How the Spooks Took Over the News
by Nick Davies
On the morning of 9 February 2004, The New York Times carried an
exclusive and alarming story. The paper’s Baghdad correspondent,
Dexter Filkins, reported that US officials had obtained a 17-page
letter, believed to have been written by the notorious terrorist Abu
Musab al Zarqawi to the “inner circle” of al-Qa’ida’s leadership,
urging them to accept that the best way to beat US forces in Iraq was
effectively to start a civil war.
The letter argued that al-Qa’ida, which is a Sunni network, should
attack the Shia population of Iraq: “It is the only way to prolong
the duration of the fight between the infidels and us. If we succeed
in dragging them into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis.”
Later that day, at a regular US press briefing in Baghdad, US General
Mark Kimmitt dealt with a string of questions about the New York
Times report: “We believe the report and the document is credible,
and we take the report seriously? It is clearly a plan on the part of
outsiders to come in to this country and spark civil war, create
sectarian violence, try to expose fissures in this society.” The
story went on to news agency wires and, within 24 hours, it was
running around the world.
There is very good reason to believe that that letter was a fake—
and a significant one because there is equally good reason to believe
that it was one product among many from a new machinery of propaganda
which has been created by the United States and its allies since the
terrorist attacks of September 2001.
For the first time in human history, there is a concerted strategy to
manipulate global perception. And the mass media are operating as its
compliant assistants, failing both to resist it and to expose it.
The sheer ease with which this machinery has been able to do its work
reflects a creeping structural weakness which now afflicts the
production of our news. I’ve spent the last two years researching a
book about falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media.
Full article by Nick Davies of the UK Independent is available at: