Bush administration officials acknowledged Friday that they had yet to compile evidence strong enough to back up publicly their claims that Iran is fomenting violence against U.S. troops in Iraq.
Administration officials have long complained that Iran was supplying Shiite Muslim militants with lethal explosives and other materiel used to kill U.S. military personnel. But despite several pledges to make the evidence public, the administration has twice postponed the release — most recently, a briefing by military officials scheduled for last Tuesday in Baghdad.
"The truth is, quite frankly, we thought the briefing overstated, and we sent it back to get it narrowed and focused on the facts," national security advisor Stephen J. Hadley said Friday.
The bad news? That for some reason, after at least two and possibly three years in which everyone and their brother has complained about Iranian meddling in Iraq, we can't seem to cobble together enough hard evidence to prove that. That makes no sense to me except to say we've not committed and focused the intelligence assets necessary on Iran meddling as we should have. If so, another in a long line of mismanaged intelligence efforts/priorities.
The good news? If there is any it is found in the emphasized line. Good for Hadley. That's how it should be and it points to the fact that the administration, finally, has learned its lesson about presenting a case to an increasingly skeptical country. When contemplating any type of action toward another country, we should be given solid factual evidence to make the case. While we may disagree on the analysis of those facts, the facts themselves should be compelling enough that we don't disagree on them.
So I look forward to the eventual release of this fact based briefing that may implicate Iran in fomenting violence against US troops in Iraq. If, and only if, the administration produces such data should any action be contemplated and discussed in earnest. I, personally, have little doubt about Iran's participation in fomenting violence, but "little doubt" isn't a good enough criteria for possibly waging some sort of military action against another state.
Said Robert Gates:
"I and Secretary Rice and the national security advisor want to make sure that the briefing that is provided is absolutely accurate and is dominated by facts — serial numbers, technology and so on," Gates told reporters at the Pentagon.
The problems are complex. First, they want to make their best case, instead of dribs and drabs. They want an overwhelming overall effect. Second, how do they mollify the Sunnis if they do make a good case? What if they have something that is so strong that the Sunnis say; ’See, we told the the Shias want an Iraq dominated by the Persians.’ Third, I would assume a lot of this intell is classified. So do they declassify it to make their case? What sorts of capabilities do we lose if they declassify stuff? Fourth, what affect will it have on the Iraqi government? Does it show the government is dirty? Does it weaken the government, especially in regards to the Sunni reaction? What affect does it have on the Iraqi security forces?
Very complex issue but I agree that it is long overdue.
Why should Bush bother to make the case against Iran? Reid, Kennedy et al have already said that Bush must not make any moves against Iran. And I’m sure Shrillary will demand that Bush not start anything that can’t be stopped come inaguration day. And lets be honest here, these same Senators have been noting that Iran is our big problem, but the second Bush tries to make a case, they’ll do just what they did with their Iraq stance, down the memory hole, or claim eeeeeevil Bush misled them.
So why bother at all? Let Iran do something that can’t be ignored, there’s your case right there. And maybe I’ll support our going after them (though probably not if a Dem is in the White House. I will probably never again support any Dem administration that wants to use force)