"Investigating, Rather Than Reciting, Bush Claims Re: Iran"

Glenn Greenwald notes a change occurring in the media, based in part on how real journalists were able to debunk Fox (er... it's not exactly News, now is it?) claims, that at just age six, Senator and presidential hopeful Barack Obama attended a madrassa or graduate school for "Islamic terrorism" - more about this in the next post.

Greenwald, however, sees some of the same standard of investigating rather than merely reciting endlessly Bush's latest (wild) claims about Iran in his ever-loudening drumbeat toward war with that nation:

Encouragingly, the media is beginning to engage in a similar exercise concerning the President's war-pushing accusations towards Iran. And they are finding that those accusations have about as much basis as Fox's Obama/Hillary story did.

In his "surge" speech two weeks ago, the President claimed that "Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops." As a result, he vowed: "We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq." By all accounts, he intends to repeat that accusation and those threats against Iran in his State of the Union speech.

If this were 2003, every front page headline and lead-in to every television news programs would declare: "Iran responsible for attacks on U.S. troops." The more conscientious ones might add the phrase ", the President reveals." But all of the stories would contain one paragraph after the next asserting the administration's claims about Iran as fact, and would include no investigation of those claims or any real contrary assertions. That was government propaganda masquerading as "independent reporting" -- entire stories, day after day, published as fact based on nothing other than the claims of the government ("Bush officials said"; "senior administration officials today disclosed", etc. etc.).

But, at least in some notable places, the opposite is occurring with Bush's provocative Iran claims. Back in October, The Washington Post published an excellent article by Ellen Knickmeyer -- headlined: British Find No Evidence of Arms Traffic from Iran -- which detailed the fact that the British military in Southern Iraq, where one would expect to find evidence of Iranian arms traffic if it actually existed in any substantial form, has found nothing of the sort:
Since late August, British commandos in the deserts of far southeastern Iraq have been testing one of the most serious charges leveled by the United States against Iran: that Iran is secretly supplying weapons, parts, funding and training for attacks on U.S.-led forces in Iraq. . . . . There's just one thing.

"I suspect there's nothing out there," the commander, Lt. Col. David Labouchere, said last month, speaking at an overnight camp near the border. "And I intend to prove it."

Other senior British military leaders spoke as explicitly in interviews over the previous two months. 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 military officials said.

"I have not myself seen any evidence -- and I don't think any evidence exists -- of government-supported or instigated" armed support on Iran's part in Iraq, British Defense Secretary Des Browne said in an interview in Baghdad in late August.
Today, The LA Times published a similar article -- headlined: Scant Evidence Found of Iran-Iraq Arms Link. Detailing the (largely futile) efforts to find evidence of Iranian arms shipments in the Southern border province of Diyala (a highly likely locale for such activity, if it existed), the Times reports that while the U.S. military claims to have found some Iranian mortars and antitank mines in Iraq, "there has been little sign of more advanced weaponry crossing the border, and no Iranian agents have been found." The article added: