May 18, 2005--

Newsweek Makes Itself a Heavy Backpack on the Backs of American Military Personnel in the War Against Fanatical, Totalitarian Perverters  of Islam.

            The most recent instance of irresponsibility on the part of the dominant media-- i.e., the current controversy over Newsweek's allegation that interrogators at Gitmo treated the Koran (Quran) with disrespect-- continues to draw attention to common-sense issues about the role of the free press in a struggle between forces of freedom and forces of medieval totalitarian fanaticism.   That such a large portion of the dominant media remains in a state of denial is part of what continues to give the controversy "legs" in the news-cycle.

             The free press is a heavy backpack being carried by our troops.  We recognize that some serving in, and some leading, our military will occasionally make decisions or take actions that unintentionally cause injury or death to innocent people-- that's one of the prices we must pay and risks we must bear in order to have an effective military to protect us from threats to our security.  Similarly, we must also recognize that some serving in, and some leading, our free press will occasionally make decisions or take actions that unintentionally increase the risks of, or cause, death or injury to our troops (or other innocent people)-- that's one of the prices we must pay and risks we must bear in order to have a free press.  (Indeed, virtually all of our military personnel take pride in the fact that they are fighting to preserve freedom that protects the rights of their critics to criticize them.)  But as is the case with mistakes by, or in, the military, that's not the end of the inquiry; rather, it's the beginning.

            When military personnel make split-second decisions that unintentionally lead to the injury or death of fellow soldiers or other innocent persons, our free press (and the rules of the military) demand an inquiry to determine whether such decisions warrant disciplinary or punitive action.  This rule of law within our military is only part of what distinguishes us from the barbaric, fanatical Muslims, whose behavior offends the faith of non-fanatical, modern-thinking Muslims.

            Just as we (and our free press) expect our military to discipline itself and to learn from, and attempt to correct and avoid repeating, such mistakes, we are entitled to expect our free press to engage in serious introspection when its members carelessly or recklessly make decisions that increase dangers to our troops and other innocent people-- especially in light of the fact that in the vast, vast majority of such instances, the media personnel making such decisions had the luxury of doing so without their own lives being at risk on the basis of how, when, and why they made such decisions.

            Why isn't this as obvious to the broad membership of the free press as it is to the rest of us viewing such issues with common sense?  It's because such a large portion of the dominant media in the western free press have lost touch with a number of common-sense principles.  What are they?  First, in the context of issues narrowly confined to the relationship between the government and the governed, common sense dictates that the governed expect the free press to err on the side of too much, rather than too little, criticism of the government.  Second, in the context of a struggle between a free society and forces of medieval, barbaric totalitarianism, common sense makes it foolish for a free press to strive to be "neutral" between such opposing forces.  Third, for the free press to exhibit self-restraint based on a common-sense recognition of the nature of such struggle is neither blind patriotism nor censorship.  Fourth, when members of the free press carelessly or recklessly report information (true or false) in a way that endangers those risking their lives to protect such freedoms, other members of the free press ought to use their free speech to unequivocally condemn, rather than excuse, rationalize or minimize such action.  Fifth, in such instances, those of us among the governed are entitled to discontinue patronizing media organizations that refuse to abide by the preceding principle.

            Finally, what about the anti-Operation-Iraqi-Freedom critics who claim that neither the White House nor the Pentagon is entitled to suggest that Newsweek "ought" to "apologize" for the report at issue "unless" or "until" George W. Bush were to "apologize" for basing his decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom on assertions that Saddam Hussein retained stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and was striving to reconstitute his nuclear-weapons program?  As General Patton would have said, that's "a lot of horse-dung."  Why?  Such argument by such critics is specious for reasons that are (and were as recently as on Nov. 4, 2004) clear to anyone using common sense:  First, in concluding that such Hussein possessed and/or was developing such WMD assets, Bush relied upon what was a strong consensus (rather than views of a dissenting minority) among virtually all western intelligence agencies.  Second, at the time of the decision, Bush correctly reasoned that safety and security lay in erring on the side of relying upon the worst-case consensus rather than minority-view hopes.  Third, if Bush were to have followed the advice of Chirac, Schroeder, Blix and Annan, then by now the sanctions against Saddam Hussein would have ended more than two years ago, Saddam would still be in power and would be free to reconstitute his chemical and biological weapons and resume his nuclear-weapons program without there being any internationally sanctioned "Security Council" rulings to authorize anyone to halt such activities.  Fourth, al Qaeda (and its allies of convenience as well as sympathizers) would have been able to concentrate against targets in the United States and Western Europe all the resources that Operation Iraqi Freedom has forced them to apply in Iraq in an effort to prevent establishment of the first human-rights-respecting democracy in the Arab world.   In other words, the November, 2004, election served as an "Article 32" hearing on Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the "jury" voted in his favor rather than in favor of his accusers.

--Jim Wrenn, Editor at PoliSat.Com.

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May 18, 2005 #01 Daily Update at PoliSat.Com, where satire is always commentary, but commentary isn't always satire

Title:  Heavy Backpack

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