Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pentagon Sexed Up Straits of Hormuz Incident

Gareth Porter of analyses the dissemination of the Straits of Hormuz incident and provides a clear description of how what was a pretty routine and normal event for the Navy in those waters, was warmed up by the Pentagon into the international incident that pointed to Iran as an aggressive enemy.

The timing is interesting for this propaganda piece, which came on the eve of a trip by George Bush to the Middle East where he intended, amongst other things to beg the Saudis for more oil and also convince Middle Eastern leaders that Iran was a threat. The incident itself however was so normal that neither the Navy nor the Pentagon saw fit to report it. Only after a strategic decision was taken to ramp up the anti-Iranian rhetoric, did military officials turn it into the story that it wasn’t.

Central to the events of that day is the recording of a threatening voice that is heard on the accompanying video. That voice, it turns out was spliced into the recording in order to give the argument that the Iranian boats were threatening, some weight:

A separate audio recording of that voice, which came across the VHF channel open to anyone with access to it, was spliced into a video on which the voice apparently could not be heard. That was a political decision, and Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros of the Pentagon's Public Affairs Office told IPS the decision on what to include in the video was "a collaborative effort of leadership here, the Central Command, and Navy leadership in the field."

The whole was intended as a demonstration of how dangerous Iran is to the peace efforts of the coalition forces in the area and was designed to coincide with efforts by the Bush Administration to align the Middle Eastern countries with the USA and Israel in their aggressive anti-Iranian stance.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Olmert of Israel, George Bush went so far as to discredit his own country’s NIE on Iran, which stated that Iran had in fact ceased work on a nuclear weapons program as far back as 2003. The Newsweek article quotes a senior Bush Administration official as saying:

"He told the Israelis that he can't control what the intelligence community says, but that [the NIE's] conclusions don't reflect his own views"

I guess his own views are those very same gut feelings that told him Iraq was full of WMDs. In my opinion the guy should seek out a gastrologist.

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