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8 posts categorized "Iran"

August 01, 2009

Manufacturing consent: Execs called off Olbermann/O'Reilly feud

The high-profile feud between MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly was great for the shows' respective ratings.

So, the suits were happy to let the feud continue. That is, until O'Reilly started assailing MSNBC's parent company, General Electric, for doing business with Iran.

The O'Reilly crusade against GE had real-world consequences. A GE shareholders meeting was reportedly overrun with Iran critics and an O'Reilly producer.

General Electric was not amused. So, a sitdown was arranged to bring the feud to an end, even though it was making money for both MSNBC and Fox News:

At an off-the-record summit meeting for chief executives sponsored by Microsoft in mid-May, the PBS interviewer Charlie Rose asked Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of G.E., and his counterpart at the News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, about the feud.

Both moguls expressed regret over the venomous culture between the networks and the increasingly personal nature of the barbs. Days later, even though the feud had increased the audience of both programs, their lieutenants arranged a cease-fire, according to four people who work at the companies and have direct knowledge of the deal. [NYT]

Executives told the New York Times that the feud was called off specifically because it threatened the business interests of GE and the News Corporation.

Olbermann denies that he's a party to any deal, but the verbal barbs have tapered off.

As Glenn Greenwald points out, it's ironic that Charlie Rose, who brokered the deal, has publicly dismissed the idea that parent corporations slant TV coverage for the benefit of the larger enterprise.

July 20, 2009

Anonymous Basiji describes prison rape in Iran

A man alleged to be an active member of Iran's brutal Basiji militia spoke to a reporter about his role in suppressing the recent street protests and about earlier abuses of prisoners. The Basij's most explosive claim is that he raped Iranian virgins in order to facilitate their executions:

In the Islamic Republic it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin, he explained. Therefore a "wedding" ceremony is conducted the night before the execution: The young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard - essentially raped by her "husband."

"I regret that, even though the marriages were legal," he said.

Why the regret, if the marriages were "legal?"

"Because," he went on, "I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their 'wedding' night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. [Jerusalem Post]

I tend to be skeptical of the claims of anonymous sources, on general principle, particularly when they're making such politically charged allegations. Does anyone know how plausible the militiaman's claims are? Is it really legal in Iran to force prisoners into marriage, and marital rape, in order to make them eligible for execution?

Something about the story seems off to me, like it's all too perfectly horrifying--it's not just prison rape, but raping virgins under the color of law in order to kill them. It seems like a story calculated to push all of our emotional buttons and lay the blame directly at the feet of the regime.

Make no mistake, pro-democracy activists are being raped in prison in Iran. Independent reports attest to these atrocities.

There's no question that Iran has a terrible human rights record and a penchant for executions. So did Iraq under Saddam Hussein. But the true stories of mass graves and poison gas weren't enough for the pro-war lobby group that fabricated a story about Iraqi troops ripping Kuwaiti infants out of their incubators.

October 20, 2007

CBS confirms Raw Story's Plame reporting

Tomorrow, 60 Minutes will air an interview with Valerie Plame, in which the outed CIA agent confirms that she was working undercover to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons when her identity was leaked for political purposes.

February 20, 2007

US has "shock and awe" plan for Iran

We were warned, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

The United States has a contingency plan to attack Iran that goes beyond attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities and includes most of Iran's military infrastructure, the BBC has learned:

US contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country's military infrastructure, the BBC has learned.

It is understood that any such attack - if ordered - would target Iranian air bases, naval bases, missile facilities and command-and-control centres.

The US insists it is not planning to attack, and is trying to persuade Tehran to stop uranium enrichment.

The UN has urged Iran to stop the programme or face economic sanctions.

But diplomatic sources have told the BBC that as a fallback plan, senior officials at Central Command in Florida have already selected their target sets inside Iran.

That list includes Iran's uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. Facilities at Isfahan, Arak and Bushehr are also on the target list, the sources say. [BBC]

It's not surprising that a contingency plan exists for such as strike. In fact, it would be surprising if the Bush administration hadn't formulated a plan, given how determined it is to leave the military option on the table. (Well, with this crew, you never know. They like spontaneity in their military conquests.)

What's alarming is how big an attack the US is planning. They're not envisioning an Osirak-style surgical strike against Iran's nuclear program. The plan is to go after most of Iran's military infrastructure. Shock and awe all over again.

Also disconcerting are the circumstances under which the plan would be "triggered:"

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says the trigger for such an attack reportedly includes any confirmation that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon - which it denies.

Alternatively, our correspondent adds, a high-casualty attack on US forces in neighbouring Iraq could also trigger a bombing campaign if it were traced directly back to Tehran. [BBC]

On the bright side, the fact that we haven't attacked Iran yet is a tacit admission that the US has no proof that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.

It's probably only a matter of time before America suffers a huge number of casualties in a single attack. We're putting more troops in harm's way, and the insurgents are becoming more sophisticated.

Over at Global Guerillas, folks are speculating that the US could be one mass casualty away from defunding the war all together. The Bush administration is acutely aware of that possibility.

The public is sick of empty platitudes about staying the course. If the unthinkable happens, I predict that the Bush administration will use American losses as an excuse to scale up the war and go after the "real culprits" in Iran who are allegedly ruining America's occupation.

The administration has been trying to gin up a case against Iran for weeks, but so far reasonable people have the upper hand. The administration lacks proof and credibility. My fear is that the debate will become clouded by emotion and jingoism. If that happens, people may lose sight of niceties of evidence and lash out at the target the administration is setting up for them: Iran.

Residual anger over 9/11 propelled the US to invade Iraq with on the basis of shoddily fraudulent evidence. If the unthinkable happens in Iraq, I hope the American public won't allow their grief to be exploited again.

[The photo is a picture of journalist Sy Hersh, who has been warning about the Neocons' designs on Iran for years.]

February 16, 2007

White House backs off bogus briefing on Iran

The White House says that the unnamed military official who briefed reporters Iran's alleged meddling in Iraq went too far when he claimed that the U.S. had proof that the Iranian government was supplying explosively formed penetrators (EFP) to insurgents in Iraq.

The White House is clinging to the claim that military hardware from Iran is surfacing in Iraq, but even that assertion is tenuous. No doubt the vast majority of the improvised explosive devices in Iraq are being made inside the country. However, the U.S. wants us to focus on a very special high-tech kind of IED, the explosively formed penetrator. Now, some EFPs aren't improvised at all, they're made in factories. However, more rudimentary EFPs can be assembled in backyard workshops. If you find a homemade EFP in Iraq, the logical assumption is that it was made there.

David Hambling of DefenseTech shows us what a real factory-made EFP looks like:

Whereas, these EFPs depicted in Sunday's PowerPoint slides (top row) look like they were assembled in someone's garage.

Even if Iranian EFPs are turning up in Iraq, it doesn't mean that the Iranian government sent them. Remember, that there's a huge international arms trade. During the early occupation of Iraq, the U.S. was constantly reminding us about all the foreign fighters pouring in to Iraq from all over the Muslim world, including Iran. If Iranian-made weapons or Iranians show up on the battlefield in Iraq, there's no reason to assume that the Iranian government sent them.

Interestingly, Iran is now accusing the U.S. of aiding Sunni insurgents with a car bombing that killed 11 elite Iranian troops in Tehran two days ago. I'm not aware of any evidence to support Iran's counter-accusation, but I'm sure Instapundit would approve.

February 14, 2007

Where in the world is Muqtada al-Sadr?

A "senior US official" says that Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr fled to Iran several weeks ago, but al-Sadr's aides say that he's still in Iraq.

Juan Cole reviews the press coverage from the past few weeks and concludes that al-Sadr is probably still in Iraq.

February 13, 2007

Instapundit calls for muder of Iranian scientists

Instapundit is calling for the extrajudicial murder of Iranian scientists and clerics:

This has been obvious for a long time anyway, and I don't understand why the Bush Administration has been so slow to respond. Nor do I think that high-profile diplomacy is an appropriate response. We should be responding quietly, killing radical mullahs and iranian atomic scientists, supporting the simmering insurgencies within Iran, putting the mullahs' expat business interests out of business, etc.Basically, stepping on the Iranians' toes hard enough to make them reconsider their not-so-covert war against us in Iraq. And we should have been doing this since the summer 2003. But as far as I can tell, we've done nothing along these lines. [Emphasis added.]

That's right, an American law professor is saying that the United States should have started an extra-judicial assassination campaign in Iran three years ago. Hugh Hewitt thinks it's a swell idea to "punish" Iranians-at-large for IEDs in Iraq by knocking off some clerics and atomic physicists who have nothing to do with munitions.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. If you accept that United States may kidnap anyone, anywhere in the world and have them tortured in the name of counter-terrorism, it's not such a stretch to suppose that U.S. is also entitled to murder civilians to put pressure on unfriendly governments. Unfortunately, that practice is better known as "terrorism."

For more on the Instapundit's death squad rant, see Glenn Greenwald's. I despair for our society when it's necessary to supply a rigorous analytical exposition of why our government shouldn't have scientists and religious leaders whacked to get leverage over their government--but Glenn's provided a much-needed service.

I should add that somehow Instapundit can call for the murder of Islamic clerics without damaging his credentials as a "reasonable" guy. Whereas, God help you if you suggest a 2000-year-old story about a putative virgin birth probably didn't achieve worldwide currency because of its plausibility or explanatory power...

February 12, 2007

Froomkin nails Iran briefing story

Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post:

For a long time now, Bush admininstration officials have been promising reporters proof that the Iranian government is supplying deadly weaponry to Iraqi militants.

The administration finally unveiled its case this weekend, first in coordinated and anonymous leaks to a trusting New York Times reporter, then in an extraordinarily secretive military briefing at which no one would speak on the record, journalists weren't allowed to photograph the so-called evidence, and nothing even remotely like proof of direct Iranian government involvement was presented.

The result: The White House got the headlines it wanted.

Read the whole thing.