Thursday, October 08, 2009

Creative Assassinations - For NPR's Shapiro It's Elementary

Consider these two screen shots from NPR's website:

From a story on Thursday's Morning Edition:

and from Thursday's All Things Considered

Any grade schooler with a rudimentary understanding of the innocent until proven guilty concept could figure out what is wrong with the titles of these web articles: both refer to TERRORISTS, when what is at issue are detainees of the US government suspected of involvement in terrorism (or guerrilla warfare) who have NEVER faced any semblance of legitimate due process that would justify calling them "terrorists." In fact, someone with just a bit more knowledge of recent US detention policies would suspect that most detainees in the US "war on terror" are probably innocent.

Unfortunately, instead of a grade schooler, NPR's two pieces on US rogue detention are led by "a magna cum laude graduate of Yale," Ari Shapiro. During the Morning Edition piece Shapiro claims that "[d]uring one incident late in the Bush administration, OFFICIALS SAY, a terrorist from Somalia was brought to Afghanistan...." Setting up listeners for his ATC follow-up, Shapiro states, "...the Bush administration used Guantanamo, the United States and Bagram to hold detainees. Because all of those possibilities are problematic, the Obama administration is now thinking more creatively about this issue....and we'll explore those possibilities tonight on All Things Considered.

NPR certainly does explore certain possibilities. Ari's Morning Edition story seems positively innocuous compared to his All Things Considered feature which Melissa Block introduces with the observation that "government lawyers are exploring more creative options." In the piece Shapiro completely embraces the terrorist-until-proven-innocent meme:
  • "...virtually everyone interviewed for this story agreed: the United States would rather not be in the terrorist detention business."
  • "President Obama has said that he will continue - rendition...would continue sending terrorists to foreign countries."
  • "...says the Obama State Department is playing a major role in finding places to put terrorists..."
and makes his report an apologia for (US government approved) assassinations/extrajudicial executions:
"So if the US picks up twenty al-Qaeda members tomorrow and they cannot be held...where can they go? [Ken Anderson voiceover] 'To be perfectly blunt, I don't think they'll pick them up at all.' Ken Anderson of the Hoover Institution has written about these issues. [Anderson] 'I think we've actually allowed the courts to arrange the incentives to kill rather than capture.' Many national security experts interviewed for this story agree. It has become so difficult for the US to detain people that in many instances the US government is killing them instead."
It floored me to transcribe reread this. Shapiro and Anderson are blaming the courts (!) because some have actually upheld the law. Well, given those harsh restrictions, when the US suspects people of involvement in terrorism outside the US, what "creative" options does it have - except to kill them. Though appalling, it's not surprising that these NPR stories have such a mafia ethic; consider the sources that Shapiro assembled for his ATC work:
  1. "Columbia law professor Matthew Waxman handled detainee affairs at the Pentagon UNDER PRESIDENT BUSH."
  2. "CIA SPOKESMAN Paul Gimigliano"
  3. "Cardozo law professor Vijay Padmanabhan was an attorney adviser at the State Department IN THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION."
  4. "John Bellinger, who was legal adviser to State UNDER PRESIDENT BUSH."
  5. "Ken Anderson of the Hoover Institution"
  6. "University of Michigan law professor Monica Hakimi worked at the State Department IN THE LAST ADMINISTRATION."
Now that is some creative journalism.


Anonymous said...

NPR's two pieces on US rogue detention are led by "a magna cum laude graduate of Yale"

There are two types of students at yale (and the rest of the Ivies): genuinely smart ones (which gives the school its reputation) and "legacy" students who are there not because of their intelligence and hard work in high school and beyond, but because of "who there daddy is" (ie, daddy was a Yale grad or otherwise influential, eg in government). Yale is one of the worst of the Ivies when it comes to legacy admissions.

George W. Bush was in the latter category and based on what i have heard from Shapiro over the years, i suspect that so also is Shapiro. Magnu cum laude means very little at schools like yale and harvard where grade inflation has made A stduents a dime a dozen.

WarOnWarOff said...

Heh, the Nobel Committee just bitch-slapped Bush and his water-carriers at NPR.

Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

# "President Obama has said that he will continue - rendition...would continue sending terrorists to foreign countries."

here's a great fuuking idea: Let's give him the Nobel Peace Prize...

Anonymous said...

here's a great fuuking idea: Let's give him the Nobel Peace Prize...

Glenn Greenwald's reaction was precisely the one I had

"When I saw this morning's top New York Times headline -- "Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize" -- I had the same immediate reaction which I'm certain many others had: this was some kind of bizarre Onion gag that got accidentally transposed onto the wrong website"

Actually, I checked the date on my computer to make sure I had not overslept by six months and it was not really April 1.

It is not because of the fact that he has not done that he should not have been given the prize, it is because of what he HAS done that he should never not have been given the prize.

Anonymous said...

"here's a great fuuking idea: Let's give him the Nobel Peace Prize..."

I was especially pleased to hear Yawn(fox news) Williams sputter his way through an analysis of Obama Peace Prize. Must be quite a shock to Williams that most of the world thinks he and his fox masters are reactionary elements in the world.


Anonymous said...

Re: Anon, GG piece.

Me too. I posted it to the NPR chat board.


geoff said...

Thanks, MTW, for pointing to this glaring outrage. It is a high tech lynching of sorts: these "worst of the worst" are guilty because NPR assumes they are, and while NPR doesn't want to kill them, if pesky human rights lawyers get in the way of keeping the murkin people safe, they will support the creative production of their deaths. These are some sick people who could only be incubated in the sort of incestuous enclaves of those ivied towers of Harvard and Yale. Ari Shapiro is apparently pretty and pretty full of himself. I wonder if he has any idea at all what he's talking about or if he just gets a thrill having his voice broadcast in association with known sadists and murdering thugs. It may be just all an elaborate fetish for him.

geoff said...

Not surprisingly, I suppose, Ari Shapiro is an AEI speaker.

This is just laughable:

Not every scoop comes from a midnight meeting in a parking garage. Using real world examples, investigative journalist Ari Shapiro describes how reporters bag great stories. He also explores the impact the changing journalism landscape will have on the future of investigative reporting.

Anonymous said...

Shapiro is just a very sick man.

Anyone with any kind of ethics (journalistic or otherwise) would say "woah there" to such matter of fact talk of murder of people who have never even been charged with a crime

Anonymous said...

I think there's another important issue here. Unless I'm reading the following passage incorrectly, I believe Ari is accusing the Obama administration of deliberately killing people that would otherwise be captured, with virtually no evidence to back it up.* That's a big deal.

Many national security experts interviewed for this story agree that it has become so hard for the U.S. to detain people that in many instances, the U.S. government is killing them instead.

Last month, American forces staged a raid on a car in Somalia. The man inside the car was a suspected terrorist on the FBI's most wanted list. American troops did not seize him. Instead, helicopters fired on the car, and commandos retrieved his body.

* unless you count the equivalent of "Experts say Ari Shapiro has been killing dogs in Washington. Just yesterday a dead dog was found on the street."

Anonymous said...

I think there's another important issue here. Unless I'm reading the following passage incorrectly, I believe Ari is accusing the Obama administration of deliberately killing people that would otherwise be captured, with virtually no evidence to back it up.* That's a big deal."

It may be a big deal, but not because he is accusing Obama of something that is not true.

Obama IS killing people (eg, with drones and jets) and many of them are civilians.

That's a fact that virtually no one (not even Obama) is challenging.

That the Nobel committee would give the Peace prize to someone who has engaged in such behavior is just a very sick joke.

What do you suppose Martin Luther King Jr would have to say about Obama's indiscriminate attacks that have killed innocent men, women and children?

But, hey, at least Obama is honest in saying that he does not deserve the prize, especially when compared to so many of the "transformative" figures who have won it in the past for concrete (in many cases, lifelong) accomplishments in the name of peace and justice.

geoff said...

Jesse Hagopian writes eloquently at Common Dreams today, tying together the threads of youth violence, poor education and war and Obama's role in it thus far. He quotes MLK.

Anonymous said...

Then again, the Nobel committee also gave the prize to Henry Kissinger, so it's not like the Prize actually means anything or anything.

By comparison, even a George W. Bush is deserving.

What gets me about this award more than anything else is that there are so many DESERVING individuals throughout the world who have basically DEDICATED their lives to making life better and more peaceful for others.

But the Nobel committee gives it to someone who, when given the unprecedented opportunity to do so much positive good (in this country and throughout the world), has actually done just the opposite in many cases.

The DAY Obama took office, he could have ended the military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and instead started building schools and hospitals.

But did he take that opportunity?


The day he took office, he could have started a massive (trillion dollar) public works project here at home to rebuild the nation's infrastructure and thereby put millions of unemployed Americans back to work.

but did he do it?


Instead he handed trillions to the banks which disappeared into a huge black hole.

If Obama won't do the right thing without a Nobel prize, is there really any reason to believe that he will do it now that he has one?

I for one don't believe it for a second.

Anonymous said...


That article nails it:

"If Obama wants his national conversation on youth violence to be more than platitudes and media hype, he would do well to revisit these words delivered by fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King, Jr. in his famous “Beyond Vietnam” speech:

We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem."

//edn MLK quote

So far, Obama HAS been ALL about platitudes and media hype.

He gives a great speech but the actions are just not there to back up the words.

Time magazine's Nancy Gibbs also gets it right:

"There comes a time when a President needs to take a real risk — and putting his prestige on the line to win the Olympics for his home town does not remotely count."

"Compare this to Greg Mortenson, nominated for the prize by some members of Congress, who the bookies gave 20-to-1 odds of winning. Son of a missionary, a former army Medic and mountaineer, he has made it his mission to build schools for girls in places where opium dealers and tribal warlords kill people for trying. His Central Asia Institute has built more than 130 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan — a mission which has, along the way, inspired millions of people to view the protection and education of girls as a key to peace and prosperity and progress."

//end quote

Anonymous said...

I just hope getting the Nobel prize does not mean that Obama will now preface his speeches about his decisions (eg, to send more troops to Afghanistan) with "To keep the peace [Prize]..."

Porter Melmoth said...

Yes indeed, prize-giving has a genuine cheapness anymore. Consider Airhead Shapiro's copping the Dan Schorr Prize.

I wonder if Obama will have a Kanye West moment at the reception in Oslo...?

Me? I'll settle for a Dean Martin Roast as the standard for prizegiving any old day.

Joking aside, Nobel recipients can still project powerful messages. The monumental and justified rage in dramatist Harold Pinter's acceptance speech was one of the most beautiful things to behold in eloquence and truth in recent years.

geoff said...

Port, Yeah, Pinter's Speech was a thing of shining glory. At one point he notes:

I should remind you that at the time President Reagan made the following statement: 'The Contras are the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers.'

He was well aware of how desperately murkins need reminding. As I continue to read Dark Alliance, Webb's account of Iran/Contra/crack, the absurdity and downright treasonous nature of Reagan's remark is flabbergasting. The rest of the speech should be required for all HS US history students.

Porter Melmoth said...

I needn't add no more, g'ganger.


Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Nobody here REALLY expects "hePrez" to use the occasion of his Nobel acceptance speech to bite hte hands that curried him and cosseted him and shined him up for the honor, do they?

Obama's ascension to the presidency is like the mutt that wins at Westminster...

And giving him the peace prize was exactlike giving the Academy Award on the bases of a 'treatment' and a 'pitch.', to mix metaphors ever so slightly.