Rumsfeld accuses Iran, blasts media

Rumsfeld exploits the carnage in Iraq to score points against Iran, even as he scolds the media for daring to actually report it. How does he keep a straight face? From Bloomberg, March 7:

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today accused Iran of sending its Revolutionary Guards into Iraq to foment violence.

Rumsfeld declined to give details, but his statement marked the first time he’s said these forces are in Iraq. When asked if the infiltration is backed by Iran’s central government, he said “of course” and added: “The Revolutionary Guard doesn’t go milling around willy-nilly.”

Iran is “putting people into Iraq to do things that are harmful to the future of Iraq,” Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference. The action is one Iran “will look back on as having been an error in judgment,” he said.

Rumsfeld’s charge came as the U.S. continues to confront Iran about its nuclear program. Vice President Dick Cheney in a speech today warned that “the international community is prepared to impose meaningful consequences” unless Iran freezes all enrichment activities and keeps its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Michael Maples told the Senate Armed Services Committee Feb. 28 that “Tehran maintains relationships with numerous Iraq Shia faction,” who comprise 60 percent of Iraq’s 25 million population.

Maples said the Pentagon believes “Iran has provided lethal aid to the Iraqi Shia insurgents.”

U.S. Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte that day elaborated on that point.

“Tehran has been responsible for at least some of the increasing lethality” against the coalition by providing Shia militants with the capability to build improvised roadside bombs with “explosively formed projectiles” capable of penetrating the thickest U.S. vehicle armor,” Negroponte said.

Don’t you just love that neat conflation of “60 percent of Iraq’s…population” with “numerous…Shia faction” (sic)? Now this, from CNN, March 7:

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged Tuesday the potential for civil war in Iraq but slammed the media for “exaggerated” reports about the security situation following recent violence between religious factions.

Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon that he thought the news coverage since the February 22 bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in Iraq had been filled with inaccurate information that would inflame the situation there.

He based his comments on remarks made Friday by U.S. Army Gen. George Casey, the top-ranking U.S. military official in Iraq.

“From what I’ve seen thus far, much of the reporting in the U.S. and abroad has exaggerated the situation, according to General Casey,” Rumsfeld said. “The number of attacks on mosques, as he pointed out, had been exaggerated. The number of Iraqi deaths had been exaggerated.”

Much of the sectarian violence that has followed the bombing of the Al-Askariya Mosque in Samarra has pitted Shiites vs. Sunnis.

On Friday, Casey said the military had confirmed about 30 mosque attacks and about 350 civilian deaths. CNN and other media outlets, citing local officials, have reported more than 100 mosque attacks and at least 500 deaths during the same time.

“Interestingly, all of the exaggerations seem to be on one side,” he said. “It isn’t as though there simply have been a series of random errors on both sides of issues. On the contrary, the steady stream of errors all seem to be of a nature to inflame the situation and to give heart to the terrorists and to discourage those who hope for success in Iraq.”

Now let’s see. The Pentagon has been insisting all along that it does not count Iraqi civilian casualties. Now all of a sudden it issues a figure and insists that the media parrot it without question…

See our last posts on Iraq and Iran.