Thursday, October 05, 2006

Intelligence Vs Evidence: No Iran Arms Involvement Found

Back in August, the media and rightwing blogs were full of the tale of the British troops who were leaving their base to live out of light vehicles along the Iran/Iraq border. The move was described as a "return to World War II tactics" by the Brits that would finally give hard evidence that the Iranian government were providing weapons and other assistance to Iraqi insurgents.

The trouble is, they haven't found a single shred of such evidence.

"I suspect there's nothing out there," the commander, Lt. Col. David Labouchere, said last month, speaking at an overnight camp near the border. "And I intend to prove it."

Other senior British military leaders spoke as explicitly in interviews over the previous two months. Britain, whose forces have had responsibility for security in southeastern Iraq since the war began, has found nothing to support the Americans' contention that Iran is providing weapons and training in Iraq, several senior military officials said.

"I have not myself seen any evidence -- and I don't think any evidence exists -- of government-supported or instigated" armed support on Iran's part in Iraq, British Defense Secretary Des Browne said in an interview in Baghdad in late August.

"It's a question of intelligence versus evidence," Labouchere's commander, Brig. James Everard of Britain's 20th Armored Brigade, said last month at his base in the southern region's capital, Basra. "One hears word of mouth, but one has to see it with one's own eyes. These are serious consequences, aren't they?"

They are. Allegations that Iran or its agents are providing military support for Iraqi Shiite Muslim militias and other armed groups is one of the most contentious issues raising tensions between Washington and Tehran. Most gravely, U.S. generals and diplomats accuse Iran of providing infrared triggers for special explosives that are capable of piercing heavy armor.

...But Maj. Dominic Roberts of the Queen's Dragoons said: "We have found no credible evidence to suggest there is weapons smuggling across the border."
Oops. Looks very like intelligence is being filtered through the lens of Bush administration policy again, doesn't it? The British findings support what U.S. General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said back in March - that he had no evidence of Iranian government involvement. That didn't stop Bush administration shills from continuing to repeat these allegations and the British news won't either. Just as before the invasion of Iraq, they will continue to present lies and misdirection as the accepted truth until they becomes accpeted as if they were facts.

Now, the one thing that isn't in doubt is that weaponry and explosives are coming from somewhere. However, just about the only thing the world isn't short of is small arms and sophisticated infra-red triggers for IED's have a long antecedent that tracks back through Hizboullah to the Irish Republican Army and eventually back to a failed British intelligence sting. These items could be coming from literally anywhere - there's nothing new involved and it doesn't take much of a machine shop to produce them. The entire region is riddled with smuggling and trade routes that go back thousands of years. My advice would be to look to other nations with a radicalized Sunni population and a history of indigenous copying of arms in local "weapons bazaars" that lie along the ancient "silk roads" - there's more than a few to choose from and some are, at least ostensibly, U.S. allies.