The drumbeat against Iran from the administration has been constant this year -- reaching its highest pitch in February, when anonymous military briefers laid out the case to reporters. The Quds force, an elite military brigade, the administration line went, was channeling EFPs (explosively formed penetrators, a particularly dangerous type of IED) into Iraq to be used against U.S. soldiers.
The complications of the case were brushed aside, but despite an organized media offensive by the administration, it was not a wholly successful campaign. But lately the case has been revived. And now McClatchy reports that Dick Cheney has been pushing for strikes against Iranian forces in Iraq. But don't worry -- Cheney says that the administration ought to wait for "hard new evidence":
Behind the scenes, however, the president's top aides have been engaged in an intensive internal debate over how to respond to Iran's support for Shiite Muslim groups in Iraq and its nuclear program. Vice President Dick Cheney several weeks ago proposed launching airstrikes at suspected training camps in Iraq run by the Quds force, a special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to two U.S. officials who are involved in Iran policy....
Cheney, who's long been skeptical of diplomacy with Iran, argued for military action if hard new evidence emerges of Iran's complicity in supporting anti-American forces in Iraq; for example, catching a truckload of fighters or weapons crossing into Iraq from Iran, one official said.
There is the expected divide within the administration on the question -- with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on the other side. But a Cheney spokeswoman tells McClatchy "'the vice president is right where the president is' on Iran policy."
Note: The Los Angeles Times has an interesting companion to McClatchy's piece this morning, reporting on Bush's continued attempts to convince Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki that Iran is "not a force for good." From Maliki's perspective -- and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's -- things are obviously a lot more complicated.