Friday, September 28, 2007

Neo-connecting the Dots to Iran

If we've learned one thing about the Bush administration, it's that if at first they don't succeed with a stunt, they'll pull, pull and pull it again until they get away with it. Thus it is that even as Senators Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) and Joe Lieberman (?-Connecticut) attempted to sneak a declaration of war against Iran into the defense spending bill, the military's propaganda machine in Iraq was spoon feeding the press more "evidence" that Iran is helping Iraqi militants attack U.S. troops.

We've seen this sort of thing before.

Have I Got a Used Bomb for You!

On the Senate floor Tuesday, Jim Webb (D-Virginia) called the Kyl-Lieberman proposal "Dick Cheney's fondest pipe dream." (As journalists like Seymour Hersh, Larisa Alexandrovna and Gareth Porter have been telling us, Cheney has been pressing behind the scenes for war with Iran for some time.)

While Lieberman and Kyl were trying to help Cheney realize his dream in Washington, Major General Kevin Bergner, the chief of public affairs in Iraq, invited members of the press to the latest in a series of Iran bashing dog-and-pony shows in Baghdad's Green Zone. Bergner and his staff let reporters see two roadside bombs disguised as rocks that, according to Andrew E. Kramer of the New York Times, "General Bergner said were likely of Iranian provenance."

Likely of Iranian provenance? Likely? What kind of half-seated accusation was that for a U.S. Army general to level at the Iranians while Congress debates declaring war on them? (Perhaps more importantly: Why do media outlets like the New York Times continue to play echo chamberlain for this kind of irresponsible inflammatory rhetoric?)

The rock bombs were part of a display General Bergner had prepared for the reporters that showcased what "the military says is Iranian support for the insurgency." An "American military explosives expert" was "made available" to reporters. This is like a car dealer making one of his own mechanics "available" to inspect the used Ford he's trying to sell you.

The explosives expert said that the rock bombs "were consistent with other munitions of this type suspected of having been smuggled from Iran." The reporters also got to see two mortar shells that the arms expert said "were positively identified as Iranian-made, based on the markings and the design of the tail fins."

And you're sure to be shocked, shocked to learn that the arms expert only spoke with reporters "on the condition that his name not be revealed."

This press briefing in Baghdad was a continuation of a pattern that began to gel sometime around January 2007--also the time that we learned of the Iraq "surge" strategy.

Sound Familiar?

Claims about Iran's intentions to build nuclear weapons had failed to take sufficient traction and the propaganda vector shifted to accusing Iran of arming and training Iraqi militants. Then U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, who was also a charter member of the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century, promised to offer "proof" of "Iranian meddling" in Iraq.

On February 11, Joshua Partlow of the Washington Post was among the members of the press corps invited to a classified briefing that was "the first time during the Bush administration that officials had sought to make a public intelligence case against Iran." Reporters met with anonymous "Senior U.S. military officials" and an unnamed military explosives expert "who would normally not speak to the news media." They were treated to a "display" of "mortar shells, rocket-propelled grenades and a powerful cylindrical bomb, capable of blasting through an armored Humvee." The unnamed officials "said weapons were smuggled into the country by the Quds Force, an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that U.S. officials believe is under the control of Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei." The officials also alleged that the "highest levels" of the Iranian government had directed use of weapons that were killing U.S. troops in Iraq.

By the next day, the "proof of Iranian meddling" had been received with a "healthy dose of skepticism." Even General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted there was no evidence he knew of to support the claim that Iran's government was involved in aiding Iraqi militants.

In normal times, such negative results would have caused the administration to drop its disinformation effort and try a new stratagem. But these are not normal times, and this is not a normal administration.

Next: The war of words against Iran gains Joe-mentum.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword, ePluribus and Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books, ISBN: 9781601640192) will be available March 1, 2008.


  1. Jeff,

    Thanks. This is getting scary, isn't it? Attacking Iran is real Custer territory. I was happy to see you cite Gareth Port with approval. A bit back over at Information Dissemination, I was defending him again the host, a naval type of the Right Wing (Fox-Wingnut) persuasion. The Host was convinced that Porter was making up all his stories about Admiral Fallon, and got very angry when I defended Porter's credibility.

    I'd certainly call Petraeus an ass-kissing little chickenshit if someone would just give me the chance and was kinda impressed that Fallon supposedly had. Little Gen. Davy is another MacArthur. Look at how he gave Lieberman what he needed to go after Iran.

  2. Anonymous1:34 PM

    Hey, Teheran is just the next stop before we go into Paris and Berlin. We'll liberate the whole world!

    Note that the guy who wrote that article is wired into the Bush administration, and may have been responsible for the Niger yellowcake forgeries. The right wing's response to that forgery is, of course, to scream about Joe Wilson. Far be it from them to actually defend anything they've done.

  3. John,

    Thanks for the link. I got into a private argument over this with a contemporary of mine, a retired naval intel type. He said he couldn't believe one four-star would be unprofessional to speak to another four-star that way, even in private. Hell, that's how those guys talk to each other all the time!


    Yeah, the Times has a way of having reporters welded to the admin's heinie.


  4. Anonymous5:41 PM

    Oh, sorry, Jeff, I was unclear, I meant that Michael Ledeen, who wrote the article I linked in my first sentence, is the fellow plugged into the administration, rather than this Times guy.

    As far as I know, Andrew Kramer is no Judy Miller or Michael Gordon... but he doesn't seem to be distinguishing himself in this article, does he?

  5. Anonymous8:56 PM


    Here's another article I suspect you'll want to check out. Petraeus made the cover of the current issue of The American Conservative:

    Sycophant Savior:
    General Petraeus wins a battle in Washington—if not in Baghdad.
    by Andrew J. Bacevich

    A sample...

    "A great political general doesn’t tell his masters what they want to hear. He tells them what they need to hear, thereby nudging them to make decisions that must be made if the nation’s interests are to be served. In this instance, Petraeus provided cover for them to evade their responsibilities.

    Politically, it qualifies as a brilliant maneuver. The general’s relationships with official Washington remain intact. Yet he has broken faith with the soldiers he commands and the Army to which he has devoted his life. He has failed his country. History will not judge him kindly.

  6. Elvis,

    Thanks for the clarification.


    I have to say I agree with that second paragraph wholeheartedly.


  7. Anonymous5:12 PM

    Speaking as a Swede, I am reasonably sure that a lot of conflict have featured weapons manufactured by us. This does not necessarily mean that we as a nation were supporting Indonesia's war in East Timor (except, you know, by selling them weapons, which is an ethical issue entirely on its own).
    As a matter of fact, weapons manufactured in Sweden have been used by people we emphatically opposed. Should we be concerned about getting 'liberated' if anyone finds a Bofors cannon on the wrong side of the conflict?

  8. Anon,

    You better hope they don't find any Saab Viggens buried in a cache in Anbar! ;-)

  9. Anonymous8:47 AM

    With dubya and his buddies, a dead Saab 93 buried in a junkyard might be enough, if Sweden was sitting on lots of oil.