One of the rationales noted for this very worrisome decision by our shiny-bright president is to lay the groundwork for a possible US military strike on Iran - although I'll just betcha that our Israeli "allies" will be allowed a peek at the findings.
But some Pentagon officials worry that the expanded role carries risks. The authorized activities could strain relationships with friendly governments like Saudi Arabia or Yemen — which might allow the operations but be loath to acknowledge their cooperation — or incite the anger of hostile nations like Iran and Syria. Many in the military are also concerned that as American troops assume roles far from traditional combat, they would be at risk of being treated as spies if captured and denied the Geneva Convention protections afforded military detainees. . . .
The seven-page directive appears to authorize specific operations in Iran, most likely to gather intelligence about the country’s nuclear program or identify dissident groups that might be useful for a future military offensive. The Obama administration insists that for the moment, it is committed to penalizing Iran for its nuclear activities only with diplomatic and economic sanctions. Nevertheless, the Pentagon has to draw up detailed war plans to be prepared in advance, in the event that President Obama ever authorizes a strike.I imagine that the Iranians now have even less excuse to be caught flat-footed themselves.
“The Defense Department can’t be caught flat-footed,” said one Pentagon official with knowledge of General Petraeus’s order.