June 18, 2007

Burning the Smoking Gun: Steyr Responds

Last week I published Burning the Smoking Gun, which rebuffed/debunked a claim made by Thomas Harding in a February 12, 2007 U.K. Daily Telegraph article, which made the claim that "more than 100" HS50 .50-caliber long-range precision sniper rifles purchased by the Iranian government from the Austrian company Steyr-Mannlicher were captured in Iraq by U.S. forces.

I confirmed via U.S. Army LTC Christopher C. Garver, Director of the Combined Press Information Center for Multinational Corps-Iraq that no such rifles had ever been documented as being recovered by American forces.

30 minutes ago, Reinhild Wohltan, acting on behalf of Dr. Viktor Bauer PR GmbH, sent along a press release regarding my story. Below is the press release, as copied into a GIF format from the original PDF:


Steyr-Mannlicher once again denies the rumor published as fact in the Daily Telegraph article, and notes that were these rifles to be used for anthing other than "legitimate and important law enforcement purposes," that Steyr's agreement with the Iranian government would be breached, and intones that if the Iranian-purchased HS50 rifles were captured for "non-legitimate use"--i.e., sniping at Coalition forces within Iraq--that they would "offer support to clarify matters," which I would interpret to mean as offer to compare the serial numbers of any rifles recovered to serial numbers of those purchased by Iran.

The Daily Telegraph has not updated their original article to note that their charges are unsupported, and there is no intention that they will.

SO much for those multiple layers of fact checkers and professional media accountability.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at June 18, 2007 11:29 AM

I'm more impressed that you followed through on your initial willingness to get pissed off, but despite your "outrage" you still followed through on the story to make sure that the story was correct.

Yes the vast majority of blogs do depend on other "legitimate" sources for content, but it is rare that those "legitimate" sources themselves are willing to follow up on a story in the same way that you did initialy, and have continued to do so since.

YAY Bloggers who actually pay attention.

Posted by: Wickedpinto at June 18, 2007 07:37 PM

I've taken my hat off before and I'll do it again.

Posted by: Rafar at June 19, 2007 04:12 AM

This is Win-Win. If the weapons did make it to Iraq, we have our smoking gun. If they have not, Iran now knows that the manufacturer will work with the coalition if they are considering sending the weapons South.

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at June 19, 2007 07:48 AM

I find it hard to believe a press release that claims the 50BMG round is an original Steyr cartridge they have been making rifles for since 1904, that only later began to be used i heavy machineguns.

Posted by: GeorgeH at June 23, 2007 11:45 AM