1/16/08—George W. Bush's goal of elevating the Iran threat (New York Times, 1/8/08) got a major boost last week from the news media, who failed to question the Pentagon's alarmist account of an encounter between U.S. and Iranian boats.
On January 6 in the Strait of Hormuz, the entrance to the Persian Gulf, U.S. Navy ships were approached by five small speedboats, allegedly affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. After some radio communication, the Iranian boats turned away.
Overwhelmingly, U.S. media took the White House's alarmist version of these events at face value. The L.A. Times (1/8/08) reported:
Officials said the boats came within 200 yards of the warships and radioed the Americans. "They said something like, 'I am coming at you and you will explode,'" a military official said. "That is overt aggression."Corporate media sometimes reported the official claims as fact. CNN's Kyra Philipps (CNN Newsroom, 1/7/08) summed up this "high drama in the high seas": "Five Iranian boats threaten three U.S. ships in international waters. One even radioed that the U.S. ship would soon explode."
Naval and Pentagon officials have said that the video and audio were recorded separately, then combined. On Wednesday, Pentagon officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak officially, said they were still trying to determine if the transmission came from the speedboats or elsewhere.Navy warship crews and veterans interviewed by Navy Times (1/15/08) raised the possibility that the voice featured in the video was a maritime heckler, well-known to American ships operating in the Middle East, "who listens in on ship-to-ship radio traffic and then jumps on the net shouting insults and epithets."
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.
This story was published on January 17, 2008.