Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Our Lives - Their Deaths : NPR Spins Afghanistan

On Tuesday morning Tom Bowman - embedded with Green Berets (it's special) - proclaims that
"What happened in this village [Azizabad] last summer tightened the rules about the use of air strikes. They should only be used in life or death situations."
Life or death situations: that is a statement that Yossarian would appreciate! Bowman doesn't mention that the lives that count in Afghanistan are US-NATO service members and the throw-aways are any and all others that get in the way of preserving those lives. Robert Fisk summed it up last May after another US air-launched massacre:
"And of course, the reason is quite simple. We live, they die. We don't risk our brave lads on the ground – not for civilians. Not for anything. Fire phosphorus shells into Fallujah. Fire tank shells into Najaf. We know we kill the innocent."
Being embedded with US special forces also tends to constrict and simplify the complexities of Afghanistan into US/them, good-guy/bad guy nonsense. Though he mentions a "tightening of the rules" - Bowman fails to mention the lengths that the US-military went to in trying to cover-up and deny the Azizibad killings - and the subsequent Callan report (critiqued here by HRW) put out by the US military which undercut the premises of "tightening the rules" in the first place.

Bowman's report also features the typical lumping of all insurgent forces under the Taliban name - a distortion that Anand Gopal of the CSM noted in this discussion of insurgent forces in Afghanistan. Bowman has so adopted the language the Green Berets that he states that after the US massacre in Azizibad, US forces pulled back and "allowed the Taliban to regroup and move into the void. Coalition forces call them anti-Afghan forces or AAF." Anti-Afghan forces? According to who? According to what impartial evidence?

Bowman ends his report with this extra shiny assessment of what the US is up to in Afghanistan:
"Fighting among civilians, winning a counterinsurgency takes a particular patience, these soldiers say, and a willingness to make sure your weapons are precise, helping the people, killing only the enemy."
This from a man who last fall reported on the wonderful counterinsurgency efforts of the US during the Vietnam War and then in December gave a glowing report on the use of drone attacks in Afghanistan.


Porter Melmoth said...

And of course on (propagandistic) radio, you don't SEE the effects of what these sinister people are talking about. You know, the young father with no legs, the diarrhea dribbling from the orphan child's unwiped anus, the rubble of homes destroyed by the death-drones. And other stuff.

To NPR listeners, based on what the 'experts' say, Afghanistan surely can't be that bad. Not with us in the driver's seat.

miranda said...

The brainwashing continues. I can't help thinking the vast majority of people enjoy being lied to.

Anonymous said...


When one is in denial about something, one likes being lied to because to hear the truth is very unsettling. In fact, it challenges one's very identity.

Much better to be told lies.

America does not kill babies, children and innocent men and women.

Only "enemies".

"As everyone knows, drones kill only the enemy".

larry, dfh said...

I heard this piece of chicanery. I hadn't realized we had won in Afghanistan, but it must be so, 'cause some embed told me. I just get all choked up when I think about how we liberated the Afghanis from the (cia-created) Taliban, and bolstered the kinder, gentler war-lords. Now that things are better, I feel so reassured.

geoff said...

I appreciate the Yossarian nod, which brings to mind Milo Minderbinder the infamous war profiteer in Catch 22.

Perhaps profiteering is one of the more redeeming aspects of war. Yes, we kill innocents, destroy societies and amplify hatred around the world, but we're not in it for that: we're in it for the money!

Wolfram Alpha indicates that Bechtel, for instance, shares its $27B annual revenue among 42500 employees for an average per capita income of $626K. Now you know there is much loveless, er, loveliness that can be had with that kind of money!

geoff said...

I might add, apropos of Bechtel, that an NPR search of Bechtel produces several hits on the failures of the Boston Big Dig, and then the most recent Iraq related hit was this from 7.30.7 about Bechtel's role in the $44B devoted to Iraqi reconstruction that year. It must be great fun being told to not build things while pretending to build them. Kind of like a Fellini movie.

b!p!f!b! said...

I sure like me Fellini, Gopey, but was not aware of that particular one - appreciate the link & I'm putting 'er in my bunnyflix queue.

Anonymous said...

US-PAKISTAN: CIA Secrecy on Drone Attacks Data Hides Abuses
By Gareth Porter


"managers of the drone attacks programmes have been using the total secrecy surrounding the programme to hide abuses and high civilian casualties."

///end quote

In other words, the CIA is hiding the actual data because it would reveal what a bunch of incompetent quacks they are.

It is all very convenient. By hiding the data, the nitwits get to keep their jobs.

The fact that these folks were so far out in left field on the pre-war Iraqi WMD estimates is no accident.

But it IS an indication of the kind of "geniuses" we have working for us in the CIA.

The reason these people have had to resort to interrogation methods like waterboarding has nothing to do with necessity and certainly nothing to do with knowledge of professional interrogation methods that work.

It has to do with the fact that that the people doing the waterboarding are simply too incompetent/stupid to get information in a professional manner.

Same with the drones. Counterterrorism expert Killcullen says the drones are highly counterproductive. But does the CIA (or Obama) listen to him? No, they listen to the quacks who have a vested interest in saying that the drones are very effective (because it makes them look gopod and presumably gets them raises).

Anonymous said...

All of the efforts of the Obama administration on behalf of the CIA are ALL about protecting the guilty, incompetent quacks like the woman responsible for what Greenwald describes:


The following is from "The Obama Officials Blocking Accountability for Bush Crimes"

by Glenn Greenwald

"From the start, the rendition team suspected that his case was one of mistaken identity. But the C.I.A. officer in charge at Langley-the agency asked that the officer's name be withheld-insisted that Masri be further interrogated. "She just looked in her crystal ball and it said that he was bad," [comment added: quack] a colleague recalls. Masri says that he was chained in a freezing cell with no bed, and given water so putrid that he could smell it across the room. He was threatened and stripped, and could hear other detainees crying all around him. After several weeks, the C.I.A. officer in charge learned that Masri's German passport was not a forgery, as was originally suspected, and that he was not the terror suspect the agency thought he was. (The names were similar.) Even so, the officer in charge refused to release him.
"Masri was released after a hundred and forty-nine days. But the officer in charge was not disciplined; in fact, a former colleague says, "she's been promoted-twice."