Yesterday, ThinkProgress highlighted CNN’s Ed Henry’s aggressive questions about whether the administration is standing behind claims that the “highest levels” of the Iranian government have ordered weapons shipments to Iraqi insurgents.
Today, Henry continued his dogged pursuit to get to the bottom of the administration’s contradiction with Gen. Peter Pace, who said he has not seen evidence that the Iranian government “clearly knows or is complicit” in the weapons smuggling. Henry confronted Bush about this contradiction and forced him to acknowledge “I don’t think we know” whether the Iranian government is ordering the weapons shipments.
While other reporters are already hyping and overstating the administration’s claims on Iranian intelligence, Henry has maintained healthy skepticism of their public statements. “What assurances can you give the American people that the intelligence this time will be accurate?” Henry asked Bush. “Ed, we know [Iranian weapons] are there,” the President responded, again dodging the question. Watch it:
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. I want to follow up on Iran one more time. Are you saying, today, that you do not know if senior members of the Iranian government are, in fact, behind these explosives?
That contradicts what U.S. officials said in Baghdad on Sunday. They said the highest levels of the Iranian government were behind this. It also — it seems to square with what General Pace has been saying, but contradicts with what your own press secretary said yesterday. What…
BUSH: Can I — let me — I can’t say it more plainly: There are weapons in Iraq that are harming U.S. troops because of the Quds Force. As you know, I hope, the Quds Force is a part of the Iranian government. Whether Ahmadinejad ordered the Quds Force to do this, I don’t think we know. But we do know that they’re there. And I intend to do something about it. And I’ve asked our commanders to do something about it. And we’re going to protect our troops.
QUESTION: But given some of those contradictions, Mr. President…
BUSH: There’s no contradiction that the weapons are there and they were provided by the Quds Force…
QUESTION: What assurances can you give the American people that the intelligence this time will be accurate?
BUSH: Ed, We know they’re there. We know they’re provided by the Quds Force. We know the Quds Force is a part of the Iranian government. I don’t think we need who picked up the phone and said to the Quds Force, Go do this, but we know it’s a vital part of the Iranian government.
What matters is, is that we’re responding. The idea that somehow we’re manufacturing the idea that the Iranians are providing IEDs is preposterous. My job is to protect our troops. And when we find devices that are in that country that are hurting our troops, we’re going to do something about it, pure and simple.
Now, David says: Does this mean you’re trying to have a pretext for war? No. It means I’m trying to protect our troops. That’s what that’s means. And that’s what the family members of our soldiers expect the commander in chief and those responsible for — responsible for our troops on the ground.