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Editorial: Post haste to faulty judgment

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The editorial attack on Sinn Fein and the IRA in Monday’s New York Post demanding that the State Department put the IRA back on its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations was as ill-considered and bellicose a piece of propaganda as has appeared for some time in Rupert Murdoch’s North American organ. Worse, it was inaccurate.

The Post was foaming at the mouth over the allegations that the IRA has been helping the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC). So far so good. Those allegations are serious, and have to be addressed, since they are based on evidence. But the editorial then goes on to accuse republicans of advising Iranians, Cubans “and possibly Basque operatives.” Not only that, it claims that the IRA has been training Palestinians in the West Bank in how to make explosive devices. All this, according to the Post, while importing new Russian-made weapons. The assertion is given as evidence that the IRA is planning to go back to violence in Northern Ireland.

As further evidence of this, the Post cites the “hit list” of Conservative politicians that was recently uncovered by the police in swoops in Northern Ireland. No doubt, if the IRA had an air force, the Post would have found reason to accuse it training Al Qu’da militants how to fly.

The accusations concerning Iranians, Cubans, and Basques, possibly derive from a misreporting about the hearing held on April 24 before the House International Relations Committee on the IRA in Colombia. A Colombian witness, General Fernando Tapias, asserted that there was evidence that Iraq (not Iran) had sent people to the FARC-controlled area. But no assertion was made that the IRA had been advising Iraqis. Interestingly, the same witness also mentioned an Isr’li presence among the right-wing paramilitaries, but the Post did not mention this in its diatribe. The general actually went out of his way to compliment the Cubans for their help in trying to aid the now-defunct Colombian peace process and in combating the drugs traffic in that area. Again, this did not fit the Post’s agenda, so it was conveniently ignored.

The Palestinian story came from a former British soldier who had been in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, and the kinds of devices he was talking about employ technology that is now widely available.

The Russian rifles story, which appeared two weeks ago in a British conservative daily, was derided even by British intelligence sources. The so-called hit list of political leaders was culled from published sources. An indication of how seriously the British government took it was its decision not to warn those on the list that they were in any imminent danger.

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Opinions are of value in proportion to the number of facts upon which they are based. The fewer the facts, the less reliable the opinion.

The Post has a poor history when it comes to reporting the facts about Ireland, which it tends to ignore. Opinions emanating from such a source should be accorded the same treatment.

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