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One Step Closer

The Senate did something truly appalling last week that got very little attention outside of the blogosphere. It declared war on Iran.

Okay, that not exactly true but the results may be the same nonetheless. On Wednesday, the Senate passed by an astounding 97-0 an amendment (text here) by Sen. Joe Lieberman requiring the Executive Branch to compile reports detailing Iran's role in Iraq. Might sound pretty mundane but some are speculating it may in fact be laying the groundwork for war with Iran. Digby and Dover Bitch had must read posts this weekend and like them, I too am befuddled as to why anyone in Congress would even consider giving this administration any opening whatsoever. Especially in light of their thoroughly Bushian interpretations of legislative authorizations in times past.

Sure, the stock answer from Senators is that this amendment merely requires a report on Iran's activities. And indeed there was a clause added at the last minute saying it is not a declaration of the use of military force.

Yet somehow I have a feeling the Bushies will just skim over that bit in favor of some of the more provocative language including numerous invocations of "murder" in relation to US troops. Any protestations by members of Congress can be dismissed as moot since their vote amounts to an affirmation that they agree with that interpretation. And since the amendment has already prejudged the verdict, it's a safe bet any reports henceforth will simply reinforce that assertion (fixing the intelligence around the policy, as it were).

But not to worry, I'm sure the Bushies will try to resolve this conflict diplomatically, a course long advocated by the President.

Then again...
The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned.

The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: "Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo"...

The vice-president, Dick Cheney, has long favoured upping the threat of military action against Iran. He is being resisted by the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and the defence secretary, Robert Gates.

Last year Mr Bush came down in favour of Ms Rice, who along with Britain, France and Germany has been putting a diplomatic squeeze on Iran. But at a meeting of the White House, Pentagon and state department last month, Mr Cheney expressed frustration at the lack of progress and Mr Bush sided with him. "The balance has tilted. There is cause for concern," the source said this week.

Still think it was a good idea to vote on this amendment?

Update: Meme roundup.

(Filed at State of the Day)

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