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Friday, June 17, 2005

Iran's Judith Miller -- or Laurie Mylroie?

Usually, when "The Daily Show" has a right-wing guest, Jon Stewart tips off his audience and tries to have some fun with the fact that the guest's views diverge from his. Last night, Stewart seemed to think that his show's visitor, Kenneth R. Timmerman, was a like-minded critic of the Bush administration -- annoyed that US foreign policymakers had attacked the wrong Middle Eastern country in 2003. Stewart, earlier this year said something that he nearly repeated last night:
"George W. Bush is not stupid. He invaded Iraq. They didn't have weapons of mass destruction or ties to Al Quaeda ... but Iran does. So he was only one letter off and that should be credited,"
Timmerman has just authored a new book Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran, which was based on his access to "Iranian defectors and officials, and high-level sources in the U.S. government."

By the end of Timmerman's appearance on "The Daily Show," he was informing host Stewart of the evidence he had gathered from Iranian dissidents about the clear threat from Iran -- primarily nuclear proliferation and terror sponsorship. OK.

But Stewart became really polite and said "Goodnight" to his audience just after Timmerman revealed that Osama bin Laden had secretly plotted to take down the Twin Towers on 9/11 with the Iranian government. Timmerman claimed this was largely what the 9/11 Commission had found.

What? Why didn't Stewart call him on that? While the Commission found that some of the so-called Saudi "muscle" hijackers may have gone through Iran, this was because Iran didn't as a rule stamp passports of Saudi nationals traveling through to or from Afghanistan (p. 241):
"We have found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 terror attack. At the time of their travel through Iran, the al Qaeda operatives themselves were probably not aware of the specific details of their future operation."
Did Stewart's staff drop the ball?

I've spent the past half day trying to figure out if Timmerman is the Judith Miller or Laurie Mylroie of Iran. Is he a journalist duped by defectors, or a wacko pushing his unsupported conspiracy theories on major media?

Timmerman's right-wing credentials are clear and I'm leaning to the parallel to Mylroie.

He writes frequently for The American Spectator, The National Review Online, the Washington Times, the New York Post, Human Events, Insight, etc.

Timmerman appears regularly on Fox News and MSNBC's Scarborough show.

His past writings have attacked the French betrayal of the US, John Kerry's plans to abandon the war on terror, Jesse Jackson, the media's biased coverage of the post-war search for WMD in Iraq, etc. He defends Ahmed Chalabi.

The book's publisher, Crown Forum, also puts out work by Ann Coulter and "the writers at" (which is Fox News).

With neoconservatives Peter Rodman and Joshua Muravchik, Timmerman founded the Foundation for Democracy in Iran. Since its founding in 1995, the author has served as FDI's Executive Director.

Hmmmm. Maybe Timmerman is trying to be more like Michael Ledeen?

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