Looking over some of the most recent entries on the ThinkProgress Security blog, posts by neoconservative "Israel-Firster" witch-hunt targets Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, along with associate Ben Armbruster, demonstrate the unfortunate victory of Josh Block's disgusting smear campaign. First, Zaid Jilani (the best guy TP ever had) leaves the organization. Now, the remaining bloggers (or, perhaps, just their editors) are doing their best to prove their fealty to the Democratic Party's hero-worship of Barack Obama (or simply opposing the GOP) by burnishing Obama's appalling credentials and have adopted somewhat ambiguous language that seems designed to pass the Josh Block/Jamie Kirchick/Jennifer Rubin smell test.
On Tuesday, Clifton wrote a piece fact-checking something Gingrich said during a recent debate in order to counter what Clifton called the Republican "smear" that Obama is "hostile to the Jewish state." The next day, in a piece purportedly "fact-checking" an AP "Fact-Check" of last night's State of the Union address, Ali Gharib praises Obama's "diplomatic" efforts against "Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program." He dismisses Russian skepticism over the suspicions regarding the Iranian nuclear program - which is fully monitored by the IAEA - by citing the heavily-politicized and widely-acknowledged-to-be-alarmist (and, at times, totally speculative, dubious, and flat-out wrong) IAEA report from last November (without doing any fact-checking of his own), claiming "the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency concluded in its latest report: 'While some of the activities identified…have civilian as well as military applications, others are specific to nuclear weapons.'"
In his posts about Iran, Gharib often includes some sort of variation on the following statement: "In June 2010 the Obama administration spearheaded an effort to pass Security Council sanctions against Iran's nuclear program that have proven effective in slowing its progress."
Gharib concluded his piece claiming that "[w]hile the AP's assertion that the world does not stand perfectly in line against Irans nuclear weapons holds some water, it's understatement of U.S.-led international pressure and actions against Iran ignores the robust progress that’s been made since Obama took office." When his sloppy use of "nuclear weapons" was pointed out on Twitter, the post was altered to read "against Iran's nuclear program" instead.
Here's the original:
After editing (with no formal correction):
The same day, Armbruster reported on an interaction Newt Gingrich had with a protester on the campaign trail in Florida. The protester essentially asked if Gingrich planned on starting a war with Iran. In his report, Armbruster includes this paragraph (which seems boilerplate for any TP Iran post these days):
IAEA director general Yukiya Amano recently issued a warning about Iran's nuclear program. "What we know suggests the development of nuclear weapons," he said. And the U.N. nuclear watchdog is heading to Iran at the end of the month to seek answers on its nuclear program’s military dimension.He then went on to write, "While Iran's nuclear program is a serious concern, Republicans on the campaign trail, including Gingrich, focus on war, rather than diplomacy, to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."
In yet another post Wednesday, Armbruster wrote about the recent Navy SEAL raid on Somali pirates and "highlights the president's success in the face of threats to the security of the U.S. and its allies." He cites "some examples" over the past few years, including:
– TAKING OUT TERRORISTS: In addition to ordering the raids that killed bin Laden and al Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Alwaki, dozens of high level terrorists have been taken out under President Obama’s watch.So, Israelis murder Egyptian soldiers and the hero of the story is Obama who "saves" Israeli diplomats? Also, more than ever, TP bloggers are referring to Israel as "the Jewish State." Gone is the truth-telling about the Iranian nuclear program; gone is the even cursory criticism of a colonial apartheid state. Clearly, CAP has been kowtowed.
– ISRAEL'S CAIRO EMBASSY: Last September, demonstrators in Cairo, Egypt ransacked the Israeli embassy calling for the Jewish state’s ambassador to be expelled after Israeli security forces killed Egyptian soldiers. President Obama intervened with U.S. assets to assist in evacuating the Israeli embassy staff. "I would like to express my gratitude to the President of the United States, Barack Obama," Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said in a subsequent statement. "I asked for his help. This was a decisive and fateful moment. He said, 'I will do everything I can.' And so he did."
UPDATE: Phil Weiss notes another disturbing instance of post-scrubbing over at ThinkProgress Security today. Apparently, stating facts about Israeli connections to the Islamophobic Clarion Fund isn't kosher anymore, according to TP's editors.
What makes this all the more disheartening and disturbing is that this shift comes at a time when the mainstream media (namely the NYT and WashPo) have had to own up to their misleading statements about Iran and public criticism (or, at least, awareness) of the United States' bizarre and obsequious relationship with Israel is becoming less and less taboo. Beyond that, honest voices are even more important now, with warmongering about Iran reaching a fever pitch. That excellent reporters would cast aside the critical work they've done at LobeLog in order to stay on the "respectable" side of "serious" journalism is sad. Perhaps, of course, the TP editors are to blame, in which case the censorship is shameful and dishonest. Whereas the bloggers of TP were once on the cutting edge of mainstream dissenting discourse, Blockgate seems to have scared them into adherence with approved Beltway speak.
UPDATE II: In a new post about recent comments made by Joint Chiefs chairman General Martin Dempsey, published this afternoon at 2:30pm, Ali Gharib commendably includes a vital piece of information that had recently been missing from previous ThinkProgress reports.
After quoting Dempsey as telling the National Journal that he "think[s] that it's premature to be deciding that the economic and diplomatic approach [on Iran] is inadequate," thereby pushing back against recent calls for military action, Gharib notes,
Neither the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency nor the most recent reported estimate of the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Iran has made a decision to build a nuclear bomb. And Haaretz reported last week that Israeli intelligence concurs with this view.Hopefully this kind of vital information and context will continue to make it into TP posts. I would be absolutely thrilled to have spoken too soon. Especially because I respect the work of Gharib and Clifton tremendously.