Journalism Pro-Tip: If the best-case scenario is you're being lied to then you are in serious trouble.
This is usually the case when someone in authority– usually an elected official or Jamie Dimon – is trying to blow Beijing-smog levels of smoke up your posterior.
In Mr. Dimon's case it was saying he had no idea that his bank was risking $6 billion on a series of investments. But today let us examine a statement made by President Obama when explaining that drones would continue to only be used against "specific senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces." In a CNN interview last September he said:
"It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative. It has to be a situation in which we can't capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States."
There are two ways to assess this statement.
- He actually believes this to be true. If that is the case then he doesn’t know what his administration is up to.
- He knows this to be a lie. If that is the case then at least he actually knows what is happening and is hoping no one finds out the truth.
Well, to mix up two different Democratic campaign slogans: The hope stops here.
Yesterday Jonathan S. Landay of the McClatchy Newspapers’ Washington D.C. bureau reported:
"Contrary to assurances it has deployed U.S. drones only against known senior leaders of al Qaida and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified "other" militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan's rugged tribal area, classified U.S. intelligence reports show."
(You may remember the McClatchy -- then Knight-Ridder -- news service from about 11 years ago when they were the only news organization to question the Bush administration’s excuses for invading Iraq.* They may be the last group in D.C. who can honestly be accused of conducting journalism.)
Now if you have been reading the news out of the greater Afghanistan area then you would know that reports of drones being used to settle political and tribal feuds have been circulating for years. So that part is not news. Mr. Landay's coup was in getting the documents which prove that this was standard government operating procedure.
The intelligence reports list killings of alleged Afghan insurgents whose organization wasn't on the U.S. list of terrorist groups at the time of the 9/11 strikes; of suspected members of a Pakistani extremist group that didn’t exist at the time of 9/11; and of unidentified individuals described as "other militants" and "foreign fighters."
When asked about this, the White House said it was sticking to its earlier lie.
I paraphrase only slightly.
"Mr. Rove, knowing what we know now, would you have advised the president to invade Iraq?" one young man asked.
Rove, after pausing for a moment, said "yes."