As all Drudge readers know, the NY Times’s Dexter Filkens reported today that a tanker from Iran was stopped coming into Iraq, and was found to contain thousands of forged ballots. Various Iraqi pols and even one general have denied it, although the story was sourced to the police and no one from the police has denied it yet.
It’s an important story and deserves some discussion here. First of all, Filkens is a good journalist. He didn’t make it up, and he knows the difference between a good source and a dreamer. Second, it makes sense for the Iraqi police to stop tankers coming in from Iran, because other tankers have carried explosives, and some of them were suicide vehicles. Third, the story is completely consistent with everything we know about Iran’s desperate efforts to prevent good government in Iraq. That is an existential threat to the mullahs, because they know that their own people yearn for good, democratic government.
Despite the recent stories about the religious convictions–and visions–of President Ahmadi Nezhad, Iran remains a relatively unreported story. And a large part of that is because the biggest leakers in the government (the CIA for those of you in Loma Linda) don’t want to have to do anything about Iran, about which they are poorly informed, and in which they have nothing going. I keep getting reports from Iraqis and from American soldiers, that tell of abundant evidence of direct Iranian involvement with terrorism in Iraq, but these stories never make it to the MSM. An Iraqi dinner guest the other evening said that in Basra, for example, there are offices with big signs that say “Iranian Military Intelligence,” where recruiting is going on. That’s a British zone, and the Brits permit this to go on, even as they warn about lethal Iranian activity.
If the Americans and the Brits don’t want to mess with the Iranians, how can we expect the Iraqis to be more aggressive? Iraqis know that the Iranians can blow them up, why should they confirm things like Filkens’ story? Of course they will deny it, even as you and I would under the circumstances.
Reporting on Iraq and on Iran is not like covering Capitol Hill. And we need to maintain proper context. Journalists aren’t any more eager to die than the rest of us; certain stories aren’t going to be reported. A long way of saying “bravo” to Dexter Filkens.