On Sunday, anonymous administration officials presented evidence purportedly showing that weapons have been smuggled into Iraq with “the approval of senior Iranian officials.” Yesterday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace seemed to contradict this claim, saying that he has not seen evidence that the Iranian government “clearly knows or is complicit” in the weapons smuggling.
Today on CNN, CentCom Commander William Fallon, the top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, was asked about the administration’s claim. Fallon said, “I have no idea who may be actually with hands-on in this stuff.”
Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said Tuesday he could not explain the apparent contradiction and referred questions to Pace’s office and to American forces in Baghdad.
A military official on Pace’s staff said the general stands by his comments. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.
John Hutson, a retired former Navy judge advocate general and dean of the Franklin Pierce Law School, said of the intel debate, “I think we have to take away from it a huge dose of caution.”
PHILLIPS: If you listen to Joint Chiefs chair, Peter Pace, he said just recently — and we’re going to take a listen in just a second, that he doesn’t believe the military — or the government of Iran is involved with these weapons, yet Tony Snow at the White House today said that he believes it’s the radicals behind the manufacturing and distribution of these weapons.
Let’s take a listen to Peter Pace, and I want to get your response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENERAL PETER PACE: We know that the explosively formed projectiles are manufactured in Iran. What I would not say is that the Iranian government, per se, knows about this. It is clear the Iranians are involved, and it’s clear that materials from Iran are involved. But I would not say, based on what I know, that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Sir, what is your belief?
FALLON: Kyra, I have no idea who may be actually with hands-on in this stuff, but I do know that this is not helpful to the situation in Iraq. The folks there are struggling. They’re trying to build a new life for themselves, a new country.