More on Bush-Cheney White House Intrigue on US-Iran Policy

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klein.jpg
(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

Comments

37 comments on “More on Bush-Cheney White House Intrigue on US-Iran Policy

  1. Skip says:

    Between this story, and the revelations re the neocons’ attmepts to encourage a confrontation with the PRC over Taiwan, there are some uncomfortable conclusions to be drawn:
    1. The neocons really do intend to get us into a state of permanent war psychosis.
    2. To do this, they intend to start as many fights, and create as many enemies, as they possibly can between now and Jan. 2009.
    3. The Dems in Congress cannot/will not stop them.
    The course of action to be taken is fairly obvious. It is not at all pretty, but it is fairly obvious.

    Reply

  2. Skip says:

    Between this story, and the revelations re the neocons’ attmepts to encourage a confrontation with the PRC over Taiwan, there are some uncomfortable conclusions to be drawn:
    1. The neocons really do intend to get us into a state of permanent war psychosis.
    2. To do this, they intend to start as many fights, and create as many enemies, as they possibly can between now and Jan. 2009.
    3. The Dems in Congress cannot/will not stop them.
    The course of action to be taken is fairly obvious. It is not at all pretty, but it is fairly obvious.

    Reply

  3. sakthi says:

    My longtime doubt is now very clear,thank you very much..Next target would be Iran,We could see all the reply what happened in Iraq..From thousands of soldiers death,Spending Billions of money to Biggest US embassy building(In Iraq Estimated budget is $592 million,perhaps in Iran would be much higher than this)…
    AA Breakdown Cover

    Reply

  4. Brigitte N. says:

    Mr. Clemons:
    I very much appreciate your blog–always revealing very relevant happenings, developments, and points, but–please–do not cite/promote Joe Klein here. He is the most opportunistic of guys I can think of–completely irrelevant what he thinks and observes and claims to know.
    Stick to your own guns and to those of your sources who deserve to be taken seriously.

    Reply

  5. Kathleen says:

    Via, there’s the rub… Congress needs to act but they are morally paralysed, mentally lazy, unimaginative because they lack conviction or the courage thereof.
    Pathetic.

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  6. Kathleen says:

    Via, there’s the rub… Congress needs to act but they are morally paralysed, mentally lazy, unimaginative because they lack conviction or the courage thereof.
    Pathetic.

    Reply

  7. Jaime Frontero says:

    “Why? Because our intelligence inside Iran is very sketchy.”
    THAT is why Cheney outted Valerie Plame. So the intel he controls would become the ONLY intel on Iran. Brewster Jennings & Assoc. was the main CIA intelligence structure on the ground for Iran – and outting Plame destroyed it.
    Does anyone believe Cheney is so amateurishly out-of-control that he’d be pissed enough to destroy a primary intelligence source just because some second-string semi-spook Ambassador got whiny about his honor and told a little bit of truth to the [late, lamented] New York Times?
    Bull.
    Cheney is as cold and emotionless as a fish. He hasn’t stayed in Washington all these decades by doing stupid things.
    With the end of the CIA’s intelligence input on Iran, Cheney controls every bit of intel the President – and everybody else – sees.
    Iran was ALWAYS the goal for Cheney. Always. And I have no doubt he’s positioned himself to take full advantage of that.
    Dammit. Plain as the nose on your face, once you see it. That’s the whole Plame thing, right there.
    So I guess I’m figuring we’ll be blowing up Iran pretty soon now. Hope I’m wrong – but I don’t think so…
    JF

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  8. degustibus says:

    and far off in the lonesome sky hovering on motionless wind, Cheney cackles, ‘Go fuck yerselves.”

    Reply

  9. rapier says:

    What sort of man, a president, would stand by for years and years and allow the common perception to build that the Vice President was pulling all sorts of strings behind his back? Even if none of it was true how could the strutting popinjay Bush allow himself to be so demeaned
    It’s a given inside the Beltway that Cheney is a sort of co president. Several orders of magnitude more powerful than any VP in history. Again, even if this is all just an illusion, how can Bush, a man without doubt obsessed with status, allow such ideas to take root and grow and grow and grow? It’s a great puzzle which goes to the heart of the dysfunction of the current government.
    The routine humiliation of Vice Presidents has been as predictable as the sunrise pretty much throughout our history. When something is that regular we know that there is an institutional dynamic which drives it and the VP concept from day one was an obvious wart on the constitutional system. Even the lamest presidents have known instinctively that no authority can be given to his VP. To do so is a certain organizational and bureaucratic disaster.
    Yet here we are 7 years into an administration and Cheney is blatantly humiliating the president. Make no mistake, these stories are not the result of dogged journalistic investigation but rather of well thought out leaks, by Cheneys hands.
    The oddity of Cheney selecting himself for the VP slot, and Bush’s acceptance of it laid the pattern. We will probably never understand the whys of it all. In other administrations staff talk about such things when the history is written but here again the oddity of a staff of one giant, Rove, and everyone else and Rove will never talk.

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  10. Frank Wilhoit says:

    If Cheney is doing what you say he is doing, he should be arrested. But do not imagine that he is crazy; we could wish that he were. This is simply a consistent escalation of the “politique du pire”. Most Republicans really believe that there is no cataclysm so horrible that it could not somehow be turned to the Party’s advantage. By that line of thought, the only thing to do is stir the pot.

    Reply

  11. Sam Thornton says:

    I’m not an attorney. I’m not an expert. I’m probably not all that bright, despite what my mother told everyone. So, instead of a comment, I have a question.
    A part of the US Criminal Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 118, Paragraph 2441 (War Crimes) incorporates by reference international agreements the US is party to and provides for severe penalties (up to death) in a US court for violations. Not only has Bush apparently violated many of these international war crimes provisions, he’s even bragged about it.
    The question is, who has standing to file charges besides the DOJ or one of the US Attorneys?

    Reply

  12. Pissed Off American says:

    Is it now clear why the founding fathers had the foresight to insist on militias and the right to bear arms?
    Posted by erichwwk
    Only if you think we can oppose Apache Helicopters with Model 94s and Glocks. Their foresight considered the need, but not the future practicality.

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  13. erichwwk says:

    Let’s not forget that GWB was essentially clueless re to foreign policy when he assumed office. Thus I’m always a bit surprised to hear that some think that Bush outranks Cheney. And with all that domestic spying, and thick files on everyone, who that is not squeaky clean and has cajones the size of watermelons would dare oppose Cheney? Especially now that the military establishment has been purged.
    Is it now clear why the founding fathers had the foresight to insist on militias and the right to bear arms?

    Reply

  14. Pissed Off American says:

    I don’t know if Bush has the capablity or desire to clip Cheney’s wings, but Congress does. The House has before it Kucinich’s Impeachent Resolution on Cheney. All it needs to do is act.
    Posted by Via
    Congress has neither the capability, (patriotism, morals, and courage), nor the desire, (altruistic motivation based on patriotism, morals, and courage).
    You’re dreaming. Read Sibel Edmonds latest interviews if you are still naive enough to think a Democratic Congress is going to ride to our rescue.
    http://www.hairenik.com/armenianweekly/fea05120701.htm
    http://www.hairenik.com/armenianweekly/fea05190701.htm

    Reply

  15. Via says:

    I don’t know if Bush has the capablity or desire to clip Cheney’s wings, but Congress does. The House has before it Kucinich’s Impeachent Resolution on Cheney. All it needs to do is act.

    Reply

  16. Matthew says:

    American power in the ME is helping to retard their peoples the way that American “friendship” retarded Latin America. Same crap, different continent.

    Reply

  17. Devil's Advocate says:

    I doubt that Cheney is planning an end run around Bush to attack Iran.
    Cheney has been ramping up the rhetoric lately. If Bush disagreed with him, he would tell him to shut up. Bush’s vanity is great that he would not want to be seen as losing power to Cheney. He’s the Decider, remember.
    I think all of this is going on with Bush’s full approval. I believe that the Administration is gung-ho on bombing Iran. Heavens helps us all!

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  18. GoRonGo says:

    I watch a week-daily program on Link TV called Mosaic, which is news from the Middle East translated into English.
    On Thursday’s program an Israeli news show had on Norman Podheretz, i.e., father of the neo-CONS. He seemed very sure that USrael would indeed attack Iran and seemed to have insider information.
    Link TV is Dish TV channel 9410, Direct TV 375, it’s on Comcast too I think. But you can watch it online at LinkTV.org
    The show is invaluable so I would suggest that anyone interested in the Middle East tune in.
    (SORRY TO DOUBLE POST BUT AS I READ DOWN THE BLOG I REALIZED THIS COMMENT WOULD BE BETTER HERE)

    Reply

  19. erichwwk says:

    Steve writes: “In tense times, only a small match or trigger is needed to get a dangerous escalation going” … and ends with: “If Cheney is animating his spear-carrier’s views and comments, then Bush should and must clip Cheney’s wings.”
    Lang reports: “Bush asked the Chiefs about the wisdom of a troop “surge” in Iraq. They were unanimously opposed.”
    Yet we have the surge, and Bush (the public figure) is adamant that it not be thwarted; is it not clear that hoping that Bush is to be the one to do the clipping is rather futile? And that the recent vote and behavior in both houses clearly indicates that Congress is also powerless?
    It seems to me that the only real force left of any value is the public. Our voice must be louder, and in unison, that while we support the troops in seeing that they have body armor, medical support, family support,etc.etc. we DO NOT SUPPORT THE TROOP SURGE, and that we view the OCCUPATION OF IRAQ AS A WAR CRIME. And we MUST give up the nonsense of “ENTITLEMENT TO PRIVILEGED ACCESS TO OIL”.
    I hope Steve continues this thread with his views as to how we here on this list can respond in such a way that our behavior blows out the match, rather than be that extra oxygen that amplifies what is still (relatively) a small flame. He is really positioned as well as anyone to implement a realistic game plan, either directly on this blog, through the larger New American Foundation, or by admonition that we work in some other way, as through our military establishment,BEFORE imposition of martial law makes the response even more problematic, and we have the armagedon that folks like Cheney and Hitler prefer to the humilation of a war crimes tribunal.
    Or are we down to Stauffenberg options to preserve our Presidency and nation from traitors? Let me be clear that my Christian, Budhist, and Hindu values would only support a Rommel response, unless the U.S. Stauffenberg permutation does not result in loss of life.
    “There are many causes worth dying for, but none worth killing for”.-MG

    Reply

  20. Marcia says:

    I cannot help but wonder to what degree you can trust your sources. The high level of manipulation, deceit and misinformation that abounded in the past seems like a rehersal for the “opening night.”
    How could Bush not be informed? Rove must know what is taking place in the administration so is he on Bush’s team or Cheney’s? What was he doing the other day on the Hill?
    All the elements necessary for a real “coup” are now in place. The Patriot Act, the latest Presidential Directive and the drum beating for a new miilitary intervention.
    Would high military officers resign before following orders that might break the military? There are so many variables in this slimy pot of oil the main question seems to be who gets to be the “decider.”

    Reply

  21. Mr.Murder says:

    Lebanon is the key. The Trans Arabian pipeline flows there and ports to the Mediterranean sea.
    Syria had the best lead in Lebanon, the country’s leader had background with them and was assassinated. For some reason Syria was blamed though the result was against their interests.
    The Sauds are past peak oil, thus the war with Iraq offers them continued ability to divert market sector their war(see Oil for Food).
    They are now known to be funding Sunni terror elements in Lebanon to oppose the Shi’ite leaning elements most likely to concert with Iran as Shi’ia control takes Iraq.
    Counter proliferating Syrian influence, then overcoming Shi’ia loyalties within the hopeful ranking replacements.
    Funded by big oil, as the trans Iraqi pipeline also plans on flowing in northern Iraq to southern Lebanon. Venture firms from Israel plan on taking part in it.
    Unfortunately for them, collateral results gave Israel grave reason to reconsider. Their planned control seems naught, so the Saudis step back in with new elements leaning to Sunni emergence of control.
    The USA refused to make a statement on Israel’s war in Lebanon until China issued an official statement. The next day a Chinese UN observer post was hit.
    Strategic characters are at play, not just regional.
    Lebanon remains the linchpin to hooking up Iraq’ oil to the West. Otherwise it is more likely to flow east or be dominated by Gulf States. China and Iran have plans there as an emergent client state.

    Reply

  22. stumped says:

    Why are we so helpless?
    Why is there this anger that swirls and swirls but amounts to nothing?
    Why are we so powerless to effect change? especially when we have a document supposedly as miraculous as the Constitution?
    How did those before us, the ones who shaped our traditions and history, how did they effect change? They did bring pressure and change the course of their government, right? How?
    This is not a polemic, it is a sincere question. I wish I knew what actions I could take to make it happen, to hold people accountable, to preserve our rights and constitution. Does any one have any ideas?
    Which doors do we have to knock on to get the right thing done? What can I do?

    Reply

  23. Carroll says:

    Steve…keep going on this if you can.
    You may be able to do the same thing as your efforts on Bolton and Wolfowitz. In fact the buzz about your post …and there has been a lot! of buzz on the net today about it….may ultimately prevent an attack on Iran.

    Reply

  24. Donald from Hawaii says:

    You lost me at “Joe Klein adds some important contextual material …”
    Klein long ago compromised his reputation in my eyes by lying to both his employer and the general public over his authorship of “Primary Colors” as Anonymous. Ironically, I did like the book, but I found his dishonest behavior concerning the controversy to be cowardly. His opinions and analyses therefore mean nothing to me, even though I might otherwise happen to agree with some of them.

    Reply

  25. TonyForesta says:

    Clipping the wings of Azmodeaus – I mean Cheney will be no cake walk. Since the democrats are week pandering cowards,- there is really no way to stop the fascist warmongers, profiteers, and pathological liars in the Bush government from hurling America into another ill-concieved, costly, bloody, neverendingwar against another ME nation.
    Better to work toward saving our children from the inevitable draft, – then to waste time worrying about what is obviously a foregone conclusion.
    Sadly – we will all get what we deserve.
    “Deliver us from evil!”

    Reply

  26. Pissed Off American says:

    The above post speaks for itself. However, I must add, apparently there was more patriotism on exhibit in the University of Massachusetts’ auditorium than is possessed by the entire batch of treasonous bastards currently squatting on both sides of the aisle in Washington DC.
    Pissed yet?

    Reply

  27. Pissed Off American says:

    UMass faculty, students protest Card’s honorary doctorate
    May 25, 2007
    AMHERST, Mass. –Hundreds of students and faculty erupted in a chorus of boos Friday when President Bush’s former chief of staff Andrew Card rose to accept his honorary doctorate in public service at the University of Massachusetts, blaming him in part for the Iraq war.
    The boos and catcalls — including those from faculty who stood on stage with Card — drowned out Provost Charlena Seymour’s remarks as she awarded the degree. Protesters claim Card lied to the American people in the early days of the Iraq war and should not have been honored at the graduate student commencement.
    Continues at…….
    http://tinyurl.com/2kbqw7

    Reply

  28. Pissed Off American says:

    The current actions of this Administration telegraph an attitude that is truly terrifying. In every respect, from the AG scandal to the cavalier manner in which Congressional subpoenas are being ignored, this Administration obviously KNOWS it will not be held accountable in the future. These monsters obviously know things about future events that lead them to believe that their tenure is unthreatened. I wish I could feel some optimism, or even just shed some cynicism in regards to our future. But I have come to believe that this administration is not only corrupt and criminal, but is, in every sense of the term, evil as well. It is my belief that they will stop at nothing, and will resort to anything, in order to pursue thier agenda. I have commented many times that the crimes of this Administration will rival Adolph Hitler’s despicable history, and I believe that today more than ever. We are undoubtedly in far more serious trouble than any of us care to believe, and it is in fact becoming believable that the ’08 elections may be superceded by a second neo-con “trifecta”, putting in motion the civil conditions that allow Bush/Cheney to implement the extraordinary powers that have been bestowed upon them by the Patriot Act and Bush’s recent executive orders in regards to martial law. I realize it is far more comfortable to continue to bask in the comfort of an “it can’t happen here” cloud of denial, but the events of the last six years undeniably demonstrate that it CAN happen here, and IS happening here.

    Reply

  29. JohnH says:

    Don’t discard the possibility that all this is just psyops. The US is going into negotiations with Iran next week with a weak hand. So what do they do? Two aircraft carriers enter the Persian Gulf. Congress conveniently but possibily unintentionally signals that it is totally cowed by Bush and is powerless to challenge anything he might choose to do. And then word leaks that Cheney is out of control. All pretty convenient, huh?
    IMHO, the administration cannot risk an attack on Iran until excess oil production capacity reaches the point where oil prices won’t go ballistic after a possible cut off of Iranian oil. A rapid rise in oil prices at this point risks not only world economic growth but also a meltdown of the international financial system, which is a house of cards at this point.
    An attack on Iran is much more likely when conditions resemble 2003. At that time the world economy was in recession and excess oil production capacity was expected to be ample (it wasn’t because the administration botched its Venezuelan interventions and Venezuela oil production was temporarily off line). The US economy is nearing recession now, but it’s debatable whether the world economy will follow suite. In addition, any recession will have to be deeper to make up for a loss of Iranian crude coupled with generally tighter spare production capacity. Iraq’s inability to ramp up production and provide the needed margin must be maddening to the warmongers.
    My recommendation is to keep your eye on oil futures. A lot of administration insiders and their business partners are going to try to capitalize on any Iranian intervention. And if past performance is any guide, they won’t be bashful about it.

    Reply

  30. daCascadian says:

    pauline >”…Does Bush really “read the intelligence”?”
    He can read all he wants to but I`d like someone that can actually UNDERSTAND the intelligence.
    “…read the intelligence…” my a*s
    “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” – Galileo Galilei

    Reply

  31. JonU says:

    “Does Bush really “read the intelligence”?”
    He and the neocons, as has been well documented, cherry-pick the intelligence to advance their pre-existing and delusional agenda of military domination in the Middle East.
    If it counters their agenda, it is typically termed suspect or analyst opinion.
    If it can be used to advance the agenda, even if the intelligence must be stretched to the breaking point, it is presented as the best possible intelligence there is.

    Reply

  32. Zathras says:

    It might be best if, before the Cheney aide in question were dismissed or sidelined, he or she were named.
    I appreciate the occasional need for discretion in stories about foreign relations. In this case, though, it seems clear that either the urgency or the discretion is misplaced. If all that is involved are rumors about someone who reports to the Vice President being spread by other officials seeking to damage him, then Steve’s tone of incipient panic is unjustified; if a Vice Presidential (or NSA) staffer really is undermining official American policy he should not remain anonymous.
    Those of us who follow this kind of thing can guess at possible suspects — Wurmser, Abrams, Addington (maybe) and so forth. That’s not good enough, if there is really something to this.

    Reply

  33. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks Doginfollow — What a cool handle by the way! I appreciate the vote of confidence. Joe’s commentary seemed relevant so put it up — but appreciate your view. Best, Steve

    Reply

  34. Doginfollow says:

    Steve,
    A favorable mention from Joe Klein is not necessarily something you want to tout. Au contraire. Klein is the symbol of everything that’s wrong with the Beltway commentariat (except for what Broder’s already got covered). He is a lazy thinker and a sloppy reporter who can’t admit he’s wrong even when the evidence is laid at his feet.
    Your reporting can stand or fall on its own merits. You don’t need Joe Klein’s stamp of approval. Believe me, you shouldn’t want it.

    Reply

  35. CheckingIn says:

    So, is this why the Democrats caved, especially Murtha? The Murtha that flip flopped on the STOP BUSH’S IRAN WAR amendments, and voted to give Bush a BLANK CHECK.
    What does Pentagon’s BEST Democrat FRIEND in the Defense appropration committee know?
    This is sick.!

    Reply

  36. CheckingIn says:

    So, is this why the Democrats caved, especially Murtha? The Murtha that flip flopped on the STOP BUSH’S IRAN WAR amendments, and voted to give Bush a BLANK CHECK.
    What does Pentagon’s BEST Democrat FRIEND in the Defense appropration committee know?
    This is sick.!

    Reply

  37. pauline says:

    Yesterday, a White House correspondent candidly asked Bush why the American people should trust him as “a credible messenger on the war,” in light of the major mistakes he has made since first invading Iraq:
    Q: The majority in the public, a growing number of Republicans, appear not to trust you any longer to be able to carry out this policy successfully. Can you explain why you believe you’re still a credible messenger on the war?
    BUSH: I’m credible because I read the intelligence, David.
    Today, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released pre-war intelligence that warned the Bush administration in early 2003 that invading Iraq could create massive internal strife, giving extremist groups like al Qaeda new opportunities to expand their influence.
    The U.S. intelligence community’s pre-war clairvoyance is notable. While there was originally no link between al Qaeda and Iraq, they accurately predicted how a U.S. invasion would ignite Islamic sentiment against the U.S., allowing terrorists networks like al Qaeda to resurge elsewhere and disrupt regional stability. Some highlights of the report:
    “A stable democratic government in postwar Iraq would be a long, difficult, and probably turbulent challenge.”
    “Al Qaeda probably would see an opportunity to accelerate its operational tempo and increase terrorist attacks during and after a U.S.-Iraq war.”
    “Rogue ex-regime elements could forge an alliance with existing terrorist organizations or act independently to wage guerilla warfare against the new government or Coalition forces.”
    “A US-led defeat and occupation of Arab Iraq would boost proponents of political Islam and would result in ‘calls for the people of the region to unite and build up defenses against the West.'”
    “Funds for terrorist groups probably would increase as a result of Muslim outrage over US action.”
    But like several other reports, the Bush administration dismissed these predictions. “The committee also found that the warnings predicting what would happen after the U.S.-led invasion were circulated widely in government, including to the Defense Department and the Office of the Vice President.”
    Four years after the invasion, these predictions have become reality. Al Qaeda is resurging in Afghanistan and Pakistan, partly funded by allies in Iraq. Anti-U.S. sentiment in the Middle East continues to rise.
    Does Bush really “read the intelligence”?
    http://thinkprogress.org/

    Reply

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