The Madness of Adam Yoshida

Amid an avalanche of attacks on antiwar Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, the latest (as of midnight on Tuesday) is one in the comically-named “American Thinker,” a neocon web site for the intellectually challenged, which runs a piece by Adam Yoshida on “The Madness of Ron Paul.” The real irony here is that if anyone is an example of madness run amok it is Señor Yoshida, who wrote the following:

“Can any rational person deny that Michael Moore is a traitor? … Michael Moore should be made an example of. During the Revolutionary War, loyalists were tarred and feathered and sometimes killed. … In short, during virtually every major American war, subversion, sedition, and treason have been harshly dealt with and civil liberties have been curbed. This is the way things ought to be. This is the way that things must be.

“Vietnam was lost both because seditionists were allowed to run free and because the government failed to take proper action to curb them. Today Kent State is memorialized as a great tragedy because a few traitors (or those stupid enough to stand near them) were killed when, in fact, one of the great tragedies of the war was that there were obviously too few Kent States.”

This is what passes for “conservatism” these days: the Madness of Adam Yoshida. 

 “This is the way things ought to be. This is the way that things must be.” Spooky. Scary. And wacko. The man is off his meds — or maybe there aren’t meds powerful enough to counteract that kind of psychosis.

News Media Hypes the “Iran Did It” Line, Ignores Holes in the Story

The work of the news media on this so-called “Iranian terrorist plot” has been one of the most abhorrent displays of irresponsible journalism since the lead up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Much of the time, the press acts simply as a bullhorn for state propaganda, but in this case it hasn’t even maintained that level of recklessness. It’s been much worse this time as journalists and pundits actively tune out important distinctions made initially by US officials, albeit in an obfuscatory and Orwellian fashion.

Just to reiterate some of what I wrote in yesterday’s piece on this, Eric Holder and Robert Mueller were careful in their initial press conference not to directly implicate any high up Iranian officials or any knowledge or coordination with any Iranian government official. When asked directly by reporters about any such direction or complicity on the part of the Iranian government, Holder explicitly said he was not making that accusation. Admittedly, he came close in saying “factions of the Iranian government” were involved, but any honest person listening to the whole statement would emphasize the proviso that he was not accusing the Iranian government.

But then, before any other official statements by any member of the US government was made, these were the kinds of headlines we saw (via Jasmin Ramsey):

ABC News: Iran ‘Directed’ Washington, D.C., Terror Plot, U.S. Says

New York Times: U.S. Accuses Iranians of Plotting to Kill Saudi Envoy

Washington Post: Iran behind alleged terrorist plot, U.S. says

After the media riled the public into a fever pitch believing that the Iranian government attempted to conduct a terrorist plot on American soil, other US officials came out to make statements. These seemed to have lost the provisos Holder was careful to make. Clinton said the administration wants to “pre-empt” any efforts by Iran to deny responsibility. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), and others all came out and said this constitutes an act of war against the United States. Vice President Joe Biden, revealingly, said “This is all about keeping the world united in opposition to the activities of Iran.”

So that’s that. Obfuscation and inflammatory official statements coupled with an irresponsible news media has essentially condemned Iran for orchestrating this “attack.”

But there is another important aspect of this media papering over rather important details about this plot. The “perpetrator,” this Texas resident, used car salesman, Iranian-American bum simply got punked. This would have been difficult for the US government to describe as an act of terrorism without an explosion of some sort and at least some unintended casualties. And as the FBI press release explains, it was the FBI informant who first suggested the assassination be executed with explosives and it was the FBI informant who asked multiple times how Manssor Arbabsiar (the accused) felt about civilian casualties (he initially said it was preferable for only the target to be hurt, but after the introduction of explosive he said unintended targets would be “no big deal”). Again, as I wrote in my piece yesterday, this appears to be the FBI thwarting its own terror plot than any “Iranian plot.”

The media has also done a horrible job of pointing out what is the most glaringly obvious aspect of this scandal: Iran has no discernible interest in coordinating such an act. A number of independent-minded commentators have already delved into this cui bono issue, but suffice it to say that there is no benefit whatsoever to the Iranian government to orchestrate this thing and it is completely out of character given their history. As former CIA agent Robert Baer says, the claim that the Iranian government is responsible is not credible:

I don’t think it’s credible, not the central government, there may be a rogue element behind it. This doesn’t fit their modus operandi at all. It’s completely out of character, they’re much better than this. They wouldn’t be sending money through an American bank, they wouldn’t be going to the cartels in Mexico to do this. It’s just not the way they work.

I’ve followed them for 30 years and they’re much more careful. And they always use a proxy between them and the operation, and in this case they didn’t. I mean it’s the, either they’re shooting themselves in the foot or there’s pieces of the story, I don’t know what they are.

But who does benefit? As I wrote:

These developments come days after the Iranian government proposed – again – to swap low-enriched uranium for fuel rods to use in the Tehran Research Reactor, which produces medical isotopes. The deal, abandoned by the US in 2009 after Iran agreed to it, would safeguard against fears of Iran’s nuclear enrichment being used for military purposes, despite there being no evidence for such fears.

To sweeten the deal, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated that the Iranian government is willing to immediately stop all production of 20-percent enriched uranium if the US agrees to the deal. The US has so far turned down the renewed opportunity to ease tensions and reduce the potential for nuclear proliferation, instead using this FBI sting to push for even harsher measures against Iran.

It seems to me Iran was cooperating on the nuclear issue. In fact, just last week a former Israeli intelligence chief stated publicly that Iran was far from achieving a nuclear weapon and a military strike would not be in Israel’s interest. If we take Biden at his word, a newfangled terror plot certainly helps to isolate Iran (something the US has been working hard at ever since the 1979 revolution).

The problem here is that US military action against Iran is not so unlikely that the news media can have a free pass to amplify the war propaganda. The ominous potentiality of this actually rising to the level of military attacks is not only a flippant afterthought of many in the media, it would be their fault, to a certain extent.


See Jasmin Ramsey for some additional holes in the official story. One important example:

2) Who approached who first?

If Arbabsiar approached the agent first, how did he find them? If the FBI put Arbabsiar under surveillance for suspicious activities and then lured him into direct communication (which could have been the initial point of contact), was the FBI involved in other persuasive activities as well? Considering the loony aspects of this story which even Hillary Clinton has alluded to, is it wrong to question the sanity of Arbabsiar? Is it unfathomable that the FBI could have found a crazy and/or impressionable person who was acting on his own accord but was in some way related to elements of the Iranian government?

Update: A report in the Washington Post by Greg Miller and Julie Tate sheds some light on who Arbabsiar really is. According to House intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.): “It is my belief he was recruited for this particular operation.”

The Post’s Selective Indictment of US Colombia Policy

The Washington Post catches up with reality:

The Obama administration often cites Colombia’s thriving democracy as proof that U.S. assistance, know-how and commitment can turn around a potentially failed state under terrorist siege.

The country’s U.S.-funded counterinsurgency campaign against a Marxist rebel group — and the civilian and military coordination behind it — are viewed as so successful that it has become a model for strategy in Afghanistan.

But new revelations in long-running political scandals under former president Alvaro Uribe, a close U.S. ally throughout his eight-year tenure, have implicated American aid, and possibly U.S. officials, in egregious abuses of power and illegal actions by the Colombian government under the guise of fighting terrorism and drug smuggling.

The article unfortunately (and expectedly) keeps only to one small area of the abuse and illegality that has been occurring in Colombia supported by the US: the illegal spying and surveillance regime that I referenced here almost a month ago.

American cash, equipment and training, supplied to elite units of the Colombian intelligence service over the past decade to help smash cocaine-trafficking rings, were used to carry out spying operations and smear campaigns against Supreme Court justices, Uribe’s political opponents and civil society groups, according to law enforcement documents obtained by The Washington Post and interviews with prosecutors and former Colombian intelligence officials.

No mention of the ongoing atrocities I reported on here. Nothing about how the para-political scandal, where the government was found to have significant and intricate ties to brutal right-wing paramilitaries. Nothing about how the Colombian military that we train and equip and support financially, engaged in perhaps over 1,200 extra-judicial assassinations of innocent civilians in order to make it seem like they were killing lots more leftist guerillas. Nothing about the aerial eradication of drug crops which helps impoverish already poor peasant farmers. But, at least its something, I suppose.

How The War Is Spun: Mass Killings Mean ‘Progress’

That’s the title of Kevin Baron’s piece at Stars and Stripes, which explains how propaganda is wrapped around the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan to make them seem as if they’re on the losing end.

Politico’s Morning Defense shared an email Monday that is pure military public affairs gold. How do you interpret a suicide bombing assassination attempt north of Kabul that killed at least 20 people into an obvious sign the war was going as planned?

An International Security Assistance Force spokesman emailed MD’s Chuck Hoskinson a response claiming the attack was “a resounding failure” because: 1) the target, a provincial governor survived, 2) the Afghan security forces reacted “autonomously” and 3) the attack did not target U.S. forces.

The ISAF spokesman explained those points are important to make because they are “crucial to undermining the Taliban’s attempt to obtain a propaganda victory from their failed attack.”

Judge for yourself who won the victory, propaganda or otherwise. According to The Washington Post, the attack occurred in a relatively secure Parwan province, north of Kabul. A car bomb blew up an entrance to the governor’s compound, five insurgents breached the facility and a two-hour gunfight commenced where five explosions “shook the building.” ISAF reported at least six IEDs in addition to the car bomb were detonated.

In far worse carnage, bombings in at least 17 Iraqi cities on Monday killed more than 60 people in “bloodbath” scenes of scattered human flesh.

Stars and Stripes’ Erik Slavin, in Iraq, reports U.S. servicemembers were not attackedand Iraqi forces had to call for American assistance just once.

U.S. Forces Iraq spokesman Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, in the Pentagon Monday, said the attacks show Iraq remains dangerous but do not threaten the government and the insurgency remains an unpopular shadow of its former self.

This is notable, but of course just barely scratches the surface. I’ve written variously about systematic bias throughout the media, which is particularly potent when it comes to war. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans still develop their opinions about American foreign policy, and these wars in particular, from “news anchors” and pundits on the major networks. This results in systematic misunderstandings about U.S. foreign policy and obviously needs to change.

CNN, Shocked: There Are No US Troops in Haiti!

It wasn’t 15 minutes into the coverage of this afternoon’s massive and certainly disastrous earthquake just 10 miles from Port-au-Prince on CNN, when Wolf Blitzer cut off the weeping Haitian ambassador to the US to go to a CNN staffer who spent another 2-3 minutes blathering about the lack — surprising, apparently — of United States troops on Haitian soil. But not to worry, he assures, Southcom, the US military’s bureaucracy for meddling in the internal affairs of our Latin American neighbors, could wrangle some firepower to help out our Haitian friends in their hour of need. More evidence of our society’s cultural embrace of military solutions to every problem.