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Wednesday, January 31, 2007
By Steven L. Taylor

FOXNews.com – Officials: White House Holding Back Report Detailing Iran’s Meddling in Iraq – U.S. Senate

A plan by the Bush administration to release detailed and possibly damning specific evidence linking the Iranian government to efforts to destabilize Iraq have been put on hold, U.S. officials told FOX News.

Officials had said a “dossier” against Iran compiled by the U.S. likely would be made public at a press conference this week in Baghdad, and that the evidence would contain specifics including shipping documents, serial numbers, maps and other evidence which officials say would irrefutably link Iran to weapons shipments to Iraq.

Now, U.S. military officials say the decision to go public with the findings has been put on hold for several reasons, including concerns over the reaction from Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — as well as inevitable follow-up questions that would be raised over what the U.S. should do about it.

These kinds of stories give me pause.

First by saying that they have the information, but have decided not to release it seems a bit too cutesy by half: it allows the idea that the administration has some hardcore evidence without allowing that evidence to be in the public for scrutiny.

Second, the questions about what to do with Iran are already in the table and since when did the administration start worrying about Ahmadinejad’s reaction to much of anything?

Third, we have been down this path before. Dossiers and irrefutable evidence got us where we are now, so one would think that any such presentation by this administration at this time would be greeted with severe (and understandable) skepticism.

James Joyner notes some of the reaction to this and other Iran-related stories in the news and on the blogs today.

Ultimately I have to concur with his basic assessment:

Iran’s active participation in the killing of American forces, of which there is ample evidence regardless of their involvement of this incident [see here-ed.], is an act of war. On the other hand, it’s not at all clear what we can realistically do about it. We could certainly turn the place into a glass parking lot or topple the mullah’s and occupy the country, overstretched force or no. But the repercussions of either move would be far worse than the status quo.

That the Iranians would be involved in the current Iraqi situation is hardly a surprise. That they would be involved in a way that is antithetical to US interests is hardly a surprise either. The solution to the problem in question is not an easy one–and that fact is actually more because of the failing policy in Iraq than anything else.

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7 Responses to “Does the Administration have a Damning Dossier on Iran? (and if so, What Would that Mean?)”

  1. Steven Plunk Says:

    Without commenting on the documents (if they exist), why must a military decision be called “cutesy by half” when it could involve war planning, battle planning, secret diplomatic contact, or simply none be none of our business at this time?

    We don’t know enough about any of this to comment about motives. Even if we did the public is not entitled to review everything it wants to. We certainly didn’t review D-Day plans or intelligence related to D-Day in May of ’44.

    I guess if we all want to be in charge of this war we better get those documents for our perusal. First it was one commander in chief, then 100, then 535, now somewhere around 300 million including children. What a way to run a war.

  2. VirusHead Says:

    With this administration, I think that there are too many things that seem to be “none of our business.” This is a very opaque time with our government. Future historians, if there are any, will have a lot of fun.

    BTW, congrats on the mention at Bloggapedia, from your fellow “opinionated blogger.”

  3. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Steve,

    What I said was “too cutesy by half” was the idea of saying they have info and then deciding not to release it. I don’t find that to be a military decision.

    And, btw, we are in a democracy and Congress does have a role in these tings as do the citizens. Still, that really isn’t the issue here.

  4. Steven Plunk Says:

    Dr. Taylor,

    The US military is alleged to possess this information concerning Iranian involvement in the insurgency so I would certainly consider that a military decision. It could have a material effect on ongoing operations. Heck, my local police department will not release information concerning criminal activity even after an arrest has been made. I would consider that more of a public matter to be shared.

    You are correct, we all have a role in the conduct and participation of a war. It starts at the ballot box, lobbying our elected officials, and voicing our opinions. Congress has a role as well, funding the war, holding hearings, and communicating with the commander in chief.

    Citizens and Congress should not dictate troop levels, endlessly criticize operations, use the war for political benefit. I see those things happening now and would like to see them stop. There is a time and a place for criticism and there are honorable motives for criticism. Some people and elected officials are failing to see that.

    Thanks.

  5. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Steve,

    My point is: the info on the dossier came from the administration itself. I don’t fully believe that the administration first pre-announced that they had this dossier and then decided after the fact to not release it. That smacks of trying to have it both ways: telling us that the have this terribly damning evidence, but then withholding it.

    This isn’t a case of the military having info, a reporter finding out about it and the military saying they can’t share. This is the administration saying it has the info. There is a big difference. This is as much about politics (just noting they have the info is about politics) as it is about anything else.

    I would not have reacted in this fashion had it not been for the first line of the story. And the story comes from Fox News, not exactly an entity that plays “gotcha” with the administration.

    Also, I don’t recall asserting that the public should be controlling troop levels. I am not especially in favor of the Congress so doing, although I would assert that they have the Constitutional power to try.

    Regardless, what this post is about is whether the administration is playing game with information on Iran. Indeed, I would argue that what I am doing is criticizing BEFORE we get ourselves embroiled in a greater conflict with Iran. I feel for a lot of what the admin said about Iraq, so I am quite skeptical this go ’round. That seems like a fair position, especially in a democratic setting.

  6. Robert Divis Says:

    If I may, perhaps one of the big problems with any statement like this is the credibility factor. The administration made a lot of claims at the bigging of the conflict with Iraq that turned out to not be so, or perhaps to be only partial truth. I very clearly remember Colin Powell’s address to the UN, before the invasion began. The information he presented – the “dossier”, if you like – seemed plausible and believable.

    Now, some will say it was all fabrication, some will say the administration simply acted on bad intelligence. I tend to think it was perhaps a bit of the former but vastly the latter; in any case, no matter which side you come down on, the Bush administration has lost a lot of credibility when it comes to “dossiers” about the member nations of the Axis of Evil. Whether you are concerned about the administration making stuff up to push a war (some folks do) or are concerned that the administration can’t get good information, either way you have doubts about what it does.

    This is most unfortunate. I mean, even if the administration didn’t withhold this information, if they just came out and said it – I think a lot of people, and not just the deep skeptics but a lot of moderate, thinking people – would probably have a lot of questions, at the very least about the reliability of the information. Even if the administration was clearly in the right on something as big as war with Iran (which is gonna be a tough sell for me), would the public, or congress, believe the data? Perhaps some “in the know” individuals could make sense of it, people on intelligence committees and such. But what about the rest of us?

    I’m not a really hard critic of the Bush administration and I don’t believe in evil right-wing conspiracies, but I have to say, I don’t know what I’d think about the dossier even if I saw it. And certainly the circumstances of this “revelation” of the existence of a dossier seem a little, well, odd.

    Can’t blame a person for having doubts. It’s unfortunate, but as far as I can see, that’s just where we are now.

  7. PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » US Can’t Prove Iranian Activities in Iraq Says:

    [...] This story underscores why I noted earlier in the week that the administration’s assertion of the existence of a dossier that they couldn’t release to the public was a move that might could be characterized as “too cutsey by half.” [...]


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