05 October 2009

Simon Tisdall - dishonest intelligence stooge?

Text of letter sent to Simon Tisdall, Guardian Editor and Guardian Reader's Editor:

Mr Tisdall,

Just thought I'd drop you this line to let you know that I do not, unfortunately for you, believe a word you write - if it is you that actually writes the propaganda drivel masquerading as factual news that appears under your name in the Observer/Guardian.

On 22 May 2007, you claimed, on the front page no less, that Iran was "secretly forging ties with al-Qaida elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces intended to tip a wavering US Congress into voting for full military withdrawal".

A feature of this piece was the sources you used: "US officials say", "a senior US official in Baghdad warned", "US officials now say", "the senior official in Baghdad said", "The administration official", "US officials say", "the senior administration official said", "the official claimed". This continued throughout the whole article giving the impression that you had basically retouched the punctuation of a US propaganda hand out.

As John Pilger correctly comments in his latest article for the New Statesman "Based on unsubstantiated claims by the Pentagon, the writer Simon Tisdall presented as fact an Iranian "plan" to wage war on, and defeat, US forces in Iraq by September of that year — a demonstrable falsehood for which there has been no retraction. The official jargon for this kind of propaganda is “psy-ops”, the military term for psychological operations. In the Pentagon and Whitehall, it has become a critical component of a diplomatic and military campaign to blockade, isolate and weaken Iran by hyping its “nuclear threat”: a phrase now used incessantly by Barack Obama and Gordon Brown, and parroted by the BBC and other broadcasters as objective news. And it is fake."

Your more recent attempts to convince the public to support yet another military aggression in the Middle East, with the millions of innocent lives that would be lost as a result, are just as sinister. Last week you claimed that Iran had been "caught red-handed...by the forced disclosure". I beg your pardon? You condemn Iran for doing its job, declaring a facility to the IAEA and inviting its inspectors in! And the conclusion you reach is that they've "been caught lying, again"? Incredible from someone supposed to be unbiased.

Yesterday you continued in the same vein, writing of "disclosures concerning Iran's alleged attempts to design a nuclear warhead to be mounted on its Shahab long-range missiles that are capable of striking Israel and some European countries." You continue with some conspiracy theory about how the IAEA is hiding this information from the public "for fear of increasing international tensions."

Your source for this claim was the NYT, but you didn't pass on their caveat: "its conclusions are tentative and subject to further confirmation of the evidence, which it says came from intelligence agencies...".

Why not? This is outrageous, yet again, presenting as fact unsubstantiated claims. Neither was there any mention of El Baradei's recent statement reported by your own newspaper that there is "no credible evidence" that Iran is developing nuclear weapons".

Why was the caveat in the New York Times not repeated?

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