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Friday, January 11, 2008


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I didn't watch the debate last night, but from what I have read, it sounds like Ron Paul was the only one making any sense, at least on this issue:

I would certainly urge a lot more caution than I'm hearing here tonight. It reminds me of what happened in the Gulf of Tonkin. We went to war there, then, later on, found out there was a lot of false information.... We have five small speedboats attacking the U.S. Navy with a destroyer? They could take care of those speedboats in about five seconds. And here we're ready to start World War III over this?

According to several articles, when Romney criticized Paul for saying the US should avoid another war, some people actually applauded him.

Who are these people in the Republican party that would applaud that? And if you're on the fence about whether or not to vote Democrat or Republican in November, what more do you need to know?


Link to the 4 min. and 45 min. video. IPS quoted from the same link:

Q: Sir, Tony Capaccio with Bloomberg News. A lot of people are going to wonder why was the U.S. Navy afraid of five small speed boats when the vessels encountered were fairly large and well- equipped. Can you give the public a sense of the potential damage these vessels, these even small vessels could have caused. Did they have any anti-ship missiles on them, for instance, or torpedoes?

ADM. COSGRIFF: Neither anti-ship missiles nor torpedoes, and I wouldn't characterize the posture of the U.S. 5th Fleet as afraid of these ships or these three U.S. ships afraid of these small boats. Our ships were making a normal transit of the Strait of Hormuz. They followed the procedures they've been trained to follow to increase their own readiness in the face of events like this, and as the Iranian behavior continued during this interaction, our ships stepped through there, increased readiness, the pace. And I didn't get the sense from the reports I was receiving that there was a sense of being afraid of these five boats. That said, we take the potential for a small craft to inflict damage against a larger ship seriously, and we would be irresponsible if we didn't.
USS Cole bombing (2000)
Iranian seizure of Royal Navy personnel (2007)


More on the subject of the media's role in creating the phony sense of crisis.


Dan, what do you think about Gareth Porter's description:

And the story really began from leaks from the Pentagon. I mean, there were Pentagon officials apparently calling reporters and telling them that something had happened in the Strait of Hormuz, which represented a threat to American ships and that there was a near battle on the high seas. The way it was described to reporters, it was made to appear to be a major threat to the ships and a major threat of war. And that's the way it was covered by CNN, by CBS and other networks, as well as by print media.
Do you believe him? Does the anonymity and use of "apparently" bother you at all? Does it strike you odd, at all, that a journalist would "guess" that the sensationalism originated with a building ("the Pentagon") rather than a person or reporter?


What makes you characterize this as "a guess?"


Porter doesn't provide a first-person account. He doesn't provide any fact-checking of the source of the sensationalism. He hedges with "apparently."

He's guessing.


Perhaps. But by that standard, you're guessing.

There is no objective system for evaluating and quantifying the sourcing of material, and openly sourced material can be a misleading as anonymously sourced information. Not only that, but the original reports on this story -- which turned out to be incomplete and misleading -- weren't "guesses": they were straight from the "official" sources.

As for hedging: Hedging makes good sense in these kinds of stories, even if you're getting your info from "good" sources. You don't see the whole board.

I dunno whether this particular guy is any good whatsoever. I have no experience with him.


Along with the comment waiting approval, re: "objective system for evaluating and quantifying the sourcing of material ..."

Rhetorica: Critical Meter
Critically Analyzing Information Sources

Pat Conover

My unanswered question is this. Suppose one or more of the boats was loaded with explosives and did a suicide crash into a destroyer. How dangerous would that be.

Then, assuming it could be dangerous, when should the Navy shoot such a ship out of the water? If there is an assumed protective radius against such suicide crashes in the Navy manual, did any of the ships come inside such a radius?

That information was apparently not available and I count it a failure of the reporter who asked merely about missiles and torpedos which would presumably be visible to the Navy.

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