Betray-us, or Westmoreland redux? You decide.
By Gareth Porter*
WASHINGTON, Jun 12, 2011 (IPS) - During his intensive initial round of media interviews as commander in Afghanistan in August 2010, Gen. David Petraeus released figures to the news media that claimed spectacular success for raids by Special Operations Forces: in a 90-day period from May through July, SOF units had captured 1,355 rank and file Taliban, killed another 1,031, and killed or captured 365 middle or high-ranking Taliban.
The claims of huge numbers of Taliban captured and killed continued through the rest of 2010. In December, Petraeus’s command said a total of 4,100 Taliban rank and file had been captured in the previous six months and 2,000 had been killed.
Those figures were critical to creating a new media narrative hailing the success of SOF operations as reversing what had been a losing U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.
But it turns out that more than 80 percent of those called captured Taliban fighters were released within days of having been picked up, because they were found to have been innocent civilians, according to official U.S. military data.
Even more were later released from the main U.S. detention facility at Bagram airbase called the Detention Facility in Parwan after having their files reviewed by a panel of military officers.
The timing of Petraeus’s claim of Taliban fighters captured or killed, moreover, indicates that he knew that four out of five of those he was claiming as “captured Taliban rank and file” were not Taliban fighters at all.
Kudos to FAIR for helping cultivate the long memory.
01/14/2011 by Peter Hart
As we approach the Monday holiday, we’re hearing a Pentagon lawyer suggest that Martin Luther King would support the war in Afghanistan. That makes it an ideal time to recall a 1995 column by FAIR founder Jeff Cohen and longtime associate Norman Solomon (Media Beat, 1/4/95). The full column appears below, and is archived here.
The Martin Luther King You Don’t See on TV
by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon
By 1967, King had also become the country’s most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at New York’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967—a year to the day before he was murdered—King called the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”
From Vietnam to South Africa to Latin America, King said, the U.S. was “on the wrong side of a world revolution.” King questioned “our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America,” and asked why the U.S. was suppressing revolutions “of the shirtless and barefoot people” in the Third World, instead of supporting them.
In foreign policy, King also offered an economic critique, complaining about “capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries.”
You haven’t heard the “Beyond Vietnam” speech on network news retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967—and loudly denounced it. Life magazine called it “demagogic slander that sounded like a script forRadio Hanoi.” The Washington Post patronized that “King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.”
In 1968 a new phase is now starting. We have reached an important point when the end begins to come into view.
Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the Government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fever and foreign shot and shell. In my view, far from deserving condemnation for their courageous reporting, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other newspapers should be commended for serving the purpose that the Founding Fathers saw so clearly. In revealing the workings of government that led to the Vietnam war, the newspapers nobly did precisely that which the founders hoped and trusted they would do.
From Justice Hugo L. Black’s concurring opinion in the Supreme Court’s historic decision in favor of the New York Times.
Just now I pulled down my paperback copy of The Pentagon Papers (1971), (blew off the dust,) and found this quote on the inside front cover. Critics of WikiLeaks should take heed.
We can’t forget Jackson State either.
40 Years Ago: Police Kill Two Students at Jackson State in Mississippi, Ten Days After Kent State Killings
Four decades ago, on May 4, 1970, four students were killed at Kent State University when National Guardsmen opened fire on hundreds of unarmed students at an on-campus antiwar rally. The killings received national media attention and are still remembered forty years later across the country. But the media has largely forgotten what happened just ten days after the Kent State shootings. On May 14, 1970, local and state police opened fire on a group of students at the predominantly black Jackson State College in Mississippi. In a twenty-eight-second barrage of gunfire, police fired hundreds of rounds into the crowd. Two were killed and a dozen injured. We speak with Gene Young, a former student at Jackson State who witnessed the shooting. [includes rush transcript]