The Fourth Estate Fails Again

Eleven days ago I wrote an item for The American Conservative blog that asserted that the U.S. National Security Council had decided to proceed with plans to attack Iran in light of Tehran’s reported interference in Iraq and in Lebanon. Those who have been following the issue know well that planning to attack Iran is nothing new, that there are many in the Bush administration and outside it who are eager to bomb the mullahs into the stone age. What is different now is that there is a consensus inside the White House that a military attack is not an option but rather a necessity to “send a message” and restrain Iranian ambitions. Burned by Iraq, it is by no means certain that the Great Decider will actually pull the trigger, but the likelihood of war has increased dramatically.

My story came from two independent sources who have been reliable and who have excellent access to the information that they were conveying. Both were concerned that war with Iran is not in the best interest of the United States and would, in fact, be a catastrophe for both countries, a view that I share. They also believe that Iran poses no genuine threat to the United States. As often happens, after my blog post appeared I was contacted by several other independent sources who also confirmed my report. No one disputed it. Justin Raimondo replayed the story three days later and he in turn had his own excellent sources who indicated that the account was correct. More than 500 Web sites and other bloggers picked up the report.

My report even made it to the New York Times editorial page blog section, though it appeared in the middle of a number of other replays and was neither featured nor commented upon. Since that time, Pepe Escobar has referred to the post in an article in the Asia Times, “The U.S.-Iran Sound-Bite Showdown,” in which he concluded “the decision to attack seems to have been made.” But those were the only two appearances in what might be called the mainstream media. In general, the news services and television ignored the story.

One might reasonably ask why such an important report is being dismissed, particularly as it relates to the White House’s intention to start a new war that the United States cannot afford and that might have the most terrible consequences. If the story were untrue, one would expect the high-priced journalists at places like the Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, and Time, not to mention television news, to be able to expose it for a lie. All they have to do is call up their unimpeachable contacts who would be able to provide them with background debunking the allegations. Yet no one has done that to the best of my knowledge, apparently in the belief that ignoring it will make it go away.

During the past week, I have been asked many times why the story has not been picked up. To be honest, I have been somewhat bewildered that no one has run with it, and I have thought that perhaps the prospect of the U.S. intentionally starting yet another war is just too daunting, too terrifying to contemplate. It might well be the kind of story that no one wants to touch for fear that it will come true. On a practical level, it might be that a news service that reports it will be ostracized by the Bush administration, cut off from its “sources” in the government, so it is better to leave it alone.

It has even been suggested to me that “patriotic Americans” would not want to reveal to the Iranians that an attack is coming, as if the Iranians don’t already know that. In justifying my decision to report the story I have also responded to the same critics that truly patriotic Americans should instead be concerned that the White House is initiating an armed conflict without going to Congress and declaring war, as the U.S. Constitution requires. Not that Congress would generate much resistance to an attack on Iran. John McCain is in Congress, as are Joe Lieberman and John Kyl, all of whom are part of a majority that favors dishing it out to the mullahs. And then there is Hillary’s pledge of “obliteration.” In fact, apart from Congressman Ron Paul and some other lonely voices, there are few who would object to bloodying the Iranian nose.

But then there came a moment of clarity in which the most probable reason for the deep-sixing of my blog post was revealed, and it came surprisingly for our president, who has never provided much clarity before. President George W. Bush traveled to Israel last week to celebrate that country’s 60th birthday and to pledge allegiance. Bush addressed the Knesset on May 15 in language eerily similar to that used to justify attacking Iraq: “Permitting the world’s leading sponsor of terror to possess the world’s deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.” He then likened talks with Iran to “appeasement,” saying, “Some seem to believe we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.” After Bush’s speech, Israeli Army Radio reported that the possibility of an American attack on Iran was the subject of private discussions during the visit. Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, later said both men were “on the same page” regarding Iran.

That a dim bulb like Bush might draw all the wrong lessons from a historical analogy, confusing appeasement with diplomacy, comes as no surprise. But, perhaps inadvertently, he has clearly and unambiguously restated the centrality of Israel to the security problem posed by Iran. So too did Hillary Clinton with her obliteration threat. John McCain, on his March visit to Israel, declared, “Iran is not solely Israel’s problem. The combination of terror, nuclear capabilities, and irresponsible leadership poses a danger to the entire world.” Again, the language is reminiscent of the lead-up to Iraq, and McCain surely doth protest too much, as Iran is no threat to the United States.

As is frequently the case, one must suspect that U.S. policy is really all about Israel, the 600-pound gorilla in the room. Alan Greenspan’s attempt to change the subject to oil notwithstanding, the Iraq war would never have happened without the Lobby’s guiding hand. And invading Iran will be more of the same, with the same cheering section urging us on to war. My telling the story about an impending attack on Iran, which could conceivably lead to a surge in public opinion opposing such a prospect, possibly derailing it, is not what the Israel Lobby wants. Alarm bells undoubtedly went off in various news rooms. The media has obediently lined up on the subject, and nothing more will be said, just as the story about newly revealed Israeli spy Ben-Ami Kadish has already disappeared from sight.

How long will the American people continue to put up with this nonsense? That’s hard to say, as they have been hoodwinked by the media and putting up with it since 1948. Continuing to tell big lies that exalt the Israelis and delegitimize their enemies as reincarnations of Hitler seems to be working, and it has clearly created a popular myth about a noble and beleaguered Jewish state that is extremely hard to shift. Unflinching and unlimited American support for a militaristic regime engaged in a cruel occupation combined with a program of ethnic cleansing has had a huge economic cost for the U.S. It has also fueled terrorism, produced tens of thousands of dead and maimed Americans, and brought about a catastrophic decline in how America is viewed around the world. Worse still, it might lead to yet another major war in the Middle East. I suspect that when my grandchildren ask me why the United States so foolishly invaded Iraq and attacked Iran, the one word that will immediately come to mind will be “Israel.”

Author: Philip Giraldi

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is a contributing editor to The American Conservative and executive director of the Council for the National Interest.