Ben Norton, a journalist with The Grayzone and co-host of the Moderate Rebels podcast, joined Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear via phone from Managua, Nicaragua, on Wednesday to discuss the Pentagon’s latest report of a 16-person increase in casualties and provide his argument on why the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) January 8 strike was a prime showing of deterrence by Tehran.
"Of these 50, 31 total service members were treated in Iraq and returned to duty, including 15 of the additional service members who have been diagnosed since the previous report; 18 service members have been transported to Germany for further evaluation and treatment," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell said in the Tuesday statement.
“It’s yet another example of the US government simply lying to us. We now know that the US government knew that there were injuries. It’s not like these injuries happened after the fact - [Washington] simply lied,” Norton told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou.
Indeed, Campbell noted that “this is a snapshot in time, and numbers can change.”
Norton went on to assert that this is just one layer of a series of lies surrounding the fallout following the US assassination of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani via drone strike on January 3.
“The largest lie is that [US Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo and [US President Donald] Trump both claim Soleimani was planning so-called ‘imminent attacks’ on what they said is either US persons or interests,” Norton pointed out, adding that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper even acknowledged there was no evidence of such threats.
Mark Esper on CBS: I didn't see the intelligence about Iran posing an imminent threat to 4 US embassies, but I believe President Trump when he says there was one pic.twitter.com/pAaMVXGAde— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 12, 2020
Despite his assertion of an imminent attack, Pompeo clarified to Fox News on January 8 that the US didn’t know “precisely when” or “precisely where” the strikes would take place. Speaking at Stanford’s Hoover Institute on January 13, the secretary of state then asserted that the killing of Soleimani was part of “bigger strategy” to re-establish “deterrents … against the Islamic Republic.”
Norton contended that the emerging details pertaining to the US casualties are evidence that “Iran effectively established a deterrence and that Iran is not a power that can simply be pushed around … Everyone in the world should be happy this didn’t escalate even further into a conventional military war between the US and Iran.”
Both Democratic and Republican members of Congress have also expressed skepticism of the Trump administration’s reasoning for killing the top Iranian general. US House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) announced Tuesday that Pompeo had agreed to testify before a panel concerning “Iran, Iraq, war powers and related topics.”
“It’s clear to me that the Trump administration was frightened because of this response,” Norton asserted, speaking of the January 8 strikes by the IRGC. “This is an election year, and the Trump administration is on record saying that the thing they fear above all is televised images of US troops coming home in coffins. And in an election year, that could really hurt Trump’s reelection efforts.”
Not to mention that Trump attempted to downplay the brain injuries sustained by troops last week while in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum.
“I heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things, but I would say and I can report it is not very serious,” he said, reported The Guardian. At the time, the Pentagon had reported that 11 service members were flown to hospitals in both Germany and Kuwait for treatment.
“I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries I have seen. I’ve seen people with no legs and no arms,” the US president added.
Norton argued that Tehran’s accidental downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 is also attributable to the Trump administration, because the incident “would never have happened were it not for the US launching this criminal act of war against a sovereign foreign nation.”