U.S. Media Condemns Iran’s “Aggression” in Intercepting U.S. Naval Ships —
In Iranian Waters
By Glenn Greenwald <http://www.globalresearch.ca/author/glenn-greenwald>
Global Research, January 14, 2016
Mint Press <http://www.mintpressnews.com/212707-2/212707/> 13 January 2015

Region: Middle East & North Africa
<http://www.globalresearch.ca/region/middle-east>, USA
Theme: Media Disinformation
In-depth Report: IRAN: THE NEXT WAR?

  11  15

[image: US-Iran]

*U.S. Media Condemns Iran’s “Aggression” In Intercepting U.S. Naval Ships —
In Iranian Waters*

*Even when the White House was saying they did not yet regard the Iranian
conduct as an act of aggression, American journalists were insisting that
it was.*

News broke last night
hours before President Obama’s State of the Union address, that two U.S.
Navy ships “in the Persian Gulf” were “seized” by Iran, and the 10 sailors
on board were “arrested.”

[image: Photo: A Riverine Command Boat from Costal Riverine Squadron
(RIVRON) 2 escorts the USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) in the Persian Gulf in 2014.]

Photo: A Riverine Command Boat from Costal Riverine Squadron (RIVRON) 2
escorts the USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) in the Persian Gulf in 2014.

The Iranian government quickly said, and even the U.S. government itself
seemed to acknowledge, that these ships had entered Iranian waters without
permission, and were thus inside Iranian territory when detained. CNN’s
Barbara Starr, as she always does, immediately went on-air with Wolf
Blitzer to read what U.S. officials told her to say
“We are told that right now, what the U.S. thinks may have happened, is
that one of these small boats experienced a mechanical problem . . .
perhaps beginning to drift . . . it was at that point, the theory goes
right now, that they drifted into Iranian territorial waters.”

It goes without saying that every country has the right to patrol and
defend its territorial waters and to intercept other nations’ military
boats that enter without permission. Indeed, the White House itself last
night was clear that, in its view, this was “not a hostile act by Iran” and
that Iran had given assurances that the sailors would be promptly released.
And this morning they were released
exactly as Iran promised they would be, after Iran said it determined the
trespassing was accidental and the U.S. apologized and promised no future

Despite all of this, most U.S. news accounts last night quickly skimmed
over – or outright ignored – the rather critical fact that the U.S. ships
had “drifted into” Iranian waters. Instead, all sorts of TV news
personalities and U.S. establishment figures puffed out their chest and
instantly donned their Tough Warrior pose to proclaim that this was an act
of aggression – virtually an act of war: not by the U.S., but *by Iran.* They
had taken our sailors “hostage,” showing yet again how menacing and
untrustworthy they are. Completely typical was this instant analysis
<https://twitter.com/aarondmiller2/status/687023548431351808> from former
Clinton and Bush Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller, now at the
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars:

Iran detains US sailors. Released promptly or not, a hostile act by a
regime that acts w/o US cost/consequence https://t.co/0MNy0FnsjI

— Aaron David Miller (@aarondmiller2) January 12, 2016

[Isn’t it such a mystery – given “even-handed” diplomats like this – why
the U.S. failed to facilitate an Israel/Palestine peace deal and
is perceived around the world as hopelessly biased toward Israel?]
Miller’s proclamation – issued when almost no facts were known – was
immediately re-tweeted by *New York Times* columnist Nick Kristof to his
1.7 million followers [amazingly, when numerous people pointed out that
Miller issued this inflammatory claim without any facts whatsoever, he lashed
out <https://twitter.com/aarondmiller2/status/687037102190686208> at
critics with the condescension and limitless projection typical of US
establishment elites: “Twitter is an amazing vehicle: it allows instant and
at times inaccurate analysis but always intemperate and ad hominem
responses”; by “instant and at times inaccurate analysis,” he meant his
critics, not his own fact-free claim]. Nick Kristof himself then added:

Iranian hardliners have been systematically trying to undermine Rouhani and
damage US-Iranian relations. Seizing sailors, that’ll do it.

— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) January 12, 2016

The truly imbecilic Joe Scarborough of MSNBC turned himself into an instant
self-parody of a pseudo-tough-guy compensating for all sorts of

Hey Iran, you have exactly 300 days left to push a US president around.
Enjoy it while you can. After that, there will be hell to pay.

— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) January 12, 2016

But, as usual, the most alarmist, jingoistic coverage came from the
always-war-hungry CNN. For hours, they emphasized in the most alarmist of
tones that the sailors had been picked up by the Revolutionary Guard which,
in the words of Starr, is “one of the most aggressive elements of the
military and national security apparatus in that country.” CNN host Erin
Burnett intoned <http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1601/12/ebo.01.html> at
the top of her prime-time show: “Next, breaking news: American sailors
seized by Iran. The revolutionary guard arresting ten American sailors in
the Persian Gulf.”

For hours, CNN anchors and guests all but declared war on Iran, insisting
that this behavior demonstrated how aggressive and menacing they were,
while warning that this could turn into another “hostage crisis.”
Immediately after her opening headline-alarm, here is how Burnett
“explained” the situation to CNN viewers:

Ten American navy sailors, nine men and one woman seized by Iranian
Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf tonight. The Americans ran two
boats, each equipped with three 50 caliber machine gun. Iran’s news agency
announcing those sailors are under arrest. U.S. officials say the sailors
were simply on a training mission traveling from Kuwait to Bahrain. It is a
major embarrassment for the Obama administration coming just hours before
the President will be here delivering his final State of the Union Address.

Notice what’s missing? The fact that the ships had entered Iranian waters.
Instead, they were “simply on a training mission traveling from Kuwait to
Bahrain” when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard “seized” them. That is
Baghdad-Bob-level propaganda.

They then brought on CNN national security reporter Jim Sciutto. Throughout
the show, Burnett kept implying that Iran did this on purpose to humiliate
Obama and the U.S. during his State of the Union speech: “Iran is acutely
aware of important events in American politics tonight,” she told
Sciutto. Only then did Sciutto mention that the ships were in Iranian
waters as he gently pointed out the blatantly irrational nature of her
conspiracy theory: “Who could have predicted that you would have two U.S.
small navy boats, one of which either had a mechanical problem or a
navigational error that put it into Iran’s territorial waters?” He then
added: “But you know, I don’t like the sound, it sounds like a cliché to
say the timing, whether accidental or not couldn’t be worse.”

CNN then brought on its White House correspondent Jim Acosta to say: “this
is sort of like an October surprise right before the State of the Union
Address.” They then spoke to a former U.S. intelligence official who,
citing Iran’s language, suggested that “what that means is that the Geneva
Convention protections that are established by international law may not be
invoked by the Iranians”: in other words, they may abuse and even torture
the sailors. Former CIA operative Robert Baer warned viewers: “I’m not
saying that’s going to happen but it could be another hostage crisis which
would very much cloud this administration’s foreign policy in a very, very
ugly way.” David Gergen warned that this was part of a broader trend
showing Iranian aggression: “We have understood that with the nuclear
agreement it not only would contain their nuclear program but they would
start behaving themselves constructively. And that is exactly what they are
not doing now.”

Over and over, CNN’s on-air personalities emphasized the Revolutionary
Guard angle and barely acknowledged, or outright ignored, that the ships
had entered Iranian waters. This
<http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1601/12/cg.02.html> was how Sciutto
“reported” the event on Jake Tapper’s *The Lead*:

TAPPER: Jim, you have some new details on who precisely may be behind this?

detail. Iran’s state Fars News Agency is reporting that the U.S. sailors
were picked up by boats from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. This is very
much tied to the hard-line camp in Iran, which has, in effect, its own
military, including its own navy really in the Persian Gulf, which has
contested U.S. ships before, U.S. aircraft carrier a couple of weeks ago.

To be clear, that is a hard line camp that is opposed to detente in effect
with the U.S. and certainly opposed to the nuclear deal, which is meant to
be implemented in the next several days. . . .

TAPPER: Obviously, we are praying for those ten sailors. Thank you so much,
Jim Sciutto.

Just imagine what would happen if the situation had been reversed: if two
Iranian naval ships had entered U.S. waters off the East Coast of the
country without permission or notice. Wolf Blitzer would have declared war
within minutes; Aaron David Miller would have sprained one his fingers
madly tweeting about Iranian aggression and the need to show resolve; and
Joe Scarborough would have videotaped himself throwing one of his Starbucks
cups at a picture of the mullahs to show them that they cannot push America
around and there “will be hell to pay.” And, needless to say, the U.S.
government would have – quite rightly – detained the Iranian ships and the
sailors aboard them to determine why they had entered U.S. waters (and had
they released the Iranians less than 24 hours later, the U.S. media would
have compared Obama to Neville Chamberlain).

But somehow, the U.S. media instantly converted the* invasion by U.S. ships
into Iranian waters* into an act of aggression *by Iran.* That’s, in part,
because the U.S. political and media establishment believes the world is
owned by the United States (recall how the U.S., with a straight face
<https://twitter.com/LizSly/status/480225743688175616>, regularly condemned
Iran for “interference” in Iraq
while the U.S. was occupying Iraq with 100,000 troops
Thus, the U.S. military has the absolute right to go anywhere it wants –
even into Iranian waters – and it’s inherently an act of “aggression” for
anyone else to resist. That was the clear premise of the bulk of the U.S.
commentary last night.
But the media reaction last night is also explained by the fact their
self-assigned role in life is to instantly defend their government and
demonize any governments that defy it. Even when the White House was saying
they did not yet regard the Iranian conduct as an act of aggression,
American journalists were insisting that it was. The U.S. does not
officially have state TV; it has something much better and more effective:
journalists who are nominally independent, legally free to say what they
want, who are voluntarily even more nationalistic and jingoistic and
government-defending than U.S. government spokespeople themselves.

*Glenn Greenwald, a former constitutional lawyer and a Guardian columnist
until October 2013, has earned numerous awards for his commentary and
investigative journalism, including most recently the 2013 George Polk
Award for national security reporting.*
The original source of this article is Mint Press
Copyright © Glenn Greenwald
<http://www.globalresearch.ca/author/glenn-greenwald>, Mint Press
<http://www.mintpressnews.com/212707-2/212707/>, 2016

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