Diane continues her Great Terrorists Of The Middle East tour this week with a layover in Tehran to chat with Ahmadinejad. The transcript’s here. As with Assad, it’s nothing but spin and evasion, although at least she spares herself the indignity this time of asking a killer what’s on his iPod. One memorable moment not shown below came when she called him on his threat to deploy 52,000 suicide bombers — a threat he himself never made, which she had to acknowledge when he challenged her on it. What she doesn’t tell you, though, is that Mike Wallace brought up the same subject in his interview with Ahmadinejad last year, and Mahdi was more equivocal then:
“Last one,” Wallace said. “You have a special unit of martyr seekers in your revolutionary guard. They claim they have 52,000 trained suicide bombers ready to attack American and British targets if America should attack Iran.”
“So, are you expecting the Americans to threaten us and we sit idly by and watch them with our hands … tied?” Ahmadinejad said.
Instead of the interview, I’ve cut parts of another segment she did on the headscarf. It was balanced — she mentioned women’s rights activists working in Iran as well as the fact that women are still stoned to death for various crimes in some parts of the country — but I couldn’t let her little analogy to nuns seen here pass without comment. According to Amir Taheri, the hijab isn’t a centuries-old tradition in Iran; it originated in the 1970s and became a symbol of the revolution. That’s true of most of the supposedly timeless religious mandates that govern female modesty in the country — they fluctuate along with the leadership’s political fortunes, with things having gotten much tougher for women since our pal Mahdi was elected. Sawyer doesn’t mention that either.
Update: With exquisite timing, Queen Rania of Jordan notes an inconvenient truth.