Left-wing British paper recycles three-month-old story to blame U.S. for hostage crisis

posted at 9:43 pm on April 2, 2007 by Allahpundit

Good stuff. Pretend to break news that’s already been reported, assert a causal connection to another event without a single source to support it, then publish as fact. Good, hard-nosed, hard-left agenda journalganda. Here’s the “bombshell”:

Early on the morning of 11 January, helicopter-born US forces launched a surprise raid on a long-established Iranian liaison office in the city of Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. They captured five relatively junior Iranian officials whom the US accuses of being intelligence agents and still holds.

In reality the US attack had a far more ambitious objective, The Independent has learned. The aim of the raid, launched without informing the Kurdish authorities, was to seize two men at the very heart of the Iranian security establishment…

Better understanding of the seriousness of the US action in Arbil – and the angry Iranian response to it – should have led Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence to realise that Iran was likely to retaliate against American or British forces such as highly vulnerable Navy search parties in the Gulf. The two senior Iranian officers the US sought to capture were Mohammed Jafari, the powerful deputy head of the Iranian National Security Council, and General Minojahar Frouzanda, the chief of intelligence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, according to Kurdish officials…

“They were after Jafari,” Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of Massoud Barzani, told The Independent.

Yeah, he told the same thing to NPR back on January 15th, when this story still qualified as “news.” Follow the link to the audio; the interview with Hussein begins at 1:28.

That’s not the only part of that blockquoted passage that’s already been reported, either. The Telegraph broke the news a week ago about the U.S. warning Britain to be on guard for reprisals after the Irbil raid. For reasons known only to them, the Brits evidently didn’t move to a higher state of alert. The Independent doubtless would say that they would have done so if they knew the true targets of the raid were high-ranking Iranian officials, but that’s three times stupid. First, if Jafari was in fact the target of the raid, then we surely shared that information with the British (particularly given their exposure in southern Iraq, where Iranian influence is greatest). Second, as regular readers of this blog well know, high-ranking Iranian officers have been disappearing regularly. So if the Irbil raid wasn’t enough to make the Brits take precautions, the defections/kidnappings of IRGC generals should have been.

Third, as Dan Riehl reminds us, the U.S. actually released two Iranian “diplomats” who were seized in a raid in December, two weeks or so before the Irbil operation. One of them was the number three in the Revolutionary Guard and he didn’t appear to be there on an official visit: according to WaPo‘s sources, the two men had on them “detailed weapons lists, documents pertaining to shipments of weapons into Iraq, organizational charts, telephone records and maps, … [and] information about importing modern, specially shaped explosive charges into Iraq, weapons that have been used in roadside bombs to target U.S. military armored vehicles.” Those explosive charges are, of course, EFPs. When we last read about them, it was in the context of a New York Times report about how even some Democrats now accept, based on their own investigations, that Bush is right about Iran supplying them to people who want to kill American soldiers in Iraq.

How does the Independent, then, describe the relationship between Jafari and Iraq? Why, this way:

The attempt by the US to seize the two high-ranking Iranian security officers openly meeting with Iraqi leaders is somewhat as if Iran had tried to kidnap the heads of the CIA and MI6 while they were on an official visit to a country neighbouring Iran, such as Pakistan or Afghanistan.

Ah, but Iraq’s not just a “country neighboring Iran” and the IRGC isn’t just there to visit and the CIA and MI6 don’t answer to terrorist regimes. Iran’s trying to export rule-by-cleric to Baghdad; we’re trying to export democracy. Is the Independent agnostic as to which prevails?

Well, yeah. To borrow a line from InstaGlenn.

There are two sources for the piece — Fuad Hussein and another Kurdish official named Sadi Ahmed Pire — and neither one of them breathes a word about a connection between Irbil and the sailors being kidnapped. Here’s how Patrick Cockburn, the author of the article, ties it all up in a big bow:

US officials in Washington subsequently claimed that the five Iranian officials they did seize, who have not been seen since, were “suspected of being closely tied to activities targeting Iraq and coalition forces”. This explanation never made much sense. No member of the US-led coalition has been killed in Arbil and there were no Sunni-Arab insurgents or Shia militiamen there…

It seemed strange at the time that the US would so openly flout the authority of the Iraqi President and the head of the KRG simply to raid an Iranian liaison office that was being upgraded to a consulate, though this had not yet happened on 11 January…

The raid in Arbil was a far more serious and aggressive act. It was not carried out by proxies but by US forces directly. The abortive Arbil raid provoked a dangerous escalation in the confrontation between the US and Iran which ultimately led to the capture of the 15 British sailors and Marines – apparently considered a more vulnerable coalition target than their American comrades.

No source whatsoever for that last boldfaced part. No sources for the two other boldfaced parts either, which are actually phrased as speculation, which is what this all is. Read it and see for yourself; it sounds like a guy talking himself into believing his own too-clever-by-half theory — not unlike when I try to read the tea leaves about Sadr and the Mahdi Army. It’s not a news article, in other words, it’s a blog post. And it’s on the front page of the Independent and the top of the page at Drudge. Embarrassing.

Exit question: British media sure are good at anti-western propaganda, aren’t they?

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Brilliant deconstruction, Allah.

Bryan on April 2, 2007 at 9:50 PM

The media has been rosiefied.

Entelechy on April 2, 2007 at 9:52 PM

I thought I was the only one using the term “Shinola” anymore.

Good game ALLAHPUNDIT, Good game.

Vincenzo on April 2, 2007 at 10:11 PM

Y’all are the best. All the news in not so much of a nut shell, sliced and diced, easy to digest. Thanks.

Looks like Europe is now another few steps closer to becoming Eurarabia. Weaklings.

Zorro on April 2, 2007 at 10:18 PM

Indie makes the Guardian look like the National Review most of the time.

Ripclawe on April 2, 2007 at 10:28 PM

Sorry, but their contention that the boarding parties were “exposed” is crap.

NO Iranian “Patrol boats” could have done crap to my boarding team in the Gulf… because we had reasonable ROEs, and the backup of the DD we called home.

Romeo13 on April 2, 2007 at 10:32 PM

So, this is obviously one of the foreign press sources which Dr. Rosie is so keen on using for her conspiracy investigations.

jarhead05 on April 2, 2007 at 10:33 PM

Nice job, Allah. Glad to see some important context/facts brought to an overblown story.

Is there any story Drudge won’t mindlessly pimp on his front page? Does the man have no news judgment or capacity for critical thinking at all?

Slublog on April 2, 2007 at 10:33 PM

Sorry for the double trackback, Allah. Edited the post.

Slublog on April 2, 2007 at 10:57 PM

I love the trail of logic

1)Good Iranians come to help in Iraq
2)Bad Americans run a secret raid.
4)Brits captured.

Vincenzo on April 2, 2007 at 10:59 PM

Is there any story Drudge won’t mindlessly pimp on his front page? Does the man have no news judgment or capacity for critical thinking at all?

Slublog on April 2, 2007 at 10:33 PM

It’s not his job. He’s a link-aggregator, not an editor. He’ll “siren” anything likely to drive page traffic.

AP, this was a great job explaining this story to your readers. I hope that was your sole intent. If you thought you could change some left-wing British minds, I’m afraid it was wasted effort.

Rational thought is to the British Left as salt is to a garden slug.

Anton on April 2, 2007 at 11:06 PM

Another one of Iran’s allies exposed…

Do you think that these people even realize that when this is all said and done, their words just might come back to bite them?

Apparently not, since they are fighting (working) for the “right” side……..

PinkyBigglesworth on April 2, 2007 at 11:06 PM

Because, you see, everything bad the Iranians do is our fault. Everything bad we do is our fault. Everything bad anyone did in the past (like the Crusades) is our fault, because of eddies in the space-time continuum. Or something.

The Monster on April 2, 2007 at 11:07 PM

I need more duct tape.

The Monster on April 2, 2007 at 11:07 PM

It’s not his job. He’s a link-aggregator, not an editor. He’ll “siren” anything likely to drive page traffic.

True, but I think his desire for traffic above all else has done him more harm than good. I’m not sure I’ve forgiven him for the bad exit polling data.

Slublog on April 2, 2007 at 11:26 PM

True, but I think his desire for traffic above all else has done him more harm than good. I’m not sure I’ve forgiven him for the bad exit polling data.

Completely concur. And hey, Drudge puts up any story that mentions him as driving the news cycle –so — he comes under a similar scrutiny as any other outlet? I guess so.

Topsecretk9 on April 3, 2007 at 1:26 AM

Sorry for the double trackback, Allah. Edited the post.

Slublog on April 2, 2007 at 10:57 PM

How the hell did you edit a post?

Coronagold on April 3, 2007 at 7:04 AM

Sorry…meant the post on my site that was linking to this, not the post here.

Slublog on April 3, 2007 at 8:04 AM

This old article based on inside information sheds some light on why the UK media is so biased.

LGF Exclusive: How Much Does It Cost to Buy Global TV News?


TheBigOldDog on April 3, 2007 at 10:01 AM

Of course the story has now come full circle with news coming out today that SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE, Iran wants to negoiate for the return of their 5 non citizen hostages taken in Iraq.
Me thinks this was the game from day one. Well that and being allowed to pursue peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

LakeRuins on April 3, 2007 at 11:18 AM

Didn’t you know that, according to liberals, Bush and the Neocons are the root of all evil in the world? Never mind the fact that middle east rulers like the government of Iran has been seizing hostages since time immortal, (just look at middle east history for numerous examples) and that Iran has used this tactic several times in the past 40 years (444 days of the Iran Hostage Crisis, for example). Never mind the fact that Iran has been credibly linked with supporting insurgency attacks and has provided funding, equipment, and training to several insurgent and terrorist groups, both in Iraq and in other countries as well. Never mind the fact that Iran has repeatedly called for the destruction of America and our allies. Never mind all of this; It’s BUSH’S FAULT according to the loony left.

RedinBlueCounty on April 3, 2007 at 11:52 AM

Wait… do you mean to suggest that this isn’t Bush’s fault?

I was to understand that America was the only real actor on the world stage. You can’t possibly mean that other powers are responsible actors, culpable for their own actions… How can that be true if the entire human race – nay, the very planet itself (to quoth the Goracle) – is an inert body simply responding to American actions?

No, no. America is the only serpent in this Eden.

Lehosh on April 3, 2007 at 12:39 PM

Nonfactor and honora, how do you feel about this story, by a real reporter, versus Drudge, who’s not one?

Entelechy on April 3, 2007 at 12:50 PM

I hate to say it, but the exchange of hostages is a very old strategy in the Middle East, and is condoned under Sharia Law.

I have no doubt at all that we have taken Iranians prisoner in Iraq. There is a lot of evidence that they are supplying trainging and IEDs to insurgent forces. Why would you think they would NOT have to go there to set up networks of operatives, and get the Locals on their side.

Now, another Middle East custom is that you are honored by the “Rank” of the person who is negotiating with you. So high ranking Quds force officers in Iraq is quite believeable, even in a peaceful area…

Although problematic from a Western point of view… this fits into the IRAQI mindset… which is why there are now reports that IRAQ is negotiating for the release of these 5.

You all have to look at this from THEIR cultural imperatives, not ours…

Romeo13 on April 3, 2007 at 1:02 PM

Yet again, we get a little bit of Shinola and a lot of the other thing.

Romeo13 – You make some good points, but while we need to be aware of their cultural imperatives, it does not follow that we should adopt them.

The strangest conceit of Western Civilization is that all cultures deserve equal consideration. You will note that the cultures we defer to rarely return the favor.

Merovign on April 3, 2007 at 1:49 PM