IRAN’S BOMBS….Today was finally the day of the big briefing about the roadside bombs Iran is supposedly smuggling into Iraq, and you’d think the folks in charge of this long-planned event would want to put their best foot forward. But no. Despite being “repeatedly pressed on why they insisted on anonymity in such an important matter,” they persisted in conducting the briefing entirely on background.
Golly. I wonder why no one wanted their name publicly attached to this stuff? I mean, it’s ironclad, right? A slam dunk, so to speak. It’s certainly puzzling that they’re being so shy about taking credit for their work, isn’t it?
But put that aside for the moment. Here’s some interesting spin:
The defense officials said many of the Iranian weapons components are smuggled through three main border crossings: at Meran, at Amarah and near the southern Iraqi city of Basra. The weapons are typically supplied to what officials called “rogue” elements of the Mahdi Army, the powerful Shiite militia led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Hmmm. Rogue elements of al-Sadr’s militia. That’s certainly convenient, since not only do we not like Iran, but we also don’t like al-Sadr. It’s a twofer! And yet….isn’t there another Shiite militia that’s an equally likely recipient of these bombs? Let me think. Ah, of course, here it is:
The officials provided further details on the case of the two Iranians captured during the December raid in the compound of one of Iraq’s leading Shiite politicians, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
….[The raid] uncovered weapons inventory documents with information about sniper rifles and mortars, the officials said. When U.S. officials discussed the allegations with Hakim’s representatives, their explanation was that “it is normal for different groups to acquire armaments for protection purposes,” the senior defense official said.
In other words, if we had to guess where the bombs were going, we might guess that SCIRI’s militia is getting a share of the action too. But that would be inconvenient. After all, just a couple of months ago Hakim was in the Oval Office for a chat and George Bush was calling him one of Iraq’s “distinguished leaders” and praising “His Eminence’s strong position against the murder of innocent life.”
No doubt, no doubt. But who decides who’s innocent?
In any case, this whole sorry episode just goes to show how deep a hole the United States is in these days. Sure, the timing of this briefing was childishly transparent, and there’s also the nagging question of where the Sunnis are getting their bombs. If not from Iran, then maybe there’s another source for these devices after all. Still, even with all that noted, it’s not as if it would be wildly out of character for Iran to be smuggling this stuff into Iraq. If I were in charge of Iran, it’s probably what I’d be doing. What’s more, as McClatchy’s Leila Fadel argues persuasively, “The evidence of Iranian meddling in Iraq…is far more compelling than much of the administration’s pre-war intelligence about Iraq.”
Still, everyone is skeptical, and who can blame them? The current gang in the White House would have to provide videotape of the Ayatollah Khamenei himself attaching tailfins to one of these things and putting it in a box labeled “Baghdad — ASAP” before I’d be willing to take any action based on this latest dog and pony show. With any luck, in a couple of years we’ll have a president I don’t have to feel that way about.