Thursday, June 07, 2007

Fooling Some of the People All of the Time

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Brian Ross at The Blotter (ABC News) reports repeats administration claims that Iran is arming the Taliban. The very title of Ross's piece -- "Document: Iran Caught Red-Handed Shipping Arms to the Taliban" -- presents the claim as though it were an ironclad, proven fact, rather than an anonymously sourced charge cooked up by Dick Cheney's office:

NATO officials say they have caught Iran red-handed, shipping heavy arms, C4 explosives and advanced roadside bombs to the Taliban for use against NATO forces, in what the officials say is a dramatic escalation of Iran's proxy war against the United States and Great Britain.

"It is inconceivable that it is anyone other than the Iranian government that's doing it," said former White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stopped short earlier this week of blaming Iran, saying the U.S. did not have evidence "of the involvement of the Iranian government in support of the Taliban."

But an analysis by a senior coalition official, obtained by the Blotter on, concludes there is clear evidence of Iran's involvement.

"This is part of a considered policy," says the analysis, "rather than the result of low-level corruption and weapons smuggling."

Iran and the Taliban had been fierce enemies when the Taliban was in power in Afghanistan, and their apparent collaboration came as a surprise to some in the intelligence community.

"I think their goal is to make it very clear that Iran has the capability to make life worse for the United States on a variety of fronts," said Seth Jones of the Rand Institute, "even if they have to do some business with a group that has historically been their enemy."

The coalition analysis says munitions recovered in two Iranian convoys, on April 11 and May 3, had "clear indications that they originated in Iran. Some were identical to Iranian supplied goods previously discovered in Iraq."

The April convoy was tracked from Iran into Helmand province and led a fierce firefight that destroyed one vehicle, according to the official analysis. A second vehicle was reportedly found to contain small arms ammunition, mortar rounds and more than 650 pounds of C4 demolition charges.

A second convoy of two vehicles was spotted on May 3 and led to the capture of five occupants and the seizure of RPG-7mm rockets and more than 1,000 pounds of C4, the analysis says.

Also among the munitions are components for the lethal EFPs, or explosive formed projectiles, the roadside bombs that U.S. officials say Iran has provided to Iraqi insurgents with deadly results.

"These clearly have the hallmarks of the Iranian Revolution Guards' Quds force," said Jones.

The coalition diplomatic message says the demolition charges "contained the same fake U.S. markings found on explosives recovered from insurgents operating in the Baghdad area."

"We believe these intercepted munitions are part of a much bigger flow of support from Iran to the Taliban," the message says.

The Taliban receives larger supplies of weapons through profits from opium dealing, officials say, but the Iranian presence could be significant.

"It means the insurgency in Afghanistan is likely to be prolonged," said Jones. "It would be a much more potent force."

And the same right-wing bloggers who are usually so critical of the "liberal" media accept unquestioningly and with an utterly childlike faith that if unnamed "NATO officials" say they have "proof" that Iran is arming the Taliban, it must, inevitably, be true:

Ed Morrissey:
ABC News reports that NATO officials have proof that the Iranian government supplies the Taliban in their war against Afghanistan. ...
This is quite an interesting development. For one thing, the Taliban and Iran considered each other enemies until the US expelled Mullah Omar's gang from Afghanistan. If NATO has this correct, it shows that radical Islamist impulses have outweighed the traditional Sunni/Shi'ite divide in Islam. Both types of Islamist lunatics may have decided that their war against the West outweighs their internal differences.

Secondarily, it confirms Iranian mischief outside of areas in US control. While we're obviously the driving force behind the NATO mission in Afghanistan, NATO's imprimatur means that Europe can no longer treat Iranian involvement in both Afghanistan and Iraq as an American cover story. Nations that have opposed our get-tough efforts against Iran will have to realize that Iran presents a threat to their own troops - and one they will need to address quickly.

Iran is waging a proxy war against the Coalition in Iraq and NATO in Afghanistan. Now it has been caught red-handed[.] ...

Glenn Reynolds:
NEWS: "Iran caught red-handed shipping arms to Taliban." By NATO officials, which will make it a bit harder for the Euros to ignore.

streiff at Redstate:
One of the most fatuous notions flogged about by various stripes of ignoramuses is the idea that somehow the sectarian divisions within islam are so severe that it prevents muslims of different sects from cooperating.

For a while it was the lefties making this claim. Now it is various paleocons and John Birchers on the right who are actively beclowning themselves by making this claim.
Just to be real clear here to the braintrust that seems intent on making this claim of non-cooperation:

1. Iran supplied warlords opposed to the Taliban before the US invasion.

2. Iran is Shi'a and the Taliban are Sunni.

3. The Taliban think the Shi'a aren't very good muslims to the point of killing them.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend. It is a law of human behavior that is constant across time and culture. To deny it marks oneself as a goof.

"Fatuous notions flogged about by various stripes of ignoramuses..."; "profiles in ignorance"; "mark[ing] oneself as a goof..." Those are pretty harsh judgments, there. So what language would one use to characterize someone who implicitly trusts anonymous administration sources making unsupported and unverified claims that Iran is arming the Taliban to attack Americans when similar claims regarding Saddam Hussein four and a half years ago turned out to be false? Simpletons? Fools? Morons?

And the reliably vile Dan Riehl:
I suppose someone should start archiving these stories. If we ever do need to confront Iran with force, the liberal Dems will be insisting they didn't support terrorists.
NATO officials say they have caught Iran red-handed, shipping heavy arms, C4 explosives and advanced roadside bombs to the Taliban for use against NATO forces, in what the officials say is a dramatic escalation of Iran's proxy war against the United States and Great Britain.

Oh wait, I forgot ... the Taliban kill American troops. That doesn't make them enemies, let alone terrorists to liberals, that makes them freedom fighters. My bad.

Well, now, archiving articles like these might not be a bad idea. Then, five years from now, when it comes out that Dick Cheney was running an intelligence-manufacturing and cherry-picking operation out of his office, we can confront far right warmongers like Dan Riehl with the proof that they relied a second time on baseless administration claims -- this time about links between Iran and the Taliban -- to launch an aggressive preemptive war against Iran that no doubt will fail as miserably as the aggressive preemptive war against Iraq has done.

Cernig points out that this "evidence" is the same evidence that Cheney, who fervently desires war with Iran, has been pushing hard in hopes of defeating advocates of diplomacy like Condoleezza Rice. And, Cernig adds, British and Afghan leaders aren't buying it:
Recall, this is the evidence Newsweek says Cheney's faction is unusually interested in and has already been hawked by reliable shill Robin Wright in the WaPo.

The Brits have another opinion, according to Newsweek:
"British officials who asked for anonymity because of the nature of their work emphasize that they lack hard evidence linking the shipments to the Revolutionary Guards, and that the weapons could just as easily have been bought on the black market in Iran."

Karzai isn't buying it either:
" Asked his own view, Karzai appeared eager to give the Iranian government a pass.

He said there was no evidence of Iranian government involvement, adding, ``Iran and Afghanistan have never been as friendly as they are today.''

There is no reason for Iran to aid the Taliban, Karzai said. ``It is in the interests of our brothers in Iran'' to support the development of a more stable and prosperous Afghanistan."

Cernig also points out that "NATO officials" could be a synonym for "Bush administration officials" -- the United States is NATO, too, after all:
So the Afghans and the Brits don't believe the spin - and the US is as much a part of the Coalition and of NATO as anyone. It would be truthful to describe any report or official from the White House as being from a NATO source or Coalition official - it just wouldn't be telling the whole truth. The only people publicly giving any credence to this warmongering hype are Bush hardliners - no-one from any other NATO or Coalition country is speaking up. That's significant, to my mind. It indicates double-speak and war shills, plain and simple.

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