Breaking from Saudi Arabia!!! Two Month Old Misleading News
Marcy Wheeler, Emptywheel, Aug 20 2016
This Reuters exclusive is getting a lot of careless attention. Here’s what a careless reader learns:
EXCLUSIVE: PINDOSTAN WITHDRAWS STAFF FROM SAUDI ARABIA DEDICATED TO YEMEN PLANNING
From that headline, particularly the use of the present tense, you might assume that Pindostan is in the process of withdrawing its Yemen-related staff from Saudi Arabia, perhaps in response to the Saudi war crimes earlier this week. But here’s what the story actually reports: the staff withdrawal happened in June, and was in no way a response to this week’s war crimes.
The June staff withdrawal, which Pindo boxtops say followed a lull in air strikes in Yemen earlier this year, reduces (sic) Washington’s day-to-day involvement in advising a campaign that has come under increasing scrutiny for causing civilian casualties.
In spite of the fact that this “exclusive,” which has since been reported by other outlets with similarly misleading headlines, describes two-month-old news, it nevertheless obscures that fact with its editorial choices, as here where it suggests the move “reduces,” in present tense, staff numbers, or the headline which hides that, in fact, Pindostan already withdrew these staffers. In fact, the report goes on to admit that this was not a response (which would have required a time machine in any case).
Pindo boxtops, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the reduced staffing was not due to the growing international outcry over civilian casualties in the 16-month civil war that has killed more than 6,500 people in Yemen, about half of them civilians. But the Pentagon, in some of its strongest language yet, also acknowledged concerns about the conflict, which has brought Yemen close to famine and cost more than $14b in damage to infrastructure and economic losses. “Even as we assist the Saudis regarding their territorial integrity, it does not mean that we will refrain from expressing our concern about the war in Yemen and how it has been waged,” Stump said.
I’d also suggest that reports about what non-uniformed Pindosi personnel are doing in Yemen’s immediate neighborhood would be a better gauge of the support we’re giving the Toads beyond refuelling their aistrikes, the latter of which have not stopped at all. It’s not until the last line two paragraphs of the story that we learn what this misleading news is really about:
Rep Ted Lieu (D-Cal), a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, said he believed such strikes could help galvanize votes for limiting arms transfers to the Toads. “When its repeated air strikes that have now killed children, doctors, newlyweds, patients, at some point you just have to say: Either the Toads are not listening to Pindostan, or they just don’t care,” Lieu said.
Not long ago, Pindostan announced $1.5b in new arms sales to the Toads. Congress has a narrow window to affirmatively veto that sale, and people like Ted Lieu and Rand Paul and Chris Murphy are trying to do just that. The arms sale was announced such that Congress has just one day after they come back in session to reject the transfer. Stories like this, suggesting that Pindostan is not as involved in this war as it really is, will make the task all the more difficult. The reality remains that Pindostan, even the overt uniformed operations, continues to provide key support to the Toads’ war, and therefore their war crimes. Selling them more arms in the wake of these most recent war crimes only doubles down on the complicity.