Atomic Bomb Effects Cover-up
Reported in New
below article is an excellent example of how even the New York Times
has twisted the facts and manipulated public opinion in order to support a deeper
agenda. This revealing story covers the bombing of Hiroshima almost 60 years
ago, yet the same deceptive techniques of distortion and manipulation continue
to be used today to support
the profit-making war machine. Thanks to the Internet and excellent
alternative news websites, those who want to know can now find viable alternative
viewpoints and explore the veracity of questionable news reports in the mainstream
The New York Times itself has acknowledged government and media complicity
in hiding the effects of the Atomic bomb in an August 3, 2005 Reuters article titled
"U.S. Suppressed Footage of Hiroshima for Decades." To read this highly
revealing article, see
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/news/news-media-anniversary.html. Here's one quote from this astonishing article, "In the
weeks following the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, U.S. authorities
seized and suppressed film shot in the bombed cities by U.S. military crews
and Japanese newsreel teams to prevent Americans from seeing the full extent
of devastation wrought by the new weapons." Please help to inform others
by sharing this revealing news with your friends and colleagues.
Note: Since this webpage was posted, the New York Times has removed the article at the link above for unknown reasons, though you can still read the article, which was on the Reuters newswire by clicking here.
How the War Department's
Timesman Won a Pulitzer
by Amy Goodman and David Goodman
-- I. F. Stone,
At the dawn of the nuclear age, an independent Australian journalist
named Wilfred Burchett traveled to Japan to cover the aftermath of the
atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The only problem was that General Douglas
MacArthur had declared southern Japan off-limits, barring the press. Over
200,000 people died in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but
no Western journalist witnessed the aftermath and told the story.
The world's media obediently crowded onto the USS Missouri off the coast of
Japan to cover the surrender of the Japanese.
Wilfred Burchett decided to strike out on his own. He was determined to see for
himself what this nuclear bomb had done, to understand what this vaunted
new weapon was all about. So he boarded a train and traveled for thirty
hours to the city of Hiroshima in defiance of General MacArthur's orders.
Burchett emerged from the train into a nightmare world. The
devastation that confronted him was unlike any he had ever seen during the
war. The city of Hiroshima, with a population of 350,000, had been razed.
Multistory buildings were reduced to charred posts. He saw people's shadows
seared into walls and sidewalks. He met people with their skin melting off.
In the hospital, he saw patients with purple skin hemorrhages, gangrene,
fever, and rapid hair loss. Burchett was among the first to witness and
describe radiation sickness.
Burchett sat down on a chunk of rubble with his Baby Hermes
typewriter. His dispatch began: "In Hiroshima, thirty days after the
first atomic bomb destroyed the city and shook the world, people are still
dying, mysteriously and horribly-people who were uninjured in the cataclysm
from an unknown something which I can only describe as the atomic
He continued, tapping out the words that still haunt to this day: "Hiroshima
does not look like a bombed city. It looks as if a monster steamroller has
passed over it and squashed it out of existence. I write these facts as
dispassionately as I can in the hope that they will act as a warning to the
Burchett's article, headlined THE ATOMIC PLAGUE, was published on
September 5, 1945, in the London Daily Express. The story caused a
worldwide sensation. Burchett's candid reaction to the horror shocked
readers. "In this first testing ground of the atomic bomb I
have seen the most terrible and frightening desolation in four years of
war. It makes a blitzed Pacific island seem like an Eden. The
damage is far greater than photographs can show. "When you arrive in
Hiroshima you can look around for twenty-five and perhaps thirty square
miles. You can see hardly a building. It gives you an empty feeling in the
stomach to see such man-made destruction."
Burchett's searing independent reportage was a public relations
fiasco for the U.S. military. General MacArthur had gone to pains to
restrict journalists' access to the bombed cities, and his military censors
were sanitizing and even killing dispatches that described the horror. The
official narrative of the atomic bombings downplayed civilian casualties
and categorically dismissed reports of the deadly lingering effects of
radiation. Reporters whose dispatches [conflicted] with this version
of events found themselves silenced: George Weller of the Chicago Daily
News slipped into Nagasaki and wrote a 25,000-word story on the nightmare
that he found there. Then he made a crucial error: He submitted the piece
to military censors. His newspaper never even received his story. As Weller
later summarized his experience with MacArthur's censors, "They
U.S. authorities responded in time-honored fashion to
Burchett's revelations: They attacked the messenger. General MacArthur ordered him
expelled from Japan (the order was later rescinded), and his camera with
photos of Hiroshima mysteriously vanished while he was in the hospital.
U.S. officials accused Burchett of being influenced by Japanese propaganda.
They scoffed at the notion of an atomic sickness. The U.S. military issued
a press release right after the Hiroshima bombing that downplayed human
casualties, instead emphasizing that the bombed area was the site of
valuable industrial and military targets.
Four days after Burchett's story splashed across front pages around
the world, Major General Leslie R. Groves, director of the atomic
bomb project, invited a select group of thirty reporters to New Mexico.
Foremost among this group was William L. Laurence, the Pulitzer
Prize-winning science reporter for The New York Times. Groves took
the reporters to the site of the first atomic test. His intent was to
demonstrate that no atomic radiation lingered at the site. Groves trusted
Laurence to convey the military's line; the general was not disappointed.
Laurence's front-page story, U.S. ATOM BOMB SITE BELIES
TOKYO TALES: TESTS ON NEW MEXICO RANGE CONFIRM THAT BLAST, AND NOT
RADIATION, TOOK TOLL, ran on September 12, 1945, following a three-day delay
to clear military censors. "This historic ground in New Mexico, scene
of the first atomic explosion on earth and cradle of a new era in
civilization, gave the most effective answer today to Japanese propaganda
that radiations [sic] were responsible for deaths even after the day of the
explosion, Aug. 6, and that persons entering Hiroshima had contracted
mysterious maladies due to persistent radioactivity," the article
began. Laurence said unapologetically that the Army tour was intended
"to give the lie to these claims."
Laurence quoted General Groves: "The Japanese claim
that people died from radiation. If this is true, the number was very
Laurence then went on to offer his own remarkable editorial on what
happened: "The Japanese are still continuing their propaganda aimed at
creating the impression that we won the war unfairly, and thus attempting
to create sympathy for themselves and milder terms . . . Thus, at the
beginning, the Japanese described 'symptoms' that did not ring true."
But Laurence knew better. He had observed the first
atomic bomb test on July 16, 1945, and he withheld what he knew about
radioactive fallout across the southwestern desert that poisoned local
residents and livestock. He kept mum about the spiking Geiger counters all
around the test site.
William L. Laurence went on to write a series of ten
articles for the Times that served as a glowing tribute to the ingenuity
and technical achievements of the nuclear program. Throughout these and
other reports, he downplayed and denied the human impact of the bombing.
Laurence won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting.
It turns out that William L. Laurence was not only
receiving a salary from The New York Times. He was also on the payroll of
the War Department. In March 1945, General Leslie Groves had held a secret
meeting at The New York Times with Laurence to offer him a job writing
press releases for the Manhattan Project, the U.S. program to develop
atomic weapons. The intent, according to the Times, was "to explain
the intricacies of the atomic bomb's operating principles in laymen's
language." Laurence also helped write statements on the bomb for
President Truman and Secretary of War Henry Stimson.
Laurence eagerly accepted the offer, "his scientific curiosity
and patriotic zeal perhaps blinding him to the notion that he was at the
same time compromising his journalistic independence," as essayist
Harold Evans wrote in a history of war reporting. Laurence boasted
"Mine has been the honor, unique in the history of journalism, of
preparing the War Department's official press release for worldwide
distribution," boasted Laurence in his memoirs, Dawn Over Zero. "No
greater honor could have come to any newspaperman, or anyone else for that
"Atomic Bill" Laurence revered atomic weapons.
He had been crusading for an American nuclear program in articles as far
back as 1929. His dual status as government agent and reporter earned him
an unprecedented level of access to American military officials-he even flew in
the squadron of planes that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. His
reports on the atomic bomb and its use were laced with descriptions
that conveyed almost religious awe.
In Laurence's article about the bombing of Nagasaki (it was withheld
by military censors until a month after the bombing), he described the
detonation over Nagasaki that incinerated 100,000 people. Laurence waxed:
"Awe-struck, we watched it shoot upward like a meteor coming from the
earth instead of from outer space, becoming ever more alive as it climbed
skyward through the white clouds. . . . It was a living thing, a new
species of being, born right before our incredulous eyes."
Laurence later recounted his impressions of the atomic bomb:
"Being close to it and watching it as it was being fashioned into a
living thing, so exquisitely shaped that any sculptor would be proud to
have created it, one . . . felt oneself in the presence of the supranatural."
Laurence was good at keeping his master's secrets--from suppressing
the reports of deadly radioactivity in New Mexico to denying them in Japan.
The Times was also good at keeping secrets, only revealing Laurence's dual
status as government spokesman and reporter on August 7, the day after the
Hiroshima bombing--and four months after Laurence began working for the
Pentagon. As Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell wrote in their excellent
book Hiroshima in America: Fifty Years of Denial, "Here was
the nation's leading science reporter, severely compromised, not only
unable but disinclined to reveal all he knew about the potential hazards of
the most important scientific discovery of his time."
Now You See It, Now You Don't
A curious twist to this story concerns another New York
Times journalist who reported on Hiroshima; his name, believe it
or not, was William Lawrence (his byline was W.H. Lawrence). He has
long been confused with William L. Laurence. (Even Wilfred
Burchett confuses the two men in his memoirs and his 1983 book, Shadows of
Hiroshima.) Unlike the War Department's Pulitzer Prize winner, W.H.
Lawrence visited and reported on Hiroshima on the same day as Burchett.
(William L. Laurence, after flying in the squadron of planes that bombed
Nagasaki, was subsequently called back to the United States by the Times
and did not visit the bombed cities.)
W.H. Lawrence's original dispatch from Hiroshima was published on
September 5, 1945. He reported matter-of-factly about the deadly effects of
radiation, and wrote that Japanese doctors worried that "all who had
been in Hiroshima that day would die as a result of the bomb's lingering
effects." He described how "persons who had been only
slightly injured on the day of the blast lost 86 percent of their white
blood corpuscles, developed temperatures of 104 degrees Fahrenheit, their
hair began to drop out, they lost their appetites, vomited blood and
Oddly enough, W.H. Lawrence contradicted himself one
week later in an article headlined NO RADIOACTIVITY IN HIROSHIMA RUIN. For this article, the
Pentagon's spin machine had swung into high gear in response to Burchett's
horrifying account of "atomic plague." W.H. Lawrence reported
that Brigadier General T. F. Farrell, chief of the War Department's atomic
bomb mission to Hiroshima, "denied categorically that [the bomb]
produced a dangerous, lingering radioactivity." Lawrence's dispatch
quotes only Farrell; the reporter never mentions his eyewitness account of
people dying from radiation sickness that he wrote the previous week.
The conflicting accounts of Wilfred Burchett and William L. Laurence
might be ancient history were it not for a modern twist. On October 23,
2003, The New York Times published an article about a controversy over a
Pulitzer Prize awarded in 1932 to Times reporter Walter Duranty. A former
correspondent in the Soviet Union, Duranty had denied the existence of a
famine that had killed millions of Ukrainians in 1932 and 1933. The
Pulitzer Board had launched two inquiries to consider stripping Duranty of
his prize. The Times "regretted the lapses" of its reporter and
had published a signed editorial saying that Duranty's work was "some
of the worst reporting to appear in this newspaper." Current Times
executive editor Bill Keller decried Duranty's "credulous, uncritical
parroting of propaganda."
On November 21, 2003, the Pulitzer Board decided against rescinding
Duranty's award, concluding that there was "no clear and convincing
evidence of deliberate deception" in the articles that won the prize.
As an apologist for Joseph Stalin, Duranty is easy pickings. What
about the "deliberate deception" of William L. Laurence in
denying the lethal effects of radioactivity? And what of the fact that the
Pulitzer Board knowingly awarded the top journalism prize to the Pentagon's
paid publicist, who denied the suffering of millions of Japanese?
Do the Pulitzer Board and the Times approve of "uncritical parroting
of propaganda"--as long as it is from the United States?
It is long overdue that the prize for Hiroshima's
apologist be stripped.
Amy Goodman is host of the national radio and TV show
"Democracy Now!." This is an excerpt from her new national
bestselling book The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War
Profiteers, and the Media that Love Them, written with her brother
journalist David, exposes the reporting of Times correspondent William L.
is a national radio and TV program, broadcast on more than 240 stations.
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