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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why we mistrust the media

Example 1: The strange vacation of Obama's daughter. Malia Obama has jaunted off to Oaxaca, Mexico for spring break. She sure picked an odd spot, didn't she? Everyone knows that the drug wars in Mexico have transformed even the "safe" zones into not-so-safe zones.

What's really odd about this tale is the disappearing reportage. Two online journals -- Huffington Post and The Telegraph -- removed their stories about the Mexico trip shortly after they appeared online.

It is fair to presume that these journals pulled the story after being contacted by the White House. If Obama feels that journalists have no business reporting on his daughters -- well, I can sympathize.

The media should keep presidential children in an off-limits zone -- most of the time. But Mexico was a questionable choice of destinations, questionable enough to justify public discussion.

On a related note: LumpenFortean broadcaster George Noory escaped a kidnapping attempt during a recent trip to Mexico. It's a harrowing story. I am convinced that no American politician should allow his or her immediate family members to travel south of the border, except if such a visit is absolutely necessary.

("LumpenFortean." Let's try to get that word into general circulation; it sums up roughly half the programming you see these days on the History Channel and SyFy. I hereby declare the beauteous Lanisha Cole to be the first lumpenFortean superstar.)

Example 2: Osama versus Obama. A few days ago, David Ignatius of the Washington Post informed us that documents recovered from the Bin Laden compound outlined a plot to kill Barack Obama.
The plot to target Obama was probably bluster, since al-Qaeda apparently lacked the weapons to shoot down U.S. aircraft.
Yeah. About that.

The U.S. sold Stinger missiles to the Afghan resistance during the war with the Soviets -- a very dubious decision, even though those missiles turned the tide of the war. When the U.S. went into Afghanistan after 9/11, everyone expected to see Stingers in the skies.

Instead...nothin'. Lots of other problems, yes. But no Stingers.

We then saw a flurry of news stories which alleged that the 2000 Stingers had either been recaptured by the CIA or had been shipped off to places like North Korea. Neither claim is terribly convincing. Why on earth would the Taliban give such prizes away? (I can see them selling some Stingers, but not the entire stock.) In 2005, this little-noticed piece revealed that a number of the Stingers had never, in fact, left Afghanistan, and that the Americans were trying to buy them back.
In late 2001, Pentagon officials acknowledged that some of the 2,000 missiles sent to Afghan fighters during the 1980s might have fallen into the hands of Taliban or Al-Qaeda fighters.

No U.S. aircraft has been downed by a Stinger missile in Afghanistan. But pilots of low-flying U.S. aircraft have reported seeing surface-to-air missiles fired at them -- particular near the southern city of Kandahar. It remains unclear whether those were Stinger missiles or Soviet-built SAM-7 missiles.
So how does David Ignatius know that Al Qaeda has no ability to bring down aircraft?

Then again: How do we know that these recovered documents are real?

We have some reason to mistrust Ignatius. The WP has been the home for a number of spooked-up journalists over the years -- the most famous suspected example being Bob Woodward. (Woodward has always denied the charge.) The Soviets openly accused Chris Wren -- who used to cover Russia for the Post -- of being CIA. (A boyhood friend of Wren's once told me that there was indeed a recruitment approach.)

Is Ignatius a member of Club Spooky? Well, take a look at this passage from his Wikipedia page...
Ignatius's coverage of the CIA has been criticized as being defensive and overly positive. Melvin Goodman, a 42-year CIA veteran, Johns Hopkins professor, and senior fellow at the Center for International Policy has called Ignatius "the mainstream media’s apologist for the Central Intelligence Agency," citing as examples Ignatius's criticism of the Obama administration for investigating the CIA's role in the use of torture in interrogations during the Iraq War, and his charitable defense of the agency's motivations for outsourcing such activities to private contractors. Columnist Glenn Greenwald has levied similar criticism against Ignatius and has dubbed him "the CIA's spokesman at The Washington Post".
Also:
Ignatius’s novels have also been praised for their realism; his first novel, Agents of Innocence, was at one point described by the CIA on its website as "a novel but not fiction."
I think we get the picture. Goodman's piece on Ignatius is particularly revealing.

Example 3: Yet more JFK disinfo. A CIA guy named Brian Latell spews yet more Castro-diddit nonsense.
Latell writes that Oswald, a belligerent Castro supporter, grew frustrated when officials at the Cuban embassy in Mexico City refused to give him a visa to travel to the island, and promised to shoot Kennedy to prove his revolutionary credentials.

“Fidel knew of Oswald’s intentions — and did nothing to deter the act,” the book declares.

Even so, Latell maintains his work is sober and even reserved. “Everything I write is backed up by documents and on-the-record sources,” he told The Miami Herald.
For the truth about Oswald's trip to Mexico, see the expanded paperback edition of John Newman's Oswald and the CIA. For a summary of Newman's conclusions, go here. Yes, of course Cuban intelligence knew something was up...
They'd be pretty god damn stupid not to know about it. Oswald's in their embassy making the threat.

In reality, the CIA knew about it, the FBI knew about it, the Office of Naval Intelligence knew about it, the State Department knew about it, the Mexicans knew about it, the Cubans knew about it, and the Soviets knew about it. The point of Oswald, or an impostor, or both, making a threat to JFK's life was to get that piece of info into U.S. intelligence agency files as a dormant virus that would lie low, not ring any alarm bells, and once the assassination occurs use it as blackmail against those U.S. agencies...

Only someone very high up with the right kind of knowledge of how intelligence agencies work could conceive and carry out such a plan. And John Newman points his finger at the CIA's chief of counterintelligence James Jesus Angleton.
If that seems hard to swallow -- well, read Newman's book. His documentation is solid.

There's a lot more JFK disinfo in the pipeline. Bill O'Reilly -- who, in the pre-Fox days, actually did a piece of decent reportage on the case (believe it or not!) -- is coming out with a book called "Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot." (The book was written "with" Martin Dugard. That's "with," not "by." Honest. Would you be willing to call Bill O'Reilly a liar?) I don't know what O'Reilly's take on the case will be, but I'll be very surprised if his book is anything other than right-wing garbage.
Comments:
Perhaps Obama was trying to show confidence in Mexico as a safe place to vacation, to help Mexico's ailing tourist industry (and tourist-dependent economy) as a diplomatic gesture. I doubt she is there without considerable protection.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
I'm so glad you addressed the WP story on how Osama meant to kill Obama. I love reading these deep backgrounds you provide even if I can't connect the dots myself. I was hoping the absurd "story" would get a lot more play all around. It strikes me as a cheesy campaign tactic menat to both remind people that "Obama killed the mastermind Osama" and also drum up sympathy for poor almost-killed Obama. The tidbit that delighted me the most was how these terrorists wanted to kill Obama because...."Biden would be unprepared and not know what to do and the US would be thrown in crisis." Does this not smack of Obama's 20-something-yr old shirtless beer-bonging campaign crew? Yeah, Biden would be at a complete loss compared to the all-knowing Omessiah.
 
Oh, and regarding keeping presidential (and other politician's children) off limits, yes indeed. Which makes it strange that Michelle enjoyed bantering with the swine David Letterman who spent two nights making sick jokes about Palin's underage daughter when she traveled to NYC with her mom.
 
Ignatius and Woodweird, CIA?

Ignatius wrote Body of Lies, which was one of the better WOT novels.

Both Ig and Wood are embedded in what they research. IMO, they get too close to the story. 'Embed' has a double-entendre, perhaps unintended consequence, but I think they are dupes rather than agents, or whatever.

Ben F
 
Joseph;

Are all comments moderated? Kinda puts a time-pinch on discussion.
 
Anon, I hate moderating comments. Blame the controlled demolition freaks. You should see what they did to this place toward the end of 2006. It got so bad I wanted to stop blogging.

Then came 2008, when there was clearly a paid effort to flood any anti-Obama site with hate-spam. It came every hour of every day, tons of it -- much of it from the same ISP in Chicago.
 
A note to a certain someone, and to the readership in general:

There are some fools out there who simply refuse to read the posted rules for comments.

Hard experience has taught me not to engage the "controlled demolition" freaks in any kind of dialog. They are like religious fundamentalists -- always looking for a way to get a foot in the door. If you disagree with them, they will call you a government agent. They won't even allow you to drop the subject! If you have ever in your life said anything at all negative about their mad movement, they want you to devote the rest of your life to their idiotic conspiracy theory.

These people need psychiatric help.
 
"- much of it from the same ISP in Chicago."

-Rahm-?

Have you considered registration? I know that can be a false security, but it might cut down on your admin. Just sayin...

btw- in case it wasn't apparent, the moderation question was me.

Ben Frankin
 
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