Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Press Is Getting More Vigilant, But It's Gonna Take More To Rein Bush In

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Glenn Greenwald applauds the recent trend in the MSM toward checking out administration claims, rather than passively repeating them as fact; he links to Ellen Knickmeyer's October piece in the WaPo and this article published today in the LA Times as evidence that the U.S. press is finally beginning to seek out the truth and report it, rather than writing de facto press releases for the government.

In his "surge" speech two weeks ago, the President claimed that "Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops." As a result, he vowed: "We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq." By all accounts, he intends to repeat that accusation and those threats against Iran in his State of the Union speech.

If this were 2003, every front page headline and lead-in to every television news programs would declare: "Iran responsible for attacks on U.S. troops." The more conscientious ones might add the phrase ", the President reveals." But all of the stories would contain one paragraph after the next asserting the administration's claims about Iran as fact, and would include no investigation of those claims or any real contrary assertions. That was government propaganda masquerading as "independent reporting" -- entire stories, day after day, published as fact based on nothing other than the claims of the government ("Bush officials said"; "senior administration officials today disclosed", etc. etc.).

But, at least in some notable places, the opposite is occurring with Bush's provocative Iran claims. ...

But Greenwald notes that the time is past when either aggressive investigative reporting or public opposition -- no matter how strong -- can stop the Bush administration from doing what it is bound and determined to do in the Middle East:

While it is certainly encouraging to see national media outlets subjecting Bush claims to genuine scrutiny, that alone is not going to defuse the grave threat posed by the President's clear intent to confront Iran one way or the other. It is highly doubtful that the administration believes it can roll out some grand marketing campaign for a new war against Iran similar to the one it unleashed for Iraq. That is not what it is attempting here.

Instead, the administration wants to take a more circuitous route to creating a conflict with Iran -- by provoking the Iranians, contriving a pretext for an attack, fostering war-generating miscalculation, etc. These increasingly bellicose accusations against Iran are designed to create and fuel that climate. Exposing the utter falsity of the President's statements regarding Iran is an important and valuable exercise, but it is not sufficient to impede an American attack of some sort on Iran.

The President's desire for war with Iran doesn't depend upon convincing Americans and the Congress as part of some grand debate of the need for a new war. They know they can't achieve that. The plan depends upon the hope (and belief) that nobody and nothing can stop the administration as it finds a way to escalate what we are doing in Iraq until it gradually includes Iran.

The administration and its allies have already begun aggressively asserting that the President does not need Congressional authorization or anything else in order an outright attack on Iran. When it comes to their war plans, they don't care about public opinion anymore. For that reason -- as was amply demonstrated by the President's now already underway "surge" plan -- merely winning the public debate over Iran will not be anywhere near sufficient to impede the President's plans regarding Iran.

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