A Damn Fine Mess By William Bowles

27 May 2004

So where is the demand from the so-called Left of the Labour government for the complete and unconditional withdrawal from Iraq? Are they too hiding behind the fig leaf of the UN? A UN that is reluctant to takeover the minefield created by the occupation and one complicated by the juggling of the various actors such as Russia and France, as they attempt to leverage advantage from the rapidly disintegrating situation.

So on the one hand, desperate to find a way out, the imperium tries to sell the idea of ‘sovereignty’ to the world but on the other, tries to justify why it has to stay in order to maintain ‘security’, a tactic that merely compounds the contradictions. For in staying, on the one hand, it has to go through the motions of acknowledging “total sovereignty” (already a cause of dissent between the UK and the US and a ‘restating of the position’ by Blair), but at the same time allow itself the freedom to act with impunity.

And what a strange kind of ‘security’ it is, for the only ‘security’ that is threatened is that of the imperium’s own military occupation. So in this topsy-turvy world, the imperium creates its own insecurity simply by being there and defends its actions by telling the world that it is Iraqi security that is threatened, not by the presence of imperial forces but by the Iraqis themselves!

Indicative of the total mess are the various diversions that are being ejected, the most notable is that of erstwhile ‘ally’ of the US, Ahmed Chalabi, our latter-day Manuel Noriega1, who having outlived his usefulness has been sacrificed on the alter of the occupation.

What is most important to note about all these attempts at diverting attention from the central issue is that none of them are working. If anything, they merely compound the problems because increasing numbers of people simply do not believe a word of it. This in spite of the almost total collusion of the media in trying to promote the imperium’s agenda.

In the UK the media does its bit to cover Blair’s tired and sorry arse as he attempts to sell one story to the British public whilst not blotting his copybook with the imperium. The Independent’s editorial 27/05/04 tells us:

“For Mr Blair, the headlines [on the non-rift rift between the US and the UK over the meaning of sovereignty] about a stand-off between London and Washington do no harm at all, whether or not they are true.”

Eh? So it doesn’t matter what sovereignty means – wait a moment, it’s time to get my dictionary out – okay my Oxford dictionary tells me sovereignty means supreme as in “supreme rule”. But according to the Independent, Blair is on the side of the angels as:

“[Blair] can be cast again in the role of honest broker [sic] between the Americans and the rest…. And it is on the answers that the sincerity of the transfer of sovereignty – and its success or failure – will depend.”

The editorial, anxious not to be clear about what it really is saying, then goes on to tell us:

“It is unrealistic to expect Mr Bush to cede command of US forces to the UN in the middle of the US election campaign. But it is not unrealistic to hope that an Iraqi government [sic] would have the deciding say in where troops were deployed and for what purpose.”

Bear in mind that the editorial starts out by saying that “everything is as clear as mud” when referring to Blair’s statement that Iraq will have “full sovereignty” after June 30. But not to worry as the editorial goes on to say:

“And while the US and British positions might seem contradictory, there is evidently sufficient agreement and sufficient leeway for the US and Britain…to be on speaking terms again.”

Clear? Yes, clear as mud. So the Independent is obviously in total agreement with the Blair/Bush line that makes a nonsense of the truth by obscuring it with semantics.

It is also worth noting here that the ‘uncovering’ of the use of institutional torture by the US and the UK ‘burst’ upon the world without a single question being raised as to who made it possible and most importantly why? Could it be that it exposes divisions within the ranks of the ruling elite who realise that the one thing they cannot allow is loss of faith in the ‘system’s inalienable right to rule’. So expect at some time in the future for it to be ‘revealed’ that the photos/videos etc were put out by somebody, say in the State Department nervous about the way things were falling apart? It is as I’ve pointed out before, a classic case of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ in action.

So too with the imperium turning on its numero uno source of ‘intelligence’, Ahmed Chalabi.

Ahmed Chalabi
Chalabi & Miller – Bosom buddies?

 

 

 

Ahmed Chalabi – CIA asset turned fall guy
What exposes the interlocking relationship between the media and corporate state more than anything else is the (reluctant) admission by the ‘paper of record’ the New York Times whose mast carries the tag “All the news that’s fit to print”, that there were ‘flaws’ in its reporting of the justification for the invasion. An internal memo from NYT’s Executive Editor Bill Keller and Managing Editor Jill Abramson to their staff reads in part:

“In Wednesday’s paper you’ll find a note from the editors — us — about our coverage of Iraq and its WMD. After a thorough review of that coverage, we feel we owe our readers some explanations. The purpose of the note is to acknowledge that we, like many of our competitors and many officials in Washington, were misled on a number of stories by Iraqi informants dealing in misinformation. This note is not an attempt to find a scapegoat or to blame reporters for not knowing then what we know now. Nor is it intended to signal that you should pull your punches. Quite the contrary. As you have probably noticed in, for example, our coverage of the prisoner abuse story, we prize hard-won, hard-hitting stories.

“The note we are publishing will not satisfy our most vociferous critics, but it is not written for them. It is an attempt to set the record straight, something we do as a point of journalistic pride.

“For those of you who are wondering about the next chapter of this ordeal, the next chapter is, we keep reporting.”2

Journalistic pride? Who is misleading whom here? Most of the stories on Chalabi’s disinformation were reported through CIA ‘asset’ Judith Miller (understandably unavailable for comment) and were exposed at the time as nothing more than disinformation both here and elsewhere over and over again but all to no avail – until now that is. The NYT’s Keller however, still insists that Miller is:

“a smart, well-sourced, industrious and fearless reporter with a keen instinct for news, and an appetite for dauntingly hard subjects.”3

Miller’s boss at the time was Andrew Rosenthal, who defended her by saying:

“[W]henever possible, the reporter should help the reader understand these [sources’] motivations. Judy has done this consistently in her coverage of the WMD issue.”4

In May of 2003, questions were being raised about Miller’s coverage and her sources. The Washington Post carried a story (26/5/03) that reveals that it is not merely the reporter but the active collusion of the NYT in the disinformation campaign:

“An internal e-mail by Judith Miller, the paper’s top reporter on bioterrorism, acknowledges that her main source for such articles has been Ahmad Chalabi, a controversial exile leader who is close to top Pentagon officials. Could Chalabi have been using the Times to build a drumbeat that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction?”

THE NYT’s Baghdad bureau chief John Burns scolded Miller for publishing her story without first clearing it with him but what is important here is the relationship between Miller and the US military, a relationship that NYT was all too aware of. Miller in her response to Burns wrote:

“…the Army unit she was traveling with — Mobile Exploration Team Alpha – “is using Chalabi’s intell and document network for its own WMD work…I’ve been covering Chalabi for about 10 years, and have done most of the stories about him for our paper, including the long takeout we recently did on him. He has provided most of the front page exclusives on WMD to our paper.””

And again, Andrew Rosenthal, then assistant managing editor for foreign news jumped to the defence of Miller and its relationship with the military when he said:

“Of course we talk to Chalabi…If you were in Iraq and weren’t talking to Chalabi, I’d wonder if you were doing your job.”

The incestuous relationship between the media and the military is revealed by the following:

“Under the terms of her accreditation…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.

“”Rosenthal says all embedded reporters agreed to the same restrictions. “We didn’t feel this amounted to censorship,” he said. “We thought the added burden of the rules was justified by the access we got to what would have been secret operations…she never said she never met him [Chalabi].” [Army officials] “made an argument that his life would be in jeopardy” if he were identified…Rosenthal says, he is “extremely comfortable” with Miller’s reporting because “all the information was attributed to MET Alpha, not ‘senior U.S. officials’ or some other vague formulation.””5

And in yet another spook-the-public story on behalf of the CIA, Miller in a front page NYT story that was instrumental in getting the US congress to authorise war, gave us:

“the aluminum tubes plant [that] was a big component of the “weapons of mass destruction” canard…

“Months later, when the tubes connection was thoroughly discredited (UN weapons inspectors past and present said the tubes were intended for conventional rocket production), the Times did not think it necessary to run a clarification. Nor was Ms. Miller disciplined for shoddy work; on the contrary, when the A-bomb threat had faded, the Bush administration astutely shifted the media’s focus to chemical and biological weapons — and Ms. Miller fell into line with the program.

“When these non-nuclear weapons proved elusive after the fall of Baghdad, she placed herself at the service of what I call the Pentagon’s pretext verification unit. In her first postwar dispatch, again deemed front-page news, she wrote about a man claiming to be an “Iraqi scientist” with knowledge about destroyed chemical weapons. The problem was, Ms. Miller didn’t interview the gentleman, didn’t learn his name and agreed to have her story censored by the U.S. army under the terms of her “accreditation.”

When officials leak a “fact” to Ms. Miller, they then can cite her subsequent stenography in the Times as corroboration of their own propaganda, as though the Times had conducted its own independent investigation. On Sept. 8, Dick Cheney cited the Times’s aluminum tubes nonsense on Meet the Press to buttress his casus belli.

“More recently, on May 23, former CIA director and Bush apologist James Woolsey was challenged by CNN International’s Daljit Dhaliwal in very un-Timesian fashion about the absence of weapons and the world’s resulting skepticism. Mr. Woolsey replied, “Well, I think the key thing on that is the very fine reporting that’s been done by Judith Miller of The New York Times.”6

The point here is that when the mouthpiece of corporate America prepares to jump ship you know something is seriously wrong. Damage control is now the order of the day if the situation is to be rescued. What should make us stand up and take notice is the congruence between the NYT’s ‘admission’ of its journalistic failings and the decision by the US to dump Chalabi, for what it reveals is just how desperate the situation really is. It should also be pointed out that even back in May of 2003, some reports were already talking of the CIA’s ‘unhappiness’ with Chalabi’s ‘intelligence’ (well there’s nothing wrong with covering one’s arse just in case).

Restoring confidence in the system is now number one on the agenda, an agenda that is reflected in the US media’s coverage of Kerry’s presidential campaign and indeed in the shift in Kerry’s language that is now effectively indistinguishable from that of Bush. Come November an American electorate will be presented with a no-win/no-lose situation, an election that like previous ones, will be conducted on the basis of negatives, with votes going not to Kerry but against Bush. The agenda is clear; should the Bush policy of ‘sovereignty’ in Iraq fail between now and November, then Kerry will be there to pick up where Bush left off. It will be ‘business as usual’ at least that’s the theory.

References and notes

1. The parallel between Ahmed Chalabi and Manuel Noriega is no coincidence as the following files illustrate:

The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations
… US Officials and Major Traffickers. Manuel Noriega. In June, 1986, the New York Times published articles detailing years of Panamanian …
www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB2/nsaebb2.htm

The Oliver North File
… repeated reports of drug smuggling related to the contras, and actively worked with known drug smugglers such as Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega to assist …
www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB113/

Kornbluh Testimony (1996/10/19)
… It is the documentation on US relations with another Latin American general, General Manuel Noriega in Panama, that most clearly demonstrates the shameless …
www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB2/pktstmny.htm

CIA’s Challenge in South Central
… for fear he might spill the beans on covert operations; CIA officials did scheme with the White House to help Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega clean up his …
www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB2/ciachall.htm

[PDF] 3-05 Doctrine for Joint Special Operations
Page 1. 17 April 1998 Joint Pub 3-05 Doctrine for Joint Special Operations
Page 2. PREFACE i 1. Scope This publication provides guidance …
www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB63/doc3.pdf

I have made the all the relevant Ollie North/Noriega docs available here

2. www.mediainfo.com/eandp/news/article_
display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000519447

3. www.mediainfo.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_
content_id=1000518753

4. www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/06/11/1055220653744.html
5. Howard Kurtz, Washington Post, Monday, May 26, 2003; Page C01
6. “If You Think Jayson Blair was Loose with the Facts, Look at How the Times Covered Iraq” by John MacArthur June 6, 2003, Globe & Mail/Canada

See also Judith Miller and her murky relationship to the deceased Dr David Kelly, “Dark actors – dark forces?” by William Bowles (28/07/03)

And for more on the dubious relationship between Miller and the Bush cabal see “Senior U.S. Official to Level Weapons Charges Against Syria” By Judith Miller NYT 16/09/03 that reveals Miller’s cosy relationship with John Bolton, another neo-con neophyte.
www.nytimes.com/2003/09/16/international/middleeast/
16SYRI.html?ex=1085803200&en=b725485cdca1cff5&ei=5070

The Bolton/Miller relationship is explored in “Leak of the Week: The Bolton Testimony Judith Miller. Again.” By Jack Shafer slate.msn.com/id/2088435/

See also Counterpunch “The Truth About Ahmed Chalabi” by Andrew Cockburn but I’m dubious about Cockburn’s assertions about the Iranian connection that seems to follow the disinfo trail put out by the CIA. What Cockburn’s doesn’t go into is the close connection between Chalabi, Israel and oil (see “Ahmed Chalabi – Oil Man in Baghdad” 30/04/03, by yours truly.)

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