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Bush Tells a Tale

CNN reports: "Sen. Joseph Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warned Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Bush did not have the authority to send U.S. troops on cross-border raids.

"'I believe the present authorization granted the president to use force in Iraq does not cover that, and he does need congressional authority to do that,' Biden, D-Delaware, said during a Thursday hearing on Iraq. 'I just want to set that marker.' . . .

"White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told CNN that Bush's condemnation of what she called 'Iran's meddlesomeness' was an important signal to the region.

"'Surely the United States is not the one being threatening,' she said. 'We are not the ones being meddlesome and troublesome in Iraq.'"

From yesterday's press briefing by National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe:

"Q One last question. There's some concern about the operation in Iraq last night that involved some Iranian nationals, that this could be construed as an act of war, going on sovereign territory. Can you respond? What's the President's thought about that?

"MR. JOHNDROE: I can't -- I'm not going to speak specifically to the Iranians and to that operation today. But the President made it clear last night that we will not tolerate outside interference in Iraq. And that's what the Iranians are up to. And if we get information that is actionable that the Iranians are interfering with Iraq, with Iraqis, or in any way going to harm Americans that we're going to take action.

"Q Even if it means going on Iranian soil?

"MR. JOHNDROE: No, Chairman Pace said this morning that these are actions that take place within Iraq, and much of this is about force protection of our troops there, and that takes place inside Iraq."

But Farah Stockman writes in the Boston Globe: "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refused yesterday to rule out cross-border US military action against Iran, a day after President Bush pledged in a major speech to 'seek out and destroy' Iranian and Syrian networks providing weapons and training to anti-American forces in Iraq.

"Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Rice said the United States plans to target the networks inside Iraq, but added, 'obviously the president isn't going to rule anything out to protect our troops.'"

And Tony Snow, talking to conservative blogger and radio host Hugh Hewitt yesterday, kept all his denials of an attack on Iran in the present tense.

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