Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Who'll be the Iran war buildup's Judy Miller of disinformation? James Glanz seems willing.

Like the snap and crackle of static from an approaching storm, punctuated by flashes of distant lightning, the disinformation about Iran is coming hard and fast now, building to a crescendo. You can feel the whirlwind approaching. It's a familiar sensation -- the lies, the leaks, the semi plausible factoids mixed with wildly implausible pseudo facts -- they all have a that deja vu all over again feel because, of course, it is deja vu all over again. We were pushed into war with Iraq by a stiff gale of lies and disinformation. It worked just fine for Iraq. Why wouldn't it work for Iran? Especially when Congress is too distracted by the Iraq debacle to even notice the winds of war blowing toward Iran.

The right wing echo chamber -- bloggers, talk radio and Fox News -- they're all doing their part, but they can't do it alone. They need something more mainstream, more moderate, less obviously biased. Something like the New York Times. Judy Miller was perfect, but she's no longer there. Who will pick up the baton she dropped? It looks as if James Glanz is willing. Jeff Huber commented yesterday on one example.
James Glanz of the New York Times reports that Iran plans to expand its economic and military ties with Iraq.

Imagine that. Iran, a neighbor of Iraq, a country with which it fought its only modern war, has expressed an interest in being part of the solution to Iraq's security and rebuilding equation. How dare they?

And what subversive, violent steps do the Iranians propose to cement those ties? They want to establish an Iranian national bank branch in Baghdad. Shudder. We better get more troops in Baghdad right away to make sure that doesn't happen.
Glanz interviewed the Iranian ambassador to Iraq in a "90-minute interview over tea and large pistachio nuts at the Iranian Embassy" in Baghdad. Headlined "Iranian Reveals Plan to Expand Role in Iraq," the story was one of those subtle exercises in framing that suggests the Iranians are up to no good without offering much in the way of evidence. But that was just a warmup. Glanz, with fellow Timesman Mark Mazzetti really gets going today.
Investigators say they believe that attackers who used American-style uniforms and weapons to infiltrate a secure compound and kill five American soldiers in Karbala on Jan. 20 may have been trained and financed by Iranian agents, according to American and Iraqi officials knowledgeable about the inquiry.

The officials said the sophistication of the attack astonished investigators, who doubt that Iraqis could have carried it out on their own — one reason a connection to Iran is being closely examined. Officials cautioned that no firm conclusions had been drawn and did not reveal any direct evidence of a connection.
This is a real classic, headlined "Iran May Have Trained Attackers That Killed 5 American Soldiers, U.S. and Iraqis Say." Sure -- because, obviously, the Iraqis are too stupid to come up with the uniforms, credentials and inside information used in the attack on their own (even though they're the ones who are in close proximity with our forces, not the Iranians).

It's a classic, because any reader who was shocked by the ruthless murder of the American soldiers could not help but be affected by the story. It's the kind of thing that sticks in your mind -- especially if you don't read the story all the way through and see that it offered not a shred of evidence to tie Iran to the attack, just speculation by U.S. and Iraqi "officials." Judy Miller would be proud.

Jeff Huber again:
Mr. Bush says he doesn't intend to invade Iran. There's one Bush statement we can believe. He doesn't intend to invade Iran because he can't. His ground forces are tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he can bomb the bedazzle out of Iran from the air and the sea, and with each passing day it looks more and more like that's precisely what he intends to do.

The time for dismissing suggestions that Bush has ambitions of expanding his Middle East wars into an apocalyptic global conflict as conspiracy theory is over. The time is coming--and it's coming very soon--where Congress will have to take swift, draconian measures to slam the brakes on the administration's train wreck of a foreign policy.
Jack London wrote in The Iron Heel "They sowed wind, and wind, and ever more wind; for they alone knew how to reap the whirlwind and make a profit out of it." But if we don't stop Bush, the Iran whirlwind will be so vast that even Blackwater and Halliburton will have a hard time making any profit out of it.

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