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Other fine folks elsewhere have already noted other problems with this Washington Post piece by Anne E. Kornblut. It is marred by a sort of sneering, bitter undertone that few reporters can approach a Sarah Palin story without revealing - along with a bit of contempt for complete facts that inevitably seems to accompany their results.
But that's to be expected. This is a political campaign, and McCain and Palin are on the other side. Fair enough.
This, on the other hand, disturbs me greatly:
Pvt. 1st Class Palin is being sent to Iraq with the Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division. Palin, 19, will be deployed to northern Iraq and will be primarily tasked with protecting and helping transport the deputy commander of his unit, Lt. Col. Michael W. Smith. His position is one of dismounted infantryman.I suppose it's possible the Army released that bit of information. But unless the rules have changed, that represents an OPSEC violation far exceeding anything I've ever seen. Certainly no milblogger has ever published something that blatant.
Compare that to this excerpt from a New York Times story on Jimmy McCain:
To protect Lance Corporal McCain in case he is again deployed to a war zone, The New York Times is not publishing recent photographs of him and has withheld some details of his service.Some might excuse the difference in detailed reporting by accusing Palin of using Track (and Trig, for that matter) as a campaign prop. (For that argument to be truly effective one must ignore Beau Biden's speech at the Democratic Convention). But Track joined the Army after she was elected Governor and long before McCain picked her as his running mate. Since she is one of three of the candidates with a son in the service, the degree to which we know details about any of them is less a result of the candidates' efforts and more a reflection of reporters' willingness to dig for facts and tell their tales. As I wrote a couple weeks ago,
And I don't want to get into details of MOS/unit/mission here either, but I'm sure that's going to be on the TeeVee before the weekend is out. I'd hope not - likewise with Biden's son - but enterprising reporters is what they is and do what they do and people have a right to know, alluh akbar.
Citing security restrictions, the Army will not say where in Iraq Palin's or Biden's units are being sent. Both units are scheduled to be in Iraq for 12 months.The same story adds this speculation about Palin's deployment:
Palin's unit is believed to be headed to Diyala, among the most dangerous of Iraq's 18 provinces. It extends from the northeastern suburbs of Baghdad to the Iranian border. Diyala has proven to be difficult to control because it is heavily mixed with Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs and Kurds.And offers only this about Biden's
Diyala was the fourth most violent of Iraq's provinces, averaging more than 3.5 attacks each day, according to figures from June. It has not been returned to Iraqi control and probably won't be before next year.
"Republicans always seem to imply that Democrats are somehow unpatriotic or want to be easy on the terrorists," said James Pfiffner, a professor at George Mason University's School of Public Policy. "But I think that Biden's son demonstrates that you can disagree with a policy and still support doing your duty."This isn't about the difference in missions - those who deploy to Iraq do what they do, and all are needed. The difference is in the level of detail provided - and there's a huge difference between "Bill will be a cook in Iraq" and "Bill will be a cook in Iraq working the lunch shift in the DFAC on the northwest corner of FOB (insert name) about 200 meters west of the main gate". A determined reporter can find out a lot of information about a unit's deployment (thousands of troops + tens of thousands of relatives x an infinite number of friends = opportunity). Knowing the risk involved, how much they choose to publish is determined by their own sense of decency balanced against their perception of the public's need to know. If you somehow benefit from knowing exactly where Track Palin will be in Iraq, and exactly what he's doing, then the reporters can declare "mission accomplished". If you need to know exactly where Beau Biden will be they have failed.
Beau Biden, who is Delaware's attorney general, is a captain in the Delaware National Guard and will work as a military lawyer in Iraq.
Update: Mrs G requests I clarify the title to this entry. It's a twist of the WaPo title "Palin Links Iraq to Sept. 11 In Talk to Troops in Alaska". By "links" I mean to imply that the WaPo story tells the al Qaeda goons exactly where they'll be able to "link up" with the Governor's son. The WaPo, on the other hand, uses the same word to imply that his mother is a blithering idiot. Hope this clarifies.
Jonathan Adler, on the Post story:
Most egregiously, there is no indication on the web-version of the story that it was corrected, not even a note at the end of the piece. Whatever one thinks of the Post's reporting here, it should at least acknowledge that it changed the story's text to fix an error. If we bloggers are expected to disclose substantive revisions to our blog posts, shouldn't the MSM be held to the same standard?
I suspect that wherever PFC Palin will be in Iraq, it isn't where reporters have written or speculated he's going to be. It would be interesting to know, just for curiosity sake, how the Secret Service and the military coordinate this sort of thing. I'm sure we won't ever know, and shouldn't, but it would be interesting.
At least we don't have to hear the chickenhawk argument this election cycle. Kind of amazing, really, that 3 of the 4 candidates have children in uniform.Posted by Sally at September 13, 2008 05:39 PM
If I were Track's mother (or father), I would be on the phone ripping that idiot reporter and her, er... paper a new one! I think this reporter could be just plain stupid (as in dumber than a doornail) because she couldn't figure out how it would put not only this young soldier but the rest of his unit in danger ("Mortal danger?" "Is there any other kind?") But if she published such information negligently and maliciously knowing it was an OpSec violation, she should be prosecuted and her punishment s/b to ride along with Track Palin for the duration of his or his unit's deployment. Perhaps then she'll understand that OpSec means Operational SECURITY. I said idiot reporter, and I meant it.Posted by Some Soldier's Mom at September 13, 2008 09:07 PM
but then again, maybe even that wouldn't get through... so maybe we have to tell her it means "SECRET".Posted by Some Soldier's Mom at September 13, 2008 09:08 PM
I first saw this reporting a week ago and was appalled. http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D930QM7O0&show_article=1&catnum=3
I went back and read that link just now, and I could've sworn it was previously more detailed, and mentioned exactly who he would be guarding.
Do you think it's likely he's going to be moved to a different unit within his battalion?Posted by FbL at September 14, 2008 01:14 AM
So why are you reprinting this detailed reporting. You proved you are less concerned than the NY Times.Posted by Roger at September 15, 2008 04:43 AM
Sure - and if we fight terrorists we are as just as bad as terrorists, too.
The news is out there, Roger, thanks to the Ap and the WaPo. If I ignore it it won't go away.Posted by Greyhawk at September 15, 2008 06:40 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(6) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)