The Sudden Change of Story on Iranian EFPs

I know we’re supposed to be focused on other stuff on IA Caucus Day (maybe I’ll get around to it by prime time). But for the moment I wanted to call attention to this Noah Shachtman post, in which he links to a story in which the ever-reliable (ha!) Steven Boylan declares that Iran has stopped providing Iraq with EFPs.

"We are ready to confirm the excellence of the senior Iranian leadership in their pledge to stop the funding, training, equipment and resourcing of the militia special groups," Col. Boylan said. "We have seen a downward trend in the signature-type attacks using weapons provided by Iran."

In October, U.S. military officials began noticing a decrease in the supply of Iranian weapons and assistance, Col. Boylan added.

 Though Boylan seems poised to declare that Eastasia is again our enemy, if circumstances so require.

"We are very much in the wait-and-see mode to see what happens," Col. Boylan said.

While Shachtman seems inclined to give Boylan the benefit of the doubt, he also notes that the dominant narrative on IEDs tends to be rather conveniently tied to larger geopolitical questions.

I’m inclined to take Boylan at his word — he’s always been straight with me.  But, the cynic in me can’t help but note that the Iran connection was overplayed last winter.  The EFPs that the U.S. military displayed as evidence of Iranian machining struck some observers as hand-hammered ashtrays. The EFPs I saw in Iraq had a similar, home-made feel — and bore no mark of Iranian manufacture.   At least two EFP factories have been found inside Iraq.

Since I’m more cynical and much less trusting of Boylan than Shachtman, I’d just like to emphasize that swing, particularly the timing of the swing back to the conclusion that Eastasia Iran is not arming Iraqi insurgents: October, about the time Bush was making his WWIII comments and Putin was proclaiming a war on Iran to be a war on Russia. And one month before the NIE stating that Iran had given up its nukes program. And two months before Abdullah and Ahmadinejad started smooching secretly behind the back of the school. 

23 replies
  1. JimWhite says:

    Interesting. Now even the Washington Times doesn’t bother to correct Boylan’s butchery of the language.

    On the wider front, is this part of a mutual ratcheting-down of rhetoric? Today’s story on Khamenei has this:

    Iran’s supreme leader suggested on Thursday that ties might one day be possible with the United States, the Islamic state’s arch foe for almost three decades, although he said it would harm Iran to restore relations now.…..menei_dc_5

    • emptywheel says:

      That seems to be what’s happening, isn’t it? I just wonder what role Abdullah plays? Is he truly representing our interests on this front? Re-reading the section of One Percent Doctrine this morning, I’m reminded that Abdullah was throwing around the oil weapon in 2002. If Saudi Arabia allied with Iran, they’d have a lot less incentive to remain in bed with us, perhaps.

      • phred says:

        I suspect Abdullah is representing Saudi’s interests. For now those are tied to the US, but they will shift as the global demand for oil shifts.

        • emptywheel says:

          Or perhaps even before. After all, China, which could suck up all of Saudi’s excess oil, is not that picky about the politics of their oil suppliers.

          • merkwurdiglieber says:

            China has already been given permission to construct their own oil
            terminal by Saudi Arabia, the only other nation with their own is the USA.
            That and the softening of the dollar only petroleum transaction mandate by
            Saudi indicate the “already” you note. Chinese chess is even more long
            term than Persian.

  2. JimWhite says:


    Can you give us some perspective on the relationship of the internal CIA battles, as seen in the tape destruction disucssion, to the NIE breakthrough that seems to have started the thawing of language on Iran?

    Is it possible that foreign pollicy actually has been affected by those who seem to have put what I think of as reality on Iran ahead of the views of Cheney’s Team B?

    • phred says:

      I’ll be curious to see EW’s response, but I think this is all part of a larger whole. The Intel agencies, especially CIA, were given no end of crap about their lousy intelligence that hypothetically took us into the Iraq war, when in fact it was Cheney’s trumped up intel that provided the pretext for the neocon game plan that preceded 9/11. Meanwhile, OVP and EOP appear to have been instrumental in ginning up crappy legal cover for all manner of crimes they expected other people to carry out. Conveniently everything has been classified up the wazoo, so any dissent has been kept out of public view. It appears the rifts may have been deepest over at CIA (despite the better known threat of mass resignations, which did not in fact occur, at DoJ).

      CIA lost a lot of career people under Goss and it has been reported that Hayden was having a tough time replacing people. I think between Cheney’s continued pressure to mix it up with Iran (as if he hasn’t fucked up enough already) and a genuine desire to not go to jail because of “other people’s incompetence”, some folks at CIA are fighting back. This will most likely effect the Cheney run enterprises such at torture, Iran, and Pakistan, as opposed to the mess over a DoJ which seemed to be more of Rove’s handiwork.

      • emptywheel says:

        I said in the last thread that I thought there were three factions in question. Those are:

        Helgerson, his IG office, and those who oppose torture vigorously

        Kappes and Sulick (and potentially Kiriakou and/or Grenier), who I am guessing are in-between

        Porter Goss and his cronies–which may or may not include Crazy Pete Hoektra, who were ardently pro-torture and were closely aligned with Cheney

        I say there are three factions, because the split between the pro-torture and anti-torture crowd is very pronounced (we’ve had a lot of stories about that split), and the split between Kappes and Sulick and the Gosslings is very pronounced (we know taht Kappes was very popular before and still, so we should assume a distinct lack of continuity between Goss’ tenure, particularly as it relates to alliance with Cheney and hackery, and Kappes’ tenure.

        I’m not sure where Rodriguez falls, but for a lot of reasons I lump him with the Gosslings.

        What’s unclear is where those two different splits come down on the two pressing issues–the torture tapes, and the NIE. Though we know that Kappes is one of the people that vetted the NIE, and he has proven his willingness to make a stand on principle before, so I’m betting he is one of the people–if not the primary person–who was ready to go public with the NIE results.

        That said, it’s unclear where the Kappes crowd is with torture.

        Laura Rozen reported that John Kiriakou was the executive assistant for Robert Grenier. Now, I wouldn’t automatically assume that Grenier and Kiriakou are the same faction. You’d think a top spook would get to choose his Exec Assistant, but Grenier made some claims during the Libby trial that suggested there was some operational space between him and Kiriakou–which may or may not have been a true claim. That said, Grenier was reportedly fired because 1) he was not Goss’ man, and 2) he wasn’t tough enough (the Europeans translated that as “he didn’t like torture). Which suggests Grenier may have been fired bc he was solidly in the anti-torture crowd. Given Kiriakou’s ambivalent reports–”torture is bad but it did work,” I might put him in the Kappes crowd. That is, in a position where people for legal, moral, and efficacy reasons disavow torture, but where they also want to make sure none of the guys who did the torture are held legally liable.

        So I suspect that there are two somewhat amorphous positions (between those who would leak to expose torture, adn those who want to make sure no one is held legally responsible but also want to be done with torture), as well as the distinct crowd of the Gosslings, under whose authority the tapes were destroyed. In any case, the Kappes faction appears ascendant now (though Helgerson looks like he’s heading for a win on the torture issue), and I do think they were responsible for the publication of the NIE.

  3. JohnForde says:

    OT but I think you have a lot of readers who’d like to know more about this from your comments in the previous thread:

    I suspect there are three teams: Herlgerson and McCarthy, who opposed teh torture and were trying to expose it, Kappes and Sulick, who didn’t oppose the torture but who also believed in doing the right thing wrt the tapes, and Rodriguez and (I still am convinced) Porter Goss, who didn’t oppose the torture but were convinced they needed to obstruct justice to protect the DO guys who did it.

    That’s a wildarsed-guess, but that’s my suspicion.

  4. freepatriot says:

    george is gonna tell us this is another reason to attack Iran

    wanna bet ???

    I can see him now …

    Iran recently stopped providing “efp”s to our Iraqi allies, we must attack Iran until they restore the rightful traffic in “epf”s

    doesn’t sound so implausible anymore, does it ???

  5. chetnolian says:

    There is of course another geopolitical reason just come into play.

    Until last week, the Administration thought it was successfully brokering a solution along Iran’s eastern border, a country called Pakistan. Then Benazir got killed and who can predict what will happen next, either in Pakistan or along its eastern border, which, where it isn’t Iran, is Afghanistan? Sometimes a quick look at an atlas is really helpful.

  6. Hugh says:

    The EFP accusation has always been baloney. Far more Americans have been killed by Sunni IEDs than Shiite EFPs. It was always bogus that Iraq that produced most of its own munitions during the Iraq-Iran war didn’t have a few machine shops around to shape a few pieces of copper. Finally, the decrease in the use of EFPs has to do with the truce with the Mahdi Army and the greater reliance on airpower over ground sweeps in Shia areas. I remember earlier this year an Army officer pointing out that EFPs were used when we invaded Shia neighborhoods. We haven’t been doing that and, lo and behold, we aren’t being hit with EFPs. Who could have guessed? Boylan and these clucks are just blowing smoke as usual. What the Boylan comments do show, however, is that Petraeus and his staff remain as clueless as ever about what is really going on in Iraq.

  7. BayStateLibrul says:


    Any bets when the “From the Desk of Patrick Fitzgerald” blogger
    will swap seats with John Durham?
    Durham is baseball player from Colgate… so no sand please.
    So far, his baseball stats are unavailable…

  8. whitecat says:

    If anyone would like to really understand the neo-cons and their war-mongering tendencies then read two books (to start). They are “Conservatives Without A Conscience” by John W. Dean and “The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot” by Naomi Wolf. It is important to understand the authoritairan personality and then to understand that the U.S. is a “closing democracy” that has already started the slide toward dictatorship. I am now going to start “Broken Government” by John W. Dean to take my mind today off the Iowa Caucuses. Randi Rhodes on “Air America” has listed all three of these books as our “homework” assignments. So, get out there, by books, support authors (Like Valerie Plame Wilson and Jeremy Scahill) and arm yourself with knowledge. Its all very interesting to follow the news knowing what the Right-Wing Authoritarians and their Social Dominators have in mind for us.

  9. freepatriot says:

    off topic, but …

    come on, no thread on the caucas ???

    Josh has some of the funniest political headlines I’ve ever seen

    the mittster figures if nobody shows up, he wins:

    If Republican turnout today is 80,000 or above, Mitt Romney’s campaign could be in trouble, according to Doug Gross, Mr. Romney’s Iowa campaign chairman.

    fredo is stamping his foot and screaming “I am too relevent”:

    Is Fred Thompson really going to quit the race before New Hampshire if he posts a weak showing in Iowa, as an anonymous adviser said this morning?

    “That is absolutely made up out of whole cloth,” said the former U.S. Senator from Tennessee.

    probably find some scrapes of that cloth in fredo’s campaign headquarters, if you could find fredo’s campaign headquarters

    and it looks like kkkarl rove’s wet dream candidate is gonna finish third

    so much for inevitibility and shit

    so why we bothering with this mixed message propaganda from the repuglitards ???

    what’s next, is Boykin gonna tell us that their God is bigger than our God ???

    these fuckers are just throwing shit against a wall to see what sticks

    we don’t have to play that game

    we could watch the repuglitard follies instead

    who wants popcorn ???

  10. DeadLast says:

    My take is the metaphorical message of the series “Left Behind.”

    BushCo (i.e., Halliburton, Carlyle Group, Enron, Blackwater, the House of Saud, etc.) are planning on “leaving the rest of us behind.” As they move thier repective bases of operation to Dubai (for tax-free safekeeping and minimal oversight), do they care if the Saudis and Iranians work together? They will already own the oil distribution deals from Iraq.

    It is kind of like when Boeing left union-friendly Seattle for Chicago. Who is going to complain in Chicago about outsourcing Seattle jobs? The major difference is that Bush has burdened the US with debt used to fund his start up venture. The dollar will be weak, and the US will become a growling toothless old dog.

    But BushCo will have raw materials with a distribution deal. He will be the wealthiest ex-Presidente ever. And Cheney will be richer and meaner still. The only fantasy they won’t realize is being crowned grand ayatollahs.

    So why should they really care about Iran. They are more than willing to pander to them, ultimately granting them legitimacy, as long as they are granted power and freedom to operate thier financial empire from Dubai. After all, haven’t the republicans proven that American religous leaders can be kept in line with sex scandals? Why won’t the same work with the mullahs?

    • merkwurdiglieber says:

      I think you have them about right, patriots skimming for their next gig,
      leaving the mess for the opposition to clean up as Murdoch acts as their
      shadow cabinet… nailed.

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