You remember the Office of Special Plans (OSP) don’t you? It operated out of the Pentagon under the direction of Douglas “The fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth” Feith where it acted as a filter on raw intelligence regarding Iraq, cherry picking anything that supported the administration’s desire for war, and suppressing any information that tended to show Iraq was not a threat to our national security. As we now know, the folks at OSP did a “heckuva job” in finding the manure Bush and Cheney needed to fertilize their dreams of conquest. The fact that all their “intelligence” proved dead wrong after we invaded was beside the point. Bush wanted a war, and he got the war he wanted. Mission accomplished!

The OSP may have bitten the dust, officially, but somehow out of the ashes of its demise, not one, but two fledgling organizations have arisen ready to perform the same critical task for our Commander-in-Chief with respect to Iran. (Cont. below)

In the State Department we have the brand spanking new Iran-Syria Operations Group (ISOG), whose stated purpose is to encourage regime change in Iran. Guess who heads up this little band of merry warmongers? Why, none other than our Vice President’s very own daughter (the not gay one), Liz Cheney:

During the past 15 months, Elizabeth Cheney has met with and bolstered a gaggle of Syrian exiles, often in tandem with John Hannah and David Wurmser, top officials in the Office of the Vice President (OVP); has pressed hard for money to accelerate the administration’s ever more overt campaign for forced regime change in both Damascus and Teheran; and has overseen an increasingly discredited push for American-inspired democratic reform from Morocco to Iran. […]

Now, according to the Financial Times of London, Cheney is coordinating the work of a new entity called the Iran-Syria Operations Group. The unit was established “to plot a more aggressive democracy promotion strategy for those two ‘rogue’ states,” reported the Times. In February, the State Department announced that Cheney would oversee a $5 million program to “accelerate the work of reformers in Syria,” providing grants of up to $1 million each to Syrian dissidents.

And in the current fiscal year, she will oversee a similar, $7 million regime-change grant program for Iran, though funding for that effort is expected to grow to at least $85 million soon, to include both a propaganda program and support to Iranian opposition groups. “She came in knowing very little about the Middle East,” says Marina S. Ottaway, senior associate and co-director of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who has worked with Liz Cheney on democratic reform issues. “She had a mandate to do democracy promotion, but she had very little familiarity with the subject. … They deliberately picked a person who was not a Middle East specialist, so that the conventional wisdom, well, let me rephrase, so that real, actual knowledge of the issues in the region wouldn’t interfere with policy.”

Yes, can’t have someone with knowledge of relevant issues in the Middle East in charge. That would really mess with the administration’s war plans democracy promotion program for the region. And what better person to have head up this virtuous policy of regime change encouraging the “growth of democracy” than a person so close to the Vice President that she shares much of the same DNA.

So, what exactly has dear Miz Lizzy been up to lately in her new position? Well, take a gander:

…[T]he State Department has launched a campaign against Iran, separately from any military confrontation being worked on at the Pentagon.

“It looks so déjà vu,” says Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, who compares the effort to America’s actions before war in Iraq. In addition to pressing the United Nations to impose tough new sanctions against Iran, Liz Cheney is coordinating an effort to rouse Iranian exiles to spark revolution inside the country. Besides seeking $75 million in additional funds for anti-Tehran activities, the State Department has created a brand new Office of Iranian Affairs, which sounds suspiciously like the Defense Department’s Office of Special Plans that was set up to coordinate pre-war planning for Iraq.

And, according to a recent State Department planning document, the United States is setting up anti-Iranian intelligence and mobilization centers in Dubai, Istanbul, Ankara, Adana, Tel Aviv, Frankfurt, London, and Baku to work with “Iranian expatriate communities.” Having set into motion much of this activity, Liz Cheney’s role in once again up in the air. Many at the State Department may breathe a sigh of relief this summer, when Cheney will once again likely take a leave of absence for the birth of her fifth child, expected in July. Even so, she will remain part of her father’s inner circle.

But Liz Cheney’s “baby” (her baby at the State Department, as opposed to the real baby kicking around inside her uterus) is not the only game in town when it comes to democracy promotion. The Pentagon has it’s own new organization dedicated to getting the Imams out of Iran:

Lt. Col. Barry E. Venable, a spokesman for the Pentagon, confirmed the creation of the directorate for Iran in both a phone conversation and an email message.

“As the State Department stated in early March (Daily Press Brief, Mar. 3), the U.S. Government is organizing itself better to address what Secretary Rice called ‘one of the great challenges for the United States, a strategic challenge for the United States and for those who desire peace and freedom,’” Venable wrote.

“As a counterpart to the State Department’s new Office of Iran Affairs, the Department of Defense has split off a new directorate for Iran-related policy issues from the existing Directorate of Northern Gulf Affairs in the Office of Near East and South Asia Affairs (NESA),” he added. “These regional policy offices fall within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.”

Venable also confirmed that the new directorate falls under the policy side — more specifically — under the new number three at the Pentagon, Eric Edelman. Edelman, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, holds the same position that Douglas Feith held when he ran OSP at the Pentagon in the lead-up to the Iraq war.

Moreover, sources say that the Iranian Directorate is staffed with many of the same people, including OSP’s former director Abram Shulsky, and receives expert analysis from such controversial figures as Project for the New American Century member Reuel Marc Gerecht, who by all accounts was a failure as a CIA field officer. It also includes military personnel such as Ladan Archin, who appears to be serving in the Larry Franklin analyst role among a sea of think-tank operatives and neoconservative war hawks.

When asked specifically about Shulsky, Venable described his involvement as follows:

“Mr. Shulsky continues in his position as Senior Advisor to the USD (P), focusing on Mid-East regional issues and the [global war on terror].”

I guess it’s a good thing Iran is reacting favorably so far to the proposal for talks advanced by the Bush Administration and his European Allies. Because the Neo-Conservatives in the Bush administration have their game face on, and they’re more than willing to practice a more aggressive approach to diplomacy if given the opportunity.

Trita Parsi, a specialist on Iranian foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, told RAW STORY that “In the short term the risk for military confrontation [with Iran] has been reduced,” but cautions that “In the long run, however, unless there are talks taking place the risk for a military strike remains the same.”

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