TEHRAN, June 20 — An armed Sunni group said Friday that it had executed two Iranian policemen, and it threatened to kill 14 others abducted a week ago in an area near the border with Pakistan.
Iranian authorities did not immediately react to a videotape purporting to show the killings, part of which was aired Friday by the al-Arabiya satellite channel, based in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. Iran has accused the United States of assisting the group, known as Jundallah, or God’s Brigade.
In 2007, ABC News quoted U.S. and Pakistani intelligence officials as saying that Jundallah members have been “encouraged and advised” by American officials since 2005. A CIA spokesman told ABC that the United States provides no funding to Jundallah.
Alleged U.S. support for Jundullah is something that I noted in April 2007, when the story from ABC News supporting charges that the Bush administration was backing anti-Iranian terrorist groups was met with a collective yawn by the rest of the mainstream media. As I wrote at the time:
Outside of ABC News, it’s a struggle to find any discussion of U.S. support for anti-Iranian extremist groups in the major media outlets. While the New York Times was quick to speak about the Imus affair in an April 11th editorial, there has been not so much as a mention of the Jundullah story in their paper, much less a critical look at how the story undermines the White House’s moral authority to criticize Iran for its supposed “meddling” in Iraq. The same goes for the Washington Post, where a search for “Jundullah” reveals only two wire articles on the subject. One finds no editorials questioning the policy, no reaction from lawmakers, no introspective takes on the morality of such a policy – one finds next to nothing.
I was led to write an article on alleged U.S. support for Jundullah after engaging in a revealing interview with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) that Jonathan Schwarz described as “an amazing statement of congressional impotence”. Here’s an excerpt of the interview, which took place as Rockefeller was walking out of the Senate chamber (click here to listen to an mp3 of the exchange):
DAVIS: I wonder if you’ve heard some of these news reports that the Bush administration is backing extremist groups in Pakistan to launch attacks against Iran? Are you familiar with those news reports?
ROCKEFELLER: I’ve seen no intelligence that would verify that.
DAVIS: Reports quote administration officials as saying this is going on and it’s being done in a way to avoid oversight of the Intelligence Committee. Is there any way—
ROCKEFELLER: They’ll go to any lengths to do that, as we’ve seen in the last two days [during hearings on FISA].
DAVIS: Is there anything you could do in your position as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee to find answers about this, if it is in fact going on?
ROCKEFELLER: Don’t you understand the way Intelligence works? Do you think that because I’m Chairman of the Intelligence Committee that I just say I want it, and they give it to me? They control it. All of it. All of it. All the time. I only get, and my committee only gets, what they want to give me.
DAVIS: Is there any way someone, maybe not you, they can somehow press the administration to find something—if they’re doing something that may be illegal—
ROCKEFELLER: I don’t know that. I don’t know that. I deal with Intelligence. That’s it. They tend to avoid us.
DAVIS: Well, what do you think about these allegations?
ROCKEFELLER: I’m not—I don’t comment on allegations. I can’t. I can’t afford to.
If anyone believes that Democrats in Congress are going to investigate credible allegations that the U.S. is supporting terrorism, think again. If one of the most powerful — and one of the richest — senators is too timid to so much as issue a subpoena on the topic, then it’s probably best to rely on the likes of Seymour Hersh for evidence of what’s really going on.