Sunday, March 22, 2009


Until the next frontpage story delivered by anonymous sources.

News from the front in the 'war on terror' always follows predator state approved practice, particularly anything having to do with ... Predator drones. The news is often contradictory and, even when taken from one daily newspaper, defying of logical narrative. It fits whatever form the storyteller wishes it to take, furnishing a framework of propaganda for the confusion of all.

About two weeks ago the Los Angeles Times published a frontpage story with the following theme: "US efforts to identify and thwart the growing threat posed by Pakistani extremists who enjoy easy access to the United States -- and already have a significant presence here -- are being undermined by the government of Pakistan, according to current and former US and Western counterterrorism officials."

Terrorists were one airplane ticket away from striking in the United States, it was claimed. (See the DD write-up here.

That story, written by reporter Josh Meyer, featured virtually no recognizable sourcing. One actual named source, Juan Carlos Zarate, was a national security flunky from the Bush administration.

Today's LA Times article was entitled "US airstrikes stagger al Qaeda" and it was about how the use of Predator drone pinprick assassinations have -- allegedly -- crippled the organization.

It featured ZERO named sources. All the quote on the success and extent of the Predator drone campaign was furnished by alleged insiders granted anonymity for the piece. Written by Greg Miller, the story had only one named 'expert' in it: Juan Carlos Zarate, the Bush administration natsec functionary featured in the last LA Times story on what was going on in the 'war on terror.'

"You can imagine a horizon in which al Qaeda proper no longer exists," Zarate told the LATimes.

Two weeks earlier, Zarate had told the newspaper: "[There] are [Pakistani Lakshar-e-Taiba']-tied individuals in this country [the United States] we need to be worried about."

In a manner of speaking, Zarate is a spouter of colorful rumor and whatever it is you would like to hear, really, in reference to your day's story on terrorism. On another level, he was furthering the Bush administration line that (1), the Obama adminstration was not keeping us safe -- there were Lakshar-e-Taiba terrorists in our country -- and; (2), that the increased pace of Predator drone stikes, started by the Bush administration, was smashing al Qaeda.

DD invites readers to review Zarate's bio.

At a famous think-tank here, it's a standard piece of Center for Security and International Studies sclerosis, crediting one laugh-out loud book no one not plied with cash money would read voluntarily. It's entitled Forging Democracy: A Comparative Study of the Effects of U.S. Foreign Policy on Central American Democratization. Yeah, they love the US in Central America for forging democracy.

In addition, there are standard paragraphs with the aim of getting you to think that Zarate, while in the Bush administration, was fighting terror and upholding freedom. Note this: "Mr. Zarate also led the U.S. government’s global hunt for Saddam Hussein’s assets, resulting in the return of over $3 billion of Iraqi assets." Yes, and this transpired in 2004 when, as everyone knows, the US was simply the most widely appreciated and beneficent of occupying powers in Iraq.

In this case, see the CSIS as a place for tools from the previous administration to be stored until, perhaps, they can get back into a position of power.

Getting back to today's Times piece on Predator drone attacks, one can believe all the anonymous quote. Maybe it is all true.

Or, perhaps one could believe some of it but be unable to tell those pieces which are reliable and those which are reaching or rubbish.

Or one might consider it an effort to plant stuff on the front page of a big newspaper, material aimed at offsetting the significant impression that the USA is accomplishing very little with its Predator strikes other than killing people in the wrong place at the wrong time and stirring up a potential future hornet's nest of resentment.

"[Militants] have begun turning violently on one another out of confusion and distrust, US intelligence and counter-terrorism officials say," writes Miller. "This year has been a very hard year for them ... They're losing a bunch of their better leaders," one anonymous source tells the Times.

"Abu Khabab Masri, who was described as the leader of al Qaeda's chemical and biological weapons efforts," was eliminated a few months ago by Predator attack, reported the newspaper. What is known is that -- with regards to the war on terror --al Qaeda had an interest in chemical and biological weapons, but no real capability. And that's just a fact. So claims that the US government actually offed a chemical and biological weapons leader by Predator must be seen as suspect, unless such claims are amended to say that a potentially petty nuisance was killed.

LA Times original.

On the other hand, Biden warns of resurgent al Qaeda

Different measures of success, or the lack of it:

400 girls schools closed in Swat.

Recent opinion from Dawn -- an English language newspaper in Pakistan.

Predator state security -- the series.


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