Iran: Who “Sexed Up” the Intel?

Posted by Cutler on October 04, 2006
Iran, Right Arabists

Apparently, Washington Post reporter Ellen Knickmeyer isn’t going to fall for any “sexed up” intelligence reports in the run up to a war with Iran.

Confronted with allegations that Iran is arming Iraqi militias, Knickmeyer has penned an article–“British Find No Evidence of Arms Traffic from Iran“–suggesting these accusations may be fabricated.

Britain, whose forces have had responsibility for security in southeastern Iraq since the war began, has found nothing to support the Americans’ contention that Iran is providing weapons and training in Iraq, several senior [British] military officials said…

“It’s a question of intelligence versus evidence,” Labouchere’s commander, Brig. James Everard of Britain’s 20th Armored Brigade, said last month at his base in the southern region’s capital, Basra. “One hears word of mouth, but one has to see it with one’s own eyes. These are serious consequences, aren’t they?

They are. Allegations that Iran or its agents are providing military support for Iraqi Shiite Muslim militias and other armed groups is one of the most contentious issues raising tensions between Washington and Tehran…

Evidence of Iranian armed intervention in Iraq is “irrefutable,” one U.S. commander in Iraq, Brig. Gen. Michael Barbero, told Pentagon reporters in August. The lead U.S. military spokesman in Iraq renews the allegation almost weekly in Baghdad…

Iraq’s remote Maysan province is “a funnel for Iranian munitions,” said Wayne White, who led the State Department’s Iraq intelligence team during the war and now is an adjunct scholar at the Washington-based Middle East Institute. White said that in the first year of the occupation a well-placed friend had seen “considerable physical evidence of it, and just about everyone in al-Amarah knew about it.” Al-Amarah is the commonly used name of Maysan province…

[One quick clarification before moving to the heart of the matter: Why does Knickmeyer try to make these into “the Americans’ contentions” refuted by “Britain“? The US has been banging this drum. But–notwithstanding the investigations by these British military officials–“Britain” has hardly been silent on the issue. It was, after all, Tony Blair who issued one of the earliest, most explicit, high profile accuastions concerning Iranian efforts to arm Shiite militias back in October 2005. If “Britain” has made an about-face on this issue, Knickmeyer should dig up the PM’s retraction of the accusation. I couldn’t find one…]

White Wash

Let us stipulate, for the sake of argument, that Knickmeyer and her British sources have actually managed to debunk some trumped up charges about Iranian efforts to arm Shiite militias.

One of the most revealing elements in this exposé is the source of the drumbeat for the Iranian link.

Right Zionists?

Well, nobody should underestimate Right Zionist animosity toward the Iranian regime–or Sadr’s Shiite militia.

But in this instance the leading Iran hawk cited by Knickmeyer is a Right Arabist, Wayne White.

In several prior posts (here, here, and here, for example), I have argued that the same Right Arabists who seem so “dovish” on Iraq are usually quite hawkish on Iran.

That is why it should not be all that surprising to find Wayne White banging the drums about Iran.

Check out White in an appearance–opposite Right Zionist Reuel Gerecht–on The News Hour from September 21, 2005.

All of his points are drawn from the Right Arabist playbook:

WAYNE WHITE: The whole issue of militias here is critical. Throughout the country, militias have not been taken down as they were supposed to be… They’ve even been used unwisely, I believe, in some of our operations against Sunni-Arab strongholds in northwestern Iraq…

US military commanders, that the insurgency cannot be taken down militarily. It must… the solution must be political. And on a political front, we’re only moving forward in fits and starts and in some areas not at all. So that’s very, very distressing.

For White, the Shiite militias represent a crisis; the Sunni insurgency can and should be coopted.

Needless to say, this map of the world drew fire from Gerecht:

REUEL GERECHT: I would dissent a little bit. I think the American military sometimes is giving it an easy way out. I think much of the American military has not wanted to engage in a counterinsurgency campaign…

[T]he notion that you’re going to get a political solution to the Sunni insurgency I think is a bit overstated. I don’t think it’s possible to have that political solution unless you have an active counterinsurgency campaign where the Americans actually try to occupy the ground and ensure that cities remain clean of insurgents. We haven’t seen that. So far the Pentagon has gone has shown no desire to go in that direction…

All of which only goes to show that White–the guy Knickmeyer hits for sexed up “intel” on Iran–is a classic Right Arabist.

Funny, I thought Right Zionists were the only imperialists and warmongers capable of such skulduggery.

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