Why I think Newsweek is unpatriotic

I previously posted on Why I think this is a big deal, but that doesn’t seem to have satisfied many. So I’m following up.

In a nutshell, my position is that Newsweek shouldn’t have published the Koran-flushing story even if it was true. Wait. Make that EVEN IF IT WAS TRUE. They went ahead, and I think that makes them unpatriotic. For the purposes of this post, I’m not concerned about the validity of the Koran-flushing claims, either in the Newsweek story or from other sources. My beef is with the practice of knowingly publishing a story that, in all probability, will harm the interests of the United States.

I don’t want to rehash everything I said previously, so I encourage you to read my previous post (and even earlier ones on the subject, if you can stomach them) to most fully understand what I’m getting at.

Since earlier efforts don’t seem to have come across clearly, I’ll sum it up and use large, bold type to make sure:

If you think that publishing reports that will harm American people and interests is a good thing to do, I very strongly believe that you are unpatriotic.

Yes, you.

And I don’t mean “lack of patriotism” when I say “unpatriotic”. I mean “the opposite of patriotic”. Anti-patriotic. The antithesis of American patriotism.

I’m not really sure what the misunderstanding is. I realize that some folks don’t know we’re at war, but I can’t help that. I realize that freedom of the press is a cherished liberty in America, but that doesn’t excuse reporting stories that undermine the mission of our soldiers.

I also realize that some Americans hate America. I’m not talking about those folks. Being American is more than being registered as a citizen of the USA, and I’ll excuse anti-American activity by them since they are, at best, patriots to some other cause besides America. Some are allies, some are neutral, and some are, quite frankly, enemies of America.

It’s important to keep in mind that the America I speak of isn’t a “Republican” or a “Conservative” America, though I generally find myself on those sides of issues. And I’m not trying to represent my case as “if you don’t support the invasion of Iraq you’re not American”. Clearly, you can be American and love America yet oppose the campaign in Iraq or even the wider war itself. I think you’re wrong if you do, but that’s a different discussion.

However, if you think that it is good policy to publish news stories that will not only harm American interests and threaten Americans but strengthen the cause of the enemy, that is something else entirely. It is crossing the line and aiding the enemies of this nation.

As I’ve stated several times, I am giving Newsweek the benefit of the doubt as far as intention goes. I don’t subscribe to the “Newsweek Lied, People Died” claim, even in jest. I don’t think Newsweek, at least as an organization, intentionally lied. I don’t think there’s any conspiracy. But I also don’t buy their “acting in good faith” claim. Good faith to their fervent anti-Bush subscribers, maybe. Certainly not in good faith to American efforts in the war or to Americans in general.

The biggest protest raised, of course, is that freedom of the press is threatened if these sorts of stories can’t be published. Which is not true.

I’m not calling for (though I realize that some are) any sort of censorship by the government or the military, here. I’m calling for self-censorship by Newsweek. The same sort of self-censorship that they exercise every single minute of every single day. The sort of self-censorship that helps them decide what to publish, and what the ramifications might be if they do (or do not) get the story out.

I realize that I’m asking a lot, but can’t a publication take “the greater good” into account when deciding whether or not to run a story without destroying the free press? They certainly do so when covering politics and social issues. They’re careful not to insult particular groups carelessly. They’re careful not to publish statistics that don’t support their particular causes. They’re careful to include only the facts (or sections of quotes) that advance the message they’re trying to get out. And, while many (like me) will rail on about how unfair the coverage is, I don’t think anyone truly believes that such actions threaten the existence of the free press.

So why is it that deciding not to publish news that will probably harm American efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere in this war would be the end of a cornerstone of American liberty?

A commenter on Daily Kos noted my article:

The right doesn’t care about the truth. Here is a typical example:

I don’t think Newsweek intentionally lied, but I NEVER said that I didn’t think they weren’t unpatriotic.

In fact, I finally believe 100% that they are totally unpatriotic.

If you read my first post on this subject, you’ll see that I originally meant to write that Newsweek absolutely should never have published that Koran flushing report EVEN IF TRUE.

Emphasis in the original.

It is NEVER unpatriotic for the press to tell the truth about what our government is doing. Indeed, it has a duty to do so.

First, it’s nice to see that my awful “I NEVER said that I didn’t think they weren’t unpatriotic” sentence will live on even though I later cleaned it up slightly. Secondly, the statement that “It is NEVER unpatriotic for the press to tell the truth about what our government is doing” is total bunk.

An obvious example of the fallacy of this is the D-Day invasion of Europe during World War 2. If a reporter managed to learn the date, time, and location of the invasion and published it, wouldn’t that have been unpatriotic? How about if reporters learned that we had broken German and Japanese codes? Would it have been the duty of the reporter to make the truth known about what our government was doing?

I guess I’m kind of hoping that we can all agree that publishing those stories would have been a bad and unpatriotic thing to do. The fact that today’s war is fought on smaller battlefields and that the sides are not so clearly delineated makes no difference. This story has already caused rioting. It will certainly drive some to take up arms against the infidels and convince others to support those that do. It will cost American lives. You can’t claim to “support the troops” and support the publication of this article.

Another popular defense of Newsweek is that stories of Koran desecration had been published previously. First of all, I don’t think those stories should have been published, either. But a major difference between those stories (as far as I know, anyway) and this one is that those were based on rumor and claims from former prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. And we know that al Qaeda operatives are instructed to claim such things.

This story was supposedly based upon a US government report. This wasn’t editorial. This wasn’t opinion.

This wasn’t “we shouldn’t desecrate holy Muslim things, as some have said we are”. This was “the US government is desecrating holy Muslin things right now”. Our enemies pounced on it and offered it as proof that America is evil. They then whipped their followers into a frenzy. If Newsweek runs a story about how an ex-detainee claims someone spit on the Koran, it isn’t the same. Some will get upset, no doubt, and I’m not even really sure that those stories should be published. But this is something different. Surely you can see this.

A commenter on my site wrote

Using the concept of patriotism, as measuring stick to guide what is published, is just as bad as the political correctness espoused by liberals. Only with the free expression of ideas can our country remain free.

“Political Correctness”, when you get down to it, is really just word games with rules that no one gets hurt or offended. And in many cases “P.C.” is exactly what’s called for. Publishing a story that causes extremists to incite violent riots and probably convinces Muslims to attack American soldiers or civilians isn’t quite the same thing as calling someone a “fireman” instead of a “fireperson”. And refraining from publishing this story doesn’t threaten the “free expression of ideas”. I’ll agree that the idea of desecrating the Koran isn’t nice and is probably a bad policy in all but the most extreme circumstances.

There. I expressed that idea freely. That won’t threaten the safety of American troops.

That brings us to the argument about how it’s not Newsweek’s fault that some people are willing to riot or kill over a holy book. While I’ll agree that such reactions are (to say the least) rather extreme, it’s not a surprise. We’ve been seeing this for decades. We know it can happen, and that it’s usually pretty ugly when it does. So often we’re warned about the sensitivities of other cultures. About how calling our cause a “crusade” is likely to stir up bad memories. About how a pair of panties on the head is worse than being beheaded or about how being wrapped in an Israeli flag is “torture”. Since 9/11 we’ve been bombarded with this non-stop. And now suddenly some folks are going “Whoa, there…rioting over something like that is just crazy. We can’t be held responsible for the nutcases of the world.” I wonder how many people in the first group are also members of the second.

Granted, there will always be those who are way beyond even the extremist. The sort that howl at the moon and go off because someone wore red socks with green shoes. Not much can be done about those types, but this certainly isn’t the Arab jihadist that we’ve become quite familiar with. While not exactly predictable, he is a “known known” and Newsweek should have known better.

Others insist the riots weren’t even caused by the Newsweek article. While I’ll allow that it depends on how you define “cause”, there’s no doubt that the Newsweek article was at least an excuse for those looking to make trouble. News items ran for days about the events in Afghanistan, yet it was only after people started piling on Newsweek for blowing the story that apologists started claiming that the riots weren’t even related to the story. In fact,

Islamic groups in Pakistan have called for international anti-US protest on May 27.

“Islamic groups will hold demonstrations on May 27 across the world to condemn the desecration of Holy Qur’an in the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay,” Qazi Hussain Ahmad, head of coalition of six politico-religious groups said on Sunday.

These guys seem to be pretty clear to me. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

Have no doubt. American efforts in the war on terror, this Fourth World War, have suffered greatly due to this story. Roadside bombs will be planted. Suicide bombers will be recruited. Money and other support for terrorists and insurgents will be raised. The resolve of jihadists the world over will be steeled. As this story continues to spread through the low-tech world it will be believed, and everyone knows it. Americans, Iraqis, Afghans, and others working to build a new world will be targeted. Others, simply trying to make it through the day, will be caught in the crossfire.

Merriam-Webster defines “patriotism” as “love for or devotion to one’s country”.

Publishing stories that harm one’s country and its people is not a way to show your love or devotion.

Yes, you can love your country and oppose its government. But you can also oppose your country’s government without harming your country.

Some will continue to think that getting the truth out at all costs is more important. And I guess that’s your prerogative.

But don’t complain when I call you unpatriotic.

UPDATE: The commenter that mentioned me on Kos yesterday noticed me noticing him. And I noticed.

Anyway, he writes

It comes pretty close to a fundamental difference of opinion. Liberals believe in getting the truth out. Conservatives believe in hiding embarassing facts.

That’s a pretty broad brush, there. And not really true. I don’t really see armies of Liberal journalists digging into Democrat problems, I see them hiding embarrassing facts. If we’re going to use big brushes, let’s simply say that both Conservatives and Liberals attack the other side by getting out the truth and hide embarrassing facts about their own side by obfuscating it.

Anyway, he continues

He also makes an analogy to disclosing the D-Day invasion details. I don’t think the analogy flies. First off, invasion details involve information about future activities. The Newsweek story involves matters that were done. Second, D-Day information has direct practical information about military operations which can be used to deal with U.S. forces.

First of all, as I noted in the comments section, the D-Day analogy refers to the comment (by this writer, in fact) that “It is NEVER unpatriotic for the press to tell the truth about what our government is doing. Indeed, it has a duty to do so.” I wasn’t comparing the Koran-flushing story to spilling the beans about D-Day. I was refuting the “NEVER unpatriotic” claim about telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

That being said, spilling D-Day details after the invasion took place wouldn’t be so much of a problem, of course. And spilling Guantanamo Bay details won’t be such a problem after that war is over won’t be such a problem, either. The issue at hand, though, is that the war is still going on. No American soldiers could be harmed in August 1944 by the revelation that Normandy would be invaded in June 1944. American soldiers in 2005 can be harmed by the revelation that interrogators at Gitmo are desecrating the Koran.

As an interesting side note, a follow-up comment mentioned Monica Lewinsky. In 1998 (long before this site existed) I wrote an article called THIS JUST IN wherein I defended Newsweek’s decision not to go public with the Lewinsky story. I’ve wanted to re-publish all those old articles but haven’t got around to it. I actually started working on a post about that particular one after this Newsweek issue came up, but I’ve been too busy calling people “unpatriotic” to finish it. Now I’ve got to.

Comments

  1. Murdoc, Just substitue al-Qai’da for Communist and you are good to go. [1st] Deny that you are advocating censorship. ‘(b) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize, require, or establish military or civilian censorship or in any way to limit or infringe upon freedom of the press [2nd] Go forth and state that you are only working for the safety and preservation of the republic. ’15) The Communist movement in the United States is an organization numbering thousands of adherents, rigidly and ruthlessly disciplined. Awaiting and seeking to advance a moment when the United States may be so far extended by foreign engagements, so far divided in counsel, or so far in industrial or financial straits, that overthrow of the Government of the United States by force and violence may seem possible of achievement’ [3rd] Go forth and declare emergency powers to detain without cause. [The President] is hereby authorized to apprehend and by order detain, pursuant to the provisions of this title’probably will engage in, or probably will conspire ‘ [4th]: Throw away the key – Emergency Detention Act of 1950. (b) Any person detained hereunder (hereinafter referred to as ‘the detainee”) shall be released from such emergency detention upon– (1) the termination of such emergency by proclamation of the President or by concurrent resolution of the Congress;

  2. Murdoc, I am going to disagree (a little). Firstly, and to shrink things a bit, you make a faulty analogy. A reporter in WWII finding and publishing documents about imminent Operation Overlord is not the same as say finding -proof- that say …allied commanders sacrificed kittens to Satan. Newsweek still did not present proof of their claim, only low quality rumor from an anonymous source. For this they deserve a whipping. Had Newsweek been able to prove it, then I say it would be Patriotic to eventually and responsibly publish this proof as much as it was to break the Abu Gharaib story. Why? Allowing such activities to continue will only allow corruption and Evil to fester in our nation, doing damage far greater to ourselves than anything those angry arab ants could possibly render.

  3. James: So calling for the media to not go out of its way to endanger American troops and interests makes me a McCarthy? I also thought that using the media to cover Marine amphibious assault practice before the attack in 1991 was a great move. If a reporter had leared that it was just a feint, I would have wanted him to run the story anyway. Does that make me a Goebbels?

  4. Sam: So you believe that the expected reaction of a story about kitten sacrifice in 1944 would have had the same results for our war effort and the safety of our troops that this Koran flushing story has in 2005? I don’t. As for the D-Day or codebreaker analogy, they don’t have to conform perfectly to the Koran-slushing story. I’m told time and time again that the press should get the truth out no matter what it is. That it’s its duty to do so. It has been stated in very black-and-white terms that the press needs to publish everything if freedom is to be protected. I am calling ‘B.S.’ on that loudly and clearly, and the D-Day analogy is a simple way to do that.

  5. Of course they are unpatriotic. I thought that was a well-established fact at this point. They are almost universally hostile to the military. Very, very few of them have served and they still have a Vietnam hippie type distrust of anyone in uniform. Once in a while they like to write about how a poor Private was screwed by officers. It fits into their theme of all military leaders being idiots, criminals, and / or liars. The positive coverage during the actual war 2 years ago was due to the imbed system used and some open minded reporters actually living with and experiencing everything the troops did – like an Ernie Pyle. Unlike Ernie Pyle, they either reverted to type or returned home as soon as the hot war ended. That’s when prisoner abuse stories (real or made up) became front-page news and the heroism of guys like Rafael Peralta http://www.nationalreview.com/lowry/lowry200501110730.asp was buried or completely neglected. I doubt it even occurred to Newsweek reporters or editors to consider the damage the story would do to U.S. efforts in the Middle East. In their dreams it would probably have ruined the careers of some military intelligence officers and supplied ammo to liberals who are against the War on Terrorism. More and more Americans are seeing through this garbage. That is why Fox News has become so popular – at least Fox will not jump to these conclusions because they WANT to believe it so badly they bypass every journalistic standard there is. That is what really got CBS and Newsweek in trouble. They truly hate the idea of America being strong, active, and right. That sounds unpatriotic to me.

  6. Murdoc, no, the kitten thing is what I could quickly come up with after reading the reeeeaaallly long post of yours during my 30 minute lunch -hour- at work. And thinking further, the whole WWII analogy, even on my part, is unfit as the Axis were much more worthy foes than the terrorist rif-raf of today. A better analogy to todays reality would be if a major publication, e.g. Newsweek, published a detailied itinerary of a presidential visit to Iraq, or the exact tactics tools, and techniques used to fight insurgents. We both I am sure can agree that Newsweek and friends have no business publishing such information. Now, the information I am talking about is about wrong doing on the part of our government. Unethical behaviour. -Evil-, with a capital ‘E’. Desecration of holy books is generally considered to be at least a not good thing…unless one is a hard-core athiest I guess. To this sort of thing you say: ‘In a nutshell, my position is that Newsweek shouldn’t have published the Koran-flushing story even if it was true. Wait. Make that EVEN IF IT WAS TRUE.’ and your real ‘Beef’: ‘…is with the practice of knowingly publishing a story that, in all probability, will harm the interests of the United States.’ So what I am getting from you is that you would prefer to not have published in the news provavble reports of -Evil- on the part of our government; as it is a subset of publishable information which might harm American ‘interests’. What the heck is so sacrosanct about these ‘interests’? In that regards, towards the end of your post you suggest that our enemies will become more numerous and better supported after such news. Suggesting that their greater numbers and power will interefere with our ‘interests’. This is likely true. But what does our nation more damage to our ‘Interests’: More/better enemies? or Excusing genuine geovernment Evil? The boyscout in me (and yes I can still quote the Scout Law verbatim at the drop of a hat) says it would be better to sacrifice these national ‘interests’ than become Evil, no matter how much muddied we may appear as a result of our correcting the wrong deeds of our government, and no matter how many more wrongheaded enemies we will have to face because of the exposure. While this may reward me with the moniker of ‘Unpatriotic’, will gladly refuse ‘Patriotism’ at the price of becoming Evil.

  7. and no I am not saying that you -are- advocating Patriotism at the price of being Evil, as you do say: ‘Yes, you can love your country and oppose its government. But you can also oppose your country’s government without harming your country.’ But you really should clarify your position on Evil vs. Patriotism.

  8. Sam: I guess I don’t give a capital ‘E’ to the evil in this case. If we were truly worshipping Satan or killing innocents in cold blood, I would agree that the news needs to get out because stopping the Evil would be of paramont importance. Stopping those that flush Korans in a detention facility just isn’t anywhere in that league. The ‘interests’ I speak of are the war effort, the safety of our people, and the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan. I beleive that the survival of our nation hinges upon these things. War is a neccessary evil (notice the little ‘e’) and winning it is important. While not a Scout myself, my son is and I believe strongly in those ideals. That doesn’t mean being a good boy scout during a war at all costs.

  9. Dude give me a BREAK! You’re going to delete my comment? How basic of you. Trillionaire, Benjamin Peterson, 33

  10. Hey Murdoc are you by any chance a political realist? Anyways…both sides seem to be too idealistic here, but the basic fact is that in some cases, the ends can, and will, justify the means, no matter what the cost. Besides, given that we can’t trash the Q’uran or ‘torture’ them… How else are you going to break a religious fanatic? Any bright ideas, people? Psychic mind probing by any chance? I knew those Cold War research stuff had some benefits… This better not blow up into another Daniel Ellsberg case.

  11. Murdoc, Do I think you are a McCarthy? no, but you are contributing to the mind McCarthy like mind set. You position is logically unsupportable. Only with a mindset of absolutism and firm belief that you are right can your concept of patriotism seem like it is a good idea. The Newsweek article is easy prey, and a great way to chest thump and proclaim the patriotic high ground. Your stated view: ‘The ‘interests’ I speak of are the war effort, the safety of our people, and the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan’ You state that you wanted someone at newsweek to think before they print. In this case, you stated the by printing the story, it was foreseeable that various certain segments of populations were going to get angry, and that anger could lead to increased danger to troops and american intersts. So where are the boundries in your ivory tower of patriotic grandeur? Lets say that Newsweek is doing a biographic article interviewing Gen. Richard B Myers. In the interview, General Myers stats that his favorit author is Salman Rushdie. Does newsweek print the article? What about articles about Tibet or Taiwan independence? The article might upset China so much, that thy refuse to help with North Korea. Thus american security is compromised. Do they print the article? Are you really holding the view that Media outlets have to vet their stories, taking into account possible reactions of various groups that may or may not do? Do you vet your postings to insure that your posts do not result in some extreamist getting upset and deciding to strap a bomb to his chest and blow up a bus in protest?

  12. During the course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted….’ –Thomas Jefferson

  13. James: I do not concur with the owner-author of this blog on many issues related to the War on Terror. Idealist he may be, but a creature with delusions of ‘patriotic grandeur’ [sic] he is not. The Fourth Estate and its members are entirely responsible for the impact their products have on the world at large. Specifically, the members of the Fourth Estate have the following duties: (1) To be impartial; (2) To provide accurate and factual coverage of events; (3) To withhold reporting that directly endangers human life. (1) is essential if media is to be granted the right to access all the disparate players and events around the globe on the same level as, say, the ICRC. Without impartiality, there is no credible reporting and this prevents the public at large from making just decisions and arriving at the right conclusions. Without impartiality, journalists are fair game, as the acknowledged standard of protection (limited as it may be) they enjoy as they carry out their work is entirely dependent on them being a witness to events as they unfold, not direct participants in them. This is what separates journalists from spies, and why it is considered extremely bad form for intelligence agents to use journalistic identities as cover. (2) goes without saying, as anyone with even a passing knowledge of journalistic fraud can attest. If a Stephen Glass or Jayson Blair can be held to task for fabricating sources, then where is the rationale that justifies the likes of Dan Rather and Newsweek fabricating documents and quotes? Shoddy reporting is a public disservice at best and criminal negligence at worst. This is why journalists are held to task for volatile accusations that cannot be substantiated; they are considered libel when applied to private individuals and corporate entities, and most governments that do not have an established body of laws that consider the press sacrosanct think of it as nothing other than treason. (3) is the standard by which the Fourth Estate must finally be judged. If General Myers’ favorite author happens to be Salman Rushdie, that does not risk human life. Discussions of Tibetan or Taiwanese independence lead to the news outlet in question being banned by the PRC and do not risk human life. The onus of proof is on you to demonstrate that in each analogy you draw, that there is substantial and justifiable risk to human life that demonstrates your analogies are synonymous with the Newsweek assertion in question, and thus limitations on press freedoms can only result in all such cases being worthy of censorship to a ‘extreamist’ [sic]. This you have failed to do. Both your analogies are severely flawed and reflect nothing less than a facile ignorance of world affairs. Newsweek violated (3) in its reporting, by not being cognizant of the following: (a) That Muslim militant groups respond with fatwas calling for the murder of those whom they consider to have disrespected the Koran and have carried out such threats in the past (Salman Rushdie, Naguib Mahfouz) is evident. (b) That Muslim militant groups in nation such as India and the Philippines where they are a minority have used protests as springboards for terrorist actions, and even in Muslim-majority countries these protests have degenerated into acts of violent terrorism (Pakistan, Egypt) against security forces. (c) That linkage between the Muslim perception of abuses perpetuated at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay by US Forces and violation of the holy word of the Koran would lead to a great backlash from the entirety of the Muslim community against the United States and all its allies by association in the War on Terror. It takes very, very little foresight to predict these events, especially in the wake of the death and destruction wrought in the aftermath of the revelation of Abu Ghraib. Hindsight merely accentuates the wastefulness of Newsweek’s actions. The only question then is whether or not Newsweek willfully disregarded the imminent consequences and published the article for partisan political gain, or did so fully cognizant of the potential for death and injury to human life. Newsweek claims it acted, according to Managing Editor John Meecham, with ‘great sensitivity and concern’. Events have obviously proved otherwise – events which you choose to blithely disregard and misinterpret. Should you find yourself out of your depth again, James, I suggest you find someone far more erudite and better able to craft a persuasive argument than yourself. Whatever cause you aspire to uphold is ill-served by your earnest, but thoroughly incompetent defence.

  14. Sam; Evidently you do not understand that human life is far more important than a tenuous and insincere hold on ideology of any sort – hence your embrace of a didactic contrast between ‘Patriotism’ and ‘Evil’. I can excuse the ‘Kittens for Satan’ analogy as that of a mind unpracticed in the art of debate. I can even excuse the shoddy diction you present and the meandering nature of your assertions. However, your assertion that ‘national interest’ should be sacrificed rather than the nation becoming ‘Evil’ is the most pompous and churlishly irresponsible assertion I have heard from a soapbox crusader in a damn long time. This nation has a long litany of actions considered thoroughly ‘Evil’ – from the use of atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the abandonment of POW/MIAs after the Korean Conflict and Vietnam; involvement in ‘brushfire wars’ from Africa to Asia, Latin America to the Middle East; the selective use of military aid and economic might to shape the destinies of other nations through everything from cultural assimilation via American pop culture (a contentious issue in parts of the Third World to this day) all the way to outright coup d’etats. Each and every one of these measures has been executed in the national interest, and while they may raise the hackles of many a bleeding heart, each and every one was in its own way directly responsible for the security of this nation and the citizens of the United States of America. You explicitly state that you would have a news organization beholden to the rights and responsibilities inherent in membership in the Fourth Estate – even when it thoroughly abandons them, as Newsweek has done – to enjoy nothing less than unrestricted rights to spread libel, slander, and news that creates death and destruction, factual or not, in your very own words, ‘no matter how many more wrongheaded enemies we will have to face because of the exposure. I am quite eager to know how many ‘wrongheaded enemies’ you personally are at risk of death or injury from in your own life to be able to make such a sweeping assertion. Thanks to Newsweek having put out a thoroughly false report under false pretenses, the enemy count just doubled. Newsweek has exceeded the idiot MPs of Abu Ghraib as the best recruiting drive for Al Qaeda in the modern world. Your misguided defence using 1st Amendment rights for a media outlet that has through irresponsible reporting violated both the 2nd, 5th, and 6th Amendments repeatedly is nothing less than outrageous. You too, require serious work on your diction and much better skills at debate – but far more importantly, you need a dead honest reappraisal of your fundamental belief system from the ground up. George Orwell stated magnificiently, ‘People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.’ It is evident you are no such man and you are blissfully ignorant that your soapbox crusading is only possible because of the ‘Evil’ perpetuated by such men working on your behalf of you and all other American citizens so that we may all live despite the best efforts of the enemy to kill all of us. Do reconsider the wisdom of maintaining the idyllic view of Boy Scouts Ethics = National Policy or whatever else you incubate. It is fiction, and I hardly think it merits to be called even that.

  15. Note: Mind you reading this, I am fully aware that in my last post there is a glaring grammatical error (actually hidden well enough, but evident nonetheless) … I am cognizant of this, and have no means to edit it. As I peruse the various links to Newsweek defenders, I find that at least I am aware of my failings, and how insignificant they are in comparison. Back to my post. Murdoc; I find your assertion that Newsweek is unpatriotic to be ill-advised at worst. My rationale for this statement is the following: (1) News organizations are no longer instruments of national policy in the United States. Unlike other nations where certain newspapers have close ties to politicians and bureaucrats and serve as mediums for policy pronouncements (Le Monde for France, Renmin Ribao for China) there are no longer any in the United States that explicitly fill such a role. Neither the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal, two papers renowned for the ‘inside track’ on their respective fields in the Beltway, are anywhere near as cooperative to the Federal government as a paper such as Pravda was in the past for the Soviet Union. The tendency of media is to assert itself as an independent animal, and this it has done well. (2) News organizations are increasingly transnational. In the case of Newsweek, it has a good number of foreign editions that carry just as much weight as its American parent, in some cases more. There are even four editions: The domestic and three international. I don’t even count the localized translated versions, such as the one in Japan. The correspondent base and the staff are increasingly less and less American, and hence less and less likely to hold American-centric views. This manifests itself in a drive in its articles to provide ‘homogenized’ content. Since the rest of the world is invariably critical of the United States and its ‘hegemony’ (part of a dedicated propaganda campaign by certain nations to counterbalance American power) appeals are made to the lowest common denominator overseas. In summation, my case is that Newsweek is not in any real sense of the word truly an ‘American’ newsmagazine. It is, like CNN, a creature of its clientele, beholden to its readership, and that readership is no longer exclusively American. There are no conditions under which Newsweek operates which demand it be loyal to the national interests of the United States. In the past (the days of Ernie Pyle, as Bram puts it) this was an unspoken covenant between news organizations and the Federal Government, and this covenant ceased to exist after Watergate and Vietnam. If anything, Newsweek is hardly unpatriotic; its latest actions put it squarely in the enemy camp, where it has been all along. You can hardly accuse a news organization of a lack of patriotism or even treason when it was never on your side from the beginning. There are many, many redeeming features in Newsweek that are more evident in its international editions, but all such evaporated in my eyes with this latest journalistic travesty. I suggest you change tack, call spade a spade, and grant Newsweek a more fitting moniker, such as ‘Taliban Times’. The likes of Anna Quindlen deserve no better irony than association with the ideals of the human-rights violating medieval barbarians they champion.

  16. 0) Sorry for the delay. I have been busy of late. Random Bulldog, this is all for you. 1) I never said that Human Life is unimportant. It is indeed very important to me, but I do believe that moral character is simply a more important. You have come to believe otherwise. So what, neither of us has a monopoly on morality; no one does. 2) You say: ‘I can excuse the ‘Kittens for Satan’ analogy as that of a mind unpracticed in the art of debate.’ Well then how about what I had already said later: ‘the kitten thing is what I could quickly come up with after reading the reeeeaaallly long post of yours [Murdoc’s] during my 30 minute lunch -hour- at work.’, which then continues to a better analogy. I am wondering how you missed this detail. Additionally, this is the Internet; it is full of ordinary folks like myself. MO is a mere blog obivously under the influence of the crazy guy from the A-Team, not an Ivy League academic circle. If you want elite skills in diction, debate, and philosophy, don’t look here. 3) It would have helped if I had better defined what I meant by -Evil- and ‘evil’. Putting it extra simple: ‘Evil’, as I see it, is patently unnecessary harm; whereas,’evil’ is simply harm in a human context. What does this mean? In this world, we cannot avoid doing harm. Even by minimizing the harm we do, simply surviving successfully harms the ability of other living things to survive. Choosing to be unsucessful harms oneself. We cannot avoid ‘evil’. But we can avoid ‘Evil’. You mention some examples: Hiroshima & Nagasaki, Abandoned POWs/MIAs, etc. While each of these is certainly harmful, regretable, perhaps even immoral, they might not have been ‘Evil’ if they were truly necessary to win and preserve the peace. The atomic bombing of Japanese cities in WWII was, as far as I can tell, truly necessary to win the peace as quickly and thoroughly as possible; however, I am not so sure it was necessary at the time for the U.S. to round up all ethnic Japanese civilians from -South America- and put them in internment camps. With respect to the Axis, it was patently -Evil- to engage in the Rape of Nanking, and the Holocaust against the Jews and other minorities. These two harms patently did not need to be committed to pursue their respective agendae. 4) Personally, I have read and understood Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and even Roger Trinquier’s musings on terrorism and torture. I have no problem with the rough men who stand ready to do necessary violence on my behalf. It’s the unnecessary violence I am concerned with. OA good example of what I mean is the overthrow of Iran’s pro American -elected- leader Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953, by the CIA, under orders from Pres. Eisenhower, at the behest of the British Embassy. This was done because of the suggested fear that Iran, and all it’s oily wealth, may turn to communism, despite the volumes of evidence to the contrary. This fearful act showed the in the mind of the muslim world that America had no interest in promoting Peace, Democracy and Freedom to the world; but rather Oil, Dictatorships, and world domination were our apparant National Interests. This one unnecessary act has ultimately and predictably done our nation far more harm than good. 5) Re: Newsweek I do think you misrepresent my position with respect to Newsweek. I am NOT giving them a pass here, because they had -no- proof; they only had rumors. If they did have proof, then they should have then tried to establish whether or not the act was a necessary tool in the fight against our enemies. If it was provably not a necessary act, then and only then would I approve of its publishing. And here is the really important part. Upon printing provably true reports of provably unnecessary harm the media would have likely increased the number of enemies we face. This increases the likelyhood of people, of even me, dying in the conflict. Life is important, but life is also an arena of eternal conflict and difficult moral choices with little reliable information to act on. We are all going to die anyway; we can’t even reliably choose how we are going to die. But we can choose how we live now. Ten thousand years and billions of deaths from now noone will remember or even care how we lived or died. Imperfect as we and the world are, all that matters is that right now we face our doom with the dignity of having lived with as much virtue as humanly possible.

  17. My delay has been entirely work-related. It’s ‘Week of the Eagles’ here at Fort Campbell, the home of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and I’ve been in a number of events. I considered keeping up with the antics of children to be a much, much lesser concern than beating out other units in such events as the Division Run. Sam, I must say you’ve written quite a bit. Therefore, I will reply to your post with painstaking detail: 1) Show where I said explicitly that you claim ‘Human Life is unimportant’ before you even try to leverage the morality argument on me, or even to try telling me what I believe in. I never said I have a ‘monopoly’ on morality either; and your invocation of such nonsensical rhetorical devices merely sets the stage for what can only be more trite assertions of equivalent low quality. 2) I hardly care what excuses you make about the ‘Kittens for Satan’ analogy, which I find fatuous if that is the best you can do at a moment’s notice. Evidently you’ve never been under the gun in an authentic timed debate, unless you’re going to quote extensive IDEA (International Debate Education Association) to demonstrate otherwise, which merely goes to show how little you must have learned. I didn’t miss any ‘detail’ – if you were going to do Murdoc the honor of a serious response, you should have taken the time to do so when you had the time instead of making the excuse of a ’30 minute lunch break’ – which, by the way, can’t be validated by anyone but you. I hardly think you are above such reproach. ‘Kittens for Satan’ – surely you cannot be making excuses for such an idiotic analogy in a serious discussion? It says volumes about the owner-author of this blog’s tolerance that he didn’t laugh openly in your face for it. As for the ‘ordinary person’ excuse, I find that your patronizing of such fine intelligent and dedicated patriots such as Bram and Murdoc, insinuating they are below ‘Ivy League’ standards is just a really trite way of saying that you’re out of your league. I will frequent whatever forum I choose, so long as the owner-author of this blog acquiesces to my presence and I follow the rules he has set down. If you are an ‘ordinary person’ out of your depth, you should refrain from commenting on matters you cannot conceivably influence, and that includes advertising yourself as a 50-meter pop-up target on the internet. I have, by the way, met many, many people in the course of my work in my current occupation and before from the ‘ordinary language’ school who had the experience and the wisdom to back up their views without resorting to asinine comparisons and trite moral grandstanding. Simple language is effective in the hands of dedicated and experienced individuals who have that rare quality of ‘introspection’ which seems to be missing from far too many these days. 3) I find your definition of ‘Evil’ versus ‘evil’ to be patent nonsense. Your semantic acrobatics trying to split hairs on deciding whether a certain reprehensible action was justified or not is merely you placing yourself in a position of omniscience you enjoy thanks to hindsight and maximum distance from the hard questions at hand. Perhaps you may know that the destruction at Hiroshima was so through that no communications with Tokyo were possible for many days; and that when the scale of destruction was finally contemplated and surrender was on the verge of being offered, Nagasaki was hit. By the way, Nagasaki was home to the largest community of foreigners in Japan at the time; Chinese, Koreans, Europeans, many were killed unnecessarily. Is it regrettable? This is what you say (emphasis in CAPS is mine): ‘While each of these is certainly harmful, regretable, perhaps EVEN IMMORAL, they might NOT have been ‘Evil’ if they were truly necessary to win’ Who are you to determine necessity with the poverty of your sources of information? Who are you to determine what is just and unjust, to the extent of countenancing an EVIL ACT even if, by your own admission it may have been IMMORAL? What is necessity to you? Something you determine by an arbitary measurement of convenience or some vague notions of ‘what is right’ perhaps? 4) If you have read Machiavelli, you have not understood him; maybe the likes of Jomini and Clausewitz would be beyond you? If you have read Sun Tzu in translation (and the vast majority of translations are garbage) perhaps you would be lost reading Zhuge Liang Kung Ming? Who are you, once again to determine whether a certain act or level of act is unjustified? Thus, should I be jailed because I put seven rounds in an Iraqi insurgent, even though it can be virtually guaranteed the first two killed him thanks to shot placement and the remaining five were ‘unnecessary’? Who are you or anyone else to judge me? If you’re going to mention Iran, how about Chile and Salvador Allende? Or every other nation destabilized fighting the Communists? Or how about the far GREATER number of nations violated by the Communists – especially today? You quote ‘volumes of evidence’ – tell me ‘Sam’ – what is it you do in your life that you can make decisions of such great importance under the gun that you can find fault with the people who wrestle with far greater questions than ‘Kittens for Satan’ and under whose decisions rest the security of the American people? I would really like to know. 5) As for the entire Newsweek question? You state this first: ‘Had Newsweek been able to prove it, then I say it would be Patriotic to eventually and responsibly publish this proof as much as it was to break the Abu Gharaib [sic] story.’ Which is an unequivocal ‘YOU GO’ to Newsweek. I have already stated in my posts above that it would have taken a complete idiot to not be aware of the consequences of publishing said story in the wake of the Abu Ghraib fiasco. You go on to state of the not-so august publication: ‘If they did have proof, then they should have then tried to establish whether or not the act was a necessary tool in the fight against our enemies. If it was provably not a necessary act, then and only then would I approve of its publishing.’ Excuse me, but you’re asking the Fourth Estate to abandon its impartiality here? And you’re stating that the Fourth Estate should be the sole determinant of whether the information is harmful in the War on Terror? You are simultaneously asking for them to take sides and use the information selectively? That is what ‘information agencies’ do with propaganda, not responsible news organizations in the Western World! ‘Life is important, but life is also an arena of eternal conflict and difficult moral choices with little reliable information to act on.’ Precisely. And as such, it is virtually impossible to guarantee cut and dried outcomes and actions based on total knowledge. I might have an FO call in a JDAM strike on a position we’re taking fire from, and it might kill an extended family of civilians trapped in the building that I am unaware of. My comrades and I survive, while Al Jazeera plasters pictures of doll-faced children with small hands being pulled dead from the rubble. Now will I be held accountable? Only if I knew there were civilians trapped in the building and knew that the force used is excessive and disproportionate to the threat involved. The key here is AVAILABLE KNOWLEDGE AT THE TIME. Not some dream of 20/20 vision you are so enamored of. And this is the ‘important’ part – Newsweek could NOT have failed to act without knowledge of the consequences of its actions in publishing the Koran desecration report. For it to be absolved of awareness of potential consequences would take proof of such negligence and incompetence as to render the newsmagazine unworthy of further printing. The onus is on Newsweek to prove they did not know what they were instigating when they published the report. They have not been able to refute this in any measure whatsoever and have admitted that it was just unsubstantiated conjecture they were publishing. Is that not criminal negligence in the wake of the death and destruction it has evidently caused and could reasonably have foreseen to have caused in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal? And you? What do you say? It was ‘Patriotic’ of Newsweek to print this if it was true, in the full knowledge that it would kill dozens? Murdoc states rightly that this information should have been withheld to save lives. What do you say? That this information ‘might harm American ‘interests’. What the heck is so sacrosanct about these ‘interests’?’ Well, when the ‘interests’ happen to be human lives, including those of over 250 million American citizens, I rather think that’s sacrosanct and worth fighting – and dying for. To this sensible line of thought, you state: ‘We are all going to die anyway; we can’t even reliably choose how we are going to die. But we can choose how we live now. Ten thousand years and billions of deaths from now noone will remember or even care how we lived or died. Imperfect as we and the world are, all that matters is that right now we face our doom with the dignity of having lived with as much virtue as humanly possible.’ I don’t know about you, but I live in the here and now. So do my people. If you want ‘virtue’ at the cost of human life, you can have it on the cheap. Get yourself recruited by the enemy with their perversion of the Islamic faith that holds twisted ‘virtues’ over human life and serve as a poster boy or whatever moral catamite you wish to be. I, on the other hand, with millions of others, stand by virtues that DEFEND human life: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, simple Truth and Justice for All. You want to be a cynic? Read the Declaration of Independence. You want to fight against ‘Evil Government’ by applauding irresponsible reporting and actions that kill innocent people and create a recruiting drive for the enemy? You go ahead and champion those views. When was the last time you saluted the national colors? Recited the Pledge of Allegiance? Did something for the nation? Oh right, you pay taxes. Thank you for contributing to my Battalion’s ammo budget. What else? I would love to know. The views you have demonstrated have no place in the minds of those true to this nation’s military, or to the security of the American people. Like many insincere humanists, you take a few cheap shots at government, make some feeble attempts to establish your credentials regarding the issue at hand, and essentially state that it would be better for America to be destroyed rather than engage in (insert pet peeve) that you have no influence over. ‘The boyscout in me (and yes I can still quote the Scout Law verbatim at the drop of a hat) says it would be better to sacrifice these national ‘interests’ than become Evil’ Ah, yes, ‘sacrifice’ … I hear that a lot from people who don’t have to make any. Who are you to determine what pet moral imperatives take precedence over human life again? You go ahead, run along and save some kittens from Satan. You want to demonstrate more of your pseudo-fatalism and trite excuses for moralizing, come back for another dose with something more sensible.

  18. My delay has been entirely work-related. It’s ‘Week of the Eagles’ here at Fort Campbell, the home of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and I’ve been in a number of events. I considered keeping up with the antics of children to be a much, much lesser concern than beating out other units in such events as the Division Run. Sam, I must say you’ve written quite a bit. Therefore, I will reply to your post with painstaking detail: 1) Show where I said explicitly that you claim ‘Human Life is unimportant’ before you even try to leverage the morality argument on me, or even to try telling me what I believe in. I never said I have a ‘monopoly’ on morality either; and your invocation of such nonsensical rhetorical devices merely sets the stage for what can only be more trite assertions of equivalent low quality. 2) I hardly care what excuses you make about the ‘Kittens for Satan’ analogy, which I find fatuous if that is the best you can do at a moment’s notice. Evidently you’ve never been under the gun in an authentic timed debate, unless you’re going to quote extensive IDEA (International Debate Education Association) to demonstrate otherwise, which merely goes to show how little you must have learned. I didn’t miss any ‘detail’ – if you were going to do Murdoc the honor of a serious response, you should have taken the time to do so when you had the time instead of making the excuse of a ’30 minute lunch break’ – which, by the way, can’t be validated by anyone but you. I hardly think you are above such reproach. ‘Kittens for Satan’ – surely you cannot be making excuses for such an idiotic analogy in a serious discussion? It says volumes about the owner-author of this blog’s tolerance that he didn’t laugh openly in your face for it. As for the ‘ordinary person’ excuse, I find that your patronizing of such fine intelligent and dedicated patriots such as Bram and Murdoc, insinuating they are below ‘Ivy League’ standards is just a really trite way of saying that you’re out of your league. I will frequent whatever forum I choose, so long as the owner-author of this blog acquiesces to my presence and I follow the rules he has set down. If you are an ‘ordinary person’ out of your depth, you should refrain from commenting on matters you cannot conceivably influence, and that includes advertising yourself as a 50-meter pop-up target on the internet. I have, by the way, met many, many people in the course of my work in my current occupation and before from the ‘ordinary language’ school who had the experience and the wisdom to back up their views without resorting to asinine comparisons and trite moral grandstanding. Simple language is effective in the hands of dedicated and experienced individuals who have that rare quality of ‘introspection’ which seems to be missing from far too many these days. 3) I find your definition of ‘Evil’ versus ‘evil’ to be patent nonsense. Your semantic acrobatics trying to split hairs on deciding whether a certain reprehensible action was justified or not is merely you placing yourself in a position of omniscience you enjoy thanks to hindsight and maximum distance from the hard questions at hand. Perhaps you may know that the destruction at Hiroshima was so through that no communications with Tokyo were possible for many days; and that when the scale of destruction was finally contemplated and surrender was on the verge of being offered, Nagasaki was hit. By the way, Nagasaki was home to the largest community of foreigners in Japan at the time; Chinese, Koreans, Europeans, many were killed unnecessarily. Is it regrettable? This is what you say (emphasis in CAPS is mine): ‘While each of these is certainly harmful, regretable, perhaps EVEN IMMORAL, they might NOT have been ‘Evil’ if they were truly necessary to win’ Who are you to determine necessity with the poverty of your sources of information? Who are you to determine what is just and unjust, to the extent of countenancing an EVIL ACT even if, by your own admission it may have been IMMORAL? What is necessity to you? Something you determine by an arbitary measurement of convenience or some vague notions of ‘what is right’ perhaps? 4) If you have read Machiavelli, you have not understood him; maybe the likes of Jomini and Clausewitz would be beyond you? If you have read Sun Tzu in translation (and the vast majority of translations are garbage) perhaps you would be lost reading Zhuge Liang Kung Ming? Who are you, once again to determine whether a certain act or level of act is unjustified? Thus, should I be jailed because I put seven rounds in an Iraqi insurgent, even though it can be virtually guaranteed the first two killed him thanks to shot placement and the remaining five were ‘unnecessary’? Who are you or anyone else to judge me? If you’re going to mention Iran, how about Chile and Salvador Allende? Or every other nation destabilized fighting the Communists? Or how about the far GREATER number of nations violated by the Communists – especially today? You quote ‘volumes of evidence’ – tell me ‘Sam’ – what is it you do in your life that you can make decisions of such great importance under the gun that you can find fault with the people who wrestle with far greater questions than ‘Kittens for Satan’ and under whose decisions rest the security of the American people? I would really like to know.

  19. My last post is in error … if it could be deleted as it is the product of duplication, that’d be greatly appreciated.

  20. It’s a little late, but Newsweek has the right to publish whatever it wants to, provided the information is exposing problems & not tactical secrets. If it publishes crappy articles, let the public punish them by not buying the product. To use a good correlation to this national interests issue, did it not hurt our reputation in other countries when the monica lewinsky (probably mispelled) scandal broke? Why don’t you guys rant on them? Sure, it was for the most part true, but was it worth the damage that was done to the presidents reputation? I think it was, but hey, if you’re going to start censoring, why not?

  21. William: The difference is that no one would get outraged and riot lethally over the Lewinsky story. It’s a fact that it happened over this Newsweek story. The reason that I think they’re unpatriotic, though is that the harm our ‘reputation’ will suffer is going to result in dead US soldiers. As for ‘censorship’, I was very clear that I don’t favor censorship by the gov’t or the military. I’m calling for Newsweek to practice a little self-censorship about this sort of thing in the same way they practice self-censorship about hundreds of other issues.