Condi vs. The Prince of Darkness

News & Politics
This post, written by Kathy Kattenburg, originally appeared on Shakesville

Michael Hirsh and Mark Hosenball write about the power struggle between Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice over Iran policy, with Rice supposedly favoring diplomacy -- however a Bush acolyte would define that word -- and Cheney pushing hard for war. Here's a particularly telling bit [bolds are mine]:
In the last few weeks, Cheney's staff have unexpectedly become more active participants in an interagency group that steers policy on Afghanistan, according to an official familiar with the internal deliberations. During weekly meetings of the committee, known as the Afghanistan Interagency Operating Group, Cheney staffers have been intensely interested in a single issue: recent intelligence reports alleging that Iran is supplying weapons to Afghanistan's resurgent Islamist militia, the Taliban, according to two administration officials who asked for anonymity when discussing internal meetings.
Historically, Iran and the Taliban have been more often bitter enemies than allies; in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, cooperated with U.S. efforts to oust the Afghan regime that harbored Osama bin Laden. Tehran went so far as to round up Qaeda suspects transiting or residing in Iran for possible deportation to countries (like Saudi Arabia or Egypt) aligned more closely with Washington. In early April, however, British forces operating under NATO command in Afghanistan's wild-west Helmand province stopped a convoy carrying what appeared to be ordnance of Iranian origin intended for delivery to the Taliban. The explosives bore suspected Iranian markings similar to those found on weapons confiscated from Shiite militias in Iraq--and the Brits intercepted another shipment a month later.
An official familiar with the interagency group's deliberations said that Cheney's aides kept asking what sounded like leading questions, demanding to know whether there was any Iranian entity other than the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps--the state security force Washington accuses of arming Iraqi insurgents--that could be responsible for the arms shipments. Cheney's aides, the official added, appeared less interested in other more mundane items on the Afghanistan policy committee's agenda. British officials who asked for anonymity because of the nature of their work emphasize that they lack hard evidence linking the shipments to the Revolutionary Guards, and that the weapons could just as easily have been bought on the black market in Iran. But according to one official familiar with the intelligence on Iranian interference in Iraq, Cheney earlier this year began exhibiting particular interest in any evidence detailing Tehran's aid to anti-American insurgents there.
Hey, why not? Cherry-picking intelligence worked so well in Iraq; why not try it with Iran, too?

Emptywheel notes that Cheney is not at all concerned with any of Aghanistan's continuing war-related problems -- all he cares about is finding evidence that Iran is behind the arms shipments:
Here's what this says to me: once again (or still?) Cheney is ignoring the plight of Afghanistan. But he's using events there in an attempt to drum up inconclusive intelligence with which he can pressure Condi to give up her negotiations with Iran (and Syria).

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