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.
"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.
"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." [...]
"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.
"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."
"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?
"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.
"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.
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
"The NYT and the Pulitzer Industry"
July 31, 2002
Want to help spread quality independent journalism?
Donate to NileMedia and watch us grow.