Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Judith Miller

“Oh God! Here We Go Again” in Iraq

We marvel at the Big Brass Ones on some people who feel the need to offer their opinions about how the U.S. should conduct itself with regards to recent rise of extremist elements in the country and the loss of two of its major cities to al Qaeda.

David Ferguson published this June 13, 2014

The seven people who need to STFU about Iraq right now

These people seem to believe that their previous dire wrongness on everything about the topic of Iraq shouldn’t preclude them from opining about our nation’s current course of action, goodness no.

judymiller

Mika Brzeznski 

1. Andrew Sullivan, who has devoted any number of column inches lately to slamming the NeoCons and the war “they” advocated for. In a post today — the elegantly titled “The Neocons Get A War Chubby” — Sullivan roundly mocked and scolded re-interventionists, warning the country not to “sink the U.S. right back into the Iraqi quicksand.”

 

Sullivan has long-since disavowed the infamous 2001 column in which he said war critics might collude with al Qaeda to try and take down the U.S. from within, but it tends to linger on in the memory, much as forgotten sushi leftovers will leave behind their distinctive odeur to linger in that drawer in your refrigerator.

“The middle part of the country — the great red zone that voted for Bush — is clearly ready for war,” Sullivan wrote in the U.K.’s Sunday Times. “The decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead — and may well mount a fifth column.”

We’ve got your “fifth column” right here, Andy. It’s in our pants.

2. Judith Miller, the Bush administration’s “humiliated and discredited shill” on WMDs was once thankfully banished to writing a household hints column for the West Egg Pennysaver — or something.

Nonetheless, on Friday, the reporter known as “the most infamous example of the press’s failure in the run-up to that war” was unflushably bobbing up on Fox News to discuss the media’s portrayal of Iraq as Irony let herself into the garage and started the car without opening the garage door and waited quietly for the end.

3. Thomas Friedman, the hot air specialist who rhapsodized in May of 2003 that American military might had rightly told the Iraqi people to “suck on this.”

When the Iraqis declined his offer and the occupation spiraled completely out of control, Friedman insisted over and over that the situation would stabilize in just 6 more months.

To commemorate this very special failure as a pundit and prognosticator, lefty wags created the Friedman Unit, a six month span of time in which nothing ever happens.

4. The New York Times seems to have conveniently forgotten how sad and diminished the Gray Lady looked locked out on the Bush administration’s porch in her bloomers, poor old thing.

Today, columnist Tyler Cowen lamented that the economy is suffering because we don’t have any major wars planned after forces come home from Afghanistan at the end of the year.  Peace, the libertarian fretted, is bad for business.

Funny they should endorse war as an economic engine right as Iraq appears to be shitting its bed and playing with matches in a fireworks store. I mean, what are the odds?

5. The whole of the so-called Juicebox Mafia. The lines of that particular claque have expanded and contracted to include Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias and a passel of other Beltway post-teens who were so excited they got to sit at the big kids’ table they forgot that they didn’t know jack shit about foreign policy and endorsed a war of choice in one of the most volatile regions of the world, wheeee! What could go wrong? We’re smart! And cute!

A big, preemptive “Shut it!” goes out to Peter Beinart who, in January, 2003, joined the National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg in a CNN panel discussion in which the two giggled and leered over accusations that U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter was a child molester because of allegations that he had communicated over the Internet with a 16-year-old girl.

“I think that he didn’t have any credibility to begin with,” said Beinart of Ritter. “I mean, this is the guy who never really explained, as Jonah said, why he flipped 180 degrees and became a Saddam mouthpiece. So for me it’s irrelevant. I never listened to what he had to say on Iraq to begin with.”

“He’s now just basically joined Pete Townsend on the Magic School Bus,” Beinart continued. “Pete Townsend of the WHO has also been implicated in child porn and things of that nature. But as everybody said, Ritter’s credibility, just on the basics of Iraq, was completely shot and now there’s even less reason to listen to him.”

Scott Ritter’s alleged crime? Pointing out that Saddam Hussein didn’t have any WMDs and that a U.S. invasion was a bad idea.

6. Ari Fleischer, one of the most pugnacious, pugilistic, and sometimes breathtakingly condescending White House press secretaries in history.

Fleischer functioned as a lying administration’s able mouthpiece both here and in the combat zone and served the unlikely function in life of making fellow Bush administration shill Dan Senor seem almost non-slimy.

Fleischer piped up on Twitter Friday morning to simultaneously absolve the Bush administration of blame and passive aggressively accuse the Obama administration of squandering gains made by his own masters. Trouble is, he got the year wrong.

“Regardless of what anyone thinks about going into Iraq in 2002,” he tweeted — apparently forgetting that the first bombing raids began in March of 2003, “it’s a tragedy that the successes of the 2007 surge have been lost & abandoned.”

Bush administration folks are still around, apparently, to remind us in the reality-based community that facts is HARD and stuff.

7. John McCain, you angry, corn-teethed fossil.

You’ve never met a foreign conflict that didn’t require MOAR U.S. TROOPS, have you? At least you’re consistent, after a fashion. Oh, who are we kidding, you’re not consistent at all about anything that might score you some political points and get you on TV!

Things didn’t go super well for you on Morning Joe on Friday, though, did they? Impeccably-coiffed refrigerator magnet Mika Brzeznski actually woke up from her boredom-induced coma and called you out right to your face, didn’t she, old man?

“What about going [into Iraq] in the first place, and what about churning the hate, and what about taking the Sunnis out of leadership positions in 2003, what about the fact that there might have been some parts of this that were on the previous administration that might be litigated as well?” Brzezinski said.

Then she went on to ask the question everyone in the country should be asking, why does anyone listen to you anyway? If we’d taken your advice, she said, we’d be knee-deep in Syria right now.

“So we’re going to be in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then we’re also going into Syria, in your estimate?” she asked. “I mean, I’m just wondering how long can we do this? How long can we do this? How long can you ask this of American troops and think it’s okay?”

She’s right, John. You’re like a jumped-up rich boy with no real capital of his own who’s bellied up to the blackjack table blowing every single penny of his wife’s money just to catch that fleeting winner’s high.

Oh, no, wait, that’s exactly what you really are, isn’t it?

Or, as TBogg so eloquently observed, “Hush you guys. The guy who thought Sarah Palin would make a good vice-president is explaining to us what we should do in Iraq.”

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.

 

News Leaks? Or Spoonfed official news?

Did we learn nothing from the Judith Miller’s WMD reporting debacle during the Iraq invasion?  Is Obama using the major US news media as official mouthpieces?

Glenn Greenwald published this article in the Guardian on Friday 8 June 2012 under “Spoonfed national security scoops based on anonymous official leaks – did we learn nothing?” (with slight editing). This article is in response to https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/drone-kill-list-when-to-be-reviewed-and-revised/

“Over the past several weeks in the US, there has been a series of high-profile media scoops exposing numerous details about President Obama’s covert foreign policy and counterterrorism actions, stories appearing primarily in The New York Times.
 
Americans, for the first time, have been told about:
1.  Obama’s personal role in compiling a secret “kill list”, which determines who will be targeted for death in Pakistan and Yemen;

Each of these stories revealed information clearly in the public interest and sparked important debates.

The way in which they were reported – specifically, their overwhelming reliance on Obama’s own usually anonymous aides – raise longstanding and still troubling questions about the relationship between the establishment American media and the government over which it is supposed to serve as adversarial watchdog.

The Obama White House’s extreme fixation on secrecy is shaped by a bizarre paradox:

1. The current administration has prosecuted double the number of whistleblowers – government employees who leak classified information showing high-level official wrongdoing – than all previous administrations combined

Obama officials have also, as ACLU lawyers documented this week in the Guardian, resisted with unprecedented vigor any attempts to subject their conduct to judicial review or any form of public disclosure, by insisting to courts that these programs are so secretive that the US government cannot even confirm or deny their existence without damaging US national security.

2. At the very same time that they invoke broad secrecy claims to shield their conduct from outside scrutiny, it is Obama officials themselves who have continuously and quite selectively leaked information about these same programs to the US media.

Indeed, the high publicity-value New York Times scoops of the past two weeks about covert national security programs have come substantially from Obama aides themselves.

The Times’ “kill list” article was based on interviews with “three dozen of his current and former advisers [who] described Mr Obama’s” central role in choosing whom the CIA will kill.

The paper’s scoop that Obama ordered cyber-attacks on Iran cited, among others, “American officials”, including “a senior administration official” who proudly touted the president’s hands-on role in all measures used to cripple Tehran’s nuclear research.

Meanwhile, the same White House that insists in court that it cannot confirm the existence of the CIA’s drone program spent this week anonymously boasting to US news outlets of the president’s latest drone kill in Pakistan.

And government emails ordered disclosed by a federal court last month revealed that, at the same time as they were refusing to disclose information about the Bin Laden raid on the grounds that it is classified, the Obama administration was secretly meeting with, and shuffling sensitive information to, Hollywood filmmakers, who are producing what is certain to be a stirring and reverent film about that raid, originally scheduled to be released just weeks before the November presidential election.

The tactic driving all of this is as obvious as it is disturbing.

Each of these election year leaks depicts Obama as a tough, hands-on, unflinching commander-in-chief: ruthlessly slaying America’s enemies and keeping us all safe.

The official leaks simultaneously portray Obama as a deep moral and intellectual leader, profoundly grappling with the “writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas”, as he decides in secret who will live and die and which countries will be targeted with American aggression.

In sum, these anonymous leaks are classic political propaganda: devoted to glorifying the leader and his policies for political gain.

Because the programs are shrouded in official secrecy, it is impossible for journalists to verify these selective disclosures.

By design, the only means the public has to learn anything about what the president is doing is the partial, selective disclosures by Obama’s own aides – those who work for him and are devoted to his political triumph.

That process is a recipe for government deceit and propaganda.

This was precisely the dynamic that, in the run-up to the attack on Iraq, co-opted America’s largest media outlets as mindless purveyors of false government claims.

The defining journalistic sin of Judith Miller, the New York Times’ disgraced WMD reporter, was that she masqueraded the unverified assertions of anonymous Bush officials as reported fact. 

As the Times’ editors put it in their 2004 mea culpa, assertions from anonymous sources were “insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged”.

These recent Times scoops about Obama’s policies do not sink to the level of the Judy Miller debacle:

1. For one thing, they contain some impressive reporting and even disturbing revelations about the conduct of Obama officials – most notably, that they manipulate casualty figures and hide civilian deaths from their drone attacks by “counting all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants“.

2. For another, they include some internal criticism of Obama’s practices, such as the indiscriminate nature of his “signature” drone strikes (when they see “three guys doing jumping jacks”, the CIA concludes it’s a terrorist training camp), and the deceit inherent in his radically broad definition of “militant”.

(One “official” is quoted as follows: “It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants. They count the corpses and they’re not really sure who they are.”)

3. These disclosures have real journalistic import. It’s indisputably valuable for American citizens to know that their government convenes secret “kill list” meetings, and that it is launching cyber-attacks on Iran, attacks which the Pentagon considers (at least, when done to the US) to be an “act of war”.

Despite those real differences with the Judy Miller travesty, the basic template is the same:

1.  These reporters rely overwhelmingly on government sources.

2. Their reporting is shaped almost exclusively by the claims of underlings who are loyal to the president.

3. The journalists have no means of verifying the assertions they are passing on as fact.

4. And worst of all, they grant anonymity to Obama’s aides who are doing little more than doing the president’s bidding and promoting his political interests.

It is pure “access journalism“: these reporters are given scoops in exchange for their entirely unjustified promise to allow government officials to “propagandize” the citizenry without accountability (that is, from behind the protective shield of anonymity).

By necessity, their journalistic storytelling is shaped by the perspective of these official sources.

And the journalistic product is predictably one that serves the president’s political agenda.

 Obama’s 2008 opponent, Republican Senator John McCain, complained, quite reasonably, that the intent of these recent leaks was to “enhance President Obama’s image as a tough guy for the elections”.

Worse, as the Columbia Journalism Review and the media watchdog group FAIR both documented, these stories simply omitted any discussion of many of the most controversial aspects of Obama’s policies, including the risks and possible illegality of cyber-attacks on Iran and drone strikes in Yemen, the number of civilian deaths caused by Obama’s drone strikes, and the way those drone attacks have strengthened al-Qaida by increasing anti-American hatred.

Perhaps the most pernicious effect of this type of journalism is that it converts journalists into dutiful messengers of official decrees.

Reporters are trained that they will be selected as scoop-receivers only if they demonstrate fealty to the agenda of official sources.

In February, the Times’ Scott Shane controversially granted anonymity to a “senior” Obama official to smear as al-Qaida sympathizers the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, after the BIJ documented the significant under-counting by Obama officials of civilian deaths from drone strikes as well as the Obama administration’s horrifying and possibly criminal practice of targeting rescuers and funerals with drone attacks.

It was Shane, along with Jo Becker, who was then provided with the scoop about Obama’s “kill list”.

Similarly, the Times’ David Sanger has long been criticized for uncritical dissemination of misleading US government claims about the threat from Iran, almost always passed on with the shield of anonymity.

It was unsurprising that it was Sanger who was rewarded with the valuable scoop about Obama’s ordering of cyber-attacks on Iran (a scoop he is using to sell his new book), and equally unsurprising that the article he produced was so flattering of Obama’s role in this operation.

By revealing contrast, consider the treatment meted out to the Times’ James Risen, who has produced scoops that are embarrassing to, rather than glorifying of, the US government.

It was Risen who exposed the Bush administration’s illegal NSA eavesdropping program in 2006, and he also exposed a highly inept and harmful CIA attempt to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program.

As a result, the Obama justice department has relentlessly pursued Risen in court, serving him with subpoenas in an attempt to compel him to reveal his source for the Iran infiltration story, a process that could send him to prison if, as is likely, he refuses. 

Note: New York Times reporter Judith Miller testified before the Senate judiciary committee, in 2005. In 2004, the New York Times issued a mea culpa about Miller’s use of Bush administration anonymous briefing on WMD intelligence before the Iraq war.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

December 2020
M T W T F S S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Blog Stats

  • 1,441,851 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 784 other followers

%d bloggers like this: