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September 28, 2009

Ahmadinejad: Lie To Me

Having watched a number of Ahmadinejad’s interviews with Western media, I’ve found him extraordinarily slick and virtually unflappable.

Most notable is how he handled Bush apologist Scott Pelley in a 60 Minutes segment before attending last year’s General Assembly session. Having that as a baseline is actually particularly helpful to appreciate the ambush Ahmadinejad ran into Friday when, at the outset of a live interview with TIME, he discovered he’d been busted hiding the existence of a nuclear development facility from the U.N., not to mention the rest of the world.

In studying Ahmadinejad’s face as the interview proceeds, all the eye shifting and and intermittent throat tightening is telling. But if you want to really appreciate (and enjoy) Ahmadinejad’s anxiety breaking through, just keep an eye on the action at the left corner of his mouth (or, the right side as we face him).

(TIME video. Article: Ahmadinejad Rejects Obama’s Nuclear Warning)

  • jtfromBC

    I don’t know if Glen Greenwald has checked out this video but he does one hell of a job evaluating the Corporate Press @
    A glossary of terms in foreign affairs
    As we debate the many scary enemies and exciting possibilities for new wars — escalation in Afghanistan, our very own “Cuban Missile Crisis” against the Persian Hitlers, the Socialist Menace in Venezuela — events can become very confusing. Compounding that problem are the many complex, technical terms often used in media discussions of foreign affairs. It’s therefore helpful to keep track of the relevant terms — ones just from the events of the last week alone — to maximize clarity as we debate our imperial responsibilities

  • Tena

    The side of his mouth and the blinking. At the first, when he was asked the first question, it set off a fireworks display of blinking clear through the following lies, and his mouth twitched the whole time.
    Excellent video.

  • jtfromBC

    Yes he was definitely caught off guard. He appeared tired and his affect throughout was rather flat. Because the interview was ending or for some other reason the last 15 seconds shows him rebounding with that mischievous impish grin.

  • Chris

    Beware politically motivated hype. Thank god we’ve still got people like Scott Ritter to help us .
    Iran did what is was supposed to do by declaring the facility to the IAEA, and yet the media are making it sound as if Iran was caught.
    Not again. Didn’t we go though all this with SH?

  • jtfromBC

    Most informed students or political experts know Ahmadinejad no more has the authority to make decisions re war or peace than the Senator from Israel Joe Lieberman or ‘bomb bomb Iran’ John McCain.

  • Ray Duray

    In studying the President’s face as the interview proceeds, all the eye shifting and and intermittent throat tightening is telling. But if you want to really appreciate (and enjoy) the President’s anxiety breaking through, just keep an eye on the action at the left corner of his mouth (or, the right side as we face him).

  • vcInCA

    so i watched the video a few times, and compared it w/ the 60 minutes video, but i just don’t see that discomfort at all. i think this video, like all media, will be ‘read’ in different ways, depending on the viewer’s perspective, but i also see two factors which make it problematic to compare this to the earlier video. they are two different types of conversation (freely talking w/ an interpreter going in the background for 60min vs. pausing every sentence or so for a translator to immediately do their job in the friday live interview), and two different topics (what traits Ahmadinejad likes in GWB is a very different topic than whatever q introduced his talking about what he would advise Obama to do in this situation, in the later interview). Both topic and conversational/interaction norms can and do affect how we use language, and it is reasonable to extend this to include non-verbal (conscious or unconscious) movements during such conversations. If this sort of ‘oh look, he’s moving his mouth on one side and blinking’ was such a foolproof way of ‘catching’ people in a lie or discomfort, it would be used in a court of law. I also think that the title of the video, which seems to appear whenever its not playing, is a very deceptive ‘paraphrasing’, because he isn’t saying ‘i deny this secret site’ he is saying that they have a schedule for informing the IAEA which they follow.
    I’m not trying to say he is or isn’t a saint–that’s not the point of this blog. I’m also curious if discussion here over iran, and him, is less because of the flaming some comments which were not unilaterally anti-ahmadinejad got here a few days ago when his speech (and the walkout) was discussed.

  • tdm

    I took the mouth-twitch as contempt more than anything…

  • jtfromBC

    Over at Informed Comment, Juan Cole puts the Iran situation in perspective, and his guest commentator Haggi Ram places the UN rant of Netanyahu into context -
    ‘Before, during and after the recent UN General Assembly meeting, the Israeli government, much like Sisyphus, who was condemned to repeat forever a meaningless task, once again stepped up its campaign against Iran’s nuclear program….

  • Gasho

    I don’t agree with the “Lie to Me” interpretation of this clip. Sure, he would have preferred to keep the facility a secret and now that’s been blown, but if the inspection guidelines can still be met and he lets the inspectors in to do their job and they don’t find evidence of weapons production, then they are playing by the rules. Why do they have so many centrifuges? I don’t know.. maybe they know more about peak oil than we do.
    If the inspectors aren’t allowed in after all, or if they find something, then we can re-evaluate.
    Despite the ticks and blinks I think he looks pretty cool (ie steady, not fonzie cool : ). I attribute those ticks to disappointment that his secret facility is now out of the bag — or no longer up his sleeve.

  • jtfromBC

    ‘Why do they have so many centrifuges?
    According to Scott Ritter on Democracy Now, a second plant is a common backup practise.

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  • Doodie

    A-Jad is always good for a laugh. But unfortunately now he’ll be forced to exterminate himself.

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