The “mainstream” media, we often hear, isn’t covering the real stories—it shies away from controversy and supinely bends under pressure from government officials, corporate sponsors, and warmongering demagogues. All of this may be true, but what we don’t hear is what happens when the media does do a little investigative reporting, especially when the resulting story violates the unwritten but universally enforced strictures of political correctness. What happened when CBS News reported that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) colluded with neoconservatives in the Pentagon to pass classified information to Israel is telling.
On August 27, Lesley Stahl reported that “the FBI has a full-fledged espionage investigation under way and is about to—in FBI terminology—‘roll up’ someone agents believe has been spying not for an enemy, but for Israel from within the office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon.” The suspected mole: Larry Franklin, a 57-year-old Iran specialist and Defense Intelligence Agency officer working out of the office of William J. Luti, deputy undersecretary for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs.
It was Luti’s office, a branch of the Department of Defense policy shop headed by Undersecretary Douglas Feith, that “stovepiped” ersatz intelligence—often provided by now-discredited liar and embezzler Ahmad Chalabi—to the White House in the run-up to the war in Iraq, including the notorious Niger uranium forgeries that were the genesis of George W. Bush’s infamous “16 words.” Saddam, the President claimed in his 2003 State of the Union Address, was looking to buy weapons-grade uranium somewhere in Africa in order to build a nuclear bomb. However, it wasn’t long before the “intelligence” fed to the White House on this matter—a bunch of documents that mysteriously appeared at the U.S. embassy in Italy—was proved to be bogus, a crude forgery that was debunked in five minutes by scientists at the International Atomic Energy Agency using Google.
Stahl’s story turned out to be bigger than originally reported. While CBS has merely reported on the Franklin-AIPAC-classified documents connection, and Newsweek followed up with a gripping report on how the spy was caught (they bugged a luncheon meeting of AIPAC officials and Israeli government agents), it was left to Knight-Ridder’s Warren Strobel to report as fact the clear implications of such extensive surveillance, revealing (in a story dated August 28) that the FBI investigation “is broader than previously reported.” Citing “three sources” in the know, Strobel goes on to report that the investigation into Israel’s spy nest in the Pentagon “has been going on for more than two years.” Not only that, but the feds have also focused on “other civilians in the Secretary of Defense’s office” suspected of giving highly classified information to Chalabi. The charges of espionage against the exiled Iraqi leader had been all over the papers for months, but this was the first indication that the investigation had gotten beyond the initial stages. “The linkage,” writes Strobel, “if any, between the two leak investigations, remains unclear,” but what links them is the people and government agencies involved: Luti’s shop nurtured Chalabi, the neoconservative poster boy, and fed the White House phony “intel,” but the AIPAC-Franklin-Department of Defense spy nest implies that this was a two-way transmission belt. The cabal not only fed George W. Bush a pack of lies, it fed classified information to their Israeli handlers and Chalabi (who is widely recognized in Iraq as Tel Aviv’s sock puppet).
I had heard rumors, via Joshua Marshall’s blog, that CBS News was working on yet another story, this time focused on the Niger uranium forgeries. Who, after all, compiled these obvious forgeries—and, more intriguingly, how did they go undetected and enter the U.S. “intelligence” stream as the real thing? Marshall, a respected journalist and writer for the American Prospect, was working on a story, and, he strongly implied, it was about to break. Then, somehow, it got bumped—in favor of the Dan Rather piece featuring the documents that supposedly “proved” George W. Bush had failed to fulfill his obligation to the National Guard. Forget all that complicated stuff about Niger uranium, forged documents, and the complex, cloak-and-dagger circumstances under which obvious fakes were passed off as authentic “intelligence”: Here was a real “scoop,” a scandal the masses could understand!
Except that these documents, too, turned out to be forgeries. Like George W. Bush, Dan Rather was burned by a forgery that was quickly exposed not by experts but by bloggers who knew enough about computers to recognize computer-generated type when they saw it.
So Dan Rather is “biased” against the President: Now there’s a real revelation. What really ought to make us sit up and take notice, however, is the sequence of events leading up to the decision by CBS not to run the Niger uranium expose, because it wouldn’t be “fair” to the President.
CBS exposes Israel’s spy nest in the Pentagon and prepares to do a story on how the same neoconservative coven influenced policy by passing off forged documents as real. The Niger uranium forgery story is killed before it can air, as CBS is itself duped by a forgery passed off as authentic by a shady group of shadowy political operatives. And it isn’t long before doubts start being cast on the AIPAC-Franklin story as yet another example of “bias” on the part of CBS. Writing in the New York Post, Eric Fettmann avers that Rathergate is not the only CBS “scoop” that “failed to materialize.” Ignoring Strobel’s reportage, Fettmann trivializes treason as, “at worst, a case of the possible misuse of classified documents.”
Move along; nothing to see here . . .
Somehow, I have a feeling that CBS News won’t be following up on Stahl’s original report. And, after an initial flurry of stories in the national media—over 300 in a little over a week—the AIPAC-Franklin affair has dropped completely out of sight, although a grand jury is rumored to be empanelled in Northern Virginia. The case has been handed over to Republican hack Paul McNulty, and, the Financial Times reports, investigators have been told to “slow down.”
In other words, the fix is in, the whole thing is being hushed up—at least until after the election—and it’s no wonder that the media isn’t covering it. Look what happened to Dan Rather. Any one of them could be next.