From Semore Hersch in the London Review of Books:
Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.
THIS is why we need a vigorous free press, which means active investigative journalism and protection for whistle blowers.
Here’s one of Lee Camp’s Best: 15 things you don’t hear on the corporate media
The remarks by Paul Steiger, ProPublica Founder upon receiving an award from the Committee to Protect Journalists:
What has changed is the position of us, American journalists. We are still far better off than our beleaguered cousins in danger zones abroad, of course. But financially, I don’t need to tell this group of the hammering our industry has taken in the last decade. Publications shrinking or even closing, journalists bought out or laid off, beats shrunk or eliminated.
And now, more recently, we are facing new barriers to our ability to do our jobs – denial of access and silencing of sources.
For the starkest comparison, I urge any of you who haven’t already done so to read last month’s report, commissioned by CPJ and written by Len Downie, former editor of the Washington Post. It lays out in chilling detail how an administration that took office promising to be the most transparent in history instead has carried out the most intrusive surveillance of reporters ever attempted.
It also has made the most concerted effort at least since the plumbers and the enemies lists of the Nixon Administration to intimidate officials in Washington from ever talking to a reporter.
Consider this: As we now know from the Snowden documents, investigators seeking to trace the source of a leak can go back and discover anyone in government who has talked by phone or email with the reporter who broke the story. Match that against the list of all who had access to the leaked info and voila!
I highly recommend this TED talk by Brandon Stanton, creator of Humans of New York. He contrasts his own work with the stories we often see on the television “news.” What we see on television are stories carefully filtered to show conflict, sex, violence and danger. It’s not a bad thing, per se, to view such stories, but it is a bad thing to accept these stories as representative of the way the world is.
I find Humans of New York to be a calming counterbalance to the stories usually presented by the “news.”
Approaching crisis point for journalism and corruption – Bill Moyers talks with John Nichols and Robert McChesney
Bill Moyers, John Nichols and Robert McChesney are three of the people I admire most in the world. Here they are sitting at the same table discussing what to do about the massive corruption of our political system, specifically, the challenges faced by those who are trying to do responsible journalism to report on this travesty. These issues are discussed with precision in the latest book by Nichols and McChesney: “Dollarocracy,” a stunningly sober look at the situation (I’ve almost finished reading it).
Toward the end of this excellent video, McChesney and Nichols indicate that they are “optimists.” They argue that we are at one of those acute crisis points periodically faced by Americans and thus positive change is in our grasp. The authors further argue that it is becoming apparent that we need to make the case for publicly funded journalism. This is an approach taken by many functional governments, and it was one of the cornerstones of early America, a topic discussed by Nichols and McChesney in one of their previous books.