Monday, May 28, 2012

Greenwald's authoritarian mind

After I mentioned Glenn Greenwald in my last post, I decided to head over to Salon and check out what he's writing about this Memorial Day weekend. In his piece from yesterday, he takes on the task of telling us all about the authoritarian mind.

What I found fascinating is that in the article, Greenwald demonstrates EXACTLY what an authoritarian does with information...he feeds you only what he wants you to hear.

Exhibit A is Greenwald relaying the interview Jake Tapper did with Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta yesterday morning. Here is the part he highlighted lifted directly from his article.
TAPPER: President Obama recently said that — recently told John Brennan, his counterterrorism adviser at the White House that he wanted a little bit more transparency when it comes to drones, which are the – is one of the approaches that you’re alluding to in Yemen.

And “The Times of London” reported last week that the civilian casualties in Yemen as a result of drone strikes have, quote, “emboldened Al Qaeda.”

Is there not a serious risk that this approach to counterterrorism, because of its imprecision, because of its civilian casualties, is creating more enemy than it is killing?

PANETTA: First and foremost, I think this is one of the most precise weapons that we have in our arsenal. Number two, what is our responsibility here?  Our responsibility is to defend and protect the United States of America.

And using the operations that we have, using the systems that we have, using the weapons that we have, is absolutely essential to our ability to defend Americans. That’s what counts, and that’s what we’re doing.
And here's Greenwald's comments afterwards.
Note that Panetta studiously ignored, rather than addressed, the question of whether the U.S. — by continuously killing Muslim civilians and thus intensifying anti-American animus — is creating more Terrorists than it is killing and thus making the U.S. less safe. That’s because there is no answer.
I decided that I'd like some context to the conversation he's commenting on, and so the first thing I noticed is that Greenwald - who usually is prolific in providing links - did not do so this time.

Nevermind...I can google with the best of them. So I found the transcript of the interview and waded through it until I got to this exchange.  I'll skip quoting Tapper's question again and simply give you Panetta's complete response.
PANETTA: First and foremost, I think this is one of the most precise weapons that we have in our arsenal. Number two, what is our responsibility here? Our responsibility is to defend and protect the United States of America.

There are those who have no other intent but to attack this country. We saw three potential bombers that were trying to get on planes to come here and attack this country. We've seen past attacks taking place. We've seen those that continue to – to indicate that they're planning every day to try to attack this country.

We have got to defend the United States of America. That's our first responsibility. And using the operations that we have, using the systems that we have, using the weapons that we have, is absolutely essential to our ability to defend Americans. That's what counts, and that's what we're doing.
Do you see what Greenwald did there? He left out the whole second paragraph and the first 2 sentences of the third. You know...the one's where Panetta gave examples of who is being targeted in Yemen.  Panetta DID answer the question about why these attacks are a priority for keeping Americans safe.

Now, Greenwald might still have had an argument to make that they are also creating a risk. But it would be a much bigger uphill climb with the concrete examples Panetta gave. So he simply left them out - and with no indication whatsoever that he had done so, ie < ... >.

Some might suggest that this was simply a transcription error. But honey, I wasn't born yesterday. Greenwald wanted to make a point and Panetta made that difficult. So he simply edited the transcript to suit his agenda.

More than anything else he said about "the authoritarian mind" in that article, Greenwald just demonstrated for us perfectly how it works.

Finally, a simple reminder to all...ALWAYS CHECK YOUR SOURCES when reading online!

11 comments:

  1. GG won't like you. He doesn't care for people pointing at his naked butt. Just ask Deaniac at TPV or anyone else who has challenged him.

    Good work!

    Aquagranny911

    ReplyDelete
  2. These kinds of omissions are really SOP for alot of the poutrage crew: have a ready made conclusion and have 'facts' that fit your preconceived narrative, i.e. 'Obama murders Muslims'

    The solemn oath means what it says: Protect the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic. Unless the critics can come up with a workable alternative than the drones, they really need to have a roomful of seats.

    ebogan63.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dun dun dunnnnnnn! Obama is Bush! No difference!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice. Greenwald accuses the Administration of playing fast and loose with the facts....and then he plays fast and loose with the facts.

    Whether Greenwald likes it or not, one of the President's primary duties is to defend the United States against all enemies. I know that sounds a bit "authoritarian", but how come Greenwald isn't directing his righteous ire towards Russia, China, Syria, and Iran, for instance?

    Or does he believe that they represent "democracy" better than the US?

    If that's the case, then the problem lies with him--not the Obama Administration. It's perfectly fine to constructively criticize any politician so long as you present facts in an open, honest manner. Cutting and pasting are not the ways to do that.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It is my profound belief that drones, as horrific as all manner of weaponry is, were picked to MINIMIZE the dangers to surrounding people. Missles, rockets, bombs all carry vastly more risk to civilians in a given area. Yes, there are people who wish to kill us all. As much as we want peace, it cannot be blind to that fact. GG doesn't care about Muslims or anyone else - he just wants to gut Obama, and that's not policy, it's personal.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Tapper's question was, by creating civilian casualties, is the US drone program inciting anti-US sentiment that ultimately creates more people with a desire to harm the US?

    Panetta's answer went like this:
    i) Claim that drone strikes are precise relative to other weapons.
    ii) Claim that there exist people who are determined to harm the US.
    iii) Conclusion: drone strikes are necessary to defend the USA.

    Notice that nowhere in there does he try to argue that the drone program isn't killing innocent people, or that the populations of Yemen (and Pakistan, and so on) aren't bothered by the civilian deaths, or anything that would actually address the question. Classic red herring.

    So this "gotcha" of yours makes no sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What took you so long? I was wondering when the Glenn-clones would finally show up.

      But I'm seriously disappointed in your response. You've got nothing to say about Glenn leaving out a whole section of Panetta's response without informing his readers that he did so? Why would you guess that he did that? It couldn't be because he found that part inconvenient to his argument, could it?

      Panetta's reference to the precision of drones was in direct response to Tapper's statement about their imprecision. He then laid out the scenarios of actual cases where the alternative to drone strikes would have been successful strikes by al Qaeda against us. Which would be the more risky strategy? Precisions strikes against them or letting them attack us?

      I realize those are questions Glenn doesn't want the Glenn-bots asking themselves and its precisely why he left that portion out.

      Delete
    2. It's only inconvenient to Greenwald's argument if you believe that Panetta's second paragraph of talking points somehow refutes the "blowback" theory that Tapper alluded to in his initial question. I've already shown that it doesn't, so I'm not sure why you're carrying on as if it did.

      Panetta's reference to the precision of drones was in direct response to Tapper's statement about their imprecision.

      You realize that "imprecise" is a relative term, right? I'd call a Hellfire missile attack that kills almost 3 dozen women and children pretty damn "imprecise". And somehow I think the locals would be just as angry as if those people had been murdered using less "precise" weapons. Or do you expect them to be grateful that the whole area wasn't nuked instead?

      He then laid out the scenarios of actual cases where the alternative to drone strikes would have been successful strikes by al Qaeda against us.

      No. You haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about. The "actual cases" he referred to are the Christmas Day underwear bomber, the ink-jet cartridge bombs, and the CIA sting airliner-bombing operation from last month. None of these plots were stopped or prevented by drone strikes. None. That's not even what Panetta was trying to claim by citing them: he was making a banal point about bad guys being out there. But you decided to believe he'd proved something about the necessity of drone strikes, because you wanted that to be true.

      Which would be the more risky strategy? Precisions strikes against them or letting them attack us?

      This is a false dichotomy, and the whole point of the blowback theory is to reveal it as such. To be honest, I expected a little more intellectual rigour from a blog of this name.

      Delete
    3. Funny, but I never expected much intellectual rigour from a Glenn-bot. And so you certainly haven't disappointed.

      In your original comment, you suggested that Panetta's reference to precision was non-responsive. I was merely helping you see that it actually was.

      But really when you start talking about precise drone strikes or nukes, your argument really has gone off the rails - as if there's no other alternatives.

      Did you even read the article you linked to? It actually makes the very point you're trying to avoid. That's because those "3 dozen women and children" were killed by a much more imprecise cruise missile fired from a Navy ship in the Gulf. In other words, not a drone strike.

      Finally, I'm very well aware and grateful that our intelligence sources and other activities stopped those actual attacks in process from happening. But that "banal point" Panetta was making is something you can't simply dismiss if you want your arguments to hold any water at all. In other words, what would your plan be to protect Americans from that kind of attack? If it would be effective and have less risk...we'd all be waiting with baited breath to hear about it.

      Delete
    4. Just one other thing...

      I hope that by now you're getting the point that I tend to read source documents. So perhaps you'll recognize that this little trick we've now witnessed from both you and Glenn to try to suggest that the source says something it didn't is not going to work around here.

      Delete
    5. Golly, my mistake. I should instead have linked to this attack, which instead killed a mere 2 kids. Or the scores of others like it. I'm sure the survivors of these attacks are rejoicing that something even more destructive wasn't used on them. I'm sure all the people enraged by them would never dream of taking up arms against Americans.

      But that "banal point" Panetta was making is something you can't simply dismiss if you want your arguments to hold any water at all. In other words, what would your plan be to protect Americans from that kind of attack?

      Actually, no, there's no logical connection there. I can point out the moral bankruptcy of destroying innocent people without being obligated to sketch out to your satisfaction some alternative way of accomplishing the US government's political ends. Having said that, a first step toward protecting Americans might be to stop rampaging across the world giving people reasons to want to kill Americans. The actual threat to Americans (as opposed to "American interests", which is something quite different) from terrorists is grossly overstated, and this alone would go a long way toward reducing it. There's a reason that extremists spend relatively little time attempting to attack, say, Mexico compared to the US.

      So perhaps you'll recognize that this little trick we've now witnessed from both you and Glenn to try to suggest that the source says something it didn't is not going to work around here.

      Still not willing to concede that this whole post is based on you mistakenly parsing Panetta's evasions into something resembling an argument, huh? I guess I shouldn't be surprised: when you're going to bat for a murderer, the cognitive dissonance must be brutal.

      Delete