Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pentagon blames Iran for U.S. casualties in Iraq, aided by voice activated recorder, etc.

It's been a busy weekend for mostly unnamed sources pointing the finger at Iran, blaming them for many of the U.S. casualties in Iraq. It would probably be enough to make the entire country want to lash out at the Iranians, but the country has been through these strangely sourced stories before. Especially during the runup to the Iraq war, and we know how reliable those were.

The alarm fest was kicked off by the NYT's Michael Gordon Saturday in a story titled "Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says."
In interviews, civilian and military officials from a broad range of government agencies provided specific details to support what until now has been a more generally worded claim, in a new National Intelligence Estimate, that Iran is providing “lethal support” to Shiite militants in Iraq.

The focus of American concern is known as an “explosively formed penetrator,” a particularly deadly type of roadside bomb being used by Shiite groups in attacks on American troops in Iraq. Attacks using the device have doubled in the past year, and have prompted increasing concern among military officers. In the last three months of 2006, attacks using the weapons accounted for a significant portion of Americans killed and wounded in Iraq, though less than a quarter of the total, military officials say.
Before we really had time to absorb the full impact of this revelation, blogger Jonathan Schwarz quoted Times editors to the effect that that "Michael Gordon" is not an actual human being at all, but a voice activated tape recorder that the Times purchased at a 43rd Street Radio Shack for $27.95, which accounts for his uncanny, unquestioning transcription of anonymous sources with an agenda.
Keller described how he and Abramson "really had a good laugh" while editing the Iran story, which is based on the following sourcing:
U.S. Says...United States intelligence asserts...reflects broad agreement among American intelligence agencies...civilian and military officials from a broad range of government agencies provided...military officials say...The officials said...The assessment was described in interviews over the past several weeks with American officials...Administration officials said...according to the intelligence...According to American intelligence...Some American intelligence experts believe...they assert...notes a still-classified American intelligence report...a senior administration official said...according to Western officials...Officials said...An American intelligence assessment described to The New York Times said...Other officials believe...American military officers say...American officials say...According to American intelligence agencies...Assessments by American intelligence agencies say...Marine officials say...American intelligence agencies are concerned...Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week.
"You can't deny that's funny," said Keller, adding that the lack of skepticism displayed by Gordon was "literally inhuman." Keller and Abramson asserted that the Iran article is "even more hilarious" than Gordon's 2002 stories on Iraq's purported nuclear program, written with Judith Miller.
With the robot reporter's credentials under fire, the NYT's James Glanz was forced to step up the next day and put numbers on the robot reporter's reporting, again quoting anonymous sources who put the number at "more than 170 dead and 620 wounded."
Never before displayed in public, the canister, called an explosively formed penetrator, or E.F.P., arrives in Iraq in what the officials described as a “kit” containing high-grade metals and highly machined parts, like a strangely shaped, concave lid that folds into the ball while hurtling toward its target.

The officials, who insisted on anonymity as a condition of the briefing, also disclosed that since June 2004, when the first member of the American-led forces here was killed by an E.F.P., the toll had reached more than 170 dead and 620 wounded. The pace of the attacks with those weapons nearly doubled in 2006 compared with the previous year and a half, the officials said.
So is James Glanz also a robot? Or is this only another part of what Newsweek calls "The Hidden War with Iran," with Glanz serving as just another willing and uncritical cheerleader?

2/13 UPDATE:Strange how the writing on the "Iranian" bomb devices is in English, when the Iranians usually use Farsi. Cernig dissects this and other anomalies, including the fact that Gen. Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters he was not aware of the briefing and didn't back its claims. (Via Avedon)

1 comment:

Wil Robinson said...

Great post...I particularly liked the reference to the "words" used by the reports. It very clearly shows the "evidence" (or lack thereof)

Unfortunately, it seems that virtually every major media outlet is, once again, acting as cheerleader as the US ramps up for war. The mere idea that media outlets are "responsible" was lost in 2002/2003 leading into Iraq, and apparently will not be reclaimed for some time.