Maybe the only thing that can save us from the Bushies expanding the war into Iran is their sheer incompetence.
Yesterday morning, the LA Times breaks the pathetic news that: "The Bush administration has postponed plans to offer public details of its charges of Iranian meddling inside Iraq amid internal divisions over the strength of the evidence".
Remember, this disputed evidence is supposed to back up charges already made by Bush himself.
Later yesterday, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns goes on CNN and continues making said charges.
Wolf Blitzer fails to mention the LA Times piece, only asking the hard-hitting question: "The State Department, I take it, is putting together a dossier, a full report that will be declassified and made public going through your arguments, your evidence? Is that right?"
But CNN's softball treatment doesn't save the White House. Today's NY Times raises the profile on what the LA Times first reported, and further exposes the amateur effort to set up Iran:
President Bush's national security advisers have ordered a delay in publication of evidence intended to support Washington's contention that Iran supplies lethal technology and other aid to militias in Iraq, senior administration officials said Thursday.
The decision was described by officials who were struggling to explain why American officials in Baghdad have twice canceled plans to present the evidence, delays that have raised questions about the quality of the intelligence.
The whole ridiculous episode is a worse kickoff to the regime change campaign than Joe Biden's comments about Barack Obama were to his presidential campaign.
Perhaps there is no need to rebut every misleading statement from the Bushies, because their credibility is so spent.
But it's worth noting that Burns' response to Blitzer's softball was trademark misinformation:
...obviously, we have been making the case for the last several weeks and will continue to make the case to the American people and to the international public that this is a problem. There really is no doubt about it.
You saw an interview, an extraordinary interview, when the ambassador of Iran in Iraq admitted that there are Iranian security operatives on the soil.
Now, here's difference between the U.S. and Iran, Wolf. The United States military forces are there under U.N. authorization. Iran has no right and no authorization to have its military operatives or its intelligence on the soil of Iraq.
The interview Burns is referring to was in Monday's NY Times.
Here's the "extraordinary" admission:
[Ambassador] Qumi also acknowledged, for the first time, that two Iranians seized and later released by American forces last month were security officials, as the United States had claimed. But he said that they were engaged in legitimate discussions with the Iraqi government and should not have been detained.
Two weeks earlier, Laura Rozen already reported the same in the National Journal, sourced to US officials:
Some [US] officials reportedly have doubts about the precise nature of the evidence indicating Iranian involvement in Iraq.
For instance, after a highly publicized U.S. military raid on December 21 at the compound of Iraqi Shiite leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, U.S. forces detained several Iranians who were meeting there. All of them were ultimately released and were returned to Iran, partly at the behest of the Iraqi government, which said it had invited the Iranians.
So what Burns claimed was an "extraordinary admission" was something we already knew.
And the only thing extraordinary about it was our own detention of guests of an ally of ours in a supposedly sovereign government.
With all that in mind, note what Greg Djerejian argued recently:
Also important to note, and we've been doing it somewhat ham-handedly and clumsily, we appear to be falling into the trap of playing the regional game Iranian style (they arm Hezbollah, we get money that will go to the Lebanese military via Siniora, they get some cash to Hamas, we gets funds to Fatah (again, some will go to Abbas' security forces).
Can this various tit-for-tat ratcheting up of arming proxies really play to our long-term advantage, in the absence of diplomatic efforts at conflict resolution (won't many of the groups we support end up looking like U.S. puppets to too many, absent broader progress at resolving issues of region-wide consequence like the Arab-Israeli conflict?) ...