'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, June 29, 2007

Bush and Al-Qaeda Fighters vs. Liberal Bloggers and Mainstream Newspapers 

About a week ago Glenn Greenwald posted a piece called "Everyone we fight in Iraq is now 'al-Qaida'", about the change in White House rhetoric such that Bush and his sock puppets currently insist on referring to the insurgents in Iraq as "al-Qaeda fighters" rather than as "insurgents". I had meant to flag the Greenwald post because I had noticed the same thing, and Greenwald had saved me the trouble of having to write about it.

Labeling everyone the US fights in Iraq as "al-Qaeda" is, of course, wildly inaccurate: it's common knowledge that foreign fighters are the smallest group of militants in Iraq, and even if that were not the case referring to foreign fighters as "al-Qaeda fighters" would still be deeply misleading.

As Greenwald and others have pointed out, this is a new development. Remember that whole almost year-long era of White House Frank-Talk-on-Iraq? -- when Bush would gamely characterize the largest group of insurgents as "Sunni rejectionists", i.e. ordinary Iraqis. In a post about Bush's State of the Union last year, for example, I was talking about the Frank-Talk-on-Iraq era when I wrote

The talking heads in the State of the Union postmortems seemed to be enchanted by Bush's distinction between the good war critics and the bad war critics; however, that whole line was boiler-plate from the nineteen thousand terrorists-rejectionists-and-Saddamists speeches he gave in the fall after his numbers dipped below forty.

Greenwald makes it pretty clear that this new direction in White House and Pentagon rhetoric is intentionally deceptive, and he discusses the extent to which the media is complicit in the deception.

Anyway, why am I bringing this up? -- check out this article from McClatchy Newspapers:

Facing eroding support for his Iraq policy, even among Republicans, President Bush on Thursday called al Qaida "the main enemy" in Iraq, an assertion rejected by his administration's senior intelligence analysts.

The reference, in a major speech at the Naval War College that referred to al Qaida at least 27 times, seemed calculated to use lingering outrage over the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to bolster support for the current buildup of U.S. troops in Iraq, despite evidence that sending more troops hasn't reduced the violence or sped Iraqi government action on key issues.[...]

U.S. military and intelligence officials, however, say that Iraqis with ties to al Qaida are only a small fraction of the threat to American troops. The group known as al Qaida in Iraq didn't exist before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, didn't pledge its loyalty to al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden until October 2004 and isn't controlled by bin Laden or his top aides.

You know, Glenn Greenwald is as close to mainstream media as you can get and still be a blogger -- actually, in a sense, he's not a blogger: he's a columnist for Salon -- so he's probably widely read among journalists. I don't think it's far-fetched to believe that the above is the result of the Greenwald post. One might imagine we'd see more newspaper articles like the above given that Bush's numbers have been in Nixon territory for as long as I can remember now, but what do I know.

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