CNN Pundits Blame Iran For Attack On American Helicopter In Afghanistan

Posted with the permission of Think Progress

While the investigation continues into the deadly attack on a U.S. helicopter in Afghanistan which resulted in 38 U.S. and Afghan deaths, the lack of information has led some right-wing pundits to point the finger at Iran. Last night, CNN’s John King interviewed Frances Townsend, a former Homeland Security adviser to George W. Bush, and Brad Thor, a thriller novelist.

Thor quickly jumped to the conclusion that Iran was responsible for the attack, leading John King to interject that the site of the helicopter crash — just southwest of Kabul — was much closer to Pakistan than Iran. But that didn’t stop Townsend, taking cues from an aspiring Tom Clancy, to continue the baseless hypothesizing about Iranian involvement. Thor started off by pushing the conversation toward Iran:

THOR: The Afghan government is completely corrupt and it’s riddled with Iranian spies. […]

KING: I’m not discounting the importance of any Iranian relationship, but this to me, based on the history and people you talk to, is a Pakistan issue, not necessarily an Iran issue, right?

TOWNSEND: That’s right John, except to Brad’s point, look, we have seen an increasing amount of Iranian involvement and support in Afghanistan. And oh, by the way, they have been spoilers inserting themselves into Afghanistan and undermining U.S. efforts. You know, the Iranians don’t always come in the front door and oftentimes they work through proxies and they insert themselves to cause Americans and American forces difficulty around the world. We saw it in Iraq, and that makes sense to everybody since that’s a neighbor, but we see it in places like Afghanistan as well.

THOR: Fran’s analysis is always spot on. It’s why I enjoy watching her so much. I’d like to add that there’s word out that whatever took down the helicopter might be known as an IRAM, an improvised, rocket assisted, mortar. We first saw this with Shiite extremists in Iraq with Iranian fingerprints all over them. And that’s why I’m so concerned. They call these things in the military “flying IEDs.” We don’t have confirmation on what brought this helicopter down but that and the fact that the Iranians have so penetrated not only the Afghan government but a lot of the indigenous support at our forward operating bases and around the country of Afghanistan makes me wonder. You know, the Taliban, they’re good but man, I don’t think they’re that good. I really think this has the fingerprints of Iranian cooperation on it.

Watch it:

A Lexis Nexis search for “Iran AND Afghanistan AND helicopter” turns up no relevant news accounts of Iranian involvement in the attack. It would seem that Thor and Townsend are currently the only pundits to subscribe to the Iranian-bogeyman theory of how the U.S. suffered its single worst day of casualties in Afghanistan. (HT: and Bahman Kalbasi)

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Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.



  1. I dislike defending CNN, but neither Amanpour nor Bakhtiar were “dismissed” from there. They both quit. Getting the facts straight generally helps one’s argument.

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