Error-ridden article about bill causes embarrassment
The Obama administration and its allies attempted to scuttle a new Iran sanctions measure late Wednesday night with a coordinated mix of leaks and statements just hours before the bill was to be filed by a bipartisan team of senators.
Democratic sources opposed to the new sanctions measure leaked the text of the resolution to a controversial freelance writer and former Center for American Progress (CAP) blogger who is known for his sympathetic views on Iran and hostility to pro-Israel organizations.
The leak coincided with an anti-sanctions op-ed in Politico penned by top Democratic Sens. Carl Levin (Mich.) and Barbara Boxer (Calif.).
Congressional insiders say that the targeted leak to a partisan writer was a clear attempt to scare centrist Democrats and undermine support for the bill.
“This was obviously a desperate last-ditch attempt by a small group of left-wing nut-jobs to try to undermine Democratic support for a bipartisan Iran bill,” said one senior Senate aide familiar with the legislation.
“Fortunately, the editors at Foreign Policy realized one of those nut-jobs had taken advantage of their brand to spread disinformation and I think the opposition’s credibility just went down the tube.”
The campaign stumbled when the article about the leaked bill was lampooned for numerous errors and Pravda-like tone.
“Exclusive: Top Senate Democrats Break with White House and Circulate New Iran Sanctions Bill,” read the headline of an article posted Wednesday evening on Foreign Policy magazine’s the Cable blog.
The piece was penned by freelance writer Ali Gharib, a former blogger for the CAP Action Fund’s ThinkProgress blog. Gharib was forced to leave the organization in 2011 after being implicated with other writers in a series of posts that were deemed by many to be borderline anti-Semitic.
Gharib’s Foreign Policy piece purported to provide inside details on the new sanctions bill, which was being circulated on Capitol Hill just days after Democrats in Congress killed a similar measure aimed at ratcheting up the economic pressure on Tehran.
The multiple factual inaccuracies in Gharib’s article forced Foreign Policy to issue a substantial correction just hours after the piece was published.
In addition to misstating the official name of a modified Iran sanctions bill set to be introduced by a bipartisan group of senators on Thursday, Gharib overstated the bill’s impact on multiple fronts.
It was the second time in recent weeks that Foreign Policy was forced to correct a breaking article related to the issue of Iran.
“Correction: An earlier version of this story contained several factual errors,” read a statement appended to the bottom of the piece less than two-hours after it ran.
“It misstated the name of legislation that could introduce additional sanctions against Iran,” the correction reads.
“Additionally, the bill does not authorize military force against Iran and mirrors non-binding legislation approved by the Senate earlier this year,” the correction continues. “The bill would not attach any amendments to a pending Pentagon budget bill.
“Finally, [former Obama administration official]Colin Kahl left the Pentagon in December of 2011, not last year,” the correction states.
Read more at the Washington Free Beacon.
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