Saturday, March 31, 2007

Do as I say

Not as I do:

President Bush on Saturday said Iran's capture of 15 British sailors and marines was "inexcusable" and called for Iran to "give back the hostages" immediately and unconditionally.

Bush said Iran plucked the sailors out of Iraqi waters. Iran's president said Saturday they were in Iranian waters and called Britain and its allies "arrogant and selfish" for not apologizing for trespassing.

"It's inexcusable behavior," Bush said at the Camp David presidential retreat, where he was meeting with the president of Brazil. "Iran must give back the hostages. They're innocent. They did nothing wrong."

It was the first time that Bush had commented publicly on the captured Britons. Washington has taken a low-key approach to avoid aggravating tensions over the incident and shaking international resolve to get Iran to give up its uranium enrichment program.

Bush did not answer a question about whether the United States would have reacted militarily if those captured had been Americans. The president said he supports British Prime Minister Tony Blair's efforts to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, now in its second week.

Bush would not comment about Britain's options if Iran does not release the hostages, but he seemed to reject any swapping of the British captives for Iranians detained in Iraq.

But strangely, Bush is silent on what we have done with the 5 Iranian diplomats or how they have been treated:

WASHINGTON - As the Western media focus on the fate of 15 Britons detained for allegedly trespassing into Iranian waters, the status of five Iranian officials captured in a US military raid on a liaison office in northern Iraq on January 11 remains a mystery.

Even though high-level Iraqi officials have publicly called for their release, for all practical purposes, the Iranians have disappeared into the US-sanctioned "coalition detention" system that has been criticized as arbitrary and even illegal by many experts on international law.

Hours before US President George W Bush declared that they would "seek out and destroy the [Iranian] networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq", US forces raided what has been described as a diplomatic liaison office in the northern city of Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, and detained six Iranians, infuriating Kurdish officials in the process.

The troops took office files and computers, ostensibly to find evidence regarding the alleged role of Iranian agents in anti-coalition attacks and sectarian violence in Iraq. One diplomat was released, but the other five men remain in US custody and have not been formally charged with a crime.

"They have disappeared. I don't know if they've gone into the enemy combatant system," said Gary Sick, an Iran expert at Columbia University who served in the White House under president Jimmy Carter. "Nobody on the outside knows."

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