U.S. President George W. Bush has secretly authorized the CIA to mount a covert operation to destabilize the Iranian government, ABCNews.com reported on Wednesday.
Quoting current and former U.S. officials in the intelligence community, the report said Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan, which includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.
In public, administration officials declined to comment on the issue.
National Security Council Spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, "The White House does not comment on intelligence matters."
A CIA spokesperson said, "As a matter of course, we do not comment on allegations of covert activity."
However, officials privately told ABCNews.com that the CIA developed the covert plan over the last year and received approval from the White House officials and other officials in the intelligence community.
The covert plan is designed to pressure Iran to stop its nuclear enrichment program and put an end to the aid it is providing to insurgents in Iraq.
At the same time, current and former intelligence officials said that the approval of the covert action also means the Bush administration, for the time being, has decided not to pursue a military option against Iran.