The Associated Press did something absolutely heinous today, but before that a photographer did something absolutely heinous. Without either one of them, the fiasco of today would never have happened. Today the AP decided to publish a photograph showing a mortally wounded Marine struggling for his life on the battlefield.
they claim high-minded purpose.
NEW YORK — The Associated Press is distributing a photo of a Marine fatally wounded in battle, choosing after a period of reflection to make public an image that conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it.
It’s about money, folks. Pure and simple. The same thing for Julie Jacobson, the photographer who was embedded with the Marines the day that LCpl Bernard was mortally wounded. Let’s see how she justifies this:
Later, when she learned he had died, Jacobson thought about the pictures she had taken.
“To ignore a moment like that simply … would have been wrong. I was recording his impending death, just as I had recorded his life moments before walking the point in the bazaar,” she said. “Death is a part of life and most certainly a part of war. Isn’t that why we’re here? To document for now and for history the events of this war?”
She thought of the pictures she had taken and “$” came to mind immediately. “Jackpot!” her mind screamed instantly. She got paid for that picture, and she will continue to get paid for it for some time, especially after the furor that erupts. What would have been wrong for her was to set aside her money and an imagined chance for a Pulitzer. Such selfishness and what a ridiculous attempt to couch it in ethical terms. Personally, she better hope that she never, ever runs into me or the most lightly she will come off from it will be ringing eardrums. Those poor Marines who saw her pictures later had no idea that she would be part of dishonoring LCpl Bernard’s father’s wishes, against DoD policy.
The young Marine’s father had asked not once, but twice, for the picture of his mortally wounded son not to be whored out for money. But his pleas fell on the deaf ears of whores who heard only the ringing of registers and saw the sparkle of money. In the information age the press is hurting for money, and this was a jackpot.
Bernard’s father after seeing the image of his mortally wounded son said he opposed its publication, saying it was disrespectful to his son’s memory. John Bernard reiterated his viewpoint in a telephone call to the AP on Wednesday.
“We understand Mr. Bernard’s anguish. We believe this image is part of the history of this war. The story and photos are in themselves a respectful treatment and recognition of sacrifice,” said AP senior managing editor John Daniszewski.
I’m going to state right now and unequivocally that I do not want for any pictures of me published that show me in any condition other than upright and breathing normally. All else is punishable by whatever violence I can visit upon you in whatever condition I am in. I want to write the most vile curses I can at this moment in my anger for a man who justifies going against the wishes of the family. I want that man fired, and I want for him to never work in his chosen field ever again. I want that photographer fired, and I want every individual who was in the chain all the way up to Daniszewski fired as well. There is one simple rule; your wishes mean nothing compared to the wishes of the family. Period. They make the sacrifices, not you. Their sacrifices and how they wish them to be dealt with are theirs, and not yours to make whatever statement (along with your money and a name for yourself) you care to claim to be making. I curse all you who were involved with this and I am your sworn enemy for life. I will never forget you and it will never be safe for any of you to be within range of me.
There is also complicit shame for the newspapers and other outlets that were the Johns in this case, paying a little to get the thrill of providing “news.” Bullshit, bullshit and triple bullshit. It’s really hard to convey how pissed off at journalists I am right now.
This week a journalist was overlooked in a briefing that contained some slides marked “secret.” Immediately following the briefing it was realized that not only had she been present, but had taken careful notes. She was asked not to publish any of the information… but that was worth money to her, so she fought tooth and nail over it. What she saw was not a revelation, but to her, it was a scoop. The red letters at the bottom of the slide meant not responsibility to her, but dollars and reputation. It didn’t matter one whit to her about the security of her country, Afghanistan or any other NATO or Coalition country. Not a bit. She wanted to make a name for herself and make some money. Had she been concerned for security, there would have been no question whatsoever… but that wasn’t her attitude. It was all about her, not about anyone else’s needs.
So it’s not just one lousy self-justifying photographer and one grubbing AP manager. No, this is bigger than them. If 95% of journalists in Afghanistan got their hands on the plans for a war-winning operation, it would be in the New York Times the very next morning.
You see, this war is all about them. It’s not about the truth. It’s not about considerations for decency or ethics or honest reporting. Most of them don’t even know what they’re looking at. Most of them don’t care. They look at it through their ignorant eyes and report as if they were children explaining a physics experiment. They don’t know what right looks like, and so everything’s a mess even if it isn’t.
God help your family if they get a shot of you in extremis. God help your father or mother, your wife, brother or sister if they want to protect your dignity and the privacy of your family, because the press itself is just that damned important, and so is their precious money. I don’t care who did it; every single journalist is now dogshit in my book. Every one. I wasn’t too fond of the media whores this morning when I got up, but now I hate every one of the bastards.
Keep the hell away from me. There are only two in this whole country that I want within a mile of me, and neither one of them would dare to take my picture if I was that messed up. They have respect and decency. Make that three. CJ Chivers would probably not do it. The two I know who would not are Scott Kesterson and Michael Yon. The rest, including and especially Julie Jacobson can go straight to Hell. If I was injured and that bitch tried to take my picture, if I had the strength I’d shoot her before I died. We could both explain our actions seconds later to the Almighty.
Profiting from the death of another human being at the expense of that man’s dignity and against the wishes of his own family… hmmmm.
I think I’d soon be on my way to Fiddler’s Green, but she’d be on her way to Hell; and so I’ll end this post with a wish to her and her boss for Godspeed on their way there.
Steven Featherstone’s article, advice “Human quicksand for the U.S. Army, patient a crash course in cultural studies,” in the September, 2008 issue of Harpers Magazine is a much more insightful piece of analysis than anything I’ve seen lately from journalists. Mr. Featherstone embedded with an HTT (Human Terrain Team) in Khost Province, Afghanistan in July, 2007 and came away with a valuable critique of our basic way of functioning in such an environment as Afghanistan.
Mr. Featherstone begins with a quip about what it’s like sitting around an airbase in Kuwait, waiting to fly into country. His depiction of the mental amusement that teams engage in when stuck in a holding pattern is a peek into the world of military teams in travel. You will find discussions and amusements like this in nearly any team (unless it is dysfunctional) in the Army as they transit into a combat zone.
He then launches into an examination of the foreign policy of President Bush and Condoleeza Rice to set the stage for why the U.S. Army is caught in the role of nation-builder.
This militarization of American foreign policy has not been some ad hoc response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. It began long before, and indeed it represents a fundamental realignment in how America deals with the rest of the world. The ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan reveal how unprepared the military has been for its expanded mission, but the State Department has not reasserted itself in response: under Condoleeza Rice, the department has instead reoriented itself toward “transformational diplomacy,” a term she coined in a 2006 speech that outlined her vision of a department “that not only reports about the world as it is but seeks to change the world itself.” ~ Steve Featherstone
The HTT that originally deployed to Khost Province in February, 2007, briefed in Featherstone and the team he was with at FOB Salerno on the morning after Featherstone arrived there. Their in-brief included a detail that is quite significant; that team had originally been given a spce in the S-2 (Intelligence) section. This indicates how difficult it is to incorporate some key additions to counterinsurgency. I’m sure that no one really got buy-in from the brigade commander on whose staff this team found themselves. He put them where, at first blush, they seemed to fit. Wasn’t their job to feed him information on the “human terrain?”
Not really. It’s okay; he figured it out.
That June, the brigade conducted its first major combat maneuver, Operation Maiwand, in neighboring Ghazni province. The HTT went into the field for a month. Because they weren’t tied down by the exacting demands of combat, the team traveled in relative freedom to dozens of villages, holding impromptu shuras, or town meetings, with hundreds of Afghans in an effort to understand how the Taliban influenced the local population. What they discovered would be familiar to anyone who cares to read past the headlines. Taliban support stems from two endemic facts of Afghan life: extreme poverty and lack of security. The United States doesn’t have enough troops in Afghanistan to accomplish much beyond chasing Taliban and Al Qaeda militants from one hiding place to another, to say nothing of securing the country so that a functioning economy can take root.
One Afghan villager Rick spoke to put it more succinctly when asked why his village supported the Taliban. “‘How often do you come here?’” Rick said, paraphrasing the man. “‘Maybe once a year, twice a year? They’re here every other night. Who do I support? Who do I have to support?’” ~ Steve Featherstone
The quote above from the article is so much more important for the understanding of the mission in Afghanistan than most things found in popular journalism today. It is glossed over and forgotten in an article that now lies dormant in Harpers Magazine’s archive. It is not attracting attention, nor is it finding itself into the discussions of what is being cast more and more as a deep mystery that the western mind is incapable of cracking the code to.
Steve Featherstone has found the nut. He has found and articulated the basic block upon which a coherent strategy must be based. There is no doubt in my mind that GEN Petraeus has this figured out, as well as many high-ranking officers in the chain of command that reaches into Afghanistan. Mr. Featherstone has also pointed out the part that sets us up more for failure as much as any other factor; one horse is rigged to a two-horse cart. Great draft horse that it may be, the U.S. Army is not, should not, and may never be capable of comprehensive nation-building.
Mr. Featherstone then goes on to explain the basics of subornation in such an environment;
The team found no evidence of a blanket philosophy, either religious or cultural, that made Afghans sympathetic toward the Taliban. The Taliban bought their support from vulnerable populations, and the exchange took many forms. Young Afghan men earning $250 a year often had to go abroad to earn enough money—up to $10,000—to buy a wife; or they could take bribes from the Taliban to plant bombs. Poor families sent their sons to be educated in Taliban madrasas in Pakistan, and in return received a motorcycle or a cell phone. Orphaned boys were perhaps the cheapest Taliban recruits. An incensed Afghan official in one village presented Tracy with a boy who had wandered into the district governor’s compound a month earlier. The boy wore an explosive vest that the Taliban had told him would burst with flowers and candy, but he didn’t know how to make the vest work. ~ Steve Featherstone
Whoa. There is nothing there detailing generations of tribal rivalries, centuries of mountain redoubt militancy, or indefatigable Pashtun military supremacy. Oddly enough, with a little imagination (very little,) you could change a few words and illustrate the story of how a baby boy born into a poor neighborhood winds up as a lookout or a soldier for crack dealers. It’s not so difficult to understand people; but the first task is to see them as people, not as storybook characters in a Kipling tale.
Steve Featherstone captured that in a mainstream media publication. He analyzed the connection from the Presidential level all the way down to a kid with a suicide vest in Afghanistan, and managed to do it without calling forth Kiplingesque images of all-powerful Pashtun tribesmen slaughtering all who ventured forth.
He also managed to put his finger on the thorn in the side of the Army; my Army; kinetic vs non-kinetic operations in the warrior culture.
Before “culture” the military watchword was “transformation,” a term that was used to signify a leaner and more lethal fighting force—exactly the sort of force that is presently bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2004, Major General (retired) Robert Scales submitted a report on the Iraq War to the House Armed Services Committee titled “Army Transformation: Implications for the Future,” in which he argued that the U.S. military had ignored the war’s “‘cultural’ phase” that began in the spring of 2003. The signal to shift from combat to stability operations wasn’t subtle—Baghdad was being ransacked—but American soldiers and diplomats stood by while looters carted off Iraq’s cultural treasures, an event that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defined as an “untidy” exercise in free will. Recent changes in the military’s top leadership also reflect a belated awareness that we are not fighting Desert Storm II.
Robert Gates, who replaced Rumsfeld as defense secretary in December 2006, acknowledged that after the Vietnam War, “the Army relegated unconventional war to the margins of training, doctrine, and budget priorities,” leaving it “unprepared to deal with the operations that followed” in Afghanistan and Iraq. General David Petraeus was appointed the top commander in Iraq in 2007 based on the perceived success he had achieved with the 101st Airborne in stabilizing Mosul. In a Military Review article he wrote about that experience, Petraeus asserts that “knowledge of the cultural ‘terrain’ can be as important as, and sometimes even more important than, knowledge of the geographic terrain… people are, in many respects, the decisive terrain.” ~ Steve Featherstone
Okay. That makes sense, but it does sound a bit weird. Featherstone follows it up;
All of this attention the military is lavishing on culture, however, threatens to suck Petraeus’s assertion dry of meaning—or, worse, to misapprehend culture as a thing that might be recognized by the latest targeting systems. People are not terrain; they do not behave like landscapes; culture is not a stable environmental feature like a mountain or a river. A closer analogy might be quicksand. It looks solid but it is not. This understanding is proving to be a real challenge for an army that has shown great difficulty in dealing with anything it can’t drive over, blow up, or fit onto a PowerPoint slide in time for the battle-update briefing.
“We’re good at killing people and breaking things,” Fondacaro said when he and I first spoke about the concept of HTT. “That’s what we do best, and that’s what our military decision-making process focuses on.”
The excruciating literalness of the Human Terrain Team’s name is a product of the excruciating rigidity of the system it is designed to change. ~Steve Featherstone
There are a lot of good people out there (in A’stan and Iraq and either returned or on deck waiting to go) who are serious about building a couple of functioning nations. It is their cause, and it makes every bit the impact of the guy who walks the Korengal with an M-4 and the spirit of a tiger. Some may say more. It is not up to me to ascribe who makes more of an impact. What I can tell you is that Steve Featherstone’s article comes so much closer than PBS’s Frontline in actually depicting the challenges of what we are up against in Afghanistan.
There is more;
…But commanders didn’t need yet another piece of hardware, and they felt they were already drowning in information. What they needed, Fondacaro told me, were “expert culturally focused people who understand the operational relevance of cultural knowledge.” ~ Steve Featherstone
Drowning in information. I can tell you that is true. There is so much intel gathered that it is hard to glean that which is pertinent from that which is a distraction. The data stream is wide and deep. Featherstone details the impact that this can have on a commander’s decision-making process and how a different, people-centric view alters that process.
In his first tour of duty in Afghanistan, in 2002, Schweitzer said he had been “focused singularly and myopically on the enemy.” Pashtunwali, or anything else related to Afghan culture, didn’t figure in his battle plan. Even if an HTT had been available five years ago, he wouldn’t have known what to do with it. “I would’ve used it to have a better understanding of the population so I could eliminate them,” he said. “You can do that with the HTT, but that doesn’t win the fight. What wins the fight is not having to shoot folks, is not having to create any kinetic operation, but to win the people through non-kinetic, non-lethal effects. It’s a balance.”
Schweitzer was unequivocal in his support for the HTT. He was conscious of how that might sound to his peers—“whacked,” was how he put it. But he assured me his enthusiasm was grounded in facts. Since February, his brigade had reduced kinetic operations by 60 percent in favor of “non-lethal forms and sets of maneuver,” which had reduced both American and Afghan casualties. ~ Steve Featherstone
“Whacked,” he says. Here is a guy who “gets it” who knows that his peers would see him as “whacked.” That says a lot.
Featherstone goes on to write about a MEDCAP (now called a “Medical Engagement,” in a small unfriendly village in the province. There is no shooting, there are no casualties. This is where the day-to-day work is often done. This is warfighting, too. Unfortunately, it is rare for such visits because of the strength of the forces on the ground. When civilians hear the call for more forces, this is the part that they don’t think of, but it’s this type of operation that has tremendous capability to make an impact on Afghan citizens and it’s not sexy. It doesn’t bleed; so it goes into the archive of the magazine with no fanfare and no snappy production values like the Frontline piece.
Featherstone does a fabulous job not only of getting out there as an embed, but also at actually digesting the information provided to him and presenting it coherently. This is the type of journalist who I wouldn’t mind having to “babysit” while he rides in the back seat of my humvee rolling through the Afghan villages. He would listen and observe and actually have a chance of understanding, rather than focusing on how goofy an ANP may look with sandals or gym shoes on with his ANP gray uniform.
Some of those who ride with Featherstone on that MEDCAP aren’t all the way there, but they are trying. The doctor isn’t all that interested in the Ensign’s picture of his son while he tried to explain the village’s situation, but it did no harm. The same man then goes on to attempt to distribute televisions in a village beset by Taliban who are persecuting villagers for watching television.
These are the small struggles of this war. Featherstone has portrayed the bulk of this war so much more accurately than an entire staff at Frontline, and he does it without being condescending or pointing fingers. He conveyed the situation and an American officer doing his best to make a difference without the benefit of a military establishment that is geared to train him to do so. He is thrown out there to either “get it” or not.
Many do. Many don’t. All are under-resourced, operating in small teams out in the middle of nowhere with little to offer. Televisions are nice, but I can tell you that the doctor was more concerned with security for his clinic and where his medicines would come from next than he was in watching TV. Still, the Ensign is not allowed to bring the doctor medicine. That is supposed to come through his government’s channels; it often doesn’t make it to his level. This is where the war is being lost.
As an aside, I can tell you that the doctor’s thanks, detailing all that the Americans were sacrificing, was heard pretty frequently in Afghanistan. Many Afghans thanked me with the same litany of what I was sacrificing for them; they believed it was for them. It was, in part, but there is so much more to it than that.
Featherstone shows the combination of kinetic and non-kinetic only a few words later;
No amount of cultural analysis was going to help the doctor. Fondacaro agreed. Security was a fundamental need, he said, like food and shelter. Without it, people like the doctor had been forced to make compromises, and all of our American platitudes and encouragement “didn’t mean shit.” Fondacaro leaned back in his chair and laced his fingers behind his head. But we could look at the doctor’s predicament as an opportunity, he said. Everybody in the village knew the guy was getting night letters. If we “nailed” the Taliban one night, that would send a clear message.
“Who’s the audience? The people. If I demonstrate success in protecting this guy’s life against a known threat, and I win . . . ” Fondacaro paused and looked over his shoulder at the empty room. “Audience, what do you think? Everybody’s holding up nines: 9.5, 9.8. It’s simply a decision that’s got to be made.” ~ Steve Featherstone
Featherstone’s article could have been written in the Tag Ab Valley or in Nurguram. Everywhere I went, I saw the same little dramas. That’s what tells me that what he captured was a more accurate “Presidential briefing” than anything done on Frontline or in any other analysis by a journalist.
I’ve pointed out a number of times before that it seems odd to me that the Armed Forces are tasked with attempting to rebuild a society, to include its economy, when that is not what we are good at (read nearly incapable of.) Is America incapable?
America is more than capable. America wants the Army to do it. America doesn’t care enough to think outside the military box and send in those who can do those things. We have them in great numbers, but many of them do not work for the government. I wrote about American businessmen once and told them to take the little flag off of their desks. Perhaps I was too hard on them. The State Department could recruit them, but the businessmen who consider themselves to be patriots could also push from their side; but they are not heeding the call.
Perhaps that is because they don’t hear a call.
Perhaps no one is calling.
Featherstone points up the lack of other hands involved in his closing paragraphs. As opposed to Meo’s drama-filled last paragraphs in his recent ‘analysis,’ Featherstone brings it into focus with no hellishly dramatic cry.
Many have criticized the HTT’s and those who engendered them. To me, the failure in training our Army for the realities of counterinsurgency at ground level are a problem that I, as a soldier, would like to see addressed. The “Strategic Corporal” and the “Strategic Captain” must be trained to be strategic, not just people trained to break things and kill people sent to build, break, and when necessary kill, but to kill appropriately. That is so much harder to do than it sounds.
GEN Petraeus “gets it.” The generals who report to him will either get it or they will wind up doing other things, I’m sure. The question is; do the guys going into the villages get it? Are we training them to get it, or they left up to their own devices? Are we incapable, as an institution, of providing that level of training?
Are we really trying?
These are the issues raised by Featherstone’s reporting. They are incredibly germane. It’s amazing that anything so germane was actually published in a mainstream publication. What isn’t surprising is what little note America took of it. The real truth was right under its nose, but America doesn’t know what to look for and instead lauds Frontline for a dramatic piece of fluff that fails to portray the reality of Afghanistan.
Good job, Steve. I’d have you embed with my team any time.
Nir Rosen’s newest tome in Rolling Stone is all the rage. The first reference to it was from a good friend of this blog, and then a reference on Abu Muqawama. Of course, the title gives away a bit of the theme of the article; but Muqawama described it as a “must read,” so I did.
I did not share his enthusiasm.
While Dave Dilegge panned Rosen’s article due to an objection to journalists embedding with insurgents, my disappointment was with the content. In reading it, I wondered what Abu Muqawama would have found attractive about it, and further wondered about the esteem in which AM seemed to hold Rosen himself.
Being unfamiliar with Rosen, I decided to look into his writings. I found that this article was consistent with his previous work.
I must say that Rosen has nerve. He also showed courage in not screaming like a little girl as he nearly suffered the result of extremely poor judgment. It appears that Rosen’s “watch me embed with these insurgents” trick has become his signature move. Abu Muqawama is excited by this as a social scientist, which is the reason for his approval.
My sense of Rosen’s article is that he endangered his life for very little, other than a sensational stunt. Yes, he got to meet real live Taliban. So have I. In as far as developing a real sense for what is going on in Afghanistan, or even in Ghazni Province, I feel that his mission was a failure. As an IO tool for the Taliban, his article was a success. This, I believe, was not the result of his being duped, but suited his purposes as well. I’ll get to that.
In the meantime, Rosen’s presentation of Afghanistan leaves a lot to be desired. Not having been to the “Green Zone” myself, I contend that Kabul is not some immense Green Zone in itself. I also contend with a number of his other assertions.
Rosen’s misrepresentation of the number of civilians killed by NATO action has been well documented elsewhere. While it is not something on which I will focus, because I don’t have to, it does indicate either sloppy journalism or an intentional slanting of facts in order to make a point.
Nir Rosen’s experience of Afghanistan and of the Taliban during this “embed” was extremely limited. He does not demonstrate a greater knowledge of either Afghanistan or its issues beyond the few meters that he could see through the dust-covered windows of the Corolla in which rode. His depiction of the Kabul-Kandahar road as the only major route of its type in the country was patently untrue, for instance.
When first presenting in an Afghan village which was unfamiliar, we would meet the “village leadership.” After more visits, we would find ourselves sitting down with the real village leadership. Afghans often present lower level leaders to outsiders. Leaders? Yes. Senior leaders? Not so much. Not yet. I think the same thing happened to Nir Rosen; based on the way that his handlers were treated by real senior Taliban leadership.
There have been other inconsistencies pointed out; like how Rosen was free to text away madly while his hosts dickered amongst each other regarding his fate. It has been pointed out that he never really embedded with the Taliban, most of his adventure being spent in wondering if he was to be tried by a Taliban judge instead of doing or observing anything operational at all.
His descriptions about the ascendancy of the Taliban were entirely based upon his hosts’ claims. While they were not confronted by any ANSF or coalition forces, I think that it would be a surprise to TF Currahee to know that they were irrelevant to their Area of Operations. I am not surprised by the ability of the Taliban to drive on the roads, to move about Kabul, to walk about their own villages. I would point, once again, to the video shot in the Tag Ab Vally by Al Jazeera showing Taliban walking freely in a village in the Tag Ab being greeted by townspeople. When the ANP and I walked those same paths, we were greeted similarly.
The unarmed often greet the armed with deference.
The Al Jazeera footage was clearly propaganda. The Taliban there claimed control, and I’m here to tell you that they had control of that village for exactly as long as they were there. We often walked about uncontested in the village they were in that day. Their bold statements notwithstanding, those days they were not so bold. They frequently chose not to exert their “control” over the area when we were present.
One thing that Rosen was correct in repeating from the Taliban is that very often the ANP are not viewed very highly by the people. I saw this firsthand. The Police often shake down citizens. While I was there, their excuse often had to do with their pay. Raising their pay to be on par with the ANA’s pay was supposed to help address this problem.
The only value in Rosen’s article was the behavior that he documented. The “changes in attitude” by the Taliban, designed to make them seem more palatable to westerners, are not likely due to some kind of eye-opening change of beliefs; but an attitude of expedience and a demonstration of the dilution of the movement’s moral base. As for his parroting of Taliban memes, there is no great surprise there. Mir Rosen disclosed plenty to me in this statement;
So Afghanistan now is the good war. He (Obama) needs to prove, as a Democrat, that he too can kill brown people. I think that’s what it comes down to, that we’re not weak; we can kill foreigners, too.
Brown people? Killing brown people. Uhhhh… okay, Nir; sure. Bent much? I mean, that’s making your agenda pretty clear. In Nir Rosen’s eyes, we can’t do anything right. We are only there to “kill brown people.”
How arrogantly insulting to those of us who have been there.
While Abu Muqawama finds all of this to be exciting, I find it to be unacceptable. Becoming part of the Taliban IO in a widely-read magazine like Rolling Stone is just beyond uncool. Andrew Exum (Abu Muqawama) may be a social scientist who is unimpeded by Rosen’s slanted journalism, but most Rolling Stone readers are not. What Exum finds to be a heady jaunt into the minds of a few Taliban, others will find to be a first-person account of Taliban primacy in Afghanistan. Rosen simply does not have the experience upon which to base such conclusions. Half-baked investigative journalism filled with misrepresented numbers about civilian casualties and piped-in Taliban IO doesn’t make for an exercise in responsible journalism.
Personally, I don’t think that it was intended to be.