Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Judith Miller and the Bloodbath in Iraq

Huffington Post
Joseph A. Palermo
Judith Miller and the Bloodbath in Iraq

W. Bush, New York, Syria, Scooter Libby, Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Baghdad

When Judith Miller appears on our TV screens milking her latest fifteen minutes of fame because she's a star witness in the Scooter Libby trial, we should be reminded that she, perhaps more than any other member of the press, greased the propaganda wheels in the lead up to the Iraq invasion.

In their infamous September 8, 2002, above the fold, front-page story in the New York Times, "U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts" -- the same story that Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney cited in their appearances that Sunday morning on the political talk shows, the reporters Judith Miller and Michael Gordon offered the following tidbits:

"Senior administration officials insist that the dimensions, specifications, and numbers of the tubes Iraq sought to buy show that they were intended for the nuclear program."

"Although administration officials say they have no proof that Baghdad possesses the smallpox virus, intelligence sources say they cannot rule that out."

"Still, Mr. Hussein's dogged insistence on pursuing his nuclear ambitions, along with what defectors described in interviews as Iraq's push to improve and expand Baghdad's chemical and biological arsenals, have brought Iraq and the United States to the brink of war."

And who could ever forget the coup de grace?

"The first sign of a 'smoking gun,' they argue, may be a mushroom cloud."

Judith Miller went on to write several more propaganda pieces for the Bush Administration doing everything in her "journalistic" power to sell her fellow citizens on the imminent threat posed by Saddam Hussein's WMDs, and the need for the United States to strike preemptively against the regime. She teamed up again with Gordon, who has become a darling on the television news circuit, to write the September 13, 2002 piece, "White House Lists Iraq Steps to Build Banned Weapons," which only expanded on their earlier falsehoods. Several members of Congress mentioned the story of the nuclear threat as a reason for voting to authorize the war.

On April 21, 2003, Judith Miller, now working as an embedded reporter with the U.S. military's MET Alpha, wrote the story, "Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi Scientist Is Said to Assert." In this piece of propaganda, Miller claims without evidence or proof that the Iraqis destroyed or shipped to Syria their vast stockpiles of WMDs. Miller's anonymous source was a guy claiming to be an "Iraqi scientist," and she tells her readers that she "was permitted to see him from a distance at the sites where he said that material from the arms program was buried. Clad in nondescript clothes and a baseball cap, he pointed to several spots in the sand where he said chemical precursors and other weapons material were buried."

This "Iraqi scientist," who turned out to be bogus, allowed Miller to appear on PBS's Newshour with Jim Lehrer and have the following exchange:

Q. Has the unit you've been traveling with found any proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

A. Judith Miller: Well, I think they found something more than a smoking gun. What they've found . . . is a silver bullet in the form of a person, an Iraqi individual, a scientist, as we've called him, who really worked on the programs, who knows them first hand.

Q. Does this confirm in a way the insistence coming from the U.S. government that after the war, various Iraqi tongues would loosen, and there might be people who would be willing to help?

A. Judith Miller: Yes, it clearly does. . . . That's what the Bush administration has finally done. They have changed the political environment, and they've enabled people like the scientists that MET Alpha has found to come forth.

But Miller kept on shilling for the Neo-Cons long after her role as an apparatchik in the Bush Administration's Propaganda Ministry had been exposed. On September 16, 2003, the New York Times ran yet another Miller story with the headline: "Senior U.S. Official To Level Weapons Charges Against Syria." The scoop was handed to her to create a buzz for the testimony to Congress the following day. The "senior official" was none other than the bellicose Neo-Con, John R. Bolton, who was then the undersecretary of state for arms control. Miller wrote that the leaked testimony came to her from "individuals who feel that the accusations against Syria have received insufficient attention." At a time when the Neo-Cons were riding high and hunting for fresh game, Miller offered her stenography services to them so they could vent their warmongering against Syria.

Judith Miller should be held accountable for serving as the chief stenographer for George W. Bush's lies that have produced the horror in Iraq. As the occupying power, the United States is responsible under international law for the civilian deaths and suffering in Iraq. Judith Miller shares this responsibility for the bloodbath in Iraq. At a critical time, Miller was in a unique position of influence in America because of her high perch at the nation's "paper of record," her perfectly timed repetition of official lies, and because it was her articles to which Bush, Cheney, and Rice pointed to give their own lies the credibility they needed to reverberate convincingly throughout our political discourse.