Jan 182005

The Bush administration is planning a massive expansion of covert military efforts in the war on terror, veteran journalist Seymour Hersh charges in The New Yorker, and has for months been carrying out secret reconnaissance missions in preparation for possible air strikes in Iran. Hersh writes that President Bush "has signed a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East and South Asia." In a shift from standard practice, these so-called "black reconnaissance" missions will be placed under the purview of the Pentagon rather than the Central Intelligence Agency, enabling "[Defense Secretary] Rumsfeld to run the operations off the books ? free from legal restrictions imposed on the C.I.A." White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett criticized Hersh’s article, saying, "I don’t believe that some of the conclusions he’s drawing are based on fact."

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