Sunday, November 12, 2006

Go down, Dexy

The New York Times Sunday Magazine for November 3, 2006 sported the headline "About that war he worked so hard to sell . . ." and "Dexter Filkins."

But before you get your hopes up, it wasn't an expose on the US military's pet stenographer Dexy. It was Dexy. Writing about Ahmad Chalabi.

Dexy's out of the Green Zone these days and eager to do some rehab on his own image. So he pens an overly long, finger-pointing essay which brings up everything but the fact that the war is illegal.


Judith Miller is named. When you're a lousy reporter who knew better, you grab the stick and bash the bitch to make yourself look better.

Judith Miller's accused of many journalistic sins.

"Liar" is one of them and we're having a hard time buying that in relation to everything she wrote in the lead up to Iraq because she had the passion of a true-believer. As she 'commanded' a brigade in searches for WMDs, do you really think Scoop Miller would be wasting her time in Iraq if she didn't think a front pager was in the making?

"Wrong" is a nice way to put. "Foolish" is probably more accurate. "Liar"? We're not opposed to the use of the word, we just think it needs to be noted that "liar" applies to specific details and not to the overall belief in the war and the stated reasons for it. The stated reasons, like Miller, have been, to invert her infamous phrase, "proved f**king wrong."

She's now the joke, now the jester. Everyone takes their poke even those who best her.

Take little Dexy. As 2006 draws to a close, he not only wants to give you a glimpse at the con-man Chalabi, he wants to share some of the fun stuff he knew and observed in 2004 and 2005. Now Dexy didn't write about it in real time.

Who's the liar?

Judith Miller or Dexter Filkins?

While revisiting 2004, Dexy avoids the month of November. He has to. That 'award winning' piece shouldn't have held up in real time and it certainly doesn't hold up now what with the revelations about D.U. and white phosphorus being used in Falluja -- the place Dexy was reporting from -- supposedly so well that it justified an award.

No, Dexy's doesn't want to go there. But the wanna-be Angie Dickinson of the B-movie that was and is the Green Zone, pistol packing Dexy, has no problem burning his co-workers. It's not just Miller.

If Dexy can get a little cred, he'll burn anyone. He burned the entire Baghdad bureau in a speech to the Committee to Protect Journalists:

The most that Times reporters can do these days, said Filkins, is "very carefully set up an appointment with someone" using back channels and meet with them under tight security. "We can't go to car bombings anymore," he said, describing how even getting out of a vehicle to report would expose a Western journalist to mob attacks and kidnapping. As a result, the paper increasingly relies on its 70 Iraqi staffers to go out into the streets and do the actual reporting. These Iraqi journalists, both Sunni and Shiite, do "everything" according to Filkins, and are paid handsomely (by local standards) for their efforts. But they live in constant fear of their association with the newspaper being exposed, which could cost them their lives.
[. . .]
American journalists, he said, spend their days piecing together scraps of information from the Iraqi reporters to construct a picture, albeit incomplete, of what life is like these days in the war-torn country. But he says that the work is slow and difficult, and it is hard in such an atmosphere for reporters to nail down specifics. "Five people doing a run-of-the-mill story takes forever," he said.

Take that Damien Cave! Take that Sabrina Tavernise! Take that Richard A. Oppel, Jr.! Dexy's got places to be and he can't there with his own baggage so he's out to out you all.

Dexy learned to pull his own ass from the fire when he reviewed Paul Bremer's book. In that review, Dexy took Bremer to task for not coming clean sooner -- and revealed that he (Dexy) knew about it in real time but also didn't come clean. C.I. called him out. Danny Schechter called him out. CounterSpin managed to give it a few seconds where they noted that he shouldn't be dependent upon an official source to report what he's seen with his own eyes.

Maybe you missed the book review? Here's a taste of "Desert Sturm:"

But [Paul L.] Bremer bears a heavy responsibility for keeping silent -- and so does General Sanchez. If we can ssume that Bremer's recollection is correct, then General Sanchez's remarks indicate that Baghdad was indeed out of control, that both he and Bremer knew it and that without more troops, it was likely to stay out of control.
[. . .]
By staying silent, Bremer ensured that there would be no public debate on the merits of deploying more Americans troops. By staying silent, he ensured that there would be little public discussion over the condition of the Iraqi security forces, whose quality he doubted.

By staying silent? Dexy wants to lecture about staying silent? As C.I. observed the day the review ran, "He can pretend like the only one staying silent was Bremer but it was him too. Had the Times written the truth about the occupation long ago, America might have woken up sooner."

The lies that got us into war need to be explored. So do the lies that kept us there. Chief among the liars, Dexy. As Christian Parenti once explained to Laura Flanders (when it was titled The Laura Flanders Show), Dexy in print and Dexy in person are two different people. Well thank God for that. (Parenti's point was that Dexy didn't believe everything under his byline.)

That's the Dexy who was due to interview someone from the resistance but, always eager to brag, shot off his mouth to the military who, according to an embedded reporter present, gave him a frown and Dexy dropped the interview immediately. The military's go-to-guy, outed this year in The Washington Post, couldn't very well bite the hand that feeds him.

The "award winning" piece? From C.I.'s entry the day it ran in 2004: "The rah-rah piece carries the dateline "Nov. 18" in this story published in the November 21st edition. Allowing for the time needed to put together a Sunday edition, I'm still questioning that. The story was filed on the 18th (Thursday) and pops up on the 21st (Sunday). And there's the added detail, not provided in Dexter Filkins story, that Lance Cpl. William Miller died November 15th ( we're all supposed to count the 'eight days after the Americans entered the city on foot'?" You'd have to. When did Dexy write the piece and why did it take so long for it to appear in print? Was it, as some suspect and suggest, vetted by the US military before it even made it to the paper?

That's the sort of question Dexy's avoided answering for some time. Easier for him to distract from his own misdeeds by pointing fingers at Miller, Chalabi and Bremer. But, though he doesn't want to address it, Dexy had a role in it too. Though now that Dexy's out of the Green Zone, it's common to read a piece in the paper that notes the reporter was unable to verify something that happened or wasn't present. That didn't happen with Dexy even though by the time of his 'award winning' piece, the Green Zone was the only safe place unless you had a military escort.

This month Dexy's all mean and nasty about Chalibi. There was a time when he (Dexy) swallowed. Now he appears more interested in snow jobs.

We're all supposed to be grateful that Dexy finally told the truth. On one aspect. He still can't get honest about Falluja. He still can't get honest about a lot of things. So much so, in fact, that we're guessing in three years, Miss Rona will pen another tell-all that will include Rita Katz the apparently Muslim phobic non-'expert' who would provide Dexy with questionable translations that would make it into the paper. Word for word.

We're not fond of Katz. We believe she's as destructive as those in the 50s who saw Communists in every nook and cranny, every community meeting, every family. Even so, we'll give her a tip: Don't just watch your back.

Watch your back is the minimum. Dexy's burned anyone and everyone as he's tried to paint himself as a truth telling voice of honesty. He will burn again. Those who fed him information should be prepared for that moment with a Dexy dossier that they can immediately distribute. "He said what? Well, let me share with you September of 2004 . . ."

Judith Miller may never work for a reputable press outlet again. We're not shedding tears. But we think it's rather sad that so many others have been let off the hook.

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