On the same day that US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper announced that 'Iranian officials... are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States" and a day after Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned "time was running out" for an attack on Iran, some observers -- some referencing the reporting failures that helped facilitate public support for the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 -- are sounding warnings that a 'coordinated media campaign' is being pressed on a still too pliable US news media.
Clapper's comments came in prepared remarks delivered to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington. Also revealed during the hearing was a previously unreported meeting between top US and Israeli intelligence officials in the US capital.
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Israel's Ha'aretz reports:
Mossad chief Tamir Pardo held secret talks with top U.S. officials in recent days, cursory comments made during a public Senate hearing indicated on Tuesday.
The clandestine Washington visit was exposed during a hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which was participated by CIA Director David Petraeus, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate panel.
During the meeting, Feinstein asked Clapper whether or not Israel intended to strike Iran's nuclear facilities, with the top U.S. intelligence official answering that he would rather discuss the issue behind closed doors.
Feinstein then indicated that she had met Mossad chief Pardo earlier in the week in Washington, with Petraeus adding that he too met Pardo and cited what he called Israel's growing concern over Iran's nuclear ambitions.
The CIA chief also said that it was important to note that Israel considered a nuclear Iran as an existential threat.
The entire exchange was broadcast live on American television.
Barak's familiar saber rattling against Iran took place in Israel on Monday and echoed statements he made over the weekend at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Sky News reports:
Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak has warned that "time is urgently running out" to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
He said the Iranians are "deliberately drifting into what we call an immunity zone where practically no surgical operation could stop them."
Mr Barak was referring to Iran's efforts to move critical elements of its nuclear program - including uranium enrichment - deep underground.
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As mainstream media outlets rushed to post the dramatic headlines relating to Clapper's testimony (examples: here, here, and here), Glenn Greenwald, citing Greg Miller's piece in the Washington Post and a new story about Al Qaeda in Iran by Foreign Affairs magazine, asked at Salon.com if "there’s anyone doubting that there is a concerted media-aided fear-mongering campaign aimed at Iran"?
And Patrick Cockburn, writing at CounterPunch today, argues the public relations campaign has focused on exaggerating the Iranian threat:
The way in which the growing confrontation with Iran is being sold by the US, Israel and West European leaders is deeply dishonest. The manipulation of the media and public opinion through systematic threat exaggeration is similar to the drum beat of propaganda and disinformation about Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction that preceded the invasion in 2003.
The supposed aim of imposing sanctions on Iran’s oil exports and central bank, measures officially joined by the EU, is to force Iran to abandon its nuclear program before it reaches the point where it could theoretically build a nuclear bomb. Even Israel now agrees that Iran has not yet decided to do so, but the Iranian nuclear program is still being presented as a danger to Israel and the rest of the world.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)'s Peter Hart notes how the assertion that Iran has a nuclear weapons program is repeated in endlessly in the US mainstream media:
During an interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski (1/25/12), NBC's Today host Ann Curry said this:
Well, one of the key topics that we have been hearing a lot about is all of this concern about Iran. You know what's been happening, the concerns, the tensions in the Straits of Hormuz, the concerns about Iran's rise in its efforts, everybody believes, in creating nuclear power--not only nuclear power, but nuclear weapons. Are we headed, in your view, based on all you know, for war with Iran?
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Israeli politicians continue hinting at military action against Iran
Peres: Iran's 'evil' leaders must not be allowed to gain nuclear weapons
Iran's "evil" leaders cannot be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons, President Shimon Peres said on Tuesday, calling the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions the world's single most important issue.
Peres' comments came at the opening of the Herzliya Conference, which was attended by World Bank President Robert Zoellick, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, and former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.
Referring to Iran's contentious nuclear program, the president called the issue "ours and the world's central problem at this time, accusing Iran of attempting to achieve regional and "even global hegemony."
"Nuclear weapons mustn't be allowed to fall into the hands of Iran's Ayatollah regime," Peres said, calling Iran's religious leadership the "most morally corrupt regime in the world."
Hinting at the possibility of a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, the president reiterated the Israeli stance, according to which "no option should be ruled out in our dealing with the Iranian danger. This is an existential threat
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Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Israel's deputy prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak repeated the assertion that Iran has a nuclear weapons program and that tougher sanctions are needed.
The Guardian has more details on Barak's statement:
In a session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Barak said: "You can't conceive of a stable world order when Iran has nuclear weapons."
He added: "Iran is prepared to defy and deceive the whole world to turn themselves into a nuclear power. This will be the end of any conceivable anti-proliferation program. Major powers in the region will feel compelled to turn nuclear."
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