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On the January 11 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Fox News White House correspondent James Rosen falsely claimed that Bush administration officials "made clear their newly muscular approach to Iran ... will not launch American forces across the border into Iran." In fact, when asked about the possibility at a January 11 hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Bush "isn't going to rule out anything to protect our troops."
As noted by Steve Clemons, the director of the New America Foundation's American Strategy Program, on his weblog, The Washington Note, at a January 11 Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing, the committee's chairman, Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) asked Rice whether a line from President Bush's January 10 televised speech on Iraq signaled that the administration would be conducting military action inside either Iran or Syria. Contrary to Rosen's report, Rice never "made clear" that the administration would not do so:
BIDEN: Last night, the president said, and I quote, "Succeeding in Iraq requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges, and that begins with addressing Iran and Syria." He went on to say, "We will interrupt the flow of support for Iran and Syria, and we will seek out and destroy networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."
Does that mean the president has plans to cross the Syrian and/or Iranian border to pursue those persons or individuals or governments providing that help?
RICE: Mr. Chairman, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs was just asked this question, and I think he perhaps said it best. He talked about what we're really trying to do here which is to protect our forces and that we are doing that by seeking out these networks that we know are operating in Iraq. We are doing it through intelligence. We are then able, as we did on the 21st of December, to go after these groups where we find them. In that case, we then asked the Iraqi government to declare them persona non grata and expel them from the country because they were holding diplomatic passports.
But the -- what is really being contemplated here in terms of these networks is that we believe we can do what we need to do inside Iraq. Obviously, the president isn't going to rule anything out to protect our troops, but the plan is to take down these networks in Iraq.
The broader point is that we do have and we have always had as a country very strong interests and allies in the Gulf Region, and we do need to work with our allies to make certain that they have the defense capacity that they need against growing Iranian military build-up, that they fell that we are going to be a presence in the Persian Gulf Region as we have been, and that we establish confidence with the states with which we have long alliances, that we will help defend their interests. And that's what the president had in mind.
Rosen, however, noted only that Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had said at a January 11 news conference that "we can take care of the security for our troops by doing the business we need to do inside of Iraq."
Rosen also mentioned Biden's comments at the Foreign Relations Committee hearing "warn[ing] Rice that any U.S. military action in Iran will require prior congressional approval." Those comments came just after the above exchange between Rice and Biden.
From the January 11 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
ROSEN: Still, administration officials made clear their newly muscular approach to Iran, suspected of supplying ordnance to jihadists and insurgents in Iraq, will not launch American forces across the Iraqi border into Iran.
PACE: We can take care of the security for our troops by doing the business we need to do inside of Iraq.
ROSEN: Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, the Democratic chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, warned Rice that any U.S. military action in Iran will require prior congressional approval, and that if such a move is made without that approval, he will start a, quote, "constitutional confrontation."