Saturday, June 16, 2007

More Anti-Administration Reporting From the Infamous Liberal Media

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Hey, look. The WaPo is not the only major paper carrying the administration's water today [bolds are mine]:

A year after President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced a new strategy toward Iran, a behind-the-scenes debate has broken out within the administration over whether the approach has any hope of reining in Iran’s nuclear program, according to senior administration officials.

The debate has pitted Ms. Rice and her deputies, who appear to be winning so far, against the few remaining hawks inside the administration, especially those in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office who, according to some people familiar with the discussions, are pressing for greater consideration of military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.

In the year since Ms. Rice announced the new strategy for the United States to join forces with Europe, Russia and China to press Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, Iran has installed more than a thousand centrifuges to enrich uranium. The International Atomic Energy Agency predicts that 8,000 or so could be spinning by the end of the year, if Iran surmounts its technical problems.

Those hard numbers are at the core of the debate within the administration over whether Mr. Bush should warn Iran’s leaders that he will not allow them to get beyond some yet-undefined milestones, leaving the implication that a military strike on the country’s facilities is still an option.

Even beyond its nuclear program, Iran is emerging as an increasing source of trouble for the Bush administration by inflaming the insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and in Gaza, where it has provided military and financial support to the militant Islamic group Hamas, which now controls the Gaza Strip.

Even so, friends and associates of Ms. Rice who have talked with her recently say she has increasingly moved toward the European position that the diplomatic path she has laid out is the only real option for Mr. Bush, even though it has so far failed to deter Iran from enriching uranium, and that a military strike would be disastrous.

The accounts were provided by officials at the State Department, White House and the Pentagon who are on both sides of the debate, as well as people who have spoken with members of Mr. Cheney’s staff and with Ms. Rice. The officials said they were willing to explain the thinking behind their positions, but would do so only on condition of anonymity.

Glenn Greenwald does his usual superb debunking job:
Note that the numerous claims here are presented not as assertions, not as arguments, but as facts. And they are not even accompanied by the qualification that these were asserted by the article's anonymous "administration officials." Rather, they are simply stated, by the Times itself, as unquestionable facts. And they are obviously inflammatory "facts," as they depict Iran as, more or less, at war with the U.S. in multiple countries, arming and funding groups directly at war with our military.

But so many of the "facts" here are, at the very least, questionable. While some U.S. officials have accused Iran of arming Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, Iran has categorically denied that accusation, and, as that same article reported, even Robert Gates refused to confirm the allegation with anywhere near the level of certainty that the Times bestowed this morning on this claim.

Indeed, the Times itself even reported last week: "Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Monday that Iranian weapons were being smuggled into Afghanistan and into the hands of Taliban fighters, but that it was unclear whether Iran's government was behind the arms shipments." Contrast that caution from Bush's own Defense Secretary with the unambiguous claim of the Times today that Iran is "inflaming the insurgencies in . . . Afghanistan."

And then there is the claim that Iran is "inflaming the insurgencies in Iraq . . . and in Gaza." It is more or less established that Iran aids the Shiite factions which are close to Iran and close to the Iraqi government, but those are not "insurgents." And it is far from established that Iran aids the actual insurgents in Iraq attacking U.S. troops -- in particular, the ex-Baathist Sunni elements and "Al Qaeda in Iraq." The claim by the Times -- presented as unquestionable fact -- that Iran "is inflaming the insurgency in Iraq" is, at best, quite sloppy, and as presented, is also misleading.

The same is true for the claim that Iran is "inflaming an insurgency" in Gaza. The sole basis for that claim appears to be the aid provided by the Iranians to Hamas. But Hamas is not an "insurgency," but rather, the majority party which was democratically elected by the Palestinians. Theoretically, at least, to aid Hamas is to aid the democratically elected majority party in the Palestinian Authority, not arming an "insurgency."

And then there are the multiple vital facts which the article does not include, beginning with the highly provocative steps the U.S. has taken towards Iran -- from our reported support for groups inside and outside of their country seeking regime change to our detention of multiple Iranian officials in Iraq to our military attacks on an Iranian consulate in Iraq to the administration's wholesale rebuffing of Iranian efforts to negotiate all issues of dispute back in 2003 (a step which, quite predictably, accelerated Iran's enrichment efforts).

And that is to say nothing of the increasing overt war threats emanating from the likes of Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman, the song merrily sung by John McCain about bombing their country, and the multiple military maneuvers undertaken by the U.S. with the clear intent of threatening Iran. quite predictably, accelerated Iran's enrichment efforts).

And four years ago, we put them on a short list of "evil" countries, alongside Iraq and North Korea, even at a time when U.S.-Iran relations were at their best point since 1979. And we have invaded, and are currently occupying, two of their neighboring countries. Perhaps they concluded that the administration wants war with them and they are unable to avoid it. And perhaps if we stopped doing all or even some of these things, they, too, would be less provocative.

Cernig points out another "assertion presented as fact" in the Sanger piece:
... In the third paragraph, Sanger writes that the "International Atomic Energy Agency predicts that 8,000 or so could be spinning by the end of the year, if Iran surmounts its technical problems."

Which simply isn't true. Anonymous diplomats, who are not IAEA personnel but rather are acting as representatives of their own nation's interest, have told - guess who - David Sanger and other journalists, in orchestrated leaks, that Iran could have 8,000 centrifuges by year end. Those anonymous sources claim this "fact" as being taken directly from the mouth of Mohammed el-Baradei in "private conversations". However, the IAEA has refused to publicly back the diplomats' claim and independent experts have been highly sceptical. While the diplomats' claim may well be true, it is a long way from being a proven fact, as Sanger well knows having reported on the leaks in the first place.

And by the way: If there is any truth in the also-anonymously sourced report by Bill Gertz in the Washington Times that China is arming "insurgents" in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan on behalf of Iran (h/t Fester), it serves to underscore what I wrote yesterday in my post at Shakesville: Iran has allies and friends all over the world -- and unlike the only friends that Pres. Bush has left, Iran's friends are influential.

No comments: