An incident involving U.S. and Iranian naval vessels illustrates the kind of danger that Americans face every day.
· “In what U.S. officials called a serious provocation, Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats harassed and provoked three U.S. Navy ships in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, threatening to explode the American vessels. …a Pentagon official said. “It is the most serious provocation of this sort that we’ve seen yet.”--Associated Press, 1/7/08
· “We urge the Iranians to refrain from such provocative actions that could lead to a dangerous incident in the future”--White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe
National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said the incident “almost involved an exchange of fire between our forces and Iranian forces”.
· “The incident ought to remind us all just how real is the threat posed by Iran and just how ready we are to meet that threat if it comes to it.”--Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff
The “news” shows were quick to roll out their “Showdown with Iran” graphics and do their part hyping the dangerous nature of the confrontation. ABC’s Jonathan Karl quoted a Pentagon official as saying the Iranian boats “were a heartbeat from being blown up”.
Of course, the ChickenHawks on Fox network’s Hannity & Colmes (1/9/08) are always ready to rumble:
· “It wouldn’t have bothered me one bit, Geraldo, if we blew those ships right out of the water.”-- Sean Hannity
· “What harm would have come if we had fired a 50 caliber machine gun at one of those vessels?”-- Geraldo Rivera
Ominous news reports were accompanied by a video provided by the Pentagon, showing the menacing Iranian speedboats while a voice with a Mideastern accent said something like “I am coming to you. You will explode after a few minutes.”
Well, if that doesn’t prove how dangerous Iran is, I don’t know what will--and just as President Bush was about to go on a Mideast tour to rally opposition to Iran’s influence in the region. How’s that for timing?
Mr. Bush said the incident proved his assertion that “[T]he Iranians are capable of acting recklessly.”
· [I]t was a dangerous gesture on their part. We have made it clear publicly, and they know our position, and that is, there will be serious consequences if they attack our ships, pure and simple. And my advice to them is, don't do it.”--George W. Bush, speaking in Israel, 1/9/08
...But, like so many of the other conveniently timed stories that have come out of the Pentagon during the Bush years; this dramatic incident is mostly lies and exaggerations.
The sound and picture in the Pentagon’s video clip of the incident were recorded separately and spliced together; giving the distinct impression that the warning was coming from the patrol boats--even though no one even pretends to know where the radio message came from. A veteran Navy officer that had served on a destroyer in the Persian Gulf informed the New York Times that racial slurs and threats are very common on the radio frequency that ships use to communicate in the Persian Gulf waters. The Times also noted that Pentagon’s sound clip had no background sounds of the sea, or wind, or the sound of a motor--as it would if it had originated on one the Iranian patrol boats.
On January 10th, the Iranian government released a four-minute video taken on one of the patrol boats involved in the incident, showing the boat commander contacting the American to make a routine identity check as the American warship passed near the Iranian coast. (The Iranian video contained real-time sounds of sea, wind, and the boat’s engine)