Bush says possible US Iran attack 'empty propaganda'
John Byrne and David Edwards
Published: Sunday October 7, 2007

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In an interview with the Arab language broadcasting network al-Arabiya Friday, U.S. President George Bush called reports of a planned attack on Iran "empty propaganda" and "baseless gossip."

The al-Arabiya questioned asks Bush about reports in the Arabic press which have alleged the United States has detailed plans to strike military sites in Iran.

"There are some leaking to the press and particularly the Arabic press," the questioner asks. "Is it true that you've issued orders Mr President to your senior generals in the American military to prepare for a major and precise strike that could happen in the middle of January or February."

"Empty propaganda," Bush replied. "Ah, evidently there is a lot of gossip in parts of the country... the world, that's trying to scare people about me personally, my country, and what we stand for. That kind of gossip is just what it is. It's gossip. It's, uh, baseless gossip."

According to a New Yorker story last week by veteran intelligence journalist Seymour Hersh, the Bush Administration is all but set to authorize a campaign of limited, surgical airstrikes against Iranian targets. In his piece, Hersh writes, "During a secure videoconference that took place early this summer, the President told Ryan Crocker, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, that he was thinking of hitting Iranian targets across the border and that the British 'were on board'... Bush ended by instructing Crocker to tell Iran to stop interfering in Iraq or it would face American retribution."

The sites in Iran being targeted, however, reflect the change in the White House's selling of armed conflict with Iran.

"Instead of... hitting the various [nuclear] facilities we know that exist, instead they're going to hit the Iranians as payback for hitting us [in Iraq]," Hersh told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in a recent interview.

Such targets, Hersh says, would include Iran's Revolutionary Guard headquarters and other sites of Iran's alleged support for the insurgency in Iraq.

Also Friday, Bush told reporters, "This government does not torture people."

The following video is from CNN's Situation Room, broadcast on October 5, 2007.