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2003-04-22

Publisher of Harper’s Magazine Calls a Story in Yesterday’s New York Times "The Closest Thing I’ve Ever Seen to American State Media" and "A Watershed in the History of the Paper"

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Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix has charged that US officials tried to discredit the work of inspectors in Iraq to justify invading the country.

In an interview with the BBC, Blix said US officials leaked suggestions that inspectors had deliberately suppressed information to the media in an attempt to undermine their work in Iraq.

Excerpts of the interview were released just before Blix is due to address the Security Council today.

Meanwhile, it appears the Pentagon propaganda apparatus is still in high gear as the US struggles to explain why it has failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq- the main justification for the US invasion.

Yesterday, The New York Times ran a front-page piece about a former Iraqi scientist, who allegedly told a US military team that Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began.

The scientist also said Iraq secretly sent unconventional weapons and technology to Syria, starting in the mid-1990’s, and that more recently Iraq was cooperating with Al Qaeda.

And he led Americans to material that proved to be the building blocks for a toxic agent that is banned by chemical weapons treaties. US officials said it is the most important discovery to date in the hunt for illegal weapons.

The Pentagon is refusing to identify the toxic agent or name the scientist.

The piece is by Judith Miller, who is embedded with the US military. She reported she was not allowed to write about the scientist for three days. Her report was submitted to military officials for censorship.

The piece appears to accomplish everything the Pentagon could wish for. It explains why US troops have been unable to find weapons–and why they may never find them. It ties Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda. And it even implicates Syria–possibly the Bush administration’s next target.

New York Times reporter Judith Miller is not new to Pentagon propaganda. She and colleague Michael Gordon were the first to report on the now famously discredited Pentagon claim that Iraqis were trying to buy aluminum tubes in order to build nuclear weapons. U.N. inspectors were able to disprove the claim, but not before President Bush repeated it in two major addresses, and Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell used the false information in his address to the U.N. Security Council to drum up support for war.

  • John R. MacArthur, publisher of Harper’s magazine and author of the book Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War.

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