Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Gen. Pace Denies Key Claim...Again

Way to go, General. If he does it a third time, will the neocons and hawk(ish) Dems take it seriously? (Edit - Dave, I apologize for the DINO appelation. OK? - C)

JAKARTA, Indonesia - A top U.S. general said Tuesday there was no evidence the Iranian government was supplying Iraqi insurgents with highly lethal roadside bombs, apparently contradicting claims by other U.S. military and administration officials.

Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. forces hunting down militant networks that produced roadside bombs had arrested Iranians and that some of the material used in the devices were made in Iran.

“That does not translate that the Iranian government per se, for sure, is directly involved in doing this,” Pace told reporters in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. “What it does say is that things made in Iran are being used in Iraq to kill coalition soldiers.”
Which is exactly what he told reporters in Australia yesterday and is exactly NOT what the White House want him to say. The AP story notes:
His remarks might raise questions on the credibility of the claims of high-level Iranian involvement, especially following the faulty U.S. intelligence that was used to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Really?

This, on the back of Pace's other comments today about China, is a real slap in the face for the neocons in the administration, and it feels oddly familiar. Remember Seymour Hersh writing about the revolt of Pentagon generals over White House plans for Iran, back in July of last year?
Inside the Pentagon, senior commanders have increasingly challenged the President’s plans, according to active-duty and retired officers and officials. The generals and admirals have told the Administration that the bombing campaign will probably not succeed in destroying Iran’s nuclear program. They have also warned that an attack could lead to serious economic, political, and military consequences for the United States.

A crucial issue in the military’s dissent, the officers said, is the fact that American and European intelligence agencies have not found specific evidence of clandestine activities or hidden facilities; the war planners are not sure what to hit. “The target array in Iran is huge, but it’s amorphous,” a high-ranking general told me. “The question we face is, When does innocent infrastructure evolve into something nefarious?” The high-ranking general added that the military’s experience in Iraq, where intelligence on weapons of mass destruction was deeply flawed, has affected its approach to Iran. “We built this big monster with Iraq, and there was nothing there. This is son of Iraq,” he said.
I find myself wondering if General Pace was one of Hersh's sources.

Update White House Press Spokesman Tony Snow can't be too happy with the General. It has definitely put him, squirming and spinning, on the spot. Laura Rozen has a rough transcript and TPM Muckraker has the video. To sum up, Tony is trying to say it is all a semantic difference, and Pace is actually singing from the same page as the White House, or at least will be by the time he gets back to Washington. Which is exactly the line the well-oiled GOP noise machine has been trying to push since Pace opened his mouth the first time.

Spencer Ackerman notes:
Snow, faced with a direct question about what the administration is in fact alleging about Iran, whiffed badly. He said that the "central fact" was that the explosives were Iranian-made, even though what matters is why those weapons are in Iraq, and who's using them.

Everything else is a "process argument," he said:

"It's now being developed into a process argument that overlooks the key fact: weaponry made its way from Iran to Iraq and it's killing Americans."
Wow: a failure of bamboozlement. Unless the administration gets specific about what it's in fact saying, expect a lot more "process arguments" in the future.
Laura, in her rush notes, has this bit of Snow job:
EFPs in fact are directly associated with Quds forces which are part of IRGC which are part of the Iranian government.

Quds force official part of Iranian government. Bears official responsibility and accountability as would expect of any sovereign government.

Let me pose you with two possibilities. That Quds forces part of IRGC are associated with this.

Let me ask a second question to you. I don't know what's more frightening. That Quds force is under Iranian government control or isn't.
Which brings me back to my post from earlier today.

Every intelligence assessment says Pakistan's ISI is aiding both the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, is supporting terrorist groups in India, and may even be hiding both Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar. Could the ISI be acting as a rogue agency within the Pakistani government? Logic says it could - at least as much as the Quods arm of the Iranian revolutionary guards could be acting outwith Iranian government sanction in Iran, anyway. However, both are official parts of their governments and, according to Snow, those governments bear "official responsibility and accountability as would expect of any sovereign government."

But Pakistan gets billions in military aid and political support while Iran gets threats. Why the double standard?

Could someone please ask at the next White House press conference?

Update: Ron at MEJ has another take on why Pace and others at the Pentagon might be in general revolt.
General Pace...is a life long Marine and is always thinking of the troops. He is also smart enough to know that any attack on Iran will make the Iraqi meat grinder even more vicious. Much of the Iraqi Security Forces is made up of Shi'a, many of them probably militia members or supporters. If Bush attacks Iran how many of them will turn on the Americans? Probably many if not most. General Pace and others in the Pentagon are in a position to know this. Making an attempt to avoid an attack on Iran qualifies as supporting the troops.
It crossed my mind earlier today that the Bushevik neocons, many having body-swerved real service themselves, might well have bought into the old myth that ALL Marines were dumb and thought Pace would be a safe and easily-handled appointment. Boy, they got a shock.

Update: Via Think Progress. Today on CNN, CentCom Commander William Fallon, the top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, was asked about the administration’s claim. Fallon said, “I have no idea who may be actually with hands-on in this stuff.”