Iran is jumping on the drone news bandwagon today, with an expertly timed release that it claims is decrypted surveillance footage taken from a downed American drone. You may recall that in December 2011, the United States lost a unmanned, unarmed drone somewhere near the border between Iran and Afghanistan, and that the Iranian military said they found the plane and put it on display. (Iran claimed they shot it down, the Pentagon said it was simply lost.) For the last year or so, they've made claims about trying to reverse engineer it, or hack its computer systems, or possibly even sell it to China for spare parts (and intelligence.) Now, the Iranians says that they did crack the American system, and decrypted the camera footage it had shot before it went down.
No one has been able to confirm that claim, even after seeing the footage that was broadcast on Iranian state TV. There is reason to be skeptical, of course, since some experts have doubted all along that Iran ever had the U.S. drone in the first place. (The one they put on display in 2011 looked pretty fake, especially for an aircraft that was supposedly blown out of the sky.) The Pentagon admitted to losing a drone over Afghanistan, but never actually confirmed that Iran had possession and have not yet commented on this video.
True or not, with John Brennan's CIA confirmation hearing starting in a few hours and drones all over the front page of American newspapers, the timing of the this Iranian "scoop" couldn't be much better.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.