Wednesday, May 12, 2010

When raiding, raid wisely (or end up the New York Times)

Violence continues in Iraq. On Morning Edition (NPR), during hourly headlines, Peter Kenyon reported from Baghdad noting a corpse was used to lure a crowd for a bombing which claimed 3 lives and leaving twenty-three people injured. Monday's violence, which claimed at least 119 lives, continues to be questioned. Anne Barker (Australia's ABC) reports that "the eputy interior minister admits the government's own security regime was at fault." In Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country's president, Press TV reports decided to offer advice to the US, "You'd better listen to the Iranian nations' advice: Abandon your stubbornness; live with other nations based on justice and friendship, like human beings; leave the region; leave Afghanistan; leave Iraq; withdraw to your borders and mind your own business."

Meanwhile the overly praised Anthony Shadid continues to be an embarrassment for the New York Times. His gung-ho background may have wowed Thomas E. Ricks but it's really not about journalism (nor is Ricks these days). Lacking any real journalistic grounding, Shadid breathlessly pants in print this morning about the end of de-Ba'athification. It takes an idiot and, in Shadid, the village that is the New York Times has found their own.

An agreement! Shadid hollers. An agreement!

Part overgrown puppy, part eternally lost, he comes off like Earl Holliman in The Rainmaker. He wants you to know that an agreement has been reached to stop de-Ba'athification.

What an idiot and what a fool.

The whole point of the de-Ba'athification attacks by Ahmed and his boy-pal Ali was to weaken Iraqiya. They disqualified name candidates before the elections. They continued to chip away after. With the National Alliance and State Of Law forming a coalition that puts Nouri's slate close to forming a government (Ahmed and Ali are State Of Law), there's no need to continue to chip away at Iraqiya's win. By refusing to follow the Constitution, Nouri's rendered Iraqiya useless.

It's a point Jalal Talabani and Chris Hill (intentionally?) miss. But there's no excuse for Anthony Shadid missing it.

The Justice and Accountability Commission is moving on. That was clear on NPR's Morning Edition yesterday. From Peter Kenyon's report:

Peter Kenyon: But Lami confirms that the two cases already announced are the only active ones involving parliamentary candidates. When asked where the commission is turning its attention these days, Lami returns to two favorite targets - the powerful Ministries of Interior and Defense.

Ali al-Lami: Every day we are working to purge the state's security institutions of unsuitable people in the Defense and Interior Ministries.

It's a public detail. One aired on NPR yesterday morning -- YESTERDAY morning. But it's one absent in Anthony Shadid's piece. An overrated, too often applauded and stroked writer didn't just self-embarrass or embarrass the paper as a reporter today. No, when NYT raided the Washington Post to grab onto Anthony (and his wife), they agreed to put Anthony in charge in Iraq. So the first question should be: Why is he grabbing bylines? That's not the behavior of a bureau chief. The second question should be: Why the hell doesn't he know what other outlets already reported this week?

Or does the New York Times enjoy being mocked and laughed at by every other news outlet? If the answer is "Yes!" then that would certainly explain why they set their sights on Shadid in the first place.

The key to a successful raid, pay attention Bill Keller, is due diligence. Meaning? Shadid is a blow hard. A few cursory glances at his writing would have made that clear. Everything's inflated and hyper-zoomed in on and, at it's best, it just manages to touch on reality (it's more feature writing for magazines than it is actual reporting). That's at its best. The nuts and bolts, the day to day? No handle on it. You don't put someone like that in charge. It's like deciding that because someone's an X-treme sports (or 'sports') star they can also be a major league baseball coach (the paper loves their sports analogy). The paper is only now getting what a mistake they've made. They'll muddle on through because a number of reporters already in Baghdad don't need training -- in fact, other than to demoralize Sam Dagher, Thom Shanker and Steven Lee Meyers, you have to wonder why Shadid was put in charge and not one of them? But when it's time to bring in new reporters? Then they're going to have a serious problem.

How serious?

Read the following from Shadid's 'report' and spot the glaring error:

De-Baathification is one of those issues in Iraq -- like Saddam Hussein, the Americans and Mr. Chalabi himself -- that prompt decided opinions. It traces its origins from the earliest days of the American occupation, when L. Paul Bremer III, the American administrator of Iraq, outlawed the party in May 2003, and then, in November of that year, established a commission to oversee a process of barring all but the party's junior members from public life.
The Accountability and Justice Commission, while on shaky legal grounds, has served as its successor, even though a substantial portion of Iraq’s political class deems it little more than a tool to eliminate secular and Sunni voices.

It's the Justice and Accountability Commission, yes. For some stupid reason (xenophobia?), the Times thinks they can put (a foreign language) in alphabetical order. But that's not what the error is. Blathering on about 2003 and forgetting the Iraq benchmarks? Signed off on by the White House and Nouri? If you're talking about de-Ba'athification, you need to note that the benchmarks means it ends. From the Council on Foreign Relation's "What are Iraq's Benchmarks?" by Greg Bruno:

Reversal of de-Baathification laws. The Iraqi parliament passed the Justice and Accountability Law on January 12, 2008, clearing the way for an estimated thirty-thousand low-ranking ex-Baathists to return to public life. The law also allowed some party members to collect pensions. But some Sunnis argue the law has made matters worse for them by opening the door to federal prosecution, barring top-ranking officials from regaining jobs, and restricting former Saddam security forces from reintegration. The drive to rescind de-Baathification laws was part of a larger effort to make constitutional concessions to minority groups like Sunni Arabs.

It's called the basics and, no surprise, Mr. Flashy can't find them. That's the problem with the flashy.

And the Senate Democratic Policy Committee continues to highlight the economy and finances in a number of videos this month. Click here to be taken to the DPC video page. I don't believe we've noted Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado before so we'll note him today.

Yesterday on Uprising Radio, law professor Francis A. Boyle was a guest weighing in on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.

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