Do U.S. Special Operations Forces Really Cross the Border Into Iran?

At the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh concludes that the recent International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran’s nuclear activities “leaves us where we’ve been since 2002, when George Bush declared Iran to be a member of the Axis of Evil — with lots of belligerent talk but no definitive evidence of a nuclear-weapons program.”

On the heels of that he spoke to Amy Goodman at Democracy Now. She asked: “Can you talk more about U.S. infiltration of Iran, JSOC in Iran, surveillance, as well, in Iran?”

One can’t help but wonder how this works. Do U.S. forces actually cross the border or do they employ use Iranian resistance forces? Hersh, who first wrote about this in 2008, starts off by talking about “the kind of stuff they did.” Confusing matters, he next uses the pronoun “we.”

… where we saw some digging, let’s say, in a mountain area, we would line the road, when there were trucks going up and down the road … with what seemed to be pebbles. In fact, they were sensors that could measure the weight of trucks going in and out. If a truck would go in light and come out with heavy, we could assume it was coming out with dirt, they were doing digging. We did that kind of monitoring.

By “we,” is Hersh referring to our troops, resistance forces working for the United States, or both? He sheds some light on the question (emphasis added).

We would go into a building, our troops, sometimes even with Americans, go into a building in Tehran, where we thought there was something fishy going on, start a disturbance down the street, take out a few bricks [from a building], slam in another section of brick with a … measuring device to see if, in that building, they were doing some enrichment we didn’t know about.

Meanwhile, at Defense Update, David Eshel writes, “But many of the activities may still be carried out by dissidents inside Iran, and not by Americans in the field.”

In his 2008 piece, Hersh wrote:

The Pentagon consultant told me, “We’ve had wonderful results in the Horn of Africa with the use of surrogates and false flags—basic counterintelligence and counter-insurgency tactics. [But] There is huge opposition inside the intelligence community to the idea of waging a covert war inside Iran, and using Baluchis [Jundallah] and Ahwazis [Arab minority] as surrogates.”

The rest is left to the imagination. U.S. special operations forces crossing the border, trekking over mountains dressed in Iranian clothes, some speaking Farsi, to waiting MEK or Jundallah vehicles. Beyond that, no need for contact with the populace. Iran isn’t as heterogeneous as the United States, but, presumably, they’d be just as inconspicuous as Iranians riding U.S. highways en route to pull off an operation on American soil.