Thursday, May 11, 2006

NYT: The intentionally blind and the willfully useless (yes, Dexy's back in print)

The plan, disclosed Wednesday in interviews with senior Iraqi leaders, would substantially alter Baghdad's landscape, now permeated by tens of thousands of police officers, soldiers and paramilitary troops whose identities and allegiances are not always clear.
Private militias and death squads have flourished in such an environment, with Iraqi officials acknowledging that they do not control all of the armed groups operating in Baghdad. Such militias, some of them acting with official cover, have been blamed for much of the mayhem and killing that have become routine in the capital.

The plan? When the New York Times misses the point completely on Iraq, it's usually a sign that Dexter Filkins is goofing on the job yet again. Which is the case in today's "Iraq Set to Unify Security Forces to Battle Chaos." The reogranization is nothing but an attempt to take control over the forces for what reason? To assign them to other areas. The reason that they've walked off the job in large numbers as they graduate.

We've note this before, most recently last week:

John Berman reported for ABC news on the "graduation ceremony for 978 recruits" which quickly dropped to half that figure as "[t]hey began taking off their uniforms when they learned they would not be stationed in their hometowns."

This an issue because if they're covering their hometowns, they might not be so willing to "crack down" on their friends and neighbors as they would be to "crack down" on strangers. (There are numerous historical examples where that is the case, I'm thinking of Russia right now, but it's true and it's always been true.)

Filkins can't even touch on that subject. Maybe it's hard to think when you're fat and lazy in the Green Zone or maybe being the US military's token pet and go-to-guy when they need to a plant a story means you never examine, just regurgitate?

Let's flash back to last month (for but one example on the military's house pet):

What else is there? Kirk Semple reports from Iraq. Not in the mood for it this morning. It's laughable that the Times has yet to apologize to readers for running propaganda that was part of a PSYOPS operation and yet they want readers to trust them on Iraq.
Let's be clear that what Dexter Filkins did in that instance (and just focusing on that one instance) topped Judith Miller because PSYOPS operations can be directed at foreign countries but it is illegal to use them on Americans. So let's be real clear that Dexter Filkins has surpassed Judith Miller.
The minute the truth of Dexy's report was reported (not in the Times), there should have been a very prominent note to the readers. It should have offered an apology, it should have named Filkins and should have set out some sort of guideline to prevent readers from being the target of future PSYOP operations. Bare minimum, that should have been done.
The paper's refusal to address the issue demonstrats, yet again, that the mea culpa was meaningless. Their silence, rightly or wrongly, indicates that they have no interest in whether their readers are misinformed or if reporters are accomplices (knowingly or unknowingly) in illegal activies that further lower the paper's credibility and damage the readers chances of true understanding. "All the news that's fit to print"?
A paper that's concerned itself with "tabloid wars" this week should be willing to take a serious (and needed) look at their own actions in what was an illegal activity by the government. As it is, for readers to know what happened, they can't depend on Edward Wong's aside yesterday, but will need to turn to Thomas E. Ricks "Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi" (Washington Post). The most we can hope for, apparently, is circle jerk profiles where Dexter Filkins says he and John F. Burns will be "friends forever" (did they exchange frienship braclets) and Burns notes Dexy's "questing." (Was there a medieval romance in the Green Zone?)

The paper still wants to play it like Dexy hasn't been caught running propaganda. (The same way they ignore the assertion, public, by another reporter, that Dexy allowed the military to decide whom he would interview for a story.)

Dexy Filkins is a joke, but he became a tired, old joke long ago. Considering the paper's war pornography and the war cheerleading, he's now a dirty joke. He's also a stenographer:

Such killings are common; insurgents have singled out nearly every Iraqi, especially professionals, who cooperates with the American-backed government.

Look familiar? It should. That's apparently a militiary spin point. Which is why it popped up in an AP story on Monday and why MSNBC felt no guilt for swiping the AP's version word for word. From Monday:

Question for the day? Does MSNBC think it's okay to rip off the Associated Press without crediting them? (This was pointed out to me by someone at one of NBC's rival networks.) First here's what appears at MSNBC (credited to "MSNBC News Services" and link takes you to the "report"):

Insurgents often try to prevent Iraqi citizens from cooperating with their country's new democratically elected government by attacking government workers and killing men who have been recruited into Iraq's military and police forces.

CBS is running an Associated Press article (no individual author credited at CBS, however it's Sameer N. Yacoub's "Bombs Kill U.S. Soldier and 7 Iraqis"):

Insurgents often try to prevent Iraqi citizens from cooperating with their country's new democratically elected government by attacking government workers and killing men who have been recruited into Iraq's military and police forces.

That's word for word. CBS notes it is an AP article. MSNBC pulls the paragraph and runs it without crediting it to AP. (Note: First paragraph contains a link to a CBS & AP story. That's another article -- one with joint credit.)

When the point makes it into Dexy's "reporting" you can be sure the US military (and administration) feel that they are "on point" with their message. Of course they are, when they need to be, they head straight for Dexy, King of reading press releases live from the Green Zone.
That he can't find the story today is a surprise only to those who haven't been paying attention.

Two highlights. First on Iraq, Mia notes Kevin Zeese's "The Corporate Takeover of Iraq's Economy" (CounterPunch):

But, according to a book by Antonia Juhasz, "The Bush Agenda," it was the Reagan, Bush I and Bush II administrations that most aggressively pursued the Iraq oil economy. Her excellent book tells a story that explains the reasons for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It shows how the Reagan and Bush I administrations began by building a friendly trade relationship that provided money, arms, intelligence, and political protection to Saddam Hussein--despite his brutal record as a despotic dictator. And, how the Clinton years led to 'regime change' in Iraq becoming the policy of the United States and naturally following that was the Bush II's military invasion of the country.
She highlights the web of corporate interests from the oil, oil engineering and military sectors of the U.S. economy that have combined with government to the build-up to the invasion of Iraq. Many of the corporate players--Chevron, Bechtel, Lockheed Martin and Halliburton--have corporate leaders who went into and out of government over the years, influencing the direction of U.S. policy and then ensuring that their corporations profited mightily from the policies they put in place. Juhasz points to Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, L. Paul Bremer, Scooter Libby, Robert Zoellick, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad and George Shultz, as key players in the long term quest to takeover of Iraq's economy.
The Root of the Problem: Peak Oil in the U.S. and Corporate Globalization of Trade
The story of the invasion of Iraq and theft of the Iraqi economy is part of a larger story of multi-national corporations and corporate globalization affecting much of the world. Under the guise of "free trade" economic policies that make multinational corporations more powerful than governments. Laws favoring corporations are put in place: less regulation, less commitment to specific locations, and restrictions on government preventing the shift of economic benefit away from small, local business, workers, consumers and the environment. Globalization of trade claims to benefit by trickling down the profit, but in reality it continues to funnel wealth to the top--making the rich richer, the poor poorer and the middle class class smaller.

Second, Brad notes John Nichols on the Hayden nomination and the need for civilian control of the government. From Nichols' "Will Civilians Control the Military?" (The Online Beat, The Nation):

President Bush's nomination of Air Force General Michael V. Hayden to direct the Central Intelligence Agency has opened a debate over whether the most fundamental principles of the American Republic remain will remain in place.
The founders who proposed to "chain the dogs of war" established civilian control over the military as an essential underpinning of the American experiment. Along with their determination to put in place a system of checks and balances, which they constructed to prevent presidents from leading the country into war without properly consulting Congress, Jefferson, Madison and their compatriots believed that giving civilians the means to manage the military was necessary if the nation they imagined was to be free.
Agonizingly aware of the abuses that had been imposed upon the former colonies by a British military accountable only to a distant and dictatorial king, the founders worried about the degeneration of the American experiment into a state of affairs similar to that of the Empire against which they had rebelled.

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