Iranian Bombs and Aluminum Tubes

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U.S. accusations that Iran is shipping superduty IEDs into Iraq remind me, curiously, of the debacle over the aluminum tubes that were allegedly destined for Iraq's nuclear weapons program.

You may recall the tubes, which Condi Rice insisted were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs" but which were actually suited only for rocketry. Shipments of the tubes were actually labelled "rocket." And the IAEA declared: "It may be technically possible that the tubes could be used to enrich uranium, but you'd have to believe that Iraq deliberately ordered the wrong stock and intended to spend a great deal of time and money reworking each piece."

But at the time administration officials saw only what they were looking for — hypeable evidence of WMD — instead of what was clearly in front of their eyes.

Flash forward to this week, and U.S. officials are showing off shipments of roadside bomb-making equipment, which allegedly originated from Iran. But check out the actual goods intecepted, as reported by the New York Times:

The boxes appeared to contain shipments of tubes directly from factories in the Middle East, none of them in Iran. One box said in English that the tubes inside had been made in the United Arab Emirates and another said, in Arabic, "plastic made in Haditha," a restive Sunni town on the Euphrates River in Iraq.

Raises eyebrows, doesn't it?