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May 19, 2009
Imaginary Death SquadsBy Greyhawk
...can result in real death.
Accusation's that U.S. military members assassinated Benazir Bhutto aren't the first such allegations built on the foundation of Seymour Hersh's fable of "Dick Cheney's Death Squads" - and Hersh isn't the only "credible" source providing fodder for world-wide conspiracy theorists. They should be the last. They won't be.
Former prime minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on the orders of the special death squad formed by former US vice-president Dick Cheney, which had already killed the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafique Al Hariri and the army chief of that country.More news from Pakistan:
US journalist Seymour Hersh on Monday contradicted news reports being published in South Asia that quote him as saying a “special death squad” made by former US vice president Dick Cheney had killed Benazir Bhutto. The award-winning journalist described as “complete madness” the reports that the squad headed by General Stanley McChrystal – the new commander of US army in Afghanistan – had also killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafique Al Hariri and a Lebanese army chief. “Vice president Cheney does not have a death squad. I have no idea who killed Mr Hariri or Mrs Bhutto,” Hersh said.Hersh offers this warning about quoting him: “This is another example of blogs going bonkers with misleading and fabricated stories and professional journalists repeating such rumours without doing their job – and that is to verify such rumours.” That's true - for a previous example of professional journalists using Hersh stories without fact checking them see "Abu Ghraib": When Hersh was caught lying on video regarding that story he was quick to walk it back, too: “I actually didn’t quite say what I wanted to say correctly,” Hersh now says. “It wasn’t that inaccurate, but it was misstated. The next thing I know, it was all over the blogs.”
Translation: "I'm a liar, and if you repeat what I say without fact-checking me I'll call you a liar too."
Funny, in a way. But far away from the comforting embrace of home, Seymour's fevered mouth actually will get Americans - and those he inspires to fight them - killed.
Much of the "Dick Cheney's executive assassination ring" story can be traced back to a Hersh speaking event in March:
"Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us."Keith Olbermann was on the story in no time flat:
Hersh‘s bombshell allegations about the assassination ring, the result of reporting for a book he says might be still a year or two away from being published. Hersh is telling MinnPost.com in an email after the event, that the disclosures are, quote, “not something he wanted to dwell about in public.”For added "authority" he called in Newsweek magazine's Howard Fineman to participate in the hyperventilation:
First, we‘ll call in our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine, who‘s book, “The Thirteen American Arguments” has just been released in paperback.CNN ran with the story, too - and "progressive" blogs followed soon after.
Today, CNN interviewed Hersh and former Cheney national security aide John Hannah. Although he expressed regret for revealing the story (calling it a “dumb-dumb”), Hersh stood by his initial statements. “I’m sorry, Wolf, I have a lot of problems with it,” he said about the assassination scheme:Note that here Hersh took his story one step further - claiming the authority to "whack" someone was delegated to troops in the field.HERSH: I know for sure…the idea that we have a unit that goes around, without reporting to Congress… and has authority from the President to go into the country without telling the CIA station chief or the ambassador and whack somebody. … You’ve delegated authority to troops in the field to hit people on the basis of whatever intelligence they think is good.
That was two months ago - time enough for Hersh's remarks to be almost forgotten in America but also to have spread around the world. It should surprise no one then that this week's "news" isn't the first time the conspiracy theory-hungry Middle Eastern media have run with the ball. Here's a translation of an al Manar (Lebanon) television report citing a Russian TV interview with another "investigative journalist" on the topic:
Dick Cheney, the name that always pops up whenever there is talk about a serious crime someplace in the world. Well, Cheney had his own death squad CIA unit which he ran from the white house. By Cheney's orders, the assassinations unit killed former Lebanese minister and Lebanese Forces chief Elie Hobeika on the 24th of January 2002 and former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on the 14th of March 2005, prominent investigative journalist Wayne Madsen said. Madsen who is known for his close ties with active circles in the CIA, was speaking to the Russia Today television when he revealed that the same squad that had assassinated Hobeika in coordination with former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon's office, had also assassinated Hariri.Nice for Hersh that blogs reported the major media coverage of his comments - so that now he can blame them all for not "investigating" what he said. The rest of us can only hope al Manar viewers have more well-developed personal truth filters (aka "bullshit detectors") than Keith Olbermann's; that readers of news in Pakistan can process information with a bit more discretion than Newsweek subscribers. Because while Olbermann fans might be satisfied with the thrill of merely demanding "Truth Commissions" to validate their fantasies, overseas victims of this fraud have other targets closer to home. Here's more of Hersh's original comment:
"Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us.And as he made clear on CNN, authorized to "whack" on their own.
He's used to tossing that sort of stuff out without being questioned. Here's Hersh quoted in 2006 on American troops in Iraq:
If Americans knew the full extent of U.S. criminal conduct, they would receive returning Iraqi veterans as they did Vietnam veterans, Hersh said.Of course, if he wanted to Hersh could point to other "authoritative" sources. Those sources aren't limited to fraudulent "Iraq Veterans Against War" members, either. Here's Iraq vet (and "veterans group" founder) Jon Soltz writing in the Huffington Post on U.S. Army Rangers in Afghanistan:
You don't mistake someone from 10 yards away. But, was it murder or negligence? Was this a deliberate homicide?Soltz assures us he doesn't believe what he's saying - much the same way Hersh assures us he doesn't say what he's saying. Funny how that doesn't stop people from hearing them anyway.
It's become far too easy to make accusations like these, far too easy to casually slander members of the armed forces and far too easy for those doing so to back-pedal, or claim they're blaming the leaders of these troops - that these murderous thugs are as much victims of those leaders as are the corpses they've left in their wake.
It's far too easy to merely shake your head in disgust at the entire state of affairs, shrug and wander away. It's harder to fight back - it always is. The miscalculation made by those who'd continue their attacks time after time after time was to assume veterans wouldn't notice they were being branded, or that they would welcome that "victim" status, or simply choose that easy shrug and walk away.
Posted by Greyhawk / May 19, 2009 9:37 AM | Permalink
Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our daily roundup of information on the War on Terror and other topics - from the MilBlogs and various sources around the world. If you're a blogger, you can join the conversation. If you link to any of these stories, add a ... Read More
Sleep is highly overrated (opined the ex-crankster gangster). Spending 6-7 hours unconscious is a waste of my time, imo. I could get so much more done! Like reading all the blogs that I come across ~ on a daily basis . Posting about all that... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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