Friday, December 25, 2009

Michael Slackman: New York Times and other journalists have been lying to you

My jaw dropped. I was stunned by the first paragraph of a recent New York Times piece by Michael Slackman.
Until Iran’s current political crisis, Iranian experts largely agreed that the Islamic republic wanted to develop the capacity to build nuclear weapons, without actually producing them.
Really, Iranian experts have agreed all along that the conflict was not over weapons, but over capability, from before the crisis that began in June? Slackman and other reporters presumably knew about this consensus. Why have New York Times readers not known about this?

When Juan Cole wrote in October that Iran was seeking a "latent nuclear capacity", this was nearly the first wide-audience explanation of the concept I had come across. The New York Times was doing in October what it did this week in Alan Kuperman's op-ed, claimed that the issue in discussion is preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

I'm not surprised. I've known they were lying - being deliberately misleading. I've said they were lying. They have been careful usually to put the word "weapons" into quotes by someone - so the Times could pass a statement it knew not to be true to its readers but in the voice of someone other than its reporters. To carefully parse one's words to create a false impression while not making an outright false statement in one's own voice is not only lying, but even worse, the party that does it loses the ability to claim it was innocently reporting what it believed.

Now, according to Slackman, the Revolutionary Guards are becoming more powerful and they are more hard line than the clerics they are replacing in power. The Revolutionary Guards may well be more hard line, but how does that demonstrate that Iran wants a weapon now instead of a virtual weapon, that the New York Times has known was the expert consensus all along? It doesn't. The rest of the article contains nearly no informational value.

The only information we get from Slackman's article is the stunning admission that for a long time, continuing to today, the New York Times and all US media organizations with access to Iran experts has been and continues to deliberately mislead its readers into believing Iran aims for a weapon instead of a "Japan option".

It should not be Juan Cole's job to undo hundreds of misleading articles in the press. Reporters who understand the difference between nuclear capability and a nuclear weapon have a responsibility to put the distinction between the two to government officials up to and including the U.S. President and Israeli Prime Minister, and to put their responses into their reports.

But as bad as it is, as horribly as the professional news media is colluding with government officials to mislead their consumers, the situation was far worse before the internet made information far more accessible to those willing to look deeper.


N. Friedman said...


I am not a poll taker but I rather doubt that there is much of a consensus among experts regarding Iran's nuclear plans. And, the Iranian government, with its hysterical rants, is not all that easy to read. So, I rather suspect that there could only be a consensus after the archives of the Iranian government are opened - which is not currently the case.

As for Iran's actual intention, I rather worry about a country where the leader shouts "Death to America," as has occurred repeatedly. That is not friendly stuff. While America's involvement in Iran's history includes some unsavory behavior, I do not recall any American president shouting out "Death to Iran."

lidia said...

A Zionist said "I worry" because Iranian's leaders said something (as a matter of fact I have read that it is not "death" but rather "down with")

USA and Israel DO (NOW) and very much harm to Iran (and others) and of course, they THREAT Iran non-stop, and lie about Iran 24/7

If I were upset, I'd rather worry about USA and Israel wreking even MORE havoc in the ME, not about Iran.

I said...

@N. Friedman

"I do not recall any American president shouting out Death to Iran"

Actually. When I think about it. I never can recall any Iranian president or the supreme leader saying "Death to America" either ... All of those examples of people chanting "Death to America" are usually coming from ordinary people and clergymen. Freedom of speech I suppose.

Let’s look pass the parts of "America's involvement in Iran's history [that] includes some unsavory behavior", such as
- Overthrowing an Iranian democratic elected government and empowering a dictator
- Supporting a neighboring dictator with information and weapons in order to kill Iranians
- Condoning the use of biological weapons against Iranians
- Shooting down civilian airplanes killing Iranians and giving medals to the military officer that "accidently" did that
- Putting sanctions on Iran that mostly hurt ordinary iranians
- And so on

And let’s focus among other things on
- Continuously threatening "regime change"
- Keeping the military option "on the table"
- Kidnapping Iranian citizens
- Murdering Iranians nuclear scientists
- Supporting terrorists in order to kill Iranians and destabilize Iran
- Having people in the government who openly declares "I hate all Iranians" (Debra Cagan), "obliterate Iran" (Hillary Clinton) and so on. Or people running for president proudly singing "Bomb Bomb Iran" (John McCain)

You tell me. What is the US and its presidents saying if not shouting? Is this what you call "friendly stuff"? How would you interpret all of this if you were an Iranian? Let me tell you what all this translates into: "Death to Iran", and more importantly, "Death to Iranians". The intention of the US is obvious. In most cases you do not even need to read between the lines. There is no need for any US president to literally spell that out. Any person with an adequate level of intelligence understands this.

Furthermore why not take into account everything the Iranian government says? The Iranian government has repeatedly said that their problem is with the US government and its policies and not with the people of the US. The Iranians offer to talk on equal terms, they want to be friends with America on equal terms and so on.

Iran and Iranians have more to worry about the US than the other way around. The US has committed countless acts of mass murder and genocide without showing any signs of remorse. You being an excellent example of this inability to introspect; this is so typically people like you; you moan and bitch about someone saying something yet you never look at your own behavior, especially the action you do indeed take and support.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should read the Times more carefully. Here is one example:

N. Friedman said...

To the person named "I":

As I said, I am not a poll taker. I am also not a mind reader.

Your history, by the way, is a bit confused. The US certainly played a role in overthrowing the government of Iran in the 1950's. And, we should not have done that.

However, the leader of the Iranian government had, in fact, suspended Iran's democracy, then held a phony election and was, rather ironically, opposed by the religious establishment - i.e., the religious establishment which now rules the country - when the privileges of the religious establishment in land were attacked.

In fact, the US's role was to help the religious establishment over the government. Which is to say, the Mullahs who rule Iran are complaining that the US helped them overthrow the supposed "democracy" which previously ruled.

At this point, the government of Iran has made its intentions rather plain, which is why many in the West worry. That intention is not, as your writing suggests, wholly defensive. Rather, the concern is that Iran means to avenge the past, to one extent or another.

Were Iran's intentions wholly defensive, it is rather doubtful that it would concern the Israelis in particularly, who already have enough on their plate to worry about and who, as you will note, have not much cared that Pakistan obtained the bomb.

Anonymous said...

Before the internet. Those were NOT the days. News media, particularly about the ME, was SO lopsided (as it still is today. However, back then availability to academic and foreign sources was next to nil. For those willing to explore alternative news sources and analyses, these are fine days indeed. But you do have to make the effort.

Mr. Friedman, you'll have to excuse me but I can't make heads or tails out of most of your last comment. I can tell you that the major difference between Pakistan and Iran in Israel's view is that Iran has accepted the cause of the oppressed Palestinians. It is a similar situation for the Israelis to that of the apartheid South Africans, who had to contend with Cuba's role in defending black South Africa against imperialism and racism from the West and, of course, the apartheid state.

The fact that Iran endorses a one state solution (through peaceful referendum) to settle the Palestine/Israel dispute is the real source of fear for Israel, which relies on application of brute force to impose its Jewish majority state on the territory, with all the negative effects that generates on the region as a whole.


lidia said...

A Zionist from USA is repeating not only Zionist prop, but USA imperialist one as well

see here about "other dictator"

By the way, in Honduras USA played THE SAME role with the same lies

N. Friedman said...


You are correct that Israel's concern about Iran is that Iran has taken up the Palestinian Arab cause. That shows that Israel's objection to Iran's nuclear program is defensive, whether you believe that Israel is a decent or an indecent country. I appreciate the vindication of what I said.

I might add, though, that Ahmadinejad says that the objection to Israel is not to help Arabs in historic Palestine, a people who have never had all that much sympathy from Persians - traditional enemies of Arabs, as it were.

According to Ahmadinejad, Israel serves a symbolic role in Iran's effort to lead the Muslim world in order to, over the long haul, begin the recapture of all lands lost by Muslims to Christians. You might read his speech at the so-called world without Zionism conference. He goes out of his way to say that he is doing nothing to help Palestinian Arabs but, instead, is using them to advance Muslim goals vis a vis Christian Europe.

lidia said...

NF, as usual, lies (yes, he lies because he is a Zionist)

Now, I have read a great shorthand of a Zionist prop and post it here for amusment of anti-Zionists.

1) We rule (see NF on this subject)

2) They suck (see the same on this one)

3) You suck (see NF on this one)

4) Everybody sucks (...)

lidia said...

By the way, Zionism is anti-Christian as well, because

1) A part of Palestininas are Christians
2) Zionism is based partially on Jewish racism, including a religious animocity of Judaism to Christianity (from the beginiing of the later, long before Christians were in any position to do something bad to Jews)

Of course, I am an Atheist myself.

I said...

To the person named "N. Friedman" and your reply to "I":

What are you talking about?

You’re first post was split into two parts. The first sentence dealt with the question of the consensus between experts and the second part with "Iran’s actual intention". My replied was towards the second issue you raised.

The second issue you raised can be summarized as following: Iran has evil intentions because Iran says stuff like "Death to America". The US, while not perfect, does not say things like that and thus the US has no bad intentions.

My reply could simply be summarized as "actions speaks louder than words". I argued that the actions taken by the US, both in the past and the present, shows a malicious intend towards Iran.
Your reply to this argument? Well...

"As I said, I am not a poll taker. I am also not a mind reader."

What? Seriously what? You are not a mind reader? But you can read, can’t you? The rest of your post deals with anything but the arguments I put forward.

"Your history, by the way, is a bit confused."

Then you first confirm one of the things I said about "my confused history" and ignoring everything else and thereafter move to events that occurred in the present. I see why you think "my history" is somewhat confusing to you, because it deals with events in the past? But then again. How could you know. You are not a mind reader after all.

You lack of ability to read minds have left you in belief that other people can read minds (why point that out otherwise?) You start rambling about the Iranian election and how the US is accused of doing stuff. And from this you magically conclude: "At this point, the government of Iran has made its intentions rather plain,"

How? What is the relationship between the Iranian election and the accusations of fraud by the West and the Iranian peaceful non-weapons and full of love nuclear program and Iranian foreign policy in general?

"which is why many in the West worry."

Why? Why is the West worried? Why?!

"That intention is not, as your writing suggests, wholly defensive."

Why? You just dismiss what I say and present your own conclusion without argument.

"Rather, the concern is that Iran means to avenge the past, to one extent or another."

WHY WOULD THEY WANT TO AVANGE THE PAST? !!! Did SOMEONE perhaps DO THEM WRONG??? !!!! If so why then would the intentions of the Iranians not be purely defensive??? And what does that say about the intentions of the West?

WTF man. Seriously WTF.

I am dismissing you as a troll Friedman.

Or perhaps this is the kind of high quality Zionist "per capita" performance that you argue the rest of the world envies."The world's greatest source of innovation" your a...

/Cheers and broken glass up your inovating a… Friedman

N. Friedman said...

To I,

Why the nasty invective at the end of your post? That is unbecoming.

Further, my comment regarding your historical errors concerned this statement by you:

Let’s look pass the parts of "America's involvement in Iran's history [that] includes some unsavory behavior", such as
- Overthrowing an Iranian democratic elected government and empowering a dictator

What I noted in reply to that statement is that it is not quite what you think it is. Why? Because the Mullahs were major backers - in fact, the prime parties (and did far more than the US did to overthrow Mosaddeq) - of the coup to which you refer; because leader of Iran, Mosaddeq, had himself overthrown the democracy, declared an emergency situation and then conducted a phony election. That was all before the US did anything to support anyone's efforts to overthrow Mosaddeq.

Further, until the Shah also adopted a path that put him on a collision course with the Mullahs (i.e. until he, like Mosaddeq, threatened the Mullahs' land holdings and other privileges in an effort to modernize Iran), the Mullahs were major backers of the Shah. They, after all, were the party that most wanted to overthrew Mosaddeq because he was taking their land and privileges away. So, the hatred by the Mullahs of the interference in Iranian affairs is basically feigned and the allegation that a democracy was overthrown is basically untrue.

However, as I said initially, that does not make it right for the US to have played a role in overthrowing Mosaddeq.

You ask, "What is the relationship between the Iranian election and the accusations of fraud by the West and the Iranian peaceful non-weapons and full of love nuclear program and Iranian foreign policy in general?"

Your question assumes that the nuclear program is peaceful. I rather doubt that it is but, of course, I do not know. On the other hand, I do know that the government of Iran is dominated by an ideology which inevitably makes war a necessity. That ideology includes an effort to reclaim lands lost by Muslims to Christians. It also includes a genocidal hatred of Jews. That makes Iran, if it were to obtain nuclear weapons - and, again, I have no idea whether Iran is seeking such weapons - very dangerous in the same way that the Nazi regime was dangerous.

To lidia, I have nothing to say to a bigot like you. I would think that Arnold would not want bigots to post.

lidia said...

Yes, I am a bigot, this is something new, usually Zionists call me "self-hating Jew" LOL

And Arnold is VERY tolerant, because he lets a racist bigot NF post here :)

Now NF should return to his 4-step mantra

He was on 3) you suck

and 4) Everybody suck,
so I suppose he will say us one more time about Irsaelis's (i.e. Jews, because he talks Israelis versus Arabs)achivments. I sugget he could start with Israel Chief rabbi threatening establishments which dare to display Christmas decorations.

lidia said...

a link about those threats

By the way, Zionists love to pretend that they defend Christans from Muslims and Arabs from Persians and so on. They really depend on Western ignorance in such matters, but cannot fool people of the ME who know better.