Aug
12
2011

Drones in Pakistan: Equal Time for Killers?

The New York Times has a long piece (8/12/11) looking at the question of how many civilians in Pakistan are killed by CIA drones. The agency doesn't even speak about the program on the record, except to make the far-fetched claim that no civilians have died in the past year or so. The article, written by Scott Shane, includes some useful criticism of the CIA, and it's hard not to conclude that the agency's claims are not very credible. But the real problem with the piece is that it gives much weight to the CIA's defense at all, using their […]

Mar
18
2011

NYT on Pakistani Beliefs

On the release of CIA agent Raymond Davis, who was held in Pakistan on charges of killing two Pakistani men on a street in Lahore, the Times explains the reaction (3/17/11) The Davis episode was particularly sensitive because of the resentment among Pakistanis who believe that a growing American security contingent roams the country with relative impunity. The Davis incident would seem to confirm this "belief," wouldn't it?

Feb
28
2011

NYT Public Editor Explains What's Not Fit to Print

New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane (2/27/11) offers a justification that makes very little sense for his paper's concealing the fact that an American arrested in Pakistan worked for the CIA. The Times, Brisbane wrote, could not "take the risk that reporting the CIA connection would, as warned, lead to Mr. Davis's death." Davis was arrested for murder after allegedly shooting two people in Pakistan. Pakistan has the death penalty, so in theory he could be tried and executed if found guilty. Is that the risk that the New York Times is concerned about? If so, is that how […]

Feb
22
2011

Anonymously Boosting CIA Drone Strikes

The Washington Post has an interesting piece on the CIA's drone program in Pakistan (2/21/11), pointing out that the drones are killing plenty of Pakistanis, but not the "high-value" ones: CIA drone attacks in Pakistan killed at least 581 militants last year, according to independent estimates. The number of those militants noteworthy enough to appear on a U.S. list of most-wanted terrorists: two. Despite a major escalation in the number of unmanned Predator strikes being carried out under the Obama administration, data from government and independent sources indicate that the number of high-ranking militants being killed as a result has […]

Feb
21
2011

Our Man in Pakistan?

Yesterday the Guardian reported that Raymond Davis, the American held in Pakistan on charges of killing two men last month in Lahore, was working for the CIA. The Davis case has received sustained coverage in the U.S. media and is the subject of intense U.S lobbying. All the while U.S. officials referred to Davis as a "diplomat." Today the New York Times has posted a story on its website catching up with the Guardian. The most notable revelation, though, comes when the Times admits that it knew Davis' status–but obeyed a government request to keep it quiet: The New York […]

Feb
16
2011

Action Alert: Newsweek Downplays Critics of Drone Assassinations

A Newsweek report (2/21/11) looks at the CIA's aerial drone assassination program through the agency's eyes–leaving questions about civilian deaths and the effort's dubious legality for a couple of brief paragraphs at the end. To encourage Newsweek to take critics of the drone program seriously, see FAIR's new Action Alert. Please leave copies of your messages–or comments on the alert–in the comments thread here.

Oct
04
2010

Does Anyone Object to U.S. Drone Wars in Pakistan?

Apparently not, judging by theWashington Post's October 3 story ("Military Drones Aid CIA's mission") about the CIA's expansion of its drone war in Pakistan.It is "part of a high-stakes attempt by the Obama administration to deal decisive blows to Taliban insurgents," and also "a significant evolution of an already controversial targeted killing program." Post readersget details from "a U.S. official"–who says things like, "Our intelligence has gotten a lot better." The only other perspective comes from Bruce Reidel at Brookings, who is "a former CIA analyst who led the Obama administration's initial overhaul of its Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy." In other words, […]

May
27
2010

NYT: Credulous Pakistanis See U.S. as a Menace!

Are Pakistanis more gullible than other people? That's what the New York Times would have you believe. In a front page May 26 article, "U.S. Is a Top Villain in Pakistan's Conspiracy Talk," the Times reports that "Conspiracy theory is a national sport in Pakistan," where "the United States has taken center stage, looming so large in Pakistan's collective imagination that it sometimes seems to be responsible for everything that goes wrong here." As a video sidebar that runs in the Web version of the Times article reports, "In most of the world these conspiracies are the stuff of fringe, […]

Apr
26
2010

Washington Post, or The Onion?

A real headline today (4/26/10) in the Washington Post: Amid Outrage Over Civilian Deaths in Pakistan, CIA Turns to Smaller Missiles The piece–by Joby Warrick and Peter Finn–has government officials (anonymously, of course) providing new assurances: The technological improvements have resulted in more accurate operations that have provoked relatively little public outrage, the officials said…. The CIA declines to publicly discuss its clandestine operations in Pakistan, and a spokesman would not comment on the kinds of weapons the agency is using. But two counterterrorism officials said in interviews that evolving technology and tactics have kept the number of civilian deaths […]

Nov
03
2009

Drone Strikes Change Anonymous Washington Debate

The Los Angeles Times (11/2/09) gives readers a mostly upbeat account about the use of unmanned drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan– weapons that have killed hundreds in Pakistan in recent years. But Times reporter Julian Barnes tells us their popularity with U.S. military officials has "changed the nature of the current policy debate in Washington." The evidence: The technology allows us to project power without vulnerability," said a senior Defense official. "You don't have to deploy as many people. And in the modern age you want as little stuff forward as long as you can achieve the effects as if […]

Aug
18
2009

CBS Re-Airs Drone Propaganda

Back in May, CBS' 60 Minutes aired a terrible report on the Air Force's use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan– see FAIR's action alert for all the details. CBS never responded to the criticism, but they did re-air the segment this past Sunday, without any major changes. To let CBS know how you feel about this one-sided reporting, here's the contact info: CONTACT: CBS 60 Minutes 524 West 57th St. New York, NY 10019 Email: 60m@cbsnews.com Phone: (212) 975-3247

May
18
2009

MSM Blind to Energy Factor in U.S. Wars

In his introduction (TomDispatch, 5/12/09) to Pepe Escobar analyzing the current politics of the Aghanistan/Pakistan region, Tom Engelhardt describes how "there, the skies are filled with planes and unmanned aerial drones, and civilians as well as combatants die every day in increasing numbers as ever more frequent attacks and expanding conflicts make daily headlines." But there's more to the story: Those are, of course, the front-page stories. Energy, especially in the form of oil and natural gas, fuels everything from civilization to its various discontents and means of destruction, and yet it remains largely on the business pages of our […]

May
17
2009

U.S. Media Solution for War: More Wars

Pointing to a May 9 Boston Globe editorial saying that Barack "Obama conveyed the right message last week by hosting Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari" to emphasize "the close link between Pakistan and the anti-Taliban struggle in Afghanistan," before admitting that "U.S. military strikes against militants in both countries inevitably provoke anger and indignation among civilians," Palestine Chronicle editor Ramzy Baroud (5/14/09) notes that "this is as much as most U.S. media… are willing to concede as far as U.S. responsibility in lethal wars, civil strife and militancy in both countries is concerned." Baroud elaborates […]