(Joe Klein; photo credit: Online News Hour with Jim Lehrer)
Joe Klein adds some important contextual material to the question of what Cheney may be cooking up on Iran on Time‘s Swampland blog.
Klein links to my post and writes in “Cheney’s Iran Fantasy“:
I can confirm, through military and intelligence sources, part of Steve Clemons’ account of Cheney’s crazed bellicosity regarding Iran. In fact, having just received a second-source confirmation of the following story, I was intending to post it today:
Last December, as Rumsfeld was leaving, President Bush met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in “The Tank,” the secure room in the Pentagon where the Joint Chiefs discuss classified matters of national security. Bush asked the Chiefs about the wisdom of a troop “surge” in Iraq. They were unanimously opposed. Then Bush asked about the possibility of a successful attack on Iran’s nuclear capability.
He was told that the U.S. could launch a devastating air attack on Iran’s government and military, wiping out the Iranian air force, the command and control structure and some of the more obvious nuclear facilities. But the Chiefs were — once again — unanimously opposed to taking that course of action.
Why? Because our intelligence inside Iran is very sketchy. There was no way to be sure that we could take out all of Iran’s nuclear facilities. Furthermore, the Chiefs warned, the Iranian response in Iraq and, quite possibly, in terrorist attacks on the U.S. could be devastating. Bush apparently took this advice to heart and went to Plan B – – a covert destabilization campaign reported earlier this week by ABC News.
If Clemons is right, and I’m pretty sure he is, Cheney is still pushing Plan A.
On the blog, Sic Semper Tyrannis, Col. Pat Lang shares his thoughts on Cheney’s team and the games underway.
Many have asked me if I think that Israel is that easy for Cheney and his team to animate. If one reads the Winograd report carefully on the Lebanon-Israel war, my answer would be “no.” It’s clear that Israeli Foreign Minister Livni and Prime Minister Olmert told Bush NSC official Elliott Abrams a firm “no” when he suggested that the theater of operations be expanded to include Syria.
But that doesn’t mean that one can shrug off Cheney’s aide’s commentary. In tense times, only a small match or trigger is needed to get a dangerous escalation going.
But the bigger issue remains Cheney’s alleged effort to constrain his boss, George W. Bush. if Cheney’s aide is lying to the people he is speaking to — then he should be dismissed or sidelined. If Cheney is animating his spear-carrier’s views and comments, then Bush should and must clip Cheney’s wings.
— Steve Clemons