The Command Post
May 06, 2003
Seymour Hersh On The Pentagon's Office Of Special Plans

You have heard of the Pentagon Office of Special Plans, haven't you? No? Well, Seymour Hersh has, and he's written an extremely interesting article on the group in the current New Yorker, posted online here. Not only does he profile the OSP -- and their central role in advising Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest of the Administration -- he also details their strong tie to the political philosophy of University of Chicago professor Leo Strauss, whose mentorship may have had profound consequences for current US foreign policy. Highlights:

The director of the Special Plans operation is Abram Shulsky, a scholarly expert in the works of the political philosopher Leo Strauss. Shulsky has been quietly working on intelligence and foreign-policy issues for three decades; he was on the staff of the Senate Intelligence Com-mittee in the early nineteen-eighties and served in the Pentagon under Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle during the Reagan Administration, after which he joined the Rand Corporation. The Office of Special Plans is overseen by Under-Secretary of Defense William Luti, a retired Navy captain. Luti was an early advocate of military action against Iraq, and, as the Administration moved toward war and policymaking power shifted toward the civilians in the Pentagon, he took on increasingly important responsibilities.

W. Patrick Lang, the former chief of Middle East intelligence at the D.I.A., said, “The Pentagon has banded together to dominate the government’s foreign policy, and they’ve pulled it off. They’re running Chalabi. The D.I.A. has been intimidated and beaten to a pulp. And there’s no guts at all in the C.I.A.” ...

... According to the Pentagon adviser, Special Plans was created in order to find evidence of what Wolfowitz and his boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, believed to be true—that Saddam Hussein had close ties to Al Qaeda, and that Iraq had an enormous arsenal of chemical, biological, and possibly even nuclear weapons that threatened the region and, potentially, the United States ...

... The agency’s analysts, Shulsky and Schmitt argue, “were generally reluctant throughout the Cold War to believe that they could be deceived about any critical question by the Soviet Union or other Communist states. History has shown this view to have been extremely naïve.” They suggested that political philosophy, with its emphasis on the variety of regimes, could provide an “antidote” to the C.I.A.’s failings, and would help in understanding Islamic leaders, “whose intellectual world was so different from our own.”

Strauss’s idea of hidden meaning, Shulsky and Schmitt added, “alerts one to the possibility that political life may be closely linked to deception. Indeed, it suggests that deception is the norm in political life, and the hope, to say nothing of the expectation, of establishing a politics that can dispense with it is the exception.”

Read the rest; it's worth the time.

UPDATE: In the comments reader Joe of The Short Strange Trip posted this perspective on Hersh in Slate ... also worth reading.

Posted By Alan at May 6, 2003 09:20 PM | TrackBack

Does anyone else find out amusing that there are two brothers named Saddam Kamel and Hussein Kamel?

Ok... I'll shut up now.

Posted by: harhar at May 7, 2003 07:36 AM

An interesting take on Hersh's conclusions at:

Posted by: Joe at May 7, 2003 03:15 PM
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