Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Judith Miller has reemerged to deposit another steaming, fragrant, neocon propaganda piece for the New York Times. This one concerns the beginnings of the propaganda build-up towards an American attack on Syria. John R. Bolton, under secretary of state for arms control, testified to a House hearing (the International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia) that Syria supports terrorist groups and has an ambitious program to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Some comments:

  1. Even amongst the neocons, who are a completely disgusting group of evil ideologues, Bolton stands out as perhaps the most offensive. He was sent by the Bush Administration to deal with North Korea, presumably in order to scupper any chance of a negotiated peace. At a critical point of the negotiations, he delivered a scathing personal attack on Kim Jong-il, leading the North Koreans to refuse to deal with him any more. They referred to him as a 'bloodsucker', and 'human scum', which surely is a grievous insult to scum everywhere. It is impossible to see Bolton's personal attacks on the North Korean leader exactly at the time of the most crucial negotiations by South Korea as anything other than the message of the Bush Administration that it wants a war with North Korea.

  2. Miller manages to write a whole article on Bolton's testimony without once mentioning the reason why it was delayed. The CIA, fresh from the embarrassment of having Tenet sit behind Powell while Powell lied to the United Nations about Iraq, thus tacitly putting a CIA imprimatur on statements the CIA knew to be wrong, refused to have the exact same thing happen when Bolton delivered his pack o' lies to the House hearing. Thus, Bolton's testimony, which was supposed to happen in July, was postponed until September. Miller is amazing (my emphasis):

    "Late last week, the testimony was cleared by the intelligence community and the White House."

    Do you think the 'intelligence community' still includes the CIA? If it doesn't, is the CIA supposed to stand by while people naturally assume that it does? Just what happened to the CIA concerns which were so important they delayed Bolton's testimony? She continues (my emphasis):

    "A copy of the public testimony, to the International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia, was provided to The New York Times by individuals who feel that the accusations against Syria have received insufficient attention."

    What the hell does that mean? Why would the New York Times have to have a copy of public testimony slipped to it by mysterious 'individuals'. What do you think the chances are that these individuals work for Cheney, perhaps even in the current manifestation of the Office of Special Plans? Isn't it amazing that Miller tips her hand here, expressly noting that the testimony was brought to her attention by those hoping she would spin it for them so bad things about Syria start to appear in the New York Times? Has she no shame at all?

  3. Seymour Hersh wrote a long article explaining how attempts by Syria to curry good relations with the United States have been consistently rebuffed by the Bush Administration (see also here). In what is increasingly looking like a pattern, American refusal to deal with Syria in a mature way has led to the CIA losing access to important Syrian intelligence information on Islamic terrorism. Again and again we see the Bushites justify their actions on the 'war on terror', while simultaneously taking steps which actually hurt their fighting the war on terror, all because they really want only to proceed with their hidden agendas. In this case, the hidden agenda is Israel, and the neocons refuse to deal with Syria unless it stops supporting Hezbollah, something Syria can't, and won't, do.

  4. Miller:

    "The testimony — some will be given in public, the rest in a closed briefing — pitted officials who wanted a much tougher critique of Syria against those who wished to encourage Syria to honor its pledges."

    In other words, she manages to misleadingly depict the scope of the debate as being between those who would like to start attacking Syria yesterday, and those who are prepared to wait a few weeks.

  5. Miller:

    "Tensions between Washington and Damascus have flared in recent months. As major combat operations in Iraq wound down, administration officials, including President Bush, suggested Syria was harboring Iraqi officials who had fled (an accusation Syria denied) and was allowing remnants of Saddam Hussein's government to hide major weapons in Syria. The United States Army wounded and took into custody five Syrian border guards in June when it attacked what American officials said was an Iraqi convoy near the border."

    Note that Miller manages to slide into her article allegations that Syria is sheltering Iraqi officials, and hiding Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, both staples of the Bush Administration propaganda campaign against Syria. There is not one shred of evidence for either allegation, and Miller's repeating them shows exactly where she is coming from. The American attack on Iraqis at the border with Syria, which actually involved Americans entering Syria and killing Syrians in Syria as the Americans claimed to be in 'hot pursuit' of Iraqi officials, was a complete disaster. It appears that the rumor that the Iraqi officials were fleeing to Syria may have been planted by the Israelis (or here) in order to lead the Americans to make this attack, hoping that the Syrians would retaliate and be drawn into war. The Syrians wisely didn't take the bait, and have tried to play the whole incident down (when Miller she says tensions 'have flared', she implies that this is the fault of something that Syria did, while in fact the Americans continue to take provoking actions at the border). In fact, it appears that there were no fleeing Saddam officials, and the Americans just managed to kill a bunch of Iraqi smugglers and some innocent people who had the misfortune to live near the border. The Pentagon is so embarrassed by the matter that it tried to downplay it. In another example of the art of the propagandist, Miller includes it in her article in a place which makes you think it supports the neocon allegations against Syria, when in fact it clearly does not.

  6. After regurgitating the lies of Bolton as a series of 'allegations', without the tiniest attempt to raise the slightest doubt about any of it, Miller/Bolton conclude with a tour de force of the art of propaganda (my emphasis):

    "The testimony also expresses concern about Syria's nuclear activities, noting that Russia and Syria 'have approved a draft program on cooperation on civil nuclear power,' expertise that could be applied to a weapons program."

    I guess Americans can expect those Syrian nukes to come raining down any time now! The extraordinary irony in all this is that the one country that does have nukes in the Middle East is behind all the neocon machinations.

  7. In the context of the current debacle in Iraq, where neocon lies led to an immoral and illegal attack on a sovereign country, an attack which has led to what may very well turn out to be the most costly mistake in American history, Bolton has a tremendous amount of nerve starting the same lying process in aid of war with respect to Syria (it's particularly funny that Bolton tells his lies about Syria at the same time that Rumsfeld finally admits he has no evidence for the lies told by the entire Bush Administration about the connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam: that lie has served its purpose in justifying the last war, while Bolton's new lies lead to the next war). Miller has even more nerve, given all the criticisms she has recently faced, of coming out with such a blatant pile of manipulation. I've said it before and I'll say it again: these people are insane. Do they really think the American people are so stupid that they would allow another war based on lies after the example of the disaster in Iraq? (Are the American people that stupid?)

The New York Times has done us all a great service by continuing to print the short stories of Judith Miller. Because she has been identified as a pure Pentagon political spinner, we can see immediately what the lies of the future are going to be, and how the American public is supposed to be spun. The tragedy of all this is that Syria, like Iraq, had established the basis of a secular society within the context of Islam, exactly what the United States should be encouraging (read this excellent sympathetic article on Syria's American problem; see also here). Neocon attacks will destroy this secularism, and lead to more Islamic fundamentalism in politics.