Their first effort to provide proof of Irainian support for Iraqi insurgents, the infamous Baghdad Briefing, fell flat on its face when even Secretary of Defense Bob Gates and then Joint Chiefs Chairman General Pace had to admit that the "evidence" presented was incredibly weak and it proved nothing. Since that first failed briefing, various promised "smoking gun" briefings have been announced, postponed and then cancelled. Even the previously gullible mainstream press had to notice that there was a lot more smoke than fire.
The data collected by the task force - known as Task Force Troy - shows that relatively few of the weapons found in Shi'a militia caches were manufactured in Iran.
Gareth Porter writes for IPSNews:
According to the data compiled by the task force, and made available to an academic research project last July, only 70 weapons believed to have been manufactured in Iran had been found in post-invasion weapons caches between mid-February and the second week in April. And those weapons represented only 17 percent of the weapons found in caches that had any Iranian weapons in them during that period.
The actual proportion of Iranian-made weapons to total weapons found, however, was significantly lower than that, because the task force was finding many more weapons caches in Shi'a areas that did not have any Iranian weapons in them.
The task force database identified 98 caches over the five-month period with at least one Iranian weapon, excluding caches believed to have been hidden prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion. But according to an e-mail from the MNFI press desk this week, the task force found and analysed a total of roughly 4,600 weapons caches during that same period.
The caches that included Iranian weapons thus represented just 2 percent of all caches found. That means Iranian-made weapons were a fraction of one percent of the total weapons found in Shi'a militia caches during that period. The extremely small proportion of Iranian arms in Shi'a militia weapons caches further suggests that Shi'a militia fighters in Iraq had been getting weapons from local and international arms markets rather than from an official Iranian-sponsored smuggling network.
John Amato of Crooks & Liars points out:
Left out of the list of Iranian-made weaponry were 350 armour-piercing explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) found in Iraqi weapons caches. Despite the lurid claims of US officials, the task group couldn't ascribe an Iranian origin to a single one. Which along with press reports about finding EFP manufactories inside Iraq explains why, since mid-Summer, we've heard nothing about Iranian-made EFPs whereas before official reports and statements were full of them.Joseph Felter and Brian Fishman of the West Point military academy revealed this data in an academic research paper published last month by West Point's Counter-Terrorism Centre.
In the paper Felter and Fishman criticised official U.S. statements on Iranian weapons in Iraq.
"Some reports erroneously attribute munitions similar to those produced in Iran as Iranian, while other Iranian munitions found in Iraq were likely purchased on the open market."The co-authors note that Iranian arms can be purchased directly from the website of the Defence Industries of Iran with a credit card. Given how easy it is to purchase weapons, and a long, shared, porous border where there is a vast history of smuggling, the percentage of Iranian made arms is actually very low.
But there are clear reasons Iran isn't doing so well in the Iraqi arms market. Iranian equipment is less reliable and more expensive than Eastern Block materiel that flooded the region after the 2003 invasion -something which a certain imprisoned international arms dealer, ex-CIA and ex-US military contractor and supplier to despots and terrorists, Viktor Bout, may well know a fair bit about.
It's been a buyer's market and the Iranians are seeing market forces exclude their produce, with the exception of simple artillery rockets. They're more expensive than the Pakistani arms bazaar's copies coming down the old Silk Road routes and far less effective than easily available and comparitively-priced black market US weapons too.
It is often forgotten or ignored that over 190,000 US-provided guns found their way onto the black market in Iraq, simply disappearing from inventory after lax US and Iraqi accounting. Some US weapons have even found their way to Turkey, into the hands of PKK terrorists.
And to this day, no-one has held General Petreaus accountable for those 190,000 guns - worth over $50 million or about twice that on the street - that he says were "kicked out of helicopters" or misplaced by clerical errors on his watch, despite one of his closest aides pleading guilty to corruption and bribery charges in relation to procurement contracts by a company involved in illegal arms dealing of US-provided weapons.
In his hero status Petreaus has never been asked what he knew and when he knew it about the loss of arms. He's never been subjected to a formal enquiry on the matter. And a GAO investigation begun back in August last year seems to have gone very silent.
So now we have a deafening silence - both on earlier accusations of Iranian arms running and meddling, which will just be allowed to sit their in the public mind, and on the very real high-level incompetence and corruption which led to so many US-provided weapons being lost without trace. That's just part of the Bush administration's gag order on the largest war profiteering adventure in history.
Add yet another couple of items to the very long list of hard questions the Obama administration should be asking about its predecessor and its doings.
Gareth Porter discussed the false narrative of Iranian weapons in Iraq with AntiWar.Com back in May, watch it here: