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PARIS, THE NEW NORMAL? — Diana Johnstone files an in-depth report from Paris on the political reaction to the Charlie Hebdo shootings; The Treachery of the Black Political Class: Margaret Kimberley charts the rise and fall of the Congressional Black Caucus; The New Great Game: Pepe Escobar assays the game-changing new alliance between Russia and Turkey; Will the Frackers Go Bust? Joshua Frank reports on how the collapse of global oil prices might spell the end of the fracking frenzy in the Bakken Shale; The Future of the Giraffe: Ecologist Monica Bond reports from Tanzania on the frantic efforts to save one of the world’s most iconic species. Plus: Jeffrey St. Clair on Satire in the Service of Power; Chris Floyd on the Age of Terrorism and Absurdity; Mike Whitney on the Drop Dead Fed; John Wight on the rampant racism of Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper;” John Walsh on Hillary Clinton and Lee Ballinger on the Gift of Anger.
A Cautionary Warning on Those "Armor-Piercing" Iranian Weapons

The Press Bites, Again

by DAVE LINDORFF

A word of caution on US "evidence" that Iran is providing armor-piercing weapons to Iraqis.

If reporters could all stop the heavy breathing for a moment, they might ask the folks at the White House and in the Pentagon to explain why those bombs that they displayed as "evidence" of Iranian perfidy had English words and numbers on them, instead of Persian.

I understand that Iranian manufacturers use English to identify products produced for export, but these devices–if they are Iranian–aren’t really part of their general export product list.

That’s not to say that Iran is not involved in any of the fighting in Iraq. It would be astounding if they were not, being as they are right next door and have an intense interest in the future of Iraq, a country that fought an eight-year US-supported war against them not long ago. But I think it raises questions about the quality of the US evidence purporting to prove that Iran is providing bombs that can pierce American armored vehicles.

Of course there are other reasons to doubt the administration too, besides the simple fact that it has shown itself to be seriously truth-challenged. A major problem is that most of the Americans who have died in Iraq, and who are continuing to die in Iraq, are being killed by Sunni fighters, and Iran has been backing the Shia side there, not the Sunnis.

At least until Bush came up with his bright idea of escalating the Iraq War by attacking Moktada al Sadr’s forces in Baghdad last month, the Shia forces were leaving American troops alone, and were focused on killing Sunnis and the occasional Brit.

The other thing is that these shaped charges are not all that sophisticated, for all the huffing and puffing over at the Pentagon. Basically it’s a matter of making a concave bottom of the blast canister, which converts into a high-velocity slug in the explosion, becoming an excellent armor penetrator ahead of the explosion.

This is not rocket science, and is easily within the technological capabilities of the insurgent forces in Iraq.

In fact, if you google "Iraq and shaped charges," you discover that the Sunni insurgents have been using shaped charges against U.S. forces for well over a year, to devastating effect. On October 10, 2005, for example, the BBC ran a story by Neil Arun headlined, "Shaped bombs magnify Iraq attacks." It stated, "According to defense sources, basic armor-piercing weapons are easy to manufacture, drawing on principles discovered more than a century ago and in use since World War Two."

It adds that the system uses something called the "Munroe Effect" after an US Navy scientist, Charles Munroe, who invented the technique in 1888.

So clearly there is no need for Iran to be providing such devices to Iraqi insurgents.

Why do mainstream American reporters and editors–like the reporters at ABC and MSNBC–have to repeatedly display such ignorant and willful gullibility? Why can’t they at least check their own clip files or do a google search before they run with the garbage being spoon-fed to them by Washington’s war-mongers?

Speaking as a reporter, I have to say I’m embarrassed for them.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s newest book is "The Case for Impeachment",
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com