Monday, February 12, 2007

Deny without fail, sort of

From the Times Online:

Iranian leader gives rare interview to American television, but sidesteps explicit denial of US claims.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused the US of seeking to hide its failures in Iraq, saying that claims that Iran is arming Iraqi insurgents to target US forces are an attempt by Washington to cover its own mistakes.

In a rare interview with the US programme ABC News, the Iranian President sidestepped accusations that his Government was supplying arms to insurgents in Iraq, insisting instead that his country was against conflict of any sort and calling for the withdrawal of US and other foreign forces from Iraq as the only way to ensure peace.

But the weapons are only part of the story:

Senior officials in Baghdad also claimed yesterday that five Iranians, arrested last month in a controversial raid in Irbil, were members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. They said that the group, all carrying false papers, had been caught flushing documents down lavatories and shaving their heads to disguise their appearance. One allegedly had “explosive residue” on his hands.

The Democrats are skeptical:

Several senior Democrats have greeted the claims with scepticism, urging the Bush Administration to move cautiously before accusing Iran of fomenting a campaign of violence against US troops in Iraq.

Yet Britain backs up the U.S. claims:

British military and officials in Iraq believe that Iran is arming, training and financing Iraqi insurgents, mostly linked to Hojatoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr’s al-Mahdi Army.

Further south, British forces say that while no direct involvement by Iranian operatives has been uncovered, three containers of explosives were seized near the Iranian border. “I can’t prove it came from Iran,” he said, “but we are a few miles from the border. How else did it get here?”

The New York Times Headline about the weapons:

But the New York Times goes further:

Mr. Ahmadinejad refused to address the accusation directly in the interview, but he rejected the charges by saying the Americans were trying to find a scapegoat for their problems in Iraq.

“I think that Americans have made a mistake in Iraq and unfortunately are losing, and this is a shame for Americans of course, and that’s why they are trying to point their fingers to other people, and pointing fingers to others will not solve the problem,” he said.

That's not all Ahmadinejad is tight lipped about...

...he stopped short of making a promised announcement about “good news” in the country’s nuclear progress, raising speculation that domestic political pressure and technological glitches may have put off a milestone in the government’s efforts to begin mass enrichment of uranium.

And what did the New York Times say about the Iranian arms?

The officials said such an assertion was an inference based on general intelligence assessments.

That inference, and the anonymity of the officials who made it, seemed likely to generate skepticism among those suspicious that the Bush administration is trying to find a scapegoat for its problems in Iraq, and perhaps even trying to lay the groundwork for war with Iran.

And U.S. officials were 'pressed':

The officials were repeatedly pressed on why they insisted on anonymity in such an important matter affecting the security of American and Iraqi troops.


Whatever doubts were created about the timing and circumstances of the weapons disclosures, the direct physical evidence presented on Sunday was extraordinary.

As for Iranian Diplomats...

Officials at the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad said they had no comment on the American accusations.

A Blogger at Alter Net weighs in:

Reporters from the New York Times and others are trying to convince us that this time around, we can trust the U.S. intelligence community's evidence of Iran's bad intentions, but where is the evidence?

But for most of the post, he meanders:

Among the things we have not fully looked into yet are, not only the way the White House sold the last war but also the way the media lapped up those lies. As Gilbert Cranberg, George H. Gallup Professor of Journalism Emeritus at the University of Iowa School of Journalism, asked recently, "Why did the Associated Press wait six months, when the body count began to rise, to distribute a major piece by AP's Charles Hanley challenging Powell's evidence and why did Hanley say how frustrating it had been until then to break through the self-censorship imposed by his editors on negative news about Iraq?"

-What does this have to do with Iranian arms?

Then these last three paragraphs pop out of nowhere:

The collection of Iran War Lies is starting to catch up with the endless list of Iraq War Lies.

But let's keep one thing in mind as we demand a thorough investigation of both sets of lies -- lies made by the same set of people: In neither case, even if every single claim were 100 percent true and accurate, would there have been established a legal case for war. If a nation's possession of WMDs were grounds for launching a war against it, the United States would be subject to legal invasion immediately.

And the real shocker:

So, while debunking the fanciful claims of Bush, Cheney, and Gates may be entertaining, we may actually do more good if we brush them aside and point out that it does not matter whether their claims are true or not. Aiding a nation in repelling a foreign occupation is not grounds for war. The U.S. still brags about having done this in France 60 years ago. If Iran were doing it in Iraq now, which no evidence yet suggests, the crime would lie in the foreign invaders' refusal to leave, not in the aide supplied by the Iranians.

Half baked does not do this blogger justice.

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