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A polio vaccination campaign worker was shot to death in Pakistan on Tuesday, which The New York Times wasted no time in reporting. What the Times article neglected to mention was that the killing followed a CIA operation in which agents orchestrated a fake vaccination program in order to gain entry to Osama Bin Laden’s home. (The plot was based on knowledge that health workers had previously managed to enter Bin Laden’s home to administer polio drops to the children.)
The importance of such background information apparently eluded the Times, whose motto is ‘All the News That’s Fit to Print’. It’s easy to see why the details of the CIA operation were unfit for print: first, it’s embarrassing to the U.S., which the paper is greatly biased toward; and second, Pakistan is an official enemy of the U.S., so it’s an exercise in patriotism to imply that Pakistan is home to Muslim extremists who don’t believe in vaccines or science, and therefore murder polio vaccine volunteers for sport. The nearest the Times article gets to mentioning the CIA’s bogus vaccine program is a vague reference to “the Pakistani Taliban, who have criticized vaccination efforts as a cover for Western espionage.” Not only does the NYT lack the integrity to recognize that “vaccination efforts” were in fact cover for Western espionage; they also imply that such notions are the result of some kind of sinister Taliban disinformation campaign.
Like some kind of Billy Mays infomercial—‘But wait, there’s more!’—the Times’ shameful coverage doesn’t end there. They go on to say that, “Also [in addition to the Taliban], religious extremists claim that the real aim of vaccination campaigns is to sterilize Pakistan’s Muslim population.” The implication is again that Pakistan is populated with menacing religious zealots whose fundamentalism stands in the way of scientific progress. Characterizations such as these conform very nicely to the view that clashes between the West (i.e. NATO) and the Middle East are not rooted in any sort of real economic or political grievances (e.g., the U.S.’ installation of dictators like the Shah in Iran; or the U.S.’ theft of oil resources), but rather “a clash of civilizations”, as Foreign Affairs once put it. The view that there are irrevocable religious differences between the West and the Middle East is very useful to Western leaders seeking to justify acts of aggression, like the invasion of Iraq.
The Times can’t plead ignorance of the CIA’s false vaccination program. Just last year they published an article titled, “C.I.A. Vaccine Ruse May Have Harmed the War on Polio.” How NYT’s own coverage didn’t figure into another article on essentially the same topic is a fine illustration of the establishment media’s studied obliviousness. And it’s not as though they were oblivious to some marginal issue with the vaccine story. As a recent article in Scientific American states, “the CIA’s fake vaccination campaign endangers us all” by impeding the distribution of polio vaccines. Incidentally, Pakistan is one of the last few countries on the planet in which Polio persists.
I’ll be generous with the Times and not fault them for overlooking the West’s—particularly the U.S. and Germany’s—past experimentation with eugenics, which would help explain the apparent superstition that vaccination campaigns might be sterilization campaigns in disguise. In fact, the U.S. was such a leading pioneer in eugenics practices, including forced sterilization, that Nazi Germany derived many of its eugenics projects from the U.S. So it shouldn’t be surprising that, following CIA involvement in vaccination campaigns, Pakistanis would be suspicious.
The cowardice of The New York Times is at times difficult to fathom. Another recent example of the paper’s servility to power would be its coverage of Obama’s speech about his terrorism policies. As Glenn Greenwald’s helpful article about the speech points out, the NYT’s response to it was posted online literally minutes after the speech ended. This means, of course, that they received a copy of it in advance. Small surprise that they gave the oration such an embarrassingly glowing review: wouldn’t want to bite the hand that’s feeding you advanced copies. What does surprise me is that the speech the Times chose to gush over was one that was designed to justify Obama’s unprecedented prosecution of journalists. Obama is selling the NYT the noose they’ll be hanged from, and the Times is only too thrilled to be buying it from such a swell guy.
Ken Klippenstein lives in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, where he edits the left issues journal, whiterosereader.org He can be reached at Reader246@gmail.com