash Kurdish guerilla fighters, who are believed to be using northern Iraq as safe-haven, according to the syndicated columnist.
Undersecretary of Defense Eric S. Edelman, a former Cheney aide, briefed lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week on the plans. The plans call for secret U.S. involvement to assist Turkish action against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Edelman's name emerged in news reports earlier this month after he wrote to Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) what many saw as an overly harsh letter in response to her requests about troop withdrawals from Iraq. The letter said her request "reinforces" enemy propaganda.
Members of Congress were stunned after Edelman briefed them on plans calling for U.S. Special Forces to help Turkey eliminate PKK leaders they have targeted for years, Novak reports. Edelman told the lawmakers that he was "sure of success," according to Novak, and assured them the U.S. role would be concealed and denied.
"Even if all this is true," Novak writes, "some of the briefed lawmakers left wondering whether this was a wise policy for handling the beleaguered Kurds, who had been betrayed so often by the U.S. government in years past."
The Turkish government believes the PKK is using the Kurdish-controlled regions of northern Iraq as a base for guerilla operations. Turkey's population is one-fifth Kurdish.
The semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Northern Iraq has Turkey worried about an incursion over its borders by Kurds seeking to reclaim land. Earlier this month, Turkey's prime minister threatened a military incursion into Iraq against the Kurds.