Sunday, July 10, 2005

Where is Fernando Pereira in "Report Says Mitterrand Approved Sinking of Greenpeace Ship"

Twenty years ago, two French secret service frogmen attached mines to the hull of a ship owned by the environmentalist group Greenpeace as it lay anchored in a New Zealand harbor, and the explosions ripped large holes in it.
The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior before it could set off to protest French nuclear tests in the Pacific killed a Greenpeace photographer on board, provoking much embarrassment in Paris and the resignation of top officials.

The above is from "Report Says Mitterrand Approved Sinking of Greenpeace Ship" in this morning's New York Times. Online, the article is credited to "The New York Times." In print, it's credited to "Marlise Simons."

Not really sure who wants to grab credit here, but we're not really sure that this is an article to be proud of. It's on A3 in the print edition and difficult to find online. (Once again, thank you to Dallas for hunting down the link.) That's partly due to the fact that it's not credited to the author it's credited to in print. It's also not a story displayed on the website's international home page. Click on "Europe" there and, Dallas reports, it's not a main story with a photo. It is listed, number twelve of fifteen stories they only offer headlines to. Someone decided that it was important enough in print for the bottom of page A3. Apparently, it's less important online.

And someone should figure out who wrote the article because there shouldn't be an inconsistency in the byline for the print version and the online version (which are exactly the same -- thanks for copying and pasting, Dallas).

Had this article run prior to June 26th, we'd read it and think, "Hmm." But we read it today and wonder why there's no mention of Fernando Pereira? The concluding paragraph beings "The sinking of the ship led to" and goes on to list arrest of two people (French agents, they were sentenced in New Zealand but got off easy). It tells us France had to pay fines. But nowhere in the concluding paragraph or anywhere in the story is Fernando Pereira mentioned.

Who is Fernando Pereira? Did you miss the entry entitled "Who was Fernando Pereira?" from June 26th?

Fernando Pereira was killed in 1985 by French agents, the story tells us. The two agents ("Saboteurs Dominique Prieur (left) and Alain Mafart"?) pled guilty to manslaughter and were "sentence to 10 years in jail" but were in two. The two aren't identified in the story (the names in the parenthetical come from the captions to the photos). Pereira's daughter Marelle feels the two got off easy because they copped a plea of manslaughter and she feels her father was murdered.

The "sinking of the ship" that the article (by "The New York Times" or by Simons, we don't know) refers to? Pereira died on it. That's kind of an important detail that should have been included in this article.

It's important that "23-page handwritten report written by Admiral Lacoste" was turned over to Le Monde. It's important that the report asserts that then President of France, Francois Mitterrand, authorized the sinking. But if you're going to discuss the subject, merely noting that the Rainbow Warrior was sunk, that two French agents were arrested (and convicted) and that France had to pay damages isn't quite cutting it.

(Any member who reads French, including French members, are welcome to go the Le Monde website and try to locate it. C.I.'s French is a haze from lack of use and Ava's French consists of one course in conversational French, but we aren't finding it online. Click here to look for yourself.)

We'll move over to The New Zealand Herald, "Papers show Mitterrand approved Rainbow Warrior bombing:"

The sabotage of the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior 20 years ago in Auckland was carried out with the "personal authorisation" of France's late president Francois Mitterrand, documents showed today.
Le Monde newspaper published extracts in its Saturday edition of a 1986 account written by Pierre Lacoste, the former head of France's DGSE foreign intelligence service, giving the clearest demonstration yet of Mitterrand's direct involvement in the sinking of the campaign vessel. Portuguese photographer Fernando Pereira died in the attack on the ship that was leading Greenpeace's campaign against French nuclear tests on the Mururoa Atoll in the Pacific.
"I asked the president if he gave me permission to put into action the neutralisation plan that I had studied on the request of Monsieur (Charles) Hernu," Lacoste wrote. Hernu was defence minister at the time.

The above is a Reuters story. Note that in the third paragraph, they mention Fernando Pereira.
Was "Simons" or "The New York Times" under a harsh deadline? Was no one familiar with the story? Or was a decision made that Fernando Pereira's death isn't "important?"

We don't know. We think it's an imporant topic. We think the story would have benefitted by acknowledging that this wasn't just a ship being sunk, it was also an attack that led to someone dying. Regardless of the reason behind Pereira not being included (or motive if it was intentional), he needed to be included. He is part of this story. This wasn't just vandalism and leaving the reader with the impression that only property was damaged doesn't cut it.

June 26th, the question was raised here, "Who is Fernando Pereira?" Check the link for what the Times forgets to tell you.

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