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Entries in Washington Post (68)


Iran Special: How To Create an "Iranian Threat in Iraq" Story (Hat Tip: Washington Post)

"Iran Threat" stories are far from rare. The articles on Tehran and the Bomb have the highest profile, but those on Iranian subversion and support of terrorism are also prominent.

But what happens if you dig into these headline stories? Are they real or do they become "real" because of the narratives and beliefs --- reporters, editors, unnamed current and former officials, and "experts" --- of those creating them?

On 18 January, The Washington Post prominently featured a story with the eye-catching headline, "Iranian-backed Militant Group in Iraq is Recasting Itself as a Political Player".

The opening paragraph was no less sensational...

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US Feature: Justice Department --- Yes, We Can Kill American Citizens Overseas with Drones (NBC and DeYoung)

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Rachel Maddow features the Justice Department paper, "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen"

The United States can lawfully kill a U.S. citizen overseas if it determines the target is a “senior, operational leader” of al-Qaeda or an associated group and poses an imminent threat to the United States, according to a Justice Department document.

The document defines “imminent threat” expansively, saying it does not have to be based on intelligence about a specific attack since such actions are being “continually” planned by al-Qaeda. “In this context,” it says, “imminence must incorporate considerations of the relevant window of opportunity” as well as possible collateral damage to civilians.

It says that such determinations can be made by an “informed, high-level official of the U.S. government.”

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Syria 1st-Hand: Aleppo --- Hunger, Disease, & Little Hope (Sly)

Before the War --- Protest at Aleppo University, May 2011

Some blame the Free Syrian Army for starting a fight it couldn’t finish. Others blame the government for steadily escalating the use of force to try to crush the rebels. Many, like Awuf, blame both. “We are civilians trapped between the two sides, and they are using us like wood on a fire,” he said. “Both sides are wrong.”

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Yemen Feature: Covering Up the Civilian Deaths from a US Drone Attack (Raghavan)

Funeral in Dhamar, Yemen, after a US drone strike, September 2012 (Photo: Mohamed Mohamed/Xinhua)

More than three months later, the incident in Radda offers a window into the Yemeni government’s efforts to conceal Washington’s mistakes and the unintended consequences of civilian deaths in American air assaults. In this case, the deaths have bolstered the popularity of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist network’s Yemen affiliate, which has tried to stage attacks on U.S. soil several times.

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US Feature: General Petraeus and the Kagans --- How "Private Analysts" Become "De Facto Military Advisors"

Kimberly Kagan backs increased US military forces in Afghanistan, June 2010: "We can reverse the Taliban's momentum"

Petraeus allowed his biographer-turned-paramour, Paula Broadwell, to read sensitive documents and accompany him on trips. But the entree granted the Kagans, whose think-tank work has been embraced by Republican politicians, went even further. The four-star general made the Kagans de facto senior advisers, a status that afforded them numerous private meetings in his office, priority travel across the war zone and the ability to read highly secretive transcripts of intercepted Taliban communications, according to current and former senior U.S. military and civilian officials who served in the headquarters at the time.

The Kagans used those privileges to advocate substantive changes in the U.S. war plan, including a harder-edged approach than some U.S. officers advocated in combating the Haqqani network, a Taliban faction in eastern Afghanistan, the officials said.

The pro-bono relationship, which is now being scrutinized by military lawyers, yielded valuable benefits for the general and the couple.

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US Feature: Obama's Man Writing the "Playbook" for the "War on Terror" (DeYoung)

John Brennan & Barack Obama (Pete Souza/White House)In his windowless White House office, presidential counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan is compiling the rules for a war the Obama administration believes will far outlast its own time in office, whether that is just a few more months or four more years.

The “playbook,” as Brennan calls it, will lay out the administration’s evolving procedures for the targeted killings that have come to define its fight against al-Qaeda and its affiliates. It will cover the selection and approval of targets from the "disposition matrix", the designation of who should pull the trigger when a killing is warranted, and the legal authorities the administration thinks sanction its actions in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond.

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US Feature: Obama Administration Plans to Expand Its "Kill List" (Miller)

Scene of a US drone strike in Afghanistan (Photo: EPA)

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”

The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.

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Pakistan to Yemen to North Africa Feature: The CIA Seeks More Drones

Protest in Pakistan earlier this month against US drone strikes

The CIA is urging the White House to approve a significant expansion of the agency’s fleet of armed drones, a move that would extend the spy service’s decade-long transformation into a paramilitary force, U.S. officials said.

The proposal by CIA Director David H. Petraeus would bolster the agency’s ability to sustain its campaigns of lethal strikes in Pakistan and Yemen and enable it, if directed, to shift aircraft to emerging al-Qaeda threats in North Africa or other trouble spots, officials said.

If approved, the CIA could add as many as 10 drones, the officials said, to an inventory that has ranged between 30 and 35 over the past few years.

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Iran Interview and Analysis: Ahmadinejad's Show Begins with Washington Post --- An Easy Ride on Nukes, And Nothing on Human Rights

An extract from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's interview with Piers Morgan of CNN

Perhaps most striking is the Washington Post interview is the lack of concern with any developments inside Iran, and thus any consideration that these may be linked to the Islamic Republic's foreign policy. There is nothing here on the economic situation, nothing on the political manoeuvring within the system, nothing about the 2013 Presidential election, and --- perhaps inevitably --- nothing about the post-2009 repression and human rights.

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Syria Feature: The Insurgents Test Self-Government (Daragahi)

Opposition demonstration in Souran, 7 September 2012

The leaders of the council governing Souran, a town in rebel-controlled Syria, decide to hold an impromptu meeting right on the footpath along its main street, a gesture of open government that would impress Canada or Sweden.

They draw together some plastic chairs and a table, pour tea and, as pedestrians listen in, explain the workings of the government they have set up to replace the Baath Party and the security officials who ran the region with an iron fist under President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

“This is a new thing for us,” says Faez Hamsho, a businessman and one of 11 members of the town’s governing council. “But when Bashar’s men fled, we had to solve the day-to-day problems of the area.”

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