Posted by Jeff Huber
The echo chamber has kicked into high gear on the "proof" that Iran has been sending weapons into Iraq. Here's how this latest propaganda campaign evolved, and how two of our most "trusted" news sources enabled it.
On Saturday, February 10, the New York Times ran a story by Michael R. Gordon titled "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.
That's some assertion, especially considering that it's sourced to the nameless, faceless "United States Intelligence." Gordon also wrote that, "The assertion of an Iranian role in supplying the device to Shiite militias reflects broad agreement among American intelligence agencies, although officials acknowledge that the picture is not entirely complete."
No, it's not entirely complete. And it doesn't look entirely on the up-and-up either. Gordon also said that "The Bush administration is expected to make public this weekend some of what intelligence agencies regard as an increasing body of evidence pointing to an Iranian link, including information gleaned from Iranians and Iraqis captured in recent American raids on an Iranian office in Erbil and another site in Baghdad."
Lo and behold, this story by Joshua Partlow appeared on Sunday at the Washington Post web site.
Iran Sending Explosives to Extremist Groups in Iraq, Officials Say
By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, February 11, 2007; 1:54 PM
BAGHDAD Feb 11 -- Iranian security forces, taking orders from the "highest levels" of the Iranian government, are funneling sophisticated explosives to extremist groups in Iraq, and the weapons have grown increasingly deadly for U.S.-led troops over the past two years, senior defense officials said Sunday in Baghdad.
Once again, we had allegations being made by unnamed "senior defense officials" who included an "unnamed" weapons expert. But there's even more monkey business involved in this WaPo story.
Sunday afternoon, I raised holy Hamas about Partlow's story at Pen and Sword and elsewhere, and included a link to the Partlow article. Monday, in the process of preparing this article, I clicked on the hyperlink, and to my shock and awe I found this:
Military Ties Iran To Arms In Iraq
Explosives Supplied To Shiite Militias, U.S. Officials Say
By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, February 12, 2007; Page A01
BAGHDAD, Feb. 11 -- Senior U.S. military officials in Iraq sought Sunday to link Iran to deadly armor-piercing explosives and other weapons that they said are being used to kill U.S. and Iraqi troops with increasing regularity.
Thinking I may have somehow made a mistake, I went to the WaPo site and searched Joshua Partlow." The search results included one link to Partlow's February 12 story and two links to his February 11 story. Funny thing--both links to the February 11 story led to the February 12 story.
It looks like the grownups came in on Monday morning, saw the February 11 story, and said, "What the hell have we done?" So they had Partlow or someone else (Danfa Linzer, it looks like) rewrite the Feb 11 story to include the responsible disclaimers and skepticism that should have been in the article in the first place.
With so much official U.S. buildup about the purported evidence of Iranian influence in Iraq, the briefing was also notable for what was not said or shown. The officials offered no evidence to substantiate allegations that the "highest levels" of the Iranian government had sanctioned support for attacks against U.S. troops. Also, the military briefers were not joined by U.S. diplomats or representatives of the CIA or the office of the Director of National Intelligence.
And they "disappeared" Partlow's original version of the article. This stuff's straight out of George Orwell and Joseph Heller.
I'm almost willing to give Partlow a pass on his journalistic incompetence. What the heck, he was just a WaPo intern as recently as 2003. But who in the hell at WaPo was giving him editorial guidance over the weekend? A graduate from the intern class of 2002?
Michael R. Gordon of the Times, though, doesn't have an excuse. He has a long history as his paper's chief military correspondent, as well as a history for helping the Bush administration "spread the word." As Editor and Publisher noted about his Saturday article:
Michael R. Gordon, [is] 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.
The same neo-conmen who duped us into the Iraq misadventure are pushing us into another woebegone war with Iran, and the same media outlets who aided and abetted them the last time are doing it again. With "free press" sources like the Washington Post and the New York Times, who needs Fox News?
And by the way--those pictures of mortar rounds and such you're seeing on television? They're out of an Army Field Manual. No cameras were allowed at the "briefing" Partlow and the other stooges attended in Baghdad.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.