What happens when journalists lie in the service of power? What happens when nations are mobilized to wage illegal, immoral wars of aggression?
For Iraq the consequences are grave indeed. An entire country left in ruins to be rebuilt, something like 394 billion USD in war damages, at least 251,000 casualties of war violence, 655,000 more killed by other effects of war (think poisoned water, malnutrition, lack of medicines and doctors), a power vacuum for extremists to fill and a raging sectarian conflict that goes on to this day.
For the US the costs are staggering too: 4,400 soldiers dead, 32,000 soldiers injured, and total costs of war that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting the interest to be paid on funds borrowed for the war and future costs associated with treating Iraq’s war veterans.
With such staggering repercussions to an act of war, you’d think journalists would be more rigorous in their examination of the arguments for war, especially a war of aggression. As was said at the post WWII Nuremberg trials “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
When journalists simply promote pro-war propaganda, how are they different from Joseph Goebbels? Goebbels would have faced a war crimes tribunal had he not killed himself and his entire family, so why shouldn’t Judith Miller?
Watch the video below to see Miller’s utterly feeble defense:
Her defense begins with sarcasm as she tries to mock the idea the war had anything to do with oil:
“I took America to war with Iraq–it was all me. Ok it was mostly me, I had some help from from a clueless president George Bush and his neo-conservative puppet-master vice president Dick Cheney. Senior White House fanatics spoon fed reporters like me cherry-picked intelligence about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction so that America could invade Iraq and seize its oil.”
She wants to make it seem preposterous but if you consider the fact that the Project for a New American Century (PNAC)—founded by Cheney, Scooter Libby, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, and other top neocons—demanded President Clinton undertake the “removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime.” back in 1998, it becomes clear the agenda to remove Saddam predated the Bush presidency. Furthermore, a PNAC memo from 2001 to Bush reads: “Even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the [9/11] attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power.” Cheney was, in fact, fanatical about removing Saddam.
Saddam was also threatening to stop selling his oil using USD. The US dollar’s status as the only instrument with which to buy oil is the backbone of its value as the unit of global trade. Without compulsion to use dollars for oil on the global market, the USD would quickly become worthless. So it is about oil
Miller goes on to say “Bush didn’t lie us into it. The false narrative that he did is itself a lie and deserves to be at last retired.”
But it’s been proven. Bush lied. As Mother Jones’ David Corn documented:
In October 2002, Bush said that Saddam Hussein had a “massive stockpile” of biological weapons. But as CIA Director George Tenet noted in early 2004, the CIA had informed policymakers it had “no specific information on the types or quantities of weapons agent or stockpiles at Baghdad’s disposal.” The “massive stockpile” was just literally made up.
In December 2002, Bush declared, “We do not know whether or not [Iraq] has a nuclear weapon.” That was not what the National Intelligence Estimate said. As Tenet would later testify, “We said that Saddam did not have a nuclear weapon and probably would have been unable to make one until 2007 to 2009.” Bush did know whether or not Iraq had a nuclear weapon — and lied and said he didn’t know to hype the threat.
It’s not just Bush that is lying here, it is most certainly Judith Miller herself. She goes on to say:
“Before the 2003 invasion, president Bush and other senior officials cited the intelligence community’s incorrect conclusions about Saddam’s WMD capabilities and on occasion went beyond them.”
But it’s just not true. What has become clear is that the intelligence community was telling the government that Saddam was not a threat and had no WMD or emerging WMD capability. As the Downing Street Memo clearly states: “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
So when Miller states that it is a myth that “…policymakers pressured intelligence analysts into altering their estimates to suit the Bush administration’s push to war.” she is creating a straw man argument to cause confusion. No, the estimates weren’t altered, they were ignored entirely so that a false narrative for war could be put forward.
Judith, there are intelligence reports and there are what politicians and those in media like you said. If you told us what the reports said, that Iraq had no WMD capacity and Iraq did not collaborate with their terrorist enemies, then you’d be telling the truth. If you reported what Bush, Cheney et al were saying, which were the opposite of the reports, without pointing out that their claims contradicted the truth, then you were foisting lies on the public without any kind of journalistic integrity or curiosity whatsoever.
Since we are all citizens of a democracy, we are all accessories to the crimes of our government. Not just you, but me too and the public at large. But you bear a special responsibility in that you neglected your journalistic duty to challenge these lies and prevent these crimes so that we don’t all become accessories to appalling war crimes that led to the death of something like 1 million people. 1 MILLION people.
Joseph Goebbels would have faced war crimes for his propaganda work. Without him, the public wouldn’t have been mobilized for a war of aggression. The same applies for the war of aggression against Iraq, the US public supported it it because people like you lied to them. When Bush, Blair and the others face judgement for their war crimes, I hope you face judgement for your crimes too.