Monday, July 02, 2007

The Drumbeat Quickens

By Cernig

Following hard on last week's cry of "It's all Al Qaeda, everywhere!", this week it seems we are to be treated to a new and more aggressive round of "It's all Iran's fault, Mommy!" by a Bush administration determined to blame someone else for its own failures in Iraq. And as usual, the mainstream media, scared pantsless at the possibility of losing its access if it fails to treat the administration as if it were still credible, goes along with the (sick) gag.

The New York Times, home to David "Judy in drag" Sanger and unindicted co-conspirator Michael Gordon, is right there. This time, Gordon gets to be the stenographer and Glenn Greenwald has the details on where and how the stenography falls down as Gordon slavishly passes on a belligerent CentCom press release couched in language which in itself amounts to a provocation to war should it's charges be unprovable.

These are quite extraordinary claims the NYT is publishing, as they amount to an accusation that the Iranian Government, at its highest levels, is directing fatal attacks on American troops in Iraq, which constitutes, of course, an act of war. As Gordon himself points out: "In effect, American officials are charging that Iran has been engaged in a proxy war against American forces for years."

What is the basis for Gordon's story? What sources does he use to convey these incomparably serious charges? One source and one source only, the only one he seems to know -- military spokespeople, in this case Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner.
Moon of Alabama's Bernhard is quick to point out that Bergner is a new import to the Iraqi theatre, straight from Cheney's side.
What Glenn doesn't tell is the background of Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner. Via sourcewatch we learn:

Kevin J. Bergner was named February 3, 2006, by President George W. Bush as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Iraq. Brigadier General Bergner recently served as Deputy Director of Political-Military Affairs (Middle East) at the Department of Defense. He received his bachelor's degree from Trinity University and his master's degree from City University of New York.
Berger left the White House and became spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq only three weeks ago.

You can bet with a very good chance that his statement, which Michael Gordon dutiful stenographs, has its origins in the White House. This bomb-Iran propaganda, the accusation of direct, official Iranian military intervention in Iraq, is originating from within the center of the Bush administration. It is fed through a "military spokesman" who just left the White House to Michael Gordon who's editors dependably publish it unfiltered in the New York Times.
Other U.S. media outlets have been just as uncritical. Yet if they bothered to look, they would find many reasons for healthy scepticism including ever-changing stories and highly dubious sources.

The Guardian, reporting on the same presser by Gen. Bergner, notes that:
The first accusation of Iranian involvement was made two years ago by a British official but the Foreign Office has since then been reluctant to go as far, at least publicly, about links between Iran and the Shia militias. But British officials say there is evidence of links between the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and secret cells under the umbrella of the Mahdi army, operating independently of its leader, Moqtada al-Sadr.
That's as far as the Brits, even off the record, are willing to go. A breakaway group aided by possibly rogue elements of Quods with no definite link to the leadership. Contrast that with U.S. claims of Iran's leadership being behind a masterplan to aid everyone and anyone against the U.S. Yet both the U.S. and U.K. surely share their intelligence fully on these matters.

The difference comes down to political fixing of intelligence around the policy, the glib verbal sidestep from "guess that" to "assess that" to "know that". It is just such a sidestep, which goes unquestioned by the U.S. media's stenographers, that means that the massive holes in key anti-Iranian claims aren't brought to the public view. Holes in claims like:

- The claim Iran is arming the Taliban, despite the fact that independent experts and other nations involved - as well as the U.S. General on the spot - says there's only evidence for private black-market efforts.

- The claim that key Iranian generals were snatched in Iraq, despite claims by top local Kurdish leaders that the U.S. raided the wrong house at the wrong time and have the wrong idea because the MeK terrorists they sub-contracted interrogation to told them so.

- Repeated claims of secret Iranian nuclear programs which were all sourced from the MeK terror group and which, other than the very first revelation that Iran had a power program, have without fail proved false on investigation.

- Evolving claims about supposed Iranian EFP bombs, which have evolved over time from "only Iran can make these weapons" to "only Iran can make these weapons properly". At every stage, the narrative only changes when independent writers (i.e. bloggers) force the media and the administration to face claims by experts that they narrative is incorrect and inconclusive.

Given reports that Bush has authorised covert operations against Iran (an act of war too) on the basis of such flimsy "facts" and that Cheney's staff are actively trying to stir up pro-war fervor, it's hardly surprising that so many anti-Iran stories surface in the media - or that so many turn out to be sourced from the neocon-approved murderers of the MeK. Nor is it surprising how many turn out to be absolute rubbish but still are accepted as fact by mainstream pundits with an axe to grind and no integrity.

Today's accusations, presented with proof that is inadequate, incomplete, badly sourced and often entirely absent, are a worrying escalation of the war-hype. I've a bad feeling about it all - I think the Cheney faction are winning the battle in the White House, even if their chosen path is certain to be disasterous.