Let me explain --
(pauses very briefly)-- No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
Admiral Fallon, an Admiral, is put in charge of CENTCOM, which oversees the ground war in Iraq. Did I mention he is an admiral? As many have pointed out, this makes sense if CENTCOM is expecting a naval / aerial adversary sometime soon. There's only one candidate in CENTCOM's theater of operations: Iran.
Patriot missile batteries are to be shipped to Gulf States. What nation has intermediate-range missiles that might soon be provoked into action against nations hosting American forces? Iran.
Israel is said by the Times of London to be preparing a nuclear strike on Iran. For a wide variety of reasons, I consider this completely impossible, and incredibly shoddy reporting. But that someone would want the Times reporting it is significant.
A DKos diarist has dinner with a naval officer deployed to the Middle East.
American forces attack an Iranian consulate, taking prisoners. This follows on the heels last month of our Christmastime detention of Iranian diplomats. nb: this is an act of war, if the consulate is properly accredited. There seems to be some confusion on whether it was.
President George Bush makes the following announcement:
Emphasis added. It is of course an act of war to provide "material support" for a belligerent.
Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.
Senator Joe Biden warns of a "constitutional crisis" in the Senate in case of an attack on Iran. The exchange, with Condoleeza Rice (h/t Steve Clemons):
SEN. BIDEN: Secretary Rice, do you believe the president has the constitutional authority to pursue across the border into Iraq (sic/Iran) or Syria, the networks in those countries?
SEC. RICE: Well, Mr. Chairman, I think I would not like to speculate on the president's constitutional authority or to try and say anything that certainly would abridge his constitutional authority, which is broad as commander in chief.
I do think that everyone will understand that -- the American people and I assume the Congress expect the president to do what is necessary to protect our forces.
SEN. BIDEN: Madame Secretary, I just want to make it clear, speaking for myself, that if the president concluded he had to invade Iran or Iraq in pursuit of these -- or Syria -- in pursuit of these networks, 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. I just want to set that marker.
Roundup of reactions:
William Arkin's take on the Iran rhetoric in Bush's speech last night, and another clue he sees in a Rice interview by Matt Lauer.
Digby thinks we're all in, at the same time pointing us to the take of a retired naval officer on Fallon / CENTCOM.
Josh Marshall wonders if the American public is being let in on where the real escalation is going on.
Steven Clemons says folks in DC tonight are wondering whether the President has signed an executive order to go after Syrian and Iranian operatives in Iraq.
Glenn Greenwald conveniently sums up the case that the Cheney Administration is in fact as insane as they look.
CKR at Whirledview reads the choice of Fallon as head of CENTCOM as a "signal that the administration is running out of people who share George Bush’s delusions."
Steinn Siggurdsson lays out what's known about deployments, and thinks it's not enough, at least not for doing it right...
Billmon is missed.
Update: I found this gem of an article, from William Arkin last April, on DoD planning for a war with Iran. (I wonder if this article is also the origin (through misunderstanding) of this unattributed statement that as of October 2006 CENTCOM has been relieved of responsibility for Iran. Globalsecurity disagrees with this. I sincerely doubt it could be true. CENTCOM's website is currently down to definitively answer this. )