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Greenwald writes: "It is, of course, theoretically possible that this newest rendition of events is what happened. But there are multiple reasons to suspect otherwise."

Glenn Greenwald. (photo: AP)
Glenn Greenwald. (photo: AP)

The US Radically Changes Its Story of the Boats in Iranian Waters to an Even More Suspicious Version

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

15 January 16


hen 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.” The LA Times conveyed this new official explanation: “A sailor may have punched the wrong coordinates into the GPS and they wound up off course. Or the crew members may have taken a shortcut into Iranian waters as they headed for the refueling ship, officials said.” The initial slogan “inadvertently drifted” — suggesting a disabled boat helplessly floating wherever the ocean takes it — has now been replaced in the script by “inadvertently strayed,” meaning the boats were erroneously steered into Iranian waters without any intention to go there.

It is, of course, theoretically possible that this newest rendition of events is what happened. But there are multiple reasons to suspect otherwise. To begin with, U.S. sailors frequently travel between Bahrain and Kuwait, two key U.S. allies, the former of which hosts the Fifth Fleet headquarters; these were familiar waters.

Moreover, at no point did either of the ships notify anyone that they had inadvertently “misnavigated” into Iranian territorial waters, a significant enough event that would warrant some sort of radio or other notification. “U.S. defense officials were befuddled about how both vessels’ navigational systems failed to alert them that they were entering Iranian waters,” reported the Daily Beast’s Nancy Youseff on Tuesday night. Carter sought to explain this away by saying, “It may have been they were trying to sort it out at the time when they encountered the Iranian boats.” Not one sailor on either of the boats could communicate the “error”? Beyond that, “misnavigating” within a few miles of an Iranian Guard Corps naval base is a striking coincidence (the LA Times summarized an exciting and remarkable tale of how the boats were perhaps running out of gas, entered Iranian waters merely as a “shortcut,” experienced engine failure when they tried to escape, and then on top of all these misfortunes, experienced radio failure).

What we know for certain is that the storyline of “mechanical failure” and “poor U.S. boat in distress” that was originally propagated — on which Lake exclusively relied to blame the Iranians — was complete fiction. At least according to the government’s latest version, the boats were working just fine. But, as always, the bulk of the U.S. media narrative was built around totally unverified, self-serving claims from the U.S. government, which, yet again, turned out to be completely false.

Perhaps there are valid reasons why the U.S. military — while the sailors were still in Iranian custody — would falsely claim that the boats experienced “mechanical failure” and were in “distress,” as that would excuse an otherwise intentional act (one of the sailors in the video taken by Iran claimed they were “having engine issues”). But the fact that there is a good reason for the U.S. government to make false claims does not excuse the U.S. media’s uncritical regurgitation of them nor the construction of a narrative based on them depicting Iran as the aggressor; it may be shocking to hear, but the U.S. government and U.S. media are supposed to have different functions.

This happens over and over. A significant incident occurs, such as the U.S. bombing of an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The U.S. government makes claims about what happened. The U.S. media uncritically repeat them over and over. And then the U.S. government just blithely changes its story repeatedly, implicitly admitting that the tales it originally told were utterly false. But the next time a similar event happens, there is no heightened skepticism of U.S. government claims: its media treat them as Gospel.

Headline from The Guardian. (photo: The Intercept)
Headline from The Guardian. (photo: The Intercept)

The behavior of the U.S. media in this case was downright embarrassing, even by their standards. CNN’s Erin Burnett openly and repeatedly suggested that this was a calculated move by Iran to humiliate the U.S. and Obama during his State of the Union address (as though Iran hypnotized the sailors into entering its territorial waters on cue). And more generally, this unauthorized trespass into Iranian territorial waters was continuously depicted as an act of Iranian aggression (contrast that with how the U.S. government suggested it would be in Turkey’s rights not only to intercept but to shoot down any Russian jet that even briefly traverses its airspace). Article 25 of the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea, titled “Rights of protection of the coastal State,” states that “the coastal State may take the necessary steps in its territorial sea to prevent passage which is not innocent.”

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. And that’s to say nothing of the massive apologia that spewed forth in 1988 when, in roughly the same areas as these ships “misnavigated” into, the U.S. Navy blew an Iranian civilian jet out of the sky, killing 290 passengers, 66 of whom were children, and then tried to cover up its responsibility.

So, to recap the U.S. media narrative: when the U.S. Navy enters Iran’s territorial waters without permission or notice, and Iran detains them and then releases them within 24 hours, Iran is the aggressor; and the same is true when Iran aggressively allows one of its civilian jets to be shot down by the U.S. Navy. And no matter how many times the U.S. government issues patently false statements about its military actions, those statements are entitled to unquestioning, uncritical treatment as Truth the next time a similar incident occurs. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+82 # newell 2016-01-15 16:50
it's that damned liberal mainstream media. Medias probably owned by carpenters or teachers or union members.
+46 # Bruce Gruber 2016-01-15 23:01
I do not think Americans will have to concoct self-hypnotizin g delusions if a Bernie Sanders Administration and functioning appointed public servants take over for the special 'representative s' of Empire who have struggled among truth, transparency, opportunity and guilt for so long.
+20 # bmiluski 2016-01-16 09:44
What the hell makes you so sure, Bruce. Bernie will find out, just as President Obama had that it's hard to turn a million ton ship around. The same people that obstructed president Obama will still be in congress when Bernie (or Hillary) get there.
-4 # Barbara K 2016-01-16 11:51
I certainly hope the same congress will not be there. As for the story changing, I wonder what people expect when they start demanding answers to a situation before it has even been investigated. Of course the answers will change as the info comes in.
I agree with you, this seems to be turning into a RW site. Need to find a Dem site now.

+3 # Nominae 2016-01-17 06:35
Quoting Barbara K:
....this seems to be turning into a RW site. Need to find a Dem site now...

.... 'Bye !
+12 # dickbd 2016-01-17 08:57
I don't know what an RW site is, but I think it is a mistake to blindly follow the Democratic party. They used to be a little more for the people because they had unions as a constituent. However, they have now been corrupted by corporate money, almost as bad as the Republicans.

As for Obama, I like him, but I can't like the fact that his administration has used the Espionage Act and gone after whistle blowers with a vengeance never seen before.

Just having Hillary denounce Edward Snowden was enough to tilt me toward Sanders.
-4 # bmiluski 2016-01-17 12:29
Bernie can tell you what he's going to do until the cows come home. But with the present cretins in congress he'll get accomplished just as much as president Obama. And then all the r/w nutters on this site will start up the same chorus they've used on President Obama.
+5 # Helen Marshall 2016-01-17 12:38
So any suggestion that the US Government ever covers up the real reason for its actions is automatically RightWing, and we need to endlessly parrot whatever the goverment says, as the rules for a Dem site apparently mandate.
+28 # Pikewich 2016-01-16 12:44
There is already a big difference between Obama and Bernie.

Obama told us if we wanted change we would have to MAKE HIM DO IT. You could say that we made him stop the KXL, but we tried and could not make him stop the TPP. In fact, that disaster is something he supports wholeheartedly.

Bernie is telling us what he will do and we just need to support him.
+10 # Barbara K 2016-01-16 13:30
Obama had high hopes and tried hard with a congress working even harder against anything he wanted to do. Let's hope that that congress is gone when Bernie gets there so maybe he can get some things accomplished. Need to kick out the congress, is what we need to do. Get many more Dems there, then watch how the country will flourish.

+4 # dbrize 2016-01-16 14:03
Quoting Barbara K:
Obama had high hopes and tried hard with a congress working even harder against anything he wanted to do. Let's hope that that congress is gone when Bernie gets there so maybe he can get some things accomplished. Need to kick out the congress, is what we need to do. Get many more Dems there, then watch how the country will flourish.


Well that's unlikely to happen if you are at all familiar with red/blue maps, you already know why. The GOP is nearly assured to maintain the House and likely to hold onto the Senate.

However, a President Sanders will have nearly total control of foreign policy as well as the power of the mechanism known as presidential "findings" along with "executive orders". A president is far from neutered by a recalcitrant Congress.

To imply that Obama has been unable to do things because of an obstructive Congress is hogwash. He has gotten the budgets he wants, deficit spending he wants and fought off Obamacare changes. He has gotten 70% or more of what he wants. That's as much as any president is likely to get.
+5 # Barbara K 2016-01-16 17:26
I have watched the Senate for years and see in action how they block and filibuster just about everything that the President wanted done. He finally stopped hoping for anything from the Rs and started doing Executive Actions to get Something done. They are even trying to sue him for that. The 70% you mention includes what he did on his own without Congress.

+3 # dbrize 2016-01-16 18:42
Quoting Barbara K:
I have watched the Senate for years and see in action how they block and filibuster just about everything that the President wanted done. He finally stopped hoping for anything from the Rs and started doing Executive Actions to get Something done. They are even trying to sue him for that. The 70% you mention includes what he did on his own without Congress.


Yes. I think that's what I was saying.
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# Guest 2016-01-17 02:28
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+2 # randrjwr 2016-01-19 00:01
Quoting bmiluski:
What the hell makes you so sure, Bruce. Bernie will find out, just as President Obama had that it's hard to turn a million ton ship around. The same people that obstructed president Obama will still be in congress when Bernie (or Hillary) get there.

You could be absolutely right, but not it need not be. If Democrats get out and vote, it will be possible to turn the House around since all seats are in play. Our chances may be more limited in the Senate where only a third are. BUT---Democrats have to get out on election day and do their civic duty. Much of the carnage wrought in 2010, 2012 and 2014 was because of votes that Democrats did not cast.
-30 # Caliban 2016-01-16 00:48
"Medias probably owned by carpenters or teachers or union members": I get that this has to be a joke. But does anybody find it funny?
+54 # chasashmore 2016-01-16 02:09
Quoting Caliban:
"Medias probably owned by carpenters or teachers or union members": I get that this has to be a joke. But does anybody find it funny?

Not rolling on the floor funny, but more humorous than your snark, and there is a point to it. So what's your problem?
+18 # NGB 2016-01-16 09:42
Quoting Caliban:
"Medias probably owned by carpenters or teachers or union members": I get that this has to be a joke. But does anybody find it funny?

+12 # bmiluski 2016-01-16 09:46
Oh Caliban...welco me back. I missed your inane repug regurgitations.
+2 # Pikewich 2016-01-16 12:45
I do.
+4 # wrknight 2016-01-16 12:07
Quoting newell:
it's that damned liberal mainstream media. Medias probably owned by carpenters or teachers or union members.

"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." Ingsoc, 1984
+46 # bardphile 2016-01-15 23:09
Agreed, navigational error seems unlikely. Does that mean that the boats' incursion into Iranian territorial waters was purposeful? In that case, what might their mission have been? Still too many unanswered questions.
+12 # Tazio 2016-01-16 11:54
This is indeed a curious event. The media reports what they are told.
But what they have been told is quite suspicious.
First the Navy said one boat experienced mechanical problems and while distracted by this drifted inadvertently into Iranian waters. The Navy said it could not explain why radio contact was not possible. Then they said some time later that there had been no engine problems. Then they stopped talking about it.

My personal theory is that some lower level commander, a lower case General Jack Ripper type, decided to let an event happen at a critical time. The USS Provocation setting sail into the Gulf of Tonkin yet again.
How high up the "mistake" goes really must be investigated and I hope journalists will continue to follow it.

The Republican candidates responses were frightening especially considering Iran's exemplary behavior.
The Cruz Missile said if he were President no sailors would be on their knees apologizing and that he would have responded with the full force of the US Military.
+13 # Pikewich 2016-01-16 12:51
The justifications of our government are simply lies.

If on boat suffered mechanical problems the other could have towed it away from Iranian water. Happens all the time with non naval vessels.

The very idea both navigational systems went bonkers is pure fiction (more lies). It is for those non-critically minded, herd mentality, head in sand, obtuse 1/2 of our US citizens.
+7 # Helga Fellay 2016-01-16 13:05
I thought it was more than half, a lot more.
-92 # Philothustra 2016-01-16 00:14
This is some pretty thin soup. Clearly, the US and Iranian negotiators settled on a deal where the US just abandoned its equipment justification claims and the Iranians immediately released the sailors. ITS TWO BOATS, YOU DIMBULBS, ONE STAYED WITH THE OTHER AND THATS ALL IT MEANS.

Greenwald has drifted off into sick pro-Iranian propaganda, sorry to say. His beloved mullahs exectured over 1,000 of their own in the last year.

At this point, I can't even understand the simpleminded remarks here, but at least Newell recognizesx that this is diplomacy, which requires lies and doubletalk.

Mr.Gruber's quaint and infantile dreams of a "Sanders Administration" taking over the US empire to broadcast "truth, transparency, opportunity and guilt" can only raise a chuckle.

Bardphile seems to realize this was just an incident and boating accident, and not a sinister neocon plot to invade Iran....

Pulleez, you simpletons! Don't write in your comments,at least before you learn how to think.
+73 # polfrosch 2016-01-16 01:17
This is your reaction to a blunt description of double standards and uncritical acceptance of the government´s version of events by a "free press"? You cannot discover any problem here?

May be if you close your eyes really hard and shout loud "I love my country" reality will fade away?

May I remind you the USA has a very long history of very strange official versions of naval events which lead to convenient wars. This collection of strange stories makes me VERY suspicious of any event with US navy ships.

The USS Maine, the Lusitania, Pearl Harbour, the USS Maddox and the Tonkin Gulf Incidents, the "Nasty class" secret war against North Vietnam and worst the deception operations of US and British and Italian submarines against Olof Palmes Sweden in the Reagan era are infamous examples.

An empire whose credibility is based on complete ignorance of the true reasons for it´s wars will decline.

And that´s what´s happening currently, while you just took the decision to "patriotically" trust your ministry of truth.

Ignorance is strength. You are a good boy.
+40 # tedrey 2016-01-16 01:27
I fear that you are missing the whole point of the article, which is the transparent "lies and doubletalk" brought out by the government and media on every such occasion. This is to be considered "diplomacy"?
+14 # Jim Rocket 2016-01-16 01:56
Ok people, we've all been told, no more comments that Philothustra disagrees with.
+33 # vt143 2016-01-16 06:00
Read about the U-2 spy plane "crisis" of 1960. We do it all the time. Get over your delusion that the U.S. does nothing wrong and is being abused by the world.
+29 # RLF 2016-01-16 07:56
"His beloved mullahs exectured over 1,000 of their own in the last year."

We just let our police shoot them in the back!
+16 # Bruce Gruber 2016-01-16 08:33
Chauvinistic support of Empire and dismissive denial of species appreciation for "humanist" considerations retains the least among our reptilian instincts.

Conditioned by opaque establishment opportunism and chicanery and the corporate media that 'entertains' us with convenient misinformation and gladiator politics, you, Philothustra, seem dedicated to condemnation of alternative theory - resistant to the idea of critical thinking. Polfrosch, below, has a wise entreaty on which you might reflect.

JUST my opinion.
0 # Karlus58 2016-01-16 09:35
Msan, you need a thrusta philo dough this morning.....
+6 # wrknight 2016-01-16 12:18
You can't understand the simpleminded remarks here because you have not yet learned to read for comprehension. Most of the remarks here are simple and can be simply understood but they are not simpleminded.
+9 # Pikewich 2016-01-16 12:53
Gotta love it Phil. Obfuscate, change the narrative and ignore the point of the article and the facts.

Do you get paid for this?
+39 # James38 2016-01-16 01:04
Drifted? Nope.

Navigational Error? Who are you kidding? I have captained enough boats to know that a "navigational error" in those circumstances is an absurd concept. Doubly so for two boats each with navigation expertise?

A deliberate incursion to accomplish what? An incursion for any reason was bound to result in the same outcome - apprehension.
What, someone thought the Iranians would all be asleep? Hoped they might all be asleep? Based an operation on that "hope"? Sound military thinking, that.

After considering these ridiculous ideas, maybe the impossible is the most likely. It was a navigational error, and we just had an amazing event of multiple metastasizing incompetence in which both crews disappeared into a doofus bubble.

Anybody have any other explanations?
+36 # E-Mon 2016-01-16 04:09
Quoting James38:
Drifted? Nope.
Anybody have any other explanations?

Here's one idea. Maybe the whole point was to deliberately try and provoke the Iraians to aggressively attack. Then "we" would have justification to renege on "our" recent diplomatic negotiations. That's the most logical thing I can think of when thinking it all through. I've spent enough time on boats to know the whole idea of navigational error sounds like a huge load of crap. There's no way, given the highly sophisticated technology of the modern US Navy they didn't know exactly where they were. Then there's still good old fashioned line of sight too. If that's the case then too bad for the puppet masters that seem so hell bent on manipulating world events. Mission failed. The Iranians acted in a civil manner.
+24 # revhen 2016-01-16 06:07
My thought, too. It sounds like a move to discredit the diplomatic deal made by the Obama administration with Iran concerning nuclear proliferation. Would there possibly be persons in that administration, particularly in the military, that would want to do this? If so it would be a deliberate traitorous act. But what has stopped the neocons and right wingers from perpetrating traitorous acts in order to "take back" the USA? Since most of the media is owned by big business that profits from supplying military materiel, why is it surprising that it fosters further military action rather than diplomatic negotiation which cuts down the necessity for lucrative military?
+8 # Dietz 2016-01-16 13:11
We seem to agree that the claims of mechanical, navigational and communications troubles are bogus. Intelligence gathering? I don't think so, especially as the Iranians would have found some type of equipment pointing in that direction. That leaves one only with one reasonable alternative -- the boats were ordered to make an incursion into Iranian territorial waters to create a deliberate provocation. Bardphile and Tazio mentioned this previously and revhen assigns a plausible reason for this action, traitorous though it may be. I wonder whether we will ever find out the truth, but if we do nobody will be held responsible and the saga of our own "1984" will just continue.
-1 # bmiluski 2016-01-17 12:34
Wel it back-fired on them. ALL the sailors were released in less then 24 hours. Unlike the US pilot that was held captive, by China for over a year during the bush/cheney administration.
+1 # Bruce Gruber 2016-01-16 09:02
Neo-Cons, UNITE!
+6 # HowardMH 2016-01-16 09:48
I think you nailed it!

Stupid military. I made a lot of points while in the military and identifying bungling incompetence. Officers were more prone to throwing their rank around than enlisted. Do as I say or else. Yes Sir, I understand what you are saying, but I still want to talk to the Colonel.

At one assignment I was the most hated Sgt. in the whole headquarters building. A Chief MSGT stuck his head in my work area, after I had been there 6 months, and told me that. I was frankly very shocked, and it showed. He said, "son, keep up the good work". He sure made my day, week, and month.
+2 # Kumari 2016-01-16 11:55
Love it!
+6 # Kumari 2016-01-16 11:55
Especially the doofus bubble. Can I use that too please?
+1 # James38 2016-01-16 12:42
Sure, Clementine. It made me laugh when I came up with it.
+7 # wrknight 2016-01-16 12:24
Quoting James38:
...Anybody have any other explanations?

'...when you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.' - Sherlock Holmes (A. Conan Doyle)
+3 # Pikewich 2016-01-16 12:56
"After considering these ridiculous ideas, maybe the impossible is the most likely. It was a navigational error, and we just had an amazing event of multiple metastasizing incompetence in which both crews disappeared into a doofus bubble.

Anybody have any other explanations?"

Here is another idea:

The straying into Iranian waters was intentional but had not "mission"

The mission was to create and international incident which the Iranians may have understood and brushed off.
0 # James38 2016-01-16 13:33
Of all the deliberate incursion ideas, this one I sort of like: "The mission was to create an international incident which the Iranians may have understood and brushed off."

I mean such an unfocused and vague "mission to create an incident" would have been a truly silly idea (inspired from what level? Investigate, folks). But that the Iranians would have seen through it and wisely (somewhat contemptuously? ) "brushed it off".... That I like.

But I still think incompetence leading to the "doofus bubble" is still slightly the more likely.
+6 # Uppity Woman 2016-01-17 01:20
Consider the timing of this event: Just before the SOTU address and not too long before the resolution of the Iranian nuclear deal. Consider that many in the military are not "liberal" and may not like our Democratic President. Consider that enlisted sailors are just told to do things, but not why they are to do them. Consider that John Kerry dropped what he was doing and RAN to call his Iranian counterpart.
When you consider all this, perhaps treason is a strong word, but I think sabotage could apply, especially to some piss-ant naval officer who would like to help out a few folks who might benefit from seeing our newly improved relations with Iran go away. I have no idea if this is true, but it's another possible explanation.
Yet doofus bubble is just so damn compelling...
-13 # Dorcas Black 2016-01-16 02:10
I see too much hyperbole on both sides--from the press commentators that Mr. Greenwald criticizes to Mr. Greenwald and many of those commenting here. Having served 31 years in uniform, I know that the first reports up the chain of command are often incorrect, and it then takes time for the true version of what happened to be ascertained. Perhaps Mr. Greenwald's criticisms of the press have merit, but the certainly that the government was lying with purpose from the start is just as unquestioning as the early news reports being skewered. Perhaps he is right--time will tell--but the commentary is a bit of "the pot calling the kettle black."
+5 # Bruce Gruber 2016-01-16 08:59
The hint of perception exposed in the snark of "military intelligence' being our most recognizable oxymoron should NOT be ignored. That is a bottom up expression of disdain for perceived incompetence coupled with deliberate misinformation.

Dorcas Black, presuming your balanced willingness to accept pieced 'adjustments' as a governmental technique of informing the public, "perhaps" you should reconsider your/our DEMAND for an accurate and honorable admission of fact by those we elect to "LEAD" us.

I return to my Philothrustra demeaning misquote. Perhaps the original was obtuse, perhaps too partisan ...

I do not think Americans will have to concoct self-hypnotizin g delusions IF a Bernie Sanders Administration and empathetic 'public' servants take over from the special 'representative s' of Empire who have struggled unsuccessfully among truth, transparency, opportunity and guilt for so long."
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+33 # nancyw 2016-01-16 02:24
We spy. We provoke. We are irresponsible. We are aggressors. We make enemies. We create distrust. Sigh.
+9 # wrknight 2016-01-16 12:25
And then we bomb.
-3 # bmiluski 2016-01-17 12:40
Because no one else does. After all Putin just wanted to see the Georgian countryside and to visit the mother that abandoned him in Russia when he was a baby.
+30 # vt143 2016-01-16 05:20
When I was a kid and first was becoming politically aware there was the U2 spy plane"crisis." I was appalled at those nasty Rooskies. How dare they shoot down Gary!! He had gotten lost!! Fast forward 55 years. We heard the story about the U.S. boats "drifting" into Iranian waters (Those damn Iranians!!). My wife and I looked at each other and nodded. "Drifted" we both said in unison while nodding knowingly. Yeah, right! Ahhh, what a 10 year old knows and believes and what a 66 year old believes. The story will change many times until the real truth comes out.

As far as: "The behavior of the U.S. media in this case was downright embarrassing." Well, some things never change--they just get worse.
+7 # James38 2016-01-16 12:49
Similar history here. When the initial report came out - drifted - my immediate response was "bullshit". What, we are supposed to think - nobody had a rope?

Both boats just "drifted" into Iranian waters because one of them had engine problems?

Total nonsense. The first thing the crews would have done is toss a rope to the disabled boat, and stay the hell out of Iranian waters.

But then the story changed. I guess somebody noticed how utterly stupid the "drifted" idea was.
+3 # Pikewich 2016-01-16 12:58
Right on.(from a 67 year old) Seen it too many times.
+5 # madams12 2016-01-16 14:41
Same response here Vt143.....and to further enhance, underscore the validity of your comment about "the behavior of the US Media"...let me inform any who have missed this incredibly important issue...there was a bill passed in the 1940s called the Smith Mundt act which GAVE government approval to a bill instructing US media to use government propaganda as "news" ....THAT act was RE-enacted by the US Congress...and despite my careful daily readings of media I "MISSED" reading about this 'act' under legislation HR 5736 which took place in 2012 !!!! for THREE years we have been beaten regularly with PROPAGANDA just in case anyone had not noticed it ...but this confirms what many sensed for some time.
+2 # James38 2016-01-17 01:01
Madams12 has brought up a very interesting topic. Basically the legislation she mentions has evolved into the establishment and regulations for the BBG, the US Board of Broadcasting Governors which runs the Voice of America, Radio Marti, Radio Free Asia, and several other news outlets. These are designed to spread "balanced and accurate" information and opinion for many Countries and regions of the world where such information is often unavailable. The record for "balanced and accurate" has been controversial to say the least. I am slightly familiar with the case of Radio Marti (targeted on Cuba), and certainly can say that opinions favorable to the US Government position have been, er, noticeably evident. Criticism has been effective in some cases, and while the various outlets have differing records, and while the prevalence of US Government opinions (propaganda is not always too harsh a description), some effort has been evident to keep reporting standards in mind.

Specific incidents would be necessary to show just how much we have been "beaten regularly with PROPAGANDA", since the regulations of the BBG prohibit such use. From their website

Q. But won’t the Defense Department now be at liberty to spread propaganda in the United States thanks to this new legislation?

+2 # James38 2016-01-17 01:41

A. No. The U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 does not apply to the Defense Department, and neither do the subsequent amendments.

For an interesting history of these bills and the bizarre times in which they were developed, see:

Anticommunism was rife in the US Senate and House, the State Department was being accused of everything from incompetence and featherbedding to outright infiltration by Communist agents and sympathizers.

Several versions and amendments of the bills have been passed, and for a while public access to the content of the broadcasts was forbidden by an exception to the Freedom of Information Act.

The arguments at the time (late 1940's) are described in detail. The article was particularly interesting to me, since I was aware of the controversy at the time. Dwight Eisenhower was Chief of Staff, and appeared in Congress along with Secretary of State George Marshall to testify about the bill.

(I was actually in the Cow Palace in San Francisco a few years later when Dwight Eisenhower gave his acceptance speech, so my political awareness got an unusual kick start.)

Recently the growth of the internet has made attempts to restrict public access to the information in the various broadcasts quite impossible. In 2010 the "Smith-Mundt Modernizaton Act" (HR 5729) was passed.

+2 # James38 2016-01-17 01:53

The intent of the bill and the broadcasts now includes attempts to counter the internet propaganda and recruitment efforts of terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda and ISIS.

The controversy is quite a bit more nuanced and immediately important than Madams12 has indicated. The whole involved process has been going on for many years, not just the past "THREE" years she is excited about.

I strongly recommend that anyone interested in this issue read the article

Also see the Government site
"Facts About Smith-Mundt Modernization"
Much more information about the BBG is available on this site.

As long as the world is embroiled in the struggle with terrorist organizations, they and we will be using every sort of information broadcasting, especially the internet.

I appreciate madams12 bringing this to our attention. We all need to constantly refine our ability to ferret the truth out of the constant flux of information and misinformation.
+7 # Boots12 2016-01-16 06:07
Perhaps there was a small team insertion that went wrong. There have been multiple reports over the years about US special operations teams that have entered Iranian territory for extended periods of time. Some of the pictures appeared to show sterilized uniforms.
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-6 # bmiluski 2016-01-16 09:49
OMG sound like some right-wing nutter conspiracy site.
Take a deep breath and just be glad that all of our people made it out of that mess alive.
-8 # bmiluski 2016-01-16 12:29
The fact that I got red thumbs without any explanation proves my point.
+3 # Pikewich 2016-01-16 13:07
The problem is.... there are plans that when activated and executed, appear later as conspiracies.

A conspiracy is simply 2 or more people who execute a plan to achieve indirect results.
Some examples of welll known and documented US Government conspiracies:

1. Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male
2. TPP
3. Alchohol "poisoning" to justify prohibition
4. MK Ultra
5. Operation Northwood
6. Soldiers exposed to lethal nuclear and non nuclear materials to observe the effects.

For more detail on 5 of these:
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0 # wrknight 2016-01-16 12:14
Bottom line: The government has doesn't know wtf happened and MSM is even more ignorant. But they have to report something - so they make up bullshit.
+3 # Pikewich 2016-01-16 13:09
It is too early to assume the government did not know wtf happened. My guess is it really was intended as a provocation to scuttle the talks with Iran.
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+3 # Uppity Woman 2016-01-17 01:51
It's an election year. True, Obama isn't running for re-election, but the Democrats will run someone.

Remember the hostage crisis that basically defeated Carter in 1980? Republicans made a dirty deal with Iran to hold onto our people. They are running scared because they know they don't have a gnat's ass chance of winning the White House without dirty tricks. It worked so well for them last time, why not try it again?
Who knows what really happened or why. I just know that one doesn't have to think too hard or go too far back in history to come up with possible reasons that certain elements would like to create a distracting international incident.
+2 # Mainiac 2016-01-16 13:33
Well…I remember the KAL-007 disaster when it became clear that the US wanted to find out how the Russians would respond if an unidentified aircraft flew over a sensitive information gathering installation of the USSR. By sacrificing a plane load of innocent people he US managed to look like it had been victimized.

Weren’t these boats getting close to an Iranian military installation there on Farsi Island? What was the US testing? What kind of information did the US hope to gain by sending these boats into Iranian waters? Those are the questions that we need answers to. IMHO.
+3 # elkingo 2016-01-16 14:32
Hard to believe the Navy would send 10 kids in small boats into Iranian waters, nor asked for volunteers for such a mission. And I wonder what "we" would do if 2 Iranian Navy boats appeared off, say, Staten Island. To the credit of the Iranians that they let the kids go, instead of springing with the usual horseshit of incarceration and trial. PR value for them? Who gives a shit? And remember, all this kind of thing is pursuant to the institution of nation-states, which is nuts and has gotta go.
0 # Shades of gray matter 2016-01-16 14:41
I think the original claim of equipment failure may have been NECESSARY as the only excuse in international law for violating territorial water with impunity. Their "drift" was not their fault. Save the sailors FIRST. After that it gets very murky, especially the timing.
0 # elkingo 2016-01-16 14:44
What does Bernie have to do with this?
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+2 # Shades of gray matter 2016-01-16 17:49
As John De says, the negativism is a bit knee jerky. For ex., people get PISSED if you simply point out that ships and sailors "in distress" is the legal loophole that would protect our sailors in alien waters. I'm glad DC said that, not Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Iran. I'm not mad that the media went along, for the few hours necessary to save our guys. Yes, the corp media are evil. But I think the real issue here is how did TWO ships get off course, and was it a deliberate Deal Killing provocation? By whom?
+3 # Shades of gray matter 2016-01-16 17:56
John De, sorry to say, no matter how bad you think the Empire's dealings are, they are probably WORSE, MUCH WORSE. That's why the Bern, Bernie, Bern focused is misplaced. The MOVEMENT needs to be much broader, deeper, long term. Some wishful thinkers only want to extend themselves enough to give Bernie $40 and 40 minutes. Think 40 YEARS, really. And the demographics are there to do it. So long bitter, racist, sexist, imperialist, violent white male dominance.
0 # vitobonespur 2016-01-16 18:35
I have felt from the word "GO" that the U.S. was the instigator in this situation. Otherwise, our sailors would likely not have been released so readily and would probably STILL be in Iranian custody.
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+2 # Uppity Woman 2016-01-17 02:00
I sure hope this is true.

We are all a bit ready to believe the worst, mainly because we've seen so much manipulation, lying, cheating, corruption and nest-feathering by our politicians, the military, and the media that we would be fools to uncritically accept their explanations. Yet there are times when an accident is just an accident, or a mistake is innocent enough.
+2 # James38 2016-01-17 02:44
Well lookee here. Darned if this doesn't look like a version of the "doofus bubble" theory...but it only took one guy to disappear in there. The ranking doofus.

Like what was so damn important about their "schedule"???

And they didn't even need a rope. All they had to do is stay outside the three mile limit and run at the speed of the slower boat.
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0 # Shades of gray matter 2016-01-17 05:11
Until someone comes up with better data, the reckless "short cut" theory seems the best available.
Meantime, would 2 or 3% of the "Revolutionarie s" who read RSN please send in some $$. The Right can raise million$ in small contributions anytime they want. They're laughing at us.
0 # ChrisCurrie 2016-01-18 10:54
One would think that after the perennial "blowback" that the Obama Administration has had to endure because it very publically misinformed us (for several days) about the nature and causes of the Benghazi attack, that it would have simply said "we don't what happened that led to the Iranian seizure of those two naval vessels. This incident is under investigation."

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