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Analysis of the Strait of Hormuz Incident w/ Iran

Pentagon officials used an off-the-record briefing to create a sensational media campaign around the Strait of Hormuz incident.
Strait of Hormuz
Strait of Hormuz
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. (Go to  http://www.kboo.fm/node/5590 for audio)

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.

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."

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.

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Similarity bet. Minot-Barksdale loose nuke and this... 21.Jan.2008 16:41

Wayne Madsen, posted by Styve

January 17, 2008 -- Bush sides with Israel on Iran; rejects US Intelligence Community estimate on Iran

publication date: Jan 17, 2008

January 17, 2008 -- Bush sides with Israel on Iran; rejects US Intelligence Community estimate on Iran

President George W. Bush has become the first president in the history of the United States to side with a foreign nation against America's own intelligence and military establishment. Newsweek magazine has reported that Bush told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other Israeli leaders that he does not agree with the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) by America's civilian and military intelligence agencies that Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that currently, Iran does not pose a nuclear weapons threat. The intelligence on which the NIE was based was primarily gleaned from a major breakthrough on the human intelligence (HUMINT) front regarding Iran. America's HUMINT on Iran's nuclear program was dealt a severe blow in 2003 when the Bush White House leaked the name of Valerie Plame Wilson and her Brewster Jennings & Associates non-official cover CIA counter proliferation network to the media.

The NIE on Iran was released in December 2007 and dampened the neocon rush to war with Iran. According to Newsweek, Bush told the Israelis that the NIE analysis and conclusions were not under his control but he did not agree with the findings on Iran and the tamping down of its nuclear threat. White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said, "He [Bush] does not believe that the NIE that was produced ... should provide anyone any comfort that Iran is not a threat."

WMR has learned that Bush committed himself to supporting an Israeli government plan to launch a three-pronged major military assault on Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, and on Iranian nuclear facilities. There is also some evidence that the non-existent naval "incident" between U.S. Navy ships and Iranian patrol boats in the Strait of Hormuz was a staged event concocted by neocons still present within the Department of Defense and White House, as well as by Israeli intelligence elements, to create a "Gulf of Tonkin"-like incident to drive the United States into a military engagement with Iran.

However, just as U.S. Air Force senior brass, aided by officers and enlisted personnel at Minot and Barksdale Air Force Bases who prevented a B-52 carrying nuclear armed cruise missiles from flying to the Middle East last Labor Day weekend for a planned attack on Iran, senior U.S. Navy officers stepped in to avert a pretext for conflict with Iran.

The naval "incident" was hyped as Bush was readying for his departure to Israel where he and all major Israeli political leaders, including Olmert, Labor Party leader and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Likud Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu had all lined up to support a U.S.-backed Israeli strike on Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. Moreover, Bush met with two of the most extreme members of the Israeli government, anti-Arab Moldovan Jewish racist Avigdor Lieberman and Rafi Eitan, the Israeli intelligence control officer for convicted and jailed-for-life Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. While in Israel, Bush was pressed by Israeli leaders to pardon Pollard or commute his sentence to time served.

Accompanying Bush to Israel was deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, himself convicted in the Iran-contra scandal and has been rumored to have been the identity of a major Israeli mole, code-named "Mega," in the Reagan administration. Mega was the ultimate coordinator within the Reagan administration for the Israeli intelligence penetration of U.S. intelligence.

Mega had also reportedly controlled Douglas Feith, a Middle East analyst in the Reagan National Security Council. Hired by National Security Adviser Richard Allen, Feith was fired in 1982 by Allen's successor, Judge William Clark, after the FBI began an investigation of Feith for allegedly passing classified information to the Israeli embassy in Washington. Feith was re-hired by the Pentagon's Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Richard Perle. Perle's name has also been associated by some intelligence observers as the actual identity of Mega.

Abrams is a hard-liner in the White House, an ally of Vice President Dick Cheney, and someone who maintains close and worrisome links to Israel's right-wing, particularly Netanyahu. All major parties in Israel are taking a militaristic hard line prior to the expected release of the Winograd Commission Report on January 30. The report is expected to criticize Israel's conduct of the 2006 war against Lebanon and Barak, Olmert, and Netanyahu are trying to position themselves to prove that Israel's perceived military prowess is restored by attacking Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. Abrams is pushing for a Netanyahu win in the elections that are expected to be called after the release of the Winograd Report.

After they left Israel, Bush, Abrams, and others on Bush's delegation tried to whip up anti-Iran war fever in the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia, to no avail. The Saudis and other Gulf states had already been made aware of the attempt by Bush and the Israelis to stage the naval incident in the Strait of Hormuz to justify an attack on Iran.

The Pentagon's public affairs office was also involved in hyping the naval incident. CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, who reports to CNN's Washington Bureau Chief Wolf Blitzer, a former official of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), carried the water for the Pentagon public affairs team, particularly media relations chief Bryan Whitman, and misled the public with the bogus story of Iran's boats threatening the Navy ships and reporting that the transmission, "I am coming at you . . . you will explode after a few minutes" came from the Iran boats. Another false story from Pentagon sources that the Iranian boats placed explosive-laden boxes in the after near the Navy ships was also broadcast by the corporate media.

However, even though the Pentagon, Bush, and Bush's Israeli moles hoped to enlist the support of the commanding officers of the US Navy ships in the fakery to create a "Wag the Dog" incident with Iran, Captain David Adler, commanding officer of the USS Port Royal, and Commander Jeffrey James, commanding officer of the USS Hopper, refused to be drawn into the neocon game plan. Officers and enlisted personnel with the US Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain, also refused to participate in the new Tonkin incident, although Fifth Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff collaborated with Whitman is perpetuating the hoax at a January 7 news conference.

Although the deep-voiced "threat" transmission is being blamed on a radio pirate dubbed the "Filipino Monkey" who used VHF marine channel 16 to broadcast the threat hoax, U.S. Navy spokesmen said the transmission could have originated from any ship or shore station in the area. There is some speculation that a Dolphin-class Israeli submarine, either the INS Dolphin, INS Leviatan, or INS Tekuma, one of which is always on patrol in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea in the event Israel decides to launch its submarine-launched Popeye Turbo nuclear-armed cruise missiles at Iranian targets, has the electronic warfare capabilities to stage a meaconing, intrusion, jamming, and interference (MIJI) operation at the time of the closest point of approach between the three U.S. Navy ships and the Iranian patrol vessels. The threatening accented voice heard is definitely not Farsi or Arabic but sounds more Eastern European or Russian in nature, particularly the pronunciation of the word "explode."

Another possibility is that the MIJI operation could have been conducted from a shore station operating together with an aerial drone.

MIJI operation could have originated from ship or submarine in Strait of Hormuz area or from a shore station in Omani territory.

As with the suspicious deaths of a number of Air Force enlisted and officer personnel just prior to and in the wake of the Labor Day weekend B-52 incident, Information Systems Technician Second Class Menelek Brown, serving on board the USS Hopper, was reported on the same day the Pentagon was hyping the naval incident to have gone overboard in the approaches to the Strait of Hormuz. The Navy reported that Brown had been declared dead on January 5 after reportedly going overboard in the Arabian Sea just prior to the Hopper's transit of the Strait of Hormuz and the "encounter" with the Iranian boats on January 6. Brown's body was never found although the Hopper, Port Royal, and USS Ingraham all conducted a search and rescue operation.

In virtual defiance of the Bush administration, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen and Central Command Commander William Fallon have engaged in efforts to work out rules of engagement between Iran and the United States to avoid the type of incident that almost led to war on January 6. Fallon is on record in opposing armed conflict with Iran.

Bush's siding with Israel against the U.S. intelligence community over the NIE on Iran and opposing the military's (as opposed to the civilian Pentagon leadership) desire to negotiate military-to-military links between the United States and Iran has driven a wedge between intelligence and military officials on one hand and the Bush administration on the other over U.S. policy in the Middle East.