The New York Times fabricates Russian murder plot


An ad asking automakers to place ads in Hearst chain, noting their circulation. PHOTO/Wikipedia

Not since William Randolph Hearst cabled his correspondent in Havana in 1898 with the message, “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war,” has a newspaper been so thoroughly identified with an effort to provoke an American war as the New York Times this week.

The difference—and there is a colossal one—is that Hearst was fanning the flames for the Spanish-American War, a comparatively minor conflict, the first venture by American imperialism to seize territory overseas, in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. The Times today is seeking to whip up a war fever directed against Russia, one that threatens to ignite a third world war fought with nuclear weapons.

There is not the slightest factual basis for the series of articles and commentaries published by the Times, beginning last Saturday, claiming that the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU, paid bounties to Taliban guerrillas to induce them to attack and kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. Not a single soldier out of the 31 Americans who have died in Afghanistan in 2019-2020 has been identified as a victim of the alleged scheme. No witnesses have been brought forward, no evidence produced.

The sole foundation of the reports in the Times, since reinforced by similar articles in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press, and accounts on cable and network television, are the unsupported, uncorroborated statements of unnamed intelligence officials. These officials give no proof of their claims about the operation of the supposed network of GRU agents—how the money came from Russia to Afghanistan, how the money was distributed to Taliban fighters, what actions the Taliban fighters carried out, what impact these actions had on any American military personnel.

Yet six days into this press campaign, there has been no acknowledgement in the “mainstream” corporate media that there is anything dubious or unsubstantiated about this narrative. Instead, the main focus has been to demand that the Trump administration explain when the president learned of the alleged Russian attack and what he proposes to do about it.

The Times reporters spearheading this campaign are not journalists in any real sense of the term. They are conduits, passing on material supplied to them by high-level operatives in the CIA and other intelligence agencies, repackaging it for public consumption and using their status as “reporters” to provide more credibility than would be given to a press release from Langley, Virginia. In other words, the CIA has provided the plot line, and the newspaper creates the narrative framework to sell it to the American people.

The Times and individual reporters like David Sanger and Eric Schmitt have a track record. The newspaper played a leading role in helping the Bush administration fabricate its case for war against Iraq in 2002-2003. It was not just the notorious Judith Miller, with her tall tales of aluminum tubes being used to build centrifuges as a step to an Iraqi atomic bomb. There was an entire chorus of falsification, in which Schmitt (January 21, 2001, “Iraq Rebuilt Bombed Arms Plants, Officials Say”) and Sanger (November 13, 2002, “U.S. Scoffs at Iraq Claim of No Weapons of Mass Destruction,” and December 6, 2002, “US Tells Iraq It Must Reveal Weapons Sites”) among many articles, played major roles.

In this week’s “Russian bounties” campaign, Schmitt and Sanger are at it again. A front-page article published Thursday under their joint byline carries the headline, “Trump’s New Russia Problem: Unread Intelligence and Missing Strategy.” This article is aimed at advancing the claim that Trump was negligent in responding to allegations against Russia, either being too lazy to read the President’s Daily Brief—a summary of world events and spy reports produced by the CIA—or choosing to ignore the report because of his supposed subservience to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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