The Continuing Saga of Bush/Cheney Lies in the March to War
U.S. can't prove Iran link to Iraq strife (LA Times):
Bush administration officials acknowledged Friday that they had yet to compile evidence strong enough to back up publicly their claims that Iran is fomenting violence against U.S. troops in Iraq.
Administration officials have long complained that Iran was supplying Shiite Muslim militants with lethal explosives and other materiel used to kill U.S. military personnel. But despite several pledges to make the evidence public, the administration has twice postponed the release — most recently, a briefing by military officials scheduled for last Tuesday in Baghdad.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates seemed to concede Friday that U.S. officials can't say for sure whether the Iranian government is involved in assisting the attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq.
"I don't know that we know the answer to that question," Gates said.
Hadley also said that the administration sought to delay the release of evidence until after a key intelligence report on Iraq was unveiled, so that Americans could place the evidence in the context of the broader conflict.
That report, called a National Intelligence Estimate, was issued Friday, concluding that Iraq was deteriorating and faces a bleak future that U.S. efforts may do little to avert.
However, the report tends to downplay the role of Iran and Syria, another target of U.S. criticism, in fomenting sectarian violence, while acknowledging that Iranian involvement "intensifies" the conflict.
"The involvement of these outside actors is not likely to be a major driver of violence or the prospects for stability because of the self-sustaining character of Iraq's internal sectarian dynamics," says the report, compiled by experts from the nation's 16 intelligence agencies.
So far, the U.S. government has provided scant evidence that the government of Iran is directly supporting militant Shiite groups.
In a major speech on Iraq last month, Bush accused Iran of "providing material support for attacks on American troops" and vowed to "seek out and destroy" weapon transport networks.
Since then, Air Force officials have said they are planning new missions that could include flights along the Iran-Iraq border aimed at disrupting weapons shipments.
Iranian officials challenged the Americans to produce evidence of their charges, and Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, pledged last week to do so.