NY Times gets the story

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The newspaper of record of the US elite’s “liberal” wing presents the Iraq War Logs story in its own now-practised style.

Leaked Reports Detail Iran’s Aid for Iraqi Militias“:

Scores of documents made public by WikiLeaks, which has disclosed classified information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, provide a ground-level look — at least as seen by American units in the field and the United States’ military intelligence — at the shadow war between the United States and Iraqi militias backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

During the administration of President George W. Bush, critics charged that the White House had exaggerated Iran’s role to deflect criticism of its handling of the war and build support for a tough policy toward Iran, including the possibility of military action.

But the field reports disclosed by WikiLeaks, which were never intended to be made public, underscore the seriousness with which Iran’s role has been seen by the American military. The political struggle between the United States and Iran to influence events in Iraq still continues as Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has sought to assemble a coalition — that would include the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr — that will allow him to remain in power. But much of the American’s military concern has revolved around Iran’s role in arming and assisting Shiite militias

[…]

The reports make it clear that the lethal contest between Iranian-backed militias and American forces continued after President Obama sought to open a diplomatic dialogue with Iran’s leaders and reaffirmed the agreement between the United States and Iraq to withdraw American troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.

Suppose, though, that the paper had instead concentrated on the revelations of war crimes. I suspect the political consequences would be zilch.

So long as crimes against peace are deemed okay and indeed necessary, reactions of disgust and horror (I haven’t seen any yet) at news of ~70 000 verifiably dead civilians are merely so much eyewash.

The New York Times‘s use of this occasion to vilify Iran – just as it responded to the Afghan War Logs by highlighting the “Pakistan connection” – is at least honest.

According to the Justice Department, “the very determination of whether and in what circumstances the United States’ armed conflict with al-Qaeda might extend beyond the borders of Iraq and Afghanistan is itself a non-justiciable political question”. Within the political branch, Congress, having “authorized the President to use necessary and appropriate force against Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces”, now leaves to the Executive the responsibility of determining what counts “as an organization within the scope of this authorization.”

Princeps legibus solutus est.

Operations of CENTCOM, the steel in the US ship of state according to Obama, could conceivably be extended from the Red Sea to the Taklamakan Desert.

This gets univocal support from all branches of the US elite, from the beast’s beating heart to distal tricksters in the media.

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2 Responses to “NY Times gets the story”

  1. Lucy Says:

    No doubt you’ve already seen this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/oct/23/wikileaks-iraq-data-journalism

  2. Nick Says:

    If any honest person has illusions about the contemporary role of the mass media, this article must surely erase them. The Times is working hand in glove with the government to smear Assange.

    WikiLeaks Founder on the Run, Trailed by Notoriety
    By JOHN F. BURNS and RAVI SOMAIYA
    Published: October 23, 2010

    LONDON — Julian Assange moves like a hunted man. In a noisy Ethiopian restaurant in London’s rundown Paddington district, he pitches his voice barely above a whisper to foil the Western intelligence agencies he fears.

    He demands that his dwindling number of loyalists use expensive encrypted cellphones and swaps his own as other men change shirts. He checks into hotels under false names, dyes his hair, sleeps on sofas and floors, and uses cash instead of credit cards, often borrowed from friends.

    […]

    Now it is not just governments that denounce him: some of his own comrades are abandoning him for what they see as erratic and imperious behavior, and a nearly delusional grandeur unmatched by an awareness that the digital secrets he reveals can have a price in flesh and blood.

    […]

    He is also being investigated in connection with accusations of rape and molestation involving two Swedish women. Mr. Assange has denied the allegations, saying the relations were consensual. But prosecutors in Sweden have yet to formally approve charges or dismiss the case eight weeks after the complaints against Mr. Assange were filed, damaging his quest for a secure base for himself and WikiLeaks. Though he characterizes the claims as “a smear campaign,” the scandal has compounded the pressures of his cloaked life.

    […]

    Effectively, as Mr. Assange pursues his fugitive’s life, his leadership is enforced over the Internet. Even remotely, his style is imperious. In an online exchange with one volunteer, a transcript of which was obtained [from whom?] by The Times, he warned that WikiLeaks would disintegrate without him. “We’ve been in a Unity or Death situation for a few months now,” he said.

    When Herbert Snorrason, a 25-year-old political activist in Iceland, questioned Mr. Assange’s judgment over a number of issues in an online exchange last month, Mr. Assange was uncompromising. “I don’t like your tone,” he said, according to a transcript. “If it continues, you’re out.”

    Mr. Assange cast himself as indispensable. “I am the heart and soul of this organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organizer, financier, and all the rest,” he said. “If you have a problem with me,” he told Mr. Snorrason, using an expletive, he should quit.

    In an interview about the exchange, Mr. Snorrason’s conclusion was stark. “He is not in his right mind,” he said. In London, Mr. Assange was dismissive of all those who have criticized him. “These are not consequential people,” he said.

    “About a dozen” disillusioned volunteers have left recently, said Smari McCarthy, an Icelandic volunteer who has distanced himself in the recent turmoil. In late summer, Mr. Assange suspended Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a German who had been the WikiLeaks spokesman under the pseudonym Daniel Schmitt, accusing him of unspecified “bad behavior.” Many more activists, Mr. McCarthy said, are likely to follow.

    […]

    Mr. Assange’s detractors also accuse him of pursuing a vendetta against the United States. In London, Mr. Assange said America was an increasingly militarized society and a threat to democracy.

    […]

    But now, WikiLeaks has been met with new doubts. Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders have joined the Pentagon in criticizing the organization for risking people’s lives by publishing war logs identifying Afghans working for the Americans or acting as informers.

    […]

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