The latest on last week's 'incident' between Iranian and US naval vessels is that senior Pentagon officials apparently used an off-the-record Pentagon briefing to create a sensational media campaign around what was a relatively minor event. The initial press stories on the incident can all be traced to one press briefing, made by the Deputy assistant secretary of defense for public Affairs. But the information released at that briefing has since been repudiated by the Navy itself. The initial press release made by the Navy reported that several Iranian "small boats" had "maneuvered aggressively" in close proximity of one of the three U.S. ships that were in transit through Iranian waters in the Strait of Hormuz. But the Navy did not suggest that the Iranian boats had threatened the convoy, or that the Navy had nearly fired on the Iranian boats. The Iranian navy released a tape of the incident, which reveals a relatively routine interaction between the Iranian and US vessels: <clip 1> But the Pentagon released a very different-sounding tape, which was evidently doctored to add a voice saying QUOTE "I am coming at you", and, a bit later, "You will explode in fifteen minutes". After the pentagon briefing, CNN reported that "military officials" had told the station that the Iranian boats had not only carried out "threatening maneuvers," but had transmitted a message by radio that QUOTE, "I am coming at you" and QUOTE "you will explode." <audio clip 2> CBS News broadcast a similar story, adding the detail that the Iranian boats QUOTE "dropped boxes that could have been filled with explosives into the water." Other news outlets carried almost identical accounts of the incident. Despite these sensational stories, however, the actual 'incident' was actually relatively routine and commonplace. The fact that the story given to the mainstream media by Pentagon officials differs widely from what actually happened has not resulted in any corrections or apologies by the stations that broadcast the false news. Critics, including former naval officials, charge that this type of sensationalizing of falsified news stories is an attempt by the Bush administration to push an escalation of tension with Iran.
Sound Recording of Iran-US Strait of Hormuz Vessels: Pentagon Sound Bites Included
Tue, 01/15/2008 - 4:00pm