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.
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.
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.