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Retired Colonel Sam Gardiner on Iran War Plans April 17, 2006

Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner says a military operation has already begun inside Iran. Gardiner says, "It's a very serious question about the constitutional framework under which we are now conducting military operations in Iran." We also speak with Gardiner about what he calls the "unprecedented" revolt against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld within the military. [includes rush transcript] The Bush administration is on the defensive following an unprecedented wave of criticism of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In the last month, seven retired generals have called on Rumsfeld to step down. The criticism has focused on Rumsfeld's leadership style and his handling of the war in Iraq. Former Major General Paul Eaton, who oversaw the training Iraqi troops after the US invasion, wrote last month that "[Rumsfeld] has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically." The other officers include General Anthony Zinni, the former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, the former chief operations commander before the Iraq war. In an article published in Time Magazine, Newbold said he chose to speak out after he was encouraged by other military officials still serving under Rumsfeld.

The White House has dismissed the criticism. On Friday, President Bush released a statement saying he fully supported Rumsfeld. And in a televised interview with Al-Arabiya television last week, Rumsfeld said: "Out of thousands and thousands of admirals and generals, if every time two or three people disagreed we changed the secretary of defense of the United States, it would be like a merry-go-round."

In another issue that's making news from the Pentagon - Iran. Both the New Yorker and the Washington Post have reported the US has drawn up plans for launching tactical nuclear strikes against Iran. President Bush dismissed the reports as "wild speculation." But evidence continues to emerge the US is preparing for a possible attack. On his online column for the Washington Post, defense analyst Wiliam Arkin said the Pentagon has been working on contingency studies for an Iran invasion since at least 2003. Arkin said the studies were conducted under directives from Donald Rumsfeld and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chair General Richard Myers. British military planners have reportedly taken part in one Pentagon "war game" that included an invasion of Iran.

Colonel Sam Gardiner, is a retired Air Force Colonel whose area of expertise includes helping to stage these war games. In 2004, he conducted a war game organized by The Atlantic Monthly to gage how an American President might respond, militarily or otherwise, to Iran's rapid progress toward developing nuclear weapons. What was your conclusion?


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