Iran: The real news

Beneath the bluster from Ahmadinejad and the bluster from Cheney that dominates the day’s headlines about Iran, the British press is uncovering real news, as opposed to the American media’s simply relating he-said-she-said stories.

The Times of London has a couple of interesting nuggets buried within a story about Tony Blair trying to salvage a legacy before leaving office by declaring that an attack on Iran would be a bad idea.  The story speaks of the fears of senior U.K. officials:

Senior British government sources have told The Times that they fear President Bush will seek to “settle the Iranian question through military means” next year, before the end of his second term if he concludes that diplomacy has failed. “He will not want to leave it unresolved for his successor,” said one.

The same story details what’s shaping up to be a new version of the Cheney-and-Rummy-versus-Colin-Powell melodrama we had before the Iraq invasion:

But there are deep fissures within the US Administration. Robert Gates, the Defence Secretary, who has previously called for direct talks with Tehran, is said to be totally opposed to military action.

Although he has dispatched a second US aircraft carrier to the Gulf, he is understood to believe that airstrikes would inflame Iranian public opinion and hamper American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. One senior adviser to Mr Gates has even stated privately that military action could lead to Congress impeaching Mr Bush.

Condoleeza Rice, the Secretary of State, is also opposed to using force, while Steve Hadley, the President’s National Security Adviser, is said to be deeply sceptical.

The hawks are led by Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, who is urging Mr Bush to keep the military option “on the table”. He is also pressing the Pentagon to examine specific war plans — including, it is rumoured, covert action.

And while we’re examining parallels between Iran 2007 and Iraq 2002-2003, the Guardian reports that much of the intel on Iran’s nuclear program that Team Bush has passed along to UN nuclear inspectors has been judged by the inspectors to be bogus:

However, most of the tip-offs about supposed secret weapons sites provided by the CIA and other US intelligence agencies have led to dead ends when investigated by IAEA inspectors, according to informed sources in Vienna.

“Most of it has turned out to be incorrect,” a diplomat at the IAEA with detailed knowledge of the agency’s investigations said.

“They gave us a paper with a list of sites. [The inspectors] did some follow-up, they went to some military sites, but there was no sign of [banned nuclear] activities.

“Now [the inspectors] don’t go in blindly. Only if it passes a credibility test.”

Meanwhile, Justin Raimondo speculates that an attack on Iran could prove an ideal diversion should the Scooter Libby jury come back with a guilty verdict and prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald then tries to squeeze Libby to rat on Cheney in exchange for a lesser sentence.