Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 17, 2007

McClatchy Falls for EFP PSYOPS Campaign

You will remember the U.S. propaganda campaign around Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. That figure's media picture was build up by the U.S. occupation in Iraq as 'leader of the Iraqi resistance'. That this was propaganda was so obvious that I had no trouble to document and satirize it here back in June 2005. Finally in April 2006 the 'serious' media found out too. Tom Ricks wrote how the Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi:

One internal briefing, produced by the U.S. military headquarters in Iraq, said that [General] Kimmitt had concluded that, "The Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign to date."

After the Ricks story the Zarqawi boogeyman's usefulness had expired and two month later the military claimed to have finally killed him in an air attack.

Last week another PSYOPS campaign was laid to rest. But unlike with Zarqawi this one is buried to keep it alive. And the media, including McClatchy's (former Knight Ridder) Washington Bureau, falls for it.

Since 2004 the U.S. government and military spread a meme about Iran as providing Explosive Formed Penetrators to the Iraqi resistance. Iran has always rejected the allegation. EFPs are machined copperplates used in powerful roadside bombs against U.S. military vehicles.

For quite a while this story has been debunked by reports about EFP manufacturing in Iraq. These were substantiated, while the "Iran provides EFPs" meme was never proven by any evidence.

There were pieces in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and by Reuters. Doubts about the Iran origin of EFPs have also been raised in the New York Times. NBC news had U.S. officials at least partly walking back their claims. The Columbia Journalism Review, Inter Press Service and Newshogger Cernig ran good summary stories including many sources. We also discussed the 'evidence' here.

Still the PSYOPS campaign was kept up and the meme repeated over and over by the usual propaganda (pdf) tools.

A recent New Yorker piece finally pulled the plug. Early October Seymour Hersh wrote:

David Kay, a former C.I.A. adviser and the chief weapons inspector in Iraq for the United Nations, told me that his inspection team was astonished, in the aftermath of both Iraq wars, by “the huge amounts of arms” it found circulating among civilians and military personnel throughout the country. He recalled seeing stockpiles of explosively formed penetrators, as well as charges that had been recovered from unexploded American cluster bombs.

Why would Iran take the risk to provide stuff to the Iraqi resistance when "stockpiles" of said stuff were and are available in Iraq anyway?

This was evidence that the earlier U.S. claims, which were never supported by any physical evidence like a catch at the border, were most likely unfounded. David Kay is an impeccable source on the issue. The military had a serious problem.

After Hersh's story the EFP case had to be laid to rest without saying that it has always been a lie. A casket was needed and a funeral pompous enough to hide the fact that the casket is empty.

In early November Secretary of Defense Gates announced the near death of the patient:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that his understanding is Iran has informed the Iraqi government that it will try to stem the flow of Explosively Formed Penetrators into Iraq.

“I don’t know whether to believe them,” Gates said Thursday. “I’ll wait and see.”

He did not say where he learned of these supposed assurances, nor could he say who in Iran might have made such assurances to the Iraqi government.

Two weeks later we hear the funeral eulogy:

Iran seems to be honoring a commitment to stem the flow of deadly weapons into Iraq, contributing to a more than 50 percent drop in the number of roadside bombs that kill and maim American troops, a U.S. general said Thursday.
Simmons, a deputy commander of Multinational Corps-Iraq, told reporters that the number of roadside bombs either found or exploded nationwide had fallen from 3,239 in March to 1,560 last month.

To bury the "EFP from Iran" meme it is now alleged, without any proof and logic, that Iran has halted a flow of weapons it never provided in the first place.

Why do I say without logic?

General Simmons tries to drag a causality from a stemmed flow of arms to lower attack rates.

But the attack rates in Iraq are lower because the U.S. military is currently buying off the Sunni resistance. The Shia resistance under al-Sadr has been put to a temporary rest for an organizational overhaul. The attack rates in Iraq are lower because the 'surge' is a 'success'.

If the level of resistance is lower, as Petreaus in Congress asserted over and over, the number of roadside bombs must be lower too. That is a primary causality. To now link the lower number of bombs to an alleged stop of an alleged import of weapons does not make logical sense. There are still tons of weapons in Iraq.

Just three weeks ago a weapon cache with 124 ready to use EFPs and 159 additional EFP copper disks was found in Diyala province. How does that fact get along with General Simmons claim about a decrease in EFP uses as a consequence of lower supply from Iran? It doesn't fit.

The Zaqrqawi boogeyman was largely PSYOPS disinformation.
The "EFPs from Iran" tale was a PSYOPS campaign.
The "less attacks because Iran stops EFP-flow" story is part of a PSYOPS campaign.

This is obvious. That's why I am sad that a news outlet like McClatchy's Washington Bureau, with has been a remarkably truthful source on the whole war on Iraq campaign so far, is falling for the story.

Jonathan Landay and Nancy Youssef write: Iran stops sending a deadly weapon to its allies in Iraq

Iran appears to have stopped shipping the deadliest type of weapons used against U.S. troops in Iraq after a European government confronted Tehran with proof that the weapons came from Iranian factories and Iraqi officials warned their neighbor that instability in Iraq affects the entire region, U.S., Western and Iraqi officials said.

The story is based on an unnamed 'Western diplomat' and anonymous 'U.S. intelligence officials'. It includes not a single doubt or caveat on the primary U.S. military assertion of EFPs from Iran to Iraq.

But it includes and confuses (likely false) claims of another weapon flow. This one from Iran to the Taliban in Afghanistan. But again there is no proof at all. Just anonymous sources who have 'interests'.

The cleric Shia Iran helped to install the U.S. supported Karzai government in Kabul and it helped to ouster the puritanical Sunni Taliban who killed their Hazara brethren. How likely is it that Iran would provide weapon to the Taliban? To kill more Hazara? Isn't it much more likely that claims about such weapon smuggling are just another PSYOPS campaign directed against Iran?

Why do Youssef and Landay stenograph such junk claims without any caveat?

Posted by b on November 17, 2007 at 02:34 PM | Permalink


The West have the Great Game, the Arabs/Persians have the Long Game, the US have the Presidential 4 year game. Media is a whore, everywhere.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Nov 17, 2007 5:26:33 PM | 1

And then there is PSYOPS #3, the Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program Which If Not Stopped Will Usher in WWIII (or IV) and Higher GAS Prices!

Well, actually not a Psyops in the stricter sense as it is mostly a White House game, but Juan Cole today points to somebody who has actually read the IAEA report on Iran and what it says is that there is no evidence that Iran has been diverting meaterial to weapons. (Ok, I know youse guys are not exactly surprised.)

Soooo, all we need now is for the Iranians to agreed to stop doing what they haven't been doing and with this great triumph the Codpiece will be able to bring a couple of troops home, give Rice and Gates Freedom Medals and declare World Peace in time for Rudy to win the quad-annual horse races.

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Nov 18, 2007 12:49:13 AM | 2

(Ok, I know youse guys are not exactly surprised.)

that hit mainstream already

Posted by: annie | Nov 18, 2007 1:46:39 AM | 3

And there is the SyrianNuclear Bombing game which has been going for about two months with still absolutely no proof except for some wrecked farm buildings.

And the American Brain Game where Americans continue to claim that Bush has a brain with absolutely no proof or evidence of their claims.

Posted by: johnf | Nov 18, 2007 3:51:34 AM | 4

And there is the SyrianNuclear Bombing game which has been going for about two months with still absolutely no proof except for some wrecked farm buildings.

And the American Brain Game where Americans continue to claim that Bush has a brain with absolutely no proof or evidence of their claims.

Posted by: johnf | Nov 18, 2007 3:51:35 AM | 5

Forget Syria! What I am really worried about is Andorra. All this crap that they only spend five bucks a year on military reaaly stinks!

I know for sure, from sources I cannot reveal, that instead of buying "fireworks" for their national holiday, they are putting the money into drug traffic and the money they get from that will go to a nuclear bomb they are getting on a special offer from North Korea!!!

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Nov 18, 2007 4:27:47 AM | 6

Canada, I tell you! CANADA! A mounting threat! They have the "knowledge" of nuclear technology which "could be" used to make nukes! We can't wait for the mushroom cloud, eh!

Posted by: hass | Nov 20, 2007 9:15:18 AM | 7

@hass - the "better" comparison is Brazil:

- link

"Brazil is now in the position to master the complete nuclear fuel cycle for peaceful energy generation; it has the seventh largest Uranium reserve in the world, possesses two functioning nuclear reactors, and is developing (through a proprietary centrifuge design) a new technology for energy generation," Dirceu said in a recent interview with United Press International
It was the plant at Resende, near Rio de Janeiro, that was featured in the world's newspapers last year when Brazilian authorities balked at allowing U.N. inspectors direct access to the plant's centrifuges, where the uranium is processed.

The Brazilians claimed the centrifuges were proprietary technology they had spent nearly a billion dollars and many years to develop, and which they wanted to protect.

Goncalves believes Brazil has come up with cutting-edge technology on the centrifuges.

The Brazilian enrichment plant is not under full IAEA control, but parts are shut off because of "propriatary technology".

The IAEA makes an "Input-Output" control to see if stuff is diverted but it doesn't know what happens between in and out.

Brazil now also wants nuclear submarines.

It is negotiating with Argentine about "nuclear cooperation" (proliferation?)

A top Brazilian General argues that the country should get nuclear weapons.

“We should be technologically prepared to produce a nuclear device,” said the general. He added, “No country can feel safe if it doesn’t develop technology that enables it to defend itself when necessary.”

[General] Barros Moreira said that Brazil’s resources made it a “target” for foreign aggression. “The world lacks water, energy food and minerals,” he said. “Brazil is rich in all of these. For this reason we must put a strong lock on our door.”

Brazil was already developing a bomb under a secret program but has somewhat abandoned that in 1990's.


The most important nuclear accord between Brazil and Argentina was signed on December 13, 1991, in a meeting attended by Presidents Collor de Mello and Menem at the headquarters of the IAEA in Vienna. The accord is referred to as the quadripartite agreement, because it was signed by Brazil, Argentina, the IAEA, and the ABACC. The agreement allows for full-scope IAEA safeguards of Argentine and Brazilian nuclear installations. It also allows the two countries to retain full rights over any "technological secrets" and to develop nuclear energy for the propulsion of submarines. Brazil's Senate ratified the agreement on February 9, 1994, but only after considerable pressure by Brazil's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Itamaraty).

On May 30, 1994, Brazil ratified the Treaty of Tlatelolco, following the lead of Argentina and Chile, which had ratified it on January 18, 1994. In Brazil, there was an active lobby against the quadripartite agreement and the Treaty of Tlatelolco. Indeed, it took Brazil considerably longer than Argentina to approve those pacts. Brazilian diplomats have argued that the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is discriminatory because it excludes capabilities of those already in the club. Furthermore, some Brazilians argued that the NPT is an infringement on sovereignty and that the current agreements are sufficient and even stronger than the NPT. Nevertheless, Brazil finally agreed in 1997 to ratify the NPT.

Some observers have argued that Brazil is still seeking the technological capability to produce a nuclear bomb, despite the 1991 quadripartite agreement, the full ratification of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and a provision in Brazil's 1988 constitution that bars the development of nuclear energy for anything but peaceful purposes. They note that Brazil's nuclear program is under the primary control of the military, which resents IAEA inspections. Brazil's Senate required a "supplementary adjustment" to the treaty that protects "industrial secrets," possibly the nation's Aramar centrifuge enrichment facilities, from on-site inspections.

You can bet your ass that Brazil will be the next one in the "club" of nuke owners. But the U.S. isn't concerened ...

Posted by: b | Nov 20, 2007 2:58:35 PM | 8

Tom Peters, said in his book "Thriving on Chaos", Customer perception (CP) equals delivery (D) divided by expectation (E). Maximizing CP [by under-promising and over-delivering] is essential in the squishy, real world, where perception of the intangibles is really everything."

However, what would you expect when everything is reduced to perception; where "perception is everything". Brought to us by none other than the masters of deception by the likes of the Tavistock Institute in London, Rand Corp. in Santa Monica, Calif., Systems Development Corp. in Santa Monica, Stanford Research Sunnyvale Calif., Frankfurt Institute in Frankfurt Germany, and several others... elite persuasion strategists.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 20, 2007 3:53:17 PM | 9

Actually, to make things worse - guess who is the biggest investor in Brazil and Argentina's nuclear programs? Their military, thats who.

Posted by: hass | Nov 20, 2007 7:39:34 PM | 10

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