May 29, 2004

Unlike Blair's deceptions, Miller's lies provided the pretext for war. Her lies cost lives.

No, you did not imagine it. The feirce and brilliant
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! was indeed quoted in USA Today on a subject close to our spleens here at the
LNS, the complicity and deceits of the NYTwits, that
institution formerly known as the "paper of record"
and after Fraudida (and their shameless cover-up of
what happened there) re-named by the LNS as the "paper
of revision."

Thank you, George Soros.

Amy Goodman and David Goodman, The Exception to the
Rulers: When George W. Bush and Tony Blair made their
fraudulent case to attack Iraq, The Times, along with
most corporate media outlets in the United States,
became cheerleaders for the war. And while Jayson
Blair was being crucified for his journalistic sins,
veteran Times national security correspondent and
best-selling author Judith Miller was filling The
Times' front pages with unchallenged government
propaganda. Unlike Blair's deceptions, Miller's lies provided the pretext for war. Her lies cost lives.

Break the Bush Cabal Stranglehold on the "US
Mainstream News Media," Show Up for Democracy in 2004:
Defeat Bush (again!)

Online Exclusive...Fatal Error: Lies of The Times,
Their Lies Took Lives
Wednesday, May 26th, 2004

By Amy Goodman and David Goodman

In our new book, The Exception To the Rulers: Exposing
Oily Politicians, War Profiteers and the Media That
Love Them, we titled one chapter "The Lies of Our
Times" to examine how The New York Times coverage on
Iraq and its alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass
destruction helped lead the country to war. Today, The
New York Times, for the first time, raised questions
about its own coverage in an 1,100-word editor's note.
Here is an excerpt from our section of the book on the
New York Times and Iraq.

"From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce
new products in August."
-- Andrew H. Card, White House Chief of Staff
speaking about the Iraq war P.R. campaign, September
6, 2002
In the midst of the buildup to war, a major scandal
was unfolding at The New York Times-the paper that
sets the news agenda for other media. The Times
admitted that for several years a 27-year-old reporter
named Jayson Blair had been conning his editors and
falsifying stories. He had pretended to be places he
hadn't been, fabricated quotes, and just plain lied in
order to tell a sensational tale. For this, Blair was
fired. But The Times went further: It ran a
7,000-word, five-page expose on the young reporter,
laying bare his personal and professional escapades.

The Times said it had reached a low point in its
152-year history. I agreed. But not because of the
Jayson Blair affair. It was The Times coverage of the
Bush-Blair affair.

When George W. Bush and Tony Blair made their
fraudulent case to attack Iraq, The Times, along with
most corporate media outlets in the United States,
became cheerleaders for the war. And while Jayson
Blair was being crucified for his journalistic sins,
veteran Times national security correspondent and
best-selling author Judith Miller was filling The
Times' front pages with unchallenged government
propaganda. Unlike Blair's deceptions, Miller's lies
provided the pretext for war. Her lies cost lives.

If only The New York Times had done the same kind of
investigation of Miller's reports as it had with
Jayson Blair.

The White House propaganda blitz was launched on
September 7, 2002, at a Camp David press conference.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair stood side by side
with his co-conspirator, President George W. Bush.
Together, they declared that evidence from a report
published by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) showed that Iraq was "six months away" from
building nuclear weapons.

"I don't know what more evidence we need," crowed

Actually, any evidence would help-there was no such
IAEA report. But at the time, few mainstream American
journalists questioned the leaders' outright lies.
Instead, the following day, "evidence" popped up in
the Sunday New York Times under the twin byline of
Michael Gordon and Judith Miller. "More than a decade
after Saddam Hussein agreed to give up weapons of mass
destruction," they stated with authority, "Iraq has
stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has
embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an
atomic bomb, Bush administration officials said

In a revealing example of how the story amplified
administration spin, the authors included the phrase
soon to be repeated by President Bush and all his top
officials: "The first sign of a 'smoking gun,'
[administration officials] argue, may be a mushroom

Harper's publisher John R. MacArthur, author of Second
Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War, knew
what to make of this front-page bombshell. "In a
disgraceful piece of stenography," he wrote, Gordon
and Miller "inflated an administration leak into
something resembling imminent Armageddon."

The Bush administration knew just what to do with the
story they had fed to Gordon and Miller. The day The
Times story ran, Vice President Dick Cheney made the
rounds on the Sunday talk shows to advance the
administration's bogus claims. On NBC's Meet the
Press, Cheney declared that Iraq had purchased
aluminum tubes to make enriched uranium. It didn't
matter that the IAEA refuted the charge both before
and after it was made. But Cheney didn't want viewers
just to take his word for it. "There's a story in The
New York Times this morning," he said smugly. "And I
want to attribute The Times."

This was the classic disinformation two-step: the
White House leaks a lie to The Times, the newspaper
publishes it as a startling expose, and then the White
House conveniently masquerades behind the credibility
of The Times.

"What mattered," wrote MacArthur, "was the
unencumbered rollout of a commercial for war."4

Judith Miller was just getting warmed up. Reporting
for America's most influential newspaper, Miller
continued to trumpet administration leaks and other
bogus sources as the basis for eye-popping stories
that backed the administration's false premises for
war. "If reporters who live by their sources were
obliged to die by their sources," Jack Shafer wrote
later in Slate, "Miller would be stinking up her
family tomb right now."

After the war, Shafer pointed out, "None of the
sensational allegations about chemical, biological, or
nuclear weapons given to Miller have panned out,
despite the furious crisscrossing of Iraq by U.S.
weapons hunters."

Did The New York Times publish corrections?
Clarifications? Did heads roll? Not a chance: Judith
Miller's "scoops" continued to be proudly run on the
front pages.

Here are just some of the corrections The Times should
have run after the year-long campaign of front-page
false claims by one of its premier reporters, Judith


Scoop: "U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb
Parts," by Judith Miller and Michael R. Gordon,
September 8, 2002. The authors quote Ahmed al-Shemri
(a pseudonym), who contends that he worked in Iraq's
chemical weapons program before defecting in 2000. "
'All of Iraq is one large storage facility,' said Mr.
Shemri, who claimed to have worked for many years at
the Muthanna State Enterprise, once Iraq's chemical
weapons plant." The authors quote Shemri as stating
that Iraq is stockpiling "12,500 gallons of anthrax,
2,500 gallons of gas gangrene, 1,250 gallons of
aflatoxin, and 2,000 gallons of botulinum throughout
the country."

Oops: As UN weapons inspectors had earlier stated-and
U.S. weapons inspectors confirmed in September
2003-none of these claims were true. The unnamed
source is one of many Iraqi defectors who made
sensational false claims that were championed by
Miller and The Times.


Scoop: "White House Lists Iraq Steps to Build Banned
Weapons," by Judith Miller and Michael Gordon,
September 13, 2002. The article quotes the White House
contention that Iraq was trying to purchase aluminum
pipes to assist its nuclear weapons program.

Oops: Rather than run a major story on how the United
States had falsely cited the UN to back its claim that
Iraq was expanding its nuclear weapons program, Miller
and Gordon repeated and embellished the lie.

Contrast this with the lead paragraph of a story that
ran in the British daily The Guardian on September 9:
"The International Atomic Energy Agency has no
evidence that Iraq is developing nuclear weapons at a
former site previously destroyed by UN inspectors,
despite claims made over the weekend by Tony Blair,
western diplomatic sources told The Guardian
yesterday." The story goes on to say that the IAEA
"issued a statement insisting it had 'no new
information' on Iraq's nuclear program since December
1998 when its inspectors left Iraq."

Miller's trumped-up story contributed to the climate
of the time and The Times. A month later, numerous
congressional representatives cited the nuclear threat
as a reason for voting to authorize war.


Scoop: "U.S. Faulted Over Its Efforts to Unite Iraqi
Dissidents," by Judith Miller, October 2, 2002.
Quoting Ahmed Chalabi and Defense Department adviser
Richard Perle, this story stated: "The INC [Iraqi
National Congress] has been without question the
single most important source of intelligence about
Saddam Hussein."

Miller airs the INC's chief complaint: "Iraqi
dissidents and administration officials complain that
[the State Department and CIA] have also tried to cast
doubt on information provided by defectors Mr.
Chalabi's organization has brought out of Iraq."

Oops: Miller championed the cause of Chalabi, the
Iraqi exile leader who had been lobbying Washington
for over a decade to support the overthrow of Saddam
Hussein's regime. As The Washington Post revealed,
Miller wrote to Times veteran foreign correspondent
John Burns, who was working in Baghdad at the time,
that Chalabi "has provided most of the front page
exclusives on WMD [weapons of mass destruction] to our

Times readers might be interested to learn the details
of how Ahmed Chalabi was bought and paid for by the
CIA. Chalabi heads the INC, an organization of Iraqi
exiles created by the CIA in 1992 with the help of the
Rendon Group, a powerful public relations firm that
has worked extensively for the two Bush
administrations. Between 1992 and 1996, the CIA
covertly funneled $12 million to Chalabi's INC. In
1998, the Clinton administration gave Chalabi control
of another $98 million of U.S. taxpayer money.
Chalabi's credibility has always been questionable: He
was convicted in absentia in Jordan of stealing some
$500 million from a bank he established, leaving
shareholders high and dry. He has been accused by
Iraqi exiles of pocketing at least $4 million of CIA

In the lead-up to war, the CIA dismissed Chalabi as
unreliable. But he was the darling of Pentagon hawks,
putting an Iraqi face on their warmongering. So the
Pentagon established a new entity, the Office of
Special Plans, to champion the views of discredited
INC defectors who helped make its case for war.

As Howard Kurtz later asked in The Washington Post:
"Could Chalabi have been using The Times to build a
drumbeat that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass


Scoop: "C.I.A. Hunts Iraq Tie to Soviet Smallpox," by
Judith Miller, December 3, 2002. The story claims that
"Iraq obtained a particularly virulent strain of
smallpox from a Russian scientist." The story adds
later: "The information came to the American
government from an informant whose identity has not
been disclosed."

Smallpox was cited by President Bush as one of the
"weapons of mass destruction" possessed by Iraq that
justified a dangerous national inoculation program-and
an invasion.

Oops: After a three-month search of Iraq, " 'Team Pox'
turned up only signs to the contrary: disabled
equipment that had been rendered harmless by UN
inspectors, Iraqi scientists deemed credible who gave
no indication they had worked with smallpox, and a
laboratory thought to be back in use that was covered
in cobwebs," reported the Associated Press in
September 2003.


Scoop: "Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi
Scientist Is Said to Assert," by Judith Miller, April
21, 2003. In this front-page article, Miller quotes an
American military officer who passes on the assertions
of "a man who said he was an Iraqi scientist" in U.S.
custody. The "scientist" claims that Iraq destroyed
its WMD stockpile days before the war began, that the
regime had transferred banned weapons to Syria, and
that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda.

Who is the messenger for this bombshell? Miller tells
us only that she "was permitted to see him from a
distance at the sites where he said that material from
the arms program was buried. Clad in nondescript
clothes and a baseball cap, he pointed to several
spots in the sand where he said chemical precursors
and other weapons material were buried."

And then there were the terms of this disclosure:
"This reporter was not permitted to interview the
scientist or visit his home. Nor was she permitted to
write about the discovery of the scientist for three
days, and the copy was then submitted for a check by
military officials. Those officials asked that details
of what chemicals were uncovered be deleted." No
proof. No names. No chemicals. Only a baseball cap-and
the credibility of Miller and The Times-to vouch for a
"scientist" who conveniently backs up key claims of
the Bush administration. Miller, who was embedded with
MET Alpha, a military unit searching for WMDs, pumped
up her sensational assertions the next day on PBS's
NewsHour with Jim Lehrer:

Q: Has the unit you've been traveling with found any
proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
JUDITH MILLER: Well, I think they found something more
than a smoking gun. What they've a silver
bullet in the form of a person, an Iraqi individual, a
scientist, as we've called him, who really worked on
the programs, who knows them firsthand.

Q: Does this confirm in a way the insistence coming
from the U.S. government that after the war, various
Iraqi tongues would loosen, and there might be people
who would be willing to help?

JUDITH MILLER: Yes, it clearly does.... That's what
the Bush administration has finally done. They have
changed the political environment, and they've enabled
people like the scientists that MET Alpha has found to
come forth.

Oops: The silver bullet got more tarnished as it was
examined. Three months later, Miller acknowledged that
the scientist was merely "a senior Iraqi military
intelligence official." His explosive claims

A final note from the Department of Corrections: The
Times deeply regrets any wars or loss of life that
these errors may have contributed to.


Tom Wolfe once wrote about a war-happy Times
correspondent in Vietnam (same idea, different war):
The administration was "playing [the reporter] of The
New York Times like an ocarina, as if they were
blowing smoke up his pipe and the finger work was just
right and the song was coming forth better than they
could have played it themselves." But who was playing
whom? The Washington Post reported that while Miller
was embedded with MET Alpha, her role in the unit's
operations became so central that it became known as
the "Judith Miller team." In one instance, she
disagreed with a decision to relocate the unit to
another area and threatened to file a critical report
in The Times about the action. When she took her
protest to a two-star general, the decision was
reversed. One Army officer told the Post, "Judith was
always issuing threats of either going to The New York
Times or to the secretary of defense. There was
nothing veiled about that threat."

Later, she played a starring role in a ceremony in
which MET Alpha's leader was promoted. Other officers
were surprised to watch as Miller pinned a new rank on
the uniform of Chief Warrant Officer Richard Gonzales.
He thanked her for her "contributions" to the unit. In
April 2003, MET Alpha traveled to the compound of
Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi "at
Judy's direction," where they interrogated and took
custody of an Iraqi man who was on the Pentagon's
wanted list-despite the fact that MET Alpha's only
role was to search for WMDs. As one officer told the
Post, "It's impossible to exaggerate the impact she
had on the mission of this unit, and not for the

After a year of bogus scoops from Miller, the paper
gave itself a bit of cover. Not corrections-just
cover. On September 28, 2003, Times reporter Douglas
Jehl surprisingly kicked the legs out from under
Miller's sources. In his story headlined AGENCY

An internal assessment by the Defense Intelligence
Agency has concluded that most of the information
provided by Iraqi defectors who were made available by
the Iraqi National Congress was of little or no value,
according to federal officials briefed on the
arrangement. In addition, several Iraqi defectors
introduced to American intelligence agents by the
exile organization and its leader, Ahmed Chalabi,
invented or exaggerated their credentials as people
with direct knowledge of the Iraqi government and its
suspected unconventional weapons program, the
officials said.
The Iraqi National Congress had made some of these
defectors available to...The New York Times, which
reported their allegations about prisoners and the
country's weapons program.

Posted by richard at May 29, 2004 09:24 AM