Is the Bush Administration mistaking Iran for pre-war Iraq? Recent events certainly sound eerily familiar.

Intelligence experts and counter-terrorism officials say hawkish Republicans are exaggerating the state of Iran’s nuclear program and support for terrorism.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, in particular, said a report by House Republicans contained “erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated information.”

“The dispute was a virtual rerun of the months before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq,” Knight-Ridder reported.

Once again, the offices of Cheney and Rumsfeld are “receiving a stream of questionable information that originates with Iranian exiles,” Knight-Ridder writes.

The head of the infamous Office of Special Plans, Abram Shulsky, now helms a new Iranian directorate at the Pentagon.

And once again, President Bush is addressing the UN General Assembly, calling for sanctions. “Iran must abandon its nuclear weapon ambitions,” Bush said today. (Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, addressing the UN tonight, skipped the speech.)

Bush claimed he’s still seeking a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. But a military option is very much on the table.

Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner told CNN yesterday: “We are conducting military operations inside Iran right now.” And US naval forces have been alerted for deployment.

As improbable as it seems, could an attack on Iran be this election season’s October surprise?