At least one former White House official contends that some Bush advisers secretly want an excuse to attack Iran. "They intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for," says Hillary Mann, the administration's former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs. U.S. officials insist they have no intention of provoking or otherwise starting a war with Iran, and they were also quick to deny any link to Sharafi's kidnapping. But the fact remains that the longstanding war of words between Washington and Tehran is edging toward something more dangerous. A second Navy carrier group is steaming toward the Persian Gulf, and NEWSWEEK has learned that a third carrier will likely follow.
The Ronald Reagan did leave San Diego on a short notice deployment on 27 Jan., supposedly for the Western Pacific. They may either be covering for the John C. Stennis -- which is the second carrier group destined for the Persian Gulf region (joining the Eisenhower) -- or may be the rumored third carrier group.
But I think the third carrier group story is a psy-op.