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Published on Jul 18, 2010
Remember when Bush authorised covert action against Iran? Well it is happening again. This VERY rare report by ABC explains more about it.
From May 22, 2007- The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.
The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.
"I can't confirm or deny whether such a program exists or whether the president signed it, but it would be consistent with an overall American approach trying to find ways to put pressure on the regime," said Bruce Riedel, a recently retired CIA senior official who dealt with Iran and other countries in the region.
A National Security Council spokesperson, Gordon Johndroe, said, "The White House does not comment on intelligence matters." A CIA spokesperson said, "As a matter of course, we do not comment on allegations of covert activity."
The sources say the CIA developed the covert plan over the last year and received approval from White House officials and other officials in the intelligence community.
Officials say the covert plan is designed to pressure Iran to stop its nuclear enrichment program and end aid to insurgents in Iraq.
"Vice President Cheney helped to lead the side favoring a military strike," said former CIA official Riedel, "but I think they have come to the conclusion that a military strike has more downsides than upsides."
Under the law, the CIA needs an official presidential finding to carry out such covert actions. The CIA is permitted to mount covert "collection" operations without a presidential finding.
"Presidential findings" are kept secret but reported to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and other key congressional leaders.
American intelligence sources say Jundullah has received money and weapons through the Afghanistan and Pakistan military and Pakistan's intelligence service. Pakistan has officially denied any connection.
A report broadcast on Iranian TV last Sunday said Iranian authorities had captured 10 men crossing the border with $500,000 in cash along with "maps of sensitive areas" and "modern spy equipment."
A senior Pakistani official told ABCNews.com the 10 men were members of Jundullah.
The leader of the Jundullah group, according to the Pakistani official, has been recruiting and training "hundreds of men" for "unspecified missions" across the border in Iran.