Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.

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.


More articles by:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
Marvin Kitman
The Kitman Plan for Peace in the Middle East: Two Proposals
Weekend Edition
October 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
My History with Alexander Cockburn and The Financial Future of CounterPunch
Paul Street
For Popular Sovereignty, Beyond Absurdity
Nick Pemberton
The Colonial Pantsuit: What We Didn’t Want to Know About Africa
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Summer of No Return
Jeff Halper
Choices Made: From Zionist Settler Colonialism to Decolonization
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Incident: Trump’s Special Relationship With the Saudi Monarchy
Andrew Levine
Democrats: Boost, Knock, Enthuse
Barbara Kantz
The Deportation Crisis: Report From Long Island
Doug Johnson
Nate Silver and 538’s Measurable 3.5% Democratic Bias and the 2018 House Race
Gwen Carr
This Stops Today: Seeking Justice for My Son Eric Garner
Robert Hunziker
Peak Carbon Emissions By 2020, or Else!
Arshad Khan
Is There Hope on a World Warming at 1.5 Degrees Celsius?
David Rosen
Packing the Supreme Court in the 21stCentury
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Threats of Death and Destruction
Joel A. Harrison
The Case for a Non-Profit Single-Payer Healthcare System