Sunday, March 24, 2013

TV: Goody's COIN cover-up

Maybe it wasn't Amy Goodman's fault that some radio stations her TV and radio show aired on last week were in pledge mode.  Even so, Friday she came off not just like her usual beggar self.  There she was talking about how important the 'journalism' she does is and how it needs you help (dig in your pocket for her) to afford it and all Friday really was was Goody talking to a British journalist and playing video of an investigative report she didn't do.


Let's clarify that.  It's not just that she didn't do the investigative report, it's that it didn't cost her.  British public television and England's Guardian newspaper paid for it.  Goody put it this way, "As we continue to mark the 10th anniversary of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, we turn today to a shocking new report by The Guardian newspaper and BBC Arabic detailing how the United States armed and trained Iraqi police commando units that ran torture centers and death squads."

A shocking new report?  We'll we're in.  Oh, wait.  She was talking about James Steele: America's Mystery Man In Iraq -- the documentary we covered in "TV: The War Crimes Documentary" two weeks ago.

14 days late and playing it cheap, Goody decided to kind-of, sort-of get serious.

Or as serious as a Class of '79 Harvard Whore can.

We were tipped off by a friend at The Guardian that the paper's Maggie O'Kane was asked not to use the term "counter-insurgency"  during her appearance on Democracy Now!

If you've seen the documentary, you know that counter-insurgency is what the documentary's all  about.

Counter-insurgency is war on a native population.

It's pimped by Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights.  It's especially pimped by Sarah Sewall.  Goody and Sewer have such a peculiar relationship.  We're reminded of another peculiar one, when actress Patsy Kelly was Tallulah Bankhead's maid and used to give Bankhead "vulvular massages."  The world didn't discover that until after Tallulah was dead and gone.  Who knows what will later be learned about Goody and Sewer?

Goody's also had a curious career embrace of the CIA that goes far beyond regularly booking CIA contractors and assets (Juan Cole is only the tip of the iceberg there).  Maybe others will join Lew Rockwell in questioning Goody?

Counter-insurgency always involves spooks.

Is that what spooked Goody?  Had her insist the guest purge the term from the discussion?

The term is used three times in the forty-four minute segments as excerpts are played.  But it's near the end when O'Kane breaks Goody's imposed rule.

Maggie O'Kane:   And also that there was one man whose history goes back through so many of America’s wars. And I think it's indicative of a very dysfunctional, brutal time, that I hope this film will be a legacy that actually says, if you want to go to war, this is what war means. It means 14-year-old boys being hung up and tortured. It means men being turned on spits. And that's called "counterinsurgency." So I just feel it's important that this information comes out, and I'm shocked, in a way, that we want to forget it. 

Amy Goodman:  And as we wrap up, I wanted to turn to Bradley Manning,

Yeah, she cut O'Kane off very quickly.

Goody didn't want to talk about counter-insurgency.

And when she went to quote political prisoner and whistle blower Bradley Manning on why he leaked documents to WikiLeaks, she didn't go the money quote:

I felt we were risking so much for people who seemed unwilling to cooperate with us, leading to frustration and hatred on both sides. I began to become depressed at the situation we found ourselves mired in year after year. In attempting counterinsurgency operations, we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists.  I wanted the public to know that not everyone living in Iraq were targets to be neutralized.

 No, she went to the technical jargon quote about "CIDNE-1" that she didn't bother to explain and that most listeners won't be able to decipher themselves.

She deliberately omitted counter-insurgency from the discussion of a documentary about counter-insurgency.

That should bother all of her viewers and listeners.

Counter-insurgency is at the heart of the British documentary.  It's a policy.  Goody wanted to reduce it to random acts of torture with no real American fingerprints on the crimes.  To hear Goody tell it and offer selective edits of the documentary, James Steele trained some bad guys and that's really all.

Last week, the national radio program Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights), was able to explore the topic of counter-insurgency with journalist Patrick Farrelly who was part of the  BBC Arabic and the Guardian newspaper investigative team behind the documentary  James Steele: America's Mystery Man In Iraq.  Strange though, the guest and the hosts were able to use the term counter-insurgency.

Heidi Boghosian was able to accurately capture it as "mass intimidation."  That's what it is.  Counter-insurgency is meant to scare a people into submission, to frighten them to the point that they will not defend themselves.  Michael Smith was able to point out that it was used in Vietnam.  Michael Ratner made many substantive points.

But on Democracy Now! -- the so-called "war and peace report" -- it was nothing but random acts of torture carried out by Iraqis on other Iraqis with some US knowledge of what was taking place.

That's an utter lie.

Counter-insurgency is an instrument to terrorize people.  The US institutionalized it in Iraq.  They had elevated one group of Iraqis above others and they taught that group about using torture.  They taught them to use torture on their political rivals.  They taught them to use it to silence rivals and to silence opposition.

You don't really get that from Amy Goodman's 44-plus minutes on the topic.

Some day, maybe real soon, people will start asking why that is.  It's not like counter-insurgency lovers don't keep hawking COIN every change they get.  Foreign Policy just did a roundtable on it last week that played out like a glossy, over-produced informercial with the exception of a brief moment of reality provided by Elliot Cohen:

The first thing is just to remind us all, counterinsurgency is a kind of military operation. There's an American style to counterinsurgency; there was a German style to counterinsurgency; there's a Soviet or Russian style to counterinsurgency. It's just a kind of operation that militaries do, and I think particularly in the popular discussion there's this tendency to call counterinsurgency the kind of stuff that's in the manual.
[. . .]
And finally, having played a very modest role in helping get the COIN manual launched, I've got two big reservations about it. Actually three. One is a technical one, which is it underestimated the killing part of counterinsurgency and particularly what Stan McChrystal and his merry men were doing [with special operations]. I think that is a large part of our counterinsurgency success. We killed a lot of the people who needed to be killed, or captured them, and that's not something you want to talk about. You'd rather talk about building power plants and stuff, but the killing part was really important, and I think we have to wrestle with that one because it's obviously problematic.

That's the reality Goody avoided.  Again, some day people will be asking why that avoidance took place.  In the meantime, she gets to pretend she's a journalist and that she's on our side.

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