Thursday, June 23, 2005

TRUTH REVEALED: The New York Times is a Master at Deception

A brilliant article by Sanjoy Mahajan in ZNET analyzes with crystalline clarity and exposes the shameless cover-up tactics used by The New York Times when dealing with the Downing Street Memos (minutes) and briefings.

In Mahajan's words:

The NYT articles -- masterpieces of delay, indirection, distraction, fake rebuttals, and elegant omission -- keep readers ignorant of the lies and the lying liars who tell them. No wonder so many Americans still support this gangster war.

In Mahajan's article he first compares headlines from the British media with the NYT.

British Headlines:

MI6 chief told PM: Americans 'fixed' case for war

Blair planned Iraq war from start

Blair faces US probe over secret Iraq invasion plan

NYT Headlines:

British Memo On U.S. Plans For Iraq War Fuels Critics

Prewar British Memo Says War Decision Wasn't Made

Memo Shows Bush Misled Public, Antiwar Group Says

He points out that the NYT headlines -- unlike the British headlines -- glaringly omitts what was actually said in the meeting with the MI6 director, among other things:

The NYT headlines either ignore the memo [2,6]; deny its main point [4], quote others denying it [3], quote war critics or describe the memo's effect on them [1,7], or report the memo as being of mere clinical interest [5]. No headline states what was said in the meeting, a feat the Sunday Times managed back on March 20: 'MI6 chief told PM: Americans 'fixed' case for war'. One Sunday Times headline (22 May), like the NYT, mentions the effect of the memo, but it also reveals important information from the memo, the 'secret Iraq invasion plan'.

(numbers in square brackets refer to the headlines listed in his article)

In each New York Times article, Mahajan does a masterful critique on how the writers fake, dodge and shift the focus of the articles from the important and damning facts found within The Downing Street Memos (minutes).

Here are some NYT headlines with excerpts of Mahajan's analyses of each article:

Bush and Blair Deny 'Fixed' Iraq Reports

The article allows that 'The statements contradicted assertions in the memorandum...', but it spends most of its remaining space discussing merely the effect of the memo. Its contents have 'dogged Mr. Blair...', and he was 'generally unsmiling through the 25-minute news conference'. The first paragraph, again focusing on the effect over the content, says that the memo upset critics who 'see it as evidence that the president was intent to go to war with Iraq earlier than the White House has said.' Like the statement in [1] that military planning began in November 2001, the statement is true but irrelevant: irrelevant because it is not intrinsically terrible to go to war earlier than said. If it were only a week earlier, for example, who cares? The reporting obscures how Bush first decided to invade, then, to grow legal fig leaves for Blair, cooked up a UN ultimatum designed to fail. As reported on the front page of the London Guardian:

Prewar British Memo Says War Decision Wasn't Made

Careful reading reveals that the article is discussing another document: not the memo but rather the briefing paper prepared for the Cabinet meeting. The briefing paper does explicitly say: 'no political decisions have been taken'. However, the complete sentence is:

Although no political decisions have been taken, US military planners have drafted options for the US Government to undertake an invasion of Iraq. ['Cabinet Office paper: Conditions for military action', 21 July 2002, para. 6, published in the Sunday Times (London), 12 July 2005, and at]

So, contrary to the NYT fake rebuttal enabled by selective quoting, invasion planning is underway. The briefing paper says that 'military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace', however 'it lacks a political framework' [para. 1]. Translated from Foreign Office speak, the US planners had not sold the war to the US public, i.e. had not developed the political framework. That sale would come later because, 'From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August' [White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card in September 2003].

Memo Shows Bush Misled Public, Antiwar Group Says

The most recent NYT coverage [7] leads with:

Opponents of the war in Iraq held an unofficial hearing on Capitol draw attention to a leaked British government document that they say proves that President Bush misled the public about his war plans in 2002...

Its hearing is downplayed as 'unofficial', and besides it is held by opponents of the war, so it is another antiwar event: No news here, keep moving. The article does not explain that the hearing was unofficial because Republicans refused to allow it to take place in the Congressional chambers.

Here is the well-designed second paragraph:

In a jammed room in the basement of the Capitol, Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan...presided as witnesses asserted that the 'Downing Street memo'...vindicated their view that Mr. Bush made the decision to topple Saddam Hussein long before he has admitted.

It distances the reader with 'witnesses asserted' that the memo 'vindicated their view', rather than the direct 'the memo says...' The article eventually explains one of the memo's revelations: that Dearlove says Bush has decided on war. But the article omits the evidence for Dearlove's statement: a high-level trip to Washington, probably talking to George Tenet, head of the CIA. As far as the reader knows, Dearlove could just be sounding off.

Sanjoy Mahajan's Anatomy of a Coverup may be found here.

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