Michael Gordon. Does the name ring a bell? It ought to. Michael Gordon was a co-reporter with Judith Miller on a number of those false stories published by the New York Times, false stories otherwise known as propaganda, which assisted the Bush-Cheney Administration in ginning up support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, an action that led to perhaps a million dead, four or five million displaced, who knows how many millions wounded, an entire nation -- and later on a whole region -- in flames and ruin, and so on.
That Michael Gordon. He's still with the NYT, and it seems he's at it again, this time on the Ukrainian front, cheerfully spreading false information and propaganda about supposed Russian "special forces" stirring up trouble and making war -- or what have you -- in Ukraine's Eastern Sector, where Ukrainian troops have been ordered to engage and defeat the "terrorists."
Robert Parry explains at Consortium News:
Now, the New York Times has led its Monday editions with an article supposedly proving that Russian military special forces are secretly directing the popular uprisings in eastern Ukraine in resistance to the Kiev regime, which took power after the violent overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych on Feb. 22.
The Times based its story on grainy photographs provided by the Kiev regime supposedly showing the same armed “green men” involved in actions with the Russian military earlier and now with the pro-Russian protesters who have seized government buildings in towns in eastern Ukraine.
The Times reported, “Now, photographs and descriptions from eastern Ukraine endorsed by the Obama administration on Sunday suggest that many of the green men are indeed Russian military and intelligence forces — equipped in the same fashion as Russian special operations troops involved in annexing the Crimea region in February. Some of the men photographed in Ukraine have been identified in other photos clearly taken among Russian troops in other settings.”
The Times apparently accepts the photos as legitimate in terms of where and when they were taken, but that requires first trusting the source, the post-coup regime in Kiev which has a strong motive for making this argument as a prelude to violently crushing the eastern Ukrainian protests.
Secondly, one has to believe that the fuzzy photographs of the circled faces are the same individuals. They may be, but it is difficult to be sure from what is displayed. The principal figure shown is a man with a long beard and a cap sometimes pulled down over his forehead. He could be a Russian special forces soldier or a character from “Duck Dynasty.”
And the resemblance of some uniforms to those worn by Russian soldiers is also circumstantial, since military gear often looks similar or it could have been sold to civilians, or the men could be veterans who kept their old uniforms after leaving the military. The fact that these men are adept at handling weapons also could mean that they have prior military experience, not that they are still active.
For the Times to cite the Obama administration’s endorsement of the Kiev regime’s claims as some kind of verification is also silly. Anyone who has followed the Ukraine crisis knows that the U.S. government is wholeheartedly on the side of the post-coup regime, trumpeting its propaganda and dismissing any counterclaims from the Yanukovych camp or from Moscow.
There’s other silliness in the Times article, such as the notion that the Russians are unusual in “masking” their special forces when U.S. military and intelligence services have been doing the same for decades. In contradicting Russian denials that the Kremlin has dispatched undercover soldiers, the Times wrote:
“But masking the identity of its forces, and clouding the possibilities for international denunciation, is a central part of the Russian strategy, developed over years of conflict in the former Soviet sphere, Ukrainian and American officials say.”
Is it possible that the Times’ reporters, including Pentagon correspondent Gordon, don’t know that U.S. Special Forces and CIA officers routinely grow beards and wear local garb to blend in when they are operating in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Central America, etc.?
When I was covering Central America policy in the 1980s, I knew American mercenaries, including former U.S. Special Forces soldiers, who provided training and other assistance to the region’s security forces. Sometimes, these veterans coordinated their actions with the U.S. government and sometimes they were simply making money.
More recently, there have been the various permutations of Blackwater, a private security firm that employs former U.S. military personnel and makes them available to governments around the world, sometimes in support of American interests but sometimes not.
All these are factors that should be considered when making claims about whether military men who show up in Kiev or eastern Ukraine or anywhere else are on assignment for a specific government or are working for a local “oligarch” or are simply inspired by nationalism. But these nuances are missing from the Times story as it jumps to its preferred conclusion.
Plus, you have to wonder how skillful the Russians really are at “masking” if they have their special forces troops wear uniforms that can be so easily traced back to Russia.
That is not to say that these “green men” might not be Russian special forces. I have one longtime source who is convinced that they are Russian soldiers (though he has not seen any proof), and another source who insists that the Russian government did not want the uprisings in eastern Ukraine and did not dispatch these men.
But the Times should have learned from its previous blunders and taken care to include alternative scenarios or point to evidentiary holes in what the Kiev regime claimed. Instead, the Times has again acted like a prosecutor determined to make a case, not a fair-minded judge weighing the evidence.
It is also an indictment of the Times’ professionalism that this newspaper of record can’t seem to detect neo-Nazis in the post-coup regime, when some have open histories of pro-Nazi behavior, while it goes to dubious lengths to discredit the eastern Ukrainians who are resisting the imposition of authority from an unelected administration in Kiev.
Just like the “aluminum tube” story that justified killing so many Iraqis and the “vector analysis” that almost unleashed a devastating U.S. bombing campaign on Syria, the Times’ “green men” piece may be the prelude to a bloodbath in eastern Ukraine. [For more on the U.S. propaganda, see “Ukraine. Through the US ‘Looking Glass.’”]
That the New York Times would once again enable and publish such falsity in order to help "make the case for..." well, in this case, if not war, exactly, at least its simulation... is no surprise. It's what they do, it's part of the Times' corporate values, it's a way of life for the Gray Lady.
That they would send their crack Pentagon reporter to do it, someone who passes on every false Pentagon story he can get his hands on or he is fed is something to be expected as well.
But these days, reporters like Parry and many others smelled the rot and propaganda right off and raised quite a stink about it, so much so that Margaret Sullivan was forced to respond and a sort-of-something like a "correction" -- but not retraction -- wound up buried in the print editions of the paper and was posted online.
This sort of stinky propaganda effort is found throughout mainstream -- and much of the "alternative" -- American media, especially whenever the Powers That Be want to make a war of some sort. It's labeled "patriotic" reporting, but it's really the devil's handiwork. It's so common at the New York Times -- in regard to some issues but not others -- that the paper's reputation for truth-telling long ago went into the trash heap, and all their stories about issues of war and peace are met with understandable skepticism and many face fierce criticism. The Times lies, and Michael Gordon, as parrot and mouthpiece for the Pentagon and on his own account, is one of the Times' worst offenders. His partner, Judith Miller, now works for FOX, where she probably belonged all the time.
Gordon would fit right in.
Given the shaky provenance on which the original NYT story was based, you'd think there would be more than a few caveats before anything was published, especially in light of the obvious propaganda that is being distributed like candy from all the Western and Ukrainian governmental (or in the case of Ukraine "governmental") sources (not that the Russians aren't doing something similar; they definitely are.) The point is not that propaganda is being distributed, it is that the premiere media outlet in the United States is uncritically amplifying it and using one of its least credible and most notorious warmonger-reporters to do so.
Of course, part of the problem was that a coup was engineered and undertaken in Kiev, much as a similar action was taken in Cairo last year, to overthrow the elected government and install a "coup regime" friendly to certain Western and financial interests. Popular discontent was used as the pretext for the coup in both cases.
A major difference is that the coup in Cairo was backed by and undertaken by a very strong military -- which had also been instrumental in overthrowing the Mubarak regime two years prior. The Cairo overthrow of Morsi was accompanied by a furious bloodbath of Morsi supporters, thousands shot down in the streets, tens of thousands jailed and effectively disappeared. The Cairo coup was backed by if not instigated by Washington, and to this day, while the US Government pretends to "distance itself" from the brutal actions of the Cairo coup regime, Washington's support for the Cairo coup regime has never wavered. "Just don't call it a coup."
Ukraine is different because there is no substantial Ukrainian military. Thus a coup was instigated by a technocratic, predatory finance sector with strong EU ties (which included support from Americans like Pierre Omidyar) without much consideration of the consequences.
The Eastern Sector, which has close ties to Russia, wishes autonomy, and some of the government facilities in the Eastern Sector have been taken over and barricaded by Russian sympathizers, generally called "separatists." All that's clear about them is that they don't want to be ruled by the Fascists and Nazis in Kiev.
The Kiev coup regime is on very shaky ground, as they were installed to accomplish certain actions on behalf of the EU, NATO and IMF, and are not really a governing entity at all. Their control of the country is limited to say the least.
In order to make them into a government, they must demonstrate they control territory, the armed forces, and the loyalty of the People -- none of which they've been able to do. Especially not in the Eastern Sector, but it doesn't appear they have much support or authority anywhere in Ukraine outside the palaces they occupy in Kiev.
Consequently, the furious propaganda campaign, overwhelming practically everything else. The Kiev coup regime -- or its sponsors -- employ open Nazis, fascists and mercenaries to do their wet-work -- which may well have included the snipers in the Maidan square in Kiev which led directly to the overthrow of the Yanukovych government. Sending death squads to the Eastern Sector seems to be underway, but so far, results are inconclusive.
In the meanwhile, Michael Gordon at the New York Times will no doubt continue to crank out warrior propaganda to support the notion that this war of all wars is the necessary war.
And here I thought Anne Appelbaum was as bad as they get...