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Is Bush Stopped in His Tracks on Iran?

Posted on Dec 16, 2007

By Chris Hedges

This column was originally published by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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The release of the National Intelligence Estimate concerning Iran’s nuclear status marks the latest in a series of assaults by the Pentagon and the intelligence community against the war posturing of the Bush administration.

President Bush, seven years after assuming power, may finally be halted in his tracks—not by a resurgent Democratic opposition, sagging opinion polls, or an organized antiwar movement, but by the entrenched power structure in Washington he set out to emasculate. The tug of war between those within the administration who advocate as many as 1,000 air strikes on suspected Iranian nuclear facilities and those who oppose an attack will be the most dramatic battle of the final Bush years.

Director of Central Intelligence Gen. Michael V. Hayden and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have turned out to be formidable foes to the Bush agenda of preemptive war in the Middle East. Gates, along with Adm. William Fallon, commander of U.S. Central Command, and Gen. George Casey, the Army’s new chief of staff, are openly opposed to a war with Iran. And they will not, unlike their predecessors, permit the Bush White House to use cooked and fabricated intelligence to whip the country into war frenzy.

The effort by the vice president’s office to change or suppress the NIE report, which was ready during the summer and stated that Iran had halted its attempt to develop nuclear weapons four years ago, has consumed the internal mechanisms of government for the last few weeks. The existence of the report did nothing to prevent either Bush or Vice President Cheney from asserting before it was made public that Iran was working to develop a nuclear weapon and could trigger, in the president’s words, “World War III.”

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Bush called on Iran on Tuesday to explain why it had a secretive nuclear-weapons program, and he warned that “for the sake of world peace,” no such efforts should be allowed to flourish.

“Iran is dangerous,” Bush said after an Oval Office meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. “We believe Iran had a secret military-weapons program, and Iran must explain to the world why they had such a program.”

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is also determined to prevent Iran from developing facilities that could produce a nuclear weapon. And Olmert insists Bush is on board, even if top U.S. generals and intelligence officials are not.

Repeatedly during Bush’s presidency, the Israeli government, with strong backing from the White House, has turned to force rather than diplomacy to further Israeli interests in the Middle East. Israel unleashed a disastrous bombing campaign against Lebanon last year. This Sept. 6 it carried out air strikes against a Syrian facility that it said was meant to develop nuclear material. Israel has quarantined the 1.4 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and imposed draconian cuts in electricity and fuel. During the Bush years, the effort to negotiate a solution to the Palestinian conflict has never gone beyond the photo opportunities that characterized the charade in Annapolis, Md. Israel, like Washington, prefers to speak to its adversaries in the language of violence. A strike on Iran fits neatly into this pattern.

“At the beginning of the month, as you know, the National Intelligence Council of the United States published its updated estimation of Iran’s intentions and capabilities in the nuclear field,” Olmert told the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies on Tuesday. “I attribute great importance to the declaration by the president of the United States, George Bush, that nothing has changed; Iran was and remains dangerous, and we must continue the international pressure with full force to dissuade Iran from its nuclear tendencies. I trust and am confident that the United States will continue to lead the international campaign to stop the development of a nuclear Iran.”

White House lawyers conceivably could use the 2001 congressional authorization to use military force against Afghanistan and the 2002 authorization to use force against Iraq to justify an attack on Iran without going back to Congress for approval. The 2001 resolution gave the president the right to use force against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and anyone who “harbored such organizations or persons.” The 2002 resolution handed the president the power to defend the country against “the continuing threat posed by Iraq.”

The allegations that Iran is involved in supporting and arming insurgents in Iraq, along with the designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, could be twisted by White House lawyers to legitimize air strikes against Iran.

“This unexpected bump in the road has, in my opinion, stimulated the Bush administration to develop its own new rationale to justify what will in effect be a full-speed-ahead continuation of past and present policy toward Iran, almost as if the NIE issue had never intervened,” said Ray Close, a retired Middle East specialist for the CIA.

The Bush White House has tried to use the report to assert that Iran remains intent on acquiring nuclear weapons and is a threat.

“Convinced that they have been viciously sabotaged by a partisan anti-Bush intelligence community, and desperate to justify the basic philosophy and doctrine that underlies their specific policies, these people are painfully wounded and thus in a dangerous frame of mind,” Close said. “With hopes for a strengthened international sanctions regime fading, and no reasonable excuse available for launching an early preventive military attack, but with their pride deeply injured and their nerves sandpapered raw, I would not be surprised at all to see a heightened level of provocative and threatening rhetoric emanating from the White House in the months ahead.”

The covert operations taking place in Iran, if they are stepped up, could provoke retaliatory acts by Iran against U.S. personnel or facilities in Iraq or the Gulf. Any action by Iran deemed by the Bush White House to be hostile to the United States or Israel could, Close argues, be instantly seized upon by the president to carry out air strikes against Iran. This could ignite a deadly chain reaction.

“I think the publication of this NIE, rather than cooling the atmosphere, as many analysts predict,” Close warned, “is actually going to lead to a more dangerous and unstable situation in the region in the months and years ahead.”

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By Marshall, December 20, 2007 at 3:55 am Link to this comment

#121406 by Fadel Abdallah on 12/19 at 8:18 pm

<<So the danger of Iran’s developing nuclear capability is obviously dangerously overstated to serve the colonial ambitions of Israel and the USA.

Moreover, just for the sake of argument, if the United States could live with a nuclear Soviet Union or a nuclear China, and if it can tolerate a nuclear Pakistan and embrace a nuclear India and keep cowardly and hypocritically silent about Israel’s own nuclear arsenal, then it could certainly live, however reluctantly, with a nuclear Iran as well.>>

Fadel, you’re missing the point of non-proliferation policy.  The more countries that have nukes, the more countries that will embark on their own programs.  It’s called an arms race, and it exponentially raises the possibility of nuclear war, accidents, and nukes falling into terrorist hands.

It’s why we’re trying to put the genie back in the bottle with NK, and why the world - not just the US - has a crucial interest in preventing other countries from going nuclear.  As to Iran’s danger to the US; it’s not so much the likelyhood that it would attack us directly, but that it would supply nuclear weapons to those groups who would.

This is not an issue we can just “live with”.

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By Fadel Abdallah, December 19, 2007 at 9:18 pm Link to this comment

The NIE report is important in the sense that it will show if Israel controls America or America uses Israel. Obviously, Israel is the only entity in the world that is badly itching to see Iran bombed, of course, besides the military-industrial complex and the Christian-Zionists. If Iran is attacked, despite the NIE report, then it will proof to the world that Israel, through its lobby, does really control the USA foreign policy. And it’s then that John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s, THE ISRAEL LOBBY and U.S. FOREIN POLICY, would make the most factually documented book that was ever produced.

Iran’s president Ahmadinajad might be a revolutionary firebrand, but he is not stupid to contemplate developing nuclear capabilities to use against either Israel or the USA, because he knows well, as all the world knows, that both Israel and the USA have the most deadly nuclear weapons evil humanity have ever developed,  huge arsenals of them that they cannot ever match even after a century of producing their own. So the danger of Iran’s developing nuclear capability is obviously dangerously overstated to serve the colonial ambitions of Israel and the USA.

Moreover, just for the sake of argument, if the United States could live with a nuclear Soviet Union or a nuclear China, and if it can tolerate a nuclear Pakistan and embrace a nuclear India and keep cowardly and hypocritically silent about Israel’s own nuclear arsenal, then it could certainly live, however reluctantly, with a nuclear Iran as well.

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By wasabinoir, December 19, 2007 at 12:18 am Link to this comment

Mr. Hedge’s commentary buttresses my argument that various political forces attempt to game the system by the manipulating policy (intimidation of civil servants who must implement policy) in a number of areas, especially vis-a-vis the intelligence agencies. Further, this NIE shows that a strong bureaucratic class in a country can be a leveler of potential extreme policy shifts.  The story of America’s success as a democracy can, at least partially, be explained in the negative; we are free to be protected from extremism. Thank goodness.

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By Marshall, December 18, 2007 at 10:48 pm Link to this comment

Bush ordered the NIE, as he did in 2002, and - like then - has publicly accepted its findings.  It’s rather amusing how so many here insist on finding fault nonetheless.

Keeping the pressure on Iran, which had a secret nuclear weapons program until 2003, would be the obvious policy choice.  Iran has purchased missile technology from NK, nuclear technology from the Kahn network, and could easily decide to resurrect its weapons program as its regional ambitions grow.  If you believe this shouldn’t be allowed to happen, then its hard to make a case against continued pressure (which amounts to nothing unless it has teeth) on Iran.

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By lastdaywatchers, December 18, 2007 at 2:36 pm Link to this comment

The Question is “Is Bush Stopped in His Tracks on Iran?
and the answer id YES

It not because of the “NIE” report, it is because of what the May 15th Prophecy been saying since May, well before the “NIE” report

Here is a example from a excerpt below

“It is the Spirit of Iniquity that continue to uplift the Ummah and reduse the “moderate Sunni Muslim”.

It doesn’t matter that the Sunni outnumber the Shia 10 time over or the fact that they have the backing and help of the United States.

They will not be able to stop the influence that is emitting out of Iran, which is the Spirit of Iniquity by the Son of Satan.

For more go to
http://lastdaywatchers.blogspot.com/

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lastdaywatchers's avatar

By lastdaywatchers, December 18, 2007 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment

The Qustion is “Is Bush Stopped in His Tracks on Iran?
and the answer id YES

It not becasuse of the “NIE” report, it is because of what the May 15th Prophecy been saying since May, well before the “NIE” report

Here is a example from a excerpt below

“It is the Spirit of Iniquity that continue to uplift the Ummah and reduse the “moderate Sunni Muslim”.

It doesn’t matter that the Sunni outnumber the Shia 10 time over or the fact that they have the backing and help of the United States.

they will not be able to stop the influence that is emitting out of Iran, which is the Spirit of Iniquity by the Son of Satan.

For more go to
http://lastdaywatchers.blogspot.com/

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By Jon, December 18, 2007 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Bush called on Iran on Tuesday to explain why it had a secretive nuclear-weapons program, and he warned that ‘for the sake of world peace,’ no such efforts should be allowed to flourish.”

First, Chris Hedges needs to get his facts straight.  The president said, “nook-you-lur” and not “nuke-lee-ur” as was reported.  Really, one of the president’s advisors (or maybe his wife or even his mother) needs to stick his or her neck out and explain to him how difficult it is for people to take seriously anything he says when he appears unable to master a three-syllable word.  The “good ol’boy” thing may be cute, even charming in a way, when you’re the governor of Texas pretending to be a cowboy, but for the president to continually mispronounce a word he uses so often comes off as practiced ignorance.
Second, the president’s advisors need to remind him of the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, a doctrine which he subscribed to personally last I knew.
Third, the president’s advisors need to remind him how many enemy nations have NOT attacked the United States, ever, because they believe we might possibly retaliate with nuclear weapons.
Fourth, the president’s advisors need to remind him that, “What works for the goose…”

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By dihey, December 18, 2007 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

The NIE has not “stopped” the Bush administration from attacking Iran. I am absolutely certain that we will eventually learn that it was the top leadership of our Armed Forces who “stopped” Bush long before the NIE became public. The AF brass knows very well the admonition of von Clausewitz that armies hate to be abused for the personal adventures of their commander-in-chief, in that case the King of Prussia.

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By sns, December 18, 2007 at 10:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well Russia is delivering the nuclear fuel to Iran. So a nuclear power plant (bad idea in ANY country) is immanent. Unless of course it’s bombed. But Putin, when last in Tehran, EXPLICITLY announced a “new cold war” with the West.

So who’s stopped in what tracks now? And Clinton is just, in Nader’s words, another bad Republican. In fact, I’d love to see her get elected, which won’t happen, and essentially continue the Bush agenda. Hillary will be so gung-ho to invade Iran—but what to do w/ Russia? Or China for that matter? They have a lot to loose…..they are tired of losing…...It’s not that black and white…..though i’m not a big fan of a theocracy w/ nukes….

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By Douglas Chalmers, December 18, 2007 at 2:26 am Link to this comment

Weak, Truthdig. The topic today should be the fake support from the West for a Palestinian state. Supporting Fatah against Hamas with $billions is just another wedge…....

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By driving bear, December 18, 2007 at 12:17 am Link to this comment

I came across a article from townhall.com that states because of the NIE report the USA will be more likely to go to war with Iran
here is a link to it.


http://www.townhall.com/columnists/DanielPipes/2007/12/11/that_nie_makes_war_against_iran_more_likely

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By Ga, December 17, 2007 at 10:05 pm Link to this comment

Google “May 15th Prophecy”

Yeah, I bit… 548 references to crackpot blog posts… *yawn*

Gee, didn’t May 15th pass already? Or is this like the generational, “Jesus is coming within our life time” fad that crackpots since about the 15th CENTURY have been spouting every generation or so?

Fool.

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By Ga, December 17, 2007 at 9:54 pm Link to this comment

#120726 by Daniel

The “entrenched power structure in Washington” did not stop Bush in his tracks: he did it himself. The NIE Report was made at his request, and he could have easily squashed it.

So, all of the people of the NIC are somehow under Dubya’s control or something?

According to the CIA, a National Intelligence Estimate is “the most authoritative written judgment concerning a national security issue prepared by the Director of Central Intelligence.” Is the CIA controlled by Dubya? By all presidents?

This is from the NIC’s website:

“The National Intelligence Council, now in its twenty-fifth year, continues to produce “estimative” intelligence—forward-looking assessments of national security issues—for senior US policymakers. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the Central Intelligence Group (1946) and the early CIA that succeeded it (in 1947) had an Office of Reports and Estimates (ORE) that wrote estimative intelligence. (ORE-1, issued in July 1946, dealt with Soviet foreign and military policy nearly a year before President Harry Truman declared a US policy of containing Soviet expansionism.)”

Is it all propaganda?

Please, Daniel, I know I can be a prick sometimes on this website, challenging and sometimes even insulting, but you just have to provide something more to back up a statement such as “The NIE Report was made at his request, and he could have easily squashed it.”

Was it really? Could he really?

Sure, the NIEs are made at someone’s “request.” But do you think that they would, like, not ever be made except when the president explicitly requests one?

Here’s more:
http://uspolitics.about.com/od/usgovernment/a/NIE.htm

If I am too naive about this, please, by all means, post some references.

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By Patrick Cummins, December 17, 2007 at 8:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s surprising that so many readers accept the thesis being advanced by Mr. Hedges. I, for one, am not buying - an attack on Iran seems to me extremely unlikely. For a different point of view, I recommend Immanuel Wallerstein’s most recent commentary:

http://fbc.binghamton.edu/commentr.htm

Wallerstein argues that the NIE is the result of a reversal in policy toward Iran that has already occurred.

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By SamSnedegar, December 17, 2007 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment

Billis is correct; it’s about oil.

The attack on Iran will be to neutralize them so we can invade Kuwait, the Emirates, and perhaps Saudi Arabis without a missiled and submarined Iran pitching in to help their arab neighbors when we use our bases in Iraq for staging the attacks on the rest of the arab world.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Bushitter gang of thugs gives a damn about what Israel wants; that is not the point of our bombing Iran. Oil is. Not their oil, the oil belonging to the arabs.

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By VillageElder, December 17, 2007 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment

It’s a rerun of the YBF (you been fucked) forecast ...

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By lastdaywatchers, December 17, 2007 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

The May 15th Prophecy with 100% accuracy has shown how Iran is rising to power and the U.S is losing and will continue to lose power at ALL levels

Here are a few excerpts from the May 15th Prophecy

“Isreal, Britain and the United States will suffer failure in Iraq, failure in Lebanon, failure in Afghanistan, failure in Pakistan failure, and failure with Al Qiada

As God Word has declared highligted by the MAY 15th PROPHECY

“You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you.”

I have yet to even mention anything about Iran or Syria, which they are experiencing and will continue to experience ABSOLUTE FAILURE with!

“There shall be wars and rumours of war”

But you last day watchers keep “watch”

Do a Google search of the of the May 15th Prophecy and you will see for yourself or go to
<b>http://lastdaywatchers.blogspot.com/

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By dick, December 17, 2007 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Israel’s demands trump all else in Washington, and they fit in well with the desire of the power elite for continuous war.War with Iran it will be.

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By purplewolf, December 17, 2007 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

BEWARE THE WOUNDED ANIMAL IS THE MOST DANGEROUS AND EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED OF YOUR PREY.

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By Paul_GA, December 17, 2007 at 9:54 am Link to this comment

If Bush wants war with Iran, I fear he’ll find a way to have his war and shove it down the reluctant throats of the American populace, too. Along with martial law and life-presidency for himself ...

We live in interesting times, friends.

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By Daniel, December 17, 2007 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

The “entrenched power structure in Washington” did not stop Bush in his tracks: he did it himself.  The NIE Report was made at his request, and he could have easily squashed it.  Instead, he realized that he had painted himself in a corner with all his vocifarations against Iran: this time, the backup was not forthcoming.  So, he released the NIE report claiming he had been torpedoed by the State Dept. bureaucrats.

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By Sharon Ash, December 17, 2007 at 7:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well, you know North Korea had to hate that report because if Bush can’t harp on Iran, than it’s back to harping on North Korea.  Bush has to constantly attempt to keep the focus on the bogey man somewhere else, and off of his misdeeds.  I am guessing he is as anxious to see 1-20-09 arrive as the rest of us so he can slither back to Texas and stay.

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By Expat, December 17, 2007 at 4:56 am Link to this comment

The simple answer to the articles question is; hell no!  As for the impotent citizenry of this country; you ultimately get the thing you want/deserve.

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By weather, December 17, 2007 at 3:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As long as the Media deceives and the Israeli Lobby bribes and extorts Iran is a fixed target of distraction.
Iran likes euros, not dollars.

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By Thomas Billis, December 17, 2007 at 2:45 am Link to this comment

Well who is to blame for all this.Us we elected a moron to be President of the US.We could conceivably elect another one of these religious morons who speak to God and get answers and disregard real world concerns.Iran is a big nothing.They have the gross national product of Sweeden and fought for eight years against an army we decimated in a week.Saner people realized early that inject irrational fear into thge baby Americans and they will gladly give up their sons and daughters to fight for oil..The key is oil and because the American media does a piss poor job of informing the American public they go right along with the administration{anybody remember Judith Miller}.How many times have you read that Ahmadinejab is a holocaust denyer.What the hell does that have to do with defending American interests.We should not care if he denies Tuesday as a day of the week.Folks it is a grand strategy for oil.Copernicus solved one of the great mysteries of the universe by putting the sun in the middle of the universe instead of the earth.Put oil in the middle of all this and all comes clear.

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By mary, December 16, 2007 at 10:44 pm Link to this comment

Could it be that those who oppose any strike in Iran don’t want to be part of the destruction of our Democracy.  Could it be these guys don’t want their names ruined in history forever.  I sure hope these guys can control the White House long enough to get rid of these chickenhawks because the Democratic leadership sure can’t!

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By cyrena, December 16, 2007 at 10:32 pm Link to this comment

Chris writes:

•  “White House lawyers conceivably could use the 2001 congressional authorization to use military force against Afghanistan and the 2002 authorization to use force against Iraq to justify an attack on Iran without going back to Congress for approval. The 2001 resolution gave the president the right to use force against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and anyone who “harbored such organizations or persons.” The 2002 resolution handed the president the power to defend the country against “the continuing threat posed by Iraq.”

Then he writes:

“Convinced that they have been viciously sabotaged by a partisan anti-Bush intelligence community, and desperate to justify the basic philosophy and doctrine that underlies their specific policies, these people are painfully wounded and thus in a dangerous frame of mind,”

And, I am so very much afraid that he’s got a really serious point. Does anyone remember back about three or so years ago; there was an article titled “Oh Yes He Would”…I’ll try to find it. Anyway, it was that long ago at least, when the bushies were doing the Iran saber-rattling, to off/on degrees of intensity. (Like they would talk incredible amounts of BS for a while, and then back off slightly, and then rev it up again). Well, at the time, somebody wrote a piece about it, because of course most reasoned minds were SURE there was no way in hell they’d do something so stupid.

The article gave several reasons, explaining why he certainly WOULD. Thinking back on it, it was actually pretty mild, my own thoughts at the time, were that he damn sure didn’t need a reason, because he’d make one up. We’d already seen it with Iraq, because we know there was no ‘faulty’ intelligence there. They LOOKED for somebody (Chalabi and curve ball) to give them something. And, same with Iran, since they’ve been making up the nuke thing since the beginning, and even started to claim that Iran was ‘interfering’ or meddling in Iraq at least a year ago or longer. (So, steadily building up the ‘excuse’ while they were steadily sending battleships and air carriers to build-up in the Persian Gulf and the northern perimeters as well.)
Then, several weeks ago, when Pelosi had her fake interview with Huffington, she claimed that Dick Bush would need an approval from Congress to attack Iran. Then Hillary followed that up with her approval to name the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a ‘terrorist group”. So, she gave them at least one of the outs that they’d need. Chris runs in down well here, because CONCEIVEABLY, they could in fact use that same resolution that permitted the use of force in Iraq. Yeah, it would still be a lie, but when did that ever stop them? I mean they CREATE lies and catastrophes just for this reason.

So, Nancy is a dummy, if she thinks it’ll require Congressional approval. Hillary is all for it. I wonder if it’s occurred to any of them (in Congress) that they could use the same resolution to attack Dick Bush, for arranging 9/11? (the thing says any of 9/11’s perpetrators are subject to attack).
So, maybe they don’t wanna actually ‘attack’ them, but they could AT LEAST impeach ‘em, because that’s the only thing that would stop ‘em at this point..consider what Chris is saying here, about them now feeling cornered and pissed at having the NIE whammy tossed into the works.

Very scary this…Because I agree, they WOULD do it!! It’s been the plan for so long, and Cheney’s already super pissed that it hasn’t taken off yet. Man oh man…

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By 911truthdotorg, December 16, 2007 at 10:29 pm Link to this comment

Please watch this Google video…it will explain why the bush crime family will bomb and invade Iran…just like it did Iraq…this has been the plan for many years. Clinton getting elected just delayed their plans.

The Energy Non-Crisis

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3340274697167011147

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