- The Washington Times - Monday, June 15, 2009

EXCLUSIVE, UPDATED:

The 41st president said Monday that the official results of Iran’s election claiming a landslide victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were “weird,” but he cautioned against inflaming tensions with the Islamic Republic.

“It sounded funny when the opponent claimed victory by 60 some percent then the next thing you know he’s on his back, counted out,” former president, George H.W. Bush said on the debut broadcast of the Washington Times America’s Morning News. “There is something weird about it, something strange about it.”

Mr. Bush was first elected to the vice presidency in 1980, a year after the 1979 Iranian revolution, the last time this many Iranians were taking to the street to protest the regime then of U.S. ally, Shah Pahlavi.

Mr. Bush, however, urged that the United States exercise prudence in reacting to the events unfolding in Iran. “They ought to get to the bottom of it,” he said. “And without emotion go forward and see if there is something that can be done from outside without inflaming tensions, we don’t want to inflame tensions with Iran.” He added that President Obama should refrain from making any military threats.

In the interview, Mr. Bush also declined to get into the middle of the latest spat between CIA director, Leon Panetta and former vice president Richard Cheney.

Mr. Panetta told the New Yorker that Mr. Cheney may be hoping for a new terrorist attack on the United States. “When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that’s dangerous politics,” the New Yorker quoted him as saying.

Mr. Bush steered clear of taking any sides in the dispute. “I hadn’t heard about that. I have a very high regard for Leon Panetta and of course I have a very high regard for Dick Cheney, so put it this way I don’t have a dog that fight,” he said.

Mr. Bush also defended his son, the 43rd president, George W. Bush. “I am concerned about the continuing attacks, I don’t like the way the administration keeps making unfavorable references to the 43rd president, but I will tell you this history has a way of sorting these things out,” the elder Bush said of his son.

“I think he is conducting himself with great honor. He is not in there criticizing the president all the time, carping away at him, and I am very proud of the way he is handling it. History is going to sort out the things he may have screwed up and sort out the things he got right. And I think the agenda is going to be very positive and history will treat him very, very well. Cause after all, after 9-11 the country has been safe and a lot of that is because of the way the administration conducted itself.”