Judith Miller Redux?

That’s what a lot of people are asking in the wake of Monday’s front-page New York Times article by Michael Gordon entitled “U.S. Ties Iran to Deadly Iraq Attack.” The story recounted charges leveled by a Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner in a press conference in Baghdad to the effect that the Iranian Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, helped plan the January raid on government facilities in Karbala in which five U.S. soldiers were killed, four of them after being abducted by the attackers. Bergner also alleged that the Quds Force was using Hezbollah veterans, one of whom was captured some months ago and served as the main source for Bergner’s account, as a “proxy” to arm and train Shi’a militiamen responsible for carrying out the attack.

Of course, the story and its placement on the front page was manna from heaven for neo-conservatives and other hawks, serving as it did to reinforce the message that it is useless to talk with Iran which, in the view that they’ve been propounding for some time now, is already engaged in a “proxy war” with the U.S. Less than a month ago, it was Sen. Joseph Lieberman who suggested that Washington should prepare to carry out cross-border strikes against Iran for its activities in Iraq, let alone its refusal to freeze its uranium-enrichment program:

“I think we’ve got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq,” Lieberman said. “And to me, that would include a strike over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers.”

Gordon, of course, was Judith Miller’s co-author in two of her most notoriously misleading articles about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction programs, including the Sep 8, 2002, front-page “aluminum tubes” article that was exploited so heavily by top administration officials in their appearance on that Sunday’s network talk shows, in the run-up to the Iraq war, and at least one influential critic believes he’s at it again.

“As if he hadn’t done enough damage already, helping to promote the American invasion of Iraq with deeply flawed articles in The New York Times, Michael R. Gordon is now writing scare stories that offer ammunition for the growing chorus of neo-cons calling for a U.S. strike against Iran – his most recent effort appearing just this morning,” wrote Greg Mitchell in his “Pressing Issues” in the industry’s publication, “Editor and Publisher.”

“What’s most lamentable is that editors at The New York Times, who should have learned their lessons four years ago, are once again serving as enablers,” according to Mitchell, who proceeds to tear into Gordon’s history as an “enabler” of the administration’s hawks and his specific coverage of Bergner’s press conference. His analysis is well worth the time to read.

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.