This is action is long overdue:
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.
Last summer, however, senior administration officials decided that a more confrontational approach was necessary, as Iran’s regional influence grew and U.S. efforts to isolate Tehran appeared to be failing. The country’s nuclear work was advancing, U.S. allies were resisting robust sanctions against the Tehran government, and Iran was aggravating sectarian violence in Iraq.
Iranian agents can be targeted in areas outside of Iraq as well:
With aspects of the plan also targeting Iran’s influence in Lebanon, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories, the policy goes beyond the threats Bush issued earlier this month to “interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria” into Iraq. It also marks a departure from years past when diplomacy appeared to be the sole method of pressuring Iran to reverse course on its nuclear program.
The authority has existed for months but military commanders were apparently reluctant to act:
Though U.S. forces are not known to have used lethal force against any Iranian to date, Bush administration officials have been urging top military commanders to exercise the authority.
The Iranians are probably surprised that they were able to operate free of this threat as long as they did. Hopefully, this policy will be implemented more aggressively under General Petraeus and this will send some of the Iranian operatives packing ahead of the surge. Those who remain should be rolled up (or over) as soon as possible.
It will be interesting to see how Iran reacts to this public humiliation.
On Deadline reports that the President has commented on the policy:
Asked about the reports, President Bush said a few minutes ago that “our policy is going to be to protect our troops in Iraq” and that it is “simply not accurate” to say this is a precursor to a wider war that spread to Iran. He “pretty good progress” is being made on solving the Iranian nuclear dispute diplomatically.
So that’s not saying much. Hopefully our actions in the coming weeks and months will say more.
Barking Moonbat Early Warning System: Personally, I think this should have been done two years ago. In fact, on Day One of the invasion of Iraq, orders should have been given to “shoot to kill” anyone carrying a gun or even just throwing a rock at our soldiers. Things would be a lot quieter today if they had.
Mark My Words: It’s about time. When elements of the Iranian regime have been helping to kill our troops and Iraqis, they should face the most serious consequences possible.
Neal Boortz: It turns out that for over a year, we’ve been running this policy with the Iranians where we detain them for a couple days, make note of their identity, then send them on their way. Don’t want to offend Tehran, you know. Are you kidding me? No wonder people think we’re losing the war. It’s just these sorts of appeasement tactics that have put us in the position we are in now.
Innisfree: This will be the start of war with Iran…
The Right-Wing Liberal: Yet another piece of evidence that the Bush Administration gets it on the Iranian mullahcracy
Captain’s Quarters: Basically, Iran is taking what action we have been willing to allow to this point. We’re about to redefine that, and while some will howl about “escalation”, any war on terror would eventually have to address Iran. It’s better to do it now by blunting their efforts in Iraq than wait until they have a nuke and have to fight them from Israel and Saudi Arabia. If they’re stupid enough to continue provoking us in Iraq, then they have to pay the consequences — and it’s about time they did.
7.62mm Justice: It’s nice to see us on the offensive with the damn Iranians for a change. They have been poking us with a stick for long enough, it’s time to “Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war”.
Shades of Red, White, and Blue: Catch and release policy: Isn’t that the same policy they have used for illegal immigrants inside the United States? Illegal immigrants are not killing Americans. Illegal immigrants are not trying to build a nuclear bomb. We obviously have border policy in Iraq that we do at home in America.
In the Bullpen: Does this plan also include Muqtada al-Sadr? Sadr is not an Iranian, but he is nonetheless working for Iran and the leader of a powerful Shia militia responsible for the murder of thousands of Sunnis in Iraq.
Hot Air: The aim, obviously, is to beat back Iran influence across the region until they’re back to this point and are ready to make a deal on nukes. Like the surge, it’s a good idea that’s years too late. Unlike the surge, which will be led by Petraeus, it’s being run by Bush’s same old crew. I have no faith in them at this point to anticipate contingencies or react effectively when they occur, so color me reluctantly, cautiously pessimistic.
Crush Liberalism: If our gutless and shameless politicians really “support the troops”, how about stop playing footsies with maniacal dictators who are trying to get our brave ones killed and let the soldiers do their damned jobs?
Jules Crittenden: Great news out of Iraq. U.S. forces have been playing catch and release with dozens of Iranian agents in Iraq. Now, they are authorized to kill them. This, is it hoped, will send a message to Iran. Nothing like the message killing Iranian agents in Iran will send, but its a start.
The Strong Conservative: For heavens sake, act like a superpower, kick ass and win.
Mr. Minority: No more Mr Nice Guy for Iranian terrorists, it’s one “Stop”, then lead, as it ought to be. If we can curtail Iran and Syria’s involvement in Iraq, we may actually have a chance of stabilizing that country. And as for the Donk’s “let’s negotiate with Iran and Syria”, the idea is absurd and you ought to ashamed of yourselves for coming up with something so stupid and harmful to our goal.
Confederate Yankee: Iranian foreign policy is in direct conflict with that of the United States across the Middle East, and they have provided military support, training, and presumably intelligence assets in both Iraq and Lebanon. They seek not to just destroy the tenuous democratic governments in these two nations and (no doubt) hopefully install puppet regimes of their own beholden to Tehran, but hope to destroy both the United States and Israel. Of course, we can’t been sure of that last claim… Ahmadinejad has only stated it publicly about a dozen times, so we might be missing some nuance there.
Blue Crab Boulevard: The Washington Post is reporting that US forces have been authorized to capture or kill Iranian agents found operating inside Iraq. There is the usual cacophony of “unnamed” intelligence, defense and State Department who are “concerned” or “Skeptical” about the policy. But I have one question: Why didn’t we start sooner?
Stop the ACLU: We weren’t authorized to kill “Iranian operatives” in Iraq before? Scary if true.
Clarity and Resolve: So many of us just don’t understand that our war against these medieval freaks has already begun.
JayReding.com: We have to take the gloves off in this war, and this is a positive sign that we are doing exactly that. Iran’s complicity in the conflict in Iraq is undeniable, yet Iran has suffered few to no consequences for their actions. The only way to secure Iraq is to prevent these foreign interlopers from feeding sectarian tensions and supporting terrorist groups. That requires us to put a great deal of pressure on Iran to stop — including the use of military force.
Right Truth: I don’t believe there is any way we can avoid some kind of conflict with Iran. As a country who supports Israel and is apparently determined to salvage what we can in the Middle East, we will do what we can to stop Iran.