Our Secret Channel to Iran: The Front Page of the New York Times?


Color me unsubtle, but I’m baffled by this:

The Obama administration is relying on a secret channel of communication to warn Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that closing the Strait of Hormuzis a “red line” that would provoke an American response, according to United States government officials.

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said this past weekend that the United States would “take action and reopen the strait,” which could be accomplished only by military means, including minesweepers, warship escorts and potentially airstrikes. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told troops in Texas on Thursday that the United States would not tolerate Iran’s closing of the strait.

The officials declined to describe the unusual contact between the two governments, and whether there had been an Iranian reply. Senior Obama administration officials have said publicly that Iran would cross a “red line” if it made good on recent threats to close the strait, a strategically crucial waterway connecting the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, where 16 million barrels of oil — about a fifth of the world’s daily oil trade — flow through every day.

Now, how is this a secret if it’s on the front page of the New York Times? 

American officials indicated that the recent and delicate messages expressing concern about the Strait of Hormuz were conveyed through a channel other than the Swiss government, which the United States has often used as a neutral party to relay diplomatic messages to Tehran.

Are you with me in concluding that the channel sounds like the New York Times itself? And that the message really isn’t that delicate?

Note to US officials: Ricochet is also available to mediate at a moment’s notice, in complete secrecy–for the price of a grande latte at Starbucks. Your confidentiality assured. 

There are 12 comments.

  1. David Williamson Inactive

    I think “Obama” in Farsi can be loosely translated as “water-carrier”, so this is clearly the secret line of communication, via the 12th Imam, who resides in a well.

    But why would US officials pay for a grande latte, when they can get it for free?

    • #1
    • January 13, 2012, at 4:52 AM PDT
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  2. Percival Thatcher

    C’mon, David. If they don’t pay, they can’t see the Evil Cabal hiding behind the tab labelled “Member Feed.”

    It’s a good thing our security is so tight.

    • #2
    • January 13, 2012, at 5:57 AM PDT
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  3. Sisyphus Member

    I knew the readership was way down at the Fay Lady, but operating as a secret channel to our enemies? To paraphrase Fezzik, I do not think that word means what they think it means.

    • #3
    • January 13, 2012, at 6:07 AM PDT
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  4. ParisParamus Member

    Obama’s secret election win strategy is war with Iran.

    • #4
    • January 13, 2012, at 6:11 AM PDT
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  5. Percival Thatcher
    ParisParamus: Obama’s secret election win strategy is war with Iran. · Jan 13 at 5:11am

    If it was secret PP, he’d be more blatant about it.

    Man, are these guys subtle. Wheels within wheels.

    • #5
    • January 13, 2012, at 6:15 AM PDT
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  6. raycon and lindacon Inactive

    The Obama administration might be making threats, secret or out loud, but will the O HRH follow up on those threats when the day comes?

    • #6
    • January 13, 2012, at 6:27 AM PDT
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  7. Valiuth Member

    Is there a reason we would wish to be subtle about this threat to reopen the straights? I would think being public and forceful would more likely guarantee that they understood us to be serious.

    • #7
    • January 13, 2012, at 7:30 AM PDT
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  8. raycon and lindacon Inactive
    Valiuth: Is there a reason we would wish to be subtle about this threat to reopen the straights? I would think being public and forceful would more likely guarantee that they understood us to be serious. · Jan 13 at 6:30am

    Very often, in the “diplomatic” world, an open threat is taken as verbiage for home consumption, and not seriously. It is the hidden threat that is taken seriously.

    Question… Has the NYT therefore neutered any hidden threats we might have actually intended to be serious?

    • #8
    • January 13, 2012, at 7:38 AM PDT
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  9. Sister Inactive

    Claire, I don’t know whether to break out laughing or crying when I read something like this. (I wrote a tiny booklet for my students about not calling people names, especially “stupid,” but really I find it so hard to follow my own advice.)

    • #9
    • January 13, 2012, at 9:24 AM PDT
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  10. dittoheadadt Inactive

    No one – NO ONE – has better posts and quotes than Claire.

    • #10
    • January 13, 2012, at 11:33 AM PDT
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  11. Valiuth Member

    Good point Raycon…so then why is the NYT reporting this in such a manner. I mean if it is known that the speaking clearly, forcefully, and public is for home consumption, are we to assume the administration does not wish to make it clear to the American people that we will keep the straights open? Is the Administration just hoping that we won’t notice the confrontation is happening? I would expect that we would and should do both. I think the Obama administration just does not want to sound Hawkish or it will upset the pacifistic side of his base then…

    • #11
    • January 14, 2012, at 12:13 PM PDT
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  12. Translucent Inactive

    I see three possible scenarios:

    1) Someone at the New York times just made it up off of a bits of non-classified information laying around about the US and the straits of Hormuz.

    2) The Obama administration told them as you alluded to.

    3) The New York Times has a mole in the Obama Administration.

    My most serious concern is if 3) is correct(although 2 further demonstrates the incompetence of this administration). The New York Time constantly releases classified information about the US from its informants(aka Traitors who need to be found for national security reasons and tried for treason.) within various places within our government.

    • #12
    • January 15, 2012, at 6:19 AM PDT
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