Monday, October 25, 2010

Beeman--Iran's Involvement in Iraq--Wikileaks Documents don't prove a thing

Michael R. Gordon and Andrew W. Lehren wrote a long front-page article in The New York Times on Saturday, October 22 entitled "Leaked Reports Detail Iran’s Aid for Iraqi Militias"

This article is based on documents produced by the whistleblower site, Wikileaks.

Readers should be deeply skeptical of claims that the the NY Times reporting on Iran's involvement in Iraq based on the Wikileaks documents constitutes some kind of smoking gun about Iran's involvement in attacks on the U.S. military, or, actually, that the reporting constitutes anything new at all.

These Wikileaked documents are all internal U.S. military dispatches. They merely report what the military believes to be true. In fact, everything reported in the Times by Gordon and Lehren--all the stuff about missiles, EFT's and Hezbollah-- have already been claimed by the military over the years, and dutifully reported by the Times, sometimes with "enhancements" from the writers, and others such as Michael Slackman.  It should be noted that when the military tried to show the captured equipment, they couldn't trace even one piece definitively to Iran. Having a leaked memo expressing the military's belief that it this equipment was Iranian without further proof doesn't make this any more believable. The Times had the gall to show a picture of the non-conclusive materiel along with their story as if now their claims would render the claims valid.

The only thing that is different in this report is that the Wikileaks documents give us the verbatim internal reports. Merely having them stated in this form doesn't constitute proof of the assertions. Indeed, Gordon and Lehren themselves point out that the claims can not be verified. They further pad their article with negative quotes about Iran from U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Crocker, unrelated to the Wikileaks documents, as if his speculations constituted better proof. Some commentators have been somehow impressed by these documents, but a close inspection shows that they provide no more proof than anyone had before.

The Times has much to report regarding this fantastic trove of documents, Why they chose to feature this story is obvious to me. They have made this story a running epic over the last seven years with no end of criticism. They now seem to be returning to the well with these documents, but the evidence is no more compelling for its repetition.