By: E&P Staff and The Associated Press
President Bush has authorized U.S. forces in Iraq to take whatever actions are necessary to counter Iranian agents deemed a threat to American troops or the public at large, the White House said Friday, seeming to confirm a front-page scoop in today’s Washington Post.
The Post’s Dafna Linzer reports today, “The Bush administration has authorized the U.S. military to kill or capture Iranian operatives inside Iraq as part of an aggressive new strategy to weaken Tehran’s influence across the Middle East and compel it to give up its nuclear program, according to government and counterterrorism officials with direct knowledge of the effort.
“For more than a year, U.S. forces in Iraq have secretly detained dozens of suspected Iranian agents, holding them for three to four days at a time. The ‘catch and release’ policy was designed to avoid escalating tensions with Iran and yet intimidate its emissaries. U.S. forces collected DNA samples from some of the Iranians without their knowledge, subjected others to retina scans, and fingerprinted and photographed all of them before letting them go.”
The aggressive new policy came in response to intelligence that Iran is supporting terrorists inside Iraq and is providing bombs – known as improvised explosive devices – and other equipment to anti-U.S. insurgents.
“The president and his national security team over the last several months have continued to receive information that Iranians were supplying IED equipment and or training that was being used to harm American soldiers,” National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
“As a result American forces, when they receive actionable information, may take the steps necessary to protect themselves as well as the population,” Johndroe said.