A letter to BBC Persian

I have known BBC Persian program for more than 40 years, BBC was the only source of information that my father used to listen to since the days of the World War II. So I grew up listening to your radio program, with respect and reliance on impartiality and independence. Last night (sept. 3rd, at around 11 pm PDT) I was nervously searching different news sources to see which one will start the week of campaign for the war against Iran, as described by Barnett Rubin, New York University. He has written an account of a conversation with a friend who has connections to someone at a neoconservative institution in Washington that goes like this:

They [the source’s institution] have “instructions” (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don’t think they’ll ever get majority support for this—they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is “plenty.”

Suddenly a headline appeared on the first page of BBC-Persian, ‘Iran sends chinese weapons to Taliban’. Here it was, BBC leading the march it is almost the day after the Labor day weekend. The story had no name of author, reporter, etc. did not cite a single source, not even one. throughout the story one can not find name of one person, nobody period, not even the reporter’s name. It started with speculations and citation of things that can be possible, such as finding of chinese weapons with altered labels and fabrication serial numbers. Then it reports on private notices given to chinese by Brits, but yet no source. Report then rejects the possibility of these weapons be distributed by Chinese themselves. It did not even try to explore the possibility of Pakistani intelligence being involved by saying that considering them fighting extremists in Pakistan it does not make sense to be providing weapons to Taliban. Not mentioning that Taliban was created and supported by Pakistan and Afghan government had repeatedly maintained this claim more than anyone else. Yet the only picture that goes with this story has a caption that says “borders between Pakistan and Afghanistan are the regions were chinese weapons are being sold”. 3/4 in the article, it says “some observers believe that it might be Iran, because both are enemies of US’. No name is given as who these observers are, just a plural reference to observers qualifies this speculation to become the headline of BBC-Persian page. The fact that Talibans were behind the attack on Iranian consulate in Afghanistan and killing or abdoction of Iranian staff, or Iranian clear support of the Northern alliance during the war, and numerous declaration by president Karzai, even recently in Washington DC to refrain from the American and British accusations did not play a role in your selection of the title and headline. I don’t see your name in the list by Barnett Rubin, I don’t know about your journalism in other languages but your Persian section sure deserves to claim the prize. BRAVO!! p.s. (9/5/07) I must report that I received a nice letter back from the Persian Service Online Editor, admitting the error and indicating that BBC has corrected the title of the article.  I appreciate their attention and action. http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/afghanistan/story/2007/09/070904_he-taliban-weapons.shtml

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