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May 13, 2011
A new version of truthBy Greyhawk
(Or What's the story? Part 4)
From part three:
In today's news:
Today CBS news discovers what we've known all along - important missions are recorded with teensy weensy cameras:
Begging the question: have you seen the footage from the doggy cam?
Of course not. They haven't seen any of it. More accurate statement of CBS policy: No one at CBS or anywhere else outside the US Government has seen the video recorded during the Osama bin Laden raid, however, we're willing to write the phrase "we now know" - followed by the 17th US government version of what happened in the compound that sounds a hellalot better than the first several versions released by the White House - without explaining how we now know anything at all. You will accept that without question.
They've added a video simulation to depict the goings on, to help you better visualize what we now know.
Katie Couric adds an extra element of believability to the whole thing with her question at the end - are you surprised that this super secret stuff has leaked? The right answer is "Katie, nothing has leaked. Until we actually see the video we have no idea whether this new version of the story is true or not. It might be the last one we hear, or we might get a different one tomorrow."
It would be nice to think CBS will replace Couric with someone capable of asking better questions - like "how many more versions of this event that was recorded live from 47 different camera angles do you think we'll get?" - but in reality she, like David Martin, was just reading from a script, one her replacement will follow, too.
Let's jump back to part 2:
What I said on day one about the various conflicting stories might prove to be the last word for the whole thing:All are plausible. But for those and other details, you can pick whichever version you think is likely, but you can't choose which is true.
So let's work with the assumption that this version of the story is true (and for the record, I would very much like it to be true), and that earlier White House versions of the raid with details like "the SEALS killed bin Laden's wife to get to him" and "the SEALs only shot bin Laden's wife in the leg, but we aren't sure she was bin Laden's wife" are not true.
Why are there at least two not true versions of the story from the White House - both released after there was time to debrief the SEAL Team and review the video - at all? "Fog of war" doesn't work as an answer - the op was too small and enough time had passed to eliminate that. (Speaking of which, does the phrase "Officials reviewing those videos are still reconstructing a more accurate version of what happened" in the CBS "news" report give you confidence that you'll eventually get "the real truth"?)
Since the true version is so freaking awesome (and whether it's true or not it is awesome), why wasn't the video of those few seconds (scrubbed of any identifying data and even the actual impacts, if you wanted) released in week one? Why not now?
Version one of the story - the "million dollar mansion with wife as human shield" version in which SEALs killed bin Laden's wife to get at him - came from White House counterterror czar John Brennan. Version two came shortly after: "She "rushed the US assaulter and was shot in the leg, but not killed," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters." That also matched elements of the story from survivors from within the compound as relayed by Pakistani officials - but their version includes a claim that bin Laden was captured alive, dragged downstairs, and then executed. It absolutely doesn't matter what you choose to believe in America - but guess which version will be widely believed in certain segments of the Islamic world - especially after the first White House version has proven to be (ahem) "not true." (Real men of genius: today we salute you, Mr White House Counterterrorism Czar...). Bin Laden's wife is apparently very much alive, by the way. This story says she was shot in the leg. Maybe she'll have more to say later...
It's certainly possible she was shot in the leg and shoved aside, but any specific detail isn't what matters here - nor is the point that releasing the video won't stop batshit crazy conspiracy theorists from believing their batshit crazy conspiracy theories. The point is that the White House maintaining a tight grip on "Obama's football" makes every batshit crazy conspiracy theory plausible. And the new best version (best from my point of view) of the story has no source whatsoever. While the CBS story includes vaguely authoritative statements that "Officials reviewing those videos are still reconstructing a more accurate version of what happened..." and "The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee went to CIA headquarters Thursday to view photos the SEALs took of bin Laden's body," nowhere in the report do they ever state even a vague source for what CBS claims "we now know." Did CBS make the whole thing up?
Elsewhere: Jimbo notes the innernets meme on whether or not the SEAL cams were fed live to the White House. He's right - it's not a significant issue. (See also my comment from part three, above.) Other concerns aside, the key point is that even if the White House wanted a live feed, they'd be looking at (as Jimbo says) "dozens of blurry, shaky feeds from helmet cams all at once." No matter how well planned and rehearsed, you don't know until you go in whether bin Laden's in the bedroom, kitchen, or wherever - so there's no way to predict which video feed would be "the one."
But there's also no excuse for not having that video (those videos) - along with de-briefs - available to the key folks in D.C. the next morning, at the latest. And there's nothing wrong with "no comment" until you knew what had happened. "Be first with the truth" is an old and painful lesson from this war, one the Obama administration failed completely in this case.
More reactions here.
And CNN says the US has interviewed three bin Laden widows: "The youngest of the three widows, 29-year-old Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah of Yemen, was shot in the leg early on May 2 by a small team of U.S. Navy SEALs." (Can that be true? It wasn't in the CBS video sim...) CNN adds they were "'hostile' toward the Americans, according to a senior Pakistani government official with direct knowledge..." etc.
I want to believe the CBS description of the SEAL's actions are true - but these are the folks who brought us "abu Ghraib" and George Bush's "National Guard records" - the first a half truth (see also here and here and here...) and the second a blatant fabrication. Is "yeah - but they fired Rather and Mapes" a good enough 'reason to believe' now?
Annnnnnd damn I keeping noticing more stuff - like "Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, revealed there was a 25 minute blackout during which the live feed from cameras mounted on the helmets of the US special forces was cut off." Okay - but the mission took 40 minutes (we're told...). So there was 15 minutes of live video feed to the White House? If so, disregard Jimbo's point that there was no live video feed to the White House (and all the good reasons there shouldn't be).
Why the hell is this story - certainly one of the best in recent years - so screwed up?
Posted by Greyhawk / May 13, 2011 9:30 AM | Permalink
Disney seeks SEAL Team 6 trademark - which is indeed pathetic. But they won't be able to cash in on the White House side of the bin Laden kill - Warner Brothers has had "Looney Tunes" trademarked for years, (Which is too bad, because that part really ... Read More
The Associated Press with "new details" of the bin Laden raid (that differ from the CBS TV version of what "we now know"). The AP touts "officials briefed on the operation " who "spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a classified operation..." "A... 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.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com