Monday, April 16, 2012

What DC taught me about journalism

I thought I had done good. As a 22-year-old reporter just out of college, I had just gotten the then-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Jay Rockefeller, to admit right into my microphone that while he couldn’t deny the Bush administration was potentially funding covert – and illicit – acts of war against Iran, he wasn’t prepared to do a damn thing about it.

Weeks earlier, in March 2007, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh had reported in The New Yorker that U.S. intelligence officials were telling him that President George W. Bush had authorized support for a lovely little Pakistani terrorist organization called “Jundullah,” or Army of God, to wage a low-level war against the Islamic Republic, from bombing police cadets to assassinating high-ranking military officials. ABC News reported the same thing a month later, noting that U.S. officials said the “the relationship with Jundullah is arranged so that the U.S. provides no funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order or ‘finding’ as well as congressional oversight,” reminiscent of how the Reagan administration had used proxies “to destabilize the government of Nicaragua in the 1980s.”

Read the rest at


  1. Anonymous9:41 AM

    Jon Schwarz's remark about "impotence" shows that even an Ivy like Blackie likes to miss the point. So Congress is "impotent" in Blackie's mind... they still control much, relative to what a plebe prole doofus like me experiences. What kind of "impotence" did Blackie have in mind there? Blackie really thinks the tricameral system and checks&balances are reality, and not just part of the enduring myth of America?

    How old is Blackie anyway? He writes (and thus I infer, thinks) like a college sophomore with a fancy vocabulary and a mild sense of Ivy-derived humor.

  2. Not sure what the "Blackie" thing's about but, uh, I think Jon's well aware that the US government doesn't function quite like how they tell you it does in middle school. That Rockefeller's statement was an example of "congressional impotence" is not to excuse the dear senator, but rather to drive home that point yet again.

  3. Anonymous9:53 AM

    Forgive me for not treating Schwarz like the esteemed intellectual he is, and making light of the English translation of his surname.

    How exactly does calling Billionaire Jay (whose billions derive from his connections and their place in our society) "impotent" serve to "drive the point home again"?

    Not really seeing that as such; seeing it more as evidence of Blackie's supposedly subtle humor that isn't subtle and isn't funny.

    Sorry if he's your bro, bro.

  4. SeanLM3:27 PM

    It is simultaneously possible for Rockefeller to be extremely powerful compared to people like us, and for him and 7 other rich dudes in Congress to be unable to reign in a President, if he even cared to do so (I'm sure he doesn't).

    Maybe "congressional incompetence" is a poor choice of words. Perhaps it's even incoherent, since a good deal of what's going on is voluntary congressional acquiescence and facilitation of warmaking. Still, it underlines the point that even if a Congressional oversight committee cared to, say, oversee something, they basically can't. This point may be banal for you, but there are plenty of people out there who need concrete examples like this to slowly chip away at their real belief in checks and balances or whatever.

  5. Anonymous10:56 AM

    Oxtrot... So edgy...