Saturday, December 30, 2006

NYT: In The Garden of Judith and Miller

Sabrina Tavernise learned nothing from the example of Judith Miller and is bound and determined to have herself crowned the new Judy.

With bylines attached to stories like "U.S. and Iraq Dispute Role of Iranians but Free Them" she will, no doubt, get her wish.

James Glanz is the co-author but anyone who semi-paid attention the Miller dust up is quite aware that gender adds another element to the equaition. It's why the likes of Warren Hogue and Michael Gordon remain cyphers to most people but Judith Miller draws an image of stenographer who will stoop to any low for a 'scoop.'

That was one of the most important lessons about the Miller saga. Another one was that you don't make a fool of yourself after your 'scoop' turns to poop. But Tavernise and Glanz are determined to hang onto their 'scoop' about Iranian 'terrorists' in Iraq.

It blew up twice last week. But like Miller swearing she was "proved f**king right," the two show up in print today with a lot of whispers (and apparently pray no one reads the foreign press).

One of the chief points of nonsense appears to be that the two Iranians may not have been "diplomats." The article can't prove that they're not (doesn't try to, just offers whispers) but the reality is most "diplomats" (even U.S. ones) aren't diplomats. So if you can't back up the whispers, you're just wasting everyone's time.

They pan the official statement from the Iraqi government for fool's gold and note that it's a small slap at Iran -- actually, it's a message to all foreigners (and, yes, that includes the U.S.).
Though the reporters admit that no evidence of wrong doing about the two Iranians was "publicly presented," they're happy to offer you whispers.

Remember, the Green Zone is heavily fortified against reality and skepticism -- as the article demonstrates.

The scoop went poop and, though the Times is loathe to issue corrections (we're still all waiting for the review of Judith Miller's stories that was promised how many years ago?), the smart thing to do would have been to move on. Since it wasn't going to be corrected, pick up a new story to cover. But like Miller at the height of her "I was proved f**king right!" moment, Tavernise and Glanz lack the wisdom to let go.

Both writers have recieved praise here before (Glanz has done a better job charting the contractor stories than anyone at any outlet; Tavernise has the ability -- less and less used -- to put a human face on the war). But they're wrong in print today on the same story they've already covered (this is Glanz' second time, Tavernise's third) and there's really no excuse for it. The way it will work, if this continues, is Glanz will get the same pass the men who co-wrote articles with Miller did and Tavernise will become the lightning rod for the country. That's going to be up to her but with the Miller scandal still fresh in everyone's minds, no one can say she wasn't warned.

Just like the Times wasn't warned (within the paper and outside) that they needed to cover the US military fatalities. October is no longer the deadliest month this year for US troops, December is (and December's not over). By refusing to cover that, they have egg on their face. (And, again, they were warned.) When they did bother to print some fatalities, it was some -- not even all the fatalities announced the day prior by the US military. So Times readers may be confused if and when the paper decides to state the obvious, December was a deadly month for US troops.

As already noted this morning, the month's toll is now up to 109. Yesterday, the US military announced the death of three marines. Search for that in the paper. During Vietnam, the government lied on bodycounts, today it's the paper of record that fudges the bodycount. Not only is December now the deadliest month of 2006 for US troops, it's deadlier than any month in 2005 and you have to drop back to November 2004 to find a month that was more deadly. (And the total count since the start of the illegal war now stands at 2998.)

Today, the US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in a northwestern section of the Iraqi capital Dec. 29." They announced: "One Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division was killed as a result of enemy action Saturday while conducting combat operations in the Al Anbar Province." And they announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in a southwestern section of the Iraqi capital Dec. 29. "

And Iraqis? Reuters reports 5 dead and 8 wounded from a bombing in Tal Afar, 36 dead in the Hurriya section of Baghdad from three car bombs that also left at least 77 wounded, 2 dead and 8 wounded from a car bomb in the Mansour section of Baghdad, 1 dead and 4 wounded from a car bomb in the Saidiya section of Baghdad, 36 people dead and 58 wounded in Kufa from a car bomb, and four corpses discovered in Mahmudiya. Some of the wounded will most likely end up classified as dead in the coming days. But currently, that's 80 Iraqis killed today and four corpses discovered. (AP notes that 32 corpses were discovered in Iraq on Friday.)

I started late this morning because I've been under the weather all week and wanted to sleep in today. Betty did read her latest to me over the phone but the main reason I've moved so slowly today is an e-mail from someone who thinks being at a paper means getting a reply. I actually wrote a piece on that but have decided not to post it (for now). Responding, in the end, struck me as rewarding that sort of behavior that thinks you can throw you paper around and expect to cut ahead of everyone waiting for a reply. Martha, Shirley, Eli, Jess and Ava will be back to helping with the e-mails starting Tuesday. Until then, I'm navigating all accounts by myself so, if you're a member, please continue to be patient about replies.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz
Wally's The Daily Jot:
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen

Margaret Kimberley does not have a new column this week (they're retooling the site) but Carl notes Glen Ford's "Selected Predictions, 2007: Obama, Iraq, Impeachment and the CBC's Future" (Black Agenda Report):

On March 20, 2003, the day the U.S. invasion of Iraq began, I published an article in Black Commentator titled, "They Have Reached Too Far: Bush's Road Leads to Ruin for Himself and his Pirates":
"Bush's plan for world domination was doomed before the burning, blasting, thundering, screaming display. The Pirates have accelerated the processes of their own ruin....
"War is the great and terrible engine of history. Bush and his Pirates hope to employ that engine to harness Time and cheat the laws of political economy, to leapfrog over the contradictions of their parasitical existence into a new epoch of their own imagining.
"Instead, they have lunged into the abyss, from which no one will extricate them, for they will be hated much more than feared.
"In attempting to break humanity's will to resist, the Bush pirates have reached too far."
The entire, fantabulous edifice of U.S. "liberation" of Iraq crumbled beyond even corporate media rehabilitation in 2006 -- and with it, neo-con dreams of Iraq as a U.S. base camp for land and energy grabs throughout South and Central Asia. The Bush men and their comrades-in-defeat among the Democrats -- Barack Obama included -- now wail that their ungrateful Iraqi "allies" are holding up an American exit by bloodily consolidating the power they were never supposed to have achieved under the original American blueprint. As was written is 2003, "no one will extricate" the U.S. from Iraq, with our without a grace period. What’s an imperial aggressor to do?

Common sense says, leave now. But common sense is no match for American Manifest Destiny, and has never figured into Washington's Iraq adventure. For the purpose of predicting what the U.S. will do in 2007, we consult a dead Chinese thinker by the name of Mao, one of whose many sayings went: "All the reputedly powerful reactionaries are merely paper tigers. The reason is that they are divorced from the people."
Certainly, the Americans are "divorced" from the 60 percent of Iraqis who
want them dead. However, American armaments are anything but paper and, if Vietnamese (U.S. carpet bombing) and Iraqi (U.S. levels Fallujah) history is any guide, the American military may lash out like a cornered beast before leaving the scene. Maddened by their failure to defeat the Sunni-based resistance, the Americans now toy with the idea of cleansing "anti-American" Shi'ite cleric Sayyed Muqtada al-Sadr's forces from Baghdad's Sadr City slum -- home to two million people – with the help of the Dawa and Sciri Shi'ite militias. In other words, U.S. strategists would impose a Shi'ite vs. Shi'ite civil war on top of a Shi'ite vs. Sunni civil war! (Not to mention the low-level Kurdish vs. Arab civil war on the periphery of supposedly "pro-American" Kurdistan, in northern Iraq.)
The American tiger may be insane, but Iraqi Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali Husaini Sistani is not. On Christmas weekend Sistani
vetoed American proposals to isolate co-religionist al-Sadr. It was Ayatollah Sistani who ushered in one-man, one-vote elections, against U.S. wishes, by threatening to bring a million Shi’ites into the streets, early in the occupation. He also brokered a cease-fire in al-Sadr’s series of revolts against the Americans. More than two years ago, the British commander in southern Iraq declared that, if Sistani told him to get out of the country, he'd have no choice but to leave.
Only Sistani can save American face -- what is left of it -- by ordering the U.S. out of Iraq. I predict that’s what will happen, sometime in 2007 -- and sooner rather than later.
However, we are not practitioners of mad tiger psychiatry, and therefore cannot predict what the crazed Bush men will do when told the game is up. Like the rest of the world, we shudder to contemplate the depths of imperial delusions -- the demons that burst forth with murderous fury when a superpower is confronted with defeat.

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