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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 3/15/09

Betraying 'President's Men' Legacy, WaPo Becomes Neocon Propaganda Sheet

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For Americans who hear the name Washington Post and still think of “All the President’s Men” – brave journalists and editors facing down a corrupt President – today’s version of the newspaper would be a sad disappointment, a betrayal of a noble past.

Over the last three decades, the Post has evolved into a neoconservative propaganda sheet, especially its opinion section which fronted for George W. Bush’s false Iraq-WMD claims, led the long-term bashing of Iraq War critics, and defends whatever actions the Israeli government takes, including the recent war in Gaza and apparently its desire to preemptively bomb Iran.

Rather than a newspaper committed to the truth and favoring a broad debate about important issues, the Washington Post has become an enforcement mechanism for a neocon-dominated Establishment, setting the parameters for permissible points of view and twisting facts for that purpose.

A recent example of this enforcement role was its March 12 lead editorial trashing former U.S. Ambassador Charles “Chas” Freeman for issuing a two-page statement pointing out that his nomination to serve as a top intelligence analyst had been torpedoed by Washington’s powerful Israel Lobby.

To the Post’s editors, however, there apparently is no Israel Lobby; there has been no large-scale organized effort to bend U.S. foreign policy to the interests of Israeli governments over the years. Even the suggestion that such a body exists is a sign of delusion, bigotry and a conspiratorial mindset.

The Post editorial entitled “Blame the ‘Lobby’” declared that “Mr. Freeman issued a two-page screed … in which he described himself as the victim of a shadowy and sinister ‘Lobby’ whose ‘tactics plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency’ and which is ‘intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government.’ Yes, Mr. Freeman was referring to Americans who support Israel – and his statement was a grotesque libel.”

The Post editors then raised the irrelevant fact that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee “says that it took no formal position on Mr. Freeman’s appointment and undertook no lobbying against him” as the choice to chair the National Intelligence Council, which oversees production of intelligence estimates about threats facing the United States.

The Post’s sleight of hand here was to pretend that only a formal AIPAC objection and direct actions by AIPAC personnel could represent the Israel Lobby. In reality, the Israel Lobby is far more expansive than simply AIPAC and includes a wide array of think tanks, contributors to political campaigns, and media commentators, including senior Post editors and columnists.

The Post’s View

In the editorial, the Post’s effort to deny the existence of an Israel Lobby moves on to assert that since U.S. governments have not done everything that some Israeli leaders have demanded – for instance, giving them help in bombing Iran – then, ipso facto, there is no Israel Lobby.

Left out of this sophistry are all the actions that Washington has taken in line with Israeli desires, such as overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq, turning a blind eye to Israel’s use of high-tech U.S. weapons against Palestinian and Lebanese targets, and fending off international condemnation for such acts as the recent war on Gaza.

The Post makes its case this way:

"Let's consider the ambassador's [Freeman’s] broader charge: He describes ‘an inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for U.S. policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics.’

“That will certainly be news to Israel's ‘ruling faction,’ which in the past few years alone has seen the U.S. government promote a Palestinian election that it opposed; refuse it weapons it might have used for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities; and adopt a policy of direct negotiations with a regime that denies the Holocaust and that promises to wipe Israel off the map. …

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at

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