Guardian Uses WikiLeaks For Propaganda, Pakistani Media Can’t?

December 11, 2010

UK’s Guardian newspaper declared that WikiLeaks on India are fake. Really? Is US envoy Timothy Roemer’s cable of 16 Feb. 2010 calling Indian military “slow and slumbering” fake? Didn’t he call Indian military doctrine a “myth”?Guardian, along with NYT and a German magazine, ruined the good work of WikiLeaks by selectively releasing cables angled to attack nations at odds with US, British and NATO policies.

AHMED QURAISHI | Friday | 10 December 2010

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—The Guardian newspaper of Britain gleefully ran this headline, Pakistani Media Publish Fake WikiLeaks Cables Attacking India. The most astonishing part of the report was a line that read, ‘[T]his is the first case of WikiLeaks being exploited for propaganda purposes.”

This coming from the Guardian which, along with New York Times and Germany’s Der Spiegel, were the first to use WikiLeaks for propaganda by selectively releasing cables to target countries like Pakistan, Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia.

Amazingly, all three – Guardian, NYT, Der Spiegel – focused on targeting countries that the United States [and UK and Germany] see as foreign policy antagonists.

What are the odds that the first 1,270 cables out of some 251,000 that the three published were all in sync with US-UK-Germany-Nato policy outlook? And what are the odds that almost half of the stories initially generated by the three publications focused on Pakistan, its nukes, and its role in Afghanistan, all US top priorities?

The WikiLeaks documents are the truth. But those releasing these cables selectively, like The Guardian, have indulged in propaganda. This is a propaganda war, not a war for truth, at least not if you go by the initial manipulated stories released by the three news publications.

For some unknown reason, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks decided to hand over the stolen US diplomatic cables to the Guardian, NYT and Der Spiegel. These three are ‘establishment’ publications par excellence.  They were frontrunners in promoting fake CIA ‘intelligence’ on Iraqi nukes and Iraqi mobile chemical production labs that never existed.

‘Guardian’s Lousy Homework’

To create an aura of mystery around the India WikiLeaks story published in Pakistan, Guardian’s Islamabad correspondent Declan Walsh claimed the stories were ‘credited to the Online Agency, an Islamabad-based news service that has frequently run pro-army stories in the past. No journalist is bylined.’

Fabulous, only that it is not accurate.

The story was published by the Daily Mail of Pakistan, a newspaper launched recently and staffed by journalists coming from the newsrooms of Pakistan’s front-row newspapers. Contrary to Mr. Walsh’s claim, the story was bylined and was picked up by the Pakistani media and the Online News Agency a full day later. Walsh’s claim that Online wire service has ‘frequently run pro-army stories in the past’ is not only ridiculous but makes Mr. Walsh and The Guardian liable for defamation. Pakistani media is familiar with this wire service but not in the context that the British journalist described, which is completely misleading for readers outside Pakistan.

Guardian’s Mr. Walsh failed to verify the story from the original source, the Daily Mail of Pakistan, located in a lavish building in one of the most prestigious parts of Islamabad [29, Street No. 60, Sector F-11/4].

‘Report Largely Accurate’

The Guardian is horrified that there is someone else practicing manipulation besides it. It’s as if someone has been offended that a WikiLeaks-related story has come out from a source other than the Wiki-Three: Guardian, NYT and Der Spiegel, and with an angle not endorsed by them.

Many parts of the Pakistani story are accurate and cables exist to prove it. Other parts are not, at least not until more US diplomatic cables come into the open.

Among the credible parts is the healthy skepticism that US diplomats posted in New Delhi have shown on a number of issues, from India’s Cold Start doctrine to Indian military’s preparedness, ending with India’s UN Security Council ambitions.

In a cable marked ‘secret’ and sent in February this year from the US embassy in New Delhi, US ambassador Timothy Roemer blasted Indian military as “slow and slumbering”.  He dismissed India’s military doctrine, called Cold Start, as “a mixture of myth and reality. It has never been and may never be put to use on a battlefield because of substantial and serious resource constraints […]”.

At another place, Roemer says India’s military and political leaderships are at odds over military plans for Pakistan. Another US cable has already criticized the sense of self-importance among India officials with special reference to India’s bid for a permanent UN Security Council Seat.

‘You Manipulate And We Can’t?’

A large part of the original Pakistani report is credible. It was published by a prominent news organization and the story has four names in the byline. The Guardian unethically tried to link the story to Pakistani intelligence agencies by suggesting the story comes with ‘no byline’ and can’t be sourced.

Guardian’s Mr. Walsh compensated his lack of investigation by offering his own conspiracy theory that the report was planted by Pakistani intelligence agencies. He also appears to have misinterpreted the statement of Mr. Shaheen Sehbai, Group Editor for The News International, who told the Guardian he ran a front-page story that was ‘agencies’ copy’. This in Pakistani journalism parlance means wire news feed. Apparently, the editors at Guardian mistook ‘agencies’ for intelligence services.

The obsession of British and American journalists with self-promoted conspiracies surrounding Pakistani intelligence is ridiculous.

The Guardian reduced Online News Agency, for example, to a military mouthpiece, which Pakistani journalists know is not the case. All Pakistani newspapers publish pro-army and anti-army reports and opinions but no one accuses them of ‘frequently running pro-army stories’ as Guardian’s Walsh did.

American and British diplomats, officials and journalists conveniently dub any Pakistani publication exhibiting nationalistic views as a front for spy services.

To demonstrate how ridiculously conspiratorial senior US and British diplomats and journalists can be, let me give this personal example. On the morning of Monday, 3 December 2007, well known American pundit and commentator Robert Novak ran a column in the Washington Post that said at one place, “The ISI’s views were expressed Nov. 19 by Ahmed Quraishi, an anchor on state-owned Pakistani television, in an article posted on his Web site and published in several of the country’s newspapers.”

Mr. Novak’s conclusion was not an epiphany. He received this valuable information from a senior US diplomat in Islamabad. I had inkling about the person in question so I called the diplomat and asked, “An ISI mouthpiece? Is this the kind of information you are fed Mr. Novak?” The diplomat was speechless. [I will not reveal the identity of the diplomat here.] Needless to say, this was a conspiracy theory with no basis, promoted by a senior US diplomat and a senior US journalist. And they got away with it.

Before ‘establishment-linked’ journals like NYT and the Guardian can accuse anyone in the Pakistani media of fronting for spy services, just remember: one of the most senior New York Times journalists and an expert on the Middle East, Judith Miller, was exposed through judicial process to be a mouthpiece for CIA, planting stories on Iraq WMD threat. Almost all of the major stories she wrote and NYT published before and after Iraq invasion turned out to be false [See Judith Miller, Shamed Former NY Times Bush WMD Propagandist ]. I bet Declan Walsh and the Guardian never questioned her sources while reporting on them.

‘We Can Manipulate Too’

Just like the Guardian and NYT, the Pakistani media retains the right to manipulate and highlight WikiLeaks documents that serve our interest. This could involve some exaggeration in some parts of the media. But not everything is ‘incorrect’, as the Guardian claimed.

The Pakistani story shifts the focus to India, and shows we too can use WikiLeaks for propaganda like everyone else. The Guardian and the other two journals have been doing the same for the past two weeks. I am not saying Pakistan did use WikiLeaks for propaganda but it certainly can, like everyone else.

Russian premier Vladimir Putin captured the same logic in a statement made yesterday. He said: “In Russian villages they say ’some people’s cows can moo, but yours should keep quiet.’ So I would like to shoot the puck back at our American colleagues.”

WikiLeaks did a great job. The Guardian, NYT and Der Spiegel exploited it to serve other agendas


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