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February 09, 2007

Gates on Iran's role in Iraq

Bush's national security advisors have been promising to reveal evidence of Iran "meddling" in Iraq for a long time. As of February 1st, the great PowerPoint revelation had already been postponed twice due to quality control concerns. And, as far as I know, we're still waiting for that bit of show and tell.

According to the latest dispatch from the AP, Sec Def Gates is telling reporters that Iran probably has something to do with some IEDs in Iraq (he thinks):

SEVILLE, Spain (AP) -- Serial numbers and markings on explosives used in Iraq provide "pretty good" evidence that Iran is providing either weapons or technology for militants there, Defense Secretary Robert Gates asserted Friday.

Offering some of the first public details of evidence the military has collected, Gates said, "I think there's some serial numbers, there may be some markings on some of the projectile fragments that we found," that point to Iran. [...]

Gates, who is attending his first NATO defense ministers meeting, said Iran is "very much involved in providing either the technology or the weapons themselves for these explosively formed projectiles. Now they don't represent a big percentage of the IED attacks but they're extremely lethal." [AP]

Gates didn't actually produce the promised serial numbers, but he assured reporters that the U.S. has got is "pretty good evidence" that Iran or Iranians are somehow involved with a small percentage of IEDs in Iraq.

So why, as of this writing is CBS running the same AP story under the headline Gates: US Can Prove Iran's Iraq Role?

Picture_2_2

So's the Washington Post, as are scores of other news outlets.

The story doesn't quote Gates as saying he has proof, or that he can prove anything. He claims to have "pretty good evidence" that someone from Iran, not necessarily the Iranian government, has something to do with a small percentage of the IEDs in Iraq. Gates doesn't specify Iran's alleged role let alone assert proof of said role. He claims he has pretty good evidence of something or other.

Here are Gates' verbatim remarks from the Seville press conference, via defenselink:

Q: As a follow-up on that, I'm surprised to hear you say that some people were surprised -- (off mike) -- we've heard for months from Pentagon press officials that Iran is playing a very large role in what's going on in Iraq. And so do you -- (off mike) --

SEC. GATES: Well, I think that Iran is very much involved in providing either the technology or the weapons themselves for these explosively foreign projectiles. Now they don't represent a big percentage of the IED attacks, but they're extremely lethal, and I don't think there was surprise that the Iranians were involved. I think there was surprise we actually picked up some of them.

So I -- you know, I think that, as you've heard, people have been pretty well convinced for months that the Iranians were involved in providing assistance in Iraq to those who are coming after American troops. That's not new by any means, but I think that the fact that in a couple of these sweeps we picked them up at least surprised me.

And a little later...

Q: Sir, can I follow up on that a little bit, about [explosively formed penetrators]? You've mentioned that there is evidence tracing them to Iran. Could you be more specific about that, what particular evidence there is?

SEC. GATES: Well this is what -- the specifics on this is what MNFI is working on in terms of the briefing that I think they're going to present. In terms of the particular, it's the sophistication of the technology. I think that there are some serial numbers. There may be some markings on some of the projectile fragments that we found. I'm just frankly not specifically certain myself of the details, but I understand there is pretty good evidence tying these EFPs to the Iranians.

How do these statements become the headline: "Gates: US Can Prove Iran's Role in Iraq"?

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Comments

The guy is SecDef and he "thinks" there "may" be evidence?

This on the day when the Pentagon writes itself a "get out of jail free card" for past fixing of intelligence around the policy.

"Stay the course" isn't just a catch-phrase. It's the M.O. for a bunch of criminals and conmen who believe they are, and will remain, beyond the reach of justice.

Last week, I wrote Dubya a press statement. For me, it represents the minimum benchmark for anything credible in the way of evidence rather than narrative coming from the White House.

Regards, Cernig @ Newshog

How do these statements become the headline: "Gates: US Can Prove Iran's Role in Iraq"?

Because this is what passes for proof in the administration... compared to the Nigerian Yellowcake argument (Iraq trying to buy nuclear material from Africa) this is a friggin' open and shut case!

I wonder why the Defense and State Depts are not working on discovering the significant role of private Saudi donors in funding Sunni insurgents and Jihadist groups in Iraq?

The fallacy here is in not indicating the origins of all IEDs. For example, how many IED components come from France, Germany, Russia, USA? Should we consider invading these countries with a troup force proportional the frequency of serial numbers on IEDs in Iraq? Oh to live in a rational world!

Great article. I think that the distinction between Iranian supporters of the insurgency and the Iranian government is pretty astute. Even if some components are found to have come from Iran that doesn't mean that the Iranian government is funding the insurgency or supplying it with weapons.

I have to admit that I'm a little scared right now. The beating of Bushco's war drums keeps growing louder. I'm afraid that if we invade Iran then a "grand coalition" will form to fight us. How much naked aggression will the world stand for before they say, "We have GOT to stop those psychos in Washington"? The invasion of Poland was the final straw for Germany; will Iran be ours?

Gates' carefully phrased testimony about how some Iranians might be involved with the production of some IED gets turned by the press into "US CAN PROVE IRAN'S ROLE" because there are elements of the media establishment actively collaborating, even now, with the Bush administration's push for war. At least some of the owners of Big Media think that their bread is buttered on the side of the war-mongers.

"pretty good" evidence

At least he didn't call it a slam dunk!

Dear Mr. Gates,
Try again dipshit. We can google "explosively formed projectiles", "shaped charges", Munroe effect", etc., so we can get a pretty good idea of what "proof" would constitute. We're not as stupid as you think.
Your ever humble servant, cfrost.

Once again, let me go out on a limb and predict the outcome, just as we all did with Iraq (I wasn't posting here back when we invaded Iraq, but I predicted the outcome perfectly well, just as I bet you all did).

President* Bush stages a pretext for a confrontation with Iran.

America attacks Iran from the air. The President* holds a solemn press conference, stating that there was no other choice, and that he hopes that we can all unite in bipartisan support for our men and women in uniform. The Time for Debate will be declared to be past, though we had no such debate, and protests were held in abeyance until the actual attack. Protests ensue, and are more brutally put down than ever.

Congress voices concern, and doesn't stop doing so. Iran responds with missile attacks on our ships in the Gulf, some of which attacks are surprisingly successful. They also unleash a rash of terrorist attacks on American businesses and embassies in Africa and the Middle East. The EU, which has declined to support stronger sanctions against Iran, and which will protest the war, is left relatively unharmed.

Iran is conscious not only of our internal political divisions, but that we have nowhere near the manpower to defend against a few hundred thousand Iranian soldiers. Iran invades eastern Iraq. Shi'ite Iraqis flock to them by the hundreds of thousands, figuring that they offer the best option for a government friendly to their interests. If we're lucky, Iran stops there.

Iran also foments problems among the Palestinians and the Lebanese, in anticipation of the Israeli response, which is not long in coming. Turkey must be restrained, by a USA whose stock has fallen below nil, from reacting in alarm both to the independent Kurdistan that might form in northern Iraq, and to a Shi'ite Iran with a larger diplomatic and military footprint than almost any other nation in the immediate vicinity.

The USA, its 150,000 troops, unprepared as they were for an Iranian invasion, and unsure how to greet it considering that they have no ability to occupy Iran (as they can't possibly occupy Iraq successfully now, as we rightly predicted a few years ago), and reeling from an Iranian invasion which should have been expected by many but was completely unprepared for by a disengaged US government, is forced to withdraw in a panic.

The right-wing rave-o-sphere, unblinkingly oblivious to the fact that we were entirely correct about Iraq, or unable to admit the fact because their egos are far too invested in sneering down the people on the left whom they treated with such contempt even when they were making those correct predictions in the first place, continues to loudly bray "treason!!!" The left replies that destroying the country in this fashion was treason. Left politicians, of course, prove utterly bewildered, and having lived their political lives with their fingers to the wind, are too busy looking at one another for guidance that they can't do anything. Speaker Nancy Pelosi begins to wish that she hadn't fired Representative Jane Harman from the House Intelligence Committee, though Harman had impeded Pelosi's progress to begin with.

Newspapers all over the world print two-inch headlines about the war, and one-and-a-half inch headlines about our government and country's meltdown.

Any Bets???

But that's all a tangent. How the newspapers can give the benefit of the doubt to this stuff is this: they have no intelligence themselves. They're taking people's word for things, just as our government is. Some of those people are Israeli intelligence, which has been very very good, but with regard to Iran, is jumping at shadows (though Iran, of course, is a very real threat to Israel and will become more so), and is sounding alarms in our ears, some of which are unfounded. Our government doesn't have enough intelligence in the region, and our newspapers have none. That's how a headline like this happens.

I certainly consider myself a left leaning liberal in good standing, but the big difference that persons need to consider is the huge difference between rational regimes like even Communist China or Vietnam that make decent efforts to have good relations with the other 189 nations of the world including the U.S., and good trade and a decent productive economy, and a nation like Iran with an outrageous religious fundamentalist government led by a "endtimer" religious wacko like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who only believes he can achieve his Islamic extremist dreams of paradise by killing himself and as many "unbelievers" as possible. With this "suicide bomber" personality president, Iran itself has decided to make itself an international question mark and it's own worst enemy where even Communist China wants trade with this nation, but hardly trusts it's nuclear intentions any more than that of North Korea's. China supports IAEA actions to control the Iranian nuclear program like all UN SECURITY COUNCIL members including Russia and the U.S. do.

What's good about Iran? The lack of personal freedom? Women subjugated to a second class role? The wacky religious fundamentalism? The steady stream of official government lies that makes even George Bush look like a "Honest Abe" by comparison? It's up to Iran when they want to improve relations with the rest of the responsible world community.

I don't like Mr. Bush, but like all the more responsible members of the world community, the U.S. has little real choice but to put some pressure on Iran until they decide to act like a grown up and mature nation like China and Vietnam have long since learned. Iran would then earn some international respect. But they sure don't deserve it now. Their 1979 nonsense of holding American embassy staff and tourists hostage for 444 days is typical of this terrible regime. One top Iranian cleric threatened worldwide terrorism just this Thursday as yet another childish example of this regime.

I seriously doubt the U.S. wants war with Iran, that would be counterproductive to bringing real democracy to that nation. But there needs to be enough international pressure to force Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from power in Iran. Their history of international nonsense since their 1979 Islamic revolution needs to stop. To what extent that Iran is meddling in Iraq is up to debate. Probably far more insurgent arms were from the massive ammo dumps of Saddam Hussein's Iraq that we failed to secure in the first days of the silly 2003 war. But Iran still needs to straighten up and act like a normal member of the world community, regardless. There's just no defense or justification for the ongoing behavior of this rotten Iranian regime.

>What's good about Iran? The lack of personal freedom? Women subjugated to a second class role?

Actually, women drive in Iran, and have other personal freedoms that our ally Saudi Arabia doesn't deign to grant them. But it makes no sense threatening a war that will become a tremendous disaster for the United States, since no-one in their right mind could think for one moment that we could occupy them, and a moment's reflection can show that attacking them but failing to occupy them would leave them exactly as well able to disrupt our presence as they are now. This, of course, will _Strengthen_ the Ahmedinejad that we want to rebuke. We do not want to do this. It's no fun, especially since we do want to rebuke Ahmedinejad, to admit that we don't really have dick to threaten him with (though our aerial bombardment of Iran would hurt, it wouldn't finish him at all). But if we want to be grown-ups ourselves, we'd better start acknowledging those truths no-one wants to tell us. Bush certainly won't.

Of _course_ the US doesn't want war with Iran. But what does our President* care about what we want?

"To what extent that Iran is meddling in Iraq is up to debate."

Compared to our minimal interest in the affairs of the innocent citizens of that far-away and dusty country.

Well, maybe ex-country is a better term for it now that we've been there for awhile.

1984, where has the U.S. ever threatened war with Iran? I've never heard it. On the other hand, Iran has publicly threatened to destroy Israel, held American tourists and embassy staff hostage, organized worldwide terrorist cells, publicly threatened terrorism against U.S. civilians, and has been firing off missiles and other weapons for the last couple of days, while the U.S. has never directly fired a single shot against Iran, except for paying the MEK for intelligence activity about the secret nuclear program in Iran only because Iran will not cooperate fully with the international community IAEA inspections like other normal world community members.

The U.S. stationing two aircraft carriers in the region along with putting antimissile missiles in a small nation like Kuwait are merely defensive, not offensive measures in response to this Iranian regime with a 1,000,000 man army and their continued bully and extortionist threats in the region.

Iran and North Korea are virtualy the same. Both fire off missiles and threaten war unless states like the U.S. pay them money. But paying hoodlums "protection money" has never proved wise; it only encourages more of their bully acts.

>1984, where has the U.S. ever threatened war with Iran? I've never heard it.

Wh-whaaa??? What did you think the constant talk, for the last two years or more, about "not taking any options off the table" with regard to Iran meant??

The http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,1724473,00.html>Guardian reported:

While the US and Britain keep a united front over Iraq in the UN security council, there are clear differences over Iran. Britain has ruled out a military option if diplomatic pressure fails. The US has not. There is no serious consideration of large-scale use of ground forces, but there are disagreements in the administration over whether air strikes and small-scale special forces operations could be effective in halting or slowing down Iran's alleged nuclear weapons programme.

"Protection money?" Can you give me an example of them asking for money? I'm not sure where you got that, unless you've read some news reports I haven't. Do you have an example of them asking for money? I never heard that they were doing these things for money.

I also think you're incorrect about the 1,000,000 man army, as the Economist reports that they have about 500,000 people in their armed forces. This does make them on a par with Turkey and most other Middle East nations, and they are a significant threat. But, again, since we have no capacity to occupy them, is it not extremely stupid to remain on a war footing with them?

Don't fool yourself, Paul. Mr Bush has made us look like buffoons in Iraq. He is now talking sternly with Iran. I hope that you're right, that they aren't intending to threaten war. If they do, and if I'm right, then he will achieve the exact opposite of what he wishes: it will strengthen Ahmedinejad, and make us seem without power entirely.

Where there is now a substantial number of Iranians who don't agree with Ahmedinejad and his bluster at all, if we insist on a military solution with Iran, and then lose (which we will), then Ahmedinejad will be strengthened, and we will have made those more moderate Iranians will look like fools, and marginalized them completely, against an Ahmedinejad who will now be on top of the world and look vindicated.

>I hope that you're right, that they aren't intending to threaten war.

"They", in that sentence, being the Bush administration.

1984, Iran hopes the world community will leave them alone to build nuclear arms if they just act hostile enough now. But with a few nuclear weapons what will they then ask the world community for? North Korea has a whole shopping list of concessions and cash requests from the U.S. because the Bush Administration did not honor the Clinton Administration's previous treaty with North Korea before they had maybe a dozen or so nuclear bombs, now they are asking for far more money and concessions from the U.S.

I've also done a detailed analysis of the 1,000,000 man Iranian army once before, including their reserve forces down to their every last cannon and major military piece on my website, www.progressivevalues.blogspot.com way back about two years ago based on some former KGB intelligence about Iran. I often use Communist or former Communist sources for much of the information on my website in order to give a different angle on the news compared to the U.S. mainstream media.

The U.S. certainly does not want to take on this size of an army in which a U.S. war would be counterproductive to the probable majority in Iran that opppose the current Iranian regime. The U.S. problems in Iraq also prove that the U.S. neither wants to challenge a real army or occupy this huge nation as well. "All options are on the table", are merely bluster from our side, that we likely are not seriously really considering unless Iran strikes out in some way in the MidEast, such as an attack on Israel.

1984, on May 11, 2005, my website, www.progressivevalues.com ran the detailed Iranian military equipment and manpower analysis based off former KGB information. But since this time, their forces have significantly increased their weapons. One typo of mine listed 2,000,000 rather than 200,000 Basee though.

Before major military buildups in Iran, the forces then stood at 400,000 Regular Infantry, 250,000 Conscripts, 100,000 Revolutionary Guard, 200,000 Basee, 20,000 Marines, 1,000 Special Forces and 350,000 Reserves.

All right. Well in either case, we make the same point, that they have a large armed forces, even considering that the eastern hemisphere has several other nations with over or near a million people at arms (to include India, China, North Korea, and Russia, and South Korea, Pakistan, Turkey, and Vietnam, if you include reservists). Much more important is the increasing sophistication of their weaponry, which I've said many times on this blog has been growing by leaps and bounds with the tutelage of Russian rocket scientists.

I hope you're right that our administration is only blustering. But of course, I can think of no better way to ensure that Iran _does_ strike out in just the way you mention, than to put more hardware and soldiers directly in its path, send carriers to its doorstep, and increase its tension with incidents like the proto-Iranian-consulate incident in Iraq last month. And if you wish to pressure Iran to stop their nuclear program (which I admit it would be nice to stop if we could) since our attempts to build international pressure against Iran are failing, what else do you really expect the US to do, especially this brilliant excuse for a deep thinker that holds the reins of power at the moment here? He certainly seems to be trying his best to stage a military showdown. If not, then since, in invading Iraq, Bush deprived our country of any means of persuasion in the region _other_ than military force, what do you think we really have planned?

Again, we're agreed that Iran is a significant threat, and that it's not in our best interests to attack them, but you think we're certain not to, unless they start it? I don't think so.

The soup that is this administrations approach to the Middle east now is so disjointed and crazy that it is beyond belief.
Our final attempts (the surge) in Iraq are really at the behest of Prince Bandar and the House of Saud to forestall full scale Saudi support of Sunni Muslims in Iraq. Without American troops the Shiite's would likely purge the Sunni's and the violence would be unrelenting both ways.(hard to imagine upping the ante from today's chaos, but it would happen) Likewise the Saudi's are scared to death of this Shiite dominance in Iraq and the influence of Iran, hence the sabre rattling they request by the US Navy in the Gulf. On the other hand, the USA overwhelmingly supports Israel and supposedly much of our Mideast policy is couched on defending Israel's security. Yet Saudi Arabia is no friend of Israel and both publicly and privately supports groups that vow the destruction of Israel. But the Bush administration says that Iran supports groups (and they do) , like Hezbollah that also vow the destruction of Israel. In Iran and Syria women have more rights than in Saudi Arabia, yet we consider Saudi Arabia our ally and decry the undemocratic state of Iran and Syria. The administration has provided the main stream media with its "demon du jour" in M. Al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army (now that Saddam and the Republican guard are gone) and we clearly are going about rooting out the Sadrist elements in Iraq. It is fairly clear we are doing this as we support Mr Al-Hakim of the SCIRI faction and his Badr Brigade (Mr Al Hakim famously met with the boyking at the White House ) in his power struggle for supremacy in Shiite Iraq with Al Sadr. Yet SCIRI is much more closely linked to Iran than Al-Sadr.(Sadr is no angel, but his group is much more Iraqi nationalist and less Iranian influenced that SCIRI). Finally per Mr Gates we are saying Iranian arms are coming in and being used to attack Americans. Yet about 98% of all attacks on Americans are in Sunni areas, the Sunni's are not at all in cahoots with Iran. (as other posters noted, could it simply be that Iraq is a very attractive market for weapons and in such a market weapons produced in Russia, China, Israel, The USA and Iran all are flowing into the country's very active black market ...CNN last night had a report of an anonymous black marketer that he could get a reporter 3 hand grenades in 2 hours for $20) .... I apologize, my post is as confusing as our policy. This war in Iraq is currently the biggest foreign policy blunder in the past 25 years, attacking Iran would be putting the entire mess on the level of the worst foreign policy blunder in almost 100 years, comparable to the possible consequences of World War I which continue to plague us around the world today.

Set Elizabeth Edwards on them.

The Neocons Were Played by Iran
There is ample evidence that Iran and the INC of Chalabi and Habib (they who brought us "Curveball", nuclear evidence , etc,) duped the US into attacking their enemy, Saddam's Iraq.
Feith, et al, were of course so smart, as they circumvented our intelligence community, that they accepted misinformation from Iran, transmitted top secret plus information to Iran and paid out tens of millions of dollars to the Iranian influenced INC as they were being played by Iran.
Under what I call "Rules of the Playground" it would serve Iran right if the egoistic fools they lured into Iraq now set their cannons on Iran.
The fact that this administration first decides what it wants to do and then sets out to collect only the data that supports that mission should scare the living crap out of Iran.

What's good about Iran?

Its population is so pro-democratic that the best communist analogy about it is to Poland in 1987. No other Middle Eastern country can make that claim, except Turkey and maybe Israel and Lebanon.

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