Monday, January 29, 2007

Iran's Role in Iraq Will Be Exposed

BY ELI LAKE - URL: WASHINGTON — New evidence of Iran's role in Iraq will be made in Baghdad by the chief spokesman for the multinational forces in Iraq, Major General William Caldwell. The Directorate of National Intelligence worked over the weekend to clear new intelligence and information that sources inside the intelligence community said would implicate Iran in deliberately sending particularly lethal improvised explosives to terrorists to kill coalition soldiers.The intelligence community is currently debating whether to make the new evidence, which it plans to declassify, available on the Internet.The plan to present the evidence will coincide with a presentation this week by Ambassador Khalilzad to the press detailing the charges against Iranian operatives affiliated with the country's Quds Force arrested in the last six weeks in three raids. The decision to go public with new evidence on Iran's role in fomenting Iraq's civil war and in working with terrorists killing American soldiers marks a change in strategy for the Bush administration, which has until now provided scant evidence to the public about Iran's role in the Iraq conflict. Since the president unveiled his new war strategy on January 10, leading Democrats have challenged claims of Iran's role and intentions in the Iraq war.For example, Senator Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told the New York Times following the president's speech that he believed it was "Iraq all over again," suggesting the administration was manufacturing or politicizing intelligence to start a war with Iran. More recently, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Reyes, a Democrat from Texas, has said he was going to review the administration's claim that Iran was manufacturing the improvised explosive devices. What intelligence will be declassified, intelligence sources said yesterday, was still being debated. For example, American analysts in the last year have been able to trace serial numbers found on explosive devices used as makeshift roadside bombs back to factories in Iran, linking the Mahdi Army as well as Sunni jihadist groups like Ansar al-Sunna. But all of these details may not be publicly disclosed if such a disclosure would tip off Iran's intelligence services as to how America's intelligence services collect information inside Iran.The protection of sources and methods is only one concern, however, for the directorate of national intelligence. Another issue is political. Some of the intelligence collected in the last six weeks from raids of Iranian outposts implicates the Islamic Republic in funding Sunni jihadists. Making this information public could jeopardize the political standing of some of America's allies that have also forged alliances with Iran out of political necessity. Another factor in the debate is deep disagreements about whether Iran's state apparatus is behind the Quds force, or whether it and the revolutionary guard in general do not reflect the policy of Iran's supreme leader and the rest of the regime. Many Iran analysts argue that there are multiple nodes of power in Tehran, often working at cross-purposes. This view dominated the Clinton administration, which sought to engage the former Iranian president, Mohammed Khatami and his fellow reformers, but not the state's more hard-line leadership represented in the intelligence and security services.

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