New York Times' "Article" Promotes War Against Somalia

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[Global: Analysis]

The New York Times gives new meaning to "All The News That's Fit To Print."

Long ago, knowledgeable readers had already determined that it actually means "All The News We See Fit To Print."

Take for instance the corrupt war-baiting front-page article yesterday under the headline "For Somali Pirates, Worst Enemy May Be Waiting Back on Shore."

Normally good journalists run with the lead; in this case, the reporter, whether by design or by instruction from somewhere, ran away from the lead.

The premise of the story was that Somali elders and religious leaders have rallied the populace against the pirates, including Asbhir Boyah, who was featured in The Times' article under Jeffrey Gettleman's byline.

Gettleman is a useless reporter when it comes to covering Africa. I can't evaluate his reporting elsewhere or on any other beat; his Africa reporting does not offer comfort in his talent, inclination, or reportorial skills on any other beat.

But he's not alone. The New York Times has only had a handful of competent and stellar Africa correspondents in recent years, such as Howard French; many years ago, Joseph Lelyveld produced superb journalism from South Africa.

Gettleman is what's known in the profession as a "parachute" journalist. He lands on the scene, and "reports" (or more likely rewrites what has been gathered for him by local stringers; in this case from Somalis) and files "his" story. Such stories are often shaped or coordinated with the editors here in New York; and the editors' slants generally favor the U.S. State Department's; that is, U.S. foreign policy.

Africa would be much safer without reporters like Gettleman roaming the continent.

"Facing intensifying naval pressure on the seas and now a rising backlash on land, Mr. Boyah has been shuttling between elders and religious sheiks fed up with pirates and their vices, promising to quit the buccaneering business if certain demands are made," Gettleman alleges, in his news "report."

Gettleman then goes on to explain how government leaders, religious leaders and even grass-roots anti-pirate militias have teamed up to fight the scourge.

Well and good.

The only problem is that even though Gettleman's dateline is "GAROOWE, Somalia," it's actually very misleading. It's actually intentionally misleading; so therefore the entire article gives a false impact.

He was not referring to the Somalia that has been in the news. The Somalia of Black Hawk Down; the Somalia of Mogadishu, a once beautiful and now ruined city; the Somalia of the Islamists; the Somalia which was until recently occupied by 50,000 Ethiopian troops, at the behest of the U.S., before the occupiers were routed and expelled by guerrilla warfare; so, in fact, Gettleman's story was not about piracy in Somalia at all.

Even though the area from where he "reported" and filed his story is part of contiguous Somalia, it has been self-administered for years and has not been subjected to the chaos that's bedeviled the Somalia of Black Hawk Down for more than 20 years now.

The area is --they consider themselves independent although no country recognizes them-- is actually called Puntland. And even though the writer eventually mentions that --in a "by the way" manner-- he knows full well that most American readers won't be able to distinguish his fantasy Somalia from the real one.

It's almost like a correspondent coming from another part of the world and reporting things in Mexico, such as Mexican gangs in Mexico City --since Mexico shares a border with the U.S.-- and filing a story ascribing the conditions to Mexican gangs in Los Angeles, U.S.A. Both cities have Mexican gangs; one is in Mexico--the other, in the U.S. 

It's dishonest journalism--by the reporter and his editors.

And why would Gettleman do such a thing?

Because to begin with: the Somalia of Black Haw Down --the real Somalia-- is too dangerous and chaotic for him to go there and file such a story; the conditions in Somalia probably don't match with the premise of the front-page article --that Somalis are mobilizing against "piracy".

The next and more serious question is why would The New York Times want to give the world the impression that Somalis are now rallying in unison against "piracy"

Gettleman has already revealed his cards (or the State Department's cards) when he referred to the "Intensifying naval pressure..."

If Somalis are against the "pirates," and the naval armada is also against the "pirates," then there is a meeting of the mind.

So, therefore, Somalis would conceivably welcome a naval attack----a naval landing on Somalia; or perhaps a landing on the safer "Somalia" from where Gettleman filed his story, in order to prepare assaults against the Somalia of Black Hawk Down.

So, now we see how corporate media colludes with or aligns its interest with official government agenda. The real lead of the story is buried very, very deep in the article: in the 15th paragraph, well after Mr. Boyah has been completely demonized by this alleged journalist --and by extension all "pirates" which could actually include legitimate Somali fishermen or even ordinary civilians; after all, they all "look alike."

Here's what should have been the focus of the story: "Mr. Boyah, 43, was born in Eyl, a pirate den on the coast. He said he dropped out of school in third grade, became a fisherman and took up hijacking after illegal fishing trawlers destroyed his livelihood in the mid-1990s." (Here also, the reference to Eyl as a "pirate den" is malicious mischief; there was no "piracy" in Somalia when Boyah was born 43 years ago; the writer could have easily said "….which has become a pirate den…" These are fighting words).

There are a number of serious problems:
The manner in which the issue of the illegal fishing is introduced, attributing it to Boyah, who has already been demonized as a reckless pirate with no disregard for anyone else, diminishes the seriousness of this calamity.

It is in fact what has converted many Somali fishermen into criminals on the Sea. A Google search by any serious reader will reveal numerous articles in more serious newspapers such as the U.K.'s Guardian, revealing that European pirate ships have been stealing as much as $300 million worth of fish and shrimps from Somalia's waters.

There are also reports --some of which have been confirmed by the United Nations-- of European gangsters being contracted by factories in Europe to come and dump toxic waste on Somalia's shores.

The United Nations Special Representative for Somalia has investigated and documented the criminal acts against Somalia; he is based in Nairobi, where Gettleman is also based.

I found this out by calling the U.N. Why won’t Gettleman interview the UN official for a real story, instead of the salacious nonsense from his fantasy Somalia?

These acts of criminality have spurred a criminal enterprise in Somalia. Boyah and others like him are the direct outcome of a collapsed state that cannot protect its borders; and then outmanned local fishermen, who now have no means of livelihood except the new criminal enterprise.

Somalis have been fishers for centuries. Why is it that "piracy" only started about 15 years ago, at the same time that the European piracy of Somalia's fish also started and the dumping of toxic waste on Somalia’s coast by European shippers?

Why is The New York Times not demanding that the naval vessels now occupying Somalia's waters -- and providing protection to the European fish pirates-- not protect Somalia's sovereignty and go after the illegal fishers from Europe and Asia and toxic waste dumpers?

Why does the reporter only make a glancing reference to "foreign trawlers" which might give the impression they could be from Kenya, when in fact, according to Somali journalists, they are from countries such as: Spain; Greece; Norway; Russia; Taiwan; China; France: U.K., the Philippines; and South Korea.

Once again, instead of standing up for the victims --Somalia-- the powerful newspaper sides with the Mafia stealing Somalia's fish, dumping toxic waste, impoverishing Somalis, driving young men into criminality, then promoting an invasion by a naval armada.

The Somalis know how to defend themselves on land. Any invader will learn the lesson that U.S.-backed Ethiopia learned, and which the U.S. also learned in the 1990s.

Thank the creator for giving the world the Internet so that serious media outlets --that care about the truth-- can expose misleading articles in "big" newspapers such as The Times.

Please e-mail and re-post this story extensively to help repel the malicious journalism against Somalia.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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