The Press and Stephen Hadley

Last Sunday’s online newspapers brought a propaganda barrage from the highest levels of the US government. Reporters in Baghdad were shown a table full of weapons and told that this proved the Iranian government was supplying weapons to the resistance in Iraq. Three major US newspapers bought it. Los Angeles Times writer Tina Susman carried the story as “U. S. Military Tie Iran to Weapons Used in Iraq.” In the New York Times, the headline was “US Says Arms Link Iranians to Iraqi Shiites” in a story by James Glanz with help from Richard A. Oppel, Jr., Michael R. Gordon and Felicity Barringer. In the Washington Post, the headline was Military Ties Iran to Arms in Iraq in a story by Joshua Partlow with Dafna Linzer and Naseer Mehdawi. All three stories quote unnnamed Senior US Military Officials Reporters were not allowed to photograph or record anything. The entire briefing was based on anonymous sources.

In the Sunday stories, one of the few named sources is Stephen J. Hadley, National Security Advisor, who was quoted by Partlow in a recent meeting with reporters (i.e., probably not Sunday’s briefing in Baghdad) saying that the original media presentation had overstated the evidence against Iran and needed to be toned down.

Partlow tactfully omitted mention of Hadley’s record, which easily be found on the Internet. [1] Hadley is close to the neoconservatives (Tom Barry prefers the term “fire-tested Vulcan”). Hadley was an important figure during the run-up to war with Iraq, energetically promoting the false claim that Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger. Hadley also promoted the claim that 9/11 leader Mohammad Atta met with an Iraqi spy chief in Prague a few months before the 9/11 attacks. Hadley was undeterred by the minor fact that the Prague meeting never happened.

If we had an honest press in this country, the headine would read:

US Steps up Preparations for Attack on Iran
War on the Propaganda Front Intensifies.
Mainstream Media Falls for it Again.

In the run-up to the US attack and invasion of Iraq, the US mainstream media reported as actual fact the most preposterous pieces of wartime propaganda: Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, Saddam’s ties with the 9/11 hijackers etc. Now some of the same people are cranking up another propaganda campaign, this time for a U. S. attack on Iran.

In the run-up to war with Iraq, mainstream reporters who parroted the government propaganda line emerged unscathed when the government lies were eventually exposed. There was only one exception: New York Times reporter Judith Miller was forced out. But this is the exception that proves the rule: Miller’s colleague, Michael Gordon, a co-author on some of her worst propaganda pieces, stayed on at the NY Times. And Gordon is up to his old tricks, judging by this piece and others. Evidently, the alleged soul-searching at The New York Times following the Judith Miller fiasco has amounted to absolutely nothing.

The late, great Molly Ivins often assailed the mainstream media as a bunch of dummies. I respectfully disagree. Many reporters for the mainstream media are perfectly aware of what they are doing: the government (or at least a part of it) has made the decision to launch a war. The reporter’s job is to provide the pretext, and make the pretext sound plausible.

If part of the pretext is actually true, so much the better: It adds to the credibility.

In this case, Iran may very well be supplying weapons to some Iraqis. Iranians undoubtedly think it is in their national interest to prevent the US from integrating Iraq into the US empire again. Iran wants to avoid a repeat of the terrible period from 1980-1988, when Iraq attacked Iran and a very bloody war resulted, with the US backing Iraq under its client Saddam Hussein.

All the mainstream reporters in the Sunday papers proved very receptive to the underlying message: Iran is threatening US troops. This lays the groundwork for a future US attack on Iran justified by “exercising its inherent right of self-defense”. Nobody in the mainstream media notices that the US has invaded and occupied Iraq with 150,000 troops and another 100,000 “private contractors” (really mercenaries). That’s not self-defense. That’s aggression.


John Farley writes from Henderson, Nevada.