NPR's Double Standard on Iran and Jundallah
If you've forgotten the great Iranian bogey man of 2007, who could blame you? At the time NPR was acting as a Pentagon-to-radio live feed of completely unsubstantiated claims that Iran was behind every attack on US forces in Iraq (e.g. Feb 2007, April 2007, early May 2007, late May 2007, June 2007, and Dec. 2007). There was never any concern for evidence, no matter how ludicrous the Pentagon's claims were - NPR just dutifully repeated the accusations.
So now Iran has had several dozen people (including high ranking Revolutionary Guard leadership) killed in a suicide bombing carried out by the Baluchistan-Pakistan based group Jundallah and is claiming that the US was involved - and not just Iran is making such claims. On Tuesday's ATC, Melissa Block interviews RAND expert (uh-oh), Christine Fair, looking for answers. Block notes,
"There have been charges in the press and statements made by Pakistani officials that the US is somehow tied to Jundallah - supporting them, in some cases with money, with arms, in other cases what's described as arms-length support. What are those allegations based on and is there any truth to these charges?"
Not a bad question. And here's Fair's answer:
"Well, I have no ability to assess whether or not there's truth to these charges....the Americans, we have a presence in Baluchistan...[on] the Pakistani side...Baluchistan houses the military bases where we launch Predator attacks, so this is where the suspicion enters."
That's kind of funny, because actually suspicions enter due to some pretty weighty indications that it's true - Asia Times, the UK's Telegraph, the New Yorker, and ABC News. But Fair is not done, she continues,
"The allegation is that the Americans would like to poke at Iran in the way in which it has poked at us in Iraq, as well as in Afghanistan...there is an ability and there is certainly a motive. Whether or not there's evidence is another story."
Notice how cleverly the "allegation" about the Americans is now based on the FACT that Iran..."has poked at us in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan..." I must say it's a strange use of the word "poke" - be careful if Christine tries to friend you on Facebook!
Melissa Block, of course, makes no challenge to the allegation that Iran has done similar things to the US. Instead she simply recoils from the very idea that the blameless US could EVER do such things,
"That's quite a hot allegation - the idea that the US would have ties to an extremist group based in Pakistan, that has close ties to al-Qaeda."
Fair uses this naivete to rehash an equally "hot allegation" about Iran being a sanctuary for al-Qaeda (where have I heard this scenario before?), "I think that's a strong argument for why we wouldn't be doing it...Iran has been accused of harboring al-Qaeda leadership so it had the strong incentive to characterize these as al-Qaeda."