Exclusive: The U.S. government and the mainstream media rushed to judgment again, blaming the Syrian government for a new poison-gas attack and ignoring other possibilities, reports Robert Parry.
With the latest hasty judgment about Tuesday’s poison-gas deaths in a rebel-held area of northern Syria, the mainstream U.S. news media once more reveals itself to be a threat to responsible journalism and to the future of humanity. Again, we see the troubling pattern of verdict first, investigation later, even when that behavior can lead to a dangerous war escalation and many more deaths.
Before a careful evaluation of the evidence about Tuesday’s tragedy was possible, The New York Times and other major U.S. news outlets had pinned the blame for the scores of dead on the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. That revived demands that the U.S. and other nations establish a “no-fly zone” over Syria, which would amount to launching another “regime change” war and would put America into a likely hot war with nuclear-armed Russia.
Even as basic facts were still being assembled about Tuesday’s incident, we, the public, were prepped to disbelieve the Syrian government’s response that the poison gas may have come from rebel stockpiles that could have been released either accidentally or intentionally causing the civilian deaths in a town in Idlib Province.
One possible scenario was that Syrian warplanes bombed a rebel weapons depot where the poison gas was stored, causing the containers to rupture. Another possibility was a staged event by increasingly desperate Al Qaeda jihadists who are known for their disregard for innocent human life.
While it’s hard to know at this early stage what’s true and what’s not, these alternative explanations, I’m told, are being seriously examined by U.S. intelligence. One source cited the possibility that Turkey had supplied the rebels with the poison gas (the exact type still not determined) for potential use against Kurdish forces operating in northern Syria near the Turkish border or for a terror attack in a government-controlled city like the capital of Damascus.
Reporting by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh and statements by some Turkish police and opposition politicians linked Turkish intelligence and Al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists to the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack outside Damascus that killed hundreds, although the Times and other major U.S. news outlets continue to blame that incident on Assad’s regime.
On Tuesday, the Times assigned two of its most committed anti-Syrian-government propagandists to cover the Syrian poison-gas story, Michael B. Gordon and Anne Barnard.
Gordon has been at the front lines of the neocon “regime change” strategies for years. He co-authored the Times’ infamous aluminum tube story of Sept. 8, 2002, which relied on U.S. government sources and Iraqi defectors to frighten Americans with images of “mushroom clouds” if they didn’t support President George W. Bush’s upcoming invasion of Iraq. The timing played perfectly into the administration’s advertising “rollout” for the Iraq War.
Of course, the story turned out to be false and to have unfairly downplayed skeptics of the claim that the aluminum tubes were for nuclear centrifuges, when the aluminum tubes actually were meant for artillery. But the article provided a great impetus toward the Iraq War, which ended up killing nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
Gordon’s co-author, Judith Miller, became the only U.S. journalist known to have lost a job over the reckless and shoddy reporting that contributed to the Iraq disaster. For his part, Gordon continued serving as a respected Pentagon correspondent.
Gordon’s name also showed up in a supporting role on the Times’ botched “vector analysis,” which supposedly proved that the Syrian military was responsible for the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin-gas attack. The “vector analysis” story of Sept. 17, 2013, traced the flight paths of two rockets, recovered in suburbs of Damascus back to a Syrian military base 9.5 kilometers away.
The article became the “slam-dunk” evidence that the Syrian government was lying when it denied launching the sarin attack. However, like the aluminum tube story, the Times’ ”vector analysis” ignored contrary evidence, such as the unreliability of one azimuth from a rocket that landed in Moadamiya because it had struck a building in its descent. That rocket also was found to contain no sarin, so it’s inclusion in the vectoring of two sarin-laden rockets made no sense.
But the Times’ story ultimately fell apart when rocket scientists analyzed the one sarin-laden rocket that had landed in the Zamalka area and determined that it had a maximum range of about two kilometers, meaning that it could not have originated from the Syrian military base. C.J. Chivers, one of the co-authors of the article, waited until Dec. 28, 2013, to publish a halfhearted semi-retraction. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Backs Off Its Syria-Sarin Analysis.”]
Gordon was a co-author of another bogus Times’ front-page story on April 21, 2014, when the State Department and the Ukrainian government fed the Times two photographs that supposedly proved that a group of Russian soldiers – first photographed in Russia – had entered Ukraine, where they were photographed again.
However, two days later, Gordon was forced to pen a retraction because it turned out that both photos had been shot inside Ukraine, destroying the story’s premise. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Retracts Russian-Photo Scoop.”]
Gordon perhaps personifies better than anyone how mainstream journalism works. If you publish false stories that fit with the Establishment’s narratives, your job is safe even if the stories blow up in your face. However, if you go against the grain – and if someone important raises a question about your story – you can easily find yourself out on the street even if your story is correct.
No Skepticism Allowed
Anne Barnard, Gordon’s co-author on Tuesday’s Syrian poison-gas story, has consistently reported on the Syrian conflict as if she were a press agent for the rebels, playing up their anti-government claims even when there’s no evidence.
For instance, on June 2, 2015, Barnard, who is based in Beirut, Lebanon, authored a front-page story that pushed the rebels’ propaganda theme that the Syrian government was somehow in cahoots with the Islamic State though even the U.S. State Department acknowledged that it had no confirmation of the rebels’ claims.
When Gordon and Barnard teamed up to report on the latest Syrian tragedy, they again showed no skepticism about early U.S. government and Syrian rebel claims that the Syrian military was responsible for intentionally deploying poison gas.
Perhaps for the first time, The New York Times cited President Trump as a reliable source because he and his press secretary were saying what the Times wanted to hear – that Assad must be guilty.
Gordon and Barnard also cited the controversial White Helmets, the rebels’ Western-financed civil defense group that has worked in close proximity with Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and has come under suspicion of staging heroic “rescues” but is nevertheless treated as a fount of truth-telling by the mainstream U.S. news media.
In early online versions of the Times’ story, a reaction from the Syrian military was buried deep in the article around the 27th paragraph, noting: “The government denies that it has used chemical weapons, arguing that insurgents and Islamic State fighters use toxins to frame the government or that the attacks are staged.”
The following paragraph mentioned the possibility that a Syrian bombing raid had struck a rebel warehouse where poison-gas was stored, thus releasing it unintentionally.
But the placement of the response was a clear message that the Times disbelieved whatever the Assad government said. At least in the version of the story that appeared in the morning newspaper, a government statement was moved up to the sixth paragraph although still surrounded by comments meant to signal the Times’ acceptance of the rebel version.
After noting the Assad government’s denial, Gordon and Barnard added, “But only the Syrian military had the ability and the motive to carry out an aerial attack like the one that struck the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun.”
But they again ignored the alternative possibilities. One was that a bombing raid ruptured containers for chemicals that the rebels were planning to use in some future attack, and the other was that Al Qaeda’s jihadists staged the incident to elicit precisely the international outrage directed at Assad as has occurred.
Gordon and Barnard also could be wrong about Assad being the only one with a motive to deploy poison gas. Since Assad’s forces have gained a decisive upper-hand over the rebels, why would he risk stirring up international outrage at this juncture? On the other hand, the desperate rebels might view the horrific scenes from the chemical-weapons deployment as a last-minute game-changer.
Pressure to Prejudge
None of this means that Assad’s forces are innocent, but a serious investigation ascertains the facts and then reaches a conclusion, not the other way around.
However, to suggest these other possibilities will, I suppose, draw the usual accusations about “Assad apologist,” but refusing to prejudge an investigation is what journalism is supposed to be about.
The Times, however, apparently has no concern anymore for letting the facts be assembled and then letting them speak for themselves. The Times weighed in on Wednesday with an editorial entitled “A New Level of Depravity From Mr. Assad.”
Another problem with the behavior of the Times and the mainstream media is that by jumping to a conclusion they pressure other important people to join in the condemnations and that, in turn, can prejudice the investigation while also generating a dangerous momentum toward war.
Once the political leadership pronounces judgment, it becomes career-threatening for lower-level officials to disagree with those conclusions. We’ve seen that already with how United Nations investigators accepted rebel claims about the Syrian government’s use of chlorine gas, a set of accusations that the Times and other media now report simply as flat-fact.
Yet, the claims about the Syrian military mixing in canisters of chlorine in supposed “barrel bombs” make little sense because chlorine deployed in that fashion is ineffective as a lethal weapon but it has become an important element of the rebels’ propaganda campaign.
U.N. investigators, who were under intense pressure from the United States and Western nations to give them something to use against Assad, did support rebel claims about the government using chlorine in a couple of cases, but the investigators also received testimony from residents in one area who described the staging of a chlorine attack for propaganda purposes.
One might have thought that the evidence of one staged attack would have increased skepticism about the other incidents, but the U.N. investigators apparently understood what was good for their careers, so they endorsed a couple of other alleged cases despite their inability to conduct a field investigation. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “UN Team Heard Claims of Staged Chemical Attacks.”]
Now, that dubious U.N. report is being leveraged into this new incident, one opportunistic finding used to justify another. But the pressing question now is: Have the American people come to understand enough about “psychological operations” and “strategic communications” that they will finally show the skepticism that no longer exists in the major U.S. news media?
About the author:
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Source: Consortium News
The role of Jewish figures and that of the State of Israel in the Ukrainian crisis has not gone unnoticed considering that this community represents less than 1 percent of the population. However, a secret report in the hands of the Netanyahu administration confirms that Ashkenazi Jews do not originate from the Levant, but are the descendants of the Khazars. This little-known population founded a Jewish empire in the tenth century on the banks of the Black Sea. Therefore, some Zionists see in Ukraine a possible second Israel.
The Times of Israel, an independent Israeli newspaper that counts among its staff ...
Why has Barack Obama airdropped 50 tons of ammunition into areas that “moderate rebels” in Syria supposedly control? This is essentially the equivalent of poking the Russians directly in the eyes. Much of this ammunition will end up in the hands of those that the Russians are attempting to bomb into oblivion, and so to Russia it appears that we are attempting to make their job much harder. And of course the truth is that there aren’t really any “moderate rebels” in Syria at all. Nearly all of the groups that are fighting are made up primarily of radical jihadists ...
The world has suddenly realised that there is a “refugee crisis”. There are more refugees now than at any time since World War II. The number has grown three-fold since the end of 2001. The problem is treated as if it arose just recently, but it has been a long time coming. The pressure has been building and building until it has burst the dams of wilful ignorance.
Death and despair has migrated to the doorsteps of Europe. But tens of millions of people do not simply abandon home and native land for an insecure dangerous future of desperate struggle. The ...
Yet another scandal is exploding on the Internet. The administration of free encyclopedia Wikipedia removed an article by a Russian researcher, devoted to assessing the loss of US citizens as a result of the Great Depression of 1932-33. Outraged bloggers began mass distribution of articles in the Russian segment of the popular blogging service Live journal. The material led to heated debates, while the so-called historical flash mob continues.
Russian researcher Boris Borisov touched a really hot topic in his material on the estimated number of victims of the American Great Depression, which in turn, apparently caused a very strong reaction ...
It is not only American generals who are irresponsible and declare on the basis of no evidence whatsoever that “Russia is an existential threat to the United States” and also to the Baltic states, Poland, Georgia, Ukraine, and all of Europe. British generals also participate in the warmongering. UK retired general and former NATO commander Sir Richard Shirreff, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander in Europe until 2014, has just declared that nuclear war with Russia is “entirely possible” within the year. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3596977/The-outbreak-nuclear-war-year-West-Putin-entirely-plausible-says-former-NATO-chief-promoting-novel-2017-war-Russia.html
My loyal readers know that I, myself, have been warning for some time about the likelihood of nuclear war. ...
On December 31st, Josh Rogin of Bloomberg ‘News’ headlined “Inside Obama’s Secret Outreach to Russia,” and his opening sentence ‘reported’ on “the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown little interest in … halting his aggression in neighboring Ukraine.” That ‘reporter’ from Bloomberg ‘News’ was ‘reporting’ from only sources inside the U.S. Administration — only from individuals who are hired by and who represent Barack Obama, none who are hired by and who represent Obama’s enemy Vladimir Putin; and so the question naturally arises as to whether Rogin and Bloomberg ‘News’ are ‘reporting’ propaganda, or are they instead reporting ...
On July 9, 2006, the U.S. Army charged five US soldiers with the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi, and the murder of her parents and 5-year-old sister. This brutal and senseless war crime raises the issue of rape in war. The lynchpin of US propaganda and infowar spin is that Soviet troops raped German women when the Red Army took Berlin in 1945. This was meant to take away from the Russian military achievement in taking Berlin. The Russian soldiers were “rapists” while US soldiers were “liberators”, handing out chocolate bars, chewing gum, ...
I am now convinced that the Oligarchy that rules America intends to steal the presidential election. In the past, the oligarchs have not cared which candidate won as the oligarchs owned both. But they do not own Trump.
Most likely you are unaware of what Trump is telling people as the media does not report it. A person who speaks like this:
- is not endeared to the oligarchs.
Who are the oligarchs?
— Wall Street and the mega-banks too big to fail and their agent the Federal Reserve, a federal agency that put 5 banks ahead of millions of troubled American homeowners who ...
Chances are, if a story about Russia appears on the cover of a major Western magazine, it’s not good news. Most likely, there’s been an international scandal, a breakout of geopolitical tensions, the resumption of Cold War hostilities, or some nefarious Russian plot to bring the entire free world to its knees.
Russophobia — or the unnatural fear of Russia — generally leads magazine editors to choose the most over-the-top images to convey Russia as a backwards, clumsy, non-Western and aggressively malevolent power. Unfortunately, that’s led to a few rules of thumb for anyone trying to create a magazine cover featuring Russia. You can think ...
According to news reports and to this appeal by Kristoferis Voishka, the pro-American government installed in Lithuania is persecuting Lithuanians who dissent from the anti-Russian propaganda that is driving Washington’s NATO puppets to war with Russia. Unlike their puppet government, Lithuanians understand that war with Russia means that Lithuania on the front line will be utterly destroyed, a result that would not bother Washington in the least, just as Washington is undisturbed when its forces obliterate weddings, funerals, and children’s soccer games.
What is Lithuania? To Washington it is a nothing.
Kristoferis Voiska runs an alternative Internet news site in LIthuania. Not ...
Led by the US and NATO, the clash of imperialist powers accounts for the absence of stability not just in the Middle East and Africa, but also the Ukraine and parts of Asia. Behind the rhetoric of democracy, national security, and anti-terrorism there are direct diplomatic and indirect diplomatic efforts through government-financed and pro-business NGO’s. There are overt and covert military operations carried out by the US, EU, China, Russia and their less powerful allies motivated by aggressive intentions for spheres of influence and markets. Behind the “war on terror” and regional conflicts around the world rests the reality of ...
Hardly any knowledgeable person doubts that Zionist ideology is the purest form of racism. Zionism is Jewish disguised racism as a raison d’etat. Israel comes right after the U. S., as far as racism is concerned. That is why the U. S. donates to this racist regime $ 3.8 bn per year in order to keep this occupation regime going. Should anybody doubt the racism of the Israeli leadership, read the following article.
Racism among the Israeli leadership is legendary. It started out with the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, saying: “Spirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it ...
“Russia suspected of election scheme. U.S. probes plan to sow voter distrust.”
That’s the Washington Post page-one lead headline of September 6. Think about it. The election that Americans are suffering through, cringing in embarrassment, making them think of moving abroad, renouncing their citizenship; an election causing the Founding Fathers to throw up as they turn in their graves … this is because the Russian Devils are sowing voter distrust! Who knew?
But of course, that’s the way Commies are – Oh wait, I forgot, they’re no longer Commies. So what are they? Ah yes, they still have that awful old hangup so worthy ...
Wednesday, December 5, 2012, the Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha advocated granting Albanian citizenship to all Albanians, wherever they reside. This statement was made during a visit of the city of Vlora where the independence of the Albanian state was declared, only 100 years ago. At the time Albania had just liberated itself from Ottoman rule.
This declaration follows a separate statement, collective this time, that Sali Berisha had made with his Kosovar counterpart Hashim Thaci a few weeks ago, promising the union of all Albanians. The place was, I must say, well chosen since the vast majority of the inhabitants ...
When it comes to a few key indicators, Ireland, the UK, Canada and even Albania and Greece are surpassing America.
America is declining, in large and important measures, yet policymakers aren’t paying attention. So argues a new academic paper, pulling together previously published data.
America’s child poverty levels are worse than in any developed country anywhere, including Greece, devastated by a euro crisis, and eastern European nations such as Poland, Lithuania and Estonia.
Median adult wealth in the US ($39,000) is 27th globally, putting it behind Cyprus, Taiwan, and Ireland.
Even when “life satisfaction” is measured, America ranks #12, behind ...
Every day signs are looming larger than life as we know it in the wealthiest nation on earth that it’s about to crash and burn, forever changing not for the better. The latest wake-up call arrived in a Guardian article earlier this week. The story features a secret prison not unlike the CIA torture detention centers all over the world whereby the Chicago police hold rounded up US citizens for hours or days at a time for interrogation. The same internationally illegal roundups of suspected “potential terrorists” (which by latest Gestapo America standards can easily be you or me) that the CIA ...
In this exclusive interview, Prof Peter Kuznick speaks of: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagazaki; US crimes and lies behind the Vietnam war, and what was really behind that inhumane invasion; why the US engaged a Cold War with the Soviet Union, and how that war and the mainstream media influences the world today; the interests behind the assassinations of President Kennedy; US imperialism towards Latin America, during the Cold War and today, under the false premise of War on Terror and War on Drugs.
Edu Montesanti: Professor Peter Kuznick, thank you so very much for granting me this interview. In ...
What do Hillary Clinton and the communist government of China have in common? Aside from their shared support for subverting freedom, lack of respect for human rights, and support of invasive surveillance, they both possess armies of trolls who manipulate online narratives.
According to a new report from researchers at Harvard’s Department of Government, the Chinese government employs millions of people to make posts praising government on their behalf. The internet mercenaries are deemed, collectively, “The 50 Cent Party,” because of rumors they are paid per post (the report concluded they do not appeared to be paid and most are government employees ...
The term “russophobia” (the hatred and/or fear of things Russian) has become rather popular in the recent years, courtesy of the anti-Russian hysteria of the AngloZionist Empire, but this is hardly a new concept. In his seminal book “Russie-Occident – une guerre de mille ans: La russophobie de Charlemagne à la Crise Ukrainienne” (“The West vs Russia – a thousand year long war: russophobia from Charlemange to the Ukrainian Crisis”) which I recently reviewed here, Guy Mettan places the roots of russophobia as early as the times of Charlemagne. How could that be? That would mean that russophobia predates the ...
Israel’s Secret Plan For A “Second Israel” In Ukraine
Is Barack Obama Actually Trying To Start World War III?
The Refugee Crisis And The New Holocaust
Holodomor in the United States
Can Russia Survive Washington’s Attack?
Barack Obama Versus Vladimir Putin: How Bloomberg ‘News’ Lies
Rape and War: The US Experience
The Failure Of US Democracy
Russophobia And The Dark Art Of Anti-Russian Magazine Covers
Lithuanians Under Police State Attack And The World Under Washington’s Attack
Clash Of Imperialists: 21st Century Competition And Confrontation By The Great Powers
Cold War, Today, Tomorrow, Every Day Till the End of the World
Greater Albania: A United States project against the Orthodox world?
12 Signs America Is On The Decline
Totalitarian Rule In America: False Flags, Secret Prisons, Extrajudicial Assassinations, Media Censorship, The Rounding Up Of Alleged “Terrorists” …
The Untold History Of U.S. War Crimes
Difference Between Iran and the USA
What Hillary Clinton Has in Common With Communist China
The Ancient Spiritual Roots Of Russophobia