Last week, Newsweek reported that U.S. soldiers, among other things, flushed a copy of the Koran down the commode at the American detention center in Guantanamo.
At the time, the Pentagon and the White House said nothing. Disrespecting small books of morality and ethics is the least of the naughty things we do in our gulag. Just ask U.S. Major General Antonio Taguba, whose narrow and outdated report is still juicy reading.
After the Newsweek article, anti-American riots broke out in Afghanistan and all around the world. According to Secretary of State Condi Rice, 16 people were killed.
It was all Newsweek’s fault. Turns out, they didn’t check out their facts or verify their sources before publishing such an emotion-provoking story.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer has been wearing that "I am a serious reporter concerned about what this means for our profession" look on his face all week.
He is shocked down to his government defending tights and his SuperReporter underwear. He is astounded, dismayed. For gosh sakes, Wolf says, PEOPLE GOT KILLED!!
Newsweek’s apology is not enough for Wolf. Something, he demands, must be done!
Global anger against the U.S. is the new Coke. The world sings in unison and shares a cool drink with erstwhile enemies while looking towards America. Righteous rage against Washington, D.C. soothes throats parched for justice and minds seething with a sense of powerlessness against the U.S. global political agenda and its massive corporate-military machine.
Wolf might have been aware of this if he ever actually reported anything beyond the 5th grade level soundbites provided by the Pentagon and the White House. He mentioned that he just got back from a short visit to Iraq. Wolf "reported" on his show yesterday that it was quite peaceful and under control.
I’m sure the Green Zone shops and restaurants, and the helicopter ride to and from the airport were just as they should have been.
It is really tragic that a great reporter like Wolf Blitzer forgot to exercise his journalistic ethics in late 2002 and 2003, and basically for many years up until this week.
Had he done so, he might have been a hero, able to leap tall stories in a single bound. It wasn’t that difficult. Most journalists in Washington and New York knew in 2002 that the White House and Pentagon had already decided on war in Iraq, and that they would have it for any reason and at any cost. The "facts were fixed" as the British put it. Most U.S. reporters, while they wouldn’t admit it publicly, understood very well that the toppling of our former friend in Iraq wasn’t about democracy and liberation.
16 people killed by Newsweek? My goodness, Wolf might have saved 1600 American soldiers and Marines from an unnecessary and terrible death in Iraq, and prevented over 30,000 mental and physical disabilities that the VA medical system already cannot handle. Wolf might have been the master of the superheroes in preventing the needless death over the past two years of over 100,000 Iraqi men, women and children.
It is a darn shame that Wolf Blitzer, and other leading American journalists did not focus their attention on the White House and Pentagon failure to check facts and verify sources.
It is a darn shame that Wolf Blitzer and other leading American journalists did not journalistically probe and bravely demand the truth about White House and Pentagon creativity on that "good story" about why we had to go into Iraq.
Instead, Wolf is blitzed and ditsy about Newsweek. He, like the White House, feels that Newsweek’s "apology" is not enough.
Wolf, I feel your pain.
Retracting a false story that led to the deaths and debilitating injuries of hundreds of thousands of people is something reporters in American ought to do.
Retracting a false story that led to the destruction of a nation is probably consistent with journalistic ethics, wouldn’t you think, Wolf?
Retracting a false story that incited a civil war and placed 150,000 U.S. troops right in the middle of it — each young American man and woman the easy target of every faction — yes, that would be journalistically noble.
Oh, I’m sorry, Wolf. I was confusing you with a real journalist, and not a government apologist, collaborator, propagandist and in the ways that count, a culpable war criminal.
They didn’t hang Joseph Goebbels, of course. That old master of the government spin and the big lie stayed with his government leader until the end. When the end became undeniable, first he murdered his children, and then his wife. Finally, he committed suicide.
Just like U.S. journalism in the 21st century. To end on a happy note, let me say it couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch.
Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D., [send her mail] is a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley, and among other things, writes a bi-weekly column on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for militaryweek.com.