It requires no special skill to sell Michael Gordon, chief military correspondent for the New York Times, the Brooklyn Bridge. All you have to do is whisper to him that the transaction will occur at a background “briefing” by anonymous intelligence sources and a “senior official” or two.
One would think that it would require astonishing rhetorical ingenuity on the part of the sales team (in fact operating out of the United States Defense Department) to keep on selling Gordon the Brooklyn Bridge long after the deed from the first sale was pronounced an obvious fraud. But it’s not so strange, really. Your true sucker is a vain fellow who can never accept the evidence of his own gullibility and who therefore regards each successive purchase of the Brooklyn Bridge as a sound investment, certain to re-establish him in the public mind as a man with a keen eye for the good deal. He thus becomes psychologically and professionally a captive of the bridge salesmen.
On September 8, 2002, the New York Times editors published Gordon and Judith Miller’s fictions concerning aluminum tubes in Iraq that were allegedly part of Saddam’s nuclear program. Far too late this bout of bridge-buying on the part of the Times duo prompted widespread derision. Only then did the embarrassed Times editor ban Miller from bridge-buying altogether.
No such restraints were placed on Gordon. After lying low while Miller took the heat, he was back late last year, promoting the famous “surge,” sold him by Gen. David Petraeus and others. Then, on Saturday, February 10, the Times excitedly announced another major purchase.
The story was from the usual sales folk, unnamed “American officials.” Their mission: get Gordon to boost Bush’s anti-Iran propaganda drive by promoting the story that Iran is supplying Iraqi Shiites with the new “explosively formed penetrator,” the war’s “most lethal weapon,” now killing American boys in their Humvees, Bradleys and even Abrams tanks. Their method: gull the bridge buyer with a brisk technical résumé.
“To make the weapon,” Gordon confided to Times readers, “a metal cylinder is filled with powerful explosives. A metal concave disk manufactured on a special press is fixed to the firing end…. According to American intelligence, Iran has excelled in developing this type of bomb and has provided similar technology to Hezbollah. The manufacture of the key metal components required sophisticated machinery, raw material and expertise that American intelligence agencies do not believe can be found in Iraq.”
Now, the people attacking and killing most American troops in Iraq are not Shiite but Sunni, and are therefore unlikely to have been supplied by Iran. Some 1,190 US troops have been killed in Iraq since the start of the insurgency by roadside bombs, a k a IEDs. But only 170 American soldiers have been killed by EFPs since June 2004, less than 7 percent of the total killed in action.