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Judith Miller

The fact that there was no chemical and bacteriological weapons program in Iraq also shows -Oh, what a surprise! -that the American administration light-heartedly lied to the international media and public opinion. But this simple reflection is not enough. The democracy that the Bush administration leads in the United States and wishes to impose on the rest of the world, foresees or implies the elimination of counter powers, be they institutional (like the judiciary and parliament) or outside the State apparatus (NGOs -Non-Governmental Organizations— media, associations).

Going back to a very much-appreciated formula in Voltaire Network, «citizens should not be naively surprised by the fact that the State has always served as a cover or front for crime. On the contrary, they should remember that by nature, the State is a Leviathan [1] and that nobility of politics does not lie in managing the State, but in controlling it so that it serves the collective good» [2.

The Western press at the service of “just wars”.

In this specific case, it is not surprising that the members of the Bush administration, most of them members of the military-industrial complex, have pushed their fellow citizens to a deadly war, 10,000 kilometers away from its borders, just to satisfy the oil demands of the big industrial groups and the inordinate delusions of grandeur of the most warmongering neo-conservatives.

What is really surprising is that the existing counter powers in the United States —either the Congress or the big media, which since the 70’s became the fourth power-have not reacted to the pack of lies hatched everyday by the expert White House communicators.

As Michael Massing points out in the latest issue of the New York Review of Books, the American press waited till September, 2003, that is five months after the conflict had ended, to begin publishing information questioning the reasons the Pentagon had officially invoked to justify the Iraqi invasion [3].

Reasons for such media complicity are not to be sought in Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney’s effective propaganda. Actually what would have been surprising would be the opposite. Since the end of the Cold War —or rather since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the media became, in fact, the target of criticism for the manner in which it covered important world events, always on the side of the American -or for that matter the «Western»-position.

That is what happened in Romania, when Ceausescu’s fall and the false images of the massacre at Timosoara that were shown. It was also the case, of course, during the Gulf War, one of the rare episodes in which reporters today accept criticism such as «what should not be done and we will never do again». But later, the media once again made the same mistakes in Somalia, Rwanda and East Timor. Then came the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent crusade immediately after blaming Bin Laden for the attacks, the anthrax hysteria, and finally the second Gulf War.

Justification has always been the same: nobody talks any more about conquest wars but of «just wars», «the right to interfere» and even about «humanitarian wars» [4].

The list is so long and illustrative that allows for only one conclusion: in modern military strategy, based on communication, the media is not simply «deceived» by propaganda; the media itself is the propaganda.

Reporters specialized on defense matters, a profession under control.

The issue of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD Weapons of Mass Destruction) is a very illustrative example of the way in which rulers today «communicate war». For this particular case, Washington appointed a public relations officer in charge of «marketing the war». It was former General Motors’ general manager, Andrew Card, who had important political functions under the Reagan Administration.

On September 7, 2002, Card declared to the New York Times that the Bush Administration had prepared what the Times described as a «meticulously planned strategy to persuade the public, the Congress and the allies of the need to confront the threat from Saddam Hussein».

As to the timing of the campaign, Andrew Card explained that discussion on the issue had begun in late August or early September, because «from a marketing point of view you don’t introduce new products in August» [5]. The plan, of course, needed the support of the press. And it will come in the name of Judith Miller.

This New York Times reporter seems to be the scapegoat for the press involved in criticizing US media. A specialist in weapons of mass destruction, she wrote several books on Saddam Hussein or the bacteriological war. In 2002 she shared Pulitzer Prize for her articles on the terrorist Al-Qaeda network. This made her one of the «experts on defense matters» who write articles based on governmental or military sources.

The chronology of the articles she published on weapons of mass destruction follow very closely the White House timetable. On August 26, Dick Cheney begins the campaign in his address at a national veterans convention in which he denounces the existence of a chemical and bacteriological weapons program in Iraq [6].

On September 7, Judith Miller signs with Michael Gordon an article about the famous «aluminum tubes» that were to prove the existence of an Iraqi nuclear program. The article was based on a government source. [7]. That same day, Vice-President Cheney takes part in the NBC Meet the Press program and talks about the aluminum tubes, giving Miller and Gordon’s article the credit for the scoop: «It is public knowledge, that [Saddam Hussein] is trying to acquire» the necessary components «to build a bomb». That same day, Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell take up the accusations issue and later on it will be President George W. Bush himself before the United Nations General Assembly.

This is a flagrant example of «information laundering». To give credibility to strategically vital information, the Pentagon’s propaganda group leaks «confidential informationto» a well-known reporter. To verify it, the reporter goes to his/her government sources, which are precisely the author of the information and, consequently, veracity is confirmed.

Then, those who take the big decisions only have to quote the reporter’s article to justify their own arguments. It is all based on the credulity of «accredited reporters on defense matters» and the relationship with military leaders willing to convey the information. The reporter who investigated nuclear relations between France and Iran, Dominique Lorentz, clearly stated the methodology obstacle to be avoided in such investigations, particularly «that of believing that intelligence services are meant to [inform]. (...) An intelligence agent that brings a false case to the notice of a reporter does not do it out of honesty or sympathy, not the least because he trusts him. He is just carrying out a mission. At best (...) he is working for those in power to whom he is supposed to serve». And she adds: «the main problem with information supplied by secret services is that it is rarely true. (...) I could read incredible stories based on information «from reliable sources» or from confirmed experts» Regarding terrorism, as well as in military affairs, «it is the expert who lies» [8].

Judith Miller: The «Mass Misinformation» Weapon of the White House.

Judith Miller’s sources are not only from the government. She also bases her stories to a great extent on «revelations» made by the Iraqi National Council and its emblematic leader, Ahmed Chalabi. In any case, this is what an e-mail exchange between Miller and her immediate boss, John Burns, shows. This was revealed by Howard Kurtz from the Washington Post.

In the first message, John Burns rebuked Judith Miller for writing an article about Ahmed Chalabi when the New York team was preparing the publication of an investigation on the controversial opponent to the baathist regime. The reply of the Pulitzer price winner is eloquent: I have been covering Chalabi for about ten years and it was me who wrote most of the stories about him for our paper, as well as the long research we recently made on him. He has provided most of the front page scoops on WMD to our paper” [9].

Ahmed Chalabi also represents the main source of «information» for the Pentagon men, according to investigations by reporter Seymour M. Hersh [10]. A Newsweek, published on November 2003, confirms that opponents were feeding Dick Cheney and the Pentagon’s work on the subject [11].

Once the invasion of Iraq by the United States is over, all eyes will turn, of course, to the New York Times reporter. The Slate e-bulletin lists most of the lies published by the reporter in an explosive article [12]. The Bush Administration tried to get off the hook making up several hypotheses to justify the absence of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) in Iraq. Once again they turn to Judith Miller.

In an article published on April, 2003, she tells that according to an Iraqi scientist, Saddam Hussein destroyed his weapons the day before the US invasion and that some components were sent to Syria. No material evidence to prove such hypothesis was found. However, it was later known that as a «misled reporter», Judith Miller never had the chance to interview the Iraqi scientist directly nor to personally visit the places he mentioned and that she even had to submit her articles to US military authorities for clearance [13].

In the face of such blatant manipulations, one should wonder -regarding a reporter’s job- if a reporter’s participation in a propaganda campaign is by mistake or calculated. In the case of Judith Miller, many elements about her career point to the existence to shady relations —to say the least-with Washington hardliners, the same who staged the media disinformation program to fabricate an Iraqi threat [14]. Judith Miller blended in perfectly well.

Binladinisms

Omnipresent in the New York Times editorial, Judith Miller’s scoops on the «military secrets» she regularly publishes on the front page of that daily, are not by chance nor the result of perseverance. This is thanks to a number of services she has paid to dirty maneuvers orchestrated by the CIA.

This is the case of the piece she wrote on Libya in 1986. Back then, the United States was trying to weaken Muammar el-Khadaffi, internationally and domestically, in order to overthrow him. They were trying to blame him for most of the terrorist attacks taking place at the time, while presenting him as loosing grounds at home.

A memorandum by Admiral Poindexter giving details about such strategy was published by Bob Woodward in the Washington Post. The document explains that «one of the key elements [of the strategy] is that it combines real and false facts, thanks to a disinformation program aimed at making Khaddafi believe that there is a wide internal opposition against him in Libya, that his most reliable men are disloyal to him, and that the United States is ready to act militarily against him».

Bob Woodward’s article continues pointing out that the Wall Street Journal, as well as other newspapers, though the latter to a lesser extent, played to the tune of this strategy in their cover of the Libyan affair. That was what the New York Times’ special reporter to Paris at the time -nobody else than Judith Miller herself-did.

In an article published in the Rolling Stone magazine together with Marie Colvin, head of the UPI office in Paris, the Poindexter doctrine appears in black and white: «three and a half months after the US bombing of Libya, Muammar el-Khadaffi seems to be loosing control over the country and himself». Based on unidentified sources, both reporters reach the conclusion that «Khadaffi is suffering from the paralyzing pressure of depression» and assert that the Libyan leader has disappeared and is hiding.

Their mysterious sources also confirm that Khadaffi has turn on to drugs. Both reporters acknowledge, on the other hand, that they talked to «Western intelligence services analysts» and diplomats according to which Khadaffi did no longer control power in Libya. To this rhetoric that is repeated in all the articles of the Poindexter campaign, Judith Miller adds a personal anecdote: during talks with the Libyan leader, the latter would have tried to seduce her, like with other reporters, and had dismissed the idea when she told him that «her father, besides being a Jew, is a fervent Zionist».

On January 4, 1987, Judith Miller, from the columns of the New York Times, claims that Libya, Syria and Iran are responsible for the attack against a synagogue in Ankara. She does so quoting «US intelligence analysts», an «Israeli expert on terrorism», and other anonymous sources [15].

Saddam Hussein, Laurie Milroy’s one obsession.

During the first Gulf War, Judith Miller co-authors a book with Laurie Mylroy entitled «Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf». In this book, both authors narrate the horrors of the Iraqi Baathist regime and the details about Saddam Hussein’s decision to invade Kuwait. The political analysis of the problem provoked a strong criticism by Daniel Pipes.

According to Pipes, saying that «Americans went to the Gulf for oil»is to completely hide the threat that the Iraqi nuclear military program posed for the region [16]. But there is an interesting detail: In 1987, Laurie Mylroy and Daniel Pipes had published together a joint article in the New Republic, expressing their approval of America’s support to the Iraqi regime in the face of the Iranian threat [17].

Germs Inside, Judith Miller’s book on bacteriological weapons.

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Germs Inside
Judith Miller’s book on bacteriological weapons.

Judith Miller and Laurie Mylroy will soon join the ranks of neo-conservative sympathizers on the war on terrorism currently being waged. Some weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Judith Miller did receive a letter carrying anthrax. Fortunately, she did not join the list of those who died, but that of the six survivors. Thanks to her brilliant previous work warning the public about the Islamic danger that Bin Laden posed, she convinces her fellow citizens that the contaminated letter sent to her is Al-Qaeda’s revenge. She then states: «I was no longer covering the news. I was the news» [18]. Statement that is immediately confirmed by the Secretary of Justice John Ashcroft, thus provoking a global psychosis that will justify the invasion of Afghanistan [19].

Laurie Mylroy is a member of the American Enterprise Institute, one of the most important neo-conservative think-tank. She is the editor of the Iraq News brief page and has taught at the U.S. Naval War College. Richard Perle, James Woolsey -former CIA director- and Christopher Hitchens, a «leftist writer» currently closely linked to Paul Wolfowitz [20] are among her «admirers».

The three of them passionately defended her last book Bush vs. The Beltway, a pamphlet accusing the CIA of trying everything to sabotage the Bush Administration media campaign on Iraq [21]. In a vague theory Laurie Mylroy holds Saddam Hussein responsible for the attack against the World Trade Center in 1993. [22].

She also follows very closely the thesis of reporter Jayna Davis, who also holds the Iraqi regime responsible for the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City [23]. According to her and to Woolsey, George W. Bush should have used these elements.

Consequently, it is quite natural for Laurie Mylroy and her friend Judith Miller to become clients of the Eleana Benador Public Relations Office, representing those personalities in favor of the war, guaranteeing their appearance on television before the beginning of the offensive against Iraq [24].

After seeing the credentials of these reporters, one wonders if the White House and the Pentagon still need spokespersons or a disinformation machinery. In France, some researchers have dared question certain reporters on the basis of their relation with intelligence services, particularly in the case of Rwanda.

Some of these reporters worked, in fact, in the editorials of newspapers of reference, like Le Monde or Libération. This phenomenon acquires new dimensions in the face of the manipulations that the New York Times has become an accomplice to. This is, in fact, the most influential international newspaper, as besides its American edition, it publishes several versions for foreign readers, like the International Herald Tribune in Europe and the Daily Star in the Middle East.

It also publishes supplements for other journals as strict on reliable information as itself, like Le Monde. In France, among others.

[1] Sea monster described in the Book of Job, in the Old Testament, and understood by the Holy Fathers as a demon or enemy of the souls, in the moral sense. Spanish Language Dictionary

[2] «Dévoiler le Léviathan» text in French, Information briefs in Voltaire Network, January 1st., 2001

[3] «Now they tell us», by Michael Massing, New York Review of Books, February 26, 2004

[4] On the new lexicon of the war, see L’Opinion, ça se travaille... «Les médias et les "guerres justes"» - du Kosovo à l’Afghanistan, by Serge Halimi and Dominique Vidal, Agone, 2002

[5] «Bush Aides Set Strategy to Sell Policy on Iraq», by Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times, September 7, 2002

[6] «Vice President Speaks at VFW 103rd National Convention», August 2002

[7] «U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts», by Michael R. Gordon and Judith Miller, The New York Times, September 7, 2002

[8] Une Guerre», by Dominique Lorentz, Les Arènes, 1997

[9] «Intra-Times Battle Over Iraqi Weapons», by Howard Kurtz, Washington Post, May 26, 2003

[10] «Selective Intelligence», by Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker, May 6, 2003

[11] «Cheney’s Long Path to War», by Mark Hosenball, Michael Isikoff and Evan Thomas, Newsweek, November 17, 2003.

[12] «The Times Scoops That Melted», by Jack Shafer, Slate, July 25, 2003

[13] «The Times Scoops That Melted», op.cit

[14] Details about the team in the Bush Administration and the Pentagon are described in «Le dispositif Cheney» by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire, February 6, 2004. Text in French. Soon to be published in Spanish in Voltaire Network

[15] «Disinforming the World on Libya», by Bill Schaap, Covert Action Quarterly, Summer 1988

[16] «Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf», Daniel Pipes, Orbis, Spring 1991

[17] Weapons of Mass Deception, by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, Tarcher / l Penguin Publishers, 2003

[18] «The functioning of US media is disturbed» by Anthrax alerts and security measures by Annick Cojean, the French daily Le Monde, October 19, 2001

[19] Judith Miller has just published a book on reactivating the US bacteriological program since 1997: «Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War», by Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg and William Broad, French Publisher Fayard, 2001. The book will have a great success in the wake of the Anthrax Psychosis. On the other hand, an analysis of the white powder contained in the letter sent to Judith Miller revealed that it was not the coal bacillus

[20] «The Neocons’ New Enemy: The CIA», by David Corn, Los Angeles Weekly, September 4, 2003

[21] Neo-conservative’s distrust of the CIA is nothing new. Under President Ford, attacks on the CIA increased, accused of underestimating the Soviet threat. This campaign led to the appointment of George H. W. Bush to head US intelligence. See «Washington’s manipulators», by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire, January 11, 2005

[22] Laurie Milroy developed that thesis in a work entitled “Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein’s Unfinished War Against America”, published in 2000 by the American Enterprise Institute, text in French

[23] See the article «The Iraq Connection», by Micah Morrison, Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2002 and «Une dissidence terroriste au cœur de l’appareil militaire atlantiste», by Thierry Meyssan, September 27, 2001

[24] According to Weapons of Mass Deception, the clients of Benador enjoyed an exceptional media cover. Not only did they appear in ABC, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News but they also published books and articles, were taken as witnesses before Congress Committee and were invited to many private lunches in Washington