Monday, February 12, 2007

Gen. Pace Refuses To Back Claims On Iran

Here's a bit of a shocker, courtesy of VOA News. All bold emphasis is mine.

The top American military officer, General Peter Pace, declined Monday to endorse the conclusions of U.S. military officers in Baghdad, who told reporters on Sunday that the Iranian government is providing high-powered roadside bombs to insurgents in Iraq. General Pace made his comments during a visit to Australia, and VOA's Al Pessin reports from Canberra.

General Pace said he was not aware of the Baghdad briefing, and that he could not, from his own knowledge, repeat the assertion made there that the elite Quds brigade of Iran's Republican Guard force is providing bomb-making kits to Iraqi Shiite insurgents.

"We know that the explosively formed projectiles are manufactured in Iran. What I would not say is that the Iranian government, per se (specifically), knows about this," he said. "It is clear that Iranians are involved, and it's clear that materials from Iran are involved, but I would not say by what I know that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit."
That the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs seems to not only have been "unaware" of the briefing yesterday and its contents but also feels himself unable to back its conclusions is, frankly, mind-boggling.

And now some more quick hits for those keeping abreast of this story.

  • TPM Muckraker has the powerpoint presentation given at the briefing One commenter at TPM notes "Slide 11 shows weapons produced in Sept 2006 that were found by US on Sept. 9, 2006." Over at The Agonist, Sean Paul also has the powerpoint and notes that "This powerpoint presentation makes Colin Powell's testimony at the UN in 2003 look almost real", and has the powerpoint as a PDF if you prefer it that way.

  • The CIA is being more cautious than the administration (again) and are "questioning whether their export from Iran represents a strategy of the regime or the rogue actions of one of its security services, known as the Quds Force." Because, you know, the region has no history of sub-national factions lining their own pockets at their government's expense... The Corner is unhappy that the CIA aren't as on message as Douglas Fieth used to be.

  • Patrick Cockburn at the UK's Independent newspaper has a few observations about the Bush administration's claims that are spot on the mark, including this:
    The US stance on the military capabilities of Iraqis today is the exact opposite of its position in four years ago. Then President Bush and Tony Blair claimed that Iraqis were technically advanced enough to produce long-range missiles and to be close to producing a nuclear device. Washington is now saying that Iraqis are too backward to produce an effective roadside bomb and must seek Iranian help.
  • Iran has denied the American claims, of course. Which doesn't prove their innocence any more than the U.S. briefing yesterday proved their guilt.

  • Here in the US, Democrat leaders seem to have been distinctly underwhelmed by the reports of the briefing. "I look at this with a degree of skepticism, based on the record that these intelligence operations have provided us in the past," said Christopher Dodd, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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