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More blogging from the White House: Bush & Negroponte vs. Pace & Rumsfeld on the ‘Iranian IEDs’

Today I finally got another chance to get Scott McClellan riled up. Ever since the last time I did it, back in January, he’s been lucky enough or tricky enough to avoid having to call on me, but today, the briefing room wasn’t quite as crowded as it has been, and I got my chance to ask a question that has been puzzling me ever since the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, testified to the Senate on February 2 that:

“Tehran has been responsible for at least some of the increasing lethality of anti-coalition attacks by providing Shia militia with the capability to build improvised explosive devices with explosively formed projectiles similar to those developed by Iran and Lebanese Hizballah.”


Among the many reasons (detailed by Weldon in his article that I linked to above) that Negroponte’s statement was odd are the following: 1) Iran-connected Shiites now dominate the U.S.-backed government in Iraq, 2) IED attacks have been coming primarily from the Sunni insurgency, and 3) Iran would have nothing to gain from helping its U.S.-supported allies in Iraq attack coalition forces with IEDs.

Then last Monday, President Bush repeated Negroponte’s claim in a speech that appeared to be the opening round in a new “drumbeat to war” against Iran. But the administration is perhaps getting sloppier, for the next day it appeared that not everyone was on the same page. When Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace was asked about the claim with these words, “Do you have proof that they are, indeed, behind this, the government of Iran?”, Gen. Pace replied, “I do not, sir.” Immediately afterward, Secretary Rumsfeld also failed to endorse the accusation, saying:

As to equipment, unless you physically see it coming in — in a government-sponsored vehicle, or with government-sponsored troops, you can’t know it. All you know is that you find equipment — weapons, explosives, whatever — in a country that came from the neighboring country. With respect to people, it’s very difficult to tie a thread precisely to the government of Iran.”

So today I asked Scott if he could clear up this slight inconsistency. Our exchange follows:

Q In his speech on Monday, the President claimed that the Iranian government shares a responsibility for anti-coalition attacks in Iraq because, the President said, Tehran is providing the capability for building IEDs used in those attacks. On Tuesday, however, General Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he had no evidence of Iranian government involvement in such activities. And Defense Secretary Rumsfeld also declined to stand by the claim. I have two questions. First, isn’t it true that the vast majority of attacks on coalition forces are by Sunni —

MR. McCLELLAN: Can I stop you, first of all? I don’t think that’s what Secretary Rumsfeld did, the way you described it. You said he failed to stand by that. I don’t think that’s the case. In fact, he talked about it at fairly more length than what you just described.

Q He said that it’s impossible to tell where material — who is really responsible.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think he pointed out that it’s material coming from — or components coming from Iran.

Q But he said it’s impossible to tell who’s responsible.

MR. McCLELLAN: He talked about individuals that are part of Iranian forces that are operating inside — talked about the example —

Q He said he could not blame the Iranian government on these components coming in.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let’s make sure what you’re saying.

Q Okay. So, first, isn’t it true that the vast majority of attacks on coalition forces are by Sunni insurgents who have no connection to Shiite Iran? And two, will the President retract his claim that apparently was not based on accurate intelligence?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, that’s false. That’s just — I don’t accept the premise of your question. You’re absolutely describing it in a false way. Let’s look back at what the President said. The President said that some of the most powerful IEDs — improvised explosive devices — we’re seeing in Iraq include components from Iran. I don’t think there’s any conflict with what Secretary Rumsfeld or General Pace said at their press briefing the next day. So you’re providing a false premise in your question.

And the President also specifically cited what our Director of National Intelligence said in testimony before Congress back in early February. And so you should go and look at that testimony and look at what he said. But he also talked about how coalition forces have seized IEDs and components that were clearly produced in Iran. We know that from our intelligence.

Q The President quoted Negroponte as saying that Tehran had provided the capability for building those IEDs.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t see any conflict with what Secretary Rumsfeld and General Pace said.

No conflict between “Tehran has been responsible” on the one hand and “I have no proof” on the other? Oh, right. These are the guys who think they can create their own reality.

17 comments to More blogging from the White House: Bush & Negroponte vs. Pace & Rumsfeld on the ‘Iranian IEDs’

  • This entire Iran thing should be called what it is — and excuse. [I'd say more, but I'm limiting myself to a single sentence.]

  • Bob Who

    Hey Jeff Gannon when are you gonna ease up on ole Scotty !!!!

  • Here is a technnically we can throw back at them: “improvised explosive devices — we’re seeing in Iraq include components from Iran.”

    “Well gee Scott, IEDs also include cell phones with components from Finland. Does that mean that Finland shares responsiblity for the attacks?” Could you be specific?

    (photo of Nokia phone used in IED)
    http://crypto.nsa.org/f-21/01-call-missed.jpg

  • Ryan

    The bottom line here (which I wish Dems would say more loudly and frankly) is that Iran and the U.S. are ON THE SAME SIDE in the Iraqi civil conflict.

  • you should also ask Scottie if the 345 tons of RDX that we failed to secure and went missing is what’s being used as the explosive component in those IED’s and if we are then responsible for blowing ourselves up.

  • Dr.Tettrazini

    This reminds me of the weapons including Stinger AA Missles that
    were handed out to the Mujadeen to kill USSR troops in the 80’s.
    It would seem that the individual most responsible for the IEDs is
    Paul Bremmer. He is after all the man that disbanded the Iraqi Army
    and was responsible for security of all military equipment in country.
    The looting of supplies and arms from formerly Iraqi bases happened
    on Bremmers watch. Rumsfields lack of intelligence and stupid
    reactions to the looting match Bremmers idiotic policies. The troops
    are still suffering from these moronic fools. Throw in Douglas Feith
    for good measure and any other neoconman.

  • The Oracle

    1) As far as disbanding the Iraqi army, Bremer was only following orders from Cheney, Rumsfeld, and probably Wolfowitz (oh, and Ahmed Chalabi). Now, the person I’d love to see interviewed would be Gen. Garner, the first head of the CPA in Baghdad, who was fired and replaced by Bremer. Gen. Garner was probably like Gen. Wallace (i.e. sane, compared to the neo-con war “strategerists” in the White House), so he was fired. Bremer was just a neo-con lap-monkey.

    2) It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the Iranian leaders tight with Hezbollah, and concerned about the U.S. attacking their nuclear facilities, would do what they could (behind the scenes, of course) to try to keep U.S. forces preoccupied in Iraq. Which is why when I first heard about the Golden Dome mosque being destroyed, I suspected the Iranian Hezbollah as being responsible. In other words, a civil war inside Iraq would definitely keep U.S. forces pinned down inside Iraq for the foreseeable future. And per overseas news reports, the mosque bombers first tied up the Shiite guards (who survived) before blowing the place up. Strange. And reportedly, Iraqi Interior Ministry forces sealed off the mosque area “before” the bombing. If these events did happen as claimed, then the Interior Ministry is just a front for the Iranian Hezbollah, and is doing what it can to foster civil war (secret prisons, revenge killings, torture of any Sunnis). (BTW, last week either Cheney or Rumsfeld stated that the explosives used in the mosque bombing were from Iran). Who knows what one can believe where Iraq is concerned?

  • If only there was someone there to ask these questions the first time (2003).

  • Mr.Murder

    Iran was the HQ of IBM’s asian multinational during the Iran hostage crisis and they had nary a stone thrown their way.

    In fact it was around the corner from the embassy, a stone’s throw away as it were…

    Their country had a moderate leading in polls until Bush spoke and inflamed the tense media to incite a response he needed…

    Anyways there remains an item of importance to ask at any press conference regarding Dubai and UAE ports deals:

    Oil for Food

    How much business by proxie did we steer their way in oil for food, how many narrow sanctions forced business by proxie there?

    The UAE was being staged to set up the links for the economic infrastructure in Iraq well before the war there. All the better as former CIA Larry Johnson noted the place is a nexus of laundered money and smuggling.

    Oh, you could perhaps if anyone in the White House knows of dealings with ARAMCO, and specifically its first ever PR director, American Michael Sheldon Cheney…

    Gaggle on!

  • Does that mean that Finland shares responsiblity for the attacks?

    Why does Finland hate America?

  • Joe

    Good stuff. There is a clear misrepresentation of the facts by Bush. Components may be made in Iran, but that does not mean the Iranian government is behind it. That is a big leap to believe that the whole government would provide IEDs to Iraqi insurgents. Pace and Rumsfeld appeared to have answered honestly. Bush? Not so much.

  • Tom3

    If you’re not with the President, you’re with those dirty reindeer-milking Finns!

  • WILL86

    I am just continually amazed at the fact that Americans Are being lied to, and where taking it.
    When are we, as a country of concerned citizens, going to protest this nonsense?

  • MrN

    Why does Finland hate America?

    Why, for our freedoms of course…

  • Arliss

    Can Bush launch an attack against Iran without any approval from congress? Just by using the “War on Terror” as a blanket approval for any country he wants to attack?
    Even though he was only authorized to use force against Iraq?

  • hem

    “Why does Finland hate America?

    Why, for our freedoms of course …”

    Gosh, I always thought they were saying

    .. because of our love of freon

    my car AC never kept its freon

    now it is a slave to heat, its occupants mere prisoners to freon-hating Finns who make phones that won’t plug the freon gap in the world (or my car), no matter how many numbers you dial

    the Finns never cared for freon – it’s always flippin’ cold there anyway …

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