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Wednesday, March 28, 2007


British "evidence"

The British have released, and the press are dutifully echoing, the British "evidence" of the location of the capture of their sailors. This "evidence" consists of a simple assertion of the coordinates of the seizure, which, according to the British naval spokesperson (Real Player file), was "confirmed publicly by the Iraqi foreign minister." So we have an assertion, "confirmed" by someone who couldn't possibly be in a position to know, offered as "evidence."

The next piece of "evidence" offered by the British is that "One of the small boats used by the boarding party from HMS Cornwall had a GPS chart plotter, continually communicating its position to HMS Cornwall, where the position was displayed on an electronic chart." Note what's missing - any mention that this data was actually being recorded. We have to presume it wasn't, and that the value of this evidence is minimal.

The closest thing to actual evidence is this claim:

The MoD backed up its assertion by releasing a photograph of a handheld global positioning satellite device in HMS Cornwall's Lynx helicopter as it overflew the searched merchant vessel, confirming its position.
Whether this alleged photo actually includes a simultaneous picture of the merchant vessel and the GPS screen I can't say, not having seen it. Not mentioned in the BBC article, but mentioned in the briefing video, is that this overflight occurred two days later, and relies on the assertion that the ship had remained anchored in the same position for those two days, an assertion allegedly confirmed by the captain of that ship. What the ship was doing anchored in the middle of the Persian Gulf for two days is rather unclear.

There are more curious details. The British claim that on the day after the seizure, Iran provided the British with the coordinates of the capture, which Britain says were in Iraqi waters. Instead of immediately trumpeting this to the world, Britain claims they pointed this out to the Iranians, who then provided a revised set of coordinates which were in Iranian waters! Both of these are again simple assertions, however; not the slightest proof was offered to back them up.

Is there any solid proof from the Iranian side either? No, and one can hardly know for sure the absolute truth of the matter at this point. Perhaps the Iranians or the British had a calibration problem, and both legitimately thought (and think) they were correct. Perhaps the problem lies in the claim made by Craig Murray, who claims the border shown by the British isn't actually the border. So I don't claim to know the truth. I do know that in the Western corporate media, there won't be a single voice raising the questions I'm raising above, questioning the value of the British "evidence."

Update: A transcript of the British presentation, and a picture of the GPS over a ship (alleged to be "the" ship, but without proof), are here.

Note in this picture on that page that the location of the ship claimed by the British is closer to Iranian territory than to Iraqi territory, hearkening back to the questions Craig Murray raises about where exactly the "agreed" border, if any, is?

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