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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  May 2011

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE May 2011

Subject:

Re: Raid Account, Hastily Told, Proves Fluid

From:

Stuart Newman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 6 May 2011 15:39:27 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (292 lines)

Michael, while I generally agree with your advice about not going off-subject, 
the list not only concerns "science" but also "for the people." That's why many 
posters keep coming back to questions of social institutions, censorship, war, 
capitialism, and socialism. If we can't air differences about what does or does 
not consttiute government activities in the public interest, no amount of 
discussion about science or narrowly defined science policy issues will bring us 
forward. 

On Fri, 6 May 2011 11:57:45 -0700, Michael H Goldhaber 
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>While these issues are serious and important, I don't think they are suitable 
for this list. Please try to confine discussion to those issues that have 
relevant science-related content. Otherwise we could get into almost 
anything, such as Supreme Court rulings, random Senate hearings, the 
budget, any number of international issues, and much else. Surely there are 
plenty of science-related issues worth discussing. 
>
>Best,
>Michael
>
>On May 6, 2011, at 9:54 AM, Michael Balter wrote:
>
>> This is one of Greenwald's best posts, and despite its length I read it all. It 
is well argued, although I would add a third group to the two he characterizes:
>> 
>> "I think what's really going on here is that there are a large number of 
people who have adopted the view that bin Laden's death is an unadulterated 
Good, and it therefore simply does not matter how it happened (ends justify 
the means, roughly speaking). There are, I think, two broad groups adopting 
this mindset: (1) those, largely on the Right, who believe the U.S. is at War 
and anything we do to our Enemies is basically justifiable; and (2) those, 
mostly Democrats, who reject that view -- who genuinely believe in general in 
due process and adherence to ostensible Western norms of justice -- yet who 
view bin Laden as a figure of such singular Evil (whether in reality or as a 
symbol) that they're willing to make an exception in his case, willing to waive 
away their principles just for him: creating the Osama bin Laden Exception."
>> 
>> The third group would be leftists like me, who are very interested in 
knowing all the details, but who think the left has nothing to gain by making a 
big fight over the way bin Laden was killed and want to move on to higher 
priority issues. Stuart continues to misunderstand my position on this. And, 
there is little relationship between the news media updating its coverage of 
this as it learns more details and the conspiracy theories that are already 
circulating and which I have made reference to.
>> 
>> Also, I see little so far to criticize in the news media's handling of this. 
During the first 24 hours, the media had little choice but to report what it was 
told by Obama adminstration officials. Since then, reporters have developed 
their own sources, both within and outside the administration (including among 
Pakistani officials) and have increasingly reported new versions of the story as 
the week as gone on. Most or all of what Greenwald and members of this list 
now know about the killing of bin Laden, and most of what they will know in 
the future, comes from the very news media they are accusing of being in 
cahoots with the White House.
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> MB
>> 
>> On Fri, May 6, 2011 at 5:58 PM, Stuart Newman <[log in to unmask]> 
wrote:
>> Since the retailing of the Government's excuses by Elizabeth Bumiller of the
>> New York Times, and the implicit self-justification by the Times for their 
earlier
>> slapdash journalism, are now offered as a scientific lesson to the conspiracy
>> theorists on this list, I present Glenn Greenwald's latest commentary on this
>> issue. I don't deny that it is "long", which was one of the criticisms Michael 
B
>> lodged against Greenwald's posts. But those not too busy to read it can 
judge
>> for themselves whether it is also (as claimed) irrelevant or self-righteous.
>> 
>> http://salon.com/a/sYzQfAA
>> 
>> 
>> On Fri, 6 May 2011 16:11:15 +0200, Michael Balter
>> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> 
>> >http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/06/world/asia/06memo.html?
>> _r=1&emc=eta1
>> >
>> >I'm sure conspiracy theorists won't believe a word of this, but as
>> >scientists, we should realize that the most parsimonious explanation is
>> >usually the correct one.
>> >
>> >MB
>> >
>> >May 5, 2011
>> >Raid Account, Hastily Told, Proves Fluid By ELISABETH
>> 
>BUMILLER<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/elis
>> abeth_bumiller/index.html?inline=nyt-per>
>> >
>> >WASHINGTON � On Monday, the Obama administration said that Osama 
bin
>> 
>Laden<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/osama_
>> bin_laden/index.html?inline=nyt-per>
>> >had
>> >been killed after a firefight with Navy
>> 
>Seal<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/n/na
>> vy_seals/index.html?inline=nyt-org>commandos,
>> >and that he had used his wife as a human shield. On Tuesday, the
>> >administration said that Bin Laden was not armed at all, and that his wife
>> >had not been a shield, but had rushed her husband�s assaulter and was 
shot
>> >in the leg.
>> >
>> >On Wednesday, the administration backtracked again. This time it
>> downgraded
>> >its initial accounts of a firefight that raged throughout the raid to
>> >gunshots fired only at the beginning of the nearly 40-minute operation by
>> >Bin Laden�s courier, who was quickly dispatched by the commandos.
>> >
>> >What happened?
>> >
>> >In the view of officials from past and present presidencies, it was a
>> >classic collision of a White House desire to promote a stunning national
>> >security triumph � and feed a ravenous media � while collecting facts 
from a
>> >chaotic military operation on the other side of the world. At the same 
time,
>> >White House officials worked hard to use the facts of the raid to diminish
>> >Bin Laden�s legacy.
>> >
>> >�There has never been any intent to deceive or dramatize,� a military
>> >official said Thursday, asking that he not be named because of ground 
rules
>> >imposed by the Department of Defense. �Everything we put out we really
>> >believed to be true at the time.�
>> >
>> >Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security
>> 
>Council<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/n/
>> national_security_council/index.html?inline=nyt-org>,
>> >said that as more and more members of the 79-member assault team were
>> >debriefed after the raid, revisions inevitably occurred.
>> >
>> >�It was the middle of the night, it was a hectic operation in a foreign
>> >country, there was gunfire, so people�s accounts are clarified over time
>> >with more interviews,� Mr. Vietor said. �What we did was make as much
>> >information available to you guys as quickly as we could, and correct
>> >mistakes as quickly as we could.�
>> >
>> >But the shifting narrative may have distracted from the accomplishments 
of
>> >the Seal team and raised suspicions, particularly in the Arab world, that
>> >the United States might be trying to conceal some of the facts of the
>> >operation, including that Bin Laden was unarmed.
>> >
>> >�It�s had a hugely negative impact,� said Ahmed Rashid, a journalist and
>> >author who is an expert on the
>> 
>Taliban<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/t/
>> taliban/index.html?inline=nyt-org>
>> >and
>> >radical Islamism. White House officials �were overexcited, obviously,� Mr.
>> >Rashid said.
>> >
>> >�Liberal Muslims who are very sympathetic to the death of Bin Laden 
really
>> >don�t know what to think,� he said. �The American story is very 
confused.�
>> >
>> >From Europe, even the archbishop of Canterbury weighed in. At a news
>> >briefing on Thursday, the Most Rev. Rowan
>> 
>Williams<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/rowa
>> n_williams/index.html?inline=nyt-per>
>> >said
>> >that the killing of an unarmed man left him �uncomfortable� and that 
�the
>> >different versions of events that have emerged in recent days have not 
done
>> >a great deal to help.�
>> >
>> >Many of the discrepancies at the White House came from the man who 
has
>> been
>> >part of the Bin Laden hunt for 15 years, John O.
>> 
>Brennan<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/john_
>> o_brennan/index.html?inline=nyt-per>,
>> >the president�s chief counterterrorism adviser.
>> >
>> >�Here is Bin Laden, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this
>> >million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the
>> >front, hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield,� Mr.
>> >Brennan said at a White House
>> >briefing<http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/05/02/press-
>> briefing-press-secretary-jay-carney-and-assistant-president-homela>
>> >on
>> >Monday. �I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has
>> >been over the years.�
>> >
>> >The White House recanted Mr. Brennan�s assertions about the human 
shield
>> the
>> >next day, and news media accounts later suggested that the $1 million 
price
>> >put on Bin Laden�s compound in the affluent hamlet of Abbottabad was
>> highly
>> >generous. The administration stuck with the number, but The Associated
>> Press
>> >has reported that the four original plots of land that were joined to create
>> >the compound were bought for $48,000 in 2004 and 2005.
>> >
>> >Administration officials said they felt an obligation to the news media and
>> >the public to put out information about the raid after the president�s
>> >speech late Sunday night that announced Bin Laden�s killing. They said 
they
>> >were also eager to get the facts out before the Pakistanis and that
>> >country�s powerful spy agency, the Directorate of Inter-Services
>> 
>Intelligence<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizatio
>> ns/i/interservices_intelligence/index.html?inline=nyt-org>,
>> >or ISI, offered their own facts and interpretation of events.
>> >
>> >�Do we think it�s a good thing for the ISI to be the first ones out of the
>> >box?� an administration official asked rhetorically, alluding to the belief
>> >among administration officials that some elements of the ISI may have ties
>> >to Bin Laden and the Afghan Taliban.
>> >
>> >But the people who had the best information about the raid, the Seal
>> >members, did not undergo detailed debriefings until after they flew back to
>> >the United States, a Congressional official said. As the official told it,
>> >the Seal commandos returned to their base, went to sleep, were woken 
up
>> >Tuesday morning � and then the extensive debriefings began.
>> >
>> >It is unclear whether the early information about the raid came from quick
>> >conversations with the Seal members, their commanders or other people
>> >involved. But administration officials said Thursday that everyone in the
>> >American government � in the White House, the Pentagon and the
>> 
>C.I.A.<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/c
>> entral_intelligence_agency/index.html?inline=nyt-org>
>> >�
>> >was working off the same sheet of information.
>> >
>> >Public affairs professionals from previous administrations in Washington
>> >were generally sympathetic. �They were in a tough spot,� said Victoria
>> 
>Clarke<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/victoria
>> _clarke/index.html?inline=nyt-per>,
>> >a Pentagon spokeswoman from President George W.
>> 
>Bush<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/george_
>> w_bush/index.html?inline=nyt-per>�s
>> >first term. �First reports are always wrong. It�s a fundamental truth in
>> >military affairs.�
>> >
>> >David Rohde contributed reporting.
>> >
>> >--
>> >******************************************
>> >Michael Balter
>> >Contributing Correspondent, Science
>> >Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
>> >New York University
>> >
>> >Email:  [log in to unmask]
>> >Web:    michaelbalter.com
>> >NYU:    journalism.nyu.edu/faculty/michael-balter/
>> >******************************************
>> >
>> >"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the 
poor
>> >have no food, they call me a Communist." -- H�lder Pessoa C�mara
>> >
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> -- 
>> ******************************************
>> Michael Balter
>> Contributing Correspondent, Science
>> Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
>> New York University
>> 
>> Email:  [log in to unmask]
>> Web:    michaelbalter.com
>> NYU:    journalism.nyu.edu/faculty/michael-balter/
>> ****************************************** 
>> 
>> "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the 
poor have no food, they call me a Communist." -- Hélder Pessoa Câmara
>
>

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