Beat the devil.
Finally exonerated of the charge of libel--I wonder when next a jury will be instructed to report its conclusions in stages--Time is having its bones picked clean by selfrighteous colleagues in the news business. A New York Times editorial accused it of "arrogance," and in the course of denoucing Time, two columnists of liberal disposition thought it proper to burnish the reputation of Gen. Ariel Sharon in the matter of the massacres at Sabra and Shatila.
Lars-Erik Nelson of the New York Daily News said there was no evidence of Sharon's "direct" responsibility; he was merely a "callous, indifferent bystander--an unwitting accomplice--to a horrendous massacre committed by his chosen allies." The Time's Anthony Lewis said it is not true that Sharon "encouraged the massacre or intended it to happen."
So, one more time: as Israeli forces moved into West Beirut, the official reason give by Begin was that this was being done "in order to protect the Moslems from the vengeance of the Phalangists." Why then did the Israelis usher 150 vengeful Phalangists into the camps of the doubly defenseless Palestinians? Not, obviously, to "clean out" the mythical 2,000 "terrorists." Sharon discussed "cleaning out" the refugee camps with Phalange leaders. The troops under his command supervised the arrival at the camps of the Phalange murderers (perhaps even of some of Maj. Saad Haddad's Israeli-backed force from southern Lebanon, for this has never been resolved); observed them and listened to the gunfire as they went about their bloody business; lightened--O Lord--their darkness, amid a power cut in West Beirut, with 81-millimeter flares fired at thirty-second intervals and further flares dropped from planes; and provided a bulldozer to throw earth over the victims. If I provided enemies of Nelson and Lewis with such assistance and urged them forth to slaughter I doubt I would enjoy the exculpations from direct responsibility now offered Sharon.
"Distinguished" is usually put in front of "journalist" only when the person in question is either so addled with drink or so long in the tooth that he has to enter government service, like the wealthy Marvin Stone, who is moving from Mort Zuckerman's payroll at U.S. News & World Report to the taxpayers' at the U.S. Information Agency. But for once I can refer in good faith, though with sadness, to a distinguished journalist: James Cameron, who died January 26.
Cameron was a fine British progressive who had several moments of glory, not least his principled resignation from Picture Post, the British equivalent of Life, during the Korean War. He had sent back a story with photographs showing some battered opponents of Syngman Rhee being led away to execution. Lord Hulton, proprietor of Picture Post, did not care for this derogation of a Friend of the West and ordered the story killed. It was, and Cameron resigned forthwith. His reporting from Vietnam for the Evening Standard matched the high quality of his work from Korea. He was also one of the founders, along with Bertrand Russell, A.J.P. Taylor and others, of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, in the late 1950s. He'd beaten off determined onslaughts by the Reaper quite a few times in recent years, but finally went down, as we all must.
Aside from general sadness at his passing, I regret--given his contempt for the Honours List--not hearing his commentary on the awards picked up by a couple of his fellow hackers in Washington recently. On January 10, British Ambassador Oliver Wright, acting for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, presented the insignia of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to Gen. Drew middleton, military correspondent of The New York Times. This is a promotion for Middleton, who was admitted to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by George VI in Excellent Order on that day was James Reston.
Joining them soon, I dare say, will be Anthony Lewis, another turbid Anglophile, who blubbers like a child every time he sees the Union Jack. At the end of last month this Anglophilia reached a new low, as Lewis devoted an entire column to the utterly banal thoughts of Peter Jenkins, whom he described as "the leading British political columnist." Set against this evident falsehood is the fact that Jenkins is a close friend of Lewis and has passed many a summer on Martha's Vineyard with Lewis, discoursing to him about the Social Democratic Party. Each August morning the pair trudge along South Beach, quoting the speeches of David Owen at each other. According to the local Chamber of Commerce, this sight has become one of the principal attractions of the island, rivaling the bridge at Chappaquiddick in allure.
Lewis, admittedly burdened with the responsibility of being The Time's sole expounder of the Constitution, has been on a rising curve of pomposity lately. He took so long clearing his throat before attacking Morley Safer for a 60 Minutes whitewash of South Africa that I thought he was announcing a run for the Presidency. When he praised Judge Robert Bork's "extraordinary thoughtful ... rich opinion" in Bertell Ollman's libel suit against Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, I was not surprised to learn that in that opinion, Bork made a handsome bow to Lewis. Lewis & Co. said nothing when Ollman's appeal was dismissed, but then Ollman is a pointly-headed Marxist who was Red-baited out of a job, not a thug with the blood of thousands on his hands.
Who's Funding the 'Contras'?
The Reagan Administration is moving into higher gear in its determination to overthrow the government of Nicaragua, and we may consequently expect a tidal wave of leaks about Nicaragua's arms buildup and planned subversion of its neighbors. The pattern was set with the story, planted on the night of Reagan's re-election, about the supposed arrival of MIGs in Nicaragua. Now the Pentagon is about to release to Congress--with much fanfare, no doubt--a twenty-three-page report on the Nicaraguan peril, tentatively titled "The Soviet-Cuban Connection."
This is all part of the barrage to persuade Congress to resume aid to the contras. The money keeping them going in the interim is chastely referred to in most of the press as "private funding," although the fencing of aid through such U.S. clients as Honduras, El Salvador and Israel has been noted. The phrase "private funding" has a cozy ring to it, as though it were charity, like a contribution to the Boston Philharmonic, rather than support for 10,000 to 15,000 murderers.
On January 21, Alfonson Chardy of The Miami Herald described in detail how some of this funding is organized. A network of millionaires, retired officers and interested emigres give the contras as much as $1 million a month. A central figure in the network is Gen. John Singlaub, retired, head of U.S. forces in Korea until relieved of his command by President Carter for publicly criticizing U.S. policy. He is now president of the World Anti-Communist League, an organization of ultrarightists and outright fascists intimately involved with death squads in Central and Latin America. Singlaub, who has sat on a Pentagon advisory panel, told Chardy that high-ranking officials at the Pentagon--including such anti-Sandinista point men as Fred Ikle, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and Nestor Sanchez, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Inter-American Affairs--are helping coordinate "relief" efforts, including the shipment of materiel to Central America on U.S. Navy and Air Force craft. Singlaub also told Chardy that he and other former military and intelligence officers collect about $500,000 a month through an organization named U.S. Council for World Freedom.
This is by no means the extent of Singlaub's sinister activities. He is a founder of the Institute for Regional and International Studies in Boulder, Colorado, which has announced it will train contrast if Congress doesnot restore aid. Singlaub is, by the way, an ornament at meetings organized by Soldier of Fortune, the magazine for literate mercenaries. He belongs to the Louisiana-based Council on National Policy, which also raises money for the contras. It is a goldplated leviathan of the ultraright, including among its members Joseph Coors, the Hunt brothers, Pat Boone, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson of Christian Broadcasting Network and Senator Jesse Helms and John East of North Carolina.
Thus many of the prime funders of Reagan's re-election campaign have, without missing a beat, shifted their resources to the Committee to Install Arturo in Managua. This, of course, is a violation of the Neutrality Act, which forbids private sedition of a government with which the United States has diplomatic relations. And since we might assume they are deducting their donations to the contras as charitable contributions, we might conclude that the taxpayers are funding the contras after all, the express will of Congress notwithstanding.
Herald of Horrors
This is an appropriate moment to give several cheers to The Miami Herald's coverage of Central and Latin American affairs. Quite aside from Sam Dillon's excellent reporting from El Salvador, The Herald, time after time, is well ahead of The New York times, The Washington Post and other leading brands. It has also been more critical of the policies of the Reagan Administration.
On December 16, The Herald carried a report by Frank Greve and Ellen Warren on a secret U.S. Army helicopter unit that is engaged in Central America and has flown missions inside Nicaragua. The unit is the 160th Task Force of the 101st Airborne Division, operating out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The soldiers in the unit wear civilian clothes, fly at night in CH-47 Chinooks or UH-60 Black Hawks. In 1983 the unit, nicknamed the Night Stalkers, had seventeen fatalities--nearly half the thirty-five reported by the entire Army for that year. The Herald suggested that the Army might not be telling the truth about the circumstances of two crashes suffered by the unit. Moreover, it charged that the secret unit's missions may have violated the War Powers Act, as well as the Congressional ban on aid to the contras. On December 19, The Herald ran a strong editorial discussing the "recurring nightmare" of "tales of illegal American involvement in Central American wars" and called for a full investigation by Congress.
This important story was not picked up by The New York Times or, so far as I know, by the networks. And as a measure of the former's editorial stance, we need go no further than its measured support--the same week that The Herald's story and editorial on the secret unit appeared--for the invasion of Grenada (a position horribly endorsed by Tom Wicker). The Times announced that the "most compelling reason" for the invasion was the "fear that Grenada had been led into the Soviet and Cuban orbit by Mr. Bishop."
As the Reagan Administration intensifies its denunciations of Nicaragua as a satellite in the Soviet-Cuban orbit, it appears that The New York Times will not need much persuading on what needs to be done to protect national security.
A Brave Day
Just as some memorations of James Cameron omitted mention of his great hour in Korea, so too did Herbert Mitgagn omit from his obituary a high point in the life of the illustrious Times editor Seymour Peck, recently killed in an auto accident on the Henry Hudson Parkway. In January 1956 Peck, at that time working for The New York Times Magazine, appeared before the Senate Committee on Internal Security, acknowledged he had been a member of the Communist Party until 1949, before he had joined The Times--and refused to name any of his political associates. On the advice of his counsel, Telford Taylor, he did not invoke the First or Fifth Amendments but, more vaguely, cited constitutional guarantees, in a testimony of dignity and courage.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||authors opinion on a variety of subjects|
|Date:||Feb 9, 1985|
|Previous Article:||A letter to Les.|
|Next Article:||Bringing the war home in Nicaragua.|