Siegel opens the interview stating, "
I'm joined by Ben Venzke, CEO of IntelCenter. It's a counterterrorism contractor. And we're going to hear about other fronts in the war against al-Qaeda and its allies."We are already in a propaganda minefield here. The first problem is the non-information provided about Ben Venzke. He runs IntelCenter that distributes "terrorism" videos of questionable sourcing, and he worked with iDefense before starting his company. At iDefense, Venzke worked closely with military intelligence operative, Jim Melnick, a Rumsfeld propaganda operative. Given his background, he is an untrustworthy "expert" at best. The second issue in this brief opening is Siegel's description of "other fronts in the war against al-Qaeda." The media's use of the language of conventional war (e.g. "other fronts") to describe US operations against a minuscule number of al-Qaeda operatives has to be one of the great propaganda triumphs of the US security/permanent-war state.
If this were the only problem with Siegel's interview, I'd chalk it up to typical NPR laziness, and would not have bothered working on this post. But after its lackluster opening, it becomes truly pathological. Siegel asks a direct question about US involvement in Yemen, and Venzke says, "Well, I can't comment because of our involvement with the government...." To which, Siegel follows up with
"According to one of the biggest disclosures in the WikiLeaks cables, one of the biggest contributions of Yemen's president is not bombing al-Qaeda targets, but saying he is and letting the U.S. bomb al-Qaeda targets. Is there a vigorous local counterterrorism effort in Yemen? Or is it more simply permitting the United States to do what it has to do there?"To do what it has to do there? One has to assume that Siegel is talking about slaughtering 55 human beings - including 14 women and 21 children; after all, that is what the WikiLeak cable is about. To this question Venzke again hides behind secrecy, "That's not something that I could comment on." And Siegel's response? He laughs. I'm not kidding; here's the transcript from NPR:
Siegel: "Can't comment on that. (Soundbite of laughter)"In the finale of this bloodsport of an interview Siegel directs his line of questioning to Somalia. After Venzke explains the supposed terrorism threats posed to the US by Somalia's al-Shabab, Siegel asks,
"And is there any countervailing authority in Somalia that's doing anything there? Or do they really have a dysfunctional state and have the run of the place?"Of course the direct US role [involving a grotesque level of indiscriminate slaughter] in creating this "dysfunctional state" (by pressuring and then assisting a reluctant nation to invade Somalia when it was beginning to stabilize) is never mentioned. And why would it be? - on NPR it was never covered in the first place.