Last Sunday, the Bush administration finally presented its long-delayed intelligence briefing on Iranian arms shipments into Iraq. Prior to the presentation, a U.S. official told the New York Times that it had been delayed because they were “trying to scrub” the intelligence, adding “the last thing we want to be accused of is cherry-picking.”
While much of the information had previously been known, the highlight of the presentation — as reported by ABC World News — was that it was “the first time military officials…made the link to the highest level of Iran’s government.” But the briefing “offered no evidence” to substantiate that claim. After coming under intense scrutiny for an intelligence presentation that was approved by the highest levels of the administration, the White House has slowly backed off its claims of Iranian government involvement.
Today, CNN reported that the White House is now blaming the anonymous intelligence briefer who presented the information. According to CNN’s Ed Henry, the White House says the anonymous intelligence briefer went “a little too far” in stating the evidence. But, as Henry said, “that begs the question why the administration has taken so long to clarify those comments.” Watch it:
HENRY: Some new information coming from my colleague Barbara Starr at the Pentagon that General Peter Pace is expected to have a media availability later today. All eyes will be on that to see exactly how he puts this given this confusion over the last couple of days.
Other information we have gotten is that apparently this anonymous intelligence briefer went a little too far in saying that the highest levels of the Iranian government were behind this. But that begs the question why the administration has taken so long to clarify those comments, Soledad.
O’BRIEN: And that’s a big going too far. I mean, that’s a critical piece of information.
HENRY: Especially given what happened in the run-up to the Iraq war. The administration knows full well about the credibility questions. And you would think in this case they would want to make sure they have all their ducks in a row.
O’BRIEN: One would think. Ed Henry for us, thanks.