by Lee Kayser
On Sept. 7, Stewart D. Nosette, a former senior government scientist with highest security clearances, pleaded guilty to espionage and accepted a 13-year prison term for trying to sell top-secret information to an FBI agent posing as an Israeli spy.
At the sentencing, the Justice Department emphasized that Nosette was not charged with spying for Israel -- in its probe, the FBI found that Nosette also showed an intent to sell classified information to another country, which so far has not been named.
In his meetings with the FBI impersonator of an Israeli agent, Nosette asked for $2 million and an Israeli passport. His motive for offering to spy thus was clearly due to greed -- not to any personal political or ideological agenda.
As a result, the Justice Department emphasized that the government did not allege that "Israel or anyone acting on its behalf committed any offense." Nosette was simply looking for a way to cash in his access to top-secret materials for a big score.
The New York Times runs the story in its Sept. 8 edition under the following headline:
"Ex-White House Scientist Pleads Guilty in Spy Case Tied to Israel" -- page A18.
Nosette's intended espionage "tied to Israel"? Where does the Times get off making such a toxic allegation? Especially since the Justice Department unambiguously stressed that the sting operation and the indictment against Nosette were not tied to Israel in any shape or form.
Headlines are supposed to reflect the actual content of articles. In this case, a headline writer brushed aside the Justice Department's declaration that there was no connection whatsoever to Israel -- duly noted by Times reporter Scott Shane -- and decided that the headline would state the very opposite. Why? Perhaps because libels against Israel seem to be de rigueur at the Times anyway -- as attested again in this instance when a libelous headline sailed through all the supposed editing checks.
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