DICK CHENEY WATCH….AP describes the latest big thing on the conservative scene: Freedom’s Watch, a massive lobbying group dedicated to shoring up support for the Iraq war:
Many in its inner circle of strategists and donors are close to Vice President Dick Cheney or held high posts at the White House….Among those who brainstormed with him this summer was Mary Matalin, Cheney’s counselor until 2003….The group’s donors include Mel Sembler, a friend of Cheney’s and longtime Republican fundraiser. Sembler was chairman of the legal defense fund for I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s former chief of staff who was convicted of lying and obstruction of justice in the investigation into the leak of a CIA operative’s identity. Another donor is Kevin E. Moley, a former U.S. ambassador to international organizations in Geneva and a senior aide to Cheney during the 2000 presidential campaign.
But why stop at Iraq? According to Seymour Hersh, if Cheney has his way Freedom’s Watch will have yet another war to craft ads for:
This summer, the White House, pushed by the office of Vice-President Dick Cheney, requested that the Joint Chiefs of Staff redraw long-standing plans for a possible attack on Iran, according to former officials and government consultants. The focus of the plans had been a broad bombing attack, with targets including Iran’s known and suspected nuclear facilities and other military and infrastructure sites. Now the emphasis is on “surgical” strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities in Tehran and elsewhere, which, the Administration claims, have been the source of attacks on Americans in Iraq. What had been presented primarily as a counter-proliferation mission has been reconceived as counterterrorism.
….A Pentagon consultant on counterterrorism told me that, if the bombing campaign took place, it would be accompanied by a series of what he called “short, sharp incursions” by American Special Forces units into suspected Iranian training sites. He said, “Cheney is devoted to this, no question.”
A limited bombing attack of this sort “only makes sense if the intelligence is good,” the consultant said. If the targets are not clearly defined, the bombing “will start as limited, but then there will be an ‘escalation special.’ Planners will say that we have to deal with Hezbollah here and Syria there.”
For a bunch of folks who complain relentlessly whenever liberals compare Iraq to Vietnam, these guys sure seem hellbent on following the same playbook, don’t they? The marketing campaign is very decidedly underway on this.