Tuesday, March 14, 2006

There's Proof and then there's No Proof

One day after George Bush followed up on the bogus ABC story that Cernig first caught and claimed that the Iranian government was behind the production of IEDs coming into Iraq, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Peter Pace, admitted that the US government had "no proof" to support the allegation:
The top U.S. military officer said on Tuesday the United States does not have proof that Iran's government is responsible for Iranians smuggling weapons and military personnel into Iraq.
Pace doesn't appear to have been fed enough Karl Rove talking point kool-aid and seems to have failed to grasp the nuance of implication without proof. His political skills are also wanting as he appears to have actually answered a question. Tsk, tsk.

Let's just see what George Bush said about the issue. It demonstrates the fine art of implication by a) stating nothing meaningful or definitive and b) laying responsiblity for any claims on someone else should the attempt to drum up concern prove less than genuine:
Some of the most powerful IED's we're seeing in Iraq today include components that came from Iran. Our Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, told the congress Tehran has been responsible for at least some of the increasing lethality of anti-coalition attacks by providing Shia' militia with the capability to build improvised explosive devices in Iraq. Coalition forces have seized IED's and components that were clearly produced in Iran.
Note that "coming from Iran," while practically meaningless (Al Qaeda is in Iran as well as the Iranian government and who knows who else), serves to conflate the origin of the devices with those who would be implicated, i.e. the Iranian government. This is an entirely specious argument, though it apparently flies well with the press, who would likely blame the Russians for arming the insurgents if the Bush administration revealed the startling fact that the Iraqis were using Kalashnikovs.

We can also see Negroponte acting as the point-man on the scam here, an unelected wonk, answerable to no one but Bush. This would be the same tactic as was employed by the "sixteens words" of the now infamous SOTU speech, wherein responsibility for Bush's claim of Iraq yellow cake purchases was foisted upon "British intelligence."

In light of what General Pace admitted, let's just review what administration critic, Richard Clarke had said about this claim in the previous ABC pentagon press release:
I think the evidence is strong that the Iranian government is making these IEDs, and the Iranian government is sending them across the border.
I had previously noted the odd inclusion of Clarke as nothing but a legitimizer of the claim, despite the fact that he likely would know nothing of the so-called evidence:
Of note is the inclusion of the opinion of Richard Clarke, a severe critic of the Bush adminstration, but who can hardly be considered "in the loop" these days. His presence in the story appears to be there for no reason other than to add an air of credibility to Pentagon claims. This is always a nifty media spin trick: reveal the opinion of a critic, whether he would or could know anything about the evidence or not.
Indeed, this proved entirely correct and Pace's statement today has demonstrated quite well that Clarke knew nothing of the evidence. There was none.

Right wingers far and wide had not only uncritically accepted Clarke's opinion but had been pointing out that its inclusion must have meant that the story was legitimate. Saps, as usual. That was exactly what it was designed to do. And General Peter Pace has just gone and screwed it all up.


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