ANYTHING TO KNOCK NANCY PELOSI OFF THE FRONT PAGE
Well, we all knew the Bush administration wanted this, but I didn't foresee that the idea would be floated again to coincide precisely with the start of business in the new Congress:
ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.
Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear "bunker-busters", according to several Israeli military sources.
The attack would be the first with nuclear weapons since 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Israeli weapons would each have a force equivalent to one-fifteenth of the Hiroshima bomb.
Under the plans, conventional laser-guided bombs would open "tunnels" into the targets. "Mini-nukes" would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout.
"As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished," said one of the sources....
This is clearly a Bushie leak -- the story appears in Rupert Murdoch's Times of London and is plugged by freelance Murdoch/Bush publicist Matt Drudge; elsewhere in Murdoch Land, Ralph Peters picks precisely this moment to suggest that a Navy admiral has been picked to head CentCom because the Navy will have the most critical job (protecting oil facilities) in the event of an attack on Iran; and, moreover, the rollout is precisely now, when Bush wants to show he's the political alpha dog -- so why does the Times insult our intelligence with nonsense like this?
Sources close to the Pentagon said the United States was highly unlikely to give approval for tactical nuclear weapons to be used. One source said Israel would have to seek approval "after the event", as it did when it crippled Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak with airstrikes in 1981.
Oh, yeah, right -- the administration will be appalled.
This isn't just a matter of Bush trying to remain the center of attention, of course. Except for the Rummy part, Seymour Hersh was right last summer:
My friends increasingly see [Bush] as messianic, in terms of his desire, at some point, to do something about Iran. And if you ask me what I really think, the time to be frightened is when he's a lame duck after the November elections, whether the Democrats grab the House or Senate or not. I think this president, with two years to go and the end of his presidency coming up, and Cheney still around and Rumsfeld still around, will be a really most interesting figure.
But the timing is just too perfect. And in case you don't think being the center of attention is a huge motivating factor for Bush, there's this additional reminder from Frank Rich today:
...President Bush, who once hustled from Crawford to Washington to sign a bill interfering in Terri Schiavo's medical treatment, remained at his ranch last weekend rather than join Betty Ford and Dick Cheney for the state ceremony in the Capitol rotunda.
He would have been the second most respectied person in the room. And I guess he just couldn't bear that.
UPDATE: In case I didn't make myself clear, this is Bush (rather than Olmert) trying to be the center of attention because it's obviously his plan, being leaked on his timetable. It's being described as Israel's plan, but nobody believes that.
FURTHER UPDATE: If what I'm saying still isn't clear, let me add what I just posted in comments: The point is not that this plan is new or surprising; the point is that it's being announced now. Not only are the Israelis our possible surrogates in the war on Iran, they're now Bush's surrogates in the war on Democrats.