A Pentagon source close to the debriefing of the 10 sailors captured by Iran told CNN that their captors ordered the prisoners to “act happy” during the filming of a propaganda video.
It is also being suggested that the crew “cut a corner” on their trip that eventually brought them into Iranian territorial waters.
The U.S. commander who spoke on camera has indicated he felt pressure to talk about how well they were being treated. It’s not yet clear if he was directly ordered to apologize, the official said.
The U.S sailor was filmed saying, “It was a mistake that was our fault and we apologize for our mistake.”
While the nine men and one woman sailor were not physically mistreated, the information from the defense official was the first indication they were under some direct mental duress from the Iranians.
The Iranian state-run TV footage of the sailors being captured, on their knees with their hands behind their heads, and a subsequent video of one sailor apologizing has been fodder for Republican critics of President Barack Obama since the news first hit just hours before his final State of the Union. The latest details could further fan the flames.
As more information has come to light through the debriefs, it’s now understood that the crew decided to “cut a corner” to make up time to get to a planned refueling point. It’s not clear whether they were lower on fuel than expected.
That change of course began a series of events that led them apparently unknowingly into Iranian waters, officials said.
The crew stopped to fix an engine problem on one of the boats, not realizing they had drifted too close to Iran’s Farsi Island, the official said.
Two others defense officials also said it appears the crew was so involved in fixing the engine that they didn’t realize where they were until the Iranians boats approached them.
All three officials strongly emphasized the full investigation must be completed before the military will be certain about what happened.
There is so much here that still doesn’t make any sense. Are we really to believe that “the crew was so involved in fixing the engine that they didn’t realize where they were until the Iranian boats approached them”? We will never know the truth of that statement because Iran confiscated all the navigation and GPS equipment—and for some reason, we haven’t demanded their return. Of course, by this time, anything that would show the Iranians seizing our boats in international waters has long been scrubbed from the devices.
Then there’s the question of whether the young naval officer who apologized to Iran on the video was acting under orders from the Obama administration:
Congress wants to know if the State Department held any influence on the U.S. Navy sailor who apologized to Iran after he and his nine other sailors were arrested and detained by the regime. The video, which aired on Iranian television, showed all ten sailors kneeling on the decks of their ships with their hands behind their heads.
The U.S. sailors, who were detained by Iran Tuesday and later released Wednesday morning, spoke to the State Department before one of the naval officers was video taped making an apology to the Iranian regime, a Republican congressman says.
“It was a mistake. That was our fault. And we apologize for our mistake,” the sailor said, in a video clip posted by Iran’s Tasnim News Agency.
When asked if they had a “special problem” the sailor replied, “We had no problem, sir.”
Florida Republican Rep. Tom Rooney , a member of the House Select permanent Intelligence Committee, told The Daily Caller Thursday during the GOP retreat, “We talked about that [during the retreat] and we’ll have to wait and hear from him, but we do know that the State Dept. did talk to those guys before he made that comment, so it was very kind of, honestly, suspicious why he would just come out and make that kind of a statement.”
Rooney added, “It almost seems like it was cooked in the books for part of the release to make it look better that he would apologize for drifting into the water and then they would be released.”
According to the Daily Mail, reports from Iran say the Pentagon was “forced” to make a groveling apology in order to have the sailors released.
The White House continues to insist that their nauseating surrender to the Iranians was not an embarrassment and actually was a victory for diplomacy:
White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked by Fox News’ Doug McKelway at Friday’s press briefing whether the White House was embarrassed by the pictures that came out of Iran of the 10 U.S. sailors on their knees with their hands behind their heads.
Earnest said that the White House was not and that the primary concern was that the sailors were unharmed.
“I don’t think that there is any reason for anybody to be embarrassed. I think there is reason for us to be certainly relieved that our service men and women who are protecting America in a very dangerous part of the world were released pretty shortly after they were taken into custody,” Earnest said.
Earnest said that the series of events that led those 10 sailors to drift into Iranian waters and to be taken into custody was under investigation with the Department of Defense. The sailors are being interviewed by senior officials to be able to piece together the events that transpired.
McKelway said a senior Pentagon official told him that the Obama administration is blocking the facts from getting out.
“That’s not true. I think we have been pretty transparent about the fact that if we followed the advice of some Republican critics of the administration that we would probably be in a bloody war with Iran right now over our sailors,” Earnest said.
Earnest said that he was uncertain how the safety of the nation or our men and women in uniform would be advanced by starting a war with Iran and its advanced military.
Typical straw man argument from Earnest. Not one single Republican or administration critic suggested going to war with Iran over the incident. But Obama’s abject surrender and apology to the Iranians is being justified as the only way to bring our sailors home safely. Forget that Iran had no cause to make prisoners of our people at gunpoint, nor did they have any right to make them set pieces in a propaganda video. What matters is that the president had a chance to stand up for America and was found wanting.
This story isn’t going away and given what’s leaking from the Pentagon, whatever “official” story that emerges should be examined closely.