Explaining why the rollout of facts on Iranian involvement has been delayed, Stephen Hadley, Mr. Bush's national security adviser, told reporters Friday that "the truth is, quite frankly, we thought the briefing overstated, and we sent it back to get it narrowed and focused on the facts."Imagine what it must have claimed if the Bush administration thought it was wrong!
More specifically, what was overstated in the report? Well, for one thing, it is not at all clear that the sophisticated January 20 attack in Karbala was Iranian or Iranian-backed:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that information he had seen from the Karbala attack was "ambiguous" as to an Iranian role, adding that it was too early in the investigation to be conclusive.More doubts are to be found in the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, "Prospects for Iraq's Stability: A Challenging Road Ahead" Unclassified Key Judgments:
Also last week, Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of State for political affairs, said it was "not possible to say exactly who" was responsible for the Karbala attack.
Iraq’s neighbors [Iran and Syria] influence, and are influenced by, events within Iraq, but 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.The CSM story also quoted Wayne White, a former Middle East analyst with the State Department's bureau of intelligence and research:
"Yes, I believe the Iranians are doing this [contributing to violence in Iraq], but at a level that doesn't matter very much. Compared to the magnitude of the Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence, they are really playing a bit part in all of this.It is difficult to make a case for going to war in this kind of information environment.
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