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'Fox and Friends' Call Info on Iranian Arms 'Proof'

Reported by Judy - February 12, 2007 -

Bush Administration officials have said they are "inferring" that Iranian officials have authorized shipping weapons to insurgents in Iraq, but on Monday (February 12, 2007), "Fox and Friends" turned those inferences into "proof" and asked, "What's going to be the penalty against Iran." With video.

"Fox and Friends" co-host Brian Kilmeade used the word "proof" to describe the information presented at an administration briefing for reporters over the weekend regarding weapons the administration says come from Iran.

"Many of the insurgents there are being directly assisted by the country of Iran. Directly," said co-host Steve Doocy. "A lot of the bombs that have killed our men and women over there essentially say 'Made in Iran."

Asked co-host Gretchen Carlson, "What's going to be the penalty against Iran?"

Doocy then dismissed suggestions that the U.S. talk to Iran about the matter, noting Sen. Christopoher Dodd's comments and then allowing his voice to trail off, saying, "Ah, you heard that."

Despite Kilmeade's insistence that the briefing amounted to proof, other news organizations have been more skeptical.

As The New York Times pointed out in a story Monday, the administration officials, who insisted on anonymity, admitted they were not offering proof that the weapons were sent by the government of Iran.

"The officials also asserted, without providing direct evidence, that Iranian leaders had authorized smuggling those weapons into Iraq for use against the Americans. The officials said such an assertion was an inference based on general intelligence assessments," the newspaper reported.

An assertion, based on an inference, is not proof.

The Times also questioning the timing of the information's release, noting that the administration has had the information for years, but was releasing it at a time when the administration has been ratcheting up pressure on Iran.

And an expert on the Middle East also has cast doubt on the administration's claims, especially given its track record on handling intelligence in the period when it was beating the drums for war on Iraq. Juan Cole, author of the Informed Comment blog and a scholar on the Middle East at the University of Michigan, found the information on Iran unconvincing.

In his column Sunday, Cole wrote:

"If Iran was giving EFPs to anyone, it was to the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and its Badr Corps paramilitary, for future use. SCIRI is the main US ally in Iraq aside from the Kurds. I don't know of US troops killed by Badr, certainly not any time recently.

"It is far more likely that corrupt arms merchants are selling and smuggling these things than that there is direct government- to- militia transfer. It is possible that small Badr Corps stockpiles were shared or sold. That wouldn't have been Iran's fault.

"Some large proportion of US troops being killed in Iraq are being killed with bullets and weapons supplied by Washington to the Iraqi army, which are then sold by desperate or greedy Iraqi soldiers on the black market. This problem of US/Iraqi government arms getting into the hands of the Sunni Arab guerrillas is far more significant and pressing than whatever arms smugglers bring in from Iran.

"We now know that Iran came to the US early in 2003 with a proposal to cooperate with Washington in overthrowing Saddam Hussein, and that VP Richard Bruce Cheney rebuffed it. The US could have had Iran on its side in Iraq!

"The attempt to blame these US deaths on Iran is in my view a black psy-ops operation. The claim is framed as though this was a matter of direct Iranian government transfer to the deadliest guerrillas. In fact, the most fractious Shiites are the ones who hate Iran the most. If 25 percent of US troops are being killed and wounded by explosively formed projectiles, then someone should look into who is giving those EFPs to Sunni Arab guerrillas. It isn't Iran.

"Finally, it is obvious that if Iran did not exist, US troops would still be being blown up in large numbers. Sunni guerrillas in al-Anbar and West Baghdad are responsible for most of the deaths. The Bush administration's talent for blaming everyone but itself for its own screw-ups is on clear display here."

And as the Huffington Post blog points out, it is not logical that Iran, which is run by Shiites, would be trying to undercut the Shiite-led government in Iraq by attacking the American troops trying to protect the government. Most attacks on U.S. troops are by Sunnis, who the Iranian government definitely would not be supporting.

But when Fox News hears something from the Bush administration, they always assume it's "proof." Skeptical Americans, burned once by the charade that led to the Iraq war, are going to be a little more discriminating this time around.