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Seymour Hersh: US Training Iranian Terrorists in Nevada

The Bush administration secretly trained an Iranian opposition group despite its inclusion on the State Department's list of foreign terrorists.

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AMY GOODMAN: Sy Hersh, why the Department of Energy? And again, this is under the Bush administration. They’re labeled terrorists, but they are training them, not only in communications, you point out.

SEYMOUR HERSH: They’ve had—there is a secret site. It’s about 60-some-odd miles out of Las Vegas, deep in no-man’s land in southern Nevada, where we’ve been doing an awful lot of stuff for many years. It’s called "Site 12." That particular site, it’s—our  CIA and other agencies have been training foreign troops. It’s where, I would guess, when we do joint training with the special units of the Israeli army and other units that we train, we do train foreign soldiers. We can fly to this base. It’s got a long landing strip, 7,500 feet, concrete landing strip. And for a long time it had yellow crosses on it, which meant, for even aircraft, commercial aircraft, in trouble, do not land here. And this is a strip that you come in and you—I presume, you come in in a military plane. You can turn off the transponder. Nobody—no  FAA is checking anything. Nobody is going to get a tail number. You can land. And there’s a facility there. There’s barracks and other work, other facilities, in Site 12 for—and a food hall. It’s all—you could actually find it online if you go through the Department of Energy’s annual—they provide annual environmental impact reports, and they describe what’s going on in each site in terms of the environment. And there you get a pretty good description. In fact, they actually use the word—there’s a training facility used for other government agencies. An " OGA," other government agencies, is a longstanding phrase that means the  CIA, essentially—actually specifically to people on the inside. So there’s been training there forever.

And it just so happens, if you take a look at northwest Iran and take a look at the topography in that part of the desert in Nevada, it’s a very arid area, I think 15 inches of rain, or something like that, a year. It’s got a desert. It’s got valleys. It’s got mountain ranges. And it really is similar. I’ll tell you what the most frightening thing was. When they first began the training, one very senior four-star officer was called by somebody who knew about the training in Nevada, very worried about it, and because the Joint Special Operations Command people were training in—not only in communications and cryptography, small unit tactics, but other cute things, which, to me, of course, and to my friend, meant interrogation tactics, you know, how to—you know, I don’t know this, but I presume included the standard sort of horrible stuff that we know American intelligence agencies have and  CIA and other personnel have done to various prisoners of war since 9/11, waterboarding and the like. It was very troubling, that message, that this kind of training is being done on a group that’s listed as a terrorist group.

AMY GOODMAN: And yet, so many public officials, Bush and Republican and Democrats, are calling for them to be taken off the list. Among the U.S. officials to speak in support of  MEK is former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Speaking to CNN last year, he said the U.S. should lift the terror group designation to help protect  MEK members living in Iraq.

HOWARD DEAN: The FBI screened all these people. The  FBIcounterterrorist folks screened all these people in 2006. Not one of them is a terrorist, according to our  FBI. This is outrageous, what’s going on. It’s an outrageous behavior by the State Department. And frankly, the administration has direct responsibility for making sure that the promises were kept. We kept one promise. That is, we kept George Bush’s promise to get out by the end of 2011. We need to keep the promise of the people at Ashraf. We ought not to be complicit in human rights massacres.

 
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