Saturday, April 07, 2007

More On ABC's Untrustworthy Sources

Remember on Thursday I wrote about Glenn Greenwald taking ABC News to task for its "trust us, trust our sources" attitude?

Cast your eyes over this report by ABC's Mike Lee today entitled "Iran Keeps the Provocations Coming."

The "provocations" seem to be accusing the US of torturing their envoy while he was detained in Iraq and giving a medal to the officer who captured the 15 Brit sailors. Oh, how can we stand the mortal insults? Its shilling for confrontation with Iran on the very thinnest of excuses, but then we're used to ABC News shilling for war.

But oh what a source. Here's the meat of the entire article, all based on the say-so of ABC's expert.
An international security analyst has told ABC News that Iran, having tested reaction to the "Gulf boat" incident in which it seized and held the British troops, is likely to provoke another international crisis because it now believes that Western nations have limited response options.

"The Iranians enjoy being the bad guys in the region," said Sajjan Goehel, international security analyst for the Asia-Pacific Foundation. "They don't care what the international community thinks of them.

"Since the '79 revolution, they've always pursued an aggressive and hostile policy toward the West," he added. "And that's the irony: There is nothing that can be done effectively to prevent a situation like this from happening again."

Goehel believes the core problem for the United States and other western nations in dealing with Iran on the nuclear issue and other concerns — such as allegations that Iran is sponsoring terrorism in Iraq — is that the Iranian leadership understands that the West is reluctant to risk a wider Mideast conflict by attacking Iran.

"We have to keep in mind that the relationship between Iran and the U.K. and U.S. will get worse primarily because of the situation in Iraq," he said. "Iran has a different vision as to what Iraq is to become in the future, and they are biding their time and waiting for an opportunity to get further strategic depth inside the country."

..."They [Iran] were able to show that they can capture the headlines," Goehel said. "The Iranian regime simply wanted to make a symbolic point that they could do what they wanted within their region, that there was nothing the U.K. or the U.S. could do to try to stop it. They have gained a lot of notoriety and support inside the wider Middle East, which is worrying."

What will be the likely Western response if Iran provokes another incident?

"The U.S. and the U.K. have virtually no options to tackle Iran militarily because of the fact they know the Iranians will react aggressively," Goehel said.
Reading such an op-ed, based entirely off the opinions of an expert I'm not familiar with, I tend to research that expert some.

So who is Sajjan Goehel and what kind of think-tank is the Asia-Pacific Foundation that he's the international security analyst for?

SourceWatch has this on the Foundation itself:
Director & CEO: M. J. Gohel
Chairman: The Earl of Inchcape
Director for International Security: Sajjan M. Gohel

M. J. Gohel is Sajjan Gohel's father. In their frequent appearances in print and broadcast media, the Gohels are described as, for example, "Counter-terrorism expert[s]" and "security analyst[s]".

As of July 2005, the Foundation's website describes itself as "...undergoing reconstruction". It has done so since sometime around September 2004. However, until early August 2005, much of the website's previous content was available on hidden pages on the site. Within five days of links to those hidden pages being added to this article, all the pages were removed from the APF website. Hence the links were switched to point to a copy of the site in the Internet Archive from October 2004. However, as of September 2005 appears to have been removed from the Internet Archive. Searching the archive gives a "Blocked site" error.

[And today I found the Foundation's website is entirely offline - site not found. - C]

No information appears to have ever been published detailing the Foundation's funding sources. The Foundation does not appear to publish accounts.

There does not appear to be an "Asia-Pacific Foundation" registered either at Companies House or at the UK Charity Commission. Attempting to ascertain whether and how the organisation has been formally registered is not made easier by the fact it has never published a postal address.
And I thought "say whaaaat?" So I had a look at the SourceWatch entry for Sajjan M. Gohel:
As at July 2005, an individual named Sajjan Gohel is a PhD student at the London School of Economics (LSE). It is likely this is the same person. His supervisor is Dr Kirsten Schulze, Senior Lecturer in International History, and his research topic is "The Globalisation of Bin Ladinism: Origins, Doctrines Development and conflicts".

Sajjan Gohel's full name is Sajjansinh Mayur Gohel. He was born in 1980. He is the grandson of the late Jay K. Gohel, a friend of Margaret Thatcher and Conservative Party stalwart.
An LSE postgrad student working for a "Foundation" with absolutely no bona fides and run by his dad? That's ABC's "expert"? I could have named them 5 or 6 better qualified experts off the top of my head - all bloggers!

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