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The Bush administration’s campaign of lies and misinformation against Iran
As it prepares for military aggression against Iran, the Bush administration is once again resorting to a concoction of lies, misinformation and half-truths to provide the pretext. In his January 10 speech announcing an escalation of the war in Iraq, President Bush denounced Syria and Iran for backing anti-US insurgents and declared the American military would “seek out and destroy” these networks. He has since confirmed ordering US troops to “capture or kill” Iranian agents in Iraq.
Bush’s speech has been followed by a steady stream of top US officials condemning Iran’s alleged “meddling” in Iraq—all relayed to the world by a compliant media. To date not a shred of evidence has been provided to support the allegations. Nevertheless, like Bush’s claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the accusations against Iran are simply repeated ad naseum as fact.
US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, was due to present a “dossier” to the media on January 31 aimed at proving US contentions about Iranian activities in Iraq. The briefing in Baghdad, however, was cancelled without explanation—for a second time, with no future date given. While various excuses were given, the real reason for putting the dossier “on hold” was the lack of evidence and concern about the public reaction in the US.
According to the Los Angeles Times on February 1, US officials were concerned that “some of the material may be inconclusive”. They wanted to “avoid repeating the embarrassment that followed the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, when it became clear that the information cited to justify the war was incorrect,” the newspaper explained. “We don’t want a repeat of the situation we had when [former US Secretary of State] Colin Powell went before the United Nations. People are going to be sceptical,” one official explained.
A former senior defence official bluntly told the Los Angeles Times that the task of presenting a case against Iran to a sceptical American public was “a losing proposition”. Others explained that in interagency meetings on Iran, State Department and intelligence officials believed that “some of the material overstates murky evidence and casts a negative light on Iranians who may not be guilty”. Another claimed that if sensitive intelligence material were withdrawn, “the result could be a weak and unconvincing report”.
The dubious character of the US evidence was confirmed by National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley in the course of a press conference on February 3. In response to persistent questioning about the cancellation of the Baghdad briefing, Hadley finally blurted out: “The truth is, quite frankly, we thought the briefing overstated. And we sent it back to get it narrowed and focused on the facts.”
Hadley’s press conference had been called to release an unclassified summary of a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq compiled by all 16 US intelligence agencies. As well as providing a bleak picture of the prospects for the US occupation of Iraq, the document played down the significance of outside influence on the situation in Iraq.