Lets Dream a new dream...even a strange dream
It's important to note that non-events like this happen in the Gulf with regularity. In military parlance it's described as "free training". And certainly, from the video released by the Pentagon, it doesn't look like a whole lot more than that. I guess they felt like they had to spruce it up more. So they added this additional audio track that sounds like a random bad guy from Iron Eagle or something, threatening the American ships:
That audio really makes you laugh out loud. Apparently there are plenty of people at the Pentagon who feel the same way:
The list of those who are less than fully confident in the Pentagon’s video/audio mashup of aggressive maneuvers by Iranian boats near American warships in the Strait of Hormuz now includes the Pentagon itself.
Unnamed Pentagon officials said on Wednesday that the threatening voice heard in the audio clip, which was released on Monday night with a disclaimer that it was recorded separately from the video images and merged with them later, is not directly traceable to the Iranian military.
I think it's more directly traceable to a Hollywood soundstage. There's no background audio behind the "Iranian," yet he's supposed to be on a gunship with an outboard motor? This has to be the rationalization of the century from the spokesliars at the Pentagon:
Pentagon officials said they could not rule out that the broadcast might have come from shore, or from another ship nearby, although it might have come from one of the five fast boats with a high-quality radio system.
As emptywheel said,
Oh yeah. Those fancy Iranian motorboats have such high-quality radio systems that they filter out the ambient noise of an outboard motor working at full speed while the tape taken from the US ship, taken at least partially inside the bridge, itself has the noise of a ship at sea.
That extra audio, which is the only thread between this and a perfunctory and meaningless incident, could easily have been chatter from the shoreline about the incident, kind of a "Mystery Science Theater 3000" version of what happened. It sure isn't credible that it came from the boat.
All ships at sea use a common UHF frequency, Channel 16, also known as “bridge-to bridge” radio. Over here, near the U.S., and throughout the Mediterranean, Ch. 16 is used pretty professionally, i.e., chatter is limited to shiphandling issues, identifying yourself, telling other ships what your intentions are to avoid mishaps, etc.
But over in the Gulf, Ch. 16 is like a bad CB radio. Everybody and their brother is on it; chattering away; hurling racial slurs, usually involving Filipinos (lots of Filipinos work in the area); curses involving your mother; 1970’s music broadcast in the wee hours (nothing odder than hearing The Carpenters 50 miles off the coast of Iran at 4 a.m.)
On Ch. 16, esp. in that section of the Gulf, slurs/threats/chatter/etc. is commonplace. So my first thought was that the “explode” comment might not have even come from one of the Iranian craft, but some loser monitoring the events at a shore facility.
The timing here is very ironic, and not because it matches up with the President's trip to the Middle East (hey guess what, he can snap his fingers and deliver a Palestinian state! Presidentin' is easy!). This comes in a week when newly released reports from the NSA reveal that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was definitively a hoax.
The author of the report "demonstrates that not only is it not true, as (then US) secretary of defense Robert McNamara told Congress, that the evidence of an attack was 'unimpeachable,' but that to the contrary, a review of the classified signals intelligence proves that 'no attack happened that night,'" FAS said in a statement.
"What this study demonstrated is that the available intelligence shows that there was no attack. It's a dramatic reversal of the historical record," Aftergood said.
"There were previous indications of this but this is the first time we have seen the complete study," he said.
I don't think this Straits of Hormuz incident is going to have the same impact as the Gulf of Tonkin, except in maybe making "I'm coming at you" the "Don't tase me bro" catchphrase of 2008. But it's clear that both incidents share the desire to generate propaganda for the purposes of serving foreign policy goals. In 1964 they pulled it off. In 2008, with little credibility for this government, they had to show their work. And it's about the level of a junior high school crank call.