Bush administration delays rollout of intel showing Iran's help to Iraqi militias
After the damage to its reputation caused by using faulty intelligence to justify the invasion in Iraq, the Bush administration has been more cautious about publicly presenting evidence of Iran's assistance to Iraqi militias, according to a report in the National Journal today.
Reporter and blogger Laura Rozen reports that twice in the past month, the Bush administration has delayed presentation of PowerPoint slides making the case that Iran is assisting Shi'a militias in Iraq's simmering sectarian conflict. While US officials in Baghdad are ready to present the slides, the White House is wary that "the press will scrutinize the information intensely, that the intelligence 'dots' that the administration has assembled about Iran in Iraq can be connected multiple ways."
Rozen explains that while the White House sees "damning" evidence of Iran's engagement with the Shi'a side of Iraq's hostilities, "the intelligence community is quietly indicating that the case purporting to prove Iran's involvement in Iraq is murkier and less decisive than the thrust of recent administration statements suggests."
The National Journal also indicates that there is more oversight coming on the part of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence with regard to the intelligence community's Iran analysis. But an anonymous administration official still insisted to Rozen that the White House has good evidence of its claims about Iran's activities in Iraq.
"The physical evidence we have -- weapons, ammunition, explosives -- have packaging material. When you look at it, it will be obvious ... that the stuff came from Iran," he tells her.
However, Rozen adds, "But that evidence, the official conceded, doesn't tell exactly why it was sent, or who sent it." The administration is therefore likely to try to prove that the materiel is the same as what has been used by Iran-supplied Hezbollah in Lebanon.
But it may not matter according to one former intelligence officer that Rozen quotes.
"None of this hinges [on the Iran dossier]. We are not going to call this off if we can't prove that Iran is furnishing munitions to Iraqi groups," he says.
The full article is accessible only to National Journal subscribers at their website. Laura Rozen has posted a short excerpt at her blog War and Piece.