The Columbia Critic

A place to debate anything we want to. We'll talk Columbia campus issues. We'll talk up the homosexual problem. We'll talk China. And we'll talk without resorting to partisan rhetoric. We may be left. We may be right. But we aren't going to be quoting any party line. We're leading the discussion. But feel free to chime in. Hannity and Colmes this is not.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Media Restraint?

Brian Ross and Richard Esposito of CBS News' "The Blotter" have reported that President George W. Bush authorized the CIA to engage in non-lethal destabilizing efforts within the Iranian government. They report that the plan involves "a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions".

Although I have always defended the media as having a Constitutional duty to serve as a checks and balances system against the government, this one made me raise my brow. When it was revealed that the Bush administration had actively engaged in the use of warrantless wiring tapping of our communication systems, I was glad that someone within the government blew the whistle. Someone thought, hey, this is wrong, and the media told us about it.

In 1991, current Deputy National Security Advisor, Elliott Abrams, pleaded guilty to witholding information in regards to the Reagan administration's destabilization efforts during Iran-Contra within the Nicaraguan Sandinista government. Again, giving weapons to the Contras, who were known drug traffickers, for hostages, was a bad idea. (It's kind of funny in a way, that National Security Adviser, Robert McFarlane got Reagan's approval while Reagan was in a hospital bed recovering from cancer surgery, in the same way that Alberto Gonzalez went to John Ashcroft's hospital bed to ask him to override the Justice Department and reauthorize the domestic wiretapping program).

However, this story about modern day Iran feels different. Let us pretend for a minute that Iran was oblivious to America's meddling. America is now a lot more unsafe now that the "covert action" has been caught with its pants down. Let's be honest, Iranian President Ahmednejad is not someone who has been entirely consistent and who even the most far-left "liberal" would not trust. One day he is claiming he is developing a nuclear program ONLY for energy, the next day he is making power posturing and flaunting his indigence to well meaning nuclear oversight. Is it too much of a stretch to be hesitant of trusting a President that publicly states that he wants to blow Israel off of the map, with nuclear weapons? If he didn't know before, now Ahmednejad knows we have been actively trying to derail his government. The repercussions, given America's spread out military, is unnerving and scary. This is one of those times when I think the media, could have shown some restraint in releasing this story.

They could have waited until Iran figured it out and made an angry statement on TV. Then the media could have piled on about how stupid it was to try and destabilize Iran which is represented by someone who you could refer to as a "slam-dunk" of a threat to the US. Which is more worth it, exposing another ill thought out Bush plan, or having a severely pissed off Iranian leader who gives updates on his nuclear capabilities like he was a weather man?

"I think everybody in the region knows that there is a proxy war already afoot with the United States supporting anti-Iranian elements in the region as well as opposition groups within Iran... And this covert action is now being escalated by the new U.S. directive, and that can very quickly lead to Iranian retaliation and a cycle of escalation can follow,"- Vali Nasr, adjunct senior fellow for Mideast studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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