Tuesday, May 08, 2007
the plan is to put the rap game in a chokehold:
Yeah, he's my friend, and yeah, he's a neocon, but goddamn is this ever a magnificent piece of journalism.
--Spencer Ackerman
How is this a "magnificent piece of journalism"?

The colonel continues: "Saddam is gone now. We don't build an army on fear now. We heard you were the prince, but the information was wrong. You are one of my brothers." ... Driving away from Camp Honor, Major Norrie beams. "That was a counterterrorism win for us," he said. "A counterterrorism win."

The impression this is supposed to give - that innocent suspects aren't terrorized and tortured in Iraq - runs contrary to reams of evidence uncovered by actual journalists at actual, reputable institutions. This is propaganda, mere "surge is working" fodder for legions of giddy warbloggers looking for an excuse to prolong a pointless and bloody war. Worse, it's meant to hang a halo of righteousness on one of the most despicable and inhuman institutions we've established in Iraq. You might as well have linked to a piece where Lake admires a newly-painted school.

I've been reading you for a while, and your recent plugging of Eli Lake utterly mystifies me. At some point you have to separate your desire to stand by your friends from your responsibility as a journalist.
Blogger Chris | 6:39 AM

Chris,

When have you ever read a piece reported from inside an interrogation chamber? Let alone a piece from inside an interrogation chamber where the interrogation results in someone's exoneration? Furthermore, Eli doesn't write off the prospect of torture -- it's the specter dangled over the Prince's head by Captain Amjed. If Eli was interested in sanitizing the interrogation, he would have left that detail out.

You could read the graf you quoted and take away that the surge is working. Or you could read the story and conclude that Major Norrie is fooling himself, given the intelligence they were after didn't materialize. Eli reported a story -- and a story that's hard to get, furthermore -- in all its complexity. As a journalist, I envy that, and I don't begrudge Eli his perspective.
Blogger spencerackerman | 7:40 AM

When have you ever read a piece reported from inside an interrogation chamber? Let alone a piece from inside an interrogation chamber where the interrogation results in someone's exoneration?

But this is precisely the point. Do you really expect them to start beating prisoners in front of a reporter, much less an already highly sympathetic reporter predisposed to spinning things in as positive a light as possible? The overwhelming majority of interrogations in Iraq are not conducted in the presence of New York Sun reporters, and do not end with a reassuring ode to brotherhood and slow, steady progress in the Global War On Terror. And those interrogations not supervised by the keen eye of Eli Lake tend to look a lot more like this or this or this. Lake's heartwarming little anecdote appears, by all available evidence, to be fantastically unrepresentative of the way the Iraqi and U.S. forces generally treat detainees in Iraq, and it exists to smear a patina of righteousness on a grotesquely immoral operation. And so here we have yet another "magnificent piece of journalism" from America's far right: look at all the Iraqis we haven't tortured, the markets that haven't been bombed, the children we haven't yet killed, the parts of Baghdad that aren't on fire. What a sick, disgusting joke.
Blogger Chris | 11:48 AM

Eli reported a story -- and a story that's hard to get, furthermore...

I seem to recall Judith Miller describing how hard she worked to dig out that aluminum-tubes story. You know, the one that wound up on the Sunday NYT front page, conveniently timed for Cheney and Rice to tout it on the morning TV shows as part of the post-Labor Day "new product rollout."

Incidentally, regarding the Lake story, the part about the Expray test seems odd. Who taught the Iraqis to use spray to detect explosive residue to begin with? I'm guessing there wasn't much call for that during Saddam's era. Was it the same Americans who suddenly inform the Iraqis in this story that the spray is essentially useless?

I mean, a spray that interprets cigarette smoke as TNT residue? Good grief. Although I guess that would explain a lot of the "terrorists" the U.S. has claimed to have detained over the past four years.
Blogger Swopa | 12:50 PM