Mailbag: New Republic and LA Times Disinformation Preceding the Iraq War

From Fair Harvard, a lengthy chronology of misdeeds and Tribune Company conspiracies:

To the editors:

The LA Times should be congratulated for publishing Cy Bolton’s Op Ed today. It was overdue. It is an unfortunate commentary on the editorial standards fostered by the Times under its new leadership at the Tribune Company, however, that Mr. Bolton’s article was required to correct James Kirchick’s offensively patronizing and demonstrably false article published by the Times on June 16. Mr. Kirchick’s premise, that “Bush Never Lied,” was so egregiously stupid that no respectable newspaper should have considered printing it. Perhaps the editors at the Times were given false reassurance by Mr. Kirchick’s position as an editor at the New Republic, which sometimes pretends not to be a mouthpiece for neoconservative views. It should be remembered, however, that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the New Republic that happily published such articles as “Blood Baath” by former CIA director James Woolsey (issue of 9/24/2001, Vol. 225, Issue 13), where we were offered claims like “the attacks--whether perpetrated by bin Laden and his associates or by others--were sponsored, supported, and perhaps even ordered by Saddam Hussein.” In recent years, the editors at the New Republic – particularly Peter Beinart -- have publicly recanted their role in fanning the war flames throughout 2002 and 2003. Because their support for the war was such a devastating embarrassment to the New Republic, and because their later recantation was so cynical and self-serving, it is very difficult to believe anything its editors say, especially when it comes to George Bush and the Iraq war. Mr. Kirchick’s article of the 16th sounds like a fantasy projected by someone who has spent the last 4 years trying to believe that his attempts to sell the American public on an illegal and disastrous war were the result of an honest mistake. If you substitute Mr. Kirchick’s own name and those of his fellow editors at the New Republic for that of George Bush, his article has some slight ring of truth. Otherwise, it’s worthless.

In any case, the Los Angeles Times would do well to heed the warnings contained in Mr. Bolton’s brief summary of the various forms of disinformation the Bush regime disseminated in the run-up to war. It is worth noting, for example, the close parallels between Rafid Ahmed Alwan (“Curveball”) and the man Italy’s intelligence services claimed was at the origin of the forged documents showing Iraq’s fictitious purchase of uranium from Niger. Much as the LA Times article of June 18 by John Goetz and Bob Drogin portray Curveball as a compulsive liar and cheat who just happened to fool the CIA, in 2002 Rocco Martino’s handlers at SISMI portrayed him as a “swindler” and “liar” whose bumbling accidentally fooled everyone, including analysts at the CIA. Reporters and editors at the LA Times would do well to take a page from reporters like Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe d’Avanzo, whose work carefully examined the web of falsehoods SISMI used to distance itself from the false information it disseminated through Rocco Martino in order to please the Bush administration. As it turns out, Rocco Martino was not a kooky swindler forging documents on his own, without the collusion of SISMI. Rocco Martino is a scapegoat, and his role as freelance document-forger was a clumsy piece of disinformation designed to hide the true involvement of the intelligence services of Italy, along with its allies in the Bush administration, in the run-up to war. The timing of the LA Times article revealing Curveball’s name, along with biographical details of his career as a petty con-man and swindler, should raise doubts in the mind of any informed reader about his alleged role in “fooling” the Bush administration into believing Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. It seems far more likely that “Curveball” is a creature of the Bush administration, a convenient scapegoat designed to hide the campaign of outright lies and manipulation the Bush regime used to sell their war to the American public.

Arriving as they did on the heels of the presentation of articles of impeachment against Bush by Dennis Kucinich, the articles by Mssrs. Kirchick, Goetz, and Drogin have created the unfavorable impression in my mind that the LA Times is now serving as a mouthpiece to the Bush regime’s ongoing campaign of disinformation concerning the lies they told in the run-up to war.

Perhaps I am just imagining things. But roughly, the plotline goes like this.

First, Bush lies about the reasons for going to war, in clear violation of international war crimes treaty to which the United States is a party, thereby subverting the Constitution, which easily meets the standards of high crimes and misdemeanors that would justify impeachment.

Second, Dennis Kucinich finally introduces articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives on the week of June 9th, in which he clearly lays out the lies Bush told in order to lead the nation into an illegal war.

Third, all the various mouthpieces of the Bush regime (and notably the ones that pretend to be "friendly" to liberals, like the New Republic) write articles about how ridiculous it is to believe that the Bush regime could have deliberately lied -- because of course all this stuff about WMD's was just an honest mistake, and only a scabrous knave with a lurid imagination could believe otherwise! The LA Times publishes an article to this effect by the editor of the New Republic on June 16th.

Fourth, and finally, the Bush Disinformation Service drags out its ace-in-the-hole, Curveball. Everyone has known since Der Spiegel’s March 22nd article (written by Mr. Goetz, among others) where Curveball is and what he’s been up to. Yet the LA Times waited until the week after Mr. Kucinich presented articles of impeachment accusing Bush of deliberately lying about the war to publish its “scoop” revealing the name of a compulsive liar and thief who worked at Burger King. Are we really supposed to believe this guy ever fooled anyone?

It is sad to consider that after all the criticism that has so justifiably rained down upon the national media for its role in selling Bush’s lies to the public in 2002 and 2003, nothing has really changed. I cannot help feeling that the LA Times's new owners at the Tribune Company have reduced a once-proud publication into a simpering mouthpiece for disinformation.


Shawn Gorman
Boston, MA

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