The Washington Post had a story yesterday quoting Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, declining to echo the White House claim that the Iranian government is directing from "the highest levels" the supply of weapons to Shia insurgents attacking US soldiers in Iraq. It's quite a remarkable piece.
Pace does not contest the fact that Iranian-made weapons are being used in Iraq's chaotic killing fields. But he makes it clear he has no evidence for the incendiary claim that Iran is, effectively, at war in Iraq.
The story gets yet more interesting further down. Cameras were banned from the briefing on Sunday where the claims were made. No transcripts have been provided. The WaPo reporters were bounced around a series of government agencies as they sought verification of the most serious claims, but could get no one to verify or even officially repeat those claims, even though they have been widely reported. Can you say, "deniability"?
While most leading newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, have been circumspect to the point of sceptical about the claims, the New York Times reported them as uncontested fact.
The Sunday briefing was supposed to have been held last month, but appears to have been delayed by internal wrangling as to exactly what case it could properly state.
Juan Cole points out that the unsourced claims in the NYT story don't seem to make any sense. This column, noting that "Iran is allied with the Iraq's Shiite government and wants it to succeed," comes to a similar conclusion.
Anyone else getting a major déjà vu here?
Meanwhile, Joe Galloway at Military.com has a stinging column on the $US12 billion - 363 tons of cash money - that was shipped to Baghdad in the early days of the war and given to, well, who knows? The sad thing is that this money belonged to the Iraqi people. Galloway harks back to another war:
During the dark days of World War II, Congress established a Committee on War Profiteering and put a little-known senator from Missouri, Harry S. Truman, in charge. Truman, a veteran of combat service in World War I, was a bulldog.
His committee went after not only those who stole money but also those who provided shoddy or worthless equipment and supplies for our troops. He had the power to shut down an offending company or contractor, and he used it.
Where's our Truman Committee today? Where are the righteous representatives of the people charged with standing guard over our troops and our money?
Anyway, I'm sure that I'm not the only one relieved that Helen Clark has finally bitten the bullet and expelled Taito Philip Field from the Labour caucus, even at the cost of a crucial legislative vote. I don't think Field's disloyal murmurings on 3 News changed the Labour leadership's view of the MP - he's been stinkin' up the place for a while now - so much as they were a tactical error that provided an opening for an expulsion that wouldn't allow Field to play the martyr. (For the sake of tidiness, you can discuss this in our Politics 08 thread.)
And there's a company called (I think) Net Lifestyles that currently has people making bogus "lifestyle" surveys about saving habits and attitudes that are actually cold calls for their financial advisory services - I got one yesterday, which concluded with a pitch to send a financial manager around to my house. I'd rather put my money in a big pile and torch it than give any business to a company that lies to me. And I'm warning these dicks that any information associated with our phone number was obtained on false premises, and keeping it in any way is a breach of the Privacy Act.