How tired am I?
I asked Isaiah to take the night off because I didn't want to post a comic, I wanted to do a quick "Herjia" and grab something to eat and get the hell away from the computer and the legal pad and everything connected to writing. I already gave at Third and then some.
But I made the mistake of returning calls.
One is a friend with The New Yorker.
Dexter Filkins has a colleague who pleaded his case.
Was I going to hold Falluja against Dexter forever?
And didn't I realize that some of Dexter's stories would have been better were it not for the pressure from the paper (the New York Times)?
And I'm tired, I'm real tired. Third was an all nighter that began Saturday night and I haven't been to sleep yet since Saturday morning.
Didn't I get, I was asked, the Dexter was just trying to do his job?
The wrong thing to say to me because Dexter's garbage was useless and prolonged the illegal war. In that, he wasn't the only one responsible. I've never claimed that Dexter alone kept the US military in Iraq. I've usually typed something along the lines of "If Judith Miller's reporting helped get troops over into Iraq, then it was the people like Dexter Filkins and John F. Burns that kept them there." People like.
But my problem with Dexter isn't how he treated stringers (though I do know all about that and I do know about his affairs and some of the leaking to the Guild, he fingered the wrong person for).
My problem with Dexter is that award winning piece of writing about the battle of Falluja. We were on day three of this site when that piece went up.
And I knew it was vetted by the military censors.
But I also knew that, per the paper's policy, it wasn't supposed to be.
I know so much more than I ever toss up here.
And my problem with the line of argument that goes: Dexter was just trying to do his job?
The people in Falluja were just trying to live their lives.
That's all they were doing.
Civilians were still in Falluja.
Dexter pretended otherwise, but they were.
Last week saw a two-day conference in Brussells. The un-embedded US reporter in Iraq for many years was Dahr Jamail and he was at the confernece last week and reported on it for Truthout.
"Within a few days of this, a lawless atmosphere developed within my unit,” Ross Caputi, a former marine who took part in the brutal November 2004 siege of Fallujah told the Iraq Commission. "There was a lot of looting going on. I saw people searching the pockets of the dead resistance fighters for money. Some people were mutilating corpses."
[. . .]
"I was very misinformed and uninformed about the goals of our mission, about who our enemy was and about the danger that we posed to civilians," Caputi said of the context for his actions. "My command told us that all civilians had left Fallujah and that the only people who remained in the city were combatants. This was not true, though. The Red Cross estimated that up to 50,000 civilians remained trapped in the city. But nobody in my unit knew that."
Dexter reported on that. But he white-washed it. We can blame it on military censors, we can blame some of it on the paper, but at some point Dexter has to take responsibility.
It's been ten years and he still hasn't.
I predicted in 2005, when he won the award for his bad 2004 report, that the day would come when he would be stripped of that award. I've written that it may be long after I'm dead, after he's dead, but the day will come because he turned a slaughter into a video game.
Now if I'd done and I was Dexy, with the war now over, I'd be a smart whore, I'd be smart enough to save my own damn ass by writing some self-serving piece about my difficulties reporting and how I was haunted by the dead and wish, looking back, that I'd been an independent reporter, a freelancer even, so that I could have written the truth and had it published.
I'd be doing everything I could to mitigate the day of public judgment so that people would say, "Sure, the report's pretty much false and one-sided but he was bothered by it, he felt guilty about it and he was working for the paper that helped sell the war so . . ."
But I'm not an idiot when it comes to self-preservation.
(I'm also not a whore so I never would have put myself in that position.)
I was told that I don't really know Dexy.
I don't claim to. I've pretty much just written here about his reporting and about his public statements.
I know his sexual kinks, for example, but have never written a word about them.
My problems with Dexter have nothing to do with the fact that he likes _______ and _____.
They have everything to do with the fact that he was present, supposedly as a reporter, when a slaughter took place but that was never reflected in his bad 'report.'
Now maybe somewhere in his long article for The New Yorker (which went up during the last hour we were working on Third judging by the time on the voice mail), he addresses that.
I doubt it but I've only read eight-and-a-half pages of the twelve page article.
Dexter was bothered by my comments last week.
I'm not surprised.
That's not the first time we've bothered him. I'll never cease, for example, to laugh at the NYT e-mail that came out of the San Francisco office a few years back.
Reider Visser made a fool of himself and I called him out for it. (I'd called him out for other things -- like his analysis -- before that.) And some people are surprised that I would link to him now.
Why wouldn't I?
There are very few things you can do that can get you on my s**t list.
Equally true, as I noted, after his very public embarrassment, he hasn't crawled away. He's making it about the work, or trying to.
And I can respect and applaud that. I honestly hope Reider Visser finds happiness and a larger following.
There's nothing more inspiring than watching someone dust themselves off and get back in the mix.
Also equally true, Reider Visser never witnessed War Crimes and then looked the other way.
I don't expect Dexter to call out the War Crimes he saw. I don't even expect him to acknowledge War Crimes took place. But if I'm going to take him seriously today, I'm going to need for him to acknowledge that civilians were in Falluja and his reporting did not reflect that.
His reporting also did not acknowledge the use of White Phosphorus -- though we all now know it was used.
These aren't minor points to me.
Visser is someone I could rip apart for his analysis -- which has often been wrong and leaned towards pro-Nouri. But everyday back then I always hoped that he would get it at some point.
I've never had that kind of hope for Dexter.
And the dead of Falluja is the reason way.
Actually, it's not. They're dead.
They died horrible and horrifying deaths.
But they're gone.
It's the one who were wounded there or who had loved ones wounded or killed there that suffer today.
There pain is very real and Dexter has never acknowledged it.
It's not a minor point, I'm sorry.
The eight pages are fairly well written. His intro should have been redone, it's a nightmare, but otherwise the writing is better than okay.
I was told I had to love the facts because I've noted Nouri's terrorism and how he took part in Iranian attacks on US facilities while he lived in exile and I'd noted how the Bully Boy Bush White House turned a blind eye to it in order to install Nouri in 2006 and that's in there!
Why would I be thrilled?
I've long noted that. I don't need to Dexy to back me up.
Reading the pages that I did*, it's worth noting that he doesn't explain Nouri was chosen due to his paranoia. Dexy knows that. That's not in the article.
The Erbil Agreement doesn't appear to be in the article. (Maybe it swoops in on the last pages?)
There are many things he gets wrong.
There's a section, also, where he writes a sentence that really requires another sentence to follow it and that doesn't take place.
If this piece were written by Patrick Cockburn, I was told, I'd be linking to it and praising it.
Which had me replying, "Have you not read my criticism of Cockburn?"
In fact, Dexter ahead of Cockburn in that Dexter isn't anti-Sunni. (He's not anti anything. On that his hands are clean. His reporting -- even for the paper -- was never about ridiculing or hating a group. He lacked, for example, Sabrina Tavernise's grasp of humanity but he also lacked Patrick Cockburn's hatred of Sunnis.)
I'm tired. If this was a mission Dexy dispatched a friend on, he got a link. (And I stated I would consider including a paragraph or two in a snapshot this week. I would consider. Not that I would, that I would read the piece and then make my decision.)
But whatever I do doesn't erase what Dexter did.
And if he was a smart person, he'd grasp that I may be part of a minor chorus currently (as I've noted, the loudest singers in this choir are his fellow reporters -- nothing I've written here compares to comments by Dexy's peers who covered Iraq) but that it's going to grow and there will be calls for his prize to be pulled. If he was a smart person, he'd be getting ahead of that by addressing that his report was one-sided and that a slaughter took place.
Smart isn't getting a friend to call me and advocate on your behalf.
At best, you might silence me. (That's not happening.) But that wouldn't remove any of the issues already out there.
If he was the victim of his employer or if he was just unsure of how to write it or if he was gripped by embed fever or whatever else excuse he might offer, he needs to do it now.
I like Bob Kerry a lot. In fact, I left out a British interview he did recently because I love Bob. I agreed with every word he said but I didn't want to do anything to expand the interview's reach because I didn't want The Cult of St. Barack attacking Bob.
Bob Kerry took part in somethings during Vietnam. You can Google it, if you don't know what I'm talking about. He took accountability for it -- some don't feel he did it enough.
I think he did. I think he took accountability.
I bring this up because I didn't need to see Bob beating his chest and pulling out his hair. I just needed him to acknowledge what he did and that's what I think Dexter needs to do.
It can't be undone. What Bob did can't be undone. But you can acknowledge it.
And if Dexter has any ethics or even just a sense of self-survival, he'd address what took place.
At any rate, he got his link in this entry.
["Reading the pages that I did*" -- that's not an attempt to get in a jab. I'm tired and I'm hungry and I don't want to be on the computer.]
I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
That shell shock love away
-- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name
The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4489.
On this week's Law and Disorder Radio, an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed include USAID and Cuba with guest Jane Franklin and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act with James Brittain.
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