A word of caution about Seymour Hersh's latest

By now, you may have already read Seymour Hersh's latest magnum opus, this time about the Bush administration's alleged "support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations" in order to stir up trouble for Iran. Hersh later explains that one such organization is Jundallah, a Sunni fundamentalist group in Baluchistan near the Pakistan border. "According to [former CIA case officer Robert] Baer and to press reports, the Jundallah is among the groups in Iran that are benefitting from U.S. support," Hersh writes.

One of those press reports is probably this blog post from The Blotter, the ABC News blog that got in such trouble for employing Alexis Debat, a French counterterrorism analyst who misrepresented his resume and faked interviews with Barack Obama and several other public figures. ABC News insists that its reporting was solid, but as journalist Laura Rozen found, that's at least open to question. Pakistan, for one, sharply denied the ABC News story about Jundallah. I'm not sure what other reporting Hersh is citing, but let's just say that it's far from certain the United States is doing what he claims.

UPDATE: Rozen comments at length. She's skeptical, too.


Africa punts on Mugabe


Anyone looking for African leaders to give Robert Mugabe a dressing-down at the African Union summit today in Egypt is bound to be disappointed. According to the Washington Post, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak didn't even mention Zimbabwe in his opening remarks, and more attention has so far been paid to an arcane dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea.

The Post's Ellen Knickmeyer, I think, gets it right when she attributes the silence to the fact that a lot of the other folks in the room have also stolen power and maintained it by force. I mean, what could they say? Steal the election more artfully? Mugabe pretty much said the same last week at a campaign rally: "I want to see that finger pointed at me and I will check if that finger is clean or dirty." I wonder, though, if the tone would be different were the summit held in a democratic African country, as opposed to Mubarak's Egypt. Nobody wants to insult the host.