Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 15, 2013

NYT's OPCW "He Said, She Said" Reporting Misses Major Judgement

In 2002 José Bustani, the then head of the now Nobel prized Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, was fired because his insistence on bringing Iraq into the Chemical Weapon Treaty conflicted with the war plans of the Bush administration.

The New York Times recently picked up on the story:

Mr. Bolton, then an under secretary of state and later the American ambassador to the United Nations, told Mr. Bustani that the Bush administration was unhappy with his management style.

But Mr. Bustani, 68, who had been re-elected unanimously just 11 months earlier, refused, and weeks later, on April 22, 2002, he was ousted in a special session of the 145-nation chemical weapons watchdog.

The story behind his ouster has been the subject of interpretation and speculation for years, and Mr. Bustani, a Brazilian diplomat, has kept a low profile since then.

That bold sentence is wrong. The NYT presents the story as a mere "he said, she said" that misses any unambiguous judgement even as the case has been decided decisively in favor of Mr. Bustani:
Mr. Bolton insists that Mr. Bustani was ousted for incompetence. In a telephone interview on Friday, he confirmed that he had confronted Mr. Bustani. “I told him if he left voluntarily we would give him a gracious and dignified exit,” he said.

As Mr. Bustani tells the story, the campaign against him began in late 2001, after Iraq and Libya had indicated that they wanted to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, the international treaty that the watchdog agency oversees.
“We had a lot of discussions because we knew it would be difficult,” Mr. Bustani, who is now Brazil’s ambassador to France, said Friday in his embassy office in Paris. The plans, which he had conveyed to a number of countries, “caused an uproar in Washington,” he said. Soon, he was receiving warnings from American and other diplomats.

“By the end of December 2001, it became evident that the Americans were serious about getting rid of me,” he said. “People were telling me, ‘They want your head.’ ”

The "interpretation and speculation" the Times insists on in giving this account has long been ended. After being fired on the U.S.'s insistence Mr. Bustani went to court and the International Labor Organization, which has jurisdiction over international organizations, was unambiguous in its judgement 2232:
The court found that undue political influence by the United States led to Mr. Bustani's dismissal and that allowing such dismissal for purely political reasons was contrary to the principle neutral position of international organizations like the OPCW. The OPCW was ordered to pay Mr. Bustani not only for moral damage and legal costs but also his full salary up to 2005 when his term would have regularly ended.

But in the NYT's account that ILO judgement never happened. It is not once mentioned in the story. For the Times the issue is still one of "interpretation and speculation" even as a court has judged fully in support of Mr. Bustani's version of the story. By that it defends the neo-conservatives of the Bush administration who would not for a moment care about law but only about their megalomaniac project of global hegemony.

Posted by b on October 15, 2013 at 5:05 UTC | Permalink


Well spotted!

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 15 2013 5:54 utc | 1

I have to say I had a good laugh at the idea of John Bolton accusing someone - heck, anyone - of "incompetence".

But what really had be belly-laughing was this:
Bustani: "Everybody knew there weren’t any," .... "An inspection would make it obvious there were no weapons to destroy. This would completely nullify the decision to invade."
Bolton: "He made that argument after we invaded,"... "The kind of person who believes that argument is the kind who puts tin foil on his ears to ward off cosmic waves."


This appears to be the only "evidence" that the Moustache With A Face can come up with for Bustani's incompetence i.e. Bustani should have called out the neocon's for their incompetence before that incompetence had been revealed, not after.

Apparently Bustani is guilty of something that can only be called "incompetence-by-association".

John Bolton, doing what he does best: twitching his moustache while mouthing nonsense....

Posted by: Johnboy | Oct 15 2013 7:01 utc | 2

Classic stuff.


Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 15 2013 8:04 utc | 3

off topic but
good article on Putin

a commentator writes :
'I recently watched a documentary called "The Unknown Putin" in which it is described that something like 70% of Russia's oil revenue was being diverted offshore via product sharing agreements passed into law by Western advisers in the privatisation era. These product sharing agreements included metal, gas and many other resources too, but these same advisers also deindustralised the country by closing down a whole host of essential industries like tool engineering, electronics, machine building and many others.

Towards the end of the video it mentions a US plan that was discovered to nuke about 300 Russian cities (I think this is the SIOP?)

Thankfully, it never happened thankfully, but according to the narrator these 300 Russian cities correlated with the locations of those same industries the "reformers" later closed down'

Posted by: brian | Oct 15 2013 8:23 utc | 4

@4 "Thankfully, it never happened thankfully, but according to the narrator these 300 Russian cities correlated with the locations of those same industries the "reformers" later closed down".

Well, yeah, OK. But it should be pointed out that cities with "essential industries like tool engineering, electronics, machine building" are exactly the targets that you would put on anyone's list of "fit fer' a good ol' nukin'....".

Posted by: Johnboy | Oct 15 2013 8:34 utc | 5

brian@4, you are right this is an excellent article on Putin. I saw it (on ICH?) a couple of days ago.
b puts the NYT piece in a proper context. It is a reminder of how debauched the UN and its agencies have become since the US bought up a majority of atolls, submissives and jackal states in the General Assembly.
Pepe Escobar on the erosion of the dollar's dominance is worth reading,(As is almost anyone who refers to Sun Tzu, Bob Dylan and Gramsci in four brief paragraphs.)

Posted by: bevin | Oct 15 2013 13:59 utc | 6

Maybe he should have included a hat tip to Slavoj Žižek.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 15 2013 14:39 utc | 7

Operation Orient Express. M. Albright and cohorts organized!

>> The US vetoed a second term for Boutros Boutros Gahli, UN SecGen. during Rwanda and Yugoslavia - replaced with the more pliant Kofi Annan. B- B G was against NATO bombing in Bosnia but Neskoffi supported it.

Bolton was charged (by L.Wilkerson under Colin Powell, iirc?) with getting rid of Mohamed El Baradei, for El B’s third term as DG of the IAEA. (2005.) El B denied that Iraq had a nuke bomb program, Iran ditto, etc. This op, if it had a name (don’t recall), failed.

The US was alone in its opposition to El B and various underground delegates / parties clubbed together to support him, it was quite spectacular. The US caved.

El B did not stand for a fourth term and moved forward to other adventures as we know.

Btw, Bolton has been vociferous about supporting the Egyptian Army, against Morsi / the MB and ‘other’ forces, arguments like ‘MB against democracy’, ‘uphold Camp David’, ‘keep Suez canal open’, etc. In contrast, (say) to McCain, who appears to have some super-strong ties to the MB.

The present director of the OPWC (had to look it up, know nothing about him) is Ahmet Uzumcu, a Turkish career diplo.


Üzümcü was consul at the Consulate General in Aleppo, Syria and ambassador to Israel from July 28, 1999 to June 30, 2002. Between 2002 and 2004, he served as the Permanent Representative of Turkey to the NATO. Üzümcü was appointed Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations Office at Geneva in 2006, serving at this post until 2010. In 2008, he became chair of the Conference on Disarmament. (....)

or here:

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 15 2013 15:05 utc | 8

Saker is wrong about communism. Sure, the soviet version failed. So what? Just because something doesn't work now doesn't necessarily mean it won't work later on. Other than flinging feces, everything that works today at one time didn't. The future is a big place and capitalism had a head start. Don't forget, anyone can call himself a communist: Lenin, Stalin, Jim Jones. Confucius say: Just because man play guitar, doesn't mean he make music.

Posted by: ruralito | Oct 15 2013 15:22 utc | 9

Bolton should be UNDER a prison somewhere (where the sewage flows) for the rest of his miserable existence. The same goes for the entire Bush administration, as well as Black Bush (Obomber) and his klan. Sadly, justice does not prevail and the evil gladly prosper.

Posted by: Jim T | Oct 15 2013 15:26 utc | 10

What is a "saker"? Aha, right at the bottom of his endless web pages, he tells you: it's a type of falcon. But anyway, it's baffling to see Old Trot Bev saying that Saker's article on Putin is so good. It is good, actually, but it is vitiated by a very peculiar theory about Trotsky. This theory is almost the same as that of our own dear beloved fascists, by the way.

The theory is that Western Jews created communism and imposed it upon Holy Mother Russia mainly in order to stamp out her wondrous Pravoslavic religion, which is the sole source of human values for the entire planet, but the Trotskyites lost control when Lenin fell ill (or was poisoned, how very topical), because unfortunately Trotsky also fell ill, and was unable to manage the necessary deft footwork to become Lenin's successor and deliver long-suffering Rus to the atheist yoke. Instead Stalin took over, made a sharp turn in the drection of Russian nationalism, and gave the Orthodox Church a shot in the arm, all of which was most unwelcome. Then, perforce, the western Jews (aka the Trotskyites), had to become ferocious anti-communists, and eventually morph into neocons.

In other words, if Trotsky had succeeded Lenin as planned, the USSR would have become a socialist paradise and the rest of the world would have followed in short order. But on the other hand, these fascists don't believe that communism works, could work, or could ever work, because after all, it's atheist, so that necessarily means it can only be the gaping maw of Hell. But anyway, Trotsky would have smiled, and the western Jews (this time wearing their central bankers' hats) would have made sure everybody had plenty of money but that it was wisely invested in productive enterprise so that it didn't immediately lose value, so communism would have appeared to work, and the rest of the world would have gone for it, and the Jews would have ended up as masters of the universe. If Bev is down with all of this, then I have hope for Trotskyism after all.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 15 2013 16:24 utc | 11

Apparently, one of the towns where the gas attacks are alleged to have occurred on Aug. 21 has been under such heavy bombardment by SAA forces recently that some Muslim clerics (haven't gotten a source on their names or affiliations) have issued a fatwa declaring that the residents of the town are permitted to eat cats, dogs and donkeys (human hearts or livers will be considered next). MSF, whose inflated figures figured prominently in the Aug. 21 report, are also quoted about the dire humanitarian situation of these "civilians." From the BBC:

The clerics said it was a cry for help to the whole world, adding that if the situation continued to deteriorate, the living would have to eat the dead.

It is not the first such fatwa issued in the Syrian conflict.

Similar religious edicts were announced in Homs and Aleppo when the fighting in those cities was at its fiercest.

Aid agencies have said that providing food and aid to areas under attack should be as much a priority as the programme to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

The general director of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Christopher Stokes, has described it as an "absurd" situation when chemical weapons inspectors are able to drive freely through areas in desperate need while aid convoys are blocked.

Hundreds of people were killed on 21 August when rockets filled with the nerve agent were fired at the suburbs of Zamalka, Ein Tarma and Muadhamiya. The inspectors did not establish who was responsible, but the government and rebels have blamed each other.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Oct 15 2013 21:34 utc | 12

@11 ??

Posted by: bevin | Oct 16 2013 0:28 utc | 13

Bustani's interview in the Hindu. The tragedy is not that the US did what it did, but the rest of the world including Brazil and India caved in. Otherwise, the Iraq invasion could have been stopped.

India was then under a openly right-wing government. Unfortunately, the current government is marching to the same US drum beats, voting in the IAEA against Iran and now arguing what the NSA is doing is business as usual and nothing for Indians to worry about.

Posted by: Prabir | Oct 16 2013 4:13 utc | 14

@11 ?? Posted by: bevin | Oct 15, 2013 8:28:59 PM | 13
Yah, rilly. That's what they believe. Ask 'em.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 16 2013 7:43 utc | 15

Why are we surprised by this? The NYT is 'his master's voice'. See also, fascist Bolton's 'Comment is Free' in the London Guardian on why Iran can't be trusted. The venality of psychopaths like Bolton is just staggering:

Posted by: William Bowles | Oct 16 2013 13:27 utc | 16


Things different under Trotsky? Socialism a Jewish plot? Come on Rowan, get it together man! Yeah, it was all planned by the Illuminati...

Posted by: William Bowles | Oct 16 2013 14:00 utc | 17

I wasn't aware that the Yankees had 'neutralised' OPCW's Bustani but it's only one more link in the long list of contrived deceptions and lies surrounding Iraq's non-existent WMD. The most flagrant breach of diplomacy/ethics was when the US Ambassador to the UN (Negraponte?) snatched the dossier submitted by Iraq from where it had been tabled, from under the noses of the world's UN representatives, and took it away to be dismantled - enabling the Yankees to spoon-feed US-selected excerpts to the credulous and spineless scaredy cats at the UN. Someone should have punched his lights out and stomped on his head - but no-one lifted a finger.

I'm not sure how important it is that the NYT omitted all mention of Bustani's successful legal action for compensation. I'm quite sure the NYT is as aware as everyone else that if a Yankee political appointee's mouth is moving then he (or she) is lying.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 16 2013 14:22 utc | 18

@4, @6, @11 - Saker's article is really interesting and doesn't rely upon his beliefs on 1917

Posted by: claudio | Oct 16 2013 14:46 utc | 19

On the subject of the NYT's coverage of the OPCW, see Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting's Blog:

Posted by: William Bowles | Oct 16 2013 16:39 utc | 20

What I read was that Brasil was to weak to protect its diplomat and therefore allow him to be savaged by the monster and bully that is Yohan Voltron. God I would love to punch him in his face. I dated a Brasilian diplomat and their diplomatic core is very professional. This must have stung them very deeply if it was indeed common knowledge in Brasilia. Ay Ay Ay The USA just knows how to create more enemies. Everyday more and more people are becoming disgusted with the American model and the fact that one country can hold the world hostage and bully and humiliate people's and cultures. Basta!

Posted by: Fernando | Oct 16 2013 17:53 utc | 21

I also read Saker, he speaks Russian, is an ethnic Russian and is much more intimate with what goes on in Russia & the Russian mind/soul than any of us could ever be. I would not discount his sayings, plus he is a caballero.
As he has himself described him, "old school Russian"...

Posted by: Fernando | Oct 16 2013 17:57 utc | 22

so bustani was ousted because US because 'his insistence on bringing Iraq into the Chemical Weapon Treaty conflicted with the war plans of the Bush administration.' and US regime compounds its felony with a Big Lie.

Posted by: brian | Oct 16 2013 21:09 utc | 23

Posted by: Prabir | Oct 16, 2013 12:13:19 AM | 14

yes the danger of democracy is it can put in office a rotten regime that can cause a major disaster. Russia with EU oriented Medvedev refused to oppose UNSC 1973 which lead to NATO bombing Libya and the murder of Gadaffi

Posted by: brian | Oct 16 2013 21:14 utc | 24

@14 the article on Bustani is no longer there

this may be it:

The Bush administration feared that chemical weapons inspections in Iraq would neutralise their plans for invading it as there were no chemicals weapons. By December 2001, I knew that the Americans were serious about getting rid of me.’
José Maurício Bustani could have prevented the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But the first director general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was shown the door at a special session of the then 145-nation watchdog in 2002. It’s an open secret that the Brazilian diplomat was fired by the OPCW under pressure from the U.S. administration of George W. Bush, which saw Bustani as a major obstacle in its plans to attack Iraq. After leaving the global organisation, Bustani quietly returned to Brazilian diplomatic service. As the OPCW was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last Friday, the world suddenly remembered the first chief of the organisation and his controversial exit.

In an exclusive interview with The Hindu’s Shobhan Saxena in Sao Paulo, Bustani, who is now Brazil’s ambassador to France, told his side of the story: the real reasons behind his removal from the OPCW, how he could have stopped the Iraq war and how shocked he was by India’s vote against him.

What was your first reaction when you heard that the OPCW has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

I felt happy because it’s the recognition of all the good work done by the organisation in the past 15 years. They certainly deserved it for all their efforts in making the world safe from chemical weapons. It’s also a recognition and acceptance of the OPCW as an instrument of diplomacy in peace processes. It’s playing a very important role in such processes, and not just in Syria.

But it’s not just a coincidence that the prize has been announced as chemical weapons inspectors are working in Syria...

Yes, that is definitely a factor but the present situation in Syria is very different from what it was 11 years ago in Iraq. At that time, the U.S. was determined to oppose Iraq joining the convention against the weapons, which it did not even have. But right now inspectors from the organisation are cataloguing the Syrian government’s stockpiles of chemical weapons as a step forward in Syria’s civil war. So, the OPCW is a part of the peace plan this time. In 2002, it was seen as an obstacle to U.S. plans to invade Iraq.

What exactly happened in 2002? When were you forced to leave? There is a lot of speculation about it but what’s your side of the story?

As the first director general of the watchdog, I had a huge task of building it into a good organisation. In the beginning, we had just 87 members but we created a code of conduct and made a programme of technical assistance for member nations and we got many more countries — almost double the number — to sign the charter. I got re-elected for a second term in 2001 and later that year, things begin to turn bad after Iraq and Libya expressed their desire to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, the international treaty. As to become a member a country has to provide a list of stockpiles and agree to the inspection and destruction of weapons, our inspectors were planning to visit Iraq in January 2002. That caused a major uproar in Washington and I began to get warnings from American and other diplomats. The Bush administration feared that chemical weapons inspections in Iraq would neutralise their plans for invading it as there were no chemicals weapons. By December 2001, I knew that the Americans were serious about getting rid of me. I fought hard till the end. But the western countries all came together and the developing nations failed to back me.

So, they basically removed you because you were an obstacle in their plan to invade Iraq?

Yes. If our plan about chemical weapons inspection in Iraq had been accepted, there would be no war. In those months, Washington was claiming that Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons, but our experts believed that those weapons were destroyed in the 1990s after the war with Iran. An inspection would make it obvious there were no weapons to destroy. This would have made it impossible for the Americans to invade Iraq. So, they accused me of going beyond my mandate without consulting with the member nations. They used this as a justification to call a special session and vote me out.

In 2002, Brazil was a developing country and yet you couldn’t get support from other developing nations...

I didn’t even get enough support from my own government. Our government (of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso) was pressured by Washington. Initially, the Americans failed to get a no-confidence motion against me from the OPCW’s executive council. But then they threatened to cut off its financing. They were supported by Japan and then the U.K. With the U.S. and Japan, which provided almost half the funds, threatening to stop financing, the organisation faced the risk of collapsing. And Washington pressured other major developing countries to vote against me. Even India voted against me. That was quite shocking.

But India has quite a good record of chemical weapons elimination...

Yes, but the Indian government was pressured by Washington to vote against me. I was banking on India to support me as that would have mobilised other developing countries as well. But India’s vote came as a big shock.

Posted by: brian | Oct 16 2013 21:17 utc | 25

Posted by: William Bowles | Oct 16, 2013 9:27:58 AM | 16

id rather not: israels american pit bull Boltons mouthings makes me ill. He is an eg of the dangers of 'representative democracy'

Posted by: brian | Oct 16 2013 21:28 utc | 26

Speaking of The Moustached One, he has an utterly outrageous article over at the Guardian:

On the subject of Iran's nuclear ambitions it is - without any doubt - the biggest pile of steaming bullshit this side of a Bibi Netanyahu speech at the UN.

The man is an idiot.

Posted by: Johnboy | Oct 17 2013 2:42 utc | 27

'b' tells an amusing story about the NY Times and José Bustani, and tells it well. But the moral of the story is that 'b' shouldn't have been reading the NY Times in the first place -- in my opinion. But apparently 'b' does not agree with my opinion, since 'b' tells broadly similar stories about the shit in the NY Times and Wash Post on a semi-weekly basis.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 18 2013 1:36 utc | 28

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 17, 2013 9:36:44 PM | 28

Unfortunately, it's not that simple, P. One of the potential by-products of lurking at analytical blogs, such as MoA and What's Left, is that it helps to immunise the mind by keeping the bs detector active and up to date. One of the irritating truths about What's Left, in particular and MoA less frequently, is the frequency with which the principals cite truthful revelations from NYT, WaPo et al as the basis for helpfully insightful analysis.

What's Left lists sources at the end of each article and the "sources we love to hate" figure prominently in many of them.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 18 2013 3:05 utc | 29

It's worth keeping in mind that the best sources aren't right 100% of the time and the worst sources aren't wrong 100% of the time. It's all a matter of balance - keeping the bs detector fine-tuned and going wherever you wish without having to worry too much about being gulled.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 18 2013 3:20 utc | 30

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