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June 01, 2004
Judith Miller's history as a Propgandist



Judith Miller's history as a Propgandist
By Francois Costes

Judith Miller is one of the [New York Times]'s most senior journalists. A Pulitzer Prize winning writer and regarded expert on Middle East issues and WMD, Miller has written extensively on Osama Bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network. In the run-up to the Iraq war, Miller became a key reporter on that country's supposedly documented WMD's. She wrote many articles relayed around the globe on the Bush administration's doomsday reading of Saddam's regime. She painted a terrifying picture of his arsenal with apparently sound intelligence sources to back her claims. [...] Who is Judith Miller? According to a report in Editor and Publisher by William E. Jackson Jr., she is "not a neutral, nor an objective journalist": "This can be acceptable, if you're a great reporter, 'but she ain't, and that's why she's a propagandist,' stated on old New York Times hand..." Regarded as a neo-conservative with a deep sympathy for the Bush administration's agenda and a vocal supporter of Saddam's overthrow, Miller has close links with the pro-Israeli camp, some of whom have channelled Israeli intelligence through her work. [...] Miller's reporting on Iraq's WMD was constantly flawed and yet her senior editors gave her carte blanche to continue being the main conduit through which these serious issues were covered in the NYTimes.

Antony Loewenstein
"Engineering consent: The New York Times' role in promoting war on Iraq" The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
March 23, 2004

Amy Goodman: Well, I wanted to ask you about - you might have heard about Judith Miller's report in the New York Times, saying a former Iraqi scientist has told a US military team that Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began and also said Iraq secretly sent unconventional weapons and technology to Syria starting in the 80's and that more recently...

Robert Fisk: How amazing....how amazing...how very fortunate that that special report should come out now. Listen, every time I read Judith Miller in the New York Times, I nod sagely and smile. That's all I'm going to say to you, Amy. I'm sorry. Don't ask me to even comment upon it. It's not a serious issue.

Any Goodman Interviews Robert Fisk on Democracy Now
April 24, 2003

We don't have full 20/20 hindsight yet, but we do know for certain that all the sensational disclosures in Miller's major stories between late 2001 and early summer, 2003, promoted disingenuous lies. There were no secret biolabs under Saddam's palaces; no nuclear factories across Iraq secretly working at full tilt. A huge percentage of what Miller wrote was garbage, garbage that powered the Bush administration's propaganda drive towards invasion. [...] The knives are certainly out for Miller. Leaked internal email traffic disclosed Miller's self-confessed reliance on Ahmad Chalabi, a leading Iraqi exile with every motive to produce imaginative defectors eager to testify about Saddam's biowar, chemical and nuclear arsenal.

Alexander Cockburn
"Judy Miller's War"
August 18, 2003

You know it's boffo journalism when it's trumpeted by Rush Limbaugh for over nine minutes of airtime as "a big, huge, very important story," is reprinted from Dayton to Denver, inflames the cable chatterers, generates follow-up stories by Reuters, AP, and Agence France-Presse, gets ripped twice by Jack Shafer in Slate and also lands the reporter on PBS' NewsHour. And why not, for Judith Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter and best- selling author whose Times' front-page article offered the strongest assertion to date regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? It also offered wildly unsubstantiated claims regarding Iraq's alleged WMD aid to both Syria and Al-Qaeda. [...] While Miller's article has certainly received wide notice, what's less well known is her formal link to the Middle East Forum, a hawkish, political pressure group that advocates using U.S. military force if necessary to oust Syria from Lebanon. Followers of the Iraq WMD debate know of the Iraqi "scientist" at the heart of Miller's article, the man who favors "nondescript clothes and a baseball cap." Prohibited from interviewing him, Miller based her account entirely on what this individual told U.S. military officers who then "X to Y to Z" told Miller what he'd said. Had it appeared on some fringe web site, the piece might be dismissed as not meeting the smell test, or as at least as being premature. [...] Miller herself appeared on the PBS NewsHour the day after her article appeared and, asked about any proof of WMD, referred immediately to "something more than a smoking gun," in short: "a silver bullet." The metaphors proliferated as the proof evaporated. [...] The Middle East Forum [is] run by the controversial Daniel Pipes, who has been in the news of late as a Bush nominee to the congressionally chartered U.S. Institute of Peace. A non-profit, the forum was founded in 1994. The forum's website, describing its mission statement, declares that it "seeks to help shape the intellectual climate in which U.S. foreign policy is made." It also "urges active measures to protect Americans and their allies." It "believes in strong ties with Israel and Turkey." It "strives to weaken the forces of religious radicals; seeks a stable supply and a low price of oil" [...] Asked twice whether some might view Miller's association with the forum as perhaps coloring her objectivity reporting on the Middle East, Pipes declined to answer and hung up. Called back and asked again about any possible taint on Miller's objectivity, he said, "I'm declining to answer." He said, "maybe and maybe not," when asked whether the question had been raised with him before. Asked whether he had ever discussed it with anyone at The Times, he said, "perhaps and perhaps not." Pipes added, "All this is none of your business, whether we paid her or not. "Did I call you up and ask about your business?" Asked about his U.S. Institute of Peace nomination, Pipes hung-up a second time. Neither Times' Executive Editor Howell Raines nor Foreign Editor Roger Cohen responded to requests for comment regarding Miller and the forum. A Times foreign desk staffer agreed to forward an e-mail with questions on the matter to Miller. Both this e-mailed set of questions and two e-mailed queries sent to an address the forum lists for Miller received no reply. She is currently in Iraq and no attempts were made to reach her there by phone. Times' vice president of corporate communications, Catherine Mathis, provided a statement: "Our staff members are free to make guest-speaker appearances of a variety of kinds and there is no indication of any type of staff relationship with the forum." Mathis refused to address any questions, including any regarding the propriety of Miller being a forum expert or any perceived taint to her objectivity. The Times' own ethics guidelines does address the matter, though, in a chapter on "Participation in Public Life." It states, "Journalists have no place on the playing fields of politics." This is so as to not "do anything that damages The Times' reputation for strict neutrality in reporting on politics and government." Another prohibition says staffers may not "lend their name to campaigns … if doing so might reasonably raise doubts about their ability or The Times' ability to function as neutral observers in covering the news." Whether paid or not, the rules continue, staffers "may not join boards of trustees, advisory committees or similar groups" except those pertaining to journalism. An exception is granted for such organizations as hobby groups, fine arts groups and youth sports, that is, organizations "that do not generally seek to shape public policy." But shaping public policy, of course, is the forum's raison d'etre. [...] Miller also at one point had a professional link to publicist and lecture agent Eleana Benador, who, according to The New York Observer, also once represented the Middle East Forum. [...] Miller's link to Benador is of interest since, as Benador's website indicates, she represents the cream of the war-in-Iraq crop of pundits and speakers, including Richard Perle, James Woolsey and Martin Kramer, the editor of the forum's Middle East Quarterly. Another Benador client, the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Ledeen (he occupies the "Freedom Chair"), distinguished himself by his recent statement to Knight Ridder Newspapers that, "Americans believe that peace is normal, but that's not true. Life isn't like that. Peace is abnormal." In a recent National Review Online article, Ledeen wrote that Bush "must insist that we take the battle to the terror masters [in Iran and Syria], extend freedom throughout the region, and thereby win the war." [...]

Daniel Forbes
"Pulitzer Prize-Winning Reporter Crosses The NY Times' Line of 'Strict Neutrality'"
May 27, 2004

A terrible truth, still unacknowledged by the New York Times, is that the newspaper did not "fall for misinformation" as much as eagerly jump for it. And no amount of self- examination, genuine or otherwise, can possibly make up for the carnage in Iraq that the Times facilitated.

Norman Solomon
"How the Times Leaped for Lies"
"Major "Liberal" Outlets Clog Media Diets"
May 28, 2004

After months of criticism of The New York Times' coverage of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- mainly directed at star reporter Judith Miller -- the paper's editors, in an extraordinary note to readers this morning, finally tackled the subject, acknowledging it was "past time" they do so. [...] While it does not, in some ways, go nearly far enough, and is buried on Page A10, this low-key but scathing self-rebuke is nothing less than a primer on how not to do journalism, particularly if you are an enormously influential newspaper with a costly invasion of another nation at stake. [...] Nowhere in it, however, does the name of Judith Miller appear. [...] Yet nowhere does the Times suggest that it is penalizing any editors or reporters in any way. [...] In a note to [NYT Public Editor Daniel] Okrent in March, New York Times Executive Editor [Bill] Keller said he "did not see a prima facie case for recanting or repudiating the [WMD] stories." He called Miller "a smart, well- sourced, industrious and fearless reporter with a keen instinct for news, and an appetite for dauntingly hard subjects."

Greg Mitchell "The New York Times, in Editors' Note, Finds Much to Fault in its Iraq WMD Coverage"
May 26, 2004

You and the CIA both have your cute little mottos. "All the news that's fit to print," you mumble, behind a cough and a clenched fist, letting us know that you're not telling us everything. "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free," the CIA prophesizes, letting us know that despite all the hype, we haven't reached the mountaintop yet. That's right, we aren't free, and that's not why the terrorists hate us. But you and your chums in Israel and at the CIA, well, you are free, and the terrorists really do hate you. As the terrorists know quite well, the CIA discovers the secret truth, whispers it to its you, and you in turn censor or distort it so it becomes news that fits neatly into the warm quilt of lies that keeps you in control, and us in the dark. In this way you and the CIA and your co-conspirators in Israel confer upon yourselves the sort of divine omnipotence that witch doctors use in primitive cultures to rule over the uninitiated rabble. Sure, it's all smoke and mirrors, but it works, even though we know that you're pulling the wool over our eyes. [...] Who among you are in liaison with which CIA headquarters officials? How do you communicate with them, and decide which facts to release to the American public? Who at the Times knows the identity of the CIA's chief of station chief, chief of foreign intelligence, and chief of covert action in Iraq, and how do you communicate with them? How do you decide what to report about the CIA's organization and operations in Iraq, and how those operations affect the political process in America? Why are you allowed to know these CIA secrets, but not us? Do you sign non-disclosure statements and subject yourselves to the self-censoring restraints of acquiring security clearances in order to obtain this information? Do any CIA officers pose as New York Times reporters or officials? We know that Ahmed Chalabi worked for the CIA. Who was his CIA advisor, and did that CIA advisor talk with Judy Miller or someone else at the Times?

Douglas Valentine
"An Open Letter to the New York Times"
"Questions, Questions, Questions"
May 29 / 31, 2004

[Judith] Miller wrote or co-wrote [several articles], including a grotesque piece on December 20, 2001, in which she rolled out a liar called Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, who had poured into her delighted ear an account of how he'd worked on nuclear, biological and chemical war facilities "in underground wells, private villas and under the Saddam Hussein Hospital." "If verified," Miller wrote, al-Haideri's "allegations would provide ammunition to officials within the Bush administration who have been arguing that Mr. Hussein should be driven from power." Note the sedate phrase "if verified." It never was verified. Miller still had al-Haideri in play at the start of 2003. [...] She used him to launch an onslaught on Hans Blix and the UN inspectors. "Intelligence officials," she wrote, "said that some of the most valuable information has come from al-Haideri." [...] The [NYT] editors find no room to examine a story Miller wrote with Michael Gordon, another seasoned fabricator. Their September 8, 2002, article, "U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts," was mostly nonsense about those notorious aluminum tubes, though there was a cameo role for another defector, a rogue offered to readers under the pseudonym Ahmed al-Shemri, who is quoted saying Iraq was "developing, producing and storing chemical agents. 'All of Iraq is one large storage facility,' said Shemri. Asked about his allegations, US officials said they believed these reports were accurate." Then Miller and Gordon wrote some of the most brazenly misleading lines in the history of war propaganda: "After insisting that it had never weaponized bacteria or filled warheads, [Iraq] again belatedly acknowledged having done so after Hussein Kamel, Hussein's brother- in-law [sic], defected to Jordan with evidence about the scale of the germ warfare program." What's missing from this brisk evocation of Hussein Kamel's debriefings by the UNSCOM inspectors, the CIA and MI6 in the summer of 1995? Kamel told them all, with corroboration from aides who had also defected, that on Saddam Hussein's orders his son-in-law had destroyed all of Iraq's WMDs years earlier, right after the Gulf War. If Miller and Gordon cite some of the debrief, why not all? This brings us to the now popular scapegoat for the fictions about WMDs, touted by Times editors, by other reporters and by US intelligence agencies. It was all the fault of the smooth-tongued Ahmed Chalabi, now fallen from grace and stigmatized as a cat's-paw of Iranian intelligence. But was there ever a moment when Chalabi's motives and the defectors he efficiently mass-produced should not have been questioned by experienced reporters, editors and intelligence analysts? Furthermore, it wasn't all Chalabi's doing. We have yet to see an apology from The New Yorker for publishing Jeffrey Goldberg's carefully wrought fantasies about the supposed links between Saddam and Al Qaeda. These were among the most effective pieces of propaganda, widely flourished by the Bush Administration. Chalabi had nothing to do with that, nor with most of the "slam dunk" case on WMDs invoked by CIA Director [George] Tenet and dutifully parroted in the press. Oh, there's plenty more apologizing for the Times to do. I'm still waiting for NY Attorney General Elliott Spitz to charge the NYT with self-dealing, in Germs, coauthored by Miller and two other Times reporters, while simultaneously hyping in the paper germ stories written by Miller, including the mysterious envelope of white powder that put her in the headlines, then the book at number one in the bestseller list.

Alexander Cockburn "Modified Come Down at the New York Times"
"'Maybe We Did Screw Up...a Little'"
May 28, 2004

It's been a bad twelve months for American journalism. Given fourth estate gullibility re Bush's WMD claims, plus fictioneering at the New York Times and USA Today, I'd been hoping (with the dulled, hopeless hope that people on Death Row clutch to their bosoms) that maybe this year the Pulitzer Board would give its prizes a pass, at least so far as the press is concerned. But the Pulitzer industry, eternally clubby and corrupt, is designed in part to reassure the citizens that, all available evidence notwithstanding, the press is a vigilant watchdog for our liberties and fully deserves those Constitutional protections that guarantee it a 20 per cent rate of return on capital invested. People are dying in Fallujah and other towns across Iraq in part because the US press didn't do its job and mostly swallowed, hook, line, sinker, reel and rod, the WMD claims of Bush, Powell, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the others. Right now US forces, either in uniform or disguised as civilian contractors, are hunting for Sadr the Shia cleric on the grounds his newspaper is telling lies. There's an idea! Send the troops into the New York Times newsroom and arrest Judith Miller! Then run across town and arrest the editor of the New Yorker for printing Jeffrey Goldberg's endless fictions about the Saddam-Al Qaeda connection. The year after 9/11 they gave the New York Times seven Pulitzers, a ridiculous number. The Times's coverage was mostly maudlin tripe. The idea was to proclaim to the world that the Twin Towers may have fallen but New York City still could boast a titan to tell the tale. This year the Los Angeles Times scoops five, which is still ridiculous. I guess the idea was to distract attention from the New York Times' fall from grace by whooping up a new titan on the other end of the country.

Alexander Cockburn
CounterPunch Diary
April 7, 2004

This year [New York Times editorialist Thomas] Friedman, the Bullfrog of the Bubble, was given his third Pulitzer, possibly the most ludicrous decision in the long and infamous lifespan of the Pulitzer industry. Why did the Pulitzer board, over-ruling the various juries on at least two instances, decide to heap seven prizes on the Times last April? [...] So the function of those seven awards was to tell the world, See, we really do have a good newspaper. It must be good if it wins seven Pulitzer prizes. Trouble is, just like I said at the start, the Times is no good at all, if you want to find out what's going on.

Alexander Cockburn
"The NYT and the Pulitzer Industry"
July 31, 2002

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