By BRIAN CLOUGHLEY
So attacks in Afghanistan must be the work of Pakistan’s dastardly Directorate of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), yet again, because the New York Times told us the other day that “American intelligence agencies have concluded that members of Pakistan’s powerful spy service helped plan the deadly July 7 bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, according to United States government officials.” The New York Times went on to claim that “The conclusion was based on intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack, the officials said, providing the clearest evidence to date that Pakistani intelligence officers are actively undermining American efforts to combat militants in the region. The American officials also said there was new information showing that members of the Pakistani intelligence service were increasingly providing militants with details about the American campaign against them, in some cases allowing militants to avoid American missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas.”
There are plenty of clichés (“powerful spy service” and “actively undermining” are splendid examples), but not a shred of hard evidence in this important story. There is not one bit of material that can be verified or even checked for accuracy. No names are named. There are declarations by anonymous “American officials” concerning supposed electronic intercepts of which no details are provided. But the New York Times and other US newspapers chose to blare to the world the unsupported conclusion that Pakistan is guilty of treason against itself.
It might be thought that the New York Times would have learned a lesson after being manipulated by the infamously incompetent and gullible reporter Judith Miller who made such a fool of the paper at the time of the US invasion of Iraq. She swallowed nonsense purveyed to her by un-named “government officials” and other anonymous and indeed malevolent sources, but the newspaper’s editors just followed along and published the rubbish. Garbage in; Garbage out. As one of her colleagues said of her in the context of a combined story : “She has turned in a draft of a story of a collective enterprise that is little more than dictation from government sources over several days, filled with unproven assertions and factual inaccuracies.”