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Thursday, February 15, 2007


More hard(ly) evidence

In an article on yesterday's George Bush press conference, McClatchy (formerly Knight-Ridder) reporters Ron Hutcheson and Margaret Talev make the following assertion:
Bush outlined the circumstantial evidence against Iran at a White House news conference dominated by questions on Iraq.
The claim that Bush "outlined the circumstantial evidence against Iran" is absolute nonsense, but serves as one more contribution from the corporate media towards persuading the American public that there is such evidence to begin with. Bush did not offer a single piece of "evidence" on the subject, either in the speech which started the press conference nor in any of his answers. What he did do was to repeat, on six different occasions with slight variations of wording, this: "What we do know is that the Quds force was instrumental in providing these deadly IEDs to networks inside of Iraq." But that's not "evidence," even circumstantial evidence, it's simply an unsupported accusation and nothing more.

For the record, the second half of the McClatchy claim is flat-out wrong as well -- of the questions asked at the news conference, six were about Iraq, nine about Iran, and four about other subjects. If anything, the news conference was dominated by questions about Iran, not Iraq.

Bush may be dumb, but what he and his advisers who tell him what to say accomplished in this press conference was quite a sophisticated shell game. As noted, Bush asserted "with certainty" six times that the Quds force, "a part of the Iranian government," was supplying IEDs to Iraq, but claimed (again, several times) that "What we don't know is whether or not the head leaders of Iran ordered the Quds force to do what they did." Watching the subsequent coverage on TV, this shell game was completely successful is shifting the debate from whether weapons were being supplied by Iran, which was taken as simple fact, to the almost irrelevant (given the "Bush doctrine") question of who exactly initiated the effort.

Needless to say, the concept that Iran has as much right to provide weapons to forces in Iraq as do the Americans, or the question of American provision of support and perhaps even weapons to groups inside Iran, didn't come up.

Update: For comparison, here's the Prensa Latina lead on this story, which is headlined "Bush Shakes Finger at Iran Again":

US President George W. Bush again accused Iran of supplying weapons to Iraqi resistance, in spite of total absence of proof.

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