Thursday, February 15, 2007

Disturbing Bush news conference

It is entirely possible that President Bush's comments at yesterday's news conference were alarming to almost everyone across the political spectrum. They should be. His assertions about the Iranian government's role in supplying lethal weapons to the Shiite militias in Iraq for use against U.S. forces were too extreme to be credible. The news reports don't need to editorialize to tell the story. The NYT reports that "Mr.Bush dismissed as 'preposterous' the contention by some skeptics that the United States was drawing unwarranted conclusions about Iran's role". Among those preposterous thinkers yesterday were General Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Major General William Caldwell, the chief American military spokesman in Baghdad, who both said that there was no proof of a linkage to the Iranian government or its top leaders. Caldwell did explain that information about the weapons and the link to the Iranian Qud force was based on information obtained from people, including Iranians, that had been detained in Iraq for the past 60 days(is this a reliable source of information given the conditions we have seen in Iraqi prisons and U.S. detention centers and the "interrogation" techniques supported by Cheney/Rumsfeld and of course Bush).

When the linkage to the Iranian government was questioned Bush responded, "What's worse, them ordering it and it happening or them not ordering it and it happening. That's my point." There's in fact a big difference and Bush's childlike simplification is stunning.

It is of course entirely possible that some weapons used against American forces in Iraq by Al Qaeda, Shiite militias, Sunni militias, and anarchist bandits have some Iranian origin just as it is likely that there are weapons that have come from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, Pakistan or other countries with arms producing and trading capabilities and in some cases groups within that are allied with the insurgents. But Bush's direction is disturbingly transparent in his answer to a question about meeting with Iran's leaders at some level in his administration. The NYT quotes him as saying, "This is a world in which people say 'Meet, Sit down and meet! And my answer is, if it yields results, that's what I'm interested in." Does this statement have any meaning at all.

When the President insults his top commanders' word and they stand up to him, does he just dismiss his heretofore vaunted "field generals" or is impeachment now an open question.

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