DiRita’s Non-Denial

This is the last paragraph of a story in today’s Washington Post about Cheney’s hawkish comments regarding Iran:

The Pentagon has denied a report in the Jan. 24 issue of New Yorker magazine that the United States is conducting secret reconnaissance missions in Iran to identify potential nuclear targets.


The Pentagon never made such a denial. Here is what actually happened: on Jan. 17, Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita released a statement about the New Yorker article, which was written by Seymour Hersh. The statement disputes Hersh on a few specifics — this meeting didn’t occur, this relationship doesn’t exist. But it does not specifically address the central claim that the U.S. is conducting secret missions in Iran. The DiRita statement does say, “Mr. Hersh’s preference for single, anonymous, unofficial sources for his most fantastic claims makes it difficult to parse his discussion of Defense Department operations.” But that is a lot different from saying that there are no secret U.S. military operations in Iran.