Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dronespeak: Temple-Raston Goes Radical

[cross-posted at NPR Team Check]

Running a series called "Going Radical," NPR claims the mantle of "investigative journalism" as it works to shore up the military and foreign policy interests of the United States. Instead of investigating how - under the rubric of a "war on terrorism" -
NPR throws its resources into supposedly explaining the radicalization of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be Christmas bomber of Flight 253. What this "investigation" dutifully refuses to explore is any detailed assessment of the grim human toll of US foreign policy in Central Asia and the Middle East and why this policy continues to win recruits to extremism and terror. Daring journalism also would seek answers as to why Abdulmutallab was allowed onto a US bound flight even thought the "intelligence community" had it's eye on him, and would want to find out exactly who helped Abdulmutallab get on Flight 253 in the first place. But if you are a believer in the exceptional goodness of US foreign policy and the nobility of the US war on terror, then NPR won't disappoint.

The star of NPR's Going Radical series is Dina Temple-Raston (NPR's resident FBI spokesperson). She hosts three of the features in the series:
  • Her Thursday morning piece is a thing of twisted beauty. In a matter of minutes she is able to conflate anti-Guantanamo, anti-torture activism with terrorist extremism. She notes that ex-GITMO detainee Moazzam Begg spoke at a University College London 2007 "Terror Week" event. First she ties Begg to Abdulmutallab by stating, "People who attended the conference say Begg and Abdulmutallab were sitting next to each other" and concludes that "when Abdulmutallab started meeting people like Moazzam Begg, he was exposed to vitriolic and very anti-American views." What is it with these people who've been kidnapped and tortured by the US being so vitriolic and anti-American? - sheesh!
  • On Thursday afternoon Temple-Raston is back to highlight a character who features in all three of her reports, a Hitchenseque fellow named Shiraz Maher who used to recruit for Islamic extremism, but is now firmly in the camp of rationalizing Western exceptionalism, state repression and aggressive Zionism. His writing can be sampled in Standpoint Magazine where he takes a stand on Israel's annexation wall:
    "We tend to hear only about Israel's because of the news coverage and hippy activism it attracts. No other security fence has attracted quite as much attention and theirs - that despite Israel suffering a torrent of terrorist attacks from 2000-2003....where is the ‘fairness' and ‘consistency' that Islamists and their leftist cheerleaders continually complain about?"
    It is telling that there actually is another former recruiter with a similar story to Mr. Maher's. His name is Maajid Nawaz, but instead of excusing the "western" security state or Israeli aggression - he brings a far more compassionate, nuanced approach to the lessons he's learned.
  • Finally on Friday afternoon Temple-Raston - like our President - plays the role of judge, jury and executioner. Remember Anwar al-Awlaki, the US citizen targeted for assassination by the US government (see post below)? Speaking of al-Awlaki as if she were discussing him receiving a traffic ticket, Temple-Raston explains that
    "The U.S. has been trying to bring him in for questioning for years. After the Fort Hood attack, it even launched a missile strike on one of his houses in Yemen, but he survived the attack."
    Hey, but he deserves extrajudicial execution because Robert Siegel opens the piece with the damning evidence that
    "He's admitted to knowing Abdulmutallab. But their relationship, according to intelligence officials, goes far deeper than that. In fact, NPR has learned that al-Awlaki may have been in charge of a small terrorist cell and that Abdulmutallab may have been his first al-Qaida recruit."
    Still not convinced? Temple-Raston lays it on:
    "He is the same radical imam who was implicated in the Fort Hood shootings last year. He was in email contact with the suspected shooter, Major Nidal Hasan. And, apparently, he blessed that attack and then called Hasan a hero"
    "Al-Awlaki has always been a propagandist. If he actually mentored Abdulmutallab while he allegedly trained to bomb a U.S. airliner, that would mean al-Awlaki had moved into an operational role in the organization."
    Still not ready to lynch? Nothing like a huge dose of fear to nail the case: "What's more, officials tell NPR that they believe al-Awlaki was put in charge of more people than just Abdulmutallab. They believe he trained an entire cell of English-speaking recruits. Apparently, Abdulmutallab named names and provided locations to authorities. Law enforcement officials are looking for those young men now. Officials say they don't believe the young men are in the U.S."
A final note about Temple-Raston's choices of "experts" in these pieces. As mentioned she leans heavily on Shiraz Maher, and she also features a man of similar politics in the reports - Douglas Murray, director of the Centre for Social Cohesion which focuses only on Islamic radicalization - not Euro-American radical militarism. Interestingly, the other former-recruiter I mentioned above Maajid Nawaz - also runs a center against radicalism that is well worth exploring and highlighting - unless your main interest is in promoting the US "war on terror."

1 comment:

Grace said...

I hoped this blatant propaganda would be called out and you have