Tuesday, July 24, 2007
The NYT, Doing What It Does Best: "Covering" War
Mainstream media form the most important unit in the overall process of war-profiteering, because they act as the first and last line of cover for those in the government and beyond who are formulating and acting upon the most deplorable and unlawful of political and financial schemes. They're also the most efficient, effective, and reliable tool for procuring consent and marginalizing the opposition.
By coddling pro-status quo and pro-administration voices, and shunning or omitting popular dissent and common-but-inconvenient knowledge, the corporate-run media is able to portray majority sentiment as being un-American agitprop or even fringe conspiracy. In rare cases of obvious desperation, they will erase entire articles, reports, and poll results from the archive if the opinion or reality reflected is deemed too damaging to the mutual interests shared by the corporate owners of said media and the interventionist, war-profiteering elite among government entities.
In most cases, however, all the job calls for is nonchalant omission and misdirection. To wit, a July 23, New York Times report: "Eleven members of the Revolutionary Guards have been killed in clashes with drug smugglers in southeast Iran near the border with Pakistan . . . Nine others were wounded. The clashes occurred Thursday in a mountainous area in southeastern Sistan and Baluchestan Province after drug smugglers ambushed a group of Revolutionary Guards . . . The drug smugglers left without casualties, the [Fars News Agency] said."
Now, I can't speak for all average-IQ readers, but when an elite military unit is so thoroughly outdone ("shut out" 20–0) by a band of "drug smugglers," it could hardly be ascertained as being "clashes" or a simple "ambush". A well-orchestrated, well-rehearsed, surprise terror attack by a moderately-to-well-trained militia is more like it. The article's understatement, alone, doesn't necessarily constitute yellow journalism or hackery—at least not on the NYT's part; it's simply an example of relating excerpts of the news as it was reported by the original source. The article does, however, quote an Iranian source which, in the past, has provided ample fuel for anti-Ahmadinejad propaganda by way of lazy translations and paraphrasing represented as quotes.
The article goes on to state that the Revolutionary Guards "have been the target of attacks before. In February, a car loaded with explosives blew up in front of a bus carrying Revolutionary Guards, killing 11 and wounding 34. Iran has linked insecurity in the region to a militant Sunni group known as Jundallah, led by Abdolmalek Rigi. The authorities have said Mr. Rigi has links to Al Qaeda and is a drug trafficker."
Each of those points are true, or at least verifiable, on their own, but as a descriptive paragraph meant to give a contextual background to the story, it falls short of journalistic integrity and borders on fraud. By mentioning the February bus attack, then naming only Iran as an entity which "has linked insecurity in the region" to Jundallah, the article employs omission and misdirection, thereby misinforming the reader. The Pakistani militant group, Jundallah, actually claimed responsibility for the February attack and others acts of terror; that is an uncontroversial fact reported by mainstream news sites.  Furthermore, Sistan-Baluchestan is known to be Jundallah's stomping ground.  Therefore, Iran is not the only entity to have pointed the finger at Jundallah. Anyone who follows the news of the region closely enough would've come to the same conclusion; yet, the way it's constructed, the article's observation subtly reinforces the AIPAC-Bush Administration-Gulf allies campaign of egregiously isolating Iran. In a sublime way, the article reminds the reader that at least three fingers are always pointing back at Iran and justifiably so, without any examination into the justification or verity of such implications.
Another omission of note is the fact that Iran has actually gone further than just blaming Jundallah; it has taken the stance of holding the governments of the U.S. and Pakistan to ultimate account. And in my humble estimation, they are right to do so. Consider the U.S. government's relation to Jundallah, which, according to ABC News, via Another Day in the Empire, is "responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran [and] has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005." Jundallah, according to the April 3 report, "has taken responsibility for the deaths and kidnappings of more than a dozen Iranian soldiers and officials."
And on the Jundallah-US-Pakistan relationship, and the reference to "al-Qaeda," Kurt Nimmo further relates that the Jundallah members who were captured in Iran after the February bus bombing revealed that they had been trained for the mission at a secret Pakistanian location, and that back in 2003, "the CIA established 'secret bases' in Pakistan, ostensibly to hunt for the dead Osama bin Laden and his dour pranksters, that is to say patsies and mental deficients. Of course, his is but the latest effort in a long and sordid relationship between the CIA and ISI, stretching back into the 1980s when 'the ISI's Covert Action Division received training in the US and many covert action experts of the CIA were attached to the ISI to guide it in its operations against the Soviet troops by using the Afghan Mujahideen, Islamic fundamentalists of Pakistan and Arab volunteers,' according to B. Raman, writing for the South Asia Analysis Group. As we know, select members of the 'Islamic fundamentalists,' particularly the 'Arab volunteers,' later became 'al-Qaeda,' the CIA spawned terrorist group named after a Mujahideen database."
Now, I wouldn't expect the New York Times to reveal such an account of the contemporary historical record behind the story—or the notion that the word "al-Qaeda" could very easily be switched with "the CIA" or "US-sponsored militants/terrorists." In this day and age, unfortunately, such things seem to be the specialty of independent journalists and activist truthdiggers, not corporate-owned media (read: "fringe conspiracy" and "un-American agitprop"). Nevertheless, there should've been at least be a mention of Jundallah's ownership of responsibility for the attacks, and that elements within the U.S. government have been linked—directly or not, in one capacity or another, paper trail or none—to the group. At worst, the author could've then thrown in the obligatory "but the State Department denies the allegations."
Then again, whom do I kid? To do so would be to uncover or reinforce knowledge of U.S. government culpability in terrorism, and we can't have that—not at the newspaper with a rich history, dotted with the memories of Judith Miller and "Kid Glove Journalism on the NSA's Illegal Spying without warrants violating the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requiring them," as Stephen Lendman notes. Who would dare to taint the memory of how "The Times held off reporting the story for a year staying mute in deference to the Bush administration's request, then leaving out a full account of it when it finally did," and other red-letter moments in the life of the "newspaper of record"? Make no mistake. The New York Times has a rich history of war party coalescence and central cronyism to preserve,  and no measly, conscientious "journalist" is about to break that tradition.
Regardless, there is ample evidence of illegal U.S. support of U.S.-designated terrorists and other "extra-military" organizations inside Iran, Iraq, the United States, and elsewhere, as noted by this layman and countless writers, journalists, and publications of high standing.     And while this type of war party-friendly reporting is very troubling and frustrating, it is also typical among corporate media, and there are worse examples.  Any impactful voice of anti-administration or otherwise anti-status quo dissent attributed to the liberal bias detectable among journalists at The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere is certainly the exception; their perceived slant in "news" reporting rarely, if ever, runs counter to the sentiment and will of the editors and other pinstripes who—whether from behind a desk or from behind the curtain—control the flow.
True to form, the article closes with a completely unrelated account of perceivably barbaric excutions by the state of Iran: "In another development, judiciary authorities said 12 men were hanged in Evin prison on Sunday. . . ."
 AP Report: "Police, Insurgents Clash After Iran Bomb" cbsnews.com
 Gregory Elich: "Subverting Iran: Washington's Covert War inside Iran" globalresearch.ca
 Stephen Lendman: "Review of Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair's End Times" thepeoplesvoice.org
 David Edwards and Muriel Kane: "Hersh: Bush administration arranged support for militants attacking Lebanon" rawstory.com
 Seymour Hersh: "The Redirection" newyorker.com
 Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry: "Elliot Abrams’ uncivil war" conflictsforum.org
 Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane: "Escalation of US Iran military planning part of six-year Administration push" rawstory.com