Washington Shocked! Shocked That AP’s George Jahn Is a Tool for Iran Deal Opponents

Greg Sargent this morning walks us through the latest math from the Washington Post on Congressional war hawks trying to obstruct the breakthrough P5+1 agreement with Iran limiting its nuclear technology. Not only does the Post find that Congress has very little chance of overriding a Presidential veto of a vote of disapproval, but as Sargent notes:

It’s not out of the question at this point that opponents will fail to muster 60 votes in the Senate to stop the deal — which would mean that President Obama would not even need to veto the expected measure disapproving of the accord, sparing us a veto-override fight.

So, of course, with the deal looking like it has smoother than expected sailing, opponents have been forced into a desperation move. That hit yesterday afternoon, when known tool of Iran opponents George Jahn (see my posts about his dismal track record here) published an AP story (try that link, but God knows what version of the story you’ll get, see below) that fits his normal pattern. He cites a “draft” of an agreement between the IAEA and Iran on inspection of the Parchin site. Much controversy has surrounded allegations of previous work there. Jahn describes what he saw in the draft agreement and says that “one official familiar with its contents said [it] doesn’t differ substantially from the final version”.

Further complicating matters, Jahn’s story went through several changes in the hours after its release. Fortunately, I don’t have to walk you through all of that or the details of what Jahn claimed. This excellent piece by Max Fisher at Vox walks you through the baffling evolution of the story. The Fisher piece relies heavily on Jeffrey Lewis, who was very quick to note the level of duplicity coming from Jahn even before Fisher talked to Lewis:

In the Fisher piece, Lewis provides us with the perspective that is needed to understand Jahn’s move:

“The oldest Washington game is being played in Vienna,” Lewis said. “And that is leaking what appears to be a prejudicial and one-sided account of a confidential document to a friendly reporter, and using that to advance a particular policy agenda.”

What Fisher completely missed, though, is that George Jahn is the poster child for this behavior that Lewis describes. At the end of the piece, Fisher expresses shock that AP would take part in such a ruse:

But it is disturbing that the AP allowed itself to be used in this way, that it exaggerated the story in a way that have likely misled large numbers of people..

Jahn has been playing precisely this game at AP for years, so it has “allowed itself to be used in this way” many times before by Jahn.

In reading about how events evolved after Jahn put up the first version of the story, it pays to look at these events in the light of the usual process of hurling the lopsided accusation out there and then watching the propaganda develop around it. Iran deal opponents were so fast to to jump on the story that we are left to wonder if they had a heads up as to when it would go live. Republicans in Congress were able to get their condemnation of this “secret side deal benefiting Iran” into some of the earliest revisions of Jahn’s article. And that was the precise reason Jahn was given the copy of the draft agreement in the first place, because it was seen as the last and best chance for Congress to disrupt the deal.

One more point needs noting in this context. Deal opponents, as mentioned above, are quick to spin the agreement between the IAEA and Iran as being kept secret because it is such a sweet deal for Iran. That paints the picture that the IAEA is on Iran’s side. As noted in the Vox piece, though, confidentiality in agreements of this type are the norm. Further, as virtually nobody discussing these developments points out, the Director General of the IAEA, according to WikiLeaks documents, made it known while he was being considered for the position that he “was solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program”. [Note that the cable is from July, 2009, so early in the Obama Administration that US strategy on Iran’s nuclear weapons was primarily still that of the Bush Administration.] So, far from being someone to cut a sweetheart secret deal with Iran, perhaps we might want to see Amano more in the light Iran sees him when they accuse the IAEA of leaking the identifying information on Iranian nculear scientists that allowed them to be targeted for assassination.

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.
18 replies
  1. orionATL says:

    thank you for following this for many months.

    special thanks for following jahn. media deceptors like him warrant multiple exposures.

    what is missing from the jahn reporting is the backstory – what reward(s) did jahn get for focusing so intently on the iran treaty and writing the many deceptions he has written. perhaps doing a david ignatius is enough of an explantion, but to my mind merely seeking access does not explain jahn’s behavior.

    • orionATL says:

      being an agent for a government, say the israeli government, would be one explanation. in the early years of national security uber alles in the u.s, the cia had agents that included ownership in the nytimes and time magazine, if memory serves.

  2. Don Bacon says:

    Reuters
    IAEA says report Iran to inspect own military site is ‘misrepresentation’
    The U.N.[sic] nuclear watchdog chief on Thursday rejected as “a misrepresentation” suggestions Iran would inspect its own Parchin military site on the agency’s behalf, an issue that could help make or break Tehran’s nuclear deal with big powers. …

  3. Don Bacon says:

    Regarding Jahn and his ilk, there is absolutely no down side for a “journalist” to report negative “news” about Iran, a designated long-term US enemy , and high possibilities that such a fabricator would be admitted into any US-allied office (such admittance being everything in that business) and that his work would be published. Jeffrey Goldberg has worked this strategy to perfection. (I have been barred from The Atlantic because I poked holes in Goldberg’s fanciful stories about “mad mullahs” etc.)

  4. orionATL says:

    to this extent iaea is smeared in jahn’s fabulous reporting, we can thank lindsey graham for encouraging such fabularity and discrediting.

  5. P J Evans says:

    Apparently the AP has a ‘document’ that is a fake version of the agreement, and IAEA has called them out.

  6. Denis says:

    After the long diversion into economic theory, great to have you back in the real world of Geo. Jahn, Jim. You have a laudable track-record of tracking Jahn, Albright, and the weird and wacky history of the Parchin Pink Site.
    .
    While questions about the source and authenticity of this IAEA/IRI “agreement” are rightly the first point of focus, the timing is at least equally suspicious.
    .
    Today we learn from the NYT that Barak/Bibi were pushing for an attack on IRI just about the time Jahn was mongering goofy Parchin cartoons and equations via Reuters/AP and Albright was peeing his panties over pink tarps at Parchin. Notwithstanding the annoying alliteration (there I go again), this sort of bs is not just risible, it has real-world consequences and it seems to be consistently timed to promote the GoI agenda. Jahn and Albright — if those guys don’t have deep connections to Mossad/GoI I’ll eat Bibi’s kippa.
    .
    After Jahn’s Parchin cartoon/equations debacles, it boggles the mind that AP or any news outlet would touch anything he has touched. John Daniszewski, the brain-ded AP honcho responsible for this recent debacle, just doesn’t understand that if you’ve got a dead fish in your pocket, you’re gonna’ smell like a dead fish. No reasonable, objective person can now trust AP reports in any context.

    • Jim White says:

      .
      Thanks.
      .
      Your point about timing is very important. If we get more concrete proof the document was forged, I’ll have to dig back through my Twitter archives. I’m pretty sure I speculated several times that during the debate on approving the Iran agreement was a likely time for the next forged document to appear. There will be bonus points for me if I also said Jahn would be the route for publicizing it, although I may well have predicted MEK as the prime mover.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I think your forays into economics are intensely real world. They are rarely attempted by others, which leads, in part, to the NTC not being challenged but submitted to. Thanks for the necessary corrections.

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