In April, we reported on journalists employed by US intelligence agencies to disseminate misinformation in the media. In the report, journalist, Chris Isham was already making the case against Iraq as early as 1995. Isham, who previously worked at ABC News, was said to be the anonymous journalist cited in a once-classified FBI memo.
The memo -- which was recently discovered by Utah lawyer Jesse Trentadue, who has spent years researching the Oklahoma City case -- claims the journalist contacted the FBI hours after Timothy McVeigh's terrorist attack. The reporter passed on information -- which ultimately proved untrue -- "that a source within the Saudi Arabian Intelligence Service advised that the Oklahoma City bombing was sponsored by the Iraqi Special Services."
Garth Porter, Asia Times, in his piece has questioned Michael Isikoff's journalistic integrity. In his report, Porter implies Isikoff of NBC News has been working with the US administration to spread misinformation and peddle false intel fed to him by the administration.
Officials of the Barack Obama administration have aggressively leaked information supposedly based on classified intelligence in recent days to bolster its allegation that two higher-ranking officials from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) were involved in a plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador Adel al-Jubeir in Washington.
The media stories generated by the leaks helped divert press attention from the fact that there is no verifiable evidence of any official Iranian involvement in the alleged assassination plan, contrary to the broad claim being made by the administration.
But the information about the two Iranian officials leaked to NBC News, the Washington Post and Reuters was unambiguously false and misleading, as confirmed by official documents in one case and a former senior intelligence and counter-terrorism official in the other.
Many analyst have questioned the plausibility of Iranian involvement in the alleged plot to kidnap and assassinate the Saudi ambassador by the Mexican drug cartel. The US administration has exhaustively tried to link the used car salesman, Iranian-American, Manssor Arabsiar and Abdul Reza Shahlai, who was identified publicly by the Obama administration as a "deputy commander in the Qods force" of the IRGC. Arabsiar claimed that Shahlai was his cousin as reported by the DEA informant.
Shahlai had long been regarded by US officials as a key figure in the Qods force's relationship to Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army in Iraq.
In September 2008, the Treasury Department designated Shahlai as an individual "providing financial, material and technical support for acts of violence that threaten the peace and stability of Iraq" and thus subject to specific financial sanctions. The announcement said Shahlai had provided "material support" to the Mahdi Army in 2006 and that he had "planned the January 20, 2007, attack" by Mahdi Army "Special Groups" on US troops at the Provincial Coordination Center in Karbala, Iraq.
Arabsiar's confession claims that Shahlai approached him in early spring 2011 and asked him to find "someone in the narcotics business" to kidnap the Saudi ambassador to the United States, according to the FBI account. Arabsiar implicates Shahlai in providing him with thousands of dollars for his expenses.
But Arabsiar's charge against Shahlai was self-interested. Arabsiar had become the cornerstone of the administration's case against Shahlai in order to obtain leniency on charges against him.
Much like Isham had done to make the case against Iraq, Istikoff had been implicating Iran and coincidentally Shahlai since 2008. Without direct (or even indirect) evidence, Istikoff had labeled Shahlai a terrorist and had been at the forefront of building the case against him.
Laying the foundation for press stories on the theme, the Treasury Department announced on Tuesday that it was sanctioning Shahlai, along with Arabsiar and three other Qods force officials, including the head of the organization, Major General Qasem Soleimani, for being "connected to" the assassination plot.
But Michael Isikoff of NBC News reported the same day that Shahlai "had previously been accused of plotting a highly sophisticated attack that killed five US soldiers in Iraq, according to US government officials and documents made public Tuesday afternoon".
Isikoff, who is called "National Investigative Correspondent" at NBC News, reported that the Treasury Department had designated Shahlai as a "terrorist" in 2008, despite the fact that the Treasury announcement of the designation had not used the term "terrorist".
On Saturday, the Washington Post published a report closely paralleling the Isikoff story but going even further in claiming documentary proof of Shahlai's responsibility for the January 2007 attack in Karbala. Post reporter Peter Finn wrote that Shahlai "was known as the guiding hand behind an elite militia of the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr", which had carried out an attack on US troops in Karbala in January 2007.
Finn cited the fact that the Treasury Department named Shahlai as the "final approving and coordinating authority" for training Sadr's militiamen in Iran. That fact would not in itself be evidence of involvement in a specific attack on US forces. On the contrary, it would suggest that he was not involved in operational aspects of the Mahdi Army in Iraq.
Finn then referred to a "22-page memo that detailed preparations for the operation and tied it to the Qods force ..." But he didn't refer to any evidence that Shahlai personally had anything to do with the operation.
In fact, US officials acknowledged in the months after the Karbala attack that they had found no evidence of any Iranian involvement in the operation.
As we know from the recent past, evidence when needed can and will be fabricated.