Cowards and Traitors at Condé Nast
Martin Luther King always said he’d much rather battle the white sheets of the KKK than those so-called “moderates” in his own ranks whose cowardice so often betrayed him. We feel his pain especially sharply this week.
The September issue of GQ magazine bears a huge photo of the face of deceased pop star Michael Jackson on its cover and weighs in at a massive 320 pages, if you count the final one which has a sample of LaCoste cologne for men. It’s the “Big Fall Style Issue” and begins with dozens of pages of fashion advertising interspersed with the issue’s table of contents, making it virtually impossible to survey the list of articles in any efficient way.
The cover makes no reference whatsoever to the eight-page investigative article you will find beginning on page 246, written by seasoned war correspondent Scott Anderson and entitled “None Dare Call it Conspiracy.” You also won’t find the article anywhere on the magazine’s website, and National Public Radio reported that the Russian version of GQ won’t even carry the piece in its hard copy, much less online (Bloggasm has more details). The article accuses the Putin regime of planting the bombs which leveled two Moscow apartment blocks in 1999, and then using those massacres as justification to attack Chechnya days later. These are the same explosive allegations that got Alexander Litvinenko poisoned with radiation by the KGB.
Thanks to the heroic efforts of the GAWKER website, however, you can read the brilliant, courageous and absolutely essential article in both Russian and English from the comfort of your browser. UPDATE: The story is now online in HTML format thanks to the efforts of the blogosphere. It’s one of the most important pieces of reporting on Russia in the last decade.
The editors of GQ, and its publishers at Condé Nast, are venal traitors to basic American values. Indeed, we’re surprised that these scum even had the courage to let this article into print in any form, even buried deep within the folds of their pablum about stylish dressing. Hiding it from the world, and censoring it from the people who need to read it most, is a barbaric act of treachery the likes of which American journalism has rarely seen. Everyone employed by these organizations should be ashamed of themselves, they are unworthy of the term “journalism.”
Let’s be clear: Scott Anderson risked his life to report this story, and Litvinenko was not the only one the Kremlin has murdered for similar efforts. In fact, several other high-profile Russians have been assassinated for their efforts to shed light on the atrocity, including Sergei Yushenkov and Yuri Shchekochikhin. The editors and publishers owed their reporter more respect than to bury his piece in a sordid fashion issue and hide it entirely from the wider world. Anyone who works for GQ and has any self respect should immediately resign. Anderson should sue, and we’ll be happy to donate to his legal fund.
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Anderson’s reporting contains four key points which are, in the context of the mainstream media, absolutely revelatory:
- Putin would not have power but for the bombings
- The West has appeased Putin on this issue
- All those who tried to investigate in Russia were murdered
- The evidence of KGB complicity is compelling and direct
Opening with a terrifyingly evil image of a brooding Vladimir Putin, Anderson’s article begins by making the absolutely critical point that the Moscow apartment bombings were not merely used as a pretext for invading and subjugating breakaway Chechnya, which is bad enough in and of itself given that the rebels denied committing the heinous act, but as justification for the empowerment of Vladmir Putin himself. A proud KGB spy, even in spineless Russia it was to be expected that the population would have some reservations about handing over power to an organization that had just led the country to ruin. The bombings gave Putin the perfect distraction so that nobody paid attention to that disturbing fact when election day rolled around a few months later.
Anderson moves on to nail the other critical issue on the bombings, Western appeasement. He quotes the father of a family that perished in one of the bombings, mincing no words: “They say it was the Chechens who did this, but that is a lie. It was Putin’s people. Everyone knows that. No one wants to talk about it, but everyone knows that.” He continues chillingly:
It is a mystery that lies at the very heart of the modern Russian state, one that remains unsolved to this day. In the awful events of September 1999, did Russia find an avenging angel in Vladimir Putin, the proverbial man of action who crushed his nation’s attackers and led his people out of a time of crisis? Or was that crisis actually manufactured to benefit Putin, a scheme by Russia’s secret police to bring one of their own to power? What makes this question important is that absent the bombings of September 1999 and all that transpired as a result, it is hard to conceive of any scenario whereby Putin would hold the position he enjoys today: a player on the global stage, the ruler of one of the most powerful nations on earth.
It is peculiar, then, how few people outside Russia seem to have wanted that question answered. Several intelligence agencies are believed to have conducted investigations into the apartment bombings, but none have released their findings. Very few American lawmakers have shown an interest in the bombings. In 2003 John McCain declared in Congress that “there remain credible allegations that Russia’s FSB had a hand in carrying out these attacks.” But otherwise, neither the U.S. government nor the American media have ever shown much inclination to explore the matter.
The heroic Russian website Grani.ru maintains a special page devoted to the investigation in both Russian and English, but as Anderson notes the issue has otherwise largely been ignored in Russia as well. That’s because of the third key point, and here Anderson’s reporting becomes absolutely essential: It’s the murders, stupid. Anderson sounds, at long last, the clarion call of warning that only one man remains active in Russia trying to tell the truth about the bombings, a man whose days are surely numbered. That man’s name is Mikhail Trepashkin, the real focus of Anderson’s reporting. Anderson interviewed Trepashkin at length in Russia and found his allegations obviously credible and disturbing. Indeed, Anderson emphasizes that for most of his life Trepashkin was a hardcore true believer of the KGB, and worked to prevent Boris Yeltsin from coming to power and unraveling the fabric of the USSR Trepashkin had worked to hard to weave. Only when he saw his own organization threaten the survival of his own people did he finally see the light.
As we’ve previously reported, both of the key members on the shadow commission that was created to investigate the bombings Yushenkov and Shchekochikhin, were murdered. When KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko tried to pick up their fallen flag, he too was struck down — in the most brazen act of political assassination since the fall of the USSR. Given the fact that the Kremlin razed the sites of the bombings and has never convicted any Chechen of involvement of any kind, any thinking person should be able to understand that the Kremlin has something to hide. Considering that the KGB was caught red-handed trying to bomb yet another building, claiming in a truly obscene manner that they were only practicing to foil future bombings, it’s clear what that something is. It’s murder.
Finally, Anderson drops Trepashkin’s bombshell, the one that got him arrested five years ago. Trepashkin found out that immediately after the Moscow bombings a known KGB operative, Vladimir Romanovich, had been identified by local residents as being involved in the plot. Before the KGB could stop it, local newspapers in Moscow had run a sketch of Romanovich. Soon the KGB intervened, pulling the drawing and replacing it with one of another man, but Trepashkin researched the archives when he learned about the original report, obtained a copy of the drawing and recognized Romanovich. Trepashkin, you see, is like Litvinenko a KGB defector. As soon as Trepashkin started making waves with the drawing at the show trial of two men the Kremlin was attempting to frame for the bombings, Trepashkin was arrested. He spent the next five years in prison, only being released a few months ago. For his part, Romanovich was killed in Cyprus not long after the bombings, ostensibly by a hit-and-run driver but in all liklihood to shut him up permanently after his cover had been blown
Now released, Trepashkin is back on the trail. Anderson realizes that the Kremlin will surely kill him unless his profile can be raised high enough that doing so would be fraught with peril, hence his piece for GQ. Little did he know that his publisher would, as if they were working on orders from Putin himself, virtually kill the piece — burying it so deep that nobody would notice and refusing to run it in Russia, meaning that in essence he had risked his life for nothing.
The only hope is that the scandal created by the magazine’s cowardice will generate a second life for the piece, that perhaps some mainstream publishers will turn out to have more guts than GQ and pick up this vital story and give it the attention it deserves. Maybe then our governments will do the same, and we as voters must demand that they do. Otherwise, we too will be complicit in the rise of the neo-Soviet state awash in blood.