‘NYT’ reporter who gave us Saddam’s aluminum tubes summers at neoconservative thinktank

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Another shameful reflection on the New York Times. Yesterday the neoconservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which vigorously opposed the Iran deal, welcomed as a “writer-in-residence” for the summer a national security correspondent for the Times who provided a channel for neoconservative arguments against the Iran deal a year ago and also co-authored the notoriously-bogus “aluminum tubes” story that helped give American the Iraq war.

Michael R. Gordon will be a Writer-in-Residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the organization announced today.

Gordon, a National Security Correspondent for The New York Times, is completing a book on the American-led campaign to defeat the Islamic State…

“Michael is one of the most accomplished journalists in the country, and we are thrilled to assist him as he completes his book,” said FDD Executive Director Mark Dubowitz. “Michael will have access to FDD’s resources and expertise as he delves into the rise and expansion of this most dangerous radical jihadist group.”

Gordon is to return to the Times in September, FDD said. It’s not the first time Gordon has had access to rightwing dossiers. He did articles challenging the Iran deal last August, using neoconservative arguments, reported James Carden in the Nation:

Today, The New York Times ran a piece by David E. Sanger and Michael R. Gordon calling attention to the alleged weaknesses in the Obama administration’s case for the Iranian nuclear accord. While, editorially at least, the Times has come out strongly for the deal, today’s report mostly consists of the latest neoconservative talking points, and is featured on page A1, repackaged as “News Analysis.”

In that article, Gordon “habitually” piped Israeli views, and quoted Dennis Ross, longtime lawyer for Israel (who says that American Jews must advocate for Israel). Carden:

Tendentious as it is, the Times piece is very much in keeping with the theme of Michael R. Gordon’s recent reporting on the Iran deal, which has habitually highlighted Israeli and neocon objections, while seeming to dismiss the views of the deal’s proponents.

Alas, this is unsurprising given his long history of promoting the neoconservative war party’s agenda. As longtime Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn pointed out in several brutally frank examinations of Gordon’s work, Gordon (along with the disgraced Judy Miller) played a key role in bringing such fictions as the notorious “aluminum tubes” story before the public in September 2002. By 2007 Gordon had taken the lead in plumping for the failed Petraeus “surge” by hyping Iran’s role in supplying the Iraqis with IEDs. Hyping Iran’s role in upending Middle Eastern stability, while ignoring America’s, has been something of a Gordon specialty for close to a decade.

More on those wonderful aluminum tubes, discovered alongside Judith Miller, that became the neocon casus-belli for the Iraq war. Here is Robert Parry’s takedown of Gordon’s work. “Another NYT-Michael Gordon special”:

 

The infamous aluminum tube story of Sept. 8, 2002, which Gordon co-wrote with Judith Miller, relied on U.S. intelligence sources and Iraqi defectors to frighten Americans with images of “mushroom clouds” if they didn’t support President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. The timing played perfectly into the administration’s advertising “rollout” for the Iraq War.

Of course, the story turned out to be false and to have unfairly downplayed skeptics of the nuclear-centrifuge scenario. The aluminum tubes actually were meant for artillery, not for centrifuges. But the article provided a great impetus toward the Iraq War, which ended up killing nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

Gordon’s co-author, Judith Miller, became the only U.S. journalist known to have lost a job over the reckless and shoddy reporting that contributed to the Iraq disaster. For his part, Gordon continued serving as a respected Pentagon correspondent.

From that 2002 New York Times story, which it surely would want to scrub from its past:

More than a decade after Saddam Hussein agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb, Bush administration officials said today.

In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium. American officials said several efforts to arrange the shipment of the aluminum tubes were blocked or intercepted but declined to say, citing the sensitivity of the intelligence, where they came from or how they were stopped.

The diameter, thickness and other technical specifications of the aluminum tubes had persuaded American intelligence experts that they were meant for Iraq’s nuclear program, officials said, and that the latest attempt to ship the material had taken place in recent months.

Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who welcomed Gordon, spearheaded opposition to the Iran deal a year ago:

The bottom line here is a nuclear Iran with the financial might to stand up to any belated Western attempt to undo Obama’s mistake. Stacked up against that, Rhodes’ ego trip or the reputations of Washington journalists are meaningless. Obama and his mind-meld partner Rhodes endangered the security of the United States, Israel, and the West. That it was done on the strength of a falsehood and with the help of credulous, feckless Washington press corps is less important than the catastrophic nature of the mistake they have made.

He wrote recently:

Does the fact that the White House lied to the American people when it was selling the Iran nuclear deal to the media, Congress and the public matter?

Thanks to Adam Horowitz.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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3 Responses

  1. Boomer
    June 28, 2016, 2:27 pm

    re: “a national security correspondent for the Times”

    We needn’t ask which nation’s security he prioritizes.

  2. eljay
    June 28, 2016, 2:43 pm

    … “Michael is one of the most accomplished journalists in the country, and we are thrilled to assist him as he completes his book,” said FDD Executive Director Mark Dubowitz. …

    It would seem that “most accomplished journalists” means he fellates the right donkey the right way. Hee-haw!!

  3. chris o
    June 28, 2016, 9:59 pm

    It is odd, curious and definitely not right that Judith Miller became the enormous scapegoat for the Times’ Iraq fiascos while Michael Gordon walked away (er, I should say stayed) unscathed.

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