2007-11-02

Morning Report: November 2, 2007

Developments in Kurdistan; journalistic integrity, and otherwise; and bad news for the bad guys in Iraq.

Iraqi Kurdistan's Nechirvan Barzani condemns PKK attacks. CBS: 'The prime minister of Iraq's northern Kurdish region Friday condemned attacks by Kurdish rebel fighters inside Turkey and said he hopes a weekend summit in Istanbul will reduce the threat of Turkish military strikes inside Iraq. ... Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani of Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, issued a statement Friday saying there was "no place in the modern civilized world" for the type of violence carried out by PKK guerrillas.' VOA: 'U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the United States, Turkey and Iraq will jointly counter Kurdish rebels launching attacks inside Turkey from their bases in northern Iraq. Speaking to reporters aboard a flight to Turkey Friday, Rice called the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, a "common enemy," and said the allies will work together to have an "effective" way of dealing with them. Rice also warned against any action that could destabilize the situation in northern Iraq. The top U.S. diplomat is to hold talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul in Ankara later Friday.'

Iraq civilian, US military death tolls hit new low in October. Reuters: 'Civilian deaths from violence in Iraq fell again in October to their lowest level this year, government figures showed on Wednesday, bolstering the U.S. military's assertion that a troop surge is reducing bloodshed. U.S. military fatalities also showed a significant drop in October -- so far 36 have been reported for the month, the lowest since March 2006, and well below 65 deaths in September.'

Mark Corallo on NYT's Blackwater interview. Mark Corallo was interviewed by John Broder of the New York Times about his former clients at Blackwater. But, he says in this piece at NRO, he scarcely recognizes the interview that the paper printed:
I’m not na├»ve and I’m no rookie in dealing with the media. But when one spends 40 minutes on the phone with a highly respected reporter, singing the praises of a company that does heroic service to our country, one expects those comments to be reflected in the story. ...

At the end of my conversation with Mr. Broder, he said that “after this story, the company ought to send you a check.” I told him I didn’t want money from Blackwater. I was just glad that I could finally tell their story, defend them, take a few hard whacks at the elected officials and bureaucrats who were so ungrateful to these brave men who were protecting them from an enemy that draws no distinction between uniformed military and civilians. I’m pretty sure that Dennis Kucinich would not have appreciated the things I said about his ignorant ranting, his uninformed accusations, his general idiocy.

A million people will tell me that I shouldn’t be surprised that the New York Times mischaracterized my comments and omitted 99.9 percent of what I said because it didn’t fit the story the Times wanted to tell.

Go to the link to find out what Corallo actually said about Blackwater.

Huffington Post does the right thing. The Standard's Michael Goldfarb knows a thing or two about spotting inconsistencies in the liberal media. But the Huffington Post's commendable response to Goldfarb's critique of a Barry Sanders article might just be a new experience for the Worldwide Standard writer.
Earlier this week, THE WORLDWIDE STANDARD exposed the numerous factual errors in an article by Barry Sanders at the Huffington Post titled "The Military's Addiction to Oil." The author was clearly out of his depth--he knows nothing about the military, and even less about global warming. But that didn't stop the Huffington Post from inviting him to run a weeklong series on the subject. Still, credit where credit is due. The WWS may rarely see eye to eye with Arianna Huffington, but she could give remedial training to her fellow travelers at the New Republic and the Los Angeles Times in how to issue corrections and retractions when faced with obvious error. Arianna's response to what surely was an unprecedented display of ignorance from one of her contributors impresses us greatly.

The Huffington Post has canceled the series. Here's their repudiation of author Barry Sanders in the form of an editor's note:

After this post was published, some commenters and bloggers, especially Michael Goldfarb of the Weekly Standard raised a number of questions about its accuracy. As is our policy, we asked Mr. Sanders to either provide backup for his factual claims or retract them. His response follows. In it, he acknowledges three "flat-out" inaccuracies: Apache helicopters fall under the auspices of the Army not the Air Force; the USS Independence was not, as claimed, headed to the Persian Gulf in 2002 (it was decommissioned in 1998); and Sanders left out the word "battalion" in the sentence, "a pair of Apache helicopter battalions can devour more than 60,000 gallons of fuel in a single night's attack." These have been corrected in the post.

Read the rest here. Kudos to the Huffington Post for this example of responsible journalism. Franklin Foer, are you listening?

Hezbollah propaganda at the San Francisco Chronicle. Across the Bay shreds the Chron's puff piece on Hezbollah:
It seems that every other day we undergo the same exercise of trashing some dilettante journalist in Lebanon who knows nothing about that which s/he writes. The latest case is Hugh Macleod, in a remarkably bad and ignorant article on Hezbollah in the SF Chronicle.

What's the latest? Hezbollah's "expanding its military power by recruiting Sunnis, Christians and Druze in preparation for another conflict with Israel."

Mmmm, yes. Aside from the fact that this was fed to Macleod by "sources close to Hezbollah," what's the evidence supporting this? Well, your guess is as good as mine, or Macleod's for that matter. Not a single example of a Christian or Druze recruitment is given. What is given is Christian and Druze support in the rallies against the Seniora government last January, which have fizzled out and failed completely in achieving their objective.

Read the whole thing. Tony Bey concludes: '... Macleod has produced a fine piece of Hezbollah propaganda and participated in their and Syria's info ops. This is the danger of irresponsible and dilettante journalism.'

Commentary. I'll just take a moment to focus on John Broder's gratuitous and smug comment to Mark Corallo: 'At the end of my conversation with Mr. Broder, he said that “after this story, the company ought to send you a check.”'

How typical. John Broder already knows the truth; the interview, the whole process of asking questions and pretending to be interested in the answers, is just a formality. Because Broder's masters at the Grey Lady have already decided what kind of story they want to tell, and they just need to be able to say they "interviewed" Mark Corallo to lend the story a veneer of credibility.

And at the end of the day, why does anybody say or do anything? It's not because of duty or honor or ethics or commitment or just because it's the right thing to do; it's just because somebody is going to "send them a check". Broder's moment of candor is refreshingly revelatory about a certain mentality in the world of journalism today.

Here's what Corallo does say about Blackwater and its founder:

I went on at length about the vision and commitment of Blackwater’s founder and owner Eric Prince. Instead of spending the rest of his life relaxing on the interest from a sizeable inheritance, Prince decided to become a Navy Seal. While serving on active duty he realized that the Navy lacked the facilities to conduct the kind of training that would make our soldiers, sailors, and Marines even more proficient and skilled war fighters. When he left active service, he created Blackwater USA and dedicated his life to making America even safer. ...

I told Broder that I stopped representing Blackwater for a number of reasons, chief among them my inability to help them under the State Department’s gag order. I told him of sitting in a meeting with the State Department’s contracting officer, who told the company’s representatives that if they so much as popped their heads up in the media, he would ruin them.

I did say that — as would be true of just about any corporation — there were some inside Prince’s organization (but not Prince or his senior team) who were unsophisticated in the ways of Washington and didn’t understand or particularly like the congressional-oversight process.

I did say that there were a couple of guys who had a “cowboy mentality.” But those comments were in the context of the company’s image — a necessary one for business purposes. Let’s face it, nobody is going to hire a bunch of wimps or trust their lives to guys who aren’t willing to act with speed and determination under fire. So the cowboy tag was a double-edged sword. ...

I'm going to stop quoting here, but please take a few moments to read the article.

The other day I quoted IraqPundit on the Blackwater shooting investigation. I don't know the full facts of the incident, but with 17 Iraqis dead, I don't blame IraqPundit for being angry, and we all have a right and a duty to demand a full investigation of what happened. If malice or negligence lead to the deaths of innocent people, then those responsible must be identified, apprehended, and puinished to the full extent of the law - and the system needs to be re-examined to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

But we also have the right and the duty to demand an honest presentation of the facts from our news media - not propaganda pieces written by hacks who'll do anything for a buck. That's why John Broder's remark is so revealing: it's a case of projection. The press imagines that the rest of the world is made up of people like themselves.

But it is only the journalists, not the Blackwater contractors, who are soulless mercenaries.