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WikiLeaks Shows Diplomats Lie to Themselves Before They Lie to Journalists

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"How is the world ruled and led to war? Diplomats lie to journalists and believe these lies when they see them in print."

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Peter Hart, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

Today (12/2/10) the New York Times has another report based on the latest WikiLeaks cables. The focus is on U.S. policy toward the former Soviet republic of Georgia, and the upshot is that diplomats based there exercised little to no scrutiny of the claims made by Georgian government regarding South Ossetia and Russia. The conflict there led eventually to a brief war in 2008, which was often inaccurately portrayed in U.S. media as unprovoked Russian aggression against a U.S. ally. The Times reports:

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The cables show that for several years, as Georgia entered an escalating contest with the Kremlin for the future of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two breakaway enclaves out of Georgian control that received Russian support, Washington relied heavily on the Saakashvili government's accounts of its own behavior. In neighboring countries, American diplomats often maintained their professional distance, and privately detailed their misgivings of their host governments. In Georgia, diplomats appeared to set aside skepticism and embrace Georgian versions of important and disputed events.

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By 2008, as the region slipped toward war, sources outside the Georgian government were played down or not included in important cables. Official Georgian versions of events were passed to Washington largely unchallenged.

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