July 10, 2011

U.S. Propaganda Assault Continues in Yemen

John Brennan’s weekend rendezvous with Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s embattled president of 33 years, has been predictably misreported by the U.S. and international media alike. Wrongful spin should come as no surprise given the low attention devoted to Yemen’s revolution, but it does highlight the disturbing level of complicity between America’s government and media.

Contrary to mainstream observations, the White House’s counter-terror adviser just upped America’s pressure on Yemen’s revolutionaries.

Spearheading the U.S. propaganda machine is The New York Times, supposedly one of the nation’s leading news sources. With The Wall Street Journal pumping out terror threats in total denial of Yemen’s revolution and The Washington Post sticking to the White House’s “peaceful and orderly transition,” few alternatives are left to promote an opposing viewpoint. Positioned to influence with its widely-quoted content, the NYT has chosen to suppress Yemen’s revolution through two tactics: broadcasting and defending the Obama administration’s response, often through terror threats, or else “exposing” a divided opposition and youth movement.

Like the majority of U.S. and European news sources, the NYT is more concerned with covering itself than the truth. David Sanger is one those reporters. In early April the White House’s senior correspondent touched off a fictitious round of media speculation by claiming the Obama administration had backed away from Saleh. The NYT would hail this “reversal” as "belated realism," and urged a “peaceful and orderly transition.” However no such back-tracking ever occurred; relatively speaking, the U.S. position hardened around Saleh’s regime over the ensuing the three months. We immediately pointed out the errors in this propaganda, which has since ended up setting much of the U.S. media tone.

Now Sanger is once again trying to protect his faulty reporting with new disinformation. In doing so he commits two errors found throughout the U.S. and international media: reaffirming U.S. “pressure” for the Gulf Cooperation Council’s “power transfer,” and ignoring resistance to what is perceived as foreign intervention.

“The United States had long been a supporter of Mr. Saleh’s authoritarian rule, viewing it as the best way to combat affiliates of Al Qaeda in Yemen," writes Sanger. "But the Obama administration withdrew its support four months ago, after concluding that Mr. Saleh’s government could not survive the uprisings sweeping the country, and that American interests were better served in getting a new government in place that might allow continued American attacks on Al Qaeda.”

Sanger recounts “weeks of statements from administration officials that they believe his return would incite more violence,” but ignores the White House’s preference to maintain Saleh’s regime. Meanwhile his son Ahmed, commander of the U.S.-funded Republican Guards, continues to attack peaceful protesters demanding justice for human rights abuses and war crimes. While Brennan condemned the attack on Saleh, his Republican Guard continues to shell civilian targets with impunity. Blocking a revolutionary transition council has also contributed to Yemen’s fuel and commodities shortages, viewed by protesters as another government plot.

Sanger commits a flagrant journalistic violation after outlining the GCC’s proposal, “which would lead to a transition ending his 33 years in office and grant the president immunity.” For starters, Sanger avoids the resistance Saleh mounted against Brennan’s latest visit; the besieged president responded that the GCC’s proposal only provides a basis for negotiations when he returned to Sana’a on July 17th. Nor does he mention Brennan’s late May trip to Saudi Arabia, during which he futilely issued the exact same demand to Saleh.

The NYT continues to report that the Obama administration has moved away from Saleh, except neither is changing during that time.

Yet the most hostile omission is Yemen’s revolutionaries, who fail to make an appearance in Sanger’s report. Mass protests against the GCC have been ignored to this day, and Sanger blatantly ignores the universal opposition to U.S. and Saudi interference. He could have covered the anti-American protest right outside the White House if he wanted to - of course the NYT doesn’t want him to. One of the main stories inside Yemen’s revolution has been unanimously awarded the least coverage, behind Saleh and his family, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the oppositional Joint Meeting Parties (JMP). Yemen’s revolutionaries have been marginalized on the ground, in foreign capitals and in the Western media.

Aside from covering up his personal duplicity, Sanger’s ultimate goal (in correspondence with the rest of the U.S. media) aims to uphold the U.S. line in Yemen. Today his biggest takeaway is portraying U.S. funds as ceased. Sanger reports of President Barack Obama’s letter to Saleh, “the only way to get American aid flowing again was to sign an accord that would effectively remove Mr. Saleh from power.” So aid can merely flow to his regime. Regardless, numerous U.S. officials including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have confirming ongoing military support.

The New York Times remains a good source of information - if you read it backwards.

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