How the U.S. Government uses its media servants to attack real journalism

The following article from civil liberties advocate and reporter Glenn Greenwald can be read in full on his blog, but I have posted certain excerpts that I found most relevant to the larger conversation of subservient journalism by the MSM.

Glenn’s commentary is in response to the way in which intrepid investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill’s most recent article on CIA black sites used for interrogation in Somalia has been both distorted, as well as largely ignored by the MSM. Glenn has a long track-record of calling out “journalists” who are really just PR mouthpieces for the establishment.

And just a quick note on Jeremy Scahill. Anyone not familiar with Mr. Scahill’s work needs to start by reading his pioneering book on the new private military establishment (Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army). I read this book when it first came out in 2007, and it completely changed my understanding of the military industrial complex and the new mercenary contract force. It took a lot of guts for Jeremy to write this book. It is a must-read, and I do not say this about many books.

Now for Glenn’s article:

While the establishment media has been largely ignoring Scahill’s revelations, a few particularly government-pleasing journalists have been dutifully following the CIA’s script in order to undermine the credibility of Scahill’s story.  CNN’s long-time Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr — one of the most reliable DoD stenographers in the nation (she actually announced that the real Abu Ghraib scandal was the unauthorized release of the photographs, not the abuse they depicted) – has been predictably tapped by the CIA to take the lead in this effort.  Earlier this week, Starr filed a truly incredibly report – based exclusively on a “U.S. official” to whom she naturally granted anonymity — that had no purpose other than to refute Scahill’s report even though Starr never once mentioned that report:

Starr pretended that this was a headline-making scoop for CNN — that a CIA official had bravely revealed some sort of unauthorized secret to her: that the CIA ”helps” interrogate a “very small” number of Terrorism suspects in Somalia in a “support” role — when it was plainly nothing more than an effort to undermine Scahill’s report by claiming that the CIA’s role was extremely limited (nothing more than a little help given to the Somalis) and that it was Somalia that controlled, ran and maintained responsibility for the prison.  Not only did Starr never mention the key facts — that this prison is kept secret from the ICRC and imprisons detainees without due process who are rendered from other nations at the behest of the U.S. and that the CIA pays the agents there — but she also helpfully wrote down that “the CIA gets assurances from the [Somali government] that detainees will not be mistreated” and that the real significance of the story is that it “underscores the growing U.S. concern about the rise of terrorist networks in the region.”

In sum, Starr was handed a CIA press release that falsely denied the key elements of Scahill’s story, which she then disguised as an anonymous unauthorized leak that she uncovered.  She slothfully and obediently disseminated CIA claims designed to minimize its role in this prison without lifting a finger to resolve the differences between those denials and the numerous facts Scahill uncovered which proved how extensive the CIA’s control of the prison (and the rendition program that fills it) actually is.

It’s not just lazy but deceitful: uncritically printing anonymous government denials while dressing it up as her own discovery (once Nation representatives complained to CNN, she tacked on this sentence at the end: “Parts of the story initially appeared in the magazine The Nation on Tuesday”).  Whether it was Starr who contacted the CIA to obtain this “story” (unlikely) or the CIA which tapped Starr on the head and directed her to print this and she then dutifully complied (far more likely), this was a joint effort by the U.S. Government and its CNN servant to undermine Scahill and his story while appearing not to do so.

Serving the same purpose was this ABC News report by Luis Martinez, which at least has the virtue of being more honest than Starr’s report:  ABC doesn’t pretend to do anything other than serve as obedient stenographer to the CIA by uncritically writing down and passing on the statements of an anonymous CIA official in denying Scahill’s report.  Leaving aside the slovenly practice of granting anonymity to government officials to do nothing other than issue official government claims — so common a tactic of journalistic malpractice as to not merit comment at this point — the article does nothing other than print the same CIA claims without expending a molecule of energy to determine if the claims are true.

Worse, ABC allows the CIA to depict Scahill’s report as false by uncritically printing the blatant strawmen against which the CIA rails (“CIA Doesn’t Run Secret Prison in Somalia” . . . CIA ”refutes a report that the agency runs a secret prison in that unstable country” . . . “A story published in The Nation said that the CIA was running a secret prison to house and interrogate terror suspects”).  The whole point of Scahill’s article is that while the Somalis exercise nominal control over the prison, that’s merely a “plausible deniability” ruse to allow the U.S. to use it at will, as evidenced by the fact that the CIA pays those agents and is continuously present.  The “denials” uncritically printed by ABC confirm and bolster Scahill’s story, not “refute” it.

Worse still, the ABC report justifies the CIA program by quoting the anonymous CIA official as describing the program as “the logical and prudent thing to do.”  ABC then helpfully adds that “senior U.S. officials have expressed concern that al Shabab may be trying to expand its terror operations beyond Somalia” and that ” U.S. government officials worry that those lawless regions might become a safe haven for al Shabab and other terror groups.”  There is no discussion — zero — of the illegal aspects of maintaining a secret prison, the dangers of allowing unchecked renditions of prisoners to Somalia hidden from international human rights monitoring, or the likely violations of Obama’s own Executive Orders.  Like Starr’s CNN report, this article is nothing more than a CIA Press Release masquerading as an ABC News “news article,” the by-product of a joint effort by the CIA and another establishment news outlet to make Scahill’s report look erroneous, sloppy and irrelevant.

Just consider what happened here.  Scahill uncovered this secret prison because he went to Mogadishu — dangerously unembedded, as very few journalists are willing to do — and spent 9 days there aggressively digging around.  By contrast, Starr published her report by being handed a CIA script which she blindly read from without any other work, and ABC‘s Martinez then did the same.  But it’s CNN and ABC that are considered — by themselves and establishment D.C. mavens — to be the Serious Journalists, while Scahill’s report is heard only on Democracy Now and Al Jazeera.  That’s because “Serious Journalism” in Washington means writing down what government officials tell you to say, and granting them anonymity to ensure they have no accountability.

Through this method, the U.S. Government need not directly attack real journalists.  They simply activate their journalistic servants to do it for them, and those servants then dutifully comply, this ensuring that they will be continue to be chosen as vessels for future official messages.

Pentagon Strategy Prepares For War In Cyberspace

This is a recent article from NPR regarding continued efforts by the Pentagon and the national security state to militarize cyberspace, which has very dangerous implications for internet freedom.

For those who are not familiar with the ongoing efforts by the US government to curve internet freedom, please refer to the Cyber Security Act of 2009. This act was widely seen as unpopular by internet freedom groups, and was reintroduced as the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010. I am not adequately familiar with the legislative process, and am not sure if this latest act (which carries the infamous “internet kill switch”) has been approved into law. I know that it has passed through various committees in the senate and house. If anyone knows what the status of the legislation is, please leave a comment on this post.

The NPR article also caries a short audio clip that is worth listening to. Below is the full text of the article.

The U.S. military can fight on land, in the air, at sea and in space. Now it has a strategy for operations in a new domain: cyberspace.

Under a new plan unveiled Thursday, the Defense Department said it is preparing to treat cyberspace “as an operational domain,” with forces specially organized, trained and equipped to deal with cyberthreats and opportunities.

The strategy presumes that “cyberattacks will be a significant component of any future conflict” and that the United States must be prepared to retaliate, possibly even with military force.

“The United States reserves the right, under the laws of armed conflict, to respond to serious cyberattacks with a proportional and justified military response at the time and place of its choosing,” Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said.

A cyberattack on the United States could prompt a military response under the Pentagon guidelines, however, only if it qualified as “an act of war,” with effects comparable to those brought about under a traditional “kinetic” or physical attack, and it would be up to the president to make that judgment.

“If there is massive damage, massive human losses [or] significant economic damage, it would be in those circumstances that I think the president would consider all the tools that he has — economic, diplomatic and, as a last resort, military,” Lynn said in remarks introducing the new cyberstrategy.

Theft Of 24,000 Files

The Pentagon plan highlighted efforts by foreign governments to penetrate Defense Department networks and steal sensitive data. In one example cited by Lynn, a foreign intelligence service apparently acquired 24,000 files from a Pentagon contractor in March. “A nation state was behind it,” Lynn said, though he would not identify the government.

Lynn said other cyberthefts resulted in the loss of sensitive data concerning “aircraft avionics, surveillance technologies, satellite communications systems and network security protocols.” Normally, Pentagon officials are far less specific in describing their losses from cybertheft.

The Pentagon’s emphasis on cyberthreats and its warning that cyberattacks could prompt military retaliation has prompted some debate within the U.S. government, with some agencies concerned that a result could be a “militarization” of cyberspace. One of the more controversial aspects of the Pentagon strategy was its official designation of cyberspace as a potential war-fighting domain.

Too Much Focus On War?

The White House cybersecurity adviser, Howard Schmidt, is among those who have argued that too much attention on war scenarios diverts attention from more pressing cybersecurity challenges and mischaracterizes current cyber intrusions.

“My father was in a war. My son’s been in a war. I’ve been in a war. And this is not what we’re going through right now,” Schmidt said in a recent interview with NPR.

The Pentagon’s new strategy contrasts with cyber agendas pursued in other U.S. government agencies, where the focus is on such issues as Internet commerce and the exchange of information.

“We have to recognize that cyberspace is predominately a civilian space used predominately for civilian purposes,” said Christopher Painter, the new cyber policy coordinator at the State Department.

Painter, however, sat in the front row as Pentagon officials introduced their cyber strategy in a presentation at the National Defense University. In an interview, Painter said Internet and cybersecurity policies across the U.S. government need to be coordinated, but that communication across agencies is far better now than it was a few years ago.

Improving Coordination

“You had people who were looking at the economic aspects, you had people looking at the security aspects, [and] you had people looking at the Internet freedom aspects. Those communities seldom talked together,” Painter said. “Now that’s changing.”

The State Department and other U.S. agencies will soon introduce their own cyberpolicy plans. Defense officials insist they see no potential conflict with the Pentagon strategy.

“Far from ‘militarizing’ cyberspace, our strategy of securing networks to deny the benefit of an attack will help dissuade military actors from using cyberspace for hostile purposes,” Lynn said. He characterized the Pentagon approach as focused on the improvement of computer defenses, so that an adversary sees less benefit in carrying out an attack.

“If an attack will not have its intended effect, those who wish us harm will have less reason to target us,” Lynn said.

New Osama bin Laden Video

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I think this is absolutely hilarious. This guy is the reason that I have to get felt up at the airport? I like how our government releases these videos as part of its reminder to us of why it needs to spend a trillion dollars a year on maintaining its police grid.

Israeli jets prepare in Iraq to strike Iran

According to Iranian Press TV, Israeli jet fighters have reportedly conducted drills at a military base in Iraq in order to strike targets inside Iran.

A considerable number of Israeli warplanes were seen at al-Asad base in Iraq, reported a source close to prominent Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sader’s group.

The aircraft reportedly included F-15, F-16, F-18, F-22, and KC-10 jet fighters.

The warplanes carried out their week-long exercises at nights, the same source added.

The drills were reportedly aimed at preparing to strike Iran’s air defense systems, disrupt Iran’s radars and attack targets deep inside Iran.

Iraqi officials had not been notified of the exercises, which were conducted in collaboration with the US military.

The United States maintains numerous bases in Iraq, and the Baghdad government is not involved in any of the military deployments taking place there.

Video of President Obama Announcing to the Nation that Osama Bin Laden has been Killed

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President Obama announces to the nation and the world that Osama Bin Laden has been killed in a firefight at his mansion outside Islamabad. Apparently, the US has custody of his body.

Osama Bin Laden is Dead

It is being reported on every single news outlet that “Osama Bin Laden was killed based on actionable intelligence by a US asset,” in a mansion outside Islamabad. According to the President, Bin Laden was “killed in a firefight” at his mansion and that “we have custody of his body.” I’m guessing the JSOC must have been involved. What does this mean? I don’t know. I guess it means that Obama rubbed out Osama.

After 10 years of not being able to produce a body of this guy, we are now supposed to believe that the trillion dollar US military and intelligence establishment just now got around to killing this guy? This is laughable.

If Osama is really dead, he probably died on his dialysis machine. The only real question here is “why are we being told that Osama is dead now?” What is special about today that we should be told this new story about Osama Bin Laden?

I’m not going to pretend that I have an answer to this question. I’m just going to wait, watch and think about it.

Obama authorizes Predator drone strikes in Libya

President Obama has authorized the use of armed Predator drones against Gaddafi forces in Libya.

“The president has said that where we have some unique capabilities, he is willing to use those,” Gates told reporters, adding that the first armed Predator mission had taken place in Libya earlier in the day.

I’m sure that these things are not contributing to the rising oil price either. These are definitely part of the solution to our problems as proletariat, debt slaves.

Wikileaks shows Obama administration trying to topple Syria

Leaked cables from the Washington Post (via Wikileaks) show that the Obama administration is funding opposition groups in Syria attempting to topple the current government.

Meanwhile, Jon Bolton is making the rounds calling for a regime change.

Shocker on both counts…

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Former CIA Analyst and Author of Imperial Hubris, Michael Scheuer on CNN

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I literally started laughing out loud during the last 45 seconds of this interview. The two women hosting this show on CNN seemed utterly flabbergasted that Michael Scheuer would suggest that the US government’s intentions in Libya were not humanitarian in nature. In fact, when he called the US ambassador Susan Rice (whom we have criticized before on this blog), “crazed” for her obsession with escalating the war in Libya, co-host Christine Romans, actually attacked Scheuer by implying that he was bias and speaking as someone who is hostile to this administration.

Then, when Michael Scheuer suggested that now is not the time to wage impromptu wars while our nation is bankrupt, Christine Romans literally started stuttering. She seemed to want to imply that the US, though it is running huge deficits, is not bankrupt, and that its fiscal condition has nothing to do with it’s 700 billion dollar defense budget (not counting the 100′s of billions in supplementals). In fact, she called the war and the deficit, “two separate issues,” to which, Michael Scheuer responded saying “you are just carrying the water for Mr. Obama.”

With all due respect to Christine Romans, is she serious? This is the same woman that recently published the book “Smart is the New Rich: if you can’t afford it, put it down.” Last time I checked, we couldn’t afford $1.7 trillion of the national budget for 2011. Even if we eliminated the entire pentagon defense budget for the next two years we couldn’t be able to cover this gap, and yet Romans wants to tell us that military spending and the budget are “two separate issues?” Jesus…

Bravo Mr. Scheuer. We hope to see you on CNN more often, but we wouldn’t bet on it.

EU approves possible military operation for Libya

Via Ria:

The European Council on Friday approved the decision to mount an EU military operation to support humanitarian efforts in Libya, if asked to do so by the United Nations.

“The EU will, if requested by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), conduct a military operation in…order to support humanitarian assistance in the region,” the council statement read.

“The aim of the operation would be to contribute to the safe movement and evacuation of displaced persons and to support the humanitarian agencies in their activities with specific capabilities,” it said.

EUFOR Libya can only be deployed if the council adopts another decision approving the force’s terms of engagement, the statement added.

The Libyan political crisis, which evolved into military clashes between opponents and supporters of the country’s longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi, began in mid-February. The conflict has already left thousands of people dead and forced many more to flee the country.

UN Security Council Resolution 1973, adopted on March 17, imposed a no-fly zone over Libya and authorized measures to protect civilians from Gaddafi forces, but stopped short of authorizing ground operations in the North African country.