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US ‘Stumbled Into Torture,’ Says NYT Reporter

By Adam Johnson | FAIR | February 15, 2018

As part of a promotion for the upcoming “Look, Evil Russians!” film Red Sparrow (hyping Hollywood films is apparently a thing reporters do now), New York Times national security reporter Scott Shane (2/14/18) wrote a synergistic Cold War 2.0 essay about the CIA’s alleged attempt to recruit him. It included a rather jarring—if not risible—paragraph summarizing Shane’s years of reporting:

All these years later, I assume my name appears in multiple files at the CIA, the National Security Agency and perhaps other corners of the sprawling security bureaucracy, with gripes and comments related to my coverage of how America stumbled into torture; how drone strikes went wrong; espionage cases; WikiLeaks cables; Snowden documents; Russian hackers and the Shadow Brokers; and probably stories I’ve forgotten.

Two clauses stand out for their confident attribution of benevolent motives to US foreign policy. First, there’s the idea that “America stumbled into torture,” rather than planned, plotted and spent over 15 years carrying out a policy of torture. This pretends that the US’s massive global torture regime—which involved drownings, beatings, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation, among other techniques, along with “extraordinary rendition” to allied countries for less refined torture methods–was something other than a deliberate policy initiative.

As FAIR (6/22/17) noted last year, corporate media routinely assert that the US “stumbles,” “slips” or is “dragged into” war and other forms of organized violence, rather than planning deliberate acts of aggression. For reporters in foreign policy circles, the US only does immoral things on accident—unlike Official Bad Countries, which do them for calculated gain when they aren’t motivated by sheer malice.

The second clause, claiming that “drone strikes went wrong,” is a passive way of suggesting that civilian deaths are an unforeseen accident rather than a predictable consequence baked into the cake of the US’s permawar on terror. The US doesn’t murder civilians, it simply launches missiles at unknown and faceless brown people in Yemen and Afghanistan, and sometimes the missiles “go wrong.” While Shane has certainly reported on these respective crimes (as he proudly notes), he has done so in a similar, limited fashion that treats them as unfortunate mishaps, rather than intentional features of a violent empire.

For an essay that is more or less Shane patting himself on the back for holding power to account instead of becoming a spook, his instinct to assume noble intentions on the part of these spooks is a telling indication of the broader ethos of corporate media’s national security reporting: Criticism is welcome around the margins, so long as motives are never challenged.

February 16, 2018 - Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. The USA Military Industrial Complex has a record of aggression,violence, murder, and total destruction of 3rd World countries around the World, that make Hitler’s efforts in Europe in WWII look quite ordinary. Vietnam alone, was one of the Foulest acts against a third World country full of peasants, in history
    I guess that’s what happens when you get a Pentagon, and fill it with Psychopaths, armed to the teeth, and with a limitless budget.

    Comment by Brian Harry, Australia | February 16, 2018 | Reply

  2. DID THEY “STUMBLE” OR DID THEY “FALL”?

    Unless Americans study, THE CIA AS ORGANIZED CRIME and THE PHOENIX PROGRAM, by Douglas Valentine, they will continue to live in La La Land!

    Start in chapter 13 of THE CIA AS ORGANIZED CRIME! This will show you what the CIA is doing TODAY and then you can go back and start reading the rest of the book.

    The CIA is the greatest Terrorist Organization, in the world!

    BE VERY CAREFUL!

    A 95% PERFECT DOLLAR BILL IS STILL COUNTERFEIT!

    TRUMP WAS SELECTED – NOT – ELECTED!

    THE PHOENIX PROGRAM IS IN PROGRESS IN AMERICA, EUROPE AND THE MIDDLE EAST.

    VIETNAM SLAUGHTER:

    *nearly four million Vietnamese killed.
    *more bombs dropped on Vietnam than by all sides in all previous wars throughout history, and three times more dropped than by all sides in the Second World War.
    *19,000,000 gallons of herbicide poisoned the land.
    *9,000 of 15,000 hamlets destroyed in the South of Vietnam.
    *In the North, all six industrial cities devastated; 28 of 30 provincial towns and 96 of 116 district towns leveled by bombing.
    *The United States threatened to use nuclear weapons thirteen times. Nixon chided Kissinger for being too squeamish about this. Nixon said he, himself, just didn’t give a damn.
    *After the war, unexploded bombs and mines permeated the landscape and took an additional 42,000 lives. Millions of acres of land have still not been cleared of live ordnance.
    *Agent Orange and other defoliants have caused severe health problems for millions of Vietnamese.
    *Nearly all of Vietnam’s triple canopy forests were destroyed.
    *3,000,000 tons of ordnance struck 100,000 sites during the “secret” war in Cambodia, causing widespread social dislocation, destruction of crops, and starvation. The U.S. bombing campaign in Cambodia was directly responsible for the rise of the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot and the genocide that took place afterward (The United States actually sided with Pol Pot when Vietnamese troops finally ended his reign of terror).

    Comment by Buddy Silver | February 20, 2018 | Reply


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