Thursday, February 15, 2007

Staying on message: Iran is meddling in everything!

You've really got to hand it to the vice-president's lackeys; they stay on message no matter what the situation. This week's message is that Iran is meddling in Iraq, so when John Hannah, Scooter Libby's former top assistant and now Cheney's national security adviser, showed up in court on Tuesday as a witness for Libby's defense he listed "Iran's meddling in Iraq" as one of the pressing issues in mid-2003 that clouded Libby's memory in his grand jury testimony. Libby's defense team claims there was so much on Libby's plate in spring and summer of 2003 that he just sort of "misremembered" certain events connected to his dark master's efforts to defame Joe Wilson. Hannah testified that, "On certain things, Scooter just had an awful memory."

It appears that Libby wasn't the only one with a bad memory. I don't seem to recall anyone from the administration bringing up the whole Iran-meddling-in-Iraq thing up until just recently. One would think if in 2003 Iran was involved in supplying weapons that were killing American troops we would have heard about it. The Pentagon says over 100 coalition troops have died from these so-called EFPs, so why have they waited so long to do anything about them? When evidence of these EFPs did start showing up in the media, I do remember US government officials downplaying such stories. Back then, I guess, it wasn't politically expedient to whip up the war fever for an attack on Iran.

Nowadays, though, with a Democratic controlled Congress looking into things like the lies that got us into the Iraq mess and actually debating whether we should even be in Iraq anymore, W. & Co. are seeking to change the subject. They've got a full court press going on trying to point the finger at Iran for all the disasters they're responsible for. You can't open a newspaper or turn on the TV without seeing the hand of Iran in everything from sectarian killings in Baghdad to the death of Anna Nicole. It's 2002 all over again.

From the Libby trial; to secret press briefings with secret "evidence;" to downed helicopters, its all Iran all the time. Since the Pentagon is only presenting evidence against Iran in secret briefings, it leaves the door wide open for W. & Co. and their neocon allies to drive gigantic trucks full of innuendo right through it. They can say anything they want -- Iran is harboring al-Qaeda; they're supplying shoulder fired anti-aircraft weapons to insurgents; they're sacrificing little puppies to their heathen gods etc. There's no way to refute it, how do you prove a negative?

That's how the game is played and the media falls right into line. An example of this is an AP story about Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chief's of Staff, contradicting the Pentagon briefers assertions that Iran's top leadership was behind shipping weapons into Iraq, saying he didn't see the hand of the Iranian government in Iraq. Pace said that although some Iranians had been arrested in Iraq and that 'some of the materials used in the devices were made in Iran:'

"That does not translate that the Iranian government per se, for sure, is directly involved in doing this. What it does say is that things made in Iran are being used in Iraq to kill coalition soldiers."

It does? The writer of the news story just goes along with the narrative that the weapons were made in Iran. W. & Co. haven't provided any proof that any of these "sophisticated" weapons coming from Iran are actually made in Iran. They could be coming from anywhere. Borzou Daragahi in an interview on NPR's Day to Day said he asked one of the Pentagon weapon's experts directly if he had any evidence of Iranians manufacturing EFPs and the expert said "No." That's kind of an important point. By not bothering to question these assertions by the administration and Pentagon the media allows them to become facts.

Has anyone questioned W.'s assertion that Iran is providing these weapons to Shiite militias in Iraq? The last time I checked, the insurgents we're fighting in Iraq are Sunnis. And more than likely they're getting their weapons from sympathetic backers in Saudi Arabia and other neighboring Sunni countries. [AP reported in December that: "Private Saudi citizens are giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq and much of the money is used to buy weapons, including shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, according to key Iraqi officials and others familiar with the flow of cash."]

Of the four wars the recently released NIE says are going on in Iraq, the one we're fighting is against the Sunnis. If Shiite militias are planting EFPs that are killing our troops why aren't we going after them? And another important question would be, which Shiite militias are planting these weapons? Is it the Mahdi army or the Badr brigade or some other group? Of course, if they were to come out and say exactly who they're talking about, then it could be fact checked and they wouldn't want that.

W.& and company are not only entitled to their own opinions, they're also entitled to their own facts.


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