Huffpost Homepage
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Mark Weisbrot and Robert Naiman Headshot

"People Without Names" (PWN) Using New York Times to Escalate Tensions With Iran

Posted: Updated:

Articles Reminiscent of Reporting That Led to Iraq War

It's Déjà Vu All Over Again

The front page headlines of the New York Times today (Saturday, February 10) bring back old memories:

"Deadliest Bomb in Iraq is Made By Iran, U.S. Says"

"Used Against U.S. Troops"

"Intelligence Data Points to Tehran as Supplying Roadside Weapon"

The article's main allegations come from "People Without Names" or PWN, described as "civilian and military officials from a broad range of government agencies." A "still classified American intelligence report that was prepared in 2006" is also cited. An "American intelligence assessment "is quoted as saying that "as part of its strategy in Iraq, Iran is implementing a deliberate, calibrated policy - approved by Supreme Leader Khamenei and carried out by the Quds Force - to provide explosives support and training to select Iraqi Shia militant groups to conduct attacks against coalition targets."

While it is plausible that Iran might be providing weapons to its allies in Iraq, it is not so obvious that Iran actually has any incentive to support attacks on US troops - since Iran is allied with the Iraq's Shiite government and wants it to succeed. A careful report in the Los Angeles Times indicated that top Iranian officials are not so eager for U.S. forces to withdraw ( "Iraq Pullout Talk Makes Iran Uneasy," Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times, November 16, 2006.)

The New York Times article provides no evidence for its reported allegations that Iran is seeking to promote attacks on U.S. forces.

The 1900-word article offers no quotes from any experts who might question the allegations made by PWN, although there are many who would.

Some readers might remember the author of the article, Michael R. Gordon, from the reporting prior to the Iraq war. His most notorious contribution was an article of September 8, 2002 entitled "U.S. Says Hussein Intensified Quest for A-Bomb Parts," co-authored with Judith Miller. It began:

"More than a decade after Saddam Hussein agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb, Bush administrations officials said today. In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium."

Vice-President Dick Cheney cited this September 8th, 2002 article the following Sunday on "Meet the Press," to make his case that Iraq was a nuclear threat. The aluminum tubes were later determined to be unrelated to nuclear fuel production, and Iraq's nuclear program to be non-existent.

The New York Times cited the September 8th, 2002 article and subsequent reporting on the aluminum tubes in its apology for the newspaper's reporting leading up to the Iraq War.

It is not clear, however, how much the newspaper has learned from its mistakes.

---

Get involved: www.justforeignpolicy.org