Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 10, 2007

New Anti-Iranq Propaganda

At least three new pieces of U.S. distributed anti-Iran propaganda came out today. The new push of false accusation goes into two directions or meme.

  1. Iran is providing weapons to Iraqi insurgents
  2. Iran is aligning with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban

We can be sure that more stuff feeding these meme will follow tomorrow to fill the echo-chambers of Sunday news shows and to burn them into the US public mind.

The first direction is following a proven path. The New York Times has Michael A Gordon writing: Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says

The most lethal weapon directed against American troops in Iraq is an explosive-packed cylinder that United States intelligence asserts is being supplied by Iran.

As you will see, this is of course pure bullshit.

In general, what is the most lethal stuff? In any normal frame one would suggest it's the stuff that kills the most people. In this case the described infrared triggered, chained, shaped charges have been used very seldom.

But the report, based only on anonymous US officials is written by the same Michael Gordon who presented us with headlines like: BAGHDAD'S ARSENAL; White House Lists Iraq Steps To Build Banned Weapons and THE IRAQIS; U.S. SAYS HUSSEIN INTENSIFIES QUEST FOR A-BOMB PARTS. Both pieces were written by Gordon together with Judith Miller.

It is "aluminum tubes" all over again. When Gordon writes stuff like this, he is just repeating but never questioning the ridiculous assumptions whispered to him:

According to American intelligence, Iran has excelled in developing this type of bomb, and has provided similar technology to Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon. The manufacture of the key metal components required sophisticated machinery, raw material and expertise that American intelligence agencies do not believe can be found in Iraq. In addition, some components of the bombs have been found with Iranian factory markings from 2006.

There is nothing sophisticated with shaped charges. These are known and used since world war one. To convert, let's say a regular 155mm artillery grenade into a shaped charge, one needs a piece of solid copper and a lathe or a hydraulic metal press. If those are not there hammer and anvil will do too. These materials and the tools are well available in Iraq. Any half competent mechanic can produce these things.

Gordon also writes:

American military officers say that attacks using the weapon reached a high point in December, when it accounted for a significant portion of Americans killed and wounded in Iraq.

Indeed, which is based on Pentagon reports, does count 71 soldiers killed by IEDs during last December.

But 41 of those died in or near Baghdad and north-east thereof, another 21 died in the western Sunni Anbar province. Gordon's sources say the shaped charge weapon is mostly used by Shia in the south and was very deadly during December. How does this fit the facts?

It does not, but stenographer Gordon does not care to do those 10 minutes of research that it took me to debunk the claim.

The second meme is announced in a piece in the Washington Post which has some saner reporting than the NYT and debunks the administration take at least in part. But the implementation of meme is still supported by this as it is by an article in the British Guardian.

The Post: Al-Qaeda Suspects Color White House Debate Over Iran

Last week, the CIA sent an urgent report to President Bush's National Security Council: Iranian authorities had arrested two al-Qaeda operatives traveling through Iran on their way from Pakistan to Iraq. The suspects were caught along a well-worn, if little-noticed, route for militants determined to fight U.S. troops on Iraqi soil, according to a senior intelligence official.

The arrests were presented to Bush's senior policy advisers as evidence that Iran appears committed to stopping al-Qaeda foot traffic across its borders, the intelligence official said. That assessment comes at a time when the Bush administration, in an effort to push for further U.N. sanctions on the Islamic republic, is preparing to publicly accuse Tehran of cooperating with and harboring al-Qaeda suspects.
The new strategy, a senior administration official said, aims to portray Iran as a "terror-producing country, instead of an oil-producing country," with links to al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and death squads in Iraq.

That turns out be a bit difficult as Iran has been quite helpful and arrested several AlQaeda members. Still the administration presses on. There is also again a fight between the CIA and the Pentagon and there are old UN resolutions threatening everybody who "houses  terrorists" which, in the mind-boggling interpretation of the administration, Iran is doing when it detains purported AlQaeda members.

Since al-Qaeda fighters began streaming into Iran from Afghanistan in the winter of 2001, Tehran had turned over hundreds of people to U.S. allies and provided U.S. intelligence with the names, photographs and fingerprints of those it held in custody, according to senior U.S. intelligence and administration officials.
One official said the CIA and the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency have disagreed over how effectively the Iranians are controlling al-Qaeda members and whether the Tehran government is aware of the extent of al-Qaeda movements through the country.

Nevertheless, administration officials said they are determined to press Iran on the matter.

"We are not convinced that the Iranians have been honest or open about the level or degree of al-Qaeda presence in their midst," said one Bush adviser who was instrumental in coming up with a more confrontational U.S. approach to Iran. "They have not made proper accounting with respect to U.N. resolutions, have not been clear about who is in detention and have not been clear as to what is happening to individuals who might be in custody."

Bush administration officials pointed to U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1373, which state that harboring al-Qaeda members constitutes a threat to international peace and security, and authorize force to combat that threat.

Now on to The Guardian: Surprising partners among Tehran's layer of alliances

In the wake of anecdotal accounts of would-be Iranian jihadists turning up in Afghanistan, western intelligence sources believe official contacts have been made between the erstwhile enemies. Iranian intelligence is thought to be providing some money and training to the Taliban and giving safe passage for jihadists travelling from the Iraqi to the Afghan front.

Seth Jones, a terrorism expert at the Rand Corporation thinktank, who has just returned from Afghanistan, said: "There are indications the Iranians have opened contacts with insurgent groups, including the Quetta Shura (the Taliban command council for southern Afghanistan)"
Meanwhile, the long-standing relationship with Hizbullah offers Iran the potential to threaten US interests much further afield. Tehran helped set up the Shia militia after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and it has since developed a global presence stretching as far as Lebanese communities in Latin America. In the event of an attack on Iran, it could offer Tehran a potent network for reprisals.

The logic of Iran supporting the Taliban after they helped to oust them in 2001/2002 seems a bit far fetched. As is the assertion that Iran allows Sunni jihadists to travel into Iraq to blow up fellow Shias.

While the NYT piece is a straight copy from the campaign on Iraq, the WaPo and the Guardian piece do a bit of balance. Will this help to stop the efficiency of the propaganda campaign?

I do not believe so. Like with the campaign against Iraq the details will be lost as soon as the meme are transferred to 30 second soundbites on cable TV.

But it probably does not matter anyhow. Laura Rozen has an excerpt from a National Journal piece behind subscription walls:

"Even if this PowerPoint presentation eventually gets made public ... what does this show us as to where Iran is really coming from?" [former National Intelligence Council Middle East analyst Paul] Pillar asked. "What is the larger significance? Even if Iranian assistance to an Iraqi group is proven to everyone's satisfaction, the [administration's] policy never rested on that. The policy [is being driven by a] much larger sense of Iran as the prime bete noire in the region, and that is why the administration is trying to put together these coalitions with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the Sunni states, that we've been reading about. None of this hinges [on the Iran dossier]. We are not going to call this off if we can't prove that Iran is furnishing munitions to Iraqi groups...."

Posted by b on February 10, 2007 at 17:06 UTC | Permalink


It's come out that Don Rumsfeld still has an office and a staff of six at the Pentagon.Maybe this is what they're working on.

Posted by: R.L. | Feb 10 2007 17:15 utc | 1

Interesting time-line of events:
1. With some fanfare, admin announces it will release evidence of Iranian involvement in Iraq.
2. Presentation of evidence is delayed, no explanation given, but doubts about the evidences validity seems the likely explanation.
3. Gordon writes BS article and says 'some evidence' will be released 'this weekend', presumably in time for the talking head brigade.
Sounds to me like more inter-intelligence agency squabbling, with the NYT running cover for the Cheneyites end-run.

Posted by: Dick Durata | Feb 10 2007 18:23 utc | 2

dick, in your timeline don't forget they squeezed in the criticism of the previous iraq intel on newsdump friday. little blurp on the screen. all over folks, nuthin happenin here.

Posted by: annie | Feb 10 2007 18:33 utc | 3

laura rosen..

The policy [is being driven by a] much larger sense of Iran as the prime bete noire in the region, and that is why the administration is trying to put together these coalitions with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the Sunni states, that we've been reading about. None of this hinges [on the Iran dossier]. We are not going to call this off if we can't prove that Iran is furnishing munitions to Iraqi groups. ..."

Posted by: annie | Feb 10 2007 19:10 utc | 4

The administration is again redefining its mission in Iraq in order to keep ahead of of the debunking, and or, failure of its previous magic acts. Its the beauty of how the war on terror has been congered up, with its amorphus phantom enemies appearing and disappearing behind the stage set curtain, as the propaganda needs arise. Presto-chango what ever they decide to talk up, becomes the new enemy, and because at this point the U.S. is so universally despised, the list of potential rabbits to be pulled from hats is unlimited.

Posted by: anna missed | Feb 10 2007 19:36 utc | 5

A nice one: New York Times Reveals "Reporter" Michael Gordon Actually Voice-Activated Tape Recorder

NEW YORK—New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller today announced that the paper's longtime staff writer Michael Gordon is not an actual person, but rather a voice-activated tape recorder.

"I'm not sure why everyone didn't figure this out before now," said Keller, pointing to the fact that, in Gordon's 26-year career, all of "his" stories have consisted entirely of transcribed statements by anonymous government officials.

According to Jill Abramson, the paper's Managing Editor, Gordon was purchased for $27.95 at a Radio Shack on West 43rd Street. Describing the situation as "a prank" that had "gotten slightly out of hand," Abramson said the paper had decided to acknowledge Gordon's identity because—after the tape recorder's front page story today, "Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says"—there "was no place left to take the joke."

Keller described how he and Abramson "really had a good laugh" while editing the Iran story, which is based on the following sourcing:
According to the paper's management, the Times plans to keep the tape recorder on its staff indefinitely, given that it does not require health insurance and its voice-activation feature "saves a lot of tape." Indeed, the tape recorder formerly known as Michael Gordon has already filed its own story on the matter, consisting entirely of transcribed statements from anonymous government officials.

Posted by: b | Feb 10 2007 20:26 utc | 6


Rome, 9 Feb. (AKI) - The US is using Iran as a tool to distract attention from Iraq and gain some support in the Middle East from Sunni Arab countries worried about Tehran's rising power in the region, says Columbia University professor Gary Sick, a former National Security Council advisor during the Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan administrations. Yet this strategy and Washington's boosted military presence in the Persian Gulf could lead to an "accidental escalation and confrontation with Iran," Sick told Adnkronos International (AKI) in an interview on Friday.

Sick, who was in Rome to attend a conference on 'Iran's emerging role. An assessment of Iran's regional and international policy," organized by Italian think tank Globe Research, said: "An accidental war is a real danger now."

"My major concern at this point is the US, because we have identified Iran as our enemy and we have increased our military posture in the region [with the US sending a second aircraft carrier to boost its naval strength in the Persian Gulf], the combination of the rhetoric and the military forces could lead to an accidental escalation," said Sick, who has served in the US Navy in the Persian Gulf, North Africa and the Mediterranean.

More at link.

Posted by: markfromireland | Feb 11 2007 2:24 utc | 7

Here we are at Saturday eve on the West Coast, and no sign yet of the 'evidence' that Gordon said would be coming out from the admin this weekend. Will they go directly onto Press the Meat?
Also, as far as the on-line version of the NYT, the article has dropped off the front page, and is pretty well buried in the 'World' section.
Also, for you fellow Cheney watchers, you might get a kick out of this.

Posted by: Dick Durata | Feb 11 2007 2:47 utc | 8

General Odom in WaPo: Victory Is Not an Option

The NIE describes a war that has no chance of producing that result. In this critical respect, the NIE, the consensus judgment of all the U.S. intelligence agencies, is a declaration of defeat.
The public awakened to the reality of failure in Iraq last year and turned the Republicans out of control of Congress to wake it up. But a majority of its members are still asleep, or only half-awake to their new writ to end the war soon.
For the moment, the collision of the public's clarity of mind, the president's relentless pursuit of defeat and Congress's anxiety has paralyzed us. We may be doomed to two more years of chasing the mirage of democracy in Iraq and possibly widening the war to Iran. But this is not inevitable. A Congress, or a president, prepared to quit the game of "who gets the blame" could begin to alter American strategy in ways that will vastly improve the prospects of a more stable Middle East.
Spreading democracy, using sticks to try to prevent nuclear proliferation, threatening "regime change," using the hysterical rhetoric of the "global war on terrorism" -- all undermine the stability we so desperately need in the Middle East.
Realigning our diplomacy and military capabilities to achieve order will hugely reduce the numbers of our enemies and gain us new and important allies. This cannot happen, however, until our forces are moving out of Iraq. Why should Iran negotiate to relieve our pain as long as we are increasing its influence in Iraq and beyond? Withdrawal will awaken most leaders in the region to their own need for U.S.-led diplomacy to stabilize their neighborhood.

Posted by: b | Feb 11 2007 8:07 utc | 9

b, that's one hell of an editorial from odom. wonder if anyone will listen?

dick, more about thatcheney news

Posted by: annie | Feb 11 2007 8:40 utc | 10

Contradicting news:

AP: U.S. Set to Assert Evidence Against Iran

After weeks of preparation and revisions, U.S. officials are preparing to detail evidence supporting administration's claims of Iran's meddlesome and deadly activities. A briefing was scheduled Sunday in Baghdad.

The Iran dossier, some 200 pages thick in its classified form, was revised heavily after officials decided it was not ready for release as planned last month. What is made public probably would be short, and shorter on details than the administration recently had suggested.

So when is this to happen? It's 11am in Baghdad and I have not seen anything yet.
The Washington Post writes: U.S. Keeps Pressure on Iran But Decreases Saber Rattling
[N]ew talking points distributed to senior policymakers in the administration directed them to actively play down any suggestion of war planning.

Such demurrals are not meant to suggest that the administration will stop pressing Iran on several fronts or that it expects Iranian behavior to change soon.
The changed rhetoric also stems from a growing foreign policy "maturity" within the administration, according to foreign diplomats and senior officials who agreed to discuss the issue on the condition of anonymity. They described a new attitude, born of the administration's awareness that the Iraq war has left it with a wide credibility gap at home and abroad and the realization that military action against Iran would strain U.S. capabilities, undercut other goals and possibly explode into a regional conflagration. Internal discussion has also focused on the likelihood that an attack could destroy whatever political plurality exists in Iran by uniting even those opposed to Ahmadinejad in a wave of anti-U.S. nationalism.

Maturity? Oh well ... is anyone believing that?

Posted by: b | Feb 11 2007 9:03 utc | 11

'NYT' Reporter Who Got Iraqi WMDs Wrong Now Highlights Iran Claims

What is the source of this volatile information? Nothing less than “civilian and military officials from a broad range of government agencies.”

Sound pretty convincing? It may be worth noting that the author is Michael R. Gordon, the same Times reporter who, on his own, or with Judith Miller, wrote some of the key, and badly misleading or downright inaccurate, articles about Iraqi WMDs in the run-up to the 2003 invasion.

Let us skip the euphemisms. The man LIED.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Feb 11 2007 13:10 utc | 12

Newsweek: Rumors of War

At least one former White House official contends that some Bush advisers secretly want an excuse to attack Iran. "They intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for," says Hillary Mann, the administration's former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs.
A second Navy carrier group is steaming toward the Persian Gulf, and NEWSWEEK has learned that a third carrier will likely follow.

Posted by: b | Feb 11 2007 13:15 utc | 13

The BBC is currently reporting this story as 'breaking news'...

Posted by: aubanel | Feb 11 2007 14:44 utc | 14

AP now has the Baghdad propagamda show: U.S. officer: Iran sends Iraq bomb parts

BAGHDAD, Iraq - High-tech roadside bombs that have proved particularly deadly to American soldiers are manufactured in
Iran and delivered to Iraq on orders from the "highest levels" of the Iranian government, a senior intelligence officer said Sunday.

The officer, briefing reporters on condition he not be further identified, said that between June 2004 and last week, more than 170 Americans had been killed by the bombs, which the military calls "explosively formed projectiles."

Those weapons are capable of destroying an Abrams tank.

The officer said American intelligence analysts believe the EFPs are manufactured in Iran and smuggled into Iraq on orders from the top of the Iranian government. He did not elaborate.

U.S. officials have alleged for years that weapons were entering the country from Iran but had stopped short of alleging involvement by top Iranian leaders.

The U.S. officer said Iran was working through surrogates — mainly "rogue elements" of the Shiite Mahdi Army — to smuggle the EFPs into Iraq. He said most of the components are entering Iraq near Amarah, the Iranian border city of Meran, and the Basra area of southern Iraq.

Posted by: b | Feb 11 2007 15:06 utc | 15

US accuses Iran over Iraq bombs

it will be interesting to see if they can pull this off. the timing could hardly be worse, Feith is being accused of manipulating "intelligence" on Iraq while working at the Pentagon and now the Pentagon is making similar claims against Iran.

the true believers will slurp this up, but what about the rest of the US? My guess is that we are still around 70% of those in favor of attacking or "taking care of" Iran.

Posted by: dan of steele | Feb 11 2007 15:07 utc | 16

My guess is that we are still around 70% of those in favor of attacking or "taking care of" Iran.

? where did this figure come from? maybe 70% of the electorate, but the people? that seems nuts.

Posted by: annie | Feb 11 2007 20:43 utc | 17

sorry annie, I thought I remembered that figure from some time ago. I may have confused that number with that of the percentage of US citizens who believed Saddam knocked down the WTC.

A recent poll shows that 57% find an attack on Iran somewhat or quite likely.

my apologies.

Posted by: dan of steele | Feb 11 2007 21:52 utc | 18

Regarding Newsweek's snippet: At least one former White House official contends that some Bush advisers secretly want an excuse to attack Iran. "They intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for," says Hillary Mann, the administration's former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs.

Hats off to Hillary Mann! - A pretty strong statement from someone who would know what’s really going on. Gee, I wonder what her future looks like... Oh wait a second; she is a 'former' security NSC Director. Do you think she might be worried about some other type of 'payback'? Bush/Cheney and crew might start playing real 'hardball' after the Valerie Plame fiasco. Don't have time to google or research her name right now, but I would like to congratulate her with an email or something.

Posted by: Rick | Feb 11 2007 22:33 utc | 19

dan, no need to apologize. i just saw one of those polls re iran this morning at msnbc that b linked to @13. go vote!. anyway, huge difference between predicting we will and supporting it. i think americans are pretty fed up w/war at present.

Posted by: annie | Feb 11 2007 23:24 utc | 20

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