Friday, March 30, 2007

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed capture spawning irrational exhuberance?

One of my pet peeves about the U.S. media is the continual attempts at sensationalizing and editorializing news. I see this all the times in the choice of headlines and the adjectives that are used both in the headlines as well as the articles themselves. News is supposed to be objective and unbiased.

For the past few weeks, the U.S. media has been gushing about the release of transcripts from the interview of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. One paper claimed that al-Qaeda was seriously weakened by his capture. Other papers were claiming the "mastermind" behind all of the al-Qaeda attacks had been captured. After all, in his "interview" he admitted to planning the 9/11 attack and even personally killing journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan.

I do hope we have dealt al-Qaeda a serious blow to their ability to plan and execute terrorist acts, but I remain skeptical. First, even the 9/11 commission's report summarizes Mohammed as "theatrical" and prone to bragging by casting himself as "a superterrorist". Is his interview providing him with a platform to take credit? Or admit his own actions? It is a known fact that al-Qaeda trains their people to resist interrogation and to provide false information. Often, that false information is provided with the specific intent of throwing us "off track."

I doubt most people would remember the name Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi. al-Libi was a Lybian trainer for al-Qaeda that was captured in the fall of 2001. The U.S. turned him over to the Egyptians for "questioning"; I'm sure that Guantanamo Bay is like a trip to Club Med compared to al-Libi's "interview" with the Egyptians (this is speculation on my part, of course.)

Remember President Bush's speech in 2002 in which he was ramping up support for an invasion of Iraq and he said "We have learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb making, poisons, and gas." This claim was based on information provide by al-Libi. al-Libi claimed that Iraq had offered training to al-Qaeda. He was unable to provide any more information other than "Iraq had offered training and had terrorist training camps."

The Defense Intelligence Agency discredited this intelligence because it was obvious to the analysts that he was intentionally misleading the interviewers. al-Libi even recanted this information in 2004 (of course WAY too late to have prevented a ill-conceived invasion of Iraq). A French / British intelligence agent also reported that al-Libi was highly skilled at withstanding interrogation and hated Saddam Hussein and the secular regime in Iraq. This information may have been provided to help provoke (not that much provocation was necessary) the U.S. in to attacking Iraq and overthrowing the Hussein regime.

The U.S. news outlets (and our political leaders) need to view news and information with a calm, cool head. Sensational reports by the media or speeches by presidents should not be treated as credible. Put your thesaurus away and use clear, concise language when talking to us, the masses. We will get our drama from Law and Order.



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