Saturday, April 12, 2008

Presidential Oversight on Iranian Intelligence

U.S. President George W. Bush recently appointed retired General Peter Pace and ex-White House Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend to his Intelligence Oversight Board. This came after inserting Paul Wolfowitz into a key State Department role with weapons of mass destruction intelligence responsibilities. Mr. Wolfowitz's role as an architect of the Iraq War is well known. Could he be plotting similarly against Iran?

If the White House is hell bent on attacking Iran's nuclear sites, with or without Israel, who will provide oversight for any intelligence? Why, the President's Intelligence Oversight Board with Pete and Fran would come into play. What have they said in the past?

U.S. News and World Report reported on the relationship between the Taliban and Iran. The article stated:

Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez, the commander in charge of U.S. military forces in the eastern region of Afghanistan, told reporters this morning that "there has not been any militarily significant aid" coming into the country from Iran.

A year ago, Gen. Peter Pace, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged that Iranian-made weapons were being supplied to the Taliban. It was the first time that such a charge had been made. "We have intercepted weapons in Afghanistan headed for the Taliban that were made in Iran," Pace said last April, adding that it was unclear "which Iranian entity" was doing the shipping of the arms.

Rodriguez appeared to downplay these charges at a video-conference briefing this morning for Pentagon reporters.

Fran's name came up just the other day in a discussion of al Qaeda Management Councils, one of which could be meeting in Iran. The reporter, who originally made the allegations, found himself under heat from a National Intelligence Officers comments discounting his assertions. That's when he invoked Mrs. Townsend's name, always a strong defense.

"You know, Fran Townsend has talked about these management councils in the past, and so have numerous people."

OK, two of the people charged with providing oversight of intelligence have a personal stake in the game. To save their own credibility, the pair could justify the use of force against Iran. That doesn't sound like oversight. It's more like rubber stamping.