War of (Mis)information



I opened up The New York Sun January 8, 2007 and was not shocked to read a delegation of Columbia University professors were heading to Iran to apologize to president Ahmadinejad for the behavior of Columbia president Lee Bolinger. I took the report with a big grain of salt as the source for the story was the “semi-official Iranian news agency, Mehr.” Not the most reliable source of information. And Officials and professors from Columbia steadfastly refused the allegations.

The next day, various media outlets reported on the development of a much more serious escalation in the war of misinformation, a tense confrontation in the Gulf of Hormuz between an American naval group and Iranian speedboats:

[United States] Admiral Cosgriff said the five Iranian boats, outfitted with outboard motors and carrying three to four people each, rapidly approached three American warships — cruiser USS Port Royal, destroyer USS Hopper, and frigate USS Ingraham, which were passing through the Strait into the Gulf.

Two of the Iranian boats went to the ship’s left side, three to the right, he said. The two on the left “were more energetic and made a number of runs toward the lead ship, the USS Hopper.”

As the two boats did so, the USS Hopper’s crew heard a radio call threatening that the American ships would “explode.” The two boats dumped boxes into the water.

At first, Iranian officials denied the incident occurred. However, on January 10, they produced a different version of the incident (click here for a video and Iranian accounts from Iran Press TV):

The five-minute video does not include the confrontation or threatening language described by American officials. Instead, it shows Iranian navy personnel calmly radioing American warships to ask for additional information on ship identification.

Like the four-minute American video released Tuesday, the Iranian video does not capture the entire encounter, which American officials said lasted 20 to 30 minutes, and is therefore difficult to reconcile with the conflicting American version of events.

The Pentagon released a longer version of the tape on Friday, January 12. Click here to view. You can hear a muffled voice at the end of the tape saying “you will explode in minutes” but the visual is completely black so it’s impossible to tell if the audio was added.

The war of misinformation continues…


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