NYT Falls for Bogus Iran Weapons Charges
Completely Implausible Numbers are Thrown Around
Repeat of Judy Miller Scandal
This NYT article depends on unnamed USG sources who alleged that 25 percent of US military deaths and woundings in Iraq in October-December of 2006 were from explosively formed penetrator bombs fashioned in Iran and given to Shiite militias:
' In the last three months of 2006, attacks using the weapons accounted for a significant portion of Americans killed and wounded in Iraq, though less than a quarter of the total, military officials say.'
This claim is one hundred percent wrong. Because 25 percent of US troops were not killed fighting Shiites in those three months. Day after day, the casualty reports specify al-Anbar Province or Diyala or Salahuddin or Babil, or Baghdad districts such as al-Dura, Ghaziliyah, Amiriyah, etc.--and the enemy fighting is clearly Sunni Arab guerrillas. And, Iran is not giving high tech weapons to Baathists and Salafi Shiite-killers. It is true that some casualties were in "East Baghdad" and that Baghdad is beginning to rival al-Anbar as a cemetery for US troops:
Robert Burns of AP observes,
"The increasingly urban nature of the war is reflected in the fact that a higher percentage of U.S. deaths have been in Baghdad lately. Over the course of the war through Feb. 6, at least 1,142 U.S. troops have died in Anbar province, the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency, according to an AP count. That compares with 713 in Baghdad. But since Dec. 28, 2006, there were more in Baghdad than in Anbar - 33 to 31."
Over all, only a fourth of US troops had been killed Baghdad (713 or 23.7 percent of about 3000) through the end of 2006. But US troops aren't fighting Shiites anyplace else-- Ninevah, Diyala, Salahuddin--these are all Sunni areas. For a fourth of US troops to be being killed or wounded by Shiite EFPs, all of the Baghdad deaths would have to be at the hands of Shiites!
The US military often does not announce exactly where in Baghdad a GI is killed and so I found it impossible to do a count of Sunni versus Shiite neighborhoods. But we know that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was running interference for the Mahdi Army last fall, and it seems unlikely to me that very many US troops died fighting Shiites in Baghdad. The math of Gordon's article does not add up at all if this were Shiite uses of Iran-provided EFPs.
So the unnamed sources at the Pentagon are reduced to implying that Iran is giving sophisticated bombs to its sworn enemies and the very groups that are killing its Shiite Iraqi allies every day. Get real!
Moreover, there is no evidence of Iranian intentions to kill US troops. If Iran was giving EFPs to anyone, it was to the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and its Badr Corps paramilitary, for future use. SCIRI is the main US ally in Iraq aside from the Kurds. I don't know of US troops killed by Badr, certainly not any time recently.
It is far more likely that corrupt arms merchants are selling and smuggling these things than that there is direct government- to- militia transfer. It is possible that small Badr Corps stockpiles were shared or sold. That wouldn't have been Iran's fault.
Some large proportion of US troops being killed in Iraq are being killed with bullets and weapons supplied by Washington to the Iraqi army, which are then sold by desperate or greedy Iraqi soldiers on the black market. This problem of US/Iraqi government arms getting into the hands of the Sunni Arab guerrillas is far more significant and pressing than whatever arms smugglers bring in from Iran.
We now know that Iran came to the US early in 2003 with a proposal to cooperate with Washington in overthrowing Saddam Hussein, and that VP Richard Bruce Cheney rebuffed it. The US could have had Iran on its side in Iraq!
The attempt to blame these US deaths on Iran is in my view a black psy-ops operation. The claim is framed as though this was a matter of direct Iranian government transfer to the deadliest guerrillas. In fact, the most fractious Shiites are the ones who hate Iran the most. If 25 percent of US troops are being killed and wounded by explosively formed projectiles, then someone should look into who is giving those EFPs to Sunni Arab guerrillas. It isn't Iran.
Finally, it is obvious that if Iran did not exist, US troops would still be being blown up in large numbers. Sunni guerrillas in al-Anbar and West Baghdad are responsible for most of the deaths. The Bush administration's talent for blaming everyone but itself for its own screw-ups is on clear display here.
For more skepticism, see this column at Huffington.