By TIM RINNE
Reports of a possible U.S. air assault against Iranian nuclear facilities have been circulating in the media for more than a year and a half now. Former CIA agent Philip Giraldi (The American Conservative, 8/1/05), Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh (New Yorker Magazine, 4/17/06) and most recently, investigative reporter Craig Unger in the March 2007 Vanity Fair, have all warned of the White House's plans for an air- and sea-based strike against Iran.
But such an assault has been in the planning since before November 2003, when U.S. Strategic Command near Omaha, Nebraska completed its preparations for waging offensive and preemptive strikes against Iran and North Korea (William Arkin, Washington Post, 5/15/05). Under "CONPLAN 8022" (Contingency Plan 8022), the Omaha-based command center is now commissioned to strike anywhere in the world within minutes of detecting a target deemed a threat to the United States' national security. And the projected attack against Iran--which could well include nuclear as well as conventional weapons--will be planned, launched and coordinated by StratCom.
For over half a century, the seemingly remote Omaha Air Force Base in the American heartland served exclusively as the command center for the U.S.'s nuclear deterrent. After 9/11, however, StratCom underwent a significant transformation of its role and mission, becoming in effect the war room' for waging the White House's "War on Terror." StratCom retained its historic responsibility for overseeing the largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world. But it acquired the additional charges of "full-spectrum global strike" (staging offensive, preemptive attacks); combating weapons of mass destruction; space and computer warfare; ballistic missile defense; and surveillance and reconnaissance (the "warrantless wiretaps" conducted by the National Security Agency, for instance, were a StratCom project).
According to the Vanity Fair article, StratCom could be ready to launch a "massive" aerial attack against the hundreds of nuclear facilities in Iran as soon as the end of this month (February). The possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons to penetrate the reinforced bunkers protecting the Iranian nuclear research facilities is also apparently real.
Today, U.S. Strategic Command in Bellevue, Nebraska (a suburb of Omaha) is the most dangerous place on the face of the earth. To thwart this wrong-headed and potentially catastrophic assault on Iran by StratCom will require nothing less than a mobilization by the world community. The Bush/Cheney Administration must be publicly challenged in the court of world opinion, and international media coverage of StratCom's leading role is integral to rallying opposition.
Can you imagine the public reaction--particularly in the Muslim world--if the war plans taking shape at StratCom were common knowledge?
Here we have the command center for the world's largest nuclear arsenal orchestrating an unprovoked attack (possibly even with nuclear weapons) on a non-nuclear Muslim nation, in order to prevent that country from even developing nuclear power for civilian purposes, for fear it might someday make a bomb.
StratCom's policy promotes a morally repugnant double standard. And it is begging to be turned into a bully pulpit,' from which opponents can expose its hypocritical behavior.
Under international law, were the United States again to launch an unprovoked attack against a Muslim nation-- as it did with Iraq--it would be acting illegally. But if the U.S. were also to use tactical nuclear weapons on Iran, it would be only the second time in over 61 years that a nuclear weapon has been used militarily. And on each of those occasions, it will have been the United States that used them.
The role and mission of StratCom has changed so dramatically in the past five years that most of the world has little idea of what is currently going on there.
Tim Rinne is State Coordinator, Nebraskans for Peace, the oldest statewide Peace & Justice organization in the United States, and has been working for more than 35 years to alert the public about U.S. Strategic Command.