Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 18, 2009

NYT Is Rapidly Adding Nuclear Propaganda

Has David E. Sanger replaced Judith Miller as the chief scaremonger at the New York Times?  We are not sure but he is one of the chief writers in the NYT's propaganda campaign for war on Pakistan.

Sanger's front page headline today is Pakistan Is Rapidly Adding Nuclear Arms, U.S. Says.

Now aside from the irrelevance of the issue - there is no strategic difference between a Pakistan with 80 nukes and a Pakistan with 100 nukes - there is simply no fact in Sanger's piece that justifies the headline and the thrust of the story.

The lede:

Members of Congress have been told in confidential briefings that Pakistan is rapidly adding to its nuclear arsenal even while racked by insurgency, raising questions on Capitol Hill about whether billions of dollars in proposed military aid might be diverted to Pakistan’s nuclear program.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed the assessment of the expanded arsenal in a one-word answer to a question on Thursday in the midst of lengthy Senate testimony. Sitting beside Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, he was asked whether he had seen evidence of an increase in the size of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.

“Yes,” he said quickly, adding nothing, clearly cognizant of Pakistan’s sensitivity to any discussion about the country’s nuclear strategy or security.

Mullen's "yes", Sanger tells us, confirmed "confidential briefings" to Congress. The Mullen hearing itself was public. Nowhere does Sanger explain who told him about those "confidential briefings", with what interest in mind and what the context and content of these briefing were.

There follow fourteen paragraphs of quotes from the usual concerned hawks like David Albright raising the danger of WMD in terrorist hands. Nothing in those graphs justifies the "rapidly adding" attribute. But only after walking through all those assertions do we learn of the real question Mullen answered with a simple "Yes".

During a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Senator Jim Webb, a Virginia Democrat, veered from the budget proposal under debate to ask Admiral Mullen about public reports “that Pakistan is, at the moment, increasing its nuclear program — that it may be actually adding on to weapons systems and warheads. Do you have any evidence of that?”

It was then that Admiral Mullen responded with his one-word confirmation. Mr. Webb said Pakistan’s decision was a matter of “enormous concern,” and he added, “Do we have any type of control factors that would be built in, in terms of where future American money would be going, as it addresses what I just asked about?”

The archived webcast of the Armed Services hearing is here. The exchange between Senator Webb and Mullen is at the 190:50 mark and is much wider ranging than the one short nuke question.

Indeed the second part Sanger quotes from Webb about "where future American money would be going" does not relate to nukes at all. It comes two minutes and two questions later where Webb discusses with Secretary of Defense Gates about general control over U.S. money given to the Pakistani military. This was not "added" to the nuke question at all. The context is quite different.

So here are the three points where Sanger manipulates the reader:

  • The assertion of "confidential briefings" for which he does not name a source and does not explain how he got knowledge of these.
  • The "rapidly adding" in the headline and first graph also not sourced at all and not confirmed by the rest of the article.
  • Moving Senator Webb's question of control about future money to Pakistan into the context of adding nukes when it is much more generally asked in the context of Pakistan's military stand versus India.

Jim Lobe once wrote that Sanger:

... considers himself a foreign-policy player, as well as a reporter, ...

Indeed - Sanger engages in making policy by highly manipulative writing on the NYT's front page. He inserts a certain meme into the public's mind. As others also note that meme will later be the justification for direct U.S. military intervention on Pakistan's ground. Which of course will end badly.

Posted by b on May 18, 2009 at 9:56 UTC | Permalink


Thanks, b, for a useful bit of provocation. Your proposed deconstruction and refutation of the propaganda campaign to enable god-knows-what kind of further intervention in Pakistan is a precious contribution to a debate sorely lacking high visibility input from the opponents of this new foreign policy mis-adventure. The same goes for your efforts to keep the question of juridical action against the U.S. Torture Team before the U.S. public's eye. As has been pointed out, it seems that the only folks being kept in the dark by Obama's surrender to the neo-cons are the American people, most of whom apparently prefer to remain ignorant, just as they talk a lot about freedom and liberty while accepting an airport security regime worthy of the former Soviet Union. The latter will certainly not be set aside because of protests from the
docile populace, but may be changed if tourism to the U.S. drops to a trickle, at which time corporate "citizens" will know how to bring pressure to bear on their pliant "elected" representatives.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | May 18 2009 10:34 utc | 1

Clinical, methodical, and Goddamn systemic...

One can only hope that the empty stores and uninhabited houses can become meeting centers for the upcoming populist revolt. Wait! What am I thinking? Revolt(TM) is a soft drink...hahahahaha

Posted by: Uncle $cam | May 18 2009 12:06 utc | 2

the new meme, gotcha.

thanks b

Posted by: annie | May 18 2009 14:47 utc | 3

Prophecy, Coincidence, or In The Cards?

The Next President

Nice hat tip from those who create realities for us to argue. They're so far ahead of us, we don't stand a chance. Our reactions have long been calculated and expected. We can't surprize them. Calvinism takes on a whole new meaning.

Posted by: Obamageddon | May 18 2009 16:22 utc | 4,16641,20061023,00.html>The Next President

The link didn't post. Here it is. They didn't even pose it as a question. How bold. Of course, sheep don't notice such things, so their effort is wasted on the majority.

Posted by: Obamageddon | May 18 2009 16:25 utc | 5

did you really think putting one man into office would be enough?

Posted by: outsider | May 18 2009 16:47 utc | 6

Pakistan denies it is expanding nuclear arsenal

Pakistan denied Monday it was expanding its nuclear arsenal, a week after the top U.S. military officer said there was evidence it was doing so.
Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira denied that assertion Monday.

"Pakistan does not need to expand its nuclear arsenal but we want to make it clear that we will maintain a minimum nuclear deterrence that is essential for our defense and stability," he said. "We will not make any compromise."

Posted by: b | May 18 2009 18:28 utc | 7

Obviously somebody in Pakistan reads the NYT. Too late though. The seed is planted.

Posted by: dh | May 18 2009 20:22 utc | 8

As always, my standard response is:

All the bombs are in the hands of terrorists

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | May 18 2009 20:55 utc | 9

did you really think putting one man into office would be enough?

Is that addressed to me? I can't tell.

If it is, and even if it isn't, I will say this. You can put 300 men in office, or 3,000, and it still wouldn't make a difference since it doesn't address the systemic structural issues. The office is largely a reflection of a system corrupted beyond all repair, IMO. Also, IMO, Obama wasn't put in office by the official electorate. He was chosen and proffered to the official electorate so the sheep would think they still had a choice in the matter, when, in fact, they've never had a choice in the matter.

Obama's a front man, a cheerleader, a PR man who thanks us for not revolting. He's a smooth-talking obfuscator and a useful foil. Let Obama raz and dazzle them whilst we pick their future clean.

Obama's a Brand, nothing more. His script has already been written, whether he aware of it, or not. Those planning these realities well in advance have something nuclear in mind to mark his presidency. Bush had 911? What will Obama have? We'll see. We'll see.

Posted by: Obamageddon | May 18 2009 21:31 utc | 10

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