BY MARC MCDONALD
The Republicans are out in force this week, accusing The New York Times of treason over its recent SWIFT transactions story. Never mind that this story is nothing new, or that the GOP house organ, The Wall Street Journal, reported the same story. It doesn't matter. Hatred of the supposedly "liberal" Times always plays well with the knuckle-dragging, Rush-listening GOP base.
I believe that if The New York Times ever betrayed the American people, it actually occurred back in 2002, during the buildup to the Iraq War. That was when the Bush White House was furiously trying to convince the nation that Iraq posed a threat to Americans and had WMDs.
Instead of doing what a truly free and independent media should do (taking a hard look at Bush's claims to see if they were true), the Times did the worst possible thing. It pretended to investigate Bush's claims and then ultimately gave its blessing to Bush's case for war. The only problem, of course, is that the Times was actually using the same unreliable and false sources that the Bush team was relying on.
Indeed, the likes of the now-discredited Ahmed Chalabi enjoyed warm and cozy ties with the NeoCons behind the Project for the New American Century, including Paul Wolfowitz. Instead of embracing the unreliable Chalabi as a primary source for its stories, the Times should have done what any high school journalist is taught on the first day of class: doublecheck all your sources.
If The New York Times had been properly doing its job, then Bush's case for war would have been exposed for the pack of lies that it was. Maybe, just maybe, the U.S. could have been spared the horrific, ongoing nightmare that the war has become.