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May 31, 2010

CIF Watch Exposes Guardian's Manipulation of Document

The Jerusalem Post reports on a study my media monitors CIF Watch which find that Chris McGreal's report on an alleged Israeli offer to sell nuclear arms to apartheid South Africa manipulated a key document:

In an analysis, CIF Watch shows that McGreal quoted from a part of the type-written document that was edited by hand soon afterwards – including a sentence that implies nuclear weapons were available – and said that McGreal injected his own opinion to infer that Israel was ready to supply the apartheid regime with nuclear weapons.

The paragraph McGreal used, written by a civil servant, states in its original form, prior to hand-written editing and deletions: “[South African Defense] Minister [P.W.] Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet [said to be the Jericho missile] provide [sic] the correct payload could be provided, Minister Peres said that the correct payload was available in three sizes. Minister Botha expressed his appreciation and said that he would ask for advice.”

CIF Watch points out that words “provide” and “could be provided” were crossed out in the by-hand edit, and that “provide” was replaced by the words “subject to.” The latter part of the paragraph was also deleted, so that the only part of the paragraph that remained was the first part of the first sentence, which now read: “Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to the correct payload.”

Ignoring the edit and using the entire original draft to back his claim, McGreal, in his Guardian article, asserted, based on the deleted wording: “The ‘three sizes’ are believed to refer to the conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.”

CIF Watch said that this was McGreal’s own opinion: “The person who ‘believes’ this last sentence is not identified, nor are his qualifications to draw this inference given, nor is any source provided for the inference. Plainly, McGreal does not have enough confidence in it to say “I believe it” and give his grounds.

See also criticism on the McGreal piece by Avner Cohen.

Posted by TS at May 31, 2010 04:21 AM

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