NYT January 13, 2007
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 — A recent series of American raids against Iranians in Iraq was authorized under an order that President Bush decided to issue several months ago to undertake a broad military offensive against Iranian operatives in the country, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday.
“There has been a decision to go after these networks,” Ms. Rice said in an interview with The New York Times in her office on Friday afternoon, before leaving on a trip to the
Ms. Rice said Mr. Bush had acted “after a period of time in which we saw increasing activity” among Iranians in
Ms. Rice was vague on the question of when Mr. Bush issued the order, but said his decision grew out of questions that the president and members of his National Security Council raised in the fall.
The administration has long accused
Until now, despite a series of raids in which Iranians have been seized by American forces in Baghdad and other cities in Iraq, administration officials have declined to say whether Mr. Bush ordered such actions.
The White House decision to authorize the aggressive steps against Iranians in
Iraqappears to formalize the American effort to contain Iran’s ambitions as a new front in the war. Administration officials now describe Iraq Iranas the single greatest threat the United Statesfaces in the Middle East, though some administration critics regard the talk about Iranas a diversion, one intended to shift attention away from the spiraling chaos in . Iraq
In adopting a more confrontational approach toward
In the interview on Friday, Ms. Rice described the military effort against Iranians in
Mr. Bush’s public warning to
Iranwas accompanied by the deployment of an additional aircraft carrier off Iran’s coast and advanced Patriot antimissile defense systems in Persian Gulf countries near ’s borders. Both the White House and the secretary of defense, Robert M. Gates, insisted Friday that the United States was not seeking to goad Iran into conflict, and that it had no intention of taking the battle into Iranian territory. The White House spokesman, Tony Snow, warned reporters away from “an urban legend that’s going around” that Mr. Bush was “trying to prepare the way for war” with Iran Iranor . Syria
Mr. Gates said that the
United Statesdid not intend to engage in hot pursuit of the operatives into . Iran
“We believe that we can interrupt these networks that are providing support, through actions inside the
Ms. Rice’s comments came just a day after the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, issued a sharp warning to the administration about the recent raids against Iranians in