Iran Sequel: Pentagon/New York Times’ “Scary Iranian PR Ship” That is Still A Movie Prop

Scott Lucas
By Scott Lucas March 27, 2014 09:04 Updated

Iran Sequel: Pentagon/New York Times’ “Scary Iranian PR Ship” That is Still A Movie Prop

Story Highlights

  • Pentagon & US intelligence fed story of "scary PR ship" to New York Times reporter
  • Reporter Schmitt: "They will blow it up, film it and use it for propaganda purposes"
  • Carrier actually being used in Iranian-Canadian film production

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PHOTO: A real US aircraft carrier

On Thursday, we reported on The New York Times’ proclamation, fed to it by US military and intelligence officials, of an Iranian model of a US aircraft carrier that “may be intended to be blown up for propaganda value”.

In fact, the carrier — far from being a secret propaganda weapon — is part of an Iranian-Canadian film production, publicized since last April, about the 1988 downing of an Iranian passenger jet by a US warship.

See Pentagon’s and New York Times’ “Scary Iranian PR Ship” Turns Out to Be Movie Prop

You think that might have halted Times reporter Eric Schmitt, who apparently never checked with the newspaper’s Tehran correspondent Thomas Erdbrink about the Pentagon’s claims.

But no.

On Tuesday, the intrepid journalists of US National Public Radio said they were going to “sort through the conflicting accounts” — by turning to the man who spread the information.

Fed the question, “Why did U.S. intelligence officials want to make this public, I mean, once they saw this — in what —satellite images?” — satellite images of a large ship which has been openly constructed off the southern coast of Iran for months — Schmitt simply repeated his lines:

What they’ve been doing is they’re always watching not just the suspected Iranian nuclear sites, most of which are underground. But they’re watching Iran’s conventional military, particularly their ships, their missiles. Starting last summer, they started noticing something a little bit puzzling going up in this shipyard right on the Persian Gulf. And within a matter of months, they realized that the Iranians were building a mockup of one of their aircraft carriers.

And so, as they watched this thing going up, they fear that the Iranians might someday take this out to sea and use it for target practice. Blow it up, film it and use it for propaganda purposes….

The American military wanted to get out front of the Iranians in case they did want to use this for propaganda, and basically expose them.

NPR finally remembered to note that the carrier might be “an elaborate movie prop…the Iranian news reports saying that the ship is basically an elaborate movie prop”, but Schmitt was unfazed:

Would you actually go to the effort of building something like this in a shipyard, quite costly really compared to a mockup of — a wood mockup that you might want to use otherwise in something like that?…

The Iranians have used deception before, subterfuge in the Gulf, trying to mask where some of their aircraft and missiles are

But what if the Iranians never fulfil Schmitt’s dramatic scenario by using the ship as a giant firework in the Persian Gulf?

No problem. The reporter — and his friends in the Pentagon and intelligence services — will just say that his investigative journalism embarrassed the Iranians so much that they halted their devious plan. As he told NPR:

The US is basically saying: Aha, we’ve already caught you at your game. No matter what you say from here on out, it’s not going to be a very effective propaganda tool.

Scott Lucas
By Scott Lucas March 27, 2014 09:04 Updated
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2 Comments

  1. Abdurrahman Ibrahim Abdurrazzaq March 27, 11:23

    Kevin Schmitt like most of the mainstream media in US appears to be a shameless disinformation merchant.

    Everybody now knows that the pretext for the 2003 invasion in Iraq was completely untrue based on Pentagon propaganda and pathetic media coverage, but nobody has lost their job except Judith Miller (her co-reporter and editor have been busy writing books and articles) and many of the same culprits have been flourishing since then. And even if you take aside that particular conflict, the reportage on Syria (either completely regime=evil, or completely rebels=evil with no actual analysis), Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, Iraq (post US), Sudan, Chad, Mali etc has been ridiculously poor with a few notable exceptions that nonetheless make little impact on the overall propaganda.

    This website, along with Carnegie Endowment’s Syria in Crisis section and a bunch of independent intrepid journos like Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, Aron Lund, etc have been among the few very, very good sources that report the wrongs and rights of BOTH sides. Even Seymour Hersh has sold out, letting his admiration of Iran trump his nose for the truth with that ridiculous sarin article he wrote that blamed the rebels for dumping sarin on themselves. Just because Iran and its partners are often wrongly accused doesn’t make them completely faultless, Seymour. Like any politicians, Iran’s politicians have their positives and negatives: Syria is definitely a massive negative.

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    • Pak March 27, 15:25

      You have to remember that you are talking about a polity where a statesman who speaks a foreign language – John Kerry speaking (excellent) French – is ridiculed as an elitist, as if having worldly knowledge is somehow equated to the desecration of America’s heritage and legacy.

      American media is for the most part free, but it is also heavily insulated and stuck within rigid conceptual boundaries. In isolation, this is not a problem – media inevitably reflects its society’s cultural mores. The problem we face is that America is a global power with vested interests in every corner of the globe. Not only that, but it actively engages in social engineering to promote its worldview and ideals.

      This kind of ambition demands a high level of responsible journalism and policy making, since practically every decision shaped and implemented will have reverberations across the globe. Unfortunately, this is not the case, with American journalists and policy makers failing badly in their duties, time and time again. The invasion and occupation of Iraq is the most obvious consequence of such failure, but really the list is endless. The ridicule of Kerry also highlights the rejection of the world beyond American shores, however good or bad it may be.

      I truly believe that Obama has triggered a shift in American thinking, but the fact that he has been ripped to shreds by both neocons and liberal interventionists – both of whom are as ill-informed and ignorant as each other – is testament to the challenges that America faces, particularly if it wants to remain relevant as a beacon of progress and opportunity.

      Another very important trigger, one that is particularly pertinent for America’s insulated society, is the rapid expansion of the world wide web. It is ironic that Western leaders lauded the web as the silver bullet for dictators around the world, only to find that their own populations suddenly became so much more informed and educated, resulting in intense public scrutiny of Western leaders. Look at Wikileaks and Edward Snowden, for example: their voices, and the revelations of mass Western atrocities and lawbreaking, would have gone unheard without the web.

      Times are a-changin’, and quick. If American journalists and policy makers do not catch up, then we will continue to see the crumbling of Western morality authority and soft power, not to mention more failed military interventions.

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