News Release

Iran Attack? * Pretext for War * Impeaching Bolton

The U.S. and Iranian governments are giving contradictory accounts surrounding the downing of a large U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz. A major issue revolves around whether the downed drone was in international waters; see below. The Trump administration is meeting this afternoon with members of Congress, some of whom have argued that the administration already has authorization to attack Iran.

See accuracy.org news release from last week: “Persian Gulf of Tonkin?” — a reference to the U.S. government deceiving its way to the massive escalation of the Vietnam War in 1964. Also last week, the New York Times reported: “One of the tankers that were attacked in the Gulf of Oman was struck by a flying object, the ship’s Japanese operator said on Friday, disputing at least part of the account of United States officials who had blamed Iran for the attack.”

While many pointed out Bush administration falsehoods after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, accuracy.org produced some of the most hard-hitting scrutiny prior to the invasion, including: “U.S. Credibility Problems” and “White House Claims: A Pattern of Deceit.” See from 2013: “Legacy of Iraq War Myths Ten Years Later.” Also. see accuracy.org news release from last month: “Postol: Newly Revealed Documents Show Syrian Chemical ‘Attacks Were Staged‘” regarding the pretext for U.S. attacks on Syria in April of 2018.

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Professor of international law at the University of Illinois, Boyle’s books include Destroying World Order. He said today: “Iran has not committed an ‘armed attack’ upon the United States that would trigger the right of self-defense set forth in UN Charter Article 51. So under the current circumstances as they stand now, a U.S. military attack upon Iran would constitute a violation of international and domestic law. The 2001 AUMF most certainly does not authorize force in this case as some have claimed.

“Given the manner in which National Security Advisor John Bolton is pressing for war, a member of the House should put in a Bill of Impeachment against him immediately. It may be the best way to avoid a catastrophic war.” Boyle was a lead author of the bill of impeachment put forward by Rep. Henry Gonzalez in 1991 against George H.W. Bush, who later wrote that fear of impeachment prevented him from a full invasion of Iraq.

Regarding the Strait of Hormuz, Boyle said: “This is not an international strait or waterway as defined by the International Court of Justice in the Corfu Channel Case. So U.S. warships and planes and drones need the permission of the territorial sovereign (Oman or Iran) to pass through there including their respective airspaces.” See below for more details.

TRITA PARSI, tparsi at gmail.com, @tparsi
Parsi founded the National Iranian American Council. He just wrote the piece “America’s Confrontation With Iran Goes Deeper Than Trump.” He was on NPR’s “Morning Edition” earlier today.

He tweeted today: “First the U.S. denied that a drone had been shot down. Now it admits that a drone has been shot down, but that it was in international airspace, not Iranian airspace. It is still not established which version is true. Both sides have a history of being untruthful. For instance:

“When the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian passenger plane in 1988, the U.S. first denied they had shot it down. It also denied that the ship had been in Iranian waters. A later investigation revealed the Vincennes actually was deep in Iranian waters when it shot down the plane.

“When the Iranians apprehended British sailors about ten years ago in the Persian Gulf, the UK first denied they had entered Iranian waters. A later investigation by the British Parliament revealed they actually were inside of Iranian waters. They were released within two weeks.”

Regarding the U.S. claim that the drone was in international waters, the U.S. Energy Information Administration states that: “At its narrowest point, the Strait [of Hormuz] is 21 miles wide.” Countries are entitled to a belt of coastal waters extending 12 nautical miles.

United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea maybe relevant, except for the fact that UNCLOSdebate.org notes: “Iran signed the 1982 Convention in [the] same year, but it has not ratified it, primarily due to their opposition to the ‘innocent passage’ provisions of UNCLOS that allow U.S. warships freedom of navigation.” Will Rogers, writing for the Center for a New American Security, has advocated the U.S. ratify the treaty — as a way to gain leverage over Iran: “Ratification will also help the United States deflate Iran’s recent challenges to U.S. freedom of navigation through the Strait of Hormuz.”