Saturday, January 20, 2007

NY Times: Parallels to Iraq in US strategy on Iran anger senator

The White House's approach to Iran angers a newly empowered Senate Democrat, The New York Times will report on the front page of its Saturday edition.

New Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) "sharply criticized the Bush administration's increasingly combative stance toward Iran," writes Mark Mazzetti for the Times, "saying that White House efforts to portray it as a growing threat are uncomfortably reminiscent of rhetoric about Iraq before the American invasion of 2003."

Rockefeller said the White House "was building a case against Tehran even as U.S. intelligence agencies still know little about either Iran's internal dynamics or its intentions in the Middle East."

Mazzetti quotes the senator as saying, "To be quite honest, I'm a little concerned that it's Iraq again. ... This whole concept of moving against Iran is bizarre."

Excerpts from the Times article follow...
Rockefeller said he believed President Bush was getting poor advice from advisers who argue that an uncompromising stance toward the regime in Tehran will serve U.S. interests. "I don't think that policymakers in this administration particularly understand Iran," he said.

The comments of Rockefeller reflect the mounting concerns being voiced by other influential Democrats, including the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, about the Bush administration's approach to Iran. The Democrats have warned that the administration is moving toward a confrontation with Iran when the United States has neither the military resources nor the support among U.S. allies and members of Congress to carry out such a move.

As one of only a handful of lawmakers with access to the most classified intelligence about the threat from Tehran, Rockefeller's views carry particular weight. He has also historically been more tempered in his criticism of the White House on national security issues than some of his Democratic colleagues.

Rockefeller was biting in his criticism of how Bush has dealt with the threat of Islamic radicalism since the Sept. 11 attacks, saying he believed that the campaign against international terrorism was "still a mystery" to the president.

"I don't think he understands the world," Rockefeller said. "I don't think he's particularly curious about the world. I don't think he reads like he says he does."


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