by Stephen Lendman
Note: This articles carries addenda.
NYT’s attempts to set the record straight are duplicitous. They come too late to matter. On May 26, 2004, Times editors headlined “The Times and Iraq,” saying:
“Over the last year this newspaper has shone the bright light of hindsight on decisions that led the United States into Iraq…We have examined the failings of American and allied intelligence, especially on the issue of Iraq’s weapons and possible Iraqi connections to international terrorists. We have studied the allegations of official gullibility and hype. It is past time we turned the same light on ourselves.”
It discussed “journalism that we are proud of.” It reflected “an accurate (picture) of the state of our knowledge at the time.” It was based on duplicitous intelligence, hawkish neocons, and Iraqi exiles paid to lie. Times editors admitted “a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been.”
Information used was “controversial. (It) was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive….” “We consider the story of Iraq’s weapons, and of the pattern of misinformation, to be unfinished business. And we fully intend to continue aggressive reporting aimed at setting the record straight.
Follow-through was woefully inadequate. Credible sources were ignored. Scott Ritter was America’s former chief weapons inspector. He vocally criticized sanctions. He opposed US intervention. He said members of his team spied on Saddam. He spoke publicly. He said no WMDs existed. Suspect sites inspections found nothing. They’d been abandoned for years. “Presidents lie to the American people,” he stressed.
He said Bush officials wanted war. Media scoundrels regurgitated White House claims. They showed “a collective cowardice to confront the administration.” They demonstrated a “horrific disregard for facts and for the truth.” Americans were willfully deceived. They got false information. They got it daily.
Times editors ignored him. So did other media scoundrels. The rest is history. Pre-2003 Iraq no longer exists. The cradle of civilization was destroyed. Since 1990, millions died. Millions more were displaced. Iraq’s a dystopian wasteland. It’s one of history’s greatest crimes. It’s unsafe to live in.
Judith Miller bears much responsibility. So do Times editors. They featured her daily propaganda. They knew it lacked credibility. On March 19, Times editors headlined “Ten Years After.” The Iraq war “still haunts the United States,” they said.
“(It) was unnecessary, costly and damaging on every level. It was based on faulty intelligence manipulated for ideological reasons. The terrible human and economic costs over the past 10 years show why that must never happen again.”
More on that below.
When America goes to war or plans one, New York Times editors march in lockstep. They played a lead role in supporting Washington’s Iraq war. Managed news misinformation substituted for truth and full disclosure. Peace never had a chance. Judith Miller was a key instigator. The late Alex Cockburn called Iraq “Judy Miller’s war.”
“Lay all (her) New York Times stories end to end, from late 2001 to June 2003, and you get a desolate picture of a reporter with an agenda,” he said.
“With Miller, we sink to the level of straight press handout.” She wrote daily Pentagon propaganda pieces. Times editors made them front page feature stories. Her most “sensational disclosures” were bald-faced lies. She wrote “garbage, garbage that powered the Bush administration’s propaganda drive toward invasion.”
“She was a witting cheerleader for war. She knew what she was doing.” So did Times editors. They supported what they should have stopped. They had ample evidence. Hussein Kamel was Saddam’s son-in-law. He headed Iraq’s weapons programs. He defected with crates of state secrets. US intelligence operatives debriefed him. No nuclear program existed. After the Gulf War, “Iraq destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons stocks and missiles to deliver them,” he said.
The Times reported it. It then buried what he said and forgot it. It never resurfaced in the run-up to the 2003 war. Lies substituted for truth. On July 1, 2003, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) headlined “The Great WMD Hunt,” saying:
“Within the press, perhaps the most energetic disseminator of “inactionable intelligence” on Iraq’s putative weapons has been the New York Times’ Judith Miller.”
She “accumulated a bulging clippings file over the years full of splashy, yet often maddeningly unverifiable, exposes alleging various Iraqi arms shenanigans.” Reports about them included:
- “Secret Arsenal: The Hunt for Germs of War” (2/26/98)
- “Defector Describes Iraq’s Atom Bomb Push” (8/15/98)
- “Iraqi Tells of Renovations at Sites For Chemical and Nuclear Arms” (12/20/01)
- “Defectors Bolster US Case Against Iraq, Officials Say” (1/24/03)
Former Times writer Craig Pyes co-wrote a 2000 Al Qaeda report with Miller. He wanted his name removed. “I’m not willing to work” with her, he said. “I do not trust her work, her judgment, or her conduct.”
“She is an advocate, and her actions threaten the integrity of the enterprise, and of everyone who works with her. (She uses) unproven assertions and factual inaccuracies. (She) tried to stampede it into the paper.” She substituted propaganda for verifiable facts. She did it daily. She lied for power.
Ten years too late to matter, Times editors reflected. Bush/Cheney & Co. “wage(d) preemptive war against Saddam Hussein and a nuclear arsenal that did not exist,” they said. “They promised a ‘free and peaceful Iraq’ that would be a model of democracy and stability in the Arab world.” They turned Iraq into a free-fire zone. A State Department travel warning calls Iraq dangerous. Americans are “at risk of kidnapping and terrorist violence.”
Car-bombings and other attacks occur regularly. “Yet none of the Bush administration’s war architects have been called to account for their ‘mistakes….’ ” They’re guilty of crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. They belong in prison doing hard time. Don’t expect Times editors to explain. They claim Obama opposed the war “from the start.” In November 2004, he was elected US senator. In January 2005, he took office. He was uninvolved in the war’s run-up.
His voting record was hawkish. He backed defense authorization spending. He supported Homeland Security funding. In July 2005, he voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act. As president he’s supportive. His Senate and presidential policies belie his rhetoric. He supports permanent wars and occupations. He’s militantly hardline. He opposes prosecuting Bush, Cheney and CIA torturers. He’s more pro-business than some Republicans.
Don’t expect Times editors to explain. “Iraqis are responsible for their own future,” they say. “It requires more sustained American involvement….Iraq is a reminder of the need for political leaders to ask the right questions before allowing military action and to listen honestly rather than acting on ideological or political impulses.”
“Mr. Bush led the war, but Democrats as well as Republicans in Congress endorsed it.” So did Times editors. They did so enthusiastically. They cheerled America to war. They did so duplicitously. They suppressed information potentially able to prevent it. They featured bald-faced lies instead.
They have blood on their hands. Reconsideration now doesn’t wash. Setting the record straight in time to matter alone counts. Times editors fail every time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Iraq War: a Liberal Hawk Repents
From Pierre Tristam, About.com Guide [October 9, 2011]
WMD Duo: Judith Miller, whose reporting on Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction would embarrass an inattentive New York Times, with Bill Keller of The Times, who now admits to inattention. (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)There was the “I-Can’t-Believe-I’m-a-Hawk Club” column, back on Feb. 8, 2003, when Bill Keller, then a columnist for the war-cheering New York Times, imagined a victorious invasion: “If all this goes smoothly — and even if it goes a little less smoothly — Mr. Bush will hear a chorus of supporters claiming vindication. I imagine a triumphalist editorial or two in the neoconservative press. Pundits who earlier urged Mr. Bush to ignore Congress and the U.N. will assure him that he can now safely disregard everyone who caviled at the threshold of war, and urge him to get on with the next liberation in the series.”And even if it goes a little less smoothly.There was his “Fear on the Home Front” column from Feb.; 22, 2003, that included this prediction, now equally, spectacularly wrong: “First, Al Qaeda terrorists do not need the pretext of an Iraq war to come after us. They will attack us, unprovoked, repeatedly and in as spectacular a fashion as their lethal ingenuity allows, regardless of what we do in Iraq. We know this, because they have done it.” Al-Qaeda, of course, didn’t need to attack after the United States essentially attacked itself by invading Iraq, and beginning a spiral downward, at a cost of $1 trillion, and 4,500 American lives, and 100,000 Iraqi lives, that has yet to end.
And there was this, in a column written a few days before Keller was appointed executive editor: “The truth is that the information-gathering machine designed to guide our leaders in matters of war and peace shows signs of being corrupted. To my mind, this is a worrisome problem, but not because it invalidates the war we won. It is a problem because it weakens us for the wars we still face.”
Bill Keller was just returned to the OpEd pages of the Times. In early September, he penned an essayrepenting his support for the war. The piece has its problems. But it’s indicative of the degree to which too many bright liberals suspended disbelief in the Bush administration’s follies for a bet, a foolish bet, that they were on the right side of history with their support for war.
Here’s an analysis of the Keller piece and the hawkish liberals’ shift: “Iraq War: When Liberal Hawks Like Bill Keller Repent.”
Judy ‘WMD’ Miller: Hypocrite for the Ages
The former New York Times reporter, you remember, deservedly caught unholy hell for her role in pushing the Bush administration’s lies about WMDs in Iraq. She wrote a series of stories for theTimes — based on B.S. spoonfed to her by Cheney & Co.’s favorite puppet, Ahmad Chalabi — claiming that there was clear evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and that Saddam was working to acquire nuclear weapons. The stories were all written and published without verifying the evidence. The Bushies then turned around and used Miller’s “reporting” as grounds for the invasion. When her shoddy work exploded in her face — about the same time IED’s were exploding, much more literally, in American soldiers’ faces — Miller defended her reporting thusly: “My job isn’t to assess the government’s information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers of the New York Times what the government thought about Iraq’s arsenal.”
No, Ms. Miller, your job, particularly in such a highly charged, dangerous situation, was to be sure you were telling the truth. In any case, Miller is now a paid analyst on Fox News (there’s a shock), where last weekend she accused WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange of being “a bad journalist.” The reason? Now get this: “Because he didn’t care at all about attempting to verify the information that he was putting out, or determine whether or not it hurt anyone.”
In my fantasy world, when an irresponsible journalist who helped pave the way to a genuine catastrophe calls someone else irresponsible, a bucketload of bullshit drops on his/her head. But that’s just in my fantasy. In real life, no one on the Fox News show batted an eye, and Miller goes to work this week for the ultra-conservative site Newsmax.com.