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6462: Re: 6446. Driver replies to Chamberlain about simplification of history (fwd)

From: "Tom F. Driver" <tfd3@columbia.edu>

I'm replying to Greg Chamberlain's Dec. 23 post, in which he
discussed my own post of the same day.  We're talking about the NY
Times and the role of U.S. Govt. personnel in relation to Aristide, the
coup, etc.

Greg:  "Tom's experience with the NYTimes about his letter was
unfortunate.  I agree with him that the editor who dealt with it was
unreasonable.  But that shouldn't lead on to immediately seeing the NYT
(not that Tom did, but others on his side do) as some monolith, with the
likes of Tom's letter debated urgently at the highest editorial level,
clear ideological policy engraved in stone, military-industrial elite
etc., all as part of some perpetual conspiracy of the press."

While it's very true that the NY Times is no monolith, it's also true
that the person who talked with me several times about my letter made it
clear to me that she had discussed her response with other editors
there.  I clearly was not just getting a quirky response from a single

Gregg:  "I have my doubts about Allan Nairn's investigative reporting

Good smear tactic, Greg.  But the Times did not tell me they doubted
Nairn.  Instead they dismissed the journal he wrote for as "leftist."
In other words, they fell back on ideology in order to avoid dealing
with a point of history that they didn't like.

Greg:  "Then follow quotes listed by Tom, many of them exasperatingly
general and simplified.  Yet these are the same mainstream newspapers
dismissed as 'agents of imperialism' (or some such) by Tom's allies when
their reports do not conveniently support the cause in hand. Can we have
an explanation of the grounding principle, the attitude to this media
which is one day garbage and the next fit to be quoted, good enough to
be true one day and not the next?"

I cited those NY Times stories and columns not because I believe that
everything in the Times is true and accurate (far from it!) but because
I wanted to show that the Times itself had in the past said or implied
things quite similar to what I had said in my uncut letter to the
editor.  It is this filtering out of things said and done in the past,
and the refusal to draw reasonable conclusions from them, that I had in
mind when I suggested that both you and the Times engaged in "the
simplification of history" (your phrase, used to put down Greg Bryant in
a previous post).

Greg:  "Latell report (23 Oct 93).  Yes, Latell said those things about
Aristide. But I seem to remember he was soon discredited by his own side

Latell didn't just "say" them.  He briefed Congressional members about
them in specially arranged meetings.  And people on "his own side,"
certainly did not refute him at the time.  It's true that the White
House disagreed publicly with his report.  It was a period when the
White House, the State Department, the CIA, and the Pentagon were not
always taking the same line in public.  How much they disagreed in
private will be a matter for historians to decide when and if the secret
files become available for research.

Greg:  "The reports on Nov 1 and 14, 1993 (NYTimes).  This was the story
about the S.I.N. funding."

Plain wrong.  In the first place, I did not cite a Times report from
Nov. 14, 1993.  In the second place, the Nov. 1 report that I did cite
was not about S.I.N. funding.  Here's the lead sentence:  "Key members
of the military regime controlling Haiti and blocking the return of its
elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, were paid by the Central
Intelligence Agency for information from the mid-1960's at least until
the 1991 coup that forced Mr. Aristide from power, according to American
officials."  S.I.N. is not mentioned in this story.  Reporter Tim
Weiner, who filed the story from Washington, twice hinted that the
C.I.A. payments to Cedras and others had continued during the coup.  As
quoted above, he says the payments went on AT LEAST until the coup.
Two paragraphs later he wrote:  "It was not clear when the payments
ended ...."  Good question.  The wording leads an alert reader to ask
WHY that point was not clear.  To be sure, innuendo is not fact, but in
a front page NY Times story it's not insignificant, either.

Let me make it clear that I did not say in my letter to the Times, nor
in my post to Corbett, that the C.I.A. was involved in the coup.
Although I personally think that is the most plausible explanation for
much of what happened, I do not have a smoking gun to prove it.  But
that people in the U.S. Govt. were siding with Aristide's enemies
throughout the 1990's and finding ways to translate this into action
seems to me beyond reasonable doubt.  And there are indications that
some people writing for the NY Times thought so, too.

Tom Driver

Tom F. Driver
New York City