Dissecting the Mainstream Media

Part 2- Pressure Points

‘Pressure’ is one of those buzzwords you hear in almost all discussions involving the mainstream media and related topics: Government Pressure, Corporate Pressure, Special Interest & Lobby Pressure, Management Pressure, Colleagues Pressure…It’s always pressure - whether its pressure placed directly on the reporter, editor, or on the board and or ownership…So how does it work? How much pressure? What methods are used? Of course, the answer largely depends on ‘who’ the pressure comes from (government or corporate or …), ‘who’ is the target of the pressure (is it the source, the reporter, etc.). For this post I am going to focus on what’s referred to as ‘government pressure,’ provide you with my take by providing context and case examples, and then let you bring in yours.

Just to make sure you understand - I don’t claim to be an expert, nor do I pretend to have all the right answers. I am drawing upon eight years of direct first hand experience in dealing with the media on my case, four years of interaction with the MSM on and with our organization and our National Security Whistleblowers, and years of association and friendship with many journalists, authors, attorneys and experts active in the area of national security and civil liberties. I am still seeking answers and looking for solutions…


Flexing Muscles

Many cases of the government resorting to intimidation and harassment to prevent a story from coming out go unreported. I suppose this proves the effectiveness of this method. The flexing muscles method ranges from subtle threats to overt harassment. Many of these cases go unreported simply because the ‘pressure’ takes care of the ‘problem,’ and the ‘pressured’ party, either due to the shame of giving in or the fear of ‘further pressure,’ goes mum into their grave.

Here is a case where government agents’ muscle flexing through overt harassment did not go unreported because the target happened to be an investigative journalist with a proven track record and integrity; a rare breed, indeed:

Bill Conroy is an editor at the San Antonio Business Journal and a contributing journalist for Narco News and an author. The Reports Committee for Freedom of the Press was one of very few outlets to report the story of the government’s harassment and intimidation, targeting Conroy for his reporting of a leaked memo regarding the centralized database for tracking terrorists.

“A leaked memo from the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security sparked its officials to interview a writer last month in an attempt to discover his source for an article on the online news service Narco News.”

You can read the story and the leaked memo in question here. The memo divulged that DHS supervisory agents in the field were directed to alter terrorism related files without preserving their original versions. This is equivalent to shredding during the pre-computer era. Rather important, right? The government then sent some agents who apparently were instructed to teach Conroy a lesson or two:

“Two agents came to his home and spoke to his wife while Conroy was at work, and appeared at his office the next day. Conroy, an editor at the San Antonio Business Journal, contributes to Narco News. The agents spoke to Conroy as well as his boss at the Journal in an apparent attempt to intimidate him into revealing his source, said Ron Tonkin, Conroy's attorney.”

So they send a couple of tough looking agents with a mission to intimidate and harass. Send the agents to the target reporter’s office and have them treat him as a ‘criminal suspect,’ and make sure his colleagues and boss are around to watch… Send them to his house, make sure the neighbors see the agents knock on his door and flash their badges, and instruct them to intimidate the spouse and or the children. You might be surprised to learn how many ‘targeted reporters’ actually do get ‘pressured’ out of reporting in cases like this; how many divulge sources; and how many pledge not to ever enter the ‘no no zone’ again. Bill Conroy didn’t, but Conroy is among a tiny group…

“Bill Conroy did not divulge the source of the leak in his article and refused to when agents visited his home and workplace on May 23 and 24, respectively, asking for his sources in the department.”

And guess what? In the end, they couldn’t do anything to him. Shouldn’t this be a lesson to reporters who follow a different path?

“Although the agents reportedly mentioned speaking to the U.S. attorney, implying they might obtain a subpoena for the information, no such order has been issued. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton of the western district of Texas declined comment. Calls to the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Office of Professional Responsibility were not returned.”

Intimidation can also come in the form of a legal bluff. This approach seems to be gaining popularity since the September 11 attacks. The government can, and has been, using ‘National Security’ to declare many embarrassing or incriminating stories ‘classified.’ This allows them to flash their ‘we’ll take you to court’ card, and wait to see whether the target publication or reporter decides to ‘hold or fold or walk away.’

Let’s look at New York Times reporter James Risen’s case:

“A federal grand jury has issued a subpoena to a reporter of The New York Times, apparently to try to force him to reveal his confidential sources for a 2006 book on the Central Intelligence Agency, one of the reporter’s lawyers said Thursday.”

The same article emphasized that this trend is not isolated:

“Mr. Risen, who is based in Washington and specializes in intelligence issues, is the latest of several reporters to face subpoenas in leak investigations overseen by the Justice Department.”

How many reporters can afford the hefty legal fees to fight a case like this in court, when the government has at its disposal unlimited resources in dollars, legal maneuvering expertise, and manpower? Not many, I can assure you. Lucky lucky Risen! As for publications, also not many who’ll be willing. And unfortunately, not many reporters can easily secure pro-bono representation by a civil liberties organization with enough muscle to challenge the government. Thus many at an early stage, when ‘pressured’ by threats of legal action, give in and abandon a story yet to be written. Then add to this the recently revealed NSA targeting of journalists and you get the kind of pressure that may even eliminate the need for legal threats. Just the knowledge of being monitored is enough ‘pressure’ to dissuade many editors and reporters from pursuing‘radioactive’ cases in the first place.

The same government intimidation and threat tactics are also applied to ‘sources.’ Here is a brief account of my own experience:

In 2002, a few days before the airing of the CBS-60 Minutes segment on my case, my attorneys received a letter by fax from the Justice Department attorneys. The letter was to let us know that I would be pursued legally and severely if I went through with this interview. They strongly claimed that any information I was to disclose was being considered ‘classified.’ Of course, my attorneys knew better, and we didn’t bulge. And low and behold no ‘action’ ever came from the government following the airing of the segment. It was bluff, threat and intimidation; just that.

Not only did the government try to stop my appearance on the program, they took similar action with another FBI whistleblower, John Roberts, who also was interviewed for that same segment.


Source Pressures

Everyone knows ‘high-level government sources’ to reporters on politics and intelligence related matters is what the rolodex is in business. The net-worth, the value, of these reporters is frequently judged based on their ‘access.’ Sure; it makes sense. First, a reporter tries to make his/her way up the chain and establish the ‘relationship and trust’ necessary for this access. Next, and equally important, is to ‘maintain’ this relationship. This too makes sense, and is part of the job. Now, the question is, at what price? What are the things a reporter is willing to do, how far is he/she willing to go to ‘maintain’ his or her access?

Successful experienced journalists with a solid sense of ethics and integrity are good at ‘balancing’ when it comes to ‘source maintenance.’ This appears to be one of those disappearing qualities within the mainstream media. When the publication, the editors, lean towards, sorry, bend over, the government’s angle on stories, the reporters follow by compromising ‘a lot’ to keep and maintain their news/information ‘feeders’ within the government agencies.

I am going to provide you with another first-hand witnessed and documented incident. The only reason I am not naming ‘the well-known reporter & publication’ is to protect the source who obtained and passed on the incriminating documented evidence - the communication that occurred in writing between him and this particular ‘reporter.’

The individual who dealt with the congressional and press side of my case during the early stages of my whistleblowing journey wrote an e-mail to a well-known and well-placed journalist, saying, ‘Man, I can’t believe you guys did not cover this!!! Ashcroft comes out and invokes the State Secrets Privilege, first time ever asserted by the Bush administration, and you don’t write about it?! What the hell, man?! What’s the deal? I sent you the press release and attached a bunch of documents on that e-mail…’

Here is the response from that well-known journalist, and stupidly enough in writing: ‘I was going to call you. A few months ago I finally got this big DOJ guy, I mean BIG! Our deal-exclusive. You can’t do better than that in Washington. Anyhow, he doesn’t want us to touch Edmonds’ story. Period. I am not going to piss off my source for some God Damn translator whistleblower…’

The reporter’s refusal to cover the story was irrational - the State Secrets Privilege invocation was first released through an official DOJ press release and other major publications ran with the news. So what does this tell you? To maintain high-level government sources well-known reporters cut deals like this: You be my man, and I and what I cover will be yours. Unfortunately, through several reporter friends I was given many more examples and was told ‘that’s the name of the game when it comes to covering politics and government in this city.’

Soft Pressures

I touched on this type of pressure in the previous piece and in my last op-ed, and the recent revelations on Harman-New York Times provides both the context and case example. The fact that the NSA, DOJ and whatever other agency can softly ask the editors and management of the New York Times to sit on a major story involving criminal government action against it’s own people for over a year, and the request be complied with. The fact that a Congresswoman has enough ‘ins and pull’ to dial the decision-makers’ number at the New York Times and ask them ‘as a favor’ to not publish a story. The fact that a LA Times editor dutifully reports to NSA its source’s disclosure on wiretapping and the AT&T, takes his marching orders, comes back, and kills the story.

You see what I mean? There are many, many ‘soft pressure’ cases out there.

As with the various theories on the factors contributing to MSM degradation, the pressure styles can also be applied in combination. While the Justice Department attorneys are ‘flexing muscles’ by threatening the information source with legal action, their Attorney General or Deputy or whomever can be making his ‘soft’ call to dissuade the editor from moving forward with the story, and their Special Agent in Charge of whatever department may be summoning his ‘pet reporter’ to ban him from working on this same target story.

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Comments

  1. These stories shed light on the MO of the perpetrators to control the media. It’s interesting that the control doesn’t necessarily come from the top down, but also is aimed at the working reporter.

    In keeping with your “turning it back onto the media” theme, it seems that a good story that names names could come from your protected source. I know that is a personal/professional risk for him or her, but it seems like this is a domino that could fall and maybe knock a couple more down.

    Thanks for writing!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Just wow!!!

  3. Kathleen M. Dickson says:

    Keep up the heat, girlfriend.
    We’re with ya.

    Kathleen M. Dickson
    http://www.actionlyme.org

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ok – so what else is new? You describe a lack of professionalism – nothing more. You get a lawyer and you sue the departments involved for harassment. Get Motley Rice, and he’ll get us all a tax rebate the size of the federal budget!

    How about focusing on the cowardice of the bums who always cave in!? That’s the real problem with our society – its the moral cowards, who can only take a stand against Racism – because that’s soo easy – but can’t be bothered with the kind of issues you raise. Because whatever the cause – what you point out, is still atrocious, and needs to be fought. But cowards can’t fight – they are overpaid for what they do – if they can’t stand up to a “Big” DoJ thug who doesn’t understand that he is out-of-line.

    As bad is it all sounds – its nothing compared to what happens in other countries – including “developed” ones. You’re describing bureaucratic disfunction. Nothing centralised, or organised. I’m sure Mr. Aftergood could come up with a thousand more examples.

    In the end, it is in America we get the most FOIA request, and access to our archives – try the same stuff anywhere (again, anywhere), and see what you can get. Even Scandinavia, you’ll get diddley squat.

    Anon the Neocon
    PS. I’ve always respected you for your grit and courage Mrs. Edmonds. But I still think you need to hear the other side – and their reasoning before you come to sweeping sociological and political conclusions.

  5. To Anonymous Anon:

    You describe the use of intel officers to intimidate journalists as a lack of professionalism. And then ask Ms. Edmonds to hear the other side’s reasoning.

    I’m not sure who the other side is. Who are you talking about?

    In your comparison to other countries, I believe you are missing the point. You might want to consider the direction our republic is taking (in terms of facism) and start making some comparisons to the direction other countries have taken – going from transparency and democracy to corporate government and fear-driven police statehood.

  6. Palo Verde says:

    (from Sibel’s blog entry) The government then sent some agents who apparently were instructed to teach Bill Conroy a lesson or two:

    “Two agents came to his home and spoke to his wife while Conroy was at work, and appeared at his office the next day…

    “So they send a couple of tough looking agents with a mission to intimidate and harass. Send the agents to the target reporter’s office and have them treat him as a ‘criminal suspect,’ and make sure his colleagues and boss are around to watch… Send them to his house, make sure the neighbors see the agents knock on his door and flash their badges, and instruct them to intimidate the spouse and or the children.”

    You might be surprised to learn how many ‘targeted reporters’ actually do get ‘pressured’ out of reporting in cases like this; how many divulge sources; and how many pledge not to ever enter the ‘no no zone’ again. Bill Conroy didn’t, but Conroy is among a tiny group…

    “Bill Conroy did not divulge the source of the leak in his article and refused to when agents visited his home and workplace on May 23 and 24, respectively, asking for his sources in the department.”

    And guess what? In the end, they couldn’t do anything to him. Shouldn’t this be a lesson to reporters who follow a different path? Bravo to courageous whistle-blowers like Bill Conroy and Sibel Edmonds
    Where they get their courage from I do not know
    They are great patriots
    I am so thankful to them
    Love, Palo

  7. Sibel Edmonds says:

    Zica: I am still trying to persuade her/him. This person’s current job depends upon ‘access’ to reporters, and it’s a tough sell.

    Kathleen: Thanks for the support; it is our fight; collectively.

    Anon the Neocon: No new screen name yet? Okay, as for FOIA and Europe, and bureaucratic government there, I don’t disagree. However, who made the comparison with European countries anyway? They don’t have ‘First Amendment’ either…oh, and their compliance with US extraordinary rendition wins a lot of points with the Neocons; doesn’t it? Since it seems to be one of the preferred and strongly supported Neocon methods/means?!
    As for hiring law firms: Who can afford 100 hours of $400/hr, when the gov has in its disposal $$$ for 1000s of hours?

    Anon on CBS: I suggest you go back and read the paragraph again, and do so diligently. That example was on Pressure on ‘Sources.’ Source is not a ‘reporter.’ The DOJ pressure was placed on me (the source for CBS) and Roberts (the other source for CBS). I know it’s a lengthy piece and hard to digest all at once. Hope this answers your confusion.

  8. Palo Verde says:

    (Sibel on James Risen, NY Times)

    Thus many at an early stage, when ‘pressured’ by threats of legal action, give in and abandon a story yet to be written.

    Then add to this the recently revealed NSA targeting of journalists and you get the kind of pressure that may even eliminate the need for legal threats.

    Just the knowledge of being monitored is enough ‘pressure’ to dissuade many editors and reporters from pursuing ‘radioactive’ cases in the first place. I had no idea there were reporters like James Risen of NY Times, courageous and principled enough to report the truth
    But how many can stand up to a pattern of harassment and threats by government
    And how many editors and publishers would allow them to report courageously and truthfully
    when caving to government pressure
    is such an easy way out

    Sibel asks us to help her find solutions
    What solution is there?
    The only thing I can think of is to vote this corrupt government out of office
    and replace it with honest people

  9. arealjeffersonian says:

    Another great post. For a person like me with no experience dealing with the MSM this series is truly eye-opening. I have to admit that until now when I read a paper or watched a ‘news’ program I concerned myself only with what was being reported, and gave no thought to what stories might NOT be there. In reading this series it strikes me that perhaps what we don’t read or hear may be more important that what we do.

    To Anon the Neocon: Methinks you are a little too quick to attribute what Sibel presents as simply “a lack of professionalism”. I read the link she provided on John Roberts – do you think that was just ” bureaucratic disfunction”? Come on!!

    And re your comment ” In the end, it is in America we get the most FOIA request…” Why do we need a “Freedom of Information Act” in the first place? Don’t we tout ourselves as being citizens of a nation with a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”, and as such, doesn’t information as to what “our” government is doing in our name belong to us – without the need to beg for it?

  10. Palo Verde says:

    (Sibel) Then add to this the recently revealed NSA targeting of journalists and you get the kind of pressure that may even eliminate the need for legal threats.

    Just the knowledge of being monitored is enough ‘pressure’ to dissuade many editors and reporters from pursuing ‘radioactive’ cases in the first place. We have a government of crooks, all we can do is vote them out of power as fast as we can
    and vote good people in
    Love, Palo

  11. Anonymous says:

    Another good, very recent example of another kind of subtle pressure to which media can be subjected involves the recent Chrysler bankruptcy. It was reported that Thomas Lauria, a bankruptcy attorney for hedge fund investors, claimed that Steven Rattner, head of the Obama administration Auto Industry Task Force threatened to ruin his reputation if he didn’t cave into the Administration demands. Although the WH denied the threat was made, it appears to be quite plausible because according to Wikipedia Rattner is a founding partner of Quadrangle Group, which invests globally in media and communications; Mr Rattner himself apparently has notable media connections; and to top it all off, his wife is the former finance chair of the Democratic Party. I don’t believe the White House’s denial for one second. There is probably more to come.

  12. Palo Verde says:

    (Sibel) Of course, my attorneys knew better, and we didn’t budge. And low and behold no ‘action’ ever came from the government following the airing of the segment. It was bluff, threat and intimidation; just that. Some people are not willing to go thru the harassment, intimidation, threats
    God bless our courageous whistle-blowers who are
    we would be lost without them
    Love, Palo

  13. Hi Sibel,

    Thanks for another excellent piece. Here are a couple of related articles on this subject – other ways to manipulate the media and reporters. Relates to David Barstow’s Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting (In regards to the Pentagon pushing their line on the war) being totally ignored.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/06/us/06generals.html

    http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/thegaggle/archive/2009/04/24/barstow-who.aspx

    Hugs,
    Dennis

  14. Palo Verde says:

    Zica said…

    These stories shed light on the MO of the perpetrators to control the media. It’s interesting that the control doesn’t necessarily come from the top down, but also is aimed at the working reporter. Zica, thank you for your comment
    It is interesting and perceptive what you said
    and I did not know that either

    And I too appreciate it Sibel wrote this article, which is so illuminating

    Love, Palo

  15. Palo Verde says:

    I just read all the comments
    They are interesting and thought-provoking
    I realize from reading them all, that one solution would be to have journalists with more courage
    passion for truth
    and determination to save our country
    If only our valorous soldiers in the field now were our journalists
    Love, Palo

  16. Palo Verde says:

    (by Zica to Sibel)
    In keeping with your “turning it back onto the media” theme, it seems that a good story that names names could come from your protected source. I know that is a personal/professional risk for him or her, but it seems like this is a domino that could fall and maybe knock a couple more down.

    Thanks for writing!Zica, this is excellent what you write
    Love, Palo

  17. Palo Verde says:

    Hi Sibel
    This is an excellent article you wrote today
    It is hard-hitting, informative, clear
    I learned a lot from it that I did not know
    I appreciate you writing it
    I posted it on a news forum I am on, because I thought others would want to read it too
    Love, Palo

  18. (sorry if this posted twice.)

    Palo Verde mentioned that all we can do is vote bad reps out and good ones in. While I think that is vital, there is more that we can do.

    For example, Ralph Nader is promoting a group called Single Payer Action, which raises money from the public for activities that go beyond and disrupt the normal bureaucratic and political methods, in order to promote single payer health care (Medicare for all). (* This is an example – let’s not digress into a discussion of this topic in particular)

    These actions have been taken by professionals with relevant knowledge and experience, in order to break through the wall of media silence. This is somewhat different from laypeople going out to demonstrate, in that it’s not about sheer numbers, but about focused actions done by people who can speak well to the issue at hand.

    I think that, if there were an organization, such as the whistleblowers group which you have, that could expand its agenda to fundraising and getting appropriate volunteers for strategic actions, many of us laypeople would help to fund it.

    Just a thought…

  19. Anonymous says:

    Zica:

    Yes, there is much we can do. However, single payer health care is a different subject altogether.
    Closer to the subject of voting them out of office would be election reform – dealt with well before the election rolls around.
    Clearly we want to have qualified voters, and most importantly we want to KNOW our vote was counted. Electronic voting inherently tabulates the vote in secret.
    2 years ago, the “We the People” foundation filed suit against each of the 50 states to stop this practice. The constitution says you have a right to know your vote was counted. Please support the National Clean Elections Lawsuit by “We the People”. Last week, preparations began in New York state for the first jury trial.

  20. Metemneurosis says:

    I think I know how to solve our problems with political corruption. Sibel Edmonds for President!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Hi, Sibel, thanks for all your wonderful and (especially) courageous work. One story you should be all over is that of Sue Arrigo. It is the sheer equivalent of political dynamite in the post 9/11 era, and there hasn’t been a breath of it in the MSM.

    Bob Coffey

  22. Anonymous says:

    To repeat what others have said, thank you for another great post – this is a special series – I’m discovering how little I know of what goes on within the MSM. While this series is focused on the MSM, and rightfully so, maybe at some point you can do a follow up on the “bad guys” within the government who are doing the manipulating.

    I read Anon the Neocon’s comment that you “need to hear the other side”. I assume he/she is talking about their own side, and its true, we all need to hear more of “their” side, and more to the point, they need to hear more of your side. Hopefully Anon will bring in some others who will be exposed to ideas outside their immediate universe; and then perhaps it won’t be so easy for those in power to then “mislead” Anon and his/her colleagues.

    Markum

  23. Kathleen M. Dickson says:

    If only our valorous soldiers in the field now were our journalists
    Love, Palo
    ============

    Yep, and the USDOJ, the frackin LAWYERS; if only the derned LAWYERS would grow a pair as big as Sibel’s.

    Kathleen

  24. Anon the Neocon:

    “You describe a lack of professionalism – nothing more.”

    I think it’s more than that. Sibel is describing how, even in a free society, the press can be manipulated by government authorities. She is not the first one to write about this problem, nor will she be the last. She is just providing another, stark example of it.

    I remember the case of Ray Bonner of the NY Times, and how the Reagan Administration pressured the NY Times to pull him away from reporting the massacres in El Salvador that were being committed by the Salvadoran military in the 1980s. Bonner wouldn’t cave in to the heat but the Times certainly did. Bonner ended up quitting and became a freelancer after the Times pulled him off the Central American Bureau.

    While this kind of control by the U.S. government may not be unique to America, it is another aspect of our media that the public needs to be aware of. Even in a society with a so-called ‘free press’, centralized authority has enormous influence over what gets published.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Anon the Neocon here-

    No new screen name, because it’s too much a hassle – I’m bad with computers.

    As for the comparison – and first amendment. Well, my point was, that really what you point out, is simply a lack of professionalism, and courage. This is clear when we compare what you describe with other countries – all of whom claim the same rights to their citizens as the US – and all of whom have FOIA and freedom of information policies – which somehow never get as fully implemented as in the USA. This shows that there is no greater conspiracy by any one group – what we find are imperfect systems – that have reached their limits of perfection. It also means, that the government isn’t the problem, its people’s attitudes in general – cowardice is a social problem.

    On renditions – again, not all Neocons are equal. Some of us take a tough stand against torture and renditions. But we also want a faster and more efficient legal system for dealing with transnational crime – take a look at Somalia, where you can’t even try a pirate, without the agreement of Adis-Ababa in Ethiopia (only place currently
    with some kind of jurisdiction).

    One more thing about corruption – I wonder if you’ve ever read Harold Wilensky. He has a classic on how organizations work. I think it is far more revealing than what’s being thrown out here.

    Although I appreciate each and everyone of your revelations- you should be at Foreignpolicy.com – they have Walt, they could have you. But they are part of the Washington Post group – hey, who knows. Worth a try.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Anon the Neocon to Miguel.

    I agree with you – and its important that we are aware of such pressures – but at the same time – they are legitimate pressures, and I don’t see anything wrong with them.

    But here is what I would say in response to this – if you read the FCC guidelines on foreign ownership of US mainstream media, you begin to understand that we are not an open information society. No society in the world is. We are very careful to regulate content that can reach a mass audience. One of the reasons Murdoch became a US citizen, was to deal with the FCC. Al-Jazeera, was nominally rejected by satellite carriers – but it would have never passed FCC guidelines anyway. If you observe, all the “foreign” and “immigrant” media we have in America, none of it belongs to other states – unless it is broadcast in short burst on one international cable channel, and/or in the language of origin (in which case it is easier to get). But I think this is a poorly understood area in terms of general awareness, and one of which experts and foreign policy wigs are keenly aware.

    Why do we have such laws?

    Because there is a wealth of rather understudied literature, which illuminates the impact of mass communication on populations. This is the theoretical background to FCC law (and particularly a few subcommittees – forgive me, its been a while since I had anything to do with it).

    Look, to sum it up – the media are embedded in a state, in a body politic, and the limits imposed on them are multiple – they are hard to understand without sound theoretical approaches, or a very keen eye, but the limits are on all sides. Just off the top of my head I remember Lowell Bermans interview with Berkeley’s what’ his name – you know, the history program – he tells you Lowell, that Frontline is a mix of Riefenstahl (nazi pr) and hollywood – and its limiting, and its a fairytale – listen to the interview (its online) – and this is just a sociological tid-bit.

    So the limits abound, because you cannot separate the media from the host society – naturally – and some of those limits must be national security limits.

    I mean didn’t you guys understand what Brewster Jennings was about? It’s right up Sibel’s alley. The networks involved were mostly via Turkey! As a result of the revelations, at least 3 CIA assets were murdered, and massive information was compromised. It hurt us – and so with Sibel, it’s almost the same story – at some stage, it poses a threat to our security. It’s only reasonable, that the media do not repeat the Valerie Plame incident – and in the case of Sibel – we are talking apparent idealism – but that’s not something you can take at face value when you are sitting at the levers of power. Nor can you sacrifice your assets for someone’s idealism.

    I hope this is at least partly interesting for you.

  27. Sibel Edmonds says:

    I truly enjoyed reading the comments so far; some nicely articulated view points. I am learning, and this is exactly what I was hopping for but was skeptical about.

    Miguel: You made a very good point that needs to be emphasized over and over: The danger of escalating control, since there is no stopping point. One of the most dangerous thing about this: the gradual expansion of power and authority. It doesn’t happen over night, it builds up, people systematically get desensitized, it builds up and expands further…and no one will be able to tell when we get there: the police state. One example: torture- a few pictures of Abu Ghraib to now talking about 2000 additional pictures that may or may not be released. At some point it may end being treated as another fact of life, not condoned by the majority, but accepted nonetheless.

    Anon the Neocon: I am bad with computers too. So the name will stay:-) Cowardice: that’s a good point, we may not mean it or implement it in the same way, but as a factor it counts. On Wilensky: I am not familiar with him or his work, but I will certainly check it out. And, I’ll let you know my take. On legitimacy of the government pressure: And who determines that? Who is the judge (plural)? Is there any oversight or system of checks and balances there-no. Who determines its abuses, who uses and will use as a means of power abuse and self/power preservation? This argument has been used and abused by every successful dictator. Don’t you agree?

    Now, the sacrificed assets: It was not the press that did it, nor was it an idealist(s). It was that same ‘government authority’ you may be referring to when you discuss operatives who know what’s best for certain countries. Not only the MSM, but actually the wannabe alternative ones willingly (and some knowingly) and blindly got that wrong. And in fact the circus show it turned into is absolutely due to the absence of a real journalism. This is another topic that deserves its own post and lengthy discussion…

    Markum: “maybe at some point you can do a follow up on the “bad guys” within the government who are doing the manipulating.” It will take a several-volume book!! Seriously, the easy targets are those that come and go (appointed temporaries), the tough ones: bureaucratic permanents with far reaching tentacles.

    Dennis: Thank you for the links. Since this topic will continue for a long time, I will use all these relevant material. I’ll check it out tonight.

    Real Jeffersonian: ” In reading this series it strikes me that perhaps what we don’t read or hear may be more important that what we do.” Now you truly joined the club!;-)

  28. Kathleen M. Dickson says:

    They should make it a hate crime for any “judges” to claim that the Torturing by the Bushies and by the Torturing Israelis:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/cook05182009.html
    was not illegal.

    They should make it a hate crime to determine that any Bushie lawyers who protected and defended torture should not be prosecuted.

    They should make it a hate crime for any self-alleged courts to deny the Geneva Conventions.

    Alberto Gonzales determined that since Afghanistan was a failed state, that their people were not people and therefore not deserving of such protections against torture and other human and civil rights deprivations.

    What I am saying is, we need to go after the Bushie “judges,” like his own cousin, “judge” John M. Walker, and Walker’s good buddy Mukasy.

    We all know the 1993 WTC stunt was an FBI set-up involving Chertoff. I think that case needs to be re-opened, too, because I would like to look further into the feeding and nurturing of “terrorists,” since it looks – according to Ms. Edmonds, et al, revelations – like this criminal/treason operation by the Israelis in America has been an early 1990s program.

    Phil Geraldi today suggests in AntiWar that the Lobby ought to register as a foreign Lobby. That’s an absolute first step in ending further such operations, if past operations are not to be investigated and prosecuted because they will be embarassing to the FBI.

    KMDickson

  29. I have noticed when you talk to a local reporter of a news organization about a story of importance, they will say that it is a story. When you get to their Washington desks, however, it becomes a non story or a no go. They will almost always ask for corraboration when it is their job to find it. They ask even when you point them in the right direction.

  30. Sibel Edmonds says:

    MMonk: That's an excellent observation; matching my and NSWBC's experience. The LA Times editor went to the right place, right? Same story with another known publication which I'll talk about soon. Thank you!

    Zica & Anon on voting: Always glad to hear about 'real' activism, versus only 'cheap talk.' We can sit, talk, analyze, and discuss the issues and 'real problems' forever, but if we can't translate them into 'real action' out there, we'll be the losers. As you can see it is so very easy to sit in front of the tube and type it away. Granted, raising awareness is very important, but we need to provide 'alternative' solutions, and then get out and show it in action.

    Metemneurosis: 🙂 I'd say instead of 10s of millions of votes, give me a million or so who'll be willing to set aside all their differences and march with me in DC, make the rounds on the Hill. It will be a start, and regardless of fun poking or lack of decent coverage by the MSM, it will set the wheels in motion and scare the cr.. out of them. No?

    Kathleen: I usually don't advertise what I read, but I read AntiWar daily. How many other places do you know where: you can see editorials from someone like Buchanan appear right along with Ellsberg or McGovern? Truly nonpartisan; at least in my book. The news coverage is also excellent: secrecy, civil liberties, foreign policy, war…And they don't pretend to be 'journalists' like many do; they just provide you with the direct relevant links…Some ridiculous websites advertise: Alternative News & Reporting. Just go check them out. This is what they do: Take everything from 'already reported' MSM pieces, change the title, add a line or two of their twists, and try to sell it as 'reported by them.' Cheap forgeries. On top of that, they reek with partisanship and ignorance. Unfortunate but a fact. I hope many do see this, and take them with a grain of (a lot of!) salt, or get smart and don't waste time visiting those sites and enriching the advertisers!

  31. Chad Slack says:

    Sibel, I think in the “Flexing Muscles” category we can also include the tactic of sending their goons in the media to pre-emptively smear the source or the journalist as soon as the story gets any legs at all. By ‘goons’ I mean O’Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh, et.al. It really does all go back to media ownership in my opinion.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Anon the Neocon:

    I agree on journalism – this is a general education problem.

    As for Plame – this goes to your question “who decides” .

    Ideally, we have a structure – FISA, FISA courts, and strict laws. That’s why I mentioned lawyers.

    I would just suggest, that for every case of pressure applied, some is extralegal, some illegal, some purely legal – but for every case, one could find an example of police abuse, and poor customer service (atrocious sometimes), or awful gang attacks – none of which would reflect any coordinated action – but purely incompetence, or social forces. So I am not convinced by your examples. I can understand legitimate instances when a government may want to defend itself, just as I can see the media being the problem, for society and the government. In other words, it’s not about being good or bad because you are a given institution, but purely personnel abuse.

    Then there are laws, which can be bad – like FCC regulations – which I mentioned, and you did not comment on (obviously you are not obliged to do so, but I though this was rather interesting).

    The book I have in mind from wilensky is Organisational Intelligence – there are also articles – but I don’t recommend them for the simple reason that Huntington and Kissinger, in their old days in FA wrote the same thing – its been on everyone’s mind for some time – you even see at the FP blogs – where it comes up once a week.

    So you ask who decides, and preventing abuses. I think we all agree on that. What kind of mind would it take to state otherwise?

    But I think all the laws and structure is in place – and we are dealing much more with failure to follow law.

    I would just caution against hasty conclusions. Not everything done – even by a crook – is criminal, or unreasonable. Look for example at the policy of publishing books in the NSA, FBI, and CIA. Do you think it reasonable that you have to submit your manuscript with the CIA? But most intelligence practitioners do think it reasonable – while radicals would whistle it down – well, the radicals are clueless on how to actually run a state.

    Your rather direct implication of the government or wanna be intelligence punks in Plame affair. We agree a 100 percent – but we must also agree that there is an integrity tied to statecraft, and this leaves a margin of evil, if you will – which cannot be sacrificed for the honor of the uniform (if you know the French phrase) – or you’ll have no uniform. In the case of Plame, there was Fitzgerald – and that’s how things should work. However, I would venture that the Honorable Wilson went too far in his duty as a government employee, in scrutinizing his employers policies. Even if he was right. Again, this has to do with organisational structure. That said, there is a value to whistleblowing – but there is a point, in which it can cross into snitching, and denounciation – and in the end a “whistleblower” is not a saint by virtue of blowing a whistle. Just as the government is not evil or good by default, there is room for whistleblower abuse – for obnoxious behaviour, triviality, and so on.

    Let me add – education is a key factor in foreign policy. If the populace is not aware of foreign relations – it is vulnerable to absurd manipulation. If you really want a top-down critique of our policies abroad, which avoids conspiracy, you could begin with the lack of geographic and historical knowledge in our schools, which makes us vulnerable to foreign policy demagoguery – not to mention opens the doors to incredible abuse. If for example we mention the bribes in Kazakhstan, to Nazarbayev, who really cares about it? If we talk Kurds, who cares about it? We talk Salafism in South East Turkey, who cares? We talk about Sufi radicalism that we’ve cultivated – as you point out Mrs. Edmonds – accross Eurasia to push back the Soviets – who cares? Everyone thinks Sufi’s are cool (never mind that Al-Bana was almost a Sufi, nor the vicious texts of Ghazali).

    I mean you are dealing with total, total ignorance. That’s why you get only two symbols with which to manipulate every single time propaganda needs to be applied (by the way Mrs. Edmonds, the US reserves the right to propaganda, this is recognized explicitly by international law!!) two cymbols always being “Munich” and “Hitler”. Then you get key words, like Totalitarianism, and Freedom. I mean its a paltry palate with which to paint, but that’s because you can’t address the populace in other terms – they are not informed enough – and this starts with school, with general consumption media, and the way we do not travel abroad in the same way Europeans, Japanese, or Indians do.

    NIall Ferguson compared the way the British ruled the world, with the way we do it – and there is a striking difference of Scots and Irish going out there, from backward farms, to India, to Indonesia, and while not always nice guys, getting hands on, and integrating new worldviews, while expanding the British one. The way we now interact with the world, is vastly different – its more insular, and it is even reflected in the way we wage war – never hands on – always at a distance. Its as if we were content to run the world via a satelliate and computer program, never having to leave the comfort of our four bedroom McMansion – provided all that Amazon beef and Peruvian potato was coming in on time, and the logistics for supply chain management were optimized!

    Behind all this, is impeccable logic Mrs. Edmonds, and it is the logic of I Pencil- that wonderful educational video which is always recommended to anti-market types.

    In the end – I am glad to see you are for democracy, and would appreciate its advancement. I would like to ask you a personal opinion – womens’ rights in the muslim world. I think they should make up our number one objective in the Muslim world (and I use the word Muslim very consciously). In Afghanistan, we need a robust communication strategy that indoctrinates – I mean this literally – the link between modernity, living standards, and womens status.

    What do you think – is this too neocon for you?

  33. “I would just suggest, that for every case of pressure applied, some is extralegal, some illegal, some purely legal – but for every case, one could find an example of police abuse, and poor customer service (atrocious sometimes), or awful gang attacks – none of which would reflect any coordinated action – but purely incompetence, or social forces.”

    How do you know this? Been in a gang lately? Some gang activity may look incidental to an observer far removed, but is ordered through subtleties in drawings sent through the mail from solitary confinement in a high-security prisons. In the USA.

    BTW, why hasn’t the USA legalized marijuana and narcotics anyway? The late William F Buckley would have been proud. Maybe you think that it’s incidental that we funded the Contras with narco-trafficking, which would have been difficult without the illegality. Hmm… must be social pressure, lack of professionalism, right? The social pressure is an illusion, created by ???

  34. arealjeffersonian says:

    Anon the Neocon:

    Your posts make interesting reading and your comments make it apparent that you are obviously well versed in the workings of government. However I still tend to disagree with the points of view of much of your posts.

    It seems to me to come back to the earlier discussion of the “interests of the nation”. There is a significant difference between the “interests of the nation”, which include all the citizens of the nation, and the “interests of the government”, which include only those with interests tied to the government – politicians, career bureaucrats, military, MIC, lobbyists, etc.; all those that feed at the government trough.

    Your comments seem to be in support of the interests of the government, with a implied view that what the government does is what it should do, and support the government’s right to use “pressure” to defend itself. I repeat myself with the well worn phrase government “of the people, by the people, for the people”. Who is such a government defending itself from? Itself?

    I see that you are agreeing that we have become an empire, comparing how we rule the world vs how the Brits did it. My Jeffersonian view still is that our nation was not born as an empire, but born in opposition to one, and that it is to our disgrace that we have become one. Many of the ills being discussed on this blog are a direct result.
    As a neocon, do you believe it is our right, our obligation if you prefer, to rule the world?

  35. You have such interesting insights on what happens under the table in Washington. Thanks for sharing them.

  36. Sibel Edmonds says:

    Anon the Neocon: Let's talk about classification, power to classify, and justification (which obviously is no longer necessary-limitless power). On agencies' pre publication review & related area: check out this government designation of 'national security & classified' information http://homepage.mac.com/kaaawa/iblog/C177199123/E1350718859/ Based on these government 'experts' and as you put 'practitioners' my date of birth is classified and its divulgence a threat to national security-meaning my driving license is a classified document…So is my passport since those who know best in gov consider my birth place 'classified and a national security matter.' And, the courts you mention all go along with this absurdity. So where I stand on this makes me a radical?

    Your points on 'education': right on target.

    On Women's Right: I'd need pages and pages to write about this, but this is not the right place, context, or topic. I loath certain things, but don't believe in shoving down modernism down their throats. Again, what's no no and bad for Taliban, happens to be perfectly okay for our Saudis or Kuwaitis friends? Also, the military regime in Turkey, the one that 'some' consider 'the path and chance of democracy in Turkey,' did the opposite: bring down the scarves by means of force and abuse…That nicely backfired, didn't it? Again, I won't get into this right now, although I have plenty to say (no, you did not push my 'feminist' button:-)

    On FCC points: I like the 'intelligence punk' title for some of the ranters out there. I won't be one here, because I am pretty ignorant on this subject matter. I need to study and further my knowledge before I take a stand and make an argument. Until then. If I were to guess your background: my guess, at this point, would be on 'State Department' FSO.

    Jeffersonian: "which include only those with interests tied to the government – politicians, career bureaucrats, military, MIC, lobbyists, etc.; all those that feed at the government …" Good point.

  37. Anonymous says:

    from: Anon the Neocon
    @jeffersonian

    Empire in a Fergusonian sense. An inevitability. It has no emotional connotations for me. The rules of IR are astonishing in their simplicity – the world is anarchic, and order is possible only with a hegemonic order or unipolarity. Not something Jefferson commented on – since Jefferson understood better than most, that relations among nations, were nothing like the relationship among various factions within a nation.

    Active democracy presumes that national vs communitarian interests are debated – it is in the debate that contours are defined. There is no overarching definition. The people formulate interest in active participation.

    You ask about government defending itself. From whom? That’s very simple – imagine a sedition you despise – like an attempt by whichever fringe group to take over the reins of power. You can certainly imagine then “government” self-defence?

  38. Anonymous says:

    from: Anon the Neocon
    @Mrs. Edmonds

    On classification. Are you surprised if I agree with you? Of course we over-classify. But that’s done under the prerogative of national security, which is subsidy to national interests. Meaning we can debate that as specialists in OPSEC. Last I checked the Federal government spends more than five billion dollars on OPSEC (if not 9 billion, I can’t remember). I am not competent enough to judge classifying your date of birth on government documents – nor to construe whether this implicates your drivers license. You have a constitutional right to divulge whatever you like about yourself to whomever, but also the fifth amendment when this can endanger you. I can certainly think of absurd classifications, but at the same time, I would want to hear a rational because what appears absurd may in fact remain relevant. That procedures can get warped, and absurd in contradiction, we agree – but that not a failure of democracy – or nor is it conspiracy. That’s a question of pure procedure! The government should not divulge certain basics from info it has on citizens – if you ask me. Now does that mean that a journalist, is obliged to do so? I don’t think so. Although some would debate this, but if I come to know a secret through my own means, and it happens to be something the government has classified – too bad for them! I am not talking having access to Top Secret documents, that would be punishable, I am talking about my date of birth!

    As per your place of birth – I am very curious as to your origins Mrs. Edmonds – if I may divulge this curiosity. A natural curiosity about your biography – what made you who you are – curious about your political views – because you are an inspiring individual. Curious about the culture of your family, and so on. I wonder where you were born. I recall reading your father traveled, and spoke Turkish, and Farsi, but obviously your family was not pious since you married a non-Muslim, and I think its a legitimate curiosity on my part.

    Per womens’ rights. I don’t intend to push buttons, as it is a genuine concern of mine. Development cannot happen without empowerment of women. That we tolerate misogyny in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – again, I am the wrong person to complain to – I’ve been quite vocal about not tolerating it anywhere. Call me intolerant, if you will 😉 I will also opine, that no culture in the world has a greater problem with women, than Islamic culture, and it is more important politically, than drug-trafficking in Central Asia. The failure of the Western World, to grasp the mentality of the Muslim world, causes far more damage to global security, than a few drug-traffickers. That said, Mrs. Edmonds, we would agree that the reason we are not concerned with womens’ rights in the Islamic world, may have something to do with the nature of Eurasian geopolitics?

    Do we need to shove womens’ rights down Kuwaiti throats?

  39. Anonymous says:

    A sound yes Mrs. Edmonds. We need to declare an end to Sharia law and the Sharia “mentality”.

    We must not engage these societies without making our objections clear, loud, and conditional. The principle damage we do in our foreign policy, comes from applying human rights norms inconsistently. You acknowledge this with every reference to Turkey and Saudi Arabia you make! It is this inconsistency which is killing us.

    I have a request Mrs. Edmonds. Some time ago, reading about the Young Turks – I came across an intellectual among them, who perceived Turkey’s problems through the prism of womens’ rights. He based his arguments on a French intellectual, who explicitly affirmed the incompatibility between modernity and masculinity – that feminisation was both a necessity, and a positive force. This is not the language of feminists, who prefer a gross masculanisation of themselves, and thus society – but you can sense the tradition this would come from. My request is – since I cannot remember the names of either the Turk or French thinkers, would you happen to know.

    Sincerely,
    Anon the Neocon (sounds almost like a jesters name!)

    PS sorry about the three posts – but the editor did not allow me to post more than 4600 character?

  40. Thank you for all you do.

  41. Anonymous says:

    are you still alive because they want to prove a point? are you really a voice for them to underscore the “power”?
    what ever the reason i’m so glad there’s a few Heroes left with integrety to demonstrate so we don’t forget what it means.

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