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Bloggingheads
01-16-2008, 11:04 AM

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-16-2008, 02:36 PM
This is a really great diavlog.

thprop
01-16-2008, 04:52 PM
I have been reading everything by Nick Schmidle for some time. What is going on in Pakistan and Afghanistan is terrible. We got involved there, never completed the task and headed off for Iraq. The ever growing legacy of W.

I think we will be seeing more stories like this one (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Pakistan.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=pakistan&oref=slogin):
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) -- Islamic militants overran a military outpost close to the Afghan border in a battle that killed seven Pakistani soldiers and left 20 missing, the military said Wednesday. It claimed 50 attackers also died.

ohcomeon
01-16-2008, 05:05 PM
Agreed! Just what I come to Bloggingheads to see. Thanks to all involved.

Wonderment
01-16-2008, 09:43 PM
Did I understand this correctly? American guy goes to Pakistan, presumably as a journalist, but funded by a think tank with ties to the US government. Collects intelligence all over the place. Comes back. Gets debriefed at the airport. Gives US government a list of names of "terrorists," ( presumably including some new ones who can be tortured back at home), does interviews, gives talks and writes a book about his adventures.

Are we now supposed to wonder why the terrorists want to behead real American journalists whom they presume to be spies, CIA agents, covert operators, etc?

Aren't journalists supposed to protect sources? Are they supposed to give up a list of names in order to avoid the inconvenience of a 45-minute baggage check?

I don't know who is worse here -- the "journalist" or the "customs officials" who interrogated him. I doubt they would have given this treatment to a "real" journalist from the NYT or CBS News. Of course, for the Taliban, telling the difference between Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Schmidle is probably a bit subtle. Too bad for the next Daniel Pearl.

TwinSwords
01-16-2008, 09:51 PM
Good points. And it reminds me of something else: How the CIA infiltrated the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq during the 1990s, which explains why Saddam was reluctant to let them back into the country following the September 11 attacks -- though he finally did. Those little details always seem to get swept under the rug in order to bolster the official (bipartisan) narrative.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-17-2008, 12:31 AM
Wonderment and Twin Swords,

Thanks for commenting on that. When I watched it, I was sure I was missing something because the story didn't really make sense. I guess I assumed in my mind that Mr. Schmidle gave the names of people who are already public figures, like some of the Islamic teachers and politicians that he named in this discussion. I don't know why I assumed that, since it wasn't really clear, but for some reason I wanted to like Mr. Schmidle so that's the assumption I made.

I wonder if there's any way to clarify the details of this story?

bjkeefe
01-17-2008, 08:23 AM
Wonderment:

Your point about Schmidle giving names was an excellent one. Highest props to you for critical listening. I'm embarrassed to admit that one slipped right past me.

ohcomeon
01-17-2008, 09:33 AM
These are all good points. I had some momentary thoughts flash through my mind when he said he just wrote down the names of a couple of terrorists with whom he had spoken. I wonder why that would satisfy customs. Wouldn't they want even more if you actually listed "a few terrorists" you had spoken to? How did he pick which terrorists to list?

On the question of Mr. Schmidle vs. REAL journalists. That one is really vague to me. He was working for the NYT. We all know there are so called REAL journalists who unquestioningly trumpet every piece of propoganda the administration puts out. Are they REAL journalists? How would people in foreign countries tell the difference when most Americans can't?

A case in point is the recent story about the small Iranian boats threatening US Naval ships. That story is now obviously a peice of propaganda and yet virtually every major news outlet in the US carried it.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JA17Ak03.html

What do Iranians think about the reporters who did that story? Are they just a mouthpiece for the government? Are they REAL?

While I don't feel qualified to comment on the questions of his being a REAL journalist, I will give him credit for guts.

bjkeefe
01-17-2008, 10:46 AM
ohc:

You make a fair point about "real" journalists, and I also agree with you about Schmidle's courage for being in Pakistan in the first place. Still, to my mind, a real journalist doesn't give up sources that easily.

On the second issue you raise: Without being too much of an apologist for the MSM, I don't really have a problem with the Iranian speedboat story. At least based on what I read in the NYT, they first reported what they had heard from pretty much the only source available, and have since followed up with coverage that has a strong tone of increasing skepticism. I'll grant that the urge to be first with breaking news is sometimes a failing of the media, but at some point, you've got to go with what you know, or you'd never publish anything.

Hoofin
01-17-2008, 11:57 AM
I just think the whole affair sounds much more dramatic when the deportee is required to divulge a list of the terrorists he has interviewed while in the country.

It isn't simply to leave the country, but also tell WHO the bad guys you have come across are.

I just wonder how smarmy a lot of the local thugs there would be, if a nuke that went off were ever traced back to their little caves in the mountains. What it would look like afterwards.

Wonderment
01-17-2008, 04:10 PM
On the question of Mr. Schmidle vs. REAL journalists. That one is really vague to me. He was working for the NYT. We all know there are so called REAL journalists who unquestioningly trumpet every piece of propoganda the administration puts out. Are they REAL journalists? How would people in foreign countries tell the difference when most Americans can't?

I agree. Instead of "real journalists" I probably should have said salaried credentialized journalists. This guy may have been on freelance assignment for the NYT, but that's not the same thing as being Judith Miller (or Danny Pearl). Pearl and Miller (for all her flaws) would have known better than to give up a list.

I applaud the work of journalists who are out there reporting and blogging without the protection and $$$ of MSM. They often do a great service to humanity by keeping the MSM focused and honest. In this case, however, it sounds like he ended up endangering the lives and reputations of both mainstream and alternative journalists. Would you want to walk into a village in SW Pakistan after this guy gave his list to customs? My advice to you would be: Stay calm and don't lose your head.

bjkeefe
01-17-2008, 06:35 PM
Wonderment:

Instead of "real journalists" I probably should have said salaried credentialized journalists.

Good thing you didn't, or the Internet's Worst Nitpicker would have gone medieval on your ass, since the word is credentialed.

;^)

jmcnulty
01-17-2008, 06:44 PM
Excellent diablog regarding an important country about which we know too little. It may surprise you to find out that I do not think that the journalist should have given the names of terrorists to U. S. Customs -- maybe a discreet interview later with the FBI. But not a list with U. S. Customs in a public place like an airport. If he really talked to any terrorists, maybe he should disclose this as a patriotic American who does not want to see them slip into the country. On the other hand, he does not want to be branded "an American spy" the next time he goes to the Swat valley. If he saw terrorists planning an attack in America -- an unlikely possibility -- he might WANT to tell authorities. But he does not want to APPEAR to be an informer giving names. He should not have given the list and should not have been asked by U. S. Customs bureaucrats. Real terrorists will ASSUME that any American, all things being equal, will cooperate with his fellow countrymen if asked. My only reservation was with his eagerness to become familiar (or adopt?) the customs of Pakistan. Did he "go native?" How trustworthy are we supposed to think journalism is from a journalist who has adopted the customs of another country?

bjkeefe
01-17-2008, 06:59 PM
jmcnulty:

I was happy to hear some sensible talk from you. That is, until I read this:

My only reservation was with his eagerness to become familiar (or adopt?) the customs of Pakistan. Did he "go native?" How trustworthy are we supposed to think journalism is from a journalist who has adopted the customs of another country?

While I think the American way of life and founding principles are superior, I don't think other countries and cultures are all bad, and I think it is highly useful to hear from reporters who immerse themselves in such.

Your "go native" sounds like the same sort of paranoid thinking of the Red Menace-phobes. I really wish you could conceive of the possibility that we in the US don't have an exclusive lock on goodness.

jmcnulty
01-17-2008, 07:34 PM
I do not think that we have some exclusivity on goodness. But a jounalist must always remember that he is reporting as an American. As a former journalist, I resent the tendency to stand above the story and pretend to a stict neutrality -- as if American troops and Iraqi insurgents can be looked at as the same. When I was a journalist, was I supposed to pretend that the cops and the criminals should be looked at as being the same? That is what I meant by "going native." This has led to journalists in Iraq trying to avoid any "rooting interest" in the conflict. Imagine if this had been the practice during World War II. No wonder the media is held in such low regard. I am not saying to avoid telling the truth. But remember that those soldiers are your countrymen. How far do you think a jouornalist should go? Should he convert to Islam so that he will "fit in better" in Pakistan? Should the reader be told?

Wonderment
01-17-2008, 08:13 PM
Good thing you didn't, or the Internet's Worst Nitpicker would have gone medieval on your ass, since the word is credentialed.


I can nitpick back with the best of them, Brendan. For instance, I might cite the inclusion of "credentialize" in the Oxford Dictionary of New Words:

".. [ODNW] contains over 50,000 entries is an indication that new words enter our language every day. According to Karen Wright in her essay "Keepers of Words" in the March 2000 Discover magazine, "breadth of use and `staying power' are the two principal criteria Merriam-Webster editors use to nominate new words."

Email is just one example of a word that entered the English language because of computer technology. Now there's Webcasting ... Internet, word processor, spam, and computer mouse.

Then there's credentialize. And don't forget Enronize, annualize, athleticism, home schooling; the list of neologisms goes on. What's amazing about the English language is its creative capacity..."

Or I might argue that a "credentialed" reporter is simply one who possesses the credential. "Credentialized" reporter suggests that s/he has been upgraded for a particular job, as is the case here.

Example of usage: "Judith Miller was a credentialed reporter for the NYT, but nowadays they will credentialize anyone for a particular assignment in say Pakistan. Such credentialized reporters are not as reliable as credentialed reporters. "

Finally, nitpicking is a sign of love and caring among chimps and other primates. Love, Wonderment

Wonderment
01-17-2008, 08:14 PM
Sorry about further tangentializing this thread.

bjkeefe
01-17-2008, 09:44 PM
jmcnulty:

Sorry, I just can't deal anymore with your insistence on taking a black and white view of everything.

TwinSwords
01-17-2008, 10:35 PM
Excellent diablog regarding an important country about which we know too little.

A problem made worse by the incompetent clowns I assume you voted for:


The roots of the crisis go back to the blind bargain Washington made after 9/11 with the regime that had heretofore been the Taliban's main patron: ignoring Musharraf's despotism in return for his promises to crack down on al-Qaeda and cut the Taliban loose. Today, despite $10 billion in U.S. aid to Pakistan since 2001, that bargain is in tatters; the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al-Qaeda's senior leadership has set up another haven inside Pakistan's chaotic border regions.

The problem is exacerbated by a dramatic drop-off in U.S. expertise on Pakistan. Retired American officials say that, for the first time in U.S. history, nobody with serious Pakistan experience is working in the South Asia bureau of the State Department, on State's policy planning staff, on the National Security Council staff or even in Vice President Cheney's office. Anne W. Patterson, the new U.S. ambassador to Islamabad, is an expert on Latin American "drugs and thugs"; Richard A. Boucher, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, is a former department spokesman who served three tours in Hong Kong and China but never was posted in South Asia. "They know nothing of Pakistan," a former senior U.S. diplomat said.

Current and past U.S. officials tell me that Pakistan policy is essentially being run from Cheney's office. The vice president, they say, is close to Musharraf and refuses to brook any U.S. criticism of him. This all fits; in recent months, I'm told, Pakistani opposition politicians visiting Washington have been ushered in to meet Cheney's aides, rather than taken to the State Department.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/15/AR2007061502073.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

TwinSwords
01-17-2008, 10:38 PM
My only reservation was with his eagerness to become familiar (or adopt?) the customs of Pakistan. Did he "go native?" How trustworthy are we supposed to think journalism is from a journalist who has adopted the customs of another country?

You certainly are a special one, McNulty.

TwinSwords
01-17-2008, 10:47 PM
I resent the tendency to stand above the story and pretend to a stict neutrality ... That is what I meant by "going native."

Objectivity is the exact opposite of "going native."

"Going native" means taking the side of another culture or group. Objectivity means taking no side. Therefore, it is hard to imagine how you meant "objectivity" when you darkly implied that Schmidle might have turned into a Manchurian Muslim terrorist.

TwinSwords
01-17-2008, 10:48 PM
How far do you think a jouornalist should go? Should he convert to Islam so that he will "fit in better" in Pakistan? Should the reader be told?

Can I ask you a question?

If you had to guess, how many American journalists do you think have converted to Islam so that they can "fit in better" and are currently withholding that information from readers?

You give voice to these concerns. How real do you think they are?

joey
01-17-2008, 10:56 PM
umm, the idea that Nick is a government operative is very interesting, I suppose being a "journalist" is a good cover for an agent in a foreign land, versus being a "tea merchant" who asks lots of questions. As in, "who's that guy askin' all the questions?" It seems pretty rational that our government would have many people in Pakistan paying close attention to what was going on there. We clearly need to have a very good understanding of that country- we just gave them ten thousand million dollars, among other critical issues. Is there any reason we shouldn't be deeply invested (hiring people) in knowing what is going on in that country?

bjkeefe
01-18-2008, 08:59 AM
Wonderment:

A delightful response!

I am a stick in the mud about making up new words when perfectly good options already exist, but I am trying to be less of a Miss Thistlebottom. Thus, I'm perfectly happy with the vast majority of new tech terms, using Google and Photoshop as verbs, and I'll accept reference as a verb in limited cases.

You almost have me sold on credentialize as a verb with your Judith Miller example. I say "almost," because I'll allow it to pass without comment, but I will not use it myself. I will continue to prefer "they'll give credentials to anyone" or "they'll certify anyone" when it's my own mouth or fingers at work.

However, I am going to stay right here in my damp dirt dugout about credentialized as an adjective. Credentialed already does the job.

Finally, nitpicking is a sign of love and caring among chimps and other primates.

Nice! I am so stealing that one. I don't think the objects of my nitpicking will accept it, but pithy defensiveness is always a plus.

jmcnulty
01-18-2008, 10:55 AM
It is very tiresome to be accused of thiings that you never said. I never said that the journalist was a "government agent." In fact, I was appalled and opposed the U. S. Customs Service making him provide a list. In my opinion, he should have refused. But, the other hand, he is an American. I do not think that he or us can forget that, and I am sure that the Taliban never does. Are you really arguing that "objectivity," which does not exist anyway these days and is usually a cover for Leftist ideas seeking camouflage, requires that we take a neutral position in the War on Terrorism? Did Ernie Pyle in World War II take a "neutral" position with regards to the Nazis or the Japanese? I am not suggesting that the truth should be obscured. The journalist is there to tell us what is really happening. Are you suggesting that a journalist should look the other way if he stumbles across important intelligence? Should he be equidistant from American troops and the terrorists? I do not think any journalist has become a Muslim as part of his job (Steve Centanni of Fox News, who was kidnapped by Palistinians and then converted under duress, does not count.) It was never pointed out, for instance, that American "reporters" who seldom left hotels in the "Green Zone" were relying upon Iraqi stringers for their news reports, and at least one of those stringers was identified by American Army intelligence as an agent of the insurgents. If we are worried about infiltration of the police by Shiite militias, then should we not also be concerned about the same thing with American reporters? No wonder the war reporting was so consistently bad. To get the real flavor of the fighting you had to go to Michael Yon or other bloggers who were imbedded, not in the "Green Zone," but with American units in the field. But when you have a journalist who is so sympathetic to a foreign culture that he adopts their cultural ways ("goes native"), shouldn't we be aware of that? There is a difference between a journalist who says "I dressed like a Pakistani tribesman because my job required it" and "You know, we really could learn from these wise Pakistani tribesmen."

bjkeefe
01-18-2008, 11:00 AM
jmcnulty:

... "objectivity," which does not exist anyway these days and is usually a cover for Leftist ideas seeking camouflage ...

I refute your claim thus: Fox News: "Fair and Balanced."

jmcnulty
01-18-2008, 11:39 AM
You said: "I refute your claim thus: Fox News: "Fair and Balanced."

Far be it from me to defend Fox News. Murdoch, in case you do not know, has endorsed Hillary and hosted a fund-raiser. Does it skew coverage? Try to prove it. But if I were Obama, I would know that everyone who hopes to advance in Fox News or get a raise knows that their owner has endorsed Hillary. I also do not like that fact that Arabs own 5 % of Newscorp, the corporate parent, at a time when we depend upon fearless reporting from the Middle East. Their coverage of the immigration issue (emphasizing shots of desert and huddled groups of immigrants) by has been pathetic. Fred Thompson is virtually ignored by Fox (I do not court the opnion shows like "Hannity & Colmes"). I also dislike the "yell-o-vision" aspect of Fox News, dueling attorneys or medical examiners, and the emphasis on the "murder of the week." And I am not sure that there is a studio large enough to hold Bill O'Reilly's ego. This morning, Gretchen Carlson on "Fox & Friends," who is more suited to "Good Morning, Cleveland" than a national show, had the nerve to ask the parent of a runaway daughter, "If you could speak to you daughter right now, what would you say?" Surprisingly enough, he answered, "Come home." No, I am no defender of Fox News. Isn't CNN, in its own way, just as bad? Who did they hire for the morning news show to replace Soledad O'Brian? Kirian Chetry. From where? Fox News. However, "fair and balanced" -- leaving aside the question of whether Fox News is or isn't -- are at least more realistic than pretending that reporters for The New York Times are "objective," as if it is possible on any question to be "neutral." "Fairness" and "balance" can be measured after the fact. "Objectivity" cannot. Nobody can look down from a God-like perspective and be completely "objective."