By: E&P Staff
In his White House press briefings this week, spokesman Tony Snow, amid new charges from the administration and the Pentagon of deadly Iranian activity in Iraq, has nevertheless charged that the press is “overhyping” the possibility of some sort of U.S. plan to attack Iran.
Today, after many questions and challenges on this subject, he called the opening a New York Times editorial on this subject today “what may be the dumbest lead of an editorial I’ve seen in a long time.”
Snow said, “You guys have been constantly — I did see what may be the dumbest lead of an editorial I’ve seen in a long time today in The New York Times, which is, ‘We need to declare ourselves on Iran.’ We’ve declared it over and over — we’re not going to war with them.
“Let me make that clear. So anybody who is trying to use this as ‘the administration trying to lay the predicate for a war with Iran’ — no, we’re committed to diplomacy with Iran. But we are also committed to protecting our forces.”
The first sentences of the Times’ editorial actually read, “Before things get any more out of hand, President Bush needs to make his intentions toward Iran clear. And congress needs to make it clear that this time it will be neither tricked nor bullied into supporting another disastrous war.”
One exchange on the subject from the transcript follows.
Q Do you think that the off-the-record, low-level Iran briefing has backfired? The reason I ask that is because on the one hand you avoid the comparison with Colin Powell’s presentation to the United Nations, but at the same time, what you’ve ended up with is the sense that no one senior in the administration seems to be willing to go on the record. And I understand that one of the people — not all of the people, but one of the people would have been unable to brief; the other people wouldn’t have been unable to brief.
MR. SNOW: No, look, again, I think what’s happening is that everybody is trying to create a narrative here of something that’s — look, the problem before, nobody found weapons of mass destruction. You cannot say that nobody didn’t — nobody found explosively formed penetrators. You’ve got pictures of the things. You know where they came from. There is no doubt about the central fact here: that you have an explosive device that’s being used to kill Americans.
So what everybody is trying to figure out now is what General Pace meant — it’s now being devolved into a process argument that overlooks the key fact, which is that weaponry made its way from Iran into Iraq and it’s killing Americans, and we’re going to try to stop the killing of Americans.
Q Well, isn’t the key fact really not only that, but the key fact is, who is sending the weapons into Iraq?
MR. SNOW: Well, again, there is evidence that links Quds force to it. Now, again, the question —
Q Direct evidence?
MR. SNOW: I’m not going to characterize — let me put it this way, I will push all the evidentiary questions to DNI, but the finding of the intelligence community is that it’s, in fact, linked to the Quds forces.