Have I mentioned that Michael Gordon of the NY Times really, really annoys me? Every time the US military wants to catapult some anti-Iran propoganda about how Iran-provided EFP bombs are killing US troops, they turn to Gordon. And every time they do, he dutifully does another fine job of stenography.
Today, he has another one, which turns, as Sean-Paul rightly points out, on some legerdemain of statistics. Sunni attacks in Baghdad are down and Shiite militia attacks are up basically because they think the US is turning away from supporting the Shiites to supporting Sunni groups instead. Nature abhors a vacuum. But since EFP penetrators are a favored weapon of Shiite groups, and the US says all EFP's are the fault of Iran - that makes Iran the biggest enemy. So the obvious (?) conclusion is that Iran is surging to disrupt the surge - and that's what Gordon dutifully writes.
But the bit that's got me really pissed is the throw-away nature of the obligatory "sceptical" paragraph the editors made him insert after the row last time he picked up his Rita Skeeter quill.
American intelligence says that its report of Iranian involvement is based on a technical analysis of exploded and captured devices, interrogations of Shiite militants, the interdiction of trucks near Iran’s border with Iraq and parallels between the use of the weapons in Iran and in southern Lebanon by Hezbollah.Michael Gordon isn't a stupid person - he knows that this entirely misrepresents the strength of US "evidence" against Iran and the thrust of criticism of the Bush administration's narrative.
Some critics of Bush administration policy, saying there is no proof that the top echelons of Iran’s government are involved, accuse the White House of exaggerating the role of Iran and Syria to divert attention from its own mistakes.
The evidence is very weak, with every single element being challenged - from EFP manufacture techniques and locations, to confessions obtained under aggressive interrogation by Iraqi Army or MeK questioners, to Hizbullah's being involved in Iraq even before the invasion. The main thrust of criticism of the narrative is that it violates both logic and good intelligence analysis policy - informal sharing of regional expertise coupled with porous borders, the burgeoning black-market arms trade in the region and widespread corruption in regional militaries are sufficient on their own to explain the current evidence without inventing a high-level Iranian conspiracy.
Gordon is undoubtably aware of all this - he's had plenty of time to play catch-up - but he obviously doesn't care. So he continues to pop out these hacktacular reports, in full knowledge that he has left behind any journalistic integrity.