“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”
– George W. Bush
Those in the U.S. who are enthralled by relentless reports of the most demonic acts attributed to President Vladimir Putin and the rebel Eastern Ukrainian federalists a in the NYT (New York Times), NPR, ETC. would do well to look at the track record of the “reporters” dishing out this stuff. What they will find is a trail of deception that is piled with corpses of hundreds of thousands of innocents.
Principle among the purveyors of these bloodletting falsehoods is Michael R. Gordon, chief military correspondent for the NYT, serving over the decades as a trusty pipeline from the Pentagon to you. Although his name should be in profound disrepute, many opposed to war are unaware of his ignoble career or may have forgotten it. Most notoriously he is the co-author with Judith Miller of the front page NYT article planted by Dick Cheney’s minions, which claimed that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), relying on the idea that aluminum tubing being purchased by Iraq was to be used for purifying uranium.
Here is a quick reminder of that sorry episode so typical for the NYT. That article, entitled “Threats and Responses: The Iraqis; U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest For A-Bomb Parts,” ran on page one of the NYT on Sunday, September 8, 2002. That same day, with the newsprint barely dry, Cheney popped up on Meet the Press citing the piece and claiming that Saddam Hussein was on his way to making nukes. Appearances on the other Sunday propaganda shows were made that same day by Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Meyers (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and Condoleeza Rice who employed the infamous phrase used by Miller and Gordon, declaring with a straight face, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” On October 11, 2002, with an election staring it in the face, the Congress voted authorization for Bush to go to war. (That Constitutional requirement was unceremoniously dropped when Obama decided to make war on Libya. At least Bush took the time to lie to Congress.) As we know all too well now, the entire aluminum tube story was a lie, as was obvious at the time to anyone who read the article with the slightest care and as the Department of Energy and Department of State knew well at the time, as was later disclosed.
But unlike Judith Miller the well connected Gordon escaped punishment for these criminal fictions. And so he went on to peddle ever more lies on Iraq, being the first “journalist” to be embedded with U.S. forces of aggression and later championing the “surge” of his buddy, that great military strategist and legendary lover, David Petraeus. That bit of his career was documented in considerable detail in 2007 by the late Alex Cockburn. Cockburn summed it up thus:
“Gordon managed to dodge the fall-out from the WMD debacle he played a major part in contriving. For example, he co-wrote with Miller the infamous aluminum tubes-for-nukes story of September 8, 2002, that mightily assisted the administration in its push to war. In the latter part of 2006 he became the prime journalistic agitator for escalation in troop strength.
“On September 11, 2006, the Times ran a Gordon story under the headline, ‘Grim Outlook Seen in West Iraq Without More Troops and Aid’. Gordon cited a senior officer in Iraq saying more American troops were necessary to stabilize Anbar. A story on October 22 emphasized that “the sectarian violence [in Baghdad] would be far worse if not for the American efforts” There were of course plenty of Iraqis and some Americans Gordon could also have found, eager to say the exact opposite.”
The next year, 2007, Gordon went on to join the journalistic chorus in its effort to finger Iran as the source of new, more lethal roadside bombs used in Iraq which were called EFP’s (Explosively Formed Penetrators). This was another piece of Cheney propaganda designed to help satisfy his itch to launch a war on Iran. It was quickly exposed by another Cockburn, Andrew, Antiwar.com’s Scott Horton and others. Fortunately this fiction thus exposed passed on quickly.
The point is that Gordon’s career has been not that of a reporter but a propagandist preparing us to accept the next moves of the U.S. Empire. So what is the intrepid Gordon up to these days? Unsurprisingly he is on the job covering the crisis in the Ukraine. He and the rest of the NYT are frantically peddling the wildest of lies about Ukraine, Russia and the ever evil Vlad. Here is a good example from the page one article by Gordon and others on July 18, entitled “U.S. Sees Evidence of Russian Links to Jet’s Downing.” It begins:
“The United States government has concluded that the passenger jet felled over Ukraine was shot down by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile launched from rebel-held territory and most likely provided by Russia to pro-Moscow separatists, officials said on Friday. While American officials are still investigating the chain of events leading to the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on Thursday, they pointed to a series of indicators of Russian involvement……” (Emphasis, jw)
Where is the evidence? The only evidence is that “officials said.” There is no indication of who the “officials” are or precisely what they said. Then there is the hedge phrase “most likely.” And finally Gordon and his co-authors tell us that the unnamed officials are “still investigating.” Finally although there is no conclusion, there are a “series of indicators.” (At the same time the Russian Ministry of Defense has released a lot of verifiable information on the incident, readily accessible on RT.com, whereas the U.S. has produced nothing other than some suspicious anecdotes on social media and a lot of speculation.) Not only should Gordon and his co-authors, Peter Baker and Mark Mazetti, the Judith Millers du jour, be summarily dismissed but also the “editors that let this trash appear as news rather than the unfounded propaganda that it is. (Mazetti and Baker should be leery of being Gordon’s accomplices. He may need a fall guy once again. Think Judith Miller, fellows.)
Let us turn to the notorious Miller and Gordon article of 2002 for comparison with Gordon’s piece on Ukraine. It begins:
“More than a decade after Saddam Hussein agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb, Bush administration officials said today. In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium. American officials said….” (Emphasis, jw)
Remarkable similarity! Cookie cutter prevarication, one might say. “American officials” are ever on the job and ever anonymous. And Michael R. Gordon is front and center on page one as their ever faithful, ever unquestioning transmission belt. No one can possibly think that Gordon is in the business of truth. We would be fools to believe a word he says. He fooled us once (in fact, many times). Shame on us if we let him fool us once again. His lies are laced with blood and death. We should avert our gaze from them.
John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com. He writes for CounterPunch.com, Antiwar.com and DissidentVoice.org.