Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Does AP Overstate Iranian Sub Case?

The AP is reporting that the Iranians are building a new submarine that has missile and torpedo capabilities. This definitely sounds ominous, considering that the Iranians are working towards developing their own nuclear weapons program (they're at the step where they may have sufficient enriched uranium to make several weapons within months).

However, a closer examination of the story, indeed from the Tehran Times itself, shows that the AP story overstates the capabilities.

A closer reading of the Newsday article would not find the following statement made in the Tehran Times article:
Iran has started to manufacture midget submarines that can land troops and fire rockets, state media reported on Tuesday.
That's right - midget submarines that could land troops and fire rockets. Scary stuff. Not entirely. The subs would only work in littoral waters, not in open water, and their size would indicate that their primary use would be terrorist missions or covert operations.

Once again, local papers cite wire stories without any regard for fact checking or doing any legwork necessary to confirm stories. I can understand that there is significant pressure to get stories run, but blindly running stories on military issues seems to be a habit with the AP. Few, if any, people in the newsroom appear to know anything about military issues, weapons, capabilities, or strategic issues. So, that ignorance and lack of knowledge translates to the stories run by papers.

And the general public wouldn't know any better because most people use the news as their primary source of information.

Here's a memo to the AP. Hire more fact checkers to make sure that the stories run are accurate, and not assertions without basis in fact. Local papers should demand better accountability from the wire reports. Their credibility demands it.

Hat Tip: Bubblehead

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