Thursday, 30 June 2016

More a political compromise than an act of justice

[What follows is excerpted from an article by Robert Parry published on this date five years ago on the Consortium News website. It reads in part:]

The New York Times, like most US newspapers, prides itself on its “objectivity.” The Times even boasts about printing news “without fear or favor.” But the reality is quite different, with the Times agreeing – especially last decade – to withhold newsworthy information that the Bush-43 administration [RB: George W Bush was the 43rd President of the United States] considered too sensitive. (...)

The Lockerbie Bombing
Yet, to this day, The New York Times and other major US news outlets continue to tilt their coverage of foreign policy and national security issues to fit within the general framework laid out by Official Washington. Rarely do mainstream journalists deviate too far.

It has been common, for instance, for the Times and other media outlets to state as flat fact that Libyan agents, presumably on orders from Col Muammar Gaddafi, blew Pan Am 103 out of the skies over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 270 people.

However, anyone who has followed that case knows that the 2001 conviction of Libyan operative Ali al-Megrahi by a special Scottish court was highly dubious, more a political compromise than an act of justice. Another Libyan was found not guilty, and one of the Scottish judges told Dartmouth government professor Dirk Vandewalle about “enormous pressure put on the court to get a conviction.” [RB: The High Court information officer, Elizabeth Cutting, has denied that this ever happened.]

In 2007, after the testimony of a key witness against Megrahi was discredited, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission agreed to reconsider the conviction as a grave miscarriage of justice. However, that review was proceeding slowly in 2009 when Scottish authorities released Megrahi on humanitarian grounds, after he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.

Megrahi dropped his appeal in order to gain the early release, but that doesn’t mean he was guilty. He has continued to assert his innocence and an objective press corps would reflect the doubts regarding his curious conviction. [For details, see’s “Three Deadly War Myths.”]

After all, the Lockerbie case is not simply a historical mystery. It is one of the central reasons why the United States and its NATO allies are insisting that Gaddafi must be removed from power prior to any negotiated settlement of Libya’s ongoing civil war.

In pressing this need to oust Gaddafi first, President Barack Obama made a reference to the Lockerbie bombing at his Wednesday news conference, a presumed “fact” that may have set the White House correspondents to nodding their heads but may well not be true.

Which brings us to a key problem regarding American journalists siding with U.S. officials in presenting information to the American people: Is it really “good for the country”?

By now, history should have taught us that it is often better for the American people to know what their government is doing than to be left in the dark where they can be led around by clever propagandists, aided and abetted by a complicit news media.

Indeed, when the Times and other US news outlets act in that way, they may be causing more harm than the propaganda organs of a repressive regime would, since the “news” from those government mouthpieces is discounted by those who read and see it.

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