Iran policy divides Bush gang


About a week ago, Steve Clemons raised eyebrows throughout the political world with a report on the “race currently underway between different flanks of the administration to determine the future course of US-Iran policy.” As Clemons described it, Cheney’s team is actively circumventing the president’s team in order to instigate a U.S. conflict with Iran.

Clemons’ report was bolstered by comments from the IAEA’s Mohamed ElBaradei, who told BBC Radio this week that a war with Iran is a serious possibility because of “new crazies who say ‘let’s go and bomb Iran.'” He didn’t identify the “crazies,” but warned of those who “have extreme views and say the only solution is to impose your will by force.”

Like people in, say, the Vice President’s office?

In interviews, people who have spoken with Mr. Cheney’s staff have confirmed the broad outlines of the reports, and said that some of the hawkish statements to outsiders had been made by David Wurmser, a former Pentagon official who is now the principal deputy assistant to Mr. Cheney for national security affairs. The accounts were provided by people who expressed alarm about the statements, but refused to be quoted by name.

Yesterday, Condi Rice insisted that the entire Bush gang is on the same page…

“The president of the United States has made it clear that we are on a course that is a diplomatic course,” Ms. Rice said here. “That policy is supported by all of the members of the cabinet, and by the vice president of the United States.”

…but Rice’s deputies apparently aren’t convinced.

Ms. Rice’s assurance came as senior officials at the State Department were expressing fury over reports that members of Vice President Dick Cheney’s staff have told others that Mr. Cheney believes the diplomatic track with Iran is pointless, and is looking for ways to persuade Mr. Bush to confront Iran militarily.

And what might Cheney’s office have to say about one of his top national security aides (and one of the administration’s most notorious neocons) advocating war with Iran?

[A senior Bush administration official] said, “The vice president is not necessarily responsible for every single thing that comes out of the mouth of every single member of his staff.”

First, that’s not much on a denial.

Second, as Kevin noted, “I’m sure Wurmser will be fired any day now.”