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(guest post by Taylor Marsh)

If you haven’t been following this story, welcome to the latest Iranian intrigue misinformation push meant to move us closer to a strike against Iran. That’s my assessment so far, with more questions popping up and few answers, the further into it I look. So, let’s unwind it (but make sure you read the update).

After reading about it early last Friday, I spoke with Aaron Breitbart, a senior researcher of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who was eager to confirm it, using words like "throwback" to the Nazi era, "very true" and "very scary," as well as offering that the dean and founder of the Center, Rabbi Marvin Hier, had been on the phone for "four hours" confirming the story. As someone said to me today, it makes you wonder what the Rabbi was doing on the phone for 4 hours. After all, how long does it take to confirm something so incredibly frightening?

Reporting that the Simon Weisenthal Center confirmed Taheri’s story made it around the web and beyond, as did subsequent posts and follow ups, in which you will find all the details.  Because when an organization like that confirms something as alarming as the Iranian government passing a law to identify Jews and non-Muslims, it rightly causes four alarm Holocaust revisited hysteria. That was the intention.

After the story was thoroughly debunked, I put in another call to Breitbart late on Friday, then called back again today. I wanted to get a comment from him about the discrediting of the story and see if I could ascertain why the Simon Wiesenthal Center would unabashedly back such an outrageous falsehood. He still hasn’t answered his phone or returned my calls. I was eventually transferred to Avra Shapiro, Director of Public Relations, who said someone would get back to me. They have not.

A conversation earlier today inspired me to look closer at the facsimile, including the multiple times and dates. There is not only a cc to Ms. Shapiro, but also a Michele Alkin, the Director of Communications for the Simon Wiesenthal Center. I’ve forwarded the fax to someone I hope can take it further. We shall see. The names at the top are above the main text, which looks like it has been cut off and was originally sent to the Rabbi Marvin Hier. This is what appears next.

Subject: Taheri on Iran

Rabbi Cooper,

As per our conversation, I’m looking at running this but I have not been able to confirm its veracity. Particularly, I want to make sure that the part saying Jews will have to wear a yellow stripe and Christians a red stripe is in fact true. Now the law has not yet come into effect, but it is moving closer to becoming law and I think we need to draw attention and much of it to this right now.

Any assistance you can give us in confirming this info would be much appreciated.

Best,

jte

The initials refer to John Turley-Ewert of the National Post, which used to be owned by Conrad Black, but is now controlled by two brothers of the Asper family that I’ve been told are actively involved with Israel’s Likud party. The National Post has an editorial policy similar to Brit Hume’s at Fox "News." They are interchangeable and far leaning to the right. But the above section I emphasized seems to show that not only is Turley-Ewert asking for confirmation of the Iranian badge story, but a sort of collaboration on promoting the story. Someone I spoke to today confirmed that was indeed their assessment, too.

But who got the Simon Wiesenthal Center to stick their necks out on this bogus Iranian badge story, risking their very reputation and funding credibility, and who had what to gain by doing so?

Could this story have something to do with Douglas Feith’s Office of Strategic Influence PSYOPS plan to plant false stories in foreign press? Sure, that was supposed to be shut down, but was it? After all, Canada is foreign press and once a story gets printed it’s all stops out for spreading the propaganda.

”Our inability to seize the initiative in the ‘War of Ideas’ with Al Qaeda is perhaps our most significant shortcoming so far in the war against terrorism,” said the document, dated Sept. 17, 2003. ”We do not fully understand Al Qaeda and its relationship to supportive communities in the Islamic world, and so are not yet able to develop an effective strategy for countering its propaganda in those communities, let alone for winning the information campaign in the war against terrorism.”

The document said one goal was to establish a ”road map for creating an effective D.O.D. capability to design and conduct effective strategic influence and operational and tactical perception-management campaigns.”

Pentagon and Bogus News: All Is Denied (Times Select, dated 12.5.03)

In the aftermath of the Iraq war, it’s important to find out the facts regarding the obvious drumbeat for a strike against Iran, especially since we know the lengths to which President Bush and his administration will go to make their case. Asking important questions is a good place to start.

UPDATE: Amir Taheri, author of the now discredited article, has been pressured to issue a press release. 

Regarding the dress code story it seems that my column was used as the basis for a number of reports that somehow jumped the gun. As far as my article is concerned I stand by it. The law has been passed by the Islamic Majlis and will now be submitted to the Council of Guardians. A committee has been appointed to work out the modalities of implementation. … …

PRESS RELEASE: AMIR TAHERI ADDRESSES QUERIES ABOUT DRESS CODE STORY