Belmont Club

Below the horizon

The New York Times reports on training camps inside Iran teaching people to kill Americans:

WASHINGTON — They wake before dawn, with time to exercise, eat and pray before the day’s first class in firing Kalashnikov rifles. Over the next eight hours, they practice using bazookas or laying roadside bombs, with a break for lunch and mandatory religious instruction. There is free time in the evening to watch television or play Ping-Pong.Lights out at 11 p.m.

Such is a typical day at a dusty military base outside Tehran, where for the past several years members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force and Lebanese Hezbollah operatives have trained Iraqi Shiites to launch attacks against American forces in Iraq, according to accounts given to American interrogators by captured Iraqi fighters. American officials have long cited Iranian training and weapons as reasons for the lethality of attacks by Shiite fighters in Iraq. Iranian officials deny that such training takes place.

Now, more than 80 pages of newly declassified intelligence documents for the first time describe in detail an elaborate network used by Iraqis to gain entry into Iran and train under Iranian supervision.

Well not quite just now and not quite just for the first time. Bill Roggio has been describing the process for nearly a year. In December 2007 he wrote: “The Long War Journal has spoken to several mid-level and senior US military and intelligence officers, all of whom have declined to go on the record due to the sensitive nature of the Iranian issue. Based on these conversations as well as other information, The Long War Journal has learned the nature of the Qods Force operations in Iraq and how they move resources into the country.” The article is accompanied by a diagram showing the Iranian ratlines into Iraq.

In August 2008, Bill Roggio had a further article with a more detailed map and noting the location of the Qods camps.  And the AP knew it too.

Qods Force and Hezbollah currently run training camps for the “Special Groups” as well as the Hezbollah Brigades in at least four locations inside Iran, at Qom, Tehran, Ahvaz, and Mashhad, the senior military officer told the AP. The camps are co-run by Iran’s Qods Force and Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy in Lebanon.

The concept of an engagement queue came out of fire control literature to describe the order in which the commander paid attention to things.  In the case of Iran’s involvement in attacking Iraq, the public already has a vague knowledge of Teheran’s actions. People who read Bill Roggio’s site, for example, would have been well informed. Many people in the media would have known the same set of facts too. But for editorial reasons it wasn’t important enough to make the top of the fold. Technically speaking the problem of Iran’s aggression is a ‘known known’. But the lack of emphasis on it in the MSM means it is way back in the public policy engagement queue. In a way it is like the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac problem: known, but who cares?

Someday we may all care, but no one can predict when or whether. Only when something dramatic happens will something in back of the queue jump to the fore. Then MSM can write, ‘in October 2008, the New York Times warned about the impending disaster …’  There are a lot of things which we know, but whose relative importance is denigrated by current assessments.  They are known, but are dismissed as inconsequential.

Which of the things which we know about the current Presidential candidates which are now regarded as marginal will turn out to be central?


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