Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 10:40 pm

When I called the war in Afghanistan “the longest war” …

… looks like I was more right than I knew.

I snarked that there was no way the copper, gold, lithium, etc., supposedly in Afghanistan was “newly discovered.” But what I didn’t think about was why The New York Times might pimp a decades-old story now.

Because the war in Afghanistan is shaping up as a failure and our deadline for withdrawing arrives within a year. Duh:

… guaranteed U.S. access to “strategic reserves” of “strategic minerals”, where possession is nine tenths of the game and the resources are just as valuable still in the ground as mined and processed for market, is a heady brew to mostly-hawkish senior policymakers and Very Serious think-tankers, especially if the end of the sentence goes “and China doesn’t get them.” [New York Times reporter James] Risen’s stenography isn’t aimed at us, but at them and will be used to add some geopolitical weight to the arguments McChrystal and others are already beginning to make as to why they should be allowed to break their promise to Obama and the U.S. should stay in Afghanistan a few years longer.

The people jumping up and down, screaming, “We’ve got to DO something before the ChiNEEEEESE get all the precious!”  are some of the same people who lied us into a war. Of course they would pull a stunt like this, and I’m ashamed that I didn’t jump immediately to that conclusion or one very much like it.

UPDATE: Oh, for crying out loud, Risen even admits it:

“Several months ago, Milt [former CIA officer Milt Bearden, who was active in Afghanistan in the 1980s] started telling me about what they were finding,” Risen said. “At the beginning of the year, I said I wanted to do a story on it.” At first both Bearden and Brinkley [Paul Brinkley, a deputy undersecretary of defense charged with rebuilding the Afghan economy, with whom Bearden is now working] resisted, Risen said, but he eventually wore them down. “Milt convinced Brinkley to talk to me,” he said, “and Brinkley convinced other Pentagon officials to go on the record. I think Milt realized that things were going so badly in Afghanistan that people would be willing to talk about this.”

Memo to the New York Times ombudsman: Having a Times staff writer pimping an exploitative pro-war policy (which, by the way, would violate a military agreement between the U.S. and another sovereign nation) to the Very Serious People of Washington is a wee bit of an ethics problem. Particularly when that war is going badly. Just sayin’.

Saturday, May 1, 2010 10:12 pm

Well, I’m glad Obama has gotten all the torturers, illegal wiretappers, banksters and other criminals locked up …

… because otherwise it’s kind of difficult to see why he’d be wasting time and money on this:

The Obama administration is seeking to compel a writer to testify about his confidential sources for a 2006 book about the Central Intelligence Agency, a rare step that was authorized by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

The author, James Risen, who is a reporter for The New York Times, received a subpoena on Monday requiring him to provide documents and to testify May 4 before a grand jury in Alexandria, Va., about his sources for a chapter of his book, “State of War: The Secret History of the C.I.A. and the Bush Administration.” The chapter largely focuses on problems with a covert C.I.A. effort to disrupt alleged Iranian nuclear weapons research.

Mr. Risen referred questions to his lawyer, Joel Kurtzberg, a partner at Cahill Gordon & Reindel L.L.P., who said that Mr. Risen would not comply with the demand and would ask a judge to quash the subpoena.

“He intends to honor his commitment of confidentiality to his source or sources,” Mr. Kurtzberg said. “We intend to fight this subpoena.”

The subpoena comes two weeks after the indictment of a former National Security Agency official on charges apparently arising from an investigation into a series of Baltimore Sun articles that exposed technical failings and cost overruns of several agency programs that cost billions of dollars.

The lead prosecutor in both investigations is William Welch II. He formerly led the Justice Department’s public integrity unit, but left that position in October after its botched prosecution of Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.

Matthew A. Miller, a Justice Department spokesman, declined to discuss the subpoena to Mr. Risen or to confirm its existence. “As a general matter, we have consistently said that leaks of classified information are a matter we take extremely seriously,” he said.

Mr. Risen and a colleague won a Pulitzer Prize for a December 2005 New York Times article that exposed the existence of the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program. While many critics — including Barack Obama, then a senator — called that program illegal, the Bush administration denounced the article as a damaging leak of classified information and opened an investigation into its sources. No one has been indicted in that matter.

It was wrong when Bush did it (and I mean specifically to Risen; the Bush DOJ pulled this same stunt two years ago). It’s wrong now that Obama’s doing it. Also, tip o’ the hat to Marcy Wheeler for noting that the prosecutor on this case is William Welch, the same William Welch who screwed the pooch on the Ted Stevens prosecution and was up to his eyeballs in the highly questionable Don Siegleman prosecution. Memo to Obama: If I’d wanted a third Bush term, I’d’ve voted for one.

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