October 15, 2009

The Michael Ledeen Rumor Mill

The perennially incorrect Michael Ledeen has once again reported that Supreme Leader Khamenei is in a coma and on the verge of death. His most recent blog post is a rehash of his 2006 and 2007 reports. In a post that reads like a poorly-conceived screenplay, Ledeen claims that he has a very good source in Iran that has given him this information.
Ledeen’s continual reports that Ayatollah Khamenei is dead are starting to make him sound as though he is participating in a one-man version of Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch. Michael Ledeen: “Khamenei is dead; he is deceased; he is no more; he is bereft of life; he has shuffled off this mortal coil; he’s run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible; he is an ex-Khamenei.”
Ledeen has a long history of incorrect and false reporting. The Guardian points out that he was involved in spreading the incorrect report that Saddam Hussein attempted to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger. On the subject of Khamenei’s health, Robert Tait, the Guardian’s Tehran correspondent, said that:

Discussions about Khamenei’s health problems are legion. He has prostate cancer; he has lung cancer; he is an opium addict; he has lymphatic cancer; he has a mouth full of false teeth since a bomb attack 28 years ago that also cost him the use of an arm; doctors have given him at most two years to live. I don’t know how much, if any, of this is true. The fact that it’s going around at all is a measure of the hysteria surrounding the Iranian political scene.

Below is an abbreviated version of what Ledeen claims his source told him:

Here is what he/she says:
“Yesterday afternoon at 2.15PM local time, Khamenei collapsed and was taken to his special clinic. Nobody – except his son and the doctors – has since been allowed to get near him. His official, but secret, status is: “in the hands of the gods”…His condition had already seriously deteriorated over the last months, aggravated by his nervous condition due to [1] his inability to solve the problems created by his manipulation of the election results and the refusal of [a large part of] the population to accept this, plus [2] his loss of religious authority by means of the repeated condemnations of events by senior clerics…If he dies it is expected that immediately a bloody clash will develop between the powers behind Rafsanjani, who will immediately claim temporary religious authority and overall control, and the powers behind Achmadinejad who will scramble in order to regain control and ensure their survival.”

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