U.S. Radically Changes Its Story of the Boats in Iranian Waters: to an Even More Suspicious Version

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U.S. Radically Changes Its Story of the Boats in Iranian Waters: to an Even More Suspicious Version

"All you need to know about the U.S. media is this: Just imagine what they would be saying and doing if two Iranian ships had entered U.S. territorial waters with no warning or permission, and then the Iranian government lied about why that happened." (Photo: Sepahnews/AP)

When news first broke of the detention of two U.S. ships in Iranian territorial waters, the U.S. media — aside from depicting it as an act of Iranian aggression — uncritically cited the U.S. government’s explanation for what happened. One of the boats, we were told, experienced “mechanical failure” and thus “inadvertently drifted” into Iranian waters. On CBS News, Joe Biden told Charlie Rose, “One of the boats had engine failure, drifted into Iranian waters.”

 

Provided their government script, U.S. media outlets repeatedly cited these phrases — “mechanical failure” and “inadvertently drifted” and “boat in distress” — like some sort of hypnotic mantra. Here’s Eli Lake of Bloomberg News explaining yesterday why this was all Iran’s fault:

 

Iran’s handling of the situation violated international norms. … Two small U.S. sea craft transiting between Kuwait and Bahrain strayed into Iranian territorial waters because of a mechanical failure, according to the U.S. side. This means the boats were in distress.

 

Lake quoted John McCain as saying that “boats do not lose their sovereign immune status when they are in distress at sea.” The night the news broke, Reuters quickly said the “boats may have inadvertently drifted into Iranian waters” and “another U.S. official said mechanical issues may have disabled one of the boats, leading to a situation in which both ships drifted inadvertently into Iranian waters.”

 

The U.S. government itself now says this story was false. There was no engine failure, and the boats were never “in distress.” Once the sailors were released, AP reported, “In Washington, a defense official said the Navy has ruled out engine or propulsion failure as the reason the boats entered Iranian waters.”

Instead, said Defense Secretary Ashton Carter at a press conference this morning, the sailors “made a navigational error that mistakenly took them into Iranian territorial waters.” He added that they “obviously had misnavigated” when, in the words of the New York Times, “they came within a few miles of Farsi Island, where Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps has a naval base.”

Read the full article at The Intercept.

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, constitutional lawyer, commentator, author of three New York Times best-selling books on politics and law, and a staff writer and editor at First Look media. His fifth and latest book is, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. Prior to his collaboration with Pierre Omidyar, Glenn’s column was featured at Guardian US and Salon.  His previous books include: With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the PowerfulGreat American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican PoliticsA Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, and How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, a George Polk Award, and was on The Guardian team that won the Pulitzer Prize for public interest journalism in 2014.

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