Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 21, 2015

Hiding Its Own Role NYT Publishes Anonymous Officials' Snowden Smears

What do certain U.S. administration officials do when they want to push a line of propaganda out to the world? They call up some willing stenographer from the New York Times. The NYT stenographers guarantee anonymity to the government officials and they certainly do not check the logical or factual plausibility of the fairy tales they are told. Instead they write up what they whatever is said as exclusive and a scoop.

In today's fairy tale, by Eric Schmidt and Ben Hubbard, we are told that the Islamic State leader "takes steps to ensure [his] groups survival".

Funny idea. Why would a group that survived the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the years since under constant, intensive military pressure NOW take steps for its survival? I had imagined it had taken such steps years ago. Otherwise how would it still exist?

But asking real questions is not a NYT journalist's job:

The Islamic State’s reclusive leader has empowered his inner circle of deputies as well as regional commanders in Syria and Iraq with wide-ranging authority, a plan to ensure that if he or other top figures are killed, the organization will quickly adapt and continue fighting, American and Iraqi intelligence officials say.

The officials say the leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delegates authority to his cabinet, or shura council, which includes ministers of war, finance, religious affairs and others.

The Islamic State has deputy leaders which run various different parts of the organization? Wow. How would we ever have known this without anonymous "American and Iraqi intelligence officials" explaining such?

Any bigger organization has a leadership that delegates to deputies who run various parts of the business. That's how people organize and how they have done about anywhere and anytime. Would anyone, and for what reason, have expected something different from the Islamic State? Why then are we presented such a story?

There is nothing really new in the piece. It says that IS is run as a large organization and has somewhat autonomous branches in various countries. That was all well known. But the real agenda of the whole story may be condensed in just one paragraph which stands out as an obvious lie:

The Islamic State has also studied revelations from Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, about how the United States gathers information on militants. A main result is that the group’s top leaders now use couriers or encrypted channels that Western analysts cannot crack to communicate, intelligence and military officials said.

IT IS ALL SNOWDEN'S FAULT say anonymous government officials and the NYT's voice activated tape recorders, aka <I>journalists</I>,  write it down and publish it.

But Osama Bin Laden was killed before Snowden left the NSA. Did he use cell phones or did he fear that those would be used to trace him? Have AlQaeda and the Islamic State started to use encryption only after the Snowden revelations? No :

[AlQaeda] ditched cell phones in favor of walkie-talkies and coded names. Information was passed through intermediaries. If someone needed to send an email, it was shielded by highly sophisticated encryption software.

That quote is from 2011, years before Snowden. But protecting communication started even earlier. In 2008 the Taliban in Afghanistan shut down cell phone towers that traced their movements. Such groups always protect their communication because they know that their enemies will use those to find and kill them. There is nothing new about this and whatever Snowden did has nothing to do with that. The NYT stenographers surely know this but they still write down the smears they are told without examining and explaining the actual facts.

And by the way - what secret did Snowden actually publish? He gave NSA papers to reporters and newspaper and they are the ones who selected some and made them public. One of those papers was the New York Times. The sentence inculpating Snowden should thereby have said:

The Islamic State has also studied revelations published by the New York Time about how the United States gathers information on militants.

That the NYT was involved in the same issue that is now used by anonymous officials to smear Snowden is of course not mentioned in the story.

The New York Times fired Judith Miller who wrote down fairy tales told by anonymous administration officials about no existing Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. How was whatever she did different from the stenographing Schmidt and Hubbard are doing in today's piece?

Posted by b on July 21, 2015 at 16:29 UTC | Permalink


No difference, the NYT and 'anonymous' are counting on the public having an attention span of minutes, not years. Judith Miller has been out on the book rehabilitation tour. Ex-Sen. Saxby Chambliss wants to hang Snowden - Chambliss being the sleaze bag that compared his opponent for that office to Bin Ladin and Sadam Hussein. That would be Max Cleland, a triple amputee veteran.

Posted by: Tom in AZ | Jul 21 2015 17:38 utc | 1

Awwwwww ... poor NYT. That big meanie Snowden uncovers america's crimes and so it follows logically that he's helping the psychos that the US created and is still funding right up to this second. I don't know who really buys this pathetic drivel but I guess the guiding principle is that if you repeat lies often enough they'll be accepted as truth. Goebbels would be proud.

BTW, Snowden has a lot more Easter eggs that he can cast out into the waters and I'm sure he's read this little pearly gob of wisdom. So keep up the good work "newspaper of record."

Posted by: Some Guy | Jul 21 2015 19:24 utc | 2

My takeaway from the story is how it attempted to breathe life into the fable that ISIS is a homegrown organization led by Iraqis, rather than a GCC-run jihadi clearinghouse, at that same time it undercuts that very thesis by including quotes that 1) called al-Baghdadi nothing more than a religious figurehead, and 2) by acknowledging that ISIS relies on foreign fighters to win its battles.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jul 21 2015 19:52 utc | 3

Nailed it b.

Just compare NYTs hit piece conflating of a single individual in Snowdens privacy crimes revelations, against the War BY Terror of the evil US empire, with for example the US's Allied states assistance to ISIS such a Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Isreal etc.

The difference in bullshit criticism by the 'empire times' of Snowden, and all those powerful states supporting ISIL, is just to clear for even the smallest bullshit meter. Where is those evil states criticism,hey, the Empire times ?

PS. If ISIL was not so propagandistic in its dispicable beheading videos, they would be called moderates even now, as well as Al Qaeda is now.

Posted by: tom | Jul 21 2015 20:04 utc | 4

@4 'If ISIL was not so propagandistic in its dispicable beheading videos, they would be called moderates even now, as well as Al Qaeda is now.'

Give it time tom. I fully expect to see articles explaining how decapitation is a humanitarian gesture.

Posted by: dh | Jul 21 2015 20:16 utc | 5

This is an okay post. I think you should probably spend more time scribbling about Germany Over All. That's more interesting.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 21 2015 20:33 utc | 6

NYT = Obama Administration's discarded sperm receptacle. Pumping out israeli hasbara 24-7. They did it for Bush, who was barely literate unless someone crammed a mouthful of hasbara into his hole for him to spew.
ISIS is a tool. So it contains some disaffected officers from the regiments of Saddam's disbanded army. So what?
They kill as many Muslims as they can - that'll teach AmeriKa!
The media in AmeriKa has become a smelly puke bag full of contradictory, unbelievable ideology mixed in with a kernel of truth here and there. They lost me for good a long time ago (March 19,2003 to be exact, but it was coming for a long time.)

Hey you wanna get your money's worth propagandizing dumb AmeriKans, right? Go to the shill king of all the shills, the NYT and NYT for the ears, NPR.

Posted by: farflungstar | Jul 21 2015 20:44 utc | 7

dh @ 5

Humanitarian Decapitation Intervention.


Yep. I guess if Assads government goes down and the US's ISIL proxy terrorist take over, then Decapitation Intervention could be one war cry from the fake left.

Posted by: tom | Jul 21 2015 21:12 utc | 8

B does an excellent job of exposing the repetitive and fact free propaganda meme in the NYT aimed at Snowden then some of the Power Rangers here use the same NYT type repetition of fact free propaganda to push their favorite meme about who's who in the ME.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Jul 21 2015 22:47 utc | 9

"PS. If ISIL was not so propagandistic in its dispicable beheading videos, they would be called moderates even now, as well as Al Qaeda is now."

ISIS is one step ahead of you: ISIS 'banning' of beheading videos a 'not surprising' PR move. Soon they'll be so cute and cuddly we'll be begging for them to wipe out all of America's ... er, their... enemies in the region.

It's really a boon for despicable scumbags like WayOutWest who were defending the ISIS assholes no matter who and how they gorily mutilated men, women, and children. It will certainly make your job easier, which is a shame, because its still the same rotten crew doing it - they won't stop beheading of course, just the videos.

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 21 2015 23:30 utc | 10

Does not dispute the fact that Snowden is a traitor. Come back from Russia, that bastion of democracy, & face a jury of his peers

Posted by: GM | Jul 22 2015 0:00 utc | 11

i think it is part of the job description as an official stenographer! lie, lie and lie.. short of that, leave out as much of the other side of the story that you can.. then we have bozos on the net who love the traitor lingo.. made from those incapable of escaping the propaganda matrix that defines present day usa..

Posted by: james | Jul 22 2015 1:33 utc | 12


I understand why sycophants and quislings who spend their lives bowing to corrupt authority and power would view Snowden as a traitor to their class but for those people who still appreciate our constitution, however flawed, he personifies what it means to put the rule of law before the rule of men.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Jul 22 2015 1:49 utc | 13


I dispute the fact, as you state, that Snowden is a traitor. I was a little surprised to read such ignorance from a MOA reader. Which private finance controlled and global plutocratic owned planet do you live on? Is the rule-of-law where you live as corrupt as the rest of the private and public organizational structures? Your delusion of a "fair trial by peers" for Snowden is quite the scenario.

The NYT oft times makes Pravda look almost forthright. And of course American propaganda is better! It is a product of competition among liars, cheats and thieves.......oh, excuse me, all the financial raping is legal and Snowden is a bad guy, just ask GM

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jul 22 2015 3:10 utc | 14

@11 - Yeah sure mate?! So apparently (if you are American) you consider Snowden a traitor for telling the truth about the extent of your own governments' illegal activities against your own people ?

I somehow doubt he'll get a fair trial in the "Land of the NOT-so-free" whose people continue to just bend over & accept the growing armies of spoooks & militarised police forces that continue to erode all their civil liberties & freedoms so they can be spied on at all times to achieve some sort of fake facade of a consumer society with zero risks.
Gees - if only we didnt have to think as well...

Posted by: Cracklier | Jul 22 2015 3:41 utc | 15

Glenn Greenwald agrees with you b, and made essentially the same points.

Additionally, he points out how readily this drivel from the NYTimes is picked up not just by the 'faithful' readers but by 'journalists' everywhere who treat this stuff in the NYTimes like gospel and echo it throughout the msm chamber.

It may be the spirit of Judy Miller as you and GG point out, b ... but it's the mind, body, and greasy fingers of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., isn't it, that sustains it?

I first noticed the NYTimes' precipitate degeneration when it helped frame Wen Ho Lee, co-incidentally just after Jr. replaced his dad at the helm of the NYTimes. I, like many, read the NYTimes every day ... for thirty years. I haven't bothered since the Pinch and Judy show. I should have quit after Wen Ho Lee.

I think someone ought to take an in-depth look at Jr. I regard him as one of the archest of the neocons ... ready to 'lie, cheat, and steal for the cause'. As you point out, his rag has consistently lied and cheated since his ascession to the throne at the NYTimes. I imagine someone's due diligence will turn up his theft as well.

The way the 'second team' 'journalists' salute any lie run up the NYTimes' flagpole by the neocons in the administration du jour underlines the fact that its long past time someone pointed out the envolvement of the naked, hands-on, neocon emperor of deceit, betrayal and stenography at the top of the NYTimes who has personally made that paper what it is today.

Posted by: jfl | Jul 22 2015 6:21 utc | 16
US strike 'kills Khorasan Group leader'

The United States says it has killed a senior al-Qaeda militant in an air strike in north-western Syria.

A Pentagon statement said Muhsin al-Fadhli was targeted two weeks ago while travelling in a vehicle near Sarmada.

It described Fadhli as the leader of a network of veteran al-Qaeda operatives, known as the "Khorasan Group", who were allegedly plotting external attacks against the US and its allies.

The Kuwaiti was also reported to have been killed in a US strike last year.

Fadhli was a confidant of Osama Bin Laden and one of the few al-Qaeda members to receive advanced warning of the 11 September 2001 attacks, according to the US.

Posted by: okie farmer | Jul 22 2015 11:24 utc | 17

"Give it time tom. I fully expect to see articles explaining how decapitation is a humanitarian gesture."

Actually, US establishment got enchanted with the idea of decapitation as a policy tools. For example, a restaurant frequented by Saddam Hussein was bombed, killing the staff and customers, although sparing the alleged target, so a big bunch of civilians was dispatched by our government for the noble cause of "regime decapitation". Later the defeated regime organized resistance and the plan to eliminate it again used decapitation idea. Al-Qaeda was supposed to be decapitated and so on and so on.

Needless to say, decapitation is not a new idea, and even in the remote antiquity it was known that it does not always work. "The second labor of Hercules was to kill the Lernean Hydra, a monstrous serpent with nine heads ... With his club, Hercules attacked the many heads of the hydra, but as soon as he smashed one head, two more would burst forth in its place!"

Even the ancients would not conceive the strategy when one branch of the government tries its best to remove leaders of a movement, while the other coordinates supplies of weapons etc. to the same people, or celebrates the cordial alliance with the suppliers and sells weapons to them. Ideally, it provides two streams of achievements: various heads that can be removed and weapons contracts. In general, Sisyphos is more of a role model than Hercules (who actually completed his labors).

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 24 2015 18:43 utc | 18

About the topic of NYT article, one can imagine an article in the Science section explaining how bacteria developed resistance to antibiotics in the aftermath of irresponsible publications disclosing the use of antibiotics and many other details.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 24 2015 18:56 utc | 19

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