October 17, 2003

Speak the Truth and the LA Times Will Investigate You

"...if you didn't know it before, the central LA Times editorial policy seems to have become 'The right tool for the right job.'"

The elephant in the room when it comes to The First Terrorist War is that nobody is allowed to say that it is, after all, a religious war. The President knows this, but can't say it. Members of the clergy know this but can't say it. Millions of citizens know this, but don't say it.

Why? Because it would be insensitive, divisive and politically incorrect to say it. It is one of the ironies of history that this has become the first religious war that cannot be called a religious war. Except, of course, by the Radical Islamic elements and their millions of supporters here and around the world. It is as if we've agreed to deliberately misunderstand the definition of "Jihad" in order to spare the tender feelings of the Muslims among us.

But, it would seem that one person, former commander of Army Special Forces, Lt. Gen. William Boykin, is on record as telling the truth that dare not speak its name. "This summer, Boykin was promoted to deputy undersecretary of defense, with a new mission for which many say he is uniquely qualified: to aggressively combine intelligence with special operations and hunt down so-called high-value terrorist targets including bin Laden and Saddam."

But Boykin is a devout Christian and has made statements that underscore his belief that this is, after all is said and done, a religious war. Worse still, he has said these things at churches while in, gasp, uniform. Naturally, secular interests can't have that. They simply can't abide it. Result, the beginnings of a media backed campaign to discredit and dislodge him:

Why are terrorists out to destroy the United States? Boykin said:“They’re after us because we’re a Christian nation.”

NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin, who’s been investigating Boykin for the Los Angeles Times, says the general casts the war on terror as a religious war: “I think that it is not only at odds with what the president believes, but it is a dangerous, extreme and pernicious view that really has no place.” Top terrorist hunter

It would seem that the oft-quoted pundit and "military analyst" Bill Arkin, has more than one axe to grind against the Pentagon as the article linked here shows.

It is also interesting to see that he is privy to "what the President believes" rather than what the President says he believes. Since Mr. Arkin's ability to know the President's mind is dubious, what his statement really tells us is that Mr.Arkin believes that the General's stance is "a dangerous, extreme and pernicious view that really has no place." All well and good since it tells us up-front the assumptions and beliefs that will form the foundation of Arkin's forthcoming "impartial investigation" of Boykin.I'm sure it will be held to the same high standards of journalism we've recently come to expect from the L. A. Times.

By the way, did we mention that Arkin, besides working for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and MSNBC as a "Senior Military Analyst," has also done a lot of work for Human Rights Watch? Nice to have your news cut on the bias. It makes everything that much more predictable.

UPDATE: Mr. Arkin's investigative report as "Commentary" is here. Arkin is identified as a "military affairs analyst who writes regularly for The Times."

The LATimes news story on this issue on the same day is here and written by one "Richard T. Cooper, Times Staff Writer." Cooper leans heavily on Arkin and his "commentary" for the hard news item.

The NBC Nightly News item was credited as being created "by Lisa Myers and the NBC Investigative Unit." Other than quotes and clips the foremost person asked to comment on the story was " NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin."

Besides his work for Human Rights Watch, one of Arkin's hobbies is
"compiling a long-term data base of civilian casualties in U.S. wars since 1991."

It is also interesting to note that last January, in his farewell Dot.Mil column in the Washington Post, Arkin was concerned that the adminstration was dissing the "uniformed military"

" The current Bush administration started down a path of stifling dialog and marginalizing the uniformed military long before the attacks on September 11. Initially Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld went to war against the uniformed leadership under the guise of transformation" Farewell
Evidently Boykin is the "wrong" kind of uniformed military because he has strong religious convictions and speaks his mind.

Other interesting items on Arkin's resume include:

"He served as the director of Greenpeace International's war response team during the Gulf War and served in the US army from 1974 to 1978." - via Democracy Now

He still has a viable email address at the Institute for Global Communications whose mission statement reads: "...played a formative role in bringing advanced communications technologies to grassroots organizations worldwide working for peace, human rights, environmental sustainability, women's rights, conflict resolution and worker rights. Our flagship global computer networks -- PeaceNet, EcoNet, WomensNet, ConflictNet, LaborNet and AntiRacismNet -- became trademark names in the struggle for democratic use of the media and the world's communications infrastructure."

I'd think that instead of stopping at the terse designation of Mr. Arkin as a "military analyst" it would behoove various media outlets to also trumpet his experience in Human Rights Watch, Greenpeace, and the Institute for Global Communications. After all, it helps to know where our military analysis is coming from.

It also helps to know that, if you didn't know it before, the central LA Times editorial policy seems to have become "The right tool for the right job."

Posted by Vanderleun at October 17, 2003 8:46 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

"It is the soldier, not the reporter who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag."

~Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, Sergeant, USMC

Posted by: Skeej at October 17, 2003 2:44 PM

It's a religious war on their side.

On our side it should not - I'd say must not - be a religious war at all. It's a war of liberal, secular democracy against repressive religious dictatorships.

It's not like the Islamists have a soft spot for Jews or Hindus or Buddhists or atheists.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at October 17, 2003 3:28 PM

That's putting too fine an edge to it. Say rather, that it is a war between Radical Islam and Freedom.

Posted by: Vanderleun at October 17, 2003 4:15 PM

"Uniformed military"? As opposed to... the part of the military that doesn't wear uniforms? Perhaps someone could help me out here.

Posted by: jeanne a e devoto at October 17, 2003 7:42 PM

Uniformed military implies reference to sworn members of the military whose personal authority is comprimised by military service, as opposed to a more general reference to the military which could include civilian support personnel, reservists, materiel and the political will to provide military resources.

Posted by: joe-bob dudley at October 17, 2003 9:31 PM