's Jeff Stein makes a neat catch
: the State Department's top Asia official told Congress recently that Iranian officials were in North Korea to observe its missile test firings this July 4. Headlines ensue. Days later, Hill quietly retracts the claim:
âHill . . . told reporters he could not confirm reports that Iranian officials had witnessed the July 4 launches,â the AP said. âHe said he misspoke when he earlier told lawmakers that he could confirm such reports."
Experts Stein spoke with agreed: it wouldn't be unheard of for Iran to watch a North Korean test -- in fact, they did so in 1993. Perhaps Hill was confused about the dates. Perhaps he spoke out of class. Or perhaps the intelligence doesn't actually exist.
However you read it, CQ
's national security editor concludes, the lesson is grim: either U.S. intelligence doesn't know what's going on, a top State official can't keep life-or-death facts straight, or the administration is again attempting to mislead on national security matters.