Pentagon attacks New Yorker's Iran report

Jan. 17, 2005 at 1:50 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The Pentagon Monday attacked allegations by The New Yorker that claimed Iran was the "next strategic target" in the war on terrorism.

The lengthy article by Seymour Hersh released by the magazine Monday claimed the Bush administration plans to use its re-election to expand the war on terror and any escalation would be under Pentagon control.

"The planning for Iran is going ahead even though Iraq is a mess," Hersh told CNN. "I think they really think there's a chance to do something in Iran, perhaps by summer, to get the intelligence on the sites."

The Department of Defense issued a statement attacking Hersh's article, calling it "so riddled with errors of fundamental fact that the credibility of his entire piece is destroyed."

"Mr. Hersh's source(s) feed him with rumor, innuendo and assertions about meetings that never happened, programs that do not exist and statements by officials that were never made," Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita said in the release.

White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett also told CNN Hersh's story was "riddled with inaccuracies."

Hersh wrote that while neither the White House nor Pentagon responded to his requests for comment prior to publication, in other interviews, "I was repeatedly told that the next strategic target was Iran."

Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran says is for electricity generation but the U.S. officials fear is for weapons development, is at the heart of the problem since international observers cannot determine how sophisticated the program is.

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