If the Shoe Fits…

From Confederate
Yankee
comes the story that an Iraqi journalist named Ali
Fadhil claims U.S. soldiers invaded and shot up his home, then hustled
him off for questioning before inexplicably returning him unharmed.
What’s supposed to make this especially shocking is that he was
working for a British newspaper, the Guardian.

Yes, that would be the same corrosively anti-American left-wing rag
known to some pro-war bloggers as “al-Ghardiyan”, the one that has
called for the assassination of George Bush on its editorial page, and
that cheerfully serves as a megaphone for la Pilger and la Fisk and la
Galloway and every frothing nutcase of a Wahhabist cleric in the
British Isles.

My first thought on reading this was “What’s the big deal here?” I
mean, I’ve read the Guardian; if I were an
American intelligence officer in Baghdad, I’d feel safe in assuming
that anybody working for that particular newspaper was not only having
sloppy sex with the local terrorists every night of the week, but
collecting a bonus from the head office for doing it without a
condom. Confederate Yankee says “This story, as
reported, is shocking and should result in an immediate
investigation”, but to hell with that — if anything, some G2
ought to be congratulated on intelligent target selection.

Alas. On reading further, it looks like the whole story is probably
a put-up job a la Juliana Sgrena. There are no witnesses, no physical
evidence, and (most tellingly) Fahdil’s description of the soldiers’
behavior doesn’t match the way American troops are trained to secure
prisoners. Not that any trifle like the mere lack of evidence is
likely to stop al-Ghardiyan from ranting about “proven American
brutality” until well into the next century!

I wish I could expect that CENTCOM would issue an unapologetic
statement reminding everybody that Iraq is a war zone, and that any
“journalist” believed on information received to be actively
cooperating with terrorists is at exactly the same risk of being
interrogated, jailed, and consequently shot as any other collaborator
with the enemy.

But naah, that won’t happen. If they truly held journalists
responsible for aiding and comforting the enemy, they’d have to shoot
half the American correspondents in Iraq. I’m not yet disgusted
enough with our mainstream media to wish that fate on them. Not quite,
though they’re pushing it.

29 thoughts on “If the Shoe Fits…

  1. this is completely unrelated to this post. instead i’d like to comment on the jarod lanier essay you replied to about “agoras” and “antigoras” or whatever.

    lanier’s essay is without a doubt the worst printed matter i have ever read.

    he makes architecture astronauts look pragmatic. i am totally stupefied by how pointless and nonsensical his work was. i’m very much reminded of the joke paper Alan Sokal of NYU submitted to Social Text to show how stupid writing like that is.

    unbeleivable. does Cato know how pointless that guy’s ideas are?

    there is progress to be made in computing and software development and possibly promising avenues for software, to be sure: dynamic languages, object databases (maybe? i don’t know), and such things. but you can write an essay and concretely state such things rather than just doing so much handwaving that it’s impossible for someone who writes Lisp and Python code for fun to figure out just what in the hell the author (Lanier) is talking about.

    your reply was an admirable attempt at dealing with thousands of words of nothing.

  2. I for one am disgusted enough with them.

    Meanwhile, our media continues expanding their role as the fifth column for America’s self-sworn enemies. Latest example:

    “Three Algerians arrested in Italy over plot targeting US”
    http://www.turkishpress.com/news.asp?id=93048

    Did our media report this? Uh, no. Well, unless you read the Philadelphia Inquirer and made it to page A-6 where the AP report was run under the headline “Italy Charges 3 Algerians”. Did the AP report mention they were targeting the US? No. Did it mention that the evidence against them was acquired via wiretapping surveillance? No.

    “Major Terror Plot Against US Ignored By US Media”
    http://www.aina.org/news/20060106102431.htm

    Insane.

  3. I can’t be bothered to respond in detail to your comments on the Guardian – to be sure, it shows its bias and doesn’t like Bush, but “a megaphone for … every frothing nutcase of a Wahhabist cleric in the British Isles” it ain’t. I’ll just point out that it didn’t “call for the assassination of George Bush on its editorial page”. It was its TV critic, Charlie Brooker, who called for the assassination of Bush. Frankly, a mere call for assassination from Charlie Brooker is high praise: you should hear what he has to say about the Spice Girls or the cast of Big Brother. His site TV Go Home is essential reading here.

  4. This does remind me of academics getting all worked up over DHS agents visiting students trying to get Mao’s Little Red Book. Until it turned out to be a lie, and the student just needed more time to get his homework done. Then he was a victim.

  5. I don’t know to what degree, if at all, this story is true (and how could I prove it one way or the other? That’s why I don’t take the media too seriously). Indeed, some journalists may be collaborating with terrorists. I think the problem is though that once it’s carte blanche on anyone suspected of collaborating with the enemy (which seems like a fairly nebulus concept or term), then it’s a slippery slope to it being carte blanche on anyone who disagrees with the administration or war. That may not happen of course, but it’s something to be mindful of and I wouldn’t be too excited about the prospect of journalists getting hauled off in the night, even if they’re idiots I don’t like.

  6. Hi Eric,

    I’m interested to know which (if any) journalists you consistently think highly of (as opposed to “la Pilger” and “la Fisk” that you mention). Which, if any, “news outlets” do you grade as high quality?

    John.

  7. The Grauniad is certainly a fairly unpleasant newspaper. Their attempt to smear George Orwell, for example, stinks in the nostrils:

    http://www.city-journal.org/html/13_3_sndgs08.html

    And as if trying to smear one of the most painfully decent writers of the age were not bad enough, read to the bottom of the article – to Guardian policy towards Malcolm Muggeridge’s findings about Stalinist Russia (and towards it’s own KGB stooge Richard Gott) to get a full sense of the paper’s moral universe.

    I belive they have actually found something of a sense of shame and finally sacked this man (Dilpazier Aslam a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir) -

    http://news.independent.co.uk/media/article299681.ece

    - who wrote a sneering column about the London bombings (in which, by the way, an employee of their own staff died). Some progress?

  8. What I do find kind of annoying is that the US military does not want journalists even talking to the perpetrators of violence (something which could actually get the soldiers some much needed support when people find out just what kind of criminally insane wackjobs are running the terrorism show over there). How do you hold the government accountable for what it does when there is no independent story of what has happened?
    I am no big fan of the Guardian’s throwing its weight around–but we once had William Randolph Hearst (whom pulled many of the same kinds of bullshit in running HIS paper).
    Oh, and BTW, this is technically a Police Action, not a war.

  9. Two years ago I thought bloggers were crazy to say that what they were doing was journalism.

    I now realize that believing that what most journalists do is much different than what bloggers do is silly. The biggest difference is that the traditional journalists are far less accountable.

  10. Dean: To what extent are bloggers accountable though? I suppose people can write comments on their blogs, such as we are doing, but does that actually make bloggers accountable? They don’t have to change what they write, even if someone proves them wrong. Of course, people can also write letters to newspapers, though far fewer will get published. At the end of the day though, people can stop reading blogs or newspapers (or watching TV or listening to radio), so I think they’re about even on that front. Likewise, to what extent is the government likely to censor either bloggers or journalists? If anything, journalists are more likely to get censored but bloggers can write all sorts of crazy stuff that readers might find offensive.

  11. Caleb: I haven’t thought this all the way out, but I’d expect that bloggers are more accountable simply because there are many more of them accessible to any one person. You can stop reading the ones that you’ve been depending on for your news, and

  12. Whoa, that got cut off. Apparently I need to actually close my closing strong tags. Ack! Here’s the original, with the fixed tag so you can see the rest (probably a good thing I stuck it in the FF clipboard before posting it):

    Caleb: I haven’t thought this all the way out, but I’d expect that bloggers are more accountable simply because there are many more of them accessible to any one person. You can stop reading the ones that you’ve been depending on for your news, and switch to others.

    Whereas most people have a dismally small amount of choice when it comes to newspapers, and only a bit more choice when it comes to TV news. (For all of the flaws in Fox News, it did fill a gap for a lot of people.)

    It’s not just a matter of being able to stop reading/watching/listening to your current news sources; it’s more a matter of being able to find others.

  13. Bryan: The internet offers an almost infinite supply of both traditional news media and bloggers. For instance, I can get online and find a newspaper that’s slanted in any particular way just about, or from probably any nation on earth in any language. There are probably more bloggers out there in sheer numbers, but I bet a lot of them are saying the same thing (I know, a lot of journalists are saying the same thing too). I know also that more extreme views get more of an airing via blogs, but I think the majority of people out there would reject such views just as they would with the traditional media. The difference, I think, is that a blogger can keep on blogging regardless of whether his audience is zero, whereas a newspaper tends to cull its journalists who upset too many people because it has to protect its business. I’d think on that issue, the accountability is about the same.

    You’d probably have to do some fairly sophisticated statistical analyses of who keeps tuning in to traditional media vs blogs, and why such people stay or don’t stay. Perhaps a big part of the attraction for blogs is that people can chime in and offer their say, but that’s possibly to do with people liking the sound of their own voice in a metaphorical sense, rather than any true accountability issues. For example, there are people who regularly come here (myself included) who disagree with each other and esr quite strongly. Will anyone change anyone else? Will esr change his stance on certain issues? Unlikely, yet we keep coming back for the mud slinging anyway. Maybe that’s part of the accountability — that if esr didn’t provide the right conditions for a good mud slinging match, people would stop coming back.

    As a side issue though, the problem with bloggers is that they’re still as dependent upon most news sources for the raw information unless they or someone close to them witnesses an event. (By that I mean that obviously, a small newspaper might not have a guy on the ground in Peru when there’s a mud slide, so it gets that story from someone else, and this is true of bloggers.) If the original news they’re blogging on is inaccurate or just blatant mis-information then they’re just going through the same motions as traditional journalists out there. Likewise, they’re just as much at the mercy of a lack of, or complete absence of, information.

  14. Claiming the Guardian “every frothing nutcase of a Wahhabist cleric in the British Isles” is as ridiculous as the claim that every user of Free Software is a communist. BTW Fisk writes for The Independent not the Guardian…

  15. Claiming the Guardian is a mouthpiece for “every frothing nutcase of a Wahhabist cleric in the British Isles” is as ridiculous as the claim that every user of Free Software is a communist. BTW Fisk writes for The Independent not the Guardian…

  16. RvnPhnx: No, it’s a war. Technically, legally, actually, and in every other sense. And all the laws of war apply.

  17. @Milhouse:
    I refer you to A1S8:11 of the Constitution:

    “[The Congress shall have Power] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal,
    and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;”

    The Authorization to take military action was not an official legal Declaration of War–otherwise it would have been duly noted as such at the time, and a target party (typically accepted to be a legitimate government of another state) would have been named (as has been the custom since ancient times). Note I made usage of the term “state.” This means that whomever one declares war against must be in posession of territory.
    There are detailed legal analysis of this, and other reasons why the authorization was not a declaration of war are available. I would like to have done a more detailed search for the actual text of the autorization bill, but alas the search engine on thomas.loc.gov seems to be experiencing indigestion.
    So, with that I will leave two final thoughts:
    If this really is a war then why does Congress retain the power to demand the return of troops to home soil by passing a bill (something which DOES NOT APPLY in time of war)?
    If this really is a war then why do members of Congress, when pressed about the status of the republic, fall back upon describing it as meerly an authorized military action?

  18. RvnPhnx, try reading more carefully. Congress has the power to declare war, but it’s always been understood that the USA can find itself at war without any declaration. Case law from the quasi-war with France through the Civil War has upheld this principle – the Prize Cases from the Civil War are explicitly on point and clearly establish that the war begins when the shooting starts, not when Congress deigns to take action. On the evening of 11-Sep-01, when the president announced that the attacks of that day had put the USA in a state of war, he was acting within his authority as CinC, and from that moment the USA was at war, without any need for Congress to do anything.

    In any case, the Authorisation that Congress passed a few days later was certainly a declaration of war, and the resolution’s sponsors explictly said so at the time. You seem to be under the strange impression that there is some explicit formula of magic words that a declaration of war must contain. Wars have generally been fought against states, but we’ve also gone to war against, e.g., the Barbary Pirates, who were not states themselves, but acted under the protection of states, much as al Qaeda acted under the protection of the Taliban. We also went to war against the Bolsheviks in Russia, long before we recognised their regime as in any way “legitimate”. Nor did we recognise the Cuban-sponsored plotters in Grenada as that country’s legitimate government when we liberated it from their hands. And, of course, we did not recognise Jefferson Davis’s rebels as the legitimate government of another state, when we went to war against them, and it is crystal clear that that was a war.

    3. Congress always has the power to demand anything it likes, at any time. The president doesn’t always have to comply. If Congress really wants to stop a war, it can cut off funding at any time. And I’ve no idea which members of congress you’re talking about – congress includes a lot of idiots and ignorami who might say any damn thing, but I don’t recall ever hearing one fitting your description.

  19. @Milhouse
    I am making a differentiation between a “state of war” (as we are currently using the term) and a “legal war”.
    I’m not sure where you’re getting the information that ALL (as you seem to make it sound) of the sponsors of the authorization have said that it is a declaration of legal war–it was meerly an authorization of the use of force to enforce old peace terms set out by the UN security council at the end of the first Iraq Police Action.
    You make reference to a “war” against the Barbary Pirates. Congress never declared War to enable that–it was a police action, executed by the executive branch without the need for any other input according to the leaders at the time (and it was carried out in international waters to boot).
    As for your comment about opposing the Bolsheviks in Russia in 1917, it is true that the USA provided support for the capitalist/business backed group (whether they were really interested in democracy is something that I don’t think we will ever know) after the abdication of the throne by Tzar Nicolas II–but that support would hardly qualify as actual warfare.

    On the evening of 11-Sep-01, when the president announced that the attacks of that day had put the USA in a state of war, he was acting within his authority as CinC, and from that moment the USA was at war, without any need for Congress to do anything.

    As stated in the Constitution, only Congress can declare a legal war–no matter whom we are shot at by or are shooting at (all other actions are therefore, by their very solely executive nature, police actions). A Police Action is implicitly an “act of war” authorized by the president without the request of a legal acknowlegement of a “state of war” (merely paying for troops to fight does not make a legal war). As such, the president IS NOT authorized carte blanche authority to do as he sees fit to secure the nation (within the strictures of approprate law)–and business continues as usual in Washington.
    The original idea when the Constitution was written (which some folks around here care about dearly) was to hamper the ability of an unruly executive to provoke fights with other countries by forcing him to go to congress for an actual legal declaration of war. (This also promoted the idea of openly formed alliances between powerful nations, something which the UN was supposed to make obselete.) Those whom are in international waters, on unclaimed or disputed territory, or actually within the boundaries of the USA were the only parties originally considered to be subject to police actions by the military. That is why the Civil War (or the War Between the States, if you’re a Southerner) is often used as an example of when a police action becomes a state of war (in fact Jefferson Davis’ CSA did declare war against the USA–congress did not see it necessary to declare war against itself, so from at least one point of view it was a legal war).
    It is also duly noted that the whole idea of using the Selective Service System to satisfy the military’s need for bodies would meet a rather cool reception amongst the ranks of the founding fathers in cases where the military is executing an action without a Congressional declaration of war (perhaps with the exception of the Civil War). Thankfully it hasn’t gotten to that point in this latest action.

    Congress always has the power to demand anything it likes, at any time. The president doesn’t always have to comply.

    There you are mistaken. The president is not a monarch, and if the congress were to pass an act making it law that troops shall be returned from where-ever they may be then the president and the military would have no choice but to acquiesce (unless the Supreme Court were to step in and issue an injunction). This is not likely to happen, of course–but the option has been left open for a reason.
    Another item worth noting, as it is pertinent to this thread–when at war (as declared by Congress) it is accepted that First Amendment Rights may be somewhat curtailed. Police actions are subject to the standard daily oversight by the press and by non-credentialed civilians that one would expect during peacetime (proper discretion assumed at all times).
    I will note that I agree with you that a “state of war” exists whenever a state or republic is defending itself directly. I will however note that everything else is a mere police action–whatever the politicos may want to claim it as being to the public. Remember that a large part of the whole “state of war” thing has to do with the perception of iminent harm upon the populace–something not horribly likely at this juncture no matter what the folks in Washington may want us to think. As many citizens have said before, get us out of the mess we are in as quickly, completely, and ethically as possible–and by God stop using this whole homeland security thing as an excuse to fund movie plot security at the expense of First Responders and other mechanisms of general emergency preparedness.

  20. Heh. What was that you were just saying about mud-slinging, Caleb? :-P

    I do see what you’re saying. I haven’t decided whether I agree with it or not, though (like I said before, I haven’t thought this all the way through). I have a feeling I probably will, though.

  21. RvnPhnx, none of what you say bears any resemblance to reality. The distinction you draw between a “legal war” and a “state of war” exists only in your mind. USAn law knows no such distinction. “Police action” is also a concept unknown to the law.

    if the congress were to pass an act making it law that troops shall be returned from where-ever they may be then the president and the military would have no choice but to acquiesce

    Utterly untrue. First of all, Congress can’t pass an act without the President’s consent, unless 2/3 of each house insist on it. But even if that happened, the constitution entrusts the conduct of war to the president, not to congress. The president may not be a monarch, but he is equal to congress, and to the judiciary, and not subject to either of them in the conduct of his office. Heard of the separation of powers? That’s what it is. Neither congress nor any court can interfere in areas that are the president’s sole prerogative, such as foreign policy and the conduct of war.

  22. So, because of the actions of some dead criminals, we find ourselves in a war that will never end? And the President, whether this means Dubya or Hillary Clinton, has the legal authority to shoot at anyone who, in their judgement, hurts the war effort? Look, when anarchists say the state is at war with the people, they don’t usually mean it as a recommendation.

  23. “You make reference to a “war” against the Barbary Pirates. Congress never declared War to enable that–it was a police action, executed by the executive branch without the need for any other input according to the leaders at the time ([B]and it was carried out in international waters to boot).[/B]”

    Really?

    “From the Halls of Montezuma To the Shores of Tripoli…”

    My Uncle visited a monument to the Marines in North Africa. It wasn’t underwater. You might want to do a refresher on the battle of Derna.

  24. Bryan: I think it’s probably very open to interpretation. I can see where you’re coming from, and I think you’re right from that angle under certain definitions. To some extent, I’m also just playing devil’s advocate since I don’t know if the issue really interests me that much to need to take a definite stance myself.

    I think mud-slinging/flaming, along with free porn, is one of the cornerstones of the internet. : D

    Joe: That lyric always stuck me as odd. What do the Halls of Montezuma have to do with the US? Cortez was Spanish.

  25. I know this has already been answered, but:

    /* The president is not a monarch, and if the congress were to pass an act making it law that troops shall be returned from where-ever they may be then the president and the military would have no choice but to acquiesce
    */

    The concept of three co-equal branches means that some actions are simply outside the realm of some branches. For instance, can the President issue an executive order forbidding Congress from passing a law? Why not? Because the President is not above Congress. Likewise, for the President to be equal to Congress, Congress cannot be above the President. IOW, the Constitution explicitly says the President (and the President alone) has power to direct troop movements. Congress simply cannot direct that all troops be returned to US soil, because doing so is outside its power.

    /* (unless the Supreme Court were to step in and issue an injunction).
    */

    There are two responses to this:

    (1) Are they three co-equal branches or is it a hierarchy with the President at bottom and the Supreme Court at top?

    (2) And why might the Supreme Court issue an injunction? Because Congress tried to exercize Presidential authority when it is not the President?

  26. hf:

    /* So, because of the actions of some dead criminals, we find ourselves in a war that will never end? And the President, whether this means Dubya or Hillary Clinton, has the legal authority to shoot at anyone who, in their judgement, hurts the war effort? Look, when anarchists say the state is at war with the people, they don’t usually mean it as a recommendation.
    */

    Sorry, but I don’t think that is the argument being used. The most agressive statement I can see is from ESR himself: “I wish I could expect that CENTCOM would issue an unapologetic statement reminding everybody that Iraq is a war zone, and that any ‘journalist’ believed on information received to be actively cooperating with terrorists is at exactly the same risk of being interrogated, jailed, and consequently shot as any other collaborator with the enemy.”

    The qualifications, in case you missed them, are: (1) the military takes the action; (2) the action is within a recognized war zone; (3) the military is not singling out the individual — all potential enemies receive the same treatment. That’s a far cry from being shot simply because the President believes you interfere with the war effort.

    The Prize Cases are interesting reading ( http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0067_0635_ZS.html ):

    “1. Neutrals may question the existence of a blockade, and challenge the legal authority of the party which has undertaken to establish it.

    “2. One belligerent, engaged in actual war, has a right to blockade the ports of the other, and neutrals are bound to respect that right.

    “3. To justify the exercise of this right, and legalize the capture of a neutral vessel for violating it, a state of actual war must exist, and the neutral must have knowledge or notice that it is the intention of one belligerent to blockade the ports of the other. …

    “5. A state of actual war may exist without any formal declaration of it by either party, and this is true of both a civil and a foreign war.”

  27. I agree, RvnPhnx. It appears that some people think that the three branches of government are equal, but “some are more equal than others” (Animal Farm).

  28. The AUMF was a declaration of war, despite the wimpy title. Unfortunately, a bill’s title does not constrain it’s contents – witness all the earmarks buried in unrelated legislation. The key indication of of it’s nature is the language in it saying, roughly: “in accordance to the provisions of the war powers act”.

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