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Michael:

I agree that we were doing pretty well for awhile and I appreciated your informational posts after you returned to the list.  But then, you decided to be provocative again, as you said yourself.

I still think that to call Chomsky a liar based on that bin Laden story and some other unnamed evidence is, in essence, lying.  It is not cute or fun, but really serious.  I don't believe, by the way, that I ever claimed that Chomsky is right, or that I agree with him on everything.  In fact, I seldom think about what Chomsky says, in particular about 9/11, but sometimes I listen to his overview of US foreign policy, but not often.

I tried to tell you in a whole bunch of ways why I was objecting to what you were writing.  You call it my obsession with you.  No, I am concerned with how you treat information and with your characterizations of others on and off this list.

Ignore me.  Listen, really listen, to Claudia.

I'm done.

Larry

From: Michael Balter <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Thu, 12 May 2011 20:02:01 +0200
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Post Exclusive: Bin Laden consumed with repeating attack on U.S., officials say

The only response this deserves is to say again that Chomsky's original statements that there is no evidence linking Bin Laden to 9/11 are wildly off the mark, and that the material reported by the Post is not based on "hearsay" but on interviews with individuals who have directly accessed the materials taken from Bin Laden's hideout. Many, many newspaper stories are based on this kind of sourcing. Eventually, the administration will probably release some of the actual documents, or perhaps make photocopies or translations of them available to the media. That would be better, of course.

(I will add parenthetically that without the mainstream media and the reporting it does, the average American would be even more ignorant than he/she already is. That goes for leftists too. But of course it is legitimate to question the accuracy and possible biases in reporting, the only problem is that one must do that across the board and not only when one disagrees with the political implications of a particular story, as I said before. No one on the left questions reporting in mainstream media that is critical of the US government. )

My interpretation of the Post story is that it provides corroborating evidence for what we already know from previous evidence. To call me a liar, as Larry just did,  because I see it that way,  is a baseless personal attack.

As for the rest, Larry needs to get a life. He has become seriously obsessed with me and what I post here, and he needs to figure out some way to get over it. I will continue to post what I consider relevant material to the interests of this list, and to express myself politically.

Now, I have been saying that for years. Will Larry ever begin to believe that I will not be intimidated or suppressed or "shamed" into behaving any differently? Or will he continue to regale the list with his attacks on me?

We were doing pretty well lately being more civil to each other, but some people just cannot stand being confronted with anything they disagree with or with criticisms of Sacred Cows like Chomsky. Thus the step up in personal attacks on me.

MB



On Thu, May 12, 2011 at 7:38 PM, Larry Romsted <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Michael

Your response disturbs me deeply.

In essence, I wrote that you lied about how the story about stuff on bin Laden's computer reflected on Chomsky.  Instead of responding directly, you changed the subject.

You wrote initially: 

"The following report would seem to give the lie to Chomsky's insistence that there is no evidence bin Laden had anything to do with 9/11, and by implication with other terrorist attacks."

I responded that the report itself did nothing of the sort.  There was no evidence in the story by Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung, unnamed sources or not, that bin Laden had anything to do with 9/11.  You did not dispute my statement.

Then I showed you that the story was totally unsubstantiated because there was no evidence and the sources were unnamed.  Newspapers can also hold back publishing stories that are not well documented until the documentation is clear.  [I have seen the NYT editors write that they take pride in holding back stories until they are ready.]  I face the same tension of not publishing results in journals until the conclusions are fully supported by the experimental data.  Promotion and grant funding also depend on getting papers out.  Don't tell me I don't understand. 

You write:

"Some of the descriptions of the materials found in Bin Laden's hideout could turn out to be completely inaccurate. [who knows I add] But to refuse to believe any of it because it would clash with one's own ideological views is the height of special pleading. I regret that this is Larry's habitual method of argument."

Where did I write that I did not believe any of it?  That is nonsense.  What of my ideological views (and how do you know my ideological views?) are being specially pleaded.  Then you say it is my habitual method of argument.  I don't even know what you are talking about?

Michael:  I really think you twist the meaning of what I write.  I don't know why you do this.

Finally, a question?  What is your purpose is submitting to a Science for the People discussion list a hearsay story about what is on bin Laden's computer if it is not to provoke argument about issues irrelevant to the list?

I am not particularly troubled by the Post story itself.  I read the Post online periodically.  I am used to newspapers publishing stuff like that periodically.  No big deal to me. I withhold judgement.  I hope you do too.

I am deeply troubled, however, that you send it to this list and then use it to smear Chomsky [smear because what you wrote is false, see above] and some unnamed people you call serious leftists.  Who are these people?  Do you mean the people on this list?  Some particular leftist organizations?  The left Democrats?  Who?

To me, this is troll like behavior.

Larry




From: Michael Balter <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Thu, 12 May 2011 15:51:36 +0200Subject: Re: Post Exclusive: Bin Laden consumed with repeating attack on U.S., officials say

I'm only going to respond very briefly to Larry's detailed post, as follows: I'm afraid that Larry doesn't understand how journalism works. It often relies on unnamed sources in the initial stages of uncovering a story. We didn't find out who Deep Throat was for some 30 years, but he existed and he was right about pretty much everything. Likewise, when the New York Times and the Washington Post publish information based on unnamed intelligence sources that we want to believe--eg Risen's and others' expose of Bush administration spying on Americans--we believe every word.

Chomsky himself has relied very heavily on such media reports, even though they inevitably involve unnamed sources.

Some of the descriptions of the materials found in Bin Laden's hideout could turn out to be completely inaccurate. But to refuse to believe any of it because it would clash with one's own ideological views is the height of special pleading. I regret that this is Larry's habitual method of argument.

But I'm glad that he is taking the time and trouble to read the material that I post here. That means my work on this list is valuable and worthwhile.

MB

On Thu, May 12, 2011 at 3:39 PM, Larry Romsted <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Michael:

Your statements below remind me of a FOX news broadcast.  Conclusions based on unnamed sources without verifiable documentation in a newspaper (Washington Post) article; one hallmark of polemicists.  I am surprised that you as a serious leftist would fall for it.  

I did a little "scientific" investigation.  I went through the Post article below and looked for the name of an expert or expert whose "expertise" could, in principle, be checked.  This is an obvious reaction by me because you claim that Chomsky relies almost entirely on secondary sources.  So, I decided to evaluate the credibility of the sources that you use for drawing your conclusion that " give the lie to Chomsky's insistence that there is no evidence bin Laden had anything to do with 9/11."  I conclude that you see the Washington Post as fount of truth so trustworthy that if they write "unnamed source" or "US Intelligence official" we should just believe them.

Also, none of the information in the article addresses evidence concerning 9/11.  So how could it demonstrate that Chomsky is lying about the evidence that bin Laden carried out 9/11?

Do you believe that unnamed sources never lie to the public?  Do you believe the intelligence officials never manipulate the press or reporters? Do you believe it is wise to accept as truthful stories that are free of documentation?

I think I. F. Stone would be very, very disappointed in you.

Me, before drawing conclusions about what Osama has done and what was the truth about how he died, I will wait for the publishing of that treasure trove of documents that is mentioned below and give time for people to analyze it.

Yea, I know in about 50 years.  But what is important to building a strong left is not this execution, but to struggle for social justice and protection of the planet.  In that sense Evo Morales and the Bolivian government are in the forefront.  I have forgotten exactly what they have done, but they are pushing legislation to protect mother earth and the people on it.  They are way out in front of the US federal government.

I have highlighted some text in red.

Larry

From: Michael Balter <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Thu, 12 May 2011 08:45:24 +0200
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Fwd: Post Exclusive: Bin Laden consumed with repeating attack on U.S., officials say

Now on to more "provocative" topics.

The following report would seem to give the lie to Chomsky's insistence that there is no evidence bin Laden had anything to do with 9/11, and by implication with other terrorist attacks. But actually we've always had plenty of evidence that he was involved. It's important to remember that Chomsky is a polemicist who relies almost entirely on secondary sources, and not on his own original research. And yet he is often treated like a guru who has a special fountain of knowledge.

The meme that OBL had nothing to do with 9/11 (and yes, it is meme-like in its behavior, because it is repeated despite evidence) is simply 9/11 truth lite, and I find it surprising that serious leftists would fall for it.

What serious leftists are you talking about?  Name some names.  Christopher Hitchens?  Marc Cooper?

MB

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: The Washington Post <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Thu, May 12, 2011 at 3:45 AM
Subject: Post Exclusive: Bin Laden consumed with repeating attack on U.S., officials say
To: [log in to unmask]


Back to previous page


Bin Laden’s preoccupation with U.S. said to be source of friction with followers

GBy Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung, Published: May 11

Osama bin Laden was preoccupied with attacking the United States over all other targets, a fixation that led to friction with followers, according to U.S. intelligence officials involved in analyzing the trove of materials recovered from the al-Qaeda leader’s compound.


Unnamed U.S. Intelligence officials.  No verifiable documentary evidence supplied below.

In handwritten journals and long-winded compositions saved on computer hard drives, the officials said, bin Laden always seemed to be searching for a way to replicate the impact of al-Qaeda’s most devastating strike.

He exhorted followers to explore ways to recruit non-Muslims “who are oppressed in the United States,” in the words of one official — particularly African Americans and Latinos — and to assemble a plot in time for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Even while sealed inside a cement compound in a Pakistani city, bin Laden functioned like a crime boss pulling strings from a prison cell, sending regular messages to his most trusted lieutenants and strategic advice to far-flung franchises, including al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen. Some followers pledged their fealty to him; others, however, chafed at his exhortations to remain focused on U.S. targets instead of mounting less risky operations in places such as Yemen, Somalia and Algeria.

“Bin Laden is saying, ‘You’ve got to focus on the U.S. and the West,’ ” said a senior U.S. intelligence official who was involved in reviewing the stockpile, adding that some of bin Laden’s followers seemed more concerned with regional issues and were reluctant to conduct an attack that would provoke an American response.

A little over a week after obtaining one of the largest intelligence hauls on a terrorist group, U.S. officials involved in reviewing the trove said they are learning more about bin Laden and the al-Qaeda bureaucracy than about the locations of operatives or specific plots that might be unfolding.

Overall, the officials said, the new information — as well as the lack of any apparent effort by bin Laden to prevent it from falling into U.S. hands — provides a strikingly rich portrait of the al-Qaeda chief.

“Bin Laden got lazy and complacent,” said the senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information. “I don’t think he thought he would meet his maker in that house. And he certainly didn’t make any preparations” to escape a raid or destroy the information found inside, the official said.

Officials said they are still in triage mode as they sift through the contents of more than 110 flash drives, laptops and other digital storage devices, in addition to piles of paper documents. The trove, which represents millions of pages that must be translated from Arabic, is being scrutinized at a secret CIA facility in Northern Virginia. Analysts and Arabic linguists from other agencies are being brought in to review the materials.

The early effort has focused on searching the most recent materials for key words, including the names of major American cities. Analysts are also scanning for references to names of al-Qaeda figures, phone numbers and other details that could provide clues for CIA operatives and military counterterrorism teams working overseas.

U.S. officials said bin Laden had a relatively short list of senior al-Qaeda members whom he was in touch with frequently and directly, albeit through messages smuggled out of the compound by couriers.

Among them were Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian physician who had long functioned as bin Laden’s second in command, as well as Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan operative who is the latest to fill the organization’s vulnerable No. 3 slot.

Bin Laden’s directions tended to be big-picture in nature, officials said, focusing more on broader objectives than on granular operational details. “I wouldn’t call it command and control” that bin Laden was exercising, the senior U.S. intelligence official said. Indeed, there is no indication that bin Laden even knew the specific whereabouts of Zawahiri and others. Al-Qaeda’s fragmented nature and operational security appear to have kept its leader substantially in the dark.

“We’re not going to find operational manuals or Excel spreadsheets” with rosters of operatives and points of contact, the senior intelligence official said. Bin Laden served as a “chief executive who is giving fairly generic, broad instructions and guidance rather than tactical orders,” the official said.

Even so, the communications are expected to help the CIA and other organizations, including the National Counterterrorism Center, gain significant insights into al-Qaeda’s structure and relationship to regional affiliates.

The U.S. intelligence official said bin Laden’s records have “confirmed our view that AQAP is first among equals in terms of relationships with al-Qaeda core.” The acronym refers to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen-based group that has been behind a series of plots targeting the United States, including the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009.

Bin Laden does not appear to have been in communication with the most widely recognized AQAP figure, the American-born cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, a relative newcomer who never met the al-Qaeda leader, U.S. officials said. But bin Laden did relay messages to others in Yemen whom he appears to have known personally.

Largely because of Aulaqi’s influence, AQAP has emerged as what U.S. counterterrorism officials have described as the most immediate threat to American interests.

Because bin Laden “was the author and prime proponent of global jihad,” a central question among counterterrorism analysts is “whether some of that ebbs” with bin Laden’s death, the U.S. official said.

A second U.S. official familiar with the data review said that, based on the records, bin Laden also seemed to have placed a low priority on operations inside Afghanistan and Pakistan, urging his network to focus on efforts that will “make America weak, using Latinos and African Americans, people who are oppressed in the United States.”

Al-Qaeda has articulated such goals before. In 2007, Zawahiri issued a message that appealed in part to African Americans, saying, “We are waging jihad to lift oppression from all mankind.”

Al-Qaeda appears to have done little to recruit minorities beyond issuing such appeals, officials said. “Their recruiting has been extremely passive” in recent years, the senior U.S. intelligence official said. “It’s not like they have talent scouts at mosques in the United States.”

The trove does not point to any contact between bin Laden and members of the Pakistani military or intelligence services. The fact that bin Laden appears to have spent the past six years hiding in a compound surrounded by Pakistani military installations, including the country’s top military academy, has fueled speculation that Islamabad was protecting bin Laden or knew his whereabouts.  Could it be that ISI did not know that bin Laden was next door?

Read more on Osama bin Laden:

Guantanamo Bay detainees’ family members may be allowed to visit

Peace Corps chief expresses regret for sexual assaults on young volunteers

Some legislators will view bin Laden photos

Campaign 2012: The bin Laden factor

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

© The Washington Post Company




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******************************************
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



--
******************************************
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