Pentagon: Oh, by the way, Iran fired at a U.S. drone in the Persian Gulf seven days ago

Just something that slipped their mind. Happened five days before a presidential election, they revealed it two days after the election. Perfectly up-and-up.

Here’s the real question: Why’d Iran fire on it?

Spokesman George Little said the incident, which marks the first time the Iranians have fired on a U.S. drone, occurred Nov. 1 at 4:50 a.m. ET. He said the unarmed, unmanned drone was conducting “routine surveillance” over the Persian Gulf when it was “intercepted” by Iran. He said the MQ1 Predator drone, which was not hit, was not in Iranian airspace.

According to Little, two Iranian jets fired twice, missing on both attempts — the drone headed away from the Iranian coast, landing safely soon after at an undisclosed location. The Iranian jets pursued the drone for a short period before giving up…

Little stressed that the drone was flying 16 nautical miles off the coast of Kuwait in international waters, and never entered the 12-mile limit that would constitute Iranian territory.

Top speed for a Predator is 135 mph. How’d they miss?

The temptation here is to wonder whether Iran was trying to bait O into some sort of conflict right before the election. I’m skeptical, just because there are much surer ways they could have done that if they wanted to. In fact, two days ago, Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence published a report on a potential war with Israel that was actually somewhat conciliatory towards Obama:

The report, titled “Reasons and Obstacles of a Military Attack by the Zionist Regime Against Iran,” also makes a clear distinction between positions on Iran’s nuclear program held by the Israeli government and the U.S. administration. It says President Obama “hopes to solve this issue peacefully and through diplomacy.” It goes on to say that Obama does not think Iran’s enrichment program, which Iran insists is solely for peaceful purposes, is an imminent threat and that, in addition to diplomacy, he thinks “severe sanctions” can help control the situation.

With Obama’s reelection Tuesday, there is guarded hope in Tehran and Washington that a solution agreeable to all parties in the nuclear standoff might finally be possible.

Strange tone to take if they’re trying to pick a fight. Either a couple of pilots went rogue, possibly because they misjudged where the drone was vis-a-vis Iranian airspace, or the regime ordered the lamest, most easily ignored sort of provocation in hopes of … forcing an aggressive response? Like I say, if they wanted to do that, why not attack a U.S. ship in the Gulf and guarantee it?

As for why the Pentagon refused to mention this until now, I invite military readers to speculate. If there was some sort of election-related gag order issued, I assume it’s less because O thought revealing this would absolutely hurt him than because it would introduce an element of unpredictability that could go either way. Romney obviously would have used it as evidence of weakness: Iran wouldn’t dare take potshots at an American drone with a Republican in office, etc. Problem is, that argument didn’t do much for him as applied to Benghazi. And given the moronic applause for O’s handling of the hurricane, there may well have been some sort of “rally ’round the flag” effect in the last few days that ended up boosting Obama’s numbers. If I were him, that would have been my biggest worry from a strictly political standpoint — that if the Pentagon announced what happened days before the polls opened, the opposition would use it as an excuse to discredit my victory. “Obama only won because of that dirty trick involving the drone.” He probably figured it wasn’t worth rolling the dice in putting it out there before the vote.

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