30 November 2010

Politics in America: Craven Press, Credulous Public

I want to call attention to two columns that Glenn Greenwald has posted at Salon.com in the past few days. The first is on the putative terrorist attack 'foiled' by the FBI in Portland, Oregon last week; the second is on the reaction to the Wikileaks document dump this weekend. In both offerings Greenwald rightly focuses in on the credulousness of the public and the cravenness of the mainstream press in the face of assertions made by government officials.

Here are some of the good bits from Greenwald's response to reaction to the alleged terrorist plot:

"Media accounts are almost uniformly trumpeting this event exactly as the FBI describes it. Loyalists of both parties are doing the same, with Democratic Party commentators proclaiming that this proves how great and effective Democrats are at stopping The Evil Terrorists, while right-wing polemicists point to this arrest as yet more proof that those menacing Muslims sure are violent and dangerous.

What's missing from all of these celebrations is an iota of questioning or skepticism. All of the information about this episode -- all of it -- comes exclusively from an FBI affidavit filed in connection with a Criminal Complaint against Mohamud. As shocking and upsetting as this may be to some, FBI claims are sometimes one-sided, unreliable and even untrue, especially when such claims -- as here -- are uncorroborated and unexamined.That's why we have what we call "trials" before assuming guilt or even before believing that we know what happened: because the government doesn't always tell the complete truth, because they often skew reality, because things often look much different once the accused is permitted to present his own facts and subject the government's claims to scrutiny. [ . . . ]

It may very well be that the FBI successfully and within legal limits arrested a dangerous criminal intent on carrying out a serious Terrorist plot that would have killed many innocent people, in which case they deserve praise. [ . . . ]

But it may also just as easily be the case that the FBI -- as they've done many times in the past -- found some very young, impressionable, disaffected, hapless, aimless, inept loner; created a plot it then persuaded/manipulated/entrapped him to join, essentially turning him into a Terrorist; and then patted itself on the back once it arrested him for having thwarted a "Terrorist plot" which, from start to finish, was entirely the FBI's own concoction."

His column on Wikileaks is less easy to summarize because its targets are more diffuse. In it he excoriates the press for its servility and various commentators for their hypocrisy and callousness. The ultimate focus is on how Americans seem to be wholly unable to think critically in the face of government duplicity and dissembling.

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Blogger Stan B. said...

They seemed to go the extra step this time to convince possible doubters, divulging how they asked him if he "really" wanted to do the deed, and how they waited till he pressed the button twice to arrest him.

30 November, 2010 13:11  

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