New York Times falsely claims Bulgaria bomber’s identity is known

Readers of the New York Times may mistakenly get the impression that the Obama administration has confirmed Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that Wednesday’s attack on Israeli tourists was conducted by Hezbollah.

American officials on Thursday identified the suicide bomber responsible for a deadly attack on Israeli vacationers here as a member of a Hezbollah cell that was operating in Bulgaria and looking for such targets, corroborating Israel’s assertions and making the bombing a new source of tension with Iran.

That’s what I’d call a slimy piece of journalism. The key word in this sentence is “identified” and the Times reporters and editors are I believe quite consciously using this word in a way that is intended to deceive readers.

In a further indication that deception is the name of the game here, the Times uses two headlines — one online the other in print: “Hezbollah Is Blamed for Attack on Israeli Tourists in Bulgaria” and “Bus Bombing Is Attributed To Hezbollah.” Note that neither headline indicates who is doing the blaming or attribution.

Suppose someone goes missing and there are suspicions that they might have been abducted and perhaps murdered. A few days later a body is found. News reports say that the body has been “identified” and it is indeed the missing person. Everyone understands that “identified” is unequivocal. It’s not the same as the police saying that this appears to be the missing person and they are continuing their investigation in order to establish whether that is the case. If the body has been identified, then the identity is no longer in question.

Consider, for instance, today’s news of the shooting in Colorado. Early reports said that a gunman had opened fire in a movie theater killing twelve people. The gunman has now been identified. His name is James Eagan Holmes and he is 24 years old. Imagine the reaction of press reporters if a police spokesman had said: “We’ve identified the gunman. We’re now trying to find out his name.”

So, back to the report on the Bulgaria bombing. Citing an unnamed American official we are told about the “current American intelligence assessment” of the bombing. “Current intelligence assessment” is a fancy way of saying, this is currently our best guess about who did it and why, based on the limited amount of information we now have.

Readers need to get all the way to paragraph eight before they are told that the bomber’s name and nationality are unknown. Neither can any information be provided revealing what types of intelligence led analysts to conclude that the bomber was a member of Hezbollah.

In other words, a report which began by saying that the bomber had been identified does not in the end establish whether the current American intelligence assessment is based on any hard evidence whatsoever!

While the New York Times claims that the bomber has been identified as belonging to Hezbollah, what they should be reporting is that unnamed U.S. officials claim that this is the case but have yet to provide any information backing up this claim.

At this time, the Bulgaria bomber’s identity remains unknown. For as long as that is the case it is probably premature for anyone to assert what his motive was or what organization, if any, he might have been affiliated with.

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4 thoughts on “New York Times falsely claims Bulgaria bomber’s identity is known

  1. delia ruhe

    Hunker down, South Lebanon; Israel’s coming to exercise “its right to defend itself.”

  2. Norman

    Isn’t this pointing to “A Leak”, i.e., American officials on Thursday identified”, and shouldn’t the official[s] be arrested, put in chains, tossed behind bars etc. etc.? If we are going to take away the legitimate rights of the general public, then the same should be for the “O” administration too. This “KABUKI” performance by the “O” regime is becoming a farce to the nth degree.

  3. pangloss

    Amazing that the newspaper of record – whatever that means in a wifi world – would carry such nonsense. Why on earth would Hezbollah do such a thing? Now if the NYTimes said the USA – CIA/Seals/hired mercenaries whatever they are called now (NATO maybe) – or Israel – Mossad/insane settlers or whatever they are called now – did it I’d be sceptical but willing to hear the evidence. But Hezbollah? Only in the USA and its satellite regimes would this not be laugh at openly. Hezbollah? Glad you, if not laughing (which I mention ironically), are calling excited stupidity into question.

  4. DE Teodoru

    Analyzing comparatively HA’ARETZ vs. NEW YORK TIMES for reporting on Israel’s “smything sword,” scholar Jerome Slater found that the NYTimes is, in effect, a sort of hasbara rag for Zionists compared to the honesty of Ha’aretz, the Israeli newspaper. “All the news that’s fit to print….as Zionist hasbara” should be NYTimes’ motto. Alas, it sucked up to GW Bush on the Iraq War– no one can forget Miller’s phony reporting in the NYTimes, fully coordinated with Cheney’s office and the neocons’ BS!– spilling lots of ink covering up for and propagandizing on behalf of Israel at critical moments when Americans might have yelled “enough crap using $10 billions/year of our money in the name of a totally one sided pseudo-alliance.”

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